Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Merry New Year?

Oh man, I am painfully slow on the uptake this year... I hope everyone's having a great holiday season!

I did virtually zero Christmas knitting this year. I started out with the best of intentions (as always) and began cranking out random hats. There's 8 other people on my team at work that I was thinking I'd make them for. And then apathy (and some illness) struck me and those plans flew out the window. In the end I came through with approximately 1.5 hats. (I think I've officially banished the .5 in that equation as well).

I had a massage appointment on december 18th, so mostly by virtue of the date (and her general awesomeness) that's who the hat in question went to: my RMT! She has the misfortune of seeing me naked on an almost monthly basis so I suppose it's the least I could do!



pattern: le Slouch by Wendy Bernard (I've knit this several times now...it's the perfect "slouchy" beret I'd say...)
yarn: Patons Shetland Chunky in "wine"
needles: 4mm
mods: I only knit to it's shortest slouch specified. It's more than slouchy enough...


My creepy headform "Sam" makes another appearance, as this picture was really all the energy I could muster in terms of taking a photo of myself wearing it.

I figured this whole exercize would be a great excuse for me to stash-bust. Here's what I've discovered about my ability to stash bust: it's pathetic. This is how things generally go: "I know, I'll knit a hat with that 3/4 ball of Shetland chunky I have left!" knit. knit. knit. "Hmmmmm, I've run out of yarn." drive. to. store. buy. new. ball. knit. knit. knit. Finish hat. (with different dye-lot on top). Put remaining 3/4 of NEW ball of Shetland chunky back in the stash. Stash remains exactly the same."

blargh.

There's also two newer things on the sticks (also being knit-from-stash, so here's hoping I don't run into the exact same issue...)

The Colonnade shawl from Knitty,



and the Destroyed cowl which will be some nice mindless knitting for me.



Listening to my Stash and Burn podcast recently they were talking about having a knitting "gift box" for all those items you knit and basically have no use for the second they're done (in my case, a SEA of hats) and I thought "Man what a GREAT idea!" So I definitely plan to put that plan into action for 2010. Maybe by Xmas next year I'll just be able to pull from the box for any last minute knit gifts.

I was also gifted some yarn for this for my birthday as well (yes, I'm a Christmas baby...)


Cape Nebuleuse from Phildar.com

I know I'm taking a chance here --how attractive can one look in a blanket with a neck hole? (Y'all know none of us look ggod in our snuggies!) And knitting a cape also flies in the face of my hatred for ponchos. Cape. Poncho. I'm walking a fine line. I've convinced myself that it's the difference between chic and say, covered in mud at Woodstock.

At any rate I have yet to cast on for it...that's likely to happen in the next couple of days. And hopefully I'll be able to get my act together enough for my usual New Year's Knitolutions post and a look back at 2009.

Happy New Year everyone!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Cowl Nation

sweet bejebus I am so behind on posting about things!

See I'm still a redhead here:



You know, I think I actually finished knitting this at least a month ago now. (And it's already gotten LOTS of wear...)



yarn: Sublime Cash Merino Silk DK (about 2 and a half balls?)
needles: 5mm circs
pattern: Eternity Scarf from Michele Wang

Now, Michele is one of those people whom I've never actually met in "real life" but who I feel a definite affinity for. Hers was one of the first blogs I came across when I first started knitting and getting into this whole blogging/online knitting community dealio. Really I'm not even sure how I found her way back then, but I'm glad I did. She has great taste, and just recently has started to come out with a few patterns. (And currently so many cowls! and you KNOW I can't resist a good cowl!)

This one is no exception...and I am already planning a second one in a slightly more appropriate yarn. The Sublime yarn I used here was a serious splurge for me originally and was left over from the Raglan Wrap sweater I finished earlier this year. But then horror! I still didn't have enough and a trip to my LYS to replenish was met with mad disappointment (I think this colour is discontinued?! why?!) Undeterred I then tore out the Birthday Cowl in order to finish it off. I mean, I liked that one too but meh, it can be knit again.

Seriously I feel like that's my M.O lately. I have been really, REALLY good about buying NO new yarn...unless it is for a specific project that is to begin upon purchase of said yarn. As a result though I seem to either be tearing out previous knits (possibly boring for you as a reader having to see the same yarn over and over again?) OR knitting from stash projects that I can't possibly hope to complete with the amount of yarn actually IN said stash (resulting in secondary trips to my LYS to "finish things off" --often in a different dye lot). Dare I say that I think it's time to just start THROWING.OUT incomplete balls of yarn. I'm hanging on to this odd assortment of blobs of angora and stuff, I mean really, what will I ever do with it??? Still, the fear of purging it remains.

Anyhoozle, my side-track rant about my yarn woes aside, the Sublime did make for gorgeous stitch definition:


I love how that cartridge rib turned out!

But I don't know that I'd use a DK like this again (I find I am wearing it doubled-up more than anything, it's quite stretchy) or if I was smarter I would have cast on probably 20 or 30 less stitches with it. Something to think about at any rate if you're planning to knit this in something similar.



The same week I knit another cowl in Twinkle soft chunky. (Let's get real...that stuff is so huge it took me like 20 minutes). It has since been frogged and is awaiting another incarnation...it never even made it to the photo stage.

But this beast did:


(greetings to the new brunette)

And, yeah you can tell by my non-woven-in ends the fate that this chunky cowl is also about to meet.



That is the My kind of cowl from ttwcreative. It calls for one skein of Cascade Magnum (which is what that is...) but I didn't have quite one skein, and that really made all the difference. It's knit flat and seamed, so if you don't knit it long enough, the cowl will never be "wide" enough. Exactly my problem here. Just a few more inches and it would have been perfect, ah well. It's still wearable (and I am still in love with this awesome purple...), but I can't really pull it down onto my shoulders. Which makes for a little bit of "neck claustrophia".

I tell yah though, there's nothing warmer than this bad boy. Sometimes I'd just throw it on when I was cold and sittin' on the sofa watching a movie, but it's like narcolepsy in a cowl --impossible to stay conscious for the duration of any movie while wearing it. You slip it on and immediately fall into a deep coma! At present my cat is currently using it as a bed when he's cold too.

Hmmm, would it kill us to turn the HEAT up? Um, Apparently.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

First Fair-Isle!

So lately I've been missing me some Julia time. I know, I know, I will probably see her at Christmas, but her blog's been pretty quiet lately (I am also guilty of this...) and then I remembered "Duh!" she's been doing some stuff over on the Patons blog, so off I went...

And what did I discover, but a KAL in progress!

Now, first let me say that I'm not really much of a "joiner". I'm more of an organizer I'd say, so while for a split second I thought "maybe I should join this kal?", a dose of reality got the better of me and I remembered "oh yeah, it's all I can do to update my OWN blog let alone add to another". Plus I'm kind of bad at progress pictures lately...and by the time I get around to posting about the process, said item is usually DONE and I'm anxious to skip that step and just post my completed F.O. (naturally sweaters are a different story!)

Secondly I need to point out that this was their chosen project:


The Patons Fair Isle Tam.


(this image borrowed from FiberFervor from the KAL's flickr group...)

Yes, it's beautiful, and yes it's Fair Isle, so it looks appropriately intricate.

That said...Fair Isle? I'm really not a fan. Maybe I'm supposed to be because I'm a knitter? I think I don't like it because it sort of goes against my general fashion sense, which for the most part is a wardrobe full of basics and neutrals with pops of colour. I'm a Plain-Jane for the most part. Garish patterns and bright colours all over the place send me screaming for the hills.

Yet still, I was intrigued. I've always wanted to take a stab at knitting some fair isle, and what better than a fast, non-committal hat to get me started?

Done. It was decided. But I refused to agonize over colours and whatnot, so I ran up to my stash to see what Patons wool was there. I had about 6 colours in the stash (all neutrals, naturally!). I needed five. Even the process of deciding which colour to omit was pain-staking, so I cannot image the anguish I would endure if I had given myself all and any options. If you go over to the blog you'll notice people have charted out all their colours - -clearly the way to go-- but not something I would ever have the patience for. As it was I didn't even draw mine out on graph paper --I just sat there cursing the chart I was looking at that had nothing to do with the colours I was actually knitting. Every stitch was "ok, the chart says green, that's my dark grey" I didn't even write it down, I just went from memory (it's a miracle that I didn't screw that up).

And now here it is in all it's glory:





AND, I absolutely love it. I think the fact that I chose so many neutral colours has actually made this a very wearable hat for me. I've worn it a few times already and gotten many compliments. Several folks have asked me if it's "store bought", which I presume is a non-knitter's compliment haha.

My one issue though is my grey on grey combination. It does kind of make for a nearly invisible "star" pattern on the top and kind of belies the intricacy of the pattern. You'd sort of never really know to look at it at first glance that I used as many colours as I did. The gold winds up drawing the eye more than anything else and looking like a sunflower on top. If I did it again, I'd swap out one of those greys for something a tad brighter so that the outer star shape would pop a bit more. And I'm actually thinking that I may still knit this hat another time. I'm not sure what I was so afraid of, but it really only took me a couple evenings of TV-watching-knitting to get it done.

It's definitely given me the confidence to move on to a bigger fair-isle project if I so choose (though I don't really see that in my future), and I'd seriously recommend it as a first stab at fair isle if you were looking for one.



I also haven't blocked the hat. I'm really not into making it all "tam" style but prefer a slouchier beret, which I think is evident in these pictures. Blocking it may have made the pattern pop a little more.

For those interested I used 4mm needles, and just some Patons Classic Merino wool from my stash, but my colours were: Black, Olive, Mercury, Old Gold and Grey (sorry the actually name of this grey escapes me...)

I had a picture of the inside of the hat that I must have deleted, but I was pretty proud of my "floats" as well, particularly for a first try. All that "extra" carried-over yarn in there will make for a warm winter hat!


Don't mind my vaccuous robot face...really not sure what I'm smirking at here--pleased that I'd conquered fair isle perhaps??

And desperate for some new "winter" hair I have gone back to my roots (pun intended) and am officially a brunette again. Bye-bye red (for now...)!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

let the giftin' begin!

I saw this shawl recipe a while back all over Ravelry and immediately queued it. Of course at the time I also queued several others that were kinda similar too. I think I was itching to make a non-lacy, non granny-ish, basic, neutral shawl.

Shawls to me are in some ways just scarves with more options. Plus it seemed like everyone on ravelry who had knit this managed to crank out a winner, so in the end this one came out on top.



free pattern: textured shawl recipe from Orlane
needles: 5mm
yarn: 5 balls Mirasol Contanani (60% cotton, 40% merino)in colour # 401 (gray)





Shawls. Not just for Grandma anymore.

Ummm, except this one--it actually is for Nathaniel's 90 year old gran. I know she likely won't be able to make it to our wedding so I wanted to send her a little something (she's in a retirement home in Toronto) to let her know we're thinking of her. We've also just learned that she recently suffered a bout of pneumonia so hopefully this will warm her up a little bit as well. (ok, I know it doesn't really work that way...) and I'm still on the hunt for a shiny brooch to include with it.

This really is a shawl "recipe" as stated. If you're on Ravelry you'll notice everyone listing their own version of the recipe, so I would be remiss if I didn't also include mine here I think.

I was super-excited when I found this yarn half price because it really is a-m-a-z-i-n-g. I was thinking I'd do an all wool shawl for her, but the blend of cotton and merino was just too smooth and perfect to pass up. Anyone I've shown it to has asked me if it's machine knit, every stitch just seems to lay so flat and perfect. I used up my whole 5 balls, but I think I'd probably go for 6 the next time. My final rounds of garter stitch weren't as much as I'd hoped:



So, my recipe: 16 rows of stockinette; 16 rows textured knitting; 16 st; 16 text; 16 st; 16 text; 10 st; 4 text; then about 20 rows of garter stitch.

I absolutely, positively, definitely will be making another one of these shawls for myself.



Also in the realm of gift giving (and grey...SO much grey I'm knitting lately!)



My second pair of Bella's mittens. Though in truth, they're not a gift from me. I knit them for a co-worker , and he gifted them to his wife to wear to the premiere of New Moon. If you don't know what that is, you've likely just beamed in from Mars, but she's a serious Twi-hard, and the mitts were very well received.


Knit in Patons Classic (2 balls of "mercury" double-stranded) on 5.5mm needles

You can see the first pair I knit here. This second pair were much bigger. I also discovered another free pattern for Bella's mitts on Ravelry, that are slightly more accurate to the ones worn in the movie (if you care about that sort of thing...)--the main difference being a textured palm. I'm still keen on this pattern though, and they no doubt go up a lot faster (these really only took me two or three evenings of tv-watching knitting) another reason they are such a great knit!

I am way behind on blogging and picture-taking these days...I'm not even a redhead anymore! This past week I knit two hats for another co-worker that I couldn't even be bothered to take pictures of (black Seaman's hats that are a major go-to pattern for my mother--she's probably knit a hundred of them by now). But it's a pattern that I would seriously recommend. It's flattering on everyone, a fast knit, and a great basic hat pattern for gift giving. I've knit a lot of them myself, and I think virtually all of my friends have one by now. Sooo, if you're in the market for another hat pattern, give that one a whirl.

And still more new things on the sticks:



At this point I'm not even sure if any Xmas knitting will make it onto the pile this year.

And one more thing (if I haven't lost you already...)-- The latest issue of Vogue Knitting had a little blurb on this crazy big yarn from BagSmith, and I find myself very intrigued by it. It knits up to 3 stitches per FOUR INCHES!!!!!!!! Size 25 needles. I'm tempted to buy enough for a rug (though broom stick sized needles may be murder to my child-sized hands)--anyone out there tried it? uh oh, hold the phone...website says 110$ a ball. Strike that (unless that gets me a whole rug, which I doubt). Yeesh. I mean I get it, but I still feel like you have to be a millionaire to be a knitter these days...

Maybe I'll just buy the book and stare at all the pretty pictures instead.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

this wedding may be the death of me

I think this might be my third(?) attempt at a shrug for my wedding...



yarn: 1.5 balls of Butterfly Super 10 in charcoal
needles: 4 & 4.5mm
pattern: to come...but see here to get you started



So, you may recognize it as I've attempted it once before in green (see the "pattern" link above). This time I've added the ribbed collar all the way around in an effort to sort of "fancy-it-up" a bit more. For some reason I had it in my head that a big 'ol collar would make it seem somehow more "wedding-y" or "regal". Uh yeah --maybe that's cause Prince Charles and Camilla are in town today and I got all confused about my place in the monarchy. Yeah, that's it.



I've had some interest from a few folks on Ravelry, so I plan to write this pattern up for y'all at some point if anyone was interested in making it. Right about now I'm wishing I had WRITTEN SOME NOTES as I was doing it. But no matter, as I've already cast on for a third in some slightly more wedding-appropriate yarn and colourway so it would have happened anyway.



Contrary to what I'd originally hoped, a collar does not in fact make a shrug "fancier". In fact it seems to have toned this little lace number down somewhat (no doubt the grey aids in that too) and given it a much more casual vibe.

I'm really not a shrug person to begin with, but I think it would be great with jeans this way. However, for my more formal needs, I'm scrapping the collar altogether. You've likely noticed that I haven't woven in the ends, and that's why. Also if you have boobs, and I most assuredly do, you will need to make the collar several inches longer than I've done, otherwise it just curls away. A couple more inches would no doubt rectify that (or a stiffer yarn).



Lots of smaller projects on the go lately,


berets, berets, berets!


my kind of cowl


another pair of bella's mittens


toys!

and so on...

There's a couple of fabulous F.O's I plan to post about soon as well--

Fall knitting fever has officially taken me over!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

in which I ramble...

There's been lots of knitting going on behind the scenes, I promise! I've just been so swamped lately --fall seems like a crazy time for everyone, and things are really ramping up for me at work lately (and socially if I'm being honest...) though I can finally see the light at the end of this particular tunnel. We also had a liitle rescue on our hands who sucked up A LOT of my spare time:



This is Gary. Yes, he is as adorable as he seems. We found him abandonned in a field near our house on (Canadian) Thanksgiving weekend. More pics/details can be seen on my flickr, but the short story is that we've adopted him out to some friends of ours now, even though I really REALLY wanted to keep him. The timing's not right for us, and truthfully I'm still just not over this guy's passing.



If nothing else though it's shown me that there's likely to be more kittens in my future (maybe after Poncho's gone) and I look forward to that day with less anguish than before.

So in lieu of any knitting of my own to share right now, I thought I'd post a few fibre-related items I'm drooling over right now.

I know I've mentionned before how much I love that Kate Spade's doing a clothing line now. I was never much for her purses but her clothing is mod and fabulous --totally my thing, and she has the funnest accessories and knitwear:


um, is it wrong for me to say that I totally plan to knock these off for myself?

and this fabulous Fox pullover from Brit designer Peter Jensen:



Of course Gravity Pope wants $400 for it so I'm thinking it's not likely to ever be in my future, short of charting it out myself (which let's face it, i'll have lost interest by the time I EVER get around to that!)

and finally, howz this for some Holiday stash busting ideas?



These adorable yarn wreaths are from Agnes Blum at Knockknocing.



Think about all those yarn bits you have languishning in your stash that you'll never actually knit with!

Or you could just go buy one here.

I actually kind of went a little crazy buying patterns online the other day, mostly silly things it seems, but I've been dying to knit this little guy for ages, and finally caved and bought the pattern:



What can I say? I spent 5 years in Germany, and growing up an army brat who WORE A DIRNDL (oh yes, I did...) it's kind of left me with (if nothing else) a penchant for all.things.kitsch.from.the.Black.Forest. I'm not lying, it's kind of a problem I have...have you seen my cuckoo clock wall?



Anyway, kind of an old picture, but you get the idea (and as usual I totally just got derailed from what I was talking about originally...)

The Bunny patterns and all the clothes are by Barbara Prime, and she has some seriously adorable knits for sale. I tend to leave all the "toy" knitting to my mother, since that is definitely her passion, but for freakin' lederhosen I simply have to make an exception...

Happy Halloween everyone!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

back to basics (again and again)

Well, I really thought I'd at least be able to squeeze out another post still in the month of September, but well you know how that goes...how is it October already???

Today marked the first morning I've actually had to wear MITTS in the car on my drive in to work (ok they were fingerless, but still that steering wheel was FRIGID), and I know that it's unseasonably cold around these parts right now, but today is definitely a day for snuggling under my big down comforter with a mug of tea in hand and a good book.

And casting off on some cozy alpaca just in time.





There's not a lot I can say about this scarf, apart from the fact that it's very simple, and gorgeously soft and will no doubt get tons of wear. It's taken me a while to knit simply because it's been my "at work" knitting. I'd bust out a couple rows every lunch hour or so on 3.25mm needles. Many times at work I would hear "you're STILL knitting that?!" Really, where do the non-knitters get off criticizing? But now that it's done I'm back to crosswords until I come up with something similar to taunt me at my desk every day.

The yarn is from Bonne Mines, a local Alpaca farm in Quebec, and was a gift from my sister. I think I cast on 40 sts and the border is about 7 sts of seed stitch both sides. I used up the full two hanks.



Now, that said I am definitely allergic to it. But like all animals (my own pets included) you learn to live with what you love. And you learn to live with what you love stealing your scarves from you as well:



Now, in cowl news...y'all KNOW how much I love a good cowl. It's the one thing I've consistently knit and worn over and over since the beginning of my knitting career. As knitters we've long been doing the cowl thing. Have you noticed this year that they appear to be everywhere in fashion?

I meant to scan a few pics from the last Vogue (but as with most things lately never got around to it) as there are quite a few awesome chunky cowls from designers in there. And really, why pay $500 when you can just knit your own? Granted, things seem to be taking on larger, more "snood-esque" proportions this year. In fact miss knit lit just posted about this very thing as well. (head on over there and check her out if you haven't already, her eye for fashion is amazing!)

Though I am currently digging the ├╝ber-simplicity of this cowl spotted on Mila Jovovich at a Louis Vuitton show:



That would definitely go up likety split. I do find the bind-off a bit strange though --would it not have looked nicer to bind it off "in pattern?", but then I guess I'm no designer and that's why I'm not smart enough to get rich off these things.


Rodarte Fall 2009


via doucement le matin


Dries Van Noten Fall 2009

Anyway, you get the idea. Cowls aside it seems like the chunky knits are everywhere for designers this year.

And if you ARE looking for a cowl of your own to knit but would rather have an amazing pattern already thought out, allow me to plug this amazing 'lil number from my friend Michele over at knitting is kneat-o.

Only 4 bucks on etsy for this gorgeous snood! I'm headin' there now myself...






There's a lot of cute knitwear out there this season (yet I don't seem to be doing much knitting myself these days--what's up with that?) but I think that all deserves another post of it's own. We'll all be gearing up for some Christmas knitting soon and I for one know that I could use as many fresh new ideas as possible!