Monthly Archives: November 2011

Week from Hell…

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Fair warning- this blog post will begin with a bit of complaining, then move on to the knitting!

So…I don’t know if you could tell from my last post, but I didn’t come out of the break in a very happy mood. The oppresivity of my entire family gathered together was starting to get to me. That’s why I may have sounded grumpy in my last post! As many of you reminded me, sometimes it’s OK to splurge on the yarn, especially if it’s the good stuff. And I totally agree. At this point, though, I’m surviving on a scimpy allowance from home and the remains of paychecks from my summer jobs. For now, buying ANY yarn is a splurge. Eventually, when I’m making some money, I promise to buy some Tosh (oh darn, such a hard promise. How am I going to keep it?).

Anyway, the other reason I was in a bit of a bad mood is the amount of schoolwork I have on the agenda. Going in to the holiday, I knew I would have to get some work done, but I didn’t realize how tough it would be, especially with all of the fam around. I have one paper due Thus. (9 pages, FINISHED!), one due Fri. (3 pages down, 2 to go), and a take-home exam that I’m getting today (but I want to finish it by Fri.). Then, I have three exams next week (one each on Mon., Tues., and Wed.,). After that, I’m packing everything I’ll need for the next five weeks and going home (Don’t worry, my roommate will be there a little longer, so she’ll be able to bring me whatever I forget). And then I have another take-home to work on due in another week, plus internship applications for the summer. And, in the midst of all of this, my roommate and I decided we want to move off-campus for next year, and that we need to start looking now. Great. As a result, blogging might get a bit sporadic. Sorry!

But, to make me much, much more happy, there was a present waiting in my mailbox when I checked it before lunch yesterday. The new issue of Interweave Knits (Winter 2011) came out! There’s a profile of a knitter (I haven’t gotten to this yet), a good overview of cables (I flipped through it, and it seemed a little basic, but I think I saw some ideas about design and theory that might be interesting to explore), and, of course, the patterns. I have two “I HAVE TO KNIT THIS” favorites…

Nantes Hat, unashamably sniped from the ravelry page

First, the Nantes Hat by Amanda Scheuzger. It is a fantastic mix of lace and cables- I love the crown, and how it tapers to the top. You definitely need to click the link and look at all three pictures. The details are fantastic. I was considering knitting it in my new Brae Tweed, but I think it needs something a little bit more tightly spun. I might dig through my stash in a bit…or hit the yarn store. You know, you can never have to many hats!

Livingstone Cardigan, again, sniped from the ravelry page

The other pattern I fell in love with is the Livingstone Cardigan by Amy Miller. It’s chunky, with a deep shawl collar, and little toggle clasps. Basically, I love how it looks! The only thing I’m not so fond of is the chunky-ness. I’m afraid that because it’s so thick it will be way too warm to wear inside. But never fear- I have a solution! A couple years ago I made a cardigan with Cascade Eco that really does not fit…and probably needs to be frogged! Frogged! FROGGED! Online, people seem to alternate using Eco either as a worsted (with a denser fabric) or a more lofty chunky. I think this just might work. Stay tuned.

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Yarn Shopping!

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As you may remember, I had definite intentions over the holiday to hit up some yarn shops. And I did- specifically, I visited The Yarn Club in Virginia Beach. This is a relatively new store (I think it’s been open less than a year), and I was excited to drop by for my second time to see what they had in stock.

Before I tell you what I found, I just wanted to tell you my impressions of the first time I went. First thing, the store is in an office park, so I really thought I was lost, but she has a nice big sign on the side of the building to let you know where she is. When you walk in, you immediately see a nice big table for sitting and getting help, with cubbies and cubbies full of yarn surrounding the room. Most of the yarns were things I had heard about online, and she had TONS of hand-dyed/indie-dyed/local products, which was really impressive. The first time, I bought the skein of Malabrigo Sock that I just used on my nutkins.

So this time, I was really looking forward to getting my hands on some more Malabrigo. I was even prepared to shell out $20 for a skein. What I was not prepared for, however, was the amount (and price!) of Madeline Tosh she had. Don’t get me wrong- the colors and feel of the Tosh was pretty damn fantastic. However, it is pretty much out of my price range (I’m not sure I can afford $28 before tax for a skein of sock yarn). And, about half of the store was Tosh. I do not exaggerate. It was just a bit excessive.

Still, I managed to find two skeins that I really like and that are in my price-range. I didn’t plan this, but they’re both from Knit One Crochet Two, another brand that I’ve heard about online but never seen in person.

Brae Tweed- the brown is a little bit darker than the photo shows

First, I got a 50g skein of Brae Tweed in a brown. It’s a single-ply 60% Merino, 20%Llama, 10% Wool, and 10% Bamboo blend (which makes me wonder what’s in the generic ‘wool’) with some tweedy specks. I’m thinking I’ll make myself a nice little hat out of this- I need something neutral and versatile. It’ll probably go really well with my green coat…

From the side- looks really blue...

Secondly, I got a 100g skein of Sock Yarn. I don’t have the label with me, and I can’t find what it is online, but I think it might be 80% superwash wool and 20% silk. Maybe. Anyway, It’s a pretty mix of light blues and greens and white that reminds me a lot of the beach. My mom actually bought it, because she has commissioned a pair of socks for my Aunt for Hanukah. I’m thinking some sort of pattern that looks like waves or sand. I’m sure I can find something!

She did have an incredible selection of books, patterns, and notions. My favorite part was how much I recognized everything from online. Beyond the regular magazines, she didn’t have the standard Vogue or Interweave books, but had at least a couple dozen self-published books from well-known names. It was pretty cool to be able to flip through books that I’ve only ever seen online before. Additionally, she carries the Knit Picks needles, which is fantastic for me. Finally, I’ll be able to get more sock needles, and maybe some more cables for my interchangeable set without paying for shipping. Yeah!

In the end, I definitely do not think of The Yarn Club as my LYS. I think I will occasionally visit when I want 1) something SUPER-NICE, 2) some Knit Picks Needles, or 3) to look at some indie-books and patterns in person. She did have a few work-horse yarns (I think I saw a very small bit of Cascade 220 and Plymouth Galway), but it’s mostly luxury stuff. There is a whole lot of samples, and the service was very nice (even if she did keep walking away from the yarn I had asked her to wind for me after purchasing).

Scarf Bonanza

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Predictably, I finished the mini-scarf (50g of Plymouth Happy Feet Sport weight) for mom while I was at home. Also predictably, most of my blocking supplies are at school, except for the wires, which I keep at home. So, long story short, it won’t get blocked for another week and a half, when I come home for winter break. So, for now, it’s just gonna look like a jumbled mesh of bright colors in a vaguely scarf-like shape. When it blocks out it’ll probably be at least four feet long and somewhere between six and eight inches across. Hopefully, most of the gain will be lengthwise and not width-wise. Fingers crossed.

I know it doesn't look like much, but I'll block it hard...and hopefully that'll help!

Because I’m designing this project as I go, I really wanted another version of the scarf in a more solid yarn as a sample. Luckily, I have these socks that I made a long time ago out of Frog Tree Alpaca Sportweight that really are too small. I think they’re Serpentine Socks from Wendy Johnson’s Socks from the Toe Up. In any case, they’re one of the first pairs that I’ve ever made, and I don’t think I checked my gauge AT ALL on them. Additionally, when I can squeeze my feet into them, I find the Alpaca oppressively itchy- I guess I just can’t stomach it against my skin.

that's the leg, but I promise that if they're too small for MY feet, they're too small

So, I frogged. Of course, I’d forgotten how tricky unpicking a sewn bind-off is, but eventually I got it. Now I have 100g of sport-weight pure Alpaca in a nice teal-ish green color to make into a scarf. I think it’s going to be a winter birthday/Christmas present for one of my best friends. She’s a quilter/sewer, so she’d honestly appreciate something handmade. And I don’t think she’s as allergic to alpaca as I am…always a win! I cast on this weekend, and I’ve already done a couple of pattern repeats. I don’t know why they’re so addictive. I guess it’s  a great combo- the pattern is intuitive enough to be easily memorize-able, but it takes enough rows that it keeps your attention. For me, each repeat (10 rows) takes about 10 minutes, so ‘just another repeat’  really isn’t that bad!

Just the beginnings- hopefully it'll block out wonderfully!

Mom’s Scarf

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As I’ve said before, my mom is hard to shop for. In fact, she’s hard to knit for. I’ve made her two sweaters, and I hardly ever see her wear either of them. I’ve made her hats and scarves. She just doesn’t really wear handknitting. Part of it is our climate- it’s very rare that it’s cold enough here for us to wear hats and scarves and sweaters at anything thicker than a fingering weight yarn. Still, when she asks, I make.

it's really more like a scarf-ette

That’s sort of what happened last summer. I made my sunset scarf from some hand-painted fingering weight during the school year, but I didn’t have time to block it until the summer. As I was doing my post-blocking fondle (why is it 90 degress? I WANT TO WEAR A WOOL SCARF!) she saw the scarf and started looking at it longingly. I almost offered to give her the exact scarf, but honestly, I LOVE THOSE COLORS. And I can match it to most of my wardrobe, and I actually wear scarves, and I LOVE IT TOO MUCH TO GIVE AWAY. There. So I’m being a little selfish. So what.

close up of the sunset scarf

Instead, I hit up my LYS for something suitable to sub. I ended up choosing some Plymouth Happy Feet in a bright and busy colorway. There’s pink and gold and blue and green. I think she’ll love it- at the very least, it’s payback for all of the times she’s made me wear clothes that can be considered highlighters 😉

the bad picture I took when I bought it...it was raining, ok!

Because Happy Feet is a sport weight (the original scarf is a fingering weight) I had to make my first subs to the pattern. The first time, I made the knit v’s 2 stitches wide. After I blocked the swatch, I thought it was OK and knitted a couple inches on the scarf. And then I realized it was NOT OK and frogged.

hopefully, the colors are easier to see here

And then I tried again. I got about 8 inches into the scarf before I realized that the scarf was too wide. Trust me, when you can tell that a lace scarf is too wide BEFORE it’s blocked, it’s too wide. So I frogged and fiddled with the pattern some more.

Finally, I noticed something else irking me. On the original pattern the v’s made a little bit of a wavy edge to the scarf. That was not happening on this pattern. So, once again I frogged (count that- 3 times) and fiddled with the pattern. This time, the scarf was about 1 foot and a half long.

close-up of the FINAL stitch pattern

I’ve almost re-reached that length on the newest version (ravelry project page). So far, I think it’s good. I mean, there’s nothing REALLY irking me any more. So hopefully I won’t have to rip again. Hopefully. I’ve put the chart into a word doc so I don’t forget it, and eventually I’ll write up a pattern. At this point, I think I’ve changed enough from the original stitch pattern for me to call it my own (it was from a Vogue Stitchionary). Now I just have to hide it from my mother while I’m home for Thanksgiving break. I guess I should’ve made a decoy project…oh well. I’m going to hit up one of the LYS’s while I’m home. I can pick something up there…

And for all of you Americans, happy Thanksgiving! I’m very thankful that each of you take the time to read my blog and contribute your thoughts!

Slightly Skewed

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I am finally, finally introducing my first real design project to the world!

I would like you to meet the Slightly Skewed Hat and Scarf Set.

my wonderful model, pretending to enjoy the fact that I dragged her around campus looking for the best late afternoon light...

I really tried to use rotated variations of garter stitch in order to break up the variation on the very, very unique Aruacania Panguipulli. As a result, the directions (especially for the scarf) are specifically designed to incorporate two different skeins of Panguipulli, which has major variation within colorways and even dye lots. Still, you can probably sub any of your favorite aran or worsted weight yarns. The pattern even includes advice for changing the size or guauge- which is really only a problem on the fitted hat!

close up of the hat- you can see how you pick up stitches for the crown

The unique details in the set include the fact that the brim of the hat is knit sideways and stitches are picked up from the edge for the crown. Because the tilted (or skewed, ha ha) garter stitch is very stretchy, this allows the hat to fit from a 21 inch head to a much, much bigger size, making it a great pattern for gifts (I mean, who enjoys measuring their friends’ heads?) Although the eyelets add a smidge of lace, the deep texture makes the scarf and hat very unisex, and I’m sure a man would enjoy it just as much as any woman! The finished scarf, only lightly blocked, measures a very manly 75 inches from tip to tip.

scarf-tastic- as you can see, the eyelets are barely visible, making it a very versatile scarf!

The pattern includes both a charted and written out version of the repeat, and the charter version is on both pattern pages- no more flipping through your booklet looking for charts! The pattern also includes some very, very rough sketches (an artist, I am not) to further illustrate the construction of the hat. If  you have any further questions about anything in the pattern, don’t hesitate to get in contact with me, through this blog or ravelry.

and again, one more close-up of the textured pattern

You can directly download the PDF here, or visit the ravelry page of the pattern to download it here. The pattern is FREE, at least for the first few weeks/months. Eventually, I may convert it to a pay pattern, but any proceeds from that go entirely to my yarn stash fund, in order to supply me with enough yarn to churn out beautiful new patterns! Also, please remember that because the pattern is free it does not mean you may reproduce/sell it at will- please contact me if you would like to sell the pattern in a shop. I do not mind if you sell the finished product.

Quick Question-

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Hey guys, so while I’m waiting for the hat to get dry enough for me to take some pictures of it (I may have coerced a friend into modeling for me…) I’ve been putting together the pattern pdf. I’ve been wondering if you have any pet peeves or certain things you like to see in patterns. Personally, I hate it when they put the chart at the beginning of a 4 page pattern…so I’ve put it in the header of every page. Do you have any ideas on what you like to see?

Additionally, I’ve been pondering over if I want to charge for this pattern. At least initially, I promise to offer it for free. However, as a poor, unemployed college student, I’m a little at a loss. Knitting is an expensive hobby- especially when you have a hankering for the good stuff 😉 . I’m considering that after a couple of weeks/months, I’ll start charging a really small fee- only about a dollar or two. All proceeds would definitely go to the yarn fund, which is currently pretty sorely lacking. Does that seem unreasonable? I’ve put a lot of work into this pattern, and it’s really a complete set. I like to think it’s been pretty professionally done. What are your thoughts? Do you hate paying for patterns, or do you like to support really, really, small-time designers? I would really appreciate you guys’s thoughts on both subjects, and happy weekend-knitting!

WIP’s and FO’s

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2 socks! Count 'em, 1-2!

Yesterday I finished my second nutty sock. I will hang my head in shame, because while I was bitching and moaning about the cast on, I ended up just doing it about half an hour after I posted. After that, yes, I knitted a sock in less than a day. It just flew off of the needles! I’m blaming the combo of the malabrigo sock and the nutkin pattern, which was so KNITTABLE and luscious. I literally finished ALL of the yarn, which was pretty fantastic. No left-overs, no nothing.

I have no idea why my camera is having such troubles with these socks...

I spent a couple of hours knitting outside of our college bookstore. I was actually listening to a very awesome podcast that I found online. No, no, it is not about knitting. Almost a year ago, the British National Museum started putting together a series of radio shows on the History of the World in 100 Objects. Each object gets a 14 min. show, and they posted them online for FREE! Of course, they’re also publishing a book to go along with it, and that’s totally going on my wish list.

Heel detail

The other podcast I listened to while knitting my socks is the Playful Day Podcast. I first started listening to knitting podcasts a really long time- I have listened to the eminent Cast On almost since it first started airing. Along the way, I picked up a couple of other podcasts that I listened to fairly regularly, but around the time I left for college, I fell out of the podcast-listening bug. I’m not quite sure where I found Playful Day, but I decided to give it a listen while I was working on the first sock. Obviously, I liked it. There’s something soothing about actually listening to someone talk about their knitting successes and failures, especially when you are succeeding…or failing. I’d forgotten that feeling. Plus, she has a perfect British accent that I can listen to all day and she has a great storytelling talent.

artsy unfocused upside-down/ looking down the side of the sock shot...

So, now that I think I’ve gotten rid of the sock bug, I’m starting to work on my mother’s new scarf. It’s the one I talked about last time, using my new Plymouth Yarn Happy Feet. Sometime soon, I’ll devote a whole post just to this scarf…at least one whole post.

swatch blocking. Yes, I realize you can't see the pattern very well...it's a problem in person, too

Plus, the other day I suffered* through a trip to the local Jo-Anne’s for some T-Pins, and now the scarf/hat design duo are lightly blocking on my floor. Hopefully they’ll be dry by the time my room mate comes back, and I can have them unpinned and photo-ready in time for me to get some great pictures on my back deck!

the scarf stretches over 7 1ft. blocks...this may be a problem...

*Yes, suffered. First, the only package of T-Pins I could find was not on the right hanger, so I had no idea what the price was. Luckily, they turned out to only be $3.50, and I had a half off coupon. Once I got to the register, the ONE cashier was helping this lady who had about five questions about her fabric and eventually made her go back and check the price. There were about 5 people in line before the lady behind me went to find someone else to help us. Eventually, the manager came up with two more cashiers. I think the original lady got chewed out, which she should have…