Stiff – 10/20/2019

Since my return last week from helping eldest and family finish moving their household, I have done almost no knitting and no spinning. The weather finally broke and has been much cooler and we have had some rain.

The rain revealed that the vent through the metal roof that has been resealed twice since installation a dozen years ago is again leaking. The leak ruined the drywall soffit in the finished basement within a year or two if it being finished, and several years ago at Christmas, eldest tore down all the drywall and rebuilt that soffit using paneling that allows me to unscrew a few screws and lift out a piece of the panel to put a drip pan in the ceiling whilst awaiting another repair.

The leaky vent is one of the two toward the left side top, I sure can’t get up there.

The cool and the rain also bring in the winter stiffness in my hands and lower back that are caused by arthritis, thus the lack of knitting and spinning. The arthritis and trigger finger in 4 of my fingers is always worse in the winter.

With the various historical demonstration and craft events looming, some knitting must be done. One of the projects that went with me and never left my bag is a triangular scarf. This morning I picked it back up to work on. It is about 1/3 done and is a smooth fine fingering weight merino.

Another reason knitting isn’t happening much is that prior to my leaving, hubby gouged a good bit of flesh out of his back (I will spare you the gory pictures) and as I wasn’t here to keep it bandaged and antibiotic on it, it didn’t heal whilst I was away. If we keep antibiotic ointment and a thick pad over it and he doesn’t stretch or twist too much, he stays fairly comfortable, but he can’t reach the spot to care for it. Now that I am home, it is getting treated, covered, and I am doing all the driving so he can sit still. Riding passenger is always knitting time. The wound is healing now and hopefully will cease causing him discomfort soon.

I have some worsted handspun yarn skeins that I would like to get knit up into fingerless mitts before the craft shows. I never know how much to price my handspun handknits for so I went on an etsy adventure looking them up. It was not helpful at all. The prices are all over the place, the styles equally scattered. I saw short “wristlets” for way more than my much longer mitts. Plain bulky weight ones for double my fingering weight cabled ones. But then I saw handspun handknit lace shawls priced so low that the cost would hardly cover the fiber, much less the time to spin and knit it. I have several hats, a couple of scarves or mini shawls, a couple of large shawls, 1 pair of fingerless mitts with gusseted thumb. There may not be a lot more to sell if I don’t get busy.

I need to figure out how to raise this rack enough to use top 3 or 4 rungs without setting it on a table top. The rack is 5 feet high and at one of the events, I am limited to an 8 foot table they provide. Still pondering how to do this safely and securely.

Well, back to knitting, or they surely won’t get done.

Crafty week – 10/8/2019

The past few days have been busy with craftiness. Eleven batches of soap have been made, Woodlands, Peppermint/Cocoa, Lavender, Tea Tree, Vanilla, Pumice, and Calendula.

Unless that guest room is needed in the next month, the soap will sit there and cure for hardness. It only takes 24 hours for it to go from caustic solution to saponify to soap. Once it is hard, another day or so will be used to package it for the various markets. The holiday shapes, you can’t see all of them because of the picture angle, but there are snowmen heads, trees, snowflakes, flowers, and sheep, will be bagged in glassine bags with tags for the holiday markets. Plain round, square, or rectangular ones for the Harvest Market at Booker T. Washington Park will be banded with craft paper bands.

After long afternoons of 2 or 3 batches of soap being made, I have continued to knit on my Free your Fade shawl, a pattern by Andrea Mowry using Only the Finest yarn by Louise Nuttle. I really pushed the limits with some of the yarns.

I am on the last color and there is plenty of it. I will decide how many color repeats of it I want as I finish each section. The picot bind off can be done after any 10 row garter section. It is warm, soft, and very generous in size.

I continue knitting on the Hitchhiker scarf and have slightly more than half of the points done in it. It is small enough to carry around in my purse to knit on when a passenger or sitting in a waiting room.

Challenges – 10/3/2019

But these are the fun kind of challenges. Maybe still a bit stressful when you realize that if you fail, there is a lot of unknitting (tinking) to be done. I’m not a good enough knitter to bravely pull the needle out and unravel and then just pick up the live stitches again where you should have quit or not made the mistake, unless it is plain stockinette stitch. I never have gotten good at using lifelines to hold a row of stitches before a lace pattern.

My main current knit is Free Your Fade, a long basically triangular shawl by Andrea Mowry. The pattern comes in two yarn sizes, DK and Fingering. As I mentioned before, I purchased a lovely 788 yard skein of 97% Alpaca, 3% Blue Faced Leicester from Only the Finest fingering weight yarn at the Knotty Ladies Retreat in Black Mountain in August. The skein was actually 4 two ounce coordinating skeins and I had a pattern in mind which would have required more yarn, so I purchased a 4 ounce skein of a 5th coordinating color. The planned pattern called for worsted weight and made a wide generous trapezoid basically of triangles joined. I thought if I did it in fingering, I could create the same effect in a scarf. I started it, and didn’t like it. First challenge. I was probably only 70% through the first color, so off the needles and simple rewind the yarn. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with the nearly $100 worth of soft loveliness then. A few days later, whilst I was reading a friend’s knitting blog, I noticed the photo in her header and it was gorgeous, but everything she knits is gorgeous. A few message exchanges and I purchased the pattern from the designer, it looked like the perfect solution for the lovely yarn.

Challenge 2: The pattern uses a 200 yard skein and two 400 yard skeins, I had plenty of yarn, but because mine was in four almost 200 yard skeins plus one almost 400 yard skein, it meant that the fade patterns from one color to the next would have to happen more frequently and not in the same place in the pattern after the first one. OK, that isn’t a big deal, she says in the intro that you can fade on any of the 20 row garter sections. The pattern forms the triangle by increasing 1 stitch every other row, so 10 stitches over 20 rows, followed by a 2 row eyelet lace with 1 more stitch increase. But each increase row started with a decrease and ends with a stitch that makes 2 new stitches, thus the 1 stitch increase and the triangle gets wider and wider. There was more than enough of the first color to follow the pattern and do the written fade into the second color.

Challenge 3: The second color in the pattern is a 400 yards skein which meant that I was going to have to use 2 of the 2 ounce skeins to achieve that part of the pattern and an extra fade. Remember, the fades have to be done on a 20 row garter section and I didn’t want to waste any of this precious yarn so I played chicken and continued knitting, hoping to have enough to finish the second fade, three garter stitch sections and another fade with the eyelet rows included. Well I finished with about 80 inches (200 cm) of that color as I started on the next color.

And then on to the variegated skein. Now the triangle is getting wider and there will certainly not be enough to do three garter stitch sections with two fades and eyelets so I shot for only two garter stitch sections with two fades and eyelets.

As you can see from the middle remnant, I played chicken again, though not quite as close, I had about 120 inches (300 cm) left and on to the last 2 ounce color. I guess there will only be enough for a fade, 1 garter stitch section, and a fade with leftovers, but I still have the last 4 ounce (almost 400 yard) darker Merlot color left to finish without worrying about running out. This shawl is going to be very long.

I have 181 stitches on the needles now and the pattern ends with 215 stitches when you start the picot bind off. Her general instructions say to can make it bigger if you wish by adding more sections. I doubt that I will, I will probably use the left over Merlot, lavender, gray (there was a bit of it left), and the remnants to make a matching hat or mitts. I have some lovely Romeldale CVM fiber I am spinning that would coordinate nicely with this for a hat or mitts and I will have a new ensemble to keep me warm and cozy this winter, if it ever drops below 90 degrees here. But there is no climate change, the deniers say so.