Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Cap-Sleeved Silk Top

Silky Goodness
Apologies for the craptastic indoor photo. I thought
the light in the house was good. I would have more photos
taken, but my photographer is grumpy right now.

Pattern: Cap-Sleeved Top from Debbie Bliss Pure Silk book, 3rd size
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Pure Silk, magenta, 7 hanks (pattern called for 8)
Needles: US sizes 3 and 5
Comments: Nice pattern with clever sleeve shaping. The little sleeves are worked by doing increases on the front and back pieces. The increases are lined up vertically (instead of added to the edges) creating a very nice looking fake seam. The increases also create a bias which allows the sleeves to curve over the shoulder. Though the pattern does not specifically say so, I used right-leaning increases on the right side and left-leaning increases on the left side. If you make this sweater I suggest that you do so, too. Little details like that result in a more professional looking garment.

A Confession: One process in knitting that I hate is picking up stitches for necklines, etc. Not only do I hate the process, I'm a little afraid of it, too. The knitting books I've read always warn about not picking up too many or too few stitches. Then, they show awful photos of the consequences of picking up the wrong number of stitches.

So, I prefer to work patterns that tell me EXACTLY how many stitches to pick up. When I have the magic number, I pick up stitches, pull them out, pick them up again, pull them out again, etc. until I get the right number at the end. I'm completely anal about it. (However, I'm completely anal about most things in knitting so this isn't very different.) I followed my neurotic method when I picked up the stitches around the neckline of this sweater.

But something happened to me when I picked up the stitches for the armhole edging. I got tired. I picked up stitches on one side of the armhole and I was TWO stitches short. I looked at the 50-something stitches I had already picked up and said, "eh, close enough." What? Who took me away and replaced me with someone lazy? I continued to pick up stitches on the second half of the armhole and didn't even bother to count. Seriously, what's wrong with me? I knit the armhole edging, bound off, and it was perfect. On the second sleeve, I simply picked up stitches in the same ratio as I did on the first armhole, didn't count, and finished the edging. Again, perfect. Sigh. I hope this experience doesn't lead me down the dark side of overly relaxed knitting.

Friday, April 21, 2006


I saw this meme on Grumperina's blog a long time ago and I'm just now getting around to it.

The rules
- Your finds must come from knit blogs.
- You may not use a blog for more than one item - all items must come from different sources.
- Finds can come from current entries or archives.
- You must post your answers with the title of the blogs they were found on and a link to the blog/item (permalinks where appropriate) on your blog. If no permalink is available, give us the post date.
- Do not steal anyone’s bandwidth - which means you should not hotlink pictures.
- You need to comment on JenLa’s blog and let them know when you have completed this meme.

The sad thing is that I want to break the 2nd rule because there is one blog that can fit into many of the categories. But I won't cheat completely. If I list that blog, I'll list another as well.

1. A blog which you think people have not discovered.
Ingrid's blog Saltwater Purls is not very widely read, but should be. She's a wonderful knitter and she has interesting stories. Her mother is a fiber artist and a spinner. So sometimes Ingrid knits with yarn from animals that she knew!

2. A blog whose author lives close to you physically. Just get as close as you can, it’s all relative.
Either Monkee or Meredith is closest to me. I haven't actually plugged their addresses in to mapquest to find out who is closer. But Monkee will be leaving for Dallas in the fall, so Meredith wins! Elizabeth is also in the area, as is Drew, Amylovie, and Sheryl. I haven't met Elizabeth or Drew yet, but I hope to some day soon!

3. An unusual or weird animal picture.
Karma's cat Lennon is unusual to me. Not because he like hairdryers, but because I think he looks a lot like my Elly. And of course, chicken photos are always a bit weird. But I shouldn't pick on these chickens. After all, they produce the most tasty eggs that I have ever had.

4. An entry that made you laugh and got you strange looks from family or co-workers.
I'm always getting strange looks from Peter, so me laughing at something doesn't usually get noticed by him. However, there have been some (ok many) entries that caused Peter to give strange looks to the computer. The two I can think of off the top of my head are Monkee's Starfish hat and Knit and Tonic's Stash Flash. Peter even had a comment about the Starfish hat, but I typed it in wrong.

5. An idea you wish that you'd thought of.
Cabling without a cable needle Grumperina style. Learning it made my life so much easier!

6. Something you’d like to knit.
The Song of Hiawatha Stole here completed by Janice. Two things draw me to this stole: the name and variations in the lace pattern. One lace pattern over and over again is a bit boring for me. I like how this pattern changes. However, I already have two rectangular stoles and I'm not convinced that rectangular is the best shape for a shawl-like thing.

7. A picture of something you consider beautiful.
I love looking at Elizabeth's nature photos. She has many on her blog. I wish I could take photos like these. I try but rarely succeed. Perhaps Elizabeth has a way of talking to plants and bugs.

8. A blog whose author you’d like to one day meet in person.
The two knitbloggers that I would love to meet are Valerie and Rachel. I want to meet Valerie because we have some spooky things in common and because she's a troublemaker. And I want to meet Rachel because she makes me laugh and I feel like I've know her for years.

9. A blog of someone you have already met in person.
Whoops! Didn't I already list them back in question 2? Ok, I've meet Monkee, Meredith, Amylovie, and Sheryl. And here's a weird one: I kinda sorta met Cordelia before. I say "kinda sorta" because we went to college together and even played in the same orchestra, but we don't really remember each other. I remember her slightly better than she remembers me because she played the harp and there was only one harpist in the orchestra. Oh, and when I say "before" I mean before either of us were knitters and before blogs were all the rage. Yeah, a long time ago.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

RAK Happy

My fur is softer than this yarn, says EllyGoodies have been arriving at my house from my Knittyboard friends. Valerie sent me some bunny yarn from her secret yarn seller. Just a drop in the bucket compared to her haul and Karen's haul. This yarn is Anny Blatt Supreme Angora--100% Bunny. Not much yardage, but oh so pettable! Perhaps to become Nakiska?

Also, Susann sent me some chocolate from Germany: Kinder Eggs and Mozartkuglen. (She also sent some knitting related things, but I can't share that with you right now.) She thought that I was silly for wanting the Kinder Eggs. "They are just chocolate," she said. But no! Kinder Eggs are all about the toys. The chocolate had a hard time in the Texas heat:

Misshapen chocolate tastes great!

EEK! a monsterBut the toys were just fine! My favorite thing about Kinder Egg toys is that they often need to be assembled. For "free" toys, they are fairly good quality. Not like the crappy "toys" that you get in Cracker Jacks these days. (I had Cracker Jacks a couple of weeks ago. I regret that I didn't take a photo of the so-called toy. I seriously considered buying more Cracker Jacks so that I could show a comparison photo, but then I worried that doing so would mean that I was taking this blog thing a bit too far.)

My toy!Time to play!

I'm ready for my close up Mr. DeMilleFinally, Monkee presented me with two very unusual things last night. A fun fur scarf and a CD of songs that I've never heard before. I asked her if the scarf was something that she knit or something that someone else knit and sent to her or something that someone else knit and sent to her to give to me. This was her answer: *stare, blink blink, shrug, look away* So I'm assuming that Monkee herself murdered a muppet made this scarf. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. She has a history of giving me hot pink things. As for the CD, uh ... well ... no comment.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Bias Corset: My first published knit!

Remember when I was working on a secret project? I later admitted that I knit it for Annie Modesitt. You can finally see the whole piece now (sorry for the small photo):

I love it, but I'm biased

Pattern: Bias Corset by Annie Modesitt, Summer 2006 Interweave Knits, smallest size, A-cup
Yarn: Filatura di Crosa Zarina (100% Merino) and Filatura di Crosa Luxury (100% silk)
Needles: US size 2 (or did I use 3s? I can't remember anymore)
* The first version of the pattern produced a much longer top. Annie shortened it after she saw it.
* The top is easily knit in one piece. (Except for the straps. So I guess it isn't technically one piece, but there is no real seaming involved.)
* The pattern has instructions for different sizes AND instructions for different cup sizes (A, B, C, and D cups)--you can mix and match to get the perfect fit. I personally think that this will be flattering to many body shapes.
* I'm surprised at how high the model is wearing the top. I though that it would be worn lower so that the diagonal row of eyelets would go below the breasts.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

What will those crazy kids do next?

First a note on the last entry: The fabulous Michael from WormSpit informed me that the DB Pure Silk is spun silk and not a reeled silk. Michael is the author of the recent Knitty article on silk. He says that reeled silk yarn will not have a halo, so now I want some reeled silk yarn. Michael has actually spun his own reeled silk yarn from his own cocoons! How nifty is that? Do you think he will give me some? (I doubt it.)

Now the crazy kids bit: My alma mater's blog reported that some current students made their own music video. I watched it for kicks and to see images of the beautiful place that I used to call home. The video is very entertaining. Not only does the college president dance in the video, but what appears to be a knitting club also shimmies along with knitting needles in hand. What a Feeling!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

For the Love of Silk

In which Laura reviews Debbie Bliss's Pure Silk and seems to dislike it, but in reality, she loves it.

I'm prettier than that cat!I love silk. Of all the fibers out there, silk is my favorite. I love it more than angora and more than cashmere. Silk was the first luxury fiber that I ever owned. When I was a small child, my parents bought me a jacket similar to this one. Similar in that it was silk, quilted, had a mandarin collar, and had a similar "spotty" design. Otherwise, it was red, had fancier frog closures, and was sized for a little girl. I loved that jacket, but was allowed only to wear it for special occasions. Around that time, I was also given a silk fan, which I still have. (I was given a choice between this fan and a fan that had a duck on it. No surprises on which one I picked, huh?)

Ever since I started knitting again I have been dreaming of knitting with 100% silk. But 100% silk is expensive! I couldn't justify buying any silk yarn. I was reduced to petting and gazing longingly at silk yarn in the yarn store. If only, if only....*sigh*

Who can resist such shine?So when Ms. Amylovie gave me the opportunity to knit with Debbie Bliss's new Pure Silk yarn I jumped at the chance. I love this yarn. I may not love everything about the yarn, but I can forgive all its flaws because it is so heavenly to touch.

The yarn is amazingly shiny, soft, and slippery. (I am trying to resist saying that the silk is silky but that does seem like an appropriate word.) I think the silk is reeled silk, but I am not sure. Whatever it is, it more closely matches my image of silk than Reynold's Mandalay does. However, the yarn has a halo (click for photo) that is very obvious. Normally I don't mind a halo on yarn, but the halo on this yarn mutes the shininess of the yarn. The halo becomes more pronounced with washing, which makes me wonder how I will care for the sweater once it is finished. Quite frankly, I was horrified when I saw how much fuzz developed when I washed my swatch. Happily, the fuzz was much less noticeable once the swatch dried.

I'm feeling loopyThe yarn comes in 125 m hanks (that's 136.7 yards to you nonmetric types) and after winding one ball, I immediately began wishing that it came already balled. Did I mention that the yarn is slippery? The yarn did not always want to stay where the ball winder placed it. Some of the yarn always slips off the ball resulting in not so pretty balls with loops of yarn sticking out of the bottom. That's not the inside end of the ball--that's yarn from the middle that didn't wind properly. But I was still able to wind the yarn into usable balls, but I do pull the yarn from the outside instead of from the inside. I'm afraid that, if I use the yarn from the center, the ball will explode into a mess of tangles.

Knitting with the yarn is a dream and a nightmare. It's a single ply, loosely spun, and it slips quickly and easily through my hands and over the needles. Pure indulgence for me. However, silk fibers are extremely thin and lack the grabbiness of wool. You know what that means, right? The yarn is splitty. So splitty that I don't take my eyes of my knitting. I have to watch every stitch to make sure that I haven't separated a few tiny strands from the rest. But hey! I love to watch the yarn and I am savoring every minute that I work with it, so looking at it all the time is not so much of a hardship.

Also, the yarn has occasional "slubs." I'm not sure what these slubs are. A group of fibers improperly spun in a short segment? At first I thought the slubs were fuzz stuck to the yarn, but they are attached and pulling on them doesn't work. So I have been carefully knitting through the slubs and then using a crochet hook to pull most of the fuzz to the wrong side of the work.

The knitted fabric is very drape-y and has a nice shine. I wish it had more shine, but the halo gets in the way of that. It doesn't not have very much stretch lengthwise, which I hope means that the fabric won't "grow" like cotton fabric does. My swatch survived a bath in cold water with mild detergent and mild agitation though, as noted before, more of a halo appeared after washing. The yarn is marked machine wash, but I would be hesitant to put it in a washing machine because I wouldn't want too much friction on the surface of the fabric.

Can you find the cable? I swear there is one!The yarn looks good in stockinette and in lace, but not so good in cables. The cables are very flat and rather uninteresting. I'm highly surprised that the patterns published for this yarn include three heavily cabled garments. I was suspicious of using silk for cables and I'm sad to see that I was right to be wary. This silk does not have the body needed to make cables pop. When I look at the cables I made, I don't even think they look like cables. They look more like a texture than a structure. (Also note that the Pure Silk book has a few ribbed patterns. I am not sure how successful ribs would be in this yarn either. I suspect that silk ribs will behave like cotton ribs--not ribby)

One other thing: the first ball that I used had THREE knots in it. I think it was an anomaly though. I've wound five other hanks and did not find any knots.

Monday, April 10, 2006

At my limit

I have always said that I can have only two projects on the needles at one time, three if one of the projects are small. Over the last few months I have learned that I was completely wrong. The truth is, if I have three projects on the needles, one is completely neglected until I finish one of the other two projects.

Take the Dayflower Daydream shawl as an example. I started it back in January. Since then I have completed Rogue, Sweet Girl Socks, Curlicue, and the Dragon Hoodie and have made significant progress on the 1930's style dress that I am sample knitting for Annie Modesitt. When ever I had three projects going, I would cast the Dayflower shawl aside, not knitting a stitch on it and not even taking out of my knitting bag. The shawl is now officially renamed "The Poor Neglected Barbie Shawl."

When I finished the Dragon Hoodie last weekend, I gleefully grabbed The Poor Neglected Barbie Shawl and knit round after round. I felt so happy to be making progress on it again. I even finished the third repeat of the pattern. Finishing three repeats may not seem like a lot, but each repeat is 40 rounds and by the end of the third repeat I had over 400 sts on the needle. So it is a lot.

Then on Thursday, the yarn for the sample knit that I am doing for Yarntopia arrived at my doorstep.* Debbie Bliss Pure Silk to be made into the Cap Sleeved Top. I looked longingly at the pretty yarn realizing that if I cast on for the project, I would stop working on The Poor Neglected Barbie Shawl. What do you think I did?

Purple--the color of royality

That's right. The Poor Neglected Barbie Shawl got its name for a reason. Some day, little shawl, I promise to finish you. For now, I have pretty, shiny silk to play with.

Tune in next time when I discuss the pleasures and pains of pure silk. Here's a preview: Silk + Cables = Meh

* For those who are interested, and I'm speaking to you Yarn Focus Challenge people, I did not screw up and buy yarn! No money was exchanged for this yarn. The yarn still officially belongs to the store. I agreed to do this sample knit over a month ago, but the yarn took a long time to arrived from the distributer.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

And with this purchase...

...I'm done buying yarn. At least I am for awhile.

Yesterday I went to Yarntopia*--the place where yarn dreams come true. My yarn dreams certainly came true! What an amazing store. Houston-area knitters are in for a treat. A fabulous yarn selection that beautifully displayed. A feast for the eyes and an assault on the wallet. But seriously, they carry many may yarns that aren't carried in other Houston stores including Fleece Artist and Malabrigo. And speaking of Malabrigo:

It's for a cat bed, right?

Six hanks of Vermillion destined to become Salt Peanuts unless I change my mind before I start. I can't seem to photograph the colors well. Rich reds and pinks with tinges of orange. Even Scout loves this yarn. She was rolling around in it when I was trying to take photos.

Now that I have purchased this yarn, I'm not going to buy any more yarn for the next three months or more. I mean it. As you saw when I flashed my stash this weekend, I have several sweaters worth of yarn. I don't need any more yarn for awhile. I'm set for the Yarn Focus Challenge!

(For those of you wondering why I didn't reset my yarn ticker--the Yarn Focus participants get one free day per month to purchase yarn. Yesterday was my free day for April. I do not plan on using my free days in May and June.)

* The easiest way to get to Yarntopia from Houston is to take the Westpark Tollway out to Katy. Exit on Mason Road, turn north (right), drive for a few miles until you get to Cinco Ranch Blvd. The store is in a strip mall on the northwest corner of the intersection and is not very visible from the road.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Dragon Hoodie Finished

I am Dragon! Hear me roar!

Pattern: Dragon Hoodie by Marnie MacLean, size medium
Yarn: Plymouth Encore Worsted, held double for red parts
Needles: US sizes 9 and 10.5, Crochet hook size J
Personal Challenge Met: I knit the whole thing continentally--just to prove that I could do it
Resolution Achieved: I accomplished goal #1. The others are going well, too!
1) I'm still concerned about the size of this thing. I guess Niecephew can wear it if it is too small for Eva.

The seams are very bulky even though I used only one strand of yarn to seam. I should have sewn only half of the edge stitches into the seam. I wish I had heard that hint BEFORE I finished seaming the sweater.

Zipper installation was an adventure. It's not perfect--you can see the zipper when it is closed, but I think it's pretty good for a first attempt. The first time I tried sewing one side of the zipper, I sewed too far away from the teeth. I completely missed the zipper tape in one spot and had to rip out the whole thing.

I shortened the zipper by folding the excess zipper down at a 90-degree angle, sewing the folded zipper together, tacking the folded bit to the sweater, and then snipping off the excess zipper. Not the greatest way to shorten the zipper, but I didn't have much choice. The zipper is plastic so I couldn't move the zipper stop. The zipper is so fat that I couldn't fold it over at a steeper angle.

Unfortunately, a couple of zipper teeth poke through the front of the sweater. But I think it's better than poking into the baby's neck.

The crocheted spikes have a definite right side and wrong side. But I think they both look fine. I wish I had taken the time to figure out how to crochet the spikes directly onto the sweater, but I was too lazy.

The crocheted ears that I made up look pretty good.

Scout still doesn't care to wear the sweater...

Why does she do this to me?

Saturday, April 01, 2006

I'm a Flasher!

Yes kiddies it's that time of the year again. The 2nd Annual Stash Flash. Although my stash has grown considerably since last year's flash, I'm still not close to SABLE. I do make efforts to keep my stash under control by trading and giving away yarn that I know that I won't use. In fact, I have hardly any of Mrs. Stranger's stash left at my house. Most was given away (a lot went to Monkee and her mother) and some was used as prizes for the Ugly Ball of Yarn contest. So, without further ado, I present my stash! All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Group shot, not very scenic. This photo was actually taken after all the other photos were. As I finished taking photos of the yarn, I'd carefully pack the yarn in nice zippered bags and then toss them in this pile. Scout is not sure what to make of all the yarn.
Not an overwhelming pile...yet

Cool Cottons
Cotton grows, and not just on plants
Cottons and cotton blends here.
* The jewel-toned cakes in the top left are the remnants of the unfinished sweater that I showed last year. Helen wanted the laceweight from the sweater, so I frogged the sweater.
* The two large skeins in the top right are from Mrs. Stranger. 500 yards per skein! I think it's destined to be baby stuff.
* The pastel balls in the front right are leftovers from Moni. Moni was just a bunch of yarn in last year's flash.
* The rest are leftovers from Curlicue, Rosa, Rebecca Pirate Sweater, Arrowhead, and Elspeth.

Furry and Fancy
I have a soft spot for furry things
Some of my nicer yarns--most of it fuzzy. Clockwise from top left:
* Pleasure is almost certainly going to become Starsky. The gauge and yardage are spot on--almost as if the sweater was written for this stash yarn.
* KFI Angora Extra: I overestimated how much I would need for Berkshire Breeze. So, I bought another ball so that I would have enough for another sweater. Clever, huh?
* Texas mohair: To become a Flower Basket Shawl eventually.
* Cotton and tussah silk from Mrs. Stranger's stash. Certainly enough for a sweater, but I haven't found a suitable pattern. I may design my own.
* Kid Silk Haze from Reversible Rib Shawl. I think it will be Marianne from Rowan 37.

Yarn DOES grow on trees! (or at least some plants)
I need to find a way to grow my own yarn
Karaoke (tofu yarn) Twize (bamboo yarn) and Euroflax Linen. Apparently, I like plant fibers in shades of purple.

Thin Stuff and KnitPicks
I like them thin and cheap
From the left:
* Lorna's Laces Helen's Lace. An impulse buy. I haven't picked a pattern yet.
* Barbie Rose laceweight. Someday it will join the other hank in the Barbie Shawl.
* Tiger sock yarn to be made into a stuffed tiger--not into socks.
* Random leftover sock yarn
* A variety of KnitPicks yarn that I bought for swatching.

Woolies, part 1
Sweaters to be
Daletta yarn for Lotus and Cashmerino. The Cashmerino was supposed to become Tempting, but I changed my mind.

Woolies, part 2
Paranoia breeds extra balls
Odds and ends of wool and wool blends from various projects. I always buy extra and I always have extra leftover, funny how that works. For some reason the leftover Cestari (aka machine washable purple sheepies) from Rogue didn't make this photo.

Novelty and Petroyarns
Better living though organic chemsitry
Lest you think I'm a complete yarn snob, I am displaying my yarn consisting of mostly human-made materials. I made baby stuff with a lot of this yarn. Let's face it--acrylic yarns yarns are perfect for babies that are going vomit on their clothes and then outgrow them in 2 months.

Need more yarn p0rn? Check out the other stash flashers!