Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Warm knitting, and just in time, too

Finally finishing some projects - and just in time for the snow, too!

This was based on the Danielle Hood - which to my eyes looks like a cowl! (with all respect to Norah, but I don't do fair isle... I just don't.) Strangely, the Danielle Cowl is actually a funny buttoned or button-adorned scarf-like garment. Never mind. I finished it, and have been happily wearing it ever since. It's quite easy - I just made a tube - I did not do any increases or decreases, and I used the very soft Rowan Cocoon yarn - two skeins is all I needed.

I also finally completed my silly-colored "mibbies" - that's what I called mittens when I was small. Since my fingers tend to get very cold in the winter, mittens are pretty good for daily use for driving and clearing off the car in the morning - if I wear gloves for those jobs, the individual fingers seem to stay cold. Just something I learned. So I used Noro Kureyon for the mittens, and just followed the basic rules for mitten making rather than any specific pattern.

I did, however, discover that I don't like the 'accepted' method of leaving an opening for the thumb - most directions I've read say to just put a couple stitches on a holder for later, but I've found that that method leaves either a tight ring that later pinches your thumb (because it's basically a slit in the pattern) or leaves a washy, wide opening. So I got to the row where I needed to put the thumb-stitches aside on a holder, did that, and then on the next round when I reached the held stitches, instead of closing the round, I simply turned the work, worked the round until I hit the held stitches again, turned, and worked the round back, and then when I reached the held stitches this time, now I closed the loop and continued working in the round. This left a [] box or slot rather than a slit, if you will. A hole, two rows deep/high. I'm happy with the results, and will do that for the next set of mittens I make.

I've also gotten all entrelac-happy. I wish I'd started it before, but for some reason I was having trouble understanding the directions. Now that I've sat down & used up a few stray balls of leftover wool that ... well, not only is it great for using up small leftover skeins, but it looks cool too.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Recent events...

Common Cod talk, originally uploaded by Margo and George.

A quick update.

Among other things, the good side of the rain we've had to endure in my neck of the woods (rain every day for 45 days and counting...) is that I've gotten more knitting done than I normally would. This is a happy thing, given how very very many projects I have running at the moment.

I also *gasp* won schwag, thanks to knitgrrl Shannon Okey opening a new online shop/studio to sell her nifty patterns. I was really pleased to win a free rivulet sweater/cardigan pattern - and now I can't wait to cast on! I never win schwag! Thanks Shannon!

A trip up to Maine with Mum to visit the Aunts and Uncles was lovely, and the sun appeared long enough for us to enjoy an arts & crafts fair in Kennebunk. I met lots of interesting artists, artisans, crafters. I also finished one of my projects while up there, my office jacket (cotton tahki jeans yarn).

And most recently, as depicted in the photo above, I got to see Barbara Parry give a talk at MIT for the last meeting of the Common Cod Fiber Guild - her talk was generally about dying wool and specifically about color inspiration - fun, informative, and lots of wonderful photos from her farm in Shelburne, MA. And there were brownies too. Thanks Guido et al!

More deets in a subsequent post not generated through flickr pictures...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Vanilla Beans

So, I have been wanting a few "plain vanilla" projects to work on in between my more complicated and demanding cable or other projects. Perversely, with a white and orange cat, I still attempt to maintain my preference for black clothing. Yeah, Sisyphus has nothing on me. At least I haven't (yet) developed allergies. Yet. {knocks wood; throws salt over shoulder, etc.}

I've been repeatedly admiring the Everybody Knows cardigan on the recent edition of Knitty, but I don't particularly care for doing *all garter stitch all the time* either, so I decided I'd model my sweater on that pattern, but do seed (a.k.a. moss) stitch to stabilize the curl at the bottom, and then just continue thereafter with stockinette stitch. I left out here nifty stripes of yarn-overs, as I just didn't desire them, and concentrated my efforts on planning my darts (which I will have to make a little more complicated than hers in order to match my body type, oh joy). So far, so good. Since I couldn't make up my mind which yarn to select, I opted for the charcoal grey Pastaza yarn, and for another in the black Eco + bulky, both from Cascade yarns. Happily that bulky comes in 478 yard skeins, which makes it *way* cheaper - huzzah. Given my color choices, and the simple but absurd fact that I chose to make two cardigans... well, it's become my Vanilla Bean project (right color scheme, at least). My BFE (big fat excuse / justification) for this project this late in the season of cold is that by the time I get anywhere close to finishing one of them it'll be camping and beach-walking season, and it's very breezy and chilly at night in Maine, especially on an island, so I think I'm justified. So there.

Now if only I had the time and patience for color work, I'd make the hilarious, crazy fish hats in this month's edition. Dang.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Pakucho, Cascade Pastaza, Berroco Inca Gold

So, the Pakucho arrived, and I've been very excited to get those samples started. At first blush, it feels nice and soft, like an old (favorite) terry cloth bathrobe. For my purposes, this is excellent: the softness of age with the strength of a new fiber. Nice colors, and allegedly they improve upon the first, hot, washing. When I get these finished I'll update with photos.

Cascade Pastaza: color #007, Charcoal
I've had this material for a while, but finally decided which sweater pattern - there were several that I admired. Eventually I decided what I really wanted this season was an all-around, simple but daily use type of garment - like a suit-coat for the office, only in sweater form. The dark charcoal color, flecked with a few white fibers, is perfect for that purpose, and I chose the "Everybody Knows" pattern from the latest edition of knitty.com. I varied the pattern (hm, big surprise there!) - her pattern is intended to be simple, which is fine, but I don't care for the look or feel of all garter stitch, all the time. Plus, it simply uses up way more yarn. Maybe 150% the yarn of stockinette, if you're talking an entire sweater? I ran the numbers, and that's about how it came out. So, I'm going with mostly stockinette, with a few darts inserted to suit my own figure, and some stripes on the sleeves in basketweave stitch.

I got out my #9s to start, and realized I didn't have any lonnnng circulars in that size. Thank you Lucy at Mind's Eye Yarns, who remained open a few minutes longer than usual in spite of the snow (and attendant annoying traffic) the other night, and I was able to solve my immediate needle dilemma.

So, the yarn itself is thick, ~4st/in and 6.5rows/in. It has, from my point of view, a light twist, and it's a little easy to split when knitting, particularly when doing a cable-cast on. Once it's working though, it's great. It yields a nice, thick, opaque, but flexible fabric. Soft to the touch yet still sturdy. Oddly, this particular colorway is hard to find at my usual LYSes and online sources. I got the original stuff at MEY, but at the moment they're out, and only yarncountry.com seems to have it; otherwise most LYS indicate I must buy a whole bag of it. Since I already bought 3/4 of what I need...that's a little overkill for me. I'll do a little further investigations on it.

Berroco Inca Gold: so yeah, I had to just try this one. Part of the appeal was its color alone. I love soft, greyish sea greens. I was at Cranberry Fiber Arts in Hamilton, Massachusetts when I saw this stuff; I had stopped in for no other reason than to browse. This one's a worsted / 10 ply (9 wpi), at 122.0 yards per skein. The official colorway is 6418 Verde Azulado, which I admit isn't terribly grey, but there you go. I wanted something like the sea, and I was on my way for a walk on the beach.

I found when I knitted a swatch of this in stockinette stitch, I didn't care for the curling it did. Stiff - soft & squishy, but too springy for something I'd wear. sproing! On the other hand, I tried it in horseshoe lace, and that sample has turned out so well I've kept going... go figure.
So, I'm planning to make a hood out of it, but it would make a great little sweater in that lace too, if I didn't have a zillion other projects going at once…

Monday, January 19, 2009

pakucho samples

So, I've ordered some sample skeins of pakucho.

I've been meaning to for ages.

I forget exactly how I came across this yarn, and started admiring it, but I was totally enamored of the fact that the cotton naturally grows in its own variety of colors - that is, shades of cream, tan, cocoa, and green. These had a really nice gentle sheen to them, as well as being appealing.

I had to find out whether they were as soft as they looked, so I decided to order a couple sample skeins, and at worst they'd turn into basket liners and washcloths for my home.

Further encouraged by my reading, I found this review by the inimitable Clara Parkes on her Knitter's Review site.
After searching around on ravelry, I found a supplier in the States (it's an import from Peru): www.ecobutterfly.com

More on this later...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Recent events...

Well, I've survived the holiday rush, relatively unscathed (i.e., I took a few days off for a restful staycation, and slept!)

Some projects were completed, other started, and still more added to my ravelry queue in the faint and distant hope of ever getting around to casting on, let alone completing them. Still, I'm diligently working on a cardigan for the dad, and I completed and mailed out to my baby niece a new little sweater with giraffe buttons, and I'm assured that alias-Pnut is conducting rigorous product testing at this moment! I've found a pattern in the Knitter's Book of Yarn (KBOY) that I think will be a good use of my stashed crochet cotton from ages ago, so I started that pattern as well, in part to learn / practice a Figure-8 Cast On. I'm not sure I like that method, but I can see its utility in this case. I had to hold off on adding the stitch-markers until later in the process, because working with the tiny yarn and tiny needles (I used #2s) in this case was simply too unwieldy when you add markers to the mix. After working through the first several "rounds" I'm pleased with how quickly it builds up and am looking forward to finishing it fairly soon.

In more recent events, I heard about - at the last minute - a fun event: Clara Parkes, the author of the KBOY, a really cool, wonderful, informative and fun read about the how, why and what of yarn and fiber, was going to be in Boston to give a talk at a meeting of the local fiber guild: Common Cod. The weather turned out to be clear, but bitter cold and windy. The crowd (and there was a crowd, I'm happy to say) were all busily knitting - making me and my knitting and hiking buddy, Chiquitita, wish we'd brought our own projects. The sound of knitting needles occasionally falling to the floor punctuated the talk, and it was funny to sit high up in a full auditorium, to watch the talk over the heads of knitters occasionally stretching an arm up to draw more yarn out from their working skeins. The talk was fun and hilarious, and we filled room 123 of the MIT Stata Center ( a fairly large auditorium-style class room).

Clara not only discussed yarn and fiber developments, but informed us about her recently developed "theory of stashitivity"...she's a great speaker, and stayed not only to answer questions afterward, but also to sign copies of her books (and had even brought a couple to sell, for those of us who were honoring last-minute requests from relatives for a copy...like, my mother). Thanks and kudos go out to the organizers of the event (Common Cod and I believe MITKnit? ) for organizing the event and the space. I'll definitely be back for other events.

I'm beginning to enjoy attending some of these talks more and more: it's inspiring and encouraging not only to see photos of yarn and projects, but to get a chance to speak with fellow fiber enthusiasts, compare notes, and have a good laugh.

Hopefully, the posts will be a little less intermittent now that winter's here.