The Wonderful World of Yarn

November 30, 2006 at 10:14 am (knitting, Yarn)

I’ve had precious little time to knit lately. Work has been intense and I’m very tired when I get home.  You can trust that the Basic Cable Hat, Trellis Scarf and Irish Hiking Scarf are coming along, but I’ll spare you the boring progress shots today. (Plus I’m too lazy to pull out the camera right now!)

I was able to expose my husband to the wide and wonderful world of yarn this week. He requested a pair of fingerless gloves a while back, and it’s a good thing I haven’t cast on for the Knucks I was planning because he amended his request earlier this week. An avid fly fisherman, he decided he would like a pair of fingerless gloves with a mitt that folds over top of his fingers to keep his fingers warm while casting, yet still allow the nimbleness needed to attach his lures. And he’d really like it if they were water resistant. Is that possible? Why yes!! It is!! I present to you my next project, the Broad Street Mittens by Janet Cortese, available from Knitty.

Broad Street Mitts

The best part is the Dale of Norway Hauk from which they will be knit. I just ordered some from Webs. Needless to say, he was very surprised to find out that there actually is water-resistant yarn. Then I really blew his mind when I informed him that yarn is made out of lots of things, including soy, bamboo and seaweed to name a few. I was probably a bit of a know-it-all, but I absolutely love telling my husband things he doesn’t know already. Even if it outs me as a yarn dork to the Nth degree . . . .a fact that I generally keep on the DL* with the non-knitters. You know how it is . . .

*Yes, 1999 did just call; and yes, it would like its slang back.

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Another Peaceful Saturday Morning

November 25, 2006 at 11:28 pm (Inspiration, knitting, Work in Progress)

I spent my precious Saturday morning with a lovely companion . . .


Trellis Scarf in Progress

I settled in with the Trellis Scarf, a cup of very strong coffee and Oliver, and away I went. It was a little awkward at first, as I’m not accustomed to laceweight. But I had the yarn in my stash and I’ve wanted a lacey scarf for some time now. The dreaded K7tog to five st decrease was actually not that bad. I made sure to purl the row before it very loosely and it went just fine, even on Clover bamboo needles. I may make my life easier and sharpen my needle tips, I think it would make the laceweight that much easier to handle.

I finally signed up for my library card this week and picked up some gems. Rochester has a great library system, and it’s searchable online. Plus I’m pretty particular about the knitting books I buy–both the budget and the fact that we have so many books that most of them live in boxes in the attic preclude too many knit book purchases. It’s ok, I’d rather check them out of the library and spend my money on yarn!

Books
Unfortunately they didn’t have EZ’s Knitting Without Tears when I went, but luckily my dear husband found it at one of the branches this morning. I’ll have excellent reading all week now. I think I see a Ganomy hat and mitred mittens in my future . . .

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Lookee What I Did

November 24, 2006 at 9:39 am (knitting, Work in Progress)

While digesting a delicious Thanksgiving dinner yesterday, I performed a miracle of knitting. turned the heel of my very first sock, and began gusset decreases.

[Insert angelic chorus here.]

Turned Heel

For those more experienced knitters, this may not be so exciting. But considering that I’m just coming up on my first knitaversary, this is a wonder. I’m so pleased that actually can’t wait to try kitchener stitch. I’m not kidding!

When my fingers fatigued from the tiny metal needles, I cast on and made some good headway on my other sister’s Christmas Hat, the Basic Cable from Stitch N Bitch Nation in Paton’s Classic Merino Wool in Natural Mix.

Basic Cable Start

Now, while it annoys me that the bottom ribbing doesn’t line up with the cables, I think I will actually like it once it’s finished, and more importantly, I think it will look really nice on my sister’s head.

In other knitting news, I think I’m going to frog the Irish Hiking Scarf. I’m almost done with it, so this is very painful, but frankly I think I should be knitting it on a smaller sized needle. It’s just too drapy and doesn’t have the nice cable pop. Sigh . . . I’m going to have to marinate the thought for a little longer though before I pull out all that work.

And since dear husband and I will be spending Christmas with his family down south, we’ll be celebrating the holiday with my family on December 16. Which means, I have about three weeks to finish my projects. Eeek!! Since lists sooth my Virgo heart, here’s the status of my Christmas knitting:

Flower Basket Shawl for Mom: Done!

Irish Hiking Scarf for Dad: Must be frogged and restarted . . .  I think . . .

Basic Cable for Eldest Sister: 40%

Odessa for Middle Sister: Done!

London Beanie for Brother-in-Law: Need to fix the color jogs a bit, but otherwise Done!

V-Neck Cardigan for Sweet Niece: Needs to be seamed and then I can pick up and knit the front button band.

Scarf & Fingerless Gloves for Husband: If time permits . . .

So I think I’m doing all right. I’m much less intimidated by the button band on the baby sweater now that I’ve turned the heel on a sock!! I love how even the most intimidating aspects to knitting, most always turn out to be relatively simple in execution.

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Strange Designs

November 17, 2006 at 3:14 pm (Inspiration, knitting)

Do you find that knitting makes you consider wearing things that you wouldn’t otherwise? I normally dress very plainly—jeans and a black sweater or t-shirt mainly. The knitting certainly steers me away from my black top comfort zone, mostly because it is pretty uninspiring to knit in black, and because it could possibly ruin my already feeble eyesight. It also encourages me to try different constructions, assymetrical sillouettes and patterned stitches. I mean, seriously, would any of us ever worn a shrug if they weren’t so easy and fun to knit? A lace triangle shawl? Legwarmers? Anyone?

I was checking out the spring preview for Knitscene (which, why is there a Spring preview out before Christmas?) and I noticed this little number.

Orbit Lace Top

I would probably never have picked this out if I weren’t a knitter, but I really, really like this and it looks like it would be interesting to make. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with it, per se, but it’s strapless and tunic-length. Not what I normally wear or even pick up to try on in a store. I’d probably put on some straps and do it in another color, but don’t you think this would look great in the summer over a tank top with a black pencil skirt? Or over an A-shirt with jeans and flip flops even.

I guess what the knitting does is expose us to designers with a view that is certainly different than those designers that Banana Republic, Gap and the like employ. That’s not to say I’ve never shopped at those stores or that there is anything wrong with them. I’m just saying that as fashion becomes increasingly homogenous, it’s nice to be able to make something one of a kind that was dreamed up by a designer that doesn’t have to think about appeasing the majority of the population. Knitting gives us an in with fresh design without haute couture prices. And that makes me really happy. Even if that means I end up knitting tube tops and legwarmers from time to time.

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Absence Has Made You Fonder, Hopefully

November 16, 2006 at 6:26 pm (FO, knitting, Work in Progress)

Wow, hi there. Where the hell has the last week gone? I haven’t blogged since last Wednesday? How did that happen? Well, my husband finished his finals for the quarter (he’s in grad school), which means I’m spending a lot less time thinking and obsessing about knitting, for one. And work has been really busy, in a really good way, so I’ve been focused on that too.

 That doesn’t mean I’ve stopped knitting though. I’m still chugging along on some Christmas WIPs, and I have plans to cast on some lace too.Here’s the round-up . . .

Irish Hiking Scarf Progress 

Irish Hiking Scarf—Now, even though I refer to this particular project as “The Scarf That Eats Time,” in the appropriate booming voice, I am managing to knock off a few inches of this every day. Not the most exciting knit, but it’s getting there. Hopefully I can wrap it up in the next two weeks or so. Vague enough timeline for you?

Koigu Sock Koigu Sock—This one’s probably going to take me a while, so it will fill the required “mindless stockinette WIP for movie-watching” slot for a while. I’ve actually gotten used to DPNs on this one, which is a huge accomplishment for me. I never thought it would happen.

 And finally, I do have a finished object to show you (I’m a stinker putting it at the end of the post, aren’t I. . .well that’s because it’s really not all that exciting)

Pete’s London Beanie

Pattern: London Beanie by Sarah Bradberry 
Source: Knitting-and
Materials: Paton’s Classic Merino Wool (100% Merino Wool) in Light Grey Mix, Dark Grey Mix and Paprika, 1 skein each; Inox 16″ Circulars, Size 7, Susan Bates 16″ Circulars, Size 6, Brittany Birch DPNs, Size 7
Started: November 11, 2006
Completed: November 13, 2006
This is a Christmas gift for my dear brother-in-law, as my husband claimed the first one I made. The BIL has a healthy-sized noggin, so I cast on 90 st instead of the recommended 72 and knit the ribbing portion on a smaller needle. I also did not increase after the ribbing like the pattern recommends, because of the aforementioned needle size change. I really love this pattern, and I will make many, many more of these. I’ll probably make another for my husband soon, but in the orange color with different color grey stripes.

These projects are pretty simple, which is why I’ve made a deal with myself that once I’ve seamed and finished my neice’s baby sweater (still haven’t done that–for shame!) I can cast on some lace. I’m thinking either Evelyn Clark’s Lace Leaf Shawl from Fibertrends in Karabella Breeze or her Trellis Scarf from Interweave in the recommended Knitpicks Alpaca Cloud. I also want to cast on some fingerless gloves with some Green Mountain Spinnery Mountain Mohair that I purchased a while back. I’m really disappointed in how the Little Twist Armwarmers I made have worn. I’ve only had them for a month or so and the Knitpicks Swish is just pilling horribly. They really look bad. I hate when that happens . . .

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We Have A Knitter Down . . .

November 8, 2006 at 9:26 pm (oliver)

Oliver's Snooze

I’m starting this post with a gratuitous cute puppy shot. Awww . . . .he folds into carry-on size!

The puppy shot is to distract you from the fact that I have no knitting news to share with you. Well, maybe a little: I started a sock and made some progress on the Irish Hiking scarf. But really, nothing all that interesting. Plus I can’t really knit right now, and that’s depressing me. Why can’t you knit, you ask? Well, I fell down and went boom.

That’s right, I fell down my stairs.

I was calling Ollie to come upstairs to bed last night and heard him barking and whining downstairs. So, I went to run downstairs to see what was wrong. In retrospect, I was moving way too fast and wearing socks on hardwood floors. Not smart. So, once I got to the stairs I did one of those zzzziiiiipppp . . . . ooooooh! airborne moves and fell. Hard. All the way down nine stairs and slammed into the wall at the landing.

Anyway. When I fell I jammed my right hand and now it’s a little painful to knit. Nothing’s broken or anything, I mean, obviously I can type. It’s just bruised, but still. Hurts! To knit! Sigh . . .

Moral of this story? Don’t run in the house. Yes, your mom was right. Especially when you have hardwood floors and you’re wearing socks. And especially if you’re a Virgo and Mercury is in retrograde. Seriously.

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Flower Basket Shawl

November 6, 2006 at 4:33 pm (FO, knitting)

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Pattern: Flower Basket Shawl by Evelyn A. Clark
Source: Interweave Knits, Fall 2004
Materials: Frog Tree Sportweight (100% Alpaca) in #26, 3 skeins; Clover Bamboo 24″ Circulars, Size 6
Started: October 6, 2006
Completed: November 5, 2006

Dimensions: Before blocking, 37″ x 16″; after blocking 54″ x 22″
The only modification was going down a needle size. I really like Brooklyn Tweed‘s versions of the Evelyn Clark shawls; they always have a really nice texture and weight to them. Because I went down a needle size, I did have to add two pattern repeats to get it to the dimensions I wanted, which is why I almost ran out of yarn. I swear, until the very end, I did not think I was going to make it!

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This is a Christmas present for my Mom, so I wanted to make something really nice. Not to get too mushy, but my Mom is just an excellent human being—kind and generous—she encompasses all of the best motherly qualities. And she is a crafter, a potter mostly, but she delves into rug hooking, beading, brass rubbing (seriously!), and any other number of crafty pursuits. I actually remember her embroidering a tapestry when I was a little kid! So tangent aside, she is a woman who really appreciates a handmade gift.

I’ve already waxed poetic about this yarn, but what the hey I’m going to do it again! The yarn is so soft, almost silky,  and it comes in a lot of vibrant, beautiful colors. Plus, you’re supporting a good cause when you buy it. It is produced by a non-profit cooperative in Bolivia that provides supplementary income to the women who produce the yarn.* Just keep in mind that it bleeds when blocked so you do have to rinse it a few times so as not to dye any unsuspecting towels.

fbwrapped.jpg

Please ignore my pale, sickly skin—the only reason I was able to post this with reasonable pictures is that I’m home sick . . sniffle sniffle . . . cough cough . . .

This was definitely challenging when I started. It was difficult to remember the pattern and checking every stitch on the chart was a pain. I did a lot of tinking. But after a few repeats the pattern starts to make sense and the rhythm of each row becomes evident. At that point you can just check each row on the chart and off you go. It really is a good entry level shawl, I think. So in sum, a fun project made with feel-good yarn for a wonderful mother. I’m definitely going to have to make myself a shawl relatively soon. Just for symmetry I’ll have to complete the Evelyn Clark trifecta with the Lace Leaf Shawl and the Shetland Triangle. Maybe then a Swallowtail Shawl, and Ene’s Scarf . . . . hmmmm . . . .

*See this link for more information.

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Shhhh . . . It’s Blocking . . . .

November 5, 2006 at 8:41 pm (Finishing, knitting, oliver)

I finally finished the Flower Basket Shawl, it’s now blocking . . .

Flower Basket Blocking

I’ll do the full report once it dries, but suffice it to say, I cut it really close with the yardage.

Leftover Yarn

This was quite the nailbiter. Ollie’s glad it’s all over now, as I will once again have plenty of time to give belly rubs.

Ollie’s Relief

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Silver Lining

November 3, 2006 at 9:08 pm (Yarn)

It’s been a bad week. A really bad week.

koigu1.jpg

I was encouraged to go to the LYS by someone sympathetic . . .
Two hanks of Koigu PPPM #P134 brought to you by spousal enabling in the face of weepy, stressed wife.

(These will be my first socks, by the way. I’ve come over to the dark side.)

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Mmmmm . . . Lace

November 1, 2006 at 5:58 pm (knitting, Work in Progress, Yarn)

Isn’t it amazing how the project on which you most want to work reflects your mindset  at any given time? For me, when I’m in a nesting mode, I want sweaters, I want wool. When I’m feeling restless, it’s got to be the small, intricate project. When I’m sad, mindless stockinette, all the way. And when I’m stressed and overwhelmed . . .  I want lace. I’m aware that the nodding probably stopped with the last one there.

When the going gets tough for me, well . . . I really don’t want to think about it. Without going into too much detail, work has been really challenging this week. When I’m stressed out, I find it near impossible to turn my brain off, stop its racing and give it rest time. Enter lace knitting. It is a balm for my chapped and bruised mind. I can’t think about anything else while I’m doing it, and yet it has an enormously soothing rhythm in each row that encourages muscle memory. I feel so accomplished when I’ve finished that repeat and I stretch out the knitting before me to see a beautiful pattern emerge. It’s like magic.

So, as you can imagine, the Flower Basket Shawl is getting some long overdue attention this week. And if work keeps up the way it has, it’ll be done before Thanksgiving.

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Oh, and this yarn, Frog Tree Alpaca Sport, is so silky soft too. The color’s a little off on my monitor; it’s got more red in it than fuscia, but you get the general idea.

Definitely. Try it.

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