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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Appropo of nothing.

1. I am not even going to tell you how many pair of shoes I just shepherded out of the living room.  I may just be the worst housekeeper on the planet.  The yarn, at least, has stayed more or less in its proper place (which is to say, tucked into every nook and cranny but not tossed on every flat surface) for the better part of two weeks.  I think that’s pretty impressive.  It may be because…

2. I’ve been occupied with learning to knit intarsia (why did I think it would be hard?) and working almost exclusively on Stephen West’s mystery shawl.  I have no idea what’s going to happen when its finished.

I’m pretty smitten with knitting it, but the colors aren’t me.  I knew that going in, but was set on working with yarn from my stash and not using the pattern as an excuse to buy more.  (I think that’s also pretty impressive.)  I have two days to knit 8 really long rows before the last clue comes out, I don’t see that happening, but I’m going to give it a go.

3.  I’m 30 years old and just two weeks ago learned to touch my toes.  I am not kidding.  Never been able to do it until now.  A few tricks taught in a yoga class combined with something a friend said about it a few months ago finally clicked, and I am not unreasonably happy about my new party trick.

4. My favorite band is playing in my favorite city for my favorite holiday and I can’t work out any reasonable way to justify going.

5.  So far, the solution I’m most strongly considering is registering for the Marine Corp 10k, thus eliminating the possibility of traveling over Halloween weekend.  This is absurd for a few reasons, the biggest of which is that 10k is exactly twice as far as I’ve ever run, followed closely by the fact that I’ve been out running maybe three times in the past year, and also the fact that I don’t really even like running–I just do it because I’d rather be outside listening to music than exercising indoors.  Still, I’ve found myself opening and closing the website a lot over the past two weeks and thinking things like, “Its only six miles, and its not for two months…..”

Its the pictures that get me.

I spend a lot of time knitting, and then I compose blog posts about it in my head.  When it comes time to take pictures, though, I get hung up.  The light isn’t good.  The camera battery needs to be charged.  I can’t find the cable.  I’m not capturing the colors properly.  There is always an excuse, and a lack of pictures seems to be the reason that I can’t get fresh content onto the blog more than once a month.  So, with apologies for the bad photography, here are some things that have been keeping me busy:

This sweater (Green is the New Black) is nearly finished.  I need to do applied i-cord down the fronts and across the bottom (which means I first need to learn how to make applied i-cord), and seam the sleeves.  I might actually get to wear this a little before it gets to be too warm.

It seems counter-intuitive to call socks that are this brightly colored “plain vanilla,” but that’s really all they are.  The yarn is Scarlett O’Hara, a merino/bamboo blend from Yarn Love, and the colorway is Gala.  It was perfect for knitting during the dreary winter.

I’ve also finished knitting an Ishbel from Three Irish Girls Adorn sock yarn.  I could have easily made it larger with the single skein of yarn I was using, but I didn’t figure that out until it was too late.  I am always afraid I’ll run out of yarn.

The color here is much more accurate:

 

Elsewhere on the internet, I’ve been having lots of fun with the 30 Days of Lists project.  Making lists is much less intimidating than writing paragraphs, and lists seem like something that can be photographed with my cellphone.

Yes, Virginia….

A week ago, I finished all of the Christmas knitting I had planned for the year.  I was done.  Finis. But then, there was a whole week left, and a half a skein of handspun yarn left over from a cowl, and apparently I couldn’t stand the thought of not knitting right up until the bitter end.  The next thing I knew, I found myself saying to a friend, “I bet I still have time to knit a hat,” and they were saying, “I bet you can!” and so I cast on.  I’m knitting top down because I didn’t want to have to worry about gauge, and it was a much better plan before I realized that I wasn’t sure when I was supposed to stop increasing and just start knitting straight down.  It seems like it should be obvious if you just try it on, but the details of hats and ease escape me.  (If you don’t knit, ignore those last two sentences.)  I think I have it sorted, and despite having almost no time at all to work on it this week, I’ve found myself at the bottom ribbing, which means I only have two more inches to go and probably I won’t have to wrap up a hat that’s still on the needles.

Given that, I should probably not be typing.  Here.  You read.  I’ll knit.  Happy Christmas!

Things I Didn’t Knit.

In the past week, I have returned from an amazing birthday trip to New Orleans, hosted Thanksgiving dinner for 13 people, and shopped for, wrapped gifts for, and put together 65 Christmas stockings for Marines at the Naval Hospital in Bethesda.  I think the stockings may have been harder than the dinner, even with help from Jason, Neale and Erin, who saved me from having to wrap everything by myself for the second year in a row.  (Thanks, guys!!!)

One of the guys mentioned, when I was asking what they might like in the stockings, that they always loved handknit hats, as long as they weren’t like something their grandmother would give them.  He didn’t realize he was talking to a knitter.  When all was said and done, we had nearly 50 hats to go in the stockings.

Cheryl and Michelle sent hats from West Virginia and New Mexico.

 

Tesia sent hats from Seattle, and I just can’t figure out when she had time to knit them.

 

Covers & Soles donated more than 30 hats, complete with swanky tags.

 

And, I was able to include some locally made soap along with cloths knit by Abi that I have been saving for exactly this purpose.

 

 

Somehow I forgot how, when you tell knitters that you need warm woolies, they will come through in spades.

And, just in case you ever wondered what 65 stockings looks like….well, it looks like this, times about three, and when you carry it to the hospital, it fills two huge shopping bags and two big blue Ikea tarp bags.

Lest You Think I Know What I Am Doing

Three sweaters.  Something wrong with each of them.

Abalone, the sweater at the bottom, has been bound off no less than three times.  I must have done something wrong when I was picking up stitches to put a border around the edges because all of my bind-offs were too inelastic to allow it to drape properly.  Even when I used the bind off called for in the pattern.  (It was an i-cord bind off.  It took two hours to do.  Ripping it out was painful.)  Even when I bound off with a needle two sizes larger than the one I had knit with.  In the end, I used Elizabeth Zimmerman’s sewn bind off, and it seems to be light and elastic enough that it if I block the sweater, it might lay properly.  Then again, I might have to rip out the bind off and all 16 rows of edging and do it all over again.

Goodale, the crazy colored sweater at the top right, came together swimmingly.  Then I got to the end and decided to do the finishing My Way instead of following the pattern instructions.  Bad move.  My Way totally misunderstood the way the sweater was going to lay when it was on a body versus on a blocking board.  Seams were pulled out, the iron was involved, and after a few hours, it seems to be back in order.  Now, its just needs a button, but it was pretty touch-and-go last night.

And the orange sweater.  That’s Coraline, and I’ve been working on it for nearly a year, and it is going to be my undoing.  I have fought with that sweater every. single. step. of the way, from swatching and getting gauge to finding the right needle to basic counting to figuring out how to smock to the bloody frelling short rows that are tripping me up now.  Something has Gone Wrong with the stitch count and I don’t know if its a product of the smocking or the short rows or of incorporating the two together, but its a mess.  Its starting to get cool again, and I really would like to wear the sweater, though, so sooner than later, I am going to have to suck it up and figure out what’s happening and what to do about it.  The sweater has been sitting for most of the summer, long enough that I’ve forgotten how tedious the yoke was to knit, so if I need to, I might be able to find it in myself to rip that whole bit out and start over.

For now, though, I have three sweaters (three!) that have managed to go awry, and I thought you should know…..Just in case you were under the impression that I had a handle on this whole knitting thing.

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

I’m more than a little disturbed to find myself suddenly on this side of Labor Day, but the weather in DC is at least being a good sport, and allowing us a taste of fall weather.  The summer was crammed with a lot of work, three trips, and a lot of knitting.  I’m not quite ready to give it up, so the cool weather feels like a little bit of a consolation prize.

Since I blogged last–months ago!–I’ve been to Chicago and met Sue, the largest, most complete T-Rex.

I love the Smithsonian and feel really blessed to live someplace where there are so many free museums, but I enjoyed The Field Museum more than I’ve ever enjoyed our Museum of Natural History.

Later in the summer, Jason and I went to Seattle.  We spent a few days together visiting friends and exploring the city.  I really, really loved Seattle, but as soon as we got home, it rained for about a week to remind me that I couldn’t handle the Pacific Northwest’s weather.

After a few days, I left Jason with Liz and Nate to continue romping around the city, and I headed out with a group of Ravelry friends for a knitting retreat in the mountains.  We spent the weekend in a cabin at St. John’s Pass, knitting and spinning and talking and laughing.  Its always great when online friends are just as amazing in person as they are on the internet.

I test knit a sock for Allison, which has since been published on Ravelry.  It uses some crazy New Pathways type construction that was a lot of fun to work with, even if it did require math.  A month later, it is still just a single sock.

I taught myself to Navajo ply (this is Targhee, dyed by A Verb for Keeping Warm):

And then tried again, and did a much better job:

(That one is BFL from Teresa Levite Studios.)

And, I made a few sweaters, which still need to be properly photographed and, in the case of the one at the top, properly finished.

Summer in Fast Forward

It feels, as usual, like we’re careening through the year, and its moving too fast to keep up with.

My nephew turned one at the end of June…….

And enjoyed his birthday cake in the way that only babies can.

Never ones to do things half way, his parents gave him an entire ear of the cake–not because there was any danger of him eating much of it, but because it was more fun to play with.  Black icing maybe wasn’t the most charming idea, but he sure did have a good time!  (Shockingly little of the cake wound up on the floor, and probably about as little went in to his mouth.)

Jason and I celebrated our fourth anniversary at a Bed & Breakfast in Oxford, so that we could be in the area for Jerry’s birthday party.  The building was a Victorian mansion that dates to 1875, and it was just spectacular.  I wish I had made time to talk to the folks who run it and learn more about its history.

We went kayaking on the Tred Avon river, and explored Oxford and found the house where I lived when I was very young and my father was the foreman at one of the shipyards there.  We tromped around St. Michaels and were surprised by how much it is starting to change.  And we sat on the lawn and the porches and marveled at how lovely and peaceful it was.  (The rest of the photos are here.)

There has been lots and lots of knitting and spinning, but not a lot of my taking pictures of it.  I finished spinning a braid of alcapa sometime back in June.  In a way, this was a big victory.  The fiber had been sitting in my stash for a year because the first time I tried to spin it, it just pulled apart and turned in to a whole lot of nothing.  It was great to realize that I have enough experience to work with it now.  On the other hand, it made me realize how spoiled working with a wheel has made me.  This was spin on a drop spindle and plied on a wheel, and it felt like it took forever to spin.

Its dyed by Sanguine Gryphon, and the color is Walden.  About 200 yards, maybe a little less, spun at something that averages out to worsted weight, although its pretty inconsistent.

I finally got around to blocking a baby sweater, and its just darling.

Its a short sleeved variation of Helena, knit in Three Irish Girls Kells sport merino, in the colorway Georgia Peach.

I finished a mini-Clapotis and I love it.  Everyone involved in the online knitting community has at least glimpsed Kate Gilbert’s pattern, and after knitting one, I understand why it went viral.  Its a great pattern–just enough variety to keep it interesting, but simple enough that you aren’t constantly referencing a pattern, and the finished product looks great.  There is a least one more, larger version in my future.  Maybe more.  I think the pattern is just perfect for handpainted yarns.

The yarn is Three Irish Girls Springvale Sport (which feels thinner than sport weight to me, but that’s probably just because the twist is so firm that it doesn’t squoosh down the way other sport weight yarns I’ve used have done), in the Cherry Blossom colorway.  It really does remind me of DC in the spring.

There is more–vests and sweaters and socks that I didn’t mean to be knitting, but I think I’ll save them for their own post.

The Past Few Weeks…

…(mostly) in pictures.

I finished socks.  Pyroclastic, on Three Irish Girls Glenhaven Cashmerino in Rhubarb.  I love the color.  I love the yarn.  I love the shaped arch.  I modified the oattern to have one less cable repeat and therefore be smaller, and I don’t love that I didn’t realize it would make the point of the top of the foot happen between two cables instead of at the center of one.

I discovered Burnt Mills park and the wonderful boulders and creek there.  Can’t wait to go back and spend more time, and to explore further down the trail.

I spun yarn.  This is silk and merino from a Sanguine Gryphon batt that Christine gave me for Christmas a few years ago.  The color is called Blanche Fleur.  Its far from perfect, but it was the first time I had spun from a batt, the first time I spun silk, and the first time I made anything so lightweight.  (This is something like a sport weight.)  There is about 350 yards here, and I think it might want to be a shawlette when it grown up.

And, I visited Glen Echo for the first time in several years.  We rode the carousel (an original 1921 Dentzel).  It is magical.

I Can’t Be the Only Knitter…

…who has conversations with themselves on a regular basis that go something like this:
Me, having spotted lovely new yarn: Holy woah, look at that yarn.  It wants to come live with me.

Self:
Here we go……

Me: I’ve been looking for just that color.  And that color in that weight on that fiber?  I. need. it.

Self: Seriously?  I’m going to get coffee while you work through this.

Me: It would make the perfect Featherweight Cardigan.  I’ve been wanting to make that sweater since I first saw it.

Self, muttering from the kitchen: A stockinette sweater in laceweight?  After all the complaining you’ve done about knitting alpaca dk on size 3s?  *That’s* the sweater you want?

Me: It would hold up so well, and its just the right color.  It would match everything I own.  I would wear it every day.  It would only take two skeins.  I really, really need that yarn.

Self: You know the needles you need are in another sweater–one that would also match everything you own.  You wanted to have it…last winter.  Maybe you could finish it by this winter, if you actually worked on it once in awhile.

Me: I could totally afford two skeins right now.  I think. Probably.  That sweater would totally be worth it.

Self, returning with coffee and eyeing the WIPs basket full of a sweater, a vest, two pairs of socks, a shawlette and a pair of mitts: ………

Me, gazing longingly at the picture of the yarn: …….

Self: Didn’t you just buy enough yarn to make a sweater? Its yummy and alpaca and silk.  And don’t you have the yarn for two *other* sweaters in your closet?  When do you think you’re going to make the Featherweight?

Me: Well.  Eventually. I’ll get to it.  If I had the yarn, I could knit it soon.

Self: Soon.  You say that a lot.  I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

Me: But I would knit it soon.  Its a summer sweater.  I’d knit it as soon as I got the yarn.

Self: Liar.  Liar, liar, pants on fire.  Besides.  You already decided you weren’t spending any more money on yarn.

Me: But that was before I found this yarn.  This yarn is worth buying.

Self: Sure. Its great yarn.  It’ll still be great yarn when you’re ready to start knitting that sweater.  Where, exactly, do you think its going to go between now and then?

Me: Well.  Um.  That is….

Self: That’s what I thought.  Knit what you have, and order the yarn when you’re ready to use it.

Me: But I want it now!  It will make me happy!

Self: Yeah, for two seconds after you open it, until you realize that you’re out of room to store yarn and were high on wool fumes when you thought you were going to knit it up right away.

Me: …..

Self: Close the window.  Walk away.  Go pet some cashmere.  It’ll be okay.

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