Friday, June 27, 2014

FO: Storm Warning 2 (Nuriel)

Started: June 11, 2014

Finished: June 25, 2014

Yarn/yardage used: Mountain Colors Jeannette (65% cashmere, 35% silk), 158 yards (exactly one skein)

Needles: Size 6 circulars

I don't think I have much to say about this, other than:
1. This pattern isn't so bad when you have a relatively small skein of yarn that won't drag the project out into the dozens of repeats and hundreds of garter stitches.
2. I used up every inch of this yarn.
3. This yarn feels like knitting with a newborn kitten.

(Also, I seem to have misplaced my big box of pins, so the border leaves aren't being blocked as neatly as I'd like.)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Gems and goodies.

Fortunately for my recent fit of esurience*, I've had some beautiful little treats sent my way recently!

The golden yarn is mulberry silk lace in "Gold of the Aztecs" from Povetkina's Dyeworks on Etsy. I can't tell you how thrilled I was when I found yarn in shimmering true gold. I'd resolved to knit Sheherazade in gold with dark ruby beads, but it had to be gold - yellow or orange would have ruined it for me. This yarn is an absolute marvel. It took a little over two weeks to get to me from Russia, but 1) it came all the way from Russia and 2) it's so worth it.

Moving on clockwise... I was lucky enough recently to have won a giveaway hosted by the Dull Roar blog and sponsored by Alicia of Woolen Diversions. Alicia kindly offered me my choice of scents of her Sweet Sheep solid lotion bars - and I have to say, Alicia's done an excellent job with her products. It was well-packaged so that the lotion arrived still solid and intact through temperatures in the low 90s yesterday, but warms and melts quickly in the heat of one's hands. The green tea scent that I chose smells just like a freshly-opened canister of looseleaf tea. It's a very pleasant and mild scent, not at all overpowering, accompanied by the faint warm smell of beeswax. The scent fades within the hour (a huge plus for me; I don't wear perfume and hate having a smell clinging strongly to me all day!) but my hands stay plump and soft for hours and hours, even in the dry climate of Colorado. I'll definitely be using this for a long time to come! You can find Alicia's lotion bars and lip balms in her Etsy store, Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe.

Below that tin are three of the six removable Melody stitch markers that I bought from Twice Sheared Sheep. Yes, in addition to very affordable recycled luxury yarn, Twice Sheared Sheep also sells beautiful stitch markers, row counters, shawl pins and more. I bought this set for myself on Tuesday night, as a little prize for getting all of my thesis postponement paperwork done, and they were in my mailbox on Thursday afternoon! The seller does live only an hour away from me, but still, that's remarkable speed in posting the package. The other three markers are already doing their duty on projects.

Finally, I went down to my LYS today and picked up two tiny crochet hooks and a pair of size 4 Addi Turbo Lace circs in the longest cable size they had, 47 inches. My Celestarium is now in its final set of charts before the lace edging, and nearly 600 stitches around. It was becoming a bit of an ordeal to try to squeeze all of them along a 32-inch cable. So now I have five sets of long size 4 circs (as well as two sets of short circs) of various lengths, and as soon as I shift projects and needles around and cast on the Sheherazade, all five will be in active use. The two tiny crochet hooks are, of course, for beading. My 0.5 mm hook was too small to reliably catch the DK weight yarn for Storm Warning, so I picked up a 0.85 mm and a 1.00 mm hook to see if either will work better.

What knitting treats have you picked up recently?



*esurience (noun) overwhelming desire for more. I like that I can use this word to describe my craving for yarny things without the ugly stain of moral defect that "greed" or "avarice" would leave.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


There's something in me that struggles against the very concept of austerity and discipline and self-denial. I can be frugal at need, sure, but when it comes right down to it, I'm a hedonist at heart. And right now, right when I've dropped far too much money in a few days on yarn, and really should be reining back on my knitting budget for a couple of months... I can't stop thinking about all the yarn and patterns I want and all the projects I want to cast on.

I've been looking at lace and light fingering summer tees and tops, longing to buy a pattern or two:

And I dove into my stash to pull out the two most luxurious yarns I own and feast my fingertips on new projects:

I cast on a Jacke/Cardigan *Opera* a few weeks ago with the fine, sleek Skaska silk/yak laceweight that Bandit sneakily bought for me at last year's wool festival. The pattern is essentially an octagon knitted from the center out, with armholes added when the diameter reaches the width of one's back. Stitches are picked up afterwards for sleeves, and the edgings of both the sleeves and the main body are knit in a beautiful lace pattern.

I can't help pausing every so often to pet this yarn. It's sturdy, with great stitch definition, yet at the same time it's so sleek and soft and light and warm. And my superpower of never running out of yarn is apparently kicking in at full force. I went down three whole needle sizes, from the suggested 7 to a 4, to make a denser fabric. I've just passed the armholes, at an unblocked diameter of 16 inches. And I still have 85 grams left of the 98-gram cake.

But as much as I love this yarn, project monogamy is a bit too much to expect when I get restless. And so I also dug out the most absolutely decadent yarn I own: Jeannette by Mountain Colors. Fifty grams of 65% cashmere 35% silk. I do not exaggerate when I say that this yarn feels like knitting with cotton candy, or a baby kitten, or a cloud.

I only had the one skein of it (it was $48 a skein) so I had to find a pattern that would work well with 158 luscious yards.

Did I say that I was never knitting Storm Warning again?

I'm sure I never said anything that rash, right?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Estes Park Wool Market 2014

On Saturday, Alexis, Shannon, Eli and I went to the Estes Park Wool Market again. Alexis drove, and Shannon and Eli packed a generous picnic for us to enjoy while we watched the llama competitions. It was pretty chilly, though, and the llamas didn't seem be doing much while we were sitting in the stands, so we quickly ducked indoors as soon as we were done.

We saw goats! (And alpacas. But we didn't visit the sheep or angora rabbits or any of the other animals this time around.)

We were trying to determine which one was Bandit. Probably the black one stealing bites from the feed bag in the next pen?

This year the alpacas and goats were housed in the big warehouse that had held all the vendors in previous years. The marketplace was in a larger and more modern-looking building.

Most of the time I was too preoccupied with being tempted by yarns to take many pictures. However, after we'd all browsed through the stalls once, we went back to make purchases and I got a few pictures then.

There were yarns with all sorts of surprising things spun into them:

The Buffalo Wool Company had some gorgeous samples on display:

And the Fiber Optic Yarns booth had a WALL OF SHAWLS:

Can you see why this wool market is like Christmas for me? I look forward to it eagerly all year!

I wanted to treat myself, of course, but I also wanted to be a little more sensible with my spending than in previous years. Accordingly, I only made two purchases - and neither of them, amazingly, was from the Skaska booth. Skaska Lace understands my soul too well, and it was simply too dangerous to linger at their booth too long.

Instead, I got two skeins of recycled cashmere from Twice Sheared Sheep.

That's a total of a thousand yards of laceweight cashmere you're looking at - for only $12 per skein. How could one possibly pass that up? There was also merino for $8 per 500-yard skein, and even better deals in their bargain basket (bargain yarns are the most brilliant and most evil way of parting a knitter from her money). Alexis, Shannon and I all ended up buying something from this booth. I think this yarn is probably destined to be a luxurious laceweight top.

I also got a big skein of La Paz, by Textiles A Mano...

...for a super-secret project.

Friday, June 6, 2014

FO: Spring-Grass Francie.

Started: May 27, 2014

Finished: June 6, 2014

Yarn/yardage used: Artyarns Ultramerino4 (discontinued), color 131, about 130 yards each

Needles: Size 1 DPNs, one set each of 4" Hiya Hiyas and 6" Knitter's Pride Nova


Let me take a moment to share with you what I know of knitting theology.

There is the swatching god, who is the stereotypical trickster god: almost always full of lies, but occasionally telling the truth just to throw you off guard, for maximum amusement. There is the sock god, who for at least the past year has borne an implacable hatred of me (maybe, in true Greek heroic fashion, I forgot to make the proper sacrifices to it at some point?) And then there is the yardage god, who loves me. I always seem to finish projects in well under the yardage required. In fact, I have never, ever knit a single project and come up short on yarn (well, except that one pair of socks for Amy, but we'll attribute that to the machinations of the jealous sock god).

It took me until this pair of socks to realize that all of these are merely different faces of the same monolithic, overarching deity.

Now, I've always known that I was a tight knitter. I don't help matters by recklessly going down needle sizes in search of a more pleasing fabric. For most of what I knit (shawls and... shawls), this doesn't matter. I've kind of vaguely suspected this might have something to do with my sock troubles, but...

These socks are tight, okay. Really, really tight. I knitted them as written, with the recommended needle size. They're advertised as being able to fit a calf/ankle circumference of 10 inches, due to the stretchiness of the ribbing. My feet are size 6 and my ankle circumference is less than 8 inches. Putting these on and taking them off requires a lot of shoving and sliding and scraping and squishing.

Why is this?

The pattern calls for a gauge of 8 stitches per inch, in not-stretched-out 2x2 ribbing. I have no convenient way to measure my ribbed gauge. But my stockinette gauge is 9.5 stitches per inch.

Maybe the blocking god will magically fix everything?

Monday, June 2, 2014

Getting back on the sock train?

Thank you all so much for all your kind, lovely comments on the Hanami! I do like it much better now that it's a beautiful finished project sitting docilely on the coffee table. I'm even almost (almost!) tempted to knit another one with the remainder of the yarn!

Meanwhile, I've temporarily put aside some of my other WIPs to attempt a pair of socks again. I got these two little skeins of Artyarns Ultramerino4 a while ago (I even think you can see them in my stash-at-Bandit's-place post last summer), and I planned to make myself a pair of plantlife-inspired socks. Now that I've propitiated the sock gods with my giveaway offering, I'm hoping this sock curse has been lifted from me. I'm testing the waters with Francie, the pattern that I've attempted for Pickle's socks three times now.

Now, Francie is a beautiful, well-written pattern that produces beautiful, uniquely-shaped socks. But because of the shaping, it's only written for one size. It so happens that this size works well for me, with my little size 6 feet. Not so much for any of the guys I know, whose shoe sizes are all in the double-digits. This pair of socks is working up beautifully, with a very nice fit, but I'll definitely have to do some pattern tweaking when I knit it again for anyone else.

I'm knitting these two-at-a-time, on two sets of DPNs, for two reasons. The first is that I want to make sure that I do exactly the same thing on both socks, in terms of counting rows, picking up stitches, and so on. The second is that I started out with a pair of 4" DPNs. Four inches, as it happens, is exactly the right size for the nonworking end of the needle to stab me in the palm with each stitch. After a day knitting with a protective bandage on my palm, I decided to just buy another, longer, set of DPNs. And since I now had two sets, I might as well put them both to use, right?

I plan to use the leftovers from both balls for contrast toes and cuffs for the next pair of Bandit's socks.

He picked out this skein of Zitron Trekking XXL for himself. It's got some fascinating colors in it - forest green, dark olive green, hints of muted lime-green. I can't wait to see how it knits up - whether it's self-striping or whether it's more evenly variegated.