Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Back to Socks


My most recent creations are these Almondine socks from the pattern by Anne Hanson, in the book "Sock Knitting Master Class". I finally made a pair just for myself. I love the colorway and they are extremely comfortable. The yarn I used was Tosh Sock from Madeline Tosh in the colorway Plaid Blanket. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Yarn Lifeline

A dear friend suggested to me that I should be writing about how I am using knitting to deal with the grief of losing my husband.  And at first, I thought, no.  And I responded that nobody wanted to read my moping.  To which he pointed out that I didn't have to mope on my blog.  So I explained that I am a native Minnesotan, which means that my definition of moping is "admitting to feeling a feeling, ever."

But this got me thinking.  I'm not actually that good at writing technical descriptions.  I have the problem of being either too thorough and boring the hell out of everyone, or being too vague and technical and nobody knows what I'm talking about.  I am much better at teaching things in person, where the feedback is immediate and I can adjust my focus on the fly.

But one thing that I actually am good at is emotional honesty.  I have that wonderful habit of actually answering when people ask, "How are you?"  Sometimes people don't really want to know, but I figure if that's the case, then they should have just said hello and left it at that.

So, how am I really?  Well, not great, but incredibly hopeful at times and still reassuringly myself.  It depends on the day and the hour.

And the truth is that I did turn to knitting because of grief.  I turned to knitting because I like it, true, but part of why I love knitting is that it engages my mind in what is right in front of me right now.  Knitting is exactly how I keep from moping all day long.

Knitting is also a great way to control some of my little OCD-like tics.  Like counting.  I actually count a lot.  I find it soothing.  Knitting gives me a reason to count.  Sometimes, I am working on a row that I need to count and I think that I have forgotten to count and then I realize that I actually have been counting all along.  True story.  It's really no wonder that I like math.

And while there are little things about knitting that can remind me of Shervie, it has always been more my thing.  A kind of oasis of me.  I've been realizing that a lot of my identity and daily routine was extremely linked and associated with his.  Some of the hardest things are the simple everyday things, like clearing ice off of my windshield and cooking and brushing my teeth.  Even my last name has become dangerous since getting married. All of these evoke memories of him, some good, some not so good.  Knitting really doesn't.  Especially if I'm working on a new project.

And so I keep working, keep casting-on.  Because it gives me a reason to get out of bed in the morning and it feels good to be proficient in something.  Knitting has become my brave face.

And maybe I'm starting to branch out and reclaim a little more.  I recently seem to have discovered that I still like math and physics.  And it turns out that my biggest fear: that I'm really stupid and just relied on him to help make me sound smart, is completely unfounded.  Because I loved these things even before I loved him.

My life right now is like a familiar landscape that has just experienced a massive earthquake.  It is recognizable, but it needs to be mapped again.  Everyday I try to pull out my survey equipment and add another area to the known world.

What am I knitting?  Here is the Chickadee Sweater that I am working on for mom.  I'm really digging making sweaters lately.

And the sleeves are even the same length.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A New Sweater Project

Now that I have finished Even Flow, I have decided to start another sweater.  This one is for my mom (and funded by her; she bought the yarn).  I will be making Chickadee from Little Red in the City by Ysolda Teague.

A swatch of the yoke motif in the colors that mom and I picked.

I am very excited to be working a sweater with a yoke, and Ysolda's book is fantastic at describing pattern alterations. 

A box of yarn!  For me!

I have figured out the gauge (she got the same gauge on #5 needles that takes me #8 needles) and I am ready to cast on.  I will keep you all posted.

But first I need to finish my French Market Socks. *sigh*

I am on the second sock's heel right now, so I will finish these in the next few days.  But as someone who rarely makes a pattern twice, I am a drudge when it comes to second socks.

However, these are turning out to be really pretty.  And I'm finding that my stranded colorwork looks way more awesome after blocking.

Ooooh . . .

There is a bit of stress along the edge of the heel that worries me.  This yarn is a loosely twisted 2-ply, which means that it is super easy to break, but it grips to itself and the stitches around it.  I think that I will just reinforce this area with another strand of the same color stitched over it in Swiss darning.  This should make the row along the heel better wearing, but only time will tell.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Three Strand Colorwork

First, check out my stylish new sweater that I haven't taken off all weekend!

I am terrible at selfies.

Now, check out my new Craftsy and Etsy stores.

Finally, here's what I have been up to: Three Stranded Colorwork.  This is something that I really dreaded for a long time.  It just seems like there is so much potential for tragedy in the whole operation.  I mean, working with 3 strands of yarn at once?  Sounds like an accident waiting to happen.

But it's pretty.  So very pretty.  And so, last week I picked up the Lampwork Hat and Mitts kit that I got a few years ago from Knit Picks and had at it.

Not too shabby. Now on to the matching fingerless mitts.

Now, I may be knitting with 3 colors, but usually a row will only call for 2 of them.  So I have been exploring ways to control the yarn.

The thing that has always baffled me about stranded knitting is that there are so many different ways to do it.  But there are 2 methods I want to look closer at: 1. knitting with a color in each hand and 2. my way, in which you drop the yarn when you are not using it.

I finally tried the first one this week.  (There is a tutorial with lovely pictures here.)  I normally knit continental style, with the yarn feeding through my left hand, but I understand how English style (with yarn through the right) works, so I thought I would give it a chance.  And really, it was kinda neat.  It does keep your yarns from getting twisted, and the efficiency of motion in your hands is awesome compared to dropping the yarns.  However, I tend to knit with a pretty high tension; I am forever going up a needle size to get gauge; and I just could not get the yarn to feed through both hands with the same tension.  Actually, I had trouble getting the yarn to feed through my right hand at all.  I have really worked hard on loosening up a bit, and where my left hand has been trained, my right doesn't seem to have gotten the message.  (Kinda funny to be right-handed, and yet less able to control your right hand while knitting.)

I'm certain that if I just kept at it, this method would totally work for me.  All it would take is a little practice.

But I am stubborn and impatient.

So I just went back to my usual method.  I will assign a top color and a bottom color (and a middle color if needed) and then knit while keeping them oriented that way.  When I am not using a color, I simply lay it out of the way to the right, being careful to keep it in its place of top, middle, or bottom.

I found that this way gives me a looser tension than I normally have, which is great because that way I don't have stitches that are buried into the background.  Also, this keeps my floats (the yarn that goes across the back of the piece to the next stitch of that color) nice and loose.

I have also finally learned to tack my floats.  If you just wrap the yarn you aren't using around the back of the stitch, it turns out that you don't have to continually catch your finger/toe/etc. on the yarn left on the back of the piece.

And then I discovered that there was such a thing as color dominance.  This one blew my mind.  It turns out that which yarn is assigned to the top and which to the bottom makes a difference in the appearance of the finished piece. (Check out the link for a great picture to demonstrate.)  So I have decided that I will always have the darkest color at the bottom and then grade by darkest shade to lightest from bottom to top.

Finally, I finished the hat and have started my French Market Socks.  And I have to say, the choice of yarn for colorwork makes a difference too.  The hat was made in Knit Picks Wool of the Andes, a very nice South American smooth wool yarn.  I am making these socks in Jamieson's Shetland Spindrift, a Shetland wool yarn that has only a light twist and is a lot more "sticky" than the Wool of the Andes.  Turns out that Shetland is a very popular wool for colorwork and there's a reason for that.  The "stickiness" of the yarn makes tensioning a breeze.  Once a stitch is in place with the other stitches around it, it is not as likely as a smoother yarn to loosen up by itself.

Colors picked out by Shervie. Gotta love the twisted cast-on.

So, fairly long blog today, but it has been an enlightening week. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Tiny X-mas Present

I have a new pattern for all of you!  Here is my Tiny X-mas Stocking, now available for free on Ravelry!

Download yours today!

Isn't it adorable?
And in other news, I have finished the knitting on my Even Flow Sweater!  I will be weaving in ends and seaming pockets some time today and will have it blocked by some time next week.

This is the first sweater that I have knit and I am very proud.  

I have yarn all ordered up for my next one already.  I am planning on making a Chickadee by Ysolda Teague in KnitPicks Capra.

See? Two sleeves and everything!
All-in-all, a good week.

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter @AngieChervenak and I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Day After Thanksgiving

No blogging today. I'm taking the day off. 

But here is a picture of a cat napping in the sun. 


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Sleeve and Some Research

I'm not gonna lie. I haven't gotten a ton done lately. I haven't been feeling well. 

But I have made some progress with this sleeve. 


And I have a design I've been working on for a while nearly finished, but now I need to write down what I did to make it before I forget. I would show and tell more about this one, but I have a pitch in for a magazine and I need to see what they have to say first. 

I am also reading a book about small business startup. I figure that I should probably get a hold on marketing and bookkeeping if I am trying to freelance. 

So, not a lot of interesting stuff today, but maybe things will pick up if I can lose this nasty sore throat/ears thing that I have going on.