Wednesday, September 28, 2005

I'm not a spaz!

No, I didn’t throw Hopeful out the window in sheer frustration. I may have spazzed, but I think it worked out okay in the end. I finished the body section last night and tried it on to see if I went overboard. Thankfully, it looks just fine now, and I didn’t even have to hold my breath to get in. Turns out, the fabric is a whole lot stretchier when knitted up than you could imagine from just feeling the yarn. Anyway, I’m pretty happy with how it’s turning out so far.

I only have this picture to show for now. This is fresh off the needles, so you can see that the armhole and neckline edges are curling a bit. I’m blocking it now so that I am not quite so frustrated with the picking up stitches bit. I would show you the picture of trying on the body section, but as you can see, the neckline is a bit on the open side. Let’s just say that despite being a member of the IBTC*, I wasn’t exactly comfortable showing that to the world.

So what I’m wondering right now is, how far am I percentage wise? I have the neck border to apply and cap sleeves to add. I started out assessing my progress based on the number of balls of yarn I needed, but I think that's probably inaccurate given my adjustment. In my size, I was to need 3.87 balls of silky wool. This is how much I have left of the three balls I showed last week as of today. So I'm guessing that I've used about 2 balls, most likely less. I know that I took out a significant portion of stitches around the waist and hip area, but geez! I didn’t think it would amount to a whole ball of yarn difference… So what to do with the other 7 balls of silky wool in this pack?

* I didn’t come up with that acronym… DF’s college friend did. It just rhymes so well. Stands for “Itty Bitty T-- Committee”. You get the idea.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Branching Out

Yes, this is old. I just got around to blocking it last night. I don't think I can tell the difference though!

Pattern: Branching Out in Knitty

Materials: K1C2 Douceur et Soie (70% mohair, 30% silk, 225 yd) in blue, 1 skein. Size 8 circulars.

Started: August 7, 2005
Completed: September 13, 2005

Cable cast on, size 9. No other modifications for once!

I got really good at tinking mohair lace. That’s probably not a good thing, but hey, it’s experience right? The other thing I learned from this project is that I am allergic to mohair. Or at least mohair makes my eyes water and itch, so does that count to being allergic?

The thing that saved me on this pattern before I memorized it was using a little Post-It flag to mark which row I was on in the chart. I’d flag the row on the right side if I was starting the knit row and on the left side if I needed to start the purl row. And all of those people who say that you should mark the right side with a pin or something? Yeah, that’s also a great idea because heck if I can tell the right side from the wrong side on this lace pattern.

Previous posts about this project:
Is this a Blaze? on 9/14/2005
Get your own project! on 8/17/2005

Monday, September 26, 2005

Still Obsessive... LA edition

So DF and I were out last night playing Keohinani’s favorite game, “Guess the fiber content!”. Yes, we were spending an exciting Sunday night at Long’s Drugstore.  I tug on DF’s sleeve.  Ooh, I like that shawl collar on the sweater that girl’s wearing.  Ick, I don’t like the four GIGANTIC buttons arranged like dots on dice that fasten it closed.  It totally screws up the shape of the cardigan.  But I’ll bet that’s a variegated mohair/nylon/metallic blend kind of like Karabella Gossamer, only not in solid colors.  I can make that.  Except, sans the giant buttons and elbow length sleeves.  What’s with the elbow length sleeves these days?  Too lazy to make full or ¾ length sleeves?

So I’m staring at this girl for like 5 minutes wishing I had a camera functionality on my phone so I can take pictures of this woman’s sweater so I could make my own.  I debate whether to interrupt this woman’s cell phone conversation to ask her where she got her sweater so I could then go and do the same thing Jessica suggested.  

Then I have one of those flashbacks because I read US magazine way too much.  Stars!  They’re just like US!  They put their hair up in a hurried bun and rush out the door in their favorite old clogs and jeans to get their prescription filled and laundry detergent so they can have clean clothes before going on a trip.  Except they’re really not because most of us don’t have to jet to London for post-production re-shoots.  

The girl steps up to the counter and says (without getting off the phone), “I have a prescription.  Biel please?”  Oh yeah, that’s why she looks vaguely familiar.  I admit it.  I watch way too much of the WB.

I realized that I was living most men’s fantasy.  I’m sitting five feet away from Jessica Biel staring at her chest wishing I had a camera.   Only, I didn’t want to snap a picture to brag to my friends and  prove I was five feet away from JB’s breasts.  I’d have zoomed in on the ugly buttons so I can blog about how I’d change them on my version of the sweater.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Charlotte's Web

Pattern: from Koigu (get it here)
Materials: Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks 2ply wool (100% wool in 150 yd or 600 yd skeins). 300 yards of blue heather and ~300 yards of pink heather. Size US6 Denise
Gauge: I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t check (bad girl!)
Finished size: 70” across neck edge, 32” from neck edge to center point

Started: August 20, 2005
Finished: September 23, 2005

Obviously, I only used 2 colors instead of the five colors suggested in the pattern. I also omitted the last 3 rows of the pattern and the fringe due to a yarn shortage.

My first large scale lace project I think was a success. Or at least I’m happy enough with it and I think that my great grandmother will really enjoy it this Christmas. I would recommend this pattern to people as their first lace project as it was really quite easy once you understood what they wanted you to do. The only problem I ran into was what to do in the end with the bind off as this was never mentioned in the pattern.

I found that stitch markers to mark off pattern repeats was the key here. Because of it, I never had to count all the stitches on my needles. I never counted rows because the lace pattern was so simple that I could always tell where I was in the repeat. I’m really not that smart. Every even row was an all purl row and the last two rows of the pattern were the same as the two before it.

On my next go at this pattern, I’ll probably do nothing at all different except use the color that I have more of as color 1, 3, and 5 (the “outside” colors I like to think of it as) so that I can finish all of the rows. I’ll also cast off on larger needles, and I may even try the picot cast off suggested by one of the ladies in the Charlotte KAL.

Previous posts about this project:
I’m not the only one… on 8/19/2005
A good weekend on 8/22/2005
Eek! IN damn spot… on 8/25/2005
Confessions of a lazy knitter on 9/15/2005
Weekend knitting on 9/19/2005
Back in the Saddle on 9/23/2005

Friday, September 23, 2005

Back in the Saddle

After yesterday’s rant about spazzing by not swatching beforehand so I wouldn’t make things too big, I think I may have spazzed again. So you know in high school where they were telling you about designing an experiment and they told you to have a control and only vary one item at a time against the control so you could see the effects of that one variant? Yeah, well despite majoring in Chemistry in college, I decided to completely ignore my education and just spaz.

How so? Well, I decided that the nature of the fabric was not stretchy, so I’d size the whole garment to zero ease to get the sleek look envisioned by the designer and achieved by more than a few knitters out there who are apparently less of a spaz than I am. Oh yeah, and then on top of that, I’d downsize a needle and block to the correct dimensions. That would be not one, but two modifications affecting size at once.

I’m wondering if that was a good idea after all because now I’m looking at my progress through the waist decrease section and wondering what small child is going to fit into this t-shirt. I do still think it’ll block to my body measurements (wishful thinking?), but I’m sort of wondering whether I’ll have to wear a corset and refuse to eat in order to wear this shirt.

You should be proud of me however. I didn’t spaz in the middle of my spazzing today. I was having second thoughts about making a garment to my exact measurements. So I started to tink back. Then I thought, to hell with it. If I’m going to overcompensate, I might as well go overboard and drown in it.

On other project news, I pinned Charlotte out last night to block. I learned a great lesson about blocking as this is my first lace blocking project. In case you need to block out a lace triangular shawl, it’s a bad idea to block one side and then the other. Better to block from the middle out. In this case, I’ll probably block from the middle neck and then open up the lace in triangular sections towards the edges.

Something else I learned from this, I should have bumped up a couple of needle sizes to bind off extra loosely. I thought I had bound off loosely, but apparently not enough. As I tried to block out my triangular shawl last night, I noted that the not loose enough bind off was preventing me from getting a nice point at the middle. Oh well, next time.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Just once...

… I’d like to just follow a pattern, get the right gauge and have a beautiful garment that fits without some major disaster.

So here are some before and after pictures of last night’s knitting effort:

No, they’re not in the wrong order. I assure you. And the progress bar on the left that used to say 25% but now says 2%? Also correct. I just want to point out that those balls of varying sizes on the right? Yeah, that’s one hank of yarn. That I didn't cut. Can we curse Elsebeth Lavold right now for distributing hanks of yarn with multiple knots in them?

Back to the disaster. So energized by a couple of comments that indeed, the wonky gauge thing probably wouldn’t be all that noticeable, I pushed on. I was initially skeptical about the measurements written into the pattern. I didn't think they could possibly achieve the results I was hoping for and the designer had planned. So I took the liberty of taking out an additional 2” in the waist than what the pattern called for, but it was still 4” of ease with respect to my actual waist measurements.

I pressed on believing in the designer.

I decided against working the top in 3 sections when I got to the beginning of the neck shaping which would have yielded a 1.5” seam to sew up later. I decided that if I was going to ignore the designer’s instructions, I should place a lifeline. That's the white line in the picture above. What I didn’t know, was that I should have placed one at the beginning, but I digress.

I got as far as the above picture and because I was so skeptical, I decided to try it on, finally. Yeah, this is where the disaster hits. That wonky gauge that didn’t look all that different in the picture and in person makes a world of difference in fit. Plus the 4” ease in the waist was not working with me here to give a svelte fitted garment that the designer had intended. I pulled out handfuls of extra fabric around my lower back.

So yet again, I frogged. Sigh. It may sound like I'm mad at the designer, but actually I'm pissed off at myself for making such a bad yarn substitution. I think in a yarn that has the properties the designer intended, I wouldn't have these issues.

When will I learn to anticipate these things? I mean, I tugged on the Silky Wool when I first got it and noted that it didn’t stretch that much. Jenna had warned against using anything like 100% cotton that wouldn’t stretch much or else you wouldn’t achieve the desired effect. But I thought, apparently errantly, that cotton and silk are both pretty non-stretchy, but the wool/cotton blend called for in the pattern had a higher percentage of cotton than the silky wool had of silk, so I should be fine, right?

No. I should have realized it when I swatched. I should have realized that my gauge would be affected by the nubbiness of the yarn and that I’d need more tension than normal. I should have realized that the fabric doesn’t stretch much, so there will have to be some adjustments made. Swatch swatch swatch! Maybe if I repeat it to myself, next time I’ll listen.

But I still think that Hopeful will work in Silky Wool. You’re laughing at me now, but I have admitted already that I’m stubborn, so I’m ignoring you. I am fully believing that if Tivoli can fit me in 100% cotton, then this wool silk blend will fit too. With a few adjustments...

I’m downsizing significantly through the hip as the top is cropped a bit and my hips just aren’t that big where the top ends. I’m also working with 0 ease through the bust, waist and hips. I saw on a Knitty article that a woman swatched until she met gauge, and then went down a needle size so that she could block the piece to the correct measurements when she was done. I guess you can’t block a piece smaller…

Something else I randomly learned: if you insert a lifeline, make sure the lifeline is much smaller in diameter than the working yarn. Otherwise, you'll get a noticeable line where you had inserted it. I'm sure that it would block out mostly, but I don't want to take that chance in the future...

A positive way of looking at this though... I do swatch on every garment. I just swatch full sized.

Anyway, I’m now on row 7 after the eyelet row. I’m too depressed to show you pictures of my current progress. Sorry for the ranting, but I just needed to get that off my chest. Now off to find some chocolate...

Navigating the FOs

So I know most people don’t pay much attention to my sidebar, but I’ve made a slight change to it. I added a link to a “directory” for lack of a better word that shows all of the finished objects I’ve written up in one place with links to the summary posts. I’ve also gone back and edited the summary posts to include a listing of any previous posts that discuss that project. It’s my uber-manual workaround to the fact that Blogger doesn’t have the Category functionality, but I think it’s a little more organized that way.

What do y’all think?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Silky Wool

So I'm having mixed feelings about the Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool. It works up into a beautiful tweedy fabric that seems to have pretty good drape and is much softer than you'd expect it to be from just touching the hanks. But it's a royal PAIN to work with!

Let me see if I can explain: the heathered appearance of the yarn comes from the little flicks of what I assume to be white silk that is attached to the wool base. It's sort of spun in, but it's certainly not even. So when you're knitting with it, there's lots of extra "catch". I'm not a tight knitter, so when I first started working with it, the fabric looked like I had knit it on needles 2 sizes too large. I realized that the nubs were catching on the loops so that normal tension would not take out the extra yarn automatically when inserting my needle into the next stitch. I have to actually PULL the extra yarn out being careful not to pull too much so that it's overly tight. Now the fabric behaves more like it should. This is even more of a problem around decreases, or at least mine anyway, as it looks like the decreased stitches are creating gaping holes! I'm hoping that blocking will even out the stitches a bit.

As a side note, I discovered this 11 rounds into Hopeful and initially looked at it and decided that the difference wasn't really that noticeable. The gauge did change from 20 sts x 24 rows to 20 sts x 28 rows per 4x4" square. I had to recalculate my waist shaping, but I didn't want to rip out entirely. Does anyone else think this looks weird enough to rip out?

Anyway, I'm certainly going to continue on with Hopeful in Silky Wool, but I'll just have to pay closer attention to my tension, especially around shaping areas. I couldn't find much information about this yarn out there, and I actually purchased it sight unseen since it sounded like such a great idea and it was a good value. Did anyone else have a similar experience with this yarn?

EDIT: I couldn't get blogger to upload images last night (I hate blogger!) so I continued on. I finished my first ball of silky wool, and my oh my is the yardage good. I'm 1.5 rounds shy of my last waist increase. I know it's not an exciting picture, but here is progress with one ball of yarn.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

You know you're obsessive when...

I've come to the decision that I'm an obsessive knitter. I realized this a few weekends ago when I was shopping at Express and instead of just looking at a sweater and trying it on to see if it fit, I started making plans for it. Not wearing out plans, mind you, but rather I was scheming. I got ridiculously excited when I saw that the content was something like 40% merino, 20% mohair, 20% microfiber, 10% nylon, and 10% cashmere for $49. I thought, fantastic! I probably can't get enough yarn for a long sleeved sweater for that price in what looks to be about DK or sport weight, and the seams look good enough to recycle. Oh yeah, and it's pretty cute too! I could just wear it, and then when I'm sick of it, use the yarn for something else. Just imagine, a wearable stash!

Then it got to be pretty bad last week when I realized that I was staring at some poor woman's chest during a lunch meeting. I hope it wasn't too creepy, but I was fixated on the cable pattern on her sweater and wondering if that would be a better idea for Spirit of Blaze. I guess inspiration comes from all kinds of places.

Then again last night, DF and I were at Wine Expo picking out low-alcohol ciders for me and big cabernets for him and I saw a woman come in wearing an "I can make that!" sweater. I started planning in my head: basic V-neck set-in sleeve pattern, pick up stitches around the collar for a cross-over neck and add a few cables here and there using silk/mohair on size 6 needles. That even looks like Drab Kid Silk Haze...

Yes, I need therapy.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Weekend knitting

I hate blogger. I was just about ready to publish a post, and it ate my post. Sounds like the dog ate my homework excuse, but really, it did!

Anyway, here's what I think I wrote...

DF and I road tripped again this weekend, so this was the perfect opportunity to finish off CW completely under the guise of keeping DF company. On the drive up of course, DF wondered, what does DF stand for? I told him, Dear Fiancee of course! What did you think it meant? Well, Dumb F*** was what came to mind. Well, let's see if this works. On one hand, it can mean, Oh isn't my DF fabulous! He paints my toes, feeds me ice cream in bed, and is just absolutely dreamy! On the other hand, it can totally mean, I can't believe DF left 20 piles of last week's mail on every horizontal surface in the house, AGAIN! What an absolutely perfect acronym. Different meanings, but absolutley clear in context!

Oh, back to the knitting story. I did finish CW finally. If you've been watching the progress bars, you'll see that I made it 100%, but why not just take the progress bar off entirely? Well, neither BO or CW have been blocked, and I refuse to take a FO picture and write up a summary unless they're blocked. So the progress bars remain until I get around to blocking. Hopefully, that will be soon. Anyway, here it is in its full UNBLOCKED glory!

I did wrestle with binding off CW last night. I ran out of yarn before I could finish the last 3 rows of the last lace repeat. So I actually bound off early. Here's the closeup of the bound off edge. Hopefully it'll still look okay with blocking... Anyway, lesson to be learned here is that if you know that the pattern takes 600 yards of yarn and you have 300 yards of one color and many yards more of another, it's probably wise to use the color that you have more of for the sections that you expect will take more yarn. You know, apply common sense for once, right?

So you know how I argued about the logic of starting Spirit of Blaze (Thanks Chris for the apt name!) Well, that was before I started making mods again to the design. I decided that the all-over rib and cable pattern would be difficult to work into the raglan decreases neatly without the cables coming "undone" or rather unworked. I thought it looked okay, but not great. So I'm thinking about some other desgin.

But what that DOES mean is that I needed to start something that I already had the pattern and the yarn for. Since my Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool ($45 on ebay for a whole pack!) came in late last week, I could start on Hopeful! I did manage to cast on, but that was about it. Wow, 160 sts of DK weight yarn in labelled gauge looks tiny! I did get to knit a few rounds at the doctor's office this morning. What fun! Specula and stirrups! Why can't I start every week this way?

Anyway, you can see that I've already included a modification to this pattern. Marnie MacLean on the Hopeful Knitalong (which I swear I'm joining soon!) posted her finished Hopeful a few days ago. She even posted a how-to on the picot hem modification on her blog. Since hers was so beautiful and I didn't really like the ribbed hem on the original, I decided to give the easy mod a go. That eyelet round in the picture above is the turning row for the hem, and below is the closeup of what the picot edge will look like when it's turned.

Oh and back to the original road trip story. DF and I took the 4 hour car ride up to Bishop despite gas prices topping $3 the entire way for our inaugural bouldering trip together for this season . Yet again, I didn't manage to send anything, but I do have hopes of making progress on Action Figure (V6) and finishing Serengeti (V5), both problems at the Happy Boulders, this year. If we ever remember to take pictures while we're on these trips, I'll post some here. But this picture on Serengeti from last year will have to suffice until we get more!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Confessions of a Lazy Knitter

So I ran into some issues yesterday. The DF was casting on his 3rd project (French Market Bag) last night, so I was intermittently giving him tips, telling him he does it all wrong, and otherwise scrutinizing his every move.

Side note: DF finished knitting his second project earlier this week and it's just waiting to be felted. I'm still impressed with his quick progress: on that project he learned to provisionally cast on, cast off and cast on in the middle of the round, graft together with Kitchener Stitch, pick up stitches, and decrease in new ways (SSK, K3Tog, and Slip 1, K2Tog, PSSO). I feel like a soccer mom talking about her kids' school projects.

Back to the story. As I was heckling him, I decided to work in my fifth color on Charlotte. Karma's a bitch. Laughing at other people will come back to bite you in the butt. I finished the row and turned the work around to purl back. Lo and behold, after the half-way mark I noticed something wasn't right. Careful inspection showed I had shifted everything over by one stitch. For those not intimate with the Charlotte pattern, the knit stitch between the two decreases should be centered exactly over the point you see a couple of rows down. But it's not. It's one stitch to the left. I realized that I had added in one knit stitch in this pattern repeat at the beginning of the repeat instead of at the end. Doh!

Which wouldn't be so bad, and perhaps I could live with it if it were just one repeat. But it was more like 8. It was the entire section up to the white stitch marker. Sigh. I think that would definitely show up. But I really didn't want to rip back a whole row to fix it. Yes, I'm THAT lazy. Then I slapped my head and realized it was just the row beneath where I was currently, and I could just tink from there.

I dropped the working yarn and turned the work around. I started tinking back the section as if I had just knit it placing the tinked stitches on my left needle and creating a large loop of unworked yarn. The yarn I was using to purl back is coming out the left side of the picture. The last stitch I had purled on my current row is the blue one just to the right of the stitch marker. The pink stitches on the left needle are therefore stitches from 2 rows below the purl row I'm supposed to be working.

At any rate, I held the big loop of yarn as if it were my working yarn (see left) and knit back in the correct pattern until I got to my last purled stitch. I think it worked just fine. I guess I could have tinked all 8 sections that I screwed up and then use the large loop to knit back to where I left off, but somehow, I felt better tinking and correcting in sections.

Anyway, here's a close up of the fixed section.

Frustration averted, I called it quits. Yes, indeed, I managed to get a whopping TWO rows of knitting done. Since I haven't posted any progress pics on this project in a while, here it is. It's getting to the size where I can't photograph it on my desk anymore. I have to put it on the floor and stand over it to get the whole thing in frame. You can't tell, but it measures about 20" from the center of the neck edge to the current row.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Is this a Blaze?

Just when you thought my spazzing days were over...

I mean, I managed to knit an entire project by following the directions completely and not making random changes without thinking first. I finished knitting Branching Out last night, but it still needs to be blocked. I couldn't stand it anymore so despite the fact that I still had yarn left, I gave up on the last 2 repeats that the pattern said I should have been able to get out of the Douceur et Soie and just bound off. My eyes were just itching too much. Anyway, I had been pulling at the lace to open it up the entire time I was knitting, so I'm not sure how much of a difference blocking will make. Now all I have to do is find some sort of surface to block it on. But anyway, here it is. Yes, I know, it's so long, you can't even see the end of it in the picture, but I can tell you it goes on to the end of my 7' couch.

And the closeup of the leaf pattern. I'll do an official FO entry once it's blocked.

But my point being, I now know that I AM capable of following instructions while knitting. It's just that I usually choose to only VAGUELY follow instructions.

For example, I've been eyeing Blaze for quite some time now. The softness of the angora and the seamless design... I just had to do it for my next project. So I looked at the yarn for it, Indulgence, and wondered if I could substitute something else a little less expensive. WEBS had Berrocco Pleasure and it was on half price sale, and if I got $60 worth of yarn, then they'd take an additional 20% off! Easily making this a <$40 sweater. Sure, the gauge was a bit heavier than Indulgence, but what the heck, I knit tightly at times and I can always play with the needle size to meet gauge. So in my cart it went and not too long later, it was in my hands.

Now that Ryan's allowed me only TWO WIPs at a time plus a mini project of under 110 yards, I have to choose wisely. I also purchased the yarn for Hopeful and was debating about whether to start this Hopeful or Blaze first. It was pretty clear that with other competing projects, a sweater for myself would probably be finished sometime in mid-winter and the next would be sometime next summer. Meaning that longs leeves first would probably make more sense.

So I started to swatch for Blaze. I could meet gauge, but I didn't like it at all. The zigzag design is way more effort into row counting than I would want to put forth, and it's on a background of mostly reverse stockinette. Don't like it. So I thought, hmm, I can just use a different stitch pattern. So I perused BW's Treasury of Knitting Patterns and found a mock-cable stitch that doesn't require a cable needle and doesn't require me to drop a stitch, hoping that I'll be able to pick it up later without it dropping down a row or 4. After trying a couple of variations, I settled on this. The picture is more grey than purple, but in real life, it's more purple than grey. I have to figure out how to photograph color better.

Great. Now I have a stitch pattern that I like, all I have to do now is just insert that into Jenna's instructions for Blaze and all of the work is done for me. It's still Blaze, just a variation, right?

Right, except that I realized that I didn't like the seamless yoke construction of the sweater because they can be a bit roomy in the yoke and I've heard people complain that it slides off their shoulder. Okay, so I'll just change it up a bit and make it a raglan. Oh, and the elbow length sleeves just don't seem to suit me, so I'll make them longer, more like 3/4 length. And my gauge is a bit off, more like 20 sts/4", so I'll just recalculate using my gauge. And my stitch pattern is a 9 stitch repeat, not 6 stitches, so I'll have to figure out my increases so I have the right number of stitches for joining the sleeves to the body and still be able to get my arms through. And of course I'm panicking because I still have 7 balls of yarn, but now I have a slightly different sweater. I'm hoping that by cropping the sweater a bit and decreasing stitches through the yoke, that will give me enough yarn for the extra length in the sleeves. And I'm counting on the bigger gauge to save me.

So now, I'm making a Blaze with a different stitch pattern at a different gauge with different sleeves and a different yoke construction. Does this qualify as Blaze at all?

Sunday, September 11, 2005

I'm it

Okay, it's unusual for me to write a post that's basically all about me, so this will be new and different. I got tagged for a meme by Chrissy, so here goes. By the way, what's a meme?

Ten Years Ago
hmm, I was working in a lab at my college in Houston learning all kinds of cool stuff like running a silica gel column and doing reductions of aromatics with sodium (I say that sarcastically, but they do make very pretty colors). I was taking the MCAT to leave my option for medical school open, though admittedly, it was only a halfhearted endeavor. In true spaz fashion, I ended up pissed at myself for not completing the first section, even if it were to guess C for all of the blanks because then I couldn't get a double digit score in that section. Way too competitive with myself...

Five Years Ago
Sick and tired of being a bench chemist that blows up her co-workers and living in the suburban sprawl, I packed my bags and left NJ for Boston. I racked up a couple of publications that year working for an academic think tank for lack of a better word, but felt like I was going nowhere.

One year ago
I had been working for my current employer for about a year and enjoying the non-stressful workload while feeling that my work has some benefit to society. After meeting less than a year prior and dating long distance for most of it, Ryan and I packed my bags again to leave the bitter cold winters for LA. My company was nice enough to let me work remotely, so I've been grateful to them for their flexibility. Oh yeah, and I started knitting in November 2004.

Five Snacks
1. Funyuns
2. Pizza Rolls
3. Gummi Bears
4. Molasses chews
5. Jalapeno chips (can you tell I'm a junkfood junkie?)

Five songs I know all the words to
1. Oh L'Amour by Erasure
2. I Melt with you by Modern English
3. Sweet Child of Mine by Guns 'n Roses
4. They Can't Take that Away from Me
5. Star Spangled Banner

Five things I would do with $100 million
1. Quit my job
2. Bring my closest friends on vacation to Australia
3. Buy a house
4. Make sure my family is taken care of
5. Open up a yarn store and try my hand at designing my own kntis

Five places to run away to
1. Anywhere as long as Ryan comes
2. Alaska (only in the summer)
3. Japan
4. New Zealand
5. Tahiti

Five things I would never wear
1. Engineering plaid
2. Gwen Stefani's outfits
3. an outfit that could be traded in for a car
4. burlap
5. MC Hammer pants

Five favorite TV shows
1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
2. Friends
3. Sex and the City
4. those redecorating shows
5. those cooking shows

Five biggest joys
1. hiccup laughter
2. geekiness
3. people with passion
4. sleeping in
5. finishing something and being proud of it

Five people to pass this on to
Umm, Chrissy was kind enough to pass this along to all the people who normally read my blog and all my webring neighbors have been tagged by the person who tagged Chrissy or the people Chrissy tagged (starting to think there's some incestuousness going on here), so I'll go out myself to people I blogstalk...
1. Jessica - My California KnitBlog neighbor, newly published in Fall '05 Knitty
2. Winnie - she makes really cool stuff, and definitely has a designer in her
3. Karen - a fellow backwards purler
4. Kim - a fellow Californian I'd randomly come across from the Knitty Boards
5. Lizzi - I'm hoping to follow her progress on Arisaig since she's using the yarn I hope to use!

Whew! I don't normally do forwards, so I must like Chrissy!

Friday, September 09, 2005

For Chrissy

This is just a quick post for Chrissy as I read her blog regularly. And I do mean REGULARLY. As in, I should be doing work right now, but I'm reading her blog. Today's post is about the Fall IK mini-poncho pattern. Anyway, since I happened to have some Andean Silk in Lettuce left over from another project, I had to get out the needles and try it out. Here's what I found.

I cast on 20 stitches on size 7 needles and worked a few rows. After being retarded and not bringing the yarn from the front to the back OVER the needle between the first slipped stitch and the next knit stitch at the beginning of the row and wondering why I was losing stitches every row, I ripped back, and got it right. Here's a few rows of the purse stitch:

And a close up of the stitch pattern:

I think that the gauge is supposed to be measured after stretching out the lace as I'm sure will eventually happen with blocking. But as it were, I'm not sure how to count my stitches here. Since the yarn over and purl stitches are so close to each other, I decided to measure the length between the first yarn over and the yarn over 10 stitches away. As you can see, my selvedge stitches really bunched up the knitting on the edges, so I decided to check my gauge away from the edges of the sample. But basically, it looks like the stitch pattern really expands if you give it a tug, and the stated gauge in the pattern looks about right +/- one needle size. The stitch pattern is beautiful though once you open it up, and I can see why Chrissy wants to make a whole poncho out of it!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Miss Moneypenny

Ok, I must be motivationally challenged. I didn't work on my Christmas gifts yet again because I couldn't help but make an old fashioned moneybag to go with my Buttonhole Bag. Mostly, I think it's because I can't figure out how to knit a full blown wallet with credit card slots and a change purse, so I just gave up on that. Instead, taking my cue from Karen, I decided that a simple drawstring top pouch would work just fine.

Pattern: my first foray into non-pattern land!
Materials: Cascade Pastaza (50% llama, 50% wool, 132 yards) leftovers in color 1001. Size US10 29" circular needles.
Gauge: 17 sts to 4" in stockinette, 23 sts to 4" in cable pattern.
Finished size: 6.5" tall and 4.5" wide.

Started: September 5, 2005
Finished: September 6, 2005

CO 36 sts. Using Magic Loop method, pm and join sts being careful not to twist. Knit 6 rounds. On next round (eyelet row), *ssk, yo* to end of round. Knit 3 rounds. On next round, increase 12 sts evenly around (48 sts). Knit 3 rounds. On next round (cable round), *cable 6 right, cable 6 left* repeat to end. Knit 7 rounds. Repeat last 8 rounds 3x. Work a cable round. Knit 3 rounds. On next round, decrease 12 sts evenly around (36 sts). Break yarn leaving long tail to graft stitches together by Kitchener stitch. Work 3 st I-cord to desired length and feed through eyelet row. Weave in all ends and block.

I discovered a few things about knitting on the fly. Again, I discovered that thinking a bit before you knit saves a lot of extra work. I do wish I were as creative as Grumperina about fixing my knits. She just posted a step by step on grafting in a new piece to fix a mistake she made at the very bottom of her project that prevented her from having to frog the entire side. Oh I wish to be that technical and inventive of a knitter someday!

Anyway, things I learned:

  • Cable rows should be spaced at least a few rows away from any other rows with texture in them. The texture can be obscured by the puckering of the cables if placed too close to that row. I made the mistake of knitting only one row after the eyelet row and working the cable row immediately after. Yeah. The eyelets disappeared into the cables rendering them non-functional. Out it went.
  • All-over cables significantly decrease the width of your piece. If you're combining cables with any other stitch pattern, make sure you swatch in both patterns. You'll have to increase and decrease accordingly for sections with different stitch patterns. I didn't swatch. I was just merrily knitting along assuming the gauge on the label would be somewhere close to what I'd get. Then I spied this cable pattern in Barbara Walker's Treasury of Knitting Patterns, and decided to give it a go. My pouch ended up able to hold little more than a roll of quarters. Out it went.
  • Magic Loop is da bomb! Okay, I sound really dumb saying that, kinda like I sound when using the word "a'ight" but whatever. Magic loop takes a little bit of getting used to, and it's probably not as fast as circular knitting where your stitches actually make it all the way around your cable since you're constantly adjusting stitches for Magic Loop. But it's a whole lot better than DPNs any day of the week and twice on Tuesdays. That's my magic loop in action.
  • If you increase a lot, you should probably decrease them back out if you want to start and end with a similar width. I forgot about that and just grafted my pouch closed. After inspecting my beautifully seamless bottom, I discovered that said bottom was about 2 inches wider than the opening of the pouch. Not terrible, but I was hoping for a more rectangular shape. Out it went. Let me tell you undoing kitchener is a bitch. I don't recommend it.

Bottom line: I love seamless projects. I've probably already mentioned how much I don't seam. I'm definitely using Magic Loop when I have to do sleeves and baby hats and socks from now on!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Happy day after Labor Day

Okay, I don't get this view from my apartment, but I'm glad somebody does... This is how I spent my Labor Day.

But here's my question. The birds are flying south. Is it winter already and I didn't notice because I live in LA? How much warmer do they want it?

Buttonhole bag

I got sidetracked by a quickie...

Pattern: Buttonhole bag by MasonDixon knitting
Materials: Cascade Pastaza (50% llama, 50% wool, 132 yards) 1 skein each of colors 1001 and 1006. Size 15 Denise interchangeables.
Gauge: 10 sts and 14 rows = 4x4" before felting
Finished size: 13.5" wide, 10" tall when laid flat

Started: September 2, 2005
Frogged: September 3, 2005
Finished: September 4, 2005

Pattern followed as written with the following clarifications and modifications. I did indeed hold two strands together throughout as the pattern stated, but I don't think Pastaza is nearly as bulky as Lamb's Pride Bulky. Started with contrast color and continued with it until the last increase row. Added two rows of main color at the widest part and inserted one row between decrease rows for a less oval shape. Changed back to contrast color at 2nd row of knitting straight after handle shaping and added one row for handles before bind off row. Instead of binding off, I cast on 3 stitches, and added an applied I-cord around the top. I had nearly identical amounts of yarn left over, which amounted to almost nothing. Yay for yarn efficiency!

My first felting experience! I was very excited to try my hand at felting since Ryan did the Man Knitting contest. And after buying all that yarn... well I had to put down the Christmas presents and start something new. It was really weird not working with sock weight yarn all of the sudden.

Anyway, after reading the posts about other people's buttonhole bags, I was determined not to use 3 skeins of bulky weight yarn as the original pattern had suggested. So gosh darn it if I could make the bag as big as possible without opening up my 3rd skein.

Here is a lesson in thinking before you alter a pattern. Thinking can often prevent unnecessary frogging. Who'd a thought??? Anyway, Ryan points out to me afterwards that it's silly to think that if you have the same yardage as is prescribed in the original pattern and the designer says, yes, you could do this with just two balls, as long as you have a little extra in another color leftover from another project, it's probably a bad idea to add 4 extra stitches in width from the beginning given the gauge of 2.5 sts/in. It just didn't occur to me. So I went my merry way and said, oh, as long as I'm going to be increasing the overall width, I think I'll increase the height as well to preserve the overall proportions of the bag. I won't take the designer's advice on where to insert extra rows for heigh, but rather I'll insert them in the middle of the increases. It'll all work out in the end. Well, I ran out of the peach color somewhere in the middle of the bag, and the bag ended up looking like a giant V.

So you'd think that as long as I was frogging due to shortage of yarn, I'd rethink the alteration of width. Yeah. Not so much. Being the stubbon one that I am and not wanting to pick up stitches again, I frogged back to the base and started over with the increase rounds. I STILL ran out of yarn before the handles. Yeah. Big surprise.

So I frogged for a second time, this time, all the way out. I made my modifications as I mentioned above, and thankfully, didn't have to frog a third time.

Oh the magic of felting. This thing really does have the appearance of a yeti! There was fur all over the place, as you may be able to tell if you look at the couch in the big picture above. And felting by hand is a massive chore that I do not wish on anyone. Still, it came out even, and in the end did shrink more vertically than horizontally. Pre-felted measurements were 15" wide and 11.5" tall.

All in all, I recommend the Buttonhole bag as a first bag and felting project. It's a fast knit (assuming you don't make random changes without thinking) and none of the techniques used are particularly difficult. I may want to add something to the bottom to give it a bit more support so the bottom doesn't sag when you pick it up, and I may add a flap with a snap to close off the top without pulling the sides themselves in and ruining the cute shape.

Previous posts about this project:
Soowee! on 9/2/2005

Friday, September 02, 2005


I finished a UFO!!!

Pattern: Booties from Leisure Arts Leaflet 2984
Materials: Lion Brand Microspun (100% microfiber acrylic, 168 yds) in French Vanilla. Much less than 1 ball. Size US3 needles.
Gauge: 7.25 sts/in in twisted stockinette
Finished size: 3.75" long, 2.25" wide, 3.25" tall

Started: April 23, 2005
Finished knitting: April 30, 2005
Finished: September 1, 2005

In my Short Bus post, I discovered that I purl all wrong. This is one of my recent projects where I wanted to cry because of it. I was just fine with the garter stitch sole, but working on size 3 needles on yarn that WILL NOT stay together on stitches that are twisted so you can't poke your needle through was just plain painful. The picture on the left is what your stockinette ends up looking like when you twist all of your purls. If you find your stockinette looking like this and it wasn't intentional, seek help. Now. You'll thank me later.

On the upside, I think the twisted stockinette adds an element of character to an otherwise boring looking pair of booties. I didn't want to use a novelty yarn because they'd be hard to care for. I decided on off-white because the couple didn't know the gender of their child and I thought it the safest option.

I did learn how to apropriately seam. I used the mattress stitch for the first time on these boots, and if you've never done it, I highly recommend using the site's video about mattress stitch.

Now all I have to do is get around to finding an address for her and going to the post office. Maybe by Christmas the little one will have something new for his/her feet...

Previous posts about this project:
UFO's are buzzing my head!


A little daily yarn porn:

Yup, we went hogwild on the felting yarn for bags. Clockwise from top left:
Cascade 220 from for the Mitered Square bag in Bags: A Knitter's Dozen. I'll also need some of the red leftovers from Ryan's beer cozy.
Noro Kureyon (color 146) from for a climbing tank for Ryan yet to be designed OR a Sophie bag and a French Market Bag
Noro Kureyon (color 150) from definitely for a FMB
Noro Kureyon (color 74) from for a Booga Bag
Cascade Pastaza from for a Buttonhole Bag

Yes. I know. I have a yarn problem. But I'm such a sucker for a good deal! We got the Cascade 220 and Pastaza for ~$5 each and the Kureyon for $5.40. That's 1250g of wool for $100!