A Forest for the Trees

I continue to struggle to get any workable photos at all. Light! I need light! Light is hard to come by in December when you report to work at 8 am and the sun has set by the time you get home. There were a few occasions when I thought I’d wait for the weekend to take photos, but those weekends were so busy and overcast that it didn’t improve my results.  Given my time constraints I’m settling for light and leaving composition to the side.

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A captivating image of our baseboards

Composition is difficult because the morning light is by the windows and door at the back of our house and further complicated by the fact that we’re not a tidy family. A photo of stuffed trees on the latch hook rug I made years ago isn’t great, but hey: at least you can’t see dishes, toys, books, laundry, or any of the other detritus I don’t see until I whip out the camera (and get frustrated) or have company (and get embarrassed).

IMG_8297Pattern: McCall’s M5778 Holiday Decorations
Size: Smaller
Fabric: Novelty holiday prints from Jo-Ann

I made the smaller of the stuffed tree patterns. Note that “smaller” does not mean “small” – these stand 11.5 inches high. The larger tree stands 17.5 inches high and would take up a lot of real estate on a table.

I picked up the fabric when I was at Jo-Ann’a for interfacing. I saw the Santa flamingo fabric right away, but didn’t see anything that coordinated. I poked around a bit, hemmed and hawed, deliberated making stuffed trees at all, finally found the blue snowflake fabric, and rushed back to where the flamingo fabric was, sort-of invading a fellow shopper’s personal space in the process.

“Did you want Santa flamingo fabric?” I asked, in explanation, as I grabbed the bolt. She laughed at me. No, she didn’t want Santa flamingo fabric.

I’m sending these along with some socks I fished out of my box-o-sox. Yay!

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Christmas Sweason

I finished my holiday sweater in time for Kristkindl Markt at church!

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Pattern: Julgran by Andi Satterlund
Size: It’s complicated (details below)
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash in Shire

I love the color. I sent screenshot of – no joke, I counted – 19 different shades of green Cascade 220 to Hubs and he helped me whittle down my choices. Why haven’t I knit more dark green sweaters, I wondered. Because I spent many a year looking for the perfect pea green is why, neglecting entirely these wonderful not pea green shades.

I don’t know whether the motif gets lost or if people are not accustomed to looking at my chest, but it was only the knitters who immediately spotted and delighted in the tree. Otherwise my sweater-centered conversations felt something like:

Me, gesticulating excitedly at chest area: Look!
Hapless victim, gazing inquisitively at bosom: ???
Hapless victim, visibly confused, clearly thinking: Um, there’s nothing worth looking at???
Me: THE CHRISTMAS TREE.
Hapless victim, relieved: Oh! How neat!

The technicalities:

  • I put this sweater on pause for a bit while I pondered the sleeve situation. Turns out the problem wasn’t my short-row-wrapping, but that purling across the sleeve cap to where the short rows started made it so that the front and back of the sleeve didn’t match because I was purling across one but not the other. I dropped the yarn after picking up the sleeve cap stitches, slipped stitches to where the short rows start, and picked up the yarn there and it worked a bit better.
  • That half-a-purl-row probably would have been invisible if I had knit the sleeves in stockinette stitch as recommended by the pattern. Knits hide better than purls.
  • My row gauge was larger (longer?) than recommended. Great! I needed to add length, anyways. How convenient.
  • I forgot about how that would impact the sleeve depth.
  • Which, in retrospect was a big part of why the sleeve cap was too roomy.
  • I ended up with a sweater in size medium circumference (yay!), large length (yay!), and extra large sleeve depth (boo).
  • I knit a size small sleeve to compensate. Didn’t fix the problem entirely, but it helped, and let’s not let perfection be the enemy of the good enough.
  • Since I had knit the sleeves in reverse stockinette to match the sweater body I thought the funnel collar would be off. I knit 10 rows of 1×1 rib instead.
  • I used tubular cast off everywhere. Joy!

More pics to come after a good wash and block.

Process without Progress

I’ve been making, but everything I’m working on is in some stage of progress and I have finished nothing this week.

I have socks on the go.

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I got SO MUCH done on these during the employee benefits meeting.

I have super secret Christmas gifties on the go.

I have swatching on the go.

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I have that Christmas sweater on the go.

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Haven’t frogged that sleeve yet!

I have those PJs on the go. Well, they were until I sewed the cuffs on the pants before sewing the front and back cuff to one another. I spent the rest of my sewing time last night getting back to where I thought I was starting. That’s progress, in a way.

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So close to being done.

A lot of process, little progress. Sometimes it’s like that. Heck, sometimes things never get done. Speaking of which, note to self: the next time you’re wondering where your #8 Knitpicks interchangeable need is, let this serve as a reminder that it’s in the half-finished Lotta Cardigan you started and abandoned last year in that pretty dark purple Cascade 220. Remember you found it when you were looking for something else in your knitting basket in the bedroom? What was I even looking for? Who can remember? What was I talking about, again?

Wrap and Return to the Turn

Hm, well, my holiday sweater has hit the skids a bit. I blithely knit on the first sleeve (I took the liberty to knit it in reverse stockinette to match the sweater body, the pattern calls for stockinette) last night without checking the wraps on my short rows until just before bed and lo:

I must have wrapped in the wrong direction on the back because they’re not beautifully invisible like they are on the front. Womp womp.

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A close up of the disappointment.

It’s just as well because I was afraid the sleeve would be too big for me and it is:

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Pooch, badly lit in early morning bathroom light.

This style sweater is a bit of a departure for me. Not being a sweater-babe-type person I cast on a size that wouldn’t have as much negative ease as recommended so I thought this might happen. Back to the sleeves drawing board!

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I love a tubular cast off.

This time with properly wrapped short rows and a maybe 4-8 fewer stitches picked up around. Not today, though, this sweater and I need a little break from one another.

Distractibly Distractive

I thought I was starting a primarily sewing blog, but the thing I can’t put town this week is Julgran:

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© Andi Satterlund

I clicked through and bought this pattern as soon as I saw Andi’s pattern release blog post. Not long after that I sent screenshots of 19 different shades of Cascade 220 to Hubs to help me whittle down the selection and then I picked what turned out to be the perfect green – Shire – from those 4. You know those studies that show that too much choice actually makes people more unsatisfied with their decisions? I’ve always known this to be true about myself. Have you ever shopped for a stroller? It’s maddening. I knew I would be unhappy with whatever I chose so I didn’t bother and we ended up with a hand-me-down that we literally strolled into the ground when the front wheel went irreparably flying off the thing 7 years later. The thing I loved best about that stroller was that I hadn’t picked it so I had no reason to ever be unhappy with its shortcomings or interpret them as me making a bad or wrong decision. It was just a stroller that was better for some things (like traversing NYC’s variable topography) and not so great for others (like fitting through the check out line at a NYC grocery store). There is no perfect stroller, but there is a lot of angst over not picking one that is.

Anyways. I love a good Christmas sweater! There may not be a perfect stroller, but damn if this isn’t pretty darn close to a perfect holiday pullover. I’m close to the ribbing. I tried it on this morning and lost a bunch of stitched (oops) so I’ll have to fix that up before hopefully finishing up the body tonight. Yay!

Comfort Object

I’ve always carried a comfort objects with me. Back in my analog days I used to bring a book everywhere I went. Now instead of a book or my kindle I carry sock knitting everywhere I go. And thank goodness, too, because when I ran myself down to the Minute Clinic last night (no influenza for me, just a non-specific something viral. Yay?) I was able to get most of the way done with this pair’s 2nd sock.

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Pattern: Sock Recipe: A Good, Plain Sock by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Size: Womens 8.50-ish
Yarn: Mirasol Yarn Kushka, Llama Rush, purchased at Darn Yarn Needles and Thread in Harmony, PA

I like to knit with whatever garish. colorway catches my eye. They often don’t result in socks that I particularly like, but that’s OK. I stick them in my Box O’Finished Socks. Somebody will claim them someday.

I toted this project around in project bag I made last Christmas using Indigobird’s Reversible Knot Bag tutorial. I’d bought a stack of fat quarters in fanciful holiday fabric (love fanciful holiday fabric!) and kept sewing until the stack was gone. After making the first couple I added about an inch of depth to the pattern to more comfortably carry a ball of sock yarn. They don’t actually work that well for on-the-go, toss-in-your-purse-and-run knitting. My knitting keeps falling out, but I’ve been too lazy and/or forgetful to transfer back to the bag I made using this reversible draw string bag tutorial that travels better.

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Project bags and needle keepers still on hand after divesting myself of some last Christmas.

It’s not such a big deal that my knitting falls out continually because I used the scraps from those project bags to make a bunch of coordinating Double-Pointed Needle Keepers using this tutorial. I had to add an inch or so to the width of the case to accommodate the length of my cheapo Susan Bates dpns I use. I unabashedly ❤ my Susan Bateses. I have personal sock rules habits: they should be knit on dpns unless knitted in a complicated pattern divisible by two in which case two circulars should be used; they should be knit from the top down; they should be knit one at a time. All of these “rules” are debatable and a matter of personal preference, but it’s the habits I’ve fallen into that make whatever sock I have in progress my comfort object.

Old Growth

We were on a beach vacation in Delaware when I bought a sweater’s quantity of Shepherd’s Wool Worsted form Stonehedge Fiber Mill from A Little Bit Sheepish, an amazing multi-floor yarn store – I wish I could live there, or at least shop there regularly – in a quintessentially picturesque town. I bought a whole sweater’s worth in Chocolate Milk (that one got turned into a Peabody). The woman checking me out asked if I had ever used it before and assured me that it was fabulous. She was 100% correct. It. Does. Not. ITCH. At all. That yarn felt so good against my skin I bought some more and made myself a Daelyn Pullover.

I spontaneously picked up the three partial balls leftover from the Daelyn, decided it was surely enough for a toddler-sized sweater, and cast on Old Growth.

I knit sleeve #1. Lots of yarn!

I knit sleeve #2. Two is always a good number of sleeves. Doubt starts to creep in.

I started on the body. Hmm, only 1 partial ball left and still several inches of the body to go + yoke + button bands. Better suck it up and order another skein. So much for stash-busting. It doesn’t help that a sweater’s worth of Rosy Green Wool’s Big Merino Hug fell into my virtual shopping cart when I placed my order. I was saving money on shipping, naturally!

Against expectation that last partial ball was enough to get to the end of the sweater body with a whole single yard to spare. I broke into the new skein – shout out to good dye consistency between lots – for the button bands. So I guess I can make a matching hat? Yay? I sort of resent when trying to use up yarn creates more knitting.

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Pattern: Old Growth by Tin Can Knits
Size: 2T
Yarn: Stonehedge Fiber Mill, Shepherd’s Wool Worsted, Antique Rose