Christmas · crafts · Crochet · knitting

The grinch

Yes, that’s me… the one hibernating in her house to avoid all the holiday cheer.  It’s not that I hate Christmas, it’s just… ugh, stress.  I only have one rehearsal remaining with my choir before Christmas, and I really am worried.  I won’t go into the details, I will just say that it’s really hard being the replacement for a particularly beloved director.  How to strike a balance between tradition and new things?  How, in fact, to change anything without seeming like I’m being mean about everything that happened before I got the job?

I keep telling myself “You can’t please everyone.”  Which is true.  And also totally not helpful, because I want to please everyone.  And I am worried I may be getting sick, which just  cannot happen right now.  I need my voice.

See, there I go… grinchy grinch grinch.  I want to be more cheerful, but I just don’t think I can for another 11 days… so please try to understand if I’m a little behind in my replies etc… all will return to normal in January! Even my knitting has been stressing me out lately, resulting in me starting and immediately abandoning at least 5 projects.

Fortunately, I finally seem to have found two projects that are sticking.  Firstly, I have finally found a project for my Disco Lights!

This is the Swing Scarf from Exquisite Little Knits.  I have seen this project on Ravelry, and had mentally filed away the pattern.  Yesterday I went to the library, where I found a copy of the book (and realized I had ignored it on previous trips because it has some sort of furry green capelet on the cover.)  I got out my size 8 needles and cast on… what a wonderful pattern to show off the sequins!  I love the soothing garter stitch, and the pointy ends are nice.  The pattern calls for adding tassels, but I am on the fence about those… we will see when I get done.  I’m aiming to wear this for New Years, a goal which should be easy since there are only 19 stitches per row.  I hope you don’t mind some more photos… I just adore the way this yarn is knitting up, and the silk is so wonderful to knit with.

 

I have also cast on and then ripped several patterns with my Figgy Pudding yarn.  I was all set to make the Leyburn socks, but I have learned to fear patterns that say “stitch pattern is not stretchy” and then call for less stitches than I usually use for a sock.  I didn’t feel like adjusting the numbers, so I will work that pattern at a time when my brain is more available.

I want to make toe up socks, so I got out Sensational knitted socks and used the Easy Toe.

Well, that’s not true… first I tried the short row toe 3 times, hated the way it looked all three times, swore off toe up socks forever, and then discovered the joy of this toe.  These are currently set to be the Firestarter socks, but that could change if the pattern is too hard for my brain right now.  I need to brush up on my “Cabling without a needle” skills.  I learned how once, but I get all confused about which direction to go.

The gathered pullover still looks like a giant tube of stockinette, but I am now to the cables.  My stress related knitting ADD has left it sitting lonely for a bit, but I may pull it out tonight and work on it.  We are going to Cincinnati tonight to help Marc’s parents decorate for Christmas, and that means knitting time, both in the car and on my own after they go to bed.  I got my pianist to cover the Saturday mass this weekend, in the hopes that this little break will re energize me for the push to the holiday!

crafts · finished objects · knitting · patterns

FO: Dublin Bay socks (+ scarves)

Pattern: Dublin Bay

Yarn: Mama Llama Merino Tencel in Fall Leaves

Needles: Knitpicks options metal dpns, size 0

Notes: These socks were a really enjoyable knit.  I recommend the pattern to anyone looking for an easy pattern that isn’t all plain stockinette.  I changed the ribbing to K2P2 because my K1P1 ripping is not so hot looking without a tubular cast on.  I reduced the cast on to 60 stitches and adjusted the pattern accordingly (let me know if anyone needs my numbers!)  The eye of partridge heel is fabulous, and I can imagine I will use it as often as I can! In the end I enjoyed working with the yarn – it’s soft, smooth and shiny.  It doesn’t have any spring to speak of, which is the downside of this yarn.  There were times I wished it had a bit more give, but that’s a minor complaint.  I can’t wait to see how it wears!  It did bleed when I washed them, but I blame that on the tencel, which I have heard does not hold dye as well as some other yarns.

On Scarves:

I love to wear scarves.  Hardly a day goes by that I don’t have something warm wrapped around my neck.  However – both of the scarves I have knit this winter are for other people – the One Row scarf for Marc, and Danica for my sister-in-law (I decided the SWS was too itchy for me – I have a sensitive neck!)  I would like to make a scarf for myself, but I’m a bit lost as to what pattern to use.  I swatched last night for the Drop Stitch scarf in some Lorna’s Laces Shepherd sport in Baltic Sea (this has been in my stash forever!)

Hmm… I think maybe this is too muddy looking for the pattern.  I’d like something with more distinct color changes.  It’s a lovely pattern though – I will save it for perhaps some sock yarn!

Here’s a listing of some of (but not all of- I am so embarrassed) the scarves currently in my Ravelry queue

Hypoteneuse

Chevron Scarf

Falling water (pdf)

Tulips (crochet)

Obi Scarf (from “Knitting Classic style)

Drops Design drop stitch scarf

Gigi (from “Romantic Hand Knits”)

Jyri (Norah Gaughan vol 1)

Cream of Spinach scarf

Seaman’s scarf

Gathered scarf

Vertigo scarf

Lana & Clark ascot

Huckleberry Ascot (IK holiday 07)

Wisp

 Holding Hands Feeding Ducks

Dropped yarnover scarf

crafts · Crochet · knitting · patterns · yarn

Oh, the humanity!

Yes, what I wrote yesterday is true… I am allergic to cashmere. I already wasn’t enjoying knitting my cowl, but I found that I was getting the same stuffy head that came with the alpaca problems. I went away for awhile and it got better… knit some more and it came back. So… no more cashmere.

the offending yarn

I suppose this will be good for my budget, yes?

I have been casting around for something else small to work on, thus far with little success. I first tried casting on for the scarf from my Japanese pattern book, but I need to write it out, and I’m not in the mood right now. I tried swatching for the hat I want to make from the Kim Hargreaves collection, but I got irritated with myself for losing yarn overs, so that isn’t going to be worked on yet. I am, in short, a bit frustrated.

I’m going to give the Orchid lace mitts a try, perhaps. I did wind up the yarn.

I am still working on the Dublin bay socks, but they are nearly done. I wound up the yarn for my next socks, which I’m thinking will be the Leyburn Socks (link is a pdf file!) I think they will look really pretty in this yarn.

Colorway: Figgy Pudding by Crazy4dyeing on Etsy

I’m still working on the Gathered pullover. It looks tiny to me, but it is measuring what it’s supposed to. I’m at 7.5″ out of 8 before the motif, but I will give it an extra inch – the rolling hem really eats at the length.

Yes… it’s a big blob of teal right now, and not so exciting to look at. It’s also really hard to photograph – it is less blue than in this photo, but saturated colors are so hard!

Ah well… it’s Tuesday, and that means it’s time for work and rehearsal – and I am running late!

crafts · finished objects · knitting

FO: One Row Malabrigo Scarf

Pattern: One Row Handspun Scarf by the Yarn Harlot

Yarn: Malabrigo Merino worsted in Red Mahogany, 2 skeins

Needles: US 8

Notes: Finished at last!  This is destined to be my one handknit Christmas present, and I’m only calling it that because it took so long to finish (but Marc gets it now – his neck is cold!)  This pattern is perfect for showing off the subtle color changes in the semi-solid Malabrigo colorways.  It’s easy to memorize and not too boring.  It goes really quickly.  I actually added two pattern repeats to this scarf to make it wider, and I knit it to be over 6 feet long… which is just what Marc requested, since he likes to double up his scarf when he wears it to walk to the bus stop.  I will probably make another of these – I am debating between this pattern and Shifting Sands for my own Malabrigo scarf in Sunset.  The 2 skeins were slightly different, but I didn’t care enough to alternate them, and I don’t think it shows unless you look where the 2nd skein is joined.

But the important part?  He loves it!

Tomorrow: The one where I find out I’m allergic to cashmere (oh, the humanity!)

crafts · Crochet · knitting · patterns · yarn

The smalls

Thank you all for the comments on my Emily sweater and ripple scarf – as usual, I am behind in my replies, but know that I truly appreciate the feedback!

I’m so scattered at this time of year, as I get my choirs ready for the upcoming holidays.  This is my first year as director of the program, and I really want things to go well… but of course not everything is under my control, so I am stressed.  This is leading to me dreaming about a million small knitting projects – I just can’t seem to focus too much on any one thing!  I have been working on the Gathered Pull0ver, and it does go quickly, but I have been unable to stop myself from dreaming about, or even casting on for new projects (very unlike me!)

I am nearly finished at last with the One Row scarf, and my second Dublin Bay sock is past the heel (meaning, since it’s stockinette, that I could finish it tonight if I wanted to.)  I cast on for the Purl cashmere cowl several times – first with a 16″ circular (Oh, how I hate these!) and then with some bamboo dpns.  The only larger dpns I can seem to find are the clover ones and the brittany birch, neither of which I like at all – they are way too “grabby” for someone who prefers metal needles.  Is there some secret I’m missing?  What do you all use for knitting hats and sleeves?  Because I really hate knitting with these, and am even considering switching to magic loop.

The color is lovely though, if I can just get them onto tolerable needles (and yes, it is a bit folded up – still, I hope it’s big enough!)
I also decided on my next project from the Kim Hargreaves book.

This is Bonnie, a slouchy lacy hat.  It caught my attention for two reasons – 1, it is knit in bamboo soft, which I wanted to try, and 2: it isn’t knit in the round.  I will start this as well, as soon as I finish at least one of the older projects.  There is a really cute finished one already on ravelry, if you are there!

crafts · Crochet · finished objects

FO: Ripple scarf

Pattern: My own

Yarn: Caron Simply Soft

Hook: G(?)

Notes:  So… you remember that ripple afghan I started ages ago?  Well, I thought “When life gives you lemons…. make them into a scarf!”  I pulled it out of the knitting basket, declared it finished, and wove in the ends… voila, instant scarf (which I actually love!)  I’m wearing it today, as I go to church to play a funeral (this is part of my job.)

While I was finishing this, I looked at the extra skein of simply soft in beige and thought “Hmm, think I’ll make myself some fingerless gloves.”  And you know what I discovered?  It wasn’t all the rippling that was hurting my fingers… it was the yarn!  I’m trying not to be an acrylic hater here, but I have discovered that it makes my fingers ache in a way nothing else does, whether I’m knitting or crocheting.  This makes me curious whether part of my fears of crochet related hand pain couldn’t be related to the fact that I’ve crocheted with a lot of acrylic.  I think I will try to find out!  I couldn’t really say why it hurts… but I’m not using it anymore.  And should I get struck by the ripple urge again, I will use a nice soft wool blend instead.

I’m happy to have this out of my wip basket.  Now it only contains actual WIPS!

crafts · finished objects · knitting

FO: Emily

Pattern: Emily by Kim Hargreaves, from The Dark House Collection available on her website.

Yarn: Cascade Venezia Worsted (wool/silk) in Blue Velvet, 5 skeins for the 32″ size
Needles: US 6 for body, 7 and 5 for edgings

Mods: I picked up stitches for the neckline and did 2×2 ribbing, rather than making garter ribbing and sewing it on separately.  I think it worked out just fine.  My row gauge was different, so my neck is slightly less low than it’s meant to be – but I prefer this.  I like having at least one handknit that doesn’t require a tank underneath!

Notes:  In the end, in spite of all my cursing the endless stockinette, I love this sweater.  I love the slouchy sleeves and the u-neck.  I love the color.  I love the yarn.  A few things to consider if you make this sweater:  Choose a yarn that will have a nice drape.  Silk blends or mohair/angora blends would be nice choices.  If you are making it from a yarn that tends to stretch, consider making the sleeves an inch or so shorter – mine are ok, but I would have made them a little shorter and they would be fine.  I found the directions for the U-neck to be confusing – too much “At the same time” going on, and I finally had to chart them out – but the effect is lovely, and so much nicer than a plain scoop neck.  I’m not really thrilled with my seaming in garter stitch – because it’s a sort of ribbing, neither garter or mattress seaming seemed to work well.  But then again – I’m the only one staring at that, so I will let it go!  The schematics in the pattern aren’t the best I’ve ever seen – it’s unclear what some of the measurements are for etc… but I trusted in the pattern, and in the end it all turned out just fine.  I can see myself making more patterns from this lovely book!

crafts · knitting · patterns · yarn

Tomorrow!

Pictures of Emily will come tomorrow, hopefully. I’m off work, so if Marc gets home before dark (it happens at 5:30 now) we should be able to snap some!

In the meantime, I’ve started what will hopefully be an easy sweater.

This is the Gathered pullover from the current (Winter 07) IK. Yes, I am knitting a sweater in the round. Emily has killed my will to purl for a bit. I’m enjoying the fact that this sweater is knit at a loose gauge, which is different for me, and of course I love the color (I cannot get away from teals!) I’m knitting the smallest size, which should have a small amount of negative ease in the bust area, which may be important here as the sweater has a bit of an empire waist. I’m still deciding if I will knit the sleeves in the round – I don’t really want to knit them on dpns, since I hate large dpns, but I think since this sweater has rolled hems I don’t want a seam. Maybe I will use magic loop… I’m not a huge fan of ML, but it won’t kill me. I’m also not sure if I will add length or not. I plan to wear this over a long camisole, so I might rather have it shorter.

I have yet to finish Marc’s scarf, mostly because I get tired of the pattern, but I need to finish – I want to make myself a cowl out of this Etsy yarn.

I have never knit with cashmere, so I am excited!

I love the feature knitting daily is doing, where they have lots of different sized people show how the same size sweater looks on them. Today they did the Colette pullover, which I am planning to make soon. I haven’t done much colorwork, but it looks simple to me (famous last words, right?) They recommend some positive ease, and I agree that an inch or so looks good… but unfortunately I am just above the smallest size, but almost 4 inches smaller than the 2nd. I do not need that much ease, so hopefully I can fiddle with my gauge to get a size in the middle.

I almost never knit sweaters with any positive ease. I usually aim for 1/2-1″ of negative ease. This is not because I want tight sweaters (in fact, none of mine are tight at all) but because I find most patterns are not shaped the way that I am. My waist is a whole lot smaller than my bust, so any positive ease in the bust usually looks like I’m wearing a sack around my waist… and while I can add extra shaping, I have just found that negative ease is easier. Besides, knits almost always stretch out when you wear them.

Fashion seems to be heading towards less fitted waters, and while I do enjoy an empire waist or an occasional A-line , I am afraid of a return to boxiness. After all, they are already trying to convince me that high waisted pants are a good idea (um… no they aren’t) or that tapered skinny jeans will look great on me (they don’t) so all we need now are giant sweaters like sacks to wear over them.

Ok… I will step off my fashion soapbox, and mention that the Winter Knitty is up. I didn’t like anything from the last 2 issues (until the fall surprise patterns, which I love) and I think this is a nicer issue. I like Ice Queen, Azure (I have jitterbug to use up, although I’ve never made toe-up socks,) Stardust (in a different yarn… I don’t like the hairy look of that one,) and Dahlia (but either not for winter or with longer sleeves… seriously, I don’t get the short sleeved sweater over a long sleeved shirt thing… my arms are my coldest part!)

Will any of them make my queue? Well… not right away. I like them, but I’m not feeling inspired. Still, I think it’s a solid issue!

crafts · knitting

Soon…

Emily is finished, with no yarn to spare!  During seaming I found a few mistakes – it would seem that somehow I knit an extra garter ridge in the lower edging on one side.  But I don’t care.  Because this sweater is finally finished, and I will not have it hanging over my head any longer.  Don’t get me wrong – it’s lovely and looks great on (modeled photos as soon as I can get Marc home during daylight hours!) but it was such a slog to knit.  How much of a slog?  It took me about the same amount of time it took to knit as Thermal… a sweater that was made with fingering weight yarn in an allover stitch pattern.  I don’t usually have a hate on for stockinette, so I don’t know what the deal was…

Final details when I have photos!

Now I can go dream about what will come next, and knit Marc’s scarf.  It is time for that piece to be finished, or he will have a cold neck all winter (we have only now reached what he would call scarf weather.)

crafts · Crochet · knitting · patterns · yarn

Back home… about shopping

We’re back home from our pilgrimage to the north (Indianapolis.)  I used to live there, but I still am always shocked by the temperature difference.  We’re in the 50s here, but it in the 20s/low 30s there with some sleet going on in the afternoon.  Growing up here, I always thought our winters were terrible, but now that I have known different winters I think ours are rather nice.

Marc came in 2nd place in the top division of his scrabble tournament (yay!)  Friday night I stayed at our hotel, because I wasn’t feeling well (we stayed at the Wingate by Westin, and it was an excellent value for a very clean, nice hotel.)  Saturday I dropped him off, and armed with my list of yarns I want to look at, I started shopping!

I went to Stitches and Scones first, which as it turned out was my favorite store of the day.  It’s to the north of Indy in Westfield, but it’s really not a bad drive.  They had an excellent mix of fancy yarns and basic yarns, and a really nice sale selection as well.  I was mostly looking for lace weight yarns, and they had the best selection.  I ended up buying some Zephyr wool/silk yarn to make Juno Regina.  Although it may look teal in the photo, it’s actually a darker spruce green.  I love it, and while you can buy zephyr locally I don’t recall this color.  I also got a little purple tape measure with the shop name on it, which I needed because Leon destroyed mine.

After I left the store, I did a little shopping around and went to the second stop.  Knit-stop is located on 82nd street, smack in between two large malls.  They have a lot of very high end yarns, including some I’d never seen before.  They also have a room of sweater yarn, and I was happy to see the entire Drops line for the first time.  I almost bought some silke-tweed, but decided it was too rough for my taste.  I didn’t buy anything here, but I recommend the visit.  They were very friendly, and I’m sure if I still lived in Indy I would visit often!

My final stop was the Massachusetts Avenue Knit shop downtown.  I was looking for Reynolds Whiskey, but they didn’t have the colors I was interested in.  I bought some needles, but nothing else.  I have a hard time shopping for yarn because I’m so slow to make decisions, and this store is pretty large.

Yarn stores can be arranged in so many ways – by brand, by color, by fiber, or by weight.  I personally have a preference for arranging by weight.  Fiber is ok, but I really don’t care for arranging by color or brand, because I find it too hard to find what I want and get overwhelmed.

Once back home (we drove through Bloomington) I was able to order some yarns, since I didn’t find what I wanted while we were out.  I ordered from knitpicks, which I haven’t done in awhile, but I wanted some more of their metal dpns, which I find I am totally in love with.  I bought Shadow, to make the orchid lace gloves below (from knitspot.)  Aren’t they so lovely and delicate?  I’m in a little bit of a lace mood lately.  I’m also going to make Colette from Telemark, because A. It’s really cheap and B. I don’t love the colors that Whiskey comes in.  I’m keeping the red/gray color scheme, but telemark has a nicer red for my coloring.  I also got some undyed gloss yarn to make the stole below, and red swish dk for the scarf, both from the Japanese book I just got.  I had forgotten how cheap knitpicks is!

I find the crochet patterns easier to understand than the Japanese knitting patterns.  This book has a glossary in the back that shows you step by step what each symbol means.  It took all my willpower not to make both of these ivory like the photos, but I don’t wear that much ivory.  The shawl will be lovely in ivory, while the scarf will look great with my many gray coats in red.

Did you see that Webs is selling slightly imperfect Lexie Barnes bags for half price?  I told Marc he is going to be giving me one for Christmas.  I ordered the superstar messenger bag in Baja (pink and black), and I promised to act very surprised in front of his family.  He’s not great at picking out gifts, so this way everyone is happy… some might think it unromantic, but I married him for who he is, not his gift giving ability!

Ah yes… my wips.  Emily is nearing completion, if I can just make myself finish.  I have half a sleeve, seaming, and the neckline to go.  I’m still worried about yarn amounts, but I may just make it!  I basted the other half of the body together to try on, and it fits fine.  The sleeves may be a tiny bit long, so if I have to I can reclaim some of that yarn, but I’m going to try not to.