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Racing to the finish: MadMay

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May is almost over, and with it, the month of knitterly time devoted to Madelainetosh. Because of it is so much more available for impulse buying than my other favorites, MadTosh is the yarn I buy most often. I had never participated in MadMay before, and my rather impressive stash suggested I should. (Incidentally, it is also the clearly superior Tosh over Rapejokes McGee.)

Until I hit the worst problem you can with a hand-dyed yarn. I ran out.

I have fudged the numbers on the raglan shaping, and though the neckline will be shaped differently it SHOULD enough to actually sit on my shoulders. I tried it on yesterday to pretty good results. The sleeves will be literally as short as I can make them, but I was expecting a short sleeved top anyway. Fingers crossed, it all works out.

I also started a pair of supremely quick Cookie A socks (not words normally spoken together, but it does happen) in Cedar, a slightly bluer colorway of the one shown above (Fjord). I’m on a green kick, apparently. Those, I am not worried about. The sweater…I want to wear it so much! Yarn gods, make it so!

Museum Knitting

I knit in museums. Almost every week.

Part of the reason I took to knitting so completely is that I fidget.  All the time.  And knitting really helps me get out that energy in a much more productive fashion than picking at my nails.

The other reason is that we spend a lot of time in museums now.  LOTS.  My husband has a basically infinite tolerance for them, and with travelling around Europe and having moved close to one of the best museum cities there is, we’re in museums almost every week.  I have a higher interest in historical museums than art, but my husband is the opposite   We spent 5 hours in the Prado and really only left because we became irrepressibly hungry.  And while I love museums almost as much as my husband, that’s a lot of time with empty hands. 

The Prado, as a sidenote, is the only museum to ever ask me to stop knitting. Or at least, that was the gist I got from the older woman saying “Es prohibido!”  I strongly doubt it’s actually prohibited (if nothing else, my needles went through a metal detector, and no one had any issues then), and what problems it could cause, I have no idea, but whatever.  I wasn’t going to kick up a fuss.

I don’t like to knit anything complicated in museums–the ideal is something portable and so simple I don’t actually have to look at it so I can enjoy the museum offerings.  Plain socks are rather perfect, obviously, as long as you don’t hit the heel.  After a few months of honing this, I think the best are fingering weight sweaters.  Lightweight yarn, small enough (especially at the beginning) to be portable, and no annoying heels or complicated business for miles.

When we were in Amsterdam last weekend, I had an entire day of knitting Anais, a lightweight pullover out of Wool People, that I’m making for Mad May.  I’m nowhere near the lacey bit, so it’s just stockinette on 3s forever.  Perfect for keeping my hands busy while my brain concentrates on Van Gogh or Rembrandt.  The only catch for this one is that I have to alternate balls of yarn, but it’s not too bad to carry and totally worth it.

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The actual fabric is much greener in real life, with flecks of brown.  But that is the basic idea.

So, yes.  I knit in museums.  I know it’s weird, but it helps keep me going during those marathon art sessions, which is probably good for my marriage. Whatever works, right?

Wheelwright is DONE! (Also, there’s a sweater).

I really couldn’t be more excited about this, both that it’s finished, and that it looks as I’d hoped.

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Modeled near the sea in Malta, getting some much needed sunshine after a long British winter (it snowed on Easter).

I didn’t really make it to wear with jeans–I picture it more as a wrap to wear to weddings or date nights, things like that–but I was so excited to take pictures I didn’t really let details like styling get in the way.

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It does work as a ridiculously huge laceweight scarf, though.

I know I bitched in the last post about how silk laceweight is completely not my thing, and that is generally still true, but I think I’ve come to appreciate it more.  I got the hang of it.  Not saying I’d got back for more anytime soon, but still, progress.

On a related note, another FO: The Sweater I Cast On So As to Not Go Crazy While Making Wheelwright.  Also known as Middlefield, the fourth sweater and sixth project I’ve made from New England Knits.

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Forgive the facial expression; it was pre-caffeine.

It was a great knit, in scrumptious Sundara Aran Silky Merino, and I used up all my leftover from making Royale in August (about 620 yards).  It was super fast too, which is why I could model both at the same time.  I used five buttons to close the yoke instead of three, and added two on each sleeve because why not.

So yes, very excited to have that monkey off my back and be able to work on new stuff.  Malta was really fun, though we both wish we’d spent more time there.  I really thought we’d be able to knock out the big stuff in a weekend, and was really surprised how wrong I was.  It definitely doesn’t lend itself to our travel style in the way that major cities do, where we can knock out four sights or activities in a day and by Sunday night feel like we did what we came for.  Malta sort of forces you to take your time and relax, so we didn’t do nearly as much as we’d planned on. We’ll just have to go back!

Laceweight, amiright?

I was so excited when Twist Collective published the Wheelwright shawl–it’s gorgeous, and just perfect for a yarn I’d been trying to use up for years, Sundara Silk Lace in Fire Studies.

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Photo from Twist Collective.

And now that I’m only more than halfway through, I’m still really excited to have and wear this shawl, but dear God am I ready to be done knitting it.

Silk lace is not the yarn for me.  It’s beautiful, and relatively cheap, but it’s also sticky, and basically weightless.  I don’t have the same feel for what I’m doing as I would in a sock yarn or even just a heavier laceweight.  And I can knit for hours and the ball gets no smaller. (For the record, at this point in the pattern 2 rows take about 45 minutes total.  It’s really great.)

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Also not helping is that old “pre-blocked lace looks like ramen noodles” problem.

So, that is where things stand.  I would really, really like to have this done by the end of the month, so I can just move on to something less fiddly (though the pattern itself is pretty straightforward.  The fiddle is in the yarn.)  And while no other project really inspires me right now, I do have an idea for an aranweight sweater that becomes more appealing with every laceweight row, and soon the next shipment from the Cookie A sock club will surely bring some new inspiration.  But not until Wheelwright is done.  If I put it down, I’ll basically never pick it back up.  

I did just have very similar feelings about Life on Sundays, a shawl pattern I riffed on a little while we were off on our anniversary trip, though instead of lacey fiddliness, it was more “omg 300 stitch rows in garter stitch.”  Now, though, it’s done and oh-so cozy.

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The yarns are Indigodragonfly MCN Sock in the Cookie A sock club colorway, and MadTosh Sock in Saffron (appropriate knitting for Spain).  It is the total opposite of Wheelwright in every way–cozy and squishy and dead easy.  I do kind of wish I’d made it a teeny bit longer, or just worked it on bigger needles (I used 5s), but no complaints other than that. 

Simple

Sometimes it all just comes together.

Like gorgeous Sundara FSM in Great Pacific that two wonderful friends got me for my birthday, with a dead easy pattern (Hannah Fettig’s Lightweight Pullover) to show it off…

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And it all just comes together.

I wore this on our one year anniversary trip (!!!) and only just now realized it’s almost exactly the color of my wedding dress.

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It’s like they know me or something.

Art (et Pull) Nouveau

I’m so excited to share my new sweater that I got to try out in Paris this weekend! And where better to take sweater photos, really?

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The pattern is actually the Burrard cardigan, designed by Glenna C and published in the winter 2012 issue of Twist Collective. It’s an amazing pattern as written, but I already have a shawl collar cabled cardigan in blue that I wear all the time. So I made the pattern from the back again, and after the armholes bound off the middle three cables to create a scoop neck ( though, if I were to do it again, I’d put them on holding yarn instead) and added a 2×2 rib neckband.

I love how the twisting loop cables run up the sides of the neckline.

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The yarn is madtosh DK in Baltic, a color I completely adore. It’s pretty heavily varied, and even though I alternated skeins, I was still pretty worried about color blocking in the final product. Luckily, it’s a lot less noticeable in the finished version.

Paris was, of course, completely wonderful. After doing sweater pics in the Jardin de Luxembourg, I got a hot mulled wine, we did the Rodin Museum, had dinner with friends, and today did the Musee d’Orsay–literally the only site we managed all day because there was so much to see. I can’t wait to go back!

I’ve been busy

This weekend has been amazing.  We didn’t go anywhere exciting or new (though we’re about to go to Oxford for the day, which J still somehow hasn’t been to).  We just stayed at home, and got all that stuff done that’s we’ve been letting slide for weeks.  Between travel schedules and the two of us getting sick 3 times in two weeks, there was a lot.  We finally bought a new vacuum, I discovered a wine warehouse near us appropriately named Majestic, we did about 8 million loads of laundry, gave the kitchen a thorough once-over, did some financial housekeeping, and booked a big trip and a last minute one to Paris (because yay Paris!), and topped it off with a date night of dinner and a movie (I Give It a Year, which was hilarious.)   All the productivity has me in an irrepressibly good mood. And as an added bonus, I finished two pairs of socks. 

Pair #1 are from the first pattern release from the Cookie A sock club (a Christmas present from J), and they are basically my definition of The Perfect Sock.  Ribbing for snug fit, interesting design, but still simple enough to fly off the needles.  I made them in one of my ten goal yarns for the year, Sundara Sock in Shadow Studies, and couldn’t be happier with them.

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Pair #2 are Knitty’s Vampire Boyfriend socks.  I got the yarn (Neighborhood Fiber Co Studio Sock in Georgetown) as a gift from a friend who apparently knows my taste to a T.  I started winding it the second I had it in my hands. I really wanted to knit it Right Then, so even though I had a bunch of other projects on the needles, I cast on anyway.  The result:

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Love these!  The side cables give them great structure, they’re a fun knit, and they’re the perfect shade of blue.

Hope everyone has a happy Sunday!