Half the Year

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Half the year has passed in a flash: winter, then spring, and now we are speeding through summer. This midway point has inspired me to clean out closets, to pretty up the house, and to clean up my Ravelry page. Those of you on Ravelry have probably noticed that this last is a time-consuming endeavor. Rounding up UFOs for photos, weighing partial skeins, and experimenting with open windows and overhead lights to get bright, clean photos.

Some might rail against squandering time on these chores, time that could be spent on the craft itself, but I love the opportunity to take stock. As I fish around for UFOs, I invariably find them in a bag filled with needles or notions that are not needed for that project. So I clean out the bag before I replace the project. Half-skeins waiting to be weighed are usually chucked someplace random, not barricaded inside their bug-proof Ziplocs. After weighing, I take the opportunity to round the partial skeins up and stow them tidily away with other little skeins of the same fiber and weight. While I’m rooting around in my stash, I take a little extra time to check out what’s in there and daydream about future projects.

This year was going to be the year in which I didn’t buy any yarn. So far, it hasn’t quite worked out that way. There was the Yarn Barn in Lawrence, and then I bought a sweater’s worth of Sincere Sheep when I made my pilgrimage to Knit Purl while attending a conference in Portland. The Yarn Shop and More in Overland Park was tucked away in a nondescript strip mall, but inside they had every yarn gorgeously arranged by color–and their wintry Cascade Eco+ was on sale.

No new yarn at all has quickly turned into over four miles of new yarn. Oops.

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At the same time as all this yarn has been coming in, yarn has been going out in the form of knitted objects. There was the Plaidscape, which was so much fun and looked very impressive when it was done. Melba’s Dogzilla sweater, which turned out better than I could have hoped. The shawl that almost happened in a week. Lots of gifts for people celebrating big events: weddings, moves, and new babies..

All told, I managed to knit about two and a third miles of yarn in these six months. Fourteen different yarns ranging in weight from lace to bulky made up this two miles, knitted up into fourteen projects from seven different designers.

Going back over the year to date took a bit of time, but it was time well spent. Now I’m really excited about the next six months of knitting, thinking about finishing up garments in progress so I can wear them, and the projects I have lined up and ready to start.

How do you recharge your crafting energy?

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Hotdogs and History

Black and white copy of Lincoln's speeches on a red, white, and blue dress

Hi Lincoln.

Happy Fourth, all. Having just read Stephanie Pearl McPhee’s resounding cheer for Candada, I’d love to offer you something similar. Don’t get me wrong: I’m decked out in a red, white, and blue dress, looking forward to a lunch of hot dogs off the grill with coleslaw and a nice iced tea. But that whole liberty and justice for all thing, while wonderful and stirring on paper, remains problematic in implementation.

This kind of mood is best summed up by the Decemberists, who write music about this confusing country we call home with equal parts affection and exasperation. While they’re spinning on the turntable, I’ll check in with Lincoln and see what he has to say.

Fellow Americans–how are you marking this day? Those of you outside of the U.S., enjoy an uncomplicated Saturday!

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No I Wasn’t Working on That

Chiweenie curled up on knitting

Little chiweenies never ever have anything soft to curl up on.

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Summer Looks Like

Blue sky with wispy clouds

Bold blue skies and wispy clouds

I may have missed the boat on spring photos, but at least I can attempt to capture summer.

Shadow of a woman taking a photo of a small chiweenie

Sharp shadows and smells to smell

The sun is much brighter than I expected it to be, akin to that searing Arizona sun that toasts you to a crisp the second you step out in it. This is Kansas, though, so there’s always a breeze. Melba loves it, completely disregarding the heat to sit in the sun and sniff all the scents blowing by on the wind.

What does your summer look, feel, or smell like?

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FO Friday: Kansas Spring

Happy Friday, everyone–we made it!!! In a rare moment of good knitting timing, I have a FO for you this morning! Behold: the Crazy Sweater.

Woman wearing a brightly striped sweater top

The only “front” view where I was not making a weird face

It is the Tiny Shoots pattern from Kate Heppell, and I would just like to say I think she did a fine job of designing this sweater. If she’d added a small manual on how to substitute appropriate yarns, and then a small encyclopedia on how to modify a cap sleeve when you have only the faintest idea how that whole sewn-in-sleeve things works, it’s possible I would have had less trouble with the design, but a small note reading “If you totally mess up the sleeve shaping because you substituted yarn and changed both stitch and row gauge, that’s your own darn fault” might have been helpful too.

I finally got the sleeves right enough, and all of my coworkers have sworn up and down they can’t tell there’s extra fabric around the armholes where I think I was supposed to be doing a decreasing thing and didn’t.

About the yarn…it’s Noro sock yarn, one skein won in a blog raffle, the other purchased so I could knit a little top. I purchased the pattern at a fundraiser discount, so they seemed like a good idea to put together. Erm. The Noro is very grippy, which I believe is entirely different than the BFL called for in the pattern, so maybe that wasn’t a great choice. But the pattern is a nice simple canvas for this shout-at-the-top-of-its-lungs color scheme.

Woman wearing a brightly striped sweater top

The color scheme seemed a bit over-the-top in Arizona. Normally, I like natural colors: leaf greens, browns, and dark blues. But when I picked the top up again after the wedding, when Kansas was leaving winter behind, I started to realize the electric lime and magenta could be natural colors too.

Contrary to the endlessly, bitterly freezing winter I was promised, winter wasn’t so bad. But once Spring decided it was coming, it came with a vengeance. Electric green buds popped up on all the trees, making the pines on the hills look darker. Farmers set their fields alight (still can’t get over the fact that that’s legal), and they glowed magenta at night around the town. The fields were black for a while, but then they came back more green than ever, and all over flowers were popping up in yellows, whites, and every shade of purple. The sky became intensely blue, and the squirrels and robins popped out of nowhere to industriously hop about, rooting around for all the things they nibble on and exhibiting to anyone who might have any lingering doubt that spring was here.

I went back through my photos to see if I had any properly representative pictures of this time, but I didn’t. I couldn’t think why, until I remembered that the best view I had of spring doing its crazy dance was when I was driving around town, and crested the top of the hill above town. From that one spot in the middle of the road, you can look out across the river valley and see all the trees, and the fields, and the hills beyond this valley, and in spring, that view was to die for. But I never decided to actually take my life in my hands to capture that view, so I will spend the next few seasons scouting around for places where it is possible to take photos without causing a six-car accident.

Lace detail at the neck of a brightly striped sweater top

We have left spring behind now for a slightly moody summer, but that flat-out mad dash from cold blah winter to ALL THE SPRING is still vividly imprinted in my memory. I have renamed this sweater Kansas Spring.

Woman wearing a brightly striped sweater top

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Three Years and a Day

Small dog wearing a white cone
Three years and one day ago, Melba’s and my paths crossed. Literally: she was walking out onto a busy surface street in Phoenix as Querido and I drove past. Querido got her across the street and sacrificed the burrito I had packed for his lunch to keep her in one place until I could get the car around. We adopted her, and she became our bestest girl.

Melba in her Dogzilla sweater

In the past year, she has put up with a move to The Place Where Toes Get Cold and Wet…

Tabby and chiweenie snuggling on a green blanket

Snuggle buddies

And survived living with all the cats, all the time.

I wish she was celebrating her anniversary in health, but this is Melba. In three years, she has built up a chart as thick as a novella, and just last week was found to have an icky eye infection. Although she has made sure I know how pitiful she is by going to great lengths to get her cone stuck amidst the kitchenette table and chair legs, she has not been turning down the new treat delivered at twelve-hour intervals, Wet Food Balls with Crunchy Centers.

One-eyed chiweenie

Keep being you, Melba. You’re the best.

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Listen to the Math

(Title thanks to Tokyo Police Club.)

Happy Friday all! I don’t know about you, but I am in need of a little extra time to slow down and remember what’s important.

Brightly colored knitted sleeves on a lime green sheet

This is a terrible picture. I think my camera saw lime sheets and artificial light and just said “forget it.”

I remain determined to finish my little sweater, but part of that resolve means proceeding cautiously, without my usual rush-rush-rush. So Sleeve 2 was measured before getting blocked. When it’s dry I’ll measure it again, and fit it into the armhole. Only then will Sleeve 1 get ripped and reknitted.

Dark blue knitting on lime sheet

Slightly less terrible picture. Notice frogged yarn.

I am also listening to the math on Querido’s sweater. Quince and Company’s Osprey is supposed to be an aran weight, but I will swear to its being a bulky. I was getting gauge on the sleeves, but the resulting fabric was almost bulletproof, and my wrists were getting so tired that I was having a hard time psyching myself up to the knitting. So I decided to do the thing that usually sends my projects on a collision course with knitterly doom: I changed the gauge.

Math has never been my strong suit, but I’m trying to do it right. I knitted a little bit of sleeve, blocked it, and measured. I multiplied the stitch and row gauge by the desired sleeve size and compared my numbers against the pattern. I went down a sweater size and adjusted the rate of increase. Does that sound right?

Per experiences with my little sweater, I am measuring this sleeve in every direction every inch. But it is coming out the size I expect it to, and my wrists are no longer tired. Every time I knit on it, it gets appreciably bigger (an amazing thing when you have been spending months knitting with fingering and sportweight). The fabric even picks up less cat hair now. Always a plus.

You’ve basically seen what will keep me busy this holiday weekend: what knitting do you have lined up?

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Can’t Let Go

Brightly colored knitted top in progress

The sleeves will end me.

I meant to do a post about Querido’s sweater, which is coming along slowly but without major mishap. But I can’t let go of this top. The sleeves continue to confound me, but they’re so little, so deceptively simple…I keep having to take a crack at getting them right.

This week will be chilly, too…I could totally pull off wearing this at work. I have a vision, in which the top is awesome and the nine months I spent thinking it would be awful are all requited by its awesomeness. If I lose any more of my sanity, I will take to wandering the prairie wrapped in a giant shawl and wondering aloud to nobody when the rains will return.

But I have tried knitting the medium size sleeve, and I know that will give me a claustrophobically small sleeve. I tried a 2X Large, which gave me untidily large sleeves that I’d never be able to fit into the armhole. Logically, the Extra Large numbers should work pretty well. I’ve even counted how many stitches are bound off and how many rows are knitted, to see if this size will fit in the armhole.

The fifth time could be the charm. Wish me luck.

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