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September 29, 2005

Can't help myself...

I love you and nobody else.

When I said I was obsessed, I must have been understating it. I've never made so much progress so quickly before - I think it's a combination of it being really mindless knitting (stockinette in the round, anyone? Huzzah!) and my being completely, totally enamored of the dreaminess of the yarn and the beautiful resulting fabric. I hate putting it down, it's so pleasant to work on. I'm almost done with the back and should be reattaching yarn to the front in the next couple days.

I've been following a thread on Craftster about knitting a circular shrug - it has been really interesting to watch it go from a starting model, to technical discussions on construction and technique, to works in progress, to actual finished objects with documentation. The organic progression of the discussion is amazing...and has made me desperate to make a shrug. Using the basic method outlined in the thread, I'm going to do one with a cabled rib collar and Celtic knots in the body. It means I finally get to use the knot design I charted weeks ago - whee!

Picture a block of four of these, the two on the right half mirror-images of the swatch, and the four intertwined, as a panel on the back . I bought the Cascade 220 for another purpose, but this seems just about right at the moment.

And last, the ubiquitous "shawl in the window" shot to show off the stitch pattern:

September 27, 2005

Done: Kimono Shawl

Pattern: Kimono Shawl, Folk Shawls by Cheryl Oberle
Yarn: Ornaghi Filati Merino Oro in color 011 (dusty pink)
Yardage: Approximately 1000 yards
Yarn Source: All About Yarn
Needles: 3.75mm (US5) Clover bamboo circulars
Gauge: ? blocked, ? unblocked
Modifications: Knit with cobweb weight yarn in place of laceweight

See all entries on this project

Stick a chopstick

in it; the Kimono Shawl (from Cheryl Oberle's book Folk Shawls) is done. I was absolutely terrified that this would spring a leak with aggressive blocking - the yarn is exceedingly fine merino, and it caught on rough edges of my fingernails once or twice. I settled for running cotton yarn around the perimeter, giving it a brief soak in wool wash, and easing the pattern into bloom rather than blocking very tautly.

The difference between the blocked and unblocked fabric is still pretty remarkable. I really think this is why I'm so fascinated by lace - that near-miraculous transformation. Same reason why I love butterflies, and babies, and, uh...Shrinky-Dinks.

I'll have some better images later, hopefully.

This was a very quick knit, taking about 10 days from caston to blocking, and not being an exclusive project during that time. I only did 20 repeats instead of the prescribed 25, but at about 62" finished length, I don't think anyone's going to be too upset. It was a cheap little project, too - it cost exactly $16.00 to make, with one 1600yd (100g) hank of Ornaghi Filati Merino Oro, a laceweight 100% wool. There's even enough left over (about a third of the hank) for me to try some fine-gauge felting experiments.

This one will be my mom's Christmas present; I'll probably make two more to gift to the other Ladies Of A Certain Age in my life. Hooray for preparedness!

And hooray for starting new projects -

I am OBSESSED. I've never actually worked with 100% alpaca before - I can't believe what a pleasure it is just to feel this stuff run through my fingers. DROPS alpaca. Sky blue and cream. Swoooon.

Behold!

the highly coveted and very popular Union Square Market Pullover from the current Interweave. I love everything about this - the way the severity of the lines are tempered by the softness of the yarn; the beautiful technical details like the buttons along the shoulder seam; the simplicity of the hem facings, the unusual sleeve and neck treatments...alas, I don't know if I could, given hours of reflection, come up with anything that could possibly be less flattering on me than the high neckline combined with the double-thickness detail. The last thing I need is anything that draws attention to my chest - and high necklines tend to make me look like I've got a second chin hovering around my armpits. I thought about altering the pattern in a number of ways...but I really like this sweater as designed, and do think that the flap goes a long way towards making the geometry of the thing work. I really wanted to knit it as written.

It's a good thing that it'll look great on my (similarly sized, but considerably less busty) sister.

A tip for invisible caston - instead of using waste yarn, use the cable of a smaller size circular as your foundation. It's stable enough to prevent your stitches from twisting - and when you get to where you need to knit the stitches, they're already on the needle. Totally sweet.

Zoom!

September 22, 2005

It's not the mountain we conquer

Yarn shops? Don't talk to me about yarn shops. You're looking at a girl who thinks of going to the yarn store like a kid dreams of going to the candy shop - with epicurean, voluptuous pleasure. Going to the yarn store with money to spend? Call Sir Edmund Hillary; it's an expedition fraught with dilemnas and obstacles (silk or wool? or wool-silk blend?), tempered by breathless discovery and revelation (my God...pink fingering angora! At $8.00 a 200m skein!).

Which is why it's such a pleasure to come across a new (to me) store. Will the staff be sweet? Will I want to go and chat with them? Will the walls be lined with merino and cashmere, or with yarn dripping with cheap spangles and "fun fur" (totally my new favorite euphemism for pubic hair)?

Babble aside, All About Yarn is a great store off 108 in Columbia - it's enormous, full of beautiful and hard-to-find things, including more hand-dyed silk than is good for me, and staffed with knowledgeable, personable people. It's a bit out of the way, so I thought I'd pass this tip along to anyone in the DC/Baltimore area.

Another day; another two repeats on the kimono shawl. It's getting loooong already...I think 20 repeats will be plenty. Which means I'm more than halfway done!

September 20, 2005

Odds and ends

That wasn't me, complaining a scant two weeks ago that I didn't have enough projects on the needles, oh nooo. I'd never have a problem like that, no siree...move along; there's nothing to see here.

The Kimono Shawl's eight repeats in. I'm not sure yet if I'll do the called-for 25 - this is going to grow a lot when blocked.

I like this lace pattern (and the speed with which it works up) very much; I think I might end up making three of these in different colors for gifts for my mom, grandmother and aunt. I might choose a slightly thicker yarn next time - maybe some more Zephyr - it seems to me like this shawl wants to be a solid fabric patterned with openwork more than it does some light and ethereal cobweb-type piece destined to be tugged through a wedding ring.

Dad's sweater is progressing, too. I'm finally out of the finger-numbing stockinette portion, and have split the front and back and am working on them seperately. I'm not following any particular gansey construction to a tee here, but am adjusting a vague plan I started with bit by bit as I go along. This approach usually works well for me - and then there are times, like tonight, when I'm merrily working away on something, and fail to realize until halfway through that I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing. Shawl collar? Sure, I've knitted dozens of shawl collars. Or a couple, at least. Well, yeah, that last one really was more of a turtleneck, now that you mention it. Have I ever knitted a shawl collar before?

Rip, rip rip.

Off to the library tomorrow, to peruse that Vogue knitting bible and that book about finishing techniques.

On a more cheerful note, I wish I could marry this ohso simple but ohso effective stitch pattern and have ten thousand of its babies.

And, not that I have (numerous and priority-taking) other projects on the needles or anything, but I'm starting to have the beginnings of an idea

for convertible mittens for Jeff, made in charcoal Dale Tiur (or maybe that Gore-Tex treated yarn they make), adorned with a single intricate cable panel on the back of the hand (subtle, see, because they'll be dark), and finished on the palms and finger pads with suede. I'm drooling a little just thinking about them.

Not knitting related (and you might want to skip this if you're a bit squeamish about bugs), but we've been working on the yard in anticipation of this pig roast we're planning to throw. Yes, the house sits on a bunch of wooded acres, but really, it lies within five miles of a Starbucks, movie theater, McDonalds, Chipotle...not exactly rustic.

September 16, 2005

You just keep me hanging on

I needed new TV knitting. My dad's sweater (the point I'm at, anyway), is so boring it's not any fun to knit.

Enter Merino Oro:

I wound most of this hank, by hand (!!!!!), and started on the Kimono Shawl from Cheryl Oberle's book Folk Shawls. I got through three repeats while finally watching Crash. The movie was overrated, and more than a little ham-fisted...but it's okay, because the lace pattern is lovely and fast-growing, and is easily memorized, and is going to block out like a champ.

My mom is going to love this.

Eunny - 1; Christmas Eve panic - 0.

Grievance Of The Day - The Korean term for wisdom teeth is "salang-ee", or "love-teeth", the implication being, I guess, that they emerge when one is ready for love. I believe this is only because it's too unwieldly to say "Tenth-Circle-Of-Hell-Teeth", or "Pass-the-effing-bourbon-NOW-teeth."

September 15, 2005

Dear Ornaghi Filati

Dear Ornaghi Filati (and other makers of laceweight yarn):

I love my Merino Oro. Your color line is spectacular - I've never seen quite as pretty a shade of dusty pink. The yarn is airy and beautiful and delicious beyond words.

But please, please please sell it in balls. 1360 yard hanks of laceweight make the Baby Jesus (and those of us without swifts) cry.

Meme

Sweet Leah over at Use Your Hands tagged me. Thank you, Leah :)

TEN YEARS AGO: I was in sixth grade (!)

FIVE YEARS AGO: I had, in a fit of disgust, graduated high school a year early by taking a senior english credit over the summer and getting my diploma in the mail, much to the dismay of the high-retention-rate-loving coordinator of the IB program I was in. I got a job at PR firm in the city, moved into the first of many apartments in Dupont Circle, and suddenly found that everything moved very quickly.

ONE YEAR AGO: I had just left a materials technology startup in a storm of tears and burnout and was interviewing to be a technical writer on a huge GSA proposal for MCI. Jeff and I had been dating for a year...he'd come down to my apartment, I'd cook really fabulous food, and we'd fall asleep watching The Daily Show every night.

FIVE SNACKS: Kettle-style potato chips; cold pasta eaten standing up in front of the fridge; Judy Rogers' egg fried in breadcrumbs; cold Orange Beef; pie.

FIVE SONGS I KNOW ALL THE WORDS TO: "In the Summertime" by Mungo Jerry; "Comfort Eagle" by Cake; "Hotwax" by Beck...um..."To Sir With Love" by Lulu..."King of the Road" as sung by Dean Martin

FIVE THINGS I WOULD DO WITH $100 MILLION: 1) Invest. 2) Gamble (just to see what it's like). 3) Create a scholarship for first-generation kids. 4) Eat and drink at The Fat Duck, Arzak, El Bulli, and all over Japan. 5) Make my family and friends comfortable.

FIVE PLACES TO RUN AWAY TO: The desert (Sonoran); the mountains (Blue Ridge); the ocean (Great Barrier Reef); the city (London and Florence)

FIVE THINGS I WOULD NEVER WEAR: Birkenstocks; excessively flared jeans; tube tops; ponchos in any form; anything with a visible logo.

FIVE FAVORITE TV SHOWS: Deadwood, Carnivale (the first season, anyway), The Daily Show...umm...that's about it.

FIVE BIGGEST JOYS: Working with my hands; reading a really good book for the first time; spending time with my family; doing work I'm really proud of; seeing my name in a byline (it never gets old).

FAVORITE TOYS: My Powerbook, hands down. I don't really have any other gadgets or toys.

PEOPLE TO PASS THIS ON TO: Here's the thing - I'm sort of new at this whole thing, and have no idea who has and who hasn't done a meme.

Do you have a blog? Have you done this? Let me know, and I'll tag you.

September 14, 2005

You're gonna reap just what you sow

Ummmmm

Yeah.

Sigh.

At least my plain stockinette looks halfway decent (though sweet fancy Moses, I'd forgotten how boring it is).

September 13, 2005

He said

He said it needed a quote thicker, tighter unquote collar.

So I frogged the collar I'd put on there...

Picked up two thirds the original number of stitches and worked it twice as long...

Picked up the corresponding stitches at the base of the neckband on the inside...

And worked a three-needle bindoff for a double-thickness collar.

I used to hate after-the-fact adjustments like this - I'd consider a project done as soon as the last end was woven in. But this thing was such a big project (literally; the finished garment has a 57" chest measurement) - such a labor of demented obsession - that it seemed worth it.

And damned if he wasn't right.

<3 <3 <3

Done: Macho Aran

Pattern: My own pattern
Yarn: Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece in color 150-Antique Lace
Yardage: Approximately 2000 yards
Yarn Source: Webs Online
Needles: 4mm (US6) Addi Turbo circular
Gauge: 20 stitches/10 cm over seed stitch
Modifications: ---

See all entries on this project

September 12, 2005

We have seen the enemy...

The body knitting for the baby fair isle is done:

It's misshapen and awkward-looking, pre-cutting. Speaking of which, I always end up thinking that steeks are so pretty, it's almost a shame to cut them.

But, heartless bitch that I am, I'll slice away. The most beautiful thing about steeking, really, is that it'll take a good many of these ugly, fringey, mind-numbingly numerous hanging ends

and zap! Neutralize the threat they pose, turning them into nothing more than pinned-down, defeated and limply dangling threads waiting for their date with the executioner - scissors at point-blank range. Muahaha! (Now, where'd I leave my monocle?)

September 09, 2005

I can't believe my luck.

I can't believe my luck.

In the late 60s, Time-Life books published a series of volumes encompassing the "Foods of the World". I remember we had a set in our house when I was a little kid (bought used then, too) - I'd sit and read these things as though they were novels. My mom gave them away at some point in the last twenty years.

I picked up four of them today for 50 cents each at a used booksale. Coming to them now, I'm all the more appreciative - they're dated, certainly, but they're meticulously researched, written by people with genuine fondness for the region they document, and contain absolutely rock-solid recipes for classics. The Classic French book is written by Craig Claiborne; the Provincial France volume by M. K. Fischer and edited by Julia Child. The prose is warm and gently instructive and the tiniest bit sentimental; the photos appear in lavish oversaturatred color.

Plus, I don't know if I've ever come across a more thorough cassoulet recipe. Combined with Judy Rogers' method for duck confit from her Zuni Cafe book, it might become a juggernaut in my winter kitchen.

I'm loving the baby sweater:

The knitting is much smoother in real life. This thing is just whizzing on US2 dpns - I've set the armhole steeks and am about 2 rows into the armhole shaping:

We'll see how all this works out. I'm just kind of making it up as I go along.

Got a few licks in on Dad's sweater, too:

September 08, 2005

Step by step: felted powerbook jacket

I've had a handful of people ask me for specifics on this...read on, intrepid craftsters!

**DISCLAIMER: There's an unresolved question as to the wisdom of using static-carrying felted wool to cover an electronic device. Use this jacket only when the machine's not on, or proceed at your own risk**

I'm going to try and provide a discussion of the method I used to create and construct this, augmented by my notes for a 12" Powerbook, rather than a straight pattern. Since felting wools vary so widely, and because you might not have the exact same computer, a technique study might be more useful than a knit one purl two-type list of instructions.

1) Make a felted gauge swatch. This is absolutely imperative for two reasons: first, to make sure your knitted piece will felt to fit with holes and panels in the right places, and second, to make sure that colors and wools you might combine will felt at the same rate. A good way to do this is to knit a square incorporating each yarn you wish to use, say 30 rows by 30 stitches, and mark off a ten stitches and ten rows with a slippery cotton yarn. Wash the swatch until it forms a fabric you like, block and let dry, and measure the distance between the markers. I lucked out and got exactly 5 stitches and 10 rows to the inch. The following pattern is based on that gauge.

For the record, I used blue Pastaza, red, white and brown Manos, and dark grey Cascade 220.

2) Take measurements of every relevant plane. The absolute basics would be lenth, width, and height. Measurements for a snug-fitting jacket for a 12" Powerbook are as follows:

This diagram is SO not to scale it's not even funny.

3) Figure out how many rows and stitches will give you your measured diagram. For my laptop, I knitted the main top and bottom cover in one piece and knitted on all flaps before felting.

Bottom
CO55 st
Beginning with a knit (RS) row, work in stockinette random stripe 86 rows

Hinges
(RS) BO7 st, k4, attach new yarn, BO35, reattach yarn and k to end of row
Next row (WS): BO7st, work to end of row
Work 7 more rows in stockinette
Next row (WS): p7, CO35, p7, CO7 (use cable caston)

Top
(RS) k to end of row, CO 7 with cable caston
Work 25 rows in random stripe before dividing for logo port
Row 27 (RS): k41, attach new yar, BO3, k41
Row 28 (WS): p to last 2 st of first panel; p2togtbl; p2tog; p to end of row
Row 29 (RS): k to last 2 st of first panel; k2tog; k2togtbl; k to end of row
Row 30 (WS): as row 28
Row 31 (RS): k all stitches
Row 32 (WS): as row 28
Row 33 (RS): as row 29
Row 34 (WS): as row 28
Row 35 (RS): k all stitches
Row 36 (WS): as row 28
Row 37 (RS): k all stitches
Row 38 (WS): p all stitches
Row 39 (RS): k all stitches
Row 40 (WS): as row 28
Row 41 (RS): k all stitches
Row 42 (WS): p all stitches
Row 43 (RS): k all stitches
Row 44 (WS): p all stitches
This completes one half of the logo port. Continue, reversing shaping (that is, follow the rows in reverse order, from Row 43 to Row 27, and make 1 where directed to decrease.
CO3 st at the end of the first panel after the last increase row.

ALTERNATELY, work the top panel straight and cut a hole after felting (the fabric won't unravel).

Continue until 86 rows total have been worked for top panel.

Pick up and work one row of trim around perimeter of knitted piece. Pick up stitches at a ratio of 1:1 for horizontal sections and at 1:2 for vertical sections (pick up 1 stitch for every 2 rows). BO.

Work corners by picking up stitches around the corner and working straight for 7 rows before binding off. Corner should turn up automatically.

Pick up and work 10 rows for top flaps. Bind off.

3) Felt the piece carefully in hot water, checking often and adjusting as you go. The hole in the center may need to be pulled to shape several times during shrinking...I went through about 3 wash cycles before the piece satisfied me.

4) Seal the notebook itself in a gallon ziploc or in many layers of saran wrap, and block the jacket around it, pinning it to itself as fit is achieved. You will need to stretch and pull to get a perfect fit.

5) Attach elastic to the top and bottom corners to keep the jacket on during use.

Voila!

I know these instructions are still a little vague, particularly around the corner and logo hole shapings, mostly because I did this on a whim and didn't keep extensive notes as I made it up going along. I'm happy to help anyone who'd like more details, though!

So Ronery

I have only one project officially on the needles. How did that happen? I diligently bought yarn I didn't need; ogled magazines; leered at kits and needles and shop samples until my eyeballs dried up and fell out of their sockets. And yet the fact remains that Martha, bravely, is holding down the fort all alone. Swift corrective action must be taken now, and stronger precautionary measures in the future.

My dad needs a sweater, and his birthday is coming up. I'm thinking a gansey-style with an allover basketweave yoke rather than a multi-pattern.

Maybe a shawl collar; maybe a turtleneck with toggle closures or something.

And hooray! I finally cast on for the baby sweater I've been dying to really get nitty-gritty with:

After a couple false starts, I think I've found a colorway I can live with. I particularly like the winey red and the bright pink, and the way they really brighten the whole thing. I'm partly making the pattern as I go along and partly following the half-assed chart I drew last month.

And I'm really feeling smug about this one-handed fair isle method I've devised for myself (though I know lots of ethnic color knitting is traditionally done with one hand, and I know there are plenty of better knitters than I am who've espoused this method). I'm tensioning the two colors together over the pinky, holding the pattern color over the index finger, and holding the background color over the middle finger. Since I'm a picker to begin with, this is really comfortable, and best of all, fast. The balls never get tangled, you get into an over-under rhythm very quickly, and weaving the carried yarn in on every single blessed stitch is so easy, so simple, so devoid of extraneous movement (just knit, alternately, from above and from below the strand you wish to carry, and it's automatically caught!), that I'm dangerously close to weeping tears of joy.

No little kiddie fingers are getting caught in THIS sucker. Gold, Jerry, gold!

September 06, 2005

Mil(l)(e)stones

Goodbye, albatross!

I am in love with Martha:

All right, all right, maybe it's lust.

September 03, 2005

At last...

At last.

I really like the shoulder strap method I used here - at first, I tried Wendy's saddle shoulder technique, but the slipped stitch chain was too loose for my taste:

So instead, I played around and decided to work the full saddle, bind off all my pieces, and pick up the left side of the stitches in the body piece:

and knit them together, one by one, with the purlwise selvedge strands of the saddle piece and bind off:

The join is smooth, tight, and seems very strong (a real concern - this is a 2lb garment we're talking about!)

Just a little seaming to go, and this fucker'll be done.

September 01, 2005

Why

I take a little pride in the things I'm good at, mostly because I suck at infinitely more things. And while I don't profess to be any sort of knitting goddess or even that I posess anything more than standard-issue skills, I occasionally indulge myself in thinking that, yeah, I can do that.

So, um, why

do my picots look uglier than the Sizzler on prom night?



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