Sunday, January 24, 2010

Who needs high speed internet when you can cable?

I never said I was witty.  

January has been a time of dreaming up cabled sweaters, brushing up old English dances, and - (cheezy trumpet fanfare) - finishing my dad's sweater vest!  It fits him well, despite my fears, and I'm very happy with it, overall.  The bottom ribbing hangs a little loosely in front.  Not bad, considering how many factors I was dealing with.

I'm very happy with the way the ribbing worked out.  It's nice to see yourself improving.  One of the advantages to knitting in public is that complete strangers occasionally come up to me and give encouragement and constructive criticism.  While I waited for my mother to finish a pre-op appointment at the hospital, a woman came up to me to inquire about my knitting.  Not only did she make me feel like I was doing well picking up the stitches; she shared a trick for straightening the crookedness at the base of the V-neck (it was much worse than in the photo).  She told me to take the yarn that I needed to weave in and sew in a sort of circle around the back of the stitch, tugging to straighten it out as desired.  It worked.  Yay for nice strangers.

I got to finish the sweater up while sitting with my dear lil sister up in Nyack, NY.  Cute little town with a yarn shop that is closed every time I come up there.  Darn.  But it also has a delightful cafe with a stunning tree made of newspaper winding through the entire shop.  What a foto op, eh?

In between knitting the sweater, I've managed to repurpose a repurposed hat for Hat Day at work.  I made the beanie a year ago while on a hat jag, and ended up using it as a dust rag.  When I realized I didn't have time to make a mohawk hat in time for Hat Day, a compromise ensued.  Haha!

You can see on the edge that I dressed some of the residents up in yarn as well, making braids or wigs on the spot.  We had good fun.  My neighbor in this picture looked darling with a purple princess cone hat thing, and a mop of pink hair.  She picked the color and wound the yarn around a chair herself, and I helped wind and tie it and trim it.  Fun times!

I'm working on boot number two for a Men Who Knit knitalong.  It's not much to look at yet, except for comedy at pre-felted sizing.  

I'm planning to add some sort of crocheted slip-stitch design over it in a bright ocean blue.  It's for wearing around the house, so who cares if it's a little wild?  I can't bear to make it plain...that would be too generic, and frankly, why bother at all, if it's gonna look like the stuff you can buy for cheaper?  It's an easy project, and I'm loving the liesurely pace of the knitalong...I can usually get the week's work done in a night, devoting the rest of my time to other things.

... like Cables!  I've been having a blast dreaming up a cabled sweater vest, thanks to the bug Elizabeth Zimmerman planted in my mind.  

Here's a swatch of the cables I have decided upon.  I had a blast charting out the cables, using Barbara Walker's method (more or less).  The bottom half is the front center panel, while the top cable will appear  a little above center in the back.  The rest of the sweater will continue in the 3x1 rib, allowing the cables to be somewhat organic with the texture of the sweater.  I also had a fun, somewhat dizzying time trying to calculate how to handle the numbers of stitches at various places.  I'm a couple inches into the cables right now, knitting in the round.  I figure I still have time to figure out how the neck will work.  Any thoughts?  If it wasn't too much, I'd love to try a shawl collar, but I've decided to wait for another sweater.  

Here's a few gratuitous pictures to reward any hardy readers out there.  

I was going to share a deep thought about life, but there is too much background music in Starbucks for clear thought.  Suffice it to say, yes, I have had an occasional thought.  Maybe it's better to refer you to a song or two, since I find songs are often what give me space to chew the cud.  Brett Dennen's "Heaven" and The Fray's "Syndicate" have been on my mind and playlist this week, thanks to free songs at Starbucks and my little sister's taste in music.  Enjoy, if you wish.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Sweater Vest Update

Adding the ribbing is a magical moment in knitting a sweater vest.  If you're a newbie, it's perhaps a bit terrifying, too.  Maybe it's that I'm knitting from the top down.  Maybe it's that I'm knitting clothing for a finicky recipient.  Whatever the reason, as I finished the neck ribbing, I began a restrained panic.  What if the neck is too shallow?  And then I took the scarily-too-long armholes and did the ribbing on one, and began to fear it had suddenly become too small as well.    To allay my fears, I borrowed a vest my Dad wears.  You can perhaps see that my sweater incorporates a distinct slope in the shoulders, and a bit more of a dip under the arm.  I'm really interested to see how this bugger fits him.

Like I said, knitting the ribbing of a sweater vest is magical.  A shapeless piece of fabric suddenly begins to declare that it is, in fact, a sweater, and your labors may yet pay off.  I am surprised how much I dreaded picking up and knitting the stitches; it's almost fun.  As a person who sorts his Skittles by colors and eats the excess of any particular color first and the rest in sequential, measured decreases, I find great satisfaction in seeing the fabric over the shoulder beginning to behave, simply because I have added more stitches to it.

I'm loving working with this fabric.  I only miss having small projects to tote around.  One armhole left, then the rest of the body!  Whoo hoo!

Monday, January 4, 2010

A Generic Greeting: Happy New Year!

The pre-Christmas blizzard gave me time to spin up some bulky yarn for a pair of convertible mitts for my sister.  

Okay, so the yarn is too bulky and wonky to do what I did.  It was one of those gifts where I had to explain why it would be nice to receive.  I also promised to do better next time.  I imagine the mitts will join the ‘archive,’ rather than being used.  At least it’s a nice color and a learning process.  I learned why it’s better to struggle to pick up the stitches than try to knit magic where it doesn’t want to happen.  At least until I become a better knitter and spin finer yarn (finer on several counts).

Here’s Mom’s Malabrigo vest.  I’m so glad I have a ball of this yarn left over to play with.

I knit up a Jacques Cousteau hat in a nice handdyed black yarn a friend gave me.  Snappy little hat.  Wonderfully simple.

Knitting in the New Year: how I spent my last and first hours

In the hours leading up to the changing of the decade, I watched way too many episodes of America’s Funniest Home Videos as I finished a pair of simple black mitts for a guy on the bus I take to work.  I’m happy with them...they reassure me that when push comes to shove, I can produce items which are not overdone or embarrassing for the recipient.  It’s just not as fun during the process, being a person who gets a kick out of the interplay of colors.

When the mitts ended, the videos continued on, and as they did they became funnier.  (The only bubbly drinks I had were Coke and Green Tea Ginger Ale, so it couldn’t have been the influence of alcohol.)  The knitting continued as well, and I got to play with colors once again.  I began the first of two mug cozies, a strip of simple garter stitch with decreases and an I-cord button loop on one end.  

The second I cast on in the dark of a movie theater on New Year’s Day, and when I reentered the world of light I added a butt upon which the mug may sit, a sort of built-in coaster. 

I want to tweak it the next time I make one.  How nice it is to have such care-free, quick, and useful projects that love being knit from your left-over scraps of fun yarn!  Having scratched the itch, I returned happily to Dad’s sweater vest, adding a bit of shaping before launching into the grand expanse of stockinette.

My sister gave me a belated Christmas gift in the wee hours of the new year, one which has a lot of bang for its buck: Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitter’s Almanac.  I’m currently poring over the January Aran Sweater.  I'd love to make it, but I don't feel right about the yarn I have, and it's probably not the time to buy more.  Some day, I'm sure.  I do have some lovely light blue intended for a vest, so maybe that will suffice for now. 

May this year bring you many reasons to look back and be glad.