Thursday, January 26, 2012

And the winner is...

The results are in, and we have a winner!

Yarndude gave the closest answer by selecting numbers 5 and 6; the actual stripes I added in are numbers 3 and 4.  I'm fiendishly delighted that nobody could tell where my grafting was; after all, I fussed over it a good while to get it right!

ribbing

When I knit the vest, I bought two skeins of BrooklynTweed LOFT in the colorway "Plume," but I only used one.  Yarndude just won the other skein! Congratulations!

Plume 3

Plume 1

Here's a hearty "thank you" to everyone for participating and sharing the love!  And again, a special "thank you" to Aaron, whose generosity and skill with a spinning wheel made this vest worth every bit of extra effort.

Here's a bit of other news that I'm delighted to share. About the time in my life when knitting began taking on a life of its own, I discovered that yarn shops exist.  Before that point, I only had craft department stores, and they just aren't the same thing.  I feel strongly about the need for Local Yarn Shops, and I make a point to visit as many as I can and support their business. In a world where retail so often leaves me with an empty feeling of being used and treated like a number, I love that I can take my business to yarn shops. Each one has its own unique flavor that reflects the owner, and I love when I find a yarn shop that I can really relate to.

The first yarn shop I ever found was Loop, and it immediately claimed a special place in my heart. It has a wonderfully clean and cozy feeling about it, and each line of yarn is laid out in rainbow order so that the yarn really shines in the well-designed lighting.  In fact, after seeing skeins hanging from the walls, I adopted the idea in my own room so that I could enjoy my favorite purchases even before I knit them. In all my travels to various and wonderful yarn stores, stopping by Loop was a bit like stopping home. Working at Loop has always been a fantasy of mine, but recently that dream became a reality. The staff there are some of the best and have long felt like friends.  I feel pretty lucky to be counted among their ranks. So stop by on a Saturday and say hello!  And if you buy Loft, I'll be more than happy to wind it for you, heh heh!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Alberta Vest -and my first giveaway!

The vest that helped me usher in the new year is completed!

flatfrontal

When my friend Aaron sent me his purple handspun yarn, I was immediately smitten with its beauty and knew it deserved special treatment. I love that part of the knitting process when I get to imagine what a yarn wants to be, and this was definitely one of those moments that found me just a bit obsessed.

vestfullfrontal

My boyfriend gave me wonderful color advice as I pored over the yarns at the shop, and I ended up choosing SHELTER and its fingering weight counterpart, LOFT. I love how it turned out. The lateral stretch during blocking worked nicely, so it fits much better than it did when I last posted.

vest back

funnyface

The photo shoot took place in some bitterly chilly wind, and I found that the vest helped keep me insulated quite nicely.  Then when I stepped inside a toasty restaurant to fill up on warm food, I found myself still comfortable.  I definitely want to use these yarns again!

Here's a view of the inside of the steeks:

steeks

When I posted earlier about the steeks, Ted Walsh requested an in-depth post on the crocheted steek.  I had once taken a class that included a quick introduction to steeking, but I needed a refresher. I found a very detailed tutorial on Eunny Jang's blog that helped me through the whole process. I'd recommend you do a search and see what she has to say, as I strongly doubt I could do any better than her.  

Toward the end of last week I was facing the daunting task of working in a couple extra purple stripes in the body of the sweater, and I am pleased with the result.  I have been working my way through The Hunger Games trilogy, and found grafting a difficult task to dovetail with reading; it probably would have been easier to just rip back from the bottom and add a few more rows above the ribbing.  But I had already committed myself, and it was a fun - if not slow - challenge.  I guess it's one of these "because I can" moments.


vest frontish


So, Because I Can, I'd like to hold my first ever blog reader giveaway as a token of my thanks to you friends who have taken the time to stop by and read and spread a bit of love.

When I did my sweater surgery, I added two more purple stripes to the sweater to give it more length.  That leaves a total of twenty purple stripes in the body of the sweater before the steeks break them up.  The quiz question is this: which two stripes are the new ones? The bottom purple stripe (nearest the ribbing) would be the first, the purple stripe above that would be the second, and so on.  Leave your answer in the comments by 6 p.m. EST on Wednesday, January 25th, and the best answer or two gets a purple prize from my stash. In the event of a tie, I'll resort to one of them random number generator thingies.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

So close to the finish, I refuse to rip.

The steeks have turned out great on the Alberta vest, and I even picked up the neck stitches fairly well the second time around.  But now that I'm knitting down the bottom ribbing, I'm facing a slight dilemma.

The vest appears to be too short.

I was worried that the vest would be too long before adding the ribbing, but it seems to have magically lost some of that length while I was paying attention to the top of the sweater.  Knits really are living things.

In my fear that I would run out of the precious purple handspun yarn, I chose to knit the smallest size and trust that my poor gauge matching would even things out.  And of course I didn't check the fit until after cutting the steeks, since it's very difficult to try on a vest when silly things like arms or a head get in the way.  Even if I could stretch the vest during blocking, I am counting on the ability to add some lateral size to the vest, which only makes the vest shorter.  Perhaps that's why it suddenly looks shorter as I try it on.

But I am not afraid.  I specifically used a provisional cast-on and saved the ribbing for last so that I could easily knit downward if I needed to adjust body length.  The problem is that I simply don't want to rip back the ribbing I've been knitting for the last several hours.

It's okay; I have met this challenge before.  In the wonderful world of stockinette fabric, a bit of surgery can preserve all those hours of knitting and still give me a chance to add the length I need.  That's right.  I'm gonna chop this vest in half, knit some more stripes, and graft it back together.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Steek!

Prepare yourself for a very poorly written stream of thought.

I may be dating myself, but I grew up with wonderful life role models on television.  It was the heyday of Sesame Street, Mister Rogers, Care Bears, and the bizarrely amusing PeeWee Herman. Besides sharing a certain talent for musical expression through bodily movements with the scandalous Playhouse hero, I feel an affinity to Mr. Herman's practice of selecting a Word Of The Day.  Today's word of the day is "insipid." And that's simply because I can.  So wish me luck.

And now for the fiber-related side of this post.

When the gift-giving season was safely past, I took the opportunity to obtain a book that had been on my list.  This way, no one would feel badly for not getting it for me, right?
starmore fair isle

While I was there, I also took the opportunity to purchase a used copy of a book containing the pattern for a pair of excellent gloves I received as a birthday gift from a very generous friend.
Vogue cover

Since the weather has made gloves a welcome accessory, I have fast decided that I need to start knitting these as well. I love my pair, and it would be great to share the love. I like Aaron's decision to switch the direction of one of the cables.
gloves
I brought the book and gloves in to the nursing home, and the reaction among the ladies was very enjoyable.  They seemed to come alive as they talked about the knitting they've done in the past, and everyone loved the gloves almost as much as I do.

In other news, progress on the Spectra is slow but fun enough.  Here we see another color beginning to show.
spectra


It's only slow because I've been obsessed with my vest. Here's a photo chronicle of my first steek ever! For a knitter, this is anything but insipid.  (AAAAAH!)
deformed body
Knitting in the round instead of working v-neck pieces back-and-forth was so delightfully easy.

neck steek
Here's the neck steek stitches set aside like lambs for the slaughter.

crocheting


mistake!
Mistake!  Ack!

crocheting back 2
Fixed, and on the rebound...

ready closeup
All lined up and ready to go.

STEEK!
STEEK!

super closeup
For the uninitiated, steeking involves snipping the ladders of a single column of stitches. I used the crocheted method to anchor either side so the stitches do not unravel. 

steek finished
Post-surgery, the neck hole opens up like a treasure chest.

steek folded under
The steeky edges happily fold under the work, giving a foretaste of what the v-neck will look like. Woot!  So exciting!

A note: Aaron corrected me about the purple yarn... he said he used more of a worsted technique when spinning the yarn, but since it was spun from a batt, it could be seen as sort-of woolen. Open mouth, insert foot.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A quickie: New Years lovin'

Happy New Year!  I had an amazing weekend with lots to think about and great company. I'm so glad to be with a person who feels as happy as I to park early for the fireworks, find a coffee shop, and knit while we wait.  Here's a shapshot I took while waiting for some action at the Mummer's parade:
Stripes

I actually have about a foot knit on the sweater vest, because I am eager to finish it and wear it.  I decided that sweater vests are great because they only require a moderate commitment in time and money, and you can wear them in a variety of settings.  So I hope to knit a few of the buggers this year.

As if I didn't have enough projects on the needles yet, I cast on tonight for a Windschief neck warmer.  After a recent and very windy day in the city, I decided I needed to make at least two of these, since they pack small and they are impossible to blow off, even with the strongest gust of wind.  Of course, I needed to use soft yarn... I went stash diving and pulled out some old-school Malabrigo for the job.  Now all I can say is that it has been too long since I've knit with such buttery-soft goodness.  I know it won't be the sturdiest thing in the world, but I don't really care.  I might even encourage a bit of felting to toughen things up.  It's a bit of a pity that some of the newer and sturdier yarns have eclipsed the reign of Malabrigo.  I'm just sayin'.