Sunday, May 21, 2017

At least one... [Dragon Mitts Complete!]

I finished Spring Semester for Loopy Academy Junior Year! Assuming they accept my final photo (yes, I'm checking probably more often than necessary), I have completed buttons, beads, and now colorwork.


The dragon mitts are done! These needed only the ribbing on the thumbs completed, so that was about an hour of knitting while watching TheKnitGirllls. And at least three people have already expressed some extremely interested eyebrows at these, so I might need to make another pair or two. 

Wendy Johnson wrote a lovely pattern and this is a very straightforward knit, particularly for novice colorworkers. You do need to be able to follow a chart and I need to get better at locking my floats but overall... 

These were knit out of Loopy Ewe Solids (still on clearance sale, might have to go get some more). I used the gray as the main color and definitely used more of that skein than the purple contrast for the dragons. I was a bit concerned that I wouldn't hit the 250 yard mark, but these came in at 275 yards by weight (53 grams). I knit them on size 3 (3.25 mm) needles, which is a size I don't use much. I thought it might be too loose but overall it worked nicely. These fit me a little bit loosely and a little too tight on the Philosopher. 


Right now they are set aside for blocking and other attendant things later; I'm traveling this week and not leaving things out for felines to love upon. 

Now I'm attempting to slam through the rest of my fall semester makeup. I am hoping to get most of an owl done today and then, which would mean I only have to take the gloves with me for evening/plane knitting at the conference.  

Gypsy is pretending that she is invisible when she sneaks past me into the hallway of our apartment building. 




Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Number 2 and Number 3 Are Done

I have not one but TWO projects for you today. And I'm halfway through my Loopy Academy six projects (fall junior make up and spring junior).  Of course, even though I've finished three projects I'm currently done with neither semester. But I have two episodes of the KnitGirllls to watch tonight and so there's hope.

First up, the shawl that went to Maryland is completed! This is Isen and I knit most of it during my epic trip out to Baltimore and to see Sibling-the-Younger.


The yarn is Wollmeise DK in the Feldmaus and it took very nearly all of two skeins. I have a little bit left, which will be set aside in a ziplock in case there are any repairs needed in the future. I used Miyuki Beads in the Dark Smoky Amethyst color and I only needed 3 beads total out of the second tube. Glad I had the second tube but really, only 3?  This was for the beaded pattern requirement for Loopy Spring Junior Semester.



As you can imagine, this is a heavy shawl. Each skein is supposed to be 7.1 oz plus the bead weight. It's an odd shade of brown, with hints of purple that show under the sunlight. Overall I enjoyed the beading work, though it certainly makes commuting and knitting impossible. Very much a sit at home (or in a conference, webinar, etc) kind of project. 


The pattern is beautifully written, the charts were easy to follow. It's been languishing for about six weeks waiting for me to have time to finish two more beaded rows in the last 8. Overall it went very quickly though for a nearly 900 yard shawl. And yes, that makes 2 800+ yard shawls I've knit since February 1. 


Gypsy wonders why I keep trying to take a photo of her in a shawl. 

Actually finished a week or two ago was this cowl! This is also for Spring Semester and it meets the buttonholes and buttons project prompt.  


The pattern is the Gothic Lace Cowl by tincanknits, whose straightforward patterns make new techniques entirely manageable. My only complaint and this is a small one, is that a specific size of button isn't called for and while I followed suggestions on the pattern page, I really should have probably purchased a slightly larger set of buttons. 


Still, as you can hopefully see, there are buttons and buttonholes. Nine of them, as memory serves. The buttons were an Etsy find and whomever is gifted this cowl will get the extra 2-3, as buttons do tend to get lost over time.  

The yarn is two skeins of Malabrigo Worsted and I had to alternate as TLE didn't have two skeins of the same colorway in stock. That's always a possibility with Malabrigo, particularly the brighter colors, but it slowed me down a bit and that was a little frustrating. Still, it's done, it's pink and purple, it's photographing a little bit lighter than it actually is... and it's off the needles. 

That makes 3. Right now I have 2 thumbs to finish on the dragon mitts (spring, stranded colorwork), one owlette and a bunch of wings (fall, toy), and one pair of gloves -- I'm ready to start the thumbs on both and then work up the hands (fall, gloves). It's a lot yet to do in the next 15 days and ideally I'd like the majority of that done before I leave for Kansas next week. 

Then I can start working on a nice big project for Stash Dash 2017.... 



Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Proof Positive: Industrial Revolution

I've had my eye on the pattern Industrial Revolution for a while and it served nicely for my spring redo of bobbles.  Certainly a better choice that what I did on my first attempt at a bobble project, which is a shawl that I just not one of my favorites

I decided to knit this up in Loopy Solids in the Malachite colorway.


It's a steampunk pattern, designed to look like gears and makes a lovely small shawl. I used about 3.5 skeins.  As you can see, it has quite a number of small bobbles and, while I can't say they are a technique I enjoy, I can get through them without too much blue language.  It does invoke spokes and gears though, with many yarn overs.  


The border is worked sideways, with the stitches increasing up and down.  I blocked it gently here, if I were being more exact, I would have pinned each point more distinctly. I'm not sure I have quite that many pins in the house though. 


All in all, I'm pleased with how it turned out.  Gypsy had to add a paw or two of approval and so now I may never get gray cat hair out of it. 


One officially down, five more academy projects this semester to go! 


Sunday, April 30, 2017

Yet Another May Countdown

That thing where you keep saying "No really, I'll get things started and done earlier...."

The curse of a process knitter.

It's May, well, it is tomorrow. And here I hoped to have at least 4 of my Loopy Academy projects done.

An obviously not completed mitt

Things are starting to finally roll along but I'm definitely not done yet. 

There are six projects on the deadline here...
Make Up Semester
1)  Toy -- the owls haven't been touched in months. No one has wings. One body still to knit. 
2)  Gloves -- I got the cuffs of both done but I'm not through the thumb gusset on either yet, let alone the drama that is knitting fingers. Still, at least underway. 
3)  Bobbles. DONE AND BLOCKED. Need to post final photos here and on Loopy Academy

Spring Semester
1) Buttons -- the knitting is done on the cowl, the buttons are not sewn on. That should be about an hour of work, I hope. 
2) Colorwork.  -- See above. I cranked through one mitt this weekend. This requires several hours of knitting in one place because of the chart but it's not horrible. 
3) Beads -- after I got back from Baltimore the shawl was entirely abandoned. It needs 8 rows, with more beading.

I need to sit down and figure out how much time each project really still needs. 5-6 hours would knock out 2 of them--so I think that might be my first priority. It'd be lovely to hold them until the last week of the month so that they all count for Stash Dash 2017 but I think I'll just need to get through and go back to all of the other WIPs that are piled up on the couch (yes, literally a big pile).

I foresee quite a lot of British television for me in the month of May. Who is with me?   



Sunday, April 2, 2017

YarnCon 2017: Ooooh, Shiny


The Philosopher and I went to YarnCon yesterday! It's always a lovely way to feel like spring is here, having a large local yarn festival. And it doesn't hurt that my friend Shannon drives in from Ohio and so I get a hug and a chance to share at least one ridiculous story.

Observations of the day: the general pallet is still multi-colored, but it's more muted than in the past couple of years. There were a couple of dyers with shaded solids but I've still not seen anyone competing with Two Guys Yarn Co for pastels. What did surprise me was that the only "tool" type booths I saw were for project bags. I saw only one booth that seemed to have spindles and no one had wheels this year that I spotted.

There were some favorite vendors I've seen before and a few new ones that were delightful and so obviously I had to make a few acquisitions.


The Philosopher has asked for a new customized mitt for working on digital boards. I wanted something that isn't going to show dirt all the time but was lovely. Yes, I know that first picture is horribly blown out, I was trying to show all of the colors. This black+ yarn from Honey Girl Farms is delightfully complex without being annoying. From 10 feet, it'll look mostly black but from up close there's quite a richness. 


Black Cat Fiber is going in the books as a new favorite. They had tremendous colors. I limited myself to just this one and doesn't the silk just shine! This should be a lovely small shawlette. I know it will mute a bit as knit up but it'll be a lovely gift to someone when done.  And they were just lovely in the booth to chat with. As my first purchase of the day, they also recommended a few other favorites to swing by. 


The Philosopher and I were both immediately drawn to the bag of these braids in CJ Kopec's booth. It's a brand new colorway for her, designed by her son. It's called Cadet and it's 100% merino. I hadn't been sure if I would buy fiber this year; I still haven't spindled up the entire 4 ounces that I bought at YarnCon last year from YarnGeek.  This was so appealing, however, that I couldn't pass it up. Several people asked me about it as we wandered about, so I assume a few more braids went home with new friends too! 


I was specifically recommended by two people to drop into the Northern Bee Studio booth and I was very pleased that I did. I'm sure they won the award for farthest traveled--they came from Alaska! They shared that to fly all of the yarn here, they put it in vacuum sealed bags and prayed very hard that TSA wouldn't open the bags and inadvertently fluff all the yarn again! Everything made it and it looked like they'd be taking far less home. I was happy to help contribute to lighter luggage with this Deep Forest skein. You can't see the label but it's 10% yak. So very deliciously soft. Also, they had a cobalt blue skein that was *ridiculously*  bright. Unfortunately, it was only available as a miniskein but I was assured that it would be on the website soon.


And finally, up on the balcony this year (that was new, not sure if I liked it), was Sophie's Toes. That should be a familiar name by this point, I buy things from her pretty much every YarnCon and AudioGirl's Christmas gift was knit from one of her 6 packs. We discussed a few of her colorways and I ended up with this lovely one-of-a-kind skein, something she'd overdyed. It'll likely just become a pair of socks, but what a fun knit that will be to discover the colors that come next.  Her booth looked like it'd been hit pretty hard but there was still some lovely stuff for the Sunday crowd. 

I haven't bought a lot of yarn this year besides what I've needed for Loopy Academy (that's been enough) and that's probably good as I've also not used a whole lot of yarn. But these struck me as special enough to jam into the space around Chez Hedgehog. Now to just keep them from marinating too long... 







Monday, March 27, 2017

Shawl Ahead...

I've spent the last week in Maryland, horribly confused as to the date and the time. Jumping forward and then going ahead another hour in the time zones all in one week is not something I can regularly recommend. However, in the days before packing up, I got started on one of my Spring Loopy Academy projects: beading.



I had ordered two skeins of Wollmeise DK (936 yards) in the Feldmaus colorway. It's brown, mostly, also looks kind of purple in some lights, so I also got dark purple beads. The cast on alone took a fair amount of time. I'm knitting Isen, which is lovely and which is not small. Obviously I am still struggling to take that "only needs to be 250 yards per project" to heart. At least this is the largest of the three projects? 

The first chart (800+ stitches) had over 50 repeats. I decided it was best if I separated each repeat with stitch markers. This served me well but it was a challenge to find that many stitch markers. Once I finished the chart, the stitch markers came out. Here's what that pile looked like.  Unsurprisingly, they do not match. But you can spot the adorable hedgehogs, right? 



Sibling-the-Younger lives in rural Maryland and the shawl got to spend some quality time in his backyard, hanging out by the fire pit. (Not--of course--during marshmallow roasting time. Yarn and beads plus fire and sticky sugar is a combination that I can only imagine would end poorly.) 


And then I knit through a professional conference. Sitting on the sidelines, beading hook in hand. I think I only left a few beads behind.  


By the time I got to this last picture, taken in the cab on my way to the airport, I was through the first major beading section and onto the third section, which involves short rows. This almost mindlessly took me home, with a detour on the flight to rewind the second skein of wool after it had turned into a giant collapsing disaster.  

Today I finished the short rows and I've one more chart to go. It's only 8 rows and the stitch count is far more reasonable, but it's beaded and while I'll brave beads on the floor in a dark keynote, the CTA is an entirely different question. 

I packed 4 projects with me but only worked on two. I need to get sorted when exactly I'm going to work on the gloves. I think the cowl might be mindless enough for train knitting this week and the socks that have been hanging out on my desk at work might finally see some love as well.  

Or I might just start another pair of socks. We'll see what the week brings. 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

There had better be time on the plane...

We're 11 days into March and the only real progress I've made on my Loopy Academy projects is that I wound all of the wool for the Spring Junior Year stuff. And considering the price tag on those (I went with Wollmeise DK for one project...) I need to get things underway and make good use of that wool and money.

Unfortunately, I've been snowed under entirely with work stuff: I'm mid-manuscript with one colleague, facing down another manuscript that needs to be entirely written here shortly with another, working on a conference presentation with two more, and the usual grading, teaching, give presentations, and other day job stuff.

I love working with a variety of friends and colleagues on projects though, it's wonderfully inspiring to work with such smart women and figure out who it is that knows the information I'm seeking. Add us together and we can speak or write about nearly everything.

But it doesn't get the knitting done.

 Gypsy being snuggly to break
up the wall of text
As I'm headed east to Maryland to visit Sibling-the-Younger and attend a conference, I'm planning my travel snacks. I've narrowed down what I use in my regular mix: Cheerios, Parmesan goldfish, Peanut M&Ms, and Reese's pieces.  Chocolate,  peanut butter, salt, and carbs. Yum.  That's coming on Wednesday in my grocery order.

The concession we made to my tenure obligations a few years ago was grocery delivery. Peapod is local to us [referral link for $20 off if you're interested]. Their selection is good, the prices--especially if I catch things on sale--are comparable and it has been well worth the delivery fees for a polite man to show up at my door at the specified time with food.

I find it also means a lot less impulse purchasing of junk food or even just random food that tends to hop into ones cart. I'm not meandering past aisles of chips and chocolate and that means I have to consciously think to go look up chocolate pudding and add it to the order. Don't worry, Kraft Mac and Cheese is still a staple in my book. When I'm planning for a few recipes, it also means I just work down the list rather than hop around a building which totally equates to far less frustration on the "well, where do *you* think they put the toothpicks" front.

The balance with that though is that I don't always think about fresh produce. I don't see that today this fruit look delicious or they are just unpacking some fresh interesting greens. We're still six weeks away from the first outdoors farmers market so I'm not supplementing that way as yet. I need to make a conscious effort to look at what fruits and vegetables are best/most available right now and put them in my cart.

Today is a writing day though and hopefully by the time I get on a plane next Friday, my biggest concerns will be just how much knitting I can charge through in 9 days. Back to the Word Document.