Sunday, December 30, 2007

It was delicious, even the green one

Everything on this plate was spectacular and delicious, given to me by a friend. Still have chocolate and shortbread up the wazoo.

And, there was enough yarn for the vest except for the armbands which I did in a complementary colour of Heilo. Now I will get on to finishing the Warm Orenberg shawl I've been working on for some months.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Must think creatively

Sweater body found in back of cupboard was probably thrust there in disgust during past Xmas frenzy. There isn't enough yarn even to finish a sleeveless pullover.

If I could find some yarn that will blend with this, I could do a fair isle pattern across the chest and use the last of the King Cole Merino Blend DK on the shoulders. It's superwash. What would do? Heilo, er, help?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Xmas knitting back on?

I'm so excited! I've just had a windfall.

I was feeling around in the back of a cupboard this evening and came up with a half finished adult sized sweater body knit in the round up to the armholes. King Cole Merino DK. Knit, knit, knit...yay!

I pretend not to do Xmas knitting, but I think it's just a ruse to prevent myself from getting into a state of frustration and last minute frenzy.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

What's in a name?

I haven't written here since the beginning of November. So hard to get near the computer at home, but I'm off for the day and I have the time to write and knit. Hooray!

The (Maximalist) Minimalist Cardigan lies in a heap on the ironing board. It is finished. Blocked, sewn and ironed. I am still in the denial phase. I'm telling myself that maybe it doesn't fit because I accidentally knit one size too big. This is true. But maybe it's because I didn't set the sleeves in right...or, it just occurred to me now - maybe I knit the back in one size and the fronts in a smaller size! No. I can't bear it. This will have to be a story for another day.

After the sweater disaster, I got down to knitting hats for our guild's community knitting effort. I had promised to knit some small hats in dark colours so gosh darn it, that's what I did. I knit two plain tuques in black Cascade 220, all the while thinking about Jared Flood''s (cool-ass) Koolhaas Hat from IK Holiday 2007. 

Rationalizing about community knitting and chastened by the (Maximalist) Minimalist, debacle I knit my first Koolhaas in Canadiana Sayelle (cost - 49 cents at the Sally Ann). The Yak called for by the pattern appears only in my dreams and is also apparently beyond the realm of the practical for many others. Many people have been knitting this hat in Cascade 220. A few have mourned that their hats turned out too big. Say no more! I worked out that this pattern is based on repeats of 8 stitches. I cast on 88 stitches instead of 104 or whatever it is and had at it.  I produced a very nice navy blue hat for a toddler and set out to take a few photos. 

Wouldn't fit on on my head. Looked stupid on bowls. But look what a good cosy it would make for a large sized margarine tub!

Cosy you say? How about this cool-ass tea cosy! Thus a new bit of slang has entered into my vocabulary.

Inspired, I got out the remaining skein of black Cascade 220 from the stash and, after looking carefully at the pattern, cast on the requisite number of stitches. I switched from dpns to a circular need sized 4.5 mm. I've already done the ribbing plus two of 4 pattern repeats. Reading Jean Miles's blog last night, I got to thinking about cable needles.

Personally, I've never used one, preferring instead a specimen of one of the better classes of wooden toothpicks. Well, "preferring" is not the right word here since I've never actually used a commercially produced cable needle. The idea seems to be that because of the dip in a cable needle, it helps keep the stitches that you're slipping from stretching out. With the (cool-ass) Koolhaas, this is very important because of the wandering twisted stitches that are crisscrossing over the place. Your technique is very exposed on this hat and you want your stitches to look uniform. I think that's the idea anyway. Maybe I will try it one day.

Meanwhile I'll stick to the toothpick and get that cool ass hat done today!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Stash Guilt

Made some progress this week. Cleaned out a couple of closets and photographed the yarns I had stashed away there. I threw out all remaining plastic bags and organized and repacked the yarn in cloth carrying bags with pillowcase covers.

I realize now that I am a hoarder. I'm not a collector. Nor am I a reasonable garden variety knitter who has some bags of odd skeins and unfinished sweaters and a few sets of skeins puchased at sales all of which will be duly used in projects. No, not me. I had skeins and skeins hoarded away in multiple corners and containers, like a squirrel hoards nuts. I had only a hazy recollection of the actual yarn wedged into the spaces between boxes of off season clothing and laundry. Yikes!

There is yarn that I have purchased and yarn that previously belonged to my mother, my sister, my aunt and my grandmother, not to mention friends and neighbours. There is yarn from unravelled Sally Ann sweaters. I have yet to catalog the yarn in the attic, in the yarn bins or in the bedside tables. I'm telling myself that it's not as big a stash as some have confessed to on Ravelry, but I know that my Yorkshire grandmother would find it excessive. This makes me a little nervous.

In fact, I had to wait a few days to calm down before I could bring myself to write this. Do Jessie and Casey realize how they are changing our behaviour? Think of the closets that have been done out this summer!

Oh, and how do you like my Halloween headdress? It includes five skeins of pink Elite La Gran Mohair. Thanks to GunnStreetGirl for this photo:

lagranheaddress, originally uploaded by helena_jean.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wildebeest off the needles!

I never said I would be good at keeping up with this, but here's an update. I have recently completed the Wildebeest and am stalled on the Mark II. Wildebeest is a lovely shawl. I finished it with a simple black scalloped edging of Mission Falls 1824 Wool. I was pleased with the way this yarn blocked around some pretty pointy corners and with the way it blended with the Di.Ve Autunno that I used for the coloured center. Definitely one to wear outside the house.

The Mark II is another matter. I keep worrying that I'm going to come upon another weakness in the yarn. When I'm coming near the end of a skein, I keep asking myself when I should just give up on it and start a new one. I've finished the back - 22 inches from underarm to hem and am halfway up the fronts. I think I'll keep at it because I still have an encouraging image in my mind of how it will look when it's finished. The gauge and width are working out nicely but I need to start something else. Something relaxing.

A thread in the Ravelry Lace group is drawing me into starting Sharon Miller's Bressay Hap shawl. May as well since I bought the Rowan 42 book and I have scads of Germantown in several colours. I'm an optimist. I have complete confidence in the Germantown even if it is from the same source and vintage as the Pomfret.

Monday, October 1, 2007

The Mark II

This is an adaptation of The Breton Jacket (IK Fall 2006, page 104). I'm using a sport weight yarn - Brunswick Yarns Pomfret Mark II in the Blue Ridge Heather colourway. I'm getting a gauge of 6 stitches to the inch on 3.75 mm (US 5) needles. This is from an old batch of yarn that was stashed in a cedar attic for many years by a woman who ran a yarn shop many years ago in a distant state. The yarn is probably 25 years old or more. Because it was so carefully kept, it seems to be in pretty good shape. Knock on wood.

Puts me in mind of a pair of sheepskin ankle boots I wore to work once. On the return trip, coming up the stairs at the Verdun Avenue Metro with the rush hour crowd, the smell of wet wool in the air, my feet began to feel very odd. After the first flight, I switched to the escalator and peeked at my foot. Panic set in. I could distinctly see my sock in an unexpected gap between the sole and the upper. Erp!

This was a pair of boots my mother bought probably twenty years earlier. I'd had them stashed in my basement and finally decided to wear them. Big mistake. The glue holding the the boots together had deteriorated. I barely managed to get onto the bus. Sat there feeling mortified for about about ten minutes til I got to my stop. Getting off the bus was another treat. I think I ended up running the last half block through the spring slush to my flat in my boot socks.

So why am I going on about these boots when this is supposed to be all about the Mark II? Well, this is a clear attempt at a jinx on my part. I have the disturbing vision of the eventual wearer of this sweater turning and reaching followed by the distinctly unpleasant feeling of the garment pulling apart. Or not. Maybe she'll just catch sight of something in the mirror, or a co-worker will point it out to her. Hmmm, who could I give this to... No way, I love this yarn!

It's a fine yarn with a certain solidity and it's a beautiful blue-gray heathered colour. Looks like a rain cloud.

When I came to the end of the first skein, I did notice a few weaknesses in the yarn. For those who have never engaged in the risky practice of knitting with 25 year old wool and don't know, these are spots on the yarn where the yarn has kind of faded away and if you don't watch out, you find yourself knitting with one or two plies instead of three. Just don't keep your yarn or your garments in plastic bags. I checked a few more skeins and I think there's enough yarn in good condition that I'll be able to finish. The weakness tends to manifest itself on the outer parts of the skein.

Maybe not the best choice for a twisted cable stitch, you say? My solution here was to reinforce the 12 stitches of the cable with that reinforcement thread that comes with the Jawoll sock yarn. I thought about switching it out for another pattern but all cables have points that stress the yarn and I like the looks of the medallion stitch that is used in the pattern. By the way, it's also in the second Barbara Walker Treasury where it appears in one text block that you can copy and work off rather than split between two columns the way it appears in the IK issue.

I've knit 18 inches up from the cast on and decreased 10 stitches at the waistline. I'm going to try for 24 inches before I shape the armholes, much longer than the original pattern. Long enough to keep all of the nether regions warm.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Crew of the Wildebeest

I can't say how much I'm enjoying this knit - it's perfect. I'm using up a motley crew of skeins of Dive Autunno bought on a deep, deep sale and improvising a pattern from Sharon Miller's new book on hap shawls - Shetland Hap Shawls ~ Then & Now I love the way it looks and feels. The colours aren't quite right here. It's less yellow in reality....

The first photo shows its contruction. I started by knitting the black triangle. I used one ball of Mission Falls 1824 wool, ending up with 72 stitches along the top. Leaving those stitches on the needle, I cast on 72 stitches down each of the other two sides of the triangle using my Dive Autunno, a gloriously soft and pliant wool, and knit two wings in Old Shell stitch, following a chart in Miller's book.

When I ran out the the Autunno, I wet and blocked it having added some extra needles so that I could stretch it out properly. Phew! The centre back seams fit together nicely. Tucked in the loose ends and now I am ready to do the edging. Must choose yarn for this purpose...something black in a DK weight, a slight lighter weight than the body? I'm not sure...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Biggest Sock

What fun! Spent yesterday at the Fingerlakes Fiber Festival in Hemlock New York, babysitting The Biggest Sock in the World. Here's where it all started:

This is a real crowd pleaser. People just loved knitting on it. We had knitters of all ages: a husband and wife team, mothers with children tennagers, new knitters - everyone. The goal is to get it into the Guinness Book of World Records. It has 11 sets of needles and 1500 stitches, well, maybe a few more since we had at it yesterday! Hopefully it will go all around the world and come back to its starting place in England. It has been in Rochester, NY and Atlanta, Georgia. While in the US we have been using a lot of Red Heart and Fun Fur type yarns to give the cuff a kind of festive look. Very soon we will mail it to Toronto, Canada.

It will be interesting to see if others will try to incorporate a more controlled pattern to make their section stand out or whether they will continue as we have - just using whatever people donate. It would be interesting to see more patterns but then some of the fun might go out of it. What can be done to keep the best of both worlds?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

This old LYS

I stopped to take a picture of the sign.

It was a old yarn shop sign hung high on the side of a tidy white clapboard building deep in the countryside. I had noticed it several times in the past. I had my camera with me and stopped to take a snap. The sign was a bit worse for wear and I never imagined that the shop might still be operational. I spotted some colourful knitting draped over a hobby horse by the door and approached. I realized there was actually someone in the shop, moving toward the door. I totally missed the "OPEN" sign in the window.

I'm sorry to say that I can't remember her name although we chatted for some time. She told me she was 93 and knits bags for a man in a neighbouring state who felts them for sale. I purchased a set of needles and several patterns from her including the sock book that I'll post about later. A blanket knitted by her sister was neatly folded over a rollaway bed. The yarn that was displayed on the shelves around the room was all Red Heart. Piles of brochures and patterns covered the tables. I was really taken aback and at the same time felt very privileged to be invited in. This was clearly the home of a Knitter with a capital K, someone who had made the craft her life.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Cobweb Crepe

The Cobweb Crepe hap is lying in a heap on the spare bed, waiting to be be blocked and have its ends tucked in. I've hauled out another old project - a top down raglan pullover of Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool in yes - greeny yellow. Sigh. I really like it though. It has three quarter length sleeves ending in Barbara Abbey's Herringbone Lace stitch. The hem is also done in that stitch. I've finished the body and am about to cast off the hem of the first sleeve. If I keep at it, I'll be finished this weekend and have the hap blocked too. We'll see. I'll be working in the garden tomorrow, digging a new flower bed. That may finish me off.

I think that Ravelry is actually making me knit more. It makes me account for things. I've been dragging yarn and unfinished projects out of forgotten places and getting on with things. Also, I admit that the idea of an audience, real or imagined has an effect on me. So there.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

So much yellow!

Looking through my projects page, I see yellow and blue, some green and purple but then yellow again! These colours are not so far off from the ones I say I like, but I wouldn't have guessed that there would be so much yellow. The large amount of purple can be accounted for by my Auntie Margaret's stash, which she gave to me, but the yellow, it's all been purchased!

It does seem funny when you put it all together in Ravelry. Somehow, I want it to look different, richer, with less yellow. Foo. What will I knit next next?

...omg, I've been asked to knit a scarf in orange, pink, green or white!

Note to self: Must work on photography skills and avoid posting yellow and purple knits for a while - exception to be made for fantastic rainbow blankie. Make said scarf, but avoid posting, unless looks fantastic. Reconsider priorities.

Monday, August 27, 2007

I'm not really writing....

...well, I am, but I never meant to. Honestly. God knows there is enough writing in this world without my blather. I'm just trying this out to see how it fits into my Ravelry notebook.

Yeah, yeah...

Anyway, it looks like I'm in the final stretch with my Cobweb Crepe Shawl...I'm very proud that I'm hanging in there and not stuffing into a bag. I should be done with the edging sometime this week.

Really, truly...