Just about ready

5

It’s not like I don’t know that December is a crazy busy month, but it seems like every year it still catches me off guard. I think it’s because December is a month where I don’t want to say no to anything. There are holiday parties, craft shows, birthdays, and so much knitting, and I want to do it all, because it’s fun and it’s festive and it’s just nice.

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Does this look familiar? Well, yes. L completely wore through the last pair I knit, and requested new ones. I’ve tweaked a few things this time around, which I’ll detail later, but basically, yeah, these are the same gloves.

Inevitably, though, that leads to a knitting crunch. We’re spending the holidays with L’s family this year, which means everything for my family needed to be done extra early so it could be mailed. Last Friday I delivered their parcel to the post office, feeling pretty good about how much of my holiday making I’d finished with two weeks to spare. Then I looked down at the gloves I’m knitting for L, and did a little math (amount of work divided by number of days in which to do it) and felt a whole lot less smug.

Why yes, I did sew that trim on by hand.

Why yes, I did sew that trim on by hand.

This time last week, the gloves consisted of one finished hand, with one finger, which I had to rip out and reknit, basically I had: no fingers, no thumb, no second glove even on the needles. I also realized that I had committed to making us stockings, and that I hadn’t even started (as in: no fabric, no pattern). I powered through on the second glove hand over the weekend (there’s nothing like a chart to motivate you through).

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I took care of the stockings on Monday. I bought the fabric, I made up a pattern (yes, the toes are a little pointy, but that just adds character, right?) and I whipped them together. The fabric is upholstery weight that I got in the remnant bin at a fabric store downtown, so it was relatively inexpensive, but frayed like crazy, so these are French seamed. It seems a little fancy for something that will really only be used once a year, but I sure beat trying to line them.

I have since finished that last finger. Now on to the next hand!

I have since finished that last finger. Now on to the next hand! (The reason they look like slightly different sizes is because I blocked the right hand — through not the fingers — to check the fit. The left hand has’t been blocked or tried on, but I fully expect it to stretch to the same size. You can really see the difference blocking makes, though, eh? Wow.)

Now I’m just chugging away on the fingers. I’ve got four finished, which leaves me four more, plus two thumbs, and just under a week. We have some driving to do, so I’m hoping I can get a finger or two knit in the car (the chart is nice and straightforward, and now I’ve basically knit it four times, so I’m not worried), which leaves me with just a few more, and then blocking and weaving in the ends. It’ll be tight, but I think I might just make it.

Sneaky Norby

12

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Other than a couple of mild days, this winter is shaping up to be a cold one. November was cold and windy, and it became clear pretty quickly that this was not a year to go hatless. I have a lot of hats, but I really don’t like any of them (I have never been a hat person), so right in the middle of a frenzy of holiday knitting I took a minute to knit one for myself (that it took another three weeks to get photos is a whole other story).

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I decided to knit Norby, which I bought the pattern for ages ago. It’s written for fingering weight yarn, but it was cold, so I decided to use DK for a little extra warmth. Despite having many excellent options in my stash, I figured that since I was breaking my holiday knitting rules* anyway, I might as well splurge. This is Shalimar Breathless DK, a merino, cashmere, silk blend, and it is deliciously soft and snuggly.

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To make the pattern work for the heavier yarn, I cast on fewer stitches and worked one fewer repeat of the chart. The whole thing was a breeze to knit, and the tassels (which I wasn’t sure about at first) are the perfect finishing touch!

This is by far the most successful hat I’ve ever knit for myself. I’m not sure this will be warm enough if the weather gets as cold as last year, but for now, Norby is perfect.

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Details
Pattern: Norby by Gudrun Johnston
Yarn: Shalimar Breathless DK in Scarab
Needles: 4.5mm
Notes: Followed the pattern exactly as written, but used a different stitch count. Ravelled here.

*As a general rule, once October rolls around, I focus on my holiday knitting until it’s finished. It’s the only way I know to get it all done without scrabbling around alone on Christmas Eve. So far, despite Norby sneaking in there, I’m still on track to finish with a healthy buffer.

A very good mail week

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I don’t know how it happened, but somehow a whack of great mail all arrived in the last few days relatively unexpectedly (that is, I knew it was all coming, but I didn’t think it would all arrive at once).

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It all started with the arrival of Gudrun Johnston’s new book Shetland Trader Book 2, which I had been thinking about buying for a while. After debating about whether I really needed it, I then decided all at once, on a whim (after a long day at work), that I should just get. I love the Northdale pullover and Belmont cardigan, and I think Balta will be a fantastic summer knit. The books itself is also gorgeous, and comes with pdfs of all the patterns which I love.

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Then, at the beginning of this week, I left home to find a fun little package sitting on my doorstep: two skeins of Nomadic Yarns self-striping yarn. These are both Twisty Sock (superwash merino and nylon) and were also purchased in a fit of work stress (I’ve never thought of myself as going for retail therapy, but apparently being too busy to knit just makes me want to buy knitting-related things). I actually think I did quite well just buying these two — Grinchmas and Sweater Weather — especially since I was torn between five colourways and very nearly just threw my hands in the air and bought them all. Compared to that, two sounds like a measured approach, right?

Finally two days ago, I arrived home to find two exciting packages waiting. I won a giveaway for Carrie Bostick Hoge’s Madder Anthology 1 ages ago from Very Shannon, so it’s just a fluke that it arrived now. I’ve been looking forward to this book since Carrie first wrote about it on her blog, and I think the Sibella Cardigan will be my first make from it (I wear my Grace all the time, so another lightweight cardigan with some interesting yoke details would not go amiss in my wardrobe).

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The second package contained the inaugural issue of Knit Wit magazine, which I backed on Kickstarter but is available for purchase at a few places now (including Fringe Supply Co). Yes, it costs more than your average magazine, but it really feels more like a journal or a book, and its definitely put together with the same care. Knit Wit is gorgeous, with heavy, matte pages, stunning photos, and really nice type faces. I haven’t had a ton of time to spend with it yet, but I’m really looking forward to reading thoughtful, varied pieces about lots of different fiber pursuits — from knitting to weaving to dyeing. There was no one-year subscription option for international backers, but I’ll definitely be sourcing Issue 2 of this one.

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

18

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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!)

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