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...