Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sweet Little Things

I finally finished the Pirate Mittens the other day, and they are now not only dry, but on their way to their intended recipient. I like these mittens, but I wish I had done a couple of things differently.


First, as I've said before, I wish I had chosen a brighter pink to provide a more stark contrast with the cream. The skulls look washed out to me. The back and cuff, however, look fine, so I think if I had used these colors as stripes or in a simple pattern as on the palm, it would have been fine. The thing is, I chose these shades specifically because they match my friend's favorite pair of sneakers, so I'm not going to weep over it. She'll love them anyway.


The other thing I would have done differently is the thumb. Anatomically speaking, our thumbs come out of the side of our hands, not from our palms. I have only done one other hand covering project wherein the thumb was made this way, and they were my first pair of gloves. Quickly after making that pair, I moved onto using gussets, and never looked back. Turns out, I vastly prefer a gusset thumb. If I make another pair of Pirate Mittens, and I have the yarn for it), I will substitute a gusset somehow (not sure how, yet, but I'll figure it out).

That said, I was shocked at how warm these mittens are, considering that I used a fingering weight wool (I added four stitches total to the hand). I used Dale Baby Ull, one skein of each color, and US3 needles. I'm really hoping to be able to finish and wear Anemoi a couple of times this winter, but I don't know if it'll work. We've had a few warm days here already, and even though we're due for a storm on Friday, it looks Spring is starting to muscle it's way into being. I suppose I could always finish them and dream about Fall.

I'm making a vest for my nephew right now using Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran in the same shade of blue as my Slimline Jacket (I bought the yarn to use with the Astrakhan in the Vogue cardigan). I almost have the back completed, but didn't take a photo yesterday when I was doing the mittens. It's very simple anyway, just ribbing and stockinette. While chatting with Amy, I referred to it as knitting valium, and I find myself turning to it for the small snatches of time I get for knitting this week. The yarn is so soft and squishy, and I love the rhythm of knitting across and purling back. Just thinking about it almost has me contentedly drooling.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Guess what's done?

That's right, the Slimline Jacket! It was all seamed and ready to go on Wednesday night (maybe even Tuesday, can't remember), on Thursday I left work early to buy buttons and sewed them in, and I wore the jacket to work on Friday!


This might be my most favorite knit ever. It's very comfortable, the yarn is so incredibly soft and warm, and the pattern is practical for work and to throw on during the weekend (for the most part, my work clothes are completely different from my casual clothes).


I made a few eensy changes while I was knitting. I added a total of an inch to the fronts and the back, since stuff tends to come out a little short on me (go figure, I'm only 5'4" tall), and I added a wee bit more than an inch to the sleeves, because sleeves are always too short when I knit to pattern. But that was all. I loved making the collar best, I think. It made me feel so clever! (Even though I didn't even write the pattern.) I wet-blocked all of the pieces separately, except the collar, which I steam blocked. I used KnitPicks Gloss for the seams and as Pioggia asked in the comments, it did pill on the socks I made. A lot. I have socks that look better after dozens of wearing than that pair looked after one. I guess in that case, you get what you pay for. Bummer, I really liked knitting with that yarn.


I thought that pewter buttons would look really nice with the blue yarn, and I was right! These weren't exactly the kind of button I had in mind, but I like them all the same. The sweater itself is so simple, I thought I could go ahead and use a fancy button.

So, the basic rundown: The pattern is the Slimline Jacket by Debbie Bliss which appears in her book Out of Town. I used the recommended yarn, Cashmerino Astrakhan in color 31011, and used almost all of 10 balls, even though the pattern called for 9. I don't remember which needle was recommended, but I used US7.

In other news, I finished the second Pirate Mitten today! It's blocking right now, and I am gearing up to make a vest for my nephew using the Cashmerino Aran I had bought to make the Astrakhan Cardigan from VogueKnitting. I'm getting down into the depths of the basket, and can't wait to head down to the stash to fill it back up to the top!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

God, how I love YouTube.

Okay, so it's kind of making fun of knitters, but this video is hilarious!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

She's STILL working on that sweater?

Yes, I am still working on the Slimline Jacket. It feels like it's been a long time, I'll have to take a jaunt through the archives to see when I started. It's so close to being finished now, though, and I can't wait!


As modeled by the charming Evelyn. Of course, the side seams aren't done, so it looks floppy, but a quick check reveals that this sweater is going to fit perfectly. I have just a few more rows on the collar, and it looks like I'll have to steam block it (you can see how the fronts are not folding back like they should). I blocked the sleeves last night, and they were dry this morning. I know what I'm doing tonight!


I want to use pewter buttons for this. I think they'll look so pretty with this shade of blue. Unfortunately, I won't have a chance to go button shopping until this weekend! This is the last peek you'll see of the Slimline Jacket until it has buttons and I can show it off on a live person.

By the way, I'm using KnitPicks Gloss for seaming. The color matches almost perfectly, and it's doing the job well. I'm glad to have a way to use it up that won't result in another pilly garment (is a sock a garment?).


Here's a shot of the first completed Pirate Mitten by Hello Yarn. I'm happy with it, but I do wish that I had chosen colors with higher contrast. Live and learn, right? I can't believe that mitten weather is coming to a close already! I mean, I know we have cold days in March, but to me mitten weather is when the temperature dips below twenty degrees and stays there. Otherwise, my hands get hot. I think I might need to move to Alaska.

And, just because, a picture of our snowman. Do you know how hard it is to push a sliver of carrot into snow without it crumbling?


Saturday, February 17, 2007

Movin' Right Along


I must admit that work stalled for a day or two on the Slimline Jacket last week. I am one of those knitters who, in the face of a potential yarn shortage, works very slowly on her project (as opposed to those who speed up... I am the same way when low on gasoline). Fortunately, I found another ball of yarn buried in my basket, and work continued anew! I am about halfway through the sleeves, and at the rather boring "knit straight for x inches" portion of the program. Boring means that it's a good project for multitasking, though! Silver linings, you know.

I finished Pirate Mitten #1, but neglected to take a picture. I'll try to do better next time. Blocking evened everything out beautifully. Last night I cast on for the second mitten and worked a couple of rows. It's so nice to have a smooth yarn project to work on as a break from the boucle!

Speaking of smooth yarn projects, I made a hat this week, too. A friend wanted to give a Kitty62 hat to a friend for his birthday, so I promised to deliver. I found suitable yarn in my stash (Cascade 220), and finished the hat in about four hours. I guess when you make something four times, your fingers just know what to do! This time, I decided to do the ears differently. I've always knitted the ears separately and sewn them on after, and I did that this time, but instead of knitting the ear pieces separately, I knit them at once with a purl column for folding the halves into one ear. Brilliant, if I do say so myself. I never liked those little fiddley pieces, or sewing them together. This new way left me with one small seam, and then I just had to sew them to the hat. I had to give her the hat after I got out of work, so here I am in my work clothes, wearing a kitty hat.


I still have to make one of these for myself!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Thinking Pink


Wouldn't these be a nice Valentine's Day gift? That's what I thought, too. Except I'm not even finished with the first mitten! These are the Pirate Mittens by Hello Yarn, and I'm using Dale Falk. When the skeins are side by side, the colors look like they have much more contrast than they do when knit. Although, maybe it's just the pattern. The ribbing looks okay.


I really like that photo, all of those uniform rows, and neat knit stitches. When I get depressed about the mitten body and its wonkiness, I look at the ribbing and think about blocking. I have two of the three skulls finished on this first mitten, and am working on the third. If I could put down the Slimline Jacket for an evening, I could probably finish the mittens quickly, but I really want to wear that sweater. I'm working on the sleeves (knitting both at once), and am about a third of the way through with them. I'm the teensiest bit concerned about yarn. I have only one ball left of the Astrakhan, and some ends. I'm hoping what I have will at least get me through the sleeves, and I can live with a different dyelot for the collar. The pattern only calls for nine balls though, and I have ten, so hopefully that won't even be necessary.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Baby Surprise Jacket Spreadsheet

I've had a few people ask me about my spreadsheet for the Baby Surprise Jacket by Elizabeth Zimmermann. Since the spreadsheet is basically the pattern, I can't share it, but I can give some tips on how to create your own! It's incredibly simple, but so helpful.

Make a spreadsheet with three columns. Column one is simply the row number (I made row #1 the cast on), row two keeps track of how many stitches you should have on the needle at the beginning of the row, and column three is where you put what you should be doing during the row.

For instance, one row says:
73/147/bo 5 start of row, inc 4

On that particular row, you need to do two things at once; you need to bind off stitches, and also follow an in-progress increasing pattern.

I recommend creating the spreadsheet before you even cast on. This will allow you to read through the entire pattern and give you an idea of what you'll be doing, so you can keep your spreadsheet pithy (as EZ would say). Once I had the sheet finished, I didn't even need the pattern again until it came time to fold the sweater.

This sweater is well worth the extra effort. I've yet to see one that wasn't utterly adorable. Good luck!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Don't Front

Okay, I don't know if my subject makes any sense whatsoever, but I was listening to some rap today, and the phrase popped into my head. I finished the first front of the Slimline Jacket today! In my excitement to soak up the last rays of sunshine to take a photo, I forgot to take a photo of my mitten in progress, but it's not much more than a cuff right now anyway.

I've also decided to start messing around with photo size again. Flickr needs a size between small and medium!

I'm debating with myself whether I should block the pieces I have so far, or wait until I have the whole sweater finished. I'm also considering where to do this. I laid the back on the floor this afternoon while I measured the front against it, and almost had a coronary event when Mrs. Cooper hopped on top of it. You might not know this about rabbits, but they like to dig. And I don't mean that gentle knead that cats do, I mean they grab fabric with their teeth and pull it taut and dig furiously with their long wicked claws. I shooed her away without any major tantrums, but learned that the floor is not going to be suitable for blocking. I'll come up with something.

The fabric looks nice pre-blocking, but the bottom is curling like crazy, and the shoulders could use a little straightening. I can't convey in mere words how much I want to be wearing this sweater already! Even though it's a bitch to frog, and difficult to weave in the ends, and (let's face it) boucle is a little hard to knit with at times, I highly recommend at least trying a ball of Astrakhan in a hat or something. It is so soft, and makes the most wonderful fabric.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Second Annual Brigid in Cyberspace (Silent) Poetry Reading

Last year, I missed it, but when I noticed that today is the Second Annual Brigid in Cyberspace (Silent) Poetry Reading, I was determined to take part.

At first, I thought I would choose something by Anne Sexton, as she's always been a favorite of mine, but I was stymied by choice. I love the book Without by Donald Hall, but kept crying as I read it, and I didn't want to choose something so sad. Then I remembered this poem, and how it makes me feel optimistic, hopeful, happy, nostalgic, and something like sadness, but not that exactly.

by Debra Allbery

My twentieth summer I got a job in Door Locks
at the Ford plant where my father has worked
for twenty years. Five in the morning
we'd stand tired in the glare and old heat
of the kitchen, my father fiddling with
the radio dial, looking for a clear station.

There aren't any women in my department.
At first the men would ask me to lift
what I couldn't, would speed up the turntable,
juggling the greasy washers and bolts,
winking at each other, grinning at me.
In the break room they would buy me coffee,
study my check to see if I got shorted.
They were glad I was in school and told me
to finish, they said I'd never regret it.
Once I got loaned to Air Conditioners,
worked three days in a special enclosure,
quiet and cool and my hands stayed clean.
Out the window I could see Door Locks,
the men taking salt pills, 110 degrees.

In rest rooms there were women sleeping
on orange vinyl couches, oven timers ticking
next to their heads.

At lunch I'd take the long walk to my father.
I'd see him from a distance, wearing safety glasses
like mine, and earphones, bright slivers of brass
in his hair--him standing alone in strange sulfur light
amidst machines the size of small buildings.
Every twenty minutes he worked a tumbler,
in between he read from his grocery bag of paperbacks.
He would pour us coffee from a hidden pot,
toast sandwiches on a furnace. We sat
on crates, shouting a few things and laughing
over the roar and banging of presses.

Mostly I remember the back-to-back heat waves,
coffee in paper cups that said Safety First,
my father and I hurrying away from the time clocks,
proud of each other. And my last day, moving shy past
their Good Lucks, out into 5:00, shading my eyes.