Sunday, February 14, 2010

Stuck! I'm stuck!

Well, I'm kinda surprised at the amount of knitting that I'm not getting done while I'm working at my not job and looking for a job which is more like a full-time job. Perhaps, it is that while I'm knitting it is difficult to ignore the fact that I'm knitting in the middle of the day and not at a job. I feel guilty because of all the activities that I could be doing, knitting is not productive in the end game of getting me a job.

Enough of the unemployment whine, here is the knitting that I have been working on. I picked up my Charlie tee-shirt that I have been hibernating for awhile. I realized that the armholes where just too big and in order to make them smaller I was going to have to rip the whole thing out. I was sad. I really wanted this tee. When I started it last year, it seemed to be the answer to what I desperately needed to knit. It was a cute and fashionable top. It was designed to be knitted within the quantities of gorgeous alpaca that I had just purchased at Rhinebeck for a song. The pattern was challenging: provisional cast on, short-row shaping and horizontal lace panels. So I was brave and ripped it out and started anew. I really enjoyed the knitting and I had gotten to the part where you join the front two sections to the back section and begin knitting the body in the round when I looked at what I had finished. AGAIN, the armholes were too big. Like 2" too big.

Maybe it'll change when I pick up the stitches to do the puff sleeves! Maybe they are supposed to be oversized!

No, I don't think so. I've made other mistakes in knitting and persevered to the end to only have a farcically too large and droopy garment. While I'm heartbroken that this is just not going to work out, it might to for the best to allocate the yarn (which I love, love, love) to a better project. And I might add, that while my Ravelry note say that I got gauge, I think that was a lie. I remeasured, and I was way off.

So big question--What do I make with 1300 yards of sport weight, dark brown alpaca?

I have a few options that I've drummed up.

First, Coraline by Ysolda. This past Rhinebeck I bought oodles more of this alpaca but in a different color. Ysolda took one look at it and said, "Oh, you can make Coraline with that!" I just stared at her like she had something growing out of her head. It wasn't that she was mistaken (she's totally right), but at that moment while I recognized the name of the pattern, I could not recall what Coraline looked like or what it was.

Or, I could make Riding to Avalon, which I have a fondness for. I'm just uncertain if the fondness I have is anything more than my passing fondness for period piece movies. Just because you love 18th century dress doesn't mean you should dress like it. It's not like I'll be going to a Ren Fair or something.

Or, the Wallis Cardigan, which seems to be on the summery end of the spectrum. I have a problem imagining it knit in alpaca.

Or, I could get my cable fix with Catriona. I do want a warm vest to wear to the office (once I have one to go to).

Or, I could make another tee, namely Vesper, which I think is so, so sweet.

So? Whadya think? I'm leaning toward Coraline.

(And my plans for the truck-load of camel colored alpaca I picked up this year? I'm so close to making Surface!)

Friday, January 29, 2010

No Job, but Some Knitting

With all of this free time on my hands but with the lack of incoming funds, I've had more than enough time to sit, knit and use up some of the yarns that have been languishing in my stash. I have been attempting to knit directly from stash in the past year and except for Christmas gifts and Rhinebeck, I've been successful. With most (ahem, but not all) of my gift knitting out of the way I've begun to focus on finishing up some of my WIPs as well as making plans for knitting new items out of my stashed yarns. So far this month, I've been able to make a few projects for myself and I couldn't be more excited.

So what have I made?

First was Simple Things Shawlette. I received the yarn as a gift and had been agonizing about the perfect use for it. It was way too nice to put on my feet yet I felt that the color variegation would hide any lace or cable work. Mary-Heather's design for Simple Things is spot on for this dilemma. Nice yarn that you can't figure out what to do?

Here's mine:

Pattern: Simple Things Shawlette by Mary-Heather Cogar
Yarn: Sundara Fingering Silky Merino in The Life Aquatic
Needles: No. 4s

On a whim the other weekend, I cast on the Destroyed Cowl by Martha Merzig. One skein, stockinette to the end, yes, please. Knitting this was almost the closest thing to instant gratification you can find. I did have the issue that some other Ravelers have had of not getting the stitches aligned correctly when the ends are joined together and having the dropped stitches continue to unravel through the join and into the next column. I rigged mine so that the ends I was weaving in secured the stitches to keep them from unraveling further.

Here's a crappy picture of the finished cowl.

Pattern: Destroyed Cowl by Martha Merzig
Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca in Green, 215 yds.
Needles: No. 8s

I also finally (and I mean FINALLY) finished Dad's Christmas socks. These took way, way too long to finish. I reknit heels and feet and toes. Here they are in all their faux gold toe glory:

Pattern: Globe Trotter Socks by
Yarn: Shelridge Farm Soft Touch Heather in Toasted Chestnut and Knit Picks Essential Kettle Dyed in Gold (for the toes)
Needles: No. 1.5s for the main sock and No. 1s for the toes

Hmmm...what other knits have I finished so far this month? I also finished up a pair of Bella's Mittens for myself. After knitting four pairs of these mittens, I am happy to be done with them. I made mine in a cheery gold. The one issue that I have with these mittens is that as the pattern is written you are supposed to cinch up the tops and the thumbs like the end of a hat. I found that with the top of the mittens this left large gaps where your fingers could poke out. A kitchenered top is much warmer and leaving a long tail to weave in and close any other gaps is a must.

Pattern: Bella's Mittens by Marielle Henault
Yarn: Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky in Sunburst Gold
Needles: No. 9s

I have to say that as much as I enjoy these mittens, especially the very long cuffs, the yarn does shed. I wind up with course, curly yellow hairs all over my black wool coat. Not the look I was aiming for.

Lastly, I want to include a mention of a wee little gift that I gifted to Nancy for her birthday in November. I originally forgot in my haste to gift this to her to take a single photo of it. She was nice enough to snap a few for me. She has a nice camera and the photo-skillz to take great snaps.

Pattern: Mug and French Press Jacket by MK Carroll
Yarn: Valley Yarns Valley Superwash in Grass and Grape
Needles: No. 5s

The knit was quick enough once you figure out the smocking stitch. After that it goes by in a dream. I had first thought of not putting a bottom on the jacket but was afraid that the mug would just slip right out without it.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Screeeech! Let's Rewind the Holidays

So, I have been so super-busy with holiday knitting, travel, and the ever present search for the elusive job. Here's a quick rewind since Thanksgiving.

First off, I had a solo Thanksgiving. I had a lot for which to be thankful. This past year I finished up law school, sat for two bar exams, passed both bar exams, took a solo trip to Scandinavia, and am now a licensed attorney in Massachusetts. New York is still awaiting some paperwork processing. The solo Thanksgiving Day was a good chance for me to take a second and give myself a pat on the back. I have a good footing to start the rest of life. It's exciting to have so much hard work behind me, but also exhilarating to think of what's next.

The homemade Green Bean Casserole was delish! The best part of it all was that I didn't have to share. (Not pictured: the pumpkin pie which I accidentally made extra savory and the apple crumb pie).

Second of all, I've been knitting a lot, especially gifts. As I mentioned in my previous post, there have been lots of babies. I sent some gifts to Baby Amelia, including the Saartje's Booties, and two February Baby Sweaters. Her moma even posted some pictures of Baby Amelia wearing them. You can view them here and here. I'm just tickled that they seem to fit ok, at least for the time being. I was a bit uneasy to send them. The last thing I wanted was to burden my friend with useless baby clothes.

Third, I took a holiday trip to the homeland, namely, Missouri. I had lots of knitted gifts to distribute (and some that needed finishing). Here's a roll call of the gifted knits. Unfortunately, I'm the worst photographer and missed some final shots of some gifts.

For Grandma Murphy, I knitted her a Rose Red Beret by Ysolda Teague out of Malabrigo in the Paris Night Colorway. Last Christmas I gave her a Crofter's Cowl made out of the same yarn and wanted to complete the set. The hat turned out great, but it was the only gift I absolutely never took a photo of.

For my stepmother, Darlene, I made a set of towels out of the Sugar 'n' Cream yarn that I had laying about. It was very satisfying to find a purpose for which it was all so well suited. The colors also seemed to match her kitchen very well. Grandma Murphy was kind enough to let me raid her button collection. There were many, many fantastic buttons that I wanted to steal and run away with but I restrained myself.

Pattern: Mitered Hanging Towel by Cristina Bernardi Shiffman from Mason Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines
Yarn: Lily Sugar 'n' Cream in Spring Swirl, Cream, White, Strawberry and Shades of Green
Needles: No. 7s
Buttons: G'ma's Stash

Aidan made out like a bandit. Knitters can be some of the best people for which to knit. They always like what you've made or at least they can seem to appreciate it even if they don't care for it. Aidan got a pair of Mary Jane Slippers and a Cabled Hot Water Bottle Cozy.

Pattern: Toasty-Cabled Hot Water Bottle Cover by Arianna Halshaw
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Chunky
Needles: No. 10s

Pattern: Mary Jane Slippers by Whitney Van Nes
Yarn: Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Superwash in Icy Blue and Purple Haze
Needles: No. 6s and 5s

Dad and Grandpa both got yarn that will be socks...eventually. I'm knitting Globe Trotter's Socks by Jodie St. Clair for both of them. I finished the first sock for Dad using Shelridge Farm's Soft Touch Heather in Toasted Chestnut, but it was about 1/4 inch too short. So I'm awaiting the receipt of a contrast color for the toe.

Grandpa's socks didn't even make it out of the skein. I have some Knit Picks Stroll Sock Yarn in Gray Basalt all ready though.

I didn't knit Mom anything this year, but she did get an official Dale of Norway Sweater all the way from Oslo itself. It seemed to fit her, which was my biggest fear. You can check out the sweater here on the Dale of Norway website. I got it in the blue colorway which looks fantastic with Mom's silver hair and blue eyes. I also didn't get a picture of her wearing it. What was wrong with me?!

For my high school buddies I made a series of Bella's Mittens, which I did with much shame since they are from based on mittens worn by Bella in the Twilight books. Sigh. Oh, well, they are nice and toasty. In total, I made 4 pairs, all out of Lamb's Pride Bulky and in the colorways, Cranberry Swirl, Silver Streak at Nite, Sunburst Gold and Jack's Plum.

Pattern: Bella's Mittens by Marielle Henault
Yarn: Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky (shown in the Cranberry Swirl)
Needles: No. 9s

Friday, November 06, 2009

Busy, Busy with the Gifting

I don't think that I'm the only one who has been inundated with life changes of late. Babies are being born. They are being born faster than I can knit. A good friend of mine from undergrad had an adorable daughter back in August. As my first friend with a baby, I went a little overboard with the knitmaking. Not one, but two February Baby Sweaters--one in worsted weight yarn and one in DK weight. But wait, there's more, I also made my first Saartje's Booties with some leftover sock yarn.

Her name is Alice Amelia.

Pattern: EZ's February Baby Sweater
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish DK in Pale Lemon
Buttons: From Windsor Button. Almost like little jelly candies.
Needles: No. 5s

I really like the buttons.

Pattern: EZ's February Baby Sweater
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Worsted in Tidepool Heather
Buttons: From Windsor Button
Needles: No. 6s

For the two sweaters I made copied the same number of repeats for both of them. This left the sizing (as ad hoc as it was) to the change in yarn weight and needlesize. I have no clue if they fit, or if the arm length is even correct.

Pattern: Saartje's Booties
Yarn: Cherry Tree Hill Superwash Sock in Foxy Lady
Buttons: From Windsor Button
Needles: No. 2s

I did find these booties a bit fussy on the finishing of sewing the buttons on and creating buttonholes. I followed Ysolda's tutorial for sewn button loops. Even without the pictures on the website, I found the instructions helpful.

Soon after I had finished the sweaters and booties, I received in the mail a baby announcement from one of my cousins whose wife gave birth to an adorable girl named Mary. My baby knits endurance had been tapped with the two sweaters so I opted for a cutesy baby hat.

Pattern: Berry Baby Hat by Michele Sabatier
Yarn: Valley Yarns' Valley Superwash in Grape and Grass
Needles: No. 7s and 8s

The hat turned out great, and I got to work it in the round using Magic Loop. I just may be a Magic Loop convert since you don't have to change from circular needles to dpns when the diameter gets too small.

Another cousin of mine (we have a lot of them: 20+ at least), gave birth to her second boy. After having a good experience with the Berry Baby Hat and lots of the Grass colorway left, I cast on this little hat.

Pattern: Greenleaf Baby Hat by Evelyn Uyemura
Yarn: Valley Yarns' Valley Superwash in Grass
Needles: No. 7s and 8s

This pattern is pretty much the same as the Berry Baby Hat only without the colorwork and with a leaf at the end of the i-cord stem. I found it difficult to find good baby boy patterns but this one fit the bill.

Next, my mom and my grandma just moved into a house together. It seems to be a great move (in more than one sense) for both of them. Grandma is an amazing woman who is quickly approaching 90 years-old and has the most independent and ornery spirit of anyone in the family. Mom has been far away from her rather large family for a very long time and has always wanted to be closer to everyone. In celebration of this, I decided that they need some new housewarming gifts. Namely, some ballband dishcloths and towel. The ballband is usually the territory of Aidan, but as Grandma would say, "tough shit."

Pattern: Ballband Dishcloth by Pisgah Yarn & Dyeing Co., Inc.
Yarn: Lily Sugar'n Cream in Hot Yellow, Neptune Ombre, Blue Grass and Tropic
Needles: No. 7s

Years ago, on a Hobby Lobby visit in Missouri, high on the craft-store fumes, I bought lots and lots of Lily Sugar'n Cream yarn. I put it to good use with these dishcloths and towel. For the towel, I cast on per the pattern and quickly realized that it was going to be way, way too big to be is dishcloth. I knit on and on until the Neptune Ombre ran out--about 22 repeats of Color B (the Neptune Ombre). For the discloths, I cast on 39 stitches with an extra two stitch for a slip stitch edge to help hide the color changes. I completed 4 pattern repeats for a total of 8 repeats of the Color B.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Most Disgusting Knitting Blog You Will Read Today

Cat yarn! My cat is huge; the Anna Nicole Smith of cats. Her fur is very fine and soft, like cotton balls, since she seems to have fewer guard-hairs than most other cats. Her fur is almost all under-coat consistency, except for directly over her spine. I brush her every other day or so and get an entire brush-full of fur. (Note: that's a library book and a J. Crew catalog that she's sleeping on, for size comparison.)

Earlier this week, her cat brush and my drop spindle were obviously too close together. I blame this on my dad. He was talking about making golden retriever yarn.

I spent a whole 2-minutes on this. I'm not an accomplished spinner, so undoubtedly if I'd taken more time the yarn would've come out thinner and more even. As it is, it was very easy to make a single-ply chunky yarn. It's actually a lot like Lamb's Pride bulky, but very soft, more like Malabrigo.

This cat seems to be super allergenic. I'm more allergic to her than other cats. Considering that some people have to carry epi-pens around due to severe life-threatening cat allergies, a sweater made from cat yarn could be down-right dangerous. An entire skein of cat yarn will not be forthcoming.

Monday, September 21, 2009

FO: February Lady Sweater

To continue in the vein of not-so-original knits, I have my February Lady Sweater to share. I was seduced by this sweater. Maybe it was the popularity. Maybe it was free pattern. After perusing the various projects on Ravelry, I was convinced that I could make a well-fitting sweater. The pattern was well-written and easy to follow-especially for a novice sweater knitter.

Pattern: February Lady Sweater by Pamela Wynn
Yarn: Knitpicks Wool of the Andes in Spruce
Needles: No. 8s

Many, many of the finished sweaters on Ravelry had sleeves that were loose and baggy like wrinkly elephant legs. This offends some basic knitter pride of mine. One of the fundamentals to knitting is the ability to customize your product to fit to your own body. Is it too big? Make it smaller! Is it too short? Make it longer. As a knitter, you have the ability to change, alter, reject whatever you don't like. If your sleeves come out all loose and baggy, you don't have to accept it.

The major modifications that I made were to the sleeves to avoid all the nasty looseness that all the other knitters were having. I dropped a needle size to no. 7s and decreased in the underarm over one pattern repeat of the lace to get rid of 7 stitches. All in all, I am pleased with the outcome of the sweater. It was my first "every day wear" sweater. I had to get up the courage to wear it, but I didn't get any "did you make take" responses--just "I like your sweater" compliments.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

FO: Lace Ribbon Scarf

Ok, so I finished this over a year ago and never got around to snapping any pictures of it. Even worst, I purchased the yarn at a stopover at WEBS on my way to Rhinebeck in 2007. I purchased 5 skeins of Blue Sky Alpaca's Alpaca Silk in a very lovely peach. I cast on an extra repeat of the pattern so that the scarf would be wide enough to drape on my shoulders.

And then I started to knit. And knit. And knit. I used up all of the 5 skeins. After binding off, I had a 3 inch tail to weave in and that was the end of the fifth skein. So I blocked and started wearing it. It was so long. I never got around to measuring it, but it was obscenely long. That would not have been such an issue if it would drape and wind around my neck neatly. It didn't. No matter which way I a tied and coiled, it always looked weird and awkward.

Awkward! Right? (Plus too many hand knits!)

Finally, after wearing it all winter, I went to wash it and pack it away with my other seasonal woolens. I came to my senses and ripped out about 1-2 feet of the scarf and then reblocked it with my new lace wires. I stretched the width to compensate for the length.

Pattern: Lace Ribbon Scarf by Veronik Avery
Yarn: Blue Sky Alpaca's Alpaca Silk in Peach
Needles: No. 5

The result is a much more graceful scarf.