Monday, September 27, 2010

Climbing Jasmine Socks - Finished!

I finished up the second Decadent Dark Sock Club kit last night.  This is another Renee Leverington/Goddess Knits offering.  Are you noticing a theme here?  I am still having some trouble with the toe - getting the Kitchener stitch to come out looking clean.  It seems especially tricky with these darker yarns, and it is pretty much impossible to spread things out.  I have even tried putting a darning ball in the toe.  But I am sure that with practice I will gain proficiency.  I know I could just switch to toe up socks and avoid the whole issue, but I don't like giving up on a technique.  The yarn is Decadently Dark Decadent Sock 2, in Decadent Jade.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cleopatra Tank

I started this on August 30.  I needed a simple knitting project for my work bag and found this cute top on the Yarn Market web site.  It uses Knit One Crochet Too Ty-Dy and Ty-Dy Dots.  The yarn is 100% cotton, worsted weight, and wonderfully soft to work with, but not mushy, and the colors are beautiful.  I like working with it so much that I've ordered another project using Ty-Dy, this Lacy Summer Tunic

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Summer Mystery Shawl 2010 - Clue 2

Finished up Clue 2 today.  Quick.  Easy.  Pretty.

Summer Mystery Shawl 2010 - Clue 1

I know, I no sooner finish one lace shawl when I start another.  This is another Renee Leverington/Goddess Knits mystery shawl.  The yarn is by Spinning Bunny (80% Merino, 20% Tussah Silk), in Summer Sky.  I actually cast on this shawl last Sunday, but I didn't finish up Clue 1 until last night.  One interesting thing that I noticed when I was looking at the other Summer Mystery Shawl 2010 projects on Ravelry was that most of the people that used the Spinning Bunny yarn, also used the Summer Sky colorway.

Moving Cable Pullover - Progress Update

I started this pullover almost a year ago, on our Christmas trip down to Florida.  I only managed to get the sleeves done on that trip.  Lately I've had to do some travel by car for work, so I pulled this project out again. I wanted something that wasn't too complicated, but wasn't too simple.  I now have the body done up to the split for shaping the front and back.  The pattern is from the Tahki Yarns Spring/Summer Collection 2004 Pattern Booklet, and the yarn is Cotton Classic.

One of the trips was to Pittsburgh, where we ate at a wonderful brew pub, Church Brew Works, located in a 100 year old Catholic Church.  To the right of the aisle is the restaurant side, to the left is the bar side.  You can get the restaurant menu on the bar side, but you can't get the bar menu on the restaurant side.  I had the Chicken Pot Pie, which was more like a chicken stew topped with a fluffy pastry and the stout (this week it was a morning stout, brewed with coffee, oatmeal and milk).  Delicious.  I brought home bottles of their Thunderhead IPA and their Dunkel Lager, plus two pint glasses.

The other trip was to Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey, where we ate at a wonderful Indian restaurant called Cinnamon.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mystery Shawl 17 - Finished!

Finally finished Renee Leverington/Goddess Knits Mystery Shawl 17.  I only started it back in May.  The yarn is PennyRose Carrie Lace Yarn, 80% merino, 20% silk, in Azalea.  I used 40 grams of 2-08-154-90 (clear color-lined dark rose) beads and 10 grams of 20-08-152-90 (clear color-lined light rose) beads (Beadcats stock nos.).

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Climbing Jasmine Socks

This is the second pattern in Renee Leverington's (aka Goddess Knits) Decadently Dark Socks Club.  I took a break from lace knitting to finish up the first sock.

Part of the reason I haven't been working on the socks is the difficulty finding the right knitting needles for the project.  I don't like working with double points and there aren't many sources for small circular needles.  Hiya Hiya makes 9 inch circulars in small sizes, and Addi Turbo makes 12 inch circulars.  For the other pair of Decadently Dark Socks I used the 9 inch circulars for the cuff, and then 2 12 inch circulars for the rest of the sock.  That worked pretty well, except that the points of the needles aren't very pointy and it was tricky sometimes forming some of the lace stitches, tricky enough to reduce the knitting pleasure.  I knew that I could get Addi Turbo Lace needles and get a pointier tip, but the other critical factor is the length of the needle shaft.  I don't like using the longer needles on socks, it just makes things awkward.  Enter the KnitPicks 16 inch circular needles.

The KnitPicks needles are all pointier than your average knitting needle.  Pointy enough to use on lace.  And their 16 inch circular needles have a shorter shaft than the Addi's.  I still wish that they carried the shorter lengths, (I did write them and suggest that they carry 9 and 12 inch lengths in their circular needles).  In the meantime, I have stocked up on the 16 inch circulars in the small sizes that I need for the sock projects that I have waiting in the wings.

From top to bottom:  16 inch KnitPicks, 12 inch Addi, 9 inch Hiya Hiya (the vertical tip is the other end of the KnitPicks needle).  The grid forming the background is 1 inch x 1 inch.  As you can see, the Hiya Hiya has a very short needle shaft, only 2 inches, but this is a 9 inch circular, so you can't have a very long needle shaft.  The Addi Turbo needle shaft is about 3 inches, but it is bent, which I actually like.  It gives you a little more needle shaft to work with, while still allowing you to form a small circle.  In this case, 12 inches.  The KnitPicks needle shaft is a little over 3 inches, which works well with the 16 inch overall length.  One of the things that I have found with most 16 inch circular needles is that the shaft is too long for you to actually form a circle, you end up with more of a tear drop shape.  It is a little hard to tell in the photo, but the KnitPicks needle has the pointiest tip.

While I was setting up the links for this post I noticed that Addi does make the 16 inch circular in a lace point, and it also makes an 8 inch circular in the regular point, but the latter do not come in a wide range of sizes, or if they do, Yarn Market does not stock them.  I may have to add some more needles to my stash...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Mystery Shawl 17 - Clue 4

Clue 4 finished.  This one was a bit harder than clues 1-3.  It didn't help that my hormones were being particularly wonky last week causing my brain to randomly shut down.  But I persevered.  Lace knitting is really not that hard provided you take the time to master a few skills:  reading charts, reading your knitting, and counting.  Before I begin each right side row I look at the pattern for that row and see how it fits with the pattern of the preceding rows.  This enables me to use my knitting to help provide me with contextual clues as to what I should be doing.  By understanding the pattern and how it is being formed it is much easier to spot errors before they become too difficult to fix without tinking or ripping.

My most frequent errors are forgetting a yarn over, or putting one in when I shouldn't and both of these are very easy to fix, provided you find them within the next two rows (the wrong side row and the next right side row).  Dropping a stitch or picking one up is simple and blocking will generally remove any resulting unevenness.  Counting is also an essential skill.  I routinely count the knit stitches between the lace motifs, even if there is only one.  Before beginning a chart I will write down the number of knit stitches on the chart for any stretch that contains more than 4 stitches.  I don't use markers, except on circular shawls and then only to mark the beginning of the round.  I find that they get in the way of my reading my knitting.  When I am tired, or for particularly tricky rows I will look back over the knitting (proofread it, so to speak) before beginning the wrong side row to try to catch any mistakes I may have made.  If I spot a missed yarn over I mark the spot with a split ring marker and fix it as I purl back.  Similarly if I put a yarn over in where it doesn't belong.

One slight challenge that I had on this clue was the fact that I ran out of the beads that I was using.  What is worse, I could not get more of that color - yes some beads have dye lots, just like yarn.  Fortunately I had some that were in a similar color and I had enough of the original color to get to a spot in the pattern where switching colors would not look out of place and one could even say it was intentional.  One thing that I deliberately do is not plan my projects too carefully.  I like the fun and challenge of improvising with my materials.  Fortunately I have a large enough stash of beads and fiber that I can do that.  Here is a close up of the color switch.
The top two beads are slight lighter in color than the rest.  Almost the exact color of the yarn, in fact.

The bag of beads on top is the original color, the one on bottom is the new color.  In the Beadcats universe they are stock numbers 2-08-154-90 and 2-08-152-90, respectively.  I really love the second bead color and have to figure out something to make with them.  They have just the most wonderful pearly sheen to them.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Mystery Shawl 17 - Clue 3

I finished Clue 3 this morning.  Two more to go.  The lace pattern is pretty easy, and is going quickly, despite the beading.  I'm going to need more beads, though.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Mystery Shawl 17 - Clue 2

Now that I have finished the two circular shawls I am back to working on Mystery Shawl 17.  I finished Clue 2 this morning.  Of course there has been a Mystery Shawl 18 and a Summer Mystery Shawl (both of which I joined and have the yarn and patterns for) and Clue 2 of Mystery Shawl 19 comes out today, which I have also joined and have the yarn for.  Yes, I am somewhat addicted to Renee's Mystery Shawl Knit Alongs.