A holiday miracle!

oh no, it's just a hat.

Pattern: Vanilla Bean Hat (ie my own top-down pattern)
Yarn: Cascade 220 in grey and Elann Peruvian Higland Wool in Pumpkin
Needles: US 7 and 8 (4.5 and 5mm) 16" Addi Turbos
Date Started: 11.17.05
Date Finished: 11.24.05

It's finally done! And what happens when it's done? The weather warms up again. But that's ok, this will be worn soon, I'll make sure of that. With all my complaining, this hat really only took a few hours, it's just that I never sat down to focus on it except when watching animes with the boy. I think this was a big mistake because I left myself open (or was I stuck?) to get design ideas.

He's a very specific one, this boy. The original specs were tight, long enough to cover the ears, with a one inch wide orange stripe followed by 3/4" of grey. Mistake number one: I let him tell me when he thought it was wide enough. Boyfriend here doesn't understand the nature of knitted fabric or the concept of stretch; he made me increase a little too much since he thought the hat was small. stupid boy. The hat came out a little wide, not by too much, but this carried over to mistake number two: the hat was really long/low. All I needed to do was cut some eyeholes out and he would be the kid from Fat Albert. This wouldn't be too bad since he planned on rolling it, but it was too wide! I was very thankful for a washing machine. I just threw the hat and some Eucalan in hot water and let the machine do the work. Two cycles later, the hat is the perfect width and length. He can't complain about cold air touching his ears, damn hat is so thick. I did make a teensy third mistake, I knitted up a hem to stop the hat from rolling but in my Turkey and wine stupor forgot to whip stitch it before throwing it in the wash. Oops, he gets an extra orange stripe. The hat would be too short (for his tastes) without it, so really it can't count as a mistake, right?

In other news, I finished the first half of Backyard Leaves over the long weekend. This is one of those projects that you can use to impress everyone with your mad skills, if you are into that sorta thing. Anytime I whipped this out to quickly knit up a repeat I heard gasps and I could definitely sense some jealousy. Maybe not, but you weren't there so you don't know. I'm still in love with the pattern, which is a good thing since now I have to do the whole thing over again.

I'll most likely be stuck at the car dealership all day tomorrow and this little scarf will hopefully keep me in a good mood while I am being bullshitted. Let's just say I'm starting to hate cars, especially American ones.

eta: Carrie and I started a kal for Stef's new pattern for HipKnits. Neither of us has the yarn and probably won't start till after the holidays, so feel free to join us anytime to knit this little beauty. We can figure out yarn subs for the next month at least.


Feeling Better

and now I was somehow regulated to cleaning the house before we leave for the long weekend. Stupid non-existent maid! Anywho, I survived the ebola/sars/smallpox/polio/bird flu scare you all diagnosed me with and I even got to make some flan (don't ask) today for tomorrow's dinner. Now I have to get the important things packed up, namely what knitting projects get to come with me. I've noticed that anytime I say I'm going to knit while on vacation that, well, it never happens. hmm, I wonder if this time it will be different. Here's to hope. Backyard Leaves is making the trip up, so is the boring hat, the poor neglected elfine socks will get some attention, and I want to finish the second sleeve of the hourglass sweater. Even as I write this I know that I sound dillusional or naive. I'm probably both, but it's not going to stop me from packing all of this.

To distract you from my mental disorder, look! I won a blog contest! Marie, of Brooklyn Handspun, took a little survey and, somehow, yours truly was picked at random to get one of her handspun yarns. She surprised me by sending me an extra skein.

First, she spoils me by sending me over 100 yds of handspun and handdyedoptimum wool. This stuff feels like silk. I've sung the praises of optimum before, so I'm very excited about knitting this up. Any pattern suggestions? Maybe I'll sneak it into some socks or gloves, though for now it will just have to be a little pillow on my desk.

Anyone that reads this blog knows that I appreciate pink. Pink makes me smile. This crazy (in a good way) novelty merino and cotton is destined to become part of a funky hat or scarf, I just have to make a pattern up for it. Thanks again Marie!

In true procrastinator fashion, we aren't leaving till tomorrow. I won't be around though, so Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends!

ps you can get Brooklyn Handspun yarns at The Point as well, so stop by if you are around.


Bed Knitting

What does a knitter do when sick? Well, I like to complain and get a lot of sympathy from the bf, but I also like to knit a little here and there. This week's project? A lovely scarf for one of my knitting buddies. Five repeats into Backyard Leaves (from Scarf Style) and I'm loving the pattern. I have it basically memorized, so maybe I'm not sick but rather developing some sort of super-human powers. My powers did fail me at first though when I was reading both the RS and WS rows from right to left. Doh! I was wondering why I didn't see any leaves. Thankfully, I noticed what I was doing after the seventh row, so not much time lost there. To be honest, I thought this pattern would be a little trickier, especially when it comes with the foreboding warning that I should practice the slip-stitch border on a swatch. umm, why? Am I missing something here? I also found it useless to use stitch markers, this isn't the sort of pattern that you have a repeat x number of times in a row.

Knitting for another knitter can be tough though. Every knitter, I think, appreciates something handknit especially for them, so they are going to like it no matter what, right? Ok, maybe not. But the gift should still be something interesting or something they would knit for themselves, if their queue wasn't filled up or if they had the pattern. I'm not saying a pattern needs to be something overly complicated, but when it isn't you need to think about the other factors in the gift. Like I said, this pattern isn't incredibly difficult or customizable (other than length) which really makes my yarn choice the focus (for me!). Of course, I started to freak out, is the color right? Will she hate it? Will she never wear it? Is this her least favorite yarn? I had my heart set on using DB Cashmerino in a nice green, an apple green in fact. This is the closest I found. In the store it had hints of apple, I was told it was apple even, but this is one of those colors that just changes depending on it's mood and the lights it's under. To make matters more confusing let's look at Elizabeth's apple green here and here. Notice that in one it looks like mine and in the other it doesn't. What kind of voodoo did Debbie Bliss conjure up here? Fortunately, the giftee was happy with my choice so onward with the leaves.

eta: I'm making it sound like this pattern is oh so easy and perhaps boring. Far from it! I think the "easy" part comes from the pattern eventually becoming intuitive. Just by looking at the row below you can tell what you currently have to do. The pattern isn't so fussy that you get lost within the row either. Boring? Nope, no monotony setting in here. Each row is different enough to keep your attention, while the length of the repeats makes you feel as if you are constantly doing something new. I just happen to think that yarn and color choices are extremely important, especially when knitting for another knitter. BTW, one skein of DB Cashmerino can get you into the seventh pattern repeat easily.


A quick post for a quick knit

All that talk about knitting socks and a hat this weekend and ignoring holiday knits, well you can forget all that. To tell you the truth, there was almost no knitting done this weekend. Can you imagine that, a weekend without knitting?! (collective gasp!) I did work on the hat a bit last night since I kept getting the puppy eyes from the boy, but other than that all I have to show for my weekend is this super-mega-quick project.

City Shawl
Yarn: Suss Cousins Nubbly Wool/Acrylic
Needles: Addi Turbos 12mm (US 17)
Date Started: 11.09.05
Date Finished: 11.09.05

I told you this was a quick knit, of course I cheated a bit by using 17's vs 15's and I made the shawl smaller than suggested. I hope I made my calculations right since this is going to someone who is 5" tall on a good day and weighs maybe 90lbs soaking wet. I guess I'm asking you not to judge the shawl from my pictures, since it looks tiny on me and I'm sick (hence the weird pics with messy hair). My finished dimesions were around 3'x3' or 4'x3', do you think this will wrap around correctly on such a small person?

The pattern? A shawl in a day is always a winner with me. Who doesn't like instant gratification?! Especially when it's a x-mas gift. You could definitely crank out a few of these the week before x-mas and just make them all look different by the yarns you use. You could also adapt the pattern however you like since really there's only two "sections" you work in.

I can't stand the feel of chenille, so I used some random yarn that was in my stash. All I know about is that it's from one of those Suss Cousins' learn to knit kits, it's 50% wool/50% acrylic, and that I payed a dollar for the yarn alone. I think a dollar is on the high side with this yarn (it's from the purse kit apparently); at first it was soft and nice, but eventually my hands started to sweat and itch. Sweaty palms are sexy on no one, trust me. Just thinking about it is making my hands sweat again. I washed it and it feels a little better now, but I feel sorry for anyone who buys those kits for twenty dollars or more. I do feel kind of bad that I only spent a dollar and less than a day on this, so I'm sure I'll buy a pretty pin to go along with this. For now, I'm going to drink some tea to get over what I'm sure is the bird flu and perhaps make an appointment for a haircut.


C'est fini le crapotee

Pattern: Clapotis
Yarn: HPY lace pure wool triple stranded in Oceanos
Needles: 5mm (US 8) vintage plastic Boyes
Date Started: 11.09.05
Date Finished: 11.17.05

So does me finally knitting this mean this pattern is dead? Am I officially the last knitter that will work on this until it becomes retro and hip to knit it again? While knitting this I thought I would never finish it, section three became a black hole where I kept going and going and never seeing the end. It felt a lot longer than it actually took, I guess eight days isn't too bad. Not talking about it made things go faster, though I'm glad it's over!

There isn't too much left to say about this pattern right? I wish someone had warned me how monotonous this was going to get though. I've noticed that most people changed the number of increases and decreases, but, for some reason, I did the whole thing. My gauge was 5spi resulting in a long, warm stole, if not a shawl. Pre-blocking the measurements were 18"x58", but after washing it I was able to stretch it out to 20"x60-something" (my ruler doesn't go that long!). It's still drying, but I'm hoping it plumps up a little again. I'm just letting it dry flat on a towel, no pinning this time, which I think will help.

Since there's not much to say about the pattern, let's talk yarn. I was worried that using a worsted weight yarn would be too heavy and I'm glad I went with my instinct. Triple stranding the yarn helped me keep things light while still getting the size, drape, and warmth I wanted. Tripling also helped keep any true color pooling at bay. I had heard of a lot of people buying HPY lace, but I really didn't find anyone knitting it up yet (hoarders!). I'm glad to say that my yarn didn't reek of vinegar, wasn't wet, and wasn't felted. My skeins had a soft halo and the colors had a pretty sheen to them. The colors even matched what I saw on my monitor! I didn't see any color bleeding when I dunked le clap into it's bath. Actually, nothing really happened in the bath, the yarn basically came out the same (which is always a good thing).

On a side note, I switched from Eucalan to Kookaburra and can I say how much better I like it? The smell alone was better, it has a cool little measuring reservoir, and it felt like it was actually softening up the wool. Eucalan never really did anything for me and it didn't suds up enough to feel like it was really cleaning anything. Kookaburra gets my suds quota approval.

One gift done! I'll be taking a break this weekend to knit stuff up for moi until holiday knitting starts up again for mi mama. I'm sure I'll complain about how long that ones takes as well. Till then I have some socks and a boring hat to entertain me.


Halting progress

I've been getting hints lately from the old bf that he needs a new hat soon and I, like the nice girlfriend I am, have been ignoring them. I smile and nod and figure he can wait till 2006 or '07. The hints have been coming in more frequently and an unfortunate, self-inflicted haircut has made the matter more dire (he has since remedied the hair fiasco by cutting it all off). Apparently boyfriend here doesn't read this blog, is on crack, or a combination of both, how else do you explain him thinking I could add another project to the queue that isn't for me?

After the "haircut", I let him go through my stash and pick out some yarns he would like and was happy when I saw him look at more than one color. I started picturing a fair-isle or intarsia hat, earflaps even!

Nope, he just wants stripes and no earflaps. Ok, so simple ribbed hat? No, no ribbing...anywhere. I see.

So he kept going on with what he wanted. A straight stockinette hat, with two thin stripes knit with a tight gauge AND it has to cover the ears completely. No air should get through. umm ok

I'm thinking boring. I perked up though when I figured out this could be a good chance to try out some new technique. He keeps emphasizing where he wants the hat to hit, so why don't I knit the hat from the top down so he can keep trying it on? Top down? Then, why don't I try a new cast on? A hat is basically a big sock or an upside down bag right? This should be easy.

I know that I basically have to start with a certain number of stiches (8) and start increasing rapidly at first, each subsequent increase needs to get slower and slower till what I have covers the crown. From there I can just knit even till his majesty is happy with the length. The fun part is in picking out how I will cast on.

With my trusty scrap yarn, I first tried out the turkish cast on. As you can see, I didn't really get far into it. It got really annoying needing two circs and switching back and forth between them. I also didn't like how the cast on row looked so we moved on.

I then moved on to working with dpn's, with the idea that I would switch to a 16" circ when I had enough stitches. This could work, but I can't stand that hole in the middle. Sure I could just pull the yarn tight and close it or knit something to cover it, but I doubt boring boy wants some sort of pom-pom on top of his hat. Next!

Ah, my old best friends, figure-8 a la magic loop. That's the ticket. I don't know why I was denying myself, I knew this is how I wanted to do it. All I would have to do is pull those first stitches tight, no holes to hide or embellishments to add. hrm, it does look suspiciously like a sock though.

Here's a shout out to my Jewish friends. You can see a spiral pattern from the increases in this yarmulke, hrm, I mean hat. It must be working, I just have to get crack-boy to approve the gauge. I swear that if he was a knitter he would only knit socks. Very tight socks. On 1.5mm's.


I lied!

But I didn't mean to.

In my last post, when quickly explaining two socks at once, I said that you need to cast on for one sock, place that one on hold, and then cast on for the second one. Well, why? This really kept bugging me, why can't you just cast on for both at once? I didn't read a tutorial on this before I started, but Angela later found one here (toe-up, figure 8 co) and here (mostly about the heels).

It was bugging me so much that I decided to try it out. I grabbed two skeins of leftover yarn and some 5mm circs. They are 24" so the example isn't perfect, but it will do.

Alrighty, two skeins, one needle, and figure 8 cast on twice. So far so good. I had 24 sts per "sock". I was still worried though about the first two rows of knitting. How would the awaiting red sock do while I was knitting the top of the purple one? And how would both bottom rows handle just hanging out on the cord?

Guess what, it works fine! Two socks cast on at the same time: done. Admittedly not the most beautiful toes, I didn't tighten the stitches and I squished the two socks for the picture, but you get the idea. Now I wonder if this would work with a short row toe.

eta: Here is one of my favorite figure-8 cast on tutorials.


2 on 1

In a selfless act today, and in a way to ignore crap-o-tee, I casted on for the lovely Elfine socks. I have been thinking about these for months now and even picked up the yarn at Stitches.

That there is some lovely Nature's Palette in Mallard. And to avoid SSS, I'm 'magically' knitting both socks on one 40" circ addi. It's so nice that I don't need two needles for this!

Angela and I are doing a little knit together for these, anyone else want to join? My progress will be slow since I have gift knitting and the whole two socks at once thing. It's pretty easy to do, just cast on for one (I used a figure 8 co) and knit a couple of rows (I kept going till I increased to 24 sts on each needle). Place the first sock on a holder and then work up the second one to the same point as the first one. Transfer the first sock to the needles, making sure it's facing the same as the other one, and then knit like normal. So far so good! I have the toes done and I hope to work on the foot a little...if the guilt doesn't stop me.



There's been a lot of chatter lately on these here internets about continental and english knitting. I'll admit that there's even been some over here, behind the scenes of course. I learned to knit in the old (or really new) English*, Throw, American*, Right handed or whatever you want to call it method. I have no control of my left hand, so it only seemed natural to pick this method. I was led to believe if you were right handed, then you knit with your yarn to the right of you. I blame this biatch for this:

Look at her, gloating with all that knitting around her, she can't even believe it! She's drowning in it, she can't stop, and I don't even think her eyes are tracking to tell you the truth. She was the Debbie Stoller of my time. Ok not really, I just happened to learn to knit right before the whole 'knitting is so sexy and hip it hurts' wave and this little pamphlet was what I was given when dragged to some craft store. I'm digressing, anyway the crazy woman told me to knit with the yarn in my right hand and that's what I was did. Who's going to mess with her?

Months later I finally figured out that nope, it has nothing to do with what hand you write with, but rather just whatever method you preferred at the time of learning. I still thought nothing of it really, why would I when I was always getting gauge and nice even knitting throwing**, oh, and I wasn't pissing the crazy woman off. Blogging changes everything though, you get to peak into people's lives and see how many projects they get done and how quickly. I thought I was pretty fast until I realized I wasn't cranking out two sweaters a month or a shawl a week. All these people must be continental knitters for sure, that's the only way I can explain it (after weeding out the big needle knitters and the stay at home and knit all day knitters). Never one to be out-done, I researched this 'other way' (continental, german*, picking, left-handed, what have you) and read all about how great, fast, and superior it was. I love efficiency and if this was going to make me a speed-knitter I had to make a change.

I've been sneaking in the continental method in my knitting here and there. The Jaywalker sock has some in there, the BMC as well, and that kid hat was all done continentally. With the crap-o-tee I've been knitting and purling by picking (I wasn't purling in the other projects) and to be honest I'm not that impressed. Have the continentalists been lying this whole time about how great they are? I don't know, I'm just one person damnit, but my answer is a maybe. Is either method superior to the other? I doubt it. Continental knitting looks prettier since there are less movements, but I tend to get a tighter gauge, while with English I always get gauge on my first try**. Purling sucks ass either way, but I found that purling was/is just really messy with picking. I rather throw than pick since I'm a faster thrower (by two seconds per stitch). I also heard that continental is better to avoid carpal-tunnel-syndrome, but my right wrist hurts so much more while picking than by throwing. Am I going to switch? Well, the boyfriend all of a sudden thinks that I'm knitting correctly, since to him I'm "kniting without moving". He swears that I've been wrong for the last three years and now he's actually impressed. Why do I knit if not to impress, so I'll stick with the picking for knits and throwing for purls (unless I don't get gauge, then I'll throw!).

*I find it interesting that the methods are divided by who fought the WW's. If you are a patriot, then knit with your right hand damnit!

**Purly and I seem to have the same gift from god. I believe that this is a Highlander situation where there can only be one and why we must sadly live on different coasts (or else one would have to decapitate the other, can you tell the bf has made me watch crap movie?).


Buried Under Yarn

I've been a procrastinator my whole life. I get everything done, at the last minute. The last time I got things done quickly was the day I was born, my mom almost had me in the car and the whole deal took less than half an hour (of course, maybe my parents were the procrastinators then). Now, there are different types of procrastinors. There are the lazy, half-assed ones; they were late with everything and still failed or just didn't care. The middle of the road procrastinators; they would procrastinate, would get scared and do everything before it was too late. Then there are the master procrastinators, this is where I am. We live on the edge, laugh at deadlines, yet somehow find the most efficient way of doing things and got A's for our little effort. Did I tell you that I turned in my Senior Paper a week after it was due (and a week before graduation)? Why work on my paper all semester and stress out when I can write it in one night and have the Proff love it? I heart efficiency.

I'll admit though, sometimes I was really under pressure and the stress would get to me. In graduate school I swore to change my ways and turned in my thesis paper a month or two before the semester was done. Last month I had this genius plan to start my holiday knitting, but somehow that didn't happen. Deciding what to knit took a while (and a couple of consultations with my mom) and the yarn took forever to get here. That old stress from college is sneaking up on me.

This mess is some of the yarn that will magically turn into gifts. Right about now I wish I knew that old water into wine trick. A knitting machine would be nice. Or I would love a knitting staff of my own to boss around. Actually looking at it laid out like this, it isn't going to be that bad. I'm sure I'll be done in time, though there may be a sacrifice or two (the boy's sweater). Want to see the world's most boring progress shot?

This is the first gift I got started on this week. It's a crap-o-tee for Ms. I-really-want-grandkids. This is at the boring end of the second section, so apparently I'm at the fun part where I get to drop stitches. I can't believe I got suckered to knit this (aren't I a year late to ride this wave?). The bf picked out the color (oceanos from handpaintedyarns) and I really hope the color breaks up a little more after there are some ladders in there.

You know what? I was wrong, this is the world's most boring progess shot. In a totally selfish move I cast on some thigh-highs for me. Actually, that's the start of a sleeve for the old Hourglass (yet another bandwagon I'm jumping on). What can I say, it's getting cold and I need a sweater. I figure I could knit the sleeves while watching TV and work on Clapotis all the other time. Also, since I'm messing with the gauge all I have to rip is one sleeve if I totally hate it.


Bulky Mini Cardigan

Pattern: Bulky Mini Cardigan
Yarn: Bulky 6-ply Merino in emerald and some random Italian wool (Botto Poala) in chocolate brown
Needles: US 11 and 9 Addi circs (8mm, 5.5mm)
Date Started: 10.16.05
Date Finished: 11.07.05

This was an enjoyable knit through and through and I'm sure that it will quickly become one of my favorite knits (I haven't taken it off since I took the picture). The dates are misleading, I ran out of yarn before I finished the sleeves and I had to wait for it to arrive (and I only ended up needing one ounce of yarn!).

I modded this pattern just a bit (out of necessity though). I couldn't achieve the required pattern gauge, so I changed the pattern to fit my gauge (3.5spi vs 2.5spi). This really just means multiplying the pattern with my stitch ratio and trying it on a few times before I split the sleeves. It also means making sure the decrease were hitting in the right spots. I shortened the sleeves by a few rows and I knit them in the round (magic loop). I also knit a half size, if that makes any sense. I think I could have gone even smaller, I like my sweaters small and I've lost a few pounds since I started this. I'll keep this in mind the next time I knit this.

The pattern is well written and is definately quick to knit. I can see myself using it as a mold to make a full-size cardigan. The merino is extremely soft and warm, perfect for this slow starting fall. I don't feel like I'm wearing something heavy, though I'm nice and toasty when I go out. The bf picked out the buttons while we were in Boston when I dragged him to Windsor Button. Now he thinks himself fashionable because he can match colors.

Back and rested

And posting should be back to normal. I won't bore you with vacation details, but I am uploading all the pics right now on flickr if you are interested. To sum it up: there wasn't much knitting done, we somehow became morning people, Boston was nice until a bird crapped on me (stupid bird!), Sudoku took up our free time, Providence is kinda boring, the whole vacation was great, but at the same time it's nice to be home.

phew, ok now on to knitting. Like I said I didn't do much knitting while away. I had good intentions, I packed three projects up, but for some reason I just never whipped them out. I did manage to finish a couple of things in the car ride back, nothing too exciting though.

Pattern: Elf Cap from Handknit Holidays
Yarn: Rowan Ribbon Twist
Needles: Addi US 17 circs
Date Started/Finished: 10.27.05

I like to test a book by finding an "easy" pattern and knitting it up to see how the pattern is written and if there are any mistakes. So far so good. It was hard to pick a hat since almost every hat in the book looks the same (ie pointy top with or without earflaps). This was a quick, fun pattern though I wouldn't have chosen this yarn if I had any other bulky yarn in my stash (the ribbons look a little weird to me). This hat must have taken an hour to knit so definately a good choice for the gift giving season. Will I ever wear this? I'll keep you updated on this front.

Pattern: My own
Yarn: Diakeito Diamusee
Needles: US 7 dpns
Date Started/Finished: 11.05.05

I should name this hat "the bf's mom really wants grandkids earflap hat". I originally intended on this being an adult hat, but little old me didn't realize how many stitches I casted on or rather how many I didn't cast on. As I was knitting this in the car, I wondered how small/big my head really was and thought I was going crazy. I knew it wouldn't fit, but I kept knitting anyway because it was really cute and I loved how the colors and stripes ended up. It's a really sweet hat for a kid. Do I know any kids? Nope. Do I plan on having kids any time soon? NO! Apparently the BF's mom didn't get this memo; when she saw the hat she said "aww what a cute kid hat! We'll save it and in a couple of years I'll remind you to take it out for a little someone". WTH! What little someone? I really hope there's a midget or elf in the family that I don't know about it.

Poor woman, she doesn't know that neither one of us wants one of those "kids". Nope, don't want any of that. I just smiled back and stuffed the hat in my bag. Any chance she'll forget about it? The best part was telling the bf about what his mom said. I think he threw up a little and then went into shock for a little while.

Anyway, if you like the pattern then email me and I can send it to you (though I still need to type it out).