Tag Archive | Knitting

Lots of Tiny, Tiny Beads

Last week, I was at a meeting with someone wearing a beautiful shawl. She mentioned that it was made from Wollmeise. And I remembered that I had a barely-begun Wollmeise shawl project sitting in my closet: my Entomology shawl. I pulled it out of the closet and read through the instructions again. I had not quite finished stringing all the beads.

The Beading Continues

The instructions for the shawl give a handy little tip. Instead of counting out each of the 1205 beads, string a bunch on and measure how many beads fit in an inch. Do a little multiplication, and you can simply measure the string of beads for an estimated total. I did the math. And I realized that, at 14 beads per inch, 1205 beads would measure just over 7 feet.

Beading

That’s a lot of beads. I strung them all, plus an extra inch or so for insurance, and cast on this evening. During a couple hours of tv watching, I worked my way through the 20 rows of chart A. And then realized I completely forgot to place the beads that were between stitches – I only did the ones in the yarnovers.

My little shawl is back to being a ball of yarn with a whole lot of little tiny beads. And that cross-stitch stocking is looking at me reproachfully.

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Just a Little Crazy

It’s not that I hadn’t heard of the Sock Yarn Blankie. It kept popping up in podcasts and here and there in the Ravelry Forums. As cool as Shelly’s Blankie looked, I just didn’t have any desire to turn my scraps into a real, honest-to-goodness project.

And then Stacy started talking about it, too. She mentioned another lovely blanket, and then I stumbled on Elizabeth’s gorgeous project (also, she has the best blog name ever).

Somewhere in there, I reached the tipping point, and this happened:

The Beginnings of Insanity

I have been keeping sock yarn remnants neatly balled up in a drawer of my card catalog cabinet, like they were just waiting for this project.

Growing Blankie

I swapped several remnants with Stacy, joined the BlankieMania group over Ravelry, and found a mini-skein swap to join. I shipped off an envelope full of yarn.

Mini-Skeins

I can hardly wait for my new mini-skeins to come in.

Growing Blankie

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Marching to the Finish

Even though I didn’t make it by the Closing Ceremonies of the 2010 Olympics, I was determined to finish my Greenjeans sweater. I finished the last few rows and sewed on the button this morning.

Greenjeans

I am not in love with the button after all. I need to take it off and move it inward (away from the bound-off edge) anyway, so I might replace it entirely.

I decided to try out the timer setting on our camera, with mixed results:

Mr. Greenjeans

It’s an incredibly comfortable sweater, despite the sleeves being a teeny bit too long (which was completely my own doing).

Mr. Greenjeans

Pattern: Mr. Greenjeans, by Amy Swenson, from the Fall 2007 issue of Knitty
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, about 12 balls
Needles: US8 and US7
Notes: Thank you, Amy, for writing the instructions for picking up the neck-/buttonband the way you did. If I had realized ahead of time that I was about to pick up 262 stitches, it probably would have given me more pause. Since my row gauge was off, I did extra rounds on the sleeves in between decreases, and I made the sleeves full-length. I also made the body a little longer.

This was a really nice, clear, straightforward sweater pattern.  It’s been quite a while since I made a sweater for myself.  I should make some more.

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Book Review: Sweater Quest

I’ve been waiting for this book to come out since Martini was interviewed on Cast-On last year. I enjoyed her first memoir – actually, since it was about her experience with Postpartum Depression, maybe enjoyed isn’t the word I want to use.  But it was a great book.  So, I had high hopes for this second outing, and I was not disappointed.

I pre-ordered through Amazon and received my copy today. Since Lil Miss was napping and K was watching something that appeared to be a movie involving World War II, I headed out to the Sky Chair on the deck.  And there I stayed until I finished the book.

Here’s my review as it appears on Amazon, GoodReads, and LibraryThing:

It seems like such a silly idea: A memoir about knitting a sweater? But like Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (who makes an appearance), Martini isn’t really writing about knitting. She’s writing about knitters. Mostly, just one knitter.

Over the course a year, Martini sets out to complete a sweater known as “Mary Tudor”. As she tackles the challenges of acquiring an out-of-print pattern and substituting for out-of-production yarns (no small feat for a project in which color is key) as well as stranded colorwork and steeking, she gathers together details about the designer, Alice Starmore. She explores why knitters are so attracted to Starmore’s famously difficult-to-obtain and difficult-to-knit patterns, and how far they can stray from the designer’s vision yet still remain faithful to the project.

Martini travels to Rhinebeck, Nashville, and Toronto to interview bloggers well-known to knitters around the world. The history of Tudor Roses and the Alice Starmore brand intertwine with the history of knitting in the Shetland Isles and North America and the life one particular American woman in the early twenty-first century. Witty and self-deprecating, Martini doesn’t hesitate to share her liberal leanings or drop the occasional curse word. Her writing style is clean and sharp, a pleasure to read. She’s clearly aware of the absurdity of her “quest”, which just makes it all the more enjoyable.

I gave it 5 stars out of 5.

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Meet the Mantis

Now that the Knit Picks catalog for March has arrived, I can show you all my favorite recent knit for them, the Praying Mantis, from Amigurumi Knits.

Closer Shot of Mantis on a Wall

Clearly deep in contemplation, she’s a thoughtful one.

Also, being an outdoorsy sort, she can’t resist climbing a nice tree.

Mantis in a Tree

But she didn’t mind hanging out at work with me, either.

Checking out my Cubicle

She found that Piggie, who regularly appears as my Ravatar image, is a very good listener.

Mantis and Piggy

But then she seemed to be getting just a little bit too close for comfort, so it was time to send her off to Washington for her professional photo shoot.

Mantis and Piggy

Knit from Wool of the Andes in Green Tea Heather and Fairy Tale (which is a really nice shade of purple) with two sets of bamboo DPNs.  Chenille stems down the legs and in the thorax keep her upright, and fiberfill in her abdomen and head round her out (so to speak).

I really, really like knitting toys. I’m going to have to knit a Mantis for myself.  With the right colors, I could totally make myself a little N’Grath.

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At Least I Got *Something* Done

I finished off my homework for Stitches West while watching Big Love last night. That is some good television right there, I tell you. Although, a couple of weeks back, I thought there was an interesting compare/contrast thing developing with the young people on the Reservation turning to drugs and the “lost boys” of the UEB compound turning to crime, but it seems to have been dropped in favor of the insanity of La Familia Green.

I meant to get a few rows in on Mr. Greenjeans, but he just sat in my bag while I finished up the last three sets of swatches for Judy Pascale‘s Suitable Seams class. The swatches aren’t difficult in any way; I just seem to have some sort of issue with following instructions. It’s a good thing I didn’t have any homework for any of my other classes to do, too, is all I can say.

Once I finished my swatches, I went in search of a bag. Thanks to last year’s Tempted @ 3AM club shipments (and a few purchases on my own), I have a whole bunch of lovely project bags. One of the box-bags turned out to be just right for my swatches, the remainder of the ball of yarn, and the size US8 needles I used.

Stitches Homework

While I was at it, I cleared a languishing project out of another bag to make way for my drop spindle for Merike Saarniit‘s Spinning for Knitting class.

Spindle for Stitches Class

Here’s hoping I can spin something a little nicer after the class! I’m planning to visit Lisa Souza‘s booth for some of her gorgeous fibers, and I don’t want to end up having them sit around until I think I’m “good enough” to spin them. Franklin (you know Franklin, right?) took Merike’s class in 2006, and it sounds like it’s going to be absolutely fantastic. I’m hoping to get a chance to try a wheel sometime, too, either in that class or somewhere in the market.

I still need to pack up my bag of “Basics” (while looking for a bag for my swatches, I ran across the bag I bought in 2005 to carry my “Basics” to my first Stitches) as well as my clothes and such. Just a few more days!

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Winter Games

Before the Ravelympics, before Ravelry, for that matter (imagine that!), there was the Knitting Olympics. A simple concept: between the opening and closing of the Olympic Games, cast on and complete a project that challenges the knitter.

Two years later, Ravelry was in full (beta) swing, and teams and events were born.

Two years after that, another Winter Olympics season rolled around, and the Knitting Olympics returned.

I have actually signed up for the Ravelympics, entering as part of Team WeHo, for the West Hollywood knitting group that I haven’t actually attended in quite some time. I’m there in spirit.

But my spirit really finds its home with the purity of the Knitting Olympics. No teams, no events, no judges but ourselves. My challenge: to turn a bagful of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran into a Mr. Greenjeans.

Stash: DB Cashmerino Aran

I chose this sweater because (a) these skeins of Cashmerino have been sitting around for a few years and haven’t yet magically turned into a Cardigan for Arwen, the pattern I originally had in mind, and (b) I want a new cardi to wear to Stitches West, which falls on the last days of the Winter Olympics.

I was off to a fantastic start, casting on around 7:00 pm PST (despite NBC’s insistence on delaying the Opening Ceremony until after 8 p.m. for the West coast of the U.S.) and trucking on through to the point where the pattern changes from stockinette to ribbing. And then… equipment failure.

Mr Greenjeans

It seems that I do not have a US7 circular needle. Learn from my example, future Knitting Olympians. Check and double-check your equipment, or you, too, may find yourself halfway through the course without the right needle to continue, with your favorite LYS – after you’ve waited three days for your non-working hours and their posted store hours to coincide – inexplicably closed. Or maybe that’s just me.

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Not Another Hobby

Last night, while watching Night at the Museum II, I put the final touches on the not-a-surprise jackalope for K.

Jackalope!

Isn’t he cute? He’s so cute, in fact, that Little Miss keeps grabbing him and telling me that “the rabbit” is her “favorite animal”.  It’s a good thing I was already planning on making a second one.

Jackalope!

I love Hansi Singh’s wacky patterns from this book. They’re just so much fun! I think I found one tiny error – a line that reads “K1, K23″ (actually, it’s not 23, but I don’t remember the number) instead of “Sl1, K23″, which would make a lot more sense.  There are a few fiddly bits in the pattern, but it’s so worth it. And, wow, these amigurumi knits really are a good way to practice things like various increases, picking up stitches, and kitchener.

Jackalope!

The Details:

Pattern: Jackalope, by Hansi Singh, from Amigurumi Knits, but she’s also had the pattern out separately in her Etsy shop.
Yarn: Cascade 220, something less than 2 skeins, plus scraps of NatureSpun Sport for the face embroidery. I dyed one skein of white Cascade 220 brown with tea, and a small amount red with strawberry Kool-Aid.
Needles: Crystal Palace bamboo DPNs, size 4, two sets.
Started: November 11, 2009
Finished: December 19, 2009

I’ve already started on a second one, actually, in thinner yarn and on smaller needles. A baby jackalope.

After doing the jackalope’s photo shoot in the back yard, I started tidying my desk. I decided to put some Disney pins that were hiding in my drawer out to be seen.

Pins

That’s a shot glass display case there, mostly housing my Tacky Shotglasses of the World collection, a collection I discontinued a few months after Little Miss was born. The Half Marathon pin is from when I ran the race in 2007. The other three pins belonged to my grandmother and came to me after she passed away. After I put them out, I started poking around eBay for other pins. I really don’t need to start collecting Disney pins, right? Right?

Maybe I should go knit another toy.

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Victory is Mine!

Zig Zag Diamonds

I finished the Zig Zag Diamonds Socks while watching the Illini lose to Northwestern on Saturday. Well, at least one of us was successful.

Details:
Pattern: Zig Zag Diamonds, by Jeannie Cartmel
Yarn: Wollmeise Sockenwolle 100% Superwash, in “Guide to Galaxy”
Needles: Addi Turbos, size US 1, 2 circs
Started: October 15, 2009
Completed: November 14, 2009
Comments: This would have been a quicker knit if I hadn’t messed up the pattern on the second sock. It was nice to have plenty of yarn for that 3rd sock, though. I’m not loving the way the pattern starts straightaway after the cast-on, even though it’s a 1×1 ribbed stitch pattern. The pattern and yarn were the September shipment for the Loopy Ewe sock club. It also happened to fit the theme for the Sock Knitters Anonymous Sockdown! for October, which is the main reason they got cast on and done so soon.

Zig Zag Diamonds

They are cozy socks. Now, what to do with that extra one?

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Experimentation

For the last couple of months, I’ve been engaging in a little experiment. At the end of August, I challenged myself to avoid purchasing any yarn until my birthday (at the end of January). When I decided to go to Stitches West, I moved the goal posts to the first day of Stitches.

And then Jenny of Stash and Burn talked about Cold Sheeping, a great term for Not Buying Yarn. This was prompted by a Cold Sheep thread on the Ravelry group, which I finally got around to reading right after buying a sock kit at a farm in October. Technically, K bought it for me, and I wasn’t even trying to weasel out of my own challenge! (Also, I’m knitting the socks for K’s classroom, anyway.)

I made two exceptions to the No Buying Yarn rule: (1) the Loopy Ewe Sock Club packages, which bill for each shipment rather than up front, and which I committed to back in the Spring, and (2) a possible extension of the Tempted @ 3AM club, which did take an upfront payment, and I can’t tell you how nifty it is to get yarn in the mail that you paid for so long ago it’s like the yarn is coming for free.

Other than that, I’ve been knitting out of my stash. Meanwhile, people have been confessing their falls off the Cold Sheep Wagon. So, I wanted to share a Cold Sheep Success Story.

It started out with me wanting to knit up a Jackalope for K. It was supposed to be a surprise, but that’s another tale. The stumbling block was a lack of rabbit-colored yarn. I have several single skeins of Cascade 220 in red, orange, green, and blue, but no brown or gray. But I do have something: several skeins of white (which I didn’t want to use for the body, because I want to use white for the horns; also, a jackalope is a desert animal, not a snow animal!) and a whole lot of tea.

I brewed a really big pot of tea:

Giant Pot o'Tea

That’s an 8-quart pot (not quite full) and 12 bags of Tetley’s British Blend.

Meanwhile, I soaked a hank of white Cascade 220 in my favorite pasta pot:

Soaking

Once the tea boiled (over, in fact, which is why I ended up scrubbing the stovetop, which might have made K happier than the finished jackalope will), I pulled out the teabags and very gently added the wet yarn:

In the Pot

And then I waited. I waited about half an hour, but it was still steaming, so I left it until steam stopped coming off of it, then very carefully poured off some of the tea into the sink until I could even more carefully take out the yarn and rinse it under the faucet. I rinsed with warm water until it ran clear, gently squeezed out some of the water, wrapped it in my old Swim Team towel (it’s old, and also dark blue, effectively hiding any tea stains), and finally hung it up to dry in my backyard:

Hanging Up to Dry

I left it there all day, then brought the nearly dry yarn inside to hang over a chair back overnight. The next morning, I took a comparison photo with some white yarn exactly like the original:

Before and After

It came out a very nice desert rabbit brown, I think. And I didn’t even need a separate set of pots. 

I’ve been alternating working on the jackalope with working on my third second Zig-Zag Diamonds sock. Progress on the sock is slow, but I’ve turned the heel and picked up the pattern for the foot in the right place this time. At this point, I really just want to be done with it.

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