it has begun!

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I said that my Fiddlehead Yoke design was next up, and I meant it. On Friday, I cast on, and as of today, I have nearly an entire sweater body!

I knit almost an entire sweater body this weekend. Lettlopi knits up so fast!

It took awhile to get going, because I am apparently spectacularly bad at counting when I’m doing a tubular cast-on. The first time, I cast on 10 too few stitches and knit almost the entire hem before realizing it. Then I cast on 20 too many (it’s the 10s place that I get messed up on, it seems), but thankfully noticed that while knitting the very first row. Third time was the charm!

Tubular cast-on, garter rib hem. Took 3 tries to actually cast on the correct number!

I ended up, after a great deal of internal debate, deciding to use 1×1 garter rib for the hems and cuffs. I considered garter stitch, and also considered doing a contrasting cast-on, but I couldn’t decide which of the yoke colors I’d use for it, and I do really like the look of garter rib. I’m still not 100% sure it was the right call, though. But I suppose if I end up deciding that it doesn’t really go with the sweater once I’ve done the yoke, I can always rip out the hems/cuffs and do something different. I also considered doing the yoke first, top-down, but decided to use the more traditional bottom-up approach for this one. I’m kinda kicking myself over that, because I’m desperate to see what the yoke actually looks like knit up, but patience, patience, self, you’ll get there.

I’ve made some revisions to my yoke charts, mostly because I realized that given the row gauge I’m getting, my yoke was going to be far too tall. I looked at a few of the Lettlopi-based yoked sweater patterns that I own, and got a better sense for what a realistic number of rows in a yoke might be, and I’m pretty tickled with my charts now.

Considering how quickly the body came together, and the fact that we’ve got a road trip coming up at the end of the week (we’re going to Ohio to visit my in-laws for Memorial Day weekend), I very well might have a new sweater in the next week or two. Wow! Worsted weight knits up so fast compared to the sport weight I was using for my Elle Melle (which, by the way, is entirely finished except for end-weaving, blocking, and zipper-installation!).

Snuggling my Lopi sweater-in-progress.

I haven’t steeked a sweater in nearly a decade, so I’m a bit nervous about that part, but I know people put steeks in lopapeysas all the time, so I’ll just have to be brave!

oh, hey, i can knit again!

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This Spring semester has been pretty brutal on a whole bunch of levels, but now I’M DONE! I submitted and sealed my grades today, which means now I’m down to just the baseline level of research/meetings, which means I CAN KNIT AGAIN! And the first thing on my to-do list was knitting sleeve #2 of my grown-up Elle Melle. I finished it last night, and then moved onto the neckline this morning, and look, it’s almost finished!

Just button bands left to do!

Just button bands left to knit (and then a whole lot of end-weaving), but that’ll take some math, and I might need my brain to recover from non-stop final portfolio grading a bit before I’m up for that.

Almost done!


Still pretty darn tickled with how this is turning out. I did some short-rows at the neckline to contour it a bit, like I did with M’s Elle Melle, and I’m pretty happy with how it looks:

Almost done!

Look at the pretty raglan line!

Pretty raglan shoulder

I actually had been doing a little bit of knitting during the last couple of weeks of the semester, but it needed to be small and portable and relatively mindless…

A bigger hat for Miro

…like this 2×2 rib hat. It’s a replacement for the hat I knit for a friend’s baby. That hat got lost, and since baby had grown in the meantime, I made his hat a bit bigger. I know it looks impossibly narrow in the first photo, but it really does stretch!

Very stretchy!

It even stretches to fit MY head!

Proof that it stretches to fit my head!

But here’s what it’ll really look like:

What it'll actually look like.

I have SO many knitting plans for this summer, friends…far too many to actually make happen, given that I’ve got research work and travel and upcoming jury duty and cleaning up/clearing out our oh-so-messy house both inside and out (a 1000sqft house plus 3 people, one of whom creates an entire living-room full of art/engineering projects on a weekly basis, and the other two of whom work full time and are too tired to do much cleaning, can get *awfully* bad if neglected for most of the span of that first one’s life). But the next thing on my list, once I finish Elle Melle, is my Fiddlehead Yoke cardigan. I’ve got the yarn, I’ve got the design mapped out…it is GOING to happen this summer!

Vernal Equinox, 2017

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Tomorrow, we celebrate 12 years of marriage!
And now we are 12!

Today is our 12th wedding anniversary, and also the Vernal Equinox. 48 seasons together as a married couple! Here’s to many, many more with my beloved.

We kinda forgot to make plans to celebrate our anniversary (whoops!), but we *did* celebrate the Equinox as a family, so at least there’s that!

Service was "in the round" today. Very lovely!

Madrigal and I started the day with an Equinox Celebration at our UU church, which was a really lovely intergenerational service with music and dancing and seed-planting. Then, the whole family took off for Naples, NY, to go the Cumming Nature Center for the last day of their Maple Sugaring events.

Maple Sugaring time! (It's actually way too cold - the sap is frozen in all of the buckets!)

It’s actually too cold right now – the sap is all frozen in the buckets, but it was still a lot of fun to walk the trails and learn a bit about how maple syrup is made.

Watching the big pot boiling down the sap.

M even practiced carrying the sap buckets with a wooden yoke:

Ready to carry some sap!

The sugar shack was a nice, warm stop along the trail!

Running to the sugar shack!

Madrigal was SO happy on the trails, and kept saying, “mama, it’s so beautiful, it’s just like my dreams coming true!”

She kept saying, "mama, it's so beautiful, this is my dream come true!" Gotta take this girl on more hikes in the woods, because apparently that's what her good dreams are all about!!

We’ve got to take this girl on more hikes in the woods, because apparently that really is what her favorite dreams are all about! We even got her to take a photo of us, and she did a great job!

Maddy took a picture of us!

This kid loves snow:

A girl and her giant snowball.

And also maple candy!

Sampling the maple goodness.

We followed up the hike with a few gifts for M (we celebrate each turn of the seasons with “something to do, something to wear, and something to read”):

Maddy's Equinox "do, wear, read" gifts: Snapcircuits, two awesome books, and a new sun hat (not pictured)

She got Snapcircuits, two awesome books, and a new (red!) sun hat, and was very excited about all of them. Then, we ended the day with our now-traditional candles at dinner (we light them for every Equinox and every Solstice):

Candles for our (one day early) Equinox celebration.

A lovely way to celebrate the coming Spring! I wish all of you a very happy Equinox, and a delightful Spring.

This is not Portland.

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Showing off a finished sleeve (plus a ton of snow)
(but I do have Elle-Melle sleeve-progress to show off after I ramble about snow!)

I was supposed to be in Portland today, presenting at the CCCC Convention, but Winter Storm Stella had other ideas. But of course, as these things go, I only discovered that getting there in time to present would be impossible AFTER digging out the driveway and going all the way to the airport. Thankfully, one member of our presentation team (ironically, the one named Stella!) made it there, so I’m all set to present via Skype later today.

so much snow.
(totally dressed for Skype – pretty, professional knitwear on top, comfy cords on the bottom!)

Anyway, back to the snow. Like so many folks in the north eastern US, we got quite a dumping from Winter Storm Stella. It started Tuesday afternoon and then did not let up until Wednesday afternoon. My husband and I took turns shoveling so as to make things easier, but let me tell you a fun fact about shoveling when you are getting a couple of inches of snow per hour: the air is so thick with snow that when you try to take a deep breath (because, oh, let’s say you’re out of breath from carrying 25lb shovelfuls of snow from the front of your house to your backyard because you’ve run out of room in front) you end up breathing in snow, which makes you choke and then you set off a wheezing fit. It’s FUN! But on the plus side, you do get to feel like a pretty awesome badass for moving all that snow, especially if, like me, you put on some headphones and rock out to Florence and the Machine while you shovel. This morning, I half gave up on shoveling, and just used the shovel to break up the massive snow-boulders at the end of our driveway so that I could pick them up and chuck them atop the massive 4.75 foot snow wall that now surrounds our house.


(Massive snow wall, front view)

We have a 4.75 foot wall of snow around our house now. Good thing there's no more snow in the forecast because we are seriously out of room!
(Massive snow wall, back view)

Of course, snow is TONS of (non-sarcastic) fun when you’re a 5 year old who does not have to clear the driveway and attempt to work at home during a snowstorm that follows a devastating windstorm (we got 80mph winds last week that took out power lots of places, including my daughter’s school, so we’ve now had 2 wind days followed by 2 snow days and let’s just say that’s a lot of no-school days for a household with two working parents to manage!)

My beautiful snowbaby :)
(My beautiful snowbaby)

M was so happy to go on “adventures” in her snow gear with me on Tuesday, and I will say, once I gave up on the idea of getting any more work done, it was pretty fun for me, too!

Snow Day Snuggles.
(Snow Day Snuggles)

Anyway, enough about snow – let’s talk about my grown-up Elle Melle! I’ve finished sleeve number one, and picked up the stitches for sleeve number two, rendering it at least somewhat wearable, so I decided to use the beautiful snow backdrop to take some progress shots.

Making progress on Elle Melle

I’m really happy with how the fit is coming out – I know that after blocking, it will end up slightly longer than it currently is, so it’s looking like it’ll be pretty much perfect! Here it is from the back (and slightly out of focus, but it’s COLD and I didn’t feel like getting fussy with the camera):

From the back

And here’s a closeup of the raglan edge – ain’t it purty?

Close-up of raglan join

For future reference, here is what I did: I picked up EVERY stitch (from the outside leg of the reverse stockinette stitch that runs up the edge when I do my sl1, p1 edging that I talked about in my last post), and then I knit a round in which I ssk’d each pair of stitches (to cut the number in half, since the pattern instructs to pick up every other stitch) down one side, and k2tog’d each pair up the other side, and THEN I followed the pattern directions for the raglan short-rows. One other difference is that I slip the first stitch both when I purl back across AND when I knit back across (the pattern doesn’t have you slip the first stitch on the knit rows). These two things helped me avoid the gappiness that I find occurs if you follow the pattern directions exactly.

Over the shoulder of the finished sleeve.

I’m just so happy with how it’s turning out, and I can’t wait to finish it – but it turns out to be terribly difficult to knit after you’ve utterly blown out your forearms carrying shovelfuls of snow for two days. (It’s also strangely hard to type, or do anything that requires my fingers to listen to my brain and not be clumsy.)

I hope you all survived Winter Storm Stella, friends! I’m sad that I’m not in Portland, but at least it’s really beautiful outside with the sunshine on the bright white coating of snow.

making progress on Elle Melle (for me!)

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Being silly with my knit-in-progress.

I’m making good progress on my me-sized Elle Melle now that I don’t have the Fiddlehead Mittens as my object of obsession. Generally speaking, I’m a serially-monogamous knitter, though I’ll make exceptions for having something small like a baby hat or plain mitten or easy cowl on the needles for on-the-go purposes; the Fiddlehead Mittens, with their colorwork, did not fit this bill and so became my one-and-only for the time I was knitting them. But now, my attentions are back on the Elle Melle sweater, and I’ve got a front and most of the back finished!

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I’m really loving how this is turning out – I’m using the pattern as a guide, but redoing the math to yield a size that’s a bit bigger around, but less long in the body, than the biggest size in the kids pattern. I’m also making a few of my characteristic adjustments, like the way that I edge knits when I’m planning to pick up stitches for button bands or sleeves:

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I slip the edge stitch, and then do a single stitch in reverse stockinette next to it, which creates a lovely edge, especially if I pick up from the outer leg of that little column of knit stitches running up the edge. The slipped stitch looks so nice nestled between the body and the button band, or along the raglan line, between the solid-colored sleeve and the striped body. This means I have to adjust the decreases, but I think it creates a nice line when they’re done a bit further from the edge.

My only complaint about the knitting so far has to do with the yarn. I’m using Classic Elite Mohawk Wool, and while the yarn itself is perfectly fine (it’s no Beaverslide Sport/Sock, but it’s nice enough), for some reason, my black skeins were utterly FULL of weak spots; I kind of think that the yarn got nicked by a box-cutter, because there were a lot of spots that looked like all but one of the plies had been cut. So I ended up with lots of little balls when I wound the yarn from the skeins, and then while knitting, discovered more spots (and often had to unknit back to give myself enough of a tail to weave in). So many ends!

Look at all those ends. I don't know if my skeins of black Classic Elite Mohawk Wool got knicked by a box cutter or what, but there have been SO many breaks in the yarn, where only part of one ply was holding it together. Very frustrating!

I think it’s going to be a great sweater in the end, and I don’t even mind end-weaving all that much, but gosh, if I’d’ve known…well, I might’ve gone for the Beaverslide Sport/Sock instead. I had gone back and forth about it when I was planning this sweater, and decided to try the Mohawk in hopes that the nylon would give it a bit more sturdiness (and also because the Mohawk was on sale!), but alas, all I’ve got is a mess of ends and no chance of the glorious blooming that happens with the woolen-spun yarn. And for a woolen-spun yarn, Beaverslide Sport/Sock isn’t even THAT delicate, I think thanks to the mohair that’s blended in. Ah, well, they can’t all be winners, and I’ve got some Beaverslide Sport/Sock for a me-sized stripey pocket sweater, anyway, so I’ll get to knit with the good stuff again :)

Fiddleheads: Finished!!

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Loving my new mittens

Last Wednesday, while my upper-level writing students did group work, I finished the lining of Fiddlehead Mitten number two, and this Saturday I was able to take Real Camera photos of them. I could not possibly be more delighted with how they turned out!

Fiddlehead Mittens!

Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: Fiddlehead Mittens, by Adrian Bazilia
Yarn: the entirety of 1 skein of Lettlopi in “Glacier Blue Heather”, plus parts of 5 mini-skeins of Bartlettyarns Worsted from Rhinebeck 2016, plus a little over one skein of Berocco Ultra Alpaca Light in “Pea Soup” for the linings.
Needles: size 3 dpns (yes, that did make for a really brutal i-cord cast-on with the Bartlettyarns!)
Time to knit: a little more than one month

Pretty Pretty Mitten!

In all honesty, the Fiddleheads were essentially knit on a whim – I noticed my little bag of mini-skeins, thought they might be nice for a colorwork mitten, and the Fiddlehead pattern immediately sprang to mind. I wasn’t sure what to use as the background color yarn, but I really liked the look of the pattern sample that used light blue, and I thought of the Lettlopi from the Lopi Affection cardigan I started and then abandoned. The pairing worked out wonderfully!

Showing off the lining

For the lining, I did some stash diving, and found some Berocco Ultra Alpaca Light in “Pea Soup”, which didn’t exactly “match” any of the colors in the mitten, but I think it coordinated quite well…and it let me stick to my stash-busting intentions!

Standing up!

The dense knitting (Bartlettyarns on 3’s is no joke!) means that my mittens stand up on their own (and conveniently, this makes a “W”, my initial! Also, holy moly do we ever need to repaint our porch!)

Happy with my new mittens!

They are so warm and comfortable, and I just couldn’t be happier with them. True story: when my daughter saw me trying on the finished mittens, her first comment was, “mama, you should make a sweater with that pattern!”

I swear she hadn’t heard me plotting, but kiddo, I agree 100%! And the yarn is all ready, and the charts are looking good, and the math has been done, so all that remains is to find some time when I can cast on!

The Lopi for the Fiddlehead-inspired yoke sweater I'm dreaming up arrived! (The Glacier Blue is from my stash - already have a sweater's worth for the body!)
Future Fiddlehead Yoke Cardigan!

mitten progress!

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I finished knitting the outer Fiddlehead Mittens last weekend, and I could not be more delighted with how they turned out!

Doing silly poses, at M's direction.
(M was behind me in that picture, encouraging me to make silly faces for the camera!)

End-weaving took awhile, with all those colors, but I was pretty charmed with how my pile of ends looked in the end.

End-weaving complete.

The next step was to knit mitten linings…and I almost didn’t want to, because look how gorgeous those floats are on the inside of the mitten!

Inside out.

I’ve had some pea-green Ultra Alpaca light in my stash for AGES, and decided to use it for the mitten lining. It doesn’t match any of the colors in the outer mitten, but I think it coordinates nicely:

Using Ultra Alpaca from the stash for lining. It doesn't match any of the colors, but it coordinates nicely.

On Thursday, one of my classes had a work period, and since it’s early the semester, I didn’t have any grading/feedbacking to do while they worked, so I knit the thumb section of the mitten lining:

My students had a work period this morning, so I was able to do the thumb increases on my mitten lining!

I did a bit more knitting in my office yesterday…

Working on my Fiddlehead Mittens, in my poorly-lit office.

…and by this morning, I had finished the lining for mitten number one!

Finished the lining for mitten number one!

I’m hopeful that by next weekend, I can have a finished set of lined Fiddlehead Mittens!

The state of the world and particularly of my country is still weighing very heavily on me, and knitting is one of the things I can do to soothe myself. I don’t intend to soothe myself into inaction – very much the opposite, I hope to be able to keep myself level enough to be able to actively resist what is happening. Speaking of the combination of knitting and resistance, if you have not yet see Bristol Ivy’s amazing Peace de Resistance mitten pattern, go check it out. She’s contributing the proceeds to a rolling list of social justice organizations, and has already raised an impressive amount of money. I’m so proud of what our community of socially-minded knitters can accomplish together. I’d like to knit a pair for myself, and just need to find the right stash yarn for the job. I’ve got some hot pink Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock that I haven’t found any other use for, but I’m not sure what I’d combine it with for good contrast. Time to go stash diving.