Category Archives: Fionn

We offer that in “too small” and “slightly less too small.”

Whenever I say I am going to stop knitting to deadlines, let’s just all assume that I am L-Y-I-N-G. Apparently, I love the added frisson of uncertainty (Can I get it done?) more than I loathe the agony of defeat.

I brought this on myself.

Fionn Body Complete (sort of)Way back in January, I started Fionn for my lovely husband. I had some vague idea that it would be done sometime soon, surely in 2010 because that’s a whole year and even though I’m a slow knitter, how long could it take? It’s a drop-shoulder sweater, after all – three pieces and Bob’s your uncle. No sleeve cap, nothing. So I started the sweater, got up to the armholes, then went off and knit like eight other things, and Thanksgiving arrived. Of course, I was all “I am finishing this sweater for Christmas, or barring that, your birthday five days later.” So I finished the body…and the armholes are too small. So I ripped out the three-needle bindoff, added some length, and the armholes were slightly less too small.

Now, there appears to be something interesting going on here which is not the designer’s fault. I think I thought Fionn was more close-fitting than Jennifer Hagan intended; I liked it precisely because it was a drop-shoulder sweater that seemed more tailored than the average drop-shoulder sweater. However, careful comparison with other husband sweaters and consultation of the stellar book Knit to Fit by Ida Riley Duncan revealed that the ideal armhole depth for the sweater’s recipient needed to be something like 11 inches rather than 8 (Have you read Knit to Fit? I cannot recommend it enough; Ida is the no-nonsense knitting aunt who asserts that “of course you can design your own sweaters – all it takes is math and a measuring tape!”). Coincidentally, 11 inches was the armhole depth for the 47″ size for Fionn…three inches bigger than the size I’m actually making.

The troublesome Fionn armhole But we like the size and ease and length of the body now, so rather than add length above (which would make it into a tunic), I am (once again) undoing the three needle bindoff, so I can rip back to where you see the orange marker in this picture and start the armholes earlier. I’m at peace with it, save for the fact that there’s no way on God’s green earth it’s getting done in 2010. Now, 2011 (early 2011!), that’s a different story.

I think the moral of the story is not “You should know what size to make” (because based on actual measurements, I thought I did – the armhole was an unanticipated hiccup). Maybe instead, it’s “don’t worry, you can totally fix it without having to reknit the whole thing. Just check with Ida.”

You would be wrong.

Punctuated Ribs Sock Top You might think, after working a month and a half on preparing a sock knitting presentation for my spinning guild, I’d be sick of sock knitting – almost, but you would be wrong. I promised mom a pair of birthday socks, and before I headed off into the wild blue knitting yonder to cast on hats and sweater and non-socks, I needed to finish a labor of love. These are the Punctuated Rib Socks from Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarn, a book I’ve now knit two patterns from (a record!). The yarn is Aslan Trends Santa Fe, a soft, economical sock yarn that I would call the “poor man’s Koigu” if I were feeling snarky, but I’m not. Nice to knit with, my only complaint is that I needed to swipe my one and only Addi size 1 out of the Fionn sweater I’m working on. Added incentive to finish the socks, since I found out after just a few rows of the sweater on straights that I am no longer a lover of straight needles unless they are DPNs. See the pair here. I feel like I’m definitely going through a dark yarn phase, which is inconvenient when your knit night is in a bar.

For the opposite of dark yarn, I present these Maine Morning Mitts Maine Morning Mitts, knit out of long-stashed Kureyon intended for a Lizard Ridge afghan. I think I held off making these because I was concerned I couldn’t get two mitts out of one skein – I am here to tell the Internet you can make two Maine Morning Mitts with just 100 yards of worsted weight yarn (I did shorten the cuffs a bit, but I’m confident even the originals are one-skeiners). These were quick and fun and they knit up in a week, satisfying my raging case of startitis. They also served as a convenient distraction from the hooligans who shot my new car with a BB gun while the Knit One Purl Too crew was out to dinner in a perfectly nice Cleveland suburb. At least the insurance adjuster thought the mitts were nice, and everything’s back to normal now. Frankly I cannot believe that I drove my new car to Chicago and all over the Windy City without a scratch (the Dan Ryan! the Ike!), then I come home and some loser tries to make my Honda Fit into a hoopty.

Quincy Quade Quentin In my righteous indignation over HooptyGate I have not one, not two, but three finished objects for you – this weekend, I stuffed and sewed a Quincy Quade Quentin monster, and I have to say that while it was a lot of work because I am not a sewer, I am charmed. I’m also pretty proud that he looks suitably monster-y (with the help of Knit One Purl Too’s monster engineering staff, aka my husband, who suggested teasing the stuffing to make it less lumpy, installed the safety eyes and cut the teeth for me). I loved making him, and even though the finishing was more involved than I expected, it reinforced my love of getting details right on knitted objects. Finishing work is actually fun for me.

But if I love finishing, why do I have so many things started? I have 9 things on the needles right now, which seems ridiculous. I’ve started things I haven’t even logged as projects on Ravelry, like a Cassidy cardigan (I met Bonne Marie Burns in Chicago last month at YarnCon and yes, I was a total fangirl: “I love your patterns!”) and the Desdemona shawl in Lorna’s Laces Helen’s Lace (I may have gushed a little at the Lorna’s studio sale: “I love your yarn!” – that’s what happens when you buy yarn once a year; you get excited), and a pair of Roger socks for a dear friend. You would think all of these works in progress would have me a little overwhelmed and maybe a little guilty – but so far it just feels like really good knitting. In other words, you would be wrong.

Never give up! Never surrender!

Corriedale/Mohair spun for Heifer International raffle For me, learning to spin has been an exercise in patience. I balanced the idea that every time I tried to spin it was hard and I sucked against the notion I kept reading about: it takes a pound of fiber to get any good at spinning. So if I gave up before I had spun a lot, I might miss out on the fun of really developing some skill and seeing that pay off.

As much as I try to be a “process” person, I am a “product” person. I see the fiber, I want the yarn. I see the yarn, I want the socks (or the sweater, or the scarf or the hat). So it was especially gratifying to cross the finish line with this, my first completely-stuffed-full bobbin of fiber, a Corriedale/Mohair mix spun as a fine single for my local spinning guild’s Heifer International fundraiser later this year – it will become part of a woven shawl that will be raffled off. I sold two winning tickets last year, but was too bashful to spin something for public consumption. Six months later, I sat down and did it like it was nothing, and as I said to someone while the bobbin was filling: “I never thought I’d get to the point where some parts of spinning are easier than some parts of knitting.” I’m now deep into the spinning of this fiber, about two ounces down, and a little over 3 ounces to go. Things seem less hard if you practice, is all I’m saying. And if you watch Galaxy Quest, where “Never give up! Never surrender!” comes from.

Leyburn, finished: full Meet the socks that are harder than some parts of spinning: these are MintyFresh’s Leyburn socks, in the Claudia Handpainted Fingering colorway Circus Dancer (more pictures here). I sailed along with these two-at-a-time on one needle, and then, during a particularly tense moment in Crazy Heart, I looked away, my hands kept going..and I goofed up the slipstitch pattern. And I had a devil of a time fixing it – I had to separate the socks, and knit, and reknit, and rip…and at some point while I was knitting with friends (in public! on Knit in Public Day!) I looked down and realized my hands knew what to do; they understood the pattern better than my thinking brain did. That was both good and weird, a knitting breakthrough of an entirely new kind for me, and one for which I’m very grateful. Sadly, they’ve gone to live with a knitting friend in Montana, but I did get a bodaciously good pair of beaded rib socks in Knit One Crochet Too TyDy in return – I would show a modeled picture of them, but it’s 90 here, so that will have to wait for later.

Fionn, up to the armholesAnd then there’s Fionn, up to the armholes and forsaken not due to the heat, but sock-related deadlines, so I’m due to pick it back up shortly. It’s turning out just as expected, and thus far has been a pleasure to knit, particularly when there’s air conditioning available. I have this fantasy that I’ll clear off my knitting needles, but even as I finish one project, others are calling to me – I have a small but mighty UFO pile, which includes a handspun hat (from my first plied yarn) and a pair of Paraphernailia socks that are so! close! to! being! done! But I might have started a new pair of socks this weekend instead…

You never forget the first time.

Do you remember the first yarn you stashed? I do; I found a single skein of Paton’s Ballybrae in navy Black Forest Tweed at my (very) local LYS not too long after I first picked up the needles. It was already discontinued in 2003, so with my usual retail obsessiveness I set off on a hunt across the interwebs. After several well-timed requests to knitting swap lists, I have a total of 10 skeins. I always thought I would make Kathy Zimmerman’s The Very Thought of Him or Bonne Marie Burns’ Ribby Cardi with it, because I do like a monochrome tweedy cardigan as much as the next person, but fate intervened.

Fionn ProgressJust a few days ago, knitonepurltoo’s Pattern Review Staff (aka my husband) saw Jennifer Hagan‘s Fionn pullover over my shoulder, liked it and it took about 13 seconds for me to realize I could use my oldest yarn to make my newest sweater. As if that weren’t cool enough already, I’m doing that knitterly thing of using the numbers from the next-smallest size to get the (bigger) size I want. For those who are all “didn’t you just promise to knit from your queue?” I did, but I also thought I’d give myself an exception, just in case, and this looks like it. We are still proceeding with the “buy as little as possible, because you already have four bins of yarn” plan, but unlocking a sweet spot in the stash with the perfect pattern feels like a gift. Don’t you love that?

That alchemy is my favorite thing about knitting – older, less-loved yarn marinating in the stash becomes new, fresh and fascinating when it meets the right pattern. I knit slowly enough that I have plenty of time to change my mind about what I should make with a given skein of yarn, and sometimes waiting pays off, because a combination comes to light that I can’t help but love.

Corriedale fiber, Thunderhead colorway And get ready for “Waiting pays off, part two,” my first skein of handspun yarn (more pictures here). This is approximately 125 yards of 2 ply Corriedale from gwen erin/granolasuit; it took a shockingly long time to finish because I developed a throughly unreasonable fear that I would somehow wreck the yarn in the plying. So the bobbins sat, and I spun a little bit of other things, and then I sat down once more with the Start Spinning video and did it. Yay! The knitonepurltoo spinning wheel pit crew (aka my husband) has already called dibs on this for a hat; it’s going to be hard to wait to cast on until after I can show off the finished skein at spinning guild tomorrow, but I’ll try.