Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Knitting Trophy!

Hooray! My prize for getting my (one and only) letter in the Do Something New KAL came today!

I got three balls of bright red Bernat Satin sport and a coordinating ball of funfetti yarn. The bright colors are so much fun... my head is brewing with possibilities for a cheery hurry-up-spring project. Tina also included a tube of vanilla buttercream lotion. Mmmm.....

Here is a picture of Roxy checking out the yarn. She is dangerously close to violating the no cats on the table rule (I should have made up a no cats on the yarn rule right from the start... it's simply too late now....)



Monday, February 25, 2008

My To Do List

I didn't do a lot of knitting this weekend. I fiddled around with the vest again - I tried it on and dropped a ton of stitches once again and so all my knitting time was spent fixing that error. I really need to retrieve my longest cable from the socks and use it for trying on stuff. I refuse to use scrap yarn. Anyhow, that story sort of characterizes my knitting lately. I'm in the kind of rut where for every one step I take, I take two steps back. I need to see some action. So here is my to do list:

1. Finish Roxy's Princess bed! This absolutely must happen! I am nearly done and it has been on the needles for way too long.
2. Turn the heel of my sock.
3. Frog the cash arm cozy (details on that still to come)
4. Trudge on with the vest and do not drop anymore stitches!!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Sock Research

I found a website telling me how to knit my sock heel on the two circs. It is pretty intuitive, I'm sure I could have figured it out myself if I had tried. Then again, thinking hurts.

http://www.az.com/~andrade/knit/socks.html

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Getting Down to Business on the Vest

OK, I am finally taking some time to really write down all my notes on my vest so I don't loose them on my millions of stickies.

First, I finished the increases for the darts last night! Here's what I've got so far:
The instructions are sort of hazy as to how you are supposed to do this whole sequence. The waffle stitch is: knit two rows then k1,p1 the third row. So the instructions tell you to work in waffle: on row 1 place your markers, work two rounds even (which I read to mean knit one row then k1,p1 the next), then an increase sequence is given (on a knit row, right?), then it just says to repeat that increase on every following third round 5 times more. So here is what I worked up:
row 5: knit
row 6: k1, p1
row 7: increase
row 8: knit
row 9: k1, p1
row 10: increase
row 11: knit
row 12: k1, p1
row 13: increase
row 14: knit
row 15: k1, p1
row 16: increase
row 17: knit
row 18: k1, p1
row 19: increase
I'm hoping that's what I was supposed to do. Here is where I get worried: the increase row is always following a k1,p1 row. The increases are RLI and LLI - which meant that sometimes I was lifting stitches off a purl stitch, which was just really awkward. I don't think my increases are as neat as they should be because of that fact, but the pattern is so textured and my yarn is pretty rustic, so I'm saved. Still, this whole thing is perplexing me. My goal for my knitting this year is to really focus on technique and not just turning out FO's. So I'm frustrated by this somewhat unclear pattern instruction and/or the incomplete instructions in my reference books on how to lift increases. Here are close-ups of the darts:



And now the bad news: remember how I had trouble swatching the waffle stitch so I just gave up and used a smaller needle? Well, now I have enough of the waffle going on to really get a good gauge, and I am WAY off! My gauge is 22.5 sts and 27 rows over 4''. The recommended gauge is 18 sts and 28 rows over 4''. Crap!! But, I have actually been a little worried that this was going to be too tight because I didn't allow any positive ease when I selected the smallest size - and it has since occurred to me that I will be wearing this over a shirt and I'm probably going to want a looser fit. So, I'm not super upset. I'm going to try on what I have so far over a button-up and see how everything is fitting before I decide to panic.

And one more thing: I'm not sure I'm loving this yarn for this vest. It has little bits of silk that are popping out to give it kind of a rustic texture, but the waffle stitch pattern is so elaborate that I think a clean yarn would have shown it off better. C'est la vie.

OK, that commences my deep thoughts about the back to school vest.

Sassy Socks are growing!

Last I finished up the leg on sock #1. It's 7 inches long. (That's what she said.... ha ha) I am sort of at an impasse at the moment because I don't know how to make a heel on the circs. Honestly, I haven't put a lot of thought into it or researched it at all. I'll probably get with the program this weekend. Although, I am favoring my vest at the moment, so I don't feel any rush.

artsy WIP photo:

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I'm a Classic Woman

My Rowan Classic Woman book is here! Let me tell you - this was not an easy puppy to find! None of the major booksellers carry it, and the only people I could find who had it were stores in the UK (where it is published). But I avoid international purchases with a vengeance. (Shipping charges are hell and the money conversion always knocks you off your socks too). Anyhow, after a lot of googling I finally found a store with a website that carried it. Comically, they are in MA. Too bad I don't have a car. Anyway, it shipped really fast. The Knitting Garden. Check them out.

So, here is the book, as modeled by Roxy:

Oh, can't you see it? OK, Roxy will take her talents somewhere where they are appreciated:

And finally, the raison d'etre for getting this book:

I am going to use the RYC soft yarn I bought a few weeks ago. I bought it especially for this shrug. The pattern is called Cressida, and I feel really weird about it because one of my friends is also named Cressida and she reads this blog.... but.... sorry hon. Things may get confusing while this is on the needles. And I'm sorry if you have to read stuff like "I hate you Cressida! Die! Die!" If it makes you feel better, I pronounce them differently.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Bite me, bite me pillow!

Now that I have had a little time to calm down, I can talk about what happened with the bite me pillow from Domiknitrix. OK, so, the embroidery is really frustrating!!! I looked around at some of the projects on Ravelry and it looks like a lot of people have had trouble getting their letters to look as nice as the ones in the book, and I am no exception. That said, I refuse to accept sub-par lettering on this damn pillow. At first, I just wanted it to look nice, but now it's personal.

So, let me review what my problems are. Here is a picture of where I am at now:I thought the outlining would look nice it chain stitch, and it does, but it took forever!! Also, it took me a while to learn that when you chain stitch on a piece of knitting you have to zig zag your needle when you stitch horizontally - do it over the bar on one stitch, then under the bar on the next stitch, and so on. If you don't, the line slants up or down. So, it took me about a million years to figure that one out. I had to rip out the T and the E on the top row and redo them once I figured out how to fix the problem.

I am happy with the placement of the letters and with the shape of the ME on the bottom row. I'm pretty unhappy with the outlining on B and the E on the front row. The T - I could take it or leave it. The I is obviously fine. How can you screw up an I?

So, all that outlining (free-handed, mind you!) was really frustrating and ruined my day. But it gets worse. Let's explore the satin stitch debacle.

First of all, the satin stitch is really messy in and of itself. That's my fault because I was rushed because I was pissed off and just wanted to finish the damn thing. FYI: I stitched the B and the I and I ended up cutting out all the stitches out because it was messy. I redid the I which looks better, but that's a pretty easy shape. But more importantly, you can see how the tension from the satin stitch is warping my fabric. Look between the T & E. This simply won't do!!

So, what happened? Like all naughty projects, this puppy was sealed up and tossed into the corner for time out until it learns how to behave:

So what am I going to do when I decide to free the pillow from its zip lock prison?

1. I am ripping out the B & E. I'm going to stitch the E exactly like the one on the bottom row, and for the B, I am just going to sketch out the shape I want right on the fabric with a sharpie. It's not ideal, but the letter is just too hard to freehand. That is already my second version of the B.

2. An embroidery hoop would be ideal to help with the tension problem, but I don't have one. I just need to figure something out. Maybe I can schlep on over to Windsor Buttons - I bet they have one. Of course, that would involve leaving my apartment to go somewhere other than school or the grocery store. That's a tricky one. I'm sort of in hibernation mode.

3. For the satin stitch: I am cutting out all the satin stitch so far and redoing everything. Then I'm going to split the red yarn. I think if it is less bulky the stitches won't look so messy if they end up piled on top of each other in some places. This will probably help ease the tension as well. I also need to decide whether I'm going to make the stitches diagonal or strictly horizontal and stick with it. I hate to admit that right now they are all over the place. I really am better at embroidery than this! I'm just sucking at this project because I'm mad at it and distracted by my anger.

I have so many other projects I'd rather work on, I'm tempted to just toss this thing and call it a bad dream. Or I could leave it in the naughty bag forever (like the doomed binary scarf...) But, like I said, I feel like I have a personal vendetta against this damn thing. I imagine I will let it ruin my weekend again next week. It may be winning the battles, but I will win the war.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Surgery

I spent the morning fixing the vest and now it is ready to knit again. I was having trouble picking up the stitches that dropped several rows down because of all the increases and decreases that were lost, so I ended up just frogging it back to the lifeline. I'm so glad I put that in there!! Still, getting the stitches from the lifeline back onto the needle was no easy task, but at least I knew once I got it all done I wouldn't be missing any stitches. Someone on Craftster once recommended that I use really thin satin ribbon for life lines instead of a piece of yarn because it is flat and slippery and easier to transfer stitches from. I like that idea. I'm definitely doing it next time!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

FO: Head Hugger

It's cold in Boston. Like, really cold. I usually schlep around in a giant ski parka and a snow hat, but I would like to be slightly more stylish. So, the first step to style is not pulling a hat over your head to ruin your hair-do, right? And I figure the second step to style is wearing something that is semi-stylish (i.e. not a Chococat beanie). Enter the head hugger from Stitch 'n Bitch Nation. I figured this cute little ear warmer would save my hair since it ties in the back and nothing is being pulled over the hair. Also, those flowers are adorable!!

I planned to knit at least two of these - one for myself and one for a gift, but after making the first one, I'm not sure I'm up for a second. We'll see. Just knitting the plain band was a headache, because the pattern isn't as clear as I would like it. Then, the embellishments were like a nightmare! First, I was only going to put the flowers on, but when I finished those I thought maybe the leaves would look cute, so I made those, then I figured I had to embroider the stamen on as well... and it took forever. Then sewing it all on was quite the task. Luckily, I love the finished product! Check it out:


And here is a picture of it on my head (bad face day). You can see how it is completely ponytail-safe and it still covers enough of my head and ears to keep me warm:


yarn details
Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky in Chianti (CC) and Wild Violet (MC).
85% wool, 15% mohair
bulky
weight
handwash cold and dry flat

113 grams/125 yds @ $8.00 each

knit picks shine sport in grass (CC2)
sport weight

60% pim
a cotton, 40% modal
50g/110 yd per ball @ $2.49 each

notions:
embroidery floss
sewing thread

pattern details
pattern: "Head Huggers" by M.K. Carroll, from Stitch 'n Bitch Nation, pg 59.
size: earwarmer, blocked out slightly longer to tie at back instead of chin
gauge: 20 stitches and 28 rows over 4'' (not important)
needles: size 8 DPNs and size 7 straights (for leaves)
yarn used: just under half a skein of the wild violet, and minimal amounts of the chianti and the grass colors.
time: 10 hours (conservative estimate - I made a lot of mistakes)
total cost: $5.50

notes...
  • I frogged the thing a couple of times because I kept slipping the stitches wrong and the edges looked wacky. Just keep an eye on slipping that first stitch to make sure you don't wrap the yarn around the stitch (creating an ugly line in random places on the edging).
  • I used a smaller needle than recommended for the leaves - the gauge just looked too loose on the 8's.
  • I made a copy of the little flower schematics in the book and blocked my flowers right onto that piece of paper, I think it helped a lot to get me nice symmetrical flower shapes.
  • It's not a bad idea to write out all of the increase/decrease rows on a piece of paper and calculate how many stitches you should have at the end of each row. This screwed me up a bunch of times.
  • To get the flowers in the right place: First pin them on and check it out in a mirror to make sure they are on the right spot on your head. Second, baste them in place using a needle and thread and remove all the pins (this was immensely helpful for me!) Finally, go back and stitch the flowers on tight using a blind stitch. Keep the stitches small so you are sure everything is on there securely. It is pretty easy to keep the stitches hidden in the bulky thread - I didn't have any purple thread so I used brown and you would never know. After you sew the flowers on, then you can of course go back and rip out the basting stitches.
  • About the yarn: I have never knitted with Lamb's Pride before. When I was about half-way through the band I worried it would be way too itchy for an ear warmer, but it softened up a lot after I blocked it. It is really warm. Excellent stuff for winter accessories.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Thank God!

My Boye needle replacements came today! YAY! That was actually a lot faster than I expected. Kudos to Wrights Factory Outlet. This puts the back to school vest back in the game!

The last few days I have been consumed with a random valentines day project - the sassy conversation heart pillow from Domiknitrix. I've been doing the embroidery all day and I'm getting pretty pissed off at it. Stupid embroidery.

I am insanely ill and can barely form a coherent thought at the moment.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Warmness

It is seven below in Boston this morning (with windchill). Brrr!!! I walked to school at 8 a.m. and my hands froze - in their gloves. They were completely numb by the time I got to the law tower. My hands and my nose. But, the relevant part of this story is that my ears remained toasty in the head hugger! I can't believe that damn thing! I am going to knit every conceivable winter accessory in bulky 100% wool post-haste.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Cozy up!

I cast on for the cashmere arm cosies last night (finally!) I am worried about the size here because of my last disappointing attempt at an arm warmer. I am vowing to myself that if this turns out to be too big - even if I have already finished one whole cozy - I will frog and start over at a smaller gauge.

I dutifully swatched the yarn last night, but you swatch in a rib pattern - so I don't know how the hell you're supposed to count the stitches. The fabric is just stretchy and unstable and the gauge changed every time I counted it out. I probably should have erred on the side of caution and started on smaller needles, but I like to make obvious mistakes and waste time. It's sort of my thing.

Oh, and the cashmere yarn is so soft! I think I'm in love! If a blend feels this nice I can't even imagine what it's like to knit with the real thing. Can a fiber be my valentine? Or is that weird?

Saturday, February 9, 2008

HOORAY!!

The new issue of Interweave Knits was waiting for me when I came home today! YAY! There are a million things I want to knit already! And I haven't even cast on for anything from the winter issue yet.... my goodness.

Pants on Fire

So, my socks aren't exactly magic loop like I thought they were. Funny story - I clicked on the wrong video on knittinghelp.com... oops. Knitting a tube on two circular needles is directly above magic loop and the little video icon is between - so I got confused. (I was confused anyway, because I had always thought magic loop used one circular and not two.... and it does).

So, here are my sassy stripes socks, knit on two circular needles. It still seems like magic to me.


p.s. I took the head hugger out in public yesterday - she served me well.... until I got on the T. See, the wool is very warm and I had that and my coat on and I nearly passed out from heat. Ha ha. Imagine someone getting heat stroke during a New England winter.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

My Second Pair of Socks!

I cast on for my second pair of socks on Tuesday night. Oh yes, it's addictive. I am just using a ribbed sock pattern with the sassy stripes yarn. The recommended needle size (and the size I needed to get gauge) was size 5! I have sizes 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 10, 10.5 DPNS. What are the chances?!? So, I decided this would be a good opportunity to try out magic loop and knitting the socks on two circs. It took a while to get started, but now I've figured it out and it's pretty damn cool. I got about 2 inches into the sock, then I decided it was too tight, so I frogged and cast on again for the medium size. Now it seems slightly large, but we'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Head Hugger finished!

I spent this evening sewing the flowers onto the head hugger and it was my final headache with the project. I am done! Hooray! Here are some pics of the pieces blocking on my fabulous new blocking board and then a pic of the finished product. I'll write a proper FO post when I get a chance (i.e. when this stupid headache goes away).

Monday, February 4, 2008

weekend update

I got absolutely no knitting done this weekend after the unfortunate circular needle mishap. My weekend was consumed with deep cleaning, entertaining, drinking, sleeping, treadmill assembly, and, of course, moping.

I am really looking forward to casting on for another pair of socks with my new yarn (I was warned they are addictive! And they are!) I also need to finish the head hugger and probably Roxy's bed since it's been on hiatus for so long. Oh, and whatever happened to my commitment to knit the cashmere arm warmers. I should get on that.

I haven't replaced the cable and needle tips from the Boye set yet. I scoured the internet and there seems to be nowhere you can order the parts online. You have to print out the replacement form from the Boye website and mail it in snail mail style. Tomorrow I am going to try calling the 1-800 number and see if I can at least order over the phone. I am really happy with my Boye needles, but at this point I wish I had gone with knit picks options or denise because it is so much easier to order parts for those sets. I don't know if I really feel like changing my system this late in the game. I certainly don't have the money to do it now, but maybe some day I will do it if I start having more problems with breaking parts.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

New Yarn!

I know I'm on a yarn diet. There was a sale... I couldn't help myself.....

First, some darling self-striping sock yarn:


And for the piece de resistance, some yummy RYC soft lux in a purpley-grey color with glints of gold:


I'm using it to make this shrug: (cute!)

Friday, February 1, 2008

FRAK! $#@&!! FRAK!!!

I frakking broke my circular needles last night on the frakking vest!! I bent the needle all freaky and I snapped the needle tip right off the end of the cord with the threaded bit still inside the needle. Now I have to order new parts and I can't work on this, or any other circ project with this size cable until the order comes in. DAMMIT! I haven't even looked to see how much the new parts are. Hopefully it won't break the bank, I don't have any money for a couple of weeks until my loan check gets here and clears at the bank. ARG!! Oh, and when it broke I lost a ton of stitches. I picked them all up on a stitch holder, but I haven't fixed the ones that dropped and they are all twisted. What a headache.