Saturday, February 22, 2020

Completed: Hot Pink Dental Floss

My entire dining room floor is currently covered with hot pink lace.

This large and incredibly bright piece of knitting has been taking up every spare minute at home over the past six weeks, with hours of my life spent in the breakfast nook Ektorp Tulllsta, cat climbing all over me and back episodes of Stranded Dyeworks podcast playing along. 

It took nearly 700 yards of what is described as a laceweight but I'm suspicious might actually be cobweb.  Certainly the laceweight that Audiogirl was knitting when I saw her the other night was much thicker.  

I was expecting to use about 1000 yards, so having only used 51 grams of the 100 gram skein was a surprise.  This is a delicate piece and the yarn is a very soft 2-ply. 
Marnie MacLean's pattern is perfectly clear, the charts are very easy to read,  and overall I'm delighted with the final product. It's probably even already dry-- I have a fan going on it and it was getting dry very quickly.  

I'll upload a picture tonight to The Loopy Ewe, this is Shawl 1/3 for spring semester of Graduate Academy.  I've cast on the second shawl and in fingering weight it feels like it will go so much faster. (Attn careful reader: it's a shawl that will require not only extensive chart reading but is guaranteed to take about 1100 yards of yarn -- it will not be magically faster). 

Now the only question to answer with this shawl is it's final destination. Several people have asked and no, I didn't cast it on with anyone in particular in mind. As with much of my knitting I generallytrust that when it's time, the project and it's appropriate owner will come together.  In the interim, it doesn't take up very much space.  

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Still Going the Wrong Way

If I am committed to less stash in 2020, I am going about it the wrong way.  Long time readers will know that I tend to go on yarn buying sprees in the early part of the year as a way to combat winter ennui. There's a logic model that says if I surround myself with brilliant color and support a few more indie dyers, we'll all come out the other side, spring will arrive and we'll have green and sunshine and blue skies again.

Suddenly the hot pink shawl makes more sense, doesn't it? A kind of desire to NOT deal with any of the more muted tones in my stash?

I have actually finished a project! The Philsopher asked for a light wool cap that he could wear on days when it's not quite cold enough for the heavy scarf/hat combo I knit a few years ago. This is most of a half skein of Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock Mediumweight in the Puck's Mischief Colorway. The pattern was the January Swatchcap  and came together in a couple of days. 

It's a satisfyingly quick knit, unlike certain shawls that are well into their second month. But for that half skein wandering out of the stash there's also been new arrivals. 

Technically I don't think this should count. I ordered it in February 2019.  Tina and the BMFA team was working to ensure that my beloved Socks That Rock base was going to consistently be available - -a challenge I cannot imagine trying to navigate with changing wool, mills, and other issues that they've faced. I was thrilled to contribute and this lovely showed up right at the end of January. It's beautiful, as always, and I think it'll be a pair of socks for me.  I'm noticing that my own sock drawer is looking a bit ragged around the edges. (Also I'm watching archival episodes of the Stranded Podcast and she has 60+ pair of handknit socks just for her...I feel like I could have a few more pairs without being selfish.) 

This stunning new yarn though is from KnittinBro, a new to me indie dyer.  He was teasing some pictures of it online and I queued up a window at the time I knew he'd be updating.  You'll definitely want to follow him on Instagram if you're interested in getting his yarn -- it's small batches or at events, etc.  

It looks like an oil slick--and the colorway is called All of the Lights. I got two skeins of DK, which is apparently my new thing when I can't sort out what else I'd like to get. 

Send me your favorite 1-2 skein DK weight projects that aren't baby objects; a Hedgehog needs to work through some really interesting small projects and *use* some of these beautiful skeins.  

(Yarn Ravelry Stash Entry Count is at 220. Unfortunately, neither of the projects that I finished this week took me down a number because I have another skein/still have more than 1/2 skein left of the color and it's too significant a yardage to just go into the leftovers bin.)

Sunday, February 9, 2020

More Hot Pink Dental Floss

As an instructor, one of my tasks with graduate students is to help them find the appropriate scope for their project. As a mentor, I talk to my colleagues about the "small but elegant" papers that my mentor guided me through as we plan not one paper for a giant question/idea but three or four.  You might therefore think that, cognizant as I am of my own spring semester obligations, I would have some sense of appropriately sized Loopy Graduate Projects. Reader, I continue to be wildly and completely optimistic and rather unrealistic.  

I am, however, on Chart D.  As introduced before, this is Aello -- a stunning lace shawl pattern by Marnie MacLean, a designer whose work almost always jumps immediately into my queue. I've never actually knit one of her patterns before, however, which I'm finding to have been an error on my part.  This has been a very clear pattern to knit.  

I thought this was my first bottom up shawl, though a search through the archives proves me wrong. I did a Wendy Johnson pattern a couple of years ago that was bottom up. That was knit from one skein of beloved sock yarn though. This is a bit of leveling up. The yarn feels about half as thick as the Wollmeise Laceweight I used in 2018. I am reasonably confident that I could floss with it if needs truly must. Delicate yarn this, though strong. I've never had concern that the yarn will snap.  

Because this is a lace pattern and despite the rest rows, this hasn't left Chez Hedgehog except for a visit to a couple of other knitters who were very interested in seeing it in person. It is absolutely not train/commute knitting and I say that as a very confident knitter of many other things in public.  I sit in my breakfast nook, usually negotiating lap space with a cat, and work through a few more rows. 

I'm currently 77% done, per Marnie and the completion of Chart C.  Chart D will take me down close to 120 stitches IIRC and then the rows will truly fly.  

And it's all I want to do. I'm ignoring laundry, housekeeping (the cat fur dust buffaloes will just get marginally larger, right?), the work I brought home this weekend, all of it. I just want to knit pink wool. 

Sunday, January 19, 2020

It's Not Entirely Sea Turtle FA's Fault

Have I discussed my extremely vague Knitting Goals for 2020? I've tried knitting resolutions year over year and at the end of the year I always end up laughing at what I thought I specifically would accomplish.

This year isn't much different, there are some vague plans and intentions.  The one I always fall back on "to have space in my yarn bins."  A reasonable goal, right? If we don't count the 50 skeins that already don't fit in the bins that are stuffed around Chez Hedgehog. And this goal might have been off to a slightly better start if I weren't focused on (1) a baby blanket that at most will use up three skeins and (2) the hot pink dental floss skein that isn't ever actually approaching being in the bins. 

The arbitrary goal I set for myself and my knitting in 2020 was to get my number of Ravelry entries down to 150.  Will this actually help with the space in the knitting stash? Theoretically yes. It'd be a minimum of 50 skeins out of the stash, which if I purchased nothing else would mean that the things I presently own would mostly fit into the bins, right?  Of course, if I'd just finish that giant afghan that has been on the needles for umm... does anyone from New York remember if I was knitting a pink afghan before I moved to Chicago the first time? 

And of course, getting the count down means knowing what the count is to start.  This isn't number of skeins or length of yarn -- I'm not even sure I want to contemplate those numbers even as, yes, Ravelry will very nicely calculate them for me.  Just Ravelry entries. I have a lot of single skeins...

I'm at 218 entries. That number on January 1 was 211. I am going in the *wrong* direction, y'all.

The pictures here are two of the new skeins that have followed me home and become their own Ravelry entries. Together, they are only about 450 yards. (Only she says, hahahahahah).  And both skeins are gorgeous. I found Sea Turtle Fiber Arts on Instagram and her color sense is stunning.  The worsted base (Gray above) is particularly delicious. 

Part of me wants to pull out all single skeins above fingering weight and just Cast Them All On.  The rest of me is remembering that I have two bins overflowing with current projects and I need to finish *something* / *ANYTHING* before I fling more into the rotation.

But a hat would be quick, wouldn't it?

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

I Promise I'm Just a Really Dedicated Fan

You've heard me rave about Stitched by Jessalu (1) before -- and here I will again. Theoretically I'd say I use these bags til they fall apart but honestly, all the ones I have are extremely well made and haven't yet really shown much wear, despite being stuffed into work bags, hauled all over the world, and so on. 

I tend to keep an eye on Jess's shop for hedgehog fabrics, of which she's had several. When she announced last fall that for all of her Fall Events would have this Hedgehog Hearts Print there was some brief gnashing of teeth. I wouldn't be at those events. What if she sold out? What about ME, I inwardly whined. This was of course as I was stuffing projects into the myriad beautiful project bags that I already own. 

And then it happened. Transferring between two trains one day, my project bag got lost. I called our public transit -- no one had turned it in. At best, I think that the clip I was wearing pushed open and the bag got left behind and the person tidying up the train didn't realize it held a just started sock project.   My beloved Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock bag -- the one joke I actually took away from Big Bang Theory -- it was gone.(2)  

The yarn was BMFA STR. I could replace that. Tina and team are still dying that color (Chasing Flamingos). [That said, I haven't replaced it yet... I probably should before it rotates out. Waiting on my Socks that Rock Rockstar yarn first.]

Sadly and just a bit frantically, I had WOE about this on Instagram (hedgielib if you want to see more cat and yarn photos). And Jess, being the lovely and excellent seamstress that she is, said But Wait, She Might Be Able to Replace the Bag.  

Jessalu to the rescue!! Behold my new box bag! 2nd verse, same as the first and yes, it's identical to the original and has already been pressed into service.  

Of course because I was already being dreadfully cheeky getting this replacement, I also inquired about the hedgehog love print -- as her fall shop hadn't yet reopened in face of wrangling events and pre-holiday things.  To my delight, she had not sold out!! So along with the RPSLS bag, I got a "Large Box" -- which is more of a 2-3 skein sized project bag, still in the very sturdy rectangle shape and with a handle. 

This is presently carrying the hot pink dental floss project, which does not leave Chez Hedgehog because I am not about to misplace, dump my coffee over, etc the 5000+ stitches I have already done on Aello.  But it has hedgehogs and hearts and it makes me happy. 

Gypsy likes it too.  

(1) Stitched by Jessalu just had a spring update, including some of the hedgehog bags and some that have Star Wars fabric last I looked.  

(2) Ask me sometime if you see me in person, I can indeed do the entire RPSLS hand gestures sequence.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Divided Time

Whenever I get through a large project or the deadline knitting that comes with the end of the year, I turn into a squirrel of casting on -- starting with wild  abandon multiple knitting projects which have had to wait "just until I finish X."

And monogamous knitting is a rarity around here, the lace shawl sprint in December not withstanding. Realistically I need at least one project which doesn't require extensive attention which may be hauled hither and yon throughout my days and forms of public transit. Possibly two, because one can get tedious right?

Ever a creature of habit, I've cast on a sock. This was my New Years Eve knitting, started at the party to ring the new year in. It is Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock Lightweight in the Harvest Star colorway. My usual 1x1 rib sock, 60 stitches.  I'm about halfway through the heel flap of the first sock.  This year I do intend to make a few pair of socks to supplement my own sock drawer, which got no new additions in 2019. 

Most of my passive knitting time thus for for 2020, however, has been this log cabin square, which is currently sitting at 19.5" across. The goal is 36" -- which, if my math serves, should be another full five rounds. I've got plenty of yarn, that's not a concern, but I'm starting to run out of oomph on this project, despite my usual love of garter and log cabins. I just hit the 100 stitches mark in the amount I'm picking up.  It's a gift that needs to be wrapped up fairly soon; so it will continue on the commute  knitting. If I can average one rectangle per day I could nearly have it done by February. Never mind that each new rectangle picks up another 200 stitches. 

But of course all of my other knitting gets shuffled aside anytime I get to work on the Hot Pink Aello. I just finished row 13 on Sunday night. The pattern is now changing on each right side row, fortunately it's a very intuitive change.  Even so, 433 stitches take time, and I had several moments of wondering how I managed to end up with 19 stitches in the occasional repeat.  Apparently I cannot always be trusted to slip-slip-knit as required. 

But there's clearly been work done, visibly stitches than I had at the beginning of the weekend.  So that's something to be pleased by even if it hasn't just fallen off the needles as a complete object in mere days.  

Now back into the week I'm unlikely to have hours to sit and work on this lace, no matter how much I may wish to do so.  (Lace is far more interesting than general email management most of the time.) But spreading out what knitting time I have does mean I feel like I'm not actually making much progress on anything. Everything gets a little bit of work and while it will all eventually add up, like the papers I have been finishing and sending off to journals at work it all feels so incremental as to not be actual progress.  This of course is compounded by a couple of knitterly friends who have already finished at least one of their projects for Loopy Graduate Academy this semester. I must remember that I am competing with myself,  not them, and we all have different knitting speeds and time available.

Maybe if I just get one more row done, though....

Thursday, January 9, 2020


So much in the world feels out of my control -- governments, climate change, wildfires. Those are things almost too big and nebulous to even try and wrap my thoughts around. And then there are large stressful changes that are local -- a new semester starting with new students and courses, new job responsibilities, staffing changes one did or did not expect, friends who need extra support. All of us trying to

I watched on Twitter these past two weeks as the complete and utter soap opera / this can't possibly be real / how on earth will this get worse nonsense of the Romance Writers of America implosion. Every and I mean ever non-profit member organization I know of should be looking very carefully around their own houses and processes and procedures and also cleaning house. 

And the work that I do feels so often ephemeral. Physical evidence of teaching information seeking and critical appraisal work can be thin on the ground. Data management is best when the disasters are prevented --thereby not leaving evidence. 

So I need tangible because my other work is not; I need complicated because I want a challenge I can make a difference on; I want bright because it is winter and dark most of the time, even though yesterday's sky was gloriously blue.

I am 5 rows into a bottom-up lace shawl knit out of what feels like the equivalent of hot pink dental floss (very very nice wool dental floss). Currently my row count is 443 stitches and the rows are taking somewhere around 40 minutes (less for the rest rows).  Each row gets marked off on the chart. 

The yarn is Hedgehog Fibres laceweight in the Merlot colorway. I can honestly say I've never had a glass wine that was this color. The pattern is Aello by Marnie Maclean, whose design work I've been meaning to knit for years.  

I donate, I work, I call, I write, I send another 100 endless email responses. 

And I knit another row before I go to bed. It's slow magic, but visible magic nonetheless. I have accomplished something, I can accomplish other things too. 

Eventually there will be a shawl. 

Completed: Hot Pink Dental Floss

My entire dining room floor is currently covered with hot pink lace. This large and incredibly bright piece of knitting has been taki...