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!
cityscape6
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.
cityscape4
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).
cityscape2

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.
steek-pre


I started off by basting where I would ultimately cut.
steek-baste


I followed Eunny Jang's instructions for the crochet method.
steek-crochet


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.
steek-sewing


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!!!
steek-cutting

(Can't cut and take pictures at the same time, so I must have put the scissors down out of view!)

Voila! Steeking = amazing!
steek-post


#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...