stripes! (with more false starts)

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The weather is finally warming up enough that I can take knitting to the playground with me to work on while M plays in the sandbox! Hooray, Spring!

Knitting at the playground

What you see in that photo is the 3rd? 4th? (I’ve lost track…it’s the “current” one, at any rate) attempt at the Stripes! cardigan I’m knitting for myself using Eco Wool and Knitpicks Chroma. After I finished Seraphim, I turned my attention to planning out a top-down version of the cardigan (as mentioned in this post). I cast on and knit the corrugated rib + vikkel braid collar at our recent Knitting Guild meeting (where Franklin Habit was the guest – he was SO FUN!), and then knit on it every evening during our nightly Parks & Rec viewing (we’re in Season 5 now – gosh, I love this show!)…

Top-down Stripes! Cardigan-in-progress for me :)

…but notice how it seems to be doing a lot of waving/kinking on the needles, and doesn’t want to lay flat? At first, I was blaming that on the needles, but no, it was the knit.

"Trying it on" (as much as one can, when its attached to cable needles that want to kink like crazy)

It just wasn’t going to work. It turns out that my brain is doing a horrible job of turning my usual “bottom up” formula for a yoke (which involves decreases) into a “top-down” formula for a yoke (which would involve increases), and I was increasing far too rapidly. So, I ripped it out and started over (again), and am slowly getting myself back to the point where it was before I ripped (it’s almost there, I just don’t have up-to-date photos). I’ve “tried” the new version on (with it on the needles) and it seems to be working much better. Here’s hoping that by this weekend, I can have a finished yoke, and start working on the body of the sweater…or do y’all think I should knit the sleeves down first?

it only took 6 years…

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Bundled up in my Seraphim shawl (angora is delightfully warm!)

I finished Seraphim in time to wear it for my birthday this Sunday! I cast on for this shawl, according to Ravelry, in Spring of 2009, only to end up shoving it in a drawer when I’d almost reached the lace patterning and not discovering it again until about a month ago. I’m so glad I finished it. Isn’t it beautiful?

I knit a very pretty triangle!

Here are the details:
Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: Seraphim, by Miriam Felton
Yarn: Fly Designs Flutterby, in Turquoise
Needles: Knitpicks size 3 circulars

The Flutterby yarn was absolutely delightful to knit with – it’s an angora-nylon blend, is amazingly soft, has a gorgeous halo, and barely sheds at all (compared to other experiences I’ve had with angora). I definitely want to knit with it again sometime – it is an absolute delight to wear around my shoulders. So warm, too, which is not exactly the best given that we’re heading into Spring and warmer weather, but I run cold, and there will always be another Winter.

RealCamera shawl photo from this morning.

Blocking shawls is quite a challenge in our house, given the combination of cats, a preschooler, and hardwood floors (no pinnable surfaces!). I was able to rig up my foam tiles from Knitpicks to get enough pinnable surface area in combination with my blocking wires after M went to bed one evening last week, and then we carried the whole thing down to the basement to keep the cats away. Ooof!

Blocking. Goodness, it's hard to block lace in this house.

Alas, the angora didn’t hold the blocking all the well, and the edges are already starting to curl a bit when I wear it the way I prefer to wear triangle shawls.

Seraphim, worn the way I normally wear triangle shawls.

I may decide to add a crochet edging or something to try to counteract that, but I just don’t think it’s in this yarn’s nature to hold a severe blocking. It’s pretty even with the curling, and just so incredibly wonderful to wear around my neck.

Seraphim shawl, lace closeup

I’m not sure if I have any other partially-finished projects stashed away that would be worth finishing, but this one…this one I’m very glad I finished! It was a wonderful birthday present to myself, 6 years in the making. My birthday this Sunday ended up being fantastic – the weather was AMAZING, the service at church was delightfully music-filled, I got to blow out candles on a carrot-cupcake from the batch that A and M made while I was working my butt off giving feedback on my students’ research papers on Saturday, go to hang out with my work friends at a party that evening, and the funniest one: M slept the whole night in her own bed Saturday night, so when she woke up, I told her she’d given me the best birthday present ever by doing that. So then when she slept in her own bed the whole night on Sunday night, the next morning she proudly said, “mama, I gave you another birthday present!” Other funny thing: I jokingly told her that since our gutters (which got torn off by falling ice) were being replaced today, that they were a birthday present for me too, and so now she’s calling them my “birthday gutters”. Because isn’t that what every newly-32 year old wants for her birthday?

our low-key crafty easter weekend

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Since we celebrate the Equinox and aren’t Christian, Easter isn’t exactly a big deal in our house. But M likes bunnies and is fascinated by the concept of Easter eggs, so we had fun with those good old pagan symbols of fertility and new life. First, M drew a bunch of eggs, and colored them in:

She drew a bunch of "Easter eggs" and now she's coloring them in (while wearing her cape and cowgirl hat, because why not?)

In case you’re wondering, that’s her “superhero-cowgirl-artist” costume…she loves to combine the cowgirl hat that she got at a friend’s birthday party with the cape that I made her for Halloween so that she can be a superhero-cowgirl for whatever activity she’s interested in:

Superhero-cowgirl-artist at work.

She had me cut out the eggs as she colored them in, so that she could “put them in the oven to cook them” (the oven was just one of her baskets). I love watching her work – she’s really developed some good skills in the crayon/marker/pen-holding area in the last month or so and is getting really good at drawing and coloring!

Focused little fingers.

But we didn’t just make colored paper eggs – of course we had to dye some, too! M was fascinated by the process of dissolving the little color pellets in vinegar:

Getting ready to dye some eggs (yes, that's pumped milk in the background - we discovered a cache of VERY old stuff in our freezer and are thawing/dumping!)

She’d been talking all weekend about how she wanted to make a purple egg…

Maddy dropped 2 tablets into the same glass jar, so she's gonna get a red-purple. (Yeah, we're using a Paas kit...next year, we'll do the natural dye thing, I think!)

…so then of course, in her impatience, she threw the red pellet in with the purple one instead of putting it in its own jar, and thus killed any possibility of having a purple egg – that red dye definitely won out!

Patience is not a strong suit. (Can we dye them yet? Now? Now?)

M found it very hard to wait for the moment when we finally put the eggs into the jars to dye – and we ended up cracking one in the process. Oh well, just an extra snack! These glass jam jars (leftover from the jam that A eats) were perfect for dying eggs.

They're in!

The colors turned out beautifully dark and somewhat earth-toned, because the eggs we hard-boiled were brown-shelled. The next morning (actual Easter), she was VERY excited to find her eggs in the basket!

Enjoying "her" egg (daddy wrote her initials on it with white crayon before dyeing it)

We wrote initials on the eggs with white crayons before dyeing them, so that red one really is hers. Here’s mine:

My egg :)

Much to our surprise, M (who has gotten incredibly picky about food in the last few months) dug right into her egg – she wouldn’t eat the yolk, but the rest was gobbled right up:

Eating her egg. (I'm actually kind of shocked that Miss Picky dove into her hard boiled egg! She won't eat the yolk, but she gobbled up the rest.)

In her Easter basket, she got just three things (other than the eggs): a book (called “Pelle’s New Suit” – it is WONDERFUL!!), a whale-shaped nail brush (she loves scrubbing and goodness does she ever get gunk under her fingernails), and a coloring book.

Her low-key Easter things (we just celebrated the Equinox, after all!): a nail brush, a cute book about a boy and his lamb, and a coloring book.

She was so excited about her coloring book that she colored it with BOTH hands!

Two-handed coloring book action!

I was interested to see that her crayon grip was just as good in her left hand as in her right. Perhaps she’ll be like me (I’m sort of mixed-handed; fairly ambidextrous, but right-dominant for writing and other stuff I learned in school, and left-dominant for things like needle-threading and other stuff that I taught myself).

I was also a busy little crafter over the weekend, and knit like crazy on my Seraphim shawl, even when my lap was occupied by M…

My lap is VERY full (with M plus my knitting!)

…and last night, before bed, I finished the bind-off!

I might've knit like a crazy person today - the shawl is finished! Just gotta figure out how to block it. This thing is WARM!

I just have to figure out where/how to block it! It is beautiful, and WARM! I’m so glad I found this project after it got buried in drawer for nearly 6 years, and I can’t wait to wear it…perhaps I’ll have it blocked in time to wear it for my birthday next Sunday!

first week of spring wasn’t very springy…

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Oh, Winter, you just don't want to let go, do you?

…but I did get some knitting progress in, so there’s that. M’s school had their “Spring Celebration” on Friday, so I got some Seraphim-knitting time in during the time between drop-off and the event itself (since there was no point driving elsewhere only to not be able to park when we returned).

Knitting while waiting for the Spring Celebration to start. (Just like last year, except a different project!)

I love that this photo almost perfectly recreates the one in my blog header – same outfit, same background…just a different project! I’m so delighted with how Seraphim is turning out so far, but before we get to that, how about some cute pictures of M in her Spring Celebration outfit?

Cutie patootie with her duster.

She loves having me braid her hair and clip it up behind her hair (kind of like how I used to wear mine, back when it was long), and it looks SO cute on her! The only way I could get her to sit still was to give her a duster to “work” with…and eventually I actually got her to look at the camera!

Finally, she looks at the camera!

But back to Seraphim…I’m almost finished with Chart 2, and it is looking AMAZING in this turquoise angora yarn!

Almost done with Chart 2, backlit. #seraphim

I’m so, so excited to finish it so that I can wear it, although it’ll probably be awhile yet, since every row takes quite a long time now.

So happy with how this is turning out. Excited to finish it (eventually...each row takes forever now!)

Oh well – I’ll have it for next fall/winter, at least!

I also made progress on the stripey socks I’ve been knitting for M. I present Stripey Sock the First:

Stripey sock number one.

I am SO tickled with how perfectly the stripes worked out for the garter stitch short-rowed heel and toe! The heel seems to stay put a bit better on M’s foot than the heel-flap on the purple socks does, so I think I’ll stick with garter short-row heels (and toes) for her socks for now. And now that I know how many stripes make for a sock that fits M (over 52 stitches – the heel and toe were knit over 26), knitting Stripey Sock the Second should be a breeze!

Beginnings of Stripey Sock number 2

Here’s hoping the weather warms up in time for my birthday (2 weeks from today) – I’d love to be able to spend some time outside to celebrate!

long lost WIP

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The other day, while I was digging through a drawer looking for something else, a bright blue knit caught my eye.

So unbelievably soft

It turned out to be Seraphim, which (according to that Ravelry link) I cast on for back in May of 2009! How’s that for a long-lost project? Once I spotted it, I knew I had to finish it – the bright blue angora yarn was just too deliciously soft and I want to be able to wear it on my shoulders NOW!

So unbelievably soft. I'm excited to finish off this Seraphim that's been languishing in a drawer, forgotten since 2009, apparently!

I wanted to get knitting right away, but couldn’t find my copy of the pattern – I bought it pre-Ravelry, and didn’t have a digital copy. But fortunately, I was able to ask the designer (who I’m friends with on Twitter) and she helpfully supplied me with one. Upon reading it, I figured out that I was only about 20 rows from the start of the lace charts! So I took off:

Shawl-in-progress, in a sunbeam. This is the long-forgotten Seraphim shawl, and I'm only 3 rows from starting the charts now. This bright blue angora yarn is so lovely!

Except I actually was only 10 rows away, it turned out…but I was able to fudge the charts enough to make up for my mis-counting. I’m really delighted with how it’s looking!

Seraphim-in-progress

I can’t wait to add this shawl to my neck-adornment collection of 2015! (You know, only 6 years after I started it!)

things i make for maddy: socks!

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Somebody is pretty happy with her new pair of socks!

Showing off her new socks.

I finished them this weekend, and she’s already worn them around the house and gotten them completely embedded with cat hair. (This says more about our poor housekeeping skills than anything else, really – goodness, our floors are gross!) To her chagrin, they lack the “grippies” that are on the bottom of her Day of the Week socks from Old Navy, so she’s already wiped out on our wood floors a couple of times. I don’t really want to paint the bottoms of these handknit socks with puff paint, so I think she’s just going to have to live with slightly slippery socks (or, she could actually take my advice and wear her slippers over them – but what 3.5 year old actually wants to listen to her mama’s advice?).

Finished!

I’m pretty pleased that I was able to remember enough to knit a passable pair of socks despite not having knit any in AGES! And these were perfect for using up the leftover yarn from my own socks. M likes the picot/eyelet detail at the top of the cuff, which I used to mirror the detail on my own socks. And I really like the way the slipped-stitch “arch support” section worked out!

For anyone who’s curious about the details, here they are:

Shoe Size: M is currently wearing size 10 (wide) shoes, and her foot is ~6.5″ in circumference.

Cast On: 52sts on size 1 needles using backwards-loop cast-on.
Picot Cuff: Knit 5 rounds plain, then *yo, k2tog* around, then 5 more rounds plain, then knit each stitch together with the corresponding cast-on loop.
Garter eyelets: purl one round, then *yo, k2tog* around, then purl the next round.

Then I knit plain for a few inches, and did a heel flap over 26 sts and 20 rows:
RS: *sl1, k1* to end
WS: sl1, purl to end

Then I did a heel flap (about which see below – I wouldn’t do it this way again!):
RS: Knit to center stitch, k1, ssk, k1, turn.
WS: Purl to the stitch before the “gap”, p2tog, p1, turn
(Continue in this fashion until all the stitches are used up, then pick up stitches around and rejoin for gusset – I did the standard every-other-round gusset decreases until I was back to 50sts – I meant to go to 52 but I goofed up on the first sock so replicated it on the second)

Then I did the slipped-stitch “arch support” over the central 12 sts of the sole, for 14 rounds:
Round 1: starting 6 sts before the end-of-round marker in the center of the sole, *s1, k1* 6 times
Round 2: knit all stitches

Then I knit plain until the toe, where I did the standard toe decreases:
Round 1: knit 9, k2tog, k2, ssk, then knit until 15 sts remain, k2tog, k2, ssk, knit remaining 9 sts.
Round 2: knit all stitches
(Continue decreasing on either side of those central 2 sts until 22 total sts remain, then distribute them as evenly as possible over 2 needles and kitchener the toe – now you have a finished sock!)

New socks!!

The one part I’m not totally happy with is the heel flap – I don’t think I quite remembered how to do the turn right (it ended up weirdly pointy), and they don’t actually stay in place on her foot very well, either. I think the heel flap might be ever-so-slightly too long, but I’m also curious if a different style of heel would fit her better. On her next pair of socks (oh, yeah, there’s a next pair – I already cast on for them last night!) I’m going to try a garter-stitch short-rowed heel, just to see if that works better.

After I finished M’s socks yesterday, we went to an organ recital at my church. We brought M with us, because she loves music, and we thought she’d enjoy hearing an organ. She was…well, not really THAT well behaved, but pretty decent for a 3 year old at classical music concert! She did love the organ, and the viola (they played a Bach piece that was originally for harpsichord and viola da gamba, but worked beautifully with organ and harp), but got too wiggly and had to hang out with A in the lobby during the part with the Mezzo Soprano singer (who had a lovely voice). We were by far the youngest folks at the concert, but we got absolutely no judgement, and in fact got lots of props (and compliments on our “bravery”) from everyone there for bringing a little one to an organ concert. I figure that I want to cultivate her interest in music, and going to low-key concerts like that is the only way she’ll learn how to behave at a more formal concert. So, we’ll call the concert a success!

spring “break”

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It’s Spring Break at my university, which means my students are getting a break, and I’m spending my time giving them feedback on their midsemester portfolios! Them’s the breaks, once you’re the instructor. It is nice to be able to work at home, though on Monday, I had company from a sick M, which made working not exactly possible. Poor bug had a nasty fever along with the DST time change, and let’s just say that’s been a BRUTAL combination and we are all very tired. Oh well. C’est la vie!

It hasn’t been ALL portfolio-feedbacking – I’ve finished one of M’s socks, and have made a good deal of progress on the second. Here’s a photos of her trying the in-progress sock on:

Hey, it's looking like a sock! (I was afraid I'd f forgotten how to knit a sock!)

And here’s the almost-pair:

Almost a pair.

I decided, kind of on a whim, to try adding some slipped-stitches for the arch, as a sort of “arch support” similar to some of my storebought socks. M’s got crazy high arches (no surprise there, since A and I both have them, too), and I thought it might improve the fit. Here’s a closeup:

Closeup of slipped-stitch arch section.

It seems to work nicely, so it’s something I might do if I ever knit socks for myself again. The “pattern” for these, by the way, is what I remember from my own socks that I knit from this yarn, but over 52sts instead of 64. Just basic stockinette socks with a heel flap, and some decorative stuff at the cuff.

I also cast on for a new project today:

Cast on for a Zuzu's Petals cowl today. In MadTosh Pashmina, from a GMDS swap package.

The pattern is Zuzu’s Petals, and the yarn is MadTosh Pashmina in “Cousteau”, which I received in a Good Mail Day Swap package. Isn’t it lovely? I think this will make a very nice addition to my “neck adornment device” collection that I am working to build up this year. You know, just as it’s starting to warm up and I won’t need warm things around my neck. I’ll have them for next year, at least!

It has become more Spring-like in time for spring break, but the end result of that had actually been pretty terrible. The rapid melting of the deeply-frozen (and insanely deep) snow resulted in ice-dams that pulled our gutters off on Monday:

This just happened. Our entire gutter got torn off as enormous boulders of ice fell from our roof. Luckily (mostly) missed the car. Should've been better about clearing the roof, damn.

Thankfully, our car was mostly spared, but what I’m truly grateful for is that WE were spared – A and M had *just* come inside before this happened, and would’ve been crushed. Those ice boulders weighed over 50 pounds. It’s terrifying to think about. Then last night, at 3am, our next-door neighbor’s gutters (and, um, a good chunk of their eaves, too) came crashing down on the other side of our driveway – we didn’t really get to sleep again after that. It’s been a rough week on the sleep front. Here’s hoping for some sweet dreams tonight!