Friday, April 29, 2011

New Top

Finals stress is in really starting to get to me.  I've been spending the majority of every day in the library with my corporate tax books... who would have thought it's a complicated subject... (most foolish class choice ever... screw being a well rounded candidate for jobs.)  I have been taking my knitting with me every day, and it makes such a difference.  My system is to set myself up in a walled off study cubical (the ones by the windows are prime study real estate) spread out all my books on the desk and put my knitting within reach.  I work for 45 minutes then I take a 15 minute knitting break.  I find the 15 minutes I "lose" knitting gives me time to process the information I've just crammed into my brain and gives me a chance to evaluate whether or not I understand what I've just put in my outline.  Go ahead, ask me about §351 nonrecognition exchanges, I dare you.

As a result of all this study knitting (plus my "unwinding" knitting at night) I've completed three projects.  This was the first.  It took a while to get it onto the blog because I had to wait for a nice enough day to go out and get some picture.


It's my Gamine tank that I showed you half finished a little while ago.  Cathy Carron's super easy pattern is in the Summer 2010 Interweave Knits.  I knit the pattern almost exactly a written.  The only change I made was to hold off on the lace until the top was long enough to go over my pants.  I want the option of wearing this in the summer without something underneath it so eyelets all over the belly were less than desirable.  I like the lace as just a detail at the bottom.


The yarn is from Yarnia.  It's one of the house blends called "Spring" which is a totally appropriate name.  It's one strand brown-green cotton-rayon blend, one strand sage green cotton, one strand pale green cotton, two strands lime green merino, and one strand shimmery green lurex.  The pattern calls for worsted weight yarn, but this yarn is classified as DK.  I think Yarnia yarns tend to run a bit on the thick side, and I find it very easy to knit a Yarnia DK to a gauge more typical of worsted yarns.  This picture shows the color particularly accurately.


I was not expecting to have my picture taken...  I'm so proud of myself for actually finishing a project in time for it to be seasonable (I've been told spring is coming... I have faith.)  Usually I'm just finishing sweaters, mittens, scarves as the 80 degree weather is setting in.  This time, my stretchy cotton tank will be ready to go as the temps start to rise.


Other than finishing up knitting projects and spending hours and hours in the library my life is extremely boring right now.  I would kill for a few extra hours just to clean my apartment... but it seems that the next two weeks will be too busy.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

New Pattern Live!

My second knitting pattern has been released on Ravelry this week.  The Golden Ratio Blanket is available through the ravelry pattern store for $3.50.


This blanket is based on the mathematical golden ratio.  It comes in three sizes: Stroller (Crib, Throw) 29.6”x18.3” (48”x29.6”, 77.6”x48”). This blanket is made by starting with the smallest block and picking up stitches to add subsequent blocks. The blanket is finished with an applied I-cord edge.  The instructions also include directions for back-stitching or surface crocheting the golden ratio spiral onto the top of the blanket if you wish.

Using size 11(8.0mm) needles and bulky wool, this blanket actually knits up pretty quickly.  Great for the math-loving nerd in your life (or a treat for your math-loving-nerdy self.)

The two patterns that I've released can also be found on the "design" tab at the top of the posts.  You can purchase them by going to Ravelry and using their checkout system, or by clicking the "buy now" button on the design tab.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Sadly, I will not be working at Yarnia much longer.  For almost a year I've been there on the weekends winding yarn, chatting with customers, and being inspired by the endless possibilities that a shop like Yarnia presents.  On the up-side, the reason I'm leaving is because I managed to score a full-time legal clerk job for the summer.  Considering that I'm putting myself in an entirely foolish amount of debt to attend this law school thing, it seems like a good idea to start setting myself up for the possibility of a legal career.  I'll be in the shop this weekend, then a weekend off while the new person is shown around, then one last weekend as sort of a buffer while the new person transitions to running the show.  That means three weeks until I say my final goodbye.  It also means three weeks until my employee discount runs out.  Not good.  I have a project on the go that I'm fairly certain I'm going to run out of yarn on.  That project is my Gamine Tank.


The pattern is by Cathy Carron and can be found in the Summer 2010 Interweave Knits (miracle that I'm knitting a pattern from a magazine that's less than a year old... usually patterns have to stew in my queue for quite a while before I make them.  I tell myself that this is to ensure that they are not just fashion fads and are actually something I will still want to wear after the current season.  This is a lie.  I'm just a slow knitter.)

Note to self: learn more words!  "Gamine," as it turns out, basically means "girl with a boyish body."  That is so not me.  Not at all.  I have the boob/hip thing in abundance and would call myself a slightly bottom-heavy hourglass.  This might end disastrously.  As of the picture, the top reached my thinnest part and I have since continued to knit down.  I'm hoping to avoid drawing attention to my belly by continuing in plain rib rather than the lace pattern called for in the instructions.  I'll add the lace the the last inch or two rather than across the whole belly.  I'm hoping this will allow the flattering vertical nature of the ribbing to continue to shine.

I'm not a fan of the whole "take a picture in the mirror" thing but it was well past midnight when I decided my progress needed documentation and I figured neither Ryan nor my brother Adam would like to be pestered into coming over to my place for a photo shoot.  I would drive across town a midnight for a knitting photo shoot, but I know not everyone would. 

I only have about one ounce of yarn left.  I'm certain this is not enough.  I'm hoping to finish off what I have before I have to stop working that way I can buy just enough to finish.  We shall see.  I have a terrible time predicting how much yarn is left on a Yarnia cone.  Some times I feel certain that I'm going to run out, that the cone will start to peek through the yarn at any minute, and yet I keep knitting and knitting, and finish my project with yarn to spare.  Other times I think I have tons and start wondering what I'll do with all the leftover only to see the cone and get that sudden sinking "ran out of yarn feeling."  I'm hoping I will just need 2-3 ounces more to get through the last couple of inches.  Who knows.

Law school finals are bearing down on me.  My "study" approach so far has been to pretend nothing is wrong and go about my daily routine.  Sadly, this means the next four weeks will be "hell weeks" where I kick my own ass and study till my brain leaks onto the floor to make up for all the nothing's-wrong-at-all time I was having earlier in the month when everyone was starting their outlines.  This has been my system since the 8th grade.  It works for me.  I always hate myself the last 4 weeks for letting things get so far behind, push myself to the brink of insanity, tell myself I will be more pro-active in coming semesters, then (once the new semester arrives) I tell myself "well I did fine last semester studying at the last minute, everything will be fine this semester as well."  It's one of those cycles where early-in-the-semester-Melanie constantly screws-over end-of-semester-Melanie, and this me never gets to take out any revenge on that me, and so she never learns her lesson.  Coincidentally, if you have an outline of Corporate Taxation Law lying around your living room... call me.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

2 years, 5 months, 11 days

Did you ever read the Wayside School books as a kid?  They were some of my favorite books when I was in the 3rd grade.  One of the stories features a girl who draws pictures really fast, faster than everyone in the class.  Sadly, a girl who drew slower always got more praise, even though she produced fewer pictures.  Complaining to the teacher about never getting praised, the teacher explained to her that when you take your time to produce something, it usually turns out better than something that's been dashed-off with little thought--this is why master painters sometimes devote years of their life to a single work.  Leaving to go home for the day, the girl said she would draw a picture of a cat.  The teacher said he'd be glad to see it the next day.  The girl replied that this would be her masterpiece and she wouldn't even be finished with one whisker.

Upon finishing a pair of socks that have been on the needles for... 2 years, 5 months, 11 days quite a while... That old story popped into my head.  I had taken... 2 years, 5 months, 11 days much longer than average... to knit a project that a normal person could finish in a few weeks (and a fast knitter could finish in under a week.)  I'm certainly wouldn't call them a knitting masterpiece, but they're not bad.


The pattern is Small Capitals by Charlene Schurch from the Sensational Knited Socks book.  The book is great.  It's basically a recipe book.  It shows you about 100 different swatches.  You pick the one you want.  Then the book gives you instructions for a bunch of different gauges/sizes so you can use pretty much any weight of yarn and come up with the right size.

Here is a close up of the pattern.  It's a 12 stitch 8 row repeat and I was never really able to memorize the pattern (which may have been why these were left unworked for so long... I had to have the pattern with me at all times.)


(You can also see from the picture that the heel is a little baggy... That's a product of the 12 stitch repeat, not as easy to size because you can't just take out a repeat or two like you can with a 4 or 6 stitch repeat.)  The yarn I used is Noro Kureyon Sock.  The yarn is everything that the worsted Kureyon is--bold colors, knots that lead to colors in a completely different part in the color repeat, vegetable matter, and a very scratchy rustic feel.


Normally I would never pair a color changing yarn with a texture/lace pattern but the very long color repeats of the Noro allow the pattern to show up anyway.  I love the way these socks look.  To me they look like scales.  Even though the yarn is scratchy rustic they are nice and warm (we still haven't crawled out of the 50s here in Portland) and my feet really aren't that sensitive to the yarn.  I'm glad I knit these socks, I think they look great, but I will never knit this pattern again.  Ever.


(Yes, that is a dress with pockets.  Most awesome article of clothing ever.  I want an entire wardrobe of them.)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Intarsia Attempt

Years ago, when I first joined Ravelry, I queued several projects that were "out if my league" seeing as I was a brand new knitter.  Looking back at those projects now makes me smile at what I originally thought of a "too hard."  Some of my oldest queued patterns are: coronet, multidirectional diagonal scarf, and Bella shawl.  Now that I consider myself a seasoned knitter all of these projects seem easily within my skill set. 

One of the patterns I queued early on was Brainwash Bag.  An felted intarsia bag by Brooke Snow.  For Christmas, I got some yarn that I thought would work well for the project so I decided to give it a go.


The yarn is Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Worsted 100% Peruvian Highland Wool in colorways forest heather (dark green) and pampas heather (light green).  The yarn is held double stranded throughout and the project is knit on size 15 needles to facilitate felting. 

Working on such big needles is a bit unwieldy even with the yarn held double.  This makes the gaps in the intarsia especially prominent.  I can't tell if my skills aren't what the should be, or if it's "supposed" to be like this, and all will be taken care of in the washer.  The panel above is the front of the bag.  I have to make an identical back plus a strap, then sew it all together, then felt it.  The panel only takes a few hours because it is knit at such a big gauge.  The problem is I have to be seated and focused on the project because of all the intarsia bobbins.  I'll be sure to show you the FO once I get it done.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A gift

When My mom came to visit Portland in December, she spent Christmas Eve with me at Yarnia since I had to work.  While we were there she decided that she wanted to make some special yarn to be knit into a cowl/hood for her friend Nancy who will turn 60 this year.  My mom used to be a knitter, but had forsaken the craft for cross stitching years ago (heresy, I know!)  When I asked her if she was going to get back into knitting to complete the gift, she said "oh no, I'd have you knit it."  Oh. I see.  I'll knit it.  Great.

This is the yarn my mom created:


It's one strand plum-colored alpaca, one strand pink-purple wool/nylon blend, and one strand lavender rayon.  The yarn is very pretty, but I don't think it went with the pattern my mom picked out very well.


The pattern is Wavy Feathers Wimple by Caryll McConnell.  It's written for either a fingering or lace weight yarn, I did the fingering weight version.  The pattern is not charted, which for me is a bummer, but it could be charted pretty easily if you really need to work from a chart.

I don't think the yarn and pattern go well together because I think the lighter strand of rayon makes the yarn too tweedy to show off the lace pattern.


It also doesn't help that there's really no good way that I can think of to photograph a lacy cowl.  It's either laying flat so the double thickness obscures the lace or scrunched up around your neck.  If you have suggestions let me know.  


This puppy is now taking it's chances with the USPS to get to New Mexico where it can meet it's new owner.  The pattern is easy enough to memorize as the majority of it are plain knit rows.  I would consider making it again, but I do wish it were charted.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

It's done!

The blanket that I have been working on for Ryan since November is done!  Actually, it's been done since March 24 (or so Ravelry tells me, don't you love Ravelry for reminding you of such things?)  but I didn't have the energy or time to blog about such a gigantic project immediately since I had an unexpected visit from my dad plus hours of research work dumped on me at the last minute.  Anyway, you don't care about that.  You're only here to see this:


That blanket is 4 FEET x 6.3 FEET.  As you can see, it covers Ryan's entire futon.  This monster is so big that I could barely back away from it far enough to get good pictures in Ryan's smallish living room.


(Look in the background of this picture and you can see Lucy the Triceratops who lives on Ryan's bookshelf.)  The blanket is a knitted representation of the Golden Ratio, which supposedly produces the most visually pleasing rectangle.  The ratio itself appears in nature in lots of ways, tree rings, nautilus shells, even human brain waves.  The rectangle is made by organizing squares next to each other in a way that keeps the ratio 1:1.61803398... (That super ugly second number is phi, one of those irrational numbers the like pi or e that basically make the whole world work.)  Each square gets smaller and smaller.  Mathematically, this shrinking continues infinitely.  Since I haven't yet figured out how to knit infinitely small, I had to fudge a bit at the center.


The golden ratio also creates a spiral, which I had originally intended to crochet on the top of the blanket, but Ryan decided he thought the stark geometric look was more his style.  I used Swish Bulky yarn from Knit Picks (because I am no fool and knew that if this was ever going to get done I'd have to use bulky yarn.)  It's 100% superwash merino wool and it's heavenly soft and squooshy and wonderful to handle, especially in plump garter stitch.  The colors I used (from lightest to darkest) were: silver, hawk, stormy, coal.  I ended up needing about 2,475 yards of yarn.  That's 1.4 MILES! It would take me like 13 minutes of running to get somewhere as far away as the length of the yarn in this blanket.


That's a picture of me sitting on the blanket for perspective, lest you think I found a really tiny futon to throw it over.  (Yes the blanket is wrong side up in this picture, Ryan had it like that when I came over.  Funny to a knitter it seems like a horrible offense to a giant piece of knitting to have it displayed wrong-side up, but Ryan honestly can't tell the difference.  I guess this is a good quality for a blanket which really is better without a wrong side.  I'll take it as a compliment to my finishing skills.)

I wrote up a pattern for this beast, and also for two smaller sizes: stroller and crib.  They are basically created by knitting fewer of the blocks.  My blanket has 7 blocks, crib has 6, and stroller 5.  I also included instructions for adding the spiral in case anyone wants the complete math-nerd effect.  Right now it's being test-knit by some great Ravelers.  When they get their feedback to me I'll publish it via Ravelry and let you all know it's there.  You can also check out the Designs tab at the top.  Right now the only thing there is Spring Breeze, but I hope to get a few more there shortly.