Friday, February 29, 2008

Stash update

Thanks to leap day, I got an extra day to get a few more rows done on my chenille blanket, so I was able to beat the stash-busting goal for February. Here's how it looks so far:
The blue line is the goal of knitting 354g per month, if I want to use up all 4248g in my stash by the end of the year. The red line is where I am, which is 3452g currently, which is 399g for February! This month, I finished (and by "finished," I mean small enough that my fancy futuristic scale








can't measure) two yarns: mint Knit Picks Palette, and Austerman Step purplish striped sock yarn.











Finished objets during February are mintchoc platonic socks, two coffee cozies, and a lacy corset tank.



































































I somehow got a knitting catalog in the mail yesterday, despite trying my best--ahem--to stay off catalog mailing lists. It was good motivation to get the stash knitted away, so I can get new yarn!

For March, the goals are to
1) finish the chenille blanket, especially now that it's becoming spring (hooray!!!)
2) make at least one kanga, if not a roo
3) make a pair of boot socks for the March project, for the Stash Knitdown 2008 group on Ravelry, with the last of the sizable bundle of sock-weight yarn in the stash. It's two balls of Knit Picks essential tweed in Plum. Boot socks seem like a great early-spring thing to wear, and I'd like to optimistically believe it's early spring, now that it's March.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Green knitting 2

My sister pointed out that maybe I should ask her my green questions. After all, I have the joy of answering not just her medical questions, but other people's (some strangers') as well. Sadly for me, most questions are not neurological at all, but usually concern weird labs, weird skin things, weird belly pain, etc. I think a med school that focused on...weird science (har!) may be much more useful than regular med school. Not that I'd go through that again.

Anyway, here are my big green questions, for Siel and anyone else who wants to help.

1. Is bamboo yarn actually kinda bad for the environment, because of all the chemicals it takes to turn it from wood to snuggly-soft yarn? What about bamboo cloth? I really want to buy this bamboo bag to hold bread.

2. What should I do with the following: Sno-Bol toilet cleaner, Target brand spray soap scum remover, Windex, and Ajax scouring powder? I can't put anything in the trash that I really want gone, because we have a very active dumpster-diving community in our alleyway. Besides, I'd feel guilty about that.

3. Does clumping cat litter decompose into non-toxic stuff, or am I (or Camembert) polluting the world with permanent clumps of cat pee? The "natural" pine stuff kinda stinks.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

FO: Mintchoc platonic socks


These are socks to use up the leftovers from the mintchoc capelet and booties (see here to find out why these are platonic), to prophylax against sibling rivalry. (The repient is the sister of the recipient of the sherbet booties). Again, sock/fingering weight yarn is endless. I was going to make these ankle length, but the yarn kept going and going, and they ended up regular length. They used up 21 grams (all!) of the mint yarn, and 9 grams of the brown yarn, leaving 4 grams of the gram yarn. Hooray!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Green knitting

It seems there’s a “green” option for everything these days. I’m always torn between getting the green versions, or using up what I’ve got. For things like cars, where the old clunkers persistently use up gas and destroy the planet, I see the value in getting rid of it and getting a hybrid. But what about the possible damage from throwing out the non-green stuff (and buying/using the green stuff)? For instance, the people from whom we bought our house left a ton of cleaning products, and I don’t know what to use when cleaning (They seriously left enough products to clean the house for decades, but still left the house a total mess. In fact, they hadn’t even finished packing when we arrived, after a 20hour drive, to move in! Anyhoo, enough about that.). These products are so noxious and awful, and not just in theory--the fumes give me a headache and make my nose run for hours, and I waste gallons of water washing away the products. Yet I feel it would be even worse to pour them down the drain without using them. If I could figure out a way to get rid of the stuff in a responsible manner, I’d do so, but for right now I hold my breath when using it. (Plus I don’t clean very often, but that’s just out of laziness, not green-ness.) But what about yarn? How green is your knitting?

Sally the Eco-Fairy from Knitty winter 2007 got me thinking about this. Next to a pic of the fairy knitted in, seriously, the drabbest and most depressing hippie-green colors, is this: “Made from undyed, organic Ecoknit cotton, she is hard-wearing, washable, and totally non-toxic. Or you can use up your leftovers in the yarn of your choosing and she will be just as cute--but not quite so eco-friendly.” What?!? It’s not like knitting with stash yarn will make it exude nasty fumes, consume fossil fuels, or create toxic waste. It’s yarn that would otherwise sit around in the stash for years, until it is thrown into a landfill or burns in a housefire. Why not make a useful toy out of it? This is a perfect project to use up leftover yarns, and it’s depressing to imagine all those people out there, leaving their stashes untouched, driving to the LYS, and buying 4 balls of “green” yarn specifically for this project. When they’re done, they’re going to have 4 different colors of remnant yarn added to their stash. How green is that? I appreciate the eco-friendly efforts by the pattern designer, but the whole thing seems counter-intuitive.

Thankfully, knitters have some sense and made Sally from other yarns, in much better, more vibrant colors. Here is ssarahevt’s Sally from her blog Stickin' it to Ewe:

And here's Dorothy07's Sally. Her blog, Quand la laine s’en mele, is in French--I can barely understand it (I think the title means "when the yarn mingles," but I suspect there is a pun in there I'm not getting), but even the pictures are worth it. She gave her Sally curly hair and lots of little colorful doodads.

So cute! I’m tempted to make this pattern now, but for right now I’ve got kangaroos to finish.

A lot of greenification seems to be a way to 1) make people feel better, or 2) sell more stuff. For knitters, yarn is the ultimate in shopping fun, because there’s no limit to how much you can have in your stash. (See the biggest stash in the world, here). If you can justify it as a good deal, good yarn, or good for a possible project, why not? And now, if you can buy eco-friendly yarn and feel super smug, really why not?

Although I’m not buying yarn these days, I still spend an awful lot of time looking at yarn online, both at regular yarn vendors who sell “green” yarn, and places like Ecobutterfly, which sell only “ecofriendly” cotton and bamboo yarns. I’m glad to have the options for when I next need to buy yarn, and certainly if I were in a buying mood I’d go for those first. There’s a big overlap between knitters (and other craftsy people) and “green” people, or at least people who want to be green. I hope we aren’t all adding to the problem by going buck wild and buying up all this “green” yarn, in theory to be eco-friendly, but honestly, just to buy more yarn.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A platonic, ideal pair




I started a pair of socks for Rachel's daughter, the one with a sister in the imminent future. Sis is getting these sherbet booties. When my (big) sis and I were little, she'd always get the red/pink stuff, and I'd get stuck with what we considered the slightly inferior blue/green equivalents, so this is my chance to say--Mwa ha ha ha! Anyway, I'm making mintchoc socks, made with the rest of the Knitpicks Palette yarn from the mintchoc capelet and mintchoc booties, made for Rosalie's baby:

LOST distracted me quite a bit tonight, so I didn't get very far. Still, kids' stuff goes a lot faster than adults', so I've finished the toes at least. I'm knitting them toe-up, together on a magic loop, as is my habit these days. Still, they are not quite satisfying, and don't really look like socks yet. Maybe socks aren't like socks until the heels are turned? They are about as sock-like as socks can be...plain stockinette in the round, with different colored toes and heels (that's the plan, anyway). Nothing fancy, not even ribbing (woohoo!). In fact, they will be the platonic ideal of socks, if there is such a thing. I hope I don't run out of yarn.

When I was looking at the mug cozies, I was thinking how cute they were, and how great it would be to have a cozy for everything...phone, ipod, cat, lunch, feet, etc. Then I eventually realized that cozies for feet are called socks. Sometimes, I am too ridiculous!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

FO: cozies, plural

Yay! The second mug cozy is finished. I made it shorter to fit skinnier mugs. Here is my weatherbeaten pink travel mug modeling:

I again did a cable down the middle, and changed the last 4 stitches on each side to garter stitch, so it won't roll up so much. See the post on the first cozy for the link to the pattern. I'll be mailing this off to my sister soon!

I used 13g of the same Austerman Step yarn, leaving 1g of scraps. I also used up 6 random singleton buttons, so I've been stash-bustin' left and right! Here are the two sib cozies side by side...aren't they cute?!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Prezzies!

Kateri, a dear member of my weekly knitting group, came back from her super-secret work travels, and brought presents!

First are gigantic (size 35) needles. She has some giant needles that she uses to whip out all these scarves, and I had been lamenting my lack of huge needles. Look how big they are! (They are next to a size 1 needle, and a pencil.) Almost vaguely obscene. Tis so exciting how fast I'll be able to knit!

Second is a fuzzy striped scarf she knitted. It matches a SweetSkins fleece I got recently! I'm so impressed she wove in all those ends. Each section is a little different--some are seed stitch, some are basket weave, etc. It's very warm and long enough to wrap around my head and neck, so maybe my hair won't freeze on the way to work.

Third--totally not knitting related but even more fun--is a teeny little card case that looks like a secret briefcase. It has two little snaps to open it, just like a real briefcase! I'm so excited to hand out my business cards now!

I love presents, especially unexpected ones. Perhaps I should start giving my gifts after the holiday season too... Thanks Kateri!

FO! Mug cozy




Yay! I got over my knitting doldrums and whipped out a mug cozy. I was inspired by rms's version, when she brought it to knitting last week. I didn't have the correct weight yarn in the stash, so I altered the pattern for sock weight yarn, added a cable (can never resist), and used leftovers from these toe socks.


Initially I tried to make a headband from the leftovers, based on the Quant pattern, using this yarn. Unfortunately the color repeats are too far apart, and it looked like crap. It was also my first go at entrelac, and I have to say, it's not my cup of tea.







The yarn is Austerman Step, which is specifically made for socks, and has jojoba and aloe mixed in the yarn, for extra freshness. There's nothing gunky about the yarn, so I don't think there's much in there, although the yarn ball band claims the jojoba/aloe will last 30 washes. The yarn has little blotches, so it seems appropriate for a cozy that might get little droplets of coffee on it. Bonus--the yarn is machine washable.

The cozy (or sleeve) pattern is by Danido Crafty, and is really handy because it's adjustable, and narrows at the ends to fit mugs with handles.

I drink 95% of my coffee on the go in a travel mug, which I tend to lose all the time, and is too skinny for this cozy, so I'm going to give this cozy away. My sis, greenlagirl, is the coffee person in my life, so she'll get a little prezzie soon!


There were 28grams of this yarn to start, and 14grams left, so it used 14grams. Since there's enough for another one, I'll try to make a matching pair before I send them off.

Friday, February 15, 2008

FTT

I've been neglecting knitting and this blog for the past week, because I started a month in the children's hospital, and my hours are a bit longer, and a lot more exhausting/depressing. This week I've come across "FTT" a bunch of times in charts (ex: "pt admitted for FTT"), and I couldn't figure out what it meant, and finally I had to ask someone. This person, who shall remain nameless, with a look of scorn, pity, derision, and much more, said, "It means failure to thrive."

How lovely, the idea that children are meant to thrive, and if they don't, it means they're not right and need to come into the hospital! At what age are you expected to stop thriving? I can't think of the last time I thought of an adult, wow, s/he's really thriving.

Working in pediatrics always induces an acute, terrible, depression for me, so I am certainly not thriving. I haven't progressed at all on the ginormous blanket, or on the kangaroos, or started on slippers for Rachel's other daughter. I did receive a compliment on my monkey gloves today, which made my day (thank you, anonymous person on the parking lot shuttle!), and I got to say my favorite response to a compliment: "Why thank you, I made them myself!" Maybe, I can get past my own FTT, and make some FOs soon!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Boohoo blanket

This is 4 hours of work on the ginormous blanket:
I cast on, knit for a while, figured out I had calculated the wrong number of stitches, and frogged. I cast on again, knit for a while, realized I had cast on 6 stitches too few, and frogged. I cast on the correct number, counted several times, then proceeded to knit in the round in a mobius strip. I cast on again, counted several times, knit 4 rows, and here I am. The chenille releases acrylic fluff in the air, so I find myself covered with little white dots, like tiny little worms.

This is so depressing. I'd be done with a corset tank by now! Or a couple pairs of booties. Doubly depressing is that the house got really cold, because our heater decided to not work for hours, on what has been the coldest day so far. Ice simply formed out of thin air and coated everything. And I have no fuzzy, hand-knitted blanket to keep me warm!

Rachel, for whose upcoming baby I made the sherbet booties, is ready to pop. I'm going to make her other daughter's slippers, as a pick-me-up.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Kanga-woes


Kangaroo is growing up, so very slowly. I've had to knit and frog a couple times, trying to figure out how to attach the tail and arms and legs and pouch. I've decided the arms/legs will need to be added separately, but the tail is being grafted on to the body, as a kangaroo is not a kangaroo without a big tail. It's kind of depressing me how long this kangaroo is taking, and she's not even that cute right now.


An even more depressing realization was that I have not two, but THREE huge balls of this Red heart yarn. There was a whole ball and a half hidden in this cable-knitted thing, rather than just half a ball. This means I actually have 625 grams of brown acrylic to dispatch somehow, and my total initial yarn grams is 4248g, not 4073g. I guess I'll make a whole bunch of kangaroos. Or actually, a mob of kangaroos...the technical term for a group of kangaroos is a mob--just like humans!

Did you know that kangaroo is the same word in French? I learned this while watching The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. It's based on a book of the same title, by Jean-Dominique Bauby . He had a stroke that caused him to be "locked in," and could not move anything except one eyelid, while his thinking and imagination and memory were all perfectly fine. He wrote an entire book using a communication system devised with eye blinks/winks. I read--and loved--the book a few years ago, so it was exciting that the film was equally good (very rare for movies based on books). I think I liked it extra because it features a neurological problem, but the non-neurologists who saw it with me also liked it. It's in French, with English subtitles, and I understood like 5% of the words. (4 years of french have simply evaporated). Anyway, in one scene, his three kids sing a song about a kangaroo, and I thought, hey, I know that word!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Swatching

I did one pattern repeat of the Vintage Velvet scarf, to test how it would felt.

Here's the before:

Here's the after:

Aargh! Orata's comment was right; I guess the center part of the yarn is not wool. Oops. Now it's a non-felted, very clean swatch. At least I learned something. My gauge is all off, but the actual knitting and felting of the swatch took so long, AND it's a blanket that requires no fitting, so I'm just going to forge right on. Also, at least I know I can machine wash and dry this blanket, no worries!

What a pain this whole swatch was! I've never actually blocked or felted a swatch before, so this was above and beyond. I do try to swatch for most things, but find it painful, akin to doing abs--good in the long run, but a huge drag. In fact trying to make myself start a swatch takes more time than to actually do it, much like abs. This is why I'm so impressed by Green Apples, who swatches for fun! It's like meeting someone with rock-hard abs, totally ho-hum about her superiority and lack of laziness. I'm officially ashamed, and vow to do more swatching--and abs--from now on.

Well, maybe having more than one resolution is too much, so I'll start after I finish the stash :) .

Friday, February 8, 2008

New books!

Score! I got a library card, and gleefully went straight for the knitting books. How exciting! You can just take them home, do what you will with them, and take them back! Here's my first load of booty:
I've already marked all the cute projects with little stickies. A quick review:

Afghans for all Seasons by Leisure Arts--all crochet, and dowdy.

Hip Knits by Better Homes and Gardens--not so hip.

Naughty Needles by Nikol Lohr--fun, but pretty impractical. I'll make the nurse cap and eyepatch for next halloween, but the rest seems too...itchy. Nikol seems like she'd be a hoot to have around!

Stitch n Bitch Nation by Debbie Stoller--I know everyone else has this already. Most of the patterns are cute, but just not quite right. I'll try the bowling bag though. As someone who never found her name on "personalized" items, I'll make anything with my own initial on it.

Scarf Style by Pam Allen--this was the reason why I went to the library in the first place. There's a huge range of styles, from super stylish to downright crazy. The mime/clown patchwork scarf is the latter, and it's worth getting the book just to see the pic of the model wearing it--and a bowler hat!

This is such fun. I wish there were yarn libraries, where you could take some yarn home, knit a while, and take it back.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Ginormous blanket

Emboldened by how fast worsted weight knitting goes, I'm ready to attack the big boluses of yarn I've hidden away for years. I need to make something huge, that will suck up a lot of yarn, but will still look nice. Basically, I need to turn yucky yarn into an un-yucky, attractive product. As I sat shivering in my basement (the basement is always 10 deg colder) looking at my stash, I realized that a blanket is a yarn-user-upper like no other. Especially if it's a ginormous blanket. A felted ginormous blanket.

So the next project will be a Ginormous Blanket, made from this cream chenille. I actually like the feel of this yarn--very snuggly and warm. I got this on ebay, when I was going to make a poncho out of it, that year ponchos were in. There are 2 huge cones of it, in addition to a half-knitted rectangle of stokinette, with the yarn doubled. Yes, it is that long! (It is draped over the back of a couch in the picture; there's quite a bit behind the couch too). I cringe to think this was the poncho I was planning to wear...outside, in public! Did I want to look like a snowperson?!

As there aren't needles long enough to handle the width of a blanket, I'm going to make a few strips, sort of like scarves, and sew them together. I'm loving the look of the cabled scarf, Vintage Velvet by Lisa Daniels, from Scarf Style. This pink one by orata looks lovely, and I hope that this yarn will felt down to that type of texture. Never mind that I've never successfully felted before. This is the sort of blanket my cat is going to love.

I don't have the book, but I looked it up, and the St Louis Public Library has it. I was delighted to find that the St Louis library system was ranked second in the US. My husband raves about their music collection constantly. Embarrassingly, I have yet to get a library card. Now I have knitterly motivation, so I'll go the next time I get out of work on time.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

FO: corset tank


Ok, it's not blocked yet. But still, it's done! This was a very fast knit--amazing how fast tops are when you don't have to do the sleeves.

The hardest part of the pattern was printing out the pattern. Seriously. You have to print the odd pages, figure out which direction/side the pages print out, change the order of the pages, put them back in the printer, print the evens, and hope for the best.

Gauge was impossible. The problem may be that my regular knitting is so different from knitting in the round. I swatched a couple times, failed miserably, and decided just to use 7's. Then I messed up with joining in the round (mobius corset, anyone?), but finally got it together. Poor rms and Rosalia had to sit through my muttering and bitching. Rosalia gets my printout as a prize!

I love the lace pattern around the neckline. I compared this pattern with the free version of the pattern (both are by Annie Modesitt), and the one you pay for is much better in terms of shaping and detail. The free one you knit plain 2x2 rib all the way down the torso, and hope your own shaping is good enough to fill it out attractively. The paying version offers a bit more help.

I had heard there were a lot of errata in the pattern, but it seems that this version (version 6) has fixed many of them. The corset tank ended up great overall, no huge complaints. I did alter the pattern in several ways.
1) Made much shorter, with the waist part 6" rather than 8" This is to mitigate the long torso (aka stumpy legs) problem.
2) Made the hip shaping shorter, doing rows 19 and 20 only once, rather than 3x. I did notice that if one were to repeat them as directed, the stitch count would be wrong.
3) Made in the round, with the center as a cable lace-up pattern, rather than sewing tons of buttons, to echo the waist shaping and to look like the lacing on a real corset. Send me a message if you want the pattern.
4) Made in wool not silk. This is more forgiving in terms of gauge, and for big meals.
5) decreases in rows 17 and 18 in chart C were combined in row 17.
6) mirrored the cables at the waist, to be symmetric

Some complaints include
1) This has to be worn with something underneath, which is hard for a corset tank, which really should be a spring/summer garment. I took pics with black pj's on, as this is not a porno blog.
2) Lace at the hip shaping is a bit floofy and not quite as corset-y as one would like
3) Doesn't actually make one look thinner.

I'll post more pics once the blocking is done. I used 213 grams of this yarn, leaving 63grams! Thanks to making this shorter, I didn't come close to running out of yarn.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Corsets and lifelines


I started a new project, Annie Modesitt's Lacy Corset Tank. It's supposed to look like this:

The yarn, courtesy of the Stash, is Louet Gems worsted, which is left over from this Cropped Cardigan with Leaf Ties by Stefanie Japel.

In fact, I used less than half of the yarn I bought initially, so I have 280grams to work with. I'm still nervous I'm going to run out. Thankfully this is knit top down, so worst comes to worst (or worsted comes to worsted, har!), I'll have a cropped corset tank. This yarn is wonderful--very soft, non-itchy, superwash wool, in a great shade of yellow. The corset is supposed to be in silk, but this is the best alternative in my stash, so wool it is!

I'm modifying the pattern to knit in the round, rather than have millions of buttons to sew at the end. Also, I wouldn't trust buttons not to gape or slip out of the buttonholes made of yarn-overs--very bad things in a corset situation.

Looking over all the finished ones in ravelry, they seem to turn out either really great or really grody, mainly depending on whether the darts end up in the right place. Fortunately this is knit top down, so I can try it on as I go along. I'm placing lifelines intermittently, so that if it starts to go bad, I can quasi-painlessly frog back to the last place it fit. I never learned how to put in a lifeline properly, so I just left the scrap yarn that I threaded through when I tried it on. This is the pink line in the top picture. It's very psychologically reassuring to have it there, like Dumbo's feather, and I think I will do lifelines for all big projects from now on. Bonus--I'm using up bits of the sock yarn that I had to set aside, to get different colored toes on the sherbet toe socks. So far the lace for the off-the-shoulder part is done, which is a bit lumpy-bumpy, but hopefully will block nice and flat.