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.