Friday, April 28, 2006

Geez, finally!

The Twinset Plus
Pattern: loosely based on Shawl Collared Sweater by Debbie Bliss in Quick Baby Knits and Boat-Neck Sweater by Debbie Bliss in Baby Knits for Beginners
Materials: GGH Goa (50% cotton, 50% acrylic. 66 yards) in color 44, I call it salmon. About 4-4.5 balls each for sweaters and 1.5 balls for hat. Size US9 and US8 Addi circular needles.
Gauge: 3.5 sts/in
Finished size: 24" chest circumference, 12" long, 7" sleeve. Hat circumference ~21.5".

Started: March 27, 2006
Finished: April 27, 2006

Hmm, well there are too many modifications to get into detail, but the main point of departure on both sweaters was the gauge. The original pattern for the Shawl Collared Sweater called for super chunky yarn at a gauge of about 10 sts/4 in. The original pattern for the boatneck sweater called for a gauge of 18 sts/4 in. I fell smack in the middle for both sweaters, so I essentially just knit to the finished dimensions on the boat-neck sweater ignoring the stitch count. For the Shawl Collared-Sweater, the smallest size was way larger than I wanted, so I just cast on the same number of stitches and went with it. I changed the neck shaping on the shawl collared sweater for fear of a Sputnik sized baby head not fitting through the scaled down neck opening. I also knit on the collar instead of knitting it separately and sewing it on.

For the hat, I had no other designs on the lonely ball and change of leftover yarn, so I just decided that Mom needed something to slap on on the days when taking care of twins leaves her no time to do her hair (so what's my excuse today?). So I just used the same gauge as I had on the sweater and cast on an appropriate number of stitches for my head figuring I'm about average and went with it. When it looked like I was going to run out of yarn and the it covered most of my head, I started decreasing 6 sts every round. Thankfully, I had enough yarn to close it up and not be a ridiculously short length.

Well, it's been a saga what with the seaming and the poor yarn choice to start with, but I'll just leave it at this: I sure hope mom and babies like their new stuff.

I'm sorry for the less than inspired photo shoot... we were sort of in a hurry as DF's dad was about to leave and I wanted him to take the sweaters back to DF's cousin so she could have them when she gets home from the hospital. We did get it all done in just under the wire (I was furiously weaving in ends while DF and his dad were visiting), but at least I'm on time!

And how did that hat sneak in there? It was nothing but a lonely ball of yarn in my leftover yarn stash just last night! Hmm, I guess that's what happens when you're 2/3 of the way through Da Vinci Code and feel some guilt about what to do with your leftovers but don't want to tear yourself away from reading.

I don't know why, but I didn't really enjoy this project all that much. Maybe because I'm selfish and I knew that I wouldn't get to use it. Maybe because it was stockinette and dropped shoulders. Maybe it was the serviceable but less than exciting yarn. Eh. I'm hoping they like it though and at least I can move on.

Previous posts about this project:
a WIP or Two on 4/26/2006
Anybody want a toy sausage? on 3/29/2006
So much for being regular on 2/16/2006

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

a WIP or Two

Wow, such an overwhelming response on the last post, maybe I'll try including pictures in this one...

So DF called me the other day and asked me why I hadn't posted in a while. I said, well, probably because I didn't have anything to show. He says, what do you mean, you've got two sweaters finished and started another!?! As if to say, if that doesn't count for much, exactly how much knitting do you need, woman?

I gently reminded him that while I finished the knitting and seaming, they were waiting for the ends to be woven in. Guess who had volunteered to do it during one of my seaming fits? Yep, gotta love DF! Of course, he figures that at least this way he can say that he helped out when we send it along to his cousin who just had her babies yesterday.

So in an effort to keep you guys interested and admit to all of the ugliness that goes into my knitting, I hereby present to you the twinset 99% complete except for a few errant ends to weave in. Okay, maybe it's more than just a few...

And DF was correct in saying that I started another sweater. I did. The decision came during a fit on Sunday night during my FOURTH night of seaming these !$%^* sweaters. My mistake was assuming that since a dropped shoulder sweater is probably the easiest sweater possible to seam, it shouldn't be a big deal. Except if you're an idiot like me. I was just fine until the final seam on my final sweater. Somehow it was about 2 inches shorter in the front than on the back. In horror I thought that the one side of the front was shorter than the other and I'd have to rip out the collar that I had already attached, rip out the shoulder seam and add a few more rows, and then put the collar and shoulder seam back in to get back to where I was. I decided gifts should not be abused prior to giving and calmly put it down.

I needed something instant gratification for myself. Something without seams to mess up. Something like Blackberry. I even happened to pick up some Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Bulky that day. (c'mon... it was on sale for 40%, it's okay to stash enhance when it's a discontinued yarn on super sale, right?)

Eek. It's raglan, but it's still knit in 5 pieces. Why oh why do the finishing gods test me?

Screw that, it's a raglan. It can be done in one piece, darn it. And so I began. Here's what I have so far... the fronts and back done in one piece up to the armholes and two sleeves done two at a time in the round. We'll find out soon enough if this was a good idea. Here's hoping it doesn't turn into a saga like some other raglan cardigans I know...

Sorry for the weird color in the pictures. It's been pretty gray out lately and we all know my skillz at photography. I still wanted to show the detail on the cable and bobble despite the awful color. Anybody know if it's normal to have a giant hole in the stitch before you make a bobble?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A Tale of Two LYS

Text heavy ramblings ahead... be warned!

I'm probably one of the worst offenders when it comes to not supporting my LYS. The problem I end up with is that I don't usually find the yarn that I want at a price that I think is competitive with what I can find online. I know, this is going to make it harder for LYS owners to make a living, and then where would I go to fondle yarn IRL? So I should make a conscious effort to go and show my support. So, in keeping with this theme, I dedicate an entire post to my LYS.

Starting it off on a good theme, I had the chance to meet up with Knittin' Mom Chrissy, Sknitty Jillian, and Chewy Spaghetti Khris over the weekend. If you've been keeping up with Chrissy, she was in town to take her kids to Disneyland, support Bill in his relay marathon, and of course, meet up with some fellow knitbloggers. I'm late to the posting party and wasn't a very good blogger having left my camera at home, so go check out Chrissy, Khris and Jillian's posts for more details. I'll leave it at this: We didn't get into any accidents on the 110 this time, we did manage to take the scenic route to Unwind in Burbank (which apparently includes the wrong freeway), we all found out that Jillian would make an excellent LYS employee as we all ended up with yarn in the end, and knitbloggers in general must be more advanced knitters than the general population.

Both LYS we visited on Saturday were quite nice, so Jillian is really good at picking out good spots to take people on yarn crawls. Closer to me, I am a devotee of A Mano Yarn in Venice. They have a reasonable selection of yarn at good prices, all kinds of needles and cute buttons and bag handles to finish your kntiting projects, and LOTS of books and back issues of magazines for inspiration. Best of all, they have a very helpful staff that will let you fondle for as long as you want uninterrupted, but they also give great advice when you need it.

Maybe I should get down to why I gave this post its title. I told a story on Saturday about my LYS that people felt should be posted far and wide. Or at least as far as my little realm of readers. A couple of weeks ago, I was charged with finding yarn by my co-workers for a blanket that several of us were to give to another co-worker as a surprise. The recipient has a small child already so I set out to my LYS in search of something nice (it's a gift and we're splitting it 4 ways after all) but still reasonably easy to care for.

I walked into A Mano as my first stop and set forth my question: what would be good for a baby blanket if you want it to be easy care and fairly soft? The staff there suggested 5 different yarns that were all machine washable and dryable as long as you don't leave it in the dryer until it's beaten to death. I happily took pictures of several color schemes and was on my way.

I walked into another LYS that is actually closer to my house, but I tend not to go there very often because I've always had sticker shock when I set foot in the door. I wanted to give it another try in the off chance that they might have a better color selection. I set forth the same criteria and the response was, "Well, if your recipient truly appreciates hand knit gifts, then she won't mind hand washing the blanket." I pressed on saying that I'd really like to give her the option to just throw it in the washing machine for convenience. The clerk's response was, "If you really want easy care, then what you should get is acrylic. And we don't sell that here." Nevermind that two of the yarns that I was suggested at A Mano were on the shelves (for a dollar more a ball). She didn't quite say Please Leave, but she may as well have.

I decided to turn around the next day and go back to A Mano and spend $100 on yarn for one project.

Anyway, the point of the story is that I highly recommend A Mano as my favorite yarn shop on the west side of LA. If you're ever in Santa Monica or Venice, stop by there and say hi to the nice ladies!

And now for my gratuitous photo of the post. I present you with two squares for the baby blanket. Three left to go for me! Yes, I know, sort of boring looking at really large swatches, but it all has to start somewhere. I would show you the back, except that they look exactly the same.

BTW, the yarn I ended up choosing is Mission Falls 1824 wool. A Mano doesn't carry 1824 cotton, but I'm sure that I'd have thought about it if they did since it's supposed to be great stuff. The wool version has a very high squishy factor, in fact, I got a gauge closer to 1520 the first time because I thought the yarn was so elastic. After adjusting the tension, I was right on the labelled gauge with the recommended needle size. Nice fabric in the end, and machine washable and dryable, so I highly recommend it!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Candy Cane Hat

Remember how I thought DF's sweater was too tight across the chest and so I riiiiiipped back to the armpits? Well, I was so disgusted with the negative progress that I didn't pick up the sweater again until Sunday night. I wanted to watch some silly girly movies, so I rented Fever Pitch and Just Like Heaven* and sat down for some good mindless knitting time. Mindless is right. After a whole movie, I discovered that I had managed to put the raglan decreases right back in where I had previously ripped out. I didn't have the heart to rip out just yet, so instead...

Candy Cane Hat
Pattern: by Penny Kolb in Handknit Holidays
Materials: GGH Samoa (50% cotton/50% acrylic, 100 yds) in colors Barbie Pink and Espresso. half skein each. Size US8 16 inch Clover bamboo circular needles.
Gauge: 19 sts and 26 rounds = 4 inches
Finished size: 18.5 inches circumference, about 8" from cast on edge to crown.

Started: April 15, 2006
Finished: April 16, 2006

Cast on 90 sts instead and began decreasing for crown when I was panicking that I'd run out of yarn. Really, though. How many mods can you make to a stockinette stitch roll brim hat?

I was looking through my stash of yarn leftovers and decided that I could do something with that yarn from DL's bones hat. I weighed it and figured that I had a little bit more than one ball left. I'd seen people make hats out of one ball of Silk Garden, so I should be able to do the same with Samoa, right?

I picked this hat because I thought that the color work would help stretch my yarn as far as I could. I probably could have striped it as well, but that would require more weaving in ends than I'd want. I discovered that with Fair Isle, my gauge is tighter than my gauge swatch (in plain one color stockinette, *slap hands*) would say. Thankfully, I just wanted to use up my leftovers, size be damned!

I think the hat came out cute, if a little girly. Since it's easily too small for me or any other normal sized adult, I decided that it's definitely bound to be a gift for a friend's 3 year old daughter. Hopefully, her head isn't the size of Sputnik.

This post isn't picture heavy enough, so I'm taking a deep breath and showing you my floats. It's a good thing that there weren't that many yarn ends to weave in because I couldn't see much with all of the floats in the way! Kind of looks like a hypnosis wheel. Now if only you could rotate your head that way to get it spinning...

*Edited to add: I meant to comment on the movies. They were both enjoyable in that sappy sort of chick flick way. BUT, the standout in Just Like Heaven was the movie's eponymous opening theme. The original is by far my favorite song made in the 80's and to say that I like any remake of it is utterly amazing. But I LOVE it. Go check out Katie Melua's website for samples of her music. I sure will.

I'm sort of motion sick from the Vertigo picture above too.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Another one...

I'm on the bandwagon with the Wiki-meme.

After typing in birthday into Wikipedia, here are my 3's:

1948 - President Harry Truman signs the Marshall Plan which authorizes $5 billion in aid for 16 countries.
1968 - Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his "mountaintop" speech.
1996 - Suspected "Unabomber" Theodore Kaczynski is arrested at his Montana cabin.

1893 - Leslie Howard, English actor (d. 1943)
1924 - Doris Day, American actress
1968 - Sebastian Bach, Canadian musician (Skid Row)

33 - Jesus Christ, founder of Christianity (b. 8-2 BC [disputed])
1882 - Jesse James, American outlaw (b. 1847)
1998 - Rob Pilatus, American entertainer and criminal (Milli Vanilli) (b. 1965)

I think the most entertaining this about this meme is the summary that Wikipedia comes up with. I mean really, did they need to clarify "founder of Christianity"? And which part is disputed, the birth year (huh, I always thought it'd be 0 AD) or that he was the founder of Christianity? Oh yeah, and the Rob Pilatus one. I love that Criminal is one of the descriptors for him!

Monday, April 10, 2006

No knitting pictures here!

Random post today since I don't really have a lot of knitting content to speak of.

DF's zippered raglan: thanks for all of the reassuring comments about ripping back. I still haven't managed to pick up the sweater again as I'm still a bit depressed about it, but Chrissy's post yesterday reminded me of one of the other pictures from that photoshoot that I didn't use. I'm putting it in here since there were more than a couple of comments about how hot DF is (which I agree about). DF reads every comment on my blog and could barely fit through the door his head was so big thanks to his adoring fans. So for all of DF's fans, a picture for you.

*hiding* I love you, DF!

We went climbing this weekend again, and wouldn't you believe it, an actual picture was taken of me in front of the camera! Turns out some guy is writing a guide book for the Bishop, CA bouldering areas and was out this weekend getting photos for the book. Who knows... maybe I can get in the guidebook!

Knitty: I was so looking forward to the new issue. I even gasped for glee upon return yesterday, and went right to perusing all the patterns to find my next project. All I can say is: meh. The only thing that I may add to my to-do list is the new pair of socks by Cookie A. as a quick project. I still have Pomatamus to do, so we'll see how that goes.

Final note, I went on a yarn buying spree with some birthday cash from my parents. I picked up some Debbie Bliss Aran Tweed for the Blissful Jacket from the Fall 2005 IK. I just love winning auctions... Also, I'm thinking of buying some Rowanspun Aran in red for the Sunrise Circle Jacket by Kate Gilbert in the Spring 2006 IK. Anyone interested in splitting the bag with me? I'll have 6 balls (1200 meters) left over which is enough for the size 41" jacket.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Embossed Leaves Socks

Pattern: by Mona Schmidt in Interweave Knits Winter 2005/2006
Materials: Knitpicks Essential (75% wool/25% nylon. 231 yards) in color Grass (23695). Much less than 2 skeins - about 280 yards. 2 Size US1 (2.5 mm) Addi Turbo circulars.
Gauge: 8.5 sts/in in st st relaxed.
Finished size: 6.5 in circumference, 7.5 in from back of heel to toe relaxed (and unblocked *slap on the wrist*). Nice and snug on my 8" circumference, 9" long, size US women's 6 narrow feet.

Started: March 19, 2006
Finished: April 3, 2006

Followed pattern except I used a long tail cast on instead of tubular cast on since I didn't print out the tubular cast on directions. I also didn't meet gauge at all, but that's okay because my feet are smaller than the finished size in the pattern. I also only did 3 pattern repeats on the leg instead of 3.5 and I did a total of 3.5 pattern repeats on the foot instead of 4.

This was another nice lace motif to make for mindless knitting with beautiful results. This was my first attempt at a heel flap, and though I've never made socks for myself to have another heel type to compare the fit to, I think it fits just fine. I actually find the short row heel to be much easier to execute than picking up stitches on the side of the heel flap. I guess I'll just have to make another pair of socks for myself to see if the short row heel fits me better.

I also found that cutting the yarn after knitting the heel flap and before picking up stitches was a bit inconvenient. The next time I do a heel flap, I'll probably pick up sts on one side of the heel flap, knit around the instep sts and then finish picking up sts on the other side of the heel flap rather than cut the yarn. I hate weaving in ends unnecessarily, even if it's just 2 more. But for my first go at the heel flap and gusset, I thought I'd go ahead and try to actually follow the directions.

The toe is actually quite pretty. I wasn't sure if the extra work involved with this star/swirly shaped toe was worth it over a standard flat toe, but at least there was no kitchener involved!

I'll admit it, the socks are probably a touch too small, maybe by like 1/4 inch or so. But given that you had to end on a specific row to get the toe shaping to line up right, I'm okay with the guesstimate that I made. I actually like the fit since I'm pretty sure I won't have the bunching up in my shoes problem that I often have with athletic socks.

Oh yeah, and in case you were wondering how I guesstimated 280 yards used, I got a FOOD SCALE for my birthday. Pocket sized and perfect for estimating the amount of left over yarn. I think this means I have enough for some anklets...

Previous posts about this project:
Answers to burning questions on March 28, 2006

Monday, April 03, 2006

He's too sexy for his sweater...

So the latest in the saga of DF's zippered raglan. It's the project that won't end. I attached the sleeves how many weeks ago? and still, no FO picture yet. I decided to do a little finishing along the way and go ahead and graft my underarms while taking a break from the ~300 sts on my needles. So I proceeded to kitchener, and lo and behold, my fantastic grafting job:

What's up with the giant holes? Yes, DF is a man and therefore requires a bit of ventilation in the underarm area to keep from smelling too bad, but I was thinking pit zips would be more attractive than a gaping hole. Gotta fix that. So I tinked. And I remembered how much I hated tinking kitchener stitch.

This time around, I thought, well, maybe I'll just weave the yarn through the neighboring stitches before threading the first sts on my needle.

Voila! Pink underarms! Hmm, I have to figure out why it is that my sts seem to be out of alignment by half a stitch. Anyone know?

Well, I got a good way through the raglan decreases, and had DF try on his sweater. Yes, he can channel his inner Right Said Fred, but he'll still look ridiculous in this SKIN TIGHT sweater. He assured me that it'd be okay if I just keep going and block it within an inch of its life, so I finished the raglan decreases and got rerady to start on the collar. Second fitting made me realize this was ridiculouly tight across the shoulders and chest even assuming LOTS of blocking. I decided that Elizabeth Zimmerman's approach of having a couple of inches of even knitting after attaching the sleeves to the body made a whole lot more sense. RRRIIIIP! I won't even show you how much un-progress I made...

In other fronts... where's the Spring Knitty? I could use a little pick me up on my rainy Monday birthday.

Next up: a finished object that warrants an A!