February 2005 | Main | April 2005

March 31, 2005

(Yarn) Blood in the Water

I mentioned yesterday that I had some worries about the Calmer I will be using for my T-Shirt. My first worry was that I wouldn't have enough usable yarn. The top I knit with it last fall required several ripping and re-knitting sessions, so I had a ton of "yarn fragments". I cast on for the back and used up as many of the fragments as a I could to see how far they would get me. Fortunately, they went a lot further than I thought they would, so I think I'm in the clear.

The second worry was the one I wanted to share with the blog world. When I recovered this yarn in February, I washed it as directed and hung it up to dry. Imagine my surprise -- and chagrin! -- when I discovered flecks of darker color on one section of some of the drying hanks. It was as if some of the dye ran down the hank and "pooled" at the bottom. It was not terribly dramatic, but it was definitely there.

Here, I'll show you. I managed to use most of the yarn with the darker flecks before I did the hem, so look between the bottom of the garment and the hemline. I know it's not clear, but take my word for it: any variation you see there is the result of the bleeding color.

calmerColorProblem.jpg
Help, I'm bleeeeeeeding...

The T-Shirt pattern calls for the collar, sleeve edging and design to be knit in a contrast color, so the bleeding color worried me. I did a little research but found no mention of this problem with Calmer. I'm hoping my experience was a freak reaction caused by some external substance. (I'm thinking body lotion, deodorant, etc that got on the top when I wore it. This seems to make sense, since the hanks of yarn that bled were mostly from the sleeves, shoulders and collar -- areas that fit most closely.)

I thought about swatching the two colors together and washing it to see if there was any color transfer. But I'm already concerned about not having enough of the main color to complete a project, and I don't want to lose more of it if the contrasting color does bleed. I know that Nona's T-Shirt knit-a-long doesn't start until tomorrow, but I'm curious -- has anybody else experimented with washing two Calmer colors together? If so, how did it come out?

Posted by shannon at 2:09 PM | Comments (3) | For related posts: Fixin' Vixen in a T-Shirt

March 30, 2005

Two for One

One project means one knit-a-long, right? Well yes, unless you're a compulsive joiner like me!

fixin' vixen  NumberOne: When I joined Alison's February Fixin' knit-a-long, I reclaimed a bunch of Calmer from a top I never wore. I didn't have a perfect project in mind for the Calmer, so I bided my time...

nothin' but a t-shirt knit-a-long  Number Two: Alison made my patience worthwhile with her Nothin' But a T-Shirt pattern in MagKnits. It took me all of about two seconds to ask Nona if I could join the knit-a-long.

So here I am, signed up for two knit-a-longs for one project. Because this is my house and I make the rules, I'm gonna go with it -- let's call it the Fixin' Vixen in a T-Shirt project, shall we?

Nona's T-shirt knit-a-long officially starts in two days (April 1), but I've already started knitting. Not (just) because I'm impatient, but also because I have some worries about my Calmer and I wanted to be sure it was going to work for this project. At least one of the concerns might be of interest to others working on this project, so I'll do my best to post about it later today or tomorrow before the knit-a-long officially gets under way.

Posted by shannon at 3:33 PM | For related posts: Fixin' Vixen in a T-Shirt

March 28, 2005

Faithful

I must admit, my experiment in planning made a world of difference when it came time to finish the New Old Faithful cardigan. With one minor exception, it went very smoothly.

I finished knitting the last piece (the back), steam blocked it and started seaming. Side seams went quickly and smoothly, and then it was time to do the shoulders. I got out my three needle bind-off tools and... uh-oh. There are more stitches on one side than the other!

I'd like to pause here for a moment and remind you of something I mentioned a few months back:

...let me say a few words about my knitting instincts. They are not what you would call "good". In fact, they are usually dead W-R-O-N-G.

Ready for some evidence? Here ya go. I assumed that the discrepancy between the number of stitches on the front pieces and the back pieces was a pattern error. So I re-knit the fronts so that they ended up with the "correct" number of stitches. Then Alison pointed out to me that there was supposed to be a facing attached along the back of the neck, which meant that the extra stitches were likely its starting and ending points. Oh. Right.

Never mind that I've been through this before with Cherry Mango, Blueberry Mango and Mango Negro. Note to self: an uneven number of stitches on the front and back pieces of a shoulder usually means that the extra stitches are to be used for the collar or facing.

I re-re-knit the fronts and fashioned a facing. It really makes a big difference in making the cardigan look "finished".

CardiFacing.jpg
For a description of how I did the facing, see the "more" section.

With all the parts finished, I eagerly slipped it on. The fit was great, and the buttons were interesting without being distracting.

CardiFinished.jpg
All done!

Just as I was having visions of wearing it regularly at the office, the itching began. First it was the back of my neck, then my wrists joined in the fun. That I am allergic to wool is not new, but this yarn is only 50% wool -- it shouldn't be so bothersome! Apparently, texture matters: this yarn is rough and a bit rope-y, which I think makes it more irritating.

Tragic, no? So what am I going to do? I have a two-stage plan. First, I'm going to give it a good washing and hope that it softens up. Failing that, I'm going to line the neck and cuffs with matching fabric since those are the areas that seem to be most irritated by the wool. I'm thinking some wide satin ribbon might do the trick. (Got better ideas? Leave 'em in the comments.) I'm determined to make this sweater wearable, dang it!

Facing
I'd never done a facing before, so I kind of winged it. After using the three-needle bind-off on the shoulders, I put the three stitches left on the neck-side of the right front piece back on the needle. I started working with the RS facing me, and at the end of the first row I added one stitch for a total of four. With these four stitches, I followed the K2P2 ribbing pattern established. After I had about five inches of facing, I began seaming it to the back piece starting at the right shoulder (where I'd started knitting). I'd knit a bit and then seam a bit -- it helped me get the tension of the facing just right, and insured that I didn't make it too long. When I reached the left shoulder (which also had three stitches left over on the neck side of the front after seaming the shoulder), I decreased back down to three stitches on the facing and kitchener stitched the facing the the left front. I seamed the last few inches of the facing to the back and Voila! We have a facing!

Posted by shannon at 2:54 PM | Comments (4) | For related posts: Black Cardigan

Black ribbed cardigan from 1,000 Sweaters Book in Marks & Katten Bom Ull (Project retired. It was never going to stop itching so after months of it languishing in my closet, I gave it to charity!)

Posted by shannon at 11:56 AM | For related posts: Finished Projects

March 17, 2005

True Columbia Blue

In my opinion, one of the best reads in the blog world is the media analysis done at CJR Daily, the blog of the Columbia Journalism Review. One of the things they do is the Blog Report1, which today included the following hilarious tidbit:

The Liquid List gives us a screenshot of CNN.com this morning, which featured as its main photo Jose Canseco on Capitol Hill, and included among its top news the sale of Toys 'R' Us, updates on Robert Blake and Scott Peterson, and details about "American Idol" making "its first major cut."

"ANWR. Social Security. Decreased life expectancy due to childhood obesity. Wolfowitz. Bolton. Italy leaving Coalition of the 'Willing.' Syrian intelligence agents leaving Beirut. Darfur still genocide. Americans still without healthcare. Wars. Wars. Wars. Poverty," writes the Liquid List's Oliver. "And this ... is CNN?"

1And even though I liked them before they recognized Jason's genius (scroll down to the paragraph starting "Moving on.."), that certainly didn't hurt.

Posted by shannon at 5:01 PM | Comments (2) | For related posts:

March 16, 2005

Seamed Until My Fingers Bled

After yesterday's baby-fest, I really should mix it up and talk about my New Old Faithful cardigan or the plan for my salvaged Calmer or my pink socks or... well, you get the idea. But I have to indulge in just one more adorable baby-with-handknits picture to celebrate the fact that Syd's baby blocks are DONE.


SydWithBlocks.JPG

You can't really tell in this picture, but the 'S' is duplicate stitched in red "sparkle shit".
The sparkles also make appearances in some of the other red pieces.

I think that the colors turned out great -- and they match the nursery (check out the crib bumper)! Plus, I managed to put every block together correctly for the first time in the history of knitting baby blocks . ("Correctly" means that relative to the letter side, each of the patterned squares is in the same place on all of the blocks. For example, the garter stitch square is the top, the backet-weave square is the left side, etc. It's an entirely artificial standard imposed for the purpose of satisfying my insatiable desire for order ensuring even color distribution.)

I used Tahki's Cotton Classic except for the green, which was Rowan Handknit DK. I cast on and off with 6s, knit with 4s, and chose duplicate stitching for the letters. This turned out to be way easier than my previous attempts at intarsia. Looking back at pictures, I also see that my most valuable skill acquisition since Henry's blocks is the mattress stitch for seaming -- everything is much more even and sturdy!

These blocks remain among the most labor-intensive and least knitting-focused projects I've done; I'd say that the knitting part represents well under 50% of the work. But while the process drives me absolutamente loca, the finished product is among my very favorites of all time. Oh, the irony!

Posted by shannon at 3:12 PM | Comments (1) | For related posts: For Sydney, Syd's Baby Blocks

March 15, 2005

Knitting Boomerang

As I've made clear on this site before, I love knitting for babies. Here's one aspect of it that I don't think I've talked about yet: the Baby-Knitting Boomerang. Here's how it works: you knit something for a baby, and you present it to the baby's parents. Baby gets a handknit, parents are touched that you put the time and energy into their progeny, and you get the gratitude and warm-fuzzies of having done something nice. Everybody's happy.

Every once in a while you also get a delayed reward. It's a picture of an adorable baby in a sweater that you made arriving by e-mail. Better still, it's arriving at baby's house to find her dressed in duds you knit months ago. Such were the two Baby-Knitting Boomerangs that came back to me last week.

Boomerang One

I love to get pictures of babies in handknits, but I know it doesn't always work out. Having a new baby around is hard work, after all, whether it's the total life change of the first baby or the exponential increase in demands that comes with any thereafter. So every time I do get a picture, it's a guaranteed Day Improver. In the midst of a grindingly-boring project at work and a sense that this wedding planning is just NEVER GOING TO END, I got a much-needed Day Improver last week.

placketbaby2.jpg
Hey, are you lookin' at my hair?

Is that the greatest baby hair of all time, or what? That's one of our most recent baby friends, modeling the (in)famous Purple Placket Sweater. It's enough to make a girl forget about pattern errors.


Boomerang Two
Remember the teeny-tiny Christmas baby who required an emergency sweater? It's amazing what 10 weeks will do.

SydBooties.JPG
Those booties look familiar?

Last weekend, Jason and I were in New York for his dad's birthday celebration. Every year, they have a "guys lunch" at Peter Luger's, and two years ago we started a complementary "girls lunch". I arrived at Jason's sister's home to find Syd decked out in her Wrap Sweater and booties. When she went for a walk later, they even had the hat at the ready.

SydKnits.jpg
Who's cuter than me? Nobody, that's who.

May many Knitting Boomerangs come winging your way!

Posted by shannon at 5:00 PM | Comments (4) | For related posts: Baby Wrap Sweater, Purple Placket Sweater

March 14, 2005

Baby blocks for Sydney

Posted by shannon at 12:50 PM | For related posts: Finished Projects

March 8, 2005

Sock Show-Offs

In the comments of this entry, both Johanna and Sandy said that they were going to order some Land's End clogs of their own, for orthopedic and sock-displaying purposes, I presume.

As we were leaving Knitsmiths two weeks ago (I know, I know -- bad blogger!), Johanna and I realized that we were both showing off our socks in our new kicks. Alison did us the favor of snapping a picture.

socktwins.jpg
"Sock twin powers, activate!"

P.S. - Hope to see you back at Knitsmiths soon, Johanna!

Posted by shannon at 8:16 PM | Comments (1) | For related posts: For Me!, Socks

Knitsmiths PSA

Attention all Knitsmiths!

Dava's asked that we spread the word: this week's swap has been POSTPONED until March 20 due to construction in our meeting area. Regular knitting is also cancelled for this week. It's a bummer, I know, but think of it this way -- when we next meet, it will be the first day of Spring!

Posted by shannon at 10:45 AM | For related posts:

March 7, 2005

All Buttoned Up

Good news! Despite her early arrival and her diminutive stature, the preemie I mentioned in my recent post is doing really well. She's stable and all indications are that given a few weeks to catch up on size, she's going to be just fine.

We visited her last Wednesday, and that very night I finished the wrap/kimono. I had just barely had enough time to snap a few pictures on Thursday morning before Jason took it to the hospital to give to the new mom and dad. Early mornings are not really my best time, so my efforts to find an object to include for scale were pretty pathetic -- I ended up using the TiVo remote. So those of you who have TiVo will have a good sense of how small this thing is. And those of you who don't, well, you'll just have to trust me. :)

AnjWrap.jpg

The pattern is by yours truly, but the concept is based on this "Isolette Suit" for preemies that I found online while looking for ideas. I added some length to the wrap, put buttons on the inside of the back, and buttonholes on the left and right fronts. Since preemies have trouble maintaining their body temperature, I wanted to give them a way to close the bottom up to keep her toasty!

Posted by shannon at 9:22 PM | Comments (1) | For related posts: Miscellaneous Small Projects

March 2, 2005

Y lo que es bueno es doblemente bueno...*

I know, it's been over two weeks since Valentine's Day and here I am posting about it. But after two crazy weeks at work, I've finally found a moment to show you this:

valentinesocks.jpg
Jason enjoying his Valentine socks

Now do you understand why I couldn't tell you who the Morehouse Merino socks were for?

The socks aren't really meant for wearing outside the house, the merino is so soft and lightly plied that without reinforcement those heels wouldn't survive a day in shoes! But he wears them to bed every night, and seems to genuinely love them. Good thing, since now that he's making an honest woman out of me, the curse has expired and I'm free to knit for him at will. Yee-haw!


*From Pablo Neruda's Oda a los calcetines ("Ode to My Socks"), the last bit of which reads:

Y es esta la moral de mi Oda:
Dos veces es belleza la belleza,
y lo que es bueno es doblemente bueno,
cuando se trata de dos calcetines
de lana en el invierno.


So this is the moral of my tribute:
Beauty is beauty twice over,
and good things are doubly good,
when you're talking about a pair
of wool socks in winter.

Posted by shannon at 3:00 PM | Comments (3) | For related posts: For Jason, Socks

March 1, 2005

Micro-preemie hat and gown

Posted by shannon at 2:01 PM | For related posts: Finished Projects

This Is Not a Test

anjali_hat_02.jpg

We interrupt your normally scheduled knitting with an emergency knit.

Yesterday, I learned another teeny-tiny baby -- this one much earlier and smaller -- was about to make an unexpected arrival. Using Wendy's Velvet Touch, I made her this little hat last night. (I wish there was something in the picture for scale, it's incredibly small.) As soon as the hat was finished, I cast on for a tiny robe/wrap/bunting in the same yarn.

She's doing as well as could be expected. I wish I weren't getting so good at knitting for preemies.

Posted by shannon at 1:48 PM | Comments (3) | For related posts: Miscellaneous Small Projects