Thursday, February 26, 2015

Weekly Dishcloth, now in Technicolor!

Tropical Vacation, by Chelsea Berkompas
Peaches & Creme, Bright Pink, Bright Orange

It's really a pain to weave in ends on garter stitch, more so when combined with lace, and of course when you add another color, you add more ends. Cotton is not a forgiving fiber for this either. However, as long as you're willing to put up with that kind of hassle, this is a quick, easy, fun pattern that uses practically no yarn at all and it's cheerfully retina-searing when you stick to the original color scheme.

This entry is lonely and late because in this my second week back to work I have been going to bed almost as soon as I've gotten home. I hardly managed to eat much less knit. I'm hoping that once I get back into the swing of things I'll have more energy, but the odds are a little long.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Weekly Dishcloth

Queen of Hearts , by Stana D. Sotor
Lily Sugar 'n Cream, Strawberry

This week's Knit Picks dishcloth worked up quickly; I started it in the car on the way to Marshalltown and finished it on the way back, plus a row or two in between while playing cards with my parents, so maybe two and a half hours at most. Throw a long movie in, have a Netflix marathon, get someone to drive you to Cedar Rapids, make a dishcloth!

The pattern calls for the last stitch of every row to be slipped to create tidy edges. It should be noted that this only works if one slips the stitches purlwise with the yarn held in front, otherwise the yarn wraps around the edge like you're trying to do short-rows.

The yarn colorway makes me very happy. It reminds me of old-fashioned peppermint candies.

Friday, February 13, 2015

A Few FO's

I'll be going back to work on Monday.  I'm a little worried by the fact that I'm not more worried about this fact.  I have a vague notion of getting things in order - I've been packaging up lunch-box friendly portions of cut-up veggies, leftovers, and breakfast items that will be easy to eat on the run, I've downloaded extra podcasts for the commute, I'm getting my milk-transporting supplies in order and pumping in between feedings so that I'll have a fresh batch ready and won't have to dip into the emergency stash in the freezer.  I'm looking forward to getting back to work and having a set routine; I tend to be very disorganized and unmotivated if I don't have a schedule to adhere to, but I'm not looking forward to the milk-production grind.  Don't get me wrong, I'm very grateful that I was able to keep up my milk supply for 13 months with Silas and that we never had to resort to supplementing with expensive formula, but it's a big time and energy commitment.  There were also times when I didn't wonder if I was spending as much on batteries for the pump as I would be on formula anyway, but on the other hand it just means that I was spending money on providing healthy, all-natural, ideal food for my son (and losing weight while I was at it), so given the choice, that's certainly where I'd rather my money was going.

At any rate, my blogging time is going to be even more minimal than it is now, so enjoy it while you can!  Here are a couple of things I made in January that were never blogged about:

Outlier, by Laura Aylor

This was a mystery knit-a-long; the designer posted a small set of directions every day, and we didn't find out exactly what it would be until we were finished. It's meant to be somewhere between a cowl and a poncho (and also to be worn by a smaller person, methinks), but what it turns out to be is a great nursing cover.  I've only used it thus a couple of times, and it would be terrible in the summer, but for nursing in public in the winter, it works beautifully, besides being delightfully colorful.  I used Ella Rae Seasons, which is a wool/acrylic chain-plied bulky yarn, very affordable with a very generous yardage, especially for a bulky weight.  I didn't have to think twice about grabbing two skeins (and when the colorway is "Rainbow" you know I'm going to have to buy at least one).

Poppy, by Justine Turner

First of all, the pattern is an absolute joy to knit. Short-rows are my potato chip knitting. It's knit flat, but entirely seamless. It's as cute as a button.

Alas, it is also decidedly feminine.

It's not a beanie, it's a cloche. It isn't as obvious when Ezra is wearing it for now, but I put it on Silas (it is very stretchy), and it is definitely a cloche. If I put it on Ezra so the edge of the button tab is towards his face, you can tell that it's a cloche. I have very pretty babies, so this kind of thing can lead to some confusion. It's not a big deal, but it's annoying. I really wanted it to be a beanie.

The yarn is RHSS Camo, colorway Dress Blues. A very handsome monochromatic variegated yarn, excruciatingly scratchy until it went through the washer and dryer, now it's quite acceptably soft. Definitely planning on making more things with it.

In other news, is there anything more delicious than getting a skein of buttery soft pink bulky yarn in the mail?

It was on sale.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Weekly Dishcloth: Valentine Bonus

Ironically, on the week when I was hoping Knit Picks would publish a dishcloth pattern I would have to put off making until I had the right yarn, they put out a pattern perfectly suited to the yarn I have. So you get two dishcloths this week! With options on a third, depending on how my week goes.

Week 6:

Field of Flowers by Marjorie Dussaud
Peaches & Creme, Psychedelic

Between a colicky infant and yet another stitch pattern requiring multiple manipulations of individual sets of stitches, this dishcloth was not a quick knit. There is way too much p3tog going on in this pattern. It's a maddening maneuver in any pattern; trying to execute it in unforgiving, unstretchable cotton is cruel. I found the directions for the daisy stitch frustratingly unclear - I should have taken pictures of the ridiculous results of my attempt to carry them out as written. This tutorial on Craftsy finally elucidated it for me, but it boils down to the fact that the designer ought to have written "do not drop stitches from left needle" between "p3tog" and "yo, p same three stitches together again."

I didn't mean to repeat yarns so soon in this series, but my goal IS to use up stash yarn, and I was impressed with how much this colorway looked like a field of flowers in the Market Day dishcloth, so here it is again. Be warned: it crocks. A lot.

Valentine Bonus:

Heart Dishcloth
Lily Sugar'n Cream, Red

I love how charmingly old-fashioned this dishcloth is. It would have looked right at home in my Grandma Pepsi's kitchen (though she was more of a crocheter, so she may have preferred this pattern). Either would make sweet gifts for anyone you know with a lot of 50's style aprons on their Pinterest boards (or in their kitchen). It's a much faster project - you have plenty of time to whip one up for Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Yarn Along

Our local library has begun its annual adult winter reading program, and this year's theme is food/cooking, so for my nonfiction book I chose Julie & Julia by Julie Powell. I loved the movie; Meryl Streep was fabulous as Julia Child, and Amy Adams was winsome and quirky as Julie. The book is rubbing me the wrong way so far though. I enjoy the parts about cooking and about Julia, but the author's harsh ironic tone and occasional sweeping bitter stereotypes about people's politics and morality are less enjoyable. She paints herself with relish as the quintessential hipster, and for the first time I'm beginning to understand why so many people complain about hipsters.

I am thoroughly enjoying working on this Hemlock Ring, however. The Yarn is just good old RHSS, but the colorway Dove makes me giddy with adoration for its lovely shades of grey. The photo on my screen makes them look brown, but they're all grey, ranging from silver to dark ash. It's not obvious in all lights, but there's a really stunning blue grey that flashes now and then nearly the color of Ezra's eyes or Silas' before his turned mossy brown.


This baby is all chin

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Never-ending Blanket

I'm beginning to appreciate mindless garter stitch a little bit more. Easy to pick up, easy to put down, easy to work on while holding a clingy baby who will only nap if he's being held. This blanket for Silas that felt like I would be working on it until he leaves for college is somehow actually progressing.

When section on the needles is done, its bound off edge will form part of the side - no new rows will be picked up from that edge. That is mind-boggling to me.. I could reasonably start planning Ezra's in earnest. On the other hand, the sections are only going to comprise of more and more stitches, so this may be the edge of a black hole after all.

Ryan didn't understand why I giggled when I looked up from feeding Ezra to see this, but it's rivaling Milk-drunk Silas in FB popularity.

This picture got more likes faster than anything I had ever posted, and I'm still not sure why

It's as close to viral as I ever expect to be.

Friday, February 6, 2015

What I Did on My Christmas Vacation, Pt 2.

This was a really cute way to display our Christmas cards.  It was also wildly impractical.  The cards are stuck to the door with loops of off-brand Scotch tape, which does not hold well to begin with, and certainly not when a two year old is practicing his door-closing skills.  Next year we'll try something a little sturdier . . .

The star is cut from felt.  I made a stencil using these directions for cutting a five-pointed star with one snip, attributed to Betsy Ross.  Sounds apocryphal to me, but whoever the inventor, it works like a charm.

I had a hard time parting with this last minute gift for my brother's girlfriend.  For that matter, I had a hard time parting with the C.S. Lewis anthology that I gave her, too.  Absolutely should have bought myself a copy, too.

The ornament is a dressed up yarn doll, a model that has been around for decades (I made my first one in fifth grade (almost two decades ago), out of directions from a book from the fifties, and I'm sure the idea is older than that).  There are quite a few variations online; my inspiration came from these directions for an Angel Ornament, with a few mods.  Everywhere she directs to use hot glue, I used needle and thread instead.  Hot glue is messy (and I would have had to dig the gun out from who knows where in the basement).  Instead of wrapping wire around bead garland I made my halo out of size 6 (E) seed beads on 24 gauge gold wire.  For the doll itself I used basic string from the hardware store - I liked the way it went with the plaid ribbon and overall I think it gave the angel a sweet and rustic look, well suited to the recipient's home on the ranch.

Silas likes the ranch

Ezra slept through the ranch

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Yarn Along

I just finished reading "Hind's Feet on High Places" by Hannah Hurnard. It's a truly beautiful allegory for the Christian life, and I found myself drawing a lot of encouragement from it. I've always found the interpretation of Song of Songs as Christ's love for His Church to be a bit far-fetched when the Song seemed to be so explicitly sensual, but "Hind's Feet" does a beautiful job of illustrating the idea of Jesus as a loving bridegroom through its language without becoming entrenched in the symbolism.

The Center Blocks: Swedish Two-Ended Mittens use a new technique for me, twined knitting, also called Tvåändsstickning (which is a wonderful looking word that I am undoubtedly mispronouncing in my head). At its simplest (ha!) it's done by using both ends of a center-pull ball, alternated every stitch, one yarn twisted over the other between each stitch. It makes a firm, warm fabric. At first I assumed it would be basically like double-knitting or fair-isle, but it's as different from either of them as they are from each other.

Yarn-wise I had to get the two colors (Knit Picks Wool of the Andes sport, Marina and Peapod) wound into a single center-pull ball. The first time, for the first mitten, I used an empty mini-M&M's tube as my nostepinne; I couldn't find it yesterday when I went to wind the yarn for the second mitten, so I used my P/Q (15mm) crochet hook instead. I wound the green on, and then laid the end of the teal over it and kept winding until it was one big ball.

Once I got the cast-on figured out (somewhat unorthodoxly, but it worked), I fumbled with several different ways of juggling the yarns, cursing the YouTube videos I was trying to follow and my stubborn fingers in turn, until something clicked and it was smooth sailing from there. I had to make some adjustments at the thumb (it was enormous). I cast on the second mitten with great confidence, only to discover nearly an inch into it that I was well on my way to making another right hand mitten instead of the lefty I needed to complete the set. Rip it, rip it, rip it.

 I've really been into teal and lime for a while, expect to see more of this combo in future.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Weekly Dishcloth

Week 5:

Lily Sugar 'n' Cream, yellow

(I deviated again from the Knit Picks schedule; their week 5 can be found at their website. I do still plan to sync back up to that list at some point, though it may be wild delusion on my part.)

There's half a foot of snow or more on the ground here in Iowa, so I feel a little silly knitting a buttery yellow spring-themed dishcloth (to say nothing of the peculiarity of working with cotton during perfect wool conditions), but this pattern has been marinating in my queue for ages and it feels nice to accomplish something that I've been planning to do for so long, even if it's just an 8 inch square destined for scullery work.  It's a very simple lace pattern, so naturally I had to frog it multiple times before making any progress.

One of the nice things said about lacy dishcloths is that they dry quickly, which helps to prevent them from developing that musty smell people complain about. I have never had a problem with odor from any of my dishcloths, though, except the one time one was left scrunched and sopping under the sink. Not naming any names, but my husband did it. I keep a length of yarn suspended between the cupboards above the sink as a clothesline for washcloths and bibs. No mildew!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Silas and Ezra Monday

Even a work in progress can keep you warm

-Chicks with Sticks: It's a Purl Thing