This is mostly a knitting blog. Sometimes pictures of things I've made, sometimes not. I'm a guy who knits, I usually attend a men's stitch 'n' bitch on Monday nights, and I prefer natural fibres to artificial ones. I have a love-hate relationship with bamboo yarns: I love what they can do and how they look, I hate how they are made. I've been knitting since about 2003, though I really didn't get into it until 2005, while convelescing with a broken leg. I must have discovered something good, 'cause I'm still knitting years later.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Finished Object Friday

So after writing an entire blog post (with pictures!), my computer decided to update everything and I lost what I had written. Since I wrote it Thursday morning, I have absolutely no memory of what I wrote (except that it was finished objects, and I was going to post it on Friday, as a Finished Objects Friday kind of post, as you do).

So, let's see. I finished Brandon's scarves, both of them. The first, in Mad Tosh DK, is Scarlet!

The second Irish Hiking Scarf to be finished. Just three more to go!

When I was in New Orleans, I bought some Malabrigo Rasta, which Brandon liked. For his wardrobe of scarves. Yes, I think I need to teach him how to knit. This knit up quickly, fat yarn on fat needles. A simple pattern of 2 rows of garter, 2 rows of 1x1 rib, repeat ad nauseum.
It's thick, it's heavy, it'll keep his southern self warm in our New England winters.

What's on the needles now, I hear you ask? What? You didn't ask? Cheeky. I'll tell you anyway. One honey cowl in tussah silk, that right now looks like death on a cracker. Needs a few more rows before it looks like anything a-tall. And I took that beautiful merino/silk yarn that I got in Provincetown at the Farmers' Market and am working a feather-and-fan pattern. I've done only three iterations of the pattern so far, so it looks worse than death on a cracker. Tonight I'll wind the Malabrigo Rios, in Ravelry Red, for my nephew's Irish Hiking Scarf. I like having three projects going at a time. Of course, it means I make no discernible progress on them a-tall, but it makes me feel industrious to have them going. As well, I sometimes feel overwhelmed and can't decide which one to knit at a given time, so I'll be sitting, surrounded by unfinished projects, unable to make up my mind which to work on. Such is the fate of the non-monogamous knitter.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Feeling Overwhelmed

I finished a project yesterday morning. Brandon's Irish Hiking Scarf in Mad Tosh Scarlet. It looks good, and I just need to block it. So I needed to cast on another project. I want to make a cabled scarf for Julie, and I have this wonderful handspun/hand dyed purple yarn, so after perusing Ravelry, found a cable scarf pattern, Palindrome, that shows cables on both sides. I'm not sure if this is the right yarn for it, but I'm going to keep knitting for a while. I love the IHS, but it has a wrong side that is just not pretty. If I can find something that looks good with cables on both sides, I'll be happy.
This was taken right before I finished it. The ends are all woven in, and it's ready to block.

This morning I didn't want to work on any of the projects I've already started. I think I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by what I want to accomplish by the end of the year. Which meant that I simply had to start a new project, and start it NOW! I couldn't find the yarn I wanted, a deep black undyed alpaca, but I did find the yarn I just got in New Orleans! Fat yarn! Fat needles! Things knit up so fast with that combination. So I cast on a few stitches and knit 10 rows. I am knitting it with beautiful needles that were made by my friend Joe. Joe is married to my friend Sue, whom I've known since I was 15, back in high school. I officiated at their wedding, and Sue's oldest is my god-daughter. I officiated at her wedding, too. These needles, size US 13, are wooden, smooth, and warm to the touch. I love using them. I felt quite overwhelmed this morning, knitting something for someone I love, using tools made by someone I love. I almost never use straight needles these days, preferring circulars for just about everything, but it is somehow very fitting that these needles are making this particular gift.

Malabrigo Rasta yarn on home-made needles

Something that has made me laugh today is the way a friend stores is yarn from past projects.
Hollow glass heads make wonderful places to store yarn

Friday, September 5, 2014

Knitting at Southern Decadence

While I was in New Orleans, two new friends asked if I would teach them to knit. So I brought one of them down to the Quarter Stitch, and we perused yarn. Now anyone who knows me knows that I am a self proclaimed yarn snob, and I prefer the high end yarns. So we looked at Malabrigo Rios, and a few others. They settled on Malabrigo worsted. JP likes orange, and got glazed carrot. Mike likes pink and got something that I cannot remember now. But it was PINK!
This is the glazed carrot that JP fancied.

This is the pink that Mike fancied.

Using the long-tail cast on, I put 20 stitches on each needle. I showed them the basic knit stitch, and warned how not to add stitches on the end by knitting the loose stitch below. They caught on fairly quickly. JP was trying to knit loosely, and Mike's endeavour reminded me of my own first scarf: tight to the point of being able to stand up by itself. There were some obvious screw ups (who doesn't make some mistakes the first time they knit something?) but by and large, the lads got it. Later I showed JP how to purl, and to make stockinette. We kept a three stitch border of garter on each side, to keep it from curling, but he got the purl stitch pretty quickly. I warned him about yarn-overs, and he liked the look and feel of the stockinette. He did have, however,  29 stitches on his needles the last time I saw his work, but since they live in California, I reckon some other teacher is going to have to correct JP's tendency to unwittingly increase his scarf.

JP hard at work.

Mike hard at work.

While the lads were hard at work on their garter rows, I had frogged a project, and was intent on casting on 220 stitches, sans stitch markers to mark every 25 stitches. It was heavy going, since I was also trying to keep an eye on the newbies. I think they got it, and they have since discovered that one can learn knitting techniques on YouTube. I hope to see them again, and I hope that knitting takes with them.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Quarter Stitch, Or, Yarn Bought on Vacation Does Not Count Against One's Yarn Diet

I was in New Orleans for a few days, and if it's New Orleans, then it must be The Quarter Stitch!

The good news is that they're going to be putting up a website soon. Really soon. The photographer was there while I was perusing the yarns. And of course, perusing means buying!

First, they always wrap it so prettily. Curled ribbons and confetti hearts.

Malabrigo Rasta, colourway is Solis. Brandon said he wants a wardrobe of scarves, and chose this. I am really going to have to teach him how to knit if he wants a wardrobe of scarves.

Malabrigo Mecha, colourway hojas. I want to make cowls for my cousins Janice and Claudia, and will buy some matching colours from my local stores. But this stuff rocks!

Finally, some Welsh yarn. Colinette, colourway Thunder. It's pure wool, and I'm not sure what I'll do with  it, but it's pretty and will make someone a wonderful. . . something.

I've cast on the fifth Honey Cowl, this is tussah silk from The Artful Ewe. It's knitting up very prettily, though I think I should have gone up a size for the needles. Even so, I'm pleased.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Stash Busting or. . . Bust!

Some time back I found some beautiful undyed black alpaca yarn in my stash. I thought it would make a beautiful scarf for the husband of a friend of mine. I don't know if he wears scarves, and I've never seen him in the other one I made for him, but I have made things for everyone in our little circle of friends now, and have not made anything else for him (of course, he has a wife who knits). I did not, however, have enough yarn to make the scarf I wanted to make. Serendipitously, there was a business card with the yarn, from the woman who owned the alpaca whence came the yarn. I called her and left a message, and she got back to me that she would look and see if she had anymore of that beautiful alpaca yarn.

I got a text from her today, she has another 250 yards (I only need about 120), and if there is extra, I'm sure I could eke out a hat. I love that she was able take the time to look for this yarn for me. The question remains, however, if I am busting my stash, and the first two skeins I have are stash, but the last skein is new, does this count as stash busting?

If I can score this yarn, it will become part of the Holiday Knitting Madness, and become one of the Irish Hiking Scarves I'm planning to make. Thus far:
Jayson: Tosh DK, fathom, knitted (stash yarn)
Brandon: Tosh DK, scarlet, on the needles, more than halfway completed
Peter: Malabrigo, red, yarn acquired
Julie: Handspun/hand-dyed, purple, yarn acquired
Michela: Tosh DK, Cousteau, stash yarn
John: Alpaca, black, half stash yarn, half to be acquired.

Can I get four-and-a-half Irish Hiking Scarves done in a month? I don't know, but I'm going to try. I'm only afraid I'll get terribly bored with the pattern after a while.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Rhinebeck and Where I Am Now

I am a wicked blogger (and I mean that in its original sense, not its Boston sense). I was doing so well keeping up with getting my two entries a month. Ah, well. The well laid plans of mice an men oft gang awry.

My friend Jay mentioned to me the other day that he has found us a place to stay for Rhinebeck. We'll be staying with a friend of his and get to see the sheep and wool festival both Saturday and Sunday. This means we'll be able to see more demonstrations than we did the last time we went. Spinning, weaving, and maybe even dog trials! Wot larks! Of course I've started to put aside some money, just in case there is yarn for me to buy. Because yarn bought at sheep and wool festivals doesn't count when you're on a yarn diet.

The needles: What's on 'em? Well, I'm still working feverishly on Honey Cowl #4. And Irish Hiking Scarf #2. And the sweater. And the lace. And another scarf.

My plan of attack is thus:
August: Finish Honey Cowl #4.
September: Finish IHS #2, start IHSs #s 3, 4, 5, & 6.
October: Finish sweater (at home project), and make simple scarves 1 & 2 (knit night projects).
November: Finish Milanese Loop Cowls, or come up with other projects instead for those recipients.
December: Honey Cowls 5 & 6.
January: Drink heavily.

OK, I don't really drink all that much.

However, this is going to be a stash busting four months! IHSs 3-5 are all stash! Honey Cowls 5 & 6 are stash! The sweater yarn, purchased a year ago for this project might as well be considered stash, so the sweater is stash! Woohoo! I'm gonna bust that stash so much!

Well, not really. I'll barely make a dent.


Monday, August 4, 2014

Mid Year (sort of) Review

Okay, so now that we've got a bit more than half the year behind us (149 days left til New Year's!), I thought I'd assess where I am in my goals for the year. I had said that I wanted to do four things this year:

  1. Write at least two blog posts per week
  2. Knit my stash
  3. Finish up some long UFO projects
  4. Not buy as much yarn
I think I have succeeded in two of these. I have been pretty good about writing twice each week. I've missed here and there, and when I was on vacation in May, I think I missed that week. But by and large, I've been pretty good about the writing thing.

I have been trying to knit my stash. Of the four honey cowls I've made so far, three of them were from stash yarn. The Irish Hiking Scarf in Tosh's fathom colourway was stash yarn. And several of the projects I've got planned for the rest of the year will be from stash yarn. 

I have not really done much work on UFOs. I did a couple at the beginning of the year, finished some old scarves and such, but the rest of the ones I wanted to work on have fallen to the wayside of holiday knitting. So both the blue and the brown sweaters are languishing in a bin. The two Milanese Loop cowls are sitting in bags next to my bed, imploring me to work on them. Maybe they will be my September project. Or not.

Buying yarn. I've actually curtailed my yarn buying, but not to the extent that I had hoped. I have not gone an entire month without buying yarn, but I will admit, in July I only bought the yarn from the farmer's market in Provincetown while I was on vacation. At least I think so. I didn't buy any yarn at the Cascade sale at the Stitch House, even though I wanted to. However, they have cotton on 40% sale this month, and I'm thinking of next year's holiday projects, and they involve a lot of cotton. I should probably stock up, since I don't keep a lot of cotton in my stash (for the simple reason that I don't like knitting with cotton).

So I'm at 50% of my stated goals. Getting those blog posts out, and knitting my stash. I need to start to curtail the yarn buying. People are talking about interventions, and I don't think they're joking any more. And I need to finish up some projects. I would like to finish my blue sweater. Maybe that will be my post holiday goal, since I'll have a week between Christmas and New Year's to work on it (all I need to do is pick up stitches to make the sleeves, and block it). I can make two sleeves in a week, can't I. Of course I can!

So for the rest of the year, I have to channel dear Princess Victoria, and swear that I Will Be Good and not buy (too much) more yarn.