Give a hoot – Qiviut

alaska2018It’s pronounced kiv – ee – oot like give a hoot, and it is softer. lighter and warmer than cashmere.  This fiber comes from the under hair of 600-900 lb musk ox which are gently combed every day during the summer.  How would you like that job?

We visited friends in Alaska last week, and I was pretty excited to find out that there was a musk ox farm nearby.  I was also excited to see that they have mountains in their backyard (see photo above), but that’s another story.  See, the last time we were in Alaska we saw musk ox, but were not able to do a tour because tourist season had not started yet.  Instead I contented myself with buying some of the precious qiviut fiber and yarn.  Eight years later, I’ve been too afraid to knit or spin this amazing fiber because it’s “too good,” for just any pattern and my somewhat amateur spinning skills.

But really?  It’s just knitting.  I can do that.

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This is what $300 qiviut looks like!

Ok, maybe I won’t buy $300 qiviut to knit with…. after all I can handspin my own, thank you very much. But I did buy a 2 oz skein of qiviut/cashmere/alpaca with generous yardage.

Now the tricky part is determining a pattern to knit.

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Traditional qiviut patterns

Traditionally, the native people knit lace patterns specific to their area.  The book, Arctic Lace, talks about this more in depth.  Honestly, I do not know much more than this, so I would encourage you to read Arctic Lace and look into it on your own if you’re interested.  This display at the musk ox farm was really interesting to me.  I’m fairly confident that I could chart the lace patterns on this display, especially the one from the Seward area as that was one of the areas we visited on our trip.  I also found this Alaskan Moose scarf which, though not traditional, cracks me up.  So the question of the day is, what do I knit?  I have 2 skeins of qiviut from my 2 trips.  One a natural color, one a forest green…. both have generous yardage.

 

We visited this musk ox farm in Palmer, AK.  And just because I know some people will be wondering, the musk ox are only raised for their fiber.  They live until a ripe old age and are not used for meat.

All the News That’s Fit to Print

Due to a recent announcement that Area Voices will be shutting down, this blog will move to https://knittingupnorth.com/  Please head over there to follow me!  You will not see my blog posts on any Forum newspaper websites, so I ask that you click on the “Follow Us” button to sign up to have me delivered to you inbox when I post.  I’d hate to lose any of my readers in the move!  I’ll be working over the next month to migrate my blog posts to the new site.

There I was, enjoying my delicious cup of coffee…. just hanging out in my dining room… what, this old sweater?  You mean my super comfy, cozy Boxy sweater? 

The one made out of Malabrigo?  Why yes, I did make this sweater myself!  Have I mentioned that it is very comfortable? And that it goes very well with my brown and white patterned pants.  Who would have guessed that I would have very little to wear with these pants?!  Now, white and I don’t always play well together.  In fact, I’m incredibly paranoid that I will spill coffee on this sweater!  (So paranoid that there’s actually no coffee in that cup!)  (Actually, that might have more to do with the fact that the pictures were taken after I got home from work).  Regardless, it was clear that I needed a white sweater and that I needed one right away.  Since it’s April in Superior, I plan on getting at least a month out of this sweater.  For those of you not in Superior, we’re experiencing Second Winter with this weekend’s predicted snow storm.  I expect this will last until sometime in late May when we will get First Rainy Spring.

The details:

Start:  March 17

Finish:  April 7

Pattern:  Boxy by Joji Locatelli

Yarn:  Malabrigo Rios in Natural

Needle:  US 7

Modifications:  Knit seamless in the round.  I knit this in the smallest size because I was afraid it would hang down to my knees and overwhelm me if I wasn’t careful.  When I blocked this it grew beyond human proportions, so I threw it in the dryer for a few minutes when it was mostly dry.  I watched it carefully so that it wouldn’t shrink too much.  I absolutely love how cushy the fabric is.

 

And just for a giggle today…..  It’s a lot of fun having my girls be my photographer and stylist!

 

 

And just a reminder:  due to a recent announcement that Area Voices will be shutting down, this blog will move to https://knittingupnorth.com/  Please follow me there.

Hi! How’s it going?

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So there I was, plugging away at the Area Voices blog when all of a sudden, (*Bang, Boom! Crash!) I was told I needed to migrate my blog onto a new site because Area Voices was to be no more.

So here we are, chilling and knitting on the new site.  I sure hope you’ll follow me here.  Just click the “Follow” button over on the right and you’ll get a handy dandy little email every time I post.

See you soon!

Miles and Miles of Stockinette

 

I’m at that point in my projects where I am knitting what feels like miles and miles of white stockinette.  It’s the knitting equivalent of snow blindness!  I have two sweaters on the needles right now for me, which is extremely unusual.  It’s been a very long time since I’ve knit a sweater for myself.  Although Addie has already volunteered to take at least one of the sweaters if it doesn’t fit or I decide I don’t want it.  The Clayoquot Cardigan you see above is my Ravellenics project.  What?  The Ravellenics are over you say?  Well, hmmm…. guess I missed that deadline!  I hit a serious slow down with this project as I was knitting the body of the sweater.  The needles and the yarn were just not jiving together well and I was getting seriously achy hands.  (Did I talk about this already?)  Anyway, I splurged on some Lykke needles and things started moving faster.  Then I got to the SEVENTEEN INCHES of stockinette.  Which doesn’t sound like a whole lot of knitting, but it’s a whole. lot. of. knitting.

So I did what any rational knitter would do.  I bought a lot of natural Malabrigo to start a Worsted Boxy sweater by Joji Locatelli.  In case you’ve been off grid lately and haven’t heard every knitter on the planet talking about this sweater or one of the variations, this is a sweater with a whole lot of stockinette.  Like do the ribbing and then knit SEVENTEEN INCHES of stockinette.  Only this is a very wide sweater as it’s meant to be big and loose.  Do you sense a theme?  White.  Stockinette.  Lots of it.  I guess it’s to be expected as these are both adult size sweaters.  I’m extremely motivated to finish this sweater though, as I actually really want to wear it.  You see, I have some brown skinny pants that don’t really seem to match much of anything in my closet and I really want this to go with it.  Only in Superior do you knit a sweater in March & April and expect that you’ll still have time to wear it that year!  Ha!

I’m just taking it a bit further and hoping that I will be able to wear both sweaters yet this spring!  Actually I could see myself knitting another Boxy or two for the girls.  And knit in Malabrigo Rios, who could complain about that?  It definitely makes the miles and miles of stockinette a lot more fun to knit!

Oh, and that pretty little progress keeper?  It’s from my friend Knittymuggins over at The Violet Valentine.  Beyond just being an all around awesome friend, Knittymuggins has awesome color sense.  She’s getting ready for a trunk show at her LYS right now, so I can’t wait to see what she’s got up in her shop after the show is over.

So what are you knitting?

Process vs. Product

Several times over the last few weeks I’ve had the conversation about whether I am a process knitter or a product knitter.  The conversation is fascinating to me because I cannot imagine knitting any other way than the way I knit.  I simply cannot put myself in the mindset of the other knitter, as much as I might try.

For simplicity’s sake, I will define process knitter as someone who enjoys the knitting of the item, regardless of whether they finish the item or not.  The process knitter often likes new and unique construction (although not always), this person may never finish, weave in ends, or wear the item in question.  The product knitter is someone who wants an end result.  The thing that drives this knitter is having the completed item at the end.  They would never think of finishing a scarf only to stop before the ends were woven in.  Or, heaven forbid, not blocking a shawl that was finished with the ends woven in.

True Confession time folks:  I am a process knitter.  I cannot tell you how many finished but not blocked or woven in ends may or may not be lying around my house.  I have sweaters that are 2/3 finished in a knitting bag.  I have no desire to rip it out and start something else – I am simply done with that project.  Emotionally done.  I might be bored, or a new more shiny project inserted itself in my life.  I’m just done.  If I start a new project, my husband will say, “who’s that for?” He knows that often by the time I am done knitting something, I don’t really need the finished project anymore.  I’m happy to give it away.  I also find that often I knit things in colors that I do not really wear.  I knit it because its pretty, not because it’s going to fit in my wardrobe.  Don’t get me wrong, I do wear my own knitting, but sometimes I struggle with finding something to wear it with.  That’s also why sometimes I don’t show finished knitting on the blog… because I’m just done with it and don’t want to take pictures of the finished item.  I know, it’s odd.

Tell me about your knitting.

What I’m Knitting

I’m still slowly plugging away on the Clayoquot cardigan that was my Ravellenics project.  I have the 2 sleeves done and am up to the pockets on the body.  This is a struggle for me because it hurts my hands to knit.  I switched out needles and that definitely helps, but my hands still get tired easily when knitting it.  

I just finished weaving in the ends and sewing on buttons for the pink Snug cardigan.  I absolutely adore this pattern.  I like it so much I’m doing an itty bitty size.  I’m also going to knit a larger one as a class sample to teach this summer.  Oh, and those buttons you see above?  I’ve had those for years… they were just waiting for the right home.  I had imagined I was going to use them on a sweater for Lily at one point, but they never really fit.  I think they’re perfect for a little baby sweater.

Oh yes, and I finished a simple brioche cowl that you may or may not see pictures of.  I actually wore it yesterday but didn’t feel like a selfie was going to yield a result that didn’t make me look worn down and tired.  I will try to get someone to take a picture when I look more awake and less like I need 3 more cups of coffee to get through the day!

What I’m Not Knitting

Oh so many things have fallen to the wayside as I worked almost exclusively on the Clayoquot the last few weeks.  I’ve done a couple of baby hats here and there, but mostly they fall into the What I’m Not Knitting category.

Whatever your knitting style, I hope your week is filled with great knitting.  And remember, “Knit fast, it’s cold up here!”

 

Close Call

My Ravellenics project was going along as easily as a curler’s stone on ice right up until last week.  Apparently spending a long time on the phone at work with my head cocked at an angle holding my phone while clicking through hundreds of photos was a bad idea.  I got off the phone and had very little strength in my right hand with a lot of pain.  I stretched.  I gave myself a little shoulder rub.  I stretched some more.  It helped, but only a little.

It was a strong reminder of how important proper posture and ergonomics are.  In thinking back to a class I took with Carson Demers in August, I knew I needed to think through what I should change about my knitting habits and techniques.

  1.  Be seated properly.  Feet on the floor with legs at a 90 degree angle.  This is next to impossible in our living room with the current configuration, but relatively speaking I don’t spend all that much time there.  It is very possible to do at the desk I spend so much time at.  I have to remind myself to sit up straight!
  2. Stretch.  This list of hand exercises for knitters is golden.
  3. Take breaks often.  This not only means get up and walk around, but it also means drink a glass of water.  It’s easy to forget that water is the natural lubricant in our bodies.
  4. Change it up.  I know it is not good for my body to work exclusively on one project at a time.  It’s always better if I have one or two projects that I can alternate with.  Generally this is one fingering weight project and one project with worsted or heavier weight, or one with a significantly looser gauge.  This alternating of projects gives my hands a break.
  5. Use good tools.  I’m a big believer in using good tools when it comes to knitting.  I use good needles and am picky when it comes to the quality of the yarn I use.  In this case, I was using both good needles and good yarn and they were suited for each other.  But you see, the mouse I was clicking with was not such high quality.  I also wasn’t using the soft gel pad that I often put under my wrist to remind myself to lift up my hand as I’m click clicking away at photos.

Obviously, every knitter is different and your mileage may vary.  However, I find reminding myself of these things is very helpful.  And if you ever have the opportunity to take a Carson Demers class, I highly recommend it.  He’s smart and funny and knows his stuff.

My Ravellenics project may not get done as quickly as I would like, but I continue to make progress on it.  The sleeves are finished and I’m working on the ribbing on the bottom of the sweater.  I’m debating if the inside of my pockets should be a contrasting color, so I’m holding off on those for a bit.  To change things up I’m also doing a baby hat here and there in worsted weight.  See?  I’m actually taking my own advice!