Thursday, September 13, 2007

Movin' On Up

I've decided to consolidate a bit, and have merged this blog in with my regular one. Why protect the masses from knitting, after all? Must share, and potentially rope in new victims addicts crafters.

So, please, come join me over at The knitting posts won't happen any more often than they did here, I suspect - but there will be a lot more going on as filler in between the important, fiber-enhanced stuff.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Endless No More

People use the word endless to refer to school lectures, lines at the DMV, the 2-minute wait for pregnancy test results... but honestly, in the case of Willem's sweater, I really thought it was actually going to be endless. Neverending. Incomplete-able. There were just so many cables, and then after the cables there were more cables. And did I mention the cables? And all in unbroken off-white. In size XXL.

Not so long in the larger scheme of things, I suppose; I started at the end of January and it's not quite 7 months later. Took me longer to make my babies, and they were each more than a month early. But I kept wandering off on side projects, finding (okay, seeking) distractions, indulging in some yarn snobbery that made the return to Lion Brand - albeit "100% pure virgin wool containing natural oils," according to their marketing gurus - a bit of a mental adjustment (though, as was quite wisely pointed out to me, it is good stuff. Worth purchasing again. Someday.)... in general, it was an uphill battle.

Then there were the alterations to the pattern. First it was just a lengthening of torso and sleeves. Then a casual mention from Willem that he thought it made more sense for the back to match the front, instead of being beaded rib throughout. (No, he did not use the phrase "beaded rib" - I have trained him well, but not that well.) Then the realization that the front and back, being large unshaped blocks, were going to be adding extra boxiness to an already broad-shouldered frame, and that my husband probably would prefer not to look like a Lego figurine when wearing his new sweater.

Hence the steeking. Oh, it was scary, but it seemed like the most efficient and customizable way to tailor the shoulders to match the sleeve caps I'd added to the original pattern (it's on the Lion Brand website, the "Aran Pullover," if you're registered and inclined to search - but pay attention to the sleeve length, the pattern lists 'em backwards!).

So, I knit and knit and knit, and measured and counted and knit some more, and was grateful for having learned how to cable-knit without a cable needle, and then steeked and seamed, and viola! A sweater fit for a graduate student. Here's hoping for a cold, cold, cold New Hampshire winter.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Ein Klein Knit Magik

Apologies for the lame cultural reference, but do you ever get a post title in your head and nothing else will replace it? What, that's just me? Whatever.

I had one of those magical knitting experiences last night, comparable to the Miracle of Emily's Socks. I wanted a summery, quick project to break up the cabling, cabling, cabling of Willem's sweater, and I'd just finished a pair of socks. Here:
Pattern: Flame Wave Socks by Ann Budd, in Interweave's Favorite Sock Patterns
Yarn: Sandnes Garn Mandarin Petit in Red

I'm so-so on them; they're a little loose at the top and a little tight on the bottom for Emily, but Jacob looooooves them, so I may just make new ones for Emily and be content with that.

Anyway. The magic? I wanted to make a simple summery bag out of dishcloth cotton, and I have a couple of large balls of it from a recent chain-store sale. So I picked needles pretty much at random (size 8 US), and cast on until it seemed about long enough (75 stitches), and started working in linen stitch. I wanted something without much elasticity or looseness to provide a sturdy bottom on the bag. I figured, like with any other variegated yarn, I was taking my chances on the specific color arrangement, and expected a random display. Instead, I got:

How cool is that? The vertical stripes were unplanned, and in fact I don't think I could have done it on purpose.

Sometimes it takes very little to make me happy.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Ravelry BAD... and So, So Good.

Oh, boy.

I have spent hours and hours today on Ravelry, because somehow, for once in my life, I was clued into a new trend relatively early in the process and got my invitation last week.

For the uninitiated: it's like a database/blog/forum/messageboard for all things yarn. And it's dangerous if you happen to have the slightest twinge of anality anywhere in your brain. And oh, I do.

So my stash, except for the dishcloth cotton (one must draw a line somewhere... right?), is online, and I've been able to limit myself to posting only the projects that I've been working on since joining the site. For now. Give me time, the rest will go on there. I have finite self-control.

Dangerous, that place is. Seriously.

Destashing... but Keeping it in the Family

Yesterday, we got pretty new floors in my house - gratuitous floor shots here - and part of the preparation for said onslaught involved emptying the floor of my crafts closet, which is where my yarn lives. So, while it was out, I gave it a critical glare and decided that I was holding onto far too much acrylic that I was just never going to use.

Acrylic has its place, mind you. I'm certain I'll be buying more at some point, because I have children and they have legs and those legs allow them to get dirty. And I really need to throw at least their sweaters, if not the entire children, directly into the washing machine at the end of a busy day. But what I had here was not a collection of sweaters-to-be; it was odds and ends from former projects, some of my own and most of my great-grandmother's, whose stash I inherited in 2005. Bless her heart, but Grandma O loved her some acrylics.

So I decided, last night, that instead of simply returning my stash, unaltered, into the craft closet, I would pare it down, as ruthlessly as possible. Having two sisters who are relatively new knitters and on budgets that have not yet allowed them to become yarn snobs (though Sarah, the college one, has apparently started sniffing out "real" yarn stores... I think she's right on the brink. Mary, the high school one, is still happy with dishcloth cotton and 100% acrylic, and more power to her)... I had a perfect audience for my discards. I'm sending it all home with Mary next week, and have asked that they donate whatever they don't want to a local women's shelter or substance abuse treatment center, both of which use knitting as a hand-occupying productive addiction to replace the anxieties and stresses of leaving behind a difficult lifestyle.

So, farewell, old friends. Have good, useful lives... out of the closet.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Kepler... sort of

Finally! Hooray! A finished project!

Kepler from Fathom Harvill.

Unfortunately, it's not looking, in real life, the way it looked in my head. I substituted yarn, from a wool to an angora-viscose blend... very pretty yarn, but not what the pattern called for.

I think, someday, I'll remake it, as the designer intended. But, for now, it's okay. And I've completed a whole sweater, all by myself.

The full view:

Sleeve/waistband detail:

The ubiquitous headless sweater shot:

Now... off to work on Willem's Aran sweater. I have nothing else to distract myself with, no other excuses for putting it off works in progress.


In very exciting news!

My sister Mary turned to me, this evening, and said those magic words that every knitter longs to hear.

"I want you to teach me how to knit."

And so it begins.

Monday, July 9, 2007

No Knitting Here...

...not right now, anyway. Very soon, within a day or two, I hope to be done with my gray Kepler sweater, and then can dive back into Willem's Aran sweater.

But right this second, my husband and children are away in New York for a week, visiting my mother-in-law, and I'm taking advantage of their absence by working like crazy to redo the kitchen. No structural changes, but the walls have been stripped and repainted and lots of details have been changed. Ssssshhhhh... don't tell Willem, okay? I'm looking forward to his reaction... he knows I'm working on something this week, but he doesn't know what.

It has been a project characterized by two important skills: abandoning pointless pride and learning to accept help graciously when it's offered, and accepting minor imperfections in service of getting to the bigger picture.

So, without further ado... my kitchen, before and after.

The shadow boxes on the table will be mounted to the rear wall tomorrow morning. And the other stuff will get put away, but when I'm tired I get jumpy, so I refuse to go into our unlit breezeway until morning.

The fridge is the last big thing on my to-do list; a new one is being delivered on Wednesday and a plumber is coming to make the ice maker make ice on Thursday. Until then, I have my old and suddenly rusty dinosaur... the moisture seal called an unannounced labor strike last week, so even if I wasn't graced with an empty house for a week in order to make it all pretty, we'd have been fridge-shopping. This way I'll have a kitchen worthy of the newcomer.

Not too shabby for three days' work, I think. And within a day or two (I still need to attack the office, but that's just sorting and organizing, no paint involved) I should be back on the needles.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Look, Ma, No Pattern!

I can't remember where I learned this stitch pattern - it's:
[k2tog, k3, yo, k1, yo, k3, ssk] with a selvedge stitch on each end, so you cast on any multiple of 11 plus 2. But I like it, and the yarn wanted to be in it, so I used the Phildar yarn I bought in France to make a cute little lace sweater... we're going to a 7-year-old's birthday party next week, so Emily is just a temporary model (albeit a cute one!).

I'm pretty proud of the outcome... I enjoy patterns, but successful winging it is just so satisfying!

Phildar Auteuil yarn, Iris colorway - 3 balls
10mm (US size 15) needles for cast on
3.75mm (US size 5) needles for remainder of project
~16 yards narrow polyester ribbon for edging
3.75mm (US F/5) crochet hook for edging

Thursday, May 24, 2007

A Project-to-be

I feel like I've been rather sadly neglecting this blog of late. It's not for lack of knitting, though it is for lack of knitting show-off-able projects, and for lack of finishing much.

For instance, in Paris, I finished a pair of simple stockinette socks for my sister Mary, but they were on Lion Brand Microspun (which I have decided I hate), intended as a way to start an in-the-round project with my other, knitting sister, Sarah. They took about two days, and that's with ripping out several times to accommodate feet which apparently grew over the course of each day. I have a photo of a sock-in-progress, but I never did take a picture of the finished product... I'll try to remember next time I see her, but that could be months.

I did finish one yellow sock for myself, and it's neat. I haven't cast on for the second yet. But I carry it in my purse, just waiting for the proper enforced down-time at work or wherever. Emily does have a softball game tonight...

I've started a sweater for a friend's child, out of Phildar yarn (a result of our French yarn shopping), and her birthday is in a week, so with luck I'll have a finished project to show soon.

I went to the WEBS tent sale last weekend, and picked up a handful of single balls to experiment with, including a Noro Transitions and Noro Silver Thaw on good discounts, some funky hand-dyed ribbon yarn, and a bag of Rowan All Seasons Cotton in the grape colorway. It's just exciting to have, even if I don't actually have plans for it yet... I'll have to take a picture soon.

But the big thing on my mind is a project for which I have ideas, photos and a bag of yarn, but not yet a pattern. I'd decided, before we ever left, that my souvenir of France would be the purchase of yarn that I couldn't get (easily) outside of France, to make a sweater to commemorate the trip - a way of combining a shopping trip with a longer-term hobby, you know? And our first day there, we went to the Opera, and I was inspired by the complex mosaic patterns on the floor. So I want to take these:

...and some of this yarn (the off-white is part-cashmere, yum!): make myself a sweater, in the spirit of a Norwegian skiing sweater, with patterning along the waistline and neckline/shoulders and possibly also the cuffs of the sleeves, and a fairly wide off-white stockinette band in the middle. I haven't had the time and focus yet to sit down and map it out, and I want to finish off a few pending projects so I have more mental space for this one. But soon. Soon.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Continued Cuteness

Honest and truly, I am still working on adult, non-cute things... but they take so much longer. I still have Willem's neverending fisherman's sweater on the needles, and I've recently cast on these socks in a bright yellow Regia Silk 6-ply for myself (Monday night), and this sweater in Angora Soft, also for me (yesterday). I normally try to limit the active projects, or at least I don't cast on two new projects on consecutive nights, but I needed a break from the Aran sweater and wanted to start a small, non-threatening project to do on the plane to Paris next week (!!), and wanted another one, heavy on plain stockinette stitch, to work on in the car this weekend when we go to New York.

What? Me, addicted? You think picking out my knitting projects long before I start packing my clothes is a sign of addiction?

Yeah, me too.

So, that's what's happening. In the meantime, I have finished off a few things, with a week's hiatus to be deathly ill - strep throat and a GI virus at the same time, how lucky am I? I was literally too sick to knit. But I've recovered, and there was much rejoicing.

Let's see... I finished a walrus for Miss Emma...

Then a moose for my sister Mary, who, if she reads this blog, will see her birthday present a day before she gets it. I can cope with that.

And then my first-ever foray into both making something up and writing down the pattern... a little tube dress with i-cord straps, for Lexi, who spends Monday evenings with us and is as cute as a button but much rounder. I did endless searching for "free knitting pattern toddler sundress" and couldn't find quite what I wanted, but Kerrie's Exotic Tank pattern gave me the basic proportions and then I just converted it to circular needles and changed the edges a bit. Only took about 6 hours, start to finish... not too shabby!

Lexi's Sundress (size 2T):

2 skeins Caron Simply Soft, MC=heather, CC=lavender
4.5mm / US 7 circular needle, 24”
Darning needle
Size E/4 crochet hook

5 sts x 4 rows = 1 square inch

MC co 213, pm and join
k 2 rnds
k2tog, k1 1 rnd ----- 142 sts
CC k 3 rnds
MC k2 tog 1 rnd
MC k 5 rnds
CC k 3 rnds
[MC k 6 rnds; CC k 3 rnds] – repeat until piece measures 17” from first CC rnd

Neck shaping:
Staying in stripe pattern:
Next rnd k 51 sts, BO 20
Next “rnd”: BO 20 – now with 31 sts remaining, working back and forth for remainder of project.
All purl rows, p across.
Next k row: k1, k2tog, k25, ssk, k1
Next k row: k1, k2 tog, k23, ssk, k1
Next k row: k1, k2tog, k7, ssk, k1, BO 1, k1, k2tog, k7, ssk, k1 (22 sts remain, 2 straps of 11 sts each)

Left strap shaping:
[p across
k1, k2tog, k to end.]
Repeat until 4 sts remain in this strap.
Switch to i-cord, CC for length of cord – make strap 12” long, thread darning needle and pull end of yarn through live sts, pull tight and weave in end.

Right strap shaping:
[p across
k to 3 sts from end, ssk, k1]
Repeat until 4 sts remain, then complete as right strap.

Using CC and crochet hook, single-crochet edging along neckline. Weave in ends, and apply to nearest size-2T child.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Touch of Cute

Lisa had asked, a while ago, for a hat in a certain pattern... and a few weeks ago, I found myself itching for a quick project. Well, to be honest, what I wanted was to finish something - I was hip-deep in the Clapotis and Willem's sweater but I really, really like having completed objects. So, an hour or so later (and a quick, innocent little trip to the local yarn store) and, viola! A hat!

Pixie Hat pattern, Artful Yarns Serenade in "Chance Are" colorway (about 1/2 skein), #5 needles.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Birthday Lion

My Emily turns 7 on Tuesday. Seven. That's, like, a real person - no way I can get away with calling her a toddler, or even a truly little girl. Sigh.

She requested a stuffed, knitted lion. She helped pick out the colors, but then as far as she knows, I haven't had any more time to work on it...

I hope she likes it!

Pattern from Kath Dalmeny's World of Knitted Toys. Used Peaches 'n' Creme dishcloth cotton for the body (about one ball of yellow and 1/2 ball of off-white), and about 3/4 a hank of Araucania Pehuen in the Peach/Apricot/Strawberry colorway for the mane. Random scraps for the face and toes, and black glittery fabric paint on the paws.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007


I finished my Clapotis late last night, and of course had to stay up later to block it. I've read of many others not blocking theirs, but the drop-stitch ladders seemed uneven and wonky to me, and blocking relaxed and evened them up quite a bit.

And, yippee, oh am I just the happiest ever, we got more snow today. Normally this would be more than enough of an excuse for me to get all cranky, but it actually wasn't a terrible thing... it gave me a good reason to wear my new creation to work!

Without further ado...
Clapotis in Rowan Tapestry, potpourri colorway on size-7 KnitPicks Options.

Photo courtesy of Emily, age almost-7, my Wednesday-night in-house photographer.

Over the weekend, I needed faster gratification than I was getting from the Clapotis or from Willem's sweater, so I threw together a pair of socks for Jacob's 2-year-old toes. He wore just one sock to bed the first night, so I had to stay up late and finish the second one lest the other foot feel neglected. Somehow I don't have pictures of the socks actually on the little toes... ah, well.

Fraternal Twins, Nate pattern on size-3 bamboo double-pointed needles, with Marks & Katten Clown yarn.

And oh by the way, I did finish the entrelac bag I started the other weekend... it just went into immediate use, so I forgot to take a picture before now. Entrelac front, slip-stitched back and strap, in Southwest Trading Company's Karaoke yarn (LOVE this stuff!) on size-8 straight needles.

Whew. Much finishing, it's a good feeling. Now I really, really need to buckle down and finish Willem's sweater, because I just got a big box of yarn from Webs and I promised Willem I would finish his sweater before I start one for myself. This is a serious sacrifice, and being a non-knitter he totally lacks the proper appreciation.