Monday Musing: Opportunities and Change

While I was down with a cold a couple of weeks ago, I was pretty much glued to one particular spot on my couch and feeling pretty sorry for myself. To perk myself up, I decided to swatch for the Heliopath Vest. You may remember that I picked up some ace yarn for it during the recent yarn crawl.

Swatch for Heliopath VestAnd I have gauge! On the suggested needles! On the first try! We will see if this luck continues when I decide to cast on the real garment.

Swatches hold such possibility, don’t you think? A whisper of something new and exciting – something just starting, but not quite realized. Something you work on to see how the yarn and pattern are working together, how you feel about the pattern in practice, how the final item will fit you. It’s the exciting start to something bigger.

I am also at an exciting start of something bigger personally. Today, I am starting work full-time for the first time since Baby Knitsnips was born. I have been lucky enough to be a stay-at-home mom since she was born, and I have had an amazing time with my little one. But it seemed all the stars aligned to bring a wonderful job opportunity my way, and it seems like the perfect fit and the right timing for me and my little family. It will be a huge adjustment, but I think we are up for it. So here I am, off on my new adventure, excited and a little nervous and ready to jump in –  like I am when I am at the outset of a big knitting project.

I hope you will all be patient with me and the blog as I make this transition. I expect there will still be plenty of knitting going on around here, but things will certainly be in flux while I try to strike a new life balance.

FO: Hermione’s Godric’s Hollow Hat

This hat. Oh my. This was perhaps the irritating/frustrating hat project ever.

When I saw this hat in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I, I adored it. I wanted one. I don’t know how the costume people did it, but every Harry Potter movie has made me covet at least one knitted item. And this was it for 7.1.

Hermione's hat from the movie

I scoured Ravelry for someone who had figured it out. There are a few patterns, but I wasn’t convinced that any of them were really right. The one that seemed the most right out of all the wrongs was this one. I started it.

I hated the suggested Alternate Cable Cast-On. I’m pretty sure I screwed it up in several places, because the knit/purl match-up wasn’t really right once I started knitting.

Then I hated the Daisy Stitch. I had chosen a really luxurious yarn, Scrumptious DK/Worsted, that is 55% merino and 45% silk. It was the right color and had a bit of a soft halo like Hermione’s appears to have. But what felt like butter in the skein turned into a very split-tastic knitting experience. I was knitting on nice metal needles, but they were really not pointy enough for the numerous k3tog and such. If I had the right cable length, I think the stiletto Signature needles may have helped a little, but I wasn’t going to purchase some just for this hat. My hands had horrible cramps after working just one or two rows from the effort of forcing so many k3tog. I had little yarn pieces sticking out from where the yarn had split and I hadn’t quite caught it all in the stitch.

I got so angry with it all, that I put the hat away for several months (I started in August!). I flirted with the idea of making my own pattern based on a stitch pattern I had used before. I even cast on a swatch to see how it would go, but got frightened of having to figure out an elegant way to decrease it all at the top and scrapped that too. (I’ve never designed any knitting patterns before!)

I pulled the 2″ or so of hat I had done out of the bottom of my knitting bag in the new year with the intention of ripping it back and maybe starting a different version of the Hermione hat. I thought I should try a sample row or two to see if I hated it as much as I remembered. And even though the daisy stitch was still difficult with the needle/yarn/pattern combo, I could do it without the cramps. I decided to soldier on. So, very slowly, I put on a row or two at a time.

I paused again before the decreases, wondering if I should make it longer than the suggested 6″ before decreasing. I went to 6.5″ and then started decreasing. I finally finished it in early March.

I put it on, and it is tight. Not too tight to wear, but there is certainly no give to it. And it doesn’t fit like Hermione’s. I’m a little disappointed in it, I must confess. The yarn is lush and nice to wear. The hat looks fine on. My husband says it’s a nice hat and looks good on me and that there is nothing wrong with it. But my inner voice says, “This is not really the Hermione hat.”

Hermione's Godric's Hollow Hat

I am glad I did 6.5″ before decreasing, or it would not fit on my head. And while I did block it, I blocked it flat – not over a plate as the pattern suggested, saying it would make it more Hermione-esque. I don’t think it would have helped much.

I will wear this hat, and maybe even like it if I can put aside the memories of knitting it. But I will continue my search for the perfect Hermione hat. So if you happen to be a gifted hat designer, please create a pattern and let me know!

FO: Cabled Canuck

A couple of weeks ago, I cast off my Cabled Canuck, which I’m actually calling my Vineyard Cables Hat (because it was worked on mostly during our trip to wine country). I love it!

Cabled Canuck/Vineyard Cables Hat

I used Three Irish Girls Springvale Worsted in the colorway Here’s Looking at You, Kid. It was a yarn club color from a couple of years ago.  I think it will be a really versatile color. And I won’t lie, I wanted mine to be as close as possible to the beautiful one that Tanis made in the pattern photos, and this was the best match I had in the stash!

I also enjoyed the pattern. It was fun and interesting to knit. And as always, I love cables for their look of complexity, even though they’re really not that hard. The cables on this hat really add texture and interest and it’s so beautiful that it turns into a flower at the top (I didn’t get pictures of that on mine, but I promise it does! Check out the project page to see). I didn’t make any mods at all – I was strictly a rule follower. 🙂

I have mixed feelings about the timing of finishing this hat. On one hand, I’m a little sad it’s getting too warm to wear it right now, and on the other hand I am so desperate for spring I do not care. Roll on warm weather and walks and outdoor time!

Monday Musing: Casting Off

I decided this week that there are too many languishing Works in Progress in my knitting bag for me to cast on something new. And since spring is finally starting to feel like it’s on its way, I’m itching to start some new stuff!

This past week, I finally cast off my Hermione’s Godric’s Hallow Hat that I started in August! And yes, that is an obscenely long time to work on a hat. I just hated the whole project at the beginning and it got pushed to the bottom of the bag for several months.

I plan on renewing my work on my Autumn Everyday Socks for the Gryffindor Common Room this week. I had an attack of confidence on these a few weeks ago. I was afraid the pattern (Hermione’s Everyday Socks) paired with my very busy yarn made it look more like I couldn’t knit very well, instead of the lovely purposeful subtle texture that it seemed to give every other person’s project on Ravelry. I love the yarn; it’s a souvenir skein I bought in North Carolina a couple of years ago. I really want to use it for the right project. And since it doesn’t have any wool in it, I briefly considered frogging these socks to make some kind of cowl. But I don’t need any more neckwear, and I always need some socks, so I plan on boldly continuing! Especially since I had already started using this yarn for a since-abandoned Nutkin.

I would also like to get to back to work on my Seaglass Holden that I started in October. I have made it through the stockinette part and I am ready for the lace border. Hopefully, I can drum up some concentration to work on it.

And my work on my Bigger on the Inside Shawl and my OWL Mitts will continue, but I consider these long-term projects.

This week will also contain some adjusting to the time change. Once upon a time, Indiana did not observe DST, and we never had to “spring forward” or “fall back.” In fact, it was that way for most of my life. Sure, we were in the midst of states that always did, and that was a little confusing when you traveled sometimes, but it was at least straightforward if you stayed home. We’re all feeling a bit off from the change, but hopefully we’ll be back on

What’s your plan for the week?

Of hats and socks and pancakes

Before I moved to England, I did not know that there was such a thing as Pancake Day. And I certainly did not know it meant crepes and not the lovely fluffy pancakes my mom had made for me my entire life. So my first Mardi Gras (I know what that is, even though I’m not Catholic!) in England, my friend Sarah invited me over for a Pancake Day celebration and I was hooked. Any excuse for crepes, Nutella, strawberries and bananas works for me!

Since we’ve moved to America, I’ve seen IHOP getting in on the action, but it’s just not the right kind of pancake for me. Instead, Mr Snips whips us up something yummy at home. Every year, I Google a recipe, but this year, we hit on the best one yet – from All Recipes. I’m not sure what’s different about this particular recipe from what we’ve done before, but they were incredible! Below is a picture of one of mine. I favor doing half strawberries, half bananas, and a liberal slathering of Nutella. Yuuuuuuum! It was super delicious. 20140305-095758.jpg

In knitting news, the things I thought I would do last week, I actually ended up doing this Monday. I finished my Cabled Canuck in the evening. After it gets a bath and a blocking, I’ll be sharing the FO with you. I am so in love with it! Then, I immediately brought out the swift and winder to prep my Cherry Tree Hill Superwash Merino in the Life’s A Beach colorway to start the basic socks I mentioned. It’s a hard colorway to capture on camera, but I got the best of the worst pictures of it sitting on my laptop. There is a bit more green to it than you can see here. 20140305-095847.jpg

I was on a roll until I realized all of my long size 1 circulars are on other projects. Which means either putting a project on stitch holders or buying another set. There is no way I will wait till a project is done to start these – I am too impatient!

So until I decide how to get some size 1s free, I am furiously working away on my Bigger on the Inside shawl. I have done one repeat of the decreases, and am feeling ridiculously proud of myself! It may yet be done before the end of 2014!

Wishing you a good second half of the week! I am feeling time slip by way too quickly here, so I will be focusing on trying to slow down and enjoy the moment.

Roving Indiana Yarn Crawl

This week, I’ve been participating in (what I believe is) the first yarn crawl in Indiana. My mom, BK and I have been dutifully traipsing all over the state to visit yarn shops, despite BK’s recent serious vocal protestations to the car seat.

Roving Indiana had 8 shops participating, including my local LYS. We made it to 5 of them:

  • Scotland Yarn (Shelbyville)
  • Shabby Sheep and Ewe (Columbus)
  • Nomad Yarns (Plainfield)
  • Sheep Street Fibers (Martinsville)
  • Starstruck Cat Studio (Greenwood)

Out of 5, I had never been to 3 of them. I also visited another store in Columbus, Knitting Nook, which wasn’t on the crawl, but was on the way to the other Columbus store.

The name of the game was that you purchased a passport for $5 and then received 10% off at each participating store. You received a piece of a pattern at each location which added up to a whole pattern at the end. I wasn’t crazy about it though, so it wasn’t really motivation for me to finish up. If you made a purchase at a store, you were entered for their store prize. And if you went to all 8 stores, you were entered into a grand prize drawing. All of the prize baskets I saw were very nice.

I did really like that the crawl was motivation to travel to shops I normally wouldn’t have visited just because they were kind of far away. What I didn’t like was it didn’t feel like much of an “event.” Because the locations were so spread out, you were given two full weeks to complete the crawl. And I suspect because it lasted so long, there wasn’t really anything special going on in any of the stores. I think that some kind of extra would have been nice and made it feel more like an adventure – special snacks, a game to play at each location, a featured pattern or yarn at each location that could be exclusive for the crawl, or something along those lines.

I only made a purchase at one shop on the crawl, and it was from a store I had visited before – Nomad Yarns. In a fit of optimism, I decided that I could cast on and finish a Heliopath Vest sometime in this lifetime, and purchased Ella Rae Classic Heathers for it.

Heliopath plans

I also made one purchase at the shop not on the crawl, Knitting Nook. It was this beautiful skein of Bamboo Pop. I would have purchased a second one, but they only had one in stock. I haven’t decided what to do with it yet, but I’m tempted to make some socks. Has anyone had experience making socks with no wool in them? I’m a little nervous about the idea. I may wuss out and make a hat or a cowl or something. Very undecided. But I LOVE it.

bamboo_pop.jpg

The crawl did at least alert me to the types of yarn carried at the different stores, so that I will know where to go when I need something specific. I suspect that the crawl will improve each year and I certainly look forward to it!