A Rocky Start

A rocky start to my new year.

On New Year’s Day I broke the needle on my sweater.  The cable just broke off right at the end of the needle in almost exactly the middle of the row.  I managed to save all of my stitches but had to wait until the yarn shop was open to continue knitting.  My dearest husband decided that I not only needed Addi Turbo Rocket needles but Knitter’s Pride Dreamz as well.  I wasn’t about to argue with him.

So with the new needles (I decided to use the Addis) I resumed knitting.  And promptly overdid it.  I know I have posture issues while knitting and I try my best to not do bad things with my body while knitting but I’ve come to the conclusion that I simply cannot knit for hours and hours every day.  Even with mid row breaks and long breaks (and getting up and moving around) at the end of rows.  I strained my back once again so cannot knit for awhile (maybe next monday, I’ll try it again.)

I did knit my first Japanese swatch of the year on Tuesday (and part of Wednesday) while waiting to go to the yarn shop.

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This is the middle section of Pattern #1 in the Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible. Two repeats across and 2 repeats tall.  This was one of the simpler patterns.  Just one new stitch that occurred just once in each repeat (the wrapped stitches at the top and middle of the swatch).  Everything else is the usual lace stitches (yo, k2tog, ssk, p2tog, p2togtbl, etc).  But somehow it seemed more difficult than other lace I’ve knitted.  Half of the repeat does have patterning on every row but I’ve done that before.  There’s just something in how the stitches are put together that is had to wrap my brain around.  I can’t really explain it.

Oh and I used the Knitter’s Pride Knit Blockers I bought myself for Christmas.  They’re interesting.  Very sharp and a bit fiddly to use.  They work well for squarish swatches.  I’ll have to see how they work on a big shawl (and I might need a second box of them to have enough.)

In my forced downtime I’ve been thinking about future sweaters.  I dug through my stash and came up with several yarns to make sweaters with.  Some will have to be two colors (as I just don’t have enough of one color) and I’m planning to blend them together while knitting (like in the Find your Fade shawls.)  I’ll need to dye some yarn to complete the color sets.  One will be dyeing a blue to a different shade to bridge between two other shades of blue.  Another is as yet undecided.  I have a beautiful teal and an equally beautiful purple that look great together but will blend into mud.  I need to figure out a color that will bridge them together.

Possible sweater yarns (links to my stash pages)

Purple varigated – this may be dyed after knitting.  I am not at all sure about wearing this in a sweater.

Wine and Black – Wine on top fading into black

Bright Blue, to be dyed blue and dark blue – bright on top, dark on bottom

Blue-green gradient – I’m not sure about this one – either the color order or if I want to wear it in a sweater.

Plum, Teal and to be dyed – The to be dyed color is lovely on it’s own but it’s a matter of matching yarn weights.  But then again I have sweaters to unravel so maybe I’ll ply some of those to match the weight and dye it.

Some of these may also have colorwork yokes.  I picked up a few magazines recently  (plus ones I’ve bought in the past) with lovely sweaters in them.  After much research, including consulting with Elizabeth Zimmermann I think I’ve come to understand how these yokes work.  I’m pretty sure I can adjust the charts to fit my yarn weight/number of stitches and alter them from bottom up to top down.  What can I say?  I really like the sweater pattern generator that I’m using.  It’s that best thing for me since my yarns (hand spun or plied from sweaters) don’t fit standard yarn weights.  Working from an actual gauge is so much better for me.

I have more yarn in the to be dyed pile that may make it into the sweater lineup after I decide on colors.  I don’t measure yards or wpi until after dyeing so I don’t know how much of anything I have in the pile.  Although I can make some educated guesses based on previous results.  I need 2-3 commercial sweaters to knit myself a sweater, depending on weight I ply them to.  Unless it was a very large sweater to begin with.  I have one extra large sweater in the dye pile and enough smaller sweaters to knit one sweater.  So that’s possibly two more sweaters.

Of course I’ll never knit all of these this year, especially if I keep injuring myself.  I’ve got to come up with a better plan – some number of hours I can knit without damaging myself and then stick to it.  I must learn to ignore the “just one more row” voice in my head.

In the meantime, I’m resting my back, playing pointless time wasting games (it’s that or go crazy from boredom), plotting and planning my future knitting and maybe transcribing a few more Japanese patterns into written instructions.

 

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2018 Plans – other crafts

I’ve rather let weaving fall by the wayside in 2017.  This is partly because I have an idea that requires yarn to be spun.  That yarn is being spun on spindles and I let spindle spinning fall by the wayside as well.  I also dread warping the loom. It’s not really difficult but it very tedious and fiddly.

I’ve dabbled in pin looms a bit late this year but I’m not sure I like it.  I’ve also played with frame looms and that is much more to my taste.  I plan to make some frame looms in Spring (my husband’s workshop is the garage and it’s far too cold out there right now.)  So whether it’s the frame looms or the rigid heddle loom, I want to weave more in 2018.

I’ve also been dabbling in embroidery and I want to continue with that and maybe a little bit of other sorts of clothing embellishments.  I’ve got a ton of fabric  and lace scraps and it would be interesting to do some crazy quilt/applique sort of thing.  Maybe add some woven patches.  Perhaps get back into lace tatting and add some of that in.  There are all sorts of ideas bouncing around in my head.

There will also be sewing as I still need more clothes to make a complete wardrobe.

2018 Plans – Spinning

 

I did pretty well on my 2017 spinning plans. Patrick the CVM is done (plus the bulky), Violette the Corriedale is re-scoured and slowly (ever so slowly) being combed. As a matter of fact, I’m currently knitting some of Violette into a sweater. The Hawaiian Merino is spun. I didn’t get to my other goals. My buying goals changed since the place I buy my fleece from changed.

For 2018:

Continue with Violette the Corriedale. Comb and spin a sweater’s worth of the Cormo I bought in 2017 (and then knit the sweater.)

As for buying fleeces, I’m not really sure what the new shepherdess will have so I’ll probably not really make buying plans. I’ll just go and stick my hands in the fleeces and see what cries out to come home with me.

I might also continue the tradition of February being the month of spinning. That worked out really well for me last year.

I also want to get back into the habit of spindle spinning. Once the holiday decorations come down I need to find a place to put a spindle that is in plain sight yet out of the way (especially of the cats.) If I see it I am more likely to do it.

Oh and I want to get up the courage to spin the silk hankies I bought last summer.

2018 Plans – Knitting

First, let’s see how I did on 2017’s plans.

I utterly failed making any of the colorwork patterns I planned to do. If I remember correctly there were color and pattern issues. Sockhead hat was skipped.

Sing a song of Sixpence is a WIP, maybe ¾ of the way done. Vinorina was frogged as not enjoyable.

I did release not just one but three patterns so there’s a success.

The Gordian gloves were frogged for being painful to knit. Dracula’s Bride is still a WIP. I will finish it someday.  Fox Paws is still on my to knit list.

I’m not very good at achieving goals. My interests change on a whim so what seems good at the beginning of the year is no longer interesting a few months in.

I think my knitting habits are changing. When I look at Ravelry for projects completed in each year, 2017 has half the projects completed as compared to 2016 and 1/3 of what I did in 2014 and 2015. When I look at the types of projects I did, 2017 has a distinct lack of small projects – hats, cowls, etc – as compared to previous years. I also spent a lot more time designing and spinning/prepping fiber which is time not spent knitting. I’m good with this. I have a box full of hats, cowls, scarves and small shawls that sit unused. I don’t need to add to it.

So what are my goals for 2018?

Honestly I’m not sure I want to set specific goals. I have The Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible and I just received  two more in Barbara Walker’s A Treasury of Knitting Patterns series (I now have the first three in the series.) Plus a slew of smaller stitch dictionaries. I’m thinking of spending the year swatching and seeing if anything triggers any pattern designs. I’ve not had much luck when I set out specifically to design. I do better when I play around and see what happens.

I also want to finish the sweater I have on the needles and knit another one (that I still have to spin the yarn for.) Maybe knit more sweaters but nothing specific.

I think swatching and sweaters are a good combo. Sweaters are big projects that take time but are relatively simple. The swatches are much smaller and quicker but also much more complicated. I want to aim for at least one swatch a week but I’m not going to hold myself to that.

I’ve got several colorwork cowl designs charted. They just need to be knitted and plugged into my pattern template. They’ll wait til I get the colorwork urge.

Christmas Angel final pics

We finished decorating the Christmas Tree tonight so I was finally able to take pics of my Christmas Angel tree topper in place on her cloud.  Click on the pics for bigger versions.  The first one is with flash and the 2nd is without.

Honestly, we refer to her as the Christmas Fairy.  It fits better with our beliefs.  I’m absolutely thrilled with how she looks.  She’s like a queen up there.  I should make her a crown or a tiara.

In case you are wondering, yes those are ornaments hanging from the ceiling.  I have a huge collection of Christmas ornaments.  My tree is much smaller than it used to be so they don’t all fit plus I have cats so the bottom half of my tree is all paper, plastic and metal ornaments.

Many years ago we strung wire across the ceiling, more or less in a starburst shape.  That wire was wrapped in alternating gold and red bead garland.  It stays up year round.  We hang the ornaments from that.

With the ceiling , the tree, the garlands (2 archways and one window), the top of the dvd case (which I treat like a very shallow fireplace mantle) plus some shelves, there is a lot of Christmas in my living room.  The red walls and chocolate brown trim only adds to the feel.

I am cautiously getting back to knitting.  I’m trying to be more aware of how I’m holding my head/neck and completely avoiding hunching over my knitting.  So far, so good.

Altering A Christmas Angel Tree Topper

And now for something completely different.

I’ve not been knitting or spinning because I’ve got a terrible neck ache.  It’s part tension from Thanksgiving stress and part too much knitting.  So I’ve been trying to find other things to do.  Hopefully I’ll be getting a massage soon that will help.

I’ve been Christmas decorating and most of it is now done.  Just the tree and a few pictures left to go.  I pulled out my angel tree toppers. I have 2 and use whichever one I like best each year.  The problem is that I while I like them, I don’t love them.  I want a new one but they’re quite expensive and I never find one I truly love anyway.

I decided to try altering one of my existing angels.  After some careful and gentle poking and prodding I discovered that the clothing and wings are just glued on and it all came off quite easily.  So I dove into my fabric stash and came up with some gauzy fabrics and a lightweight solid that matched.  I’ve no idea what the fabrics are called.  The gauzy stuff I got from a rummage sale held by a lady from India and the solid was salvaged from a dress I dismantled.

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My angel sits atop a cloud of angel hair (the real spun glass kind that’s banned now.  I buy it anytime I find it at rummage sales and thrift stores.)  The skirts on store bought angels never really floated over that cloud properly.  So first up I doubled up the burgundy gauzy stuff and hand stitched a line so I could gather it up.  There’s probably enough fabric there to go around my waist so it’s nice and poofy on the angel’s 7 inch waist.

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It needed an underskirt as the gauzy stuff it still very sheer, even doubled.  So I hand sewed one out of the solid.  Next was a bodice, which is just the solid plus a gauzy gold just tacked together and then glued to the angel.

I had been planning to make a sort of coat, like the original clothes so next was sleeves.  Same as the bodice, but no glue and better sewing, still by hand.  I should of used a red thread.  The gold stands out.  I may glue on some ribbon later to hide it.

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I spent some time trying to figure out how to do a coat and failed.  In doing so I wrapped fabric around the angel’s shoulders like a shawl and really liked the effect.  So more playing around and adding the sleeves and more of the gold gauzy fabric and I got a look I really like.

So next is gluing the sleeves on and trimming the excess fabric.  Plus a little tacking down at the wrists so the sleeves stay put and don’t slide off over her hands.  I also glued down the bodice in back.  Then attaching the skirts properly.  I simply took the ends of the thread from the gathering, pulled them tight and knotted them.  I added a dab of glue on the knot.  I debated (am still debating) a ribbon belt/sash around the waist.  I’m just not sure how that would work over the poofy skirt.

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Finally I added the shawl.  I just gathered up the fabric, and tucked, pulled and arranged to my liking.  No glue or sewing.

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Now I am pondering wings.  Both if I should even add them and if I do, how to make them.

Wings or no wings, I’m now pretty excited to get my tree up and see how she looks up on her cloud.

So maybe I AM a sweater knitter.

I’ve spent the last two weeks sewing and I’ve got the basics of a wardrobe made (enough clothes to get me through a week or so.)  I’m quite pleased with what I’ve made.  It’s comfortable and fairly easy although I do tend to end up back in sweats on the weekends.  Skirts are just inconvenient for my more active/dirty weekends.

I did miscalculate a bit in choosing fabrics/styles.  When I was planning and sewing, temps were still in the 60’s or more.  We’ve suddenly dropped to the 40’s and turned on the heat.  We don’t keep the heat very high and the clothes I made are a bit light for the current and coming temps.  I could just throw on a sweatshirt but that rather ruins the style.

I need sweaters.  I need to knit sweaters.

I want quick and easy sweaters which means thicker yarn and bigger needles.  I’ve got the yarn (or yarn-to-be, as much still needs to be plied) but it’s earmarked for my dressing gown.  The dressing gown is complete except for the lace edging.  I need miles of edging and have no inspiration to knit it.  The gown is wearable as is (aside from a sash).  The edging is just fancy-ing it up a bit.  I’ve decided to skip the edging which frees up the yarn and yarn-to-be for a sweater (or two).

Next is needle.  My biggest size 8 circular is currently in the Dwarrow stocking design.  I suddenly have inspiration to finish knitting it so I can use the needle for a sweater.

I’m putting a pause on the sewing.  I have ideas but not enough matching fabric.  And to be honest, I’ve kind of burned out on sewing.