Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Oops, I Did It Again!

That right, I bought more yarn.   I couldn't help it.  It was a beautiful day, it was actually warm for once (the snow was even melting if you can believe that), the sun was shining, I had a plan free morning, and I could use a walk.  All of this meant that it was time to go to the yarn store (even though I had been there three days previously).  Here is what I came back with:

Eight balls of Rowan Handknit Cotton in Lupin (whatever that is) and four balls of Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece in Willow Leaf.  Why the sudden obsession with cotton?  Well, the fine ladies at Iris Fine Yarns (ha, I didn't even plan that) are hosting a fun little event in honor of Earth Day, which is on April 22.  The idea is to knit or crochet a market bag to use when you go shopping instead of taking the paper/plastic bags in the store.  They are asking that people make these bags and then bring them into the store during the month of April to have them displayed.

Of course, when I first heard about this a few days ago when I went to Iris, I thought 1. that I didn't have time to do that and 2. I didn't have the money to buy the yarn.  Naturally, I went back to my dorm room and instantly began planning how I was going to make my bag.  Well...I couldn't decide, so I'm making two - neither of which are going to incorporate any of my knitting goals for 2008, but I do plan to learn a new skill with each.  One is going to incorporate a provisional cast-on and the other is going to... hmm.... well, it's going to have cables and seaming.  Two things I do need to work on.

Iris Fine Yarns is also putting together a pattern collection for all of the bags that people make and are asking everyone to sign a board saying that you pledge to take no plastic bags from store check-out areas during the month of April AND to recruit an additional person to make a similar commitment.  So there you go, that is why I now have 1,600 yards of cotton yarn.  OH YEAH!  That's another thing I have never done, knitting with plant fibers.  YES!

I included this picture for no reason other than the fact that it made me happy as I was walking to the yarn shop this morning.  Hooray for fun children and the wacky things that they do!

I'm sure you are all dying for an update about my knitting, so here it is:

I finished my sock.  Yes, singular sock.  I love it so much and it fits so perfectly and this whole sentence has to be read really fast in one breath to understand my excitement and it is so soft and I love it the end.  I love this sock so much that I vowed not to start the second one until I finish my nephew's sweater and my little sister's sock.  I hope that is enough incentive to get them done.

Here's a project you haven't seen before.  I actually knit this over Winter break and it is technically my first FO of 2008.  It is a fun little neck scarf, the materials for which I got from my wonderful sister as a Christmas present.

I have yet to sew on the buttons, which is what has prevented me from posting about it or putting it up on ravelry, but since I can STILL not decide on which buttons to use (boo for choices), I decided it was time to acknowledge its presence.

Here are the stats:

Started: 12-27-07, Finished: 1-20-08
Yarn: 4 skeins of Elsebeth Lavold Silky Cashmere in black (55% silk, 45% cashmere)
Needles: One size 5 and one size 7 Brittany 10" straight needle
Pattern: Simple weave pattern that I do not know specifically where it came from
Buttons: Um... brown wood?
Finished Size: 5" x 24"

This scarf took me a while because I tended to pick it up and knit one or two rows at a time, or I would just not work on it at all for maybe a week at a time.  Oh, and just a note about this yarn.  It doesn't have very much (if any) stretchiness when knitting with it and the finished fabric is pretty stiff, but after blocking - oh my gosh.  I didn't think I would ever say this and I am already making fun of my dorkiness, but it has such an elegant drape!  I'm having a hard time believing that it is the same scarf that I remember knitting a few months ago.  And duh, it's super soft and warm.

And finally, just so you don't think I have again been ignoring the wonderful Duffle Coat for my nephew Xander, here is an updated picture.

I finished the hood!  It was actually a lot more knitting than I expected.  I even weaved (wove? have woven?) in all the ends thus far because they were driving my crazy.  I now just have to knit the sleeves and have a fun little seaming party (with myself and most likely The Sound of Music to keep me company).  Apparently I am incapable of sewing on buttons, so the ones you see above are also simply sitting on top of my knitting rather than being part of the project.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Knitting Goals

Alright, so my orchestra tour was less than fruitful when it comes to knitting.  I did have a lot of fun in Minneapolis and Chicago though.  I have no real progress to show on my current project, so this post is instead going to be devoted to some knitting goals that I would like to set for myself in 2008.

I'm sorry to say that this post will not contain any pictures, but I will try to add links when possible so it is not completely boring.

Goal Number One:  Colorwork

Yes, I have done stripes, but that is about the extent of my colorwork experience.  I have a few patterns picked out that I would love to make (when I have to yarn) and I think they will get me well on my way to perfecting the art of using multiple colors while knitting.
  1. The first pattern is a great sweater from the book Men Who Knit and the Dogs Who Love Them.  Sadly I can't find a picture of this sweater on the internet, but it is wonderful.  For those of you who own the book, I am looking at the Shades of Gray sweater on p. 47.
  2. Yes, I am aware that knitting an entire sweater as my first Fair Isle project is crazy, but I can dream can't I?  Lucky for me, I also have my eye on one of the Argyle Scarves (can be seen on the cover) from Son of Stitch 'N Bitch.  Not only would I learn how to do colorwork, but this project would also require me to use the double knitting technique to make the scarf reversible.
  3. If this project proves to be too much for me to handle (which I am not anticipating) I may try my luck with a pair of socks using a Fair Isle or Mosaic pattern from Sensational Knitted Socks.  I am guessing however that a pair of socks would be harder to knit using multiple colors than a scarf would.
Goal Number Two:  Right handed knitting

This goal goes along with fair-isle knitting as I think it would make the colorwork much easier.  I have never tried to knit with my other hand, but learning would be a fun challenge and it would be a very practical skill to have.

Goal Number Three:  Knitting socks using the magic loop method

This goal is for no other reason than to say that I can do it.  I have no problem knitting socks using DPNs and although I understand the benefits of knitting two socks at once, I think I would still only knit one at a time using the magic loop method.

Goal Number Four:  Cables

Again, I have done cables before, but only in socks and I think it is time for me to step it up.  I have a selection of sweaters (and socks) that look like they have potential - the trouble is choosing which one to use.  Here they are, in no particular order:
  1. The Cable Guy Sweater from Son of Stitch 'N Bitch.  I like the way this sweater uses a plain stockinette fabric and adds texture with the cables.  I think if I made this, I would have to do something about the bottom to make it look less ragged.
  2. The Pub Crawler Sweater, also from Son of Stitch 'N Bitch.  I'm not sure how fond I am of the large collar, but no worries, that can be fixed.  I really like the detail on the arm, and the cable pattern looks simple enough to work without needing much concentration.  Excellent.
  3. And then there is the ultimate in cabled sweaters.  This is the sweater of my dreams and I am determined to make it eventually, no matter how long it takes.  I will own this sweater.
I think these goals should keep me plenty busy throughout the year.  I already have four projects in the works: the hideously ugly socks, my blue stripey socks (formerly my road trip socks that did not get finished on the road), the baby duffle coat, and a lace shawl that I started this summer.  I also have four other projects waiting to be started (which I'm sure will take me much longer than anticipated) and then I am hoping to be able to embark on a yarn filled journey discovering the unexpected difficulties and exciting successes of knitting with cables and colors.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Shades of Blue

Hooray for new projects!!!

Also known as: "My lack of ability to work on only one thing at a time..."

OK, I admit it.  I am not one of those knitters who can complete a single project from beginning to end without a bit of change (addition of one or more projects to break up the monotony of knitting on the same project - especially if said project is knit entirely in garter stitch...)

INTRODUCING!!!!!  ...  a sock.

Alright, maybe it's not the most exciting thing to look at, but I really love it.  Ever since I got this yarn from knitpicks (Felici sock yarn in Atmosphere) it has been begging me to pick it up and start knitting.

After three attempts to start it (correcting gauge, or the ribbing on the cuff) this is what I have.  A cuff.  Well, and a bit of the leg, but hey!  it's something!  I am going to call these my Road Trip Socks, partly because it sounds better than "my blue stripey socks" and partly because I hope to get a bulk of the knitting done while on the road during my tour.  My orchestra is touring in Minneapolis and Chicago, which means a lot of travel time to relax and knit away - sweet!

The first time I saw this yarn I knew I needed it for myself.  I loved the colors (blue and white, how can you go wrong?)  In fact, after beginning the sock, I realized just how much of these colors are in my dorm room right now.

Ah look, there is a blue corner.  Strange yes, awesome - yes, but even more awesome is...

My bed!  Hey, don't those stripes look familiar?  No wonder I loved that sock yarn.  This is a blanket my sister crocheted for me as a graduation present.  Thanks sis!

Hey cool!  My blue and white yarn basket, overflowing with blue yarn... how predictable.  OK, I think you get the point.  I love blue (and white).  I may even venture to say that it is my favorite color (but it's hard for me to be sure, being color blind and all).  In any case, my wonderful Road Trip Socks are bound to be amazing and I can't wait until I can wear them.

And just so you don't think I have completely ignored my other project (see how I used the singular, pretending that I don't even have hideously ugly green socks waiting to be finished?), here is an update on the Duffle Coat for my baby nephew Xander.

I just finished the front last night (after taking a four day break from working on it) and now have to do the hood, the sleeves and a bit of *gasp* seaming.  I was hoping to get this done before I went on tour so that I could give it to my nephew while in Minneapolis, but that doesn't seem likely as I am heading out tomorrow morning.

Speaking of nephews, there has been a new addition to my family!  Another sister has had a baby boy, Darby - born on February 10.  Don't worry though, I already have the yarn, needles, and pattern all ready to go to make a nice warm sweater for him as well (see, I think ahead like that sometimes).

Here's hoping that I will have some FOs and new projects to show in the weeks to come!

Monday, February 4, 2008

We've Got Some Live Ones!

That's right folks, I am actually working on some projects.  Not many, only two in fact, but still, it's something.

First off, we have some socks that I am knitting for my little sister.
It's hard to believe that I started these things before Thanksgiving.  There are a few thing that have contributed to their lack of finished-ness.
  1. I HATE this yarn.  I know, it's a strong word, but really.  It is Brown Sheep Company Wildfoote "Luxury" sock yarn.  I am never going to use it again.  Aside from the fact that it is a horribly nasty color (no offense to those of you who like it.  My sister specifically requested it), I don't think the yarn is very high quality.  It is not tightly plied so I tend to split it a lot.  It is also not soft, in fact, I feel bad for my sister because I don't think they're going to be very comfortable.  Taking all of this into account, I really just don't enjoy knitting with it.
  2. I think the pattern is really ugly.  Again, it was specifically requested by my little sister, and although I am doing it correctly, I just don't think it looks good.  The pattern is the six-stitch Cloverleaf Eyelet Cable from "Sensational Knitted Socks".  I do really like this book and the other patterns I have used from it I have really enjoyed.  Maybe it is just a combination of this pattern and this yarn that makes it so hideous.  Somehow my sister did like the sock when I showed it to her (but I think she was just being nice).  I think I'm going to make her a second pair sometime with better yarn and a more... enjoyable pattern.
So, that is the story of the socks that never seem to get finished.  I just cast on for that second one on January 31 and have gotten through a whopping two rows of ribbing before I had to put it down.

My other (much more successful) work-in-progress is the almost unbearably adorable Duffle Coat from Debbie Bliss's "Essential Baby".  I am using the Knitpicks Swish DK in Mist that I got a few days ago.

What you see in the above pictures are the finished back (top) and the beginnings of one of the front panels (bottom).  There is also a pocket lining in the bottom picture.  The other has already been knitted into the front panel, which is why it looks like there is a scar on the sweater.  :)

I hope to get more work done on this sweater in the next few days.  I am absolutely in love with this yarn.  It is so nice to work with.  I know that I am going to use it much more in the future because it is oh so amazing.

P.S.  Sorry about the picture/color quality.  It's hard to take pictures in a dorm room when all the lighting you have is the fluorescent one on the ceiling.  Ugly.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Starting Things Off Right...

...with a few pictures and lots of yarny goodness.

To begin, it would only be appropriate to do a bit of story-telling.
This story begins during the long winter months in the beginning of '07 when the latest snow storm also brought along a knitting bug to my University.  Within a few weeks I had been infected and I went home for Spring break knowing that I wouldn't be able to escape my
 freakish urge to knit.  I went to my LYS (The Three Kittens) in St. Paul, MN and left armed with a few balls of yarn and some needles.  My first creation was a scarf and is to this day the scarf I wear most often.
It is a simple 1x1 ribbing using an acrylic/wool blend, the name of which I can no longer remember.  I made it using size 8 Clover Bamboo needles (a little side note about me...I do NOT like bamboo needles.  Wood yes, in fact, I prefer wood needles, but bamboo...eh, no thanks).  Not only did the yarn change colors, but the thickness also varied, resulting in an uneven edging (partially due to my lack of knitting skills), but I do like the scarf very much.

After finishing this scarf (yes, I did tape it to my dorm room wall to take the picture, why do you ask?), I didn't even think about knitting again until the summer of '07 when I was living/working on campus.  One of my many sisters, clumsyknitter, thought it would be a fun idea to join a KAL - specifically Mystery Stole 3.  Well, she and I joined and I was once again sucked into the knitting world.

Minus the inevitable complications that come with knitting lace as your second project, the stole is actually turning out very nicely (yes, I did use the present tense.  I have yet to actually finish the stole) and I learned a lot about knitting: increases, decreases, yarn overs...

That summer I also picked up some sock yarn and needles and whipped up some simple ribbed socks and the rest is history.

Enough with how I got addicted - let's get to the good stuff:

What's that you ask?  Oh, just a little bit of wonderful that arrived in the mail a few days ago from Knitpicks.  The top arc is Felici sock yarn - three balls in Atmosphere, and three in Pebble.  They are destined to become some very nice socks for myself.  Below the sock yarn is 6 balls of Swish DK in Mist (I actually got eight, but have started a project already.  You'll have to wait and see).  Then there are eight more balls of Swish DK, 6 in Dusk and 2 in Coal.  They too have a planned future, but for now you will just have to imagine.  Finally, we get to the five balls of wonderfully soft Ambrosia in Lavender.  This yarn is 80% baby alpaca, 20% cashmere, and 100% amazing.  I used it once to knit my brother some cabled socks and he loves them.  Or at least says he does...

Coming soon - real live works in progress.  Don't miss it!