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Playful Stripes Cardigan and Leftie Shawl

Playful Stripes Cardigan

I finished my first cardigan. My first sweater, my first non accessory project. And it is adorable. As you can see it still needs buttons but I’ve decided to wait until after the oncoming blizzard to venture out and buy some.

This is the Playful Stripes Cardigan designed by Alana Dakos.

Playful Stripes Cardigan

I love the cute scalloped hem on the bottom of the sleeves and body. And the tiny burst of color around the sleeves and above the hem is just to die for.

Playful Stripes Cardigan

I made this sweater because I really want to make myself a cardigan. But knitting for an adult is a huge undertaking and I’m not sure I’m going to make it through. I have so many other knitting projects I want to take on fitting time in to knit miles of stockinette seems unlikely. So to test this I decided to knit a childs size sweater. This was a bigger project than I thought it would be. Despite it only being a size 4 it still felt like miles and miles of stockinette.

Honestly, it is physically bigger too. I dont think my niece will fit in this sweater for a while. I knit it to size, but I chose the wrong size.

I’m not off sweater knitting completely. But i have some other projects in the que first. I need something smaller, something that requires less seaming. And also a project made with insanely bright colors to help me cope with the always gray appearance of life in the second half of winter. I love to knit, but hate winter.

Leftie Shawl Yarn - Hand Dyed by A Hundred Ravens

This is the gorgeous yarn i’ve chosen for my leftie shawl. Bright colors hand dyed by A Hundred Ravens. I’ve started thinking of it as my Sunshine Shawl knitted to combat the great gray beast of February and I’m knitting it on US2 needles. I can’t wait to start.

 

DMC Top This hat in Giraffe Color wayIn other finished project updates, I knit up the kit ball of DMC Top This yarn in the giraffe color way. I picked this up while at Vogue Knitting Live. It is an adorable multi colored skein of yarn with a sewn toy head instead of a puff ball on top. Apparently they are sold out of the skeins on the DMC website, and the skeins aren’t listed on Ravelry yet. The yarn is bulky and knit up on size 9 needles and knit up in a single night. I cast on 70 and tried to knit tightly so that it wouldn’t be huge for my 3 year old nieces head.

I love it. It is simply adorable. I have another skein in pink and purple with a unicorn on top for my other niece.

Sundry shawl

Briefly I was working on a Sundry Shawl in red and white, but I was not in love with the yarn and I think I was knitting on needles that were too big for the fingering weight I was using. My current plan is to turn the frogged yarn into a woven houndstooth scarf.

 

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Stash Update from Vogue Knitting Live NYC 2015

NYC from my hotel room

I love New York and so I started this year by combining two of my most favorite things – Knitting and New York City, and let me tell you Vogue Knitting Live was absolutely amazing!

This was my first time attending VKL but it certainly won’t be my last. I was so overwhelmed with everything that I don’t even have enough pictures to give you the whole experience. I took classes with Susan B. Anderson (Knitted Toy Dragon) and Nora Gaughn ( Stitch Design Lecture, and Cable Design Workshop) and saw so many inspiring things I can’t wait to get working in 2015.  My head is swimming with ideas and plans and I am devoting a block of my day today to getting it all down on paper.

I’ll share more with you later, but for now you have to squeal over the new additions to my stash. Honestly, i could have taken home a ton more yarn than I did. But I really feel like the market place was about touching and experiencing yarns I don’t normally see. If I interact with them and know they are amazing then I can always purchase later.

 

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2 skeins of Worsted Merino Twist in Red Zinnia from Purl Soho. Super soft and squishy. The color is insanely saturated. I love it. Purl was amazing, they have all of the samples from the blog in the shop and for a tiny space they really pack a lot in. I grabbed a few fat quarters and these two skeins. I considered the single ply super soft merino, aside from being a bulky weight (which I don’t love) I find that single ply yarns pill a bit more and I dont want to deal with pilling right now. So this goes into the stash with the plan to make a great pair of fingerless mitts and a hat. Maybe I’ll order a third skein and get a matching cowl.

No, Purl Soho did not have a booth at Vogue Knitting Live, but really what knitter could go to their first real trip to the city and not visit Purl? Not me. Next Time I’ll check out two other great yarn shops – Knitty City and Annie & Co. A few friends of mine went over to Knitty City while I was in classes and they said that the store was messy, but really well stocked. I have to assume that this is partly due to the fact that KC did have a booth and that the massive influx of Knitters into New York made it hard to keep up with cleanliness.

 

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Jill Draper Makes Stuff- Esopus base in Ice Queen. This is 500 yards of a soft fingering weight yarn in an icy grey blue. Beautiful color and crazy yardage for the price. While I was trying to decide on colors Stephen West came into the booth and bought a few skeins of yarn in bright reds much like my Purl Soho skeins. First let me say he is super nice, but mostly he is crazy tall. Like over 6’2″ is my guess. He is way taller than you think.

Jill Draper had lots of great stuff, but since this was at the end of my shopping and I didn’t have a plan for it I only grabbed one skein that I thought I could match well with something from my stash at home.

 

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Swans Island Yarn natural colors collection 100% certified organic merino wool in 3 colors Tiger Lilly, Tarragon and Maize. I bought this from the New River Fiber Co. booth. It is soft 3 ply yarn that I think would make great cables or a nice stripey color block sweater or shawl. It is worsted weight, so some of the shawl patterns in my que won’t work – I tend towards fingering weight shawls. But working with a worsted weight will make things go sooooo much faster. This is the only other purchase I have no plans for. But I came back to the booth three or four times so i figured I’d take it home.

 

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A Hundred Ravens Tyche base in a Tardis in the Void gradient set and Apollo 400 yard skein. This yarn is destined to be a Leftie shawl with the yellow being the background and the blues being the leaves. This is crazy bright. Bright enough that I think I’m a bit insane for choosing it but Pennsylvania can get very grey in the winter and this will be a great pop of color to brighten a cloudy day. I actually bought 2 of the gradient sets so I could have some left over to make a matching hat. I’m thinking a yellow cast on then gradient blue hat.

Tyche is a very soft single ply merino, and the blues are so tropical. The ladies in the booth were so nice and every one of their color were amazing.

 

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The Marriott Marquis was on Times Square and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. The hotel was great. NYC was great. And I can’t wait to go back – both to NYC and for Vogue Knitting Live 2016 because I will certainly be going again.

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Socks for 2015

It is time to think of the new year. I am trying to get my plans in order, and part of that is a new knitting goal. I have found that this past year my feet are cold all the time. I have never really needed socks before this – except to work out. But now i wear them all the time. I sleep in them. So it is time to give them a higher priority in my knitting que so that by next fall winter I’ll have a nice collection of handknit socks.

I’d like to aim for a pair a month, but that seems ambitious considering my history with tennis elbow and my other projects I’m queuing up for 2015, so instead I’ll set a goal for 6 pairs and see if i have time to go over that.

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My first pattern to try will be a pair of toe up socks. I’ve never attempted toe up before but it seems like it would be easier to get the size i need if i can try them on as i go. I’ll be using Wendy D Johnsons basic toe up pattern.

 

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This is the broken seed stitch sock pattern but this pair is knit up by Ravelry user Yacurama and i love them I have two skeins of Knitpicks felici self striping in rainbow that i think will look awesome knit up with some black like this pair.

 

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This is a pair of socks based on the Hermione’s Everyday sock pattern, this pair was knit by Tintallie. I love the solid color -I think it shows the texture of the stitch wonderfully. Also i love the ankle height sock. That is my favorite height and honestly what I will do a few of my pairs in. The actual pattern does have a full 6-8″ above the ankle height. But this pair made me fall in love with the pattern.

 

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This is the Business Casual sock pattern from Tanis Fiber Arts. I love it. It is simple and yet looks like it will be interesting enough to be fun without being t0o complicated and thus slowing me down. I have some semi solid/ tonal yarns that this will look good in.

 

 

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These are basic ribbed socks by Kate Atherly. I am curious to see how the ribbing affects how the sock fits my foot. Does it fit better than a standard vanilla sock?

 

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These are the pompom peds from Purl Soho. And I’ve listed this sock because ankle height socks are the style I most often wear in real life. So at some point this year I am definately going to knit an ankle height pair.

 

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Nutkin by Beth Lapensee. I love the super simple cable look of these socks.

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And this pair is not for me.  The Ballet School Dropout Sockettes by Inspire Knits. This is the style sock that my daughter wears. I want to knit her a pair of socks, and she won’t even consider wearing socks that go 6″ above your ankle.

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Woven Brown Panguipulli Scarf

Woven Rigid Heddle Scarf

 

I have finished a new scarf just as the polar freeze sets in. It is made from a wonderful brown yarn by Araucania called Panguipulli color 9. You can check out my ravelry project page for details on the weaving math. This went super fast, all done in one day. I love my rigid heddle loom, though I still want santa to bring me a Schacht Mighty Wolf ( or a Baby Wolf, I can never choose).

The business is doing well and we have just launched our own website shop at CJohannesenStudio.com; we are keeping our Etsy shop open but want to pursue opportunities that require an independant website. And all the computer work is mine so I have spent the last two weeks in front of the computer like 40 hours a week. But we are now live and I can breathe a bit. So the scarf was my way of relaxing.

 

Christmas is coming and I can feel the stress of it already. I wish I could tell you my season was filled with super fun christmasy activities, tinsel, cookies and hot cocoa. But really as a self employed artist my Christmas season is filled with long workweeks, take out dinner and trying to remember what free time felt like. This is a great problem to have, an exhausting one, but a great one.

To gear up I am prepping for Thanksgiving. I try to make turkey day a big thing because of my daughter. I try to balance out the free time I don’t have in December.  This year we will be putting up the tree and decorating the house (inside only), then we will be decorating some gingerbread houses followed by a ridiculous dinner. Just the three of us. A small holiday this year as I’ve had some family move away.

I’ve got some creative things floating around in my head right now. Some designs for knit toys and possibly a hat. Also, the desire to take my watercolors out and do a bit of doodling. Maybe I’ll have some time this week to get started on a new project.

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Spinning Yarn- SpinCity UK Paintbox color way

Hand spun yarn

 

Life has been a bit busy lately and I’m a bit behind updating you on what I’ve been making. Last month I took a break from knitting to give my hands, and my tennis elbow, a rest. So instead of knitting I spent time spinning up some fluff that my daughter bought me for Christmas last year.

The fluff is made by SpinCityUK on etsy and the color way is called Paintbox – 3.5 oz of merino, baby alpaca, British Shetland and BFL makes it is a super soft yarn.  Unspun I loved the colors but I think it needs a more experienced spinner than I to bring out its full beauty. Then roving was made of a tan / cream base with lots of orange, blue, and yellow which combined to make a duller muddier color yarn than I had originally envisioned.

I think some of that fault might be in my head because when I showed it to the ladies at the yarn shop they loved it.  I showed my husband too, but he was less than super excited because he doesn’t love yarn the way I do.

Unsound roving

I’m quite proud of a few things with this skein though.

1. I got through it quit quickly, from fluff to finished it took only about three weeks; evenings only spinning while watching tv.

2. I remembered to take plying samples while making the singles.

3. I actually used the plying samples when plying the yarn which resulted in a balanced yarn that hangs without twisting. I have never done this before. I’m always over or under twisted.

4. It is fairly even. I’m going to call it a mostly dk weight yarn, though I didn’t remember to count it before coming off the niddy noddy. So I’m not quite sure how much yardage is here.

From here on out I’m going to have to look at roving and bats and try to see the yarn they will become instead of their beauty in their unspun state.  If I had thought of how to handle the opposite colors of orange and blue before I started I might have been able to avoid some of the color dulling that happens when you mix color opposites together.

All and all I am super proud of it … However this skein will not be knitted up by me. I’m in a swap on ravelry and my swap partner loves to knit toys so I think I will send this skein to live with her because I think it would make a glorious toy, maybe a cute little teddy bear.

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Weaving with Knit Picks Palette Yarn

Weaving a Rainbow Palette Yarn Gamp Inspired Scarf

I have been gifted a small stash of Knit Picks Palette Yarn. I was initially not excited by this because I am not a fan of Knit Picks’ Wool of the Andes line – I find it a bit scratchy. But the palette yarn doesn’t seem to have the same scratchy properties the worsted WotA line has.

Honestly, I have been holding on to this yarn for a month or two while I figure out what to do with it. It was initially purchased to use for stripey socks, but at 100% wool, I don’t think socks is the best use for it. I thinks sock yarn holds up so much better when there is a little nylon in the blend. And I don’t want to do a huge fingering weight knit project.

Then I stumbled across this project by Yarnvista:

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And I am in love. Her project is absolutely gorgeous. I don’t have quite enough colors to run the whole spectrum but I can make a pretty little rainbow weaving.  She went on to weave a whole queen size throw blanket, which I love but am not ready to take on a project that big yet. What I love even more is that Yarn Vista made her project on a rigid heddle loom, so I am not trying to recreate a complicated 4 shaft project with a rigid heddle loom. We are using the same tools.

So for now, 6 colors: Lingonberry Heather (red), Masala (orange), Turmeric (yellow), Verdant Heather (green), Marine Heather (blue), Indigo Heather (purple). The actual yarns are a bit more autumnal and jewel toned than the pictures show.

Knit Picks Palette Yarn for Weaving

Weaving Math

The palette yarn is 24 wraps per inch. A balanced weave would put us at a 12 ends per inch and a 12 dent heddle.

I want a wide scarf where the squares really stand out and using 6 colors 3″ stripes would make this an 18″ wide scarf, which is way to wide. However 2″ wide stripes gives me a much more manageable 12″ wide scarf.

12″ wide x 12 = 144 ends = 24 ends per color

I’m not quite sure how long I’d like it to be. Currently I’m thinking  70″ long before fringe.

70+12 (loom waste) = 82″ warp.

82 x 24=1,968 inches = 55 yards – So warping each color will take about 55 yards, leaving me with 176 yards per skein to do the weft with.

176 x 6 = 1056 yds. This seems like enough.

12″ x 24 = 288= 8 yards. Assuming each weft stripe takes about 24 rows to equal 2″, then each weft stripe will take about 8 yards. (this could be faulty. it could take 48 picks to get to 2 inches, so this would be doubled to 16 yards. I shouldn’t do weaving math before coffee).

176/8=22 – each skein with 176 yards remaining on it after warping has 22 8-yard sections; Even if my math is off, I can repeat the rainbow 11 times before I run out of yarn.

70/2=35 – a 70″ scarf has 35 2″-sections. 35/6=5.8 so I will repeat the rainbow almost 6 times before I run out of warp.

Ok. Now, after having done the math I am more inspired to do this project than I was when I started this post.

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Courage and Creativity

yoga

In yoga today the teacher told us to let go.

“Just choose to let go of something you are holding on to and don’t need.” I need this kind of reminder, as I often get a tight grip on everything in my life. I even bent my metal knitting needles from holding them with a white knuckle death grip. No joke.

So with my head at my knees, dripping sweat and mentally begging for the next pose I ran through the list of things i should let go of. It was quite a list, and I finally settled on expectations.

I want to let go of my expectations for myself. Be ok with just being me instead of being upset I’m not a better me.

A few poses later with my ass high in the air while in downward dog, she asked us to invite something in.

I am trying to come out of a creative rut. So after passing on asking for peacefulness, playfulness and a few other generic things I struck gold with creativity and courage.

After class, after savasana, and finally eating breakfast my mind returned to creativity and courage.

I am a creative person. But I don’t show off, or sell most of the things that I make.Today I am seeing the wall in front of me. I have to be bold and have courage to break through the rut I’ve been in.

For me, without courage there will be no satisfying creativity.

I’ve focused on fiber art for the last few years. And maybe now I’m done with that. I can’t find the tiniest spark of interest in anything I’ve done int he past. And have NO desire to do production work of any kind. Making the same toy, scarf, pillow, whatever over and over and over again is the antithesis of creativity, for me at least.

There is good news though, I am starting to see a spark of interest in painting. I’ve never done oil painting before and now I’m captivated by it. I’m currently learning about the materials, and when my dick blick order arrives I will be embarking on a painting adventure.

 

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Weaving Guacamole Dish Cloths

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I am trying to push the grey away by starting a new project. This is the warp for some new dishcloths. I’m going for a workhorse product so I’m using Lily Sugar’n Cream cotton yarn in the color guacamole.

Weaving Math

The plan: weave 4 dishcloths  that are about 15″ x 25″. I have an Ashford Rigid Heddle Loom – 20″ wide so they will be woven length wise. Allowing for 1 between  towels, and shrinkage and loom waste I will need a warp that is 151″ long. 566 yards needed for the warp.

To account for draw in and shrinkage across the weft of the towel I am threading the loom at 18″ wide. Using the calculator at Haley Studio I am guesstimating that I’ll need about 390 yards for the weft. I’ve bought more to make sure I don’t come up short.

The lily yarn has a wpi of 8; i’m rounding down to 7.5 because that is the reed I have.

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A Carrot Survives the Winter

carrotMarch is a month of in-betweens.

Neither spring, nor winter. Warm and cold. Gorgeous and dreary, all occurring with in the same day.

I am ready for the constant and reliable heat of summer. But it seems that limbo is the theme of my life right now, there are choices to be made and nothing I can do to force them to change faster. I am in between.

Yesterday it was 69 and sunny. Desperately seeking some vitamin D and manual labor,  I took advantage of the warm weather, donned a short sleeve shirt and worked in the garden. I spent the day on my knees, removing dead and damaged plants that didn’t survive this harsh winter, and pulling the weeds that did.

In one of my raised beds I found a treasure, barely hanging on to life.

A carrot.

I planted carrot seeds last summer and despite my hopes nothing grew. Having long given up on it’s orangey goodness i pulled the clump of green up from the ground and was surprised to find this tiny stunted barely orange carrot.

Honestly? It was a very metaphorical moment. Clearing away the dead plants and finding a small gem hidden in the muck, a seed planted long ago left and forgotten only to be found anew, and surviving the harshest winter my area has seen in the 15 years I’ve lived here.

This is my life now. I am a forgotten carrot.

I am off my antidepressants, and  finally feeling awake, and emotionally even. Yet I am also stalled. I am lacking drive and passion. I want to work, and while I am working on the studio with Chris I am desperately seeking my own creative identity,  but I have no passion for any of my own projects. The true sign of my aloofness is the fact that I find myself choosing cleaning over creating.

I am trying to see this limbo not as punishment, but as a time of change- as a transition. But with no true passion fueling my actions I am left to wonder what to pursue. How do I fill this need for my own creative identity when I don’t want to do anything. This isn’t depression, it’s lack of inspiration.

Do I go back to school? Do I change paths and move away from art? Do I try a new medium?

Compounding my career limbo is a wonderful case of location limbo. I live in York, PA and desperately want to leave. I want to relocate to Colorado near Chris’s family. But that means  a lot of disruption in my daughters life and leaving my mother and best friend behind. And I don’t know if I can put my daughter through that.

 

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