About five too many WIPs

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For all my bad knitting habits (and there are plenty) I’m usually not so reckless about starting more projects than I can reasonably tackle.  Things started innocently enough — I wanted to use one of my Fiberista Club yarns (blood orange shawl) then I needed a project for the car ride to Michigan (gray sweater).  While in Michigan I picked up some amazing new yarn and wanted to immediately see how it would work up (yellow and pink shawl).  Then I needed a small project for our long drive to Cheyenne (brown sock) and picked up some yarn for Alan’s Grammy while we were there (blue shawl).  Blatantly ignoring my current WIPs, when a friend pointed me towards a beautiful shawl pattern I couldn’t resist casting on something new (blue/green shawl).  If you’re curious about specifics, I’ll run through them:

The gray sweater is Ivar using Knit Picks Palette.  I knit the rib on US3 Addi Turbo lace, body on US6 Knit Picks interchangeables.

The brown socks are Hermione’s Everyday Socks in Patons Kroy, Flax colorway.  Needles are US1.5 Knitter’s Pride Nova Platina Cubics.

The yellow/pink/teal shawl is Eyeblink in Stonehenge Fiber Mill Crazy, no colorways on these since they’re all unique.  I’m using US7 Addi Turbo Lace needles.

The blue shawl is Henslowe using a lace weight merino/silk/sparkle blend, dyed in-house by Your Daily Fiber in Fort Collins, Co.  Needles are US 3 Knitter’s Pride Karbonz for the garter stitch, US4 for the lace work.

The blue/green shawl is Westminster in Malabrigo Finito, Estragon colorway.  The needles are US5 Knitter’s Pride Karbonz.

Last, but certainly not least, the orangey-red shawl is Artesian in Love Spun Merino/camel fingering weight, Blood Orange colorway.  The needles are US6 Knitter’s Pride Nova Platina.

So, clearly, I have a lot going on right now.  Too much.  Fear not, though! I have a plan!

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My primary focus, one that needs to be finished like… tonight… is this blue Henslowe.  I’m knitting this for Alan’s Grammy and he’s hopping on a flight to see her in just a few days.  It didn’t start out as such an urgent project, but she’s had some medical concerns recently, so I don’t want to send him away empty handed.

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Though you can barely see it in these photos, I cannot properly articulate just how amazing the yellow/pink/teal yarn is.  I feel like the yarn and color scheme was made just for me.  I’m really enjoying the pattern and adore the yarn, but I think it’s pretty clear that they aren’t a good fit.  I’m definitely going to frog this one and save the yarn for the perfect project.  I’m seriously thinking about having another go at this pattern using my NBK in Matcha from our recent Fiberista Club box.

I’m pleased with my current progress on the Hermione socks but have stalled on things while I decide if I want to continue with the gusset heel as written, or change things up for a simple short row heel.  I barely wear shoes in summer, let alone socks, so these aren’t a huge priority.

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Although Westminster is my most recent cast on, it is a bit of a win because I actually frogged another project in order to use this yarn.  You may (probably not) remember that I was working on a pattern of my own ages ago.  I loved how the pattern was going, but randomly added a wonky set of increases during the final 1/3 of the shawl and totally screwed the entire thing up.  That shawl and this yarn have been sitting in a box for many months so I’m pleased to be putting the yarn to such good use now.  I was one lace repeat into this shawl before I decided to frog and re-start and I’m so happy that I did.  Remember how I always see things going awry but push through and end up regretting it?  That’s one bad habit I’m really trying to work on.  This second attempt is going perfectly.  If I can reeeeeeally push myself, I’m thinking about finishing this up to send with Alan for his sister, but doubt I can mange to finish and block both shawls in less than 3 days.

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The orangey-red shawl has been pushed aside for quite awhile, though I’m not certain why.  The pattern designer, Romi Hill, hosted a fun Egg Hunt for Easter and I found one of the pattern codes before they were all claimed.  I used the code to purchase Artesian and I’m really enjoying it.  I’ve started to appreciate the color but it’s definitely still out of my comfort zone.  If I self-analyze a bit, I think that I have suspicions that I won’t know how to wear the final shawl, so I’m not prioritizing the project.  I normally have the stitches bunched up on a too-short cable, so this is actually the first time I’ve stretched the shawl out and gotten to see how things are coming together.  I’m surprised by how great it looks and I’m excited to move things along again.  This one is forth in line behind Henslowe, Westminster, and frogging Eyeblink.

Finally, a project that I discussed at length in my recent Yarn Chat, Ivar is my first sweater.  After pointing out all the reasons why its so ridiculous for this to be my first sweater, I think I’ve convinced myself that I’m better off starting with a simple top-down raglan sleeve.  I’m not unhappy with the work I’ve done so far – quite the opposite, in fact – so I’ll make detailed notes then put this sweater into storage until I have a bit more garment experience under my belt.  I have so many question about fit, construction, seaming, shaping, etc. etc. etc.  I’m certain that I’m better served starting with something a bit easier while I figure out what works best for my body.

So… it’s a lot, but there’s a plan…  If you’re looking for your next project, I’m not unhappy with a single pattern in the bunch.  Consider checking one of these out!  Let me know what you guys are working on right now, too.  I imagine I’ll have finished or frogged 4 of the 6 by the end of the month, so I always need something new on the horizon!

Beginner spinning

Octoberhouse fiber

Let’s put a big ole’ emphasis on the beginner part of that post title.  Inspired by my fellow Fiberista Club subscribers who are getting fiber, I finally decided that I couldn’t resist any longer and I needed to try spinning.  On our recent trip to Michigan I managed to find one drop spindle – just an Ashford Student spindle, I believe this one is very close to what I have.  My Mom also sent me home with a tiny bit of fiber from her stash.  I know next to nothing about fiber or spinning right now and have a whole new world of vocabulary to learn, but I found the 100% Coopworth fiber to be a bit… hairy and silkier than I expected.  After wrestling with it for awhile and feeling like a total idiot the entire time, I lamented my difficulties on Ravelry and wondered where to go next.   The boards, always a wealth of information, suggested that I use the best materials I can afford.  This is a primary philosophy behind Slow Stitching and one that I’m always too quick to dismiss.  Despite my massive (too large) stash of supplies, I also hate the idea of waste.  I resisted buying beautiful fiber because I wasn’t sure what to do with it, then told myself if I did buy beautiful fiber, I needed to make something immediately usable, otherwise I was just wasting/ruining materials.  Surely this goes back to how I used to approach school work… I wanted to be perfect, the best spinner ever, right from the start.  No pressure!

I finally just took myself to Etsy in search of beautiful materials – isn’t that always the right answer?  There are countless gorgeous shops available so I just picked one that looked good and forged ahead.  Thankfully, I picked a great one!  The fiber above is from October House Fiber Arts (site here, Etsy here).  My package arrived quickly and was wonderfully packaged.  I’m not sure what is standard when shipping fiber, but each braid was tagged, then bagged separately.  She also included a business card, thank you note, and a little packet of stitch markers.  Starting at the top gray braid, moving clockwise, I picked up — Merino in the Poem colorway, Wensleydale in the Dried Petals colorway, and BFL in the Bloomingfields colorway.  They’re all lovely, but Poem may be one of the most beautiful fiber related things I’ve ever seen.  It is just lush.  The colors are totally up my alley.  Love, love, love.

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Although the Merino was tempting me, I decided to set myself up for success and start with the BFL since I’ve heard its good for beginners.  You can see my spinning above.  Honestly, I have no idea if I’m doing things properly or not…?  I could certainly benefit from a class, but there are none available locally.  If you have any thoughts or resources, please share!  If you’re interested in the YouTube videos I’ve checked out, let me know!

Video unboxing // May Fiberista Club yarn subscription box

I’m very late to the game this go around, but I’m finally here with an unboxing video for my May Fiberista Club yarn!  As usual, I cover this info in the video but I know not everyone is interested in 14 minutes of rambling.  If you just want to see what was in my box, scroll down or skip ahead to 7:15.

Once again, my yarn shipped and arrived without issue, even without the aid of my obsessive stalking.  I was on the road at the time but I believe I received shipping notification on a Thursday or Friday and my box was safely at my local Post Office by Monday.   Our shipments arrived in standard poly mailers, but Fiberista Club has indicated that they’re test driving some other packaging options, so that may change going forward.

Perhaps the biggest news of the month is that Fiberista Club announced that they’re ready for expansion.  They’ve opened some new spots in the current club and are gearing up to introduce two new subscription options.  Existing subscribers currently have the option of joining a garment club (10 skeins, paid for over the course of a few months) and sock club (1 skein of sock yarn, shipped monthly).  If you want full details, check out the Ravelry thread here.   While I’m trying to shift my knitting to be a bit more garment-focused, 10 skeins of a luxury yarn is well beyond my budget and level of expertise at the moment.  That sock club though…. you have my full attention!  I immediately commented to ask if it was possible to convert a regular pre-pay (I have 4 months remaining) to a doubled sock club.  The math doesn’t work out perfectly, but it’s very close.  On that note, I sound ridiculous when I explain this in the video.  Obviously I know that $22.50 x 2 = $45.  I was saying “around $50″ because the current club is around, though not exactly, $50.  Sigh.  Chatting on video seems quite easy, I know, but I clearly find it tough to not sound dumb when I only have one take!  I haven’t gotten an answer on my doubled sock club subscription, but I also haven’t emailed them directly, so this is no one’s fault.  I’m going to sit on the idea for a bit before I ask for special treatment.  I’m still rolling the idea around in my head because I’m certainly not unhappy with what I’ve received, but I suspect I’d be happier with 2 skeins of sock yarn.  The only thing stopping me from immediately increasing my subscription is the fact that I decided to join the Yarnbox Sock club before FC announced their new plans.  The pre-sale FC Sock Club option ends tomorrow, so I already know I’m going to miss the deadline on that bad boy.   For once, I’m exercising some patience and will come back to the idea in a few months once I see what both sock clubs yield.  

Next up… man, guys, I’m so wary of throwing too many opinions out into the Internet world because these videos have attracted quite the range of feedback to my email and Ravelry inbox.  I’ve met some buddies and some people who are very unhappy.  There are compliments, there are complaints, there’s just… people have a lot of feelings about a lot of things.  I love filming the unboxings because I think it heightens my excitement for something I may otherwise open, then just set aside (I’m remembering you, Birchbox and Ipsy).  I re-film the little intro bit only if I’ve been interrupted but the unboxings are always a one shot deal.  My ramblings are my true feelings and I can’t really go back and change my first impressions of our boxes.  I’m very sensitive to the fact that Fiberista Club is a small business owned by two people that we “know”, at least on some level.  I certainly didn’t know them before I subscribed.   While I expect a certain level of customer service and satisfaction when I spend money on something, I also realize…. running a business is hard.  Maybe I’m more understanding and forgiving than others? Maybe I care less? Maybe (probably yes) I realize that when you give yourself to a business, people like to take as much as you’ll let them.  In my experience, with my business, the more available you make yourself, the more people expect and want.  Through that lens, I understand that the club currently isn’t perfect, but it’s also not the end of the world if there are some hiccups.  I could go on and on, but if you want the final word without explanation or qualification, yes, I’m happy with Fiberista Club.  Will I continue after my 6-month pre-pay ends? I’m not sure yet.

If you aren’t following along on Ravelry, I’m sure this all reads like a bunch of cryptic rambling.  If you are in the club and want to share thoughts, send me an email or message me on Rav.  If you’re considering joining the club, here’s my quick & dirty recap:

Are you happy with Fiberista Club? Yes, happy enough.  After working with last month’s yarn, I would say I was very unhappy and considered asking for a refund for my remaining pre-pay.  This month has totally redeemed the club for me.

Is it worth the money?  This is questionable and is really my main sticking point.  I don’t think we’ve received anything bad, I do think that it isn’t always the same “value” I was expecting.  Every month we get some kind of fun swag (tote, needle gauge, measuring tape).  I obviously enjoy these items (check out the videos for proof, sometimes I freak out) but I don’t feel like they have a real dollar amount of worth.  Were you to add up the total and say “swag = $5″… I think that’s kind of a joke.  But I like them!  I don’t think I’d miss them if they were gone.  When it comes to yarn, I personally expected we’d be getting something closer to the $60-75 “value” of yarn in our boxes.  Some months have blown me away (February, enough yarn for TWO projects!) and some have been a disappointment (April Chromatique was amazing on first impression but I wasn’t happy with the actual yarn).   Overall, I think the boxes are always “worth” what they have inside them, but aren’t always what I would buy myself.  If you have the disposable income to get surprise yarn, it’s great.  If you don’t and you have a great local yarn shop, maybe you’re better served treating yourself to a once-a-month $50 splurge.  I’ll be honest and say that I’m borderline on how well it fits into my ideal disposable income spending.  I can certainly afford it and knitting is my prime (only?) hobby, but that $50/month could go elsewhere.  So.. ya know…

How are the patterns?  I have not been blown away by the patterns but I also expect a lot from my patterns.  Fiberista Club has started releasing Beginner and Intermediate/Advanced patterns and I look forward to seeing how this develops.  This month’s shawl isn’t on my To-do list currently, but I could see myself making one in the future.  I do wish that our patterns arrived with our boxes.  It’s only natural that clubs are compared to each other and I’m fairly certain that “the other guys” send a pattern picture in the boxes.  I want to get my pattern with, or in advance of, my yarn.  I can totally see people opening their yarn and loving it, then looking at the pattern and loving it, and just casting on immediately.  When we receive the patterns days or weeks later, the excitement has subsided and the yarn is much more likely to disappear into The Stash.

Final thoughts? In my ideal world, all shipping chatter would disappear from the Ravelry boards! Ha!  Some months I’m busy and don’t think about my yarn, some months I’m really excited and track that box multiple times a day.  I would rather Fiberista Club release a blanket statement such as, “yarn arrives by the 15th of the month”.  If the box arrives early, it feels like a bonus.  If the box arrives on the 15th, it’s exactly as expected.   Real problems with shipping are obviously a legitimate concern, but I think the group as a whole tends to get riled up during shipping and that heightens the tone of everything.  Instead of an issue being just about shipping, it snowballs into a whole mess.

Although I’m happy with my subscription, I decided that the referral link still feels like I’m “pushing” a club that I obviously have mixed feelings about.  I’ll continue to spend my money on the club, but feel uncomfortable unequivocally telling something else to do so.  I’d rather keep my opinions totally honest and not get a referral credit than keep things super positive just to push referrals.  I’ll never straight up bash someone else’s company, so I sincerely hope my comments come across as critical but generally supportive and encouraging.  If you are interested in Fiberista Club and have more questions or would like me to get credit for referring you, send me an email!

northbound knitting mcn dk matcha

A quick trip home

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Thanks to a semi-impromptu road trip, things have been really quiet around here.  If you follow me on Instagram, you can probably ignore this whole post because I’m reusing those pics.  I never travel with a camera, but wanted to share some snaps of our short trip home!

I call the trip semi-impromptu because we knew we wanted to make a trip to Michigan sometime in May to fetch our Airstream, but didn’t have a specific plan in mind.  My best friend’s sister (also a great friend) invited me to a surprise birthday celebration that could align nicely with the trip, so we quickly set a plan in motion.  I’ve mentioned it before, but the trip from Wyoming to Michigan is 2 days each way.  Best case scenario, no issues or interruptions, the trip is 24 hours… we were not so lucky this time.  We left in the rain, hit a near blizzard before the state line, then spent the rest of the trip in total downpours and construction.  We left Thursday, spent the night in Nebraska, and pulled in to my parents place at 4am on Saturday.  Alan slept in while I woke up early to run around Ann Arbor (3 knitting shops and Zingermans!) with my Mom.  The same afternoon we headed to my brother’s place to BBQ with his family, then hauled butt to Detroit to surprise my best friend for her birthday.  I’ve never tried to pull off a big birthday surprise, but she had no idea we were coming and seeing her reaction was fantastic.  We grabbed dinner, saw a show, and landed in our hotel around 1 am.  The next morning we woke up early to head to Ohio to see my Grandma and spent the day with her before returning to my parents farm late that night.

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Every time we go home, we end up driving around like crazy and this trip was no exception.  Ann Arbor is 45 minutes from my parents, my brother’s place is an hour away, back to Detroit is another hour, down to Ohio is 4 hours, etc. etc.  I won’t bore you with the details.  We drive 24 hours there, then drive all over the state the entire time we’re home.  After being on the road pretty much constantly for 4 days straight, my parents convinced us to stay one extra day to get the Airstream road ready.  Thanks to reasons that are even less exciting than this already dull post, the trip home too quite a bit longer than usual but we finally arrived safely home Thursday evening.

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I wish I could weave a more exciting story, but the trip was pretty straightforward.  It was definitely a necessary trip, not a fun vacation, but we always love seeing our friends, family, and old stomping grounds in Michigan.  Every time we visit, it solidifies that we have zero interest in leaving Wyoming… but also solidifies how much we miss our old life.  St. Louis is a solid 10 hours from Michigan and not along the route from Wyoming, so this trip also reminded us how much we need to make our way out there to see Alan’s family.  I’m sure anyone who has moved far away from friends and family can relate to this struggle.  If we could just force our favorite people to move to Wyoming, then open a Zingerman’s deli, life would be perfect!

Site updates in progress

On Friday, one of my buddies (thank you, Kate!) gave me a quick heads up that my comments were no longer visible on posts.  The posts still displayed the number of comments, but click into the post and…. nothing.  I did a search and quickly discovered that my woefully out of date theme had a conflict with the new version of WordPress.  My theme was so out of date, I couldn’t just do a quick little Auto Update.  I looked into the longer process to update the theme, then quickly decided there was little sense in pursuing a more complicated update for a theme that wasn’t responsive, didn’t give me a quick mobile-friendly site, and I wasn’t all that thrilled with in the first place.

Bottom line – I swapped themes and have been cleaning up the site since then.  Things are mostly situated but I still see a few weird spots.  Specifically, there are WAY more ads displaying than I would like.  There’s a conflict between the ad plugin that I use and the new theme, but I’m working on it.  I won’t overrun this place with ads, I promise!

If you see any major issues in other spots, please let me know.  You can comment or send me an email using those snazzy new icons in my left sidebar.

 

Yarn Chat #4 (Summer excitement, a finished shawl and lots of WIPs)

I try to get videos up roughly every two weeks, but I feel like our Fiberista Club shipments keep arriving later in the month which pushes these later in the month.  I’m just now realizing that the month is over and I’m bummed with myself that I didn’t get this up sooner!  Going forward, I’ll just operate on my own schedule independent of whenever my yarn arrives in the mail, so if it’s late, it’s my own fault.

SHOW NOTES:

My coffee cup!
Spellbound Fibers Air
Witchy Woman pattern
Knitters Pride Nova Platina Needles, its the Starter Interchangeable Circular Needle Set (bottom center)
Chromatique in Eye of the Tiger, fingering weight
Mizzle
Baggu Zip Top pouches – I can’t find these ANYWHERE anymore!
Scrap yarn blanket – I’m using Manos Del Uruguay Maxima scraps on size 8 needles.  The link is for a similar bias blanket.
Blue Sky Alpacas Melange in Toasted Almond
Land of Nod knit baskets
Schulana Grande
Cascade Yarn Lana Grande
Pendleton Mills scrap strips
Massive crochet hook – not exact, but very similar
KnitPicks Yarn Swift
Cascade Ecological Wool in Natural Grey
Malabrigo Rastita in Lotus

GIVEAWAY!

Watch the video for details.  Giveaway is open to residents of the US who are 18+.  I’ll accept entries until midnight, May 15, 2015.  The giveaway is now closed and the winner has been emailed.

malabrigo rastita in lotus

I rambled too much when I was talking about fiber content/having a home with pets, but my point was — I recently saw a comment about fiber allergies (somewhere, no idea where) and it got me thinking that I can’t possibly guard against any allergy issues.  Whenever I buy fiber for me or for you guys, it’s immediately stored in plastic bags then stowed away in boxes, but sometimes different types of fibers mingle together and it’s possible (though not intentional) that a pet hair could come in contact with my fiber.  If you have allergies, I sincerely apologize, but it may not be the giveaway for you. 

 

 

A lace weight spring shawl – Finished!

Witchy Woman lace shawl in Spellbound Fibers.  The base is Air, color is Willow Mist.

After four months of mystery yarn coming in the mail, I finally put one of my Fiberista Club shipments to work on this awesome lightweight shawl.  I love making shawls but I’m not always certain how to actually wear them.  Throwing one around my shoulders seems a bit… much… for casual Wyoming life.  I’d totally rock that look were I still working at a law firm in Detroit, though!  I usually just bunch them up around my neck like a big ole scarf, but that can be a bit too warm for this time of year.  Thankfully, this shawl is almost weightless.

Witchy Woman lace shawl in Spellbound Fibers.  The base is Air, color is Willow Mist.

Witchy Woman lace shawl in Spellbound Fibers.  The base is Air, color is Willow Mist.

This is our February yarn from Spellbound Fibers.  The base is called Air, this colorway is Willow Mist.  The pattern is also from Fiberista Club and is called Witchy Woman.  It’s so rare of me to use the exact yarn that a pattern calls for!  The pattern is worked on size 6 needles, giving the finished fabric a super lightweight, airy effect.

I love a pattern that mixes up techniques and this one is no exception.  Instead of working from the top-down (pretty traditional for shawls, I think), we knit the loooooooong edge, then picked up just under 300 stitches before starting the decreases that form the triangular shape.  The shawl is not difficult, it is a bit of an investment time-wise.  I’m usually able to memorize a lace pattern after a few repeats but it was absolutely not happening this time around.  I referred to the pattern much more than I’m used to and found my row counter invaluable.

I ended up changing the center decreases and, though I can’t remember exactly where, swapped some garter for stockinette,  Otherwise, I worked the pattern as written.  My only comment (not complaint) is the amount of yarn leftover.  I considered making the shawl just a smidgen larger by working a few more edge repeats, but since the shawl is work from the bottom up, I worried I wouldn’t have enough yarn to finish the body of the shawl.  I always assume I’ll have some leftover yarn, but I have a bit more than I prefer on this one.  This is a roundabout compliment to the yarn, I suppose.  I’m really a fan of it and wish every last bit was in a shawl, not caked on my desk.  I’m already planning to put it to use with another lace weight yarn, so no inch will go unused in the end!

Witchy Woman lace shawl in Spellbound Fibers.  The base is Air, color is Willow Mist.

Witchy Woman lace shawl in Spellbound Fibers.  The base is Air, color is Willow Mist.

Guys, would you look at those ridiculous walls? I need to paint our mayonaise colored guest room asap.  The original yellow-y creamy white is horrible, then I made matters worse by using the walls to take some excess paint off my roller, oh, about 8 months ago.

 

 

Summer projects are underway

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I know the rest of the country probably isn’t thinking about summer yet, but in Wyoming we have two seasons – Winter and Not Winter.  In my mind, any time that isn’t Winter is officially Summer.  At work, we’re closing out our snowmobile season and will make the switch to Summer Hours shortly.  This means – joyously – that Alan and I will have proper weekends (!!!) very very soon.  We already have plenty of summer activities on the brain – fishing, camping, ATV rides, convincing Radio to come along on our trail rides, visiting Yellowstone, cleaning up the yarn, working on the house, and just generally being outside as often as possible.

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The Jeep is finally up and running so I’ve kicked off my ode to Summer by driving him as frequently as possible.  I’m sure my devotion to this vehicle won’t make sense to most people, but I sort of feel like this Jeep is my car soul mate.  I love it.  It’s loud and incredibly slow and still a little stinky.  It doesn’t start particularly well on cold mornings and will randomly shut down if I give it too much gas without letting it warm up.   The radio only works roughly half of the time and, even then, the only station that works is classic country… but man… I feel great affection for this vehicle.  I happen to be lucky enough to have a brand new pickup truck as my proper vehicle so it drives Alan crazy that I insist upon driving a $600 hunk of junk, but the Jeep just speaks to me.  With the windows down, aviators on, and some classic country (sometimes), driving it just feels like Summer.

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Not a moment too soon, I got word from Michigan that my Airstream is finally home from the guys who were doing the exterior restoration!  Alan and I don’t have time for a full-blown trip home to see our families, but we’re going to make a quick run to Michigan to pick up the Airstream and officially bring her home to Wyoming.  The trip is 24 hours each way, so this is just a means to an end… no fun road trips to be had just yet…

1963 Airstream Tradewind

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Check out that Before and After!  We’ll tackle interior work ourselves, but the exterior is now good to go.  Where possible, our restorer popped some of the smaller dents.  Some of the end cap pieces couldn’t be fixed, so they were replaced thanks to a donor Airstream.  He also cleaned up the badges and polished her a mirror-like shine.  I think we started talking about the Airstream what… a year and a half, two years ago?… so I’m honestly not certain if we’ll do a proper interior renovation or just rip out the carpet and buy a new mattress and get straight to camping.  We’ll decide once she’s here and we really know what we’re up against.  I’m generally not one for naming inanimate objects, but vehicles are obviously the exception to that rule.  A vehicle as magical as an Airstream, especially one polished to perfection, surely needs a suitable name but I’ve been thinking about it for well over a year and haven’t settled on one yet.  Once she’s moved home and we get to know her a little better, I’m sure her name will become clear.

We’re still waking up to little bits of snow every morning, but I’m not letting that get me down!  Summer is well on its way and things are looking preeeetty good from here.

A Good Yarn makes A Good Hat

A Good Yarn Sarasota Lornas Lace Shepherd Sock

This yarn was provided to me by Stitchcraft Marketing for A Good Yarn Sarasota.  I was not provided with additional compensation nor obligated to write a positive review.

I recently had the chance to check out this gorgeous skein of Shepherd Sock yarn, custom dyed by Lorna’s Laces for A Good Yarn Sarasota.  In the Muggle world, the yarn is inspired by Florida State and is a spot-on version of their trademark Garnet and Gold.  As a more magically inclined person, I heard the words Garnet and Gold and thought – as any good Gryffindor would, of course – surely I can put that to good use!  In the Hogwarts world, these are obviously house colors, perfect for a slouchy hat to keep ones head warm in the library or while spectating a Quidditch game.  I’m a bit old to be attending Hogwarts these days, so Molly (Weasley, of course) and I got to work coming up with an appropriately magical hat.  Molly’s forte is generally of the jumper variety, but she can certainly put some self-striping sock yarn to good use!

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A Good Yarn Sarasota Lornas Lace Shepherd Sock

As a self-striping yarn, my primary goal was to let those stripes shine through as much as possible.  I should note, I tested the yarn on a set of fingerless mitts and socks first, and in all versions the yarn stripes wonderfully. This is the joy of self-striping yarn – just pick your project and knit away.  There’s no need to coax the yarn into stripes or alternate colors because the yarn is expertly dyed to have the stripes just naturally occur.  I had my heart set on a wide stripe and was thrilled to eventually stumble on the perfect stitch count for these bold, rugby-style stripes, sure to do any Gryffindor proud.  After a 2×2 rib for the brim, the hat relies on just a few well placed dropped stitches for added slouchiness without throwing off the wide stripes.  If you haven’t intentionally dropped stitches before, no worries!  This was my first time recklessly letting that ladder fall from my knitting and it’s, pardon the pun, almost like magic.

Shepherd Sock has been called the ultimate sock yarn, and I have to agree with that statement.  It’s an 80/20 Superwash Merino/Nylon blend that’s machine washable.  With 430 yards to a skein, one was plenty for the finished hat – I could probably even eek out another headband or short fingerless mitts.  I found the yarn smooth, easy to work with, and saw great stitch definition.  My finished hat is soft but sturdy.  I knit the entire thing on size 3 needles, a bit of a jump up from my normal sock choice, to get a nice slouchy fabric.  I  have no doubt that the yarn would make a great pair of hard wearing socks as intended.  I’m a shawl lover, of course, and could easily see putting a ton of different colorways to work on a shawl before long.

harry potter hat3

Side note: How may Harry Potter appropriate places do you have in your house?  Have you ever looked around and thought, darn, I need something that looks like Hogwarts! I almost put my personal Padfoot to work on the shoot, but I decided to let her have the day off.

Gryffindor House Hat

harry potter hat

Supplies

1 skein of Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock in Florida State from A Good Yarn Sarasota
Size 3 (4.5 mm) circular needle
stitch marker
measuring tape
scissors
tapestry needle

Additional Info

Here’s a great video from Eunny Jang showing an intentionally dropped stitch.  She talks about a few different types, but you literally just need to watch from 1:50 to 2:08 here.  In her video, the ladders are anchored with yarn overs. I chose to anchor mine with kfb stitches.

Gauge

My relaxed (as it sits, no stretching) 2×2 rib is measuring 9 stitches and 9 rows per inch, stockinette is 8 stitches and 9 rows per inch.

bk2tog [brioche knit 2 together]: knit next knit stitch together with its paired yarnover

YOS [yarn over slip]: bring yarn forward, slip 1 purlwise, bring yarn over right needle

The Pattern

Loosely cast on an even number of stitches.

Set Up Row: *YOS, k1, repeat from * to end of row.

Row 1: *YOS, bk2tog, repeat from * to end of row.

Directions

Cast on 140 stitches, join and place marker.

Knit 2×2 rib for 2.5 inches.

On the next round – k3, kfb, k3, kfb, k3, kfb, k3, kfb, then knit to the end of the round.  These 4 kfb stitches will anchor our dropped stitch ladders.

Knit every round until piece measures 5 inches from brim for a total length of 7.5 inches.

Drop stitch round – k3, then slip the first stitch off your left needle. Wiggle the fabric a bit to allow the ladder to start to form. You don’t need to drop these all the way down to the brim yet, just ensure that they are successfully off the needle. k4, drop the first stitch off your left needle, k4 drop the first stitch off your left needle, knit 4, drop the first stitch off your left needle.  Knit to the end of the round.

If you’re nervous about dropping the correct stitches, you can easily find the location of the kfb down by the brim.  Look for the horizontal bands going across a stitch – this is the “knit back” part of your kfb stitch.  We’re dropping the first stitch of these increases, so just find their location on the brim, then follow it directly up to the corresponding stitch on your needle.

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You should now have 140 stitches on your needle

Decrease Rounds

(k18, k2tog) repeat to end
(k17, k2tog) repeat to end
(k16, k2tog) repeat to end
(k15, k2tog) repeat to end
(k14, k2tog) repeat to ens
(k13, k2tog) repeat to end
(k12, k2tog) repeat to end
(k11, k2tog) repeat to end
(k10, k2tog) repeat to end
(k9, k2tog) repeat to end
(k8, k2tog) repeat to end
(k7, k2tog) repeat to end
(k6, k2tog) repeat to end
(k5, k2tog) repeat to end
(k4, k2tog) repeat to end
(k3, k2tog) repeat to end
(k2, k2tog) repeat to end
(k1, k2tog) repeat to end
(k2tog) repeat to end

Cut yarn, thread through remaining stitches, pull closed and weave in ends.  Wiggle your dropped stitches so the ladders open up all the way down the the brim.  Your hat is now complete. Wear it with Gryffindor pride!