Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Will I See You at MDSW?

Look for me; I'll be the girl in the knitted skirt!

Pattern: Indigo Ripples Skirt, IK Spring 2007 (Rav link)
Yarn & Needles: Elann Den-M-Nit, 9 balls indigo, US5
Pattern Mods: I lengthened the stockinette portion and I only knitted 50 rows of the lace pattern. I also added a few shorts rows right below the waistline but before the first hip increase to account for my apple-ish bottom. I've added all the details in my Rav notes, and included some stats about shrinkage. If you're not on Ravelry, um, why?

I never thought I would knit a skirt for me (I did knit one for Rosebud), but a few in the last year really caught my eye. Jody's. Eunny's. Elspeth's. (Interestingly, they were all designed by Kat Coyle, who I guess we have to thank for the resurgence of the knitted skirt.) The return of Elann's Den-M-Nit this fall sealed the deal for me, and I've been single-mindedly knitting on this skirt to finish it time for MDSW.

I've knit with denim before, and didn't much like it. Knitting the denim can be a chore. I am not usually bothered knitting with cottons, but denim is really hard on my hands and wrists, and the indigo dye rubs off on my hands (but not on my clothes, which was a good thing). But the fabric it creates is perfect for a skirt. It is an extremely comfortable garment, but it feels substantial, like woven denim cloth, especially after shrinking, which firms up the fabric nicely and evens out the stitches. This weightiness keeps the skirt from grabbing and bagging around one's bottom. Instead it skims the curves and when it starts to droop, just stick in the washer and dryer!

This pattern is extremely simple to knit; from the top down, with simple increases through the hips and then some easily memorizable lace at the bottom. The ruffle at the edge takes a long time, and it took me all day to bind off. But it was so worth it. It creates a lightness and movement on a substantial garment, and makes it really fun to wear. I find myself twirling and twisting and walking with an extra swing in my step just to enjoy the swirl!

Minty posted pics of her finished Snapping Turtle Skirt this week, and as I read through her comments, I saw a lot of knitters who loved it (it is gorgeous, and looks great) aren't sure about the knitted skirt. I, too, was once a knitter dubious of the knitted skirt. But I am now a believer. I am not a particularly skinny gal, and my lower half is curvy and womanly and reflects my age and my status as a child-bearer. I have hips and ass and a poochy tummy, and this skirt looks and feels great.

So if you are still not sure, ask me about it at MDSW this weekend. Or even if you believe in the knitted skirt, come on up and say hi! Ann and I will be together for another XRK meet-up, and we'd love to say hello!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Waldorf 2nd Grade Horse

Guest Blogging today is my daughter Nora. She is a second grader at the Richmond Waldorf School and has just finished knitting a horse in her handwork class. I'll let her tell you all about it!

Pattern: Ms. Noelle told me how to make the horse.
Needles: US 8s
Yarn: The yarn only broke once. I spit spliced it.
Notes: I learned decreases. You knit two stitches together. Ms. Noelle knit the ears. The horse was fun and easy.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Better-Than-Booties Baby Socks

The rain for the past two days has forced me out of the garden and back inside the house to find piles of unwashed laundry, no groceries in the fridge, and emails left unread. I'm almost caught up, but I have a number of FOs to post. Let's start with the absolute cutest baby present I've knit in a while. This will be the first of many knitted objects for this little child. Her family has been though more than their share of grief and her arrival brings great joy into our little part of the world.

This picture best captures the actual color.

Pattern: Better-Than-Booties Braided Cable Baby Socks by Ann Budd in Interweave Knits, Summer 2005
Yarn: Spirit Trail Fiberworks 100% superwash Merino
Needles: US 0s
Notes: See the color? I'm finally knitting something appropriate for Project Spectrum!

I'm not crazy about a short row heel. In fact, I strongly dislike them. I had to do two per sock -- the toe is a short row heel. I could live without that, however it was a good lesson for me. (Ugh.) After the short row toe, you do a zig zag bind-off instead of grafting. I don't think I achieved the look of the zig and the zag, but it's nice. Don't try this on any socks that you would wear in shoes since it would probably be uncomfortable.

I can't wait to knit up a BSJ for her for the Fall!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Knitter 700-And-Something... me.

Read more about this amazing day at Wool Gathering here and here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Fantasy vs. Reality

There's nothing like a string of warm days to make me really crave a warm merino jacket.

Pattern: 96-3 Short jacket knitted from side to side in Alpaca, another free pattern from DROPS Design
Yarn: Karabella Aurora 8, Anthracite colorway, 9 balls, US 6 needle
Mods: I made some ill-considered mods to the sleeve that while not disastrous, I would not recommend other knitters do. I'll add detailed discussion in my Rav notes for future knitters of this pattern.

I'm trying to decide if I'm disappointed with this garment, or if I am just being too hard on myself. It's not as if I've knit a total failure of a sweater; it's a striking design, and I've already gotten lots of compliments on it. It resembles a commercially-made sweater, in a good way, in that it is sophisticated and simple. It was a simple knit as well. It got a little big and unwieldy at the end, like all knit-in-one-piece garments, but the pattern isn't challenging to make at all.

It's just not how I envisioned it. I imagined something a little swingier, a little drapier.

Do you all suffer from this, when your actual sweater doesn't live up to the fantasy sweater?

While I really enjoyed knitting with the Karabella, it wasn't the best choice of yarn for this project. Knitting with the yarn is like buttah, so smooth and silky. It makes a beautiful fabric with incredible spring and body. Combine this with a 2x2 rib pattern and we have the perfect storm of fiber memory here. I have to vigorously steam block it every time I wear it because no matter how many times I wet-block this thing, it shrinks! The length shortens a bit, it becomes a little snug in the arms and the sleeve shrink up a little.

The solutions were many. I could have used a larger needle, of course, but I was concerned about wear in a 100% merino sweater. I am hopeful that as I wear the sweater it will droop a bit more; some comments on Ravelry have suggested that the yarn will lose some of its vaunted springiness.

But I'm left feeling frustrated that I struggle with pairing yarns with projects. I have difficulty extrapolating the behavior of a yarn from a swatch, and often don't anticipate what I really want from the fabric of a garment before I select a yarn. Once again, I have a nicely knit, wearable sweater in a beautiful yarn, just not the right beautiful yarn.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Four Skeins of Malabrigo

Remember last fall when I ducked out of the Second Wave Clapotis KAL? Well, I ended up with four yummy skeins of Malbrigo Stone Crop in the stash. One became a Coronet. One a Koolhaas. One skein was sent to China in a care package for my good friend who is working in Beijing trying to get ready for the Olympics.*

That leaves one skein left. No problem. Baby hats! With my last cozy skein in the stash, two boyish hats were a breeze.

Pattern: Earflap Hat from Knitting for Baby by Melanie Falick and Kristin Nicholas
Yarn: Malabrigo Stone Blue
Needles: US 7s
Notes: Easy, fast and just the best hat. I made the larger size so he can wear it (I hope) for a number of years.

I love this book. If you are a beginning knitter, the directions are precise and sufficient. If you are an expert, you'll love how beautifully simple the designs are -- not too fussy but easy to embellish if you wish.

Pattern: improvised
Yarn: Malabrigo Stone Blue
Needles: US7s
Notes: This hat is for a new cousin in Minnesota. It's a simple 2x2 rib that decreased by letting the ribs collapse into each other to become 1x1 at the top. It won't fit him for long, but that's fine. I have a sweater planned for the fall ...

I've always had a problem with pompoms, but I followed the excellent directions in Knitting For Baby and did a fine job on this one!

*An interesting side note: The Chinese government has censored XRK. My friend cannot read our blog. Huh? I couldn't recall any of us saying anything particularly revolutionary or anti-communist. But since we've been censored anyway, please take a moment to read this. Then, if you are so moved, click here and take action.

There. Now we can be censored!

Fire and Earth

The third edition of Project Spectrum has just transitioned from the element of Fire to Earth, and as usual, I am a few days behind.

Pattern: Primavera Socks
Yarn & Needles: Trekking XXL, US2 & US1 needles
Rav info here

In a world full of delicious sock yarns, it was with some relief that I relegated Trekking to my "not for me" yarns. I had used it twice, and really suffered through the last pair in August 2006. I found it splitty and rough, and too thin for my tastes. As you can see, though, I've had a change of heart, and I am pleased to welcome Trekking back into my stash. Having knit more than 30 pairs of socks in the last couple of years, I have developed genuine affection for workhorse sock yarns, like Regia, Jawoll, and Trekking. Socks made from these yarns really do stand up to hard wear, and do not need to be treated with special care in the wash. As the chief (well, only) laundress in our household, I do appreciate that. I've also gotten used to knitting at fine gauges, so the thinness does not bother me as much anymore.

I do have these socks of Nova's to thank for the inspiration to give Trekking another go. I just loved the colorway instantly, and bought it the first chance I had. Project Spectrum provided the perfect excuse to get it on the needles and the Primavera pattern is a great match for the yarn.

Once I finished the Primavera socks, I moved on to a couple of skeins of Shibui yarn in a nice, mossy green for my first Earth project, Hedera socks. I'm much further along than the picture below shows, thanks for daily swimmming lessons for both kids.

And, without planning it at all, I realized that my current sweater WIP (Rav link) fits beautifully into the Earth element, as it is being knitted with the gorgeous Karabella Aurora 8 in the Anthracite colorway. I'll either finish this sweater this weekend or force it into hibernation until fall, in favor of another project I'd like to have done by MDSW!