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!