Wednesday, February 29, 2012

All aglow with a new an old scheme!

I blog on impulse. And today's impulse is courtesy of my morning reverie, a near perfect recall of the words uttered by the world's most cinematically perfect Henry Crawford, actor Alessandro Nivolo (what a swoon worthy name! "Run mad as often as you choose, but do not faint!"):


The story is Jane Austen's Mansfield Park. The movie is the much maligned 1999 remake. The line comes at the perch of the movie's climax. Henry informs Sir Thomas Bertram, alongside the family assembled in the airy drawing room, he is "all aglow with a new scheme." He wants to move to the Mansfield Park neighborhood so that he may exert all his energies wooing the ostensible heroine of Jane's final novel, Miss Fanny Price.

It is just one of many deliciously delivered lines in the movie. To be fair to those ardent admirers of the textual Fanny Price, Patricia Roczema's screenplay does hack her up considerably. I find my ability to stomach the movie ebbs and flows based on the time elapsed since I've last read the book. Yet if one can ignore the Fanny mess, there is much to enjoy because most all the other characters are faithfully drawn from the fabulously acid pen of our dear, dear Jane.

So what is my scheme?

Long story long, I received a tragically horrible hairdo Friday. No amount of rational acknowledgement of my average, aging face and perennial lackluster physical form has ever mitigated an untoward well of vanity for my spare hair. So, no I don't have nice hair, yet I am as vainly obsessed with it as with anything but yarn.

So it's Friday. Enter the tragic hairdo. Me driving home throwing a real live temper tantrum in my car, yelling and screaming, damning my hairdresser to the raging bowels of hell. Crying myself hoarse. Saturday morning, hungover from the fugue, I go in search of the only thing that can soothe my cracked vanity: YARN!

As always I hope for a yarn that will inspire me. I receive more than I expect:

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Malabrigo Arroyo in the Glitter colorway


It fits my current obsession for browns and fauns. I buy six skeins, I won't be running out of it any time soon. While I plug away on my "one" active project - another pair of waving lace socks, a first time knit with the artist formerly known as Sanguine Griffon's Bugga - I can swatch away with the Arroyo to my heart's content. A yarn to satisfy every new scheme springing forth from a restless mind.

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

By jove she's done it!*

Yes. I have designed a shawl. Fer realz.

Last weekend I worked out the kinks in the final chart of The Sheltering Bough and knit 'er on up. The end product is satisfactory, all the stitches in the right place. Not bad for a freshman effort.

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Now I have to get off my guff and do the really hard work: generate a pattern.

More conventional pics may be found on my rav project page.


*She, as in my first instinct is to not use a first person pronoun.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Sheltering Bough

I'm working on a hybrid shawl pattern that has the shape of Ysolda's Ishbel (which grows wider at a faster pace than it grows deep) and the easy, soothing fir cone motif that makes Evelyn Clark's Shetland Triangle such a fun knit. The pattern has been appropriately named The Sheltering Bough.

I'm using Madelinetosh's madtosh DK yarn in Badlands:

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I tried first using some of that new DIC cashmere smooshy I recently picked up but once I got to the lace section the fabric's touch didn't feel right. (Now that'll be a lot of knitting to frog, but) I'm glad I found the guts to abandon it and go with the madtosh DK.

This is a colorway I never would have purchased online. It's charms only became apparent to me when I looked at the skein in person, up close.

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The color is very reminiscent of her Cove colorway. The blues in the Cove are still there but of a much deeper hue. As well, the blue is a foil for the numerous shades of umber. The inverse of Cove:

Long Beach Scarf
Long Beach Scarf in madosh DK colorway Cove (lighter set of skeins)


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Olive Sands raglan sweater in madtosh DK colorway Cove (darker set of skeins)


Maybe, just maybe I'll be done with this this weekend. Maybe.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Things other than obsession...

The past week my life has been consumed by two passions, a new shawl pattern and Katniss Everdeen. I'm not ready to explore these obsessions here, though. I'm just looking to do a little housekeeping.

Saturday, I finally polished off the thumb gussets for these pretty fingerless mitts:

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Any Yarnissima fans might recognize the lovely coiny cable from her Firestarter sock pattern.

Visually speaking, there is nothing more striking than twisted cable knit stitches, especially when they are tiny. These are not tiny, but still extremely striking to this knitter's eye.

This project was a quick, fun gift knit. I used about 80% of one ball of Quince & Co's Lark yarn (colorway above is Peak's Ferry). I forgot to weigh the leftovers, so an approximate yardage isn't at my fingertips. One ball has 134 yards (the ubiquitous 50 grams). As per usual my kung fu grip when knitting small items in the round meant that my gauge was conspicuously tight, even using jumbo size US8s/5.00mm circs.

Mitts like these knit up so fast and are so versatile, it seems like a knit failure on my part that I don't have a pair in each color of the rainbow. I should gosh darn it. My problem is that that every time I get the impetus to knit a new pair I seem impelled to reinvent the wheel.

Last year I came up with a little design using a DK weight yarn I picked up at the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool, my Barn Booster mitts:

Barn Boostesr Handwarmer Mitts


Barn Boostesr Handwarmer Mitts


Barn Boostesr Handwarmer Mitts
Long Ridge Farm CVM/Romeldale DK in Red Rooster


Instead of just popping out a hundred just like this, I spent a good portion of the Fall trying to transpose the 24 stitch double leaf lace motif to a worsted weight canvas with middling results:

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Cascade 220 colorway 9442 - Sherbert


Eventually I returned to what did work and knit a second pair like the Barn Boosters as a gift that never was gifted:

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Loopy Ewe Sold Series Fingering in Sand


These have a very loose gauge. They make one feel 200% prettier just putting them on. Sort of like when you find the perfect dress to wear to a summer wedding. Anything feels possible wearing these mitts.

But back in the real world, I have been stuck trying to find the best knit thumb. I seem to keep referring to the problem as the gusset, but the gusset is simple for me. I have taken to using mirrored, invisible increases in adjacent stitches.

Solving the thumb problem is something I am very motivated to do. It is skill that I feel will add a great deal to my knitting . Once I master it, that is.



Saturday, February 4, 2012

Consistency...

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines" ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

One of my biggest pet peeves is inconsistency. Although there is little to compare the roar of a stormy ocean when bored you are, in daily life I crave the waters of a calm crick buffered by woods. Ralphie boy belittles foolish consistency, but I can't stop myself from taking offense as if he snubs all forms.

Case in point, I've really been proud of my recent FO record. I attribute my productivity to a slavish single WIP policy. Since my proclamation of pride yesterday my resolve has lost all shape, like a sandcastle that has met it's first wave.

This inability to remain consistent pisses me off. Luckily looking at yarn helps.


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madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in Faded Chinos


I'm rounding the bend on a pair of fingerless mitts and my mind just wants to cast on five zillion things before I finish them off. So no more calm, no more perfection, I am succumb to chaos and gluttony and self-recrimination.

I really take my knitting seriously. Really seriously. I'm okay with taking it seriously. But I'm not okay with the recriminations. How do turn my disrepair into something good? I think I just have to say fuck it and cast on willy nilly, with abandon, with gusto.

So what do I want?

I want to knit a large shawl with a worsted weight yarn. Exactly one month go I finished a large Ishbel in my second favoritest new yarn, Brooklyn Tweed's Shelter:

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colorway Almanac


This has become my most favorite shawl ever. The size and shape create the perfect drape. It has a wingspan of a whopping 91" and is only 31" deep. The tweedy yarn is a pleasure to contemplate. It's worsted heft keeps me warm and brings me comfort.

I want a hundred of these, but as it's my fifth Ishbel, I'm kinda a bit over the pattern. I also don't have the money to buy more Shelter, and even if I did I'm really in the mood for a softer, smoother touch for my next worsted shawl project. The yarn I'm trying to settle on is:

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Madtosh DK in Burnished


(This is not a DK weight yarn by any means.) This yarn has been burning a hole in my stash for some time. I knit 2/3 of a sweater with it that fell to the great Fall Purge 2011. I think it would make a lovely shawl.

In lieu of my great love of the Ishbel pattern's half circle shape, I have been trying my damnedest to recreate the same with other lace motifs. I don't have pictures of my latest attempt using the fir cone motif, and I'm not entirely sure it'll work, but my gut is telling me to throw caution to the wind and just knit it. What harm could there be? I can always frog it.

When I say the yarn I'm trying to settle on above, what my problem really is is that I'm dying to knit some of the sport weight cashmere blends I've been stashing lately. Like this yarn:

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DIC Smooshy with Casmere, Evening Flame colorway


My photo doesn't do it Justice (yes, with a capital J). This yarn is beckoning me. As is a desire to do a little colorwork. Neither this yarn, nor the colorwork has presented itself as a whole idea. I'm just itching to knit.

So, I think it's time to bid adieu and go figure out how to make my messy muse happy...

Friday, February 3, 2012

Something to say...

The question is do I really have something to say? The answer? Questionable. Is it worth saying? The answer? Questionable.

But there is yarn.

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Madtosh DK in Badlands


But then there's always yarn, amirite? (We have a new kitty who actually likes hanging out with us humans. His name is Isaak. He loves yarn, too.)

I think the problem is I have too much to say. So my best bet when I'm overwhelmed is to break things down. So what's interesting about my knitting lately?

1) I found two new yarns I just love to death;
2) I've been extremely FO successful now that I've put down the law on having only one project on the needles at any given time; and
3) I've been struggling with making my knit design ideas flesh.

So the new yarns? OMG! I finally found a solid yarn that I want to knit. It's a fairly new regional yarn company called Quince & Co. The line I've knit with is their worsted line called Lark. Here's a prototype sock I designed:

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colorways Carrie's Yellow, Twig, & Glacier


This sock knit up faster than you can say Carrie's Yellow.

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Anyhoo, the yarn is labeled as American wool, and it's the first 100% non-merino wool I've knit in a long time that my hands have just fallen deeply in love with. It has the most cushy, sticky touch. Not a candy apple sticky, mind you. More like what a Spiderman sticky would be, if Spiderman was, like, real. It's dense and cushion-y and sticky. Oh yeah, I'm sure Quince is gonna run right out and hand me a fat contract to run their PR.

I just finished a Pup's Tent Hat with some more Lark. The recipient loves it:

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colorway Peak's Ferry


Now I'm knitting fingerless mitts for a second colleague.





 

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