Thursday, March 31, 2011

Another Adorable Baby Blanket

As I mentioned a week and a half ago, I recently committed myself to making a couple of baby blankets. Initially I was going to make two of the same blanket (the shale lace blanket I showed off last week) but my mom and sister were so enamored of Jared Flood's Tweed Baby Blanket (ravelry) that I decided to make one of each, instead. In retrospect, I'm glad I did. While I love the first one, I was a bit tired of doing the same thing over and over by the end of it, and making a second blanket the same might have put me over the edge.

The classic Shetland construction of this one is perfect for cleansing the palate: first you knit a big garter stitch square (from one corner to the opposite corner) which is so easy and meditative that it's heavenly. Then you pick up stitches along the four sides and do some lace. It just so happens that this lace changes colours every four rows, which definitely inspired me to keep going and do a full repeat (or two or three) every day.

Once again, the acrylic means that I can't block it quite the way I'd like to (sorry Jared) but it still looks great. The only thing I might change is the attached i-cord edging. I upsized one needle size to do it, but it still seems a little bit tight. Perhaps going up another size would have helped, or doing some more unattached rows of i-cord at the right places to follow the curves of the lace.

Once it was off the needles, I wasted no time in getting back to the springy fingerless mittens I've been hankering for. They are nearly done, so I'll show you those, soon.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sweater for Wee Doggy

My family got a new puppy a week and a half ago. Just look at that face. He's a miniature schnauzer, so he's very tiny, too. He will grow to be a bit bigger, and a bit hairier, but for now: tiny and adorable.

My parents just happen to be one of those frugal "let's save money and energy and keep the heat turned down to the point of shivering" types of families. Perhaps that's why I learned to love wool so much. In any case, I can only imagine how poor little Gryphon must be shivering as he trots adorably around the (fancy brand new) tiles in that house. I mean, he would be, if he weren't being carried everywhere, and held in the crook of a warm elbow all day.

Anyway, when they suggested I knit him a sweater, I couldn't say no. (Look at that face!) I grabbed some leftover wool and needles and found a perfect simple pattern on Ravelry and cast on.

Because he is so wee, I was done in no time flat -- though not before I realized that all three people living in that house with him also know how to knit, so how how is it that I'm the one who got nominated to make this sweater?

In any case, it's worth it, to get a few more cute photos of the puppy. As you can see, it's a bit big, but don't we always make something for babies to grow into?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Shale Baby Blanket

My name is Rhonda and I am a yarn snob.

I might as well come clean about it, now, because I've recently taken on knitting two baby blankets, and bumped up against the place where luxurious knits meet family-friendly knits. If it were my choice, I would knit Jared Flood's baby blanket patterns in a yarn that's cloudy and wooly and tweedy, and then handwash and block the heck out of them to create a work of art.

Instead, I have to actually consider the moms who will be using and washing these blankets. They will want to just throw them in the washing machine every time the baby gets it messy (whether with food or barf or something worse) so a luxurious heirloom in hand-wash-only wool isn't really reasonable. One option would be to find a superwash wool to make it with, but aside from being a bit more expensive, the options I found for superwash worsted-weight didn't appeal.

The obvious choice is simple and inexpensive and easy to find: 100% acrylic.

When I started knitting, I used acrylic almost exclusively. It was a while before I discovered the wonder and perfection of wool and other natural fibers. Over the years, I've obviously become a yarn snob, since I don't even want to admit I made this blanket from acrylic. Sadly, I can't really block it, so the lace, while lovely, will never quite be as beautiful as it could be, were it washed and stretched out flat and opened up. Nevertheless, I am very satisfied with this blanket, and I think the recipient will like it, too. I am hoping that it will be barfed on and snuggled up to and carried around until even workhorse acrylic can't hold up to the abuse.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Snowflake Mittens

In case the last few posts have left you thinking that I'm only making socks, here is a completed pair of mittens to dispel that notion.

I'm sure that I've mentioned before that these are mittens based on a traditional Norwegian pattern. Decades ago, I had a penpal in Norway, and she sent me a pair of mittens for Christmas, one year. They were red and white (the negative-image of these ones, with red where I have white and white where I have blue) and warm sturdy wool, and I wore them for years. By the time they started to show some real wear and tear, I had learned to knit, so I got out some graph paper and sketched out the pattern. I've made several pairs since then, including one for myself out of red and green alpaca, and they lasted for years, as well. A few months ago, I discovered a hole at the end of one finger, and decided maybe it was time to make a new pair.

The alpaca I used before was Andean Treasure from Knit Picks, and the mittens were so soft and warm that I decided to stick with the same yarn. This time I went with a blue and white, and decided to reverse the dark and light colours to make the snowflakes white and the background blue. I am very happy with how they turned out, especially since the weather was so cold for so long. Thankfully it's warming up, now -- soon I'll get to put these away and enjoy the warm weather, but they'll be ready for me next winter, to keep me warm again.

I decided while I was knitting them that I should write up the pattern and post it as a freebie on Ravelry, so other people can also enjoy this simple and lovely mitten pattern. I would love to see some of you make some, though I hope you won't really need a pair until next winter.

download now

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Haleakala Socks

Time has gotten away from me, a bit, and I realized that I'm going to have finished projects piling up around here, if I don't start posting about them. Don't get me wrong -- I'm still up to my elbows in yarn and working on a dozen things at once (with even more ideas waiting in the wings that I'm trying to get around to.) What I really need is a month or two away from work, so I can really make some progress on my ever-growing queue. (Note to self: start buying lottery tickets.)

This is a pair of socks that I made last week. They flew off the needles, because it was a relatively simple pattern in a luxurious soft cashmere-blend. They represent the first shipment of Cookie A's sock club, which I have to admit I signed up for almost immediately, when I saw her announcement at the end of last year.

The club offers two sock patterns, along with two cookie recipes, every two months. Of course it also includes a skein of sock yarn to knit the socks. February's shipment was Caper sock yarn from String Theory, which you can see is dyed a spectacular colour, including shades of my favourite teal.

Of the patterns offered, I chose the simplest one -- mostly because it is the most beautiful, in my opinion, but also because I was ready for a relatively simple sock. I say "relatively" only because somehow I never managed to memorize the eight-row lace panel. Usually by the heel of the first sock (or definitely by the beginning of the second sock) I'll have the design memorized and can carry on without the paper pattern, but this one just wouldn't stick, for some reason. Other than that, it was a basic top-down sock, as is Cookie's standard.

The back of the leg is 2x2 rib, which was a bit boring to knit by the time I reached the heel and stockingette sole, but other than that, it was quite an enjoyable knit. I have a bit of the yarn left, so I will even be able to make a few hexagons for my slowly-growing sock yarn blanket.

I regret to inform you that there are no photos of the delicious chocolate chip pecan cookies, since they were eaten, long ago. Actually, I don't regret it at all.