Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Awesome things:

1) I am back at school, but it is the first week back so there is no way I am doing any work this week. February Lady Sweater, here I come! (Almost finished with the body and then it's on to the sleeves. Assuming I can find my size 8 DPNs, which is by no means a sure thing).

2) While I knit, I have a new episode of Stash and Burn to listen to! FINALLY.

3) Guerilla Knitters. Doesn't it look like at least some of the yarn she's using in the picture is Noro Kureyon?

That reminds me, actually--in class yesterday I was sitting right behind a guy wearing a handknit sweater! He said that his grandmother made it for him, which is incredibly cute. It was a great sweater, sort of Aran with lots of cables and seed-stitch panels (I know this because I stared at it throughout the entire class). After feeling the sleeve (trying and probably failing not to seem like a total freak) I'm pretty sure it was Malabrigo.


Thursday, January 8, 2009

An Easier Knit

Remember Gretel? Remember how I screwed up a million times and tore my hair out and that stupid hat took WAY longer than it should have and it was really hard?

Yeah, this was nothing like that.

I came. I knit. I finished. And it was awesome.

Pattern: Habitat, by Jared Flood. Amazing. This pattern is so cool, and do you know why? Because it's unexpected. It starts out like a regular old cabled hat, but then it's not! The cables behave in unexpected ways! They entwine and split off to form new cables! I know, I shouldn't be assigning anthropomorphic qualities to little loops of wool! And I'm using a lot of exclamation points! But it's just so cool!

Yeah, so thumbs up on the pattern then. Also thumbs up on the yarn, Malabrigo Merino Worsted in "Surf." (I think. Lost the tag, of course). Oh man so soft. Oh man. I just want to bury my face in it and snuggle.

Also, supercute on the recipient; much better than it looked on me, it must be said, which made it easier to give away. I looked like a cancer patient and she looks adorable.

The Gretel Saga

This was not supposed to be this hard. Of course, it was never going to be as easy as I thought (remember when I thought I would finish this hat and wear it in England! Hah! Haahaha!) But I did not help myself much.

First, I ignored the instructions, and it looked like this:

Lesson learned: smaller needles for the band are your friend.

Plus, when I finished it was way too big. Not just the band; the whole thing. It looked like I should be stuffing my dreadlooks in it and singing "Buffalo Soldier." Not cool. (Also not pictured, so use your imagination).

Sooo...I did a little surgery.

Hold your breath; are you ready to see the carnage?

Yeah, I chopped that up. It was drastic, I know, but there was no #$%!ing way I was going to pick out every single insidious little stitch if I ripped back from the cast-on edge, and also no way I was going to rip and reknit, so chop chop. I cut off a good two inches, including the accursed band, and then picked out the bits of fluff and picked up the resulting live stitches (hooray for extremely sticky, fuzzy wool yarn). A little messy and there were a few stray ends, but I just tacked them down and you can't tell the difference. Hah!

I knit a couple of rounds to get myself settled, decreasing rapidly as I did so--except not quite rapidly enough because when I finished the ribbed band v2.0 (on the proper size of needles this time!), the hat fit...but the band was still too loose.

(At this point, fed up with the whole thing, I wore the hat for a couple of days and attempted to convince myself that it fit just fine, and that the band wasn't too loose, and it was SUPPOSED to slip off my ears like that. My mother, fed up with my constantly debating out loud, made the decision for me. "If it's going to bug you that much, just fix it!")

Enter the elastic (gold because it's all I had, not because I like the bling. Well, kind of that too).

Which was fine for about fifteen minutes, after which I decided it bugged me, and since I had some yarn left I should go ahead and knit a facing for it (next on the slate for Skills to Learn: Quitting While You're Ahead).

So I picked up stitches around the bottom of the ribbing, knit in stockinette for an inch, cast off, sewed the facing down, and because the cast-off was so tight I couldn't get it over my head. (No pictures here either, because I was too busy screaming into a pillow to go find my camera).

But after awhile, I picked myself up off the couch, gritted my teeth, picked out the $&%^#@!!! seam, picked out the cast-on, sewed the resulting live stitches to the inside of the hat (yeaaaah, sticky yarn!) and...

I have a hat.

It caused me no end of (entirely self-inflicted) grief, it took about twice as long as it should have, and if I am entirely honest it's actually a little tight around the ears, but I'm ignoring that.

But I think it's a cute hat.

Final verdict:
Pattern: two thumbs up.
Yarn (Noro Cash Iroha): One and a half thumbs up; gains points for great color, shine, and and refusal to drop live stitches. Loses points for extreme thick-and-thinness in places that made cabling a wee bit tricky.

But I have a cute hat!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


First I made Gretel.

Then it was too big.

Then I did surgery, and after a lot of cutting (gulp), picking up stitches, and reknitting, it was smaller.

But then the band was too loose.

So I sewed in some elastic.

But then I didn't like the way it looked.

So I picked up stitches and knit a facing.

But I cast that off too tightly.

And now I can't get it over my head.


Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What Santa Brought

Well, OK, half the time Santa was me. But still. Souvenir yarn from my trip and some lovely Christmas presents made for some very good stash-enhancing indeed!

Souvenir yarn #1: From K1 Yarns in Edinburgh, one skein of Orkney Angora 4-Ply, 400 yards of angora fuzzy deliciousness. This was exactly, exactly what I wanted in souvenir yarn: unique and beautiful, Scottish, and also laceweight and so easy to carry around. It came with a beautiful free pattern for a shawl, too, just a really simple lace pattern. I can't wait to make it; they had a store sample and it was like a cloud of angora heaven. Oh man.

Look how fuzzy!

Next up: Brigantia Luxury Double Knit, 200m of natural, undyed wool. Again, perfect souvenir yarn! I bought it at a yarn store (whose name is now lost to me) in York; the label says it was made in Yorkshire, so I'll associate it with all the sheep I saw.

I really debated buying two skeins; I have so many single skeins already and I feel like one can only make so many hats, you know? But I needed to save money for other things (food, etc) and space was limited, so I just got the one. Don't know yet what it'll be...gloves?

(The drive from Edinburgh to York was great fun, by the way. It went like this:
"Hey Lacey look, there's SHEEP! Oh, look at the little sheepies! Look at their little black faces! Sheep!" Pause. "Oh look, there's MORE sheep!"
For four hours.)

Next on the stash-addition list, six skeins of Galway Highland Heather in the poetically named "749." I'm not sure these pictures do it justice; it's this amazing heathered purpley magenta with flecks of blue, and in the right light it just GLOWS.

You might think, from the name, that it was also purchased in Britain, it was actually:
a) purchased at my hometown yarn store, and
b) made in Peru. Go figure.

I've only just started a February Lady Sweater (I know, original, right?) which I have the perhaps overly-ambitious goal of finishing by the time I go back to school next week. You laugh, but keep in mind that I'm on vacation and knitting time is abundant. We'll see.

Right now I'm just about through with the raglan increases, and let me tell you it is dragging on. Not surprising, seeing as the rows just keep getting longer. I'm hoping the body will be faster.

Also on the needles: another Habitat, in Malabrigo, for my friend and traveling companion Lacey. She was good enough to put up with my general excitedness when it came to wool AND be dragged into a remarkable amount of yarn stores for a non-knitter, so for Christmas I gave her a skein of Malabrigo in a shade I knew she'd like, with promises to knit it into a hat of her choice.

Wait, what's that, buying yarn that I really want to knit with and then knitting it into a pattern that I love isn't exactly generous gift-giving? Shut up. She chose the pattern! (OK, after I showed it to her). But seriously, I'm loving how it's turning out; the Malbrigo is soft, soft, soft like a buttered baby's but, and it shows off the cables much better than the tweed I used for my last Habitat. (Which I finished, by the way, I just never got around to photographing it.)

On the subject of this particular hat, I can't think of another time when I've finished a project and then cast on for the same thing virtually right away. I just love this pattern! I'm way farther along than these pictures, actually--I should have FO photos soon.

Finally, two more presents--both from Lacey, purchased while she was in Northern Ireland!

Debbie Bliss Donegal Aran Tweed:

It's the funniest thing, but I'm 95% sure that this is the exact same yarn I made Ben's Habitat out of! Remember, that yarn was mystery garage-sale yarn, but this stuff seems pretty identical. So now I have more! I love that it was made in Ireland, too.

And finally, "Freedom Spirit" wool--about 300 yards. I've never heard of the brand, and it says "made in England." It's single-ply and SO soft. I'm not sure, but it looks like it might stripe.

Isn't it pretty? Good haul, all around.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Gretel Goes to the British Isles

...and she still isn't even finished yet. Oh well.

Edinburgh was beautiful:

I managed to visit a yarn store or two...(more on my souvenir yarn later).

And sampled some local treats (here in York):

Me: "I'm so glad we found this great tea shop!" Lacey: "And I'm glad your stomach is a bottomless pit."

Of course, all the sightseeing and eating didn't leave much time for actually knitting, so my dreams of finishing Gretel and wearing her all around Britain came to nothing; right now, she looks like this (I could have finished on the plane home, but am dimmer than Iceland in January and so left my extra ball of yarn in my checked bag. ARGH).

I do love the cables, though!

The Cash Iroha is a nice match for this pattern, I think; it's springy enough to show off the cables nicely, but the silk gives it a nice drape. I like the slightly thick-and-thin, handspun quality. The color is a little more of an intense emerald than my winter-sunlight photos show.

The only slight mishap with this hat is due entirely to user error and is no reflection at all on Ysolda's beautiful pattern (seriously, so clever and well-written. And easy to memorize! I think it looks much more complicated than it is). Evidently, when she says to knit the ribbed band on needles two sizes smaller...she means it. I know, I know, this should be obvious but I'm lazy and I don't read directions properly and plus I didn't HAVE needles that size and I was too cheap to buy them, and anyway, how much of a difference can it make, really?


Rip rip, reknit reknit, dammit dammit. You'd think I'd have learned by now.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I love this hat

I really do. It's so awesome. I love the intricate cables and the way they don't behave the way you expect them to--I'm easily amused by this, because I just follow the chart line-by-line and then I'm pleasantly surprised when I take a look at what I've done and hey look at that, how clever! I am a simple child.

I've tried it on and it looks like it'll fit me great and be really warm and comfy; too bad it's not for me, but the recipient (just like me) has an enormous head, so it should fit him fine.

I do not love the pictures I've managed to take of it, but hey you know what we don't have a lot of in December in the Northeast? NATURAL SUNLIGHT. So I do what I can.

Look at those cables!

I love the hat, but it's in time-out right now because of a Cabling Accident (read: user error) that has to be tinked. I'll go have a chat with it right now.