Sunday, September 22, 2013

Lonely Tree Shawl

I still remember the first time I went to the Stitches West Knitter's convention. I had been knitting for about a year and I proudly wore my stockinette stitch scarf that curled like a mofo! My friend and I walked around like deer in headlights, equal parts mesmerized and terrified. At one point she grabbed me and pointed to a lady saying "WHAT is she doing?". Turns out she was just knitting a pair of socks on teeny tiny double points and we had Never. Seen.THAT. Before !

Flash forward 10 years. I just booked my class for Stitches West this year on Steeking! WHAT?! I'm paying someone to teach me how to cut up my knitting. Yes, yes I am and I am nerdily excited about it. The same friend who went with me to my first Stitches will fly out from CO to go with me again this time. This will make 3 years in a row, and hopefully is cementing a regular tradition. One of the big differences these last few years is that we've both been wearing hand knit sweaters, NICE hand knit sweaters with cables and lace and other fiddly techniques we've learned over the years. We've also worn our hand knit socks! Thanks to that lady who put the seed in our brains 10 years ago!

I'm reminded of this feeling of newness a lot lately. When I can knit and talk at the same time without making mistakes, or more importantly that I can FEEL  myself making mistakes even when I'm not looking at my knitting. But lately it was the lace charts that brought me to the realization, the true slap in the face realization , that I'm not a new knitter any more. I have experience and knowledge that makes every new project do-able. Case in point - The Lonely Tree shawl:

10 years ago I would have looked at this pattern and sighed thinking how lovely it was before putting it down and walking away. The charts alone, would have made me RUN. Mind you, these charts were pretty simple and easy to follow, but 'BB the new knitter' would have talked herself out of it in a heartbeat!

She wouldn't have had faith that her fingers could make these stitches, these loops of yarn turn into these amazing leaves. One mistake or need to TINK would have sent her to another project. I know it seems a simple thing, and maybe a silly thing to people who don't knit, but this project empowered me. I now know I can knit anything I want to. It doesn't mean there will never be another stockinette stitch project in my life, it just means, I finally have faith in my abilities to tackle the complex and will be doing it more often! 

Steeking, here I come!

Friday, September 20, 2013

This Moment

A Friday ritual. A single photo- no words- capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you are inspired to do the same leave a link to your "moment" in the comments for all to find and see.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Chaos of crafting

My crafting space is small, just an "L" shape desk, and it's in the middle of the house. Right in the family room, which is connected to the dining room and kitchen. While this location is fantastic for being able to do a few things at once, multitasking anyone?! It also means that the chaos that ensues can sometimes be overwhelming! My desk can be a drop zone for everyones stuff.

Yesterday morning as I enjoyed my cup of coffee while scrolling through Bloglovin, I kept getting annoyed that there was no space to move. The entire desktop was covered with stuff! Look at this, it's crazy, especially since I'm normally a pretty organized person!

Ok, let's see what's on there... my sewing machine is surrounded by stuff! I couldn't use it unless I re-located all this crap. In front of it are two skeins of yarn for a project my cousin asked if I could make. Behind it is a half finished sewing project, a project that needs mending and a half drawn pattern for a new item I hope to be able to make. Behind that the blue magazine holder is my attempt at organizing patterns being used.. ha ha it's working GREAT, don't ya think?

Then there's my son's chore chart that I had to check off, but before I could do that I had to move stuff out of the way to make room, there's a random gift card laying almost on top of my mouse. What's up with that?!

On the cutting mat, which is clearly useless under all that clutter, we have school papers, yarn catalogs, cookbooks and sewing pattern books. To top it all off is the My Lowes application the cashier wouldn't let me leave the store without! UGH. The only thing missing is one of my son's transformers, which I had already moved to HIS desk before snapping the photo!

I spent the morning after school drop off, rearranging the clutter. I pulled out that half finished project and FINISHED IT! Amazing how it only took me about 45 minutes  to get this:

Another pair of Oliver and S cargo pants without the cargo pockets. The first pair I made were awesome, but since my son never used the cargo pockets and he doesn't ever wear a belt, I simplified the second pair and made them without those two details. I LOVED the way they looked, and they get worn a ton. This navy pair is my third pair made with these modifications. On this pair I modified further by lengthening the rise by about an inch and lengthening the pant length by about an inch.

My favorite detail is the contrasting waistband fabric:

Anyhow, long story short, if I would just finish things and then put them where they belong, my desk would be much cleaner. Getting it cleaned off and functioning again yesterday only took me a little over an hour, including sewing time! What was I waiting for?

Does your crafting space draw clutter to it like mine? I'd love to hear!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Blocking time !

I cast off my Lonely Tree Shawl last night. I must have been knitting  tighter than the pattern called for since I made it through all 3 charts and a bunch of extra garter rows on only 3 balls of yarn. I thought for sure I'd use all 4. Oh well, I'm going to block it as aggressively as it will let me and we'll see what kind of size I end up with.

Here's a photo of it pre-blocking. It's a pretty small shape only 34 x16 roughly. I love the way the leaves scrunch up on one another and almost look like scales instead of leaves. I'll have to look around to see if there's actually a stitch pattern that looks like this even after blocking.

After this photo was taken, the shawl went right into the washer that was filled with COLD water and some Soak! I love this stuff. It softens up almost any wool and really helps the fibers relax. I almost always block my knits in the washer now that we have a top loader again. I fill it up on the delicate cycle then stop it. Once 15 minutes have passed I turn it onto the spin cycle and when it's done the knit is very dry without being felted. I usually don't even need to use any towels to dry it off.  It works great. I'd only caution you to make sure you shut off the washer after it fills with water, and then manually turn it to spin cycle. Otherwise if you forget and it goes through the whole wash cycle it might start to felt your knit and that would be sad for everyone!

Just out of the soak it had already grown to 46 x 18! YAY! Now it's time to test out that blocking board I showed you how to make the other day.

It looks like I need to invest in some blocking wires if I'm going to keep knitting lace shawls. I used just about every pin in my arsenal and there's nothing straight about that top edge. Good thing it won't really matter once it's being worn.  Since the fan was already out I decided to set it up to help expedite the drying time. It is amazing the difference a little air movement can make, especially on such an open knit.

I've blocked this to it's max at a whopping 57 x 28. This is a pretty huge increase from it's original size and I think it will be quite wearable this way.

This was a super enjoyable knit for me. I didn't feel stressed or annoyed with it while knitting. I enjoyed knitting the lace from the charts and I think I only see one big mistake in the lace, which doesn't even bother me. YAY! This was the first lace project I've been able to knit while watching TV! I was even able to bring it to a party and to the playground and was able to knit while talking with friends. AWESOME!

Friday, September 13, 2013

I made a blocking board!

So I've always wanted a place to safely block my knits. The bed or the carpet, or a layer of garbage bags on the basement floor have all worked, but not as efficiently as I'd like. The other day I read Jane Richmond's post on luvinthemommyhood and it got my brain working. I did a little online research and was about to run out to buy some foam core when I remembered my husband had this stuff in a corner of the garage:

I proceeded to confiscate it for my needs. and then set out to see what I had in my stash of stuff that I could use to turn it into something great. 

You will need:

One sheet of this Styrofoam or two sheets of foam core (or whatever size you require)
Packing tape
a box cutter or a bread knife
2 yards (approx) of fabric I used a cheapo 1 inch check from Joann's

I started by cutting down the sheets to my desired size, which was 45 inches long by the width of the board. (this ended up being too big to cover with the width of my fabric so I cut it down more later)

Then I taped them together with the packing tape. The tongue and groove aspect of this insulation made it super easy to get them snug. 

this pic was before I cut a little more off

Once I had the shape I wanted, I layed out the fabric (which had been pre-washed) and basically eyeballed it square on the board. Then I used my T-pins to pin it in place so I could flip the board over.

 This worked reasonably well. It kept the fabric from shifting too terribly, but you'll see later, that it's not perfect!  Once it was flipped onto the coffee table,  I wrapped the fabric around to the back as tightly as I could and taped it in place. I used my son's toy spatula to smooth the tape down and make sure it was really stuck.

And that was that. It's not fancy, but it was pretty cheap. I don't know what my husband paid for the foam board but I know it wasn't much. The fabric was around $6 and the packing tape we had laying around.  I won't feel terrible when it wears out and I have to do it again, because I know I can reuse the fabric.

I can't wait to use this thing to pin out my shawl, which I hope will be completed soon! YAY!

So I thank Jane Richmond for the kick she gave me to make this, even though her blocking screens look much more amazing and longer lasting than this thing.

Friday, September 6, 2013

This moment

A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Work In Progress Wednesday

Hello all, it's Wednesday again. I am constantly floored by how quickly the time flies by.

Still plugging away on Paulie! I love it and can't wait for it to be finished. I tried it on when it looked like this.

And decided it was time for a little waist shaping. Now that I've done the decreases I just need to knit a few more rows before beginning the increases. Then it will be garter stitch and casting off to look forward to. I have this feeling that the sleeves will take FOREVER, but I'm determined for this to be my  go to sweater this fall!

As for my Lonely Tree shawl, it's actually moving along at a nice clip. I was worried the charts would slow me down, but I think I may have finally hit my chart reading stride! WOOT! There have been a few mess-ups but I've just plugged right on through them and I'm pleased with how it's looking. I know this photo just looks like a wrinkled mess, but the leaves are quite lovely.

I'm about halfway through chart B and am glad I decided to put a life line (that's that blue yarn in there) in there because you never know when a major screw up could require some ripping!

All in all some good progress I think. Wish me luck on those fingering weight sleeves, I'm going to need it!