July, what’s up?

So, I spent the first week of July in California (San Francisco area) and it was lovely and sunny and pleasant temperatures, and I was fully prepared to come back and report on how I made it to a yarn store even though I hadn’t originally thought I would (2 skeins of Madelinetosh sock followed me home from Article Pract in Oakland – I couldn’t very well buy only one and leave the other one all lonely, now could I?).

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And I was also going to talk about how I got to see Lake Tahoe for a bit, and it’s just as pretty and alpine as everybody says (there are photos of it somewhere on a camera, um…somewhere…), and even with a cell phone camera it still looks like this:

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Then I was going to say that I even got some reading in (although it turns out that even if you read a tidy 50 pages a day for a week you will still only be halfway through The Luminaries, but it’s an engaging read so that’s not bad) which meant that most of the knitting I got done was my latest Lorna’s Laces jaywalkers. They’re done now though, and are pair #4 of this year’s sock drawer replenishment. (I may need to start doing more careful sorting of the sock drawer to make sure they all fit in there).

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What actually happened is that I arrived home to discover, in my (and everyone else in the household’s) absence, that a toilet hose had gleefully disconnected itself and caused a whole bunch of damage. So then for a while I wasn’t actually living in my house, and here we are 2 weeks later and the repairs are hopefully actually starting soon.

So it’s been a rather disorienting couple of weeks, but I have at least had the knitting in hand which is a good thing, and maybe August won’t be so bad? Let’s hope.

I hope you have a good Monday, knitter friends!

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Pattern: Jaywalkers (Ravelry link), pattern by Grumperina originally featured on Magknits, now free on Ravelry
Yarn: Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock, in ‘ghoul’s gala’ colourway, now re-released as ‘ascot

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And then you get a shawl

So it turns out that after just ten months of entirely undedicated and sporadic (mostly in movie theatres) knitting, and then a final push for about a week, ta da! You can get a finished Pi Shawl.

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This is my 3rd one of these, and definitely not my last. It’s an extremely versatile pattern, this thing that Elizabeth Zimmerman dreamed up. You can do it in almost any weight of yarn you want, and just follow the instructions until it’s as big as you want it to be. This is my 2nd one in sock yarn (aka fingering weight yarn) and I sort of want one in every colour (It’s nice to have long-term knitted wardrobe ambitions). I enjoyed wearing my last one as a spring accessory for chilly mornings, and this muted purple will be a nice versatile neutral colour for all kinds of situations.

The Pi Shawl, for real, is an extremely accessible pattern. Like many of EZ’s patterns it exists mostly as a set of guidelines that can be modified in different ways – her pattern instructions come with a lace panel version and this eyelet one that I’ve done (every 6th round is [k2tog, yo], producing a basic lace effect). If that’s too complicated, then all you really have to do is keep knitting around and around in a circle and doing increase rounds (which all go [k1, yo], repeat) in the order the pattern tells you. If you can knit in a circle, you can make a Pi Shawl.

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I enjoy that this shawl is fairly simple to execute on a technical level, because what it is really asking of you is not so much skill as emotional commitment. Everyone I know who’s done one of these eventually gets to a point where it has become All Too Much and it feels like it’s never going to end. In my experience this also happens about right before the point when it feels like It Might Actually End After All, and then you reach down into the depths of your soul and pull out the momentum you need to get it done. And then you get a finished shawl.

Possibly the only part with any complexity is the knitted edging to finish it all, but even then it can be just garter stitch (I didn’t even do a selvedge slipped stitch at the edge, eh, I said and threw caution to the wind). Even if it’s a new skill for you there, it goes on for long enough that you’ve got plenty of time to get past the ‘hey this is a new thing’ phase to move into the ‘this has been going on forever when will it end’ phase, and then once again you’re basically back to the Perseverance > Technical Skill level. I enjoy that about Pi Shawls, I tells ya.

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Super great. Probably by fall I’ll be starting a new one. Maybe in chocolate brown. Or bright red. Or both. Or maybe I’ll start on square shawls instead of circles, just for variety. (I may need help).

I hope it’s pleasant summer weather where you are. I’ve been enjoying the environs of San Francisco this week (these Pi Shawl photos courtesy of a friend’s cabin in the mountains south of Tahoe, where it is gorgeous), and it has been sunny and mild and not nearly the stifling humidity of Southern Ontario – it’ll be a bit whimpery to head back on Monday. But a bit more vacation time shall be mine, first. Cue up the sock knitting in the mean time!

Happy shawl (or other projects) adventuring! Keep knitting and eventually they’ll get finished, as it turns out.

[P.S. - for those of you wondering how I wear a circular shawl, here's me with my 2nd one.]

 

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Pattern: Pi Shawl (July shawl), directions in Knitter’s Almanac by Elizabeth Zimmerman
Yarn: Malabrigo Sock, in ‘eggplant’ (3.5 skeins and 5.0mm needles yielded a 5’9″-ish wingspan circle)

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Knitted-on edgings

My Pi Shawl is turning a corner into the “almost done” territory – the really for real almost done kind of almost done. I’m on the knitted-on garter stitch border, which is one of the border options that Elizabeth Zimmerman suggests in the pattern instructions. There are a couple of other more lacy options, and I had really thought that I would try something a bit fancier this time around – it’s my 3rd Pi Shawl and every other one has had the same garter stitch border. Turns out I like what I like, and I’m going to have 3 Pi Shawls in exactly the same style.

Pi Shawl - almost there

When I mentioned in my last post that a knitted-on border is really just a big slow cast-off, blog reader Linda (hi, Linda!) asked for more explanation about what that means. Well, here’s a nice aerial shot of the border in progress for a bit of visual support. Knitted-on borders or edgings come into play with items like shawls or blankets, where you have been working the piece from the centre-out and need to finish the edge in a way that is both visually pleasing and slightly malleable. This is especially true of circular or square shawls/blankets: If you were to bind off the edges straight out, likely the edge would start to pucker slightly. A knitted circle needs to be closed off by a slightly larger circle, not a snug one. Bind-off edges tend to be fairly firm, so adding a firm edge to a circle wouldn’t give it the nice drapey, wider-circle-than-the-circle-it-is-finishing-off kind of edge.

Enter the knitted-on border. This is straight-up garter stitch, nothing too complicated or patterned. started by casting on 8 new stitches right off of the live edge of the circle. on the right side of the work I knit 7, then do an ‘ssk’ to work 2 sts together – the final stitch of the edging plus one of the live stitches at the edge of the shawl. To come back on the wrong side I slip 1 st, then knit 7. I keep going like this until all the stitches are consumed. Effectively, this is knitting an edging and casting off at the same time, but really what’s happening is that the edging is eating up 1 stitch of the shawl edge for every 2 rows. Then when I block it, the outer edge will be nice and flexible.

On that note, I’d better keep knitting if I’m going to get this sucker done this weekend! Happy knitting this Saturday, friends – I hope you have a nice refreshing beverage by you too.

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Pattern: Pi Shawl (July shawl), directions in Knitter’s Almanac by Elizabeth Zimmerman
Yarn: Malabrigo Sock, in ‘eggplant’ (in progress)

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Sometimes it really does happen

In one of her books on knitting, the Yarn Harlot writes about the various knitting afflictions that can happen from time to time – Second Sock Syndrome, for one. Start-itis is probably the most common, and I know I certainly suffer from that a couple of times a year pretty reliably. (Notably: as soon as the first whiff of fall hits the air, suddenly seven new sweater projects seems completely reasonable.)

Cannon St. Pullover

I never really expect to get hit with the rare yet related ‘Finish-it-up-itis’ that Stephanie refers to, but you know I think I might have a touch of it. On Friday evening I cast off the collar on this stockinette pullover, a basic bottom-up-my-style-of-basic-sweater pattern I’d been working on last summer and then neglected. I tried it on right away, it fit perfectly (always a bit of a concern when so much time passes between cast on and cast off), and immediately I wanted to finish something else.

Pi Shawl - so close

My nearest target (i.e. quickest) is probably the current pair of socks on my needles that are about 40% done, but what I really have my sights on now is this Pi Shawl that’s been my intermittent knitting companion since the fall. I’m just ready to start the garter stitch knitted-on border that will seal the deal (since knitted-on borders are really just long exaggerated cast-offs)…although it is a knitted-on border for around 600 sts, so. Not exactly short work.

Nonetheless, i will persevere. I leave next Tuesday for a week’s vacation in San Francisco & environs, and in my imagination (which is always so productive), this Pi Shawl will join the cast-off projects list before then. All a girl can do is try!
Finish-it-up-itis, maybe you can stick around for a bit and we’ll get some stuff done.

Happy Wednesday!

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Pattern: Personal pullover pattern, completion/release TBD
Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca, ‘berry pie mix’

Pattern: Pi Shawl (July shawl), directions in Knitter’s Almanac by Elizabeth Zimmerman
Yarn: Malabrigo Sock, in ‘eggplant’ (in progress)

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Can’t stop won’t stop

I have reached some unexpected plane of knitterly existence where the idea of simply knitting up sock yarn from my stash has become eminently pleasing to me. I don’t expect it to last forever, and I must admit this isn’t a frequent sort of experience for me (I do so often lust after new projects that I haven’t purchased yarn for yet), but while I’m here I’m going to embrace it.

Ms Larock Ribbed Sock

These ribbed socks, picked up from a partially-complete (meaning: barely started and then forgotten) project from a while ago, came off the needles a week ago and are now happily resting in the sock drawer waiting for fall. They lasted long enough as a handbag project to come along with me to at least a couple of flicks – I think that little ‘oopsie’ row there happened during X-Men. (I like it when my mistakes provide a historical record of my movie-going habits. I can tell you exactly which socks I was knitting during ‘The Avengers’ and ‘The Hobbit, Part 1 of 10 Zillion’, good times.)

Ribbed Sock Ms LaRock

I let no dust gather on my 2.5mm needles and reached for the last set of Lorna’s Laces sock that I’ve had stashed since the 2009 Sock Summit. I bought a lot of yarn at that marketplace, but have always had a soft spot for the special release of Lorna’s Laces colours that I purchased there. The vampire tea party socks met their completion earlier this spring so it was time to complete the set and reach for the lovely ‘ghoul’s gala’ green colourway I bought alongside it. It has not disappointed.

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It’s so green and lovely and spring-like, and actually quite a subtle vareigated colourway for all the different shades of green it gets in there. Apparently this one was brought back from limited release land and is now a regular colourway in their line, called ‘ascot’. Green jaywalkers for all, I say!

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Of course, because I am me, I am also taking the opportunity of knitting on the 4th pair of from-stash socks in a row to think “hey, maybe I need to replenish some of that. I should buy more sock yarn to make up for the deficit, right?” (spoiler alert, if anyone were to accuse me of not having enough sock yarn left in the stash, um, I might also have a bridge to sell you.) So that’s probably a sign that my from-stash sock knitting jag is probably coming to a swift end. Better knit quickly.

Logic, what logic? I’m going to go browse sock yarn colours online.

Have an awesome weekend knitter friends!

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Pattern: A Nice Ribbed Sock (by me)
Yarn: Socks That Rock lightweight from Blue Moon Fiber Arts, ‘Ms Larock’ colourway
Needles: 2.5mm double-pointed needles (plastic-coated metal, probably Unique brand from several years ago!).

Pattern: Jaywalkers (Ravelry link), pattern by Grumperina originally featured on Magknits, now free on Ravelry
Yarn: Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock, in ‘ghoul’s gala’ colourway, now re-released as ‘ascot

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This time last week

This time last week I was in the middle of the longest day ever stuck at Dulles airport with a flight that was cancelled, rescheduled, delayed and then more delated. Which (surprise!) is pretty much the worst way ever to start out your week. But, the weekend trip that preceded the airport crud-fest was the nicest, and pretty much involved as much friendly knitter hangout time as possible.

(My trip on the way there was actually just fine and I even did a bit of on the spot spit-splicing whilst knitting away on my sweater sleeve. Good times.)

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I stayed with knitter pal Gwen, whose dog is pretty much the nicest guy on four legs.

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We chatted and knitted, and took a bit of time out on Saturday to visit her rec centre pool which was so nice I momentarily considered moving to Maryland.

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I had a full day of touristy wanderings on Friday and checked out a bit of DC, and the weather was several degrees warmer and sunnier than it has yet been here in southern Ontario, and it was pretty cool remembering what summer is going to feel like when we finally get it here. (Spoiler alert: it’s going to be great.)

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And on Saturday evening the knitters gathered, and ate guacamole and had margaritas, and chatted about books, and caught a show of ‘The Fault In Our Stars’ at the movies, and lo, it was good.

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And I also finished a pair of socks. Bonus! So basically I have my summer to-do list all prepped as a result: more knitting, more books, and more margaritas. Am I missing anything? Summerrrrrr, bring it on.

I hope your week ahead is a good one and has some sunshine in it!

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The system works

I’ve been merrily knitting along on my portable sock projects lately (so merrily that I took my ‘handbag’ sock project out of the handbag yesterday to knit on them at home, and then forgot about them and had no commuter knitting this morning, whoops), not entirely to the exclusion of other projects but pretty significantly. I’ve got some shawl projects on the go (the always-on-the-needles Pi shawl for one, a triangular shawl design I’ve been pondering, for a second), but only sock projects otherwise.

Future pullover

I started to realize that I have actually been missing the sweaters a little bit. Not exactly the same sweaters I hit the pause button on in April (they are both seamless, and at 90% done they are weighty in the lap and less amenable for spring…at least until the air conditioning goes up full throttle), but something with a little more oomph to keep in the rotation. And since I’ve been on a returning to unfinished projects run lately, I remembered that I did start a sweater pattern last summer, eventually put on hold once my commuter schedule took over (as well as, let’s face it, a pretty awesomely time consuming 2-sweater design that I’m really glad to have done).

It’s a pullover of my own devising, pretty basic since I wanted to do up a basic sweater pattern in my own knitting style (in pieces to be seamed, from the bottom-up, set-in sleeves), ideally with both a pullover and a cardigan version for versatility. And you know, I’d still like to do that – both for my own wearing and as a pattern.

Future pullover

I’d forgotten how far I’d gotten on it by last August, and it turns out it was pretty danged far. Front and back completed and part of a sleeve – on a pullover project that’s practically a finished project. (well, not really, but it’s still pretty close.)

I set out the finished pieces for blocking and picked up the sleeve in progress for some active work in the evenings. This is actually turning out to be more fun than I thought, going back to unfinished projects. I think next time I set aside a partially-finished projects I’ll just have to remind myself that it’s not so much unfinished as it is an almost-finished project for the future.

Also, it turns out I just can’t fully abandon sweaters for too long at a time. It’ll be sweater season again eventually, after all. Happy knitting this Monday, knitter friends!

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Pattern: Personal pullover pattern, completion/release TBD
Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca, ‘berry pie mix’

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