Tuesday, October 31, 2006

An Announcement and a Reid FO Report

Recently, my old former college roomie took up knitting. I have been watching her progress with great interest and have been quite pleased that she never stooped to knitting a garter stitch fun-fur scarf. Anyway, she just produced her first ever sock. See it here and tell her what a wonderful job she's done. She even grafted the toe closed!

I'm so cute, says Scout

Pattern: Reid from Knitty, 2 year size
Yarn: Patons Grace in pink (4 balls) and blue (part of a ball)
Needles: US size 5 and 6, crochet hook of an appropriate size (Size gray in my own personal crochet-hook sizing system. I can never remember the real sizes.)
Recipient: Niece Eva
Cat: Scout

Picots Modifications: I started working the picot edging as specified in the pattern: work a round of single crochet then work a round of single-crochet picots. But when I finished, I thought that the edging looked too clunky—it needed something more delicate. So I ripped the picot round and tried a slip-stitch picot round. The combo of single crochet then slip-stitch picots looked nice, but alas, I found doing the slip-stitch picots very awkward. So I ripped out all the single crochets and did a single-crochet picot round directly onto the sweater. I think it looks good now—and it’s a lot faster.

(Don't let all this fancy-schmancy crochet talk make you think that I know something about crochet. Everything I know comes from the big fat Vogue Knitting book.)

Oh and I did a 3-needle bind off for the shoulder seams. Do I really need to say that again? Maybe I should just tell you when I DON’T do a 3-needle bind off.

The perfect gift for a long-armed baby Oopsie(?): I knit the sleeves as directed (“work all rows of upper sleeve chart, etc.”) and I probably shouldn’t have. Or I should have dry-blocked the sleeves to see how long they were after working the sleeve increase chart. But I didn’t dry block and when I actually blocked the sleeves to the size specified in the pattern after binding off, I didn’t think that the lace pattern was open enough. So I made another one of my brilliant snap decisions: “I’ll just make the sleeves longer! That way Miss Eva can wear the sweater for a longer time.” Um, yeah. Perhaps if Eva is part Neanderthal she could wear it. (No, I’m not saying that my brother or my SIL are Neanderthals. It’s a joke about having long arms. It must be a bad joke if I think I have to explain it.)

General thoughts: Overall it was a nice, quick knit. The lace pattern is easy to memorize and the results are cute. Just dry-block those sleeves to check the length, okay?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

A Nip in the Air

Well, grumpy blogging didn’t go over too well, now did it? I’m over my whininess and am bouncy and cheerful as ever. Now I’m just busy as heck with work--I have a “another freelancer flaked out on us and this was due two weeks ago so could you bail us out now” project. Yes, much fun. But at least it’s work. Anyway.

Burr!The other morning, I woke up and felt cold. “There’s a nip in the air!” I told Scout. So, Scout and I scurried down the stairs to look at the thermometer. Burr--54ºF! Is it really true? Obviously, it must be time to make some winter accessories. (For now, we’ll forget that it warmed up to nearly 80ºF later that day and then went back to summer for the rest of the week.)

So what’s on deck in my knitting line up? Well, I have some nice yarns in the stash that have been waiting to be knit up. First up, Some beautiful Silk Maiden (50% merino 50% silk) in the Berry colorway from Handmaiden Yarns. I bought this yarn a few months ago from Yarntopia with a plan:
I wish it was real fusili, says Scout

Yup that’s the much overdone Ruffles scarf from Scarf Style. Yes, I’m well aware that it’s a bit of a cliché and that it’s boring as all get-out to knit. But I’m knitting it anyway because I always wanted a fusili scarf. Something about the corkscrew that’s so whimsical that I can’t resist it. Sure it won’t keep me warm, but who cares? It’s cute and I live in Houston. At least I’m using my knitting backward technique to save myself some aggravation.

I wish it was a real bunny, says Scout Next, a furry hat that will clash nicely with the curly scarf. I guess I won’t be able to wear the two items at the same time. I’ll be making Wendy Bernard’s Last Minute (not) Purled Beret with this pink fluff. The pink fluff is the 100% bunny yarn that Valerie sent me earlier this year. I’m not going to turn the hat inside out because I don’t want a purled hat. I want a knit hat.

I’m hoping that this project doesn’t turn out to be a disaster. First of all, angora is not known to be a resilient fiber so it may not have the “spring” needed to make a good hat. Second, I don’t have that much yarn and frogging is not so easy. But I’m going to try anyway because I don’t know what else to do with the yarn and I want a beret, dang it! However, if it’s not looking good for the beret team after I work the ribbing. I may abandon the project.

Just brilliant Finally, I need some new Fuzzy Feet. The first pair that I made wore out and my feet are cold. I have some Patons SWS that I think will be perfect for the pattern. I knew that this stuff felts, but I wasn’t sure how much. Being the brilliant person that I am, I knit up a swatch, carefully measured it, and tossed it in the washer. Still being a brilliant person, I decided to let the swatch go for the whole cycle so that I could see the “maximum” felting. I wanted to be able to figure out exactly how big to knit the Fuzzy Feet so that I could have well fitting, THICK slippers when I was done. So what’s the “maximum” felting that can be done with Patons SWS? More than you would ever want for a pair of slippers. Believe it or not, that wad used to be a 5 x 5 inch square. Now it’s a blob x blob inch square. Uh. I guess I’ll just have keep an eye on the felting process. Let’s hope that I don’t screw that up.

Why wasn't Scout in that last photo? Because she was too busy playing with her fish from MonkeeMom! "Hi MonkeeMom!" says Scout. "Cleo really loves the chicken-feather toy that you gave us!"
I wish it was a real fish, says Scout

Friday, October 20, 2006

Call me a loser

Hi! Remember me? I'm back from reclusing myself away from the knitblogging world. (I know reclusing isn’t a word. I’m following the great American tradition of creating verbs from nouns by adding “-ing”.) I'm touched by the concern that some of you expressed over my recent lack of blogging. Nothing is seriously wrong over here--just a case of the blahs and a bit of a writer's block.

I had a cold a couple weeks ago and, as usual, I sat around and felt sorry for myself. I'm such a baby when it comes to being ill. As a kid, I didn't get ill very often (perfect school attendance from 5th grade until high school graduation!) so I got the short-end of the stick when it came to the attentions of Dr. Mom. In fact, my parents didn't believe me the few times that I actually was very ill. And yes I vividly remember being dismissed as "lazy" and "bratty" when I complained about not feeling well.* So now that I'm an adult and don’t have to wait for a parental unit to declare me sick, I milk it for all it's worth. "Pity me, I'm sick!"

PatheticKnitting-wise I've also been a loser. I started working on my Christmas gifts: Reid for niece Eva and Heirloom Aran for nephew Logan. Now you can see that Reid is basically finished. Seamed together, pink yarn ends weaved, picot edging worked. But notice that the ball of yarn for the edging is STILL ATTACHED to the dang sweater. It's been in that state for a week now. Pathetic. I'm just pathetic.

While the nearly finished Reid languishes in my knitting bag, the Heirloom Aran is clicking along nicely. What is it about working cables in fingering-weight yarn that I find so attractive? I was mighty disappointed to discover that I had to go up to a gigantic size 3 needle (3.25 mm for you metric types) to get gauge. There was much grousing when I put away the size 1 needle (2.25 mm). Suddenly the entire pattern was less interesting, but I cast on anyway. What else was I going to do with the yarn?

WhineThe back and the front of the aran are finished and I just started the sleeves. But now I don’t want to work on it simply because the sleeves have increases on the wrong side of the work. That’s right, I’m being crabby about having to increase on the wrong side. Why? Because not only am I a pathetic loser, I’m a whiner too. whine

So now you’ve gotten a dose of me in a foul mood and you can see why I didn’t feel like blogging. I’ll keep working on hauling myself out of this slump. A visit this weekend from Monkee and MonkeeMom should help with that.

*(The incident most deeply burned in my memory happened during a family vacation to San Francisco. We were in Chinatown shopping. At that time, Chinatown was very exciting and important to my father because Chinese Anything was impossible to find in Iowa. I started feeling bad. I told my parents. I could barely stand and couldn't bear to be inside the stuffy stores. My dad yelled at me. Called me selfish. After an hour or so of moping and yelling, he dragged me and the rest of the family halfway across the city to eat at a non-Chinatown restaurant because he thought I was complaining about being in Chinatown. But I just wanted to sit and do nothing. I couldn't eat the sandwich that he bought for me. More yelling. Finally, they took me back to our relatives’ house where I promptly began showing the less-pleasant symptoms of the stomach flu. Of course, my brother came down with the same illness the next day and my parents had to spend the rest of the vacation tag-teaming over who took care of the kids and who got to go sightseeing. Thankfully, I was nearly well by the time we had to fly home. Big brother was not so lucky.)

Friday, October 13, 2006

I could be famous if I knew who these people were

As seen on Elizabeth's blog:

Who are these people?! I've heard of Marcia Cross, but that's it. And only one Asian? What's with that? I thought I looked like Lucy Liu.

That's more like it. At least I look like a chess grandmaster and two different mutants.

Regular knitting blogging to return next week, I hope. I haven't felt like writing recently.

Friday, October 06, 2006

10 Knitterly things that you didn’t know about me

Before I launch into my list, I want to thank all of you for your kind words about Serenity and the Shaped Triangle Shawl. I was pleased to hear that so many of you thought that the shawl still looked good despite the variegated yarn. At the moment, I’m still trying to figure out how to wear the shawl with style. (First lesson learned: A huge variegated shawl does not go with shorts and a T-shirt.)

Now on to the 10 Knitterly things about me!

1. I love the look of colorwork: fair isle and intarsia look so interesting and intricate to me. However, I can’t stand doing colorwork. I particularly hate doing intarsia.

2. I drool over handpainted yarns, but I rarely buy them because I never know what to knit with them. My recent foray into handpainted lace is a result of a moment of weakness. I now have to take the “no handpainted/variegated yarn” pledge.

3. After learning to knit and producing three sweaters, I stopped knitting for 12 years or so. But since I picked it up again, I haven’t stopped.

4. I first learned to knit English-style but switched to Continental after learning how to knit with both hands. But when I re-taught myself after my 12-year break from knitting, I started knitting English-style again.

5. I have difficult verbalizing knitting instructions. I’m a very visual learner and am a big advocate of learning by doing. So when I “teach” someone to knit, I show him or her what to do rather than explain what to do. When I try to teach someone who isn’t a visual learner, I get frustrated and so does the student. Because of this, I have decided to stop teaching classes, though I will help people informally if they ask.

6. Don’t own and have never owned a single pair of straight needles. The only times that I have knit with straight needles were when I was teaching someone who happened to have straight needles.

7. I love seaming sweaters so much that I once considered offering finishing services for money. Then, I realized part of the reason why seaming my sweaters is fun is because I plan ahead for seaming. If I seamed someone else’s pieces, I’m sure I would be irritated by the lack of nice selvedges and properly placed increases and decreases.

8. Sometimes when I’m knitting the back of a sweater, I’ll start a new ball of yarn in the middle of a row. But only the back. And only near the bottom of the back.

9. I want to knit a sweater for Scout.

10. My nonknitted wardrobe is very simple: solid colors, clean lines. So I’m also drawn to simple knits—you know the kind—stockinette sweaters. But when I really think about knitting those sweaters, I usually decide against it because I can’t bear the thought of knitting that much stockinette. I think that’s why I knit so many cabled sweaters. The cables keep it interesting but everything is still done in a solid color. But dang, those cables take a lot of yarn!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Shaped Triangle Blanket

Look at the size of that thing!

Pattern: Shaped Triangle Blanket Shawl from A Gathering of Lace
Yarn: Lorna’s Laces Helen’s Lace in Iris Garden (50% silk 50% wool, 1,250 yards) 1 hank
Needles: US size 4
Finished Size: 47” from “neck” to bottom point, 76” at widest point
Cat: Scout
1. It’s HUGE. When I put it on with the top edge of the shawl against my neck, the bottom point lands midway between my knees and my ankles.

Topknot Kitty2. I did not finish all of the instructions because I was running out of yarn. However, using my handy-dandy spreadsheet and my digital kitchen scale, I knew that this would happen. Also had figured out a good stopping point: I omitted the edging along the top of the shawl. According to the instructions, after working the edging along the bottom, you’re supposed to pick up stitches along the top and do a 2-row edging that didn’t seem to add much to the shawl. By omitting that edging, I didn’t run out of yarn and I avoided binding off 436 stitches. (Scout shows how much yarn was left over.)

3. Is lace in variegated yarn successful? No. Up close it looks good, but from far away it doesn’t do it for me. I have learned my lesson. I must resist all urges to buy handpainted yarn—no matter how pretty it is.

You want a modeling photo? Scout is happy to oblige. The color of the shawl is the most accurate in this photo.
I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille

Close ups:

Blocking photo shows the true shape of the shawl: