Thursday, May 31, 2007
It seems I had enough yarn to make a dress after all.
Size: finished item has a 24" chest measurement. Rosebud measures about 22" around.
Pattern: Improvised on the needles by me
Yarn & Needles: Katia Jamaica, US7 I used all of two skeins and dipped a bit into the third.
I loved using the Jamaica yarn, and Rosebud loves the feel of the smooth fabric. It has a little stretch to it, despite being 100% cotton. I wouldn't use the yarn for a top for myself though because I personally don't like the color blips in the stripes. While I think it is provides that whimsical, not-mass-produced look in the dress, I prefer something more sophisticated for myself. It could also be the hot, juicy colors, which again, are perfect for a little girl, but for me, not so much.
I did discover that a great solution to the blip problem is garter stitch. This yarn looks absolutely gorgeous in garter stitch. I briefly considered making Rosebud a long jacket in garter stitch with this yarn, but I wanted something she could wear more immediately, and she does have a pretty cool knitted jacket already. Expect to see some Baby Surprise Jackets in Jamaica in the future!
Pattern Notes: You remember my genius solution for making this dress was using an invisible cast-on to start knitting at the armpits. I mentioned that Barbara Walker led me to my solution, which is true, but I also want to give credit to Marnie for inspiring this idea. I remembered her posting on the CAL that she often uses a provisional cast-on when knitting sweaters from the hem-up, so that she can change the border details or add length once the main body of the sweater is finished without having to cut the knitting. It must have lodged into my subconscious, because I immediately connected her idea when reading Walker's work.
This technique is definitely has its advantages. Obviously, for knitters unable to commit to a plan or unsure about yarn amounts, it is a great idea. You can knit most of the body of the garment, and figure out details like border treatments and necklines as you go. This way also allowed me to try the dress on Rosebud as I knitted for length and fit, much like a top-down garment.
However, there are some drawbacks. First, I could not figure out how to execute this cast-on in the round. I just couldn't do it. I tried multiple times and besides making a moebius every damn time, the first and last few stitches always looked terrible. I eventually cast-on straight and knit back and forth for a couple of rounds. While this allowed me to move on with my project, it created a gaping hole under the arm was a bitch to close. I was forced to abandon my usually persnickety standards for finishing in favor of the "galloping horse" standard. Finally, I ended up with a very visible line of elongated stitches that were caused by unevenness in the cast-on stitches.
The only thing I would change about this project is that I should have planned for more ease, and maybe done more increases to make it wider at the bottom. Rosebud is a slip of a thing, and it fits well, but I was picturing a looser garment with a more pronounced a-line. Luckily, it does not appear to impede her movement or her play, especially in her current favorite activity.
Up next on the needles is yet another Rosebud project -- Bounce, of course!
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
In Waldorf Education, the first grade teacher follows with the student until grade eight. A deep, important, trusting relationship is forged between the student and the teacher that, I believe, allows the student the stability to take the risks needed for true learning.
N is finishing up her first grade year and we are so thrilled that Miss Lisa will be her guide, mentor, and teacher for the next seven years. She is compassionate and kind. Structured and firm yet light-hearted and playful. She challenges the children while providing for them comfort and security. I am so grateful to have such a balanced, gifted teacher in my daughter's life.
I wanted to give N's teacher a flower that would last for more than a few days. So I picked up the Felted Iris kit that was sitting in the back of the stash.
Pattern and Yarn: Iris, Iris Germanica Pickupsticksicus, Felted by Pick Up Sticks
Needles: US 10s dpn
Notes: This is quite easy knitting. The only tricky part for me was that the yarn was not strong enough to retain the gathering during felting and I had to do some emergency sewing during the felting process. You have to shape (by sewing with the yarn) before the felting and after (using a wire for structure). It had more steps than I initially realized, but was fun! I bought the kit at Ben Franklin.
Thanks for all the wonderful comments about the Spartan! I'm sorry that I have been way too busy to respond, I appreciated all the kind words (and the BackBou loved the compliments too!).
Sunday, May 27, 2007
The Jersey Shore is no substitute for a Parisian cafe, but when I wear my Clapotis, I still can say, "Je suis belle et ça ne demande aucun effort!"
Pattern: Clapotis by Kate Gilbert, Knitty Fall 2004
Yarn: Black Bunny Fibers Merino/Silk, a custom-dye job by the talented (and wonderfully snarky) Carol. This yarn was dyed with Clapotis in mind, and I knew I wanted one in my favorite shades of blue. I surfed Carol's Etsy shop and selected colorways that appealed to me, and she came up with a beautiful tonal colorway of turquoise, robin's egg and a silvery sky blue that is rich and saturated, and with the silk content in the yarn, it also has a gorgeous sheen. Carol understood and translated my colors so well that not only is almost the identical color of my living room walls, but when I showed the yarn to my (blogless) friend Aileen, she took one look at it and said, simply, "Of course!"
Mods: Amy at Needles and Hooks has compiled a great site with information for all-things Clapotis. I found this site to be of immense help when planning this project, and on her advice, I twisted the stitches on either side of the ladder rows on both the wrong and right sides. I also did one less increase section, as the wrap was getting pretty gargantuan.
It has proven to be the perfect wrap to keep me warm in the ocean breeze in the still-cool evenings down the shore. No, it's not Paris, but the shore is our place for the summer, and now that I am properly swathed in ocean-blue silken handknits, Summer has officially arrived!
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
This yarn has spent its year in the stash because I have had trouble committing to a project. I'd been dreaming of a tank-style sun dress for my Rosebud who lives in dresses in summer. I found a couple of patterns but none that really suited what I wanted, since most of them were knit flat, then seamed. With a stripy yarn like Jamaica, I think knitting in the round is the way to go. I'm also not sure if I have enough yarn to make a dress, so I'm thinking I may end up with a tunic. Rosebud loves to rock the tunic, too. But if I make a tunic, I think she'd get more wear out of a tunic with sleeves.
Tank sun dress? Short sleeved tunic? I just couldn't decide. I asked Rosebud for some guidance. She said, "I'd like a short sleeved shirt without a turtleneck. But if you have enough yarn, you can make a dress." Not real helpful.
I had a knitting conundrum. Knitting from the hem up wouldn't work because the proportions of the garment would be wrong. A dress is wider at the bottom edge than a tunic, and decreases would be spaced differently, so if cast on for a dress and ran out of yarn, the tunic would likely be too wide at the bottom and at the armholes. But if I knit from the top down, I would have to commit to some sort of a sleeve, even a small cap sleeve, at the beginning of the project. What if I had enough yarn left over for a dress?
Leave it to Barbara Walker to lead me to a solution. I read the chapter in Knitting from the Top on making sleeveless garments from the top-down, and she introduced me to the invisible cast-on. Her technique has a knitter cast-on provisionally at the mid-back, knit the back piece (and shaping the shoulders using short rows beautifully, but that's for another post) and then knitting over the shoulders and down to knit the bodice. You then join the piece at the armholes by picking up the stitches made in your cast on, and continue to knit from the top-down in the round.
So I learned the invisible cast-on (Fastest. Cast-on. Ever.) and tried her technique, knitting a back and shoulder piece as a gauge swatch.
It was clever and beautifully rendered, but it still wasn't right. It would be great for a solid yarn, but the irregular striping of the Jamaica would never ever match up. And using this technique was committing to a tank, thus a dress.
So how do you knit something that might be a sleeveless dress but might be a sleeved tunic? How do you knit a...drunic?
Cast on in the middle! Zero committment on the bodice until you have knitted the body of the garment, thus having either a properly proportioned tunic, or if I seem to have a enough yarn, a dress. Then, I'll knit up from the provisional stitches and make whatever bodice is called for.
Monday, May 21, 2007
So the Spartan was finished about a week ago -- only 3 months late for Valentine's Day! Well, we can't all be timely now, can we?
Pattern: Spartan Pullover, Interweave Knits, Fall 2006
Yarn: Mission Falls 1824 Wool (colorway 14), 13 skeins; O-Wool Classic (crap. I lost the ball band. I used one skein and it's the off-white kind ... here it is, Oatmeal)
Needles: US 7s and 9s
Modifications and Notes: I did a lot of messing with the numbers in order to use this yarn (I got 5st/in instead of 3.5st/in). Some things worked, some didn't.
What worked: I knit for the smaller size (41 3/4") but altered where needed for the BackBou. I used Anne Budd's sleeve formula from her sweater book instead of the pattern's sleeves, just because it seemed easier to work the increases properly. I used O-Wool for the contrast yarn and although it wasn't a perfect pairing, I think it looks good.
What didn't work: My increasing for the colorwork was not enough and the sweater sustained some puckering.
Here is a detail of the puckering. Now, I think it's not that noticeable when the BackBou is wearing it, so I didn't stress about it. Blocking really made a tremendous difference.
Another snag in the sweater process was the yarn supply. I have no idea where my head was when I began knitting this sweater thinking that I had enough yarn. I was 4 skeins short. And then I tried to order more. I thought I failed (due to some dubious customer service), so I ordered yet again from a different place. But then all the yarn came in and now, after the sweater and 2 Dulaan hats, I still have 2 more skeins to knit up somehow. Err. Let's just say, if I could have ordered through my LYS, this would not have happened.
This project took so long because of three things: 1) I ran out of yarn, 2) I was knitting the Anemoi vest for the RWS Auction, and 3) I wanted to finish my CPH (selfish little knitter that I am!). Aside from these factors, this was an incredibly easy and fun knit and would be a great project for someone wanting to play with a little colorwork. Knitting in the round is just so easy and great for knitting during movies or drinking and knitting -- a bit boring, but low risk!
I was desperate back in March while in Vermont. I ran out of yarn (I have a yarn packing disorder, I need serious mentoring) and rushed off to find some sock yarn at the LYS (which is really just a sewing store). So I'm standing in front of some great Trekking and I say to myself: "Well, I have some Trekking at home, but I don't have any of this Swizzle stuff, why don't I just try this?" I didn't really feel it. I didn't think, "Too much Trekking? HAHAHA! What a ridiculous concept!" I just grabbed the Swizzle and left, practically trembling from being on a ski vacation, not skiing, and not having ANY YARN.
I hate this yarn. It doesn't knit up nicely. It splits. It feels rough. But the BackBou doesn't mind the socks, he says he really likes them. He's a keeper. He is going to get some really nice socks after this.
A Pleasant Surprise!
I reached into the back of my closet today to find the Sea Silk that I bought last year in Victoria, BC. I had finally narrowed down my choices of patterns, feeling a bit bummed that I only had one 400m skein. I found the Sea Silk, untwisted it to place it on the swift and, not unlike the Biblical division of the loaves and fishes, there were two skeins of Sea Silk!! I had bought two! I'm not as daft as I thought I was! I am a knitting genius!
No one else in the household seems to understand, but they smile indulgently as I walk around muttering, "Two skeins! 800 meters! Brilliant!"
Sunday, May 20, 2007
As promised, here's the planned queue, with details:
Row 1, L-R:
1. Reynolds Mandalay for Simple Knitted Bodice. This yarn started its life as Cozy at some point in 2005. The pattern, while lovely, bored me to tears, so I frogged it. Thus, over 2 years in stash.
2. Classic Elite Flash for a skirt for Rosebud. This yarn was purchased at a sale at Lettuce Knit (no website) in Richmond and was knit into Soleil. These 4 skeins are the leftovers. This yarn has been in stash for 3 years, at least.
3. Mission Falls 1824 Cotton for a Baby Surprise Jacket. This is actually kind of sentimental. This is a bunch of odds and ends leftover from various baby sweaters, but a lot of it is from the very first sweater I ever knit, since frogged, a baby sweater for Rosebud. Stewart recommended I make "the Hand." I have since made it two other times, and because of it, I have sworn off intarsia. Forever. Anyway, the BSJ is intended for the recently born son of a certain knit blogger that I have known for over 20 years. Marnie, if you are reading, surely you won't mind a long stashed, recycled yarn BSJ for your darling boy, will you?
Row 2, L-R:
1. Tess SuperSock and Baby: This yarn really just represents the socks I plan to knit this summer. My goal is to knit 5 pairs this summer. Some patterns on the horizon include Leyburns, Wildflower socks, and of course, Nancy Bush, as well as some man socks -- see below. Newly acquired.
2. Green Mountain Spinnery Sylvan Spirit for the next XRK KAL -- our first Yarn-along! I am planning a Rusted Root. I can't wait to see what y'all decide to make with this stuff. I'm not sure Rusted Root is the right pattern, but I'm going to try. Newly acquired.
3. Katia Jamaica for a dress/tunic for Rosebud. This is my current WIP, and my latest design. More details to come. This yarn has been in stash for about a year.
Row 3, L-R:
1. Brooks Farm Primero for Shetland Triangle. I am a little concerned that I do not have enough yarn to make it large enough...I am willing to take some suggestions for this one. Newly acquired.
2. Brooks Farm Acero for Man Socks. There are certain men in my life who seem to be desiring the handknit socks: my father-in-law, my brother, and as always, my beloved. I hope to knit a pair of socks for at least my FIL and my brother, and maybe my hubby, but he has gotten a lot of the knitterly love this year. Newly acquired.
3. Touch of Twist Alpacas for shawls. My SIL has requested a shawl. I am itching for lace. There just might be a Spring Things shawl in the works, and maybe an Ene's shawl too. Newly acquired.
So, it works out to:
2 tops for me
2 projects for Rosebud
bunches of socks
3 lace shawls
1 baby jacket
Ambitious, perhaps, but inspirational, all the same. Don't forget to leave suggestions for the Primero in the comments.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Last summer was a great process for me. I focused on knitting and creating, and not on buying more yarn. I curbed my desire for the new while rediscovering the yarns I had. I made some great pieces. I edited the stash by releasing loser yarns, finishing UFOs and got rid of yarns with negative associations. I found a balance between inspiration and acquisition, and know how long the queue can reasonably get before I begin to feel uncomfortable.
I made peace with my stash.
I am not naturally a hoarder, nor am I much of an impulse shopper. I've never blown the grocery budget for a great deal. I do not haunt local yarn shops. I have enough self control to keep the stash at a manageable size, and have a real sense of when I want to buy, and when I just want to knit with what I have. I love the yarn in my stash, and when the stash gets too big, I feel like it takes me further away from yarn I really want to knit and projects I really want to make.
I finally figured out that I will eventually use most of the yarns in my stash. I buy a lot of sock yarn, but I knit a lot of socks. I'll knit those oddballs into something. I'll find the perfect project for the sweater yarn. I'll be inspired to knit a lace shawl or a cotton top. Someday, I'll want to knit a linen handtowel, and I have just the yarn for it. If I know I'll never use it, I'll give it away or relegate it to crafts for the kids.
I just have to give it time.
Thus I have no guilt or pressure about my stash, and do not need a Summer of Stash to control or organize it anymore. I am feel blessed with an abundance of yarn and inspired by the yarns I have, and though I will likely be taking the summer off from major stash enhancement, I am planning on buying yarn within the constraints of my budget and that's about it.
Instead, I have planned a Killer Queue of (Mostly) Stashed Knitting to organize my summer knitting. A lot of it is new yarn, purchased at MDSW. Some of it is long-stashed. Some are oddball knits. Some will have to be newly acquired. Next post will be the details on the Summer Queue, but here are the yarns I'll be knitting this summer.
It looks like it is going to be a great summer. Tell me, what's in your queue for the summer?
I in no way feel like the SoSKAL is the personal domain of XRK, although we did co-host last year. I am in the process of passing the mantle onto another knitblogger for hosting the SoSKAL 2007, but if anyone wants to help out, please let me know.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
I have also finished the BackBou's Spartan (I even blocked it!). I should have some pix soon ... but meanwhile, I am using all the extra Spartan yarn for Dulaan hats. Here's dear R modeling one (Coronet) for us. I should call this picture a study in greens ...
Friday, May 11, 2007
I joined the CAL as a way of committing myself to successfully executing a design, and finishing the project, no matter the frustration or lack of initial success. I wanted to knit through the problems, and frog until I got it right. I wanted to further challenge myself and write up a sized pattern when it was done.
So it is with a little pride that can say that although it took several tries to get the bodice right, but I am finally satisfied with the denim tank.
Pattern: Pisces Camisole, designed by me
Yarn & Needles: Rowan Denim/Elann Den-im-nit - I noticed no discernible difference in the yarns, US 8 needle.
This camisole was conceived as a way to use up some oddballs in the stash. I have tons of leftover lightweight cotton yarns in the 250-350 yd range, perfect for summery tops for my little girl, including denim, one of the Create Along yarns.
My original intent was to come up with a basic tank recipe which I could easily modify in gauge or details, but I got inspired by the fishtail lace pattern and created with this lacy-but-rugged layering piece. It's no standard tank top recipe, but after knitting the bodice multiple times, I have a real sense of how to shape armholes and necklines without a pattern as a guide. I also know to consider edging details and bulk under the arms. So, I am satisfied that I have learned enough about tank construction to begin cranking out more little tops for Rosebud.
The neckline went through several iterations, including the blogged-about applied i-cord which I can only now call wishful thinking. It was a good idea, but in reality, it was way too bulky for the top, and it had no relation to the rest of the piece. I needed something simple, something that would mirror the scoop neck of most of her cotton tanks. The desired rounded look for the neckline of the tank was finally achieved through short-rows. The finish around the neckline was achieved with a simple, decorative bind off, and the armholes have a row of single crochet to flatten them a bit.
I did keep a lot of detailed notes as I made this camisole, hoping to further challenge myself and write up a sized pattern. However, I began to run out of steam (hence the wishful post about the i-cord) and the notetaking suffered at the end. The decreases around the straps are, um, improvised; those beads are not just for decoration.
Of course, I could swatch a bit or reknit just a bodice piece and carefully perfect the line of the tank. Sizing would be a piece of cake -- just add or subtract a lace repeat.
I think I'll just be satisfied with the tank as it is. An original design by me.
And the name? First, I used the Fishtail Lace pattern. And my Rosebud? She loves the water, and a Pisces, too.
x-post to CAL
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Clockwise from top left: N's Tess sock yarn (good taste my dear), Terra bargain yarn (2 skeins light indigo, 2 skeins sunflower), a big pile of stuff (1 skein Spirit Trail sock yarn, 4 skeins Green Mountain Spinnery Sylvan Spirit Peridot, 1 skein Brooks Farm Acero), new drop spindle with Spin It book, felting kits from Black Sheep Designs (Jingle balls and birds), and N's dye tops from Springwater Workshop (nice color selection N!).
Most fun was meeting Carol (you totally crack me up), Jody, Erin, Nova, Bridget, and Amy. What a great time! The girls came along and did very well. N truly enjoyed shopping for fiber. Scary. She's only 7. I better up her allowance ...
Then home again for a photoshoot of our kitchen! Fine Homebuilding is going to feature our kitchen remodel in their kitchen and bath issue (out in the fall). We felt like rock stars!
PS: Auntie Lynn -- Sorry we missed you! Thanks for the yummy shortbread!
Monday, May 07, 2007
I'm having a hard time putting together a post about MDSW without repeating everything every other blogger has said about the day: the long lines, the cute animals, the great weather, and of course, all the amazing yarn.
I took the bus from Rosie's Yarn Cellar, and since I have a "in" with a certain bus captain, I managed to snag a seat on the much-coveted Early Bus. This was a great way to travel, since our bus driver was particularly disinclined to sit in the long lines of traffic to get into the fairgrounds, and well, it was a bus full of knitters, so you know that you'll have something to talk about.
I had sort of planned most of my purchases, and for the most part, I stuck with my plans, and gave myself enough room for impulse purchases as well. It did seem for a moment that I bought an obscene amount of yarn, but the Back Bou was kind enough to point out that I spent less on yarn than Mr. S's and my dinner at Tru, and have no useful garments to show for that!
I was also so excited to meet up with certain bloggers and spend time with my IRL knitting friends. I finally got to meet Minty (and her Mom!), and was pleasantly surprised to see Nova there as well (with her absolutely darling son and hubby, too).
But the true highlight of MDSW for me was getting to spend the day with Ann and her family. I could have been absolutely anywhere for the day with her gang and would have had fun. Hell, I could have even been in a yurt and been totally satisfied with my day. Throwing in the incredible yarn was truly just a bonus to a day with my dear, dear friend.
The only thing missing? The only thing keeping the day from being perfect?
You, of course. We missed you terribly.
So do you want to see the haul?
From Brooks Farm
Four skeins of Green Mountain Spinnery's Sylvan Spirit
There were a couple hanks of Spirit Trail sock yarn that are not cooperating with the camera, but they are lovely as well.
But now I do think it might be time to reinstitute a Summer of Stash...
Friday, May 04, 2007
Just a couple of notes:
- There have been a few posts on the old Summer of Stash blog, wondering if we plan to reactivate. I have not yet decided if I need to take another break -- we'll see how this weekend's binge goes. If any other blogger is interested in taking over admin duties, please e-mail me.
- Holy Mother of All Time-Suck! Ravelry is ingenious and I am hooked. Go sign up to get your invite. Now.
- Ann and I will be at MDSW for our annual XRK Summit, but we will be missing our Mo deeply. We will be at the big blogger meet-up to hook up with some friends, and we'll try not to be too embarrassed when no one knows our humble blog.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
I quickly discovered that I much prefer using magic loop, and that I like a firm, snug sock. My default needle is a US1, and would eat dirt before knitting another pair of socks with a size 0. I have a decided preference for toe-up socks. I am not sensitive to scratchiness in sock yarn. I find equal enjoyment wearing both my Regia socks and my Koigus. I like to knit solid socks, patterned yarn, variegated yarn and stripey yarn. I do not expect fuzz-less socks, but I do expect for my socks to wear well. Holes upset me, darning stymies me.
And as I learned all these things, I began to develop this inner Voice of Experience, my inner sock knitter. This voice of experience began to inform all my decisions about sock making.
"I know that pattern calls for US2s, but you prefer a tighter sock. Shouldn't you just knit with your US1?" she reminded, so I knit at a tighter gauge.
"Remember how much you like toe-ups!" the Voice said, so I knitted most of my socks from the toe up, rejecting Nancy Bush and Cookie A patterns to knit yet another toe up Widdershin.
But the VOE began to get a little more insistent, a little more dictatorial about making socks.
"You hated knitting those socks with Trekking," she chided, so I passed up some great sock yarn.
"Sundara's yarn doesn't have any nylon! It'll wear out! It'll pill, " VOE insisted, so my Sundara yarn languished unknit in my stash.
Eventually, like all opinionated voices, this one really started to bug me, and it was time to defy that voice and assert myself again as a sock knitter open to all the possibilities. Monkey seemed like the perfect pattern to try.
Pattern: Monkey, by Cookie A., from Knitty Winter 2006
Needles: US 2 for cuffs, and US 1 for foot
Yarn: Sundara Sock Yarn, hydrangea, one of the 2006 Petals Collection colorways
The VOE had a lot to say about these socks. "You're going to wear a hole in these socks and you know you will never ever darn them."
"They'll be for light wear, then," I said, calmly, and kept knitting, enjoying the feel of Sundara's purple-ish yarn of unmatched beauty.
"You like a snug cuff on socks! The cuff of US2s will be too loose!" it reminded me. I had to acknowledge that VOE was right. I explained to her that I had to choose between fit and appearance. I started these socks on US1s, but the pattern stretched unattractively around my calves. Although the cuff is not quite as snug as I prefer, the pattern looked better on my legs at a larger gauge, and Cookie's pattern is worth showing off.
The VOE grudgingly agreed, and complimented my beautiful new socks.
So the VOE and I are learning how to peacefully co-exist. I can acknowledge her while doing my own thing. I can let her inform my choices, but can will not allow her to limit my possibilities.
But man, the Voice of Experience is just starving for more yarn. She has consumed so much that the sock yarn stash has truly reached a dire level.
I wonder if there's gonna be any good sock yarn at this Sheep Thing in Maryland this weekend...