February 28, 2007

Dragon Scarf Finished

I've finished the Dragon Scarf for my 3 year old nephew. I bought this kit online from Morehouse Farm.

This was a really fun knit. It's worth buying this kit and making the scarf just to see how those spikes along the dragon's back are made. I found it cool every single time I made one. I am easily amused, but I swear it's a nifty technique.

The Morehouse Merino yarn was nice to work with. When it came time to join the other ball of yarn, I did a very successful "spit join". I didn't actually spit on the yarn, though you certainly can, but just dunked the two ends in some water and then rubbed the ends together in my hand. The ends felted together very easily and almost invisibly. The join is completely invisible now it's knitted up and I didn't have any extra ends to weave in. Love that!

I think this scarf is so cute. I can't wait to give it to my nephew. (We fly out there tomorrow.) With any luck, I'll get some pictures of him wearing the scarf, but I'm not counting on it. They move pretty fast at that age.

February 27, 2007

Pea Pod Update

I finally bit the bullet and went to Toys R Us to look for a nerf ball to use as a round, hat-blocking surface. I felt a bit like Goldilocks. This ball is too big, this one is too small... Unlike Goldilocks, I didn't find one that was just right. But the too small one is working nonetheless and I didn't get chased by bears, so all is well.

I've got the ball resting in a large, green, plastic, drinking cup because the bottom of the hat comes down over the ball. This way it can hang down straight. (I don't know why, but that picture makes me think of ice cream cones.)

The matching sweater is all seamed up. Here's a sneak peak:

There aren't any shoulder seams because I grafted them. I'm so pleased with how that came out, I may never seam a shoulder again.

When everything is dry, I'll take pictures of the whole set.

February 24, 2007

That's a Wrap!

I love my Forest Canopy Shawl.

Yarn: Filatura Di Crosa, Trilly. 50% Cashmere, 50% Silk. Sadly Discontinued.

Needles: 36" Circular US 5

Gauge: Approx. 5 stitches per inch.

Mods: Continued working pattern repeat until there were 323 stitches on the needle to make shawl bigger

Finished Measurements: 62" across wingspan. 29" down back.

This may just be my favorite thing I've ever knitted.

February 23, 2007

Current WIP

As promised, here's what I'm working on now:

You don't know what that is? Here's another picture:

Still seems weird? Well check this out:

So cool, right?

This is Morehouse Farm's Dragon Scarf. I'm making it for my 3 year old nephew. He loves all things dinosaur, dragon, monster, etc. I'm going to see him next weekend. I should have it finished by then.

February 22, 2007

Forest Canopy Shawl Blocking

Sock Madness begins March 10th.

This fast-approaching date is turning out to be a powerful motivator. I want to finish as many projects as possible before I throw myself into the sock competition.

I have more or less finished the Pea Pod set in Blue. The sweater is done, done. (I'll have pictures soon.) But I still need to block the hat. I've gotten fixated on my idea of using a nerf ball as a round blocking surface. I think I'm going to need to go to Toys R Us to find a suitable one. I have a Toys R Us near my house, but I'm procrastinating going because I find that store always to be a bit of a hassle.

And I have basically finished my Forest Canopy Shawl.

Here it is blocking.

Isn't it pretty?

I'll get some action shots when I unpin it and clip those ends.

I loved making this shawl. I loved it so much, I'm actually a little sad it's over. The pattern is wonderful. This was my first, triangular shawl. It was not exactly my first lace, but if feels like my first, proper, lace shawl. I should mention that this is actually the third time I've finished this pattern. But this one pictured here was the first one I started. I cast on back in November. I got going and was instantly in love with the pattern. When I decided to keep this one for myself, I put it aside and made two others as Christmas gifts for my Mom and MIL. The two I gave away were made at a larger gauge, so there were fewer pattern repeats to get them the size I wanted. But this one, I made with DK weight yarn, on size 5 needles, getting about 5 spi. I did the main pattern repeat 19 times. It has blocked out to about 62" across the wingspan and 29" down the back. That was about the barest minimum size I wanted for this. I suppose I could have done one or two more pattern repeats to get it to about 64" across. But at well over 300 stitches per row, each repeat was taking a long time and using lots of yarn. And as I said up top, I've got Sock Madness breathing down my neck. I'm going to need to wrap up in this lovely, finished shawl to knit socks!

Oh, and the yarn. I must tell you about the yarn. Gorgeous, yummy, Filatura Di Crosa Trilly. 50% Cashmere, 50% Silk. Sadly, this yarn has been discontinued. I got it at half price when Webs had it on closeout. It's all gone from Webs now, but I think there's still some out there on Ebay. It is so beautiful and soft with perfect sheen and drape. The color is a soft heathery teal color. I think it's neutral enough to wear with lots of things, but distinct enough to stand out as special. So while I'm sad to no longer be knitting this shawl, I'm thrilled to pieces to have the FO all for me!

Between the perfect pattern and the perfect yarn, I found this shawl to be really wonderful "comfort" knitting. The pattern was simple enough to memorize, but complex enough to hold my attention. I found I could knit on it and maintain a conversation at the same time. Yet when I was working on it quietly and alone, I did not feel bored. I enjoyed watching the shawl grow and feeling the soft yarn slipping through my hands. I enthusiastically recommend both this pattern and this yarn.

Tomorrow, I'll tell you about what I'm working on now.

February 17, 2007

What Have I Done?

I'll tell you what I've done. I've sent in my e mail application to play SOCK MADNESS!

I think I must be crazy. If my application is accepted, I'll be in a speed knitting competition to knit seven (7!) pairs of socks. And here's the kicker, none of them will fit me. To keep the competition fair, all players will be knitting the same patterns to the same specs (number of stitches and repeats). All the patterns accommodate an average adult woman's foot. My feet are smaller than average. The rationale as to why I'm okay with this is that all these socks (all seven!) will be lovely gifts for someone, someday.

For the record, I blame Jo for bringing Sock Madness to my attention. She blogged about it and I just couldn't help but go check it out. I was tempted to sign up and I told her so. Then she blogged again about how we all must join and called me (and others) out specifically. We must join! It's just too much fun not to! No one cares that we all always have too many WIP's and plans for future projects to take on anything new. It's madness! It says so right there in the name!

So there I was, trying to ignore the temptation, trying to ignore Jo's infectious enthusiasm. "I'll just have fun watching from the sidelines," I told myself. When somehow...mysteriously...my hands just typed up the application. They typed that sucker up and hit the send button. See how the madness works?

It really is too much fun not to join.

So now I'm on pins and needles waiting to hear if I get in.

For the sake of this competition, perhaps it will be best if my hands continue to operate independent of my mind. They're the ones who've signed me up for this, they're the ones who've got to do the knitting. They better not come crying when some fair isle or complicated lace starts throwing its weight around.

UPDATE: My applications was received and accepted. It is ON!

February 16, 2007

Need to Finish the Finishing

I've been clicking along on my Pea Pod set. Here's my current status:

Body and sleeves have been blocking. They're dry and ready to be un-pinned I just haven't done it yet. I left the shoulder stitches live on holders so I can graft the shoulders instead of seaming them. I don't think it makes a great deal of difference on this sweater, but I'm trying to be a more diligent finisher in general and grafting shoulder stitches is something I want to do more often. I think it does make a difference on adult sweaters.

Another example of my being a more diligent finisher is all the pins. I used to use the barest minimum of pins. Pure laziness. This time, more pins!

All the knitting and weaving in of ends is done on the hat, but I need to block that little guy.

Now I just need to fight the urge to procrastinate the final finishing. The recipient of this sweater had a due date of this coming Monday. He arrived a little early and I felt bad I didn't have the set ready for him. So I'm going to give myself this weekend to finish the finishing. It might be cute to give him the gift on the day that was supposed to be his birthday.

February 13, 2007

My Hats Are Off

I packaged up hats to be sent out into the world today. I wish them godspeed. May they bring a smile to someone's face.

First up are these which I made for a pair of twins. Because even twins can be like apples and oranges.

The red and orange MC is Blue Sky Cotton. All I can tell you about the green and brown CC is that it was random stash yarn. I didn't follow any pattern for these. I once saw a picture of an apple hat like that online, but I just used what I had to get the same look. The orange hat was my own idea. It's just a beanie style hat in seed stitch. I did follow directions for the leaves, but for the life of me, I can't remember where the directions came from, sorry. (I made these hats months ago. I'm a slacker for only sending them now.)

Then there are the Fun Fur hats. Kate at Minestrone Soup has been collecting hats for Children's Hospital Boston. It's a lovely cause. Here's my small bit to help out. Two No Hair Day hats of green fun fur. And one Mohawk hat of my own design. The Mohawk hat is green Fun Fur and Blue Sky Organic Cotton.

As modeled by my DH, Chris. He was very insistent that the picture not include his face. (He's so cute, even when you can't see his face.)

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! Whatever your feelings about this holiday, I hope your day is filled with happiness. Or at least chocolate.

February 10, 2007

Pea Pod Progress

I've cast on for the Pea Pod Baby Set using the light blue Paton's Supersoft.

Here's my progress so far:

See my cutie little red car buttons? I'm attatching them as I go to save sewing them on later.

I saw this tip on Knitty Gritty not too long ago. I thought it was a great idea and was really excited to give it a try. This technique can be used for incorporating beads into knitting. But it also works on shank style buttons.

First, you slide the button onto an itty bitty crochet hook. It's upside down here so it will be right side up when I slide it onto the knitting.

Here's the view of the back of the crochet hook. You can see the red shank of this button against the white back.

You knit to the stitch where you want the button to sit. The next stitch up on my LH needle is where this button is going to go.

Using your crochet hook, you remove the stitch from the needle onto the hook.

You then slide the button down the hook and right over the loop of the stitch.

Then place the stitch back onto the LH needle.

Knit the stitch as you normally would. This might be a little tight and fiddly because the button is there now, but just press on.

Now I have four buttons.

This technique works really well on this pattern because the seed stitch button bands are built right in and also because the fronts and back are knit as one piece. So I'm just attaching the buttons on the other end of each button hole row. It should all line up perfectly at the end.

February 9, 2007

Change of Management

Mel Clark, owner of Wildfiber, and author of Knit 2 Together has sold the store and is relocating to New Zealand. She bought wildfiber six years ago. It was a fiber arts studio back then, mostly focusing on weaving and dyeing. She turned it into the warm, friendly, classy and very well-stocked LYS it is today.

We're going to miss you, Mel!

The silver lining is that Wildfiber has been bought by one of its loyal customers, Natasha Shapiro Hopkins. I met Natasha today and she is delightful. She loves knitting and loves the store. It seems that she is living her dream becoming the owner of an incredible yarn store.

And at least I got Mel to sign my book.

February 7, 2007

Let's Talk About Sox, Baby

Until very recently, I had never knit a single pair of socks. In the Muggle vs. Knitter debate on whether knitting socks is a worthwhile endeavor, I must say, I agreed with the Muggles. I just did not see the point. In fairness, I live in a warm climate where you don't necessarily need wool socks, hand knit or other, but I digress.

However, the more I saw, read, thought about knitting socks, a crack in my thinking began to grow. It was NOT that I had an epiphany wherein I suddenly saw the virtue of hand knitting socks. I was still pretty firm in seeing sock knitting as a waste of my knitting time. But I started to think of sock knitting as a knitterly right of passage. I was getting the creeping suspicion that if I were to be a true Knitter, I'd have to knit at least ONE pair of socks. I decided to make a pair so I could say I'd done it and then it would all be over and I could go back to sweaters. I even asked for the yarn as a gift so I didn't have to pay for it myself.

Here they are, my first pair:

Yarn: Lorna's Laces, Shepherd Sock, Safari Colorway
Needles: US 2 DPN's (started with bamboo but one got bent so I switched to aluminum)
Pattern: Step-by-Step Cheat Sheet for Socks from Knitting Rules!
Result: Cute but too big. The sizing problem is purely operator error. I know I have small feet and willfully did not adjust for that. I knew I probably should have used US 1 DPN's but I wasn't acclimated to the small yarn and needles and I wussed out. And I had some problems with ladders which messed with my guage. But I did improve as I went. The second sock is better than the first one.

Flushed with a sense of accomplishment upon completion, I thought, "maybe this sock knitting thing is kinda fun after all..." I also thought, "I can do better. I WILL do better."

Here, then, is my second pair:

Yarn: Cherry Tree Hill, Supersock, Serengeti Colorway
Needles: US 1 DPN's (I dipped my toes and found the water to be fine)
Pattern: K2, P2 Rib using the Yarn Harlot's no pattern sock recipe also from Knitting Rules!
Result: Much better! Smaller needles, fewer stitches, ribbing, and starting the toe decreases earlier means these socks actually fit me.

I'm going to give them away.

I actually knew from the get-go these would be a gift. A colleague of mine (a non-knitter) whose feet are about my size (smaller, if anything) got me a job not too long ago. It was a good job and hopefully will lead to more like it. I needed a worthy way to thank her. I overheard her say she's looking for thin, wool socks. She'd only been able to find those thick wool socks to wear with hiking boots. Ah Ha! A reason to knit socks! Also I gotta say, bless her soul for knowing that if warmth is what you want, wool is where it's at.

So there you have it. I've now knit two whole pairs of socks. So is that it? Is it all over with me and the socks? Well...it seems that I've bought this:

Lorna's Laces, Shepherd Sock, Glenwood colorway

Which somehow turned it to this:

It's official. My adventures in sockland have shown me there are reason's to knit socks, sock knitting is fun and socks are pretty much the perfect port-o-project. Clearly I've changed sides in the Muggle vs. Knitter sock debate.

Still, there is no way I'm giving up on the sweaters.

February 5, 2007

Monday Blues

It's the yarn that's blue. Not me. I feel great today, why thank you.

I'm about to start my next project. I'm going to make the
Pea Pod Baby Set again. I made it last month in green with pink heart buttons for a brand new baby girl (see yesterday's post for picture). I used Classic Elite Inspiration which is 50% Cotton, 50% Cashmere. It's spectacular yarn, especially for a baby because it's so smooth and soft. It's delightful to work with and has fantastic stitch definition.

This time I'm making the set for a brand new baby boy. The yarn will be blue. Don't get the wrong idea. I'm not one of these uber-traditionalists who insists on pink for girls and blue for boys. I think lots of colors can be completely adorable for all children. So it's not that this set must be blue for the sake of blue. Instead it just happens that the two good yarn options I have for this sweater are blue. And the blue really will be a very cute foil for the leaf lace pattern.

My problem is that I'm struggling to decide which yarn to use.

Option #1, Patons Supersoft, 62.5% Cotton, 37.5% Acrylic:

This was my original plan. I scored this yarn off my mom who admitted she was never going to use it and did I want it? (Did I want it? Uh, yeah. Free yarn? Gee twist my arm.) So anyway, I swatched with this yarn (washed the swatch and everything) and decided it would be perfect. But then I recieved as a Christmas gift (also from Mom. I have a great mom.)...

Option #2, Classic Elite Inspiration, 50% Cotton, 50% Cashmere

And well, as I may have mentioned (ahem) I love this yarn. Plus I love that deeper blue. It's a less traditional baby blue (not that there's anything wrong with traditional, of course.)

Here they are, competing for attention. Naughty, naughty boys, turning me all around, confusing me with their pros and trying to distract me from their cons.

The Classic Elite is a color that pleases me and a yarn that delights me. High quality yarn makes for a high quality gift. And I don't have to be the one who hand washes it after the baby pukes on it.

The Patons is a cute color. It's fine to work with. It's machine washable.

Do you see where I'm going here? The Classic Elite is the selfish choice. The Patons is the considerate choice. Brand new parents will appreciate machine washable. Their not knitters. They don't know from "drape" and "stitch definition".

I really should use the Patons. And hey, at least I got to make the green one in the Classic Elite.

February 4, 2007

First Post

Well helloooo there blogosphere. Yes, yes this is yet another knitting blog. There are tons of them, right? I mean, really, you simply can't keep up with all of them. So why am I starting one? 'Cause I wanna, that's why. Well, that, and also it seems to me like the internet knitting community is one of the nicest places to be. Everybody is so friendly and supportive and helpful. Knitters are some of the kindest and most generous people in the world. A quick perusal of the knitting blogs and that comes through loud and clear. It's beautiful. So, basically, I want in on the fun. Take out your knitting and stay won't you? I'll try to make it worth your while.

Now. Let's get down to the good stuff: FO's! Here's me, happy to have finished my red sweater for the Red Sweater KAL. The design is my own. The yarn was Lanna Gatto Feeling which is so yummy and wonderful.

I want to continue to improve my design skills. But I also love following patterns. Especially when the designer is someone as genious as Kate Gilbert. Here is my Pea Pod Baby Set. I used Classic Elite Inspiration. Wonderful pattern. Wonderful yarn. Okay, I'm gushing and since I don't think I'm capable of toning down the awe, I'm just gonna stop talking about it now.

In future posts, I'll discuss other FOs, WIPs, plans, all of it.

I leave you now with a wonderful alternative to the Super Bowl: The Puppy Bowl