Thursday, April 24, 2008

Pinkin' it Up

I'm really quite fond of fingerless mittens. They are so quick and easy and good for easily chilled hands.

I decided that I needed something cheerful and bright and soft, and happily turned to my Debbie Bliss Silk DK.

My first attempt involved the "Pretty Lace Handwarmers" by PurlBee. I was less than impressed. My yarn may not have been ideal for the pattern, but it was weird and not all that lacey.

So, ripped it out! Wheee.

Then I searched through ravelry one day until I found the Dragonscale Gauntlets. Amusing name, pretty pattern, done and done. There are actually a
couple of "dragonscale" variations that I thought looked interesting, but I didn't want to risk any kind of lace effect, so I avoided the ones that looked like they used yo and settled on the Gauntlets.

I didn't want them to go to my elbows as the pattern calls for, so I simply made the decreases two iterations of the pattern in a row and then jumped into the thumb section and that gave me a nice middle length. I also found that I needed to tighten my normal knitting gauge a bit to really have nicely patterned and fitting mittens.

But oh my, I do love these.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

hooked on lace

I'd never been that interested in knitting lace shawls until I saw this one (check out the picture at the bottom of the post). And, then, I pretty much had to have that shawl. I've grown quite fond of constantly wearing a huge scarf and I thought that I'd

like it even more if I made that huge scarf myself. And what is a shawl but a huge scarf? But I'm not crazy. I knew there was no way that I would finish that shawl and still graduate from law school. And, in my current state of sleep deprivation, anything that required me to look at a knitting chart regularly was just going to be painful rather than enjoyable. But then the same designer published this pattern, which looked to be easy to remember and soothing to knit. And then I fell hard in love with this yarn (top picture), which was all sold out, but I found a raveler who had bought it and wanted to resell it (crazy, as far as I'm concerned, but I wasn't going to question it) and I wanted that yarn enough to sign up for a paypal account and contract with someone who is clearly very fond of cats. Beyond the compulsion to knit it, I don't really have much more to say about this project. The pattern was easy to remember and soothing to knit. I learned that I enjoy knitting lace shawls, to the point where I've committed to knit two wedding shawls this summer. I really adored the yarn and am so glad that I have quite a bit leftover to do something else with. (Even though it's really hard to capture the actual color of this yarn in photos; it's much more blue than it appears in these pictures.) The end product is so soft and shiny that I will feel guilty knitting those wedding shawls in any other yarn. I've added blocking wires to my graduation wish-list, since I couldn't block a straight lace edge with just pins to save my life. I will definitely reblock this once I do have blocking wires, but, for now, I don't mind the scalloped edge so much. (For those of you who don't want to follow all the links, this is the Gale Stole pattern by Anne Hanson, knit in The Plucky Knitter's Merino Silk Lace in the Bingley Wallpaper colorway.)

There are lots of different ways to wear this, depending on how elegant I'm feeling. Can you all guess which way I'm more likely to wear it?

some men do crochet

this is more of an amusing anecdote in between the impressive knitting being displayed on this blog.

about 9 am in the morning, sunny day, i'm sitting in my car in a very small park overlooking the water. there are about 5 other cars in the lot around me (guys fishing off the dock mostly). i'm working on the thing at the right, windows down. A guy parked next to me is walking back to his car after fishing.

Guy: (hispanic accent) You been in jail?
Me: (bewildered) huh.. no...
Guy: (points at crochet) oh cause they do that
Me: (not sure what to say) oh ok

as i told heb, at least this goes well towards my cover of not being the 5-0.

guy wasn't making it up either, there's a whole article about crochet in prison here (pdf).

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

at least it's too warm now anyway

After sharpening my seaming skills, I decided I wanted to finish this sweater before it was too warm to wear. The pattern is the Swirled Pentagon Pullover from Knitting Nature (same book as the droplets; many of its patterns are on my "to knit" list.) It's knit in Rowan Pure Wool Aran, a Christmas gift (which also included my mom allowing me to drag her around a lovely yarn store calculating yardage requirements and debating over colors for days on end).

Great pattern, great yarn, great. Right? I'd even thought that superwash wool was a big plus. In fact, it might have been, had I tried washing my swatch before starting. But, honestly, that seemed like a useless step. I'd knit the swatch. I'd gotten gauge. What else could the yarn want from me? Turns out that superwash wool grows by about a third after washing. So blocking left me with a sweater that had a ridiculously floppy collar and was about 7 inches too long and much, much too wide. (It's a pity I didn't have a working camera during this process. Although, I guess you all don't really need pictures of me crying over a lot of blue-green yarn.)

Luckily, Ravelry saved the day, by letting me know that this was totally normal and all I had to do was put the sweater into the dryer and check it every five minutes until it was back to size. (This is why everyone needs to sign up for Ravelry!) And, luckily, my laundry room has open outlets so I could bring my computer and work. This did get me a few choice comments, including one that suggested that the laundry room must be a great place to steal my neighbors' wireless. And it almost completely worked: I'm perfectly happy with the length and if the arms are a little too long, it will just encourage me to stretch.

But, you see, what that picture above doesn't show is the amount of fabric that's pinned behind my back. As Keren has pointed out, this is an important piece of information. So there it is: about 6 inches of extra width. It's not that big of a deal except when I sit down and then the fabric balloons all over the place and looks totally goofy.

Having knit other sweaters too large, I know my options: frog, seam or block? Clearly, blocking is not the way to go. And frogging seems like a darn shame. I think I have a seaming plan that will work, but I may also decide that I just won't sit down on the days I wear this sweater. Since spring is slowly coming to town, this seems like a plan that might work for the next six months or so.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Knitting in the Great State of Texas

Texas is generally a pretty warm place. Some might even say that it's too warm a place to bother with knitting.

But to those knitting naysayers, I respond: "Untrue!"

However if you need further proof of the true necessity for knitted things in a place where snow and hurricane, desert and swamp shade into one another across the miles, reference: my mother.

She knit this scarf for herself out of some lovely bulky alpaca yarn and found inspiration in Joan (of Arcadia's) long, long scarves. Go Mom!

These fingerless mittens (halfings, lessmitts, halfmitts) are based on knitty's Fetching. I knit a couple of pairs for my grandmother's last year and since then my mom has been constantly hoping and hinting for a pair of her own. I'd meant to finish them for Valentine's Day, but just barely managed to do it in time to leave them in Tejas on my last visit.

They're very simple, but even without the made up (and thus oddly shaped!) intarsia, they can be very lovely. The cabling is pretty, and depending on the yarn can be done all the way up instead of just on the cuff and fingers.