Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Fell off

Fell off the wagon, that is. Well, I thought I might make it through the Stash Bust-along. But as I stated after finishing all of those chemo caps, this is the most dangerous time - a time of finishing things and looking forward to new things. (Although frustratingly enough, I haven't really finished my big project - the Pea Pod sweaters - nor started anything - Fetching, Forest Canopy, socks for me...)

What really started it was that my knitting friend gave me some Rowan Linen Drape and I started toying with it. I thought and thought, and I remembered a cute T-shirt in Erika Knight's Knitting for Two. [Before anyone gets excited, I'm not pregnant. But it is in my medium-term goal. Better start the cute sweaters now - God knows I'm still not done with last year's Green Gable.] This yarn is quite perfect for it, and I've been having fun thinking about ways to embellish parts of it - a lacey bottom instead of plain ribbing? Ribbing for the belly area?

And then I saw the Bump sweater in Natural Knits for Babies & Moms, and I thought, that looks like a better design. It's in worsted weight, it's boxier, the model is more pregnant. Moreover, the body is knit side to side - I've always wanted to knit a sweater side to side, with something like Noro, to take advantage of those slimming vertical stripes!

And then I started looking for yarns that would be good. I knew the Blue Sky Alpacas organic cotton was the recommended, but if only Noro had something worsted, in a cottony-silky multicolored yarn. And then I found it. Noro Lily. And darned if I didn't find a great price for 10 skeins of it on (warning: clicking on this link could be hazardous to your credit card.) Ebay. It was the only one of those colors, which I love. It could disappear at any moment. It only had one more day and its reserve was the same as its "Buy it now" price. Reasonable shipping. I thought about it for a day, and I bought.

Well, that's my sordid tale, although to be honest I've been buying patterns and (after re-reading the Bustalong rules), must admit that they were not explicitly for yarn already in the stash. They have been anticipating the end of the stash bustalong.

My future plans are to get back on the wagon. It might be difficult now that I know about her &$%! shop with all of its cheap thrills (Debbie Bliss Alpaca silk anyone?). But I'll do my best.

Monday, February 26, 2007

A Good Knitty Saturday

Saturday my knitting group decided to go on a little road trip to a nearby LYS. I had never been to it before, as it is a bit out of the way, and my errands and things never take me in that direction. The shop was very nice; it had lots of Cascade 220 (I think they had every color hanging around the perimeter of the shop), Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece, and Debbie Bliss, as well as some pure alpaca laceweight and a bunch of nice sock yarns - Wildefoote, Regia. Not too many independent handdyers, such as Cherry Tree Hill, but the shop girl did say they were going to start carrying Lorna's Laces soon. Yay! And the much-anticipated Addi Lace needles were on order (not expected until March - but that is very soon!).

I of course am on a yarn diet, but that does not mean I couldn't get some new patterns. They had this book and once I started looking through it, I couldn't put it down! I want to make all of them! And when I took it home and took a closer look, I had a delightful surprise! At the back of the book, there is a section of instructions, including cast-ons for lace, increases and decreases for lace, everything with an emphasis on lace. Then a section on how to read charts, followed by how to design lace! This is truly a great resource to have.

Our knitting group still met as usual - we had just enough time after the road trip to have a quick lunch and reconvene. As I left, the mail had my much-anticipated Rowan 41! I still haven't had a chance to really savor this beautiful book. I love the large format, and how the photo says who the designer is, and has a reference to the pattern instructions. There are so many things in there that I want to knit - it is truly a beautiful collection. So that's what the fuss is all about.

Also, I stopped by the library where I had ordered two books by Alice Starmore. They had Alice Starmore's Book on Fair Isle Knitting and The Children's Collection. Wow, some of those Aran designs for children are gorgeous - I kept thinking there must be a way to make them for me! And I loved the elephant sweater! The Fair Isle knitting book seems to have lots of information on the history of Fair Isle, as well as how to make your own design, in addition to some very beautiful patterns.

As for knitting, I swatched a bit with some Rowan Drape one of my knitting friends pushed on me - she didn't like it. It is a bit splitty, but I think I can make a nice T-shirt style sweater for it. And I did a couple of rows on the neglected Pea Pod sweater. Luckily it's turning out big, so I still have a little time to finish it, even though the twins have been out for weeks now.

Lots of reading to do!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Stashbusting Chemo Caps mailed!

Well, I finished hat #5 last night. I still have enough to make 1 more hat, but I wanted to make sure these got to Kathleen by Wednesday.

Yarn: some kind of fun fur. 3 hats per 2 balls.
Needles: Size 8 16" circular, size 9 dpns (didn't have size 8 dpns, and my size 9 circ was given away)
Pattern: No Hair Day Hairy Chemo Cap

I got so it took about 2-3 hours per hat. I could knit it in the dark or without looking at it! I didn't know it was going to stripe the dark purple, but I ended up liking it anyway. I hope the recipients like it too!

The best part is that it was stashbusting for charity!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

This is just to say....

I finished hat #4 last night, and have begun hat #5 from the leftovers. This is actually a picture of the #1, but it's what #5 looks like, more or less. Well, #5 isn't this big yet, but at least it can see where it's going! These hats really are very very fast!

Eye candy tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Chemo Caps multiply

I had already finished one Chemo cap a few weeks ago. I finished another last weekend and took this photo. I started a third, and I finished that a few nights ago. These just get faster and faster! I would be well on with #4, except I didn't have it with me when I had an unexpected wait at the pharmacy today. I would have done well to relax and knit instead of watching, watching the time go by and the pharmacists work.

I realized this is the last week to work on them, if I am to get them mailed to Boston in time for February 28! I might be able to squeeze a 5th one out of the leavings of the 4 balls of yarn, if I have time.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Progress on the Baby Bolero

I've been making steady progress on the Debbie Bliss Baby Bolero. My knitting friends (is 3 people a group?) have been meeting on Wednesday evenings in addition to Saturdays, and I've dedicated myself on Wednesdays to finishing this sweater!

I finished both edgings and attached them. I picked up stitches from the bottom of the first edging, and undid the cast-on. I also grafted the top. The short rows the second time are not as pretty; also, where I wove in the ends at the back seam, the fabric is noticably thicker.

After attempting to set in the first sleeve and having too much left over, I attempted a second time, more carefully. So currently, only the back half of the left sleeve is attached, but I think it will seam up just fine. I wonder if seaming the sleeve first, and then setting it in would be easier? But I was just following the directions. I think a lot could have been done to make the directions clearer and easier. And, for example, suggesting a provisional cast-on for the edging, and grafting for the top?

The end is so near, I can taste it!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Thank you, Beth!

A little while ago, Beth asked the blogosphere for some advice. I gave freely, as is my wont. ;) Beth had a drawing (a random one), and she chose me! Last week, I received the most beautiful sock yarn in the mail, all bright (but not gaudy) colors. It is Sophie's toes in colorway "Christmas Lights".

Here is a closeup:

Thank you, Beth!

Friday, February 16, 2007

More (recent) knitting history

Last year, I found out my dear friend from college was having her first baby. Having recently picked knitting back up, I browsed through some saved patterns and found the Amana Star-pattern Baby Bonnet from the November 2000 issue of Piecework.

After searching in vain for baby yarn that was brightly colored, I hit on the perfect solution. Sock yarn! It comes in bright colors and is (usually) washable. I ordered some Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Pine (an almost solid) because my friend has Irish heritage and I was hoping her little one would have green eyes and red hair like her mother.

I recently requested photos of the object being modeled, and here we are! The color is actually a deep jewel-toned green; I think the flash washed out the color in these photos.

Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, under 1 skein, color Pine.
Needles: size 1 dpns, clover/Takumi bamboo, and size 1 Addi turbo, 16" (or was it 12"?).
Instead of ribbon ties, I made I-cord (4 stitches?)

Here is a view of the star detail.

(The star is technically the back of the bonnet, but I don't think the model minds.)

I really enjoyed making this, and I'd do it again. The construction was really interesting - you begin in the round to create the star for the back (or as pictured, the top), and then bind off one "side" and continue back and forth to create the rest of it. The lace pattern was easy to memorize, once I understood the instruction for the WS rows: 'Knit the knits and purl the purls'. The only thing that really almost killed me was the crocheted edging. My hand hurt for days afterward. I probably should have pinned it out for blocking, also, to really bring out the lace design.

This was my first finished lace project. (Note the emphasis on finished. I have begun many. I've only finished this one. Gah!)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Knitting history: first FOs

I am trying to go back and document all of my knitted (and otherwise crafted) projects. Here are my first two knitting FOs. The first was this hat with whales on it. The pattern is a Fiber Trends pattern called Whales & Sails.

I began, as I always used to do, intending no recipient at all, since you never can tell how long something is going to take. (I still prefer to take this position if I just want to make a project; it's different if you decide first you want to make a gift and then decide on something that's doable by the deadline.) It was my first, and it had a provisional cast-on with a hem, and colorwork, and it was done in the round. It was a good first project, and Molly helped me the whole way. As it turns out, I made a medium size which was a bit too large for a baby (I think the recipient in this photo is about 1 year old).

I was so excited about how the first one turned out, I immediately started a second one. (And there was another child in the family - didn't want to favor one over the other.) This one I did in the small size.

I did both of them in a washable cotton/acrylic blend (it was nice and soft) on size 9 circulars, 16", and then dpns. Come to think of it, the circulars are the same ones I gave to SIL for her first knitting project! So first yarn and first needles both went to my two knitting protoges! How fitting!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Other People's Knitting

I was able to take some photos a week or so ago of the first projects of my two "students" - my MIL and my SIL who I recently taught to knit.

SIL is making a lacy scarf also Bejeweled. I started her on some Cascade 220, but she ran over to Art Fibers and got herself some yummy brown Kyoto and started over.

MIL is making a lacy scarf from a Chronicle Books / Lion Brand learn to knit set of patterns. (I think it may have been a special packaging of this.)I gave her my first yarn for knitting, Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride worsted in minty green.

For my part, I'm motoring on the second Pea Pod sweater body in Apple green. It will slow down soon, when I divide for the sleeves and back. I'll do them all 3 at once, from 3 different balls, and I'll have to turn my bag every time I finish a row. It has 1.5 repeats of lace after this photo was taken.

And what are those shiny things? They are freshwater pearl stitch markers from Aija. She makes such beautiful markers, and I am a sucker for pearls. I bought a set of blue and gold pearl markers, and she sent two bonus ones free! Go, go, go here and buy some today!

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

A Short Row to Hoe

The collar to the Debbie Bliss Baby Bolero uses short rows to widen the collar around the neck. I tried just following the directions (k8, turn, etc.) but it created a monstrous hole. Rip.

To review short rows, I looked in my bookmarks (don't you love del.icio.us?) and found Nona's entries on 3 short row techniques.

From bottom to top:
(Sorry about the poor quality of the photo - I'd annotate it, but drawing on photos is not yet in my bag of tricks.)

My situation varied in two ways:
  • There are 2 short rows before joining it together with the rest of the row.
  • This is in garter stitch, not stockinette.
Like Nona, I decided on the Japanese - it just seemed neater. But I was bothered by the "stockinette" look at the end of the short rows. If you look closely at the photo, this is the "flat" section of the topmost short row (probably the only thing drawing your attention to this one). This was easily fixed: On the last stitch of the second short row, I perl instead of knit. On the collar where I did it, it looks like proper garter stitch, and you can hardly see the short rows. Perfect!

Thanks, Nona, for documenting your great experiment!

Monday, February 5, 2007

How I learned to knit

Eyeknit over at Two Sharp Sticks is having a knitiversary contest. To enter, you write about how you learned to knit. Winners will be chosen randomly and will receive knitting books - to further your learning about knitting.

When I was a child, my grandmother and her cousin (I called her "aunt") did lots of crafts - I learned needlepoint at the age of 5 (acrylic on plastic canvas), and some beading projects, sequin Christmas ornaments, etc. I stuck with needlepoint for a while, then did cross-stitch. My grandmother and aunt did do crochet a lot, but they didn't teach me. Once I asked my aunt if I could knit, and she did set me up with some sticks and yarn to make a garter stitch scarf. I found it recently and it had quite a bit of change in width! Someday I'll finish it, or make it into something. I guess that counts as really my oldest knitting WIP.

But I was at an internship during graduate school, where one of the other interns talked about crocheting lace. And I really like lace. I had only discovered that it could be handmade (I hadn't really thought it through, that antique laces are handmade), and she was making crocheted doilies. She said, "Oh, you can learn from a book." Back in Davis, CA, a friend of a friend had opened up a yarn shop. I wandered in one day and said, "My friend says you can learn to make crocheted doilies from a book." And they set me up with a wonderful book, some crochet cotton, and a steel hook.

I kept wandering in that shop, looking at all of the wonderful yarns, and the samples, and got to talking with Molly, and eventually I found out they were taking sign-ups for a beginning knitting class. I got so excited and signed up, hoping that there would be enough people signed up for the class to go forward. There were - and so at the first class, I picked out yarn (Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride worsted, in a minty green color) and started. I don't remember where I got my first knitting needles from - they were aluminum size 9s, and I still have them (although they hurt to use). But the first weeks we learned knit and purl, and had homework to do swatches. Then we got to pick our project - I picked a hat in the round. I didn't know in the round and colorwork were "hard". Molly is so encouraging, she allowed us to do whatever we wanted. She proceeded to show us other things, like different yarn fibers, the features of ribbing and other stitches, how to fix mistakes, and seaming. I still think picking out a project for yourself is the best way to start - you don't feel you are wasting time on a scarf you don't want.

BTW, the photo is my MIL's scarf. I taught her how to knit over Christmas. But the yarn - that is my own first yarn from my yarn class. I had brought it to show her, and she loved it so much that she wanted to use it. (Good taste - the yarn in her yarn kit that I got her is Lion Brand Jiffy.) What could I say but yes? I'm glad to see my first yarn going on to be someone else's first yarn.

Thursday, February 1, 2007


Last night, the Sweetie was out, so I invited a friend over for knitting, and tea and cookies. We were so into the knitting that there were hardly any cookies eaten!

I took the opportunity (sitting at home, knitting the primary activity) to seam one of my designated UFOs. I had blocked it the night before (finding out that my pieces were way too big; but hey, it's a baby sweater - maybe it'll be a 1-year-old sweater...).

I finished seaming the shoulders and started on the edging last night. The edging begins as a garter stitch band, 5 stitches wide. The instructions say to start at the center back and do enough to go around to the point in the front when "gently stretched". Then you increase to make the collar, and do short rows to make the collar turn down. I ripped the short rows out this morning, to attempt a better wrap and turn. I wondered why the edging wasn't knitted on as it is made, but every time I tried that, I ended up with bulky stitches. So now I know. The only thing I regret was that when I started the edging band, I did a normal (knitted) cast-on. I now wish I'd done a provisional cast-on, so I could do the edging in the other direction without grafting. It also says to sew the edging on as you go, but then later it says to sew it on. I tacked it in place with split ring stitch markers - I love those things!

The only other thing was that the shaping of the body is stepped with cast-ons to make it wider. I was putting some knitting patterns and books away this morning, and saw the Winter 2005 Interweave Knits, which had an article on short rows. I took a look at it (because of the holes in my edging) and saw it recommended short rows instead of stepped shaping. Wish I'd known that! Those steps are going to be challenging to sew the edging to. Oh well, they say experience is that which you get right after you needed it. When I'd read the article last year, I'm sure I didn't know what it meant by "stepped' shaping.

A few days ago, I cast on for a chemo cap. I tried to use my KnitPicks Options, but 24" is too long for this. I lent/gave my size 9 16" needle to SIL for her first knitting project, so this is being done on a size 8. I had cast on to the size 9, so I thought I'd just knit on to the size 8. But I twisted it and ripped it out. Boy, this stuff does not like to rip out! Also, as you can see, the changes from pink to purple are ...sudden. And suddenly back to pink. Not what I thought it would do. Oh well, it will have stripes. They could look cool.

In other news, I finished one of each kind of sleeve for the Pea Pod sweaters. Here is a photo of the body of the sweater, with each kind of sleeve and some contrast color (actually another sleeve end) at the neck to represent the neckline. I think I like the right sleeve better than the left. What do you think?