12.28.2011

Goodwill Steal

I went to the Goodwill on Boxing Day.  There was a huge sale and if Goodwill shopping were a competition, I would have won.  All 5 things I tried on fit.  I got a brand new, still tags on, $40 dress shirt for $4.  Now for the big one. I found a vintage, hand knit, fair isle yoked cardigan.  And it fit.

It was stiff with age and dirt so the first thing I did was wash it.  After 8 or 9 vigorous washes, the wash water was still dingy, but I was losing patience.

I ran it through the spin cycle before laying it out to dry.  After drying it really softened up and fit even better.  I found a whole in the waist ribbing. 

It was probably exacerbated by the vigorous washing, but that's fine, it allowed me to patch it.  So I got to practice my darning skills.
I don't have a great full body photo of the sweater, but I wore it out and about Seattle with my sisters before they left town and we got this beautiful photo of the beautiful women I adore. 
I am so impressed by this sweater: the tidiness of the floats on the back side, the even stitching, the subtle and earthy color choice.  I'm sure you are going to get a whole new photo shoot highlighting everything I find awesome about this sweater.  My camera crapped out at Christmas this year, so I need to buy a new one first.

12.18.2011

Spinning Too

I've also been actively spinning.

I've really enjoyed this Falkland fiber from At Knits End on Etsy.com.  It was spun from the fold and chain plied on the fly.
 I really thought I was doing well to get a squishy yarn but it I started to knit with it a little and it feels really dense.  I know handspun yarn is traditionally denser than mill spun yarn, but I am really surprised with how dense this came out.

I haven't thwacked it or set the twist.  I'll hank it up later and give it a good soaking and beating and see if it fluffs up.

I have also been spinning some mill ends from the Sheep Shed Studio that I dyed last year in Boise State University colors inspired by my super fan cousin.
The blue and orange is a traditional three ply, but I ran out of orange so I got a chain ply out of the remaining blue.  Maybe I'll get a hat out if it.  Maybe.  But it looks like its probably only 2 or 3 ounces.  So we'll see.  It also has not been set yet.

12.17.2011

My First Baby Surprise

I could potentially have been done with my Of Hallows and Horcruxes sweater if I had stuck to the plan and knit only on it.  However, I let myself get distracted with my first ever Baby Surprise Jacket by Elizabeth Zimmerman. 

I couldn't help it though. It was fast and interesting and I know babies.  So it had to get done.  Above is a picture of my seaming at the top of the sleeve.  It got really difficult to see and I had to take frequent breaks to look away from the green.
I finished the Baby Surprise Jacket all except for the buttons.  I could swear I came out here with blue marbled buttons, but hell if I can find them.  Then ends are woven in, the sleeves are seamed and my nephew will be at my house two days after I get back to try it on.

12.16.2011

Quiet but Busy.

I have been quiet, but I have been busy.

As you can see, progress on my Of Hallows and Horcruxes continues.

I seamed up the front temporarily to try it on and make sure it actually goes around my chest.  You can see a line where it is pulling, but I think that is where my lifeline is.  I didn't have a spare non-wool yarn to use so it sticks a little. 

Immediately after this photo I dropped to a size 5 needle (from the 6 I had been using) and began the 2x2 ribbing at the bottom.  I'm knitting on the hem now and it is basically a sleeveless hoodie.  I anticipate casting off the bottom edge tonight.

11.25.2011

Afloat with Knitters

It turns out I am not the only knitter on board.  We have at least two more and a crochet-er.  Meet Christie one of our undergrads on this trip.  She came to ask a little advice about working cables after she had to rip out several inches.  After this cowl is finished, we are going to sit down and talk mitts.

11.24.2011

Into the Yoke, Of Hallows and Horcruxes

This is one and a half repeats into my yoke.  I'm now two repeats in.  The color work continues to be lumpy and bumpy, but I'm happy.  There are three rows of increases in each 20 row repeat and the rows are taking longer and longer to knit.  I am comforting myself with the thought that eventually, I will be separating the arms from the main body and it will get smaller again.  I forgot to knit a row in the first repeat and added it at the end of the chart so  my yarn was all on the right side.  I'm not too worried about how it looks. I dont' really feel like the pattern is cohesive enough to matter.

11.18.2011

Hallows Grows and Knits in the Wild

I made my friend, co-worker and roommate Steve a hat.  It is with Jared Flood's yarn Shelter.

It's three colors with some fair isle patterning.  I knit most of it when I was home sick from work one day, laying on the couch.
Knitting with shelter was not what I expected.  I didn't love it.  It pulls apart really easy, wasn't as soft as I thought it would be.  It's like scratchy held together with air.  I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the scads of skeins I bought at Churchmouse this year.

I am however pleased that Steve is wearing it frequently (our lab is COLD, hence all the ugly sweater wearing).  It seems to fit well and doesn't migrate off like hats that are too tight does but it doesn't fall off like hats that are too big.
Hallows continues to grow and I have started on the yoke section of the sweater.  For my first round of increases I went with a knit 1, knit into the stitch below it method and I'm not sure I like how it looks.  I thought it might be easier than trying to make one from the bar between stitches with the color work, but that might be a better method.  I have rows before I decrease again, so I'll probably switch it up there.
Another gratuitous sexy yoke close up.
So far I'm so happy.  I'm curious about this yoke business, if I have the right number of stitches, if I planned my decreases appropriately, if my gauge is going to go nuts-o in the color work.  But we'll see.  So far, satisfactory knitting.  Now that all the math is worked out.

I am kind of wishing I had chosen different, less neutral colors.  But I'm not gonna let that bug me.  This will be a utilitarian knit.

11.17.2011

Sunshine, Grass and Ewe

I have been spinning too!  I'm spinning 4oz of falkland wool in the colorway Sunshine, Grass and Ewe from the Etsy shop At Knits End Yarns.

(the orange is actually just a little more orange)

(a little more true to color, from the Etsy Listing)

I'm spinning it a little thicker than usual, plying on the fly and I'm getting super smooshy.  Like "ZOMG THIS IS SOFT!" kind of smooshy.  I'm almost 2 oz in and I love it.  I can't wait to start knitting with it. What? I have no idea, probably just enough for a large, bulky hat.

11.15.2011

Hooded, Of Hallows and Horcruxes

I had to cast on the hood twice after I made a mistake in my I-Cord edging.  I'm glad I did because I discovered the hood was going to be HUGE.  I ended up casting on 120 instead (+3 on each edge for the I-cord).
About 45 rows in I decided to seam it together at the top to give it the shape it would be assuming later.  I like to see my projects take shape and it helps motivate me a lot.  This is after 56 (of 76) rows and nearly 2 balls of Dove Heather, Knit Picks: Wool of the Andes, worsted.

You might notice this looks a lot like my Ugly Sweater, same color and to the untrained eye, similar gauge.  I was knitting it at my table the other day while wearing the Ugly Sweater and more than one person stopped to ask if I was knitting the sweater I was wearing. I blew everyone's mind.

11.11.2011

I am Wearing an Ugly Sweater.

I am wearing an ugly sweater.  It's true, it's ugly.  It was home made by me and even I cannot appreciate the homemade awesomeness.

I would like to discuss all the ways that this sweater is hideous.
  1. Let's start at the neckline.  It took me 5 minutes of fussing to make the neckline look this good.  I really needed some ribbing.  Or better shaping.  Better shaping would include a lower front and a higher back.
  2. How about the extra room in the bust? It gives me some kind of saggy boob syndrome that I do not suffer from. I'm wearing a brand new, super lift-y bra.  You wouldn't know it from this sweater, but they are practically in my chin.
  3. The arms are too short and too wide. 
  4. Those acrylic buttons do not belong.

 I made this sweater years ago from a recycled sweater. Then a year or so later I steeked it into a cardigan with buttons I hate because they were the only buttons available at the time of the right size for my buttons holes.

So why I am I wearing it? It's loose, it's warm and I don't care how I look sitting in my lab.  It was the third sweater I ever made for myself, with no pattern.  I still love you Ugly Sweater.

11.06.2011

Of Hallows and Horcruxes, swatch

I swatched on size 8s and it is unblocked.  I'm really uncomfortable with how uneven my color work is (yes I know it isn't blocked) but I think it is a function of two things, 1- two color knitting is always a little wonkier for me, I need more practice and 2 - purling two colors.

It is also a little looser in general than I would like.  I am going to try swatching again on size 7s.  I think I could use the color work practice as well as I might like the fabric tightened up a little, especially on the solid color sections.

Now here is a question, I might need to recover the yarn from my swatch.  Do I cut the ends to make it easier to knit a new swatch or leave the swatches attached so I can rip them all out in a continuous strand?

Underway Again

Our current cruise is keeping up a blog and you can find it here on the Kutztown webpage.

I brought with me an entire box of Knit Picks: Wool of the Andes to try knitting a Of Hallows and Horcruxes sweater on this cruise.  All of my Christmas knitting is done, so why not spend the next two months knitting something for me?  I'm working on it as a knit a long with a few friends of mine.

I started a swatch for the color worked yoke and ran across some issues.  The sweater is knit flat, but I found on row 6 that the two yarns I needed were on opposite sides of the swatch. I fixed it with some finagling, but came across a similar problem later.  So I made a comment on the pattern page asking about it and the designer answered without answering my question at all.

Last night I sat down with grid paper and mapped it out and it is impossible to do without cutting and re-attaching the yarn.  So I added an extra solid color row to fix this at row 9.  I think that this will work out much better as I have planned to modify the sweater into a circular yoke instead of the raglan style yoke in the original and this gives me another solid color row that makes evenly spacing my increases easier.

Other modifications I have planned are to forgo the cabled button band and use an I-cord edging and probably sew in a zipper.

Now if I can successfully complete a swatch and get some kind of gauge I'm happy with.  I'm feeling like the size 8 needles are producing a more open fabric than I'm liking.  I am probably knitting ridiculously loose thanks to trying to keep even tension in the color work.  I wonder if my gauge will change from the color pattern to the solid pattern. I might have to knit both into the swatch.

10.19.2011

BFL/Silk Shawl, blocking

Blocking with super bright sunshine from my huge south facing windows.
 Less sunshine, up close and personal with the lace pattern.  The color is more true in the above photo than below.
 More of the body blocking.
It came out just a hair shorter than I would have liked, but it will still be warm and awesome about the shoulders.  I'll probably end up getting a shawl pin for the recipient to hold it closed.

There is a wonderful sheen from the silk, very subtle color variation from the under dye job and between the silk and wool dye take up from the over dye process.  I will get some FO photographs when I find my camera charger.  And my job stops getting in the way. (NEXT WEEK I GET TO REST!)

10.18.2011

BFL/Silk Shawl, grafted and dyed

So I grafted and dyed the BFL/Silk shawl.  HOORAY!

Here is a picture for you mid graft.  I will tell you a secret, I am not an expert grafter.  I screwed it up in several ways and it still worked out.  For starters, I finished each side after a right side row so the grafting row for each side would be a simple purl across row.  Easy weaving with no yarn overs or k2tog to figure out.  However for one side I ran out of yarn about 5 stitches from the end.  Guess what, I just didn't finish that row.  So I am exactly one row short for 5 stitches of the edge.  And it came out just fine.

Also twice, mid graft I realized that I had gotten off some where, one side which was my first stitch would be  behind by one stitch (I really only checked at the YO stitches), so I just ran the needle through it once instead of twice to catch back up.  And it came out just fine.  It looks great.

Now we all remember how much I hated that color.  And I was going to over dye it.  I wasn't sure what color, but I knew it would be darker.  As my dye pot heated on the stove, I looked at my set and thought, maybe I'll start with red and if I don't like it, I'll do it again with some blue.  I couldn't decide between vermillion or fire red (Jacquard Acid Dyes) so I gave it a little of both.
I couldn't be more thrilled with the color.  I had planned to block it before going to bed, but I was too busy playing video games and watching The Legend of Neil.  I will try and block it this week. I really really hope it grows in blocking.  I'm starting to think I should have knit it much narrower.

Below is all that remains.  Every last scrap of my yarn.
And just so we all remember, this was where we started.
I also spun up a sample of polworth that I purchased from someone on Ravelry.  I loosely spun and 2 plied a handful, then measured the angles of twist for future reference.  It was so lovely I was ready to dump all my other projects and play with it some more.  But I'll be good.  I'm focused.

My roommate needs a simple watch cap.  Just a plain hat.  I can't decide on a color work pattern.  Apparently, I don't do simple.

10.12.2011

Masculine Puffy Scarf FO

I know the title is a little confusing, masculine and puffy?

But it totally is.  The color and geometric pattern definitely butch it up, but the super soft 128 Cascade Superwash Chunky give it a lofty, puffy quality.

It is another Christmas gift, but I don't really care, no one knows who gets it.  Doesn't my roommate make a great model? I think he missed his calling.

10.11.2011

Lace Slouch FO

I think I am convinced that lace slouch hats are way easier to make than any other style of knitted hat.  When you knit a beanie, you run the risk of it being to small, too short or way too big.  But the lace slouch.  The only part that has to fit is the ribbed brim, then you just make it huge and win!

So I made a lace slouch hat for my friend Hilary who maybe let on that she would like a hat. Very subtle-y mind you.  I almost couldn't tell she was asking (that was sarcasm).  But she's a fledgling knitter and I pushed her to make herself.  Then plotted a hat on the side.

I think she likes it.
Now, these beautiful pictures she took for me don't showcase the mistakes.  I maybe got my second lace repeat off set from the first in an awkward manner and didn't care to go back and fix it.
The lace was from a hardcover knitting reference book I picked up in a used book store in Nampa, ID last year.  I don't remember the name, or author and scouring online booksellers for a book who's name I can't remember isn't turning out successful.
It was knit with some Cascade 220 that was in my stash from an online ebay purchase a few years ago that I threw in my bag for this last cruise, just in case.

10.04.2011

Coral Got an Alpaca Earflap Hat

It is not, in fact, the ugliest thing ever. It has now grown on me.

Don't look too closely because I hadn't quite worked out what I wanted until, you know, I was practically done.

Coral loves alpacas.  And llamas.  Need some proof?

I happened to have two balls of Misti Alpaca Chunky in color 7238, a grassy green.  They were going to be mittens for me, or legwarmers to go with the boots I ordered from Zappos which are on their way to my house RIGHT NOW.  But how could I not knit this for Coral when I knew how much she wanted one?  And how much she would love it?  And those puppy dog eyes?

I used size 8 needles, two sizes smaller than the recommended needle size for a denser fabric which the super soft and lofty yarn needed forced upon it.

I started from the top down because I really hadn't worked out how I was going to knit the earflaps yet, I put them off.  I could only find four of my dpns so I cast on and worked my increases in groups of six.  I kept two stockinette stitches together and purled between them every non increase row, increasing on either side of them on the knit rows.
Eventually the garter stitch in the round got boring so I switched to stockinette.  It took exactly two rows for me to realize I had turned it into a condom and I couldn't have that, so I decided to switch to ribbing, which is the wrong choice when you think you are knitting a condom.  So I broke it up with alternating rows of ribbing and stockinette.  I felt OK with it.
But the ear flaps were still looming.  I remembered seeing some hats in the past where the flaps were worked with short rows instead of two different balls of yarn and decided to try that.  It took two passes of short rows to get the flaps large enough.  I had a hard time working my pattern of alternating ribs and stockinette in the short rows so this area is riddled with flaws.

I was hit by inspiration to put an i-cord edging on it. Why? I don't know.  It was fiddly, but I think it worked out ok.

At this point I was convinced it was shit. It was horrific, it smelled of vinegar (What the hell is that about Misti Alpaca? Actually I know why it would smell of vinegar, technically, neutralizing the pH after dying and all, but I have a hard time with a commercial product still actually smelling like vinegar once it has hit store shelves. Wash that out.), it was probably too big.
I was wrong. Like Mary Poppins, it was "practically perfect, in every way."

10.03.2011

Ever get nearly completely finished with a knitting project to discover it may be the ugliest thing ever.

That's me today!  Hopefully the super soft baby alpaca and handmade with love bits will make up for that.

10.01.2011

Scrapping the mittens.  I want them. Pretty badly actually, but right now my alpaca has somewhere else it needs to be.

An earflap hat.  On a particular head.  A head that has been reminding me every single day how much it loves alpaca.

/sigh.

I'll have mittens someday.

9.28.2011

The ends of my bumpy, smooshy, masculine scarf need woven after binding off last night. Knitting with Cascade 128 Superwash was a total pleasure and my stash my be seeing a little more of that baby.

I'm also plotting what to do with the two skeins of Misti Alpaca Chunky I've got with me. I was some warm smooshy legwarmers, but Cascade 128 Superwash might be a better choice for that, I think I'd rather have the alpaca against my skin (unless I wear it with skirts, hmmmm). So now cabled mittens along the lines of Bella's Mittens are in my mind.

I'm also working on the BFL/Silk Shawl.  It looks like vomit. Still. Those colors, yeah they are true. I think this has taught me a very valuable lesson in buying dyed roving, I very much prefer sequences longer than the fiber's staple length.

The spinning is uneven, some parts are thicker and lovely soft, others are wire-y. Overall it feels lovely to the touch though and it is knitting up quick. I'm having a hard time spinning fast enough for the knitting.  

Because I'm knitting as I spin and I'm not 100% positive where the middle of the shawl will be my plan is this,
1 - at the end of this ball (about 20 feet) I will put the shawl on a stitch holder.
2 - I will cast on and knit the lace pattern for the opposite end of the shawl.
3 - at the top of the lace pattern, I will put it on a stitch holder and resume with the remaining yarn on the body.
4 - when I'm just about out of yarn, I will graft the two sides together.

Hopefully this will result in a couple of things with minimal thinking, 
1 - identical lace panels on either end
2 - a nearly invisible graft that should get lost in the lace to body transition
3 - minimal yarn waste and maximum size.

Some color folks might be gasping, "But the color sequence! You will muck it all up."  But the color on this thing is atrocious. And I still plan to over dye it a darker color so this is not a problem. I hope.

9.20.2011

Focus, spin, knit, now.

Three quarters of the way through my scarf I realized how little time I had left on this cruise.  How is it Sept 20th already?  I want to finish the BFL/Silk Shawl in order to have it dyed and completed in time for Christmas, which really needs to be done before I get on a ship again at the beginning of November.  So I got busy with a little spinning last night.

I am anxious now to get these done.  A little Ravelry forum browsing this week has set my sights on a new project.  A big project. A just for me project.  Seeing as all my Christmas stuff has to be done by the beginning of November, I figured I could bring along an ambitious personal project for my November/December months at sea.

There will be swatching. There will be color. There might be shaping.  There will definitely be pattern alteration.  Teamwork may be involved.  My brain has already left the projects I'm on and the yarn is in my online shopping cart for a more opportune purchasing time (like being home to receive it).  I'm doing math that is pointless until I have a swatch.

I have to finish what I'm on.

Focus, spin, knit.

9.19.2011

Two skeins of Cascade Yarns 128 Superwash, Chunky ended up in my supplies this trip. Without a project in mind I fondled it for a few days. It is so incredibly soft with a lovely bouncy loft and it just slides through my hands like water.

I cast on a scarf, but the stitch pattern took some deciding upon. I was browsing my new copy of Little Red in the City by Ysolda Teague and the leafy pattern around the neck of Lauriel, but really liked the hem with the leafs traveling up into the body. 

I quickly got distracted from that and decided I wanted something reversible and simple and started browsing Ravelry for ideas. Nothing popped out at me and I started trying to work something out on my own.  
 A very simple stitch pattern I worked out, though I'm sure I'm not the first. It is more or less a 1x1 ribbing with a seed stitch column between ribs. After 8 rows I alternate the purl columns and the knit columns. If you are interested in the pattern, you can check it out below. It's simple and easy to memorize.
It is resulting in a slightly puffy, non curling fabric that I plan to lightly block. This should make a great masculine scarf which is intended as another Christmas present. I usually plan to keep projects I cast on with no intentions or desires, but sometimes it just speaks to me and tells me who it wants to go to. This one knows exactly to whom it belongs already.

Stitch pattern:
Cast on a multiple of 4 sts +1 (I used 25 on size 10s)
Rows 1-8 K1 *P1 K3 rep from * to end.
Rows 9-16 *K3 P1 rep from * to last stitch K1

That's it. Easy peasy.

9.18.2011

Little Red in the City - Ysolda Teague

I followed the trials and tribulations of Ysolda Teague via her blog as she wrote Little Red in the City only to be slightly disappointed when it was released. The price point was huge. The patterns were not anything that really caught my eye as something I wanted to wear.  The knits and their pictures were beautiful, but they weren't garments I wanted.  So I passed.


I belong to a group on Ravelry dedicated to fitting problems, namely bust fitting problems.  We discuss finding bras, sizing and altering patterns and clothes for a better fit in both the larger and smaller busted crowd.  In answer to a forum posted question, someone recommended reading Little Red in the City and referring to it as a wealth of information about sizing, fitting and shape.

So I found it in person at Churchmouse Yarns on Bainbridge Island, WA.  Lo' and Behold! No lie.  Nearly half the hefty, hefty book is dedicated to getting the proper fit, placing darts, fitting yourself and gauge swatching.  Every pattern is discussed in painful, horrible, fantastic detail including pictures of both regular and plus sizes.  Short Acts of the Fates, there is absolutely no reason any knitter shouldn't end up with an absolutely stunning, well fit sweater.

My mind has been swayed, I probably want one of these sweaters and I'll be referencing this book heavily in the future. 

Dear Ysolda,
I am so, SO sorry I ever doubted you.
Sincerely, 
Your newest devotee,
Brandi

9.16.2011


I have just finished the greatest hat ever.

Double knit means twice as thick and extra warm.  It is going to be hard not to wear it myself in the computer lab, but as it is meant to be a christmas present I have decided it probably shouldn't be a used hat.

It is adult human sized, which is often a problem with my hats.  And I know this because it got a beta test this afternoon. No that doesn't mean I wore it, it means I tested it.

As it was being tested, my hair was slightly damp, and the hat generated a fair amount of heat on my head.  So received a light blocking as well.  Very light.

I got a few pictures while it was tested and blocked, which is referred to as modeling.

I tested it. And blocked it. And modeled it.  I didn't wear it.

 Now if you look too closely, which you won't, the gray yarn appears to be a little loftier than the maroon yarn, a little fuzzier.  The image suffers a little as a result.  Also, the difficulty of double knitting appears to have affected the consistency of my tension.  There are several mistakes of color, especially early on in the project.  In fact the frequency of color mistakes is null at the top and frequent on the bottom.
So it may not be the greatest hat ever, but it is warm, impressive to the untrained eye and being heavily oohed and aahed over as appropriate.  And I wish it were destined to be mine.

Alas, you cannot see it until Christmas.  Let the Secrets begin.

9.15.2011

The day before moving onto the ship, I pulled all my knitting needles together and pulled out the ones that I thought I would need for this trip.  I more or less brought one circular of each size I had (I have tons of size 10s!), then an assortment of complete dpn sets.  I have been knitting on this double knit hat for several days on size 5 bamboo cirques and it's starting to get a little fiddly so I thought I would change it up to size 5 dpns.  What kind of idiot was I? Packing size 5 circulars but not dpns? We all know this isn't catastrophic.  I'll be magic looping it from here on out, but I don't like it.


Also, I learned a few things working on this project.
1 - Colors of the same intensity are very difficult to see against one another.  I should have chosen higher contrasting yarns.  Because when you can't really make out the color pattern, you mostly see in consistencies in the tension.
2 - One large showpiece color work pattern is probably enough for a hat, to many different color work patterns look a little, "busy".
3 - Write the things you learn down before you forget. Because this list was longer than two items.

9.14.2011

 A little peak at the project that started it all at the Franklin Habit visit to the Seattle Knitters Guild.

My double knitting magic in action.  It did get a little easier, or at least more interesting when I got to the color work.
What is really impressive is how much work I managed to complete while I was knitting.  I know if anyone who saw me yesterday was asked what I did, they would say I knit, but damn if I didn't manage to churn out several work projects.  I spent much of the day waiting for computer processes to finish.

9.13.2011

I do not mind mistakes in my knitting. Usually I'll just gloss right over them.  If I have an extra stitch I'll find an inconspicuous place to work a k2tog.  In colorwork patterns, if it is more than a row back, I'll probably leave it and make it a "Where's Waldo" type of game for future recipients.  They don't bother me too much and I'm knitting for the joy of the knitting. Mostly.  I mean I do know that the finished object will be sweet, even with a few mistakes.  Besides, you want everyone to know you are wearing a hand knit anyway right? Not because they look the best, but because someone loved you enough to be concerned about your warmth.

This double knitting project I started is working really hard to test the limits of my relaxed attitude toward mistakes however.  I described to you the trials of casting on and I continued in a painstaking manner to knit an inch or so.  Then, no matter how hard I tried to pretend it wasn't true, I realized I had way too many stitches and it was coming out much too large.  So I ripped it all out and cast it on again with a size smaller needle and only 80 sts.  It looks a little more realistic-ly head sized  now.

I continue to have problems finding a happy place for my yarn in my hands.  I thought I would outsmart it by knitting one side at a time: one row front, one row back, repeat. However, while it was a little more comfortable, I don't think it went any faster.  And it would prove to be a problem when it comes time to work the color chart I chose.

There are several places where I made color mistakes already: expanses of maroon stockinette peppered with the grey from the backside, or horizontal grey stripes with three or four maroon stitches in a row.  I just hope, that in the end, the snowflake pattern I chose can still be picked out of the field of mistakes.

9.12.2011

I start every day around midnight.  And every day I have planned to take teaser photographs of my recently finished Malabrigo project, but I have to wait until the sun comes out and by then, I've found myself really busy at work. So for now you get no pictures.

I have nearly completed the last project (ends, weaving, blocking remain) and cast on a second. This time a double knit hat.  I don't know what possessed me to do that.  I have a vague recollection of it being pretty simple and just flying through the double knit starfish hat I designed before, but I must have been delusional. I do remember the ribbing being complicated, but I thought I would outsmart it this time by not doing ribbing(!).  This means I need to cast on 192 stitches in alternating colors.  Pain in the rear end.  I hate casting on more than 6 really.

So I outsmarted it by doing a long tail cast on of 96 with two strands.  Ha HA! but now I don't have alternating colors on my needles.  Sometimes the front color is the second one on the needle and sometimes it's the first.  This makes setting up a rhythm of knit front, purl back a little hard to establish.

On top of that, I can't seem to find a comfortable position for the yarn in my hands.  I think I'm too accustomed to stranded colorwork where when I'm using one color the other is tucking itself out of the way in the back.  In the double knitting scenario both colors need to be on the same side of the work.  I think I recall putting both colors in one hand but I'm having a hell of a time doing it comfortably, spaced far enough apart to easily pick the color I need and keeping consistent tension on both, actually either.

But if I can get past this first row it all becomes easier right? sure.

9.10.2011

Franklin Habit Works Wonders

When last we met I told you about how I had lost my knitting Mojo but had become enamored of spinning.

But then my summer got busy and all fiber arts fell to the wayside.  I'm not sorry in the slightest, I have been having a fantastic summer: parties, camping, Penny Arcade Expo and I even hosted a house concert.

Today I got underway again though and something had to come with me. I was debating projects. Should I bring spinning or knitting? Which am I more likely to do/enjoy?

Well this week, several things happened to aid in my decision.
Monday I wished a knitting buddy happy birthday and she asked if I was going to see Franklin Habit this week in Seattle.  I then found out that I had one more day than I thought before getting underway, closely followed with, where and when Franklin would be coming: five blocks from my house, before I left town and free at the Seattle Knitters Guild meeting.

I had no idea that the Seattle Knitters Guild met once a month so close to me.  I also was NOT going to miss seeing Franklin when the convenience of it was practically spoon fed to me.  I grabbed and wound a hank of Malabrigo (I'm honestly not even sure which Malabrigo I bought, must have been worsted, but it felt heavier in my hand) I found on sale at Churchmouse Yarns the weekend before when Knitters Delight came to visit and grabbed an appropriate sized circular needle to cast on a little project while I listened to Franklin.

The evening was fantastic on more than one level.  It is has been a long while since I was surrounded by knitters.  It felt so good. It is so easy to meet new people when you are a knitter.  I had been in the building all of 5 minutes before I was knitting on someone else's project.  I asked if she would mind if I filled out her row (we were sitting in pews) and she said absolutely not and handed me her work. We laughed because it was hilarious (I know some of you had to be told that).  I wasn't about to pass up the opportunity to fondle the Zephyr she was working with either.  I am going to be out of town for every single meeting the rest of the year, but I definitely want to join the SKG and start attending meetings.

I cast on my own project and the yarn felt great.  It was a super simple project, some ribbing to start, and I was able to eye other projects, listen to business and meet others without even pausing my knitting.

Franklin talked about Victorian knitting patterns.  Should you find this to be a dull topic, you are probably at the wrong site.  He was so funny.  He touched upon the crazy in all of us knitters that like to do things the hard way, the utterly crazy picture Victorian needlework pattern books paints of the age and how macrame apparently didn't spontaneously erupt from LSD, polyester and hot tubs in the 70s.  Franklin was a complete and utter delight to listen to and I was sitting on the edge of my chair for the entire event, fingers flying completely unnoticed in my lap.

In fact, by the time he had finished speaking, half my project was finished and my knitting mojo was completely recovered.  I finished the project yesterday, images will soon follow, but I can't reveal the entire project to you, I mean Christmas season is quickly falling upon us.  I've cast on another already.

Thank you so much Franklin Habit for fixing my knitting. Be my new best friend?
<3


8.01.2011

I spun two ounces of the blue roving I bought at Twisted in Portland, OR while watching Malice in Wonderland last night with Kathryn. I showed her the magic that is the umbrella swift and let her ball up some giant hanks that were giving her trouble. It's been a long time since I've been with my knitting group in San Diego, and I think I was really missing them. I haven't really been around Seattle much since the move to give me the opportunity to build up or find a knitting group again. Having a family friend who shares the hobby and wants to watch movies and work on projects together feels really good.


Back in San Diego, my hobby and my community were one and the same. My friends were knitters. It's what we did together. It was wonderful and motivational. Since the relocation, my social activities have been separated from my hobby. It isn't a good or bad thing, it's just the way it is. I have had no lack of socializing, but I haven't been knitting like I was before. I'm not as motivated to pull out a project.

I have a desire for custom knits out of my stash though. Kind of frustrating. I see this pile of wool and have all these ideas for what they should be, but have a disconnect between the pile and the finished project.

That said, I WILL have a cabled cardigan from the blue roving, but I haven't found a pattern that is inspiring me. I need your ideas. I want cabled, but not over designed, not over complicated, but interesting enough to knit and flattering for my busty frame.

Ideas?

7.28.2011

Summertime!

Summer time means too busy to blog!


1. I moved into a new place. A house. With lots of room for...
2. I got a new spinning wheel! I'm up to three now. This time it was an Ashford Kiwi used. And oh my gosh it is so easy to spin!
3. I had a housewarming/birthday costume party, Superheros vs Villians. It was so much fun. I went as Storm from XMen and we also had The Paleontologist and Rick Roll. Hysterical!
4. I went to Boise for the 4th of July and got to see my some Grandparents, celebrate my nephew's first birthday and kick a ten year old's butt at mini-golf (highlight of my summer!).

Knitting Content...

I am continuing in the Modified Juno Regina. It has a home lined up for it now. It needs to go to my Grandmother. My Grandpa offered to buy it off me, but I told him the minute we talked money it would become a chore and I'd never finish it. So here I am on another cruise and it is the only project I brought with me.

I have only been knitting it on ships and I've been ashore almost all month so it's moving slow, but I really had a great time shoreside so I'm fine with it.

Also, my knitting has kind of taken a dive. I really just want to spin. One of the reasons for purchasing the Kiwi (who still needs a name) was I falling head over heels in love with the blue yarn I was getting from the blue roving I bought at Twisted in Portland, OR. I needed more than the 8 ounces I bought and so I found 12 more ounces and I wanted to get it spun up faster than the drop spindle was allowing me at the time. I need a cabled cardigan in this yarn. I think I need to find more roving too.


While on my last cruise I made a lot of online purchases from etsy. Not large amounts from any one person, but I was looking for wool from many different breeds. With different crimps, different staple lengths. I don't have any pictures and I haven't started playing with them yet.

6.22.2011

The Hunchback of Notre Dame, by Victor Hugo

I don't read much. I almost put that I don't read as much as I would like to, but honestly I don't really enjoy reading. It is what I do while I am waiting for something else to happen. I would, however, love to have the information already in my brain. That's the only thing that keeps me reading anything. A strong desire to not miss out.


I've been attempting to read more of the classics for a long while. I can always find them in thrift stores and bookshops for the cheap and I figure they've been around this long for a reason. There are often references to them in pop culture as well that I often miss out on because I hadn't read the book, even if I've absorbed the gist throughout my lifetime.

Often times I struggle through classics. The language can often be a significant barrier and the style of storytelling can quickly lose my interest. Jane Austen has me nailed as an audience, Emily Bronte on the other hand was torture.

For my last two cruises I picked up an old copy of The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo that has been on my shelf for years. I was expecting another excruciating foray into the classics but I was pleasantly surprised. My copy was unabridged which was a big mistake. I found myself self abridging entire chapters describing the layout of Paris.

Other than that, the language was so simple to understand, the characters so well drawn and the story so engaging I barely put it down. The best part of this story to me is how every character's point of view intertwines. Not one of them understand each other fully, they are prejudiced and selfish. Often times, I give up on characters like that as I did with Wuthering Heights. I believe it didn't bother me in this case because the story was woven around so many more characters I wasn't completely inundated with one or two characters rottenness (i.e. Catherine and Heathcliff).

The entire novel is a lesson in selfishness, the foolishness and rashness of unrequieted love. Characters are blinded by themselves and so focused on the ends of their own noses (as Mary Poppins would say) they cannot see the objects of their love and desire for the people that they truly are.

I don't necessarily agree with this book's moral, if it had one. It seems to tell us that passion only serves to blind us to our own actions. It justifies within us behavior we know is wrong. I can't help but believe passion can be beneficial. Passion can be what keeps us going through adversity when all hope seems lost. It can blind us for the better, even if that was not the case for any of The Hunchback's characters.

It was not uplifting, there is no happy ending, at least, for anyone who might deserve it. But it was a great read and I highly recommend it.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame can be found new and used every where. You can also find free e-reader versions for your favorite e-reader and at Project Gutenberg, my own personal favorite site for digital books. If you use Project Gutenberg, please consider donating to enable continued access to public domain classics.

6.21.2011

Another Juno Emerges

The Laodice, while lovely, was not to be. The ever expanding section of stockinette stitch in the middle was boring me to tears and I was only 100 yards into it.


I had toyed with adding a lace panel in the middle of the stockinette stitch but after hours of browsing Ravelry for a lace panel I might like I came again to Juno Regina. I decided to use it and modified it into a triangular shawl knit sideways. I frogged Laodice and began again.

It was impossible to tell without sampling and blocking (neither of which I have done) if it was coming out too steep. Or steeper than I wanted. So again I modified it and I think it will come out trapezoidal instead of triangular.
It is knitting much faster and much more interesting. I have nearly finished 160 yards (the first two hanks) and thankfully just finished spinning my next 80 yards.

I am having a dilemma. I like spinning colorful things. It keeps it interesting even if I don't like the way the colors come out in the end. Knitting, I need a slightly complicated stitch. Something to keep my interest. The problem I have is that I don't care for the way variegated yarn looks with complicated stitch patterns. It looks better in a simple stitch and the complicated stitches look better with simple colors. For me, it just looks better. And I understand lots of people will disagree with me.

Maybe I'll feel differently when the work on this shawl thing is at an end. But I have a feeling it will be getting an over-dye job when it is completed.

Besides that, the yarn is soft with a lovely hand that is a pleasure to knit.

6.09.2011

Laodice in BFL/Silk

Here is the top I purchased at the North Idaho Spin In. It is BFL and [Tussah?] Silk, probably 70/30%. The colors in the first image are much more true than the second.I am spinning it in very small batches on a student spindle (somehow the only fiber and spindle I brought with me, WTF?). Seriously small batches actually, I finished my first 81 yards and cast on a project.


I'm spinning in small batches so I can knit as I go (I can't spin in bed) and that way I don't get anchored down for hours with 100s of yards of single wrapped around my wrist. I need projects I can pick up and put down immediately when I'm working at sea.
I'm being pretty lazy with the colors and it is muddying the yarn. I'm not loving it, but maybe that's because I wanted something very Spring and this feels very Autumn to me the more I work on it. Maybe late Summer. My co-worker likes it, but I think it might grow on me knitted up.

I decided upon the pattern Laodice from Knit Picks. I had a few criteria as I was browsing Ravelry patterns. I wanted a Lace or Light Fingering weight project. I know I can knit it with whatever weight I want, and I often make weight substitutions, but I didn't want to guess, spinning as I go seems like enough variables already. I wanted a shawl with some lace to keep it interesting. I wanted a sideways construction because I didn't want to cast on/bind off 100s of stitches.

I also didn't want to pay 10 dollars. There were a fair few sideways constructed lace-y Shawlettes, but I didn't really feel any of them were complicated enough to be worth the $7.50 price average they seemed to be. This one was $1.99 and that felt like exactly the right price.
I like the pattern so far. I changed the double decreases it was using to sl2togk1psso (slip 2 together, knit 1, pass slipped stitches over) because I prefer the centered double decrease to a leaning double decrease pretty much all the time.