So, what do you all think about the new banner for the blog, eh? I don’t know about you, but I LOVE IT. It was designed by wonderful Danny as a gift, and I think he did an amazing job! I feel like I should come up with a name for my new cute little logo sheep. Any ideas?
We’ve FINALLY been getting some rain lately. Actually, we’ve been getting lots of rain. Days of it. In fact, we haven’t had a good rainy winter like this in a few years. I’ve really enjoyed seeing what the locals have been wearing while they brave the wet Bay Area winter weather. There have been many colorful rain boots, some funny looking rain ponchos, and, most importantly, a whole lotta cozy knitwear. Folks have really been digging out their hats, massive scarves, and thick sweaters from their closets to stay warm. It’s as if they are all thinking, YES, FINALLY, I CAN NOW WEAR ALL THE KNITTED THINGS I OWN.
Or maybe that’s just me.
My favorite go-to accessory for practically every day this month has been my slouchy teal Rose Red beret. I know I’ve mentioned this hat a few times already, but I just love it to death. With all the wearings, the Wensleydale Longwool yarn has a developed a soft longwool fuzzy halo now, which is beautiful.
The rainy days have also made for really great knitting weather this week. It’s been so lovely knitting while tucked under blankets on our couch and listening to the rain patter against the windows. I’ve been working away on my Swing Dress, which I am knitting entirely out of wool yarns already in my stash, including leftovers and yarns that I’ve picked up from various local thrift shops and creative reuse stores. I’m finally finished with the two bottom tiers of the skirt.
Here is the bottom tier.
And the top tier.
From this point, I will knit the tiers together so that they are layered together. Next I will continue knitting and the stitches will gradually decrease to narrow the skirt until I get to the hips/lower waist. Then, the lovely cable patterning will begin for the waist and bust, which is the part that I am really looking forward to working on. I will be so, so happy when I get there. There’s a whole lot of knitting going on with this full circle skirt. It can be downright exhausting knitting such long rounds. To give you an idea, the cast on for the skirt tiers is 450 stitches, and, as you can imagine, each round can seem interminable. Thankfully, both tiers are made up of simple lace patterns, so that has kept my interest.
One thing I haven’t mentioned yet about the Swing Dress is that I am attempting to knit the entire thing using the Continental Method of knitting, which has been incredibly good practice so far. I’ve been an English style knitter ever since I taught myself to knit when I was a preteen, but over the years I’ve heard lots of good things about knitting Continental, like being able to knit faster and create more even stitches, as well as it being easier on the hands. So, I’m giving it a shot. I think having the know-how of both knitting styles will help me be a more rounded knitter and maybe even a better knitting instructor.
I think I’ve finally got the Continental knit stitch down, including knitting basic lace pattern stitches (YO, K2tog, SSK, etc.). I’m still getting the hang of Continental purling, though. I haven’t practiced it much, but I did have to purl some rounds in the pattern repeat for the top skirt tier, which is a fan and feather lace pattern. For a while I tried the more traditional Continental purl, but I found it incredibly awkward to tension the yarn. So, after watching a few YouTube videos, I learned about the Norwegian Purl, which I remembered a knitter friend telling me about a while back, and once I got my brain wrapped around it, I decided to stick with it.
Overall, I’m pretty excited about this dress project right now and happy with its progress, but it’s had a very rough start, which I talked about in a previous post. I have learned that it is INCREDIBLY easy to twist the cast on row when working with 450 stitches in the round. I don’t think I’ve ever knit in the round with quite so many stitches in my life. For this pattern, both skirt tiers have to be cast on separately, and I ended up with Mobius loops for each of the tiers at least twice, which means that I had to frog and start completely over multiple times. Danny can attest that there were many curses and tears shed while sitting on our living room couch, but the good news is that I made it past this struggle and I’m well on my way. I feel like I’ve passed a hero’s test of some kind. My allegiance and dedication to the Swing Dress has been justified.
It is my ambitious goal to be finished with this dress by March. Why, you ask? Well, I’m hoping to wear it for an exciting event. Danny and I have booked a two-week vacation to sightsee and visit friends (the October newlyweds) in London, and we are squeezing in a mini trip up to Edinburgh, Scotland for the second weekend in March, which, oh, look at that, is the same weekend as the Edinburgh Yarn Festival. (Yes, I may have planned our visit around the yarn festival a little bit, but that’s not too crazy is it? Mmm, maybe just a tad.) I am really, really excited about getting the chance to attend EYF. I’m looking forward to seeing some wonderful British breed specific yarns. Some vendors I am particularly psyched to check out include Blacker Yarns, Jamieson’s of Shetland, Ardalandish Farm, Black Bat, Ginger Twist Studios, and Old Maiden Aunt.
So, yes, my dream is to be able to wear my swishy Swing Dress to the festival, but I guess we will see if that dream will become a reality. I better keep up the knitting speed. I’m thinking that I’ve probably worked through all of my bad knitting karma in the beginnings of this dress, so it should (oh, please, please) now be smooth sailing from here on out.
Oh, and another big annual fiber event is coming up here in California. Stitches West is February 23rd to the 26th. Only a month away! This will be my second time attending.
I’ve signed up for an afternoon class on Sunday, the final day, and, like last year, I’m planning on driving down to Santa Clara just for the one day. I will have Sunday morning to browse the vendors before the class, but I’m not sure how much I really plan on buying at Stitches this year, because I’m hoping to save up to bring home some special British wool yarns from EYS. I think having a limited time window to shop at Stitches will help keep any potential shopping to a minimum.
Exciting woolly things happening!