Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Beret tales

I finished the beret. My head measures 22", so I decided to make the larger size (22.5") and do an extra round of decreases, which should have made it fit. And I was on gauge. But I think one has to make the beret significantly smaller than one's head measurement.. anyway, the 19" would have fit. The one I made, well..

It looks vaguely "hobo cute," I'll concede (sorry about the photo quality, it was dark this morning), but if I move as much as an inch, it slides off. :-)

I have enough yarn to make another one in 19". So the question is, should I felt this to size (I think this yarn will felt just fine), or find someone who might like it with a bigger head? I think my head is not small, but.. head size is just not one of those things you stand around and compare with others, so who knows?

Monday, January 29, 2007

I get distracted.

Deliberate distraction, in this case, from the fact that I have to frog all that painfully-executed star stitch on Big Star. If it were just the hole... Well, I might have spent an hour figuring out how on earth to redo that. But it's also the fact that it's pretty clear it needs a cable cast-on, not my lazy-man's long-tail. And that I wanted the contrasting-color vertical edging to be wider. So... all things considered, I'll be joining trek's Frog Party. But I need a break first, and some success.

In the meantime, I've been working on my Clapotis, and, because I really needed another item on the needles ;-) , I started a beret from some handspun Romney wool my friend Sarah got me at the Farmer's Market near her in New York. It's very 'classic' wool, slightly scratchy but very pretty colored — kind of a tweedy blue with bits of purple and red in it — so I decided a hat that wouldn't touch the skin would be best, and I found the Tweed Beret patten I'm using in an Interweave Knits (I forget which one, it's at home). I made good progress this weekend:

Almost done! But this wool is wacky. As I knit, the loose wool curls itself up into tight little twists, kind of like what you can see on the left side of this image:

You spinners out there, is this what is called putting too much twist on the wool? I also noticed a number of broken places in the yarn, though it felts together again so I'm not too worried. It interested me, though.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

!@#$(!@*#!!!!$*($*#@(#$ poo.

Last night I was purring merrily along with the first stockinette row of Big Star, when I saw A Hole. You know, one of those deadly, dratted ones, several rows back in my knitting. (I was too traumatized to photograph it.) In the star stitch section.

I dropped stitches back, but...
So, crap. I haven't the foggiest idea if I'm going to be able to fix this one. It's one thing to drop stockinette, quite another to drop star stitch. But I shudder at the thought of ripping back 2/3 of the star stitch rows and redoing them. My hands are still swollen from round one!

I'm soothing myself with Clapotis:

I realize that some people [you know who you are!] hate this colorway, but I love it, and even if you didn't love it you could close your eyes and just enjoy the silk/wool combo running through your fingers. Sundara Silky Merino DK. Ahhh. It's balm to the soul AND the hands. I'm making good progress on reknitting since the great ripping.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

It kicks my a--

Knitting Star Stitch in linen/cotton yarn, that is. Man it hurts.

It's really pretty, though. And, washed, linen/cotton knits have fantastic drape and wear like iron. Stockinette isn't nearly so painful, so the rest of Big Star shouldn't be as bad.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Ting stmiccture.

I had sworn to myself that I would not allow this month's credit card balance to go over a certain amount (I do pay it off monthly). Then I saw that Araucania Nature Wool and Araucania Magallanes are on closeout at Webs. When you check the prices, do note the yardage. Most of you will be able to get a sweater out of 8 or fewer balls. I looked at my credit card balance; I was already $20 over my personally set 'limit'.

Yeah, and I can't stay on a food diet either... I bought enough Nature Wool (grey and green) for two sweaters (designing them now!) and enough Magallanes (red/pink and turq/yellow) for two pairs of mittens which I don't need.

This, however, I bought for a reason:

I have actually been asked to knit a couple of pair of fingerless gloves. These are both purple, and both lovely, though the Rowan Designer DK outsaturates the gorgeous part-alpaca Khroma DK. I had no suitable purple in my stash. In fact my stash makes it painfully obvious that green and brown are my favorite colors.

The best reason to cut down on yarn is my swiftly shrinking storage space, so what I need to do is finish up some current projects. I'm making good headway on the Clapotis and hope to be able to show you something tomorrow. I've also spent a lot of time today finishing up Grasslimb: polishing up layout, proofreading, getting it ready for the printer.


Just one highlight of a manual that came with one of Rob's multi-testers. No more than a novel style, indeed. Ting stmiccture.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

A few things are clear...

I mean, aside from the poor state of my cuticles:

1) My cast-off looseness varies from day to day. (That is, I'm a loose woman, but there's no guaranteeing just how loose. ;-) )

2) Wool gloves are warm. Yay!

3) There is no way these gloves are going to fit the man they're intended for (my cousin's husband). He has very slender hands, and these are baggy even on me, thus ensuring that...

4) There is no way these gloves are going to fit me, either.

Will I frog?
Will I finish the other glove?
We'll see.
Will I do the mitten tops?

But I figure they'll fit someone, someday, and meantime I'm enjoying the knit too much to stop. There is nothing quite so cute and baby-porcupine-like as knitting the fingers on this thing, with two needles holding stitches, three more around the finger on which I'm working, and a sixth in my hand. Pokey!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

So expensive. So worth it.

I've been swatching, as you know, for the Big Star cardigan.

And I just haven't been all that happy. Okay, it's cotton/linen, which sucks to knit. And I could come sort of close to gauge. Somewhere in the neighborhood, ya know. But I tried two different needle sizes and was still not quite there. And I didn't like the way the needle slipped through the fabric. I was using my Inox circs, which I normally love. I wasn't dropping stitches. But something made me think the needle was just... too slippy. Because the gauge swatch was just...
too sloppy.

I had a yen.
For wood.

Now I hate bamboo needles. Sometimes when I've needed more grip, I've actually used the Susan Bates colored aluminum needles, but that just didn't seem quite right for this. So what?

Ah. I heard the siren song of Lantern Moon.

US #6 24" ebony circs. Not so hot for the star stitch, I have to admit; not pointy enough. I'll probably still use the Inox for that bit. But all of a sudden, I've got gauge, I've got a nice firm fabric with decent drape and no slop, and it feels fabulous to knit. $23, which feels insane, but worth every darn penny.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

It's sort of still Tuesday

I said I'd post today, but it's been busy. I had band practice tonight, which went really well (lots of new stuff! I love that), and then I had a bit more work to do. Covering (to some extent) for four people at work is a bit crazed, though I am still enjoying my job. It'll just be more or less frantic for about three months.

I started this Broad Street Glove on New Year's Eve weekend, amid the melée of house guests (I don't think I entirely exaggerate. Ok, well, maybe I do). It didn't get past the wrist until this past weekend, though.

It's now humming along. If it works out, I think I'll make three pair — two for the folks whose wedding gift they're destined to be, and one for me! Yet another use for sock yarn.

And remember this? Remember how I said I had to frog back to the turn because I didn't have enough yarn?

It's been turned into this:

Not the color change — I photog'd this last at night, crap lighting. Just the horrible shrinkage in rows. I frogged 1.5 balls of yarn, out of 2 knit. That hurt, but at least it's done.

I find this type of frog needs a good night's sleep before contemplating. Then a deep breath. After it's over, it doesn't feel so bad. Let's hope I get the math right this time!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Long weekend...

MLK day is great for all kinds of reasons, though I do tend to feel the government does lip service to equality. (However, I do not mind the day off of work!)

The weekend has been good in some ways but hard in others; after a memorial service for someone special on Saturday, we spent yesterday driving to LA to visit my grandmother. Each time I see her, I think it's the last visit. She is tenaciously hanging on to life, but she's fairly weak, now. I did a lot of knitting on the way up and back. Though this grandmother doesn't do crafts, she likes to see me doing them.

It's been cold for SoCal, going well below freezing at night and either damaging or killing some of the plants I didn't manage to cover. I am kitted out in hand-knits, with my baby camel Fetching fingerless mitts and thick wool socks on my feet. I decided to try to use up some of my stash, and I needed a new pair of leg warmers — I sleep in them on nights I sense a calf cramp coming on, and it successfully prevents them. My old pair is a threadbare grey acrylic pair from the '80s, and I felt I really deserved some wool ones.

I had a bunch of Peruvian Collection Highland Wool in my stash, in a somewhat unpleasant yellow-pea green (the color looks far better in these photos than in reality!), that I'd bought off deStash from a woman who had thought it was going to be a different shade of green than it was. So did I. However, it's soft and warm, and no one sees my leg warmers (well, except on here) but Rob, and he does not care.
My own pattern, i.e. measure your leg, 2x2 rib for a while, then some stockinette, than various ribs to keep from getting bored and to make the warmer cling to the thinner part of the calf approaching the ankle. I used #5 DPNs for the rib, #7 DPNs for the stockinette. Started Friday night, finished Sunday. For a 40-cm/15.75" calf at largest point I cast on 64 stitches with 4.5 spi. This was, however, too big:

so if you have a slightly larger calf than mine, this would likely be perfect. These are comfy but don't stay up, so I'll probably pick up and knit a tighter rib around the top.

I am also working on a mitten pattern for some SoHo in my stash (plus some more of the Highland Wool).

(And also some Broad Street Gloves/Mittens, but more about them in the next post. Gotta save something for Tuesday!)

Friday, January 12, 2007

Fast FO!

Bulky yarn sure does knit up fast. The color's wack, here, because I forgot and left the camera set on 'cloudy' instead of 'sunny', and I didn't block it yet, but I've used up all of April's generous yarn donation now, and got to use up the strange furry yarn, too, and I have two neat little vests for Mongolian kids that await only buttons! Yay.

Even better (for me), the Green Wing TV special arrived in the mail yesterday, so we get to watch it tonight, finally, 8 days after my UK buddies have seen it. Can't wait!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Ooh, la souris de tricotage!

I have no idea if Google got that translation right. But check it out, is this deserving of excitement so thorough it becomes French, or what? It's the fabulous freezer-paper-stencilled bag that the ever-so-talented Elinoire made for me for Hanukah. Woo, I am lucky!

Here is the little mouse knitting away:

Here she is wearing her finished sweater. What finery!

I'm already using it to store a knitting project, this one the start of some mitred squares in cotton/acrylic as a baby blanket. No actual baby in mind for this one as it'll probably take a long time. I LOVE knitting project bags and every one I own is in use. This is SO CUTE!

Just to prove I'm still doing actual knitting, here is most of the second child's vest from April's yarn. I messed up and did the armhole in stockinette instead of my planned garter. I'll pick it out and fix it later. And ooh, yes, that is Jen's marvellous entrelac bag that I'm storing it in!

This is me swatching linen/cotton for the adult Star Stitch sweater:

Monday, January 08, 2007

At last I can brag!

My favorite FO of 2006 had to remain a secret because it wasn't yet gifted. FINALLY it has reached its destination, the Elinoire. This is the Forest Canopy Shoulder Shawl by the incredibly talented Susan Pierce Lawrence. I love her beautifully-written patterns. This was easy and fun, and I really learned a lot about lace. It's knitted on Sundara's sock yarn (this was Petals Club yarn for I think September, and absolutely gorgeous). I was able to do about three extra repeats, but though it's longer than specified, it's about the same width. (I think this is because the yarn's finer than that suggested.)

Here are some photos of it before and after blocking:

As you can see, blocking made autumn leaves start to fall. Just like in the song. It also turned grass into moss! Told ya that blocking is magical.

And here it is in the wind:

And on the back of Elinoire, where it belongs (though this photo fisheyed, and hence distorts the lovely Elinoire's body unfairly, so please just look at the shawl!):

Just wait until you see what she gave me!! Pictures tomorrow. I had dilated eyes during daylight hours today (eye exam) and couldn't take a photo :-( and her gift deserves natural light.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Yarny gifts

(Before I say anything else, note that I just converted this blog to the new GoogleBlogger format. Let me know via valerie [at] valeriepolichar [dot] com if you run into trouble with commenting, etc.)

I gave my friend S. her fingerless gloves for her birthday, and she seemed pleased. Amusingly, she gave me a yarn gift! So we said we had conservation of yarn. This is from a woman at her local farmer's market, who has a sheep dairy:

It might want to be some mittens, I'm thinking...

Friday afternoon I came home to a surprise: the fabulous April had sent me some goodies!

When she found out I was doing Dulaan knitting a couple of months ago, she had promised to send me some bulky yarn she'd bought but didn't like knitting with. I didn't expect to ALSO get yummy cookies (Hob Nobs for Rob, tee hee), a great vest pattern to use with the yarn, and two, count 'em, two pair of Addi Turbos (you knitters know how generous a gift that is!). As you can see in the picture above, I started on a vest right away.

I finished the vest this morning. I ran out of yarn, because my gauge is a bit off I think, and so I ended up single-crocheting the armholes instead of ribbing them. The little pile of fluff is the leftover yarn — just the snippings off my end trims. All the longer bits had to be used to finish the underarms. I felt so economical! And some young girl will be happy to have a pretty warm vest.

I don't like knitting with bulky yarn myself; the first few rows hurt your hands, and then it just doesn't have the interest for me that finer yarns do. But there is no denying that it's ideal for charity knitting; it makes very thick, warm garments for people in cold places. I had committed to do five Dulaan knits by July 2007, and I only finished one so far, so April has really helped me on my way.

I pondered what to do about the second vest, since I knew I was low on yarn. Then I remembered that I had a Weird Ball in my odd balls box. Weirder than the rest. I ordered it from Webs a while back, confusedly thinking I was ordering an entire bag of yarn. I actually only got one ball. And it didn't look anything like I expected. It was — weird. It was on sale, so I couldn't return it.

But the color coordinated well enough with the pink/grey yarn that I thought it would make a cute fuzzy trim that might please a child while keeping her cozy. Here we go, Muppet Vest!

Friday, January 05, 2007


Pattern is posted in PDF format on the right. Let me know if you need it in HTML. It's not even proofread yet, so expect booboos. I'm going to try to test knit a second sweater to it.

I did a lot of thinking and reading the many comments (thank you!). I was, originally, thinking of a Star Stitch collar myself. I spent some time playing around with swatches after seeing your comments. But in the end, I'm voting no, for several reasons:

1) It's a summer sweater. Extra bulk is not so desirable here.

2) A Star Stitch collar would cover up the back panel and saddle shoulders completely. I'd kind of feel sad about this.

3) The 1x1 rib at the front edge is nice and thick; with a collar sewn to it, it feels like it would be too bulky. (I had also considered a bit of attached i-cord, but the edge is so neat that it would be unnecessary.)

I think I'd use a different structural design — probably raglan to avoid seams, and no saddle or back patch — if I were going the collared route on this. I might play around with options on the adult size sweater. Because yeah, I can't help myself. I love the Star Stitch enough to try an adult version!

Thanks again for all your input, and sorry to those who voted yes on a collar. But hey! You can always add one!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Am I done?

I'm looking at this little thing and it seems like it might actually be, ya know, finished.

Maybe. I didn't do a collar.

Should I? I could be persuaded either way.

Sorry about the color in this picture. It's 10 p.m. but I just finished steam-blocking and I'm all excited.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Making progress...

I'm chugging along on my first properly-written-up pattern (I can't say my first design, because I made up and knitted a couple pair of socks, but they're rather basic and I didn't write them down). This is a design for a light-weight cardigan for a newborn, for babies born in spring or summer. (This one is for a February-due baby, but this is southern California.)

It has the Star Stitch trim on cuffs and waist, a Star Stitch panel on the back and Star Stitch saddle shoulders. It'll tie with i-cord ties at the front. But I have no idea what to do about a collar yet — opinions welcome.

A close-up of some of the parts (note I haven't blocked anything at all yet) so you can see how the Star Stitch stuff works close up:

This is a sleeve, showing the Star Stitch cuff and the saddle shoulder. I might need more of a curve on the shaping at the top, but it's workable as is.

This is the front before sewing on the saddles. The opening edge is a 4-stitch 1x1 rib, which makes a lovely thick edging with a neat look and feel.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Resolutions? Well, maybe not.

I've never been one for New Year's resolutions, in much the same way as I'm not one for diets (alas). Tell me what to do, and I immediately rebel. That works exactly the same if I tell myself what to do. But I, a generally cheerful individual, had a crap and blue 2006 and I really do not want to repeat the experience. So instead of resolutions, here are a few things that I hope I can keep in mind during 2007:
  • As panicked as I seem to feel when I have many social activities going on, I always end up having a good time.
  • Conversely, when I know I really need time alone, it is okay to simply state that this is what I need.
  • I would be really, really happy if I recorded more music in 2007, and my voice gets better when I use it.
  • I would be really, really happy if I actually finished my second novel, and the first one wasn't all that hard when I broke it down into tiny chunks.
  • It is okay to take the time to read a book. I don't have to be productive every second.
...and of course...
  • No matter what cookie I may be eyeing, it is not the last cookie I will ever see.
  • Really.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Woohoo, I already like 2007.

Last night we had our signature New Year's Eve party. A little smaller than in some years (~45 people), but I had a grand time. Much strange punch was drunk by all. I imbibed an unusual amount of champagne. What appeared to be a Strong Bad "Wave o'Babies" was really only three, but they were rambunctious. The last guests left around 4, and we were all very silly.

Today we went hiking in the Blue Sky Canyon Ecological Reserve (even the name is pretty!), despite 5 1/2 hours of sleep. It was beautiful. I didn't take my camera, though, and just enjoyed.

Happy New Year. May your 2007 hold many grand adventures, and countless excuses for champagne.