Sunday, November 30, 2008

Cowl-ahooo, Werewolves of London

Ariosa Cowl

Right Side / Wrong Side, Fat Face, Artistic Cowl

This is one of the THREE new projects I started on Saturday . . . and yes, it's finished! I have a couple of ends to weave in, and then I need to wash it before sending it to it's final destination, but for all intents and purposes it's done. This is the Ariosa Cowl (Rav Link) from Twist Collective, and the yarn is (as called for in the pattern) Ariosa. The colors are black (duh) and balsam, which is a green that photographs more as a brown. It's a sort of khaki-ish, pineish, brownish green. Very wintry.

This yarn is really, really, really, really soft and lofty. It reminds me of one strand of Rowan Big Wool, but with 10% cashmere thrown in. Really--it's soft. On the negative side, it's also a little splitty/sticky, which made it difficult to correct errors and even to pull out my first cast on when I realized that I'd made a mistake. The pattern instructions are very good, and include a link to Nancy Marchant's website, which has a lot of useful info about the brioche stitch and is a great reference.

This was my first attempt at a Brioche stitch, and as such I had to pay more attention to the pattern than I expected. The first several inches are knit flat, which was the trickiest part for me--and of course the one or two errors that I made were right up front, on the "right" side. They would have been completely visible, and I didn't think that I could rip back to the mistake to correct it without permanently injuring the yarn. Instead, I made the "wrong" side the right side when I joined the cowl into a tube, because the errors could only been seen on one side of the fabric. This seems to have worked, enough so that I feel good about giving this as a gift.

I have enough yarn for probably two more of these, since I used about 1/2 of the green yarn and about 2/3 of the black yarn--hopefully, I'll have an easier time with the next one!


"Cowl-ahooo, Werewolves of London": my profuse apologies to Warren Zevon.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Crimson Hair Across Your Face


My error in aiming the camera looks artsy, no?

I know that I've got a bad habit of starting a new project every week, but I'm here to say that some of them will be finished. In this case, sooner rather than later--I started these fingerless gloves last weekend, and finished them this morning. I really like the way they turned out, and I think that the person I made them for will also like them. Quick, easy, pretty, warm--what's not to like? I wasn't sure quite how much mileage I'd get out of the yarn, so I used the "Small/Medium" size and where there were length options (such as with the cuff ribbing), I went with the shorter length. The final weight of these is about 40 grams, or 80% of the hank, so I could have been less conservative, but I don't think that they seem skimpy. My fingers are probably longer than the recipient, and fully stretched out above.

Time to move onto more holiday knitting--I think that I'll probably knit at least one more pair of these, but maybe I'll do something else in between. Like maybe more of what's felting in my washing machine right now . . . and that I should go and check on . .

Hope that everyone had a good Thanksgiving, and be careful out there if you're shopping! My shopping plans for today are minimal, maybe a trip to Renaissance Yarns and a delicious coffee later. Yummmm, coffee!
"Crimson Hair Across Your Face": Bob Dylan, You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Have a Wonderful, Relaxing Thanksgiving . . . .


. . . but don't forget that it's time to get started on the Christmas Cards!

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Ghost of the Scarlet Town Crier


Frosty Fingerless Glove Weather (note that the lace should be centered on my hand!)

I almost made it through the weekend without starting anything new, but the pressure of holiday knitting finally got to me. I figure that the more things I start, the more I'll finish when it comes to crunch time. Right? Right? Really, it's a matter of helping me map out what I really do want to get done, so that I'm not making things any harder for myself. I learned the hard way last year, when I started some things too late because I didn't have the right pattern / yarn / plan.

The mitts above are Kathy's Fingerless Gloves (Rav Link), I'm knitting them out of Blue Sky Alpaca's Alpaca Silk. It was trickier than I'd thought to find a lacy fingerless gloves that I could knit out of one skein of this DK weight yarn--there are lots of fingering weight versions, and a few lovely cabled mitts that use more than one skein. None of the local stores I checked with carry this pattern, but it's available online via Patternfish. I hadn't heard of Patternfish before, and was very glad to find it--I really didn't want to order this online, pay for shipping, and wait until after Thanksgiving to get these. I know that it would be easy enough to adapt another pattern for this yarn, but I was more in a get-it-done mood than a figure-it-out mood. Now I just need to get-it-done!

"The Ghost of the Scarlet Town Crier": John Wesley Harding, The Red Rose and the Briar.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mitten,You Got It Going On

Postwar Mitten

Notice I didn't say "MittenS". Just one mitten done, but in less than a week it still feels pretty fast. I'll cast on mitten #2 on Thursday or Friday, but I'm already thinking about color combinations for my next pair--there's a ton of that Baby Ull under my bed, waiting to be made into mittens!

The pattern comes with two options for the top of the mitten, a pointed tip or a rounded tip. I opted for the rounded tip (obviously). I was a little worried about the size as I was knitting, they felt a little big even though my hands are large. They might block out a little bigger, but they actually fit pretty well. If they were for me, I might make them a tad longer, but since they aren't for me, the fit should be perfect.

Even though it's a pain to sew up the picot edge, I really like the way it looks--it's a nice little detail, even on a mitten with a lot going on. Not as much as this guy, but still a lot.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I Turn it Around, and I Give it One More Try


I woke up still feeling uncertain about the orange in my Postwar Mitten. For a brief period of time I thought that a hot pink would be perfect, but I didn't want to buy more yarn for these mittens--I have a lot of this yarn already. So I dug out some red, gave it a try, and I am much happier with the results. I'm pretty sure that it's also Dale of Norway Baby Ull, I believe that I bought it for a February Baby Sweater (Rav Link) that has long since been abandoned. I'm a little alarmed by how purple these are, but I've got someone in mind for these who should really like the purple. I really like the colors of this yarn line--they're a great alternative to the pastels that were the main choice for baby knits when I first started knitting. The colors are bright and clear, and easy to combine (and the yarn is plenty soft, and not fuzzy--good characteristics for crisp stranded colorwork). I had some early tangles while juggling three skeins of yarn, so I transferred some of the red yarn to a bobbin for better manageability. I only use it every four rows, and the bobbin makes it easier to keep out of the way.

I'm not sure that I'll make much more progress this weekend--I want to switch over to one of the Raha Scarf for awhile, and tomorrow's another day packed with non-knitting responsibilities. Maybe I can sneak in a few rows here and there, though!

I Turn it Around, and I Give it One More Try: "Jacksonville", by Sufjan Stevens, from the album Illinoise. I've been listening to it a lot lately--it's a really interesting album, and I don't mean that in a detached, music-critic way. I mean that I've had the album for a few years, and I still notice new things when I listen to it.

Who Needs Sleep?


The new Twist Collective is up, and there's a lot of patterns to love. I'm up past midnight working on the cuff of the Postwar Mittens, the pattern comes with three different patterns for stranded mittens. These mittens are made with Dale Baby Ull, which is in my stash in spades--I went through a phase a few years ago where I thought I'd knit a bunch of delecate baby clothes on size zero needles. It was a phase that produced a single hat, and a lot of stash, so I was able to cast on as soon as I saw the pattern this evening. I'm not totally sure how much I love the orange here, so I'm going to take a break until tomorrow. Maybe more of the aqua would be better, or maybe a green (I've got three shades!) or maybe a red. Hmmmm. Any votes?

Monday, November 10, 2008

It's Like Magic

Raha Lace

I started the third repeat of the Raha Scarf on Sunday morning, and was starting to feel unimpressed by my work. Sure, the scarf is super soft, but why is it so scraggly? The photo on the left shows what I'm talking about--not scarf-y or lace-y, it basically looks like crap after 8 inches, even though I smoothed it out.

It's hard for me to remember when I'm knitting lace that the most critical part of the process come at the very, very end--once I pin out the scarf, it's 50% longer and looks much better. Whew! I completely expected this to look o.k., but I'm still relieved that it does. If I was hard-core, I would have wet-blocked this and used blocking wires in order to get the whole effect--straight edges, and possibly more give without a lot of distortion. I'd have to wait for this to dry before continuing, though, and I'm not that patient!

In other Malabrigo sock news, my Tizano Red yarn arrived, and it's my new favorite:


Must . . . not . . . wind . . . this . . . yarn. Yet.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

It Only Seemed Fitting . . .

Liberty This Week

. . . that I'd pick my Liberty Throw to knit on Election Night, 2008. Nevermind that the "Liberty" in the name is Liberty of London, and that neither the motif or colors are patriotic--just the name was enough. I've worked very little on this since I came back from Boston, and it's been nice to get back to. Since Tuesday involved a LOT of television watching, I made a lot of progress that night, and continued to knit a little on it every night (except Friday, when I was only thinking about Malabrigo sock yarn).

Working on it a little at a time is probably the best strategy for me, since it is a LOT of knitting, and it's going to take a long time to finish even if I work on it exclusively. The holidays are coming, there are a lot of things to knit between now and then! I'd hate to put it aside until after the holidays are over, and lose momentum. I'm still completely entranced by the colors, and right now I'm especially enjoying the new shapes that are forming as the first chart repeat flows into the second repeat. In a flash of patriotic fervor, I briefly thought that it would be wonderful to finish this by inauguration day, but as I have a full time job that I plan to keep, and a 0% chance of having any direct involvement in the inauguration, I'm going to return to a slow-and-steady strategy.

The next challenge with the throw is going to be working in a blue yarn of a different dyelot. I was (as you may remember) very impatient to start this, and I couldn't wait for the special-ordering of yarn to wait for a single dyelot. That means that for awhile (a long while, probably), I'll be alternating rows with the light blue, which increases by 50% the likelihood of logistical issues. The difference between the two dyelots isn't dramatic, but I'd rather alternate than end up with a wide stripe of slightly lighter or slightly darker yarn.

Here's a birds-eye view, with no dachshund interference, of the blanket thus far:


Rare Political Aside (since I mentioned the election): I'm very happy about the outcome of the Presidential vote, and very unhappy with some of the local / and not-local-to-me results, but most of all I'm happy that the election is over. I'm really tired of the nasty political ads, and of the snarky, spiteful comments that I've seen all over the internet from both sides. I'm also a little alarmed that I heard people on the news refer to the election as a "peaceful transfer of power", as if there was imminent danger of a NON-peaceful transfer of power here.

Long story short--I propose no more gloating and beating of dead campaigns by the winning side, and no more sour grapes and predictions of immediate doom by the losing side. If you would rather see Obama fail than see our economy, international standing, and quality of life improve, then you've got bigger problems than I can address here. Ditto if you think that the Obama presidency will be all sunshine, roses, and money raining down from the sky. There is a lot of hard work to be done in this country, and there's a lot of common ground about what we want as a nation--let's all start there, shall we?

Saturday, November 08, 2008

She's Golden but She's Green

Raja Scarf

Sometimes, when I've got a new knitting book on my mind, it's really hard not to start a bunch of new projects. Sometimes, when I get an interesting new yarn, it's also hard not to start something new immediately. So it was pretty much inevitable that I'd cast on a new project when three skeins of the new Malabrigo Sock yarn arrived yesterday. I thought that I'd cast on a new pair of socks (I did finish a pair recently, after all), but after ripping out a toe three times I turned to Nancy Bush's new book, Knitted Lace of Estonia and cast on the Raha Scarf (Rav link). I really like the modern feel of this pattern, which uses a single repeat of an estonian lace motif with a simple garter stitch border. I'm about a third of the way through the Navy Lace Scarf, which feels so much more traditional and girly that it's hard to believe they come from the same book.

The Raha Scarf is meant to be about 7" wide, but I think that mine will end up narrower. This yarn is pretty fine, and I want the solid parts to still be solid, so I probably won't block it out as aggressively as I'd need to for a 7" scarf. I may need to add repeats to get additional length, but there's plenty of yarn for that so it should be fine. This would be a great first-time lace pattern--not a lot of stitches, easy chart to follow, and a pattern where mistakes should be easy to detect early. None of those tricky nupps, either--just yarn overs, and single and double decreases.

About the yarn . . . . it's very, very, very soft, and the color is gorgeous & complex. The feel is very similar to the other Malabrigo yarns, but with twist--the thickness is more regular, and there should be less pilling. I'm interested in hearing how well socks made out of it wear--it doesn't feel as sturdy as other sock yarns, but knit at a finer gauge maybe it will be durable? I'm afraid that I went a little overboard with this yarn, pre-ordering two skeins from Webs (which I should have soon) and then these three from The Loopy Ewe:

Malabrigo Sock

Cote D'Azure, Lettuce, Chocolate Amargo

It's interesting to see how different the green looks in natural PNW rainy day light (the lace photo) vs. the way it looks in full-spectrum-lightbulb light (in the hank). The variation in the color is barely evident in the hank, but comes out nicely in the scarf. Overall, I think that the light-bulb photo looks more "accurate", but that's because I knit indoors with artificial light. Either way, it's a really nice green.

p.s. I'm officially embarassed by the number of projects in process that are showing up in my sidebar. I'm going to mark some of them as "hibernating" immediately!


She's Golden but She's Green: The Wonder Stuff, Golden Green. I saw this band maybe four times in 1991 or 1992. Let's not discuss the specifics--bad behavior was involved. Check out the video, but be warned--there's a LOT of early 90's bad hair & hats.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

And You Look so Pretty in Your New Lace Sleeves


Ever since last year's Estonian Lace class at Madrona, I've been waiting for Nancy Bush's new book, Knitted Lace of Estonia. Clearly, the book has arrived! It's full of projects that I'd love to knit, even some that are making me rethink my vow never to sew on another border like we did in class. I decided that given my other knitting (Liberty, anyone?) & non-knitting committments, this was not the weekend to start a GIANT project, so I'm starting with the Lily of the Valley Shawl (Rav Link). I'm using Baruffa Bollicina yarn in a dark navy blue. This yarn is 65% cashmere and 35% silk, but wasn't much more expensive than some plain wool options (assuming that the 3 balls I bought are enough--fingers crossed!). I was planning for a less conservative color since I've been using a lot of plain browns and blues lately, but this seemed like a more elegant choice than a repurposed sock yarn, and I couldn't quite land on anything else. Now that I've knit a ways with it, the color is growing on me, and the darkness hasn't been too much of a strain on my eyes while knitting at night.

More about the book . . . . it contains very detailed instructions for the stitches and traditional construction used in many of the shawls, but there are also a few less traditional techniques employed in some of the projects. I really like that approach--the book shows just how versatile and fresh the Estonian patterns can be, right next to the breathtaking traditional shawls. There's also a collection of charts at the back of the book that can be used to design other projects as well. There are at least four patterns that I'd like to knit (several of which I saw samples of at Madrona), but having the option to adapt other stitch patterns to a design is a really nice feature.

There's a little dog staring me down and crying as I sit at the computer, she wants me to go and sit with her in the living room. Time for more knitting (or napping)!

And You Look so Pretty in Your New Lace Sleeves: Elvis Costello, "New Lace Sleeves"