Sometimes I Have to Rip

For those of you who don’t knit, we call this “frogging,” because you have to rip it, rip it. We knitters are hilarious, wouldn’t you agree? When the situation is less extreme, and doesn’t require actually ripping back, then all we have to do is tink, which is “knit” spelled backwards. To tink back a little bit hurts the heart less than frogging, I can assure you. But there are times when the ripping is unavoidable.

After knitting merrily along on my handspun colorwork mittens, and getting roughly halfway done with the first one, I had to come to grips with a reality I had been trying my best to deny: my colorwork was puckering, an indicator that my tension was off, despite my best efforts.

I let the mitten sit for a couple of days, then I took a deep breath, and then I ripped:

handspun mitten cuff

handspun mitten cuff

It’s emotionally difficult to rip. Knitters, am I overstating things? Those stitches represent time and energy, so it feels like a loss to undo it all. That’s why it’s so hard to do sometimes, even when you can tell you have made a mistake in your knitting. This ability to rip back, though, is a benefit of knitting that we don’t always have in life: the clean slate, the chance to get things just right. I’ll take it! So now I’m ready to try again. As I pay renewed attention to my colorwork tension, I am happy to hear any tips you might have!

sneak peek :: Autumn Reis pullover

At last, on the cusp of winter, I have finished knitting my autumn sweater. As I mentioned, I kind of knit the yoke intuitively, using the pattern more as a suggestion than as actual instructions. Others who have knit this sweater mentioned that they didn’t care for the fit of the neck as written, so I knew I was going to modify that part. But I also ended up modifying the height of each strip band of color. Also, my gauge was somewhat different than the pattern gauge, so all my numbers for the stitches in this sweater were different than the pattern called for. I managed to not keep a single note about that, though, so by the time I got to the yoke, I didn’t really know what my numbers should be anymore. So that’s why I just let my intuition guide me. Actually, I suppose I could’ve gone back and counted up the stitches of the body and arms, to see what I had come up with when I cast on, way back in July, and then make some calculations to see what I needed to do. But I was in such a good zen-like flow with this sweater, that I preferred to just do what felt right.

Autumn Reis yoke

Autumn Reis yoke

The fit of this sweater currently is so perfect as it is that I’m a little worried about blocking it. The last time I blocked a perfectly fitting sweater, it never did fit quite right again.

Autumn Reis, pre-blocking

Autumn Reis, pre-blocking

Not blocking it isn’t an option though. As you can see, it needs the finishing that only blocking can provide. Do you think a spritz blocking would do? Meaning, if I spritz block, would that give it a good finish without risking making it bigger than intended?

Hunkering Down

My denial about the polar vortex is officially over.

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mid-November, really?

The little red exclamation point is letting me know that we might get 4 inches of snow tonight and the wind chill might drop below zero.

So basically, if you need me this winter, I’m going to be right here:

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Not a bad way to spend the winter, amiright?

Paleo Banana Bread and Other Late Night Shenanigans

Late night shenanigan #1: I did in fact finish knitting my Autumn Reis last night. And y’all, IT FITS. Like, perfectly. I’d been a little concerned that it might not, because I altered the yoke in a somewhat intuitive way. I had a hunch it was going well, but I couldn’t be totally sure until I was done. I was repaired to rip it back if need be, but I was so thrilled to discover that that won’t be necessary. I still have to weave in the ends, graft the underarms, and block it. I can’t wait to show it to you!

Late night shenanigan #2: I looked out the window just now and there is snow on the ground. While others have been complaining about the sudden cold, I’ve apparently been in a state of denial. I simply refused to believe that winter weather was already here. Alas, with tonight’s snow, which is actually sticking, I can no longer deny the truth.

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Late night shenanigan #3: I was cleaning up the kitchen tonight and noticed three bananas were past their prime. That was all the nudge I needed to do a little quick baking.

Paleo Banana Bread

Paleo Banana Bread

(Not a great photo, but trust me, it’s delicious). I love this paleo Banana Bread recipe from Against All Grain. I subbed maple syrup for the honey (I was out of honey) and added pecans and dark chocolate chips.

It’s cooling now – so excuse me while I go have a bit and get back to my knitting.

Friday Round-up: Works-in Progress

I will not deny that I have a little attention deficit issue going on right now. I have three compelling projects, and it’s difficult to decide which one to attend to most.

Option 1: finish the sweater

Reis Yoke

Reis Yoke

(I am very, very close to done)

Option 2: keep working on the shawl

Pi Shawl

Handspun Pi Shawl

(it has now reached the unidentifiable blob stage)

Option 3: finish this test-knit, which I cast on last night:

handspun colorwork mitten

handspun colorwork mitten

(can I just say how much I absolutely adore this pattern? It is everything I expect from Kirsten, who always creates beautiful designs written with clear, straightforward directions.)

Option 4: keep bouncing between all three projects, while my brain, head, and heart all hum with happiness.

(I’m sure you can guess which option I’m choosing.)

Sometimes I Swatch

I am so delighted to have the chance to test knit Kirsten’s newest mitten design, to be released next month. I fell in love with it as soon as I saw her picture of it on Instagram, and I immediately went stash diving to see if I might have the necessary yarns. I showed you yesterday what I came up with: a combination of Stonehedge Fiber Mills Shepherd’s Wool (worsted) and my own handspun.

I’ve knit with Stonehedge a lot. A lot. A LOT. A LOT, I TELL YOU. And I have found that it can handle a wide range of needle sizes – I’ve knit with it on size 2 needles as well as on size 8. So I often skip the swatching for a new project, because I have a pretty good idea of my gauge on various needle sizes. But this project involves colorwork, and my tension with colorwork is still evolving, so I want to make sure I get this right.

mitten swatch

mitten swatch

I sometimes forget that my tension with stranded knitting is a bit tighter than my tension with plain knitting, so I’m really glad I took  I experimented with needle size. Verdict: I’ll do the plain portion on size 2 needles and the colorwork on size 3. All systems are go, and I’m ready to cast on tonight!

The Day Ends as it Began

a lapful of happiness

There were other things I’d planned to show you and talk about today, but my technical difficulties persist. So instead, a shot of my nighttime routine. As you can see, it’s quite similar to my morning routine – just subtract reading (and quiet) and add TV (I’m currently obsessed with The Blacklist). It’s a happy, gentle way to end a busy day. (Well, okay, The Blacklist really is quite heart-pounding and not really a “gentle” way to end the day.) (But I love it!)

Mornings Are My Favorite

Even on Mondays.

all my favorite things at once

all my favorite things at once

I get up early so I can do all the things I love:

  • read (this morning I was old-schooling it with a printed magazine – my favorite, and the only one I get in print anymore The Week)
  • do a crossword puzzle on my NYT Crossword app (not shown here but represented by my crossword jammies #nerd)
  • drink coffee
  • hang out with the cats
  • knit (to state the perfectly obvious)

Not shown: spinning (very brief hiatus right now, while I knit All The Things and also figure out what goes on the wheel next), Spanish practice (on my Duolingo app), and prayer. Also not shown is what comes next: all the chaos of getting kids ready for school, getting myself ready for work, and tending to our menagerie. But I find if I can get even a few minutes of time at the beginning of the day to start with all the things that make me feel centered, grounded, and content, then the crush of everything that comes next is a little less daunting. My only regret is that, while I can read and knit at the same time, and read and drink coffee at the same time, I cannot drink coffee without putting my knitting down (and vice versa).

I hope your Monday morning includes some of the things that give you joy!