Friday, November 19, 2010

Oh, honestly. Sometimes…

Sometimes none of your projects are working. All at the same time.

This one — well, I lost the notes for the first sock, and I didn't follow the pattern at all, so I've had to re-engineer sock #1 (knit 4 years ago) as I go. And I'm lazy.

This one looks done, but actually I knit two different lengths so I could find out which one fit the recipient. Alas, the one with the lifeline is the one that fits. So I just have to thread through some needles and rip back and lengthen the one on top. And I'm lazy.

One project I can't find at the moment.

One (unphotographed) piece is off by one stitch, and I need to figure out why.

So is this one.

One (also unphotographed) needs a whole bunch of math before I start the arms.

There's nothing actually wrong with this one, but you know how lace is -- you just can't work on it during all activities. And frankly, it'll look like a pile of purple vomit until it's done.

So. You know how it is. I cast on this:

Frankly I don't think the color combo's working that well.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

One dratted skein...

So as I discussed a while back, my aunt Grace picked up a skein of Filatura Di Crosa Gioiello [Ravelry link] yarn when she was in Italy, and asked me to knit her a scarf from it. There were just two problems:

1. This yarn looks like puke knitted up into anything but stockinette.
2. Knitted into stockinette, there was not enough yarn to make a scarf.

Not insurmountable, surely? Well, I tried a few different patterns, and they did, indeed, look awful. Finally I decided to chart a very simple lace pattern that would look chiefly like bands of stockinette separated by some dropped stitches. There are a number of these. What I ended up with was this:

I'm not 100% thrilled — obviously there are still problems with this yarn knitted up (too bad, it looks lovely in the skein!), but I am pretty happy with the end result. And the scarf, using all the yarn save maybe a meter, is a perfect size.

Of course I think this would have been nicer with a different yarn, but even so, I may write up the pattern in case someone else has a single crazy skein of fingering-weight yarn and needs a pattern that will work for it...

Friday, October 08, 2010

Losing track of what I've shown you and what I haven't!

I think that means I've been doing a lot of knitting.

Anywhere, here are a couple of recent triumphs:

Judy Alexander's Bavarian Tulip Mittens from the most recent (Fall 2010) Interweave Knits. I accidentally knit the top in stockinette instead of reverse stockinette, but I think I like it better this way -- the tops match the thumbs -- so there. This is in one hank of Sundara Worsted Merino (Blue-Green over Yellow). It's a perfect application of the Sundara yarn, so if you have a single skein of it in your stash, you might think about these lovely mittens!

These are for my friend Becca. I hope they come close to fitting... I haven't seen her in years!

My friend Sandra has been begging me for a pair of fingerless mitts for several years now. I don't know why, but having someone ask me for something makes me slower about making it. Which is really stupid. I basically improvised this pattern, including charting the simple braided cable, and it took me less than 24 hours to knit from Elsebeth Lavold Chunky AL (leftover from Rob's pullover). Hopefully these will fit — she has tiny hands. These are wet and blocking:

Should dry fast, we have a Santa Ana rolling in. Hot desert wind.

I've got more sinus surgery on Monday, and will be home for a couple of weeks. That'll slow knitting down at first, then probably speed it up, for a while.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Time to cut my losses?

I've been surveying some of my unfinished projects and one of them is this Mariner tunic, which I started way back when I first learned to knit, in 2006:

This sat around for a long, long time because I couldn't remember whether I'd used long-tail cast-on or Twisted German cast-on (which effectively adds a row), and I wanted the front and back to match.

I took it out to look at the other day and realized I have another problem now: this thing is not going to fit. For one thing I'm a slightly different size since I first started knitting it. It is coming out about 46" (well, the front is coming out about 23"). You've seen the vest I recently knit, which was 45" and just doesn't fit me. This is not going to fit either.

I'm rather tempted to frog it and start over. Or leaving the front intact while I knit another one, so I can actually see the difference in sizes before I have a happy little frogging session.

There's the secondary problem that this color is just a little too bright for my tastes. When I first started knitting, as is true for many of us, I was horrified at the cost of yarn, so I was buying yarn on eBay a lot. I was buying the exact same yarn each pattern called for, except that I generally bought whatever color was cheapest. I like magenta, but this is a very bright, crayon magenta.

Still, I think I'd wear it if it fit. But I think I need to knit the next size down.


The biggest problem may be the lack of desire to knit this project at all, right now.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Yeah, baby!

Of course, the cat has to help. Or is she claiming this for her own?


This is for the two-year-old daughter of a friend. I'm pretty pleased with it, even though either I or the pattern made a mistake and there was an even (rather than odd) # of eyelets, so I had to skip one. I also am hopelessly unable to make pompoms, so I crocheted these bobbles instead. But I like the bobbles.

I finished another thing this weekend — my "Hey, Teach!" cardi. All that was needed was for me to redo the buttonhole band, which had a little too much slack in it. I need to take some new photos of it to show you — the ones on Ravelry are pre-reknit.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Old dog...

…new trick!

I learned a new seaming method this week. A pattern I was knitting called for "flat seams" and I wasn't sure what to do. I knew mattress stitch produces a bulky back seam, and this garment is for a little girl who would not appreciate such abrasion. A little googling produced several links to what is variously called 'flat seaming', 'invisible seaming', 'woven flat seam' and 'Bickford seaming'. Clicking the links here will take you to the three pages I found most useful in learning to do this kind of seaming. It creates a very small ridge on the back side of the garment:

and a near-invisible seam on the right side:

This helped me to put together a Hooded Capelet [Ravelry link] for my friend Fiona's two-year-old. It's not done blocking (pic below is pre-soak), cord isn't done and buttons aren't sewn on, but it is otherwise done:

Little Red Riding Hood here we come!

Thursday, September 16, 2010


As expected, I finished the lovely V-neck vest and blocked it, and it is a color I like, and it is much softer once washed, and drat it, it does not fit me. It doesn't even sort of fit. It just plain doesn't.

I measure myself before I knit things, and I knit with the right size and right ease, and yet often, when I'm done, things don't fit. I might need to rethink the amount of ease I want with my garments. Or maybe bust size isn't the best way to measure, for me. I'm just not sure.

In any event, if you have somewhere in the vicinity of a 45" bust (this measures 45"), like greenish-brown tweed, and would like a nice simple Australian wool vest, please let me know! I'd love to give this to someone who reads my blog. I'm very very sad I can't keep it, but there's no point.

We all know what to do when we experience a disappointment of this type, right?

Catkin Stole from the Baltic Lace kit from KnitPicks.

Monday, September 06, 2010


I've been feeling slightly bored with my knitting lately and it's easy to see why:

Okay, I admit the baby socks are cute, but you have no idea what a misery they've been. I started them in MAY, and I have had to rip them back about 20 times for stupid errors, dropped stitches, pretty much any stupidity you can make. For such simple dratted socks they have been a pain in the rump.

But really, what stands out about all this stuff?

Stockinette, baby. Stockinette.

Well, you know I like to have a lot of things on the needles at one time. But a lot of different things. Right now, most of the active projects are stockinette. Now, it's good to have a couple of easy-peasy projects that you can work on while watching a complex movie, talking with friends, or just stressed out. But that can't be the only thing I have going.

I think I need to get something going in colorwork, or I'll forget what I learned with my first project. And I've never knitted lace with actual laceweight — only with fingering weight. I picked up the KnitPicks Baltic Lace Kit for myself a couple of weeks ago. And I should always have a pair of socks going — not baby socks.

And not dratted stockinette.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

DANG this is cute.

You gotta admit it. Fiona and James' new baby is going to be a very sharp-dressed boy:

I was really pleased to come up with an embroidery method for the eyes that was both simple, effective, and still child-proof:

I'm still working on chopping down the total number of in-progress projects. I think it was 16 when I first started. It's 14 now. But of course a lot of things have gotten started and finished in between there. I'm letting myself start a new project for every two I finish, except when I cheat. :-)

Friday, August 27, 2010


I'm making a little owl vest for my friend Fiona's upcoming baby. Just like last time, the baby's late and I think he's waiting for me to finish. Almost done:

I've been knitting a vest of my own, but it's miles and miles of stockinette and I'm bored silly…

…something for me to keep in mind next time. It's one of the few occasions I've made a 'product knit' (where I cared more about the end product than the knitting process) and I think it was a mistake. Worse, I think it's going to be too big. My barrel chest means my correct bust size often leads to a garment that's huge in all other areas, even if it was knit with a mere inch of ease. I need to learn to take the leap and size smaller, remembering that knitted fabric stretches. Either that or knit it larger over the bust (which is odd, I'm really not that busty) and smaller over the lower chest and waist.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

It's been almost three years...

I started Rob's Spartan Pullover in November, 2007. It was my first, and so far only, colorwork and it was challenging for me. I tried hard to keep my floats loose, but they tightened more than they should have. Then there was the knitting-a-total-of-six-arms thing, and the running-out-of-yarn thing. And. And.

And now it's done. Blocking:

20 seconds later:

Cats just have to help block. It's in their contract.

There were a number of lessons learned on this — for example, I still have to find a way to make my floats looser, because when I blocked, the color that is meant to punch out (the 'Dune') got pulled back, so its stitches get lost in places. There just wasn't enough give. Rob thinks once the alpaca 'blooms' and fuzzes in wear, no one will notice, and he may be right.

Another lesson is that Rob will really look better in a set-in sleeve, not a drop shoulder. Too bad I'm already 3/4 way through another drop-shoulder pullover for him :-/ But, he loves this anyway, especially how soft it is (I did say alpaca), so that's a plus.

Finally, I probably should have gone down two needle sizes rather than one on the seed-stitch trim, because it's just a little too big everywhere, and that makes a slightly wonky neckline and a flippy-uppy hem. We'll see if enough blocking + steam helps, but next time…

However. I am VERY DARNED PLEASED with this thing. It is done!

Of course I immediately cast on for a new project even though I have a dozen other things on the needles. Because that's how I roll.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Some other things recently knitted

Thanks for the nice comments on the afghan! I haven't made a huge amount of progress in writing up the pattern yet, but I will, I promise. I'm going to knit a second one, so I'll even have a chance to test it, though that may take a little while.

I've been ill again lately and it's cut down on my posting energy, but I have actually knit a bunch of other things. Here are a couple of them:

This is another Vintage Pixie Cap [Ravelry link], made in the same yarn (different dye lot as it happens) as the one for my friend Lou's daughter. This one is sized larger, 1-2 years, and I can't remember who I made it for yet, so hopefully I'll remember soon and send it to them. I knit 99% of this in Australia but seamed it and put the button on just last week.

I also went back to poor Rob's first pullover (the Spartan Pullover, last seen in great pain). Perhaps you're wondering what happened to it. Well, I re-knit both arms, and sewed one on, and had Rob try it on, and...

The arms were still too crazy darned short.
And I was out of yarn.

I looked. And looked. And LOOKED. But I could not find any other source of the right dye lot of this yarn (Elsebeth Lavold Chunky AL in Merlot, in case you are curious). The only person on Ravelry who had it was not willing to part with any, as she'd bought the bundle of it for a sweater herself, and I don't blame her.

I wrote to various retailers to ask their dye lots. I postponed the problem. Fewer and fewer places even carried the yarn.

Finally, I realized the problem was getting worse rather than better. I ordered a single skein of wrong-dye-lot Chunky AL from a gal on Ravelry , two skeins of a different wrong dye lot from another location, and what turned out to be two of the same different wrong dye lot (did that make sense?) from yet another retailer. I figured I'd use whichever one was closest.

The single skein turned out to be closest. In a way this is good, because it means I'll have 4 of the same different dye lot left, so I can make some other project with it.

I pulled out the sleeves and started over, this time alternating knitting 5 rows from the old yarn, two from the new.


Now, if you look at this closely, you can see the faint striping or 'beat pattern' of the alternate yarn:
But it's not normally so noticeable. And I think it's going to be FINE. I'm almost done with sleeve #2 (would be done but I made a booboo about 12 rows back, so I have to rip/redo) and then I will sew them in and then ROB WILL FINALLY HAVE A PULLOVER.

And it is about time.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Finished the afghan!

I don't have very good photos, but I've finished the Red Heart super cheap acrylic yarn afghan I've been working on for a while now.

Here's a closeup of the pattern stitch:

I will have to take some better photos for y'all, because I really love this afghan to pieces (hopefully not literally). I'm going to write up the pattern ASAP and make it available, but be warned: it requires both knit and crochet skills. The brown sections are crocheted, the beige are knit. The really great thing about this design (she says, patting herself on the back) is that it's so easily memorized and so portable while you're making the strips, so you can take it anywhere and do it while doing other things, like watching TV or chatting with friends. Then you assemble it all with crochet, which to me is easy. And it looks perfect on my couch! Next time I'm home during the daytime I'll take some indoor shots so you can see what I mean. (Don't like beige and brown? Imagine it in blue and black! Or pink and purple! Or cream and dark green!)

Go me :-)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I think orange buttons worked out really well!

Thanks all for weighing in. I know some of you preferred the silver ones, but I like the cheerful ribbon of contrast.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The random number generator has spoken...

...and it has selected The Transmogrifier! Magazine will be on its way shortly.

Thanks all for offering your opinions! I couldn't show you more buttons of each type, as I'd only ordered a couple each for the decision (ordering 34 each of all these buttons would have cost a fortune :-) ). I could have zoomed out, true. But by the time I was done with the process I was pretty sure I was going with the orange buttons. They have now been ordered from Europe and are on their way to me.

The pullover is trimmed in blue, and I think the orange ring is going to make a nice contrast to it. If I really hate it, I'll go for the silver ones many of you picked as a second choice — they don't have to be ordered from as far away so I can get them quickly if needed.

Here's what the owls look like right now, buttonless:

It grew a little in the wash, and I think this'll be a little long on my friend K., but hopefully too long is better than too short. It'll get one more bath/reshaping before it travels, too. I love how yarn softens up when washed (carefully, obviously). I'll also attempt a little duplicate stitching at the back of the place where the blue trim meets the grey on the cuffs, so that if the arms are too long, K. can fold back the cuffs and have it still look all right. I'm a little worried about the underarms being tight — will just have to cross fingers on that. It's my first yoke sweater and I suppose everyone worries on their first one.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Final three buttons, and a contest!

The other sample buttons arrived. Here are the final three!

What do you all think? Take a look at the buttons in both the last entry and this, and let me know what your favorite and second favorite are -- and I'll enter you in a drawing for a recent copy of Yarn Forward magazine. Not a knitter? Don't worry, I have a non-knitter's prize too. I just want your opinion!

I need the opinion fast, too -- so please respond by Tuesday the 22nd, earlier preferred.

Thanks guys!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

All eyes on owls!

I'm working on selecting buttons suitable to be eyes on the owls pullover I've made. This is challenging, because there isn't a huge selection of buttons in the 11mm size (+- .5 mm) that best fits these owls. Here are a few I tried this morning:

I know owl eyes are yellow, but I'm not sure I like the look of yellow or gold on this grey pullover, and at the moment I'm leaning towards the blue ones as being less "starey" than the other options. There will be a total of * 34 * eyes on this pullover! The owls aren't that big. A few more options should arrive in the mail soon, but I think they are going to be too big. Thoughts?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Welcome back, Internet! I missed you.

I disappeared to Australia for a month or so, as some of you guessed (didn't announce impending absence online so as not to invite burglars, though I did have a live-in housesitter).

While there, I could check text-only email a couple times a week, and twice during the month I had 'real' access for one hour. It's not usually that bad, but the phone line at my mother-in-law's house (she lives out in a rural area) has deteriorated to the point where our old AirPort couldn't keep a connection anymore. Next time I get one of those newfangled 3G modems or some such!

(I know, for an IT professional I am a really Luddite.)

I did a lot of knitting while in the land of Oz, though. We were driving back and forth from Perth most days, a two- to three-hour round trip. I actually ran out of knitting projects and had to go shopping!

As you probably suspect, I don't hate yarn shopping. But there's an interesting problem in Australia, though — a dearth of what they call 10ply (5spi) yarn. I can find plenty of 5.5spi and plenty of 4spi, but nothing in between — yarn store folks told me that they are being phased out in Australia. There also aren't too many good yarn stores in Perth, probably because of the climate and remoteness. After an hour of burrowing, I finally found some genuine Aussie yarn with which to make a simple vest from a pattern I'd brought. I'm nearly done with the back:

It's a greeny-brown, but a little warmer tone than I normally prefer. But there was very little choice, and I'll actually get some wear out of this. So that is okay.

I struggled all month with a hat I'm working on for my friend Paola. Several failures were dismissed. When I got home, I found the Cossack Hat pattern in Folk Hats and thought it might work well for Paola. I wanted to use the same great purple yarn that I used for Ronise's hat, but it had nowhere near the gauge (this is a superbulky pattern). I tried stranding it with some silver yarn I had; no dice. I tried adding a second strand of purple; still too small. Finally, in a stroke of inspiration I added a strand of Alyson's handspun blue that I used to trim my friend K's owl pullover. Success!

I'm using non-boucle yarn, so the effect I'm getting is more of a "tall pillbox" than a fur hat — which is exactly what I'd hoped. This is blurry, but shows the colors more accurately.

I knit a few other things this month — I'll show you more as the week goes on.