Thursday, April 24, 2008

I'm In Love

With yarn.  Shocking, I know.

I just had to gush about my recent purchase that came in the mail today.  Just look at at!

(all photos taken with permission from TheyToldMeSew's flickr page)

Have you ever seen anything so beautiful?  I bought it from TheyToldMeSew at her Etsy shop.  It is roughly 215 yards of handspun delicious in a heavy worsted/bulky weight.  I have never felt yarn like this, and it is wonderful.  I wouldn't classify this yarn as being soft and squooshy, but it is definitely a sturdy feeling yarn and I hesitate to say stiff, but it feels like it has a lot of substance, if that makes sense.  I am very pleased with it.  Now all I have to do is think of something to make with it.  What does one make with yarn that looks like this anyway?

Until I figure that out, it will just have to be on display.  My first piece of art!

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Dashing Impulse

I think I have learned a lot about myself as a knitter over this past week.  Here are a few things that I have come to realize:
  1. Although I may have multiple projects going at once, it has been proven impossible for me to work on more than one at a time.  I tend to ignore most - if not all - of my WIPs for one reason or another (see following realizations).
  2. I get bored with projects quickly.  This becomes a particular problem when it is a gift knit, such at the baby sweater I have yet to finish for my nephew (all it needs is a sleeve.  WHY CAN'T I KNIT ONE FREAKIN' SLEEVE?!).  I lost interest in my Hemlock Ring Blanket while in the middle of the bind off, and I have a lace project dating back to last June that has been sitting patiently in the bottom of a drawer, waiting for me to get back to it (which I will soon, I promise).
  3. Sometimes a quick, simple knit is the best kind.  And with this third point, I present to you my first true impulse knit - Dashing.

This project marks the first time that I have ever grabbed a skein of yarn and knit up a random pattern for the sole purpose of making something quickly to soothe my restless knitting mind.  It felt great!

Started: April 16, 2008,  Finished: April 20, 2008
Yarn: Almost 1 full skein of Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece in "Willow Leaf"
Needles: Knitpicks Options, size 5 (3.75mm)
Pattern: Dashing, from Knitty, Spring 2007
Size made: Larger

I modified the pattern a tiny bit to use thumb gussets instead of, well, instead of doing what the pattern told me to do.  Cotton Fleece may not have been the best yarn choice for wrist warmers because it is, as the name implies, cotton, but I had the yarn, I had the needles, and I had the urge to knit, so I went with it.  I'm not sure how often I'm going to wear these, but I do like them and they were a wonderful way to use yarn that was sitting in my stash and to distract me from my WIPs for a few days.

I plan to try to finish most of my WIPs before starting any new, long-term projects.  I like the idea of not having anything looming over me while I knit on something that interests me.  I think this week I discovered that although knitting multiple projects at a time sounds wonderful, it may not be the most practical or realistic thing for me to do.  Hopefully armed with this new knowledge I will be able to tackle my pile of projects and start something new and wonderful very shortly.

As I said previously, I have yet to finish my Hemlock Ring Blanket, which means that my friend won the friendly competition we were having to see who could finish first.  This is her beautiful creation:

The color is actually much more wonderful in person.  It is Knitpicks WOTA in Lake Ice Heather.  I will include details of the pattern and yarn and needles and all that good stuff when I post about my blanket.

Until next time, happy knitting!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Long Time, No See

I can't believe that it has been almost a month since my last post.  It makes me sad to say that I haven't been doing very much knitting during this time, although I sure have been thinking about it a lot!  I kept waiting to post until I had more FOs to show, but it doesn't look like that is going to happen anytime soon, so I thought this would be a nice little (picture-filled) update about how I have been able to occupy my time with knitting without having anything to show for it.  :)

To start out, I finally finished those Blue-Stripey Socks that I am in love with, and I am still in love with them!  I think I got a bit too excited to finish the second one and may have started the toe a few rows before I should have, so it is a bit snug, but that's no problem.  I also had no intention of trying to line up the stripes.

I took a few pictures to show the cuff and those fun loose stitches where the gusset meets the instep, aren't they cute?  Here's how it went down:

Started: February 11, 2008,  Finished: April 1, 2008
Yarn: 1 and 1/2 skeins of Knitpicks Felici sock yarn in "Atmosphere"
Needles: Knitpicks Harmony DPNs, size 0 (2.00mm)
Pattern: Basic sock construction (more detail below)
Finished Size: To fit my feet, I wear size 12 shoes

I loved knitting these socks.  I thought I would be extremely bored knitting socks in plain stockinette, but I was always excited for the next color change and I actually enjoyed that I could bring them anywhere and kind of zone out while I was knitting because there was no pattern.  For the cuff I knit 15 rows in a twisted rib (k1tbl, p1) and then I knit ten rows in plain stockinette before I started the heel flap.  I did the heel flap in a heel stitch with three stitches of garter on either side for ease of picking up stitches for the gusset later on.  All in all I think these socks are amazing.  They are super soft and comfortable and seem to come with their own heat source.  It's a bit strange, but they instantly warm my feet when I put them on.  Wonderful!  I knit most of the second one while on another tour around the Midwest.  I knit in Wisconsin and Iowa and Nebraska...  What a great way to spend 23 hours on a bus, I'll tell ya.

Down below I have what one would call a "swatch".  That's right, I made one.  After seeing BrooklynTweed's version of Elizabeth Zimmermann's Saddle-Shoulder Aran Cardigan I had to make one of my own.  Of course, the pattern was more a set of guidelines.  I liked the cables that Jared used on the back of his cardigan better than the ones in the pattern, but being new to all of this I couldn't figure out how they were made and so I went searching through my knitting books to find any cables that I liked that I could incorporate into the pattern.  I think I did pretty well.

I am so glad that I knit this swatch.  It was kind of a pain because I decided the best thing to do would be to draw out the entire chart for the swatch.  This was, of course, after figuring out my "key number" and planning out the entire layout of my sweater.  Well, I knit the swatch, washed and blocked it, and measured it.  Turns out it was 4" smaller than I had predicted!  No big deal.  After a mini panic-attack, I did the math and figured out that I was going to have to add 46 more stitches to my sweater.  I simply decided to make some of the cables larger and put more filler stitches in between them.

Who knew that planning to knit a cabled cardigan as your second sweater based on nothing more than a few sketches and a sparse set of directions would be so... (time consuming, difficult, stressful) fun?  I think I can finally actually cast on to knit this thing, which I'm really looking forward to.  I haven't really planned out the sleeves or any of that stuff yet, but at this point I think I'm just going to go with it and figure out how to make it work when I get there.  The cardigan is knit in the round and then uses a steek to open it up.  The swatch was annoying because I had to do cables on the wrong side, which just confused me.  I am not longer using a cable needle and there will be no more of that wrong-side-cable-knitting for me!  The color of the swatch is actually just leftover from when I knit BrooklynTweed's Cobblestone Pullover.  I'm knitting this cardigan in a nice dark brown color and it is going to be amazing, just you wait!  I'm done redrawing the larger cable patterns and am hopefully going to cast on sometime this week.  More updates soon!  (I hope...)

Speaking of BrooklynTweed, I am still chugging along on that Hemlock Ring Blanket.  It is taking a rest right now as one of my Knitpicks harmony tips had a bit of a malfunction and I need to wait for the replacements to arrive.  I suppose it happened at a good time, as it let me spend my time planning out this wonderful cardigan that I am most likely going to be working on through the hot summer days (what poor planning).
I don't think these have been seen yet.  They are some cabled socks that I knit for my brother so that I could get more experience knitting socks and doing cables.  Of course, I used a cable needle the entire time, which took a while, but I'm glad that I am free of that now.  The socks are knit out of Knitpicks Ambrosia (which is now discontinued), and it is a blend of 80% baby alpaca and 20% cashmere.  So, as you might imagine, I was a bit horrified to come home for my spring break to see them lying on the floor - pilling, covered in dirt stains, and being chewed on by my dog.  Turns out my brother had just worn them on walk along the Mississippi River.  This is what they look like now.  I have no before picture to show how wonderful they once were (although they don't look entirely bad now.  They just need to be washed and pampered.)  I guess when he said he wanted nice, soft, warm, thick socks to wear around the house he was really hoping for a pair of sturdy, thick hiking socks.  I'm using wool next time.  ;)

To finish it off, here are a few action shots of those hideous green things that I made for my sister.  The verdict?  She LOVES them!  She wore them for four days straight and kept talking about how warm and comfortable they were.  It almost makes me feel bad for instantly throwing away all of the extra yarn that I had, but not bad enough to take it back out of the trash.  I can't wait until I make her some socks out of yarn that is actually nice.

Happy Tuesday!