Sunday, January 29, 2012

Boreal Socks - Chart 1: It's a pair of toes!

Somehow I think these socks are going to get knit up pretty quick.  I just can't seem to leave them alone.  After taking a break I went back and cast on the second sock and in pretty short order I finished up the toe.  This photo also shows the yarn, which is just beautiful, and such a dream to knit with.  While I was taking the photo my cat, Jasmine, decided to get into the act.  Here she is in the long shot.  Now on to Chart 2.

Boreal Socks - Chart 1: It's a toe!

I actually cast on last night.  I just couldn't wait any longer, the yarn and the sock pattern are both so beautiful, even though I have plenty of projects in progress.  I worked through the toe increases, Chart 1.  Now I am going to rest my eyes and my hands and work on something fairly mindless and on larger needles for a while.  Before I go on to Chart 2 I will cast on the other sock onto another set of needles using the yarn from the other end of the ball and knit that sock through Chart 1.  I will then alternate between the two socks in an attempt to avoid the one sock syndrome.  I used the make 1 right and make 1 left increases where you pick up the bar between the stitches, and I made sure to work the stitch in the pattern.  I did find that going from the sole to the instep I had some trouble maintaining tension.  I think that is because the sole is worked in stockinette stitch and the first stitch of the instep is a purl stitch.  I did not have the same problem when I went from the instep to the sole.

The yarn is Hazel Knits Entice (70% superwash merino, 20% cashmere, 10% nylon).  Needle size is US 1 (2.25 mm) and I am using 2 16 inch circulars.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Lorna Suzanne Cardigan - Two Sleeves and the Beginning of a Body

The other thing that I wanted to get done this week was finish the second sleeve for my Lorna Suzanne Cardigan and start the body.  I actually started the body sometime in the past week but I just finished the last 10 rows of the second sleeve this morning.  I knit my swatch on size 7 (4.5 mm) needles, but when I knit the sleeves they came out with a tighter gauge (as is often the case when knitting in the round).  In fact, the first part of the sleeve that I knit on 12 inch circular needles came out with almost 20 stitches per 4 inches (my gauge swatch has 18 stitches per 4 inches) and the part of the sleeve that I knit on 16 inch circular needles came out at 19 stitches per 4 inches, which is actually the gauge called for in the pattern.  So when I cast on for the body I went down a needle size and used size 5 (3.75 mm) needles for the garter stitch border, and size 6 (4 mm) needles for the stockinette stitch.

Knitterati Mystery 1 - Clue 2

The second clue of the Knitterati Mystery 1 came out this past Wednesday and it included a riddle, the solution of which is the location of Harper, the hapless non-knitter abducted by the secret knitting society.  There was a link to a Google form to submit your answer.  I love what Janel is doing with the club this year, it is just so much fun.  I also finally received my club yarn, after it spent a week (yes, a week) in the USPS sorting facility in Eugene, Oregon.  Once it finally left Eugene it made it here in just a few days.  I will probably cast my socks on tomorrow.  Today I am planning on working on my second Christmas Shawlette in the Dickens colorway.  I want to finish it before I cast on the first pattern in Romi's 2012 Pins & Lace club.  That yarn arrived this past week as well, and the yarn and the pattern are just gorgeous.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Lorna Suzanne Cardigan - It's a sleeve!

A good friend of mine who has recently started knitting wanted to try knitting a sweater and asked for a little help from me, so I suggested that we find a pattern that we both like and do a knit along.  The sweater we picked is Lorna Suzanne by Ellen Mason.  I picked a yarn from my stash that I bought some time ago back in 2009 as a sweater pack - Zen Yarn Garden Serenity Superwash Worsted in Midnight Plum.  I knit my gauge swatch and cast on a sleeve.  I always like to start with the sleeves because they give me a chance to check my gauge on a larger piece and to see if I really like the way the yarn is working up.  The sleeve is supposed to be three-quarter length, but when I had knit that far I tried it on and decided that it would look better full length, so I kept on knitting, and increasing until I pretty much used up the ball and the sleeve had conveniently reached an appropriate length.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Yarn Choices

I have a real tendency to agonize over yarn choices for projects, and to agonize over projects for yarn.  It is just that I want the perfect yarn for the pattern, and the perfect pattern for the yarn.  Sometimes the yarn speaks to me, and that makes things easier, but sometimes the yarn stands mute and then I end up with extra yarn because I can't decide.  Consider the picture above.  On the left we have The Unique Sheep Luxe in the Silverlode colorway, on the right is The Unique Sheep Tinsel Toes, also in the Silverlode colorway.

Luxe has been my go-to fingering yarn for a little while now and I have knit 3 shawls in it this past year.  Luxe is 25% Tussah Silk, 75% Superwash Merino, a combination that I love.  I was introduced to Tinsel Toes with the Christmas Shawlette and I must say that I have become quite infatuated with it.  Tinsel Toes is a 50% Superwash Merino, 50% Tencel blend.  The Tencel (a cellulose fiber that was created as a substitute for silk) gives the yarn a wonderful sheen, but unlike silk it does not take up dye very readily.  When you get silk wet it opens up and sucks up the dye, resulting in wonderful deep jewel tones.  The fact that the Tencel does not take up the dye, while the wool does can give the yarn a slightly heathered look.  It also mutes the colors some as can be seen from the photo above.  I love the sheen and the texture.

I had originally bought the Luxe in Silverlode for Galadriel's Mirror, because I wanted to have the effect of a mirror that might be created in a pool of water hence the silver to blue transition.  Unfortunately, the Luxe didn't quite have the sheen that a mirror would have so I knew that I had not found the right yarn for the pattern.  Then I knit the Christmas Shawlette with the Tinsel Tinsel colorway and I knew that it would be the right yarn.  I had a 10% off coupon burning a hole in my knitting bag, so early this month I ordered the same colorway on the Tinsel Toes.  It came today and I am very happy with it. I think it will be perfect for Galadriel's Mirror.

Of course that means I have that set of Silverlode in Luxe sitting around feeling abandoned.  Well, to be honest it has been feeling abandoned ever since I bought it because we both knew it was not the right yarn for that pattern.  I think that I will use it for Le Petit Prince, knit from the dark blue to the silver instead of from the silver to the blue, of course now I have to get beads (such a hardship, I know) to match.  I have ordered Love Spoken Here on Luxe (I think the yarn base in the photo is Tinsel Toes, or maybe Pashmi) for that mystery knit along, but now I think I will use it for the Secret Garden shawl, which will bounce the yarn that I have already bought for that project...and so it goes.  For me, at least, it is important to get this right because if I don't I just will not enjoy knitting the project.  I have forced myself to persevere a couple of times when I have been in that situation but I don't like it and want to avoid it as much as possible.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Knitterati Mystery 1 - Clue 1

I tried to resist the clubs this year, I really did, but I was not very successful.  I managed to give up one.  But one of the clubs that I could not give up was Janel Laidman's sock club.  Last year it was called "Art and Sole," this year it is "Knitterati."  Yesterday the first pattern came out.  Each shipment includes 2 patterns, one sock, and one mystery.  This is the mystery pattern.  It came with a delightful story about someone who is kidnapped by a secret society and must knit their way out of the situation.  Of course I had to answer the cry for help and cast on.  The mystery pattern called for 400 yards of super soft fingering yarn, so of course I thought of Zen Yarn Garden Serenity 20 and I happened to have a most scrumptious red sitting in my latest yarn acquisition pile just crying out to be knit into something wonderful.

I still haven't received the yarn shipment yet, but according to the spoilers it looks wonderful, and I fully intend to cast on the socks when it arrives.

Draped Vest

As much as I am a fiber-holic, one thing I do try to do is buy yarn for projects, rather than just buying yarn for the sake of buying yarn.  This is a rule that lately has been more honored in the breach, but it is still a rule that I try to be mindful of.  This purchase was off the web site, a great place for getting bargains.  The yarn is Vienna by Naturally, a 10 ply (so they say) that is 63% wool, 33% acrylic.  I don't usually go for acrylics (not since my early days of knitting), but I liked the pattern and I wanted to try something a little different, hence the Charcoal.  I tend to go for colors - not much of a neutrals girl.  After finishing up the shawl I wanted a simpler knit, but something a little different, so here we are.

I am knitting this one pretty much according to the instructions, no rewriting to avoid seaming.  The only thing I am doing is keeping the selvedge stitch in pure knit, no purls, just to make the seaming a little easier.  I do wonder about the pattern instructions though (they were free with the yarn purchase).  There is no schematic and the instructions do seem to be a little brief.  This is the back, and I have started on the left front.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Three Quarter Time Shawl - Finished

I set this shawl aside when I was over half-way through the last clue to finish up some of my easier projects that had been sitting around for too long waiting to be finished, but yesterday I picked it back up again.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I did not do any transition rows when I started the next skein in the gradiance colorway, I simply made sure that I picked up the new skein in a spot that matched the current skein.  I am very pleased with the results, and love the fact that I didn't have to deal with two skeins at a time.  Working the color changes this way also means that I have almost nothing left of skeins 1 and 2, and a fair bit left of skein 3, but at least I don't have to worry about when to make transitions, or running short of yarn later.

Blocking the shawl was not as hard as I thought it would be, although I did not block it out exactly as shown in the pattern photos.  I knit my shawl on size 3 needles rather than size 5 (I just cannot bring myself to knit lace with size 5 needles, it just doesn't feel right to me) and so my shawl is smaller than it would otherwise be (I knitted a medium according to the pattern) and I think that this affected how the border blocked out.  First I laid the shawl out as much as I could, stretching it into place by hand.  Then I started with the neck edge, pulling it out and into place by hand, just following the natural curve of the knitting and pinning about every inch.  After that was done I started on the edging.  Beginning at the bottom center I pinned out every third blossom, pulling the center petal first, then the two side petals.  I worked from the bottom center up each side.  I then went back and pulled out the two blossoms in between, again working from the bottom center up each side.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Latest Club Arrivals

So I think that I have may have mentioned that I belong to a lot of clubs.  Some might say that I have a problem.  I prefer to believe that I am merely doing my bit to help stimulate the economy and support independent artists.  And can you really have too much yarn?  Really?  After all, it keeps me off the streets and out of the pool halls.  And I can take the beautiful yarn that someone else has created and turn it into another beautiful thing that is also functional.  As habits go, I think that mine is a pretty good one.  Of course, all the clubs that I belong to mean that there are always wonderful surprises in my mailbox.  Well, not always, but often enough to keep me smiling and happy, and today I hit the jackpot.  Two lovely surprises in the mail box today.

First, the latest Sip 'n Stitch offering from The Unique Sheep.  Have I mentioned lately how much I love The Unique Sheep?  I belong to almost every club that they offer, the only one that I've passed on is the mini-skein club, mostly because I haven't been bitten by the hexapuff bug.  And I love their mystery knit alongs.  I am eagerly awaiting the start of the next knit along - Le Petit Prince. But back to the Sip 'n Stitch.
The coffee this time has chocolate.  The yarn is Pashmi in Red Eye Gravy.  And check out that cute little ceramic dish from Cats Paw Pottery.  I'm not sure what I'll use the little dish for, but I'm sure I'll find some use for it.  I love the extras that they include.

The other shipment that I received was the latest Flavour series offering from Zen Yarn Garden and Woolgirl.  This is their third offering - Cranberry Sweets - and the picture does not do justice to the yarn color, it is such a luscious red, it really does look good enough to eat.
Plus there are cranberry jelly candies and a matching stitch marker.  You could probably see things better if I had unpacked them all, but I wanted to show you the package just as it was pulled out of the box so that you understand the extra lengths that Woolgirl goes with her clubs.

Virginia's Scarf-In-A-Scarf - Finished!

I actually started this back in September, probably as an easy and compact knit for traveling.  I was doing a fair bit of traveling last fall for work.  I have now knit three of these scarves, one for me, and one each for the Beadcats, Carol and Virginia.  I do hope that Virginia likes the colors, I almost gave up on it because I wasn't sure about them.  I also have three scarf-in-a-shrug kits to knit up, hopefully before Bead & Button this year.  I always like to come bearing presents.

Azores Islands Pullover - Finished!

I finished this up on Thursday.  Once the body is done the sleeves go very quickly and I have started a new project at work so I had a fair bit of reading to do.  I only have two more colors of the Boomerang yarn to knit up into pullovers, and then I will start working my way through the Baby Boom, which is a lighter weight version of the Boomerang.  This colorway is Azores Islands, part of the Fiesta Yarns Color Cruise 2012 series.  The pattern is a modified top-down raglan from Sweater Wizard software, 3 skeins, size 5 and 6 needles.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Tie-Neck Top - Finished!

I have decided that I need to finish up some of the unfinished projects languishing around the house and this is the first one that I got to, probably because it was sitting in a bag just a few feet from where I usually sit to knit.  Finish or frog is my current mantra.  I do this periodically, especially when the clutter starts to get out of hand or I start to feel overwhelmed by the number of works in progress I have.  I did not end up picking up stitches for the sleeve shaping as I mentioned I was going to try in the previous post.  I had forgotten that this only works if you pick up all of the stitches at once and then do short rows, and I just didn't feel like doing that here.  It wasn't that big of a seam to sew up.  I did sew the seam from the end of the sleeve inward though, so I could use the same yarn to knit the garter stitch edging.  I do find it a little curious that the picture in the magazine does not show the garter stitch edging on the sleeves, of course it wouldn't be the first time that I have found mistakes in the sample garment photographed for the pattern.

I forgot to post this picture last time.  This is the view that greeted me this past Thursday, after that cold front blew through - a light dusting of snow.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Tie-Neck Top

I started this top on June 17, 2011, right after getting back from Bead & Button.  It is from the August 2011 issue of Knit 'n Style, one of the (too) many knitting magazines to which I subscribe.  The yarn is from the Premier Yarns Deborah Norville Collection - Serenity Garden Yarn - a Dralon Microfiber.  The pattern called for a US size 7 (4.5 mm) needle, but I had to go down to a US size 5 (3.75 mm) needle to get gauge.  I ended up picking the colorway that was in the magazine - #80004 Gems, and I purchased 6 skeins even though I am knitting the 32 inch size, which only calls for 5 skeins.  I often buy an extra skein, especially if the yarn is variegated as is this one.

Of course I modified the pattern to knit it in the round and now that I have the front done I am going to try to pick up stitches from the front shaping rather than casting on stitches for the increases.  We will see how well that works.  I also plan on doing a three-needle bind off at the shoulders.  Being an avid "in the round" knitter I was very interested in a recent blog post by Wendy Johnson in which she discusses the merits of knitting pieces and seaming.  I have long felt that seams can interfere with the drape of a garment, but she points out the fact that in knitting in the round you are actually knitting a spiral, which can also affect the drape, even causing the knitting to be skewed, depending upon the weight of the yarn.  In my knitting I tend to leave seams only where they serve a structural purpose, but now I shall consider my modifications a little more carefully.

The reason that this piece ended up sitting in my unfinished objects pile for so long was the fact that I realized when I started doing the neck shaping the blocks of color would get a lot larger.  Now if I had knit the front and back separately, the blocks of color would have been twice as large in the body as they are, and so the change would not be as drastic and I was a little worried about the aesthetics of the piece.  On the other hand, by knitting in the round I had avoided the whole challenge of matching the colors at the sides.  I am glad that I purchased an extra skein, however, because each time I started a new skein there was wastage as I matched the color sequence between the two skeins.  I am however, happy with the way it is turning out and I think I did a pretty good job of matching the color blocks on the two top front pieces.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Three Quarter Time Shawl - Chart E

Finished up Chart E, another set of blossoms, only to discover that I have two more sets of blossoms in Chart F.  Sigh.  I am getting really good at those increases...

I have to go back to work on Tuesday, and that makes me kind of sad.  I've enjoyed my time off, I really needed the break.  I even got a fair bit done in my studio.  Things are coming together and I am getting organized and creating homes for all the stuff that I have accumulated.  I have photographed the pattern envelopes for all my Vogue, McCalls and Simplicity Patterns, and I won't tell you how many that is.  I still have the Butterick and Folkwear Patterns to photograph.  They are all on my iPad and the pictures are labeled with the pattern number.  I thought about photographing the back of the pattern envelopes as well, but the iPad camera isn't really that great and the details weren't very readable.  I suppose I could have scanned front and back into PDFs, but that would have been a lot more work.  Making a stack of patterns and snapping pictures is pretty quick.  Labeling them all is a bit more tedious, but still not too bad.  Hopefully once I get my studio squared away I will be able to do some sewing.  I have a wonderful cutting table, but right now it is a bit cluttered...