Monday, March 31, 2008

March Stash update

This month I accomplished only one of my three goals, which was finishing a pair of socks. Still, I made a good dent in the stash. I knit a total of 478 grams, although technically it was more than that because I frogged and re-crocheted quite a bit of the ginormous blanket. The current total stash weight is 2974g!! So exciting to pass the 3000 mark. Here's the graph, with the blue line as the goal of 354g per month, and the red line as the actual stash progress.

FO's this month are:

Baudelaire knee socks: 99 grams of Knit Picks Essential Tweed in Plum

Cat puppet: A mishmosh of 4 different yarns were used, total 75 grams. Yarns were Knit Picks Swish in Ballerina for the mouth, some Red Heart brown yarn for the back, white worsted wool for the belly, and green worsted wool for the collar.

Broken heat gloves: 44 grams of Dream in Color Classy in Happy Forest

And I'm chugging along on the blanket, and used up 260grams of cream chenille, plus re-crocheted 70 more.

Sadly, I didn't finish any yarns this month. But I got pretty close with the KnitPicks Essential Tweed in plum that I used for the baudelaire socks--just one gram left! If the two balls had been exactly the same size, it would have been gone, since I was knitting both at the same time and went until one of the balls ran out. Grrr.

I also finished a huge cone of the cream chenille for the ginormous blanket, but there's a lot more to go.

I have a good feeling about April! My goals for the month are:
1) finish the ginormous blanket
2) finish a kangaroo
3) make something to organize knitting needles
4) make another cat puppet, with ears in the right place this time

Sunday, March 30, 2008

FO: cat puppet

Here's the completed cat puppet, so fervently wished for by my darling husband:
The first thing he says: "The ears are too far back." Instead of the regular ears stuck on the head, I knit ears that one can put fingers into, to do expressions with the ears. So that one does this inside the puppet:
Unfortunately, the ears are too far back, so the puppet can either talk or listen/emote, but not both simultaneously. Since I'll have to knit another puppet to rectify the issue, I figured green eyes weren't such a big deal for this one. So I used the last set of matching buttons in my button stash, instead of waiting to buy green ones. She has ended up looking a bit rat- or dog-like though. I'm considering using her as a potholder, but I'd probably be so distracted by her cuteness, that I'd let everything burn while cooking.

Poor Cammy has been harassed by the puppet already.

I used quite a bit of odds and ends of yarn, mainly the yucky brown acrylic (same that I'm using for the kangaroos) and some white wool. Total is 75 grams exactly.

The pattern is Kitty, by Judy Head, available for free on Knitty. Pattern notes and changes after I knit the next puppet.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Quasi FO! Broken heat gloves

I made some fingerless gloves for my husband, so he could type when our heat was broken.

But good news! The heat is working again! Oh, and it's not that cold anymore. I learned, after living in this house for three years, that the filter for the furnace is supposed to be changed every three months. The dude who came to fix the furnace looked at me like I was really quite stupid, and he was right. I was going to take a picture of the dirty filter, but then thought it might be too too gross, and sort of like showing someone the tissue after you blow your nose.

At least the gloves are done! Sort of. I still have to weave in ends on one of the gloves, but they're pretty much ready to be, um, packed up and put away for next winter.

The yarn is Dream in Color Classy. The pattern is Sock Monkey Fingers Popped Out, by Knitphomaniac, which is the same as the one I adapted for the monkey gloves. As usual, I couldn't resist putting in some cables.

I just have a few minutes of weaving in ends. The best thing about gloves (and socks) is that they never have to be blocked. Woohoo!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Starting over, again

The ginormous chenille blanket is proving quite a challenge. After the initial failed felting and knitting attempts, the crochet was going pretty well. But the more I crocheted, the more cardboard-like it became. The blanket was just like a fuzzy piece of cardboard, and didn't quite drape the way a blanket should. And the cables looked awful, just like corrugations on the cardboard.

So, again, I frogged, and started over with a new hook, courtesy of RMS. Isn't it so pretty, like a jewel or jolly rancher? Dunno what the size is, except huge!

The new fabric is a lot softer and drape-ier, and in general much more pleasing. Bonus, the crocheting is faster, the bigger the hook! Size does matter after all... Here's the new blanket so far. Hopefully I can get it done by the end of the month, as I've only met one of my March goals so far.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Manly gloves

The heat in the house, after several weeks of fritziness, finally went out. It is freezing! I can see my breath in the morning. My only consolation is the electric blanket my mother sent me. Thank god she is is obsessed with heating, and warmth in general. (When I was still living under her roof, she'd insist that if I sat on the bare floor without a cushion, I'd become infertile. Wtf?!? I certainly never found any data confirming this during medical school.) Getting out of the cocoon betwixt the electric blanket (sort of like a warm mattress pad) below, and the down comforter above, is nearly impossible in the frigid dawn. All of which makes the loooong winter extra painful.

Anyway, my husband was trying to work on his computer, and found he couldn't use his fingers anymore because they were paralyzed by the cold. He borrowed the fingerless inserts from my monkey gloves:

and voila! Fingers work.

So I'm going to make a pair just for him. I'm really starting to run low on "nice" yarn, but thankfully, I still have enough of this Dream in Color Classy to eke out a pair. It's superwash wool, with really nice subtle color variations. And not itchy, which is my first priority usually.

I originally bought 2 colors of this yarn, to make toe socks for my parents-in-law for christmas. These were done with barely any time to spare, as there were 40 loose ends to weave in (number 3 on the top hate list), just for the toes (2 each for 20 toes)!!

There was a good amount leftover, so I thought I'd use the green (Happy Forest, awww) to make my cat Cammy a sweater, to match her eyes:

Of course, I ran out of yarn just before the end. And being a crazy cat person, I decided she couldn't wear a two-color sweater, and went and bought another skein of yarn. For a cat sweater. That she has worn once, with great shame and discomfort. She hated it so much, that she kept walking backwards in this funny break-dancing sort of gait, around and around the dining table, trying to step out of the sweater. Teehee! When I'm feeling blue, I look at all the other projects made from the same pattern, Cats Love Sweaters (by Christine Landry), by other crazy cat people. Just look at some of my faves!

Julie's Gabby:

Petitbeurre's Bebis:

em255's Abby:

All this (mis)adventure left nearly a full skein of gorgeous green superwash wool to knit up, so fingerless gloves are the perfect size project to use it all up. I'll plan to use the same pattern (for DK weight), but in worsted weight, so they are a bit bigger, and manly. The pattern is from knitphomaniac, Sock Monkey Fingers Popped Out. Of course, they will be sedate and just green, not monkey-like at all. I won't be able to resist putting in a cable or two, but I'll try to restrain myself from putting in any lace panels.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Cat puppet

Finally free of the baudelaire socks that festered endlessly and prevented other knitting, I started making a cat puppet yesterday, and look how far along it is! It's based on the Kitty pattern by Judy Head (Har! I swear I didn't make up the name), available on Knitty. My husband had been asking for a cat puppet for a while (who's the crazy cat person now, huh?) with which to harass our real cat, and when I ran across the pattern I couldn't say no. The model cat for the pattern is actually quite grotesque:

Something very disturbing about the puffy pink nose and the pale eyes and the weird ears and the red tongue! Very rat-like.

So I modified it, to make it 1) less grotesque, and 2) make it look more like my own cat. Here she is, in all her beauty!

This is what crazy cat people do.

I still need to buy green buttons for the eyes, make/sew whiskers, embroider the nose, and sew on a bell on the collar. But I'm already overwhelmed by the cuteness of the ears and the little tongue!

FO! Baudelaire knee socks

Finally! These were insanely slow going, but they are finally done!

The pattern is Baudelaire, by Cookie A. The pattern has a toe-up heel gusset and flap (as opposed to a regular heel), which was pretty cool to do. I made both at once on a circular, which was a bit tricky with the cables up the sides. I cabled the wrong direction a few times, but left it alone, because it's too much work to take the socks off the needles, fix the mistake, and put them back on. I made these into knee socks, to use up yarn, and just for fun. Some pattern errata and changes:

1) In the lace chart, the two different triangle symbols (decrease 2) need to be swapped on each row. Otherwise each "leaf" in the lace pattern gets a muddy looking edge. In the detail pic below, that's the case for the first couple repeats.
2) Next time, I'd start the heel about 1/4" to 1/2" before it says, because the foot is a bit long. Also, the heel gusset is kinda poofy when you put shoes on. Maybe I'd make the gusset less wide next time.
3) I increased by 20 stitches gradually for the calf. These socks are good because you can try on as you go. The increases are spread out in 4 parts (on either side of the lace pattern, front and back) in a rib pattern.
4) I did a wide 1x1 rib at the top, then bound off with tubular bind off.

I used plum Knit Picks Essential Tweed, a combination of superwash wool, nylon, and donegal. The tweedy little bits are quite distracting and keep falling out. The two balls of yarn were slightly different lengths, so I finished one and left just 1 gram of the other. Hooray for toe-up socks!

These socks are done just in time for easter. I can't go parading about in purple knee socks and white shoes though...Bizarrely enough, it's snowing, with easter church bells clanging. Just a couple days ago it was raining and flooding. Plants must be so confused. I just signed up for a quasi CSA (community supported agriculture) membership at FairShares. I'm going to be splitting it with RMS in fact. The food's supposed to start arriving in a couple weeks, so I hope the plants have a chance to grow before then.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Sloooow socks

Wow, these knee socks are taking bloody forever (and ever, and ever, and ever). For the one and only time in my life, I feel like my legs are too long. My only consolation is that when I'm done, I'll be done, and won't have to knit the second sock. Here they are, hanging out on the doorknob:

Today I finally got past the fattest part of the (potato-picking peasant) calf, so I feel somewhat encouraged. The remaining balls of yarn are dangerously small, small enough for the ball bands to keep slipping off. If I run out, I may have to--gasp--buy some more yarn to finish the project. Of course, that will be the beginning of the end...who can resist buying a hamperload of yarn from knitpicks, y'know, to get the free shipping?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Baudelaire update

The Baudelaire socks are taking a long time. I turned the heel a week ago, and it seems like not much has happened since. It takes a long time to knit knee socks, even if you have really short legs. Especially if your calves are fat, or as Silvana calls them, potato-picking peasant calves. It's quite depressing to measure your calves every half inch, to make sure you increase enough stitches to make the socks fit. Here they are so far. I'm hoping to get them done by week's end.
I've been distracted by work as usual, and by Camembert, who is constantly finding new ways to be bad. This week, she figured out how to get on the fireplace mantel. I just took down the christmas cards from there, which in her defense, was a bit of an invitation.

And today, randomly, I ran into this building being demolished! I had never seen a wrecking ball in person, let alone in action! Isn't this just crazy? I was so amazed, I didn't mind the 3-block detour around the demo site.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

More knitting books

A few more knitting book reviews.

SimpleChic, by Jil Eaton, seems like it would have been "chic" back in the day. All the patterns in the book are shown on the cover. The only cute one is the dog sweaters, and who has ever heard of a non cute pet sweater?

The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns, by Ann Budd, contains charts that do all the math for you, to make various basic garments (hats, sweaters, socks, etc) in different sizes and different gauges. Kinda boring, unless you're churning out stuff to sell. This might be good together with a good pattern book, or if you like really plain clothes.

Knitting on the Edge, by Nicky Epstein, is filled with different edging patterns, including ribs, cables, ruffles, tassels, etc, etc, etc. The pictures are great, and the patterns clear. If only I had enough stuff that needed more edging. I think I'll buy this book, just for the pictures.
RMS brought Fitted Knits to knitting today. The designs (and there are a lot of them) are, in general, flattering and lovely. The Cropped Cardigan with Leaf Ties that I knitted is actually in this book (also free on knitty). She's one of my favorite designers--she designs garments that are actually wearable and stylish, and worth all the sound and fury that knitting an entire garment entails. Am definitely getting this book!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

More library booty

I made another run to the library for more knitting books. (And to return the other ones, shamefully overdue). I was even greedier this time and got more books, so I haven't had a chance to look through all of them.

Great Knitted Gifts, by Andrea Shackleton and Gayle Shackleton, is the first one I'll review.
It has quite a few patterns, organized by themes, of circles, stripes, and flowers. For ex, there are different variations on dots and circles in gloves, hats, sweaters, scarves, etc, all in one chapter. All of the motifs are in intarsia / colorwork, and basically all the patterns are in stockinette. The color combinations are really well done, and some of the patterns have whole new alternate palettes, which is a nice touch.

All the patterns are designed for "sport weight wool," no brand or color specified. So I guess you have to take the pattern to the store and try to match the colors to what is available. They do recommend color photocopying the colorwork charts, which are in separate sections (to fit onto the book pages), taping them together, and using that while knitting. So maybe you're supposed to take that to the store.

Some of the patterns use the motifs in really cute, and I daresay, hip, ways. For instance, the Max Christmas stocking and Circles hat (flower and circle motifs, respectively):

Then there is some fugliness. Sometimes designers get pattern-happy and do too much. Like the Big Squares Knee Socks, which look like giant abscesses on her calves, and the Dot Sweater, which is much too much, and rashy.
Since I'm not going shopping for a dozen different colors of sport weight wool anytime soon, this book isn't too practical for me. Or really for anyone who doesn't have access to--and desire for stash additions from--lots of little bits of the perfect colors of yarn. It would be great if the authors, who dye and knit their own clothing line (Hot Knots), could sell kits to make their projects. The one good stashbuster pattern is for these wee clothes on a clothesline, which look like they'd use up lots of tiny remnants, and are too adorable.
This book is all intarsia, which means nothing is knit in the round, which means lots of ends to weave in, and lots of seams to sew. Also, there isn't much explaining how to do intarsia, so it's more for experienced intarsia knitters.