Wednesday, October 27, 2010

At last

These socks took me way too long to finish.

Pattern: Marlene Socks by Cookie A.
Yarn: 1 skein of Dream in Color smooshy in colorway Gothic Rose
Needles: size 2 addi lace circular for magic loop
Mods: I opted to do the ribbed toe from the pattern picture rather than the written instructions. Other than that, I knit these exactly as written. Unusual, I know.

It's a great pattern, I love the yarn, and the color is fabulous. So what gives? Part of the problem was that I made a rather large mistake when knitting the first sock several months ago. I don't remember exactly what I did except that I ended up with too few stitches along the bottom of the foot but I didn't realize this until I had gotten almost to the end of the toe. Naturally, I ripped back to the heel flap and reworked the foot but by this point it felt like I had knit two socks and I didn't really have the heart to cast on for the second sock.

Fast forward to our apple picking expedition last month when I cast on for sock #2 during the car ride. Everything was progressing smoothly until last week. DH had brought a little bug back with him from Portland - just a sore throat and stuffy nose, nothing major. Except that it hit me like a steam roller and put me out of commission for four days. I barely knit, that's how yucky I felt.

I knew I was truly starting to feel better when I picked up this sock again and it's interesting yet easily memorizable repeats were a great companion as I recuperated. 

Now that they're done and I've worn them once, what do I think? The fit is great - snug but not tight - and they don't fall down. I am hopeful that the twisted stitch heel flap will hold up reasonably well. I just have one little worry: my big toes were stretching the knitted fabric pretty thin by the end of the day. I don't think the socks are too small, I just think the fabric isn't as dense in the twisted stitch ribbing as I'm used to. Dream in color yarns tend to bulk up a bit in the wash for me and I'm hoping it does so here. Otherwise, I may be darning the toes pretty soon.

Once I had finished up the second Marlene sock, I needed a nice feel-good project to help me kick my cold. So I cast on with my new acquisition from the Portland trip and I've been knitting on it exclusively ever since.

Can you blame me?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Almost an emergency

In which a crisis was averted but I nevertheless shamelessly dredge up old photos from my iPhoto archives to distract you from the shocking lack of knitting content over the past week.

I was in a bit of a panic this morning. The temperature was a bit nippy outside and it was time to head to work so I reached into my bag and pulled out . . . one mitten. That's right, one mitten where there were supposed to be two. Not only are these my go-to hand warmers until the weather turns arctic but they were a lovely gift made several years ago by my good friend N.

See, they're really nice:

Naturally, I was rather upset at this situation and started to envision all of the horrible places I could have lost the second mitten in the pair. Visions of a poor, mangled mitten stuck on the subway tracks kept running through my mind. I pushed those thoughts aside and took off for work, all the while trying to conjure up what I would do for a replacement.

First, I thought I should hop on ravelry after work and find some nice new stranded colorwork pattern to use up some of the leftovers from this project:

This was a Christmas 2005 gift for my father that I had knit up using the guidelines and copious charts from Alice Starmore's fabulous book, Alice Starmore's Book of Fair Isle Knitting, which I was lucky enough to get my hands on (read: "borrow" indefinitely from my mother) when it was still out of print. I have a lot of fingering weight yarn left over from this project and really need to do something with it.

The plan sounded great during the first leg of my commute this morning. I would use stash yarn, I'd get to play with a new pattern, what could be better? But then I realized that I really wanted replacement mittens ready on Monday. I know I'm a relatively speedy knitter but I can't produce two brand new mittens knit in tiny gauge in some sort of intricate pattern all in just over two days, especially with everything else that needs to get done this weekend.

Time for plan B: see if I already had a finished mitten somewhere that just needed a mate. After all, one mitten sounds doable. Maybe. I was in luck! Hidden in one corner of the stash is a single Galileo Mitten (rav link).

According to iPhoto, I was working on this in late fall/early winter 2008 and that sounds about right. I really should finish this pair. It's a lovely pattern. It's even lovelier if I pay a bit more attention to the chart than it looks like I did about a third of the way up the hand. Sure I could go back and fix that bit, but isn't it better to just leave the mistake for Arachne?

Anyway, the whole issue turned out to be moot since what did I find on my desk when I got home this evening? The second mitten of course. It was just hiding under the scarf I had taken out of my work bag the night before.

What a relief. But I sure appreciate the walk through memory lane and the added incentive to finish a second (or even third!) pair of mittens. After all, my nightmare of losing a mitten to the CTA could still come true.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Go west, young knitter!

That's what I've been hearing for months, ever since one of my good friends from school moved back home to Portland. (Actually, it was more like "come visit, come visit - Portland's a great city!" but my version makes for a catchier blog title.) So when a three-day weekend appeared this month, we happily packed our bags and headed off to the Pacific Northwest for a visit.

Yes, yes, I know you're all saying, but what about the sweater? I finished Hallett's Ledge just in the nick of time, sewing the buttons on Thursday evening. Of course, this meant that I didn't have time to cast on for the secret project - that had to wait until we got back home.

You saw a little tease earlier this week and now here's the front:

Sorry, none of the front shots turned out well. This was the best one and it only works when I cut my head out of it. The back shots turned out much better.

It's a fabulous sweater and I absolutely love it. Thanks for a great pattern, Elinor

Here's the rundown:

Pattern: Hallett's Ledge by Elinor Brown, available in the Fall 2010 Twist Collective
Size: 35" (although the bust blocked out to something closer to 34", which probably looks a bit better on me than 35" would have. That said, I didn't block this one very aggressively.)
Yarn: 5 skeins of Cascade 220 Heathers in colorway Olympic Rain Forest. I added some extra length to the sweater (more on that in a minute) and still had a bit of yarn left over so 5 skeins is plenty for the 35" size.
Needles: size 8 addi lace circular needles. That's right, one needle size for everything - even the ribbing. I was a bit skeptical at first but it all turned out in the end.
Mods: Like I do with many of my sweaters, I added length to the body and the sleeves. Here, I added the extra rows in the ribbing part of the body and then worked the cabled sections as written (adding my extra ribbing length to the pattern figures when the directions read something like "work until piece measures X inches long"). The extra length meant that I had to fudge the button band, too, but happily that turned out to be very easy since I could just use the directions for the largest size. Other than figuring out how best to pick up the stitches, there was no math involved at all.

This probably isn't a mod, but I'll mention it here anyway. On the cabled part of the sweater, the pattern isn't entirely clear on how much you should incorporate the waist increases into the cabled pattern. In the 35" size the increases grow into another of the wide cable panels, but the panel never gets big enough to fit the entire braid pattern. If you were to religiously follow the chart here, the side/increase sections look a bit wonky since the cables look more like mistakes than design features. I threw in a cable here and there as I was waffling back and forth about how carefully to follow the chart. Honestly, it doesn't really matter since the stitches hide under the arm anyway. That said, if I were to knit this again, I'd keep the increase panels in stockinette and not worry about adding in the cables at all.

Final thoughts: Rachel had asked a little while ago what I thought of using Cascade 220 on this piece and I punted a bit in my answer, wanting to wait until I had finished the piece before giving my final verdict. Honestly, I'd love to use a slightly thicker yarn on this sweater - something more along the lines of the Rowan Felted Tweed in the original (or perhaps Jared Flood's new yarn). While the Cascade did full a bit while blocking, it just doesn't produce as thick and cushy a fabric as I really like. That's not to say that Cascade isn't a great yarn, because it is. I just like something with a woolier hand. All that said, I knit this sweater with $40 worth of yarn and one of the woolier options would have cost me about $100. So was it worth it to me to spend the extra money? No. I'm really happy with this one and have no regrets about using Cascade. In fact, I'm thrilled to have been able to use stash yarn - something I've been trying to do more of over the past year with varying degrees of success. But more importantly, I think the Cascade looks fantastic in the cabled pattern on this sweater. Great stitch definition, and that's what matters here.

Ok, that's a lot of text so you're probably due for another pic, right?

I really wasn't kidding when I said that none of the front shots came out well. Of course, we had a good reason for being distracted. Just look at this:

We spent Sunday out along the coast and the views were nothing short of spectacular. Saturday took us through downtown Portland, which was equally fabulous in it's own way. Did you know that public transit is free in downtown Portland? Besides that, it's clean, friendly, and easily accessible. Even better, it took us to all sorts of fun places like Saturday Market, Powell's Books, and two different yarn stores. 

First off was Twisted, a really nifty little shop just outside of downtown. I got to pet some of the Blue Moon Fiber Arts BFL Sport and let me tell you, it's divine. Sadly, it did not follow my rule for the trip which allowed souvenir purchases so long as they were local (ok on that front) and not something I could get in Chicago (there's the problem: I live near The Fold). Instead, I picked up two 4oz braids of Imperial Stock Ranch columbia sliver in the colorway Spring Sage. 

This will likely turn into a winter scarf/shawl/thing. As soon as I get another project or two off the needles, of course. 

Later in the day we made our way to Knit Purl, a lovely shop right in the middle of downtown Portland. Besides having a fabulous selection of yarns, Knit Purl also had a great spot for non-knitting spouses to hang out, which was much appreciated (it's also very close to Powell's in case your companion gets too antsy). 

I have to confess that I broke down a little bit at Knit Purl. True, it was planned (to a certain extent). As you've probably heard, Jared Flood has come out with his own line of yarn. Having followed his blog for several years now, I was prepared to order some of this new yarn on faith alone. Happily, I didn't have to since Knit Purl is one of the stores that carries the line. It's gorgeous. Just gorgeous. Yes, I know it's a bit pricey ($12.50 for a 140 yard skein) but the hand is beautiful and the knitted fabric is to die for. If you like wooly tweeds in beautiful colors, try this yarn. I was even able to swatch a bit in it at the shop and can assure you that it's fun to knit, too (DH agrees, since he also knit a bit on the swatch). There's a bit of lanolin in the skein but that washes right out, leaving a beautiful light-weight yet substantial feeling fabric.

I brought home five skeins in the Wool Socks colorway to turn into Terra.

Wasn't I on a yarn diet? Yes, although I had told myself that I could have a present for passing the bar exam. Initially I was thinking that I would look for fiber to spin for something from A Fine Fleece. There was just one little problem with that idea: I really want to spin and knit Portland (rav link) but that project will have to wait a bit longer. 

As you can see, I'm not really knitting pullovers these days.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Guess what we did this weekend?

DH and I headed out to the pacific northwest to visit a good friend of ours and in between hitting some fabulous yarn shops in Portland we managed to snap some FO pics.

This is just a little tease to tide you over until the real FO post since it's going to take me another day or two to get things settled around here. We had a very lonely kitty to contend with when we walked through the door Monday night. Speaking of lonely kitties, I've just been informed that I'm three days behind on someone's quota of cuddles and I'd better get cracking. 

I hope you all had as wonderful a weekend as we did!

Monday, October 4, 2010


Attainable or not attainable? That is the question.

DH are heading out of town this weekend and naturally I have my little list of knitting goals that I want to accomplish before we take off on our trip. In the hopes that I don't sound too delusional, here it is:

1. Finish Hallett's Ledge so we can take FO pics during the trip. Attainable? I think so.

That pile there contains all of the pieces of the sweater and you know what? They're done! I just have to knit up the neck and button bands and sew in the sleeves. Is it wrong of me to hope that the Patriots' game tonight goes into overtime if I need a few more minutes for finishing.

Of course, that's not all the finishing I have to do on this one. I need to block the piece and then sew on buttons, all of which will take a couple of days. Since we're leaving Friday evening I need to be done by Thursday. Still sounds pretty doable.

2. Speaking of things that need to be done by Thursday . . . I also want to cast on for a secret project that will be great plane knitting. The cast on is a bit funky and I should be relatively awake when I do it, so I can't wait on this one until 10:00 on Thursday. As a last resort, I could always cast on in the airport but that sounds like begging for trouble.

Attainable? As long as the finishing on Hallett's Ledge goes smoothly, yes.

3. Come to think of it, I really only have two knitting goals this week. That's better than I thought. All of my other trip knitting has already been decided. My second Marlene sock (rav link) will be a great small project and then when it comes to mindless, feel-good knitting I'll also have this:

This is the third iteration of a little pattern I whipped up several months ago. You've seen two other versions before:

It's absolutely addictive and a great stash-buster. I hope to have a free little pattern for it available soon. Just be careful where you put it down - you might not be able to get it back.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Good news

I passed the bar exam!

(random gratuitous fall pic)

Have a fabulous weekend, everyone. I'm off to celebrate.