What I’m Knitting
As promised, I’ve been working away on the hat to match my Mystic Falls Mitts! I finally came up with a swatch that made me happy, so I cast on and got to work. This is just a quick phone snap, and obviously blocking is desperately needed here, but I think you can get the idea:
I haven’t exactly figured out how I want to do the decreases in the colorwork pattern yet (I know, I know, bad designer!), but I’ll have to work it out soon. That’s 1.5 repeats of the pattern in the picture there, and I don’t think I want to go much past 2 repeats before starting the crown shaping.
What I’m Cooking
I hadn’t made curry in a while, so I whipped up a veggie-filled red curry over rice for my weekly meal-for-a-crowd this week:
I also baked some banana-oat muffins this week, which fascinated my son. I put him in his high chair right next to me so he could see the whole procedure. And then he was introduced to the joy that is licking the spoon after the batter has been mixed (vegan baking means no raw eggs to worry about, bonus!):
He was not, however, a fan of waiting until the muffins were cool enough to eat before he got a taste.
What I’m Reading
After devouring the first book in the Naturals series, I moved on to two and three! I’m halfway through book three right now (the most recent one published) and it’s just as good as the first two—love it when that happens. I’m going to have some withdrawal when I finish this one…
What I’m Knitting
I finished the cable/lace hat from last week, but it needs a good blocking before it’s fit to see. So instead, I’ll show you the design swatches I’ve been working on! Here was my original swatch concept (this is for a dolman-sleeved Aran pullover):
I liked this swatch, but the more I looked at it, the more I realized I didn’t love it. The central motif is too small and a bit too plain for my liking (this is the cable on the left, which will be in the center of the pullover with the V cables arranged on either side). I also decided I wasn’t a huge fan of this yarn for this design—it’s on the thin side for a worsted weight, and the swatch had more drape than I wanted even with a needle size that gave a good fabric.
So I went stash digging… and made a decision. Remember this in-progress cardigan?
My Ravelry project page tells me I started it two years ago almost to the day—just a few days before I found out I was pregnant and went down the rabbit hole of baby knits! I tried to pick the cardigan up again, but I’m just not feeling it. Plus, I’m (ahem) a larger bust size now than I was, so it isn’t even going to fit me well when it’s finished.
Luckily, this yarn (Stonehedge Shepherd’s Worsted) turns out to be PERFECT for the new design I have in mind. It’s soft, tweedy, and has the body that the first yarn I tried was lacking.
After three swatches with this yarn and different cable patterns, I think I finally have a winner!
So now I just need to knit a few more inches of swatch, block it, and take some measurements. Then it’s designing time!
Oh, and since I’m lazy, I’m just knitting the swatch right off the sleeve:
What I’m Cooking
I knocked out two recipes from my personal cookbook challenge this week. First up, potato-spinach curry. It was pretty good, but my husband and I both agreed that we really missed the richness that some fat would have brought to this one. With some coconut milk in the sauce, I think it would have been awesome.
And then a less-guilty taco salad, which was delicious! The recipe used “guacamame” made with half avocado, half edamame to cut fat and calories. It tasted fine, and I liked that it also upped the protein content. The recipe said to layer the ingredients prettily and top with cilantro… but sometimes you just gotta throw everything together.
What I’m Reading
To my husband’s chagrin, I’m still working on The Shepherd’s Crown. A couple of early mornings with the little guy means I’ve been too tired to read before bed. But I should finish it within the next few days!
What I’m Knitting
So I was pretty happy with the progress I made on the nautical-themed toddler sweater this week… until I took a good look at my WIP after binding off the cuff on the first sleeve.
It looks cute, but also out of proportion to me—that’s a long sleeve for such a short body! I went pattern diving on Ravelry last night and came up with every number imaginable for toddler sweater body and sleeve lengths. There’s clearly no standard. So what I’m planning to do is try it on my son when he wakes up from his nap and adjust accordingly. I’m thinking I’ll need to add some rows to the body (which will work out okay since I think I’d like more blue before the ribbing anyway).
This is one of those times when I’m soooo happy I knit this sweater top down!
What I’m Cooking
Still going strong on my cookbook challenge, but I only managed two recipes from it this week. First, a spicy blue potato and corn salad. Something I’d never make normally (blue potatoes were not exactly on my regular shopping list), but it was really good! I also used canned chipotles for the spicy part—another first!
The second one from the cookbook was a vegetable korma. It called for garam masala, which I couldn’t find pre-made at my grocery store, so I made my own with cumin, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, coriander, and a few other spices. Indian food purists would scoff, I’m sure, but I thought it was pretty good!
I liked the korma, but I’m a little spoiled by full-fat curries, so it did feel like it was lacking something. Next time I make it, I think I’ll use full-fat coconut milk instead of light.
I went off cookbook for my Wednesday meal for a crowd. Sometimes I absolutely crave comfort food, so I tried a new-to-me green chile mac and “cheese” recipe from Minimalist Baker. It was amazing (maybe because I’ve been eating all this low-fat stuff, haha). I served it up with some simple roasted broccoli and some toasted crumbled tortilla chips on top for crunch:
What I’m Reading
I’m well into my friend’s manuscript and loving it so far! It’s fun to read things well ahead of publication, but it’s tough when you want to share it with everyone you know and can’t….
What I’m Knitting:
I’m almost finished with my Transposed baby hat in the adult size.
It’s such relaxing knitting–an easy colorwork pattern that I’ve already knit before, so no surprises. This skein of Malabrigo Rios in Pocion is the kind of crazy colorway I usually wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole, but I LOVE the way it’s working up in this hat.
What I’m Cooking:
Lots of comfort food this week! I started with a nice goopy stir fry (love me some thick, glossy sauce):
Early in the week I was craving pasta, so I made some roasted red pepper sauce and poured it over quinoa-corn pasta. We’re not a gluten-free household, but I was happy to discover this GF pasta that’s much more tasty than any other kind I’ve tried. Sometimes you don’t want a whole plate full of wheat, y’know?
A few days ago, I had to come up with something to cook for a crowd that included vegans and GF people… so I decided to make the same thing! This time I threw in lots of veggies, though. With fake parmesan cheese (raw cashews, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and salt pulsed in the food processor), a salad and crusty bread, it was deeelicious.
The last vestiges (I hope!) of winter are making themselves felt here in Indiana today, so I’m planning a big pot of hearty stew. Can’t have enough of that, right?
What I’m Reading:
I just finished Stormbreaker yesterday. I wasn’t a huge fan–it was like one of those loud action movies in book form, although it was decently written. Today I’m starting Greenglass House by Kate Milford, because I keep seeing rave reviews. I want to know what all the fuss is about!
What I’m Knitting:
Remember that Stitch Sprouts Yellowstone I mentioned a few weeks ago? I’m most of the way through the first of a set of mitts in a fun colorwork pattern. I wanted the back to have totally different colorwork for variety’s sake, but I also wanted to keep it simple. I like the way it’s coming out!
I’m not a huge fan of magic loop in general, but I favor it over DPNs for colorwork. Getting the tension right when switching between three needles is that much more annoying than switching between two. The only thing that makes me sad is that I can’t use my beloved ChiaoGoos for magic loop–the cable is too stiff.
And then for good measure, I also started an adult version of the Transposed Hat I showed off in last week’s post. I picked out the most crazy variegated skein of Malabrigo Rios I could find at the yarn shop, and I’m loving the way it’s working up! I hope to have the hat finished by next Friday, so stay tuned.
What I’m Cooking:
Not a ton of stuff to show off (I feel like pasta with pre-made sauce and veggies thrown in is cheating, and we’ve had that several times this week), but here are a few things.
Breakfast, featuring tofu scramble with veggies (told you that one was going in my regular rotation), breakfast potatoes, and meatless sausage patties:
I was cooking vegan for a crowd on Wednesday, so I made a taco bar with all the fixings (including meatless ground beef and vegetarian refried beans), as well as some guacamole. My husband has an outstanding guac recipe with some secret ingredients that make it delicious. Apologies for the bad phone snap, but here’s the result:
What I’m Reading:
I’ve had the Alex Rider series recommended to me several times, so I picked up the first one. It’s like James Bond for teenagers! Hard to believe that this came out sixteen years ago. Yeesh.
Describe a day in the life of a project that you have made, or are in the process of making.
A month and a half ago, the idea to design a baby blanket for my in-utero son/daughter was born. It would be worked from the outside in (so the work went more and more quickly as it got closer to completion, rather than the other way around).
664 cast-on stitches and many hours of work later, this is what it looked like.
Oh well, it could always go on the baby’s toddler bed, right?
The blanket was stuffed in my largest project bed and placed by the sofa, in perfect position to be picked up during TV watching (mostly Castle, since the hubby and I were catching up on the latest seasons). It progressed sloooowllly, but it did progress.
Right about this point is where I decided I’d like some visual interest in the center (and honestly, a break from all that stockinette didn’t sound like a bad idea either). Cue ripping back five or six rounds and knitting another repeat of the border pattern:
Then it was a question of geometry. I tried continuing the every-other-round decreases in the very center, but I was heading for a “nipple” of epic proportions. So I ripped it back to the motif. Then I tried every round decreases in stockinette. This worked geometrically, but visually… it just wasn’t doing it. Rip again.
Cue some attempted interference:
After shooing the cat away, I finally hit on the solution: a reverse stockinette stitch center, with decreases every round. This worked perfectly and looked great! As of (very late) last night, the knitting is done. No pics yet, but they’ll be coming soon.
Now it’s just a matter of weaving in ends and blocking. The baby isn’t coming for two months, so surely I’ll have it done by then….
Remember how I said I was obsessed with baby knits these days?
I knew I wanted to design some kind of baby blanket for my kiddo, so I delved into my inspiration folder and came up with these two blanket-like ideas.
After a bunch of swatching, I found a stitch pattern I liked that was reminiscent of the swirls from the first pattern. I figured a “start at the middle and increase on four lines to the edges” construction would work well for the pattern, but there was just one problem.
I hate projects that start with very few stitches and increase out to a zillion at the edges.
I would so much rather slog through the loooong part at the beginning and then be rewarded with ever-increasing speed and progress as I go on. That way the initial burst of enthusiasm sustains me through the beginning, and the visible progress sustains me through the rest of the project. So I decided to design this blanket to be worked outside-in instead of the more traditional inside-out.
I swatched a corner, took a picture, put it in Photoshop, and played around a little:
I’ve been working on the blanket steadily for about a week now, and here’s what I have to show for it:
Whew, it’s hard to keep up with blogging when most of your projects are secret! But the last one of those was packaged and sent last week, so hopefully it should be a little more action-packed around here.
First up, I finished the Creme de Menthe vest. No modeled pictures because it’s still blocking, but I’m really happy with the way this one turned out. The alternating stripe concept that was the basis for the whole idea turned out great!
Also, I’ve resurrected the cozy gray sweater! Remember this one?
Last time I mentioned it, this one was on hold due to some disappointing pooling. I pulled it out a few weeks ago to get myself psyched up for the ripping and re-knitting… but to be honest, it didn’t look nearly as bad as I remembered.
I think part of the reason I was so down on it was some pictures taken with crappy indoor lighting. That highlighted the striping effect of the second skein and made the sweater look awful. So we took some better shots–and I love it! I’m working on getting the pattern finalized and getting it into the hands of test-knitters. I’ll probably aim for an October release with this one.
Oh, but it needs a name! I’m calling it “Cozy Gray” in my head, but that isn’t going to fly for the pattern release. You guys were so helpful with my hat pattern a few months ago–any thoughts on this one?
(This is one of a series of design posts. The earlier posts can be found here.)
Remember I said we had a failed photoshoot for the gray sweater? Well, I was going through the pictures we got and realized something. Something not so fun.
I think I want to rip out and re-knit 30-50% of the sweater.
This is a really tough decision, particularly because it has nothing to do with the fit of the sweater. The fit is perfect, actually. See below:
What’s not so perfect (and even easier to see in these pictures than in life!) is the really terrible pooling of the hand-dyed yarn at the waist and below. This is particularly irritating because the upper body was knit with the exact same skein, but the smaller width below the armholes didn’t agree with the length of the color changes. What’s worse, I was working on this sweater mostly in the evenings in front of the TV and didn’t notice until the whole body was finished.
It’s also easy to see that the second skein I used for the sleeves and front pocket, while appearing virtually identical in the skein, included lots of dark bits not found anywhere in the first skein.
To tell you the truth, this is the kind of thing I’d ignore completely if I were knitting the sweater only for myself. The fit is perfect! The sweater is snuggly and cozy, just like I wanted! Who cares about some color differences?
But since I’m planning to sell the pattern, I know I won’t be happy with anything less than great pictures. And that is going to require ripping, rewinding, and alternating skeins.
Another factor is the season. This sweater is definitely more of a fall/winter piece. By the time I get it re-knit (sport-weight yarn, remember), we’ll be well into the spring/summer knitting season. So I think this is going into the WIP bin for a few months. I’ll probably revisit it in July and get everything ready for test-knitting during August, which will put me on track for a fall 2013 pattern release.
But it’s not all doom and gloom on the pattern-writing front! I started a new vest design with more Rhinebeck yarn, these two beautiful skeins of Cephalopod Traveller:
Learning from my mistakes, I’ve been alternating skeins the whole way. I’m pretty sure I’ll run out of yarn before I reach the end, but I found a Raveler willing to sell me a skein of this colorway and it’s already on the way, so no worries there. The vest is really, really cute so far. A great cure for the meh of the gray sweater.
Hope everyone out there had a happy Easter! (Or a happy Sunday, if you don’t celebrate.) My husband and I like to exchange little Easter baskets. This year, I left my shopping until the last minute–and to my horror, the store was out of Easter grass! So I improvised with a skein of truly horrific Day-Glo acrylic:
My husband was properly appreciative of my ingenuity.
I was hoping to have pictures of the gray sweater for you today, since it’s all done and blocked, but our impromptu photo shoot this weekend didn’t go so well. I wanted to take pictures of the sweater in the library of our new house, since that works with the sweater’s cozy feel. It turns out our library is just too dark for good photos, though, even with every light we have in the house.
Ah well. We’re scouting out potential locations for an outdoor shoot this week.
In the meantime, there’s a lot of this going on behind the scenes:
I’ve finally switched entirely over to using Excel for pattern writing. I used to do everything by hand, but I recently took Faina Goberstein’s excellent Craftsy class on pattern writing, and I’m a total Excel convert now. It saves me so much time!