09 January 2014

Small Accomplishments Day

One Thursday morning several months ago, a coworker of mine announced that she had finally gotten around to getting a library card. Everybody was excited for her (because books!), but we kind of all agreed that it wasn't something to be too proud of. So, we introduced the idea of Small Accomplishments Day.

Small Accomplishments Day has become a tradition in our break room. It's celebrated every Thursday, which is perfect, because Thursday is the time of the week when we're over the hump, but far enough from the weekend that an extra nudge of encouragement still really helps. It's the day we congratulate ourselves for doing the little things we did, or the big things that we really should have been doing for a while now but finally just this week got around to doing, or the things that aren't super impressive but we've decided to take pride in anyway. For me it's usually some bit of housework I've been neglecting. The last week of December it was sweeping the floors. Hopefully next week I'll have a good laundry report.

Really, it's the absolute perfect weekly observance for anyone who's trying to get their shit together.

Today, though, I'm really excited to say that I have blocked two things this week. I posted photos of my Triinu Scarf on Tuesday, and today, I got to give this large and squooshy thing to its recipient. 

Several weeks ago, another of my coworkers (whose library card status is unknown to me), had a vague idea for a big, squishy, white cowl. (I'm usually pretty selfish about my knitting, but she's a recent transplant to Chicago and is still getting used to winter as a thing that involves snow. I get a little worried about the Californians.) This morning, admittedly a unfortunately-timed few days behind the Polar Vortex, I presented to her Mad Squish.

Pattern (coming soon): Mad Squish, by fecknom.
Yarn: 1 skein Cascade Ecological Wool (100% wool;
478 yd/437 m per 250 g) -  color 8010.
Needle size: US 13
It feels so nice to have executed something so well. (I cast on one for myself tonight.) It's wonderfully squishy and holds it's shape impressively. I know the actual knitting is only a small part of the design process, but hey, I have to leave something for future Thursdays, right?

07 January 2014


I'm very optimistic about beginnings, and this new year is a perfect example. There's a tiny voice that wants to fight back with cynicism, but I'm working to keep the happiness and momentum strong. We're only a week in, and already I've been able to tie up (or weave in) some loose ends and make a good dent in what needs to happen. (Thanks, dangerously cold temperatures that shut down the city!)

However, I want to do this progress thing right, and so I'm going to let my chickens hatch before they're counted. Instead of what I'm working on, here's what's finished!

Commute Socks 3!
Pattern: Campfire Socks, by Jacquelynn Vance-Kuss.
Yarn: 2 skeins Patons Kroy Socks Jacquards (75% wool, 25% nylon;
 166 yd/152 m per 50 g) in Fern Rose Jacquard.
Campfire Socks is one of my favorite sock patterns, but I heavily modify it each time - I always cast on more stitches, and this time I added a German heel according to Nancy Bush's instructions from Knitting Vintage Socks. The toes have added character because I didn't look at the yardage on the label until I found myself at a downtown bus stop holding a toe-less sock and the teeniest ball of yarn. (Toes are knit in leftover Regia Kaffe Fassett Design Line from my last sock project.) The next socks I knit with Kroy will definitely be toe-up.

Pattern: Triinu Scarf, by Nancy Bush.
Yarn: 2 skeins Knit Picks Alpaca Cloud (100% alpaca;
440 yd/402 m per 50g) in Peppermint.
I knit added one repeat widthwise and knit until I ran out of yarn, so it's huge. Toto, I've a feeling we're not in scarf territory anymore.


Pattern: Multnomah, by Kate Ray.
Yarn: 1 skein The Sanguine Gryphon Bugga! (70% wool, 20% cashmere,
10% nylon; 412 yd/377 m per 125 g) in Painted Damsel.
I knit this during the fall, and it is perhaps the squishiest yarn I've ever worked with, and also happens to be in the best colors known to humankind.

Big Gray Squish

Pattern: Lehe Square Shawl, by Nancy Bush.
Yarn: 5.5 skeins Cestari Traditional Wool 2 Ply (100% wool;
170 yd/155 m per 100 g) in Natural Medium Gray.

I knit this a few years ago. It's one of my favorite projects, and has been getting much love as a lap blanket in recent months. It was even displayed in a little community art show in Minnesota, but for some reason, the only ends that got woven before today were at the cast-on and bind-off edges. This thing is finally, officially, completely finished!

It feels wonderful to have so many things finished, and the blocking/end-weaving/pattern-writing momentum I've got going hopefully means more exciting FOs are on their way.

01 January 2014

Knitting Goals for 2014

I'm feeling calm and truly relaxed for the first time in about a month. (December was nuts, and I'm kind of surprised any knitting at all happened.) Today is day one of three days off in a row (!) and I'm thinking about the days and year to come.

I'm also feeling inspired by my buddy Erica's blog, and so here are my plans and hopes for knitting in the coming year:

1. Continue coldsheeping (not buying yarn). Exceptions are totally fine, but I'm gonna aim for keeping them within reason. I don't need a repeat of last April, or June, or August.

2. Finish every knitting project that is in progress as of January 1, 2014.

3. Finish every design project that is in progress as of January 1, 2014.

4. Knit at least one Niebling project.

5. Photograph projects in progress and when completed as timely as possible.

6. Block, finish and photograph all unfinished shawls.

7. Continue expanding sock drawer. Always keep socks in progress: pair them with patterns and queue them up for the needles.

8. Keep at least one project in a mindless state. Preferably mindless and portable.

9. (embarrassing, but I deserve the shame) - Wash handknit socks in a timely manner.

Wild and crazy 10: Be able to fit all yarn into their seven designated tubs?

- - -

I'll be kicking off this year of hopefully-more-responsible knitting by blocking my newly-finished Triinu Scarf (from Knitted Lace of Estonia, by Nancy Bush). I'm hoping to keep the momentum up and spend the first several weeks of this year plowing through my pile of unblocked shawls. If there's one thing this dry winter weather is good for, it's fast blocking.

What do you hope your knitting life looks like in 2014?

15 December 2013

Commute Socks of Temporary Disappointment

What happens when I have three six-day work weeks in a row? I find myself scrambling for more brainless commute knitting and ignore everything else. Alas, brainless projects sometimes still need planning.

1. Finish knitting cowl for co-worker at a knitting party. Cast on for Commute Socks 3. Needles: US size 2, 60 sts. (Yarn: Online Supersocke 100 Comedy Color, in color no. 1282.)

2. Realize 30 minutes into 1.5-hours-each-way commute that resulting fabric isn't tight enough for hard-wearing socks.

3. Decide that socks that wear well over time is not hard to achieve with this yarn, so knitting them at a loose gauge would just be silly.

4. Ponder how personal gauge has changed over time and how the brainlessness of vanilla socks are now up in the air.

5. Decide to frog sock and restart at home on US 1 needles. Put sock away.

6. Look around train helplessly, not knowing how to occupy self on rest of commute, dreading the trip home. Play sudoku on phone in defeat.

7. Tell co-workers at work about knitting problems, and receive awkward nods in response. Remain uncertain if sock problem has been explained adequately.

8. Sit next to fellow knitter/co-worker-from-another-department/acquaintance on bus. Talk about knitting. Explain sock problem to someone who understands!

9. On train, ponder working on sock for comfort, despite frogging plans.

10. Take out sock; continue knitting.

11. Say goodbye to fellow knitter. 

12. Have stunning realization that cuffs can be obnoxiously long and loose without compromising integrity of sock.

13. At home, finish purple stripe of cuff.

14. Switch to smaller needles and increase to 76 sts.

15. Knit away.

10 December 2013

Mad Infinity: At Least the Mistake Stitch Rib is Error-Free

Life has been obnoxiously busy recently, but I keep making tiny bits of progress in balancing household chores with my knitting life. I let myself relax for most of the evening, and I've really been enjoying cranking out a cowl design that's a commission from a coworker.

It's a sideways-knit cowl with reversible cables and lots of texture, worked in Cascade Ecological Wool held double. It's super squishy, and I'm so pumped to get this off the needles, because I've heard people (or at least Gigi of the Knitmore Girls) talk about how much this yarn fluffs up. My coworker is going to be so happy to have this, and I'm going to be so happy to make myself one out of my Rocky Coast leftovers.

However: As I said, life has been obnoxiously busy recently. So of course, what with my brain having been in high gear for a while now, now it's time to end an evening of productive knitting by dropping a cable back seven inches to fix a silly mistake.

I'm usually confident about dropping a section down several inches, but I'm a little less sure this time. 

Points of consideration:

1. This cable is along the edge, and I'm a little less sure about what goes on mechanically at the edge of my knitting. This process of dropping down and laddering back up is harder, but... 

2. I will learn something if I do it.

3. The mistake is small: the yarn is wrapped weirdly around a correctly-crossed cable. Non-dropping fixes include: duplicate-stitch over the mistake (if I was that kind of person) and snipping the yarn and darning to prevent a hole from forming.

4. Will fixing this take longer than frogging and re-knitting? (Probably not, but you never know.)

The answer is obvious, thanks to my perfectionist tendencies. I can't duplicate stitch (because the mistake would still be there, hiding), and I don't want to darn it (weaving in more ends? NOPE/I'm already worried about having enough yardage). 

So, for the rest of the night, I'll be fixing my cable the hard way and dreaming of a January where my brain is well-rested and restricts its mistakes to fiber-free realms.