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.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

When Dreams Go Up In Smoke

I had planned to go to the New York Sheep and Wool Festival (also known as Rhinebeck) this year. I had saved up some money, and made plans with a friend to leave on Friday after work, and to attend the festival all day on Saturday and Sunday. Alas, the well laid plans of mice and men oft gang awry. The money I'd saved had to be spent on a pressing bill (rent), and my friend who was to drive is attending a hand-fasting. It seems some friends of his pushed their hand-fasting up to October from June because one of them has developed an aggressive type of brain cancer and, well, autumn hand-fastings are so lovely when the leaves in New England are in full colour. So I have no ride and I have no money, and it is not a new realisation that I have too much yarn (as I pack for my move to New Orleans come December or January). If I believed that the Universe had agency, I would believe that the Universe just said, “Ha!” to me (actually, it's more like the Universe said, “Fuck you!” but I don't use language like that, or at least not too often.) One of the reasons I don't believe in karma, however much I like the idea, is that I refuse to grant agency to the Universe. The Universe doesn't much care if you're a nice person or a douche; any comeuppance you get isn't because of karma.

But this is a blog about yarn and knitting and fibre, not about theology (and man! did I do a metric shit-tonne of theology when I was in divinity school!). I'm missing Rhinebeck and there isn't much I can do about it right now. So I need to pull up my big-boy pants and get the fuck over it. There. I'm over it.

I've been trying my hand at some knitting that isn't sweaters, even though I have designated October as Sweater Month. Mostly because I am dreading doing a swatch for the lovely green Malabrigo Rios. It's another time I need to pull up my big-boy pants and just do it. Maybe tomorrow. But right now I'm making a cowl for my friend Dolci, using the lovely yarn I got at the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival this past spring. It's Blue Face Leicester, from Marek Raczkowski Studio studios in Connecticut. He doesn't have a website, but there is a Ravelry page. It knits up quite nicely! I think it's going to be a lovely cowl when done. I'm using the Scalloped Wave pattern by Kelsey Saari, which I found on Ravelry. It is basically feather-and-fan done as a cowl, and right now it doesn't look like anything. Since I bought this yarn months ago, with no particular purpose in mind, I'm knitting my stash!
It doesn't look like much of anything right now, but then I've only done one repeat of the pattern.
I've also started a hat for Brandon's step-father. He likes blue, so a bit of Police Box Rios will make a good hat. I'm using a fleur-de-lys pattern in purl stitches against the stockinette, which I got from Baske fleur-de-lys Mittens pattern, by Niclole Hindes. It's a pattern I bought on Ravelry a few years ago, but have never knit (in my long list of patterns I'm going to try someday!). I've been knitting cowls in the round recently and it's become a habit that when I've got the yarn in the purl position, I'm going to make a yarn over. So far I've only had to tink back once. But it was for almost all the stitches I'd cast on. I must be very careful not to make that mistake again. Right now it looks like two inches of ribbing, but when it actually looks like a fleur-de-lys hat, I'll take a picture.

I had the shocking realisation this week that except for a couple hats and cowls I want to make, my Christmas and Reunion knitting is almost done. Except for Brad's sweater, pesky thing. But fat yarn on fat needles! It'll knit up in no time!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

October is Sweater Month

If it's October, it's sweater month! Both time to start wearing them and time to start knitting them!

Okay, it might not quite be cold enough to wear sweaters. October isn't what it used to be. But I decided that it would be a great month to make some sweaters. I am determined to make one and finish one, and maybe, if I'm lucky, make another. And believe me, I have the yarn to do it!

So last year I started a sweater for my friend Brad. He's tall, 6 feet 5 inches tall. We're talking about miles and miles of stockinette. For whatever reason, I didn't finish this sweater, but the yarn, the needles, and most of the back panel are still here, quietly mocking me. Another sweater I want to make is one for my friend Troy, who is a red head, and who likes green. And yes, the yarn is bought and ready. And if I have time, I'd like to make one for myself, because I bought some gorgeous yarn this summer, and I want to think it will take less room in my life if it's a sweater in my drawer rather than a collection of hanks sitting in a bin.

This does not mean that I am stopping making various Christmas presents, or the last four hats in my Hats for the Homeless series (more on that in another post). Those are the travel projects, the ones that will fit in my bag. Sweaters are at-home knitting, since I don't want to lug that much yarn in my backpack every day.

Brad's sweater is in Lamb's Pride bulky, a mix of 85% wool and 15 % mohair. I chose the colourway Denim, because he said he wanted a blue sweater. You can see in the photo how far I've gotten, and I can assure you that it is coming along quite nicely. The pattern is Easy Bulky Sweater by Yankee Knitter. I've made it before, but I like it, and it's a good solid and very warm sweater that works well for most men.

The sweater for Troy is in Malabrigo Rios, pure superwash Merino. The colourway is Ivy, and the pattern I chose is Flax, by Tin Can Knits (I got it as a free pattern on Ravelry). It's a top-down pattern, knit without seams. I've finished five sweaters in my day, and all of them were done as panels that needed to be sewn together when all was said and knitted. I've never done this, and I'm pretty excited to get started on it.

If I have time to make a second sweater (because the above is only one-and-a-half sweaters, since Brad's is more or less half done already), I want to make the Flax sweater for myself, using Donegal Tweed by Tahki, in a deep blue colourway. I bought this yarn being thoroughly enchanted by the colour and the feel of the yarn, and while I have made two sweaters for myself using bulky weight yarns, and would like to make something that isn't quite so warm. Those bulky sweaters are so warm that I don't feel like I need to wear a coat over them, even when it's wicked cold outside (as we say around here).

Sweaters are such a serious time commitment. I've figured it takes me about six to nine hours to make a hat, about 15 to 25 hours to make a scarf (depending on length, number of stitches, and complexity), and about 60 hours to make a bulky sweater. I reckon it will be about 70 or 80 to make a worsted weight sweater. But I am up for the challenge. I will admit, with some embarrassment that it's always exciting to cast on a sweater, but the stick-to-itiveness of finishing one can be daunting. Sweaters, while most easily knit at home, are best knit while attending knit-night, for support and encouragement from one's fellow knitters. Maybe I'll do both, and bring them with me sometimes to the open knit at my LYS.