Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Yesterdays post, today...

Here is the post that I hoped to get out yesterday, but that didn't so much work out. Here I give you my Continetal Hat. It's the pattern from LMKG. I haven't a clue about how many stitches I cast on. I attempted a multiple of 8 as required in the pattern, but I lost a stitch somewhere and ended up having to skip a decrease. I wasn't worried since this was a training hat and not about the FO.
I knit this almost entirely in Continental. I cast on using the long-tail in an effort to practice that too. Then after getting half way around with major struggling on the first row, I switched to my right hand to get through the first round. I always have issues with that first row, no matter how loosely I try to cast on. This is why I used a needle size up to cast on the sock. That helped tremendously.
Anyhow, I did the rest Continental until the last three rows. There I had to switch to dpns, and I am just learning how to manipulate those, and didn't have the energy to figure that out too. Plus my hands hurt like hell from the cotton, and the fact that I spent the first part with my hands all clenched up trying to get the weird movements to make sense. As you can see in the middle of this pic, I really loosened up. Definately too much. I learned that working this way needs to be thought of as a completely different technique and not at all approached in the same way as the English Method. Once I let go of trying to insert my needle in the loop the same way, or hold the yarn wrapped around my left hand the way I do my right, then it got easier. I was also able to relax my gauge a lot more and found that it is possible to make even stitches without making everything so tight. This will make Deb happy =)
Overall, I'm very pleased with this test project. I really, really enjoyed knitting this way (In fact, last night I cast on another hat (same pattern) in Wool-ease to practice some more. I'm basically making the Grandpa Hat again so that I can learn to purl as well. I'm only a few stitches in, so I'll update you on that later.) It just seems to fit me better. Oddly, I found it easier and more intuitive to being a right-handed person because all of the loop manipulation is really done by maneuvering your right hand. If that makes any sense at all.

And in the world of sock progress, here is a picture:

Warning - stripes may be more obvious in picture than in real life

This is from a couple of days ago, but all you need do is imagine an extra inch and a half, and you'll have it. I hope to finish the calf and get to the heel tonight. Deb has had some very useful, albeit not really English to me yet, advice, and I'm greatly appreciative. These socks will be made on a wing and a prayer, but the next ones might actually have some wisdom and brain power put into them thanks to the fabulous people in blogland!

Tune in tomorrow when I will have gobs of yarn porn from my order that came. Yay!

Monday, January 30, 2006

Exhibitng stashing behavior...

I apologize in advance for the absolute randomness and non flowing nature of this post. Despite what I may claim later about why it's so bad, I was not, in fact, drunk while typing.

This post was supposed to be about my weekend activites involving sock progress, cotton yarn and teaching myself to knit continental. It was supposed to show you the pink hat that I made to teach myself to hold the yarn in the other hand. The hat that I managed to make in six hours. The hat that nearly killed my hands due to cotton yarn from hell. However, this cannot happen today because despite the fact that I took pictures this morning, loaded them on the computer and mailed them to myself, when I got to work there were no pictures in my inbox. Boo.
I also ran a virus scan at that time, but I had the internet explorer window open, which is probably a no no, and I imagine that my computer at home is all pissed off and has an error message up about the situation. I had planned on checking on it when I went back for the sock, a picture of which is also in the unsent email, however I failed to go back for the sock. Therefore I got no email and the sock got no attention. Now the sock is angry too. Currently my office is full of pissed off things. When I get home, I'll have to open the door and send the cat in first as a safety measure. That way if something jumps out, at least it won't be me. Don't look at me like that, she's not my cat, she runs fast, and she could really use the exercise =P
So, onto what I can write about today....more yarn purchased. Pay no mind to the yarn that I have coming in the mail soon, hopefully today, but you didn't hear that from me because if I say that it won't come and I really want it to come today and the random Cascade 220 whose color I liked in the store but then decided that it was wrong for the recipient, and the leftovers from the Christmas knitting and the blanket, and the fingering weight - not suitable for socks - yarn that has no purpose in life, and the.... well you get the picture. Anyhow, I bought more yarn. I mean, I have something in mind for the yarn. I specifically went shopping for the yarn. But the other yarn at home had a purpose when it was purchased too, and now it has none. So what I'm trying to say is, and I'm not really sure how this happened, but I think I have a stash-ette. I'm not proud of this - and yet I'm hording yarn. Shhhh, tell no one, especially not Boyfriend about all the yarn floating around the house. I have him, and myself partially, fooled about how much yarn one can actually amass in five months, on a virtually non existent budget. I'm to the point of purchasing a container for the yarn to hide keep it. Something not clear, so you couldn't see what was contained inside. Something to mask the stashing behavior within. Something that would fit cleverly in the closet in the office where Boyfriend is not allowed to tread because the gifts are stowed there.
If you are wondering why I would want to cleverly conceal my stashing behavior, let me clarify. Firstly, I'm in denial I am not yet ready to admit that I have one, and secondly I make fun of Boyfriend's pack rat-edness constantly, and if he knew that I was stashing something, anything, it could be used against me in a court of law before a jury of our pets. As I am constantly fighting the packy-ness of Boyfriend in order to not have to repeatedly move large boxes of loose change and old receipts, I cannot bear to have anything to be used against me. So, non clear, cleverly concealed boxes it is.

Anyhow, back to the yarn! I have been thinking about what yarn to use for the elephant from LMKG, and I haven't been able to decide. I know that I absolutlely refuse to use two peices of sportweight doubled. I'm sure there is a rhyme and reason to this, but considering you are supposed to use the same yarn doubled, I don't really care what the reason is. I decided to simply buy worsted weight yarn which is what the gauge calls for. So, I looked around at Joann's, Michael's and AC Moore and finally decided to screw the fact the elephants generally come in gray and buy blue and white variegated yarn. It's the Joann's collection and I think it's called Dolcetta. It's a wool/cotton/nylon mix made with one chunky ply. I thought of Lion Brand Jiffy, which supposedly is mohair like, and wool ease, but none of them were soft enough. The Joann's yard was cuddly and I like the random-ness of the colors. I thought about a pink elephant, but the pink they had made me a little queasy, so blue it is.
I also bought a lovely sea foam green skein of wool ease to make another hat. Really it's to practice the continental knitting, and that's the best way for me to do it. It's also a good thing for me to have something small (the sock) and something else big on the needles to keep my hands from cramping up, so I'll probably cast this puppy on tonight and split my time with the sock and it. Just please don't tell the sock, I don't need it to get madder than it already is.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Hard Way

First I would like to thank everyone for their nice comments about my Mom. She is doing well. I spoke to her last night, and she was still pretty shaken. Apparently the car didn't end perpendicular to traffic, she ended facing traffic straight on - in the form of several mack trucks. Pretty scary stuff. I told her to eat chocolate and take a sleeping pill - the perfect remedy for bad memories. =)

So, I ordered yarn for the silk camisole from LMKG. I know I was pretty sure about doing Bad Penny, but I couldn't go through with it for some reason. I literally had the yarn in my cart at WEBS and just couldn't complete the order. I really want a variegated, not completely cotton, yarn that isn't $20 a skein. At the moment, said goal is unattainable, so I'm going with the camisole, which was really the first choice to begin with. In case you're wondering, I went with the Ocean color. It's already on it's way today from Kaliedescope yarns. I'm very excited that it got shipped so quickly, and relieved that I've pretty much settled on a project. Well mostly.....
You know me, I have to have options and so the option is this tank top from knitty.
I like the shape of this top and will likely make it in the future, regardless of when that future is. I would really like to have a shinier, fancier if you will, yarn to work it in, but I think it would make a nice business casual summer top as well. If that's what I decide, so be it. That will all be worked out in the swatching. As it is, I've ordered enough to make either one, so I'm good to go. Decision prcrastinated!

As you may know the tank top is for Stephanie's Olympic suicidal KAL. Seeing as how there are so many teams to join for the KAL, and since I'm not really doing a sweater, I've decided this Image hosting by Photobucket is my real team. I have to my two mediums of choice, those being coffee and diet coke. I'll be stocking up on both before the opening cermonies. More team alternatives involving other vices are here. Hopefully the yarn will be here in time to knit gauge swatches and obtain needles that all match in size. What an interesting concept, no? I never know my gauge, so this should be really interesting.

Onto progress, not that it's that visible....
I had very little time to work on this baby last night. I finished the 15 rounds I thought I was supposed to do at lunch yesterday, and it turned out to be 16. Read the instructions, Jes! C'mon, how hard is this? See, I just see numbers and memorize them. I fail to notice the verbs and adjectives surrounding them. As in, knit this row 15
more times. Doh! Better than having done too many, imo. Too many, is my usual MO, though, sadly. So, I did my one more round and started the calf part of the sock. You can sort of see where that is in the pic, it starts right under the second lavendar stripe - it's hard to tell since they are both ribbed. I measured the cuff to make sure that it was the right size before moving on. It was in fact the right size - this made me nervous. You may think to yourself that I'm doing good and not understand my nerves. Really, who ever complained about being spot on? The reason is that I have gone UP a needle sized to compensate for my foot being a bit on the large size. Getting gauge with a larger needle only further proves my knitting-too-tightedness and makes me wonder if this is going to work out. My only saving grace is the fact that some ribbing continues on the foot and that there may yet be a way to save myself, post heel. Even if there isn't, I intend to continue deluding myself. If this sock doesn't work out, I plan to hang it on the wall so that I can just look at it and touch it. I'm totally enamoured with Lorna's laces and this colorway. I do not, however, recommend this for your first sock. The dark parts are hard to see, but I'm marching forward anyway. As per usual, I insist on doing everything the hard way.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


First thing this morning I get a call from my Mom's boyfriend telling me that she had been in a near fatal accident this morning. On her way to work she hit some black ice on the entrance ramp to I-83. For those of you not familiar with the MD/PA area, that is one big highway, like 95, and it's a major trucking lane. Her car skidded straight ahead instead of following the curve of the exit and she landed perpendicular to the highway in front of a truck. She's okay, but all shook up. I'm a little turned around at the thought that I almost lost my Mom this morning. I don't know what I'd do without her. For virtually all of my teenage years all we had was eachother. Most of her family had died and I was an only child (on that side. I have 4 half siblings from my Dad). It was just her and I in the house alone. Me struggling to grow up and get good grades and meet boys (how you do this in an all girls school is still beyond me), and her trying to be a single mother and raise her child the best she could. When I think about all the things that she went through, raising a child while going to Nursing school and working, then managing to take care of a fiesty teen age daughter and care for her own ailing mother, then sending her only child off to school 800 miles away and having to deal with a truly empty nest, all while keeping her sanity and never compromising her relationship with me or anyone of her friends or family, I'm astonished. She is an amazing, giving, kind, wonderful woman. She is truly fabulous in every sense of the word, a strong role model, and a loving friend.
I couldn't be more grateful for whatever split second that she made up for this morning that caused her miss that accident.

In knitting news, I have cast on (repeatedly) for my sock. Beth asked how I would pick a pattern with so many good ones! I totally agree that if I had a clue about how to knit socks, I'd be at a loss too. However, this being my first sock, I went with easy. That narrowed the field to the ribbed socks that start the book off. There's an explanation and picture with of each kind of heal and toe and I picked the ones that I liked the most. Luckily the Oak Ribbed sock has both the heal and toe that I think will work for me, so I'm going with that one. In the future I plan to try all three ribbed variations to see what I truly love, but you got to start somewhere. So this picture is the beginning of the sock. I worked on it durning lunch and got to the required 15 rounds for the cuff. I haven't measured it yet, but it looks about right. The pattern calls for size 1s, but I decided to go up a needle size since the measurements were for a size 8-9 shoe and I wear a 9. I just don't want a tight sock. Plus, while my length measurements were the same as the pattern, the ball of my foot is almost a full inch wider around. I was hoping it would be the other way around since it's fairly easy to just do a few more rows to make the sock longer. I don't know how it works on the foot after the heel, if there's any convenient way to add stitches down at that part or if it's frog central if you get there and it's too tight. We'll see. Right now I have no major rush for any of it. I'm enjoying the process. Hear that Marjene?? Despite my general finish or perish sense about me, after rushing through all that Christmas knitting and getting geared up to knit to Olympic proportions, I'm taking the tortoise route on this. I know the chances of the sock working out the first time are slim, so I'm not getting my hopes up. That makes it a lot easier to frog at the end of the day (or toe as the case may be).

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

FO: My first hat

Yarn: Less than 1 skein of Cascade 220. It looked steel gray to me in the store, but it's really a very gray blue.
Needles: Crystal Palace US 6 bamboo 16" circs.
Gauge: Oooo, I know this one for once. 5.5 sts per inch.
Pattern: Kim's Hat from Last Minute Knitted Gifts
Measurements: It fit my 21 inch head, but was a little big and it fit Boyfriend's 22 inch head with room to spare
Notes: This pattern was awesome. I just added 8 stitches to the biggest size to compensate and didn't bother doing an extra decrease, and it worked out just fine. I didn't count how many stitches I ended up pulling tight, but as you can see from the pic below, it didn't leave any extra gap to worry about. I like this pattern so much that I'll be doing it again. I had to pry the hat out of Boyfriend's hands and promise to make him one so that I could get it back.

Having finished the hat I had cleared out all the WIPs, which is great, but meant I had some preparation to do before I could knit again. So last night I set out to ball up my Lorna's Laces and see if I could get the long tail cast on figured out and done for one of the socks. So, I pulled out the hank and untwisted it, grateful that it was big enough to go over my chair that stands in for a swift. Ofcourse after I put it over the chair I realized that I didn't have an end to put into the ball winder. Hrm, there's no end, they must have tied it together, but ther were two knots. I cut one of them, but I guess it was the wrong one and ended up having to take the partially wound ball off the winder at least 10 times to clear up the knots. I eventually took the damn winder off the table and worked out all the loops. After about an hours work I got it into a ball, but then had no time to knit. Oh well. Here's my plan for tonight =)

And Jordan wants to know why Mommy has to go to work so early. She'd rather stay in bed...

Monday, January 23, 2006

Apologies in Advance

My apologies in advance for this having, mostly, nothing to do with knitting...

That's the sign they should have stuck out in front of the mall for me today.

You know, you have a bad day. You get to work late. Your hair is a mess, despite having washed it that morning. Your clothes don't fit right - your pants seem to short, your shirt too long. It's raining. You're wearing your rain coat that isn't exactly slimming. You're just not together.

So on your lunchbreak you head for some retail therapy. You've got giftcards burning a hole in your pocket, and for once, you remembered to stick them in your purse. A miracle. Until you get to the mall and the store for which you have these gift cards is all locked up, the overhead gate and all, with a sign out front that they have a temporary location and, by the way, it's not open today. Damn!
So you go other places, for other things you need, but can't seem to find. A pair of jeans that wouldn't require you to sell an organ to pay for, or a pair of business pants that doesn't need to be ironed thirty seconds after you put them on. Or, something easier, a purse. Just a purse that goes over your head that doesn't measure it's capacity in gallons. Something, simple. Black, canvas, not too fussy. Ofcourse, if you're having my day, all you can find is gold lame (as in la-may, but it is pretty lame too). Or worse cute bags but covered in enough metal to send the metal detector off a half mile before you get near it and a "G" emblem so large that even the cheesiest of Texas cowboys would turn it down as too gaudy for a belt buckle.
A simple black or brown or any non metalic, over the shoulder purse was all I was asking, but apparently that's not cool these days. I missed the part where Maryland turned into South Beach on a party night. Why do long straps mean the bag has to be big enough to tote the kitchen sink along with you?
I guess I've just had my head in the sand too long, but why is it that I can go into Banana Republic and buy a pair of suit pants for way less than a pair of jeans? Why are there 13 year olds running around in jeans and a tee with a sequined bag? Do people now take canvas and leather out on the town and leave their sequins for every day occaisions, or are we skipping fabrics altogether? When did gold lame go from gauche to glam? And who do I have to see about getting that fixed??


Okay, sorry for the rant, but I'm having one of those days. I fear it will turn into one of those weeks. I'm sorry to say that either the blog will see the action, or there will be no posts. Either way, fasten your seat belts we're in for a bumpy ride.

But, I digress - onto the knitting. I have no picture for you today because I finished very late last night. What did I finish you ask? Why it was a hat! Are you stunned? You should be, because it doesn't suck. Plus I did it in little over a day. I'm pretty happy with that. I spent all day Saturday in bed. All I managed to knit was the ribbing at the bottom and a couple of rows of stockinette. It went like this: Knit half a row, get dizzy, go to sleep, wake up an hour later, knit four stitches, realize I'm not better, fall back asleep. Not good, but I made up for it on Sunday by knitting like a fiend. Results in tomorrow's not so angry post

Friday, January 20, 2006

FO: The hat that never happened

I would like to introduce you to the Hat that Never Happened - it shall be herein referred to as the HTNH. It may look innocent enough at first, but upon further examination you will see that looks can be deceiving. It would like you to think that it might fit a human, any human, but I dare say that it would be loose on Andre the Giant - if he were still with us.
This hat is huge, nay gargantuan, and beyond that it is riddled with unfixable errors. When one commits to a stitch pattern involving "knit into the stitch bellow", one really commits. You are saying that you hereby agree that once you have done the stitch that you are willing to move on with your life, regardless of whether you were supposed to or not. You are taking this silent oath:

"I, the knitter, shall accept that this stitch cannot be undone without a serious committment to frogging or quality time with a crochet hook. I will be dilligent and pay attention to the knitting, regardless of how good "Lost" is, and will not accidentally do the stitch two stitches in a row or split the plies of the stitch below. I recognize the seriousness of this committment and understand that if it does not turn out correctly that I am wholly to blame."

I perhaps should have considered this oath before I entered into this stitch pattern. I should have done some reasearch, I should have swatched! I know that I have done wrong and that when the pattern went awry, I should have fixed it, but I didn't.
I also should have done my math with a calculator. I should have consulted patterns that state that a reasonable amount of stitches for a normal male head is around 88 stitches. I should considered that perhaps 128 stitches of worsted weight yarn, may have been a little excessive. I should have used my noodle, but I didn't.
It is not the hats fault that it is made so wrong. In fact, I apologize to hat for trying to make it something it's not. I admit that I did intentionally wash this hat made of 100% feltable wool, in hot water and did maliciously, with intent to shrink, toss it with wreckless abandon into the dryer on high. Unforunately my efforts were fruitless. The hat got no smaller. All that torture for naught.

And so, having maybe definately learned my lesson, I will someday soon cast on for another hat, worked from the botton up. I plan to use 2x2 ribbing, which I can actually read, instead of a non-reparable pattern that doesn't speak to me. I will only cast on 88-92 stitches, and I will knit according to the pattern, and not on a whim. I will never show this hat to my Grandfather. The HTNH shall only be refferred to as that, as it does not resemble anything that Susan needs to know about. The pattern is lovely, the knitter is to blame.

So please, go on with your days, speak of this to no one. If you must refer to this hat, please use the accronym, this will ease the pain of stupidity that I feel.

Move along, nothing to see here.....

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Yay for Yarn!

Here is the fabulous package that I got yesterday from Kaleidescope Yarns. I ordered this sometime last week and have been waiting for it. Especially since this past Saturday I got my shipment from Amazon that included Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush. I'm going to try one of the simpler patterns out of there for my first sock. I plan to use the Lorna's Laces for this because it has plenty of yardage per skein and I won't have to worry about running out with a top down pattern on my big ol' feeties. Most of the patterns in this book are for sizes 8-9 and my feet are a 9, but I just don't like tight socks. I figure by adding a couple of rows on the foot part, and maybe going up a needle size or adding a couple stiches around should make the whole thing work out. Since I have no concept of how long I can make them without worrying about yardage, I figured I should use the Lorna's ample yardage to figure this out. Also, I picked out this color of the Koigu specifically for the Elfine Socks. I just liked that colorway for such a "woodsy" sock. These are magic loop toe up, so I can make them until I run out of yarn, which makes me happy. That way I don't waste any of this yummy yarn.
As soon as I figure out what's going on with the darn Grandpa hat, I will cast on for some socks. I can't wait. It might happen sooner than figuring out the hat, since I so brilliantly planned for a hat where you could roll up the brim and then did it in a non reversable stitch. Yeah, I'm real proud of that choice. I've got a little thinking about how to get myself out of this one without frogging back forever or going forward and making it look totally stupid. At this point, I'd rather bind this puppy off, give it away, and start a new one, rather than trying to fix the one I made. Sad but true.
Anyhow, that's all from me today. I have made some decisions about yesterdays post. I'm fairly certain I'll be waiting for the Knit Picks to get the color for the tank top, get the Longmeadow yarn for the Bad Penny, and using the Elann Alpaca for the Hourglass, but I haven't ordered anything yet. My decisions are never official until the shipment leaves the store. =)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Decisions, decisions....

This is going to be a very link heavy post....get ready.

As usual, I'm having a hard time making up my mind when it comes to yarn. No big shock, here. I've got three projects lining up in the queue and I'm trying to get yarn in for them. I'm going to break them down with some links to possible yarn, and any input on the yarn, or the pattern, or whatever, would totally be appreciated.

1. Silk Camisole from Last Minute Knitted Gifts

The specs: The yarn calls for is Fiesta Yarns La Luz, which is lovely, but very expensive and dry clean only. These are two things that just don't work for me. I don't to go and knit something that I won't wear because I don't want to clean it. That, and if you get silk wet, not even in washing it, it gets dull spots. I'm just too messy for that.

Yardage: 840 yards
Gauge: 24sts x 26 rows = 4" on US 7. 6 sts per inch. Basically sportweight.
Yarns I'm looking into:
Knitpicks Shine - My issue here is that the only color I really like for this knit is not going to be in until the end of Feb. Boo, I say, boo.
Dale of Norway Svale - I like Dale yarns. I felt some Baby Ull this weekend and it is superb. I already have Stork, which I bitched and moaned about. I take that all back. This looks like a good deal, but I was hoping for a dark blue. The lavender is nice, though.
Plymouth DK Wildflower - Great palette(I like the Ocean color), great price, seems all good. Just not sure how I feel about the acrylic. I have a tendency to be allergic to acrylic. Having said that, I'm mostly allergic to it around my neck. This tank top is no where around your neck.
Reynolds Saucy Sport - Love the Pine color, but I'm worried about mercerized cotton. Talk about no stretch. Hard on the fingers and I'm worried about it being form fitting enough.

2. Bad Penny from Knitty

This is sort of my alternative to the silk camisole as a first garment. Basically, if I can't come up with a yarn that I'm sure about, I'll do this pattern in the mean time, and do the camisole while I await the River color to come into Knit Picks. (As I side note, I know that I'm doing my garments ass backwards based on the seasons of the mid-atlantic, however, they are going well with my learning of knitting. I'm trying to not put the cart before the horse like I usually do).
Anyhow, I've heard some good things about this pattern, and it looks like something that would fit me well. The thing is that if it's going to be short sleeved, it can't have any wool in it, or I can't wear it. Also, I worry about it being out of Alpaca, because that would be too warm, and all cotton would make for shaping issues, just like the tank top. Are we seeing a problem here?

Yardage: 721 yards - 437 of the MC and 284 of the CC
Gauge: 20 sts for 32 rows = 4" 5 sts an inch. US 7 needles. Worsted Weight
Cascade Pima Melange - Pretty colors, but none of them are varigated. I like the two color thing that Stefanie does, but I'd be happy to have two different solid colors instead. I am worried about the 100% cotton thing.
Cascade Pima Tencel - A good option, but no variegation.
Feza Cekor - This is a bit of a long shot, but it looks like it would be interesting to try. It meets a bunch of the criteria, but it's a little out there.
Needful Yarns Kim - Looks like a good option, especially because there's also Kelly, and they go together. I basically get my cake and eat it too. I'm only slightly worried about the acrylic, but this is shaping up to be a good option.
Reynolds Saucy - Nice colors, but no variegation. 100% cotton.
Valley Yarns Longmeadow - This looks a nice option, just no varigation.

3. Hourglass Sweater from Last Minute Knitted Gifts (don't make me link it again)

There is a whole KAL devoted to this, so you would think I wouldn't have a problem figuring this out by myself, but I do. As usual

Yardage: 1100 yards. Ofcourse that's what the pattern says. However, Purlsoho has a note stating that many people have run out of yarn based on the pattern specs. This leads me to believe that I should order more like 1300 yards or so.
I'm also hoping for a slightly varigated yarn, more like the kettle dyed look, really. I just want something to add a little interest to the look.
Gauge: 19 sts x 28 rows = 4" 4.75 sts an inch. US 7 needles. Worsted weight.
Brown Sheep Worsted - Lots of colors, big hanks, good price. There's even a little bit of variegation in there. I'm just a little worried about the fussiness of the mohair. Not much, just a little.
Cascade 220 - I have an affinity for this yarn. I am worried though, because it has an icky tendency to grow once it's blocked. I'm not sure I want to deal with that, but you can't beat the color selection. It is a little scratchier wool than I was hoping for.
Classic Elite Four Seasons Cotton - A good option, but I'd have to buy 15 or more balls, which gets pricey. The yardage is a little stingy. Not sure how I feel about this much cotton.
Dale Freestyle - It's Dale, it's cheap, it's got a good color range. Just no variegation.
Elisabeth Lavold Cable Cotton - 100% cotton, but it's heavier. I've seen this in person and it is nice, but there's no variegation, and it's stingy yardage. Just no cling-ness about it, though.
Plymouth Encore - Like the colors, but I'm not sure how I feel about that much acrylic.
Plymouth Suri Merino - This looks like a pretty good deal. I like the colors. I'm also fond of Alpaca/Merino blends.
Dale Sisik - It's Dale, it's tweedy, it's an otpion. I'm pretty sure I like that first color, I just fear that's a little yellowish. I do not look good in yellowish browns.
Elann Peruvian Collection Pure Alpaca - This looks like a good option. I like the Heathery brown, it's alpaca, which I love, and it doesn't look too delicate. I'd need a truckload of balls, but at least it's a great price.

Okay, that's it. I'm sorry for so many options, but I'm just one of those people that has to explore everything that once. If you've used any of these yarns or doen any of these patterns and have anything good or bad to say, I'd LOVE to hear about it. In the meantime I have a lot of deliberating to do. However, I'd better hurry. My plan is to do the cami or Bad Penny for Stephanie's KAL which is coming up really fast. I have to order soon for at least one of those options. Eek!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Clearly, I'm out of my mind...

Let me demonstrate:

Exhibit A: I signed up for this.

Sure, it's my first KAL, and I'm planning on doing my first garment. I'm pretty sure that's enough to send me to the nut house as it is, but just for good measure, read what I did yesterday.

Exhibit B:
On Saturday night I was working on my Grandfather's hat and it occurred to me that it might be getting a little big. The plan was for it to be 22" at the crown and then be a nice stretchy fabric. I had it figured and I come to needing 42 sts on each needle. Sound a bit much to you? It should. It would have made a 32" hat. Good math skills, huh? Ofcourse, I didn't bother to check my math until I was up to 40 sts. a needle and realized that there's no way that I should exhaust the length of 4 7 1/2" long needles and have the hat be the right size. I do my math again, this time with a calculator instead of scratching numbers into the couch armrest, cuz that's, well, the smart-and-not-lazy-dumbass way to do it. Not that I would be that foolish. *ahem* Sooo, after typing in my gauge and all that, over and over, because clearly I was right on the couch and the computer MUST be wrong, I realized that I might be fault. Knowing there was no freaking way to tink back, I just riiiiipped back to 32 sts and proceeded to put it on my circular needle. Ofcourse, silly me thought that you could put a 22" hat on 24" needles and not have issues. Wrong again. So after working the specified 3 rounds before pattern, I gave up and decided to go to a LYS on Sunday. Two were open from 12-5 so I figured one of them would have it. Now, it would have been too bright of me to call first and see if they had the needles, but I had never been to Stitch DC before, so it was a good excuse to go. Plus it was close to our house. Sure bet, right? I can put it off and do stuff around the house instead of going early and getting what I needed, right? Or not. Ofcourse they had had an end run on needles like you wouldn't believe, AND the shipment that should have been there Friday wasn't getting there until Tuesday. Did I mention it was 4pm already? And that the other store was on the opposite side of DC? Did I also mention that I figured I could make it? *Sigh*

So, while I would have like to stayed and looked around more, I bolted instead. It was a lovely store, but packed full of knitters. People were in every room, even sitting on the floor. I wouldn't have been able to really see anything, anyway. So I leap into my car, fly onto the highway and floor it to the other side of DC. It should only take a half hour, right? Or not. I get to the location who's parking lot consists of 8 spaces that they share with Starbucks, no less. Needless to say that I've never even seen a space open there. Oh, and there's a big mall right up the street that has pretty much no parking. Do you see the problem? But I figure I can get a space. Did I mention it's 4:45 already? So I circle the block trying to figure out what to do. I'm one car late for no less than 2 parking spaces and start freaking out. I'm thinking of double parking, or illegal parking, or, can I get my car to circle the block for me? No auto pilot - foiled again. Then I see a spot "for customers only" for a tiny beer/wine shoppe that's on the other side of the building and I pull in. Hoping that no one sees me in the store and gets angry that I don't become a customer, I scurry through the drive thru atm lane of the bank to get to the other side of the building, dash up the stairs, and into the shop. Thankfully they didn't close 10 minutes early or I would have been out of luck. I grab the needles I need, lament that they are more than I thought they would be, purchase, shove them in my purse, dash out the door, and hop in my car hoping no one at the shouldn't-even-be-allowed-to-be-open-on-a-sunday-liquor-store sees me. Merrily I get the hell out of DC and go home. I am slightly annoyed about driving all over trying to get a set of needles, but relieved at actually attaining them against the odds. After I get home and take care of the pup I pull the damn Holy Grail of needles out of my purse and think 4.25mm, is that right? I thought it was 4mm....hmmm.
Well, I guess it depends on who you talk to. If you talk to Addi or Brittany, they will tell you that it's 4mm, if you talk to Crystal, she will tell you a US 6 is 4.25mm. On a side note: why do the needle companies sound like strippers? Is this some sublimal message thing? Anyhow, at that point I just gave up. There will be nothing even about the gauge on this hat. The top is knit on 4 dpns at 4mm, three rows are knit on Addi circs at 4mm, and now the rest will be knit on 4.25 circs. I'm thinking this project might be doomed, but I'm going to continue forward and pretend like everything is okay, and when it's not, I plan to actually find out my Grandfather's hat size and knit something correctly for him.

I'm pretty sure eithe rone of these is enough to put me in the nut house. We won't talk about the implications of what they mean together.

Friday, January 13, 2006


Okay, how sad is it that I just noticed that it's Friday the 13th. I'm really out of it lately. I'm not especially superstitious, so it's like it matters. This does prove a certain obliviousness that I am not fond of, but does comes in handy sometimes. But I regress, er...digress?? Anyhow, let's move on.

This is a picture of my progress so far on the hat. I think this is pretty good, especially once you consider that I had been using 3 dpns, and decided that for my Grandfather's larger than usual melon, I would need to increase way faster. Also, while the slightly, pointy, my hat it has three corners look is cute on a kid or a woman, it's not cutting it for the 70-something retired surgeon. So, I ripped out the progress (I had gotten up to 42 stitches or so), and cast on again. I'm going to doing this cast on in my sleep pretty soon. (Speaking of this cast on, I was wondering if this was roughly the way one does the crochet-provisional cast on? Only with a different yarn, instead of around the working yarn. If it isn't, I think I might be on to something...) Then I spent the rest of the night working round and round, making stitches left and right. This is one dpn short of an increase. I find that to be a good stopping place. That way I know exactly which dpn to start with, which direction I'm going, and what I should do next. This is good since I'm not quite able to figure out to read the knitting yet. I just know that those cute lines that make the x are there because of the increases. So far I think it looks pretty good and that I have miles left to go. I'm thinking that this hat needs to measure at least 23 inches and be in a very stretchy stitch that is yet to be determined. I'm also thinking that I'm not going to have much of a choice but to switch to a circular needle. I'm hoping to be able to finish the increases before I have to switch, so as to not confuse myself (Is that increase before or after the marker? Am I on a plain row on an increse row? Where the hell did I leave my brain?) I'm just sayin'.
So, considering this is my last Christmas gift to finish (blush), I've been thinking alot about my next projects. The only thing I've ever knit for myself (you know, cuz I've been knitting soooo long, pffft) was that ugly garter stitch scarf I made. You, know the one that will only see the light of day from the window that it is near? Yeah, that one. So, in light of this fact, and the loads and loads of things I need to learn, I've developed a bit of a plan. I want to start with some smaller projects like socks which is why I've ordered Knitting Vintage Socks. I plan to do my first sock from there. I am also interested in the 2 socks on 2 circs method and the magic loop, so I'm thinking about doing these afterwards. In that same dpn and 2 circ vein I'm thinking of doing the little elephant doll from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. My mom has collected Elephants for most of her life, and this guy is just so adorable. I thought it would make a nice easter or mother's day present. I'm investigating the whole thing now. I also think with some cunning and pattern manipulation that I could make an Eyore doll - with a removable tail and all. My aunt loves Eyore, and I think that making that would be lots of fun.
Also in the queue are the camisole and the hourglass sweater from LMKG book. I'm looking into this yarn for the cami and this one for the hourglass. I was looking into shine as an option for the cami, but I'm just not fond of too many of the colors. It's what I made the baby blanket out of, and I'm kind of sick of it right now. I want to branch out a bit. I have already bought the baby cashmere yarn from elann, and while it didn't end up being knit as I had planned, it's still a wonderful yarn and is sitting in my stash-ette. Plus, you can't beat those prices =) Especially considering that my hands really want to make the hourglass out of Rowan calmer or cashsoft, or other fabulous yarn by them, but seeing as how my wallet doesn't have a death wish, I'm improvising.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

I fought the tree, and the tree won

Here is a shameful picture of my doggie, taken this summer. I have no knitting to show you, so I've decided to sway you to read this entry with her puppy cuteness. Is it working?

I mean this title in more ways than one.

First: The Christmas tree
I did manage to take down all the ornaments on the dreaded tree of dooooom, and the lights (thank you very much), but there it still stands in our living room - mocking me. It laughs a little on the inside when I walk around in my slippers and grimace because I have unwittingly found ANOTHER pine needle wedged into their fake sherpa interior. It giggles at knowing that I am unable to take the damn thing outside by myself (and survive to talk about it). And when we're not home, I'm sure it cackles inanelybecause it knows that it has Boyfriend in it's hypnotic trance and that unless I beg, borrow, and steal, I'm never going to be able to get him to move the damn thing. But, tonight, come hell or highwater (or perhaps both), I'm getting that forsaken deadwood out of my house. It's personal now.

Second: The knitting
I came to work this morning, fully prepared to whine and cry about last night's endeavors, but things looked up after lunch. I had prepared myself to tell the world about the cursing and yelling, and the shameful way I conducted myself last night, but I have decided to glaze over those facts, instead.

Yesterday I went to the LYS and got me some Brittany Birch needles (which are about as sticky as I can handle) so that I might sit down and make the hat from Susan's cool pattern. This was, perhaps, my first mistake. Not because the pattern isn't fabulous, but because it breaks my rule of learning more than one new thing at a time. While I know how to increase by knitting into the front and back of the loop, I have never "made one" (that sounds so naughty, I love it! Now get your mind out of the gutter. This is not that kind of blog). I have also never knit on a dpn before, which means I have never cast on a dpn before. Simple enough, but Susan has you do Emily Ocker's cast on, which is wicked cool (once you figure it out), but also new - fabulous tutorial here. So having said that, and knowing who won last nights battle, you could surmise that I spent a lot of time practicing this cast on, over and over and over and, well, you get the point. I don't even want to discuss how many times I tried. Let's just say it's not pretty and it's not in single digits.
So, by the end of two hours of attempts, I was left with some empty dpns and some very angry Cascade 220.
The worst part is that I got the hang of it right off the bat, and then decided that I wasn't doing something right, and I ripped it out. It doesn't help that I had the running commentary brought straight to my living room by Boyfriend for the better part of that knitting. I remember something along the lines of knitting with a hedgehog, and something about taking my eye out. Also, when I attempted to do 5 needles instead of 4, the commentary only worsened. He nearly got his eye poked out by an angry dpn, but was saved by the fact that they were all busy at that exact moment. The knitting was far more important then exacting my revenge. That could wait.
But alas, instead of trusting myself, I ended up ripping back over and over again and trying to do it "right". Yeah, like I know what right is. Instead I just kept getting lost. I'm not sure how you get lost when you only have six stitches, but I managed to get turned around more than a lazy susan. It was frustrating, and pathetic. Finally, when I got too tired to take it anymore I went to bed and dreamt of sanding the needles into oblivion and sprikling their ashes across the back lawn. Those were good dreams.
But then, today, things seemed to make a little more sense. I spent the better part of the morning watching tiny videos on my computer, and reading every tip I could find about how to keep your porcupine in order. Then I went to my car on my lunch break, and sat with the windows open -can you believe that it's 60 degress + in the nations capital today??. I believe that the weather helped somehow, because I got it. As long as I don't think about it too hard, I can do it. I'm up to 12 stitches on 2 needles and 10 on the other. This way I could stop and get started again fairly easily (I hope). Thank goodness, because I don't think I could take another night of having my needles fall out and roll all over the floor again.
So, hopefully, I will be able to show some progress tomorrow. I don't plan on getting my hopes up too high, because I can't say how long it's going to take me to wrestle the evil genius in the tree stand outside. With any luck I should come out the winner of this epic battle - if not, I know where to get a good chain saw, and I'm not afraid to use it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

FO Report: Irish Hiking Scarf

Yarn: 2 Skeins of Cascade 220 in The Heathers: Lavendar
Needles: Crystal Palace bamboo US8(R.I.P) and Brittany Birch US8
Gauge: Now, why would I know that?
Pattern: Irish Hiking Scarf from Hello Yarn
Measurements: 5" by 60"ish. Pretty much the same after blocking.
Notes: This was a great pattern! Very easy, very lovely. This was my first time doing cables, and I used Grumperina's tutorial for Cabling without the extra needle. I'm sure it went much quicker because of this. I highly recommend this pattern as a first cabling project, either with or without a needle.
I was also very pleased to see that after it's (rather short) soak in Euclan that the extra long stitch that I always got (and hope is normal) on the last stitch of the cable, sort of tightened up and looked far less retarded. The whole thing looks much better after water, than before.
Here are some other bad pictures:

Far more interesting post to follow probably later today

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The tree of shame

I can't believe I'm saying this, but it's true. The tree is still standing in our house. It is so shameful. I really had planned to take it down this past weekend, but it didn't happen due to the Migraine from hell. Then I was going to take it down Monday, but boyfriend got delayed at work and I had a puppy to take care of, and before I knew it I was late making dinner and then it was time for bed. I'm starting to think that the tree is an evil genius. I think it's planning our demise so that it might take us out and take over the house. It's never left it's spot in the corner and yet I find pine needles all over the house, like it's slowly infultraiting. I think it might be bitter that we have hardwood floors or something. It's bitter about it's kindred trees and it's aiming to take us over and use us as flooring. It has managed to stay in our house far longer than I find acceptable, past the point of irritation and onto where I don't even notice it anymore. It's trying to convince me that it doesn't actually exist at all. It's almost working, but I'm going to fight back. I will not be sucked into it's piney trap. It's too late for boyfriend, though. It has him convinced that we shouldn't take it down at all. He is clearly posessed by the mystery of the evergreen. He's woefully tranced into thinking that the tree should merely have it's ornamnets removed and should remain in the house while we cut it up to use as kindling. Raise your stix if you think this is EVER going to happen.....


Yeah, that's what I thought. I don't see anyone reaching for their knitting.
We have been in our house a little over a year and in that time only had one attempt at a fire. One attempt, and one failure. I'll let you do the math on your own. Have a friend help you if you can't work it out.
So, tonight, in an effort to free boyfriend of his flora induced delusion, I'm setting out to get the tree out of the house, and life back in order.
As for the knitting I'm hoping to get the Irish Hiking scarf off the needles and into a bath tonight. That means Jes-2 Scarfs-1. It ocurred to me last night that I'd never seen a scarf on my grandfather and that it would be silly to spend tons of time making something he wouldn't wear. So instead, I'm thinking about doing this hat from I'm Knitting as Fast as I Can. I've never made a hat before, so I'm a little nervous, but I think I can do it. The only thing is that my Grandpa has a gigantic melon, like special order hats big, which is why I chose this pattern. This way I can keep increasing and increasing until it's big enough and not have to worry about making a pattern larger. That's a step I'm just not ready for. So, hopefully, tomorow I will be on my way to the LYS to get some big dpns and do my first project in the round! Wish me luck.

If tomorrow you don't see an FO report for the Irish Hiking scarf, you will know that the tree has taken over complete control of our house. Please send help - Lumberjacks preferred, strong people with pointy axes accepted.

Monday, January 09, 2006

FO Report: Midwest Moonlight

Well, here she is. Sort of an odd photo, I know, but with the lack of natural light, and the darkness of the yarn, I had to resort to the brightest place in the house, which is the bathroom door. Who knew?

Yarn: 1 and a half skeins (roughly) of Cascade 220. No clue what the color number was, but it's a dark greeny, blue.
Needles: Crystal Palace bamboo US7
Gauge: The standard answer of, I don't know. If it helps the scarf is 33 stitches over 7" wide.
Pattern: Midwest Moonlight from Scarf Style
Measurements: 7" x 53" before blocking. 7" by 72"(!) after.
Notes: As you've seen the pattern was way too wide for my tastes with three repeats, so I cut it back to 2, which made me much happier. I did the stated 25 pattern repeats, instead of an extra one, because I could tell it was going to be long enough after blocking. I think if I did this again, I would do fewer repeats - say 21ish - because you can block the hell out of it. This scarf tried to ben a honking 84" long, but we had a conversation and I had the pins, so I talked it down to 73" - still a little long imo, but better than before. This was a fun pattern and easy to memorize. My only complaint is that it produced an odly coarse fabric, even after soaking for a half hour in Euclan. It's not stiff, but it's a little rough. I would say it's the yarn, but I'm making my Irish Hiking scarf out of the same stuff and it seems far softer. Other than that it's great.

Here's a couple more shots of it blocking and a pathetic attempt at a natural light shot:

Thursday, January 05, 2006

FO: Intarsia Baby Blanket

Yarn: Shine: 3 full skeins of cream, 1 of light blue, 1 of purple, 1 of dark pink, 1 of light pink, 1 of dark green, and 1 of light green.
Needles: Addi Turbos Circulars US 6 24"
Gauge: Again, no clue. I just know that it was tighter than what shine is supposed to be on 3-5s.
Pattern: From the book Instant Expert: Knitting
Notes: This project was HUGE. I can't believe how long it took me. But, it did turn out great, and Heather seems happy with it, which is the most important. I did suffer a bit getting through the seed stitch parts. I had to rip a little to fix the mistakes. Especially frustrating because if you mess up one row then three rows turn into ribbing. I tried a couple of times to ladder the stitches and fix them, but it ends up looking really ugly. I'm sure it would be much easier and quicker if I was a picker, and I'm going to work on that as soon as I get some other things finished.
Anyhow, I did find that I had some issues with the Shine while I was wrapping the yarn. It seemed that no matter what I did the stitches got really huge in that one column. It looked a little better after washing, but it still bugged me. It could explain why I knit this so tight. Once I got started, I couldn't stop.
Also, I was scared for my life to wash this with so many saturated colors and then the cream, but I washed it with woolite on delicate and cold and dried it on low heat and it came out beautifully. There wasn't a drop of color bleed and it barely even got fuzzy and there were no pills. For that I'm ecstatic.

Mystery Project Solved

So there it is! This is what I've been working on for about forever, I'd say. It took from sometime in October until a few days ago to complete. I'm guessing that it was about 66 hours. It took me about 15 minutes a row to do, which at 140 stitches across, is pretty reasonable. Maybe not for straight stockinette, but when you consider that I had to do 5 yarn crosses for the intarsia, doesn't seem so bad. So 36,960 stitches later and you get one, fairly large baby blanket.

So, here are all the steps that you missed because I had to hide it from someone. Here is the yarn when it came in, with the size 6 addis. Based on the pattern, which sadly only gave weights for yarns, and not mileage, I way over ordered. That and the fact that I didn't like how dark all the colors were initially. After I looked at the pattern again, I ordered more yarn of the lighter colors of Shine to counter the darkness of the green, pink, and purple.Here is the beginning of the color work. The first 29 rows were seed stitch (which takes this thrower, forever!) and stockinette and you're off to intarsia-land for what seems like an eternity.

Then after awhile, you end up with a whole bunch of tangles skeins as you switch from one color to another. You could, in theory, have 8 skeins attached at once in this process. I chose to do this on our bed so I could have enough space to keep it straight. Here is a close up of what the skein wrapping looks like on the back side:

And here is the front
And here is the finished picture of the back:
I thought this picture was fuzzy at first, but if you click on it, you can see it's because of the yarn wraps between the squares (and it's a little fuzzy) that makes it look that way. Also here is a close up of the finished back.
So, right after this post (because I have pissed off blogger with too many photos in this post) I will put the official FO report.

Sorry that it's been so long since I posted, but I was sick yesterday and it took me forever on Tuesday and today to catch up on everyone's blog, and I'm still not done! Ack!