Outstanding

Outstanding can mean “not done yet” or it can mean “exceptionally good.” This post is to celebrate these socks’ graduation from one use of the adjective to the other after being in WIP purgatory for 6 years.

Folks, I want to be able to say that 6 years is a long time for a project to languish. And maybe it is, objectively, if you’re the sort of knitter who makes a point of finishing the things she starts. I’d say it’s about average for me if I compare it to the other WIPs in the basket/closet/bin/drawer/unused luggage/vault/mom’s house/off-site storage facility. I jest, I jest.

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Pattern: Vorticity by Alice Yu
Yarn; Malabrigo Sock in Indiecita

Sometimes life interrupts knitting, but more often a project is packed away because something’s not working. As you’d expect, upon taking this pattern up again I remembered exactly why I’d put it down.

The chart uses a red line and an indistinguishably thicker red line in the same ink to indicate two different things. Moreover – get ready for some controversial knitting semantics – I disagree with the idea that a 4-stitch jog constitutes a “row.” It’s not. Call it the jog it is. Put those 4 stitches at the end of the prior chart row. Or at the very least state what’s happening in the pattern instructions instead of relying on a chart symbol in the same ink used to indicate a pattern repeat. I mean, c’mon, help a knitter out.

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Jog =/= row

By the time I picked these up again I had forgotten everything I had already learned the hard way except that the chart was garbage in a way I couldn’t remember. I’m really quite good at reading charts, though, so I powered through, much as I did the first go-around, and wondered what my problem had been years before until I realized the pattern wasn’t stacking the way it was supposed to. Back to ravelry’s helpful notes I went and oh, hello other instance where there’s a end of row red line impersonating a pattern repeat red line.

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This became a project I was’t going to let outsmart me. I can be stubborn. When I find myself digging in it’s usually a sign that I”m cutting off my nose to spite my face, but this is only knitting so I dug in, knit the damn sock leg no less than 4 times before getting it right, and finally finally got my pair of socks.

Get ready for a slew of socks, I’m having a bit of a moment. Or maybe the new socks I’ve cast on will languish for 6 years before you hear about them. It’s happened before.

Papillon

Back when I was making those Santa sweaters I had to order more yarn. Have you ever run short on yarn and needed to order more? Of course you have. So you know that it just doesn’t make sense to pay for shipping for only the few balls needed to complete your current project. The obvious, practical, and economical thing to do is to order a sweater’s quantity worth of something else at the same time, which was how this really delightful HiKoo Sueno came into my possession.

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Pattern: Papillon by Svetlana Volkova
Size: Cast on medium with a gauge that produced something a bit smaller
Yarn: HiKoo Sueno in Rust

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Confession time: I had assumed papillon was sort of botanical term and it wasn’t until googling the word while writing this post that I learned it’s a dog breed. I have to tell you, I am deflated. I have met many fine dogs and my family had dogs growing up, but I am not a dog person. Sorry/not sorry.*

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Anyways, name aside, it’s a perfectly good pattern. I love the yarn. Good stitch definition, not itchy, orange without being ORANGE. Everything came up roses in this make. I didn’t even make careless mistake after careless mistake! Boring for blogging, eh?

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I keep searching for dog faces in this stitch pattern. Do you see any?

The project I cast on next was a bust, though. I ran out of yarn almost before I started. You win some, you lose some.

 

*It has since been brought to my attention that papillon is the French word for butterfly. Who knew? Approximately 275 million French-speakers, but I’m not among them!

 

Step Up Plan

I’m late to the stranded yoke colorwork knitting fad that’s been bursting for the last few years. I always admired them, but if you’ve never priced out the cost of purchasing 3 or 4 or more different colorways of fingering- or dk-weight yarn, your virtual shopping cart’s total may give you a shock. I can usually justify a yarn or fabric purchase, but I could already feel before completing the purchase the guilt of an unfinished sweater I had sunk so much cash into and I dreaded having so many barely used skeins of yarn left over. I imagined them haunting my dreams, taunting me every time I dove into the stash, reminding me of that sweater that cost $$$$ but only used half that $$$$ in term of yardage. It would be yet more leftover yarn that I can’t get rid of yet never seems to serve a purpose beyond “maybe mittens, someday”. Buying yarn, you see, has a psychological cost as well.

The parade of fantastic patterns and makes kept coming. It was only a matter of time before I found the perfect gateway into stranded yoke colorwork sweaters.

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It’s my new favorite knit ever,
Pattern: Anaashah by Jennifer Steingass
Size: 40.75
Yarn: Brooklyn Tweed Peerie, Muslin + Tincture
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Why yes, I did copy the exact colorways used in the pattern sample. NO REGRETS.

It feels contrary to knitterly consensus to admit that apart from its obvious gorgeousness, I started with this pattern because it uses only two colors. What knitter worth her or his salt is trying to limit the amount of yarn on hand? The leftovers from this sweater, I rationalized, could be used in my next, and the leftovers from that one into the one thereafter, and so on. It would be a sort of step-up plan into the really colorful yokes.

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I guess I’m OK with stash creep if it’s gradual.

Also in the forecast: maybe some mittens? Someday?

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Hello, I love you.

Last Gasp

Look, I squeaked out a pair of socks for Hubs for Christmas at the last minute.

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Yarn: Leading Mens Fiber Arts Show Stopper
Coiorway: O Christmas Tree

Because socks are my on-the-go take-anywhere-and-everywhere knitting I forget how fast they fly off the needles if you just sit down and work on them. It took me 4 months to get to just past the gusset on the 2nd sock knitting these in found moments outside the house. It took me me a cheesy holiday movie and a bit of Christmas Eve morning to finish it off. Makes me wonder if the volume of knitting I accomplish out and about is worth the trouble of carrying it.

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What am I even saying, OF COURSE IT IS.

And that’s all the holiday makes I have to share. Christmas is in books., or it will be soon after I get it all packed up and moved out of my living room.

Christmas in August, September, October

Starting my super secret Christmas knitting in August was not planned. It was small-bite comfort knitting from a familiar and beloved pattern to satisfy my too-tired-to-be-inspired brain. It was nice that my mindless knitting projects also had purpose, but I knew myself too well to count my knitted chickens before they hatched. Having a deadline doesn’t guarantee motivation. Just because I start a thing in August doesn’t mean it will be done in time for Christmas this year or next or ever.

I had a friend who one Christmas was upset because she wasn’t going to get her holiday crafting done in time. She was in a bad place and I unwisely tried to reassure her it was going to be OK. “Is it? IS IT GOING TO BE OK?” she yelled. I couldn’t think of anything to say that wasn’t “Um, yes?” which, now that I was caught up with the magnitude of her stress levels I sagely refrained from blurting out. Instead I stood there awkwardly, realizing I had been dismissive and not at all reassuring, pissing her off all the more with my stunned silence. We’ve all been in that mental space and it wasn’t about the presents. It’s never about the presents.

This post, on the other hand, is ALL ABOUT THE PRESENTS. I hope you like gnomes because I’m about to introduce you to the 14 I made. First, family groupings:

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Tennessee branch
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Washington branch
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Wisconsin branch
Pattern: Never Not Gnoming by Sarah Schira
Yarn: Leftovers
Size: Large

The pattern is for male gnomes only. I added braids and left off beards to make lady gnomes even though neither I nor several of the recipients have enough hair to braid. But then most of the men don’t have beards, either, so I guess we’re even.

They came out a surprising variety of sizes considering I used size 1 needs and fingering weight yarn for all. I had a bit of work figuring out pairings and groupings, trying to coordinate colors and sizes before adding hair.

Amazingly they were done in plenty of time which wasn’t true for some of the other items I decided to toss in at the last minute. Leave to me, I thought, to finish the time consuming part and still end up late because of some random thing that ins’t. I was raised to believe that if you’re not early you’re late, but and when the post office pulled through and everything arrived in the nick of time (ha ha, couldn’t let that one pass) I decided to not think of them as almost-tardy, but perfectly-timed.

Tiny Things

I like to make the kids tiny toys for their stockings I have this idea that they’ll grow to form a prized collection, but of course they get lost, separated and disassociated from the holiday, subsumed into the collective mass of my kids’ other toys. Only the ones in B’s stocking are collected or prized, and only by me. Her stocking is laughably large, so big you wouldn’t know there are tiny toys inside if I weren’t telling you.

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Patterns: Tiny Ice Cream, Tiny Hot Dog, & Tiny Cupcake from Mochimochi Land
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I told you they were tiny!

I’ve already lost track of where the hot dog and ice cream have gone gotten to, but Chuffy’s delight when I fished his overlooked hot dog out of his stocking (hey, it’s super small and easy to miss and there was Pez) was more than enough to keep me making more next year and every year.

Sweater for a Baby Human

Winter babies are my very favorite to knit for, early winter babies especially, born when the nights are longest and there are so many cold days ahead and the year is new or will be soon. I don’t care if the tiny sweater will fit for only a few weeks or that it might get spit up on. It’s a sweater for the littlest, most fragile bodies that need the warmth the most. Little sweaters for baby humans are a knitter’s blessing. Summer babes, equally knit-worthy, just don’t have the same urgency.

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Pattern: Baby Girl Human Fair Isle Cardigan by Purl Soho (seriously though, why is the name of this pattern gendered?)
Size: Newborn
Yarn: Knitpicks Preciosa Tonal Fingering in Pearlescent Tonal + bibs and bobs of other brands in purposefully bright colors because boys deserve colorful clothes, too
Mods: I centered the colorwork chart

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My first baby was born two days before winter solstice and I remember those days being so warm and cozy and sweet and special and feeling like a Christmastime baby was the best sort of baby because the world seemed to slow down and know its specialness right before bursting with energy and newness at the same time as I was slowing down and experiencing the world in an entirely altered way.

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Of course I would have thought any time was the best time to have my baby, that’s how it works, and I’m sure this baby’s parents feel exactly the same way.