Wednesday, March 31, 2010

FO: ballband too-nice-to-be-a-washcloth

Oh yeah, that's right, 3 FO posts in a row! Booyakasha!

No one, absolutely no one, except the 4 zillion people who have knitted it before, have seen a ballband wash/dishcloth before. I'm not a dishcloth cotton yarn buyer in general, but there were some leftovers from secret project #1 that had to be knitted up. So I thought I'd try out this "ballband" thing that all the young kids/rap songs are talking about. I even went super old school and used single pointed needles.

Now I know why people knit dishcloths. They're basically big swatches that take like an hour to make. Also, if you make it in wool, you can call it a potholder. Or, if you make it in wool and accidentally put it in the dryer, you can pretend it's a coaster. Or, you can quit halfway, staple on some elastic, and say it's a headband. Or, you can quit halfway, sew the ends together, and saw it's a wristband. Anyway, the ballband washcloth, popularized by Mason-Dixon Knitting, is just a cute Pong-like iteration of a nice lil scrubby cloth. I made a washcloth to match secret project #1, and it is so nice and orderly that I can't believe anyone scrubs dirty dishes with these things. DH thinks it's too nice to scrub human bodies too, but I hope that the knitter gets some scrubbing rights!

I used Plymouth Yarn Fantasy Naturale Solid, which is the only dishcloth-y yarn at my LYS. I figure it's a bit thicker than sugar-n-cream or similar, because this cloth turned out HUGE, 10" square. I cast on the prescribed 45 stitches and knit 6 repeats, crocheted the edges, and then made a crocheted loop. Perhaps it really is too nice, and too big, and I may decide that it is actually a cat blanket for sweet cammy.

Monday, March 29, 2010

FO: Mr. Eko Flower shawl


Love, love, love this (delightfully free) pattern, by Jenny Johnson Johnen. The real name is Echoflower (pdf link to pattern) but given my full-on-LOST-fever mode, the nickname stays. The yarn is malabrigo lace in Tuareg, a vibrant azure blue. The FO pictures show the color a bit duller and darker than in real life. The color is truer in this WIP pic.

This is the 3rd shawl now (2nd with malabrigo) that has turned out smaller than expected, even after using the specified needle size--it happened with Citron and Aphrodite too. I've always been secretly pleased that my gauge is generally in line with ballbands and patterns, but now I'm starting to doubt myself. Oh lordy, I hope I'm not becoming one of those knitters with "gauge issues!" Anyway, this is the "shawlette" size, and should have beeen 24" by 48", but ended up more like 20" by 41". Considering I have 25% of the skein leftover, I wish I had done one more repeat. Here is it pre-block, when it was even tinier.

Otherwise, I made no modifications except doing the centered double decreases in my way. The main part of the shawl is the same lace pattern as the very popular Laminaria, which always reminds me of little aliens. The best part of this pattern is the edging (actually edgings--there are 2 charts), which blends in with the main part so logically and elegantly it's a delight to knit those last few (usually long and dreary) rows.

The nupps are nine-stitch-nupps (btw, what a good name for a band!). The nupps were a bit tricky, and I cheated on the nupp-ifying wrong-side rows by slipping purlwise the first 6 wraps of the nupp, purling the last 3 wraps together, then pulling over the 6 slipped wraps one by one over the new stitch, and tugging snuggly at the end. Tedious, but tidy.

All in all, a most satisfying little knit, perfect for the impending spring, as you can see by the almost-blooms on the crabapple tree!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

FO: Baby bunting

Too cute, yes? As usual with baby knits, a large book is the most baby-like thing in my house, so an old edition of Merritt's Neurology is our model today. He has a strong spine and squared shoulders, and fills out the cardigan quite nicely.

The pattern is Baby Bunting (free on Ravelry) by Linden Heflin, and is a very easy top-down raglan cardigan in stockinette. The blue yarn is Knitpicks Cotlin, a combo of linen and cotton, and the beige yarn is Knitpicks simply cotton organic sport, an organic cotton. Both are leftovers from Buttercup and Akimbo, and are machine washable, and I got to use up the rest of the buttons that I got in a swap way back. So all in all this project was free and cleared out the stash, yay!

The pockets are the best part! I toyed with making small knitted things to put in the pockets, but they were all too big to fit. So some frogs decided to live there instead. Bonus points if you can find the third frog!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Nupps in New Orleans

Now begins a spring full of travel, mainly for work. This weekend was a very quick trip to New Orleans, quick enough that I'm already back and unpacked. This was my fourth visit there, yet only the first since Katrina, so there was a lot of catching up to do, primarily via the cabbie from the airport. In no specific order, the things I learned during that cab ride:

1) everyone from Missouri has animals

2) GWB was a shitty president who didn't do a damn thing for New Orleans after Katrina, and all the folks who left didn't come back, and every other building, even in the French Quarter, is for sale or rent

3) The Roosevelt Hotel finished re-habbing and now it's "cleaned up" and "really nice" on the outside and inside.

4) It's some sort of big basketball thing and there are lots of crazy fans. Also it is spring break, so there were lots of "young kids" partying it up.

I took a picture in the middle of the afternoon of hordes of drunk teenagers, but all it shows are a bunch of heads and sweaty backs, so never mind.

5) My cell phone company doesn't have many towers in New Orleans. (This cabbie is apparently quite an expert on different cell phone companies)

I ended up having only an hour outside the hotel. Except for a few rare buildings (like the one below), most buildings look pretty beaten-up, if not shuttered altogether.


Alas, there was no time for yarn or book shopping, but the Mr Eko Flower shawl grew. The main part of the shawl is done, and now I'm on the edging. The main part has just the kind of "open" nupps where a couple stitches turns into many stitches all at once, whereas on the edging, there are real nupps, where the many stitches turn back into one stitch all at once on the next row. Nupps are tricky little things!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

FO-blocked

When did I start hankering to sew on buttons? When this baby cardi decided to be super-cute and then just never dry after blocking, that's when. Even DH spontaneously described it as cute and asked when it was going to be done and posted here. Oh damn the linen-and-cotton blend! It's good not having to figure out how big a baby is going to be when the weather is appropriate for wool, but it's not so good waiting for cotton/linen to dry.

How adorable are the little pockets!?! They aren't big enough to hold much, but I'm thinking of making a wee knitted toy to put in them. Any good ideas for something that will fit in a 2x2" pocket?

Since I had so much work to do this weekend, it seemed like an appropriate time to cast on and get completely caught up in knitting a new shawl.

This is the beginning of Echo Flower (by Jenny Johnson) which I am calling Mr Eko Flower, because I'm freakishly obsessed with LOST. No matter that it makes no sense at all to name a shawl after a dead character who never wore a shawl.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Baby WIP and cooking

Sorry no non-secret FO's to see, just a little sweater in progress for DH's colleague's baby in utero.

I'm using the Baby Bunting pattern, by Linden Heflin, which does not look like a bunting (or does bunting not take an "a," like water? anyhoo....), but is just a regular cardigan--except super special because of  pockets!!! Thankfully I had some blue and tan yarns left over from Akimbo and Buttercup, respectively, so there's just enough yarn for a machine-washable thing with pockets, without a need for yet another yarn shopping trip. Plus I get to clear out the stash! Except for the pile of orange Zitron Savannah yarn which is to be knit up into another Akimbo, I don't have any full balls of yarn left. Woohoo!

Ok, ok, that's a total lie. Those would have been the last full balls of yarn, but then I was returning so much yarn to the yarn store one day, that I felt guilty and got some malabrigo laceweight.

I figured that since I have tentative plans to visit the Azores soon, I'd better have a matchy shawl similar to the ocean color there. And in a weird twisted knitterly way, I seriously debated internally for a good 10 minutes whether I'd want to have the matchy shawl to wear there, or whether I'd want to knit it there. In the end, I decided to knit it now, as my next project for the 10 shawls in 2010 thing on Ravelry. More on that when there's more to show!

Otherwise, it's a continually hectic circus around here. I haven't even watched the last episode of LOST yet, and it's been 6 whole days! Despite the flurry, the oh-so-closeness of spring has lifted my glum and downtrodden soul, and I was a bit more productive in the kitchen at least:

A loaf of no-knead bread that everyone and their mother have made already but I never got around to doing before. Yum! I used all whole wheat flour, which was a mistake because the bread is somewhat brick-like, but tasty all the same.

I baked a cake from scratch too--chocolate with mocha icing, and then covered with coconut after the crumb layer due to an icing fail (ok, DH ate by accident)--but didn't have a chance to take a photo. And if you don't know what a crumb layer is in cake icing, then you don't understand the pain.

And then I got glass storage containers, cleared out all the plastic ones with the leach-y chemicals, then fully re-organized the kitchen cabinets. Then I made food and filled up all the storage containers. It is so freaky-satisfying to have perfect little pre-measured and pre-molded boluses of rice (1 c each) and such. If only the rest of life were so easy!