packing up

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small projects

We’re getting ready to head up to Minnesota to visit my family, so I’ve been thinking about what I ought to bring, knitting-wise. We’re taking the train up, so I’ll have a fair amount of knitting time there, but I don’t think my beloved sweater projects are really very good travel knits. So, I’m bringing a few little projects with me, instead, which is what you see above.

First off, a pattern from a very appropriate book (“Knitting on the Road”):

Friday Harbor socks-to-be

I’ve been looking for the perfect project for this Mountain Colors yarn I won in a Tour de France Knitalong drawing, and I found it: the Friday Harbor socks. They call for the same yarn (a single skein of Weavers Wool Quarters), and look like they’ll be a fun pattern, complicated enough to be interesting and pretty, but not too complex.

Next, we have these:

Beaverslide 100% lambswool in October Skye

A little Solstice present for myself: Beaverslide 100% Lambswool, in “October Skye”. Y’all, this stuff is awesome. I mean, the McTaggart Tweed is pretty darn soft already, but this is like…several times softer, if you can imagine it. Scrumptious. And the color is just the nicest clear blue. We had a gorgeously sunny day today (sorry, no pictures…it got dark by the time we were done running errands), and the December sky really was this color. I’ve balled up one skein, and will be taking it with me to knit a pair of Chevalier Mittens (actually, I just couldn’t help myself…I’ve already cast on and made it through the first couple of cabled rows). The pattern itself delights me, too…I’m a sucker for parallel texts of any kind, and have been having lots of fun today trying to figure out as much Finnish as I could (why yes, I am a linguist, what tipped you off? You know, other than my blog header?).

(Oh, and speaking of mittens…y’all, you must go see Adrian’s Gorgeous Mittens. Go on, I’ll wait. And she’s planning to offer kits…how awesome is that? Very awesome indeed.)

And finally, I’m bringing the second skein of the Shibui yarn for my Picot Pebble Purse Socks (haven’t seen those in awhile, eh? The first one is almost done, and no, I don’t have pictures, because they live in my purse and I forget about them when I’m at home with the camera. Plus, I think y’all know what a plain stockinette sock with a picot cuff looks like by now!). And all in my nifty little Lexi Barnes knitting notions case (I love the “Bali Hai” print!). Solstice/Christmas was very good to me on the crafting front…my husband gave me the Stupid Sock Creatures Book and Kit, which I’m delighted with (and a nice cast-iron skillet, which I’m also delighted with, but is not so crafty), and his parents sent me Traditional Scandinavian Knitting, as well as a variety of things to put my knitting notions in. And of course, I got lots of nice relaxing time with my beloved, which doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should what with our usual work schedules. And now I get to head up to spend time with my family, in my beautiful hometown which I do not get to see nearly often enough, which should be a very nice way to kick off the New Year.

I hope everyone else’s holidays were/are/will be just as wonderful!

Happy Solstice, everyone!

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Maple leaf, in the snow

Last night was the longest night of the year, and so today my husband and I are celebrating the return of longer days. The Solstice also marks the end of our 11th season together as a married couple, and so we also celebrate it as a semi-anniversary. We’ll be making soup and ginger cookies later today, and opening presents (which I’m sure will make the kitties happy, as they’ve been eyeing the boxes all week!), and just generally enjoying the day. I hope all of you have a wonderful day, as well!

my year in sweaters

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my year in sweaters
(I’ve added three handknit sweaters to my sweater chest in 2007)

I don’t know if it’s Bohus-withdrawal, or the approaching year-end, or what, but I’m feeling a bit melancholy and reminiscent this week. This has been a pretty difficult year, I think. I mean, there have been some fantastic happenings (my husband got a perfect job! We found a perfect house! My brother got engaged to a very wonderful person!), but for the most part, it’s been a painful slog. What started out as “probably just a virus” back in February is still affecting me in a major way, and will most likely continue to do so indefinitely (I’m waiting to hear back about some more blood tests, but my doctor is fairly convinced at this point that the myriad health problems I’ve had this year are due to Lupus). I’ve lost a good 20 pounds, and have also lost a lot in terms of my energy and athletic abilities and so forth, am feeling like something of a shell of the person I was just a year or two ago.

Through it all I have had my knitting, and this year seems to have been the “Year of the Sweater” for me. By my count, I finished 5 sweaters in 2007: the three at the top of this post, the Rogue sweater for my mom, and the wee little gansey. Not bad, eh? I certainly can’t complain. Knitting has been a wonderful companion to me this year, giving me something productive to do to keep my mind off the bad things. And while I certainly don’t dislike knitting the littler things, like socks and mittens (oh, I certainly don’t!), there’s just something about making a garment that really satisfies me. I guess I always dreamt of making my own clothing, as a kid, and now I’m getting to realize that dream with my sticks and string! (Of course, it would probably go a lot faster if I didn’t have to make the material myself, but me and the sewing machine have not clicked the way I did with the knitting needles). Or maybe it’s just the desire to surround my aching self in a warm cozy sweater that’s getting the better of me.

I feel like my knitting ability has taken a huge leap forward this year, thanks in no small part to all of that sweater knitting. While I’ve always been a pretty fearless knitter (I mean, what’s to fear? You can always rip out and start over!), through the choices I’ve made in patterns and references, I’ve gained the skills and confidence I need to actually make all the things I want to make, and make them look polished and nice. The wee little gansey alone taught me so much about garment construction (I’m so tempted to go for a me-sized gansey during next year’s Tour de France…maybe I will!). Demi gave me confidence in my ability to “read” my knitting. My modified Cobblestone gave me confidence in my ability to modify a pattern to fit and look exactly how I want it to. And the Bohus Yoke…what can I say? That project was just so amazing for me, and I’m still feeling sort of sad not to be working on it anymore. I have never had such intense project withdrawal after finishing something as I have with that sweater.

I don’t know what 2008 holds, knitting-wise or otherwise. Maybe I’ll get off this sweater kick, and get on a huge mitten obsession, or socks, or lace…you never know. But for now I’m happy to keep churning out the sweaters, and hoping that I can keep my spirits up through it all, whatever happens.

this post has nothing to do with knitting

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Any fellow violinists out there? I’m attempting to restring my violin, since it’s been ages since I’ve done so, and all of my strings have gone false, and I’d like to be able to not sound like crap while I practice in preparation for playing at my brother’s wedding. The thing is…I just can’t seem to get the, um…well, if I say which string it is, I’ll get all sorts of interesting google hits…it’s the lowest one, we’ll leave it at that. Here is where it is supposed to go:

violin restringing woes

I only have a fine-tuner on my E-string, so the rest of my strings have ball-ends (the wrapping goes around a metal ring at the end):

new string

The wrapping at the end of these new strings is thicker than the wrapping on the old strings, and while I got the A-string to pop into place, I’m failing with this one:

owwww

The process is absolutely killing my hands, because my joints have been pretty achy recently. As soon as I stop pressing against the ball end to hold it in place, it snaps out, stinging whatever part of me it happens to come into contact with in the process. Fun!

Any tips? Back in the day, I would’ve brought it into my teacher, and had her take care of it for me, but now that I’m all grown up (and live halfway across the country from her), that’s not an option. Bah.

Beautiful, beautiful Bohus

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Beautiful, beautiful Bohus

I finished my sweater last night. And y’all, I’m in love. I stayed up way too late weaving in ends, and maybe also putting it on and dancing around the house while singing a gleeful song about how I made a pretty pretty sweater. Maybe. Here are the stats:

Pattern: My own, inspired by Spun Out #5 (the “Bohus Yoke Pullover”) and the EPS. The yoke pattern was made up as I knit.
Yarn: Patons Classic Merino Wool, in a variety of colors.
Needles: size 5 and 7 Denise interchangeables, with size 5 and 7 Clover bamboo dpns for the sleeves.
Time to knit: Nov. 2nd – Dec. 14th 2007.

And now for more photo goodness! Here’s a closeup of the yoke patterning:

Closeup of yoke

I ripped out and reknit the neckline 4 times before settling on the seed stitch. I absolutely love it. I did the last row of seed stitch in blue, and bound off in blue, so as to mirror the treatment at the bottom hem and sleeve cuffs. I think it ties the whole thing together really nicely; it’s got the texture of the yoke, but the colors of the hems. LOVE.

Just a bit ago I decided to brave the sub-20 temps and had my husband snap a few photos of me wearing it outside. It got dreary almost immediately after I took the first finished shots of it this morning, and while it’s better than trying to take a photo in our CFL-lit house, even the natural light outside really wasn’t enough (plus we were both cold and impatient!), so these aren’t the best pictures ever. C’est la vie. Here I am, looking very pleased with myself:

Me and my Bohus

Here’s me, showing off my crazy long arms which necessitated 19.5″ inches of knitting up to the armpit (but hey, look how perfect those sleeves turned out! So worth it!):

I have very long arms

And, for good measure, here’s a shot of the back, though my hair is in the way of most the yoke, and all you can really tell is that I do not even fill out my “tiny” jeans (still struggling to keep the weight on because of illness, oh well):

Bohus back

So, that’s it. I’m almost a little sad not to be knitting the Bohus anymore. It was such a wonderful project for me. It’s my first time successfully making up a pattern for a garment (with EZ as my guide, of course!) and having it actually fit so perfectly. It was also my first time making up a colorwork pattern as I knit, and I’m still somewhat astounded at the fact that it didn’t turn out a completely disorganized mess. I learned so much in the process of making this sweater, and got to put newfound skills (like directional M1s I learned on the sampler gansey, for the side shaping) to use, too. And I have loved being able to get feedback from everyone who has commented along the way. Thanks for all of the encouraging words! And cheers to all of you knitting your own Yoked Sweaters!

Bohus Status Report

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Bohus Yoke, oh-so-close!

The Bohus Yoke is inching ever closer to completion. I have to admit, since I’m making it up as I go, I have had several moments where I get this sinking feeling, like “oh my goodness, it’s going to look like a mess in the end!”. Somehow I don’t quite trust that my freewheeling style on this one is going to work out. But then other times, I look at it and think, “wow, this looks fantastic!” What say y’all? Fantastic, or a mess? Or somewhere in between?

Bohus Yoke, close-up

Shortly after I took these pictures, I decided to do a little sanity-check, just to make sure that this thing I’ve spent all my knitting time on for the past month and half was actually going to, you know, fit. Here’s the moment of truth:

Moment of truth...

(why yes, I am in fact using my head as a much less effective tripod. And am rockin’ the pajama pants in the middle of the afternoon.) It fit, which was a huge relief. But then I had to go and, in a moment of inattention, decrease far too heavily in my final decrease round, and then keep blithely knitting onwards until I was ready to purl the baby blue turning row, at which point I realized that there was no way on earth that the sweater would go over my head(*). So now I’m going to have to rip right back to where I was when I took that picture. Oh well.

(*) Is my head somehow gargantuan? Because even if I hadn’t screwed up, and had followed EZ’s instructions to leave about 40% of my “key number” (based on my desired 35-inch body circumference), I would’ve wound up with a a neckline that is 14 inches around, which would actually be sort of uncomfortably difficult to pull over my head unless it were exceedingly stretchy. But I don’t feel like I look like a bobblehead or anything. Hmmm.

I have been so spoiled!

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I’ve got a post in the works on my Bohus Yoke progress, but that will have to wait a little while, thanks to a certain something that came in the mail as I was taking pictures of the sweater. So, remember that Tabi sock that I knit for a friend, and sent away with extra yarn so that she could knit its partner? Well, I had someone knitting for me, too, and today I found out just who it was (that would be Laura, of Affiknity!). And she has totally spoiled me:

Single Sock Swap package!

This really couldn’t have come at a better time to cheer me up after a rough past couple of weeks on the health front. Inside was my single sock (the pattern is “Rosamond Socks”), and the yarn (Yarn Nerd 900MHz, which I’ve wanted to try for a long time but is always sold out whenever I look!) to knit its partner, along with a beautiful Lantern Moon project bag with a pair of stitch markers pinned to it, a spiffy notebook from the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame (rock!), a skein of Cherry Tree Hill Supersock in very me-colors, as well as a skein of Tofutsies and a couple sample packs of SOAK (see, I really have been so spoiled with this swap!). I hope I didn’t leave anything out!

Even the boys got in on the swap excitement:

Even the boys got something out of the swap

(yes, I store my yarn under the bed.) They absolutely love boxes, and were actually sort of aggressive about following me around until I opened it and gave them their prize.

Oh, I bet y’all want to see pictures of the sock itself, eh? Here it is without my foot in it. It’s beautiful. This is the first time I’ve ever received something handknit by someone else, just for me, and it just really tickles me, how wonderful it is:

The sock whose partner I shall knit

And look, it fits!

It fits!

My comfy fleece pants are artfully arranged so as not to cover any of the sock, but also not to reveal the fact that I’ve not shaved in over a month (which, of course, I then go and announce here on the blog, so why did I even bother?!). Hey, it’s winter! Also starring in that photo is our comfy new IKEA chair. But back to the topic at hand: the sock fits, and I love it, and I’m so so thankful to Laura for making such a beautiful sock and sending all of those goodies along with it!

More yoke action!

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Just popping onto the blog really quickly before I head into the office to workworkwork, because I wanted to show off my progress on the Bohus Yoke:

Bohus Yoke progress

I’ve now incorporated all of the colors into the yoke. I especially love that little burst of berry red! I had been pretty much following the sample chart from Spun Out #5, but since my row gauge is quite different from the sample sweater, and I am not the same size as Meg Swanson, I quickly abandoned it and am now officially in “making it up as I go” territory. And I’ve got to say, I sort of love it. It’s freeing. I probably should have sat down, and charted something out, but no…I’m just looking at what’s on my needles, and deciding what the next row should be. One row at a time. It is exhilarating.

For good measure, how about a couple more pictures? Here is a closeup of the yoke patterning so far:

Closeup of Bohus Yoke patterning

And here is a closeup that gives an even better sense of the texture of this thing. I absolutely love the use of purl stitches in Bohus colorwork:

Texture

I’m starting to contemplate how I want to handle the neckline. I’m thinking I’d like to basically mirror the hems at the wrists and bottom of the sweater, but I’m not sure the best way to transition from the yoke patterning to that. I’m definitely open to suggestions and recommendations!

We have achieved yokeage.

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But first, two things:

  • As a knitting cognitive scientist, I feel obligated to link y’all to this. Is that not one of the coolest things you’ve ever seen?
  • Jean has finished the second Tabi sock, and they look fantastic! Hooray!

And now on to the fabulousness that is the yoke of my sweater. Here is my progress so far, in all its shining glory, sitting in the one place in the house where I could actually get a little bit of natural light this morning:

YOKEAGE!!!!

I stopped knitting last night because I ran into a slight problem. This, y’all, is what happens when you try to knit while overly sleepy:

This is what happens when you knit while you are sleepy

See how the stitch I just purled is cream? And now the next stitch is also cream? Yeah, not supposed to be like that. I jacked it up. I know it won’t be hard to fix (I can drop the stitches and reknit them with the right colored float as I go), but still…annoying!

For good measure, here is a closeup of a section on non-jacked-up yoke:

Closeup of non jacked-up yoke pattern

I love it!

(just a note, to anyone who may have emailed me and not gotten a response recently: I am in the midst of finals and am also pretty sick, so I’ve not done the best job of staying in touch. My apologies! I promise to be better once the semester is over, really!)