Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Holiday roundup 2014

With the holidays now behind us, I can post what I made as gifts in that compressed post-surgery period where I was supposed to be all caught up on everything and ended up making absolutely nothing for anyone else.

For my college best friend, J, a Capitan hat in a moss green:

Modeled by her niece, E, who is just adorable and maybe should get her own version of this hat, now that I've seen her in it.  This was one of those gifts that I handed over, and the recipient went absolutely crazy for it.  It is exactly the right reaction to have if you want more hand-knit items from me.  And J was wearing it when I saw her this past weekend - score another point for her.  She'll probably get a scarf out of me before the winter's over, at this rate.

I also did another Capitan for my 14-year-old cousin, S.  Here it is, unfinished:

I am going to be giving it to her this weekend for her birthday, and hope to get a shot of it on her before I leave.  Unless she doesn't like it - then I'm taking it back.  Someone will wear it, by god.  Won't be me - I look ridiculous in this hat. 

I finished the Men's Winter Wheat Socks, by Donna Seex, for my husband:

Here they are, on his feet - he has subsequently worn them since this photo, since he knows I'll steal them back - his feet are only a little bigger than mine, so unworn socks are commandeered into my own collection.  These were originally supposed to be for my father, then husband casually mentioned he liked how they looked, and he's usually pattern-averse.  So dad still has not gotten hand knit socks from me, although he has several hats.  Someday, dad.

I did the usual pair of socks for my goddaughter, E:

I used Plymouth Yarn Happy Feet 100 Splash and it was nice to work with, but notice that the socks are essentially two different colors.  It's fine because the current trend for middle schoolers to wear two different socks, so this kind of works, but I don't think I would buy the yarn again because I am a little particular about having socks match.

Except this year, non-matching socks seems to be a theme.  To wit, mom's birthday socks:

And of course, I only had one sock finished by the time her birthday arrived.  Given that I finished E's socks on 12/22 for a gift date of 12/24, last minute was the theme of the holiday season, apparently.  I brought over the one finished sock and the second under construction sock and asked mom if she wanted them to match.  She did not care, figuring she will be wearing these with jeans and who will know?  I will. But I'm learning to let go.

Finally, I currently have a baby sweater under construction for our neighbors' daughter, who will be 1 at the end of February:

It is called Cherry Cobbler Sweater, by Lorna Miser, and calls for three skeins of Malabrigo Rios for the 12 month size, which I just happened to have in my stash and was wondering what to with when this pattern was in the Winter 2014 Love of Knitting magazine.  Granted, the pattern calls for the color English rose, and I had Lavanda, but I decided on the substitution because it's a purple / grey-lavender colorway and before the baby was born, her mother asked for a grey knit hat with knit flower options if the baby was a girl (which she was.)  I know they'll like the color and I think the sweater could be worn by any future siblings as well.  I just started the sweater on January 5 and I have already nearly finished the back, leaving only the 2 front pieces and sleeves to do.  I like the pattern and the yarn - I would definitely recommend both.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Keeping out of trouble

In early October, I had knee surgery - nobody's idea of a good time, but I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to get a jump on all my Christmas knitting. After all, this was how I spent 10 hours+ per day:

No brainer to get all that knitting done, right?  Not exactly.  I was in far more pain than I expected, and I had a difficult time overcoming the effects of  both the anesthesia and the prescription pain killers, so I was far less productive than I had envisioned.  It also did not help that everyone and their brother came to visit, and very few of them were knitters, so I had to focus on talking to them rather than knitting, because it was too hard to do both.

Despite this, I did get a few things started:

This pattern is the Iced Aqua Scarf by Julie Farmer, in the Fall 2014 Love of Knitting.  Obviously, I did not choose an iced aqua yarn - this is Caron's Simply Soft Paints, in Oceana.  I loved loved loved the colorway, and I loved that it was on sale at Joanne for $2.99 a skein.  I bought 3 - 2 of the same dye lot for the scarf, and another to make myself a hat.  I decided this would be my Winter 2014/2015 hat & scarf project - two years ago I used another Caron yarn to make a pretty purple basketweave scarf, complete with fringe.  I love that the yarn can go in the washer and the dyer.  With all the handknit socks around the house, flat drying space is at a premium some weeks after I do laundry.

Speaking of socks, I also managed to start, and finish, a pair for myself:

I decided these would be my Thanksgiving socks, because they have the right shades of yellow, red, brown & orange and remind me of those childhood construction paper turkeys we all did in school.  The yarn is Decadent Fibers Savory Sock yarn, made by Decadent Fibers out of Kinderhook, NY.  I bought it last year at the New England fiber festival - it was part of that sock yarn-a-palooza that happened:

That's it over there on the bottom right-hand side.  I do love how they turned out.

So, that was my 3 week knitting extravaganza.  Note that not one of the projects was actually a Christmas gift.  I would express remorse, except I've got (or will get) new knit items to keep and wear, so I'm not the slightest bit sorry.  Except that I now have to knit twice as fast for the holiday items.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Projects of questionable value

I finished my very first adult-sized sweater, and I hate how it looks:

Seriously, it looks great laying on the table, and that's all you're going to see of it, because I refuse to be photographed in it. All the knitters I have shown it to tell me to wear it with a shawl pin, or a button, to keep it closed. Sure, I can do that, but I'm not sure I want to spend a penny on anything like that for something I am unlikely to wear out of the house.  This might be the second-most ridiculous thing I have ever knit, because there would be no need for me to have a short-sleeved sweater in the house if I get "chilly" - we don't have central air, so if it's cold enough for me to be looking for something to put on, it's going to be something with sleeves.  I am going to chalk this up to a learning experience, and a victory in the finished project category.

I call the shrug the second-most ridiculous thing I have ever knit, because this is the most ridiculous:

In process - photographed outside Halcyon yarns, Bath, ME
 "What are those?"  you may be asking yourself.  Patriotic chaps, made with wool and fun fur.  "Why on earth would you knit patriotic chaps to begin with, and then out of those materials?!" Well, let me tell you.  A few months ago, my favorite local yarn shop had a "Wine and Pointy Sticks" party.  People were asked to bring the worst fiber-based item they had in their collection.  There were some doozies - a traffic-cone orange sweater in a nubby yarn, a potholder knit by a great-aunt who ran out of yarn so just stuffed another color into the middle of it - and somehow the conversation evolved into a discussion about bad projects with the theme, "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should."  Somehow, I piped up with the idea for chaps.  I forget who suggested making them out of fun fur (doubly funny because one of my fellow Wicked Weavers believes fun fur should be banished from the earth), and the shop owner volunteered that she had some patriotic stuff on clearance, so off we went to look at it.  I quickly realized that just using the fun fir would require a really small needle and take forever, so I pared it with a navy-blue wool so I could use large needles.  Carrie (the shop owner) gave me a great discount on all of it.

The result is the ugliest, itchiest thing I have ever knit.  I looked for a chaps pattern on Ravelry and guess what, no pattern!  I cannot be the only knitter who has ever wasted her time on a chaps project, but I bet you could count all of us on one hand.  Also, who's going to admit to knitting such a thing by publishing a pattern?  Adding insult to injury, the patriotic fun fur sheds so there's physical evidence of where I have been with these things.  Also, they're kind of heavy.  But they'll be ready for the next Wine & Pointy Sticks party!

I may have even ordered a sparkly cowboy hat with light-up brim.  Go big or go home, partner.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Something besides socks

Ok, admittedly I am currently working on a pair of socks, because I am pretty sure I must have one going at all times:

This pattern is called Winter Wheat Socks and this is the men's version.  I knit a pair of the women's version for my mother for her birthday this year.  I intended to knit this pair for my dad, who has no hand-knit socks from me, for Christmas this year.  Husband expressed delight in the socks.  This pair is for the husband.  Which means that I now have to knit this pattern again.  There's nothing really wrong with it; it's the (boring, BORING) yarn that makes me unenthusiastic about knitting it.

I am also making use of the 1800 yards of Madeline Tosh lace-weight I bought back in April to knit Viajante:

I love it, it's gorgeous, it's taking forever.  Dorothy says lace weight shawls take about three years (argh) which has burst my dream balloon that I would have this shawl done for an upcoming late-September trip to Philadelphia.  Maybe I will have it for a late-September trip in 2016, if I am lucky.

Meanwhile, I took a trip last weekend up to Halcyon Yarn in Bath, ME with my Wicked Weavers group.  I was delighted to discover that Halcyon sells mini-cones of weaving yarn - 600 yards to a normal one-pound cone of 3,200 yards (or more!)  So I bought a bunch of mini-cones of unmercerized cotton, to make dish towels:

Mostly mini-cones, with 2 large in the back

I have several patterns in mind - at least one or two to be done on my rigid heddle loom, which has the advantage of being in the family room and thus more accessible and more frequently used.  My first project is a set of place mats for the kitchen:

Cascade Luna Paints, Cascade Ultra Pima , 3/2 unmercerized cotton

Place mats in progress!

I have a strange affection for purple these days and picked some lighter shades of it to blend with the blue in the Cascade Paints that makes up the foundation of the multi-color in this placemat pattern.  This is a plain-weave pattern, making it less likely I will screw up this weaving.  Unless I did the yardage wrong.....

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A weaving project redeemed

So I have been working here and there on a couple of weaving projects.  Most recently on my rigid heddle I decided to try the Log Cabin pattern described in Jane Patrick's The Weaver's Idea Book: Creative Cloth on a Rigid Heddle Loom.  The pattern is derived using two contrasting colors from the warp and weft crosses.  I thought it would be simple.  It was not.

My first mistake was the way I threaded it.  I miscounted the number of threads in each color block, and then I sleyed the reed entirely wrong - instead of alternating light-dark (or vice-versa) in the slot and holes, I grouped the colors together by two (one slot and one hole both the same color) which gave me a lovely houndstooth-style cloth.  So, lovely, but not the original aim.  I decided to completely re-sley the reed to try and get the pattern I had hoped.  Success!  Except that the back of the reed looked like this:

 Messier than I would have liked, for sure, but it all straightened out in the weaving:

Because I had to rearrange the threads at the back, pulling some out of the warp and tying them together, a few of the remaining warp threads did not get caught around the back beam.  Which was fine until I got near the end, and they grew so loose I could not get the yarn to lay smooth when I beat it down.  In the end, I opted to cut it off and tag it as a learning experience.

Here's the finished piece, which is less of a table runner and more of an oversized placemat:

My selveges are a little messy but I will stitch them under before displaying it on a table.  Given that I thought this was going to be a total loss when I first started it and it was not, and that I got this yarn on sale and will be able to do another similar project with it, I am not at all unhappy with how this turned out.  True, it would be great if these things turned out right the first time, but Rome wasn't built in a day.  Hell, sometimes I can't even get the loom threaded in a day.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Project fails

So, socks.  It has been established I enjoy knitting them, and those around me enjoy receiving them.  My mother usually gets one for her birthday and Mother's Day - I say one, because generally I have one sock finished and the other 3/4 done when the holiday rolls around, so I show her what she'll be getting in just another few days.  No matter how much time I leave to finish the project, it never happens.  Anyway, sticking with tradition, mom got one sock on Sunday:

....and it didn't fit.  The pattern is called Sand Dunes, by Phyll Lagerman, and it is really beautiful.  It calls for Madeline Tosh sock yarn and a size 1 needle.  I had this Regia Jet Set color that I thought would be a great substitution for the recommended yarn, and I am using size 1 1/2 needles.  My mother cannot get the sock over her foot.  It's my own fault - I don't test knit a swatch (although in this case, I don't know that it would have helped) to check size & gauge, but I almost never have a problem.  The silver lining, however, is that the socks are now up for grabs for anyone who they fit.  I will be like Prince Charming, only with socks.

In other project fails, I had nearly finished the winter cardigan I started in November:

The yarn is Alpine Lake by Tucker's Woods, a dyer out of Connecticut who is discontinuing production of these yarns.  Which is a total shame; I totally adore this yarn.  Anyway, this is a shot of the back, the only thing I currently have done.  Why, you ask?  Well, when cast on for the first front piece, the number of stitches for size large (46) seemed too small to me, so I cast on a few more (70.)  I finished the piece, then noticed I had changed the size of the cables, making them larger.  Knitting friends assured me no one would notice, so I made the left side to match.  I got a little nervous, because there was not a lot of yarn left over to make the sleeves, and it's not possible for me to get more since the dyer is no longer creating new product.  And there's no guarantee of color matching anyway.  But I decided to risk it. 

To start the sleeves, I needed to sew the shoulder seams together, which is when I discovered that if you increase the front, but you have not correspondingly increased the back, when you sew the seam, the cardigan front will come more than halfway across, creating a sweater that is unwearable.  So I ripped back both front pieces into nothingness, and cast on for the right front again.  The silver lining in this project is that I have now made the cables to match the back, so I won't be thinking about that mistake when I am wearing the sweater.  If I ever actually finish the sweater.

I think my next project will be a stockinette scarf.  Pretty hard to mess that up.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sweater weather

I have started several sweaters for myself in my career as a knitter. Last spring/summer I made myself a short-sleeved shrug in a beautiful shade of purple:

Still on the needles

Unfortunately, I did not pick up enough stitches when I went to knit the 2-inch ribbed trim, so it flops unattractively when I put it on, so I need to unstitch it, rip out the trim, and pick up the correct number of stitches.

I've also started 2 winter cardigans for myself:

Neither of which are yet finished.  The problem is that my primary knitting time is on the train, commuting to work, and the sweaters are too large for my cosmetic-sized knitting bag.  At least, that's my excuse.  I suppose I could stop packing my lunch, and then I'd have more room for yarn.  Who needs to eat, when you can knit?

But I have finally finished a sweater!  A friend of mine from high school and her wife have a three-year-old daughter who is obsessed with Tyrannosaurus Rex - every night she and her mother play "dinosaur," with E telling her mother, "Mama, you be the TRex!" and my friend chases her around the house, roaring.  They bought her a 3-foot inflatable TRex for Christmas, and put it under the tree wearing a Santa hat.  I love that she is so into dinosaurs, because I went through a phase between about 6-10 where I couldn't get enough of them either.  So while perusing Ravelry and thinking about knitting her a hat, I stumbled upon a pattern called Tony Tyrannosaurus Rex Jumper by Christine Grant, I bought it.  It called for Intarsia, a type of color work knitting I had taken a class in but never tried.  I am so excited by how it turned out:

Even the inside didn't turn out too bad:

I am meeting her mother for lunch in just a few hours to hand over the sweater.  I really hope it fits her.