Sunday, March 22, 2015

The weekend

This is all I have to show for my weekend:  a pair of sleeves for the Maxfield Cardigan and a clean dog with freshly shaved face and feet.

If I knew how to spin, I might just consider giving that poodle fleece a go, but fortunately for all involved, I am not!

Remy is not happy, but he is clean and pretty again!

P.S. I am a pretty lousy dog groomer, too.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Reassessing that stash thing

For the past two-plus years, I have made a deliberate and concerted effort to down-size the stash. While I can plead that it was taking up too much space or I was not in love with all of it anymore, in truth, the primary motivation was an attempt to get from under the guilt of having so much yarn.

The initial destash went well with me pulling everything out for a thorough assessment. With my queue list in hand, the first pass required me to pair yarn with patterns,and I ended up with enough yarn to complete 34 sweaters, 14 of which were in MadelineTosh alone.  No, there were not all for me, either.

On the second pass, I petted and fondled all that remained and pulled out only those skeins that the thought of parting with made me almost want to cry.  (Slight exaggeration, but I think most knitters will understand.)

The third pass had me trying to convince myself I needed one or more of the remaining skeins, so I just stopped.

In all, I had decreased the size of the stash by a third.

Those that did not make the cut were parceled out to my knitting friends.

That was well over two years ago.

In the meantime, I made a concerted effort to knit down the stash.

At present, I am slightly less than half of what I had.

That is actually a good feeling, especially, as I have bought yarn here and there for projects that were knit immediately.

This has lead to a realization of what I want my stash to actually be.

There are a precious few knitters who are completely stash-less.  They seem to be mostly monogamous knitters who operate with one project, maybe two, at a time, and they purchase the yarn they need for a specific project as they go.

While I marvel at them, I know I will never be a stash-less knitter, nor do I want to be.

My goal is to have enough yarn on hand to be able to approach my stash when I am in the mood to begin something new and let a special skein of yarn tell me what it wants to be, whether that is a shawl, socks, or a sweater.

However, tastes and needs change over time.

When I began buying sweater quantities of yarn (and yes, I am talking about you, my MadTosh stash), I was in love with the colors and quite concerned if I did not buy it when I saw it, I would never see it again or find anything remotely similar to the beauty in front of me.  I also had three hand-knit sweaters to my name.  So, I admit, I may have gotten carried away a bit.

At the moment, I have a couple of dozen hand-knit sweaters, and the harsh reality of South Texas in the winter is that there are a good five or six days in which I can comfortably wear them, particularly the worsted ones.

For me, there is a balance here between having just enough yarn on hand to fulfill the desire to start a new project the exact nanosecond that desire strikes and not having too much yarn that I become burdened by it.

There is a third compelling argument for keeping a large stash, but in an attempt to be reasonable, I will merely acknowledge the ever-present threat of a knitting emergency when the world has gone to complete hell and yarn, gasp, is no longer readily available, and state:  I am not planning on that particularly contingency.

The big question then becomes, how has this systematic stash down worked for me?

The good news is there is satisfaction in using what one already has.

The reality is, unless I still want to knit the pattern with which the particularly yarn was originally paired, I have problems.

Case in point:

A couple of weeks ago, I decided I wanted to knit the Maxfield Cardigan by Amy Christoffers.


(The back story to this decision involved a yarn shopping trip with friends to Tinsmith's Wife in Comfort.  We came across some gorgeous Pebble Worsted by Black Trillium in a deep dark purple, as well as some lovely variegated contrasting skeins in the same yarn. Being a dutiful enabler, I completely convinced one of my friends to buy the yarn and immediately gifted her the pattern.  Not one to leave her high and dry, a knit-a-long was in order, so I dove into my stash...)

Initially, I did a stash search of yarn the appropriate weight for the pattern, and came up with a strong contender Grignasco Merino Gold dk:

The gauge was perfect! The only problem was I did not have a contrasting variegated yarn to go with it in the stash.

At first, I thought I could pair it with some Malabrigo Arroyo, a skein of which I had in black to swatch with to see if the slight diameter differences would still work. The thought was to find a variegated color after I swatched with the black.  It did not work. The Arroyo was a tad too thin.

With nothing else to swatch with, I had to take a chance and try to find a yarn online that would work color-wise, as well as yarn-wise.

I eventually decided to go with Koigu Kersti. It was a long several days wait to receive the package, but as soon as it arrived, I immediately cast on to swatch again. 

Unfortunately, the color was slightly different from what had appeared on my monitor and the Kersti was a good bit thicker than the Grignasco...

Diving into the stash again, I found some black Valley Yarns Northfield set aside for a cardigan for the Wee child.  While I was not going to re-purpose this stash item (she promises to wear it, if I knit it!), I thought it would work well with the Kersti.  It did, sort of.  The gauge was perfect, but the color combination was slightly off.

To make the sweater using what I already had (meaning now the just purchased Kersti), I had to turn around and order more Northfield, this time in Navy Blue.

It came in, but instead of swatching, I simply cast on.

Both yarns are lovely, and I am pleased with the result; however, had I set out originally to purchase yarn for this project, these would not have been my first choices.

The irony?

These purchases were made when I tried to use the stash on hand.

Am I upset?

No.  The Kersti yarn is not something I had tried before, and it is delightful to work with.  I do like weight of the Northfield and Kersti together and anticipate getting a lot of wear out of this sweater because it is a cardigan and it is, of course, lighter weight than the worsted and Aran sweaters I have.

The lesson for me here: I should not try to supplement something new to make do with what I have in the stash.  If what I have works, I should absolutely use it!  But, if it doesn't, I must find something I love that does.

In the meantime, I will continue to find projects in the stash, while I cultivate a list of hand-knit worthy friends who can make good use of really nice (I am talking to you, again, MadTosh), heavy sweaters.

Anyone else have issues with their stash?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

I still knit!

Just over a week ago, a couple of friends and I went to Tinsmith's Wife in Comfort and Lucky Ewe in New Braunfels. Among us, many yarn, project bag, and fiber purchases were made!!

In my haul was two skeins of Black Trillium's Pebble Worsted in "Red Maple."

Initially, I cast on for a cowl, but I was not loving it.  A quick glance at Raverly and I discovered Doomsday Knits, which had a pattern for a hat called I was a Teenage Mutant.  I was immediately sold...a few hours later:

I *LOVE* this hat!  In fact, I weighed it and have enough to make two more...maybe.

In a shop across the street from Tinsmith's Wife, I found a handcrafted boat shuttle I decided I could not live without. So, there is also some weaving going on.

Anyone else excited about spring?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

On the loom

The husband is an avid fly-fisherman and GRTU (Guadalupe River Trout Unlimited) board member. Trout Fest is happening this weekend. To support the cause, he asked me if I would be interested in donating something to their silent auction.  

After finishing a shawl to donate, I pulled some stash yarn out to warp for something fun.

I warped with the above Pigeonroof Studios fingering in Glinda Retuns (it was part of the Woolgirl Oz kits) with the intention of using the single-ply MadTosh merino in Coquette from the previous post:

However, as I was just a few runs in, a friend of mine sent me a link to cute little crocheted poncho in pink and yellow.

A peek at the stash revealed a lovely mango orange.  Pink and Orange works for me...

The orange also revealed a missed a warp; however, I was able to catch it and correct!

It is fun and interesting!

Now, I have just realized that I made a gross error in booking a $3.5K trip for my daughters to go to England for a couple of weeks this summer...The dates are wrong by a week...Apparently, I am too stupid for life...

Monday, January 26, 2015

Not the wisest decision...

The loom has languished most of the last month, but not through lack of desire, just a nagging feeling that I had made a very poor choice in warp.

I had this beautiful Madelinetosh Merino light in a gorgeous color called "Coquette."

I had visions of using this luscious singly-ply for a warp and black as a weft for an intricate pattern using all 8-shafts of my loom:

It took some time, but I prepared the warp and began threading the loom.  It actually took three of us (me, my mother, and the husband) to wind the warp on as one was needed to handle the tail, one to make sure the paper was straight, and me to keep it from felting as it when through the reed/beater.

That should have put me on significant notice that my yarn choice was poor.

However, we prevailed and before the New Year rang in, the loom was properly dressed.

New Year's Day, I began weaving and immediately discovered that despite threading it correctly and following the pattern specifically, the instructions for the above pattern, did NOT result in the same woven pattern.  It is simply wrong.  Flat...damn...wrong.

I checked the threading sequence five times, as well as the weaving pattern....

They simply did not match up.

This is what I got:

There's a pattern, yes.  The above is actually the second run at the pattern, as I cut the first out, convinced the mistake was my own.  It wasn't.

The above is a shot of the backside....It's a pattern. It is a pattern that matches another pattern in the book, but not the one I had intended to make.

This did not make me happy, as the mistake was not mine to own.

However, as I did not like the ridiculously long floats in the first picture, I was prepared (two weeks of sulking later) to cut my losses and just weave in an even pattern, using the lovely MadTosh for warp and weft to make a long, wide shawl.

Two hours in and a third broken weft later, I had to re-rethink my plan.

Using single ply for warp is a fool's errand.

For the second time, I decided to cut my losses, even though the even-weave fabric is nothing short of stunning!

There is just no way the warp will hold up long enough for me to make a shawl, it is coming apart with every beat of the reed.


Lesson learned.

The good news is that I can tie on to the existing warp and pull through the reed and heddles without having to thread each least, I hope I can, damned fragile, beautiful single ply.

Sunday, January 11, 2015


Breckon is the first finished project of 2015!!


Pattern:  Breckon by Amy Christoffers
Yarn:  Yarn Carnival High Wire 3-ply in Amaranthine

The pattern is extremely well written and easy to follow.  The lace and textured stitches are easy and stunningly beautiful!  As far as knitting goes, it was a fairly easy knit...there was just a great deal of knitting as this was light fingering weight yarn.

The sleeves, which I started with, were knit well within a week.

As the body is knitted with the back and both fronts combined, it was a bit of slog to get to 16" under the arms where the fronts were finally separated from the back.  From there, both fronts took an afternoon to complete, and the back another evening or two.

This actually came of the needles Friday night, and I gave all the pieces a lovely long soak and blocked them. They dried overnight.

Saturday morning, I seamed the shoulders and attached the sleeves.  That probably took about an hour, hour and a half.

However, the button bands and collar took the rest of the day to complete.

Instead of just steaming the additional knitting, I went ahead and soaked in all again, as I realized I needed to block it a bit more aggressively to fit me.

It was even more beautiful after the second blocking as the lace popped dramatically.

The yarn is beautiful.  It bled both times I soaked it, but the color does not appear to have noticeably dimmed.

The fabric is light and squishy with a good bit of warmth.  Perfect for layering.

I love it!

Friday, January 2, 2015

2014 Project Overview

Out of the 45 projects completed, here is a mosaic of 36 of them (Mosaic maker maxed out at 36):

Had I been thinking properly, I would have broken them into two separate shots, one for weaving and the other for knitting...

Maybe, next year!