Sunday, May 27, 2012

I hate it.


Doesn't look too bad from the back right?  I mean, you can tell there's something a little bit weird about the neckline, but it could just be the way I'm standing, a trick of the light, something non-fatal to the awesomeness of the sweater right?  Wrong.


What the hell sweater!  How can that be your neckline.  What are you from the 80s?  You think it's cool to be all off-the-shoulder?  Well it's not the 80s and that's not cool!  You're a #$%^*@! sweater.  You should cover me and keep me warm.  Now I know that I altered you heavily, but really all I did was shape the lower body--under the armpits--to bring it around so it can close in the front.  I love this sweater from the armpits down.  The neckline is unacceptable.


Now that I'm finished with this sweater I realize why the neckline is so dumbass.  Because the back is one giant rectangle.  It is in no way shaped to account for the shoulders.  SHOULDERS!  Everyone has them.  It's dumbass not to account for them.  The sweater needs a yoke.  It is impossible to give this sweater a yoke if you knit the back as written.  I would have to take the sweater all the way back to a giant pile of yarn and completely write my own pattern to create something I wanted to wear.  Le Sigh.  


I always forget that even if some pictures look OK, you have to keep in mind that mostly people are posing for pictures and maybe they're trying really hard to hide the dumbass aspects.  Well with the above photos I have done my best to show you exactly what sucks about this sweater.


The leaves on the sleeves are cute, but they can't really compensate for the lameness.  I love the yarn, but I don't think I can stand to frog the whole sweater just to get the yarn back.  Anyone want an ugly sweater?

Friday, May 25, 2012

I'm not dead... yet

A little over a week ago I graduated from law school.  BAM.  Juris Doctrate.  Me. Earned. Done.  Well... not really done at all.  See, graduating law school doesn't really mean #$@* if you don't also pass the bar exam.  The bar exam is a TWO DAY test that basically requires you to know ALLTHELAW!  I'm taking a class to prepare and it's basically resulting in 10-12 hours of work every day 7 days a week.  So if you don't see me until July 26th, that's why.

Proof that Ryan and I both graduated.

Proof that Adam woke up early enough to make it to the 10:30 am ceremony.

Even though I have been in the black hole of bar-study land, I have still been knitting.  In fact, I get a lot of knitting done because there are 3 to 4 hours of lecture every day and knitting through the lecture is about the only thing that keeps me awake.  I've got a sock quite near completion and today I cast off my Dahlia Cardigan.


I hated was not fond of the front of this cardigan, so I used decreases and short rows to heavily modify it.  The magazine actually does not show any straight-on photos of the front, so I didn't know I hated it until it started popping up in people's finished projects on Ravelry.  Normally I have a one-year rule: never knit anything until the pattern has been out for at least a year that way all the mistakes can be found by others and it will become readily apparent if it looks terrible on actual people.  I didn't follow this rule and cast on as soon as the magazine arrived.  I was about halfway through the back before I started to realize that I hated the front.

My desire was to turn it from the weird hang-y thing that the pattern creates if you knit it as-written into something resembling a traditional cardigan.  I will know to what extent I succeeded when it is dry and I am able to try it on.  It was too curled up after knitting to see how it would actually hang, so I really have no idea what I'm going to get.  I can already tell that the neck will not be 100% what I would have wanted, but I think to truly "fix" the pattern I would have had to write a completely new pattern (as opposed to half a completely new pattern.)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Happy Birthday Adam!

My gigantic/little brother turned 22 this month.  Naturally, I knit him his present.  A while back I came across a pattern for triforce gauntlets and thought they would be the perfect blend of nerdy nostalgia for Adam.


He seems to like them.  The pattern, by Emily Hastings, is free on Ravelry.  For those of you not familiar with one of the best videogame series of all time, the Triforce is from Zelda.  If you haven't played Zelda, do, but be sure you have about 50 hours of free time you can afford to lose.

I gave him that shirt on a previous birthday.  I am an awesome sister.

The yarn is nothing special.  The brown is Red Heart Super Saver in Cafe Late and the tan is Vanna's Choice in Linen.  Both are 100% acrylic.  Adam is super hard on all his clothes/belongings and acrylic seems to stand up the best to his shenanigans.  


I know I've mentioned that my brother is a giant freak of nature but here's a little more proof.  Above he is pictured with my dad who is 6'1".  At 6'10" Adam is over a full head taller.  Freak.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The right tools

It's extremely important to have the right tools when knitting.  I don't mean that you have to go out and buy the fanciest of everything.  A paper clip makes a great cable needle, stitch mater, or stitch holder if you're being thrifty (or if you're like me and have purchased about 1,000 of each but can't seem to find one when you need it.)  However, there are some tools that you really need to invest in.  My must have tools are: A good tape measure (cheap ones stretch out over time and suddenly the 10 inches for the armhole of your sweater is much deeper than it should be); bent-tipped darning needles (they make seaming SO MUCH EASIER, seriously you will wonder how you ever survived before); and good needles.

My Pear Drop Shawl with my Size 4 32"Signature needles.  Having good needles is making this project so much more enjoyable.

Good needles are probably the most importnat. The needles you use can make a project the most miserable experience ever if you get the wrong ones.  For example, if you're knitting with a fiber that is really "grabby" like mohair and you are using bamboo needles you are probably going to want to stab your eyes out.  The fiber, by its nature wants to stick to things and bamboo needles are "rougher" than others meaning there will be a lot of friction between you yarn and needles and you will be pulling against this friction with every stitch.  Conversely, if you're using 100% silk or bamboo or some other very "slippery" fiber you will probably love bamboo needles because the bamboo will "grab" the slippery fiber and keep it from slipping right off your needles.  (I have a silk-rayon shawl that I started on metal needles but it kept sliding right off the needles if I picked them up vertically.  After loosing all my stitches twice because of this, I wised up and switched to wooden needles and haven't had the problem since.)

Aside from choosing the right type of needle for your fiber, you should think about the type of project you will be working on.  For example, cables put a lot of tension on your wrists to make because you have to leverage the stitches around one another.  Also, because they are twisted, cable stitches are tighter and harder to get your knitting needles into than "normal" stitches.  If you are a tight knitter to begin with, you might find that you break wooden needles when knitting cables.  On the other hand, if you aren't too tight of a knitter, you might prefer wooden needles because they have a bit more give (the needle is literally more flexible) than metal needles and therefore the needle absorbes some of the tension from the twisted stitches and keeps it from transferring to you wrists.  I prefer acrylic tip needles for cables because the acrylic is flexible like wood, but the needle point is often sharper than wooden-pointed needles making it easier to "dig" the needle into the tight cale stitches.

The last thing that is very important to consider is the sharpness of the needle tip.  Sharp tips are absolutely essential for lace knitting.  When you knit lace, you are manipulating tiny tiny yarn in lots of ways.  Often there are many increases and decreases every round.  It can be nearly impossible to get a blunt needle to "k5tog tbl"  With a sharp needle you have half a chance of actually enjoying the nupp-making experience.  Blunt needles also have their place.  If you are having problems because you a knitting with a yarn that is "splitty"--i.e. you keep knitting through the plies of the yarn rather than around the yarn strand--try working with a blunter needle.  A sharp needle can slice right through the plies and actually makes it more likely you will split your stitches if you are knitting fast.  A blunt needle can't penetrate the plies and is more likely to slip around the yarn strand like it is supposed to.

Some people think it's a bit excessive when I mention that I have 4 complete interchangeable needle sets, (as well as many other non-interchangeable needles) but I like to think that I just have the right tools to execute my craft in the best way possible.  I don't just need "a size 6 needle."  I need a size six needle that is: wood, metal, acrylic, sharp, blunt, long, short, etc.

Do you have a huge knitting needle collection?  Only a few?  An interchangeable set?  Two?  Four?  Do you only buy needles when you decide to do a project that calls for them?  Are there sizes you don't own?  Sizes you own more than 6 of?  I'm curious.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Things that are done:

1. ALL the laundry.  This is a very good thing.  If I hadn't done laundry today my clothing options for tomorrow would have been a bathing suit or a cocktail dress.  I hate using public laundry machines.  You have to carry a heavy basket far, you have to scrounge quarters or make a special trip to the bank, and worst of all, you have to deal with jerky other people who leave their wet clothes in the washer for 3 hours before coming back for them... Gross dude.

2. The bathroom.  It sparkles now.  I scrubbed it.  There was Commet and PineSol and Windex involved. My toilet needs maintenance (the tank won't stop running unless you jiggle the handle just right) but I felt like the bathroom needed a serious clean before allowing it to been seen by a stranger.  No more tub ring. No more sink ring.  No more little toothpaste specks on the mirror.  It's almost like a adult lives here and not a 17-year-old girl.

3. Cumulonimbus.  The last installment of the Stephen West Westknits Shawl Club came in April and it came off the blocking board this afternoon.    This means I completed all five shawls, each within one month.


The pattern is basically vertical intarsia stripes.  The shape comes from simple increases and decreases.  It's was by far the easiest of the 5 shawls to make.  The most difficult part was stopping ever few rounds to be sure the four strands weren't tangled.  


The yarn from this installment was Hedgehog Fibers Sock yarn.  It's a basic merino nylon sock yarn blend.  The colors were April Showers (light blue) and Fool's Day (dark blue).  I find that it's wound a little loose to be good for actually making socks.  In fact, I was really disappointed with the way this yarn was milled.  One of my skeins was fine, but the other was plied so badly at the mill that there were many places where the plies had twisted back on themselves making thick rough spots in the yarn.  Now that it's knit up, you can't really see the flaw, but you can feel it when you run you hand over the project.  I wouldn't choose to use it again.


It was too warm to wear scarves/shawls today, but I managed to hang in there long enough to get this modeled shot.  Luckily May in Portland is pretty fickle and I would bet the temps take another dive before it gets warm for good.  Here's hoping I get to wear it at least once before next winter.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


May marks the beginning of the second year of the monthly knit-a-longs at my LYS For Yarn's Sake.  Each month the shop picks a project and hosts some time once a week to work on it, get help, trade advice and modifications--it's lovely.  I haven't participated in all of them but have done quite a few.

Last May it was Jared Flood's Rock Island.  It's extremely intricate double-sided lace.  I got about 12 repeats into the border--you need 71... I'm planning to go back to it now that school is over and I can focus on things like double sided lace.  Here's what I have:

Pathetic, I know.

June was not a month I participated.  The project was the Radian Yoke sweater by Wendy Barnard.  I love this cute summer tee and plan to make it eventually, I just didn't have the time or (if you can believe it) the right yarn.

July and August were devoted to the same project.  The Lissajous Socks by Cookie A.   I'm still actively working on these.  Actually, "actively" might be a bit strong.  "Reluctantly" is more accurate.  Now that the knit-a-long is well over I've only been working on them for an hour a week at sock hour at the yarn shop.  I have one complete and I'm almost through the big chart for the second one.

Turns out, slow and steady does NOT win the race.

September was also a month I participated.  And also a project I have yet to finish.  I'm also still working on my Dahlia Cardigan by Heather Zoppetti.  This one is so close to being done I can taste it.  All I have left is the left front of the cardigan.  I don't have a photo since finishing the right front, but I did snap one after I had finished the back and sleeves.  Hopefully I will be showing this off as an FO soon.


October was another intense lace project--the True Love Stole by Wendy Johnson.  This was a project that a lot of the knitters had a hard time getting into (the chart is a 45-row repeat!) and I doubt I'll ever really sit down to make this one.  I do think it's lovely though--just too fiddly for me currently.  Maybe someday I'll want something really fiddly and I'll come back to this one.

November and December were devoted to the Larch Cardigan by Amy Christoffers.  I didn't get in on this project either because finals were just heating up for fall term and I didn't have the time.

January was scheduled as a "catch-up" month and I spent some extra quality time with Dahlia--after you finish the lace back it's a never ending sea of stockinette.  

February was the first project that I actually finished (don't judge!) and only because it was a hat.  The Rustling Leaves Beret by Alana Dakos was a nice quick knit and allowed me to use up some silk-alpaca handspun I was itching to find a project for.  

Yeah for small victories!

March and April was another two-month project with a twist.  We got to choose to either make the Gnarled Oak Cardigan or the Wildflower Cardigan both also by Alana Dakos.  Some crazy women decided to knit both since we had two months.  In two months I didn't even manage to finish the back piece of the Wildflower.  I don't have a picture of my progress yet since right now it's just a big slab of stockinette.  All of the fun is on the front of this one.  When I get something more interesting than a rectangle of stockinette I'll show it off.

Now, year two is kicking off with a beautiful little shawlette from Ysolda Teague--the Pear Drop.  Do you think I will be able to finish within the month?