Wednesday, June 29, 2016

WIP Wednesday - Or What I Do for Fun?

After a serious knitting jag of knitting, writing, rewriting, charting, charting again, editing and sending for testing of my own patterns it really was time to knit someone elses for a while. *

Another person's entry into the Colourmart Spring Contest was ready for test knitters, so I volunteered to do that, even though I really should be working on the Dragon for TDQ's friend's birthday.  Reading through the pattern instantly had me back in my "testers" frame of mind and I happily swatched and then cast on.

Wanna see?

I know it doesn't look like it yet, but that is the starts of a top down collared cardigan.  A little bit of lace, a little bit of cables...you know,


all the things I love!

But.....

I have had a "bee in my bonnet" for some time and it was an itch that had to be scratched, so I am not being monogamous on the test knit at all.

Over the years, as people, namely young women, have learned to sew and embroider, to hone their skills and perhaps even to show them off, they have worked on samplers.  Some are pretty amazing, with delicate pictures, symbols and most importantly alphabets and dates on them. The older ones are crafted on homespun warp and weft, from home woven even count fabrics, and over the years have faded and muted in color.

Go into any craft store and you can buy kits or charts to make your own, with catchy phrases in them..or not.. which ever you prefer.  And I will admit, that hanging in the stairwell to our basement is one that I cross-stitched in 1986, I think from a Better Homes and Garden pattern.  It is the Floral Alphabet, for anyone who cares.

So think of this, a thirty year old project, nicely protected behind glass and framed for all to see...but what do we as knitters have to show after thirty years?  At least in my house the socks, sweaters, scarves and mitts will have all have long since worn away.  I have  a couple of the pieces I knit as a teen**, mostly cotton blend tops, that still fit and get worn on occasion, but nothing that will last centuries like those old samplers did.

I have been determined that I will knit a sampler and mount and frame it as carefully as I have those cross-stitch patterns that still are on my walls.  But I could never quite pull it together.

But, now I might have....



Just to prove I am out of my freaking mind, that is knit on size 000 needles out of a 2/60 yarn that has been sitting in my stash for far too long.  On good days I can almost feel the yarn in my fingers, but to be honest it is something I have to look at to knit. (Yeah there is a reason I have been working mainly in fingering weight yarn, that I can still feel!)

I still need to work out a border and I did not create the lace letters charts.....but imagine if you will a blanket or a shawl with all your favorite quotes on it.

So putting on the tester hat, where you have to look at everything in a way that leads to the most misunderstanding and idiocy***, and/or working in a thread that probably is designed to be carried along with another thread to make something approaching a normal weight of yarn is what I do for "fun".

~M
*It won't last long, I already swatched another concept piece, but it really is restful to knit something I am not charting or doing the math on!

**Oh my, that means those pieces are over 30 years old..when did I get that old?

***Not that knitters are idiots, but, well sometimes there is clear and there is clear!


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Through the Mist - New Pattern


Do you remember the second shawl from the Colourmart Spring Contest?  (She is at the bottom of that page.)  Well the testers knit her up in no time, and then she sat around for a minute or three waiting for final edits.  Then she sat around for a minute or three while another pattern took center stage.

On Friday, it was finally her turn and Through the Mist was published on Ravelry.

As is usual with my life, I then sat down to tell the universe, or at least the internet, about the pattern and got distracted by something else and never actual got around to telling anyone, other than a brief post on Facebook, that she was live!

If you subscribe to the newsletter, in the morning you will get a coupon code for a discount!

But, back to telling you (late) about the pattern!

From the pattern:

In late spring and early summer, occasionally there are mornings in Central Ohio that are special. A touch of mist curls around the trees and plants that grow in the fields near where I live and everything has a slightly surreal quality about it. I know that within a few short hours the sun will burn that mist away and add heat to the day, but I need a little something around my shoulders when I go out early. This top down triangle shawl fills that need. A relaxed knit for the knitter who is comfortable working from charts, in a light to heavy fingering yarn, this shoulder shawl knits up very quickly.
Materials:
Cashmere/Merino 2/10NM Fingering Weight, 95 % Merino/5% Cashmere, 894 yards to 150 grams. 540 yards used for sample.
Size 4 (3.5mm) 40 inch circular needle or needle size required to obtain gauge.
Stitch Markers, smooth yarn for provisional cast on, and a large eyed tapestry needle for weaving in ends.
Lace motifs are presented in charted form only.

And now, "the rest of the story"...*

Having just got off a chart heavy pattern and being a little "socked out", I needed something that I could knit while watching movies with the kids.  Something that didn't have me too tied to a chart, or beads that  I could run through return rows on, but still feel like I was knitting something more than a garter stitch throw blanket.  (Yes, log cabin blanket, I still haven't forgotten you. We love how warm and snuggly you are when it is winter, but it is summer now!)

Using stitch markers that I have a love/hate relationship with, to center a lace motif and then as a counting aid so that I wasn't having to keep track of rows, made this a great movie watching project.

And those misty mornings?  If I leave the house early enough we are still getting them, we certainly were when I was knitting Through the Mist, and better yet, I have found she is perfect to throw in the car for when I am shopping or going somewhere air conditioned.

~M

* Wasn't there a radio show that was the catch line for?


Sunday, June 19, 2016

So much for Stash Downing!

Earlier this year I made a commitment to myself to work through some of the yarn that has been sitting in my stash for far too long.  Not because I feel having a healthy stash of things to pick from when the notion takes you to cast on for something at 3am and all the local yarn stores are closed, is a bad thing.  Not because I felt guilty about the ( take a deep breath!) over 200 miles of yarn I have.  Just because the yarns in my stash are (for the most part) pretty nice things and deserved something better than being stored in ziploc bags inside of plastic drawer units!  And maybe a little bit because I wanted to make some room for newer things. (But only maybe!)

How's that going for me, you might ask.

Uh.....Did you know there was a fiber fair in Ohio this weekend?  Did you know it was only a 30 minute drive away from me, and anything less than two hours doesn't even count as a road trip, only as running errands?

When I was getting ready to go I asked the minions (read as children) if any of them wanted to go with me.  TDQ was up for it, TFB was more interested in whatever it was he was drawing at that moment, but it was TOB who shocked me.  (Remember he's the knitter.)

me:  Do you want to go to a fiber fair with me?
TOB - What will be there?
me: Well, yarn!
TOB - Hmmm, no I think I have enough yarn right now.

After I picked myself up off the floor (seeing as he has his own stash and added to it when we went to Wool Gathering last year) I told him that those are words spoken by NO KNITTER EVER.*

But, anyway...TDQ and I met up with a friend of mine, her two kids and her poor childminding husband and went and looked at yarn and roving and shawl pins, stitch markers and knitting needles. (I determined I had more needles in my needle stash than one vendor had on display!)  We had a good time looking at things and pondering if we could recreate some fabulous gradient yarns - which for me is not likely to happen any time soon, but I have this friend in Chicago that could probably do it for me if I sent her a picture of what I was aiming for.  :)

The best part though was getting to stand and chat with Natasha of Unplanned Peacock Studio's.  I had really been hoping that some of those special yarns were already dyed and ready to go, so that I could start knitting the pattern I designed to go with them, but alas, traveling to do fiber fairs had cut into her dyeing time and they aren't (quite) ready yet.  To console my sorrow at not being able to cast on for those (yes, those!  The pattern will have at least 4 variations in it and I keep thinking of more ways to work that theme.) I might have had some of those little people who were with me and my friend help me pick out some "sorrow abating" yarn.
The blue and the purples on the right hand side are lace weights, both with a little bit of sparkle to them that doesn't show well in pictures.  The others are fingering weight.

We have, from left to right :

The fingerings:

Kinky Sock in Dragon (oooh, I love those colors!)
Twisty Sock in Berry Pie (guess which purple loving gal picked that out!)
Twinkle Twist in Amethyst (just a hint of sparkle, I think that will grow up to be a scarf thing - highly technical term that!)
Kinky Sock in Pink Floyd (a special colorway but we will talk about that later!)
The Laces:

Twinkle Lace in Bunting  (my friend's son picked that one and suggested a theme for what I should knit with it)
Twinkle Lace in Amethyst (a study in how different materials take up dye differently)

I also picked up a skein of Blue Heron Yarns Rayon Metallic.  I am not usually big on knitting with rayon, but this felt nice in my hands and oh that colorway spoke up, loudly, that she wanted to come home with me!


She hasn't said what she wants to be yet, just that she wanted to be with me!

How was your weekend?

~M

*When we got home, TOB explained that he was a knitter, just that knitting hadn't quite taken over his entire life yet!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Keep your Fingers off the Scale!

I have a friend in Chicago who dyes some of the most amazing yarns, for her personal use, using food colors.  For ages now she has been telling me that she could teach me how to do it, and that I could call her if I ran into problems and she would talk me through the process as I was doing it.

She mentioned on a Ravelry forum that she really wished she had an Addi Express Knitting Machine for knitting blanks, as one of the longer parts of her process was creating the blanks to dye, but the machine is a pretty penny and not in her budget for a while.  It isn't in mine either, but I suggested that if we looked in Thrift Stores maybe we could find a child's version, something like this one, and even if it didn't work perfectly, maybe it would be good enough for now.  She agreed it would be worth looking at, and if the price was right maybe even trying it.  She also offered to pay me in either money or custom dye jobs (custom dyes jobs for the win!!!!) if I managed to find one, but that she had been looking on places like Craigs List and E-bay and not finding anything that was being sold for less than retail.  We bemoaned the lot of people trying to find a bargain in this day of everyone looking to make a profit for a few minutes but she left that challenge on the table.

What is it my kids say...Challenge Accepted!*

TDQ likes to go to Thrift Stores, so the next time we were out and about I started looking through the toy section and would you believe that in the second thrift store we went to, there was this:

But it didn't have a price on it!  Setting myself a limit on how much I was willing to pay, I went to the front of the store and asked how much it was.  The clerk had to call the "pricing manager" over to take a look, who gave it a cursory examination and quoted me....ready for it?.......90 cents!

Now 90 cents might sound like a lot for a broken toy that probably should have been tossed in the trash rather than donated to the charity that supplies that thrift store, but it was only slightly broken.  (There should be a tension loop attached just under the purple thread guide. But, for 90 cents I was willing to try seeing if it was still workable without the tension loop and home it came with me.) 

Google is my best friend!  From doing several different internet searches I pretty much discovered that the tension loop on that model was deemed "useless" and "not effective" by people who had tried using the machine, so I looked for alternatives, like tensioning the yarn over my thumb, a paper clip, the guide from my ball winder and finally two binder clips.  The binder clips were the most effective, so having now destroyed a ball of yarn trying to figure out how to use the machine, I grabbed a new skein and wound it so that it would pull easily and started again.

One sticky needle that I had to pay attention to and once there was a decent amount of knitting done the twist it puts on the blank make the machine drop stitches if you don't unwind it...but....I got a blank! 







Yes, it is ugly, yes I should have been more careful about catching when the machine was just carrying the last row of stitches with this rows stitches but....





Then I did this......














Which turned into this.......




And I picked up my knitting needles and plotted and planned. I weighed my yarn and cast on for a small infinity loop to test out a stitch pattern.

I weighed my yarn a lot during that knit, planning on using every inch I could.

And I muffed it!

Somewhere I must have had my finger still on the scale because I came so close to finishing, but didn't quite make it!

Of course, in the meantime I packaged up that knitting machine and sent it on it's way to it's new home, so if I want to knit another blank I will have to do it by hand. Tell me, if you came that close to finishing a project with a yarn you (most likely) couldn't duplicate, what would you do?


*I have been in a "genie mood" this past week, wanting to grant wishes. (Only good wishes though and only good granting, even if according to myths a genie will always "lawyer" your wish into being something you didn't really want!) None of them have been big wishes, for instance, another Raveler wished that someone would knit her "squishy handmade socks" as working on small diameter knits hurts her hands and they should have shown up in her mailbox today! But wishes granted, none the less.

So here is my challenge to you....In a world that has gone crazy, is filled with violence and anger, hatred and totally lacking in love, can you find someone who has a small wish you can grant?

~M









Wednesday, June 15, 2016

There will be Hugs and Stardust

By now everyone in the world has heard about what happened in Orlando, Florida this past weekend.  It was devastating, not just to the people involved, but to people all over the country and even the world.

There are those, who probably nodded to themselves, and said something along the lines of "Isn't that just like Americans," or "That's what we expect from a country that has shootings in schools" or "He was a terrorist, or a bigot or..."  well you get the picture.

All I can say, is that there is more than enough hate to go around in the world and responding to such horrendous acts with candle-light vigils is all very well and good, and it makes the people who participate feel a marginal bit better.....but something has to change.  And before you tell me, or yourself, that you are just one small person and the change needed is too big for you to make an impact on; that throwing sand grains in the sea won't raise the water level at all, let me tell you a little secret that knitters know.

Many small, good, actions add up.

When I start a project, no matter what it is, somewhere there is the first stitch.  One loop of yarn around a needle, that through time and many small actions grows up to be a shawl, a scarf, socks, a sweater, a blanket or anywhere else my fancy takes me.  One small flick of the fingers, or scoop of the needle and that one stitch can become two.  Five minutes later how many small movements turned into the entire cast on for a sweater or the first few rows of a shawl?  I don't count them, those movements are too small, but they add up.

On Ravelry alone there are 6 million knitters!  Think of all the small movements they make each day!  And Ravelry is by no means all the crafters out there, every day I encounter people who have never heard of it. If everyone on Ravelry just knit for five minutes today, how many small actions would that be?

Since Sunday I have seen a lot of rainbows popping up on the web, but here is one I want you to go look at, and if the fancy strikes you, maybe purchase a skein.  Natasha of Unplanned Peacock asked me if I would like to design something to use that very special colorway and help support the fundraiser, and of course I jumped at the chance.

Here is what Natasha has to say about the fundraiser and what UPP has been able to contribute to Urbanpeak.org in the past...


"For those of you who were around last year, we had a "Rainbow Unicorn of Love" fundraiser to benefit Urbanpeak.org, a youth shelter out of Denver. We raised enough money to buy 1800 pairs of socks for teens that are currently homeless.  I decided to reprise this fundraiser as a small antidote to the hatred and negativity brought about by the shooting in Orlando.  How does this relate? 40% of teens that are homeless are LGBT.  Most homeless teens have been abused by family members or others. No one chooses homelessness over a happy home life.  If you want to learn more about the statistics, click here.
Socks are one of the most needed items in shelters. We can show these teens that someone out there is caring about them, when the world seems to be against them.
Last year we put socks on 1800 kids' feet. Let's double that amount this year."*

I am working on the pattern right now...actually I think it is mostly written, just swatching and waiting for my skein of that very special yarn to arrive.  (I am going with the warm tones and a little sparkle in the fingering weight......and while I knit I will be thinking about warm hugs and stardust.)  When the pattern is released I will be donating a portion of the pattern price to Urbanpeak as well.

Doing my part to make those small motions add up into something bigger.

Another one of my favorite designers is donating all sales from one of her patterns (rainbow mitts, they are fun!) to Lambda Legal.
So if you want a "ready to go right this minute" pattern to show your support, here it is. 

~M

*And if you want to do something in your own community, that's great too!  The shelters I have worked with in Columbus, Ohio also say there is a huge need for hygiene products, along with clothing, especially clothing that can be worn to job interviews.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Today's The Day!

I mentioned yesterday that today was a special day, and it is.

Not jut because it is my birthday, which it is.

Not just because the kids have decided that my birthday counts as a ten percent day.* Which it does. So there will be cake and pie on the menu for dinner tonight!

But, because today is the day that the Early Fall issue of Knotions goes live!

See anything you like in that pretty group of patterns?  I know I did!

But, this is my blog, so rather than just drooling over other people's patterns I will tell you a little bit about mine.  :)

A Walk in the Woods Sock.


Ever had one of those days where you just couldn't decide what you wanted to knit?  I know that it happens to a lot of knitters, their current project is boring them and they want to be working on that elusive "something else".  Maybe that something else is some lace to break up the monotony of a plain sweater or some cables to break up the dullness of a garter stitch blanket.  Maybe that something else is some texture rather than open lacework with beads.

Sometimes, I know exactly what I want to knit.  And other times, well I just want it all, and these socks have it!  Lace leaf motifs and texture on the front, cables and ribbing on the back.


I find, that in my own knitting, patterns that have a lot of different things happening in them tend to go faster than those that are long stretches of plain knitting, so these socks just about flew off my needles.


The socks pictured were knit in Cascade Heritage Sock Yarn in the Dusty Turquoise colorway on size 1 (US) needles. The original prototype was knit with some discontinued Land O Lace Steffi.



Working with Knotions to bring you this pattern, was again a pure pleasure!  I didn't need quite as much hand holding, this time around, having been through the process once before with my Step Into Spring Socks, although getting the pattern back with the edits is always a little harrowing!  (This time I could have sworn I followed the style sheet and checked my grammar and spelling!)  I told the editor that my goal to was one day write a pattern that the tech editor could not find anything that needed to be corrected or changed and she pretty much laughed at me and said that even the very best patterns have something to change.  If she couldn't see anything initially she was liable to spend a lot more time going through the pattern a second and third time looking for what she missed.


I don't know what you have planned for the weekend, but for me it is off to a wild knitting party!

~M




*Only eating healthy things all the time is limiting, so we claim that we eat healthy foods 90% of the time and 10% of the time, if we want ice cream and cake for dinner, well so be it.  Actually the way things work it is much less than 10% of the time that we throw caution to the wind and eat "junk" as the more time goes on, the less of the "junk food" we find we like!

Friday, June 10, 2016

It Will be an Exciting Saturday.....

Saturday will be an exciting day at Chez Yarn Diet, but until then.....

After working those final 17 rows, that felt like they would never end, which wasn't helped by my having a massive case of Knitters ADHD, I cast off the second version of my ColourMart Lover's Group Spring Contest Shawl. 

Once she was done and blocked there was the usual juggle to try and get the shawl, the model and the weather all playing nicely together at the same time!



One of the things that was distracting me from actually knitting those final rows was getting the charts and instructions in order.  I think that they are very nearly ready, which means the call for test knitters will be going out again.

I really should just create a standard "personal ad" that I use and just change the details depending on the project....In Search of Adventurous knitter to take long walks on the beach and knit a shawl.

The only parts that are missing, right now, from the pattern are the completed gauge and yarn usage.  As I went with smaller needles this one came in just under the yardage of the first version and is just ever so slightly smaller, but as you can tell this is still a big, wrap yourself up in fine merino, shawl.


As, with one of my other entries, this shawl does not follow the "normal" spine treatment of incorporating stitches from the main body of the shawl into the successive increases and giving an all over pattern, and as with that other entry, I am trying to "tell a story", and as  the other entry had only one person "got it" when I posted pictures...tell me....what do you think that the story in this one is?


Sunday, June 5, 2016

Ack, I'm Bored....now what?

Do you remember when I got to the point where I had 17 more rows to do on my shawl and I decided that it would look much better if I changed it?  I asked for votes both here and on Ravelry for if I should rip back 71 rows or just finish that one up and knit it again.

The vote was for keep going and re-knit.

Well today, I have 17 rows left to go on my shawl.......

I had a peaceful day of knitting planned. 

So what did I do?

I surfed the internet.

I bought a new dishwasher...(Thank you for all your support buying my patterns, I decided I wanted a dishwasher more than I needed new yarn right now so although the hobby is supposed to be self supporting it is actually supporting my hating washing dishes by hand...first world problems!)

I played 144.

That game is harder than it looks, but I won a few times.

I cast on for another small project.

4 loads of laundry, grocery shopped, menu planned, cleaned bathrooms.

In short, everything under the sun other than knit those last 17 rows.

So tell me, what do you do when your knitting has hit that horrible place where you would rather clean bathrooms than look at those 500 plus stitch rows anymore?

Leave me a comment telling me what you do!

~M

P.S.  I really do need to finish it up....I have test knitters waiting in the wings for this one.



Friday, June 3, 2016

Almost, almost on a Friday

According to the math I have been doing I am almost, almost! 80% through the re-knit of my shawl.  With the redesign of the ending, even though there are over 500 stitches on my needles about 300 of them have been just plain knits for a little bit now.

All that changes on the next right side row I will be knitting as I have finally hit the edging! I will go from groupings of 25 plain knit stitches to  more "action" stitches , even my landmark stitches that I had left as plain knits from the beginning of the shawl start getting into the decrease/increase game that is lace.

No pictures of that today, it really looks very similar, if a bit larger, to what you saw the other day.  Even on my longest needles it is all scrunched up, but the parts I can see I am pleased with.

Even with all this counting down to being done, I know myself well enough to know what is coming next.  It always happens with the bigger projects.  I invest so much time and energy into just doing them and then getting close to finishing them that when the end happens I get this sense of let down.  Post Project Depression. *

Luckily, my mail man has already placed the cure in my hands. 

I haven't properly unpacked them yet, but here are my winnings from the ColourMart Lovers Spring Contest.  I worked that voucher for yarn really hard! 14,000 yards of extra fine merino and cashmere/merino blends just waiting for a project.



















And.....

I saved the best for last.

Go check out the preview for the Early Fall 2016 issue of Knotions.  My knitting queue just got a whole lot bigger looking at the awesome designs that Jody has rounded up.  I wonder if I have enough of any one sock yarn to knit thigh highs?

~M

*I am not in any way downplaying postpartum depression, that is a real disease and not at all what I suffer from with my post project depression.  Maybe I should call it post project letdown?


Thursday, June 2, 2016

Not what I should be knitting at all

This has almost nothing to do with current knitting at all....originally I was going to do a post on provisional cast on's but....well I didn't get it done. (Not to mention I have this hope that a friend can take some pictures for me for the provisional cast on post, the kids failed me massively!)

While I get that together I have a question for you....


What do you think this grew up to be?

Correct answers will get a coupon code to get the pattern for free!

I hit the 60% point on my current knitting, but somehow I don't think it will be finished when I had hoped.  If I had not spent so much time on the Ravelry forums maybe it would be ready to be blocked on Saturday.  Which was my original time line for it.

~M

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

WIP- Wednesday ~ Fifty Percent

The fickle knitter strikes again!

I should be much further along on the re-knit of my shawl.  The pattern is pretty intuitive, even if the rows are getting pretty long, but it seems like every other second that I am working on it, I am finding something else to do with my time!

I really wanted to have this off the needles by this weekend, photo's done and that hard part (the actual writing) well underway by next week.

Could it still happen?  hmmmm  Maybe.

Will it? hmmmmmm Probably not.

But, I did finally pass the fifty percent of the knitting done and each row from here sees a higher and higher percentage done.

And, I asked some of the best knitting friends in the world to take a look at several different ways of presenting the charts to get input, before I got to the "here test knitters see if you can read this chart" phase.  Having friends to bounce ideas off is more valuable than they will ever know!  Which got me to thinking.  I know, that is a dangerous activity!

Actually several, completely unrelated things got me to thinking.

Thinking about following dreams.

Thinking about how to make them a reality.

And how, moving my kids to North Carolina in the boys senior year of high school just isn't fair so, no, even though that job sounded like the "perfect thing for me right now" it could be the "perfect thing" just not now!

Do you have a creative dream you would like to make a reality?

Maybe we should talk about what it will take to get there!

Leave a comment if you are interested in hearing more about those thoughts and what your creative dream is.  Maybe, just maybe, we can work through them together.
~M