Saturday, September 29, 2007
The free pattern for this is: http://www.angelfire.com/va3/heartfeltangels/littlestarafghan.html.
I have to say the first portion went really fast. Since I've been mostly knitting I forgot how fast crochet goes (and how much yarn it takes, I'm already halfway through the first skein). It was so addicting with this yarn seeing what color each round would end up being and how it would look up against the previous rounds. I really am having a hard time putting the project down except for the fact that I have practically worn a blister on my finger that isn't used to crocheting as much anymore. Also, listening to Pride & Prejudice again was making it go fast as well. I start thinking that maybe I should go to bed and think "When this chapter is done." Then I finish the chapter, but the round isn't done, so I end up getting into another chapter and keep going until the end of a round and the end of a chapter coincide or I just practically fall asleep crocheting. I think I'll have to use this technique when I get down to the late night Christmas knitting/crocheting.
This pattern is so easy that you don't really have to keep the written pattern handy after the first couple of rows. Basically you are decreasing and increasing in the same places every round. I plan to do quite a few more rows than the pattern calls for to make a full size baby blanket. I have to give the author, Beth Parsons, props for her clear directions and well written pattern. There is nothing more annoying than getting an hour into a pattern and finding out that the directions aren't clear. I would highly recommend this pattern to anyone, especially if you have this Colorspun self striping yarn it's really perfect for this pattern.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
I love yarn. I love yarn in any way, shape or form... yarn, roving, fleece, dyed, un-dyed, pretty much anything. I love to spin yarn, knit yarn, crochet and sometimes even weave yarn. In my vast yarn experience I have stumbled upon a phenomenon that is known only to fiber addicts like me: cursed yarn. This has only ever happened to me a few times, but when it does I am so thoroughly disgusted with having tried and failed so many projects that I stick the yarn in a bag and throw it in the pile for another day (usually never to be seen again).
This time it takes the form of Plymouth Encore Colorspun in a colorway that is so perfect for a baby gift you can't even imagine anything else made with it. The first time I saw the yarn being knitted it was being made into a sweater at the Saturday morning group I used to attend. Even when the project was done I couldn't ever accept it as a sweater because the gentle color changes of white, yellow and blue just looked so babyish that it didn't look right on a grown woman. Of course I bought a few skeins right away, but I had the dilemma of not having a baby to knit for. I was so much itching to make something for a baby with this yarn that I was tempted to make a project and put it away until the gift giving opportunity presented itself. My boys are teenagers and my daughter is 6 and there definitely will be no more babies in my future. After about a month I was in luck because I found out that two people at work were expecting. Great! I immediately bought more and started on two baby blankets.
The first thing that came to mind was the diagonal baby blanket done in garter stitch. It was easy, fast & I was teaching my mom to knit so it was the perfect thing for us to do together. Mine took about a month. Being the A.D.D. knitter I was also working on several other projects at the time as well. If I were a monogamous knitter it would have taken me about a week or week and a half. My mom's took about 6 months and several sessions of my warning her that I was on the verge of strangling her with the yarn if she kept ignoring what I had taught her.
I finished the knitting and then went to the fabric store and bought some matching flannel backing fabric to sew on. It was perfect because the flannel matched the colors and also matched her jungle baby theme. For some reason I kept putting off sewing the backing fabric on and ended up putting the whole thing aside until the baby was about 4 months old. By then she was back to work and asked me about knitting some matching scarves for her Christmas card pictures. I told her that I had just come across the blanket I made for the baby and would be sure to finish it that night and bring it the next day. On my way home I felt great about the fact that I was going to finally finish the blanket and get the guilt of not giving her the practically finished gift off my mind. When I walked into my bedroom my daughter was sitting on my bed and gave me a very sweet greeting. As I hugged her I noticed that the blanket was on my bed and thought to myself how funny it would turn up on the exact day I was coming home to finish it.
Then I saw it... out of the corner of my eye... something didn't look quite right... are those live stitches on a finished project?... what the... is that blanket?!... No!! It couldn't be!!! OMG!! She cut the finished baby blanket into several smaller pieces!!! I was so upset and so crushed that I made my husband go in the bedroom and clean up the pieces to be thrown away immediately so that I never had to see them again. My daughter had never done anything like this before. See? Cursed yarn.
A few weeks later another person in that department announced that she was trying to get pregnant. I was thrilled with the knitting possibilities. I waited patiently until a little later when she announced that she was actually pregnant. Then I went on Ravelry and filled my queue with all kinds of baby projects. Coincidentally I found blanket #2 started with this yarn.
During the craze over the pinwheel sweaters on Elann.com I started about 4 pinwheel projects. One of them was a baby blanket made with the same cursed yarn. I really liked the way the project was turning out and am not quite sure why I laid it aside (maybe in the back of my mind I knew it was cursed yarn) but anyway, it was laid aside. I found the yarn a week or so before the project was found and I started a lizard ridge baby blanket with it.
That one got frogged because the color transitions in the yarn were so subtle that the pattern was lost. The next try was a cabled baby blanket that I wouldn't normally do with striping yarn, but the color changes were subtle so it looked like it would work. I even ordered more yarn to have enough to finish a blanket. Once I finished the garter stitch edge and got into the pattern I quickly realized that the (free) pattern wasn't written very well and was frustrated with the thought of re-writing the pattern and tore out the work already done.
Then I looked through some books and found another cable pattern I really liked. After completing the first couple of cable repeats I have decided that I don't like this very much either. Again... cursed yarn. It wasn't anything against the pattern and I think I'll do that same pattern in another yarn.
Now that I have found the original pinwheel blanket (but not the pattern I was using) I realize how cute this yarn would be in the round. One last time I'm going to try to do something with this cursed yarn. I probably should give up on this yarn and let someone else try, but where would be the fun in that?
This is the project I'm trying next:
Wish me luck (or sanity)!!!
Saturday, September 22, 2007
I have had a long and arduous journey with the Jaywalker pattern. This pattern knocked me out the first round, beat me down in the second round and hopefully the third round I will come back victorious.
Being a podcast junkie I heard so much about the Jaywalker pattern of Magknits fame. It was all over blogs, podcasts, you name it. One person who blogged about it had already knit like 10 pairs? There were picture galleries dedicated to it, knitalongs, you name it this pattern had captured the attention of knitters everywhere right at the beginning of the sock yarn craze. I would go so far as to say this pattern spurred some of the sock yarn craze on because I have come to the conclusion, after looking at hundreds of Jaywalker pictures and knitting a couple myself, that this pattern rocks self-striping yarn.
This round kicked my butt and was a combination of me not trying that hard to really see what was going wrong, and a skein of cursed sock yarn that still remains buried somewhere in my stash. There was this wonderfully dyed skein of Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn that I paid something like $24 for and wanted to knit the perfect pattern to show off my extremely expensive sock yarn (this was somewhere in the beginning of my sock yarn acquisition phase that is experiencing a resurgence in my life right now and I was aghast at myself for spending so much on one skein of yarn). I tried 4 times to get that yarn to behave and still don't have any socks made of it, so I don't really blame Jaywalker for this one.
I cast on using the needle the pattern calls for. I'll just point out here that this was mistake #1 since I am a continental and very laid back knitter, both of which cause me to always have to go down a needle or two on any given pattern. Being that my feet are a 9-10 shoe size I figured that the larger size is probably for cursed women like myself and the smaller is somewhere around my MIL's size which is "Buy your shoes at Toys R Us." Mistake # 2 I didn't swatch or pay attention to the sizing of the pattern and I'm guessing from my recent experience with the pattern that the larger size is somewhere around Lumberjack, or maybe that's just how my loose knitting makes it? As I work down through the ribbing it becomes apparent to me that these really pretty pink/purple socks were going to be the perfect size for my husband or his taller dad, neither of whom were the intended reciepients. This is where I frogged round #1 also under the mistaken impression that knitting the Jaywalkers was going to be a concentration intensive task like lace knitting.
This round was much more painless. It started with a skein of Online Supersocke Cotton Beach Color #947 which looks nothing like the picture of it knit up on the ball band, but is still really pretty. I had trouble inserting a photo, but here is the link to it in my flickr page http://www.flickr.com/photos/11605432@N06/1332880725/
The Good, The Bad & The Ugly:
The good is that I was very pleasantly surprised that the pattern repeat for this sock is really easy to memorize and once you do this is a very portable project to pick up any time you have even a few minutes and you won't really lose your place. I don't think I got past the ribbing on my first try, so didn't realize how easy this pattern really is. I can easily see how people would knit this pattern over and over again, especially since I started round 3 before I finished round 2. This and the realization that the toes perfectly match my more squared off foot were great and spurred me on to actually finish the entire pair. The SSS only lasted a few days on this one.
The bad is that they are still big. I feel like the Three Bears story one was too big, one was too small and the last one was just right. Round two on a size 1 needle was too big between the needle size and the fact that the yarn is cotton, but I'll still wear them anyway and will try to shrink them a bit. Round 3 I over corrected and went to a 00 which will produce a really cute sock for my mom or sisters who have smaller feet than me. The next time I will use a 0 and that should produce the perfect size for me. Good thing Christmas is coming up!
The ugly is from the day after I took these socks off the needles I couldn't resist and had to take them to work to show them off & couldn't wait to wash/shrink them. My habit is to take my shoes off when I get to work and go barefoot, wear slippers, or socks since my office is across the parking lot from the main building. That morning I wore capris to show off the socks even more. I went into the other room, where the other girls sit, to get a file and of course the Owner of the company came in. I was trying to blend in to the file cabinet (since I was standing there in my very noticible socks) and he asked me for a meeting with myself and my boss who's office is 5 feet from where I was standing. I couldn't really say "Sure, just let me go get my shoes back on" could I? So, I go into the meeting with the girls giggling behind me that I was in my socks going into a meeting with two of the top people in our company. Luckily they are men and didn't notice what I was wearing at all.
This round is going much better with 00 needles and Opal Rainforest Tiger. I love the way it makes the tiger stripes stand out. Unfortunately they won't fit me, but will give me an excuse to buy more of this exquisite yarn (and the Snake too I saw some beautiful pictures of that in Jaywalker on Ravelry) and will make a great Christmas gift. My plan for Christmas is to knit up a bunch of scarves, socks and hand warmers and put them all in a box wrapped with Christmas paper. I will let each person choose out of the box what they want so that no one has to look at someone else's gift wishing they had got that.
So, after all my trials with Jaywalker I can see that we will become great friends, Jaywalker & I, and I will be making several pairs of this pattern. Do look at pictures of the pattern, they are so varied that there is something for everyone.
I'm on Ravelry too as theaddknitter come visit my projects and tell me what you think.
Have you seen the new Interweave Knits?!
All I have to say is WOW! There are so many projects in there I am drooling over. I just started a new subscription & I can't wait for it to arrive.
While I don't always have the uninterrupted knitting time required to do intricate cables I think I would be willing to pack this project up and work on it at my desk a little bit every night because the resulting sweater is so stunning. That would be the only way I could get some knitting time sans 6 year old. Either that or convince my work and hubby that while I haven't actually taken a vacation in 4 years and payroll won't really get done if I'm gone I absolutely need to take a two week retreat to a mountain cabin to knit this sweater. Sounds good, no?
These socks/stockings remind me of Elizabeth Zimmerman style warm and wonderful aran socks/stockings. Again with the cables, but these look simple enough that if you were to keep an index card next to you and make hash marks to know if you are on the row to do a cable that it could be done without completely alienating your family by either: a. acting like you can't hear them when they talk to you, or b. telling them that they should be able to see that you are KNITTING and why can't they just leave you alone until you are done?!
I think it was the Stash & Burn Podcast
where I heard that giant pom pom's on top of hats are really "in style" in France, and thus will eventually make their way to the US. Whether they do or not I still don't like them. You have to have just the right ski outfit and matching cute little figure to make that work out and while I've got plenty on top, the rest can't exactly be called "little". Besides, I have two teenage boys who would never been seen in public with me wearing a giant pom pom hat. That said I actually like the rest of this hat pattern. Maybe with a tassle, or something else more my taste on top, or even nothing. Although if you love the pom pom and are glad it is coming back, more power to you, and I promise not to laugh.
Now to my favorites...
I have recently discovered the wonderful world of Fair Isle. My mom is as obsessed with her motorcycle as I am with knitting. She has been begging me to make her a hat for about 2 years now. I never found a pattern I really was interested in knitting until I saw the Fake-Isle hat at http://www.magknits.com/Nov06/patterns/fakeisle.htm
Once I saw it, I knew that was the one. Actually, true to ADD form I am only remembering the most recent thing. The first fair isle was actually the hat that was in the previous Interweave Knits, who's name escapes me ( Syncopated Caps by Kate Gilbert... I love Google). After I did one of those which my daughter snatched up when she realized it made her look like Hanna Montana's skater girl friend Lilly I designed a fair isle hat with butterflies and hearts for said daughter. It wasn't my best work, but it was exactly what she wanted and still passes for greatness in the eyes of a 6 y/o with a vision.
My husband had surgery on a Friday and his mom was driving him home while I waited for the pharmacy to get his meds ready. The yarn shop I used to go to was right down the street and I needed something to put with the Kureyon I had picked to do the Fake Isle hat out of another project in progress bag (it's an afghan that doesn't expect to be worked on in 90 - 103 degree heat anyway, I'll get more on my next order from WEBS). I picked out some purple Cascade and some new Crystal Palace bamboo circular needles, which were the perfect size for this hat and was on my way. In true ADD fashion I also picked up some Regia Bamboo sock yarn to make some socks for my daughter, but I digress. Anyway... the hat was turning out so great that the next day I ran to the yarn shop again to pick out another colorway to do a second hat. I finished the hat the next day, my birthday, and took it over to my mom to wear on her motorcycle trip she will be taking at the end of this month. She was so thrilled it spurred me on to finish the second one, which was delivered the next evening. I told her we are now even as far as me knitting her a hat.
A wonderful Elizabeth Zimmerman hint I picked up in one of her video's is when you are knitting fair isle and you are going across 4-5 stitches, put your index finger between your work and the working yarn. This ensures that you won't get the puckering from the crossovers being too tight on the inside. Works wonders!
These are so cute & would be perfect to make someone who is always cold for Christmas!! They remind me of something I would want to wear after spending an afternoon out in the snow and then coming in to sit by the fire. The bottoms look like an Elizabeth Zimmerman pattern (it always goes back to her doesn't it?).
This vest is definitely sweet! I like it as/is, but since I never wear vests I think it would make a gorgeous sweater. pretty much all you would have to do is pick up stitches around the armholes and work in stockinette instead of ribbing. You could even follow another sweater pattern to get the decreases if you don't know how to do the math. Since it seems to be a little shapeless I think I would also try to add in the boob dart from www.knittingdaily.com.
I love this sweater! I think it would make almost any figure look good. This will probably be the first on my list to be knit out of this issue. I don't have much else to say about it, other than I would probably change up the colors a bit. If I ever get around to knitting this I'm sure I will have plenty to say.
Flying Buttress Socks
Ok, love the patterning of this sock, but why purple toes and heels? It looks like the person finished the sock and discovered that their cat had eaten the heel portion and also hid the rest of the yarn. Knowing that he/she had one of those crazy publishing deadlines the knitter grabbed the only other yarn available and hoped no one would notice. Maybe Interweave forgot to Photoshop the color or something? I think someone probably lost their job over this one, but the damage was done and the magazine had already gone to press.
Back to seriousness... I love this pattern if it were done in all one color, or even in matching colors. So, when you get the magazine and you just HAVE to do this pattern... remember, pick matching colors! You don't want your family having to lie to you that they actually like what you spent hours of your life painstakingly knitting.
Bravo!I think this is my favorite issue of Interweave Knits ever. There are always enough patterns in the magazine to justify my buying it, but never so many in one that I would actually knit. Thank you Interweave!