bright blues

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While last summer was the summer of green handknits, this winter seems to be shaping up to the the winter of blues, as you’ll see in just a bit. I’ve been feeling pretty blue, too – I still haven’t recovered from the extended bout with pneumonia that started in November, and it’s led me to have to miss a conference I was very excited about (I’d be on the plane right now, if I were well) and to have to pull out of the current session with my chamber orchestra, too. I’m normally such an energetic person (as anyone who’s met me in person will attest) so it’s a bit disorienting to be so flattened by fatigue for such a long time. It’s not completely unfamiliar – I’ve dealt with extended periods of fatigue before, during graduate school, but it’s a whole different ballgame as a parent who is a full-time professor. I’m trying to keep my spirits up, adjust my schedule where I can, and remember that it is probably not going to be like this forever.

Being silly with my hat-in-progress

I am such a goofball.

I’ve always really liked bright colors and I’ve always liked blue, and my stash reflects that. I mentioned in my last post that I’d cast on for a Musselbergh hat from a bright blue skein of sock yarn, and what you see above is the progress I’ve made on it so far. It’s a really great mindless knit, and mindless is good when you’re not feeling amazing.

But I was also itching to cast on for a sweater for myself, and looking through my Ravelry queue, I thought Gridlines would be a great one. I had a sweater’s worth of Madelinetosh Twist Light in Hydroponic that I picked up awhile back with the proceeds from my Wool People 1 pattern (Sullivan), and I’d originally thought I would design myself a loose, drapey sweater with it, but when I saw Gridlines, I was smitten, and I thought that it would look amazing in bright blue-green with neon speckles. And so far, it does!

Gridlines (new sweater in progress)

The pattern is kind of addictive, with the clever slipped stitches and garter ridges forming a grid, and the design is SUPER customizable in terms of width, length, and even neckline circumference (I’m knitting a size 2dM, for the record). So far, I’ve managed to knit the right front, which is what I’m showing off in the pictures:

Showing off my Gridlines sweater-in-progress

The construction is really interesting, and I’m looking forward to knitting the rest of it. So those are my “bright blues” for this winter!

Hello, 2020.

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I hadn’t intended to let the end of the year pass by without posting, but I’ve been sick with a particularly stubborn and difficult to treat case of pneumonia since November 26th, and am still working to recover, so there really hasn’t been any energy for…just about anything, since my last post. But I have made a bit of progress on my daughter’s new Stripes! cardigan – the body of the sweater is complete!

Stripes! in progress

We both really love the colorful garter ridges on the pockets:

Pocket!

I’ve also started a new mindless project for myself, using this skein of Dream in Color Smooshy from my stash:

Future Musselbergh hat. (Dream in Color Smooshy in “Vivid” from stash.)

I had originally planned to make yet another Willow Cowl from this skein, but realized that a cowl in this color wouldn’t actually add much to my wardrobe; I already have cowls that would go with just about any outfit that this color goes with. Then Ysolda released her Musselbergh hat pattern, and it struck me that a vivid blue hat would go wonderfully with my lighter blue winter coat, and would make a great replacement for the similar double-layered hat that I made for myself over a decade ago, which unfortunately made its way into one of my cat’s claws and teeth awhile back. The mindless stockinette seemed like it would be perfect for the cross-country plane trip to the MLA conference this week, where I’d take part in a panel with folks I’ve been wanting to meet for ages…but the pneumonia has weakened me so much that my doctor advised me against traveling, so it turns out that I’m not going. I’m heartbroken about that, but with a new semester about to start, the last thing I need is to push myself so hard that I wind up back in the hospital. I took the hat with me to watch Frozen II in the theater with my daughter yesterday; stockinette in the round is also perfect for knitting in a dark theater!

It’s kind of incredible to realize that it’s now 2020. To me, that sounds like the future, which I suppose just means that I’m getting older. We’re heading towards some difficult times, I think, with the cynical manipulation of resentment, hatred, and fear driving people towards authoritarianism and zero-sum thinking, not just here, but worldwide. In my own country, people who seek power simply for power’s sake, operating in bad faith, have been willing to tear down every norm in order to keep it, bringing us, I fear, to the brink of collapse as a country, and perhaps to the brink of war, as well. And we’re taking almost none of the action we need to take in order to face our biggest global crisis: the climate breakdown. It is hard to feel hopeful about what the 2020s will bring.

I don’t know exactly what the future will bring, but I think the 2020s will ask a lot from us. I think we are entering very challenging times, and we need to respond to those challenges with wisdom and cooperation and humility. We will all make mistakes in the coming years; what matters is that we are open to learning, and willing to own the harms we cause and work to repair them – and some of us will have more work to do on that front than others. Let’s all be good to each other, be lights in the darkness that lies ahead, keep hope alive for each other, and try to turn our communities and our governments towards positive action. I wish for everyone courage in the coming decade.

 

I love this kid.

The 2020s are when she will grow into a young adult. What future are we creating for her generation?

 

Elle Melle (again!)

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I started this new, bigger Elle Melle cardigan for M back in April, and then got distracted by my own projects this summer. But now it’s finished, and it’s a great replacement for her first Elle Melle, which she outgrew years ago!

New sweater, new kitty

New sweater, new kitty

Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: Elle Melle (with some modifications)
Yarn: Harrisville Shetland in “Aubergine” and “Plum”
Needles: Size 2 and Size 4

About the pattern modifications: the main one relates to the collar, for which I made the same adjustments as I did in the original Elle Melle, and in my “me-sized” one. I first did a couple of extra rows of raglan decreases, in the first 4 rows of garter stitch, and then I did a few short rows to angle the collar:

Elle Melle, close up of the short-rowed collar modification

I just think it looks nicer that way!

Elle Melle, investigating the decaying leaves on our deck

I knit the sweater extra long, because my kiddo keeps growing like a weed! I probably should have made the sleeves a bit extra long, too, but it’ll be easy enough to rip them back and reknit the ends of them once they start getting too short; I’ve got a decent amount left on each cone of the yarn!

Elle Melle, back view

I’m half-tempted to pick up another cone of each color, too, because when I finished the sweater, I decided I would try it on, and y’all, the sleeves are way too short, but otherwise? It basically fits me! So now I’m wishing I had one in purple, too!

M’s new Elle Melle is all finished and blocked, and y’all, other than the sleeves being way too short, it fits me. My kid is getting so big!!! (And also I’m kinda tiny.)

(Forgive the absolutely filthy mirror – today’s cleaning day!)

Tis the season for reknits of sweaters I’ve made for M when she was younger…can you tell which sweater is up next?

So many things in one photo!

She’s just such a fantastic knitwear recipient – always happy to wear (and model!) what I’ve made for her, and truly appreciative of it, too. It’s so worth it!

From above :)

She’s wishing HARD for some snow, now that we’ve reached November, and who knows, maybe next week she’ll get her wish! And at the end of the month, she’ll be EIGHT years old! Can you believe it? I hardly can!!

Ta-da! Elle Melle is finished!

Happy November, everyone!

Halloween 2019!

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Happy Halloween from Banana Girl!

Banana girl + banana phone!

Taking a call on her banana phone

That’s right, my kiddo wanted to be a BANANA for Halloween. The word “banana” has been her very favorite “verbal stim” – if you’re not around neurodivergent people much, you might not know what that means, but basically, it was a word that felt really good to say, and she’d say it over and over as a way of creating pleasing, calming sensory input for herself. Banana banana banana. When I asked her, much earlier in the year, what she wanted to dress up as for Halloween, she replied, “banana banana” and I wasn’t sure whether she was just stimming, or whether she really wanted to be a banana, so I asked and the answer she gave me was “both!” (She was in fact THRILLED with the idea that she could actually BE a banana!) And once she decides something, it is DECIDED, so we’ve stuck to the plan. So yes, my kiddo is dressing up as her favorite verbal stim for Halloween!

Maddy took a picture of me cutting the fleece for her banana costume. (Yes, she’s going to dress up as her favorite verbal stim word for Halloween!)

Because both M and I have “engineering brains” and find this kind of thing quite engaging, we spent quite a lot of time working together to develop a plan for the banana costume – our “banana planana“. (I mean, she’s not wrong – that IS fun to say!) We discovered that bananas are pentagonal, and the design went from there!

Sewing the banana!

It took quite a bit of thinking to figure out how to place the zippers so that they opened the way they needed to, but thankfully my new sewing machine made the actual construction pretty easy – I’m *so* glad I got this machine!

Banana girl!

I’m pretty darned pleased with how it turned out – my sewing machine skills are still pretty rudimentary, but it looks pretty much exactly like what we were imagining!

 

Zipping herself up

Zipping herself up

 

Banana girl licking her own peel?

Tasting herself – turns out, fleece doesn’t taste like banana

Banana girl + banana

Banana girl contemplates banana

Our Halloween is going to be VERY wet (so much rain!) and my friends in the upper midwest have snow, but I hope everyone has a wonderful Halloween, anyway! Or if that’s not your thing, I hope that you have a great Thursday!

Banana Zombie?

It’s a Banana Zombie!

leftover legwarmers

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I had some bright green Cascade 220 Superwash leftover from my Tric cardigan, and I had an idea: I always need knee-high socks to wear over my tights in the winter, so that my tall boots don’t shred the tights. I also like having a pop of color that coordinates with my outfit, but finding knee-high socks in the right colors is hard! But if I can make little boot-topper/legwarmer type thingies out of my leftover sweater yarn, then I can have those coordinating pops of color easily! (I mentioned this idea in this post, awhile back.)

Making legwarmers

So, what I did was cast on 64 stitches using the backwards loop cast-on – this is not the cast-on that I would normally use for 1×1 rib, but I had a reason: I like the loops that the backwards loop cast-on creates for creating folded hems; they’re really easy to pick up and knit with the stitches on the needle. But before I knit the hem together, I sewed up a ring of sport elastic, and held it between the layers:

Making a folded hem with elastic

I actually made a YouTube video to show what I was doing – it’s not great, both because the camera didn’t want to focus very well, and because my kiddo interrupted a few times, but I’ll share it here in case it’s useful:

 

Now that I’ve got the elastic knit into the folded ribbed hem, I’m switching to brioche rib, and I’ll knit the main part of the legwarmer in brioche, decreasing a few times as I get further down, before ending with plain 1×1 rib. If this plan works, I’ve got lots of single skeins of worsted weight that I’ll be turning into legwarmers!

Making legwarmers out of leftover yarn from my sweater!

I got new glasses today, can you tell?

it’s a scarf!

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Turns out, if you just keep knitting…scarves do eventually come to an end!

Trying (and failing) to get the entire length of the scarf in a photo with the self-timer.

Trying (and failing) to get the entire scarf into a photo using the self-timer on my camera

Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: Paris’s Brioche Scarf
Yarn: Malabrigo Rios in “Whale’s Road” and Fibre Company Canopy Worsted in “Quetzal”
Needles: size 4
Time to knit: 3.5 months

All done!

I’m really thrilled with how it turned out – the colors ended up working out so well together. I’m especially in love with “Whale’s Road” color on the dark side!

My daughter is also pretty thrilled with how it turned out, and begged me to let her model it for photos.

Modeling my finished brioche scarf

It does look awfully great on her!

She's such a ham when the camera is out!

She’s such a ham when the camera is out!

mama, take a picture of me laying down!

She’s begging me to knit one for her, too – I don’t have any of the light color left over, but I do have an entire skein left of the Malabrigo Rios in “Whale’s Road”, so if I can find a good contrast color for it in my stash, I’m thinking I might try to make a cowl version – it would give me a good reason to figure out how to do 2-color brioche in the round!

All folded up!

It’s like 2 scarves in one!

I learned a LOT from this project; before I started, I’d never done 2-color brioche, and had just started experimenting a bit more with double-knitting. Now both techniques are pretty automatic in my hands, and I have a much deeper understanding of the stitch mechanics and geometry, and how the two types of knitting are related to each other. So I definitely got what I wanted out of using this project as my entry in the Fruity Knitting “Scary New Technique” knitalong; and not only that, I got a beautiful, warm, squishy scarf!

So happy with my finished scarf!

This is definitely going to get a lot of wear this winter!

this is the scarf that never ends…

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It's so long...and yet not long enough!

Yes it goes on and on my friends…

I started knitting it not knowing…

….anything about 2-color brioche, and though it took awhile to get the hang of it, at this point, it’s become basically automatic for me, which is awesome! (Ok, I gave up on making that fit the song!)

The trouble is…there’s still more scarf to knit. Because scarves? They need to be LONG. When I fold this scarf over at what I think will be the middle (because that’s where I ran out of the first skein of the light blue), it looks like I’m just over 3/4 of the way done, so I’m getting closer, but gosh, this is a good reminder of why I don’t often knit scarves…even one as beautiful and engaging to knit as this one just gets old after awhile!

I am still just madly in love with the way this “Whales Road” colorway of Malabrigo Rios looks in this scarf, especially in natural light (like when I was knitting while waiting for M’s bus to arrive).

I am still madly in love with the way that the Whales Road colorway of Malabrigo Rios looks in this pattern, though, and the promise of the beautiful, squishy scarf that will be mine once I finish keeps me going.

Getting closer...

Getting closer, but still so much more to knit!