Sunday, September 30, 2007

SSS Wrap-Up

I finished a few more projects this week to top off my Single Skein September Stash-A-Thon. Here's the final three projects:

Pattern: Fetching, Knitty Summer 2006
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, 2 skeins
I skipped the picot bind-off to preserve yarn, and still needed to buy a second ball. Argh! Luckily, a little stash diving turned up another ball of CA in cream, so I have a colorwork hat planned. Just in case you needed another reason to freakin' love your stash.

Sorry the pic is so blurry. My mom is not much of a photographer.

simple 2x2 rib scarves, improvised
Yarn: Crystal Palace Labrador, about three skeins. I bought a bag of this yarn three or four years ago, when I still lived in Richmond, and after having many lives and several uses, I was tired of looking at it every time I opened the "wool" drawer of my stash dresser. I had enough for two of these scarves, so I made one for me and my sister.

better shot of the scarf

My sister, an all-around awesome gal, nascent knitter, and guest blogger at XRK, has had a pretty shitty week after having her apartment ripped off. While she was there, asleep in the next room. She deserved something special and new, after losing all her photos, her masters degree work, her carefully mapped out "life plan," and her wallet, not to mention her overall sense of security in her home. I am just so incredibly relieved that whatever asshole that took her stuff did not want to do harm to her. Because I could not live in a world without my sister.

I finished 10 projects during Single Skein September, and used up about 18 skeins of stash yarn. I am glad to have returned to some of these great yarns in my stash, but mostly, I am so happy to have finally knit some of these projects that have long been in the queue. I have a very peaceful relationship with my stash, and know that the longer that I knit, I will find a use for most of the yarn that's there. However SSS was a great exercise in focusing my energies on actively finding uses for those small quantities of yarn that lurk in the stash, rather than continue to be distracted by socks.

Of course, the sock distraction is returning with a vengeance in Socktober!

Friday, September 28, 2007

FO Updates and a Clapotis Confession

Now that the BackBou has returned from his trip to Chicago (he loved the conference on Credit Bureau reporting -- he's sweet, but such a geek!), I have a more time to manage to blog. Thank you everyone for your incredible comments on the lace scarf!

Here are some of my recently finished objects ...

Pattern: Elisa's Nest Tote
Yarn: #6 AllHemp 6 DK Weight
Needles: US 9s and US 3s

Modifications: I used Liz's suggested mods listed here. I know I'm not the world's fastest knitter, or even in the top 50% percentile of fast knitters, but this did not take me the "few hours" to knit that the pattern describes. I finished this up during the last of the pool days before the start of school. It is N's bag at school for extra clothes, painting clothes, etc.

Pattern: Saartje's Booties (the pattern is a pdf on the sidebar here)
Yarn: Cashsoft DK in unknown pink and purple colors
Needles: I think US6s, it's hard to remember
Modifications: None. These were super fast and my girls picked out the buttons at The Yarn Lounge, aren't they great? They were for one the many new babies on our block.

I am currently working on Trellis in Lamb's Pride Cotton Fleece for another of the new babies on the block. Baby knitting is just so much fun!!

And now for the Clapotis Confession ...
After seeing Liz's incredible Clapotis, I was determined to make one of my own. So I signed up for the Second Wave Clapotis KAL (which began on the 23rd) and started my search for yarn. Well, I had a cost constraint (all the gift knitting is maxing out the budget) and didn't want to spend over $40 bucks on yarn. I found this gorgeous Malabrigo and thought it would work (and it was just a bit over $40 ...).

Well, I swatched and thought that I could pull it off. I was warned, but believed that it could somehow work. Then as I was knitting, it became clear that I had been delusional about using this yarn for a Clapotis. The drape was just not good. It's just not the right yarn.

But I loved the yarn. It's colors, it's softness. I loved the yarn more than the pattern. And so ...

I dumped the Clapotis. I'm keeping the yarn. I can't give it up. The yarn is going to become a number of hats, beginning with this Coronet, for Christmas presents.

My only regret is not being part of this wonderful and fun KAL -- Bridget, thank you for hosting and sorry for my lack of committment! As for the Clapotis, I know it will always be there for me when I am ready to pick up the pattern again ...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Single Skein Update

I have a friend with Raynaud's disease, so despite our 90 degree temperatures today, it will soon be getting cold, and once her hands get cold, they just don't warm up. She mentioned this to me last winter, and like any reasonable knitter, I knew she was the perfect candidate for some arm warmers.

Pattern: Dashing, Knitty, Spring 2007
Yarn and Needles: 2 balls Mission Falls 1824 Wool, US 7
Mods: I knitted a few fewer rows for the hand and thumb. I love MF yarn, but the yardage is sucky (85 yds) and I was concerned I'd run out of yarn.

I didn't run out of yarn for the Dashings, but I was left with just a few yards left. I didn't have such luck with my Fetchings.

It really frosts me to have to buy another ball of DB Cashmerino Aran to finish just a few rows and knit the thumbs, because I'll have a bunch left over. Perhaps I'll buy a coordinating ball and make a Center Square Hat or something to go with it. Sort of defeats the whole Single Skein September idea, doesn't it?

It hasn't been all Single Skein September knitting, though. I'm just about finished my Molly Ringwald corset-vest-top. I'm making the little cap sleeves now, and should have an FO by the weekend. If only it would get cool enough for wear a wool vest.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Practicality's Triumph

When I was a kid, I had to catch the bus to Catholic school at a truly ungodly (sorry) hour of 7 am. Those miserable mornings on the corner came with with freezing knees (we wore knee socks, tights not allowed), and burning ears because I would not wear a hat. I was too cool to wear hat. All hats looked stupid on me, I said. And hats would crush the fluffy perm. We were a skiing family, and I didn't even wear hats on the slopes, for fear my hair would look flattened and staticky in the ski lodge. You know, like everyone else's hair in a ski lodge. I was too vain to be practical, too young and dumb to realize that no one was looking at me or my hair. Or that my perm sucked, and could use a little flattening. Like most adolescents, I feared the judgment of others, which, was usually arbitrary and often cruel.

While I fight the designation of being grown-up, I have evolved past this painfully stupid and self-conscious stage. Now with a child in elementary school, I am anticipating many cold mornings on the corner, waiting for the school bus. And being all grown up, practicality and warmth trumps vanity, but being a knitter means that you can have warm ears and still be darn cute, too. Inspired by fellow funky hat Mom Alison, I present my two latest Single Skein Septemer FOs:

Pattern: le Slouch by Wendy Bernard link to pdf
Yarn and Needles: Artful Yarns Jazz, US 10.5 (ribbing on US 9)
Mods: I chose the stockinette version, mainly because I wanted to crank this sucker out, and seed stitch slows me down.

And for the inevitable ponytail mornings:

Pattern: Calorimetry by Kathryn Schoendorf
Yarn and Needles: Noro Big Kureyon, US 9
Pattern Mods: Using a bulky yarn, I cast on 80 stitches, and only did the short row repeat 10 times. I actually knit this headband multiple times to get it just right, and each time, it only look about two hours to make. And yes, that is my yarn tail hanging down. I have not yet sewed on a button, so I tied it shut.

I often bristle at being a grown-up, but if being grown-up means I have cute hats and warm ears at the bus stop, then that's a good thing. It means that I no longer care what anyone else thinks of me, my hair or my hats, which is even better. Best, it means that no one else cares either, and if they do, well, then they are just so immature!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Scarf with the No. 20 Edging

It is done! Can you believe that I actually stated at one point that this would take me just a month to finish? It has been months and months. What was I thinking? I never seemed to get into a groove with the pattern and I realized, after tinking one too many times, that I just couldn't be around other people while knitting this border with this yarn on these needles.

I finished this during the football game Monday night (was I the only Redskins fan out there listening to the game on the radio and knitting Victorian lace?) and blocked it last night so that my friend Dana could borrow it for a fancy schmancy party tonight celebrating the new Luck Stone Building. She modeled it for me at R's preschool this morning at drop off.

So here it is.

Pattern: Scarf with the No. 20 edging from The Knitted Lace Pattern Book, 1850 from Victorian Lace Today by Jane Sowerby
Yarn: Sea Silk by Hand Maiden Yarn (about 1 2/3 skeins)
Needles: Knit Picks Options, US 8s

Modifications: I only knit the border pattern repeat 20 times instead of 22 since my gauge was different with this yarn and 20 times gave me close to the 72". Also, I may have misread the pattern but I did not purl one row after completing Chart B. If I eliminated this instruction, I was exactly where I needed to be when I began to pick up the stitches for the 2nd border. I'm not sure whether the pattern is wrong or I was. I only found one reference to this here. Any ideas about what I did wrong? It looks fine ...

This was a challenging project for me simply because the repeat was 20 rows (really 10 since the wrong side rows were all the same) and I found the yarn hard to read and the pattern difficult to anticipate. I assume that my tolerance for this will grow as I become more experienced with lace.

I used the suspended bind-off but needed to use a size 10 needle in order to keep it loose enough to match the cast-on edge. This is a perennial problem for me. I think I would maybe try a different bind off next time (maybe the modified Russian?).

The yarn is beautiful. I was concerned about the colors pooling since when I blocked it I noticed all the lighter pinks were more on one side the the darker blues and purples on another; however, as it dried this was less noticeable and when worn becomes irrelevant. The yarn is divine. Just divine. The colors are jewel-like and brilliant.

And the crocheted edging worked out grand as well. I fumbled around a bit at first ... how should I hold the yarn for the correct tension? what is that twisting motion again? But finally I remembered my few crochet lessons.

I have another lace project in my very near future, but for now I am simply happy to have this as a finished object!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Rosebud's First Cashmere

Single Skein September has not been nearly as productive as I had hoped. I have so far finished two single skein projects: the tipless mitts (thanks so much for the kind comments, BTW) and a beret about which I will blog later. My knitting has been scattered and a little frazzled, just like my life, thanks for the Back to School gauntlet of meetings, homework, practices, and getting dinner on the table at a decent hour.

Life has really changed in our home, as my daughter is now in school full-time, for the first time. She's also on a soccer team, and she's lost a front tooth. There's been a lot swirling around her, and so it seems appropriate that when I really had a chance to focus my knitting energy, I focused it on Rosebud's cropped cardigan.

This was actually designed as a stash buster, but only if you are willing to stretch the definition of "stash busting" to mean purchasing three new balls of yarn to make the majority of the piece. I've had the pink contrast yarn hanging around in my stash for almost a year now, and when I went to the yarn shop looking for a purple yarn to make a little sweater for my newly-obsessed-with-purple daughter, I spotted the same Louisa Harding Kashmir DK in a pretty deep lavender, the same as that pink single skein. I considered a pullover sweater, using the pink as a wide stripe detail, but I wanted to stick with the four balls of yarn I had and knew I was pushing the yardage for a full-sized sweater, thus a cropped cardi.

I began this project thinking I would make a top-down raglan, to maximize the yarn I did have. I could knit the bodice and the sleeves, and if I had any yarn left over, I could add length to the body of the sweater. However, I was just in love with this subtle little stitch pattern, and it was becoming a headache trying to figure out how to incorporate the stitch pattern neatly and symmetrically into the raglan increases. I ended up relying a bit on Ann Budd and made a modified-drop sleeve in pieces. I really don't mind seaming, and it was fairly to quick to knit the individual pieces.

The biggest challenge was adding an edging that didn't make the curved fronts all puckered or bulging. I originally planned a reverse-stockinette rolled edge (one of my favorites), and then attempted an applied i-cord, but neither worked. Instead, as I have been dabbling a bit in crochet, I thought I could add a ruffled edge that would sort of camouflage any weird flares. the fact that crochet eats yarn was not lost on me, because I really wanted to use all that pink yarn. I think the crochet is really cute, and it was much more forgiving as an edging.

As with most of my attempts at design, it isn't perfect. The shoulders are too narrow, and the sweater is just not quite big enough. My ease calculations were just a bit off, and I also realize that I did not account for selvages when determining my stitch counts. But designing for my daughter is just so forgiving. It still looks awfully cute on her, and she, as predicted, loves it.

Thankfully, you don't have to be perfect to be loved.

Monday, September 10, 2007


This is a project I wish I never made.

These are gloves for my friend Katie, who's father just died two weeks ago. I wish he didn't die. He had cancer, and while his death wasn't exactly sudden, it happened very quickly and unexpectedly, and no one was ready for him to die, including him.

I wish I was there to hold Katie's hand, the way she was there for me when I lost my own father three years ago. I wish I was there to drink coffee with Katie and drink margaritas with Katie and talk and cry with her.

I wish I could do more than send along a pair of handknit gloves, a proxy for my own hands, to comfort her. I wish I didn't know first hand how much little gestures like this can comfort the grieving.

The details for this project:
Pattern: Unisex Mittens from One Skein by Leigh Radford
Yarn and Needles: Cascade 220 (leftover from the CPH), US 6 & 7
Mods: I made the fingers tipless to ensure that they'll fit the recipient

Sunday, September 09, 2007

XRK Yarn-Along: Leaf Lace Scarf

Yarn-Along completed!

Liz and I acquired 4 skeins of Green Mountain Spinnery Sylvan Spirit for each of us and Mo at MDSW this past Spring. How would our projects diverge using the same yarn?

Initially, I wanted to try a short sleeve sweater with the Spirit, but then I read Liz's post on her experience with the yarn. No, no, no. That wouldn't do. Crunchy? Itchy? No way. Since Liz mentioned that she thought it would do for a simple shawl, I began to flip through some shawl patterns. I had never knit a triangular shawl before -- I was intimidated by the patterns: provisional cast-ons, endless repeats, and the dreaded yet all-important blocking.

Encouraged by Melanie and Stewart, my most excellent LYS buddies, I chose the Lace Leaf Shawl. What a perfect choice. This was easy. Easy. Easy. I couldn't believe how easy this pattern was. If you are looking to knit your first triangular shawl, look no further.

Pattern: Leaf Lace Shawl by Evelyn Clark
Yarn: Green Mountain Spinnery's Sylvan Spirit in Peridot, about 3.5 skeins
Needles: Knit Picks Options US 10.5, 32" circulars

Notes: I did not make any modifications to the pattern. I knit the DK size and completed 10 pattern repeats which gave me a medium size (the small was 7 pattern repeats and the large was 12). I probably could have done another pattern repeat, maybe two, with my yarn but I was ready to finish and wanted to be sure to have enough yarn.

The pattern is clear and easy to read. I am a chart person and I thought the charts were excellent although the repeats are easy enough to memorize quickly so I was never a slave to the chart. Even with lots of other concurrent knitting I was able to finish this in a few weeks -- and I am a slow, slow knitter.

The yarn behaved extremely well. (Read the excellent review here.) It was a joy to knit on 10.5s unlike the 7s that Liz was using (my 3.25 spi vs. her 5 spi). The color does become more beautiful when knit up -- with a silvery tone and flecks of yellow that are so hard for me to capture with the camera. The drape is divine, is this maybe the tencel? The shawl is light yet substantial feeling after blocking. It will become my favorite fall/winter/spring wrap (it was not perfect during the photo shoot in 90 degree weather!).

And what about the blocking? Did I have a recurrence of my aqualanophobia? After a nervous phone call to Melanie at The Yarn Lounge about blocking wires and the pinning process, I dunked this baby in lukewarm water, rolled it in towels, and then pinned it using plain old straight pins to my bed.

I kept gasping as I pinned, I really knit this?

I have never thought of myself as a shawl person. That has all changed! I can't wait for the temps to drop so that I can strut around town wearing this. Maybe I'll bring it to the grocery store so that I can drape it on me in the frozen food aisle ...

Fun, easy and extremely rewarding. What more could you ask for in a project?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Sometimes The Project Picks the Person

“So you know how yarn can pick the project?” says my wonderful friend Martha as she hands me the most beautiful washcloth. “Well, sometimes the project picks the person.”

Martha’s very cool daughter had declared that this washcloth was mine, not Martha’s, after it left the needles. Not one to interfere with the mysterious workings of the knitting universe, I accepted.

Washcloth ready and able to wipe off those flour fingerprints below ...

Yes, it’s true, this washcloth was destined to be mine. It looks stunning with my kitchen – the colors (She gave me the ball band, but I of course lost it. Is it Rowan?) playing off the warm, honey tones of the cabinets and contrasting with the green of the concrete counters. It is hard to get a picture of the washcloth dried because it is in almost constant use.

The colors are beautiful honeyed browns -- golden and caramel.

After a day of using it, The BackBou took me aside and said, “You know, you should knit more of these. This is great, somewhere in between a sponge and a towel. We could use a lot of these.”

Will do! I'm going out today to get my supply of washcloth yarn. Yippee!

Lovely gift #2 from Martha

And it turns out that another one of Martha’s projects picked me – a Swiffer cover. After I admired hers, she pulled one out of her desk and handed it over to me. She tells me that I’ll need two, so I’ll be starting my own soon. (They will come in handy with our sweet Luna.)

Watch out dog hair!

But will it stay with me or choose someone else?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Single Skein Update

I have a few takers for Single Skein September, my little KAL for people looking to make some quick single-skein projects. I set up a Flickr group here and a Ravelry group here. Come and join me there, and feel free to invite your friends! Post about your projects, ideas, and even pics of your single skeins.

For my first Single Skein project, I am using a leftover ball of Cascade 220 from my CPH to make the Unisex Gloves from One Skein. As they are for a gift, I am making them tipless gloves so they are sure to fit the recipient. I think this is only the first of many mittens and gloves you'll be seeing from me this month.

It might be a stretch to call this next one a Single Skein project, since it takes multiple balls of brand spankin' new yarn, but I've begun a bit of a design project for Rosebud. She picked out a lone skein of pink Louisa Harding Kashmir DK last fall for a hat, but the hat never materialized. She doesn't really need a new hat, but she does need a couple of new sweaters. Her fall wardrobe consists mostly of purple clothes (thank you, H&M Kids), so I am working on a purple cropped cardigan for her, and will use the lone, stashed skein of pink as a contrast edge. Doesn't that count?

I've had more than a few false starts this week, trying various shapes, from top down raglan, to bottom-up raglan, to set in sleeves and shrug-styled, but I think I have settled on a plan for a little round-edged bolero. This yarn has really stood up well to repeated froggings, and I am quite enjoying this cashmere/merino/microfiber blend.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

With Friends Like This...

My friend Aileen shops for me. She'll call me from Old Navy saying, "there's cute little black patent flats here for $10. You want me to pick up a pair for you?" Um, yeah! Aileen is a member of my knitting group, and last Spring, she went to a closing sale at an LYS, and managed to score 12 balls (6 black, 6 cream) of Baruffa Bollicina, a gorgeous but quite spendy cashmere/silk fingering yarn for 50% off. Was I interested? Um, yeah! This is the best kind of friend to have, isn't it?

At the time, I had been working with my sister-in-law, Karla, who had requested a lace wrap. Since I prefer to knit for others with their input on project, pattern, and color, she and I looked at multiple shawl patterns and shapes, and settled on the Shetland Triangle in goes-with-everything black.

Pattern: Shetland Triangle by Evelyn Clark, Wrap Style
Yarn and Needles: Baruffa Bollicina, US 5 Addi lace needles
Mods: I added additional repeats for the fir cone pattern.

I'm so lucky that Aileen picked this luxurious yarn up for me. It was the perfect substitute for this pattern. It blocked out into a lightweight but warm, very smooth and silky fabric, and is just what you would expect from a true luxury yarn. Karla will be thrilled to wrap up in it.

This is a very simple lace shawl to knit. I added a few repeats, and used just about all of 5 balls. I'm a little disappointed that, even though I went up several needle sizes for the last row and the bind-off, I still bound off tight enough that I didn't get any scallops and points. But with a black lace shawl, I think you have to walk that very thin line between classic and romantic and Italian grandma/witch costume, and I think having points along the edge of this shawl might have pushed it a little closer to the witch-side of the spectrum.

I was thinking it was going to be hard to give up this shawl, but really, having seen Karla's delighted reaction to the unblocked version, I am really going to enjoy giving it to her in its finished state. And I still have those balls of the cream Bollicina, which would make an incredible Swallowtail for me!