Friday, 6 January 2017

Progress Report: Knitting FO

Since getting my knitting mojo back in September and being semi-bedrested by my puffy feet since December, I have managed to get a fair amount of knitting done.  On the completed front:

Vanilla Socks, Opal 
These are toe-up with an afterthought heel, based largely on the numbers for Flexor by Clare Devine. This is my third skein of Opal Happy Sparkle from winter 2014/15, colourway "Surprise". I actually managed to knit up all three skeins this year is vanilla hand-bag project socks. If the swelling in my feet ever goes down (come out, baby, come out!) I'll even get to wear them. Oh, I started these in September as my holiday project and finished them yesterday. I've not had a great need for handbag knitting this half of the year.

Lush, Cascade 220

Lush by Tin Can Knits in Cascade 220 superwash worsted. I knit one of these for Sleepy Orchid back in the spring in pink, having knit a stockinet swatch I liked and found my gauge matched this pattern in stitch and row counts. So when the heat broke at work (on a snowy day) in April, I ordered 6 skeins for myself in black (uniform policy) and, with long sleeves, it was just enough. I used smaller needles for the lace yoke after sleepy Orchid's was too big, and still had to rip back the lace a bit to get the correct blocked measurements. I finished the lace panel, picked up and knit the collar, and had just picked up and started knitting down from the yoke when "morning sickness" made knitting a thing of the past. It took me a bit into my renewed interest in knitting to pick this back up - mostly because I'd bought two sweater quantities of yarn in September and I really wanted to knit with them but felt I should probably finish this first, if only to reclaim the needles. Also, starting sweaters when very pregnant seems silly. I picked the size for my 50" full bust, going down a size for my shoulders, and then knitting the 50" size from the bust down. It buttons over my very large tummy, so this will have lots of positive ease come baby, though probably not in the bust. I made the button bands slightly wider with the buttons and holes slightly offset away from the middle to prevent gaping and Sleepy Orchid picked blue "orchid" buttons from my limited stash. They're not what I would pick if I had a button shop to choose from but they do the job. Started 1 May, finished 31 December.

Flat foot Floogies, Knit Picks Wool of the Andes
 


This pattern is by Barbara Prime and includes both the bunny and the sheep (and can be adapted to use any of her toy heads). I reversed my two colours of Wool of the Andes bulky and went down a needle size from the rabbit, which I knit first, to the lamb. The rabbit does have a face embroidered on, honest, the pink just doesn't show up as well. I knit them for 2.0 but Sleepy Orchid loves them and keeps "borrowing" them. They were really fast knits and a good size in bulky wool, which has a pleasingly Sheephaven quality even in superwash. Started and finished in November. 

Excursion slippers, WYS Aire Valley Aran
Hunter Hammersen created these Aran weight slippers to start with the heel cuff and knit down to the toes. Would the other way be easier? Probably, but if you trust the pattern these take shape as if by magic. I used West Yorkshire Spinners in Denim as part of the Great British (yarn) Sock KAL in October. The pattern specifies more yardage than one skein holds, so I bought two but then knit a small enough size that one would have sufficed. Oops. Again, a really fast knit, even faster for the second one when I didn't have to check the pattern as often. Started in October, finished in October. 

Zapote, Ripplecrafts Merino DK
Sleepy Orchid lived in this jumper for a few weeks after knitting it, but alas rarely while holding still. Zapote, but Carol Feller, is supposed to have a hood so I bought 4 skeins but she didn't want one so I only used 2.5. Oh well. It has integrated pockets and toggle buttons which I put on wrong so it doesn't stay closed. The yarn is a buttery soft merino superwash DK from Ripplescrafts which Sleepy Orchid picked in Slice of Lime when we saw Helen at the Loch Ness Knit Fest. It has unfortunately been discontinued but there's still a few colours, including this one, discounted on her website. Started and finished in October.

Armley Beret, RC Merino DK 

I started Woolly Wormhead's annual mystery KAL with a skein of tonal blue "Stormy Seas" merino DK from RipplesCrafts which I also acquired at the LKNF (like I said, I went off the rails - I also got a gradient pack and a skein of sock yarn) but I felt the cables were being lost in the tonal shifts. As the cables worked out to look like Christmas Trees, I decided to make an ever so slightly smaller one in some leftover Slice of Lime to match Sleepy Orchid's jumper. As you can see, it was a success (she's holding still and smiling here because she thought I was taking a picture of ice on the railing behind her). Started and finished in November. 

I also knit a little cat for Sleepy Orchid, from a Barbara Prime pattern and kit from Knit Now; a Rosewater beret by Tin Can Knits in the leftover Blend No. 1 that I appear to not have recorded in Ravelry or ever taken a picture of; and two little beanie Christmas ornaments from a Hunter Hammersen pattern. But I've lost the will to keep blogging. I appear to favour certain designers. 

Progress Report: Pregnancy

My last substantial post was 8 November, Election Day in the US, a day filled with optimism. Readers, I don't mind telling you that the 9th was...not a good day for me. How could I write about yarn squishing or knitting projects when everything had just gone so horribly wrong? It's all still horribly wrong but I think I'm ready to write about frivolities and my life again.

To start with, the important news, Avelet has not seen fit to put in an appearance. I spent the first two trimesters explaining how much happier 2.0 would be the later in January it showed up, and all of the third trimester saying early works just fine for me. But 2.0 didn't fall for it and is now 3 whole days late. We've scheduled an induction for the evening of the 15th, which presumably means baby would be born on the 16th, just shy of a fortnight overdue, but my midwife doesn't think we'll need it. At that point with Little Djinn, just shy of two weeks overdue, an exam showed nothing was ready - she wasn't engaged, my mucus plug was entact, my cervix hadn't started to prep, nothing was prepping for labour, but my waters broke and contractions started the next morning. I had an exam on Tuesday, my due date, and everything pointed to baby's imminent arrival, including already being 3cm dilated, a state of progress that took 15hrs of contractions with Little Djinn. So, yeah, all signs point to the imminent arrival of 2.0, except for anything actually happening. 

My feet, hands, and face have all swollen up so I'm basically sitting on the sofa with my feet up all day (And sleeping sitting up at night which is the only way I can be comfortable but means my hands and feet are always "down" and never level, let alone "up") so I'm getting a fair amount of knitting done but not much else. Knitting at least helps with my hands, but walking and even just sitting there wiggling my tootsies doesn't help them. And don't worry, there's no protein and my blood pressure is fine.

My last blood test showed that I'm anemic ("a little anemic", my midwife said as she put me on a huge dose of iron) as did the one before that though that test was taken at the hospital so the results were sent to the hospital so my midwife couldn't access them from the surgery (gp's office) so by the time she looked at my results we were taking more bloods anyway. Less than a week after starting the iron pills I went from being completely exhausted all the time and itching like crazy to being normal levels of tired and the itching stopped driving me crazy. That was good, the bad is that I basically couldn't drink tea ever again as I couldn't have a cup within two hours of taking a pill, which I did three times a day. I am out of pills now and once more enjoying my decaf.

Little Djinn, now Sleepy Orchid, is very eager to meet her new sibling and keeps asking when baby will come. She's also unhappy that she can't go to the hospital with me so I'm hoping I don't go into labour in the middle of the night - if she wakes up and not only am I not in bed with her but Daddy and I are both gone, well, that would probably be one of those childhood traumas from which you never fully recover. Chris and I agreed that he would stay home with her, though I'm not sure if we should wake her up or just tell her in the morning. It'll probably depend on what time it is.

That's the state of our holding pattern.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Dear Baby


Dear Baby, 

I think it's time for you to come out. I'm not just saying this for my sake, though believe me, you'd be doing me a favour; I really think we would both be happier with you on the outside. You seem like a kid who doesn't like being crowded and I am a person who misses her ankles. They've always been neat and trim, which I know people don't expect from a fat lady, but they were even through my first pregnancy, but now I have sausages for toes and cankles and they really hurt when I need to squat down to do something. Like, really hurt. But this isn't about me or the fact that I have no patience for anything, this is about you and how much nicer it is on the outside. You missed Christmas, which is actually a good thing for you - you'll actually get to enjoy it next year and might even fit into the "baby's first Christmas" stuff which is all 9-12mos. Also, it's snowing today and Mama loves snow so how special would that be for your birthday? You have a Daddy and a grandmama and a big sibling who are all very excited to meet you. Your sibling in particular can't wait: that's her you keep hearing, asking if you're ready to come out yet. I think you are. And, look, I know that labour doesn't sound like a good idea. I'm right there with you on that, but I promise it'll be over and then everything is cuddles and boobies and bowel movements. 

You're ready, you can do this. Just give the signal and I'll do the rest. 

Friday, 9 December 2016

Knitting needles

Me: I couldn't remember the brand of knitting needles I was thinking of so I googled "expensive knitting needles" and they were pretty much all of the results.

Chris: Do you have some?

Me: No! I buy needles that are £6-10. These run *checks* $20-40, and for another $15 you can have them monogrammed. Plus shipping.

Chris: *stares*

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Armistice Day

Today we remember our fallen soldiers, those who paid the final price, gave the last full measure, people who literally died to fight fascism, and this yeah I just...can't. I look at poppies and shudder; I listen to people swear they will "never forget their sacrifice" and all I can think is "you're re-creating the world that required it". The Greatest Generation, the people who remember what this looked like first-hand last time, are largely gone from us. To those left I can only apologise. I'm sorry. You gave so much, lost so much, thought you had won so much, and now at the very end it is clear you just delayed it. The only thought that hurts as much, today, is having to hope my children are at least your equals, capable of fighting it back for another 100 years. What a burden we place on them.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

So Much to Knit, So Little Time

One of the things about me being pregnant is that, for the first half of it, I can't knit. Three first trimesters now and three periods of time when the thought of knitting just leaves me cold. I can read and this time I watched a fair amount of Netflix 'cause I couldn't just lay in bed all day but I also wasn't up to getting up and doing anything. So no knitting for the first three months and, this time around, I could and did knit a little in the fourth month but my heart wasn't in it.

Imagine my delight, in September, when I got my knitting mojo back! Except I didn't particularly want to knit any of those boring projects I'd been working on before, no,I wanted shiny new knitting projects and bouncy new yarns to knit them in! I, uh, went way off the rails. For the most part I am aware that I have a bountiful stash with a huge variety of wools and colours, but in September that simply Would Not Do.

It started innocently enough, with the purchase of Ysolda Teague's Inglis mitts which were originally publish in the Edinburgh Yarn Festival magazine back in March, to showcase her new British wool, Blend no. 1. I loved the look of the pattern (and one other in the magazine) but it was only available in dead tree format, not digitally, and I really don't need more Stuff so I didn't buy it, nor did I buy the (small batch) yarn in the hope that I would find something to do with it. Well, having bought the pattern, when Ms Teague announced that she was getting another delivery of Bn1 and it would be available on her website as of this time and date, I was right there (on our holiday), ordering a skein. Chris wanted something to keep his hands warm when typing; I'll knit these for him, I told myself. 

Oh, my goodness! Blend no. 1 seems like a nice enough yarn in the skein and even the cake, but once I started to knit with it and had a few rows of ribbing....wow. Heavenly amounts of squish. I gave the just-started cuff to Chris to squish and he went online to see how many more skeins were available to purchase and started requesting intimate items I could knit for him so he could spend every waking minute figuratively rolling around naked in it. Me, I hoped the mitts would come out small and, darn it, I guess I'd just have to keep them. They didn't. 

The pattern is not overly complicated and has lovely details like the way the ribbing slants across the palm from the thumb gusset and the cuff that can be worn up or down depending on temperature and if you need to use your fingers. The only tricky bit is that, because the patten never repeats and is asymetrical you have to keep checking the charts for both mitts. I could knit while talking to people or watching telly -just glancing at the chart at the start of each round- but it wasn't suitable as a handbag project.


Then, right after I started the Inglis mitts, Ms Teague released the first pattern in her annual Knitworthy series, the Belyse fingerless gloves. It was love at first sight! Which unfortunately wasn't in time to get any of the kits she'd released to knit them in her wool and EasyKnit's Squidge, which is a similar blend of sheepies. I decided that, rather than order from two shops I'd just try to skeins of Squidge. My first several contrast colour choices were sold out (blue and silver again? Me?) but got one I liked and joined the mailing list...and the day my order arrived I got an email saying "wow, we had no idea our wool would be featured in this popular pattern, but we've restocked and even made kits!" Sigh. I still haven't started these, but looking at the pattern again, they're certainly top of the queue. 

I also bought a gradient set on the Big Boy base, as long as I was trying a new-to-me dyer, to make something from Carol Feller's new book "Knitting with Rainbows" which I also bought in September. Only I hadn't looked closely enough at the meterage and it's a bit short for what I had in mind but might work for a hat or mix with a contrast colour for an easy gradient colourwork project. I caked two of the colours together to start and I was surprised how course the yarn is. Will have to plan accordingly.

My other accomplishment in early September was finishing my vanilla, after-thought heel purple stripey socks. One sock appears to have two more stitches than the other as they start off at the same point in the colour sequence and they're the same length, but they end at a very different point. Oops. This is not my bothered face. I've not worn them much as I dropped a stitch picking up one of the heels and it's secured with a safety pin until I get around to sewing it down. They're knit in Opal's "happy" range, "sweet & spicy" colourway on a sparkle base which I ordered last year with two self-striping rainbow colours. I have a lot of sock yarn but I'd have to be dead to pass up sparkly, self-striping rainbows.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Lies Knitters Tell Themselves


A little over a year ago, Blacker Yarns, a small wool producer with their own mill known for championing wool from British breeds of sheep, put out their limited edition 10th anniversary wool, Cornish Tin. It's a blend of their favourite things, and to say it went like hot cakes is to vastly overinflate the popularity of hot cakes. I was lucky enough to get two skeins of the DK, one in a beautiful rich blue and  the other in the undyed silver-grey in the hopes of knitting a stranded colourwork hat, Pleiades by Ann Kingstone. I knew that the yarn she used was a "light" DK - which is to say more of a sport weight except the UK is only just starting to acknowledge a sportweight category - but I was okay with having a large beret. Unfortunately, what I knew I would have a different stitch gauge, I hadn't thought through the implications of the different row gauges and my beautiful beret came out as a pixi hat. It was, ah, unfortunate. 

So I frogged it and put it back in my stash while I looked for just the right project for my two very special skeins of Cornish Tin. Two-colour, two-skein projects for fingering weight, the other weight Cornish Tin came in, are a dime a dozen but DK projects are a bit thinner on the ground. Then, just about a month ago (around the same time Blacker yarns announced their 11th anniversary blend, Tin II and this time I bought a sweater quantity in a soft teal), Ann Kingstone released another stranded colourwork collection featuring sheep, and I pounced on the Dewlap cowl pattern with a not-too-dissimilar meterage/weight ratio. Yeah. My stitch gauge is not too far off, but my row gauge...well, instead of being 24"x9.5", my cowl is more like 25"x24". That's a, um, slight difference. I can use it as a cowl if I don't mind either smooshing it up so no-one can see the sheepies or having it stretched out proudly and completely cover my head. Neither option is ideal.

 

So I've changed my search criteria and I'm going to think of my Cornish Tin as being a light worsted rather than a heavy DK (there's no standard for categories and it's more an art than a science) and I think I found The Pattern this time - third time lucky, right? It's a split-brim beanie with a snowflake design and pompom and while beanies and pompoms aren't my usual cup of tea, Wooly Wormhead's MKAL last year, Skelter, turned out to be a split-brim beanie with a pompom and I will admit that I spent most of last winter borrowing it every time I was going out and he wasn't. Cross your fingers and wish me luck!