February 2004 | Main | April 2004

March 31, 2004

As If I Needed More Knitting Ideas...

VKSP04-Cover.jpg

Yeehaw! New Vogue Knitting arrived today! Comments to come!

Posted by shannon at 11:24 PM | Comments (1) | For related posts: Knit Gringa, Knit!

March 27, 2004

Texas: Mighty Fine Knitting!*

I think I've figured out an important factor in my recent Knitting Renaissance: visiting The Yarn Barn in San Antonio. I first stepped foot in the Yarn Barn last year, and found it to be "the closest thing to knitting nirvana that I have ever experienced". I was so overcome by all of the knitty goodness that, while browsing the aisles, I came to the delusional conclusion that I could finish one... no, TWO!... no, THREE! blankets before Jason's sister's baby shower. (Final tally: one finished on time, two were still on the needles. All were in her hands before Henry arrived, though!)

It makes perfect sense, then, that since I returned this year in the throes of a knitting slump that I was rejuvenated by the Yarn Barn. It didn't hurt that they were selling a bunch of Rowan and Debbie Bliss yarn for 50% off! I hemmed and hawed -- I don't usually buy yarn without a project in mind -- until Jason got fed up with my indecision and and practically ordered me to buy something. I ended up with this:

cottonsilk.jpg

I know I'm about a year behind on this, but I think I'm going to make Smooch! The gauge on Cotton Silk Aran seems to be close enough to All Seasons Cotton that I can fudge it with needle size changes, if need be. And I have the advantage of learning from everybody else's experiences last spring. I love my fellow knit-bloggers!

*My paternal grandfather was married to a Texan. Despite the fact that she was not my father's mother, she was the only grandmother I even knew on that side of my family. She used to call us to the dinner table for some "mighty fine victuals!"

Posted by shannon at 11:19 PM | Comments (3) | For related posts: For Me!, Smooches!

March 24, 2004

Zooooooom!

momwaikikiseamed.jpg

I had forgotten how quickly this tank knits up! I started the front on the plane to Austin and all of a sudden, it was done. Fifteen minutes of seaming later, all that's left is (1) slipping it on to make sure there's no glaring problems and (2) crocheting the edging and straps. Then it's off to the blocking board!

This mother's day gift may be done before April!

Project Name: Mom's Waikiki Tank
Pattern Source: Yarn Girls' Guide to Simple Knits; Summer in the City Tank
Size: Medium
Name of Yarn Used: Crystal Palace Waikiki (Cool Jazz), MilleFilli Fine (Turquoise No. 249)
Amount of Yarn Used: 4 skeins/balls of each (I haven't done the edging and straps yet, but I've used less than three skeins/balls of each!)
Needles Used: No. 9 Addi Turbo circulars
Other notions used: n/a
Deviations from the Pattern: I didn't do it on purpose, but on both my mom's and my Waikiki tank, I ignored the gauge. Usually my gauge is right on but it ended up being too big on both tanks -- I think that the weight of the fabric created by these two yarns together makes for looser stitches. Also, I crocheted two straps on each shoulder instead of just one on my tank. Time will tell if I'll do the same for my mom's!
Other Comments (what I wished I'd known before I started this project): I didn't get gauge using the no. 9s, but I didn't get gauge on my tank either. Since my mom wants her tank to fit her just like mine does, wrong is right for this project! Also, these yarns tend to tangle -- check them frequently while knitting before it gets too tangled to use!

Posted by shannon at 9:35 AM | Comments (2) | For related posts: For Mom, Mom's Waikiki Tank

March 23, 2004

How the Gringa Got Her Groove Back

This winter, I hit my first-ever knitting slump: my rate of knitting fell precipitously and no projects -- in-progress or potential -- seemed appealing. Heck, I even walked past open yarn stores without going in. (Tragic, I know.) By the beginning of February, I was worried that I had lost the zeal for knitting.

I'm happy to report that it was a false alarm. As soon as the days started to lengthen, it seems, my urge to knit returned. I knew I was really back in the game when I followed Alison's link to the Mason-Dixon Knitting tutorial on log-cabin knitting -- and could think of nothing else for days.

Last week in Austin, Alaina and I were strolling down South Congress exploring the fun shops and... hey! what's that? A yarn store?! And not just any yarn store, but the Yentala's yarn store! (Who me? Plan our route that way? Never!)

Hill Country Weavers is a charming establishment, complete with front porch seating for knitters and an elderly black lab wandering the aisles "assisting" customers. (Sadly, they do not have a web site that I can find. Happily, Yentala did a virtual tour in December!) I already knew what yarn I wanted (Mission Falls 1824), and Alaina helped me pick colors. This is the epitome of mindless knitting, and I'm loving it!

01logcabinblanket.jpg
Sammie likes it too. 03logcabinblanket.jpg

Project Name: Log Cabin Blanket
Pattern Source: No pattern needed, but tutorial on long cabin knitting found at Mason Dixon Knitting
Name of Yarn Used: Mission Falls 1824 Cotton
Amount of Yarn Used: 2 balls each of Sand (104), Coral (201), Phlox (405), Sea (402) and Fennel (301)
Needles Used: No. 6 Addi Turbo circulars (the balls band calls for No. 7s but I couldn't find mine and my No. 6 circulars are longer [40"], which is necessary when making a blanket of indeterminate size!)
Other notions used: n/a
Deviations from the Pattern: n/a
Other Comments (what I wished I'd known before I started this project):
*Don't forget to do a loose bind-off to avoid the "gathered" effect at the top of every stripe.
*I love the colors that I picked, but looking back I sort of wish that I had chosen colors that contrasted each other more. Also, I should remember to try to be more daring next time -- I only chose five colors and I've been using them in the same order. Next time, go crazy!

Posted by shannon at 10:36 AM | Comments (5) | For related posts: Log Cabin Blanket

March 22, 2004

Spring Fling!

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Jason and I are back from vacation, and boy do I have a lot of knitting-related news to post about! Since Saturday was the first day of Spring, we'll start with my Spring Fling project. Some of you may remember Francine, the cute halter top that went so very wrong. If you missed the saga, the short story is that after several attempts to "alter the halter", I frogged the whole thing (long story here). I went on to use the yarn (Berroco's Denim Silk) to make Lindsay, which was a significantly less stressful endeavor and turned out just fine.

End of story, right? Not exactly. For whatever reason, Lindsay has fallen into the "eh" category of my closet -- she's just hung there, unworn. It bugged me endlessly ('What a waste of good yarn!'), but I still didn't wear it. One day, I think it was in Alison's comments, somebody mentioned that Berroco had a free tank pattern posted on-line. Never being one to pass up something free without at least a look, I rushed over and checked it out. Whattayaknow, it was cute, potentially flattering, and, most importantly, made out of Denim Silk!

tinapattern.jpg

Needless to say, Lindsay is no more. I had hoped that the yarn would be useable as-is, but no such luck: it needs washing. Luckily for me I had a skein and a half of unused Denim Silk left over from Lindsay -- so I swatched and cast on with that.

Cool tank, take three...

Keep your fingers crossed that the third time is the charm!

Project Name: Tina
Pattern Source: Berroco web exclusive pattern
Name of Yarn Used: Denim Silk in Chocolate
Amount of Yarn Used:
Needles Used: No. 8 Addi Turbo circulars
Other notions used:
Deviations from the Pattern:
Other Comments (what I wished I'd known before I started this project):

Posted by shannon at 12:48 PM | Comments (1) | For related posts: Tina (ne Lindsay, ne Francine)

March 11, 2004

If Lovin' You is Wrong...

matchingarmholes.jpg

Looks like I got the answers to my Mom's Waikiki Tank sizing riddles:

On size: The only way, then, to know for sure was to get my Waikiki tank out of winter storage and measure it and/or count stitches... (I cast on for the medium.)
I didn't really have to count stitches (though I did)... a quick glance at the width of my tank compared to my mom's told me that they were very close. Medium it is!

On not getting gauge: I'll admit, I didn't swatch for this tank, but -- here's the rub -- I'm pretty sure that I didn't swatch for my tank, either. Was my tank "wrong", too? Or did I make adjustments in needle size?
When I laid the tanks out together, armhole-to-armhole (as above), I was extremely relieved to see that they were almost identical in length. My original suspicion was right: my gauge was pretty far off for my Waikiki tank, and it looks great. So if using no. 9 needles is wrong, I don't wanna be right.

Project Name: Mom's Waikiki Tank
Pattern Source: Yarn Girls' Guide to Simple Knits; Summer in the City Tank
Size: Medium
Name of Yarn Used: Crystal Palace Waikiki (Cool Jazz), MilleFilli Fine (Turquoise No. 249)
Amount of Yarn Used: 4 skeins/balls of each
Needles Used: No. 9 Addi Turbo circulars
Other notions used: n/a
Deviations from the Pattern: n/a
Other Comments (what I wished I'd known before I started this project): I didn't get gauge using the no. 9s, but I didn't get gauge on my tank either. Since my mom wants her tank to fit her just like mine does, wrong is right for this project! Also, these yarns tend to tangle -- check them frequently while knitting before it gets too tangled to use!

Posted by shannon at 9:01 PM | Comments (1) | For related posts: For Mom, Mom's Waikiki Tank

An Ode to the Knitsmiths

When we arrived in Boston last June, Jason started working two days after we unloaded the moving truck. We had moved into an apartment that needed a ton of work, so I spent the summer days mostly on my own: spackling, priming, painting, scraping, measuring, hanging, building and... oh yeah, looking for a job. Now I love time to myself as much as the next gal, but it is possible to have too much of that good thing.

By August I was climbing the freshly-painted walls. I did something that I'd be meaning to do for a while: I e-mailed Alison to inquire about the Knitsmiths. I went along that very week and had a blast. Sunday evenings were soon a welcome break from the week's regimen of spackling, priming, painting, etc. Alison and I learned we lived near each other, and next thing I knew I was joining her and the boys on walks in our neighborhood. My escape from isolation was complete!

Since I (finally) started working, I had to miss a few Knitsmith-ings due to work-related travel. I missed a few more because of illness, the holidays and personal travel -- most notably my truly extraordinary five out of six consecutive weekends spent traveling. (2004 will be known as "The Year I Lived Out of a Suitcase". Oi.) Anyway, I've probably missed more than I've attended -- which is a total drag.

But there is good news! When Alison made her move to a new server, she also bought the knitsmiths.us domain. So while Dava is responsible for the roof over our heads on Sunday evenings, Alison has given us an on-line home... and what a luxurious home it is! It's a great way to keep up with everybody's work when I can't make it, and it's terrific knitting portal for Knitsmiths and non-Knitsmiths alike. La Gringa Tejedora dice: bien hecha!*

In honor of this new site, and in gratitude to Alison for making it, I present my first ever button:

I'm a Knitsmith! Feel free to grab it, but save the image to your server, por favor!


Note: Our vacation starts tomorrow, so I'll be missing the next two Knitsmiths (weekends 5 & 6 of the five-out-of-six weekend stretch mentioned above). But I've declared the month after our return the "Month of We're. Not. Going. Anywhere.", so I'll be back soon. In the meantime, I'll be keeping up via The Knitsmithy -- and posting here if I can!


*The Knitting Gringa says: well done!

Posted by shannon at 3:04 PM | Comments (1) | For related posts: Knit Gringa, Knit!

March 8, 2004

Haste, Waste, etc...

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We've spent three of the four last weekends in New York. We always drive, and in a strange way I've started to enjoy the four-hour trip. We've gotten in the habit of listening to books on CD and Jason, the doll, doesn't mind if I keep a light on to knit by. It can't be just any knitting though -- if I stare at any fixed point in the car for a long period of time I start to turn green, so detailed knitting or anything that requires frequent referral to a pattern is out. This last weekend, I decided to work on my mom's Waikiki Tank on this trip -- lots of straight stockingette to keep the carsickness at bay.

After we got onto the highway and started our book, I got out my knitting. After looking at the pattern and then starting to knit, I realized that I had forgotten quite a bit about this pattern and project -- some of it good and some of it bad. Here's the current tally.

The Good
1. Speed: this project just zooms along. It's knit with No. 9s and there's just not a lot to it -- especially compared to my only other on-going project.
2. Yarn: the colors are extraordinarily vivid, and the drape of the fabric they create together is (for lack of a better word) sexy.

The Bad
1. Size: When my mom asked me to make her this tank, I had her try mine on for sizing purposes: it fit perfectly. The problem? I cannot, for the life of me, recall what size I made mine. No problem, I figured -- I know my measurements, so I'll just check the pattern. Unfortunately, the Yarn Girls don't provide any measurements-based guidance for picking a size (bust size, etc). Next I tried to guess based on the amount of yarn I had purchased, but I had enough yarn for either the small or the medium.
      The only way, then, to know for sure was to get my Waikiki tank out of winter storage and measure it and/or count stitches. I know, I know, I should have put off starting the tank until I solved this riddle. But had I done that, I wouldn't have had any car knitting -- and I'll always chose ripping later over being idle now. (I cast on for the medium.)
2. Needle Size/Gauge: When I finished the back, I glanced at the pattern schematics and saw right away that it was too long. From the armhole decreases to the top, it should have measured 5.5" -- instead it was around 7". I ripped back and knit it again -- still too long. I ripped back one more time and re-knit, using a different interpretation their (poorly worded) instructions for the decrease intervals-- still too long. After some deep breaths, I took out the tape measure and confirmed the obvious: my gauge was way off.
      I'll admit, I didn't swatch for this tank, but -- here's the rub -- I'm pretty sure that I didn't swatch for my tank, either. Was my tank "wrong", too? Or did I make adjustments in needle size? Again, only a trip into our dungeon, I mean, basement, to paw through our storage bins will solve this mystery.
3. The Yarn: While I love the colors and the drape, I had forgotten how "tangly" the Waikiki yarn was. It's especially annoying if you have to rip anything out (see #2).

The Lesson
I need to make better notes on my projects. I'm going to try to develop a "form" that I can fill out at the end of every completed work with the essential information. So far, I have:

Project Name:
Pattern Source:
Size:
Name of Yarn Used:
Amount of Yarn Used:
Needles Used:
Other notions used:
Deviations from the Pattern:
Other Comments (what I wished I'd known before I started this project):

Suggestions are welcome for refining this!

Posted by shannon at 10:40 PM | Comments (4) | For related posts: For Me!, Mom's Waikiki Tank

March 3, 2004

Pushing My Buttons

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Alas, there were no four-leaf clover/shamrock buttons at Windsor Button. I settled on these little white flower buttons instead, and I think that they look really cute on the sweater. Here they are up close:

BBBbuttons.jpg

The buttons are more white than they appear in these pictures, I took these without the flash so everything looks "warmer" than it really is.

Posted by shannon at 11:57 PM | Comments (5) | For related posts: Green Bulky Baby Bibby

Long Story, Little Tank!

In honor of Alison's entry about the impending season of tanks, I invite you to sit down and get comfortable as I spin a good, long yarn about my newest tank project.

Last June, Jason's family and I threw him a birthday/farewell surprise party. I chose that special occasion to debut my Waikiki tank, and it was very well received. As I noted at the time, my mother paid me the ultimate compliment: she asked me to make her one. She offered to buy the yarn if I would provide the labor. What knitter has ever passed up such an offer?

In August, not long after Jason and I moved to Boston, my parents came to visit for the weekend and my mom and I went to Woolcott & Co. to find yarn for her tank. As you might recall, mine was knit with Crystal Palace Waikiki (left) and Filatura Di Crosa's Millefilli Fine (right).

flame.jpg mffred.jpg

Never ones to fix what ain't broke, my mom and I began our search with these same yarns. She was immediately drawn to the Waikiki in Cool Jazz, which is a groovy combination of cool blues, purples and turquoise. Now all we needed was the Millefilli Fine in a color that complemented the Waikiki.

Here's where things started to go wrong. None of the Millefilli colors that the store had in stock were good candidates and we couldn't find any good colors in substitute yarns either. Eventually, one of the store employees brought us a Millefilli color card and told us that if we found a good match we could order it through the store. We didn't just find a good match, we found a damn-near-perfect match: the Waikiki in Cool Jazz on the left, Millefilli Fine in Turquoise, color no. 249 on the right.

cooljazz.jpg mffturq.jpg

Nice combo, no? We paid for both yarns, I put the Waikiki in my stash and waited for the store to call when the Millefilli came in. About a month later, they called to tell me that they had just gotten around to placing the order (!!!) only to learn that shipping from their supplier was delayed 4-6 weeks. The woman I talked to apologized profusely for the delay in placing the order, and asked me if I still wanted her to order it. This was in late September, but our goal had always been to get the tank done in time for next summer (2004), so a 4-6 week delay didn't inconvenience us overmuch.

In the flurry of holidays and political activism, I admit that I completely forgot about the yarn. It was only a few weeks ago, while cleaning out my stash, that I found the Waikiki and recalled that four months had passed since I'd last heard from the store. One day last week, after some teasing from Jason and Alison, I looked up their phone number and resolved to call them after work. When I got home that very day, there was a message on our voicemail from the store telling me that the yarn had finally, finally arrived.

Total wait: over six months. I loved making this tank the first time, and it looks like I'll be able to get my mom's done in time for Mothers' Day. Goodness knows she deserves it -- she did teach me how to knit, after all!

momwaikikiyarn.jpg Click to make me big!

Posted by shannon at 11:08 PM | Comments (4) | For related posts: For Mom, Mom's Waikiki Tank

March 2, 2004

Loose Ends

The button saga ends tomorrow! I'm going to Windsor Button after work on the advice of two fellow Knitsmiths. One of them reported an actual shamrock button sighting during her last visit to the store! Could it be true? Have I found the end of the rainbow? All I know for sure is I'll be walking out of that place with the buttons -- shamrock or otherwise -- for the Bulky Baby Bibby. At this rate, the Bulky Bibby will be too small for the Baby if I delay much longer!

You'll recall in my last round-up entry, I displayed a picture of a finished hat for my friend V. My satisfaction was short lived. Despite the fact that it was a ridiculously easy pattern, I'd been struggling with that damn hat for quite a while. For some reason I just couldn't get it right; it was always too big, too small, or too short. I was still unhappy with the hat the "final" time I knit it (too big and too short), but I knew that the yarn just wouldn't hold together for another session of ripping and re-knitting. There was only one thing I could do: I bought new yarn! This time I took my time checking my gague and doing calculations to avoid the problems I'd had previously. I'm so pleased with the way it turned out, and I really enjoyed the yarn. Best part? I'm pretty sure I have enough yarn leftover for another hat! Behold, V.'s new hat!

vikramhat.jpg Knit on US7 DPNs with Debbie Bliss Merino Aran in 301 and 206. CO 84 Sts First stripe is 14 rows, all others are seven rows.

Oh, and Henry's fuzzy hat? I forgot to take it to him last weekend on our trip to the Big Apple. Fortunately for him, we're headed back (again!) this weekend.

Stay tuned for the tale of yarn that once was lost, but now is found -- and the new project its finding has enabled!

Posted by shannon at 11:39 AM | Comments (2) | For related posts: Green Bulky Baby Bibby, Miscellaneous Small Projects