Saturday, March 31, 2007

Matching Outfits

As promised:

Pattern: Central Park Hoodie, Fall 2006 Knitscene

Yarn & Needles: about 6 skeins of Cascade 220 Heathers, US 7 for ribbing & US 9 for body

Sizing info: I knit the size M (36" bust) and measure 35" around, thus, it gives me about an inch of ease all around. I have seen some discussion that this sweater runs small, and I would say that this sweater fits comfortably but slimly. I especially like how this sweater fits in the shoulder and arm, because as a petite girl, it is important for garments to fit properly in the shoulder. If you are looking for something jacket-like, or have broad shoulders, size up.

Pattern Mods: I did my fancy ribbing so that it looks neat and even. No drunken ribbing here. I also did a three-needle bind off for the shoulders after using short rows to shape the shoulders. This was a revelation to me, with the tidiest shoulder seams I have ever done.

I absolutely love this sweater. I have never knit a sweater in Cascade 220, but I can tell you it will be the go-to yarn for years to come. I have worn it a lot since finishing it, and there is nary a pill to be seen. I also love the mulberry color, and have the incredible StuntMother to thank for choosing it on our jaunt to the Tangled Web. This is not a color I usually wear, but I love it. There are blue and red tweedy flecks throughout the yarn enriching the color. Besides cream or black, what should I wear under this sweater? All fashion suggestions are welcome.

Mr. S finds himself totally stymied by the whole concept of the KAL, asking me why we felt the need to have "matching outfits." He wants to know if we plan on wearing our "matching outfits" when next we meet. Bless his heart. He is such a muggle.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Minty Mind Meld

First, thanks for all the well-wishes. I am on the mend, although I sound like a 3 pack-a-day smoker when I cough.

There must have been some kind of knitters mind meld between Minty and me last week.

Before leaving for my Chicago trip, I had to go through the traditional "what knitting to pack" deliberations. I usually travel with socks, and wanted to use some gorgeous Koigu in the stash. As a general rule, Koigu gets knitted first. Koigu does not marinate. It deserves to be moved to the front of the queue. It demands to be knit. But what pattern to choose? I pawed through the usual suspects, and found nothing that worked with Queen KPPPM.

Then I thought of one of my favorite blog-friends and budding sock designer, Minty. She has designed some great patterns, and shares my deep affinity for the KPPPM and the toe-ups. I went with Anastasia, since it seemed the simplest, and really, that's what I want in my socks lately. And its an homage to Anastasia Krupnik, one of my girlhood heroes.

And while I was choosing my favorite Minty pattern, I was winning yarn at her blog! Yay!

I love this fuschia Koigu so very much, and Minty's pattern is the bomb, but I just made mistakes galore on these socks. And not just on the first one. I truly suck at short-row heels. Not at the actual making of the short rows and the picking up the wraps. Those are lovely! No, my holes are always at the join of the heel and the instep, and even picking up stitches over the gap looks ugly. This is why the Widdershins heel flap is my savior, but unfortunately, I do not have it committed to memory (yet) and thus was stuck with ugly short row heels. At least it sort of blends with the pattern.

My Anastasias kept me company while I was sick in bed, and in my feverish state I continued to make errors. The final one was to cast off the second sock far too soon, and they are noticeably different lengths. In my illness-induced malaise, I didn't care enough to re-do.

And as I blog-surfed over the weekend, I noticed poor Minty was afflicted with the same inertia when faced with a simple fix on her latest pair of socks.

I too have not had the urge to even out these socks, much less re-do the heels to make them presentable. But they may be frogged. Why?

The siren call of the leftover fuschia Koigu and another particularly demanding green KPPPM colorway ended up becoming this:

Am I crazy? Should I frog the socks in service of CHEVRON MADNESS that is sweeping the internets? Or should I just let an FO be actually finished? I'm torn. Leave a comment.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Anemoi Vest Almost Done

We went from this yesterday ...

N skiing with Grandpa at Sugarbush

to this today ...

Epimedium flowers

I had a great trip to Vermont with the family to see my in-laws, cousins, nephews, second cousins, etc. The girls took to skiing like true Norwegians, the BackBou got some fun, slushy downhill time, and I spent some quality time knitting and doing sudoku. Successful all around!

The Anemoi Vest is almost done, it just needs the clasps, but I thought I'd post about it now.

Pattern: Felted Vest from Felted Knits by Beverly Galeskas.
Needles: US10s and 7s, Knit Picks Options
Yarn: Lamb's Pride Worsted Blue Boy and White Frost
Notes: This is a great pattern. Once I accepted how freakin' long it would take me to felt a vest, I really began to appreciate the well-written pattern. It is not for the faint of heart. The instructions use row counts not measurements, so make sure you have a row counter (which I unfortunately found out is impossible for a child to walk by without punching a few times ... errr). First you spend forever knitting the body. Then you have to knit all the provisional borders in cotton and baste the armholes and the front. Then you felt it. After a brief moment of satisfaction and sense of accomplishment, you start picking up stitches, taking out the cotton borders, and reknitting the borders. In the end though, these borders are beautiful.

They are knit in reverse stockinette (1x1 ribbing for the collar using short rows) and then folded over in a 3-needle bind-off with the loops from the picked up stitches. It is so neat and clean -- it makes up for the awkwardness. This was my first time using my Knit Picks Options. I am a big fan. However, the sharp points did give me a sore left index finger. I had to use a bandage when I was executing the 3-needle bind-off after I developed a cut. Ouch. They are wonderful needles.

The Triskele pattern on the back is needle-felted. This was my first try at needle-felting and it was just magical. I became obsessed with this symbol after a vist to Newgrange 2 years ago. It is considered a symbol for fertility (a spiral represents a cycle of a season, 3 seasons to a pregnancy), but could also represent land, sea, and sky or the eternal. I didn't want to knit this in the garment to be felted, but wanted the spirals to link the vest with the swirls on the hat and mittens. So I had to learn to needle-felt.

Here are some close-ups of the needle-felting. I'm going to experiment some more with it and then maybe do a post about my various results! Lots of Waldorf people use this method to create dolls and animals for the classrooms.

I'll post a picture of the ensemble before the auction on Friday! If you are in the Richmond area and would like to attend the Richmond Waldorf School Auction (Friday, March 30th from 6-11pm), check out the website and COME! There will be tickets sold at the door -- for $25 you get dinner, music, and an open bar. Plus, you get to party with lots of knitters!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

CPH Sunday

I just wanted to prove to y'all that I'm done, but I have been sick in bed all weekend. Too sick to buy buttons or even take a decent FO photo. Wah wah wah.

Later in the week, I promise. But let me assure you, this sweater is the perfect sick-weekend sweater.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Tru Love

Most of us in the knitting blogosphere would call knitting their passion; I, too, am a passionate knitter. But I do have other passions that do creep into this blog, passions that pre-date the knitting.

Scroll down for knit-content.

Food. Travel. College Basketball. These are passions Mr S and I share.

Men's NCAA basketball is a true passion of mine. I watch it obsessively, regardless of the team, although I do have certain familial or geographic loyalties. I attend about a dozen games each season, and considered the Big Five a serious pro to my move to Philadelphia. I have a pretty good knowledge of the sport, its players, history and personalities, and have an uncanny memory for very specific games and plays. I am only a casual observer of other sports, and will cheer my local teams, but when it comes to basketball, I am one of the guys.

Mr S and I are coming upon 10 happy years of marriage, and 6 years of parenthood. And as any married parent can tell you, it is important to reconnect periodically as a couple. We need to spend time together outside of our roles as parents and enjoy our shared passions and to participate in activities not considered child-friendly: serious gourmet indulgences, 12 hours straight of basketball viewing, hours of strolling through art museums, sleeping late and various enthusiasms enjoyed shamelessly by married parents staying in hotels.

Our annual tradition is to choose one of the host cities for the March Madness Tournament. We have two amazing days of basketball, and get to play tourist in a big city on our off days. This year, we chose Chicago.

We had the good luck to be in Chicago on Saint Patrick's Day, the day they turn the Chicago River green. This also happens to be the day that the streets of downtown Chicago teem with drunken masses sporting shamrocks and green mardi gras beads. It was amazing people watching as we ate breakfast at Mary's Cafe, strolled through Millenium Park, and stood in line at the Art Institute. We also had the good luck to eat at one of Chicago's best restaurants, Tru.

Mr S and I have had some pretty amazing meals in the last dozen or so years, and Tru certainly takes its place among the best. The service was absolutely 5-star, but without the slightest whiff of pretension. And the food was truly exquisite. Who knew that foams and gelees could be so scrumptious? Tru's claim to fame is their top-notch pastry chef, Gale Gand, and dessert did not disappoint. You have your regular dessert (and since Mr S was having trouble deciding, our server simply brought him both). Then you choose from the candy cart, with homemade root beer lollipops and various barks and candies. Then, they bring you the truffle tray where all the chocolates made in-house are presented. And on your way out the door, they present you with mini-loaves of the moistest banana bread known to man. Simply amazing.

And yes, we did see some great basketball, even though our favorite team went out in the first round. And because this trip is about Mr S and I, I do try to keep the knitting to a minimum. He is so supportive of my knitting in our every day life, it seems the least I can do to not make him stand around a yarn shop while I swoon and fondle on our romantic weekend. We do not visit yarn shops or search out fellow bloggers. But when you just happen to stumble upon the Stitching Salon, what choice does a knitter have?

The Stitching Salon is the centerpiece of Chicago's Winter Delights program, a city-sponsored interactive space that exhibits various fiber crafts and has lots of opportunities for new knitters to learn and experienced knitters to participate. I knew I loved the city of Chicago, but when it encourages knitting as a civic event? My kind of town, Chicago is!

We showed up just before closing, long enough for me to contribute one lone row of knit stitches to the amazing free-form dress being knit by Chicago area knitters. And Mr S indulged me by taking a few photos.

We happily returned home yesterday to some pretty fragile children and an icy driveway, with sated appetites for gourmet dining and basketball. We have been renewed as a couple and have a newfound love for the Windy City.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A Felted Vest and Some Samba

Anemoi Vest
I kept the faith, despite the absurd size.

The vest, she will be a beauty. In 25 minutes (taking it out every 5 minutes to check on it), the vest went from a 40in length to 24in length. I stretched it a bit after this picture to even things out a bit. It is almost dry, it's been two days of drying.

Tonight I will knit the borders, tomorrow needle-felt the triskele design on the upper back, and then hand it over to one of my unsuspecting sewing friends for the Dale of Norway pewter clasps. I'm very excited about how the vest will look at this time next week!

The BackBou and I travelled to DC Sunday to see the incomparable Gilberto Gil perform at the Lisner. He is truly one of the most incredible singer/poets alive today. He reminds me of the artistic beauty that exists in this world and how political the arts can be (he was named the Minister of Culture of Brazil in 2003, 30+ years after he was exiled from Brazil for his resistance work through music and performance). Don't let your musical tastes be "American-Idolized" people -- explore the rich, deep, nourishing, meaningful world of music beyond what the dominant American culture shoves into our ears.

If you are anywhere close to DC, try to catch the March 31st show at the Lisner with Toumani Diabate. I wish I could be there.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Tangelo in Blue

This may look like a boring ole blue cardi, but it's way more. Yummy yarn, interesting ribbing details and super easy one piece construction. Woohoo, another winner!

Pattern: Tangelo from Fall 2006 Knit Scene (size small)
Yarn: Reynolds Rapture color 569
Mods: No flowers, sorry.
Knit Flicks: The Departed, VCU basketball
Notes: The only reason I knit this sweater was because I bought yarn at a super reduced price a couple weeks ago without a pattern in mind. Tangelo caught my eye in the midst of the CPH project. I'm really glad I gave it a try. I like the way the ribbing on the sides and lower edge add some shaping. Plus, the silk/wool blend will work well this spring.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Swimming in Stockinette

So months ago I decided to knit a felted vest to match the Anemoi Hat and Mittens (btw, how 'bout that Eunny Jang? Huzzah!). I thought, "I'll knit the mittens first to get a feel for the pattern. Then the hat since coming up with the pattern will be the hardest part of it all. Then I'll just need a few weeks for the vest -- I mean, c'mon, it's a sweater without sleeves! Easy schmeasy."

Back up to the first sentence in this post. Do you see the word "felted" next to the word "vest?" Yup. It's there. But unfortunately, it did not really lodge in my brain. You have to knit a HUGE vest to get it to felt to a medium size. That's a lot of stockinette stitch. Right now I'm past the armhole divide and working on the back (the sides are done) and this beast is the biggest honkin' thing I have ever knit. It stretches from one side of my Queen bed to the other and is at least 2 1/2 feet in length.

And now it's warmed up. So I'm knitting on the patio, with 80 degree weather, with a heavy pile of wool on my lap. Ugh. I am planning to felt it on Saturday. I cannot wait.

Meanwhile, I finished up a mistake rib scarf in Malabrigo Stonechat. It is the most fantastic yarn! I can't believe that Liz is lucky enough to have a sweater made with Malabrigo -- how simply wonderful!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Go Knit in Your Jacket!

Readers of this fantastic blog have seen a sneak-preview of this project, but here it is in all its finished-ness!

Pattern: Unconventional Jacket, test-knitted for Carol, knitter, designer, and dyer
To be available at Rosie's Yarn Cellar at some later date

Yarn: Noro Kureyon #126

This is an incredibly clever pattern that takes perfect advantage of Kureyon. It makes a roomy, dolman-sleeved jacket for an active kid. The jacket I knitted is sized for a 5-6 year old, but my Rosebud is one tiny 6 year old. It's pretty big on her, but she will not grow out of it instantly.

It is a very different experience to test-knit a pattern, since it is your job to follow the pattern as written, and not modify it to your needs, but I loved really being detailed and forcing myself to really do things right.

I did make a lot of errors throughout the knitting of this pattern, which, while I'm sure it was annoying for Carol, I think I did truly idiot-proof this pattern! If there was any part of this pattern that was hard to interpret, I was sure to do it wrong!

But the best part of all this test-knitting has been the chance to spend Tuesday afternoons with Carol, who is even better in real life than on her blog. And have you seen her newest pattern?

Rosebud loves it too!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Creating Along

The moment I read Julia's post introducing the Create-a-Long, I was instantly intrigued. What a brilliant idea! Rather than hosting a typical KAL, Julia and Marnie selected some yarns in their stash and invited other knitbloggers to design something, and blog about the process.

Luckily, I had almost all the yarns they selected in my stash: a couple of balls of Kidsilk Haze, one lone ball of Calmer, a truckload of Tahki Cotton Classic, (earmarked for a blanket) and two balls of Denim (in the interest of full disclosure, they might be Elann's Denim, but they are totally equivalent yarns), leftover from my MIL's sweater from last winter. I recently made a semi-pledge to myself to hold off on any significant stash enhancement until MDSW (no caveats there!), so I really wanted to design using stash.

It took a week or two of thinking before I decided on my design idea: a lace camisole/tank for Rosebud, to wear as a layering piece over regular cotton tanks, knit with Denim. I have lots of smallish quantities of leftover cottons in my stash, and love the idea of coming up with a sort of tank-template for her, with the idea of switching out lace patterns, bodice shapes or strap treatments as the inspiration hits.

I began with my Stitch Pattern-A-Day Calendar, and quickly settled on using Fishtail Lace as the main design element. The big question was choosing a needle size, since I wanted the tank to be lacy enough for her under-tank to peek out of the holes without having that macrame plant holder look. After purchasing an extra ball of Rowan Denim to ensure I had enough for copious swatching, I started with a US8 needle, knitted a swatch, then washed and dried it.

The idea is to begin with the lace all over, creating a nice scalloped bottom edge, and then transition to a mostly stockinette bodice, but continuing two lace panels that will then transition into i-cord straps.

Miraculously, I was pleased with the fabric it created, and am ready to begin knitting on the actual piece. I am, however, really trying to finish my CPH before my big trip to Chicago next weekend, so summer clothes for Rosebud might just have to take the backseat for a week or two!

Friday, March 09, 2007

CPH Friday

FO Alert from Mo

The Midlothian entry in the XRK CPH KAL is D.O.N.E.

I love this sweater, and I’ve been wearing it non-stop since I finished it on Tuesday. It was a very easy and quick knit, and I’m happy with the end result. I agree with other bloggers who have said this would be a great first sweater. Or a great sweater that you’ll actually wear.

Here are some details:
Pattern: Central Park Hoodie from Fall 2006 Knit Scene
Yarn: Tahki Donegal Tweed in wine, green and red (color 874)
Gauge: 17 st over 4 inches Needles: 8s and 6s. My new Knit Picks Options needle set came in handy for the buttonhole band.
Knit Flix (or movies watched during the making of this sweater): 49 Up, Ali Zaura: Prince of the Streets, Eron: the Smartest Guys in the Room; Flags of Our Fathers; The Devil and Daniel Johnston; Water and Quinceanera (my fav and, yes, I watch too much TV)

Photos courtesy of my kids who really just wanted to get to school!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Yarn Winding Party

Last night, mouse and I had a yarn winding party. She loves being part of this process, and I love having her help.
Here's a glimpse at some of our work.
* Up front we have Knit One Crochet Too Tartlette in Jellybean. This is slated for a poncho for Mouse.
* Our stacked Cascade 220 green, yellow and red will be felted into Kate Gilbert's Strawberry Clutch from Spring 2007 Knit Scene.
* And finally, the lovely silk/wool Reynolds Rapture is already in the process of becoming Tangelo (without the flowers) from Fall 2006 Knit Scene.
Stop by tomorrow to see my finished Central Park Hoodie!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Vesper Twins

Rosebud and I now have matching Vesper socks.

Pattern: the ubiquitous and always-satisfying Jaywalker by Grumperina
Yarn & Needles: Vesper Merino Sock, Crew, US1 40"Addi Turbo

Notes on the yarn: The colors? Gorgeous! The yardage? Enough for mother daughter socks! The wear? Not so great. After just one wear (Rosebud's were finished then slept in last night), they are very pilly. It's merino.

Notes: I've knitted 20 pairs of socks now, and I have definitely developed some preferences. Magic Loop. Toe-up. Widdershins heel flap. So with a little help from here and here, that's what I did.

No pattern here -- just a 48 stitch plain stockinette sock, toe-up with the Widdershins heel.

Monday, March 05, 2007

What's Just as Dangerous as a Yarn Store?

A garden shop. I had to drive by the Great Big Greenhouse today (Or GBGH as I refer to it on the memo line in my check book register. Other stores that have earned their own tag: TYL and FTLOC.). And since some recent car repairs were $50 less than I had budgeted and since I spent all weekend working in the garden, I had to stop and just look to see what was in ...

I bought lots of seeds. I had a blast. I usually order my seeds from Seed Savers or Johnny's, but I never put in my order this year (we have such a small yard, I usually share the seeds with someone else, but I just wasn't organized enough this year). The BackBou and I have been raking out the beds, planning new compost bins, restacking the woodpiles, and doing the pruning and deadheading that should have been done a month ago when things were more dormant than now.

I have lots of plans to improve the garden which will include a trip to Edible Landscaping in April to, I hope, buy two Arkansas Black apple trees and raspberries to plant by the back fence. I will be planting sugar snaps, carrots, and greens under floating row covers this weekend.

In the meantime, I will plug away at my seemingly endless plain knitting (taking a break from the Spartan and the CPH, I am knitting a felted vest for the RWS Auction) and enjoy the late winter/early spring offerings of the garden.

Blueberry buds

Lenten Rose


Sunday, March 04, 2007

Mr S Goes Electric

Six tries was all I needed to knit a mutually acceptable, properly executed, nicely fitting collar for Mr S's sweater. After all variations on funnels and scoops, we settled on a classic roll neck.

It was so hard for him to (in his mind) criticize the original sweater, and it took a little convincing that I was happy to keep trying until we got it right. He felt like he was rejecting my gift and all my hard work by acknowledging that the collar was wonky.

But for me, I was not going to put this sweater in the finished pile until it was right. I spent over two months knitting this sweater, and I expect it to be worn. I want it to be a useful garment, not some symbol of my willingness to put a lot of effort into something for the husband I love.

It was worth the extra two weeks of attention to find an acceptable solution, and I think he now understands that. I also think he liked being greeted every evening upon his return from work with "Hi honey. Take off your shirt."

As promised, here is Mr S in his new, finished sweater.

Pattern: Dylan Goes Electric, designed by Karen Baumer, IK Summer 2005

Yarn: Cascade Sierra color #24, 8 skeins
Notes: I know a lot of knitters who do not like to knit cotton, but I am not one of them. I actually quite like knitting with cotton, and quite liked knitting with this (mostly cotton) yarn. It has lovely stitch definition and held up well to frogging. It also has enough body to be able to cable without a cable needle, which can be awfully hard with a slippery cotton yarn.

I also think, like other Cascade Yarns, that Sierra is a great value, with crazy yardage (191 yards) and a high quality yarn for a very reasonable (about $8!) price.

Obviously, the test is going to be in the wearing. I went with the suggested Sierra hoping that the wool content will keep this sweater from growing. After some wear and washing, I'll post an update.

Pattern Mods: I swapped out an uncomfortable, ill-fitting funnel neck for a classic roll neck. I knit one round of purl around the neck and knit about 2" of stockinette.

Lessons learned: I learned how to do nice ribbing one project too late. I am really stuck on how much nicer this sweater could have looked if I learned to rib in the combined style just a little sooner.

Also, Mr S does not like a funnel neck, no matter how many times we try, no matter what needle we choose or how high/low it hits him. Nor does he like anything that might qualify as a "mock turtleneck." He prefers a classic roll. Or a crew neck.

We'll just have to see if he actually wears this sweater. He promises he will.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

CPH Friday

from Liz -- Notes on Ribbing Technique.

The Central Park Hoodie is the same as most sweaters in that it features a band of ribbing at the bottom edge of the sweater. Many knitters complain about the look of those loose knit stitches in their ribbing. One stitch is always looser, saggier, and looks distinctly bigger than its companions.

However, I recently discovered this bit of combined* wisdom from Nona and Priscilla Gibson-Roberts, and decided that the CPH was the perfect project to try it out.

Do take the time to read her whole post, but the basic explanation is that you get that loose knit stitch because a purl stitch uses more yarn than a knit stitch. The solution Nona offers is to purl using the same amount of yarn by wrapping the yarn clockwise rather than the usual counterclockwise manner.

Thus, when encountering a purl stitch directly after a knit stitch, wrap the yarn clockwise. On the following row, knit this stitch through the back loop to properly seat the stitches.

The difference is noticeable and really worth this little tweak. My ribbing has never looked so even, my knitting never looked so neat. It works beautifully on ribbing, and throughout the body of the sweater as well. I also never enjoyed ribbing quite so much as these little differences really break up the monotony of K2, P2.

For you CPH knitters, here's how to apply this bit of knowledge to your sweater:

Row 1 - * K2,P1 wrapping clockwise, P1, repeat from * to last two stitches, K2.
Row 2 - P2, * K1, K1tbl, P1 clockwise, P1, repeat from *to last 2 stitches, P1 clockwise, P1
Row 3 - * K1, Ktbl, P1 clockwise, P1, repeat from * to last 2 stitches, K1, Ktbl

Repeat rows 2 & 3 for 4".

I also applied this technique to the body of the sweater, so every time I encounter a purl stitch directly following a knit, I purl this stitch with the clockwise wrap, and then knit that stitch through the back loop.

My only concern is that my ribbing is so even that it seems a little tighter than it should be, and I am worried that it will pull in a little too severely. I am planning on blocking the back before proceeding and examining the results. I'll let you in on what I find next Friday!

* this is actually the basic foundation of combination knitting, which is famous for creating neat, even stitches without rowing out.

From Mo:

This old girl isn’t sure if her ribbing is sagging or not. I’m kind of oblivious to some details. I do use the continental method, so I’m not sure if that makes a difference or not.

Speaking of details, I’ve been won over by the wonder of stitch markers. I understand this is an everyday essential used by sensible detailed oriented knitters everywhere. Being that I’m neither, it never really crossed my mind. Plus, I generally refuse to keep notes in the margins or on sticky pads about those important details. You know, those things you think you’ll remember or will be able figure out by counting stitches or rows.

Now, I understand that stitch markers actually jive with my lazy ways. Mark it and forget it. For this project, they’ve been especially helpful with marking the 10-row cable pattern. One less thing one my mind.

Last night, I reached the sleeve caps, so I’m really trucking.