All the things

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How do you blog about things that you can’t photograph or even really talk about? That’s the question I’ve been mulling for the last two weeks, and I’m not sure I’ve totally figured it out. I am knitting away over here, casting on new things and finishing others, and I can’t yet tell you about any of them! (Though, if you’re on Ravelry, you can obviously check them out on my project page…) In the meantime, here’s what all of that knitting looks like clustered on our mantle.

November is such a dark month.

November is such a dark month.

I am knitting away, and at least one of these projects I can actually show you (and will! later this week). After that, I do have a plan to carry this blog through until I start knitting things I can properly show off. As part of that, is there anything you’d like to see here (besides holiday spoilers, of course)? Let me know and I’ll see what I can do!

Dressing up

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For a while now I’ve been wanting to incorporate more skirts and dresses into my regular wardrobe. I don’t work in a fancy office, so there’s no pressure to dress up (just as well, really, since I’ll probably always jeans and a t-shirt best), but it’s nice to have options in the morning, and to change things up, so I’ve been working on it. I am not a big shopper, so when it comes to new clothes these days a lot of enters my closet is handmade, so more skirts and dresses means making more skirts and dresses.

I don't know if you can tell, but I'm freezing in this picture.

I don’t know if you can tell, but I’m freezing in this picture. I also really need a haircut. Oof.

All of which brings me to my most recent sewing project. I sewed another Endless Summer Tunic, but this time added another two inches to the length and put in the pockets. I used Liberty Lawn in Lauren’s Leaf (my LYS started carrying Liberty earlier this year and I had a gift certificate burning a hole in my pocket, so…) and wow, what a delightful experience start to finish.

I love this print so much.

I love this print so much.

 

I’m sure it helped that I’d sewn the pattern before, and I was definitely way, way more patient this time around, including when I put on the almost-finished dress and discovered that the fit in the back was all wrong. I ended up ripping out the seam at the back yoke and taking two inches off the top of the back piece, which has fixed the issue (I think I need to narrow the shoulders a little next time, but it’s nothing I can’t live with).

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It might seem like a strange choice to sew a sleeveless dress just as the weather is starting to cool, but there was a method to my madness. First, that the lawn is a lightweight fabric, so this will be wearable year-round; second, that the loose shape will easily allow for leggings underneath as it gets colder; and third, that my office is pretty warm and I’m a big fan of cardigans. Basically, I wear t-shirts all year round, and I’m not sure that extra little cap of fabric offers up that much extra warmth (we’ll see what I say in January, I guess).

We photographed my mitts at the same time, and when I was looking through the photos I realized I'd never posted a photo of my Flukra in action. So here it is!

We photographed my mitts at the same time, and when I was looking through the photos I realized I’d never posted a photo of my Flukra in action. So here it is!

I think I’m just about ready to try actual fitted dresses now. I’m debating whether to try the very popular Emery Dress (which has darts, which I’m more or less familiar with — I’d skip the collar and bow, though) or the Hepworth Dress (which has princess seams, which I’ve never sewn, but so what?). This isn’t really a pressing decision, since my sewing time is limited, what will all the holiday knitting I have going on, but still. It’s fun to have projects to dream about. Also on my (dream) list is a second New Girl skirt, but with a different pattern at the bottom — I wear my blue one a ton, so I know a second would get lots of action.

Am I alone in my urge to mix things up with skirts and dresses? I know this feels a little out of left field to me, but maybe it’s part of a broader culture shift I haven’t been conscious of? What other patterns (knitting and sewing) should I be dreaming about?

Warm hands

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Without fail, there are a few weeks every fall and every spring when I wish I had fingerless mitts. I kick myself for not knitting them sooner, I swear that next time it will be different, I plan for them to be the next article I cast on, and then the weather either gets cold enough for full-on mittens or warm enough to forego them entirely and they never get knit.

The pattern is mirrored on the other mitt, which is one of those design details I'll always appreciate.

The pattern is mirrored on the other mitt, which is one of those design details I’ll always appreciate.

Last year I whipped up a speedy pair of Camp Out Fingerless Mitts, wore them camping, where they got very dirty and slightly felted, and swore to myself I’d replace them (I mean, the whole pair only took a few hours to knit, so no big deal, right?). Yeah, I never replaced them, even though I thought about it over the winter, and then again in the spring, and once or twice in the summer. A few weeks ago, though, the temperature here dropped and my hands were cold, and I was in a restless place with my knitting, and I decided it was was time. I looked through my many knitting books, and through my many (many) favourited patterns, trying to decide on a pair. It’s fall, so the weather is getting colder (unlike spring, when it’s getting warmer), so I decided that the mitts I’d been planning to knit probably weren’t the best choice right now (in March, though, I swear I’m going to knit them and be ready for spring!).

Then I remembered that last year, when I reviewed Audry’s book, I did so with the full intention of casting on the Motoring Madness mitts more-or-less immediately. I even had the right yarn (The Fibre Company’s Acadia) in my stash, all wound up and ready to go! That pretty much settled it. I finished the first mitt in an afternoon (minus the thumb), and even though it took me the rest of the week to knit the other mitt and two thumbs, they’ve been seeing lots of wear since finished them (a little over a week ago now).

Knit in The Fibre Company's Acadia, in the Douglas Fir colourway.

Knit in The Fibre Company’s Acadia, in the Douglas Fir colourway.

I modified the pattern a little (you can see all the details here on Ravelry), but really only for length, since I wanted a longer cuff and I also have long hands (and, lets face it, probably knit these at a tighter gauge than written, despite going up a needle size). I love how well this colour goes with my array of navy blue jackets, and also that the pattern is interesting and pretty without being too loud/likely to snag on things. I’m also really impressed by how well the yarn is holding up. I thought the alpaca might cause pilling or fuzzing (you should see the state of my Hodgepodge mittens, which are very warm, but also absurdly fuzzy), but I haven’t had any problems at all, which makes me really want to knit something larger with Acadia. I have two more skeins in this colourway, so I was thinking of knitting a matching cowl or something — what to do you think?

Hot pink socks

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I finished these the same weekend as Stasis, but they are impossible to photograph! This colour (Espadrilles, by Madelinetosh) is definitely not what I usually go for, but it’s fun and bright and very well suited to this pattern — Betula Socks, by Rachel Coopey, whose designs are so reliably excellent and fun I will happily continue to knit them up as long as she continues to publish them.

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These were on my needles for a while. I cast on before going to California, knit them on the plane there and during our time in San Francisco, before putting them down to finish my Skyp socks. I blame the lag for the reason they are not quite the same size: Despite knitting them with the same skein of yarn on the same pair of needles, one sock is slightly larger than the other, in both length and width. Maybe I knit one while relaxed and another while tense? Who knows. The difference isn’t enough to really bother me, but it is a little funny.

Details
Pattern: Betula Socks by Rachel Coopey
Yarn: Tosh Sock in Espadrilles
Needles: 2.5mm
Notes: I tend to choose my size based on the number of stitches cast-on. With these socks, though, the majority of the rounds actually have additional stitches (because of the stitch pattern), so they fit a little big. If I were to knit them again, I would probably go down a size. I’d also be tempted to mirror the charts across the socks, but it’s kind of fun that they’re designed to be matching-yet-fraternal. Ravelled here.

Since these were finished in September, they don’t count for Socktober, but I have big sock plans for this month. I have a pair of plain socks on my needles at the moment, which are likely to become background knitting as I dive into my holiday-related projects. But, since those include socks, if all goes according to plan I should get a couple of pairs knit this month — updates to come (promise!)

Baby Boom

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The last two winters have seen two separate friends have twin boys. This winter, there are two more babies coming, but to two different friends, and they’re both girls! My cousin is due with her first baby in January and then our good friends Sam and Carmen (for whom I knit these mittens way back when) are expecting their first baby in February. Both of those babies aren’t due for a while, but since Christmas is coming, starting some baby sweaters now just made sense.

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First up, another Sunnyside! I’ve knit this twice now, and I’m pretty sure I’ll knit it again. I’m knitting this pretty much as written, but with all the cables mirrored — mirrored across the button bands and down the raglan lines. I also miscounted when I started doing the second cable, so these are a little tighter than written (every six rounds rather than every eight), which makes them a bit ropier.

I’m also knitting a wee Envelop, which is one of the most fun and clever patterns I’ve ever knit. It’s nothing crazy, but it’s fun to watch it all come together. I’m just about to knit the right arm, but I’m debating about the size. Despite going up in yarn weight (I’m using DK instead of sport-weight) and needle size, my gauge is smaller than the pattern’s. I added some extra rows to the yoke area, but right now, pre-blocking, the chest circumference is about 16 inches. I’m planning this for a newborn, so that seems like it should be big enough, but I’m not sure and don’t have a baby nearby to measure — what do you think? Keep going or rip back and reknit on a larger needle?

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When I planned these projects, I didn’t know that both my cousin and our friends were expecting girls, so I planned for unisex garments. These are both first babies, so I think it makes sense to make things that can get used again. Really, though, I just love both of these colours for babies. They may not be traditional baby colours, but I like rich colours on babies, and that red is really gorgeous. The orange is for our friends, and it’s one of their favourite colours, so it was an easy choice.

I suspect there will be more little knits on my needles before these babies are born, so please let me know your favourite patterns for new babies.

St-st-st-Stasis!

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stasis9

Oh my, oh my, oh my, I am in finished-sweater heaven. I actually finished Stasis last weekend, but it has taken me a week to get proper photos (of course, the week after I finish a sweater has the warmest weather we’ve had in ages — not that I’m complaining: I loved it).

This was my Summer-Sweater KAL project this year (last year’s was Burrard — I can’t believe that was a year ago), and I am so glad that Shannon hosted the sskal again because it inspired me to pull out Stasis, which I’d started in February, and get it done. The pattern recommends knitting the sleeves first, so that’s where I started in the winter (I finished the colourwork portion on each and got maybe an inch further before putting them down). I knit each sleeve separately through the ribbing and colourwork, and then knit them two-at-a-time until they were about 18 inches long, at which point I put them aside and cast on for the body.

A little blown-out, but you get the idea.

A little blown-out, but you get the idea.

I pretty quickly realized that the tubular cast-on I used for the sleeves wasn’t going to work for the body. I had used Ysolda’s technique, which I really like (so quick!), but there were too many body stitches to keep under control. I did some Googling and found this method, which worked very well indeed, and is absolutely identical. After that it was pretty much smooth sailing up to the yoke (my only mod was to add about an inch to the length). Although the yarn was pretty evenly dyed, I alternated skeins every two (or three) rows after the bottom colourwork, just to keep the colours blended.

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Everything basically went fine until the yoke decrease portion. I read lots of project notes, many of which said they’d had to shorter the yoke section, so I knew it might be a problem area. I was getting row gauge, though, which seemed like such magic I assumed that I’d be okay, especially since I’d knit every other part of the pattern as written and it was turning out beautifully.

First attempt on the left, finished yoke on the right. I'd say there's about two inches of difference.

First attempt on the left, finished yoke on the right. I’d say there’s about two inches of difference (at least). (Photos are pre-blocking.)

I knit and knit and knit, and worked the ribbing and worked the tubular bind-off, and put it on and did not like it. It was wearable, don’t get me wrong, but the ribbing sat up on my neck like a mock turtleneck, and the yoke sat low around my shoulders, which made it feel strangely like it was falling off. It also made the armpits feel saggy and the arms too long, and I knew that if I left it it would never be a sweater I reached for. Looking at the way it fit, it seemed to me that I needed to be starting the collar ribbing more-or-less where the second decrease round was, and also that I needed to do fewer (and wider) short-rows across the back neck.

I used the needle end on  my trusty plastic stitch-holder thing (no affiliate, so click away) and wove it through the right leg of each stitch in the row approximately five rows above the colourwork. Then I ripped without fear of going too far. I knit one row, to get everything even, and then worked decrease row 2, then knit five plain rows before starting the short rows. To make those work better, I used the numbers for the size up, and only knit four sets. After that I finished as written.

Even a freshly-blocked sweater manages to collect cat hair around here. Thanks for that, Ganymede.

Even a freshly-blocked sweater manages to collect cat hair around here. Thanks for that, Ganymede.

The result is exactly what I was hoping for. It’s a fitted sweater, but still with plenty of space for layering once the weather gets cold. The yarn is soft enough that I can wear this with just a tank top underneath, and the main colour is a subtly variegated grey/white, which looks really nice over the all the plain stockinette. Now I have a reason to not bemoan the advent of cold weather — it was in the low-20s (high-60s) today when we took these and we had to seek out shade so I didn’t sweat too much!

Details
Pattern: Stasis by Leila Raabe
Yarn: The main is Kettle Yarn Co. Falkland (sadly discontinued) in Dusty Miller; the contrast is Plucky Feet in Pup Tent
Mods: I pretty much went over all of this, but to sum up: I added length to the body (about an inch) and then fussed around with the yoke until I was happy. Other than that, I knit the sleeves two-at-a-time (the first time I’ve ever tried that!) and, since I forgot the colourwork gauge needle when I went away last week, I just said to hell with it and knit the yoke entirely with the main gauge needle. It’s more fitted I guess, but I think it’s okay. I let the floats run a little long just to make sure it didn’t get tight. Ravelled here.

Let me leave you with one of L's test shots. It's a weird angle, but I like that it's sort of an action shot.

Let me leave you with one of L’s test shots. It’s a weird angle, but I like that it’s sort of an action shot.

September adventure

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Last week I took off from Toronto and went to visit my sister in Fort St. John, B.C., which is pretty far west and north from me (it’s more-or-less in line with Fort McMurry and almost as far north as Juneau, Alaska). The travel time was a bit crazy, especially since I missed my original flight (which is to say, I missed the baggage cut off, by four minutes, and so while I could board my bag couldn’t, which meant I couldn’t really board, so I had to wait for the next flight. Ugh.) but it gave me lots of knitting and reading time.

Anyway, it was, of course, entirely worth it. I hadn’t seen my sister since May (right before she moved up there), so getting to hang out with her and her boyfriend — and their dog and their cat! — was awesome. That they happen to live in a beautiful part of the country, and that I managed to time my visit perfectly, was really just a bonus. I don’t have any photos of the actual town, but here’s a little tour of the countryside.

View of the Peace River.

View of the Peace River.

I had never seen chipmunks climb grass before!

I had never seen chipmunks climb grass before!

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Charlie Lake.

Charlie Lake.

Tully! He's an Australian Shepherd, incredibly well behaved, and super energetic at 4.5 months old.

Tully! He’s an Australian Shepherd, incredibly well behaved, and super energetic at 4.5 months old.

The view driving into Monkman Provincial Park, in the Central Rocky Mountains.

The view driving into Monkman Provincial Park, in the Central Rocky Mountains.

Kinuseo Falls, from the top (where we had lunch).

Kinuseo Falls, from the top (where we had lunch).

Kinuseo Falls after hiking down to the bottom. They're actually taller than Niagara Falls, though there's less water moving over them.

Kinuseo Falls after hiking down to the bottom. They’re actually taller than Niagara Falls, though there’s less water moving over them. (I took this just before it started to rain, so there are a bunch of photos from that day that have water splotches on them.)

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After the rain.

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View looking back over the mountains toward Tumbler Ridge.

That last photo, of the wind turbines, is a really good explanation of what it was like up there: both wild and completely affected by industry. There’s a lot of mining and oil and gas work, so even when you think you’re somewhere untouched you turn around and see that the side of a hill has been carved up or terraced. It’s a strange dichotomy, but makes for very striking views. Rest assured, if they’re still living there in a year, I’ll for sure go back.

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