Straight needles

DSC_0073 DSC_0078 DSC_0131 DSC_0141 DSC_0145 DSC_0154 DSC_0180The other week I had a bit of a revelation. I thought that the love for straight needles was well and truely dead. When seeing them in a yarn store I always wonder how long they have been sitting there. But a full set, from 2 3/4mm to 7 1/2mm, came home with me from our Christmas in England, and as I planned to cast on a new project for our little one I thought I’d try them out. I was hard pushed to remember the last time I used them, but I know I definitely taught myself to knit using them. I posted on instagram and facebook and queried weather people still knit with straight needles or not. Turns out there is a love/hate relationship. Some people don’t even own any, some just plain love them.

Me? Well I thought a baby sized cardigan would be a good experiment, to see how I feel about them. First I had to read through the whole pattern – which, of course, is never a bad thing – but I had to think in terms of weather or not I could master the pattern on straight needles. Worked in one piece from back to front and seamed under the sleeves it turns out, for this cardigan, I could, and I cast on right away… It was a bit awkward to begin with, I felt like every stitch I was going to poke an eye out, and I kept smirking as I couldn’t help thinking how I looked like the ‘stereotypical’ knitter (whatever that means) clicking away, needles flapping like wings. But I got in my grove and finished the back of the sweater. As I cast on stitches at either side for the sleeves to grow it definitively got a bit crowded on my needles, but decided I’d rather that then add any more inches to the threatening eye weapon. I cast off for the neck and begun working down the left front, and it is only at this time at which I lost the other needle. Only once in the whole project was I fumbling around for the unattached needle. I surprised myself! I finished off the other front and picked up the stitches around the neck and fronts to finish the collar. This took cramming the stitches on the needle to another level but we got there in the end. Conclusion? I don’t hate them, but I don’t love ’em. Perhaps for the perfect project, maybe a scarf? Maybe they just felt strange because I’m not used to them, but I’m definitely more at home with my circulars. What about you?

Pattern : Baby Ribbed Jacket by Debbie Bliss (FREE)

Yarn : Plymouth Yarn Worsted Merino Superwash Kettle Dyed (oh and I could do a whole ‘nother post on superwash yarn, ugh, can’t say I like the stuff, and this blocking experience reminded me why I avoid it. But I won’t go on and on because it all worked out, the crazy growth disappeared as it dried.)

Currently

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Oh there is such a buzz about the place these days. The farm is busy and bustling, keeping us on our toes, long summer days are enticing us to spend every daylight hour outside and with due date around the corner we are in that strange state of limbo knowing that baby could come any minute, or a few weeks from now. The excitement of all the above brings along this hum that has me here and there, this project and that, working hard to finish up deadlines, but also playing around with projects, just, because!

I have finished up one set of Miss Maggie’s knitted garments and find myself stalled for the moment on the sewing of the body. I had originally thought I would churn out a few sets at once, but they are taking me longer than I thought (surprised?) and there is a birthday deadline coming up fast. I really want to begin sewing her dress and pajamas (they look like pjs to me!), but having recognised that the hand sewing of the felt body is the part I am least excited about I want to get it out of the way. I haven’t sewn by hand, apart from the odd binding, in a long time and I think its just the lack of practice that is making me drag me feet.

Whilst I knit many in my first few years of becoming a knitter I can’t remember the last time I worked on knitting a toy. For some reason my practical brain would now rather knit a sweater or scarf – something that is useful, and has purpose. Mister found an antler in one of the pastures a few months back and one of the mentioned plans for it was to turn it into a mobile! Of course, it has been moved from place to place around the house, not evolving into any of the ideas we had for it, but the other day I remembered Susan B Anderson‘s book Itty-Bitty Nursery, and more specifically the pattern (!?!) that had ultimately persuaded me to purchase it. It’s funny how certain patterns will stick with you, and one day, having not thought about it for years, you will drop everything to search it out amongst the gazillion places you could have bookmarked it. And so, that particular afternoon, I did just that, dropped everything, dug out all my worsted weight cotton scraps and spent a little time on the first mouse…We will see if it amounts to anything!

On the flip side to the random cast-ons, I also find myself really wanting to finishing up projects that have hung around for too long. It’s time to de-clutter (isn’t it always!?). I have spent some time at my spinning wheel, which has also been moved from room to room the past few months as what was my ‘zone’ is slowly becoming the baby room. I don’t spend enough time spinning as I think I’d like, as I’m always surprised by how much I enjoy it when I eventually get down to it. I had begun spinning up some naturally dyed 100% Romney fiber last time I was at the wheel and wanted to finish up the rest before I move on (this has been hanging around, teasing me). So some I plyed, and the rest I left single, about 130 yds. I’m sure there is a cute little baby hat pattern out there which could use up this little amount. I love how this fiber spun up. Sure, I’m a little out of practice, but I think I like it even more for the inconsistency, and the subtle tonal changes of the coffee and rhubarb leaf pigment make for a bright and sunny skein. Baby perfect.

I have been squirreling away at finishing up some design work, and was happy to finally complete the knitting on two patterns this week – two different styles of child ballet-wrap style cardigans in sport weight. I am now looking for test knitters, so please contact me if you are interested. There will be more information in the ravelry group shortly with specifics.

In finishing those two designs, I felt like I could reward myself! Another cast on, of course! But something that I don’t have to think about. I picked up Natural Nursery Knits by Erika Knight from the library a while back, and apart from going though it once, it sat untouched until I returned it a few weeks later (like most knitting pattern books I get from the library – why I continue to take them out I don’t know). But one particular project stayed with me (I’m amazed at how yarn requirements get logged subconsciously) and I found Brown Sheep’s Cotton Fine, an undyed fingering weight cotton/merino blend, at my local yarn store which had to come home with me, just in case. This past weekend, I took the undyed and softened it slightly in a bracken dye bath, creating a neutral sandy tan colour. The photo of the skeins rather than the wip is more true to the actual colour. Nothing like freshly dyed yarn to motivate you to finish off a deadline. I went back to the library, found the book, and cast on yesterday. I’m only a few inches in, but I love the fabric this yarn is creating.

So there is a lot going on – and I haven’t even mentioned what has been happening at my sewing machine!
Of course, the challenge at the moment is to try finish it all before baby arrives! (I know, I hear you – ‘yea right!?’)