February 27, 2005

Time crunch

This past weekend I finished up all the pieces for Tasha - a feat which required unbinding and lengthening the two top cable sections since it turns out my guage was a little off. All that's left now is to lengthen the bottom section, toss all the pieces into the washing machine to let the cotton shrink and set, and seam them all together. And the more time I spend on this the more I love it - the way the colors from the yarn blend together, and the way the cable stands out even against the varied colors.

However, invitations for baby showers arrived in the mail, and when I saw that they are only a few weeks away, momentary panic set in. The first blanket is made, but I hadn't even started the second.

So Tasha - in all its pretty glory, has been set aside, and I am furiously knitting away on the second baby blanket. I'm doing a moss stitch border around a basic diamond pattern, which is turning out really quite nicely, even with the fuzziness of the mohair-like yarn.

I've decided that baby blankets are actually kind of fun to do. They're small enough that they're not as tedious as doing a full sized afghan, and they let me play with different pattern motifs. There is absolutely no sizing required, beyond just being wide enough to cover, or wrap around, a little kid, and the best part of all is that baby blankets never require seaming. Ah, if only every project could be so simple. Heh.

Posted by Jenipurr at 03:52 PM

February 17, 2005

Secret Pal stuff

When I came home from work today there was a box from my Secret Pal waiting for me! I opened it up and found a gorgeous skein of sock yarn in all shades of blue, a very easy-looking pattern, and a whole pile of chocolate - dark chocolate, to be precise. Yum!

My Secret Pal is encouraging me to get over being intimidated by socks, and with this pretty, pretty yarn I think I have no choice. I think the world is conspiring to get me to knit socks anyway, as my knitting mentor/friend has been making noises about how I need to stock up on small DPN's. Heh.

In knitting news, I have finished off the first baby blanket, and all that's left is to tuck in the ends (good timing, since the baby shower is in mid March). I *should* be working on the second baby blanket, but instead I decided to give Blaze another try, this time with my gorgeous Lara cotton in sunburst (dull greens, oranges, and reds). While the cable pattern shows up wonderfully even with the varigated color, I decided I just could not live with the way the colors were pooling. Strike two for Blaze. One of these times I'll find a yarn that works, I swear!

However, I like this gorgeous cotton so much and I was struck by how well it shows the cable that I decided that it needed to be a bag. Back to Knitty.com I went, and found Tasha. Doubled up, the guage matches perfectly, and doubled up, the yarn shows all its gorgeous color without looking all splotchy from pooling. I've only the side and strap section to knit and then off to the washing machine it will go for a little careful shrinking before I can seam all the pieces together and show it off. I figure that will be as good a time as any to get the baby blanket finished up, since it needs a run through the wash to 'set' its lovely basketweave as well.

And then...then, I shall have to cast on for socks. They might take me a little while because there is the matter of that other baby blanket that's due before April, but I will start them regardless. I will not be undone by socks, by golly. Thanks, Secret Pal!

Posted by Jenipurr at 03:46 PM

February 13, 2005

Individually wrapped

For Christmas this year, my parents got me a ball winder. While they may tease me about my (still fairly) new yarn obsession, they also seem quite happy to enable me (especially since they occasionally benefit).

Today I finally broke it out and used it for the first time. After scoring some yummy new yarn at Stitches West yesterday, my friend and I decided we'd team up to get it organized. I have the ball winder; she has the swift - a metal one that was her grandmother's and which has held up admirably all these years. After church we claimed a table in the social hall (since today was to be the first after-church knitting and crocheting group gathering, even though it was only three of us to start with). She hooked up her swift, I clamped my ball winder to the table, and away we went.

Wow. I'd never seen one of these ball winders in action and I am so, so happy I have one. It creates a perfect little cylinder 'ball' of yarn, easy to pull from the outside or the inside. Best of all, the little cylinders are perfectly stackable, so they're much easier to store than loose hanks of yarn.

We didn't get through everything this afternoon, but we made a pretty impressive dent in it. When I think back to last year, spending hours winding the yarn by hand (without a swift, either) - the knots, the tangles, the swearing - I just want to grab my little ball winder and give it a great big hug. I am tempted to sit down and wind every single bit of my yarn, just so I can stack it in pretty piles on a shelf in the library instead of keeping it in a huge plastic bin, out of sight. I am dreaming of little dowels standing at attention, perfectly spaced so that little cylinders of yarn can be dropped neatly over them and they will stay in place until I finally figure out what the yarn wants to be. I am reminding myself that I was supposed to only be buying yarn when I had a definite project in mind. Heh.

Posted by Jenipurr at 06:05 PM | Comments (1)

February 11, 2005

Stitches West 2005

This morning I got up bright and early, picked up my friend, and we drove the several hours down to Santa Clara for Stitches West. One of these years I fully intend to make an entire day of it, and sign up for classes, but for now, it's all about the yarn.

Just like last year, there were a ton of people in line waiting to get into the vendor's mall, and oh, it was worth the wait. I'm not sure quite how many vendors there were, just that there were a lot.

We started on one end of the hall and worked our way toward the other side, fingering yarn here, flipping through books there, eying patterns and needles and accessories with every step. So many gorgeous yarns to choose from! So many wonderful things I wanted to bring home.

It was so very hard to keep that self restraint. I did pretty well until about midway through, when we hit the booth for Tess Designer Yarns. Those of you who've poked around in my archives might remember my Seabreeze sweater, which I made out of some absolutely gorgeous superwash merino I bought from Tess Designer Yarns at last year's Stitches West. The minute I saw their booth this year I knew I had to get more - they always have such an amazing collection of colors, and their yarn (at least their superwash merino) is just divine. It was hard to pick just one, but eventually these two huge skeins of gorgeous turquoise superwash merino just had to come home with me.


I probably would have been perfectly happy to have gone home with only that, but there was a booth there selling those collapsible tapestry bags and I've been really wanting one, so I snatched the one with cats all over it (big surprise). It came in quite handy for the rest of the day, to cart around all my finds.

Near the end we stumbled across a booth where almost everything was marked at 40% off. My friend and I stared at each other, and then dove into the yarn. The second I saw this I knew I had to have it.

It's a wool and acrylic mix so I figure it should hold up to being machine washed (although I do intend to swatch, just in case). I love the little specks of color - it makes the yarn have a stained glass sort of effect. My friend picked up a pile in the same color pattern, except the main color in hers is a softer lavendar, while mine focuses more on the blues. Mine is destined to become a cute short-sleeved sweater for me. The only thing to do now is pick the pattern.

I did manage to find something fun for my Secret Pal (which will go into the mail in the next few days), and my friend gave me these.

What fun! We've already got the Shakespeare set and the cat lover's set (which makes for quite the bizarre little phrases appearing on our fridge after some of our more creative friends have been over to the house). I can't wait to see what our friends come up with now that they have knitting terms to throw into the mix.

Posted by Jenipurr at 10:47 PM

February 03, 2005

Three little things

The box containing the doll arrived yesterday. My sister says my niece loves the doll, and has decided that it is two sisters named Cinderella. When one is five, imagining sisters with the same name is perfectly normal, I guess. But I'm glad it made a hit.

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I'm now back to doing slightly less painful knitting, working on the first of two baby blankets. I'm using this pattern, but making it a little wider. I really liked how the basket weave in this pattern shows even using the Homespun, and also how it isn't just squares, but looks more like actual weaving. I do *not* like how the pattern requires every row to be mostly purled, which is more than a little bit of a pain to do with the Homespun yarn. Eventually I let one ball run out at the beginning of one side, and joined the yarn on at the opposite end of the row, and now I am doing the pattern backwards, so I'm mostly knitting instead of purling. This works sooo much better - and it's knitting up a lot faster now.

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This woman posted a link to her dissertation on a knitting forum, and after reading it, I wanted to share it with others. Her writing style is lovely and comfortable to read, and I thought her take on the resurgence of knitting and what it might actually mean was well done.

Posted by Jenipurr at 06:29 AM | Comments (2)