Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Finally able to show these FOs

Hope everyone had a great holiday weekend (Merry Christmas and Happy Hannukah!). I had a wonderful time with the family in Michigan, spending time with my aunt and uncle and our longtime family friends. I ate a ridiculous quantity of food (it's tradition!) and got in a lot of good solid knitting time (10 hours in the car, plus time sitting around). I finished J's sock #1 and got a few inches done on my French Market Bag. I cast on for sock #2 last night; I'll post pictures when both are done and blocked.

Now that the holidays are over/started and I've given the handmade gifts, I can finally post pictures of these FOs.

Here are a couple of shots of J's scarf before the [attempted] felting:



You may recall from this post that I had a frustrating time with the felting process. I was going to try to felt it again before giving it to J, but of course all my jeans were clean at that point (and I wasn't going to waste the money on the machine to wash clean jeans!) so I thought I'd hold off until I had some jeans to wash. But then I was gone for the weekend and the holidays rolled around, and I decided to just give it to J and see what he thought. Turns out that when he wears it his preferred, European-style way, the length (all 7 feet of it!) is good for him. Here he is modeling his new muffler:


I also gave my brother his handknit gift last night. He's going to be a freshman at the University of Michigan next year, and I know from experience that the winters are very cold there (I visited the school in the middle of January when I was looking at schools!), so I made him these:

This was my first foray into intarsia (and as you can probably tell, the wristband, the second item knit of the two, was more successful). The blue is Lion's Brand Wool Ease, and the maize (not yellow!) is Lion's Brand Micro Spun, doubled, because I could not find Wool Ease in anything close to the right color. J is modeling the items here before I wrapped them up to give to my brother last night. They were a big hit, and I think he'll actually wear them! That's a big deal, considering his usual disdain for my knitting.

Finally, I have to close with a little note about how much fun I had at the knitting meet-up last week meeting Jen, Jane, and the other ladies. I'm glad to hear that Jen's mom is feeling better -- probably because she is the lucky recipient of the beautiful pink scarf she was working on that night!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

To tell, or not to tell?

For those of you who religiously read Grumperina's knitblog as I do, you no doubt saw yesterday's post posing the question of who to tell about knitting blogs and whether or not we fellow knitbloggers have told our family about them. I've been thinking about this question all morning and thought I'd just throw my two cents in.

The only person in my life who really knows about my blog (and occasionally reads it) is my wonderful, technologically-gifted boyfriend, J. (Speaking of which, he has promised to help me jazz up my blog next week when we're both on vacation.) I've mentioned to my parents and my younger brother that I have a blog, but met with these responses:

Mom: What exactly is a blog?
Brother: Yeah? So what?

I haven't really told any friends, because none of them knits (that I know of), although J apparently mentioned it to my best friend the other day -- I don't know if she's even looked at it (if you're reading this JK, happy birthday!). The only person I know who might be able to appreciate the knitting content is my aunt, but I haven't mentioned it to her as yet. I'm cautious to really bring it to the attention of any family member because I'm worried that I might then feel a need for self-censorship in my postings -- not because I really talk about my family at all, but because how I express myself sometimes might clash with their ideas of who I am. (Sometimes I think that even though I'm out of college and grad school and am working a "real world" job, my family members still have a tendency to see me as a little girl.)

So those are my thoughts. Any feedback or comments are welcomed.

Looking forward to knitting meet up tonight!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Just 'cause it's so funny


Here's what J has been doing while he's on vacation:

(This is us as South Park characters. Aren't we cute.)

Sock it to me

I am pleased to announce that I finally seem to have mastered the art of turning a sock heel using short rows. I present to you Exhibit A:

This is the first sock for me, in Knit Picks Sock Garden in the Geranium colorway. Granted, the heel is a little pointier than I intended (easily remedied with fewer short rows in the heel), and I bound off a little too tightly around the cuff (again, easily fixed), but it looks good to me! I think I've gotten the hang of it enough to do a good job on J's socks. Speaking of which, here he is (or rather, here his foot is) modeling the progress on J Sock #1:


The stripes are not cooperating as much as I'd like (probably because this sock is wider than the original I cast on -- twice -- before I frogged and started from scratch). J is very excited about them, however, even though they won't be a surprise anymore.

I'm hoping to finish up this sock before I leave with the family for Christmas weekend in Michigan on Saturday. Hoping to take J Sock #2 and probably my French Market Bag for all those hours of good car knitting (and also praying it's not so cold that my poor little fingers freeze up!) On the agenda tonight is sewing my "hanger" into the mini-sweater ornament and then go crazy with sock #1. I'm planning on going to my first knitting meet up tomorrow (and hopefully meeting Jen!) and want some good stuff to show off.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Mini Me

Two FO's in two days! Wow, am I prolific. Last night I sat down and watched "Spanglish" (great movie) for about the third time in the past two weeks, and all the while stitched away on this year's O. Family Christmas ornament. I started by following this pattern, but then adjusted it a bit for minimum finishing work. Rather than knitting the sleeves flat and then having to sew up seams, I put the sleeve stiches on some scrap yarn and proceeded with the top-down body. I just cast on three additional stitches under each arm and knit the rest in the round, and then knit each sleeve in the round. And, after about two to two-and-a-half hours of knitting, I had a mini sweater:

Ta-da!

(Quarter provided for scale)

All that's left to do is either find and buy or make a miniature hanger and sew it in. This was knit from some leftover Regia sock yarn and US 2 dpns. I blocked it overnight to get the sleeves to point downwards a bit (they originally stuck straight out).

[Too] many projects still on the needles, but I think I'm going to focus on my sock for the night. I'm making good progress on it, and I'm anxious to get to the heel and see if I can finally get away with it. I'm sure that with this horrid wintry weather, J would like a nice warm pair of socks to wear around the house! (Especially since he's now officially on vacation until next year, lucky!)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Instant Gratification Knitting

After a long day at work yesterday, and then errands I had to run after work, I decided that what I really needed last night was some instant gratification knitting. So I sat down and started this (which I just finished a few minutes ago):

This is a modified version of the Umbilical Cord Hat from SnB (I made it bigger to fit a two-year-old). It's going to a little boy named Elijah, whose "stocking" I picked from my office gift drive for disadvantaged children at a local children's community center. I bought him some toys as well, but I always like to stick in something functional. The hat is here being modeled by Pomegranite Peach Teddy---he came with a shampoo/conditioner package in said fragrance---on one of my four bookshelves in my living room (have I mentioned that I like to read?) Not only was this a quick knitting fix, but it also used up some of my acrylic stash! This particular color was left over from an afghan I crocheted last year.

Tonight I'm going to try to do a mini sweater ornament to take to our family friends' house in Michigan for Christmas. I've made them an ornament (usually embroidered) every year we've gone there. Last year's ornament was a miniature stocking/sock. This is our last year going to their house (they're moving to the DC area soon), so I thought I'd go all out. Depending on how quickly that knits up, I may also cast on for a hat for my brother for one of his holiday gifts.

Thanks to Jen for the Blanche-Neige suggestions. I thought about e-mailing the designer to see if she could suggest an alternate yarn, but seeing as how her recommended yarn is her own -- well, somehow I'm guessing she wouldn't be so helpful. I'm still hoping that I can play with the gauge, especially since it's an open, cardigan-type garment that will be a little more forgiving if the gauge is slightly off. Or so I think. I'm probably going to put this project off for a bit, since I still have holiday gift knitting to do and I've been spending a lot of money lately. Then again, I'll have a lot of knitting time the last week of December when I'm off from work. Oh, the temptations!

Still seeking imput, if anyone has any!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Mystery Project, RIP

Yes, the mystery project is, alas, no more. For one thing, I went ahead and told J what the project was -- a pair of socks -- since I'm apparently inept at turning a heel with double pointed needles. It just looked so bad that I gave up on the possibility of a blocking miracle and frogged the whole thing. I'm now back to square one, with a ball of pretty yarn.

Fortunately, I'm now armed with tools that may break the sock curse for me:





Yes, those are my brand new US 1 Addi Turbos, currently working on a test sock (for yours truly) in Knit Picks Sock Garden in Geranium. Behold my toe in all its merino deliciousness, mmmm. I love love LOVE this yarn. It's so soft and knits up so nicely on these needles. I think the two circular needles might solve some of the laddering issues I was having with the dpns, not to mention the fact that these are a size smaller than the dpns (they were US 2's) so the fabric should be a little tighter. I'm just going to finish this sock and see if I've figured out where I went wrong with the heel last time, and if all goes well, I'll cast on for J's socks once this one is bound off. It won't be a surprise, but I know he wanted a pair, so it wouldn't have been that big a deal even if I had managed to pull them off.

Speaking of J, I finally finished his scarf last week, and I tried to felt it. "Tried" is the operative word here; apparently my dpn/heel ineptitude (is that a word?) decided to extend itself to my felting abilities. I put the 6' scarf in the washing machine with three pairs of jeans on a normal wash cycle -- and 30 minutes later I had a 7' + table runner. Plus, the fabric just barely softened up a bit, didn't get anywhere close to felt. Grrr. I guess I'll have to schlep over to my parents' one evening and use their washing machine, since that's what did the trick for my felted bag.

Once I finished the scarf, I cast on for a French Market bag for myself. The plan is to use it to hold my WIPs, instead of leaving them all over my couch and chair in my living room, like this:

Here you see several of my UFOs. L-R are: baby cashmerino cabled scarf, Clappy, baby cardigan (sans buttons). Hiding under the paper in the back is a big ball of cotton blend yarn from a sweater I frogged a while back.

Still contemplating yarn for Blanche-Neige. I think I may try Knit Picks merino style with a smaller needle (perhaps US 4's?) to try to get gauge. I think I figured out that if that will work, I'll probably be able to get the yarn for around $30 -- much more affordable than the 100% cashmere the pattern calls for! I am definitely forgoing the beading, however; I think the fuzzy black trim is enough embellishment. What do you think -- should I try to play around with gauge to save money on the yarn? Any tips on how to play with the pattern to make it work? Give me your imput, oh wise knitters!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

New Knitty

So the new Knitty is out (up?), and I keep coming back to it. There are a lot of cute designs, especially the little animals/critters (they remind me of some Beanie Baby-sized animals I crocheted several years ago). Of all the designs, though, I'm positively taken with this, and I think it might have to be my next project for myself. I so cannot spend a fortune on 100% cashmere yarn, however, so I am thinking about what a good substitute might be (especially a substitute that is relatively cheap, since I will be buying a lot of it -- KnitPicks anyone?) I would like to formally solicit anyone's imput on this one.

Also, I'm a little nervous about working with the pattern if I use another yarn, because I'm not sure I can get the same gauge. I haven't had enough pattern experience to know how to play with gauge and measurements and patterns and such, so I don't know what I would have to do edit the pattern to work with another yarn. My gut instinct is just to go for it and pretend I don't care, but I have a feeling that with a fitted garment like this, that just won't fly. Anyone out there really good with math?

Update on the WIPs:
1) J's scarf is just over 5 feet long, and I'm about to join the final skein of yarn to finish it. I'm planning to make it 72" so that when I felt it, it will still be long enough to wear it the European way (doubled over, wrapped around the neck, with the ends pulled through the loop in the middle), which is how J informs me he liked to wear his scarves. (I cannot confirm this, since I don't think I've ever seen him wear a scarf, but I'll just have to take his word for it.) I am planning on finishing it by the end of the week, and hoping to felt it this weekend. I promise to take before and after pictures, but I can only post them soon if J will promise not to peek. Of course, I might not trust him anyway and just wait until after the holidays to post them.

2) Mystery project is coming along slowly. I've been working on it at lunch just about every day, but I never get more than about an inch done per knitting session (damn that fingering weight yarn!)

3) Clappy (my clapotis) is resting on her needles right now. I did a few more repeats of the straight rows last week, but have done nothing since. I'm about halfway done at this point, and starting to worry that I may be one skein short on yarn. I think I'm just overreacting as usual.

4) The yoked, top-down baby sweater I knit last weekend is still sitting on my couch, still awaiting buttons and blocking. I am going to try to dig through my button collection and see if I have five that (more or less) match; otherwise I'll need to make a trip to the craft store this weekend.

Give me your thoughts on yarn and pattern-tweaking for Blanche-Neige!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Deep breath...

Hope everyone else had a productive knitting weekend like I did. I wound up not having to work for the first weekend in months (Saturday because they called me off, Sunday because I woke up sick). I thought that since I was on the couch anyway, I might as well put all this free time to good use.

Faced with a weekend of plenty of knitting time (but since I was at J's the whole weekend, I couldn't work on knitting for him, obviously), I decided to tackle this. I decided it was high time I attempted to knit a sweater, but still feeling somewhat apprehensive, I thought my best bet was starting with a baby sweater -- small enough to not waste too much yarn, but it would still give me the idea of how it felt to knit a garment that's not a hat or scarf (which has been most of my knitting to date). I also thought this would be a good stash-busting project, since I've got so much icky acrylic yarn left over from several crocheted afghan projects I did last year.

[And just as an aside here: I still don't think there's anything inherently wrong with acrylic yarn, especially if you're just messing around and experimenting. It's easy to deal with, machine washable, and keeps its shape and gauge. I like it for crocheting, especially big projects like afgans, where there is so much yarn used and the price starts to add up quickly. It makes a lot of sense if you're knitting something for babies or kids; I think it would be too much for me to think of a two-year-old spilling grape juice or something on a nice wool or cashmerino garment! Of course, when it comes to myself or certain other loved ones, I'm turning into a big of a yarn snob. ;-)]

So, as I said, I had a good knitting weekend. J and I were celebrating our one-year anniversary, and we actually had two other events to go to Saturday night before our celebratory dinner, but I had about six good hours of knitting time in before we had to get ready to go. Then, of course, as soon as we got home from dinner, J passed out on the couch, and as I was still wired, all I could do was knit for a couple more hours before bed. Sunday I was supposed to go to work, but woke up feeling not quite right (let's just say there were some female plumbing issues and leave it at that). And since I was spending the day on the couch anyway, what else to do but knit! So after three days of stitching with wild abandon, I give you this:




Pattern: Seamless Yoked Sweater by Carole Barenys (found on knitting.about.com)
Yarn: icky acrylic from stash
Needles: US 7's - 32 in. circular and dpns
Still needs to be blocked and buttons need to be sewn on, but I'm thrilled with the results. And many, many thanks to
Jen, who put up with my webstalking and helped me decipher the pattern! Even though this was knit with "icky" acrylic, I think it might still make a nice gift for my cousin, who is expecting a baby in February. Hey, it's machine washable, so the kid can get whatever he/she wants on it and it won't be ruined.

Before I go, I'm just wondering if anyone else is reading this. I mean, part of the reason for having a blog is to use it like a diary; but if I wasn't interested in having anyone else read my thoughts, I have plenty of empty notebooks lying around. So, if you are reading this, do me a favor -- leave me a comment! It'd be nice to know that someone out there is looking at this besides me (and J, you don't count!)

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Ribbit

I did it. I frogged my mystery project and started from scratch. But this time I decided to start from the opposite end (at this point fellow knitters will likely be able to guess just what this mystery project is!) It took some time, but I think it was worth it, as I finally seem to have mastered the art of short rows. I'm very happy with the way this project is going (this time), and I know that it will knit up very quickly now that I've settled on my method.

Since I've been spending so much time in the evening knitting for others, I decided to pull Clappy out of hibernation and take it to work with me to knit during my lunch. I don't think that my desk chair is really the ideal place to knit (the arms really restricted my elbow movement), but it was nice to work on a project for myself for once. I'm about 2/3 of the way through my fourth repeat on the straight rows; I can't believe how slowly the repeats are going, because I consider myself a pretty quick knitter. I suspect that the fiber I'm using has something to do with it. The mercerized cotton has a nice sheet to it, but it likes to grip my needles, so I wind up stopping every dozen stitches or so to force the next group down on my needle. If I knit this pattern again, I will definitely use a softer yarn that will slide down the needle better.

This next part of my post isn't knitting related, but I just had to put it in because it's too ridiculous not to share:

When I got home from work last night I decided to be all productive and take care of my household chores. First I scrubbed my bathroom. No problem. The Softscrub smelled kind of weird, but okay. Then I decided to do a couple loads of laundry, since it's piling up. Fast forward about an hour and a half, after I've cooked dinner and frogged and restarted my mystery project. I go to retrieve my first load of laundry from the dryer, and discover that (I think) someone has opened the door during the cycle and not restarted, so the laundry is still wet. Grrr, I think. I pop in another dollar and run it again. Forty-five minutes later: I return, and make the same discovery. I run it again, and then run back to my apartment to make a sign ("PLEASE DO NOT OPEN DOOR!") which I then tape to the door of the dryer. After this third cycle is complete, I realize that no one has touched the door, the dryer is just broken and not heating up. But I still have a load of darks in the washer, and I need to put them through at least once so they won't be sopping wet. Long story short, I was up late trying to hang or lay out all this wet laundry. I even used my hairdryer to try to dry some of the smaller items. Grumble. You can bet that the first thing I did this morning was call the management company and tell them to fix this problem pronto!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Giving in to the knit gods

I did it. I caved. I totally overestimated my commuting time to work on Friday and wound up getting there 25 minutes early. Of course there was no way I was going to just sit in the back until it was time to clock in*, so of course I had to wander around the bookstore for a while. And of course that meant I had to wander around the crafts section, and of course hone in on the knitting books. Then something caught my eye -- that beautiful "20 % off - Members save an additional 10 %" sticker atop two delicious knitting books -- and I just had to have them. They were a deal, so I couldn't just leave them there right? Here are the two newest additions to my knitting library, at the low, low price of just under 21 bucks:



I so wanted to just sit down in the cafe and thumb through the books (i.e., publicly drool over future projects), but alas, it was almost time to clock in. I knew that if I took them to work with me, even if I did lock them up in my locker with my purse, I'd probably find times to sneak to the back and look through them, and that would not at all be conducive to actually getting work done and being a good team player. So I was a good girl and used my powers of foresight wisely: I promptly locked my books in my car, in the freezing parking lot. There was no way I was going to sneak out of work without a coat on, so I was safe from myself.

I've been working steadily on J's scarf for the past week. I made it to his house before he did on Wednesday night, so I knitted wildly for about an hour (while watching the original "Iron Chef" -- don't get me started on the dubbing -- on Food Network). I had to stash it in a grocery bag the minute I heard the garage door opening, because even though he's specifically requested a scarf in a dark gray, of course I don't want him seeing even the yarn until it's finished and he's opening the box in which it's been wrapped. This is the same reason I'm not posting any update pictures here either. I've gotten a little over two feet done, but I've discovered that I'll have to go back to the LYS for another skein. The two I have might have made it, where it not for the fact that I'm planning on felting the thing, and I know it'll lose significant length when I do. I'd much rather use even a part of a third skein than fight with it after it's been felted. I've decided to finish the scarf before I return to the mystery project, since it's one that'll knit up quickly (and isn't nearly such a pain in the ass as 7" by 6' seed stitch scarf).

While I've been knitting like a madwoman, I've been a horrible reader lately. I was all excited last week because it seemed like I was gaining momentum again with Villette. I even took it to J's with me for the long weekend, but there it sat, undisturbed, for the duration of said long weekend. Plus, I'm trying to catch up on my Newsweek reading before the new one arrives tomorrow, so that's become my bus reading of choice. This is so not like me to have a book just sitting there, unfinished -- especially one I'm enjoying. I guess my one reasonable excuse is this: Villette is not Jane Eyre. I suspect that Bronte really poured all her creative energy into the latter, which is probably one of my favorites. In essence, it's a relatively simple story: how an unwanted, plain, but good girl makes a life for herself. Yes, there are some rather absurd elements (mad wife in the attic, anyone?), but they are relatively brief and usually not when I think of when I think about this book. Villette just seems to me to be trying to fit into too many genres or too many literary trends. And what's with the fictitious country? As if anyone can't figure out immediately that she's ridiculing the French, my goodness.

Random rant for the day: I was all excited about wearing my new little jumper and two-tone shoes to work today. I even wore sneakers on the bus because I was worried it would rain and ruin the shoes. Then I get to work, slip them on, and discover that with hose on, they're about a half a size too big (I need pads to put in the front), and as a result I kept walking out of them as I walked around the office. To add insult to injury, I guess the seaming along the side wasn't done very well, and they've completely shredded my hose around the insides of my feet where the side of the shoes end. Grrrr.

*I suppose I should explain my cryptic references to work. By [week]day I'm a proofreader for a (ahem!) rather large employer in the city, but by evening and weekend I'm a retail maven at a national women's clothing store (let's just say that it's one that has several divisions, and I work in the younger/trendier/cheaper one). I started at the end of the summer when I was still looking for a full-time job, but now it's just a part-time gig to fund my clothes-whore habits. For a while there J kept asking if I was actually keeping anything I earned, or if I was just spending it all on clothes (gotta love the discount!); I figure I've only spent about half on clothes by now. Of course, what I haven't factored into my calculations is how much is being spent on yarn...

Friday, November 25, 2005

Dreaming of sweaters...

Happy Thanksgiving! (Or perhaps it's more accurate to say, Happy Black Friday!) I'm enjoying my second day in a row of sleeping in until 10 am -- something usually unheard of for me, at least not since college. I blame J and his oh-so-comfy king-sized bed.

I've been reading up on more blogs in the past few days, and I came across Grumperina's amazing site. I'm so in awe of her amazing progress and her appetite for really tricky projects. I wish I had her courage. Even though I'm more and more convinced that I could knit trickier patterns when I see all these relatively newer knitters doing them, I must still have some serious self-doubt when it comes to my own pattern-knitting ability. I'm vowing now to try something real (i.e., a sweater for myself) once I finish all these projects that are meant to be holiday gifts. I've got my eye on Lucky from SnBN (that's Stitch n Bitch Nation), which I drooled over while reading Tara's blog and watching her progress. I've just got to find the book now. I got this great idea the other day to walk over to the Carnegie library during my lunch break for it, but of course it was checked out. As were the copies from every other branch remotely close to me. I guess it's a sign that I should really be focusing on my current projects before I dive in to something big for myself.

So, to review my WIPs:

1) Felted scarf for J (don't expect to see any pictures posted until after it's completed and has been gifted -- just in case a certain someone is snooping around here to try to peek!)

2) Mystery item -- again, pictures will not be posted until after complete and revealed to intended recipient. Let's just say it's on dpns and involves some short rows.

3) Clapotis (I'm now calling her "Clappy") for myself, in Saucy claret. Now on hold until after holiday gifts are done. Still very temping, and definitely an easy pattern to follow while watching TV.

4) Cabled tube scarf in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino. Almost done, but, again, temporarily put on hold.

I thought I would have a lot of time to knit this weekend, but alas, it seems it is not to be and I probably won't pick up my needles again until Sunday evening. I have to work at my second job today and tomorrow (which should be insane -- I'm wondering if I'll see any crazed shoppers fighting over sweaters or something!), and then J and I have dinner plans both evenings. Sunday is really my only day off, but lucky me gets to spend it doing fun stuff like grocery shopping and laundry. So here's my plan: I'm keeping my reading (100 pages left in Villette!) for my bus rides and lunch at work, so that I can spend my evenings knitting. Mystery item is a pretty fast knit, so that can probably be finished up by the end of the week. J's scarf is 39 stitches in seed stith, so needless to say it takes a while. I've gotten about a foot done, but I've got to make it longer than intended because of the felting. I have a feeling it will be taking up the majority of my time in the weeks to come.

Okay, off to get ready for work. I feel I need to add that even though I haven't been able to actually knit the past few days, I have sure been dreaming about it. The past two nights I've dreamt about knitting sweaters.... Whoever said that we dream about our desires sure got it right on this one!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Envy... and new projects

I've spent a lot of down time in the past week reading knitting blogs and getting quite envious of what other knitters are doing. I pretty much started salivating at some of their fo's (finished objects) -- especially when they were able to work with nice, fancy yarn that frankly I can't afford, at least not when I'm just putzing around. (Click here and here for two of my current faves in blog reading.)

I also discovered a new favorite pattern website -- Knitty.com -- which, perhaps unsurprisingly, J discovered before me. (Wow, he must really like me to be spending his free time researching knitting topics!) After browsing through the current issue and the archives, I've started my lastest excited-to-knit-it-but-it'll-probably-just-sit-in-my-closet project, the oh-so-francais clopatis, in Saucy claret. (Isn't that just the most delicious name? I probably would have bought it for the name alone, aside from the fact that it fell nicely into my price range when I was searching for clopatis yarn)

I suppose I should back up and mention that after reading all those blogs and finding all those lovely patterns, I just had to go make a trip to Knit One to stock up on yarn. Bought the Saucy claret (mentioned above), as well as some Cascade 220 in a dark gray to make a felted wool scarf for J for the holidays and some other mystery yarn for another project I'm planning to undertake. It really is amazing how much time I can spend in that store, and oh my, do I want to just buy everything. Found a fabulous alpaca/cashmere yarn that would have been perfect for J's scarf, but I don't think he would have approved of my spending nearly $30 a hank on it. After that, the mercerized cotton Saucy looked like steal! Plus, it'll wash well and still have that nice sheen to it.

Spent the weekend at J's, and he was very pleased to see me using my Jordana Paige bag. I was on my own most of Saturday (J went to test drive cars), so I got a lot of knitting time in. I'm through about 3 rounds of the straight rows of the clopatis, and I'm loving the effect of the dropped stitches. I'm interested to see how this patter works out with other fibers (from really chunky yarns to crochet thread). I'll have to hold off on those experiments for a while, though, until I finish up the holiday presents.

For anyone who is wondering about it, no, I have not finished my cabled baby cashmerino scarf. Here is the current progress:
I've got less than the last skein of yarn to go, but I've been more excited by the latest projects I've started, so I've sort of let it fall by the wayside. I'm justifying it to myself by thinking that since the weather's gotten so cold, I haven't been wearing the coat I wanted this to go with in the first place. I've resolved to finish it once and for all before the end of 2005, because frankly this is a smaller project and I just can't deal with the amount of time this is taking me -- I'm a fast knitter! This project is totally bringing down my average time to complete a project.

Still reading Villette; hoping that with the holiday weekend coming up, there will be a lot of time for reading and stitching.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Better Late Than Never...

Yes, I had completely genuine intentions when I started my blog. Yes, I have been delinquent in posting since my very first post. No, I have not been delinquent on purpose. In the past week I've started my new job -- I'm still at the part-time gig as well -- and the new schedule has not only thrown me for a loop, it's also left me little time for knitting.

As promised, here is a picture of the felted bag I described in my first posting. It's made from three skeins (give or take) of Cascade wool yarn -- my first foray into knitting with wool. Usually I stick with good old acrylic (it's cheap, wears well, and doesn't shrink in the wash). I have to say, though, that I was very pleased with this first woolen experiement. It did shrink, but really only in length, and it came out nice and fuzzy. I'll probably have to do some more work until I'm comfortable knitting any clothing other than scarves, but I am no longer afraid of working with "fancy" yarn.

Since the bag was completed, I also finished my interim project: a basketweave pattern shrug/shawl type thing. It's basically like a big scarf to wrap around my shoulders. I used the cheap acrylic yarn I was just talking about (I had a bunch left over from when I made my mother a wrap sweater). All I have left to do is find a big pin of some sort to secure it. Here's a picture of it, since I likely didn't do a very good job of describing it.

Now I'm back to working on my baby cashmerino scarf, as my two additional balls of yarn finally came in this past week. I've been wearing my chocolate brown suede coat a lot lately, and I'm anxious to get it done so I can wear the outfit as originally intended. My goal is to knit like a fiend this week so I can get it done; in my opinion, eight months is way too long to work on a scarf, even if it is cabled!

Monday, October 31, 2005

First Things First

After spending too many days sitting in front of my computer screen and obsessively checking my email, I've decided I should at least spend these hours productively. So here is my attempt to be productive -- or at least burn some more calories by whipping out a few more keystrokes.

I'm sure the rest of my life will be working its way into this blog from time to time, but the main purpose of it for now is for me to be able to talk about what I'm knitting and reading at the moment (the latter may or may not be considered witty in nature).

The most exciting moment in my knitting life recently has been my discovery of a new knitting store -- called, appropriately and perhaps predictably, Knit One -- in my neighborhood. I like it much better than the knit and bead store already in the neighborhood, perhaps mostly because the new place focuses exclusively on yarns and needles. Maybe it's also because the new place carries one of my favorite fibers, Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino, and the other does not. I'd been looking for it to finish off the baby blue cabled tube scarf I started when I was sick with the flu over spring break this past year. It's to go with my chocolate brown suede trench coat, and the five balls I bought when I started aren't enough. On my first trip to Knit One (with my fantastic boyfriend, J, on a rainy Saturday afternoon), I went looking for the yarn and found they had it, but not in the color I needed. It's been ordered for me, and I'm still waiting. Never fear -- I did not leave the store empty-handed. J is apparently full of surprises, and asked after a special knitting purse he'd heard about and even researched on the internet. He bought me one that day, and my scarf is currently stored in it. It's designed by a knitter named Jordana Paige, and looks like one of those classic Kate Spade bags but with much more room inside -- it even came with a pair of bamboo needles!

I've been back to the store once since then and bought some much-needed cabling needles (I've been teaching myself some more complicated cables) as well as some brightly colored wool yarn. I used three skeins to make myself a striped, felted bag (I'll post a picture soon). I'm very satisfied with the finish; I even used the excess yarn to make a couple fancy-stitched swatches to see the felted effect on cables and patterns.

When I haven't been knitting, I've been reading some good books and catching up on my back issues of Newsweek. My dad bought me a book called "Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading" by Maureen Corrigan, the book reviewer for NPR's Fresh Air. I loved it -- it was all about the books and genres that have shaped her life personally and professionally. After I finished it last week, I decided my next book should be one of her suggestions: "Villette," by Charlotte Bronte. I've always loved her most famous work, "Jane Eyre," (I've probably read it half a dozen times since the first time in eighth grade), and the first 150 or so pages of this one are good as well, although I do have to admit that I've been having a bit of trouble following the story line at times. An added benefit of reading this one is that I'm catching up on my French, as it takes place in a fictional French-speaking country. No crazy women in the attic in this one -- at least not yet.