Sunday, October 19, 2008

Autumn Entrelac Extravaganza

I finally finished my Autumn Entrelac Shawl. I did it in the M04, Grape and Rose colorway. Hard to tell just what color it IS from the photos, as they vary widely, though shot at the same time, in the same place, with the same camera. Here's a link to the yarn, though the color isn't exactly as it looks there, either. It's more of a burgundy with lighter and darker subtle variations.

Here's a close up of the stitches, but keep in mind the color is much darker than this picture indicates. This wasn't my first entrelac project, but the only other thing I'd tried before was a dishcloth. So this was definitely the largest! Once I got the hang of the pattern, it went quickly and with a minimum of fuss. I was unable, in my tiny bedroom, to get far enough back from the shawl to get the whole thing into the photo, and I don't possess a dress form to artfully drape it over, so you'll just have to imagine what the whole thing looks like.

I made a couple of changes to the pattern. First, I was lucky enough to see a finished sample shawl in person in my LYS (The Woolery) and more than that, to try it on. I decided I'd like mine a little wider at the top, and since you start at the top and work down to the point, that meant measuring and taking an educated guess how many more triangles to knit on the first row. I did 28 instead of the 25 called for and it came out perfectly for me.

Second, I didn't like the idea of knitting the edging separately and then joining it to the shawl in the last row. Why, you may ask? Because I'd heard from others making this shawl that they had trouble, the edging came out to be too short, and they had to frog it and start over. Since I was increasing the size of the shawl, it would be an even more difficult task to figure out how long to make it. I could have measured, swatched, multiplied, then cast on and hoped it was right. But I took the easy road. Well, the somewhat easier road. I decided to pick up the stitches all along the border and, in effect, knit the border backward. It worked out quite well, I had plenty of stitches to go around, and it ended up with a nice ruffle to it.

The original pattern calls for ten balls of the Jojoland Rhythm yarn. I used ten on the shawl, and three more on the edging. So be warned: if you do what I did, you'll need 30% more yarn! But it's worth it. I have a lovely, comfy, warm shawl to keep me toasty throughout the winter, and just in time. Lows in the 20s tonight. Yikes!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Anklets Finally Done

At last, I finished my Girl's Best Friend Anklets:

They came out pretty well, I think. But they were troublesome to knit. For some reason, I had a lot of trouble with the lace cuffs. The first time I started them, I got about an inch into it and had the wrong number of stitches, and NO idea how that happened. So I had to frog and start again. Here's a picture of the offending cuff, finally finished:

You'd think--at least, I did--that having gotten past the trouble point, and completing one cuff successfully, the cuff on the second sock would be easier...but, no. I had to take it out also and start over.

But at last they're done! And awaiting the first chilly day of autumn to premiere in all their glory on a foot near me. ;-) Or, two of them!

I'm in a rut now as far as knitting goes. Can't seem to decide what I want to work on. I have several projects started...okay, more than several. A bunch. I pick one up, work a few rows, then put it down. Repeat process with several other projects. Sigh. Whine. Try halfheartedly to convince myself that what I need is to cast on yet ANOTHER project, but I know that will just give me one more thing to leave lying around, unfinished.

It's not that I've lost interest in the projects. Or at least, not most of them. A couple of them may need to go to the frog pond. ;-) But most of them I truly want to finish...I just can't seem to overcome the inertia to work on them. Is it the pattern? The yarn? The heat of summer? The doldrums?

Have you ever gotten into a slump like this? What did you do to pull yourself out of it? All suggestions welcomed!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Fireworks, Food and Fun

I had a lovely time celebrating the Fourth of July with my family. Hope all you Americans out there had a great time as well. We had a barbecue the evening of July 3, with hamburgers and hot dogs, and veggie burgers and veggie dogs for the vegetarians. Also potato salad, French fries, fruit salad, and of course mud cake and ice cream. Yum! Put the grandkids down for a brief nap while the grownups watched a movie. Then we got them up for fireworks at 11:30 p.m. (Yeah, it's kinda late, but it's the tradition here.) We live in a great spot where we can just sit on the porch swing and watch the fireworks. Perfect!

After the lovely fireworks show, we walked down to Main Street for the Pots 'N Pans Parade at midnight, another tradition. First, all the church bells in town ring for about ten minutes. Then, everyone starts beating on pots and pans as the parade begin. A few floats and lots of antique cars rumble by. Then the real noise: probably twenty fire engines and rescue units from this and surrounding towns, all with their sirens going at full blast. What a cacophony of sound! No way could you sleep through it.

On the Fourth, after everyone was up, we had a nice breakfast and then drove down to Concord, Massachusetts, to see the Old North Bridge, where the first shot of the American Revolution was fired, "the shot heard round the world." Seemed appropriate for the day. Got to hear an enthusiastic park ranger give a talk about how that battle came about, toured the museum, then home for a nice dinner.

How was YOUR holiday?

Naturally, those fireworks in all their glory got me thinking about not only liberty, but also yarn. ;-) Hey, the colors inspire me! A good friend of mine, Jen, brought me a homemade drop-spindle made with an old CD, a dowel rod and a hook. She also brought me some gorgeous apricot-colored roving, and taught me how to spin. Well, got me started, anyway. I can't claim the lumpy product I'm turning out qualifies me as an expert! But it's fun and something I've always wanted to learn. Thanks, Jen!

I'm also working on a pair of socks I've put off starting for a long time. Let's see if I can post a picture of what they'll look like when finished:

Here's the link to buy the pattern, if you like them as much as I do, from Knitpicks. Hey, for $1.29 for the downloaded pattern, you can't beat 'em. I had to start them twice as the first time I was occupied with other things and somehow ended up with the wrong number of stitches in mid-cuff, and I'll be darned if I could find out what I'd done wrong. So I frogged and started over.

Interesting thing about the pattern: you knit the lacy cuff, then turn the work inside out and knit in stockinette until the stockinette extends about an inch beyond the cuff, then do the heel. IOW, you'll fold down that lacy cuff when you wear it, so the fabric is doubled there. But I'm thinking the next time I make these socks, I might want to make the cuff and just keep knitting for another inch *without* turning inside out, then go for the heel. That way I'll have a single layer around my ankle rather than a double. Good experiment, anyway.

So, how was your Fourth (if you celebrate it), and what colorful projects are you working on?

Monday, May 12, 2008

New Hampshire Sheel & Wool Festival 2008

Had a lovely time at the New Hampshire Sheep & Wool Festival yesterday, and wanted to share my few but carefully selected purchases.

First came these buttons. They're handpainted in South Africa, and just lovely. I don't have a project in mind for them yet, but somehow they called to me and I couldn't leave without them. They could go with something pink, which is definitely me. ;-) But if I decide to be a bit more dignified (and boring), they could go on something cream-colored, or black. I've found myself drawn toward interesting buttons lately, which reminds me of the wooden button cask my grandmother used to have. Many times my sister and I made necklaces of buttons, being entertained for endless hours. I think it's time to start my own button collection!

My next purchase was a lovely shawl pin, purchased from The Elegant Ewe's booth (from Concord, NH). It's a beautiful pink shell pin that can be worn as a square, or a diamond. I like the diamond idea better[,] but it could go either way. It's a lightweight pin so will work well on delicate shawls. I never thought about the weight of a shawl pin when I acquired my first one, only to get it home and find it was too heavy for some of my lightest-weight shawls. So this one is a welcome addition to my collection.

Also from The Elegant Ewe I purchased this beautiful glass shawl pin, black and silver, very classy. I've never been a gold woman, give me silver (or white gold) all the way. Don't wear gold jewelry, so I don't really want gold on a shawl pin, either. Only problem: this shawl pin came with a wooden stick. Well, the brown wood just didn't look right with the black and silver pin--like mixing gold and silver. I asked if there were a different stick to use, and they graciously swapped it out for a black one from one of the pink shell shawl pins, so that made me a very happy camper! And definitely a future repeat customer.

And finally, the yarn. :-) I was really looking for lace yarn this year. I searched high and low, and was disappointed to find very little of it in evidence. I don't know if it was just in short supply this year, or if previous years didn't have much either as this is the first time I deliberately searched it out. Finally, when I was nearly ready to give up and go home, I found this gorgeous 80% alpaca, 20% silk lace yarn from Ball and Skein. I bought two skeins in the "blues" colorway, enough to make the shawl I was shopping for, from the "Victorian Lace Today" book.

Anyone else go to the Festival? What did you buy? Inquiring minds want to know!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Needle, Needle, Who's Got The Needle?

I was just chatting with a friend about knitting needles, and how no matter how many of them you own, you never seem to have the size you need when you're about to start a project. For me, that's often because I'm a startophobic...i.e., I start multiple projects and have many going at one time. So while I may own needles in the correct size, the odds are they're already engaged in an ongoing WIP (that's work-in-progress, a writing term but I think it works for knitting also).

Until recently, size (and perhaps length) was my only concern with knitting needles. I had a bunch of needles from when I was a child (too many years ago to recount), and they were almost all aluminum. Susan Bates and Boye, mostly, I think. With a pair or two of colorful plastic ones thrown in for good measure. That was all there was back then, so you didn't have much choice. And while recently I've heard praise for different types of wooden needles, other varieties of plastics, various metals and even glass, I figured, heck, aluminum works fine for me.

But then I started a lace shawl, and found I kept dropping stitches when trying to do K2tog or even K3tog. The needles were just too darned slippery, and the tips weren't quite sharp enough. Also, the taper was too short and wide. I whined to my LYS owner about this and she suggested I try out Bryspun Needles. She even let me try them in the shop for an hour or so before making the purchase decision. (Yeah, she's terrific.)

I love them! The yarn doesn't slip off the needles when I don't want it to, but moves easily enough when necessary. The taper is long, the point is sharp enough, and I especially love the concave surface of the extra help to keep that stitch from dropping.

The website says they're good for arthritic hands because they're flexible. I can't swear to that, but I can say I haven't had hand pain while knitting since I started using them, so it's entirely possible.

They're lightweight, look like ivory even though they're plastic, and very reasonably priced. What more could you ask for? Next I'm going to try their circulars, and then the dps. I bet I'll like them, too.

Someday, I also plan to spring for some Signature Needle Arts knitting needles. Okay, they look like they're aluminum. ;-) But you can custom order them with various lengths, different decorative caps, and most importantly, three types of tips, including stiletto. So they're also on my wish list!

Do you have a favorite brand or type of knitting needle? What is there about it that you like? Or do you have needles you can't stand? Enquiring minds want to know!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Scarf City

Lately I've been working on scarves, scarves, scarves. My daughter had to have her thyroid removed, and since she's only 21, naturally she's concerned about the scar.

So first I made this one.
This is the Biggle Scarf by Louise Fabian Vouk. I made it using Plymouth Royal Bamboo yarn. My first time using bamboo and I loved it. So soft and silky.

Next came the Hattie's Rose Garden scarf by Christy M. Roosien. I did the drop stitch variation and here's how it came out.

This was made with Jaeger Trinity silk and cotton yarn. I have another skein of this in a cream color that I plan to make an additional, different scarf with. I have several patterns in mind to choose from. I hope this yarn washes up soft as it's a tiny bit scratchy right out of the skein.

Then I decided to make the Angular Scarf by Silke Hupka, using Sockotta sock yarn I had in my stash. Not Helen's favorite color combination, perhaps, but I think she'll get some use out of it. What do you think of it so far?

And finally (or first? Since I began it first but then put it aside for scarves made from more summery yarns) is a lace scarf that's a variation of Wisp Scarf by Cheryl Niamath. I made it narrower and had the lace and garter stitch patterns run vertically instead of horizontally.

I'll finish that one last, since although thin, it's made with Madil Yarns Kid Seta mohair.

So that's what I'm up to lately! How about you?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Anyone For A Tarot Reading?

Finished my Tarot bag. It was a fun and fast knit, once I got the hang of the pattern. I like the two colors together better than the original colors shown on the pattern itself. But of course that's totally a matter of choice.

I had a little difficulty finding beads with large enough holes to go through the braided drawstring, and ended up cutting away some of the threads and just leaving a couple. If I make it again, I'll shop for the right beads instead of just raiding my bead stash, as it wasn't really acquired with beading on yarn in mind.

The seed stitch top came out significantly wider than the two-color bag, so if I make it again, I might try a size smaller needles for the top. That said, having the top a little larger is good as it allows you to slip the cards in more easily. Here's a picture of the bag with the deck (still in its box) protruding, so you can see how much ease there is.

I don't use the Goddess deck much. I have a collection of perhaps twenty decks, of which I only use 3 or 4 regularly. But since the original pattern (which you can find here) was designed with the Goddess deck in mind, I figured that was the deck it belonged to. I can almost hear the waves of smugness coming from my bedroom: "I have a nice knitted tarot bag. You just have a cardboard box."

If it becomes too much, I may have to launch onto a lifetime project of knitting enough bags for all...

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Breezy Breeze Jacket Done

Ta da! My Breeze jacket, from Cathy Carron's book "Knitting Sweaters From the Top Down," is done. I used Plymouth Encore DK yarn, so I can machine wash it with impunity when needed. I love the top-down method, very little seaming to be done...just two tiny seams where the sleeves join the body. And I also like being able to try it on as I go, once the sleeves are done...that way I can customize the length, which I did. I made it several inches longer than the pattern called for.

Here are a couple of photos of the sleeve and neckline details:

I also chose to do something different with the closure. The pattern called for a simple tie at the neckline and that's it. Well, since I left out the wooden beads decorating the yoke and cuffs that the pattern called for, I decided a tie at the top was too boring. (Yeah, it looks like I changed almost everything, didn't I? Hah.) So I decided to do buttons. But the question was, one button at the top, in place of the tie? One button at waist level, as my younger daughter suggested? Or several buttons from the bottom up several inches, as my husband suggested? I held buttons up to the sweater in different spots, frowned and pouted at the mirror, and eventually decided on hubby's suggestion, figuring it would make my central portions appear smaller by virtue of the open "V" of the sweater above the waist. Or so I tell myself, anyway! So here is a closeup of the fabulous buttons I found at my LYS:

Cool, huh? Perfect for the spring weather that's *finally* arriving here. The crocuses are blooming, that's a sure sign!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

What Kind of Knitter Are You?

What Kind of Knitter Are You?

You appear to be a Knitting Guru. You love knitting and do it all the time. While finishing a piece is the plan, you still love the process, and can't imagine a day going by without giving some time to your yarn. Packing for vacation involves leaving ample space for the stash and supplies. It can be hard to tell where the yarn ends and you begin.
Take this quiz!

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Isabel's Sweater

Here's my granddaughter with the sweater I made her for her sixth birthday. It's a little large, but that's good as it means she'll be able to wear it next winter also. She was pretty excited when she opened it: "What is it? A blanket? A scarf? Oh, it's a sweater! I want to put it on right away!"

So, she did. And she wore it all day. And kept saying, "I love my sweater, Nana. It's so soft and warm."

Ah, what else could a knitting Nana ask for? ;-)

The sweater, posing on my bed

A closeup of the stitches

In case you're interested, the pattern is "Little Miss Strawberry" by Jodi Snyder, published in Creative Knitting Magazine.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Chevron Ruana Finished

I finished my Chevron Ruana (from Iris Schreier's book "Lacy Little Knits") a few days back and finally have taken some photos:

Okay, I'm not the best photographer, don't have the best camera, and also don't have the best place to display things I'm going to try to photograph with less than sterling skills and equipment. ;-) Anyway, I hope you can see a little of how it came out. Above is the back, below is the front:

Tried to take a picture of myself wearing it, but alas, it was not to be. The only mirror in our house is a lovely oval silver-framed mirror above the bathroom sink. (Where I confess I can often be heard chanting, "Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the fairest one of all?" Haven't gotten an answer yet.) I can only see my head and shoulders in it. If I stand up on the toilet, I can see the middle of my body. Just try taking a photo that way, I dare you. :-) Anyway, here's a closeup of the stitches taken while holding the camera at arms' length and hoping something would show up in the shot:

At least you get to see my shawl pin designed by Rosemary Hill of Designs by Romi. Lovely, isn't it?

So what are you working on? Do you work on things for the season we're currently in, i.e., you're a fast knitter? Or do you, like me, work on any old thing that takes your fancy since it's likely to take a year or so before it's done? Hah. Let that secret out, didn't I?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Seashell Shawl Finished

I finished up my Seashell Shawl, pattern by Kristin Omdahl in the October 2007 issue of Knit 'N Style. I think it came out wonderfully. Here's picture of it blocking:

Here's a closer picture of the stitch details:

I used Bristol Yarn Gallery's Buckingham yarn, which is SO soft…80% baby alpaca, 20% silk. The pattern starts with the bottom ruffle and works up, which is great as you decrease as you go, so you seem to pick up speed and work faster the farther you go. I was worried at first I'd run out of yarn as the ruffle took a full 25% of my yarn...but I worried needlessly. There was plenty of yarn to go around.

It came out looking smaller than the pictures in the magazine-–wrist and waist length rather than over the fingertips and hips. And that's after blocking the heck out of it. Here's the picture from the magazine:

If I make it again with this weight of yarn, I'd buy more yarn and work on larger needles to get a little more size. Probably my own fault for not swatching. (Shhh!) But it's lovely and quite wearable the way it is.

Hmm. I wonder how it would work in a heavier yarn? Because I do love the pattern. Off to rummage through my stash...