Tuesday, October 21, 2014

There is Brown...

and then there is brown.

Brown happens to be one of my favorite colors, although I am not quite sure what exactly that says about me or my personality.

I just like brown.

Below is a new design in its final stages of test-knitting, as this is one of three on various needles from Texas to Minnesota.  All I will say is that these are five different colors of Malabrigo's Rios in Coco, Teal Feather, Sunset, Ravelry Red, and Glazed Carrot.  Perfect for the fall season!

Below is the progress on the husband's Ranger in different shades of Madelinetosh's Vintage in Fig. More details on that knit here, but in a nutshell, I was short on yarn for this project. I had some skeins from a few years ago, the color has since been discontinued, but I was able to find two more at Jimmy Beans Wool.  When the new ones arrived, they were much darker than the old ones, so I decided to use the new, darker skeins for the cuffs, collar, and button band.  What I did not realize until I pulled out all of the old yarn to cast on for the second sleeve is that one of the old skeins was much lighter than the others.

There was a "what to do, what to do" moment or two upon that discovery, but ultimately, the best course of action appeared to use it for the second sleeve.  I could have alternated skeins for a stripy effect, but decided against it because the one skein was enough for the sleeve and I did not want to have to continue any kind of stripes onto the body. I hedged my bet knowing the heavy texture of the fabric design would help mask the difference.  Besides, how often are the right arm and left arm adjacent to one another (crossing arms, yes, but the husband does not often do that). 

Finally, I convinced myself that this was a casual sweater.  The only time he wears his other handknits is on the weekends when it is really cold and his typical t-shirt uniform is not quite enough to keep the chill at bay. I have yet to seem him venture forth in public with anything more than handknit socks.

Moreover, I even asked him, and he said it looked fine.

So, I have continued on. 

The yarn and fabric are lovely to the hand. The textured pattern is instantly memorized.  In all, this has been an easy and enjoyable knit.  It would probably be done by now, if I were not dividing my time between the day job, the household duties, my daily yoga routine, the new design above, and this contraption:

(Please forgive the mess that is currently my dining room!!)

This is a weaving loom. It is a Schacht 25-inch 8-harness table loom in dire need of a stand.  She's a bit naked at the moment and desires to be dressed.  I partially dressed her yesterday with a narrow bit of linen. She performed beautifully or as well as could be expected, as she was working with a total novice, but we were able to produce a whiff of fabric:

Please don't laugh.

I know it is a very sad little piece of fabric with embarrassingly poor selvedges, but with virtually no instruction (other than YouTube and a book for the warping), I am somewhat amazed I was able to produce anything.

On Sunday, Wee One and I are scheduled to take a Beginning Weaving class. Although it will be on a rigid heddle Cricket, it is a start.

In the meantime, I shall attempt to dress the lady again in Noro for a proper scarf.  

Oh, as I name most everything, she is Vanessa. 

Lady Vanessa Schacht.  

Intimidating as hell.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Christmas Knitting?

Knitting for others is always tricky.

Taste and fit are very personal, so, if it is not a beanie or a scarf, I usually inquire as to pattern and yarn choices.

Thus, there's very little surprise knitting going on at Casa del Feisty.

Input is very important.

In addition to the Ranger Sweater for the husband, I have the next couple of projects ready to go for the girls.

First up is Bedford for the older daughter in a yarn whose name I shall not mention, but note that I have 17 skeins that I no longer believe equal 1,700 yards, but 20% of that or 1,360 yards.  As the pattern calls for 1,245 yards, I think I will be fine.

Secondly, Winnie is a sweet little cardigan for the Wee One.  I love the stripes and the younger daughter chose lovely colors. However, I must note that it is knit on US 2 needles with fingering weight cotton yarn.  Hmmm... I do really like the swatch...  And, it needs buttons.

While my Breckon is not Christmas knitting as it is for me and I started it ages ago, back in March, I would like to get it done in time for the cooler weather. Both sleeves are complete, and I have about seven inches into the conjoined fronts and back, as they are all knitted at the same time to the armholes.  It *is* really lovely.

Never at a loss for projects, I swatched for the Highlander today.  It is a cardigan/jacket with a lovely textured pattern. I have no idea when I will ever get to it (there are three super secret new designs that I also have on the needles!) But, it is nice to dream, no?  I even found the most superb buttons to work with it!!

Speaking of buttons, I found the perfect Breckon buttons, too:

As they have a flat mirror-like surface, it is really hard to see their iridescence (for the wordsmiths out there it is also known as goniochromism).  They actually pick up the colors in the sweater beautifully.

For the keen eye, one might notice that the back (which is splayed across the top of the two sleeves) is more purple and less fuschia than the sleeves.  I bought four skeins of Yarn Carnival's High Wire in Amaranthine.  Three of the skeins were the darker purple and one was lighter with more pink.  I opted to knit the sleeves in lighter skein.  Once I cannibalized my swatch, I had just enough out of that one skein for both sleeves.

Looking at this now, I really want to pick it up and finish it...

But, I have oodles and scads of not-so-secret-Christmas knitting to accomplish, and it is already October! 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Better than before

Okay, despite the disappointment of the Classic Elite Waterlily yarn not working out, I have regrouped.  Moreover, I think I have come up with something far nicer than what was originally intended.

For the last four years, I have had this MadelineTosh Vintage in Fig in my stash.  In all, I had 1,800 yards, and I was saving it for a cardigan for me.

When I went back through my stash to find a substitute for the Waterlily yarn I had originally selected for the husband's Ranger cardigan, I was a little concerned about using it because in his size, the pattern called for 1,730 yards and I knew I needed to make it 2 1/2 inches longer to accommodate his long torso.  70 yards was cutting it a bit too close to my liking.

An online search revealed that the Fig colorway had been discontinued, but Jimmy Beans Wool actually had two skeins available.  Because MadTosh dyes these in small batches and my yarn had been languishing in my stash for four years, I had little hope that  they would actually match.

It was not a surprise then, when the yarn arrived, they did not.  In fact, there was a HUGE difference in colors; however, I had a thought:  What if I used the new skeins, which were significantly darker, blacker, and more grey on the cuffs of the sleeves, the hem of the body, the collar, and the button bands, as an accent?

I didn't know, but I thought it was worth a try.

The ribbed hem is 2.75 inches deep, so, at the very least, I could make up the shortage in increasing the overall length by 2.5 inches by using the darker yarn for the body hem, right?


Well, I am thrilled with the results in the sleeve above.  I love the darkness of it with bits of golden brown here and there.  No, the yarns are not a match. The original looks very much like the color of figs and the new looks like the dry and rotting outer band of old cut wood, but I think they compliment one another beautifully!

Overall, I much prefer the browns for the husband over the original blue-grey of the Waterlily.  Now, the MadTosh is worsted and the Waterlily is Aran weight, but I got gauge with both. The MadTosh is just a far superior yarn.

Bottom line:  I could not be more pleased!


Sunday, October 5, 2014


Last night I cast on a sweater for the husband.

The pattern is Ranger by Jared Flood.

My  yarn of choice was the discontinued Waterlily by Classic Elite. I have 20 skeins in a lovely grey-blue called Wedgewood.

This is a yarn I have used several times and I have loved the colors and springiness of the yarns.

I made four sweaters just last year with this yarn.

The thing is, each and every time I have used this yarn, it has taken far more yarn that the respective patterns have called for. Fortunately, I tend to buy more than I think I will need.  The pink cardigan above used four more balls than the pattern called for.  I had them, but I had less than five yards left, when I was done.

The whole yarn shortage thing with this brand puzzled me.

For the Ranger sweater above, the pattern calls for 1,730 yards.  Each ball of Waterlily is supposed to be 100  yards.

As I was knitting on that sleeve last night, I had a weird feeling.  Two balls into the sleeve and it was not half-way done.  

At first, I dismissed the feeling that I was going to run out of yarn because I had 20 balls, each 100 yards for a total of 2,000 yards, when the pattern only called for 1,730 yards.

This afternoon, a friend and I went made a quick trip to Tinsmith's Wife in Comfort to retrieve a design sample from the shop, and I expressed my fear of running out of yarn on this project.  I also mentioned how each of the four times I had used the yarn before, I always used more than the pattern called for.

When we returned to my house, I pulled out the yarn and showed her how far 2 - 100 yard balls had gotten me on this sleeve.

We ended up weighing the remaining balls.  They are supposed to weigh 50 grams, but not one of them did.  Several were 47 and 48 grams.  One weighed 49.5 grams.  

Laying a yard stick on the kitchen island, I measured the 49.5 gram ball...There were 79.5 yards to that ball...NOT 100 yards as written on the ball band.  So, at most, I had 1,590 yards of yarn...NOT the 2,000 yards I thought I had purchased.

It was not my imagination that each of the projects I had previously knit had used more yarn than expected and more than called for in the pattern, each of the balls were short by 20%.

I shall let you draw your own conclusions as to what I really think about this.  The immediate issue is that I simply do not have enough yarn to knit the above sweater...

No wonder they discontinued this yarn.

Suffice it to say, Classic Elite is now off my list of yarns on which I will spend my money.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Mean Green

As a yarn collector, I rarely go out and buy yarn for a specific project, which means I have an abundance of sweater quantity yarns silently waiting for the perfect project.

Sometime last year, I bought several skeins of Alisha Goes Around Zeal of Zebra fingering weight yarn (a merino silk blend) in light green.  While I actually had a project in mind when I purchased the yarn, the swatch said it was simply not meant to be. So, it languished.

In January, I returned to the Lucky Ewe, where the initial purchase was made, in hopes of finding enough of the same yarn to knit it doubled, i.e., two strands of fingering, at a worsted gauge.  That story is here. I ended up picking up additional skeins of Alisha Goes Around Tracks of Bison fingering (a merino bison blend) in a darker green.

When I swatched them together (a strand of each), I got a gorgeous mottled green springy fabric that was a worsted gauge. There were several cardigan possibilities from my queue, but none of them seemed quite right, at least, until Julie Hoover's Crosby pattern was released last month.

The second I saw the pattern, I knew it would work perfectly with my green yarns.

What do you think?

My gauge was spot on!

More importantly, the fabric was just what I wanted, light, airy, and springy to the touch.

The pattern is perfectly written, although there were some special instructions for the sloped bind-off that were omitted in the version I received in Ravelry, but the designer sent them to me in a message.

The only other issue I encountered was with the button band.  The instructions state to pick up stitches from the right side of the fabric, knit two rows evenly, then begin the button hole row on the right side. 

That did not really work out.  If you pick up stitches on the right side, then the first row you knit is wrong side row and the second row is a right side row...ergo, one cannot begin the button hole row on the next row, which would be a wrong side row.

It was no big deal, I just picked up stitches purlwise on the wrong side of the fabric and continued with the instructions as written.

In all, the pattern is excellent and a joy to knit.  So much so, it practically fell off my needles with very little effort. I cast on September 9th (that may have even been the day it was released) and finished yesterday October 3rd.

The cables and twisted stitches may appear intimidating, but they are not. The pattern is easily memorized.

I am stifling the urge to knit another one in red...

Monday, September 15, 2014

A Wee Cardi

Neither of my daughters ever really asks me to knit anything for them.  Usually, I come across a pattern, show one of them, and inquire: "Would you like me to make this for you?"

This is just one example.

Six or so months ago, the younger daughter and I were in a book store. She needed something for school, and I waited at the magazine rack eyeing the knitting-related ones when this cover caught my attention:

The sweater was quite striking and looked age-appropriate, as in hip enough for a thirteen-year-old.

She agreed.

Once we returned home, I ran down the yarn used and allowed her to select what color she wanted. While it was Classic Elite yarn, it was called Woodland and described as 65% wool and 35% plant fiber, as in nettles...  Hmmm.  But, I ordered it anyway.

When it arrived, it appeared to be a single ply with a characteristic thick/thinness about it, but it was not particularly soft to the touch.  Immediately concerned, I swatched it anyway, hoping it would soften with soaking.

It did...some, but it is not something I would a) want to wear next to my skin or b) ever want to work with again.  Not surprisingly, Classic Elite has discontinued the yarn.  A good substitute would probably be Malabrigo's Silky Merino or Manos' Maxima.

The pattern is delightful!

It was very easy to knit from the bottom up to the arm openings. At that point, the sleeves are knit and attached to the body with nothing more than the yoke remaining to complete the body.

Were I to knit it again, I would knit the pockets first, then attach them at the bottom as I was knitting the body. I had a hard time getting the bottom seam on the pockets perfectly straight.  In fact, they are not perfectly straight and that bugs me...but, the child is pleased.

So much so, she begrudgingly agreed to a photo shoot:

This actually buttons quite nicely in the front, she just elected not to do it.  Speaking of buttons, she picked out the perfect vintage glass ones from my stash:

As to the fabric, she said it is soft enough and does not itch, but we shall see if she ever wears it...

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Meet Luke!

He is a vintage green glass head.

The story begins, as it often does, with one of my daughters spying something in a yarn shop that she might like to have.

In this instance, it was a beret pattern:  Koigu Beaded Beret by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas.

Of course, with any interest from my nearest and dearest, I bought the pattern, along with the yarn and beads she selected, and carefully tucked them all away.  That was three years ago.

In need of a simple and quick project, I rooted around my stash and only just discovered them again.  Two days later, we had a beret.

Yarn:  Liberty Yarn Sockenstein in "Montol."

She was delighted or as delighted as a thirteen-year-old girl gets.  Moreover, she expressed that these might make nice Christmas gifts for a few of her friends...

  Yarn:  Spud & Chloe Fine in "Snorkel"


Yarn:  Abstract Fiber Temptation in "Springtime."

Yarn:  Wool Candy Meringue Merino Sock (I have no idea the color...I lost the band...)

Yarn:  Blue Ridge Yarns Footlights in "Dragon's Breath."

The pattern is lovely and easy, probably a two or three hour knit.

Even better, Luke did not complain about not using his "good" side, re-takes were not an issue, and he had no difficulty holding perfectly still as I fiddled with the head gear.

A good head is really hard to find.