Thursday, December 28, 2006

Like Buttuh.

IMG_2618.JPG I made myself a hat. I started the hat last week, on a knit date with my best knitting bud. I used Malabrigo angora for the brim, which was so heavenly soft to knit, I didn't even mind when I had to rip out all of my work halfway through and start again. See, I was going for a slouchy, slightly oversized thing with this hat. I hate when hats flatten my hair and stick to my face. What I got the first time was just too freaking big. This one is just right.

365_71 I wanted the angora to be the only thing touching my forehead, since pretty much everything makes my forehead itch, including the buttery soft Malabrigo merino I used for the top. Both yarns are in the Pollen colorway. I have more than enough of the merino left over for some mittens, which have to be next on my list. My poor hands were freezing this morning, wrapped around the icy steering wheel. Don't get me wrong, I love winter! I love snow and cold weather! As long as I am prepared for both. Once I have my fancy new mittens, I'll be into winter again. (And maybe also a nose warmer.)

Thoughts are turning to sweaters, and I am definitely feeling pulled by the Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Astrakhan that has been in my knitting basket for over a year. Before I dive into the cardigan I planned to make with it, though, Amy suggested I check out some of DB's new patterns for this yarn. I do love the cardigan, but maybe she's come up with something I like even more. It's so important to keep your options open, don't you think?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Something Cool

I've been meaning to post this for days! I found a nice new online knitting magazine called knitonthenet. In particular, I was quite taken with this little number. I'm not sure how practical it is, but it looks like something that could get a lot of wear in spring and fall, when a sweater alone is enough. Or even something I could keep at work, where I am always cold. I'll have to keep my eye on this magazine.

IMG_2307.JPGAnother cool thing: frogged corrugated ribbing! I guess I should have known that this would happen, but I was surprised when the pink yarn just started unravelling without my having to do the white at the same time. Saved a lot on tangles. I also frogged the hair scarf. My progress was pitiful, though I did take a photo (haven't taken it off the camera yet). In the words of a very wise knitter, "Life's too short to knit something you hate." Her reward for showing me the light is the ball of Kidsilk Night I've come to despise. I'm sure she will do something much better with it.

So that means that holiday knitting is complete. I think my first order of business will be a hat for myself, as it's getting cold here, and I could use one. I also need a new pair of mittens. All I have now is a crappy fleece pair (good for fall but useless in winter), and a heavy-duty thrummed pair (more suitable for brutally frigid February). I'm envisioning Malabrigo for both. I'll have a date with the ballwinder and swift tonight! I have a knit date tomorrow, and need to start a project!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Long Time!

I feel like it's been a hundred years since I last posted! There has been a lot going on: shopping, baking, bunny care, and, oh yeah, knitting.
365_59 I made a scarf for a co-worker. I usually give this lady a giant tin of popcorn (her fave), but due to some health issues this year, she can't have popcorn. So I thought a simple scarf would be just the ticket. This used one skein of Colinette Giotto in Lichen, and I knit it using US15 needles! The only US15 needles I have are a set of double points, but faced with whether to obsess over lost stitches or buy a set of US15 straights, I chose obsession. What can I say? I live on the edge. I definitely could have gotten away with a few fewer repeats and had fuller fringe. After blocking, this scarf stretched like nobody's business. It hung down to my knees!

365_61 There's a bit of back story to this one. There's a girl in my office who loves hand knits, and I decided at the last minute to make her something for Christmas. After a brief search, I decided that Calorimetry would be perfect for her, as she is always wearing headbands and rarely wears a hat. I busted some Lamb's Pride from my stash and got started. It was a fast knit, and I finished it in one sitting. I was feeling so pleased with myself for finishing it on Friday and having the whole weekend before I gave it to her, that I decided to give it a nice wash. Uh, yeah... isn't there some rule against wet blocking ribbing? There should be. That poor sucker stretched out so far that it would still be too big if I wore it over a football helmet. I tried felting it down a little, getting it damp, putting it through the washer (!), all to no avail. Calorimetry was a lost cause. Last night I decided I still really wanted to make something for this girl, and remembered a cabled headband from Knitty, Nakiska. I dove into the stash again (this is the kind of emergency stashes are made for!), and came up with a light green acrylic/angora blend by TLC called Cara Mia. As with all good things, this yarn has been discontinued. It's been sitting in my stash for eons, and I'm almost sorry I even chose it for this project, because I'll probably never find any again. This yarn is wonderful! It has none of that plastic-y feel of acrylic, and all of the softness of angora. It reminded me of a cotton/angora blend, but with more elasticity. As an added bonus, it suited this project perfectly, and I ended up with something I'm proud to give away. Please note the five piece luggage set under my eyes. I finished this in a measley two hours, but that put my finish at 10:30pm. I wove in the ends this morning, and decided against blocking. Why tempt fate?

Thanks for the concern over Baxter and Cooper! They are getting along much better with the gate between them (no more attacking the gate), but we haven't put them together again yet. It turns out that Cooper gave Baxter quite an injury on his neck the last time, and we are on a routine of antibiotics and wound cleansing for the little guy. You'd never know he has an issue, though! He is as cheerful and spunky as ever! And, Pioggia, the rats are marvelous! They LOVE all of the wrapping paper in the bedroom, and especially love it when I put a few wads of tissue paper in their cage.

Mrs. Cooper is partial to the tree.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Another lesson in gauge.

IMG_2282.JPG What you see in this picture is a tragic lesson in gauge. You'd think that after the many, many lessons in gauge I've learned over the years, I would know better, but no. This tragedy could have been averted by two things: better organization and less laziness. Unfortunately, these two things work in tandem, or I may have had a fighting chance. See, the pattern I'm working suggests a US3 needle for gauge. I know I've used US3 double points recently, but I couldn't find them anywhere. I have about ten sets of US1 and US2 dpn, but only one pair of US3. I still can't find them. Now, don't be fooled by this narrative into thinking I looked very hard. I handily convinced myself that, since I routinely use at least one needle size smaller than recommended in any pattern, I could use the set of US2 dpn conveniently in my hand, and that searching for the US3 set would be pointless because I wouldn't get gauge with them anyway. Yeah, the ribbing seemed kind of snug, but I deluded myself with the magic of blocking and continued. Only when I actually got into the meat of the project did I see the folly in all of my thinking up to that point. The silver lining to this whole sad tale is I rekindled my love of bamboo, and today I purchased another set of US3 needles in bamboo. Also, the knitting will go faster with the larger needles. Perhaps this is my penance for putting down the tangled hair scarf. I hereby promise to do four whole repeats as compensation.

IMG_2265.JPGIn other news, we have a new friend here! Meet Baxter! We adopted him from the shelter on Friday. Mrs. Cooper met him at the shelter with conficting results, so we brought him home to begin the bonding process. The initial meeting at home was less than stellar, but we're trying another approach that seems to be working. Since Cooper doesn't have a cage, we put a baby gate up between the room where Baxter's cage is and Cooper's area, and they interact through the gate. At first they constantly batted at each other through the cage, but now they've been witnessed laying next to the gate occasionally in short cease-fires. Things are looking up!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Baby's First Corrugated Ribbing!

IMG_2255.JPG I've been sitting on this pattern for awhile, and decided to try to pull it off for a Christmas gift. Unfortunately for you, the intended recipient reads this blog occasionally, so I can't say what it is. I can't resist showing off my first ever corrugated ribbing, though! This project was supposed to be the one I turned to as a break from my other project (more on that later), but it was the only thing I worked on tonight. I'm using Dale of Norway Falk, which I love already. It's wonderfully soft and has beautiful stitch definition. I want to make a sweater out of it.

IMG_2252.JPG Now on to the more difficult of my projects. First of all, is it just me, or does this look like a giant tangle of hair? Maybe it's because it resembles the hair I pull from my hairbrush (I dye my hair black). It's actually Kidsilk Night, and the beginnings of a lace scarf (Knotted Openwork Scarf). Now, if you've been reading my blog for a little while, you probably know that I have issues with mohair. Between the slipperiness of the yarn and my own sensitivity, I can only pull off maybe two or three repeats a night. I'm using plastic needles, and I'm thinking of picking up a pair of wood or bamboo needles for the extra grip. Right now, itchiness and sneezing aside, I don't understand why this yarn has such a devoted following. It's made me as careful and precise as a new knitter, watching every stitch, holding the needles with an iron grip. Which, now that I think of it, is kind of nice. I guess we all need some humbling sometimes.

Lastly, and only tenuously related to knitting, does anyone else have the total, crazed addiction to Beverly Hills, 90210 that I have? I drew blood once in a remote war to watch it, and am in absolute heaven that season 1 is on DVD. It's been my constant knitting companion. I only wish they'd hurry up and release more seasons!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Another one down!

365_47 I've worked on nothing else except the socks since my last post, and the dedication paid off! I finished them last night, blocked them, and they were completely dry this morning (gotta love radiators). I just love the subtle color variations in these, and while the stitch pattern became tedious, the effect is well worth it. These socks have all the stretch of ribbing, with a slightly different look. Kinda fancy, but plain enough that my boyfriend will actually wear them. I think my next project will be a drop-stitch scarf with honkin' needles. I need some instant gratification! [edited to add: I forgot to comment on the quality of the yarn after a wash! It did blossom nicely, and became very soft and squishy. I was a little worried that it would develop a serious halo while it was wet, but all fuzziness calmed down after it was dry. I do recommend this yarn, but keep in mind the string factor it has while being knit from the skein.]

I'm already thinking ahead to post-Christmas knitting. I keep finding myself squeezing my sock yarn stash, so I'm seeing some socks for myself in my future (maybe even a completed pair of Hedera). I bought some delicious sock yarn today in a pink and brown colorway, and I also have a very fun yellow/orange mix. Speaking of yellow, it's getting very cold here, so it's got to be time to get going on the yellow Malabrigo hat I've been planning. The other day, while I was at work, I found my mind wandering through the stash, and it settled on some dark red, bulky weight wool I've had for years that I bought at the Champlain Valley Fair in Vermont. It's too scratchy for a sweater to wear close to the skin, but it suddenly occurred to me that it would make an awesome jacket. I made a little sketch on my scratch paper, but I don't know if anything will come of it. I don't know much about design, and I would want this jacket to have princess seams. I'd love any recommendations on knit design books, if anyone has any. I have some basic formula books (like Ann Budd's books), but nothing that really talks about creating something in multiple sizes with specific details. Also, did I mention that my dad wants an aran sweater? This is so exciting, because he hasn't worn sweaters in years! Plus, dude! He wants an aran. He requested something heavily cabled! I'm beside myself with excitement. I'm a bit stymied on yarn requirements, though. My dad is over six feet tall, and like 200+ pounds. I know it'll be a lot of yarn, but how much is a lot? I will cross that bridge when I come to it, I guess. Christmas knitting first! (Notice how I've retained enough sanity that I refrained from adding my dad's aran to Christmas knitting? I think it'll be for his birthday. Kidding! His birthday is December 29.)