Knitting doesn't happen in a vacuum here in SMH-land. Instead, I'm always reading something (thanks to my Kindle) or watching something (thanks to Netflix). Here's a short list of what I've been reading and watching lately.
It's been a few months since I've shared one of these round-ups, hasn't it?!
For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards, by Jen Hatmaker. Hilarious. I love this woman. She fights for the poor with her everyday life, living what she and her husband preach in ways many do not. I love how reverent she can be, and then turn a page and she's writing an ode to mom jeans. Fave.
Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon. We don't get whatever channel the series is airing on, so I decided to pick up the first book in the series to give it a read. Holy mother, I'm in love!! It boggles me this is a series that's been written over the past 15 years - how did I not pick it up before now? How the heck does this woman have this much creativity and story in her brain? How do I find more time to read so I can get through these books faster?!?! Love.
Hey Natalie Jean: Advice, Musings, and Inspiration on Marriage, Motherhood, and Style, by Natalie Holbrook. Full disclosure up front, I love me some Natalie every day, all day, so I knew going into it I was going to love this book. Some people expected something different from it, but how can you expect something ... ANYTHING ... from a book before you've read it? Whatever. I loved it, and have grabbed it off the shelf several times to re-read it in the past few months. It feels like having Natalie over for Diet Coke and a long chat when reading it, which I love.
Orange Is The New Black: Season 3. I cannot even talk about it. Just ... watch. Much darker in many episodes, but just the right amount of girl on girl to keep you coming back for more. (Yeah, I went there.) I loved watching several characters spiral down, loved rooting for a few to get back up off their butts, and couldn't wait for the season ending shocker!!
Mad Men: Season 1. I know I've watched part of this series in the past, but I can't remember where I left off, or many of the details of the show, so I'm starting over. So far, everything I've seen I remember, but I'm just a few episodes in, so we'll see how far I get before I start seeing things I didn't remember happening. Every episode, my feminist flags raise up full force, but I know that's sort of the point, right?!
July 22, 2015
Clapo-Ktus by Loredana Gianferri (free Ravelry download!)
Yarn: madelinetosh tosh merino light (420 yards, I used the entire skein)
Needles: size US 7 / 4.5 mm circular
I've been on a shawl knitting kick lately, haven't I?! In truth, this is largely due to my OWL for the HPKCHC group on Ravelry - I committed to finishing two shawls in three months, something I have never done before this summer. This is the second of these two shawls (the first was my Dotted Rays shawl).
I would probably not have knit either of these two shawls if not for the recommendations of fellow knitters, based on a few criteria - the shawls had to NOT be triangular, and they had to be knit on the same size needle.
I saved Clapo-Ktus for second because I wasn't sure how long the Dotted Rays shawl would take, and knew this would be the more simple of the two shawls, which it definitely was! I will openly admit the starting of this shawl had me completely frustrated, but once the pattern was established (maybe 20 rows for me to catch on and not need the pattern any longer), I breezed through it, with visions of all those dropped stitches dancing around in my dreams until I got to the halfway point, when you can actually start dropping stitches and the fun begins.
Fun, that is, until you think you might run out of yarn - then things got dicey. I didn't end up running out of yarn, finishing with just barely enough left to weave in my ends, and I've never been so nervous in my life! The whole point of this shawl is that you increase until you are halfway done with your yarn, which should be easy to figure out with a scale, and then you decrease. I have a scale, and weighed the yarn on repeat, and somehow went from having way more than half a skein left to having enough less than half a skein left that I was worried for the entire second half of the shawl. A smarter knitter would have tinked back a few rows to ensure there would be enough yarn, but I powered into the decreases like a maniac, forgetting that once you start dropping stitches, there's really no turning back.
It all worked out perfectly, but it was a good lesson. I am so used to knitting hats, which hardly ever use up the full skein of yarn, that I got cocky and didn't knit safely. Never again, I say!! NEVER AGAIN!
While I love the finished product of this shawl, I'm also positive it will end up in the almost-full bag I've got going for Syrian refugees. I have the Dotted Rays shawl I know I'll wear this winter, and while this one is wonderful, I also know that I will hardly ever wear a bright red shawl. It's just the truth of me. However, I know someone will surely find it just perfect for them, and I'd rather someone use and love it than it waste away unloved and unused in my closet, or at the bottom of a drawer (which would be its most likely resting place if kept).
I've got a huge list of hats to work up next, so this may well be the last shawl off these needles for some time. However, it was amazingly fun to make a few shawls, so who knows - I just may become an irregular shawl knitter yet!
July 17, 2015
Kettle Yarn Co. released a The Boardwalk Collection this month, a group of patterns designed to feature their Islington DK yarn. I haven't used this wool/silk blend yarn before, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to save my pennies and grab some, because two of the patterns in this collection are calling my name!
On the left is Seaward, a gorgeous hat featuring a bit of gorgeous lace texture on one side. This looks like the perfect pattern for hat gifting, but because the lace panel appears to be on just one side, this hat could easily be used for charity knitting as well. I'd love to work one up and see if you lose any serious warmth with the lace panel, although I'm betting not.
On the right is Pavillion, a gorgeous rectangular wrap featuring a gorgeous line-based design. The pattern notes say it has unique construction, so I'm curious as to what that means. It appears to be knit diagonally, which would definitely make for some fun knitting for an intermediate knitter!!
All six patterns in The Boardwalk Collection are available on Ravelry for purchase individually. All six are truly gorgeous, and any knitter could find one they have to add to their queue!
July 15, 2015
Pattern: The Simple Slouch, by Shireen Nadir
Yarn: Lion Brand Wool Ease in Ranch Red (I used 95 yds)
Needles: size 9 / 5.5mm 47" circular needle (I'm using the magic loop method)
For as often I cast on a hat because I fall in love with the pattern, I know the designer, or it's the perfect thing to help me use up a bit of leftover yarn, there are plenty of times I'll pick a pattern specifically because it fulfills a HPKCHC (Harry Potter Knit Crochet House Cup) requirement**.
This hat pattern was picked specifically to fulfill a classroom requirement, but I cannot explain how happy I am to have found it!! Not nearly as simple as the name suggests, The Simple Slouch is full of amazing chevrons that work their way up the hat in a beginner-friendly six row repeat! I printed the pattern for this one (I don't always do this - often I'll simply work from the PDF on my phone or tablet) so I could check off as I finished a row, and the hat basically flew off my needles!
I made two small adjustments to the hat as I made it, and next time I make one I will make one extra adjustment. First, I only knit seven pattern repeats. The hat is slouchy enough this way, and can still fit well as a beanie with the brim folded over - since I am donating this (and almost all my knits) to charity, I need to be sure it is as functional as it is trendy, and one six-round repeat would have made it too long, I feared.
Second, I added one k2tog row at the very end of the decreases. I ended up with too many stitches on the needles for my liking, so I made the executive decision to add one extra decrease row. I didn't bother to figure out the "proper" way to do these to fit with the pattern, because this last row really can't be seen ever. It was absolutely the right decision for me, as I want this hat to be able to be worn as a beanie as well - for those making it for themselves to be worn just as a slouch, this step is absolutely NOT necessary!
The final adjustment I will make next time? I will use smaller needles for the ribbing. I love to make a hat with just one needle used the entire time, but it takes less time for the ribbing to stretch out this way. And yes, the hat could be blocked back to shape, but who in a refugee camp has time for that?! No one is the answer. Adding some tighter ribbing ensures the hat fits snug around the ears for as long as possible, so I will do that next time to give this hat an extended life.
I keep saying "next time" because this is a hat I will be knitting on repeat in the future! It's a very simple hat in that it's perfect for an advanced beginner (chart reading, knits and purls, larger decreases), but it's still basic enough that it's perfect for charity donation as well! It's easy to just donate stockinette beanie after stockinette beanie, but in my everyday life I like my hats to have a bit of interest when I wear them, and I would imagine that whomever receives my donation hats may just feel the same way. This is the perfect hat for this!!
** For those that are newer here, you may not know that I have played in a Harry Potter themed group on Ravelry for many years now. Members are sorted into houses, turn in projects to earn points for classes, OWLs, and quidditch, and each term one team wins the House Cup, and one team wins the Quidditch Cup! I used to tease my husband about his nerd cred, until he finally said, "Whatever babe. You're part of an online, multiplayer, KNITTING THEMED, role playing game."
Clearly, I win the nerd war in our house!!
July 13, 2015
Pattern: GAP-tastic Cowl, by Jen Geigley (free Ravelry download!)
Yarn: Cascade Yarns Eco+ Wool. I used 334 yards
Needles: size US 13 / 9.0 mm 24" circular needle
With almost 16,000 of these GAP-tastic Cowls already made on Ravelry, this pattern is one of the favorites amongst knitters. You can use just about any bulky weight yarn (or hold worsted weight double), and once you've got the stitches cast on, you basically knit and purl away until the cowl is long enough.
Why it's taken me so long to get one of these on the needles is mind boggling, really. It's my perfect project - almost completely brainless* once you get the correct number of stitches cast on (I don't want to talk about it), knits up deceptively fast thanks to the bulky yarn, can be made with whatever you have in your stash, AND it's perfect for charity donation!
This is the first of many GAP-tastic Cowls to come off my needles, of this you can be sure! I already have plans to make a few of these with some grey yarn in my stash, all of which will be donated. While my donation habits almost always run towards hats, a cowl is a great donation piece - it can keep someone incredibly warm, and when it can be wrapped multiple times around the neck, and is wide enough to cover the head as well? It's surely going to be used and loved!
This cowl was meant to be donated as well, actually. But that green? The squish? I think it's going to end up staying in house, so I can wear it this winter!
This is the first project in my mini-quest to use up all of my Cascade Eco+ yarn, and was a great way to start things off! I'm excited to pick another pattern and keep right on moving through the yarn!!
*I mean brainless in the most positive and complimentary of ways. I love a pattern I can work while watching a movie or while the kids are playing trains, and that can be set down and picked up again without having to worry about where I am in the pattern. For me, in my life right now, this is what I work with on repeat, and so saying this pattern is brainless means I love it!!