Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Gearing Up For Winter

Lately I've been on a winter knitting kick. Could have something to do with all the snow we got on Sunday! Of course, it all melted on Monday when the temperatures returned to the more seasonal 50s. But that, and the cold days we had the week before, encouraged me to make some small, warm items.

First, I whipped up a pair of wristers. Or fingerless mitts? At any rate, I had one skein of yarn and that seemed a perfect thing to use it on. They came out a bit large, so next time I'd either use smaller needles or cast on fewer stitches. But they are soft and comfortable, and I've tested them out while typing and yup, I can type while wearing them. Hooray!

The pattern was "Chunky Piano Mitts" by Michele Bernstein, and you can find the pattern here on Ravelry: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/chunky-piano-mitts or here on her blog: http://pdxknitterati.com/patterns/chunky-piano-mitts/

The yarn I used was Kona Bay Knitting Yarn Party. It's a 12-ply bulky yarn that's 100% nylon, in an eyelash type. It's very soft and was fun to work with, but frogging would definitely be a pain.

Next, I made a pair of slippers. I wanted something that I could complete with one skein of Lion Brand Wool Ease, again because that one skein was all I had in my stash. I came across the pattern for Two Needle Slippers by Dagny Lilley here: http://web.archive.org/web/20080101104155/http://www.theirishewe.com/mt-static/2006/04/two_needle_slippers.shtml and they seemed like just the thing.

Once I completed the first slipper, I tried it on. Fit well on my foot, but the garter stitch cuff was much too loose. I knitted the second slipper and made the cuff out of K2P2 ribbing instead of garter stitch. That worked better, so I frogged the cuff on the first one and reknit it in ribbing. However, they still slipped off my heels when wearing them, so as a final touch, I added a crocheted tie on each one. That seems to have done the trick.

Now, I'm back to working on my Applegate Shirt (pattern from Oat Couture) and hope to get it finished shortly. I'm on the second sleeve, then just have the placket and neck to knit, and of course the sewing.

What are YOU working on to keep you warm this winter?

Saturday, September 05, 2009

How To Enhance Your Sock Yarn Stash

I've come across a great way to greatly enhance your sock yarn stash--the "Sock Yarn Knitting Exchange." (But it's also open to crocheters.)

First, you receive a letter with two names and addresses on it. You send a 100 gr. ball of sock yarn (or two 50-gr. balls--enough to make one pair of socks) to the first person. Then you send out a new copy of the letter to six knitting (or crocheting) friends with the first name and address removed, the second name and address in first place, and your name and address in second place.

In short order, you should receive enough yarn to make 36 pairs of socks! Cool, huh? And just as much fun will be seeing who, and where, the yarn comes from.

Now, I know these things often don't pan out exactly as expected. Somewhere along the line, someone usually drops the ball. (Of yarn.) But I figure if you even receive only one ball of sock yarn, you've broken even. Anything more than that is a bonus.

As it happens, though, I don't know a lot of knitters here. So I'm throwing this open to all of you in yarn cyberspace. If any of you would like to participate in this sock yarn exchange, please e-mail me at elizabeth@elizabethdelisi.com and I'll get your address and send you the info. BTW, this is only open to those in the US and Canada, because of the difficulties of mailing elsewhere.

Hope to see lots of you participate!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Where Has All The Summer Gone?

Gosh, it seems like summer came slowly and left quickly. We had about three weeks where it was hot enough to use the window AC unit for a few hours each day, and now it feels like fall is unpacking before summer is up. Not that I mind, as I really don't care for the heat anyway.

Plus, when it cools off, it means I can go back to work on all those lovely wool shawls and sweaters and gloves and socks!

While it was hot, I worked on small cotton things like this cute little sweater for my new niece, due in November. I searched extensively to find a pattern I liked and finally came up with this one. And best of all, it's free here: http://www.classiceliteyarns.com/WebLetter/33/Issue33.php Free is a price that works for me. ;-) I love the buttons I found at my LYS; they have little pink sheep on them and they say, "Little Lamb."

Then I made a set of kitchen things for my mom's upcoming birthday. There's something soothing about knitting on kitchen things. They're not fancy, they aren't made from expensive yarn, and they'll be used to scrub and dry dirty dishes and pots. But they're down to earth and really, really useful. The recipient of a sweater made from expensive alpaca and silk might not like the style and so might not wear it; but what's not to like about kitchen towels and washcloths? Plus, they're boldly machine washable and I like that. I was tempted to use the blue variegated cotton, but then realized I was choosing MY preferred colors, not my mom's. Her kitchen is painted yellow, so I found this lovely yellow yarn and went with that. I think they came out nicely, despite some color pooling. Another good thing about kitchen sets; if the color pools, so what?

And finally, I did a lot of this with the hottest days of summer. That's my cat Burt, lounging in my office window on one of the hottest days this season. I saw a cartoon once about cats that's so true; you can use a sleeping cat as a thermometer! The more tightly they're curled up, the colder it is; the longer they stretch out, the hotter. So clearly, this was a pretty hot day. ;-)

Hope your summer, and your summer knitting, has gone well and you're ready to leap into fall!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Mermaid Lace Shawl

As promised, here is the info on my Mermaid lace shawl. First, you can see me modeling it, just ignore the "model" and enjoy the shawl. Max, the dog, snuck into the picture with me. But he's not interested in having his picture taken, just wanted to watch the squirrel raiding the bird feeder right outside the glass door. Yup, like the dogs in "Up," all you have to do is yell "squirrel!" to drive him nuts. Then he barks his brains out and drives US nuts. The squirrel ignores him, of course! And me, unless I open the door, and then he only scampers a few feet away. Anyway, back to the shawl...

So here you see the shawl blocking. It really stretched quite a bit, which made it lovely and large enough. Dan called it the "bat cape" because of how it looked on the bed! Hah. Luckily, Burt the cat has learned it's worth one of his nine lives if he disturbs something blocking on the bed. He hasn't gotten so smart about clean laundry I may happen to leave on the bed, though.

And here is a close-up of the stitches. You may or may not be able to see, there was a problem with the second, i.e. closest to the hem, lace pattern. Actually, both lace charts in the book for this shawl were wrong. The first one has been fixed and errata posted on the website. The second, not yet. It's supposed to be an 11-stitch pattern, but only rows 1 and 2 show 11 stitches, the rest show 10. So clearly, a stitch had to be added somewhere. Unfortunately, where I chose to add one, it gave the pattern a little "jog" to the side. By the time I discovered it, I had no intention of ripping it out and starting over. I don't think it'll be very noticeable.

For those of you who want the corrected pattern, you can keep watching the Mermaid shawl website for the official correction. But in the meantime, here's what worked for me in a swatch I did, with much help from my LYS owner. On the first row of the chart, add a YO at the start of the row. On the second row of the chart, do not m1 in the first, or last, YO of the row. Then follow the chart as is for the rest of the rows, and you should be good.

And if I ever decide to make this shawl again, I'll be set!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Should the FDA regulate yarn?

I'm thinking the answer is "yes" as yarn is my drug of choice! But then again, never mind. Don't want them trying to put me in a 12-step "quit buying yarn" program...

I'm way behind in posting, but that doesn't mean I haven't been busy with therapeutic stash enhancement! Just stroking a new skein of yarn puts me in a happier frame of mind. What about you?

First there was the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival. Came away with some great bargains:
This is a lovely shawl pin. I had chosen a different one, but before I even left the building, it began to bend where the pin is soldered onto the decorative top. So I returned it and exchanged it. It works really well for large or heavy shawls, but wouldn't want to use it on a fine lace-weight shawl.

This is a gorgeous lilac/iris color. It's called Iris. It's Jaggerspun Zephyr lace weight yarn, in a long skein of 1160 yards. I love that...it means I can make a large lace shawl without having to start a new skein and work in ends in the middle of it. It's so soft...I frequently give it a stroke just to feel how soft it is!

Here's a kit I picked up with "beaded rayon yarn" that's bumpy, not actually beaded. It's peacock-colored...blue, green, and purple. Lovely. Came with beads to make a beaded scarf. It also includes the pattern. But I'm thinking of making the "Denim Bag" from Knitting With Beads instead, since I have one scarf and another one to make (see below) and I'm not much of a scarf person.

Next came a visit to the Patternworks Tent Sale with my sister and two lovely ladies from her knitting group. I picked up quite a few bargains. This Filatura di Crosa "Multicolor" mohair yarn will make a gorgeous shawl, I'm sure.

This interesting button will probably go on a chunky car-length sweater I'm going to make. Someday. In the meantime, it can reside in my glass button jar and stare out at me and try to send me ESP messages saying: "Use me!"

This is a kit to make an Alexandria Tote Bag. The pattern is from Patternworks, as is the yarn...Meredith Bay, Bretton, and Sunapee, all named for New Hampshire locations. There are three color choices for the bag; I chose the "pastel" option. Should be fun.

Picked up a couple of books: "Reversible Knits" by Iris Schreier, and "Knitting on the Edge" by Nicky Epstein. Both of them look like fun and I can definitely see myself maybe never knitting an "ordinary" ribbing band on a sweater again, thanks to Nicky's gorgeous edging patterns!

Picked this up for my daughter's birthday. She knits and crochets, but so far feels more confident with crochet. (Though she's working on two lovely knitted shrugs and doing a fabulous job.) She also loves purses, so I think she'll have fun with this.

Next, went to Webs (yarn.com) with my daughter on her vacation. Spent three hours there! And because of what I'd already bought in the preceding month, I was (barely) able to limit myself to this gorgeous "Silk Cloud" yarn and complimentary Cotton Bam Boo yarn to make the Lace Scarf in the recent issue of Interweave Knits. I can't believe I walked out of Webs with just these two, but if it could only be two, these were perfect.

Last stop in the month-long yarn extravaganza was The Knitting Knook in Keene, New Hampshire, with my two daughters. I really had no budget left, so just came away with this lovely sock yarn. The color changes are muted and subtle, so I think it will work well for one of the patterns in Cookie A's "Sock Innovation" book. Can't wait to try one!

And my gosh, that's taken me half an hour to post, so I think I'll quit now. Next time I'll post about the Mermaid Shawl that's blocking on the bed even as I type...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

More Mania

I'm still feeling the knitting restlessness I wrote about last time. I'm working actively on, to a greater or lesser degree, four or five projects. The newest ones I've started are a pair of socks, and a shawl made out of this rayon chenille yarn I bought last year on the Wool Arts Tour:

I started the shawl at least three times, trying to find a pattern that works well with the yarn. Here's the one I finally decided on: Eyelet Lace Shawl. It seems to be working well. I'm not sure about the fringe, though. I've made this shawl twice before, with regular worsted-weight yarn, and the fringe worked fine. But with boucle...not sure. I might try a knitted-on ruffled edging.

That scares me a little, though. While I consider myself an experienced knitter, having been knitting for 48 years or so, I don't mess with patterns much. Oh, I tend to add inches to a sweater front/back to make it long enough for me, but I rarely change the pattern details. The first time I tried something like that was when I changed the way the edging was knitted on the Autumn Entrelac Shawl. It came out well, but it was scary.

I'm in perpetual awe of those of you who can take a pattern, pull it apart, and change it to suit yourselves. Is it experience that allows you to do this, or self-confidence, or something else? Inquiring minds want to know!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Knitting Restlessness

I've been knitting like crazy lately but keep changing my mind what I want to work on. Finished a felted purse and I'm using it, though I'm not 100% happy with how it turned out. The instructions were confusing and I ripped it out four times before finishing it. The side you can see in this picture looks fine, but on the other side, there is no real "right" side as both sides show lines where new yarn was joined. If that makes sense. So I don't think the instructions were written correctly. Oh well, live and learn.

Then, I made a carrying case for my cell phone. I figured it was a small project that I wouldn't get bored with. In fact, I almost gave up in frustration as knitting the tight cable pattern with worsted yarn on size 3 needles was nearly impossible. But I persevered, and the heavy cabled fabric will make for good protection of the keypad on the phone. The only issue with this pattern was that the heavily cabled fabric pulls in, so the flap, that's done in straight stockinette, is a bit wider than the case itself. Doing the whole case in stockinette, or doing the flap in the cable pattern, would fix it, I think.

I also knitted up a quick scarf made from some gorgeous angora yarn I bought while on the fall Wool Arts Tour here in New Hampshire. The pattern was simple, and came free with the skein of yarn. I've worn it a few times on the very coldest days. I'm not really a scarf person, but stroking the yarn a few times made me think that perhaps I could wear THIS scarf with no trouble! And I was right...

Now I'm working on the Komon kimono, but the large rectangle is getting boring, so I've also started the "Graceful" shawl from "Shawls and Scarves: The Best of Knitter's Magazine." It's self-fringing and although it's just garter stitch, you change yarns every row, so at least it won't make me yawn. I do tend to be a "work on six projects at once" kinda gal. I wonder if I have knitting ADD?

Do you like to stick to one project till it's finished, and if so, why? Or are you restless like me and can't wait to finish one project before casting on for the next?

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Final Project of 2008

Ta da! My final finished project of 2008, and I'm so happy it's done. This is the Eastlake Sweater, pattern by Norah Gaughan. I made it in Crystal Palace Yarns Crème yarn, which is 60% wool and 40% silk, in color # 2013. I loved working with this yarn...so soft and smooth, easy to knit with. Unfortunately, it's either discontinued or else my yarn store is not going to carry it. Hmm. Will have to raid the sale shelves.

Here's a detail of the leaf panel. Gorgeous, isn't it? I don't have a picture of me wearing the sweater, but the style is actually quite flattering. I made the size 50, which based on comments of others, had a risk of being too big. But as it turns out, the bustline of the sweater fits nicely, so does the neck, and the flaring A-shape of the sweater skims gracefully over my tummy without leaving any telltale bulges. :-) So, I'm happy. I do notice some pilling developing under the arms, where it rubs on itself. We'll see if that continues or if it's only temporary, until it gets worn in.

Now I'm in that "I don't know what to make next" slump. I am working on a small cell phone case, but that's like an appetizer. I need to decide what the next main course will be. I do have lots of stash yarn...most of it lace-weight, so would end up being any number of shawls. And I do have yarn for a kimono, another long sleeved sweater, two short sleeved sweaters, and a coat. Ah, the plethora of choices awaiting me! And me one of those people who hang up and have to reboot the system if there are too many choices...

What's your first project of 2009 going to be?