Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Lace (and my new pointy bracelet)

This lace has been driving me crazy, no joke.  Before I go on, take a look at this swatch (which is currently the only surviving evidence that I am indeed knitting a shawl and it's not even in my possession.)

Ok, so there you have it.  That is a swatch for the Myrtle Leaf Shawl from Victorian Lace Today, knit with Habu 40/2 kakishibu ramie.  This yarn is 100% ramie (a fiber derived from the nettle plant) and there are, I kid you not, 373 yards in a whopping 28 grams.  This stuff is tiny.  I have been having a few issues with this shawl.

Oh, before I go on, I suppose I should explain why I am actually knitting this shawl.  I was approached by the owner of my LYS and asked to knit a shawl for display in the store.  "Of course!" was my reply and I was eventually given this pattern and this yarn with which to knit said shawl.  It is very likely that I am indeed crazy for saying yes, but I will, I will, knit this shawl.  Based on the fact that it took me only 3 hours to knit this first swatch (the second one, which I am not showing here because it was not the winner, took only 2), I estimated that this shawl will take me 200+ hours of knitting time, provided I make absolutely no mistakes, ever.  Well, I can safely say that this estimate has already gone down the drain, many times.

I have yet to make it past the first pattern repeat.  Here's how things have gone down:

Provisional cast-on.  Check.  Oh, crap, wait, too many stitches.  RIP!

Provisional cast-on.  Recount stitches.  Check.  Add working yarn.  Knit 4 rows of garter.  Check.  Start knitting pattern.  Check!  Knit three rows in pattern.  CHECK!  (can you tell I'm getting excited?)  Get up to check my email, trip on working yarn, pull half the stitches off the needle.  CRAP!  RIP!  This yarn is nowhere near sticky and once a stitch is off the needle, there is absolutely no hope for picking it up again, especially with the patterning happening on both sides.  I just couldn't do it.  There were yarn-overs everywhere.  It was a nightmare.

Provisional cast-on, add working yarn, do garter, check.  Knit 7 rows of pattern (!), drop a stitch.  Oh for the love of flowers and candy!  RIP!

Provisional cast-on, add working yarn, do garter, knit 8 rows of pattern.  Check.  No mistakes.  Knit to the end of row 9, what?  I'm missing a stitch?  No worries, I think I found why it's missing.  I'll just unknit this row and it will all be fine.  Finish unknitting row.  Check.  Count stitches on the needle.  What do you mean I have seven extra stitches?!  That's not even possible!  Ok, fine, I'll unknit one more row.  Whoops, just kidding, I dropped a p2togtbl and those stitches ran like there was no tomorrow.  RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIPPPPPP!

I have yet to find the courage to start again.  I know it's around here somewhere, but for now it's in hiding.  I will tell you one thing I learned from all of this though.  The yarn I'm working with really softens up once it has been ripped multiple times.  It is very stiff and crunchy at first, but it's really becoming much more pliable.  Isn't that great?

Moving right along, I figured this is as good a post as any to introduce you to yet another potentially disastrous knitting project I have recently started.

That there is 12 rows of the 25 rows of corrugated ribbing for the Vespergyle Mittens I am attempting to make for myself.  Let's have fun and list all of the ways these mittens may not work out for me:

1.  Finished measurements.  8" around.  My hand circumference.  9.25+".  My reaction?  "Oh, it's fine, knitting is stretchy!  Nothing to worry about."

2.  This builds on numero uno.  Gauge.  Well, let's just say I didn't bother checking gauge.  'Nuf said.

3.  I tricked you and said "'nuf said", but in reality there is more.  Yarn choice.  The pattern calls for Harrisville New England Shetland.  My reaction?  "Sweet, I have some of that in my stash!  I think instead I'll knit with some Rowan Yorkshire Tweed 4-ply I have here.  I don't care if it's a bit thinner."  Look how pretty it is though.

4.  Needle size.  The pattern calls for US 1.5.  My reaction?  "No problem, I've got some of those sitting around.  I think instead I'll pull those US 0s out of the sock I'm working on and use them instead, I think it will make for a much denser fabric.  Besides, I'm using thinner yarn.  Yes, it may make the mitten a bit smaller (although I don't know because I never bothered to check gauge to begin with), but that's ok, knitting is stretchy!"

All of this has lead up to the reason why I have been wearing a snazzy new pointy bracelet for the past 45 minutes.  I nearly broke the needles trying to get this thing on and am too afraid at the moment to attempt to take it off.  My reaction?  "Look, it fits perfectly around my wrist!  SUCCESS!!"  I'm just going to have to carry the yarn balls around in my pockets while sporting this new accessory.  No biggie.

Denial anyone?  I am still banking on the fact that after the ribbing is done, I am going to increase some stitches before working on the body of the mitten (who cares if it's only 6?).  I am confident that this mitten with turn out wonderfully and fit me like a

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Jumble of Things

Unfortunately, though I have been away for quite a while, I don't have much to share with you all.  I did want to get your opinion though, so I thought I would post some crappy pictures and ask your advice.

As you may or may not recall, I have been working on Elizabeth Zimmermann's Saddle-Shoulder Aran Cardigan.  I suppose I should say had been working on it, as I haven't touched it for about a month and a half now.  All I really needed to do was cut the front steek and knit on a button band, but I kept putting it of.  I've recently realized why.  I don't think I like the hood.

Yes, I decided to add a hood to it, because I love hoods on my sweatshirts and figured, well heck, why not put one on my sweater?  The only problem is, I'm not sure it fits in with the rest of the sweater.  You can see that I continued the main back cable up the hood (and across the top, I used the same saddle-shoulder technique as I did on the shoulders) on a background of reverse stockinette, which you can't see because of the poor photo quality.  I have a few concerns:

1.  The rows of garter stitch at the bottom don't really look like they belong.  Granted, the cuffs, button band, and bottom of sweater are (or will be) in garter stitch, so maybe it will work, but I'm not completely convinced.  Oh, also, because the gauge is so different between my stockinette and my cable pattern, I had to decrease a ton of stitches in the garter, which is why it looks kind of lumpy.  I'm not a fan.

2.  The fact that the entire sweater is covered in cables and there is no reverse stockinette to be seen anywhere makes me think this hood doesn't fit with the sweater.

3.  The single knit stitch on either side of the cable needs to go.  I put it there so that when I started doing k2togs at the top to form the hood, it would naturally continue this knit stitch, but I think I can work my way around that.

So, my questions to you are:

Should I rip out the hood and start over?  Do you have any suggestions for fixing the issues I currently have with the hood?  I really just want this sweater to be done so that I can start wearing it before it gets too cold!  Yes, I can wear it under a coat in the winter, but where's the fun in that?

Next up...

Remember this yarn I purchased from Theytoldmesew's Etsy Shop a while back?  Well, I believe it may be time to end this yarn's lengthy term of "table art" and turn it into something more functional.  Now, I've been saving it so that I could use it for something really cool that would show off the colors and do the yarn justice, but no such project has come along.  Any suggestions?  This is only 215 yards of heavy worsted/bulky yarn (6.5 oz.), so I can't do much with it, but I do want it to be nice.  I've lately been thinking of turning it into Thorpe.  Is that too plain for this yarn?  I'm not sure what to do with it.

Oh, also, as promised, a project made out of Malabrigo Chunky.

This is the Robin's Egg Blue Hat, in green, obviously.  It used nearly an entire skein of Malabrigo (I was worried at the end that I was going to run out), in the Emerald colorway.  I still have to find a button to hold down that flap, but I'm calling this one done.  I may post better pictures when I find a button.

This hat is destined to become a birthday present for a friend.  Her birthday isn't for another two months, but I needed a quick project.  There were a few things about this pattern that I didn't like, but overall is was very easy and quick to knit.

I'm really itching to get something on the needles again besides that lace shawl I'm knitting out of, oh, did I ever tell you guys about that?  Hmmm.... there may be another post coming in the next few days if I haven't.  It'll be good.   ...I digress.  So I've been really wanting to knit something because I don't really have any projects going, but none of my yarn looks tempting and I can't find any patterns that make me want to cast on right now.  Hopefully I'll find some inspiration soon.  I think it's just that school has filled up all my free time and I would much rather rest when I can than exercise my mind with knitting.  C'est la vie.

Friday, October 3, 2008

In Which I knit a Hat

Yesterday (well, technically two days ago, as it is 12:06 a.m. now) was October 1, 2008.  No, that date has no significance to me other than the fact that once October hits, I finally feel like Fall is here and summer is not coming back.  What did I do to celebrate this occasion?

I knit a hat, of course!

Yes, that is the only picture I took of it.  I'm surprised I was able to knit this up in one day.  In fact, I ripped the entire thing out around 9:30 p.m. and started over, but did that stop me?  No.  Granted, it was a long night, but I finished.  I wove in the ends this morning, and gifted the hat to a friend in the afternoon.

The pattern I used is the Machu Picchu Earflap Hat from  I used Alpaca with a Twist Big Baby in Embers and Carnival Red (the colors which the pattern called for - very creative on my part), one skein each.  Alpaca is so heavy!  This is the first time I have ever knit with 100% alpaca and I couldn't believe how heavy it was.  Seriously.  Heavy.  Silky soft, too.

I knit the smaller size hat and still came out with one that was comfortably large on my head.  I doubt that I would have had enough of the MC to knit the hat if I had done the larger size.

The story of this hat is a simple one.  On Friday (Friday?) night my friend was complaining about how a few years back he had lost his earflap hat and really missed having one.  "No, not one of those large furry ones" he said, "the kind that looks hand-knit."  I don't think at that point he knew just who he was talking to.  I very innocently figured out his favorite colors (brown and red) over the course of the night and later on went searching on Ravelry for earflap hat patterns.  When I came across this one, in brown and red, I knew that it was the one I had to make.  I ordered the yarn, bought the pattern and knit the entire thing yesterday, the same day that the yarn arrived.  Edit:  Only the knitting happened yesterday, not the ordering of the yarn or the buying of the pattern.

I skipped over the part about crocheting around the bottom of the hat, partly because I hate even touching crochet hooks and partly because I wasn't sure I had enough yarn to do so.  The curling in the front actually kind of looked like a design feature (sweet!), so I didn't bother.  I didn't block the hat either because a) I wanted to gift it today and giving someone a pile of smelly, wet Alpaca doesn't quite say what I wanted it to and b) it's a hat.  I know I should have washed/blocked it (the yarn kind of smelled too), but it's too late for that.

As an aside, does anyone know of a good online store to buy buttons?  I'm looking for some simple wood buttons for my aran cardigan and my LYS doesn't have any.  I would be very grateful for any suggestions.

 Keep your eyes peeled for some more Malabrigo in the future, this time of the Chunky variety (I like to mix it up every once in a while).