Sunday, November 23, 2014

Mildly obsessed

Soooooo.

I've nearly finished a pullover for me. I'm on the second sleeve, there are a few more inches left, and then I need to use whatever yarn is left to finish off the bottom hem, and then I need to sift through my leftovers to see if I can find something I like to do the edging on the neck because I'm pretty sure I'll run out of yarn. Maybe if I find something with sufficient yardage I can use it to do the edging on the bottom hem too, because this is gonna be another squeaker.

I've finished one of the pair of socks for my sister, and cast on for the second - I cast on as I waited in the returns section of Ikea today. I didn't wait very long, though, so I only managed to get the cast on and three rounds done before my number was called.

I've also cast on a pullover for my sister - working the bottom ribbing.

Plenty on the knitting docket.

So why can't I get this shawl pattern - Morrígan - off my mind? I haven't knit a shawl in a really long time because I sort of lost my shawl wearing mojo a while back - I have a few shawlettes that I suddenly couldn't wrap around my neck without seeing them as giant bibs, and that sort of neutralized my desire to make more. Maybe the period of abstinence has done the trick.

Either way, I'm envisioning Morrígan worked up in a slightly heavier yarn - sport weight - with a smaller discrepancy between needle size and yarn weight to yield a slightly more substantial piece. Honestly, when the idea struck I imagined cranking it out in time to wear to this year's office Christmas party, but that's in 6 days' time, and I'm not that delusional.

Still. It's taking a lot of willpower to not start winding the yarn.

And there's good reason for me to hold off on winding, because we're looking to move to our new-to-us, newly renovated house within the next month. That means a whole lot of packing is in my very near future. Which means unleashing more yarn is probably a bad idea.

Maybe I'll be able to hold off till after the move. Maybe I'll be able to dangle the promise of the new project as a reward for all the hard work that's going to come with moving. (Because really, moving sucks hard.)

I know. I'm not holding my breath either.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

K'done: Shandon Cowl

I'm still knitting! Just, you know, not as much as I'd like.



Pattern: Shandon, by Beata Jezek
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Tonal in Blue Yonder
Needles: 5.5 mm / US 9

I wanted to crank out a relatively quick but satisfying project, and was flailing about trying to pick one for myself, so my sister got one instead. She is not complaining.

Textured cowls with just knits and purls are apparently wildly satisfying - at least, for me. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of knitting this, and I may knit a smaller, not-blue version for myself - I prefer wearing cowls as a simple loop about my neck, where they perform as accessories through which I attempt to snazzy up my simple tops for work appropriate attire. My sister, however, wears cowls as snuggly warmth-providing accessories, so when she saw the sample picture with the model (the designer, I think?) cozily bundled up with this piece, she was sold.

I knit it as written in terms of number of stitches used, but I sort of stopped looking at the pattern once I got the chart in my head, so I'm not sure how deep I was supposed to go - I went until I had pretty much gone through a second skein of yarn, and then stopped at a logical place in the pattern. It ended up being 4 repeats of the chart, with an additional batch of the first 4 rounds. The result, laid flat, looks like this:



Well, that's what it looks like in the rather yellowy light we have here - the sun is now setting by 4:30 PM, which means I have no window of opportunity for photographing knits in natural light after I get home from work. So please forgive the colour quality, but check out that texture! That there is an unblocked piece - sister likes it unblocked since it scrunches back on itself so strongly, so it hugs her neck nicely when wrapped twice. Since the yarn is superwash (and dryer tolerant), I figure the way to retain that fresh-off-the-needles scrunchiness is to toss the piece in the dryer on a low setting after washing. We'll see how it goes.

Tech specs: Chinese Waitress CO, double chain BO. I really like this pairing.

She likes the finished piece so much, she wore it to work today - I handed it over last night! She happily reported receiving many compliments on it from coworkers too. Life is good.

Monday, October 6, 2014

K'done: Nanook Cardigan

It is ridiculously tricky to take a picture of oneself wearing a sweater in order to show off said sweater using a smartphone camera.



Also, my vanity demands that I clarify that that odd lump near my waistline is my belt under my top - not some weird tummy tumour.

Pattern: Nanook, by Heidi Kirrmaier
Yarn: Dream in Color Classy, in Cocoa Kiss
Needles: 5 mm / US 8

Fall makes me crazy for sweaters. The air gets a chill, and suddenly I want to knit eighteen new sweaters for myself so that I can be perpetually wrapped in cozy wool. Too bad for me, fall is back-to-school season, which puts me back in the classroom, with all the responsibilities that come along with that, meaning I don't really have the time to knit all the sweaters that scream for my attention, and the ones that I do manage to squeeze in take their shapes somewhat slowly. Usually the sweater bug starts to nibble at my brain in August, and sometimes that leads to me whipping out a sweater in the month before my schedule gets clogged with work responsibilities, and I get to rejoice in having a brand new knit by me sweater when sweater weather truly hits.

This year, pounding out a sweater in August turned out to not be possible, but by some stroke of luck I had a couple of sweaters that I'd started earlier in the year that had lingered into summer. This was one of them. I started it way back in January, and worked on it here and there until the heat of summer, the Tour de Sock, and the realization that the yarn would not last forever hit, and then in a fit of yarn chicken I set it aside. I picked it up and finished it in early August, then washed and blocked it and set it aside for a time when I could wear it without melting.

That time is now.



I love it. I hope this trend for swingy open cardigans with oversized fronts sticks around for a while, because now I've got three of them, and I am dreading the day where I can't wear them anymore without looking horribly gauche. I may opt to close up the cardigan using cufflinks one of these days, but that day hasn't come yet.

The knitting was great for this one. The Bear Track lace was fun to work, and the chart was memorizable. Once you're done with the lace, you transition to stockinette for the back of the yoke, and garter for the fronts. I must confess, I was a tiny bit worried about garter stitch on a sweater, but it's just right for the big floppy fronts of this one. So squooshy. I modded the decrease rate on the fronts - instead of decreasing every 6 rows, I decreased every 12, to keep the fronts big. I briefly contemplated not doing any decreases at all, but figured the designer put them in for a reason (to prevent the fronts from getting too heavy), so I figured a rate that was half of the pattern as written would be a reasonable compromise. If I were to close the sweater up, the bottom corners of the fronts would just barely meet.

Tech specs: I used a (now-standard for me) Chinese Waitress CO and double chain BO throughout. My gauge was off - I knit this at 20 sts to 4" instead of 18 - so I knit the M1 size (36" bust), hoping the smaller gauge would bring it down closer to 33", which is what I'd need for zero ease. I haven't actually measured the finished garment, but it fits me, so I'm calling it a successful gauge tinker. (I have since learned that a 5.5 mm needle would actually have gotten me target gauge, but oh well.)

A note on the yarn: Dream in Color has recently changed their Classy base yarn, and what I used was the old Classy. Truthfully, it's a bit scratchier than I would have liked, which I suppose is what prompted them to find a new softer base. The scritchiness played into my decision to use this yarn for this cardigan - with another top on underneath, it's not typically against the skin, so I don't notice the scratch factor. I have worn this sweater with just a t-shirt underneath, and the skin on my arms seems to tolerate it well enough, but I do feel a bit of a prickle here and there. I don't have any of the new Classy to see how it compares, touch-wise. Maybe I should get some.

How's that for justification?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

K'done: Goodbye California Cowl

Every time I think of the name of this pattern, I get Dani California stuck in my head.



Pattern: Goodbye California, by Liz Abinante
Yarn: Madelinetosh Tosh DK, in Firewood
Needles: 5 mm / US 8

I knit this cowl in three days. Three. From cast on to bind off, including a few minutes to weave in the ends. It sat for a long time before I was able to block it, and the first day I wore it I didn't get a chance to take a picture with decent light. Today seems to have worked out, though, and I am so happy to have this cowl in my collection.



I made this while we were on vacation on Vancouver Island, staying with the Mister's parents. I remember as I was packing for the trip, I had the supplies for a pair of socks for my sister, and the supplies for this cowl, and I wondered if I had packed enough for the ten days we would be there, and gave myself a little shake, reasoning that I don't really knit that quickly, this would be plenty.

And then I knit this cowl in three days.

Yes, I did run out of knitting on that trip. It was okay, though - I ran out of supplies two or three days before we flew home, and the flight's a short one, only an hour and a bit. I suppose I could have aimlessly knit a crazy long stretch of i-cord with the remnant yarn from the socks. Instead I responded to the lack of yarn by devouring October Daye novels - I think I read three of them over the whole trip, burning through the third and a good chunk of the second in those days without knitting.

But back to the cowl.

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed knitting this cowl. The whole thing is textured with just knits and purls, and in preparing for it I was a little worried that after the adventures of the Tour de Sock, I might find this one a bit underwhelming. Clearly, that was wrong. Once I cast on, I didn't want to put the thing down. The texture pattern is fairly easy to memorize - once you've got it set up there's a logical rhythm to the knit/purl placement in order to achieve the overall effect, so I didn't need to look at the chart very much even in the early rounds, and once I'd completed an entire repeat I don't think I ever looked at the chart again. (Maybe a peek or two, if I was too tired to think about what should come next.)

Maybe it was the charm of the yarn, or the logic of the texture pattern, but I found the execution of this one to be deeply satisfying. I generally find the act of knitting soothing, calming, and entertaining all at once, but this one really pulled me in. I really really like the finished cowl, too - it's completely reversible, so I'm never worried about whether it's gotten twisted the wrong way. In fact, the only way I can tell which side is supposed to be the right side is by looking for where I wove the ends in - I took care to weave them both in on the same side, the original wrong side. I'm so pleased with this project that I kind of want to make more cowls with this pattern, using up more of my Tosh DK mini-stash.

Tech specs: I used a Chinese Waitress cast on, and finished with a double chain bind off. I worked for as long as I could until the yarn ran out - in the end it amounted to 3.5 chart repeats, with a small amount of yarn leftover, possibly enough to add one extra round, but I wanted to end at a point that was logical for the texture pattern, which would have been either at the halfway point in the chart, or at the end of the chart.

I may indeed make more of these. It's hard to justify, though, when there are so many other cowl patterns in my queue.

In the meantime, I'm trying very hard not to gain a reputation at work as That weirdo in the cowl.

Monday, September 8, 2014

K'done: Gemini pullover

Squeak.



Pattern: Gemini, by Jane Richmond
Yarn: Claudia Hand Painted Yarns Fingering, in Last Night's Wine
Needles: 4.5 mm / US 7

Wow was this ever a close one. When all was said and done I had less than one gram of yarn remaining. Yeesh.

So, yeah. There were some modifications done here! First off, I held the yarn double, to end up with non-gauzy fabric with the thinner yarn. Second, I wanted the sleeves to be more close-fitting than they would have been as written, so I changed the increase rate for the raglan lines: instead of increasing every row once the lace portion of the yoke had been completed, I only increased every row for the front and back portions, while increasing every other row for the sleeves. Third, I shortened the body: in the end, I think I only worked about 16" from the neckline, then switched over to ribbing, and then I only worked 6 rounds of ribbing before binding off and moving on to finish up the sleeves. Fourth: I shortened the sleeves: I picked up the held stitches and knit one round, then worked 6 rounds of ribbing before binding off.



Slightly different angle.

I'm quite happy with the result, although in a perfect world I think I would have preferred to have an extra inch or so on the body - it rides up a little when I'm sitting down. I can still absolutely wear it to work - short sleeves and square neck mean that lifting my arm to, say, point upward at a projected image doesn't cause the whole garment to shift up and expose my tummy. I just can't lift both my arms.

Still, I got a complete garment, with no funny mismatched bits, and remember, less than a gram of yarn left at the end. I'm calling it a win!

Tech specs: cable cast on at neck, double chain bindoff at all bound edges. Some comments on Ravelry suggest that the cast on edge could be bolstered with some crochet, but I don't know how to do that. I didn't find the neckline overly loose with the cable cast on anyway - things seemed to stay in place well enough for the night out I took it on. Fingering yarn was held double, no alternating of skeins done, and I don't think any transition lines are obvious - did Russian joins to join new yarn on.

My original intent had been to wear it to my first real day back to work, but the temperatures plummeted to single digits, and I got another 8 AM class, and I wimped out about wearing such a tiny sweater when it would only be about 5 C outside. (I don't work outside, but I do have to walk between buildings, and the buildings tend to be on the cooler side of things when it's cold out anyway.) I did get to wear it to go out to dinner Sunday night, though, so it has been publicly debuted, without any sort of embarrassing incidents. Definitely a win.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Block party

I'm quite sure I'm not the first person to make that pun. Still, I like it, so I guess I'll just be unoriginal.

I finally got around to blocking two of the three finished things that have been sitting idle, waiting to be fully finished. I did the purple short-sleeved sweater - which, by the way, I just barely had enough yarn to finish - and a cowl I knit while in BC. Still waiting for its turn is a grey sweater.

And, um, three older sweaters that need to be handwashed. Eh, I'll get there.

Getting those two items off the couch makes me feel a whole lot better about the brown sweater that will be cast on very soon - the yarn is all wound up now. And maybe I'll make another cowl.

Plus I've been putting some time into a hat for the resident Mister. Oh, and Sock Sniper is starting up soon - I'm non-combatant, but last year my sister picked one of the patterns and got another pair of socks, and I think that will be happening again this year, provided at least one of the patterns isn't lacy.

I still haven't had that filing party I need to have, so the appearance of disaster still abounds. I did make some good progress on real work things, though, so there's that. At least there's a good reason why I haven't tidied up around here.

Well. I would say that Had to knit stuff is an excellent reason not to tidy up. Other people, however, seem to have differing opinions on that.

Monday, August 25, 2014

One way or the other

I may have fallen down the rabbit hole at Little Knits in the past week. Not just once, but twice. In fairness to me, I was starting to slip, and then my sister slipped, so we took a couple of combined tumbles. So even though it's not all mine, there's still a couple of boxes of yarn on their way here, and that always makes me look around at what's already here. Gotta make room for the new arrivals.

Around here is a complete sty right now - we're about to embark on a renovation journey, having recently completed a house purchase journey, so there are property listings and mortgage paperwork sort of strewn all over the table in the living room - I need to have a filing party somewhat soon - and boxes of things for the new place like bathroom fixtures and a new bed frame are also being piled up wherever we can find the space. Add this chaos to the fact that while I appreciate clean and tidy places, I lack the sort of diligence required to maintain a clean and tidy space, meaning I tend to leave my stuff in the places I usually haunt, so there's also a lot of yarn in the area surrounding the living room table. A couple of things are all knit up and waiting for blocking, some stuff is in progress, some is wound up and waiting.

Like I said, though, I did some assessing of the current state of affairs, and when I moved a pile of real estate paperwork off the couch, I discovered this underneath:



That's a nearly complete sweater right there. Why did it get buried?

Because I'm playing yarn chicken with it.

Apparently, the game of yarn chicken can go two ways. Sometimes, it makes me especially obsessive with a project - I try to knit faster, which really means I knit on it whenever possible, as if it were possible to finish the project early and in doing so not run out of yarn. As if yarn has a lifetime based on days elapsed since cast on, and not actual yardage. But other times, when I start to worry about running short, I go the other way - I back right off, almost as if I'm trying to give the yarn a bit of time to grow so that I will be sure to have enough to finish.

Of course, if you think about it, neither approach makes any sense whatsoever. But there they are.

There's very little left on this sweater - it's a short-sleeved one, the pattern only has me work about 12 rounds on each sleeve, and I think I'll do another 1/4" or so on the body before doing an inch or so of ribbing. Really, I should pick this up again and just get through it - I could plausibly get it done before classes resume next week!

Besides, then I would feel less guilty about having started to wind up this:



At the very least, I should probably finish the purple sweater before I cast on the brown.

Maybe.