Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I Love FOs!

This is the Coif I was talking about the other day. True to my word, the next time I worked on it, I finished it. This project is super fast, which is no surprise. It calls for US9 needles and bulky weight yarn! I used a double strand of Malabrigo and the suggested needles. Amazingly, I still have left over Malabrigo! It's like the yarn that never ends!

The only modifications I did were to add a little length to the ties and add pom poms. Love the pom poms. These were the best I have ever made. The secret? When you think you've used enough yarn, use more. When you think you might have used too much yarn? Use some more. Beautiful, fluffy pom poms will be your reward.

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Not only is this headgear cute as heck, but it's also very warm. You just gotta love functional fashion. Speaking of function, I love that I can wear this with my hair pulled back into pigtails or a ponytail. Nine times out of ten, by the end of the day, my hair is pulled back and I can't wear a hat over it. I mean, I could, but I loathe those big lumps under hats. Seeing as I don't walk any great distance in the winter, I suffer with cold ears while my car warms. No more!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Who, me? Impatient?

Click to go to the Flickr page!So there I was, happily trucking away on my Slimline Jacket, anticipating the thrill of binding off the back, wondering if I should start the fronts or sleeves next, and whether I should knit them at once, when I was doing it, I was binding off, and I was so excited. I folded the piece up and poked in my basket and thought of what to start next. "Oh, what the hell," I thought, "I could cast on for a sleeve." I pulled out the pattern again and what did I see? My eyes widened with horror (and a little regret) when I noticed that I had omitted the shoulder shaping on the back. I sighed, and considered for a moment how dire it would be if I left the shaping out, but came to my senses, and began taking out the bound off edge.

Click to go to Flickr page!Astrakhan is a lovely yarn, it is. It makes a very interesting fabric, it's soft, and while it's a little strange at first, it is pleasant to knit. But (you must have known that was coming), it is the worst yarn in the yarn store to frog. I only got about a quarter through, when I realized I was really hauling on that yarn to get it free, and pulling just a little too hard on the fabric to try to discern which loops were stitches, and which were just texture. I took a deep breath and set it aside, and I'm so glad I did. This morning I calmly took out the bind off, plus another row, and picked up the stitches. I didn't even flinch when I realized I had picked up too many. That will work itself out as I knit the row. The back is waiting for me right now, in fact, to finish it properly.

Click to go to the Flickr page!Finding myself in that situation last night of wanting to knit, but a danger to my project, I did the only thing I could. I cast on for something else. I've had Coif on my mind ever since it came out, but last night was the night to start it. If I work on it tonight, I'll finish it. It's fast, fun and cute! It's also an opportunity to work on my pom-poms. I think those ties desperately need them. Don't you?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Oh, the joy of an FO!

365_100 I don't think it took me this long to finish the first pair of socks I ever knit. These are worth the wait though. I put them on the second I finished, and I haven't taken them off yet. The yarn is very soft and warm, and I love looking down at my feet and seeing that sweet little lace pattern.

As I said before, these socks are fraternal (though in this picture, the difference isn't so obvious). I'm not sure what I was thinking about when I set up the heel stitches of the first sock, but I had fewer stitches for the bottom of the sock, and an off-center lace pattern. You know what, though? I really like the first sock. There's a twisted column of stitches between each lace panel, and in the wonky sock, one of those columns goes up the center of my foot. This means less distortion in the lace panels. If I ever make these again, I'll have to remember my mistake.

IMG_2934.JPG Work continues on the Slimline Jacket. I keep having to pause in my knitting to rub the finished fabric against my cheek. The boucle makes the most interesting texture, and the fiber is so soft! I can not wait to wear this sweater. I'm almost up to the armhole shaping on the back, and felt a little rush when I realized that I'm more than halfway through with the largest piece of the sweater!

So now I'm picking through the basket, basically deciding between socks and mittens. I'm waiting anxiously for the Spring issue of Interweave Knits! I am most excited for Stefanie Japel's sweater, the yellow wrap sweater on the cover, and Grumperina's socks (she has a closeup photo on her blog).

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Today's color is blue!

IMG_2893.JPG I love the color blue, it's my favorite, but I don't knit with it much. Right now, I have two blue projects going! The first, of course, is Hedera. Only a few inches to go, and I'll be wearing some new socks! This will need to be the first pair in a long line this year. After a chat with Amy the other day regarding sock yarn, I went and counted my sock yarn stash. I have more than I thought. I have enough for twenty-six pairs of socks, which is a little intimidating, frankly. It was just so easy to pick up a skein here, a couple of balls there, and throw them in their little basket. Luckily, I have my eye on a few patterns from Knitty, as well as a couple of pattern books with only sock patterns. Good thing I'm crazy about socks right now!

IMG_2869.JPG Speaking of Amy, she saved my Astrakhan this weekend. I was so excited when I checked the mail on Saturday and found Out of Town by Debbie Bliss. Amy had pointed out the Slimline Jacket, and offered to lend me the book. I was so excited that I, for one second, considered canceling my trip to Grandma's to cast on. Naturally, Grandma won, but you'd better believe I casted on the second I got home! I didn't make much progress, and even though I took a photo, it's only about an inch, so I don't think it's worthy of showing yet. I made great progress today, pretty well finishing one ball of yarn. I love the fabric, and I can't wait to wear this sweater!

It feels so good to be jumping into a big project again!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Just Call Me Ms. Fixit!

IMG_2825.JPG I feel quite virtuous having repaired something rather than throwing it in the trash. Perhaps this will become a trend! I know that I'm already planning to make a vest to help salvage a shirt that the rats chewed a hole through in the button placket. Maybe I could become one of those people who actually seperates the recycling again. Someone who fixes hems and makes over old clothes! For now, though, I'm happy with the sock.

IMG_2821.JPG Please note the plain toe. I know I said a tiger toe would be funky, and it would be, but when I remembered that I have a good amount of leftover Gloss, I decided to stick with the plain theme. I used as much of the old yarn as I could, but I admit to getting tired of cutting out thin spots, and tossing about a half inch worth in favor of the Gloss. I'm a little concerned about the integrity of the recycled yarn, and have already decided that if these bust a hole again, I'm going to replace all of the affected area with brand new sock yarn, rather than going on another salvage mission. Not repairing them again is not an option. You should have seen how happy my boyfriend was to have them again. Almost made me feel bad for letting them languish. Almost. He has gotten two new pairs of socks since the hole.

Monday, January 15, 2007


Ladies and gentlemen, I am on fire! I feel very motivated by my decision to knit through the basket. So motivated that I went ahead and pulled out an ancient project (this puppy is at least three years old).

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This is one of the first pairs of socks I ever made, and the first pair ever to spring a hole. Not that this sock sprang a hole recently. This sock has been sitting in this state for about a year now, with the hole inadequately patched with some bastardization of darning. After reading Claudia's Blog from the tenth, the answer to this holey question came to me. In photo two, you can see the result of my epiphany. I frogged past the hole. Of course, I lost some yarn (surprisingly little), but I think a bit of a tiger toe will be funky. Unfortunately, I got rid of all the rest of this yarn since I detested it. It's very hairy and sticky, and it was a nightmare to knit. Frogging was also difficult, as these socks were worn often and hard (did I mention that these are my boyfriend's?), and the ball of the foot area was quite felted (the heel is completely felted). All of that aside, I am so excited to fix this sock! My boyfriend will be excited, and it won't be hanging over my conscience anymore.

IMG_2789.JPG The green sock is not the only resurrected project. I've also dug out the yarn for Hedera #2. I'm past the heel, and should be done soon! One snag... my Hedera will be fraternal twins. I somehow screwed up the heel placement on the first sock, which I didn't even realize until I was working this one. Anyway, since I don't wear socks with sandals, no one will see the feet portions, and I can live with the occasional glimpse of imperfection.

I've set aside the Astrakhan (again) in anticipation of a new pattern. More on that when I have it in my hot little hands. Lastly, most of the yarn pictured in my basket last time seemed easily recognizable, but the green sock yarn had a couple of people asking questions. The yarn is Austermann Step. I'm very curious about how this is going to knit up, and am currently lookign at different patterns. I'm definitely leaning toward another pair of Jaywalkers!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Just in time!

365_86 Well, not just in time. If I had finished the mittens two nights ago, that would have been perfect timing for the sub-zero temperatures that descended over my region this week. Great motivation though, and I finished mitten number two last night. I was oh so happy to have them, though they are covering my smile in this picture. To recap: I used Malabrigo in Pollen and US3 needles (bamboo, I'm a convert). I made two mittens and the top portion of the hat I'm wearing with them using less than one skein of yarn. I have an entire skein left, and am considering doing a little ear warmer thing for when I'm wearing a ponytail or have my hair up (most days).

IMG_2744.JPG So now that my mittens are done, I can move on to other projects. I was thinking today about what I should knit, and realized that I haven't done a big project in a long time. You know how, sometimes, you feel like reading some books you've read before, or some fluffy bestsellers, and after about two or three of those in a row you have a need to pick up something with substance again? That's how I'm feeling with my knitting. This photo is of my knitting basket. Most of the yarn on top is from recent purchases for specific projects. I used the flash so I could share the deep recesses with you. See that hint of blue? That's the Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Astrakhan that's been marinating for over a year, taking up precious space in my basket. I made a goal, a pact with myself, that I will knit this basket empty. I don't have a time frame set, but I want to knit exclusively from the basket until it's empty (excluding a couple of single skeins purchased for swatching). The basket's contents include materials for the second Hedera, Anamoi mittens, Pirate Mittens, a pair of socks, and the Astrakhan cardigan from Vogue Knitting Fall 2005. I swatched for it tonight! Funny thing, US5 needles are still too big, and yet the pattern suggests US7 and 8 needles. I can't frog my swatch any more, the yarn is starting to lose its boucle properties.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

We have booties!

IMG_2729.JPG What's a baby sweater without booties, right? In the past, I've always used the same pattern (it's a good one, but I can't find the link right now), and while I like it, it was getting a little boring. Back in October, I bought 50 Baby Bootees to Knit by Zoe Mellor, which is awesome. There are so many cute booties to knit! I wanted something that had some garter stitch, to match the sweater, but all of the garter stitch booties seemed to use dk weight yarn, and I wanted to use the rest of the Lorna's Laces.

365_82 This particular pair was made using the Anchor Bootees pattern, which calls for intarsia and stripes. I liked the shape of these though, and decided to knit them plain. They were so fast and fun, I'm sure I'll make more of these.

I hit Halcyon yesterday to cash in on a gift certificate and picked up the new issue of Vogue Knitting, without even flipping through it. Generally, Vogue Knitting is a little hit or miss for me, but I can count on at least two or three patterns I'd like to make. Sadly, I can't say that for this issue. First of all, I flipped through [wait, I can give you an exact number] 33 pages of advertising, articles disguised as advertising, and a couple of short pieces before I even reached the patterns. As for the patterns, there were a couple that I thought were interesting, but don't see myself wearing. One is the cover project, by Norah Gaughan. I love how the cables come together and look like snowflakes, and I love the collar, but I just don't do the whole cropped top thing. The other is the red dress featured in New York Noir. In the Northern Lights section, there is an extremely bulky, oversized cable sweater that actually looks really comfortable and I may make someday. I think that's actually the only thing I would make. Even Michael Kors let me down in this issue, with his contribution of a shiny, crocheted minidress. The two sections that I thought were complete wastes were the men's section, and the freaking intarsia extravaganza that is "The Subject is Roses." The men's sweaters... I may be rendered speechless here. Most of us have a hard time convincing a man to try stripes, or cables, or maybe branching out from the gray/black/navy/brown palette. Yet Vogue Knitting brazenly includes a striped red sweater with a giant intarsia handprint on it. AND, an asymetrical cardigan that left my mouth hanging open. And the roses, oh god the roses. Not since 1995 have I seen such reckless use of intarsia on a sweater. Is this look seriously coming back? Are the nineties already retro? It looks like the only knitting magazine I can buy without flipping through first is Interweave. I suppose it's just as well, since I have enough magazines to cripple someone if they fell over.

Next up, time to make that second mitten before winter realizes it's past due and gives an icy whallop to remind us.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

...and for my next trick....

IMG_2704.JPG The mystery project is complete! I received an email the other day that made the completion of this project necessary. Don't babies know they're supposed to wait for their sweaters to be completed?

That's right! I made Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Surprise Jacket! I just love this little thing. Once I finished the rectangle, I amused myself for at least thirty minutes, folding and refolding it into a tiny sweater. I gave the rectangle to my boyfriend and challenged him to make a sweater. He got it dissapointingly quickly. Maybe I shouldn't have told him it was meant to be a sweater. This pattern, I think, is a testament to the genius of Elizabeth Zimmerman, and has shown me the way. I've got to buy all of her books right now. I've been seeing a lot of another cardigan of hers, most recently on Tipper's blog, that is so sweet. I just wish someone I know would have a girl.

This pattern was one of the more challenging I have completed, mostly because the "pattern" is more of a guideline. I'm sure someone with more knitting experience than I would have an easier time with it, but I had to make a spreadsheet to keep track (on the advice of Ellen). Once I had the spreadsheet, the project was a breeze. I used about 1.25 skeins of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport in Flames, and US5 needles. I mattress stitched the seams together, as I was at a loss how to invisibly seam multi-directional garter stitch. This was my most successful go at mattress stitch, and I have officially added it to my seaming repertoire. I casted on for some wee booties last night to match the sweater. No further information on mitten #2, it is still in yarn form.

As an aside: on my monitor at home, these pictures look good, but when I look at pictures at work (on my break, sheesh!), I notice they look darker. How do they look to you?

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year! Have a mitten.

IMG_2690.JPG I didn't get to do much knitting this weekend, I spent most of my time cleaning and putting away Christmas. I did manage to start and finish this mitten yesterday, though! You know what this means? It means that half of this pair was finished in 2006, and the other half will be a 2007 fo! So maybe it's a little nerdy of me to be so tickled by that, but I am. I'm hoping to work my single day mitten magic again today and have a pair to wear tomorrow. The Malabrigo makes an awesome mitten. It's soft, but feels surprisingly tough. I'm using my new US3 bamboo needles, and I am really liking them. I do think it's a little weird that the company etches in their name and needle size on each dpn (Clover), and I could see how that might cause issues with very fine or hairy yarn.

I'm getting pretty excited about that Astrakhan cardigan again, but will I be excited enough to actually make that swatch? Stay tuned!