Sunday, March 25, 2007

the Cashmere Cowl

Well, it's been finished for a little while now (I've even managed to get some wear out of it before spring has truly sprung) so it's time I updated about it:

Pattern: the purl bee
Yarn: Posh Yarns 100% hand dyed cashmere (colour: raspberry)
Needles: 5mm addi Turbos

Well, there's not much to say here, it's your basic 1X1 ribbed tube. I did it an inch or so shorter than specified, mostly because this yarn was lace weight and I'd doubled stranded it. I rolled up the second ball using my best guest, so when it ran out I just bound off rather than add any more yarn. The colour is great, darker and lighter in spots, up close it's really beautiful. I blocked it as well and stretched it a bit longer and wider so it's nice and floppy. (Though not as floppy as the alpaca cowl I had previously done). At one point I threw it in my purse at work, and my favourite hand cream exploded all over it, so it kinda sorta got a second blocking after that. But now it smells AWESOME. I want to eat my neck whenever I wear it.

Not sure why this took me so long to knit...I feel like I am seriously bored with everything I'm knitting right now, but I'm trying to force myself not to start anything new until at the very least Flair is done, though it looks like I'm about to run out of yarn (so far I've made the thing about 5 inches longer and with a lot more "swing") so I guess it's no wonder. I'm praying wool tyme will still have some left in the same dye lot.

Next update, BIG purchases on the horizon!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

My mom is a dynamo

I was at my folks place this weekend doing my usual mooching: laundry facilities, car borrowing (see previous post for ol' gummy's dental surgery), knitting help (she's the closest thing I have to a SNB, though mostly she just bitches about my pattern choices -hah!), and FOOD, always food. She made me grilled cheese sandwiches as only a mother can (one bite of yum yum pickle for every bite of sandwich). And oh yeah, often I steal toilet paper, and whatever I can get my hands on from the freezer. She's the ultimate fifties putz-frau and I, my siblings and nephews particularly get to reap those rewards.

So I took the opportunity for a couple of snapshots of knitted items she's donating to my fabulous sister's children's caregiver auction. (I'm sure I got that wrong, but anyway, she's the director at this place.

My mom will agonize over the details of little knitted things in a way I could never be bothered with. How cute are these?

Her current M.O is to purchase the book that the child care provider will be reading to the children and then KNIT THE INDIVIDUAL CHARACTERS IN THE STORY. So I'm sorry I didn't get a better shot of that Old Macdonald book, but she's literally got the dog the same as the one in the book, the donkey the same, etc. etc.

She also did a similar thing with Snow White and the seven dwarves, which I've mentionned before, but here they are all packaged up with the book:

Too Cute! Usually at Christmas she will purchase new Barbie dolls, knit additional dresses and outfits for them, stuff those down inside the box the doll comes in and THEN drop it off at the toy drive. Who does this?

If I had her knitting skills I would probably use my powers for evil instead of all that good she does.

And oh, I'm heading to Montreal tomorrow ---any fantabulous yarn stores I should be aware of?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Tears were shed.

May I introduce this weekend's two problems:

1) Flair

2) Poncho

Let me start with Flair...and I say this mostly for Sarah's benefit in an effort to save her some of the anguish I experienced this week. Hopefully you haven't already started your Flair (honestly I can't say that word without chuckling about my minimum 15 pieces of flair), though even if you have cast on already, you're likely not dumb enough to make the same mistakes I did!

So, friday night, this was my flair:
(image deleted)

It was exciting --I was four balls in and half done the body. I was literally just about to divide the sleeves off and really sink my teeth into finishing it. And then: hmmm, something appears to be weird with the front section.

Now in theory, knitting everything all at once is a great idea. Not having to seam anything in the end, I am ALL for that. But herein lies the intrinsic flaw with knitting everything all at once: If you make a mistake in ONE section, you can't just fix it. Every section becomes infected with the problem. And that was my problem: too many stitches in the front section. SO even though my entire back portion was half done, BOTH sleeves were half done, my three inches of edging and button holes were half done...I had 19 extra stitches in my two front sections. Everything had to be torn out. I literally felt like crying. Particularly when you're knitting everything at once like this, and each row is 300 plus stitches, it's incredibly frustrating. One row would literally take me about twenty minutes to knit across. And the purl rows? blech.

I have frogged it all and started over. I'm about one ball in again and feeling better about it. Much like writing, I chalk the starting over process up to being an opportunity to make it better the second time around. Even if I wrote the great American novel (Canadian novel?) and it all went up in a fire, I know that draft number two would still be far superior to the first, right?

More annoying still is that it's the pattern that threw me, right from row number one.

So here's my own version:

Row 1: do it the same as the pattern indictes with all the KFB's and blah blah blah. The part that threw me is that the very first stitch is a KFB then SM, which I will come back to.

Row 2: purl

Then the pattern says repeat rows 1 and 2 three times more. This is where it got a bit confusing for me. You can't just start off with a KFB, SM again like in row #1 because you've already created an extra stitch the first time around. And you know, I'm a realtively new knitter, so these things aren't always intuitive for me. So I just pressed on, doing my KFB as the first stitch on the front section every time. WRONG. This is why I had so many extra stitches.

So I present to you how those pattern lines should probably have been written (apologies to anyone uninterested in this pattern and already snoozing at this point):

Row 1: same as pattern indicates
Row 2: purl
Row 3: K1, KFB, SM... (continue on as row 1 indicates...)
Row 4: purl
Row 5: K2, KFB, SM...
Row 6: purl
Row 7: K3, KFB, SM...
Row 8: purl

This way your increases will at least always be in the right spot--this all becomes more relevant when you cast on additional stitches and place another marker that you should NOT be increasing after like all the others (the seed stitch reminder), though the pattern doesn't really indicate this. I also encountered another issue later on with button holes, where you're expected to start a button hole on the 14th RS row and then subsequent 12th RS rows. The confusing bit here is that RS rows are always odd numbered, and this indication therefore makes no sense. I'm basically just starting my button holes on every 13th row and hoping that this doesn't somehow bite me in the ass later on.

Archie did enjoy helping me tear it all apart though.

(image deleted)

OK, this post has already become a bit of a novel, so I will spare you the ├╝ber details about Poncho's emergency dental surgery yesterday (3! extractions) for my groggy senior who will heretofor be known exclusively as Gummy Joe. More hilarious was his initial visit to the vet on Saturday as 1) we didn't realize the St. Patty's Day parade was going on and 2) we had to park ten blocks from the vet and weave through the world's most obnoxious parade with a cat that was about to explode with fear. All to say that I think Poncho officially hates the Irish now.

In other knitting news, I've completed the back of the Alpaca Vest, and the new thing I learned here was the "t-wrap". Which I might add was impossible to find any info on, but calls it a short row with wrap so it's no wonder I couldn't find it. I did find a good written explanation for it here. I'm still not entirely sure that I did it right, and am just hoping that because that yarn is so fine, in the end it may not matter. As my mom said when helping me "why must you pick such complicated patterns?!" But in my defense I thought "It's a vest, how hard can it be?". As I read ahead I'm realizing that the ribbed V-neck portion gets somehow seamed back on which has the potential to be annoying. My current knitting mantra is "ignore the problem and it will go away".
If only.

Monday, March 05, 2007

will the real Slouch please stand up...

...or flop down.

pattern: Lopi pattern book #24 (hodd)
yarn: Alafoss Lopi #9962 (ruby heather) & #9970 (raspberry heather)
needles: 12 mm (US #17) bamboo circulars

This is probably the fastest knit on record. I think it took me less than two hours. Not only is it knit on giant needles, but it's knit using two strands at once for half the hat, so it went up very fast. Provided no one has a problem with "itchy" wool I can see myself using this for a number of Xmas presents this year. A couple of things I would do though is probably shorten the number or ribbed and straight rows. It's VERY floppy. Far floppier than le slouch that I'd made earlier. maybe "floppy" is the wrong word, actually. BIG or chunky might be better.

I knit the entire thing on circulars which became incredibly challenging the last couple of rows. Do you think I could find a set of size 17 douple pointed needles anywhere in this town? nope. ebay? nope. yes. They were 18$. Shipping was $20. No thanks. At one point I actually contemplated elastic-ing (not a word, surely?) two or three sets of smaller DPNs together to finish it off with, but then just thought better of it. So I went as far as I could on the circs and then just kinda winged it. Next time I should probably just grab a couple of branches off the tree out back and whittle my own.

ooo, arty:

(image deleted)

noo, lazy. How lazy? I really wanted to show the floppiness of this hat on me, but could not even drag myself away from the computer to take a proper photo. The computer wasn't. even. on. Also I'm home with a broken neck (well not really) today, and simply could not muster up the strength to put any make-up on for a photo. So, that's what you get. A photo that at first glance looks like a black screen. But that said, I'm way happier with how this hat looks on than any of the other hats I've knit recently, though it is very warm. If I ever wanted to climb Everest in style, this would be the hat.