Thursday, May 26, 2011

On and off the needles

Oh, you wanted knitting? I can do that, too.

I've had an idea for another sweater for Tadpole bouncing around in my head for a while and last night I actually got around to crunching some of the numbers and casting on.

It doesn't look like much yet but I hope it turns out as cute and clever as it is in my head. And if I'm really good I'll put together a pattern, too.

I was shocked when I counted this morning because I'm more than half-way through the edging on Rock Island.

It's always interesting to follow the progression of memorizing a pattern repeat. I start out staring at the chart for every stitch, then I check every row. A few more repeats along I only look when I think I'm doing something wrong but I keep the chart out the whole time. Several more repeats later, I realize that I'm not looking at the chart at all. And finally, I don't pull out the chart when I grab the project from the knitting basket. 

It would probably be a good idea to throw in a lifeline at this point but I like knitting on the edge.

Forty-two repeats down, twenty-nine more to go. Shoot, I was much happier before I thought of that second figure.

I even have an almost FO to share. After the tornados that hit Alabama a few weeks ago, Elizabeth announced that she was starting Blankets for Birmingham and asked knitters to contribute knitted squares that she would put together into blankets for those who had lost their homes. I'm having fun playing with a new-to-me cotton (Cascade Ultra Pima) and contributing to the cause.

I still need to weave in the ends and block the square (and knit a few more) but this is still good progress.

One more almost FO. I finished the first of my green socks a little while ago but it wasn't until today that I found my favorite sock model ever.

She doesn't always manage to stay upright by herself but she's working on it. Corners help.

So do fists.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Bits of green

The field across the street has this haze of spring green that is absolutely lovely (what is this "field" in the middle of a big metropolitan city? "Giant tract of undeveloped land probably owned by a railroad otherwise it would be full of condos by now" doesn't have quite the same ring to it). And my knitting basket is showing similar signs of the season.

This little lovely that is growing slowly but surely (I'm perhaps 5 rows farther along than what you can see in the photo) is Fernfrost by Anne Hanson. It's a fun textural lace pattern that I'm knitting up in one of the nicest yarns I have ever worked with: qiviuk. That's right, qiviuk. My local yarn shop started carrying these a couple of months ago and Mr. Tinks and Frogs snagged one just before Tadpole was born and gave it to me as a hobbit-style birthday present. It's just lovely. The fiber is incredibly soft and has a beautiful halo. Ok, now I want to put the computer down and pick up that project.

Moving along, I finally started Rock Island! My mother's day present included a bit of time to start this project, something that I've been looking forward to for a while now.

I think I've done 7 or so repeats of the edging chart at this point. Only 60-something more to go.

This green trend extends outside the apartment, too. Last weekend I finally did something that I've been looking forward to since we moved into this place last spring.

I finally got my container garden going. There are asiatic lilies,

cherry tomatoes (do you need to stake cherry tomato plants?),


and mint.

I have a feeling we'll be having a lot of tomato/basil pasta dishes and mojitos this summer. Yum!

Monday, May 2, 2011

FO: not Rock Island

But I'm close! The yarn is even wound up into a ball (thanks, Mr. Tinks and Frogs, for taking care of that one) and is resting in the knitting basket just waiting for me to have a chunk of time to sit down and dive into the pattern.

Leaving aside what I haven't done yet, let's turn to the much more satisfying subject of what I have accomplished. This:

Pattern: Maile Sweater by Nikki Van De Car
Yarn: Dream in Color Rustic Sock, about 3/4 of a skein, in colorway Rusty Lilac
Needles: size 5 addi lace circulars
Mods: This is a basic bottom-up raglan sweater with a lace panel inserted between the raglan decreases, so I made a few changes in keeping with how I like to make a bottom-up raglan (and to fit the recipient). First, I made the body and sleeves a bit longer than the pattern called for. Tadpole is long and I'm hoping this mod, which was entirely unscientific - I just knit until it looked right, will help the sweater last a bit longer.

Second, I worked the sleeves in the round. It's quick and easy to knit a tiny tube with magic loop and this saved me the trouble of sewing up sleeve seams at the end of the project.

Third, and this is the biggest one, I disregarded the designer's instructions for joining the arms to the body at the start of the yoke. The pattern doesn't reserve any stitches for the underarm and instead has you knit all of the body and sleeve stitches together into a giant row. Why? The designer notes that she doesn't like the feel of an underarm with bound-off stitches and wanted to avoid that. After reading several pattern notes on ravelry, I was pretty sure I didn't want to follow the pattern as written since it puts a fair amount of tension on the stitches where the sleeves and body come together. Instead, I put 10 sleeve stitches and 10 body stitches on holders at the underarm and then grafted these together at the end using kitchner stitch. It's a nice, seamless join and seems to fit the body nicely.

Because I was working on fewer yoke stitches than the pattern called for, I worked four rounds straight after joining the sleeves to the body before I began the raglan decreases. I added the first buttonhole as soon as I started the decreases/lace pattern and ended up with three buttonholes compared with the pattern's five. I also ignored the instructions on when to stop decreasing and knit until I had used up all of the sleeve stitches.

It's a cute pattern and has a lot of personal significance for the designer but I don't think I'll knit it again. The leaf lace pattern at the yoke is a bit droopy for my taste so I may use this design as a template and substitute in lace patterns that I like better. All that said, it was a great pattern for this yarn.

What about the yarn? I'd never heard of Rustic Sock before - it was an experiment by Dream in Color yarns that will never be put into production - but the colors in the skein grabbed me when I went to the Dream in Color seconds sale last fall. It's a 3-ply fingering weight yarn and the plies have varying thicknesses and degrees of twist. This makes for a lovely, light fabric. It's great for a baby sweater but I don't think it would wear well for socks.

Ok, enough chatter and onto the important question: does the recipient like it? She's still working on her modeling skills (her "awake" modeling skills, to be fair) but she was pretty content while I took a quick photo shoot yesterday.

Of course, I don't think I got a single shot where she was holding still and I was able to get both her sweater and her face in focus. But she's cute enough that it doesn't matter a bit.