Sunday, May 01, 2016

Gore Place Sheepshearing Festival '16

We couldn't have asked for better weather yesterday for the annual sheep-shearing festival at Gore Place in Waltham.

There we cute animals. Kids chased chickens.  We ate too much fair food and got a little too much sun despite liberal application of sunblock.

Wooly activities like shearing, spinning, weaving and knitting occurred. And I even picked up a small amount of yarn from  June Pryce Fiber Arts. The worsted is planned for a requested hat, while I have just been wanting to play with a gradient set for ages. Now I just need to find the perfect patterns.

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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Daily flowers

Earlier this week, Chiquita was feeling frustrated and down.

So I picked her up a bunch of flowers to cheer her up. Normally cut flowers are not my thing, but it has provided drawing material for the last few days.

These are in a planner I bought specifically for small daily art. The drawings themselves were just done with Crayola colored pencils and a number 2 pencil. The small scale is manageable and a pleasure to work on.


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Blue Bunny Hat

As mentioned in the Baby Bear Hat post last month, I had discovered that I was having difficulties working with the Cascade Cloud 9. Turns out breathing is awesome, and antihistamines are super useful. Which is very sad, because this hat is really lovely and soft.

Yarn: Cascade Cloud 9
Yarn Supplier: Webs
Needles: US 8.0 / 5.5mm

This was knit without a formal pattern as a 80 stitch 2X2 ribbed hat. I knit to maximize the yardage, because I didn't want any leftover allergens in my house. Fortunately a friend was super happy to take this cuddly hat off my hands though, and now I do not have any of this yarn left in my stash now.

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Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Hufflepuff Socks

Continuing to work my way through my mending basket, in May 2011 I had knit Salvbard a pair of Hufflepuff-colored socks. They were knit toe-up with an after-thought heel. This yarn had been a purchase while I was living in Madison, WI for a summer in grad school, and I had some sentimental feelings about buying it to make socks for him while I missed him.

I had just had a single ball of the yellow and black striped yarn, so the coordinating toes, heels, and cuffs helped me stretch the yarn a little further. I did wind off a small amount to get the stripes to start in the same place, and then I knit them from either end of the same ball to maximize yardage.

Yarns: Lang Yarns Jawoll Superwash Solids in color 83.0004
& Regia 4-f├Ądig Nation Color (discontinued) in color 5391
Yarn Suppliers: Knitting Treasures (closed) and Lakeside Fibers (closed)
Needles: US 1.5 / 2.5 mm
Pattern: toe up w/ afterthought-heel

They never even made it to the blog though, because the bind-offs were a little too tight. Instead they got tossed into the mending basket to be fixed later. *Dun dun dun!* So nearly 5 years later, they are finally into rotation!

The new bind-off was done as a sewn bind-off, which has become my preferred bind-off for toe-up socks. Previously I had done that thing where you just try to be conscious to bind-off loosely, which just does not work for Salvbard's shapely calves.

Blogging this pair feels sort of bittersweet in looking at the number of closed or discontinued sources it used. Things change in this industry faster than I generally think much about. I am grateful for all of the memories knit into them though, and Salvbard seems glad for another pair of socks in his sock drawer.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Toffee Socks

Somehow I managed to put myself in a position where everytime I went to go start a project my mind went "hey you haven't given Salvbard a pair of socks in a while." Thanks brain, but it turns out that is just because I wasn't finishing any. I just kept absentmindedly starting new pairs instead. The good news is that he will get several pair at once as a result. The first pair are the Toffee socks I had mentioned last month.

Needles: US 1 / 2.25 mm
Pattern: cuff down, heel flap, wedge toe
Yarn: Lion Brand Sock-Ease Prints in the color Toffee
Yarn Supplier: Michael's

These were very straightforward. I knit then 2-at-a-time cuff down via magic loop, with a 2 by 2 rib, heel flap heel and wedge toe. And while I didn't find this yarn particularly exciting, Salvbard does, which is all that matters.

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Sock Mending

Apparently this the week in which I decided to finally tackle my mending basket. By yesterday I had gotten 8 pairs of socks for me back into rotation, all of which had been resting there for more than a year. Even given how long they have been in time-out, I did get some good use from them and am looking forward to more. And the weather in Boston seems to have just turned the corner into wool-socks-everyday season.

Left side (top to bottom):

Self-striping Socklets (7/2015)

Coral Snake Socks (3/2007)

Astronomy/Astrology Socks (11/2008)

Holly Berry Socks (5/2008)

Right side (top to bottom):

Ember Socks (3/2007)

Twisted Flower (8/2008)

Cozy Socks (4/2014)

Thick Camo Socks (6/2011)

I like to take mending time as an opportunity to revisit how well things had held up and learn from it. I can't complain too much about the holes in the Cozy Socks and Thick Camo Socks, both of which were made from heavier, merino yarns. They were designed to quick, cozy knits around the house rather than something more hard-wearing for use with shoes.

Similarly the Holly Berry Socks were a 100% merino socks yarn from Knit Picks that was long discontinued, even before I knit them. I am not terribly surprised they developed a weak place at the toe, and it was an easy repair.

The Ember Socks were knit in Koigu and Silky Wool, and I remember thinking when I made them that I was not sure that the Silky Wool would make good socks. It doesn't have quiet the same elasticity of some other sock yarns, but actually it worked out pretty well. The hole that developed was actually in the middle of one of the Koigu stripes on the ankle, perhaps from it rubbing against my shoes? More disappointing is that the Koigu has faded so much. I totally admit these have been washed many times, but since the colors palette is one of the major differentiators of Koigu for me it is a little sad.

The Self-striping Socklets repair was totally not due to wear, but rather knitter error. The first time I wore them I noticed that I had missed/dropped a stitch in the bind off. It was super easy to fix once I got around to it, and I expect a long time of wear out of these in the future.

The Coral Snake Socks were the first of several pairs of socks in this yarn base that are in my mending basket. The Minds' Eye sockyarn base was a merino/tencel blend and sort of on the fine side. Ultimately I do not think the tencel content was necessarily to blame, but at this point I would still prefer a wool/nylon blend.

The hand dyer who was making it is no longer producing, and I am sad that this base has been so problematic for me as I have a bunch  more in my stash. Given that I have had problems with it in socks, I had even tried making accessories out of it instead. But even that apparently had weak spots that I couldn't see as it developed holes with relatively little use.

The Astronomy/Astrology Socks developed a weak spot in the facing yarn I had used in the hem edge, which was strange. I attribute this to a weak spot in the Louet Gems fingering that I didn't notice when knitting, since I had noticed other weak places in it. Similar to the Mind's Eye sock yarn of the Coral Snake Socks, it is a little on the fine side with occasional thinner places.

I have fond memories of knitting the Twisted Flower socks while traveling to Hong Kong and Germany, so even though they are impractical I was ready to repair the thin places. I knit these to pattern, so the lace panel extends down the back of the heel. It is super pretty, but I would not do that again. Unsurprisingly they wore weak spots at one of the open lacy parts. I was pleased by my ability to darn roughly in pattern though and am glad to get to wear these longer.

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Friday, January 08, 2016

Baby Bear Hat

A couple of years ago, I bought 2 skeins of the beautifully soft and luxurious Cascade Cloud 9 at Webs. This hat is super cute, even if a handwash material is super impractical for a baby. For how cute and soft it is, I am totally ok if it only gets one wear. I included minor modification thoughts at the end of this post.

This was the pattern where I finally accepted that I need to avoid angora containing yarns. (There is another angora project post en queue for the other skein.) Having said that, this little hat only took 19g, and I still have 31g left. Would you like the rest of this skein? Leave a comment with your contact info and I will draw a name next week.

Pattern: Baby Bear Hat by Gilda Knits (free Ravelry download)
Yarn: Cascade Cloud 9 (discontinued)
Yarn Supplier: WEBS
Needles: US 9 / 5.5 mm

I only had one minor quibble with the directions, as the instructions ask you to pick up "in the round" but then the following instructions are flat for garter stitch. I suspect the designer just wanted the stitches picked up one per "bar" but picking up on both sides does produce less forward bias, which I liked. So I modified the pattern by making the ears actually in the round, but I think knitting the "front" and "back" side stitches together in the first row would have given the neutral bias similarly.

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