January 21, 2005

Holidays (Extended Play Version)

File under sad, but true: it's late January and I'm still winding up my Holiday Knitting.

cowl02.jpg cowl03.jpg

This was a special order item. Jason's mom has a bright red neck warmer/cowl that she absolutely loves. She asked me to replicate it in a more subdued color, and I jumped at the chance. Before I jump into my normal project description, however, 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. For a reason that I cannot explain, I was blessed with good instincts for the duration of this project. Such a rare series of good decisions is worthy of enummeration!

Good Instinct #1
I used Peruvian Collection Highland Wool in Oxford Gray Heather. In the interest of warmth, I initially cast on enough stitches to double-knit the cowl. I made it about four inches before I realized that it just wasn't going to work. The double knitting made the tube very stiff, and Jason's mom is all about the drape. (The Good Instinct here is that I only knit about four inches before I realized it wasn't working.)

Good Instincts #2 and #3
I ripped it back and started again (#2). To avoid a roll at the bottom, I cast on with size 11s and did several rows of K1P1 ribbing (#3) before switching to the size 7s I used for the rest of the cowl.

Not only did the loose ribbing keep rolling to a minimum at the bottom, it also matches the ribbing at the top. The top ribbing is modeled exactly on Jason's mom's current cowl. In fact, she told me that her favorite thing about it is that it stays up when she pulls it "up to my glasses" to keep her face warm in the cold. In order to insure this effect, I went down a needle size for the last inch of the top ribbing. Bad call - when I bound off and went to try it on, the opening at the top was too small. (IF we were keeping track, this would be Bad Instinct #2; #1 would have been to try to double knit it.)

Good Instinct #4
I ripped back an inch, and stayed with the no. 7s up to the last row. Then I did something radical: I switched up a needle size and did the tubular cast-off. Montse Stanley, who was gifted to me for Christmas, held my hand as I finished it off.

If anybody's interested in the pattern for this, leave a comment and I'll type it up for you. It's a pretty fast knit and in the brief period that I had it on for picture taking purposes ("Quick, take the picture before the hives kick in!"), I found it to be very warm.

Oh, and one more thing... any ideas about what I can do with several unused balls of this yarn?

(ETA: I've added the pattern in the "more" section!)


Yarn and needles: Whatever strikes your fancy, so long as you get gauge. (The needles must be circular, 20" or shorter)
Gauge: 4 stitches to the inch (16 sts = 4")

CO 112 stitches onto needles several sizes larger than the needles you'll use for the body. Place marker and join
Rows 1-6: K1, P1, repeat to end. (Ribbed section should be 1.5 inches)
Row 7: Switch to smaller sized needles. K 56, pm, K to end.

Continue knitting all stitches. When stockinette stitch section measures 1.5 inches, knit the following decrease row: K1, K2tog, K to 3 stitches before first marker, SSK, K1, slide marker, K1, K2tog, K to 3 stitches before second marker, SSK, K1.

Continue stockinette section, doing a decrease row every 1.5 inches, until piece measures 15 inches and there are 80 stitches. (You will probably have to knit about 1.5 inches even after the last decrease row in order to reach the 15 inch length.)

Next Row: K1 P1, repeat to end.
Repeat this row until the ribbed section measures 6.75 inches (or desired length).
Bind off using tubular bind-off method, or your preferred elastic bind-off.

Posted by shannon at 4:00 PM | Comments (6) | For related posts: Christmas Knitting 2004, For Shirley, Mother-in-Law Cowl

December 29, 2004

Christmas 2004 Round Up (Vol.3): The Best Present


Looks like I joined this year's the mini-sweater ornament craze, right? Well, not exactly.

Just before Christmas, Jason's sister was heading into the last month of her pregnancy. When her blood pressure started creeping up, they decided to play it safe and have this baby sooner rather than later. Baby was very nearly full term, and looked to weigh around five pounds during the last scan. Imagine everybody's surprise then when baby Sydney arrived, a few days before Christmas, at a whopping three pounds, 13 ounces.

Jason spent Syd's Birth Day patiently explaining to everybody in his family the three things that preemies tended to struggle with: breathing, eating and regulating their temperature. Sydney pulled off all three with aplomb from the beginning; except for her petite stature she seemed for all the world to be a healthy, full-term newborn.

A healthy, full-term newborn with no clothes that fit her, that is. News trickled up from New York: preemie clothes were too big, Jason's mom was quickly sewing up buntings as fast as she could. All I knew was that this child needed a sweater, and quick. Auntie Gringa to the rescue!

I did some research on the chest and length measurements of preemies and some back-of-the-envelope calculations to convert the Bulky Baby Bibby pattern into a Worsted Preemie Bibby pattern. Not counting a few ripping interludes, I'd guess that the whole thing took 90 minutes and less than a ball of Classic Elite Spotlight. (The bib didn't "down-size" well, so I eventually scrapped it, and made it a Worsted Preemie Cardie.) The final result was impossibly small. I kept measuring it and comparing it to the preemie stats I had found because I just couldn't believe that it would fit a human being.

On Christmas Eve morning, we raced down to New York, eager to meet the newest family member. Jason sister called: the doctors had given Sydney the green light to go home. The siblings conspired; we were to head directly to Jason's parents house where his sister would meet us with the baby. The parents were not to know. By the time they arrived the whole family had congregated for festivities, and there was -- as you can imagine -- much rejoicing.

A few hours later, when Jason was showing his sister the art of swaddling (I know! Swaddling a baby! On CHRISTMAS EVE! Oh, the symbolism!), he grabbed the sweater and slipped in on her.



Merry Christmas, indeed.

Posted by shannon at 6:00 PM | Comments (9) | For related posts: Christmas Knitting 2004, For Sydney

December 28, 2004

Christmas 2004 Round-Up (Vol. 2)


Jason's family did a modified Secret Santa this year -- each couple picked two individuals in the family for whom they bought presents. We picked John (brother-in-law) -- you've seen my knitting contribution to his presents -- and Lauren, Jason's sister-in-law. (You may also remember Lauren as the recipient of the Honeymoon Cami.) The choice for Lauren was an easy one; I had heard raves about Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Superchunky, and once I laid eyes -- and hands, my goodness is this stuff soft -- on Alison's orange bliss scarf I was sold.

I used Deep Rose, a subtle mauve-y pink. The yarn knits like a dream, and fast. It was like a great book, as I approached the end I slowed down because I didn't want it to end. I take comfort in the knowledge that it found a good home. ;)

Posted by shannon at 1:20 PM | Comments (1) | For related posts: Christmas Knitting 2004

December 26, 2004

Christmas 2004 Round-Up (Vol. 1)

John, Jason's brother-in-law, is a huge Redskins fan. So when we picked him in their family's Secret Santa, I knew we had at least one "no brainer" gift. This scarf was based loosely on Hogwarts scarf, and I used Lamb's Pride (Worsted) and Nature Spun -- both by Brown Sheep. It wasn't as long as I had hoped, but since it's knit in a tube it's easily the warmest scarf I've ever made.

John was enthusiastic about the scarf, to say the least. Given his enthusiasm, I suppose I can forgive him not having seen or read any of the Harry Potter series...

Posted by shannon at 12:22 AM | For related posts: Christmas Knitting 2004

December 25, 2004

Holiday Knitting

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate!

Just to keep the knitting pressure on, this post will stay on top until Christmas Day. (In other words, new content will appear below -- so scroll down!)

Mother-in-law Cowl (due date: 12/25)
--Status: Done, and headed for New York! (1/18)
New baby blanket (due date: 12/25)
--Status: Finished! (12/23)
Redskins scarf for John (due date: 12/25)
--Status: Finished!
Late Breaking Addition! Teeny-tiny baby sweater (due date: 12/24)
--Status: Finished! (12/23)
Yankee Swap Scarf (due date: 12/15)
--Status: Done!
Scarf for Lauren
--Status: Done!
New baby booties (to match wrap sweater) (due date: 12/10)
--Status: Finished 12/9, just have to weave in ends during the car ride to NYC tonight.
Blueberry Mango (due date: 12/18)
--Status: Finished 12/5! Done! Maybe a little too long in the arms, but done! (Pictures to come.)

Still Working On...
...nothing! It's all DONE!

Posted by shannon at 12:00 AM | Comments (3) | For related posts: Christmas Knitting 2004, For John, For Lauren, For Mom, For Shirley, For Sydney

December 15, 2004

"Uh...I made it!"

We do a Yankee Swap at our office holiday party. (Who came up with this game? It's barbaric!) And since the "official" rules linked above weren't cruel enough, our rules stipulate that if somebody steals your gift, you can chose a new one from the unopened pile or from anybody who's gone before you. Did I mention that in our office, almost everybody brings -- and expects to leave with -- hard alcohol? A greed for alcohol that inspires stealing from your coworkers: how festive!

This year, I broke ranks. I knit a scarf from Morehouse Merino -- a 2 x 2 rib pattern in gender-neutral black. (No pictures, unfortunately, but I trust you can imagine a black 2x2 rib scarf!) I wrapped it up, and included a note that said:

This scarf is made from merino wool, known for being warm and lightweight. Avoid machine washing/drying unless you want it to become a fuzzy, miniature version of its former self. Wash with mild detergent (hand soap is fine!), squeeze water out and lay flat to dry. Enjoy!

While wrapping the scarf, I indulged in some self-congratulation for bucking the trend. By the time I got to the party, though, I was feeling a little panicky. What if nobody wants it? What if the person who gets it feels compelled to be gracious when all they really wanted was the Bailey's? And finally, Why, oh why, did I bring something I knit? Giving a gift that may be poorly-received is one thing, giving a hand-knit that may be poorly-received is, well... masochistic!

The game dragged on and my little gift bag remained on the table due largely, I think, to the fact that it was distinctly non-alcohol-shaped. Then Sarah approached the table. Sarah and I are buddies -- we've suffered through some awful projects together, which is a guaranteed bonding experience. We're currently suffering through the wedding planning process together as well, which I can report is also a bonding experience. Most important, she and I have discussed the pathology of the booze-fueled Yankee Swap.

I got lucky. She plucked my non-alcohol-shaped present off the pile and came back to our table. She seemed genuinely pleased with the scarf. Best of all, since she knows I'm a knitter and was prepared (I suspect) to be getting something I knit, there was no need for me to awkwardly blurt out, "I made it!"

And with that, I happily cross "Yankee Swap scarf" off my holiday knitting list. Next!

Posted by shannon at 4:29 PM | Comments (3) | For related posts: Christmas Knitting 2004