Ysolda Teague’s Follow Your Arrow 2015

I’ve been plugging away on my plethora of non-mindless knits (see previous post) and have finally plugged away enough to have finished something!

I finished the Eiregal shawl from Romi Hill. It still needs to be washed and blocked, so it’s not much to look at at the moment, but I’ll do that soon and when it happens I’ll post a picture and give you a little run-down of the knitting experience (which was lovely, by the way).

So, this means I have a gap in my shawl-sock-sweater knitting lineup.

A gap just the right size for a new super-fun project.

Shawl

This afternoon I cast on Ysolda Teague’s Follow Your Arrow Mystery KAL shawl.

I’m knitting it out of Alpha B Yarn Elite B in the Nikiya colorway. This is a yarn I received as part of the 2014 Cookie A Sock Club and I just couldn’t bear to knit up this luscious MCN goodness in a pair of socks. I’m in need of a nice red shawl, so this is the perfect pattern.

I think the mystery aspect of this KAL is going to make it super-fun and I’ll be motivated to keep up as each new clue is released.

Sock

I finished the first sock and am about halfway through the leg chart on the second sock on the Friendship socks from Cookie A. These are out of SweetGeorgia Yarns Tough Love Sock yarn in the Cayenne colorway. I’m enjoying the knitting and I got lots of compliments at knit night, but I will be glad when they’re finished.

Sweater

I’m on the first front side of the Central Park Hoodie. I worked on it a bit at knit night (even with the cable, it’s the most mindless knit I’ve got going right now) but I haven’t been too inspired to work on it. One of these days I just need to kick it into overdrive and decide to finish this sweater. Other sweater projects have been catching my eye (like Pumpkin Ale, Hitofude, and a lopipeysa) but I’m committed to not starting a new one until this is finished.

In other news, I was so inspired to read the Yarn Harlot’s recent post acknowledging her 11-year blogiversary. Her post reminded me that in December I marked 4 years of blogging here. My work has been so full of fits and starts, I’m not sure how much of a following I have (though my Hexipuff Tips post seems to get a lot of attention). I’m grateful to have a little corner of the internet that is my very own and I’m feeling inspired to give this little space some more attention, so keep your eye out for future updates.

My Knitting Palette

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the types of projects I choose to knit.

For a long time I found that my knitting appetite was quenched at any given moment when I had three projects on the needles.

  • A pair of socks
  • A shawl or cowl
  • A sweater or other garment

Socks

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Socks satisfy my need for portability. A small project bag with a sock on the needles is easily pulled out during faculty meetings, long waits in line or my weekly knit night.

For the past year or so I’ve been leaning towards knitting vanilla socks (you can find my recipe here) which has added a nice autopilot quality to this portable project.

Shawl

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The shawl is always my thinking project. Usually incorporating some sort of lace, in fingering weight yarn, this project usually is not one I can knit at knit night. This is a home-by-myself-watching (listening to)-TV knit. For a long time I had a little ritual of listening to Paula from Knitting Pipeline over coffee on Saturday morning while I knit my shawl. Just lovely.

Sometimes the project that fills this category is not actually a shawl. I recently finished a lace hat that served this function in my knitting diet.

Sweater

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Because sweaters are larger projects, I don’t usually take them out to knit. But because the knitting on them is usually simple, they are great to work on when I’m watching something on TV that needs my attention (like football — Go Ducks!) or when it’s late and I want to work in a few rows before I nod off.

Limiting my WIPs to these three projects has proven very useful for me. I always have something I’m in the mood to knit and I don’t have so many projects on the needles that I feel like I never finish anything.

Which brings me to the dilemma of my current list of WIPs. Here’s what’s currently on my needles.cookie-a-friendship-socks

These are my Cookie A Friendship Socks in Sweet Georgia tough sock love yarn in the cayenne colorway. The pattern was part of the 2014 Cookie A Sock Club (October). You can probably tell by the computer screen that is next to the sock in this photo that these are not exactly your autopilot socks. I was a member of the Cookie A sock club in 2012 and 2014. I’ve done a pretty good job of knitting the patterns from the club (I’ve probably knit 7 pairs from the patterns), but I felt that I couldn’t really justify the 2015 club without more fully dedicating myself to knitting those patterns. So, I bought a bunch of solid color sock yarn (mostly from Knit Picks) and have set to work. I’m enjoying it, but mindless it is not.

romi-hill-eiregal

This is the Eiregal shawl by Romi Hill. This pattern is the product of another club that I am in. I belong to Romi’s Seven Small Shawls club and I must confess that I have been pretty bad about knitting those patterns. I tried the first pattern that was released, but I wasn’t happy with it and it’s taken me awhile to get back to looking at the other patterns.

I cast this one on because I really wanted to use the Jojoland Cashmere yarn that I bought at Madrona last year. This yarn is an absolute dream and I can’t wait to have the finished product of this shawl ready to wear! My intention is to have it finished by Madrona this year.

central-park-hoodie

This is my Central Park Hoodie knit out of Berocco Blackstone Tweed. I really like how it’s turning out, but it’s not particularly fun to knit. There is something about how the slubs in tweed yarn work around the needles that messes with my tension. It’s not the smooth knitting experience that I truly enjoy.

Still, I’m going to be really happy with the finished product and I’m sure it will get a ton of wear.

So, what’s the dilemma with all of these fine, beautiful projects? Not one of them provides the mindless, autopilot experience I sometimes crave.

If these projects were food . . .

  • The Cookie A socks would be an Indian curry — delicious and pleasurable to eat, but containing a delicate balance of flavors.
  • The Romi Hill shawl would be a fancy soufflé dessert topped with carefully-placed strings of spun sugar. Delicious but eaten with care.
  • The Central Park cardigan would be granola — simple, delicious but super-crunchy and not always what you’re in the mood for.
  • None of them are potato chips.

If these projects were shoes . . .

  • The Cookie A socks would be wedge heels. Fashionable and pretty comfortable, but you really only wear them when you care.
  • The Romi Hill shawl would be strappy sandals you wear to a wedding. Beautiful — nothing looks better — but small doses only.
  • The Central Park cardigan would be hiking boots. Not the most comfortable, but good when you’re ready to work.
  • None of them are my favorite Vans slip-ons.

So, I’m knitting away, trying to wrap up one of these projects so I can cast on that potato chip, Vans slip-on project that I’m craving.

Summer Reading Bingo

You know those summertime images you see.

summer reading

Photo by Liz West, Creative Commons license

Tanned legs and flip-flopped feet are embraced by a rope hammock, while a dime-store paperback lies facedown across the lap (presumably because the reader is indulging in a sun-drenched afternoon siesta.)

Somehow my summer never measures up.

Mine is whirlwind of activity. Everybody home all day means there are more dishes to wash, more laundry to fold, more food to be prepared. The animals are shedding, the grass is growing and there’s still regular work to be done! Every summer, my visions of getting lost in a novel get washed, mowed and swept away.

Well, this summer is different. I’ve realized that I do much better when I have a plan, and I’ve put together a plan for my summer reading. Even better, I’ve included the kids, so we can support each other and it’ll be even more likely to actually happen.

The plan I’ve developed is built around this tool.

summer reading

 

So far Leo is just one away from having a bingo (though we are allowing him to cross off more than one square per book — might have to rethink that decision, though.)

They’ve also put together a Young Adult version (though we were happy to just use this one.)

I heard about this idea on one of my favorite podcasts — Books on the Nightstand. They have their own version of bingo, with different, randomly generated topics and I’m honestly considering switching to that one.

Regardless, I’m actually really excited to get going on this. I’m keeping my reading list up to date and you can also follow me on GoodReads. 

And hey, tell me what I should read!

Loopy Cephalopod Zombies

I hope you’re all happily knitting while my life flies by without me.

I have some amazing and interesting things coming together and it’s really taking all of my attention.

It’s all too new to really say anything about, but I will say that I am loving exploring how my personal and professional lives are converging. Truly wonderful things happening here at Chez LLM.

I suppose while I’ve got your attention I will tell you a little bit about what I’m knitting (during the 90 minutes per week I am finding the time!)

  1. Multnomah Shawl — I decided to cast on this lovely little shawl as my Camp Loopy entry. Go ahead, ask me if I’ve officially entered or have any hope of finishing by the June 30 deadline. I dare you.
  2. Cookie A Daenerys Socks (which I only spelled correctly because I copied and pasted.) I believe these socks are inspired by Game of Thrones, which I admit, I have never seen. Still, the socks are amazing to knit, though I couldn’t bring myself to use the INCREDIBLE Cephalopod yarn. How could I put that amazing color on my feet?! I satisfied myself by using a similar shade of Cascade.
  3. Vanilla Socks — Yes, do not despair — I am knitting a pair of vanilla socks. They’re my usual 3X1 rib and they’re knit out an amazing shade of Lorna’s Laces called “Zombie Barbecue.” What could be better?!

I would promise a more image-rich photo soon, but I know myself too well. Perhaps a blurred shot from my daily bus ride will make its way.

Until then . . .

Happy Knitting!

Not Much Time for Knitting

Spring is sure a busy time around this house!

In addition to it being a crazy time at school, my garden is starting to wake up, my children are working on big school projects, and we’re all feeling to the call to get outside more. It’s almost time to start up with the gardening posts on here!

But, for now I’ll give a little knitting update.

First of all, I finished my Vodka Orangeade cardigan. I’m somewhat happy with how it turned out, and I’ll definitely wear it, but it came out much larger than I expected. I was pretty careful about swatching, but in the end it is one of those big, cozy sweaters that’s great for a Saturday morning with jeans. It’s alright and actually kind of goes well with the alpaca yarn that I used, so I’m moderately pleased.

I haven’t taken a finished photo, so this in-process one will have to suffice for now.

Vodka Orangeade sweater

With that sweater done, I was ready to cast on another larger project.

I pulled out the sweaters’ quantities of yarn I’ve got in the stash and remembered that I’ve been meaning to cast on with the mushroom-colored Socks That Rock I got at the Blue Moon Fiber Arts Barn Sale. I also happened to remember that when I picked up the yarn I was intending to use it for the Leaving cardigan by Ann Hanson. So I swatched and have cast on. I’m currently working on the back. It’s been awhile since I worked on a cardigan that required seaming! So far I’m pretty happy with how it’s going.

Sorry, no photo of my own to show, but check out this one from the pattern page. Such beautiful lace work!

Leaving Cardigan

The last project that I’ll share is a pair of socks out of Socks That Rock. I swear you never know what that yarn is going to do. Check out the flashing on these socks!

Socks that Rock SocksAgain, I’m just moderately pleased, but, they’re only socks. I’ll definitely be glad to have another pair to add to the sock drawer.

That’s all for now. I have been meaning to podcast again, by the way. I’m hoping for next weekend. At that point we’ll be just a week away from spring break, so I should have a little more free time.

 

Clover Pom-Pom Maker Review

When I finished my super-cute Nordic hat, I knew it just wouldn’t be complete without a good substantial pom-pom on the top.

I quickly ran out to Michael’s where I found the Clover Pom-Pom Maker, I pulled out a 40% off coupon and got it for about $8. I found it here on Amazon for even less.

There were some very basic instructions on the back of the package, but it wasn’t easy to figure out. Luckily, I did a quick Google search and found several tutorials. Here’s a great YouTube video that goes through the whole thing.

At first I was a little skeptical because the pom-pom maker is pretty cheap and plastic-y, but when I followed the tutorial, and finished my pom-pom, I was super-happy with the result.

Here it is sitting on top of my Nordic hat.

Quince and Co hat

 

Definitely a fun, cheap little tool I can recommend.

Quince and Co Lark Yarn Review

Recently I finally got a chance to try Quince and Co yarn. I’ve heard so much about it and I’ve been wanting to use it for a long time. I’m so happy with this yarn that I thought it would be a great one to start my series of yarn reviews. Quince and Co Lark

Quince and Co Lark

  • 100% American wool
  • Worsted weight
  • 134 yards/50g
  • 5 stitches/inch
  • $6.90/skein (according to Quince site)

I bought three skeins of Quince and Co Lark at Twisted to use for the colorwork project I would be knitting during the Norwegian Colorwork class I was taking at Madrona. It turned out to be perfect for that purpose. Here are some of the things that make Lark a great yarn. Color: The color palette is huge with nearly 50 colors to choose from.

Quince and Co Lark color palette

Some of the colors are beautiful, subtle heathers, while others are bright vibrant shades. The hues are lovely and modern with perfect shades of wasabi green, apricot orange and bird’s egg blue. In addition to these perfect eye-catching colors, there is a surprisingly varied selection of neutrals, including no fewer than 5 shades of grey. I used snap pea (green), kittywake (a nice heather grey) and sabine (a deep charcoal) for my colorwork hat and I was so pleased with how the colors set each other off.

Shape: Lark’s 4 plies give it a nice round shape that yields incredible stitch definition. It is really the perfect yarn for colorwork and I can’t wait to use it for textured knitting like cables and twisted stitches. Loft: Those 4 plies also ensure that there is a lot of air in this yarn. As a result it is surprisingly lightweight and warm. I haven’t had a chance to put my Nordic hat to the warmth test yet, but I’m sure it will perform well! Elasticity: Quince and Co Lark is springy, bouncy, squishy and an absolute joy to knit with. It felt so natural in my hands I never found myself struggling with it. It seemed to delightfully twine itself into place. Softness: For a 100% wool yarn, Lark is remarkably soft. It’s probably the lofty, airy quality that accounts for Lark’s softness. I haven’t put it to the nephew test yet, but I’m eager to try it, and I know I would wear it without any concern. Price:  At about $7 for a skein of 134 yards, Quince and Co has put Lark at a price point that makes it an option for knitters who want to knit a larger garment out of a good quality yarn. I’m thrilled to have discovered Lark as an option for knitting sweaters! All told, Quince and Co Lark is a fantastic yarn! And I love my finished hat! Quince and Co hat If you love knitting with wool yarn and aren’t worried about using a non-superwash yarn, Lark is the worsted workhorse you’ve been looking for. Similar yarns: Knit Picks Swish, Cascade 220

Finished — Quince and Co Lark Nordic Colorwork Hat

Quince and Co hat

Nordic Colorwork Hat

Yarn: Quince and Co Lark, snap pea, kittywake and sabine

Needle: size 5 Hiya Hiya Sharp

Pattern: improvised, inspired by 150 Scandinavian Motifs: The Knitter’s Directory by Mary Jane Mucklestone

I started this hat at Madrona in the Scandinavian Colorwork class I took with Mary Jane Mucklestone. The hat I cast on there, though, was way too small, so I knew I would have to pull it out and start over.

Yesterday morning was the day I decided to do it.

It was one of those lucky accident projects. My gauge calculations and measurements suggested I cast on 134 stitches. I was a little nervous that would be too big, and I ran out of long tail around stitch 115, so I decided to go with that.

I improvised the fair isle pattern as I went along, using the 150 Scandinavian Motifs book for inspiration.

When I finished the knitting I realized that the hat would only be complete with a giant pom-pom. I bought the Clover Pom-Pom Maker and put it together.

I’m really happy with how it turned out. This week I’ll be posting reviews on both the Quince and Co Lark yarn and the Clover Pom-Pom Maker.

Addi Sock Rockets!

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I’ve been pretty quiet these days. Portland is in the midst of a snow-pocalypse and we’re all cozy at home. Snow is a rare occurrence in this town and this week we’ve had three days of it. The town has pretty much shut down. Cars and bikes are staying put and anyone venturing to the corner store for the essentials is on foot.

Most people, that is. I, however, took my North Idaho snow-savvy self to Twisted in my little not-so-snow-savvy Volkswagen. It was a little rough going, but a trip to the yarn store was essential in its own way. You see, I cast on my Olympic knitting project and found, horror of horrors, that I don’t have the right needles. A snowed in weekend, good stuff on the TV and a fully stocked fridge are nothing without the right knitting needles!

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So, I had to buy new ones. Here’s why nothing in my rather ample needle stash would suffice.

  1. The gorgeous Plucky Knitter yarn that came in the Cookie A club this month is a little bit lighter than most of the fingering weight yarn I usually use to make socks.
  2. Said gorgeous yarn is also a little light on the nylon content (just 10%.)
  3. The last time I made a pair of socks out of Cookie A sock club yarn that met this description I wore a hole in them faster than you can say Hamantaschen (which is the name of the pattern I used.)

So, for these reasons, I decided to knit these socks with a tighter gauge than usual. I pulled out my stash of needles and sorted through the options. Here’s what I found.

First, though my preferred sock knitting needle arrangement is two circulars, I do not own a pair of size 1 circulars with short cables.

Without the circulars I would like, I decided to use the Magic Loop technique. I had two different needles that would work. To begin, I cast on with an unidentified circular needle I’ve had forever.

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I think it’s a size 0 and the black cable would suggest Knitter’s Pride. Though I liked the gauge I was getting and appreciated the pointy tip for this lacy pattern, the join (where the cable meets the needle) was terrible and with all the stitch-sliding that happens with Magic Loop, I knew that these needles weren’t going to cut it.

So I returned to the needle stash and pulled another one out.

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This is one of the metal needles I ordered from China. Paula from Knitting Pipeline discovered these super-cheap needles on eBay and I couldn’t resist jumping on the cheap needle bandwagon. The needles aren’t my favorite, but they do in a pinch and it’s always good to have some extras around, just in case. Though the join was much better, you can see in the photo that the needle is very stiff and inflexible. (You can also see in the photo how gorgeous that Plucky is!) I made do, though, and happily knit a few repeats of the lace pattern while watching the Opening Ceremonies. (I did manage to look up from my sock project long enough to witness the fifth ring fiasco. Poor Russians.)

Well, when I woke up this morning I could tell cabin fever was starting to settle in, so I decided to use it as an excuse to head out and remedy my needle dilemma. I also needed to purchase yarn for my Madrona homework, so I had good reason to head towards Twisted.

First, I scouted out the yarn. I’ve been dying to work with Quince and Company and Twisted has such a fantastic display of colors, I couldn’t resist. I picked out three contrasting colors of Lark — two shades of gray and a green that matches my winter vest perfectly (I think we’re making a hat.)

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The homework instructions say to choose a DK weight, and technically Lark is worsted, but I figure I’ll just knit tightly and make it work. I also picked out a 16″ size 4 needle to go with the yarn. Hopefully I’ll cast that on this weekend.

While I was looking at the needles, my eye caught the Addi Sock Rockets in the corner. I asked the friendly gal at the counter about them and she raved! She said they’re the perfect combination of the pointy tip of the Addi Lace but the slick metal finish of the regular Addis. She totally sold me. I considered buying just one long needle for Magic Looping, just to save the expense of a second needle, but then I thought a minute. I realized 1 — I really do prefer two circulars. And 2 — I’m planning on making lots of socks this year. So I decided the two needles were worth the expense. I picked out two 24″ size 1′s and called it good.

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Now, truthfully, I would have preferred a 16″ cable, but Addi doesn’t make the Sock Rockets with a 16″ cable. Also, if I had brought the project with me, I probably would have ended up getting a size 0. But I think the pointier tip will help keep my gauge tight, and the 1′s will end up being more versatile anyway. Incidentally, my usual sock knitting needles are 1 1/2′s.

I just sat down and knit a few stitches with the new needles and I love them. I was a little worried because I’m usually not a huge fan of really pointy needles. I would say that the Sock Rockets are not as pointy as the Hiya Hiya Sharps, but for me, that’s a good thing. I tend to split my yarn if the needles are too pointy. So far the Sock Rockets seem perfect. Call me a happy Addi customer!

I did realize, however, that the new needles would change the gauge of my knitting enough that I shouldn’t just continue on with the new needles. So I just pulled out the whole sock.

Oh well, I’ve got an evening of Olympic-watching ahead of me! I hope everyone is warm and happy and knitting!