WIP Wednesday: Too many things on the needles!

It’s official: I am knitting too many things simultaneously, and as a result, I seem to be getting very little accomplished.

Solemate Sock-and-a-toe

Solemate Sock-and-a-toe

First, there are the Solemate socks that I started for the Ravellenic Games. I finished the first sock and cast on for the second, and then I got distracted by the felted slippers. Yep, Second Sock Syndrome has hit hard here.

And then there are the afore-mentioned Felted Slippers, which I have now knit twice. I am hoping that the third time is the charm, but honestly, my track record here is pretty bad, so I’m wondering what’s going to go wrong this time…

Scalloped and currently sleeveless...

Scalloped and currently sleeveless…

The Scalloped Lace Toddler Cardigan is still waiting patiently in my knitting bag. And the toddler in question needs me to finish this soon, especially because then I can work on the other project I had planned for her this fall, a cabled sweater jacket that will hopefully carry her through those cooler fall days.

Cathy Sweater-in-progress

Cathy Sweater-in-progress

And then there is the Cathay sweater, for which I took the Tahoe sweater from Knitty as inspiration and then proceeded to change every single thing except the original yarn. (Yeah, I’m a pain like that.) I knit it at a slightly tighter gauge, added bust and waist shaping, added sleeve shaping, and plan to finish off the yoke using Elizabeth Zimmerman’s seamless set-in sleeve. Which reminds me, I still need to spin the yarn I plan to use for the trim around the neck and buttonband…

And those are just the projects that are currently in progress. I’ve also got swatches for the cabled sweater for my daughter and a cabled vest for me.

I either need more knitting time or a 12-step program…

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I felt bad

So… about those slippers I made for my daughter… The first set I made was a bit too small, but (since I had a large amount of Patons SWS in my stash) I decided to knit up another pair. I finished this pair while we were on vacation, despite having to improvise a bit on needle size. They languished in my knitting bag while I was catching up on our post-vacation laundry, but yesterday I pulled them out and decided to do something about them.

Slippers, Version Two

Slippers, Version Two, Pre-Felting

I felted the first pair in the sink. It took a loooooong while, but I finally got them to felt up. In fact, they felted up a bit too small! For the second try, I decided to do something different and try felting in my washing machine.

We used to have a top-loading washing machine. When I made slippers for my son, I used it to felt them. I could open the top and check out the felting process as I went along. Worked like a charm. But then that washer died, so we got a new high-capacity, high-efficiency front-loading washer. For everyday washing, it’s great. Low water usage, gentle on clothes, yadda yadda. But for felting? Hmm. I read on Ravelry that you could felt in a front-load machine, but that it took several cycles. So I put the slippers in and selected the highest-temperature wash cycle. This machine is electronic, so instead of setting the time/temperature/etc. manually, you pick the type of cycle and the machine adjusts accordingly. Again, great for everyday washing, but a bit tricky for felting. The highest-temperature cycle is also the longest cycle, but the washer is so gentle on clothes, I thought it would be okay. (You’re laughing and rolling your eyes now, aren’t you? You should be!)

Rumor has it that you can open up a front-load washer during the cycle and the water level will be so low that it won’t spill out. I tried this out once and got suds all over my laundry room floor, so I wasn’t about to try it again. I threw in some towels and turned the washer on. When the cycle was finally done, I fished out the bag with the slippers in it. They had felted. In fact, one of them had felted closed in the middle of the foot! And everywhere they had creased in the washer, they had felted into a lump. So I had two small, lumpy, misshapen slippers, only one of which would actually hold a toddler’s foot.

Felted Slippers, Take Two

The too small, the too lumpy, and the too much like a coaster

Yes, I’m going to knit her another pair. In a bit. I’m still feeling a bit grumpy now though!

Pack your knitting first

Today is the first day of school here. My son is grumbling and packing up his new school supplies, but like many moms, I’m looking forward to the start of the new school year. Especially since my youngest will be attending preschool for two mornings a week, which means that I will have two whole hours to myself, two mornings a week. Yes, my first stop will be at my LYS. How did you guess?!

The last couple of weeks have been crazy. In addition to all the back-to-school errands, we snuck away for a family vacation (from which I brought home a lovely stomach flu souvenir, sigh). We made our annual pilgrimage to my parents’ vacation home on a lake in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. It’s a lovely, peaceful place. We sleep in (well, as much as the kids will let us!), take long walks, and go swimming and canoeing. My husband and son did a lot of fishing in the lake and caught enough keeper-sized fish for dinner one evening.

I, of course, brought plenty of knitting to keep me busy while our youngest was napping. I had the second Solemate sock to finish, as I had gotten distracted from my Ravellenic project by the felted slippers for my daughter. The first pair of slippers were a bit tight on her, so I cast on for a second pair, which I brought with me. The project I most hoped to complete during the week was the Scalloped Lace Toddler sweater, but at the last minute, I also threw in the Cathay yarn I’d purchased for a Tahoe sweater. I didn’t want to be caught “under-yarned” as the Yarn Harlot says!

The key words in that last paragraph are “at the last minute.” I’m the chief packer for my family. My husband packs his own clothes and the fishing gear, but I’m in charge of pretty much everything else. This means that I pack clothes for myself and the kids. I pack toys and activities to amuse them. I pack the not-insignificant amount of gear that you need with a toddler. I plan the meals we’ll eat and decide what we should take with us and what we can buy up there. There’s no washing machine, so we pack our own sheets and towels, plus beach towels, etc. You get the point; it’s a lot of stuff. And I’m always worried about forgetting something vital, so I made lists and triple-checked them. So the end result is that, although I thought about what knitting projects I’d want to take with me, I didn’t actually pack any of them until the morning we left.

I realized my first mistake before we’d been on the road an hour. I pulled out the slipper I was working on and discovered that, since I’d been working in the round, I had two different size tips on my circular needle. Which wouldn’t have been a big deal except that I was ready to begin working the heel flap, which is worked flat. D’oh. I contemplated changing the tips around at the end of every row and decided I’d rather just poke myself in the eye with one of them. I dig around in my bag and came up with an empty size 6 circular needle. I was using a size 11 (8mm) needle for the slippers, so I figured I could make two wraps for each stitch on the size 6 (4mm) needle and come up with the same approximate gauge. A size 5 probably would have worked perfectly, but I made do with the size 6, as the slight gauge differences will vanish in the felting process.

Once I’d finished the slippers, I reached for my next project, the scalloped lace cardigan. I carefully removed the waste yarn from the sleeve stitches and put them back on the needles. Then I picked up stitches from the underarms and resumed working in the round. I worked up to the point where I needed to work the first color, and then I reached in my bag. You guessed it; I had every color but the one I needed to use first. Another d’oh!

I worked on my sock for a bit, but I was really craving a larger gauge project that I didn’t need a magnifying glass to handle. (I really missed my knitting chair at home, which has a convenient reading lamp just over my right shoulder.) That left the Cathay sweater. For this project, I had actually remembered to bring both the yarn AND the needles I needed. Thank goodness! I was able to knit a second swatch, calculate all my stitch counts, and cast on for the bottom hem. I had a nice chunk of knitting time in the car on the way home, and have been making good progress in the evenings since then. Now that school has started, I might even be able to sneak in a bit more knitting time during the day. A girl can dream, right? Of course, I still need to finish the Scalloped Lace Toddler Cardigan, now that I’m home with my missing ball of yarn…

Think of me as your public service announcement: If you’re planning to travel, pack your knitting projects first!

The best laid plans….

I finished my first sock. I’m pretty happy with it, but I’m going to make a few tweaks with the second sock (make the toe and heel a tad narrower, make the gusset a bit smaller, and make the cuff at the top a tiny bit tighter). I was all set to cast on for the second sock when a little munchkin stole my sock and put it on. (It came up to her thigh.) When I tried to get it back, she pitched a fit and refused to give it back, insisting that she needed a sock, too. So what’s a mom to do?

Well, first I tried to distract her by offering up a store-bought sock. She’s no dummy, though, so that approach was doomed from the git-go. I had no choice by to grab some pretty sock yarn and cast on for a sock. Only that wasn’t going to turn into a sock fast enough for my munchkin, so we went to Plan C:  Felted slippers.

Before felting, on foot

They’re a little big, Mom…

A few years back, I knit up some super-quick socks for my son and felted them in the washing machine. Sweet kid that he is, he looked doubtfully at the gigantic socks I’d made and said, “I love them! They’re a little big, but that’s okay, Mom.” He was pretty surprised when they felted down to fit him. 🙂

Slippers, before felting

Before

The munchkin was equally skeptical about the slippers, but she did think the splashing about in the sink part was pretty fun (we have a new front-loading washer, and I wasn’t sure I could felt them enough in there). They actually felted up a bit too much, so I have a feeling I will be knitting up another pair soon. That’s okay; they are a seriously quick knit. I knit up the first slipper while watching the Olympics Friday night and knit up the second Saturday night.

Slippers, after felting

After

I actually felted them a little too much. (Who knew? Score one for elbow grease!) I also used a short-row heel without adding a gusset, so it’s a bit of a squeeze to get your heel in. (I’ve been kind of obsessed with them lately, so I slapped one in there without thinking about it too much.) Felt slippers usually stretch a bit, though, so I think they may be okay in the long run. I still need to paint the bottoms with some puff paint to make them a little less slippery.

Now, about that second sock for me

WIP Wednesday: Olympic Edition

I admit it: I’m a total Olympics junkie. I’ve been glued to the TV since the opening ceremonies, and I’ll probably be there until the closing ceremonies. This isn’t too good for the other things I need to accomplish in life, but it’s great for my knitting!

Ravelry has an event called the Ravellenic Games (formerly known as the Ravelympics until the USOC informed them that they had trademarked the -ympics suffix; I’m going to go trademark -ing and -es, so I should be set for life). I hadn’t planned to participate originally, since my summer schedule is so crazy. But then I got the bug, so I starting looking around for a project that I could cast-on and complete in the two-week Olympic period. I gave serious consideration (and massive swatching) for a cabled vest in some heavy-weight (i.e., quick-knitting) yarn, but then my Olympic fever came up against my other illness: Finishitis.

I have so many projects around the house, in varying stages of completion, that my husband mutters under his breath about “decorating with yarn.” (Really, isn’t that a brilliant idea?!) But fall weather is coming, bringing along a whole bunch of other projects I want to knit, and so I’ve been getting a bit anxious about all the unfinished projects that are still lurking about here. Hence, a bad case of Finishitis. It’s a Good Thing, though: In the past two weeks, I’ve finished up both my Linen Stitch Scarf and the Pinkerton Shawl (pictures to follow, as soon as I have time to photograph them properly).

Solemate socksBut back to the Ravellenic Games: When I was talking with my friend Carla about them, she said she was considering entering the “Sock Put” (an event name that made us both giggle). So when they lit the torch on Friday night, I picked up my Lorna’s Laces Solemate socks and got to work. Since I’ve been making this pattern up as I’ve gone along, much ripping and re-knitting has ensued. But I’m more than halfway up the leg now (working from the toe-up) so I’m hoping to bind off tonight or tomorrow. The second sock shouldn’t involve nearly so much frogging, so I’m hoping that one will go faster!

In the off chance that I get the socks done before the end of the games, I’ve got a PolarKnit hat that I need to finish, and the Scalloped Lace Toddler Cardigan is still lacking arms.

Are you working on a project for the Olympics? Or the Ravellenic Games? I’d love to hear about it!

Knit for Brains

Man, I need one of these t-shirts!

Knit for Brains T-Shirt

Check out this shirt and lots more cool stuff, over at DecorNoir on Etsy.

 

Friday Funnies

Another winner from Worsted for Wear!

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Thrashing About

In the computer world, the term “thrashing” is used when a computer is swapping information in and out of memory so much that it can’t make progress on the task at hand. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of knitting on a lot of projects but not finishing anything, so it feels like all I’ve been doing is thrashing.

I’m making progress on the Pinkerton Shawl. It’s a good tv-watching knit. (My husband and I finally got around to checking out the PBS series “Sherlock,” and we’re totally hooked. Gotta track down season 1 on DVD now.) Each row is shorter than the last, so (in theory at least, even though it doesn’t feel that way!) the pace is picking up.

I added the other side of the buttonband to the Scalloped Lace Toddler Sweater… and it was too long. I picked up exactly the same number of stitches as I did on the buttonhole side, but it looks longer. Pondering whether I need to frog it and pick up fewer stitches (and if so, should I redo the buttonhole side, which seems fine?), or do I try to block it out? Nothing is ever easy, especially where my knitting is concerned…

I even pulled out my Linen Stitch scarf the other day, which I haven’t touched in months. I had a lovely knitting playdate with a friend (our kids played, she and I sat and gabbed and knit; bliss!) last week. She was working on a lovely linen stitch scarf using multiple strands of lace weight cotton yarn. It’s worked lengthwise, and you swap one strand of yarn out at a time, so it slowly transitions from one color to the next. Inspired by her scarf, I pulled out my own linen stitch scarf. I had about 12g of yarn left, and each round uses about 1g of yarn, so I only had about 10 more rounds to go before I could bind off. But man, these rounds are slow. The ball of yarn doesn’t seem to be getting any smaller, and if it wasn’t for my yarn scale slowly counting down the grams, I’d feel like I was stuck in an endless loop, knitting the same row, over and over and over.

I do feel a strange compulsion to finish something (or several somethings!) right now, so I think a case of Finishitis might be in the works. With any luck, I’ll have at lesat one finished object soon!

Random Knitting

I’m leaning toward taking all of your suggestions and keeping the buttonband in the purple. (Because I like the way it looks, and also because it means I don’t have to rip it out and redo it. Laziness! Efficiency!)

Pinkerton - half doneSo in the meantime, I’ve been bouncing around a bit. I picked up my Solemate sock, knit a couple of rows, and put it down again. Then I picked up the Pinkerton Shawl and finally finished the stockinette portion of the pattern. It’s a fabulous mindless knit, perfect for watching movies. My son just finished reading the first Harry Potter book, so we curled up on the sofa this afternoon to watch the movie. Now he wants to watch the second movie, but he’s got to read the book first. (‘Cause I’m the Mommy, that’s why!) Next up is the mesh lace portion, but I’m not sure that’s as compatible with the German short rows I’ve been using, so some swatching is required before I continue. (The yarn isn’t quite as purple as the camera on my iPad insists that it is.)

And because I’ve still got a serious sweater jones (not to mention a sweater stash that’s quickly reaching critical mass), and because it’s just too hot to contemplate wool, I dug deep into the stash and pulled out some Debbie Bliss Cathay (sadly now discontinued), a cool cotton/rayon/silk blend, and worked up a quick swatch.

As is often the case with me, there’s a story behind this yarn. It was the first sweater’s worth of yarn that I ever bought. I’d seen the Tahoe Cardigan in Knitty Spring 2007, right after I first took up knitting. It looked like something I’d wear, and it looked fairly straightforward for a new knitter, so I added it to my Ravelry queue. And then I went to my LYS during their semi-annual sale, and lo and behold, Cathay was on sale. I scooped up ten balls. I showed the pattern to a woman at the LYS, who didn’t read it very carefully, and steered me toward a 100% cotton worsted-weight yarn for the trim. I got home, read the pattern again, and realized that it was nowhere near right for the trim, so I ordered some yarn online. That yarn was comparable to the yarn used in the pattern, but I just wasn’t in love with it, so I set it aside for a bit, and knit a simple pullover with set-in sleeves. It fit me well, but I didn’t like the seams at the top of the sleeves, which simply felt too bulky in the worsted weight yarn I’d used for the sweater. So then I decided that a super-drapey yarn like Cathay should have a drapey, seamless construction.

And there the project paused, until I discovered Elizabeth Zimmerman. I read Knitting Workshop and thought, hmmm, seamless set-in sleeve, that’s what Tahoe needs! But I had too many other things on that needles at that point. (Cough, yes, I still have too many things on the needles right now, but it’s too hot for wool, so that’s my excuse.) So I knit up a gauge swatch this afternoon. When it’s dry, I’ll measure it and start crunching numbers. As EZ’s patterns are more like recipes, I fully expect to make loads of adjustments as I go. (And yes, I know that seams stablize knitted fabric. I will probably need to add a bit of hidden crochet inside, once I see how the fabric stretches.)

I’m still not sure what I’m going to do about the trim. I bought some silk hankies a while back that would make a neat contrast to the Cathay. I love the idea of using some special handspun yarn to finish it off. (I already have the perfect buttons, made from sea glass, which I found on Etsy, my go-to button source!) Failing that, though, I do have loads of sock yarn, so I am sure I could dig up something. But for now, I have a sweater’s worth of summer-weight yarn to knit with, so between Tahoe and finishing the toddler cardigan, I should be able to survive the next couple of months until cooler weather arrives and working with wool yarn becomes appealing again!

WIP Wednesday

Man, I love knitting for babies and little kids. These projects go fast!

Scalloped Lace Toddler Cardigan

I finished the body of the Scalloped Lace Toddler Sweater the other day. I love the way the colored scallops worked out. Perfect for a little “girly girl,” doncha think? (Although I will admit that I’m somewhat less enthusiastic about weaving in all of the ends!)

Flower ButtonsI found some perfect buttons on Etsy (again from Tessa Ann).

I’m not sure about the button band, though. I originally planned to do an I-cord button band in white. Then I thought about doing it in the same pink as the top scallop. Then when I got to the end of the body and still had the purple yarn attached, I thought I’d use that instead. But now I’m back to thinking that I might like buttons better against the white. Hmmmm. Anyone have any opinions on the subject?

Sweater with buttons