Hexiwhat?

For a few months, I’d been seeing mutterings on my Twitter feed about a Beekeeper’s Quilt.  People seemed really into it, but I never bothered reading further because I don’t really quilt.  Time passed, and I started seeing people going on about hexipuffs.  That made even less sense, but I was busy, so I let that go, too.  It wasn’t until I saw probably half a dozen tweets over half a day–some that mentioned both the Beekeeper’s Quilt and hexipuffs in the same breath–that I decided to google it.  (Does anyone else still trip out over the fact that google is a verb?)

That was my first mistake.  I should have known that if everyone was talking about it ad everyone was making it, starting to ask questions meant I was walking on a slippery slope.  I didn’t think about that, though, and was instantly enchanted by the idea.   Its really very simple: you knit approximately eleven million 3″ hexagons in the round, and then you stuff them with polyfill.  Once you’ve knit all eleven million, you tie them together into a warm, squishy, puffy quilt.

I didn’t really see any way I wasn’t going to start one, but I figured if I sat quietly on my hands for awhile (or worked on the test knit I’m supposed to be making) I would forget about it, or get distracted by something more interesting.

That was my second mistake, because there is possibly nothing in the world more delightful and interesting than hexipuffs.

My third mistake was tweeting about how resistance was probably futile because when I woke up the next morning, a friend had sent me the pattern as a gift and it was waiting in my Ravelry account.  I pretended to be virtuous and waited until that evening to give this hexipuff business a try.  I knit half the hexigon and decided it was close enough to gauge, then knit the rest.  For a minute or two, I contemplated not stuffing it, but part of the appeal of the blanket was its fluff factor.  I dug the polyfill out of the closet (What?  You don’t have a random bag of polyfill sitting around your closet?), stuffed the hexipuff and bound it off.  All told, it took maybe a half hour.

I held it up, squeezed it a little bit, examined it from a few different angles, smooshed it some more, and totally began to understand the noise that Stephanie made in her vlog about the project.  Squishing hexipuffs makes it really, really easy to want to make that sound.

And then I reached for the closest ball of sock yarn and cast on another.  I knew I was in real trouble when, at the end of the night, I had four hexipuffs and a little pouch to store the project in.

I think I’m up to about a dozen now, and its really, really hard to want to knit anything else.  I mean, what’s not to like.  You get to revisit the stash of partial skeins of sock yarn and play with all sorts of different colors.  A half hour, and you have a finished project, and when its cast off?  You get to squoosh it.  And here’s the thing about hexipuffs, the thing that possibly makes them the most dangerous: they get exponentially cuter the more there are.

Can you stand it?

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FO: Transatlantic Socks

Started on the flight to Ireland, knit around Dublin and across the surrounding countryside, and continued in Rome.  Grafted the toe of the first sock in JFK airport in New York on the way home, and finished the second sock a few weeks later as I recovered from the vacation and dreamed up ways to live in Rome.  (I’m still on that one, if I’m being honest.)  They’re not blocked in this picture–the crease down the side and the lumpy heel are totally a product of that, any not any flaw in the pattern.

The pattern is Cotty, from Irish Girlie Knits.  I’m excited about the pattern, and how it plays nicely with handpainted yarns.  I also really like that numbers for both sport and fingering weight were given, so that I can use whatever sock-worthy yarn I have laying around without having to so extra thinking.  I learned to do a picot edge on these, which is so much easier than it looks, even if mine if a tiny bit crooked.

The yarn is Kells Sport from Three Irish Girls.  (Are you sensing a theme here?)  The colorway is Waterlilies, one of the June club offerings.  If I understand correctly, it is part kettle dyed and part handpainted, which I think is really clever.

I love them.  I had thought they might be a Christmas gift, since they really aren’t colors I wear much, but the feet ended up being knit only as long as my own and I don’t know anyone with feet quite as small as mine (Okay, so I know one or two, but they don’t do pastels, either) so I guess that means these were meant for me.

Slacker.

I was vaguely aware that it had been A While since I’d posted anything here, but I only just realized that it had been nearly three weeks.  Probably there has been plenty to talk about, but I haven’t had the inclination to sit down and write about it.

Knitting has been a little stagnant.  I’ve been working almost exclusively on a laceweight shawl.  It looks like absolutely nothing right now.  Beyond boring.

(Do you like how I show you anyway?)  The pattern is Jeanne from Through the Loops.  I love the yarn that I’m using–a laceweight version of McClellan from Three Irish Girls, one of my most favoritest yarns ever.  Because the pattern calls for fingering weight yarn, I expect my large version of the shawl to turn out somewhat smaller than a large shawl.  I’m starting to suspect that I’m purling the yarn overs wrong, or maybe my needles are too small.  Something, because the other WIPs I’m beginning to see on Ravelry look much more open and lacey, even in their early, unblocked stages.  I don’t have the heart to frog it back, though, so I’m just hoping for the best and telling myself that I’m not making a mistake–I’m creatively interpreting the pattern.

The weather in DC has been amazing for the past few weeks, so a lot of my usual knitting time has been taken up by jogging, riding my bike, walking in to town with my husband, visiting farmers markets, walking along the canal, preparing fresh meals and doing all the things that gorgeous weather inspires me to do.

There were fireworks in Takoma Park with gaming friends on the 4th of July.   Its been a few years since we’ve made a point to see fireworks, and after Disney and the National Mall, it was nice to go back to a small town show.

There were stool races in the parking lot at the massage school while the offices were closed.

(I have lost all ability to take a photo that isn’t at least slightly blurry.  No idea what that’s about.)

Now, we’re getting ready for vacation, to Dublin and Rome.  We leave on Wednesday, so I’m busy trying to decide what knitting projects I want to bring with me.  Socks for the plane, for sure.  I’m thinking maybe something from Cookie’s sock book.  Possibly with some Bugga! from Sanguine Gryphon.

Progress

February Lady is blocking, and every time I walk past the dining room table, I get excited that I might get to wear it before the weather gets too warm.  Then, I remember that I still don’t have buttons.  I’m thinking that I need something silver, like maybe these or these or these.

I finished spinning some Falklands roving from A Verb for Keeping Warm that’s been sitting around half-spun since something like January.

I washed it last night, and its drying now.  I think its the most well balanced yarn I’ve spun yet, and its amazingly soft.  I’m marveling at how much it fluffed up when it met water.  I wasn’t aiming for any specific weight, but on the bobbin, it looked like a fingering to sport weight, and now its looking much more like a sport to worsted.  I love the colors, which aren’t super accurate in that photo.  They’re much less washed out, and there are more varied shades of green.  I think its destined to be a man’s garment, maybe a hat or scarf, but I have no idea who it belongs to.

And as soon as I cast off the February Lady, I started working on Ms. Marigold.  It looks like absolutely nothing right now.

The yarn is Deliciousness, a Stash Menagerie offering from Three Irish Girls.  Its alpaca, and amazingly soft, if a little sheddy.  Its supposed to be sport weight, but to me it seems closer to fingering, and its got a great handspun style texture to it.  The variations in thickness are making it knit up a little motley looking, but I’m hoping that a good soak will even the stockinette out.

The pattern called for a size 5 needle, but I had to go down to a 2 to get gauge.  I tried with a three and the swatch was nearly an inch too big.  Going down to a two made it about a half inch too small, so I’m going up a pattern size and hoping for the best.

I’m not head over heels in love with the project yet, but that could be because its following up the February Lady, which I enjoyed every second of.

All Kinds of Progress.

The lack of blogging here in no way indicates a lack of knitting.  All sorts of things have been happening around here.

 

Last week, I finished the body of my Opulant Raglan.  

It still needs to be properly hemmed, and I’m debating ripping out the bind-off and making it a few inches longer, but I’m going to finish the rest and then see how I feel.  Other then that, I’m reasonably pleased with the way it fits.  I made it with a bit of negative ease in the bust, but I wish there was a little less through the hips.  I think I can fix that when I block, though.

I finally, finally finished the scarf that I started knitting way back in July.  I bound off the night before I left for Chicago to visit Christine, who the scarf was meant for.  It is now living happily there with her.

I absolutely love the yarn (Tillie Thomas Milan on size 3s) and the way that it drapes.  What I don’t like is the way that it curls in on itself along the chevron lines, folding into thirds.  Ironing the hell out of it helped, but I think its always going to revert to curling.

And!  Also for the Chicago trip, there were mittens.  I’ve knit three pairs of fingerless mitts (Genmacha, Fetching and Dashing) and a pair of fingerless gloves (Knucks), but this was the first pair of proper handwear I’ve knit.

The pattern is Breathe Deep from Through the Loops and the yarn is Cascade’s Lana D’Oro,  wool/alpaca blend.  I do love my alpaca.  They were super warm and cozy, but I think that the suggested Malabrigo or some other similar yarn would have been better for the pattern.  Even so, I wore them all over Chicago, and they kept my hands warm in the midst of this:

Next up, yarn porn.  I have some delicious laceweight alpaca from Loopy Yarns to make a Swallowtail Shawl, and some yummy roving and sock yarn that Christine gave me for Christmas that I need to tell you all about because seriously?  It is the best. thing. ever.

FO: Koolhaas

In then end, I decided that I was not going to be beaten by a pattern that people managed to complete 2437 times (by Ravelry’s count this morning), and I finished the Koolhaas.  (Then, I learned how to work the self-timer on my camera and took a bad picture of myself wearing it.  I don’t love how I look, but I have to grant that its better than the MySpace style long-arm shot.)

Pattern: Koolhaas, by Jared Flood

Yarn: Three Irish Girls Galenas Merino, in Cinnamon Spice (December 2008 Stash Menagerie)

Needles: Sizes 4 (for ribbing) and 6

I love the finished product.  It is warm and squishy and buttery soft, and I like the way the hand dyed yarn adds depth to the already highly textured fabric.  Galenas is a lot like Malabrigo, and I know what I said before, but I think I’m starting to warm up to the reason everyone likes working with it so much.  My only complaint was that I found at least 4 knots in my skein.  Not tangles, but actual knots, where two ends had been tied together.  Sharon tells me that isn’t normal at all, and I’ve never had that trouble with a 3IG yarn before, but I thought it was interesting.  I’m of the firm belief that my love for the yarn was one of the only things that got me through the project.  (The others were pinot noir and the fact that I refused to be beaten by a pattern that 2437 other people had managed just fine.)

Its good that I love the hat because I had massive, massive hate for this pattern.  (When I started over for the fourth time, I used lifelines.  I totally think that they are cheating, but I needed a security blanket.)  I should point out that this is in no way a fault of the actual pattern.  I still think that Jared’s designs are clever and well written and they really do make total sense.  The fault is entirely my own.  In general, I dislike having to consistently switch between knitting and purling every few stitches.  It slows be down and makes my shoulder hurt.  I also don’t like to live so dangerously as to cable without a cable needle, especially when the cable is so involved that one mistake will screw up the entire pattern, so the cable rounds were super-fiddly.  These are things that I should have considered before I started, but I really liked the way the hat looked and I wanted one, and so I totally disregarded all common sense.

I only cast on 96 stitches, which was 8 less than the pattern called for (or one full pattern repeat).  I still thought that sounded big for my head, but the cables pull the hat in enough that I could have worked as it was written and been fine.  Something interesting happened during the decrease rounds, but I’m not mathematically inclined enough to bother figuring out whether it had to do with the lack of stitches or (and this is far more likely), shoddy knitting on my part.  I started with eight fewer stitches than the pattern called for.  I ended with one fewer stitches than the pattern said I should end with.  Somewhere in the last 9 rounds, I found 7 magic stitches, and I have no idea where.

And, in unrelated news…because people (Pia, I’m looking at you) kept telling me how awesome it was, I went to Georgetown Cupcake the other day to get a treat to celebrate my husband’s new job.  Aren’t the cupcakes darling?

They are (from top left), Red Velvet, Toasted Marshmallow, Carrot and Chocolate, and ohmygod they were seriously the best cakeythings I have ever eaten.  They may become my undoing.

Not off to a good start.

My first project of the year was meant to be a hat.

This hat, to be precise.  I cast on the other day, and yesterday afternoon sat down to start tackling the cable chart.  I worked for several hours, ripping back twice because my knit/purl two stitch cables kept begging buggered up, finally made some progress, stopped to go massage some clients, came back and worked a little more…and then I spotted my mistake.

It was really the best sort of mistake.  You know the type.  Two and a quarter chart repeats into the hat, you notice a mistake at the beginning of the first chart repeat.  To add insult to injury, you are completely unable to figure out exactly what you did wrong.  Was there a knit when there should have been a purl?  Did something go wrong when the pattern instructed me to relocate my marker to begin the round one stitch off?  I had no idea, but I decided that the mistake seemed only to effect two or three diamonds in the next round up, so I knit a little more.  That was stupid, because upon finishing a few more rows, I realized that while it only effected a few diamonds, the entire pattern was dependent on the latticework lining up, and if one line was off, it screwed up the while bloody hat.

It was the third time I had ripped back the cursed thing, and the pattern was really, really fiddly, and the idea that one misplaced stitch could at any point spell doom for my hat wasn’t an idea that I was comfortable working with.  The pattern felt like X-streme Championship Knitting, and I wasn’t really sure I was ready to tackle something quite that edgy.

At 10:00 last night, watching Supernatural (the season three Christmas special) with my husband, I gave up and cast on for the Amanda Hat instead.  Its a very cute hat and a well written pattern, and within 40 minutes I had forgotten that garter stitch in the round actually does mean you have to purl, ripped back the brim to start over, finished the brim and promptly screwed up the simplest lace pattern ever in the world.

I don’t even know what to say about all of this.  I worked a few rounds on a lace and cable sock without incident, so I’m pretty sure it doesn’t meant that I am an incompetent knitter.  Maybe the yarn is cursed.  That would be a shame because it is very, very nice yarn.   Its sitting in a basket, half ripped off the needles, taunting me.

The thing is, I’ve realized that I am attached to the idea of having a Koolhaas.  The pattern is captivating (when it works) and I like the way it looks in general.  I am also taken with the way the single ply yarn shows off the stitches.  But.  I’m not sure I’m ready to tackle such a fiddly pattern, especially one so easily screwed up.  I’m also not sure I’m ready to be defeated by a pattern that eleventy-million people on Ravelry were perfectly capable of knitting.

This may all take some thought.

Things What Spin

Things that go round and round seem to be the theme of the week.

Over the past two nights, I spent some quality time at the spinning wheel and turned half of this:

Into this:

I’m going for a worsted weight yarn, and even though I have no bloody clue what I’m doing, chances look good that I will get close to what I want.  (Through no fault of my own, I’m sure.)  The second half of the roving is a darker red, so I’ll spin it separately and then ply them together.  After the roving that I’ve been learning with, the BFL is like spinning butter.  I love it, even if it does pull apart on me every ten minutes.

Today, I cleaned the bedroom and as a reward when I was finished, I set up the ball winder and swift that Jason got me for Christmas.  How have I lived this long without them??  When I got my nostepinne, I was all about how it was as high tech as I needed to be.  Ha!  Quaint and traditional is nice and I’m sure I’ll still use it for small bits of handspun, but I’m here to tell you: that winder and swift are at least as fun and cool as Jason’s Xbox and personally, I find them way more enchanting.  In about fifteen minutes, I wound the yarn for the hat I want to make for myself (As an aside, I was a little late to the party and missed that the Koolhaus hat was named for an architect and inspired by his design in the Seattle Central Library and spent some time digging around and reading about him and have decided that he’s pretty cool.  See?  Knitting is educational–even if it doesn’t teach you to avoid run on sentences!), the yarn for the sweater I want to knit for the niece or nephew who I’ll get to meet in July, and and a skein of yarn for my sweater so that I’ll have one ready to go when the current ball runs out.  In fifteen minutes, and that includes a small snafu with the first yarn, while I worked out the mechanics of getting everything to stay where it needed to be and not get all wound up around the gearish bits.   It wasn’t pretty, but I got it figured out and am still thrilled to pieces.

Christmas Knitting and Babies.

On Sunday, I found out that my brother and his wife are expecting!

When I picked my jaw up off the floor (I hadn’t realized that were even considering kids right now), my first thoughts were, naturally, about all of the cute patterns I now have someone to knit for.  Maybe a Baby Surprise Jacket.  Perhaps a Swallowtail Shawl to be used as a receiving blanket.  A crazy monster hat?  Oh!  And LOOK at the baby cargos.  I’m not even going to start on the things I’ve found on etsy.  The cuteness just doesn’t end, and I’m getting a little carried away.

The problem is compounded by the fact that I’m feeling on top of my Christmas knitting.  I’ve finished one project, and am halfway through all the others.  It makes me want to knit other things, and what’s more, it makes me feel like I have time to knit other things, which you and I both know is probably seriously not the case.

In the end, it probably doesn’t matter.  Instead of knitting what’s already on my needles or starting a neckwarmer with the skein of Malabrigo sitting next to me, I’m busy trying to tear myself away from Ravelry’s pattern search.

No good can come of this.

No Name Post #1

1. The new Twist Collective is up. I need to have this sweater immediately. I am on eBay right now, looking at lots of Cascade 220. This cannot end well.

2. I have started knitting Turn a Square. As always, it is weird to be working on needles that aren’t for socks. Once I break a 3, I feel like I’m holding tree trunks. The lady at the yarn shop talked me into replacing Cascade 220 with alpaca. I was totally dubious at first, and may have muttered some impolite things about her, but not that I’m several inches in, I’m in love. (In the interest of honesty, I’m a little worried that maybe my gauge is a little loose, and that I should have gone down more needle sizes. I did put the whole thing on scrap yarn yesterday, and it seemed to be okay, so we’ll see what happens.)

3. Alpaca is really freaking warm. Just having my hands in it while I knit makes them hot. This bodes wither really, really well for the FO, or really badly. It is also a little sheddy. I wonder if that will get annoying when someone tries to wear it.

4. I have no idea who this hat is even for. I have several recipients in mind, but can’t decide who wold be most likely to wear a hat at all, and who would most appreciate a handknit.

5. I really wish that the entire internet had Ravelry’s “ears burning” feature, so that all I had to do was type someone’s name with a little bit of code, and they would get an email and know to come running and answer me.

6. eBay was a bust. Webs has it. $78. Knit Picks, it is. And I need to get ready for work. Walking away from the computer is probably a good thing.

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