the fronts, and beyond!

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I cast on for the fronts of my husband’s sweater last Saturday, so that I could knit on them on the drive to and from the Fiber Festival. Considering how busy my schedule is these days, I’m quite happy with the progress I’ve made. Here’s a picture I took on Monday:

husband's sweater progress

And since then, thanks to my habit of knitting on the evenings when I’m home while I watch the news, I’ve knit even more…I have 10.5 of the 14.25 inches I need before I start the armholes! I’m hoping that by the end of the weekend, I can have finished the fronts. We’ll see! Once I finish the fronts, I want to put the body of the sweater together, because I’m thinking I might like to try picking up stitches from the armhole and knitting the sleeves down from the top. I’ve never tried it before, but I do have Barbara Walker’s “Knitting from the Top” in my knitting book arsenal, so I think it would be a great time to give it a shot.

I think I’ve talked about this here already, but in any case, as you might’ve noticed if you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, I’ve started being more “monogamous” in my knitting projects. I still have multiple things on the needles, but I’ve been doing a much better job of prioritizing my works-in-progress, and I have only one truly active project at home (right now, my husband’s sweater), and one at the office (a sock). It’s working out really well…it’s easier to actually make progress on a project when it’s not competing with 5 other projects for your attention, and I actually think something about thinking about my projects more “one at a time” is helping me stick to my “no new yarn” goal (new stuff seems less enticing when I know I have lots of new things already waiting for me here at home, that I don’t want to start until I finish something else).

Once I finish my husband’s sweater, I’d like to finish up my Bog Jacket (remember that one?). Next up, I think, will be a scarf for my mother, out of the leftovers from my Icarus shawl. I’ve chosen Miriam Felton’s Flutter Scarf, which I think will look incredible in the yarn I used for my shawl. My other priorities for the rest of the year, knitting-wise, are to try to knit another cardigan for myself (I always wish I had more cardigans; there’s so much temperature variability in the rooms I have to be in on campus), and to put in some more work on the Escher mittens I started for my dad. I’d really love to get one knit up, so that I can write up a pattern…it’s just that working a complicated, self-designed colorwork pattern on size 00 needles isn’t usually the thing I want to do after I get home from the office. We’ll see what happens. I’m sure a few smaller projects (socks, wristwarmers, cowls) will sneak in there, too.

Right now, I think I am going to get my blocking wires out again, and block my Chevron Scarf. I never did block the poor crumply thing last year, but have been wearing it nonetheless. I’d like to neaten it up just a little bit, now that I’ve got the appropriate tools!

Finger Lakes Fiber Festival!

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I’m so in love with my Icarus that I hardly want to make a new post, because then it won’t be sitting so prettily at the top of my blog anymore! But, I promised a post about our trip to the Finger Lakes Fiber Festival this Saturday, so here goes:

The festival was less than 45 minutes away, down in Hemlock, NY. I didn’t take any pictures of the crowds or the parking lot, but there were a lot more people there than I expected there to be, and I found it a little bit overwhelming (I’ll probably never go to one of the really big fiber festivals, like Rhinebeck, because of how easily overwhelmed I am by large amounts of people and stuff). I was wearing my “I swatched Ravelry” t-shirt, and was asked by several people what my username was. This is when I realized that obscure German words do not make good usernames, if one wishes to convey one’s username to non- German-speaking strangers. C’est la vie.

We saw demonstrations including antique sock machines, drop spindling, and sheep-shearing, which was a lot of fun. There was a charming pair of girls playing fiddle at the festival, which I thoroughly enjoyed, having been a young fiddler myself back in the day, but I didn’t take a picture of them. Nor did I photograph the several buildings that were filled to the brim with vendors, even though we did manage to see pretty much all of them. So much stuff! And this is one of the small-ish festivals! What I did take pictures of were the animals:

critters!

(You can click on that photo to get to the flickr page with links to all of the originals). My favorite critters at the festival were the alpacas, so I decided that if I was going to bring anything home with me, it would have to be alpaca-based. And it would have to be very local, since the only way I was going to break my goal of not buying any new yarn was if it was going to support a local farm. I had particularly fallen for that gorgeous chocolate-colored alpaca in the top couple photos in the mosaic, and luckily enough, she was from a very local farm…in Hemlock, itself! Some of her sisters were kind enough to let me buy their fiber, and a skein of yarn spun from their fiber:

Fiber Festival Goodies

(my goodie bag from the Hemlock Hills Alpaca Farm). Inside that bag is a single skein of about 200 yards of chunky-weight alpaca yarn, in my favorite brown color:

Local alpaca yarn, closeup

Here’s the label, where you can see that Francis and Jasmine were kind enough to donate their fiber to the cause:

francis and jasmine

Also purchased was 5.1 ounces of alpaca fiber, in that same color, from an alpaca named Faith:

alpaca fiber

I plan to practice a bit more with the unspun BFL I still have before I give this fiber a try. I got my spindle out yesterday and played around a little bit. Having seen people spinning on drop spindles in person suddenly made something click on the drafting front, and I’m now able to get nice fine singles, although I was too tired to spin for very long. Perhaps y’all will be seeing some more spinning in future posts!

Icarus, complete.

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My blocking wire kit arrived yesterday, and I took advantage of being able to work from home today to block Icarus this morning. The results?

Icarus on the driveway

Gorgeous. I am so in love with my new shawl. Before I overwhelm y’all with more photos, here are the details:

Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: Icarus Shawl, by Miriam Felton, in the Summer 2006 Interweave Knits.
Yarn: Dream in Color Baby, in “Spring Tickle”. I only had to break into a second skein to do the bindoff row.
Needles: Size 3 Knitpicks Harmony circulars (love ’em!)
Time to knit: June 25th-September 14th, 2008

The blocking opened up the stitches so nicely, and made for a really beautiful edge:

Icarus on the driveway, closeup

I loved the way it caught the sunlight when I held it up to the sky:

Icarus in the sun

But enough of that…let’s see some modeled shots, yeah? Here it is, in the classic “yes, I knit a triangle!” pose:

Icarus and me!

And here it is, from the front:

Looking fancy

I so enjoyed knitting this shawl. I really loved the yarn; it was somewhat heavy for a “laceweight” (closer to a light fingering weight, really), which was a good thing, as far as I’m concerned. And the color (as so many of you have noted as well) was just amazing. Part of me wants to order some of their “Classy” (the worsted weight) yarn in this colorway, to make a cardigan for myself or something, but there’s that whole “not buying new yarn” thing that I’m trying to do, so that probably won’t happen (plus, that stuff ain’t cheap!).

The pattern was also a delight. The majority of the shawl was very simple, just columns of eyelet stitches, perfect for knitting while watching TV or chatting with company. The fancier section was still very intuitive, I think, and still much less complicated than the lace in the shawl I knit for my sister-in-law, since the same pattern repeated across the entire width of the shawl, making it very easy to memorize. I think this pattern would make a really excellent first shawl/lace project, and I highly recommend it. The results are gorgeous!

All done.

Well, that’s all, folks. Icarus is done, and it’s time to move on to my husband’s sweater. We’ll be down in Hemlock, NY on Saturday, for the Finger Lakes Fiber Festival. I’m curious to see what it’s like; the only fiber-related event I’ve gone to before was an Alpaca Festival, in Ohio. I’ll be sure to post about it, in any case!

all but the blocking

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We had some hideous weather yesterday. Nearly 90 degrees, extremely humid…probably the leftovers from Ike making his way north. In any case, we were forced to fire up our A/C one last time, which gave me the perfect excuse to plop myself down in our somewhat cool (we never cool our house below 78) living room and knit away. The end result of my day of knitting was this:

icarus, unblocked

Notice anything? There aren’t any needles in that picture! That’s right, I finished Icarus yesterday! Here it is, in all its crumply unblocked glory:

icarus, unblocked

I love it. I wrapped myself in it last night after I finished, dangling ends and all, and it was just lovely. I had to break into the second skein of the Baby yarn just for the bind-off row (which took forever to complete…an entire episode of Iron Chef America, in fact). I was so disappointed to come so close only to have to do that! But c’est la vie…and now I have an almost-full skein of Baby in that gorgeous green leftover. Perhaps I can make a lacy scarf for my mom?

Here’s one last shot, a closeup of the beautifully crumply texture of the edge lace:

icarus, unblocked

Now I’m just waiting for the blocking wire kit I ordered to arrive, so that I can give it a good bath and open up all those lovely lace stitches. I’m so excited to have a shawl for myself! And my husband is excited, too, because finishing my shawl means I’ll be turning my attention to his sweater. This coming Saturday we’ll be heading down to Hemlock, NY for the Finger Lakes Fiber Festival, which I’m also very excited about. I’ll be sure to post about that, too!

slow and steady

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Things are going well here at casa whitknits. My semester is off to a good start, and I have so far been doing a good job of balancing my greater-than-a-normal-person’s need for rest with productive work. Slow and steady, that’s sort of my mantra for getting myself back to work after the awful year of illness and injury that I had last year.

Slow and steady is serving me well in my knitting, as well. Since the last time I posted, I’ve completed all but the last chart of Icarus:

Icarus Progress, Closeup

Despite the fact that each row now contains over 400 stitches, and takes quite awhile to knit across, I’m still enjoying the knitting immensely. I love how well I’m able to “read” my own lace knitting now. In hopes of finishing in time to block it before the weekend of the fiber festival (which is not this coming weekend, but the one after that), I’m trying to knit at least two rows every evening, if not four, which is totally doable; I just knit while the news plays in the background in the evenings. This evening, however, I won’t be doing that, because I’ll be at my first Symphony rehearsal!

So, before I head off to prep dinner so that I can make it to rehearsal on time, I’ll leave y’all with one last photo, of Icarus-in-progress resting on our porch railing:

Icarus Progress

and hello again!

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Wow, I sort of suck at blogging recently. It’s been a bit of a hectic past few weeks. So, here, in bullet-point form, is what I’ve been up to:

  • Finishing up the work for my last incomplete from last year (I’ve not heard back from the professor yet, though, so it’s entirely possible that I’m not actually finished!)
  • Having a bunch of stressful meetings with doctors and advisors and having to decide whether I can keep being a full-time graduate student (we decided “yes”, at least for now)
  • Watching all of the DNC on CSPAN, which was awesome
  • Swimming, since it’s the only form of exercise my doctor will allow me to do now
  • Hosting my in-laws for a visit over Labor Day weekend
  • Starting fall semester, in which I am focusing on getting caught back up to my cohort, research-wise, and TA-ing a stats lab for the first time
  • Coming down with a really nasty case of sinusitis and tonsilitis, for which I am on heavy-duty antibiotics that are totally destroying my guts
  • Realizing that I read way too many blogs to possibly keep up with them
  • Auditioning for, and making it into, the Symphony Orchestra at my university

Well, that catches me up to yesterday! Thursdays are the day where I can work from home until 7:30pm, when I go into campus to TA a lab until 9pm, so I’m taking advantage of that to write up a post. Anyway, I haven’t made a ton of progress on anything, knitting-wise. The socks I started on our trip to Ohio have moved to my office, where they are my designated “I need a break from thinking” project. I’ve not touched my husband’s sweater in a couple of weeks, which is no good if I’m planning to actually finish it by his birthday! I have, however, made a bit of progress on my Icarus shawl:

Icarus progress

I’m halfway through Chart 2, or, as I’ve been calling it, “the fancy lace section”. The first part of the shawl is all just columns of eyelets, so it’s sort of exciting to reach the section where things change up a bit. The only problem is…well, I’m sure you’re probably all aware of this already, but the thing about triangular shawls is that the number of stitches in a row grows, and grows, and grows…and so you’re knitting along, feeling like you’re making great progress, and suddenly it starts taking 15 minutes to knit across a row, and it just gets frustrating. Well, I’m almost to that point. The excitement of changing charts will hopefully be enough to keep me going. That, and my desire to have a pretty green shawl.

I’ll close with one more picture of Icarus, a close-up (or at least, as close to a close-up as I can achieve with the camera I currently have) of the new lace section:

Icarus progress closeup

I’ll try not to neglect the blog so much in the future!