Saturday, March 31, 2012

Still here...

Hello blog readers! I had a bit of a scare there, and lost my blog for a while. Apparently blogger was having hacker/spam issues, but thankfully my blog came out unscathed.
At the same time, I finally switched over to the "New Look," and I'm really barely getting used to it. I am not a fan so far but I just wanted to do a quick post to say hi! Still here!

I've been working steadily on a brand new project with really old yarn:

You may have noticed that, while I have up to 20 knitting projects going at a time, I am a monogamous hooker.
I'm crocheting a blanket out of Red Heart Super Saver. The idea was that I kind of want a nice white backdrop for my photographs, like One Sheepish Girl (one of my fave blogs)has for her Weekend Plans posts. Her blanket has some nice bobble or popcorn stitch happening, but as a noob crocheter, I'm doing simple double crochet. I recently picked up the Harmony Guides Crochet Edgings and Trims book at my local Tuesday Morning, so I might try to add a nice border.

Unfortunately, I know nothing about yardage for crochet blankets and ended up running out of the "Soft White" I was using. Rather than go shopping (the last thing I need is more RHSS in my stash) I just continued with a light grey.

I guess half of the blanket can be "nice backdrop" and the other half can be "weird color-block afghan that is technically made of plastic." (Sometimes I don't think my projects through.) One thing is for sure, though, this puppy is working up FAST!!

Right now it is measuring about 30" x 46"
Going by this website, I think I'm almost done. Depending on whether I want to make a child's size or an adult size afghan, that is. I had planned on a solid-colored child size afghan, but....
It already looks pretty weird with 2 colors, so I'm thinking I might just amplify the weird: Make a huge afghan and get rid of a few more skeins of Red Heart. No matter how it looks, I think it will be really snuggly once it goes through the washer and dryer.

Here's a terrible picture of my progress, in case you're wondering how big it is:
And no, I really don't know how I'm going to make it look any more balanced or attractive.

So that's what I'm up to.
That and mourning the loss of a Ravelry friend. If you are in the Tiny Owl Knits group (Tokland, as we fondly call it) then you have probably heard about Clementina3. If not the thread is here where you can light a candle, say a few words, or give owlie hugs. I still can't believe the news, and I have been trying to just do a regular blog post, but I can't not mention her. I can't not say how-even though I never met her in person- her death has affected me, and what a sweet and wonderful person she has been. To me, and to others, Clem was just a wonderful friend. I was very sorry to hear the news, and had to mention it here. After all, we are all members of a small community, and maybe she was a friend to you once, too.


Friday, March 30, 2012

FO Friday

I have 2 objects today. (No, the shawl isn't one of them)

1) Teddy Bear Baby Sweater
Yarn: Caron One Pound, RHSS accents (100% acrylic)
Needles: size US 10 (6mm)
Size: 4T
Pattern: Improvised.

This project spawned from my realization that I cannot sew set-in sleeves. I decided to knit a pair of toddler sweaters (size 4T) for my son and neice to practice sleeve techniques. One (Teddy Bear Hoodie) will be to practice arms in-the-round with short rows, the second (Shark Hoodie) to practice seaming garments worked flat. Both will be made with acrylic that has been sitting in stash forever.
Pre-wash: it was pretty crunchy before it went through the dryer.
(I haven't worked with acrylic in a long time)

This first sweater was knit in the round up to the armholes. There I separated the front and back, did the armscye, neck and shoulder shaping. I then used mattress stitch on the shoulders, and picked up the sleeves to knit in the round from the top down.
I used a set of videos from Paula Ward on YouTube to figure out how to work the short row sleeves. The video explaining it can be found here, and the actual technique is shown here. I am very glad I learned this technique: I will definitely be using it in the future.

 Here is a close-up of the armhole:
It actually looks surprisingly good, especially when I compare it with a sweater I made last year. In my Cable Car Coat, I made a mistake in the sleeve and ended up trying to knit the sleeves from the top down, but didn't know about short rows at all. So there is quite a bit of armpit pouch, and this technique is a great improvement.
(When I wear this sweater I try to keep my arms to my sides.)
Anyways, this is (almost) the first time I have ever really designed a sweater. I used the following books for help with sizing, decreases, and the math:
1) Sweater Design in Plain English by Maggie Righetti
Found plenty of detail for sizing toddler sweaters here. (No I didn't just measure my son, because these are for next Christmas)
2) Stitch n Bitch Superstar Knitting by Debbie Stoller
Used the chapter "Bringing out the Big Guns" to work out armscye shaping.
3) The Sweater Workshop by Jacqueline Fee
Found necessary information for hood.

Then I busted out the crochet hook and added a simple border for the hood and ears from the pattern "Perfect Bear Ears" (and yes, they are pretty perfect) to make it extra cute.

I thought about adding some embroidery to the front, maybe a honeypot of a few bees to practice my embroidery. But if I haven't done it yet, I probably won't. So I'm calling this one DONE! Since it was pretty small it only took a week or two to go from concept to completion.

Though my son is modeling this sweater, it is actually for his cousin. His shark hoodie will be coming soon... Once I feel like working with 100% acrylic again.

2) Entrelac Hat
A week or two ago, I signed up for a workshop on Craftsy to learn entrelac. My hat is finally finished, and I am very happy with it.

I'm glad I didn't quit early because the final few decrease rows make a nice starburst pattern.
I used Cascade 220 and size 6 needles. I didn't really pick the colors, I just reached in and found the 3 biggest balls in the partial-ball bag. (I keep almost all my leftovers, and generally end up using them on hats...)
I haven't blocked it yet, and probably never will. I know how much Cascade likes to grow, and this hat is pretty big already.
I know I will do some more experimenting with this technique in the future. It was quite fun, and made a good break from some of my more boring projects. However, my next attempt at entrelac will utilize some self striping yarn to limit the number of ends to weave in.

And for those of you who want to see the reverse side...

Thank you for reading/commenting  ^_^
Check out more FO's at Tamis Amis.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


So much more fun than garter stitch.


Yarn: Bryspun Kid-N-Ewe (50% wool/50% mohair, discontinued) I think I've knit 6 balls into it so far.
Needles: Started on size 6's, but it went into deep hibernation and I forgot what size I used and picked it back up on size 7's. (Yes, you can tell. But it goes faster this way.)
Pattern: Mara

At last count, there were 697 stitches on the needle and it was taking 24 minutes to get through one row. It is really big. Like, it is 30" deep, and has a 62" wingspan. To give you an idea of how big it is, here is a picture of it on my full-size bed:
It was incredibly difficult to get a decent picture so I settled for this one. Sorry. At least you can see how big it is, even if all of the texture is completely lost.

Naturally, every RS row adds on four stitches and counting them just makes me sad. So I'm just going to knit two, purl two for 4 painful inches while thinking back on just about every other project I have ever knit. Especially the ones that were bright.

Whenever I'm not reminiscing about previous projects, or rhapsodizing about projects to come (hello, pullover!) I will be dreading the epic bind-off that looms ahead...

What are you working on this Wednesday?
Check out Tamis Amis for more. ^_^

Monday, March 26, 2012


I haven't forgotten my entrelac hat, though it has been pretty stagnant while I work on my mom's shawl. Every so often, when the epic blue garter stitch behemoth starts to get to me (when I start wondering if my mom even deserves a hand-knit shawl after all, for instance) I put it aside and pick up the hat.
It's pretty large, and I'm fairly certain that the second it hits water it will cease to be a large hat and become a small purse. Nevertheless it feels pretty cozy and I'm really glad I learned the technique. It will definitely be one of my most unique hats!
I'm on the second-to-last row right now, and I'm sure I can get that done by Friday, even if I am devoting most of my time to the shawl.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


A few days ago I found a sweater on a blog. It is an amazing sweater. I love the sweater. I want to knit the sweater. I want to wear the sweater. I love it so much I want to marry it.

The sweater is this orange cabled pullover from Untangling Knots. That cable just entices me. I seriously drooled all over my keyboard in "I Want To Knit That" awe. Unfortunately, the pattern is not available, and probably won't be until next fall. "No problem," I thought to myself, "She mentions the book where I can find the stitch pattern and then I can do the math for myself. I have a few skeins of wool that would love to be that sweater."

So where can I find the cable? Barbara Walker's A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns. It's actually a book that has been on my to-buy list for a while, but right now I just don't have $30 to throw down just to make that inner me pipe down. ("I want the sweater! I need the sweater! I can't have the sweater without the stitch pattern! I NEEED THE BOOOOK!!!")

My solution was to pray I could find the stitch online.
The Walker Treasury Project (they knit swatches and photograph them in color, but do not release actual stitch patterns) informed me that the pattern is called "Lattice Diamond."
A simple search turned up nothing, so I headed to Ravelry, where I hoped I could find it in a free pattern. No luck. I did find some very nice cables, but my stupid heart was set on THAT one.

This sweater has been stuck in my brain since I first saw it. Every spare minute I've been reading amazon reviews for different stitch dictionaries. I went to my local used bookstore, my local Barnes and Noble, and even Tuesday Morning hoping that the stitch would be in one of their dictionaries. Which, of course, it wasn't.

I eventually decided I would have to use Eunny Jang's tutorial to reverse engineer it. I had a few similar patterns to work from: This hourglass stitch, this cable, and I even considered using Evenstar as an alternate.

Then, just as I was texting my friend about my miserable search and how I was going to have to do some crazy brain work with two 2-year-olds in the house, I FOUND IT.
Apparently if you look up "Latticed Diamond" instead of "Lattice Diamond" and it makes a huge difference.
Here it is, that beautiful stitch pattern. 22 stitches, 30 rows.

I want to do the body of the sweater in the round, so first I had to convert the written instructions into a chart. I wasted so much graph paper trying to do this!
I think my brain exploded a little bit.
I had to figure out all the symbols for all the twists and cables, and then I kept putting them in the wrong spots or miscounting. Finally I went online and found a place to make my own graph paper with bigger squares and then I had fewer problems. I also found some white-out, which was incredibly helpful.

The Almost-Finished Chart
(I did one last version but didn't take a picture)
Towards the middle, I was working on it in the living room and rather than looking up an easy chart symbol, I just threw in a happy face.

Yes, they make me smile when it's time to do that part of the chart.
Anyways, I now officially have started my swatch!

Yes I do plan on fixing the direction of the lattice twists when I make the actual garment. The written pattern I have told me to do a purl twist that made no sense at all, so I kind of winged it and will have it.
Much more magic math do be done, but I am so excited I just had to share ^_^
My brain is seriously stuck on this project, and I'm so glad I didn't have to spend $30 on the book before I could begin! (Though I have heard so many good things that I will have to buy it eventually.)

Unfortunately, after my swatch is done I can't start the real thing until I finish a few items. Mainly the entrelac hat and my mom's shawl. Then the obsession can continue ^_^

Friday, March 23, 2012

FO Friday

I had meant to have my Mara shawl done by today, but a few other things jumped ahead of it.
Namely, this little girl:
My newest niece, giving my son a total of 9 cousins ^_^
Of course, I had to make her some cute little booties!
Here they are finished:

And modeled by the lovely lady.
Yarn: Koigu Painter's Palette Premium Merino
Needles: US 1, 2.5mm
Pattern: Saartje's Bootees
Mods: Used provisional cast on to graft bottom seamlessly. Used knitted cast on instead of long-tail for straps, and did the button loops in single crochet. (5 sc)

The pattern was easy to follow and produced a very cute, very quick present. But there were an awful lot of ends to weave in.

That's it for me this week. Check out more exciting FO's at Tamis Amis.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

WIP Wednesday

On Sunday morning I received an update on my Facebook from Craftsy- their entrelac beanie workshop was on sale.

I have always wanted to learn entrelac, and the one time I tried- from this pattern in Hip Knit Hats- it was an utter disaster. In fact, I have often looked back on that failure and thought of it as proof that I am not a "Real Knitter."

So what did I have to lose? I signed up for the class. I have taken one other Craftsy course (also during a sale) and enjoyed it quite a bit. The $9.99 for the workshop was only $4 more expensive than buying the pattern, with the added benefit of being able to take part in discussions and asking questions of the designer (in my jammies, no less!). For a normal pattern, I don't think I would shell out the ten bucks, but this was entrelac!

As it turns out, entrelac- just like cables, just like kitchner stitch, and just like short rows- isn't as hard as I made it out to be.
Skeeter Beanie

I am really enjoying the workshop, so far, even though when I first signed up I was under the impression it was a video class like the one I had taken before. (Fit Your Knits class with Stephanie Japel.) It is not a video at all, just a series of well-taken, well-described photographs with very clear details to what your next step is. Not what I expected, but still useful.

I think my favorite part is that I learned how to knit backwards!

Project Stats:
Cascade 220 Wool

Yarn: Cascade 220 from the partial-ball bag
Needles: Size 6- down one size from the pattern
Mods- I did one extra tier before starting the decreases, because I thought it was looking short. Now that I think about it, that may have been a mistake because the rate of decreasing is much different in an entrelac hat than in a plain stockinette. If it turns out to be a bad idea, I'm not sure I will go back and fix it. It would be much easier to find someone with a big head.
Holy crappy webcam Batman!
I don't know. I'm barely at the first set of decreases and it is already pretty big.... And I know from experience that Cascade blocks out huuuuge. But I was thinking I wanted it to be sort of slouchy. We shall see. It is not, after all, about having a knit hat. It's about learning new techniques and facing up to your challenges.

So does having entrelac under my belt make me feel like a "Real Knitter"? Sorta. But only because I made the effort to learn something new. I love that about knitting!

Thanks for reading and check out more WIPS at Tamis Amis. ^_^

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tiny Feet

I am an auntie once again.
Welcome to the world, baby C
We've been waiting for this little girl to make her debut, and she decided to grace us with her presence 10 days late.
Of course I have a few baby knits for her: The Hello Baby Cardigan, and The Gigantic Pink Blanket have been done for a while now. But the second I heard the news (I got a text message at 5:30 am) I got the hankering to make some little booties too. It may have had something to do with the fact that my brother sent me a picture of her tiny little naked feet.

After a bit of rummaging though ravelry and stash, I decided to use some Koigu Premium Palette (purchased for my BKQ) to make the Saartjes booties.

The buttons kind of overwhelm the whole thing, but rummaging through my button stash produced nothing smaller. Well, that's not true, there were some pink buttons but I liked the contrasting blue.
Even though that makes them look kind of like a shocked Homer Simpson when you turn it upside down.
I did modify the pattern in that, instead of working a long-tail cast on for the straps I got lazy and just did a backwards cast on. You can see the adverse effect of that in the corner between strap and bootie on the left. I plan on just tightening that up later on. You know, when I'm not so sick of weaving things in. It's shocking, actually, the number of ends to weave in for these tiny little shoes. I'll post a picture when I finish the second one.
And what's that?
Oh yeah, that's right: I learned how to graft garter stitch.
Helluva lot better than the slipper I made for myself!!
Where I was too lazy to even look up HOW to graft garter stitch.

It actually turned out to be much easier than I had expected. Easier, in my opinion, than stockinette kitchner, which is very interesting since I must have done "regular" kitchner at least 100 times more than I have done it on garter.

Also, I just want to say how much I appreciate having a knitting blog. It means that when I want to jump on my facebook and shout out to the world, "I can kitchner on garter!!!" I no longer have to deal with the inevitable "what?" "huh?"s and instead can just post it here. You know, for the people who know what the hell I'm talking about.

One bootie down.
I have a DMV adventure today before I get to meet my new niece, so I'll be using that time to work on the second one.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Week 27...of the Super Stitches Knitting Project

(In which I knit my way through a stitch dictionary 3 swatches at a time... Used to be a weekly thing but now more like whenever I feel like it.)

This time my challenges were:
1) Overlapping Leaves
2) Bamboo Stitch
3) Woven Ladder Stitch

Week 27 Swatches
 SWATCH 1:  Overlapping Leaves

This pattern was much easier to execute than I had thought at first glance. It was actually quite fun, and because of the center 3 stitches (M1, K1 M1) it was very easy to catch a mistake.
Overlapping Leaves Swatch
I imagine using this stitch pattern for the drapey part of a sleeveless tank. Sort of like this crocheted top with a plain bust area and then this leaf pattern for the part that skirts out. The only problem for using it with a garment is that it is a 24 st (plus 1) repeat, but of course you could work around that.
I think it a nice stitch and the more repeats the more attractive it is. I imagine it in a nice silk blend.

SWATCH 2: Bamboo Stitch
This was an easy 2 row repeat.
Bamboo Stitch Swatch
 I realize this is not the best picture in the world, but it's been rainy over here so I'm forced to photograph indoors. Here's a sort of close-up.
The way this stitch is made is you do a yarn over, knit two stitches, then pass the yo over those two stitches. And then the ws rows are just purled. It is really easy and yet makes this interesting texture. I imagine it at the bib of a sweater, or even as a substitute rib at the neckline. It is rather stretchy, and the more you stretch it the more holey it looks. I find myself wondering if it would look even cooler at a large gauge...

SWATCH 3: Woven Ladder Stitch
Another easy stitch pattern with big results.
Woven Ladder Swatch
(Please ignore the incredibly loose bind off. I bound off purlwise.)
This time, you bring the yarn forward and slip 3 stitches, put the yarn back in place and knit 5. This is repeated with a staggered effect over 8 rows.
Not a stretchy swatch, but still quite attractive and achieved with minimal effort. I've seen a cousin of this pattern used in socks, but really I can't think of much use for it. Aside from afghan squares, although it isn't reversible. Oh well.

That's that for this week.

Next time I am working on:
1) Ripple Stitch
2) Double Trellis Pattern
3) Cross Stitch
All of which look intimidating to some degree, especially in combination with the fact that I have a 2 year old vying for my attention.
Happy Knitting!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Mara Shawl

So I think it's time to tackle my longest-standing WIP.
I knitted myself a Mara shawl in June of 2010, and it was so quick and is such a wonderful shawl. I made it with bulky yarn and it came out really big and cozy.
(Really big.)
It's one of my favorite knits to wear, and I love that I can wrap and tie it around my waist so it stays put.
Not incredibly classy, but very warm.
Ain't goin' nowhere.
Anyways, the reason I'm showing you this incredibly old finished object is because of what happened once I showed it to my mom: "OH! Ceci, make me one!!! .... But bigger."
Well, of course, she's my mom and I love her and I was high on new shawl and I thought it was the most charming pattern in the world and I happened to have a bunch of yarn in the stash that would be perfect so.... on June 8th 2010 I cast on for the second Mara shawl.

Knit with Bryspun Kid n Ewe on size 7's
I'm sure you can guess what happened: The pattern quickly lost it's charm.
There was the sensation that I "totally just knit this" and that "it's quickly turning into summer so who needs a huge wool/mohair shawl anyways?" and to top it off, "garter stitch is making me insane!!"
But I worked on it steadily for about a week, knitting a few hundred yards into the thing before realizing I dropped a stitch a few inches back, trying and failing to pick it up cleanly and eventually frogging an entire ball's worth of yarn and throwing it into the closet.
Where it has sat.

I stole the needles for other projects on several occasions, but mostly it just sat.
And sat.

And now, finally, it is time.
I have forgiven it for the dropped stitch, and for the mohair being slightly itchy, and for being miles of endless garter stitch. This shawl has seen so many projects cast on and bound off while it has sat miserable in the closet. After finishing a cabled sweater in less than a month, I just... I don't know, I guess I just feel bad about it. Not to mention my mom's birthday is coming up in April!

So here is where I am at, in comparison to my monstrous shawl (which my mom has stolen on more than one occasion, perhaps as a reminder that I haven't finished hers.)

It needs quite a bit more before I can start the edging. I'm not sure how much bigger to make it, especially since my mom is smaller than myself, but I have plenty of this yarn so I'm thinking I'll knit 2 more balls into it before the ribbing. The rows are pretty long already, and it's sort of driving me nuts. I am so glad they invented TV. Also I'm glad it's rainy outside because it makes a nice snuggly couch project.

So that's what I'm working on.... Miles and miles of garter stitch.