The Thrill of Autumn

I love this time of year. The thrill of Autumn is in the air and the leaves are slowly starting to change colours and fall. The days are beginning to be cooler, making this the most lovely time of year to be outdoors. I love Fall. Fall is when I can start to wear all the beautiful woolens I’ve knit throughout the year. I get to pull scarves and shawls and hats out that may not have been used since last winter. Fall is a time for layering and for earth tones and warm things to drink. In Fall I can enjoy the nip in the air without longing for it to be warm again.

I’ve a colorwork hat in the works that is so very Fallish. I can’t wait for it to be off my needles so I can wear it. I’m using handspun from the first time I spun Batts. They were little tiny things made of Merino, Alpaca, and Bamboo, and I had no idea how to spin them.

wool batt

This may have been my first attempt at woolen spinning, but by the end I was just spinning worsted. The yarn is a 2-ply sport-weight(ish) and is very soft. My contrast yarn is a light fingering weight yarn from Hedgehog Fibers that I bought on my honeymoon. Fingering weight on it’s own wouldn’t stand up well to the sport-weight handspun, so I’m holding it doubled for the most lovely Marl. Really, I can’t tell you how beautiful this is!

handspun yarn

I’m making the pattern up as I go, but for the colorwork section I modified a chart from a book the owner of my LYS gave me for my anniversary (Thanks, Krista!!). And last, but not least, I am using Jane Austen stitch markers. This project is just so perfect in so many ways. I can’t wait to see how it comes out! Hopefully you’ll see a new pattern coming soon. Watch this space!

colorwork knitting with teacup stitch marker

Finished Object: The 5-Year Hat

5 years is a long time. 5 years ago I had just graduated from college and gone on a trip to Europe: I was broke. It wasn’t a great time for jobs, so I was working part time and sharing a 1-bedroom apartment with 2 other girls (my “bedroom” was actually the dining room and my “door” was a curtain).

I was a new knitter, so I barely knew what I was doing and had no idea what good yarn was. But I was passionate about knitting, so I made do with what I had and somehow not everything I knit during that period was crap. I had found Ravelry by this time and I adored Tin Can Knits (I still adore them. They’re fabulous!). It was Christmas time, so I bought their Sitka Spruce hat pattern and some KnitPicks yarn (Wool of the Andes Superwash) and began to knit (note that I did not swatch).

knit beret

I had trouble with the pattern – not because it wasn’t a good pattern (Tin Can Knits patterns are awesome), but because I was a new knitter and I was still figuring the whole knitting thing out. By hook or by crook I finished the hat and then realized it was too big. It probably would have fit a giant perfectly. I stuck it in the washer and dryer and hoped it would shrink some…no dice. So I threw it in the bottom of my stash and started something else. I was really sad though. I had spent so much time (and a decent amount of money to me at the time) on this hat, only to have it not fit. I knew it was my fault because I wouldn’t take the time to swatch…but it still hurt, and from time to time it niggled at my brain.

handknit beret

I did a few google searches and found out that I could sew elastic thread inside the brim to tighten it up, so I bought some elastic thread and set to with gusto. I got halfway through hat surgery and tried it on to see how I was doing, only to find that now my beautiful hat was too small. The Horror! The Irony! The knitting goddess was really trying to beat this lesson into me: For the love of wool, swatch before you start! (For the record, I swatch pretty religiously now. I still dislike it.) I threw the hat and elastic back in the stash and there it has stayed for the last 4 1/2 years.

sew elastic thread into knitted brim

Today I pulled the hat out and found the elastic, determined to fix the darn hat once and for all. First I loosened the elastic I had already sewn in, then I sewed elastic into the rest of the brim. 30 minutes was all it took. Why did it take me 5 years to do 30 minutes’ work? Next time I need to amend my knitting remind me of the 5 year hat.

handknit beret

Finished Object: Autumn Entrelac

Last time we talked I was beavering away on my entrelac scarf. I kept it in my bag to knit on while waiting and on trips and in meetings (the kind where I join online and no one can see me. Alas, I have too many in-person meetings). Once I understood the basics of how entrelac works it was easy to pick up for a few minutes here and there. It’s just stockinette with the occasional decrease. It turns out that if you work on something consistently (even if consistently just means a half hour a few times a week) it eventually gets done. I’m pleased to show you my finished scarf.

I handspun the yarn over a year ago. My goal was fat singles, but the end yarn was a little more thick and thin than I really like, but there’s a kind of perfection in the imperfection, right? I can’t wait to wear this with a jean jacket this fall.

Learning Entrelac and Knitting Backwards

I’ve been meaning to learn to knit Entrelac for quite a while now, but I was always intimidated because of how hard I had heard it was. There are a lot of things in life that we are told are hard. But some things that might be hard for me might be easy for you, or vice versa. In most cases I find that things are often easier than they seem. All it takes is a willingness to learn and some good old-fashioned practice.

A year ago I spun 545 yards of somewhat thick and thin singles yarn. I chose the fiber because it reminded me of the Arizona sunsets of my childhood, fading from yellow into orange into red into deepest purple. I took bits of each colour and added them to the larger sections of the other colours so the skein would hold together a little more cohesively, then I spun my heart out. Ever since then, I’ve been wondering what to do with this gem of a skein.

handspun yarn

A few weeks ago I was hanging out at the yarn store (as you do) and entrelac came up in conversation. A trusted spinning friend pointed me toward Allison LoCicero’s excellent (and free)¬†Entrelac Scarf¬†pattern so I, too, could learn to knit entrelac. After a bit of a false start I am happy to say I can now knit entrelac pretty smoothly. About the 2nd row I got really tired of turning my work every 8 stitches, so I thought about how a knit stitch and a purl stitch were formed and taught myself to knit backwards. It’s a little awkward at first, but once you get used to it, it’s really not that bad.

I can’t wait to see how this scarf comes out. I have a feeling it’s going to be incredible.

knitting entrelac

Finished Object: Squircle Socks

Hello, there, lovelies! I have been a busy bee and finished some socks! I started the Squircle Socks on Thanksgiving Day last year as my husband drove us 2 hours to his grandparents house. The project stayed in my bag as a “just in case” project for a long time, and I’m not a very prolific sock knitter anyway (I once knit a pair of man-sized socks in 2 weeks and hurt my wrists so bad I couldn’t knit for almost a month afterward. Not doing that again). The yarn is Knit Picks Felici in Mint Chip, which is sadly no longer available. This was my first time using self-striping sock yarn. I can’t believe I hadn’t tried this before! It was so ridiculously fun! The pattern is a little involved and asks you to do a little math, but it was a really fun and interesting knit.

If you want to explore different sock styles and like a bit of a challenge, I would highly recommend the Squircle Socks.

Me Made May: Year 2

I participated in Me Made May again this year. My making has slowed down considerably in the last 6 months, so my goal was the same as last year: wear 1 handmade garment or accessory every day. It’s interesting to see how many garments were the same as last year, but also how many were different.

Garments:

Of course I wore my grey Alabama Chanin dress. This dress has become one of my go-tos: I feel good in it and I always get compliments. I also get a lot of wear out of my orange tunic-dress. It’s super comfortable and easy to wear for a lazy day at home.

I have 4 handmade sleeveless tops now: 2 self-drafted, and 2 Wiksten Tanks.

I don’t wear vests a lot, but when I do, they need huge awesome collars. Some handmade lace for a back cutout doesn’t hurt, either.

It’s debatable whether socks are garments or accessories, but I figure since they enclose a part of your body and have to fit, they should be included as garments. I wore my Slytherin socks and my Watermelon socks throughout the month.

Having handmade undergarments has been a real boon for those days when everything else was dirty or didn’t seem to go well together.

sew1

Accessories:

My office is really cold. As in, ‘wear socks and shoes (not sandals) and a shawl and a sweater and fingerless gloves’ cold. So I wore shawls a fair amount this month. My Granny shawl drapes perfectly and stays on effortlessly, and I also wore my wedding shawl and my most recent pattern release, the Balai Shawl (free pattern here).

Some days I didn’t feel like going all out, so I accessorized with my Kumihimo necklace or a ribbon rose hair clip. Simple, but effective.

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New:

I’ve been working on several projects this month, but most of them aren’t finished yet (oh the life of a crafter). I did manage to finally finish my wool crepe vest, and I love how it turned out! It’s big and comfortable and the fabric is oh so lovely.

Easy as Pi

I don’t know about you, but this has been the hardest April I can remember. In fact, I dont think I’ve ever experienced such a difficult start to the year. In December I got a promotion at work. I was in a job I didn’t like, and now I have a job that I enjoy a lot. But the job comes with more responsibility, and with responsibility comes stress. Cue knitting to save my sanity.

A few months ago I finally bought the Knitter’s Almanac. I walked through Elizabeth Zimmermann’s fabulous “unventions” and sage advice, and decided that now was the time to cast on a Pi Shawl. Sometimes you start something and you’re not sure why, but it just seems like the right thing for the time. This shawl is what my brain and my heart have needed over the last few months. I sit down to work on it and it helps me to slow down and stop worrying. The yarns are beautiful and make this knitting a very tactile experience.

Earlier this month I got a call that my grandma was very ill and might not make it for much longer. I bought a plane ticket, packed a bag, and went to be with her. This shawl was such a comfort as I travelled and sat in waiting rooms. I showed it to her and she thought it was so beautiful. And then as she started to recover I knit on it in joy, so pleased that I was not knitting in mourning.

So often in my knitting I try to be smart. The easy solution or the obvious solution are not good enough, I have to do it the hard way. But sometimes I need something easy so that my brain can stop working on overdrive. That is what this shawl is for me.