Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Brief Update

Not much is new, although the weather has become cooler and cooler. I'm back to knitting my own design, just the sleeves to finish now. I've done 3 1/2 of the 5 increases on the sleeves. I'm knitting both of them at the same time. For me, that's the easiest way to ensure that they end up the same.

That's all, for now.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

SoCal Knitting

There really isn't any real need to knit when you live in SoCal. It never really gets so cold you'd need anything other than a sweater to live comfortably here. Even sweaters should be light, since the coldest I can remember it ever being here was 32 degrees, and that was late night/early morning only. And only a few times in my 62 years of living here. Mostly, our winters here, which begin in December and sort of peter out in early Feb, run around the 50s, with dips into the high 40s at night.

So, cowls, hats, scarves, mittens, etc. have no real use, here. And yet, I really want to knit cowls and small shawls, a few scarves, and even a few hats. And fingerless mitts, too. (Those I can use, since it gets really, really cold on my hands when sitting at my computer in the winter. My computer sits in the direct path of a draft.) I love knitting sweaters, but almost always I love the big, complicated sweaters, with cowl necks or turtle necks, long sleeves -of course-, and lots of cables or complex stitch patterns. Just the sort of sweater I don't really need, living in sunny SoCal. The very first thing I ever knit was an Aran, cables front, back and on the sleeves. (I didn't know they were considered hard, so I just thought it was fun.) I wore it for years.

I get discouraged, though, limiting myself to sweaters all the time. I love knitting them, but there's no instant gratification available, and I find that as I get close to finishing my interest just dies. Like with my latest sweater. My own design, based on a stitch pattern I found in Up, Down, Around. It's been sitting in its bag for weeks, with just the last few rows of the back and the sleeves to go.

I've made myself a promise that I will not start another project until that one is completely finished ~ wearable finished, not just the knitting. And I'm finding it incredibly hard to keep that promise. I've bought new yarns, new patterns, gone through my currently owned patterns, and I keep wanting to cast on for a pretty cowl, or interesting small shawl, and even a couple of other sweaters. I have done swatches for a bunch of the yarns I have, to get an idea of what they may want to be. I haven't cast on, yet, but it's becoming more and more difficult to stick to that promise. And why don't I just pick up the sweater on my needles and finish it? I don't know. I just don't feel like it. I look at it every day and think, "I really need to finish that", but I just don't. I like the sweater, I like the yarn, and it's not a difficult project, now that I've worked out all the details (neckline, armholes, sleeve caps), but I just haven't picked it up and done it.

The last thing I knit to completion was a tank, back in July. Simple, fast, and wearable.  I tried to knit another tank top, but the pattern for it had too many problems in it, and I got too frustrated trying to solve them to even want to knit it. So then I played around and finally decided to design my own, which is now sitting in time-out, reproaching me daily for ignoring it. And the siren song of a new project is whispering in my ears daily.

May your knitting bring you joy and happiness, whether it's through the process or the product.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Passing of a Great Yarn Website

I received some sad news a little while ago. In about a month ~ November 15, 2014, one of my favorite websites for yarn and free patterns will no longer exist. Elann.com is closing its website and brick and mortar warehouse, and moving all its yarns to Amazon.com (us, ca, and a few other Amazon sites). I absolutely hate this. Hate it!

I love Amazon. I am a Prime member. Have been for years. But I love Amazon for its books. I don't buy anything else from Amazon, for the most part. An occasional CD, or I watch a movie on the site, but it is overwhelmingly my source for books.

I'm not sure if this move means that Elann will no longer be producing their "tasting and testing" yarns. I've bought a ton of those, and I love them. They are made exclusively for Elann, and they come with a lot of information you don't find on a regular yarn tag ~ micron count, for instance. And Elann takes our feedback on these yarns to decide if they should keep or let go of these yarns. How could that work on Amazon?

When I first started buying yarn online, Elann was the only place I could find great yarn. They would send samples of the yarns coming up for the next month, so you could hold them in your hand, knit them up in small swatches. (you had to pay for a subscription for this, but it was so worth it!) You got credits for buying (knitting) books, which you could use to discount your yarn purchases. And every $500 spent there got you a $50 gift certificate. Yah, I know it's only 10%, but it was still a kick when their tally hit  the number, and you got told you now had $50 to spend on anything. They also did a random drawing, and the person who won got a gift certificate for however they'd spent during that month. I won once, and I never win anything!

 They shipped everything US Priority Mail, so the wait was never very long. They offered a chat room (pre-Ravelry) where you could drop in and chat about knitting and just about everything else (minus politics and religion, of course). Just a couple of months ago I used their "Desperately Seeking" feature to find a skein of yarn I needed for a sweater, and the person who responded actually worked there, had exactly the skein I needed, and sent it to me (from Canada to So. California) for free, just asking that I would pay it forward some day. How do I do that once their site no longer exists?

I am just so totally bummed that they are going. I am seriously going to miss them. They offered terrific discounts on yarn, had their own delicious line of yarns, offered so many perks for shopping there. I wish there was something I could do to keep them operating on their own, and not become part of the monolithic Amazon reality. With the world of knitting growing so enthusiastically, I don't understand the logic of this move. They could have raised their prices a bit if it was the economy (Is Canada's economy tanking?). Charged a bit more for shipping, because I am sure they undercharged for it. ($5 for shipping 15 skeins of wool from Canada (or Washington state, where they have/had another warehouse) to SoCal? I don't think so. Ann and Robert Cannon-Brown are terrific people, and I'm sad to see them go. I wish them all the joy and happiness in the world, while I mourn the passing of their company and website.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Yarn Culture, online yarn store

I want to tell you about a new (to me) online yarn store: Yarn Culture in Fairmont, NY. I am so impressed by them! I originally ordered 4 skeins of Artesano British Wool from them,on August 11, in Teal. I got the yarn Thursday (quick!), but I was busy around that time, and I didn't do more than open the bag and look inside. And then I was busy working on my own design (see below), so I didn't really take it out to play with it until yesterday. And I was surprised to find not Teal, but Turquoise, yarn. So, I went online to their site and told them about it.

This morning, I got an email from Mitch at Yarn Culture, apologizing for the mistake, assuring me that 4 skeins of Teal were available and were being sent at no cost to me. Not only that, they didn't want the Turquoise back. Not only that (2), he noticed I had just placed another order with them, and since that yarn was soon going on sale (50% off), he was going to refund 50% of my order. And not only that (3), he gave me a discount code to take 15% off my next order.

Wow. What a terrific response to my problem. I don't think I've ever been so well treated by a company (of any kind). Not even Webs, which has terrific customer service, too.  Just Wow.

One other thing I really liked about this company: they sent little, knittable samples of two other of their yarns with the original order. I have already fallen in love with one of them, even before knitting the sample, called Hedgehog Fibers Silk Merino Singles. It is just so incredibly soft, and it's a worsted weight yarn with 262 yards of 50% silk, 50% merino in each skein. The colors it comes in are named things like Wish (my sample) Unforgiven, Malice (I like this one too), Hush, and so on. It's $32 a skein, so I won't be buying it this month, but maybe in September, or October. I just know I have to have something made out of this yarn in my closet. It's too yummy to let go. The other sample is of Rosy Green Wool, a 100% organic merino called Cheeky Merino Joy. They sent me the color Rose Garden, a nice, gentle red. It's a fingering weight, 23 - 26 to 4", on 2.5, 3, or 4 US size needles, and each skein is 350 yards. ($24 a skein). I'll be knitting that one up later today, and I bet it will look beautiful, but I truly don't have much use for fingering yarns, although I am looking at a couple of lacy shawls or shawlettes, really, that would use this weight, so who knows? Just click on that link at the top of this post, and check out this site for yourself. Be prepared to fall in love with some really luscious yarns!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Almost done with the body of this sweater

So, it finally cooled down a little around here, after almost a full week of high 90s every day. And our days don't cool off much even after the sun has gone down, so that meant it was still @ 90 at 10, 11, or even 12 at night.

Anyway, I've just got another 5 inches, or 1,440 stitches, to go on the back of this sweater, and I'll be ready for the sleeves. I'll do those both at the same time, since I find it hard to motivate myself to do the second sleeve if I've already completed the first. And it's easier to make sure they match each other if you do them at the same time.

While I was waiting for it to cool off enough to pick up my knitting, I got another knitting book. It's Knit in New Directions by Myra Wood. She uses templates, full sized, to structure the knits, and leaves it up to you to fill the spaces of those templates with any sort of knitted material you want. It's an intriguing way of looking at knitting, much like using a sewing pattern and making up fabrics to fit the pattern parts. Once I finish this current sweater, I'm going to play around with the ideas from this book and see how it goes.

I also got a bunch of new yarn this week. From Webs, I got 5 skeins of CEY Giselle, in a greyish blue, 2 skeins of Plymouth's Juli in a dark green, and 9 skeins of CEY Mesa in a purplish beige mix. From Eat, Sleep, Knit, I picked up 2 skeins of Targhee Worsted in Tanzanite, which is a beautiful tonal deep purple. I also got one skein of Alchemy's Haiku, in Sugar Mountain. (I'm still looking for Silk Purse in the same colorway, but so far, unless I'm willing to pay $40 a skein (and I need 2), I haven't found it.

From EBay, I got 5 beautiful skeins of Noro's Lily, a cotton/silk yarn (70/30) in a multi (of course) with purple, blue, teal off-white, and tan (and maybe more!) in it. I also picked up 5 skeins of CEY's Provence in purple.  (I'm beginning to see a purple pattern in this!)

That's all for now. I should be starting the sleeves on my sweater some time tomorrow (or later today, I guess), and I truly hope to be done with the knitting part (just sleeves and neck to complete) by the end of this week. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

May you find joy and contentment in your knitting, whether it's in what you produce, or in how you knit.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Some progress

Well, it's been super hot this week. Up in the mid-90s even at 10 pm. (It's impossible for me to sleep when it's that hot)

But, I have made some progress. I've done about 11 1/2 inches of the back - done in stockinette. I hate stockinette. It's so bloody boring. It's not that I don't like purling. I do. I think it's fun, and it's actually easier for me than knitting. Now that I'm nearly to the armhole bind offs, I'm kind of wishing I'd put a single repeat of the stitch pattern up the middle of this sweater. Anything to relieve the boredom. I know the sleeves won't be much better, but at least they'll have the one repeat of the pattern all the way around at the beginning. Just, after that, it's all stockinette to the end. And it's all my fault. I just had to cast on to make this sweater I had in my mind, with the stitch pattern I fell in love with. I mean, it's not even close to being wearable around here, not for months. It doesn't actually get cold until usually late December or early January. It starts cooling off by October, but high 60s and low 70s are definitely not cool enough for this sweater. Oh, well. It's the process, right?

I just got another book, Botanical Knits 2, by Alana Dakos. Some of the patterns in this book coordinate with the patterns in the first Botanical Knits, which is kind of cool. And I really like a couple of the sweaters she shows, too. It's 4 sweaters an 8 accessories, like the first one. And some of the accessories are really cute or good looking (since cute doesn't really say the right thing about these knits.)

So, I'm off to continue working on the back of my sweater. It's down to only 73 degrees (It's 12:37 pm), so it's the coolest part of the day.

Hope all is well with all of you, and you're finding contentment in the process and/or the product that you're working on.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Progress, or Lack Thereof

So, I had planned to finish my new design sweater by the end of this week. So much for plans. Just before I started to bind off at the shoulders, I noticed two things. The major thing, of course, was that I apparently forgot I was doing the front, not the back. (Every pattern seems to start with the back, for some reason.) So I hadn't bound off for the neck at the right place. Then, as I took a closer look, I discovered that I had made a mistake when I bound off for the armholes. I forgot I had two selvedge sts on each side, and didn't count them in the new pattern lines. So about 8 rows in, it created a jog in the pattern that wasn't supposed to be there.

So, gritting my teeth, I ripped back to the armhole bind-offs. Turns out it's a good thing, since I thought I had bound off on one row, but I had in fact bound off on a different row.  Basically, it was a mess, and is now much better for having been ripped back and reknit. Or almost reknit. I've just completed the bind off for the neck. I still have about 4 inches to go before the front is finished. I won't be finsihing the sweater this week, unfortunately. Next week, for sure. Well, almost for sure. (It's been getting a little hotter every day around here, which makes knitting a wool sweater a bit too, umm, sweaty for me.)

Be well, stay cool, and may you find contentment in both the process and the product of your knitting.