Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Dishcloths by the Dozen

That's the name of the Leisure Arts "little book" (you know, the vaguely odd pattern booklets they sell at places like Walmart and Michaels) that I mentioned before, when I was talking about the challenge to knit and crochet every pattern in said booklet.
So, how's it going?

Well, first, to get my feet wet, I knit this:

The pattern is #11: Variegated Dishcloth (clever name, yes?).  It started the game partly because it looked to be the easiest one, and partly because I couldn't wait to get the yarn (Colorway: Psychedelic) on my needles.  In fact, I'm so enamored of it that I used the leftover bit to crochet a smallish granny square cloth as well. 

Then I got curious about the striping colorway I found, which resulted in #12: Diagonal Delight Dishcloth:
Again, really easy pattern (and, yes, knit).  I love the way the diagonal pattern interacts with the stripes. 
Round three is yet another knit one (might as well get them out of the way): #9: Truly Textured Dishcloth.  Mostly I felt like this pattern was the best match for the earthy brown tonal I had, and I wanted to use the leftovers of it for a different pattern (more on that to come).  So essentially I knit this one just to get it out of the way for the upcoming project.  Because I'm cool like that.  Or maybe crazy.  Anyway, the textured one:
Finally, I started to crochet.  Technically, I started the crochet end twice, but the first pattern (which I thought would be one of the easiest) went sideways so I tucked tail and hooked up with another pattern: #8: Blue Mist Dishcloth
As you may have noticed, it is not actually blue.  It is a dainty little thing, though, and was surprisingly easy, even for a novice like myself.  Because it's pieced, I'm a little concerned about wear on it, so I may give it to my mom.  Besides, wouldn't she appreciate being the recipient of my first crochet project, after giving up on teaching me to crochet all those years ago?  I think yes.
Now, that's 4 down, 8 to go.  This is looking more doable by the minute.  And about that leftover brown. . .well, stay tuned :)

Friday, July 4, 2014

The ultimate challenge

When I started this whole "no socks for a year" project, I neglected to consider something.


Yes, we are lucky (??) to be having a relatively cool summer this year--it may get down into the 40's here overnight.  On Independence Day, for Pete's sake!  But there have still been many, many mid-to-high-eighties days.  Even a few approaching 100 degrees.  Now that's hot!  Add in the humidity that the Mid-Atlantic region does oh so well, and you can practically feel your skin starting to melt.

So what's the die-hard knitter to do?  Crank the A/C and knit whatever she fancies?  Hmm, that can get expensive, whether you have window units or central air.  I have neither, so that's also an issue.  Give up knitting and just twitch for a few months?  Never. Gonna. Happen.  I am one of those people who simply needs to create.  Yes, I do have a relatively creative job, but that only goes so far.  And let me tell you, I'm not baking much this time of year.  So not knitting is not an option.  Normally, this leads me to a logical result: something small that doesn't cover me up and raise the temperature.  Something that can be worked fairly easily without a written pattern to get soggy or sticky from a combination of sweaty fingers and ice cream.  In layman's terms:  socks.

When the go-to suddenly becomes a no-go, I imagine you can see how that can cause problems.  It also ends up taking you down unexpected creative paths.  Like laceweight.  Bonny, to be exact.  A dreamy, lacy, lightweight shell.  Yep, I'm knitting sleeveless wool.  It's at the same time strange and insensible, yet entirely practical and delightful.  It's also taking forever, with its teeny tiny stitches and so. much. stockinette.

So I needed a relief project.  Well, there is another type of knitting that is, in some circles, almost as revered as the great sock, and has all of the same practical summertime advantages.  You may have already guessed, since I love them so much:  Dishcloths!  But is that really challenging enough to keep me going?  Nope.  Enter the crazy knitters of the Comfy Chair.  For their seasonal knitalong, it was decided that this summer should be. . .wait for it. . . .crochet.  Yes, you read that right.  Knitters, take to your hooks and learn a new way to make!  It's crazy, but it just. might. work!

The two basic appeals of crochet for me have always been the lacy, scallop-y trims (which, in this case are not applicable since I possess neither the cash-flow nor the desire to knit an entire sweater/blanket/etc. just so I can crochet a trim on it), and the ubiquitous Granny Square.  There's just something about a Granny.  Again, though, I'm not really in afghan mode, so that brings us back to dishcloths.  There's even a pattern on the ballband of the famed Peaches & Creme cotton yarn for a basic Granny Square dishcloth.  I actually made most of one of the aforementioned with leftovers from one of my knit dishcloths to get my feet wet, so to speak.

But I'm getting ahead of myself here.  If I'm going to learn a craft, I'm going to learn it inside and out.  The same instinct that made me learn cables and mosaic knitting while my friends were churning out "cool" chunky garter stitch scarves makes me want to really know the works when it comes to crochet, as well.  So I was thinking, in the back of my mind, about a dishcloth pattern book I got way back in the day that showcased 12 patterns. . .it was hailed as "knit and crochet," but all four of the patterns on the front cover were knit, so I bought it.  Turns out only those four were knit.  Go figure.  Well, I managed to find the pattern booklet, and then one of my reusable shopping bags (a Flip and Tumble mini, which I got as part of a Simply Socks Yarn Co. kit, and love.  It appears to be no more, but the bigger version is here) turned up on my kitchen table full of this:

So out of the bigger challenge of no socks (I can't believe I'm 10 months in!!  Almost there. . .) arises a smaller challenge.  You see, I don't recall knitting any of the four patterns in that booklet previouly, and I darned sure haven't worked any of the crochet ones.  So now I've determined I'm going to make them all.  Why?  Because I can, or at least will be able to eventually.  Crocheting 8 different dishcloth patterns should make me a proficient hooker, and I've never worked a whole pattern book/booklet before.
I'm already almost 1/4 way there. . . Yes, I admit I started with the knits, but two of those are done, I'm working on a third knit and the first of the crochet (issues with that one at the moment).  But, that can wait for another day; it appears I've been long-winded enough this go around.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

In other news (AKA, hi! I'm still here!)

In my beautiful tragic crazy non-knitting time, I recently accidentally stumbled upon not one but two potential career switch opportunities.  Well, two instances of the same opportunity, but still.  The biggest issue standing in my way is the fact that the new job would call upon skills I haven't exactly used in a while.  So, needless to say, I've taken up a bit of "exercise" in optimistic preparation.

This is where that led me to tonight:

So now you probably have some sort of idea about the kind of work I'm trying to get into (really don't want to talk too much and jinx myself, yanno), but it's funny that it gave me the opportunity/excuse to play around with creating a logo for myself.  I've had the name in mind for a while, and since I started playing with the software again it all kind of clicked into place.  I may not get the job (though I'm keeping my fingers crossed, of course), but if nothing else at least now I have a way to market myself if I ever get off my duff and start writing up patterns.  And IMHO, it's totally cute :)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A brush with athleticism

February 2014 brought, among many other things, the Winter Olympics.  As most of you are aware, Ravelry runs a companion event, the Ravellenic Games, during the same time period.  It's the time when I get to be a "Ravthlete."  I am about the least athletic person in the world under normal circumstances, but when it comes to knitting. . . I can hang :)

So far I've finished only one item: my niece's Orchid Sweater.  Still need to do a full post on that, as it's a custom design.  I promise, I will.

The other two things I've tackled look like this in completion:

Yep.  Two completed "frogged" projects, which despite being depressing are still medalworthy.  In my case, two cardigans: A Farmer's Market Cardigan which was way too small, and the Dollar and a Half cardigan (the remains of whose sleeves you see above); that's a gorgeous pattern, and it had real potential. . .but I got distracted from it umpteen times, and, as you can see, the critters got the best of it while it was lying in wait.  Still pretty bummed about that.

I have a few other things to work on, but I did start a new project, as well, a Noro scarf.  It's the Pioneer Braid pattern, and I'm alternating three different-colored skeins of Silk Garden.  As crazy as it should look, the thing is actually turning out very pretty, and it's knitting up very quickly.  I can't wait to have it finished.

Because I'm not an athlete as such, I approached the start of the Games as more of a spectator/tourist.  And what does every tourist need?  Souvenirs, of course!!  The wonderful Fiona at Solar Flare Fibers dyed up a couple of special colorways in support of universal equality, and I snagged a skein of Winter Rainbow-Primary in a good sturdy BFL sock base.  Yes, sock yarn.  It's going to be my "victory socks" when the year is out.  By far I've never purchased yarn from such a great distance before (Australia!  Wow!), and it was a little like Christmas when it arrived.  Not only did the yarn live up to its photographs perfectly, but it came beautifully wrapped, and with the first "pretty" stitch marker I've ever owned. . . .well, a picture's worth a thousand words, so I'll leave you with these:

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The very hungry knitter

In the past two months I've daydreamed countless posts: after a slow day at work perusing houzz.com, a treatise on my personal style/design philosophy (which, honestly, is so eclectic I don't know how I ever distilled it down into a single blog post); then a celebration of finally finishing the little man's sweater; perhaps a comment on knitting for gifts, or a parade of FO's (most of which, ahem, have not been gifts).  I could certainly have commented on the housewares KAL I'm involved in.  Or the relationship of knitwear to winter weather.  But I have written about none of those things.

Indeed, instead I have knit.  Several small, practical items for keeping warm in the "polar vortex".  Large portions of a scrap yarn blanket, and probably a third of a bathmat design I'm noodling around on. 

For the past week, I've been alternating those two items with a cap-sleeved tee I'm working on for my niece, who will be 4 next month.  This one's really new for me, as it's a construction I'm not familiar with and I'm designing it mostly as I go.  It just about drove me crazy a few nights ago, but I'm pretty sure I've regained the upper hand.  More on that when there's more to that, so to speak.

So I am hungry for knitting, clearly, but that's not the reference of my title.  I'm hungry for design, for work, even, and since it was sort of a resolution this year I'm really trying to make a go of it and branch out.  Which is why I'm so excited, if surprised, by the opportunity that just came my way: someone I hadn't spoken to in years just contacted me about making a "Very Hungry Caterpillar" toy for her son's first birthday.  Very hungry knitter, indeed :)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Better late...

Tonight I'm dreading the snowstorm that's headed my way.  I have tomorrow and Thursday off work, but between the holiday and the fact of life in general, a lot of running around to do, if it's safe to do so.  Also, we live in a place where power outages are not uncommon (ours flashed off in the night, but luckily (??) Sweetie's back pain woke him in time to get everyone to work on time), so if God forbid we lose electricity (and thus our means of eating and heating) we have to travel to the in-laws' who have a standby generator.

Also, I'm dreading the idea of winding my second skein of wild honey, which may yet become necessary tonight.  Don't ask me why, I just don't look forward to that task.  So while I'm postponing the inevitable, here's a "proof of life" shot of my Mama Vertebrae cardigan, which you may recall I finished last month.  Just in time, in fact, to have professional family photos done.  I still don't have the final disc (I do have copyright release though, don't worry), so this is just one of the preview shots.  As you might imagine, I'm anxiously awaiting the rest

Monday, November 25, 2013

It grows...

I'm almost finished with the first ball of yarn, and done with the 4th set of short rows.  Not convinced at this point how it's going to grow to the finished size I'm dreaming of and consume another full skein of yarn, but for now I guess I'll just keep knitting and see.