I’m thinking about #NAKNISWEMO2016 already

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I’m one of those people who gets annoyed at seeing Christmas decorations come out right after Halloween.  I like my holidays low key and in discrete, small chunks.

But uncharacteristically, I’m getting excited about a holiday early this year. A knitting holiday — NAKNISWEMO: National Knit a Sweater Month.

It all started when the Brooklyn Tweed Fall 2016 collection came out earlier this week.  I am in love with the men’s sweaters in this collection. Specifically:

Auster (His) by Michele Wang

A gloriously cabled body and simple sleeves. A little challenge. But the sleeves give me a bit of a break with something relatively easy. Those look like saddle shoulders. I really enjoy sewing together sweaters with this kind of shoulder. Much easier than set-in sleeves.

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Image as seen on Ravelry: 

Mohr (His) by Norah Gaughan

This one has diamond cables that look like so much fun to knit, combined with an all-over texture that extends down the sleeves. This one features drop shoulders, so once again I would get out of doing  a set-in sleeve (yay!).

One of these two sweaters is definitely going to be my NaKniSweMo2016 project. I just can’t choose which one. I have a month and a half to figure it out and acquire my yarn.

Any one else want to start celebrating/obsessing early with me?

Spinning woolen like it’s worsted

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Tried a new experiment this week. I had a bunch of hand carded Corriedale left over from a previous spinning project. I decided to try spinning it worsted.

I know, I know. Why go to all that effort to card it by hand only to ruin it by spinning it the wrong way?

I don’t think I ruined it.

Right now a problem I have with my worsted spinning is keeping it from getting too dense. Sometimes a gal wants to knit a hat that won’t drown her if she falls into the lake.

I also wanted to see how spinning the same prepared fiber would behave with this other technique. Really see it, not just believe in the physics of it.

Here are my results.

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Plump but not poofy three ply. Sturdy but not heavy. I wouldn’t knit socks with it. But a sweater would work. And in the aforementioned lake scenario I probably wouldn’t drown.

The Stupid Button Band Betrayed Me

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It’s hard to conceal my ire. I was so proud of how this Reverb cardigan was turning out. The purple yarn was lovely. The pattern was easy to follow. I knew the cardigan would look super-hip on, and would go with most of my wardrobe. But the button band betrayed me.

I don’t have any experience with button bands. So far, I’ve managed to avoid knitting cardigans that require buttons. I pretended that I preferred the open look. But the truth is, I was afraid of the button band. And now I know I was right. Button bands are pure evil.

  • Button bands stretch unpredictably and throw off your measurements. 4 inches between button holes. Oops, looks like you have 5. 5 is ok right?
  • Button bands lull you into thinking five buttons will do…until you try on the cardigan and realize you really need seven.
  • Button bands keep you from appreciating your brand new very pretty cardigan because something is just slightly “off”.
  • Button bands are so hard to satisfy. Put the button too far to one side, and the whole thing stretches like a scallop. Which would be nice if that was something I wanted. An artistic statement, prehaps. But it’s NOT.
  • Button bands wait until you have the cardigan all blocked, with the ends woven in, to speak up and tell you something is wrong.
  • Button bands remind you that your stomach is not as flat and firm as your dress dummy’s stomach. They’re rude little buggers.

Stupid riggin’, friggin’ button band.

Here’s the cardigan. You can see the issues I’m talking about.

I guess it’s time to remove the button bands, reknit them, and do the finishing all over again.

But not now. Not today. Today I shake my fist at the universe.

Tomorrow I’ll take apart my cardigan.

A Cozy New Sweater Just in Time for Autumn

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It’s going to be 80 in southern Minnesota today. The leaves are still firmly attached to the trees and stubbornly green. But in a few weeks all of that is going to change and I’m going to be ready.

Over Labor Day weekend, I finally finished weaving in the ends on my Plum Island Pullover.  It’s a simple, gansey style sweater, with a slouchy, comfortable shape. The pattern is by Alison Green.

The decided to knit this sweater during one of those rare moments of yarn-related serendipity. I had a pattern I wanted to knit and exactly the right yarn in my stash, the right yardage and everything.  How often does that happen?

I used Imperial Yarns Columbia in the Indigo Heather colorway.

 

 

5 Truisms About Life That Aren’t True About Knitting

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1. In life there are no do-overs. But there are in knitting. All the time! I started over on this Evenstar shawl five freaking times.  And every few rows I find something that requires me to tink back a bit. I do this more with lace than with any other type of knitting. Is lace somehow the antithesis of life?

My Evenstar. Oh so many stitches to go.

2. Never tell your problems to anyone…20% don’t care and the other 80% are glad you have them. The person who said this never tried to bring their dropped stitches or messed up cables to my knitting group. Always bring your knitting problems to knitting group…20% can help you fix them and the other 80% are glad you asked because they have the same problem.

3. Enjoy your own life without comparing with that of another.  I derive great enjoyment comparing and sharing my knitting with others.  4 million+ other Ravelry users agree.

 

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4. Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage. I find that my knitting shrinks or expands in unpredictable ways. Because gauge swatches lie!  It’s got nothing to do with courage and everything to do with the gremlins who come out at night and stretch my sweater arms out of shape.

5. Life is wasted on the living.  Try inserting “knitting” in place of “life” and you get a very creepy statement. All I can think of is my lovely knitting projects getting buried underground and full of rot and maggots. Yech!  When I die, pass my sweaters out to living people who can still appreciate them. Vampires don’t count (they don’t get cold).

 

Happy knitting, everyone. Remember not to take life/your knitting too seriously.

That’s one truism I’ll keep.


Yarnover Recap in Photos

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Last weekend, Mom and I made the joyful trek up to Yarnover.

We shopped.

Adorable felted ride-em horsies

Adorable felted ride-em horsies

We took a Fearless Two Color Mittens Class from Mary Scott Huff. Mary started out the class with a simple exercise in stranded color work for those who needed a review  or for those (like me) who had never tried it at all. The “fearless” aspect of this class was definitely for me. I took this class so I could conquer my personal “Dr. Strangelove” in knitting (i.e., “How I learned to stop worrying love the [fill in knitting-related fear]”).

Mary's a live wire and very entertaining.

Mary’s a live wire and very entertaining.

Here's my first attempt at Norwegian stranded color work. A few rows later, I learned why it's so important to keep your floats loose. This sucker was puckered.

Here’s my first attempt at Norwegian stranded color work. A few rows later, I learned why it’s so important to keep your floats loose. This sucker was puckered.

Later on, Mary passed out her Nordica pattern for us to try. Here was my first try:

I made it about halfway through the mitten when I finally had to acknowledge that I was knitting WAY too loosely. In my effort to keep my floats loose I was knitting everything like rubber-girl.  So I ripped back.

I made it about halfway through the mitten when I finally had to acknowledge that I was knitting WAY too loosely. In my effort to keep my floats loose I was knitting everything like rubber-girl. So I ripped back.

I tried again with firmer tension and smaller needles and got this:

Mitten #1, minus the thumb. It fits. Huzzah!

Mitten #1, minus the thumb. It fits. Huzzah!

 

We took a break at lunch to wolf down some food and chat with friends from my local knitting group. Everyone talked about their morning classes and the classes they were planning to take in the afternoon. I found myself wishing I could undergo a few rounds of cellular mitosis right then and there so that I could take everyone else’s classes as well as my own.

In the afternoon, Mom and I also took a Spinning and Plying Cabled Yarns class with Francine Ruiter. My first-time results were semi-successful.

Francine getting things started. We're all itching to spin.

Francine getting things started. We’re all itching to spin.

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My cabled yarn on the bobbin.

Mom working on her singles. She's shy, so you only get to see her cute smile.

Mom working on her singles. She’s internet-shy, so you only get to see her cute smile.

My cabled yarn finished. If you look closely, there are certain sections of it that seem to have the visual characteristics of a cabled yarn. But not all. Sigh. Must practice.

My cabled yarn finished. If you look closely, there are certain sections of it that seem to have the visual characteristics of a cabled yarn. But not all. Sigh. Must practice.

I left Yarnover feeling jazzed about the new techniques I’d learned, particularly the Norwegian stranded color work.

I think my Ravelry favorites are about to be flooded with color work projects.

Win a Color Affection Shawl and Benefit Your Local Animal Shelter

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There’s a shelter pet out there who wants to meet you

I know because I have two shelter cats at home. They cuddle with me when I have a cold, defend our domain from crows and ladybugs, and in general do everything they can to be members of the pride.

Orion, a shy, cuddle-monkey we adopted from Paws and Claws three years ago.

Orion, a shy cuddle-monkey we adopted from Paws and Claws three years ago.

I love pet adoption and I love animals. But I can’t take them all home, and neither can you. That’s why animal shelters, like my local Paws and Claws animal shelter, are so important. They have the will and the means to do what no individual can accomplish. They make it their mission to:

  • Rescue and care for lost or abandoned animals
  • Seek adoptive homes
  • Promote responsible companion animal care.

They make the world a better place.

Enter to win this hand-knitted shawl by making a donation to your local animal shelter

I decided I wanted to do something to give back to my local animal shelter through my love of knitting. And I wanted to give other people a chance to take part to help make a greater impact.

So I decided to knit a shawl. And I’m offering that shawl in a prize drawing for people who choose to join me in supporting animal shelters.

About the shawl

This colorful, stylish shawl was hand-knitted by me using a combination of local fibers:

Shawl draped

shawl on bushes

The pattern is Color Affection by Veera Välimäki. The shawl took approximately 20-30 hours to knit. It would make a gorgeous accessory for you, or for someone special in your life.

How to enter the shawl drawing

1) Make a donation to your local animal shelter. Here’s a link to my local Paws and Claws animal shelter donation page.

2) Leave a comment. Come back to this blog post and leave a comment telling me:

  • You made a donation to an animal shelter.  You don’t have to tell me how much.
  • Tell me about the intended recipient of the shawl (Will it be for you? You mom? Your dentist?). Alternatively, tell me a cute pet story.

I’m doing this on the honor system, however I reserve the right to disqualify any entry that doesn’t follow the rules or that I deem “fishy.”

Entries will be accepted April 8-May 6, 2014.  There will be one entry per person, no matter how much you choose to donate. The winner will be drawn randomly using a random number generator. I will contact the winner via email and will announce the winner here on this blog the week of May 6, 2014.

This is a prize drawing where everybody wins

Even if you don’t win the shawl, you’ll still win because you donated money that will help companion animals in need. Animals like:

  • Good-Time Charlie, who wants to run, and jump, and play, and lick your face, all at once.
  • Harley, a charming girl who enjoys drinking from the faucet

Your entry and donation will make a difference, no matter what.

Other ways you can help

If you don’t wish to participate in the drawing, you can still contribute to this campaign. Tell your friends. Share a link on Facebook.

Good-time Charlie, a dog who was just adopted at Paws and Claws.

Good-time Charlie, a dog who was just adopted at Paws and Claws.

Woopi, a cat currently available for adoption at Paws and Claws (as of 4/3/14)

Woopi, a cat currently available for adoption at Paws and Claws (as of 4/3/14)

And if you have animal companions at home, give them a scritch for me.