Saturday, February 27, 2010

Winding up for the finish

Pun intended.  

I wound two skeins of alpaca/silk lace yarn for my upcoming Evenstar Shawl.  I slightly freaked at the feeling of fragility in the yarn as I opened up the hanks.  And I had a little fun taking pics with my Hemlock Ring as well.

The Olympic knitting is in a way a sort of time-bound training for my bigger project on the Evenstar.  Further up and further in!

Today I finished Mom's Little Black Shawl, which took the place of the February Lady Sweater.  If you're looking for an easy and functional and pretty knit, this may be the thing. 

Sorry for the lousy pictures.  I had to brave the stares of people at an overcrowded Starbucks as it was.

It acutally wasn't my favorite project...I'm thinking it was the large size of the needles combined with this not-so-thick yarn.  It's Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted.  I don't fully know why I don't like this yarn as much as I used to, but I think it's the way it splits, and the fact that it is has no grab, so it's very unforgiving if you catch the yarn a bit as you knit.  This used to be a favorite of mine.  I guess we go in phases.  The yarn used for my sweater vest definitely spoiled me with its lofty, spongy, gritty feel (without being scratchy).  Maybe it's just that I don't like plain, albeit handdyed, black.  Still, I'm happy to knit it for Mom if it will be something she can really use and enjoy.  

Left to finish by tomorrow night: my Herringbone Rib Socks.  

I'm on the foot of each, past the heel, but it's very slow knitting.  
I'm not too sure I'll make it to the finish line in time.  

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Picture books are for short attention spans

More pics of the hemlock ring:

And other pics:

"Doom!  The cracks of Doom!"
Thanks to the cartoon of the Return of the King.

I'm not a photographer.  But I thought this is one of the better moments for this water retainment pond by the mall.

Happy winter.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Bangin' em out

The 2010 Olympics are in full swing, and so is my spree of project finishing.  Now that the sweater vest is out of the way, here's my latest Finished Object: my very own Hemlock Ring Blanket!

I had put this project aside last summer, not realizing I was just past the last set of increases before the bindoff.  That means I had four rows plus the edging to do.  Granted, those last rows take a bit to get all the way around, but it was easy knitting.  I even used a lifeline, but it was kinda pointless at that stage.  Oh well, good practice.

 The pattern is Jared Flood's Hemlock Ring Blanket, a doily pattern extrapolated into a lap blanket, using the help of bulky yarn.  It's knit in Cascade Ecological Wool, color Latte, and I have a good bit of the second skein left.  Granted, the skein is about 500 yards to begin with.

Yeah.  And I wound that sucker by hand.

On the needles now, with the mad intention of finishing by closing ceremony next Sunday, are a pair of long forgotten socks, a shawl for mom, and another Herbivore Shawl by Stephen West.  Hold on to your hats, folks!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sappy Story Hour

I was in the nursing home yesterday, and noticed a tiny woman sitting there.  She looked frail, worn thin, disinterested.  No matter what the staff did, they couldn’t get her to perk up or show any positive response.  So one of them handed her a little toy collie with a thick swatch of green knitted fabric tied onto its back as if it was a dog sweater.  She accepted it halfheartedly, held it for a bit, then did something that just slightly amazed me.  She took the soft, knitted swatch off the dog, held it in her hand and looked at it, then softly leaned her cheek against it.  The look she gave that green fabric was almost like an inaudible sigh of relief.  Or perhaps it was weariness.  But it seemed to me that with the company of this little hand-knit, this inconsolable little woman, in some small way, rested.  It made me want to knit more.

This morning as I rode the bus to work, I noticed a pretty, white lace beret slowly slipping off the back of a girl's head.  She got off the bus with me, hat still intact, but slipping ever closer to being lost in the wet street.  In a moment of desperation, I called over the din of raging traffic until I got her attention, rescuing her hat from certain destruction.  Don't worry, we are all fine.  

The things a knitter does for a bit of lace.  

All in a day's work.  

Sweater Story Hour

So, here it is: my cabled sweater vest.  All done, and quickly being broken in with wearing.  
One of my favorite Christmas presents this year was Elizabeth Zimmerman’s The Knitter’s Almanac.  Right out of the gates, she had me dreaming of cabled sweaters as I finished up my dad’s stockinette vest.  I knew I wanted my own sweater vest, as well as a sweater, and I couldn’t imagine either of them being plain stockinette.  I haven’t really been drawn to colorwork as much as textures and the beauty of the yarn.  At the same time, Yarndude shared about shawl collars, particularly in BoyMeetsPurl’s latest sweaters this winter.  Another bug planted under my skin.  I knew this sweater vest would have to have a shawl collar.  Looking at a bunch of the Patons Men’s sweaters only confirmed my vision.
I delved into my knitting pattern books (and added a couple in the process) to find cables that sparked my interest.  I finally settled on the Ensign’s Braid from Barbara Walker’s Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns (which, I must brag, I bought at a used book store for under seven bucks...and I must confess, didn’t think I would like much).  I also took the rope cables from the same page, leaving out the zig-zags that gave it the name “Framed Cable.”  Thanks, Stitchers, for your feedback and suggestions. 
Meanwhile, I found a woven cable in a Vogue Stitch-A-Day calendar called Crossroads.  A lightbulb went on as I checked to see if my plans for a wide rib pattern would flow naturally into this cable.  And it did.  

The Ensign’s Braid cable bands are each three stitches wide, the un-framed cables are six, and the Crossroads cable strips are three each.  So we have a 3x1 rib for the rest of the sweater.
With the stitch patterns decided, I swatched and crunched numbers.  Then, to my excitement, I cast on at last.  Through the process of knitting the sweater I used a few sweater construction experiences as guides, then added a dose of hope and educated guessing.  I was amazed at how long my torso is!  My previous sweater feels kinda short, and now I understand why.  What amazes me is that I can measure a commercial sweater and think I’m matching the measurements in my knitting, but when I try it on, I have miles to go before I sleep.  This was true not only of the torso, but also in the shoulders.  The above swatch picture is history, by the way.  I recycled the yarn to make the collar.   
As for the shawl collar, I compared the bits I gathered about shaping (thanks to the guys and girl on MenWhoKnit), and decided to first knit the back stitches, picking up two more each time I went back and forth, then eventually three, then four just before picking up the remainder and knitting the whole flap back and forth.  I sewed in the flaps, blocked and wove in the ends, and voila. Oh, I skipped right over this, but I tried my first time at steam blocking on this sucker, fearing that I might have a hunch over my already existing knot in the back.  It seems to be fine, so long as I don’t look up.  I love the shawl collar.  I always feel a bit like an ostrich anyway.

Oh.  And I have a couple yards of yarn left.  Haha.  This took away from my Olympics knitting, but it's pretty extreme for itself, and I'm pretty proud of it.  

Now, what to dub this sucker?  
“I’ve got a knot in my back and I don’t care who knows it.”
or perhaps "George Jetson gets in touch with his Norwegian roots."  
For now, I guess I'll just call it my Cabled Sweater Vest.   Very original.

Hang on to your hats.  More stories tonight.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sappy Valentines Day

What can I say?  I'm in love.

I made a discovery.  I have managed to shape a sweater vest that would fit perfectly...on a hunchback.  You can't see it much here, but as I'm putting in the shawl collar, the two short rows I put in above the knot on the back are causing a problem.  So much for feeling brilliant.
Enjoy it while you see it...I think I'm gonna rip the back back.  (I love my grammar.)
Before I do, I think I'm gonna set it aside for a period of mourning.  
After all, this is not on the Ravelympics list.

Oh, did I mention I'm crazy?  I signed my life away for the year.  It's called "10 shawls in 2010."  I thought to myself, I can totally do this!  When I looked back at last year, I had completed eight or nine shawls, and I don't think I started them until May.  However, they were all on the smaller side.  This challenge requires that all shawls use at least 250 meters of yarn (piece of cake), but at least two have to use at least 500 meters.  That's a real shawl.  I can't wait, especially to do a square shawl (or three), but it's harder to keep up the stamina when one round takes so stinking long.  That's why my Hemlock Ring blanket is on my UFO's list for the next couple of weeks.

I took this just after completing the center.  I have much more done, but never took a picture.  This doesn't count toward the 10 shawls mentioned earlier.  I have to start and finish them in this year.  
However, I am working on one during the Ravelympics for mom, in lieu of a February Lady Sweater (her choice).

A song to wrap up:
To the tune of "His Eye Is On The Sparrow"
I sing because I'm single
And I sing because I'm free
I have no one to cuddle,
And that doesn't bother me...

...not too much.


But I'll be fine.


More Pics added:

My lovely photographer, Sheila.
Thank you!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Slipper? I don't even know 'er!

I've had too much junk food today.  Coffee, Coke, and generic-brand Cheezies (think Cheetos).  And mac-and-cheese, of course!  It's all this snow--giving me an unexpected day off work.   I got to knock out some serious knitting/decorating.

The felted boots are done, just sitting near the heater to dry.  I shot these pictures in the basement. My apologies for the poor photography.  Until I can get to the store and get some way to transfer pics from my phone, I'm stuck with crazy photo shoots on my laptop.

Oh.  And don't wash a wooden DPN in the laundry. It's not good for it.

My sweater vest is inching its way to completion.  (WHEEE!)  It's so beautiful, but I don't have the stuff to photograph it.  But wait till it's done!

Heigh-ho, it's off to bed I go!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Gab time

It's snowing outside.  I'm sure you've heard it before.  Suffice it to say, I'm inside, and happy for it, wrapped up in my cuddly Malabrigo goodness.  Rather than talk about what I'm knitting--there's nothing new to talk about, really--I want to point you to a few things that I've been interested by this week.

While watching Adam, a story about a man in his late twenties who has been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, I noticed two things.  First, the snowfall didn't change the landscape at all...the newly fallen snow looked rather like a whole camera crew had been trampling around all day on it.  Funny.  Just after that, I realized that through the whole movie, I had been oogling a plethora of sweaters, especially cabled ones.  Maybe it's because I'm currently knitting a cabled sweater, but I get the impression that the costume designer or director loves his/her knits.  Fine by me, especially on such nice models.

I also just came across Franklin Habit's moderately recent blog entry combining toilet paper dolls and Project Runway.  GGSS.

This morning I found a mystery knitalong, in which a pattern is knit in bits, as "clues" (portions of the pattern) are released each week, allowing the the participants to knit blindly in the company of once-strangers.  I was puzzled by the pictures I found, until I saw a model being knit up through the fifth's a beautiful moth shawl, and the first lace shawl I've come across that utilizes cables (and beautifully at that).  It's also a beaded shawl, and one that I hope I can knit some day.  It's going in the list of Mmario's shawls that I want to knit.  haha.  I can't imagine wearing it, but from what I've seen it'll be worthy of prominent display.

Dave said he'd be tempted to repeat the cable mistake up the sweater.  I was, too.  But that would almost take more work to maintain than going back and fixing it.  That, and I also like to eat my Skittles in color order, in equal quantities.

Yarndude asked about the snickerability of felting.  For the benefit of all those lurkers who read this blog (both of you), I will say that a horny gay man hears what he wants to hear.

GGSS = Giggle-Giggle, Snort-Snort  (Hi, Jenny!)

Oh, I almost forgot to mention...I'm famous, thanks to my gracious and talented friend who makes me sound like I actually use every bit of fiber I buy.  Thanks, Aaron!  You'll receive your check just as soon as my modeling career starts picking up:

I hear that Vogue Knitting is doing a special Greenland issue, and I'm in the running for making the cover spread.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Pre-games training

The Olympics are coming up, and I've decided to try finishing my UFO's during the Ravelympics (for you less savvy knitters, UFO's are UnFinished Objects).  So in order to have peace of mind during that time, I want to be done my sweater vest.  Call it training, if you will.

I spent a lovely weekend up in central Jersey, during which I brought my sweater to a bar in New Hope.  What felt like I was in the TV show Cheers.  I didn't knit drunk, never fear, but I did discover that I had crossed the main cable wrongly way back near the beginning.  Darnit!
You can see the wrong cross marked by the cable needle.  

Now I will show you how one can address such an issue without ripping everything back.  

I found out it is possible to actually drop the erring cable all the way down to the problem spot, and it makes for a wonderful dissection of cabled knitting.  Notice how everything remains intact, leaving only the three-stitch cable unravelled.  I took this picture after correcting the cable cross.

Here's a picture in which I have used a crochet hook to rework one stitch column of the cable.
Because the cable only crosses under the one time, it's not bad to fix at all.  It's the same as fixing a stitch in regular just meanders across the fabric a bit.

Here's the fixed cable.  It took ripping two of the columns back again to get the tension back to normal.  I trust that as I knit the rest of the garment the slight difference in the look of the stitches will not be very noticeable, except to perhaps highlight the movement of the cables.  Chalk it up to being a design feature.  Yay for cabling experts.  My thanks to Melissa Leapman for this one.  Now I see why she said it really isn't worth all the worry we initially have about a messed up cable.  It's like life, I guess.

*oh, and all these photos are mirror-image.  Just in case those things matter to you.  So if you want to see it better, place a mirror opposite your computer screen.

While up in central Jersey, I got to sing in a festival of choirs, attend a friend's (wonderful) recital, miss a snow storm, and make plans for some future singing and harpooning  harping gigs.  

I guess I have a full plate ahead of me.  Here's a pic to show the knitted, but not felted, boot.  Oh, and don't bother talking about felting with perverted gay men unless you want snickers.  So says experience.