Sunday, September 30, 2012

Japanese Maple

My knitting mojo has been a bit low lately.  I suspect it is partly due to the craziness at work leaving me pretty wiped out at the end of the day.  Not bad craziness, just crazy busy, and a lot of extrovert activity, which always wears me out.  One of the things I have been doing in an attempt to revitalize my knitting mojo is working on some of my older projects, but this weekend I decided to start something new.  This yarn was the first offering in Zen Yarn Garden's Quasi Yarn Club, from May 2011.  The color is Japanese Red Maple, and it was offered in Serenity Silk, Serenity 20 and Serenity Worsted.  I picked up 4 skeins of Serenity Worsted, but then was faced with the dilemma of what to knit with it.  I finally knit a swatch up with it earlier this year and just fell in love with the color.  The picture does not do it justice.  I knew that I wanted something simple and elegant that would let the yarn be the star.  I have been searching the pattern database and have found a lot of possibilities, but none of them were quite right.  Then this past week I decided to reknit my Fresh Ink cardigan as a raglan pullover and that got me thinking.  I've always wanted an elegant little raglan pullover with a wide stand up collar, reminiscent of something Audrey Hepburn would wear.  So, I got out my swatch, did some math and started knitting.  I am ready to slip the sleeve stitches on some waste yarn and start knitting the body.  I am going to weigh my skein before I do that, and figure out how much yarn I am using so I can do some more math and figure out how long I can make it, and how long I can make the sleeves.  I want to use up every yard of this lovely yarn.

Pattern:  my own
Yarn:  Zen Yarn Garden Serenity Worsted in Japanese Red Maple (200 yds, 115 g)
Needle:  US 7, 4.5 mm

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wolf Spider!

This weekend I spotted a wolf spider in the house.  It was in the living room, right by the door to the garage.  I tried to shoo it out into the garage but it ran behind the day bed.  I decided to ignore it's existence.  Out of sight, out of mind.

So tonight I'm on the day bed, and Bruce is in his leather chair and we are watching Smallville, when suddenly he exclaims "Look at that spider!"

You guessed it.  The wolf spider had emerged, and was on the top of the bolster on the day bed, just inches behind my head!  I sat up quickly, turned, and was staring at this beautiful, enormous wolf spider.  "It's the wolf spider!  I have to catch him"  I ran out into the kitchen to grab my bug catching tools (fortunately a short trip) and raced back.  The spider was crawling along the top of the bolster, and the various things that I pile up there, in this case the latest shipment from The Unique Sheep Crochet Block of the Month Club, heading towards my Kindle, iPad and a small project bag.  I easily trapped him.  After admiring him, briefly, I relocated him to our deck.  Whew!  He was gorgeous. (Again, not sure if it was male or female, but it did seem to have rather large pedipalps, so I think it was a male.)  And he was a lot faster than the other ones that have gotten into the house. This brings the total up to 5 that I have successfully trapped and relocated.  They are such spectacular spiders, I just can't bring myself to kill them.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Houston, we have a problem...

So, I was happily knitting away on my Draped Vest, amazed at how quickly I was knitting the right front when I got a very bad feeling.  I counted my yarn labels, and examined my completed pieces, and checked the pattern, and re-checked my gauge (spot on, for once), and weighed everything, and have now come to the conclusion that I do not have enough yarn to finish the project.  According to the label, the yarn is supposed to come in 50 g balls.  According to my scale, I am about 16 grams short overall.  The pattern calls for 8 balls for the small size.  I bought 8 balls.  But it now looks like every one was about 2 grams short, on average.  Sigh.

Well, maybe this is a blessing in disguise.  I really am not that crazy about the yarn, it is just a bit scratchier than I like.  I do, however, like the pattern.  And I do have some purple Aurora 8 in my stash that might make a good substitute...

It has just been one of those days.  I also decided that I wasn't happy with my Fresh Ink Cardigan and decided to frog that.  The yarn just deserves a better pattern.  Not sure what, yet, but I have been browsing the pattern library on Ravelry.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Draped Vest - Left Front Done

In keeping with my determination to finish some of my older works in progress, I picked this one back up.  I have been working on it here and there, when I was taking a break from other things, but today I finished up the left front.  This one hasn't been languishing quite as long as the last two.  I started it this year, on January 11.  The pattern is Naturally Vienna Draped Vest - and is from the Naturally Leaflet FC 56.  I received the pattern for free when I bought the yarn from  You can great discounts on yarn there and I subscribe to their mailings.  The yarn is Naturally Vienna, 67% wool, 33% acrylic, Aran weight.  I don't usually knit with the heavier weight yarns, mostly because I don't like working with larger needles.  Size 8 (5 mm) is about the limit for me from a comfort perspective, much bigger than that and they just feel awkward.  The curious thing about this yarn is the variability of the skeins, even in the same dyelot.  The yarn is plied, black, gray and white, and depending upon the dominant color you end up with some very different results.  I know that I could have alternated skeins, but then I would have just had stripes instead of blocks.  I prefer to just let the yarn do what it wants to.

Pattern:  Naturally Vienna Draped Vest
Yarn:  Naturally Vienna
Needle:  US 7 (4.5 mm)

Top with Crocheted Sleeves

This is another one of my works in progress that has been languishing for several years.  Three years, to be exact, almost exactly.  I started it on September 5, 2009.  This is a pattern from Nashua Handknits, from the North American Designer Collection No. 8.  I purchased the booklet and yarn for three of the patterns all at the same time.  I knit the body in the round, then blocked it and set it aside because I didn't feel that my crocheting skills were up to the task of finishing it.  Thank goodness for The Unique Sheep Crochet Block of the Month Club.  I joined it to learn to crochet, and it worked!  Seriously, have you joined yet?  The designs are wonderful, interesting, challenging, but not too challenging.  And of course the yarn is from The Unique Sheep, and their yarns always make me happy.  It is the best.

Last weekend I picked it back up again and crocheted the sleeves.  I will confess that the topology of the  sleeves really perplexed me until I actually started working them.  You crochet from each side of the armhole and join at the top.  There is no sleeve portion in the underarm, which I was sort of expecting, being a sleeve and all.  I finished up the neckline crochet last night.  Here is a close up of the crocheted portion.
Pattern:  Nashua Handknits Top with Crochet Sleeves by Mari Lynn Patrick
Pattern Book:  Nashua Handknits NHK40, North American Designer Collection No. 8
Yarn:  Nashua Handknits Creative Focus Cotton DK
Needle:  US  (3.75 mm)
Hook:  USF5 (3.75 mm)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Gedifra 1376 Mayra Lacy Sweater - Beauty Shot

Every once in a while I can actually get my husband to take a shot of me in one of my creations.  This sweater looks so much better on a human as opposed to a dress maker dummy.  You can actually see the lace pattern.  The yarn is supersoft and the top is very comfy, although it has a tendency to slide off the shoulders.  No surprise given the wide scoop neckline.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Gedifra 1376 Mayra Lacy Sweater - Finished!

I have been trying to finish up some of my languishing works in progress.  This one had been sitting for three years before I picked it back up again.  When I needed a break from the never ending border I worked on this and I finally finished it up this morning.  I knit in the round until I got to the cast on increases for the sleeves, at which point I worked the front and back separately.  After I finished one side of the front I went ahead and joined the front and the back on that side.  I sewed the underarm seam working from the end of the sleeve in, and did a three needle bind off for the top seam.  The finishing of the sleeves and neckline was new to me.  The raw edges are actually encased in knitting.  When you pick up the stitches, you have a needle on the outside and one on the inside.  You knit three rows with each needle before joining them and finishing up with 5 rows of knitting.  This causes the nice rolled edge.  It was a major pain in the ass, and I would recommend putting the inside stitches on a cable that can be joined so the stitches don't get away while you are working the outside stitches.  It is definitely worth the trouble though, and I will probably use the technique again.

Rose Bud Shawl - Finished!

I have spent most of the last week working on this shawl, and finished it up Friday night.  Knitting never ending borders is an interesting psychological exercise.  They go on and on and you think you are farther along than you really are, so you count the repeats and sigh when you are only a third of the way through instead of half way, and then suddenly the end is in sight.  And there is always that happy feeling when you count the remaining stitches and everything comes out right.  This shawl uses up the remains of my Love Spoken Here gradiance set on Luxe that I used for The Little Prince.  I had Kelly of The Unique Sheep dye me up some dark green for the border.

I used the Over the Moon pattern by Vickie Mikulak as the base of the pattern and then did a knit on border instead of the feather and fan edging that is called for in the pattern.  I did not do any transition rows between the skeins, I just matched the colors and knit with both strands for about a dozen stitches.  For the border I used a portion of the border from Damask Rose.

Yarn:  Luxe, Love Spoken Here - 544 yards & Green - 376 yards
Needle:  US 5 (3.75 mm)

Here are some beauty shots taken in natural light (the blocking photo was taken with flash).

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Rose Bud Shawl - Progress!

I am actually exactly half way through the border, but this is a picture that I took this morning when I was a third of the way done.  I would have been further, but I screwed up a little last night.  I decided to put it on a needle with a shorter cable but for some reason I grabbed the wrong size needle - a size 3 instead of a size 5.  I didn't realize it until this morning when I was rummaging in the project bag and came up with an empty size 5 needle package.  Ooops.  I checked to see how obvious it was, and it was pretty easy to spot.  Fortunately I had only knit about one and a half repeats with the smaller needle.  So this morning I ripped back.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Rose Bud Shawl - Border started

Talk about perfect timing.  Right after I posted the last entry I received an email from Kelly of The Unique Sheep telling me that my dark green Luxe had shipped.  I received it yesterday and immediately wound the yarn and started on the border.  I had been thinking about what I wanted to do for the border all week and yesterday I wore my Damask Rose shawl to work (I had several meetings and the conference rooms are almost always cold).  While I was sitting in one of my meetings I was playing with the shawl and pondering the border and I decided to do a variant.  I am only using the outer section of the border pattern.  I thought about using the entire thing, but figured that the proportions wouldn't look right on this smaller shawl.  I did a row of the green before I started the border and had to increase 5 stitches to get the right number - 496, plus 6 edge stitches.  The picture above shows 2 repeats of the border, but doesn't quite do the green justice.  The picture below shows the border of the Damask Rose shawl for reference.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Rose Bud Shawl - All I need now is the border

Yesterday I went into work to finish up some stuff, and by the time I got home (after 9 and a half hours) I was pretty brain dead so I worked on this shawl, finishing up the last skein of my left overs of Love Spoken Here, the yarn that I used for The Little Prince.  The necklace is the one my sister, Virginia, designed and made and gave to me because I had the clothes that went with it.  I think it looks lovely with the shawl.  I have no idea how many rows I did after the last increase so I will have to count stitches before I start the border.  Now all I need is the border yarn, which should be showing up soon.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Pathways Blocks

This was part of what was distracting me from my lace knitting.
Pattern:  Pathways by Donna Kay Lacey, the July 2012 Unique Sheep Crochet Block of the Month
Yarn:  The Unique Sheep Tinsel Toes in Clay and Sky
Hook:  2.75 mm
I haven't actually started assembling the Tinsel Toes throw because I have a little bit of a dilemma to sort out.  I do have a potential layout for the blocks that I have made.
But the two green and yellow blocks are larger than the rest.  I am leaning towards just undoing the last round on both of those blocks, I just haven't gotten around to doing it.

Spirit of Guernsey - Clue 3 Done

I set this aside a couple of weeks ago, distracted by other projects and rebelling a little against my over commitment to knit alongs, but the pictures of the finished shawls inspired me to pick it back up again this past week.  I started happily knitting away on the second repeat of the chart, only to realize as I neared the end of the chart that I had not quite finished the first repeat.  I was missing the last two rows.  Fortunately this doesn't really make a huge difference in the pattern, so I did not feel a need (or a desire) to rip back.  But now I was faced with the fact that I would be four rows short on this section.  I pondered that for a little bit, looking at the proportions of the finished shawls and decided that I would add a third repeat.  I used all of my first skein, which I had intended to do anyway because I really hate having left overs, and switched to the second skein on row 7 of the third repeat.  I did not do any transition rows.