Sunday, December 27, 2009

Holiday FO: yellow vest

Another plain but colorful vest for DH.

Isn't he a handsome fellow?

The vest is knitted top-down. After where I left off in the vest-construction, all I did was waist decreases for a bit and then knit straight all the way down. Oh, yes, and added ribbing around the neck and armholes, which was tedious as always, but I must toot my own horn because didn't I do a bang-up job?

The yarn is Simply Shetland Lambswol & Cashmere, in the Cumin colorway (perfect name!). It's a bit gnarly and crunchy while knitting, but it really smooths and softens and blooms with blocking. I know some people hate boring stockinette, especially in the round, but I love making something so mindless and relaxing that turns out so smooth and drapey.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Cozy day

The first snow of the season on christmas day. Very exciting!

It's a cozy, lazy day for all. Cammy got two toys--a mousie and a big catnip "wrestler" thing. She loves them both, and is cuddling with both of them, under the tree.

Happy Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 21, 2009

FO: Tillie Cloche

Say hello to Tillie! Man oh man cloches are the best hats. The yarn (malabrigo worsted) is from mooncalf, and the pattern is Matilda + Tillie, by MK Carroll. My gauge seems to be a bit off or something. Somehow the hat smacks of fisherman, but it's cloche-y enough. The brim is knitted diagonally, and the color variegation in the yarn worked out really well for that.

This cloche started out fast, until the part where the main hat and the brim had to be joined. There are several suggestions in the pattern, none of which are quite satisfying. I ended up leaving the stitches from the main part "live," picking up the same number of stitches from the brim, knitting a row, and the grafting the two sets of stitches together. (That's right, I kitchenered 122 stitches, not like I was counting, in the round.)

The hat is a touch loose--I didn't want it to squash my hair as cloches usually do. I used the usual method of balled-up towels as the blocking form, but with a shallow mixing bowl underneath (upside-down) to create the brim's angle. That way I can be mysterious, but still see a little bit.

Now, for trimming the hat. I am sorely tempted to make one of these ysolda hoots as a decoration.

Monday, December 14, 2009


Check out the cutesy knitted holiday ornaments our knit group made for the cafe who hosts us every week, over at Knitting Contessa! Too too cute, yes? They are displayed up above the liquor bottles, very appropriate for the holidays!

The mailwoman brought a giftie from Mooncalf--I won some yarn in a drawing from her blog, Make do and Mend. Yay! It's a lovely skein of malabrigo worsted in dark green. I immediately cast on for a hat, and put all other (gift and non-gift) projects aside.

What's on your holiday wish list?

((For the first time ever, I've made a list, because it has been made apparent to me that I am picky, to put it mildly, and this is the only way of avoiding the pain of having to re-gift or trash or give away things unnecessarily. It's waaay down over to the right.))

Saturday, December 12, 2009

WIP, or how to knit a seamless vest

The knitted-gift list is very short this year, just another plain vest for DH, this time in mustard yellow. It's pretty much the same as the green vest, with some tweaks to the armhole shaping. It's even the same yarn, Simply Shetland lambswool & cashmere, so I didn't have to check gauge! The construction is just as outlined in Knitting from the Top, by Barbara Walker, which you absolutely must get, because it is the bestest book on top-down knitting. It's weirdly satisfying to see how the different pieces grow and come together, so I thought I'd share.

The first step is to measure, measure, and measure again, check gauge, and plan out the vest. I make notes and little diagrams on an index card--this one I got to basically copy off the last vest.

Cast-on with a provisional cast-on. I always use the long-tail method with scrap yarn, because it's the only way I know. Any provisional cast-on will work.

Knit the back, starting with short rows for the shoulder shaping. (It's all curled up, but it looks like a squat trapezoid.)

Knit down for a while, then increase for the armhole shaping. Place on spare needles.

Pick up two separate sets of stitches from the provisional cast-on, one for each shoulder, and leaving a section in the center unworked (back of the neck). Knitting in the opposite direction, do the short-row shoulder shaping again, except separately for each shoulder. Meanwhile, increase at the neck edge for neck shaping. This is the worst part, where there are 3 different working ends to the vest, and the short-rowing and neck-shaping are occuring simultaneously. Soldier on!

When the neck increases are enough for the two sides of the front to meet, join, and work as one front piece. Fold at the shoulder "seams" (where the provisional cast-on used to be), and you can start to see some vestishness.

Knit down for a while, increase for the armhole shaping, until even with the back. Then--this is the fun part--go from 2D to 3D by continuing around to the back, casting on extra stitches under the arm, and knitting in the round. This part always makes me squee!

That's all for now. More steps as I get to them...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

WIP: Aphrodite

The knitting has been a bit distracted, making cutesy decorations for the cafe who graciously hosts the knit group every week. We all forgot our cameras last week, but photos are coming soon! The only thing on the needles is Aphrodite, a lace shawl/capelet from the "cover" of the summer issue of Twist.

Boy oh boy, the going is slow. It's a 30-row pattern and there are two different lace patterns for the main panels and the columns that divide the panels, so all rows must be knitted with eyes firmly fixed on the chart. Still, there are frequent mistakes, and fixing them takes longer than the actual knitting. It's still at a fairly unrecognizeable blobby stage, and only the optimistic knitter can pick out any sort of lace pattern.

This shawl integrates beading, using the crochet hook method. The beading method of stringing all the beads on the yarn first, then incorporating them, just seems too tedious and risky (what if there is a break in the yarn? what if you miscount and string too few beads?). I'd been rather fearful of beading, but it is so easy peasy following the directions in the pattern! The second hardest part was choosing beads. It took months. Eventually I settled on a slightly yellowish silver bead, to contrast slightly with the silver yarn. Isn't it pretty, like sunbeams breaking through rainclouds?

The truly hardest part was finding the crochet hook, which has to be small enough for the head to fit through the little bead. I tried a few shops, real and online, over a few months, but couldn't find one quite small enough, or I was nervous with the online ones that they wouldn't fit through the beads. Then I went to Knitorious, which still didn't have a hook small enough. But the person who was helping me look through all the crochet hooks went to the back, brought back her own needle case, and gave me the right size hook!! Yay for local shops with real, kind people! She said she has more than one of these, because she does a lot of beading. Nonetheless it was such a lovely gift, and this interaction has quelled my misanthropic urge to buy everything online.

Look at how tiny the hook is! There is a bead on it, which is the lump in the middle. For comparison, they are next to the relatively ginorm size 3 needle.

This is one of those projects that needs an easy, stockinette other project for relief. Which reminds me, perhaps I'd better start on the holiday knitting...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Orange walls

For the first time since finishing school, I was able to have a long weekend off for Thanksgiving! It's amazing how much can be accomplished with just one long weekend. First, we had some friends over for Thanksgiving dinner. There was very little to eat, so good thing the company was lovely.

Inside, from left to right:
-cranberry red-wine sauce/jam
-mashed potatoes with olive oil
-shittake mushroom gravy
-green beans with vinaigrette
-bread + mushroom stuffing
-pan-roasted brussels sprouts with pine nuts
-sweet potatoes with chipotle, and crumbly topping

Outside, clockwise from upper right:
-rolls (the only not-from-scratch item)
-roasted seitan with garlic and sesame oil
-quinoa, raisin, walnut, and "soyrizo" stuffing
-butternut squash lasagna (brought by guest)

Not shown:
-carrot + lentil soup
-roasted beet and goat cheese salad
-cheeses and crackers

Oh, also, desserts (left to right):

-pumpkin chocolate chip cookies from this Yumsugar recipe
-pear frangipane (hazelnut) tart
-butternut squash pie
-not in picture yet: cinnamon rolls by guest, ice cream

I am thankful that these foods taste even better as leftovers! Yay vegetarian thanksgiving. Yummy yum yum.

The post-party-cleaning led to one thing which led to another, and now we are in full re-decorating and organizing mode. The storage room in the basement, which has been a nagging, hideous thought in my mind for every day since moving in, is finally clean! There has been a lot of shuffling around of lamps, rugs, furniture, art, etc, and a lot of forhead-smacking--because how could we have lived for so long with these things in the wrong place? One of the bigger changes is this:

A couch in the dining room! Before we had the table the other way, with a fairly boring and formal setup (see pic above), with regular chairs and pics of different varieties of pear up on the walls. And it was well and good, but not somewhere I wanted to spend a lot of time. This couch was in the living room, and it was just not fitting in, and besides it was too crowded in there. The initial plan was to get rid of the couch, so we pushed it closer to the door, towards the dining room. Then, the light bulb went off above my head, and after a shuffling about, now there's a comfy couch to lounge and sip one's coffee (and knit! hee!) while looking out the window.

Up on the walls are a few cityscapes (or townscapes, which are my fave) from a prior Etsy binge. From left to right, they are by (links to Etsy item): beverlybrown, copperinc, artquirk, carambatack, janicej. Revamping this room, and the rest of the house in little ways, has made a huge difference. Now I wanna quit the job and stay at home all day. Well, for a couple more days anyway...

(Btw, the walls are orange, which most people feel compelled to point out when they visit. Yes, indeed, the walls are orange.)

Monday, November 23, 2009

FO: Greenbell hobo gloves modeled by my martian doppelganger. Today I skipped the workout and still it was dark by the time I got home after work, so the FO pics had to be taken under the harsh hallway lights.  Hence the greenish cast over all.

The (free! whee!) pattern is Bluebell, by Johanna Ziegler, which is super quick and easy. Quick and easy enough that I didn't mind frogging an entire glove and reknitting it when I ran out of yarn. Mods included decreasing the stockinette section on either end (not enough yarn, short fingers), and using an "afterthought" method for the thumbs rather than the cast-off-and-pick-up-stitches method. The thumb shaping in this pattern is really great and quite suitable to actually moving one's thumbs in anatomically normal fashion. The yarn is Queensland Collection Rustic Wool DK, leftover from another pair of green hobo gloves. (Not to be confused with these green hobo gloves, or these other green hobo gloves.)

I have now declared a moratorium on green hobo gloves.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Busy bee

Aaaaahhhh, internet! The modem died this past weekend. We did the usual thing and unplugged it for a while, unplugged everything, replugged everything back in, assuming all would be well. It's amazing how well this strategy works, because it was shocking when it did not. And not the second, third, or fourth time. Suddenly I kicked myself for throwing phone books out, because how is one supposed to find out anything without internet? Like the number to call when the internet is broken? Or where to go to buy a new one, or what their hours might be? The internet/phone company got bought by another one, and I'd gone paperless before then, so it was a long, long, round-a-bout extravaganza of automated voices before I got a Real Person. And this Real Person, who knows things, also had me unplug and replug things back in, but into a different outlet. Oof! So obvious! But ha--the little light was still angry red, not happy green. And the Real Person said "Don't try plugging it in anymore, because it's no longer working." Then she had me read the serial number from the bottom of the modem, put that into her system, and promptly told me that since it was activated on "approximately June 16, 2006," it was simply a very old modem. Thus its death did not deserve further investigation, and that either I could buy a new modem on my own, or wait for the sales people on the line. 3.5 years for a modem to be too old to live!? That makes me like 10 old/dead-modems old, and it is very depressing. The happy end result is that DH went out and got a new modem, and it is so shiny and fast! Whee!

So long story short, it's now too late to photograph the hobo gloves I finished. And suddenly it's super busy holiday time anyway. Yesterday, the knitting ladies and I got together to make holiday decorations for the cafe which has graciously allowed a bunch of knitters to, well, knit every week. We were all thrilled by not having to swatch, weave in ends, kitchener, worry about fit, worry about function, worry about cleaning, and generally not have to care about anything except how cute everything is in miniature knitting. Pics are coming soon, promise. Prepare to swoon and squeal!

Meanwhile, today was a huge shopping day, the horror of which was mitigated only by the fact that I was shopping for food, not clothes (or modem!). After a concerted effort to "eat down" the pantry/freezer, we were down to mere scraps. (The poor knitting ladies yesterday had to eat a quiche made of frozen store-bought pie crust, frozen spinach, an onion, an old apple, and the last couple eggs. It turned out pretty tasty though, I must say!) So today was Thanksgiving plus restocking-the-pantry day, and I managed to get an obscene volume of food. Then, since it would not fit in the fridge, plus in preparation for vegetarian thanksgiving, I started some cooking, which then devolved into a several-hour-long food preparation festival. So far I have
-roasted beets, then sliced/flavored them in preparation for beet salad, b/c beets must be sliced/flavored while warm!
-cooked down beet greens
-shredded and cooked down a HUGE amount of kale into a much smaller amount, which is still bigger than the avg human head
-made 1/2 gallon of roasted veggie stock
-made another quiche to clear out the fridge altogether (caramelized onion, parsnip, apple, and smoked gouda--must write this down, it was so yummy!)
-made cranberry-red-wine sauce (really, a jam, who are we kidding?)
-turned broccoli into florets
-washed, spun, and wrapped 3 different greens/herbs 
-and many other things.

The only regret of the day is not getting salsify, which I've never had, but have hilarious skits in my head about, in all the ways it would be funny if someone thought it was falsify.

Actual knitting content and pictures next time, promise.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

FO: Market cardigan

This one was a long time in coming. It took a big push to do the seaming and steam-blocking, but it's finally done! My Double graciously modeled it--it's hard to keep the shawl collar looking so pristine, whilst trying to use the self-timer and such.

The pattern is Farmer's Market Cardigan by Connie Chang Chinchio, from the Fall 2009 issue of Interweave Knits. This is the first "big" pattern I've made from IK, and at least I feel my subscription has been justified. I've never made a tunic-length garment before, and it'll be the last. As much as I love the pockets (!), and the ribbed edge along them that turns to become the shawl collar (!!), this length is terrible for people my height. Too bad the whole tunic look is so popular these days (see every other pattern in that issue).

The yarn called for in the pattern in Lorna's Laces worsted, but since that wasn't available at the LYS, I got Cascade 220 Tweed. In the end, it was the yarn that slowed me down, not the ribbing and seaming. IMHO I did a pretty bang-up job with the ribbing and seaming, for once. But the yarn, and the fabric it made...I heart tweed fabric and thus think all tweed yarns will turn out just as loveable. Not so! Some tweed yarns unfortunately knit up to what looks like regular yarn, with confetti clown barf sprayed on top. The same thing happened with my purple tweed socks. Next time, must remember, only one color of nubbly bits allowed!

The only changes I made to the pattern were making the sleeves in the round rather than flat, and 4 st wider at the top. I also sewed in a coat-sized hook-and-eye at the waist, because there's nothing in the pattern about any fasteners, and closure is a good thing.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

WIP: Greenbell gloves

Knitting is a good barometer for life. When I'm productive, creative, energetic, and cheerful, I knit lots of fun stuff. When I get in a rut, my knitting runs into the ground. For no good single reason, but for many smaller, irritating reasons, we are in rut season. The only good piece of news is that I found my size 7 dpns, and finished the knitting on my Market Cardi. "Only" the seaming remains. Well, another piece of good news is that the weather is unseasonably warm. Otherwise, things are all work, no play, and then I go to sleep only to be interrupted by more work, wake up, and repeat the whole thing over again. And all I've managed to knit in the past week is a hobo glove that will have to be frogged.


These are Bluebell gloves, but since they are all green, they are greenbell gloves. The yarn is leftover from another pair of green hobo gloves. All was well until the last bit, when the yarn ran out and I had to truncate the whole thing (not so bad since my fingers are short), but still there isn't enough for the thumb. (Half the stitches for the thumb are on the stitch holder.) Unfortunately it's the wrist (cast-on) end that's too long, so the whole thing has to be frogged to re-knit it just a bit shorter, to create enough leftover yarn for the thumb. Oh bother!

Thank goodness for knit night on Tuesdays. I missed so many weeks in a row due to work, that now I just leave work with crapola all over my desk as soon as the last patient is seen, knit and gab, and then go back to work for a few hours to finish all the paperwork. I do this, for all the reasons CanaryKnits listed for knit night, and more. Even when one is in a rut, it's so vicariously satisfying to see someone make miles of progress on an intricate fair isle shirt, or finish a dizzyingly-perfect geometric blanket! Also, the other knit night peeps suggested that maybe hobo gloves don't really need thumb bits at all, just a hole for the thumb. They are officially wise and good people!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


The market cardi is sooo, soooo close to being done.

Look at that ginorm ribbed/cabled shawl collar! I persevered through the sleeves, even when they had to be knitted separately when the circular broke halfway. I just need to finish the 1" hem on the sleeves, and block and seam the sucker. But alas, alas, my size 7 double points are nowhere to be seen. In fact, my size 7 circs, which were with them, are also missing. So this Market Cardi will have to wait a little longer to be finished.

And, oh tragedy, my little Feather Duster shawl/scarf is also gone. Today at the usual knit night spot, I asked the cafe people and they hadn't seen any leftover knitting stuff. Arg! I remember ever-so-carefully putting away the scarf and putting it...somewhere very safe.

So I cast on for a pair of fingerless mitts at knit group, and realized when I got home that the needles I used are like 4 sizes too big. It's one of those days.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Double FO: befores and afters

The best fun of binding off a shawl is blocking it. This is what I call the fat feather duster, because it's the Feather Duster (by Susan Lawrence) knitted with fat yarn. The yarn is Alpaca with a Twist Highlander (worsted-aran weight) left over from Vivian. Altogether it took just under 2 skeins of yarn. Here it is before, sad and unblocked.

Here it is after, smooth and pretty and snuggly!

If you're wondering whether I really knitted the same shawl pattern twice in a row, yes, I did indeed. It's so easy and quick, especially with the fat yarn, on ginorm US 10.5 needles! I did only 4 pattern repeats, rather than 6, because I was running out of yarn, and it ended up the right size. I can wear it more like a shawl,

or more like a cowl/scarf.

FO #2, Fern Glade (by Megan Marshall) is done and blocked, after I was able to get another ball of Suri Merino. The blocking was done on a plate and a balled-up towel, for slouch, and holy crap it ended up huge! As previously mentioned, these slouchy hats look goofy on me. Here's the before:

After knitting two hats in  a row that I can't wear because they look goofy, I decided that enough is enough, and got my hair cut to accommodate my knitting. Here's the after:

Look, bangs! I've never had bangs (or fringe, as some say, which is even better) before, having been told they would make my face look even more round. Well phooey to them, because that is so not true, and now I feel like one of the cool girls!

I saw this tree on the way home from the haircut, one of the last, proud few with vibrant leaves still. It's a perfect autumn day. Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cute baby in handknit and cute cat

Finally, a picture of a recipient of a baby handknit! Wearing said handknit!

This is sweet Caroline wearing her Little Liza Jane jumper, sitting on her lovely momma's lap.

She's not yet crawling, but is quite the dress-model already!

Speaking of cuteness, I couldn't resist sharing the overwhelming cuteness that is Cammy.

There are 2 FO's waiting to be shared, but it's too dark and gloomy for photos. What does the rest of the knitting universe do? Take pictures during lunch break? Take all pictures during the weekend? Build a full photo studio in the basement? Suggestions are welcome!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

In with the new, out with the old, and a FO

It's funny, how when you have a big deadline like a huge exam, you think that life will be hunky-dory afterwards, filled with bonbons and knitting. Then the big event passes, and you find the following lists scrawled on papers scattered all over the desk: "Things to do on vacation," "To do after boards," "Important house stuff to fix," "Must finish before boards!", "Do now!" and so on. And not one thing has been completed on any of these lists. For a todo-list-maker, the solution to the madness is simple. It is to combine all the lists into one mega-super-todo-list, on a clean piece of paper, preferably an index card (with no lines!), with categories such as "presents" (wedding gifts for the past 3 attended), "office" (ex: figure out retirement savings), and "to make" (very long list involving several skills/crafts). Despite the fact that none or few of these things will actually get done, it is very satisfying to have it all on one list. And so it is chez yoelknits. The one thing I've accomplished is ordering a huge amount of Tom's of Maine floss. It is the best--seriously, your teeth have not known joy until you use it!--but only comes in small (32-yard) quantities that are hard to find and expensive at the store. I even asked (ok, begged) the company to see if they sold it in skeins or cones, but no such luck. So I ordered 24 packs of dental floss, and grandly crossed off this single task from the mega-super-todo-list with a flourish. (Btw, I have no financial or other interest in Tom's of Maine, I just heart the floss.)

This is a roundabout way of saying not much knitting, or at least finishing of objects has occurred. The Market cardi has stalled at the sleeves. Arg sleeves! They are the pits, and attached to the pits too! I'm doing them two at a time, but really it's none at a time. When guilt about one project strikes, a surefire way to assuage such guilt is to start another project, preferably from the stash. It is absolutely shocking to me that I completely cleared my stash just over a year ago, and here we are with an overflowing tub of yarn!

My attempt to knit this Fern Glade hat from leftover yarn from the stash has been stalled by running out of yarn.

So during vacation, I stopped by the Yarn Boutique in Rochester NY, ostensibly to pick up another skein of this yarn. As I had secretly hoped, they did not have this yarn. They did, however, have many other yarns. Check it out:

What a great selection! It was a really big store (The pics show about half of the store) and the employees were friendly and helpful, without being too intrusive. (Recently I've been totally turned off an unnamed St Louis yarn store by an employee who obnoxiously yells "Can I help you?" in my face before I'm even in the door, and then hovers very close behind, infecting my handknits with her ick. Um, well, maybe I need help, but how about a "hello, nice to see you again?" Or maybe I will just answer no and turn around and leave. I was a big fan of this store, to the point where I'm on the special big-spender list there, but no mas!) Anyway, I took a long look and tried to get stuff that wouldn't add too much to the stash but would be enough to make real projects.

I ended up with one skein each of turquoise Malabrigo lace, for a shawl,

and plummy-pinkish Araucania, for a thicker shawl or scarf.

I'm not a yarn-obsessive, and don't go crazy for yarn brands, but now I can understand why other people go nuts for these two yarns.

After getting home, and the new skeins would not fit in the neat little plastic bin of yarn, I got serious about cleaning out some leftover skeins/balls in there, mainly to put off thinking about the f*ing sleeves of the Market cardi.

So I made a hat, with the leftover Cascade Venezia from one of the St James tops. The pattern is Lotus Hat (free pattern), by UptownPurl. I did an extra repeat of the lace to make it slouchier, which seems to be all the rage these days. It was still tight, so I blocked it pretty hard. And it came out delightfully slouchy!

I hadn't counted on how funny I'd look with a slouchy hat. There's nothing wrong with the hat, it's just the combo with my face/head shape--it's just...goofy, there's no other word for it. This is why Mr. Brain Model is is now Mr. Hat Model. It looks kind of goofy on him too, because he doesn't have much of his skull, but not as goofy as on me.

The center of the hat comes together in a lovely lotus pattern.

It's just a little creepy that you can see his blood vessels through the lace.

Next time, a WIP shot of another Feather Duster shawl, this time with big yarn, leftover from Vivian!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

FO: Feather Duster

The shawl-blocking took a lot longer than planned, thanks to a frantically busy work week, but here it is!

The pattern is Feather Duster, by Susan Lawrence. It's a very easy lace pattern, with patterning only every 4th row, sort of a feather-and-fan derivative. The only changes I made were doing 7 repeats instead of 6, because I had lots of yarn leftover, and going down one needle size because the yarn wasn't as fuzzy as the one in the pattern. Ooh, the thrill of living on the edge!

I used super-yummy Plucky Knitter 100% cashmere laceweight yarn that I got on Bainbridge Island. The subtle color changes worked out really well with the lace.

Unfortunately, I had tried to ball this yarn into a center-pull ball by hand, and then gave up halfway through and balled it normally. But somehow this ended up causing a horrible tangle near the end, so I just gave up and cast off, instead of doing the 8th lace repeat. When I got home and weighed the yarn, there were only 5 grams left. This probably would not have been enough for another repeat anyway, so I'll consider the knot a stroke of good luck.

The shawl is more of a shawlette, which seems rather popular these days, and definitely more versatile. It'll work as a scarf too, especially with the V in front, for coats with V-necks. I'm painting the walls today and didn't really want to model it with my painting outfit (and paint drips), so the fence will have to do.