Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Step 3?


I only worked on the Messenger Bag for a couple of hours last weekend, but you can see that I've made outstanding progress. I finished cutting out all of the pieces (I rotary cut the lining and canvas pieces), and machine basted the canvas to the exterior. Then I trimmed the seam allowances of the canvas to minimize seam bulk. There's one piece of fabric that is either extra or that still needs a canvas backing--I'll figure that out as I go along, I guess. Anyway, after all of that work, I have just completed Step Three of this pattern. Out of something like 17 steps. Maybe I should have picked out a Christmas fabric?

Monday, February 26, 2007

Black Like My Heart


Time to get away from all of that tricky colorwork in favor of a relatively plain black sweater. The pattern is Wicked from Zephyr Style. It's knit top down, with a wide cable neck and lots of options--I'm planning to knit long sleeves, and no front pocket, but I like the look of the short-sleeve version too. The yarn is Brown Sheep Cotton Wool in color CW-005 Cavern. I'm using Knitpicks Options US #6 needles, which are great but very, very pointy--ouch! The neckline cables are knit without a cable needle, which was very easy with the Knitpicks.

I'm hoping to make a lot of progress on this in the next couple of days, while I wait for my first Rockin' Sock Club package to arrive!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Dormant Work In Progress - Dale Baby Sweater


I spent some time this weekend digging through the boxes that have arrived from Somerville, mostly looking for a particular CD that I've been thinking about for the last couple of weeks. I played team trivia, and there were two Sinead O'Connor questions, which made me want to hear a few songs from "I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got". I couldn't find it (and I really hope I didn't give it away in the Purge of '06), but I did find one of the several WIPs that I squirrelled away many years ago. As with many of these WIPs, I don't remember exactly when I started them, and if it was for a specific baby the window has long since closed on giving it as a gift. The yarn is Manderin Petit egyptian cotton, and the pattern is this one from Dale of Norway:

Dale Sweater

Judging by the price tag, it was purchased at Woolcott in Harvard Square, a minimum of 6 years ago. According to Yarndex, the MSRP is now $5.75 per ball, or 35% higher than I paid. The back and fronts are totally done (all in one piece), and much of one sleeve is also finished. I can't say that I think the sleeve looks very good, the gauge could be tighter, and I shouldn't have stored it on such short dpns. When (if?) I pick this up again, I'll probably need to rip out the sleeve and start it over, if only to make sure that the two sleeves end up matching. I still like the pattern, and although the colors aren't particularly inspiring they are baby-appropriate and have nice contrast.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Endpaper Mitts - Done and Done

Finished Mitts!

I started these to combat a chilly office, and after today's sleet and rain I rushed home to finish the second mitt. I think they turned out very well, and I'm looking forward to wearing them tomorrow now that the cold is back. Can't knit at stoplights (or grip the steering wheel well) while wearing the Anemoi Mittens!

Cuff Detail

This shot shows my only (intentional) modification--regular cast on instead of tubular. I tried the tubular, but it was too difficult for me to pick up the stitches with the smooth black yarn. I have to admit that I didn't really try that hard--I was too eager to get to the colorwork. Sorry about the dog hair--as soon as I put the mitts on as a pair, I was attacked by ferocious miniature dachshunds.

Project Recap:
Yarn: GGH Merino Soft in black and royal blue (I don't know if the colors have real names). 1 ball of each, with plenty of leftovers--maybe enough for another mitt when I lose one of these!
Pattern: Eunny Jang's Endpaper Mitts
Time to knit: about two weeks
Needles: Size 1 knitpicks circular, Magic Loop style

Monday, February 19, 2007

High Street Messenger Bag - The Problem

The second Endpaper Mitt is almost finished, but I've had some trouble focusing on it this weekend--too much blog-reading and tv watching and (unfortunately) working. Today I decided to start a non-knitting project that I've been thinking about for awhile: Amy Butler's High Street Messenger Bag. It's a big bag with lots of pockets (three zippers are required!) but also a very clean look to it, I think it will be a great everyday bag. Here's the fabric I'm using:

P1010373 The floral fabric will be the outside, and I'll use the denim as the lining. The pattern recommends heavy-weight fabric, so I plan to reinforce the floral with iron-on interfacing. Today I cut out most of the floral fabric pieces, but due to a cutting error I had make an emergency trip to the fabric store. Very annoying--this fabric is Amy Butler's as well, and it is a little pricey. I will probably start cutting some of the other pieces later (once it comes out of the wash), or maybe work on interfacing the pieces that are already cut. I'm a little annoyed about my cutting error, and I'm worried that I'll try to rush through and end up with more problems.

P1010380I can't really blame anyone except myself for the cutting error, but I was being distracted by knitting podcasts and dogfights. Yes, I know exactly how hideous that carpet looks--I'm hoping that we can redo the sewing room this spring / summer.

I've made several of Amy Butler's patterns, and I love her fabrics and books, but I wish that the patterns were a little more Carrie-friendly. For instance, all of the pieces of the Messenger Bag appear to be rectangles, and many of them are the same width. I'd really prefer to cut the pieces out in strips using a rotary cutter if at all possible. For Amy's simpler patterns, I've traced the pieces onto template plastic and then cut around them, which has worked well, especially when I wanted a particular part of the fabric to show up on the front of a bag. The Messenger Bag pattern has far too many pieces for this to be a good solution. The pattern includes paper pattern pieces that are uses to cut out individual pieces from different parts of the fabric, on different folds. With heavy fabric I wouldn't want to cut through more than two or maybe three layers at a time, but I still think that a rotary cutter would speed things up and (for me) improve accuracy.

Also, many of the pattern pieces are two pieces in one--one large piece, and one smaller piece. Sometimes, the smaller piece is part of the larger piece, and sometimes it isn't--there's a lot of folding and lining up the pieces. While this cuts down on the total number of pattern pieces on the paper, it means that you can't just pin all of the pieces at once and then cut. Pin, cut, unpin, fold, pin, cut, unpin--clearly, cutting this pattern out requires a lot of concentration. Concentration that isn't necessarily available to me. Can you guess where I made my cutting error??? My third issue with this particular pattern is that the pattern piece for the strap is too wide for my 44" fabric, although that's the fabric width called for. This is another reason that I needed extra fabric--too much shrinkage in the fabric from washing. Washing probably wasn't strictly necessary, since I'm sure that I won't be washing the finished bag.


It's not really a good sign when, at this early stage in the project, the most satisfying part is putting the WIP in a box and tucking it under the cutting table. I'm best with sewing projects that can be started and completed in a few hours, and this is certainly not one of those. I do admit that I should probably spend a little more time with the pattern before I proceed, as the construction could contain as many pitfalls as the cutting. Hopefully, the finished product will be worth all of the effort!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Endpaper Mitts - Beautiful AND Delicious

And it tastes good, too!
Tastes Good!

The first Endpaper Mitt is done, and I like it a lot, although I'm not sure that I like it as much as Gretel. Yesterday, when I put it on after finishing, Frieda wanted to fight it in the same way that she fights with socks. It's adorable when puppies fight with socks, but it's slightly less charming in an adult dog who prefers that socks not walk around the house with my feet in them. I'll have to make sure that I don't leave the mitt(s) out anywhere. I'm still carrying around my Anemoi mittens with me everywhere I go, in case there's a sudden cold snap.

First Endpaper Mitt - palm

The mitt is quite snug on my big hands, it's just the angle of my wrist that makes it look baggy. The only thing that I don't think turned out well is the line of purl stitches that runs up the thumb gusset side. I'm not sure if I used a different "make one" technique than Eunny did, but I think it looks a little sloppy. I'll try to pay more attention to that on Mitt #2. I'm tempted to wear this mitt around solo, but I'm not quite sure that I can pull off that look. I used the same size needle for the ribbing and the colorwork, and the bottom ribbing is a little puffier than I'd expect, but fine.

Inside Endpaper Mitt #1 Here's the inside of the mitt. None of the floats are very long, but I'm still a little afraid of snagging on them. The inside looks pretty good, though--probably better than any other colorwork I've knit.

Under normal lighting, there isn't quite as much contrast between the colors in the mitt as in the photos--the difference is a little subtler. Which brings me to a song lyric using the word subtler--can anyone guess which band is responsible?

He's neat and discreet, he couldn't be any subtler / This is the story of my Rock N Roll Butler

Post your guesses in the comments, or e-mail me offline.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Monday, February 12, 2007

Ooooooh . . . . pretty

I'm no Brooklyn Tweed when it comes to photography, but I did get some lovely yarn in the mail last week:

Sundara Yarn - Toffee over Gold and Camo Sock Yarn

Sundara Yarn Sock Yarn in Toffee over Gold and Camo.

Sundara Yarn - Caribbean over Light Blue Sock Yarn

Sundara Yarn Sock Yarn - Caribbean over Light Blue

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Endpaper Mitt #1

I should probably be working on my Bohus Cuffs, but this week I started a pair of Endpaper Mitts:

Endpaper mitt #1

Recently I've spent some time in the office on weekends, when the building isn't heated, and a pair of these would really take the chill off while still allowing me to work on the computer. Of course, it's starting to feel springlike here and I don't regularly go in on the weekend, so I'm probably about a month late in making these. The yarn is GGH Merino Soft, which I've been using a lot lately--the lining for the We Call Them Pirates hat and the Beaded Cuffs both use this yarn. I like that it is very springy, and produces a nice, smooth fabric. The needles are Knitpicks size US2 (or maybe they're a big size 1--they seem very loose in my needle gauge). I'm paying attention to yarn dominance on these mitts, and I think that it is paying off--the black stitches look nice and crisp. The cuff is going to be snug on my thick wrists, but they are supposed to be close-fitting.

I've joined a new knitting blog ring, welcome to anyone who lands here from as a result! I sometimes mix it up with other crafts (don't be alarmed), but lately it's been all knitting all the time.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Finally Finished - Anemoi Mittens

I'm not sure if there's much left to say about the Anemoi mittens, except that they are finished!

Freshly Washed, and Drying
Here they are after washing--they are still wet here. It was hard to get them to lay flat and straight for the photo. They were not knit crooked! At least not as crooked as they look here.

The main color is Sundara Yarn sock yarn in Bittersweet, and the off-white is Dale Baby Ull. I love the slightly stripey color of the Bittersweet, and the dark sections give a velvety look to the corrugated ribbing.

Palms Up!The striping looks great on the palms, doesn't it? I think that the palms would have benefitted from a better handle on yarn dominance, although then the hands might have turned out lighter than I wanted. The two mittens are slightly different sizes and a little big, but not enough to be a problem. Next time, I may try using a US1 instead of a US2 for the main part, for a snugger fit. The pattern came with blank charts so that I could chart my own design, so I'm mulling over some possibilities. I love the swirls on Eunny's design, though!

Finished Mittens - On Hands

Here are the mittens in action--and by action, I mean modelled by my mom in the sewing room, while I awkwardly photograph them under the full-spectrum light.

Now all I need to do is figure out which is more important--wearing the mittens while driving, or having my fingers free to knit at stoplights.

Monday, February 05, 2007

The beret got smaller . . .

. . but I'm still never going to wear it. I've never worn, nor have I ever wanted to wear, a beret. Can someone out there (E___ G_____, I'm looking at you) tell me why I ever knit this thing? And/Or why I kept it for at least six years, unfelted?

I suppose I could save it and use it as part of a costume, or as an emergency gift. I had several people try it on, and it looks pretty stupid on all of them.

Here it is, post-felting (about six washes):

That's a bad hat

The Anemoi mittens are finished, but I'm getting a cold and don't have the energy to photograph them tonight. I tried starting a pair of fingerless gloves, but had to rip out the cuff because it seemed both sloppy and too small. Maybe I should stick to something basic until the fog clears in a day or two!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Everything's Coming Up Milhouse

Left Anemoi Mitten in progress

I finished the cuff of the left Anemoi mitten last weekend, and was making good progress until a couple of issues cropped up:
  • Yarn Dominance: No, this doesn't mean that these are dominatrix mittens. Would a dominatrix even wear mittens? It means that the pattern shows up differently depending on which strand of yarn you hold under the other one. I've been holding the brown yarn under the white yarn. The pattern looks better if I hold the white yarn under the brown yarn. How do I know? I tried it out, and the difference was significant. Rather than rip out 1.75 mittens, I ripped out 10 rows of better-looking knitting in favor of consistent knitting.
  • Pattern Stupidity: It's not the pattern, it's the knitter. After ripping out the 10 rows mentioned above, and re-knitting 4 of them, I realized that I'd made a mistake after putting the thumb on stitch holders and had omitted one of the vertical stripes that runs up the inside-side of the mitten. A very obvious mistake, so I had to rip out another 18 rows. I took the photos above after ripping these out--just in case I have to scrap the whole mitten.

I'm tempted to start something in stockinette on giant needles, just to feel like I'm making some progress!