WIPing Wednesday

This post is about something that, as of late, has been a little foreign to my blog. Every week I spend Tuesday night and Sunday afternoon knitting with friends. Some weeks it's the only time I have to knit, but it still adds up to 4 hours of time. Plus, this past week, I knit all weekend at the Alta Knitter's Retreat and spent yet more time knitting with Kym.  I'mI feeling like good progress that's been made and hopeful the momentum will carry on. 

Of course, there has been my usual problem of repeating the same mistakes (over and over and over), which has slowed down progress, but it is the process, and I have shouldered through. In the all of it, Cactus Flower has  grown more quickly than I'd anticipated and you can count me thrilled. 

Cactus

The main body was easy and fun to knit, although the nupps slowed me down a bit. Nupps aren't that hard to do, but I certainly had to pay attention. It was the two color section that gave me the most trouble, even though it's a very easy section to knit. I made it much (much!) harder than it should have been and take complete responsibility for being ditzy and not paying attention. 

The sideways knit lace border looked complicated and intimidating, but that is far from the case. The chart has been easy to read and the lace has proved very readable, too. Do you read your lace as you knit, checking your progress to see if your stitches make sense? Learning to see how the lace works from row to row has saved me through many a complicated lace shawl. I'm thrilled with the textures in Cactus Flower and the way the design sections flow together, which means it may end up another favorite shawl.

Gale's posting about her WIPs on Wednesday, so I thought I'd join her. I love the interesting and colorful projects she does.


Get Over It

It isn't as though I live my life in fear of failure. I am a knitter after all, and as a knitter, there has been many a project that once made will never see the light of day. In almost any craft I've tried there have been triumphs and failures. Many of you may remember my attempts at fiber felting and toe up sucks socks.

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Some of the other fun things I've tried were sewing (made a skirt and a pair of pj pants), card making, and spinning. I learned to spin on a spindle and wheel and enjoyed the process very much. But the fever waned and I haven't touched a drop of fiber in several years. Fear of getting my wheel back in shape (will I remember how to put it together?), and getting it tuned properly, and/or making a mess of anything I try to spin, has stopped me in my tracks. This is a fear I hope to overcome.

I put many years into the study of embroidery and became quite accomplished, but it's an art I've left by the wayside to languish. I fear getting back on the horse, as I'm not sure how much of my ability has been lost. The drive to spin, or to stitch, is not as strong as it once was and I wonder if there is something lacking in me that I have lost this desire. Am I lazy? Have I, why have I, lost confidence in myself. Were they passing fancies? Being fickle is a little frightening, too.

So what would I do today if my fear was overcome?  The biggest fear is monetary expenses, as several of the crafts I'd like to try involve an investment in supplies. The investment could be lost due to poor quality of workmanship or the fickleness specter. 

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The top of my list of projects to try is an Alabama Chanin inspired by Vicki!  Alabama Chanin means an investment in cash and time, which strikes the fear chord big time! BUT, then Vicki inspires again, as she suggested I use recycled cotton knits. Guess what I have?  I pile of old t-shirts! I'm going to set fear aside, figure out what direction I want to take, and jump in and find my way.

Stay tuned!


Dreaming

Raise your hand if you think I haven't been knitting.  

I'd say that's about 50% of you. Well, knitting time has been hit and miss but I have put for an effort finish the on the bind off on Sweet Dreams. We're talking picot bind off, the three stitches on, five stitches off kind of bind off. It is a considerable investment in time and every stitch worth worth the effort. Beads, handspun, cashmere, gloriously red...Sweet Dreams is going to be an elegant, slightly decadent (cashmere!) piece of perfection.

Beadsandpicots

This picture is decieving as it doesn't show my progress over the last few days. By a little knitting here and there I have been able to bind off about 3/4s of the shawl. Blocking should be this weekend! (Given half a chance and an hours worth of time.)

Every once in awhile I give Leftie a quick look, but its whimsical leaves are not something I enjoy knitting. There are no plans to abandon it, so it will stay in my knitting basket, the basket of hope. My eye is on two other projects which will likely be on my needles soon. Imagine When by Joji Locatelli and Aislinn (yes, I'm gong for it), by Amy Herzog. All plans are subject to change as I hear Twist is coming out next week. Who knows what could capture the imagination!


Realization

You know that moment, the moment something hits you and you say, "oh no, not again!"? I have this thing, I'm not quite sure how or why, but it's a thing with me and I do it all the time.  I get into ruts. Ruts of color (extended periods of knitting with red, or blue, and now, it's neutrals), ruts of style (a year of sweaters, of socks, of shawls), and ruts of designers, (Kristen, Veera, Susan and now, Brooklyn Tweed). (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

First on my list of BT projects is Quill, a Jared Flood design inspired by his (and many a knitters) idol, Elizabeth Zimmermann. The second BT project is Breckon, which is from BT's Wool People 3, a designed by Amy Christoffers. Lastly, there is my little side trip into yet a third BT pattern, Fortnight. Yes, it is my foray into Christmas knitting.

Fortnightbrown

A couple skeins of the soft and warm Shepherd's Wool (my fave!) have been languishing in my stash. I was very please when Smith consented to a row of a different color around the edge. The bit of gold sits nicely against the main color of brown.

Until purchasing the pattern I was unaware of the ear flap option. Jared uses short row shaping to create ear flaps and a neck covering at the back of the hat. The shaping is almost invisible, but it add that extra bit of warmth needed in the cold of winter.  The hat should be finished in plenty of time for Smith to wear on Christmas Day, but the only thing we really want for Christmas is snow (lots of it!). 


Holiday Knitting

The long Holiday weekend was (mostly) spend in quiet pursuits, that is excluding the very loud previews of movies that came before a not quite as loud Sherlock Holmes.  The movie was a hit with our group of friends. 

Blueskiesshiningonme

With four days off it was nice to spend time reading, knitting, walking, and chatting with Smith.  While I should be wishing for snow (and at times I do), I've enjoyed the the sun streaming through the window, as it makes my room warm and cozy, the perfect place to sit and knit.

Cowlinthesun

Since I seem to be averse to large knitting projects, I decided to have some fun and knit an interesting cowl. Brooklyn Tweed's Setzer fit the bill with its short row shaping. Actually, it wasn't until after I'd perused the pattern that I learned the shaping was done with short rows.  However, short rows don't scare me...they are not new to my knitting repertoire. I do admit to having trouble with execution, but as Susan pointed out, when I went to her for help, I just needed to count my stitches. Yes, this was a very "DUH" moment, but from then on the cowl went smoothly...that is until I ran out of yarn.

Wearingmycowl

When I started the project I knew I'd be close on yardage, but (isn't there always a "but" with me?) I did it anyway, thinking I'd get away with it (hahaha), or I'd only be a couple of rows short, and it would be fine. But (oh yeah), it wasn't fine!  The cowl would be way to short, AND it would be obvious, as there was a whole pattern repeat to do!

Backocowl

Thank goddess for the stash and for the bit of Shepherd's Wool leftover from another project--a beautiful red which was just the perfect touch.  Sometimes, denial works in our favor.

Wellinevercowl
But, don't count on it.


On My Needles

Trying to fit in time for a post is proving difficult this week, but I didn't want too much time to go by without checking in.  Knitting time has been as hit and miss, as is posting to blog time, but if my friends can post daily, I can at least try to post several times a week.  I'm very happy not to have another daily obligation.

Different Lines is moving toward the end, but the border is plain and wide, with long rows of garter.  It's great knitting when I'm distracted by chat, or a movie, but otherwise it gets quite tedious. Despite that...it's the process, it is growing. I have no pictures, but to distract you from lack of progress pictures, how about one of Kim's Woolen Rabbit yarn club?

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The yarn is a lovely MCN yarn called Kashmir Sock and it has the very fabulous, and appropriate, name of Pumpkin Head!  The yarn content, its color and its name all give me a thrill.  Ideas for a project are marinating and, in the meantime, I'm naming this autumn red-orange color as THE color of 2011!  The "treat" was a mini-bottle of New Hampshire maple syrup, which was very yummy on the pancakes Smith made over the weekend.

Blueloveglove

Merike's Glove also is growing slowly (my knitting life), as I go forward a row or two and back three. The joy is knit with Joan's fabulous handspun.  While the pattern keeps me on my toes, the yarn makes my heart sing, with gorgeous sky blue color flecked with bits of pink.  I could not love the soft and cushy texture more. 


I Didn't Mean It

Truly, I didn't mean to be gone so long!  It's been tough enough to keep up with work, with daily life, neither of which hasn't left much extra time for blogging, etc.  Leisure time has been  sparse and I'm looking for a little slow down so I can blog, read blogs, and check my email!

That isn't to say I haven't been knitting at all.  I have!  A little.

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The pink yarn is Vicki's "Virginia" and the contrast is a Schaeffer Anne that's been residing in the stash.  They married well. Different Lines is such an easy shawl to pick up and knit no matter what's going on around me.  The simple garter stitch is relaxing and short rows are entertaining. Each section grows wider along one side of the shawl, as the shorts rows build and increase. This is interesting and captivating knitting.

Blueskysaturday

The weekend was beautiful and I hate to admit it while so many friends are without power in the north east.  But, the gray is settling in today and I hear the snow and cold are on the doorstep.

This month I'm all about relaxation so there will be no blogging on a daily basis.  I'll blog when I can, but hope to be make it more than once a week!


Possibilities

During the summer months I find less time for knitting, which isn't a surprise as the garden, the outdoors, and business in general, is part of life for many of us.  However, starting with the Alta Retreat, I have had a little more leisure time and I have put it to good use. 

Ihaveaholdenproject

For retreat knitting I thought a new project should be uncomplicated and light in color.  We were unsure if the lighting would be adequate in some of the meet up rooms and I certainly wanted to see my knitting. Lighting proved to be fine, but I was satisfied my project was easy, and very happy it had time to grow.

Whiteshawlnearend

The first photo is of the shawl, a week ago and the second is the shawl a couple of days ago. The yarn has been an unknown in my stash for quite some time, but since it is one of my favorite blends, merino/silk, it had a way of speaking to me from time to time. The intent, when I bought it (a stash sale), was to dye it. That's still my intent but, I'm knitting first, then will dye, or have the shawl dyed, afterwards. 

Virginiaandanne

Vicki's inspiration was another piece of the framework that helped make my decision to use this undyed yarn. She has created many beautiful yarns during her Project Spectrum journey and I was the lucky recipient of the pink she shows in this post, a yarn she named for her Grandmother Viginia. In the picture it's paired with a Shaffer Anne, another long time stash yarn, and I'm trying to decide between Katriel or Different Lines.

During Retreat (which was weeks ago!) I watched as Vicki's Different Lines grew more fabulous with every row and, seeing her pleasure when it was finished, was a treat. I'd been sitting on the fence, but now I know, as soon as the last stitch of Holden (oh yes, that's the shawl I've been knitting and I almost forgot to tell you) I'll start on a Different course.

As you can see, I DO knit and because I deleted a draft post, this one is 1900 AGAIN!   1900 posts and 62,181 comments. Apparently blogging lives.


And the Tomatoes Have It!

The weekend was packed with tomatoes! The good kind of tomatoes, not killer tomatoes, although they about did me in. The tomatoes turned into beautiful pots (and pots) of tasty, yummy sauce. With the number of tomatoes coming out of the garden we were able to make six big batches of sauce and 5 dinners worth of Italian Tomato Bean Soup.  We'll have this taste of summer all winter long and we will be so grateful, even though it was hard work.

Because all our weekend fun centered around the kitchen, the garden (with a few friends sprinkled in), no pictures were taken and little knitting was accomplished, but that didn't stop me from dreaming about what would be next on my needles. Therefore, I bring to you thoughts on my winter knitting queue, ala Carole's Ten on Tuesday.

1. Gloves-  Smith and I both need our gloves replaced as holes have taken over and, at this point, it's easier to make a whole pair than to try and replace fingers or palms. Smith will have another pair of Polperro gloves and I'm going to make a pair from the exquisite handspun yarn from our Joan.

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2. I'd love to make Cria and learn Ysolda's creative way of knitting set in sleeves from the top down.  Madeline Tosh Pashmina, in Composition Book Gray (great color name?) is in wait.

3. Amy Herzog's new pattern Wintry Mix is just the style of sweater I like to wear.  It's high on my list of desire.

4. Because Kym linked to a couple of patterns this morning, I found Brooklyn Tweed's Wool People. My desire for several sweaters, and other lovely knits, has grown wildly since 6:00am.  Many will enter my winter queue.

5. I'd like to make a pair of knee socks and Endymion in the Twist Collective, has caught my eye. Surely I have a suitable stash yarn.

6. There are several shawls on my list of desire and I'm having trouble deciding which will be next.  Two are as yet unpublished (but they should be available this fall) and one is knit with lace weight, which I haven't used in a couple of years. I'm ready to tackle the fine and delicate again, especially since the yarn from Kim's club is Chantilly Lace in the exclusive color "Ink".

Kimsgorgeouschantilly

7. In the interest of time (this should be published sometime today, no?), the rest of the list will be quick.  I'd like to use my stash (mostly DK yarn) and knit a cardigan, or two. At the moment there are too many pattern choices to narrow things down.

8.  Socks!  There will be socks and you know there is always Socktober.  I hope to join again this year.

9. A lace cowl would be a nice thing to wear and Anne's Arachne is gorgeous. 

10. I'd like a warm wrap like Kim's Gray Goose, which she knit from Rose Beck's And So are You

Almost everything can be knit from stash, and while I'm not making any promises, stash is a good thing and I'm using mine as much as possible this winter.  What are your knitting plans?


To Shawl or Not to Shawl

My knitting inspiration has been floundering the last couple of months and there has been noticable lack of progress. Maybe it's the season, as summer is about the garden, and I've been reading more, also been beat up by job changes. It's taken some time to get my bearings. I thought shawl knitting would be a good antidote and Kirsten's Cladnonia would be a the perfect project.

Stripycladonia

The stash is the first place I shop for yarn when a new pattern comes along so the stash was the first place I went. Kim's Lark yarn is soft and I knew it would have a lovely drape for half circle shawl. On hand was a beautiful shade of brown, (Godiva) and another lovely shade, Woodrose. I truly thought they'd play well together, but as it turns out they were to stripey, too "bee" like for my taste. The shades need to blend, move in and out of the same color so the stripes don't jump out at you. At least that's my thought about the shawl. Also, my knitting rather sucked (as I pulling the edge too tightly). The shawl just wasn't working, as none of us were playing well together.

Browncladonia

Therefore, I thought I'd make Cladonia in a solid color (Godiva) and use Woodrose for the lace edge but, after starting, I just couldn't visualize the finished product.  Shawl knitting stopped....just ended. My desire to knit another shawl gone.  This was something I hadn't experienced in years. Nothing came along to inspire, no muse came to send me in the right direction, and so, I gave up, just like that, and turned to sweater knitting.  I've been waiting for the next shawl to find me.

When Vicki first talked about Stephen West's Mystery shawl, my ears perked up and I decided, because Vicki was excited, to give it a chance.  Could this be the muse calling to me? I shopped my stash, found two colors I thought would play well together (since my track record sn't so good, this is a crap shoot) and headed to the LYS to find a third. 

Mymystery

I'm using Madelintosh Merino Light (Sequoia, Kale, and Amber Trinket) and I'm excited about the colors (I'm thinking Earth & Sky at sunset!), but once again, Vicki has inspired me with her new shawl. Striped Study just might be the perfect marriage for Woodrose and Godiva.  Why didn't I think of that? What do you think?