This is a story and a sweater named Isabelle

Large projects like sweaters and blankets take on a bit of their own life.  Probably from soaking up just how much life happens during the time it takes for them to get made. Unlike many of my posts this one is probably a bit more personal, so don’t feel bad if you skip the reading for the photos. (And yes…. I take terrible selfies)

I started last November around the same time I decided to pursue some health issues that had been bothering me.  More recent symptoms had given me a bit more of a clue as to what to look into.  I’d managed to get past the armholes and was still working away at the body (Thankfully at this point with the lace panel memorized!) at my first endocrinology appointment in January. KNITWITS-APP-IMG_20151126_194627_2

It was at that particular appointment I got the news that my blood sugar was particularly high and I may want to try losing some weight to try and improve that result additionally it may have some impact on my other issues.  Meanwhile scans and labs were ordered and just maybe I’d have a few answers come February.

I was not particularly hopeful with the weight loss idea having been through some of the miasma of magical thinking that can follow around the idea of how such feats should be undertaken.  (Never eat X!; Only eat Y!; Fad-diet-of-the-moment is the only way to go!; Everything in life will be perfect if you just make it to this magic number on the scale)  But trying and failing had a bit more possibilities than not trying and failing, so I set out to try.  About a week in, I mentioned to a friend I was dieting (literally that single word in a list of things) in passing as part of a “what are you up to?” query.   Then a short time later watched as they went on a public tirade about dieting (some of which I agree with since it was in reference to the magical thinking bits I mentioned earlier) that ended in a don’t ever speak to me about this subject.

I won’t lie, it felt very personal and hurtful. It still does.  But you wipe your tears and try to keep on doing what is best for yourself.

IMG_20160223_143229_2So I kept on with my spring cleaning, flower planting, Knit Alongs and Quilt Alongs and got myself prepared for Sock Madness.  And by February I’d put several inches on my Isabelle in time for the follow up appointment (Though this time I was knitting socks for the Madness at my appointment). This isn’t too terribly slow considering my knit speed and its a fingering weight, but it does shed some light on how ambitious my intent for NaKniSweMo was.

Finally with only about 20 years between the first time I asked “Is this normal?” I had an answer.  Its PCOS. And while its not a get diagnosis and get cured kind of issue, it does have options to deal with symptoms. There is a certain relief in the knowing, and a small bit of hope.

With all the spring activities and start of Sock Madness, it took me up to the very end of March to finish the body, but on the plus side I did manage a somewhat decent selfie for the progress photo on the blog. And a week later I made the goal my doctor had suggested.

KNITWITS-APP-IMG_20160511_093444By May 11th when I finally finished the first sleeve, my Isabelle was becoming well traveled; Kansas, Oregon, and even Vancouver, BC.  At least knitting projects don’t need passports. I made my own first goal of “well if we can make that, let’s try for 5 more.”

Normally, I’d have put Isabelle on pause to work on my monthly Hobbit Scarf chart, but at the encouragement of my husband (future scarf owner) I cast on the second sleeve. I kept at it until the last competitive (for me) Sock Madness round which took me 10 days to do over 200 bobbles on just one pair of socks. Then right back into my Isabelle.

It took about 14.5 skeins of my vintage, thrifted, no yardage listed yarn (out of a possible 26) to finish so my estimated materials cost is about $23, although my labor is an entirely other matter. But by the last day of May she was finally off the needles and into the soak and then block stage.

Although I worried about the fit with my changing body, and the more immediate panic when the soak had created the stench of moth balls out of my vintage yarn, Isabelle fits. The soak smell has disappeared.  Its beautiful. As for that other stuff, well… its still a work in progress.

Spring Fever or Just Sock Madness?

Spring is certainly upon us.  I’m celebrating the sprouts and blooms, and as usual, finding even more things to plant. (Trying to catch up with my grandmother, but she has a walled garden and I have elk and deer)

So I confess I don’t feel like I haven’t gotten as many projects ticked over from in-progress to the done pile this month.  I did get my First Round Bracket/Team Sock Madness socks finished in time to go on to the next round.  These certainly fit my spring theme with their bright colors and lace blooms.


Absolutely positively TSA worthy socks. (Kind of a pity we went electric and so now do more road trips than air trips in that regard.. pretty much the only downside so far)

Here’s the progress status on the WIP pile this month:

  • One more chart done on the Hobbit Scarf (We found the ring!)yyuicx2nqdovgj4-l6ggyh7r34f0ls6egu4o3h68thtjucvkjhb55rhhtnsb5ohooy521-1xrf_uayww6r7uwquei1tjijvkkq4k
  • Got my Sweater body done, next up a pair of sleeves! IMG_20160330_151309
  • Bought the backing for my Knight’s Tour quilt. IMG_20160330_161824

I did take a day for baking after getting my new oven! (Woo!!!) and I’m going to try to squeak in the hand appliqué of my snowflake top before the end of the month, so I can tick that off my monthly goals, but while its been quite a bit of progress, it could use a few more finishes.

The 32 days of January

No, that’s not a typo in the title. As I mentioned in my last post, I signed up for a 365 block-a-day quilt.  The designer of which offered two blocks for the first of January, one for the beginners and one for the more advanced.  Well I decided having an extra block might be nice for the grand scheme of things so I made up both.

So while I am still a couple weeks behind (which considering I didn’t sign up until the 22nd of January is closer to caught up than where I started!), I am now able to show all my January blocks.  These are all finished size 3 inch blocks (so 3.5 inches unfinished)


As for the knitting front… Its getting closer to time to gear up for Sock Madness, so I’m working my WIP and knocking out my February/March KAL shawl early so I can be prepared to knit all the things!

Here’s a few teasers of knits yet to come!

A Frugal Sweater to Fall For

Wool yarn is generally not inexpensive.  This makes sweaters on the more expensive end of wearable crafts, and a bit of a hurdle for some new knitters.  One option when you are scouring sales racks and finding your way through the options are thrift sales.  If you are a little bit cautious and a little bit adventurous you can find a good deal.

I say cautious because it can be easy to see a brand name and some people will bid up to near retail price without considering any shipping or handling costs.  One of the main dangers with thrifted yarn is you don’t know how the last person kept their stash and paying near retail (or above if you forgot about the additional fees) only to discover you have a moth nest is going to be a bad time.

But also adventurous.  Take a chance on a wool brand you aren’t quite sure about.  Find one of those swooned about skeins in your price range.

It was this spirit of frugal adventure that ended in a purchase of 12 skeins of Christopher Sheep Wool for $21.99 or the equivalent of $1.75 a skein.  (7 in Barley, 4 in Chris Robin, 1 in unlabeled dark brown)

Now I can say that based on the Ravelry stashes and the color options seen on their website that my finds were from a much earlier period and in colors they no longer produce.  When I wound it into the balls I can say that the stash keeper before me had some issues with pests and so several of the Barley colored skeins were not unbroken.

Nevertheless, in the spirit of stash busting cold sheeping I decided to have a go at making it into a garment.  And because its a bit more of a rough texture yarn I wanted to use it as an outer layer style garment.  Enter Sylvi.  I loved the design on the back, and even more so the idea of making it pop out a bit with some color work, as a few knitters before me had done.  What I didn’t care about was the hood and that there were no pockets.  But with only $20 on the line… time to test out the ability to make modifications.

My modifications included Intarsia Cables and bud/leaves, an alternate cuff in the Celtic Vines pattern, Two front pockets, a separate button placket, and a shawl style collar. I found some coconut shell leaf buttons to finish it off. The front vine/flower was added as an afterthought i-cord design.  It fits well enough I wore it out to fall cider and apple fritters.  I just forgot to get any photos.  (And my other photos are late night cell phone shots which leave a bit to be desired)

And now something for the curious knitter…. what the interior of it looks like.

sylvi interior

I personally don’t think I am the best at weaving in ends, but to me this looks fine enough I don’t think I would line it.

Now as to the stash busting and how that is going…. I still have a couple more sweaters-worth of thrifted yarn.  One in a fingering weight black and another in a worsted weight beige that I am hoping to dye a more suited shade.  And then the latest yarn swap came in…. so 10 skeins out… and it looks like 7 skeins in.

Must… knit… faster

Just keep Knitting

Weddings sure do eat up a bunch of time out of a month!  So alas this time I am a bit light on the finished items, and have lots of Works in Progress to share (WIPs).

First up… I am continuing my stash busting, and tackling some yarn I thrifted a few years ago.  These big hanks take up most of one of the closet stash boxes.  They are slowly becoming a sweater with some modifications to give it a collar and pockets.  I am up to the right front, pockets and the collar to complete.

Well this is rather complex, and a bit bulky, so less transportable… so I started some other project too.  It may be getting out of hand.

There is a baby blanket from some stash acrylic in a modified tree tops style.

ground beneath her feet

And a couple row by row quilt rows:

umbrellas and boots

I’m a bit of a ways from being done with those last few projects.  Hopefully they will show up in a blog post her soon…..ish.

There are no Resolutions in this post, only ideas.

I don’t really make New Years Resolutions… more because people seem to think its a great thing to think of and then don’t take them all that seriously.  So I always have ideas and things I want to do and I do list them out as goals.  In 2012 it was a new Christmas Stocking each month from January to October with a goal on selling them.  I exceeded that plan in the crafting department, but I wish I’d done a bit better in the selling.  In 2013 it was sweaters, gloves, and working on my Star Quilt.

Well I did get the Sweaters part done… I made 3 this year.

I didn’t get any gloves made and the only mittens were for a 6 month old which didn’t really have separate thumb holes so I am not counting them towards the original goal, and not much work on my star quilt so those will just have to move into 2014.

Instead I tackled some lace shawls.

And doubled the amount of quilts I’ve made with four more. (BONUS: A Christmas gift of a quilted table set that I designed and hand appliquéd)

I also made up some great plushies, custom curtains and finished my first ever double knit scarf… so there was certainly quite a bit going on in 2013.

So now its time to think about all I want to achieve in 2014….

I have six quilts on my list this year!

  • A movie inspired gift quilt (lap size)
  • An Art Quilt (3-4ft square) Inspired by one of Ben’s favorite Artists
  • A Commissioned Baby Quilt
  • My Star Quilt (Back again! – King size)
  • A Christmas Cathedral Window Quilt
  • An as yet to be determined 2nd quilt for the family room.  Ben loves our VideoGame quilt, but thinks there should be a second quilt, because after all there are two of us.

In the knitting front I’ve got some other unique projects planned.

  • A Scarf and Shawl from my wonderful new Alpaca yarn!  I’m debating making my own patterns for these, but we shall see!
  • Gloves are still on the list!  I’ve already got the conductive thread to make them Smart Phone capable!
  • I’m going to tackle a second pair of socks.  I think with my skills I’ve worked on I might be able to do some patterns that won’t make me so bored by sock #2 (aka Second Sock Syndrome)
  • I’ve got a few more shawls planned.  Including one bird inspired based on the Stellars Jay
These Jays from the PNW are vibrant Blue and Black!

These Jays from the PNW are vibrant Blue and Black!

  •  I’d also like to tackle Brioche stitch as a new stitch this year.  Perhaps I’ll use up my “Action Green” from the Seahawks Stocking on that.

So its a bit of a list looking at it all at once… but if I can tackle 3 sweaters, 4 quilts and learning so much about lace in a year… I out to have a good start on some of these… RIGHT?

The Stockings were Hung….

This morning I woke up a good hour early, and rolled over to peek out the window to gauge the time and…. snow!  Like a good inch or so, there was snow on the ground and the tree branches.  I was so excited I couldn’t go back to sleep!  I love snow… so much that relatives several states away will call to tell me when they get their first snows of the season.

But we were on stockings.  Ben and I have stockings… we hang ours on the knobs of the china hutch.  Its not that we don’t have a fireplace, with mantle, but we don’t have those stocking hooks… and frankly the way I try to stuff them its probably good that I can pull out the drawer below for added stability sometimes!

While I did not make quite so many stockings this year, Ben and I signed up for the Redditgifts Secret Santa Exchange this year and I knew I wanted to give our giftees some custom Christmas Stockings full of holiday cheer.

My giftee collects vintage hand fans.  So I thought a modified Grandmother’s fan design would be appreciated.

Stuffed so full I couldn't even fit that last gift in!

Stuffed so full I couldn’t even fit that last gift in!

Ben’s giftee really liked the Seattle Seahawks, which means I know have half a skein of “Action Green” yarn in my stash:

The Hawks are doing pretty good this year!  Up to 12-2

The Hawks are doing pretty good this year! Up to 12-2

And I did indeed make sure to put 12 feathers on the heel and cuff….

The back of the Hawk's stocking featuring the rest of the wrap around design.

The back of the Hawk’s stocking featuring the rest of the wrap around design.

I do hope they like all their gifts, and as with the last gift exchange,  (Which was Star Trek in case you forgot!) I will update this post with any response from our giftees.

Meanwhile, my Santa was really quite on the ball… she has already sent me a great new knitting book called Woodland Knits.

Thanks again my Santa!

Thanks again my Santa!

There are some adorable patterns in there to give me lots of ideas in the new year.  I say the new year because this week I was all about a pair of commissioned custom StarCraft2 Scarves.  And I’ve cast on the second of my sleeves on my Spoke Sweater.  So between the housekeeping and cookie making and early Christmas having…. I am knitting like a made fiend to see if I can’t get it done to wear Christmas Day.  

Here’s a quick preview of the main body so you can see how far along I am:

Just needs some seaming, sleeves and a good blocking!

Just needs some seaming, sleeves and a good blocking!

UPDATE!  My Secret Santa Giftee received and liked her gifts!

And so did Ben’s Giftee (who posted a whole album – click the title)  Ben also posted what he received here.

Post-Op: A Luscious Sweater Story

Way back in April I cast on my Luscious Sweater.  It is all knit on size 2 needles in fingering weight yarn and its pretty much all stockinette… which meant lots and lots of pretty repetitive knitting.   At first I had high hopes that I would have my sweater done by my trip in June.

There were errors in the pattern.  Simple stuff that honestly felt like the pattern needed just a bit more proofing, but I was only the second person on Ravelry to cast on, and the other person hadn’t posted updates since they started, so I was determined to keep on.   (For the record, the first two errors I verified with the pattern publisher, but after that I decided to save them up for one email at the end.  I did post every issue I had on my project page.  I believe that most of my issue came from stitching the non-standard larger size.)

Day before I leave on my trip and I’m casting off my last piece and blocking… spirits are high!  I’m seaming up the other pieces because I am totally going to have this for my trip!

And then.. I pin the last piece in place and discover….. the two tails,  do not line up.

So disappointed

So disappointed

And this isn’t a minor off by a few rows, made a small error no one else will notice issue… this is a one side falls at the knee.. and the other side drags on the floor.

So I set it aside and went on my trip and it was an INCREDIBLE time.

And I came back and I pondered and plotted and wondered if it was possible to fix this train wreck or should I just frog it… all 13 balls of yarn.

In the end.. I decided to fix it.

I threaded some 10 weight crochet thread through my main drape section from the side seam to the exterior as a life line:

Its called a life line for a reason!

Prepare the patient for surgery

I carefully un stitched the long side seam of the main drape:

Preparing the patient for surgery

How “Unseaming” !

And then…. I cut off the first tail of the drape….

Post scissor application

Post scissor application

I carefully picked up every stitch along my row and set out to knit again!  I started out with an additional set of short rows, because I wanted to make sure that the drape tapered a bit more towards the knee.  (I’m not certain I actually needed to do this… it just felt like I should and at this point… the sweater was unwearable so what’s the harm of trying imo.)  My thought was that the issue was that the taper of the main drape wasn’t at a sharp enough angle, so I increased my decreases by half again.  I’d left my shorter side drape pinned in place so I had a comparison for length to aim for.   I got to the end of the new tail of the drape and laid the sweater out for comparison.

The measure here is lined up with the new tail and the side drape point.

The measure here is lined up with the new tail and the side drape point.

It looked to be significantly closer in alignment than the original!  I knew since my side drape was just pinned at this point, that I could adjust that piece as well, and so this looked to be markedly successful!  So I got out my scissors and amputated the other side of the drape tail.  I followed the same basic directions of short row set followed by increased decreases.  I did lay out my sweater repeatedly to check if I was on-target for matching.

So after stitching a new front tail… I re-seamed my long seam, and stitched down the side drape and….



It is absolutely much more symmetrical!

Now… I am a little bit uncertain how I feel about this sweater, but I’m not sure if that’s the taint of the earlier disappointment or something else.  I’m wearing it today… and we shall see.  Here’s some wearing photos so you can see the fit.

Show in standard Misscarlotta not-quite-focus

Show in standard Misscarlotta not-quite-focus

And the other side:

Front knee is slightly bent.

Front knee is slightly bent.

So there you have it… the final results of Doctah Knittah!

As a side note… I am so very glad this wasn’t my first sweater and that Ben’s Ben was so successful, because as I look at future knitting projects, prior results make a huge impact.  I haven’t yet made a second pair of socks… because the first pair was so dang boring on sock #2.

Uh, we had a slight knitting malfunction, but uh… we’re fine….finally updating on the Sweater and Travel knits

So last post I was saying how I was going to probably not finish my Luscious sweater in time… but I will have you know that dedication and several seasons of TV episodes will certainly take you pretty far.  I actually finished all the pieces to my sweater, and was starting to assemble on the 13th.

So stylish!

woohoo!  Look at how cool it is looking!

I am not a tall person.  I come in at just under 5ft 5in.  And after assembling the main drape, I tested out the size and it seemed rather long.  But ever the optimist… I hoped that it would just be a little long and some of that would be corrected in the rest of the assembly.  So I added in the sleeve section and tried it on again.  The tail on me would be dragging on the floor.



Could it be that I was just too short?  I pinned up the side drape…. and nope… it was just the right length.  There is about a foot of difference between the two points.  So needless to say… I didn’t take my sweater on vacation.  So now I am working on garnering up the internal fortitude and creativity in an effort to try and fix it.   As to what went wrong… well I can’t be certain, since I consider myself a more intermediate knitter.  This is after all my second sweater.  My theory, which is based solely on the errors I have found (first two were confirmed by the company that published the pattern – the remaining errors I have still to submit and figured I would collect them all in one email at the end) is that this sweater was not test knit in the larger sizes, and the issue lies someplace in that particular area.   The details of my issues you can read about on this projects Ravelry page.

And so… I did say I was setting it aside while I was traveling and going to work on a shawl, and learn the art of chart reading anyway… right?

About that……. well starting a lace chart project at 3AM at the airport is probably not the wisest idea.  I should have learned from the myriad of times I picked up and put down the Branching Out portions of the Family Tree Baby Blanket while on various flights.  But no… I cast on and got to the second row of the chart and found I’d already made a mistake someplace.  So in Amsterdam I frogged those few rows and cast on again.  And I knit the first 14 rows between there and here right after we got back with our jet lag brain.

But in review… it looks like I have a mistake someplace.  The first section feather points look all nice and pointy:

Kind of a terrible picture... but you get the idea here.

Kind of a terrible picture… but you get the idea here.

But when you get into the second section something has gone clearly awry… my feather points look like a pair of dutch-boy pantaloons.

Seriously?!  ¬.¬

Seriously?! ¬.¬

So its kinda looking like a second frogging.  (For those not in the knitting know… its called frogging because you “Rip-it” out.)  Which brings us to a new joke I heard while in Amsterdam….  You shouldn’t try to explain puns to kleptomaniacs.  They take things literally.

I will see myself out….

Taking Flight: Knitting for the birds and airplanes

So let’s say you find yourself in the enviable position of taking a vacation to foreign lands, and you find yourself facing a 5 hour flight followed by an 8 hour flight.  And somewhere down the line of trip planning you decide that a fair portion of that 13+ transit hours could be spent knitting… and then you wonder about if they even allow knitting needles on flights.

Well first let me say that if you live in the US, the TSA has given the knitting needle OK; however, cutting implements are a whole other matter.  But when one is planning an international trip, one has to consider the other countries… and that’s where it becomes a little more of a “maybe” situation.  You can send your project off in a self addressed envelope if they turn your needles away, but if you’ve just spent a month knitting up half a sweater the idea you might find yourself waiting for the postman for the other half just doesn’t sound like a good time.*

So while I had high hopes when I started of actually wearing my Luscious Sweater on this trip, its time to admit that the project will need to wait until I return.

I did finish up the main drape section!

I did finish up the main drape section!

So now its time to pull out some back up plans.  A project that won’t be too big so it only takes a couple balls… yet big enough to keep you occupied for several hours on a plane and during vacation down time.  My solution… a shawl or two!

 ~ And thus we come to the bird portion of our knitting blog. ~

Not that long ago I was thinking to myself that it would be pretty amazing to have some bird colored yarn.  The Stellar’s Jay Vibrant Blue and Black, the Kingfisher’s Teal and Rust… or the Female Evening Grosbeak:

Evening Grosbeaks are primarily monogamous, so Fellas if you like it you better put a chirp on it.

Evening Grosbeaks are primarily monogamous, so Fellas if you like it you better put a chirp on it.

I am hoping that this Rock Candy Colorway by Sockease will do the trick.

Oh oh Oh!

Oh oh Oh!

And my plan is to make it into a shawl called Gamayun Bird out of it.   Since I’m a bit of an optimist in my knitting (hence the unfinished aforementioned sweater) I also bought some other lace yarn for another potential project… but you will have to wait until I cast that on for an update.

The Grosbeak males are a much more vivid yellow.

The Grosbeak males are a much more vivid yellow.


*All that stuff about the Postman… well let’s be honest, earlier this month we received an envelope with no stamp, no return address, and the wrong zipcode.  The vast majority of the time they certainly get it right!