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?

coach class cozy

You all may recognize this yarn as the same yarn that made the ill-fated tank top. After I finished the to-be-frogged version of that tank, I used some of the leftover yarn to make this little neck-warmer. I loved knitting with that yarn so much that finishing it made me sad, so I had to start some thing else immediately. (The yarn was, after all, my graduation gift to myself, so I should at least get two projects out of it, right? And I will, once I manage to finish v.2 of that tank, which had to take a backseat to all the wedding knitting.)
The pattern is the Bainbridge Scarf, modified as suggested by Flint Knits. I found both the pattern and the mods to be brilliant, and will definitely try this again (probably both in original and modified form).

I didn't bother with gauge, so it's probably shorter than it should be, but it's still quite warm and functional so I'm not going to complain. I think it may become a permanent part of my travel carry-on, since it's tiny when folded but kept my neck warm so that I could sleep.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Half a perfect gift

This mitten/hat combo (Ravelry link) may be the most perfect gift for my sister, ever.


Well. If she lived in a climate that required such outerwear and not in Southern California. Here's to hoping that she'll get a job in Minnesota so I can knit these lovelies as a graduation gift! In the meantime, what are some other unusual ideas for stranded knitting besides the usual stars and snowflakes? (Ladybugs are clearly a prize winner...)

(Image taken from Amazon.com.)

last wedding of the summer

You all are getting three posts today because my apartment doesn't have internet yet, so I'm sitting in a Starbucks slowly downloading stuff for work and I might as well post about my latest knitting adventures. And most of my knitting adventures this summer have been related to weddings. Here's the final one, along with the bride who inspired it. (Sorry for the overexposure of the picture, I didn't have time to actually photograph it before gifting it and then took this one in a rush.) In case you aren't used to looking at blobs of yarn and figuring out what they are, I'll just tell you that it is a replica of my friend's wedding cake. Her wedding was a couple of weekends ago in California but she just had her east coast reception yesterday. So this is an off-white layer cake with a cascade of berries and curls of orange peel. Uh huh. I must say, however, that I fully believe that my friend's delight in the replica was not completely caused by the excellent mojitos at her reception. I had guessed that no one would love a knit wedding cake as much as she would, and her reaction proved me right. (EW may wonder how the yarn that she helped me pick out at Habu in NYC ended up looking like it does. In the end, I decided that realistic was not going to be possible, and paired that yarn with other, thicker yarn, to go for the over-the-top effect.)

It's probably time to start knitting for Christmas, isn't it?

c'est la provence pour moi!

So this trip produced a number of knitting stories, including the college student who sat next to me on the E train from JFK to Manhattan and asked me questions about knitting the entire ride. (I sent her to S'n'B and her local yarn store to learn and I think she probably will. Without me saying anything about the benefits of knitting, she said, "It seems like it would be really calming." If you can look at someone balancing double pointed knitting, with luggage, on the subway and think that it is calming, you're probably a natural.)
The best story, however, may have been while I was still frantically trying to finish this shawl. I was promming at the BBC proms. (Speaking of which, um, amazing. Think of that Doveman/Nico Muhly/Samamidon show without any talking and a full orchestra and all the singing being choral/spoken word and no liturgical dance.) And since I was super early, I went to the pre-prom talk. Which was being recorded for the radio. Before it started, the host was warming up the crowd: "If the guests say something funny, laugh. If the guests say something thoughtful, say "ummm" thoughtfully. Just do whatever you would naturally do. Clap when you want to clap. [and with a look at me] Keep those knitting needles clicking." I was delighted to hear this, since I would have felt compelled to put them away when the talk began. So I responded, "Oh, I can do that." After waiting for a little while for the first prom of the evening to release, the host returned to the crowd to say, "We should all have knitting, shouldn't we?" To which I couldn't help but say, "Well, I do recommend it to everyone."But back to the shawl. As you may recall, I was making it for a friend to wear during her wedding reception. It's the hanami pattern, made with malabrigo lace. Delightful to knit with, delightful pattern to knit. The idea behind the pattern is that it looks like cherry blossoms falling from a basket, which I thought was perfect for a friend who is starting her married life in DC. I was a little distracted on portions of the cherry blossom section, which led to some mistakes, but luckily for me, it's supposed to look random, so I just kept going. Which was good, because I ended up blocking it on my bed the morning before the wedding and delivering it to the bride only two hours before the ceremony. I will be okay if I never knit anything as photogenic as this shawl. But, quite honestly, some of these gratuitous pictures are just to show off my South of France travels... Here's the loft where I was staying. (My friend was incredibly kind to let me stay on the estate with the wedding party since I knew no one else at the wedding to split a hotel with.)
And here you can see the estate's vineyard.
I held myself back and didn't take any pictures of the shawl in front of the olive tree grove or the poolside garden. But don't worry. Moving into my apartment in Hartford, with its oh-so-charming view of a parking lot, has brought me quickly back to reality.

crazy american

Taking this picture in the other Hyde Park prompted a passerby to laugh and say, "I won't ask." It probably wouldn't have taken that long for me to explain that I was trying to show that it was cold enough in London to merit fingerless gloves (especially since my wardrobe was largely packed with NYC and south France in mind) but I decided to leave him to his imagination.

You'll have to ask EW for the details of these amazing fingerless gloves.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Observe knitting and crocheting friends: socks!

I knit these with the help of Article Pract's Two-at-a-Time, Toe-Up, Magic Loop Sock class. It was quite fun, and I recommend knitting classes to others. It was actually really heartening to see how everyone in the class, which had a fair range of experience struggled and then succeeded in the making of these socks.

The basic sock pattern is really simple, and we knit them on number 5 needles. This makes a thick "housesock" more than something I would wear with shoes (exception: Chicago winter, with boots.) The really cool part, in addition to the basic sock knitting, was learning several other knitting skills that can be applied to lots of other projects.

Before I get to those those, I need to make a little bow towards the Addi Turbo Circular Needles. I’d always wondered before why people would mention what kind of needle they used for a project. Who cares about the brand I would think to myself. And now I understand. Dear Addi Turbo Needles, thank you for being awesome.

First off: Turkish Toe Cast On. I don't know what the history of this cast on is, though I enjoy imagining adventures in knitting in Istanbul. This blog has what looks like a good explanation, pictures and all. The other cool thing about using this method is that you don't have an edge or seam on the cast on edge. I actually used this a while ago to make a pouch that I hope to shrink to iPod size, though my felting attempt so far has not gone well.

Next, Magic Loop: This is ultimately a rather mysteries name for a fairly simple process. Effectively, this kind of knitting requires a long circular needle with good joins (see tribute to Addi Turbos at the top). Instead of using all of the length of the circular needle as is normally done, you cast on however many stitches you need for your glove or mitten or sock and then bend the cable and pull half the stitches onto one needle and leave the other half on the cable. Here's a video with a better visual instruction if you're interested.

Basically anything that would require double pointed needles can be fairly easily replaced with magic loop. I finished up my hat with magic loop when I had to decrease the number of stitches to a point where there were not enough to use the entire length of the circular needle but was too unwieldy to switch to double pointed needles.

I'm looking forward to knitting my next set of mittens or gloves with the two at a time method, so hopefully I'll remember to take some pictures when that time comes, but after the cast on, that method is fairly straight forward (though does require dealing with multiple balls or strands of yarn ala intarsia.)

I will note that I made the bind off a little tight and will have to pay attention to that in the future.