Sunday, March 25, 2012

Try, knit again

It seems that those other projects I mentioned are really taking me away from my knitting. Either that, or I've become very fickle, unable to settle on one design and surprisingly able to put whatever I'm working on aside. I did move right along on my Color Affection in the the mohair (Alchemy Haiku).

I had some ivory Superior, a mohair impostor made from cashmere, but no other mohair in my stash. I'm happy enough with it as the main color, not that ivory is much of a color. I'd like a deep brown or red for the third color, but I'm a little unsure about what would look best. I have postponed that decision until I can take what I have with me to shop for its companion. Wouldn't you know, every Monday I drive quite close to a yarn shop? Unfortunately for me and this shawl, the shop is closed on Mondays. Since I really want to compare the colors side by side to pick a new one, I'll just have to wait on this project.

I've started a new shawl to work on while I wait. It's simple stockinette right now, but there will be a lace explosion later. I just haven't decided yet if it will be Estonian lace, from Lamanaria, or lace with reverse stockinette, from Dew Drop. Luckily, both patterns have a section that starts with 225 stitches, making it possible to postpone the decision.

Although my shawl projects seem to be hanging, with major decisions avoided, my socks projects are thundering along. Everything else that's taking up my time involves a bit of waiting. Waiting means there's time for sock knitting. I've finished one Cable Rib sock, a very practical pattern from Interweave's Favorite Socks book.

This pairing of ribbing with side cables makes a very stretchy, wearable sock. Hopefully, the double knit heel I added will make it wear longer. If not, at least it's cute.

This is my second pair of socks with a double knit heel that has an aspen leaf. The repetition of the pattern has exhausted my passion for leaves in double knit. Perhaps a different design would revive it, a sheep, maybe even a monogram. Regardless, this heel is much better than the first ones I knit since ituses fewer stitches and is knit on smaller needles--size 0s! Double knitting really expands.

Another pair of socks in progress didn't expand enough and got ripped out. I'm trying to recreate these, which were felted by an unruly washer.

It's mostly the wool that is to blame. It isn't superwash or a blend, just pure merino. Even though the yarn isn't meant for socks, I like these so well that I frogged this shawl to get the yarn for another pair, proving that my knitting really is going around in circles.

Socks and shawl project prevail, and now a shawl becomes socks. It's just as well. This shawl was too scratchy to wear. It's too bad, thought, that the circular theme has dominated this project. There's been a lot of knitting the same bit over and over to improve the pattern.

First, there was the problem with the center stitch, an un-centered p3tog. After much fiddling around with sssp, ssp2p, and other strange stitches, knitting almost every round differently, ripping back and still fiddling around, it hit me that the p3tog in the pattern is the right stitch for the center. It just needs to have the order of the first two stitches reversed to make it lie nicely. This is a cold hard truth to hit one at 11 pm, making me jump out of bed to knit another couple of rounds. Thank goodness I posted the solution on my project page so I could remember it in the morning. Here's the links to the pages for my projects and to the patterns I'm contemplating.

Dew Drop Shawl

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Eye-grabbing green shawl and such

Freshly blocked knits look good, even in a prosaic bathroom pic. It's too bad this beret will go straight into the drawer. It is too warm for a double-thick ribbed brim hat. However, the shawl might get some wear.

The beret was a lingering winter project that I put aside when I couldn't work out the transition between the ribbing and the lace. I had bought the possum and merino blend yarn for this hat when the pattern came out in the Fall 2009 Vogue Knitting. After I knit the brim (reversing the instructions for this top-down beret), I decided I didn't like the plain eyelet-lace crown. I was quick to jump to another pattern in the same issue--same weight yarn, same number of cast-on stitches. It was the jump from the ribbing to the lace that stumped me.

The second pattern had and inch and a half of 1x1 ribbing in the brim, not eight inches of 2x2 ribbing, doubled. It was just enough difference to make me misjudge the alignment of the increases. The length of the crown was easily fixed by starting one-third of the way into the lace pattern. The flow of the knit stitches was a tougher problem. The necessary but painful ripping back and realignment delayed the finish.

This will be a welcome knit next winter. Maybe by then there will be a shawl to go with it.
There is that freshly blocked shawl, but, as is obvious in the first photo, it doesn't belong anywhere near the hat. It is definitely for Spring.

This more-than-ample Whippoorwill Shawl worried me plenty when I unpinned it from blocking. Although the wool was soft and comfortable, it looked like it had been starched. It was enough to make me abandon further wool shawl projects. After a day of rest, it relaxed enough to drape. It must have been the hard blocking I gave it to smooth out all those increases that made it stiff.
The less-than-satisfactory blocking experience adds to my dissatisfaction with the wool yarns I selected for the my next project. The problem started when a merino sock yarn curled into a circle as I knit the beginning of a shawl. As the dark colors blended into a camouflage-like mess, I decided to put away the green yarn.

I've switched to orange and cream but am postponing the choice of a third color for my Color Affection. If you haven't wandered away among those lovely shawl patterns, here's some additional links:

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Shaelyn Shawl Sure

Considering that my other large knitting project is in two shades of green (a Whippoorwill shawl that's almost done), my current fo puts me in the ready for Spring, March, and certainly St. Patrick's Day.

It's actually this Noro Aya yarn that is to blame. I first saw this colorway on Ravelry as the base for a stunning Whippoorwill shawl. Quick as a mouse click, I bought three balls of it, planning to pick up a nice contrasting yarn at one of the many yarn shops I visit when I travel. As usual, I shopped to excess and ended up with three different choices, mint green, lilac and dark green, all in Tanis Fiber Arts blue label. I happily began swatching, planning to make a decision on the contrast edge while knitting the base of the shawl. Unfortunately, I never got beyond the swatch.

Once I saw the density of the fabric I was getting on size 6 needles, I dropped the idea of using this yarn for Whippoorwill and looked for something in a larger gauge. My search was short. I checked my queue, found Shaelyn and a few happy projects using Aya. (Ravelry is such a great resource!)

I was a little worried about how the colors would work with the lace pattern and used all three balls of yarn, pulling the same colors out of each to make the stripes last through the lace. Even so, I knit it up in a few days, but tossed it aside immediately after casting off. I thought it was too bright to wear. Once I finally and reluctantly blocked it, I was satisfied. Somehow, blocking made it less bright. Since it didn't bleed color in the water, I can only guess that stretching the stitches apart lightened the colors a bit. Whether that's true, or just imagination, it's certainly nice and soft now. I'll wear it and see if I get the "Oh, what a funny old lady" looks or not. I could always rip it out and make throw pillows with it.

It's a ripped out sweater that I used for the Whippoorwill I had planned. Since the sweater was a different shade of green, I didn't use any of the Tanis I bought for the project, finding another hank of sock yarn that looked better. Now I have three hanks of Tanis and no project. I've got ideas, though.

These three hanks are applying to be a Color Affection.

These two might make a Stripe Study.

That leaves the mint green Tanis unplanned. Not a problem; there are never enough green socks. Right now, since I have three different socks in progress, the mint socks will have to wait. I'd like to finish the Whippoorwill before the 17th, then start the Color Affection. Three green shawls in March! Links last:

Color Affection (check her other patterns for Stripe Study)

That stunning Whippoorwill