Trusting The (Very Long) Process

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Trusting The (Very Long) Process

Knitting  a sweater is no small undertaking. Especially a fingering weight sweater. On size 2 needles. Made of handspun.

Despite this fact, I am irrationally annoyed that I didn't get this one done sooner, because now it is disgustingly hot out and I want to wear this lovely creation all. the. time. 

The pattern is Joji Locatelli's Timeless Henley, knit from BFL Silk blend yarn that I originally purchased as beautiful fluff from Woolgatherings. I didn't make any alterations; I should have, the waist shaping is a bit too low for me as written; yet it yielded an almost-perfect fit. There's a lot of wiggle room in the blocking of this piece - I added several inches width- and length-wise while it was wet (as my swatch told me I would have to do) but the fabric remained springy and gorgeous. It calls for buttons on the split neck but I haven't put any on yet. I'm not convinced they're needed, but they can always be added later if I magically grow cleavage that needs to be hidden away. Please universe...

I was really worried that this sweater would be too loud and garish for me. After all, it's a multicoloured shiny stripy marled handspun yarn, knit into a busy mesh lace. The fact that there was no way to make the sleeves match completely was a big damn deal for me as well. As several fellow knitters wisely predicted, my fears were unfounded. I think as long as I wear it with simple jeans and a nude/black tank underneath, it's absolutely perfect! It's good to learn to trust the process, and your friends' judgement.

Normally I am pretty irritated when I have a bunch of yarn left over from a big project like this, but I am gleefully awaiting the inspiration that tells me what to do with another 775 yards or so!

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A Little Mending

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A Little Mending

Quite some time back I knit Jacob a Hugo sweater. The pattern is by Veronik Avery and I knit it in Brooklyn Tweed Shelter, the recommended yarn. I've made my opinions of Shelter pretty well known - I love that shit. It's soft, it's light, it's warm, it's rustic, it's ethically produced by a company that brings a lot to the yarn world (It's pricy, and there are other, cheaper options, but.... eh. The colours are perfection). Thing is, though, it's a woollen spun yarn. It's a production method that creates all the lovely above mentioned traits, but it comes at the cost of durability. 

So what I'm saying is Jake's beautiful sweater sprung a hole. Apparently he's got some pointy elbows and one of them tried to make an exit through the back of the sleeve. I didn't have any of the yarn left, so rather than darning, I had to patch. Luckily, elbow patches are a thing!

I started by needle felting a bit of wool over the hole, to stop any future ravelling. Then it was just a matter of sewing some pre made faux suede patches on (I did want them to be somewhat washable, so fake seemed like a good plan). Honestly the hardest part was getting them in the same place on both sleeves.

That, and taking pictures. "Look normal, but show me both of your elbows at the same time!" is not actually a thing. Also, why doesn't the dog laugh at my jokes? Hopefully now that this stress point is reinforced, he'll have years of wear left in this sweater, with bonus old man flair.

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Everything I Make is Neon

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Everything I Make is Neon

I really like bright colours conceptually, but for everyday wear I prefer subdued shades and neutrals. You wouldn't know that from my recent creative output! It's neon madness up in here.

First I finished some handspun, which is a big damn deal. I haven't finished a skein in almost a year. The fibre was Polwarth wool from Spun Right Round, in a fabulously crazy colourway called Picnic. Out of approximately 8 ounces I got 409 metres (477 yards) of DK to worsted weight chain-plied stripy neon goodness. It feels nice to have something finished, and Polwarth is spectacular to work with. I'm thinking about maybe striping it with some pale grey merino and an accent of sparkly white (both currently in fluffy unspun form) as a couch throw/lap blanket thing. We'll see.

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The neon continues in a long lingering sock project that became my rather neglected purse knitting. They were mostly worked on at knit nights and over the Christmas break. Top down, heel flap, no-fuss-no-bother vanilla socks are great for that sort of thing. It helps that they are unparalleled in their colourful cheeriness. The yarn is the ever popular Regia Fluormania.

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For a little neon nightcap, may I present my latest food preservation attempt - picked red onions. It's about the easiest recipe ever - I made them (like literally every step of the process) in the 10 minutes it took for a pizza to cook. They are tart, sweet, slightly spicy, and all around heavenly, if pickles are your thing. Pickles are very my thing, especially if they are neon pink. Also these ones feature one of my favourite cooking chemistry surprises - blue garlic. I love a good contrast colour!

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All that neon is exhausting. I'm ready for some grey. Maybe navy. Taupe even.

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Adventure is in the Eye of the Beholder

I'm a little behind in showing this off, but I figured I had better do so before the warm weather hit and it was no longer even remotely seasonally appropriate.

This fall I completed my most adventurous knit yet, not that you would ever know to look at it.

The yarn is a handspun worsted weight gradient set I made from various local wools. One of them I even processed from raw fleece. Handspun isn't a real adventure for me at this point in my woolly career though (unless you count the dark grey batts from the farm that shall not be named, which had dead ticks in it. THAT took bravery to spin), and It's all in boring natural colours.

The pattern, Roslyn by Veronik Avery, is a bottom up raglan and all in stockinette, with a few short forays into 2x2 ribbing. Easy peasy.

But it's a (short!) dress. That is to be worn without pants. With a big ol' turtleneck on the top. I was so worried that I'd finish it and put it on and look like a dumpy, sad, sepia toned stand-in for Velma from Scooby Doo. It has a turtleneck, and I've always hated how I look in turtlenecks. 

Don't google image search Velma with safe-search off by the way. Speaking of adventurous, she has some really... enthusiastic fans out there. 

But I loved the style on the model, and my husband assured me about a thousand times that I could pull it off. I had to trust that I could wear a slightly unusual knit with confidence, and that I could successfully get a good fit around my hips, which I have never knit for before. And then I had to trust that if I wore it outside, I wouldn't be laughed at, doomed to hide in mortification all day.

It turned out awesome. It's cozy and woolly and wonderful, and manages to look both incredibly hand made, and pretty damn chic. It's like wearing an (itchy) comfort blanket. Sometimes knitting outside your comfort zone really pays off.

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2017 Goals: Live for the Future

So I set my goals in January, but... busy happened. You know the feeling, I'm sure. I have so many life goals this year and relatively few crafting goals; we're entering into navel gazing territory, so proceed at your own risk.

Are you a fan of the Meyers Briggs personality test? I like it as an evidence based horoscope and as a springboard for discussion of the ways people are similar, or different. I test very strongly as an INTJ. Some say that makes me a cold, clever Sherlockian (Moriartian?) analyzer of people and situations, prioritizing facts and logic over emotions, traditions, and hierarchies. I'm cool with being a super-villain (or as I was labelled recently a "Very Dominant Woman"- it was supposed to be an insult!). In practice, though, I'm a reasonably nice person who lives in an extreme state of constant internal and external evaluation. Who am I, really? What do I actually want? What is really true? How could we do better? How will every single choice affect my long term plans and the success of my short term projects? What would I do in this situation if everybody could just STOP FEELING STUPID FEELINGS AND THINK CLEARLY INSTEAD? Deep breath...

... and so, in many ways, my goal setting reflects that thought process. I have heard so many times that to be truly happy one must live in the present, feeling the joy of the moment. My cold INTJ brain hates that. Joy may be experienced in the present, but it is crafted on the choices of the past, and I can't ignore that I am building future moments of joy--or sadness--with the actions I take right now. Experiences are cumulative, and I like living in the future. It's comforting. 

Family: Last year we faced both sickness and death in my family, and it made me realize that I need to focus more on making memories, active parenting, and meaningful moments.

  1. Go camping (or some other form of cheap, calm vacationing) on spring and summer weekends.
  2. Teach Rei age-appropriate cooking skills, and how to ride a bike.
  3. Invite friends and family into my home more often.
  4. Go camping with the in-laws this summer.
  5. Have my wedding ring remade (it's too big and I haven't worn it in nearly 2 years).

Home: Both the making and maintaining.

  1. Paint the house during warm season, clean carpets in spring and fall
  2. Keep up bullet-journal-style daily organization tools (I've been using Evernote for this rather than a physical journal; so far so good).
  3. Learn to use cast iron cooking tools effectively.
  4. Reduce environmental impact.

Health and Wealth: paired because they rhyme...

  1. Maintain health like a goddamned adult- weight control, good sleep habits, flu vaccinations, I probably need a tetanus booster, dentist appointments...
  2. Visit the eye doctor, and do what they say. It's time to accept that maybe the generalized blurriness I'm experiencing is me, and not the breakdown of reality.
  3. Bike rather than drive, whenever and wherever possible!
  4. Save approximately 35% of our gross income towards a house down payment. This is... not easy. Which is to say fucking difficult. Focus on reducing spending on clothing, food, and non-essentials.
  5. Improve the entire family's financial literacy. For me this means monitoring and improving credit reports, planning cash flow, and learning about investments and mortgages.
  6. Explore (soft) minimalism by reducing clutter and accumulation (physically and emotionally) and by focusing on what really matters to me.

Fun: The crafting related goals, at last!

  1. Reduce stash guilt by only purchasing supplies for planned, imminent projects.
  2. Focus on craftsmanship, detail, fit, and durability over speed and productivity. Quality over quantity is the name of the game here.
  3. Put more time into spinning, aiming for lovely, useful yarn.
  4. Weave a blanket from handspun.
  5. Return to knitting pattern design!

So there you have it! I think I went for a more-is-more goal setting approach this year, we'll see if that pans out. I hope you're having success in building your future, even if you prefer to live in the present like a normal, sensible person.

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