Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Fading Along: A WTF Progress Report

** SPOILER ALERT: Please note that this post contains a photo of my completed first clue. And I talk about design features of the pattern for the What The Fade?! MFAL. **

One thing about knitting on a mystery knit-along that I never thought about: how non-Instagrammable the WIP will be. Not that I choose my knitting projects based on whether or not it'll look good on Instagram, but I do like to share photos of my WIPs in various knitty stages. Out of respect for the designer's wishes to keep the mystery alive for the fellow MKALers who don't want to know ahead of time what the clues will look like and want to be surprised, I haven't been posting much about my shawl WIP.

So far I'm thoroughly enjoying the MKAL. For a while there I thought I was never going to get the first clue finished because, one: I didn't cast on immediately after the first clue dropped because I was dumb and read the pattern wrong about which colours were going to be used first and so I started to second guess which end of my fade was going to be "Colour A". After a day of hemming and hawing, I looked at the pattern again and realized my mistake. Ugh. I shake my head at myself. So I stuck with my original fade plan. Then two: I was well on my way into the first section when I stopped to take a look at my work. I noticed something weird happening on one of my sides. Thinking I messed up, I tinked back a repeat and re-knitted it. But then I realized I messed up somehow, so I tinked back and re-knitted. I should have just walked away after that, but no. I have no idea what I did but I didn't like how my work was looking. So I went the drastic route. I frogged the whole thing and started over. A whole day's worth of knitting. Gone, just like that.

BUT, I did learn a few things from that first go-around. I discovered that my purl rows were too loose and it made for wonky and uneven stitches, which I'm sure a good blocking would fix anyway, but I still switched to Portuguese-style knitting whenever I had to purl since Portuguese-style knitting creates a tighter stitch and gives a much more even tension. It worked! An added bonus: the reduction of hand movements in Portuguese-style knitting (I'm usually a thrower) means I'm knitting the purl rows faster. Sweet! With all that time lost to the aforementioned knitting, tinking, and re-knitting, I needed to speed up my game to catch up. The idea of still working on the first clue when the second clue comes out makes me feel somewhat anxious.

Another reason why I needed to speed up the knitting: I kept forgetting to do the last increase on the increase row and wouldn't realize it until either the end of the row after the increase row or worse when I'm about to start the next repeat. Let's just say I've become quite the master at tinking back two-colour brioche! I'm just glad that I was able to finish the first clue the night that the second clue was released. Phew!

The third clue will be dropping tonight and I'm still FIVE repeats away from finishing clue two. It's silly for me to stress out about this since I generally wait until the next day (or the day after that!) to start knitting the newest clue. I'm one of those knitters that need to know what's going on and will check in on the spoiler threads on Ravelry to see what the next clue looks like.

Other thoughts so far:

♥ I'm absolutely loving how my fade is knitting up and wonder if any of the colours will be repeated in the design. I truly love the first colour on the "right side" of my knitting (it's House of a la Mode Glitter Gaudy) and would love to knit and see more of it in my shawl.

♥ I haven't woven in any ends yet. I looked at a bunch of tutorials on Youtube on how to weave in ends for reversible brioche and all the videos I watched basically said to do the same thing. Now I can go with that and give it a try or wait until the end and hope that maybe Andrea will say or have a tutorial of her own on how she weaves in her ends.

♥ It's not until I'm knitting it that I realized just how much I love brioche and keep telling myself that I need to knit my next project in brioche.

♥ While I'm loving the brioche, I'm really hoping that the next clue is something different and that this shawl isn't just straight up brioche.

And for those of you curious as to what my first clue looks like, here you go:

♥ Happy fading along!! ♥

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Yarn Ready, Let's Knit!!

Photo credit: © Andrea Mowry

Last night the first clue for the What The Fade by Andrea Mowry (aka Drea Renee Knits) MFAL dropped. I can't remember if I had mentioned it on the blog yet, but I decided last month that I was going to join in on the mystery fade-along fun. I haven't participated in a mystery knit-along in three, maybe four years? I think the last one I did was Ysolda Teague's first Follow Your Arrow

I discovered in my very first MKAL that I'm just way too uptight to knit a pattern blindly with no idea what it's going to look like in the end. I get too anxious about whether I'm going to like the end knit or if I used my knitting time wisely. I had hemmed and hawed over whether I should join the MFAL or not for weeks, but after going through all of Andrea Mowry's designs on Ravelry and realizing that I already owned a handful of her designed and that I love the last dozen or so designs that she has released, I finally made the decision to just dive in.

So I am.

I couldn't stop thinking about colours for weeks, to the point where I was seriously obsessed. I constantly had yarn everywhere in my house in hopes as I tried to find a fade that I liked. I was ordering yarn online hoping that the one skein I ordered would be the colour that would make my fade perfect but then discovering once the yarn arrives that it falls short in my expectations. I looked at what felt like a million yarn kits that practically every indie dyer was creating and wishing I had the funds to purchase them all. I had my heart set on ordering a kit from an Irish dyer but learned that I wasn't going to be able to catch the update. So I did what any knitter would do: I set about on putting together the kit myself. Sadly, that plan didn't work out as well as I had hoped. Since dye lots can vary from pot to pot and from one yarn base to another, the skeins I received were vastly different from the original photos of the kit I was trying to emulate. 

Rather than ordering even more yarn, I tried to work with what I had. I came up with two possible colour combos, a pink one (surprise, surprise!) and a yellow one (I've fallen in love with Hedgehog Fibres' Fool's, so pretty!! I want to knit alllll the things in this colourway!!). I had a hard time deciding between the two but in the end, the pink combo won out. BUT only because I had all six skeins needed on hand already, whereas the yellow kit still needed one more skein and my LYS has yet to receive their order of a particular yarn line that I've been waiting all summer for. 

My fade for the MFAL:

For the curious, from left to right: House of a La Mode House Fingering in Glitter Gaudy, Flock Fibre Studio Take a Hike Sock in Princess Tiger Cub, Hedgehog Fibres Sock in Film Noir, Hedgehog Fibres Sock in Bramble, Hedgehog Fibres Sock in Artifact, and last is Hedgehog Fibres Sock in Truffle.

Honestly, I would have been happy knitting this MFAL shawl with either colour combo (did I mention just how much I love Fool's Gold?) and think I would wear either set equally. I'm pretty excited about knitting with these gorgeous pinks and with two new-to-me yarn brands. I will admit that I am a little nervous about my fade - whether they'll blend nicely into each other, whether the last skein is too dark, and whether the middle skeins are too close in colour (FYI: Film Noir is a whiter base with pink, black/grey with specks of orange, Bramble is on a more yellow base with orange, green and specks of pink and yellow, while Artifact is a tan base with specks of pink, orange, green, black, and cyan). Well, we all know how to solve this, right? I'm just going to have to knit and see!

So, with that said, I have a date with my ball winder and need to get these six beauties wound up and ready to be cast on! Are you fading along, too? Or are you knitting with another KAL? Let me know what you're working on!

Happy knitting! ♥

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Knit In Progress: Rainbow Hue Shift

Do you ever encounter a pattern or project that once you see it or think about it, you just want to make it, but you don't? But you keep thinking about it for days, weeks, months, and maybe even years? Yet there's always something that holds you back from creating it? Yeah, I have a few of those. One of them used to be the Hue Shift Afghan.

For years I had admired this gorgeous afghan but always held back on casting one on. I had fears about seaming. I had fears that I wouldn't have the attention span to finish the pattern. Most of all, I had fears about weaving in all.those.ends. Actually, I still do. I used all these reasons for why I shouldn't cast on this pattern. But that didn't stop me from thinking about it and from time to time going to the pattern page on Ravelry to stare longingly at it.

Then, last October Knit Picks decided to do a week of giving in preparation for holiday knitting (I think) and gifting. That week they picked a specific pattern daily and gave them away for free for a 24-hour period. One of those patterns just happened to be the Hue Shift Afghan. Sweet! But once again I put the idea of knitting up the afghan to the back of my mind. Remember, I had all those fears.

Fast forward 9-10 months, I'm enjoying some adult beverages with a couple of knitterly friends. One of them just happens to be knitting away on a gorgeous, squishy, rainbow-y piece. I looked closer and had to audibly gasp out loud. She was knitting the Hue Shift Afghan!! She told me that yes, there are a ton of ends to weave in but actually, the pattern is incredibly easy peasy, it's mainly about picking up stitches for the individual squares, and there are only about three seams to sew up. I can handle three seams, right? Meh, I'll think about that when I get to that point. As soon as I got home, I ordered the yarn to make my own Hue Shift. It was now or never. Besides, I was able to knit up my Missoni-inspired blanket (which I still need to blog about) in a good amount of time without losing steam. I'm sure it'll be the same for this blanket...

After I got a few WIPs off the needles (re: a pair of socks...hey, I didn't specify exactly how many WIPs I needed to complete), I finally cast on the pattern I have been eyeing for years. felt good. Real good.

Although, there are a few things that I should have done before I had cast on. Like, read the pattern thoroughly (oh please, I know I'm not the only one who has done this from time to time!). Or to look for all the helpful hints and tricks on Ravelry from the other knitters who have knit this pattern. Had I done all that I would have found out that practically every knitter ran out of yarn before they finished their blanket or that others had reduced the number of stitches to prevent running out of yarn and therefore ended up with a smaller blanket. I would have also found out that I would be needing a specific colour for five consecutive squares and that I should just carry the working yarn up as I knit. Oh, and that I should be nice to my future self by making my edges neater and easier to pick up stitches on when it comes time to add a new square.

Instead, on my first square, I left my edges bumpy and broke the working yarn. Oh, Melissa...oh, really need to learn to read a pattern first and not just assume you know what you're doing! I'm far too lazy to rip out an entire square, and besides, it's the very first square and it'll be hidden away in a corner. So I left it as is. But I re-attached the yarn by doing a Fisherman's Knot for knitters and hope that I didn't use too much excess yarn. But hey, it's one less end to weave in. On the second square, I slipped the last stitch of every row purl-wise with the yarn in front. This was a total game changer and made picking up stitches SO much easier.

Did I mention that I like to live stupidly dangerously? I decided that since I'm a tight knitter I'll knit the afghan using the original stitch count called for in the pattern and will hope for the best. Ok, not the best game plan, I'll admit. But I'm hoping that by being stingy and carrying up yarns as much as I possibly can, maybe I can make it to the end without running out of yarn. Wish me luck!! This will be quite the epic game of yarn chicken, ever.

So, at the time of writing this post, I'm currently twenty squares in. Out of a hundred. I had this grand knitting goal of knitting a square a day so that I can get this completed by Christmas. HA! I haven't even been doing that since the day one! When I first cast on I was working on the afghan exclusively, those stripes and watching the stitches decrease rapidly makes for quite an addicting knit! I even timed myself to see just how long it takes me to knit a square (a little over 30 minutes, in case you were wondering...I know, could I be any more of a knit nerd?). I haven't forgotten about my other WIPs and so the new game plan is to alternate projects daily, which means I work on the afghan every second day. Although with that said, I do try to sneak in a stripe here and there on days that I'm dedicated to knitting on something else as a way of somehow making a teeny, tiny dent that is this afghan.

I find this pattern super easy to knit and to memorize, however, I do refer to the colour chart often to make sure that I'm using the right colour combo where I should be...since I do have a tendency to get lost in my own thoughts quite often. Once you get the first strip knitted up, you can pretty much see and make an accurate guess as to which colour comes next, otherwise, the knitting is quite mindless. I find that the regular switching of colours for each square makes me want to keep knitting, just so that I can see what the next colour combo looks like with the rest of the quadrant. Also, seeing the section getting bigger with each square finished makes me see progress and feel accomplished and so I get that knitterly high you get when you finish a project, even though I'm not finished the project just yet. Only a square. Little steps, I tell myself. Little steps.

Speaking of little steps, I should see if I can sneak in a row or two before I have to run errands in a bit. 'Til next time, cheers!!

Happy knitting!! ♥

Friday, August 18, 2017

Picking Those Needles Back Up

Sometimes, there comes a time in a non-monogamous knitter's life, when they realize that they really can have too many projects on the needles. I know, right?? This sentiment rings even truer for *this* knitter, when discovered, upon opening interchangeable needle set case after interchangeable needle set case, that there were no needle tips or even cables available for use. Um...what??

Thinking that maybe, just maybe I simply didn't put them away when I finished a project, I checked all the usual spots where I typically leave needles, notions, and measuring tapes. Nope. I checked all my knitting baskets and went through all my project bags because sometimes laziness takes over and I just want to keep knitting, so I'll leave needles in a project bag and over a span of a few projects the bag can accumulate practically half of a set of interchangeable needles. Yeah, no dice. But I did notice as I was going through all my project bags just how many projects I have yet to finish.

It was overwhelming.

I always tell myself that I can't cast on a new project until I get a WIP off the needles first. Obviously, that's not what's been happening here. And I have no one to blame but myself. So what's a knitter to do in a situation like this? Well, for one, I quickly closed the PDF for a newly purchased pattern and then I went to my pile of WIPs and grabbed one. The lucky WIP that I'm determined to get off the needles before the summer is over: my Exploration Station shawl that I had cast on about a year and a half ago.

I have absolutely no idea why I stopped knitting on this project. I remember how excited I was to finally be able to knit this pattern up. Looking over my WIP, there was nothing that was stumping me, I was and still am liking how this pattern and the colours are knitting up, I didn't run out of yarn, basically, all lights were green. Even more perplexing to me was that I had stopped knitting mid row. What was I thinking?

Luckily for me, this shawl involves different colours and sections so I was able to easily and quickly figure out where I was in the pattern and continue on knitting without any issues because I didn't even leave myself a note as to what I was doing. I know I have several WIPs where I won't be this lucky. And a part of me knows that's why I'm dreading and avoiding picking up some of those WIPs.

So the goal for this weekend: to keep knitting away on my Exploration Station...and to not think about the millions of ends that will inevitably need to be woven in if I want to consider this project completed when the knitting is all done. 

Just keep knitting...just keep knitting...just keep knitting...

What are you working on this weekend? Are you guilty of having way too many WIPs on the needles as me? Do you have any rules, tips or tricks to keep your WIPs at a reasonable number? Please let me know!

♥ Happy weekend knitting! ♥

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Summer of What?

A while ago I declared that this summer was going to be the Summer of Socks. Something that I thought, for a split second there, that I had come up with that no one else had. Yeah, no. Not even close. The Mister and I always say, whenever you think you've come up with something original just Google it and you'll find out that it's already been done (FYI: in case you're wondering, the first thing to pop up for me when I Googled it was Wendy Johnson's pattern page on Ravelry for her Summer of Socks 2008 KAL).

Regardless, I think I may have spoken too soon. Yes, I've been knitting away on socks since the start of summer but I haven't been churning them out as fast as I thought I would, or as fast as I would like to. For a moment I felt like I was on a sock knitting roll. I mean, I had finished my magical Rainbows & Unicorns socks, a pair of Rose City Rollers, and then last month a pair of (unblogged) Skews. I had ripped and re-started another pair of Skews that I had started over five years ago and was making some good progress on (as seen above). I also have a pair of plain vanilla socks on the go that's currently living in my handbag and feel like they're knitting up faster than I had originally anticipated.

But then the sock knitting madness swiftly died down. I had cast on, then two weeks later bound off, a shawl (that was sort of unblogged but you can catch a bit about it in this post), and soon after I cast on a pullover AND a blanket. Sock knitting had somewhat taken a backburner to the new and more exciting projects. And did I mention new? With that said, over the weekend I did, however, get some renewed sock knitting motivation after I had finally finished the first sock of the aforementioned rainbow stripey goodness that is this knee-high version of Skew.

This sock had turned out much better than I had hoped. Especially since I didn't plan in advance on how I was going to make these knee high length and to accommodate my meaty calf. The ribbing section is a bit longer than I would like but deem it a necessary compromise for not distorting the stripey visual had I continued on with trying to make the leg longer. I just hope that I made my notes sufficient enough so that I can replicate this for the second sock! To make sure that I don't take another five and a half years to knit the second sock, I made sure to cast it on the moment I wove in the ends of the first.

Hopefully, I can keep this sock knitting momentum going but we'll see. My new blanket WIP has taken over my brain (it's new! and exciting!) and I just recently found a long forgotten shawl WIP that I would like to finish - preferably before Andrea Mowry's What the Fade MKAL starts at the end of the month...which I've decided to join in on (more on that later). Not that finishing the shawl before starting a new one matters too much at the moment, as I haven't figured out colours or yarn yet. And who knows if I'll even get that sorted by the time the KAL starts. Surprisingly, I'm ok with that and with not casting on the second the first hint drops.

For now, I should really concentrate on finishing these magical rainbow knee-high Skews. And maybe getting a square finished on that blanket...and maybe try to figure out where I left off on that shawl WIP...

Oh, right. The socks...

Friday, August 4, 2017

Don't Blink

Oops! Too late. I blinked. And now it's August. I'm not even going to attempt to explain what happened to the time and how we're already halfway through the summer. All I know is that "rollercoaster ride" doesn't quite describe how these past few weeks have been. There was a death in the immediate family and shortly after it was my brother-in-law's long anticipated wedding. Our truck decided to stop working and the mechanic's bill still makes my jaw drop. Although there was a ton of travel time peppered throughout, I surprisingly didn't get much knitting accomplished. Aside from the weather being way too hot, especially in a vehicle, my navigator duties just didn't allow me to get that many stitches in.

But that's ok. I think my hands fully welcomed and appreciated the big break from knitting AND I didn't feel like I was "wasting my time" (which I usually feel when I watch TV or something and not knit at the same time). There was a lot of time spent with family, socializing, catching up with old friends and meeting new ones at the same time. Consuming copious amounts of wine and champagne and trying to learn a dance routine for the quasi-flash mob like dance that was to take place after the grooms dance with their mothers to get everyone on the dance floor (it sort of worked, I think guests were more in awe).

I did, however, cast on a new project. Out of need, you see. I realized, once again, that all of my WIPs were either too big to carry around or required way too much brain power and therefore rendered it a non-mindless knit. When I travel I like to pack along easy peasy projects and/or something that's straight up stockinette or garter. I usually like to bring two or more projects because you never know what kind of situation you'd be in and how discrete the knitting may have to be (for instance, having to wait in a deli for your sandwiches to be made versus spreading out on a patio as you enjoy some tunes at sunset). I always bring socks and either a shawl or a sweater. For some reason, everything that's on my to-knit list just wasn't cutting it for me. 

After a dive into the stash, I finally settled on casting on a V-neck Boxy by Joji Locatelli. I've been wanting to knit this pattern up for months now but always made excuses as to why I shouldn't. Oh right...because I have a lot on the needles already...


I wear my Boxy Pullover so much that I keep meaning to knit up another. So when Joji released the V-neck version last year I knew I just had to knit it up eventually. And I say eventually because I have my eye on the worsted version too. I honestly believe that you can't have too many Boxy pullovers in your wardrobe. Especially when you have a good amount of sweater quantities in gorgeous colourways in your stash.  

Speaking of stashes, I've decided that I MUST go on a yarn diet. Pronto! My stash is getting out of control. Correction: my stash enhancements is getting out of control. As I've mentioned several times before, I keep a spreadsheet of how much I knit up (WIPs don't count, just FOs), how much I added to the stash, and how much I take out of the stash. I won't say exactly how much I've added to my stash but I will say I've barely knitted up 6,000 metres. The past few months I've taken advantage of sales, free shipping offers, and joining friends on group orders. Various members from one of my knitting groups have been downsizing their stash, and who am I to turn down free yarn??

From my Instagram feed
Taking advantage of Sea Turtle Fiber Arts' epic summer sale

So, with all of you as my witnesses, I hereby declare that I will not be purchasing any more yarn. For the month of August. Unless I destash a whole whackload, then it's ok IF I want to purchase a skein or two. And yes, I'm only saying that as a safe guard in case I am able to make it to Fibrations this year (up island travels are on our summer bucket list this year). Hey, I'm only human! And yarn fumes can be so, so dangerous!

How about you? How's your summer been? What have you been working on? Have you been adding to your stash as vigorously as I have?

Happy Knitting! ♥

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Lately in July

Summer is officially here! Which means we're trying (not that hard, I might add) to find a new routine and settle into it. This generally means getting me and the Kiddo out of the house on a daily basis to enjoy the summer sun while doing something remotely active, because you know, being parked in front of the TV all day playing Xbox really isn't my idea of a great summer (regardless of what the Kiddo thinks!). Not to mention that it has hit me again that the Kiddo is getting older and I need to enjoy as much of the kiddie stuff as I can before he outgrows it all and before it's no longer cool to hang out with your mom so much.

That said, we've done absolutely nothing these past two weeks, even though I've been insisting to my family that we need to go out and "make some memories!". I'm pretty sure the Kiddo appreciates the more relaxed pace, though, and not having to do any writing assignments!! I'm enjoying slowing life down just a smidge too, and it's not like we haven't been doing anything. We've enjoyed Canada Day celebrations, attended free concerts and the Pride parade; we've met up with friends for play dates, knit dates, and Pok√©mon Go raid battle dates; we've spent time at the public library, time by the harbour, and time at the park...and there's still over seven weeks of summer left to go! Woah!

I'm only looking forward to the cooler months solely for knitting purposes. For now, I'm savouring the warmer weather. Which is rare. Cause I never savour warm weather. Warm weather and I just do not mesh well together. For some reason, this summer is different. I'm not sure why. I was hoping to get a lot of sewing accomplished this summer but alas, my hopes were dashed when it was discovered (in a not so fun and stinky way) that the majority of the electrical outlets in half of my house need to be replaced. On top of the other handful of maintenance work that needs to be done. I live in a tiny townhouse and so having all of my sewing stuff out just isn't feasible. Ugh.

Knitting it is then. Lots and lots of knitting. I'm currently working on three pairs of socks and just a few days ago I had cast on the most wonderful shawl, which you can see a little of in the photo above. This morning a box of yarn arrived on my doorstep and it's taking every fibre of my being to not cast on the blanket I've purchased the yarn for (pun, totally intended!!). Or the slippers that I've been eyeing since last winter...which there was also yarn for in that aforementioned box. Or to cast on one of the many new skeins of yarn that I've added to my stash recently...that's not part of that arrived this morning box. So.mucgh.yarn. We won't go there today. 

While the feelings of casting on all the knits are pretty strong, the feelings of finishing a few WIPs are equally strong, too. I just need to stop looking at pretty pictures of yarn and all the beautiful snapshots of knits on social media, cause my willpower is weak. It would also probably help if I actually sat down and took the time to do some knitting too...instead of looking at pretty pictures of yarn and all the beautiful snapshots of knits on soc...oh wait. 

Vicious circle.

Ok, I'm going to close all my browsers and settle down with some knitting. I hope you get the chance to do some knitting today too! 

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