American Wool Series

Friday, January 29, 2016

WIP: Sock Hat

I have yet another project on the needles! This past week brought some sample work so my regular projects are on hold until I get it done. I cast on a hat for knit night last week so I would have something simple to knit. 

This yarn was a gift from a friend and has languished in my stash for several years. 

The yarn is Sleep Season Goods Sock Yarn in the color Sassafras and is 100% wool. Initially, this yarn was destined for socks but the lack of nylon and the light variegation changed my mind. Hat it is! This is a great project for knitting on the go and I'm happy to use some older stash!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

WIP: Kites

Creative energy is flowing pretty strongly at Chez Birnel right now. I'm making sewing plans for the year, working on exciting new things, and knitting along on one of my favorite types of projects - colorwork. 

I cast on for this project on New Year's Eve as a way to start as I mean to go on. What that really means is I want to work on things I really love and enjoy doing rather than forcing myself to finish projects I'm half in love with or because I "need" to use the yarn, pattern, etc. 

This is a free pattern named Kites by Teleri and it uses three colors of fingering weight yarn. I'm using two shades of Rauma Finullgarn (navy and gray) and one shade of Brooklyn Tweed Loft in Hayloft. This pattern isn't fooling around; it's easy to follow and the motif is straightforward but you're still working with three colors of yarn. The tangle factor is a bit of an issue but that could be circumvented by breaking either the blue or yellow color instead of carrying them up. But hey, I wanted fewer ends to weave in so I'm going the tangle city route. The first fingerless mitt flew off my needles but the second one is slow going since I'm not on vacation anymore. 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

WIP: Serif

Every January 1st I drag all of my stash out of hiding and sort through it and organize it. It takes half the day to do a proper job and put it all away, nice and tidy. Throughout the sorting process I'll cull a few yarns to destash and a few yarns to knit right away, but most of it goes back into my cedar chest or large space bags. This year, I was particularly taken with inventorying my sweater quantities of yarn and I set aside some Quince & Co Lark and Chickadee that I purchased last October.

I'm knitting Serif from Elizabeth Doherty's book, Top Down, in colors Honey and Storm. My gauge swatch was spot on for row gauge, which is super duper important for top down knitting, but off on stitch gauge. However, I really liked the fabric I got on US #8 (4.5 mm) needles and didn't want to sacrifice my perfect row gauge for a better stitch gauge. Turns out I just needed to knit one size up to get the correct width measurements while following the length measurements for the size I originally intended to knit - 42-ish for length and 45-ish for width. 

It just so happened that I was ill last weekend so I spent a lot of time laying in bed while knitting and watching movies so I got a ton of this sweater knit. A lot as in most of the body. As of last night I joined the contrast color for the skirt and am knitting merrily along in garter stitch. My goal for today is to get through the garter stitch portion of the body so I can get to the sleeves. I'm usually not too keen on Sleeve Island but I'm eager to try Elizabeth's method of top down sleeve construction again (I knit a sample for her book) and to get a real feel for the fit of the sweater. I'm almost always a bit "meh" about sweaters until they get at least one sleeve because it really changes the way they fit the body; drawing the armhole closer to where they actually sit during wearing and allowing any stockinette to unroll and lay properly.

I've also looked through my wardrobe to see if this sweater fits criteria for filling a hole in my wardrobe and it certainly does! I have two dresses that should look fantastic with this cardigan not to mention a pair of slim cut navy pants that will look super cute with this sweater and a patterned top. Not too shabby for meeting my handmade wardrobe goal for this year!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

2016 Goals

Here we are, almost an entire week into the new year, and I haven't posted about goals or projects or anything. A good guess is that punctuality isn't on my resolution list - I'm usually right on time to everything, all the time, even when the everything sucks (like a doctor visit or paying bills). But I've been thinking. A lot. What do I really want to achieve this year?

1. Continue knitting local. 

I really like where this took my stash last year. Purchases were fewer, but of better quality, and my stash is about 90% OH PRETTY right now.

2. Have a half-handmade wardrobe.

A bit of a doozy, yeah? I'd say my wardrobe is about 30% handmade right now and I'd like to up that percentage this year. I'll need to work on tailoring pants to suit me and get more comfortable sewing with knit fabrics but I think this goal is achievable given the amount of sewing I did last year. 

3. Self-publish more patterns. 

I have three or four patterns just about ready to go to a tech editor. The process is kind of long between what's in my head, the knitting, and the publishing on Ravelry and I tend to lose momentum somewhere in the last step. It's also pretty scary to put designs up for public scrutiny. Not that I'm a delicate flower but I would like people to like what I design if I'm mostly designing what I like, you know? 

So that's it. Three goals that are craft and hobby related. I have a few other goals for myself - reduce caffeine intake (down to one cup a day as of right now!), bring my lunch to work instead of buying it, and save money. I'm trying to introduce things slowly and build good habits instead of going full tilt all at once. How about you? Any goals for the new year?

Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Wrap-Up

This year flew by. I made some really big changes in my life that have made some things seem much easier and other things seem much more difficult. First off, I'd like to address my goals from the beginning of the year:

1. Knit Local.

Mission accomplished! I did not purchase much yarn this year until October and November and then I went on a mini-spree and picked up items for my birthday and from Knit Fit! Most of my purchasing dollars went to local dyers, some of whom use local wool for their yarn, or to companies like Quince & Co, who use North American wool and have it milled in the U.S.

2. Knit more colorwork garments.

This is a bit womp womp. I knit two garments with colorwork accents and three accessories. 

This is my Prussian Glitter Cardigan. I've still got plans to grade this puppy and publish the pattern and that's on the list for 2016. 

The other garment is this Welcome to the Flock sweater. Knit in a baby size with some stash sock yarn, it was featured on the front page of Ravelry and got a ridiculous amount of love. Thanks!

The other accessories are hats and one isn't totally finished as it needs a good steam block and a pom pom.

3. Participate in Me Made May. 

Done! I petered out a bit some time in the middle of the month (taking selfies every day is difficult when you get up at 5am) but I did participate. Go me!

And Me Made May really brought me back into sewing and concentrating on creating a handmade wardrobe. There are a lot of social justice issues surrounding the clothing industry and I don't want to contribute to an industry that's concerned with making a $5 t-shirt (it's bad for most of the people involved in the supply chain, yo). 

Ravelry tells me that I only knit about 10k yards this year, which is inaccurate, because some of my yardage for samples and SECRETS haven't been added; I'd say it's more in the 20k arena. Overall, I knit less this year than in past years but I'm much happier with many of my FOs this year than I have been in the past. Go figure. As per usual, I have a huuuuge list of things I want to knit and some things I have to knit. For now, I'll be concentrating on that handmade wardrobe and coordinating new pieces that work together. Now, what should I cast on for New Year's Eve?

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Gift Knitting

I won't say how many days there are before Christmas but I will say that my needles are clicking away at rapid speed. Luckily, projects are jumping on and off my needles at a satisfactory rate and all of the finer gauge projects are complete.

 Meditate by Elizabeth Doherty came off the needles in just under two weeks. It makes for excellent social, commute, and tv knitting. I knit the narrow and long version using an entire skein of Shalimar Yarns Paulie in the Land Katie Scarlett color.

Mr. B's annual Christmas socks took a couple of months to complete ( I started them late October) but I only knit them on the bus and at my Friday night knitting group. The yarn is Hazel Knits Artisan Sock in a Rogue color that I picked up during my birthday yarn-buying spree. I made this pattern up but it's basically a 72 st vanilla sock with a little band of seed stitch just under the cuff.

Aaaand then there are five hats in different states of completion as of yesterday morning. Two are very close to being done - a thermal check pattern that I made up in some Cascade 220 Superwash and Father Cables in YOTH father (which I decided to keep!).

I added a new person to my gift knitting list this year, mom to a friend of Little A's, and decided that my favorite hat pattern and some luxury yarn was the way to go. If she doesn't like this gorgeous combination there is absolutely no hope for her as a knitwear recipient and I can quietly remove her from THE LIST. This will be the third time I've knit this pattern and Shalimar Yarns Paulie will be an excellent combination with the texture on the Bristol Hat. I have two more hats that are complete and these five to complete and my gift knitting will be completely done.

I hope.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Knit Fit! 2015

A few weeks have passed since Knit Fit and I finally feel recovered from all of the socializing that attends volunteering and chatting with fellow knitters, vendors, and teachers. This year I spent quite a bit of time in the market compared to other years and purchased items that I had been thinking about over the course of the year. Honestly, the market gets better and better each year and I went a little bonkers this year.

My big purchase this year was one of Dave Yocom's hand-turned wood yarn bowls. Talk about a marriage of beauty and function; all of Dave's yarn bowls are natural wood and showcase the grain of the wood with no added dyes or stains. I chose a medium bowl in sapele mahogany with spalted maple inlays. Also pictured, a skein of Spincycle Dyed in the Wool in Devilish Grin. I have cast on plans for this skein - a Fandangle hat by Andi Satterlund - which I would like to finish by Christmas. 

A new vendor this year was Cedar House Yarns. This is a skein of Sapling Sock in Bark. Jenn and her husband are super nice and they've got a lovely color palette in their yarn line. The yardage is also really great in the sock yarn; 463 yards of superwash merino and nylon. 

Oh, Bumblebirch. Sarah was at Knit Fit last year but I was on a super duper tight budget at the time so I could only daydream about her yarns. This year I knew I wanted to purchase from her and I had such a difficult time choosing since I wanted ALL of her colors. In the end I picked up two different weights to try out. At bottom is heartwood, a fingering weight yarn (463 yds!), in the color Wednesday. At top is forage, a 4-ply worsted weight, in the color Honey. Wednesday is calling my name and is on the docket to be cast on post holiday knitting. 

Tweed yarn never looked so good. Intrepid Otter was missing from the market last year due to an unexpected illness but I was glad to see her back this year with this shiny new tweed sock yarn. I picked this bright, slightly scummy green to knit myself a pair of socks. Chubby Cloud was also back at the market with her awesome print bags. This year, I chose a zipper pouch in a great orange and yellow stockinette print with an olive green geometric floral print on the inside. 

Finally, (told you I went bonkers this year) I spent a good deal of time at the YOTH booth because WOW. Danny and Veronika have gorgeous yarns and introduced new colors to their palette, as well as a new yarn base. 

At bottom is the new 100% American sourced and milled worsted weight yarn, Father, in the Caviar color. This stuff is light and lofty and will make a fantastic hat. The upper two colors are both Big Sister, a dk weight yarn in sw merino, cashmere, and nylon, in rosemary (blue-gray) and mango (yellow). Mango comes from the new Juicy Palette, featuring various shades of yellow, orange, and green.  I also purchased a couple of gifts but I can't share those, sorry!

I love that the Knit Fit! market features so many local independent dyers and businesses. Putting my money back into the local economy makes me feel good about my purchases and that I'm supporting people who love the knitting industry as much as I do. I'll see you at Knit Fit 2016!