Thursday, June 28, 2007

Can't wrap this

I'm such a child of the 80's. Now I have samples of Superfreak going through my head and images of a man wearing ginormous pants with a crotch down to THERE side stepping across my television screen. But there's a point here - I can't short row wrap and turn. For example:

My purple rain socks (again, what a nod to one of my lingering favorites artists from the 80's) are just past the heel turn. Being that I found just the right number of stitches to avoid any kind of pooling whatsoever, I wasn't keen on the idea of doing a bunch of increases for the gusset and ruining all that perfect distribution. So short row heel it was. But I've decided that no matter what I do, one side of the short row heel always looks a bit looser, wonkier than the other - in this picture it's on the right foot. Maybe I'm just anal, but I can see it, and it bothers me at least until I'm finished knitting.

Exhibit two: I had a marathon night listening to the Goblet of Fire and I made it through the shirt tail short rows on Sahara. I've always had trouble picking up wraps on the opposite side from when I originally wrapped, but it has never been more evident than on this piece. There's just way more holes than there should be. I may have to go back and rip out the hem and redo this. As it is, I forgot to change needle sizes on the border anyway, so I'm thinking that maybe the border will neaten up on the correct needle size.

Anyway, I leave you then with well wishes for the upcoming weekend (oh, it can't come soon enough... my DH comes home!) and progress pics on my only two remaining WIPs. I got sick of seeing zero progress on the Mason Dixon baby sweater and the Ram's Horn Jacket, so they're officially gone now. I will also go on record saying that I'm hoping that the neckline closes up a bit after putting the border on Sahara...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

An actual WIP

It's occurred to me that I've gotten away from showing any progress whatsoever on this blog, as if these projects just materialize out of thin air. Some have even commented on the speediness of these items. I have a very good explanation for that. I've been knitting A LOT. In the past 2.5 weeks, I've been on a plane for over 20 hours and sitting in airports for probably 6-8 more hours and then staying in a hotel room for several nights in a row. Of course I'll have my knitting to keep me busy, and so, yes, I make quite a bit of progress. Plus, DH is out of town, so I can indulge in the knit addiction when he's not around while listening to the Harry Potter audiobooks for the first time. I find them quite enjoyable!

Anyway, so I thought I'd actually show you something in progress. I cast on for Sahara last night in Plymouth Royal Bamboo. This is the first time I've tried bamboo before, and I'm liking it so far. It doesn't seem all that different from knitting with cotton except that it doesn't feel as dry. The shininess and cool to touch properties are quite enjoyable. And boy does this stuff DRAPE.

Of course, I hope that all of these things are good qualities for Sahara. So far, the instructions have been pretty basic. I was sort of surprised that there wasn't more shoulder, neck, and armhole shaping in a garment described as "pinpoint fit." But hey, if it turns out the same, I'm all for eliminating the fussiness! So here I am after joining the fronts to the back after the armhole shaping.

Lastly, thanks everyone for the postive feedback on my Coachella. I'm planning on wearing it later today, so here's hoping it holds up to a few hours of wear.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Pattern: Coachella by Fathom Harvill in Knitty Summer 2007
Materials: Knit One, Crochet Too Wick(53% Soy, 47% polypropylene. 120yd per 50g ball) 190g in Avocado. Size 7 and 9 Knitpicks Options.
Gauge: About 4.25 spi.
Finished size: 26" chest when laid flat

Started: June 20, 2007
Finished: June 23, 2007

I spaced out the waist increases to every 8 rows instead of every 4. I reversed the armhole shaping on the upper front so that it was k1, ssk, work to last 3 sts, k2tog, k1. I picked up stitches around the armhole (1 for every cast on or bound off st, and 3 for every 4 rows), worked 2 rows in twisted stockinette and bound of.

A quick and easy knit. Well, except if you count that I cast on for this in the next larger size at a smaller gauge (4.75 spi, slightly looser than the labelled gauge as the pattern suggests) and had to rip it out after deciding that it was just way too stiff. I was already at the point where the fronts and backs were rejoined.

The mod about the armhole finishing I thought was necessary because I tried this on without it and ended up feeling like I was a bit too exposed. Putting in a few rounds at the armhole helped to prevent the armholes from stretching out way too much and added a 0.25-0.5 inches extra coverage. So yes, I am wearing a racerback bra in this picture, and it seems to stay relatively put.

My only issue with this top is that in the smallest size, it appears that the front drape is just a little bit too much. I'm not sure how I would modify this at all, but I wonder if one could cast on a touch fewer stitches at the neckline and gradually increase to the correct number of stitches by the time you get part way through the armhole shaping.

I knit this up in Wick mostly because it was already in my stash. I had picked it up at a 75% off sale in Hollywood a couple of months back, so it was the bargain basement price of $8 for all their remaining Avocado balls. I had no idea what I was going to make with this, but I knew because of the polypro content that I wanted it to be a tank for those ridiculously hot days when the Santa Ana winds are blowing.

My thoughts on Wick: well, it's kind of stretchy, and it has a chained construction to it. So it feels like there's a thread or something wrapping the core and I was constantly snagging that thread. It didn't pull back into place, so if you're planning to use this yarn, I might suggest being careful not to stab the yarn, or use your blunter needles. I had a hard time maintaining gauge because of the slight stretchiness of the yarn, but most of it seemed to come out in the blocking. Which, I might add, for a yarn composed of absolutely nothing animal related, it smelled remarkably like a wet dog while taking a bath. Go figure.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Ten years ago...

Ten years ago, I had just graduated from college and was driving cross country to settle in to my first job in what I had affectionately referred to as the armpit of America. I was a synthetic organic chemist way back then, which basically meant that on my performance evaluation, if I hadn't blown anyone up that day, I was meeting expectations. Let's just say that I didn't always meet expectations.

This week, I was back in the armpit, commuting up and down Route 1 and marvelling at just how unwilling New Jersey drivers are at letting you in their lane even when you're signalling. I was struck by how how weird it was to be back in the same place starting a new job once again. Only this time, it was ten years later and Hong Kong wasn't in the midst of being handed back to the Chinese and I'm not in any particular danger of hurtling hot silicon oil and shards of glass at anyone.

Lest you worry, no, I'm not moving to the Garden State... I was just there for the training.

The point being that I started my new job this week! It's going well - or at least as well as one can expect when all you're talking about is the company vision and how to log in to your computer. But oh, how I missed the pizza. As much as I love the food in LA, I still haven't found pizza here that rivals the pizza at D'Italia's. Sigh.

Anyway, having travelled to the east coast two weeks in a row now, I have managed to get in quite a bit of knitting time what with 10 hour airport/airplane wait times each way. So, I cast on for Coachella earlier this week, ripped it out a third of the way through, and then cast on again on Wednesday and finished it today. Here it is blocking and I'll try to get a pic sometime soon when it's dried and I can find a bra to wear underneath it.

And since I haven't posted WIP pictures in about 30 thousand months, here's the texture stitch I had mentioned before for that hank of irresistible STR Purple Rain. Also, you may notice that there's no pooling of any sort at this sock's 68 stitch size... happy dance!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A bit o' pron

So apparently, it IS all about blogging more. As soon as I blogged about how much I really wanted my Ravelry account, I got my invitation to join. So. freaking. psyched. It's amazing of course that I'm actually posting because all I really want to do is surf Ravelry all night long and upload all of my projects and find people to stalk and be a general groupie. Anyway, if you're already on Ravelry, come find me and be my friend! I'm of course, the Knittingspaz.

So DH and I have been partaking of the Santa Monica Farmer's market the past two weekends after listening to a lot of the Good Food podcast. Something about shopping directly from the people who grow your food makes me feel that much better. Anyway, we've discovered Camarosa strawberries, and they are well worth the $2.50 per pint price tag. So YUM.

And after blogging 4 FO last week, I suddenly found myself without anything significant on the needles. So what's a yarn ho to do? Why go and check out the anniversary sale over at A Mano of course! I picked up an obscenely lovely hank of Socks that Rock in the Purple Rain colorway (at 25% off!) and started swatching over the weekend. I think I've found the perfect stitch pattern for variegated socks in the Vogue Stitchionary volume one. I already cast on, but decided to rip out the cuffs and start them toe-up so I can use up as much of this loveliness as I can.

And of course, since I promised to make DH sweat for my craft...

Not Quite Seamless Hybrid Shirt Yoke Sweater
Pattern: Based on recipe by Elizabeth Zimmerman in Knitting Without Tears
Materials: Fare Baruffa Settembre (100% wool. About 130yd per 50g ball) 375g in a navy/English tan heathered color - sorry, I don't have the ball band in front of me. Size 6 and 7 Addi Turbo needles.
Gauge: 5.25 spi on US6 in the round, 5 spi on US7 in the round, 4.75 spi on US7 flat, and 5 spi on US6 flat
Finished size: DH sized! about 42" chest

Started: April 29, 2007
Finished: June 8, 2007

Well, since EZ doesn't exactly see fit to tell you exactly what to do, I say the whole thing is a mod. Maybe even an original pattern!

This one was NOT a labor of love. In fact, I'd say that there was almost no drama at all in the knitting of this sweater. At the time that I purchased this yarn - at the Yarn Lady bag sale eons ago - I had already envisioned a polo shirt style. I then decided to add in the graduated ribbing at the side seams to fake side seam shaping and also emulate DH's favorite variable ribbed Capilene shirts. So before I started knitting, I had already sketched out what I wanted and used EZ's recipe as a guide and voila, a finished object.

The good: I like the shirt yoke back, the easy collar and split neck and the wonderful heathery hue.

The bad: the construction of the shoulders - think turning a heel - leaves a proportion of 2 rows at the saddle to 1 stitch for the front and back. That's way more rows per stitch than one normally would use if say picking up stitches, so the first time I knit the back neck according to EZ's instructions, it puckered like mad. I changed the back neck so that it was just a flap and then seamed this to the held stitches for the back. I know this doesn't really make sense, but if you really want to know, I'll draw you a diagram.

The take-home: Seamless sweaters have definite advantages - like weaving in the ends and calling it done after casting off. But seamed sweaters I find just lay better. If feels like you have more control over how the parts fit together even though I find the seaming process time-consuming and a bit of a pain in the ass. So for now, I like both. I can go either way. I guess that makes me bi-seam-ual.

OMG - sorry for the bad pun. I am most definitely my father's daughter.

Friday, June 08, 2007

FO Catch up part 2

In miscellaneous rants, I tried to sign up for the destash blog because frankly, our apartment is just not large enough to accomodate two people's passions for collecting. His: wine and whiskey. Hers: yarn, yarn, and more yarn. And then soon to be added... fabric! I've on the verge of catching the sewing bug, but as there are two small hurdles in my way, I've managed to resist the urge to start a fabric stash. Those small hurdles being 1. a sewing machine and 2. the ability to sew and actually, 3. the discretionary cash to blow on said stash. Pshah, I say! Small details for those who are truly obsessed. Now, where can I score some nice fabrics in the LA area?

OH yeah, back to the rant. They said that if I increase my posting then I could join because I'm just not a prolific enough blogger. I beg to differ. I just like to save it up and put it all in one big post. Like today's where I'll amaze and shock all of you with how much I have managed to keep as a surprise.

Before that though... I must say, WHERE'S MY RAVELRY ACCOUNT? Kate showed me the Ravelry website a month ago and I was all, holy CRAP this is the place for me. Myspace and the like just don't appeal to me, but a place where everyone talks about knitting, and a site that ORGANIZES all your knitting is right up my alley. But really, a month to wait for something so spectacular? I only wish they'd let non-members peruse, but not post or comment and whatev.

Finally, long overdue FO postings. I've been lazy about picture taking, so forgive the crappy pictures.

Eyelet Blouse by Mari Lynne Patrick
Pattern in Vogue Knitting Winter 2006/7
Materials: RYC Cashcotton DK (35% cotton, 25% nylon, 18% angora, 9% cashmere. 142 yds per 50g ball) 250g in magenta. ??? needles. I'm guessing size 5 since I don't remember swatching. (slap!)
Gauge: 22 sts/4 in
Finished size: 32" bust

Started: March 27, 2007
Finished: April 17, 2007

Narrowed the yoke. Added decreases at the bottom of the V neck edging so that the neck edge would lay flat. Raised the neckline by crocheting the fronts together a bit higher than the pattern indicates. Apparently, the girls just don't fill out the bustline as much as the designer had intended. Knit the edging on the sleeve at the cast on instead of as an afterthought edging.

The backs, fronts, and sleeves flew by without a hitch. It was just the yoke instructions that killed me. Either I didn't read them correctly, or the instructions were wrong. But I ended up taking out a few rows across the back neck so that I could seam the yoke to the back without major poufing. There's still a little bit, but I can at least live with it now. Also, setting in the sleeves was a bit of a challenge and they're a bit uneven at the first stitch of the cast off row, but again, I'm dealing with it.

The one thing I'm having trouble dealing with right now is that I find the sweater slightly itchy. The yarn is soft as can be, but dang it if I think I might be sensitive to angora! Another note about the yarn, it sheds like crazy and I end up with unsightly white tufts coming off under the armpits. Yuk!

But the fit is good and the design is flattering, so this one's a keeper.

Milan Jacket by Louisa Harding
Pattern in Natural Knits for Babies and Moms
Materials: Misti Cotton (83% cotton, 17% silk. 191 yds per 100g) 175g in Olive Khaki (7032). Size US8 Addi Turbo needles.
Gauge: 18 sts and 22 rows/4"
Finished size: 12.5" from shoulder to hem, 23" at chest, 8" sleeve from shoulder seam to cuff.

Started: April 17, 2007
Finished: April 21, 2007

none, except if you count the totally wrong gauge!

Perfect example of playing the gauge game. Jillian did a very nice post a couple of days ago about changing gauge in your knitting, so go check out her post if you haven't already. Whenever I do this, I take it one step further than what Jillian mentions. I'm usually changing whole dimensions with yarn substitutions, so I figure that this should apply to length as well. So I usually calculate out the instructions that say "Knit until piece measures..." and figure out how many rows they mean and just knit that many rows to keep the proportions the same.

Anyway, I cast on for the 6 month size with my larger gauge and ended up with almost the exact measurements for the 12 month size by following the instructions for the smallest size. Worked like a charm.

Okay, so this sweater isn't EXACTLY finished as I'm still in search of buttons, but what the heck, I'm on a roll here.

There would be a posting for the knitting that was done from April 21-28, except that the twist front top from VK Spring/Summer 2005 done in Knitpicks Salishan (red clay if you must know) was too ugly to even picture. It has since been RIPPED! If you do want to knit this pattern, I recommend not only achieving gauge, but doing so with lots of drape at that gauge. Otherwise it looks like crap. I'd also recommend calculating out a different sleeve cap and armscye shaping than the pattern recommends as I've never seen set in sleeves that look like narrow triangles before, and unless you have triangular shaped shoulders and no biceps, it just doesn't work.

Also, somewhere in here, I cast on for DH's hybrid sweater short sleeved polo based on a pattern from Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitting Without Tears. The knitting was finished on this last night, but the ends need to be woven in and a good blocking is in order before an FO picture with DH sweating to death in his wool sweater in June can be taken.

Ripple Weave Socks by Charlene Schurch
Pattern in Vogue Knitting Fall 2006
Materials: Cherry Tree Hill Supersock (100% wool. 420yd per 4oz hank) 3.4 oz in Northern Lights. Size 0(!) Addi Turbos 24 and 32".
Gauge: 10 sts/in
Finished size: 7.2 in circumference and 9 in long

Started: May 4, 2007
Finished: May 20, 2007

Only repeated 2 full charts on leg instead of stated 7. What were they thinking? 5 additional repeats would be obscenely long, given that 2 already measured 5" from the cuff to the top of the heel flap, and I didn't have THAT much yarn left over...

These socks look a lot like the Pomatomus Socks, but I don't think they're quite as pretty. There seem to be a lot of random holes between repeats that I suspect may cause undue wear patterns in the sock. But, the twisted 1x1 rib throughout is quite nice, and even though there's a bit of flashing going on in the sock, I can actually deal with it. If I do go on to make the P socks, I'll probably replicate the twisted rib on the toe of those as well.

Basic Mittens
Pattern in Handy Book of Knitting Patterns by Ann Budd
Materials: Knitpicks Decadence (100% superfine alpaca. 131 yds per 100g ball) 75g in Winter Berry. Size US9 circular needles.
Gauge: 4 sts/in
Finished size: 8" hand circumference and 8" from cuff to finger tip.

Started: June 3, 2007
Finished: June 3, 2007

Talk about instant gratification... these mittens didn't even make it onto the On the Sticks section of the sidebar! One evening of movies later and the leftovers from my MIL scarf became a matching set of mittens. I would have liked to knit these one needle size down so they'd be a bit denser, but I was concerned about how much yarn I had. Turns out I had enough left over that it shouldn't have been a problem. I'd also recommend not using alpaca for mittens (at least not this one anyway) as it seems to shed a lot and it doesn't seem hard wearing enough to be appropriate for something as chunky and utilitarian as mittens. Just my opinion though.

Whew! And if you're still with me, thanks! Another FO posting is apparently due, as if this weren't enough. I'm also thinking 2.5 months worth of FO's is not a good thing to try and tackle all at once. Maybe those Destash blog people have a point...

Friday, June 01, 2007

long belated honeymoon album

I've been blathering on and on about how behind I am in blogging, so here's the latest update:

My honeymoon album is finally up with draft captions. Go check it out.

I will be starting a new job in mid June, so that means that I'll be posting even LESS often (if that's possible) due to the hefty travel load. But it's a good career move for me and it should offer some new challenges. Very excited about that.

My clavinova is a bit dusty... but I can almost play Linus and Lucy now and I'm working on a Joplin piece. I took 12 years of classical piano as a kid, so these kinds of songs just weren't included in my repertoire. I'm even considering dabbling in some Elton John (Your Song in all its cheesiness still works on me).

I've been knitting quite a bit. I've still yet to post a baby sweater for my nephew, the eyelet blouse from VK Winter 2006/7, a twist front blouse that didn't have the drape required and so was ripped out AFTER seaming (hear the groan on this end), a pair of socks that look suspiciously like Pomatomus socks, and I've started a polo shirt for DH of my own design.

So I guess it's been busy on this end... must be a good start to summer!