January 28, 2007

A lot of yellow

This week I finally sat down with all of my stitch guides and my good friend Google, and I started picking out ideas for the sampler afghan I'm making for my mom. And after I made a few lists and also made a few swatches (thus discovering that I had to discard about half the ideas on my list due to lack of stitches, unless I was willing to make 18 inch squares), I finally cast on for my first square.

I liked the look of the piecrust square, but I knew that this would be the only one done in the round, and thus it would be harder to make it match in size to all my other squares. so I made this one first, and then did some quick measuring, and determined that based on this square, all the others will be 10 inch squares, 45 stitches across.

Next up, a square with little houses (hint - dishcloth patterns are a great source of ideas for sampler afghan squares).

I pulled the patterns for these next two squares from my Barbara Walker Treasuries: Fountain Lace, and Rib and Braid

My fifth square is a little expanded rib pattern I whipped up, inspired by a number of the twist patterns from Barbara Walker's Treasuries, and from other things I saw online.

Each of the squares doesn't take much time to do, individually, but it's a lot of yellow yarn to be staring at, non-stop. So in between making squares, I whipped up a mistake rib scarf for my little sister (made with one skein of amazingly soft Misti Alpaca Chunky), which I neglected to photograph before I sent it off to Seattle with my parents. I also finished off this little hat that was the project for my stranded colorwork class.

It's supposed to be a baby hat, but we didn't much worry about gauge, since this was just a 'teaching' hat, so it will likely fit a small child. Hmm. Now to add a cute little two-color pom-pom and find a small child to foist it upon.

Amusingly, even though this was the 'class' hat, it turned out a lot nicer than the mitten, because this was my second colorwork project, and I had actually learned some valuable lessons from the mitten - things like making sure I paid attention to my tension. So this little hat took far less tugging and twisting to look good than the mitten.

The second day of the class was yesterday, but since I obviously had the whole fair isle concept down, the young woman asked me if there was anything else I wanted to learn. So over the course of a little less than an hour, we went through double knitting - both straight and in the round, connected, and separate. I am now looking forward to giving two socks at once a try (one inside the other). We also went over intarsia, since the only colorwork I've done before has been slip stitch patterns, or shadow knitting (which is really just a fancy word for textured stripes) and she figured she might as well cover all the basics. So now I think I'm set. I doubt I'm going to be jumping into any intarsia projects any time soon, since that kind of thing just doesn't appeal to me, but I am having far too much fun finding colorwork graphs online, and planning out a whole army of mittens that I only have to map out and find yarn for before I can actually start them.

Mittens, that is, that I will be doing in between working on the remaining twenty squares for my mom's afghan, And mittens that will be started only after I also finishing making Sheldon. Because I really do have a lot more of that blue and brown vintage Paton's Astra yarn that needs using up, and what better way to do that than to whip up a completely adorable turtle with a removable shell.

Posted by Jenipurr at 04:07 PM | Comments (4)

January 23, 2007

No longer monotone

I love knitting. I love cables. I especially love lace. But what I have never been all that excited about is colorwork. There's some pretty stuff out there, but none of it really 'spoke' to me and said 'knit me'. And so there was never any incentive for me to actually learn how to do stranded colorwork, because I had plenty of cables and lace to keep me busy.

But I know myself too well. If I don't keep on challenging myself to learn new things, I will just keep on doing what I've been doing - and while that's not such a bad thing, especially when it comes to cables and lace, there's a whole world of design out there that I haven't ever even touched.

So this weekend I finally broke down and took a class for it, not because I thought it was going to be difficult, but because I knew that this would force me to get over my ambivalence about the whole thing and just do it. I was the only one in the class, as it turned out, but that was okay because that meant we could just sit and chat with everyone else in the store while I worked my way through some corrugated ribbing, and hashed out in my brain how best to hold two strands of yarn and knit the right one at the right time, while avoiding tangling them and also carrying my floats. And just like when I finally bit the bullet and tried out socks, and when I first did lace, it turned out to be fun. A *lot* of fun. So much fun that after the class I went home and immediately got online and, with the help of my good friend Google, found myself a real pattern to try. Something small and quick was what I was looking for, so....how about mittens? I rummaged through my stash, pulled out a few balls of some heathered blue and dark chocolate brown vintage Paton's yarn I got in a free exchange a year or two ago, and cast on for this:

The back (the true colors are not so dark, but there is only so much tweaking I can do):

The front (palm side):

The pattern is Corazon, from Knitty, which I picked because it is only two colors, and because I liked the pattern.

This was definitely a learning experience. I need to work on my tension - this took a lot of tugging from top to bottom and from side to side to get it to even out - but I suspect that will come with practice, as will my speed. I had pondered making the mate, but the first one turned out a bit too large in the hand and a bit too small in the thumb, and it was only ever meant for practice anyway. In fact, I suspect that eventually, I will just rip this one out entirely, and use the yarn to make something else (likely mittens, though, since the colors go together so nicely).

But for my very first attempt at stranded colorwork, I have to say that I'm pretty pleased.

Posted by Jenipurr at 10:25 AM | Comments (3)

January 19, 2007

A few quickies

Richard has been not-so-subtly pointing out the holes in the pair of Fuzzy Feet that I made for him a year or so ago, so this weekend I finally dragged out some wool and whipped up a new pair for him. They are such a fast knit that I was able to do one on Saturday and one on Sunday, and still have enough time Sunday to cast on for a top-down raglan baby sweater destined for the new son of my fellow tenor in the church choir. And that was such a fast knit that I actually finished that up Monday night at knitting group, and immediately cast on with yet more feltable wool for a bag that I am test knitting for a friend. The bag, I might add, is not going as quickly as the slippers or the baby sweater, but that is more because it is a larger and more complicated project, and also because that whole pesky going-to-work thing tends to get in the way of prime knitting hours during the week.

I am thrilled with how the baby sweater turned out, by the way. I'll post a picture as soon as I track down some buttons and finish it off. Not only is it a quick knit, it is extremely customizable, since I can see how simple it will be to just tack on some cables or a little lace insert, or any other type of texturing that might spring to mind, depending on the yarn I use. It is the sort of thing that makes me ponder writing up a little 'baby raglan generator' spreadsheet, into which I could enter stitch and row gauge, and thus magically generate a pattern for exactly how often, and where to work in all the increases and decreases that might be required. Luckily for me, someone else already did it.

Posted by Jenipurr at 08:42 PM

January 13, 2007

Baby pink

I finished binding off the pinwheel blanket last night, and wove in the ends this afternoon. It took just about 4 1/2 skeins of vintage Bernat Berella, so it will be sturdy and machine washable, just the thing for someone with a brand new baby in the house.

Here, Rosie gives her paw of approval (hint - she's 'hiding', and also purring her fuzzy little head off because she is in one of her favorite spots - under a blanket).

This blanket is yet one more reason why I am so glad I bought the 40 inch Denise cable at Lambtown last year. By the time it was the diameter I wanted, I had 500 stitches on the needles. Doing a ruffle requires that you knit into the front and back of each stitch, two times. I did it only once, because just the thought of having to then bind off 2000 stitches made me more than just a teensy bit twitchy.

I also finished and bound off my first scarf for the Red Scarf Project, but I'm holding off on any pictures of that until I see if I can't whip out at least one or two more before we'll be shipping them off next weekend.

Posted by Jenipurr at 04:33 PM | Comments (4)

January 08, 2007

A little bit of lace

My first finished object for the year - a diagonal lace scarf.

I finished knitting this a few days ago, but it took me until yesterday to finally give it a bath and then block the bejeebers out of it (literally). The pattern (a Fibertrends pattern with a trio of simple lace scarves) calls for about one and a half balls of Cotton Fine, but as I neared the end of the first ball, I looked at the length and decided that one ball would be plenty. This decision was also driven by the fact that this was done as a sample for Knitters' Playground, and I know, as a knitter, that it is always nicer to see a sample and know exactly how much yarn was used to create it, and showing that one can get an entire lace scarf out of one skein is a very good thing.

I really enjoyed knitting with the Cotton Fine (which is a blend of cotton and wool, so you get the sturdiness of the cotton, but without the associated hand pain that comes from working with a 100% cotton yarn). There was minimal problems with splitting, and usually only if I wasn't paying attention, and it blocks beautifully. Because it's a bit thicker than lace weight (fingering or sport weight - I am not a good judge of how to tell the difference!), it also has lovely drape, so would be perfect for something that needs to be a bit more sturdy than the traditional lace (like, for example, the gorgeous lace collar in the new book of Victorian Lace).

Posted by Jenipurr at 08:48 AM | Comments (1)

January 05, 2007

Cleaning up

Long before Wendy posted about her plan to knit from her stash, I had been pondering doing something similar. Part of the reason is basic physics. Since we will be hosting Christmas for my extended family this year, and thus need to provide space for my little sister, her husband and my niece, to stay when they come down, I knew that I needed to focus this year on clearing things away to make that possible. In order to turn the library into a space that is useful as a guest room, I needed to clean up my mess. Most of the yarn was in bins on a shelf, but there's a big table in there that has been covered with piles and boxes and things that needed to be organized and put away for far too long a time to admit to.

So on Monday, the very first day of the new year, I took a deep breath and finally decided to tackle the stash. Everything was sorted. Shelves in the computer room were cleared off to make room for my slowly growing knitting library. The shelf that holds all my bins of yarn was moved into the computer room. All my leftover sock yarn was compiled into one large paper bag, to be stashed in a closet until such time as I figure out what to do with it (tesselated fish blanket? mitered square blanket? several thousand fingerless gloves?). Then I sat down and made up a sizable list of projects that I want to accomplish, all of which will be done from yarn that is already in my stash, and more importantly, I pulled out all of that yarn and put it into separate bins or bags, all lined up neatly on my desk, some even with patterns tucked inside, so that they are a visible reminder to me every time I walk into the computer room, and, every time I ponder wanting to buy more yarn, or start something new.

The process is not yet completed - the table full of piles is still in the library (although I did manage to clear off about half of it) and I need to sort through the box of miscellaneous needles and try to put them back into their respective bags and needle cases, so I can *find* them when I need them next. The knitting machine needs to be boxed up and stored on top of the giant shelf of yarn (but only after I use it to whip up parts of a baby sweater). I need to figure out a clever place to store my blocking pads and the perfectly sized piece of wood that I use as a base for knitting machine, swift and ball winder (since every single counter and table in this house has rounded edges and is thus unsuitable for clamping any of my knitting paraphenelia). And I have already swapped out some of the yarn I carefully set aside, for a different pile of yarn (still from the stash, though!), to cast on for a pinwheel blanket for the upcoming baby shower. But right now I am feeling pretty pleased with the progress, and hopeful that I can keep it up. And I figure I might as well join in the fun of the Knit From Your Stash 2007 group, if only because it's nice to know I won't be alone.

Posted by Jenipurr at 09:14 AM | Comments (1)