Too many drafts, too little time

Where did June go? I just checked, and our last post was on 31st May, and now it’s suddenly the end of June?

I love my new job (so much!!!!), but it has left me a bit discombobulated when it comes to days of the week and what’s happening when. June is full of science festival events and summer schools, so I have been up to my neck in PVA glue and glitter. July will hopefully result in a calming down of my schedule, as well as working regular days, which should make things a bit easier to keep on top of. Things like blogging when I’m supposed to.

20170622_153711_001In knitting news, I’ve finished one train sock and started the cuff of the second. I really like how it’s turned out so far, and they’re going to be super comfy, although it’s currently too warm to even think of wearing them. 20170622_153521

At home I have a shawl on the needles for TV knitting, but over this coming weekend I plan on washing my gauge swatch so I can look at making a cardigan for the office.

Re: Baby Christening Shawl

Well.

How does one follow a post like this? Except to blog about the one project I couldn’t blog about for years.

Way back in 2012, when I was planning my wedding, I decided to knit a wedding shawl. I picked out a pattern, but for the yarn I was less sure. I ended up buying two lots of undyed yarn, some silk laceweight and some merino laceweight. In the end, the shine and the lighter colour of the silk won out over the softer, creamier merino and half of the yarn went into my own hopes for the future.

Afterwards, I was left with a reasonably large, shawlish quantity of lovely laceweight wool, and a scheme was hatched. Although Cathy and I never really spoke much about it directly, I suspected that, with luck, within the next few years there would be a tiny baby in the mix. And tiny babies need snuggley blankets.

I had already fallen in love with A Stoir, a shetland style baby blanket (and free!). The shetland construction is so satisfying and lovely, and the humour and whimsy of A Stoir, with it’s ducks and little z’s, suited my idea of a tiny person’s blanket better than a traditional stitch pattern. According to Ravelry, I added the pattern to my library back in October 2013, and I’m certain I cast it on immediately because that’s how I roll.

Of course, I couldn’t blog about it because that’s how surprises work. So I worked away in secret. The blanket itself was actually a breeze to knit. A nice, well written pattern, good yarn, probably some good tv, and a good reason make for good knitting conditions. I finished the centre, picked up the boarder stitches and knit that, and knit on the lace boarder. I’m not sure when I actually finished it (super secret project means no ravelry project page and I didn’t write it down anywhere), but it probably only took a month or so.

And then it went to live in a Ziploc bag.

2015 rolls around, and Cathy shares her exciting news with me.

2016 rolls around, and little Ciarán arrives.

April 2016 arrives and we plan a very short flying visit for me to meet with wee man.

A few days before I fly over for that first visit, it occurs to me that I should probably block the blanket. Because it wouldn’t be a truly heartfelt gift from me if it wasn’t at least partly last minute.

Unfortunately, I never actually took any photos of the blanket myself, but I’m not sure it could look any better than it does right here.

Worth every stitch.

Recovering Physicist

I gave a talk on Monday night about physics and was a bit at a loss of how to describe myself, professionally speaking. I’m not a physicist anymore, I lost that label when I finished up my last job with no intention of returning to physics research. It’s weird after ten years of having a noun and an affiliation to fall back on to float free, but I’m so happy to be starting a new chapter on my life.

And that chapter starts today, with my first day at my new job. I’m not a physicist anymore, I’m an outreach assistant, getting to devote myself fully to STEM outreach in exchange for money. As a bonus, my new job is just across the road from my old physics job, so it’s a good excuse to keep in touch with friends, something that does not come easily to me.

Of course a job means a commute, and a commute means train knitting! I have plenty of WIPS I could work on, but decided to treat myself to some sock yarn and cast on something new. I got some Schoppel-Wolle Jeans Ball, which I hadn’t come across before. It’s a little more sedate than their delightful Zauberball offerings, but still with a bit of interest. I got the green colourway, which looks a bit like a sprout to me.

2017-05-17_08-46-24My phone isn’t great at picking up the colours here, but think fresh sprout rather than overboiled sprout!

Pattern-wise, I wanted something with enough interest to keep me engaged but something that would be doable on a crowded train, so I went with Boddam. The pattern is based on the gansey traditional knitting patterns, which is something I’ve never tried before. From my limited knowledge, ganseys are pretty much the next door neighbours of aran jumpers, knitted on British island communities and worn by fishermen. You can read a little bit about the similarities and differences here. 2017-05-17_08-45-25

I’ve already cast on and finished one cuff (because nobody wants to cast on on DPNs on a train), and am about to embark on the leg. It’s worth also noting the lovely bag these socks will travel in, which was given to me by my lovely co-blogger Cathy.

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Now and next

After my spectacular display of pattern-reading skills last week, I’m on the home stretch on my waiting for rain. The garter ridges are behind me now and it’s on to the edging.

One nice thing about this pattern is that it comes as two files. The first is the pattern itself, and the second is a document dedicated to “hacking” the shawl. I love the idea of having instructions and guides for adding stripes or extra short row sections, without cluttering or confusing the main pattern itself.

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One of the hacks is a lacy picot edging. Although it means a significant increase in time over the vanilla bind off instruction, I prefer the knitted-on border option. I find that the fit between bind off and the shawl is never quite right, and a small discrepancy in a sightly too tight or slightly too loose bind off can add up to a lot over the course of such a long edge. Of course, each to their own and I can definitely see the appeal of the clean, crisp line that the bind off offers.

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Of course, I will eventually finish up this edging, and more importantly I have less than two weeks before I start my new job, so I’m already planning my next knitting adventure. I’m thinking socks will make for some solid train knitting, and I have my eye on Smaug Socks as something with enough to keep me interested but not too much for a commute.

I’m smart except when I’m not

I cast on a new shawl since the last blog post. I got some lovely lambswool fingering weight in a warm reddish brown from Colourmart, which is currently being knit into a Waiting for Rain. I’ve had the pattern since This is Knit did their KAL, but never had the right yarn to hand for it.

I have to say, it’s such a pleasant pattern to knit. Huge chunks of mindless garter with flashes of lacy diversion.

Of course, me being me, I had to get myself all tangled up, metaphorically speaking, for no good reason. The shawl is broken into four sections, each with a chunk of garter followed by a lace short row section. Somehow I got it into my head that I had to knit 12 garter ridges (24 rows) at the start of the third section. So I did. Then I checked and saw that it wasn’t a 12, it was a 10. So I dutifully tinked two rows, which was long but at least uncomplicated.

Then I did a stitch count just to make sure I was now in the right place. I was supposed to have 330 stitches. I had 360. One or two stitches out, fine. It’s the kind of pattern where these things can be fudged, but 30?

I checked for errata.

No errata.

I checked for comments, forum posts, helpful project notes on Ravelry.

Nothing.

2700 projects, and I was the only person to notice 30 extra stitches?

Sometimes you’re the only person brave enough to say that the emperor has no clothes.

Sometimes, you’re just an eejit.

I will give exactly no prizes for guessing which category I fell into.

Turns out, part three starts with 10 rows of garter, not ten ridges of garter. I had 20 rows where I should have had half that. Every two rows, the pattern increases by six stitches, three on each end. Over 10 rows, the shawl would increase by…

… let’s see …

… 30 stitches.

Delurking

So, it’s been a while since we blogged here. One of us has an excellent excuse, one of us, not so much. I am, of course, the latter.

I did, however, get a lot of colouring in done…

When I try to think about what has happened since we last posted, there’s no big thing, just life, happening consistently as the months pass. Then one day you realise that you haven’t blogged in over a year, you never did pop over to visit that friend like you vaguely promised you would, and that WIP you put down got tidied away and you can’t quite figure out where you were in the pattern.

But then sometimes you pick up that WIP and fly through til the end, over Christmas you’ll have your annual lunch with one of your besties and feel like you’ve never been apart, and then you find yourself sitting at a keyboard wondering what shall I blog about today.

A few years ago, I blogged about frogging my In Dreams WIP. I don’t know if it was the yarn, the pattern, or just me, but I fell out of love and called a halt.

Haul from Edinburgh Yarn Fest 2016 (wollmeise is the blue hiding at the back)

Then last year I was at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival and fell foul of the Wollmeise booth and, oops, found myself in possession of some gorgeous blue lace weight, and suddenly I was dreaming of In Dreams again.

The first section of In Dreams

Suddenly the pattern that dragged me down before was flying along. Except for the part where I broke one of my needle tips, but interchangeables were to the rescue!

In Dreams in its unblocked glory

Now it’s finished and it’s huge and it’s glorious, and I’m so happy I finally got back to it. Maybe there’s hope for this blog after all.

In Dreams Shawl

A Happy Hat

I’m really happy with how my Happy Out Mitts pattern turned out, but one part always bugged me. The HOM (because I’m too lazy to keep typing their full name) use just shy of 50g of sock yarn. This is great when you are able to get 50g balls, like Wildefoot and a few other brands, but most sock yarn comes in 100g balls. So happy as I am with the HOM, there’s always the dilemma of what to do with the rest of the yarn. 50g of sock yarn seems too much to throw in with the rest of the sock ends, but it’s not enough to make a full pair of socks.

Of course, I could just knit another pair of HOM, but one only needs so many fingerless mitts. Ok, we all know that would never stop me, judging from my excessive shawl collection, but I wanted something different to do with the remaining yarn.

Enter the Happy Hat, or HH as I will now lazily refer to it. HH is designed to match the HOM and to use up the remainder of the sock yarn. I’ve finally finished the prototype and am in the process of writing it up so I can test knit it again. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, although I may tweak the crown a smidge.

I will put the pattern up on Ravelry when it’s ready, but if you’re keen and not afraid of winging it, I’ll give the rough instructions here. I may take them down later when the full pattern is published but it shouldn’t be hard to backwards engineer.

Happy Hat, a rough draft:

Yarn: ~50g of sock yarn

Needles: 2.5mm circular needle, or tip size needed for gauge. (Gauge is the same as the HOM, so you can just use the same size if you’ve made those) A long circular is best so you can magic loop it, unless you choose to switch to dpns for the crown.

Cast on 160 st. Long tail would be fine. I used Jenny’s Super Stretchy Cast On, which worked well and didn’t require me to guesstimate how long a tail I needed.

Work 10 repeats of lace pattern as with gloves.

Divide stitches into quarters. Each quarter starts and ends with one column of the lace repeat, so you should have eight columns in four pairs, with plain stockinette stitch between them. Work as set for 6 repeats of lace pattern or until preferred height.

Decreasing for the crown: You have four stockinette stitch panels now. At start of each panel, work a ssk. At the end of each panel k2tog. This decreases a total of 8 stitches.

Next round work as set without decreases.

Decrease in this way every second row until you run out of knit stitches.

On the next decrease row p2tog across the pkkp stitches at the point of the stockinette stitch panel. Knit next row as set.

P2tog across the four purl stitches between lace pattern sections.

On the next row, or the one after, you should come up against the sl1 k2 psso part of the lace pattern. Work this as usual, but on the next row don’t add the yarn over between the stitches.

From here on, decrease on every row evenly by 8 stitches until only 8 are left. Cut the yarn, pull through remaining stitches and weave in ends.

Pull over head. Feel warm.

This hat can be adjusted in a couple of ways.

Height can be adjusted by increasing or decreasing the number of lace repeats at the start or during the panel stage.

To adjust the width, increase or decrease the cast on stitches by 20 st. This will add four repeats of the 5 stitch wide lace pattern, one for each quarter, so the symmetry of the hat will be maintained. The rest of the hat should proceed as before, but with fewer or more decrease rows required at the end. If 20 stitches is too big of a jump, smaller tweaks to the size could be made by changing needle size, but this is where swatches will come in handy as you don’t want to make the hat too dense or too loose. I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader, as they say in textbooks.

Very easy being green

You know that feeling when you’re not sure the yarn is going to last until the end of the project, and you start to knit faster and faster as if yarn is a function of time rather than a function of distance? I’ve been playing that game with Mahy recently. Luckily I finished it just in time, or space, with a tiny bit left over, so I don’t have to send my sister on a yarn hunt before she comes to visit at half term.

20151016_151446I cast Mahy on during the Fibre Friends retreat, aka that long weekend I spent sleeping in Cathy’s spare room. During the weekend, I was able to finish the garter triangle, which made it quite handy for transport. For the central triangle you work up from a single stitch, starting every row with a yarn over for picking up later. Once that’s finished, you just bind off the top of the triangle leaving one stitch live for the border. Since I don’t usually travel with my full supply of needles, and I have the will power of a five year old, I had borrowed needles for the cast on, but since only one stitch was live in the end, I was able to secure it with just a paperclip. Cathy, I owe you one paperclip. Overall, Mahy was a very pleasant knit. It has a garter stitch base so every other row is a rest row, and the lace is not boring, but not too complicated for tv knitting. It would have made excellent train knitting if it wasn’t so huge. And man, this thing is huge! 20151016_151358

I didn’t block it firmly, just enough to stretch it out and show the lace, so it has a fluffy, slightly crisp texture. In fact, I’m already considering adapting it for a small blanket. In a soft yarn it would probably make a lovely baby blanket or a snug lap blanket. So now Mahy has been conquered, it’s back to my two deadline projects. First, the Happy Out KAL, which so far consists of 95% of a pair of gloves, but not 100% of a single glove. Once I finish the thumbs I’ll cast of a test knit for a matching hat. I have a feeling that will be another race against space time but we shall see. And finally there’s my Knitmas project. I’m really enjoying both the yarn and the pattern, and that’s all you’ll get to know about that for a little while.

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PS I wrote all this out a couple of days ago, but kept missing the lovely daylight for photos. In the meantime, I managed to block my Laminaria, so two shawls for the post of one. 20151016_151653

Things to do whilst knitting

Knitting is a great way to pass a commute, but it’s fairly rare that I’m only knitting on the train. Partly this is because I like to have something to occupy my mind while I occupy my hands, partly because having headphones in is a good way to avoid having to actually converse with other humans more than necessary. I mean, people are great, there are several that I’m quite fond of, but at the end of a long day, talking is not high on my want-to-do list. I tend to occupy my brain and ears with three things, books, podcasts and music, and I though I might share some things I’ve been enjoying.

Books (I use Audible for my audiobooks)

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell – Susanna Clarke

Over 32 hours of fantasy goodness. Simon Prebble does an excellent job of narrating this book. The book itself is full of footnotes, but they blend well into the overall narration and don’t feel intrusive. This is on my list of books to re-listen to.

The Girl with All the Gifts - M. R. Carey

A recommendation from Greg, our sneaky occasional guess blogger. This is one of those books where it’s better to not know much about it before reading it, so I’ll just say “go, read!”.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves - Karen Joy Fowler

You know those books you read where you don’t feel like anything will ever be ok again? This is one of those books. Really amazing, and another one where the less said the better.

Podcasts

Blasta (of course)

The Pen Addict – These guys are to pens what we are to yarn. They have also started using the word SABLE (stash acquisition beyond life expectancy) to describe their ink stashes, so they can’t be all bad

Hello Internet –  Where I get all my news. And by news, I mostly mean updates on the New Zealand flag referendum.

Music

I’m not a big music fan, so I’m not usually one to recommend things. However, if you want steampunk science fiction retellings of myths and legends, and who doesn’t, you may want to check out The Mechanisms.

Do you have a favourite audiobook or podcast to recommend?

Coming home to KAL

Life has been keeping me extra busy recently. Just after uploading the Happy Out Mitts pattern on Ravelry, I hopped onto a plane or two, and headed off to Spain for a conference.

20150911_081510It must be strange for the other people in the hotel, looking forward to a relaxing sun holiday only to find 200 oddly dressed nerdy folk suddenly descending. Fortunately for them, we are in the habit of hiding inside dark halls looking at powerpoint slides for most of the day, so we weren’t too much of a bother. I flew home on the Friday, went to sleep and woke up on Saturday bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to tackle the first day of our Happy Out KAL.

That’s a lie. I woke up with a conference cold, itchy from my 40-ish mosquito bites and sore from falling on wet tiles in front of important professors in my field. And ready to tackle the first day of our Happy Out KAL. Fortunately a KAL includes much sitting down and kept my hands too busy to scratch. 20150912_083837

After an early morning stash dive, I decided on my KAL yarn and a plan. I’m going to knit two pairs of mitts, one from the Zauberball on the left and one from the Knitsch Yarns on the right. That’s the first part of my plan.

For the second part, I’m going to go off script a bit. Since the mitts only take up half a ball of sock yarn, there’s the question of what to do with the other half. One option is to knit a second pair of mitts, but I’m going to try to design a matching hat to use up the remaining yarn. The Zauberball will be my first prototype, and the Knitsch will give me a chance to test the pattern myself before inflicting it on other knitters!

I should have plenty of time since the KAL runs until December 1st. Feel free to join us on Ravelry where we are graciously hosted by the lovely Blasta podcast.

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