Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pushing boundaries

Generally, I would say that I'm not a superstitious person. I have, on occasion, been accused of treating the scientific method as a religion in itself. However, there is one superstition that I absolutely do believe in: the sweater curse. For those of you not familiar with the sweater curse, the basic premise is that if you knit a sweater for a man (or woman) you are not currently engaged to/married the relationship will end shortly thereafter. A couple of years ago, foolish young me knit a sweater, and a couple of months after it was finished, relationship over. I'm a believer.

So far, in my experience, it's only sweaters that are cursed. I've had no problems with socks, mittens, hats, scarves... They don't seem to have any relationship ending potential. So now I'm taking it to the next level.


That is the beginning of a blanket for Ryan. If it looks like the Golden Ratio rectangle, that's because it is. (Or at least it's supposed to be... I did the math myself.) Ryan is a huge math nerd and requested this blanket. I'm hoping that means it's safe to knit. Each new square is picked up from the squares before log-cabin style. I will surface crochet the spiral on at the end when I have finished.

The yarn is Swish Bulky from Knit Picks. It is 100% superwash wool. It was the only yarn line I could find with 4 shades of gray/black (Ryan's favorite color for knits apparently... everything I have made him so far has been gray or black.) Since this is basically a 4'x6' rectangle of garter stitch it is fantastically boring to knit, but I can work on it while I study/watch TV. Right now it's just under a third done, we'll see if I can finish before Christmas.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


In September I finished test-knitting Whirligig Shrug for Stephanie Japel. The pattern originally appeared in Interweave Knits Weekend 2009 but was only sized for babies. Stephanie decided to up-size it for children, and eventually plans to release an adult version as well. I volunteered to test the Child size 6 (in the hopes of getting a free copy of the adult sized pattern once it is released.) I have no idea about children's clothes sizing so have no idea what age of child a size 6 would fit. It's pretty cute though.


I used a DK weight yarn called Soft Sea Wool from Reynolds. It's 100% wool, so it may have been an impractical choice for a child's garment since it's not machine washable... Also, it's a 2-ply yarn so it's a bit nubbley and doesn't show off the seed stitch or the cables as well as it could. If I knit it again I will be sure to use a more balanced 3- or 4-ply yarn for smooth stitch definition.

I couldn't get a good picture of the front because I couldn't hang it and get a picture, but here it is flat against a dark background. (I figured kidnapping a child just to model handknits for me might be more trouble than it's worth, so you're stuck with this mediocre picture of the front.)


I can absolutely vouch for the pattern and say that it is error free (at least as to size 6) and very quick to knit. I found working the small circumference of the arms a bit tedious, but I assume it would be that way for any child-sized garment with arms. Probably this will end up donated to the charity that provides clothes to the homeless here in Portland.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Long term project

Compared to knitting, crochet is easily a "less-favorite" craft. It can be fun for making amigurumi which are usually pot-bellied and adorable, and I did make a pretty cute summer dress, but it's not my go-to craft by any means.

However, there is one thing that crocheters can make that knitters can't really replicate. Granny Squares.


I know some people think granny squares are tacky (and they kind of are) but I love the way they look. Recently I picked up 200 Crochet Blocks and started picking out blocks just to experiment/brush up on my skills. The yarn is cheap-o Red Heart mostly because it's cheap and machine washable so cat-hair accumulation won't be difficult to deal with. I'm using a pretty big hook (size K) so my blocks are coming out about a foot square. I bought 4 skeins, the three colors you see above plus a burnt orange. I'll make blocks until I feel I have a sufficient number for a good cozy blanket or I run out of yarn.

My holiday knitting has put this on the back burner for a bit (probably until after new year) then I will pick up the hook again. I really enjoy making these since each one is like a mini project in itself and brings its own feeling of accomplishment when finished.

Monday, November 22, 2010

One Christmas gift down

Last year I didn't do any Christmas anything until about December 20th because I was so busy with school. This year, finals go all the way until December 23rd (yeah! I know!) so I'll have to cram in cleaning, celebrating, and gift making/buying alongside my finals preparation. While working at Yarnia, I managed to whip up my dad's Christmas present in about 4 days.


This is the Windschief hat by Stephen West. This is my third Stephen West knit, and like the other two, the instructions were well written and the finished product looks great.

I used a pre-made Yarnia yarn called Santos which is which is mostly rayon and acrylic with a tiny bit of cotton. I wanted to go for machine washability since my dad is a runner and will like get this all sweaty and gross on a regular basis.


I love the color of this yarn. "Oatmeal" would be a good word to describe it, with just a hint of sheen from the rayon. I asked Ryan and he assured me that it counts as a "manly" color, so dad should like it.

I only used about 25% of the cone on the hat, so I'm thinking about whipping up some convertible mittens to go with it. One of the benefits of buying yarn by the half-pound cone.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Recently, I cast off another store sample for Yarnia. I made Akimbo since we carry most of Stephen West's patterns in our shop. All of his patterns are fabulous. This is the second one I've made (the first was Botanic) and it is well written and well charted.


The pattern calls for a fingering weight yarn, but I made mine is a DK to give it some more weight/size. I created the yarn at Yarnia. The main color is one strand of spice colored silk, two strands of pumpkin colored wool, and one strand of variegated cotton that changes from Dijon yellow to spice to rust to brown. The contrasting color is one strand warm brown alpaca, one strand reddish brown wool, one strand cold brown rayon, one strand warm brown rayon, and one strand cold brown silk.


I used size 6 needles instead of size 4 because of the heavier yarn I chose. The shawl grew about 20% after blocking which was surprising, I didn't expect plain garter stitch to grow so much.


This was a really fast knit, it only took me so long because I was mostly working on it in Yarnia when things were slow. Right now it's on display there to help give people some fall/winter knitting inspiration. It will come back to live with me in the Spring.


I would definitely recommend this pattern to anyone who wants to try a basic triangular shawl without also having to keep track of a lace pattern, or someone who likes to be warm, but doesn't like the look of lace at all. I am anticipating knitting many more of Stephen West's great patterns.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Another hat

Back in September I got my hair cut, and got bangs for the first time since the 3rd grade. I love them, I think they look great, they totally suit me. However, they do take a modicum of styling attention... not much, but some. However, as finals creep closer and closer, I'm finding the need to roll out of bed and get out the door quickly more and more pressing. Since I usually shower at night sometimes my bangs can end up drying in some pretty weird bed-head type positions, e.g. 90 degrees from my forehead. This has made me come to appreciate knit hats in an all new way. It doesn't matter what my bangs look like if I shove them under a hat and leave them there all day.

I've been wearing the Bashful that I made in August quite a bit, but as the temps have dropped, the drappy lacy open nature of the hat isn't keeping me warm in the same way it use to. Also, I just have the one, so it limits my clothing choices on bad-hair days to things that go with purple. So I decided to make another warmer hat so that I could have more all around fashion choices.


A quick Ravelry search led me to Slouchy Hat with Pico Edge by Jan Wise which is a free pattern. The first 25 rows are knit on size 4 needles, the rest of the hat on size 8s. This makes the part around your ears nice and snug but still lets you have the wonderful slouchy hat look. Other than a row of eyelets around the brim, it's mostly stockinette with purl rounds every so often to add a bit of texture.


On the day I took these pictures my bangs were mostly behaving, so I let them be in the picture. It is nearly impossible to take a picture of yourself that is both flattering, and shows off knitwear well.

The yarn I used was leftover from a pair of convertible mittens I made over a year ago. The yarn is Cascade Rustic 79% wool 21% linen single-ply. It's medium-soft to work with, but after you wash it, it softens up much much more. This hat took less than a single skein. I wouldn't use this yarn for anything other than "plain" projects though because I think the yarn would hide any texture/pattern pretty completely.


When I showed the finished hat to Ryan he said, "It looks Slavic." I would have preferred, "It looks pretty," or "Wow, you're a talented knitter," but I'll take Slavic. At least they know how to get through some cold-ass winters...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Another satisfied knitter

Back in August, out of pure curiosity, I cast on Elizabeth Zimmerman's infamous Baby Surprise Jacket. According to Ravelry there have been over 13,000 of these little baby sweaters knit. I'm sure the reason why is the interesting construction. The little sweater is knit flat in garter stitch (no purling!) and then two little shoulder seams are sewn, buttons are attached, and a sweater magically appears. Here is what it looks like just after cast off (the red stripe is the cast on edge the yellow strip is the bind off edge.)


The weird ruffled shape comes from what, as you're knitting, feels like completely incomprehensibly placed increases and decreases. Then the folding happens. Magically you have something that looks like a sweater.


The seaming didn't take long at all. The seams are sewn from the neck to the end of the sleeve on the top of the shoulders. Buttons took me a little longer. I ordered some great polymer clay buttons from Orly Rabinowitz on etsy. The buttons took a while to get here since Orly is in Israel, but they're so cute and work so well that it was totally worth the wait. Also, I got to procrastinate on finishing without feeling guilty.


The variegated yarn comes from a Knit Picks Sock Blank that was dyed for me by schknitz on Ravelry for a swap. I used two strands together, so it was basically a worsted weight. The contrasting yellow was added as an afterthought when I did the math a realized that I was certainly going to run out of the main color. It's leftover Encore Worsted from way back when I knit a baby sweater for a boss who is a huge Green Bay Packers fan. Here is what the Sock Blank looked like before it was knit.


Now that it's done I have no idea what to do with it... I don't have a baby. I don't know anyone who has a baby. I don't know anyone who is in the process of making a baby. I think I might donate it to one of the charities to support the homeless in Portland. It's starting to get pretty cold here. If Bear can be this cute in the sweater, imagine how adorable it will be when it actually gets wrapped around a baby.


Sunday, November 7, 2010


I'm so proud of this little project. It's made from my very first skein of handspun yarn.



The pattern is Cherry Garcia by Adrian Bizilia and it's free through ravelry. The second picture shows the color better, but the first shows the cable pattern. I only had enough yarn to make it two cables tall instead of three, but the yarn is so bulky it is the right height anyway.


I'm guessing my handsupn was only about 80 yards because some of it was so bulky. Here is what it looked like in the skein.


It's very hard to take pictures of yourself without making weird faces...



Also, with my face shape, a cowl might not be the most flattering winter garment... it sort of gives me that "fatface" look since it doesn't hug my neck. Fatface aside, I love this project and will be wearing a lot this winter as the temps dip lower.