Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Augusta Cardigan

I recently finished my Augusta Cardigan from the book New England Knit (which is fabulous, by the way).  I've wanted to make this cozy cardigan since I first got the book a couple of years ago.  I used yarn which I believe to be Galler Peruvian Tweed, a 100% alpaca yarn which was purchased from the Weaving Works in Seattle way back in 2007 - though my yarn is, I think, a little lighter than worsted.  I held the yarn doubled and the finished sweater is heavy - literally.  The buttons came from Yarn Folk here in Ellensburg, purchased once the knitting was finished.  I hadn't expected to use contrasting buttons, but I think these are rather pretty.

This yarn has been waiting.  This yarn has been waiting a long time to be used.  You see, I bought this yarn back in 2007.  June of 2007, my mom flew to Seattle from Wisconsin when I completed my master's degree.  We went to the Weaving Works and picked out this yarn together.  I was going to knit her a sweater for Christmas.  Something with cables.  Something pretty.

My mom, at Pike Place Market, June 2007.

But on July 19, 2007 my mom was killed by a drunk driver.  I got the phone call from the hospital around 10:00 pm.  I didn't quite know what to think - I mean, you can never quite believe something so horrible when it strikes out of the blue.  As I was trying to process the words I had just heard, I remember thinking, I'll never knit her that sweater now.  It's stupid, yes, but this yarn has a lot of history wound up in it.

So the yarn sat.  I thought a lot about what to do with it.  But I didn't do anything with it.  This year, a lot of things have come to a conclusion. The litigation over the accident finally wrapped up.  We finally cleaned out her house and put it on the market.  And I decided that the alpaca would become a sweater for me.  A warm, cozy sweater that I could wrap up in.

I started it in November.  This year the holidays were harder for me.  I'm not sure why.  Maybe it had to do with going back home for the first time in years, or if it's just part of a cycle, but I spent a lot of time feeling more sad than usual.  And I felt this drive to finish the sweater before Christmas.  I blocked it in the days leading up to Christmas and it came to Wisconsin with me.  And I felt better, having it finished.  Just a little, but a sense of relief at having finished this one thing, so long left unfinished.

One of my favorite photos of us.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Only 11 months since my last post. Let's check in on the state of the knitting, shall we?

On the needles:

Husband sweater. Mr. Husband asked for a sweater - machine washable, and basic.  I'm knitting this from Ella Rae Classic Heathers Superwash, using the set-in sleeve recipe from Ann Budd's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns.  The color is darker, richer. Oh, and the back is now 15" long.  So I've made some progress since the photo was taken.

Augusta Cardigan. I have had this yarn for six years, and now is the time to knit it.  It's 100% alpaca, Peruvian Tweed, held double throughout.  There is much to say about this sweater, but not this post.
Augusta Cardigan 

In Dreams Shawl.  A beautiful lace pattern, knit from an apparently uncapturable shade of purple in Knit Picks Glass lace.  I am omitting the 5000 beads.  This has been mostly set aside as I get distracted by the above sweaters.

Pink sock. A movie theatre sock (so easy I can knit it in the dark), with an afterthought heel.  Knit from Knit Picks Chroma.

Recently finished:

Thrummed mittens.  Thrummed mittens for my walks to work in the winter.  Knit two at a time with Cascade Cloud 9, and roving from Picnic Knits, who has moved from the dying business to the designing business.  I kept the color changes in the roving lined up, more or less.  Very very fluffy.
Thrummed mittens
Thrummed mittens 

Gaptastic Cowl.  Ann, owner of the fantastic new yarn store in town, Yarn Folk, knit up a GAP-tastic cowl sample, and I think there's been an outbreak of them around here.  I knit this up in less than a week from two skeins of Plymouth Baby Alpaca Grande.  That stuff is like heaven to knit with.  So soft, so squishy, so wonderful.  
Gaptastic cowl


North Olympic Discovery Marathon.  Back in June I ran my first ever marathon.  And I finished it in a time of 5:11:43.  I'll count that as a victory.  I'm pictured here eating the best croissant I've ever had.  I hurt for days, but I've never had a grape popsicle as amazing as the one I had after I finished running.
Post-race euphoria

I kind of fell off the training wagon since then, but have my eye on a local marathon at the beginning of April...  Time will tell whether or not I go for it.  But if I do, training will start the first week of January!  Not that I've drafted out a long run schedule or anything.  

Sunday, January 13, 2013

FO: Aidez of Uncertainty

For me, gauge is not a science. I'm apt to knit a swatch and call it "close enough." So when I decided to knit Aidez, I wasn't sure I had enough yarn. I had seven hanks of Wool of the Andes Bulky, and I just wasn't sure. But I went for it.

And it worked.

For a bulky weight sweater, this design has a lightness and an ease. Which is probably why it has 2500+ projects on Ravelry.

The cables are great. I went with a popular modification to the lattice cables, so it was a true lattice.

I knit the sleeves two at a time, but without a stitch marker, so I ended up knitting one sleeve more than another. At one point, I discovered that I had crossed the cable to early, so a repeat was short about 5 inches back. I fudged it. So one arm has a short repeat and a long repeat, while the other stayed nice and even.

The only thing I'm not really happy with is my seaming. I tend to tug on the fronts and it exposes gaps in the side seaming. It doesn't drive me crazy, but I'll be a bit more careful with seamed projects in the future.

This sweater will get a lot of wear. I've worn it twice already and it's only been finished for about a week and a half.  Hooray for successful projects!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Yarn: Reclaimed step by step

Remember my frog pond? Well, it's all been frogged. And then some!

It was really interesting taking apart sweaters, particularly from early on in my knitting career when I had no idea what I was doing. Tying in the ends? That's not how we do things any more. Then again, splicing together yarn results in some enormous hanks of yarn.... Anyway.

Step one: Unweave your ends. Curse your younger self who inexplicably tied the ends to the knitting. Or who split through single ply yarn when weaving.

Step two: Unseam your seams.

Step three: Frog! Wind into a ball. This will create a lot of fiber dust that gets in your nose and makes you sneeze.

Step four: Skein. I used my handy dandy niddy noddy and skeined up all the yarn. This was surprisingly tiring for my arm and shoulder. I tied off the hanks using scraps of sock yarn.
Processing frogged yarn

Step five: Soak the skeins.
Processing frogged yarn
With a little wool wash.

Processing frogged yarn
In a rubbermaid tub. Black and red went first.

Processing frogged yarn
Then the blue. It looked like Smurf ramen, frankly.

Step six: Wring out the skeins.Get out that water!
Processing frogged yarn
Spot the cat? Wringing out the skeins took a lot of time. Like, a lot of time.

Processing frogged yarn
Cat's easier to find on this one.

Step seven: Hang skeins to dry.
Processing frogged yarn
Batch #1.

Processing frogged yarn
All the yarn. Be annoyed that cat destroyed collapsing fabric box...

Step eight: Wait for skeins to dry. Wait some more. Give it another day.

Step nine: Call it dry enough and retwist all the skeins. Realize that you don't have space to store all this yarn...
Reclaimed yarn

Seriously, this is a lot of yarn. There's also a few un-washed balls of reclaimed yarn that I may not bother with processing. We'll see.

The process worked pretty well. Some of the yarn still has a little wave to it, some looks brand new. The red yarn is nicer than it ever has been. It was a lot of work, but I'm glad I did it. Now I need to knit some worsted/aran/bulky weight sweaters to decrease this reclaimed stash!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Piling on the miles

I'm knitting this fabulous sweater, Aidez, out of that bulky weight yarn I wasn't sure what to do with.  On my Rav projects page I'm calling it the Aidez of uncertainty because I don't know if I have enough yarn. It knits up fast though, that's for sure. Faster, if I spent more of my time knitting and less of my time ripping out all the stuff in my enormous frog pond. I've got the back and part of the left front done. I'm also a little worried that it won't be the right size. It looks so small and scrunched together....

The back of Aidez, partially done. This photo is not up to date.But it's pretty, no?

Anyway, I want to tell you about the frogging project, and I'd like to tell you about my long neglected Tiong Bahru, but what I'm going to do is talk about running.

See, I signed up for this thing. It's called Pile on the Miles, and it's organized by Monica of Run Eat Repeat. You sign up, set a mileage goal for the month of November, and can get prizes for commenting and updating your progress.

I set my goal kind of high. Like, really high.

100 miles.

Yeah, I said I would run 100 miles in November. I did the math; it's totally possible on my three day a week schedule. I'm working my way up to a 15 mile long run during the same period, so that helps. And I'll probably do a few miles of walking, too, since I'm going to lay off the elliptical for cross training and just do incline walking. (Incline walking is brutal! I was walking at a 12.5% incline today and I was drenched.)

Oh yeah, my knee has been bugging me. It feels crunchy or something - I don't even know. Sometimes it's fine, sometimes not.  But I'm doing everything I can for it short of actually not using it. I'd been doing elliptical instead of running because of it, but it actually seems to get worse after the elliptical. I guess that plan didn't work. Current plan involves supplements, ice when I need it, and hoping. So we'll see how this goes.

Anyway, I'm kicking this thing off on Thursday morning with a five mile run, and following that up with eleven fine miles on Saturday. Assuming my knee doesn't fall out or something.

Even if you're not a runner and just want some incentive to get out and walk more this month, sign up! There are about 700 people signed up right now, with goals ranging from 20 miles to 200 miles. It's not about being the fastest or the best, it's about giving yourself a challenge and some motivation.

I can do this. So can you.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Rippit, Rippit Good, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Frog Pond.

I switched over my wardrobe from winter to summer (which mostly involves putting away the shorts and pulling out the sweaters - most of it stays the same), and finally had to deal with the problem of my sweaters.

You see, I have about a half dozen handknit sweaters which are... too big. Not too big by a little, but too big by a lot. I don't want to give them to goodwill, so I had to get up the courage and start a frog pond.

Frog Pond

In the frog pond we have:

My very first sweater ever. Made of a very wooly wool I bought at a flea market in Wisconsin.
Frog Pond

My Wicked cardigan. Knit out of Cascade 220. This is a pattern I would actually knit up again, and very well may.
Frog Pond

The Quincy hat, which is not really a good look for me and cashmere is a horrible thing to waste.
Frog Pond

The Amelia cardigan, which I like and put a lot of work into, but now that the arms fit, the body is a bit saggy. Made of Cascade Lana d'Oro.
Frog Pond

Frosting. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but it's too messy for a gift, and too itchy for my poor sensitive skin. Made of Cascade Cloud 9.
Frog Pond

These will join my Bulky Mini-Cardi, which got frogged last week. The Arucania Nature Cotton may get a second life...
Frog Pond

Narrowly avoiding the frog pond are my Tangled Yoke Cardigan and my Eris cardigan. I don't think the yarn of either will stand up to frogging. Besides, I love my Tangled Yoke. Eris was never really a success, but it is warm. Both will be okay for curling up in around the house.

Letting go is hard, but there will suddenly be a lot more a lot more yarn in my stash.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Expectations v. Reality

*This post has neither photos nor knitting. But I promise the next one will have both!*

So it turns out that posting my weekly exercise schedule on here was actually really really motivating. Here's what I said I would do last week:

Monday - rest
Tuesday - 45-60 minutes of running, with speedwork
Wednesday - weight training (45 minutes)
Thursday - 4-5 miles easy run
Friday - rest or weight training or bootcamp class
Saturday - long run, 6-8 miles
Sunday - weight training, 30 minutes elliptical

And here's what I actually did:

Monday - Rest! No running or gym anyway.
Tuesday - Ran for 4.62 miles/52 minutes. 1.5 miles to the track, 5x200 with 200 rest, 1.5 miles home or so. I have no idea what I'm doing for speedwork. 58 degrees out!
Wednesday - Did my weight training circuit and had time to follow it up with 28 minutes of elliptical (the "fat burner" program on the AMT, mostly because it's programmed to last 28 minutes) at a fairly moderate intensity.
Thursday - Ran 4 miles/46 minutes. It was 30 degrees out. I couldn't feel my thighs.
Friday - Had kind of intended to get to the gym, but with my rest option instead.
Saturday - Air quality was unhealthy, so my run date was cancelled. I went and did weights/elliptical instead. More intensely than Wednesday. Maybe because I saw my trainer there.
Sunday - Air quality was still unhealthy, so I did 7 miles/76.5 minutes on the elliptical. 30 minutes on a regular elliptical, the rest on the AMT (which has a more "run-y" motion).

And here's what I intend to do this week:

Monday - Rest. Already executing that fairly successfully.
Tuesday -45-60 minutes of running, with hill repeats on the only hill in town.
Wednesday - Weight training (45 minutes)
Thursday - 4-5 miles easy run
Friday - Rest or weight training or bootcamp class
Saturday - Long run, 8-10 miles
Sunday - Weight training, 30 minutes elliptical

I realize this is a bit dull. I'll try to think of ways to liven it up in the future.