Saturday, December 31, 2011

Finishing the year with a lot of starts

My beginning is my end
Now I can show you two of the gifts I finished:

Shawl side

I love the velcro quality of brick walls that enable quick photographs of wooly yarns.  This is "A Seriously Simple Shawl" knit up in Kiparoo Farms Skye, though the yarn seemed to have more halo than I remember from a previous project.  I knit the pattern because I love the overall effect of the border, but the body pattern was not as much fun as many of the all-over lace patterns I've worked.

Shawl bench

Although I was weaving in the ends on one gift Christmas morning right before breakfast, I had all but one gift finished and wrapped in time for the big family gift exchange.  The last present to be finished was for my sweetie, and I feel pretty good about how much I accomplished in terms of holiday knitting this year.  I think I took to heart the goal I made at the beginning of the year to knit for others more.  Here's my honey's socks, knit in the lovely Briar Rose Fibers Fourth of July:

Socks 4

I took some cues from Clara Parkes' pattern in her Knitter's Book of Socks, and I love how the colors pop in the heel.

Heel closeup

My end is my beginning
Have you heard of the term "start-itis"?  Since finishing all my Christmas knitting I've felt like a freed man and have reveled in the opportunity to cast on a number of projects.

During the Tour de Fleece, I used my Trindle to spin up a delightful merino yarn that shifts colors right through the spectrum of colors.  My intention was to pair it with a light grey for a Spectra scarf. I didn't get around to finishing the grey, but on my last trip to Loop, I found some Madelinetosh dk that will be perfect for what I envisioned.  For this project I added another trick to my bag of knitting skills: backwards knitting.  It's really not as bad as I thought.  I had the sound off on my computer and still managed to understand a tutorial I found on YouTube.

Spectra 2

You may remember my last post, in which I talked about my hankering to knit up some of my Black Bunny Fibers yarn... well, here is the green-grey colorway.  Green and grey seems to be a theme for me.

198 yards 2

Another yarn I've had a real hankering to knit ever since I laid eyes (and hands) on it is the purple rambouillet batt my friend Aaron spun up using a supported long draw... that's what he called it.  I think it would fall more into the woolen category based on the way the fibers sit in the yarn, as compared to a worsted-spun yarn.  That's for you spinner folk. This really is a delicious yarn.  As I pondered how to perfectly use it, I went through lots of possibilities before deciding to try Jared Flood's Alberta vest, using  Shelter as the other yarn.  Well, the trim will be using Loft double-stranded, so it should really be an interesting combination.

Purple Trio 6

Because of some variables I am unsure of after a bit of swatching, I decided to cast on using a crocheted provisional cast-on. The advantage of this is that I can make sure the sweater is working out alright before spending my time on the ribbing, which will not be using the handspun yarn that adds a bit of mystery to the gauge question. It also gives me the option of fixing possible issues in body length much later in the game.  And I don't have to wait to work with that yummy purple stuff (on the left). Oh, but the best part is that I don't have to work a tubular cast-on; instead I can utilize my love for Kitchener stitch in the tubular cast-off!

sweater vest caston

See that crochet hook I'm using to pick up the stitches with?  It's actually a cro-needle the boyfriend spied on a recent visit to a yarn shop.  I've been looking for one of these for some time, and it's already proving to be a wonderful tool.  I know a lot of the interchangeable sets are making (or talking about making) pieces for this kind of needle, but I hope they'll speed up the process.  I think more knitters should have these.

crohook 2

After picking up the initial row of stitches, I knit a row plain to set myself up for the increases, then paused to do a bit of math.  Well, I felt too lazy to be really fussy with math, so here's the solution I used.  I needed to evenly space out sixteen increases over 150 stitches, so we punched in the numbers.  150 divided by 16 equals 9.3 something, so I knew I needed to work an increase after every nine or ten stitches.  But how many nines or tens?  9 times 16 equals 144, so I had a remainder of six; so ten of the increases would be after the ninth stitch, and six would be after the tenth stitch knitted in the increase round.  I raided my notions box and found to my delight that I had sixteen stitch markers, six of them being green and the rest being orange.

Counting increases

Now I need to pause to explain that I hate planning ahead, as in a chess game, but I am still a bit obsessive when I eat my Skittles -- arrange them all by color, eating the extras first, then one of each color in succession until one of each color remains.  If you know this about me, it may not seem a far stretch that I was able to group the stitch markers in clumps of two or three, so that I could make sure the green ones were most evenly distributed, without having to think too hard.  Then as I knit the row, spacing my increases was a simple as replacing the corresponding marker in the tin when I reached nine or ten stitches and work the increase.  And it came out perfectly!  Some times knitting makes a person feel so smart.

Now I must send this out with only a half hour left to call "this year."
Happy New Year to you! Cheers, and happy knitting!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Knitter's Wish List

I've been knitting furiously (minus the angst) since you last heard from me, as well as running to a few choir concerts.  Due to the holiday knitting pact of secrecy, I have little to show for my work, except this shoddy photo to prove that I finished the stockings:

I feel better now that I can see them finished, with the names stitched on there.  Oh, did I ever tell you how delightful duplicate stitch can be?  I think the fact that it's merely tracing the path of the yarn through the symmetry of the ever-so-familiar knit stitch is both comforting and soothing.  I thought it would seem more profound than that.  Oh well.  Master of the obvious.

I've never been in such good standing as I am this year for holiday gifts, but I'm still plugging away at a few gifts this week, including a shawl that is merely rows from completion and a sock that is only a few inches into its existence.  As I work I find my thoughts wandering forward to the time when I get to knit with worsted weight yarn, or knit small projects like mittens or hats, and play with some ideas and colors I've gotten my hands on.  So I figured it might be worthwhile to share a "wish list" - that is, things I wish to knit, when I get a chance.  Not really a new year's resolution so much as a bit of indulgence in the delight of planning new projects.

I want to knit with some mystery Black Bunny Fibers yarns I picked up earlier in the year:

I want to knit mittens of the stranded and plain varieties, including a convertible set.  I also want to make a slouchy hat for myself (Dustland, I think), since regular hats just don't seem to give me the coverage I want.  Of course, I want to get back to making another pair or more of worsted-weight socks to keep my toes warm at night.

A cardigan (in Shelter?) would be great, since it has the practical aspect of being easier to put on and take off during a day that can get hot, then return to chilly whenever the heater goes off.  But the other day I found some great colors in a basic Norwegian wool that I'm itching to knit into a stranded sweater. I got just enough to experiment with the colors before deciding on how many balls I need of each one; hopefully it will come to fruition.  I'm not the most avid sweater knitter, so it'll probably be a toss-up to whether I get to do either one.  Sweaters take a bit more commitment, not only in time but in the same yarn, and I just can't afford that at the moment.

Oh, and I can't wait to spin again.  The boyfriend just got a new Lendrum wheel, which means I have all the more encouragement to get behind the wheel, too.

Speaking of the boyfriend, he was kind enough to help me once again get some pictures of some the knitting I have been doing.  I don't think this will spoil any gifting going on:

Meh.  For now, my planning is all dreaming.  I still have to finish that shawl!

Have a merry Christmas, happy knitting, and happy old year while we still have it!