One knitter's battle to conquer the intended gauge . . .

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Beaded Annis Shawl

First off I just had to show you a photo of a beautiful place we went hiking last week. Millcreek Canyon. Isn't it gorgeous?!?

Second. I FINISHED MY SHAWL!! And it is blocked and DRY. Are you totally impressed. Me too. I also finished the Divergent Series. I did a little knitting while reading. It was tricky but I managed it. I liked Allegiant.  It is sad. More people die. But the ending. It feels hopeful. Like the community will survive, recover, and thrive. I liked the ending. Much more positive than the Hunger Games.

I think this is my first crescent shawl. And I am hooked! Those short rows make it go so much faster. I still don't know if I will like wearing a crescent shawl but I will give a try at the wedding. Beading was so much easier than I thought it would be. I used the crochet hook method and it was fabulous! I tried buying a crochet hook small enough for the beads at Joanns and Michaels with my coupon but they don't carry anything near small enough. I purchase my new hook at my LYS, Blazing Needles.

Pattern: Annis by Susanna IC
Yarn: Malabrigo lace Silkpaca in Teal Feather
Beads: Size 6 purple seed beads
New Fancy Tool: Addi Capped Steel Crochet Hook size 0.6mm

And speaking of the wedding. I should be packing for my wedding cruise and finishing the mound of dishes that need to be done before I leave! :) But instead I am blogging and packing my knitting. Priorities! I am so excited to be kid free, I may be over packing on the knitting but I want to have choices! 2 socks: circle socks which are almost done and a new pair of vanilla christmas knitting socks. And 2 lacey works in progress. I am hoping to finish the circle socks for my sister and the I Heart Cowl for me.

And I'll leave you with a little spirit message. Our church's General Conference was the week before last and there were several messages on caring for the poor that touched my heart. I really like this quote. As a family we are trying to decide how we will answer this call. 

Sharing with Ginny and Nicole

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Miracle of Spinning with a Silk Blend

I attended the Great Basin Fiber Arts Fair in August with my sister in law and purchased my first silk/merino blended fiber from the Fiber Addict. It is a merino/tussah silk blend (70/30) in the Jamaica colorway. I knew that I wanted to buy some fiber but I wasn't sure what type when I went. I was just looking for the most bang for my buck. And this fiber was it. The price was good. It is beautiful colors; purple, yellow, blue, green, orange, and white. I am planning to 2 ply it and hoping that doesn't muddy the colors too much. I'd be disappointed if it all turned out a little brown.

I am pretty sure that I always want to spin with a silk blend from now on. It drafts like a dream and is the thinnest that I have been able to spin.  Okay I don't have that much experience spinning other fibers than wool and maybe my alpaca roving will be just as amazing but I seriously love this silk/merino blend. It was 4 oz and I am shocked by how many yards I have been able to get out of it so far. Yay for spinning progress!!! Spinning is so meditative. If I can just sit for 15 minutes and spin, I get up in such a better place mentally. It is better than yoga, deep breathing, counting to 10, meditation, etc for helping me come back to a happy place.

I numbered my toilet paper rolls so I could ply the "bobbins" I spun first with the ones I spun last in hopes of getting a pretty even yarn even with the progress I have made in my spinning. I am not sure what I will make with the yarn. I will have to wait and see how many yards it really is. I didn't know how to do that with the singles without putting it on my niddy noddy or without a scale. So I just guesstimated on how much to put on each roll, trying to make it look even. We will see how I did when plying time comes.

I finished Insurgent. Frankly I kind of hate these suspenseful books that I can't seem to have enough self control to put down. It is annoying. I am a little tired of the dystopian young adult romance/violence novels. I decided after finishing book 2 that I was not going to read book 3. So I asked my sister how it all ended. She told me everything she remembered but that left more questions than answers so I picked up book 3 anyway today at the library. Dang it. I just need to get it all out of my system and move on. :)

Joining with Ginny, Nicole, and Andrea.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

It's Autumn Time, It's Autumn Time, The Leaves are on the Ground -- and I'm starting a Summer of Lace and Beads...

As a child growing up in Alaska, Spring, also known as Break-Up, was my favorite season. It was so full of hope and promise. When the sun was back bringing with it endless energy and the world was filling with beautiful colors again as everything bloomed. I still love spring. It was fun this last spring to see what beautiful colors popped up over night in our new yard. It was like a new surprise every morning. But Autumn time in Utah is starting to win my heart over. THE COLORS. My pictures just don't do it justice. I am in awe of God's magnificent creation.

The boys and I chauffeured for Maeve's field trip to Silver Lake up Big Cottonwood Canyon this last week. It was a beautiful place and the weather was fantastic. It was great to just be present without an agenda. We couldn't keep up with the class on the hike so we just played around after the guided nature walk around the lake, in which I learned that beavers are really, really important. Even if they keep flooding the homes up there.

On Saturday we braved a nasty rain storm to visit the Blue Moon Ranch alpaca open barn days. Holy moly alpacas are adorable. I am not an animal lover and I wanted to take one home with me. Except the one below with the leash. He was pretty much the terror of the herd. Chasing the others around and yelling at them. We were in the fields when it really started to rain and all the alpacas turned and ran for the barn immediately. Smart animals.

If I wanted to take one home with me, this little girl, who wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up, wanted to to take the whole herd. She said we could trade in our lawn mower for them. She stayed out in the rain with the animals the entire time I was in the shop picking out my first bag of alpaca roving to spin. Maeve can't wait to come back next year and see her friends. I've been a little scared of spinning alpaca because people have warned me it is difficult to spin well but I am going to give it a try.

The Knitmore Girls do a Summer of Lace and Beads Knit-a-long. In the 5.5 years that I've been knitting I have never once had a desire to add beads to my knitting. But hearing little snippets about their KAL planted a seed and when I was looking for a shawl to where to a wedding next month I just became obsessed with adding beads. My friend emailed asking that everyone wear something teal or purple to the wedding, inspired by peacock feathers. It is a small wedding and she wanted everyone coordinating in the wedding photos. I just bought a black dress and thought a shawl would go well with it.

I chose Susanna C's Annis shawl pattern, replacing the nupps with beads, because lots of people said it was a fairly quick knit. But after this busy week it may need to knit itself to be finished in time. I totally miss calculated with the bead count and had to go back to the bead store today to buy more size 6 seed beads. Oops. I am half way done with the lace section. It is malabrigo silkpaca lace weight yarn (70% alpaca, 30% silk). In the teal feather colorway. I am super excited to wear it.

Starting to read Divergent didn't help the busy week. What an addicting book. I can't say I really liked it but I also couldn't put it down.  Did you read it? What faction would you have joined? Initially I probably would have said Amity (peaceful) but I'm having second thoughts after starting the second book. I know that if I had joined Dauntless (brave) mice, falling into an outhouse, and falling from a tall building would have been in my fear simulation/ladder thing. Bleh. I'd never survive.

Joining with Nicole, Ginny, and Andrea.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Knitting Circle Socks on Variegated Yarn

We went to Lake Powell this last weekend with my brother's family. It is so beautiful there. Wake boarding on the water is like being on glass. The slot canyons are fun to explore. The water is warm. The cliffs are great for jumping. You get the idea. It is like paradise. And the STARS. So many. So bright without the light pollution from the city. It is amazing.

When I was in college I was dating this guy and we went to his parent's home to see the stars or a comet or something I can't remember. Anyway we climbed up on their roof and were looking at the sky when he quoted this scripture:

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handywork. -Psalm 19:1

I had never read this scripture before and I loved it. Every time I look at the stars at night this verse comes to mind. In the book we listened to on our way back from the lake, Three Times Lucky the main character, Mo, is taught about stars. Her step-dad tells her,

"There's nothing like camping out to restore a sense of size. Remember that. When you lose your way, wait under the stars. We're born over and over, day by day. When you feel lost, let the stars sing you to sleep. You'll always wake up new."

The stars might be my favorite part about camping. The book is really good. We read it for the mother-daughter book club at our local library this month. We just finished it late last night and what a great ending!

I took advantage of some down time at the campsite to knit on my Circle Socks in Candy Skein yarn, colorway Bomb Pop. I tried really hard to be monogamous to this project. Especially after I gave it to my sister for her birthday in July as a half finished sock with needles attached. Now I have the commitment to finish them. Luckily now I am on the foot of both pairs with my parallel sock knitting strategy.  I did however cast on another project last week. It is only getting a few rows here and there but enough to take the edge off these socks. I'll show it to you next week when there is more to see.

So I love how the Candy Skein bomb pop colorway knit up on the leg of the sock with the knit and purl pattern. But once I started knitting on the foot in straight stockinette some serious pooling started happening on the sole with the white color. I didn't get any of that on the leg or heel. The one knitting guild meeting that I was able to attend last year (all the others were on the night I have a monthly committee meeting at my daughter's school) we had the owner of Intrepid Tulip yarns come and speak. She talked about knitting with variegated yarns and ways to avoid pooling. The ways I remembered where: 
  • changing stitch pattern 
  • changing stitch count 
  • interchanging balls while knitting
None of those strategies would work on my sock. You can tell what a difference stitch pattern makes since there was no pooling in the leg with the circle pattern. I couldn't change stitch count or the socks wouldn't fit right. And I didn't measure my balls of yarn when I made the two balls so they were completely uneven. I've already finished one ball part way through the foot because all the rest of the yarn is in the second ball so I have no yarn to interchange it with. Oh well. I'm not too worried about it because it is on the bottom of the foot.

On the way back from Lake Powell we stopped at Goblin Valley State Park and hiked around, making sure to take our traditional silly camping photos. I fell off the rock while Jude went running to the camera but luckily no one got hurt in the craziness. Isn't Goblin Valley amazing?!? So pretty. One of my favorite places in Utah. In the year we have been here we've visited 3 times and it is 4 hours away...

Joining with Nicole, Ginny, and Andrea.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Contrary Cabled Cowl - Worsted Weight Version

Now that I have finally published my Contrary Cabled Cowl pattern, I can show you the first one I made. It is in worsted weight yarn, so to adjust to the thinner yarn I made the cables 8 stitches instead of 6 so that changes your cast on number a bit. And I used size 10 needles. Other than that it is the same pattern. With those two adjustments I was able to get the same dimensions for the finished project as mentioned in the pattern. 

I made it for my little Maeve last Christmas (sad that it took 9 months for me to make time to publish the pattern!).  Malabrigo yarn is the perfect yarn for her.  So soft. Her itch factor is high, she is easily irritated by uncomfortable things. It is a Rios yarn in the Zarzamora color way. One of my favorites. I'm pretty partial to purples when it comes to my knitting. I borrowed this a few times last winter to wear while skiing, when my older daughter, Adelle, wasn't wearing it...

Let me tell you a little story about Maeve and I this weekend. She had a play date on Friday after school and by the time I picked her up a little after 6 she had not eaten since lunch time. Apparently she said she didn't like anything that the other mom offered for an after school snack and Maeve didn't give her any ideas of things she did like. So as soon as Maeve got in our car she was a GROUCH! Hot, tired, or hungry really does Maeve in. Unfortunately dinner and a good night sleep didn't help her attitude and Saturday was pretty brutal too. 

It didn't help that I had decided that Saturday we were going to do some spring fall cleaning in the house and weeding in the garden as a family, two of Maeve's least favorite things to do. We had to take separate time outs in our rooms to survive the afternoon without hurting each other. That night as I prayed for forgiveness for losing my patience and to be filled with a greater love for her, to be filled with Charity, with Christ's unconditional love for her, I immediately felt the Holy Spirit strongly. I was forgiven and the Lord was comforting me, helping me to feel I could be/do better the next day. The Spirit is real. It brings a warm, peaceful feeling, like being wrapped in our Heavenly Father's arms. He understands that parenting is difficult at times but that with His help we can do it. I am so grateful for this experience!

Sharing with Ginny, Nicole, and Andrea.

Oh yeah, I finished two books lately that I really recommend. Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver. I finished that Saturday while I was taking a timeout in my bedroom. I'm still a little sad about how the book ends for the main characters, even though you see it as inevitable as you are reading, I was still sad that it didn't work out. And One Came Home by Amy Timberlake. It is a Newbery Honor Award winner. It isn't really about the passenger pigeons but they play a part in it. It was interesting to read about them. I didn't know anything about them until Paula from the Knitting Pipeline podcast talked about them a few episodes ago. She talked about the Fold the Flock website, people who are remembering the 100 year anniversary of the passing of the last passenger pigeon by folding one million origami pigeons. It is one of those things that I want to do with my kids but have not yet...

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Book Review: Up, Down, and All Around Stitch Dictionary by Wendy Bernard

Thank you so much for the positive feedback concerning my new design! I really appreciate it. Designing has really been an educational and fun experience for me. When I first heard about this book by Wendy Bernard I was so excited about the possibilities. I've been checking out a lot of stitch dictionaries from the library these last few years and was frustrated that most of them only gave instructions for bottom up construction. So I was thrilled that this book might make designing from other directions a lot easier.

I'll talk about the thing I didn't like and then the things I did. First off it claims to have "more than 150 stitch patterns to knit top down, bottom up, back and forth, and in the round." But right from the beginning I was annoyed that 3 of those 150 stitches are stockinette, garter, and seed stitch. To me those didn't really needed to be added to the book. They seem pretty simple to figure out how to do in various directions. It seems a little cheating to list those as part of the 150 but maybe I'm being [k]nit picky. :) But actually that is really the only thing that bothered me about this book.

This milanese lace stitch pattern is one that I have had marked for a design for awhile and I was thrilled to find it written out in all directions. Isn't it beautiful! 

This swedish weave is another stitch pattern that I really liked. I don't remember seeing this in other stitch dictionaries. One of the things I liked about this book were the pictures. I like that they are in color and big enough to see details. And that the instructions are written out and charted. Yay!

Now the next two stitch patterns thrill me to no end. Remember that poncho that I was working on before I started my Summer of Socks? Well I've been wanting to add a border other than the fringe shown in the pattern but all the borders that I've seen in stitch dictionaries before gave directions from the top up except the feather and fan stitch pattern. I believe this is the first one that gave other directions at all for borders. I haven't decided which of these 2 borders I'll use but I am really liking both of them.

Here is Wendy. She has also published a book called Custom Knits to "unleash your inner designer" which I am excited to check out. And one last thing I like about this book is the binding. It has the spiral binding so it will stay open on its own which is great for being able to knit and read from it at the same time. But also the spiral binding is covered by the outside cover so it won't catch on things and/or being tangled and broken. Smart move.

I'm pretty frugal when it come to books. I mostly check them out from the library over and over again. So when I say that this is a book that I will total buy that says A LOT. It is on my short list of books that I want to add to my home library just as soon as I stop spending my pocket money on fiber every month. :) But seriously this book has opened up easier possibilities for designing which is making me rethink my stitch pattern choice for my triangle shawl that is in the works....

Joining with Ginny, Nicole, and Andrea this week.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Contrary Cabled Cowl Knitting Pattern

I am so excited to publish this new design. This snug fitting cowl has an interesting texture where stockinette and garter stitch cables meet. With aran weight yarn, held double, this is a quick knit. It is September after all so we need to start thinking about Christmas knitting! :) The top circumference is able to accomodate children (see my cute daughter wearing it in the picture below) and adults, with the bottom widening to fit comfortably on the shoulders under a coat. It is the perfect accessory for winter play, ensuring no one’s neck or face get cold in the wind and snow.

It is knit with Dyeabolical Aran Singles yarn.  If you have not checked out this Indie Dyer, you have to! She has a wide variety of colors. They are really vibrant and beautiful.  The aran singles is wonderful to knit with. And very soft. Perfect for this "next to skin" cowl.

I love knitting cables with thicker yarn. It just makes such a fun, squishy fabric. You can better see how the garter stitch and the stockinette stitch cables meet in the middle in this photo. It makes for a really unique looking cable.

The Contrary Cabled Cowl is now on sale on Ravelry and Etsy for $3.99. The pattern has been test knit and professionally tech edited. For today only, September 3, you can buy the pattern for $.99 as a thank you for being a loyal reader of The Gauge Wars blog. I really appreciate your visits to the site and your encouraging comments on my knitting. The promotion code is DARTHVADER.  :)

Isn't my friend Melissa beautiful? When I texted asking her to model my newest design for me, she responded with, "you do know you texted Melissa right?" Lol. She did wonderful. And it was hot modeling a wool cowl in August!

 I really enjoy designing. The challenge of coming up with new ideas and then figuring out how to knit them is fun. The math part can be frustrating. But so rewarding when I figure it out! I recently have been obsessing over this new book, Up, Down, All- Around Stitch Dictionary by Wendy Bernard. It gives the directions to knit over 150 stitch patterns from the top down, bottom up, or in the round. Brilliant idea! Most stitch dictionaries that I've seen just give instructions for one direction. Anyway I'm working on a review of this book so come back next Wednesday to read that. Thanks!!

Sharing with Ginny, Tami, and Nicole.