Optimistically Speaking

Every year my Optimist Club does a hat knitting challenge.  It started many years ago when I had a hair-brained scheme  to get the (mostly) older men in my Optimist Club to do a project for the local hospitals.  I thought I could teach them to knit and they could knit a few hats here and there for the local Birth Centers.  Little did I know that they would discover knitting looms and that this annual challenge would go on for YEARS.  I don’t know how many years it’s been… probably around 10-11 years if I had to guess.

We set ourselves up into 2 teams.  Sometimes we pick up knitters from across the country who help us knit hats.  Everyone in the local club uses the looms with bulky yarn.  They think it’s hysterical that they can knit a hat on a loom faster than I can knit on 2 needles.  Everyone considers me a “ringer” to have on their team, even though I do not knit anywhere near the highest number of hats.  Oh, and the winning team?  They generally get chocolate.  And bragging rights.  It’s a pretty good deal.

This year the contest is running from February 6 – March 20, so there is plenty of time to get in on the knitting action if you’d like to play along.  If you’re a local knitter, stop on by the Incline Station in Duluth on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month.  If you’re non-local and want to play, just leave me a message and we can figure out how to get the hats where they need to go.  Or knit for your local hospital, that’s cool too!

Hats can be any size to fit micro-preemie through newborn.  Hats that are slightly larger than newborn tend to be given to the big sisters and big brothers of the new arrivals.  The local hospitals definitely appreciate these hats!

So far I’ve finished 3 hats during the contest.  that’s the short stack of hats in the photo above.  I kind of like having a stack of knitted hats sitting on my end table just waiting to have more hats added to it.  I have one or two more that I should be able to finish this evening…. but then the hat knitting will slow down considerably.  See, I’ve got Olympic-sized knitting to do.  I’m planning on knitting a Clayoquot Cardigan from Tin Can Knits during the Olympic Games.  If you haven’t joined a team for the Ravellenics yet, you totally should.  You’re only competing against yourself and it’s kind of fun to see just how far you can get.  So come on, jump into the deep end of the pool snowdrift with us!

There’s a Season for That

Have you ever noticed how people tend to get married or have babies in waves?

We’re in the middle of one of those waves.  Several of our friends and family members are having babies right now.  Between December and June there are 4 babies.  There’s not much I like more than knitting for little people!  The projects are fast and fun.
And I firmly believe that babies should be wrapped in wool to keep them cozy.  I tend to use superwash wool because I believe in keeping it easy for the parents.  I’m not a fan of acrylic for babies partly because I think acrylic sweaters make me feel clammy instead of warm and because I don’t like knitting with most acrylic.  Every knitter is different – this is just how I roll.

I’ve been combing through Ravelry finding new patterns to knit.

 

This sweater is the Garter Stitch Baby Kimono by Joji Locatelli.  (By the way, you pronounce her name the Spanish way, as though the J’s were H’s.  “HoHee”)  This was a really fun knit and the pattern was free.  It takes less than 1 skein of sock yarn to make.   I used a skein of Knitted Wit Victory Sock, which is lovely to knit with. It is quickly becoming one of my favorite sock yarns.  You are supposed to finish the neckline with an I-cord edging, but I thought the pico type edging was pretty cute for a girl.  I did not check my gauge on this one (I know!  Bad knitter!  But I often don’t on baby knits) so it is a little wider than it maybe needed to be.  However, I kind of like a little extra wiggle room in the belly on baby knits.

The hat was made almost entirely of the leftovers from the sweater.  I did throw in a couple of rows of sparkly white that I had in a mini skein.  Partly because I thought this little girl needed a little sparkle and partly because I was nervous about running out of yarn at the very top.  I ended up ripping this hat out once and redoing it with a smaller needle size.  I think it’s already on the large size for a 1 month old, but that’s ok, she’ll grow!  The hat pattern is the Sweet Norwegian Cap and I’ve made many of them.  The hat and sweater went to a friend who had their baby in December.

Speaking of growing, the hat at the very top of the post is one I’m doing for my brand spanking new nephew!  He surprised us all by coming at 33 weeks.  At 3 lbs 7 oz, he is one tiny guy.  Both momma and baby are doing well.  This hat is made from some leftover Quince & Co. dk yarn from my Clayoquot cardigan and is one I just made up as I went.  I started the hat this fall and then set it aside because I didn’t think I was knitting for boys and I certainly didn’t think I’d be knitting for a preemie.  See, the babies in our family tend to be girls and they generally tend to come on the large size (my girls were 9 lbs and 8 lbs respectively).  Just in case you’re wondering, I don’t gamble because I’m really lousy at playing the odds!  And I hate loosing.  The boy hat got put aside until a later time.  Probably a good thing because when I heard my nephew was born, it was right there beside my knitting spot, ready to finish.  The finished hat should fit an orange, which I’m hoping is about the right size.  If it does not fit, my sister can definitely donate it to the hospital for another baby to use.

 

On Your Mark, Get Set, Knit!

Is it Friday yet?  It feels like a Friday.  January kind of hit me in one fell swoop this week – and here we are more than half-way through the month.  Oiy!

Here’s What’s on My Mind…

February is going to be a great month for knitting.  First of all, there’s the Super Bowl.  Which since I probably don’t care a wit about who’s going to be in it (my poor Packers had a tough year this year) I’m watching for the commercials! Then, there’s the winter Olympics.  If you’re at all familiar with Ravelry, you might also be familiar with Ravellenics.  The idea of Ravellenics is to challenge yourself to knit something during the 2018 Winter Olympics.

My friend Knittymuggins and I were talking about the Clayoquot cardigan and steeking one day.  We fell upon the idea of doing a KAL with the Clayoquot cardigan, with the possibility of a skype phone call to do the steeking portion.  (Sadly, we live waaaay too far apart to do a in person steek together.)  Since the Ravellenics are right around the corner, we decided to do the cardigan as our very own Knitting during the Olympics KAL.  I encourage you to sign up for a Ravellenics team.  There are a lot of different teams out there.  I signed up for the YH Ladies one.  I tend to be a bit of a lurker when it comes to these big online group events, which is why doing a KAL with my knitting bestie is much more my style.

I’ve chosen this, The Fiber Co. Arranmore Light, as my yarn for the project.  I need to do a gauge swatch beforehand because time will be of the essence during the actual Olympics.  Wish me luck on that one!  Actually, wish me a lot of luck as my plan is to complete an adult size cardigan for me.

What I’m Knitting

I’m pretty much still knitting on everything I said I was knitting last week.  I did finish a Cindersmoke mitten (my 2nd one) but I need to knit a 3rd so that I have one class sample and one pair of mittens for me.  Yes, it’s crazy, but it makes sense in my head.

Loose Ends

Thanks to everyone who has commented on the blog in the last week.  It’s so nice (and slightly terrifying!) to know that people are out there reading this.

Hello 2018

I did a little experiment this fall.  I wrote down in my planner every project I was working on or planned to work on.  I wrote the start date, end date, if the ends were woven in, and if I photographed it.

I have finished 17 projects since September!  That’s not bad.  Not bad at all considering I feel like I have very little knitting time.  Rarely do I look back at my projects in quite this way.  Until I stopped to count the projects, I had no idea how many I had finished in the last four very busy months.

So often we focus on what hasn’t been done.  When I see this page, I struggle to see the completed lines; instead I see the holes.  But when you break it down into it’s component parts, it feels like accomplishment.

What I’m Knitting

Currently I’m working on a pair of Smooth Operator Socks out of Desert Vista Dyeworks Lords a Leaping colorway.  (that’s the featured image up above).  I’ll warn you that DVD’s website is very tempting…. it’s tough to not purchase a lot of really fun self-striping yarn when I visit the site.  This sock is my take along knitting.   It sits in my bag and I work on it at lunches, at the movies, and whenever I need knitting that I don’t have to look at while knitting.

The Cindersmoke mittens I am knitting for class are almost done.  I’ve set the second mitten aside so that I can work through the top of the mitten and the thumb with the class. 

I‘m also knitting a Snug baby jacket out of Claudia Hand Painted worsted.  I’m considering teaching this as a class.  It’s a simple enough design but it has some interesting construction that makes it great for beginning knitters or those who have more experience and want to try a new technique or two.

 

What I’m Not Knitting

I am not knitting the Find Your Fade in turquoise that you see in the Best Nine photo above.  I really need to rip it back, but ripping out mohair is not a fun experience.  Currently it is sitting in a bag in the drawers next to our sofa – I’m hoping that by putting it in timeout it will have time to think about what it has done and how it really wants to behave.

I also have a BLT shawl that I was working on for a class I taught that has been set aside.  I really like this pattern and the yarn is to die for, but I had more pressing knitting that needed to be finished on a timeline.

 

Loose Ends

Speaking of classes, I’m taking the yarn classes to the pub this month.  I’ll be teaching the Grain Shawl from Tin Can Knits at Hoops Brewery in Canal Park on January 23 and 30 at 6pm.  I’d love it if you could join us.  You do need to go to Yarn Harbor to sign up for the class.  I hope to see you there!

 

A Sweater Place

It struck me the other day when someone asked me what I liked most to knit, that I was in a sweater place.  Most of what has been on my needles the last few months has been sweaters.

There’s been this little guy.  It’s the Zip Up Cardigan by Hannah Fetig.   I have to admit, I was a little intimidated by the zipper.  I almost outsourced this to a tailor shop, but I was determined to try to sew the zipper in myself.  I signed up for a class at Stitches Midwest on putting in zippers.  It was much easier than I had expected.  The only hitch came when the sweet lady next to me at class informed me that I had purchased a non-separating zipper!  Darn!  I ended up having to purchase a new zipper from Zipperstop.com Once that arrived I was able to pull out my class directions and “zip” right through it.  I would definitely make this pattern (with the zipper) again.

 

Then, I made these two sweaters.  They are the Anthropology Inspired Capelet made with Plymouth Baby Alpaca Grande.  I made these for the girls to wear at my little sister’s wedding at the end of October.  Not to be content with following the pattern as written, I lengthened the arms and made each sweater longer than the original.  I really wanted these sweaters to be cozy on a cold fall day and I wanted them to have a bit longer of a life than just the one day.

I remember a day when I thought making a child size sweater was so neat because I, “couldn’t possibly knit something as big and involved as an adult size sweater!”  Child size sweaters just went so fast.  Now that my girls are in adult sizes (mostly), their sweaters still seem to move pretty quickly off the needles.  Plus, I can steal their sweaters and hand knit socks!  It’s a beautiful thing and I think I might have to savor it while it lasts, because I’m pretty sure my girls are going to take after their Daddy in height.

 

Last but not least is this little cutie.  It’s the Clayoquot Cardigan by Tin Can Knits.  This is knit in the round and steeked.  While I’ve steeked before, this was my first time using a crochet reinforcement.  I will definitely be doing this again as I really liked the way it worked to hold everything in place and I liked the way the crocheted line made a nice edging on the inside of the cardigan.  I also think that all of the Tin Can Knits patterns are well written.  I always learn something new from them and very often they make me stretch my knitting skills.

So, basically, I’m in a sweater place.  I’ve got several more started or in the line up.  After all, how many scarves do I really need?

 

Making a List, Checking It Twice

So here’s the deal.  I’m not a “work on one project at a time” kind of gal.  I like to have several projects going at once so that I can work on whatever I have the brain space for.  That means I usually have a garter stitch or stockinette stitch something going; I usually have colorwork or lace; and I usually have a little something with construction like a sweater.  Plus, I believe that knitting this way keeps my hands happier because I am not fatiguing them from knitting on the same weight/needle size too much.  I knit because I love to knit, not necessarily because I want the end product.  Which is kind of weird when you stop to think about it.

Zippered Cardigan

So when I was at Stitches Midwest last weekend the subject of how many projects some of us have going at once kept coming up.  I guess it’s a natural conversation piece when you’re around a lot of knitters.  Barry Klein from Trendsetters Yarn put it this way, he only works on one project at a time because that way he gets projects finished.  He is knitting for a season and to showcase a specific yarn.  I get that.  And yes, my projects are not going to win any speed race records any time soon.   And overall, I’m completely ok with that.

The Queue as it Stands Now

So I decided to take a look at what I was actually knitting along with the things that I know I have to knit soon.  It was a little alarming to know I had so many things on the needles.  And this does not include projects that are in hibernation.  (This list includes 2 things that are not cast on yet).  Now, some of these are just a touch or two away from being finished.  For instance, the orange cardigan just needs a zipper.  I took a class on putting in zippers at Stitches and if it weren’t for having bought a non-separating zipper, this would have been finished.  (Talk about a frustrating moment as my neighbor pointed out that my zipper did not separate at the bottom!)  As soon as the new zipper arrives, I will be 20 minutes of sewing time away from done.  At least 3 other projects are just as close to being finished.

The plan as it stands in my head right now is to not stress about the queue.  However, I am going to make every effort to cull it down.  I really want to get the Owl and the Cowl out of the way before I start the Cedar Leaf Shawlette.  The Cardigan is a shop sample so that gets done as soon as the new zipper arrives.  The Sockhead hat has no real due date and that tends to be my purse knitting – so it can finish any time.   And although I love the knitting, I think it’s going to be very satisfying to X the projects off the list when they are finished!

Vivid Blanket

Knitting Round Up

Can I just tell you how incredibly pleased I am with these sock blockers?  For many many years I used homemade sock blockers.  They worked ok, but it was slow going on the drying process as these were made out of vinyl placemats and they held water.  Then I upgraded to plastic sock blockers.  That worked ok too, but my house is a bit chaotic sometimes and certain members of my family maybe don’t put the same importance upon sock blockers as I do.  (Not that I’m blaming anyone)  So the plastic broke.  I still used them, easing the wet sock over the broken pieces and trying not to snag the inside of the knitting.  Finally, one day at work, I “splurged” on these metal frame sock blockers.  They have the nice hanger end – with the end piece covered so as not to cause problems with knitting that might be stored nearby.  The hanger means that 1.  You can store them easily in a closet.  2.  You can actually hang up your socks to dry.  3.  Lots of air circulation means that socks dry super fast!  Pretty cool, huh?

As for the socks, they’re a basic sock pattern with a little purl section here or there to keep things interesting.  I sort of made them up as I went along.  The gauge is a little looser than I would normally like, but they work well as socks for around the house.

I’m looking forward to a long holiday weekend where I can knit and sleep and (hopefully) enjoy the return of the sun.  (Sorry folks, the rain and cool weather is all my fault, I actually put away my warm sweaters this year to make room for summer clothes before mid-July)  This weekend I’m working on a little baby sweater for my cousin’s new baby and a bigger child sweater as a Christmas present.  I’m also bringing out the spinning wheel again as I’m determined to participate in Tour de Fleece this year.

I hope everyone has a great weekend filled with knitting, campfires, and a few s’mores – or whatever it is that you like to enjoy around the campfire!