On Cousin Hats and Selfish Knitting

As I write four alpaca hats are sitting in my sister's bathroom sink, just starting their pre-blocking bath.  These hats have caused me more anxiety than I would care to admit and I will be very glad to see the end of them. The backstory on these hats is that over the summer I was in Ottawa at a wedding and I brought some of knitting with me to showoff to family and friends.   I was staying at my Auntie E's house and my Auntie M was there as well.  My Auntie M was admiring the Canada Hat (later renamed Sam's Big Brother Hat) I had made from Knit Picks Elegance Yarn (70% Alpaca and 30% Silk).  She asked if I would make hats for her boys (three of them) for Christmas.  Now boys is a relative term, because two of them are older than me, and the third one has a boy of his own. Against my better judgment I agreed to make the hats at "cost" plus overage. Now, a couple months later I am finally done.  The whole process of choosing a material, because much like Costco, Knit Picks has pretty quick turn over on its yarns and when I wanted to order more Elegance in August it had been discontinued.  Then it came to picking a pattern.  I had initially wanted to design something, but every time I tried I just epic failed. I finally came across a ribbed, top down hat pattern designed for Knit Picks Andean Treasure yarn (the material I decided to go with in the end).

This whole process has brought me around on the concept of selfish knitting.  For the uninitiated Selfish Knitting is a state of mind where a knitter only knits what he or she wants to.  That does not mean we only knit for ourselves, but rather when we feel moved to make something for another person we make it out of the goodness of our heart, rather than obligation or request.

I really like my cousins and I don't resent them or my Aunt at the end of this process.  However, much like assigned readings in school, the requirement to make them by a deadline meant that much of the joy I get from knitting was shockingly absent.

Now that they are done it is time to redouble my efforts on other projects including the Clapotis I am making for my Mom (of my own free will) for Christmas and making a pair of mittens for me, it is getting cold here.

Gettin' 'er done

After last post I was feeling swamped by all my WIPs.  As of today, I have none. I finished Annie's Mitts last Sunday, the 12th.  I was somewhat dreading making them, but they were not a big deal.  I forgot how much fun mitten making can be.

Pattern: Bella's Mittens

Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Bulky (Superwash) in Squirrel Heather (discontinued)

Recipient: Cousin Annie

Mods: None

Notes: I actually got gauge, and so these should be just about the right size.

I also managed to finish my Shifting Silt Scarf on Thursday, the 16th.

Pattern: Shifting Sands Scarf

Yarn: KnitPicks Gloss DK (Merino/Silk) in Doe

Recipient: Grampa

Mods: Only 3/4 the length of the original.

Note: I had originally planned it for myself, but I like shawls, cowls and wimples so much more than scarves.  I thought it would suit my Grampa, who doesn't like long scarves so I ended up only using 150g or 369 yds, so I have another 50g of the Knit Picks Gloss DK in Doe that I can use for a hat or something else.

and finally I also got my Grannie-bel Shawl done as of this morning.

Pattern: Ishbel Shawl

Yarn: Malabrigo Baby Merino Lace in Vermillion

Recipient: Grannie

Mods:  None

Notes: It was a nice, fun pattern, it really benefits from the beautiful Malabrigo Lace Yarn.  I found the bind-off was too tight and when I blocked it I didn't get too pointy.  I would most certainly make this pattern again.

It was nice to be done so many of my gifts for the season, but now it is time to cast on that mystery test knit I have to have done and blocked by the 6th of October.

Labor Day Weekend Update

So, with the cool weather and crazy rains yesterday made it feel like crafting weather.  So here is a little check in on some of my projects. 1. The Cherrywood Scarf (Jan 12, 2010 - July 24, 2010) has been reborn, as the Grannie-bel Shawl.

My initial plan was to have this done for my Grannie's 86th birthday on September 2nd.  However, after making a mistake at the start of Chart B I scraped that and decided to make it her Christmas present.  It is an Ishbel Shawl, designed by Ysolda Teague. This is my first time doing a Ysolda pattern and I am quite enjoying it.  Malabrigo Baby Merino Lace is always a treat to work with, although having been reclamed from a project on 2.75mm needles and having had to back-knit a few spots has left it with a really attractive halo.  That gentle halo, and the beautiful stitch definition I was able to get on the stockinette section has made this yarn the perfect choice for pattern.

2. Speaking of Christmas presents, I have quite  a few of those between me and December 25th.  I have the intention of knitting gifts for my grandparents (of which I only have two).  For my Grannie, I have the Grannie-bel Shawl, and I am thinking about finishing my Shifting Silt Scarf for my Grampa.

I had planned on making this for myself, but since I started it back in April I have discovered shawlettes, shawls, cowls and wimples as viable alternatives for my winter wear.  So I want it to find a good home and I think the Knit Picks Gloss DK (70% Merino and 30% Silk) is just perfect for a winter in Parry Sound.

I still have a ways to go on the scarf. I have yet to finish my third ball, so at least another 123 yds to go.

In addition to my grandparents, I agreed to my Aunt's request that I make hats for four of my boy cousins. My plan is to design a new top-down ribbed boy hat in a sport weight yarn.  The new colors in the Knit Picks Andean Treasure were just perfect for my guys, they are getting hats in Reindeer Heather (Brown), Sapphire Heather (Blue), Mystery Heather (Black) and Embers Heather (Red).

On top of that there is a wimple/cowl for my mother that I am making out of the local handspun I picked up in July, a pair of Bella's Mittens in Knit Picks Swish Bulky for another cousin (I have 14 cousins in total) and in Malabrigo Chunky for my sister. My first pair of Bella's mitts in the Mal Chunky turned out so small they only fit another cousin (seriously) with very, very small hands.

The boy cousin hats and the Swish Bellas are "contract" work, while the others are genuine gifts.

3. So, while I am trying to avoid my "work" I have a new distraction.  I present to you ...

my Turkish Spindle!

I am making terrible singles right now. I got this Turkish Spindle and some rovings back in July from Knit Picks and I found that I prefer a top-whorl spindle, and that the KP spindle does not have very good balance. For that reason I have ordered a new top whorl from an artist in Israel, Galia's Spindledesign.  This is my new spindle, that is somewhere between there and here.

Now, to enjoy this new spindle I happened to pick up some 100% Merino top from a local fibre mill I discovered this weekend.

They were done with Wilton dyes, and the middle one, possibly my favorite, was made with only black dye.  It reminds me of my 4th grade science fair project, which took a top prize, called "Is Black Ink Really Black?" which used capillary action to show the components of black ink. However, it is really nice fiber I am looking forward to spinning on my new spindle.

The Gateway Fibreworks in Gravenhurst, Ontario is totally awesome. They mostly work with Alpaca, but also have all sorts of books, finished items, beads, quilting supplies and  felting supplies.  Their green building is all kinds of awesome.  If you find yourself in Muskoka please do yourself the favor of stopping in.

4. I have finished a few objects in the past week.  One is my Meret.

The Meret, turned out a little smaller and toque-ier than I had planned. However, I need to remember that I may actually have to swatch on occasion (oh the horror!) and I should probably default to one needle size larger than everyone else. The model in this photo is my nameless bear, he is a product of a failed relationship, I love the darn thing so much I couldn't get rid of him, rename him or use his original name.

The other, which I am really proud of, is my Baby Mason Set. My bosses, who are married to each other, are expecting a baby in early October.  Being the kindhearted person I am I decided that as a way to stash bust some Knit Picks Swish Worsted in Grass by making a baby cardigan and booties.

As I have no small humans to use as a model, my teddy bear Brownbear is doing his best to show off Our First Sweater and Our First Socks. Brownbear has been mine since my first Christmas, and has been on nearly all of my adventures, and even a few of his own.  If you ever catch him a few drinks in, he might tell you about the time he took the bus alone from Sudbury to Toronto and then back to Parry Sound. I would be lost with out him.

The names of these objects are deliberate as they are my first sweater and socks/booties. They are still missing some buttons and ribbon, but the Parry Sound Sewing Centre upholds the old tradition of being closed on Sundays.  This, and the fact that it is Labor Day Weekend, means I will not be totally done with this project until Tuesday.

However, these were fun, quick knits.  I expect to have more babies appear in my life (but not from my body) in the next couple of years I am trying out patterns to figure out my default baby gift.

So, I have had a busy week and I am currently trying to reskein some of my stash that has been caked for too long.  I find winding onto a niddy-noddy to be very soothing activity. So I have more than a few projects ahead of me, but it sure a good feeling to have a few behind me!

Strange Bird, Strange Week/Weekend

So, I have been having a strange week and weekend.  Since August 15th I have seen all but one of my 14 cousins, all of my aunts and uncles.  While this is awesome, it is also super overwhelming.  However, I did compete in the Bobby Orr Triathlon on August 22.  I was the cyclist for a team with two of my cousins. However, this is a knitting blog so I will discuss knitting.

I present to you, Strange Bird.

This is a very small shawlette that I test knit for Wonk of Wonk's Works. It was a great fun knit, which I did in Knit Picks Palette in Golden Heather. I really enjoy working with Palette, mostly because it costs, at most $2.19 a ball, and with more than 100 colors, there is plenty of choice.

I got to use my KP needles, which are still totally awesome.

The pattern, which is now for sale on Ravelry and Wonk's website, is fun.  My only issue is that I HATE fancy bind-offs, mostly because you think you are done and you have to do three times as many bind-off stitches as you think you have to.  A shawl or shoulderette that can be upwards of 300 stitches before you double that number doing a crochet bind-off or a picot bind-off.

Also, they require a whole lot of blocking.

But it sure is a pretty color and the pattern is really interesting.

So, in the end a great knit and lots of fun.  Also I have a beautiful fall shawlette for when the weather gets cooler.

Also, as part of my family weekend I went with my sister and two cousins to see Sarah Harmer.   It was, hands down, the best concert I have seen.  If you have a chance to see her, please, please, please go and support this amazing Canadian singer/songwriter.