Sunday, August 30, 2009

Double re-finished objects

Today was a day for re-finishing two FO's which really should have been rehabbed a long time ago. (Well actually it was a day for working and cleaning and studying, but that is neither here nor there.)

First is the Corinne dress. It got longer and longer and longer, and ended up a giant fishnet-like horror show.

I started frogging, with the intention of frogging the whole thing and making a top out of the yarn (Rowan cotton glace). Every time I frog a FO I am so shocked by how well I weave in ends, because when I'm weaving in ends I sort of half-ass loop the yarn through whatever bump I can find on the fabric, and the whole thing seems like it might fall apart if someone puts it on and takes a deep breath. Well apparently the strategy works, because it's really hard to find and undo the ends! Anyway, I was merrily frogging, when I felt a sudden regret. All this parachute lace, with tricky double decreases! And the ruffle at the bottom, my god, the ruffle! That thing took forever and a day to make, with all the short-row ruffle-ing. So I quit frogging around the waist, and decided to make it into a skirt.

Which took a lot longer than I thought it was going to take. Miraculously, when I picked up the stitches, I didn't miss a single one. The elation was short lived, as I realized that the waist would have to be in ribbing. In the end, I did 20 rows of 1x1 ribbing (all penance has paid for the year imho), with a purl row in the middle. I folded over the ribbing and did a hem bind-off, while incorporating elastic into the hem. (I am opposed to elastic waists in general, so this is embarassing to admit. But the cotton ribbing didn't seem quite sproingy enough to hold up the skirt.) At this point, it occurred to me that I had used US size 2 needls sort of on a lark, and that maybe the waist wouldn't actually get past the hips. Thankfully, the knitting gods were watching out for me, and it worked out fine. I then made a slip out of this maroon fabric, because I tried to buy a colored slip before and failed, and what's the fun of wearing a knitted lace dress/skirt if you can't show off the lace?

I sewed the slip into the skirt, which was really stupid, because then it was too tight and it wouldn't get past my hips. Ha! So then I had to undo all of that, and sew a separate thin elastic into the fabric to make a separate, real slip.

Unbeknownst to me, Cammy decided to pose too (look at the pictures again!), but decided she was too cool for this sort of thing during the last picture.

The other FO is one that should have been done, er, 5.5 months ago. It's a February lady/girl sweater for my niece that has been unfinished for lack of notions. After months of searching for nice ribbon, and failing, I made some ribbony stuff out of the same fabric as the skirt slip. It's used to line the buttonbands (snap-bands, in this case), so that the yarn doesn't get horribly stretched as the snaps un-snap. Look at all this hand-sewing! A gold star for me today!

I attached cute bee buttons, sewed on the snaps, and--voila--finally finished!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

FO: Brainbridge-Baltimore-Fair socks

I got the yarn in (?on) Bainbridge, worked on the socks in Baltimore, and finished them on the way to the Missouri state fair (thanks to the 3-hours-each-way ride), so these are some jet-setting, well-traveled socks!

The yarn is Blue Moon Socks that Rock in Carbon Dating. It's very squishy and fun, and would have been perfect except for the color pooling. The stitch pattern is from Mad Color Weave socks by Tina Lorin, and I like how the slipped/crossed stitches break up the pooling. Otherwise, I made these socks toe-up, with my usual toe (all my toes are the same height, so my socks' toes don't need to be pointy) and heel. Despite the fact that I start turning the heel about 1/4" earlier with each pair of socks, they are always too big. I added a column of twisted stitches/purl ribs up each side for some stretchiness too.

Hopefully this is the last pair of socks for a while. I don't really like making socks, but sock yarn is so tempting!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Missouri State Fair

Warning: lots of pictures

Last Saturday part of our knit night group went on a field trip to the Missouri state fair. We made a bee-line for the Home Ec building.

Man oh man, I miss home ec. I had home ec for 12 weeks in 9th grade, half was cooking, and half was sewing. The cooking part was awesome because it was right after lunch hour and we cooked yumsie food we could eat instead of the yucky stuff in the boarding school dining hall. And the sewing part was great because I could make lots of scrunchies to match all my clothes. Scrunchies and lemon meringue pie. Good times! Anyway, the home ec building at the fair housed all the "fair sex" arts, like baking, canning/preserves, sewing, "collecting" (total BS btw), scrapbooking, quilting, clothes-sewing, spinning, crochet, knitting, etc.

The quilting was the best. If I learned anything at the fair, Missouri is a sewing state, not a knitting state. This was the "best-in-show" item, a hand-stitched tone-on-tone quilt that was really spectacular.

Another amazing quilt--I don't know whether it won a prize, but if it didn't, it should have! It's very modern.

The stitching is all done by hand, in different patterns/threads within each little teeny fabric section!

This one looks like stained glass.

An homage to O'Keefe. If anyone wants to make me a quilt like this, I wouldn't argue one bit.

On to the knitting. At this point in our tour, the lights went out in the building!!! OMG OMG horror of horrors! We drove 3 hours each way for this! Anyway, the pictures are all washed out and crappy because of the flash, many apologies.

There was a whole case of handspun. Did you know you can hand-spin fun fur yarn with sparkly bits? Good to know. Unfortunately all the yarn was in a glass case and fondling was not possible, so it was just like looking at all the pies and breads and not being able to taste anything.

There was a little store there, with various handmade goods, nice baskets, and more handspun yarn. All of us have titanium self-discipline, and so we didn't buy any of it. (Actually, there were only single skeins. Spinners need to figure out that multiple identical skeins = more sweater-knitters = more $)

There was a LOT of crochet, of which this is a small selection. I do like crochet, but I feel there is a very short and slippery slope to making granny shite.

Finally, the knitting! These two pullovers won for best pullovers. There were only 3 pullovers being judged, but both did deserve a ribbon because both have really detailed colorwork/fair isle.

This is a tiny section of a huge blanket knitted in fingering or lace weight yarn. Inexplicably, it didn't win a prize, and we thought that maybe it was an antique and was thus disqualified. It was absolutely breathtaking, and we could only see like 1/16 of the thing because it was all folded up!

One of the winners for the shawl/stole category is this tan lace shawl, which was used to line the base of the display cabinet, obscured by all the other crap little things on top! Very little of it was visible, sadly.

The other winner in the lacy category is this scarf, in the squiggly lace pattern whose name I can't remember but is very popular. Again, it was folded up and very little was visible.

Overall, the knitted goodies were few, and with a couple exceptions, not too great. We all decided to enter next year and kick some knitterly ass! Certainly the knitting was not displayed very prominently, especially compared to the quilts, which were all individually strung up in full glory. A long while later the lights came back on and we went and took another look at everything, but still, the knitting paled in comparison to the quilting.

Some of the best items were on the bottom shelf--this giraffe and donkey are felted little darlings!

The other jaw-dropping art on display was smocking--various garments, decorations, etc were displayed and were breathtaking. These wee smocked eggs were my favorite.

I wonder why no one has combined quilting with smocking yet. That would get the "best in show" for sure. The strangest thing in this building was this talk/show which was going on (and persisted after the electrical failure), which although looks like it should be a demonstration of prairie farm skills, and is actually a live informercial for tupperware.

There were some amazing woven items, too, like this scarf. There were a couple men who entered woven items, preserves, and breads, and got a ton of ribbons, because they got to compete in their own division. Seeing how men, juniors, and seniors get their own divisions, I think "women with full-time jobs" should also get their own division. But I digress.

After the home ec building, we looked at the "fine" art, which was pretty good in the top-50 section, and ho-hum in the rest. This quilt of an ophelia-esque scene was beautiful.

We went to the floral building (has a special name, but I don't remember), where roses were displayed for the day. One lady basically swept all bazillion categories, and I felt really bad for all the other rosebush-owners in the state. I purposefully forgot to take pictures. But here is a picture of roses made of wood that were being sold at the fair.

The last stop was the children's animal barn, or something like that, where various animals were in little pens. This included dogs and cats, and although I took pictures, they made me so sad I've censored them off this blog. All the animals were in little pens surrounded by tall fences. The goose with the yellow mouth in this picture was very unhappy and kept on honking quite loudly.

Sweet bunnies!

There was a sign outside each pen with the correct vocabulary for male/female/baby versions of each animal, etc. The "kindling" part made me laugh because I'm a dorky neurologist, and no one else will find this funny at all. But it is very informative.

Poor cow behind the fence.

And, lastly, poor little sheep.

The animals seemed overwhelmed by all the screaming kids poking in their hands, the other animals, and the whole fair scene, and I felt very bad about the whole thing. There should have been a pen with a couple humans in it to make it a fair fair.

We cheered ourselves with food. No pictures, but we had french fries and roasted corn. Having bought (and eaten) a ginorm bag of caramel corn on the way to the fair, I was too full to have funnel cake. It rained buckets on the way there, so there weren't many people at the fair, which ended up being fabulous for us because we had lots of breathing room, and it didn't rain there at all!

Next year, we are planning to enter our own knitted goodies, and I'll definitely leave room for funnel cake!

Thursday, August 13, 2009


The mail-lady brought, from the mama of the recipient of the Little Liza Jane dress, the first handwritten thank you note I have ever received in return for a handknit. Manners aren't dead yet! Thanks Lyndielou, for keeping my faith in humanity alive! Somebody is going to get many more knitted presents.

Have any of you lovely knitter-readers ever received an actual thank you note for a knitted gift? If so, did you 1) frame it, 2) laminate it, or 3) sleep with it under your pillow for a week?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

FO: Leaf Yoke top

This one came off the needles pretty fast, but may end up going back on. It's the Leaf Yoke Top from the summer issue of Knit.1, knitted with blue sky alpaca Dyed (organic) Cotton. This was taken indoors so the color is a bit off--it's truer in the last picture.

I love the yoke part. I don't really love the rest of it, mainly because it grew. Partly it grew during blocking, and partly my gauge got bigger as I relaxed in the middle of all the stockinette. I actually recalculated my waist shaping and everything mid-project, but it still ended up way too big, probably 1-2 inches too wide everywhere. Also, it stretched a bit in length, which is ok except that now the dust barts (bust darts) hit a bit too low. (This is how I know it actually stretched, instead of just being able to pretend I lost that much weight working out!) The whole top is going to go for a very gentle spin in the dryer, to see if I can shrink it just a touch. If that fails, then it'll be frogged up to the yoke and reknit. Boo.

Overall this was a great pattern, especially the cool yoke construction. The only mods I'd make, besides making it with a bouncier yarn, is making the armholes smaller. The pattern as written makes the armholes way big; they are the right size for a long-sleeved sweater, but too big for a sleeveless tank. The top ended up using exactly 3 balls of yarn, which leaves a whole unwound skein to be returned! I love how soft and fuzzy this cotton is, and I hope it holds up over time.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

WIP: Leaf yoke top

This one, from the summer issue of Knit.1 (it's the one with the lady wearing sunglasses), is coming along swiftly. Big gauge is so fun! The yarn is Blue Sky Alpaca cotton (funny, no alpaca), which is soft and snuggly and wonderfully teal. Even without blocking, I'm loving the cool bold lace yoke, and, although it was a total PITA beyond all PITAs, the i-cord edging around the neck and arms is just right.

I've realized my posting is getting sparser, which made realize that I'm exhausted. Not as exhausted as during residency when I was deprived of all basic needs (sleep, food, water, smiles), but still. I've started working out in earnest, thanks to the gym being in the same building as my work, and now my days look like this:

1 hour - wake, walk to work
10 hours - work
2 hours - work out
1 hour- shower, walk home, scarf down dinner
2 hours - study for board exams, which I cannot fail because they cost $3000, plus the shame
8 hours - sleep

Ok, ok, some of that study time goes to knitting and knitblog/ravelry-perusing. Still, it would be great to have 1 more hour in the day to chat with all you lovely people, but duties call. So please forgive the lack of posts, until I get into shape and take my boards.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

FO: At last, cut short

This Saturday in the Park Perfect Dress (Stefanie Japel) was the first and longest-lived resident in my ravelry queue. I bought Fitted Knits just so I could knit this dress. And finally, finally, I got the yarn called for in the pattern, the same colorway even! I had to swatch twice before getting gauge. And at last, I cast on.

As you can see, I cast off before it became a dress. It was fine for a while, then I realized that there are so many little things that bother me about the pattern, that eventually add up to, well, I just don't love it. And it's not perfect. And there's no way I can knit a whole dress if I don't love it and it's perfect. So I cut it short as a top.

This pattern was clearly made for someone with a large bust, and then scaled down for the other sizes without accounting for all three dimensions of bodies. The neckline is ridiculously low, even after I raised it 1.5", because it is at the same place for all the different sizes, although for the larger sizes more vertical space would be taken up by boobage. The book goes into detail about how to make clothes "fitted," which essentially consists of doing more or less raglan repeats, which to me doesn't make sense because adding more raglan repeats just makes more armpit bunchies. Sigh. To top it all off, there is no actual "fitting" for the waist, just ribbing to make it tight, which is sort of cheating, and unattractive on most anyway. Maybe I'm so disappointed because I had put this dress on a pedestal--the picture in the book with the shady trees and greenery seduced me and blinded me to the actual details of the pattern.

This is from the side. I knew I should have done short row shaping! Arrrg! The back ends up lower than the front, and the little roll that forms as a result is made even more obvious by the boundary between the stockinette and ribbing. Grr. I do like the cable pattern, although it's just a sneaky, sneaky way to disguise ribbing.

The yarn is Cascade Pima Silk in the 5141 colorway, and truly lovely blue shade. I used just under 5 balls. Which leaves 5 to be exchanged at the LYS, yeehaw!

My mods were 1) stopping at the shirt-stage, 2) making sleeves one cable repeat shorter, 3) adding bust darts hidden in the purled section, 4) making the neck edge one layer instead of two, 5) raising the neckline, 6) starting the ribbing/cabling 2" above the waist instead of below the waist, 7) changing to smaller needles for the 2" on either side of waist. Needles were US size 6 (4mm).

Now, onto something better...the fall issues of both Vogue Knitting and Interweave Knits arrived today!! I'd been drooling over all the new patterns online, and spent a ludicrously long time looking at the videos of all the VK patterns, and even without having opened the magazines yet, I declare this autumn the best knitting season ever!