Knitting


It’s been awhile since posting much about fiber, the early Spring seemed to demand attention and pictures. We’re still enjoying a relatively mild year with more sunny days than rain. So unusual for the Pacific Northwest. The strawberries are already setting fruit! We’ve been picking and eating asparagus as it grows (yum!), potato plants are growing like crazy and the sugar peas are climbing their wire fence.

Ed’s sweater is finished.
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I debated about using a ribbon band underneath to hold the buttons so washed and blocked the sweater before adding buttons. Ed said, “I’ve never worn a sweater that had anything under the buttons.” Ed picked out the buttons from the One of a Kind Button table at the annual Abernathy Grange Fiber Fair a week ago. He also bought several other button packets, Candace is a wizard at button making, it’s hard to use restraint in her booth.

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I ambushed Ed for a picture when he briefly went outside to feed the cats. The man rarely steps outside without his hat. He wasn’t keen to have his picture taken without one on, as a result I didn’t risk asking for poses.
Pattern: Fine-Knit Cardigan from Erika Knight’s “Men’s Knits” book.
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash  Ed gifted me with the yarn and book a year ago Christmas. :)
The back was knit twice, the first time for the x-large with the recommended needles. It was way too big. After a visit to the frog pond I worked out the math, again. Given how big it had turned out even getting gauge I calculated by following the instructions for L and dropping from US5 needles to US 4 it should fit. Lots of measuring, counting and math took place throughout the making of the sweater the second time through.

It was worth it!

Meanwhile, a little sweater was knit.

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And pants sewn for Violet’s beloved baby doll. No patterns used.

Last October a Kool-Aide challenge was given at the Aurora Colony Handspinners’ Guild. We were given 4 ounces of Polwarth and directed to dye with Kool-Aide, spin the fiber and complete a project in time for the Feb. meeting.

The Kool-Aide yarn is on the left. Chain-plyed to preserve the colors rather than risk a muddy yarn.  My daughter, Aurora dyed the yellow and blue fibers a year or so ago which I’d spun and had in the stash. Last fall Marianne Cant of Picperfic  posted a picture of a granny square jacket she’d made for a baby.

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I got the yarn spun and was working on my first square at the Feb. meeting. Not quite a finished item.
Violet loves pink so I added in balls of Cascade hot pink and light pink plus a burgundy.

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Violet and I have fun playing around with the placement of the squares. So many options!  These pictures were taken before have the squares were made.

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There are only 12 squares left to make to have enough for a jacket for a 3 year old. This coming Friday Violet and I will play with more arrangements and see what we come up with before they’re all joined with a cream colored yarn. It’s been a fun project, one that’s proved easy to take while sitting with a friend at a hospital or visiting with Aurora, or working on in the evening when I’ve been too tired to do anything else.

One final project which was made in February, a neck warmer for my daughter-in-law who loves to be active outside during the cold Idaho winters.

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This was another fun project using a Knitspot kit: Glasstower.  As a slow knitter who only manages to knit in the evenings this was finished in three days.

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It’s soft, warm and very cosy around the neck. MJ was thrilled to get something personal that she could immediately put to good use.

In anticipation of posting frequently this month I took lots of pictures. Here are a few of the early Spring, these were taken March 11th.  A neighbor’s tulip tree. (or a star magnolia? I forget.)

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Daffodils and I think these are a type of asters in the city park.

 

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The very early blooming strawberries, even before the middle of March! The green berries are now as big as grapes.

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Ed’s sweater is off the needles and ready to be grafted and seamed.

This afternoon the ironing board and iron were set up in the kitchen, a white cotton dish towel dampened and I tackled the task of steaming the individual pieces. Anne Hanson of Knitspot blog about steam blocking a sweater early in February convinced me that it would be worth the extra step.

Except, I don’t have a large surface to fully lay out a sweater for steaming so I wasn’t able to properly block it. Still, it seemed worth the effort to steaming the edges so they’d lie flatter during the seaming process.

The two sleeves, the one on the left looked just like the one on the right before steaming it.

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All the sweater pieces steamed and folded into a pile.

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The grafting and seaming will be tackled when there’s a good chunk of time to sit by the window during daylight hours. It’s not a job I want to feel rushed doing.

This coming Thursday I’ll be demonstrating spinning from 9am – 1pm at Wool ‘n Wares Yarn Shop in West Lynn during the annual Rose City Yarn Crawl. It is the oldest Yarn Crawl in the country! If you’re in the greater Portland area come by to say hi.

This morning we decided to take advantage of the lovely March 1st day by riding our bikes in a new area. Looking through our Road Biking Oregon guide book we decided to do the 10 mile Hagg Lake loop. Neither of us had been there though we’d occasionally mention it over the years. The guide book rated it as easy, and since it went around the lake we figured we’d be riding on level land surrounded by farms and rolling hills.

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The road turned up into the base of the coastal range where the county owned park is located. This was the scene from the first parking lot. Later we realized that there are many parks and swimming areas scattered around the lake. Hagg Lake is very popular in the summer for swimmers, boaters (the lake is zone motorized/ski boats at the eastern end, non-wake on the western end) and triathlons.

Crossing the earthen dam.

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The view looking west from the dam.

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Shortly after crossing the dam the road started climbing.

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And climbing. We kept thinking around the next bend the road would dip back down to the lake.
DSC07776It didn’t.
By then Ed’s leg was threatening to give out on him. We also had the very real suspicion that the road was going to continue skirting the lake higher up along the flank of the hills surrounding the lake than behaving gently by going back down to stay level with the lake.

We practically flew that mile back down the hill. We loaded into the car and drove around the lake, clocking that uphill mile which once we realized we’d pushed that far on our 3 (Ed’s ) & 7 speed (mine) bikes were very proud for having accomplished that climb.

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Our speculation proved true. The road rolled up and down all the way around the lake, much of it in the fir trees. It’s understandable why this is considered a great triathlon course.

This early in the year there were very few vehicles on the road. We did pass a number of cyclists and several runners.

On the north side looking south across the lake. One lone boater enjoying the calm day.

 

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We’re glad we went to such a lovely place on this beautiful day!


I was reluctantly dragged into Facebook when our son’s family moved to a different state. It didn’t take long to figure out that if we wanted to stay current with them and our grandchildren we’d need to have FB accounts. The added benefit is keeping in touch with far-flung friends and family. Years ago letter writing was a passion that slowly dimmed from far spaced, often brief, letters in my mailbox in return. A welcome bonus with FB has been reconnecting with a few people from years long ago.

Recently two friends have been treading through waters of deep grief. Wanting to tangibly wrap them in a bit of love but being an excruciatingly slow knitter I needed something much quicker than a shawl, or even a scarf. Yarn Harlot wrote about the realities of a certain hat taking more than a mere few hours admitting that it was more likely to take a couple days. I’ve yet to knit a hat within a couple of days, with the exception of a chunky handspun. I used a size J knook to make one in record time of a couple days for my visiting granddaughter three years ago. (Story and pictures, here.) I should dig up that knook and knock out some more hats for the grandkids, but first I’d have to spin some chunky yarn with my Navajo spindle.

That’s right, I was telling a story about finding a quick project…

Remembering a few necklaces that were relatively quick knits I turned to Laura Nelkin Designs for a bracelet knit. The first one was destined for my daughter.

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Delighted with how it turned out  I dug into a bead tray, strung a bunch onto some handspun and started a new one the next evening. The yarn in the kit was round with great stitch definition which helps the design and beads to pop. My slightly thicker handspun bloomed with washing and even after blocking it seemed a bit too uneven to give to a friend.  What’d I expect using a 50/50 silk cashmere blend?

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The first picture of the grey bracelet is closer to the color. It seems the light was picking up and reflecting the blues in the picture above. Despite the funkiness of the bottom, handspun one it feels wonderful on my wrist; soft and warm. I had to use different type of clasp than that snap clasp that came in the Nelkin kit. Aurora thought the sliding clasp I used on my bracelet is easier to use.

This one shows their true colors:

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It’s interesting to see that the slightly thicker, flatter yarn made a bigger bracelet using the same size US 2 / 2.75mm needles.

Digging through the handspun stash didn’t reveal anything that shouted their names like the yarn I wanted to use. The color and soft fibers were perfect for both of these friends in need of some hugs. Using a spindle I added more twist then cast on for a third bracelet which was finished and blocked last night using the same needles. Adding more twist and knitting a bit tighter helped tremendously. One end looks narrower than the other but they are pretty much the same when curved end to end.

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Number 4 is half-way done, tomorrow the ends will be sewn in and the clasps attached. Thursday these bracelets should be winging their way to give my friends warm, gentle hugs and to let them know that they’ve been much in my heart and in my prayers.

Meanwhile, inches are adding up on Ed’s sweater sleeves. It will be a happy day when they are finished and the blocking commences.

Often I automatically count stitches when knitting. I used to count ceiling tiles. I’ve been knitting a sweater for Ed since February. He gifted me with the yarn and pattern for Christmas last year. A basic, straightforward, stockinette, button-up sweater. It started off brilliantly, bringing great comfort during the plane flight to and from visiting our son’s family. (I’m rather terrified when my feet aren’t close to the ground.)

The back was off the needles in just a few weeks. But, my, it did seem wide. And short. Laying it on the bed I measured Ed’s favorite sweater against it. No way would it respectably fit. Pictures were taken as evidence but my old laptop was drowned in September. A friend managed to retrieve the photos from it onto a hard drive, one of these days I need to upload the ones worth keeping to this laptop.

Spring gardening, summer spinning and other projects pushed their way to the front while the sweater cooled its stitches. This time around I’ve gone down two needles sizes, one size smaller on the chart, knit the body length longer – this time armed with measuring tape and Ed’s measurements. The back and right front are finished. The left front was over 1/3rd this morning, only the 5 stitch, horizontal buttonholes slowing me down. Because it’s been a mindless project I’ve been reading or watching movies while knitting, for once not compulsively counting.

Until this morning. With a slim possibility that it might be finished in time to wrap for Christmas I was in the zone early this morning (not as early as yesterday’s 4:30am knitting) when reaching the end of the row the number 71 jumped out of my head. What? No, it should be 77. Since I hadn’t really been counting I must have missed some numbers. Carefully counting the stitches strung across the circs the fact remained; somewhere I’d lost six stitches.

The first buttonhole did it. It ate three stitches, the next one took two away and to my chagrin there was a dropped stitch at the edge of the row, just above the first buttonhole. It was ripped back to the first buttonhole – a mere 1 1/4″ from the bottom edge – before heading to the office and the work day. This evening the stockinette is moving smoothly along. I’m not frantic about getting it done by Christmas but the hope still lingers. For once there’s nothing extra scheduled for this weekend other than working in the morning, taking & editing photos of spindles in preparation for Monday’s update and writing on the spindles Ed will make tomorrow. Oh, and practicing the violin to play for Sunday’s service.

Here’s a few pictures of the local park and the town’s tree lighting ceremony which we were asked to play music for one very cold night early in December. There was hot chocolate, coffee, homemade chili and cornbread for everyone, festive music, even a horse and wagon bringing Mr & Mrs Santa Claus.
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A comment in the previous post asked “I just don’t understand how the sizes work and how much yarn to get.
I want to knit a sweater for a 2-year-old. What pattern do I follow? If you can help, that would great.”

I admit that it took some mental gymnastics for me to figure out how in the world the pattern worked for all those various sizes. I’m not sure I could have tackled knitting the Child’s Surprise Jacket for my 5-year-old grandson without having first knit the baby version for my 6 month old granddaughter.
Violet's BSJ
In knitting the BSJ I followed the written out instructions on page 2 of the pattern. It took an entire skein of 100g of sock yarn, 405 yards and I almost ran out. For a toddler I’d want twice that amount, which should be more than enough. If you’re planning to have stripes then 400 yards of the main color and three or four skeins of other colors should do the trick, depending on how big the stripes are. (Using variegated yarn for the first BSJ was a blessing since it eliminated the need to weave in all the ends and making sure the color sequence looked balanced and good.)

My advice for someone making their very first BSJ, but for a toddler, would be to use a worsted yarn and the size of needle that would get you 5 stitches per inch so that you can follow the row by row instructions on page 2.

But, if you’re up for a challenge and you want to make one using a specific yarn then read on:

Before starting a CSJ for my five-year old grandson I carefully read the Option instructions on pg 4 as well as all the CSJ instructions on pg 8. Next I swatched to determine what my [K] was using the sportweight yarn I’d bought. The last time we’d been together I’d measured Wesley’s chest, arm length and from the back of his neck to just below his waist. With 24″ (chest circumference) for my starting figure I knit three swatches to determine stitches per inch using US 4 needles,  US5 and US6. The look and feel of the swatch from the US5 needles. (40″L circs) at 6 stitches per inch gave the best result.

Circumference: 24″ divided by 2 for the width = 12″
12 x 6 (spi) = 72  divided by 3 = 24  (It’s a happy coincident that 24″ circumference ends up back at 24 as K.)
24 was the K for this sweater.

(I use a notebook to keep records on my knitting projects. Good notes and swatching are crucial  for a successful outcome with Elizabeth Zimmerman’s SJ, along with a calculator if you don’t like doing math on paper.)

To make a sweater for a two-year old I’d go with the chest size of 21″ since that’s a typical chest size of a 2 yo.

21 divided by 2 = 10.5 x whatever stitches per inch you get when swatching with your yarn and needles (For this example I’ll use 6.5 spi using #3 needles but I’d definitely swatch first for exact gauge/stitch count.)
10.5 x 6.5 = 68.25 divided by 3 = 22.75 = K
Cast On 9[K](22.75) = 205 stitches (rounded up)

Follow the directions as written on page 8. It really helps to write out the sequence of the process, not only to help you wrap your mind around it but to clearly see at a glance in your notebook where you’re at with increases and decreases. The sweater looks like an alien amoeba until the latter half when you’re able to bring the sleeves into position.

In other news. Spring is in the air here in Oregon! I reveled in warm sunshine while mowing the yard today. Having clear sunny skies is balm to the soul. Last Friday we went to a farm that has plants for sale and bought a kumquat tree, along with some other plants. In the afternoon we planted peas and spinach seeds in the garden. We’re looking forward to spending more time outside working in the garden and the small greenhouse that we put up over the past few weeks.
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In November I put out pleas here and in Ravalry for a certain color and dye lot of a green Cascade 220 sport yarn that I’d run out of a ball short of finishing the Child Surprise Jacket I was knitting for my grandson. After searching a few weeks I ended up buying all new skeins of the new lots of green, now dyed in China instead of Peru where Cascade yarns had been sourced and dyed for years.

The disaster took a positive turn: once I’d removed the needles from the original and I was able to lay it out flat I realized that I should go down a needle size but cast on more stitches to allow for the growth spurt my grandson was going through during the intervening months. Instead of #6 / 4mm needles I used #5 / 3.75mm 40″ circulars with the knit count of 24(k). That is one of the wonderful things about Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Surprise Jackets: you get to figure out the right numbers of stitches for the correct size.

In January we got the news that our son and family was to be transferred to the warm part of the Southwest. I devoted more evenings to knitting, racing against the time they’d leave cold snow country. Then Gus called asking us to fly to Boise to stay a few days with the kids while he and MJ looked for a house in the new city.

The night before we were to fly it was finished, except for the i-cord seaming of the sleeves to bring it all together. By bedtime there were still several inches  left to do and I knew that I didn’t want to wrestle with the technique while flying so I tucked it, yarn and needles into the suitcase that would be checked in, which also contained beads and beading tools – items Ed didn’t want to risk having confiscated if we took it as carry-on. I grabbed a ball of yarn from the bag that Ed had given me for Christmas, copied the first page of the pattern from the book he’d bought that has the sweater pattern he liked, found the right needles and put them in a project bag that fit into my purse.

Between several good people praying for my nerves and brain to be calm, taking the drowsy form of Demeral and knitting rows of K1, P1 for the beginning of the back, it was a good flight on a turbo-prop plane. When we saw it taxi up to the terminal Ed casually made a remark about its size to the older gentleman waiting next to us. He launched into glowing details about what great, sturdy planes these were; he’d rather fly through storms in them than a larger plane. What comfort hearing those words gave my trembling nerves! I know that God brought him to sit beside us just so I could have wonderful reassurance from a guy who had been a navy pilot towards the end of the Vietnam war.

That evening Wes tried on the sweater, trying not to mind the bristling needles and hanging ball of yarn. DSC_0012
Sunday afternoon Ed got out the beads for them to make make necklaces for mom.

DSC_0052By the time they’d finished making necklaces the sweater was dry.

Wes posing in his superhero stance. The black band slightly above his elbows was the original cast on edge. The first sweater that I’d almost finished had upper arms that seemed like they’d be too tight for this sturdy fellow so I cast on 10 additional stitches before marking the increase points. The additional on the arm part set the shoulder slightly behind the center shoulder line but doing so made for ample room in the upper sleeves. I wish I’d thought to do the two rows of blue around the perimeter of the sweater as I did at the last minute on the sleeve cuff. But the body was already cast off (and all the ends woven in) before I picked up the stitches along the cast on edge of the black sleeve band to lengthen the arms.
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Monday Feathers had gymnastic class, an event that enthralled both Ed and I in that gym bustling with activity everywhere we looked. Groups of boys and girls ranging from kindergarten through high school in moving through stations of various apparatus and mats.
DSC_0089Feathers likes the balance beam best but she was sandwiched between two girls blocking her from our view.

More shots of the sweater and kids in action.
DSC_0146Here’s a back view of it.DSC_0150Wesley wanted to wear it all the time. Seeing his joy and enthusiasm for it makes me want to cast on another one.
Oh wait, first a sweater for Ed.

December has been filled with music, good memories, people and even two finished items!

The weekend of Dec 13 – 15 had three nights in a row of Christmas music: Friday was going to a local performance of John Doan’s Christmas Unplugged. (You may have seen his PBS “Victorian Christmas”.) He entertained us with historical details of old American instruments and facts of Christmas music a century ago. He played an assortments of the instruments including the harp guitar, which I wasn’t to keen to hear. Until he played.
Saturday evening was the Scotts Mills Friends’ annual Christmas sing-a-long. It was another fun evening of fiddling until my fingers were numb and people’s voices were worn out
Friday the four Sister-friends got together to celebrate MC’s birthday at another evening of Christmas music followed by cake.

One of my cousins (first cousin, twice removed – ha, figure that one out!) and his wife had their first child. They live in the middle of frigid Alberta, CA so I dug out some yarn I’d spun years ago from Sunset Fibers. I’d loved the fiber but until little Zelena was born had never figured out what it wanted to be. The moment I saw it when stash diving after getting word of her birth I knew exactly what it was to be. A Baby Peace Fleece Hat.

Only a couple of weeks earlier I’d ordered the Folk Art Hat Peace Fleece kit. (Go ahead, order one for the New Year!) The kit arrived with a complimentary Baby Peace Fleece Hat pattern. (It doesn’t seem to be available on their website.)

Rather than knitting flat, as the pattern instructed, I knit it in the round. Another change was crocheting two ties rather than making the chin strap as in the pattern.  The entire hat was completed in two evening; the second evening was for making the little crocheted flower decoration. (Not in the pattern) I was stunned to realize that in almost of life time of on and off crocheting I’d never made a flower. It’s not the pretty layered rose I’d envisioned due to the yarn being too thick to make a decent one.

I hope the parents will be as charmed with it as I am.
Baby Peace Fleece Hat           Peace Hat ear flap
What a fun knit, I’m looking forward to making more of these hats.

It was so  much fun that the next night I cast on for some booties for our young granddaughter. Violet’s not keen on wearing shoes and often our floors are quite cold.

I looked through scads of patterns then cast on for general ideas, didn’t see any that completely took my fancy but gathered enough ideas to begin chaining, and with only a few rip-backs sallied forth with a G crochet hook and some of the yarn I spun from fiber that Violet’s mom, Aurora, had dyed.

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Violet seemed to take a fancy to them Christmas morning. She was quite entranced with the buttons.066060

The past two Saturday brought spindle visitors! Adele and her husband drove over from a small town only about 35 miles to the west of us. They brought some lovely wood that he had used for carving but has since moved on to another hobby. We had a lovely afternoon visiting with them and hope to get together again one of these days. I was chagrined to realize I hadn’t thought to bring out my camera when they were here.

I would have forgotten to take pictures again this past Saturday when Susan and Michael stopped by on their way back to San Diego after visiting their son in Seattle. Fortunately Susan wanted to get a picture of her playing with the great wheel! I took a couple of pictures of her before Michael reached for the camera and took some pictures of the three of us.  Susan had been practicing her long draw with her Russian spindle and it showed in the ease with which she took to the Great Wheel.Susan spinning_2

Michael 1With miles yet to cover before stopping for the night their visit was short but sweet. We parted with wishes for a longer visit if they’re in the area again.

Ed woke up during the early hours Sunday morning sweating and chilled. We both felt pretty miserable on Sunday but whatever that was seemed to be a quickly passing bug. It probably helped that we both slept most of the morning and then lazed around reading, watching Dr Who and napping the rest of the day. Ed’s been plagued with coughing and sinus pressure off and on, we kept thinking it might be allergies since certain woods have triggered similar reactions in the past. Yesterday he decided it was time to see a doctor and get to the bottom of why he’s has so many cycles of feeling crummy. She found he has a bad case of sinus infection that she suspects has been there for months so now he’s on a course of antibiotics. His first in ages, well over a decade. The man used to never get sick. At all. This past year seems to have been making up for all those years. We’re both hoping for a much healthier year ahead. As such, we’ve continued to take it easy and not worry about work. I’ve enjoyed reading more than I may have read in the past six months, weaving, spinning on the Great Wheel and knitting on a sweater for our grandson. A friend from the days before we even had children came to visit for a couple of hours today. We hadn’t seen him in quite some time so it was great to catch up. We’d love to take a couple of days in the near future to visit he and his wife (she was unable to come with him) at their place on the coast.

Let sanity and common sense have the upper hand in this coming New Year!
We wish everyone a New Year filled with peace, joy, fulfillment and contentment.

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