Thursday, August 31, 2006

Seraphim, Complete

Pattern: Seraphim Shawl by Miriam Felton
Yarn: Knit Picks Gloss (70% merino, 30% silk, 220 yards/hank) in colorway Dusk, less than four hanks total
Needles: Addi Turbo US 5 24" circs
Dimensions: 72" wide, 34" deep at center
Mods: none
Started/Completed: August 13/August 30 (makes me wish I'd picked this as my Knitting Olympics project!)

The Verdict: A winner! This yarn was a dream to work with -- soft and silky, with enough wool content to do felted joins when I started a new skein. I estimate that I used somewhere in the range of 750 to 800 yards, leaving me enough (nearly 1 1/2 skeins) to make myself a pair of ankle socks with the remainder. This yarn is so soft that my Lorna's Laces felt rough in comparison when I picked up my current sock-in-progress. My one gripe about this yarn is that it isn't superwash!

As for the pattern, it's very clearly and logically written, as all of Miriam's designs seem to be. I did make a number of mistakes, one of which was a very large one that required me to frog back to the second or third line of the first lace chart, several of which were fixed on wrong-side rows, and a few of which no doubt are still in there. I had no issues with the pattern (my mistakes were entirely the result of not paying attention), and I would definitely knit this one again.

Knitting this shawl in fingering weight (rather than lace weight) yarn is an interesting and enjoyable experience, and as a result the finished product is much more substantial -- and therefore warmer -- than a typical lace shawl. I'd be interested to see how this pattern knits up in lace weight yarn (a lightweight Seraphim?).

I'm sorry for not having a nicer picture to show you. I wanted to do a photo shoot outside and get some natural lighting, but alas, the Western Pennsylvania weather is not cooperating (and now Ernesto is coming our way, grrr).

While Seraphim was blocking last night, I finally got started on this:

Yup, that's the beginning of my Sizzle, about an hour's worth of work that I managed to get in last night. I spent part of my knitting time working on my Steelers socks last night; I've just started the toe on the first sock, and the season opener is next Thursday. You know what that means -- Speed Sock Knitting this weekend! I guess I know how I'll be spending my Labor Day ...

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

It's Done!

I finished binding off Seraphim this morning (I was too tired to do it all last night) and it is now blocking on the third floor. Here's a peek:

Unfortunately with the artsy-fartsy photo quality I managed to get here, the color is way off, but you've seen shots before and know what the color is supposed to be. I will do my full write up tomorrow, once the shawl is dry and J is home (he's in Cleveland until tomorrow) and I can do a proper photo shoot.

In the meantime, here's some new eye candy:

This would be my Knit Picks order from last week. Here are (left to right) four hanks of Shadow in the Sunset and Vineyard colorways (two hanks of each), three skeins of Essential Tweed in Flint, and two hanks of Gossamer in the Carribean colorway. If you look closely, you'll also see two 32" US 1 Knit Picks circular needles in the back and a set of US 1 Knit Picks dpns in front.

On tap for tonight: watch the latest Netflix selection and finally start my Sizzle!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Knitting on the Road

We are back from our weekend trip to Ann Arbor, which was fun, but exhausting. The latter especially so for J, who was feeling kind of sick-ish and achy before we left and wasn't helped by all the hours in the car. (Don't worry, as soon as we got back I made him take some Advil, get out the heating pad, and relax while I cooked him a yummy dinner. I heard no complaints about any of my orders.)

Perhaps I should backtrack and explain the reason behind the trip. The original purpose was to accompany my baby brother (probably a misnomer since he's 19, but as he's a good eight inches taller I can't really call him my little brother anymore) up to Ann Arbor, where he's starting college next week. Brother had the idea for the family reunion part of the trip. You see, my aunt and uncle and cousins all live in the Chicago area, which really isn't all that far away, but they all lead incredibly busy lives and as a result we never see them except for when someone gets married or dies. (The one exception in recent years was the trip for the surprise birthday party in February.) Brother decided that was simply unacceptable, so he has been pushing us to arrange a family reunion. As it turned out, everyone was free this particular weekend, and Ann Arbor, being equidistant from both Chicago and Pittsburgh, was an incredibly convenient location.

I took both my Seraphim shawl and my Steelers sock with me on the trip, and worked on Seraphim in the car in in the hotel room while J was napping. The sock came out while sitting around the hotel waiting for family members or in the car going to and from dinner or sightseeing excursions, and my cousin Lara was especially enchanted by it. Don't believe me?

She just had to try it on and see if it would work well as a sock puppet. Here she is mugging it up with my cousin Adam. (And yes, we were wearing matching t-shirts. J designed them, and they had all the family last names on the back. They were done in maize and blue for the occasion, for obvious reasons. Let it be known that we were not the only family reunion at our hotel this weekend, and the other family was much larger and louder -- and they had matching t-shirts as well! Clearly we were not the only dorky family in town.)

Here's a shot of me and my sweetie in front of Zingerman's, an absolutely incredible deli/bakery/eatery in greater Ann Arbor. The general manager of the place saw our t-shirts and insisted that we take a big group shot in front of the store -- he even took the photo for us!

(Would you believe that I carried my camera around with me the entire weekend and only took these two shots? I blame Brother, who was already too horribly embarrassed by the family to let me take any pictures of the sock in action. I didn't even get to stop at either of the two LYSs I scoped out before we left!)

Seraphim is coming along nicely, and as of this morning I had four rows of Chart 3 plus the edging chart (#4) left to do -- that's only 14 rows! Here's the latest progress shot:

I plan finishing it up this week, then starting on Sizzle. Many, many thanks to Wendy, who pointed out that my gauge issue might work to my advantage. (This was just another example of how my warped brain deals with math. Silly me, I was thinking that somehow having less stitches in my gauge swatch than I was supposed to meant that my sweater would come out smaller; in fact it's just the opposite.)

I'm awaiting my Knit Picks order this week (tomorrow I hope!), containing some of their new needles. I'll be sure to offer up my two cents on them, as I know the reviews have been mixed.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Money I'd Rather Spend on Yarn

Sigh. Money can go so quickly with one little swipe of the credit card. Case in point:

My new tire. Apparently it wasn't possible to patch the hole in the old tire, as I had driven on it just enough that the side of the tire was (as the service center guy put it in all his eloquence) "busted." So, nearly four Knit Picks free shipping orders later, we are set for the road trip. I suppose it's also fortunate that I placed another Knit Picks order last night, before paying for my new treads.

Thanks to everyone who chimed in on what I should bring for my car knitting. Unfortunately there wasn't much of a consensus, and I'm indecisive enough that I'm going to take the easy way out. I'm just going to take the two projects I already have in progress -- Seraphim and my Steelers socks -- plus the yarn for the second sock. We'll see how far I get. Of course I've already scoped out the Ann Arbor-area yarn stores on the Internets, so perhaps a visit to one of them will inspire a new project. I will wait until we return to start Sizzle, which I think should be my next project since I'd like to be able to wear it this year.

And here's where I ask for you help again -- especially those of you who are good with gauge and the maths (because I'm not). Here's the situation: the Sizzle pattern jumps in its sizing from 34 to 38, and I'm a 36. Ordinarily I'd just do the smaller size, but there is a gauge issue as well. I'm substituting Knit Picks Main Line, and I'm getting 19 stitches over four inches, while the pattern gauge is 20 sts/4 in. Also, Holly found that her Sizzle turned out much larger than she expected. So, what do I do? Please share your wisdom!

My final bit of knitting news for the day is that I've signed up for Sock-ret Pal, which seems to be a new thing and is sort of a mix between Secret Pal and Sockapalooza. You send packages to your pal bimonthly, for a total of three packages, one of which is to include a pair of hand-knit socks.

We are off to Ann Arbor in the morning. Stay tuned for a report on Sunday or Monday, depending on what time we get back. Happy weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

What next?

I have had A Day. First, there was the ridiculous quantity of work on my desk. Then, just as I was preparing to leave work to meet a friend for a drink before dinner with her, J, and another friend, I began getting a migraine. For me, the first stage of a migraine -- before the excruciating pain -- is going temporarily blind. Not exactly convenient when I've driven to work. Fortunately, J was in the neighborhood and was able to pick up my mother to have an extra driver. They figured they'd take my car over to my parents', I'd lie down for a bit to see if I felt better, and J and I would either go to dinner and pick up my car afterwards or I'd just nap there while he went to dinner.

Oh no, that was not to be. Of course, because I was already feeling like complete crap, The Powers That Be had to throw another log on the fire: when my mother and I walked over to my car, don't you know it has a flat tire? I've been driving for almost a decade and never gotten a flat tire, and of all days it happens when I'm feeling sick as a dog and just need to go home and crawl into bed. It took an hour and a half for AAA to come, but luckily my mom and J were there to keep me company and J let me relax in his car with the air conditioning on. Needless to say, we did not make it to dinner. Ironically, we were going to go to a place that we've never successfully gotten in to (every time we try to go, they're either closed or so packed we'd wait for hours to get in); J thinks this was just another sign that we're not meant to eat there.

If there was an upside to this day, it's that at least by the time I got home this evening, the migraine was manageable (thank you, Excedrin!) and I can actually relax for a couple of hours rather than climbing immediately out of bed. This means more time with J, who leaves early tomorrow morning for a two-day work trip. I also got to use my brand-new "Josie" sock bag, courtesy of trek. It arrived in the mail yesterday, and my first Steelers sock has already moved in. This is a such a great improvement over the ziplock bag that I was using to hold my sock-in-progress in my purse. Trek calls this fabric pattern Josie because it reminded her of Josie and the Pussycats -- think pink leopard print. I love it, and just take a look at the cute coordinating fabrics inside:

(Sorry about the picture quality. I guess my head was feeling better but my hands were still a bit shaky.) I don't think my head is feeling quite up to lace charts yet, so I'll work on this tonight.

I still haven't decided just what project to take in the car with me this weekend, so I'm going to take a little poll (and lurkers, please participate!). I probably have about 12 hours in the car, and of course these socks will come with since they're my travel project, but I need something else. Here are the options:
  • I could finally start my Sizzle, assuming I finally decide which size to do (I may ask your opinion/help on that as well);
  • I could finally start Forecast, for which the yarn has been waiting for at least a couple months;
  • I could use the Cascade Fixation I bought last week to make another pair of Jaywalkers; or
  • I could just take my Seraphim shawl and hope for the best with the charts in the car.
So, dear readers, what do you think? Which project gets to make the trip to Ann Arbor? Voting ends at 5 p.m. EST on Thursday, August 24.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Mata Haris

They're done!


Pattern: Mata Hari, stitch pattern by Craftoholic Steph
Yarn: cotton/lycra blend, hand-dyed, from Greenwood Fiberworks, in colorway Strawberry Milkshake, one skein
Needles: US 1 bamboo dpns (short-row toes) and Addi Turbo circs
Mods: The original stitch pattern had a 10-stitch repeat. I modified this to be an eight-stitch repeat to work with my total number of stitches (64).

I knit these toe-up, with short row toes and heels. They were finished with a 1 1/2" cuff in 3x1 rib and a sewn bind-off (much stretchier than a traditional BO, but you can see that as a result the tops roll a bit). I had just enough yarn to finish these up. Take a look:

This is all that's left of the original skein for repairs. It looks like more than it is, since the yarn is very fluffy; I estimate it's between 10 and 20 yards.

These socks are soooo comfy and fit me just perfectly (as well they should). The yarn is rather nubby, so it probably doesn't show off the stitch pattern as something with better stitch definition, but I like the texture of it. Here's a closeup shot:

Now that these are off the needles, my Steelers socks will be my on-the-go project. I'm still working on Seraphim at home and am about two-thirds of the way through the first lace chart. We're headed to my future in-laws' place this afternoon (J is helping his father rip up the carpet) and I'll be taking it along with me. Look for prettier progress shots this week!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

2 Ktogs

It's been quite a knitting week -- two knitting nights in a row! Thrilling, but also tough on the hands (I've had some hand cramping, and that never happens, so I must be knitting a lot).

Most of the knitting this week has been on Seraphim, and I've even joined the Seraphim KAL. At the moment I have two more rows to knit and then I get to start the lace charts, which I'm anxious to do (my eyes, however, aren't very happy about my progress). Here's the obligatory progress shot, although there's not much to see other than some YOs amidst two spans of stockinette:

Seraphim's first public outing was to knit night at my new LYS, Yarns By Design in Oakmont. It took me quite a while to find the shop, as it's rather out of the way (for anyone planning on making a visit, it's in a small business park off an alley behind Hoffstot's restaurant). It's an adorable little shop with a good start on its yarn selection (lots of Cascade and Debbie Bliss, a decent baby yarn section). There ended up being a pretty big crowd of lovely ladies there to knit. Jen made me wear my Adamas shawl the whole time I was there, and I got quite a few compliments. Of course, I could not leave the store empty handed, especially as the prices were so reasonable. Here's a shot of the haul:

Here are three skeins of Cascade 220, two in a heathered emerald shade and one in a deep charcoal gray. These are destined to be another French Market Bag, which I will probably start next week to take on our road trip to Ann Arbor next weeks. I also decided to try some Cascade Fixation; although I haven't picked out a pattern for this yarn yet, I'm already calling them my Jailbird socks (look at the colorway and you'll see why -- I have a feeling they'll wind up being black and white stripes). I was also gifted with a sample of Eucalan and a fun measuring tape, the type that zaps back into the case when you press the button in the center.

Last night was the regular third-Wednesday-of-the-month knit night at the Waterworks Barnes & Noble. The usual suspects were there (myself included), but we were also joined by Marsha, a prolific lace shawl knitter who we hope will bring some show-and-tell next month! Our record of spotting, well, characters, let's say, at this meeting spot stands for another month. We not only saw our favorite 40-toting superhero fan, who arrived right on schedule, we actually spotted a man walking a pig. Yes, you read that correctly, A MAN WALKING A PIG. Don't believe me? See the pictures. I kid you not. All the more reason to come out and join us next month!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

As promised, here's a quick recap of Stitch 'n Pitch at PNC Park yesterday.

J and I arrived plenty early and made our way over to the Southwest Flight Deck to pick up our goodie bags. J didn't really want his (are you shocked?) so I got twice the goodies. I'll direct you over to Holly's blog for a better picture of the goods.

We settled in to our upgraded seats (one section up behind the Pirates' dugout) just in time for all the pregame festivities, including a chance to get a glimpse of a local celebrity:
No, I don't mean the Pirate Parrot (although he's pretty well known around these parts, too). I'm referring to that guy in the blue suit, David Newell, better known to most Western Pennsylvanians -- and most Americans of a certain age, for that matter -- as Mr. McFeely from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.

Our seats were fantastic for the game (a 7-0 shutout!), but not particularly conducive to knitting. Aside from the fact that I brought wool socks, I didn't want to sweat on the fabric and risk felting or just plain dirtiness/smelliness. I managed to get just a few rows done:
These will be my game-day socks for Steelers season, but the black and gold worked just fine for the Buccos, too. You can see from this picture just what a great view we had for the game, but you can also see just how sunny it was. Let me assure you, it was hot. I was sweaty and gross. I got right in the shower when we got home.

Here's a shot of the two of us during the seventh inning stretch, taken by a very friendly Pirate fan sitting behind us (obviously a talented photographer -- look at how nicely she framed the shot!):
(Note to self: must find a cute Pirates tank top or other cool clothing to complete game-day apparel.)

In knitting news, I did indeed start Seraphim last night and made pretty good progress. I won't show you a picture because there's not much to see at this point; I have roughly 66 rows still to knit before I start the lace charts (right now I'm just increasing by yarning over at the edges and around the center stitch on right-side rows). I'm using the new Gloss from Knit Picks for this, and I'm really enjoying it. The knitting goes much faster with fingering weight (as opposed to lace weight) yarn, for one thing, but the silk content also gives the yarn a beautiful sheen to it. I just know this'll be a gorgeous shawl when it's done.

This is going to be a big knitting week. Tomorrow evening I am going to try to meet up with Jen at Yarns by Design for their knit night (6-8 p.m.), and then Wednesday is knitting night at the Waterworks Barnes & Noble. The usual crew will be there; will you?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Finis.

Pattern: Adamas Shawl by Miriam
Yarn: Knit Picks Shadow in colorway Lost Lake
Needles: Addi Turbo 24" circular, US 5
Started/Finished: late June?/August 11
Mods: none

I am so pleased with the way this shawl turned out. This was my first attempt at lace almost a year ago, but I had to rip it out twice because I kept having issues with stitch count. As it turns out, the culprit was incorrect yarn overs, which I learned to do correctly for my mom's shawl. Once I restarted this shawl (sometime before I moved; I can't pinpoint an exact date) it was all smooth sailing.

This is a great pattern. Miriam is not only a very talented designer, she's also super friendly and helpful if you have problems. I have patterns for two more of her shawls, and I'll be starting Seraphim next, likely tonight (I wound my yarn for it last night).

Today was Stitch 'n Pitch at PNC Park and was it ever a perfect day. We upgraded our seats -- my parents had two tickets behind the Pirates' dugout -- so we had a great view, and we got all sorts of goodies. Plus, I think it was the first game I'd been to in a couple years where I got to see the Buccos actually win! And completing a sweep, no less! But more details on that tomorrow. Tonight, I have some more lace shots for you to admire (and please excuse the casual duds. They're what we wear around here when we come home all sweaty from the ball game and have to shower off.)




Thursday, August 10, 2006

Play Ball!

We finally received our Stitch 'n Pitch tickets on Tuesday, which is a lucky thing for the Pirates, let me tell you. Little do they know that I was planning on calling them up first thing yesterday morning to harass them until they told me where my tickets were and what was taking them so gosh-darn long to cash my check!

(The funny thing is, yesterday afternoon I checked the mail and found an envelope from the Buccos. I couldn't imagine what else they were sending me. Would you believe they're doing a wedding expo along with a game later this month? Oy.)

Is anyone else planning on going to the game on Sunday for the Stitch 'n Pitch festivities? I will be pulling out my Lorna's Laces Bee Stripe (purchased on the trip to D.C. in April) to get started on my black and gold socks, the goal being to have them done in time for football season.

I am so close to being done with Adamas that it's killing me. I have five more rows to knit -- five more, people! I am going to try to get them done tonight. Blocking party this weekend!

Sorry no pictures. Not much to show you right now anyway. I promise something better over the weekend.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Seduced by cotton?

I made very little progress on Adamas this weekend (a measly seven rows), in part because it was an incredibly hectic weekend and I was barely at home, but also because (and I blame trek for this) I found myself compelled to knit one of these:

Pattern: Garterlac Dishcloth by Dave
Yarn: Sugar & Cream, one ball
Needles: US 7 straights
Started/Completed: August 5/August 6
Mods: none

I am not a huge fan of knitting with cotton, mostly because it's so tough on my hands, but this was a quick, nearly instant gratification project. This was my first foray into entrelac of any kind, which also helps explain the appeal. I found it to be very easy to pick up and I'm eager to try traditional (i.e., stockinette) entrelac.

My new, more realistic goal for Adamas is to finish it by the end of the week (doable, I think, as I have only 15 rows plus the bind off left) and have it blocked by the end of the weekend. I hope to have the FO to show you soon!

Oh, and before I leave you, check out the booty awaiting me at home this evening:


(In retrospect, the black couch probably wasn't the most ideal background for this shot, but too late now.) Here are three skeins of Essential (75% superwash wool, 25% nylon) for socks for my future FIL, six skeins of Shine (60% Pima cotton, 40% Modal), and five hanks of the new Gloss (70% merino, 30% silk). Must. Finish. Adamas.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Quick Update

Happy Friday morning. Lord, do I wish it were the weekend. Ever have one of those weeks that seem a day longer than usual? I'm having one of those.

Last night I finally got in a solid knitting night of the type I used to have when I lived alone (I love living with J, but darn it if he isn't cute and distracting!). He was busy working on his computer most of the evening, so I got about three hours of time in on Adamas. Somehow I managed to get in an entire pattern repeat, 10 whole rows! That means I have one more body chart repeat to get through, followed by the 12 edging rows and the bind off. I'm hoping to have time to get it done this weekend.

Why am I so anxious to finish the shawl? Well for one thing, I feel like I've been working on it forever -- those of you who've been reading this blog for a while will remember that I started this shawl twice before (as in, before I learned how to YO correctly). For another, my Sizzle pattern finally arrived yesterday afternoon, so I'm anxious to get started on that, hoping that by the time I finish it, it will have cooled off enough to actually wear it. Plus, I was reminded by all the commercials on TV last night that football season is coming up, so I'll need to get started on my Steelers socks.

If you're looking for something to do today/this weekend, go check out the Weekly Photo Scavenger Hunt, and please vote on your favorite photo once they've all been posted and the poll is up!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

It must be the heat.

Why else would I be ordering more yarn? Yes, that's right, even though my last Knit Picks order hasn't fully been completed (my blocking wires seem to have finally left Leetsdale but aren't expected to be delivered until tomorrow), I placed yet another order today. (Shhh, don't tell J!) In my defense, everything I ordered was for a specific project: some Essential sock yarn for socks for J's stepfather; hanks of the new merino/silk blend sock yarn, Gloss, for my Seraphim; and some Shine Sport to finally make a Picovoli. And I ordered just enough to get the free shipping. See? I'm being economical!

Meanwhile, progress continues slowly on Adamas. Last night I finished a whopping six rows while watching Mad Hot Ballroom. Granted, I may have been a tad bit distracted by how cute the kids were, but I'm also at the point where the rows are so long that they each take me roughly 15 minutes to complete. (I'm starting to see the appeal in shawl patterns that start at the outside edge and work their way up and in.) I'm now two rows into my 12th pattern repeat, which means 28 more rows of the body to go. Since she's expressed so much interest, here's a little peek/progress shot just for Donna (foot again provided for scale):

We're still waiting for our Pirates tickets for Stitch 'n Pitch, and I'm starting to get a little nervous since it's coming up next weekend. The last time I looked they hadn't cashed my check yet. I'm giving them a few more days.

I am so looking forward to this weekend. We have dinner plans Friday night and I'm working Saturday, but other than that I am planning on being as much of a couch potato as I possibly can. I feel like I haven't had a real weekend in a month, and let me tell you, I could use the sleep, not to mention the knitting time. Perhaps I'll start some new socks ...

*Edited to add: Hooray, my blocking wires are here! Now I just need to finish the darn shawl so I can test 'em out and give you my full review.