Thursday, May 21, 2009

Quiet Moments

I generally like my life to be calm and comfortable... what can I say: I'm a Taurus. Sometimes life can be crazy for a while (like if your noisy messy workplace renovations are coming to a middle, and your home is a maze of boxes because you're moving to a new bigger place...) but there is always sanctuary -- a quiet corner with a cup of tea and some knitting.

In the past few days I have turned this:

into this:

I'm pretty happy with the progress. This piece is the right side of the cardigan. The section at the bottom of the photo is the sleeve, and the sections jutting out either side are the front and back. (Yes, it's a bit of an unusual construction.) I am alternating two balls of yarn at this point because shortly after I did the increases to make the front and back sections, I noticed that the number of stitches was just enough to make the stripes start to pool. You can see on the top photo that I was getting most of the lighter colours on one end (the front?) and most of the darker colours on the other. I started another ball of yarn with the light/dark in opposite places, to try to minimize the contrast. Seems to be working. I have several more inches of brainless garter stitch before I need to worry about any sort of neck shaping. Thank goodness, because more complications are really unnecessary in my life right now.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I Am So Tired

I don't have much to share today -- it's been a loooong work day, but it ended with me getting a free coffee at my local Sbux, so I feel the gods are on my side, after all. (Thank you, gods, for sending a soul-renewing barista my way.)

I just found this amazing tutorial for making a wooden cup (via WhipUp on my sidebar) and had to share it, in case all y'all don't constantly click everything on my sidebar all the time like I do. If you don't desperately want to make one of these cups immediately upon seeing it, you are a soulless monster.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Knit, Knit, and ReKnit

It's snowing outside. Can you believe it? I'm distracting myself with some good knitting.

Ever since the latest Drops patterns came out online, I've been coveting one sweater in particular. Unfortunately I have been on a yarn diet for a while, as I try to knit my stash down to a reasonable level, so I couldn't buy the yarn I need for the cardigan.

Then my birthday came. I got some cash (which will help me pay off my extravagant loom purchase) and some yarny gift certificates. Still waiting for yarn in the mail from one of them, but the other one was for my LYS, so I spent it forthwith, on the yarn I needed for this cardi. Instead of the Drops Fabel sock yarn the pattern calls for (they just didn't have any nice colours of that yarn) I went with some slightly pricier Supersocke yarn in a colour that is so me. You will also notice some alpaca for the edging of the sweater, and a Norah Gaughan pattern book and row counter bracelet in that pile of swag. It was a good trip to the store.

Having finished my socks in record time, I started swatching for the sweater. I did a generous swatch with US4s and frogged it, then did another generous swatch with US5s and got gauge. I frogged the second gauge swatch, cast on the sleeve and knit four or five inches, and realized that the pattern suffers from a common problem with large sized sweaters: the sleeves are voluminous well beyond necessary. I find that it is often the case with sweaters that are in multiple sizes -- the designer adds inches to the sleeve along with inches to the bust/body of the sweater, and big girls like me end up with sleeves that are unreasonably flappy (albeit good at camouflaging jiggly upper arms.) So I frogged the beginning of the sleeve, and cast on one last time with 14 fewer stitches, which seems to give me a more reasonable sleeve. Since the cardigan is knit in only two pieces, the right half from side-to-side and the left half from bottom front to bottom back, it will be more tricky than usual to make alterations, but I think I'm up for it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Rogue Roses Socks

For the second shipment of the Rockin' Sock Club, we got a pattern by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee and a skein of mediumweight Socks that Rock in a colour called Gertrude Skein (ha ha.) I have to admit that I didn't take to the colour right away -- on certain days, in certain light, I loved it, with its nice rosy shades. On other days, and in other light, it looked like muddy greens and orangey oranges. Not my favourites. One of the great things about the Rockin' Sock Club is that it can get you out of the comfort zone of only working with the same colours all the time. I kept an open mind and just looked at it on my coffee table for a month or so while I worked on other projects, and once I finished my Red Ruffle shawl, I cast on for the socks.

They went very quickly (maybe because it's a mediumweight sock yarn, or maybe because I had just finished a project with 2200 stitches on the needles, so 64 stitches is like chump change.) The first night, I did the cute little hem at the top with its adorable picot edge. In a day and a half, I was three-quarters of the way through one sock. Then I realized that the foot was not as snug as I'd like, so I ripped it back through the heel flap and used a smaller needle (US2 instead of US3) for the heel flap and foot. Much better.

Despite that setback, it still took me just over a week to finish the socks. It could be because it was fun to do the Rogue Roses stitch, which you can see makes little rosebuds every now and then. Added benefit of the rosebuds: they break up pooling that the yarn was trying really hard to do, especially in the foot of the sock. I could see as I went that if it weren't for that stitch using up yarn every six rows, I would have had some serious colour pooling and striping in the foot. Yay for funky stitch patterns!

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Slow Progression of Lizard Ridge

Once I finished Clapotis, I needed some simple projects for pub knitting (since complex ones tend to get buggered up when beer gets involved.) I pulled out a bunch of projects from my stash that will work perfectly. The first place I started was doing a couple more blocks for my Lizard Ridge blanket, with some Kureyon that's been sitting patiently waiting. These two put me up to the halfway mark on the blanket. Another year or two and I will have this one done.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Red Ruffles Shawl & Springtime Skirt

Finally I got some pictures of the completed shawl, today. Despite being fairly warm weather, it's cloudy and/or rainy, so the photos had to be taken indoors.

As with all lace shawls, this one is transformed once blocked; the lace pattern really opens up and the design is revealed. It is really light and airy, just barely there, since it's alpaca. The ruffle is flirty and girly and really does move when you move. You'll have to see it in person.

I ended up using just three skeins of the five skeins I bought -- now I have to think of something to do with the last two... or just give them away so I don't have to think about it. Funny thing -- the first two skeins got all the way through the lace portion of the shawl, and the third was used completely in the ruffle. Ah the ruffle, what a test of patience.

I also thought I'd take this chance to show off the white springy skirt I made this week. I've had this fabric for yonks (it was one of the ones I used for borders and backing on a quilt years ago) and finally cut it out and sewed it. I've used the pattern before, and like it because it's super simple to make but also flattering -- the skirt has a yoke which keeps it fairly fitted to the hip, and then flares out from there.

Meantime, I have gotten about three-quarters done a sock, as well, but realized that it's a smidge too big, so I will rip it back to the ankle and redo the heel and foot with a smaller needle. Photos soon.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Totally Worth It

The shawl is off the needles, after a hand-cramping evening of casting off. Of course it took many hours to do so, and I was starting to panic about running out of yarn on the skein I was using (not that I didn't have another skein left over, but it was unwound, and I didn't relish the idea of winding a new ball just to finish the cast off row.) After all my worry, I had just enough to finish. It looks great; the ruffle itself is super ruffly and awesome, totally worth the time and effort, in the end. It seems smallish, but once I block it, it will grow substantially. After all, I always take Elizabeth Zimmermann's advice to "block shawls severely." Photos will follow.

For now, I'm going to have a relaxing bath and catch up on some reading.