Friday, January 26, 2007

Red Hot Seduction

LotusBody.jpgThe day after I finished the baby blanket, I picked up Lotus again. That afternoon, I made a decision. I hated Lotus. Well, not exactly Lotus—just the knitting of it. I guess I just don’t like doing colorwork. I’ve known for awhile that hate intarsia, but I thought I liked stranding. Maybe not. Or at least I’m not a big fan of doing so much stranding.

Boy was I grumpy those first few days back working on Lotus. Then I fell into a nice two-handed stranded rhythm and I was happy again. Lotus was growing quickly. “It’s not so bad after all,” I thought. Then WHAM I hit the neck shaping. Dale of Norway sweater patterns are often written such that the body is worked back-and-forth (rather than in the round) after the neck shaping. I know that there is a way to work the neck shaping without casting off so that you can continue working in the round. However, I don’t know how to do that because I know precious little about steeking. I didn’t take the time to learn because I just wanted to finish up.

ShinyRed.JPGNormally, when I’m working a sweater, I’m very excited about starting the sleeves because I feel like I’m almost done. This time, I cast Lotus aside and started something new. Something that has been calling me. Something that has been tempting me. Something that I had to have the moment I saw it. Kidsilk Night in Dazzle, also called SHINY RED!

Shiny Red Kidsilk seduced me into buying it without a pattern in mind. I usually don’t buy yarn unless I know exactly what I’m going to use it for. That way, I get the right amount of yarn and I’m not building up too much of a useless stash. When Peter learned that the yarn was an impulse buy, he scolded me for becoming “one of those knitters who just buy yarn to have it.” (Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just that I have always told Peter that he should be happy that I buy yarn with projects in mind and that I’m really saving him money buy doing so, blah blah blah. It helps me justify spending so much money on yarn.)

KarisPhoto.JPGAs a result of my impulsiveness and Peter’s stern looks, I had to find a pattern for the yarn and fast. I looked at various shawl patterns and various KSH patterns until I saw the Karis poncho from Rowan 36. The photo in the magazine is terrible (out of focus), so I started Googling to find photos of completed Karises. I found some beautiful examples and I learned something interesting: Karis is knit flat and seamed in the back!

What I really wanted to make from this yarn was a cape, but I hadn’t found a cape pattern that I liked. From the photos of Karis that I saw, I felt that I could knit the pattern, not seam it, add a button or ribbon, and wear it cape style! Yes, it could be so. Right after I had my little revelation, I found that E had made her Karis into a cape! I emailed her to ask her how Karis worked as a cape and she said that it looked good. We emailed back-and-forth for a bit and I mentioned that I was hoping to find someone who had the pattern because I didn’t want to buy the whole magazine just to get one pattern. E kindly offered to let me borrow her pattern! I was so amazed and thankful.

KarisStart.JPGBecause I’m working this as a cape, I decided to “pretty up” the front edges. This involved some fiddling with the stitch count, and changing some of the unspecified increases to yarn overs. I also had to chart the pattern because I hate reading lace patterns that are written out. But it's working out and it's knitting up quickly. Yay me! Yay E! Yay Shiny Red!

Edit to add: Amanda the lurker who left a comment on the last post--please tell me your blog url. Email me (address in side bar) or leave another comment. New blogger seems to have lost your identity. :-)

Monday, January 22, 2007

Finished Object: Pinwheel Afghan II


Pattern: Oat Couture’s Pinwheel Afghan, DK weight, solid color version
Yarn: Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece (80% Pima cotton, 20% Merino wool, 215 yards) in Alpine Lilac, 6 skeins
Needles: US size 6
Recipient: Allison and Greg’s baby
Modification: I did a provisional cast on and grafted the first and last row together.

Comments: I finished this baby blanket a week ago but didn’t get around to writing about it. As it turned out, procrastination was a good thing. Peter and I gave the blanket to the parents-to-be last night and I received the most enthusiastic response to a handknit gift that I have ever gotten—and it was from the dad-to-be, not the mom-to-be.

Allison unwrapped the gift (she knew what it was because Peter told her when I was knitting it—bad Peter) and was very happy and excited when she saw it. But Greg was fascinated. He kept studying the blanket and trying to figure out how it was made. At first, I gave a pretty general description of the construction, but he wanted to know more. He kept grilling me until I had explained how short rows worked and how to make lace.

After Greg understood the construction of the blanket, he suggested that the blanket could be made with different colored wedges. That’s right—a guy who knows basically nothing about knitting suggested a modification that is actually included in the pattern!

THEN, he suggested to Allison that the two of them learn how to knit. :) Allison didn’t want to have anything to do with it, but Greg was serious. He really wants to learn how knitting works. (I wasn’t sure if he wanted to learn to knit or just learn how the knitting changes yarn into fabric.) So, I suggested that he visit and look at the videos. I also told Greg that I would teach him to knit if he wanted.

Scout Happenings
Standing on a book make it easier to read, says ScoutThose of you who have sharp eyes may have noticed the chicken wire that now graces our stairwell railing. We have not taken to raising chickens in the house. (Though the idea of having fresh eggs is very appealing.) The wire is, in fact, known as Scout wire. Soon after we moved into our new home, Scout discovered that she could go outside of the railing and walk along the four-inch wide ledge—the four-inch wide ledge over a one-storey drop above a slate floor. Then, Scout learned that she could RUN along the same ledge. After watching her do this a few heart-stopping times, Peter installed the Scout wire.

My name should be first, says ScoutSince the installation of the Scout wire, Scout has been keeping busy in other ways. Lately she has been reading Mockingbird by Charles J. Shields, a biography about Harper Lee. Scout was named after the main character in To Kill a Mockingbird—one of my all time favorite books. Mockingbird (the biography) was published last year. My parents went to hear the author speak and bought an autographed copy of the book for me. As Mr. Shields was inscribing my book, my mother casually mentioned that I named my cat after Scout Finch. So Mr. Shields added a little something for Scout. Now Scout thinks it’s her book.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Contest Results

I swear it wasn't rigged.

Contest 1 Answer: Hiawatha, Iowa. (And the knitting connection is the Song of Hiawatha Stole--one of the big lace projects on my to-do-someday list.)

Twenty-two people sent in the the correct answer. Good job everyone! I numbered the correct entries 1–22 based on the order in which the answers were received.

Contest 2 Answer: 9 years

Five people guessed the correct answer, but a lot of you were very close. Again, I numbered the correct entries 1–5 based on the order in which they were received.

This random number generator gave me two numbers:
5 and 4

And the winners are:
Contest 1: Rachel
Contest 2: Stoat

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A Double Anniversary Requires a Double Contest

Somewhere in this month is my blogiversary. And today is my wedding anniversary. So it’s time for some contests.

When considering sponsoring a contest, I’m always torn. I’d like to get tons of entries like the contests that require the entrants to do nothing but leave a comment but I think a “contest” should involve more than drawing a name out of a hat (or a random number generator as the case may be). To solve my dilemma, I’m going to have two contests: one low-effort and one higher-effort.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The two contests have two different ways of entering! Please follow directions or your entries will not count.

Contest 1: Put a little effort in, in the nickelodeon

If this is a cat mat, shouldn't it be under me not on top of me?I went to visit my parents back in November. One of the purposes of the trip was to collect some of my stuff that’s been hanging out at their house. One precious object I retrieved was my first and only weaving project. I made this when I was in 4th or 5th grade using a loom that belonged to my elementary school. It has some mistakes (the biggest mistake is not my fault—someone screwed up when he or she warped the loom) but it’s a good beginner effort. You can see that I was already partial to pink at that age.

The elementary school that I went to had the same name as my hometown. And that leads us to the first contest: Name my hometown!

By hometown I don’t mean where I live now. I mean where I lived the first 18 years of my life. I have named this place in a post somewhere in my archives. My hometown has an unusual name and that name has a knitting connection.

To enter Contest 1: Send an email with your answer (city name AND state) to ScoutP (at) gmail (dot) com (Yes, that’s Scout’s email address, don’t abuse it!) A winner will be drawn from all correct answers.

Please forgive Scout’s grumpy expression, she just came home from the vet.

Contest 2: Take a wild guess

weddinggown.JPGAnother precious object that I took from my parents’ house was my wedding gown. It’s been living in this box since I got married, supposedly “preserved.” However, I notice that the veil and headpiece are turning funny colors. So much for preservation.

Nevertheless, I’m happy to have my wedding gown back in my possession. I’ve forgotten how pretty it is. I almost want to take it out of the box to wear again. And thus, the second contest: What anniversary are Peter and I celebrating today?

I’m fairly certain that I’ve never stated how long Peter and I have been married anywhere on this blog so you’ll just have to guess the number of years. You can take a wild guess or attempt an educated guess. I’m not giving any hints.

To enter Contest 2: Leave a comment on this post with your guess. A winner will be drawn from all correct answers.

I supposed you want to know what you’re playing for. The winner of Contest 1 will get his or her choice of the three prizes shown below. (Yes, three prizes for two contests, I can count, I just wanted to give the winners options. Only two prizes will be awarded.) After the Contest 1 winner selects a prize, the winner of Contest 2 will select a prize.

Prize 1: A slightly used copy of Vogue Knitting Accessorize. I'm not sure what I was thinking when I bought this book. I don't usually knit accessories. It does have some very nice patterns in it, but nothing that I'm dying to knit.
Prize 2: Yarny surprise! At least 4 full balls/skeins/hanks of yarn mostly left over my past projects. You know that I like to knit with natural and good quality fibers, so that’s what will make up most of the yarny surprise. (No, the yarny surprise is NOT in that bag, I was too lazy to pull out the yarn from my stash and that was the only plain brown paper bag that I could find.) I will say that Brown Sheep and KnitPicks will be represented in the yarny surprise.
Prize 3: Jewel-toned cotton yarn. This yarn was partly used then frogged from sweater that I never finished. I planned to use this yarn for knitting toys, but I’ll never get around to it.

Deadline: Have your answers in by noon CST on Saturday January 13, 2007. Winners announced soon after that.

Edit to add: I have enabled comment moderation for the duration of this contest. So don't worry if your comment doesn't show up immediately. Remember to follow the rules for Contest 1!

Monday, January 08, 2007

You all are . . .

. . . too kind
Thanks for the comments on Gathering Intentions. The sweater has already gotten a great deal of wearing time—and even endured it first stain. Lucky for me, the chocolate ice cream came out in one wash. Yay, for machine washable sweaters.

. . . too funny
After I expressed my desire to knit something simple, some of you recommended knitting socks. hahahaha! Ok, I could knit socks. I even looked at some of my stash sock yarn and considered knitting socks, but something much better came along.

PinwheelStartA friend of mine (ok a mostly a friend of Peter’s) is expecting a baby. Peter had told me that said friend was due in February. Over the summer I completely ignored the impending baby, thinking that February was so far off and that I had plenty of time to knit up a baby blanket.

Of course, now it’s practically February and I just learned that the friend’s doctor now thinks the baby will come early. Eep! So I began a baby blanket a little over a week ago. It’s Oat Couture’s Pinwheel Afghan again. Once again I must say that I LOVE this pattern. I could rave about all of its great qualities, but then I would be repeating myself. I said it all before.

I took this photo last week when I thought I was going to blog. But then I didn’t. I’m now nearly 5/8th of the way finished with the blanket. With any luck, I will finish this week and the blanket will arrive at the friend’s house before the baby does. This baby blanket is a dusty lavender color. I was going to knit a pink blanket, but Peter talked me out of it reminding me that the friend’s next child might be a boy. Oh well, everything can’t be pink.

SectionalOh, and the blanket is being display on part of our new sectional. What do you think? It’s big and fluffy. The dark brown bits are leather (not the dark brown pillows) and the cushions and pillows are microfiber. It’s my attempt at finding furniture that the cats can’t completely destroy.

Tune in next time for a contest. Yes you heard right. You too could win yarn! Or at least something yarn related.