Thursday, December 30, 2010

Away on the sleigh

A couple of recent Finished Objects have been carried away on the sleigh and delivered and now can be revealed to a waiting world!
Two knitted necklaces, pattern lost, so recreated from memory of the general idea, which was: cast on a whole bunch of stitches, join in circle, knit stocking stitch for 6 rounds, cast off all but, say, 20 stitches, knit across 'em, cast on another buncha stitches (but fewer than before), st st for 6 rounds, cast off the whole business, and voila! through the magic of the Stocking Stitch Curl, you have a 2-strand knitted necklace with strands joined at the back!

The black one was made with Katia Gatsby yarn, a fingering weight synthetic chain with a little strand of gold.  Beads were added to the smaller strand by threading them on a linen thread that was knitted in with a bead every 6 stitches, advanced 1 st every round to get the spiral effect.  Had to use the thread because the dang beads didn't fit on the yarn!

The beads did fit on the Dream In Color Starry in Visual Purple.  The yarn is really magic-looking--merino sock yarn with a tiny real silver fiber running through that glints like, yes, stars in a purple sky without being blingingly overwhelming.  Beads knitted in here at random, with more on the inner strand than the outer.

You may have to click on the photo to embiggen it and see the matching earrings hooked into the top. After I got the necklaces knitted and tried them on, I could see that they needed matching earrings to look cooler than "some dumb loops of knitting that a knitter made for me."  I cast on 8 stitches, knit a bead in between each stitch, cast off, and used the tails to tie them up in loops.  Tiny dot of glue on the knot, clip the tails, and put them on wires.

One of the recipients missed the earrings entirely until I spoke to her on the phone.  "Oh, wonderful!  I wondered why it was so scratchy on the back of my neck!"

This whole multi-loops thing could be developed in a lot of interesting ways.  I can imagine a lot of same-size loops as a cowl/scarf.  What could you do with/without different colors, different yarns, charms, doughnut beads, feathers, big gauge, felting.......

Update: I found the pattern!  And it's a free download from Ravelry! It's Kirsten Johnstone's sev[en] circle.  

Friday, December 24, 2010


I know, I know.  Long time no post.  What I've been working on has either been not very interesting or secret stuff on contract for Santa Claus.  There will be more to see later, but meanwhile, here's some yarn to look at.

This was going to be for the Claus contract, but the original sock didn't work out so well and Idea 2.0 was in a different gauge that would need to be doubled yarn, necessitating the ordering of another skein and further delay.  Meanwhile, the resemblance of the yarn color to Cheetos struck me, and I had to make a direct comparison.  Unfortunately, weird winter light does tricks even when you go outside in mid-day to try to catch the best that's on offer. The yarn really does match the snacks.  If it's not the winter light bleaching the yarn, then blame the strange day-glo additives coating the Cheetos.

The yarn is Blue Moon midweight Socks That Rock in  Sunstone.  The web site has a better approximation of the color, though no snacks for comparison.

Didja get the title?  It was going to be a sock, but now will be something else.  Cheat-toes? 

Friday, November 26, 2010

I Won! I Won!

Ok, it wasn't the mega-million dollar lottery, but it is pretty cool.  It was a contest on She Shoots Sheep Shots  for a subscription to Knit Circus, an online magazine.  KC has a unique scheme for revenue--the magazine is free to look at.  In order to get the patterns they show, you can either purchase them singly or subscribe and get all of them as a download.  I'm not sure how long my subscription will run, but I got the Winter Issue full pattern download.

The embarrassing thing is that I was notified of my win via a comment on my previous blog post.  Unaccustomed as I am (ahem, I'm talking to you, dear reader/lurker) to receiving comments on my literary effusions, it was many days before I noticed and responded. 

And maybe this is the place to also talk about what I found in the blog stats that Google keeps for me.  I have had hits from Russia, Australia, Denmark, Italy, India, and Hong Kong.  People were searching for the Jali cardigan, the Ptarmigan cowl, and vegan cookies mainly.  No, it's not a major international audience, but it still is kind of a buzz that the power of Google can bring the world to my dusty little old blog.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Finished with Some Objects

Various Finished Objects for show & and tell.  There's the graphic stripe scarf...

And a Baby Surprise jacket and booties for the new granddaughter of a colleague. The yarn is Socks That Rock medium weight in My Wild Irish Girlie, a skein from this year's Rockin Sock Club.

[Aside: I wonder how many warped people like me there are who love sock yarn but aren't keen on wearing handknitted socks.  How crazy is it to belong to a sock club and then knit anything but socks??]

The Surprise Jacket is always a minor miracle.  You knit this very strangely shaped rectanguloid object--
And then sew up two seams and it magically turns into a little jacket.  Awwww.  With little pink heart buttons.  And enough yarn and buttons left over for a darling little pair of booties:

I also managed to resurrect another item from the Heap of Malfunctioning Rubble, the Willow Tunic from Jamieson's Shetland Knitting Book 2.  It had been knitted and just needed sewing up and the neckband added.  Putting it together showed me why I let it slide in the first place--the neck is enormous.  Not so terrible, I guess, because, being made of Shetland yarn, it would be too scratchy to wear against the skin anyway.

Now it's onward and upward with the Christmas knitting!  And the Grandboy needs more mittens.  And his dinosaur sweater.  And a couple more intriguing projects are whispering in the wings...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

How Long Can It Go On?

I'm still knitting on the graphic stripe scarf.  Now got over 5 ft of it and there's still plenty of yarn left!  How much longer can it be?  Probably another 2 ft, but I think I'll stop at 6 ft.  That should be long enough to do that double-and-through-the-loop style that's so cool.  At least on other people.

But don't worry about my getting bored with doing the same thing for miles. This is my portable project, good for keeping me out of mischief while keeping the Grandboy out of mischief.  I can say without fear of contradiction that I have the pattern memorized by now, and it's easy to stop and start, say, when somebody climbs on top of the coffee table.

There's another project on the go that demands my full attention when I'm working on it, the Stefan's Dinosaurs cardigan for the aforementioned Grandboy.  It's a whole lot more complicated than I realized when I bought the yarn and plunged in.  (Duh! you quip sagely.  It won a competition.  It wouldn't be just a colorful little old intarsia.  It would have texture.)  And, boy, does it ever have texture!

It has texture moves I've never seen before, like slipped-stitch 2-color bunches of grass and subtle leaf patterns in the green areas, and rough, bumpy dinosaur skin.  Yikes!  You don't know the players without a program:
Now you understand why I have a separate portable project, right?  The body is done in one piece with a chart that I have stitched together from pieces of blown-up pdf files.  Not only have I learned new texture patterns, I've had to learn new computer tricks. This puppy has to stay on a table or desk with the place marker undisturbed!

I've changed the color scheme from the original.  For one thing, the background colors were shades of teal.  Teal!  I ask you--what self-respecting dinosaur would be caught roaming a teal-colored landscape??  Once the teal turned a more pleasing green, dinosaur colors had to shift. Here are the sleeves with some of the other colors:

I like my color scheme a lot better than the original.  Deep primary colors seem more attuned to the preschool aesthetic anyway, don't you think?  I mean, this sweater is for a guy who takes such a fancy to red one day that he colors the whole picture in the coloring book with it.  Staying inside the lines beautifully, but the ground is red; the sky is red; red figures in red vehicles doing red things with obvious enjoyment.  You don't dress a guy like that in teal.

Monday, September 20, 2010


I've finally finished the single-piece body of the Jali Cardigan and blocked it out:
It's not quite right, but I don't expect to be stopped by the Knitting Police and ordered to throw it away.  Now comes some sewing up and a great deal of stockinette knitting to put the collar/front piece on.  That part is major and will take, I'm guessing, the lion's share of the cone of yarn that remains.  Sort of boring, maybe, but it means I can watch subtitled foreign movies on my computer as I while away the rows (an activity which was absolutely impossible while I was counting lace stitches and cabling knots.)  I love the feel of it--it's going to be a fun light layer over a bright shirt this winter.

Meanwhile, having finally found the second yarn I wanted for the Strips of Stripes, I couldn't help starting the scarf [Ravelry link].  In San Francisco I acquired a mostly-black skein of Madelinetosh Tosh Sock in #5 graphite.  Nowhere could I find its opposite, white with a little gray, until Knit Purl in Portland, when a skein of Kathee Nelson Art Yarn Little Lambie in the "tweed" colorway lept into my hands.  Huzzah!  I cast on almost as soon as I got home.
It's very much like the original in the pattern photo (sorry about the Ravelry link above, but it's the only one I can find).  The stitch pattern is a combination of garter and slipped stitches that make a cool graphic look in black and white, but I think this is one I will knit again, probably with bright contrasting painted yarns.  I'm undecided about whether I will keep it or give it as a gift.  Do I know anyone in a cold climate who would appreciate it?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Newly Hatched Ptarmigan

It's a knitted ptarmigan, of course, the Ptarmigan cowl/neckwarmer design by Jared Flood.  Once I saw the design, I knew I had to make it at least once, and when I found this yarn: I knew I had found the perfect summer ptarmigan feathers:
 It's Madelinetosh sock yarn in a colorway called Parchment.

Here it is knitted up:

And being blocked (How did I have such a perfect blocking board, you ask?  By cutting a piece of cardboard to the dimensions specified for the finished product in the pattern, covering it in plastic, and severely stretching and pinning, that's how.):
And here's the final product, modeled by an actual Ptarmigan:

I can verify that it is a very warm little accessory, and will be very useful when the cold winter winds blow.  Now I have to make a winter Ptarmigan, and I have a skein of cream colored alpaca in the stash somewhere...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Up From the Heap and Down to the Frog Pond

Ever since I got back from vacation I have been on a knitting treadmill with the Jali Cardigan [ravelry link] pattern.  I am vastly enamored of the combination of lace and cabling, the concept of a layer showing through the lace, and the silk-bamboo yarn I found to make it with.  I'm not sure whether my obsession is a good thing or a bad thing, though, because just after I took this picture:
it was time to divide for armholes and I discovered the pattern had sneaked around and was off as much as 8 stitches in some areas.  Crap!  There is just no way to fake or finagle that big a miss.  So merrily I frogged away clear down to the middle of the first repeat.  FOR THE 6TH TIME.  Mind you, I didn't get so far the first 5 times, but still...

This has certainly taught me something about my approach to lace knitting, which is that I don't do well just reading off the chart.  I need to learn the rhythm and proportion of the pattern so that I can work without the chart much of the time, knowing what to expect and where stitches are likely to get lost or created.  Apparently, at least in this case, I am a very slow learner.  Add to my trouble the fact that I'm working with black, which hides problems in all but the best light.  This will certainly be in my favor with little glitches, but I've got to do better than my previous tries.  What keeps me going is the two (plain stockinette) sleeves already made, the forgiving strength of the yarn, and the fact that despite it all, dammit, I still am fascinated with the pattern.

But I took a little break to complete an item from the Heap of Malfunctioning Rubble and regain a little of my self-respect and sense of accomplishment.  Aided by the discovery of the tiny ball of yarn I needed to finish sewing up my Dancing Vines sweater made, I dimly recall, out of Elann's denim yarn in a currently-not-available light blue.

Also visible in the picture is the poisonous jolly fairy ring of fly agaric mushrooms that have sprung up around one of our birch trees, just one of the features of the mushroom farm our yard has become as a result of the rainy rainy summer.  I guess the rain is a good reason excuse to stay inside and try (again) to knit the Jali cardigan.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ptropical Ptarmigan

I'm back from a wonderful time in Tahiti! I think I will blog up the trip and its pictures separately for family and friends, but meanwhile, here are a couple of knittish bits that only you will appreciate.

First thing:
Doesn't this underwater sponge thingy look a whole lot like a pile of unblocked lace knitting?  Well, I thought so, anyway.  Maybe I should have taken video of it, because it was soft and waved around in the water.

Second thing:
During the partial phases of the eclipse you can create an amazing pinhole camera effect that shows the crescent shape of the partially obscured sun by casting the shadow of anything with small holes on a white surface.  Now, let's see--what do I have with small holes??  A knitted lace shawl!!  Tougher to photograph than I thought for various technical reasons and spousal reasons (there is a limited amount of time that a willing spouse will stand on the crowded deck of a ship holding a lace shawl up in front of a wall).  But in the lower right part of the picture you can see that the smaller holes definitely show up as crescents!
The real deal was done by a guy with much prior experience who makes elaborate arrangements of holes drilled in thin sheets of wood in advance of the event:

See all those bazillions of tiny crescents? (Click on the photo to embiggen & truly appreciate.)  Maybe next time I will knit a specially themed lace pattern to do the same thing? Probably not.

But none of this is very colorful, is it?  And bright color in the bright sunshine is the hallmark of the tropics, n'est ce pas?  So here's a colorful Tahitian fiberwork for you, a tifaifai, the beautiful applique Tahitian quilt:

Monday, June 28, 2010

Shawl's Done!

She's done and blocked, and is as lovely as I had hoped.

It's soft and slithery, blocked out to a respectable 60" x 20",  and drapes wonderfully.  Just what I wanted.  What I learned: could have used a larger needle for a more enveloping shawl.  The pattern could open out even more and still be OK.

Handmaiden seasilk is such a wonderful yarn.  The color variation is so subtle it scarcely shows up in the photo.  And I had heard that it smelled of the sea, but had not myself found that it smelled of anything in particular either in the hank or warmed by my hands as it was knit.  But get it wet and WOW!  A beautiful, fresh ocean smell from the kelp fiber, unmistakable. The perfect accessory for a tropical cruise.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What This Town Needs Is A Vegan Bakery

A brief detour, today, from the knitting to another household craft.  Background: my grandson has food allergies that include eggs and milk.  This makes him, in effect, a meat-eating vegan.  This also makes the bakery a very dangerous place for him.  Enter my heroines, the authors of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.  I've lately become so enamored of the cookies that I've wished somebody would start up a vegan bakery in Anchorage. (I can't do it myself. I just don't have time, energy, or desire for yet another career. Sorry.)

But on to the cookies!  The recipes are so good I probably will make my way through them all eventually.  Right now we're deep into the chocolate ones because the Grandboy adores chocolate, and he adores it so much that he picks chocolate chip cookies apart and only eats the chips.  You can imagine how long that takes and how messy it is, right?  Better to make them chocolate all the way through.

But pass the cookies, please, let's have a taste! 

These are Oreo knockoffs.  Cookie nerds would remind you that Oreos are already vegan, but when you make your own at home--WOWEEE!  And you can play around with the filling and make your own variations. I've tried cherry, mint, and peanut butter so far and all work out great.  Making your own also gives you an insight into what fat bombs these guys are.  An incredible amount of shortening and margarine involved here.  All the better for the Grandboy, however, whose doctor has advised calorie-dense foods.

And here are the cute chocolate pretzels and the Mexican snickerdoodles.

The pretzels are sweet; the "salt" is pearl sugar, although any big-grain sugar would do.  The snickerdoodles are cinnamon chocolate.  For adults you could include the little pinch of cayenne--for the kiddo it seemed better to leave it out.  I don't think preschoolers expect their cookies to bite back!

Ooops. I almost forgot. This is a knitting blog, isn't it?  Let's look at some knitting, then:
Up close and personal with the seasilk shawl.  I've got quite a bit more done, see?
Now it's a race against time because I have a serious chance of getting it done for my trip on the 3rd of July.  Done and blocked, that is.  And by the look of it, it's going to have to be, as they say, severely blocked if it's going to be as wide a shawl as its pattern.  That's it.  I've got to get off this computer and KNIT!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Swimming in the Seasilk

Note to Winter Sunset Cardigan: It's not my fault that the weather turned warm and the thought of a giant lapful of wool is so much less inviting than a hanky of lightweight slippery seasilk in cool marine colors.  You'll just have to wait in your basket for a while.

Here's what I've got so far:

That's a lifeline a couple of repeats down, and the waviness is a demonstration of why it's such a good idea even though it's a hassle to put it in.  No prizes for guessing why it's there or how many times I ripped and redid the first couple of repeats before I caved in to necessity.  If you think it's a hassle to pause and thread the lifeline in, you haven't had to rip 10 rows back and try to pick up live lace stitches.  Part of all this trouble is that the center lace pattern is deceptively complex.  I still haven't been able to memorize it like I have the edges, and have accepted the fact that I probably will have to carry around a little 5"x3" lace chart for the duration.  The great thing about knitting a stole shape is that once you get established, you just repeat and repeat until you run out of yarn. No shaping, no change. And the center being as tricky as it is, one has to be on one's toes all the time, so it's not likely to get boring any time soon despite the repetition.  The hawkeyes among you will discern that there is a mistake in the middle (below the lifeline), but I have judged it too minor to be noticed when the shawl is worn.  As my Scottish friend Molly used to say, "A blind man'd be glad t' see't."

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Light Bout of Startitis

I've been ruminating on what to do for a posh tropical wrap for the upcoming trip to Tahiti. A seacell/silk shawl or stole seemed right, and white was the first choice, but it was next to impossible to find white seasilk.  When I got some from a place that supplies it for dyeing I found out why.  It's natural color is a kind of yellowy brown-tan.  It's the color of white things that have aged from too much sun exposure (paper, cloth).  It might be an ironic match for yours truly by the end of the voyage, but I don't think we'll go there.  I quickly understood why it is mainly available in beautiful handpainted colors.  (I should get myself hand-painted?  I think it's called tattooing, and it's a specialty of the South Seas, but I don't think I'll go there, either!!)

Then I had a thing for fancy sea island cotton, which only comes in white, but the yarn was extremely thin and would have to be doubled, which would double the expense, and I just wasn't in love with it somehow.
 The skeins of seasilk actually look creamier in the photo than in real life.  Think dirty cream.  The cotton is laid on top of the seasilk for size contrast.  It seems more of a thick thread than a yarn.

And then I was evaluating the micro area of my closet devoted to dress up clothing suitable for the tropics and realized that aqua would be a cool color that would go with everything.  Eureka!  A new quest began and ended with a kit that contains a pattern and this:

Handmaiden seasilk in Blue Lagoon.  I just had to wind the balls and cast on.  I love how the pattern is lace, but with cables on the borders.  And I think the stole shape will be more versatile (a mega-scarf?) than the traditional triangle-y traditional shawl shape.  I don't even care if I don't get the thing done before we go in July.  What with the small amount of yarn and its light, slippery feel, it would make a good take-along project for the trip.

Meanwhile, the neck and front edges are on the Winter Sunset.  Ends are being woven in; facings tacked down, and then, I think, the ends of the sleeves will need to be whacked off and the cuffs re-knitted to make a more reasonable length.  Great thing about having cut your sweater up the middle from stem to stern--you're much less shy about taking the scissors to it again!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Book Review: Sweater Quest by Adrienne Martini

It's no surprise that this book appealed to me.  It's about a woman who decides to challenge herself by knitting a major fair isle sweater.  At this point non-knitters are already starting to doze off while knitters' ears perk up.  It's definitely a book for The Craft and not the muggles; it's about knitting, the knitting world, and issues important thereto.  That's OK--there are millions of us worldwide and the internet (dare I say?) knits us into a community however far we are flung.

 The danger in the subtitle comes from Martini's choice to make an Alice Starmore sweater, Mary Tudor, the cover girl on the book Tudor Roses.  Starmore is famous both for being a design genius, especially with fair isle colorwork, and for being very adamant about control of her work and name, to the extent of lawsuits against yarn manufacturers and web sites.  Anyone can probably do what they want in private with any published pattern, but does publishing this book invite the wrath of the designer?

The chapters follow Martini through the process of acquiring the book containing the pattern, the difficulty of finding the right yarns, the misery of multiple failures at merely counting cast on stitches correctly, the emerging beauty of the pattern's color changes, the satisfying rhythm of the later pattern repeats.  Along the way, she makes entertaining and relevant digressions into the histories of Shetland and Fair Isle knitting, Mary Tudor and her clan, Starmore's clashes with yarn makers and web discussion leaders, eBay sellers and yarn shops.  She travels to Nashville and New York to interview Ann Shayne and Kay Gardiner of Mason-Dixon Knitting, to Toronto to see Amy Singer of and  Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, the Yarn Harlot.

  The main question she toted along through the book like a big rock in her knitting bag was, "Does making a small change in a Starmore design (say, substituting a yarn for which the original no longer exists) still make it an Alice Starmore sweater?"  Ordinarily this is not something that preoccupies your average knitter, but Starmore has gone to extreme lengths to protect her "brand" and ownership of her creative property, and many of the pattern books are out of print. [an aside: This book may have increased the scarcity.  At this writing Tudor Roses is not available for any price on eBay or Alibris.] The original yarns have not been available for years.

The wisest answer was given by the good ol' Harlot:
I saw an Alice Starmore online, one of her cable ones, knit out of--just hold on to something to steady yourself--Red Heart acrylic yarn in the Fiesta colorway.  It was rainbow variegated.  It was blinding.  I bet when Alice Starmore saw that, it was so far from her vision that she was like, "please do not call this an Alice Starmore.  That is clearly your interpretation."  But she wrote the pattern.  They are all her cables.  And that person could say that they had not departed at all...
Sometimes I have bad, dirty feelings if I use, like, a pattern distributed by Berroco and not Berroco yarn...I probably only feel that way because I've seen a couple of my patterns knit in ways that I had never imagined and thought, "This is not my vision."
At that point I remember what my mother used to say to me, which is that one of the central tenets of a happy person is that when they give something away, they cease to care what happens to it.  I struggle with that.
Publishing is not giving away, and certainly no one should profit by stealing another person's idea or creation.  But publishing is turning your creation loose in the world and people will make of it what they will according to their own ideas and capabilities.  No matter how tight your grasp, you cannot maintain total control.  Hanne Falkenberg, the Danish knit designer has always kept control of her work by selling it only in kit form.  Alice and Jade Starmore now do the same by selling kits for many of the old designs plus some new ones on their web site Virtual Yarns.  (and I am developing a serious lust for Oregon, Beadwork, and Dunadd.)

This is a rather specialized book, and probably your knitting group rather than your book group would want to read it.  But to me it was as addictive as a detective story--I carried it around with me everywhere on the off chance I would have a few minutes to read a little bit more.  Adrienne Martini got up inside my head, added some great information furniture, rearranged some of what was already there, and stirred some cobwebs.  I now may refer to my Winter Sunset cardigan as my Winter Sunset inspired cardigan.

And you may take this blog, print it out and decoupage it to your toilet seat.  Feel Free.  But if I see you're selling Ptarmigan Ptoilets on Etsy you will hear from my lawyer.

Monday, May 3, 2010

She Took Her Vorpal Scissors In Hand...

It was a wonderful weekend at the knitting retreat.  We all agreed that what happens at the cabin stays at the cabin, so suffice it to say that knitting was knitted,  we supped on delicious food and fine wine, set the world to rights, and laughed our bleeps off.  Personnel present for Sunday morning wool worship:
There's Heather and Anne,  with Judy and Lupe below:
And not forgetting Teo the Wonder Dog, Scourge of the Squirrels:
A momentous event took place at the retreat, namely the Cutting of the Winter Sunset Front Steek.  Thus is made a cardigan from a knitted-in-the-round sweater with no seams:

From the bottom all the way to the top:

And voila it becomes a don-able cardigan:

The astute knitters among you and wardrobe mavens in general will notice that in spite of all the measuring, planning, counting, and miscellaneous premeditation, the sleeves are a trifle long.  Sigh.  It looks like they need to get knocked back 1 motif.  I'm going to park that problem on the back lot while I put on neck and front opening edges and decide on what, if any closures will be used.  All of those will affect fit and drape.  Then when there is a final fit I can tell for sure what I will do about the sleeves.

That's one of the magical mystery things about knitting.  You don't know exactly what kind of garment it's going to be until you cast off.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ready for the Big Snip

Here it is--both sleeves done (they're not short, by the way, they're just folded up).  Ready for the Grand Opening, cutting the center front steek to start the edging.  I was going to save the thrill for the knitting retreat this weekend, but I have to cut the main steek in order to reach the neck shaping steeks with the sewing machine to stabilize them, so the deed will be done tomorrow and I'll be working the edging on the weekend.  Still, it's cool to stand back and look at the whole sweater and how all those motifs line up.  I admit it.  I'm pretty pleased with myself.

But before I go,  I  have to do a little dance in celebration of the (at long last) coming of spring.  The picture on the left is of some incredible ice crystals in a puddle on the driveway.  Three days later and a few yards away there was this--little green things rising out of the just-thawed earth:

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Saved by Cordova

So I'm cruising along, very pleased with myself for how well the shaping of Sleeve #2 is matching #1, one more pattern repeat to go and then--uh oh.  The last ball of eesit is getting very very lean.  It will finish out the sleeve, but there's still the center and neck edging to go.  No way will it be enough. Rats.  I look up the web site where I got the Shetland yarn.  They don't have the eesit color any more.  Double rats.  I go to to look for other suppliers.  None in Washington, Oregon, or the California places I checked.  None with eesit, that is.  I googled the yarn and came up with a place in Ottawa, Canada that had it, but that seemed like a lot of trouble and shipping delay just for a crummy ball of yarn.  Triple rats.

Back to Simply Shetland.  I'll start with the Alaska stockists and work my way outward.  In Alaska the first choice is Inua Wool in Fairbanks.  They've got a new store location (remember when it used to be in the owner's house out in the woods?), but no eesit.  Next stop, the Net Loft in Cordova.  Gloryowski, they've got it!  They always have the natural shades, the lady said.  And, being Alaskans, they understand needing to have stuff sent to you, so they promised to pop my two balls (I know it's a bit late, but why not have some insurance anyway) in an envelope which will not only take a buck or two for first class postage and the whole deal will be on its way to me tomorrow.

So Thank You Net Loft, thank you Cordova, and if any of you Dear Readers are ever in  bind for some Shetland yarn, look no further than beautiful Cordova.  In fact, check out the shop in their blog.  Cool, isn't it?  Next time you're in Cordova, make time for a 1-shop yarn crawl!

P.S. In case you're wondering why I'm not fussed about dye lot numbers, I don't think it will show if I start the new yarn on the edging section.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Felt Like a Change

As I said before, sleeves can seem eternal, and sometimes a person just needs a break.  A change of pace.  Texturework instead of colorwork.  So I dipped into a stash of Plymouth Boku, a yarn I got cheap cheap cheap online somewhere hoping it was the poor woman's Silk Garden.  It wasn't.  The wool content (95% wool, 5% silk) was horribly scratchy and the yarn would make a miserable sweater, so it sat marinating in the stash.  Given the big wool component and the single ply structure, though, it seemed like it would make a good felting yarn, and an excellent substitute in the Greip pattern for a cabled bag in the Elsebeth Lavold #18 Third Viking Knits Collection book.  The original yarn is supposed to be Lavold's own Silky Wool (65% wool, 35% silk); the bag is supposed to be slightly felted.  Good match, thought I.  More wool, more shrinkage, so I'll make it extra big to compensate.

Into the washing machine it went.  That's one of the fun things about felting.  You never know what you're going to get.  And boy, was I surprised with this one.  It didn't shrink.  Let me say that again. It didn't shrink.  Welllll.....OK.  It's a bag after all, and size, to some extent, isn't a big deal.  But here's what did happen.  It got all fuzzy wuzzy like widdle bunny wabbits.  You can kind of see in the picture the furry haze (click on photo to enbiggen).  And I have a whole bunch of the stuff left.  I still don't trust it enough to make a garment out of it, but now I know what I can use to make a couple of dandy gift scarves at holiday time!

Meanwhile Winter Sunset sleeves march on.  I'm 2/3 of the way down Sleeve #2.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Good News and Bad News

So I've been beavering away on Winter Sunset. The good news is that I've completed one whole sleeve! Hurrah! Sleeves seem to be the bane of the knit-in-the-round sweater maker. You feel like it takes the same amount of time to knit a sleeve as it did to knit the whole body although there are obviously many fewer stitches. Maybe this is because you have to keep flopping the whole bulky sweater around and around as you go. Maybe it's because it's getting on for a gazillion times you've knitted the motif and although you're proud of having memorized it, it is getting a little boring. With all of it to do again on Sleeve #2. So imagine my pleasure at finishing the first sleeve and picking up and getting going on #2. Toodling merrily along until--uh oh--dun da dun dun--the bad news:
What you are looking at is the armpits of the sweater, the place where the fake "seam" is and the decreases take place. Finished sleeve is on the left; Sleeve #2 on the right. What's wrong with this picture is that on #1 there is an extra 1/2 of a motif. Eight extra stitches that don't belong there! Rats! Rats! And other cusswords that don't belong in a nice granny's knitting blog. [An aside: I learned to cuss at my mother's feet while she made our clothes on the sewing machine. Perhaps fiber work and cussing are natural companions.]

So my choices are:
  1. Frog the new sleeve and re-pick up with the same number of stitches as #1. Make the mistake symmetrical.
  2. Frog the first sleeve and pick up the correct number of stitches and re-do the whole thing. Make both sleeves without the mistake.
  3. Don't frog anything, rejoice in the fact that the goof is most obvious in the armpit where nobody's looking, and try to adjust the shaping of #2 (fewer decreases).
The Yarn Harlot says, "Knitting is a human activity. It's OK for it to look like a human did it." That makes a lot of sense to me, so I'm choosing door number three. One advantage of this alternative is it's a potential boredom-canceller. I'm going to have to be on my toes all through Sleeve #2 to make sure the shaping is right. I could easily screw up the shaping--I'm only human after all....

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Slice a Steek and Start a Sleeve!

I'm off on my first Winter Sunset Cardigan sleeve! Even though the yarn is "wooly" enough to hold together on its own, I decided to be super safe and machine stitch the steeks before I cut. Nothing calls for confidence like taking the scissors to your knitting. Picked up the stitches around the armhole and got going. There was a small disappointment that the pattern match at the fake seam decrease on the bottom of the sleeve isn't symmetrical for the big motifs. If you notice how the pattern works on the body of the sweater, two of them alternate, an X and a snowflake. I'd like it better if the motifs were the same on both sides of the decrease, but that's not how the stitch count works out. Also an error in how many rows to do before starting the decreases that isn't mentioned in the errata. The biggest size has the fewest rows and the smallest has the most. Lucky I'm making the middle size. Sleeve length in the pattern is the same for all sizes. This may be because the dropped shoulders add length to the arms, but I'm sure I'll be doing some measuring when I'm halfway down this sleeve. Everything's going so well that I want to be sure I'm making sleeves for neither a seal nor an orangutan!

And here's a little item from the Heap. A baby sweater made from sock yarn that was too pinky for socks that I'd actually wear, but a bright fashion statement for a friend's wee girl who should arrive any day now. Bonus booties from leftover yarn--just enough to eke out the newborn size!
All together now--AWWWWWW. So cute.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Smaller Heap, Bigger Wardrobe

More Finished Objects from the Heap of Malfunctioning Rubble! Both lovely comfy sweaters, abandoned (I dimly recall) just because I was seduced by a new project. If this doesn't confirm me as the ultimate process knitter, I'll happily take the silver if you show me who's got the gold.

First up, Guernsey from an old Classic Elite leaflet. It's a sort-of gansey style; the original yarn was CE's Mistral, a Pima cotton/alpaca blend. I used Knit Picks' City Tweed in Porpoise, a merino/alpaca blend that's soft enough to wear next to the skin and knits to the same gauge as the original. I changed the pattern a little because the sleeves were too plain and boring. I ran a cable up the center and then continued it across the shoulder and into the neck.

Photos taken by draping sweater on a pile of snow on a cloudy day--the ultimate blank white background! Good for contrast, but a little lumpy-looking.

Next, a Rowan pattern actually made from Rowan yarn! Sorry, but time has erased the origin of the pattern from my mind, but the yarn is Cashsoft DK, a merino/microfiber blend with 10% cashmere that is as soft as itty bitty kittycats. Curiously, only the fuchsia color sheds little white hairs that look somewhat like itty bitty kittycat hairs. The yarn was made in Romania, so who knows--maybe they're shearing cats there and calling it cashmere. Whatever....cats or goats, it's still very soft.

I need to take some more photos and then I'll have more FOs to show you, plus I've cut my first steek and started the first Winter Sunset sleeve!