Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I can hear that whistle blow.

I'm about to go on vacation for a week and a half — via Amtrak :-) Train travel is something I get a bit misty-eyed about — I love it — even with all the attendant delays, cancellations, tiny beds etc. We'll go to Portland for a couple of days, then to the Bay Area for a few more, then home. It's a good trip for someone who's not 100% well, as we're basically going from meal to meal visiting people (we're trying to see 15 sets of people in six days while we're in the Bay Area) and not trying to do anything that requires effort. Well, more effort than digestion.

I've packed up a bunch of knitting — probably too much, but how do you choose?

I've once again started the Secret Yarnination (sweater for Rob), only this time he knows I'm doing it. So far I've made three arms and screwed them all up. I guess it'll be a sweater for a deformed octopus. But it's lovely soft yarn.

Have a wonderful week or two, all! Thanks for all the kind comments on my Drop-Stitch Cardi — I'll be wearing it daily, I'm sure, as I travel.

And now I go back to poring over the Pennsylvania primary results. Er, of course I mean packing...

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Belated photo

I've barely taken it off all week. This photo was taken before I'd tacked down the top of the zippers, which I did before wearing it in public for the first time.

I know it'll pill, but it's megasoft... I definitely recommend the yarn. And the pattern.

I've had a hair cut and dye since then, but I wanted to get something up and out there. And you guys aren't here to look at me, after all... you want the FO :-)

Go FO go!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Zip it, lady!

I finished the Drop-Stitch Cardigan from IK Fall 2005! It took all of 11 days. It's blocking right now, but I'll show you pictures in a few days when it dries. The cardi was very easy to knit, and the pattern worked well. It's clearly the best-fitting sweater I've made yet. I knit the 43.5" version and hit gauge (well, I did use the suggested yarn, which always helps). Over my clothes, this is about .5" of negative ease over the bust.

But I've never put in a zipper before. It took me almost a full afternoon to do this! Well, partly because I'm not really well, but still. It was hard work.

I had instructions from the IK issue and from KnitPicks, who have some nice tutorials on their new community site. The KnitPicks tutorial is more nicely written and has some excellent tips, but the IK instructions actually seemed like they'd give a more finished result, so I basically followed IK but used some of the KP ideas. And I added a dollop of my own — with mixed results.

My first idea: sew the front i-cord bands shut so that I could place the closed zipper. This turned out not to work out well, because it didn't account for the fact that a negative-ease sweater is going to pull at the opening a bit.

Then I turned it over and placed the zipper on the WS. I pinned it in place, matching every 10 stitches on each side with a pin, then basted with thick white thread:

Then I pulled out the yarn holding the front shut, unzipped the zipper and tried it on. It looked fine (even and all that), but it gapped (showed the zipper) more than I wanted. So in the end, I barely used all that pinning and basting, as you'll see.

First I stitched down the edge of the zipper to a column of knit stitches on the WS. Because I wanted the zipper to be set in more, I tugged at it a little and stitched to the far side of the column of which I'd previously lined the zipper up with the near side. Er, I'm not sure the grammar is right in that sentence, but basically I originally had lined the edge of the zipper up with the outside left edge of the column. Now I stitched to the middle of the right edge, instead, to drag the zipper to the right. I took out the pins as I went; the basting allowed me to tug the zipper a little (it had enough give) while keeping it in place vertically.

Next I took out the basting, pushed the teeth of the zipper a bit more to the right, and sewed the zipper in place with a running stitch that went all the way through to the front. I sewed close to the teeth and with relatively small stitches, though I could have done better.

I was worried at this point — would it gap? pucker? lie all bumpy? show the zipper after all?

But no. It was ... just right. Goldilocks style:

This was just the look I wanted.
I was so happy I almost did a little jig, but instead I just sat down and had a nice rest before blocking. Rob wondered at my wearing my new sweater in 90+ degree weather. :-)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Things look up.

First of all, a quick little mention about one of my blogreaders, Sarah the fabulous potter. She has the cutest baby — go check him out. Anyway, I ordered a pump bottle from her (a birthday present to myself), and it arrived last week and it's beautiful (my photo can't do it justice, it's just luminous). And it works beautifully for dish soap.

You might want to check out her pottery site (linked from her blog)... Maybe you need one too.

Speaking of birthdays, age 43 is going to be good. I'm certain of it.

First of all, I thought everyone had forgotten my birthday because I usually throw a big party on my birthday, and I wasn't healthy enough to do that this year. But no, they hadn't! First I got to work and Elinoire had prepared these fancy cupcakes for me (I took a photo on my phone, but my phone is refusing to mail me the photo). They tasted as great as they looked, or even greater. And then another employee brought me a huge bouquet of gorgeous, great-smelling flowers (the photo is also stuck on my phone).

Then I got a call from my doc, who put me back on the good antibiotic for another month. Trust me, this is a good thing. I want to feel better, and the one I was on wasn't working. And she helped get me in to the specialist sooner, so I can see him next week.

Then Rob got me a million cool presents. Really more than I can even remember!, but they included things like the ultimate Bladerunner collection (all the versions!), some Henry Rollins books, a cool light-up necklace, and and an awesome device that lights the ceiling with travelling laser stars.

Also, just to prove he totally rocks, he got me Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitting Around and a gift certificate for Patternworks. Teh cool!

Last night we went to see Laurie Anderson's "Homeland" show in Los Angeles, and though I got very tired, that was great, too. Actually the tickets were one of my presents to Rob for his birthday, but the show coincided with the day after my birthday so that was convenient.

Finally, today I got in the mail my new care labels:

I picked out these four as being most applicable to my knitted things. I ordered these from Nwtag.com, as they were cheaper than anyone else and had more options. I faxed in my order on I think Tuesday this week, and they arrived today (Friday). You can't beat that!

I got 250 EACH of these labels. That's way more than I need. Anyone reading this blog, if you want any of these, tell me which ones (or say "all 4") and send me a paper mail address and I'll send you 10 of each. Just email me at valerie {at} grasslimb {dot} com.

I'm really pleased with these and think they'll help folks who get items from me as gifts. I'd better learn to hand-sew more neatly, though!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Does it fit? Does it fit?

I'd read in a few places on Ravelry that the arms of this sweater were tight, and I'm not the slimmest of individuals, so I suddenly decided that I wanted to know if the sleeves were going to fit. The sleeves were all dry, so... time for mattress stitch!

I already knew I didn't want to seam with the yarn I was knitting with. Too thick; bulky seams are never nice, and if of course they further tightened the arms I'd be in trouble. I looked at the effect of the knitted fabric, and decided the overall color was kind of a smoky blue-grey. I decided to use some Araucania Nature Wool in a smoky blue-grey — the one I am supposed to be using to knit that Vandyke stitch cardi I started a million years ago. There's plenty to spare, so I figured it wouldn't hurt. The color is a bit light, but this is, after all, supposed to be an invisible stitch. And I like the weight and how it works out with this yarn.

Then I tried the arms on to see if they fit. This is a bad attempt at me trying to show you that I can, indeed, get the arms on:

The arms are the right length — yay for holding my breath and knitting them an inch shorter than the pattern called for. I have shrimpy arms. It's definitely snug, and if I were knitting this again, I'd buy a little extra yarn and I'd make a 9" armhole instead of 8", and make the arms correspondingly wider. I don't have yarn to spare as it is, and I am pretty sure this won't be too tight to wear. At least, I hope not. On the other hand I really, really need to lose weight, so maybe a tight sweater will motivate me ... ;-)

To answer the comments on the last post, yep, those are freesias (and sweet peas and roses — opening even more today). And yep, this is spring in San Diego. And yep, April's right.

And Earin. You are INSANE. Size *17*!?!?!

Just flat-out crazy.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Crazy bulky knitting!

I'm not a huge fan of knitting with bulky yarn or big* needles (hurts my wrists), but there is something to be said for how FAST this puppy is knitting up. Check it out: Here are the two sleeves and the back blocked and drying.

I'm halfway up the left front, but I didn't photograph that because, let's face it, how much stockinette can you take?

* = Yes, in my book, US #8 is a big needle. I don't much like going over 6.

In other news: spring has definitely sprung around here — these are from my rosebushes and containers:

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Told ya.

I thought it would go fast and it is... back is done, zooming up an arm now. I'm doing an arm instead of a front because I'm worried I'm going to run out of yarn, and I'd rather find out sooner than later. (A trick I learned from another blogger — if you do a back and an arm, then double the amount of yarn used and fudge in some for the collar/button bands (zipper in this case), you can see roughly how much yarn you'll need to finish a project.)

I did buy 13 balls (the pattern calls for 12 for my size) and I am using the specified yarn, for once. But I do think they tend to fudge the numbers for the larger sizes a bit, because I don't think they test knit in all sizes when a pattern is published. Only the mighty Sundara does that!

I made an interesting booboo, incidentally. I've been using Russian join, because this is thick, sticky yarn and I figured weaving the ends in would be a pain. (I'm planning on using an alternate, thinner/smoother yarn for seaming, so I don't get huge bulky seams.) But I wasn't thinking straight when I used it in the middle of the section where you drop stitches. Fortunately the join itself isn't quite in the middle of a dropped section, but it's right next to it and there is a segment of doubled-back-on-itself yarn acting as one of the dropped lines. This yarn is thick, but its self-adherence is weak, so if it gets caught on anything (common with dropped stitches) it may come apart. I can fix it if this happens, or run a duplicate piece of yarn through the area and nearby stitches, so I'm not that worried, but the look isn't as smooth as one might like. Next time I change yarns at the edge like a normal person if I'm gonna drop stitches!

I'm sick again this week — they think it's still the same sinus infection I got in October, and I'm on my third round of multiple antibiotics. But I'm starting to be well enough to knit, as you can see. (Hmm. Be nice if I could work, too... so I can buy more yarn...)

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

All but the buttons.

Here is my Jo Jo Striped Pullover, prior to washing/drying/blocking:

He's all blocked now, and awaiting appropriate buttons. I haven't been well so I haven't had the energy to go to the button store (it's a fabric store, but for me, it's all about the buttons!).

So did I get back to my pink baby cardi in progress? Well, no, because I spilled bright red herbal tea on it the other night (oops). I gave it a soak in cold water, and I think the tea came out, but it'll take a few days to fully dry. Here it is drying, though:

Did I, then, get back to my tan cabled cardi that has been so patiently awaiting completion? Why, no. I was naughty and cast on for my Tahki Bunny Print jacket!

Tahki Bunny Print: soft. bulky. and oh so fun to say out loud. It has great rhythm. I'm driving my husband nuts muttering it under my breath.

Nothing like a fast bulky knit to make you feel a sense of accomplishment. I bet I finish this in under three weeks, AND get the pink cardi done. So there.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

I finished ALL my WIPs!

.... er ....
April Fool... ;-)

Instead, I'm actually home for my third day of relapse of the bug from hell. But I did get a little knitting done, and I got some postal service cheering-up from Webs. I just cannot resist their overstocks page — though in my defense I must say I ordered this stuff before I catalogued my stash (now bigger!) on Ravelry.

First, there was some lovely di.VĂ© Zenith (weird company name, but nice yarn) for a couple of iterations (assuming I like the pattern after I've made one) of Trellis from Knitty. Still a lot of babies to knit for, at least that was my justification — before I realized I had a HUGE plastic crate of knitting yarns bought specifically for babies. Oh well.

Then there was this cute stuff for a new Very Berry T from MagKnits for Carson — I made her one last summer which she quickly outgrew!

Finally there is this Tahki Bunny Print, so soft and so incredibly pretty, for a Interweave Knits Drop-Stitch Cardigan (Amy King design) for meeeeee.

But I'm not forgetting the finishing; I am nearly, nearly done with my striped pullover (from Natural Knits for Babies and Moms, quite a nice collection by Louisa Harding) for my cousin Maya's baby. I love the unmatching stripes of the sleeves and body. It's so close you can almost wear it.