Sunday, December 28, 2008

secret gnomes love cashmere

In my office's "secret gnome" gift exchange, I pulled a co-worker who I thought would appreciate a little cashmere something. Luckily, I had a great skein of Plucky Knitter Aran Cashmere that was waiting for a project. Unluckily, I only had six (very, very busy) days to crank something out. So I turned to my old favorite, the Odessa pattern by Grumperina. Not to repeat myself yet again, I decided to forgo the hat's decreases and turn it into a little neckwarmer. It's as if I knit something different, right? Right? (Deets on Ravelry if you want them.) Having very little time to finish this project meant that I had no time to get decent pictures, but here's one to show off Connecticut's first snowfall of the season:

As someone who is technically from Wisconsin, I can authoritatively say that people in Connecticut do not know how to drive in the snow.

Posting about this Grumperina pattern reminds me that I never posted about my last Grumperina hat, also knit in Plucky Knitter Aran Cashmere. (Maybe this is what Wamps means when she talks about me overdoing it with the aran cashmere hats...) Anyway, here's my Weather Report hat, the name inspired by the combination of its lovely color (the Golightly colorway) and a pattern that reminds me of precipitation:It's Grumperina's latest hat pattern, Tretta, modified for the bulkier yarn. (Mods here) I probably don't *need* two cashmere hats, but I'm keeping this one for myself because I can't find last year's. (It's in a box, somewhere, I'm sure.) Even once I find that one, I think I can justify keeping both, since that one was a little baggy when I wore my hair down and this one is too short when my hair is in a ponytail. Indeed. What a justification. But the top of this hat also makes me really happy:I've knit quite a bit for holiday presents this year, but the secret gnome gift is the only one that's actually made its way to its recipient. Perhaps I'll post about the others in the new year. While three of the yet-to-be-posted projects are repeats of past projects, only one of them is a repeat of a Grumperina hat....

Monday, December 22, 2008

Baby Cole's sock yarn sweater

Baby Cole's Thanksgiving Sweater

Cole - age 2 months - is wearing the sweater I knit from a skien of hand died sock yarn I bought at Stiches East, a knitting EXPO in Baltimore. The theme of the EXPO was "Knitting Outside the Sox" - lots of sock yarn and ideas for things to knit with it besides socks. Size 12 months - but it just fits!
(Cole is the child of one one of Emily's grad school friends from Emory. She lives in DC ad we've adopted her and her husband for Thanksgiving.)

Duomo Hat

I love this hat and this yarn and this pattern!

The yarn is called Florin (yes, the city-state) and is an amazing aran cashmere by the pluckyknitter. The pattern is Brooklyn Tweed's Koolhaas, and together, they produced this warm, soft piece of headwear that reminds me strongly of the red roofs and church dome in Florence.

When I bought the yarn I had in mind a kind of Renaissance decorative stitch pattern, because I'd imagined it would be golden orange, but the actual hat turned out to have shades of brown that I absolutely fell in love with.

I've also been wanting to knit one of Brooklyn Tweed's patterns for a while now (his blog and the photos there are like knitting candy) and given how Miss HEB has been reworking hat patterns for her skeins of plucky aran cashmere, I thought I might try my hand the Koolhaas.

I knit most of this hat over Thanksgiving and during the drive up the coast from balmy southern CA to rainy northern, and then finished it up after my studio presentation. I will admit that, due perhaps to diminishing amounts of sleep, I did manage to forget where I was in the pattern at one point and never completely figured it out until after I'd taken a guess and moved on. Stitch marker for anyone who can identify the "oops" correctly!

This last shot is just to add a little atmosphere. I left my camera in California (also the reason for the dated pictures) and had to retake these hat pics here in Texas. You can see my sister's goats to the right, and beyond that fields and fields of other country happenings. It's been cool and grey here pretty steadily since my plane landed (5 hours late!) in Austin on Friday. I have to admit, even without the big Texas sky, these softly rolling hills and misty grey-purple trees and brush warm my heart just a tad. A cow just mooed very loudly in my direction to remind me to add: yes, there are also cows!

Gracing my neck is a little bit of self-indulgence (I'm giving the hat away! I deserve it!) that I think I'll be ripping out this afternoon. More on that once the yarn and I figure out what it should be.

Friday, November 28, 2008

"realistic just means not very pretty"**

I'm taking the excuse of being at home to post about my mom's birthday present. You've already seen it in various forms, but here's the finished product.The pattern is the Old Shale Smoke Ring and it's knit in Plucky Knitter Merino-Cashmere-Nylon. The yarn is from the PK yarn club, to which EW and I share a subscription. (This offers us the opportunity to fight over who gets to keep what yarn every month. Really a good idea all around. But it also lets us get beautiful yarn.) This particular yarn is the Colonel Brandon colorway, from the months that the club was featuring Jane Austen colorways. I received this yarn while studying for the bar from home this summer and wasn't in love with it right away, but when I was talking about sending it to EW, my mom said, "Oh, but it's so pretty!" Well, that decided that, and EW got Miss Marianne instead. (Which clearly turned out for the best.) And I grew to love this yarn, with its variation and depth that were not immediately apparent: highly appropriate given its namesake.

I got the idea to add an Elk brooch to the cowl from a Raveler who'd used such a brooch to good effect. Although I thought I'd ordered it in plenty of time, coming from Australia took even longer than I thought so it didn't show up until the day before my mom's birthday and the whole package was delayed getting to her. I could have sent it without, but didn't think the effect was quite as good: ** Declaration by my five-year old cousin. She was coloring turkey shapes with her twin brother and asked whose was better. I said, "Well, they're both good in different ways. Yours is much more of a fantasy and his is much more realistic."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Miss Marianne

What once was a pile of string..... now a beautiful thing!

Ok, sorry, couldn't resist. I am rather happy with how this lovely cowl turned out.

I really enjoyed knitting with this pattern–it was easy to remember, easy to pick up in the middle of a row or repeat (crucial for transit knitting) and, perhaps most importantly, look how pretty! The color variation in the yarn (Miss Marianne Dashwood, from the Plucky Knitter) really looks lovely in the finished, blocked version. Soon it will be off to its recipient, who will hopefully enjoy a little Marianne in her life.

finished object parade

Thanks to a long phone conversation with CH on Saturday (and to actually remembering to bring my headset in from the car) I had some time to take care of some long unfinished objects. Like these fingerless mittens:I'd almost finished them about a month ago, but couldn't bring myself to finish one thumb and sew in the ends. Perfect mindless knitting for a phone conversation! These are the Mahayana Flying Gloves, using the Plucky Knitter Worsted Merino. When I first saw the Leyburn sock pattern, I thought that it would make fantastic gloves. Imagine my delight to find that someone had already worked out fingerless mitts using the same stitch pattern! You can find my mods here (rav link; if you're not on ravelry and are curious, let me know and I'll post them, but they are pretty boring...) I'm pretty darn pleased with these, so I hope to knit them again soon, probably with thinner yarn.

And then this hat, which is for my grandma to wear at the North Shore of Lake Superior over Thanksgiving.

All I had left to do was sew in the ends, but I hadn't been able to force myself to do so. However, it's got to get in the mail this week, so I couldn't avoid it any longer. I actually knit this hat twice: the first attempt was using 8s and 9s and casting on 70 stitches. I liked the way it turned out, but decided that my grandma would prefer a little tighter knit. So I frogged and reknit on 6s and 8s, with a cast on of 80 stitches. Now, I think it’s perfect for her.

This is the same pattern that I knit for myself last winter (Odessa, by Grumperina), and I was delighted to get to knit it again. (The pattern is available as a free Ravelry download.) I used a skein of the Plucky Knitter Aran Cashmere and am so happy to get to gift such lovely yarn to my grandma!

I have two more recently finished knits that I need to post about, but they weren't finished during this conversation, so I'll save them for another day.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

all inside out

I've knit a couple of things inside out lately. The first one was by accident. This is what it was supposed to look like.But the more I knit, the more I liked the reverse side better.

So I turned it inside out before gifting it (belatedly to Andrea to go with her new Orla bag).
The second one was on purpose. As I was working on converting a stitch pattern from straight needles to circulars, I realized that knitting the reverse side would allow me to knit much more than purl. And since that's a trade that I'll always take, reverse side knitting it is! Here's what that looks like:
You'll have to wait to see what this looks like when it's turned inside out since it's not ready to be gifted yet.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

This is my Metro vest - lost and found.

I started this vest on our trip to Scotland/England last spring, but when I was over half finished with the back, last I left my bag in the Metro one morning in June (along with my Blackberry, a confidential grant proposal, and a $4000 tax refund check). Of course I was most upset about the knitting! I reported to Lost and Found but gave it up for lost when I got no response and replaced everything, including buying new yarn for the sweater, which I had become attached to. On the thirtieth day I decided to call, despite the message they had sent when I filed the Lost report, saying don't call us, we'll call you if we find it. They said they had sent me an email 4 days after I lost it, but I never received it. My bag and I were joyfully reunited, but I didn't resume work on the vest until after the county fair projects were complete. This was much easier and faster than the Ladybug sweater, because there were never more than two colors in a row, the yarn was heavier, and the pattern was repeated and symmetrical. If anyone really loves it, I have enough yarn for another!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

My first baby blanket

I hated this most of the time I was knitting it. First, I couldn't get a good rhythm down. (HEB tells me that my pattern was not conducive to a good rhythm). Second, I decided to change the pattern and make the border a different color. That would have been fine, but I had only one skein of the border yarn, and did not want to chop it in half, in case I screwed up. So I was basically pulling from both ends of the ball for the two sides of the border and trying to keep everything knot free. I would not try this method again.

I also made lots of mistakes, but couldn't be bothered to take them out. Hey, it's not like the baby is going to notice. I made the good choice of making my first blanket for a friend who knits, and as they say in Stitch 'n Bitch, knitting friends appreciate the work of a knitting gift.

In the end, I adored this blanket, because I thought it the pattern was nice, the yarn was nice, and thought it was way cool I finished such a large project. Not sure I would attempt it again, however! Or at least, I would give myself more time so that I wasn't knitting eight hours an evening leading up to the baby shower.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

live from princeton

well i've been on crochet hiatus for a while, but at the urging of the out of control knitter, i did some crocheting while watching television last week. the highlight is that i actually finished something and thanks to the conveniently free "puvisitor" network, i can show you sooner than later.

It's very simple, all single crochet around, but as you all may remember, i have a tendency to not complete crochet projects (see the various incomplete stars, scarfs, etc). so this is technically the first item i've ever crocheted. it's always good to have a tangible result.

it's the same colors as the star blanket that was in progress and abandoned, i still had the yarn leftover. it's a christmas hat.

and if it doesn't work as a hat it can always be a bowl

but for now i'll try it out (or more likely pawn it off on some kid at church). Or i can walk around the hood of brooklyn looking mean in my christmas hat.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

cutting it close

I've been cutting it close lately. Above, you can see how much yarn was left after finishing one project, about 15 inches. Up until the point when I started the border, I still thought that I would get another repeat of the lace pattern out of the yarn, but I decided to not risk it and that turned out to be a smart decision. The border took up much more yarn than I expected. Below is how much yarn was left after finishing another project (CD for scale).
Neither of these projects are ready to be shown off to the world (since their recipients haven't seen them yet), but feel free to guess what they are in the comments...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Possibly Too Big Baby Hat

Based on CH's excellent example, when I went to knit a baby gift for my housemates, I went with the umbilical cord hat.

I had some really lovely Knit Picks Shine skeins that went to perfect use here. The yarn is a cotton/modal blend that is machine washable and suuuuper soft and shiny and just lovely. Went with #2 double pointed needles for the actual work, and it looks like it might be too big for a newborn? Let's examine the scale of the hat as compared to a pot of Lush lotion.


I'll probably gift it anyways, since it's pretty and hey, who really needs uber warm, close fitting hats in California anyways?

This hat also satisfied a bit of my urge to revisit stranded knitting. The lace has been great, but somehow a fall chill in the air makes me long for layers of colorwork in sweaters and hats and mittens.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

would this bother you?

Of the knits I'm currently working on, I've recently been most disciplined about a baby cardigan. I donated a custom baby sweater to the Public Interest auction at school last spring and was amazed at how high the bids went. (It might have helped that I had a handful of friends who needed baby gifts for newborn relatives and kept pushing the bidding...) I had a whole plan about how quickly I would knit the sweater, and, in consultation with the auction winner, picked out the yarn colors and the oh-so-popular Baby Surprise Jacket pattern.

And then. It turned out ugly. Really ugly. So ugly I didn't even bother with pictures before frogging it. So ugly that it disheartened me. So ugly that when the winner said, "Well, the baby won't need a sweater for a while" I took that to heart and shoved the yarn in a bag for six months. But the baby lives in New York, and the Northeast is getting darn close to sweater weather, so I decided at the beginning of the month that I couldn't ignore it any longer. Originally, I thought that I would reknit the BSJ, since I'm pretty sure that I learned enough from the uglyness to produce a cute one. But I then got nervous that I'd go through all that garter stitch and it would still be ugly, so I picked a pattern from the reliable Natural Knits for Baby and Moms and started in. (I'm hoping the auction recipient will be so happy to see a finished sweater that she will forget that it's not the BSJ.)

There are a few things about the pattern (ravelry link) that I don't get, however. One is why you'd use three-needle bind-off at the shoulder seams when you could kitchener. I just don't see why you'd want a really obvious shoulder seam since the cardigan isn't heavy enough to need a distinct seam. And aren't you supposed to strive for seamless in baby knits? So, thinking how smart and knitterly I was, I kitchener stitched to my heart's content and gazed upon the beautiful results of my grafting.

And then. Hmmm.... As you can see from the top picture, the pattern is four-row stripes of blue with alternating two-row stripes of brown and green. But, since I didn't think too hard before starting my kitchener stitch, the shoulder seam stripe is a three-row stripe of brown. (The top and bottom row were the live stitches that I grafted together and the middle row is the kitchener stitch row of grafting.) So the question is: how much should this bother me? On the one hand, when you look at it from the top, it's clearly wrong. On the other hand, when you look at it from the front or the back, doesn't it probably look better to have a little extra brown up at the shoulder's bend? So it might even be good that there are three rows of brown up there, right? Or is that just me rationalizing a silly mistake?
It probably wouldn't take me that long to fix, but I guess I'm a little tired of frogging this yarn. Yet I also feel like there's no point in rushing through a mistake, considering that I'm already embarrassingly late in producing this. (Also, I'm knitting the two-year-old size, so it won't fit the baby for at least another year, so there's no worry that it will outgrow the cardigan anytime soon.) What do you all think? Careless mistake or serendipidous solution?

Monday, October 13, 2008


I wonder, HEB, if you feel as the your yarn is surrounding and smothering you, much like the situation in the picture, behind the cut.


I was looking around my room yesterday and trying to figure out where the newest project should sit until I can work on it and this picture sprung to mind.

Undoing, indeed.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

so much yarn, so little time

I've been buying yarn too quickly to knit it recently. Above, you can see most of these purchases. The bright blue skein is actually going to be gifted off, but I'll have to knit the others sooner or later. (What a dreadful fate...) Here's how one of them is working up:

Sunday, October 5, 2008

not to be confused

Here's my latest finished knit, soaking before blocking and not to be confused with the Moroccan butter also in process in my kitchen. I'm fairly pleased with how this knit turned out, but it has a while to wait before being gifted to its recipient, so real pictures will also have to wait....

Saturday, October 4, 2008

iPod Cozy!

I knit this over the summer right after I learned how to do magic loop, so it was knit all in one piece which was pretty exciting. Left over Noro wins!

It then took me ages to figure out how to felt it (in the sink rubbing it between gloved hands--the washing machine method didn't work at all). And then it was simply a matter of finding some velcro and securing it with a needle a thread. That was actually the most difficult part, since the needle became rather sticky with the adhesive on the back of the velcro and it was rather ridiculous.

Still, I'm pretty happy about how this turned out. Now I just need to figure out how to knit one with a hole in the middle for the old fashioned iPods.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

knowing knitters pays off

So my office is totally freezing. I've learned to bring scarf/shawls and wrap myself in them. But I still had a major problem: my legs. It's still too warm outside to wear hose, but I get serious goosebumps inside. Luckily, KZ has me covered, with my excellent leg-warmers (circa holiday gift season 06). I tried them out today. And it was the first day that I didn't think about how cold my legs were. It was amazing. Serious boost to my productivity! Even before I discovered this application, I've found these leg-warmers to be ridiculously useful. This makes me think that I should knit them for others and spread the joy.... For now, these are staying in a drawer in my office, ready to fight the too-cold airconditioner at a moment's notice. KZ, thank you for perfecting your purling skills on these beauties.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"when she thought about it at all, she thought that knitting had probably saved her life"

I've had a tough day. Nothing dreadful happened; it was just a series of small irritations followed by a huge irritation. There were two highlights to the day: amidst my irritations, I had an unexpected hour when all I could do was knit and I learned that my supervisor knits. (When telling her how glad I was that I had knitting to lower my blood pressure, she chimed in that she'd knit after a fight with a family member and it was remarkable.) Here are the fruits of my calming time:
(So, honestly, only about an inch of that was actually from that hour of knitting, but you get the idea...)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Knittin' Downtown

Ahh jury duty! Which allows AMPLE time for knitting!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Swatching (opinions requested!)

Two things: a request for opinions and a little preview of a project that I'll finish in a thousand million (or, billion, as we say in the US)* years or so.

First, which swatch should a cowl-like object look more like? The one on top is single stranded in my lovely Addi Turbos, and the other is double stranded one size up. I'm a little unsure, because while I think I generally like the look of the second, I worry it will be too heavy for a cowl and will end up being an unattractive ring instead of a prettily flowing bit of fabric. I'm thinking about this Veronique pattern.

I should also mention that the second is much closer to the recommended gauge, but it looks thicker than the pictures...and it's certainly the kind of project where it'd be easy to add on some extra repeats. Thoughts?

The second is just a picture of my sweater swatch and a glimpse of progress so far. I'm up to the lace on the first piece! Except, I just noticed that my lace pattern thus far seems to differ from my swatch. Interesting.....

*I recently learned that one billion is not a constant. In the US, it means: 1,000,000,000. But in other countries, that's only one thousand million. One billion is 1,000,000,000,000. Can you even deal?