Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Sneak Preview

I finished my aunt's sweater last night, in a mad flurry of excited knitting. It fits me perfectly; according to my uncle's measurements, we're the same size, so it should fit her as well. Right now the sweater is soaking in a tub of cool water and will soon be smoothed out on a drying rack to block. I think this garment is special enough to merit a real photo shoot (in actual daylight!), so you'll have to wait a couple days for it to dry before you get all the gorgeous shots. In the meantime, I hope you'll settle for a couple of pre-blocking shots.

The stranded portion of this sweater really worked out well; I almost wish I could keep this sweater for myself because of how warm the yoke is!

Tonight I am going to start on the next baby sweater -- Elizabeth Zimmermann's so-called February Sweater from Knitter's Almanac. Considering how quickly this latest sweater knit up, I have feeling this baby garment is going to be a breeze!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Let the Fun Part Begin

I have exciting news: The Big Gray Tube (tm) is no more! Yesterday I finally reached the point where I could join the body and the sleeves, and from there it was only a handful of rows until I could start the really exciting part.

The yoke is moving along nicely, partly because at this point it's so addicting that I can't put it down. You know how it is, right? You just can't wait to see how the next row will look.

I'm not doing anything ground-shattering with the pattern, I'm just using EZ's design in Knitting Without Tears. I like it a lot, though.

I have about another inch before the first of three decrease rounds. This sweater is going to see a lot of action this week, not only because I'm anxious to finish it, but also because The Mister is out of town for work again this week. That means more knitting time (because there's less dinner-cooking time, laundry-doing time, cleaning-up-after-the-husband time, etc.). I'd much rather have him around, but knitting is a reasonable substitute when necessary.

Do you mind if I take a moment to gush about said husband? This afternoon I sent him out to get some more rock salt (the lower half of our driveway has been a solid sheet of ice from the snowstorm the other day), and I decided to take advantage of having a free afternoon to make dinner for later in the week. I didn't have any white wine in the house, which I needed for the recipe, so I asked him to pick up some of that as well. This is what he came home with:

Adorable, no? I just hope it doesn't taste like wet sheep!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Me and My Perfectionism

Ah, you all know me so well. Most of you said (more or less) that I should just suck it up and knit a third sock.

I waffled on this for a while. One part of me really didn't want to have to knit another one if I could get away with it. I thought about washing the socks that were already done to see if they'd even out. I even thought about overdyeing them -- anything to get out of knitting with more blindingly yellow super-thin sock yarn.

In the end, though, I just couldn't do it. I couldn't bear the idea of giving a good friend a pair of socks that I knew to be a mismatch. I checked the remaining skein of yarn I had in the stash, and it matched one that I'd already used. So, I cast on. The good news is that I have plenty of time (two and a half weeks) to finish it, not that I plan on taking that long. And, when it's done, I'll have most of that garish yarn out of the stash for good. I'm still not sure what to do with the odd sock out, though.

In any case, my brighter-than-bright yellow sock and I will be at the Waterworks Barnes & Noble tonight for the second February meeting of the Hurricane Knitters. Hope to see you there!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Have You Seen My Mojo?

I'm not sure why it is, but lately I haven't been feeling like blogging. It's not like I haven't been knitting, it's just that I haven't felt like I've had much to say. Part of it might have to do with the fact that we've been spending a lot of time cleaning up the house to get it ready to show once it goes on the market. This weekend I filled two small duffel bags with stash yarn that is going to live at my parents' for the time being. It's not easy to say good-bye to my beloved stash, even if I can visit it any time. Rest assured I'm not moving all my stash out; there's still an ample selection, including yarn for the remaining baby sweaters I've got to knit. With less around to tempt me, I'm more likely to knit with what I've got, right?

Here's the extent of my knitting progress the last few days. I am so done with yellow for a while!

Pattern: Garter Rib from Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch
Yarn: Dale of Norway Baby Ull (100% superwash wool), color 2106, two skeins
Needles: Knit Picks Harmony dpns, US 1 (2.25 mm)
Started/Completed: February 11/February 17

Pattern: modified Baby Ribs (used Garter Rib stitch pattern)
Yarn: Dale of Norway Baby Ull (100% superwash wool), color 2106, leftovers from adult socks
Needles: Knit Picks Harmony dpns, US 1 (2.25 mm)
Started/Completed: February 17/February 18

As I've mentioned before, these matching socks are for a mother and daughter. I made the adult socks anklets in part because I think that's more the recipient's taste and in part because this yarn is so thin that they were taking long enough as it was!

It was only this evening, when I set the socks down to take the pictures, that I discovered that I apparently used skeins from different dyelots. I don't think the difference is too horrible, but if you look in the shots above you'll notice that one sock is more vibrant than the other in each pair. I think I do have another skein of this yarn that is bound to match one of the two dyelots, so I could knit two new socks if need be, but what do you all think? These socks are for a non-knitter (who may or may not know what a dyelot is) and a baby who will shortly outgrow them. Do you think it's worth it, or do I go with what I've got?

(My apologies for the horrid pictures in this post. The Mister is passed out nearby with a horrible headache, so I didn't want to turn on a ton of lights. It's only a few more weeks until the natural light comes back, and I promise I'll do my best to make this blog more interesting to look at then.)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A (Sort of) Snow Day

You may have heard that we had a bit of a snowstorm yesterday. In spite of the fact that nearly all of the local school districts closed for the day, I still had to go to work. It was not fun getting in, and I was not looking forward to the trip home. Just in case, I'd packed an overnight bag and planned to detour to my parents' house if the roads were really bad (they live only about a mile from my office). Fortunately, the head of my office had the foresight to let us leave work early, by which time traffic wasn't too bad and the roads were passable. I made it home by about 3 p.m., leaving me plenty of time to shovel the driveway, shower (shoveling proved to be quite a workout!), do two loads of laundry, and get in plenty of knitting time!

The triplets' Baby Surprise Jackets are now all washed, blocked, and ready to go. I tried to do a little embroidery on the girl's jacket, but it looked positively horrible -- garter stitch is just not conducive to this kind of embellishment. I came up with this simple solution instead:

Those are just a couple of buttons from my collection of odds and ends, sewn to the back of the neck. The jackets now all look the same (more or less) from the front, but the buttons will provide a little extra hint to anyone dressing the kids should they miss the button placement on the front.

Since finishing my Salish Sea Socks, I've been working on what may be the brightest socks ever.

These are a pair of simple Garter Rib anklets for a friend who is a new mom. I'm planning these as well as matching pair of baby socks in time for her baby shower in March. I'm extremely glad this friend has feet that are shorter than mine, because this yarn -- Dale Baby Ull -- is incredibly thin. I'm getting about 12 rows to the inch with my standard sock needles (2.5 mm Addi Turbos). It will all be worth it, however, because I know she will be thrilled to finally get her yellow socks!

Most of my knitting time last night was on the sleeve for The Big Gray Tube (tm). I'm hoping to finish it tonight; only 4 1/2 inches to go!

(Seriously, could knitting get any more boring than gray stockinette?)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Finished: Salish Sea Socks

Pattern: Salish Sea Socks by Cat Bordhi (December 2007 Rockin' Sock Club shipment)
Yarn: Socks That Rock mediumweight (100% superwash merino), colorway Bella Coola/Nuxalk, one skein
Needles: one 32" US 1 (2.5 mm) Knit Picks circular, worked magic loop
Started/Completed: January 30/February 10
Mods: none

These were my first foray into the world of Cat Bordhi -- a journey that I found to be highly entertaining. These socks weren't hard to knit, so to speak, but they were challenging in that they are not constructed in the "normal" sock way and thus require a fair amount of attention. They are started at the toe with only a small number of stitches, which are increased in a spiral to create a rounded toe. The arch expansion (which is done instead of gusset increases) is achieved through the wavy lace pattern on the instep.

The cuff of the sock is worked in a predominantly garter stitch pattern. It has no negative ease but doesn't seem to fall down (though I've yet to wear these for more than a minute or two).

Here is a close-up shot of the toes. They look very interesting, but at the moment they feel a little funny. I have a feeling a nice soak and block will smooth them out.

The Mister is out of town again for a few days this week, and I plan on using the time alone to work through as much of the stash as possible (especially because a good portion of the stash will soon be going to live at my parents'). First on the agenda this evening is to do a little embroidery on the last of the three BSJs and then block them all, because I heard from my mother-in-law earlier in the evening that the triplets have been born!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

How I Did

I think I did pretty well yesterday at the festival; for the most part, I stuck to my plan to buy only yarns that I couldn't get locally. All told, I got a lot of yarn for my money. Wanna see? Picture-heavy post follows ...

First up, yarn I technically could get locally, but I got it at a better price:

Two skeins of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, in the colorway Vera.

This next yarn drew me in because of the yardage for the price -- 400 yard for $12:

This is called Aussi Sock. It's 90% superwash Aussi merino, 10% nylon, and the colorway is called Faded Valentine.

This yarn I looked at, considered buying, and then walked away. But I came back about 10 minutes later to buy it because I kept thinking about it.

100% superwash merino, hand-dyed sock yarn from Knitting Notions. The colorway is called Hydrangea. I'm going to use these two skeins (approximately 840 yards) for a shawl.

This last batch of yarn was the real steal. It was from the booth from the Otter Creek Store (which is now closed) and was a steal at 8 skeins for $40.

This is all Cascade 220 Heathers, destined to be a seamless yoked (stranded) Elizabeth Zimmermann sweater for me, but not for a while.

Although the shopping was fun, the real highlight of the day was the beginning spinning class. I had great fun and kind of got the hang of the wheel. Here are my first handspun yarns!

This is a two-ply yarn from the 100% wool batt that we started with. The instructor told us after the fact that this wool was probably the hardest things to spin.

This is a two ply from a wool-alpaca roving. I was especially pleased to discover it was well balanced when pulled off the niddy-noddy.

This singles yarn was spun from alpaca pencil roving. It's definitely the softest of the bunch, and it was far and away the easiest to spin.

So, what's the verdict on the spinning? I won't be buying a spinning wheel -- yet. But as soon as we buy and move into a new house, and I've saved up a bit, a Lendrum Original single treadle is going to be mine!

Friday, February 08, 2008

The Game Plan

Tomorrow is the annual Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival. I am taking the beginning spinning class in the afternoon, so I am going to try to go early to do some browsing, and perhaps a little shopping, in the vendors' area. I am going to do my best to leave without too many new acquisitions because 1) I am trying to knit down the stash, as it has started to overgrow my knitting area; 2) we are putting our house on the market (eek!) in about two weeks and we have to do some serious decluttering; and 3) I am trying to save money for the new house (which we still have yet to find). I am going to be restricting myself to items that I cannot get at an LYS and perhaps a pattern or two. I'll be sure to show you just how well I do at keeping to this plan (or not) later in the weekend.

On a completely unrelated note, I had a very nice surprise waiting for me when I got home from work yesterday. You may remember these socks that I knit for a sock swap recently. As it turns out, my downstream swap pal was going through a bit of a rough time when my package arrived at her door, and she was so thankful for that little bit of happiness that she sent me a package of goodies in return -- some hand cream, a pair of bamboo needles, a novel called (appropriately enough) Knitting, and some other trinkets. The real star, however, was this:

Cherry Tree Hill Supersock DK in a colorway called Monet. Doesn't this just scream spring? I may need to knit this up right away to fend off the winter blues.

Not much exciting in my knitting world. I started a sleeve to go along with The Big Gray Tube (TM) at knit night on Wednesday and promptly messed up the increases -- er, I mean, integrated a design feature into the increases. I should have a finished pair of socks to show you before the weekend is out, and then I must cast on for the next baby sweater. The Pea Pod cardigan is to be delivered on Sunday!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


Since the excitement of finishing the Bird in Hand mittens (and thank you for all of your compliments, by the way!), my knitting has been decidedly boring. The most exciting thing I've knit in the past few days is the first Salish Sea Sock (my first Cat Bordhi attempt). I finished the really exciting part -- the patterning on the instep that also magically creates the arch expansion -- on Friday, so the knitting on this sock the past several days has been nothing more than working the heel flap and the pattern on the leg.

I was skeptical of the instructions, but the sock does fit remarkably well. The second sock is started, but it's just a toe at this point. Even more boring than a footless sock.

I spent the car rides to and from Cleveland this past weekend working on the Chevron Scarf, which is fun because of the colors, but, with only one row of patterning out of every four, it doesn't exactly make for a stimulating knit. (I also discovered that I have a horrible inability to count to eight, which stunted my progress several times.) It's now approximately two feel long and I appear to be about halfway through the first skeins of yarn.

The most boring knit of all is probably the sweater for my aunt or, as I like to call it, The Big Gray Tube. I love stockinette in the round because I can knit quickly without looking (meaning great TV- or movie-watching knitting), but I'm stuck in that stockinette black hole where you knit and knit and knit and it never gets any bigger.

Fortunately, I know of one thing that is decidedly not boring -- the first-Wednesday-of-the-month meeting of the Hurricane Knitters, tomorrow night starting at 7 p.m. at the Waterworks Barnes & Noble. I'll be there with one of these boring projects, and I hope to see you there!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

They're Not Oven Mitts

They took forever to dry and then had to wait a couple of days for a natural light photo shoot, but here they are!

Pattern: Bird in Hand by Kate Gilbert
Yarn: Cascade 220, color 4002 (MC), one skein, and Cascade 220 Heathers, color 9461 (CC), approximately half a skein
Needles: two 16" US 2 (2.75 mm) Addi Turbo circs and US 2 dpns for thumb
Started/Completed: December 14, 2007/January 29, 2008
Mods: none

I bought this pattern on a whim after a rough couple of days at work when I decided I deserved a little treat. I was so excited to knit it that I cast on right away (on a Friday evening) and finished the first mitten before the weekend was over. Then it took about a month before I cast on the second mitten; I have no good excuse for why that is.

There are a number of issues with these mittens, none of which has to do with the pattern (which is expertly written and well worth the price!). To begin with, they're a little too big. I've got probably an inch of extra space at the top of the hand and maybe a half inch of space at the top of the thumb. That doesn't bother me so much; I've had yet to find a pair of store-bought mittens or gloves that aren't long on me. They are rather loose around the wrists, which is unfortunate, because I love the patterned band and the picot edging (the braid is pretty too, but it was a major PITA to do). This is an instance when ribbing would have been really helpful. The mittens stay on fine if I put them on before putting on my coat, but, as we discovered when I did just that before taking these pictures, that also prevents me from being able to zip myself up.

The other issue is that my stranded work was not so great with these. It's passable on the underside of the mitten (as you see on the right in the photo above), but the tops are definitely lumpy and the thumbs pucker. I did try to keep my tension as even as I could and the floats as loose as possible, but I think it was a combination of the needles and yarn that did me in. I really felt like I was struggling with the circs on these, so perhaps I was pulling tighter than I should have been as a result. Clearly part of the issue as well was working with worsted weight yarn on what are essentially sock needles.

All those problems aside, I'm in love with these mittens and want to show them off to everyone I see. I may very well knit this pattern again, although next time I'll probably use dpns for the whole thing and knit a smaller size and/or use a lighter yarn. I'll also omit the braid next time. It's a nice touch, but it was murder on my hands.

By the way, do the colors look familiar to you? If they do, it's probably because these were knit entirely with stash yarn -- the brown was the last skein from the yarn for the Seamless Hybrid and the green is the same yarn I used for my CPH. It's nice to have handknits that coordinate, isn't it?

We're off for a quick trip to Cleveland in about half an hour. I'm taking my Chevron Scarf for my car knitting, as it hasn't seen much attention lately. Have a great weekend!