Polar Prep

For a lot of Wisconsin/Illinois/Minnesota residents last winter was a test of patience, stamina, and good old fashioned Midwestern stubbornness. The term ‘polar vortex’ was born and those who experienced it firsthand grew a new layer of already frostbitten skin. Throughout the summer I’ve run into people already complaining about the potential cold of the coming winter and they’ve run away from me in shock and horror when I respond with “I actually really enjoyed the cold last winter.”

Strangers don’t know the context of my liking of the cold weather and generally if you aren’t complaining about the weather in the Midwest you are seen as inhuman. Of course negative thirty degree temperatures are awful and undesirable but those days also gave me a few weeks of excuses for why I would rather stay home knitting and drinking coffee from the comfort of my bed.

IMG_20140906_191720Through these last couple of months of summer I have been prepping for the coming winter by both making garments to be worn in the event of a polar vortex sequel and building a stockpile of supplies to keep me entertained.

This extra wooly vest is made from my souvenir yarn from my trip abroad to Ireland. It is from Kerry Woolen Mills and is delightfully rustic and insulating. The flecks of blue and red tweed against the base purple color add warmth in a visual sense while those colors are complimented by rich leather buttons. The pattern ofIMG_20140822_165835 the garment itself is one I made up as I went along, my first wearable personal design of something other than an accessory. I love its simplicity because it lets the yarn take center stage and as a souvenir piece it personifies my trip to Ireland. I cannot wait to don it over a flannel button up this winter and have already picked out the outfit I will wear with it on the first really cold day of the year.

Apparently I am in a purple groove these days as my three most current projects deal with the entire purple spectrum. I am nearly halfway through with Hillary Smith Callis‘ design Hawkes. It is a youthful pullover with tons of IMG_20140906_155033texture. I’m using Berrocco Ultra Alpaca so the resulting piece will be beyond just warm. This is a really simple pattern and the broken rib texture is a test of my patience at this point but with four inches of the body left to go I think I can make it to the end of the piece. Plus, I know the work and slight tedium of one by one rib stitch rows over about 180 stitches will be worth it once it is blocked, dried, and tried on.

I have a few more sweaters for myself in the works, a sweater for my boyfriend and socks and hats for us both yet to make this winter. I don’t know if I could squeeze all that making into the coming season unless there is to be another month of paralyzing chilliness so bring on Polar Vortex Two, because I have work to do.

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In A Funk

I haven’t picked up a needle, a spindle, or a hook for over two weeks. It has been a really long time since I went this long without some sort of project in my hands. Since New Year’s my life has been a little out of sorts and is finally reaching some normalcy now that I am back in my own space at school. Though I’ve been able to achieve some normalcy I am once again completely bummed out because I am at school. I can’t stop thinking about all the work that is ahead of me this semester and how far away graduation seems at this point. Being bummed out and anxious about work really puts a damper on my creative outlets. This apathy towards crafting has in turn forced me into a quiet blog spell, something I hate to have happen. To chase away the blues I’m going to pick out a few pieces that I hope to make once this funk goes away.

Grover’s Mill-Kristen Kapur Designs
Grover's Mill

I love the cabling on this sweater. It is the perfect combination of simple cables making it a great mindless but still impressive knit.

 

 

 

 

 

Uniform Cardigan-Madder Made
uniform

This cardigan is a gem. A wonderful, cozy, customizable gem. I fell for this pattern when Karen Templer of Fringe Association posted about it a bit ago. I’ve been coming back to the calm neutral photos ever since.

 

 

Iberian Discovery-Stephen West
Iberian Discovery

West’s designs are great because they are full of texture and unconventional design elements. This one looks entertaining and like it would be a really cozy finished product if it was made in the right yarn.

 

Now it is time to force myself to knit a few rows to see if it will cure me of the funk. I’ve got my fingers crossed.

Silky Smooth

DSCN9888 (2)I mentioned in my last post that I purchased some pieces of pure silk to spin at the Knitting and Stitching show. I have spun up the silk caps and spinning silk is by far the weirdest facet of fiber arts that I have experienced. From peeling apart the silk layers to drafting the sticky fibers, silk has got to be the most fascinating fiber at a spinner’s disposal. I love how organic and natural it feels while I spin and the glistening yarn it produces is really satisfying to see as a product of the effort put into it. I did a lot of pre-drafting with the cap layers so the thickness of the single is somewhat uniform but there are quite a few places where the silk wanted to spin thicker or thinner and I just let it happen. I’m not really aiming for any specific type of yarn with this fiber I’m just enjoying the experience and letting the silk tell me what kind of yarn it wants to be. I’m going to start on the silk brick in the same colorway soon and I’m really excited to see how this type of preparation effects my spinning.

DSCN9847 (2)On the knitting front, I started and completed some more Christmas knitting. It is a simple raglan pullover for my little sister. She is incredibly thin and tall so hopefully this women’s small won’t look too ridiculous on her! (sorry about the photo, I’ve yet to block this piece) I used the pattern Brick by Clare Lee as a base and added a few mods.

 

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I’ve also begun another sweater for my mom. Hopefully this one will be more suited to her tastes. I’m using Shapely Boyfriend by Stephanie Japel as a base and modifying the length of the body, length of the sleeves, and adding a shawl collar. I’m about a third through the body if you can’t tell in this mess of a photo.

25 Days

DSCN0678The second sweater in my Christmas gift sweater project took me a grand total of 25 days to create from start to finish. Okay, technically its not quite finished, it needs to dry and then have its buttons put on but it is close enough. Slade was such a simple knit that the pieces of the sweater took me only two weeks to complete. The real challenge was in the finishing. The collar with, 258 stitches, took me ages to complete and don’t even get me started on the seaming. I despise seaming, especially the armholes! All things considered I quite like the finished piece and can’t wait to see if it looks as nice on my dad as it does pinned out on my bed.

Thankfully the next sweater I’m going to make is of the seamless top-down variety, my favorite!

The Ultimate Sweater

Boden_10_medium2Today I stumbled upon my dream sweater whilst partaking in my usual morning Pinterest exploration (its like reading the newspaper for me). I rarely make anything for myself but I absolutely MUST indulge my selfish side after I finish my Christmas knitting and make this. It is called Boden by Amy Miller and looks to have been recently released. I love her other designs as well but this sweater is her finest work. It is simply constructed and thoughtfully crafted to maximize its timelessness.

I’m a sucker for a hi-lo hem and the shlumpy but chic shape of the piece really makes me want to curl up with a cup of tea and a good book. I also really love that this cozy sweater could be transformed from a slouchy cuddling at home piece into a great casual date piece with the addition of some sleek skinny jeans and heeled booties.

In other knit news I’ve finally completed my boyfriend’s socks! I’ll have him send me a picture of him wearing them once they are delivered to him. I’m also onto the fifth and final piece of my Slade sweater. This weekend will consist of finishing that piece, blocking, and picking up the collar stitches. Hopefully I’ll have a finished sweater to show you sometime next week!

What are you working on this weekend?

Catching Up

Last week my good friend Lara joined me in Galway for a weekend of exploring, pub hopping, and sweater shopping. Lara was a German foreign exchange student at my high school when I was a junior and over that year we became great friends and it was so exciting to reunite with her after three years of separation! We spent some time in Galway and then embarked together on a journey to Dublin for a couple of days. We had a fabulous time catching up, walking around the city, and eating amazing food.
The next time I will be in Dublin will be for the Knitting and Stitching Show!

On the knitting front, thanks so much for all of the lovely comments on my last sweater post! I want to update you all on my latest progress on Sweater #2 Jared Flood’s Slade. I have chosen this yarn.

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It is an aran weight charcoal toned tweed. It is 75% acrylic and 25% British wool. The resulting fabric is really fun but still very sophisticated and smooth. So far I have finished the back and left front pieces of the sweater with the right front soon to be completed as well. I can’t wait to see this piece all worked up! I’m a sucker for simple cardigans.

DSCN0668I’ve also managed to make some major headway with my socks in progress (for my boyfriend). I mainly knit on these whenever I am away from my home base so they have been knit with stolen time between classes, at my knit group, and at cafes alongside a pot of tea. They have been a lovely companion project that I can rely on to entertain me when I have some down time. They also have been in progress since the day I left the US so I am ready to complete them and ship them to their recipient.

Dedicated Knitting

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This weekend marked a milestone. I finished my first Christmas jumper! It is the Zephyr that is intended for my mom. I began this piece on September 6 and finished it on September 28. Unfortunately I don’t think this sweater is going to fit just how my mom would like it to fit as she prefers baggy and shapeless so this close fitting cardigan might not be the best fit for her. I am planning on making another very simple, very comfortable cardigan for her. Apologies for the shoddy photos, my apartment is sorely lacking in the natural light department.

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Even though I have finished a sweater I still have three more to go. I love the process of sweaters so I’m not too sad about the lost effort. If she doesn’t like this piece then I get to keep it so it works out either way. The yarn I used is  silky smooth and is like wearing a big hug.

I also started and completed a pair of little fingerless mittens for my brother for his birthday. Before I left for Ireland he gave me back the yarn I had bought for him to learn to crochet with (I taught him how to chain and that is all he wanted or cared to know how to bub mittsdo) and asked for me to knit him some mitts because the first pair I made him were wornout. I can hardly deny a request for a knitted item especially if its to replace a well loved piece! These will be hitting the post as soon as I can find a box and some chocolate bars to go along with them.

Today I am yarn shopping for my Dad’s Christmas sweater, Slade. I hope to get started on it tonight and aim to finish it in three weeks.

Knitter Dreams

After a horrid day of walking in the cold wind and rain and then realizing that the sweater I am a quarter done with isn’t going to quite fit its recipient I decided to spend the evening dreaming instead of ripping out what I have done or altering it beyond the original pattern.

First off, I have studied the Dublin Knitting and Stitching homepage extensively this afternoon and I could not be more excited. I was planning on just going for a day but I may have to break out the big bucks and stay for both Saturday and Sunday. I can’t wait to see all of the galleries and of course the miles of exhibitors. I’ve only been to one other fiber-y event (Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago) and it was marvelous. This show seems to be on an entirely different scale so I cannot wait to see what it has in store.

Somehow I’ve also managed to spend a copious amount of time on Pinterest today scouring boards for cozy items to add to my already gigantic queue. Here are a few of my favorites.

Cool Winter Cardigan by Anna and Heidi Pickles

luhie

Shibui-Shift

shift

PipiBird’s Frosting

collar

Clearly I’m still in a neutral toned frenzy. My heart is begging me to make a baggy saggy garment to curl up in during class but I know I have to finish my unselfish knitting first! Also those cables are the essence of winter wear.

Anyways, that is enough dreaming for now. I need to go solve my sweater problem before it turns into something even more unfortunate.

Double the WIPs and One FO

When I first began knitting I had so many WIPs it was hard to keep track of everything. In the last year I’ve learned to be a monogamous knitter as I’ve found that focus is the best way to learn new techniques on new projects. But of course I had a relapse back to my old ways. I currently have a pair of socks and a sweater on the needles. In my defense the socks are my travel project because who wants to travel with a quickly growing sweater?

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Socks for Austin
Pattern: Tracks by OzKnitter

I love the subtle leg ribbing throughout these. It adds some interest without being as time consuming as the all over 3×1 rib socks.

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Mom’s Zephyr
Pattern: Zephyr by Tori Gurbisz

This is my first contiguous method sweater and so far I am pretty entertained by the construction. The puzzle of figuring out something new really gets me hooked on a project so I’ve been able to make a lot of progress rather quickly on this one.

DSCN0148My latest finished object are these wool socks. They are my second pair of hand knit socks and first pair for myself. I used a classic 3×1 rib pattern and Brown Sheep Nature Spun Sport. I absolutely love wearing them! Though tragically after wearing them to bed the other night (Irish nights are a bit chilly) they came out in the morning all pilled up. I’m not really sure how they came to be this way but they still function as toasty socks so I will continue to wear them!

Let The Sweater Knitting Begin

Here in Galway, the weather is cold, damp and downright fall like. The cooler it is the larger the knitted pieces I want to make. While everyone I know at home is suffering through 100 degree plus weather I am enjoying a drizzly extended stay in one of the many knitter paradises around the world.

I promised my family I would make them all sweaters this year for Christmas (or birthday in the case of my sister) so it is time to begin. Within about three and a half months I have to knock out two adult sweaters and one brother sized sweater along with a couple of pairs of socks.

My family just moved to Wyoming so they are going to be needing some extremely warm sweaters to combat the fierce winds out there. These sweaters should do the trick since they will all be knit from a 20% Irish wool 80% acrylic blend yarn. They need warmth, durability, and machine washable capabilities so this yarn should work just fine.

Here are the sweaters I am going to be making.

For my Mom: Zephyr by Tori Gurbisz in a similar taupe color. This should be quite versatile and layer-able.

zephyr

For my Dad: Slade by Michelle Wang in a heather-y black or deep green. The new Brooklyn Tweed collection is the best smattering of men’s patterns I have ever seen. If I had the time I would make all of the pieces for both my dad and boyfriend.

slade

For my Brother: Shapely Boyfriend by Stephanie Japel in a deep green color. Of course this is going to need a lot of alterations to make a suitable boy’s sweater. There are next to no simple boys cardigan patterns available so I will be using this as a base.

boyfriendBEAUTY_medium

Then if I have time I’d love to whip up this simple pullover entitled Brick by Clare Lee for myself in a cream Irish tweed.

brick

This list is pretty ambitious but I’m hoping they will all go quickly thanks to the worsted and aran yarn weights they call for. Now to head to the yarn store and pick up my materials!