Thursday, February 24, 2011

Malabrigo Wars

There appears to be an ongoing battle in my apartment between my projects.  It was pointed out quite accurately in the comments of an earlier post that I might need to get myself some more needles so that I don't have to continue stealing them from other projects.  I tend to have this problem with size 6 and 7 needles specifically (they're the ones I use most often.)

Things were going well.  I stole my 7's from my brother's blanket to knit the wrist warmers, then stole them from that ill-fated project before it was finished to knit a neckwarmer.  As soon as that was finished I knit the Turtle Shell Hat and then they were slid nicely back into the blanket as if nothing had happened.

Then I picked up my 6's.  I cast on a pair of Clepsydra mittens after seeing Margene's beautifully knit pair.

I finished one mitten (minus a thumb) in just a few days and then horror struck.

During my usual spell of "Second Mitten Syndrome", an innocent little thing crept in a snatched up the needles.

I know it looks like a regular ball of beautiful Malabrigo Sock, but it's much more vicious than you might imagine.  This yarn is sneaky.  It quickly cast itself onto the needles and began to grow...

I don't know how it happened.  Really, this is a very controlling ball of wool.  The last time the mitten tried to get the needles back it got, well, attacked.

I don't think this shawl is going to let the needles out of its grasp until it's finished.  The mitten is ok, but it does have a few puncture wounds from battle.

Poor mitten.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

King Of The Universe

Screw Balance, I'm going to win every time.

I sat down this morning and had the most wonderful time ripping out that hat.  Really, I did.  I drank my tea and ate a brownie and thoroughly enjoyed starting fresh with a new idea.  No more cables - those didn't work out.  (See?  I didn't try the same thing twice.  I'm learning from my mistakes).  I decreased some stitches after the ribbing (yes, I removed some stitches from a hat that everyone already thinks is too small.  I live on the wild side).  And then I knit on my merry way.

Before I knew it I had a finished hat in my hands, and despite what others may have thought, the hat fits wonderfully.  As I slipped this hat on in front of my bathroom mirror I silently thought to myself that I was in fact crowning myself King of the Universe.  That's right, the Universe holds no power over me and this hat crown proves it.

While I was knitting this pattern all I could think was that it reminded me of windowpanes.  As soon as I slipped it on and looked in the mirror, however, my immediate reaction was "turtle shell!"  So this is now my Turtle Shell Hat, although it's not really mine because I'm sending it off to my friend along with Ptarmigan (another project named after an animal) because I owe her one.

This cowl was obnoxiously difficult to photograph.  Well, I thought I had done a pretty good job until I actually loaded the photos onto my computer.  At least you can tell that it's done - ends woven in and everything.  I loved working with the Blue Sky Alpacas Alpaca Silk.  It was so soft and drapey, I couldn't get enough of it.  Blocking this cowl really helped the pattern show more clearly, but I felt that wet blocking it may have flattened the halo of the alpaca a bit.  It looked a bit more lifeless after I blocked it than before.

I think it looks like butterflies.  And really, who wouldn't want to slip this over their head to give their neck a bit more warmth and comfort?

I'd like to see what the Universe tries to throw at me next!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

This Is Not Defeat

We've all heard that the Universe seeks balance.  For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  Yin and yang.  All of that sort.

There are days when the sun is shining and days when the clouds never leave.  There are days when we are full or energy and days when we need that third cup of coffee before noon.  There are days when we're confident in our knitting because we know without a doubt that everything is going to work out perfectly.

And then there are those other days...

I would like to emphasize that the ribbing did in fact fit on my head.  There was room to spare, even.  I was so confident about the fit of this hat (did you see that?  I said confident.  Beyond a doubt.  That's reason enough for the Universe to give me the smack down, right?) that I chose a nice cabled pattern because I knew it would pull the hat in even more and I knew it would still fit.  I knit a good 6 inches in the cable pattern without even giving it a second thought because I'm a Knitter and I knew it was going to work out because I wanted it to.

And then I tried it on.  This %^$#@ hat doesn't fit.  May I emphasize, yet again, that it is not due to the ribbing.  The ribbing is fine.  The ribbing is wonderful in fact.  It's the stupid cables that decided to embrace the stitches so tightly that no person could pull it over their head.  (Well, I did pull it into my head, but it wasn't pretty).  I'm going to have to rip it out, but only to the ribbing.  The ribbing fit.  I was right and I still firmly stand behind my choice.  This is not defeat, it's simply an obstacle.  You see that?  I'm still optimistic in the face of a challenge.  Take that Universe, you can't crush my Knitting confidence!  (I'm going to pay for that one...)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

I Am Not In Denial

I cast on a hat today.  I sped through the knitting of Ptarmigan because my sister insisted that I continue knitting my "wrist warmers" (quotation marks used to emphasize the disaster that they are), which use the same needles.  The same needles which I stole from the blanket I'm still knitting for my brother (but let's not talk about that).

Those needles are now occupied with a hat, most likely fueled by the guilt I feel about my Ptarmigan friend.  A neckwarmer is not enough.  I hat is definitely needed, and the sooner the better.

I'm in such a hurry, in fact, that I convinced myself that finding, purchasing, downloading, and deciphering a pattern would simply take far too much time and the only rational thing to do in this situation is to design the hat on the fly.

"On the fly" started last light as I pored over knitting pattern books and old magazines trying to find what I was looking for.  My criteria were minimal and, well, vague.  I thought things like "warm" and "nice".

I then decided I didn't need to find a pattern yet because before I could begin knitting in pattern I have to knit at least four if not six inches of 2x2 ribbing.  I like 2x2 ribbing and I think that a person living in a cold climate can greatly benefit from a hat with a brim that folds up to form a double-layer of warmth.  It's a practical thing and I stand by my choice.

I have a friend in town audition at my school and while I was sitting in the waiting room, I cast on for this hat.  An argument ensued about whether or not this hat is going to fit the recipient.  I believe it will.  Here are my reasons.

1. Knitting is stretchy
2. Ribbing is stretchier
3. This friend might have a small head

Her reasons are unsupportable things such as "that looks small" and "knitting doesn't stretch that much".

While knitting this bit of ribbing another friend walked past and asked what I was making.  When I told her that I was making a warm, nice hat with a folded-up brim for a friend, her first reaction was "I hope your friend has a small head!"

Clearly these people don't understand.  This hat is most definitely going to fit my friend's head.  Knitted ribbing is extremely stretch and my friend very well may have a small head.  I know the knitting looks a bit small, but it'll grow.  There's no point in ripping it out now before I can prove to them their error.  I should continue to knit until I have at least six inches just so I have ample fabric with which to prove them all wrong.

This hat is clearly going to fit.  I cast on more than enough stitches and even though it looks small, it will grow once stretched around my friend's head.  I am not in denial.  The knitting will continue and this hat will be fantastic.  There's no way it's too small.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Yes, I Really Want It

I managed to snap some photos of the Westward hat I made out of Malabrigo Twist today.  It was decided upon completion that the color combination was too feminine for myself or for The Composer, so I handed it off to someone I knew would appreciate it.

What she won't appreciate is that I've posted this picture of her on the internet.  What she will appreciate is that I chose this one and not one of the others...

...because there were others.

I finished up my Blue Whale last week as well and wore it for the first time today.

I pinned it out quite quickly, but it's going to be scrunched around a neck when in use anyway, so I wasn't too picky.

I love the colors in this yarn, and the 25% silk gives it a nice sheen and drape.  The nature of the stitches in the scarf also makes it completely reversible, so I don't have to bother checking which side is the right side before putting it on (but I do anyway because I'm like that).

I took several pictures of myself wearing it, but unlike my friend in the Westward, I am able to veto the inclusion of those on my own blog, so the above are all you get.

Moving right along, I decided to do something about my cold hands instead of simply sit on my couch every day wishing that I had a warm pair of fingerless gloves.  Am I the only one who does this?  I think of all the wonderful things that would make my life more comfortable, but I never quite kick my arse into doing them.  Mainly because I don't think of knitting wrist warmers when I have time, I think of doing it when I'm cold and normally I'm cold when I'm studying or climbing into bed or something.  Well, one day I was cold AND had time, so I scrounged around for a bit.

I found several small leftover balls of Noro Kureyon in a drawer and decided the best approach would be to spit join them together and go to town with some striping.  It's times like these that I am glad I'm colorblind.

I don't know why I'm still entertaining the idea that this will become a pair of wrist warmers some day.  The worst of the colors have yet to come and that photo is not playing tricks on your eyes.  That sickly tube of stripes really does get smaller towards the top and no, there's no reason for it.  I think it's Knitting's way of telling me that this project should not continue.  This is a fact that I should have accepted ten inches ago when I tried it on and found it was two inches too big.  I knit on with complete faith that when I'm done it will be the right size.  Oh, and did I tell you my plan?   Here it is: knit one long tube of stripes with ribbing at both ends, then cut it in half, put some more ribbing on the cut ends, then cut holes somewhere for thumbs to be put on.  Knitting two separate wrist warmers would have just been too difficult.  No, this project is doomed to fail.

Besides, I stole the needles to knit something much more wonderful.

I was in desperate need of a visit to the yarn shop.  I took The Composer with me and before we got there I told him that he was not allowed to let me buy anything I didn't really want.  In order for him to know if I really wanted it, he was required to ask me.  It went something like this.

Me:  Ooh!  Look at this yarn!
Him: That's nice.
Me:  It's beautiful!
Him: Peter, you're caressing that yarn a little too excitedly.
Me: I'm going to get it.
Him: Do you really want it?
Me: Of course!

...ten minutes later...

Me: Ooh!  Look at this yarn!
Him: That's nice.
Me: Ooh, and this one, too!  And this one!  I want them all.
Him: Do you really want it?
Me: Yes!   Would you quit asking me that?

...five minutes later...

Me: Hey!  Look at this!
Him: Do you really want it?
Me: YES!  For the last time, yes, I want it.  Why do you keep asking me if I want the yarn?  Can't you tell that I want it?!

I think I should have told him to ask me if I needed the yarn.  Then his questions might have had more influence.  Apologies to The Composer for a brief outburst about his questioning me (I felt like I was under oath or something!).  I blame it on the wool fumes.  You'll understand one day.

I cast on that Alpaca Silk immediately to make Ptarmigan for a friend.

There's more of a story behind it, but I can't share it all right now.  Just know that I am responsible and should do better next time.  That's how life works, right?

That's what these are for, too.

and I'm knitting socks.  What is this world coming to?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


I do this weird thing over on Ravelry in which I don't actually call a project "finished" until I've taken pictures of the completed object.  Right now I have 8 projects that are "100% completed", but not "finished" because they haven't been photographed.

I'm trying to fix that.

(and I'm trying to distract you so you won't notice that I haven't woven in the ends on my Autumn Arbor Stole yet...)

I'm not a hat wearer.  I just don't think I look good in hats and I'm not a big fan of hat hair.  But my ears have been cold this winter.  I'm starting to simply accept the functionality of a hat in my battle with winter weather and I've discovered something.

Hats keep you warm.

This hat is Quincy from Jared Flood's Made in Brooklyn booklet.  I knit mine last May using Cascade 220 doubled and it turned out wonderfully.

I think the fiddly-est part about this hat was trying to figure out how to wear it!  The only problem with the way I'm wearing it above is that it limits visibility and, well, one of my ears is still cold.  I still wear this hat most frequently, though.

Back in August when I moved to Pittsburgh, I was in a strange place with my knitting.  I wasn't blogging, I didn't want to document projects on Ravelry, and I didn't want to use patterns.  I wanted to knit from my stash and create practical items that still maintained a bit of personality.  You know, like back when knitting wasn't just a hobby.

I made another hat, again using Cascade 220 (the main color is the same yarn I used for Quincy).

(As an aside, that apartment building behind me is where Mr. Rogers lived.  Yes, THE Mr. Rogers.  I'm totally in his neighborhood...)

I threw in some 2-color horizontal braids I borrowed from Folk Knitting in Estonia and the stranded pattern came from the cuff of a mitten in Sata Kansanomaista Kuviokudinmallia.  (Nope, no idea what that means).  I chose that design because it reminded me of a lot of motifs I saw in Bali.

The hat is lined up to the second braid with the main color, which makes it extra thick and warm.  I added a tassel because I thought it needed one.  I even slipped a little piece of fabric between the lining and the outside before closing it up so that in 100 years when the lining wears out and someone is studying this hat, they'll know that I made it in Pittsburgh in August of 2010 at the age of 22.

Because my knitting will be studied in 100 years.

::rolls eyes::

Then I decided that I needed a pair of mittens to match my coat.  This was the plan:  Knit an outer shell out of Cascade 220 (notice a trend?) on tiny needles (I don't know what size because I was still on my "no documentation" kick) to make them tough as iron.  Then I would line the mittens with alpaca to make them super soft and warm.

Well, I knit the shells over the summer and lined half of one of the mittens.  The lining was too big, it made the thumb too constricted, and the alpaca wasn't as soft as I had hoped.

I finally ripped out that lining, picked up the stitches from the provisional cast-ons, bound them off, and called the mittens done.

They match my coat, however they don't actually keep my hands very warm.  A worsted spun yarn knit at a dense gauge does create a pretty solid fabric, but the fabric itself doesn't really hold much warmth because the worsted spinning and tight knitting sort of squeezes any air out of the yarn that would otherwise be warm and insulating.  That's my theory, anyway.  My other theory is that because my hands are always freezing, there's no warmth to trap inside the mitten to begin with.

I was clearly still into making sure that future generations will know exactly who wore these mittens, and when.  They need to be lined though.  Against my hopes, they're just not warm enough without it.  I have some light blue malabrigo lace that I just remembered about last night that I could use held doubled for the hand and single for the thumb (so it doesn't become too tight).  That might work.

...if I ever get around to it.