Bad Dog!

I made a mistake.  I got up early Saturday morning, finished Adama, put it around my neck and went straight out of the house to drop my daughter off to take the SAT.

Miss Fig, my Boxer puppy, has never shown any interest in my knitting.  Not so much as a sniff.  But apparently the small ball of unused yarn that I left buried in the couch got her attention.  Was it the sheepy smell?  I'll never know.  Here she is in all her glory.


It went on and on like this.  For quite some time.  She was quite please with herself and completely unrecalcitrant.  At least it was leftovers in an amount too small to really be put to further use.  I'm hoping this isn't a harbinger of bad doggie activities to come.  I've gotten into the habit of knitting while I watch TV with my family a few nights a week and although I'm usually pretty careful about putting my knitting bag in it's zippered project bag and out of reach at the end of the night, this video is enough to strike terror into the heart of any knitter!  You would think she was part cat.

She's a cutie, though.  Check out that underbite!


Adama Cowl

Adama.  I absolutely adore this cowl pattern.  It's been on my "knit it now" list for quite a while.

image from images4-b.ravelrycache.com© Hilary Smith Callis

I cast on last week, after running into my Local Yarn Store (It's called In The Making. It's a good enough shop that if you're coming anywhere even close to Birmingham, Alabama, you should detour for a visit) to pick up a few things.  The pattern is well-written and has a clever design.  But, you're going to have to listen to me whine about it in this post.  Please keep in mind that the whines are all self-inflicted wounds.  The pattern is lovely and I expect to end up with a charming finished object, if I can just get my act together.


Adama is written for The Plucky Knitters' Scholar, a worsted weight cashmere and merino blend that relaxes after blocking into a smooth, light-weight fabric.  And I had some gorgeous Scholar set aside for this pattern.  But, when I visited my LYS, one of my favorite knitters there was wearing a gorgeous version of Adama, knit in Woolfolk's Får.  Får is a very different yarn from Scholar.  Scholar is a woolen spun yarn, which makes it light and fluffy — it's a web of cashmere with a little merino for balance.  Får is a chainette construction, it looks a bit like a 3D crochet chain, and no matter how hard you pull on it, you would be unable to break it, which is something you can do quite easily with a woolen spun yarn. Får is dense and furry.  It's wonderfully soft and has a pretty halo you don't normally see on a 100% merino yarn.  All of that to say, it's rather a denser knit than the lacey Adama calls for, at least in its in-progress, pre-blocking version.  It took awhile before I could discern the emerging pattern.

Two colors

This yarn is absolutely horrible to have to rip out.  But that shouldn't be a problem, right?  I am, after all, an experienced knitter and this is a simple pattern.  I'm blaming this one on the cough syrup I've been taking at night, but I have ripped rows out of this project, again, and again.  Probably more than everything I knit last year, combined.  This is an easy pattern, and something I would have expected to complete in three or four evenings of knitting. But, the version I saw alternated sections in two different colors and I was so taken with it, I decided to imitate that approach, which is not part of the pattern. On my first try, the row that that looked like the right place to break in the pattern was too late.  Rip.  Second time around, I forgot to switch colors when I got to the proper row.  Rip.  And amazingly, I've forgotten to switch every time I've gotten to a color change, even though I stuck a big purple annotation marker in all of the right places on the pattern.  Definitely the cough syrup.

It's not easy to rip out several rows of knitting in Får.  That is particularly true of the lace rows I've been ripping out.  Even worse, I've been knitting mostly late at night, when the light is poor for a project so dark — the darker of the two greens is very close to black.  So I've been struggling to see the PSSO's and SSKs and get them back on the needle properly, in poor light.  To compound my problem, my other size 7 needles are in use, so I'm using a not pointy, not for knitting lace, pair of Addis, that although a fabulous needle for normal knitting and doable for this project, are horrible for trying to pick apart and unknit stitches.  Like I said, all self-inflicted wounds.

The moral of the project should be, if you're going to use a yarn that isn't quite what the project intended, get yourself the right needles and some decent lighting.  But I'm going to slug this one out because I really want to finish this project.  I'm on the fifth color change out and guess what?  Missed it again.  I'm midway through the rip back — I gave up late last night and I'm going to pull it out in the light of day to make it easier.

Why am I doing this?  The cowl I saw in the shop was so beautiful.  It was warm and fuzzy.  The colors were elegant.  The shape was perfect for a cowl — close fitting for warmth but a striking accessory.  I'm usually a process knitter who enjoys the journey, but here, I'm pure project knitter.  I want the finished object!  So cross your fingers for me.  Hopefully, I won't rip out too much hair while I rip out my stitches and I'll remember the rest of the color changes.  And if you're on the edge about knitting Adama, do.  I'm sorry I waited this long and suspect this won't be the only time I knit it.


Knitting in 2015

Here is a recap of my knitting year in pictures. I was fortunate enough to get in a lot of knitting in 2015 — on planes, during meetings at the kids' schools, while watching movies, in car pool lines, and any other time I could grab a free moment.  Here are the projects I finished in 2015 in two collages, the first showing projects knit in my yarn obsession for this year — yarn from the Plucky Knitter — and the second showing projects in other yarns.

elliebelly plucky knitting projects for 2015That would be, from left to right, Row 1: Cold Snap, The Conversationalist Hat, Forest Park, and Paddle.  Row 2: Frostline, Heritage Trail, Marled Hat, and Olivia.  Row 3: Moto Vest (modified into a cowl), Sugar Loaf, Vodka Lemonade, and Tipperary. Row 4: Zissou, Nevermind, and Arlo.

15 not pluckyAgain from Left to Right, Peerie Flooers, Barn Raising Quilt, Bulky Mittens, Lace and Cables Capelet, Antarktis, Sweet and Simple Cushion, and Skelter. Lots of the Barn Raising Quilt squares, as well as Antarktis and Skelter, are knit in Elliebelly yarns.

What does 2016 have in store?  I've got three projects in the works, as well as a fourth that I'm swatching for.  I'd like to finish them, along with a few new projects I have in mind, in the next few months.

In the worksDrachenfels, in the top left corner has been my slow moving, conversational knitting project for as long as it has been in the works, but it may be time to finish it off so I can wear it to ward off January's chills.  The Glacier sweater, top right, keeps taking a backseat to other projects.  There is also a little debacle with sleeves that are huge and need to be ripped out and started over.  But I'm looking forward to finishing it off!  The bottom right corner is my Summer Moon, which went into a forced hibernation when an IOS upgrade blacked out all of my charts in Knit Companion.  They've been fixed now and I'm going to make this my airplane knitting in January, despite the risk involved in juggling all of those balls of yarn on a plane.  And on the left is my Shaelyn shawl, which needs a bit more swatching so I can make sure I've selected the right size of needles.  If I can tear myself away from Drachenfels, I'm going to try and swatch for it tonight.

And after these four?  Oh I would say I've got hundreds a few projects in mind for the new year.  Need some inspiration?  My Ravelry queue is here.


Random Things + Swatching A Cable Pattern

I'm a little bit frustrated with my swatching efforts, so before I get to that, two random things to start your morning.

1. I just discovered the NYT's Only Ice Cream Recipe You'll Ever Need, and it is a keeper!  Even better, they have a chart of the best way to do add ins. I wanted to make basil strawberry ice cream, and it would never have occurred to me to whiz up the sugar and the basil in the Cuisinart before adding it to my custard mixture.  Genius!


2. I just discovered that my Mom, in her late 70's, is now on Instagram.  How do things like that happen? Will I be this cool when I'm her age? (Probably not.  I'm not that cool now.)


3. Swatching.  It's a little bit perplexing to try and count all those mashed in stitches when you are swatching for a cabled pattern.  I do like how my swatch has improved with proper care, though!  Here it is as knit, all scrumbled up together. This is for one of the new sweaters in Rowan 58, Glacier.


Here it is after blocking, all relaxed and happy.


The best I've been able to figure is to put a gauge over the swatch, pin its edges, and then stretch the swatch apart to count stitches.  And, doing this makes me happy, because I am good.  Pattern gauge is 20.5 st = 4' and I'm getting 20 stitches to 4", so I think I can work with that. Row gauge is good as well. True confessions: A lot of the knitters I know are amazing and really good at this stuff.  I'm not, but I'm okay with that.  I'm a working Mom of four.  I give myself permission to do my best and enjoy the process of knitting even when I flame out. But, I adore this yarn (Snug Bulky from The Plucky Knitter) and I have high hopes for this project.  I WANT this sweater.


Although I want to knit some on the last square this weekend (and I did sneak in the cast on of a new project I'll show you when it's a little further along late last night), I'm also going to cast on Glacier and get to work on the first piece next week.  I can't wait!


Really. A Hat.

PeerieAnd just like that!  I have a fair isle hat. 

Peerie Flooers is one of this most enjoyable projects I've ever knit. I'm delighted with the finished hat, which is like a little piece of art.  It fits perfectly and it's beautiful!

I've spent the evening stashing up for stranded knitting.  Because there is no pointing fighting it when you catch a fever like this!  I'm planning a Northport Hat, but also eyeing all of the Rowan 58 Sweaters.



New Yarn: The Plucky Knitter’s Cachet

Cachet is The Plucky Knitter's brand new 100% cashmere yarn.  Although it's listed at an aran weight, it knits up in the worsted range for me, with 18 stitches/26 rows to four inches on size 6 needles.


It knits up like a dream: a soft cloud of stockinette.  And, the gauge is perfect for some of the patterns in my queue I'm longing to knit the most, including Carol Feller's Portulaca, Thea Coleman's new sweater, Rye, and Mailin and Monte Rosa, both by Isabel Kraemer .  Decisions, decisions.

I'm also going to swatch this yarn a couple of needle sizes down to see what the fabric looks like.  Originally, I planned to knit Alana Dakos Cabled Leaf Pullover in this yarn.  Since its gauge is 20 stitches/26 rows, it seems like that might be doable.

I know it's obvious, after years and years of being a polyamorous knitter who carried a torch for a lot of  different brands of yarn, when I discovered Plucky last year, I fell deeply in love with the wonderful custom spun, hand-dyed yarns they produce.  All of the yarns I've used so far, from Snug Bulky, to Bello Worsted, to Cashmere Sport, to Primo Aran, to Crew, to Scholar, have made me really happy.  Each new project makes me think I've found my favorite yarn of all time.  And truly, they are all my favorites.  I adore this yarn, and the new heavy weight Cachet cashmere is like knitting with a dream.  If you haven't discovered Plucky yet, it's worth the effort.  Although the yarn is sold in an unusual fashion, there is lots of advice for newbies here and a very nice group of helpful knitters on the Ravelry group.  You'll be glad you took the time to figure it out!




World Traveler.  <= That's me lately.

I'm sorry I haven't managed to blog but it got complicated and busy, while on the plus side, I did get a fair bit of knitting done while flying and driving.


Here's a quick tidbit — I'm working on the last color band in my Frostline Shawl.  I'm very excited about how the colors are playing together.  The yarn is Plucky Knitter Bello Worsted in (from the bottom up), Starlet, Cornucopia, Dandy Lion, Corduroy, Cassidy, and Baroque, and the accent color in between blocks is the February Classics colorway.  Once I finish up with Baroque, I'll be onto the edging.