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.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Cable cable cable

Hi. OK. So remember last Thanksgiving break, when I did all that knitting and dying? Well, not so much this time. This time I was mostly writing a paper (boo), but also eating pecan pie (yum). I did get a bit done on the plane, though.

Habitat, in mystery yard sale yarn that I'm almost sure is Donegal Tweed. Love the pattern, love the yarn, but...I'm just not so sure about the two of them together. I think the tweed is obscuring the cables. I don't think the recipient will mind too much (and, truthfully, he was the one who chose the yarn and the pattern, so hopefully he'll be happy) but in future I think I would choose a solid yarn. Actually, I really really like this pattern, so I think I'll do it again sometime anyway.

I do like the tweed though. And I'm getting a lot better at cabling without a cable needle! Essential for traveling.

Of course, in a fit of optimism, I decided to bring not one but TWO cabled hat projects home with me. The second one, which I LOVE LOVE LOVE and am SO EXCITED TO WEAR, is Ysolda's beautiful Gretel. I may have to wait awhile to wear it, though, because it still looks like this:

That's cool, though, I'll just bring it with me to England and Scotland! Where I'm going in two weeks! I'm so, so excited, although I have to admit the prospect is slightly alarming right now, because I have SO MUCH TO DO before I leave, but I'm super pumped.

In other news: has anyone else noticed the phenomenon where you're drawn to buy things that look like they could be handknit? Case in point: my new sweater. It's machine-knit, but it's really woolly and sheepy and totally looks like I could have made it. I'm definitely much more sensitive to fiber since I've started knitting, too--I really wanted a wool sweater, not a synthetic one, and five years ago I wouldn't have given fiber content a thought.

(Toby likes my sweater too.)

Which brings me to my final thought of the day, brought to you by an advertisement in Old Navy:

I beg to differ.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Knitting, what knitting?

Hi! I'm still around, all evidently all I do these days is fondle yarn and dream of knitting it, instead of actually making anything. Such is life.

A couple of weeks ago, I took a trip to the New Haven Farmer's Market. It was such a beautiful day for the market!

I saw lots of beautiful things.

Including yarn!

This booth was selling goat and sheep cheese, as well as handspun yarn (presumably from the very same sheep). Just think, you could be wearing AND eating products of the same animal! Farming is cool.

Also pricey. The 200-yard skeins (I'd estimate DK-weight or so) were $15. And this sweater, although you can't see the price tag, is $150. Of course, this is absolutely worth it, and really probably a pretty good deal given the amount of labor going into a handspun, handknit sweater. I realize that, but I hope enough other people do and buy these beautiful sweaters!

Mmmm, yarn. One of these days I will have pictures of actual knitting progress to show, including a brief attempt at a patriotic scarf. This was typical Rita--I started it Tuesday afternoon, thinking I would knit it as I watched the election results came in, and then have it forever as a memento of the most important election of my lifetime. Of course, what I actually did was knit seven inches spend the rest of the time drinking champagne and shouting gleefully at the TV. Now I'm remembering that I hate scarves and wondering if there's such a thing as a patriotically-colored potholder in mistake rib.

Anyway. Yarn!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Lori the Llama, or why procrastination is bad

Hi internet! I'm still alive, just at school and really busy (classes, activities, worrying about what to do with my life, etc) so not knitting so much.

Although I did make a sweater.

OK, it was for a llama.

What happened was this. The first home football game of the fall, a big event for the marching band, would take place this year on Sept. 20. Also occurring on Sept. 20 was the birthday of my dear friend Rosa, who is the drum major of the band, and as such wears a sweater kind of like this for games. Rosa is also obsessed with llamas. (Do you see where this is going now?)

Anyway, so I hatched my clever clever plan in about June, congratulated myself on my cleverness, and then spent the rest of the summer knitting other things and doing nothing to actually accomplish said plan.

All of a sudden, it was Sept. 19 and I had the following:

One stuffed llama
One front for a llama sweater
One "pattern" (some scribbles in the back of a notebook)

My Big Plan was to finish the sweater, put it on the llama, wrap it up, and leave it in the band room for Rosa that evening, nice and relaxed and in plenty of time for rehearsal at 7.

What actually happened was this:

4:30 Having finished the front and back of the sweater, I reach for my yarn needles to sew it up and embroider the front. Cannot find needles. Realize that I've lent them to my friend Sasha. No worries, I have plenty of time. I'll find them.

4:45 Actually, maybe I'll just call Sasha. In the meantime, I block the pieces I have. Now all I have to do is pick up stitches to knit ribbing for the legs, sew up one side of the sweater, embroider the YALE on the front, put it on the llama and finish sewing. Oh, and weave in the ends. Huh.

5:00 Maybe I'll just call Sasha again. Still nothing. Begin to feel the first little fingers of creeping panic.

5:05 Call all the other knitters I know. No one has a yarn needle.

5:10 Ah-hah! I'll just go buy one!

5:15 Yarn store closed at five. HELP.

5:19 Keep making phone calls. Finally locate a needle, but she can't bring it until 6:30. OK, fine, I'll just sew fast.

5:30 Pick up stitches to knit ribbing for legs. Knit faster, knit faster. Call Sasha again just for kicks. Nothing.

5:45 My friend Sarah comes in.
Sarah: Um, no...actually, I just came in to see if you wanted to--um...why are you sewing a sweater for a horse?

6:15 Legs finished. Where are my needles?!

6:30 In the band room, hiding from Rosa in a back room and embroidering the letters.

6:45 Finish the embroidery. Sew seams faster than I have ever sewed in my life.

7:15 Finish sweater, wrap it very sophisticatedly in white copy paper and Scotch tape. Make a birthday card with a sharpie. It looks like a six-year-old made it. I don't care. Stash the oddly-shaped package (it looks kind of a sarcophagus) for Rosa to find.

7:20 Take my seat in rehearsal. Heart pounding oddly fast. Why do I always do this to myself?!

So, lessons learned:
1) Do. Not. Put off the execution of your brilliant ideas until the last minute.
2) Make sure Sasha has her own needles next time
3) If I put as much effort into my schoolwork as I do into silly presents, I would be...well, probably still unemployable, actually, so never mind.

But the result?

So cute! I think it actually looks like a drum major sweater, and it fits the llama pretty well. And it all ended well: Rosa was happy, the game the next day went great, and I learned my lesson.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Still alive!

Still alive, just a delinquent blogger as always. Oh well. I'm back at my second home now, and somehow in all the moving and unpacking and catching up with friends, the knitblogging appears to have slipped. Let's see what I can remember...

Once upon a time, I did finish a baby set!

I love those little silver buttons!

Patterns: February Baby Sweater, by Elizabeth Zimmerman, from Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitter's Almanac, and Saartje's Booties.
Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport in "Denim," leftovers from my Gathered Pullover. Overdyed with purple and pink McCormick food coloring by yours truly. About 1.5 skeins, I think, for booties and sweater.
Needles: Clover bamboo size 4 circular for the sweater, Susan Bates size 3 straights for the booties.
Modifications: I didn't get gauge for the booties, so I knit the size small and got a larger bootie. Whatever, booties are stretchy and babies grow.
Also, I wasn't happy with the button holes I made, so I sewed those closed when I was sewing on the buttons and then made crocheted loops. I think it worked quite well.
Verdict: I was so happy with this project! I really love the color of the yarn, and the sweater and booties are supercute. No, I am not exactly cool, but there's a reason these patterns are so popular. The sweater was easy except for where I screwed up the lace, but I managed to fudge the numbers a little and it came out all right, and I don't think anyone but me would notice. The booties took like two hours to make, total. I would absolutely make these two again, for whatever unsuspecting friend or relative reproduces next.

And I just can't get over the color of the yarn--I wonder if I'd be able to do that again?

Anyway. Back at school now, so the knitting (and blogging) might be a little more sporadic.

I miss summer already. Especially summer food.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Fridays are for purple

February baby sweater: Finished!

(Almost...still awaiting blocking and buttons)

Oh man, do I love this color! I can say that completely unabashedly because, while I did dye it myself, I had no clue whatsoever what I was doing.

Oh, and I chose buttons:

I still need to sew them on and then crochet some button loops. I did make buttonholes while I was knitting, but they're too small and too far in and they just look goofy--so I'm going to sew the buttons onto the side that had the holes, and in doing so close up and camoflage the old holes, see? And then crochet little loops to go over them. It's not perfect, but it'll work.

A better solution might have been to make the buttonholes right the first time around, but what can you do.

One bootie, kind of finished but awaiting buttons, blocking, and sewing up:

Super cute, and super easy and super fast--maybe an hour and a half for this bootie last night? And so CUTE! I can't get over how little it is. I did modify the pattern a little, unsurprisingly--details later.

And big-girl booties (not really): flats for me.

Purple purple purple.

Mmmm, purple.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Knit faster, knit faster

It is one million (numbers are approximate) degrees outside today, so naturally I am knitting a wool sweater.


Although, truth be told, I am actually somewhat concerned because the baby shower is in oh let's see eight days, and so far the sweater looks like this:

Yeah, um, CONCERN. I'm not really in big trouble just yet, but I might be if I don't get cracking. What do you think my friends will say to this: "Sorry guys, I can't go to the movies/bar/park/hiking--I have to stay home and knit." I mean, they already knew I was a huge loser but that is pushing it even for me.

Oh well. In the meantime I will knit normally, taking time out to hike/bike/swim/lie in the shade waiting for my impending death from heatstroke due to the preceding three activities and the fact that it is, at 5:37 p.m., 97 DEGREES OUT.

I'm not in trouble.


(I do like how my hand-dyed yarn is knitting up, though!)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

One-woman sweatshop

Cranking out the baby clothes around here.

My high school band director had a baby last week, so I took a break from knitting my still-embryonic (heh) February Baby Sweater to make her a little hat:

Pattern: Umbilical Cord Hat, by Jennifer L. Jones. Kinda. I didn't really read the pattern, just made a little baby hat and then added a little i-cord knot on the top. I think it makes the hat look a little Dr. Seuss, but I like it.
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Cotton Angora, only a bit of a skein of each. What perfect baby yarn! I don't know if it's still being made; I bought this yarn a few years ago and haven't seen any in stores for awhile. But oh, so soft!

Reggie is not moved, softness or no.

Curl Up and Dye

Hands down my favorite salon name EVER.

Anyway. Yarn. I had quite a bit leftover from my Gathered Pullover--more than enough for a little baby sweater. But the baby in question is a girl--not that baby girls can't wear blue! I would have been happy to make her a little blue sweater, actually, and take THAT, gender-normativity, but after knitting an entire adult sweater out of this yarn I could not stare at that ocean of blue (heh) any longer.

So bust out the food coloring and vinegar, and MY NAME IS INIGO MONTOYA, YOU KILLED MY FATHER, PREPARE TO DYE! (hahahaha)(shut up.)

Ahem. Before:

Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport in "Denim," 2 + a little bit skeins.

Two teeny samples, microwaved:

On the left: purple McCormick food coloring over blue; on the right, pink. I like the purple much better.

Drying in the sun after "kettle-dying" (which sounds quite fancy and artisan-dyer esque, but really means I stirred up some food coloring, vinegar, and water, heated it up, and added the yarn. Somewhere along the line I managed to dye my foot pink. You know.)

Aaaand finished product!

I love it! It's much more variegated than I had intended--some spots stayed pretty blue, and then I tried to overdye those and only got some of them and so now some spots are pretty red, but I think it'll look nice knit up. So a success!

Except, except...oh, I don't want to talk about it. It's too painful.

It's...I...I can't even talk about it. There was a funny smell, and then there was yarn on fire, and then there was burned wool, and breaking, and...aaaaugh.

And really it's not too bad, actually; it only burned through about ten strands, all close together, so most of the skein is intact. I saved these little bits and I'll use them for seaming or edges or something. It's just...augh.

But I did make pretty yarn!

Oh, and what am I making? Oh, only the third-most popular baby pattern on Ravelry.

I told you I'm not cool.