(Unofficial) Camp Loopy 2021: July Challenge

Camp Loopy July Challenge: This month we are celebrating stripes – like the stripes of the big top tent! You can do stripes of color, stripes of sections of stitches, stripes of beads, etc. Just so your project has stripes of some sort going on. (see some examples below). The July project must use 600 or more yards, single knit.

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As a general rule, I’m not a stripes person. This may be because there was a time in my childhood where everything I owned was striped, after all I felt the same way about floral patterns for a long time as well. This isn’t to say that nothing in my closet is striped, there are several “go-to” pieces that do in fact meet the striped description. Mostly, this is to say that generally speaking I don’t enjoy knitting stripes. So when you consider the July camp challenge and what design elements are most likely missing from my queue, it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that I struggled to make this one work.

After pouring over patterns on Ravelry and seriously considering a baby blanket pattern (or 3), I decided that the best thing to do was to let go of the official constraints of the challenge and focus solely on the stripes piece. This decision was made when I realized that the pattern I needed to knit I a) already had the yarn for and b) wasn’t going to hit the 600 yard limit. On the one hand, this meant that I won’t qualify for the rewards piece of the challenge. On the other hand, I’d get a head start on my holiday knitting.

In the end, I opted to knit Little Sock Arms by Stephanie Lotven in a size 2T. The sweater is knit using two different fingering weight yarns (or colors), utilizing a skein of stripped yarn to make the sleeves fancy. You work the body of the sweater in the round bottom up until the arm pit and then divide for front and back before eventually using a three needle bind-off to reconnect the front pieces to the back. The sleeve stitches are then picked up and then worked in a top down manner.

This was the simple project that my hands needed to work this month and I’m happy with the way that it turned out. For the body of the sweater, I used Knit Picks stroll in Duchess Heather which was chosen because it matched Knit Picks Felici Fingering Weight in Countess. Countess, used for the sleeves, was chosen first.

While I know that children don’t really need waist shaping in the same way that women’s sweater’s do, I feel like the body of this sweater is boxier/looser than the arms of the sweater. Maybe it’s “simply” the measurements of little bodies? That being said, I’m comforted by all of the little ones wearing their sweaters and looking cute on Ravelry. All in all, I would probably knit this one again.

Purple sweater with multi-colored purple stripes on the sleeves.
iswimlikeafish’s Little Sock Arms

The Rosie Dress

A young woman standing with her arms gently crossed across her waist wearing a white dress with a floral print.

A couple of weeks ago, we hosted a small backyard wedding to celebrate our marriage. In attendance were my parents, sister (+ her husband and my niece) and my grandparents. My husband’s is spread out across the world, everyone wished that things were different and there is an end is sight for travel restrictions.

Covid and my mother in law not being able to travel to the states without a quarantine fee aside, I don’t think we would have done things any other way. Neither one of us wanted a big wedding and we strongly believe that we made the right choice for our little family. Although, if I’m being completely honest with myself, if covid hadn’t been a limiting factor in our decisions we probably would have gotten married on a beach in New Zealand.

Since my family came in with expectations that I would be wearing a white dress, I dutifully searched the internet for something that would suit my personality and our wedding venue. The goal was to feel like a wood elf or a fairy, I wanted to be able to move rather than feel encumbered by layers of lace.

The “problem” is I didn’t want to compromise on what I wanted. I wanted something that screamed wild flower meadow and it didn’t seem to exist. A couple hours after scanning Spoonflower and a few other places later, I hopped over to my former local yarn store to look at their sewing patterns (because they’re also a fabric store!) and committed to the Rosie Dress.

In terms of fabric, I ended up deciding to use Spoonflower’s Linen Cotton Canvas. While the fabric is heavier than one of their cottons, I like the stiffer drape and the over all feel of the fabric. It feels like something that could holdup over time and seems to get softer every time I wash it.

Now I would like to think of someone who follows directions, after all I don’t have a problem following knitting patterns and I certainly didn’t have a problem working through lab procedures while getting my Biology. With this in mind, it’s “easy” to conquer new sewing patterns because it’s “just a matter of following the directions”. Except I totally missed the seam allowance requirements and ended up with a bodice that was 4 inches too big! (Note: The pattern was very beginner friendly, I simply made the dress at a time when I didn’t really understand how much seam allowance matters. Never fear friends, I totally get it now xD). Between adjusting the fit to accommodate this and needing to further shorten the straps, the back is not as clean and crisp as it was when I started.

Another learning opportunity for me occurred during the gathering stage. While I’m slowly becoming more confident with my gathers, I didn’t realize that I should have begun my basting stitches as close to the seams as possible. To compensate for this error, I manually bunched areas instead of redoing the basting stitches.

Mistakes were made and there’s a little bit of Frankensteining to make it work, but it’s the third dress I’ve ever made and I’m thrilled with how it came together. I haven’t decided whether or not I will ever make a second dress out of this pattern (in the end I’m not sure I like the pleating of the skirt, perhaps I would do a full father next time?), but I am confident that I will be reaching for another Sew Over It pattern again in the future.

A young woman twirling with her arms stretched wide wearing a white dress with a floral print.

Combo 12 Scarf

Yarn traveling from a cricket loom to a warping peg in the distance. The yarn is arranged in a rainbow of colors.

The more I work with yarn, the more I appreciate techniques that let the yarn do the talking. Sure, cables and lace are beautiful, but you loose that detail when you’re working with many indie dyed yarns. I bring this up because it’s one of the reasons that I have learned to love weaving – the finished product is something that let’s the yarn speak for itself.

Recently, I’ve had the privilege of becoming a brand ambassador Wonderland Yarns, a yarn dyer that’s just a little further than “over the river” from where we live. Honestly, I think the only disappointment I’ve ever had with Wonderland Yarns occurred during my first serious year of knitting when I was in Brattleboro and learned that they weren’t open to the public. Just under two years later, I would be enthusiastically maintaining displays at Webs Yarn Store in Northampton and gushing about the softness and colors over the phone as a customer service rep (to this day, I still miss my job and all the people I worked with!).

Cut and treaded strands of yarn on a loom.

The point of this, is really just to say, it is incredibly difficult to commit to a project when you love all the yarn and all the colors. As this is not a paid position (but they did send beautiful yarn!), I will take the time to shamelessly admit that if I could have one of everything I would (seriously, thank you to the coordinator for her patience during our emails). After a lot of hemming and hawing, I committed to Combo 12 and warped my cricket loom.

If you like the way this looks and would like to weave one yourself, I used an 8 dent reed and positioned the colors so that there are 8 strands of each (4 when you’re warping) with Red taking center stage in the middle for a total of 16 strands (8 when you’re warping). From there “simply” measure out how long you would like your scarf and add ~16inches for waste yarn (this is not a scientific number by any means).

For the most part, I wove the scarf with the main color (little bat) and not with the colors from the mini skeins (land of wonders). That being said, the beautiful thing about weaving is that there are no hard and fast rules! One combo pack is enough yarn for two scarves, or in my case a scarf and an eventual brioche hat.

I enjoyed weaving with the Mad Hatter yarn that comes in combo 12’s pack. It bloomed nicely when blocked and has just the tiniest amount of fuzz across it’s soft surface. Mum’s the word on whether or not everyone is getting a Wonderland Yarn scarf for the holidays this year.

A rainbow woven scarf laying gently crossed on green grass.

July Book Club: The Queen’s Gambit

Cover art for The Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis

As I sit here writing this blog post, I feel that it’s worth noting that I have still only watched one episode of the Netflix’s series The Queen’s Gambit. The main reason for admitting this is to, naturally, point out that my observations are for the book and the book alone. I know for previous book clubs I have taken the time to also watch the movie/tv show, but the weather is beautiful and I find myself itching to sit on the deck instead of curled up on the couch. This is not a reflection of the quality of the TV series, but a nod to the fact that I am more likely to watch TV when it’s dark and cold outside.

This book left me feeling very neutral and wondering if I was expecting more from Beth Harmon. For example, I think we can agree that her ability to visualize chess boards as a child is phenomenal. When you combine that with her narrow focus on the game and how her whole life revolves around it, you’re left wondering is this because she finds comfort in the game now that her parents are dead or does she have a touch of Asperger’s? When you combine this information with her ability to interact with others as a young adult, it’s hard to judge.

With Beth as our narrator, we’re not given complete pictures of the other people that encompass her tail. Whether she she falls on the spectrum or was severally emotionally handicapped as a child, it’s clear that her emotional and social intelligence were stunted and we’re not getting a full picture of what’s happening around her. With this in mind, it made sense that Beth reached for childhood friends when her world felt turned upside down.

I’m not sure we can really call this a book about addiction. Beth’s addiction to the green pills existed to allow her to play a more focused game of chess in her mind and her brief run with drinking seemed like more of a conscious decision to self sabotage. Which leaves me wondering, is this a story about addiction or has addiction been thrown in there as a temporary plot device?

At it’s very core, The Queen’s Gambit is a story about an underdog and we all, myself included, want to root for the underdog. We get to watch Beth struggle to be allowed to learn chess and her development into an eventual champion. You can’t help but root for her as she works towards mastering her next challenge.

In honor of the sourdough trend that I didn’t participate in, we will be reading Sourdough by Robin Sloan. This one comes highly recommended by my town’s public library and I’m excited to read it.

Cover art for Sourdough by Robin Sloan

Lois Clary is a software engineer at General Dexterity, a San Francisco robotics company with world-changing ambitions. She codes all day and collapses at night, her human contact limited to the two brothers who run the neighborhood hole-in-the-wall from which she orders dinner every evening. Then, disaster! Visa issues. The brothers close up shop, and fast. But they have one last delivery for Lois: their culture, the sourdough starter used to bake their bread. She must keep it alive, they tell her—feed it daily, play it music, and learn to bake with it.

Lois is no baker, but she could use a roommate, even if it is a needy colony of microorganisms. Soon, not only is she eating her own homemade bread, she’s providing loaves daily to the General Dexterity cafeteria. The company chef urges her to take her product to the farmer’s market, and a whole new world opens up.

When Lois comes before the jury that decides who sells what at Bay Area markets, she encounters a close-knit club with no appetite for new members. But then, an alternative emerges: a secret market that aims to fuse food and technology. But who are these people, exactly?

Camp Loopy 2021: June Challenge

Camp Loopy 2021 June Challenge: We’re celebrating the three rings of the circus with this one. Pick a pattern with 3 different stitches going on, or three different colors in the pattern, or changing the stitch or pattern every three rows, or even the word “three” in the name of the pattern or color! You’ll need to knit/crochet 400 or more yards in this June project (single knit, not held double). As always, we want you to knit something you love. If you can explain to us how your project celebrates “three” and you’re hit the 400 yard mark, we’re good!

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Baby sweater with a pink body and a beige strip creating the arms and chest.

June was a rough month for me crafting wise, I took almost two whole weeks off from knitting before coming back refreshed. I’m not blaming the 3×3 rib that exists in Jessie Maed’s Ripple Crop top, I was actually cruising along at breakneck speed until suddenly hitting a wall and needing to put down my needles.

Part of coming back from my knitting break was realizing that there are a handful of projects that “just need to be finished”. The first one is the Macaroon Sweater that I started for my niece back in December. Long story short, I ended up knitting a larger size and running out of yarn. When I went to place a new order, the yarn was backordered until May. After months of sitting around on stitch holders, its officially blocked and the button closure has been attached! I found a cute flower button while in Portland ME on our honeymoon.

The second project that “just needed to be finished” was this one. I spent a lot of hemming and hawing and decided that negative ease tops are not currently articles of clothing that I feel comfortable wearing. Since I was half a foot into the Ripple Crop Top, I ended up using one skein of yarn and binding off the project as a cowl. This leaves me with one project left on my needles (a lace shawl, more on that later!) and one project on my loom (I’m weaving a rainbow scarf!).

Finished photos can be found on the project page when it’s done blocking :]

It feels good to be finishing projects and freeing up my needles, for this knitter having too many projects going at once takes up too much mental space. I have a lot of respect for knitters that have more than 3 projects going at any given time.

Real talk: I won’t be participating in July’s challenge this year. Or rather I will be, but I won’t technically be meeting all of the challenge requirements because I plan on a) stash diving and b) knitting something less than 600 yards. There was a lot of hemming and hawing on my end about this decision, but in the end I think it’s the right one.