Tuesday, June 30, 2009

FO: Mermaid, after

Amazing, what a blocking can do! Living in a landlocked state, there was no ocean nearby for Mermaid to pose next to. So I draped it on a swirly green plant, which is as close as it gets around here. It's still sort of oceanic.

This is my own pattern, which I will be putting together soon, knitted with just under one skein (~400 yards) of KnitPicks Shimmer. It's a light and non-itchy yarn without too much fuzz. The Cumulus colorway was perfect for this pattern, which I wanted to look sort of like silvery fish scales.

The edging is a loose adaptation of feather-and-fan. It, like the main pattern, has lots of double yarn overs, so there are big holes in the lace.

The one in the center looks a bit like a trilobite.

Since this is such a loose pattern, most of the shawl is empty space. So it's really light and airy, but still warm enough for cool evenings because it's alpaca. I heart this shawl! Sadly, it won't be around for long, since I'll be sending it off to my mother for a very late mother's day present. But until then, I might just have to wear it and fan about like a silly mermaid!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Mermaid, before

Hooray, it's finished! The last and longest few rows of Mermaid were seemingly never-ending, but it's off the needles and waiting to be blocked:

I'm psyched to see how it looks after blocking. Check back tomorrow for the after pics!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Buttercup modifications

Since so many people wanted my modifications for Buttercup (by Heidi Kirrmaier, rav link here), especially the lace panels for the hip shaping, I typed them up. The lace chart and other directions are downloadable here (PDF).

Additional mods:
I made the small size, exactly as written until the underarm join.

After the join for the underarm,
knit straight 20 rows
row 21: decrease one stitch each end of back half (98 st on back, 100 st on front)
row 22-24: knit

Stop, place half the stitches on spare needles, and try on. Mark bust points with removable markers or with safety pins; make sure there are the same number of stitches from each side marker to the bust point on that side.

row 25: insert 4 short rows for bust shaping, done at 1 and 11 stitches past bust points
row 26: decrease one stitch each end of back half. On front, starting 7 stitches before each bust point, double decrease 5 times. (96 st on back, 80 st on front)

By the waist, should have the same number of stitches in front and back halves. Decrease back evenly, decreasing one stitch each end on decrease rows, spread out over however many rows required to reach waist. Meanwhile, decrease front evenly over the same number of rows--since the front has fewer st already, the front will be decreased much less frequently. (Since I had 76 on each side by the waist, the front had 2 decrease rows, while the back had 10 decrease rows evenly spaced. Starting after the underarm join, I did 53 rows to get to the waist)

The rest of my mods are on the PDF. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Knot knitting

Things were coming along swimmingly for these socks until this happened:

I should explain things. I was feeling very proud of my hand-wound center-pull ball of yarn, and started knitting both socks at the same time, one from each end of the yarn. Then the center yarn wasn't coming out so smoothly, so I yanked a little harder, and a littler harder still, and suddenly the ball of yarn had given birth to a huge mess of yarn snot.

A is the original ball of yarn. The outside end of this ball is attached to E, one of the socks.
C is the yarn snot that came out of the center of the ball of yarn. C has turned into the biggest tangled mess of a knot in the world. I've managed to finagle a tiny portion of the A end of C into B, as I try to untagle C.
The other side of C is attched to D, the other sock.
The hope is to untangle C and wind it all into a bigger B. It's hard to untangle a gigantic knot when neither of the ends are free. Even if I finish untagling C into B, B will not be able to go back inside A (it is now wound in reverse order), but hopefully I'll be able to knit it all up when I finish sock D.

This is really horrible. But not as horrible as cutting the yarn and having a knot in a sock!

Also: here's a reason to stock up on cashmere yarn right now!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

WIP: Bainbridge socks

I'm back in St Louis, back at work, and back to profligate knitting. Sometimes (I tell myself), knitting goes faster when there are two very different projects to switch back and forth. Since I'm on ever longer rows of the Mermaid shawl, and the lace is getting tedious,

I cast on for some mainly-stockinette socks. This is from the Blue Moon Socks that Rock that I got on Bainbridge island, hence the name of the socks. I'm sort of using the Mad Color Weave socks by Tina Lorin, except I'm knitting toe-up, using a different number of stitches, doing a different heel, leaving out the side cables, and doing both at once on magic loop.

So basically, I'm making my usual socks, except borrowing the main slipped-stitch pattern, which is perfect for variegated yarn.

I've realized a really obvious and handy trick for sock-knitting (and any other purse knitting). I write out the outline of the pattern on one side of a 3x5" index card, and on the edge of the other side, I copy measurements from a ruler. This way, I can just carry around the little card, and use it to measure my progress, so I know when to start turning the heel. This way, I don't have to carry around a measuring tape, pattern, scratch paper for hash markes, and so on. So simple!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Seattle part 2, and Mermaid

The best part of summer is that even after a normal work day schedule, the sun stays out for a few more hours of exploring. I spent a lot of time at Pike Place Market, well, except at the fishy parts. There were lots of peonies everywhere, and rows upon rows of beautiful flowers.

It seems everyone walking out had a bunch of fresh flowers. Here are the passersby in front of Left Bank Books, which, as I found out, is not related to the Left Bank Books in St Louis. (Yes, I did get some books.)

I love going into small specialty shops that sell one thing and do it well, as opposed to the sterile and overwhelming horror that is the mall-shopping experience. For example, Beecher's cheese, which makes its own cheese in a gigantic machine!

Or Lark in the Morning, which is an instrument shop.

These are the first didgeridoos I'd seen in real life.

I didn't go into the hat shop (Bernie Utz), because a hat would be too hard to carry in a carry-on. (Digression: If you look closely, you can see my new sunglasses, finally found after 15 years of looking for glasses that look good and don't touch my cheeks. (Round face + chubby cheeks + high cheekbones + little nose = hard to fit). Yay!)
Sometimes it's fun just to walk around and find surprises, like pretty alleyways.

Finally, of course, there was some seaside knitting. I'm making up this shawl using a lace pattern which should look like scales, once it is worn (It's being held upside down). Hence the name Mermaid! She's only about a quarter of the way there, but hopefully will be ready to block soon.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Seattle part 1

Who knew Seattle was so nice and sunny? I brought an umbrella (a huge risk, because I thought security would confiscate it for sure) and have carried it around for good weather luck, with success. I'm here for a conference, but did manage to sneak away for some sightseeing.

Which, most importantly, means checking out a LYS! I took the ferry to Bainbridge Island and enjoyed the lovely ocean views and smells. Oh, to live by the ocean!
I didn't have a whole lot of time to check out the island, but what I did see was darling and fab. There's a little town, lots of woodsy areas, and beautiful houses. Imagine a lovely ferry ride being your work commute! And, there's a yarn shop within walking distance of the ferry dock.

Churchmouse Yarns and Teas is a pretty big yarn shop, with tea goodies too! It's a pleasure to browse, and it smells really really good.

I wanted to get something local, which they didn't have, but I ended up getting two skeins of quasi-local yarn. The first is Blue Moon Socks that Rock, which is from nearby Oregon. I keep saying I won't buy sock yarn, then I see colors like this, and how I am to resist?
Carbon Dating is the winner:

I also got some Plucky Knitter lace-weight 100% cashmere laceweight yarn. The yarn is from another state, but the dyer (Sarah Dimond) custom dyed a few lots for the store. This colorway is named The Narrows, which the LYS lady said is a landmark on Bainbridge Island, but I've forgotten already what exactly it is (river? hill? bridge? building?). I love the subtle rosy-brown shades, and I extra lurve super-soft cashmere!

The way back on the ferry was just as much fun. I was a total tourist and stood at the edge of the boat the whole time, and took pictures of funny things like the green sea water. So pretty! Someone should make yarn this color...

Monday, June 8, 2009

FO: Buttercup

The pictures are a bit woozy, probably because they were taken inside on a rainy day, but you get the gist. The pattern is Buttercup, by Heidi Kirrmaier (ravelry link). The original pattern is in a bright, cheerful buttercup yellow. This version is in the new Knitpicks Simply Cotton in the Ginger colorway, which, while smugly organic and undyed, is unfortunately not quite as happy as the original. The color is rather fleshy, but I've decided it's too much to dye this top (and potentially mess up), and instead will just wear a shirt underneath.

I made several modifications, including gathering under the bust with lots of double decreases, fitting through the waist, doing extra lace at the bottom, and adding a feathered-and-fanned panel on the side for hip increases.

This top has poofy shaping at the top, which works for the sleeves and front, but not for the back. It's slightly hunchbacked as a result, which I'm not sure is the best look.

Otherwise, it was a fun quick little knit, and you've gotta love the groovy scalloped edges from the lace pattern!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Seattle questions

This is another hard month at work, but thankfully due to some scheduling swaps earlier in the year, I'll be able to go to Seattle for a few days for a conference. When I remembered this, my first thought was regret that I don't have a knitted lace shawl to wear. Wouldn't a shawl made from this yarn be the most perfect thing to wear in Seattle?

Well, knitting one while there is probably just as good, and a shawl is a great portable project, so at least that's settled. What's really hard to decide is which shawl to knit. Of course, a new drool-worthy Twist Collective just came out, with TWO gorgeous shawls. The lace pattern for Artichaut is so pretty, but it's patterned on both sides of the fabric, and I happen to like the break of doing all-purl wrong-side rows of what I imagine some people call slacker-lace. Aphrodite has a very clever 3-section design, but I'm afraid of the beading (crochet hook method). I've been hankering to make up a shawl with a fish-scale-ish design with this silvery yarn, but that would take a lot of swatching and math. Oh, choices! Hopefully I can sort out this conundrum, finish Buttercup, and have the shawl cast on and ready to knit like the wind on the plane.

Does anyone know of a good yarn shop in Seattle? One with mostly yarn (not spinning or weaving stuff) and gorgeous displays?