Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sleepy Doormouse

I finished some more sock yarn! It started life as this fiber, another Dyeing Arts Dazzling Duo (two strips of superwash merino in complimentary colorways), purchased from the Loopy Ewe. This one is called Sleepy Doormouse.

The two colorway thing already decided the number of plies for me (I love not having to plan what to do with a yarn once in a while!), so I just sat down and spun. I ended up with approximately 400 yards of two-ply fingering weight.

This is probably my most even two-ply yarn to date; keeping my singles even was something I was really focusing on while spinning this fiber.

I'm excited to see how this yarn knits up into socks -- eventually. First I've got to finish some very boring man socks.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Post-Turkey Yarn

Yesterday was what is known in the United States as "Black Friday," or the day the Christmas shopping season officially kicks off with big sales. In years past, I have braved the crowds to find some good deals, but this year the only sale I made it to was the grand reopening sale at Bloomin Yarns. I went with a specific mission: find yarn for the Climbing Yarns Pullover and the Welt and Rib Raglan, both from the winter 2008 Interweave Knits. I was successful!

First, for the Climbing Vines Pullover, I picked up some Queensland Kathmandu Aran in a lovely shade of lavender. I tried really hard to pick something other than blue or green, my usual color selections. I was deciding between this shade and a dusty pink, but this won out because there weren't enough skeins of the pink in stock. I think I like this better anyway.

I picked this blue/teal shade, called Kingfisher, for Welt and Rib. I'm hoping this sweater will replace what has been my favorite store-bought sweater, a felted wool turtleneck, which is unfortunately starting to develop holes and pull apart at the seams.

I'm anxious to start one or both of these sweaters, but they will have to wait, because I finally cast on for my Ivy League Vest this afternoon! I decided to go with the smaller needle and larger size, so please keep your fingers crossed that the math will work out for me!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

In the Nick of Time

From fiber ...

to yarn ...

to socks!

Pattern: my basic stockinette recipe, with 2x2 ribbed cuffs and eye of partridge heels
Yarn: my handspun, 3-ply superfine merino from All Spun Up
Needles: two 12" US 1 (2.5 mm) Addi Turbo circs
Started/Completed: November 13/November 25

There really is no greater pleasure than knitting with your own handspun. I'm looking forward to repeating the experience as many times as possible -- including with the leftovers of this yarn, which are enough to make quite a few baby socks.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Warm Head

Cross another holiday gift off the list!

Pattern: Koolhaas by Jared Flood, Interweave Knits holiday 2007 and Knitting Daily pattern store (link)
Yarn: Malabrigo Merino Worsted, colorway Verdes, one skein
Needles: US 6 (4.0 mm) and US 8 (5.0 mm) Addi Turbo circs
Started/Completed: November 10/November 13
Recipient: my brother-in-law's girlfriend
Mods: none

This was one of those patterns I'd long been wanting to knit, and after kicking myself for months for not buying the IK holiday issue last year, I finally decided to just buy the darn pattern from the Knitting Daily pattern store. It was well worth it, if you ask me.

This hat was a delight to knit and only took as long as it did because I had some difficulties in reading the pattern (entirely due to user error, not the quality of the pattern). This was my work knitting, too, meaning I only knit on it about two hours each day. I didn't have any smaller circs in the sizes required, so I magic looped the whole thing and that worked just fine.

I think my favorite part of this hat is the way the decreases spiral up to the top, which isn't shown in any of the pattern photos.

Your eyes do not deceive you; this Malabrigo is indeed the same colorway as my Foliage. I thought it would be overkill to make another winter accessory for myself, so I used this second skein in my stash as a gift for my brother-in-law's girlfriend, on whom I think it will look spectacular. I have a couple other shades still in my stash, though, that are contenders to become a Koolhaas for myself!

I thought this was my last holiday knitting project, but it occurred to me after finishing it up that I didn't knit anything for my brother-in-law. The Mister suggested that he'd probably like some socks -- which figures, because he's got the biggest feet among all the men I knit for (excluding my brother, who thankfully will not wear handknit socks). I think some ankle socks may be in order.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Today I have some handspun yarn pr0n for you. It was finished about a week ago, but the whole time change has messed with my ability to get any natural light until the weekend, so it had to wait a while for its photo shoot.

This yarn started life as a 60% merino/40% bamboo blend dyed by Kristin at All Spun Up (my favorite fiber pusher).

Because of the shine of the bamboo and the way it took up the dye differently, leaving that beautiful silvery effect, I knew I wanted to spin this into a laceweight yarn. I discovered that while it seems to take as long to spin the singles as it does for, say, a three-ply sock yarn, it takes forever to ply. I spent several days' worth of spinning sessions just plying. The last day, I was at my wheel for a total of more than four hours! In the end it was worth it, though, because I got a gorgeously shiny yarn with the nice tight twist I like.

Starting with 4.2 ounces of fiber, I yielded approximately 625 yards of two-ply laceweight (about 27 wpi). I was a bit worried about how the finished yarn would look, because the singles had some noticeable runs of a burnt orange shade that I wasn't too fond of, but everything blended together in the plying process. The finished yarn reminds me of chocolate-covered berries.

This yarn clearly wants to be knit into something lacy that will show off its shine to full effect. I'm thinking perhaps Waves of Grain from the most recent Knitty; I have some silver-lined beads that I think would be a perfect match.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

No More Secrets

At long last I can reveal some super-secret knitting I did over the summer.

Pattern: Baby Surprise Jacket by Elizabeth Zimmermann
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash Handpaints (100% superwash wool), colorways Arctic Ice and Spring Meadow, approximately 1.5 skeins each
Needles: US 5 (3.75 mm) Addi Turbo circs
Started/Completed: August 15/September 10
Recipients: "Luke" and "Leia," Jen's newborn twins

When Jen announced to us that she was expecting a boy and a girl, I knew I wanted to make coordinating sweaters as a gift for them. The BSJ has treated me well before, so it didn't take me long to settle on it as my pattern. My idea was to choose gender-neutral colors so that either sweater could be worn by either baby. The only thing standing in the way of making the jackets truly interchangeable was the placement of the buttons. So I eliminated the buttons altogether.

Instead of buttons, I used applied i-cord around the entire border of each sweater (including the cuffs) using the other color of yarn. It was a bit slow going at first, but I love how it turned out!

I must say a few words about this yarn, because it made for a truly wonderful knitting experience. Everything that there is to love about classic Cascade 220 is true of this yarn. Wonderful yardage, great hand, consistent quality, excellent stitch definition, and a great price point. I was planning to do a regular superwash when I was pointed in the direction of this gorgeous handpainted variation. The variegation behaves -- and I mean really behaves. Absolutely no pooling or flashing to be seen. I couldn't be happier.

As happy as I was to present these to Jen last night at Hurricane Knitting, I was a little sad to see these go. I have a strong feeling these are not the last BSJs I will knit!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Little Things

On Saturday, Yvonne had a group of us over to her house for lunch and some knitting. I didn't want to take anything too big or complicated, knowing that we'd be talking and I'd be easily distracted, so I took some sock yarn scraps. A couple hours there, along with a couple hours last night, and I had a pair of bootees.

Pattern: Saartje's Bootees (pdf link) by Saartje de Bruijn
Yarn: scraps of Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock lightweight (100% superwash merino), colorways Lenore and Flower Power
Needles: US 2 (2.75 mm) dpns
Started/Completed: November 15/November 16
Mods: none

These are for a friend to give to her newborn niece, by her request. They were on the needles such a short amount of time, I'm not even sure they counted as a WIP. They were fun as always, even with all the ends to weave in.

Speaking of small things, I've been knitting with some very skinny sock yarn. It's actually some rather special yarn -- recognize it?

I'm discovering that I love knitting with handspun sock yarn almost more than I love knitting with any other sock yarn. I especially love the subtle color changes. These are, unfortunately, going to be some very delicate socks because the fiber was superfine merino; the knit fabric is extremely soft but also rather flimsy. I don't think reserving them for bed socks is such a bad thing, though, because I'd hate to spend all that time prepping the fiber, spinning the yarn, and knitting the socks only to have them wear out right away.

Thanks again for all your opinions and words of advice regarding the swatch and my vest. I still have to do a few calculations to be sure, but I think I'm going to go with the smaller needle and the fabric I like. I can't see spending all that time on something only to have it come out fitting me but with poor stitch definition.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Conundrum

So, I was a good knitter and swatched for my Ivy League Vest. I even swatched in the round, which is a bit of a pain, what with all the loose ends hanging every which way. And I even used two needle sizes! Here's what I got:

That's with a flash so you can see what the stitches look like. This is without a flash and a better representation of what the color combination looks like:

Amazing how one little swatch can cause so many problems. You see, the bottom half of the swatch, which is knit on a US 4 needle, gives me gauge (7 stitches/inch), but I don't care much for the loosey-goosey appearance of the fabric. There's a chance that this may have been exacerbated by the swatching technique and that the fabric might not be so loose when I'm knitting "for real" in the round. The top half of the swatch, worked with a US 3 needle, gives me a fabric I really like but at a gauge of about 7.6 stitches/inch. I did a little math and figured out that, at the smaller gauge, I can knit the largest size and wind up with a vest that will be approximately my size -- approximately being the key word here.

So I can use the needle that gives me gauge but risk getting a fabric I don't like or use a needle that gives me a fabric I like and keep my fingers crossed that the math works out. Add to this the fact that the pattern specifies that the v-neck accommodates up to five inches of negative ease and I'm really confused. I'm hoping some of you will have advice for me or at least a strong opinion, especially those of you who've done a fair amount of colorwork before (Rebecca and Pat, I'm looking at you!).

In the meantime, I'm focusing on the second half of my mystery stole -- should finish clue 1 tonight! -- in the hopes of having it done to wear to my office holiday party a month from today.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Ballband Heaven

At 9 a.m. this morning, I finished my last big holiday knitting project for the year.

Pattern: Ballband Dishcloth from Mason-Dixon Knitting
Yarn: Lily Sugar'n Cream (100% cotton); colorways Hot Purple, Violet Veil Ombre, Yellow, Playtime, Light Blue, Butter Cream Ombre, Red, and Natural Ombre; one skein each
Needles: US 7 (4.5 mm) Addi Turbo circs
Started/Complted: October 29/November 9
Mods: omitted two "stripes" on each dishcloth

I can say with complete certainty that this is the only pattern I've knit eight times. One would think that knitting the same pattern that many times would get really boring, but I think I actually sped up with each dishcloth I knit. While I need a little break for the moment, I picked up some additional kitchen cotton yesterday to make some of these for myself. They are fun and very addictive.

These are a little shorter than called for in the pattern because of a bit of a mistake on my part when I was knitting the first one. I misread one part of the directions and didn't realize it until I had started on the second one, but at that point I decided to make the coordinating cloth to match the first. Then I discovered that by leaving out the two "stripes," I actually was able to get two dishcloths out of two skeins of the yarn when using the solid as the background for one and the ombre as the background for the other. After a light steam blocking to get the fabric to relax, I think these cloths are a very nice size; I almost think the size they should have been (had I followed the pattern correctly) would be too big.

These dishcloths are for our friends who host us for Christmas each year. This year's theme is "green Christmas," so I wanted to make something that would be reusable -- and something that would be pretty enough to not require any special wrapping. I think these fit the bill!

Now all that's left to knit for holiday gifts is something for my brother-in-law's girlfriend, so I'll be casting on for a Koolhaas tomorrow morning. Tonight, however, I'm breaking out the colors and swatching for my Ivy League Vest!

Thursday, November 06, 2008


The holiday knitting continues here, and lately it's all about the Ballband Dishcloths. I am churing out at least one of these a day. There are going to be eight of them total for Christmas gifts, and the fifth will be finished shortly. It's a good thing, too, because I'm getting to the point where I could probably knit them in my sleep.

I finished another Christmas gift while watching the election returns on Tuesday, but it's still in need of a little embellishment, so you'll have to wait a few days for that. I'm anxious to finish up these little projects so I can get back to knitting for me. Specifically, I'd like to get back to the second half of my mystery stole -- I'm hoping to finish it in time to wear it to my office holiday party in mid-December -- and then there's always the siren call of fair isle!

As to the election, the topic on everyone's lips, well, I would be remiss if I didn't mention anything about it. I try to keep politics off this blog as much as possible except, as I did the other day, when I remind my fellow American citizens to take part in the democratic process. I know that this was a long and at times difficult campaign, with very strong emotions on both sides. But I don't think anyone doubts that the outcome marks a historic moment in American history. I know that one day I'll be telling my children about this election and the part I played in it. I'm proud to have had some impact on the outcome, however small, and I'm excited to see what the next four years have in store for our country.

Monday, November 03, 2008

An Important Message

We interrupt our regularly scheduled knitting content for this important announcement.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Exercise your right and fulfill your responsibility.
Please cast your ballot!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Autumn on the Vineyard

It's Sunday, so you know what that means! This week, I want to show you my latest yarn.

This was the All Spun Up spinalong fiber, a superfine merino dyed in deep autumn shades that made me think of the colors of a vineyard in autumn -- the deep purples of grapes on the vine and the greens and golds of the leaves.

I decide that this was destined to become a pair of fall socks, so I went for a three ply fingering weight yarn.

By far, this was best yardage I ever achieved with four ounces of fiber. I wound up with approximately 450 yards -- more than enough for a generously sized pair of socks -- and even some singles leftover. This is probably the most even I've spun, too, so you can understand why I'm rather proud of this yarn.

I went through all of October without knitting a single sock, and I've missed my sock knitting, so my goal is to turn this yarn into a pair of socks to wear to Thanksgiving dinner.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Tres Chic, N'est-ce Pas?

This knit up so quickly, I didn't even have time to take a progress shot.

Pattern: Foliage by Emilee Mooney, fall 2007 Knitty
Yarn: Malabrigo Merino Worsted, colorway Verdes, one skein (with leftovers!)
Needles: US 7 (4.5 mm) 16" circs and dpns and US 5 (3.75 mm) 16" circs
Started/Completed: October 25/October 28
Mods: see below

I'd wanted to knit this hat for a while because I really liked the stitch pattern, but I didn't really want another beanie-style hat. Instead, I wanted a slouchy beret-style hat -- something that would cover my head but not smoosh my hair. So, I decided to take the basic pattern and enlarge it.

How did I do it? Luckily for you, I took notes so that I could remember what I did.

First, you should know that I did the worsted version of the pattern, so these mods will not necessarily work with the chunky version (though I'm sure a little experimentation could yield similar results).

I started by following the crown directions, working rows 1-19 of the Crown Chart. Then, I repeated rows 14-19 of the chart until I had 196 stitches on my needle. After completing the decrease round that begins the body, I had 192 stitches.

Next, I worked one repeat (rows 1-12) of the Leaf Lace chart. At this point, I had to decrease some stitches, so I worked rows 1-4 of the Leaf Lace chart again, but this time around I omitted the yarn overs in the stitch pattern. These decreases got me back to the 96 stitches called for in the body of the hat in the original pattern. I worked the brim as written and bound off using the larger needle. And voila! Instant beret!

I know some of you will have difficulty believing this, but this was actually the first time I'd knit with Malabrigo! I'd had a number of skeins in my stash that I was hoarding, but now that I've had the pleasure of actually knitting with it, I have a feeling that the remaining yarn won't be left in the stash much longer.

I do want to point out to the knitters out there like me, who constantly worry about running out of yarn, that I completed this hat with less than one full skein of yarn.

In the end, this hat is perhaps a bit larger than I was intending, but the numbers worked out really well -- without planning, I might add; math was never my strong suit -- so I didn't have to fiddle with the decreases. I think this chapeau will come in handy on those slightly damp winter days when I don't want my hair to get messed up by any precipitation; I can just shove it all inside the beret!