YarnGeek

geekin' on yarn, parenting, & whatever else comes up.

Sunday

4

December 2016

0

COMMENTS

Knitting On

Written by , Posted in Blue Sand Cardigan, FOs, Knitting, Knitting Knatterings

The most oft-quoted Elizabeth Zimmerman phrase has been much on my mind during my knitting of the past almost-two-full-years – knitting that consisted entirely of the sweater that I just finished today, I should add – “Knit on, with confidence and hope, through all crises.”

hudson-bay-blanket-inspired-bluesand-cardigan_16042517734_o

I haven’t posted here (as I’m sure all three of you noticed) in that two year time frame. I had an entire post that I typed up purely for the catharsis of getting it out of my brain and down into words, but it will remain forever unpublished for a myriad of reasons I can’t get into here. Suffice it to say that the past two years of my life have contained more crises and upheaval than almost any other time of my life, and the stitches of this sweater were knit with very little confidence or hope.

I purchased the yarn for this sweater on a day when I was suffering more emotionally than at any other time except perhaps the death of my mother in February of 2002. (Sidebar: Why is it that everything terrible seems to happen in the darkest of winter? The purchase date for this yarn was also in February. Good thing my brother was born in that month, or I might consider it irredeemable.) I cast on that day in 2015, and whatever knitting I have done since has been on this sweater.

Separate of the emotional upheaval that prompted me to retail-therapy myself an entire sweater’s worth of yarn that day, was the idea for a version of the excellent Blue Sand Cardigan pattern that stole its stripes from the wool blankets of the Hudson Bay Company of Canada. While I’m not Canadian, my sister-in-law (and my brand new niece! Which, hi, I need to catch you up, I guess – I became an Auntie in August!) is; but my first affection for the Bay’s blankets sprang from the association I have to them as being fixtures on the beds at my maternal grandparents’ home on Griffith Lake in Delaware. So far as I know, Nana & Granddad got the blankets while in the UK for Granddad’s USAF assignment there working alongside the RAF – but regardless of where they got them, those blankets (and I think also several from the more-common-in-the-U.S. Pendleton company) lived on the twin beds in what amounted to a bunkhouse/guest space. I slept many summer nights and several Christmases’ worth beneath those blankets in some of the most family-centric, warm and cozy holidays I can recall in my life.

In any event, the stripe colors and pattern evoked exactly the sort of soothing comfort I felt sorely missing on the day I decided to knit this sweater, so that was the palette I went with when I hauled myself, shaking and still weepy, into Fibre Space in Old Town, Alexandria, determined to cast on and try somehow to make sense of the nonsensical.

CC4 for my Hudson-Bay-Blanket-inspired #BlueSandCardigan : Neighborhood Fiber Co. Studio DK in "Rock Creek Park". Not shown because it's not here yet: CC3: NFC Studio DK in "Woodley Park", which is a cherry red. #knitting #yarn Finally, MC for Hudson-Bay-blanket-inspired #BlueSandCardigan : NFC Studio DK in "Roland Park". Also a tiny baby swatch of the texture stitch from the sweater on US 4 needles. #knitting #yarn CC2 for my Hudson-Bay-blanket-inspired #BlueSandCardigan : the Fiberists Audubon Sport in "Au (gold)" #yarn #knitting CC1 for my Hudson-Bay-blanket-inspired #BlueSandCardigan: Neighborhood Fiber Co. Studio DK in "Georgetown". #yarn #knitting

(Not shown: the red yarn, because I couldn’t get hold of that until later on, and now I can’t find the image I took of the skein. Oops.)

From the dawning of that particular crisis, the aftermath and aftershocks of which I have been dealing ever since, I knit. Some days, just getting out of bed was triumph enough, and knitting wasn’t on the agenda. Other days, knitting seemed the only thing I was capable of doing without completely fouling everything up.

This pattern is SO. EFFING. COOL. Y'all, I can't even. #knitting #BlueSandCardigan

To a certain extent, it feels rather odd to be finished with this project after so long with it as my figurative and literal security blanket. It’s also a little bit scary, if you buy into the whole Like-Water-for-Chocolate idea that the emotions felt while crafting a thing are contained within the thing itself, because if so, this sweater should maybe be burned, just to protect people from the volume of misery wept into it.

BlueSand (on the Hudson Bay) cardigan progress: nearly done third of four CC stripes! #knitting

But either because of the time that has been spent, the progress that has been made within my life since it was begun, or just out of sheer cussedness, I DID put it on immediately after I cast off this afternoon – put it on, and wore it out to have dinner with my husband and daughter. No disaster yet befell us (unless you count the election, which I don’t), so I’m going to cautiously state that the sweater’s intent of comfort and security has outweighed the emotions of she who knit it as it came into being. Thus far, anyway.

Untitled

Can you spot below the error that The Wry Punster already knew was there without even having to see it? No, El, I didn’t fix it. I’m calling it a design feature, damnnit. 🙂

One...one pocket lining! Ah-ah-ah! (Complete with error. Oops. But eff it, it's a pocket lining, error is now design feature.) #bluesandcardigan #pocketlining #knitting #knit #hudsonbay

It’s a truth about crafting in general, and the needle arts in particular, that we are often as consumed by the process as we are the end result. Some people craft specifically because the process itself is the journey for them, rather than the thing reached at the end. Others have the end goal in mind as their only motivation for slogging through the journey in question. I don’t actually know for certain where I fall upon this spectrum, to be honest with you: I sometimes enjoy the process as much if not more than the end result, but there are other times when I want to skip past all the in-between bits to get to the payoff at the end.

So. Close. Y'all. #bluesandcardigan #bluesandcardi #knitting #knit #knittersofinstagram

Life is not like that in most cases for me – everybody knows the ending of that one, if not the method of its (hah) execution, and I’m happy to drag out the process of knitting this life one very slow stitch at a time, thanks. But this section I’ve been in for the past few years, in which that process has been so very painful…(metaphorical) mistakes, frogging back, re-knitting, pattern changes, supply issues…that part, I do sort of wish I could mitigate, or at least skip through to get to the bit where it’s okay despite all that got you there.

Untitled

But instead of skipping through those sections, which is a skill I haven’t yet figured out how to cultivate, I’ve been (very slowly) knitting on, one stitch, one section, on stripe at a time – both literally AND metaphorically. I don’t know what the end of this particular project (metaphorically speaking) is going to look like yet, but it feels like finally, maybe, it may turn out okay.

Untitled

I’ve made mistakes; I’ve adjusted the pattern; I chose my colors to fit the shape I was given. I ripped out, re-knitted, did-over, and kept on, crafting, as best I could through everything that came, the shape of the garment I was after. Sometimes I was curled on the couch in the sun, and the knitting was warm and cozy in my lap. Others, everything was a mess, including me, but the shape of the sweater was still coming out basically the way I needed it to.

Untitled

I don’t know how much true depth there is to this craft of ours – this one, or any other of the needlearts, really. I know that I come from a long line of women who have knit, stitched, sewn, quilted, and otherwise kept together the crazy yarns of their lives in garments they were able to wear with grace, if possibly not always pride.

For myself, I took EZ’s advice, and I knit on – if not always as proscribed, at least with determination and perserverance. My mirrors may be dirty, my surfaces cluttered – but when it got cold, I put on the sweater.

Untitled

I’m told that that’s what it’s for.

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Tuesday

6

May 2014

7

COMMENTS

Plus la change…

Written by , Posted in Blog, Bloggy Blatherings, Fotoposts, Knitting, Legacy, MDSW

It is, roughly, the tenth anniversary of this blog.

Oh, Internets. So many ponderings, so few recent postings.

This past weekend, I attended the 2014 Maryland Sheep & Wool festival. This annual event is a marker of sorts for the calendar of my knitting life, and although I can’t attend every year, there is that mix of familiar & new each time I go that triggers a sort of fibery nostalgia.

NanaKnits

Nana, knitting at speed & giving somebody epic side-eye

I grew up in a family of crafting women. Due to age gaps, I wasn’t able to become as close with my paternal grands as I ended up being with my maternal grands and great-grand, but both sides were knitters, stitchers, & needlewomen. My mother’s side in particular modelled the crafty life for me, from my great-grandmother (we called her Mom-Mom), who owned a yarn shop in Coatesville, PA called Celeste’s Yarns, through my Nana (Mom-Mom’s daughter) who organized knitting groups for the officer’s wives on base as they moved around the country for my grandfather’s Air Force work, to my own mother, who worked in yarn shops, wrote letters back & forth with her mother & grandmother discussing the finer points of cabled knitting, and who quilted, cross stitched, and did needlepoint like the women who came before her.

NanaAndMomMom

Nana, left; Mom-Mom, right. Mom-Mom seems to be wearing a hand-knitted sweater.

I lost my mother very early (she was 46) to fallout from dual auto-immune disorders, so I don’t have photos, as I wish I did, of her knitting, quilting, etc. Mama tried to teach me to knit a few times, but it never seemed to stick, though she did teach me to cross stitch, and tried to show me needlepoint. Mostly, I learned those needlearts by simply picking up projects & trying things, but my interest in crafting has definitely been a legacy I feel I inherited from the women who came before me.

I got married four months after my mother died. Just before she went into the hospital for the last time, she finished work on the final block of an album-style quilt she’d intended for my husband and me as a wedding gift. I’ve blogged about that quilt before (though it was on a previous iteration of the site & I’m afraid the photos have gone the way of the dodo; will take new ones soon) & it remains one of the more commented-on posts of this blog, I think because the idea of the legacy behind our crafts is one that resonates no matter what craft it is that any of us performs.

Lynn with baby Liz

Mama & me; Mama wearing amazing hand knit aran cardi

Mama died in February, we got married the first weekend in May, and I was pregnant with my daughter a year later. It was during my pregnancy that I asked my Nana to teach me how to knit, and so this Sheep & Wool time of year is a mental marker in a multitude of ways for me.

I know this blog has been terribly dormant, and I’m not sure what the future holds here. I don’t knit as often as I used to, and in fact my urges to write about my knitting have been lessened, and my need to document more of day-to-day life has been consumed with the more ephemeral social media like Instagram & Twitter. But I’m not willing to just give up, yet. I don’t even know if I have any readers left here anymore, but if you’re here, thank you for being with me for the last ten-ish years of my knitting & crafting & life journeys.  There’s no community like the crafting community, and I am grateful to have been and continue to be a part of it.

Love,

Liz/YarnGeek

Friday

18

October 2013

15

COMMENTS

Brightest Witch of Her Age

Written by , Posted in General

My daughter’s Hufflepuff sweater is complete but for blocking. It has a full Glamour Shoot coming on Halloween, but in the meantime, have the ends-woven-in last-test-fit image! The PigBear approves, despite lying down on the job.

Brightest Witch of Her Age

Sunday

18

August 2013

15

COMMENTS

Hufflepuff Don’t Care

Written by , Posted in Blog, Knitting

Hufflepuff don’t give a…

Hi!

My child has announced that she wishes to be a Hogwart’s student for Halloween this year, a declaration to which I latched on and with which I ran.

Being on a budget-enforced yarn diet, I went stash diving and turned up with a cone of grey Brown Sheep something-or-0ther (I suspect it was meant originally for weaving?), purchased in a bag of misc. yarns from a local thrift store years ago for what I think was four dollars.

Cone of Thrifted Yarn

So, body of the sweater taken care of, I commenced swatching August 9th, and came up at 6 sts/8 rows per inch on 3.5mm circular needles post-swatch-washing. I’d picked up Ann Budd’s fantastic Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters at the library, so the gauge was all I really needed to go to town making a Hogwart’s Uniform sweater.

This is a book I’m going to need in my personal library – it lists chest measurements for multiple child and adult sizes, then has charts at misc. gauges that you follow throughout as a recipe for knitting top-down sweaters. It’s brilliant, and has me pondering all sorts of the kind of basic sweaters my wardrobe likes best in a less daunting light.

Knowing from experience how swiftly my knitting mojo disappears, I took advantage of it and knit on, completing the shoulder shaping on the 10th.

Hufflepuff Sweater Shoulder Shaping

By the 16th, I’d picked up the front at the shoulders, knit the v-neck shaping, formed underarm shaping, joined, and begun knitting the body of the sweater.

Detail of v neck shaping

(I’m only being specific with dates in this case so I’ll remember later myself when I’m trying to figure it out. I’m always asked how long it takes me to knit things, and because I pick things up and put them down so often, I can never answer that question. This isn’t precise, but it at least gives me something of a gauge to go by.)

At any rate, last night I made it down to the stripes at the hem, and started the ribbing at the waist!

Hufflepuff Hem Stripes

(forgive the editing on that one; it’s an overcast day AND I keep forgetting the set the dang white balance on my camera, so I had to fidget with this like crazy to make it look right for the yellow in the stripes.)

So as of this morning, I am on the cusp of Sleeve Island and truckin’ right along. I’ve got a week of vacation to see if I can finish this thing in something like good time, but whether my mojo will decide to stick around that long is anyone’s guess. Short Attention Span Knitter Is Short of Attention.

Hufflepuff Sweater Progress

So tell me — where is your attention focused this fine weekend?

Friday

5

July 2013

4

COMMENTS

Spinnin’ (Right ‘Round)

Written by , Posted in Blog, Spinning, Startitis

The aqua-to-chocolate fiber is resting in an improvised skein on the back of one of my chairs, because my niddy noddy is currently broken:

Improvising a Niddy Noddy

This poor skein has three different plying types through it because I had absolute fail at “evenly dividing” the braid into three sections. I started with these three bobbins, whereupon it became clear that I wasn’t going to get the same length from each:

Plies in a row

Still, I kept calm and spun on, knowing I was likely going to have to fiddle with things to make the fiber go as far as possible. So the skein starts on the aqua end as classic three-ply, then shifts into a two-ply through the chocolate/looks-forest-green-y-but-actually-it’s-teal bits, and ending in a chain ply in the darkest coffee color section when I ran out of all but the largest bobbin, and here is where it ended up:

Skein in Training

Even given the fiddliness, I’m pretty pleased. No idea what I’ll do with it, though.

Suggestions welcome. 🙂

Spun gradient Fiber Optic

Meanwhile, I’ve begun a part of my massive backlog of spinning by tackling an ancient packet from Grafton Fibers’ fiber club. Maybe six? seven year stash vintage? The company changed its name to Dyak Craft at some point, and I don’t even know if they’re still around, though I hope so, since they dyed gorgeous fiber like this:

Wooly Wyrm

I have two of these bumps in this colorway, and at least two more in another colorway that’s more purples and plums than the indigo shifts in this set. At the moment, the first bump of this set is on the wheel, looking like a wooly wyrm:

Spinning the Wooly Wyrm

The plummy section of which looks like this on the bobbin as a single:

Grafton/Dyak fiber on bobbin

 

Are you spinnin’ right round (like a record, baby) on anything at the moment?

Tuesday

2

July 2013

1

COMMENTS

Coffee, teal, and chocolate

Written by , Posted in Blog, Spinning

Way back 2 Sheeps and Wools ago, I managed to get my grubby little hands on a braid of FiberOptic’s gorgeous Chocolate-to-Aqua gradient roving. I’d never heard of Kimber’s company or seen her work, but there was no way I could walk past her booth and not see the incredible gradient wools and shawls knit of yarn from same, without trying to get at least one for myself.

That was ages ago, but this week I finally began pre-drafting and spinning, on a rainy Sunday afternoon, coffee at my side.

CoffeeAndFiber

Realized belatedly that the fiber was pretty much a perfect match for my Liberty of London peacock coffee mug.

Insta Coffee And Fiber

At least I am consistent in my tastes? 🙂

What are y’all working on this Fourth of July/Canada Day week?

Saturday

11

May 2013

7

COMMENTS

Heartbreak

Written by , Posted in Blog, kitties

My dears, I posted about our family tragedy over on Liz², and used up all my words there. Even though knitblogs are all about yarn AND cats, I’m just going to link you there, because I can’t bear to read it all again. Probable Kleenex alert.

 

 

Wednesday

3

April 2013

0

COMMENTS

Springin’

Written by , Posted in Holidaze, Knitting, Lizard Ridge

Took a couple of days off last week to spend some stolen time with The Sainted Husband and Miss Plum, both home for Spring Break for our County (he as a teacher, she as a student), and you guys, it. was. blissful. You saw the blocking-of-blocks binge I went on, and more Lizard Ridge squares were knitted among Kindle app reading, spring cleaning, and family-hanging-out-ing.

Handmade Meets Tech

We’re getting one and a half minutes more sunshine each day, Spring is springin’, and it seems the long, deep depression that has consumed me the past…well. More than a year. Maybe two. ANYWAY it’s been a long one? And I think it’s finally lifting. Truly lifting, as opposed to just taking a break before surging back to kick my ass some more.

We prepped for the holiday with the help of the good folks at PAAS:

Rainbow Eggies

 

Thus began a weekend of all the rainbow egg consumption one family can possibly handle. The rest of our Easter weekend turned into a four day celebratory crawl from play dates to neighborly Easter-Egg-Hunts to a dear friend’s birthday party to a blissful recovery day of quiet and snuggling.

Pretty damn good, I feel. I’ll take it. How about you?

Thursday

28

March 2013

0

COMMENTS

Water, Pins, and Foam Make Magic

Written by , Posted in General

Blocking, y’all.

One of my fave colorways

I know knitters everywhere already know that this is gospel truth: Blocking is MAGIC. Perhaps most astonishing when blocking lace knitting, it’s still shockingly effective in every other gauge for making a garment/accessory/knitted item look and drape and feel its absolute best.

Blocking Dipped Infinity Cowl

Because I so often procrastinate on blocking the stuff I knit, I’m always surprising myself when I manage a marathon blocking session and see the befores/afters. So despite the fact that all knitters know (or should know) the beauty of blocking, it’s something I need to remind myself of now and then.

Is this blog-cheating, when I am showing you photos of things you’ve already seen the FO summary post for? Is blog-cheating a thing? Maybe. But you’re getting the pics anyway because come ON! LOOK AT HOW HOT THIS IS!

Lizard Ridge blocks. Blocking.

 

Awwwwww yeah. Wet wool, baby. You should get right down near that and smell the wafting fumes of good, damp wool. (unless you’re allergic, in which case, don’t do that. Let’s keep everybody breathing and not-itchy, shall we?)

Did you guys hear a primal knitter’s scream, though, a few hours ago? If so, that might have been me, discovering a bug-created hole in the grey section of that Lizard Ridge block, bottom of the photo, above. A HOLE. IN MY WOOL.

Mama’s got some words for the exterminators tomorrow, OH YES. Mass bugicide is forthcoming to Chez Cadorette tout de suite.

It’s okay, darling. It’s Kureyon. Some darning, maybe a bit of felting action, and we’re golden. *pets* (well. grey. but, you know.)

I am pretty sure I used every single pin in the house blocking three Lizard Ridge blocks, even with the use of blocking wires. Which, as an aside, I’d like to say are one of the best knitting tools I’ve ever purchased myself, second only perhaps to a high quality wooden umbrella swift.

Anything you’ve been putting off blocking? Confess, and be shriven.

Tuesday

26

March 2013

1

COMMENTS

Stitchery Afoot

Written by , Posted in Finished Objects, FOs, General, Knitting, Knitting Knatterings, Lizard Ridge, stash enhancement, Updates

Well. More like “ahead”, as it’s mostly hats with some neckwear, and “aneck” just doesn’t sound right.

My knitting mojo seems to have decided to stick around long enough for me to actually finish something!

Way back in July, I cast on for Laura Chau’s Dipped Infinity Scarf, the yarn for which I got in a kit from Fibre Space. At the time, I, um, forgot the ribbing? Oops. I guess I was so thrilled at the idea of the color changes to come that I launched right into the stitching pattern sans ribbing.

Anyway, I was so irritated with the mistake, and trying to decide how to fix it without ripping out what I already had done, that it took months for me to pick it back up again (kind of a metaphor for my life lately, actually).

This week, after casting off (remembering the ribbing on this end) the majority of the piece, I figured out how to pick up stitches in ribbing on the cast-on edge, and only 5 rows later, there was a cowl!

Dipped Infinity Cowl

This is getting blocked today so the ribbing will quit folding over; had to stab a couple toothpicks into it to get it flat enough for glamour shots.

Dipped Infinity Cowl detail

Project: Dipped Infinity Scarf by Laura Chau/cosmicpluto
Yarn: Neighborhood Fiber Company Studio Sock (sold as a kit at Fibre Space)
Needles: Chiagoo circulars, US 9s (I think. Need to double check size.)
Notes: I have an unhealthy adoration for Karida Collins’ yarn, and there was no way I could pass up these colors. They just…glow.

I have a second Turn-A-Square hat currently on the needles out of the same yarn combo as the first (Brooklyn Tweed Shelter & Noro Kureyon; not original by any stretch, but so beautiful, why mess with perfection?):

Turn-A-Square²!

Meanwhile, I finished yet another hat that was a very late birthday/Christmas present for a friend, the Fair Kate hat by Thelma Egberts. This one had stalled out when I got stuck on the cabled decreases at the crown:

Cable decreases

WHY I got stuck there is a mystery to me, though, because when I picked the project up out of hibernation, I picked right up where I left off & completed the hat with no difficulty. I don’t even know.

Fair Kate flat hat

The yarn is a grey baby alpaca I picked up at MDSW, and is as soft, fuzzy, light, & warm as you might expect, looking at it.

Fair Kate hat for our fair @celeloriel

Project: Fair Kate hat by Thelma Egberts
Yarn: grey baby alpaca, I believe from Misty Mountain farms?, via MDSW
Needles: Addi Turbo circular needles, US 5s
Notes: dear self: you are not a failure as a knitter if you use a cable needle for 5-over-5 cable crosses, damn it, so STOP THAT & use the damn cable needle! Love, self.

I have two sweaters planned, both in the blue color family, so my Blue Period seems to be continuing, but I also grabbed two new Kureyon colors to add on to Lizard Ridge, The Afghan That Never Ends:

2 more for Lizard Ridge

Where are you on your own color wheel?