Tuesday, December 21, 2010

FO: Cameo blanket

blanket-panel

There are 15 different stitch patterns, all from various Barbara Walker Treasuries, each making a brief cameo in this blanket. Also, I am starting to get obsessed with cameos (like in rings, necklaces, and the like) and the 3-D nature of stitch patterns are reminiscent, at least to me.

This took just a few yards over 12 balls of Spud and Chloe Sweater in Root Beer. It fuzzed (or fizzed, ha!) minimally, and all in all was a good yarn for knitting up something this big. And it's organic! And it's machine washable! And in the machine, it grew quite a bit, from 46" x 70", to 52" x 78". I machine-dried it for about 15 minutes then blocked it to even out the squares a bit (not too successfully). It dried in a few hours and for a too-short period, I got to enjoy the drapey soft warm goodness! Then I sticky-rollered all the cat hair off and shipped the blanket to California.

The blanket is in stockinette, with a garter stitch border, and ~8"x8" panels of a different stitch pattern, 3 to a row x 5 rows. It was knit all in one piece, and I had to get a whole travel bag out to transport it. I tried to choose all grid or diamond -ish patterns, but in a variety of techniques--knit-purl combos, cables, twist stitches, lace. Also, I snuck in a couple nature-related patterns, for fun. Most of the patterns are attractive on the back side too.  Here they all are, before their big trip to my sis! (As always in the winter, these photos were taken in the basement with the CFL overhead lights, so the colors are wonky. The true color is in the picture above, and in the lace patterns for some reason.)

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Eiffel Tower

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Heraldic

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Basketweave

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Squared Check Pattern--I thought this pattern contained the ONLY error I have ever found in a BWT. Then I realized I was comparing the back side of the fabric with the picture.

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Hearts of Oak--my least fave. Also, why not just call it "Acorns?" The back side is cool, it looks like little conch shells, but the pattern pulled together too much for this blanket, and it looks kinda messy.

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Openwork diamonds--the Ur-lace, if there ever was one.

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Checkerboard Mesh

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Exploded ribbing--so fun, like vintage "onion" glass christmas tree ornaments

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Moss Diamond and Lozenge--I know I will regret confessing this, but this was my fave of the bunch. It didn't pull in at all, the pattern is MC Esher fun, and, once in a while I'll admit, moss stitch has a great texture.

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Candle tree--yay cables and leaves!

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Bramble--I made a mistake that was hard to spot until many rows later, and left it in for good luck. Oops. Love the bumpy fabric though!

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Knit-twist lattice--Runner-up for best cameo.

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Puff Diamond

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Checkered acre--grid AND nature-related! It is a derivative of ploughed acre, which has all the eyelets lined up like the tops of wheat. This one is just checkered, not much acre.

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Seaweed

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cast off haiku

Blanket. In one piece.
Bound off at last, tonight.
Oh my aching wrists.
More to come, after blocking!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Purplefest

Didn't you know it's purplefest? It must be, otherwise how did all the purpliness suddenly appear in my knitting basket? Apparently, I didn't get enough purple-and-gray colorwork with my nightscape cardi, as I am halfway through these Alice in Wonderland mittens in the same color combo.
alice1

Knitty Couture, a LYS in St Louis, is closing (boo). I picked up a little something at the closing sale. Actually, it is a little something huge, one of the ginorm (549 yards) skeins of Alpaca with a Twist Baby Twist, in more purple. When wound, the ball is the size of a 2 or 3 year old's head.
purple-alpaca

If there is anything more dangerous than the free shipping for $50 through knitpicks, it is the 20% off for $75 through webs. Which is how I ended up with even more purple alpaca, this time from Plymouth yarns.
plymouth-babyalpaca

I have my (purple) work cut out for me!

Knitwear and knitstuffs seem to be everywhere this shopping season. Despite my best efforts to reduce mass mailings (through Catalog Choice, do it, it really works!) there is still a stack of catalogs in the recycling pile. At the top, a pic to make every knitter say, "pah, I could do that!"
handwarmer-pic

Wow, $18 for something I can make out of my laceweight yarn scraps! Of course, the hand-made version would have a heatable inner part made of non-toxic, non-plastic, all-good scrap fabric and rice. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? That's right--visions of piles and piles of purple alpaca handwarmers!

Monday, November 29, 2010

And we're off!

30 knitting days from thanksgiving to xmas this year! TG was a staycation for me, filled with lots of knitting and Harry Potter. A visiting friend brought all the books on tape (audiobooks on itunes, whatev), and I have already finished the first book and started the second. I sat in the basement (best light, also has comfy leather couch) knitting, listening to HP, cat sitting adjacent, drinking a glass of wine (I was doing the drinking, not the cat). Here's what I have to show:
blaket1

My sister wants a blanket, and it is about 20% done! She wants something "minimalist" so I am inserting what are hopefully-subtle small panels of happiness--wee lace, sly twisted stitch patterns, subdued knit-purl patterns, and just one out-and-out luscious cable--in an ocean of stockinette with a border of garter stitch. As she is "green" (really, she is greenlagirl) I searched high and low for an organic, machine washable (b/c no blanket is hand-washable) yarn. The only remotely affordable option was Sweater by Spud and Chloe, and so far it is knitting up a quick and squishy-fun way.

The only other holiday knitting consists of a pair of mittens. Oh, and I have 3 more shawls to knit for the 10 shawls in 2010 thing before year's end, so I have a sneaking suspicion one of those will be the same as my contribution to the <$10 hand-made gift exchange with the other knit night ladies. Yikes! Must every year end with a knitting frenzy? Despite the abbreviated knitted gift list this year, the answer is still an overwhelming Yes!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

FO: Night cityscape

Yay! It's finished!

It's a night-time version of Cityscape. I couldn't find the exact buttons I wanted, but I think these work pretty. After a lot of manipulating and blocking, the cityscape portion looks a whole lot better. Still, it does not photograph particularly well and I have to loiter in bright light to appreciate the pattern. Lesson learned!
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The yarn is Dream in Color, the purple part is Smooshy and the gray sparkly part is Starry--both are heavy sock weight except the Starry has little bits of sparkly metal spun in. As with another Dream in Color cardi, the yarn has really bad skein-to-skein color differences, even in the same dye lot. The sleeves and yoke are a lot lighter and stripe-ier than the main torso, grrr. As gauge wasn't possible with this yarn (pattern is written for DK weight yarn), I just went up a size and it seems to have turned out fine. The only mods I made were making the torso and sleeves a bit shorter, and knitting back-and-forth instead of in the round, since this is a (non-steekable) superwash yarn. Oh, and I did more waist shaping, and moved half the shaping stitches to the back, instead of having them on the sides.
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Sorry for the rumpliness, it is hard to take pictures with the self timer.

All in all, this is a super-cute pattern, and I love it! I just wish the colors had been more different so that other people could appreciate the cityscape too...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Jiggling and joggling the fair isle

That's exactly what it sounds like. The night cityscape cardi knitted up very quickly, and I even did all the blasted ribbing for the neckbands and buttohbands without complaining. Sadly, the cardi is not ready yet!
cityscape1

The two colors ended up being much closer to each other than I had anticipated, and since both are slightly variegated, it gets even harder to see the cityscape pattern. But the real reason it looks kinda crummy is that I am not good at fair isle. And since I knit this pattern flat (instead of the round) because of a non-steekable yarn, the purl rows in fair isle are particularly, well, wonky. I wove in the floats while knitting, but I guess I held the "floating" yarn too loosely, so many of the stitches are loose and malformed. Thankfully, there's a knitting trick/cheat for almost everything. In this case, it's manually jiggling and joggling the stitches and pulling the excess yarn to the wrong side. It is messy and tedious, and the wrong side of the fabric looks godawful. (The left half has had the jiggling done, the right half is about to).
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Still, the post-jiggle-and-joggle pattern is just delightful! I can't wait to show you the end result! Does anyone have any good online buttoh store suggestions?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Two things I've never done before

It's always good to expand your horizons and do something you've never done before. For me, one was steeking. Steeking is one of those things so antithetical to knitting--after all the effort spent to avoid any dropped or wonky stitches, to suddenly cut knitted fabric seems so awful and cruel! But for a test knit, I may have put this off forever.
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I started off by basting where I would ultimately cut.
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I followed Eunny Jang's instructions for the crochet method.
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Then I got fraidy-cat and did the sewn method too, for insurance. (Sorry for the awful contrastiness, this whole shebang was done in the basement at night.) I used a peach thread, which I thought was different enough from the cream yarn that I'd be able to take it out if needed, but not dark enough to see it through the fabric. I'd just use a matching yarn, in retrospect.
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Then, the cutting! A lot of knit-bloggers seem to take a swig of something alcoholic beforehand, but I was so afraid I'd mess up I went in sober. I followed along the previously basted yarn, removing it as I went along. Scary!!!
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(Can't cut and take pictures at the same time, so I must have put the scissors down out of view!)

Voila! Steeking = amazing!
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#2 thing I've never done before: grow tomatoes. If you recall, I had supermodel infertile tomato plants. Suddenly, in October, they began to bear fruit, inexplicably. It was a long summer so I held out hope that they'd ripen on the vine, but alas, had to harvest them before a below-freezing night.
greentomatoes

One reddish tomato, 14 others very green! I am suddenly inspired to try out fried green tomatoes...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Knit crush

I've been knitting off and on for most of my life, so after a brief frisson of excitement about a pattern or yarn, I churn through knits with solid fidelity and subdued enthusiasm. So it is rare indeed that I have such an intense and endorphine/dopamine-laced crush on a pattern/idea! It has been so exciting that I've bought the yarn at full price at 2 different stores, had it all wound without even checking gauge, bought the pattern, and cast on before reading the pattern. And then I swatched, didn't get gauge, and thought, heck, I'll just make a different size. Some knitter-knit pairs are just meant to be.
dreamincolor-sock


The object of my affection is Cityscape, by cosmicplutoknits, from the last Twist. Except, it's gonna be a nighttime cityscape, with a sparkly dark grey Dream in Color Starry for the sky, and a dusky violet Dream in color Smooshy for the main body/buildings. I absolutely adore cityscapes and townscapes, and outlines of buildings in general. (This is why I have to limit my Etsy escapades to once a quarter.) Cityscape + yoked sweater + night scene + yummy perfect yarn = mad knit crush. Be still, tachycardic heart!

PS: Also, I would love to crochet this brain hat by Flint Knits, or two of them...when two neurologists marry each other, surely there is some space in the hat drawer for brain hats! Alas, it is a bit too late for this halloween, esp with all the sweater-knitting and all.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

FO: Beanstalk

Gaaaaah, baby knits are so quick and satisfying! Here is Beanstalk--the original pattern is Sprout (by Hanna Breetz), but really there are too many leaves for the plants to be sprouts, and seeing how the baby-mama is an academic aficionado of fairy tales, among other things, this is Beanstalk. It will be sent along with a Jack (or Jill/Jane) and the Beanstalk book, and a non-preg knit for the mother. (One is pregnant for 9 months, and non-pregnant for the vast majority of life.)
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I put a matching green glass doo-hickey to show the scale, then realized people may not know how big a green glass doo-hickey is. But still, you must admit the poofy leaves are poofy indeed.

This knit up very quickly from 2 skeins of Cascade 220 superwash that I got from Looped during the DC trip. There were maybe 10 yards of yarn left. Whew. Next time I will get a 3rd ball of yarn and knit a taller/rectangular blanket by repeating the 2nd chart 5-6 rather than 3 times. This is a touch small, apparently the "perfect" size for strollers and car seats. It depresses me that anything would be made to fit a car seat, and I sincerely hope this blanket is dragged around by a toddler on foot/bike until it disintegrates. Anyhoo, this was about 20" square before blocking...
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It was machine washed, then machine dried for about 15minutes. Superwash is superwonderful. It was a tad damp when I laid it out to block. I have a rug (and tiles underneath, incidentally) that has exactly 1-foot-squared squares. It is most useful for blocking.
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Afterwards, the blanket ended up about 24" squared, and very drapey and soft.
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Climb to the top, little foetus!

Hanna Breetz (evergreenknits) has also designed the best dog toy ever, and a couple of these will accompany Beanstalk in the mail (there are 2 doggies who live with foetus currently).

Friday, October 22, 2010

DC

It's been a week of 2 whirlwind trips--good for plane knitting, but bad for keeping one's head screwed on straight. One trip was super-packed with nothing but work stuff, but the other was to DC and I was able to get out for some sightseeing. Which, of course, means yarn shops and book shops. (The  memorials and the white house and the mall and whatnot, people can do on their own time.)
looped1

Looped is in Dupont Circle, just a couple blocks and one flight of stairs up from the train station. The shop ladies were super nice, even when I called ahead of time and asked them for subway directions from Maryland.
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It's sort of like a floor-through apartment, except filled with yarn, ie two big rooms on either end connected by a wide hallway-type dealio. One side has the lace-to-DK weight, including the wall of silky malabrigo, yum.
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And the other has the worsted-to-bulky weight, plus the swift.
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There's a great selection of buttohs, needle holders, needles, and other notions in the in-between part. The shop was fairly buzzing with lots of customers wearing quite a few handknits--a good time for all I think! I got just 2 balls of yarn for a baby blanket, otherwise I wouldn't have been able to fit all I wanted into my carry-on.

Nearby, there's a bookshop (Kramerbooks) that also serves wine/beer and food! Delicious wonderful veggie foods like root vegetable terrines and mac & cheese! This is officially the best idea, ever, until someone combines it with a yarn shop with big comfy couches. Obviously there would have to be a "you spill it, you buy&dye it" policy, but still, how great would a combo yarn/wine tasting be?
bookstore


I read a fun little book (The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie) at the bar and talked to people who claimed to be foreign service students but I am quite sure were spies. All in all, quite enjoyable, and definitely worth another visit!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Group FO: blanket

cableblanket2

If you're a regular in a knitting group, and you decide to get married, you can expect a knitted present from the other knitting group ladies. Like a lap blanket! We used all our subterfuge skills to keep this secret, made easier by the fact that the bride-to-be just started working crazy hours for (medical) residency. We planned a cabled blanket in panels, with each person choosing whatever stitch pattern she wanted.

Silvana's choice was a heart cable pattern, with plain cables on either side. (Sorry, I realized too late that all the pictures were upside-down!)

cableblanket-hearts


Emily chose a sculptural braid cable--very chic. She was also the only one of us who ended up with  the correct width panel.
cableblanket-braid


Kateri actually did two strips of "arch" lace, in homage to St Louis (Again, sorry, upside-down). This was a great idea, because then the blanket could be laid out symmetrically with the lace panels dividing the cable panels.
cableblanket-arch


My panel was in a "loose double knot" cable pattern--in reference to "tying the knot," hee. On the sides are some open cables that look like DNA.
cableblanket-knot


Tina (Knitting Contessa) took one for the team and did all of the seaming!! The different gauges and cable patterns meant that they all pulled in vertically and horizonally to different degrees, so while each of us swore we knitted to 48", the panels ended up being different lengths. Oops.

cableblanket-WIP


After frogging down the necessary bits, I crocheted around the edges first in single crochet, then double crochet, then double crochet every other stitch, then single crochet, then I got impatient and stopped.
cableblanket-edge


After a bath in the washing machine (this was in Berroco Comfort, so it is machine washable) and blocking, it turned out to be more of a square than a rectangle, about 3.5x3.5 feet. It is very cuddly and soft, and more importantly, knitted with lot of love and well-wishes!
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