Sunday, August 26, 2007

Almost anticlimactic, but not quite.

Guess what I finished while I was watching the Red Sox game this afternoon? I'll give you a hint: it was a curiously appropriate project. OK, I give, it was the second Bayerische Sock!

I believe the appropriate response is WOO HOO! They are lovely lovely socks. This is what they looked like yesterday:

Note the little gummi-bear thingy -- I got sick of the little 00 needles poking through the side of my purse, so I bought a set of sock needle protectors. Yesterday I was working on them on the train on the way to the museum where I work on Saturdays. You have to change trains at one point, because not all the trains go all the way to the end of the line. This can be confusing for some people, especially because many of the train drivers do not make very useful announcements.

As a result of this, I often end up advising families of tourists on how to get to the museum, and I did so yesterday, with a rather confused French family. After I told them I was going the same place and they could follow me, one of the girls in the family said something to her father about a chaussette, and I held it up and showed it to her, and this led to a whole long conversation in bad English (theirs) and worse French (mine). Sadly, I didn't remember the word for knitting (tricoter, of course! Je suis tricoteuse!) until about three hours later.

This is not the first time knitting on public transportation has led me into conversation with people who do not speak my language -- I remember one time (at this same station, actually, although I was going in the opposite direction, from a different home to a different job) I was knitting an afghan and these two Asian women were very interested in it. I got the names for knit and purl from them -- it was something like jo and lai, I think, but I've forgotten which was knit and which was purl.

OK, in closing, one more picture of the socks. Check out that toe!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

FO! It's been a long, long time...

Do I grin maniacally? Very well, then I grin maniacally, I have knit a damn hat! This is a fast fast project -- I knit it in just over 24 hours, 24 hours during which I slept, worked, prepared three meals and ate four, played Wii Sports for more than an hour, and did two loads of laundry! I need to knit more stuff with worsted weight yarn.

Pattern is the Bzzz Hat for Queen Bees from Stitch 'n Bitch Nation, and I used Araucania Nature Wool in color #37. I loved this yarn for this project because the subtle variations in the yarn give a very organic pattern/texture to the finished hat like a beehive. I guess like a beehive -- I don't think I've ever actually seen a real beehive now that I think about it (I mean I've seen box hives and I've seen hornets' nests but I haven't seen a honeybee nest in the wild, which is unsurprising really given the decline of the European Honeybee in North America over the course of my lifetime).

Anyway! The bee buttons are from the inimitable Windsor Button Shop, where I think they had four or five different types of bee buttons in stock. Check them out up close:

For cute! They're some kind of plastic. Given the extreme feltability of this yarn and the fact that these buttons are plastic and possibly soluble in dry cleaning liquids, this hat is going to be strictly hand wash in cold water only, which I hope is OK with the eventual recipient. If not, oh well, it only took me a day to make it! I will be making another one of these for myself, because look how cute I look in it, I mean really.

Why don't I knit more easy stuff?

A long, long time ago a friend of mine asked me to make her a Bzzz Hat for Queen Bees from Stitch 'n Bitch Nation. A slightly less long time ago (a monthish), she turned 30, and I thought I should have given her the hat for her birthday. And then last night, I cast on for the hat. I think this should be some sort of lesson for me, because look where I am on the hat as of quarter to nine this morning:

Good heavens, what was I procrastinating about? An excess of fiddly socks and shawls and cables and lace has blinded me to the delights of easy knitting! I should do more mindless knitting in front of the television (last night the MST3K movie Cave Dwellers and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby). The yarn goes so fast, though! A ball of laceweight or sock yarn or even the sport weight I'm using on the mittens would last me so much longer than the Araucania Nature Wool I'm using on this. I guess that's part of the reason I like knitting the fiddly things -- good value for money and portability of small quantities of yarn.

I think my camera is broken (not so my phone, hence the hideous hideous picture above), otherwise I would take pictures of the Bayerische Sock and the Hanami Stole, which are both coming along nicely.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The project I haven't been talking about

Well, that title makes it sound awfully dramatic, but actually it's just a project I rediscovered half-finished and have been working on off-and-on but never really posted about here. It's the Blackberry Mitten from Blackberry Ridge Woolen Mill.

I like them. They should go faster than they do, but I keep getting poor gauge (too big! still too big! too small! still kind of small! screw it!) and ripping the mitten back out and starting over. I know, I know, I should swatch -- but it would take me almost as long to swatch as it does to knit the whole cuff of the mitten. I rarely bother with swatches for small projects and unsized projects. Sweaters, absolutely. Tricky lace patterns that I'd like to get right before I cast on 200 stitches, sure. But seriously, the thought of ripping out four inches of mitten holds little fear for me.

One thing I like about this mitten is the braid detail. Check it out -- it's created by purling in alternating MC and CC with the yarn floated on the right side and twisted. On taking this picture, I notice that I've messed up the twist direction -- see over on the left-hand side? Maybe I should rip them out again -- that would make this the fourth or fifth time I've started this mitten. Imagine how quickly the left-hand one will go.

One thing I don't like so much about this mitten is the fair isle pattern. The floats are as much as nine stitches. I know that once I finish this will felt a bit and that won't be a problem, but I don't like it while I'm knitting. It does weird things to my tension.

Also in the up-close picture, I notice how hairy this mitten looks! Partly this is just the yarn. I like Blackberry Ridge yarns a lot -- they are wonderfully springy, the colors are nothing crazy or exciting but they're very attractive, and the yarns are both spun in the US and reasonably priced, which is nice -- but they can be a little on the scratchy side. Part of the hairiness is that I left this project out on the couch, with predictable results re: cat hair.

I was looking at the Blackberry Ridge website right now, and I noticed this pattern, which I am instantly in love with: Pine Tree Double Knit Mitten. It's a pretty obvious pattern, and I could do it on my own. On the other hand, I do like to support designers.

That's why I bought a totally adorable pattern yesterday at The Yarn Basket in Portsmouth. Check it out: Child's Kitty Cat Pullover. I just thought that cat had so much personality. I could have made something similar on my own but it might not have quite so much personality, and again, I hate to copy, especially from small-time people (I would have much less guilt about copying from commercial RTW designers, although I almost never do this, because usually the RTW patterns I like would be really boring and/or expensive to knit myself). Anyhow, I have no particular child in mind for the sweater, I just thought it was cute. And the yarn store woman said that the designer used to work in that very store.

Sadly, I didn't think to ask the yarn store to validate our parking, so we had to pay the full $1.50 on exiting the garage. Traumatic!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Great Yarn Audit

So I'm in a yarn-acquiring mood -- I want to get started on a sweater to wear this fall and winter, and I don't have anything right now that is screaming to be incorporated into a sweater. Part of the problem is that I like my sweaters lighter-weight, and a lot of my yarn is heavier, but also I just have a lot of yarn that I know I no longer need or want or even like. So I went through the stash -- my stash is pretty tame, since I'm a cheapskate with limited storage space -- and photographed everything so that I could see what I had, what I needed to get rid of, what I couldn't wait to play with!

There were nice things, ugly things, useless things and, I'm afraid, quite a lot of boring things. What's with the gray and beige?

Some things made me sad, like this:

One lonely ball of Trekking in a colorway I absolutely loved (it says 33 on the label, but I think it's a discontinued 33, sadly). I remember what the first sock looked like knitted up -- it was like flowers in a forest, all dark green with little bright-colored spots. I lost that sock, or something bad happened to it... I don't remember, it was at least two years ago and possibly I have PTSD about it. But now there's just this poor little ball left. I haven't given up, though; I think I can still make socks out of this, perhaps in stripes with a dark green or even brown. Heels and toes and cuffs in solid, and the rest of the sock in this pretty, pretty Trekking? Or maybe some nice knee socks with the cuffs, heels, and toes in Trekking and the sock body in something else? It could work.

Some things made me confused, like this bunch of gray yarns.

What made me want so much gray yarn? It doesn't even match itself! The top stuff looks like a cheap wig! I think I bought all of this around the same time; I guess I was just in a gray way. Actually, I can be even more specific about what caused me to buy the two Katia yarns: they were on sale. This was at a time when I had a somewhat different attitude about stash. A long time ago I knitted the Grecian Plait pullover from Knitty in the fuzzy yarn, but it wasn't a good substitute for the yarn in the pattern and the fabric was sloppy, and then I did an awful job of sewing it up, and then I washed it and it looked like a wet Westie. I think I gave that sweater to Goodwill, which is a sad ending for a handmade sweater, but there you go.

Or how about this:
That's about a third of the front of a big aran sweater I was going to make. It's way too big. It's way too oatmeal-colored. If you look closely, you'll see that I became so disgusted and annoyed with it I stopped IN MID-CABLE (the little green bit up in the corner is my cable needle). So now I have 13+ skeins of oatmeal-colored Elann Highland Wool and 9 inches of sweater I'll never wear.

Some yarns made me happy, although I have no more idea what to do with them now than I did when I shoved them under the bed:

These are from a purple period, I guess. The stuff on the top is bulky handspun something, and on the bottom is some kind of big huge yarn. I believe it's wool and it would probably get you three or four wraps to the inch. Fun stuff! There's some of it in my Afghan of Doooooom, but I have no idea what to do with the rest of it. It might make a nice hat.

Anyway, you can see the full extent of the carnage in my pics labelled yarn-audit at Flickr. And I am up for swapping much of what's there -- more pics and labels will be added over the next couple of days.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Ooh, new Interweave waiting for me when I got home today! (It's not mine, it's my roommate's, but she's out of town, so ha!) I've been in a sweater-knitting mood the last couple of days and I'm thinking I may make the Tangled Yoke cardigan and/or the Mirepoix bodice. I think the Mirepoix is awful cute, but I suspect that the fair isle section would end right in the middle of my boobs -- in this picture it's hard to see, but in the magazine it seems like the band is a little too short at least for the model in the picture. Of course it can be made longer, but I worry.

Any designers/fashion consultants out there? Where should bands like that end, for ideal fit? If a band stops immediately at the bottom of the breasts, that can look a bit matronly and over-emphasized. Should the band stop just short of the bra band line? Or is this just a difficult thing to wear, especially for large-chested types?

Ha! I just went over to the designer's blog and she thinks the model is a little too large for the sweater. But she also says the sweater was designed for her daughter, who is "a little stick of a thing." So I'm thinking some alteration would be necessary for non-little-sticks-of-things.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Pic pic pics

So, since I last posted, I have been on vacation!

(Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains, taken in Burlington, VT, which was not my final vacation destination but which was nonetheless a lovely place to stop for dinner.)

We all know what vacation means, right? Time for knitting! (And reading, and, you know, vacation fun.) I brought along all my current knitting projects -- this is actually just the Hanami stole and the Bayerische sock, and they're both very compact (the stole should be 19" by 70" complete and blocked, but the yarn is fine enough that it doesn't actually take up all that much room in the purse).

Unfortunately, I drove to my vacation destinations (Montreal and Mont Tremblant), which meant no plane/train/bus knitting, but I got in lots of hotel and pool knitting, which is also good stuff. I also did some car knitting, even though I was ostensibly driving -- there were serious delays at the border on the way home and I spent close to two hours going the last 1/2 mile to the customs plaza. Since I was in Park most of the time, I had no qualms about whipping out the knitting. A woman in a minivan I kept passing asked what I was making, and I held it up to show and said it was a shawl, and her husband/whatever said, "By the time you get to the states you'll be able to wear it!"

It wasn't quite stole weather by the time I got to Vermont, nor had I finished the shawl before my exciting interview with the customs guy (I nearly forgot to declare my Wheat Thins), but I got a pattern repeat or two done, and here's what it looks like now:

Not too bad-looking for unblocked lace! I'm on the fifth of seven repeats of the basketweave pattern; after that it turns to an every-row faux-random pattern of swirling petals. I love this baby alpaca yarn; it is super-soft and silky and I just want to rub my face on it. But I don't.

I also got some good vacation knitting done on the second sock (I'm determined to cure myself of second sock syndrome, and I've instituted a rule for myself where every time I finish a pattern repeat on the shawl, I have to work on the sock for a bit). Here's what that's looking like now:
Note that these photos were taken in natural light! It's an exciting breakthrough. This still doesn't look quite like the color looks to me -- it should be a bit darker maybe. More importantly, you can see the twiny stitches much better in natural light than with the flash or the assy camerphone.

Also, I should mention that I never turned comment notification on the Seven Year Sock, so I wasn't noticing when people were commenting. But now it's on! So I will notice and may even respond.