Sunday, December 30, 2007

A Little of This, A Little of That: Part 3


I've finished the child-sized companion to the Heart Monkey Hat I posted about a few days ago, although the child has not yet tried it on so I only have the above to show for now. I've written out the pattern (including charts) for both hats, and will post the pattern in the sidebar once I figure out the best way to do it. Can't wait to get started on your Valentine's Day knitting? A PDF of the pattern lives here (or at least I hope it does--this is my first try with this kind of thing).

For J___'s hat, I wanted something a little softer and bulkier (i.e. faster to knit) than I used for the monkey's hat. My LYS (Renaissance Yarns) had Louet Gems Bulky in red, but no bulky pink so I used Cascade 220 for the light pink. I think that the hearts would look more "solid" in the bulky, and once J____ has had a chance to try it on I might duplicate stitch the hearts if they need some extra heft. The Louet bulky has an almost cotton-y feel to it, although it's 100% wool--it's very nice on the hands.

In other news, the second Bird in Hand mitten is coming along just fine:


I'm past the challenging braids, and found that by NOT doing all three in the space of 12 hours basically elimates the hand cramping that plagued me on the first mitten. Imagine that! This has moved from a Christmas deadline to a mid-January birthday deadline (sorry, E____ G____, I'm not talking about you).

And last but not least, I cast on the second Stripey Sock, and the stripes look like they are lining up pretty well so far:


The new toe looks like it might have a row or two more of the teal at the tip of the toe, but I'm willing to live with that. I'll try to make sure that the heel hits at the same row, and it will all even out on the feet.

Friday, December 28, 2007

A Little of This, A Little of That: Part 2

More updates on miscellaneous projects (though unfortunately not more tiny mittens).

Heart Monkey Hat

I'm going to make you one of these for real if you don't hit next season, Ritchie Sexson.

My 2.5 year old friend J______ has a friend who goes everywhere with her. This friend is a red monkey with pink hearts, going by the name "Heart Monkey". Now that it's getting a little chilly, I thought that Heart Monkey could use a hat to keep warm. Like the tiny mittens, this worked up very quickly--not a lot of worry about gauge or anything. I charted the hearts, and will post the chart & pattern once I knit the companion child-sized hat--it's not fair if ONLY the monkey has a new hat! Heart Monkey's hat is knit in Cascade 220, but J____'s hat will be in something softer and with the colors reversed.

Yesterday evening, I bound off the first of the Stripey Socks, which I've been working on a little at a time since E______ visited over Thanksgiving. I really like the colors & stripey-ness of the pattern, although I still sort of wish that I'd chosen the red Kaffee Fassett Regia Sock yarn that E____ used, instead of the blues.

Stripey Sock1

The pattern is Renaissance Yarn's basic toe up sock pattern. The next challenge will be trying to start the yarn in basically the same part of the repeat, so that the socks will match exactly. Or maybe the next challenge will be locating the pattern, with my notes on it, which I seem to have misplaced. That makes the second pattern this week!!!! I'm losing things right and left!!!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Little of This, A Little of That: Part 1

So Christmas was fun, and the rest of the year looks like it will take care of itself. My New Year's plans include fighting off a cold that is trying to creep in, and finishing up some unsent packages, presents, and cards. In the spirit of tying up loose ends, the next couple of posts are going to be a jumble of updates / ramblings / manifestos. Or as some would call it, "the usual".

Although I've given (or will give) quite a few handmade gifts, I've only received one handmade item so far (not counting the gross acrylic hat my brother picked out of a charity hat collection as a gag gift), this beautiful scarf from L____:

Scarf from Laura

As much as I'd like to wear big wooly scarves, my delicate Nordic skin can't take it. The ends and middle neck of this scarf are an ultrasuede-ish fabric with zero wool content, so it isn't scratchy at all, and I love the patches of Minkee and raw silk combined with the cotton fabrics. I love it, and in the short time I've had it I've received several compliments. C_____ would like to know where that bird fabric came from!

In other gift news, the Christmas project that I've been knitting since October but haven't been able to blog about went over very well. Unfortunately, it's been too dark here to get a very good photo, so here's a not-fantastic photo of the whole thing:


It's Evelyn Clark's Shetland Triangle, from the book Wrap Style. I used two skeins of Sundara Yarn's Aran Silky Merino in Wine, with only a very small amount leftover. I really love this yarn, and can't wait for Sundara to start dying a lighter weight version of it. The pattern is very straightforward, with a structure similar to the Lace Triangle, so it didn't give me any trouble at all. I did forget to watch my yarn there towards the end, and had to rip back in order to start the edging earlier, but that was 100% user error. Here's a slightly better photo of a portion of the shawl:


I've wanted to make this shawl in this yarn since seeing Brooklyn Tweed's version, and I'm really glad that I did. I'm seriously thinking about adapting the fir cone pattern to make a stole for myself, which I think I'm a little more likely to wear.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas, and Wish You Were Here . . .

. . . to help me finish my Christmas cards!


(Really, they're New Year's Cards. So they might still make it in time. But I have a couple of other projects I could use some help with)

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Madness Continues


I gave away the entire first batch of mini mittens on Friday, but was able to replenish the stash over the weekend. Some of these will end up on the packages that still need to be wrapped, some will probably be given away tomorrow, and others may become part of my 2008 Mitten Master Plan. I'm still developing this master plan, along with some resolutions, but I can tell you now that it involves a lot of little mittens, and maybe some little socks, too.

Here's how the mittens look when they're feeling sinister:


Menacing, aren't they? If you're looking for the pattern, you'll find it here. It's very straightforward, requiring only tiny dpns and a very small amount of yarn. If you're a knitting ninja, you can attempt two at a time, magic loop style, like this pair on Ravelry. I knit two of this batch magic loop style, but one at a time and I wimped out and used dpns for the tiny thumbs.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Spoiler Alert: RSC Dec 2007

My final Rockin' Sock Club arrived today, and the colors are very nice. The colors look darker when wound than in the hank, more so than usual--either that, or I'm remember a spoiler hank (which could vary some from mine) rather than my actual hank. The pattern is interesting, as usual, but it's much too early to decide whether or not I'll knit it with this yarn. Click above if you want to spoil the surprise!

I'm a little relieved that this sock club is done. I'm tired of waiting for packages to arrive in Washington after they've arrived in Europe, and I'm tired of seeing the skeins of yarn pile up, mostly unknit, but overall I generally liked the yarns and patterns. There are a couple that don't suit me, but not any more or less than I expected going in.

The only place that the club really fell short for me was in the opinions expressed on the blog & in other places. I felt that some people over-emphasized the exclusiveness of the club (where are we, the USSR?), and some people posted fairly nasty messages when they were disappointed by the pattern or color. I really can't get on board with either one of those attitudes--one knitter isn't superior to another because of membership in a club, and part of joining a "surprise" club is that you might not love every surprise. Basically, I think that a vocal minority dominated the conversation, and not in a constructive way at all. I love the STR yarn, and there are plenty of non-exclusive colorways for those who will have our noses pressed up against the window next year.

Enough of my kvetching--I've got my December yarn, and I may have to break into it with a tiny mitten. There's no chance that the amount of yarn in a tiny mitten would prevent me from finishing a sock, right? Today I gave away the seven finished mittens, but knit another two this evening, and I hope to have replenished the tiny mitten stash over the weekend. It's the best way I know right now to avoid the spector of Christmas Card Failure (2007 edition).

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Mini Mitten Madness


WARNING: Do not start making Mini Mittens if you have anything left to finish up for Christmas. It's hard to stop knitting them, or I think it probably will be--I haven't tried it yet. In fact, I've been trying to figure out where I've stashed the rest of my sock yarn scraps. So far, I've dug out some Trekking (the 2 yellow-ish mittens), some Disco (the shiny blue mitten), and some Sundara (the blue with a red stripe. I've started mitten number six (leftover Socks that Rock in Olive Garden), so you'll excuse me if I cut this short!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

And I Won't Get Any Older Now the Angels Want to Wear My Red . . . . Mitten?

Krampus, Mozart, and Mitten

I'm not sure if our friends Mozart and Krampus are going to let the angels win on this one, though! I knit up this little mitten last night, it was fast and I've been looking for some ornaments to whip out in the next couple of days. The pattern is by Andrea Kopacek, and is available here. Go ahead and cast on--it won't take long to finish! I used yarn that came as a bonus in my last Loopy Ewe package (so I'm not exactly sure what it is), and size 0 bamboo Addi dpns.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Last Time You'll See My Booty

I love these colors, click only if you're prepared to spoil the surprise! Note that my photo came out a little bright-ish, but I'm too lazy to reshoot. Maybe this spoiler is more representative.

After six months in the Yarn Pirate Booty Club, I'm hanging up my scabbard for the time being. Overall, I've been very pleased with the club colors, especially these last two shipments. And maybe the first two, and maybe the two middle colors too. I'm not a huge fan of merino/tencel yarn, but maybe once I knit with it I'll feel differently.

So it's not you, Booty Club, it's me--I'm declaring 2008 a sock-club catch-up year, at least for now. I have a huge backlog from this year's clubs, and So only one more spoiler left in 2008 (the final Socks that Rock installment), and then it's time to actually knit some of this yarn.

Surprisingly, this wasn't the best thing that I got in the mail today--I had a little visit from Krampus, compliments of a friend in Vienna. In addition to some birch sticks to beat me with, he brought me Mozartkugeln, the made-in-Austria-not-Germany kind. Ahhhh, Mozartkugeln, how I've missed you! Almost as much as I've missed my Viennese friend.

It'll Roll With Me

Chevron Scarf Mosaic

It's time to finish some of the things that I've been sloooooowly working on for the holidays, and I did make some progress this weekend. Case in point--the Chevron Scarf. I started this back in May, and it's entirely unacceptable that it has taken me this long to finish. Seriously, it's only about 400 yards of yarn, and the pattern is simple and easy to memorize. But after the excitement of seeing how the colors mingle together and how quickly it grows in the first 10 inches, there's not a lot to look forward to for another 40 or so inches, so it drags out a little. During the summer in particular, it languished. But in the fall, it started to look good again, and it's been my carry-along project for awhile. The ends are woven in, but it still could use a good steam pressing (along with the first Chevron, another Christmas project that recently had its ends woven in). This is a gift for a friend who loves to accessorize, and who looks good in rich colors.

Here are the project details. I used Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport, in Red Rover and Pioneer (at least I think it's Pioneer), one skein of each. There's a little left over, but I didn't want to risk running out of the Red Rover before knitting the edges. I used size 8 knitpicks options needles, which were a little slick for a highly mobile project, but nice and pointy. The pattern is from Last Minute Knitted Gifts.

This is the 4th most popular scarf on Ravelry (the other three are free patterns), and in the top 20-ish patterns overall. Isn't knitting always a popularity contest? There are currently 828 Chevron Scarves on Ravelry, and 802 in queues waiting to be cast on. 365 Chevrons have been completed-no, wait--now it's 367. I can't tell for sure who has finished the most scarves, but my money is on Tiennie--she's finished three. Koigu and Socks that Rock are the most popular yarns used by far, and only 34 scarves used the yarn that I used. Isn't Ravelry awesome?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Baby Bird, Come Back Home


The right Bird in Hand Mitten is complete, and currently soaking in woolwash. I think I covered this in my earlier post about the mittens, but I'm using Cascade 220 on US #1 needles. I weighed the yarns after finishing the first mitten, and I used about 22 grams of the cream and about 39 grams of the blue--I didn't weigh the skeins before I started, so there could be some variation. It isn't super apparant in the photo, but the back of the mitten is a little lumpy--the palm is much smoother. I think that some of the lumpiness will block out, though, and even if it doesn't I'm not concerned.

After the hand was done (including some of the finishing because I wanted to see the picot edge), I was torn between knitting the thumb right away or casting on the left mitten immediately. I couldn't resist the pull of the bird:


The thumb took longer to knit than it should have--I basically spent all morning on it, the knitting itself should have gone much faster. That little bird kept me going, though! The embriodery is a little bit fussy, but it's not too difficult. I used two and three plys of the yarn (instead of all four) for most of it to try to get a crisper look, but I don't think that it made a huge difference.

I have a lot of complaints about my gnarled, cramped fingers after knitting the Estonian Braid, but I can't argue with the results:


I really love the way the first braid looks, right above the picot edge. It made it easier to sew up the picot edge, too--it was easy to see which row I was sewing to in relation to the braid. I'm not quite as enthusiastic about the other two braids--they look nice, and are an interesting design feature, but I could take them or leave them.

I've got a couple of other Christmas items to work on this week, but it's mostly boring stuff--weave in ends, wash / block, etc. Oh, and then there are Christmas cards, which I normally start in November, but haven't started yet. I suspect that the left Bird in Hand mitten will provide an execellent diversion from all of this!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Bird Fly High By the Light of the Moon

Bird in Hand in Progress

I know it looks like I'm knitting this a little tooooo fast (and my finger joints would agree with you). But really, I've been working, and shopping, and doing holiday prep stuff, and getting the same amount of sleep as usual. Although if I could stay up all night, I'd probably be able to finish the main part of the mitten, and possibly the adorable bird thumb.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

If I am Then Can I Just Fly Away?

So one way to battle Bee Fields Fatigue is . . .


. . . to start a new project. This is the right cuff of a new mitten, started last night. The pattern is Bird in Hand by Kate Gilbert, the yarn is Cascade 220, the needles are size 1 Addi Lace. This project started so fast that I'm still not totally sure what happened.

The timeline (Pacific Time) went like this:

5 pm: I see this post mentioning that the Bird in Hand Mittens are a popular outgoing link from Ravelry. I check out the post, and photos of the mittens in progress.

6:30pm: I purchase pattern (and this one too!), plan to start them after Christmas.

8:30pm: I wind a skein of blue yarn that I was planning to use for felted clogs, and dig out a skein of off-white yarn, and cast on.

10:30pm: My hands are cramped and twisted by the first two Estonian braids. I decide that I should stop knitting for the evening.

Midnight: I stop knitting.

Sunday, 7:45am: I start knitting again.

I think that these mittens will make a great gift, and at this pace (which my gnarled joints can't possibly keep up) will be finished quickly. The mittens are dense (size 1 needles + worsted weight yarn!), but that also means that they will be really warm. I have some other holiday prep on the docket today, and my hands really can use a break, but I'm now three rows into the main pattern and am itching to get back to the bird.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

To See the Frog Eat the Goggle-Eye Bee


As I've been working on the Bee Fields Shawl over the last couple of weeks, I've felt like I'm really cooking on this project. Sure, the rows are really long, but I haven't had to rip back or perform any MacGyver maneuvers to keep up with the pattern. I was ready to start the third section a couple of days ago, and figured that I'm entering the home stretch--last section, right?

Wrong. Using Jessica's shawl calculator, the shawl is only 52.6% completed after 161 rows. Skeptical, I decided to recalculate using the number of stitches in each row--I started with 27 stitches, and increase 4 stitches each row. Using this method, the % complete isn't much different (54.9%), but that extra 2% makes me feel better. Now, 5 rows later, I have my first giant bee and I'm 58.1% complete. I like that giant bee, although I'm not totally used to the new pattern yet. I still really like the pattern, and I really like the yarn, but I'm getting a little tired of looking at it. I purchased some Lime & Violet sock yarn recently from the Loopy Ewe, and although it's very nice (and called Sasquatch--who can't get behind that?) I have no desire to knit it. I realized this morning that it's because it's very close in color to the Tupelo Gold of the Bee Fields Shawl. See?


It's not you, Sasquatch . . . it's me.

I think that I'll have to put it away for awhile (a loooong while), or trade it with someone else for a different color. It's a shame, though--it's the first time I've managed to get any of this yarn, and I should have picked a different color.

P1040960Now that I've realized that this isn't "almost done", I should focus more on some holiday knitting. There aren't a lot of things I'm knitting for Christmas this year, and I've been gradually completing things over the whole year. I still have finishing to do on many of the projects, though. My secret project is nearly finished, I'm including the photo on the right to give you a peek at the color to give this blog entry a more festive feel--not all green! The poppy socks are meant to be Christmas gifts as well, but I haven't been working on them much lately. Time to pick up the pace (or decide to finish them at my leisure, for myself).

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Better Than Knitting Photos . . .

. . . are photos of the yarn from Spincycle Yarns that I bought today at Urban Craft Uprising:


Blue-Faced Leicester handspun, color: Ruination


Merino/Silk handspun, color: Antique Glass

There has been plenty of knitting lately, but nothing new or close to completion (and not enough good light for pretty photos). It's time to start on other Christmas crafts, too--cards, especially. Now that the heat is back (new furnace), I don't have that as an excuse so I should really get cracking. I'm using a New Year's theme this year after a couple of years of Christmas-y colors, so that will buy me an extra week to finish up!