Friday, December 31, 2010

Also on the Needles

I do have a couple of little projects on the needles, as well, for some instant gratification knitting. Unfortunately I have so many projects on the go that nothing is really very "instant" anymore.

I got this Tanis Fiber Arts blue label sock yarn in a sock club a couple of years ago. It is a colourway that she doesn't normally dye, called In the Navy. Really more of a royal blue with a bit of navy in it. I tried it first with the Tern socks from Twist Collective, but the pattern got lost in the variegation of the yarn, so I ripped them back and decided to try one of Cat Bordhi's different sock architectures. These particular ones have a little slit in the back of the cuff, which is perfect, since it will give my calves a bit more breathing room. I could also fold the cuff down on one side, in a jaunty way, but really, who needs their socks to be that jaunty?

The socks have been hibernating since I started my two cardigans, but I picked them up last night and enjoyed knitting a bit more of the leg.

Not quite done in time for the holidays, I began a lightweight little scarf in a candy cane stripe. I had some leftover laceweight in both red and white that I've been loath to part with, so when I got the idea of knitting a scarf in thin little stripes on the bias like a candy cane, I thought it was ingenious. Again, I got too distracted to finish it in time to wear it for this year's holiday season, but I'll put a few more hours into it and block it and it will be ready for next year.

Not to forget that there is another pair of socks on the needles, but they are pretty stalled, as well. I really need to get them finished, too. I am displaying a lack of self-discipline that doesn't bode well for my future career as a knitwear designer, you know?

Well, you can probably guess what I'll be doing all night, tonight, while watching a movie marathon. Or maybe a Misfits marathon...

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

On the Needles

I noticed that I've been getting lazy about showing things that I'm working on. A few of them are big projects, and I always try to wait for them to be photogenic before I post something. Sometimes they aren't really photogenic until they are finished, though. Here are a few candid photos of what I have on the needles, right now.

The latest shawl in progress, the Bridgewater shawl by Jared Flood. It has a garter stitch square for a center (very meditative and enjoyable) that is knit diagonally from one corner to the opposite corner, with increases and decreases along the sides to shape the square. Then you pick up a border around the edges of the square, and knit a lace border. I'm at that part of the pattern, which is why it looks like an amoeba. I admit I haven't been working on it much, of late. There are a couple of other things that are taking up my attention.

One of those is a plain stockingette cardigan in black and boysenberry stripes. I had some black worsted wool in my stash, but only half what I needed to make myself a sweater. Of course I immediately thought of using it with another colour, doing a nice wide stripe on a basic cardigan, and got some yarn in this beautiful boysenberry colour to cast on. I'm using EZ's percentage system from Knitting Workshop, and making a steek up the front to cut apart into a cardigan after knitting the body. I am also going to use her formula for circular set-in sleeves to see how that works. And I'm "complicating matters" with a v-neck, as she puts it. "The techniques are simple, but would gum up directions for your first circular set-in sleeve to an intolerable degree." I do love complicating matters.

The other large project I'm working on is another cardigan, the Traveling Sweater that all the Blue Moonies are in love with. This one is a more interesting construction: short row wedges that form a circle of ribbing, with sleeves and upper-back knit separately and attached. I am just past one-fourth of the circular ribbing. It's simple enough, and the yarn is soft and lovely wool/bamboo. I'm still enjoying it, but I might be cursing 2x2 ribbing in another week or three.

Well, those are the big projects. I will show you the smaller ones, too, one day soon. Maybe even a finished one. Well, I can dream, anyway.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Sunshine Plaid Towels

Just in time for holiday gifting, I finished my towels. There were three in total, and on Sunday night, I finished the weaving, zigzagged the hems, cut them apart, sewed the hems down, machine washed them, and then ironed them partially dry before laying them flat to dry overnight. Then on Monday morning, I folded one up and gave it away. Phew. The other two will be going to new homes, as well, which means I still won't know, firsthand, how well they will work to dry dishes. I will have to trust others' opinions on that, at least for now. I believe I mentioned previously that I have more of the cotton/linen blend that I will make more towels with, sometime soon. Perhaps I will keep some of those to try them out.

After washing, the fabric softened up and fluffed up, and now it has quite a nice soft hand. The selvedges evened up a bit, too, which is nice. While I was weaving, the warp threads along either side of the cloth were looser than the ones in the middle (despite me trying to fix this prior to weaving.) I was worried that the selvedges would end up wobbly because of it, but they looked okay off the loom and even better once washed. As per usual, finishing can hide many errors.

There were a few errors, alas, that I noticed on the underside of at least one of the towels, where a few warp threads were skipped and left a little block of threads. I think it gives the towels character. It certainly proves they were handmade.

My biggest lesson with these towels was in changing weft colours (and frequently.) I mostly just wove in the starting tail in the next shed, but left the finishing tails hanging. I am a bit worried about it, since I don't know how well the cut ends will stay in place. I certainly don't want them developing holes along that selvedge, especially as they are gifts. I am placing my trust in more experienced weavers, who say that it will work out.

Overall, I did enjoy this pattern. The repetitive nature of the blocks kept me wanting to weave Just One More, and they also gave a way to gauge how far I had woven, without the fuss of trying to measure the cloth before it wound around the beam. I will, however, be taking a break from plaid to go back to something simpler (one colour in the warp, one in the weft) for some little facecloths in the leftover cotton/linen. I am going to sample a few patterns I invented, and see how they turn out. Then maybe back to the plaid for that woven blanket I had planned...?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Woodruff Mittens

I have a pair of mittens that I have been wearing every day in winter for a few years now. They are stranded sportweight alpaca, knitted in this Norwegian mitten pattern that I copied once from the real deal. Unfortunately a few weeks ago, these mittens developed a little hole at the end of one of my fingers. I could darn them, but frankly, it's been a few years and I'm ready for a little change. By "little", I mean that I am actually going to knit the same mittens in the same yarn but with different colours. I know, I'm off the rails this time. Before I take on that project, though, I wanted a quick pair of worsted weight wool mittens to keep my exposed finger warm for the time it takes to knit another pair of stranded alpaca ones. I mean, with the rate I am being distracted by casting on for shiny new projects, it might be a while before they're finished.

A couple of weeks ago at our coffee shop knit night, I took some pink worsted weight and started a free pattern from Ravelry. Two or three inches after the cuff I decided that they weren't the right ones, and I frogged them back completely to try something else. Like everyone else, I have been watching Jared Flood's blog to watch the pretty photos of his latest patterns in his beautiful new yarn. I decided to give his Woodruff mittens a whirl, with the pink Ella Rae Classic that I had selected from my stash. A week later, I was very happily wearing them. The only thing I changed was to add a couple more purl welts to the wrist, to make it a bit longer, safely tucked into my coat.

I love the look of the bobbles and twisted stitch cables, and the moss stitch palm and thumb are tactile and comfortable. The weather has been mild and they have been warm enough, but certainly nothing compared to the stranded alpaca mitts I'm used to. I'll have to get to those, right after I finish my shawl... and that cardigan... and the other cardigan... and those socks... oh, and the other socks... Yoiks, I'd better get to it.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Unselfish Hat

Despite my generally selfish crafty nature, every once in a while I get a soft spot in my heart for someone who requests an item from me, particularly if it's a quick and simple project like a toque.

A year ago, one of my coworkers asked me for a hat. I asked for specifics, and he said he'd think about it. A week or so ago, he finally sent me a photo of a hat and said he wanted that one. I got some appropriate yarn (elann's Peruvian Highland wool, one of my staples for worsted weight wool) and knit it up.

It's just a really basic hat, with about an inch of 1x1 rib at the bottom and then stockingette stripes: 4 rounds natural, 4 rounds green, 4 rounds natural, 1 round brown.

Simple, easy, done.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Baking Whoopie

Suddenly today I had a craving for whoopie pies. They've been all over blogland for ages, but today they got in my head and wouldn't go away. I did some internet searching to find a recipe that I liked, and I found this one at the Omnomicon which is apparently an old family recipe. A bonus of being a bakerly type person is that I have all that stuff in my apartment, at the ready, and nothing keeping me from combining them into some fluffy little treasures.

In no time flat, I had made some perfect little round cakey cookies and a bowl of creamy sweet filling and sandwiched them all together. I might have eaten one before the rest were all assembled. Just what the doctor ordered. I mean, if the doctor was PMS. Which it is.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Futurella Quilt

I know it's been the better part of a year since you last laid eyes on the Futurella quilt -- what can I say? Some projects move slower than others, chez crafty.

I had the top sewn together by the summer, but didn't get around to adding the borders until fall, and then a couple of weeks back, I finally laid it all out and basted and quilted it and put the binding on. Finis.

It is already gone to the recipient, or I would have taken some more close up photos, to show the border fabrics (a deep pink animal print, a matching yellow animal print, and a greyish green hexagon print) and the pretty backing fabric (white with little pink polka dots.) It came together pretty well, and fluffed up nicely after a washing.

I'm not completely satisfied with the way the hexagons are laid out, in the end. I think I could have done some more rearranging to improve it. It's my own fault, for not leaving it up for a few days (or a week) while I was in the planning stages. It's always good to mull it over, rather than just deciding it's done. Or maybe I'm just a perfectionist.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sunshine on the Loom

I decided a while ago to try my hand at weaving some dishtowels, so I found a draft on Webs and ordered the yarn to go with it, thinking I might give them away for the holidays.

The yarn is a nice cotton linen blend, so hopefully will make for nice thirsty towels, but I won't know that until I finish them and get them off the loom to give them a try. It's the first time I've woven with a linen blend, and I'm liking it so far. Linen can be tricky to weave with, apparently, especially in a pure linen yarn, since it is stiff. This yarn is half cotton and half linen, and while it has some of the stiffness and scratchiness of linen, it also has a lot of the softness and ease of cotton, so I am having a pretty easy time of it.

I chose four colours -- a nice bright yellow for the background, with red and orange and blue stripes. I was aiming for some bright primary colours to make some happy towels. The orange turned out to be a bit too close to the red (in the photo, the orange is the wide stripe on the side, and the red is in the narrower stripes. Clearly they are awfully close.) I'm also not so sure about putting the blue through the middle of the orange stripes. When it comes to colour planning, live and learn. Other than that, I think the design is turning out to be what I wanted -- happy and stripey and cool.

I am over halfway done the first of three towels. If they turn out well, I may just tie on another warp and make another set using some different colours. Or I may try something completely different, instead.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tiny Sweater

At my workplace, there is currently a contest to make ornaments for the staff Christmas tree, with some undisclosed prize to be given to the winner. I don't have much of a competitive nature, but I have a lot of a crafty nature, so I spent my coffee and lunch breaks for a few days working on a tiny little green sweater for the tree. I used some leftover KnitPicks Stroll on US1 needles and cast on 48 stitches around for the body. It ended up about three inches across, which is what I was aiming for.

I put three little cables up the front and back just for some interest, and made a little turtleneck collar, which is perhaps not quite tall enough to call a turtleneck, but who's counting.

I think it turned out pretty cute, and it definitely looks great on the tree -- bring on the competition!