July 23, 2007
Knee Socks, Again!
We recently went to Cape Cod for a wedding, and took advantage of our presence in the Bay State to visit some of our friends! Flight schedules prevented me from attending Alison's book signing at Webs, but I did get to see her for a few minutes before she dashed out the door.
And look what she had for me!
That's right, it's the yarn from the dearly departed knee-socks! I had forgotten that she also snagged a skein for herself, and thanks to her largesse, the knee socks will live again! Long live the knee socks!
June 14, 2007
A Requiem for Kneesocks
I loved these socks.
Alison enabled the purchase of the yarn (even spotted me the cash to buy it!) from fellow Knitsmith Reese. It sat in my stash for a bit while I was waiting for inspiration when one day it hit me: I needed knee socks. Red ones. With cables.
The cable up the back of the leg was based on a cable I found in the Stitch Bible. I sort of made up the calf shaping as I went.
I loved these socks as soon as they were done. The yarn was so soft that even I, the Great Allergic One, could stand to wear it next to my skin for brief periods of time. These pictures don't really do the colors justice, either -- a bright, clear red with a petal pink. They were perfect for commuting on public transportation on a cold winter's day -- I would wear them on my way to work to keep my legs warm, and take them off when I got to the office.
I'm sad to report that these socks were recently lost in a felting incident. I'd happily make myself another pair, but both Reese's blog and Etsy store have been dormant for some time, so I think the chances of getting any more yarn like it is pretty slim.
A moment of silence, please, for the Kneesocks.
July 25, 2006
When in doubt, knit for babies
We're pretty settled in down here in our nation's capital, and are adjusting to the new house, higher humidity, and Metro knitting. So let me catch you up a bit!
My birthday was about a month before we left Boston, and Alison thoughtfully gifted me some beautiful Canasta by Ellyn Cooper's Yarn Sonnets. After some false starts ("It's going to be Tubey. Wait, no...*rip* ... it's Clapotis! No, that's not it either...*rip*...") I decided on using it to make a modified Hourglass Sweater (from LMKG). I made the sweater with 3/4-length sleeves to conserve yarn, and knit the pieces flat up to the armholes to give it some additional structure. Once up to the armholes, I joined all of the pieces and knit the rest in the round -- adding several extra rounds at the top to maximize strap coverage. The yarn was a real pleasure to knit with, and while I had to alternate skeins from the bottom to the armholes to prevent pooling, once I started the decreases I found it wasn't necessary. I can't wait until it's no so hot and humid here, and I can actually wear it!
Last weekend I finally set up my knitting area in the basement. I have big plans for this little nook, but for the time begin I'll settle for my yarn, blocking board, ball winder, and swift being out of boxes and in a place where I can use them again. Hooray!
Some of you might have gathered or heard that Johanna and her hubby have taken over our Boston-area apartment and are happily getting it ready for their baby. It's wonderful that somebody we know and like moved into our place (and that there's still knitting going on there!), though pictures like this one still throw me for a loop -- hey, that's our old porch!
Anyway, Johanna was very sweet and sent me some lovely pink and brown Koigu after hearing me complain endlessly that I couldn't find this colorway of Artyarns Supermerino. Her generosity raises a dilemma, though. I was originally looking for the Supermerino to make a pair of socks as a gift. Now that I have the comparable colorway in the incomparable Koigu, am I going to be able to give away the final product? Stay tuned!
Finally, the itty-bitty baby socks are what happened when I finished the projects on my needles, but had yet to unpack my yarn or pattern books. What to do? Why, cast on for baby socks, of course! I used remnants from the Koigu socks I made for our real estate agent who was so instrumental in us getting this house we love so much. You can see a very blurry picture of them here, and a picture of the colorway here. The baby socks will soon be winging their way to a friend who just found out she's expecting her first baby -- they don't know if they are having a boy or a girl, but I figured this colorway would do either way.
So now what? I don't know. Maybe it's all of the moving-related upheaval, but I'm having trouble deciding on a new project. Not to worry, though -- my friends and family are doing their best to increase the earth's population these days, so there's always baby knitting to be done!
March 21, 2006
The Thrill of Victory
Let me get right to the point: I adore this sweater. I like it so much, in fact, that I have already worn it four times since I finished -- three times for dinner with friends and again to its Knitsmiths debut yesterday. It's comfortable, the fit is right, and the yarn is so soft. In terms of the way it feels, Samoa is the most like Calmer that I've encountered.
The pattern's been written for days now, and I've been trying to get it posted for about 48 hours straight. Yesterday, Jason's laptop ate it (note to self: Macs and Word documents originated on a PC do not play nicely together). Today, I finished recreating it and converting it to a PDF while at work... only to forget to grab my *($^*&% USB drive on my way out the door.
But I cannot contain my joy at the finished product that is this sweater, so I'm posting this entry now and will add the pattern tomorrow morning. [Update: It's up!] In the meantime, I managed to salvage the pattern notes from a previous version on my home computer-- they are in the extended entry if you'd like to read a little bit about the sweater and its construction.
- As many of you know, I knit loosely. Very, very loosely. I used 6s and 7s to knit this sweater, but I suspect many of you will end up using 7s and 8s.
- As I was knitting, I kept row-by-row notes. When I went back to write the pattern, I relied heavily on row counts to do it. As a result, you'll see that the sections (ribbing, armholes, etc.) includes row numbers from beginning to end. I kept them in the published pattern in the hope that they might be helpful in allowing you to make adjustments if your row gauge is different from mine.
- One of the things that I love best about the model sweater is its flattering fit and high ribbing. In particular I love that the ribbing does not "pull in" too much, which allows the line of the sweater to continue uninterrupted. In order to attain this look, I knit the ribbing in larger needles than the rest of the sweater. (Claudia describes another technique for achieving this look in her Mariah wrap-up entry, in the paragraph that starts "Mods".)
- This pattern is fairly easy. The only technically complex section is the short row shaping for the neck, and though I think it makes for a smoother neckline, I've provided alternative directions if you don't want to use short rows.
- Wanna help? This was my first ever attempt to write a pattern, and as soon as I finished my sweater I wanted to share it with the world. Unfortunately, that means it's only written in one size: mine. I would love to size this up and down, and I would doubly love some help with doing that! If you make adjustments for size, please let me know how it goes. Provided that you get the same gauge, if you send in your numbers when you're finished I'll add them to the pattern and give you credit for the help. Likewise, I am 100% certain there are errors in this pattern. If you find mistakes and/or have suggestions, please drop me a line!
- The raglan shaping of my sleeve roughly followed the shape of the sleeve of my model sweater.
- The raglan shaping of the back was exactly the same as the shaping for the sleeve.
- The top of my back piece was much too narrow.
March 1, 2006
It's Wednesday, and I'm wondering:
What's the best way to do a turtleneck?
I've noticed that many patterns have you bind off some or all of a neckline, only to turn around and direct you to pick up stitches for the collar. Is there a good reason for this, or is it like when Rowan tells you to bind off and seam shoulders when 90% of the time a three-needle bind off is clearly the better option?
As you are all painfully aware, my Olympic sweater is a raglan knit from the bottom up, and I've left the stitches on holders while I debate how to proceed. Put all of the stiches on a circular needle, and knit the turtleneck in the round? Bind off and pick up? Another technique you can tell me about?
February 27, 2006
As Good as Gold
It's not what I intended to do for the Olympics, but sometimes the best results come unintentionally. I really, really love this sweater! I made it with oddments of yarn that Knitsmith Lisa gave me. It was a typical act of Lisa-esque generosity: "You knit with cotton. Here, take these three bags of yarn." And before I could protest, she was gone.
The main colors are Cotton Fleece (I think -- Lisa, correct me if I'm wrong!), and the additional colors in the striping sequence are 100% cotton. The pattern is the Child's Placket Sweater from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. (Because of errors in the original text, the author published a corrected version on-line (that's a PDF!).) I made three major changes. First, I recalculated for my (loosey-goosey) gauge. Then, to make sure that the sweater was adequately "girly", I did a picot hem on the body and sleeves instead of the seed stitch called for. Then, obviously, I threw in some crazy striping. (Note to self: remember that said crazy striping led to added bulkiness under the arms -- all those ends have to go somewhere!)
And how goes the original Olympic project, you ask? Well, as evidenced by its absence in this post I did not finish it in time. But I made good progress yesterday when my back of the envelope calculations for the turtleneck set-up rows worked on the first try! After the other calculating and counting woes with this sweater, I think this proves that I just really needed a break from it. Unfortunately, that break has to last a bit longer, as I have a baby shower present that must be done very, very soon. I should be back to the Olympic sweater by the end of the week!
February 24, 2006
Get comfortable, dear readers. This is a long one.
When we last checked in on the Olympic sweater, I was basking in my victory over non-linear raglan lines. While admiring my work, I was startled to realize that one feature of my model sweater's raglan lines had been entirely left out my Olympic sweater: the purl separators. I don't have a great picture of them, but you can sort of see the "valley" they create along the raglan seams here. My Olympic sweater seams had no such valley.
I seriously considered leaving it as-is, since I thought my seams looked just fine. Then I remembered -- this is the Olympics! Olympians don't settle for "just fine"! Time to rip and reknit that shaping. Lucky for me, the women's figure skating short program was on and provided both distraction and several hours of uninterrupted knitting time. (Which, of course, also meant several hours of uninterrupted "let's bother the human who knits!" time for my cat as well.)
"Oh, you want a picture of me? How sweet! Here, let me just lay down on this piece of knitting you're pointing the camera at." (A cat free picture of the new raglan line is here.)
As of bedtime on Wednesday night, all of the pieces had been knit (or re-knit) with the new and improved raglan shaping. All that was left were the few rows at the top of each piece to set up for the turtleneck, the seaming, and the turtleneck itself. We're traveling to NYC this weekend so knitting time will be limited, but I thought my medal chances were still pretty good.
Until last night.
As soon as I got home from work, I did some quick seaming for the preliminary try-on. I had already attached the sleeves and started basting the side seams when the feeling of dread started. I kept wondering why the front and back seemed to be different lengths. It turns out there's an easy answer: because they are.
First I put a marker on the last row before the armhole. Then, working from the bottom up, I put a marker every 10 rows. The stitch markers on the two pieces should be spaced identically if there are the same number of rows from the cast on edge to the beginning of armhole shaping. Read it and weep.
I need to add four rows to the length of the front, but I have to rip it back to the armhole to do it. And that, ladies and gentlemen, may keep me off the podium.
I'm not usually one to shy away from a challenge, but there's a good reason I'm reluctant to take this one on: my hands, wrists, and elbows are killing me. Knitting on nothing but this yarn at this gauge for nearly two weeks has really done a number on them. Powering through a re-knit of the front doesn't seem like a good idea just now.
When I first considered joining the Knitting Olympics, I consulted my mental "babies-to-be-knit-for" list and verified the Games wouldn't conflict with any baby knitting. I had two entire weeks after the end of the Games before the next baby would need a welcome gift. Except, not. This little madam not only managed to be born four weeks early but also on the day of the Opening Ceremonies.
That means we'll get to meet her this weekend in New York while we're there on a trip that we thought would be two weeks before her arrival, which is thrilling. It also means that I was about to break my cardinal rule of baby knitting: don't meet the baby empty-handed.
A change of gauge and fiber would do my aching joints a favor. And it seems right that if I have to take a break from my official Olympic knitting that I should use that time to make something to welcome a little one born during the opening of the Games, and who I'll meet during the closing weekend.
Seems like I might salvage my Olympics after all.
February 21, 2006
aČ + bČ ≠ my sweater
Here's a confession: I haven't knit that many raglan sweaters in my knitting career. So it wasn't a big surprise when I hit a conceptual wall on the raglan shaping of my trusty Olympic sweater late Saturday afternoon. With one sleeve and the back complete, I was confronted with the following set of facts:
(No pictures, I'm afraid. The Olympic deadline does not allow for such luxuries as snapping pictures of miscues before ripping them out. [If only NBC had the same approach to capturing Olympians -- if I have to see that poor Canadian skater fall one more time...])
A re-write of this section of my pattern was clearly in order. I consulted Jenna's awesome sleeve tutorial to make sure I had a grasp of the general raglan principles. I measured again (and again) and sketched out the raglan lines on graph paper. Somehow, the numbers still weren't working out right. At this point, Jason got involved, and there was much talk about how one calculates the slope of a line and the Pythagorean theorem. This served as a great geometry refresher, but still didn't solve the problem. Finally, I put down the measuring tape and graph paper and looked -- really looked -- at the raglan lines on my model sweater.
Eureka! Those lines aren't straight! Looking at the raglan shaping on the body, the first four decreases are worked every four rows. The remaining decreases are then worked every other row. This makes the raglan shaping "bow" out a bit rather than follow a straight line from armpit to neckline. Here's the real kicker: in order to make the sleeve and body fit together, the "bow" has to be reversed on the sleeve. So the decreases are worked every other row for the first 12 rows, and then every fourth row for the rest of the sleeve.
I did some quick calculations to get the same effect on my raglan sleeves, ripped back, and tried again. This time, it worked.
February 17, 2006
Trust the Math
Just when the Boston area weather has started to beat me down -- as it does every February -- here's something to get happy about: progress on the Olympic Sweater!
I started the first sleeve last Sunday. (I know! Two whole days after the opening ceremonies! I wasn't kidding when I said I was going to be crazy busy last weekend.) I had some trouble with the increases, but eventually calmed down and tried to believe that all of my measuring, calculating, and converting was right. You can't imagine my relief when I laid the sleeve on top of the model sweater on Tuesday night, and saw this:
Heartened by my success, I cast on for the back and started knitting with abandon. Now that I knew my calculations were generally on target, I could knit much more quickly -- that is to say, without stopping at the end of every row to measure, hold up to my body, hold up to the model sweater, re-measure, etc. On Wednesday night I finished the 5 3/4" of ribbing on the back, and by the time I put the needles down last night I was through the 7 inches of stockingette stitch and had started the armhole decreases. Zooooooom!
(I'm fairly certain the back piece looks smaller than the model sweater because the edges are rolling.)
Just a few details on how I'm making this sweater. As you might recall from this picture, the ribbing does not really "pull in" on my favorite sweater. I'm guessing that this is because of the fiber (mostly acrylic!), but whatever the reason I was sure that the Samoa was not going to behave the same way. So instead of ribbing with smaller needles and switching to larger ones for the body, I'm doing the reverse. I'm doing the ribbing with US7s, and switching to US6s for the stockingette sections. So far, it seems to be producing a straighter transition from one section to the other, rather than the "pouf" created by ribbing on the smaller needles. (I could have sworn I read about Claudia doing this same thing, but I've scoured her archives over the last week and found nothing!)
My progress this weekend will determine whether I've got a speed skater's chance in Hades of getting this sweater done before the flame is extinguished. One thing is for certain, though: these knittin' hands and wrists are going to be sore by the end of the Games. Pass the Tylenol and ice packs, please.
*This is not the actual color. The light was so low I had to use the flash -- it's not that pink!
February 15, 2006
This Wednesday, I'm not really wondering about anything at all.
Actually, that's not true. I'm intensely wondering (i.e. worrying) about a number of things on my Olympic Sweater. But those wonderings aren't ready for prime time -- no pictures, for example -- and since the Olympic Sweater is all I'm working on these days, I don't have any other questions burning a hole in my blog.
much tighter edge than the other. I told Jason that we must
have been watching something really gripping on TV when I did that one.
They're speckled! I love the colors of these socks so much that I found a way to wear them to the office last week with dress pants. Everytime I got glum about the dreary winter day, I just looked at my socks. Instant mood improvement!
Yarn: ArtYarns Supermerino (107)
Needles: US 3s. (Next time, try 2s. Or twist the first knit stitch after purling.)
Pattern: 3x1 ribbed version of Wendy's toe-up sock (with short-row technique modifications)
February 7, 2006
This is my favorite sweater. Isn't it lovely? It's been a workhorse, surviving nearly weekly wearings and washings for three consecutive winters -- and until a few weeks ago it was still fit as a fiddle. But now it's starting to pill and fray and feel a little thin in spots. (It's surprising, really, that it held up this long -- after all, I paid less than $20 for it at H&M!)
I spent the weekend measuring and sketching this sweater and its pieces, because it is this sweater I will be attempting to recreate for the Knitting Olympics. Here's two things about my old faithful that surprised me:
- It has negative ease -- like four inches worth around the bust. I would never have guessed this, since I don't think of this as a particularly form-fitting sweater. I spent an inordinate amount of time tugging on the sweater to see how stretcy it was (very), and trying to decide if I should assume equal amounts of stretchiness from my own knitting. The juy's still out on this.
- It has waist shaping. It's subtle, but it's definitely there. The wear and tear on the sweater has made the stitches really blurry, so I had to do some guessing on the direction of the shaping in a couple of places ("is that an increase or a decrease?"). I'm pretty sure I got it right, but I might use the waist shaping from Mango as a model since the gauge is similar and I know it works.
When my yarn arrives, I'll swatch and test for stretchiness -- and then I'll get out the calculator and get down to business. And yes, I said when my yarn arrives. I got great input last week on possible cotton blends; that list will definitely come in handy for a long time to come. There were especially good recommendations on warm-weather cotton yarns like Cotton Plus and Lara. But when I made up a comparison list -- I didn't need a spreadsheet, but it was close! -- I kept coming back to the GGH Samoa in red (color #23 here). So that's what I ordered.
Here's the kicker -- I'm leaving for DC on Thursday afternoon. I've got a work thing all day Friday and we're spending the rest of the weekend with friends. I've been a bit bummed that this trip means I'll miss the Team Boston Opening Ceremonies shindig, not to mention the fact that I might not get very much "sit and knit" time during the crucial first 48 hours of the Olympics. Now, a new source of agita: my yarn hasn't arrived yet and I'm starting to have visions getting on that plane empty-handed on Thursday.
It's enough to give a girl nightmares, I tell you.
February 6, 2006
Moving Right Along...
In the spirit of getting the knitting and blogging plate "very, very clean" (as Colleen would say) in time for the Olympics to start on Friday, here's something I can move to the Finished Projects file!
I actually finished Clapotis before Christmas, but didn't get around to blocking it until recently. (This didn't stop me from wearing it as a scarf in the interim, of course.) I'd like to go on record saying that Clapotis is like lace when it comes to finishing -- it looks good when it's done, but looks awesome once it's blocked.
January 31, 2006
I can't count the number of times I have said the following in a job interview:
I feel I am most effective when I am given challenging tasks and the opportunity to work on a team.
So why not extend that theory into knitting?
I posted my first entry today on the Team Boston blog. Here's the short version: I'm knitting a sweater. Oh, and I'm writing the pattern, too.
More to come once I've found my mind... which I've clearly lost!
January 19, 2006
To those who offered suggestions on how how to bind-off my toe-up sock -- thank you! I'm going to try your suggestions this weekend, and I'll report back on the results next week.
There's been a lot of protesting from Alison regarding my progess on the zip-up cardigan
race project coordination we're having. And since she's got smaller gauge, is planning the sure-to-be massive Sockapaloooza, is under the weather, and just scrapped an entire project... I figured I'd take it easy on her this week and focus on something(s) else.
One day while wondering the knitblog world, I stumbled upon this post over at Pepper Knits. She had knit Pam from Rowan 30 -- a pattern that calls for Rowan Wool Cotton -- in Debbie Bliss Wool Cotton. It just so happened that I'd been holding on to a bag of Debbie Bliss Wool Cotton for over six months waiting for the perfect project. Sometimes waiting pays off.
Reinforced with the knowledge that somebody else had done it before me, I charged ahead with the finer-gauge yarn. Halfway up the back, I started to really worry about running out. So I e-mailed Minty Fresh -- with whom I have had no previous contact, mind you -- and she responded quickly and cheerfully with some very good information, not to mention an offer to swap me some balls of yarn if she had the color I needed (unfortunately, I don't think she does). How helpful is she?!
I'm still pretty worried about running out of yarn, but I'm going to knit a sleeve next -- which will give me a good idea of whether it's doable or not. I'll be sad if it's a no-go, but I've been thinking about what fabulous knit I can make with the yarn if Pam doesn't work out. Having a good fall-back pattern is always a soothing salve for the wounded knitter!
January 16, 2006
All that Glitters
Last week was the kickoff of the annual Wild & Woolly sale, and this time I went prepared. I made a list ahead of time so that I wouldn't come home with WTF? yarn, and I would come home with yarn that matched my knitting plans.
At the head of the list: scarf yarn. Remember the fabulous variegated, sparkly, large gauge Gedifra Byzanz I picked up in Madrid? I've swatched, knit and ripped this yarn so many times I've nearly lost count. I know that I want to make a scarf out of it, but when I knit it at its proscribed gauge I just don't have enough yardage to make one. My current plan is to use some coordinating yarn to either stripe, hold together, or some combination therein.
At Wild & Woolly, I found some baby blue Zarella that matched the lighter sections of the variegattion perfectly. Excited to finally be making this scarf, I put aside Jason's cardigan and cast on. The verdict?
Don't like it. While the baby blue matches parts of the yarn perfectly, it's far too light when held next to the rest of the colorway. The longer I knit with them together, the more the baby blue started to look white next to the deep jeweltones of the Byzanz.
I ripped out the few rows I'd done, rewound the Byzanz into a ball, and set it aside. Looks like I'll be in the market for some darker yarn to make this scarf with.
But wait, what's that?
Turns out the answer was right in front of me. Keep your fingers crossed that I'll have enough Manos left over to finally make myself this scarf!
December 13, 2005
breathing down my neck quickly approaching, and more family members than ever visiting La Gringa Tejedora, I'm forced to be be more tight-lipped than normal this year about what the elves are working on around here. But that's just as well, since I have some catching up to do!
I bought some Fortissima Cotton Colori back in May and searched off and on for a pattern for it all summer. I finally settled on Crusoe from Knitty, though you'll see that I opted to forgo the roll cuff in favor of some simple 2x2 ribbing. (full-sock picture) For once, I managed to find a pattern and a yarn that worked well together -- the stranding technique really shows off the bright colorway that drew me to the yarn in the first place.
Better yet, the pattern is deceptively simple -- so simple, in fact, that it was these socks I picked up frequently in the 48 hours before the wedding when my whirling brain needed to focus itself on something more soothing than trying to will the rain to stop! falling! already! I'm also happy to report that the Cotton Colori not only survived machine washing and drying, but came out of it even softer than before.
I hereby declare these socks a success!
November 18, 2005
The Pinnacle of Knitting
When we were at Jason's sister's place in the country last July, my mother and I made a trip to the Morehouse Merino store. When she caught me staring longingly at the Pinnacle Poncho kit she asked if I wanted one. I told her that I'd always wanted one, but I wanted it in the colorway shown in the picture. Unfortunately, when I discovered the poncho pattern at Rhinebeck the year before, they didn't have that colorway at their stalls at the fairgrounds or at their store.
"You mean like this?" she said, holding up a kit with the perfect colorway match. She bought it for me as a "honeymoon present" under the condition that I not start knitting it until the honeymoon. And so began three more months of gazing longingly at it, this time in the comfort of my own home.
Needless to say, it was the first thing I started knitting on the honeymoon. It was speedy knitting -- worsted weight yarn on US11s goes pretty quickly! I finished up on the train between Seville and Madrid, and slipped it on in our hotel room as soon as we checked in. It was an important knitting moment, the culmination of over a year of lusting after this poncho.
Given the buildup, I should have known better. It looked B.A.D. on me. Too long, not flattering around the neck, too much fabric over the arms. Yuck. Not wanting to pollute my good honeymoon mood with hateful thoughts toward a knitted object, I quickly shoved it to the bottom of my knitting bag and didn't think about it for the rest of the trip.
On the flight back to Boston, an idea came to me, and by the time I unpacked that bag at home, I already knew what I was going to use the yarn for. And I think with just one picture, you're going to figure it out too! (If not, go here.)
What a great pattern! We're flying off to Cali tonight and this is coming with me on the plane. Have a great weekend!
June 9, 2005
Christmas in June!
First, a confession. In addition to the unsuccessful Smooch that I wrote about here, there was another one that I never wrote about at all. I tried again with Classic Elite Spotlight in red (the same used for the Emergency Preemie Christmas Sweater) I picked up at the Wild & Woolly sale this time last year. It, um, didn't work out. Once seamed and finished, the tank was both too loose and too short. More damning, I discovered that while I appreciated the lacy detailing at the bottom as a knitter, I did NOT appreciate it as a wearer -- yuck.
At some point after I failed at Smooch the second time, I mentioned to Alison that the only way I would try the pattern again was if I found the requisite five balls of All Season's Cotton in deep marine. But since it had been discontinued, I figured my smooching days were behind me. Wrong! Alison spotted exactly five deep marine balls in the sale bin at A Good Yarn, and gave them to me for Christmas! Leave it to another knitter to understand that nothing but just-the-right-yarn in the just-the-right-color will do.
As soon as I was sure the snow was really, truly gone I got started. This time I'm being more careful about gauge, style, and fit. I constantly measure the pieces, both with a measuring tape and against the last version (which I found balled up in my stash basket, right where I stuffed it when I realized it didn't fit!). I skipped the scalloped edging and lace pattern at the bottom in favor of a simple hem. I'm also trying something new to combat stretched-out stitches at the V-neck divide (which always happens to me whether I use stitch holders or scrap yarn to hold the resting stitches). I once read that casting on an extra stitch for the middle of the V would allow you to pull those stretched-out stitches tight after blocking. Then you can tack the still-live extra stitch down on the wrong side. You can see my extra stitch on the stitch marker in this picture.
So far, so good!
Now for something totally unrelated. When I was living in New York and at grad school in Columbia, I learned that the arrival of springtime meant that labor actions couldn't be far behind. At least once a year, usually around April, I'd walk out of class on a sunny morning to find a handful of picketing workers and a giant inflatable rat. The first time it happened, I asked Jason (who had been at Columbia for 11 years by then) why there was an enormous air-filled rodent on campus. "Springtime is here!" he responded. Apparently, this has been going on for years.
I can't really put my finger on why, but the rat always cracks me up. Don't ask me to explain, because I can't. Occasionally, we catch a glimpse of the rat on an NYC-based television show and I howl with laughter. One morning the rat was positioned down the street from my office building and I nearly drove off the rode in a fit of giggles. So you can imagine the levity that ensued when I woke up this morning, and gazed upon this through our back window:
The giant inflatable rat was practically in our kitchen! OK, he's actually at the construction site across the street... but still. Must be springtime!
(Intrigued? Here is an explanation of why unions use an inflatable rat, and more inflatable rat pictures)
April 18, 2005
Even though I fear that saying so will instantly bring on a freak April blizzard, I can no longer restrain myself: spring has arrived in Boston. Mercifully, gloriously, FINALLY -- we have survived another winter!
Past springs have seen increased activity here at Casa Gringa, and I'm hoping that I can get back in the swing of things this year as well. Let me start by introducing you to two projects I've been working on without bothering to blog about.
Pinky Socks: When I finally decided that I can want to make the socks after all, I immediately became enamored of self-patterning socks. After I finished these little numbers, I started surfing around for new options. I stumbled upon Sweet Georgia's gorgeous pink, red, and orange-y socks and had to have them, stat. It took some sleuthing, but I finally found the yarn: it's Regia Jubilee 4-ply and the colorway is India. (It's hard to find -- the place I bought it no longer carries the colorway!) And Georgia wasn't kidding about being able to make at least three socks from a skein; I'm planning to make a matching pair for a baby or toddler with my extra.
Jason's Zip-Up Raglan: During the Wild & Woolly sale in January, I picked up a big bag of Smart Superwash in Navy Tweed. I didn't have a particular pattern in mind, but I did know that it would be a sweater and that it would be for Jason. It turns out that if you knit two strands of Smart together on US10s, you get the exact gauge called for in Men's Zip-Up Raglan in Last Minute Knitted Gifts. Zip-up sweaters are Jason's favorite kind, so it was a perfect match.
So now that I've introduced you to those two lovely projects, I'm taking them away. Yep, just like that. These woolly, heavy, cold-weather projects are going on the back burner while I enjoy spring and summer. Bring on the cotton!
March 8, 2005
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.
P.S. - Hope to see you back at Knitsmiths soon, Johanna!
February 8, 2005
Famous Last Words
God help me, I made myself a pair of socks. And I'm considering another pair. What's happening to me?!
blindingly white color of my my skin. So you only get this little peek.
These socks make me happy for a reason unrelated to knitting. You see, I have the feet of an eighty-year-old woman. As my feet have gotten worse over the last few years, I've embarked on a seemingly endless quest for the Perfect Shoes. Such shoes would (1) not do any additional damage to my bone structure, (2) allow me to wear my special, made-just-for-me inserts, and (3) not be hideously ugly. Of those requirements, the third is by far the most difficult to meet. Anyway, after having had some success with Land's End shoes, I just invested in a pair of Land's End Hand-sewn Clogs (on sale!), my first ever foray into the world of clog-like shoes. I cannot deny that they are comfortable and good for my feet, but I've never been a huge fan of the way clogs look so it's a bit of an adjustment. Wearing crazy-colored, hand knit socks that peek out the back of my shoes, however, is helping!
June 8, 2004
I've definitely noticed a trend -- when my knitting isn't going well, my blogging is next-to non-existent. I just logged into Movable Type, and found this draft entry exactly as I left it on May 5. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending how you look at it), I have made no further progress on this project since the picture below was taken -- so I don't even need to delay publishing this post!
Short story: Silky Smooch is no more. The gauge of the Silk Cotton was just "off" enough to throw the pattern into chaos, and my attempts to knit it with smaller needles was murder on the joints of my hands and arms. Of course, I ripped it.
I cast on for the ChicKami after taking care to do the math carefully and re-write the pattern for the gauge best suited to the yarn. You can see how far I got (below), until somebody pointed out that the yarn might be too warm for the summer. The more I thought about it, the more I realized what a good point she had -- what would be less attractive than a pretty knitted tank with sweat marks?!?
So here it sits, waiting for a decision. In the meantime, I've moved on to other (not necessarily more successful) pursuits. More on that soon, I hope.
April 13, 2004
An Offering to the Yarn Gods
Smooch is underway!
Before I started, I read through the posts of other knit-bloggers who made Smooch last summer, hoping to avoid the initial confusion over the way the pattern was written. Little did I know that such confusion and ripping is a penance that must be paid to The Yarn Gods in order to attain a completed Smooch. You cannot avoid paying your penance, and thus, I could not avoid the confusion and the ripping.
In fact, the tiny little bit of Smooch you see in the picture was not long for this world -- it was ripped. However, I'm now happy to report that all of my ripping and restarting eventually satisfied The Yarn Gods, and I've completed both the picot edging the the lace-y Vs.
I'm loving the color of the Silk Cotton Aran so far, but I have some reservations about the "stiffness". Hopefully it won't affect the drape of the tank. I should be able to tell when I make some progress, but it will have to wait a couple days while I rest these old bones. Between battling Smooch, knitting diligently on a very heavy project all weekend, and several weeks of computer-intensive tasks at work my wrists and hands (and even one of my elbows!) are killing me!
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:
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!"
March 8, 2004
Haste, Waste, etc...
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.
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.
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).
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:
Name of Yarn Used:
Amount of Yarn 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!
July 10, 2003
About a week before Jason and I left New York, his family and I threw him a surprise birthday party. In honor of the occasion, I debuted the Waikiki Tank! I got so many compliments on it, one of Jason's friends even said, "If I saw this in a store, I would pay [*pauses to think*]... many, many dollars for it!" My mom asked me to make her one, which is the highest form of flattery, I think.
Picture courtesy of Anil!
April 8, 2003
Standing in front of the mirror in the hotel, I was forced to admit that it looked pretty silly. The style just wasn't flattering on me, and I think I had some gauge problems (or maybe even a dropped stitch? It's so hard to tell with yarn like this...). In any event, I haven't frogged the whole thing yet because I'm not sure what to do with five skeins of this groovy yarn.