Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The Heartless Hearthstone sweater

To be fair, I do not blame the amazing Ysolda Teague for my problems. I don't blame the fantastic Sun Valley Fibers, either.

You know who I blame?

Math. (Or maths, for you British-type folks).

Numbers.

Conversions.

Measurements.

Okay, maybe I also blame myself a bit, too.

Alright, so I have been madly in love with the Hearthstone Sweater since Teague published it. And I waited for just the right yarn to come into my life to make it. While I was at the Stockinette Zombies retreat in 2018, I found that yarn. It was a worsted weight yarn by Sun Valley Fibers-- in the "Bashful" colorway. A pretty antique rose with pops of goldish-copper. I bought a sweater's quantity.




The sweater is designed for DK, and I didn't get gauge with the worsted weight, so I did make some calculations to adjust for the difference. And I washed the swatch. So I was good.


Finally, I cast on, and I made some progress on the sweater. I loved it. The colors are beautiful. And I knit the sleeves, then I started knitting the torso (bottom up, thank you) and eventually I started alternating skeins to phase in a new skein gradually. But hand-dyed yarn is hand-dyed yarn, and if you're not alternating as much as you should do (which was precisely what I was doing), then you end up with more dramatic color changes than you intend. (Don't take short cuts! Why risk it?).



I thought the difference wasn't SO visible that I was going to rip back half of my sweater. But when I decided that the waist shaping I had calculated was too dramatic, I finally decided to rip back, and started alternating earlier to make the change less dramatic.

Then I worked my way through short rows at the bust (always a must-do for me). And at last I made it to my favorite part of the sweater: the yoke. Those beautiful cables along the raglan shoulder lines... wow. And I love cables.

But I did have to set things aside for a while to re-calculate the yoke decreases and pick the right size adjustment because of my gauge, so the sweater sat for a while. When I finally picked things up, I started working away at it and got so close to the end, when ... I realized I was going to run out of yarn before I could get to the collar. So I had to rip back a couple of inches, send a sample off to SVF so she could dye a new skein to match... and wait for it to come back to me. So the sweater sat for a while again.

In short order, the yarn arrived and matched beautifully. But I couldn't start on things right away. So it sat a bit longer. And when I finally went to try again to finish the sweater... well, I couldn't figure out where I'd left off! And of course I didn't have any notes, or couldn't find my notes... so I finally ripped back to the sleeves and started the yoke all over again. From there, the sweater worked up beautifully and quickly. The yarn blended perfectly, and the sweater was complete. I even got to wear it once before the weather heated up.





The sweater fits perfectly, and the fabric is rich, soft, and squishy. There's just a bit of ease through most of the sweater to make it casual without being sloppy. Per usual, Jeanette of Sun Valley Fibers provided the perfect yarn. The pattern in the format I used (as part of a collection, not as an individual pattern) was a but frustrating, but I'm sure that's not an issue when you buy it as a single pattern now.


Saturday, March 2, 2019

Are you down with EPP?

Crafting on the go? Serious crafting on the go? With artisan results? History? And a warm blanket at the end of it all?

Yes, please!

For several years, I've admired pictures of English paper piecing in progress. I wasn't considering getting into it, though. I've been knitting in earnest for years, and if my hands are moving, isn't it usually because I have yarn in them? So I didn't think I'd have time to take on a new project. I'm a Knitter! But I'm a Knitter who wants blankets and knitted blankets take forever. For-ev-er. I give you my mitered squares blanket that I've been working on for 8 years, and which is still not even halfway finished.




I've also tried crocheting blankets from leftover yarns from knitting projects. I have two in some stage of progress or other.

  


And then... just before Christmas I got this crazy idea. Why not take up EPP? There were sales on Christmas fabrics and quilting notions. I could have a blanket or two done by next year and won't that be amazing?

Whoa, there Kristi!
Slow down.
Hold up.

Maybe a smaller project would be in order to see if I actually even LIKED it. I made some coasters for my sister in law using a tutorial I can't seem to locate anymore.



Not perfect, but cute. And I became a hexagon addict. I'm buying up fat quarters and pre-cuts in grays and purples with the idea of making a ripple blanket of hexagons. I'm about 150 hexies in now. Aren't these purples so pretty? And aren't these grays so elegant? And the pops of green so fun?





I should probably learn how to do some hand quilting and binding on a couple of smaller projects before this turns into a completed quilt top and I make a mess of finishing the project. hmmm....

Links to sites and videos that I found really helpful for getting started (there are a bazillion of videos out there with almost exactly the same information... my favorite had excellent tips for efficiency).


  • Best video I found for making life easy and keeping things efficient with the basting and sewing together of hexagons, etc. 




Monday, January 28, 2019

Forays into sourdough



I've been playing around with bread lately. I'm a carbivore. I love bread. I've never been successful at baking bread, though. Not really. I wish I were the kind of person who could just throw some stuff into a bowl, knead it a bit, watch it rise, bake, and eat.

Let's go back in time, actually. Say... 10 years, maybe?

Around 2007 or '08,  I went to visit friends who were spending a year in Bulgaria.



 I found a cheap ticket and, figuring the opportunities would be few and far between to visit Bulgaria and stay with friends for free. They spent the summer in a village near Tryavna, Bulgaria with another American family. Off I went, and bunked with them.



It was a magical week, really. The gorgeous, old forests towered over us like in a fairy tale wood. It rained every day at about 3pm, keeping the temperatures comfortable and the flora lush and green. Every morning, we'd all wake up, make and have a shared breakfast, and one of the women would just whip up dinner bread of some kind (rolls, a loaf, whatever) so it could rise twice before baking for dinner.

By memory.

And it was always delicious.

I have since tried a million recipes, different kinds of yeast, loaves, boules, etc. Packages of dry yeast from every brand. And I've never been able to get it just right. Is the weather too cool? Too hot? Did I knead too much? Too much flour? Not enough flour? I don't know!

My BFF's dad retired a few years ago and took up sourdough bread. Every week, he makes a couple of loaves of delicious sourdough. We've been out to visit and enjoyed the bread immensely. He LOVES making sourdough, and after a bit of research, it seemed that sourdough might be the thing for me. I love sourdough bread. I liked the idea of starting entirely from scratch, and that a good sourdough starter will make it possible to have consistently leavened bread. I like that the starter can be used for all kinds of different foods.

On January 2nd, I started my starter. I looked at several blog posts, recipes, and websites to get the basics, and I'll link to a few of those below. But the gist of it is that I started with a cup of water and a cup of bread flour. Stirred, waited, fed, discarded, fed, discarded, etc., and waited a week for my starter to do bubbly things.



After a few days, I had enough discarded starter to make a sourdough dutch baby pancake. It was delicious. The recipe is here, though I omitted the butter and the cast iron (6 tbsp of butter? really???? Also, where did our cast iron skillet go? We used to have two...). Instead I sprayed my non-stick, oven safe pan with olive oil spray. It came out beautifully. I used store-bought eggs, pasteurized 1% milk, and splenda instead of sugar. It came out delicious, just the same.



I topped it with cinnamon/brown sugar/apples (2 tbsp butter, a bunch of sliced up apples I'd put up over the winter, some cinnamon, and 2 tbsp of brown sugar) that I cooked up on the stove top while the pancake baked. This past week, after 20ish days, my starter finally proved ready. I started feeding it the last few days with whole wheat, as well as all-purpose flour. It's not clear if it was the timing, or the "food" but the starter popped right into action! I used information from a couple of websites, with these links as my main sources:

1) For a starter-- one source is at Back To Our Roots
2) Also for a starter-- from King Arthur's flour

And then for timing the bread baking and actually baking the bread

3) For outlining the major timing points: The Effortless Chic
4) And for the main source of info from beginning to end: The Kitchn

And voila, here is my bread, isn't it pretty????









Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Ep59: It's been a while...

Find the podcast on iTunes and Google Play Music. Find Kristi on Ravelry and Instagram as krisluvswool, and on Twitter as @inasKnit. Past video episodes are available on iTunes and YouTube



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Thanks: 
  • To new and returning listeners.
  • To Bensound.com for music for the podcast

Many thanks to Yarn Geek Fibers for being the last sponsor in the In a sKnit podcast series. 

Giveaways: 
I announce winners for the Yarn Geek Fibers giveaway; the Batter Up KAL, and the 3rd Quarter Goals KAL. 

Knitting
Lots of WIPs, and one FO. You can find them all on my Ravelry page. 

Chatter and Good-byes 

I've been busy with a lot of stuff. After six years of podcasting, I think I've run out of steam. It's been a lot of fun and I appreciate everyone who has participated, listened, contacted me to say thanks, and who supported me through KALs, prizes, sponsorships, and more. I think I may keep up my blog at blogspot.com (rather than an independent website), so when inasknit.com goes away, please follow me over at krisluvswool.blogspot.com 

I look forward to new fibery, crafty, cooking, and other kinds of adventures in the future. Thanks for being awesome!