Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Lions and Tigers and Bears...

...or just one tiger.
I'll get you my pretty! And your little dog, too!

Pattern: Tiger Cub from The World of Knitted Toys
Yarn: Opal Tiger sock yarn obtained in a swap with Susann and Jawoll superwash sock yarn in ecru
Needles: US size 2
Notions: Polyester fiberfill and stick-on goggly eyes


1) I worked the legs, tail, and ears in the round to avoid seaming.
2) I made the tail much longer than the pattern stated. It looked too stumpy so I kept going.
3) I used self-striping tiger yarn instead of changing colors to get the stripes.


1) I love the way the stripes turned out--especially because I didn't have to do anything to make them happen.

2) I'm not so happy with the way he looks. I think the legs are too big and the nose is too pointy. After working this tiger and the panda before, I'm very suspicious of the patterns in this book. I don't think the published patterns were used to make the models in the book. I think the models were made and then the patterns were written to reproduce the animals in the simplest way possible. Or I'm just very bad a finishing stuffed animals and making them look cute. But I like the reason in which I blame someone else for my disappointment.

Peter's Comment: It looks like Cleo!

So I tried to take a photo of the Tiger with Cleo. She was okay for the first few shots and suddenly:
Die other patchy cat! Die!

See Monkee! The tiger that you rubbed all over your face last night had been in Cleo's mouth! And Scout's too, but I wasn't able to snap a photo because I had to rescue the poor tiger from her.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Loganberry Sweater #1

(hee hee, you can see that I'm planning on making more than one sweater for Loganberry)

This is my impatient face, says Scout

Pattern: Basic Baby Sweater by Elizabeth, smallest size
Yarn: Tahki Cotton Twist in white (2 hanks) and royal blue (1.5 hanks), also from Elizabeth. I think this is a discontinued yarn because I can't find any information about it. It is a worsted-weight 100% cotton yarn.
Needles: US sizes 4 and 6
Cat: Scout refusing to look cute for the photo. (Scout was very cute in one photo, but it wasn't a good photo of the sweater. Hopefully, Scout's vanity will not be hurt by posting this less than ideal photo of her.)

Comments: Quick and easy, down and dirty knit. I came up with the color-block pattern myself. I thought I was being so clever until I steam-blocked it. The blue ran a little bit into the white. Before I knit the yarn, I tested for colorfastness and thought that I was good to go. But apparently my test was not very accurate.

I need to wash this sweater before sending it off to Loganberry. Can anyone give me some hints on how to wash it without changing all the white to blue? How can I set the dye? (I hear vinegar in the wash water works, does it?)

Peter's Comment: Babies are small.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

More Finished Objects!

Thanks and Answers
I am overwhelmed by all the comments that I received about the Barbie Shawl. Thank you so much! I am happy that the shawl is done and I'm thrilled at how nicely it turned out in the end. There were a few questions of general interest in the comments, so I thought that I'd answer them here.

1) The yarn was's Pure Wool Lace yarn. I had two hanks of the pink stuff, and I used about 1.5 hanks (or about 150 g or 1,275 yards). The yarn was not evenly colored, but it wasn't supposed to be. That's a feature of the kettle dying process. The shawl itself shows slight variegations in color, but the variegations do not distract from the lace at all.

2) The final diameter of the shawl is 52" (about 132 cm), so it isn't huge, but it's not exactly tiny either.

3) No you can't have it. If you send me your addresses and FedEx account numbers, I'll just throw out the addresses and abuse the FedEx numbers. You'll be amazed at how much stuff I send FedEx!

Now on to the Finished Objects!
But wait, you say, where are the photos? Other people posted them for me!

First, Annie Modesitt posted a photo of the dress that I knit for her. And here it is! She asked me to send the pieces to her and let her do all the finishing. I was a bit unhappy about sending it like that because it didn't look very nice that way. I would rather present a client with a beautiful finished piece rather than unblocked parts. But that's the way Annie wanted it. I'm so happy that she likes the finished piece and I'm thrilled that it "cleaned up nice."

Then, there's the secret project that I alluded to a few days ago. The project was a baby afghan, or Chatghan, for Shetha and her baby-to-be. I worked on this project with 10 other regular inhabitants of the Knittyboard chatroom who I conned into contributing ...uh, no... were unfortunate enough to be in chat when I hatched the plan I asked to help. The Chatghan is beautiful and I'm tickled pink that it was so well received! (I was going to write a big long blog entry about it to give credit to everyone who contributed, but Shetha took care of that for me!)

Monday, June 19, 2006

Barbie Shawl

I'm a Barbie Shawl, living in a Barbie world!

Pattern: Barbie Shawl (aka Dayflower Daydream) by Eugen Beugler from Shawls and Scarves: The Best of Knitter's Magazine
Yarn: Pure Wool Lace Yarn in Barbie Rose
Needles: US size 3
Comments: Peter said, "You have been knitting that longer than you've knit anything else." He's right. Shame on me. The sad part is that I liked knitting this shawl so I'm surprised that it took so long. The pattern has long repeats so that kept it interesting, but still...I got distracted by too many flashier projects along the way.

I wish the shawl was a bit bigger, and I debated adding a repeat to it, but decided against because I wasn't sure that I would have enough yarn. Looking at my remaining yarn, I think I made the right decision.

More photos:
Cat Doily!
Pink is my color, says Elly

pi r square

I used a string to keep the radius of the shawl even while I pinned it out. I wish I could claim that I came up with that brilliant idea myself, but I didn't.

Random close ups:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Sunday, June 18, 2006


I'm so lucky!Remember when I whined about wanting more yarn? Apparently I whined so loud that people all over the country could hear me. Look what came in the mail! A pack of cute cards and skein of Koigu for Jennifer, a bit of Cotton Fleece from Helen (and Ana), a bunch of Tahki Cotton Twist from Elizabeth. The Cotton Fleece is for swatching so that I can see if it will work for the cabled tank top that I so desperately need want. Elizabeth also sent me a baby sweater pattern that she wrote herself so that I can make a sweater for the little Loganberry. Thank you all so much!

But unfortunately for me, this last week and half has been one of THOSE weeks and a halves. I've been insanely busy with work and have had little time to pick up the needles. So yes, Elizabeth, I was able to get gauge--now I need to get time. I plan to cast on for real this week.

But I did manage to finish the two big knitting projects I have been dragging along: one Barbie and one secret. Barbie is blocking. The secret is on its way to its future home. FO reports later this week!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Amazing Lace Challenge #2: Xtreme Lace Knitting

I have to admit that, when I first read the second challenge for the Amazing Lace KAL, I had no idea what I was should do. (click the photos to make bigger!)

First, I thought I'd go for the gratuitous cat photo:

Xtremely Cute Lace Knitting!
Don't hate me because I'm cute.

Then, I thought I could show my true nature:

Xtremely Geeky Lace Knitting!
If you're a geek and you know it, clap your hands!
(For those who are less geekily inclined, that's a screen shot of a spreadsheet that I made to keep track of my progress as I knit the Barbie Shawl's edging. It keeps count of the repeat that I'm on, the row that I'm on, the number of stitches in each row, the total number of stitches knit in the edging, and the percentage of the edging that is finished. And, by the way, I've made significant progress since I took that screens shot. I am now 93.75% finished.)

Next, I thought about getting into the pure spirit of Xtreme sports:

Xtremely Dedicated but Crazy Lace Knitting!
Don't try this at home kids!

Finally, I decided to show my freakish side:

Xtremely Flexible Lace Knitting!
Let's play king of the Laura!
(I don't actually think the fact that I can put my face on my shins to be very freakish, but Peter claims that I am a freak of nature when I do it. I think he's just jealous.)

Xtreme enough for you?

Edit to Add: Oh ye of little faith! I would not offend or disgrace Scout by Photoshopping her into an image for the sake of laughs. The only adjustment that I made to the photo above was to make it a wee bit darker because it was rather bright and a tad overexposed. As proof--here are the outtakes from that photoshoot: one, two, and three. See? She moves!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Book Review: Inspired Cable Knits

Inspired Cable Knits is the first book by designer Fiona Ellis. The designs in the book are contemporary in style, so if you are looking for a book that has traditional Aran sweaters, this is not the book for you. In fact, many of the designs show off Ellis’s talent in showcasing cables in unique and unexpected ways. The cable patterns she uses often have long repeats, undulate and travel, and appear somewhat asymmetrical. Sometimes she beautifully morphs one cable pattern into a different one. Ellis also expertly combines cables with lace work, knit and purl texture, or Fair-isle knitting in several designs.

Possibly the best feature of the book is the fact that all cable patterns are shown as a chart and written out as line-by-line directions. I personally will never read the directions, but I have know that there are knitters who dislike charts as much as I dislike written directions for cables and lace. The charts are large and clear and would not need to be enlarged for ease in reading. However, the charts are printed in a light green ink that I suspect will not photocopy very easily. (I always photocopy the patterns that I work so that I can write on the pattern without defacing my book or magazine.) In addition, the two Fair-isle charts are printed in the same green ink and use varying degrees of shading to distinguish between the colors. I’m sure that this monochromatic printing makes the pages attractive, but please! It’s a color-work chart! Use colors!

For the most part, the photography in the book is excellent. It has clear, well-lighted photos of the designs and includes at least one nice detailed shot of the cable pattern used in each piece. There are also several gorgeous nature photos that show where Ellis got her inspiration for the designs. Unfortunately, a couple of the more interesting sweaters are not well photographed. In the description of what I think may be the best men’s sweater in the book, Ellis says, “The cable used in the center panels is asymmetrical, leaving areas of reverse stockinette stitch. This allows each cable to infringe on its neighbor, making it difficult to see the vertical breaks.” Sounds intriguing, right? Sadly, you will not see a clear photograph of this cable pattern anywhere in the book.

At the beginning of each pattern, Ellis describes her inspiration for the design and briefly describes the design itself. I enjoy reading these descriptions even though I found some of the supposed inspirations a bit flaky. At the end of each pattern is what Ellis calls a mindfulness pointer. These pointers are supposed to give you something to think about while you are knitting. The value of these pointers will probably depend on the attitude and mood of the person reading them. They can come off as thought provoking and interesting or pretentious and silly.

The one significant flaw of this book is the omission of yardage information for the yarns used. While some people are comfortable making yarn substitutions by using only the weight of the yarn, I like to calculate the yardage needed and purchase yarn based on that calculation. Thankfully, Ellis has responded to this complaint by giving more detailed yarn information on her website. She also gives substitution suggestions of a discontinued yarn.

Overall, I think this is a wonderful book with many beautiful and elegant designs. I’m not certain that it will appeal to everyone, but if you love cables you must have this book. More cables, please!

The Knitty Gritty:
144 pages, including index
11 women’s sweaters (1 sleeveless)
3 men’s sweaters
2 baby/toddler sweater
5 accessories, including a yoga mat bag and a pillow cover
Photos of some of the projects can be seen here. (Click "View Inside Pages")

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

When the Challenge Becomes Challenging

When I joined the Yarn Focus Challenge, I didn't think it would be very challenging to me. I had already promised Peter that I wouldn't buy yarn over the summer because of all of our job-related changes. (Read previous statement as: because we both quit our nice, cushy, salaried jobs.) I even declared that I wouldn't use my allotted "free days" for May and June. The last time I bought yarn was on April 3rd during Yarntopia's grand opening.

April and most of May passed without much yarn-buying temptation. Sometimes I would think idly about yarn that I wanted to buy, but never went so far as to look up the yarn on the internet. Then, everything changed in a week's time.

Little LoganBerryFirst, nephew Logan came into the world. He paid me the great disservice of not being a girl. All the sweaters I knit for his big sister Eva are rather girly. I can't expect him to wear a hand-me-down pink hoodie, now can I? So I started making a list of things that needed to be knit for him. A Heirloom Baby Sweater, Devan, Cargo, and of course, a Loganberry Tart hat. Suddenly, I needed yarn. A lot of yarn. But I can't have the yarn! Oh cruel Yarn Focus Challenge! Oh Careless Me for making such a cavalier promise to Peter.

Then, to make my yarn longing even worse, my birthday showed up and my brother gave me Inspired Cable Knits by Fiona Ellis. I had looked at the book in the store and thought it was nice. Boy did I underestimate the book! It's more than nice--it's superwonderfulfantastic! After studying the book at home, I decided that I personally needed at least 5 sweaters in the book and maybe as many as 9. And then there are a few sweaters that are gift candidates. It's the best pattern book ever! (At least it's the best ever for me. I like cables. More cables, please.)

I WANT IT!For example, I have to make this tank top. The sooner I can get to it be better. Cables, lace, a miniscule gauge of 29 stitches/4 inches--what's not to love? Yesterday, I spend an hour looking for suitable yarn for the tank. After much searching, I think I'll end up using the recommended yarn, Dale of Norway Stork, because I can't find a cotton-blend yarn that has a similar gauge. I had hoped to find a cotton blend because I'm not a big fan of cables in 100% cotton. Oh well. I can't buy the yarn anyway. I think I will regret this challenge and my promise for a long time. Perhaps in July, I will make sad puppy-dog eyes at Peter and start tearing up because I so desperately need yarn. I wonder if he will cave?

A full review of Inspired Cable Knits to come soon!

(Apologies for the photograph of a book page. I'd rather scan such things in, but I had to return my company-owned printer/copier/scanner/fax when I quit my job. I think I miss that machine more than I miss my salary. Almost.)