festival follow-up

I feel inclined to do a follow-up post about the YSU Summer Festival of the Arts. Just before we went, I was so very excited. However, when I got home that enthusiasm had waned considerably. First, the good parts. Our booth looked awesome! Amber and I worked very well together (by my estimation) and I think it showed. Since we both use each other’s products, we can talk about them with confidence. Her items went on the table since it was the most stable item in the tent, and I was able to test out my clothesline display along with all my new signs and photos (that I am quite sure no one noticed).

Summer Festival of the Arts
Saturday started out hot and it stayed that way all day. Everyone who came into the tent let us know that it was hot in there (which of course we knew) and eventually we lifted the side walls to get some breeze. It did help, but nothing can stop the sun when it is determined to bake you alive inside a polyester bag. Overall the traffic was slow, but we remained optimistic.

Summer Festival of the Arts
Sunday presented new problems. Instead of blistering heat, we had WIND! and RAIN! and wind and rain together! When I arrived Sunday morning, I found that my shelves had been knocked over, so I set them back up. While I was out visiting, they fell over again. It would become a reoccurring drama throughout the day. “Oh, don’t mind me. I’m just standing in front of this shelf so it doesn’t fall over.”

Summer Festival of the Arts
Eventually when the rain came in earnest, we had a serious problem. The roof was sagging at the corners allowing water to pool and then fall straight through onto my goods. Luckily wool is water repellent, so nothing was seriously damaged, even the tags remained whole. But two hours before closing, I was ready to call it quits. Thankfully the table with Amber’s items was safe, so we moved it out to the edge of the tent and soldiered on. By the end of the event our excitement had literally been dampened. However, we experienced a harrowing adventure together and came out stronger on the other side!

Summer Festival of the Arts

a finished hat

Contrary to popular belief, every now and then I make something that isn’t fingerless mittens. Sometimes I make hats! Actually, I do that rather frequently since they are also small, quick projects. In December I started a hat using a pattern by Lee Meredith called Scant. It is worked top-down without swatching, so I thought it would be perfect for my handspun!

A new hat. #handspun #leethalknits #wip #nofilter

I finished it in two days. Unfortunately, my measuring skills are not so great and it ended up too big at the brim. After having the recipient try it on, we decided I would pull out the ribbing and decrease a few rounds to bring it in. In fact, it was really easy to adjust since it was knit top-down.

hatface

I decreased a total of 12 stitches over three rounds and used a smaller needle to get the ribbing even tighter. Once I reworked it, it fit great. I think there is more volume in my hat than was originally expected according to the pattern, but the new owner of this hat is very happy with it. I love the way the colors came out. I definitely will use this pattern again!

lakeside hat

lakeside hat

when gauge matters

Basically I’ve always lived on the edge when it comes to my knitting. I don’t do gauge swatches. I don’t worry too much about matching up my yarns. I don’t do a whole lot of counting and calculating. So far there haven’t been too many circumstances where this has come back to bite me in the ass, but last week, it did.

The funny thing is that it was and wasn’t my fault. I knit two fingerless mittens using the same needles and diligently counted the rows. When I was done, one was little and the other was big. I counted and recounted, but I had the same number of stitches. Waaah!? The gauge was off, but it wasn’t simply a tension issue. The yarn had actually increased in size! And here is where it was my fault. I spun that yarn. It was a navajo-plied yarn, so if the single had gotten thicker as I went, the ply would have gotten thicker and thicker too. Looking at the two mitts, I knew I couldn’t block them to match, so I knit another mitt. With barely enough yarn, I managed to complete a third mitt. It was just slightly larger than the second. Aarrrrg! Thankfully, the difference is minimal and I should be able to block them to match.

Here they are: my Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear mitts!

gauge issues

new pattern is complete!

Say hello to Sideways Gull Stitch Mitts. Wow. I am not very creative with my naming. This pair has a cable along the bottom cuff and is knit sideways.  I love this cable in particular — it’s only a four-row repeat, so it’s easy to remember and it looks fancy without much effort. Also, adjusting the size for larger/smaller hands or a heavier yarn is simple.

I used a handspun singles yarn for the initial pair. It is 100% undyed alpaca. If you were to use a yarn that was more worsted (not woolen), the cables would be clearer. However, I do not plan for things such as that, so it is what it is.

gull stitch mitts

I want to thank Rebecca of Dusty Tree Soap and April of Studio Strategos who were both a big help testing and editing this pattern. I am still very new at the writing of patterns, so I tend to be insecure. April has a great technical eye, so she gave me lots of suggestions on the terminology and Rebecca worked through the pattern twice. The first time she didn’t have enough yarn, so she only got one mitt done. It’s still beautiful though!

rebeccamitts02
On the second pair she used a heavier yarn and size #9 needles. She noted that the lighter yarn required 12 pattern repeats and the heavier required nine. Also, she used a provisional cast-on and added a thumb. They look so cool!

rebeccamitts

a survey of fingerless mittens

Today I went through my Flickr photos and Ravelry projects to see just how many different styles of fingerless mittens I’ve made over the years. The two basic styles are those with thumb gussets and those without. I always get the question, “Which is warmer?” And on the surface the answer would be the one with the thumb since more of your fingers are covered. However, I use lots of different fibers and weights of yarn, so it isn’t always that simple. I knit both kinds because it makes things more interesting for me. That’s important too.

I started knitting fingerless mittens to sell in 2006. Honestly, I am not entirely sure how many pairs I have made since then, but it’s easily over 100. Initially I used handdyed commercial yarn, but eventually I transitioned into primarily handspun with a bit of recycled yarn here and there.

mosaic506e8ee7ed7498a5311af670de435ea6b9dcd846

Recently I’ve begun to consider writing down some of the patterns I created during this endeavor. None of the mittens are a groundbreaking revision of the standard mitten. They are basically standard mittens with colorwork or an interesting stitch pattern. In fact, most of them have probably been done by someone else already, but since I don’t look at patterns much, I wouldn’t know.

It also occurred to me that I could use the same pattern multiple times. I have this habit of not wanting to repeat things. The same goes for recipes (which makes no sense). But if I used the same patterns with different yarns, oh! my life would be so much simpler. So, in order to practice pattern writing and preserve my remaining sanity, I’m going to try to document the patterns as I make them. We’ll see how that goes.

In my enthusiasm, I actually wrote down my latest pattern. It should be ready for public consumption in the next week. I just need to get some decent photos taken and add a few more details to the notes and it will be ready! Dying to see it, aren’t you?

a pair of fingerless mitts

Look! I still knit sometimes. And not only that, but the green yarn was spun from a batt I carded using my new Strauch drumcarder. It was the first time I went from beginning to end with a batt: carding – spinning – knitting. So exciting! It’s mostly wool, but there’s a bit of mohair, silk, and firestar in there for a bit of spice. I used moss stitch for the body of these mittens with a ribbing of handspun natural wool at the cuffs. Quick and easy.

moss stitch mitts

moss stitch mitts

a finished pair

I am calling these my “Anti-SAD Socks”. They are banishing Seasonal Affective Disorder quite efficiently. Between the cheerful, sunny colors and the fact that I completed them in under a week, it’s hard not to get excited. If you come over to the house I might even throw them in your face (sorry, Rich).

anti-sad socks

They were finished yesterday afternoon while the Steelers were beating the Browns, and I was sitting alone in my office at the back of the house enjoying some music. I followed April’s instructions on the heel, plus I watched a Cat Bordhi video that she suggested and everything went just fine. I skipped the part where you put in a lifeline and simply picked up the stitches with my DPN. But I left the four stitches on the needles at the corners as suggested and I had no gapping! They are spectacular and I couldn’t be happier.

anti-sad socks

Even before I got to the heels, I was nervous because I hadn’t done Kitchener stitch in ages. However, I did it five times with no problems. That’s two heels, two toes, and one toe re-do. So maybe seven years of knitting has finally paid off. Maybe I’m finally getting the hang of this stuff. Maybe I’m getting to the point where I don’t have struggle with every little thing. What a concept.

And I’m not kidding when I say this is my first completed pair of socks since 2008 and I only have two others to my name.

 

fresh socks. new day.

Somehow I am not over-thinking this project and it feels so good!

That giant pair of mittens inspired me on to create a pair of tube socks, so before the enthusiasm wore off, I pulled out my stash of commercial yarn. When I found several skeins of Brown Sheep Co. Lamb’s Pride, I got even more excited. I decided on two shades of yellow plus turquoise.

lamb's pride!

Next it was time to get down to the knitting. Before long I had a rather long tube, but I realized that it was going to look pretty dumb on my foot not having a heel. Then, as if she could read my mind, April suggested the afterthought heel! My previous experience with this heel was not stellar, but it was also at least five years ago. I’d like to think I have improved since then, so I was willing to give it another try. However, I had knitted past the location where the heel should go and I didn’t want to rip out stitches. That is when I came across these instructions from the Yarn Harlot. An afterthought heel from Elizabeth Zimmerman that is truly, 100% an afterthought. Knit the tube, decrease for toes, decide where to put the heel, snip, make heel. Whoa! My mind is blown! I am going to try this. Hopefully it won’t end in tears because I am really pleased with the way my tube looks right now. Then I found that April has even better instructions on her blog, so I am feeling more confident to attempt it.

sock in progress

I think I really needed this project. I haven’t completed a pair of socks in ages. Nearly a year ago I lamented this fact, though I never went further than that. Also, the vibrancy of these colors is really lifting my spirits. Northeast Ohio has a reputation for being grey, but we have had so many days of solid overcast weather, that I may have forgotten what the sun looks like. This will be the type of project that, although it may not be very challenging, will give me a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction.

feather & fan fever

Apparently it got stuck in my head. After making that first pair of mitts with the pattern at the cuffs, I couldn’t help thinking, “what else can I do with this?” So I proceeded to make a neckwarmer using the same alpaca yarn. I’m wearing it right now. I put it on for this picture and now I don’t want to take it off.

feather n fan neckwarmer

I also wanted to see what it would look like to carry the stitch pattern up the entire length of the mitt, rather than just at the top and bottom. So I used this recently spun Falkland singles to test out the idea. It was a perfect match — the yarn was the right weight to accommodate two repeats of the stitch pattern.

feather n fan fever

Okay, so this last project does not use the feather & fan stitch pattern. Rather, it is a remnant from my wet felting experiments. I finally had the chance to get back and finish it. My original intention was to create a small purse/pouch. Instead I ended up with this.

mint green teapot sweater