Willowillowillow

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Presenting Willow Cowl, the fourth:

Willow Cowl the 4th

Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: Willow Cowl
Yarn: Tosh Merino Light, in “Grasshopper”
Time to knit: 6 days (most was knit while traveling to and from Ohio for Memorial Day weekend)

Y’all, I’m kind of obsessed with knitting Willow Cowls now. They’re such a perfect mindless, portable project, and they’ve become a staple of my cold weather “uniform”. And with chilly/cold weather here lasting over half of the year, it’ll be good to have quite a few in rotation, for color variety and just to save wear and tear. So when I was packing for our trip to Ohio, I threw in another skein of Tosh Merino Light (in “Hosta Blue” – I had originally been planning to use these in a striped shawl, but realized I get a heck of a lot more wear out of Willow Cowls than I do from shawls). You know, “just in case”.

Finished the Willow Cowl a couple hours into our drive home! Good thing I brought an extra ball of yarn to cast on for another one :)

Turned out to be a good plan, because I finished my green cowl about 2 hours into the 6.5 hour drive home!

Wearing one, knitting one.

I think I’ll get a lot of wear from BOTH of these colors! I also have a skein of Madelinetosh Twist Light in “Coquette Deux”, which is a lovely deep pink, and I think that will also become a Willow Cowl at some point this summer. At that point, I’ll have a cowl for each day of the work week, but I could still see knitting one in a deep warm brown (I’d have to find/buy yarn for that, though, so that won’t happen for quite awhile) and perhaps a deep foresty green (again, would have to find/buy yarn for that), because that would really flesh out the full suite of colors that I really like to wear.

But I want to make progress on knitting down the sweater yarn this summer, so when I’m not traveling, I hope to focus my attention on those less-portable projects. I’ve been doing some planning over in my Ravelry Queue, and realized that I could knit over 10 sweaters with yarn in my stash (and that’s not even counting sweaters of my own design that I have yarn to make). Goodness gracious, do I have a ridiculous stash or what? So anyway, that’s the plan for the summer. I obviously won’t knit all 10 of them this summer, and who knows, maybe some of my plans will change, but those all seem like they’d be great in my wardrobe, and with the neverending winter we had this year, I’m really excited about the idea of having a lot more sweaters in the rotation.

I hope you all have a great summer!

Willow Cowl IV

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Gamaldags progress, and a new project

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I’m nearing the end on Gamaldags, and being me, I couldn’t help but make some small tweaks to the pattern.

Gamaldags folded neckline adaptation

I decided to add an extra short row in the green and yellow stripe section, because I really, really don’t like it when the back of my sweater droops, or when the front of my sweater doesn’t scoop quite enough. And instead of the 2×2 rib called for in the pattern, I knit a 1×1 folded neckband, because I just love them ever so much.

1x1 rib button band

I also did the button band in 1×1 rib rather than 2×2, and I finished it with a 2-stitch i-cord bind off (this is the same approach I took to the button bands on M’s Peg cardigan).

Gamaldags Progress

I still need to pick up the stitches on the other side, the one that will have the button holes in it, but other than that (and a lot of end-weaving, and blocking, and of course, STEEKING!), I’m almost done!

Which means it’s time for a new project. I have a huge list of sweaters in my “to knit” pile (including the Winter Traveller for M that I’ve already cast on for), but we’re about to hit the road to visit my in-laws for Memorial Day, which means that I need a more travel-friendly project. Because I’m apparently very predictable, I cast on for Yet Another Willow Cowl:

Yet Another Willow Cowl - the beginning.

The yarn is some MadTosh Merino Light from my stash, because I’m now in a very committed “knit down the stash” phase. Moving put me face-to-face with the absurd amount of yarn that I already have, and paying two mortgages (not for much longer – we’re almost to closing on Old House!) has blown up our budget, so…no new yarns for me, for quite a while. The only, and I mean ONLY, exception that I’ll make is that if buying a tiny amount of yarn will enable me to make a project that will use a LOT of the yarn I already have, then that’s a net reduction and I’ll do it…but I also want to see how creative I can be in terms of finding or designing patterns to use what I’ve got.

This has me thinking a lot about my identity as a knitter and a designer. I’ve been going back and forth on whether to submit anything to the latest call for designs for Wool People. For those who haven’t been reading this blog for very long, I had a design in the very first Wool People, which ended up also being the last pattern I published, because it turned out for me that motherhood, finishing a Ph.D., and then starting a new faculty position just didn’t leave any time or energy for being a designer.

I’m still spread pretty thin, and am not at all sure I can really manage adding another gig to my life. Along with the mountain of projects I can and want to make from the yarn I already have, that makes me lean towards not bothering to submit. But I do have design ideas (some that I’ve already knit variants of in other yarns) that I think would fit well given the mood boards that were sent out and that would look great in BT yarns, which makes me want to put together a submission. I don’t have a ton of time to decide, in any case, because the submissions are due in just over a week.

I also still have a collection of “parent-child” knits bubbling in my brain (and in fact, have already knit versions of many of these, too), and still don’t know what to do with them, either. The creative designer part of my brain is still there. But I’m just not sure how getting back into designing would fit alongside trying to knit from stash; most people aren’t going to be eager to buy a pattern for something knit with discontinued yarn, you know?

Will getting creative with knitting down my stash be enough to satisfy my creative mind? I don’t know.

go, Gamaldags, go!

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I’m making great progress on Gamaldags. It was so fun to realize that there was a little band of colorwork at the wrist, because I am just so very eager to get to those bright colors in the yoke of the sweater, and this gave me a little taste.

Gamaldags sleeve + Spring

I feel like this sweater, in this colorway, is the most perfect thing to be knitting as we emerge from the greys of Winter into the bright colors of Spring!

My daughter loves these colors, too. She caught me knitting on a sleeve while she played in our backyard, and excitedly asked, “Is this for me, mama?”

Maddy asked if this was for her.

Nope, kiddo, this sweater is MINE, ALL MINE!

Showing off my sleeve (and my scrawny arm!)

It turns out she doesn’t like the way Lopi feels (“too scratchy!”), so I won’t have to risk her stealing this one from me, but it does make me think she might like a grey + bright colors sweater of her own someday, in a softer yarn. We’ll see. Speaking of possible future sweaters, I looked down at my bag while preparing to take progress photos today, and noticed that the yarns match my notions bag:

I looked down at my bag while getting ready to take progress photos for Gamaldags (onto sleeve number 2!) and realized that the yarns match my notions bag, and now I wanna use whatever’s leftover after Gamaldags to knit a sweater with brown as the main co

Now I’m wanting to use whatever’s leftover after Gamaldags to knit a sweater with brown as the main color and these three as contrast colors. We’ll see if that ever happens!

I’ve now knit the entire body, plus one sleeve, plus about half of the other sleeve, so I’m getting close to that delightful yoke!

Gamaldags Progress

I’ve done a lot of this knitting while listening to podcasts, which is something I don’t get a lot of time for during the semester. I really enjoy Ezra Klein’s podcast, but with his episodes regularly hitting nearly 90 minutes, it’s really hard to find the time! But now that the semester’s done, if I want to take a 90 minute break from course prep or whatever and sit and knit and listen, I can do that, and it is WONDERFUL.

I’ve been physically crashing a bit since the end of the semester – just utterly crushing fatigue, which I think I’m finally really feeling now that I don’t have to be “on” for my students. (I still have to be “on” for my kid, but at least there’s only one of her!) This year has been A LOT, and I’m feeling every ounce of it now, so getting some downtime to just knit and rest a bit is exactly what I need. I hope you all are getting what you need, too, dear readers!

Grading (not the knitwear design kind) + Gamaldags + SPRING!

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This past week has been a marathon of grading (of the academic variety, not the knitwear design variety) for me. When you teach 4 classes, and you do portfolio-based grading in all 4 of them, let’s just say that’s a LOT of papers to read and grade, and in not a lot of time. But I’m finished now, hooray! And I have a big chunk of the body of a sweater to show for it:

Gamaldags body

Yeah, that’s not Winter Traveller The Second – as excited as I am to knit M’s very own Winter Traveller, knitting the same sweater pattern twice in a row was just not what I needed as stress-relief during grading. So I cast on for a new sweater for myself: Gamaldags, for which I had a kit (I bought the kit back when the pattern was first released, because I loved the bright colors in the yoke!).

Here was my “pattern” for maintaining sanity while grading:
*grade 2 portfolios, knit 2 rows*, repeat until end of grading

By the time I got to the last day of grading, though, it had become more like this:
*read 1 page, knit 1 row*, repeat until end of grading

But I slogged my way through it, and now I’m done. With the grading, that is – there’s still plenty more to knit on Gamaldags, but I’m really excited about the prospect of that colorful yoke.

This has been a seriously challenging academic year for me, between all of the issues with my former department, and getting M set up in a new school and ourselves moved into a new house and our old house sold – goodness gracious, has it been hard! But we’re finally getting a bit more settled in at our new house, and our old house is on the way to closing, so we’ve almost made it through.

Spring has finally arrived here in ROC, and it is magical as always. The flowering trees here make Spring an explosion of happy colors, and the cherry trees in particular are just sheer joy. My daughter calls them “confetti trees”, which is so very apt.

So happy to be with the “confetti trees”! (aka “cherry trees”)

We had the great thrill of discovering that we have some of our own flowering trees here at our new house – I spotted pink buds the other night, and a few of them have opened up today, so I took some pictures and asked the Internet to help me identify them:

Probably crabapple?

Probably Crabapple?

Probably Crabapple?

The consensus seems to be “crabapple”, which is fine by me! (Though I think M might be disappointed that they aren’t “confetti trees”). The flowering trees are absolutely my favorite part of living in ROC in the Springtime, and I’m just utterly thrilled that we have some of our very own now. This house just couldn’t be more perfect for us.

I still have work to do, even though I’m done with grading, so I’d best get back to that, but I’ll leave y’all with these lovely little forget-me-nots from our backyard:

Teensy blue flowers in our backyard

Happy Spring, everyone!