I still hate cars

… but I may be willing to make some exceptions. This weekend I picked up my very first all electric plug in car. So far I love this little beauty. She’s zippy, she’s super efficient. And I never have to worry about an emissions scandal since there’s NO INTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINE.

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This is not the first time I’ve blogged about cars. Back in 2010 I bought my first diesel, and I was so excited to be cutting fuel use and improving the environment. (I don’t blog about it often, but hopefully you’ve gleaned that this is important to me.)

After five good years (ok, 3 good years, and 2 years of increasing repair costs. But that’s what you get with an old car). I upgraded to a shiny new 2011 TDI. I was thrilled. I was one of those VW owners who bought the car specifically because I wanted high mpgs with low emissions. I bought it in July 2015 and the honeymoon lasted right up until September when the freakin’ VW emissions scandal broke (summary: cheat device; cars emit far more pollutants than they’re supposed to; something like 450,000 recalled TDIs – including mine)

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I did my research and determined a certified, pre-owned Nissan Leaf was in my price range. The certification was key for me, because if I’m going to own a car with so many new-fangled systems that only the dealer can work on it – I need to know the dealer is willing to back those systems up. These cars are supposed to be low maintenance. They have no spark plugs, no timing belt, no oil to change. Pretty much the only things owners need to maintain are the tires and windshield wipers.

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The biggest challenge so far was driving the car home. There were none of these cars available for sale in VT, so I bought mine in MA and then I had to make the 233 mile drive on a car that only gets 70 miles per charge. I planned my route carefully, and with an overnight charge at my parents I made it home without incident! I did drive the longest leg (69.1 miles) without heat in order to save electrons. But I made it, cold toes and all! That’s my dashboard at the end of the longest leg home, where both the miles ’till “empty” and the battery remaining indicators have gotten so low they just show little — marks. But hey, I didn’t hit turtle mode, so I wasn’t dead empty (literally, when the battery is gone there’s a turtle-shaped dashboard light) 

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Since this is nominally a knitting blog, let’s talk about what is on my needles right now, shall we?

Firstly, those knitted leggings are still moving along. I’m into the gusset increases (aka, the crotch) and so everything is pretty squished onto my circular right now. I can’t wait to get to the first leg, it’s gonna feel like the project is zooming by when I move down to half as many stitches.

Next up, I’m knitting a little Fernboro hat. It’s a simple thing, but I love how the feather and fan stitch creates those little ear flaps. I made some good progress on a long car drive last weekend. And I have another long car drive this weekend. More on all this driving later. (oh the things I have to tell you, dear blog, I’ve been so busy!)

Finally, I pulled a sock project out of deep (DEEP) hibernation so I could work on it in meetings. The title of this post was almost “zombie sock” because this project was started back in 2012. (that’s right, I have WIPs older than my three-year-old).

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But here’s the really big problem. Sometime in the last three years I needed those 1.5dpns, and I put the sock on a random set of size 0’s so as not to loose the stitches. And then I forgot. And also, those wooden 1.5dpns have broken. And I knit a whole ‘nother inch on the foot of the sock before I accepted that my gauge was WILDLY different than the fabric in the cuff. And then I went back to Ravelry to see if I could figure out what had gone wrong. I mean, I know my gauge can change over time, but I thought this seemed like a whole-different needle size. Which, apparently wasn’t quite right. It’s a needle and a HALF different.

So, sometime before next month’s round of meetings I need to buy myself another set of DPNs. And frog over an hour’s work. Two steps forward, one step back, right? At least the sock is out of the deep stash. For now.

Shortest Day

And so the Shortest Day came and the year died
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, revelling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us – listen!
All the long echoes, sing the same delight,
This Shortest Day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And now so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!

-The Shortest Day, Susan Cooper

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An important lesson in yarn types and gauge

And a new project! This weekend I cast on for my Fair Isle PANTS! A pattern I’ve been eyeing for ages…

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(Photo © Holla Knits)

The pattern calls for Knitpicks Swish Worsted. A worsted weight yarn sold in put-ups of 110yds per 50gm. I’ve worked with Swish (I even have some leftovers in my stash.) It’s a lovely, soft superwash yarn. And I totally see the sense in making leggings out of superwash yarn.

But I’m not always the most sensible knitter. Also, I decided THIS was the project I’d be shopping for at Rhinebeck. You may remember I picked up a sweater quantity’s of Harrisville WATERshed. Check out the details, watershed is also worsted weight, also put up in hanks of 110yds per 50gm. I felt brilliant. I spent a lot of time comparing colors in person in their booth, and picked four colors I absolutely love and was sure would play well together.

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Yesterday I did my usual (foolish) first step and skipped the gauge swatch so I could just cast on already! Nevermind that these leggings are knit top-down and the first step is to cast on 172 stitches.

I worked most of the waistband while ignoring that silly little voice that said something looked too big. When I finally got out my measuring tape I was getting a very obvious 18sts to 4 inches on the SMALLER needle size. The important note here is that the pattern gauge is 22sts per 4 inches on the *larger* needle size. How could my gauge be so far off? Let’s look at both yarns side-by-side.

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Well there’s your problem, right there. Swish is a worsted-spun, smooth, machine washable merino worsted weight. It prefers to knit up densely. Watershed is a woolen-spun, airy, nubby, hand-wash wool. If I’d taken two seconds to look at the yarn label on Watershed I’d have noticed the recommended gauge is 4.5sts/in on 6-8 needles. AKA exactly the gauge I’m getting on the needles called for by the pattern.

SO.

Tonight I guess I’ll knit an actual gauge swatch. I need to check my row gauge carefully because apparently I’m gonna be doing some math to figure out which size of this pattern I really should knit. My other option would be to go down a couple needle sizes and try to get gauge with Watershed, but I think that’ll compress the airy, soft nature of the yarn in a way I just can’t accept.

This. This is why I never end up following patterns as written…

Gift Along 2016

It’s just about thanksgiving which means we, the few, the crafty, are already thinking about holiday knitting. For the (third? fourth?? I can’t keep track oh well) something-th year running I’ll be participating in the Indie Designer’s Gift-Along! That Ravelry link will give you all the details. But in a nut-shell it goes like this:

  • Participating designers have patterns on sale from tonight to November 30th.
  • Knit Alongs will be hosted for all types of projects with prizes for participation, random give aways, and other special categories.
  • Prizes! Digital patterns, physical yarn, books, notions. This part is big because we’re pooling our resources. You should really check out the prize list.

To find which patterns are on sale for the next week(ish) you can check out the group bundles and pinterest boards (here). Or see the designer’s bundles (here).

I’ve got 15 designs which will be 25% off as part of the sale! From 8pm (EST) tonight through midnight on the 30th use the code giftalong2016 to get the discount. This is my biggest annual sale and I hope you like the selection this year. I tried to mix old and new, small and large projects so there should be something for everyone! 

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So warm up those needles, dig through your stash, and happy knitting!

What is greatness?

I will work to make America great. My definition may be a little different than that of others. But oh well.

I will work to help the poor, shelter the weak, feed the hungry, build my local community from the ground up.

I will take the high road. And I will hope for the best. I’m scared. But I also believe that most of us simply want what is best. We want a world with less corruption and less hate. We just see very different ways of getting there at the top level.

But let’s not forget that we live at the bottom level. In our communities we can work together, stand up against bullies, and make sure our ideals shine through. On a day-to-day level don’t forget those ideals are not so far apart.

More knitting tomorrow, I promise.

WIPs and FOs

I’m mostly knitting accessories these days, and a (not?) surprising number of them are for Windsor. I mean, how can I say no when she asks specifically for me to knit slippers?

And then, of course, she needs a new hat this year. This one is the classic garter ear flap hat from Purl Soho:

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Next up, a collection of mittens. I’m considering lanolin-izing these just like I used to for the diaper covers. I’m thinking that’ll help them keep her hands warm and dry on the playground. Sounds good in theory, anyway:

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And I whipped up some pretty fingerless mitts too. Because what is fall without a new pair of mitts for myself?

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Rhinebeck Recap

The NY Sheep and Wool festival this year was pretty much perfect. Every year people discuss the weather, the crowds, the animals, and of course the yarn. This year everything was superb.

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We were very near the front of the line at the 4H gate, it was a chilly saturday morning and if you don’t like lines this early arrival is not for you. But if you bring some knitting, some coffee, and the expectation that the strangers around you are just friends you haven’t met yet – then the Rhinebeck morning line is really not so bad.

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The animals are predictably adorable. Someday I want an angora bunny who will just sit in my arms and nap. The ones at the festival that patiently let 10,000 people pet them are such good sports. These goats were equally unfazed by the crowds.

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My favorite part of the festival are the people (don’t get me wrong, I love yarn too). My friend Amy finally finished her Boyden sweater. Also pictured: me and Susie Allen, both of us in sweater dresses from the All Aboard! collection. I love meeting old friends, making new ones, and I LOVE seeing all the sweaters, and being able to complement on just about anything anyone is wearing, knowing there’s a good chance it’s hand-made.

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And yarn. There’s always so much good yarn. I got a sweater quantity of WATERshed from Harrisville, except I’m not planning a sweater. Instead I’m going to knit some fair isle pants! Also pictured, the purple yarn is for a sweater for Windsor, sock yarn for myself (I’m thinking color work for those tiny skeins!) and for Neil (good ol’ brown.) In the non-yarn category I got aprons for myself and Windsor (the pink one has a lady-knight on it!) A lovely basket (which is supposed to be for yarn, but I’ve caught both cats sleeping in it already.) Not pictured: a sheepy mug, hand cream, soap, cheese, and blackberry marinade. Yum.

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Essex Junction

Ah…. Fall. Sweater dress weather.

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This is Essex Junction, my newest pattern – my contribution to the All Aboard! collection released just in time for Rhinebeck. As always, please favorite and queue it on Ravelry.

This one has been a long time coming! It was last february that a bunch of us designers decided to release a collection of sweater dresses. I knew then I wanted something with a color work yoke. I knew by April it was going to be another take on the modified raglan shape I used in Stammel. And I’ve been itching to do some serious corrugated ribbing for about that long too.

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Sourcing the yarn took a bit longer. I knew I wanted worsted or aran weight yarn. I knew I wanted either a variegated yarn, or a whole lot of solid colors. I considered a lot of brands but couldn’t find anything that really fit the bill until I asked twitter. That’s when Laura from The Unique Sheep let me know they dye their gradience sets in heavier weight yarns. Perfect.

This dress uses a semi-solid for the body (the Dove colorway) and a gradience set for the CC’s (Black Daylilly) which means just those two colorways provide all the colors in this dress. If you’re subbing yarns in you’ll need approximately equal amounts of at least four different colors for the chart.

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Once I had the yarn in hand the design came quickly and easily. I swatched and researched my little sleeve peeries. Some complicated math came into play to figure out how to make that chart fit the yoke in all sizes. But the knitting went quickly. I don’t remember much frogging at all… In spite of the long sleeves I think you’ll find this a quick knit!

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The collection, All Aboard! Features six dresses from six different designers. I love them all and wish I had time to actually knit them all… If you’re a sweater dress person too – consider the collection, it’s an amazing deal!

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October again

It’s autumn here in Vermont. Really and truly. The foliage is slow to come into its full glory. But we can all see it creeping up the hillsides.

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We’ve done lots of appropriate fall activities. Like apple picking. Chutney-making will come soon too!

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And there’s garden clean up. Did I mention we’ve moved? We’re renting which is a little weird after years of owning our own place. But this new place has a pretty sweet garden and I’m excited to see what I can grow in this deep river-bed soil.

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And then there’s the fall knitting. My yarn for the MorningWalkKAL arrived while I was away on business. But I’m casting on just as soon as I can find those size 8 circulars. I know I must have put them someplace safe…

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