Rampant (plus giveaway)

I am not the type to have any sort of holiday knitting plan.  I don’t knit special things for Valentine’s Day or Halloween or even Christmas, much less time my patterns to coincide with them.  So you can imagine my surprise when I realized that I was bringing Rampant, the greenest socks I’ve ever knit, back out on St. Patrick’s day.  This is unnaturally good timing and very much not my usual move!

DSC_2553 smallOne of the most fun things about bringing back old patterns is remembering what was happening when I knit them.  I knit these in the summer of 2011, when I was taking the biggest exams of my life, teaching myself how to publish a book, dealing with the surprise arrival of a very sick kitten, and having my house painted.  They kept me sane(ish), upright(ish), and out of jail.

DSC_2538 smallThere was something about the combination of simple ribbing and a cable just fancy enough to demand a tiny bit of attention that created some sort of magic.  They held my focus enough to prevent me from dwelling on whatever the crisis of the moment was, and watching them grow gave me a sense of control and accomplishment (even if everything else in my world was sort of exploding).

On a more practical note (because I hope you don’t only reach for these if your world is proving challenging), the elongated stitches do a beautiful job of breaking up pooling in variegated yarns, the pattern is written in three sizes, and they’re likely to pass muster with either guys or girls.  I can’t promise they’ll be the knitting equivalent of therapy for you the way the were for me, but I’m pretty darn sure they’ll turn into lovely socks!

I’ve got a skein of the delicious Casbah by Handmaiden that I used to make these (in a breathtaking, deep, dark burgundy rather than green, but it is every bit as yummy) for one of you.  Just leave a comment telling me your feelings on knitting as a sanity preservation technique for a chance to win.

And, just in case you need some therapeutic knitting right this minute, you can use the code GREEN to get a dollar off the price between now and Friday.  Just put Rampant in your ravelry cart, click on the ‘use a coupon code’ button, and type in the code GREEN.  You’ll see the change in price reflected right away.

DSC_2357 smallComments left between now and the end of the day (eastern time) Friday, March 20, 2015 will be entered to win.  I’ll pick a winner, contact them to get their addresses, and arrange to send yarn their way.  Be sure to use a real email address so I can contact you if you’ve won (I won’t do anything with those email addresses besides notify the winner).  If I do email you, I need to hear back from you within 72 hours or I will pick a new winner and contact them.  Sorry, but I can only send prizes to US addresses.

Suspicions

My longstanding love affair with Handmaiden’s Casbah sock is well documented.  I’ve knit four pairs of socks with the stuff (Slant, Graupel, Rampant, and the as of yet unnamed socks), which is just about unheard of.  I can’t think of any other yarn I’ve used for that many socks.  It’s on my list of favorite fat sock yarns, and it’s one of those yarns I like enough that I just sort of buy it whenever I see a skein I love (meaning there’s a fair bit in my stash).

Which is why I was a little worried when I was knitting the most recent socks.  And come to think of it, the ones before that too.  Something felt…different.  The yarn felt thinner. I put it out of my head, I’d used (and loved) this yarn for years.  It was more likely that I was knitting differently (my gauge has changed a bit in the last 6 months or so, so I assumed it was me).

Then yesterday, as I reached for some socks to keep my feet toasty, all my suspicions came back to me.  I had Graupel on my feet, and they were nothing like Rampant or No-name.  My curiosity got the best of me.  I dug out all four pairs of socks, the yarn leftovers from all four of those projects, and the extra skeins of Casbah from my stash.

It seems somewhere between 2009 and 2011, the Casbah base changed.  I bought the yarn for Slant and Graupel in January and May of 2009.  Both of those are the thicker base.  I got the yarn for Rampant and No-name in June and July of 2011.  Both of those are thinner.  The same pattern holds true for my stashed skeins.  The one I got in May of 2009 is fatter and the one I got in September of 2010 thinner.

Now, it’s important that I emphasize that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the new Casbah base.  Obviously not.  I bought three skeins of it and knit it into two charming pairs of socks with it before I even knew for sure it had changed.  It’s the same yummy colors (just look at those colors…hypnotizing I swear) and the same wonderful blend of fibers.  It’s just not as thick.  Some folks will even like it better now that it’s closer to a regular sock weight yarn.  I, alas, do not find it quite as much fun to use for socks, but it’s still a lovely yarn for lots of other projects.

Has anybody else noticed the change or know anything about it?  Maybe it’s just these three skeins (unlikely, since they were bought in three different cities at three different times, but a girl can dream).  Now I’ve got to hoard my one remaining fat skein and not use it until I have socks worthy of its magnificence.

 

Sidetracked

The sock, it is not yet finished.  It was a productive weekend in lot of other ways though (if by productive you’ll take ‘relaxing’ and ‘enjoyable’), so I’ll pretend I don’t mind the delay.  This is, of course, a filthy lie and the delay is actually driving me bonkers.  But until we get that time machine sorted out, it will have to do.

But, I do have the ability to start Monday out on a good note for at least two people, Brenda (goodstuff on rav) and Anna have won the Handmaiden from last week.  And, as a little goody for everyone who didn’t win, from now until Sunday evening, you can get Rampant (that’s them over there in the picture, they’re one of my favorite patterns done with Handmaiden yarn) for free when you by any of my other patterns.  Just go to my list of patterns, put Rampant in your cart, put something else in your cart, and use the code “Handmaiden” at checkout.  You’ll see the discount reflected right away.

Come back tomorrow for the final Rabble Rousers yarn giveaway!  Handing out yarn has been a totally unreasonable amount of fun.  I’m hoping you guys have enjoyed it too.

Bits and Pieces

There is absolutely no coherent theme to my life this week.  This means there is very little in the way of cohesion in the blog posts either.  Sorry guys, it’s that sort of day week life.   So, in no particular order:

Rabble Rousers is up on amazon now if you happen to feel a terrible itch to buy it there as opposed to from me directly (sometimes it’s easier for folks overseas, so I like to have both options for everyone).

The marvelous Carol Sulcoski has a review of Knitter’s Curiosity Cabinet (plus one to give away) if you’re feeling the need for one.  And since she says it there, I’m guessing it’s no longer a secret and I can share too.  I’ve got a pattern in her upcoming book, Sock Yarn Studio, which comes out in October.  I’m just itching to see this book, I have a sneaking suspicion it will be awfully nifty!  Stay tuned for more about that as we get closer to October (oh god…can we please hold off on October…I’m not ready for the fall yet).

Despite the crazy week, I have made progress on the sock.  Remember what it looked like last time?  Remember what the finished one looks like?  Yeah, the partially finished one looks like the finished one down to about the ball of the foot.  That means I’ve got 2ish inches of plain foot and a toe to go.  With luck, and maybe some sort of mild sedative, it should be done this weekend.

And just as a reminder, this is the last day to leave a comment (scroll down to find the post) to win some of Handmaiden’s ridiculously amazing Silk Twist.  Comments close tonight and winners (plus one more giveaway) are announced early next week!  In the meantime, you can still get Whippersnapper (my favorite Plucky Knitter pattern) for free with the purchase of any other pattern through the end of this weekend.  Details in this post if you’re interested.

Rabble Rousers Giveaway, Take Three

Do you guys mind if I do this giving yarn away thing again?  I’m hoping not, because I’m having fun!  I’ve got a skein of Handmaiden Silk Twist to give away.  This is the yarn I used for the Tumult cowl in Rabble Rousers.

I’ve loved Handmaiden (and their sister company, Fleece Artist) for just about as long as I’ve been knitting.  They were one of my very first ‘grown up’ yarn purchases (the stuff that comes from a yarn store instead of from a generic craft store), and theirs are still the yarns I’m most likely to bring home from a trip.

They have a huge range of bases (Silk Twist is 2 plies of wool and 1 of silk all swirled together to give a marvelous shimmery effect) and some of the most beautiful colors I’ve ever seen.  Their Casbah is one of my go-to sock yarns.  The list of projects I’ve done with their yarn is long (and the size of my Handmaiden stash impressive).

Now I made my Tumult with somewhere right around 120 yards of yarn, and Silk Twist comes in lovely big 430 yard skeins, so I’m going to share the skein between two of you (again, it’s a nice giant skein, and half of it is more than enough to make a nice big version of this cowl, never fear).

If you think you might have room for some Silk Twist in your stash, go take a look at Handmaiden’s list of bases and leave a comment saying which one looks most interesting to you.  I’m secretly hoping I can get around to working with all of them at some point!  I’ll leave comments open through Friday night and pick a winner early next week!

Nearly Unheard Of

Shocking though it doubtless will be, I’ve actually done some knitting.  Yeah, real live actual knitting.  Not swatches, not double checking a fiddly bit for some giant upcoming project (I’m looking at you, next book…I’m looking at you with an evil squinty glare), not aimless yarn petting.  Knitting.  The sort where you start a project and then put in sustained time and effort and are slowly rewarded with demonstrable progress.  I’m thinking I like that series of events.

It’s the mate to the lonely sock I showed you the other day (cough, week, cough).  It’s actually a bit taller than this now (I’m about 4 rows before the heel flap).  There’s hope these will actually get done some time in the foreseeable future.  Should be nifty.

Oh, and the little gray bucket?  Target’s dollar section.  They had them in like 3 horrid bright colors, plus black and gray.  I got 5 of the gray ones and I’m fighting the urge to go buy…um…all the other gray ones and possibly all of the black ones too.  Someone remind me I don’t need any such thing.  Someone also keep me from buying beautiful wool felt by the yard and making myself a custom set of these to store all the yarn in the house.  Because damn, super cute.  And that’s sewing I could handle.

And, one tiny reminder, this is the last day to leave a comment for a chance to win the Plucky Knitter yarn.  Just scroll down a few posts and see what you need to do.  Winners announced Monday!

Lest You Think I’d Stopped

So just because my dining room has been turned into shipping central (with an annex in my living room and another in my car) doesn’t mean I’ve stopped knitting.  Though to be fair, the knitting has been slowed down a tiny bit.  If you lug hundreds of pounds of boxes around all day, turns out your arms are tired by the end of the day.  But, there is a wee bit of knitting to show, see?

This is the reincarnation of the little mistake I showed you the other day.  I’m loving it, it’s much better at this size.  And, better yet, it’s fast.  It’s only 56 stitches around (instead of the usual 64) because it’s so open, which mean each round takes just a bit less time.  I’m thinking I’ll be through the heel this weekend (this picture is from yesterday) and should be able to give you a better look next week.

Stacks

I feel a tiny bit bad that it’s been so long since I’ve put out a pattern.  The last one was Chamfer in what, February?  Now to be fair, the e version of The Knitter’s Curiosity Cabinet did go live in March, so it’s not like you’ve not got something to keep your needles busy.  But still, I’m used to putting out an individual pattern every month or so, and the longer time frame is making me a bit twitchy.  But never fear, it’s all in the service of a bigger project!

After seeing how much fun Knitter’s Curiosity Cabinet was, I decided to experiment with taking some of the things I’d usually do as individual patterns and combining them into a mini book.  That’s what all the things you’ve seen around here since March or so will be used for.  I think it will work well, but it does mean that the once a month timeline sort of falls by the wayside.  Now I know waiting’s no fun, and I also know I find waiting easier if I know what’s going on in the background while I’m waiting.  So I thought I’d let you know where things stood.

The photo shoot is this Sunday.  As of this morning, all the projects for the mini book are done and blocked.  I’ve even got proof!  The only thing left to do is sew buttons one one piece (anyone taking bets on whether that will happen Sunday morning).

Down at the bottom there are the Ruction cowl and mitts in Malabrigo Arroyo.  They’re reversible, and I’m totally smitten with them.  Next up the stack is the Clamor hat in Briar Rose Wistful.  It’s scrunchy and slouchy and looks unreasonably adorable on everyone.  Peeking out from the middle is the Tumult cowl in Handmaiden Silk Twist.  I think it might be my secret favorite, and I want the photoshoot over with so I can wear it.  Next up are the Fracas hat and cuffs in Schaefer Yarn Company Nichole.  My secret plan is to send them home with Lauren as a thank you for her help modeling.  And on the top there are the Uproar cuffs in Plucky Knitter MCN Primo.  These are knitting crack and you should never ever start making them as you won’t want to stop.  You’ve been warned.

All the patterns are done, and testing is wrapping up.  The pattern text is over with the tech editor, and I’m finalizing the other, non-pattern, text this week.  The plan is to have the files to the printer in early June.  That means the e version will likely be available in late July, and the paper version available a week or two later.

Alright, I feel better now.  It’s still not quite as good as having a pattern ready to go for you.  But hopefully it works to show that I’m not just lazing on the patio sipping lemonade!

One Down

The Tumult cowl is off the needles and blocked.  I finished it up on the drive home from Maryland Sheep & Wool.  It’s lovely and light and lacy.  It will look splendid on an actual human.  It looks less than splendid when laying on my back porch railing.  Alas, I’m not skilled enough (or perhaps it’s brave enough) to take a picture of it on myself.  You’ll have to make do with this for now.  I promise pretty pics when I next get a willing victim to play model!

 

Today’s Lesson

You know how all the instructions in every knitting book ever strongly encourage you to block your swatches?  Yeah.  I’m here to remind you of the same thing.  This time with a demonstration.

You see, I’m working on a little cowl.  It’s a lovely fabric, open without being lacy, structured without being stiff.  I’m rather taken with it.  The yarn was new to me (Handmaiden’s Silk Twist), so of course I swatched.  And because I’m lazy and only want to knit it once, I blocked my swatch.  It’s a good thing I did, because the swatch grew by about 50% when blocked (it’s because of the stitch pattern, not the yarn).

I took my measurements from the blocked swatch, did a bit of math, and cast on.  As I worked, I got to feeling a little nervous.  My drapey, open, lovely swatch was great, I loved it.  The fabric on my needles?  Not so much.  It was bunchy and stiff and scrunched up.  I was not loving it.  See?

Not horrible, but not what I was going for.  I kept tugging on it and pulling it and thinking it was too small and fearing it was all wrong.  But I knew I’d swatched the right way, and I trusted my math.  But I also know that swatches sometimes lie.  So I decided to indulge my paranoia and double check.  I slipped the stitches onto a bit of extra yarn, tossed the cowl in the sink (securing the ball of yarn so kitten overlords didn’t dunk it in the sink too), and gave it a swish.  I took it out, blotted it dry, and laid it out.  I didn’t even pin it out under any strain.  I just sort of patted and shook it.  It relaxed more or less instantly.  The bunchy mess was soft and lovely.  See?

Much much better.  The size and the fabric are both right on track.

So, we’ll call this a reminder that you should just about always block your swatches.  I’ll grant an exception if you’re making your second pair of socks using the exact same yarn and pattern and you just know it will work, or if you’re making a market bag and don’t really care about the finished dimensions.  But if you want the finished object to be a particular size, you really need to block.  And if you’re ever doubting your work, blocking in the middle can be marvelously reassuring.