Saturday, 29 March 2014

See my vest! See my vest!

Made from real gorilla yak chest!  Weird...

Anyway, about a million years ago I started knitting the Honeycomb Vest.  Okay, two years.  That's still a long time though.  I used Lang Yarns Yak which is a soft and squishy blend of merino and yak wool.

This was a bit of a different project for me from the start, because although I thought the yarn was dk weight when I bought it, it turns out that it was aran weight which is thicker, and therefore meant that I had to do a gauge swatch.  Yes.  Actual swatching.  And math.  How crazy is that?  I worked out that I would need to knit a smaller size than the one that looked like it would actually fit me, but I decided to trust the swatch and go with it.

I started the back in July of 2012 and maybe got a third of the way up before needing a break and knitting something else.  This stitch pattern is extremely fiddly.  Extremely.  It might not be so bad if it was knit in the round, but given that it was knit back and forth, it made it that much worse.  So when I got back to it, months after starting it, I was only able to handle doing a bit more before putting it back in time out.

This cycle continued over the next year and a half.  The back (eventually) got done, and the front (eventually) got started, and (finally) it got to the point where the back and front could be grafted together at the shoulders.  I think that was near the end of last year or the beginning of this one (sorry for the blurry picture).

And then that's where it stayed for a couple of months, because the next step required it to be blocked before all the finishing could be done.  Even though, truthfully, blocking doesn't take that much time or effort, I have a bit of a mental block (pun intended) about it.  Especially in this case.  Usually when you block something, that means that it's finished and ready to be worn.  In this case (and with other garments that are pieced together), it needed to be blocked to the proper measurements before it was ready for a lot MORE work.  I wasn't going to rush it.

Then, a few weeks ago I got invited to tag along to a small weekend retreat of quilters (some of whom are also knitters) and decided that it was time to bite the bullet.  I blocked the vest in anticipation of a weekend away with no other distractions.  I still brought other knitting with me, because if I only had the vest along it might drive me crazy, but my goal was to get it as close to finished as I possibly could.

The first evening I googled how to do mattress stitch and sewed up the side seams.  That took all evening but they turned out well.

The next day I spent picking up stitches and knitting the twisted rib around the neck and one of the arm holes.

And on the final morning of the retreat, I picked up the stitches for the second arm hole, and without counting as I was going picked up EXACTLY the same number of stitches as for the first arm hole.  I took that as a good sign so I powered through and finished the ribbing around the second arm hole, wove in the ends, and breathed a huge sigh of relief that this monkey was finally off my back.

It even fits.  Not perfectly, but pretty well.  Maybe it would have fit my July of 2012 self even better, but who cares.

Thank goodness that it's still cold enough outside to be able to wear a knitted vest without sweltering!… Just kidding.  I'd prefer if it was too warm for the vest.  I've waited long enough for the vest, I could have waited a bit longer.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Slog breaker

After writing last weeks post I decided I needed to knit something to break up the boredom of everything else I was knitting.  I had already picked out a pattern and wound the yarn a couple of months ago but hadn't gotten around to knitting it yet.

I chose the Knotted Pine hat because it would be a relatively quick project with some really interesting stitch patterns.  There was no way it would be able to become yet another slog.

The yarn is some dk weight super wash merino that I picked up in a tiny little shop on Salt Spring Island in BC.  It's a yummy hand dyed grey with flecks of orange and navy every so often.  

I cast on and quickly made some good progress.

Even Olivia was super impressed.  That's her impressed face.  

The honeycomb cable panel in the front is flanked by braided cables on each side, and an embossed rib section on either side of that.  No chance to get bored on this hat!  There's stuff going on every few rows.

Even the back of the hat, while it doesn't have cables, is more interesting than plain stockinette.  It could easily be modified to be knit as plain stockinette if desired, but instead of knitting every row, every other row is knit through the back loop which makes it look really neat and also gives it some extra squish.

Once the hat is as long as it needs to be, the top is grafted together and then the corners tucked inside and sewn together.  I used the same technique for the lumberjack hat and beard for my brother's Christmas present.

I love this technique for hats because they still fit well once finished, and it means that a complex cable panel like this doesn't have to be messed up or cut short due to decreases.

Knit in a week, from start to finish.  I don't even think it needs blocking.  I might end up blocking it before next winter (who am I kidding, no I won't), but for now I'm going to wear it every day until it's too warm to wear a hat.  On one hand, I hope that day comes soon since I'm ready for winter to be over.

On the other hand, I wanna wear this hat!  Maybe I'll hope for just a few more cold days.  Sorry, but if you had a hat this awesome, you'd want to wear it too.  If it makes you feel better, you can blame the rest of winter on me.  Just leave the hat out of it.

Saturday, 1 March 2014


It's March now, and we're still completely frozen.  There is ice in all of my windows, and my house keeps making alarming popping noises.

At least the furnace is still going strong.  If it cuts out for some reason we'll be in trouble.

I'm really hoping this is winter's last hurrah.  I know I mentioned last week that I try to stay slightly pessimistic about things, including the arrival of spring, but with the days getting noticeably longer it's really hard to convince myself that we're still in the middle of winter.  I can't help but get hopeful for the arrival of spring, even though I know it could be some time yet.

As I wait for it to warm up outside, I'm just trying to stay warm inside.  I've got plenty of knitting to keep warm with, but it's hard to keep my attention on it.  All of my knitting is at the slog stage.  It feels never-ending.

I put in some good work on Viajante, to the point where I'm now fully done with the first ball of yarn.  I started switching between the the first and second balls of yarn every new round when I had about 1/4 of the first ball left, and now it's all gone so I'm just knitting from the second ball.  That means I have to be well over halfway done, right?

The problem is that it never seems to get appreciably bigger.  I know it is getting bigger, but it doesn't seem like it.  Stockinette stitch in lace weight.  What was I thinking?

I've always been a knitter who enjoys the process and the product, but I've had enough of plain stockinette I think.  I'm tired of the process, I just want the product.  Until I can find some house elves to finish it for me, I think I'm outta luck on that.

When the lace weight stockinette gets too dull I've been working hard on another project too, more out of a desire to see it finished and move on to the next thing than a real need to get it done immediately.  It does need to get done though, so I can't ignore it completely.

Right now it's at a stage where it's not difficult to knit, but I do need to pay attention to it because if I made a mistake it would be very obvious.  However, it's also very repetitive, so it's easy to lose focus and make mistakes.  The best of both worlds!

The Hermione's everyday socks are continuing on nicely and I don't consider those a slog, but I'm also trying not to finish them too quickly because I'm not sure what kind of portable project I want to knit next.  They're great for carrying around in my purse and knitting on my lunch break or whenever else.  I know that they'll be done before winter is really over, so I'll still have plenty of time to wear them before it's too hot for socks.

Not pictured (because they're all buried in project bags somewhere in the house) are other sloggy WIPs.  A shawl that is just two row stockinette stitch stripes (more stockinette, yay!), a vest that needs blocking before it can be finished (so that may not happen for a long time yet), striped socks (yet more stockinette), and that crocheted shawl that in November I was dreaming would be done in December.  There may be more but those are the ones I can remember now.  I'm trying really hard not to start more things before finishing one or two of them, because everything I'm knitting is stuff that I want to wear, I just don't feel like working on them right now.

I keep thinking about the other yarn in my stash that I haven't gotten a chance to knit with yet.

Like these.  The colour combination drives me crazy and I've been dreaming about knitting something with these since I first put them next to each other.  Of course, I just need the perfect pattern.  Maybe the Great Divide Shawl?  Or Bryum?  Either way, it would be fabulous.

And this.  I think this needs to be a cowl (perhaps a moebius) of some kind.  I don't have a pattern in mind but I'm sure there's one out there.

Can you tell I need some new colours in my life?  There aren't going to be any flowers around for some time, so my yarn will have to do.