Thursday, July 31, 2008

100th post!

That's right, today's post is a mini-milestone. And to celebrate, here's a lovely rainbow of yarn that just came in the mail. I've had so much fun arranging it all to take photos!

I'm planning to use this Knitpicks Telemark yarn to make Floral Fair Isle Gloves for my... sister? Mom? Aunt? ... unclear... for Christmas. Which purchase puts me in a bit of a gray area as far as my newly pledged membership to Ravelry's Selfish Knitters group is concerned. Because while I am knitting for others, I bought yarn that I know will pill (as Knitpicks yarn always does), because it was cheap, and if I were to knit myself fair isle gloves I'd pick something pricier and better quality.

Man, it sure is pretty, though...

And at least when the gloves are actually given, they will not be pilly. A selfish gift indeed! I will get all the glory of beautiful handmade gloves, then not be around when they stop looking as nice after a few wears.

Meanwhile, here are not one but two Radcliffe Cardigan yokes in progress -- one for my mom and one for me (selfish knitting again!). Both in a color that is impossible to photograph accurately:
I'm glad that I'm knitting them both at the same time, because it's been a real lesson in yarn qualities and gauge. The big one is in Reynolds Candide, a hairy, hard-finished, two-ply (?) woolen-spun wool that's knitting on size 7 needles at a gauge of 4.125 stitches an inch (after a bad sweater-growth episode I have been gauge swatching and measuring assiduously); and the little one is in Lana Grossa Cool Wool 2000, a soft, springy multi-ply merino that's knitting on size 3 needles at a gauge of 5.8 stitches per inch. I am finding myself preferring the way the Candide looks in this particular pattern, though, as I said in the last post, it's been rough on my wrists. This is a kind of vintagey sweater style, and the fuzzy finish and larger gauge of the Candide are a nice compliment. The seed stitch, however, in the Cool Wool is just so crisp and nubbly and neat. I hate working seed stitch, as it takes twice as long as stockinette, but I do so love the look of it. And while my mom doesn't mind itchy wool, I do, and like to wear camisoles under my sweaters instead of turtlenecks, so Cool Wool it is for me. I'm just hoping it holds up better than the last Radcliffe Cardigan I knit for myself!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Lazy Summer Knittin'...

... loungin' in the sun. It has been ungodly hot in New York City, but not hot enough to keep me from plugging away at knitting ventures. Today was juuuust cool enough to open the windows and turn off the a/c, but man, wool is hot on one's lap. I've been making myself knit a row or two on each project, and it's surprising how much progress can be made that way.

Here we have a lovely pile of summer knitting, a mix of new, old, and very old projects. You probably don't even remember this fair isle project, which languished on the needles for probably 8 months until I could suck it up and do some irrirating intarsia rows:

Then there's the chevron scarf, which chugs along, a few rows at a time, getting quite long and lovely:

Then there's the yoke of my mom's Radcliffe Cardigan; at a gauge of 4.125 stitches per inch, this has been pleasantly quick-knitting; that gauge certainly beats the 7 and 8 stitches per inch I've been working on with other projects!

Reynolds Candide has been interesting to work with: it already seems a little fuzzy, certainly rustic, but it also seems like it will hold up quite well. But it's a little tough on the wrists, I have to say -- no bounce at all.

So there it is, in all its sunset glory. Latin class is over; vacation is coming up pretty soon, and I don't know how much wool I'll be able to stand on the beach. We'll see.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Projects completed and imagined

After learning that a college friend just had a baby girl, I finally got it together and finished what I'm calling my Faux-bruary Baby Sweater, because I didn't have the pattern and made it up as I went along, therefore not realizing that I was supposed to majorly increase in the armpits for both body and arms. However, I think that the sweater looks pretty much like the original:

Sorry about those dark window sash shadows. I didn't bother putting in buttonholes, and instead used snaps, reinforced on the inside with cheap buttons and concealed on the outside by some vintage buttons I bought last summer at an antique show. To complete the whole vintage-y ensemble, I made a really easy bonnet.

When I say easy, I mean easy. I just did a square of nine repeats of the gull stitch pattern framed by 4 garter stitches on the sides and 4 garter ridges on the bottom, putting an eyelet 2 stitches in from the edges after the first 2 garter ridges and every second lace repeat thereafter. After 4 inches, I did some unnecessarily fancy decreasing in something approximating the lace pattern (but next time I think I'll just switch to garter at that point, then switched to garter and decreased 7 stitches every other row until the thing was like 8 stitches, then ran the yarn through the stitches and knotted it. I wove a ribbon through the eyelets to make a tie. As usual, I have no idea how big a baby's head is, so I eyeballed it -- the kid might be wearing the two parts of this outfit at two totally different times in her life ...

Meanwhile, a shipment from Knitpicks just came in, with four colors of their new "Imagination" sock yarn. I really have enough projects in the hopper already, but I just had to get some of this yarn when I saw that one of the colorways was named Looking Glass! And then, of course, I had to get a few more colorways while I was at it...

From left to right, these are Wicked Stepmother, Seven Dwarves, Frog Prince, and Looking Glass. As usual with Knitpicks, the colors look significantly different in person and on the website. The worst offenders in this instance are Wicked Stepmother and Seven Dwarves, which looked sort of muted and sweet on the computer screen but are in fact quite bright and blaring. The other two look pretty much the same as on the website. In fact, though I was worried that Looking Glass would not actually be a color I'd like, it turns out to be the nicest in the bunch, I think. I'm planning to pair these babies up and make some more chevron berets for Christmas presents, since I so enjoyed making the first one. I'm banking on the mixing of the colors doing wonders for the brightness of the two bright ones -- after my first beret I was surprised how different the yarn looked in the skein and knitted up.

But that will all have to wait until I clear out some of my other unfinished objects...

Friday, July 4, 2008

Not knitting, but neato!

I made a dress!

This is my very first sewn outfit, and it came out pretty well, if I do say so myself. It was quite an ordeal: there was a lot of ripping and resewing as I figured stuff out. I am particularly proud of the invisible zipper, which looks quite professional. The top is not fitted quite as nicely as I'd like, but with only two darts I think it's the best I can expect. I'd like to get better at sewing and know how to alter patterns to fit me better. It's pretty fun, and definitely quicker than knitting, if messier and less easy to control.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Pooling is a nifty thing!

So I have never knit a pair of socks and have no real desire to, which means that I have also never worked with hand-dyed sock yarn before. Working on my chevron scarf I've been fascinated by the ways the colors combine. I first cast on for this using five stitches on each side of the chevrons, and after knitting a few inches like that, I could tell that all the pink yarn was going to line up in a vertical column, all the orange, all the green, etc. So I frogged it and tried four stitches on each side (8 stitches fewer in all), and tada! No pooling!

In real life it's not this wobbly on the edges; it just needs to be blocked flat. That's my only news, aside from a visit from this guy:

Raymond. It looks like he's wearing a yellow tiara in this picture, but that's his octopus toy in the background. He loves to shake it really hard and growl. We just went for a walk and he's zonked. It's so nice to look down from your knitting and see this little dude on your foot: