Bouncy Bouncy!

My brother and his wife are expecting their first child this May. Being a knitter and a first time aunt, I feel compelled to knit my nephew something, so I’ve started a Bounce blanket. I’ve wanted to knit Bounce since Tin Can Knits put the pattern out several years ago, and I’m thrilled to finally have a reason to make it!

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I played around with colours (my husband helped) and came up with 2 shades of teal, 2 shades of yellow, and cream (the nursery will be decorated in teal and yellow). The stitch pattern in this blanket is a very simple 5-row lace, but it does require a SSP, which is like an SSK but on the purl side. Not the most fun stitch, but after working it 100 times it becomes a lot less scary.

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The other thing I’m not so enthusiastic about is all those ends to weave in. I think I should start on those now so I’m not so overwhelmed when the blanket is finally finished.

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The project bag I am using is from Twist Fiber Studio and matches my project perfectly. That makes me happy.

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This past weekend I went to visit my grandmother and I brought the blanket to show her. She looks so knitterly sitting there with it on her lap.

I am 6 stripes from the finish line and the baby is due in less than a month, so I better get knitting!

Birthday Cake

Sunday was my husband’s birthday, so I made him a cake. There is nothing quite like a made from scratch cake to show your love. We had talked about it earlier in the year and to my surprise he said he wanted a chocolate peanut butter cake (he is not a big peanut butter fan). So I trolled the internet for the perfect recipe, and lo and behold I found it! I compiled my ingredients and began baking.

While the cake layers were baking and cooling I made the peanut butter whipped filling and the chocolate ganache.

I trimmed the cake layers…

Then began assembly.

The last step was lettering. I practiced a bit before trying it on the real thing. The key is to go slowly and to follow through on every stroke.

The cake turned out so well! I even had 2 people tell me that they didn’t normally like peanut butter, but they liked my cake!!

The recipe took me the majority of a day to make, once you count baking and cooling and chilling times, and the time was well worth it! I made the cake pretty much as instructed. The only change I made was to add about 1/4 cup less sugar than called for.

Would I make this cake again? Definitely! Should you make this cake? Absolutely!!

Sampling

It’s been quite a while since SAFF, but I’m still working through my class fiber samples. Here are a few yarns I’ve recently finished.

My most recent spin was a BFL/silk blend top in a purple to pink ombre. You can see it on the bottom left in the picture above. I had planned to spin it as a thick singles, but alas, my singles were thin (I need to work on that). So I changed course and chain plied the yarn to keep the colour order intact.

I didn’t add a lot of twist to the singles, and I’m delighted with how fluffy and soft this yarn is!

I also have a pair of yarns I’ve been spinning for quite a while now. In the topmost picture they are the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th samples from the top (these are also BFL/silk blends).

I spun the 2 samples with purple in them (2nd and 3rd from the top) separately, and then plied them with extra twist.

Then I spun my 3rd sample (4th from the top) in the same direction I had plied the previous yarn in and plied the yarns together again to create a crepe yarn.

I ended up with sister skeins. The 2-ply is a fingering weight, and the crepe is a DK weight.

I’m almost done spinning through my class samples. I’ll have to take a picture of them all together when I’m finished. Then it will be time to find the perfect project(s) for them. I can’t wait!

I Love Batts!

I talked a lot about SAFF after I went in October, but there’s 1 more thing I learned that I didn’t tell you about: I love spinning batts! Batts are fluffy swathes of carded wool and they are such a delight to spin! After sampling some batts we made in class I made it a point to buy one that I could enjoy more fully.

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Just look at it. Isn’t it lovely? I bought it from Katelyn of DunnSpunn (She’s fabulous! You should check her out!! She had a pair of batts in her shop that were inspired by Anne of Green Gables and her best friend Diana. I wasn’t fast enough to snag them.) The colourway is called Candied Pumpkin, and it’s 3.1 oz of wool, mohair, bamboo, soy fiber and Angelina. I carefully unrolled the batt, stripped it, and spun. If you’re used to spinning worsted you will be amazed at how quickly woolen yarn spins up. I spun up the singles in an evening and a morning, and plied them with some deep green laceweight singles I had leftover from my Lilting Leaves spin.

I love how this yarn turned out. There are thick and thin spots and locks hanging out, and I have sparkly Angelina all over my house, but it’s so worth it. This yarn is gorgeous, and once I figure out how to showcase it in all its glory I’ll make it up into something lovely.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I have another batt lying around somewhere.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

In August of 2017 I started knitting Portage, an open-front textured cardigan. I knit the first 6 inches of the raglan increases before I lost my place and couldn’t figure out what row I was on or what my stitch count should be. In the interest of sanity (and because I enjoy knitting and I didn’t want this to spoil it for me) I set the sweater aside for another day.

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This year I decided that the time had come to restart this beautiful sweater. I love the yarn and I’m always cold at work, so this would be such a useful item to add to my closet (ok, let’s be real – it will live at my desk). So I ripped my stitches out and re-swatched to make sure my gauge hadn’t changed drastically since the last time I cast on. Then I started the sweater again, and this time I used ALL THE STITCH MARKERS to make sure I didn’t lose my place (My mom sent me these Llama/Alpaca stitch markers. Isn’t she sweet? HI MOM!!).

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Friends, I am ecstatic to tell you that I finished the raglan increases correctly. Just to make sure I wouldn’t have to redo them again I ran a lifeline through the last increase row. You know, just in case. Now I’m working down the body slowly but surely. I am trying really hard to enjoy the knitting, but have a love/hate relationship with cables (I love to look at them and wear them, but hate to knit them), and the 1/1 cables that make up the whole back panel are driving me a little crazy. But I am soldiering on because this sweater is going to be so warm and cozy and I will have made it and it will be mine.

Ok, back to the grindstone. If I keep knitting on this maybe it will be done in a few years….

Check that Box!

Hey Friends, February is almost over, but I have to show you one more thing I made before March hits us.

Will you just look at it? I am quite pleased with how it came out. Well, mostly….

The pattern is Very Easy Vogue V9151.v9151

According to my measurements (and my common sense) I made a size Medium. I don’t know why, but every time I measure myself for a commercial pattern the size I measure for ends up being quite a bit too big for me, so now I default to 1 size smaller. In this case I think I may have been able to go down another size. The fabric is a cotton/poly shirting I found at Hobby Lobby. I think it really makes the garment come alive.

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Since I was working with a check pattern I took extra care to line up the seams so everything flowed well together. In order to avoid a clunky look I cut the center front and upper back panels on the bias. Since cutting on the bias uses extra fabric I did have to piece the center front panel, but the check pattern does a fantastic job hiding the pieced bit. I have to feel for it to figure out where it is!

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I sewed most of the construction seams on my friend’s sewing machine, but the collar and the sleeves were sewn in by hand. I also finished all the seams and hems by hand, and I must say, I’m quite pleased with the low profile of the finishing work (even though it did take longer than serging or top stitching by machine)!

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The only change I made was to widen the hips a little bit. The pattern rather bizarrely tapered in toward the hips, and since I wanted to be able to actually wear the shirt, I cut the seam line straight down. Even so I wish there was a little more room in the hips or that there was a slit or a curved hem, or even that the shirt was a little shorter. It’s just not quite right. Also, the way the sleeves are set in cause the neck of the shirt to rise in front and fall in back – which is rather annoying, but just as well since the front slit is rather lower than I prefer to wear.

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All in all, it’s pretty good for a first draft, and it’s wearable and pretty. If I make this pattern again I think I’ll go down another size and possibly cut the front all as 1 piece. There’s really no reason to cut it as 3 piecesĀ (other than visual interest). I’m also thinking about adding a little waist/hip/hem shaping, but that’s a discussion for another day. For now I leave you with my hand-finished seams. Enjoy.

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Lilting Leaves

Late last year I finished a spin that I had been working on since August. I started with 4oz of BFL dyed in lovely shades of green, and paired it with another 4(ish)oz of deep forest green Merino I had in my stash.

My goal was to spin a 2-ply sock weight, so I spun each of the singles as fine as I could while still keeping them even. Spinning fine takes forever, and by the time I was done with the singles I needed a break. Fortunately, this was around the time I went to SAFF, so I was able to refuel, restock, and be refreshed.

Everything was going well until I started plying, but I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. For some reason my plies weren’t locking together like I expected them to. I shrugged it off, figuring that a good soak would set everything to rights. Then 2/3 of the way through plying the yarn started doing what it was supposed to. My heart sank as I realized what had happened: part of the way through spinning the dark green singles I had changed the direction of my spinning. About 2/3 of the yarn was an opposing ply yarn, while the other 1/3 was beautiful and balanced.

I can’t tell you how frustrated I was at first. How can you switch directions in spinning without the yarn breaking or drifting apart? I wanted to have 800-1000 yards of yarn that was all the same so I could make something significant out of it. Now my plan was ruined because of a stupid mistake I made because I wasn’t paying attention.

I took a step back to let myself cool off, then made myself consider the pros instead of the cons. I’ve never made an opposing ply yarn before, so this was a learning experience. Now I know what opposing ply yarn does. It’s rather curly and delightfully kinky because of all the extra twist energy the opposing ply brings to the yarn. I wonder how this would change the texture in a knitted or woven fabric?

In a way this yarn is a lot like life. Everything can seem to be going exceedingly well, and then something happens that throws a wrench in your plans. In times like this it’s important to take the time to reconsider your perspective and see if maybe there isn’t a silver lining after all.

I can’t wait to make something out of this yarn. I think a large woven stole would be just delightful. I’m even considering lightly felting the finished fabric because I’ve never done it before and I think it would really finish the fabric in a beautiful way.

We all make crafting mistakes. What stories do you have of snatching a success from the jaws of failure?