Shawl Event Horizon

20 06 2009

I’m one row and the bind-off away from finishing the Springtime Bandit shawl. (If I can get it blocked tomorrow it’ll be done just in time to take with me on Monday for a week in Vancouver. My only setback over the last couple weeks, other than time to sit with it, was ripping back to the lifeline and adding another body repeat when I realized the yarn amount could handle it.)

Just one more row. The longest row. The slowest row. The bind-off that takes forever. I just don’t know how I’m going to push forward without something to help. Now, here, in Southern Ontario, in late June, at the height of strawberry season.

Smack, smack. Don’t wait up!


2 06 2009

1. Finished the BSJ last week and darn if that isn’t the cutest niftiest thing you would ever want to knit from a pattern that happily blinds you to any possibility of oh, say, visualizing what you are actually making. Awesome. I’ll make more. Who else has babies?

I squeaked this out in two skeins of Manos Cotton Stria (a giftie from Steph last year), and I do mean squeaked. I knew this was possible because I saw one other person on Ravelry had done it with the same two skeins of the same yarn, and had to modify the button band to be able to finish. Like her, I also needed the yarn from the tags to sew it up. 

But it does look awful cute, and I hear the recipient arrived well ahead of schedule, on the weekend. I think her mum’s pleased.

2. Took in my very first lacrosse game on the weekend with a friend from my old department. Now, lacrosse is half of our national sport (hockey getting the winter half), but I had never actually witnessed it being played. It turns out it is a lot like hockey, only with less padding and more actual hitting people with sticks. (It was explained to me that indoor lacrosse is even worse.) Imagine soccer players with helmets and chest pads carrying tiny fishnets on sticks. It was fun. And I caught a t-shirt they tossed into the crowd. The BMO arena itself is a nice spot to sit in too, especially if you’re on the side that gets you the cool view of the skyline. 

3. Rest of the weekend was spent at the cottage with another friend, where we ate and drank our faces off, watched movies, and I spent some quality knitting time with some yarn that came home with me from NYC.

This is Springtime Bandit, in Araucania Ruca Multy, a yarn that seems to want to exist in pastels and only pastels, but is so soft I want this thing done and wrapped around my neck stat. It’s like bamboo, but heavier. And it’s enjoying the structure the lace pattern is giving it. So if I can push past this nice honeymoon period before the traditional shawl stage of “oh god when will this row end why is this hurting me” kills the love. Mmm, new shawl. Yummy.

Nobody cares if you upset a droid

23 05 2009

My Baby Surprise Jacket, that I was halfway through, took a setback yesterday when I realized I had made a mistake so far back in the knitting, ripping it back would basically be the equivalent of starting over. So I tore the needles out and started a little sweater-to-sweater transfusion. It’s a little weird and floopy. But I’m with ya, EZimm. Now I see why there are thousands of these things on Ravelry. 

This will join me on the couch for a quiet Saturday morning, since I’ve been getting a tiny cold that’s tiny enough not to bother much with, but enough to be annoying enough to want to pack it in with tea and toast and some restful garter stitch. Mmm. No purling. (Although, note to self: toast hard to eat while coughing.)

In lieu of actual knitting, please enjoy and be hypnotized by the following a capella Star Wars tribute. Someone move this walking carpet.

Licorice Whip (FO)

17 05 2009

For someone who knits slowly and hardly knits sweaters, I’m a little surprised to be cranking out my second one of the year. Presenting Licorice Whip, in Gedifra Tiago (silk/rayon):

You may remember this yarn from such previous blunders sweaters as the Lion Brand top-down raglan cardigan. That sweater looked not so bad, but it was a marriage of yarn and pattern that was not going well. One day I looked at it in the drawer, realized I had not so much as put it on in almost a year, and realized I need to draw up some divorce papers. The silk/rayon is way too heavy for the cardigan, and I still had 3 full balls of it left in the end. I found Licorice Whip while browsing pullover patterns on Ravelry. It calls for aran-weight cotton and this seemed a good substitute.  

It’s a double bonus because this is yarn that’s been on my conscience since two summers ago from the Needle Emporium Tent Sale in Ancaster. It’s a case of sales making you buy something you ordinarily wouldn’t. (Random silk blend? Nah. Pink? When do I ever choose pink?) (For context, this plus the Jamieson’s wool cost $100 altogether. I mean how could you not?) So using it up in a pullover finally gets it off my conscience. You wanna know what the best part is? This is the sum total of the yarn I have left:

I won’t lie, there were moments on the last sleeve of “oh thank Jesus I still have my gauge swatch.”

This is a nice pattern. I’m happy with the fit. The shaping really helps the yarn. The lace details add interest to what is basically a generic top-down raglan. I’d almost recommend against a wool yarn for this because the weight helps the look and feel. The yo holes are a little too lacy if the wind is going, but all in all I call it a win. Now I just have to figure out what I have in my closet that pink goes with.

Next up, I’m getting my EZimm on and trying a Baby Surprise Jacket for a work gift. We’ll see if it works out. I might be knitting a ranch house.

P.S. I have to thank everyone for the Ravelry love on Treeline. It is a great, comfy, fun cardi! Everyone should go knit one too, in every colour.

We interrupt normal service

24 04 2009

I just got back from a little mini-break in New York, visiting friends Rebecca and Chelle, and all around having a fabulous time. It turns out there’s a whole lot of that place to see.

Walked everywhere, ate everything. I think I have eaten myself into a new pants size. Over the course of the trip we covered Brooklyn (Bay Ridge/Park Slope/Coney Island), The Village, Midtown, Central Park, Upper West Side, Upper East Side, and the Bronx (Wave Hill/The Cloisters). I went to the boardwalk at Coney Island and survived eating a deep-fried Reese’s peanut butter cup, played on the piano at FAO Schwartz, went into Bloomingdales, Grand Central, NYC Public Library, St. Patrick’s Cathedral (wow), enjoyed the sunshine in Central Park and Wave Hill, saw pillaged medieval artefacts in the Cloisters, ate mexican twice, bagel w/lox & cream cheese, BBQ, pizza, the best cookies, pita & pizza I have ever eaten, afternoon tea, re-visited the glorious halal cart, middle-eastern restaurant and ice cream stores from before, learned Guitar Hero, shopped for delicious yarn, and there was hardly any drinking at all which must mean it was all too chill for our own good.

I made three yarn stops, to Annie’s Needlework (new to both R and me), Knitty City (I mean we had 45 minutes to kill while waiting for a table at Alice’s Tea Cup, and what would you have done?), and The Point (accidentally, with C, when we discovered we were just a few blocks away, after a tea shop search after lunch in the Village). 

At Knitty City we had a quick browse and there were these two skeins of Dream in Color “Starry” (in Cloud Jungle and Cocoa Kiss) that just leapt into my arms without so much as a please-and-thank-you. (Also somewhat badly timed, because they would have been perfect for the Viper Pilots socks that I had just cast on for the trip.) At Annie’s I bought two skeins of Araucania Ruca, which is made of sugar cane and has a feel somewhere between bamboo and silk. Very plant-y. It’s destined to be a shawl which I might cast on for soon (just don’t tell my linen).

There’s no way I can ask work to let me not come in for a month so I can give my knitting the time it deserves, is there? Darn it.

Treeline Cardi (FO)

28 03 2009

Well finally there’s a real FO to show off around these parts. This is Treeline Cardigan from Purl Bee. I started it way back at the beginning of February, after a yarn crawl with Glenna and Kate got me thinking about those little bits of Silk Garden I had hanging around my stash.

We were at the Naked Sheep in Toronto and I was fondling the Silk Garden cubbie (as you do), and realized there were a few skeins I could put together to make this. I went home and scanned the yardage requirements, and the only thing holding me back from starting it right then and there was that I needed more yarn for the second colour and the next day was Sunday and all the LYSs were closed. I ended up back in Toronto later that week, and back at the Naked Sheep, thinking I’d pick up some Cascade 220 to stripe it with. But after staring and staring at colour options trying to make it work, I asked the gal at the store for help, and she went right over to the Malabrigo shelf (Mmmmmmmalabrigo) and pulled out a dark chocolatey brown that was perfect. Just perfect. And lo and behold I was dropping more money than I have ever spent on a project in my life. 

Then, I brought it home and knit happily through the dead of February cold with the cozy wool and silk-mohair making me feel warm just knitting it, and was almost done…. and then I had to do this:

See, here’s the thing, see. I should never try to be smarter than a pattern. And while I’m doing that, I should remember that gauge swatches aren’t just for show. Since the pattern calls for Manos wool, which is a little heavier than what I was using, and since I had got it into my head that 2 inches of ease was just not enough, I cast on way too many stitches for the body. It became apparent, after getting to the yoke and trying it on, that it was just not going to work. And if I was going to finish a sweater with materials like this, it had to be better. So I ripped back to just above the body ribbing, and went back at it. So here we are two months later and it’s finally done.

So I think the beginning of spring, when it’s warming up and we’re shedding all our layers and enjoying the sun and getting ready for cottons and linens and light jackets is, um, totally the perfect time to wear a wool/mohair sweater, right? Yeah, me too. Definitely better than the dead of February, anyway. Shyeah.

There are still some things that are bugging me about the finished object, but overall I’m happy with this pattern and I’d consider knitting it again next year. I really like the look of the single-row stripes, and the ribbing detail around the button band. I think this would work in just about any worsted weight wool, which makes me want to grab some Patons on the cheap and just crank one out in whatever colour combo. I’ve noticed most versions of this sweater on Ravelry have made the button band in the solid colour instead of stripes, but I like the funky detail of the striped band. 

The pattern is written in only two sizes but since it’s really your basic bottom-up raglan cardi, it wouldn’t be hard to modify. (Having said that though, there was something about the yoke shaping that just didn’t work out for me. Somehow after completing all the requisite decreasing, I had too many stitches and had to fudge a little once I got to the collar.) You could also add some waist shaping to the body for a better fit. The one drawback to the yarns I used, is Silk Garden’s complete inelasticity. Even though I think the Malabrigo mediates that a little, the finished sweater is still a little too drapey. 

This sweater is a really upscale version of a basic comfy cardi, and the details in the pattern add a lot of interest. I won’t get as much wear out of it this year as I was hoping, but I will next winter. I actually don’t have too many sweaters in my roster, so this starts to fill out my closet a little more too.

Onwards and upwards. My knitting’s still going slowly but now that spring is in the air I might actually be able to get back to all that linen I had to ditch last August.

Sock Roundup

4 03 2009

Oh dear. I seem to have lost February. Maybe it got stuck behind the fridge or underneath the couch cushions with some loose change.

The knitting hasn’t stopped though, even if it’s been slowed down by the natural pace of work & commute & home time, and having started more bigger projects than smaller ones. So far this year I’m 2 pairs of socks for 2 months. I’ve discovered if I just assign socks as commute knitting, it’s a nice month-long project. So last week I finally finished up the Crosswalkers Socks. The yarn is Verve by The Unique Sheep (in the Doctors Without Borders colourway), which is a 100% superwash wool, and my 3rd prize at last year’s Scavenger Hunt. My first attempt at this pattern didn’t work out, and since then the yarn has been sitting there all messily re-wound waiting to get knit. I’m stoked it’s finally off the list.

The pattern is essentially a simplified Jaywalker: there are only four zig-zags instead of eight. It suited the variegated yarn to show the bias in the fabric, and I did my first eye-of-partridge heel. I like the yarn okay. Drawbacks I’m wondering about are that it was a leeeetle splitty at points, and the red is so bright that I’m concerned how much it will bleed after washing.

I’m not sure though, if I’d knit this pattern again. I went up to 2.5mm needles instead of the 2.25 the pattern calls for because the leg ended up being so tight I could hardly get it over my foot. (High arches. Bahhhhh.) But, since there’s much less biasing on the foot with the entire sole being stockinette, the foot is naturally slightly looser. So in the end, these fit, but I’m leery about having some saggy, baggy sock feet down the line. 

In January I finished the Twinkleberry socks, of the short-row-heel-grafting extravaganza. They are in Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock, and are dee-lite-ful, both for the yarn and the pattern. I have one other pair in Lorna’s Laces already, and it is almost without fail the first pair I wear after the laundry basket is emptied. This yarn can take lace and I don’t worry it’s all going to fall apart. It’s soft and warm and light, and you’d hardly know the nylon is there. (In fact, for a long time I laboured under the misconception that it was 100% wool. Who knew?) I’m just going to have to knit more.

With these two pairs it’s hit me how seldom I actually knit socks. Although my stash basket is near teeming with fingering weight, there are actually only 7 pairs of handknit socks in my sock drawer that get any kind of regular wear. Of those, 1 pair was a gift and four were made 3 or more years ago. Last year, I only knit one pair. Somehow, I feel like someone should take away my knitting license, or at least dole out demerit points.

My other February project is waiting to be blogged, but if all goes apace I’ll have something big to blog, finally. It’s sweater season!


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