Queue Check — August 2018

Queue Check — August 2018

Y’all, I have been doin’ some KNITTIN’. The past two weeks, I’ve had quite a few nights in a row where I actually got some knitting time before bed, during which I sailed through the sleeves on this aran-gansey mashup of mine and then returned the body stitches to the needles. I knitted on it both Friday and Saturday night, and then had all of Sunday afternoon off. So I curled up on my couch with a candle lit next to me, this sweater in my lap, and The Guernsey movie (whose title I can’t bear) playing for the second time, pretending that the slightly gloomy day outside was actually chilly rather than swampy. And I knitted and knitted and knitted. About 8:45, I found out Pose was expiring from On Demand that very night and I had four episodes to go! So I stayed up past my bedtime, binge watching and knitting — around and around and around. And as it turns out, I will almost certainly be done with the knitting before Summer of Basics comes to a close, although whether it will be blocked and seamed by then remains to be seen. Regardless, the next time you see this one, it will be on me. And there will be a grin on my face.

(Speaking of Summer of Basics, you’ve seen how to enter for the Grand Prize(s), right? Don’t miss that!)

The next thing I cast on will be my  project for the upcoming Marlisle Knitalong, and since it will be small — and in theory the “swatch” for a next sweater — I’m not rushing to get another sweater on the needles right now. Instead, I’m going to concentrate on the assorted tidbits of to-do’s that came up during my great sweater inventory of twenty eighteen.

And then, with all of those inventory learnings and assessments in mind, I’m going to take stock of the sweater quantities that live in my stash and make some hopefully wise decisions about how best to make use of them. Which means there’s a very forward-thinking Queue Check a’brewing …

(Lykke needles, stitch markers and leather stitch marker pouch from Fringe Supply Co.)

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Speaking of the Marlisle Knitalong: It kicks off this Friday! Are you ready? There are some people already popping up on #fringemarlislekal, and you can get the full scoop on the kal here. Anna is also teaching at several locations in Europe and the US over the next month or so — I’m SO bummed I can’t get to Fancy Tiger to take her classes there! — so check this list to see if you might have a chance to learn from her.

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PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: July 2018

Queue Check — July 2018

Queue Check — July 2018

Last week I took the yoke of my Summer of Basics sweater off the needles and put it through the wash before I went any further, since I was still a little bit on the fence about it and wanted to see if the washed fabric would win me over. One of the many joys of this yarn, O-Wool Balance — and why I knit with it so often — is that it’s not superwash (it’s an organic wool-cotton blend) but is machine washable, and I like the fabric better when it’s machine-washed and slightly machine-dried than I do when it’s just soaked and air-dried. It fluffs and softens and melds really beautifully. I definitely liked the yoke better post-wash, but it took adding the folded neckband to really get me excited about having and wearing this sweater. I’m not totally in love with my raglan placement, but I’m hoping it won’t bother me any by the time I separate the body and sleeves. So, y’know, onward! But as slow as this is going, I’m starting to question whether I’ll be done with it by end of August.

[UPDATE: I put a video tutorial for this neckband technique in the @fringesupplyco profile at Instagram.]

Meanwhile, I finally started the cutting for my other two SoB projects. To recap: Those are supposed to be some sort of eyelet-y version of the Tessuti Alice top plus a set of Carolyn Pajamas. That’s technically four things, if I make both the top and bottoms of the pj’s, and my thinking has been that I’d concentrate on the top, and if I got to the bottoms they’d be a bonus. At this point, I’m starting with the bottoms, since a little pair of pj shorts like that for when I’m at home is one of my biggest wants right now — and I’m counting them! They’re all cut and ready for the sewing part, which I should be able to finish before July is out, which leaves all of August to see what else I can finish.

Even if you’re not actively participating in SoB, I encourage you to follow along with the #summerofbasics feed. So much great stuff happening. And if you are participating, make sure to post a progress update! I’ll be choosing July winners in just over a week.

Related: How to improvise a top-down sweater and How I do folded neckbands

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PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: June 2018

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Queue Check — June 2018

Queue Check — June 2018

I’m back from Portugal with SO much to tell you — and about 2700 photos to sort through. But this morning I can at least tell you about the state of my knitting from the trip! For the first few days, I was still finishing up a secret project, but then I finally got to do the math and get started on my Summer of Basics sweater. This project was cast on in the back of a van on a particularly twisty drive in the Porto region (one epic excursion among many) but caught a foothold on our one and only sit-still day, mid-trip, at a super chic mountaintop hotel called Casa das Penhas Douradas. While four of us went for a long hike that day, the other five made ourselves at home in one of the common rooms, which had half walls of sliding glass so the whole room opened up to the mountain breeze, and I know I’ll remember that day and that room every time I ever wear this.

That is, if it works out — I’m not yet 100% sure about it. To recap: I’m making an aran-gansey mashup, heavily inspired by the traditional Staithes gansey from the whole Daniel Day-Lewis hullabaloo, and its “seeds and bars” patterning. But figuring out the best version of that for an ivory, worsted-gauge, raglan situation isn’t as simple as it might seem. I’ve swatched it a few different ways — different “seeds” and different “bars” — and this yoke is sort of a bigger swatch, which may or may not be the winner. I won’t know for sure until I knit a couple more inches (at least to the next bar), add a neckband, and see how it looks after a wash. But it’s pretty promising, and it’s been perfect company while traveling.

Rosa mentioned while we were knitting that day that Portugal also has a gansey tradition, so you know I’ll be digging into that. And now that my whirlwind June is drawing to a close, I’m eager to start on my other two SoB garments.

Improv sweater in O-Wool Balance yarn in Natural
Jen Hewett x Fringe Field Bag from Fringe Supply Co. (available tomorrow morning!)

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PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: My Summer of Basics plan

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My Summer of Basics plan!

Queue Check = My Summer of Basics plan!

I don’t know how it’s June already but I’m pretty excited about it because today’s the day — the start of Summer of Basics 2018! “Summer of Basics” being shorthand for “3 months for making 3 garments our closets are in need of, in the company of like-minded individuals, and maybe stretching our skillsets along the way!” For the full rundown on what Summer of Basics is all about (along with suggestions!), see the preview post, but that’s really the gist of it. What three things would make it easier and more delightful for you to get dressed in the morning? Identify them, make them, and share your progress on Instagram using hashtag #summerofbasics. (If you have a private account and want to participate — or be eligible for prizes — you might want to make a separate, public account for this purpose. Posts do have to be public to appear in hashtag feeds.)

I’m putting off any talk of prizes for the moment because the very idea of prizes — while they’re obviously fun and motivating — can make people a little nutty sometimes, and I don’t want prizes or categories to influence your planning in any way. Just figure out what you want to make (challenge yourself!), and those finished garments are the real prize! Anything else that might happen is icing on the cake. For now, let’s concentrate on the cake!

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So what am I making this year? I have gone around and around — and of course I reserve the right to alter this plan along the way — but I have tentatively decided on the following three gap-fillers:

1. Cool weather pullover: Improv
This is the most problematic hole in my closet. I’ve done a magnificent job of making myself deep winter sweaters, but we don’t have a lot of deep winter in Nashville. What we have a lot of is cool weather — cool enough that you might crave a sweater, and can get away with it, but not if it’s pure wool. And I have exactly one such sweater: a cotton fisherman holdover from my store-bought clothes life. So I’m making a lighter, more abbreviated, not 100% wool pullover! Haven’t quite decided on yarn yet, but my plan is to make the love child of an aran sweater and a gansey: the “seeds and bars” motif transferred onto a raglan yoke. (With apologies to the historical purists out there!)

2. Frilly white sleeveless top: Alice Top by Tessuti
As previously discussed, I need to replace last year’s white linen shell, and one of my all-time favorite warm weather garments is any kind of slightly frilly white top, especially sleeveless. So I’m taking this opportunity to finally try Tessuti’s Alice top pattern, which has been on my list for a few years now, and the idea is to add some frill in one way or another. This will largely depend on what kind of eyelet (or who knows) fabric I might come up with, so the exact details are TBD. But I’ll almost certainly make a more straightforward Alice in the meantime, with something(s) from my stash.

3. Pajamas!: Carolyn Pajamas by Closet Case
I think a pair of pajamas is a total closet basic, and yet I have never owned proper pj’s like this in all my life. I’ve had lots of pajama pants — my very favorite thing (especially if they’re flannel) — but never a matched set, or this kind of top, so it feels to me like a luxury item! I also love the quite long-lasting trend of a fancy pajama top as street wear, so in considering fabrics for this, I may decide on something that would also work outside the house. I’m excited about the piping — have only ever done that on upholstery — and may even challenge myself to sew with a slippery fabric! Really not sure yet. I have a heap of navy linen in my stash, and the idea of linen pj’s sounds kind of dreamy. So I don’t know — fabric TBD! And will I make pants or shorts for the bottoms? Also to be determined, depending largely on which way I go with fabric.

(Fashionary sketch templates from Fringe Supply Co. And oh, hey, there’s some fabulous paper goods news over there today!)

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I just realized I didn’t manage to do a Queue Check post for May, as I’ve been finishing up my spring make list and my other knitting projects are top secret, but this SoB plan is the state of my queue as we head into June.

(If you missed it last year, I made a fisherman sweater, my first button-up and my first pants!)

So now how about you? I can’t wait to see what you have planned! Remember to use hashtag #summerofbasics when sharing on Instagram.

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PREVIOUSLY in Summer of Basics: Get planning! (introduction and details)

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Queue Check — April 2018

Queue Check — April 2018

My little sweatshirt-style sweater vest is coming along, as you can see. Between the stockinette doldrums of it, and working too many late nights the past few weeks, it’s taking longer than it rightly should. But it’s currently drying on the blocking board (and surely sleeveless weather is just around the corner), so I need to make some decisions about the edge treatments! I think what I’m going to do is pick and knit 2×2 ribbed bands around the neck and armholes, then see how it hangs. Depending where it hits at the hip, I might pick up stitches and knit a waistband — ribbed? folded and hemmed stockinette? not sure yet! Or, if the length is good as is, I might just do some kind of attached I-cord edge to persuade it to lie flat. Either way, let’s hope I’m wearing it soon. (No pattern; yarn details here.)

The only other thing I have in progress at the moment is the latest in my series of Log Cabin Mitts. They’ve been waiting for their thumbs since around the time I cast on this sweater. When I do get a little knitting time, it feels wrong not to work on that, and so these have languished. Also, this particular pair is not as conducive to being picked up and advanced a little in the gaps here and there, as the blue is natural indigo. In other words, knitting them in the passenger seat on the way to somewhere would mean arriving with blue fingers. That sort of thing! But I’m quite eager to finish them off and further the next pair.

Next up are two accessory projects I can’t talk about, which leaves me pondering what the next garment will be. At the same time, I’m plotting my Summer of Basics plans and other considerations. So for the moment, I’ll just get those secret accessories underway …

Blocking mats and stitch markers at Fringe Supply Co.

PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: March 2018

Queue Check — March 2018

Queue Check — March 2018

So I never did a February Queue Check. Life was turmoil, and I was just plugging away on the four hats. With those now complete (1, 2, 3, 4), the blue Bellows shelved till next year, and my last sweater having been finished on New Year’s Eve, I’ve found myself with something resembling a clean slate. Or, the more clear-eyed version: a selection of abandoned projects. I promised myself I’d be more focused on knitting from stash this year, plus I really want to clear things away, which means my attention has turned to the contents of the four Porter Bins on my WIP shelf:

– One of them contains my rotating pile of leftovers and singles that I’m still (and likely forever) transforming into Log Cabin Mitts. So that’s fine.

– A second contains a few odds and ends that need putting away, along with a skein of yarn awaiting my attention — for a pattern I’ve promised and won’t be able to talk about.

– The oldest of them is the long-abandoned Sawkill Farm sleeves, which I have every intention of knitting a sweater body for — now more than ever, most likely a Trillium cardigan — but not right away.

– And the fourth is the carcass of the grey summer cardigan I gave up on last year and have yet to frog. This is the one I’m dealing with first.

The yarn is one of my favorites — O-Wool Balance — and I have a cardigan’s worth. So what to do? I love this organic 50/50 wool-cotton blend, and love it best in stockinette. Every time Bob wears his green sweater, I just want to hug it. I mean, him. But this shade, Talc, is unlike the others — it has no heatheriness, no real variation in tone. It’s just a flat medium-light grey that leaves me cold. I thought it might benefit from some allover texture — from lights and darks being cast across the surface — and swatched for that cute little Massaman top, but the combination of this color and that waffle stitch was just plain homely. (This is why we swatch, friends!) The yarn wants to be stockinette but the color needs … something. So thinking further about it and my stash, I swatched it held double (on US8s) with some ivory Pebble left over from my striped raglan, washed it, and this I love. To the point of carrying it around with me, abusing it, petting it, whispering sweet nothings in its ear, not wanting to be away from it.

I’m stuck on the idea of a little sleeveless sweater that can be worn under a jacket or vest on cooler days and on its own on warmer ones, so I sketched three or four ideas and cast on for one of them (just stockinette with reverse-St side panels) before realizing what I really want is a sweater version of a top I used to own and wore to tatters. It was sweatshirt fleece sewn into a sleeveless top with crewneck and armbands and a wide waistband. Even that trademark V patch at the neck. So that may be what I’m making, or by the time I get to the upper region, it may become a sweatshirt. I do have enough yarn for that, after all, and with the cotton content and looser gauge, this would fit the bill of what I was talking about yesterday. So I’m torn, but planning to listen to it as it grows up and see what it wants to be.

Either way, it will factor neatly into my spring wardrobe planning, coming up next week!

OK, this is funny. In adding the links throughout this post, I found myself on last March’s Queue Check, subtitled “A whole new queue.” I’m writing above about the fate of that first item, and finished the second one earlier this year. (I’m wearing it as I type.) For the rest of the items listed in that post, there has either been progress (e.g. a grey Junegrass pullover, just a different pattern; a different chunky shawl-collar in progress, etc.) or the plans remain exactly the same. That makes me feel so good. ;)

Porter Bin and Fashionary sketch template from Fringe Supply Co.

Queue Check — March 2018

PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: January 2018

 

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Queue Check — January 2018

Queue Check — January 2018

It’s been my goal for my blue Bellows that I would knit it start to finish (other than the partial sleeve-swatch) within the month of January. For two reasons: 1) I’d like to wear it. I have a bad habit of finishing sweaters just as it becomes too warm for them, and have to immediately put them away for next year. And 2) my sister and her family are going on a ski trip in March, and at Christmas I offered to knit them each a hat. In order to have any hope of having all four hats done on time, I’ve set myself a firm start date of Feb 1. Meanwhile, the cardigan is in jeopardy.

I was on track to have the back piece finished and bound off on Friday night, soaked and onto the blocking board before I went to bed, so it’d be dry and ready for next steps by Sunday morning. The collar on Bellows is a project unto itself, so it was imperative that I take advantage of a little window of opportunity Sunday morning to (at minimum) get the shoulders seamed and the collar stitches picked up, so I could knit that over the ensuing couple of evenings and be done on schedule. ALAS, at the last minute, I realized I should have been listening to the voice in my head that had been saying all night “this seems like a lot of fabric.” I am often smart enough to check stuff before bind-offs, and so just for good measure I spread the back out next to me on the couch and popped the unblocked front piece on top of it. And yup, I had gotten carried away the night before. I’d been dutifully pinning a marker on every 10th row, knowing the fronts were 60 rows from ribbing to underarm and thus that my sixth marker would mean I was ready to begin shaping. (Ref: Count, don’t measure.) And yet I’d knitted 70 rows. Did you know that marking your rows for easy tracking only works if you actually count your marks?

So I lost half of my Saturday to removing the bottom ribbing and first ten rows, and getting it back onto the needles before re-knitting the ribbing downwards. I thought this would be faster than ripping back 44 rows at the top and reknitting them on Saturday night, but that would have been the wiser move. Rookie mistake: I didn’t realize knit-purl rows aren’t so easy to rip upwards. In the end, fixing it this way took just as long and cost me a bunch of aggravation and a fair chunk of yarn. During which I also realized I might not have enough yarn for the collar anyway! So it’s not currently where I wanted it to be, and is now vulnerable to being shunted aside while I turn to the four-hats project.

Meanwhile, one of the hats is actually started — ostensibly the quickest one. It’s Lancet in charcoal-colored Quarry, and I say “ostensibly” because it’s a sort of annoying chart — wide and fussy and not predictable or memorizable — which could slow me down. But still, chunky gauge.

I’ll tell you about the whole set of four hats when I haven’t already gone on for three paragraphs about my 10 extra Bellows rows! And the other thing that has magically appeared during my time on my mini-stepper this month is most of another pair of my log cabin mitts, this time in cherished Hole & Sons leftovers from my vintage waistcoat a few years back. Mitts pattern imminent …

Unless any of the four hats prove conducive to mini-stepper knitting, the log cabin-while-exercising will continue into Feb.

Bellows pattern by Michele Wang in limited-edition yarn from Harrisville Designsall Bellows posts
• Lancet by Jared Flood in Quarry color Slate
• Log cabin mitts in Hole & Sons (no longer available, but see its cousin, Isle Yarns)
Lykke Driftwood needles from Fringe Supply Co.

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PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: December 2017