Monday, December 31, 2007

2007: A Year in Review

Today is the last day of the year, which means it's time for my annual knitting self-reflection post. It's certainly been quite a year. By far, this was the most productive year I've had as a knitter. It was also an extremely busy year at work and in my personal life, which really makes me think I might thrive on stress and pressure. This year, I completed:
  • 39 pairs of socks,
  • five adult sweaters,
  • four baby sweaters,
  • two scarves,
  • one lace shawl (for the wedding!),
  • one baby blanket,
  • one lace garter (also for the wedding),
  • one baby hat,
  • one pair of baby booties,
  • one felted bag,
  • and a heck of a lot of miniatures/ornaments.

You can see the year's photo album here.

I have a number of knitting goals for the year ahead. The first is to finish all the baby sweaters I have planned. I also want to continue to work to reduce my stash, because I know there's a lot of great yarn I have that I've forgotten about because it's been in the stash so long. I won't exclude the occasional yarn purchase every now and then, but I have several sweaters' worth of yarn already and plenty of sock yarn to keep me busy for a while, so there really isn't a need. Although I know I will likely have to have a pair of socks going at all times as usual, I'd like to focus more on larger garments in the year ahead, specifically sweaters and lace. It's gotten to the point where I could probably go about three weeks wearing a pair of hand-knit socks every day without having to wash any, so my feet certainly aren't cold.

My final goal is to finish the WIPs that have been on the needles this year and will be on the needles going into next year: Shedir (the oldest WIP, on the needles since February), Icarus (cast on in August), and the mate to the first Bird in Hand mitten (cast on 12/14/07). Here's a peek at what's destined to be the first finished object of 2008:

I wish all of you a very happy, healthy, and productive 2008!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Jaywalker Salad, Anyone?

Thank you for your comments on Trellis. I'm glad that I can help some of you out by giving you my opinions on the pattern. I know there are many people out there who really like the sewing up and finishing of sweaters; I'm just not among them. I do want to add that the pattern makes for an adorable sweater, so I hope I didn't discourage anyone -- I just want you all to know what you're getting into! For what it's worth, I'm glad I knit it, because the reaction of baby Samuel's parents when I presented the sweater to them was priceless! I have no doubt that he'll be wearing it a lot once he gets big enough.

I'm getting pretty darn close to finishing the second Pea Pod sweater -- all that's left is the second sleeve, the collar, and the seaming -- but I did finish the final pair of socks for this year, pair number 39 of 2007. I returned to one of my old stand-bys:

Pattern: Jaywalker by Grumperina (September '05 Magknits)
Yarn: Knit Picks Felici (75% superwash merino, 25% nylon), colorway Arugula, two skeins
Needles: two 12" US 1 (2.5 mm) Addi Turbo circs
Started/Completed: December 18/December 30
Mods: lengthened the cuff by 1/4"

There's not much to say about the pattern -- it's easy, it looks great, it works so well with self-striping yarn, and it fits me perfectly. Simple and satisfying.

I do want to give my two cents on this yarn. I loved it. It's quite soft, but it feels like it will be quite durable as well. It's only slightly more expensive than my regular go-to sock yarn, and in my opinion it's well worth it. I'm hoping that in the new year Knit Picks will come out with some other colorways of the Felici; right now it's only available in striping colorways.

This pair did mark an important milestone for me: For the first time, I didn't worry about the stripes on both socks matching up.

In all honesty, this was probably due more to laziness than to "letting go," because the stripe sequence is quite long and I didn't feel like cutting and having a million ends to weave in.

As usual, as soon as the ends were woven in on the second sock, I cast on for a new one. You see, I made a trip to Knit One yesterday to buy some gift yarn, but I could not resist the allure of this. It's definitely a different knitting experience, but I'm enjoying it thus far.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Finished: Too Much Work for Such a Small Sweater

I certainly hope the recipient of this sweater gets a lot of wear out of it, because I will not be knitting this pattern ever again.

Pattern: Trellis by Britta Stolfus Rueschhoff (spring '05 Knitty)
Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton Ease (50% cotton, 50% acrylic), color 122/Taupe, two skeins (200 g/414 yds)
Needles: 24" US 6 (4.0 mm) Addi Turbo circs
Started/Completed: October 29/December 26
Mods: used a three-needle bind off (rather than grafting) to seam the shoulders
Recipient: baby Samuel, who made his debut last week

This sweater is adorable, but it was way too much work for such a small sweater -- maybe even too much for an adult-sized sweater.

The knitting itself was fairly straightforward but required a pretty high level of attention given the cabled patterning. I cabled without a cable needle with the exception of the center cable crosses (worked over five stitches), which certainly helped speed things along. While the yarn wasn't the most pleasurable to knit with, given its high cotton content, it worked well with the pattern and makes for an extremely baby-friendly garment. The buttons are a pearlized brown plastic -- neutral but not cheap looking, in my opinion.

For those of you who might be considering knitting this sweater, here are a few words on its construction: The sweater is knit in five pieces (back, two fronts, and two sleeves). The lower hems and button bands are knit in seed stitch, and the background stitches on the cabled portions are worked in reverse stockinette. The button band stitches are placed on a holder at the beginning of the neck shaping and are later picked up and knit in seed stitch to form the collar. The two pieces of the collar are then grafted together at the back of the neck and the entire length of the collar is sewn to the neck opening.

The collar is what gave me the most trouble. I couldn't find any resource -- online or in a book -- to help me graft seed stitch, so I had to wing it. It turned out okay to the untrained eye; a more perfectionistic knitter than I would have ripped it out and tried again until it was perfect. By the time I reached this stage of the sweater, however, I just wanted it done -- and I figure that in its location at the back of the neck, that particular seam is not going to be scrutinized. I then used a row of single crochet to attach the collar to the neck opening for some added stability and shape to the top of the sweater.

So, in spite of how cute this turned out, there are several reasons why I didn't like this sweater. You all know how much I dislike seaming. With this project, I discovered that I really don't like seaming reverse stockinette. I also didn't like the way the increases in the arms looked in reverse stockinette, and I didn't like trying to seam seed stitch. I didn't like how much finishing was involved for such a small garment. That said, the amount of time I spent finishing (seaming, weaving in ends, sewing on buttons) was much less than the time I'd spend on an adult sweater, and I do love how the sweater looks. The pattern was pretty clear and easy to follow, but I'd rather spend my time knitting something else -- especially something with less work to do once the knitting is done.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

It's That Time of Year Again

Tomorrow morning we're headed down to D.C. for Christmas with our longtime family friends, which means this weekend was time to whip up another hand-knit ornament. In the past, I've done a miniature sweater and sock. Here is this year's contribution (as you can see, we had a little fun with the photo shoot):

Using some leftover Knit Picks Sock Memories yarn (very old -- I think from my first Knit Picks order ever) and US 1/2.25 dpns, these took a whopping hour and half Friday night. A little fiddly because they're so small, but a satisfying knit nevertheless.

Here's another shot of the props for scale:

We'll be out of town (and away from the computer) until Wednesday. Merry Christmas to all of you celebrating, and happy winter to everyone!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Hurricane Holidays

Last night was the last meeting of the year for the Hurricane Knitters, and the holiday spirit was all around. First, Amy surprised us with some treats:

Sneaky quilter that she is, she poked around on Ravelry to find out everyone's favorite colors and then stitched us up some fabric-embelished mini moleskine notebooks. As if that wasn't enough, she also had a cute wintery tin for each of us filled with candy, stitch markers, and coiless safety pins. Ain't she sweet?

We also had a little White Elephant sock yarn swap. This is what I came home with, courtesy of blogless Dee:

I wish you were able to touch this yarn, a dreamy 80% merino/20% cashmere blend. I think it may be too precious to put on my feet, so this may be destined to become a Chevron Scarf.

As if this new yarn weren't enough, I came home this evening to find my sock club shipment waiting for me! This was the first time I hadn't peeked at the spoilers ahead of time, and I'm glad I didn't. This colorway was by far my favorite one of the whole year -- and it came with a gorgeous Cat Bordhi pattern. I don't want to ruin the surprise for anyone still waiting for this shipment, but for those of you who want to peak, you can see it in my Flickr photostream.

Tomorrow is my last day of work this year(!) and afterwards I have about a week and a half of knitting time to look forward to. Can't wait!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Finished: Swap Socks

Did you know how hard it is to take pictures of your own feet when you're wearing socks and standing on a tile floor? The things I'll do for an FO picture ...

Pattern: Child's First Sock in Shell Pattern from Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush
Yarn: Knit Picks Gloss (70% merino, 30% silk), colorway Woodland Sage, two skeins
Needles: two 12" US 1 (2.5 mm) Addi Turbo circs
Started/Completed: December 9/December 18
Mods: omitted one pattern repeat on the leg to ensure enough yarn; modified the toe (ended pattern on Row 3 to have 30 sts on each needle)

These are for my swap partner for the Vintage Socks Swap. The recipient's feet are longer than mine, and having knit these socks for myself I knew the leg runs really long, so I knit six repeats rather than seven on the leg. In the end I was fine on yardage, but I think it was probably a good move; the cuff is only 63 stitches around, and if these went any higher there might be some problems with fit around the calf. The leg measures about 8 inches, which is longer than the usual 7" leg I do for my standard sock pattern.

I just love this pattern, as always. It had been a while since I last knit it, but it only took about two rounds before I was able to put the pattern down and knit the stitch pattern from memory. It's a 10-row repeat, but if you do it for a while you'll find that it's really intuitive. I think this yarn was really well suited to the shell pattern as well; the sheen of the silk looks gorgeous in the curves.

Now I just hope my swap partner likes them as much as I do!

Monday, December 17, 2007

One Warm Hand

I "cheated" on Trellis all weekend and worked on nothing but my swap socks (downstairs) and my first Bird in Hand mitten (upstairs). By the time I was ready to go to bed last night, the right mitten was done (my apologies for the light quality in the photos that follow -- it was about 10 p.m., so any natural light we'd had yesterday was long gone.)

Front view ...

... and back

I'm going to hold off on the second mitten for the time being so that I can focus once again on Trellis. There really isn't all that much knitting left to do, and after indulging in a little knitting for myself I feel ready to get back to it.

I'm still not sure what project I'll be bringing to this month's meeting of the Hurricane Knitters, but I will be there with yarn to swap (see the Ravelry message board for more on this) starting at about 7 p.m. this Wednesday.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Bird in the Hand ...

Yesterday, in the middle of the last day of a very busy, very stressful week, I decided I needed a little pick-me-up, so I treated myself to a pattern that I wanted to knit as soon as I saw it: Kate Gilbert's Bird in Hand mittens. I couldn't wait to cast on as soon as I got home:

I'm using a skein leftover from The Mister's Seamless Hybrid and a skein left from my Central Park Hoodie. I really like the color combination. It's a little odd knitting with worsted weight yarn on sock needles (US 2/3 mm), but I think they will be nice and toasty when they're done.

I'm still working on Trellis -- back is done, as is the left front; right front has been cast on ...

and the swap socks are moving along nicely. We're in the middle of a nor'easter this weekend, so we're all holed up and I'm planning to knit the rest of the weekend!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

No Pain, No Gain

My hands ache after working on this, but it's so worth it.

This is the back of Trellis, which you may recall I tried once before with little success. There were two problems last time around: the wrong yarn and a definite lack of skill in reading charts. I'm much better with the charts now (all that lace helped), and for this go I'm using Cotton Ease. It's not the easiest on my hands while knitting, but it will be easy for the recipient's mom to care for. (The recipient, by the way, is the baby brother of our flower girl, who is due next month but who may be making his appearance earlier if he's anything like his big sisters!)

Lest you think I'm now spending all my knitting time working with yarn that makes me hurt, feast your eyes on this wool/silk wonder:

Swap socks -- recognize the pattern? This is knitting up superfast and supergorgeous. It's really a shame I have to give these away.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

FO Parade

The finishing has been fast and furious here the past couple of days, including some last minute knitting and some very last minute blocking yesterday afternoon in order to finish up gifts for my parents (and give the finished items to them last night at our family Hannukah party). I'll try to keep the commentary to a minimum and just give you the facts.

Pattern: Gentleman's Plain Winter Socks from Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush
Yarn: Knit Picks Essential (75% superwash wool, 25% nylon), colorway Navy, two skeins
Needles: two US 1 (2.5 mm) 12" Addi Turbo circs
Started/Completed: November 15/December 8
Recipient: My dad (who requested navy socks!)
Mods: my usual for this pattern -- grafting the toe rather than pulling the yarn through all the remaining toe stitches

Very straightforward, and would have been very fast to knit had I not picked up all the other projects in the middle of knitting these.

Pattern: Tube scarf (my own design)
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino (55% merino, 33% microfiber, 12% cashmere), color 340600, five skeins
Needles: US 7 (4.5 mm) 16" Addi Turbo circs
Started/Completed: December 25, 2006/December 7, 2007
Recipient: My mom

This scarf was knit in the round, mostly in stockinette, with a cabled panel on the "right" side. I designed an interwoven cable for one end and transitioned to 2x2 cables that gradually got longer (i.e., I increased the number of rows between cable crosses) as they moved toward the other end of the scarf. Here's a closeup of the two ends so you can see the effect:

I am not in any rush to knit a tube scarf again. They're incredibly warm and are aesthetically pleasing because you can't see the wrong side, but they also take a really long time to knit and eat up a lot of yarn. In hindsight, I probably had too many stitches around, and even though I used almost every bit of the five skeins of yarn, the finished scarf (before blocking) was a mere 46" long. I didn't have time to wet block, which is what I really wanted to do to maximize the length, but giving it a light spray of water and a good long steam managed to get it to a full 5 feet of length.

This last FO was an unplanned project that I cast on for late yesterday afternoon in anticipation of meeting our friends' newborn son today.

Pattern: Hat from the Pea Pod Baby Set (largest size) by Kate Gilbert
Yarn: Knit Picks Shine Sport (60% pima cotton, 40% modal), colorway Sky, less than one skein
Needles: US 5 (3.75 mm) bamboo dpns
Started/Completed: December 8/December 9

This picture was taken in the car on the way to meet baby Tyler, and the hat is still damp from washing (for some reason a spin in the dryer didn't work). It's way too big for him now, but I told Tyler's mom to throw it in the washer and dryer to get it to shrink a little bit, and it should fit better by the time he's big enough to wear his matching sweater.

So, now I'm all caught up and the holiday knitting is officially complete. I do want to thank all of you who gave me good tips on spinning and spinning resources. I'm definitely going to continue to explore this new fiber hobby, but I've also got a lot of baby knitting to do. I think I may sign up for the spinning workshop for the Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival in February (anyone care to join me?) by which time I hope to have completed many cute little things. And, if by then I decide I really like this spinning thing, a couple months will give me some good time to start a wheel fund!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Aptly Named

My little present to myself arrived today, and I couldn't wait to open it up and experiment a little. Because really, could you open up a package containing 8 oz. of beautiful natural fiber and a spindle decorated with sheep this cute and not play with it?

I soon figured out why it's called a drop spindle. The first time I tried to let it spin? THUNK. By the third go, I managed to get something resembling yarn (and I use the term loosely). Only about half of the section of fiber I was using really twisted and I couldn't seem to get the second half to thin out, so I ripped it off and let the section twist onto itself. Here's what I got:

I think I need a proper lesson in spindle spinning (or just plain spinning, period) before I waste any more of this fiber. Anyone know of a good spinning teacher in the Pittsburgh area?

I am pretty far behind on my holiday knitting, and it looks like I'll be needing every bit of Saturday to finish in time. The second sock for my dad is at least into the foot, but I've got a good 5 or 6 inches of foot and a toe to go, and I'm still only on the fourth skein (of five) of my mom's scarf. I hope you'll understand my cutting this post a little short -- and I hope I'll be able to post with not one but two FOs next time!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A Hannukah Miracle

Hannukah officially started at sundown this evening. We had a fairly low-key celebration, if you can call it that. We'd already agreed that we weren't going to really exchange gifts; The Mister was going to pay for my 2008 Rockin' Sock Club membership as both my Hannukah gift and my birthday present, and he knew he was getting a couple pairs of socks I'd finished earlier in the year as well as his Seamless Hybrid (which he got a little early). When I presented him with one of the pairs of socks, he had a little surprise for me. A wooly little surprise -- this guy:

Isn't he adorable? He's very soft, so I've decided he must be a merino sheep. I've named him Baaaahb (get it?), in an homage to everyone's favorite Ravelry mascot. (Strangely, he goes rather well with the little Hannukah gift I ordered for myself yesterday. I'm really not sure what came over me and caused me to click and order, although I think part of the blame lies with Jen, who kept talking about her research into spinning when the girls were here on Saturday.)

Now, as cute as this little lamb is, he's not the Hannukah miracle. Nope, it would be the other surprise that was awaiting me this evening, and part of it is what he's sitting on.

Thine eyes do not deceive you: That is indeed a skein of Dream in Color Smooshy, in a delectable colorway called Blue Lagoon. This photo has actually captured the color quite well -- it looks like a teal, but up close you can see the gentle gradations of greens and blues. It is so me. This came as part of prize package from Devorah (aka Mama Squid) for having the closest guess for the total mileage for the Squid on Wheels this year. She also included two delicious looking Jacques Torres chocolate bars and a fun NYC souvenir keychain. I had no idea what kind of yarn she'd select -- she only asked my fiber and color preferences. I have no idea how she knew I'd been coveting the Smooshy! Thank you, Mama Squid!

Just a reminder: Tomorrow is the first Wednesday of the month, which means knit night for the Hurricane Knitters. Come and join us!

ETA: Damn you, snow, cancelling our knit night!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Time Is Running Out

How on earth is it December already?! I really feel like I missed a month somewhere along the way. There is a lot of knitting left to do and not much time left in which to do it.

I spent most of last week making novelty yarn scarves for my office hallway sale. I was a little disappointed that only about three of them sold (leaving me with many more novelty yarn scarves than I'd like), but I was happy that I made a good chunk of change that's going to a good cause.

This week there are three projects that will take up my time. The first is the miniature sweaters (and socks) for ornaments to be sold in my coworker's gallery. Her holiday "open house" is this Saturday, so I've got to finish up as many as I can by Friday. As of this morning, there are six completed sweaters:

For some reason I can imagine the sweaters singing "Kumbaya"

I've completed only a few socks; something tells me that people will think pint-sized sweaters are a lot cuter than miniature socks.

I'm also trying to finish up the gifts for my parents. Although Hannukah starts this Tuesday night, we're not doing our family celebration until next Saturday night, so that buys me some extra time. I finished up the first sock for my father last night and cast on the second this morning. It's a basic stockinette, so I'm not worried about finishing. The real nail-biter is going to be the tube scarf for my mom. I worked on it for about four hours yesterday, when I had the girls over for an afternoon of knitting. It's about halfway done:

This will need a good blocking before it goes to her, and it will probably need a couple days to dry, which means that the knitting needs to be done by Thursday. There are two skeins left to be knit after the present one, so if I can manage to knit a skein's worth of yarn each night I'll be okay.

Of course, once I'm done with all the holiday stuff, there are all the babies to knit for. Two are due next month, four are due in March, and one is due in April. And then there's my aunt's sweater to knit (at least now I have the yarn for that). Oh, and a pair of socks for a swap to be knit this month and mailed out the first week of the year. It looks like it might be a while before I can cast on for me again -- I suppose Tangled Yoke will have to wait a bit!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Obligatory Knitting

Thank you for all your compliments on the Seamless Hybrid. I must confess that I think I'm prouder of it than I have been of any other knitting project I've completed; I caught myself looking at my husband -- well, at his sweater, anyway -- all throughout Thanksgiving dinner and petting him whenever he came near. The family and friends were much impressed, and my uncle even asked me if I would knit a sweater for my aunt -- the very same aunt who taught me to knit many, many years ago! That was a request to which I could not say no, so there will be some yarn acquisitions in the future. I'm thinking another EZ seamless sweater, perhaps a stranded yoked design. Any and all ideas are welcome.

We had a fairly quiet weekend and avoided all the malls and shopping areas on Black Friday. In fact, other than going to the supermarket, the only shopping we did all weekend was a trip to Bed Bath & Beyond for some much-needed items: a proper drying rack for faster blocking and a cover for our bathtub drain so I could finally use it to wash larger knitted items. I used both right away to finally wet block the Seamless Hybrid, and it was amazing how quickly it dried (not mention how nicely a proper blocking allowed the stitches to relax and even out). As you can see, the racks (I wound up buying three) are serving very nicely to help with my sock washing:

I did do a fair amount of knitting over the holiday weekend, though mostly for others. On Thanksgiving day, it was more of these:

Since then, I've been working on some items that might shock you if you're familiar with the types of things I normally knit.

This Friday is my office's second-annual hallway sale to benefit the United Way. Last year, most people brought in odds and ends they had around the house, and I brought in a bunch of novelty yarn scarves I'd knit for fun with no intended recipient in mind. People just went crazy for them! So this year, I decided to make good use of the freebies that were in the Stitch 'n Pitch goodie bags. I'm hoping people will shell out some big bucks for these, especially as it's for a good cause. The benefit for me? I'm finally moving all this novelty yarn out of the stash.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Finished: Seamless Hybrid

What better way to show my husband how thankful I am that he's in my life than by knitting him a sweater?

Pattern: Seamless Hybrid by Elizabeth Zimmermann (Knitting Without Tears)
Yarn: Cascade 220 (100% Peruvian highland wool), color 9465, five skeins, and color 8401, approximately 1/4 skein (for contrasting hem facings)
Needles: US 5 (3.75 mm) 32" circs, 16" circs, and dpns
Started/Completed: September 11/November 21
Recipient: The Mister

I am thrilled with how this sweater turned out. I finished it last night at Hurricane Knitters and promptly tried it on; the girls made me go to the ladies' room to look at it in the mirror, and I must admit that for a moment I was seriously tempted to keep it for myself. The moment passed, however, and The Mister was happy to have it to wear to Thanksgiving dinner this evening, where it was much admired by the rest of the family and friends who were there celebrating with us.

I started this sweater with a swatch using three different needle sizes and asked The Mister to pick the fabric he liked best. It ended up working out well, as he picked the needle size that just happened to work out for using the numbers EZ gives as her examples in KwoT -- a 40" chest size and a gauge of 5 sts/inch. It made for minimal math to complete the sweater, which was extremely helpful considering this was my first adult-sized, designed-to-fit EZ sweater. It was tricky enough to figure out how to get all the pieces to fit together (figuratively, of course) without worrying about my math skills.

What you can't see (because I was a little absent-minded and forgot to take any pictures) are the contrasting hem facings. I used some light gray Cascade left over from The Mister's Cambridge Jacket and followed Jared's directions, for the most part. I did make one modification, and that was to use the contrasting color for the increase row right before the purl turn row. This allows a little bit of the gray to show at the bottom hem and the cuffs, and I thinks this adds a little interest to an otherwise pretty neutral and plain sweater.

I think my favorite part of this sweater is the saddle shoulder. I opted to carry it along the back (so that it looks like one strip of fabric that's perpendicular to the rest of the body) instead of a third saddle in the middle back. The actual knitting of the saddles was a bit tricky, what with the circular needle holding the front and back stitches and a couple of dpns used to work the shoulder stitches back and forth. Tricky and awkward, yes, but not difficult. It was the one part of the sweater I was most worried about, but in the end it turned out perfectly.

I used a simple 2x2 rib for the collar, which thankfully did not need to be reknit. It's a tad bit snug going on, but it hugs the neck nicely, preventing any chilly air from getting in.

Overall, this project is a winner as far as we're both concerned. I loved this pattern and will definitely be knitting other versions of the EZ seamless sweater in the future. While on paper it looks like it took a long time to knit this, in reality it was a pretty fast knit; I was knitting several other projects at the same time (including a sweater for myself) and the appendicitis and subsequent hospitalization greatly cut into my knitting time. What really amazes me most is how little yarn, relatively speaking, I wound up using. I had started with seven skeins and started worrying it wouldn't be enough soon after I joined the second skein for the body. It's nice to know that I can knit the same sweater again and won't have to overestimate my yarn needs -- and I can knit myself one with some 220 I already have in the stash!

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving (if you were celebrating) and had as warm and cozy a day as we did!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Let the Fun Begin!

As of last night, the yoke of The Mister's Seamless Hybrid was complete. You know what this means, don't you?

Tonight I get to start the saddle shoulders! My numbers are a little off from EZ's, but I'm making it work and I'm having faith that all will work out. My (perhaps insanely ambitious) goal is to finish this up in the next couple of nights so that, following a steam block, The Mister can wear it to Thanksgiving dinner and show off my mad skillz to all my relatives -- among them the aunt who taught me to knit many, many years ago!

Regardless of whether or not I meet my goal, I promise that the next time you see this sweater it will be more interesting than a brown blob on the floor.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Malabrigo is My Weakness

Today The Mister was kind enough to take me to Natural Stitches, since I wasn't able to make it for the grand opening yesterday. The shop was very well stocked and everyone was very friendly; Martha greeted us when we came in and pointed The Mister in the direction of some comfy chairs at the front of the store. He waited patiently for me while I had a bit of a falling down in the Malabrigo aisle. I picked up a couple skeins of sock yarn and was slightly tempted by the wall of Cascade, but in the end I just couldn't resist the kettle-dyed colors of Uruguay.

This laceweight (in the colorway Stonechat) was the first to call to me. I think it will become a Leaf Lace Shawl or perhaps another Adamas. (By the way, if you click over to the Adamas pattern, does the shawl in the photo look familiar at all?)

My real undoing was the aisle containing many gorgeous colors of the worsted weight. In the end, I decided on a colorway called Dusty Olive.

Unfortunately the overcast sky and poor indoor lighting have prevented me from capturing the true beauty of this colorway -- in real life, it's a beautiful combination of a dusty rose and a deep olive with shades of chocolate brown. I bought six skeins, a real splurge for me, that will become a Sunrise Circle Jacket (pdf) provided I can get gauge. Of course, that's only for knitting after the long-awaited Tangled Yoke Cardigan.

The good news is that I should soon be ready to cast on for the TYC. Last night I "finished" the second sleeve of The Mister's Seamless Hybrid, so there's only about two or three inches left to knit on the body before I join all the parts and begin the interesting part. I've gotten to the point where all I want to knit is his sweater, so I'm anticipating another week or less is all I need (especially considering there's a long weekend coming up). If I'm really good and really productive, maybe he'll even get to wear it to Thanksgiving dinner!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Finished: Monbras (or is it Zekeys?)

Cross another project off my holiday knitting list:

Pattern: Monkey by Cookie A (winter '06 Knitty)
Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock (80% superwash wool, 20% nylon), colorway 101/Shadow, two skeins
Needles: two 12" US 1 (2.5 mm) Addi Turbo circs
Started/Completed: November 5/November 15
Mods: no purls in the stitch pattern, and I used a slip-stitch heel

Is it just me, or do these look rather
These are for my mother-in-law, who luckily has feet very nearly the exact same size as mine, which makes it very easy to knit socks for her (and even easier to model them for blog pictures -- don't worry, they'll be washed before she gets them).

Would you belive that this LLSS is the very first Lorna's I ever bought? It was an impulse eBay purchase about two years ago, and it had been sitting in the stash waiting for the right pattern ever since. It turned out to be perfect for this pattern, just so long as you don't look too hard at them while intoxicated.

There's not much to say about this pattern that I haven't already said. I think I've gotten the Monkey business out of my system for a while, but these definitely won't be my last pair.

As soon as these were finished I cast on for what I'm calling Very Boring Socks Indeed -- plain stockinette socks in navy blue, for my father, by request. Only for someone I love would I knit such a boring sock! At least it will go quickly -- and at least my father's feet aren't as long as my husband's.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Continuing the Trend

Thanks for all of your compliments on the CPH! I am resisting the urge to wear it every day, that's how much I love it. I definitely want to knit another one -- someday --in a larger size for more of a sweatshirt feel, but for now I'm very happy with a snug cardi.

After seeing the results of being faithful to one project, I decided to be good this weekend and work on some other gift knitting. First I finished the first of my mother-in-law's Monbras/Zekeys (thanks to Weezalana for those wacky names!). Then I focused on The Mister's long-languishing Seamless Hybrid. I spent several hours on Saturday watching some Netflixed DVDs and working on the second sleeve. Now both are approximately half done:

We're definitely getting close to the point where I join the sleeves and the body, and now that this is the only sweater I'm working on, I can give it my full attention.

Of course, there's a little bit of a distraction. Like these:

One of my coworkers (the same one for whom I knit a sweater earlier in the year) recently opened a gallery downtown where she sells her self-designed jewelry along with artwork and other hand-made items, and she asked me to knit some things for her to sell. With all the holiday knitting I've been doing, I couldn't really commit to any big projects, so she asked me to do some ornaments. Everything you see here will fit in the palm of your hand, and all were knit on 2.25 mm needles (Knit Picks Harmony dpns, to be exact). The red and green sock is worked over 24 stitches, the purply one over 18. These are fast, satisfying, and (I hope) popular with her customers. The best part? Well, they use up some of my huge bag of sock yarn scraps and they really help assuage the urge to cast on a new project!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Finished: Central Park Hoodie

I really wanted to do an outdoor photo shoot for this FO, but I couldn't wait any longer. You'll just have to deal with my parents' living room as the backdrop.

Pattern: Central Park Hoodie by Heather Lodinsky (Knitscene, fall 2006)
Size: 36"
Yarn: Cascade 220 Heathers (100% Peruvian highland wool), color 9461/Lime Heather, five skeins (including swatch and seaming)
Needles: US 8 (5 mm) and US 6 (4 mm) Addi Turbo circs
Started/Completed: September 5/November 6

I am absolutely in love with this sweater. I think it says a lot about a pattern that as soon as I was finished I wanted to knit it again.

There are several things I'd change if I knit this sweater again, however. The first thing would be to knit the next larger size. I knew that others who'd knit this sweater had found it to run small, but I wanted a fitted sweater, so I knit my normal size. It fits perfectly, for the most part, but as you can see in the photo below, the lower arms are a little snug. I have the pull the sleeves on, but once they're on, they're not uncomfortable. I wore this sweater all day and didn't really notice. Still, it would be nice to be able to wear a looser shirt underneath the sweater and to have a little more room.

The other thing I'd change is the decreases on the hood. It bothers me that they're not centered, and that's a little apparent because of the fact that I grafted the hood stitches instead of binding off and seaming it. Next time, I'll adjust the decreases so that they are actually in the center of the hood.

I used almost every bit of five skeins of Cascade, which was really quite amazing, in my opinion. That included a swatch (which thankfully gave me spot-on gauge on the first attempt) and yarn for seaming; there's a little left over for repairs or reinforcement if needed in the future. Once again, it proved to be the perfect yarn -- great color, great yardage, great stitch definition. I still have five more skeins of this same color in my stash, along with five skeins of a shocking pink that was in the same WEBS order.

I used six buttons, all sewn on with sewing thread and then covered with a bit of yarn (somehow I must've had the subconscious foresight to buy buttons with extra-large holes).

This sweater marks an important step in my sweater-knitting career: With this sweater, I officially conquered my fear of the set-in sleeve. These sleeves were the easiest to sew in of all the sweaters I've knit so far, but getting them in perfectly on the first try was a huge confidence boost. I swear that from this moment forward, I will not be scared of sweaters with set-in sleeves!

Now that this is finished, I will turn my attention to The Mister's sweater, which has been languishing for quite some time. It might not be as fun a knit as the CPH, but at least there will be no seaming to deal with at the end. And finishing his sweater means I'll allow myself to cast on for the next sweater for me!

Thursday, November 08, 2007


First things first: Jenn and I both wore our recently completed Central Park Hoodies to the meeting of the Hurricane Knitters last night, and we took the requisite shot of each other:

We had our usual good time, and towards the end of the evening we got a bit punchy. But it was just what I needed to cheer me up after a stressful day at work. What also helped were the packages waiting for me at home.

Remember the test knitting I did back when I was fresh out of the hospital? Well the designer sent me a package of goodies as a thank you. There was a gorgeous skein of yarn, some edible treats (pumpkin seeds and hot cider mix), and a beautiful wood inlay box that will serve perfectly to hold these gorgeous stitch markers:

My less-than-stellar photography skills have failed to capture the real color of the beads -- a beautiful indigo with an underlying silvery sparkle.

The other package was a shipment from Knit Picks. The original reason for the order was to get the book (you know, since I had the stitch markers all ready) and some navy sock yarn for the socks my father requested. Then I decided I really wanted to try some Felici, and then I noticed that there was some Shine Sport on clearance (for less than $10, it'll make another Pea Pod set!). At that point I was so close to the free shipping, I threw in a skein of Telemark with no particular project in mind. I'm sure I can find some use for it -- suggestions, anyone?

I got a surprise package in the mail today, from Miriam. Inside was my Adamas, which she'd borrowed to photograph. As a thank you, she sent me two jars of homemade jam. Yummy! Thanks, Mim!

Now that the CPH is done (and I promise a full write-up with photos will be up in the next day or two), I'm not feeling the same sense of urgency to knit any particular project. I resurrected a very old UFO for knit night last night; I'm hoping to have it finished for my mom before it's a full year old. I did work a little on The Mister's sweater when I got home last night, but I'll spare you the picture of dark brown stockinette. Then there are the socks I started for my mother-in-law:

More no-purl Monkeys, in Lorna's Laces. Would you believe this is the very first Lorna's I ever bought? It's been living in the stash for a couple years now; I thought it was about time I used it.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

'Tis Done

My Central Park Hoodie is finished! Unfortunately, it's a tad bit tight, especially in the lower arms, so I'm going to have to try some serious blocking. I'm also sorry to tell you that you're going to have to wait a couple days to see it; this sweater really deserves a proper photo shoot, and these days all the natural light is during the day when I'm at work. So I'll have to wait until Saturday for the full write-up.

For those of you who can't wait to see the finished sweater, I'll be giving a little preview of it tonight at the meeting of the Hurricane Knitters, Waterworks Barnes & Noble, 7 p.m. Hope to see you there!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Loose Ends

The saga of my Central Park Hoodie continues ...

On Saturday, I convinced The Mister to let me make a stop at Parker Button on the South Side so I could find the perfect fasteners for my sweater. I'd pretty much decided to go with toggles for my closures -- until I discovered that the only toggles to be had were pretty much hideous. So, buttons it was. Here are the ones I picked out:

They're a little on the square side, which I really like, and what you can't see from the picture is that they're pretty three-dimensional. I bought all seven buttons that were left in the box, although there will only be six on the sweater.

Last night I finished the second button band, so tonight the Adventures in Seaming begin!

In other news, I won a blog contest! Devorah and her family are avid bikers, and months ago she held a contest in which all entrants had to guess how many miles they would log on their bikes by October 31. I wound up being a mere four miles off, so she will be sending me some sock yarn and some chocolate for my lucky guess. I somehow managed to not check my e-mail at all over the weekend, so it was a nice surprise when I checked this morning.

Other knitting news? I know this will a huge shocker (can you sense the sarcasm in my voice?), but I started another sock. It's the first of a pair of Monkeys for my mother-in-law for the holidays. Not much is done other than a cuff, so I won't bore you with a picture of ribbing.

Sorry for the short post; it's been all CPH all the time here, and I am determined not to show you another picture of the darn thing until it's done! Let the seaming commence!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Finished: Lenore, and Details on My Sock Obsession

Lookie here! I finally managed to finish a pair of STR sock club socks before Pat!

Pattern: Lenore by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (October 2007 Rockin' Sock Club shipment)
Yarn: Socks That Rock lightweight (100% superwash merino), colorway Lenore, one skein
Needles: one 32" US 1 (2.5 mm) Knit Picks circular
Started/Completed: October 26/November 4

I absolutely love these socks, even though they're a bit on the snug side (they're 60 stitches around as opposed to my standard 64). This was the first shipment in the sock club where I loved both the yarn and the pattern. It was easy and fast, and I really only had to pay attention to the first 22 rows.

Did I mention that I re-upped for next year for the sock club? I wasn't going to -- not because I didn't want to, but in an effort to save some more money -- but then The Mister offered to get me my membership as my Hannukah/birthday gift. You can imagine how quickly I said yes.

As long as we're discussing socks, Amy tagged me for a socky meme, so here goes:

1. What’s your favorite sock yarn? (please note that the word “yarn” is singular. Just pick one. I know it’s hard.)

Thanks to the sock club, I'm going to have to say Socks That Rock. It's soft, it holds up well (or it has so far), and the colorways are always gorgeous.

2. What’s your favorite type and brand of sock needle?

My most-loved needles are my 12" US 1 (2.5 mm) Addi Turbo circulars. I've used them so much, the silver finish has worn off in several places. Lately, though, I've been quite enamored of my 32" US 1 Knit Picks circular for magic loop.

3. Do you knit your socks toe up, cuff down or sideways?

Most of the time cuff down. I see the appeal of knitting toe up to maximize yarn usage, but the cuff is never comfortable and the socks never fit quite as well as cuff-down socks.

4. Do you knit both socks at once or just one at a time?

One at a time. I knit one pair both socks at once and hated how un-portable they were and how much time I spent detangling the yarn.

5. What’s your favorite toe and why?

Just the standard wedge/wide toe, for the simple reason that it fits my toes the best.

6. Favorite heel?

I'm a heel flap and gusset kind of girl. It may take longer than a short-row heel, but it fits oh so nicely.

7. Do you prefer plain or patterned socks?

Depends on the yarn. For a really busy variegated yarn, a simple stockinette is usually my preferred pattern. But patterned socks can be such fun to knit, as long as the colorway doesn't compete with the pattern.

8. Who do you knit the most socks for?

I'll admit it: I'm a selfish sock knitter. Most of the socks I knit are for me. But I knit a fair amount for The Mister as well.

9. Do you darn your socks? If not, what do you do with them?

So far, not yet. I've only had one pair wear out thus far, and I just haven't gotten around to darning the holes yet.

10. Do you only wear handknit socks?

In the winter, mostly. It does depend on what type of shoes I'll be wearing -- handknit socks just don't go well with tennis shoes. Considering how many socks I've knit in the past year, I'm hopeful that this winter I'll be able to wear handknit socks pretty much any day I want to.

Bonus Question: What pattern, if any, is your basic “I-just-need-a-pair-of-socks” sock pattern based on? Do you keep it written down or memorized?

Although it's almost identical to the Yarn Harlot's basic sock recipe, I perfected my own standard stockinette pattern way before I read Knitting Rules. Mine is 64 stitches, all stockinette with a 2x2 ribbed cuff and a wide toe. Easy peasy and fits my foot perfectly.

I'm sure this has worked its way around to most of the sock knitters I know by now, so if you want to do this meme and haven't yet, consider yourself tagged! Just leave me a comment about it so I can read your responses!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Alright, Already!

You all gave me a hard time*, so I put down the baby sweater and got back to work on the CPH. And do you know what this is?

It's a nearly complete hood. I'm hoping to finish it tonight, which will leave only button bands and seaming. There's still one major decision to make: button or toggles? What do you think?

It's still supposed to be pretty chilly tomorrow (and my office is still frigid), so guess what I'm wearing for the first time?

*You know I'm only kidding, right? I actually do appreciate the kick in the pants I needed to finish this sweater. My love for it has come back to me and I'm actually even looking forward to seaming it now.