Back on track

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I’m in the zone. The house is filled with the sound of the clickety-clack of my needles. And it’s lovely.

Sperry

I did about a million gauge swatches for my sweater that doesn’t fit and I think I finally found the needle size that works for me. So very optimistically the sweater has been cast on again. I’m not quite as far as the point where I left off my previous version, but by happily stitching along I will get there.

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I’m still going to sewing classes, and although I don’t feel like my skills are drastically improving, the machine is already so much less intimidating. I’m very pleased with how the apron turned out, but my teacher helped me a lot, and without her it wouldn’t even look the least bit like an apron. I think for my next step I’m going to try and make some simple skirts and let some interesting prints do all the talking (it’s perfectly acceptable for a 26-year old to wear a skirt with foxes on it right??).

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And then there’s this project.. It’s such a joy. I won’t give away too much about it just yet, but somehow the combination of pretty cables, perfect yarn, pretty needles and fun stitch markers make this so relaxing. I don’t even want to finish it, because I’ll be sad if I can’t work on it anymore. Have you ever felt this way about a project?

I knit sweaters that don’t fit

Before I start babbling about my latest knitting ‘adventure’ I want to say thanks to all of you for all the kind messages I received these past weeks. It means a lot to me knowing there are so many kind souls out there sending me virtual hugs. 🙂

The last week I’ve been in the search of my knitting mojo and tried to find it by trying to knit on several of my projects hidden in my big pile o’ wips. I put all of them away after just a few rows, until I realised what I needed most was endless stockinette. Somewhere I knew I had a sweater in hibernation and I had this vague memory that I was about to separate the sleeves, after which it would indeed be endless stockinette. Perfect!

Sperry

This post is full of life lessons I would like to remind myself of, and the first one is: please please please future self, make decent notes on where you left of in a project if there’s any chance of you putting it away for a long period of time. It took a lot of head scratching before I figured out where the hell I left off in this thing, and the fact that the pattern is written without any paragraphs (most of it is just a looooong piece of text) I felt like poking my eyes out rather than knitting. After lots of head scratching I found my way back into the pattern, separated the sleeves and was ready for endless stockinette.

As for the second message for my future self is one I expect to be ignored, because this isn’t the first time I’m reprimanding myself for this. It’s no secret at all that I’m lazy when it comes to gauge swatches. Making a gauge swatch requires planning and patience. By the time I get the yarn for a new project I feel like I’ve already done a lot of planning (picking yarn is hard work!!) and my patience has run out. I have to start the project, there’s no time for swatching. With this sweater I actually did a gauge swatch though.. kind of… I knit a swatch, saw it was off and instead of any smart decisions about it I decided to just go down a size and by the force of knitting magic this sweater would end up fitting perfectly!

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Apparently magic is dead and when I got to a point I could try my new sweater on for size I found out it was way too big. I spent an evening in denial, thinking I could just do some extra waist decreases or maybe throw it in the dryer for a bit. But I think we all know this isn’t the way to go and the progress so far will be frogged. You’d think this would set back my knitting mojo entirely but actually that isn’t the case, because getting this far in the project I realised a couple of thing. Firstly, I’m still happy with the colours I chose! It happens quite often I think I chose the perfect colours but once I cast on I change my mind completely. So yay for me still liking the colours! Secondly, I feel like this sweater is going to be really really pretty! The design is simple, the colours are simple, but if I get this to fit I’m going to wear it a lot. With that certainty I feel motivated to start a proper swatch and then do my calculations before diving into the knitting again.

Next time I’m going to knit something that needs to fit without doing a gauge swatch please remind me of this post, because I know I won’t.

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FO: Striation Socks

Yay, my first FO of 2015! All that lovely snow we had yesterday is more of a brown mush today, so no excuses anymore for taking some FO pics.

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Pattern: Striation Socks by Cookie A
Yarn: Eden Cottage Yarns Tempo 4ply in Copper Bucket

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It’s hard to capture the depth of the colour in a picture, but trust me, this colourway does its name justice. The semi-solidness works nice with all that lace, and it feels like perfect sock yarn. I’m quite optimistic that the yarn is sturdy enough to make these socks last a long time, and the stitch definition is great. I’ll definitely be using ECY yarn again.

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I didn’t modify anything in the pattern, but there’s one thing you might want to take into consideration. The lace part is super stretchy, so I went down to size S, which is knit over 56 stitches. I usually make my socks with 64 stitches, but really the smallest size gave me a perfect fit this time. However, I do like my sock legs long. And physically speaking, I do have calves. The cuff isn’t exactly the stretchiest ever, and although the blood supply to my feet isn’t exactly cut off, a little more stretch would’ve been nice.

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Other than the whole cuff thingie I really loved this pattern. Loads of yarn overs (maybe these aren’t the best winter socks ever) and it was really engaging without being frustrating. This pattern was at some point part of Cookie A’s sock club, so you’ll find loads of purple versions on the project page, which is really tempting me to make another pair in purple.

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 I’m very pleased with this project. The pattern is an enjoyable knit, the yarn is lovely and an enjoyable colour, and the end product is very pwetty. And just a general yay for the first FO of the year!

 

The first week of the year

2015 certainly has brought me productivity so far, but mainly work-wise. I remember after graduating thinking that I’d spend my Christmas break laughing at the poor student that would still have to cram for exams, while I’d be relaxing and sleeping. I was so naive. This was my second Christmas break as a PhD student and I think I was about 12 hours into my break when my supervisor mailed me to ask how the new draft of my paper was coming along. Plus I had a very important presentation right after the break. So the 3 sweaters I thought I would knit during the break were of course a bit overambitious. Knitting has been slow, but steady. I haven’t even showed off my Christmas presents yet (scandalous!!!!). So let’s start with that.

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It might have taken some non-subtle hinting from my side, but my family gifted me two gorgeous skeins of Spun Right Round SW Sock 80/20. One colourway is called Bug Jar and the other Martian got Moves. I’ve already dived into the Ravelry archives to see what I’ll make with them, but I haven’t found the perfect pattern yet. And for yarn this beautiful I will need an absolutely perfect pattern.

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I finished the largest part of one of my Northman mittens, that were started before Christmas. It is still thumbless and the lining still has to be knit. It’s not the most complicated knit, only my colourwork is a bit messy.  But that’s ok, my goal in colourwork is always to get it to such a level that I know it’ll block out, and I think this is still well within those margins. I’m very selective in my perfectionism, some projects allow for no error at all, whereas in others I’m very relaxed and just see how things work out. There’s no telling in advance in which category a project will fall, I usually know after knitting a few rounds.

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These socks, that I started right after Christmas, fall into the other category. Some parts have been reknit a couple of times because I was sloppy in reading the pattern and I’m pretty sure sock #1 came out without any mistakes. They look a bit crumpled, as lace knits tend to do pre-block, but I have a gut feeling that once they’re blocked and on my feet they’re going to be perfect. I love the rusty colour in combination with the openness created by all the yarn overs. The yarn I’m using is Eden Cottage Yarns Tempo 4ply in Copper Bucket.

One major achievement during the break was that I finally picked up a book again! For years I’ve been a very fanatic reader, reading everyday, even if it was just a few pages before going to sleep. But at some point during the beginning of 2014 that stopped. We often have the tv on in our house and I was good at blocking out the tv noise while reading, but at some point I couldn’t anymore. I guess during that time I was particularly busy and tired. So knitting invaded my reading time, because that was perfectly combinable with background tv noise. And my reading habit slowly faded away, until it was actually months of not touching a book at all. 2015 will have to change again, so I’m starting out with getting the reading before bed in my routine again, which so far is working fine. I’m currently reading The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. He’s one of my favourite authors and it’s a very enjoyable read. I’m really hoping I can keep up with this, so maybe by mentioning in my blogposts what I’m reading every now and again I’ll have a better motivation to stick with it!

How was your start of 2015? Did you manage to implement some resolutions already?

A year in knitting

Christmas is over. Food has been eaten, things have been baked, baked things have been eaten, the scale has been avoided. Lovely time altogether. And now 2015 is just around the corner and is time to reflect on a great year.

I didn’t plan any knitting goals for 2014, the only thing I promised myself was that I would continue to challenge myself and try and learn new things, and that I certainly did. I completed a total of 19 projects, which seems a bit meagre, but I think I can live with that number (especially knowing there are still several WIPs in various stages of completeness). 8 of those projects were socks, 2 lace shawls, 3 hats, one pair of mittens, one skirt, and 4 projects involving toy knitting. The thing that surprised me most is that although I see myself as a selfish knitter, 7 out of 19 projects were gifts! That’s over 35% of projects that are gifts, which isn’t bad for a self proclaimed selfish knitter..

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Top row L to R: Caramel Brulee hat (of which I also made a duplicate as a last minute Christmas gift for my grandmother), a birthday cake made for a friend’s birthday and the Prairie Spring socks.
Middle row L to R: Lakeside knee socks made for my sister, the slightly silly but immensely fun to make Breaking Cat project and a pair of plain ribbing knee socks (where did I find the patience for this?!).
Bottom row L to R: Sir Knights Helmet (another gift), Rainbow Wanderer socks and Chu and Chibi Totoros as last minute Christmas gifts.

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Top row L to R: Lakeside kneesocks, New Girl skirt and the Stormborn Shawl.
Middle row L to R: Tintern Abbey socks, Wilshire shawl (birthday gift) and Plants vs. Zombies (birthday gift).
Bottom row L to R: Cold as Fuck mittens,  Thunderstorm socks, and Herringbone socks.

Of course I didn’t enjoy making every one of these to the same degree. One of my favourites to knit is probably the lakeside knee socks, otherwise I’d never have made two pairs! The lace shawls were without a doubt a labour of love, and the Breaking Cat was a joy to make, because it was so silly and funny to come up with the different scenes. The obvious thing that is missing are sweaters and cardigans! I only started one sweater, which is yet to be finished. So I’ll try to shift my focus in 2015 a little towards sweaters and cardigans.

My favourite project of 2014, however, has to be starting this blog! I didn’t know what to expect and whether it’d be something I would actually like. And I LOVE doing this. I love the connections it has brought me, the inspiration and how it makes me think about knitting in a different way. So for 2014 I want to give a big THANK YOU to everyone who has visited this blog, happy new year everyone!