Catching Up

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As someone who really identifies as a process knitter, it’s quite a rare thing for me to have multiple projects on the needles simultaneously. I think this my be my new normal, though, because I have to say I am really enjoying being able to pick the project I want to spend time with each evening. I mean, I love lace but there are some night when I really just crave a few inches of straight up stockinette, you know? Plus, if I get stuck in a rut there’s always another project at hand to keep my attention.

The downside to having all these lovely projects bouncing around is that it takes a lot longer to get any one thing completed. Keeping in mind that I have several very practical items waiting on my fall project list (I really need some trivets. And some mitts.), I figured it was time to knock out the two projects I have going on at the moment. The Madelinetosh Honey Cowl has received most of my limited knitting time this week, and I think I’m about 75% done – it should be easy to finish up tonight or tomorrow. The orange Eyeblink shawl is probably more like 60% finished (in terms of working time remaining, not square footage – but lace is slow going for me right now). I had some vague notion of having the Eyeblink done in time for Halloween so I could wear it as my token orange accessory, but that idea seems pretty unmoored in the light of day (I mean, wearing black and orange on Halloween isn’t particularly a thing at the best of times, but especially unnecessary in a country that does not celebrate Halloween, right? And it’s not like my costume for Halloween was going to be Woman In An Orange Shawl. I don’t really know what I was thinking, but I also don’t know why I bought all this orange wool SO THERE’S THAT).

Aside from these two projects, I’m also in the middle of reading two novels (something else I never used to do! I was strictly a one-book-at-a-time girl) – Sarah Waters’ classic Tipping the Velvet and the fourth book in Camilla Lackberg’s Fjallbacka series, The Hidden Child. Here’s looking ahead to a peaceful, enjoyable weekend.

Picture: So in love with the Honey Cowl right now.

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The End Finally Came

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It’s probably clear that I got bored while re-doing the button band of the poor old neverending sweater and left it to languish for the last few weeks. But last weekend I decided that I was cold and could quite use something warm and woolly to wear, so I sucked it up and put this project out of its misery. And I have to say, I’m more or less happy with the result even though it’s not perfect.

So you’ll recall that after I blocked this sweater last month for the first time, I realized that the button band hung below the hem and the collar was too wide. So I tore it out, read some pattern advice, and re-did the band.

I think that my mistake the first time around came from the fact that I knit the collar before the sleeves. Now, the pattern calls for sleeves first, then pick up for the collar/button band/whatever you want to call it. I followed my personal inclination and the suggestion of a few other  Ravelers and went collar first, sleeves second. For me anyway, the body and collar fit perfectly when I tried on sans sleeves, so I thought I was in the clear. Thought didn’t cross my mind that adding raglan-style sleeves would alter the way that the fabric drapes across the back and neck.

With a freshly knitted button band (picked up just every other stitch this time) and a nice new blocking, the sweater fits much better than before. However, it’s still not perfect – there’s still some extra length in button band and gaping at the neck. Plus the front of the sweater fits with less ease than I expected, especially since I modified the pattern with so much extra length and sized up. But here’s where I always get tripped up garments knit at such fine gauge – they fit beautifully over bare arms but the minute you add even a thin t-shirt all that lovely ease goes up in smoke.

At the end of the day, it’s still very wearable, will get lots of use, and was a nice way to get back into sweater knitting after a two year break. I’m just annoyed at myself that such a simple pattern couldn’t have a flawless end product, but that’s part of accepting the learning and the process.

Picture: A pre-blocking picture of the sweater, happy memories of a temporary better fit. It grew quite a bit in the bath and that’s when the extra length at the front became evident. Oh well! Still an improvement from the first version. 

Mukluk Dreaming

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One of the patterns I started dreaming about last winter was a pair of cozy mukluks – and I think this might be my year to finally cast them on. It’s been a long time since I ventured down the slipper route (in fact, I don’t think that I’ve ever finished an adult-size pair), something I attribute to lingering childhood memories of slippery acrylic house boots knit by church ladies. I’m happy to say that all my doubts were blown away like so many cobwebs in the face of the “new” crop of footwear design that is both beautifully considered and really very practical. A few of my favorites right now:

Wanderers: Modern Mukluks by Andrea Mowry are what my mukluk dreams are made of, I believe (especially that cream and wheat sample!). I’ve really been missing colorwork this year and I think this pattern would be so much fun to make. 

Also by Andrea Mowry, these simple Farm Slippers look sublimely cozy and would really show off some beautiful hand-dyed yarn. 

And honestly a part of me just really loves these Moonkoosa Boots by tiny owl knits (the part of me that was a new age kid in the 90’s and will always be a little bit of a witch).  I’ve had them in my queue for a while and just can’t shake my fondness for them, even if they’re not particularly my style these days. 

Whichever pattern I end up selecting, I think the wool for these will be on my shopping for our trip to Amsterdam over the New Year (which is the next time in the foreseeable future that I’ll be in a physical yarn shop, so I’m planning ahead!)

Picture: Modern Mukluks by Andrea Mowry, Moonkoosa Boots by tinyowlknits, Farm Slippers by Andrea Mowry

In search of a good coaster

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This week was all about deadlines of one kind or another, so I left all my ongoing projects aside and whipped up a few Calla Coasters. No, they weren’t on my project list for fall but it turns out they were just what I needed to warm up our new space.

The care package my sister Mab sent last month included a lovely single skein of a discontinued line from Malabrigo (I can’t recall the name right now) in a really warm shade of green. I used a pattern that was originally published by Purlbee, although it’s no longer available on the website. Funny enough, it turns out that finding a clean, elegant coaster pattern is harder than one would expect. Maybe because the object is so simple most people create theirs without the aid of patterns? Most of the ones I found on Ravelry were either specialty shapes or involved some kind of intarsia pattern, which just wasn’t the look I was going for. I think coasters are also one of those home decor items that always runs the risk of being quaint in a bad way, anyway…if I was making these again for my “real” house, I’d want to make them in a neutral, textured linen rather than a hand-dyed merino – specifically, I’d make these Cozy Linen Coasters out of the suggested Quince & Co Sparrow. Still, needs must! The ones I whipped up are cozy and effective – much better than the squares of recycled cardboard they replaced, and I could use yarn on hand rather than purchasing new.

I’m hoping for some quality project time this weekend – finishing and blocking a few more coasters, binding off and re-blocking the neverending sweater, and putting up a batch of pickles with the last of the cucumbers available in the seasonal market. I’ve challenged my sisters in the United States to a Murder She Wrote watch-a-long, so that will be my accompaniment to all this activity – I can’t wait.

Picture: A quartet of boring but effective coasters.

casting off & casting on this fall

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This week has been a little busier than expected, but for good reasons – we’re hunting for an apartment, finally! As we prepare to hopefully move in the next few weeks, I’ve begun sorting things that need to be packed or discarded. Thanks to all these lovely boxes from family back home, I’ve got quite a bit more stuff to move than when we first arrived in our city four months ago. So in the spirit of getting my literal house in order, here’s a check in on some of the projects I want to finish or start this autumn:

To Finish

  • The poor old neverending sweater – just a few inches left on this button band and a fresh blocking needed!
  • The bewilderingly orange shawl – two or three lace repeats and edging left.
  • The dreamy honey cowl – this is actually what I want to be wearing right now. The combination of an effortless pattern and this amazing yarn makes it the most enjoyable knit on my pile right now, but I’m still barely an inch into the fabric.

To Begin

  • Like every other person in the world, I’m having a macrame moment – even though I’ve made anything macrame before. However, I really see this being a lovely way to warm up and personalize our apartment. Courtesy of Pinterest, I’m imagining gorgeous wall hangings in pristine neutrals. I’ll settle for some little plant hangers to start, though.
  • A pair of fingerless gloves or mitts or whatever you want to call them. I’m saving some lovely blue cashmere blend for these. Maybe this one or this?
  • A new hat! I only brought two with me and I’m already wearing one every day, all day because my office is a little chilly. I’ll use some of the stash my sister sent from the USA to add a little variety to this part of my wardrobe. I’m thinking of something snug and cabled, like Ysolda’s lovely new design Laib from Knitworthy 4.

Not wool-related, but I’m also looking forward to getting my window garden up and running and making my first batch of kombucha this fall, too.

Picture: the only thing I’ve posted to Instagram all week is this picture of the lovely but slightly creepy lake in the city park.

Househunting

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I’m going to digress for a moment here and turn the conversation from my personal practice to personal space. The first thing that you need to know is that my husband and I are in Ukraine with an organization that assisted with our relocation and integration by temporarily housing us with a host family. The family is super nice and the apartment is new and beautiful by the most modern European standards, although its location in a village slightly outside of town does require us to walk an hour each way into the city for our jobs. But, it’s been a few months now and the reality is that living with two families and five different schedules all crammed into the same space is wearing me a little thin. The itch to have personal space has become almost unbearable; I  am desperate for a place of our own.

In the US or another English-speaking country, it’s not too hard to track down a suitable apartment and make all the arrangements in short shrift. Not surprisingly, all of that is really hard to do when you are living in a foreign country with elementary language skills. Then layer in the fact that apartment rentals work differently here to begin with – instead of centralized leasing or management offices run by a building owner, most of the buildings in our city are the old Soviet model, where families own the individual units privately and it’s every woman for herself. That means that you really must rely on personal relationships to some extent, in order to find someone with an apartment they’re willing to rent to a foreigner. So, we are chipping away at it, pestering all of our friends and my Ukrainian is getting all sorts of practice as I email estate agents and random listers from the Ukrainian equivalent of Craigslist.

I’m praying for a housing miracle here, and hopefully we will have good news on that front soon. I’m so looking forward to having space to finally unpack our stuff after almost eight months of living in transit, out of suitcases. To having space to personalize, to having the freedom to create my schedule freely. I’m already dreaming of some of the projects I’d like to make to help our hoped-for house feel like home (tapestries, plants, and table runners come to mind – more on that soon). Cross your fingers for us.

Picture: Our lovely city earlier in the summer. 

Special Delivery

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Yesterday was the most epic mail day we’ve had so far in Ukraine! Two boxes showed up from my sister back in the States. Now, getting mail on any occasion is a rare and special treat (we’ve had two boxes and one letter, plus one Amazon purchase  in the six months we have been here), but this delivery took the cake because it included 10 skeins of beautiful yarns. I mean, look at those colors! And don’t get me started on the textures. She picked out some of her favorites from Malabrigo and Manos Del Uruguay, so all of these are on the bulkier side and in really rich, unique colorways. I’m going to have some fun planning a few small projects with this bunch – I’m imagining at least one hat, some mitts, and maybe a French press cozy to start. For now just the sight of these is brightening up my room like you would not believe.

Picture: A pile of yarn in a badly-lit room.