Thursday, October 30, 2008

Second Chances

This was a week for second chances – at least knitting-wise.

Last winter I made the wonderful Oblique sweater by Veronique Avery. It me took about 5 months to knit it, and in the end it was too big. When a member of one of the on-line knitting groups offered to buy it from me, I decided to sell it to her, and immediately bought yarn for another one. It was the same yarn – even the same color, though the dye lot for the second one was a little grayer. I was surprised at how much faster it was to knit the second time! The lace patterns were far less intimidating, and after the first few rows I barely had to look at the instructions for each section. Here is the finished product:

Pattern: Oblique, by , Knitty, Fall 2007
Yarn: Ella Rae Classic Wool, approx. 9 skeins (1900 yds)
Needles: KnitPicks Options US #8
Modifications: Omitted waist shaping; shortened cuffs

I have already worn it twice and expect it to be my standard grab-it-whenever-cold sweater for this winter.

My other Second Chance was the Alix Shawl. I had made one for my mother over a year ago, using some colorful sock yarn that seemed a little too colorful for socks. She seemed to like the shawl, but it mysteriously disappeared shortly after I gave it to her. I decided to make her another one, since she is always cold, even in Florida, and wanted to use either sock yarn or a washable wool, and found a nice superwash merino in variegated blues. It was good that it was a totally different colorway from the first shawl, since as I was about to finish it, the original one turned up in one of her dresser drawers!

Pattern: Alix's Prayer Shawl
Size: 64" x 30"
Yarn: Fibranatura Baby Merino (superwash), 4 skeins
Modifications: Crocheted bind-off

As with the Oblique sweater, the shawl was much easier the second time. The pattern for each row seemed very easy to memorize. I'm not sure whether it was easier because I had done the same pattern before, or because of all the more complicated lace knitting I have done in the interim. Either way, it certainly shows that experience pays off.

One more object (though this was not a re-do) finished recently is the Syncopation Mitered Bag:

Pattern: Syncopation Miterd Bag by Sheera Designs
Yarn: Cascade 220 (a little more than one skein) andMadil Yarns Rebus (1.5 skeins)
Needles: US #6
Modifications: None
New skill learned: I-cord

This pattern had the potential to be a nightmare, but it has such clear diagrams that even somebody "geometrically challenged" was able to do it. Once I started to pin labels on each completed section to identify the number of the section, it became much easier.

This pattern may have a Second Chance in its future.

Monday, September 01, 2008

I can't believe it's over

The end of summer always comes as a surprise and a disappointment. Since I love the two months of summer and hate the six months of winter so much, the end of August is always a depressing time. We still operate on an academic year calendar, and while the start of the new school term always brought with it the promise of a fresh start, for a retiree it just means the onset of cold, gray misery.

But enough whining (or whinging, as the Aussies would say).

August was wonderful. We had a delightful vacation cruising in the British Isles (where in fact it was cold, gray, and rainy everywhere we went). And I got an amazing number of UFO's finished.

My "cousin" Michael's wife had twin daughters in July. (The relationship is more complicated than that, but the details are irrelevant and boring.) My major objective for the cruise was to finish these for my visit shortly after our return:

The variegated yarn is Bella Colour, a cotton and acrylic blend from Plymouth Yarn. The pattern is the Toddler Jumper that I got from Discontinued Brand Name Yarn when I bought the yarn in the pink and gray the first time to make a dress for my granddaughter. I bought the blue for the second dress (before I knew the baby would be twins) and had almost enough of the pink left over for another one, but not quite. Fortunately I found the solid gray (Caron Country, a washable wool/acrylic blend) which coordinated color and texture-wise at the local A.C. Moore just before we left. They came out quite nice, don't you think? The babies' mother was delighted with them, which is always nice when you give a hand-knitted gift (and happens far too infrequently).

I couldn't go to visit without a gift for the twins' two-year-old brother, so the few days between our return home and the trip to Miami I went on a knitting blitz and finished the Childhood cardigan just in the nick of time. The yarn was Mission Falls 1824 cotton, which has a very nice feel to it and is supposedly washable (though I would always recommend handwashing for hand knits). The mom was equally delighted with this! One interesting thing about this pattern is that it calls for snaps instead of buttons (though it is shown with fake buttons sown on). I didn't have time to buy buttons, and my wonderful friend Clare had the perfect snaps. I think I like it just as much without buttons, unless you happened to have particularly interesting ones. And it was nice not having to bother with buttonholes.

My other major project for the trip was the Revontuli (Northern Lights) shawl. (Yes, I know the pattern is in Finnish, but the designer fortunately translated it into English.) My mother lives in Florida but is always cold, so I wanted to make her something both colorful and warm. When I saw this pattern on Ravelry I knew it would be perfect in Kauni wool yarn, which comes in a rainbow colorway with very long repeats. It was, unfortunately, less soft than I would have liked, but once knit and washed, it was acceptable. I wasn't sure if my mother would like the colors, but she seemed to be very happy with it. (And she doesn't fake happiness very well.) I had two skeins of yarn and still have about 1/3 of the total left. Until it got really big, it was a good travel project, because the pattern was very easy to keep in mind with only an occasional glimpse at the pattern at the beginning of each row.

I actually did some more knitting in August, but that's enough for one post. More coming... along with some photos from the trip.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Slow Bee finished on time (more or less)

I love this shawl!!! It is a beautiful design, large enough to wrap up in (even for zaftig person), in a wonderful color, shimmering with little silver beads.
Pattern: Slow-Bee Mystery Shawl by Monika Eckert
Yarn: JaggerSpun Zephyr Wool-Silk 2/18, teal
Needles: KnitPicks Harmony #US3
Beads: Silver-lined crystal beads (8/0) - approx. 75 gm from Emelia Beadelia
Modifications: Used Version 2; omitted beads in last two rows before the end

The shawl was a delight to knit. I blew up the charts a bit to make them easier to see, but they were well done. I used an itty bitty crochet hook to add the beads, and it wasn't difficult but it really slowed things down on rows that had a lot of beads. By the end of the shawl, there were over 800 stitches per row, so even the simplest rows took a lot of time. No matter, though – it was fun watching the pattern evolve, and the icy-greenish-blue color along with the shimmery silver beads were perfect for summer knitting.

Mystery KAL organizers always emphasize that it isn't important to keep up with the schedule of clue releases, but it does impose a kind of internal deadline. There were a couple of weeks that I didn't quite make it for one reason or another, but did manage to catch up during the next week. I really wanted to finish it in time to take it on our summer vacation, and just managed to do it with a day or two to spare.

Blocking a shawl this large was something of a challenge. Thank goodness for interlocking foam pads! I didn't much like having to get down on my hands and knees to lay it out, and probably didn't do an optimum job as a result, but the shawl is lovely in spite of a mediocre blocking job. At one point I accidentally stepped on an edge of the shawl, complete with little glass beads... I won't be doing that again any time soon!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Welcome, Mother Earth

Today I am happy to introduce Mother Earth, a.k.a. Spring Shawl Surprise:
Pattern: Mother Earth by Lul (Lene Unmack Larson)
Yarn: ColourMart Cashmere 3/28NM Heavy Lace Weight, approx. 300 gm
Needles: KnitPicks Harmony US#5
Size: 24" x 96" blocked

The yarn is heavier than recommended, so I was concerned that it would be too large, but it is absolutely perfect. Like other Colourmart cashmere, it metamorphosed into something soft and warm and scrumptious after the Tough Love treatment (wash in very hot water with Dawn, subject to the dryer on low for about 15 minutes before blocking). One of the true pleasures of knitting lace is the very last step... seeing it change from an amorphous blob to a beautiful objet d'art. That effect is magnified when the yarn is Colourmart cashmere, which doesn't look or feel like anything special on the cone, but becomes transformed once the spinning oil is washed out and it is fluffed up in the dryer.

According to Lul, her main thought about the design was "to bring out circles and curves (which I pretty soon realized isn’t easy in lace knitting). Circles to represent how almost everything in life is repeating itself again and again, the changing of the seasons, being born –growing up-getting old-dying and a new human born again, sunrise-daytime-sun set and night. It all moves in circles and we are all just part of a bigger event 'Life' , let it be human or nature. Curves to represent the curves of a woman –the main image of the stole being a rather modernistic shape of a pregnant woman. She is standing on the bigger circle that represents the Earth, with the tree of life in the center to remind us that we are all part of the world and we all live important lifes. We may look differently, but we are all the same –man or woman."

Note on photo: Because of the length of the shawl, it was difficult to get a good photo of the whole thing. I finally took a series of shots and let Photoshop do its magic with photomerge. Despite the odd perspective and lighting effects, the shawl really is rectangular and a uniform color.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Trouble is waiting...

Where, o where, is Ma Bell? We have been without phone service for two days, and the Verizon Trouble Report Status page says only that "Trouble is waiting to be dispatched to a technician." Waiting, and waiting, and waiting. I can only imagine a knitter, impatiently tapping her foot as she knits, waiting to be dispatched. This cartoon from A Good Yarn portrays it pretty well.

In the "olden days," the phone line almost never went dead. One the rare occasions that it did, the phone company repaired it the same day. Yet this is the third time in the last three or four months we have lost our phone service, and each time it took two days before it was repaired. (Once we were away, and it was out for over two weeks.) At least this time they didn't insist that we wait at home for their repairman to show up.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Knitting in lieu of tranquilizers

The more we travel, the more stressful it seems to be. I used to get nervous a day or two before a trip. Now it is more like three or four days, and the anxiety is even more intense. When the actual day arrives, it reaches a peak as we wait for the ride to the airport, then sit and wait the obligatory two or three hours for the flight. I have found recently that a combination of knitting and listening to music can help pass the time and is sufficiently distracting to lower the stress level. The same is true during the 3 or 5 or 12 hours of flight time.

This time we had a 12 hour flight to visit our son and grandchildren. I was only gone for 5 days but planned my knitting very carefully. I managed to finish the various pieces of the Scallop Edge Pullover from a recent issue of Knit Simple, worked on the Luscious Lace Scarf from Pixie's Paraphernalia, and fiddled with a ball of Louisa Harding's Kimono Angora until it found a pattern it liked.

The Scallop Edge Pullover is an easy knit, though I made a few changes to the pattern. The back was excruciatingly boring (plain stockinette), but the detail in the front made it much more interesting.

Pattern: Scallop Edge Pullover by Lauren L., Knit Simple (Spr.-Sum. 2008)
Yarn: Lily Chin Chelsea (cotton, merino, acrylic blend) - 8 balls
Needles: Knit Picks Harmony US #4

GAUGE – larger gauge than pattern calls for. I miscalculated the number of stitches to cast on, and then decided to make it an “A” shape, wider at the hips, partly out of laziness (since I didn’t want to frog) and partly because that style is usually flattering. I probably should have ripped it out and started again.
HEM – Simple crocheted edging, because I was afraid the picot hem would be too bulky. That was a mistake. After I did the picot edging around the neck I realized that it would have been fine. Sleeve hem – ditto, but used garter edge.
LENGTH – added several inches. The pattern was much too short.

When all that stockinette got to be too much, I switched to lace. The Luscious Lace Scarf was easy enough to knit with only an occasional glance at the pattern at the beginning of every few rows. The fine cashmere yarn was soft and stretchy and felt lovely in the hand. I am still debating how many more pattern repeats to do. Maybe I will just keep it as an UFO for our summer vacation.

The other project for this trip was to find a satisfactory scarf pattern for the Kimono Angora. It is nice and soft but the colors are really strange. I bought it on sale and thought I liked the colors, then vacillated between love and hate. After trying several different patterns I gave up and just did a simple stockinette rectangle, adding a drop stitch across the row at random intervals, sometimes using single yarnovers and sometimes doubles. This was also good airplane knitting, because there was no pattern to juggle, but the occasional drop stitch rows kept it interesting, along with watching the effect of the color changes.

A lot of knitting was done in those five days. Because of the impossibility of sleeping in the tortured position those airline seats force you into, I alternated knitting (while watching movies or listening to music) with reading. And thanks to jet lag, there was also a lot of knitting time at night once we were there. And thanks to all that knitting, I was much calmer during all that time, and I have a completed sweater and two 75%-finished scarves to show for it – instead of just high blood pressure and palpitations.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Finally, a Cabled Tee

One of the first patterns that caught my eye when I started knitting sweaters again (after a 20+ year hiatus) was the Cabled Tee. Many members of the Ample Knitters group had made this sweater, and the pattern was even written for larger sizes without having to do advanced mathematics to adapt it, but I hadn't done cables for a long time and was a bit intimidated. Plus, I was having so much luxuriating with wool, alpaca, and cashmere, that cotton seemed a little boring. This yarn was a closeout at Web's, and it seemed like a good compromise.

Pattern: Cabled Tee by Maureen Taylor & Patricia Brunner
Yarn: Lily Chin Chelsea (30% merino wool, 35% cotton, 35% acrylic) – 8 skeins
Size: 1X
Needles: Knitpicks Harmony US #5
Modifications: Ribbing in the Twisted Rib pattern used in the Oblique cardigan

I love the way this pattern was written. Directions were given for a variety of sizes at three different gauges, so it wasn't necessary to recalculate anything. O that there were more patterns like this one!

This week I met a friend for a shopping expedition. She wanted to go to the anniversary sale at the Wooly Lamb, a lovely yarn shop in Pennington – not so far for her, but too much of a trip for me under normal circumstances. The staff was very friendly and they had by far the best selection of gorgeous yarns I have ever seen in a real live LYS. The only reason I managed to walk out empty-handed was their sale discount policy: On entering the store, everyone was asked to pick a little slip of paper out of a basket and would get the discount written on the slip. Mine was a 15% discount, and my friend's was a 25% discount. Another friend, who met us there, got a 35% discount! I simply couldn't bring myself to buy anything with my measly 15% off when other people could buy the same items for a lot less. A gorgeous alpaca-silk yarn for a sweater for me would have been over $200 at list price but with S's discount, I might have splurged... after all, my birthday is coming in another 5 months! The truth is that I didn't need it anyway, given the size of my stash, so maybe they were doing me a favor.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Cabling on the Edge

In the many years I have knit sweaters with cables, I never knit (or even thought of knitting) a cable right at the edge. But the beautiful and original pattern by Anna Dalvi for the Mystic Light Shawl KAL includes a cable along the short edges of the triangular shawl. The cable provides for nice firm edges, as well as complementing the design, which also includes a cable down the center.

It was quite daunting to do a cable right at the edge at the beginning of the Knit-Along. Upon the advice of my sister, who managed to start this shawl before I did, I learned how to do the cables without a needle using this tutorial by Wendy Johnson. What a revelation that was! Once you get the hang of it, it is far easier than looking for the cable needle, juggling it around, knitting the cable, and putting it down again (hopefully in a place where it won't get lost before the next cable). It felt awkward at the beginning or the end of a row, but after a few tries it seemed perfectly natural.

Here is the finished shawl and a detailed view of the cables:

Pattern: Mystic Light by Anna Dalvi
Yarn: 2 skeins Fleece Artist Merino Sock 2/6 (764 yards)
Needles: US #7
Size: 34" x 68"

Another interesting aspect of this pattern is that it calls for fingering weight yarn, so it went much faster than most lace. The yarn (amazingly enough, I used the yarn suggested by the designer) is nice and soft, with good drape, and it should offer a little more warmth than lace-weight fabrics.

My very next project after completing this shawl is the Cabled Tee, a short-sleeve sweater with a cable down the front that branches up along the neck. Even after looking at the picture, it didn't occur to me that the cable along the v-neck was right at the edge. (Surely there was a stitch or two border beyond the cable???) In fact, the cable is right at the edge, just like the shawl. It really isn't any harder than a standard cable, though it can be tricky to move those stitches around without dropping the end stitch in the process.

What's next? A break from cables, though I'm sure there will be more in the not-too-distant future. Yesterday was the Cast-on for the Slow Bee Mystery Shawl, and here is the first half of the first clue. The recommended color is "something really cold, like white or natural yarn, icy blue or very dark violet or dark blue" with seed beads. After considering both Teal and Ice Blue Zephyr, both with silver-lined crystal beads, I finally decided on the teal, though both remind me of this photo that I took in Antarctica:

Monday, April 28, 2008

When a Gauge Swatch Isn't Enough

I swatched. I washed the swatch. I measured. I knit – to gauge, I thought. In the 5 months it took to finish this sweater I never thought to try it on, and the dimensions of the pieces seemed to match the schematic. Over the weekend I finished the collar and button band, sewed the pieces together with only two crises (putting the button band on the wrong side of one the fronts, and then sewing the sleeve to the wrong side). This morning I tried it on. Yikes! It could be a tent!

Oblique, by , Knitty, Fall 2007
Yarn: Ella Rae Classic Wool, approx. 9 skeins (1900 yds)
Needles: Denise US #8
Modifications: Omitted waist shaping; shortened cuffs

Things I like about this pattern:
  • The design, with its diagonal focus
  • The combination of lace patterns, including the twisted rib
  • The use of lace patterns with worsted weight yarn
  • Well-written pattern which was easy to follow, even after putting it down for weeks at a time
The only problem is that it is way too big. I should probably have made a size smaller, but past experience had led me to believe that sweaters can't be too big. I am looking for a solution that does not involve frogging the whole sweater and starting from scratch... as much as I enjoyed knitting it, once was enough. Controlled shrinking???

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Drops Jacket Drops off the Needles

Sometimes the yarn is absolutely right for a project, even if it isn't the yarn recommended by the pattern. That was the case with the Kathmandu Aran Tweed I bought for myself after using it for the Cobblestone sweater for R. I had thought about making another Cobblestone sweater for myself and then came upon the Drops Jacket. Here it is:

Pattern: Drops Jacket from
Yarn: Queensland Kathmandu Aran Tweed (Sea Green) – approx. 1400 yds
Size: XXXL
Modifications: Buttons omitted (forgot to put in buttonholes); Collar simplified

It was quite distressing to realize that I zipped through the second front without putting in the buttonholes. (The instructions said to do it the same way as the other front, but in reverse, and with buttonholes.) But then a quick look through the Drops Jackets on Ravelry showed that I wasn't the only one, and it looked fine with a shawl pin as a closure, or even with nothing at all. The collar modification was more intentional: The collar as shown with the original pattern seemed bulky, especially given the heavy yarn, so I made it smaller and simpler. I wasn't sure how it was going to come out, but in the end it was perfect.

With the arrival of spring, this sweater (jacket?) is perfect for those days when it is colder outside than it looks. We've had lots of those lately.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A Close Call

Spring has finally come! Here is the ornamental plum tree in our front yard. It always blooms at the beginning of April and was a little late this year, when we were about to despair that winter was going to hang on forever.

One of the ironies of the arrival of spring after a too-long winter is that I am finishing up several items that we won't use until the weather turns cold again.

There is nothing like knitting to get your heartrate up, when it looks like you might not make a deadline or, even worse, you might run out of yarn. Yesterday I was about to start the edging of the Hemlock Ring Throw and realized that there wouldn't be enough yarn to complete the edging, so the last repeat of the Feather and Fan section was frogged before starting the edging. Half-way around, the remaining ball of yarn started looking very small. Too small. Miniscule. The remaining circumference was looking very, very large. What to do??? Knit faster! It was hard to take the suspense, and I could feel myself breathing harder, my pulse rate up, and the tension was still mounting as I started the last of the eight sections. What would happen if I missed by a yard? A foot? Would I ever find another skein of yarn in the same dye lot? Finally it was over...

The photo shows how much yarn was left at the end, barely enough to thread through a tapestry needle to weave in, maybe 2 inches. And that was after cheating a bit on a few of the loops in the last section. Whew! The edging takes a lot more yarn than one would think! It is now blocking and I think we will get a lot of use out of it next winter. I may even consider making another one as a gift.
Pattern: Hemlock Ring Blanket by Jared Flood, a.k.a. Brooklyntweed
Yarn: Cascade Ecological Wool, 2 skeins (956 yards less 2 inches) Color #8063
Needles: Denise #10
Size: approx. 48" diameter (blocked)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Travel knitting: a scarf, a shawl, and a hat (or 3)

Planning knitting for a trip can be a challenge. It can't be big and bulky (like an afghan or most sweaters); it has to be interesting enough to keep you from getting bored, and it can't be so complicated that it is hard to concentrate in adverse conditions like airplanes and noisy airports.

For our recent trip to South America I settled on the Kiri Shawl plus a scarf and a hat. The Kiri was a good choice pattern-wise, though my color choice – black – was probably not the wisest choice for the dim lighting of airplanes and hotel rooms. I really need a black shawl, which is why I decided on this yarn for this pattern, and the Kiri seemed like a good straight-forward design for something in a dark color, where a lot of detail would be lost. The yarn was lace-weight Zephyr, doubled. (I wound a ball off the cone, then wound yarn from the ball together with yarn from the cone. At home, I probably would have just knit with the ball and the cone without bothering to wind them together.)

Sometimes the yarn just doesn't want to be knitted into a particular pattern. I had a few balls of Filatura di Crosa 127 Print that I thought of using for a scarf in a feather-and-fan pattern, but it just wasn't working. There was lots of time on a 12-hour flight to experiment, sleep not being an option, so there was much frogging and re-knitting before I settled on a simple rectangle with yarnovers every eight rows. With the yarn that was left I was able to make two hats, the Floppy Brim Hat me and a simple ribbed cap for R. (His hat is photo-less since it is temporarily MIA.)

The other project for this trip was the North Star Tam from Arctic Lace. In the absence of quiviut yarn, I used some Yubina Laceweight Cashmere, doubled. There was a little problem with gauge, and being away from home I didn't have a wide variety of needles or other resources, so I just plugged away and then made some modifications at the end. The shape of the resulting hat isn't really a tam, but it is soft and warm and covers the ears. There was still time (and yarn) to do the scarf, but I got through two pattern repeats before deciding that I didn't love it enough to knit all those stitches in such fine yarn, so the scarf is now a permanent UFO and will eventually be frogged.

Other knitters like to work on socks while travelling, but I always seem to be at the complicated part (the heel), where I have to pay close attention to the instructions. Somehow it take more effort planning the knitting for a trip than the wardrobe. What I learned this time is that one project isn't enough... If it doesn't work out, it would be terrible to be stranded on an airplane/ship/tour with nothing to knit!

Last week I had to make an emergency trip to Florida. The flight was 3 hours each way, plus the requisite 2 hours in the airport for the departing and returning flights, so even if I had no other time to knit, there would be a solid 10 hours of knitting. There was some Colourmart cashmere in my stash left over from the oh-so-aggravating Sprinkle Lace Cardigan, and I chose the Falling Water Scarf as a gift for a friend. It is a beautiful but simple lace pattern, and it worked well in the cashmere. It was almost finished by the time I got home. This pattern is definitely a keeper... in the right yarn it would work for either a woman or a man.

Monday, March 17, 2008

South America – Many Sheep, Not Much Yarn

We spent two weeks recently on a wonderful cruise in South America. We started in Valparaiso, Chile, sailed along the coast of Chile through the starkly beautiful fjords, continued down to Tierra del Fuego and throught the Straits of Magellan, and up the east coast of Argentina to Buenos Aires with additional visits to the Falkland Islands and Montevideo, Uruguay). All of these areas are major sheep-grazing regions, with mile after mile of Patagonia devoted to grazing sheep and, in some areas, the occasional herd of alpacas. And yet... NOWHERE* was I able to find a place to buy yarn! Since much of the commercially available yarn in the U.S. comes from South America, this was a real surprise.

The only yarn that came home with me were two hanks of roughly processed undyed wool that I bought in Coyhaique, Chile, a town that seems pretty far from anywhere else. When I asked our charming young guide if there was a place in town to buy yarn, she told me that her Grandma might have some in the market. Indeed, as we walked through the plaza to the market I spotted two women winding yarn, and the woman on the right was Grandma. She knits sweaters, hats, and ponchos and sells them in her small shop. I bought two hanks of yarn from her

though I am not sure what to do with it. It is too rough to wear close to the skin, but might work for a poncho if there is enough yarn. Our guide was so bright and enthusiastic, and I was feeling so yarn-deprived, that I just wanted to buy something there.

The other irony of this situation was that Michelle, the aforementioned guide, told us that the main industry of this region (near Puerto Chacabuco and Puerto Aisen) is salmon fisheries. The salmon is raised on farms and shipped directly to Japan. None of the fish is available to residents of the area, unless it comes back from Japan in a can. (An interesting discussion of the ecological problem with these fisheries can be found here.)

Perhaps the yarn produced in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and Peru (where I failed to find yarn last year) has the same problem... It originates here in large quantities but is produced only for export. So back to buying high-quality wool and Alpaca on line!
*There are several yarn shops in Buenos Aires, but our "tour" between the ship and the airport didn't take us to that area.

Monday, January 21, 2008

My New Favorite Sweater

This is my new favorite sweater. I finished weaving in the ends over the weekend and tried it on for size. And then I didn't want to take it off!

Pattern: Central Park Hoodie by Heather Lodinsky
Size: 52
Yarn: Queensland Kathmandu DK, 12 balls (approx. 1750 yd.)
Needles: Knitpicks Options US #6

The yarn is a beautiful tweed, 85% wool, 10% silk, and 5% cashmere. I originally bought it because I really wanted the Aran tweed, but it was out of stock at Webs (where it was a closeout). Of course, after I bought the DK version, Webs got in a new shipment of the Aran, so I had to buy that too! As it turns out, though, the DK was a better choice for this sweater. It has just the right weight, drape, and warmth for a sweater to wear all winter in my too-cold house. I still need buttons for it, but it is fine even without them.

The pattern was originally published in Knitscene (Fall, 2006) and was so popular that Interweave Press offered it for sale as a separate pattern, with additional sizes (up to 60"). Way to go, Interweave!!! The best part is that the plus sizes were actually worked up separately by Lisa Shroyer, and not simply resized proportionately. (You can see it modelled on a Gallery at Knitting Daily.) Lisa also provided an alternative button band, with crocheted loops instead of buttonholes.

I fought the urge to wear the CPH today for the third day in a row, but my efforts were useless. I only hope that I don't wear it out before I can make another cardigan from that Kathmandu Aran Tweed sitting in my stash.

And now for something completely different...

The Spring Shawl Surprise mystery KAL proceeds and now awaits the fourth clue. There are a few little errors that I hope nobody else will notice. Unfortunately I didn't notice them myself until I pinned it out to take the photo, and they were too far back to frog. Now I am worried about the yarn – luscious as Colourmart cashmere is, I am having doubts about whether it was right for this project. On the other hand, if the yarn is gorgeous enough, maybe it will compensate for knitting errors...

Monday, January 07, 2008

Ending the year with a Finished Object

The knitting year ended with completion of the Cobblestone Sweater. It was received so enthusiastically by its recipient that I am even contemplating knitting him another sweater!

Pattern: Cobblestone by Jared Flood, Interweave Knits, Fall 2007
Yarn: Queensland Kathmandu Aran Tweed, 12 skeins (approx. 1200 yds)
Needles: Knitpicks Harmony US #7
Size: 48"

Despite the fact that I swatched and seemed to be knitting to gauge, the sweater is a little too big, though he seems to like it that way. I am tempted to try to shrink it a bit, but am nervous about overdoing it. But more about shrinkage later...

The yarn is very soft, with an interesting texture. I bought the same yarn in green for a sweater for myself, and I may even do the same pattern, though maybe at a slightly tighter gauge.

Another year-end project was totally inadvertent... I washed my beautiful Alberta shawl, which has been dragged around mercilessly over the past year, and which was looking decidedly dingy. I put it in the washing machine on the extra gentle cycle, and out came my first felted object!

The "new" shawl is still wearable, but it is smaller both in width and in length. The plus side is that it is probably warmer than the original.

The new year has brought with it the usual array of resolutions, including completing the backlog of UFO's, going on a yarn diet (not to mention the other kind), and refraining from casting on new projects until the old ones are finished. It is now one week into 2008 and I have already violated all of them.

Late last week I read comments on several blogs about the Spring Shawl Surprice (yes, spelled that way!) KAL. After Swan Lake, aka Mystery Stole 3, I decided to forego mystery shawls for a while, since I have a long To Do list of patterns that I have actually seen. But then I was drawn in by photos of the first clue of Spring Shawl, and discussions of the spelling (just a typo by someone who is not a native English speaker) and couldn't resist. Some green Colourmart cashmere was calling out from my stash and seemed like the perfect choice for this project.

Because 2007 ended with the demise of my computer and the sudden purchase of a new one, the last few weeks have been consumed with setting up the new computer, installing software, recovering data from backups, and dealing with assorted driver and software conflicts. This all put a huge crimp in my knitting time. I am hoping to spend more time knitting and less time in front of the computer in 2008.