Sunday, October 28, 2007

No pics this week...

Because what I've completed is stuff that I can't flash around while youngst daughter is home. Yup, I finished the first of her fingerless mitts and they're simply gorgeous! I took one of the patterns from Lizbeth Upitis' book that doesn't have a picture and did my little adaption into fingerless and this pair really came out spectacular. (I'll try to sneek a pic in about mid-week when she's burrowed in her room with the phone.) Course, I might be able to finish the second mitt tomorrow since it's knitting up really fast, but more projects also OTN so we'll see who screams the loudest for attention when I get to work in the morning.

I also finished the first sock using Jeannie Townsend's Cascading Leaves pattern done in Cherry Tree Hill's colorway called Indian Summer. It satisfies my sense of "order" that I use that pattern with that colorway. And it came out looking really nice. I'm halfway down the cuff on the second sock and that should be done this week if I don't get tangled up in the new shawl.

Yes, I received my latest order from Knitpicks and I started Aunt Lois' shawl last night. Got their Wool of the Andes in Forest Heather and I'm also adding a single strand of Alpaca Cloud in Moss Heather. It's looking terrific together and that will be turned into the Sarah Blanche shawl from Cheryl Oberle's Folk Shawls. I worked for about 3 or 4 hours and only got halfway through the 5th row (which is where I'm putting my first dropped stitch row), so this will be a long process, but it's going to be wonderful.

In the shipment, I simply had to order a ball of Palette in the Golden Heather. Wow, what a gorgeous color. A bit of red to soften and tone down the bright yellow of the normal Palette. I won't be able to use it in the older daughter's mitts, but I'm thinking of a way to use it in Dale pattern that I bought about 15 years ago. Yup, I was digging around downstairs and found a few patterns that I'd bought a LONG time ago when a LYS was going out of business. (No, not from lack of patronage, but because they were closing the complex where they rented space.) They'd put everything on sale and I actually bought more patterns than yarn. Got a wonderful pattern for an Icelandic sweater that I wanted to try my hand at. Considering my fear of colorwork until lately, I'd ignored it. Then I stumbled over it a few weeks ago and now it's calling my name with a vengeance.

Considering this would be my first sweater-sized colorway, I'm intimidated by the thought of actually knitting it up in Dale of Norway yarn (which it was designed for). The cost would be well over $100 and closer to $150. OTOH, I was looking yesterday and I think I could knit it up in Knitpicks Palette yarns for about $50. AND (and this is what has me itching to get moving), I could work that gorgeous Golden Heather into the design. Course, I'm thinking of trying the hat first. Just to see for gauge and suitability and if I can actually do it. If I like what I turn out, I can order the yarn and go for the whole shebang in a full sweater.

And that would give me the opportunity to test my color skills before tackling a Philosophers Wool Timber Framed for my brother for his birthday in Feb. Plus I can test steeking (YIKES!!!! Scissors to knitted fabric?!?!?) before I do something that's going to be a gift.

In the meantime, I have MIL's shawl all done. I'm going to wash and block that one right after Thanksgiving. Yup, I'm a smoker and the last thing I want is the smell of smoke to come tumbling out of the gift wrap before she even sees the shawl. So I'll wait and block that one when I get the Aunt-in-law's shawl done and get them washed (iow, get rid of smell), blocked and wrapped after the turkey holiday and with plenty of time before the Christmas holiday.

Sounds like a plan and the next few months are basically all mapped out on what projects will be one the needles....

OH!!! Before I forget. I got a shipment from Cathi at Stone Barn Fibers. I ordered some hand-painted yarn for socks (what else? ) in the colorways Cattails and Ice Cream Sundae. Hmm... yummy and gorgeous, so I'm sure they'll be on the needles as soon as I can get done with the Cascading Leaves and Textured Argyles. I also ordered some gorgeous merino to try to spin for socks. I ordered 4 oz. of her handpainted merino in Daffodil (which is yellow with streaks of red and green and even a few others) and I'd wanted to try plying that with a solid strand of Spice. Course, this being Oct and I totally forgot that anything orange would be gone in a heartbeat, I wasn't surprised when Cathi wrote to let me know that she was out of spice. Oh well. So I wrote back and said to pick something to go with the Daffodil and surprise me. Lo and behold, she picked this stunning ruby red. Can't wait to get my fingers on that fiber today.

And not only are they gorgeous, but I opened the bag so I could fondle the fiber and the scent that wafted out of the package was simply divine. Clean and sweet. I don't know what she uses to wash her fibers, but it's heavenly. The scent was even in the yarn. Working on the fiber and the yarn is going to be yummy indeed.

Trust me. Get fingers over to and get yourself some sock yarn and some fiber. The computer monitor does NOT do justice for her handpainted fiber and yarn. Her sense of color is exquisite and the yarn is to-die-for. Bouncy and soft and unbelievable. Picking one over another is difficult and there isn't a bad mix in the bunch. Try one skein of yarn and you'll be tearing your hair out to simply order two of each. (Yes, you do need two skeins to make a pair unless you make socks without cuffs.)

A few months ago, my mom had ordered a dozen colors, two skeins of each. I balled them all for her and put each colorway into a qt. ziploc bag. Then put all the bags into one big brown paper bag. She's had more fun simply reaching into the paper bag and taking out whatever ziploc comes to hand. Each one is a new surprise and keeps her knitting happily on new socks. I don't think she's halfway through her stash and is already itching to buy some more because there's so much pleasure in the surprise she has each time she reaches in for a new project.

Yup, I definitely need me one of those big brown paper bags...

Okay, off to do fundraising tallies and get rid of those white roots.... er, not in that order. Do roots first so I can hop in shower and then go play with a calculator for a few hours. Then home for laundry and finally the ability to play with my new fiber while the machines do their thing.

I'll get pics up this week when I can make sure youngest daughter is stashed in her room with phone to ear and distracted from seeing her Christmas present.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Textured Argyle and more...

Here it is. The infamous Textured Argyle. I haven't had a lot of time to work on it (well, duh, since you still have needles sticking out of it! ) but I'd promised the pics last week. Oops...

  • I don't know if you can tell in the pic, but the first row of diamonds (with the red twisted with a blue) are purled rows, then the dark red (believe it or not with a green) is stockinette st, then the yellowish diamonds are again purled and so forth. Each section is offset by small one stitch cables. This is how the diamond definition is set up.

  • I did that to the bottom of the cuff and then simple straight stockinette for the rest of the sock with a short row heel. Let me see if I can get that other pic to upload here also. Woohoo! Yup, I can upload. Now I have to learn how to set them where I want them and I'll be ready to roll. Youngest daughter promised me that she'd help me do that, but she's still in bed. So maybe next time.... Why? Because I'll have more pics to upload.

  • Why again? New paragraph, that's why... I finished the MIL's Wool Peddler's Shawl. I got my order from Knitpicks last Saturday. I can't tell you how excited I was to come home and find that box sitting on top of my mailbox. So I whipped it open, checked out my yarn and put together my new Options interchangeable set of cables. Put together my size 7 tips on a 24" cable and cast on Saturday night. It's funny because I thought the garter stitch beginning would be SO simple. Well, it took me 3 tries to keep that center increase row both centered and straight. But once I got the hang, yes, it whipped up pretty darned fast.

  • Now, my MIL is tall. She's 5'10" or thereabouts, so I did add one more row to the lace bottom section. And, boy, that was slow knitting cuz you're working about 300 sts in each row. But I also experimented some and I can now knit "continental" even faster than I can knit my good ole 30-yrs-of-experience American. It took a while to get somewhat easy on the purling, though. That one slowed me down a lot because the first row I tried purling, I got it backwards so all the sts twisted when I went to knit. So I knitted the next row through the back and then regrouped. Took a while, but I figured it out and can now purl in the continental manner a bit faster than molasses...

  • Anyway, so I got all excited. One shawl down and 9 whole weeks before.... Oh, wait! I have to reveal two other things during the making of this shawl. I've written to Knitpicks because I can't believe it, but my cable pulled right out of the connector. Luckily, I had just knitted my last row and only had to cast off, but I went to turn the work and BOOM! I'm sitting there with my knitting in my lap and my needle in my hand. Thank goodness it was the last row and I didn't have to try to pick up 300+ stitches. So I pushed all the stitches together on the good end and continued to cast off. Whic leads me to another thing I learned.

  • New paragraph... I don't know about you, but my cast off stitches are never in tension with the rest of my work. They're either too loose or too tight. And the ends never lay flat. They either pull or ripple. Yech! Yeah, yeah, everyone tells you to cast off _loosely_. That never works for me. It's still different than everything else. So I tried something new.

  • Please note that this will only work if you work this last row on a cable needle and you'll see why. I knit that last row and then moved back to the beginning of same row. IOW, I haven't turned my work at all. I simply move from the left side where my yarn leader is dangling back to the right side where I began that row. Then I simply slipped my first two stitches to the right needle and slipped the first stitch over the second. Slip another stitch from the left needle and pass the "first" slipped stitch over the new one. Etc, etc. Knitting is already done. You're just passing the stitches for the bind off. End result? That edge lay flat and true like never before. Not too loose. Not too tight. Perfectly in sync with every other row I'd knitted.

  • Seriously, give it a try. You'll be surprised.

  • Okay, next note. I pulled out the swift and ball winder yesterday and balled up the lace weight merino and alpaca skeins I'd bought for the Aunt-In-Law's shawl. Funny, when you put the balls next to each other, it's not that pretty. But start casting on and the alpaca in Moss Heather adds a really nice subtle contrast to the darker Lost Lake Heather in merino.

  • Anyway, I get upstairs last night and begin to cast on. Yarn leader is too short for 240 sts. I tear back and cast on again. Yarn leader is too short by about 10 sts. So I tear out and cast on a third time and this thing is looking mighty short. 240 sts or did Cheryle Oberle mean 340? I pull out the book again and look. Yup, 240 sts. Problem is that the yarn is supped to be DK weight and not fingering as I'd read (about 5 times). Actually, I think my problem is that I kept looking at so many different patterns that I forgot what yarn was needed for which project... So here I am with yarn that can't be used for the pattern I want or, if I switch to another pattern, I don't have enough yarn to complete it. I was thinking of switching to the Bird's Nest Shawl, but I only have half the yarn to complete it. I'll figure that one out and keep you posted.

  • In the meantime, I can start a pair of fingerless mitts to replace the ones that Shelby doesn't have anymore. I don't want to say that she lost them or accuse someone of stealing them. I think it was more a combination of both. She put them down and forgot to grab them and they were gone before she could retrace her steps. Course, as I told her in no uncertain terms, the design is 100% unique. So if she sees someone wearing them, I expect her to run them to ground and tackle them.... LOL!

  • Now, before I interrupted myself, I was about to say that, as of this Tuesday, we have nine (count them, NINE!!!!) weeks to Christmas. At least three projects in the hopper to be completed prior to then. And I simply have to figure out something for the Hubby. He keeps complaining that his feet get cold, so I want to make him a pair of socks. I have a reason now for him not to be suspicious. My mom wants to make a pair for my brother and, considering he's in North Carolina, it's a bit difficult to measure his foot. But my DH's foot is a bit longer and a bit bigger than my brother's. So if I measure Mark's foot and subtract a quarter inch in length and a half inch in diameter, it should work. And I'll have Mark's measurements also. Maybe that's what I could use that merino and alpaca for. The merino would add memory and "bounce" and the alpaca will add warmth. And the two shades of very subtle green will be nice and conservative compared to my socks in loud parrot and "fire"...

  • It's a thought.

  • Have a wonderful week! Nine and counting... Yikes!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Fingerless Mitts

Before I get into things, let me begin with an apology. I seem to have lost my ability to paragraph correctly, so rather than have all of my paragraphs run into each other like a multi-car wreck, I'm bulletting all the paragraphs to keep them separate. That said....

  • Let's start with a picture. I finally got one. The main school colors are navy blue and gold, so that's the main part that goes over the hand. That navy "blob" is a thumb gusset. I was going to keep it in pattern, but it was so small a piece, I simply couldn't wrap my head around how to work the math to keep it in pattern. So... blue. Then I was worried about how the end at the fingers would roll back on itself because it's double-stranded, so I just finished it with a braid and then blocked to keep it straight. Funny, I've never owned a set of lace blockers in my life, so I just took the needles that I'd used to knit the mitts and laced them through each side to block it flat. Now, I doubt that would work for a large piece like a shawl, but it worked beautifully for the mitts.

  • Now, here's the kicker. I gave Shelby the mitts on Wednesday morning because she needed them for last night's Midnight Madness. Well, she's searched high and low and can't find them for the life of her... Argh! I'm sure she feels really bad, but she figures she probably took them out of her messenger bag to grab something and then forgot to put them back. We checked with Lost & Found on campus, but, yup, they're gone. The good news is that, I don't know why, but I'm not mad. I think it's because there were a few things I would have changed once it was all done and I looked at the total overall effect. Now I have a chance to do just that. I'll have to order more yarn to accomplish this goal, but I'm going to do it and make her another pair.

  • I also have plans to make a pair for youngest daughter. You know the one... she sits by the hour with a phone superglued to her head and IM'ing on the laptop simultaneously. Other than cleaning the litterbox twice a week, she can barely manage to make soup for her Dad on the nights I work, but for some reason I'll make her a pair of mitts. She deserves a smack instead of a present, but I'm WAY too nice for the good of both of us. My one consolation is that I know -- I mean, I KNOW!!!! -- some day she'll have a daughter just like her... Payback's a bitch and she'll get hers... LOL!

  • Now for the good news. Yarn has arrived for the two shawls I'm making for Christmas. One a lovely rich burgundy called "hollyberry" from Knitpicks for the MIL. This one will become the Wool Peddler's Shawl. The other two yarns are both lace weight, but I'll combine them to make the Sarah Blanche shawl for the aunt-in-law. Two shades of green that will create almost a tweed effect, but one of them is alpaca, so that will add some wonderful warmness that straight merino might not with such a "holey" shawl. I want to do the Sarah Blanche because it's a dropped stitch garter and years ago I made a crocheted "broomstick lace" afghan for Aunt Lois and she loved it. This is almost the same effect, so they will match in a very strange and weird sense.

  • Oh, and I have to mention. I took the pic from above of the mitts sitting on the stool for my Kromski because the wood is deep and rich and would blend into the dark background so the mitts would really stand out. I did get a complaint from my Mom that the other few pics I'd uploaded were way too busy with background, etc. So I figured just the stool. And I aimed my Ott light at it so the colors would show true (another problem I have in my house). Damn if it didn't work out well.

  • I have to take a pic of the Textured Argyle sock. I'm almost done with the first and the cuff came out really nice. Hopefully, I can get that today and upload tomorrow. I can place one pic, but I have trouble if I'm uploading more than one. They tend to bunch up. I asked youngest daughter about that and she said, "Oh, you just type in blah, blah, blah, wakka, wakka". huh? I just smiled and said she could stay off the phone long enough to help....

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Just Keep Knitting...

No new projects to report... er, yet. But I'm cranking along on the ones I posted in my last venture. I've completed one of the fingerless mitts for Shelby. Considering she needs them for this coming Saturday night, the second is coming along well and I expect to be done with them by Tuesday. (Okay, really, by Monday, but I need to wash and block, so it'll be Tuesday before I can give them to her.) The Pep Band will be at the Midnight Madness rally at the university, but that's held in the old basketball court so I doubt she'll be cold. OTOH, the hockey team has their first game on Saturday, so I want Shelby to have them handy if she needs them. (It's an exhibition game, but I don't care. Hockey is hockey and I CAN'T wait to have my butt in my season seat... )

The Dimple Shale Lace Scarf is coming along slowly. I figure if I do a couple pattern repeats every day, I might be done by Christmas. But I'm not worried about that one. I'll probably keep it for myself since I have presents lined up for everyone else. (hmmm... a present for one of the girls? Maybe. That's a thought I should probably write down or I'll lose it entirely. )

The Textured Argyle is almost done on the first cuff. I think I have about 4 rows left until I can start the st st for the heel, but I'm also thinking about how to decrease this baby. I'm working the pattern in 72 sts. Let's be real. I normally use 52-56 sts for my socks. I did more on the cuff for this one because I don't want the pattern to stretch around my calf. I want it to lay flat and show the beauty of a pattern I actually figured out for myself. (YES!!!! Finally, right yarn for the pattern!) But I'll have to decrease before I get into the heel or these socks will end up sized for Mark. There's 9 pattern repeats, so, in the last row before I do my usual 5 rows of st st before I start the heel, I'm going to decrease one stitch in each pattern (in the purled sections so it's less noticeable). That will bring me down to 63 sts. I'm thinking of st st the next row and then another 3 or 5 sts decrease to bring the stitch count down to 58 or 60 sts and then work the heel. I haven't decided yet on that one, but I'm leaning more towards 58 sts total. It'll still a bit larger than my usual 52-56 sts, but I'm also using a slightly smaller needle, so I surely don't want it to end up too small.

If I'd had half a brain, I probably would have cast on 64 sts instead of 72 for 8 repeats instead of 9. But the day I cast on for the socks was one of those days where not a coherent thought passed through my mind between the time I woke up and the time I went to sleep. It didn't even dawn on me until about two days ago that I cast on too many sts from the start. I'll try it on once I turn the heel and, if it's really too big, I can always frog. I'm getting used to the sound of frogs singing around my needles...

I'm waiting for the sun to come out so I can get some pictures of what I'm working on. Every time I've done something inside the house, the pics turn out way too dark. So I want to try outside with the natural sunlight and it might help with showing the true colors as well as picking up the light/shadow to show the Textured Argyle and the variation in texture. I learned this one from my wonderfully warm alpaca shawl. It's a three-ply yarn with each ply in a different color (dark, med, light all in the natural animal colors), so I kept the pattern a very simple basketweave of knit and purl. Unfortunately, between the variation in color and the small varitation in texture, I couldn't get a decent picture that showed anything more than a big rectangular blob... The biggest part was probably because I was trying to take the pic inside. Being surrounded by trees, I don't have a lot of natural light streaming in my oversized windows. And being a Cape Cod, I should definitely have more lamps in my rooms... So now I'm going to try photographing outside with natural sunlight and see if that solves my color/texture problems.

Anyway, I'll try to be back tomorrow. I have to post the ideas for the Christmas shawls I'll be making this year. Since the recipients don't spend much time online --one doesn't even own a computer and I can pretty much guarantee that the other doesn't even know I have a blog, let alone read it -- I won't be spoiling any surprises by making this announcement.

Have a wonderful Saturday! I've got my fingers crossed that the sun comes out. I'm almost positive it will make an appearance since there's no hope of rain anytime soon.