Friday, January 28, 2011

Many mushrooms were harmed in the making of this sweater.

My husband's Christmas present is finally done!  We survived the flaunting of the sweater curse after all.
Stick a fork in it, it's done!  Or maybe you would need
a spoon, as it is not washed yet, so the yarn still
carries a faint aroma of mushroom soup.
Pattern:  Klaus by Julie Weisenberger
Source:  Cocoknits
Materials:  For the body of the sweater I dyed 12 skeins of Queensland Collection Kathmandu Aran with Porcini (Boletus edulis) mushrooms.  The grey stripes are knit from Cascade 220 dyed with Jack O'Lantern (Omphalotus olivascens)  mushrooms.

Those of you who have been following along for awhile already know about my husband's passion for mushroom hunting.  He has been an avid mushroom hunter ever since his grandfather took him out looking for porcini and morels from the time he was 4 or 5 years old.  And even though I credit my friend Tera with teaching me to knit as she is the one who got it to stick,  it was actually my husband's grandmother who first put yarn and needles into my hands.  So I think it is pretty cool that the two passions came together in this sweater.

This book helped me combine the two hobbies:

The Rainbow Beneath My Feet: A Mushroom Dyer's Field Guide
The Rainbow Beneath My Feet:  A Mushroom Dyer's Field Guide is a wealth of information on collecting, preserving and dyeing with mushrooms.

At knitting night I shared with the group that my husband has been wondering if the sweater would be done in time for him to wear it on his next mushroom hunting trip.  As I bound off the last few stitches my friend Karen joked that now he has mushroom camouflage so he will be better able to sneak up on his prey.  Those morels better watch out!

I will get my husband to model his late Christmas gift when it is washed and blocked but I took this quick shot of it as I was done seaming so as not to miss out on FO Friday at Tami's Amis.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

It's all downhill from here

Okay, I'm all done grumbling about my current knitting projects.  Both the Klaus sweater and the Antonia Shawl are over the halfway point.  Although I must say it felt good to get it out of my system yesterday.  After writing that post, I knit my fingers off and finished the sleeves on my hubby's sweater.  I'm so close to being done now that I can taste it . . . or smell it.  Umm, wait, actually I think that is just the smell of mushrooms still clinging to the mushroom-dyed yarn.  I'll need to find some nicely scented wool wash to wash the sweater when it is all done.  Any suggestions?

I mentioned before that the sweater pattern has unusual one-piece construction.  Here is a picture of it in it's current state so you can see for yourself:

Now when I fold it over I'm starting to see what it will look like when it is done:

And all I have left to knit is the easy part . . . just the stockinette portion down the back:

Same goes with the Antonia Shawl, just the easy part is remaining:

You can see that the border was the most intricate part of the pattern.  And now that I am nearing the top each row has fewer stitches and fewer lace repeats.  I can't wait to see what it looks like when it is finished and blocked.

I would say that I'm going to cruise through finishing up both of these but that would probably be cursing myself to some weird knitting mishap!  Instead, I will just suggest that you go see what some other talented knitters are up to on this WIP Wednesday!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Slogging Central

SLOG - v. 1. To progress with a slow, heavy pace against resistance; to plod  2. To work diligently for long hours

I've begun to think of "slogging" as a knitting term even though it applies to whatever you are working on.   As I work my way through a list of household projects, as well as my current knitting projects, the definition above feels like the story of my life.  Even though I am slowly checking items off the spring cleaning list (Isn't it worth making a list just to get that little bit of joy from crossing items off?) as well as seeing some progress on my husband's Klaus sweater, I don't feel like I am getting anywhere.

As far as the cleaning goes, progressing "against resistance" says it all.  It doesn't matter how long I've been doing this parenting/stay-at-home mom thing (I prefer to be known as "the household C.E.O."), I can't get used to the fact that as I clean out closets and do the deep cleaning, dishes keep appearing in the sink and laundry keeps piling up . . .  huh, imagine that!  I just have to remind myself of what my friend Angie once jokingly said when I was lamenting about never feeling caught up, "When you're caught up, you're dead!"  It's so true, isn't it?  I have a coffee mug to go with the sentiment:
My favorite mug. It's faded.

Coffee You Can Sleep When You're Dead Retro Vintage Refrigerator Ice Box Magnet - 2x3
Here is the same logo
on a fridge magnet
so you can see it better.
In the knitting arena, the feeling of a lack of progress is due partly to the fact that my current so-called "portable" project is in slogging mode just like my husband's sweater.  You may remember that I couldn't resist casting on for an Antonia Shawl, as I rationalized it would be my portable project, conveniently ignoring the hat I already have on the needles.   I thought it would be an easy project to knit during breaks from the Klaus sweater, but it is not turning out that way.  For instance, I had practically all day Saturday to work on it, as Angie and I were knitting in the Mt. Shasta ski lodge, ahem, I meant, doing our parental duties taking our kids out for a day of snowboarding.  But it seemed like I had to rip out a row for every two that I was able to knit.  My biggest error was actually not a knitting error, it was when I foolishly stated out loud that the pattern was somewhat self-correcting as I could see if I was in the right place in the knitting pattern.  It was only moments later when I realized I hadn't made an error in the middle of a row, I had just skipped an entire row of the lace pattern.  That was when I had to undo 2 rows of about 200 sts each.

It will be worth it though.  I made some progress after all, and it's turning out as beautifully as I hoped:

The good news is my husband is off on a fishing trip today, and I'm going to use that as an excuse to play hooky from the spring cleaning for at least part of the day.  So I hope to show you some progress on both projects tomorrow.  He has chosen a second mushroom-dyed yarn as the contrast color for the stripes on the sleeves of his Klaus, so I'm off to wind more of my hand-dyed yarn and to get some knitting in.

Friday, January 21, 2011

FO Friday- Warning: Repeat content ahead

I've been spring cleaning all week, i.e. not knitting, so I didn't think I would have anything ready in time for FO Friday today. But I couldn't sleep well last night, which is why I found myself on the couch at 5am, knitting and browsing for a Netflix download to watch.  That is how I stumbled upon Pushing Daisies.  Have you seen it?  If you haven't, it's available for instant download, so I thought I would mention it for it's amusing knitting content.  One of the main characters is a private investigator who "during times of stress or anxiety . . . liked to knit".
Note the knitted file holder and tissue box cosy on his desk.

Actual purling is going on here!
His continued annoyance with one of the other main characters is demonstrated by the fact that he finishes an entire sweater vest and two gun cosies in a week:

Not that I would ever knit a gun cosy, or even a tissue box cosy for that matter, but it is pretty funny.  And, of course, a television show with knitting content doesn't pass by without someone re-creating a garment worn by one of the characters and posting it on Ravelry.  So if you really like the show you can watch it while you knit "Ned's Toasty Scarf" by Lynn Hoffman.

I myself was able to get in a couple of episodes and finish up my second Annabella's Cowl before it was time to get the boy up for school.  Happily, I have something for FO Friday after all:

It's now officially my second Annabella's Cowl and I still love this pattern.  I won't list all the details here since I wrote about them both already, but it's Raveled here.  Now if only I can finish up my husband's Christmas sweater soon, I might have something for next Friday too.

Friday, January 14, 2011

FO Friday: Hand Dyed Mona Socks

Pattern:  Mona by Cookie A.
Source:  Knit, Sock, Love
Materials:  Kona Superwash Fingering hand-dyed with mushrooms, and US 1 needles
My Modifications:   None!   I am almost always tempted to change things up a bit when I knit socks, but Cookie A. is a sock designing genius after all, so I decided to follow the directions exactly.

My absolute favorite thing about these socks is that the slight variegation of my hand-dyed yarn matches that of the yarn pictured in Cookie A.'s book.  Both pairs of socks have a similar amount of light flecks which are highlighted by the texture of the pattern.  I had fun setting up a photo to demonstrate:

As mentioned in a previous post, it was just a happy accident that it turned out this way when I tied the skein up a little bit too tight before leaving them overnight in a dye-bath made from Jack-o-Lantern mushrooms.  I ended up liking the yarn enough to repeat the experiment.  The second time I increased the variegation by tying off more areas of the skein, and decreased the time in the dye pot for a lighter color.  This time the green tones really came through:

Can you believe that the licorice hue of my Mona socks and the olive tones of this new skein came from the same mushroom dyebath?   Dyeing with natural materials continues to fascinate me.  I hope to attend a workshop on the subject someday.  For now I'm educating myself through books and experimentation.  It is especially fun to work with sock yarn because every skein can be unique and still be enough yardage for a knitting project.  There are only so many pairs of socks I can knit from my own hand dyed yarn however, so I am starting to dream of my own Etsy storefront.  If I do open one, you will be the first to know!

As you know by now, I have been linking my Wednesday and Friday posts with other crafty bloggers over at Tami's Amis.  She has really started something, as there were 31 posts listed on the most recent WIP Wednesday.  It's been fun to see new projects, learn about blogs I wouldn't have found otherwise, as well as to both give and receive encouragement on the knitting front.  If you haven't already, I encourage you to join in!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

WIP Wednesday - A Little Bit of Knitting ADD

It must be contagious!  Although it is startitis that is going around, I think I've come down with a mutated strain more commonly known as finishitis.  I have a total of 7 WIPs, 3 of which I actually have in progress in different parts of the house.  I feel a bit like a bouncing ball trying to decide which one to work on.

I'm almost done with the Mona socks.  In fact all I have left to do is seaming.  But have I finished?  No. When I reached the toes, instead of doing kitchener stitch, I cast around for something else to work on.
I'll finish these before Friday to maintain my self respect.

Feeling guilty, I pulled out my husband's sweater that was supposed to be a Christmas present.  He didn't mind when I set it aside in favor of the holiday baking and the niece's and nephew's presents.  But now I don't have any excuses.  Well, maybe I have one excuse . . .   The pattern uses the unusual construction technique of first casting on for each sleeve lengthwise, then knitting from the back hem to the underarm, at which point you join the left sleeve to the back while using short-row shaping.  I started on it, but when I lined up the left sleeve with the back of the sweater it just didn't look right.  I'm slow sometimes, but it didn't take me long to figure out that I had cast on for 2 right sleeves!  After figuring that out the other night I went to bed without knitting any further.
That little ribbed area is the cuff,
it's supposed to be at the other end!

Later in the week when I had time to knit, I couldn't resist casting on for a whole new project.  I've had my eye on the Antonia Shawlette ever since I happened upon the Family Trunk Project blog and patterns.  I had been resisting new cast ons because I want to finish up some WIPs before heading off to Stitches West in February.  But then this luscious yarn arrived in the mail:

It is Plucky Knitter 50/50 Silk Merino that I won from Z Knits . . . and Sews 5th blogiversary contest.  It was a nice surprise, especially as it arrived in the mail the same day I posted my own blog contest.  I feel so lucky!  It was a perfect match for the Antonia shawlette pattern.  The shawl was inpired by a classic novel, Willa Cather's My Antonia, while the yarn color "Funny Affair with Tiffany's" was inspired by some classic movies.  If I am looking for an audiobook or movie to keep me busy while knitting, I'll have plenty of relavent works to choose from.  Thank you Zonda!

I will try to focus in hopes of not spreading my case of startitis around town!  It may be hard though after reading about interesting knitting projects on the WIP Wednesday list at Tami's Amis.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Not Too Uncool For School

Being a normal 14 year old, our son pretty much prefers the store bought beanies to my handknits these days.  But on this cold Monday, I was at least able to send his facsimile out into the world wearing a hand knit hat.  Of course I can't let that occasion go by without a quick blog post . . .

This weekend, he was toiling away in the garage on a project for freshman English.  After reading "Whirligig" by Paul Fleischman, each student was required to create an action whirligig representing themselves.  Once his was done except for adding some hair, he was ready to raid my yarn stash.   As I went looking for some brown curly yarn I realized that his whirligig could have hair and a hat.

Not that I am so organized as to knit a mini hat just for this project.  In fact, just the opposite.  Last time I knit a few hats for The Big Knit, I had a few which I didn't finish sewing up in time to put in the mail.  So this little hat ended up on his whirligig's head along with some Habu yarn that provided a fair representation of his curly top.

It isn't exactly orange and black, but close enough to go with his SF Giants logo.
Hmmm,  I really like that color combo.  I just might have to find some worsted weight in those colors for a real hat!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

New Year's Contest Winners

I loved reading everyone's bucket/basket list goals!  Best wishes for 2011 to everyone who took time to comment.  I hope you all realize your dreams!

The winners of the random drawing are below.  I thought it would be fun to include their goals.

1. Autumngeisha who wrote:
What fun! My basket list includes many of the same things as yours: to attend Rhinebeck for the first time, learn how to spin, knit an entire stranded colorwork sweater with steeks (I've been eyeing Ysolda's Little Birds), knit through my extensive to-knit list, design an original sweater pattern, knit one sweater for each month of the year....I'm short of breath just writing the list! Thanks for the contest (especially the lovely yarns!).

2.  Angie who wrote:  
Whew! That first one on the list has me sweating already! I must admit that #'s2,3,8 and 10 are on my knitting basket list. Add to that to purchase, knit, and wear the beautiful ruffled linen skirt pattern from the ladies at Stitches, to knit a sweater my husband would truly like to wear, and to learn to weave and own my own small loom. (To help me get through my stash!) Good luck to everyone with their lists!

3.  Closeacademy who wrote:
I'm wanting to learn how to do cables this year but I also have quite a few skeins of sock yarn that I want to work through this year. I joined a year long knit-along so I could get all those socks done. lol. That "Flower Power" yarn is really neat. 

4.  Tami who wrote:
What a great list and an amazing contest! Thanks for letting me know about it! I'm now a follower (which I thought I already was, but I guess not).
My 2011 knitting/crocheting basket list:
1. design a few different crochet purses and bags 
2. learn how to knit socks
3. make my first sweater
4. use half of my stash of yarn
5. start my own yarn dying company
I hope to do most of those in the first 6 months of the year, but we'll see!

The four of you will be hearing from me soon about your prizes.  I will send them off when you email your mailing address to me.  Happy knitting!

Friday, January 7, 2011

First FO's of 2011

As it is FO Friday I thought I would pop in and remind everyone that there is one more day in my New Year's contest.  Leave me a comment by midnight Saturday for a chance to win!  Thank you to everyone who already commented.  It has been a treat to read about everyone's "bucket list" goals.

Annabella's Cowl is as versatile as I hoped.  It works as . . .

 a scarf . . .

a cowl . . .

or even as a hood.
I actually can't see myself wearing it as a hood very often, but it's so soft and warm it may double as a pillow on my next camping trip!

Pattern:  Annabella's Cowl
Source:  PDF download from Churchmouse Yarns
Materials:  2 skeins Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend, and 1 1/2 skeins of Kidsilk Haze, US 10 needles

You all may remember that I cast on for one of these cowls prior to Christmas in a different color, but ran into a knot in the yarn where it was obvious that yarn from a different dyelot had been attached.

Being a glutton for mindless knitting, I had purchased enough yarn for 2 cowls.  I decided that knitting the second one would help me decide what to to do about the first.  Now that I have a finished one to try on, I can see that the Kidsilk Haze dominates the color of the cowl, even though it is the lighter gauge yarn of the two.  So I think I can finish it as is if I just continue to carry along the Kidsilk Haze, but I ran out!  So I will finish this one when I can find more yarn in that color.

I also celebrated New Year's by knitting this quick hat for a charity project my friend Karen collected hats for:
My first "stashbusting for charity" project of 2011.  I hope to do more of those in the coming year!  Thanks Karen!

I hope your hand knits keep you warm this weekend!