Attempted Progress

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After a busy week of work-related writing, I was pretty excited today to settle in with my Stonecutters cardigan. Felane had her own agenda. Who am I to complain? She’s the boss.

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Daybreak

This is a project that digs into some deep stash – I think I bought these skeins of Zauberball in 2009? Not my oldest stash by any means, but still a little embarrassing. What’s kind of funny about this stash is that nearly 4 years ago, when I bought this yarn, I had every intention of knitting Stephen West’s Daybreak shawl (at the time a brand-new pattern, I believe) with it. Usually if I let yarn sit idle long enough (and let’s face it, I almost always do), it changes its mind about what it wants to be. This is an exception.

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Somehow after all this time, I still had my heart set on striping these skeins together to make one of my favorite things: a neutral rainbow. If you want a simple but really beautiful shawl pattern, Daybreak is one I’d recommend any day. Slipped stitches add some extra impact to the stripes, but the pattern is still easy enough for beginners. (I knit the large size, in case anyone wonders how the sizes look in action.)

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I’ll be honest, I blocked this pretty lazily, as I generally do with shawls, unless they’re lace. But in my experience, garter stitch and stockinette shawls all tend to assume whatever shape I wear them in, anyway. Daybreak hangs really nicely regardless, which I think is also partially due to its semi-circle shape; this is a shape I really like for a shawl, because it wraps around better than a traditional triangle, in my opinion.

db3Someday I’ll probably knit this shawl again, using either two solid colors or one solid and one striping. I don’t wear as many striped things as I once did, but I’ve really come back around to them in small doses. Especially when you can get this many neutrals into one piece.

NWPA

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Spent last week with my family in northwestern Pennsylvania, one of my very favorite parts of the world. Lots of leisurely reading outside, cookouts, running my old high school cross country routes, a tiny bit of knitting, and enjoying the company of my four legged family members:

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We have some pretty good looking pups in our house. And the scenery outside isn’t so terrible either.

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And I got to stop in at the restaurant and brewery where my little brother is currently working post-college. He treated me to a sampler of their beers, and then, because I had to leave early to meet our mom, served my homemade ice cream (pistachio and peanut butter)  in to-go cups. That’s my kind of food service.

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Should you find yourself in the vicinity of Meadville, PA, stop in to Voodoo to check out some treats. It’s pretty cool to see a place like this in my hometown – I like to see a small town thrive.

For now, I’m back in my new small(ish) city until further notice. Hopefully with a quick NYC jaunt sometime in the coming weeks. Til then, it’s back to knitting and library books over here.

Baby’s First Trip to Block Island

My work recently took me to beautiful Block Island, a place I’ve been meaning to visit ever since I moved to Rhode Island five years ago. But somehow it’s really easy to skip visiting nearby locations in favor of more faraway destinations. So I was grateful to get a push out the door and onto the ferry.

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It was a pretty incredible day to go – densely foggy and extremely dramatic.

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It’s not every day I get to peek up inside a lighthouse. Very Gatsby, right? I can’t believe it took me so long to make it out there. Will definitely be returning after the summer season dies down for some scenic biking and more historical tourism.

(Also, designer friends, this would be a great location for a knitwear shoot. Just saying.)

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Earlier this month I did something I had never done before: went on vacation to New Jersey. That’s not to suggest that I have any problem with the Garden State as a destination; I just didn’t know a whole lot about it, having only ever passed through briefly. But after spending a weekend there with Hannah and Toms River native Liz, I think it’s safe to say I’m officially a fan.

Hey, here are some photos:

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The demolished boardwalk area was surreal, definitely unlike anything I’d seen before. But the remaining/rebuilt area was everything I hoped the Jersey Shore would be:

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This is only the tiniest peek at all the amazing things we saw. I ate as much frozen custard as I possibly could because that is one frozen treat that really seems to be scarce in Rhode Island. Fortunately on Monday I am heading to Meadville, Pennsylvania for a quick jaunt, and will be taking up residence at Hank’s as often as possible.

Oh, ps: travel bonus points for finding and posing with my very favorite thing in all the world: anthropomorphic food preparing to consume itself.

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Til next time, NJ. It was a real treat.

Embracing Imperfection

A lot of my recent knitting has been secret and not very blogable. But I did finish my Bridgewater shawl recently, after almost a full year of casually knitting on it.

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I love how spongey the Wollmeise Lace-Garn garter stitch feels, and even though I live in a consistent neutral palette, this bright red-orange color is really speaking to me on some weird level. I had actually considered making this a gift for my mother, who loves and looks very beautiful in bright colors, but then, somehow, I ran out of Wollmeise. 1740 yards to a skein and still, somehow this happened:

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I knit those last few inches of lace edging in burgundy Brown Sheep laceweight wool. We’ll call that an accent color. It doesn’t show when the shawl is folded up and worn, but I still wouldn’t want to give a gift with a funny patch of a different color. So maybe it’s time that I embrace the occasional colorful garment, imperfect as it may be.

Which is nice, because I still have three more of those hefty Lace-Garn skeins to work up, ideally into more smooshy garter stitch shawls, I think.

Catching Up on Old FOs.

Today, two sweaters, one blog post. I really do let these things slip by. That’s the way it is sometimes though, I suppose. One of these sweaters is just from this past October; not so bad. But the other is from October…2010. Oops. It’s one of my favorite sweaters though, so it seems worth taking the time to mention now that I’ve finally taken some photos of it.

Most recent sweater first: the Button-On Blanket (or B.O.B) by Jackie Pawlowski.

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A few years ago, when Cirilia moved to Seattle, she did a big destash, which I was very fortunate to get the chance to paw through. One of the many treasures I gleaned from this event was a sweater’s worth of Rowan Plaid, which is a pretty lovely discontinued bulky yarn, constructed more or less of three strands of different colored yarns plied together. I was in grad school during this destash, so I’ve really been sitting on most of the yarn for quite awhile. But I did always mean to knit a big cozy house sweater out of the Plaid. So when I got back from my internship in Austria after school was over, this was one of the first things I sat down with. And I’m glad I did – it’s kept me very cozy this winter.

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I knit this to be a little bit intentionally big and shapeless. I can fit a lot of loungewear under this one. I added buttonholes along the entire button band, but so far have only added two buttons. Someday when I find the right, extra large buttons, I’m sure I’ll update this and make it fully fastenable. Though I’ve been known to really take my time picking out buttons for sweaters.

Case in point: my Acer cardigan, by Amy Christoffers. I knit this back in 2010, during my first semester of grad school. You can tell that school is an excuse I like a lot, right? But in all fairness, my crazy days of waking up at 5 am to get to Boston, and returning to Providence late at night, often left little time for taking pictures of my knitting. If I wasn’t at school or work, I was really only interested in being in bed with my cat wearing pajamas (usually doing homework). Not only did it take me so long to photograph this sweater, I also wore it for almost a full year with only a pin to fasten it – it took me an entire year just to buy buttons. But somehow I did find time to knit this gem of a cardigan:

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I used Berroco Remix in the colorway Patina, and it is easily one of my favorite yarns. I’m actually about to knit another Amy Cristoffers pattern in Remix. And, ideally, I’ll take pictures of it before 2015.

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Here is the cool thing about waiting years to document a project: I can honestly tell you that after nearly three full years of wearing and washing, this cardigan looks and feels just as good as the first time I wore it. The pattern is so flattering and wearable, and the yarn is incredibly resilient. I have every intention of knitting another Acer for myself at some point. I really admire Amy Christoffers’ design aesthetic, and the attention to detail in her patterns. The fit of this cardigan is really perfect. I probably wear it more than anything else I’ve ever knit for myself, so it’s a good thing I knit it in a yarn that never seems to lose its shape.

Believe it or not, I have another sweater to take photos of and post now – this one I just finished this month. It did take me about a week to sew in the zipper, but given my track record, I don’t actually think that that’s too bad.

Plaits & Links Cardigan

I’ll skip the part where I talk about being a “bad blogger” and admit that I’ve knit multiple sweaters and other items in the time since I last posted (I have). Heck, I’ve nearly completed Proust’s Swann’s Way for my online In Search of Lost Time book club since then. The truth is, blogging about knitting often requires photographs. And it’s winter and it’s dark and when I’m not at work, I value time spent in sweatpants above almost all else. But I am trying to be better and participate in the world even in such small ways as taking photos of the things that I knit. And so here is one such thing:

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In a shocking turn of events, I knit a heavily cabled cardigan in a rustic yarn. I know, this is very hard to believe. But here you have it. Kathy Zimmerman’s Plaits and Links cardigan knit in Brooklyn Tweed Shelter, in Hayloft. I’ve had this yarn stashed for about a year, after buying it for another sweater that ended up not being very nice-looking on me. When I saw this pattern on the cover of Interweave Knits this winter, I knew that it was a much better match and kind of zipped through knitting this. (Along with one other sweater that I swear I’ll document very soon.)

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I think the only aspect of this sweater that I feel a little “eh” about is the width of the arms. I have exceptionally skinny upper arms in comparison to the rest of my body, and I usually knit my sleeves a little smaller than a pattern calls for, but I didn’t do that this time. I don’t think I regret that decision necessarily. I kind of like the boxy, old-fashioned shape of this cardigan. And the extra room in the arms makes this a nice cozy layering piece, which I think really suits it.

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Because I live in New England, the snow is still falling and I have plenty of time to wear this little treat before it gets too warm for wool. (Though admittedly in my life, only the hottest of months are “too warm for wool.” Just wear thinner wool, obviously.) I wish I lived such a life of luxury that I could afford to knit all of my cabled sweaters out of Shelter, in all of its amazing colors. I’m especially obsessed with Nest, Postcard, Woodsmoke, and Snowbound – not exactly the most colorful of colors. But I’m a sucker for a nice neutral.

Full disclosure: when a blizzard kept me from making it to a tattoo appointment in Philadelphia, I did spend the money I saved on that trip to buy some Loft for Amy Cristoffers’ Breckon, though I am not allowing myself to cast on until I finish other projects.

Anyway, look, a sweater! I knit it, I took a picture of it, I talked about it. I am participating in the world. I had planned on REALLY participating and going on a little trip this weekend, but my beloved cat was having some health problems, and was just diagnosed with asthma last night, so I’ll be spending the next few days hanging hard with her, watching a lot of movies and knitting in bed. I’m not necessarily complaining about that.

The Bottle Show – Builds ‘Em Healthy!

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If we’re friends elsewhere on the internet (or even in real life – for occasionally I do socialize!), you’ve already heard me talk about the antique bottle show I went to not long ago. You see, one of my jobs involves surveying the history and heritage sector of my entire (tiny) state. And in the course of that work, I spend a lot of time researching what those organizations are and developing relationships with them. I am, essentially, a professional local history tourist. I really like it. But I digress. While researching something totally unrelated to antique bottles, I stumbled upon a local bottle-collectors organization. And lo and behold, their annual show was that weekend, in nearby South Attleboro. I had no idea what to expect, but the tourist in me was hell bent on going. I turned immediately to fellow lover of old things, Liz, who described our outing as “becoming a parody of ourselves.” Perhaps, but I know this: I was not in the least disappointed in my first bottle show experience. Yeah, I said first.

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To be perfectly honest, personal collections are what really sparked my initial interest in becoming an archivist. I was never interested in “history” as a broad subject, but I love learning it through the scope of a specific person’s connection with objects of any kind, whether it’s a form of media, like a record collection, or something as seemingly static as a bottle collection. When I was home in Pennsylvania, I stayed at a friend’s house one night in Pittsburgh, and her dad showed me his oil can collection. I wish I’d had my camera then – his collection was as well maintained and artfully displayed as any I’ve seen in any professional exhibit. The bottle show was another really great way to glimpse into another kind of collector’s world, and I have to say it was really impressive. I also have to say that I would genuinely go to another bottle show, this time with more money in my pocket. (Don’t worry, I’ve already established a solid collection policy for myself to prevent unnecessary acquisitions.)

Wollmeise!

I can’t believe I never posted photos from my trip to the Wollmeise shop this summer. What an oversight – especially considering this is a sort of personal yarn mecca. I have often admired Wollmeise yarns online, but had never encountered them in person before. There are no yarn shops in my area of the states that carry it, and sometimes I am nervous about buying yarn online if I have never touched it, or at least seen the color in person. Not that you can’t just tell from photos that this is some extremely exceptional wool.

Fortunately, this summer I made a really wonderful new friend, and she took me to Pfaffenhofen for the Wollmeise summer sale. (!!!)

It was packed! Outside, people were admiring their purchases, looking at colors in the natural sunlight, and eating treats.

It was absolutely packed inside, but I did manage to sneak a few quick shots of some of the shelves when they were not flocked with humans. And immediately after taking my photos, I rushed to the shelves to paw at the colors myself.

I could have easily spent the entire week there, drinking coffee and examining the minute color differences from skein to skein. But of course, I did have a job back in Salzburg, and I had already taken one day off to go yarn shopping (fortunately my supervisor was also a knitter, and understood completely). So I had some difficult decisions to make. I ended up mostly buying lace, and because I am me, mainly solid colors. Still, let it be noted that I bought actual COLORS and only three gray skeins. And now please enjoy some glamour shots of my purchases:

For those of you who are not already versed in Wollmeise skeins (as I myself was not), let me explain. The grays pictured above are the 575-yard 100% wool sock-weight skeins. The lace skeins are the really amazing thing though – 1740 yards to a skein. That’s crazy! That is any laceweight project I want to make, all in one perfect bundle. I’ve started knitting Jared Flood’s Bridgewater shawl in the red-orange color. For scale, here is a picture of that skein wound into a ball (will definitely be using a winder for future skeins!) and as you can see, my hand is nearly eclipsed by it. And I do not feel weird telling you that I have sort of abnormally large hands to start with. On many occasions, upon seeing them, people have told me that if I do not already, I should really consider playing the piano.

I am actually kind of glad I waited so long to post these photos – it gives me an excuse to look back over them and remember this really fun day. I’ve been feeling awfully nostalgic for my time in Austria this summer, and it’s nice to get to relive fun parts of the trip whenever possible. And in the meantime, I’ll just hope I make it back there, and back to the Wollmeise shop, too, before long.