Saturday, December 31, 2011

100th project

According to Ravelry, I completed my 100th project this month.  I know that there are a few small projects (charity hats, blanket squares, etc.) that I didn't log as projects, but everything substantial has been entered into Ravelry since I began knitting in 2007.

Unlike many more veteran knitters I have never been a knitter "without" Ravelry, and honestly I don't know if I would love it as much without having such an amazing source of information and inspiration constantly available to me.  It's so fantastic that if I'm struggling with a pattern I can instantly find tons of other people who have worked through it before and help me out.  I can choose a pattern and instantly know if there are errata.  Wonderful.

Here is my 100th project.


This is Sharktooth.  It's the first pattern from the Stephen West Westknits Shawl Club.  Have I mentioned before that I have the most amazing boyfriend in the world?  For Christmas and my birthday (which fall way to close together for my personal enjoyment) he splurged and signed me up for a membership in the club.  For 5 months (starting in December) I will receive one pattern every month along with the yarn required to make the pattern.  Overall there will be 9 skeins of yarn meaning some of the shawls will take more than one skein.  All of the patterns AND the yarns have been designed by Stephen exclusively for the club.  I have always loved Stephen West's designs and his color sense has always appealed to me so I'm super excited to be in the club.


The yarn for the first installment was Madeline Tosh Tosh Merino Light in a colorway aptly named "Stephen loves Tosh."  It's impossible to capture the subtle nature of the colors of this yarn.  The predominate color is sort of a rust or bronze color but there is blue ranging from very dark navy-black to cobalt in some places.  Of course, being Tosh Merino Light it's buttery soft.  However, it does kink back up on itself a lot making it a pain to work with at times.  It's a problem common to single ply yarns and it's so soft and so beautiful that I mostly forgave it for the hassel.  


The club installments are shipped on the 14th of every month and I have given myself permission to tear into the packages and cast on immediately as each one arrives even though on of my goals for the new year is to finish up as many of the projects that have been lingering on the needles as I can.

I have my reservations about the way the club is being run.  I feel that the yarn store Stephen West has chosen to coordinate the club (because he is living in Europe) is not necessarily dealing fairly with the club members.  They have come out and said that there have been "mistakes" on their end and that it's all due to the fact that the club is large and hard to coordinate.  I will wait until the end of the club, trying to give them the benefit of the doubt, before I make a full evaluation of their level of service.  I do hope they have managed to work the "kinks" out and that it really was just a matter of organizing a large shipment for the first time.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Fastest Scarf Ever

A few weeks ago I knit the fastest scarf ever.  It was during finals and I needed a quick project to take the edge off.  Crystal Palace's Tutu yarn was just the right thing.  In two half-afternoons I had this scarf.


If you follow the yarn link above you can see the unusual nature of the yarn.  You knit through small openings at the top of the ruffle-y strand and the rest of the ruffle hangs down creating the texture of the scarf.

I didn't follow any pattern, I simply cast on nine stitches and knit every round until I was out of yarn.  I followed the cast on and bind off instructions provided at the link above.  Start the finish the scarf took about 5 hours.  Lots of the ladies in my knitting group were whipping them up for holiday gifts because they go so quickly, and I decided to jump on the band wagon.  (Mine, of course, was for me and not a gift.)

I'll admit I should wait until my hair is dry to take pictures, but my photographer (Ryan) is, sadly, not available to take pictures for me at my every whim.

I'm not too big a fan of the variegated colorways, but I think this yarn looks really nice in solid colors and creates a unique scarf unlike most other knit projects.  

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas is coming

In case you didn't know.  I didn't knit many Christmas presents this year.  I knit a pair of socks and some fingerless gloves for my grandma and aunt, but those were mailed off weeks ago and I wouldn't really call them "Christmas gifts" so much as just "gifts."  My brother is getting a pair of Triforce gloves sometime soon, but they're not his Christmas gift and I don't feel pressured to have them finished.

The one gift that I really felt pressured to get done for Christmas was my mom's and it's done.  I made my mom a set of BYOBs because she generally uses the grocery store-brand reusable bags and they fall appart pretty quickly.  These are much more sturdy.

I may have used them on my last shopping trip... Just to make sure they worked they way they were supposed to...

These were knit with the newest 100% cotton yarn in the Knit Picks line Dishie.  The colors are Swan (white), Azure (light blue), and Jay (dark blue).  The Jay color is sadly being discontinued so if you like it, you'd better snap some up.  I used almost 3 full balls of each of the main colors and less than one ball of the Swan.

My opinion of the yarn is that it is perfect for market bags, would make great exfoliating bath accessories--wash cloths, bath puffs, shower glove, etc.--but that it's probably not ideal for anything else.  The yarn is very tightly spun.  This makes it incredibly sturdy--I think the light blue bag has about 10 pounds of groceries in it in that picture.  At the same time it makes the yarn very rough.  I found my hands aching after working with it for too long because it had no give and had a stiff rigid feel.  I would never use it to make a garment or toys with, but sturdy bags, and bath things are right up this yarn's ally.


In this picture, the light blue bag has been through the washing machine and dryer but the dark blue bag has not.  You can see that after washing the bags shrunk in height but got wider.  Definitely something to take into account if you are knitting something where gauge is important.

As for the pattern, knitting it once was a bit tedious.  Knitting it a second time in quick succession was painful.  The pattern is basically a sea of seed stitch.  You knit a base in seed stitch.  Then pick up stitches around the base and work in seed stitch.  Add stripes in seed stitch.  Then you get a blissful 32-row break where you do a simple lace pattern.  Then it's back to more seed stitch.  Seed stitch stripes. Seed stitch handles.  You get the point.


All of the posts online say that these bags come out very big and they are not wrong.  I think these are still OK grocery bags, but they are certainly on the side.  I would probably size them down a bit--maybe take out 20 stitches or so.  They stretch quite a bit when anything heavy is put in them.  Anyway, I hope mom likes them.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Ryan's present

This year, Ryan is getting an iPod (he's already got it, so there's no risk of spoiling the surprise.)  His old iPod was stolen from his car earlier in November.  It was the second time someone has broken into his car and taken his iPod.  (Consequently, it's been easy for me to think of presents the past two years.)  Along with this year's iPod, I gave Ryan this:


It's an iPod case with a long i-cord attached to it.  It's not pictured because I was hasty but I attached the other end of the i-cord to a lobster clip.  The idea is that Ry can clip the iPod to himself so that he wont forget to take it out of his car.  It sucks that people are such jerks.  What sort of messed up sense of entitlement do you have to have to think it's OK to break into someones car and take something?  Jerks.  Pure jerks.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


It is all gift knitting all the time in my apartment.  I've decided that while I'm at home I should be working on my gift knitting exclusively so that I don't have to give too many gifts on the needles this year.

My mom is getting a set of BYOBs for her birthday this year (December 21) and as I've been working on them, I've come to appreciate the construction of the handles immensely.  They are so cleaver and so utilitarian.

First, you cast on the number of stitches your handle is going to be and you knit a little strip of stockinette four rows tall.


Next you fold the strip horizontally with the purl sides together so you have a double-thick strip of stockinette only two rows tall.  knit across the row knitting each live stitch together with one of the cast on stitches (which, since you've folded your fabric is up near your needles.  (The pattern has you cast on using a provisional cast on so that you are knitting two sets of live stitches together.  This is totally acceptable, but I find a provisional cast on slow and my way gives the exact same result.)  Here is my handle strip half knit so you can see what I'm talking about.


The stitches on the right have been folded and knit together with the cast on row, the stitches on the left haven't been worked yet.  Here it is from the back.


(Stitches on the left have been worked together, stitches on the right are waiting to be worked)

Once you've finished folding and working all your stitches across you have a double-thick round uber-squishy handle pad.   (From the front then the back)



Once you've made your handle pads set them aside until you're ready to knit your handles.  Bind off the  number of stitches your handles call for.  Then on the next round, instead of casting on over the gap as most patterns have you do, simply knit the stitches from your handle pad.  The rolled double-thick cushion really makes a difference if you're carrying a loaded bag.  It really cuts down on the way that handles can sometimes dig into your hands and makes the handle feel more substantial and less "fragile" than some bag handles feel.

The BYOBs come out huge, and I think a smaller size would really be more practical as a shopping bag, but even if I don't make the pattern again, I will definitely use this handle trick on future bags.  Genius.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

SIP (Spinning In Progress)

You know you are falling behind on your blogging when you non-knitting boyfriend notices that you haven't posted in a while.  (Thanks for the kick in the butt Ry! Love you!)  It's been a solid three weeks since I've posted anything.  Partially it's because I don't have anything finished and my favorite posts are showing off finished things.  Partially it's because the weather has been horrible... 5 straight days of rain... and there's been no sunlight to take pictures in.  My apartment is destroyed and I don't want you all to see the mess.  Really, I'm thinking of you all.  It's bad.

I've been very uncommitted to any one project lately so all my projects have some progress but not lots.  Mostly I'm trying to get some market bags done for my mom's birthday present (her birthday is December 21.)  I've got some socks going for working on at sock hour at the yarn shop.  A sweater that I started as part of an October knit-a-long and am only about half done with.  Socks that I can't work on at sock hour so only get attention when I'm on the bus.  A cabled pullover in bulky yarn that I love but don't focus on too much because every time I do I feel guilty I'm not working on gift knitting.  Granny squares for an afghan that I sometimes have interest in.

There are some other things I need to cast on as gifts, but I think I'll keep them a secret for now.  But I don't want to talk about any of that right now.  Right now, I want to show you my current spinning project.


That is 2 oz. of Alpaca/Silk from Abstract Fibers in colorway Mount Hood Rose.  This luscious fiber is 70% alpaca 30% silk.  I've spun it to a lace weight but I'm planning on spinning another 2 oz. and plying it so that I get a fingering weight.  I'm hoping for enough yardage for a triangle shawl--they make the best winter scarves because they cover the whole gap in my coat, not just up by my throat.

Spinning this was a bit hard to adjust to.  I've never worked with alpaca before or any other really long-stapled fiber and I wasn't used to drafting with my finger so far apart.  Once I finally figured it out and got in my rhythm it spins so smoothly and it can be drafted down to almost nothing.


The yarn is not as garish as the photos make it look.  The sheen from the silk and alpaca make it hard to photograph.  Especially in the bad lighting the weather has left us with here in Portland.  Don't expect good pictures on the blog again until June... grumble rain grumble grumble

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

New blanket just in time

I finished my OpArt.  Truth.  I know it's been on the needles since forever (June 30, 2009 cast on according to Ravelry.)  Don't you hate how Ravelry can remind you that you've been a complete and utter slacker when it comes to those lingering projects that just won't finish themselves? LOOK!


This is supposed to be our last day of sunshine before the winter grey sets in so I pretty much finished right on time as far as taking nice pictures is concerned.  It's huge, over 5 feet square.  Here it is on the floor with cats for scale (and because I couldn't get them out of the picture--my "shoo"s mean nothing to them.)


It's true what everyone says about blocking this, you have to be highly aggressive with it.  It comes off the needles totally wobbly and not at all square.  Here it is laid out pre-blocking.


See how it's all dimple-y and swirly at the corners? No good.  Time for pins and a yardstick.  I started from the center and pulled out one row of corners along the spiral and pinned them out.  Then I pulled out all the corners on the opposite side and pinned them too.  Here it is half pinned.


Then I did the same thing with the other two sides.  As you can see from the finished pictures, at some point, I had to take a "good enough" attitude toward the whole thing or drive myself crazy trying to make it perfectly square.

I used acrylic yarn (Carron One Pound in colors "off white" and "rose") so I had to kill rather than block.  After it was all pinned out I grabbed the steam iron and held it about 2 inches over the blanket and gave the thing a good steam.  I could see the yarn physically relax and settle into the pinned position.  It was pretty cool.  It also made the yarn way drapier and much softer.

Warning: if you make this blanket using this yarn, there is not enough to make the larger size.  I ran out halfway between the small and large size--with 9 rows left to go in the stripe I was working on.  Luckily a kind raveler sent me her leftovers and I was able to finish without having to buy a whole new pound of yarn.  Now to snuggle on the couch with some hot tea, my new blanket, and an episode of Star Trek.  I hate being cold, but I love being cozy... winter is a weird season for me.


Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

Two years ago my brother was looking for a Halloween costume, but couldn't find anything to fit his giant 6'10" body.  Enter my awesome sewing skills and Burda 2471.


Get it... a really tall Napoleon... Ha.  The pattern is only sized for men up to 6'3" so I had to alter ever pattern piece 7 inches longer.  I added the length along the waist "lengthen here" lines.  If I had used the lines for lengthening the chest Adam would have ended up looking like a flying squirrel.  I made the britches, vest, jacket, and even the hat.  Adam bought the boots.

Just for a size comparison, here's what I look like wearing the jacket.


It's a wee bit big on me.  Adam was down town running a muck this Saturday in costume and I guess many people stopped him to take a picture with the giant Napoleon.  It's a very good think Adam likes this costume.  It was a pain in the $&@ to make given the intricacy of the pattern and all the alterations I had to do.  I told him he has to be Napoleon for at least 2 more years before I'm ready to undertake making a new costume.

What was your Halloween costume?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Yarn Harlot


That's her.  She just wrapped up her book tour and Portland was the last stop.  I went to her 2008 book tour when she stopped in Madison, Wisconsin, and I think if it's possible, she's gotten even funnier.

My brother went with me.  I asked him too.  Portland feels pretty darn safe, but the location of the book store isn't close to the parking structure and there can be some strange people on the Portland streets, especially after dark.  My brother is very big.  People don't really mess with him.  How big you ask.  This big.


That's me, my brother, and the Yarn Harlot.  She is standing on a chair.  Her knees are at the same level as my hips, and yet, Adam is still taller.

Adam even chuckled several times during the talk she gave before signing books.  On the way out of the book store he said the strangest thing to me: "She sounds like you."  I discovered the Yarn Harlot's books about the time I started knitting and we seem to share the same sort of... impatient... nature when it comes to doing things the way we want.  Of course, Adam had never heard of the Yarn Harlot until I roped him into being my escort for the evening.  It sort of makes sense that he would attribute all the knitterly attitudes and frustrations to me since I'm the one he hears it from.  Still, I think of Stephanie as someone who has impacted my knitting attitudes greatly and contributed to the way I think about knitting.  I think it reality, I sound like her.  Still, it was a flattering sentiment.

Now off to knit Adam some Zelda inspired tri-force gauntlets, the price of his attendance.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Just my luck

Recently, I've been cruising right along on several projects.  I've got... eleven... current projects and over the past weekend I think I managed to work on 7 of them.  Part of the reason I was able to work on so many was that I kept running out of ^*$# yarn.  First, I decided to work on the market bag I'm making for my mom.


That's BYOB by Moria Ravenscroft from the Summer 2008 Knitty.  I'm making it with Knit Picks new cotton yarn Dishie.  It feels like a great yarn for market bags, dish towels, scrubbies, etc. but I would never make something like a garment with it--too stiff, it would never drape.  Soft, but stiff.  The pattern calls for two balls of a yarn that is 207 yards per ball for the main color.  Dishie comes in balls of 190 yards.  As you can see, those extra 34 yards are critical.  All I have left to knit are the handles.  An emergency ball is on the way and hopefully I'll have the bag done soon.

After that disappointment, I picked up a project I haven't worked on it quite a while and got pretty close to finishing.


That's the Op Art blanket by Melissa Dominguez from the fall 2008 Knitty.  (Clearly 2008 was a good year for Knitty).  I started this when I first moved to Oregon way back in July 2009.  Mostly, I started it as a way to use up the two huge skeins of Carron One Pound I was given by a well meaning family friend.  I figured two POUNDS of yarn would be enough to finish a moderate-sized blanket.  Imagine my extreme frustration when I ran out of yarn 9 rows from the end.  Since the size of the stripes matters, I can't just stop where I am and bind off.  I could go back to the last whole stripe, but I really wanted it to end on a white stripe... My own weird aesthetic.  That would mean going back a whole strip and a half and would leave me with quite a lot of left over yarn, thus defeating my plan to use up all the yarn with this blanket.

Ravelry to the rescue.  Another kind knitter used this yarn for a project and had about 4 ounces left over.  The yarn is coming to me as we speak.  I love living in the digital age.  I could not function in a world without "the cloud"..... mmm instant gratification, instant information, instant organization.

Had I not run out of yarn on these two projects I probably would have given them each some serious dedicated work and maybe had a few FOs to show for my weekend, but as it is, it was nice to revisit so many of my current projects and get back in touch with why I love them.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Susie's Mitts

My aunt Susie is pretty much a saint.  She lives with my grandma and basically takes care of her.  Grandma is pretty much at the stage where she shouldn't drive any more, so Susie takes her where she needs to go and all the palaces she likes do go (like doughnuts on Tuesday mornings.)

Grandma called me the other day to tell me that Susie's hands get cold when she has to drive in the mornings because the steering wheel is cold and asked if I could please make Susie some fingerless mitts for driving.  I decided on the Commuter Fingerless Mittens by Stephanie Sun from Knitty First Fall 2011.


I thought this patter was super cute when it first came out in Knitty and queued it immediately.  The request for fingerless gloves immediately brought the pattern to my mind.  I love the way they flip up to provide more finger coverage if you need it.

New camera!  I just got a new Cannon SX230 HS.  It's a pocket sized point and shoot and I love it!  It takes fantastic close up pictures don't you think?

The yarn is some of my favorite from the stash.  It's Berroco Pleasure 66% angora, 29% merino, and 5% nylon.  It's basically the snuggliest yarn there is.  Sadly it's discontinued.  I got 14 balls back when it went on close out (originally $13.99 per ball, I got it for $4.50 per ball) and have enjoyed deciding how to use it.  I have also made a Climbing Vines pullover with it.  It's wonderful to work with but the real magic happens once it's been washed.  The yarn blooms and becomes even softer and fluffier.  Perfect for keeping fingers nice and toasty.


The buttons are just simple silver buttons I found at JoAnn's last weekend, the same style on the back of the hand and on the palm just different sizes.  I was shocked at how expensive buttons have become!  It was $6 for these simple ones, more elaborate ones would have cost even more.  Oh well, since I used stash yarn the cost for the project was pretty low.  The project only took one ball of yarn and knit up in under a week.  If I didn't like my aunt so much, I'd seriously think about keeping these for myself.


Friday, October 14, 2011

My Grandma

My Grandma is a difficult woman.  I try to be patient with her and remember that she's a product of a very different time and a very different upbringing.  My Grandma wants to tell everyone what everyone else's problem is and exactly the path they should take to fix it.  Needless to say, my Grandma's 1940s Catholic ideals are slightly different from my own... At the same time, she's my Grandma and I love her and I feel like I should do nice things for her.  A few weeks ago, my Grandma called me asking for some wool house socks.  These are the result:


These are the faceted rib socks by Charlene Schurch and Beth Parrott from the Little Box of Socks.  I love those little cards, they're so easy to pop in my purse and carry around.  The pattern creates a very dense fabric.  Even though these are made with standard sock-weight yarn, I don't think they would fit in any ordinary pair of shoes because they are so thick.  All the better since they are meant to be house socks.  Also, the pattern takes a lot of stitches because it doesn't have a lot of stretch so it eats yarn.  I had 380 yards and, as you can see, I had to result to "complementary" yarn for the toes.


The main color yarn is Pico Accuardi Dyeworks La Libera in colorway Hyperspanner (I don't know how long that link will be good for, I think the company is closing down, which is too bad because it's pretty good yarn).  The yarn is slightly thick in some places but it has a nice tight ply and a good sproing.


The toes are some Knit Picks Special Buy Sport Wool in colorway Amethyst Heather  that I ordered long ago and haven't found a use for yet.  Its yarn that was over-spun so they sold it for $1 per ball.  I ordred a bunch of it, but haven't really used it until now.  It's very tightly spun and feels dense the way that hand spun yarn often does.  Even though it's sport weight, I don't notice much of a difference between the toe and the rest of the sock.


Grandma won't like them.  She finds fault with everything.  The color will be wrong, or the fit, or the pattern... something.  Of course, if I didn't make them, then I'd be un-loving and mean to an 85-year-old woman and I'd never hear the end of that earlier.  So, I'm just going to package them up, send them off with a nice card, then refuse to take any calls from Grandma for at least a month... You know, like an adult.  

Friday, October 7, 2011


I debated about posting about this since it's not really far enough to have any good pictures, but this project is so heavenly I thought I would share the love.  I've been working on the Dahlia Cardigan for the past few weeks on and off and every time I pick up the project it's pure bliss.

I'm not very far along because I have other projects that "need" to be done so I've been trying to be good and focus on them and only work on this every once a while but just look how lovely it is so far:


That is almost all of the lace pannel for the back of the cardigan.  The lace is pretty simple but you have to keep track of where you are in the pattern since it is repeated 4 times every row.  The pattern starts with this fun bit a lace that is just the right amount of challenge, then changes to easy-breezy stockinette for the rest of the pattern with some interesting construction elements thrown in.

The pattern, as written, has long square fronts which look cute on some, but I'm not really into the flowing -front style that is so popular right now.  I plan to do some short-row experimentation and see if I can get a more typical cardigan style shaping.

The pattern is fun, but the real reason this project is heavenly to work on is the yarn.


This is String Theory Caper Sock.  Heaven.  This is hands down my favorite yarn.  Better than Malabrigo.  Better than Madeline Tosh.  It's the perfect.  By clicking that link, and looking at the pictures above, you can see that their colors are absolutely amazing.  Sadly, what the pictures can't show you is how amazing this yarn feels.  The yarn is 80% merino, 10% cashmere, 10% nylon.  It's so amazingly squishy and soft and snuggly and makes perfect plump squooshy stitches that just look happy.

The other two projects that I'm working on that "need" to be done sooner than later are some socks for my grandma to keep her feet warm this winter (she is having circulation issues and always has cold hands and feet) and a set of market bags for my mother that are long long long over due...  I try to work on those most of the day and just get a few guilty-pleasure rows of this cardigan in before bed.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Speed Knitter

I love working with bulky yarn.  I think chunky things are so cozy and I think big fat stitches are adorable.  Plus there's the added bonus that whatever your knitting feels like it knits up at warp speed.  Especially if you've been working with finer yarn for a long time.

I've been working a very complex sock for a long time and haven't even turned the heel on the first sock yet.  *sigh*.  When Irina Heemann asked for testers for her Bulky Rhombus Shawl Shoulderette, I jumped at the opportunity.   I mean, a whole shawl in less than 200 yards of yarn?!  Perfect relief from sock-knitting hell.  In three short evenings I had produced this:


Beautiful, no?  The pattern is basically just a chart, there's not much written instruction at all.  That being said, I found the chart very easy to follow (all wrong side rows are purled straight across.)  We testers did find a few errors in the chart, but hopefully this means they've been cleared up for all future comers.


The pattern, as written, doesn't have the pointy edge around it.  That was my own addition.  I was worried that the edges would curl under, even after blocking, if I left them "raw" so I crocheted the peaked border on after I finished the knitting.  I used this Triangular Edging which worked like a charm.  I didn't do any calculations before hand (dangerous!) I just started in one corner and it just happened to "fit" the shawl perfectly.


I used some Knit Picks Swish Bulky left over from this monstrous blanket.  The colorway is called Hawk.  I think it's the perfect neutral grey to go with my black winter jacket without clashing with any of my clothes.  I've said before how much I love this yarn, but I'll reiterate again that it's so plump and soft and smooshy and one-hundred-percent pleasant to work with.  It does pill a little, it's merino, buy a sweater stone, get over it.  (Also, it's superwash.  If you make a garment with it and you put it through the washer, it will come out huge.  Instead of freaking out, throw it in the dryer for 30 minutes.  It will pop back into shape just fine.  Have faith.  Throw it in the dryer!)

I love the magic of blocking.  Here it is just off the needles/hook:


And here it is stretched out tight to block:


It went from a bunchy ugly mess to the lovely flowy drapy shawlette you see modeled above.  Blocking = Magic.  Have you blocked anything lately?