July 16, 2014

Sticking to ONE?

For some reason, I have the hardest time focusing on just one knitting project at a time. I've had to purchase many sets of knitting needles in the same sizes, because the ones I need are alway lurking around in another unfinished object (UFO).

Currently, I have quite a few UFO's in varying stages, which are riding around in my knitting basket, sitting on the corner of the couch, or are tucked into the ottoman where I store upcoming projects. Here are a few of them:
This is another "Laura Leaves Tank", which I am knitting from a Custom Fit recipe for the "Custom Fit Summer Sweater KAL".  I'm knitting it of "Fyberspates Scrumptious 4ply.  This is my all-time favorite yarn to knit with.  It is coming along nicely, with just the neck and arm bands left to knit.  I hope to have this finished before the KAL deadline on August 15.  This will be my F2F #5 for 2014.
This is "Eva" by Cheri Christian, which is my F2F #6 for 2014.  She is knit of Rowan Kidsilk Haze, in the color "Sweet".  She is just getting started, and you can see the front ruffle will have a tiny little row of sparkly beads. 
This project is just about finished. It is my "Lady Kina" sample, for my "Knit Night" KAL, coming up in the Fall.  I knit this sample for my darling, little grandaughter, so I should have pictures of her wearing it soon.  I hope it fits!   
It was coming along nicely, until someone stepped in my knitting basket and put this nice red dirt footprint on the inside of the back.  I'm hoping it will wash out, when soaking the finished sweater for blocking.  If not, I guess it won't be too upsetting, as it is on the inside of the garment.  This sweater is knit of KnitPicks - Gloss DK, in the color Sea Spray. 
I've finally decided on the yarn for my "Lady Kina" sweater.  I've ordered KnitPicks Comfy in the color "Doe", which is a soft brown.  Knitting two "Lady Kina" sweaters in simple stockinette stitch, is much too boring for me, so I've decided to incorporate the lace pattern from the "Growing Leaves Cowl" by Meghan Macko, into the body of my sweater.  Hopefully, this will all work out. 
In addition, I just received the yarn to knit a "Stella Pullover", by Kristen Hipsky.  It will be knit of Valley Yarns - Alpaca Silk, in the color Black.  This will be F2F #7 for 2014.  I'm hoping to caston for this sweater tonight.

I know . . . I'm totally A.D.D, when it comes to knitting!  I'm always in a state of finishing, starting, or ordering.  Do you really think having 5 WOP (works in progress) at one time, is too much?  I always mark my pattern and use a stitch counter, when I move from one project to another, so I don't waste time when I come back to it.  The only problem seems to be that I don't finish Summer sweaters until in the Fall and Winter sweaters until the Spring.  I guess I need to switch up my planning a bit. 

I hope you are enjoying the Summer and that there is a bit of knitting moving on your needles.  Happy Knitting!

July 09, 2014

Southeastern UTAH

I just returned from a whirlwind tour of southeastern Utah, where I saw some sights for the first time. It was HOT, dusty and especially BEAUTIFUL! After seeing a recent movie, which was filmed in Monument Valley, I just had to see it for myself. Here are some of the pictures we took.

In all, we visited Arches National Park, where we saw Delicate Arch; Mesa Verde; Four Corners, where we creatively stood in 4 states at the same time (Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico); and Monument Valley. We packed our lunch each day, and drank a LOT of water. It was a great time! 
On our return, we stopped at this location to take a few pictures, and found the tread had come off a tire on our 5th Wheel, which completely beat up the wheel well and side of the trailer. Funny, we didn't even realize it had happened until we stopped. Lucky this was our only problem on the trip. You can see in the picture, that 2 little boys thought they could hike up to the rock formation all by themselves. Luckily a baby was crying up there, so I was able to convince them they should stay and help Grandpa change the tire.

As we were traveling from place to place, I was madly knitting on my "Kina Sweater" sample. I ran out of yarn and even knit up the yarn from my swatch. In our jumping from car to car, someone stepped into my knitting basket and put a nice red dirt footprint on the inside of my sweater. I hope it will wash out, but if it does not, we'll have a nice momento from the trip. Luckily, the dirt footprint is on the inside, and won't be seen when worn. Anyway, I'm hoping to get some more yarn to complete my sample in the same dye lot, so I can finish it up. In the meantime, I'm back knitting on my Laura Leaves Tank.

I hope you are having a fun summer and you are taking time for a vacation or two. Happy Knitting!

June 26, 2014

Project Planning

Summer heat has arrived. At 8:00 pm each night, this is where you'll find me.
I'll be sitting in one of those white chairs, with a cold drink, my Kindle and of course, my knitting.  I'll be there until about 9:30, when it gets too dark to see my knitting, and the mosquitoes start to buzz around.
We have a few roadtrips planned, so I've been planning some new projects.  When I'm going to be knitting in the car for an extended period of time, I like to switch back and forth between projects, to keep my hands from getting tired on the same size needles and to keep from getting too bored.  The most important part of planning a project is "Swatching".  This is where you knit up a sample square in the desired  yarn to make sure you have "Gauge".  This is the most important step in project planning, as it will determine the fit of your final garment.

In the past, I was always a lazy swatcher.  I would cast on 20 stitches knit for 2 inches and then measure with the stitches still on the needles.  Then I would rip is out and start the cast on for my project. Sometimes this worked, but most of the time I was unhappy with the garments I produced.  Especially the ones for me!  Knitting with Custom Fit has taught me that if I want the perfect fit, I must produce the perfect swatch. If at the end of the project I am running out of yarn, then and only then, do I rip out my swatch. I've found this doesn't happen often.

Here is how I explained "Swatching" to my Knit Night friends, so they could prepare for our upcoming KAL (Lady Kina):

Once you have selected your yarn, it is time to "SWATCH" (a picture of my swatch is attached).  Cast of 30-40 stitches on US7 needles and knit in stockinette stitch (knit on RS, purl on WS) for about 4 inches.  You can add a garter stitch (K on both RS and WS) border if you prefer.  Bind off.  Soak in cool water and roll in a towel to dry.  Carefully pat swatch out to shape (do not stretch) and place a few pins around the edges to hold in place as it dries.  Now the most important part -- Count the number of stitches in a 4" row (be extremely careful in your measuring and counting, as this makes the difference in getting a perfect fit, or not.  Even count 1/2 or 1/4 stitches).  Your final stitch count over 4 inches should be 20 stitches.  If you have more than 20 stitches, swatch again with US9 needles.  If you have less than 20 stitches, swatch again with US6 needles.  Continue this process until you reach the perfect 20 stitches per 4 inches.  If you have selected Worsted Weight Yarn, the only differences will be in how tight or loose your personal knitting style is. 

The purple swatch is planned for "Bloomsbury".  The aqua swatch is planned for "Lady Kina".  The coral swatch is planned for "Eva". The dark red swatch is for 'Laura Leaves Tank".  "Lady Kina" and "Laura Leaves Tank" are already on the needles and ready for travel.  I have a Custom Fit pattern in hand for "Eva" and she is ready to be cast on at any moment.  The amazing thing about a Custom Fit pattern, is you can select the design and the yarn completely independent of each other.  You aren't tied to knitting the design at the exact gauge indicated.  Once you have "swatched" in your chosen yarn, you simply plug the stitch counts into the Custom Fit software, and it produces the perfect pattern for you.  There is no math or calculations involved.  "Bloomsbury" has been placed on the back burner, for now, as she may be too warm to wear right now, but she'll be perfect for September/October weather, so she won't be waiting for long.

I expect to be back next week, with pictures of our travels and pictures of my knitting progress.

In the meantime, I wanted to share a success from one of our best crocheters in the Knit Night Group. She made this cute, little bolero for her daughter to wear at her brother's wedding. She has done such a beautiful job! Lily is also quite the little model. You've see her before in her Mother's creations, and we hope to see her or her sibblings again on this blog.

I hope you are all having a fabulous summer. Thanks for stopping by . . . . .and Happy Knitting!

June 20, 2014

Crazy Weather -- ?Summer?

Utah is known for its crazy weather . . . but snow in June? That has got to be the craziest of all! We were having beautiful weather, in the 90's, but last Monday the temps dropped to the low 40's and it snowed on the mountain benches. We actually even turned our furnace back on, and sandals went back into the closet, and the sweaters came back out (Yeh, I love wearing sweaters).
Just a few weeks ago, the downtown area looked like this

Regardless, I love living in SLC. We have beautiful mountains and a lake that provides the most beautiful sunsets. Even if those mountains hold in all of the inversion air in the winter, and the lake is so salty, that not much can survive in it. It's high dessert living for me! We are supposed to have weather back in the 90's by the weekend. C-R-A-Z-Y!

I take a break from hosting a monthly knitting group in the Summer, to give everyone time for gardening, camping and other vacations. It is only June, and I already miss seeing all of these ladies! I've started planning for the Fall, when we'll all be together again, and knitting away. I've decided on the perfect KAL for 2015. The "Lady Kina" sweater, designed by Muriel Agator. It is the perfect design to flatter any age and body type. It will knit up quickly, and have a forgiving fit, which is perfect if it is your first sweater project. Bodies can be so difficult, as compared to scarves, hats, blankets or slippers. Thank heavens for stretch . . . which is exactly what knitted garments provide.
I sent out a notification about the KAL and everyone is so excited to get started, that the KAL will begin in September, instead of in January, like last year.  Perhaps this will give us time to work together on two projects in 2015.  We'll see how it goes.  Everyone is busy choosing their yarn.  We have some expectant Moms in the group, and this should be a sweater that can be worn before, during and after. 
My "Laura Leaves Tank", F2F #5, is coming along.  I decided to knit it in-the-round, because the pattern was written that way and I didn't want to figure out the leaves pattern working it flat.  It is recommended that all Custom Fit patterns be worked flat, in pieces, so I hope this works out as I had planned.  To prevent the leaves from being "wonky", I've had to move the front shaping to the side seams.  I'm a little concerned that this may make the ribbing ride up on my hips.  I guess we'll see . . . . . .

Despite the crazy weather, our garden is flourishing.  The marigolds are just on the verge of bursting into bloom.  Planting them from seeds this year, has provided for really full pots, but a little later blooming.

The hanging flower basket has really made some changes. Compare the following.
I've decided to knit my sample "Lady Kina" for my sweat, little granddaughter, who along with her friend has newly cut bangs for the summer.

. . . so, I'll be digging through my yarn stash this weekend, trying to choose the perfect yarn to compliment a 12 year old with bangs! Happy Knitting!

June 03, 2014

Surface & Summer Garden

My "Surface" cardigan by Norah Gaughan is finished, just in time for the Custom Fit Cardipalooza KAL.

Such a fun sweater to knit.  The blister pattern on the collar and sleeves was a great thing to learn, I'm sure I will be incorporating it into designs of my own.  Knit of KnitPicks Gloss DK in the color Sea Spray.  It was F2F Sweater #4, in "My Year of Knitting for Me". 

Custom Fit gave me all of the numbers necessary to make the sweater fit perfectly. It is a little warm for Summer wear, but I think it will work well in the Fall, or with a turtleneck in the Winter. I'm hoping to find the time to knit it again, in a finer gauge and a cotton blend.

F2F #5 was supposed to be "Bloomsbury": , but the beginning of the Custom Fit "Summer Sweater KAL", has caused a change in plan.  So . . . . "Bloomsbury", becomes F2F #6, and perhaps Summer Sweater #2 for the KAL.  That is, if my fingers will knit fast enough to finish both by August 15.

F2F #5 is now going to be a custom fit "Laura Leaves Tank". I know, you have seen me knit this pattern many times, but it has never been for me (unless you count the one that was frogged, because it didn't fit). I will be using a custom fit recipe for this one, so future frogging shouldn't be a problem. I'm working up the swatch right now, in Fyberspates Scrumptious (my all-time favorite yarn). I'm planning to downsize the needles a bit, to help with the fit and drape.

If this is successful, I'm going to try to learn how to release my own "Laura Leaves Tank - Custom Fit Recipe", to help others get a perfect fit with my pattern.

Here are the links for the patterns I have talked about in this post:"Bloomsbury" ; "Surface"; "Laura Leaves Tank"; KnitPicks - Gloss DK; Fyberspates - Scrumptious Sport 4-ply

Summer has definitely arrived, with daily temperatures in the 90s.  It doesn't usually get this hot so quickly in Salt Lake City, but we have taken full advantage of the good weather.  Our flowers and vegetables are all planted and doing well.  That is, everything except the eggplant, which we planted from seed this year.  We may need to purchase some starter plants.  I thought it might be fun to post some "before and after" pictures this year . . . so here are the "befores".  I plan to post the "afters" in September or early October.

String Bean Stands-June
Peas in front - Cherry Tomatores in back 

Bell Peppers, Garlic, Eggplant 

Strawberry Pots 

Marigolds, planted from the seeds from last year's plants.
Geraniums in Pink Fizz

The Lemon Tree (which has done well over the past few years, but suffered a bad winter in the house). 
Squash and Cucumbers

The Hanging Basket I received from my Boss for Admin Profs Day

It's another Summer of gardening and knitting. Hopefully, we find the time for a few vacations or camping trips, which always speed up my knitting schedule. Happy Knitting!