What I’ve Not Been Up To

I have no exciting knitting to share. I’ve been very busy not-knitting, actually. I seem to have gotten into a bit of a knitting funk. I just have no motivation to pick up my needles. Savannah’s Harry Potter sweater is very close to completion and I just have not done it. I’m not sure what to blame this on. The pattern is very not exciting, for starters. It’s all stockinette. Once I finished the not-really-intarsia letter H there was nothing to keep it interesting. Is my attention span so short? Yes, apparently it is. And somehow, while I’ve been busy not-knitting it, it got to be May! At this point, I’m thinking there’s already no way possible that all my big projects will be completed for Christmas. And I’m thinking that’s okay. I’ll have to decide, once I’m feeling knitty again, which projects take precedence. I also think, however, that I kind of burned myself out with the number of projects I ended up making for last Christmas. Moderation: it’s good for all things. Anyone have any tips for getting out of my knitting funk? I really would like to start knitting again, but night after night, I just don’t. Hm.

While I’ve been not-knitting, we’ve also been not-sailing, which is a bit of a bummer. We spend Mother’s Day down at the boat trying to finish up the maintenance necessary before putting it back in the water. It’s very close now and it’s scheduled to go back in Memorial Day weekend. Of course, this would be easier if Alan – who is not a runner – hadn’t signed up for a 50k race on June 1. Why would he do such a thing? So… getting the boat ready and finishing up training will both be packed into the next two weeks. This should get interesting.

So what have I been doing whilst busy not-knitting and not-sailing? There have been softball practices and games and church activities. There was a First Holy Communion and a party. And there has been reading, which is a plus. It is hard to find the time for both knitting and reading (and I found out the hard way not to try to mix the two). I was inspired by the release of the movie (which I haven’t seen) to re-read The Hobbit, which I just finished. I intend to go on and read The Lord of the Rings books and The Silmarillion, but we’ll see.

So what have you not been doing that you should be or would like to be doing?

Intarsia, or lack thereof

Intarsia, or lack thereof

I finally got to the point of inserting the initial in Savannah’s Harry Potter sweater. I had been working under the assumption that this process would involve intarsia color blocking techniques. Then I got there and read the directions again. They actually tell you not to use separate bobbins, but to strand the yarn behind like you do for fair isle and weave it in every few stitches. I actually did read the directions when I first got them, but at that point I had no clue about multi-color techniques so it didn’t mean anything to me until I read it again after some research about intarsia. I’m a little disappointed. I was looking forward to trying it. Looks like that experience may wait until I get to making this firetruck sweater, specifically requested by Sammy when I was browsing Ravelry one day.

Anyway, here’s my H starting to appear:

IMG_4648It doesn’t show up in the picture, but there’s a little bit of puckering in some of the places where I weave in the stranded yarn on the other side. I find I have to be super careful about tension in doing that. I don’t want to leave it too loose, but too tight and I get a little pucker.

And the back:

IMG_4649I’m not sure why they would want you to do it this way. It seems like it would make for a neater finish if it was done as intarsia, but what do I know? I’m happy to see it coming together though, and glad for something interesting to do. Nothing but stockinette was getting boring, which becomes a factor in how quickly I get things done. Hopefully the rest of it will fly by and I’ll be putting it together soon – with nice, neat seams.

Well so much for that…

Multitasking, that is. Despite my efforts at making the most of my free time by knitting and reading simultaneously, I have merely succeeded in confirming that multitasking is inefficient and leads to errors. I measured my work; I was just about at the point to start adding the letter H to my first Harry Potter sweater when a mistake caught my eye. I’d managed to pick up an extra stitch on one end. After counting my stitches it turns out that I had in fact managed to pick up two extra stitches. Enter a brief mental struggle over whether to fudge it by knitting a couple sets of stitches together and be bothered by the error every time I looked at the thing, or rip a couple inches and do it right. I ripped it. It was painful. Lesson learned. I suppose I’ll finish this sweater eventually; it seems to be taking forever. It’s probably a mark of my generation that I so greatly prefer projects done with bulkier yarn and bigger needles. If not instant, gratification that comes at least a bit faster is so nice.

Time management

Time management

I’m supposed to finish the first Harry Potter sweater by March 4. It’s written on the calendar in permanent marker and everything. So far I have the back finished and just a few inches of the front. I’m thinking it’s not going to happen.

My knitting pace has slowed waaaaay down. There is only so much free time, and after the frenzy of Christmas knitting, I’ve been wanting to use more of mine with my first love and obsession: reading. The problem is, with the big plans I’ve already made for next Christmas, I kind of already have a schedule to keep to. Now, I’m well aware that multitasking is not very efficient. However, it is really good for silencing the part of my brain that’s nagging me to do whichever activity I’m not currently doing. So, while I may be both reading and knitting slower than normal if I do both at the same time, I’ve found it’s highly satisfying to do so. How does one knit and read at the same time? Well, you need a book that stays open by itself. The Kindle is obviously great for this, but at the moment I’m reading an old fashioned print book, so a binder clip helps keep it open. Also, quite obviously, this only works with a totally brainless pattern. The Harry Potter sweaters are all stockinette stitch – the bits that need shaping and the intarsia for the initial of course call for strict attention, but great swaths of it can just be done on autopilot.

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With the book held open, one need only stop to turn pages. Multitasking accomplished. Knitting pace may still be slow, but my free time satisfaction rate is high.

My first sweater

My first sweater

I finished my first sweater! (Hooray! Hooray!)

…It’s not one of the Harry Potter sweaters. (Boo! Boo!) I’m falling rather behind schedule on those.

I made a little orange shrug for myself.IMG_4533

IMG_4530Mostly, I’m quite happy with how it turned out. It’s perhaps a little wider than it should be for my size, but I moved the button over farther to compensate. I think the extra width came as a consequence of not really using the correct weight yarn for the pattern. The  kind lady at The Yarn Gallery worked out the conversion for me and really, it’s amazing to me that she could figure out the adjustments in needle size and stitch count to get it as close as it was.

The pattern is nearly seamless, as it just goes up and over at the shoulders, which was a very good thing. Seems I need to work on my seams. (haha.) I have no idea what the stitch I used for my first seam is called or where I found it. I thought I’d seen it on Pinterest, but if I did I must have neglected to repin it. Oy. I took the pictures of the seams without a flash because that actually made the seam more visible. Here is my first seam.

IMG_4570I wasn’t entirely happy with that one, so I tried a mattress stitch on the second side.

IMG_4568Look at that, it’s worse! The first seam, that I wan’t entirely happy with – the one that I have no idea what kind of stitch I used – is much less visible! Good grief. I could definitely recreate the first seam, but I wish I knew what it was… At any rate, in my internet searches trying to figure out what the heck kind of seam I used the first time, I found many good resources for how to make better seams – ones based specifically on what kinds of stitches you’re joining. I’m still learning that when doing something new it’s best to look for a variety of tutorials before beginning. Always nice to get a sampling of ideas, so you have a sense of where the best ones are. I’ll be better prepared for my next seams. For now, I’m comforted by the thought of just how difficult it would be for someone to simultaneously see both seams while I’m wearing the sweater. Maybe no one will notice that they’re different.

Birthday Girl in a Fluffy Skirt

Birthday Girl in a Fluffy Skirt

Felicity, my middle child, turned 5 on Sunday.

IMG_4549This was the first of my children’s birthdays that I managed to knit a gift for, and it was a long time coming. Way back in… September-ish-time, I stumbled upon the pattern for Smokey the Bear. It was one of those I need this yarn immediately moments.

(Aside: This is akin to the I need to own all Neil Gaiman’s novels and children’s books immediately moment I’ve been in for a while now. I must be growing some self control since that hasn’t happened yet.)

Now, a yarn shop is not usually a place I like to take the younger kids if I can help it. They like to touch everything. Okay, can’t blame them much there. It’s a very tactile experience. But it’s very distracting trying to pick out the yarn  I actually need whilst simultaneously ensuring that don’t totally rearrange the store… However, it was one of those addict-needing-a-fix moments, so Sammy and Lissie came with me to The Ball & Skein Shop.

There happened to be a ruffly purple and green skirt on a mannequin in the window of the shop. Lissie thought it was SO BEAUTIFUL! So, after Christmas, the ruffly skirt became one of my top priorities in time for a February birthday.

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The pattern calls for one of those ruffly novelty yarns like you most often see used for scarves to make the ruffles. It turned out pretty cute, but I don’t think I’d do it again. It was kind of a pain to work with. I did measure her waist, but you can tell it’s still rather on the big side. It does at least stay up, though, and should fit her for a good long time.

IMG_4564I must say, I’m rather glad that Savannah didn’t show interest in having one of these for herself.

Hermione Hat

Hermione Hat

After knitting many hats for Christmas, it began to get depressing to put on my old $5 Target hat every day. I decided to make a hat for myself. Of course, it had to be geek chic. That’s just how I roll.

Isn’t this hat lovely? Hermione wore it in the Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince film.

hermione hatI used this pattern of an interpretation of the hat. I made it as written, not using the possible modifications at the bottom. I think mine turned out quite nicely.

IMG_4497 IMG_4483I think my gauge must have been a bit off because my brim is a lot longer than it’s supposed to be. It’s all good though. I like a rolled brim anyhow. I am very bad though, I rarely check my gauge. Who wants to spend time doing that when you could be beginning the project?

Now I have a hand knit hat, too. 🙂