blankets time

I love blankets and nearly always have one on my lap (as I do right now). Dot loves this as she’s my blanket lap cat. I’ve been working on several blankets for around the house, one for over five years.

It’s been a while since I’ve written about them and I recently figured out a fundamental flaw to my method, one that’s been hindering my progress. I want to share in the hope that it may help you get unstuck.

My favorite method for working on large blanket projects is to create them modularly. This means the blanket is worked in sections and joined. The joining can happen right away or later, or even a combination of the two.

This allows me to work on them in spurts and often to snuggle with them long before they’re complete.

This is true of the Garden as Safe Space blanket. Dot and I snuggle together with it every night when I sit on the couch to read or watch TV. This blanket has been ignored of late as it’s one where I join in each module (a hexagon) as I work it. It makes the blanket a bit unwieldy and strange at the current stage. For a while I felt overwhelmed by it, so I put away most of the yarn and only have the next hexagon in a small project bag on table next to where I sit. My hope is that is all I need to knit, I will plan and think of the next hexagon only after this one is complete. So far, the yarn has been sitting there for a few weeks. Next time Dot has enough of me for the evening and leaves for her favorite box, hopefully I’ll work on it. I’ve finished 5 complete rows and am about a third of the way through the 6th. The plan is for 18 columns of 11 hexagons each, there’s a long way to go!

tuxedo cat curled up on a handknit blanket

The blanket I’ve worked on for over five years, the Hexies for Always has had several hexagons knit while I’m working on Literary Fragments (see below), I haven’t added them … or woven in any of the ends. There’s no reason for this other than it hasn’t been a priority. At the moment it looks pretty much the same as it has for a year. Dot and I still use it whenever I sit on my studio couch.

Both the Library blanket for E and my Literary Fragments Blanket are suffering from my flawed modular methodology. The major flaw?

I keep each blanket in a large project bag with whatever is queued up for the next motif.

That means I need to schlep everything each time I work on it. As I’ve only finished 3.3 stripes of E’s blanket that’s not too overwhelming at the moment, but it means it never gets taken anywhere and this fourth stripe is neglected. My plan is to finish it this afternoon and to keep a project “go bag” so I will work on the next stripe more easily. That can fit in my everyday bag and will ensure project progress, I hope.

The Literary Fragments blanket is a little more complicated. Each round is a different color, I try to work on a batch of motif centers at once, then the second round, then the third. But it also requires me to organize the scrap yarns differently (another work in progress) and think about what I bring when and where. E’s blanket is my current priority and once I feel better about its progress, I’ll improve my workflow.

You can find progress updates for these blankets and more at my digital creative notebook at notebook.pennyshima.com. Can you guess the current theme – it is also a work in progress. I still maintain my account at Ravelry, however I like having more control over how things look. It also will allow me to eventually share some of the other projects I work on that aren’t strictly knitting, crochet, spinning, weaving … and then let me write differently about them here.

a year in the making: my chromaticity cowl

Over a year ago, Miriam Felton hosted a knit-a-long for her Chromaticity Cowl, and I jumped in. I went stash diving and knew that one of the yarns would be the leftovers of some Fleece Artist in my favourite colour, moss, that I purchased in 2007. The other colours were the challenge. I knew I wanted the green to be the star so the others would be greys, but I wasn’t sure even after doing black and white photo contrast tests if I chose the correct yarns until I started knitting. My initial choices did not provide enough contrast so I set the project aside for many months.

A month ago, while I was reorganizing my yarn stash and reviewing UFOs (unfinished objects), I pulled this project out and decided to finish it. I changed a few things, I only knit 5 rounds of hexagons instead of the seven Miriam designed and while my floats are neat, I decided to fully line it to help use up all of the charcoal and dove grey yarns. It’s a beautiful cowl and I’m very happy with it. What surprised me the most is that there are still a few yards of Fleece Artist remaining!

Chromacity Cowl designed by Miriam Felton

Chromaticity Cowl
by Miriam Felton
knit January 1, 2014 to February 14, 2015 (with a long break!)
3mm Knitter’s Pride Karbonz
Yarns: Fleece Artist Merino 2/6 in Moss and The Loopy Ewe Solid Series in Charcoal and Dove.
my Ravelry project page

This was a lovely design to knit and I recommend Miriam’s entire Modern Colorwork Collection!

happy yarn

Today over at little acorn creations, I posted a quick interview Riin of Happy Fuzzy Yarn. We talk about her yarn business, knitting designs, and bunnies. Discover your answer to the question, does yarn make you happy?

a finished sweater!

Grey is my favourite colour. It’s very versatile for clothing, perfect for me as I try to keep a minimalish wardrobe.

Another sign that grey is my favourite? This is the 6th grey sweater I’ve knitted!

IMG_20141026_140759Meet The Jumble Sale Kimono for the Widow Mayhew’s Daughter designed by Andi Smith and published in What (else) Would Madame Defarge Knit?.

The pattern is now available as a separate PDF for those who aren’t interested in the entire book (I’m obviously biased for all of it).

I started this sweater in May 2013, to go along with a KAL. I finally finished it last Saturday night, a week too late for Rhinebeck. I swatched for this sweater, by knitting the sleeves. Why did I knit my sleeve instead of a normal swatch? I struggle to actually knit swatches because it bothers me that after I block and measure them, they mostly just sit around ignored in my swatch box. I am impatient and could foresee not wanting to knit the second sleeve and then turning it into a vest! It would have been a pain to rip out the sleeve if it didn’t work out, but I knew if I made gauge (which I did) then I would be a sleeve ahead.

Swatching was essential for this project to answer two questions: 1) would my yarn substitution work? The yarn I used (now discontinued) is structurally different from the suggested Fiber Optic Kashmir. 2) I also wanted to see if my idea to knit on the lace edge would work, its designed to be sewn on later. The answer was yes and sort of. After making gauge, I decided to forge ahead with this yarn anyway. Knitting on the lace worked perfectly, but because it’s a dark charcoal grey sweater, the lace detail is lost.

This sweater was knitted in fits and starts and when I finally finished the second sleeve at the end of August I knew I had to make some changes so I would actually finish it. I wound three balls off the cone and knit the back and both fronts at the same time. I thought about knitting mostly seamless, but I wanted to practice my seaming so I forced myself to knit it flat. It got to be a tangle at times, but I think it worked out overall. I went into the seaming knowing that the lengths were equal and that helped.

I then needed to make a decision if I was going to knit the lace and cable edging or not. For the bottom I knew I didn’t want the motif. This is the same yarn I knitted the Whisper Cardigan out of, and I knew that it really likes to roll. So I knitted a hem and faced it with some green in the same yarn. I was going to knit the collar in brioche, but due to needle choice ended up doing a 1×1 rib instead, knitting it directly onto the fronts. I like the understated effect, though wish I had remembered to increase the stitch count once I made the switch from brioche to ribbing as it’s a bit narrow. I ended the ribbing with a tubular bindoff and that little detail makes me very happy. More notes about my design modifications can be found on my ravelry project page.

I’ve worn this sweater every day this week, it’s now my favourite sweater!

back to normal … almost

The first week back after the holiday cycle is always a challenge. This year I revised my planning system* so it has been productive and not overwhelming as in years past, but it’s still been quite the week. Monday morning I couldn’t find the new can of coffee I’d squirreled away in the cupboard and that made the day an interesting one (I drank copious amounts of tea instead). A nor’easter in town didn’t help. Today had its own set of of distraction, so all in all A Week.

2014-10-23-planner

I tried to finish my sweater for Rhinebeck but didn’t quite make it to the end. It was very blustery at the festival on Sunday so it probably wouldn’t have been seen.

2014-10-23-sweaterprogress

This sweater started life as The Jumble Sale Kimono for the Widow Mayhew’s Daughter by Andi Smith. While it still echoes her design, I’ve made extensive modifications along the way to accommodate my very differently structured yarn, my preferred style, and my desire to finish it (I cast on in May 2013!). About 40% of the collar still needs to be knitted, but the end is in sight and hopefully I’ll have a new sweater in time for my birthday.


* I’ll discuss more about my new system soon. I’m very happy with it. ^ back to top