Deep Winter Pattern

Glamour Shots!

After what feels like an ETERNITY I was finally able to complete the editing and formatting for my latest pattern! The biggest hurdle in moving from designing-my-own-projects to Publishing-my-own-Designs has been the FORMATTING. Frijoles. SO MUCH FORMATTING. I’ve templated as much as I can. But just the line-by-line numbers adding up properly, centered, justified, and aligned; its like writing remediation reports from my days as an Environmental Consultant all over again.

I’m offering this pattern for FREE on Ravelry with the code “DeepWinter” from now until March 1st, 2020. I would love to see your finished projects on Ravelry or Instagram. Use the hashtag #deepwinter.

Swoon!

I love the knit spine, the alternating graphic blocks, and the 2-color bind-off!! I have worn it almost everyday since finishing it a couple weeks ago!

What Mom doesn’t like a Target run??

In addition to the day-to-day Momming stuff that I do, I’ve been working on a LOT of teaching samples. Yeah, I missed the deadline on 7/8 of them. Mostly because I didn’t have the ends woven in. I’m teaching again Wednesday night, so I can just bring the samples with me for display. Luckily for me, the deadline was mostly self-imposed. Later this week, I plan on getting back to active design work and productive knitting!

Missing: the Sun

Another soggy day of crap lighting, that is perfect weather for this cowl.

Seriously. February has been gray and rainy here. Which is only made worse by the fact that I haven’t been able to get good outdoor pictures to add to TWO patterns I have ready to launch. I guess it gives more time to make sure EVERYTHING IS EXTRA PERFECT. And more time to make a few color combination swatches!

I think I love it more than the original. Light Gray Baby Ull and the blue? Unidentified. Maybe Bugga? It was a friend’s de-stash a decade ago.

In order to stave away the restless feeling that comes with stagnant projects, I’ve been doing a bunch of little projects. So many little catch-all baskets/cozies. Yeah, I knit a cozy for a tiny plastic bin. I have a couple more to complete (including bringing up the sides of the black crochet mini-basket turned cozy)

A 2020 Studio Corner Project

In addition to whipping up the odd quick cozy, I’ve had some major start-itus. I want to START ALL THE PROJECTS. But I have so many in limbo that I feel stuck; unable to finish what I have on the hook and needles and unable to start new things (that will take longer than an hour). I did start a sport weight cotton baby blanket. Kinda. I’m two balls into the 10 I have of a discontinued yarn. Signs are not looking good to having enough yarn. At this rate, I will have a 35″x20″ blanket. Unacceptable. Having an open work is bad for babies: stuck fingers and toes. Contemplating ripping back for a forth time. Is it even worth it? Doomed before it really gets off the ground? As a plus, I got a LOT of use out of my Furls Odyssey Hook!

Furls Streamline Wood Hook Meets the Easiest Hat Ever

I’ve been hearing the hype around the Furls hooks for a while. To be honest, I have enough redundant hooks and spending money on hooks I already own seems a bit wasteful. I have a ton of the Clover soft touch ergonomic hooks in the sizes I use most, and they work just fine for me. I recommend them to new students who have an issue with the traditional handled hooks. I’ve been using them for years, and I really like them and have never had a complaint. Except that they didn’t come in sizes larger than J.

The Streamline in Camwood

BUUUUUUT they were running a sale. ANNNND I was in the mood to “treat yo self”!! SOOO I’m the proud owner of 3 new hooks in 3 different sizes and 3 different materials. I purchased a Streamline Wood (K), a Streamline Swirl Galaxy (I), and an Odessey (H). I’ve only worked with the wood on one project, (the others I’ve chained but nothing else) which is the one I will be discussing today.
Side note: SHIPPING WAS CRAZY FAST. I ordered my hooks on Monday, had them shipped via USPS (free with US orders over $49), they were on my doorstep FRIDAY. Of the same week. From literally across the country (Cali to Maryland). The order was fulfilled the same day.

What I love about the Streamline Wood

This hook is CRAZY LIGHT. It didn’t fatigue my hand after working with it for a few hours. The ergonomic bulb shape of the grip forced me to grip the hook a little different, but not in any way unpleasant. I like the grove depth, not too deep, not too shallow. I have larger hands, so the long length of the hook was really nice. Some hooks on the shortest end of the spectrum dig into the palm of my hand. The light Camwood was nice for working with a darker yarn in low light.

What I don’t love about the Streamline Wood

While this hook has significantly less drag than the plastic hook of the Clover Ergonomic, I found the drag to be quite noticeable. It isn’t ideal for working with a rustic spun yarn like Noro’s Silk Garden, and working with the yarn held double didn’t help. I found the combination of the yarn and hook to work REALLY slow. I usually use smoother yarns to crochet with, so I don’t anticipate this being a sticking point in the future. This hook also makes a bit of noise when working. Like a slight rasp; my Susan Bates Acrylic Crystalites set makes the same noise. Perhaps with use the noise will abate.

Overall thoughts regarding the Furls Streamline Wood Hook

I enjoy working with it. The lack of fatigue was pleasant. I don’t frequently work with size K/6.5mm hooks. Regardless of my perceived speed while using it, this is not a deal breaker. The context in which I crochet is not a race. I’m not a production crocheter. I worked a swatch with a smoother yarn (Knot House Yarns Lickety Split) and my speed was much improved. I usually work with smooth yarns, and the pairing of the smooth yarn and the Furls Streamline Wood Hook should be great.

The Easiest Hat Ever

I needed a project to test out my new hook, enter the Easiest Hat Ever. Its a crochet flat hat worked in bulky yarn with a K hook utilizing a combination of Single Crochet through the back loop and Slip Stitches through the back loop. Lots of sizes. Free pattern option on the website. Pretty straightforward. Pattern claims to finish in 1.5 hours.

The Easiest Hat Ever before seaming

I used Noro’s Silk Garden held double. I had a full ball and a couple of partial balls remaining from a previous project; I christened my project Leftovers: Reheated. I used what amounted to 2.5 skeins. I made the adult size. I didn’t bother with gauge. The fabric produced with my yarn of choice is rather dense. The single ply with the high silk content is not particularly stretchy OR slouchy. Knowing this I worked until I it fit around my head: 29 ridges. Even with the extra width, this took me about 4 distracted hours to construct. After completion, I decided I needed a pom-pom. It sticks straight up in the air and I feel that looks a bit silly. Yet pom-poms are not silly?? Besides, I’ve NEVER been one to shy away from something simply because it looked preposterous.

My New Crochet Hat!

Thoughts on the Easiest Hat Ever

I will make this again. But in a smooth, single color yarn with my new Furls Streamline Camwood Hook! My 4 year old son has requested one in grey. Which I’m all but CERTAIN he will not wear once completed (but imma make it anyway). Regardless of whether the hat takes 1.5 hours or 4 hours, it is an easy project that does not require much attention. A GREAT “mindless”, instant gratification project. Holding two worsted weight yarns together made it great for stash busting. Thanks, Make and Do Crew, for an easy to execute project!

Deep Winter

Not an accurate representation of the current temperature.

It is the first full week of February. Normally, we would be in the throws of some very cold weather, at least a couple snow storms with accumulation under our belt, and a desire to see spring. Yet the week started with unseasonably warm temperatures, and the only winter precipitation we’ve had has been slush. I’m still waiting for winter to show up so I can enjoy my extensive collection of knits, spring can wait until my wooly babies have seen some action! Winter simply cannot end without me getting some wear out of my newest project.

I started a new accessory design that reminds me of Crocus coming through the snow. Its perfect for that Project Hangover from the other day, its similar in some aspects (mitered squares, cowl, and garter) but different. Different weights, different appearance (graphic contrast), different length , more ends to weave in, a DIFFERENT border. Hair-of-the-dog, not the whole dog kind of thing. Believe me, my hands are thanking me for switching to size 10 circulars from 4 straights! And with a chunky as opposed to fingering weight, this project feels like its knitting itself!!!

I’m really loving the yarn. Let’s talk about it. My project is composed of three yarns. Both purples are Lickety Split Bulky from Knot House Yarns. Per the store’s website, Surprise Lily (the light purple) and Formal (the dark purple) are not part of the current color offerings in this base (but are available in their sock and mohair/silk bases). The yarn is 106 yards, plied, superwash wool with a soft, smooth, dense hand. It isn’t prone to snagging, splitting, shedding, or pilling when worked. The colors look almost solid upon first glance, but when viewed up close, the subtle kettle dye effect is noticeable but very even.
The off-white, from my deep stash, is an undyed Fate Bulky base from the now shuttered Serendipitious Ewe. Similar to the other yarn used, its a 3-ply superwash. The plies have a bit more loft. Overall, its a bit more matte in appearance, has a yardage of 120 yards, and not quite as silky to the touch. Since this yarn is no longer available there isn’t much to say. If I had two skeins of the Lickety Split Bulky in Fresh Start on hand when I started the project, the project would have turned out the same.

Spoiler!! In the home stretch!!

The pattern release is set for later this month (February 2020). The weather needs to cooperate for good pictures!

Suitable Yarn Replacements

If you wanted to work from stash or simply use a different yarn here are some suggestions (all links are non-affiliated):
Wool and Wool-Blends
Malabrigo Chunky
Cascade 128 Superwash
Berroco Vintage Chunky
Wool of the Andes Bulky
Non-Animal Fiber Options
Knit Picks Brava Bulky
Lion Brand Color Made Easy

Project Hangover

Spring, Sprang, Sprung Cowl. Waiting for a soak and some good pictures.

I recently finished up my Spring, Sprang, Sprung Cowl. I worked on it daily for a couple weeks. It was a design project, a mindless knitting project, and a stash-busting project. Now that its complete, I feel a bit lost on what to do next. Like a Project Hangover. I have a few WIPs to finish, but all of them require varying degrees of focus. I also have a backlog of design ideas to start, but I feel like I need a couple days before I dive headlong into something completely NEW.

I managed to find a stash-busting project for February. A massive crochet floor pillow/pouf out of my scrap bin. I started with THIS project, the Stash Busting Monster Pouf, from KT and the Squid. But the SC Spike with the increase rounds isn’t lining up (because I worked a row incorrectly back at the beginning). I started again, kinda, but with a SC top, which is proving to be a significantly smaller gauge. But I’m not sure this one in my vision either! I love the texture of the original Monster Pouf, but I don’t want to do all the counting and paying attention required. I’m half considering going up a couple of hook sizes and holding 3-4 strands together. I’m toying with the idea of doing some other circular texture stitch motifs that I’ve seen while perusing Granny Squares this week.

I’m toying with the idea of a crochet version of the Spring, Sprang, Sprung Cowl but the HDC miter is producing a kite shape. Ugh, I guess back to the drawing board… SC it is, I guess?

Oh, its uglier and more misshapen in person!

I could always just work on my class samples for OPEN HOUSE this month! Just 4 afghan squares (measuring 12×12 with Super Bulky yarn) and a (child-sized) sock (on size 4 needles) left!

Do you get project hangover? How do you get over it?

The Lost Knits File Part Three

Also: Finish it Friday!

Enjoy my no-make-up-need-a-shower selfie

I am goal-busting like a fiend over here! My goal to finish or frog *most* of my WIPs this year is off to a BANNER start. I’ve finished 3 old WIPs this year, and its ONLY JANUARY. The dubbed Frankentop was started 2012, the Estes Park Shawl started 2013/2014, and the (stained-glass) Sally Cardigan was from JULY of 2011. Seriously.

I fell in love with the Sally Cardigan the first time I saw the pattern. But it had a STEEK. Yeah, the idea of taking the scissors to dozens of hours of work was intimidating. I THOUGHT I was up for the challenge. I knit the yoke, separated the arms, and finished the body within the same month. When I started the sleeves, I hit trouble. The upper arm was SOOO small. I ripped out the too small sleeve and put the project down until I decided how to fix the issue.

Fast forward to December 2019. I decided to get some WIPs done as part of 2020 Challange, I’ve been calling it the Lost Knits File. It still contains 1 sweater, 1 tank, 3 shawls, a pair of socks, and a pair of mittens; all dating back from before 2015. I also have a handful of other hibernating WIPs from after 2015 that will be managed once my Lost Knits have been taken care of.

Stabilizing the steek

But I digress, in December I decided to scrap the sleeves completely. I picked-up my on hold sleeve stitches and did 10 rounds of 1×1 ribbing. Maryland never gets THAT cold. Many of my long-sleeve sweaters are too warm to wear anyway. The short sleeves are useful for me, and easy to FINISH FAST. I waited weeks to block the top in preparation for steeking. Mostly because I was still intimidated after all these years. I did hours of “research” (procrastination) regarding the BEST way to stabilize the garment.
First Attempt: Machine Sew: my feed dogs are too high. The fabric remained stationary and no stitches were made.
Second Attempt: Crochet: my tension was awful and the whole process was awkward. no.
Third Attempt: Hand Sew. I couldn’t see where I was stitching. I got annoyed with the running stitch. Pulled it out.
Fourth Attempt: Machine Sew: Decided to sew without dropping the foot. Awkward, because the sweater is a tube. I kept stopping to readjust the sweater. My lines are awful, but it was pretty fast.
Take away for next time: Lower the feed dogs (feed by hand), use the presser foot to keep it from moving about, use a lower tension/longer stitch.

Preparing for the cutting!

Everywhere suggests small sharp scissors. I have small. I have sharp. But not a pair that is both. I opted to use my SHARP fabric shears. I just used the tip to cut 1-3 stitches at a time. The whole cutting process took 5 minutes. It was the least painful part of the process.

My rogue stabilize line didn’t affect anything.

Picking up the stitches for the placket felt like forever. I decided that I didn’t want to to buttons, but will be opting for snaps or tiny hook and eye closures. Buttons never lay right on my sweaters, so I’m going to try something new. YAY. I didn’t follow the pattern for the placket completely. Mine are a bit wider. I did use the purl bump for a fold line, and I did sew the live stitch row to the pick up column.

The home stretch.

I love the sweater. You can make your own with this free pattern from Make. The Sally Cardigan is a good place to start with steeked colorwork. I will not shy away from steeks in the future, now that I have conquered my first. I feel like a REAL knitting expert after finishing this project. I’m going PRO!!

What technique are you nervous to try??

The Lost Knits File Series Part Two

Good-bye almost cardigan.

One of my 2020 crafting goals was to manage my stash and manage my WIPs. The WIPs are all Finish or Frog (rip out). I have a sizable amount of languishing projects, somewhere between 10 and 20. With about half on Ravelry currently (with the intent to own up to the rest in the next 11 months!).

RIP: Prepster Cardigan. Feb 6, 2009 – Jan 28, 2020

This week I set my sights on a project called the Prepster Cardigan. It was a make-it-up-as-I-go deal. I was going to do top-down set in sleeves, but I recall they were awful and I ripped those back immediately upon finishing the sleeve cap. The project has been hibernating since 2009. I started frogging it Sunday. Having wove in all the ends I wasn’t sure where I started/ended. So I started taking apart the fold under hem, assuming that was where I ended. It was a SLOG, at the end of EVERY row I needed to do something weird with the last stitch. This continued until about a third of the way up when I decided to try picking apart the shoulder seems and unravel from there. OH. WOW! What a difference it made, it was like unzipping a zipper. No weird tangles at the end of EVERY ROW, just a quick wind ROW AFTER ROW. I guess lesson learned; if it seems more difficult than it needs to be, I’m doing it wrong.

Now I have seven skeins of yarn to destash. The wool is a bit scratchy, and the ball band claims its perfect for felting. Perhaps a new throw pillow cover or a felted tote will be created in 2020?

The Sally Cardigan

Just waiting to be finished!

One of my main FINISH contenders for 2020. STEEKS coming soon!!! Stay tuned for Part Three of the Lost Knits File Series. Coming February 2020.

Fridays are for finishing, Saturday Edition.

But I really did finish stuff on Friday.

Complete with shite lighting!

I managed to be productive this week! I have been plugging away on my Spring, Sprang, Sprung Cowl (and formatting the pattern as I go to save time on the backend). I finished writting/formatting the pattern for the crochet triangular shawl for my class tomorrow; I have a couple of pictures I want to take of the three samples together (which I’ll do when I go in to teach a different class today). Yesterday I also finished seaming and weaving in the ends of my 2019 block-a-month KAL throw. We have the wrap-up class today (Jan 25), no time like the last minute!

Teaching 13 classes (12 blocks plus the stitch up) for a single project was fun. Over the course of the year I had some student rotation, but the same core of people for most of the year. As a teacher, it was particularly rewarding to see my student’s confidence in knitting grow right along with their skills! There were even a couple techniques that I had never bothered to try before: namely fisherman’s rib, bubble stitch, and faux cables. These new techniques were fun and easy. As a moderately experienced cable knitter, I still prefer the use of a cable needle to the faux cables!

My students produced some incredible blankets! Every one was different and beautiful. One student chose to work her’s in a single colorway- it is INCREDIBLE and inspired me to work my 2020 block-a-month KAL and CAL blankets in single colorways. Another student worked her’s in a muted neutral palette. Another worked her’s with mixed tweeds in slightly smaller yarn at a smaller gauge. All of my students work their blankets at a larger size than the 12-square size of 36″ x 48″- which I how I worked mine.

With yard stick for scale.

The patterns weren’t perfect: there were a number of typos and ambiguous instruction, some of the blocks don’t really fit cohesively into the whole of the blanket. I modified one of the KAL blocks to be easier to work AND have a pattern we could actually see with straight edges. These are some of the drawbacks to working patterns distributed by the corporate department of a big box craft store.

Today is our final 2019 wrap-up class. I’m bringing my ladies rosemary butter cookies, chocolates, and sparkling grape juice. Sticking through a 13 part project deserves a party!
I’m looking forward to seeing how the 2020 KAL shakes out, we started last week and I have a great group.

Revolution 39 Complete

39 years and 2 days. No make-up, gross hair selfie.

I have officially completed my 39th revolution around the sun. No I don’t feel any older, but today totally feels like Wednesday, because it is. My birthday wasn’t that big of a deal this year. Mostly because I’ve been sidetracked by designing, and blogging, and laundry. But Monday was a great day. I made a playlist for my Monday Kettlebells class, and the trainer designed an awesome workout around it. Strict Presses, Mixed Carries, Squat Cleans, Swings, V-ups. Some of my favorite things! The whole family went to lunch (federal holiday for the win!), we ran some errands. I made some modified Slutty Brownies from the Oh! Mrs. Tucker Blog.

Modified Slutty Brownies. Chocolate Chip Cookie Base, Pretzel Layer, Brownie Top. SO RICH. SO DECADENT.

Yeah, Slutty Brownies. If you have sensitive sensibilities or little kids, Scandalous Brownies make a good substituent name. We didn’t have Oreos or other cookies around, so I used the rest of a stale bag of pretzels in the middle. Next time, I’m using MORE PRETZELS and CARAMEL in the center.

This is a craft-centric blog, so onto the craftiness!
One of my 2020 goals (specifically January/February) was to get my partial skeins untangled and consolidated. I tackled the largest bin yesterday. It was mostly DK/Worsted/Aran with a couple bits of sock and chunky thrown in.

Before. Not the worst.

I also consolidated yarns into this container so its all together. I am using plastic sandwich bags to keep everything separated and labeled. Not the most environmentally friendly method, BUT I intend of reusing the bags repeatedly. AND when they are full of raggedy holes and busted out, they’ll be CLEAN bags and suitable for bag recycling. After a couple of hours of detangling, bagging, and labeling, I’m well on my way to meeting one of my 2020 organizing goals.

After: An improvement to be sure!

Organizing will perpetually be a work in progress. I’m considering breaking out chunky and fingering into their own separate area, and dividing my medium weight partials into acrylic and wool. I have a little more to consolidate before I start adding all of my full ball stash to Ravelry this year (the task seems SOOO daunting, even if its only about 200 balls of yarn).

How do you organize your stash and your remainders? I would love to see your solutions!

Super Slouch Saturday

Freezing Rain makes me want to stay indoors. Modeled low.

Yesterday afternoon I was lamenting my lack of finished items for the week. Then I got thinking… what is stopping me from creating and finishing something TODAY?? The answer was obviously nothing. I went through the run down of a quick project requirements. Small-ish finished size, available yarn, medium to large hook/needle size. But I also wanted it to be something new AND interesting. This hat checked off so many boxes: Small, had the yarn but no planned project, medium hook, I hadn’t designed a crochet hat yet, I loved this stitch pattern when I used it in a CAL last month.

I set off to create armed with an idea, a hook, some yarn, and my trusty pencil and paper for calculations. After a few false starts, I was off and crocheting like a flash (a frequently interrupted flash). With about 5 hours of stitching, my hat was complete on Friday evening around 11 pm (local time). I have dubbed the hat: Wintery Mix Slouch Hat. The yarn color: Sleet, the snowball looking pom-pom, and today’s forecast: sleet and freezing rain, were all name inspiration.

Fresh off the hook

The V-Puff Stitch is a total YARN PIG. I was pensive that I would need to use a second ball so it would be long enough. After 14 total pattern repeats, the hat has just a touch of slouch, which is EXACTLY what I was going for. Because of the severe gather at the crown, I wouldn’t work this up as a shorter beanie. I also highly recommend the pom-pom; it adds enough weight to the hat that it slouches and doesn’t stick up like a sad-elf toque. This hat is moderately warm I was able to wear it around the house for a while without overheating. Winter Precipitation isn’t a hat I would reach for on a frigid, windy day. Unless, of course, you want to put a fleece liner in it, I won’t stop you and would love to see how that works out. I would say this hat is more for style than functionality.

Its hard to see the giant pom-pom when shot head on.

I had been wanting to try Lion Brand Yarn’s Re-Tweed for some time, and I caught a good sale. I like the yarn. It is firm, doesn’t split, and has amazing stitch definition. I wouldn’t call it soft, but against the skin it is not itchy. I like the slightly rustic feel, the structure, and the eco-conscious bend. This hat was the right application, I wanted slouch without much drape. If you want a finished product with a lot of drape, this may not be the right yarn for you.

As far as pattern release goes: hopefully this week! I have a test-crochet out on it now. When its finished and any errata is taken care of it will be available on Ravelry for download. EDIT: The pattern is released and is available HERE!!

Modeled High

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