Monday, October 31, 2011

Week 18....of the Super Stitches Knitting Project

This week my three swatches were:
1) Cable and Eyelet Rib
2) Spiral Rib
3) Diagonal Rib
Week 18 Swatches
Swatch 1: Cable and Eyelet Rib
This swatch turned out very nice, indeed.
Cable and Eyelet Rib
It's not as stretchy as a normal rib, but it makes a very pretty design for a hat and since it lies flat I think it could even be incorporated into the lower cuff of a sweater. Knitting this pattern was quite simple, but the way it was written was confusing.
For one thing, the authors of this book use 3 different abbreviations for a yarn over.
They are:
Yfrn, which means yarn forward and around needle. Basically this is just a YO before a purl stitch, meaning you do your yarn over and then bring the yarn around again.
Yfwd, which means yarn forward.
Yon, which means yarn over needle.
I'm not really sure what exactly makes the last 2 different from each other or from a regular YO, so I just did yarn overs as I saw fit and it turned out just like the picture anyhow.
That wasn't all that was confusing.
The 2nd row says "Row 2 and all WS rows:" but then when you get to the 8th row it says "as row 2." Which is just reiterating something that we already know. When I got to row 8 the first time, I almost repeated row 2 twice. It was confusing for a minute but once I figured it out the rib came out very pretty.

Swatch 2: Spiral Rib
This was a simple 4 row repeat, and the WS rows are identical so really you only have to remember the 2 cabling rows. It was very easy to keep track of what row I was on, and it came out ok.
Spiral Rib Swatch

It's really not stretchy at all, though, and I'm not sure I like the resulting fabric. I think I would rather just do a cable if I wanted the spiral effect.

Swatch 3: Diagonal Rib
I've used this pattern before to make legwarmers, a hat and a pair of tube socks, so this one was very easy. Basically, you just do a 2x2 rib and move it over one stitch every second row.
Diagonal Rib Swatch
The book notes that Diagonal patterns tend to stretch on the bias, and I noticed that to be true. Apparently you can minimize this effect by using firmly twisted yarns and by not wringing the fabric while washing.

 That's it for this week!
Stay tuned next week for:
1) Corded Rib
2) Rickrack Rib
3) Twisted Rib

Happy Knitting!

Oh... and I guess Happy Halloween, too. I'm taking my son trick-or-treating tonight- what are your plans?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Catching up...

I've been without internet for a few days. I went to my sister's house with my son for a very nice visit slash Halloween party.
Every time I go a while off blogspot I'm bombarded with posts from the million subscriptions I have. It's only annoying because there's this thing I'm supposed to be doing called, uh, mothering? Life in general? But it's fun to read everyone's posts and I'm glad I'm all caught up now...

I had a comment in one of my previous posts regarding my Super Stitches project. To answer that question, yes I am knitting through an entire stitch dictionary. And no, I'm not knitting along with anyone. I decided to do it when I realized that I paid like $20 for this book I've never really opened. Of course, since then I've purchased a ton of other knitting books that I wish I was spending an equal amount of time with.
But it's nice to only work on it once a week. Which is generally Sunday, but today is Sunday and I haven't worked up this week's swatches yet. I'll do them today and post tomorrow. But in the meantime, please enjoy this picture of me in my halloween costume.
"I'M Moaning Myrtle!"

You're never too old to dress up.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

FO: Orange You Glad Purse

So last night I finished crocheting and weaving in the ends of my Orange You Glad purse. I'm not going to say it came out great; my crochet skills leave much to be desired.
The surface crochet came out a lot worse than I was hoping it would, and my leaves are not exactly leaf-shaped. But, it is done.

 The only mods I made were to make it on a slightly bigger hook so it would turn out bigger (yeah... i did that on purpose. it wasn't a wretched gauge mistake. of course not. why would you even think that?) and to make the straps long enough to wear messenger-style.
Technically I guess it isn't really done because I kind of want to find a nice citrus-y fabric to line it with. But since that requires shopping (which requires money) it won't happen for a while so it's done for now.
Something like this would be nice:
But maybe with a little more pizazz.
I've been hunting the internet and apparently I'm very specific on what kind of citrus-y fabric I want. Or rather, what one I don't want because I reject every one but can't think of what exactly I want.
My next project I hope to complete is the Giraffe from Itty-Bitty Toys. I'm working on his head now.
What's on your needles?

To the frog pond...

My WOTA sweater?
It's not working out.
It may kind of look like it's working out? But trust me. It's not working out.
There is so much armpit sag it's not even funny.
The waist shaping worked out lovely, but the sweater is not close-fitting so it just makes me look lumpy.
Plus the neckline is too high and the whole shape of the thing is boxy, and the wides stripes don't do me any favors either.
See... the thing is, this sweater would be awesome. It really would be. If I could just unravel the ribbing there (and maybe the ill-fated waist shaping) and add on a few more stripes. Then it would be like a rad almost-baggy sweater-dress But, see, then I'd have to dye more yarn. And I have exactly 1 more ball of white WOTA. Also, I ran out of the red on the first sleeve so I would also have to dye some red. Then it becomes buying AND dyeing yarn to knit on a sweater that I've already come to hate and it is just not worth the trouble.

I'm rescuing my needles from this time suck and getting to work on other things!
I don't know what I'm going to do with the yarn, though...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

FO: Catching Butterflies

Big butterflies

Little Butterflies

and my second mitt, doomed to the frog pond.
As much as I really like this pattern, I thnik if I do it again (which I will because I still haven't made myself a pair) I will do them 2 at a time to prevent this crazy gauge problem from happening again.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

FO: Christmas Present

Wait a minute...
I still have to weave in the ends.
Still, I'm very happy to have this vest off the needles, and I'm sure my mom will be very happy at Christmastime. She absolutely adores vests, and a good thing too because there's no way I would have persevered long enough to make this into a sweater!

I'm amazed it actually fits a human being, actually. I cast on without doing a gauge swatch, didn't plan the colorway at all, and completely did the neck, armhole and shoulder shaping intuitively.

Also, after I did the shaping for the back I moved on to the front and realized that when I split the back from the front I did it unevenly! There were 20 extra stitches to get rid of in the front. 20. That is HUGE, and yet you can't really tell. (Probably because the extra stitches ended up exactly in the bust area, which was extremely lucky.)

By the end of the month I hope to finished 3 other items so I can guiltlessly cast on a new sweater. We'll see how that goes.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Week 17... of the Super Stitches Knitting Project

So, yesterday was Sunday and yet I didn't post my swatches! And then today I realized that last week I forgot to take a picture of the second section swatches with their tails weaved in and all blocked and nice. (Um. Probably because I didn't weave in the ends or block them.) Therefore, today with unmitigated resolve, I am swearing to be a better blogger from here on out!
And with that comes the post I was supposed to do yesterday (but didn't because I was too high on hippo-makin').

Section three is the Ribbing section. Which means the first three swatches are boring to look at as well as boring to knit.
SWATCH 1: Knit One Purl One Rib
Yeah. Like I don't knit socks all the time.
K1P1 rib
I like how my swatch looks terrible, too. It's really loose and a lot of the stitches are uneven. I hope blocking evens things out a bit, but I think it came out all weird because I was like "Psh ribbing, what?"
SWATCH 2: Knit Two, Purl Two Rib
(I can knit and purl.)
K2P2 rib
Again with the looseness. If I were doing TKGA master class I would NEVER turn in this swatch. haha. But it will definitely do for a swatchy blanket :D
SWATCH 3: Seeded Rib
Getting into the fancy stuff!
Seeded Rib
So this was a very simple 2 row repeat, and I like the look and texture. It also retains elasticity, though it isn't quite as stretchy as the k2p2 rib. It is also reversible, which is great for a scarf. Or even like a baby cardigan: That way it stretches as the kid grows, and if the kid pukes on it and you didn't bring bring any extra clothes you can wipe it off and turn it inside out! I know, that's gross. I didn't invent that idea. I actually read it somewhere.
Anyway, I think this stitch pattern would work great with a hat as well, or pretty much any knit where you would like a little stretch but would like it to look a little more exciting, or have gotten sick of k2 p2 ribbing.

So for the next 6 Sundays I'll have three ribbed swatches to boast. I've been looking through the chapter today and there are a few that I'm pretty excited about, like the Raised Eyelet Rib and the Double Rickrack Rib.
Next week's are:
1) Cable Eyelet Rib
2) Spiral Rib
3) Diagonal Rib

Of which the Cable Eyelet looks the most fun, and the Diagonal Rib looks the least (probably because I've knitted 17" legwarmers using that stitch pattern). So that's it for my wannabe-Sunday Monday post.
Happy Knitting!

(P.S. Wondering what I named my hippo? After a wonderful suggestion by Evelyn she has been donned Harriet. She's currently decorating my dresser and I can't wait to make her some friends!)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Heck yes I crocheted a hippo!

On a whim I picked up a pamphlet on how to make a few super cute amigurumi animals and I actually pulled it off!! It took 2 tries, but my hippo is pretty cute and i'm awfully proud of him. Now... what to name him...

Saturday, October 22, 2011

KAL disaster.

So I had made plans to join a KAL with some fellow Ravelers today. We each chose a Tiny Owl Knits wristee pattern to knit this weekend. This morning I woke up at six and cast on for my 2nd pair of Catching Butterflies and started knitting with gusto. With optimism. With fury.
By 10:45 I was casting off the first mitt.
Then, however, it was time to run errands. My mom and I packed up the baby and headed out to Wal Mart to buy canisters and odds and ends for our Halloween costumes. And for a knitting magazine. And yarn would have been part of the plan, too, except that they have taken out their craft center!

Anyways then we heard that my niece was visiting with her 2 month old baby who we hardly ever see, so we rushed over to my sister's house and had a nice long visit.
I was knitting all the time: in the car, at my sister's, in line at wal mart.
And I finished the second mitt right about the time we got home, about 7-ish.
So I cast off, and was all excited to dig around for my kidsilk haze for the butterflies when...
Disaster struck.
I tried the mitts on.

Yes. Those are 2 completely different sized gloves. Apparently when I'm sitting on my couch knitting by myself I tug on my stitches a little harder than when I'm gallivanting around town and having nice visits with 2 month old babies.

So yes.
I have cast on for a THIRD mitt, and I hope that the tension matches one of those shown above. Hopefully the looser one.

Friday, October 21, 2011

A distraction...

Today I picked up a copy of Crochet Today! and worked up a little headband.

Sorry for the failing light photo-shoot- I won't be taking another one because I am gifting this in about 20 minutes.
It was a fun little project, though, and I feel pretty accomplished because it fits my head and is pretty cute. There are a few other cute projects in that magazine, but I'm pretty sure my skill level isn't up there yet.
Back to the WOTA sweater tomorrow.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

It's growing on me...

I divided for the sleeves and am knitting away. I've made plans for waist-shaping but who knows if they'll work out. (Shh, I didn't block my swatch.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

WOTA progress

Dear WOTA sweater,
I am so sorry for the letter I am about to write. I know that when I started on you, back in July, it must have seemed like the perfect relationship. After I wound all of your white balls into skeins and dyed them each a different cheerful color, it must have seemed like a match made in heaven. And I cast on and worked for a good while on your neck and yoke; I know I was putting out some sure signals that I was ready to settle down.
Alas, I was not ready. And I cast you aside, leaving you and your good wool in a $1 tote from Jo-Anns. I didn't look back at you for months. At least I didn't steal back the needles, like I did with the garter stitch shawl you were next to. I'm sure you and she had a great long talk about what a wanton knitter I am.
And then last night, I came back to you. And we made some real progress.
That is why I'm so sorry for what I'm about to say.
I got a package in the mail today, darling WOTA sweater.
Now, finally all those skeins of luscious yarn that have been tucked away in my stash have an opportunity to show me what they're made of.
And now I'm planning shawls, and sweaters, and socks, and so much more. And you? Well, I'm sorry. I really am. You're at such a boring part. All your rows are far too long, and until I separate for the sleeves, I know I can't possibly enjoy you.
Farewell for now,
dear sweater.
You will always have a special place in my heart.
Right next to the garter stitch shawl.
Love, Best Regards,

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

FO: Gretel Tam

This was a very quick and enjoyable knit. I used the same yarn as I used for my Central Park Hoodie, so now I have a nice matching hat for it. I think I'll use some of the rusty orange Cascade 220 I got from Lambtown USA to make a second one for my SIL.
The pattern was well-written (I was using the SnB Superstar book, so there was no chart or different sizes.) and I did well just printing off a copy and scratching off rows as I went. It was very easy to keep track of where I was and I love the finished object.
I do have to block it.
I took a sexy photo for you guys, too:
Word of advice: do not wear your Gretel tam like this.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Knitting Stories

I have quite a few knitting books in my library. Something like 40. Let's say 42; it's the answer to life, the universe, and everything.
I have books that deal with only one technique, like toe-up socks. I have books that deal only with socks and books that talk only of sweaters. I have sweater design books, beginner knitting books, books with a focus on color, and Vogue Knitting's Ultimate Knitting Book. I have every book Debbie Stoller has ever written; ditto for Stephanie Pearl Mc-Phee, and I'm working on my Elizabeth Zimmerman collection. I have toy books, baby knit books, kid knit books, and two stitch dictionaries.
But today I went to Michaels and found a book in the bargain bin, which got me thinking.
I don't just buy pattern books, or technique books, or stitch dictionaries. Many of my books about knitting are just that: Books about knitting.
This book (found at a GREAT VALUE of $3.99, as you can see by the sticker) is just a collection of knitting stories, written by many different knitters the world over. The stories range from anything from humorous, to sad, to heartwarming, to spiritual.
Out of my (probably) 42 knitting books, I think about 10 of them are just stories. Stories about knitting.
Stephanie Pearl Mc-Phee once said- and I think she said it in one of these 10 books- a knitter should own lots of books like this. She said it was very normalizing to read about people who knit as much as you do.
I think that explains the amount of books I have like this. It may also explain the amount of people I'm subscribed to on Blogspot. I think pretty much every blog I've come across that a) has been updated recently and rather regularly b) seems to focus mainly on knitting, I've subscribed to. And I LOVE getting updates and reading everyone's entries. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and only 1 or 2 people have updated and it's nice to soak in what's going on in someone else's life. Other times it's overwhelming and I have to take moments out of the whole day to read all my blog subscriptions. Either way I get very cheered up hearing other peoples' daily happenings.

So what does your knitting library look like?
Do you have a lot of technique books? What about stories? Do you read about knitting while you knit? (I do- I keep the pages open with my knee or my feet.)

Oh, and my tam is almost done.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A new direction

So at the end of last post, I was under the impression that the best cure for failure is knitting simple garter stitch. It turned out that I was wrong. All these simple projects I have been working on have gotten me into a funk, instead.
Like, the baby sweater? That's just plain stockinette with some increases thrown in.
The giraffe? Same deal. I mean, later on there's going to be a lot of sewing and stuff to keep me on my toes, but that's not the same as knitting that is complicated.
Hexipuffs are so easy I do them on auto-pilot.
The only thing I'm working on that's hard at all is the Fair Isle sweater. (erm. actually I have a fair isle vest on the go, too. but that's hibernating and it doesn't count. shhh.) But, as ya'll know, that sweater is on bulky needles and I only take it out to work on it like once every month.

So maybe, when I need a confidence boost in my knitting I need to work on something a little spicier.
So, I cast on for a tam designed by Ysolda Teague.
So far, even though I'm barely getting to the cables, I've already learned a new technique. I followed a youtube video in the late hours of last night to perfect the tubular cast on.
For a minute there I remembered what it was like to be a brand new knitter. My fingers felt so dumb and clumsy and for a second there I almost ripped it out and did a normal long-tail cast on. I'm glad I didn't, though. Not because of the way the cast on looks (I really don't care less how my hats look) but because of how learning a new thing made me feel.
I feel like I gained a skill point.
Knitting +1
One day I should add up all the knitting skill points I have. haha. Learned long-tail cast on +1. Learned Cable cast on +1, learned to cable +1, learned to cable without a cable needle +1 and so on. And all the techniques I still have to learn...

Anyways, I'm really enjoying this new project. I've been avoiding complicated projects because I pretty much stay at home and take care of Vyvyan these days and I'd rather have something simple, but now I think my brain needs a little exercise. When I finish this tam I know I'm going to be very proud of myself, and I think I need some of that feeling right now.
Although, if this ends up a complete failure I guess I'll be right back at step one. But at least I won't be failing simple baby sweaters.

So guess what happened today.
Remember my missing swatch?
Yeah. I lost a DPN inside the couch yesterday and only noticed today. Of course I freaked out because there are babies in this house and who knows what could happen and well, they're my only size 7 DPN's and they're bamboo and old and I've grown attached. So I dig in the couch and what do I find?
It was just sitting there, minding it's own business like it wasn't HIDING from me the last time I looked. I know I looked in that corner. I looked everywhere. I lifted up the couch. Actually I lifted up all of the couches even though I knew I was only sitting on the one. And I vacuumed! I looked everywhere-even the basket of toys- and that little beastly swatch was hiding in some time and space vortex or something like the Bermuda triange! And now it's back. Now that it is perfectly useless.
At least I found my DPN.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A failure or two...

So remember the KnitPicks Sugarbunny I bought? The pink and purple lusciously soft angora/merino blend? Well, I wanted to make a special pair of wristwarmers for my sister (hence the girly colors).
After much searching I found a beautiful pattern, Andreas Mitts. Unfortunately the pattern was $6 so I turned my searching elsewhere. But, just for kicks, I added it to the Pattern Wishlist in my most frequented Ravelry group and then went to bed.
Well, the very next day I found that a lovely owl had gifted me both the mitts and the shawl that goes with them.
Now, I hadn't known there was a shawl, as well. But I definitely didn't have enough of the Sugarbunny to make the shawl AND the mitts, so I used some Caron Simply Soft from the stash to try out the pattern.
Mistake 1) The pattern calls for a sport weight yarn and I chose a worsted weight
I justified this by saying "well, the Simply Soft is a pretty thin yarn anyways. Besides, I don't have any sport weight and if i make the small size it should work out."

Mistake 2) The pattern calls for an alpaca blend yarn and I chose a 100% acrylic
I have no excuses for myself on this one.

Anyways, I cast on and worked the cuff. Which turned out very nice, cheap yarn aside, and I quickly decided these were going to be awesome.

But when I got to the hand things started to get ugly.
1) I apparently suck at jogless stripes when working 2 row stripes
2) I also apparently can't keep track of increase rows unless I mark them down in a notebook and cross off each one as I finish
3) I am too proud to use stitch markers for something as easy as a thumb gusset.

So I frogged the first attempt at the hand and went to bed. The next day I worked on, and finished the hand. The entire time, there was this niggling feeling. A whisper in my mind saying "they are too big."

So it is. I won't be making a second mitt. At least not with this yarn/needle combination. Unless I find a person with big manly hands who wants a pair of acrylic slytherin colored gauntlets with leafy wrist detail and a picot trim.

The pattern is really lovely though, and I did a picot bind-off for the first time ever. Which was much easier than I'd imagined and which I might have to incorporate into other projects later on.
So that was one failure.

Now for the "or two."
I'm not sure if this is going to end up being a total failure or not.
 I finished the sleeves of my Hello Baby Cardigan last night.
The sweater is cute and small and soft.
The opening at the center is far too wide.
Far too wide.
I obviously can't just do an I-cord trim and let that be it. Some other ravelers have had the same issues and fixed it with a bit of extra I-cord loops or crochet edging.
I'm not sure what I'm going to do, just yet.
I might just pick up all the stitches and work a plain garter stitch border, reminiscent of the baby sophisticate sweater.
Who knows. All I know is that it is not the perfect little project I was hoping it would be. The yarn isn't exactly the most beautiful thing ever, either. It definitely needs a good blocking and keeping it in my purse means a ton of wrinkles.

So, in the face of failure what do I do?
Something simple.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

FO: Owl Puff & meanderings and updates...

I whipped this little owl up in one night. I did the face in the dark, so that's my excuse for it's ugly. I was originally going to do button eyes, but 1) there are babies in the house and 2) i used hot glue to stick the felt whites down into place before sewing them and the glue dried too hard for my needle to penetrate!
I'll definitely have to work out a better way to do the eyes for next time. Because the pattern is so cute, there will be a next time.

Also since I last blogged I have finally received my swap package!!
 I was so excited! It came all the way from England. I made a video that shows all the contents up close, but if you watch it be warned that there is loud teletubby music in the background.
In my package I was delighted to receive:
1) A bracelet/necklace set
2) A skein of Angels and Elephants hand dyed wool in "Raspberry Ripple" colorway (the one you can see in the above picture)
3) A (pre-balled) skein of Angels and Elephants hand dyed alpaca/merino blend
4) A handspun hank of "Zombie Goat" yarn. (What is a zombie goat? Click here to see my collection of Zombie Goat pictures on Facebook)
5) A beautiful needle-felted silk scarf. You really have to look at the video to appreciate this one.
6) A skein of Jawoll Magic, that will become a shawl as soon as I get some needles free.
Tell me that yarn doesn't perfectly personify a zombie goat! (Zombie Goat wants graaaaiiins)
Finally, I have started something new. Again.
What was that? You're asking about the baby sweater I started for my SIL's new baby? Yeah.... that baby ain't comin' out 'til March. The sweater's in a purse waiting for sleeves. Shhh.

The new thing is.... PIZZA!

Seriously, doesn't it look like pizza? It's actually this giraffe from Susan B. Anderson's toy book. I'm not sure it's working out quite like I'd like... for one thing there's the fact that it looks like pizza. Also, it's made out of Red Heart since that was the only yarn I had in any color even close to giraffe colors. Which isn't necessarily true. I do have some wonderful koigu in yellow and orange which would look lovely, but it's sock yarn and I don't have small enough circular needles. Besides, them's for hexipuffing. Not to mention the fact that I'd have to wind the hanks into balls in order to start.

So that means I have 2 toys on the go, both out of Red Heart. And, oh, like a million other projects. Needless to say, I'm feeling overwhelmed.

Yesterday, I decided I needed a good simple garter stitch project, so I started digging through my stash bins and boxes and closets (my, has the stash grown this past year...) and could find nothing suitable. I thought to myself, "this is crazy! I'm staring into a box full of yarn and wondering why I have nothing to knit!"
It's like all the yarn is designated for some project that is someday supposed to happen, or else it's itchy or else I want to use it for something complicated, or else it wouldn't look good in garter stitch or would look best as a hat and I don't want to knit in the round right now. And I started getting frustrated, because.... well, it was just ridiculous!
Finally I grabbed some yarn (I don't even remember what) and I started digging though my needle stash. I knew right away that I wanted a nice decent size...maybe size 8's. And I definitely wanted to use straight needles, so I reached for my pair of size 8 metal straights. And suddenly remembered something.
I went into the closet, rummaged in on of my project bags and found....
A good 6 inches of garter stitch on size 8 metal straights.
(yes i'm recycling a picture from several months ago)
So that was kind of embarrassing. But at least I remembered before I started yet another plain garter stitch project! Now that I think about it, there's also a garter stitch shawl tucked away behind my closet....