Monday, 12 October 2020

Simple Autumn Sublime Evie Top Down Vneck Pullover

My sweater knitting mojo has continued into Autumn with my Sublime Evie "plume" (discontinued) version of Heidi Kirrmaier's "Simple Summer Tweed Top Down V-Neck Pullover" (rav only), started on 17 August and finished 2 October 2020. I have used this yarn before in an ice blue colour to knit a Findlay Sweater by Kate Heppell (Knit Now magazine issue 61) when I dressed my family up as emotions from Pixar's Inside Out for Halloween 2017 and I needed the perfect Sadness pullover. I loved knitting my Sadness jumper and I love wearing it, even though it's not a shade of blue that does me any favours, except for the fact that I have two small children, the smallest of whom always seems to be covered in something red, sticky, and probably tomato-based that, if it gets on me will never come out and it will definitely show. I don't particularly enjoy yelling "argh, no! don't touch me! Aah! What have you done?!?" at my children so I don't wear it very often.

When I saw that Sublime was discontinuing Evie I snapped up a SQ (sweater quantity) using what I bought for Findlay as a rough guide for quantity and gauge and I settled on SSTTDVn as a relaxed, comfy, slouchy pattern that I could just live in. I followed the instructions for a deeper v-neck and omitted the waist shaping and knit until I ran out of yarn. For top down jumpers, I usually split for the sleeves, finish the ball I'm knitting from and then go back to knit sleeves so I can just knit the body until I run out of yarn. And it is perfect. The magenta is one of my best colours, the yarn is so soft and cuddly, and the shape is a comfortable basic that I will wear until it falls apart.

I mentioned in my Abbyhill post that my left wrist was hurting too much to knit for a couple of weeks in September; I was on the 9th ball out of 10 of this. It was a particular frustration in a very painful and frustrating time, and was the first project I picked up again for a few stitches each day as my wrist started to feel better. I know it sounds super melodramatic to keep going on about an injury that 'only' kept me from knitting for two weeks, but it's not an injury that exists in a vaccuum - it had already happened for one week the month before and it is a chronic injury that has flared up off and on since I was 16 and it hurt in new and exciting excruciating ways, ways that felt like a future where the excruciating days would significantly outnumber that useable days. I've spent a lot of time thinking about what I want to make if I can only knit an hour or two a week instead of an hour or two a day and what will I do if I can't even knit that much.

Saturday, 10 October 2020

AbbyHill Pullover

Hiya, sorry for the radio silence. I recorded another episode of my podcast (three more, now) and I wanted to do a blogpost for my notes and I also wanted to write a post about my Abbyhill pullover but I was going to wait until the pattern was launched so I could put in the appropriate links... And here we sit (I'm sitting, I presume you are too) over a month later. I also really hurt my wrist for the second time in as many months only this time I really did a number on it and, honestly, it was bad enough that I had to consider I might not have been able to knit again. Fortunately it looks like it will heal all the way, or at least as much as I normally consider "fully healed" but I'm still having to take things slower and not do things that hurt my wrist. Typing hurts my wrist. yay?

I cast on my test knit of the Abbyhill Pullover by Ysolda Teague on 16 July and finished it on 16 August which includes waiting for the pattern to be updated after an error was found across the sizes while Ms Teague was on holiday and we had to wait for her to return to fix it. Three things: 1) errors like this one are absolutely a part of test knitting and 2) I'm glad she didn't take the time to fix it while on her holiday. Even if it "only took a few hours", if you start doing work stuff for this, you'll start doing work stuff for that, and you won't get a proper rest. I very much want to be part of a culture that thinks being on holiday means not doing any work stuff and that everyone should take regular holiday. And finally 3), that means I actually knit an entire sportweight pullover in three weeks. Hot diggity.

I knit mine in the sadly discontinued Cochrane yarn from Ripples Crafts Yarns in the colour "Berry Picking". Cochrane was custom-spun for the 10th anniversary of Ripples Crafts yarn, a 50/50 blend of Scottish BFL and Bowmont and it was a really special yarn. I bought two skeins, one Berry Picking and one Moonlight, a silver with the slightest blush of purple, to knit the Nissolia Shawl by Martina Behm from the Arnall-Culliford Knitwear "Something New to Learn About Lace" collection. Only, because Cochrane is a "heavy fingering", which is to say a sportweight, that wasn't quite enough yarn. So I ordered a second skein of the purple to finish the shawl. And the yarn was lovely. And the shawl is beautiful. But it was also, because it was a plumper yarn, bigger than the original, in a way that makes it somewhat impractical to wear.

Not a problem, I thought, I love this yarn so much that I will just buy more to make it a Sweater Quantity. But it was expensive luxury yarn and I didn't have a sweater in mind for the SQ so I just....periodically bought more. Which meant I had a collection of yarn that was all dyed the same way, but some of which came out noticeably different. Helen offered to let me trade it back for a batch all done at the same time but every time we could have been in the same place something came up and I couldn't make it. And now I finally had a pattern in mind, the yarn had a similar compisition and the same meterage, and I had several dye lots to juggle.

Abbyhill is knit bottom up in the round to the arm holes, then the sleeves are knit cuff up, and the whole thing is knit together in an asymetrical yoke pattern that gives it a more set-in-sleeve fit. I took my darkest two skeins to start the ribbing, one for the body and one split for the sleeves, then added in the next two darkest in helical stripes, which got me up to the yoke striping skeins 3 and 4 and then half of skein 5 and whereas 1-4 were different only in how much of each skein was given to the darkest purple splodges vs the medium purple splodges. The 5th skein, and the three in my shawl, was a lot more pink and, really, I should have been spiraling that one with the darkest purple to mix it all together but, fortunately, because the top of the yoke is somewhat horizontal the light hits it completely different from the verticle body and it's really not noticeable.

I love my Cochrane AbbyHill. Because Scotland had an absolutely terrible summer (gorgeous spring, awful summer), I've been wearing it almost every day since I finished, if only on the morning school run when it was still cool and misty. It's my first slightly cropped, oversized knit and I can see why this style is so popular, it is very wearable. I knit mine entirely as written, in a size that gave me 7" of positive ease from my upper bust, which was only 2" of positive ease from my full bust. It may not be politic to admit it, but I also like the idea of knitting garments where I'm not paying twice as much and taking twice as long to knit the same pullover as "average" size people, because we might be knitting the same size.

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Silver Blossom Tee

2020, The First Year of Coronavirus, contains distinct seasons for me, so far The Eternal Spring of Isolation, and the Summer of Sweaters. This is the summer I finished not one, not two, but three sweaters (and I have a fourth on the needles - can I do it by the end of September? September is "summer" in the UK which is obviously wrong, but it's what I have to work with). The second of my jumpers is Silver Blossom by Amy Gunderson knit in KnitPicks CotLin Dk a 70/30 cotton/linen blend in the colour "Harbour". Silver Blossom is knit top-down with a deep lace yoke and a-line shaping. I knit the largest size, 53" bust, which is larger than my full bust, without doing a gauge swatch but I really should have because I got 16sts/4" which is miles away from the 22sts/4" that the pattern is written for. Instead of being slightly larger than my measurements, my top is mahoosive. This is not something I'm upset about? If I knew how far off I was gauge I probably would have gone down a size or two? Or more likely knit a completely different top, one closer to the gauge I was getting.

Again, I'm not upset to have a tee with lots of positive ease. It is the current fashion for oversized knitwear and having lots of room means that on hot - and we do get a few, you'd be surprised how hot 20C feels in Northern Scotland - humid days there is lots of cooling air swirling around me.

Would I knit it again? Yes, in a smaller size. I like the lace yoke, the instructions are clear, I like the idea of knitting summer tees. Would I use the yarn again? Maybe? I don't love it, but it's mostly cotton and cotton is not a lot of fun to knit with. OTOH, it comes in better colours than most "summer yarns" and, while it's not the first thing I look for when deciding to buy a yarn, if there's not a colour I like I won't buy it.

Monday, 31 August 2020

Plum Incunabula Cardigan

Some years ago, I backed Karie Westermann's kickstarter to write a book of knitting patterns inspired by the evolution of book-making in Europe. If this sounds a bit niche, well, the concept may be but the resulting designs in This Thing of Paper have a broad appeal and classic sensibility that I associate with Ms Westermann's designs. Longtime readers already be aware that I knit a lot of designs by Karie Westermann, her name featuring heavily in my roundup of 2015 projects with links to some individual pattern write-ups. Ah, the days when I blogged a lot.

The Incunabula Cardigan went straight to the top of my queue but it took me a while to find the right yarn - and in the end I bought the recomended yarn, Blacker Classic DK, when it was discontinued last summer, in the colour "Plum", getting a SQ (sweater quantity) for less than £50 including shipping in a workhorse yarn that I knew would last. I used to be a big fan of Blacker Yarns but their management hurt someone I considered a friend and I went off them. But in a time when dyers are facing yarn shortages because the knock-on effect of lockdown overseas and british shepherds are burning or burying their fleeces because there's no domestic market, any local breeds of sheep is probably worth supporting. That said, my main problem with Blacker Yarns has always been that their colour pallet is usually muted in a way that doesn't work for me. "Plum" is...not an exception? It's on the border of colours that I like/look good in, a touch more rust than I would prefer. I can wear it, it doesn't make me look ill, but it doesn't make my skin glow the way blue-based jewel tones can. But the reduced price and knowing exactly how much to buy based on the pattern made it a sensible choice for an admittedly Autumn cardigan.

I knit it as written, after getting gauge on smaller needles, though I knit both sleeves before ading the cuffs as I was considering changing the length. It's just as well I did as I wound up with two different length sleeves, neither of which was the length suggested by the pattern. Oops. I mostly knit things as written, but clearly my written comprehension is, uh, variable, because this was not a unique occurance in my knitting journey. I liked the length of the shorter sleeve as a finished measurement so I ripped it back a few inches and knit the cuff, then ripped the other sleeve to the same point, knit the cuff, cut the buttons off my Red Rosemorran cardigan that I knit back in 2014. They were too heavy for the silk-blend lace cardigan and the buttonholes stretched out so they wouldn't stay in the holes, but they're perfect for my Incunabula.

After a glorious spring of gentle warm sunshine, our summer has been a dreich disapointment, rainy and overcast, not really warm but not cool and too humid for layers. Meh. There's a reason I list giving up on Summer as a reason Autumn is my favourite season. (Spoiler: they're all my favourite season if they actually happen, but Autumn is a nice, reliable season. The nights are going to draw in, the temperatures are going to drop, the leaves are going to fall.) And I am going to enjoy wearing my Incunabula as I crunch through the leaves with my little pumpkins.

Sunday, 30 August 2020

Two Years of Jennifer Knatters on YouTube

I know I have cruelly abandoned my blog, but I haven't abandoned nattering on about my knitting and my life. Lacking the time to write something out (on a tablet without a physical keyboard), I started a video podcast. No, not a vlog, in crafty circles a vlog is when you film yourself going about your day to day life. A podcast is when you sit down and talk to yourself (or a friend), whether that's audio only or video. A podcast.

I started out weekly, Almost two full years ago, but then K2 stopped taking naps, I had to record at night after she went to bed - assuming she fell asleep before me and it wasn't too dark and I wasn't too tired and I didn't have a terrible cold. I'm sure you're drawing your own conclusions about how frequently that worked out to be. But with K2 now in nursery, my goal is to manage fortnightly.

"If All the World Were Jumpers" is from almost three weeks ago as two weeks ago I didn't have enough to talk about and one week ago I was too busy. In it I talk about two of the jumpers I finished over the summer, "Silver Blossom" by Amy Gunderson, a cotlin dk tee; and "Incunabula" by Karie Westermann, a faux cable cropped caredi in the discontinued Blacker Classic DK. I was also close to finishing my test knit boxy cable pullover, AbbeyHill by Ysolda Teague in the also discontinued Ripples Crafts Cochrane. Those, plus socks, and a mitered square blanket round out the previous fortnight of knitting, and hopefully all of those projects will get their own blog posts soon.

But if you want to catch up a bit, please check out my podcast and, you know, like and subscribe if you're into that sort of thing. Ta!

Saturday, 29 August 2020

Hello, Old Friend

Hello, blog, it has been a long time! My last post was around the time my youngest, K2, started walking so I'm going to guess that chasing two small children around was what killed blogging for me. K2 is 3.5yo and started nursery three weeks ago; K1, 7.5yo, is in P3 so I finally have a little free time for things like blogging. And sewing. I bought a bunch of fabric and some patterns from The Wee Fabric Shop which had recently opened in Inverness and that was the week K2, then two, stopped taking naps. She's not the kind of toddler one can sew around.

This is, of course, The Time of CoronaVirus, The (first) Year of Global Pandemic, and a time when everyone should stay home, wash their hands, and wear a damn mask. Yes, there will be swearing as the situation warrants. Here in Scotland, our cases were very low, between 1-4 confirmed new cases a day over the summer, so they opened the country up a little, people started playing tourist (especially people from England - Dear People from England, we love and miss you and want you to stay the fuck home) and now our daily new cases are in the high double and low triple digits. This is not okay. Stay home. I know it's boring, I share the desire to feel "normal" again, for the rush of happiness that comes from novel situations. Coronavirus is novel. Avoid novel. Stay home, read novels, watch telly, and, if you're lucky enough to enjoy it, knit. If you have to go out, if there's something important enough that you must risk someone else' life, wear a mask.

That said, I am comfortable with my children attending in-person school. Inverness has, through all of this, remained lightly touched. We are more of a way-station than a destination for travel and the virus hasn't yet had a "cluster" in the highlands. I expect that by the time there is a vaccine (if there ever is one?), that will no longer be true. But, for now, we are mostly safe and both of our children have seen more happy since starting school three weeks ago. They never seemed unhappy in the lockdown, though everyone had moments of unhappiness, frustration, and anxiety, but since returning/starting school they've seemed more cheerful in general.

This is also a time of political upheaval. It is possible that all times are and that I'm only just now world-aware enough to comprehend, but I suspect this will be regarded as a pivotal time in history, should we go on to have a decent record of history. That sounds dramatic, doesn't it? As a parent, looking towards the future, I feel more fear than optimism. I don't regret having children and I wouldn't go back and warn myself against doing so, but I worry that their lives will not be as safe and as easy as mine has been. I worry that they will not want to bring children into the world they see before them. I am from California is on fire, literally and figuratively. I love California with the strength of my identity and I would never move back. Unprecedented droughts, unprecedented fires, and the looming spectre of unprecedented earthquakes and floods? How did I grow up in California and not know that one of our Sword of Damoclese disasters is floods? See? Ten years after I left, California is still "we".

But Scotland is my heart now, my home, my future, and my source of hope. Nicola Sturgeon is a leader I can believe in, a person of principle who values all lives, welcomes all comers, and sees the shadows of consequence cast by the actions of today. By luck, I think Scotland is well situated to survive and possibly even thrive for a while under climate change. And I see around me the will for an Independant Scotland to have the progressive politics that reflect my own values.

Because politics are the outward expression of values, I want to take the time in this, my first post in almost two years, to state unequivically that nazis are not welcome here. Black lives matter, and I apologise for my thoughts and actions that have helped prop up systemic racism and give cover to overt racism. I am trying to be better, I am trying to do better. Trans rights are human rights. Our trans siblings are the most vulnerable among us, and "feminism" that seeks to cast out and other trans people is not feminism. Immigration improves communities. Seeking assylum is not a crime. Fat-phobia is bigotry and hurts everyone. Trump cannot be separated from his policies of hate and and venial, grasping determination to wring every bloody penny he can from America and the world. If you support Trump for any reason, you support him in every action, and you are not welcome here.

Thank you, for your attention. My regularly scheduled naval-gazing life and hobbies blog will resume next time.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Skincare: Morning Cleanse

As you probably know, but in case you don't, I work part time for The Body Shop, and have gotten a reputation for being able to explain Beauty Stuff(tm) to people who Don't Beauty. I kept meaning to do a few blogposts about what I use and how I use it. A few caveats: I am not an expert. I have no formal training in skincare or cosmetology.  I was never interested in skincare until I moved to a foreign country and got a job selling "lotions and potions" - I am not au fait with any beauty brands other than The Body Shop. I lack cultural knowledge of British brands and I am 10 years out of date with American ones. I have dry (lack of oil), dehydrated (lack of water) skin, small children, and I'm in my mid-late 30s. Oh, and I blog from my tablet which hates html so no links, but Google is your friend. 

That out of the way, lets start at the beginning with a morning cleanse! Many years ago, when I started working at The Body Shop, I mostly used the Nutriganics range (now revamped as the Drops of Youth range) and my favourite product was the Softening Cleansing Gel(-to-oil). It was lovely. It was discontinued. Eventually I ran out of my horded stock and then I needed a new cleanser. I tried most of the ones The Body Shop did, a few of the Boots No 7 cleansers, and finally settled on Clinique's liquid facial soap extra mild (lack of capitalisation theirs) which is neither a soap nor extra mild but is perfectly adequate and I considered my search over until February when I got back from maternity leave just in time for our new Oils of Life Intensely Revitalising Cleansing Oil-in-Gel. Move over, Clinique!

The OiG cleanser is intended to be applied and massaged onto dry skin where it breaks down from a tacky gel to a silky oil, and then to a milky liquid when you wash it off (I wash it off in the shower, so no pictures, sorrynotsorry!). Facial massage is possibly the nicest thing you can do for your skin and the easiest way to "step up" your beauty regimen - massage promotes blood-flow, increasing the amount of oxygen and other nutrients reaching your skin, and flushing out toxins. Use your knuckles to save your fingers and really have at. If you aren't used to it or have a cold, your sinuses may be sore. You know the difference between good pain (this is tender because it's new) and bad pain (ow ow ow stop!). 

If you're pressed for time, and I almost always am, I almost always have small children banging on the shower door, you can apply to wet skin for a faster cleanse without the full benefits of the oils, but still getting lovely clean skin. The product promises skin will look revitalised (agree), look radiant (agree), and provided 72hrs of moisture (untested). 

I am a The Body Shop employee. I purchased this product with my employee discount. All opinions are my own.