Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Mail Call!

Today was a good day for mail. First, our ketubah (marriage contract) was delivered to me at work, and were it not for the fact that it's wrapped in plastic in a tube and very hard to get back in said tube, I'd show you a picture. Suffice it to say I'm very pleased and it will look lovely hanging up somewhere in the house after the wedding.

A Knit Picks package was waiting for me at home. I decided to take advantage of the big book sale and enhance my Elizabeth Zimmermann collection:

There was also a little bit of yarn, but it's all for knitting for others. First, five skeins of Shine Sport (in the very gender-neutral colorway Green Apple) to make another Pea Pod cardigan for a baby due in January -- gender unknown, of course. I also ordered two skeins of Essential sock yarn in a colorway called Dusk, the heathered blue my future FIL likes so much, to make him a pair of socks for Christmas. How do you like my long-term planning?

Tonight I am going to take the plunge and cast on for my Flower Basket Shawl for the wedding (if it gets done). I figure in order to have it done to wear at the wedding, the knitting will probably need to be finished by Thursday the 30th and it will be need be blocked on that night or the morning of Friday the 31st. That gives me a month to knit. To further complicate matters, I am using a single strand of a very thin laceweight soysilk yarn, rather than the doubled laceweight called for by the pattern, so to compensate I am going to go down to a size 3 needle. This might mean more knitting for me, but I firmly believe that if it's worth doing, it's worth doing right.

My lace and I will be at Barnes & Noble at the Waterworks tomorrow evening for the first-ever first-Wednesday meeting of the Hurricane Knitters. Hope to see you there!

Monday, July 30, 2007

My Something Blue

So. I finished, it was fantastic, and that's all there is to say about that.

And now we return to our regularly scheduled knitting, already in progress ...

J was out late on Saturday night at his bachelor party. Even though I knew he'd likely be home at a ridiculous hour, I couldn't get to sleep at the normal time. Instead, I put a movie in the DVD player and cast on for my garter:

It's a bit slow going (the slowness of knitting lace is compounded here by the cotton thread fighting against me), but you can see I've already got a decent amount done. I think I'm going to wind up making two garters -- one to throw, one to keep -- and as I bought two varieties of crochet thread (this is the thicker of the two here), I think what I'm going to do is knit one out of each kind of thread.

I also think I've decided to try to knit myself a Flower Basket Shawl for the wedding using a laceweight Soysilk. I have 34 days to go -- think I can do it? Or am I just nuts?

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Damn you, Harry Potter!

Don't get me wrong, I love the Harry Potter books, but they've been the reason I've been absent from the blog for the past week. First I was in a hurry to finish rereading #6, as I really had little to no recollection of what happened in it and wanted to have it fresh in my mind before starting the final book. Then, of course, once I started #7, I've wanted to read it relatively slowly so as not to miss anything. I've been reading every evening, but the problem is that, after reading all day at work, my eyes have been crapping out on me and I've been passing out early night after night. I've got a little less than 300 pages to go, so I will finish it by the end of the weekend -- tonight, if possible, since J will be out at his bachelor party dinner.

There has been a little knitting in spite of all the extra reading. I haven't taken Harry Potter to work (my eyes really need a break during my lunch hour), so I've been working on my Solstice Slip socks instead. Sock One is done ...

... and Sock Two is well into the foot. The stitch pattern is easy to memorize and goes really quickly, so I'm sure this will have a completed mate sometime in the next week.

I've also been knitting a little bit while reading -- specifically knitting the miles and miles of stockinette on my French Market Bag, which requires no attention at all:

This bag is going to be positively humongous, at least before felting. I started out with the four skeins of the Patons SWS (leftover from Lady E), but it's been getting used up so quickly that I picked up two more skeins at Michael's today; I also picked up some white crochet cotton to finally knit up a wedding garter (blue ribbon was purchased as well).

As long as I'm fessing up to buying that yarn, I might as well tell you about the major stash acquisition I made this morning. You see, I'd gotten a postcard in the mail about a big sale at Yarns by Design -- everything 35% off this morning from 10 to noon -- and I figured I'd might as well take advantage of it to buy yarn to make Eunny Jang's Tangled Yoke Cardigan in the fall issue of Interweave Knits. I'd seen a peek of the design months ago on Eunny's blog, but I've been seriously lusting after it since the preview showed up on IK's Web site earlier in the week. This morning I was contemplating substituting Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool for the Rowan Felted Tweed called for in the pattern when I came across this:

I wish there were a way for you to feel this yarn through the computer screen because it is positively the softest yarn I have ever felt. This is Sublime (aptly named!) Extra Fine Merino DK, in a gorgeous sage-y green that I have not at all accurately captured with my camera. It's not at all the tweedy look of the pattern, but when I saw this yarn I knew it would have great stitch definition (and thereby make the cabling on the yoke really pop). After I touched it and held it to my cheek for a minute, there was no way it wasn't coming home with me.

This also found its way into my basket, though I've no idea how:


Two skeins of Malabrigo worsted in the colorway Verdes -- the first thought that popped into my head when I saw it was "Emerald City." I've no real project in mind for this stuff, although wouldn't it make a spectacular garter stitch scarf? (Clearly the knitting of one particular blogger is in my head!)

I am off to be a good blogger and finish up the tale of the boy wizard so I can get back to my knitting!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Craziness

I hate to say this, but I was almost happy to go back to work this morning, if only for the fact that the schedule would get back to normal. We had a good weekend, but we were barely home. Saturday we were up bright and early for the Sears repair man to fix our dishwasher. He was supposed to come between 8 and 12; he called at 7:59 to say he was outside, and the dishwasher was fixed and he was out the door by 8:20. We went to get breakfast, and then I went to pick up the new Harry Potter book (no, I haven't started it yet, I'm still rereading the last one!) before heading off to do wedding stuff with my mother for most of the day.

Saturday night some good family friends threw us a couples shower, and we had a great time with some of our friends and some family friends. We were truly "showered" with some really generous gifts. Want to see my newest toy?

Everyone would have assumed it was for the kitchen, until J blurted it out to the whole room that I'd be using it for weighing my yarn. I guess the cat's out of the bag! (By the way, I did measure the leftover TOFUtsies -- 33 grams!)

Yesterday was a little less chaotic. We drove out near the old airport to meet my aunt and uncle for brunch (they were in town this weekend for a Fiestaware convention), and then the boys played golf while my mother and I lay by the pool. I was attempting to get rid of the unsightly remnants of my Stitch 'n Pitch sunburn but instead wound up with a new burn all over my chest and stomach. Here's hoping it all blends together!

As I mentioned, I've been rereading the sixth Harry Potter before reading the final book -- especially since the first time I read it was right after I had my wisdom teeth out, so needless to say I do not remember much! I've been managing to knit a little while I read, and as a result I'm now into the straight stockinette body of my French Market Bag:

This is pretty mindless knitting, so for the most part I can pay attention to the book, but this yarn has prevented me from going as quickly as I'd like. Because the yarn is only a single ply, I find myself frequently knitting into a strand of it rather than through the loop. Fortunately felting hides all manner of mistakes, so I'm not worrying about it too much.

When I need to pay attention to what I'm doing, I've been working on my Solstice Slip socks. I just finished the heel of the first one:


I really like the garter stitch short-row heel (although I can't seem to get a good picture of it while the sock is on my own foot). These are knitting up really quickly in spite of the fact that I had to tink back about 10 rows because I wasn't paying attention and had skipped a row of the pattern two or three times. Now that I know what I'm doing, the rest of the sock will be smooth sailing.

Well I'm beat. I'm off to watch a little TV, read a little Harry Potter, and curl up with J when he gets home. Happy knitting! (And please -- no HP7 spoilers!)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Finished: Garter Rib Socks

Stitch Pattern: Garter Rib from Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch
Yarn: South West Trading Company TOFUtsies (50% superwash wool, 25% Soysilk, 22.5% cotton, 2.5% Chitin), colorway 724, one skein
Needles: two US 1 (2.5 mm) 12" Addi Turbo circs
Started/Completed: July 8/July 18

These were my Stitch 'n Pitch socks and proved to be an easy mindless knit (although don't think that means I didn't make mistakes!). The most pleasurable thing about the was the yarn. I'd been hesitant to knit with it for a while because of the high cotton content, but I found that it didn't feel at all like cotton. It was smooth and soft and only a little splitty. And the yardage! Look at how much I have left:

That's the ballband for scale. I wish I had a digital scale to know how many grams are in that skein, but it appears to be significant amount. I'm not going to use it to make baby socks, though, just on the offhand chance it could trigger an allergic reaction. (Last night at knit night, Amy wore the first completed sock for a while in an entirely unscientific experiment -- she's allergic to everything that lives in the sea, but not deathly so. She rated it a 1.5 on a 10-point itchiness scale.) I am definitely going to be buying more of this yarn in the future, so I think for now I'll just save the leftovers to be combined with the leftovers in future skeins.

I cast on (finally!) my June Rockin' Sock Club socks and have the toe done so far. I also cast on for another French Market Bag the other night, after the power finally came back on following a ridiculous storm. I'm using the four leftover skeins of Patons SWS from my MIL's Lady E stole.


This chunky, fuzzy yarn is certainly quite a change after all the socks and the baby sweater, and I'm quite enjoying it. I'm going to get as much out of the yarn as I can and make the bag bigger than the last one. I have to say, with all the stress at work and the stress of wedding stuff, I am really looking forward to the miles of mindless stockinette of the body!

Last night's meeting of the Hurricane Knitters was a real hoot (I hope we didn't scare the newcomers away!). Amy joined us for the first time, as did Mary Beth (Marybeth?), who was a NEW knitter -- but boy, was she a natural! I showed her how to cast on one stitch using the long-tail cast on, and she was off. The same thing happened when I showed her how to make a knit stitch. I really should have taken a picture of her swatch -- I've never seen such even stitches from a beginning knitter! In any case, the group made a decision to increase the number of our meetings; we'll now be meeting on the first and third Wednesdays of the month. That should really freak 40 Guy out, don't you think?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

An FO and a Reminder

I've never done such a fast finishing job in my life (I suppose it helps that this project is itty bitty)!

Pattern: cardigan from Pea Pod Baby Set (pdf) by Kate Gilbert, offered as a Web knit by Interweave Knits, summer 2006
Size: 6 months (20 1/2" chest circumference)
Yarn: Knit Picks Shine Sport (60% pima cotton, 40% modal), colorway Sky, approximately 3.5 skeins
Needles: US 5 (3.75 mm) 32" Addi Turbo circs
Started/Completed: July 5/July 16
Recipient: baby boy Bowden, due to make his arrival in November

I am, to put it simply, in love with this sweet little sweater for so many reasons -- not least of which how quickly it knit up. I love the little peas created in the border by a yarnover and cleverly placed cable. I love the lace panel and how it breaks up the soothing monotony of stockinette. I love the asymmetrical placement of the opening and button band. And, as always, I love the miracles a good blocking worked in terms of (1) opening up the lace panel, (2) smoothing out the stitches, and (3) allowing me to cheat the gauge monster.

As this sweater is for a little boy, and as the lace panel might be thought by some (not me!) to be a little girly, I went with very plain faux horn buttons I had in my collection and sewed them on with a light blue thread to complement the yarn:

I have somewhat mixed feelings about this yarn. This particular colorway (a total of six skeins to begin with) had been in my stash since around the time I completed my Tivoli, for which I used the same yarn in a different colorway. I'd contemplated making another Tivoli at the time, but never cast on, so it had been marinating in the stash for many months. Then came the explosion of baby making among our friends (or so it seems) and I thought it best to make use of the baby-friendly and washable fibers in the stash when knitting for them. This yarn fits the bill: it's natural, it won't melt in the face of fire, and it's machine washable.

However, this batch I had shed like -- well, I guess like a long-haired dog who sheds. Every time I got up after a decent knitting session, I found myself covered in blue fuzzies. (Fortunately I did most of my knitting at night, in my pyjamas, so I didn't have to go out in public looking like a blue Muppet.) I discussed this fuzziness and shedding problem at length with Jenn, who is using the same yarn to knit her Josephine but who has not had any shedding problems. We've decided that Knit Picks must have "reformulated" their Shine, along with their other yarns, to make it less sheddy; we've certainly noticed that the Essential sock yarn has gotten softer.

There's one more feature of this sweater that I must point out -- in my opinion, my first fully successful set-in sleeve!


Tomorrow is the third Wednesday of the month, which means that the Hurricane Knitters and I will be at the Waterworks Barnes & Noble for our monthly meeting. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

We're Blocking, We're Blocking*

All the pieces of the Pea Pod Cardigan are done! I finished the body last night and promptly blocked it:

I'd been a tad bit off in my gauge when I blocked my swatch (I had an extra 1.5 stitches and 1.5 rows over 4 inches), so I blocked this baby pretty strongly to match the measurements in the pattern schematic. I just love how the lace opened up and smoothed out as a nice by-product of my pulling and stretching:


Tonight, once I pin the sleeves into shape, I'm going to graft the shoulder seams and pick up stitches for the collar. I should have this sweater finished up in the next couple of days -- and then it's all about the buttons.


*Ever since my mother mentioned to me the other day that she'd been watching Dave on TV, that Bonnie Hunt line has been going through my head, so you'll have to excuse the pun.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Here I Am!

After my last post and all the excitement over DJ, things got a little crazy. However, there has been a little knitting (progress is easy to make on small knits!):

I finished the right front -- the front with the lace section -- of the Pea Pod Cardigan and have picked up the stitches for the back. You'll notice I didn't bind off the shoulder stitches at the top; I've decided that, with such a little sweater, I don't want to add any unnecessary bulk with seams, so I'm going to graft the shoulder stitches.

For the most part, I'm really enjoying this yarn (Knit Picks Shine Sport). It has a lovely sheen and knits up to a fabric with great drape. My one complaint is that it sheds. Frequently a ring of fuzz forms around the working yarn that I have to rip off, and I've noticed that when I get up after a knitting session, I've got fuzz all down the front of me. I'm sure this will go away after blocking and washing, but for now I'm glad I've only been working on this at home in my pyjamas.

Also, mostly through knitting during my lunch hour at work, I finished my first Garter Rib sock:

This is knit in TOFUtsies, which I just lurve knitting with. It's a little splitty sometimes, but it feels wonderful to knit and feels spectacular when worn. I will definitely be buying more of this yarn in the future, as it's a great summer alternative to the other cotton/wool blends I've tried -- this is much easier on my hands. The yardage is also amazing. With one sock done that's a normal size (7" leg and 9.5" length foot), it looks like I've barely made a dent in the skein. I have no doubt that there will be plenty left over after the second sock is complete to make at least a pair of baby socks. (Although I'm wondering if that's a good idea -- does anyone know if wearing a fiber made from shellfish can trigger allergies? I don't want to make a baby sick, especially if it's my too-cute baby cousin.)

Oh, and guess what?


My Koigu came. Now I can finally finish up the bad sock and knit its mate.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Kindness of Strangers

The universe sometimes has a way of working things out. For instance, this morning I woke up with great difficulty, dragging myself out of bed because I knew I had to get to work, where a huge pile of reading awaited me. When I stopped at the top of the driveway to put a bill in the mailbox, I noticed that the mailman had left two packages on the front stoop. I had to wait until I got to work to open them, and what pleasant surprises were inside!

First was the prize I'd won from Julie for coming up with a name she selected for her latest design, the Haymarket Bag. Have you ever known me to not be excited about a sock book?

The other package was a larger box, from Mari. I knew she'd sent me something because she'd e-mailed me about a week ago asking for my mailing address -- but she only said she had a little surprise for me. As it turns out, when I'd gushed over Dudley, the stuffed daschund she'd made from a Japanese pattern book, she decided that -- although we only "know" each other online -- she had to make me one.

Meet Dudley Junior, or DJ, as I like to call him:

He's made of a beautiful chocolatey linen and stuffed with organic cotton (he came with a hand-written tag telling me all this).

Tell me this is not the cutest doggie face you've ever seen!

Thank you so much, Mari! I've repacked and unpacked DJ several times today, just to get the thrill I got upon first opening the box, and I've squealed with delight each and every time. DJ is going to do a lot to fill the hole I have in my life by not having a real dog (but not forever, J!).

Knitting is coming along without much exciting progress, probably because the heat and the stress at work is wearing me down. Last night I made it into the third lace repeat in the Pea Pod Cardigan. DJ approves of my work thus far:

Tonight will be more of the same. I'll try to have some more interesting knitting pictures in time for my next posting. In the meantime, happy "tails" to you!


(Sorry, I couldn't resist! And I know you're not at all sorry to see the cutest little puppy tushie ever!)

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Finished: Embossed Leaves #2

First things first -- down to the business of the latest FO.

Pattern: Embossed Leaves Socks by Mona Schmidt (Interweave Knits winter 2005/Favorite Socks)
Yarn: Koigu KPPPM (100% merino), colorway P429, two skeins
Needles: two US 1 (2.5 mm) 12" Addi Turbo circs
Started/Completed: June 27/July 8
Mods: I used a regular long-tail cast on and joined for working in the round from the beginning, worked twisted rib for one inch, and did not cut the yarn after turning the heel.

Love these! The Koigu is an absolute dream to work with, and I loved not only the feel of the yarn but the lusciousness of the color. These socks are actually shades of muted greens and charcoal grays, somewhat difficult to capture on camera. Amazingly, I saw almost no pooling in these socks; what little there is can't really be seen if you aren't looking for it.

I have not yet frogged the original sock of this pair (or so I thought); thanks to a very helpful comment left by Amber, I was able to find another skein in P531! One day soon, therefore, I'll have another pair of Embossed Leaves to call my own.

Today was Stitch 'n Pitch and I have only one word for it: HOT! There are no pictures of any of the knitters or their companions because we were all rather, um, damp. I did manage to cast on and knit about an inch and a half of a new sock:

This is the TOFUtsies I bought for myself in Hilton Head. I'm just going a simple garter rib because I didn't want the colorway to compete with the pattern. I'm finding it strangely satisfying not to have to think about lace or where the yarn over should go.

I am, however, getting a little lace fix with the other project I recently cast on:


This is the beginning of the cardigan from Kate Gilbert's Pea Pod Baby Set (pdf). It's knitting up supercute and it's very hard to put it down without completing a chart. Its intended recipient isn't due to make his arrival until November, but I have a feeling this sweater will be complete long before then!

Meanwhile, we just found out some other friends of ours are expecting a baby -- due in January, sex not to be known until it's born. I think another Baby Surprise Jacket may be in my future!

Bad Blogger, Bad!

Hi there. Yes, I know I've been bad about blogging lately. We've been busy, and I haven't been doing much knitting. But, later today, I promise you a real post. We're headed to Stitch 'n Pitch with Jenn and The MWP this afternoon and I am also close to finishing my Embossed Leaves socks. Plus I've cast on for a new project. Full reports by tonight, I promise!

In the meantime, you must go an watch this video.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Knitting Independence

Thank you for all of your compliments on the Red Sox sweater! I'm so pleased with how it turned out and can't wait to see it modeled on the recipient. It is now wrapped up and ready to be shipped out; I'll be taking it to the post office first thing Saturday morning.

Although I didn't have a deadline for completing the sweater (other than the one I'd imposed on myself), while working on it I felt a sense of urgency to finish it. Now that it's done, I find myself with only one WIP: my Embossed Leaves socks. And look! A finished sock!

(Apologies for the crummy picture. We had typical holiday/day off weather here in Western Pennsylvania -- muggy and overcast, so no good natural light.)

The first sock was finished during lunch yesterday. Yesterday evening, we decided to go to the baseball game on a whim. It was a 4:05 game, so even though we both left work early, we didn't get there until halfway through the game. We still made it in plenty of time for a special post-game concert by Live (which you can see the start of the second sock enjoyed) ...

and a fireworks show. Not a bad way to spend a Tuesday evening!

We had a very mellow 4th. J has been home all week and we'd hoped to be able to go to the pool, but the weather did not cooperate, so we stayed home and relaxed. I managed to get laundry done and run the dishwasher and write nearly all of my thank-you notes for shower gifts. Perhaps not the most exciting day to spend a day off, but at least it was productive and will cut down on some of the chores I have to do over the weekend.

I also started planning for a new project. We have some friends who are expecting a baby boy in November, so I am swatching for Kate Gilbert's Pea Pod Baby Set (pdf). I've done some looking around at the yarns others have used for this pattern on Ravelry and found that Knit Picks Shine Sport seems to be a popular substitution. Fortuitously, I have six skeins in the stash in a lovely shade of light blue that will do very nicely. Tonight, I am swatching.

Hope you had a great 4th!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Finished: Aidan's Red Sox Sweater

Is this not the cutest sweater ever?

Pattern: Loosely based on the Seamless Raglan Baby Cardigan by Carole Barenys
Yarn: Reynolds Soft Sea Wool (100% wool) in color 0569 (navy; two skeins) and color 0263 (cream; about one-fourth of a skein); Dale of Norway Baby Ull (100% superwash merino), color 4227/red, one skein
Needles: US 5 (3.75 mm) 32" Addi Turbo circular
Started/Completed: June 20/July 1
Recipient: baby cousin Aidan

This sweater was such fun to knit. It's intended to look like a throwback Boston Red Socks jacket, much like this one. I adapted the pattern to accommodate the striping at the neck, around the cuffs of the sleeves, and around the bottom of the body.

The yarn was part of my purchase at the big Knit One sale, mostly because the blue was the right shade. The Baby Ull had to do for the red portions since there was no such shade available in the Sea Wool. I found that it was a tad bit thinner than the Sea Wool, however, so I doubled the Baby Ull in all of the striped areas.

The Sea Wool was absolutely delightful to work with. I'd purchased much more than I thought I'd need, just to be on the safe side, but I ended up using far less (less than two skeins total) than I'd anticipated. It's not the most ideal baby yarn to work with in that it's not superwash, but it's quite soft and has a great "sproinginess" to it. I now find myself with three full skeins of the blue and most of the skein of cream to make some socks for myself.

By far, my favorite part of this sweater is the socks on the back:

I'd originally intended to place these on the left front of the sweater, but they were really overpowering there, so onto the back it was. Before sewing them on I gave them a good steamy press with the iron to flatten them and set them into shape.

The buttons are some neutral faux horn ones that came from my button stash. I'd toyed with the idea of using buttons in the shape of little baseballs, but in the end I decided that would have been overkill. I think these work much better with the classic/throwback look of the sweater overall.


I couldn't be happier with how this sweater turned out, and I can't wait to see little Aidan in it! (I've already given explicit instructions to my aunt on this matter.) I'll be wrapping this up and sending it out to him the next chance I have to go to the post office, likely sometime this coming weekend.

*********

The weekend was a blast. I'll be catching up on sleep for at least the next week, but I had such a great time I don't mind. I'd especially like to thank the Pirates for playing such a good game and winning for once and Bob the usher, nicest guy in the stadium, who sent me over a Yuengling. I don't want to go into too many details (J and occasionally my parents read this blog, after all!), but suffice it to say that much yummy food was consumed and my lingerie drawer is now fully stocked.

By the way, does anyone want a Bob Walk bobblehead? I have three.