Thursday, August 30, 2007

Drooling...

The other day I was on Ravelry doing my thing and realized that maybe I should spend a little time seeing what other people were doing. I began my poking with a search on Jo Sharp Silkweed Aran yarn, that yarn I made my Steely Winter Set out of.

I might not have made clear how in love with this yarn I am. It feels like heaven knitting. It feels like heaven once it's knit.


A Ravelry member named Andrea is using this yarn on a hibernating project from the Fall issue of Interweave Knits.


Dos_Cable_Shrug1
Originally uploaded by andrea_murley



This project, or type of project would be perfect for me. I love cables, the Silkwood Aran would look beautiful cabled, and the yarn would make a very warm and cozy shawl which I need since my work cube is freezing year round. I think I could design a beautiful shawl in the icy baby blue shade of empire.

Question is do I wait to buy the yarn until I finish some projects or do I splurge now. Since I'll have to buy this yarn on line, I think I'll wait. I just hope waiting doesn't get me burned.

OOOh I love this yarn!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

You've been tagged!

Shannon over at Minerva Turkey, (who is holding out on us with photos of her clapotis WIP!) tagged me for my first meme. The theme of the meme is 8 random things about yourself. Here goes!

8 Random Things About Moi:

1) Although I took French for a hundred years in school I was never very fluent nor ever able to use it conversationally. However, when I'm writing drafts of my blog posts I often think in French and have to constantly check myself to not include French words. I think it would come across as extremely pretentious.

2) At work I hate not being busy all the time. My work product coincides with the fiscal quarters of the year so I have down times in between that drive me nuts. But at home, I hate being busy. There is nothing more delicious to me than a weekend morning where I can contemplate on having absolutely nothing to do except what I want, like reading a book in front of the fireplace or knitting in the sun on my deck.

3) I didn't learn to drive until I was 26 years old and then I only drove once or twice a year when I would rent a car to visit family. I didn't start driving on a regular basis until I was 34, which was 5 years ago. I still can't parallel park and this keeps me from exploring LYSes in my region because they are usually located in dense town centers where you have to park on the street.

4) I like math a lot. Unfortunately my interest is far greater than my aptitude.

5) I hate vegetables. No matter how I have tried over the years I cannot develop a taste for hot, green food. I'll eat salad veggies but that is about it.

6) I have skydived twice. Both times it was tandem, which means I was attached to someone when I dove who did all the work. Both dives occurred in 2001. The first time I dove 10,000 feet in Rhode Island and the second time I dove 15,000 feet near the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Serendipity would have it that the guys who worked out of the RI dive center in summer worked out of the Florida dive center in winter. I went down with the same person both times.

7) I used to love gory movies. I couldn't get enough of it when I was a kid. I used to watch Quincy MD just waiting to see something gory but they never showed a thing. Now I can't stomach gore at all. Although I have gone through cycles where I was addicted to Law and Order and CSI: Las Vegas I can longer stomach seeing the things they show which I would have loved to have seen as a kid.

8) I love growing things but I have a black thumb when it comes to houseplants. I can kinda keep them alive for a little while but I can never make them thrive. Eventually, even if it takes a year or two, the plant will die.

Thanks for the tag, Shannon!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

To the moon, Alice, to the moon!

Finally, finally, finally, I have begun my Blueberry Moon sweater using the Malachite colorway of Rowan 4 Ply soft, which is a fingering weight merino wool. According to Rowan's website it is a washable yarn, so maybe that's why my washed swatched didn't blossom. Hmm....


I was hoping to knit this on size US2 needles. I have a set of two 16" bamboo circulars for the initial knit up but knowing I'm going to need the larger lengths for when I get closer to the bust portion of the garment I hit the web in search of bamboo needles and found zip. Seems like the only market for size 2 and smaller is sock knitting and sock knitters primarily use dpns or metal circulars. I want bamboo. Insert a big WAH!

In fact some of the things I did read about bamboo needles in the smaller sizes echo the complaint that I have with the needles I do have. There is a metal join between the nylon cording and the bamboo needle. It snags at the stitches so that one must manually push the stitches over the join, knit up these stitches, manually push the next set of stitches over the join, knit them up, and so on and so on. Not fun.

So I decided to use (the recommended) size 3 needles instead. In order to knit up the shoulder cuff I wont join the two sides, so I will use size 4 needles on the purl side of the garment to account for my tight purling. I cast on 161 stitches, 2 for selvage and 159 stitches for the p2k1 rib.

At one point I got all in a tizzy thinking I was doing the selvage increases wrong. Instead of frogging the piece then and there, I decided to put it aside until I could think clearer on it. I quickly turned my attention to my Cashsoft Shawl which is going ever so slowly on it's addi turbo needles. At least it looks purdy, eh?


Knitting under fire

I was going to include the following in an 'everything PLUS the kitchen sink' post again, but I decided against it. This should stand alone.

I have a coworker, Mr. W, who isn't the nicest guy. I knew when his group moved in near my group and he became friendly with me that no matter how nice he seemed at first it wouldn't take long before we didn't like each other. I knew immediately that he's the type of guy where things go down in flames between people. The first clue, before I even spent any length of time conversing with him, was that he isn't all that friendly with his group members. The second clue was that like knows like. I'm the type of person who has relationships go down in flames, too. I'm an extreme personality, that's how I roll. Yet I wasn't going to be rude, I would let nature take its course. This time I would keep my guard up so that when the end came it would peter out as naturally and quietly as the friendship had grown.

In the past two weeks it has become obvious that it is time to wind down the friendship. And I share one of the reasons with you because it in involves knitting.

On Friday Mr W wanted to kill some time before the end of the day. I have learned that I represent someone useful to him for this purpose. So he sat down in my cube and pretended to care what I was doing for the weekend. I went along with the ruse and mentioned that I was going to relax all weekend and catch up on my knitting. His response was to discuss countless absurd ways in which we could unravel my knitting. All I could think was why can this man only relate to my favored hobby by finding ways to destroy it?

I sat there mulling this while he cited one bizarre demise after another for my knitting. One example was to attach one end of my knitting to a space shuttle as it takes off. I tried to tell him that the knitted item would burn before it could unravel, considering he wanted to attach it to where the blast off flames blare out, but he was on a roll and barely heard a word I said.

Eventually I asked him point blank why it was that he could only discuss my knitting in terms of destroying it. He really couldn't answer that and the remainder of the conversation devolved into petty little disagreements which drove him from my cube.

Anyone have a horror story of their own in how people respond to their knitting?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Earth Socks

After some bumpy choices, I am moving right along on my husbands Earth socks made in the Earth colorway of Cherry Tree Hill supersock 100% washable merino wool yarn.


I started off using size 2 needles on the 2 x 2 rib cuff for 15 rows but after knitting a few stockinette rows I decided to rip back to the cuff and began the knitting the leg of the sock in size 1 needles.

According to Cherry Tree Hill's colorway cards the Earth colorway I'm using on these socks, as well as the other colorways I've used this summer (Blue/Breens and Brights) are no longer being marketed and I guess this means they're no longer being made? Seems like a great loss to me. I loved these socks I made in the Blue/Green colorway

Friday, August 24, 2007

Knitterly musings

The other day I was googling needles or yarn or something or other and I happened upon an interesting website, Knitter's Review. I was immediately sucked into their yarn reviews and confronted with the rules of yarn engagement of "real" knitters. Specifically, I was reminded that "real" knitters make swatches and wash them and then block them so that they know they are knitting something the "right" way.

When I first took up knitting I was constantly in conflict. Part of me screamed swatches! we don't need no stinkin' swatches! while another part belittled my lazy knitting ways, wishing I had the patience to prepare knitting projects like a "real" knitter.

The rebellious knitter won out and I made a few poorly shaped sweaters. But along the way I also made a couple of nice ones, too, so there wasn't that much incentive to mend my errant ways until recently.

What's brought about this change is being able to see what "real" knitters do via the web. I'm a seeing is believing kinda gal. When I would read "swatch and block", well that's easy to ignore. When I see pictures of bloggers swatching and blocking their work, well I'm all 'lemme get in on it.' Well, the swatching that is. I've never been moved to wash and block until I read the yarn reviews over at Knitter's Review. She had me convinced I was missing out on something, that I wasn't getting the true measure of my yarn.

So over the past few days I made extra swatches and then last night I washed my yarn with ivory soap, as it's all I had on hand, and blocked them with sewing pins. My end results:




Do you see what I see? Well it seems that ironing your swatches kind works just as well as washing and blocking them. At least with these two yarns. Not the best lesson for a lazy knitter to learn, is it? :-)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

And the planning continues...

First things first. I've had many hours of preparatory knitting with the Rowan 4 Ply Soft and I finally have something to show for it. Not a pattern, but a name: Blueberry Moon.

Second things second. I am so longing to start this project. Still. Yesterday, after moaning about my lack of pattern books, I actually had two ideas. One was to check my local library for the Barbara G. Walker books - which yielded three of the four treasuries - and the second was a simple solution to my swatching fears.

Swatching fear happens when one’s need to swatch and test knit meets up with the realization (or irrational fear) that one may not have enough yarn to finish the sweater once one has swatched herself to kingdom come. For this problem I realized test yarn was needed and after work I hit a LYS and found a similar yarn, with the same ‘twist’ as the Rowan 4 Ply Soft.

By solving these two dilemmas so swiftly in succession, I thought I could swatch out my idea and the pattern would magically reveal itself to me. I thought that I could get my hearts desire, that I could design a top-down raglan with an open shoulder seam accented with the mini cable.

I was wrong. My preferred test swatch reveals that the stitches to the left of the increase would be too many.


They would in fact push the increases too far to the left and muck up the simplicity that is the top down raglan pattern:


I shouldn't say it could never be done. I should say it can't be done the way I saw it in my mind, with my meagre knowledge of pattern mechanics. I either have to give up the shoulder seam or the cable in that part of the pattern.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Yearning...

I am soooooooooooo itching to knit another sweater. I have new yarn stashes for this express purpose but I'm floundering. I'm just so picky about patterns.

The problem is I rarely see a pattern I like and that I can actually wear and enjoy. On top of this I hate following directions so who the heck am I fooling even looking at patterns. Just me, it seems. Because really I've been rolling pattern and stitch ideas over in my head since I picked up the yarn two weeks ago and I've got very little to show for it.

I thought this Rowan 4 Ply Soft Malachite yarn was going to be a top-down\raglan sleeved sweater with a buttoned shoulder flap like Jemima which I caught on one of the blogs I've been stalking, My Fashionable Life. In some spare moments I have been swatching stitch increases and also incorporating a small cabling motif, all with little luck.

Seeking inpsiration Sunday, I went through my meagre knitting library and all I got out of it came from the reference guide in Mason Dixon Knitting: The Curious Knitters' Guide. I think I need to pick up the Barbara Walker Treasury of Knitting Patterns books. And I probably need all four volumes. But knowing me, that probably wont happen any time soon.

So I'm off to muse museless some more...

When kids come to play, the yarn gets put away

We had our nephews for a few days and between the preparation in advance of the siege and their actual occupation, very little knitting was done, and only a little was thought about.

Last night I wrapped up the Sweet Tarts Socks.


Yarn:
Cherry Hill Tree Superwash
Fingering weight
100% Merino

Gauge:
I didn't measure my gauge. (Your thinking this wrap up is helpful, aren't ya!)

Needles:
I used size US2 clover bamboo dpns

Sock Pattern:
I used your basic toe-down sock pattern. I cast on 84 stitches and knit in k4,p3. The knit stitches became alternately a left leaning cable and a snake cable.


At about row 24 I began purl stitch decreases. I decreased one purl stitch in a three stitch section every six rows. I offset the decreases so that the second decrease was on the opposite side of the sock as the last decrease. When I began the heel I had made 12 decreases, turning the p3 section of the rib into a p2 rib. There were then 72 stitches on the needle.

Instead of going right into stockinette right prior to the toe decreases, I knit in seed stitch on the top foot panel for three rows. The toe decreases began on the fourth row using all stockinette.

For some reason I did the toe decrease on the third and fourth stitch from the end of the needle, rather than the standard second and third stitch. I'm thinking the wider gusset created may feel more comfortable on the foot than the narrower gusset of the standard pattern. Or maybe not.

I would like to note that on the foot of the second sock I made a few mistakes on one cable. On a left leaning cable I snake cabled for a few repeats and you know what? I didn't care a whit. Normally I would either frog the rows or just reknit the faulty cable, but with this project I was so done with these socks well before I was physically finally done with these socks, that I made a conscious decision to not give a frig and kept knitting.

This yarn was the second to grace my newly acquired yarn swift and ball winder. I questioned in an early blog entry whether the differently tensioned balls would show weaknesses down the line.

Well they did. The looser guage ball fell apart on me halfway through the foot, whereas the tighter ball kept a facsimile of a shape. So there you go.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Everything, including the kitchen sink...

When I asked the hubster to model the steely winter set for me, not only was he a good doobie about it, he reminded me that he should model it with the aran sweater I made him. So sickly sweet, eh?


I'm plugging along on my sweet tarts socks. One sock is done (sans kitchener), and only about 30 rows remain to be knit on the second.


I also did get a half an hour this weekend to work on my burgandy throw. It was so deliciously cool on Saturday, it was a comfort to have it on my lap. (Might I add that I can't seem to get down the spelling, is it burgundy or burgandy? Isn't burgandy a place and burgundy a color? I'm too lazy to google it!)

To make an honest caption out of this post, let me add that yesterday Dunkin' Donuts rudely put caffeine in my coffee, regardless of a clearly stated request to the contrary. I was still pretty amped up, even after partaking of some pharmaceutical relief at 8:45 pm, though the last sip I took was before 4:30 pm! Notwithstanding this valiant effort (and the great risk it subsequently posed to my yarn stash - keep reading!) I didn't fall asleep until well after 1:00 am.

In case you haven't heard certain types of pharmaceutical relief make people do some crazy, crazy stuff. I try to tell the hubster whenever I take it so that he knows to watch that I don't do something out of the ordinary. Well, around 10 minutes after ingestion I got it into my head to whip out the old (read: brand new) yarn swift and ball winder and make Cherry Hill Tree cakes out of the hank of Earth colorway I purchased on Long Island in June. Pitiful aren't they:

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Steely Winter Set Done

The hubster's Steely Winter hat and scarf set is done. It was a great in between, morale boosting project, you know? It worked up fast and gave me a feeling of accomplishment when a host of other projects seem to be languishing on their needles with no end in sight.


Yarn:
Jo Sharp Silk Road
Ravelry considers this an Aran/worsted weight yarn
85% wool, 10% silk, & 5% cashmere,
About 3 and 3/4 skeins at 93 yards per ball, or approximately 349 yards.

Gauge:
Suggested gauge 4.5 stitches per inch on size US8 needles. I didn't measure my gauge.

Needles:
I used size US8 needles. I used a 16" circular for most of the hat until the decreasing made it necessary to switch to four dpns. I used dpns on the scarf, since it was so narrow.

My stitches look fabulous on the hat, but with my tendency to purl tighter, the stitches on the scarf are just a weensy bit pinched looking.

Scarf Pattern:
I love the basketweave stitch and used a 4 stitches by 6 row pattern repeat on the scarf, with total scarf width of five squares or 20 stitches. My husband prefers narrow scarves. I chose the length very scientifically: I stopped knitting when my husband grunted "yep, that's good!"

Hat Pattern:
I cast on 64 stitches and worked in k2p2 for about an inch and a half and then purled two rows before adding in two basketweave sections (12 rows). I then purled two more rows before returning to the k2p2 rib.

I wrapped it up by decreasing one purl stitch every third purl section, knit even, then beginning at the next two purl stitch section began decreasing a purl stitch every seven stitches, knit even, then beginning at the next two purl stitch section decreasing a purl stitch every six stitches, then knit even. I then used the same decrease pattern on the two knit stitch sections. I then ran a yarn tail through the remaining stitches on my needles and wove in the end.

Monday, August 13, 2007

So much knitting, so little time...

Thought I'd be knitting this weekend but then I realized I need to get the house ready for my nephews next week! Lots of laundry and cleaning was done instead.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Road Trip Knitting AAR

We took 128 to I-90 to I-91 to get to Webs last Saturday. I worked on the Sweet Tart socks on the way out of town but was glad to put them to the side after leaving Webs with lots of booty. My knuckles were aching from working on its size 2 dpns.

I immediately swatched up the Rowan 4 Ply Soft yarn I purchased. The color is Malachite (#399). I think this color would be considered a 'jewel' tone. It's luscious in its 100% merino wool goodness.


Not that it's noticeable, I used US size 3 needles to knit/purl the bottom half the swatch. I used size 4 to knit, size 5 to purl on the top half. This latter portion of the swatch looks better, but neither end "feels" right to me. I may try a size 2/size 3 combo to see if this generates the texture I was hoping to obtain with this visually striking yarn.

I have yet to finalize the sweater design I see in my mind for this yarn, so once the swatch was done, I quickly moved on to another yarn I purchased at Webs. By this time, we were on Route 2 and well on our way to the Williams College Museum of Art in Williamston, MA.

This second yarn purchase is of Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran. It is an Aran weight yarn according to it's name but unfortunately that is kinda meaningless to me because I'm still trying to find my way through the quagmire that is yarn weight descriptions. What I can say is that it is thicker than a worsted weight and well shy of bulky yarn. The yarn is a beautiful combination of 85% wool, 10% silk, and 5% cashmere. I chose the color Opal (#110). It glides across my needles with sweet abandon.


I purchased four skeins for a winter hat and scarf set. I had most of the scarf done by Monday but took a break to start and finish up the hat. Hubby tried on the scarf last night and I should be finished by the weekend if I don't get too sidetracked by the 4 Ply Soft sweater project.



This yarn knits up so beautifully in the round, my only regret is that it would be too heavy for a sweater for my plump frame. It's gorgeous to look at, to touch, and of course, to knit.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Road Trip Recuperation

I'm at home recuperating from the whirlwind roadtrip with a new project and several episodes of Showtoo's Big Brother After Dark today. It's sooooo good to be home.

This is the top of Brandon Gap (road elevation 2144 feet about sea level) on Route 73 in Vermont. I just love the Green Mountains!

Friday, August 3, 2007

Ravelry Invite Arrives...

And just in time for me to be away for the weekend. Wah!

The blues are back...

I was head over heels excited last week when I mapped out an itinerary across Massachusetts for our trip to the Adirondacks to see my dad and neices. Now that I'm on the cusp of it all I'm mopier than heck. I hate this.

Tomorrow is supposed to be a fantabulous summer road trip/shopping extravaganza and all I have to show for it is intestinal disruption.

We are supposed to go to Webs (my first time eva!) Then we are supposed to hit the flagship Yankee Candle store in South Deerfield, where we like to stock up on xmas presents, and then take Route 2 over to the Williams College Museum of Art to see the Sarah and Gerald Murphy exhibit. I've never been out to this corner of Mass and I'm expecting it to be resplendent in it's summer garb.

Now all I need is a good mood. Until that shows up I figure I'd take this opportunity to post a picture of my best knitted work ever, an aran sweater I designed for my husband and finished knitting on January 1, 2006.


I'm particularly proud of this object because I designed the aran panel. I also improved upon the knitted directions for the centerpeice cable. The Harmony guide directions for the set of two 12 stitch cables were convoluted and unattractive. I would up doing the cable by converting each 12 stitch cable into three basic c4's. For some knitters this is all in a day's work, but for me, well it was kind of an evolutionary step forward.

The cable pattern on the left (below) is from Elsebeth Lavold's Viking Patterns for Knitting. I am totally won over by her increase stitch technique to counter the increased tension of cable stitching.


The overall sweater shape pattern was from Ann Bud's Knitter's Handy Book of Pattern. And I'd like to add that this book contains the best guide to the kitchener stitch I've found to date.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Color

Back in my early crochet, pre knitting, days I was primarily inspired by filet crochet designs in your basic white. Color was very daunting to me. The first, pricey colored yarn I purchased about 12 or so years ago was Brown Sheep cotton fleece from Woolcott & Co. in Harvard Square. With it I made this floppy, but colorful granny square throw (my first CIP, courtesy of the #66 bus):


I was so in awe of this color combination, and with my coming up with it on my very own. To this day I haven't really had a color inspiration I felt was equal to it. And yeah, the combination no longer inspires, but I will never forget how it once evoked a sense of perfect warmth that made me want to bury myself in it forever.

Down through the years I have come to learn this bit of color inspiration was a fluke. I just don't have an easy rapport with color. The next best color combination I came up with just barely nips at the heel of the granny throw. It is the color array of my first knitted work ever, a hat, scarf, and fingerless glove set I knit about five years ago. Here is the hat:


I knit this with Cascade 220 wool yarn. As you would expect, the color combination no longer pops out at me as it once did, and within a few years I may find the color selection abhorrent, but for the first few years I wore this set with immeasurable pride.

Unfortunately, my color sense has been in the descendent while the fashion of color multiplicity has been in the ascendent. I am so overwhelmed. And when overwhelmed I tend to retreat to the safety of using one color, of which all of my current WIPS exemplify with the exception of the variegated yarn of my Sweet Tart socks. And this, itself, is telling.

This following yarn choice underscores my inability to choose color properly. I loved the way this Cherry Hill Tree yarn looked like this:


but am less impressed with how it looks like knit up:


The wine hue in the colorway, which seemed so benign in it's skein state, has overwhelmed the preferred russet, granny apple green, and yellow hues. I am so frustrated by my natural inability to foresee color transmutations. Therefore, I am sooooooooooooooo envious, and prone to drool I must add, when I look at the color choices I see out in the blogosphere.

When I first started prowling the knitblog scene I came across a most perfect specimen of color integration at the blog Bag 'n' Trash.

When I first set eyes on this chevron scarf* I returned to the state I experienced when I first crocheted my granny square throw. I have no facility to express how fantabulous I think this color combination is, nor how color effects my sense of being. It almost feels as if as long as I look at this beautiful object, all is right in the world. Weird, but true.



As I've continued to read Maryse's blog, I continue to be in awe of her color sense, as well as her amazing photography skills.

What inspired this blog entry, this self-reflection on color, however, was the following WIP* found at the Chevron Scarf Knitalog blog, as well as at the knitter's personal blog, Minverva Turkey.


I would never ever dream of putting these two colors together. I look at the two cakes sitting next to each other and quite honestly think, uh, yuck. But when I see them knitted up in this beautiful scarf, I'm bowled over by how beautifully the colors compliment each other and once again I'm feeling all is right in the world.

I can only dream of having the color sense of these two bloggers. I have resigned myself to being a color vampire, to finding inspiration in my fellow bloggers rather than being a wellspring of color coordination myself. But at the risk of waxing melodramatic, I do think there are far worse fates in life than being a color dummy. Wouldn't you agree?

*I would like to take this opportunity to thank Maryse over at Bag 'n' Trash and Shannon at Minverva Turkey and the Chevron Scarf Knitalog for allowing me to reprint their work here. Thank you ladies for your consent, and for the inspiration!
 

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