Thursday, April 30, 2009

In Spite of the Weather

It's spring outside, though you wouldn't know it from my knitting. Since finishing the monkey, I've been knitting only for myself. My big project is one that's long been in my queue: the Tangled Yoke Cardigan.

I'm knitting this in the delicious Sublime Extrafine Merino DK, a delightfully squishy cabled yarn. It's a little heavier than the called-for Rowan Felted Tweed, but I love the extra squoosh of the knit fabric.

Meanwhile, my lunchtime knitting has been a Lace Ribbon Scarf out of my first Intentions yarn club shipment. This colorway is called Bliss, and it definitely describes the experience of knitting with this wool/bamboo blend.

This is probably just a few hours' knitting time away from being done, and then I'll have to find something else to fit in my purse knitting bag. Got any suggestions? (I think I'm off socks for the time being.)

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Second Time Around

Can we pretend that today is Sunday? Really, I meant to post this yesterday, but I didn't get around to it. Oops.

Anyway, here is my latest dose of handspun for you. It's another All Spun Up superwash merino, spun almost exactly like my last yarn. This was the fiber before, 4.2 ounces:

And here it is as a three-ply fingering weight yarn. I really love how the colors blended.

I got slightly more yardage this time around, approximately 375 yards. I'm getting really good at doing a three ply sock yarn!

Would you like an even closer look? Okay, here ya go:

I think I need a little break from the three plies. I started working on some merino/silk over the weekend, spinning it very fine and aiming for two-ply laceweight. It's nice to be working with some color again!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Foster, Bananas Foster

There's a very good reason for the blog silence these past few days -- I've been finishing Mr. Foster, and in the nick of time! He'll be shipped out tomorrow morning to make it in time for Aidan's birthday.

Pattern: Mr. Foster [Ravelry link] by the Knit Picks Design Team
Yarn: Knit Picks Essential (75% superwash merino/25% nylon) in Buckskin, Cocoa, Burgundy, and Ash, one skein each
Needles: US 1 (2.25 mm) dpns and 1.5 (2.5 mm) circs
Started/Completed: March 13/April 23
Mods: I used a three-stitch I-cord in place of a single crochet chain for the robe belt and made it a couple of inches longer than specified in order to have enough for the knots at the end

I have mixed feelings about this project. On the one hand, there's no denying that this is one extremely cute monkey.

On the other hand, he was kind of a pain in the you-know-what. The monkey wasn't too much of a pain until I got to the face and all those short rows. The robe really wasn't too bad. The pajamas, though, were a royal annoyance. I've realized that I feel the same way about moss stitch that I do about seed stitch -- I just don't care for it. In the case of the pjs, it made the project slow to the pace of cold molasses. I found this part of the pattern to be particularly -- and perhaps unnecessarily -- fiddly, to the point that I very nearly threw in the towel. I'm glad I didn't, though, because Mr. Foster really wouldn't feel complete without his clothes.

There is one feature of the pjs, though, that I absolutely adore: the rear flap, complete with a hole for his tail.

The one main failing of this kit, in my opinion, is that the yardage required for completing the pjs, at least, is vastly underestimated. I was fortunate in that I had some scraps of an earlier batch of the same yarn (from these socks) that were a close enough match in color that I could finish, but I can't imagine what I would have done if I hadn't. I certainly couldn't have waited to order another skein and still gotten the project done in time.

I had just enough to finish the robe, though it was a close one. Here's all the yarn I have left, just a few yards. (The robe obviously needs a good blocking, so kindly ignore the bottom edge's flipping up.)

Bottom line? While aggravating at times -- and it's certainly never fun knitting under a deadline -- I'm glad I made it through. I think Aidan will like him, and if he doesn't, he can always send Mr. Foster back to me!

That's all, folks!

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Slogfest

WARNING: The following blog post is likely to be dull and, due to a complete lack of sun, contain unimpressive photos.

So, the neverending knitting on Mr. Foster's clothing continues, and while the end is in sight, it seems like the slog just gets worse and worse. As of this moment, I am in the final section of the pajamas (which, of course, is the most fiddly) and am only a second sleeve, a belt, and some sewing up away from finishing the robe.

That little bit of burgundy yarn you see to the right of the PJs is all that's left of the original skein in the kit, and it's clearly not going to be enough. I was able to find some scraps of the same colorway buried in the stash, but of course they're very old and not likely to match perfectly. (I doubt Aidan will notice, though.) I'm also getting dangerously close to running out of gray yarn for the robe. I'm hoping at least to make it through the second sleeve; I can always use another similar yarn for the belt, if need be.

This whole project is really an exercise in perseverance. Last night I was completely ready to throw in the towel, but The Mister expressed serious doubts that I'd truly be able to abandon such vital parts of the project, and he's right. Mr. Foster is cute on his own, but he's really devastatingly adorable with his PJs and robe. And I do have an end date in sight -- he absolutely must be mailed by this Saturday at the latest to make it to Aidan for his birthday. So, slog I must. With any luck, the next blog post you see here will feature a fully dressed monkey.

Meanwhile, I did do some spinning this weekend, finishing up the second and third bobbins of my latest fiber.

Tonight, I started plying. I aim for about 30 minutes of spinning time on weekday evenings (I tend to spin more over the weekend), so I hope to have a finished yarn by this weekend.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Keep It Simple

Sometimes there is nothing more satisfying than a simple stockinette sock -- as was the case when my most recent Rockin' Sock Club package arrived. It came with a beautiful pattern designed by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, but unfortunately I just did not care for how it was combining with the yarn. So, I frogged back to the picot cuff, left the pattern for another day (and another yarn), and proceeded with a plain sock.

Pattern: basic stockinette, worked over 56 stitches, with a picot cuff, slip-stitch heel, and wide toe
Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock mediumweight, colorway Gertrude Skein, one skein
Needles: two 16" US 2 (2.75 mm) Addi Turbo circs
Started/Completed: April 7/April 15

Easy peasy, mindless knitting done mostly during my lunch break at work. The finished socks are thick and comfy -- good house socks.

Now, I find myself with only one project on the needles, and I think you know what that is. Looks like I'm about to run out of the red yarn for the pajamas, too. Mr. Foster might have to make the trip to the Midwest in the nude!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Slow and Steady

I'm still slogging away at Mr. Foster's clothing. Over the weekend, I finished all four "tubes" that make up the sleeves and legs of his pajamas, and last night I got to the point where I joined the legs together and started working up the body. As you can see, he's a little anxious for me to finish his PJs so he can get to bed.

I am determined to finish the pajamas by this weekend, which will give me a week to knit his robe and package him up nicely for his trip to live with Aidan. I think the robe -- knit mostly in stockinette -- is going to go a lot faster.

I'm in sort of a weird place right now because I have only two projects on the needles: Mr. Foster and a pair of stockinette socks (which should be done shortly, as I'm on the gusset of the second sock and it's being worked on size 2 needles). I'm looking forward to getting this monkey business out of the way so I can start another big project, this one for me. Do you think it would be ridiculous to start a sweater in April? Hmm, maybe some lace is in order.

In any case, Mr. Foster and I will be meeting up with the Hurricane Knitters at the Waterworks Barnes & Noble tomorrow night, starting at about 7 p.m. Please come and join us if you're in the area!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Just Right

I know I've come a long way in my spinning when I'm able to spin almost exactly the yarn that I want. In this case, I started with this pretty superwash merino top from my favorite fiber pusher.

I knew I wanted a three-ply fingering weight from this, and I chose to go with a traditional three ply (even though I've been on a bit of a Navajo plying kick lately) in order to get a mixing of the colors. With all the white in this fiber, I wanted to make sure that the colors were blended throughout the skein. Here's the result:
Though I didn't measure my wraps per inch, this is squarely in the fingering range, probably even on the light fingering side. The colors blended beautifully, mixing througout while trending toward more purple in some places and more brown in others.

The only slight disappointment was the yardage, which ended up being approximately 360 yards. I was hoping for closer to 400, but this is still plenty for a pair of socks or whatever I might decide to do with this yarn. For now, I'm content simply to admire it in the skein.

Should I decide I need to knit with some new yarn, I have a couple of options that recently entered the stash. I made a stop at Knit One yesterday to use a birthday gift card that'd been burning a hole in my pocket. First, two skeins of Jojoland Melody -- enough for a pair of socks, though I think this might look quite lovely as something lacy.

Then, the big purchase: 10 skeins of Noro Kureyon (color 213) to make a Lady Eleanor Stole.

I'm so tempted to cast on with these yarns, but I'm really under the gun to finish Mr. Foster in time for Aidan's birthday (I've now got less than two weeks). Two arms of the pajamas are finished, but as the whole piece is in moss stitch, it's very slow going. Anyone got any good motivation tips?

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

We Have a Monkey

As my father would say, "He has the cutest little head!"

Now it's all about the clothing. Stay tuned!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Walk on the Ocean

There's a reason Kristin is my favorite fiber pusher; her color sense is really unmatched. These finished socks make me think of a tropical ocean -- the deep blues of the water and the rusty browns of driftwood.

Pattern: basic stockinette worked over 60 stitches, with a 3x2 ribbed cuff and Eye of Partridge heel flap
Yarn: my handspun BFL from the March All Spun Up Spinalong
Needles: two 12" US 1 (2.5 mm) Addi Turbo circs
Started/Completed: March 28/April 6

I finished the gusset and most of the foot of the second sock yesterday afternoon while The Mister and I went to see Adventureland. The movie was pretty good, and apparently it made for some good knitting time, because when I pulled the sock out again this morning, I only had an inch and a half left before the toe.

Little did I know when I cast these on that I'd actually have a chance to wear them soon -- would you believe it's snowing right now?

Thursday, April 02, 2009

My Monkey Man

Mr. Foster is finally starting to resemble the monkey he is!

I should be able to finish up his head tonight, and then all he needs is a tail and two ears to be whole. Then it's on to his clothing. He is definitely getting some pajamas, but I still haven't decided whether or not I'll be making him a robe. I think it might be a little too Hugh Hefner for a two-year-old. What do you think?