Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Silent Stirring of the Blood

The package will be in the mail as of this morning. And having finally finished that bit of weaving and blocking (I can't wait to get a reaction!), I am on a roll.

Still not touching the WIPs at the moment, though since we're currently in the move-out/move-in process of switching apartments, I've had ample opportunity to go through and see what's what. I reacquainted myself with the Fair Isle Sweater, which is still sin-of-pride-inspiringly lovely but tragically overlarge -- steek it into a cardigan? And I found several little projects I could finish quickly. More on that later.

No, I'm still on a lace craze. I have belatedly started the Goddess Knits Anniversary Mystery Shawl. What a mouthful! Here's the idea: a kind pattern designer sets up a group of knit-a-long-ers, and then once excitement is built to a fever pitch (knitters are crazy) the designer begins to release charts for the pattern, section by section. Knitters have no idea what the thing is going to look like. And with this one, neither does the designer: each clue I've seen so far has four charts, and knitters are instructed to choose one.

So, says the mathematician: assuming this trend continues, then with the four non-border clues, there are 4-to-the-sixth possible shawls! Damn!

Anyhow, that project's a-going down in an alpaca-silk laceweight yarn that I bought a cone of from Shuttles. They have a lovely policy of taking back unused portions. I've already used this same yarn to knit a grey Wisp, and I'll tell you: I'm starting to really understand what they mean when they say that alpaca does not have as much memory as wool. This stuff is determined to stay As Straight As Possible! Even after blocking, it does not lie nicely and neatly in its pattern. Not great stitch definition for lace. However, I have great dreams for a fall sweater design!

And I'm racing through this shawl as quickly as possible. Why? The Secret of the Stole begins in September :)

Friday, August 1, 2008

For the Queen of My Family

Every now and then, when I get around to actually finishing something, I am reminded of and once again surprised by the amazing transformation that projects undergo when they are done. The errors that you've spent the whole time eying, the little bits of unevenness, your concerns about pattern/needle/yarn choice, all disappear after the finishing touches are done. Your project becomes a thing that has a life separate from your hands and needles, and it becomes a whole other beast. How nice it is to finish!

And every now and then, even more rarely, I get to put those magical finishing touches on a project that went off without flaw to begin with. And that's a transcendent knitting experience.

I give you: the finished Queen Anne's Lace shawl.



I am in love with this. I could point out some things that I'm less-than-pleased with in terms of my execution, but I won't. I think this is the loveliest single object I have made to date. Mom, I love you! You are Queen of Everything, every day.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Close to Me (Remix)

What beautiful weather we've been having in Boulder! The amazing tulips on the Pearl Street Mall are finally over, but there have been plenty of other pretty things to take their place. After an unseasonable wet period, the wildflowers on my drive south and into the mountains were numerous, lush, and astonishingly vivid. They've moved on as well, but the plains still have this indefinable look of "growing" about them.

It's so beautiful that it's becoming hard to sit inside and work all day. I compensate by leaving all the windows open, all the time, which at least gets some fresh air in here -- and the cat has finally figured out she can escape from windows that don't have screens. It took her a while. I also console myself by taking breaks here and there to work on my QAL shawl. Line by line, it grows - and it's lovely! I've been knitting in a tighter gauge than I normally do lace, because I always find my lace is too open after blocking. Hopefully this one will open equally, because I'm afraid it will end up too small.

Anyhow, I'm on row 138 of 160. The last push will take a while. I'll be sure to post pictures as soon as I can spread it out flat!

Monday, May 26, 2008

A long time coming

Alright, it's been a while.

It's been a long while.

I took a hiatus, primarily from posting but also (a little) from knitting itself. Something about the weather changing made me not want to work on wool sweaters and mittens, and something about my life changing made me not want to work on all those projects I enumerated in the last post. But I've picked up again, and we're back to business.

First, the WIPs: The greenwood vest? Body is done. I cast on for sleeves, after laboriously calculating what the set-in caps should look like, but I ripped out after shaping the first one because it looked like it was going to be way too snug. I have to increase the circumference of the cap and also (probably) the bicep measurement. It'll get there, though.

And a new one: the Queen Anne's Lace shawl by MMario, which is gorgeous, fun to knit, easier for a number of reasons than the Cap Shawl, and (get this!!) does not have a damn vandyck border. NO INTERMINABLE FINISHING! I'm at row 98 of 160. I am not making the mistake this time of calculating how many stitches I have yet to go - and this one, with only eight increases (ostensibly) per increase round and actual pattern of 32 increases per every four increase rounds, in a rather unpredictable manner, would take some doin', so.


Things change. Taste changes. The season changes. It's spring here in Boulder. I finally believe it won't snow any more - though as little as two weeks ago, it did. With the warmer weather, my experience of life changes. I wear less clothing, bike more, am getting tan. The song "Summer's the Worst" by Anthony Leviton comes to mind. I clean my room, it gets messy again; I feed the cat, and the cat gets fatter; I cook food and I eat it; the lace grows. Someday I'll get back to all those socks and sweaters that need my attention.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Taking Stock

Yes, it's been a while. I blame HatAttack... all that waiting around, adrenaline and bloodlust pumping through my veins, only to be killed a day before finally (weeks later) receiving a WIP for a second hat.

But it also seems to me I'm having a little trouble sticking with any projects these days. I've been holding myself back from starting any (large) new project, since I know I have plenty to work on, so bear with me while I think out loud about the WIPs hiding in my closet:

1. Fairisle sweater
Status: on hold until I a) figure out what kind of cast-on to go with, ultimately; b) resign myself to the fact that it's larger than I meant it to be

2. Greenwood Vest
Status: progressing slowly, maybe 50% done. Planning on making it a cardigan, not a vest. My TV-watching project, slowed by the fact that I don't have a TV.

Various projects waiting for the size 1 dpns -
3. Gryf mitts
Status: frogged, colors are not right, may turn them into socks instead

4. DK hat
Status: off the needles, yarn sucks, no plans

5. Random purple socks
Status: going quickly, but not for any good reason, just nice and portable. Afterthought granny heel sounded like a great idea - except without the heel shaping, socks are so boring!

6. Random self-patterning socks
Status: not even started! Good lord, I need more dpns!

7. Thrummed mittens
Status: on hold, it's not cold enough right now to be thinking about mittens
Thrummed Mittens

8. Cap shawl
Status: god damn vandyck border

9. Very Tall Socks
Status: ... is it ever realistic to expect to finish these? They're from so long ago, I haven't the faintest hope of gauge being the same without some hard work

10. Pkt Creatures
Status: three just need finishing

Damn. Gotta get motivated. I haven't been doing nothing these past weeks, just not a lot. I'll post some catch-up pics soon.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Hatty Doom

Very clever of you to find me, Mr. Bond. I've been waiting for you.

Above you see the deadly weapon that I whipped out and into the mail less than five hours after the inaugural Hat Attack began last weekend. The pattern is the one provided by the organizers. It's called Binary. 10 points to whosoever may point out why (who doesn't also have access to the Ravelry discussion of the pattern!). The yarn is Lamb's Pride Worsted, of which I've formed no opinion yet, though I love that it's unplied.

And below you'll see what I did with my time when, five hours later, I was still amped on killin' hormones and had nothing to do but wait for the USPS to do its job. Which it still hasn't.

Yarn again is LPW (got two whole caps out of it!) and Malabrigo color X, again salvaged from the doomed Matrix mittens. The pom is ridiculous but entirely necessary.

I'm having mixed feelings about Hat Attack and am debating whether to sign up for the similar but better-established Sock Wars that's coming up. It's a really fun way to connect with people internationally.. But it's been a lot of waiting, a lot of reading and posting to the forums, and not a lot of actual knitting or getting knitted presents. I'm worried my target may have just decided to stop playing.

Some yarn thoughts:

This is the Araucania Nature Wool Chunky (minus one hank that I was swatching from). It's interesting stuff. The color is actually kind of pretty, and the yarn is soft enough, but the dye job is pretty inconsistent. And on top of that, the hanks come actually a little felted together, which to me might indicate sort of poor handling. I'm still toying with the idea of making Durrow with it, but I'm concerned that the cabling might not look good with the variegated effect. But then, I don't think anything looks good with variegated yarn. Oh well.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Weekend WAR

Just a heads-up: Don't expect a big post this weekend. Hat Attack is ON!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

This Week's Progress and Dreams

Work continues both in real-life and in knitting land. Had a mini-review at my wonderful job and got some very nice feedback and now am back to plugging away. Also still plugging away at various projects. I'm not pushing the tempo at all, so I'm only through a repeat and a half of the diamond pattern on the Greenwood Vest, which post-blocking should translate to about three inches of entire vest. Also discovered that a co-worker is about to have his first baby, like, immanently, so I've joined the crowd making Saartje's Bootees - so cute!

I had this weird dream last night.. part of it was about cleaning toilets (maybe it's time to clean house? I did notice a little ring this morning). Part of it was about fleeing the city from some kind of society-wrecking disaster. And the rest of it was about stopping in on the yarn store, and trying to convince them that since the world was ending, they should let me take some yarn so that I'd be able to keep my family warm in the future. They grudgingly allowed.

So I was standing there, in the dream, and really doing some intense calculations. I knew I could only take what I could reasonably carry on my back with all of my survival gear - this was a serious dream! So I had just about decided that, although it would be less efficient weight-wise, it would be a better idea to take bulky yarn, since it knits up more quickly and I'd have a better chance of producing multiple sweaters. But by the time I started making a move to grab any, the entire store was swarmed with other people having the same idea: rabid knitters whose desert-island scheme was yarn, and lots of it. In that confusing way that dreams have, I kept putting things aside and then coming back to find them gone, and in the end was left only with cotton DK novelty. Bogus.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Small Things (Picture-ful)

Whew, the end of a long, knit-ful weekend. You'd think I'd have exciting things to share. You'd be wrong.

Just kidding!

My Webs yarn came on Monday. I am.. guilty but pleased. SO MUCH YARN! One surprise was the highland tweed. The stuff is really cool, but I'd hoped that the colors would go together better! There is still the orangey color available, and I think I'd recommend it to anyone who has time to deal with washing it. The change is amazing.

You can perhaps see the difference in thickness between the single strand of yarn and those in the washed mini-hank.

Craft night this past week was oh-so-fun. We had a new member, a lovely young lady who I connected with on Ravelry through the Boulder knitters' group! Long gone are the days when meeting "IRL" is a scary taboo, I guess. Seems like everyone I know is hanging out with people met through online dating sites. While there, I started work on my Greenwood Vest - actually more a raging purple color - as seen below. Please excuse the lame-o picture, it is late and I am tired.


Swatch Vest

The pattern isn't exactly a fun knit - no shaping until the end, pretty repetitive, and my favorite element (the ribbed button bands and edging) don't get done until the entire thing is done! Add to it that it's knitted flat, and you've got potential for serious underwhelmage. Especially since it's purple and.. that might have been a poor color choice. However, for what it is, I think it is well designed, and the cabled diamonds are very elegant for the effort. It's nice to knit on in front of the TV.

My problem with knitting recently has been an overabundance of yarn and ideas compared with my needle collection. I'm actually being held back by not having the right sizes, or enough of the right sizes. Since my sock revelation last week, I've really been wanting to knit more.. but my size 1s are currently inside of a hat (that I left at someone's house!), and my size 2's are inside of a never-ending, very ambitious sock which will likely never be finished (hand-dyed yarn in three colors with natural, crunchy-granola vegetable dyes, striped, TWO-SIDED hiking socks).

So.. I contented myself with designing, mostly, and a little dying to go along with it. I have a new friend who is going to be very pleased when he gets what I've designed for him (assuming I ever get those size 1s back). So here's what I did:

Kool-aid dying, oh-so-fun!

You can see the result below, with another, my own special blend - here, turmeric and citrus tea (don't actually have any vinegar in the house, gosh!). It made for a really bright, not at all orangey yellow! Cool effect. Watch out that you only use a little of the spice, though - one teaspoon to 50g of yarn did it for me. Last time I used much more, and though I was pleased with the saturated color, I could never get it to the point where the wash water ran clear before I knitted it!

Together they make..? Geekery!

That's pretty much it. Not bad for a week.
And I wasn't kidding about the socks, though. I've washed them and worn them more times than I want to admit since last week. People are starting to notice.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A Socking Experience

I have something embarrassing to admit.

Until this week, I have never worn a single sock that I have made.

I had this revelation when I noticed an unwoven end sticking out of my sock drawer; it was from my
Fair Isle socks, which I finished, like, forever ago. I wanted to show off by wearing them in front of a new friend, so I wove in the ends and started wearing them. That was about five days ago. I'm still wearing them. Man, guys, hand-knitted socks are AWESOME! Totally comfortable, totally fit, they don't stink, and they're oh-so-warm. I wish I didn't hate knitting socks so much, because they freakin' rock.

See? Here they are. A little funny, but totally wearable. I was a little embarrassed, maybe, that I turned the heel upside-down, but whatever!

So, that experience led me to take stock a bit, and it turns out there are other products I've made that don't see a lot of use. Cotton beanies, for example, get short shrift simply based on their fiber composition. Blaze has been worn once or twice, and is always well-received, but I avoid in in general because of the un-lovely color and gappy neckline. And then there is the bag of UFOs that could definitely be worn, could I work up the energy to finish them.

But there are exceptions to this "rule." The green sweater - finished long ago but never actually posted here, egads! - gets a crap-ton of use. I LOVE it. It is handsome, cozy, comfy, and in all ways excellent. Except for one. The yarn, Valley's
Northampton, is pilling a lot on the sleeves. Possibly because the sleeves are knit slightly looser than the body? Whatever, it doesn't look so hot.

It's made me think. It's really important to me that the things I produce be not only useful but used. However, it also seems to me that it may be partly a learning-curve issue. I'm a lot better now than I used to be: better at pairing materials and patterns, better at picking materials, and more likely to execute something to a wearable standard. So I guess that's ok. I'll sure be wearing the socks from now on. Enough of the rambling, on to the news.

I have a new cat. And a new home!

She is beautiful, funny, talky, and obsessed with animal fibers. We get along. My roommate is awesome, too.

I have joined the HAT ATTACK! For those unfamiliar with "attack" games, it is an international, knit-to-the-death, secret gift buddy competition. You target and are targeted, and "kill" by mailing your random victim an item (hat) knitted at breakneck speed from a formerly-unseen pattern. Last one still grasping needles wins... Who cares? What I love about it is that you end up with a hat, knitted just for you by someone you don't know. They say that gauge for the pattern (something geeky, since it all came about through the Ravelry Geek forum) is 5 st/in, and I think I'm going to fudge a little and use that beautiful ball of orange Manos left over from those stupid Matrix mittens. You remember the ones.

Been playing with double knitting again - using some of those $1 cones to make a blue/blue Fair Isle cap, double-sided. No pictures as I left it at a friend's. Maybe I'll pick it up when we go SKIING tomorrow!

And... according to my tracking info, my Webs order arrives on Monday!!! Oh! My! So much good stuff coming! Let's see... three or four skeins of Cascade Eco Wool, 900g of Araucania Nature Wool Bulky (meant for Greengables, but poo to that), two cones (lbs) of the Highland Tweed that I've been eying more than a year, enough Northampton (I still like it, it's cheap) to make the Greenwood cabled vest.. I'll be all set.

The Eco Wool was meant for a gentlemanly sweater, but I've decided my energies would be better spent elsewhere, so I'm considering jumping on yet another bandwagon and joining the Hemlock Ring Throw Knitalong, as narrated on the Webs podcast, just because I've never done a knitalong before. And it is a pretty pattern! In any case.. I'm set for 2008, yarn-wise :)

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Pattern woes

Oh, no!!! The pullover I mentioned in the previous entry was Greengables, which you can find on Rav if you have an account - the pattern was free last week when I bought the yarn. When I went to download the pattern, expecting my yarn to ship, oh, any day now, THE PATTERN IS GONE! It is going to appear in Vogue and so is no longer free :(( More than that, it's not going to be available until August. I'm very torn - I'm happy for Tikru that she's gotten this one in Vogue, but, dammit, I want to start knitting before then! I tried to wheedle it out of her, but she's obligated not to give the pattern out. Sigh.

So my advice, fellow knitters, is: download the pattern. Even if it's on a stable site like Knitty.. you never know when technical issues or contract disagreements or whatever will take it away, and then you'll be stuck. Just be safe and get hard copy as quickly as possible.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Worker-Bee Busy!

I have been so good! So very good! I work from 9 to 5 (or from 8 to 4 or 7 to 3 or 6 to 6 or whatever) and today I brought some knitting with me . . . and left it alone all day. It sat on the windowsill to inspire me.

Tonight we pick Craft Night up again! The year's first! Right now I'm working on what was to be a Christmas gift - remaking the very Dashing handwarmers for my gentleman. They are green again, but with fairly different yarn. This time they are in Plymouth Royal Llama Silk. Warm! Lightweight! Soft!

Again, I'm having trouble with the sizing. But whereas last time they were JUST TOO SMALL no matter what I did until I bumped the needles up two sizes - this time they were JUST TOO BIG! So I have frogged them, and I cast on another this time on sizes two smaller, and I am kind of a sad panda. In the process the yarn has lost a lot of its loft (plies now hug each other rather than the air) and the fabric is not nearly as soft. They really were too big, and they'll look better this way, but it hurts to spend the money on new yarn and not get the aesthetic benefits of new yarn. And with my luck they'll be too small this time!

Work has picked up again on my Fair Isle Sweater, as yet to be named. Also broke down and put in a rather large order for yarn at Webs. Have several projects in mind (greatly facilitated if my birthday present from my parents, arriving with same this weekend, is what I expect it to be!), including a handsome boy sweater, a handsomer boy-ish(?) pullover, and a cute vest for me! The first two are twinkling dreams of presents for men who have never received knitted presents from me before - so dream, young men, dream, knitting might be in your future!

Now, to Savers, for furniture! I've been without it long enough!