Aug 20, 2017

Houston, We Have a Problem

In 1979, the phrase "Houston, we have a problem" entered the American vernacular when the astronauts aboard Apollo 13 discovered a major electrical fault that threatened their lives and their mission.

Luckily, knitting is rarely a life and death endeavor, but because we feel passionately about the things we make, it's easy for knitting problems to gain exponential importance. 

My current issue is all too familiar: There are too many projects in progress, and it's driving me bonkers. Here's a quick roundup.

Herlacyn Heatwave is is the assembly stage and would soon be finished, if I could get a couple blocks of concentrated knitting time.

Herlacyn Breeze is ready to cast on as soon as Heatwave is done. Technically it's not on the needles yet, but the selected yarn is waiting in the wings and clamoring loudly for attention, so it feels like a WIP.

It's in the 80s today, but winter is hovering on the horizon, so I'm knitting the lovely Grignasco Champagne into a simple gradient cowl or scarf (haven't decided yet) ...

and the first of a complementary pair of Colsie gradient mitts is already on the needles. (The shift is subtle, but if you look closely, you can see the colors fade from lake to teal.)

Working with the soft, delectable Champagne is so enjoyable, I couldn't resist casting on a shawl-wrap. There's not much to see yet, but it will feature a tonal gradient that glimmers thanks to the metallic flecks in the variegated Blue Heron yarn.

To counter this growing sea of blue, teal and green, I felt the need to cast on a large-scale Christmas Tree in bold, bulky red.

Two weeks ago, there were eight WIPs, but I managed to buckle down and finish both the Colsie berry and mirror gradients mitts. That "only" leaves the six above (counting the one waiting for cast on), but for me that's way too many. To add to the problem, I keep pausing to swatch for a future project. The motley assortment below represents just a smattering of the many stitches I've tested in the search for the just-right stitch.

The solution, of course, is obvious: Stop casting on projects. Stop browsing through stitch dictionaries. Stop swatching for future projects. Start focusing on what's already on the needles.

It's time to stiffen my knitter's spine and make it happen. Heatwave is my largest project but it's close to completion, so this week's goal is to finish the seams and start the borders and trim. When I need a truly mindless knit, I can pick up the mitts and work to bring them closer to FO status. 

If I can finish these two projects AND hold off casting on the second Herlacyn, that will effectively take me down to three active projects. Whew! That would be much more manageable, because where WIPs are concerned, three seems to be my magic number

How many WIPs are right for you?

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Aug 13, 2017

FO | Colsie Mitts Mirror Gradient

Knitting time has been scarce, so I've continued to focus on small, manageable projects like simple mitts and swatches for designs in the pipeline. On one hand, this is good, because small things are getting done. On the other hand, it means larger projects like Herlacyn Heatwave are languishing from temporary neglect.

That said, I've managed to complete another pair of mitts, and like so many of my projects, they're both functional and experimental. 

They feature a mirror gradient worked in one of my favorite stretchy reversible slip stitches, but there is a twist. I discovered that introducing a minor modification to the plush, rounded rib (left) produced a more compact rib (right). Look closely, and you can see the subtle differences. 

Both stitches are attractive, stretchy and fully reversible, and on the hand these differences are nearly imperceptible. (Plush rib, left. Compact rib, right. Yep, it's the same yarn, but the lighting had changed.)

Colsie Mirror Gradient Mitts
Pattern: In development
Yarn: Champagne (Grignasco)
Needles: US 7 (4.5 mm)
Yardage: ~80 yards

This yarn is delicious. The blue undertones in the Teal accentuate the hint of blue in the icy Cloud yarn, which comes and goes based on the lighting, as you can see from the photos. This yarn also knits up beautifully, and looks great even without blocking. And thanks to the superfine merino and silk blend, the mitts have a soft sheen and feel like a dream, which means I'm already fantasizing about wearing them when fall weather arrives. 

Meanwhile, I'm so enamored with this combination of yarn, stitch, color and mirrored gradients, I'm thinking of casting on a complementary cowl or scarf. Long ago, we agreed there's no such thing as too many mitts, and I'm beginning to believe the same is true for soft and cozy coordinating shawls and scarves.

Connecting with the linkups in the sidebar.

Aug 6, 2017

FO | Colsie Mitts Berry Tonal Gradient

It may be August, but fall is on the horizon and winter won't be far behind. With that in mind, I'm making simple fingerless mitts to add to my collection. It's no secret how much I love mitts and how often I wear them, so for me they're the ideal quick knit, something to occupy my hands as a respite between larger projects or when my brain needs a soothing knit after a taxing day.

As simple as they are, this pair incorporates several small elements that helped keep things entertaining. The first, of course, is the tonal color combination, which fades from rose and red into deep burgundy, and was featured in this post about tonal gradients and variegated yarns.

The second fillip is the stitch, a plush reversible slipped rib that's become a favorite, because the stretchy fabric produces mitts that hug the hand without the need for shaping. To change things up a bit, I began experimenting and came up with an adaptation that produces a slightly boxier reversible rib that's as simple, stretchy and attractive as its sibling.

Colsie Mitts | Berry Tonal Gradient
Pattern: In development
Needles: US 8 (5 mm)
Yarns: Babe (Euro Baby), Charlemont (Valley Yarns), Happy Feet (Plymouth Yarn)
Yardage: ~100 yards

As an added plus, these mitts coordinate nicely with my Dojeling Wineberry shawlette, a fall and winter staple, so they'll see lots of wear once cooler weather arrives.

There's nothing like a fresh FO to boost the spirits, which may explain why there's another pair already on the needles. I want to test how my stitch adaptation works in a different yarn, and we all know in my world there's no such thing as too many mitts. Win-win, right?

What's on your needles right now? Summer things? Winter things? A mix of both?

Looking for the mitt pattern? It's in development and nearly ready to send to the tech editor.

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