Monday, March 30, 2009

Crochet prezzies

Maybe the fates are telling me to start crocheting again. First the incredible granny square blanket, and now a gift from Thea (babycocktails and knitting)! She recently came into a bunch of old knitting and crocheting stuff (some of it quite, er, interesting), and sent me the crochet stuff. Yay, and thanks Thea!

The best pattern is this proto-amigurumi:

Crochet always looks so easy. Like oh, I can just whip up these lacy squares

or hexagonish things with just five minutes each,

and make a whole blanket! Of course it's never like that, for ex, my super slow crocheted afghan (aka acrylic albatross). Still, hope springs eternal, and I'm thinking maybe I should use my crochet hooks for something other than fixing mistakes in knitting.

It seems suddenly crochet is making a comback today. Twisted Knitter was talking about her gorgeous little blanket and Roman sock just released her free pattern for the sweetest little chicks! All well and good. I'm just afraid that it's a swift and slippery slope to this:

(Yes, that's a clown toilet paper cover. No, not toilet paper for clowns.)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

FO: Treat headband

This was a little break/treat for myself, since Golden Poplar is going so slowly. I love wearing headbands, and I liked the idea of a knitted one that is still the stiff kind of headband (as opposed to the purely knitted fabric ones that wrap all the way around). So how exciting that Boutique Knits(by Laura Irwin), which I bought just for the hat on the cover, should have just that!

It calls for laceweight yarn, but I decided to use the Jojoland Melody leftover from these socks and this flower scarf. It's pretty thin for a sock yarn, and besides, I've been trying to get rid of the little bit left in the stash for a while.

First, I had to find the band part of the headband. I found this headband, which I wore once, only because I felt guilty for buying such a piece of crap.

I peeled off all the fabric, which had been attached with glue--very classy--and ended up with this. There's a strip of stickiness on the top that won't come off with washing.

Then I got to knitting. So much for a quick little treat! Cables and bobbles on US size 0 needles go really slowly. There are many bobbles and cables in an asymmetric pattern, which looked good in the pattern (as everything does, in this book). In this yarn though, the cables got lost, and the bobbles were just tedious and ended up over-bobbley. I learned an important lesson: bobbles are fun, only for the first couple bobbles. Still, I dutifully bobbled and cabled away, when horrors, I ran out of yarn less than an inch from the end! Aargh! I ended up frogging the end of the flower scarf, color-matching be damned.

Note the unbent paper clip I used instead of a cable needle, because all my cable needles are too thick. Sewing the knitted thing onto the band was a huge PITA. Never again! Also, although I loved this yarn initially, now that I've made 3 projects with it I've totally changed my mind. It's splitty, sheddy, too thin, and there's too much of the yucky color and not enough of the good colors. There are three plys of different colors, and each one slowly changes color. Unfortunately some of the time (ok, much of the time) the three colors blend into a grey-ish blah. Sadly, most of the headband is a muddy olive color, and the fun orange-y color is just on the side.

Still, it's fun to have a cabled, bobbled, multi-colored knitted headband. It saves one the trouble of explaining oneself to the world.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Gridlock poplar

A wonderful knit night tonight. Everyone has lovely projects on the needles, and we all had a good time ooh-ing and aah-ing. After a couple hours, I did about an inch of the Golden Poplar.

This stitch pattern is awesome, it really is. It's just that half the rows are spent slipping most of the stitches, which takes just as long as just knitting them. I calculated, and it takes a thousand stitches (knit or slipped) to make a quarter inch of this sweater. Holy mole. I am knitting both sides at once (I never figured out how to do this stitch pattern in the round), so at least I won't end up with half-shirt syndrome. I'm trying to become more of a process-knitter rather than a product-knitter, but this sure is slow! I'm craving some bulky-yarn stockinette something crazy!

I must be crazy, because today I saw a granny square blanket and was over the moon about it. It's over at purl bee, and the colors are so divine you'd faint. I was re-decorating my whole house in my mind around this crocheted blanket. But no, must resist the siren song of granny square blankets...tis a slippery slope to crocheted TP covers.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Re-FO: Urbane salvage vest


What a difference a little frogging makes! Here is the Urbane sweater before--the sleeves were too tight, and pulled the already-large V-neck even bigger.

The sweater was knitted top-down, and the sleeves were picked up and knitted down, so the sleeves were easy to take off. I ended up not adding any ribbing around the armholes, because the vest already reaches across to the edges of the shoulders, since it was designed as a sweater. And heck, I'll use any excuse not to pick up stitches and do ribbing. Instead, there's a row of slip-stitch (crochet) to smooth things out.

The neck ribbing was completely re-done. The first version was done with the decreases at the point of the V done every other round, and it was just too loosey-goosey. This time, the decreases were done every round, and the ribbing pulls together much better. Here's a close-up. It still needs to be blocked again, especially since I used the ramen-curly yarn after ripping out without straightening it out.

I have a very strong opinion about keeping collars inside sweaters and vests, btw. For the rest of the specs on the vest, it's the same as for the sweater. The yarn is Louet Gems, which held up nicely, and is officially on my list of Good Yarns.

Woohoo! Now I have my size 3 circs free to cast on for the Golden Poplar.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Almost FO: February girl sweater


Yay for remembering something to show scale! Isn't this the cutest ever? It's almost done blocking, so in my view that counts as a FO, especially since who knows when I'll get to the store for buttons and such.

The pattern is a mini-version of the very popular February Lady Sweater (by Pamela Wynne) which itself is an adult version of the February baby sweater on 2 needles (by Elizabeth Zimmerman), so this ends up somewhere in between. I wanted to use the leftover yarn from Fair Enough that my niece had given me, (100% wool yarn without brand name, made at the Farmer's Museum in Cooperstown, NY) to make a sweater for her. Since I had just about the same amount of each color, I thought even stripes would work well. I love how the stripes turned out jaggedy on the lace.


The great thing about even stripes is that it's really easy to count rows. Each color is 4 rows, both on the garter and lace parts, and it's amazing how different the widths are, especially after blocking!

The sweater grew about 2 inches in length with blocking, so it should fit her for a long time (I hope!) This seems like a good pattern, fit-wise, for a moving target, because one can just do the top buttons when one gets bigger, the length works even when it's short, and the sleeves look good at 3/4 length.

My niece is 7.5 years old, so some re-calculations were in order. In case anyone is interested, here are my mods to fit this to girl-size 6 to 8 (chest 26" final, length 17" final).
-Gauge unchanged, 18st/4"
-CO 55 st, divide as 12 for left front, 7 for left sleeve, 17 for back, 7 for right sleeve, 12 for right front
-I did not use a stitch for the raglan, but instead placed a marker between the sections and did a kfb before and after each marker
-Did 16 increase rows, alternating with plain rows
-On the eyelet row, added 2 evenly in left panel, 3 in left sleeve, 3 in back, 3 in right sleeve, 2 in right panel (Total 206 st)
-Continued plain in garter until 6.25" (measure normally, not diagnonally down the raglan), before separating sleeves
-Kept 7 stitches each front edge in garter
-CO 7 st under arms on body, and pick up 7 st under arm on sleeve sections
-Continued in lace until ~13.5-14", then switched back to garter for 1.5"
-Started and ended with same color all edges, then did a row of single crochet up the front edges
-I did not put in buttonholes, because the plan is to sew in some grosgrain ribbon and snaps, which is generally a much sturdier option that any knitted buttonhole, no matter how nice.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Ah, choices

Admittedly, the knitting has been a bit forced and dry recently. But suddenly, it's spring, and there are too many things to knit!

I am on the sleeves of the February girl sweater. So unbearably cute, right?

Actually, if you don't know how small it is, it might look like any old february lady sweater, so you'll have to take my word for it that this is a teeny version for a 7.5 year old, and it is the cutest thing ever. I even re-wound all three balls of yarn into center-pull balls to knit both sleeves at once, only to realize that the darn thing is too small for that.

Then, can you believe I've been distracted from the sweater by swatching?!? I so, so hate swatching, I only do it because I hate frogging even more. But then I swatched for the Golden Poplar, and it's so much fun!

It's the Royal Quilting pattern (in the first Barbar Walker Treasury), and it's such a weird satifaction to make the grid pattern, that I can't stop swatching. I think I may just keep going and turn the swatch into an ipod holder, seeing how I shamefully (being a knitter and all) carry around my ipod naked and exposed. And this green and navy combo is so hitting the jcrew/preppy-love spot! It almost makes up for the fact that this pattern can't be knitted in the round, and I may have to follow the pattern as written (gasp).

The truth is, I'm really putting off salvaging the Urbane Sweater, which I designed and knitted for Ravelympics. Apparently, when a man says he wants tight, it is very different than a woman's tight, so the sleeves ended up too tight, and the V-neck splayed too wide as a result. DH asked for another plain vest, so I very sadly began frogging the sweater. Halfway through, he came up with the bright idea that the torso of the sweater was fine, and we compromised that I'd salvage it to make a vest.

He is even willing to live with the cables that I thoughtfully designed to look like the olympic rings. So all I have to do is "just" pick up stitches around the neck and sleeves, and knit some 1x1 ribbing. All my least favorite things! No wonder I'm savoring swatching.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Spring knitting

One knit night a few weeks ago, Silvana brought a knitting book so crack-like-euphoric, that the rest of us each bought a copy. French Girl Knits, by Kristeen Griffin-Grimes, is chock full of the lovliest knitted goodies and great new-ish techniques (side-to-side sweaters, seamless set-in sleeves). Mine just arrived yesterday, and I can't decide which pattern to start first. Eeee!
Of course, if one orders something on Knitpicks, there's really no point unless you get order enough to get the free shipping. As much as I'd like to go to one of the many wonderful LYS's in the area for every knitted item, I don't have the time to make a trip every couple weeks (and you know a LYS trip takes all day). So I stocked up, er, a little bit.

I've realized that while I knitting projects big and small, what I actually wear with any regularity are the two St James tops, because long-sleeved sweaters are too hot and bulky to wear at work. The annoying part is having to hand wash the tops every time, and unlike long-sleeved tops, these are worn next to the skin and need to be washed frequently. So the plan for spring knitting is to make a few short-sleeved tops or tanks in machine-washable yarns, and maybe write up a couple patterns in the process.

The first one will be a knit-along with Silvana of a vintage pattern, Golden Poplar, in a green-and-navy combo from Essential sock yarn.

If anyone else wants to knit along, please join us in the Vintage Knitting group on Ravelry!

Next, there's some organic cotton. Despite all my efforts, it's actually pretty hard to find organic, non-itchy yarns that are machine washable (and forget about local). Simply Cotton is a pretty new yarn, and I was pleased to feel how soft and smooth it is. We'll have to see how it holds up.

Lastly, I've been wanting to try Cotlin for a while, and got some icy blue for a nice, cool, linen top for warm weather.

Actually, one more. Every knitter needs a shawl, right? I got this gorgeous Shimmer, which is alpaca and silk, for a light but warm shawl for playing dress-up.

Ack! So much for my resolution to have no stash. I'd best get knitting!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

NO MORE FOOTSIES

Well, I've given up on trying to make any footsies. I started another pair in a different pattern, but used the wrong size needles, so they are huge, and I've officially decided on NO MORE FOOTSIES for the time being. Instead, I cast on for a February lady sweater, which is quite possibly the most popular pattern from 2008. But it's for a girl, so I sized it waaaaay down, and am calling it the February girl sweater.

Such strawberry sherbet-y goodness! It's made from the leftover yarn that my niece got me, after knitting Fair Enough. I have about the same amounts of the white, pink, and red left, so I'm striping it evenly, and hope to run out of all of them at just the right time. Perhaps I should have knitted this for Valentine's day. Alas, but I hope a random hand-knitted sweater will be appreciated. I sure am appreciating all the wonderful, relaxing, sedative effects of garter stitch, after all that god-awful seed stitch on Vivian!

Oh, I'm using the stitch markers from Vegan Craftastic. On the FU is visible, but I promise they say I heart tofu.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Award

How did I forget to post about the bloggy award from Emicat (Java Gibber)? Hooray! I am a Kreativ Blogger (and speller too)!

The rules are:
1. Copy the award to your site
2. Link to the person from whom you received the award
3. Nominate 7 other bloggers
4. Link to those on your blog
5. Leave a message on the blogs you nominated.




Teamknit - A lovely duo, who knit only the cutest stuff! They keep track of all the knits on celebs and fashionistas too. I am terribly jealous of their photography. Congrats to Julie, who just got married!

So Knitpicky - All of Vy's FO's are perfectly finished and blocked, and fit like a glove! Also, she's a brainy doc.

Make do and Mend
- Mooncalf is ridiclously prolific. I suspect she has hired knitters in her basement working on her behalf, because she churns out gorgeous sweaters (or as she'd say, jumpers) like mad. She finished the notoriously slow Sylvi like it was a lil swatch! She got a new camera and her photos are awesome!

Vegan Craftastic - Kala knits, sews, and makes awesome stitch markers to boot! She makes vegan crafting look easy.

Babycocktails and Knitting - I can't decide whether I like her knitting or her cocktails more, but in any case, a most enjoyable combo!

Knitting Contessa - Tina is the best! A frequent commentor and a real-life friend, she is always knitting or quilting something very impressive, and she does everything with aplomb.

Ephemeral Chaos - Deborah is one of the few knit-bloggers I know in real life. She's super busy being a rock star, professor, hard-core knitter, collector of strange ephemera, chef (she did amazing things with her fairshares fare), etc, yet her life seems strangely not chaotic at all.

That's seven, but there are so many more I could list. I blame all these great knit-blogs for usurping my time and my not knitting/posting regularly!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Ugly FAIL

Wow, this is the ugliest thing I have ever knitted! Looking for a quick fix, I cast on for a pair of footsies (or as some people call them, footies), using yarn leftover from a pair of fingerless mittens. The fingerless mittens--which have been re-christened "hobo gloves" by several people--looked so great in a bobble pattern, that I picked a footsie pattern with bobbles too.

The pattern is Raspberry Bed Socks, and they look so cute in the pattern, like dainty, lovely, refined ballerina foot-warmers. (You really have to click through and see them, just for the shock of comparison.)

All was going well until I ran out of yarn with just the top ribbing to go, which was no big deal since I had some other green DK weight yarn leftover from the other green hobo gloves (not to be confused with the other other pair of green hobo gloves). I bound off, and decided to try it on.

OMG! A huge knitted foot-pouch for hobbit feet! The pattern itself is quite big and loose around the top (which I realized when I looked at all the other ones on Ravelry), which was made even worse by using a bamboo yarn for the ribbing around the top. Gaaaah!

I tried to pin down the sides to see if I could salvage it by sewing some seams.

No, definitely not. Even without the fit problem, the bobbles turned out flat, and the provided instructions leave a big hole next to each bobble, so the bobbles keep popping through to the wrong side, like a sad game of knitted whack-a-mole. Thankfully, I uncharacteristically knit just one, instead of two at a time. I'm frogging this one right away, and starting on the footsies that Mlledefarge (best ravatar name ever) is knitting, because she brought them to knit night and they were cute and cuddly, like footsies are supposed to be!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

FO: Vivian

How awesome is Vivian? I lurve this sweater, even if it took me forever and a day (for the zipper) to knit.

If you like cables, Vivian is so much fun, especially where the shaping is done with the cables in the front. It's a good thing there's a lot of obvious shaping, because all the poofy cables aren't terribly flattering--this is NOT a slimming garment. The cables are complicated, but everything is charted out really clearly. In the end, the left and right sides turn out perfectly symmetric.

The big cables on the sleeves travel up to be the shoulder yoke, then continue on to the top of the head and are kitchenered together. Cool, eh? I figured out how to kitchener in pattern to do the top of the hood--I just need to write it down before I forget. If I can sort out how to explain it clearly, I'll post a little tutorial soon.

I made a few modifications to the pattern, of course. The original pattern is very pear-shaped, so I started with the smallest size at the bottom, changed to the next size around the waist, and changed to the next size around the bust. It's also too long, so I skipped about 2 inches of the bottom, and about 4 inches of the sleeves. Besides all the awesome cables, the best thing about this pattern is that it is knit in one piece, with set-in sleeves. No finishing!!

There are two tiny errors in the pattern, which is astonishing considering how complicated all the math must have been--one is that the very last row has a set of decreases that would cause an odd number of stitches to be kitchenered. The other is a tiny mistake in the cable chart, where a 2-over-1 cable has the back stitch being knit instead of purled. Overall, this pattern (from Twist Collective) is amazingly clear and easy to follow. The designer Ysolda also moderates the Ravelry KAL for this pattern, which has been very helpful.

The yarn is Alpaca with a Twist Highlander, which is a yummy blend of alpaca and merino, with little tweedy bits. I used about 7.5 balls, which is less than the pattern called for, probably because I left out so much of the torso. The final product is so cuddly and wonderful! This is officially my favorite handknit sweater!