Friday, April 23, 2010

The votes are in . . .

And the winner is: February Baby Sweater

I ran into a few hiccups starting this sweater. After working a quick gauge swatch, I found I was getting 5 spi, calculated the key (chest circumference) number that I wanted, and took a quick look at EZ's pattern to see if I was anywhere close or if I would have to re-work the numbers. Lo and behold, she gave a number pretty close to what I wanted. So I blithely cast on as directed in the pattern and knit several rows before realizing that the neck opening would be far too small.

I took another look at the numbers and realized that EZ's stitch count measured the sweater right before separating the sleeves from the body stitches rather than after, which was what I wanted. (EZ's stitch count covered chest and arms, while I only wanted the chest measurement.) Naturally, I ripped and pulled out my scratch pad and calculator again. I had a general sense of what I wanted and so got a better number of stitches to cast on and started over again. My numbers were really only scribbles at best but I decided to wing it and fudge things later if I had to.

When I got up the next morning to work on the sweater a bit more (and double-check my math), I realized that somehow I had managed to make the numbers work perfectly. Not quite the way I had originally planned things, but once I remembered to figure in the underarm stitches everything worked out perfectly. So perfectly that I'll probably write this up in case anyone wants to use my lace substitution (and toddler sizing). 

I just love how the vine lace looks in the handspun.

Actually, I love how the whole thing looks in the handspun. This pink is really growing on me.

Happy birthday, little n!

Monday, April 19, 2010


The merino/silk is now dry and waiting to get knit up into a birthday present for little n. I just finished her father's socks today (I even wove in the ends) so this is my only April gift left. I just can't get over how soft and lovely this yarn is.

This is going to be a lot of fun to knit with. And therein lies the problem. I'm not quite sure what to make.

I've narrowed it down to 3 options:
  1. February Baby Sweater
  2. Cardigan for Merry
  3. Coraline
If I made the February Baby Sweater, I'd probably change the lace pattern to vine lace from the Barbara Walker treasuries. I've got about 700 yards of yarn to work with so I don't know if I have enough for the hood in the Cardigan for Merry. Other than playing with the numbers, I probably wouldn't change much of anything about Coraline.

Thoughts? What should this Third Birthday present be?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Spring has Sprung

Or so it seems around here. And it's not just because I have these sitting on my dining table:

I just can't get enough of the daffodils. Happily, the city has planted huge swaths of them all along my ride to work, so I've been able to enjoy them everywhere these past few days.

Ok, you're not here to listen to me gush about spring flowers (especially since I live in a high-rise with no balcony so that vase is the closest thing I get to a garden).

I have been knitting lately, see?

That's the beginnings of a Brandywine Shawl that I'm making out of Handmaiden Camelspin for a mother's day gift. Last year I made a little silk lace scarf for my mother and kept getting frustrated with the inelasticity of the pure silk yarn. Neither the camel nor the silk fibers in the Camelspin is elastic at all but the body of the thicker yarn and the combination of the fibers is making for a much more enjoyable knit. Once you get to working the center garter section, in addition to the borders, the pattern is easily memorizable.

Here's a detail shot of the edging so you can see how simple and repetitive it is:

Ok, I admit that it's a bit tough to see while the shawl is unblocked, but trust me. It's quick and easy to learn. The pattern is so simple, in fact, that it gets rather boring if you don't have some other sort of stimulation to keep you going.

Speaking of external stimulation, I just finished listening to the second Steig Larsson book—fantastic series, by the way—over the weekend and was quite disappointed to learn that the third book isn't due out for another month and a half. This series had been my spinning-listening and now I'm at a bit of a loss as to what to listen to next. And what to spin next, but that's another story.

As you've probably guessed from that last comment, I also finished up the pink merino/silk project yesterday. I know I've grumped a bit about the color but I have to admit that I'm in love with this yarn. It's a dk/light worsted weight—a true measurement will have to wait until the skeins have dried—with an incredible bounce and sheen. I can't wait to work with it.

Other gift projects are progressing well. I finished up the first of Z's socks last week and cast on for the second sock on the bus this morning. 

Things were going so well that I somehow cast on for Kerrera. As other ravelers have said, the double garter border does take forever, but it's really not that bad. The sweater body now measures almost 12 inches long. I don't know how that one happened . . . 

That's all for now, since I've got a rice pudding on the stove that needs some attention. Forbidden rice and blueberries make for a wonderful dessert. Now I just have to think of what we're going to have for dinner.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Block(ing) Party

Last week I finally got to take care of a task that I've been meaning to do for weeks: blocking Aestlight and the second scarflet. I'm so happy with the results.

Size: small
Yarn: 1 skein malabrigo sock in colorway Tiziano Red
Needles: size 6 (4.25mm) Addi lace circular needle
Time to completion: Oh my, I really have no idea. I remember the knitting part of this project flying by but I wouldn't let myself mark this one as "done" in ravelry until I had blocked it. My best guess is somewhere in the ballpark of 2 weeks. It's really quick.
Mods: none to speak of. Well, that's not quite true. The pattern calls for knitting into the back of the loop when picking up stitches from yo's. I tried that but didn't like the look of the stitches - not open enough for me - so I just picked up and knit like I normally do.

Mods I wish I had made: This shawl is made with a traditional shetland construction, where you cast on a single stitch at the bottom of the garter stitch main/center section and then increase your way up. Then you pick up stitches around the edge of the center triangle to work the border. Finally, you knit on an edging to finish off the live stitches on the outside of the border. The pattern calls for leaving the main section garter stitches on a holder while the rest of the shawl is worked but I don't really think this is necessary. As long as you use an elastic bind-off, I don't see why this can't be done at the end of the garter section (and you wouldn't need to join a new strand of yarn at the end just to bind off those stitches). That's it. This is a great pattern.

I absolutely loved working with the malabrigo sock yarn. The subtle color changes were beautiful to watch and always kept me interested, even in the (somewhat boring) center garter section. Of course, garter stitch makes for a great reading project, so this little shawl just flew by.

The bird's eye lace section of the border was so much fun to knit! I had a blast watching these giant circles appear in the knitting. 

It's really too bad that this shawl is slated for gifting to a friend - I'll just have to make another one for me.

Switching gears, this next piece could be described as a "big squishy love fest," as Jared of Brooklyntweed often refers to some of his creations.

Pattern: scarflet (forthcoming)
Yarn: 1 skein Dream in Color Smooshy, colorway Strange Harvest
Needles: size 4 (3.5mm) Addi natura circular needles
Time to completion: Same as above. The knitting flew by but it languished in the knitting basket for several weeks until I had a chance to block it. Let's just go with "very quick." Probably a week.
Mods: Well, the whole thing is my pattern, if you want to call it that. It was inspired by Multnomah. I just changed the construction a bit and altered the proportions of the lace section, as well as modifying the traditional old shale lace pattern to be a true garter lace.

Yellows aren't really my color but that's ok since this is a gift for my sister. 

I can't get enough of this pattern - there's something incredibly addictive about it. Plus, it's just so wearable. I wear my handspun scarflet all the time (or did until the temperature started to warm up around here).

It's really just a big squishy - or should I say smooshy - love fest.