Saturday, December 29, 2007

Scarf knitting procrastination

I bought the yarn (4 balls of JoAnn's Stellina) in November, 2005. I cast on for the scarf in October, 2006. Since then, several other unfinished scarves have joined it in the knitting bag.

That's my ugly secret. Rather than an albatross, I have unfinished scarves hanging around my neck. At least now the count is reduced by one. How? you ask? I consulted the scarf knitting group at Ravelry for theraputic suggestions. I was shocked to find there are those who enjoy knitting scarves, who revel in their sameness. I was willing to follow their path, if only it would lighten the burden around my neck. They spoke, I listened. Here, blocking, is the result.

They had several suggestions, but the one that seemed the most sure to work at the time was to simply resolve to finish just one scarf.

I had half the scarf knitted. The pattern is from the Interweave scarf booklet that came tucked into one of their IK issues last year. You're supposed to knit the two halves separately and graft them together so the ends match. The second half was partially knitted but much shorter than the first. I guessed it would take hours and hours to finish the picky little lace pattern. Did I rise to the challenge? No, I put it aside. Christmas knitting was my excuse. This time.

But then, the Christmas knitting was done, and I had no excuse. Two days before Christmas, I tossed the unfinished scarf half in the car and knit on it while we drove around visiting. I was surprised when I found I had only a few yards of yarn left on Christmas eve--right about the time I saw the moon and Mars. I had forgotten that I planned for the second half to be smaller than the first, so that the grafted seam would be off-center and less obvious. Sorta.

Since the pattern is running in opposite directions, it won't match no matter what. Of course, I managed to misalign the stitches while grafting it. At that point, after two years of fiddling around, I let it go. I've got a mistake in the first half where I misplaced half a repeat.


It looks good, regardless. The yarn is wool, plied with a tiny nylon thread that gives it shimmer.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Mars for Christmas

Here's what else happened--the moon and mars. I took these photos Dec. 23rd, as we drove back from a holiday visit and gifting. The moon was huge and full when it rose, and I dropped my knitting and took this photo:
Then, after it got dark, we could see a star near it. I've since checked and found out it was Mars, and that it was visible in some parts of the globe on the 23rd and 24th. Here's how it looked about an hour and a half after it rose Sunday, and we could see the first glimmering of Mars below it:

It got brighter--the photo below was taken a little less than an hour later. Do you see how Mars has moved a little to the right?

When I last checked a couple of hours later, it was almost directly to the right of the moon.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Mini Sweater Magnets

Before I wrap them, here is the set of refrigerator magnets I made for my friend and her daughter. I ended up with two sweaters, two hats, and two scarves.

When I first told you about this project, I had a blue hat that was less than satisfactory. Just now, when I was hot-gluing it to the magnet, I glued it on backwards with the seam exposed. I guess it was an impulse to trash it that made me mess it up. I salvaged the white pom pom and quickly knit the pink hat for it.

I've still got to make the faces to go with this set--I need good photos of the recipients for that. In the meantime, to give you an idea of the "dress me up" option, I used faces cut from a magazine:

Since I finished this project, I found these mini-sweater patterns. There's some here too. I wish I'd had these links earlier. I thought I could make a cardigan without a pattern, but it didn't work out. Wrong yarn, wrong gauge, you know how it goes. Then I started purling when I should knit. It just got worse, and I put the entire project aside as a result. I finally realized it was ridiculous to let one bad mini sweater hold things up, and worked on the scarves. Heartened by finishing them, I finished the other sweater. I could have had everything done weeks ago if I hadn't given it up.

As a lesson to myself, I've kept the bad mini sweater and made it into a magnet for my own fridge.

Loose threads, misplaced stitches, bad gauge and all, it's an abandoned UFO magnet. :D

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Knitted Gifties

Now, for those who say the more pictures the better, here they are, the photos I took of some of my knitted gifts before I wrapped them. First, the Clapotis, knitted on size 5 needles from Blue Heron Beaded Rayon:

I wonder, if you knit something from yarn that was a gift to you, and give the finished object to someone else, does it count as 'regifting'? :) I hope not, because I did have the pleasure of knitting the yarn, which I assume was the point of the gift. I just don't think I would wear a rayon scarf; I don't dress up that much since I quit working at an office.
Knitting with the rayon yarn was an education. I had no idea it was as heavy as it is. (Hence my concern that the Ultra Silk, with its silk and rayon content, will produce a heavy sweater.) This yarn is a bit difficult, in that it consists of very fine threads which catch on the needles. Also, it is a type of boucle, so there is no real stitch definition. I was a bit relieved about that, because I made a lot of mistakes knitting this. It was my "business trip" knit for the past several weeks, so it did not have my full attention. In spite of this, it made a nice scarf (I didn't knit the full width, so it is only 11" x 55"). Here's a better idea of the colors:

Then there's the ball band dishtowel. Great pattern, useful object. I knit this one on 8s instead of 7s, using the "& cream" yarns. The result drew up a lot when I washed and dried it, so that it is almost square, an odd shape for a towel. I just hope it looks 'masculine' enough for its recipient. :)

Here's several photos of the hat and scarf I knitted as a result of the Entrelac knitting class I took this summer. I just love these, but I can not abide the itchiness of the Silk Garden and Cascade 220 I used. They've got to go, and I hope my neighbor likes them. I had not posted any photos of them after I blocked the hat, so here's several:

The hat pattern is from the book, Hip Knit Hats. Great book, by the way. I had to double strand the yarn to get gauge, so I took advantage of that to mix the colors up a bit, trying to achieve an effect similar to the color changes in the scarf.
You can see below the way I striped the center of the scarf with some mill ends I got from The Fibre Co.'s booth at the Maryland Sheep and Wool show. I used a feather and fan stitch to match the ins and outs of the entrelac.

I find it surprising how many people visit this blog looking for entrelac knitting. I suppose they are looking for instructions? I can understand, because entrelac looks very complicated, and doesn't puzzle out easily. That's why I took the class. However, once I understood that it is simply modular knitting, and each little square is knitted separately and joined to the next one by decreases at the end of the rows, I realized it is simple--a bit tedious, but simple.
Lastly, I have a couple of photos of Christmas decorations from one of our business trips earlier this month. You see below a modern depiction of the three wise men:

What I see is the last little wise man. I'm sure it is meant that he is holding a vessel of frankincense, or myhr, or gold, but to me it looks like he is raising his glass in a toast.
Really, doesn't he look a bit tipsy, dawdling along behind the others?
It's almost as though his little camel is looking back at him with a smile.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Sienna Cardigan Critique

This post will serve as my 'critique' of the Sienna Cardigan I just finished. However, I can say at the outset that there's no criticism intended. Nothing wrong with this pattern at all. In fact, I considered using the word "praise" instead of critique. I didn't, I just assumed that a critique can include praise. Sienna is a well-designed, well-written pattern.

I followed the pattern, and it looks like the pattern picture. What more could a knitter ask? Clear directions? In there. Details. In there. Simplicity. There.

What was different was the yarn. I fell in love with the Alpaca with a Twist Highlander when I saw a knitted sample in my lys. It was the softest yarn I'd ever touched, but had enough body to look nice in cables. Where I went wrong was believing the gauge on the label. At a reported 18 st/4", I thought I'd need plenty. I bought all the hanks they had (7) in this color, but didn't think there would be enough. Then I swatched it, and washed the swatch. I think I started with 16 or 17 st/4", but ended with 15 st after washing. That's a pretty big difference from the 18 I expected.
Thank goodness I washed it, so I knew to pick a pattern for a bulky weight yarn. I'd been wanting to knit Sienna since I first saw it. However, now that it is done, I can see that a bulky weight sweater is definitely not slimming. Warm maybe, but not that flattering to the figure. I knitted the smallest size, expecting that a bulky sweater with no ease might look better? Probably a poor assumption, I realize now.
So. That's it. Pattern, yarn, hmmm. Oh, I used size 9 needles, and only 6 of the 7 hanks of yarn I had. It was a very quick knit, but since it was my Grey's Anatomy KAL project, I didn't work on it much each week. It probably took me maybe less than 30 hours, all told.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Buttons and Sienna Cardigan

Button shopping is over.
Here's what I found for my Sienna Cardigan. I'm very pleased with these. I had the pattern image frozen in my brain; round shank buttons with a contrasting center were stuck in my mind. I also hoped to find a pale gray-blue, but that's such an unusual color, I was not optomistic about it. I had settled on silver buttons when I saw a separate rack for JBL buttons. JoAnn, why do you have to be so tricky?

Even though it took a little longer, it was worth it to get buttons I am really happy with. That was especially important for this sweater. I'm so happy with it, I wanted the perfect buttons.

This was my Grey's Anatomy Knit-a-Long project, so I have to post it there and on Ravelry. I really don't have any bad photos of it, but I'd like to take a few more this afternoon before I decide which one to expose to the public scrutiny of GA KAL and Ravelry.
 I did not realize how wide the neckline is on this cardigan when I was knitting it. It won't be very warm without a sweater with a higher neck under it, but the neckline is pretty. (The yarn is Alpaca with a Twist's Highlander, one of my most favorite yarns. I'll be posting project details soon.)