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Well the Carbeth sweater is coming along. Surprisingly we haven’t had a really hot and humid day the whole time I’ve been working on it. I thought for sure the knitting gods would dump the hot and humid on me instantly. Rather the days have been around 68 F / 20 C. Very unusual for this time of year. But that’s not to say the knitting gods have passed me by. No, I am on their radar.

I usually knit with fingering yarn and small needles no larger than US 5 (3.75 mm). Most needles I use are between US 1 (2.25 mm) and US 3 (3.25 mm). The ones I’m using for Carbeth are US 11 (8 mm) and US 10.5 (6.5 mm) in both circular and double-pointed. The sleeves are knit on double-pointed needles. It’s like knitting with logs. Slippery logs. The double-pointed needles are especially problematic. If they are held any way other than perfectly horizontal  when not in use (and who can manage that with double-pointed needles?) the needles slip right out of the stitches. Add to the fact that the yarn is held double, which I usually avoid like I would Ebola, and I have some seriously challenging knitting going on.

I knew all this going in. It wasn’t a knit within my comfort zone. Still I wanted the sweater. It’s called masochistic knitting at it’s best. The body up to the under arm is complete. I only had to rip back 3 times when somehow I forgot to knit a double strand and knitted a single one instead.

I’ve also finished one sleeve that contains increases. How can an increase be so complicated? It’s masochistic knitting, remember? I have this obsession  thing about increases being invisible. So the increase that is truly invisible is the lifted increase. You knit into the collar of the stitch below the one on your needle. Then you knit the one on your needle. It makes a beautiful right leaning increase. For the left you do the same–sort of. You work the stitch on the needle then you go what looks like two stitches but is really just one below, knit into the collar of the stitch and you have a left leaning decrease. While my right leaning decreases were coming out okay, the left ones were not. Riiiiiiiiip! Start again. Do the same things. The left increase is still wonky. Put knitting down. Comb through knitting books for the specific increase I am doing. Finally find it verifying I am doing it as stated. Pick up knitting. Make left increase. Stop. The increase is still wonky. Wonder if knitting it through the back look would change anything. Try it. Left increase is now looking good. One problem solved.

I am working on the second sleeve now. After this I join the front, sleeve, back, sleeve together and from there I am lost. The instructions are to keep 8 stitches on hold for each sleeve and back and front. These stitches are not knitted up when the pieces are joined. They are grafted together at the end of the sweater making. I cannot envision how yarn gets from one part of the sweater to the other. Even joining other balls of yarn where these 8 stitches are will not work knitting in the round. So I am off to Ravelry to find out if anyone else had this problem and what to do about it. I have visions of the sweater being left unfinished because I can’t figure this out and my heart starts its anxious palpitations. I tell myself I will finish this sweater. I will.

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Before I started on the Carbeth sweater I had to finish these:

madelinetosh sock yarn knitted sock 2

They’re for The Skipper. The pattern is called Tracks and Hurdles. In high school he was a track person so I thought the pattern appropriate.

madelinetosh sock yarn knitted sock

The pattern is a multiple of 10, so it would only work with 20, 40, 60, or 80 stitches. Luckily, I was using a superwash merino, MadelineTosh Sock in Nassau Blue colorway, and I could drop down from the usual amount of stitches I’d need to 60 knowing that the stretch in both the pattern and the yarn would give The Skipper enough room to make the socks comfortable. They work perfectly.

Usually I Kitchener stitch the toes together, but this time I did a 3 needle bind off instead. So much easier! No counting. No trying to remember whether the needle goes in purlwise or knitwise or whether I just worked the same stitch twice.

So I am on to my Carbeth and as predicted, the temperature rose from 60 F / 15 C the day before I began the sweater to 90 F / 32 C on the day I cast on the sweater. Life never misses an opportunity to mess with me. Thus, for two days we’ve had 90 F / 32 C weather and I have had the beginnings of a wooly sweater in my lap along with a furry Yarn Rascal draped around my neck so he can slither down my front like a semi-solid bowl of Jell-O, ooze into my lap and land on top of my knitting. Today, surprisingly, we’re back to the 60 F / 15 C. I don’t usually catch breaks like this.

It appears we are, nonetheless, moving toward something called Summer, however hesitatingly. Dilly-Dilly and King George (a pair of robins) have nested again this summer just outside our kitchen window in the Mountain Laurel. Last year I fretted the whole time Dilly-Dilly and KG gave birth to then raised 3 baby robins. By the time the babies fledged I was ready to have a nervous breakdown in celebration. I was so sure she wasn’t feeding them enough, covering them enough, or in other words just worrying over every little thing.

This year I am trying to accept that Dilly-Dilly and KG know what they are doing. We have two antique bird baths in the Serenity Garden and KG has claimed one for himself and his lady. No other birds allowed. So the other day I decided to drive the one and one-half hours to the salvage store where I get my antique bird baths and pick up a third one so the rest of the birds don’t have to crowd into the one bird bath KG allows them. By the time I arrived home the eggs had hatched and we were seeing two bald little heads with large mouths poking up out of the nest to feed. Robins usually have 3 babies but I am working hard not to dwell on this because I will make myself crazy and I have two 88 year old parents to take care of who drive me round the bend on a regular basis. My default mode is anxiety.

New to the zoo this year is Chippy. He’s a chipmunk who does chipmunk yoga stretches in the morning on the pedestal of the sundial in the garden. Chippy had captured my heart which means I buy him organic almonds and feed him an handful or so daily. The Skipper says Chippy and his friends have dug tunnels around the house and one of these days the house is just going to sink from sight. He would like me to stop feeding Chippy. I don’t believe that a little chipmunk who does yoga will be the cause of the house sinking into the ground, but heaven knows I’ve been wrong before. Unbeknownst to The Skipper Chippy is going to be fed all summer and autumn. If the house sinks it sinks.

Also new to the zoo are two mallards, male and female who are inhabiting our pond. Hank the heron flew in the other day. When he saw the mallards he became quite indignant and flew off. Haven’t seen him since. So for all those with a heron problem forget the alligators and the 3 foot high string get a pair of mallards.

 

 

The weather remains rainy, grey and only in the 50s F / 10 C. Never fear, in my state of denial regarding the weather I bought two hibiscus plants for the hummingbird we have hanging around. Hibiscus is a plant that does very well in Hawaii, so why not give it a go in a cold, gloomy climate? I hope the weather warms up before the hibiscus die.

I swatched for the Carbeth sweater.

buachaille

The sock on the right is what I am trying to finish before I throw myself into this sweater. The swatch on the left is the Carbeth on size US 10.5 (6.5 mm). After working on the sock with US 1 (2.25mm) needles it was like going from playing with a butterfly to wrestling a bear on the US 10. By the way, that’s the inside of the sock you’re seeing.

Unlike superwash merino, the Buachaille doesn’t grow when bathed and blocked. I got perfect row gauge but my stitch count was off. I needed 3.5 stitches per inch ( 2.5 cm) and I got 4. I went back to the pattern and recalculated the numbers for the 4 gauge. I didn’t really like the results. I had to jump up two sizes beyond what I would have normally knit and still the results would have yielded only 2 inches (5 cm) of ease where I want 4 inches (10 cm).

So I went to Webs yarn store online and ordered US 11 (8 mm) needles hoping to get the 3.5 sts I need. When they arrive I will swatch. But I have doubts about this working out nicely. Having had so much interaction with the gods of knitting I know what lies ahead. I will have to use the US 10.5 (6.5 mm) needles and recalculate the entire sweater decrease shaping and all. That means it will turn into a masochistic knitting adventure. By the time I am knitting and have the sweater and Yarn Rascal in my lap, the weather will have turned very hot and very humid. The hibiscus, should they make it through until then, will be very happy.

I wasn’t far off. I’d said the day the yarn arrived would probable reach 90 F / 32 C. The day the Buachaille yarn arrived from Scotland the temperature was 88 F / 31 C. The previous day had been 56 F / 13 C. Who knew that the way to finally bring spring/summer to the area was simply to order yarn one would normally work with in the autumn/winter? The knitting gods have such a sense of humor.

I was anxious for the package to arrive since this would be a very different yarn than Yarn Rascal  was used to mangling  handling and I wanted to see his reaction. We walked down to the mailbox and about 5 feet / 1.5 meters from it Yarn Rascal started going crazy. Yipping, jumping, walking on his back legs while his front legs did the frantic begging motion he usually saves for when he wants a treat. What with the yarn coming from Scotland and knowing how slow mail within the US can be I really doubted that his reaction was a signal the Scottish wool had arrived.

Was I surprised when I opened the mailbox. Yarn Rascal was right. The wool had arrived. He was so wound up that if he could have he would have jumped right into the mailbox. I pulled the package out. Yarn Rascal immediately knocked it out of my hands, digging to open the package all the while he whining and yipping. He had lost what little control over himself he possessed.

The only way to get back up the hill and to the house was to hold a squiggling, yipping Yarn Rascal under one arm and the package of yarn under the other. It was a struggle making it back up the hill in the heat and twice I had to stop.

When we got in the house I immediately opened the package so Yarn Rascal could get at the goodies. To say Yarn Rascal has found a new yarn he likes much more than merino is an understatement. He wiggled his whole body around in the yarn trying to transfer the sheep smell onto himself. He was in Yarn Rascal heaven. As The Skipper and I watched him enjoy the yarn, I said, “I think we need to buy him a sheep or two for his next birthday or move to Scotland where he can be near them.” The Skipper, always the diplomat, totally ignored the comment.

I have a sock for The Skipper I need to finish as the pattern is in my head and not written down before I can begin work on the sweater. In the meantime, I am deciding on the length and whether I want to do a regular swatch or work on one sleeve first and use that as a swatch. Never having worked with this yarn before I don’t know it’s characteristics after blocking.

Yarn Rascal is looking forward to the beginning of the project. I have a feeling this will be one of those projects where Yarn Rascal will be draped all over me and the yarn as I knit. The warm, furry little body combined with the wool should make for perfect summer knitting.

 

carbeth_04_copy_medium2

My new obsession is Carbeth by Kate Davies. I love the interesting construction, the shape, the utilitarianism of the sweater. Best of all, it will give me a chance to work with her Buachaille yarn.  From descriptions I’ve read, the yarn is really sheepy. It has the natural lanolin of the fleece still in it and it smells sheepy. I can’t wait to work with something other than merino. I am also very interested in what Yarn Rascal’s reaction will be. Again, from the descriptions, this will be way different that any yarn he’s seen so far.

As with all sweater patterns, I purchased it and studied it before I bought the yarn and needles. I don’t have a waist like Ms. Davies, so I will be making adjustments to the length. Since I plan to wear this with turtlenecks underneath I also decided to go up 4 inches (10 cm) larger than my bust size.

There are very sane mathematical ways to figure out how much extra yarn will be needed when altering a pattern. I’d like to say I employed them before I ordered a whole batch of yarn in the Haar colorway, but I didn’t. I winged it. But that will be alright. Haar is one of the natural colors of the sheep so if I need more it will most likely blend in. Haar is a silver grey. I ordered the color because it will go with all my turtlenecks. I also ordered it because I’ve gotten so use to the grey skies and days (we haven’t seen the sun since I don’t know when) that I was afraid when the outdoors finally became sunny and colorful I would go into some sort of detox craving and needing to see grey.

What I can be sure of now that I ordered the yarn is that the day it arrives and I start the project the temperature outside will shoot up from 50 F (10 C) to 90 F (32 C) along with oppressive humidity. Yes, now that I’ve bought this sheepy yarn the entire east coast of the United States is sure to get hot, humid weather with plenty of searing sunshine. What better weather to knit a winter sweater in?

 

 

It’s April 6 and it is snowing. This is the latest I ever recall having snow in this area. I am doing my best to ignore what it is doing outside but the animals, birds, squirrels, deer, chipmunks, etc. are not happy.

Mom had a slight stroke last week. It hasn’t affected her physical abilities though she seems somewhat weaker and very tired. She is sleeping a lot. Meanwhile I am running her small real estate business, getting one of the houses she owns prepared for showing and rental. Just when I think I am done and can turn it over to the real estate agent, something else pops up that needs doing.

At the moment I have a fiber related dilemma. A couple of weeks back Nothingbut2knit had a picture on her blog of a woman looking so relaxed and at peace while spinning with a supported spindle. I know nothing about spinning, but I haven’t been able to get the picture out of my head and desire to purchase all that is required and give it a go. I envision myself sitting as peacefully as that woman.

Quite a while ago now, I made myself a drop spindle with the whorl at the bottom. Bought some roving to practice on and proceeded on to disaster. At the time I had a bichon named Sport who couldn’t have cared less about yarn, knitting, or spinning. I also had a Labrador Retriever, Dakota, who loved to retrieve things including skeins of yarn. The drop spindle was to Dakota like candy is to a child, irresistible. Every time I would roll the spindle down my thigh and drop it to spin Dakota was right there to catch it. Finally I gave up and the spindle became a fetch and retrieve toy for Dakota. She was very proud of her spindle.

Back to the present day dilemma. Yarn Rascal is interested in all things to do with yarn. He recently began chewing on my knitting needles again after I had thought we’d gotten past that habit when he stopped teething. He loves things he can put in his mouth and hold, especially if they are not suppose to be in his mouth in the first place.

So the questions I am debating are these: Do I spend close to $100 on acquiring the materials needed to do supported spinning knowing that: 1) the spindle may become a plaything for Yarn Rascal; 2) Yarn Rascal might go crazy when he sees roving for the first time and may render it unspinnable in his joy?

I bought Fleegles’ book in pdf form about all one needs to know about supported spinning. I haven’t had time to read through it, but some of the other questions I am debating are: How do you know how much yarn you are making when you spin? Answer: I don’t have to worry about that because I won’t be able to spin. I’ll never get the knack. What does one do with the yarn once it’s spun? (See answer above). Can you ply with a supported spindle? (See answer above. Also read the book you bought).

Last question. How do I hide explain my new playthings from to The Skipper until I am proficient at it? (See answer above).

 

I was sitting in my oncologist’s waiting room knitting. I just started a toe-up sock so not much of it was done. The waiting room was quite crowded.

An older woman who had been watching me walked across the waiting room and took the seat next to me. I wasn’t alarmed as she didn’t look like a serial killer. The low chatter that was going on in the room gave way to silence when she sat down. As I said, I was knitting toe-up, had just completed the short-row toe and joined for working in the round on small US 1 (2.25 mm) 9 inch (22 cm) circular needles. The woman leaned over to me in the hushed waiting room and said, “Are you knitting a penis cover?” I could feel everyone’s eyes slide toward me. My heart started palpating funny and my breathing sort of stopped. When I realized the floor was not going to open up and swallow me I replied “No” loud enough for everyone to hear. “It’s a sock. See, like the ones I’m wearing.” I always wear a pair of hand knitted socks to the oncologist’s office. They are my good luck charm and armor.

The woman looked at me curiously and said she had never seen anyone knit a sock like this. I explained to her, and the rest of the waiting room, she was used to seeing cuff-down construction and this was toe-up. I don’t really know if anyone in that room believed me.

These are the penis cover socks I was knitting.

corridale knit socks

The socks are the Corriedale yarn from Bumblebee Acres Farm. I love it. The Corriedale has nice stitch definition. It is not as silky as Merino but it is sturdy. The best part is that unlike Merino which tends to grow when you wash it, Corriedale does not. It maintains it’s shape and size. So if you are having problems with socks that come out of the bath bigger than when they went in, try Corriedale.

As for knitting in public, I think I will always keep a pair of The Skipper’s socks on the needles as they are worked cuff-down and can’t be mistaken for anything other than a sock.

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