Saturday, December 10, 2011

FO: Mistake Rib Mobius Cowl

At Thanksgiving, my sister was flipping through Mom's knitting magazines, and she said she thought this cowl was cute.  I took that as an invitation to get out the fat needles!

I most often knit on US 5s, whether I'm knitting with worsted weight or fingering weight for a shawl.  So going up to US 10.5s was crazycakes!  I couldn't believe how quickly this chunky stuff knit up!  I did the first two inches on 11s as the pattern calls for, but I thought the pattern looked too sloppy.  I always have to go down at least one needle size.

This pattern is a complete piece of cake, but the grafting is serious business.  In fact, dear C starting talking to me halfway through the grafting, and I completely lost my place and had to rip back and figure out where I was.  It is not perfect--there are places where I definitely went awry and twisted stitches.  But it's not so terrible that a non-knitter will be able to pick out the mistakes.  I give myself a B- on the grafting. 

This cowl is not something I would have ever knit for myself.  Now that it's done, though, I think it's adorable.  Maybe I'll have to make one for myself?

Pattern: Mistake Stitch Mobius
Yarn: Katia Peru
Ravelry page

In Christmas gift knitting news, I am still on schedule.  But unless I find a way to knit 8000 stitches today, I will be behind.  I am coming up with Plan B.   

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

UGH! Total craft FAIL.

So last night, I finished off the waistband on Vogue 8749, and I did a bang up job of it.  It looked great.  And then I tried it on, and it was so huge, I could almost pull it off with the zipper closed.  I made the size based on my measurements, and I even did a tissue fit, but I guess, since it's cut on the bias, the fabric is stretchy and made for a bigger waistline than I anticipated.  Even though the waist measurement printed on the tissue matched my waist measurement.  Oh well.  It doesn't matter if I was right or not because it clearly is too big. 

I'm going to make it a lemonade kind of situation.  I think this fabric really needs to be lined, so I've decided to rip off all the facing and line it instead. 

Meanwhile, I have gift knitting to do.  So I sit down with my current WIP.  I'm halfway through row 5 when I discover a terrible mistake.  I consider myself an expert when it comes to fudging things.  It can always be eased in.  But not this.  Halfway through the row, I realized that two rows back, I only did half of the pattern repeat.  So half the row is drastically off. 

I've never had to rip out knitting like that before.  But there really wasn't any other option.  So I threaded a needle, made myself a lifeline, and ripped away. 

Now it's 10:48 pm, and I've lost ground on not one, but two WIPs.  And the days are ticking by. 

Back to row 1. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

FO: February Lady Sweater!

I thought it would be February before I finished it, but I wrapped it up in the middle of November.  It was just the thing to wear for Thanksgiving.

I made the 37.5 size.  My bust is 38", but I did not want this sweater to be big and baggy and dowdy.  Plus, I know the garter stitch and the lace block out like crazy, so I figured that I would probably get it to fit with zero ease.  I was right!  It's just a teeny bit tight at the upper arms, but once I pull it on, it's just fine.

Yes, I did make my daughter and me matching sweaters.  This was a little unintentional.  I chose yarn for both projects several months apart, and I didn't realize how close in color they were.  Oh well.  It's not like they're frilly, floral Laura Ashley dresses. 

My favorite part is the buttons.  I wanted something that would stand out and compliment, and I got the idea to use a vintagey floral fabric and cover my own buttons.  My mom helped me find the right fabric when we visited them in Ashland, OR in October.  I think they came out great!  I don't think yellow is a color I can really wear, but a small splash of yellow works.

So I'm happy with it!  It does feel, though, like it doesn't really count as a sweater.  It definitely is a sweater, and I knit a sweater's worth of yarn, but I didn't learn anything new in this project.  I've made the FBS twice, so I can do this lace pattern in my sleep.  And the fit isn't hugely challenging because most of the cardi is open and there's a lot of ease to play with.  For my next trick, I will pick something a little more advanced.  But that will have to wait 'till January.  I have gift knitting to do!

Pattern: February Lady Sweater
Yarn: Cascade 220 Heathers, 100% wool
Needles: US 6
Ravelry page

Sunday, November 20, 2011

FO: McCalls 6048

Here's the thing about sewing: it goes at the speed of light.  At least compared to knitting.  I got the fabric in the mail on Tuesday, and I wore this cardigan on Friday.  A little instant gratification is just the thing to break up the monotony of long-term knitting projects.

After many years of knitting and learning about knitting, I know a lot about fiber composition and drape and needle size and swatching.  When it comes to fabric, I know pretty much nothing.  So I ordered a Rayon Jersey without knowing exactly what that is.  It's the color of chocolate milk, and pretty much the consistency of chocolate milk too.  It's basically a liquid.  It took forever to lay it out wrinkle-free with matching selvedges.  I'm not one to complain about winding yarn, but even if I were, I'd rather wind a billion skeins of yarn than fight those phantom wrinkles.

I had three yards of fabric, and it took every last inch of it for the large size, view D.  After the cutting, sewing was a snap.  I really didn't have any problems.  I followed the directions exactly.

I really like it!  I know it's very possible that I like it mainly because I made it and because it's the first sewn garment I've made for myself in a million years.  I'm not sure the color is great on me, but I wanted a neutral that wasn't grey.  And the fabric is so drapey and thin.  I like it, but it's a little too thin for the collar/edging.  Maybe I should have added interfacing?  Or maybe that would have made it awkwardly stiff compared to the rest of the garment?

I'd really like to make another one--maybe view C--in a darker color in a heavier weight.  Maybe dark purple?

Next up: McCalls 5974, the perfect wrap knit dress.  The fabric I got for that is a bit heavier and thicker, so maybe it won't take an hour just to lay out.  After that dress is cut and half-assembled, then I'll see about buying fabric for another dress.  Or skirt.  But no way am I going to stash fabric and buy patterns and let sewing take over my life like yarn has.

I also finally finished my FLS!  It's blocking, so maybe tomorrow afternoon I can take some pictures!

Monday, November 14, 2011

long day, good day

One of my favorite lyrics is from a Rusted Root song:  "It's been a long day, and it ended about an hour ago.  We'll get us some milkshakes, and head off and see the show." 

It's been a long day, but a good day.  Our nanny had car trouble and couldn't make it, which threw the day a bit out of whack.  At first, I was annoyed that my day and schedule were disrupted, but I took Little A to work with me for a few hours, and people there had a great time playing with her.  I still accomplished the things I needed to, and I got to spend extra quality time with my little sweetie.  I had a big meeting late in the evening, and that went well. 

It's so comforting to end a long day with knitting.  I'm going to check a few blogs and see what others have finished today, but I will not (Meredith, I'm talking to you) get lost down the rabbit hole of the internet and not get to my own knitting.  So now I'm putting my feet up, getting out the FLS and watching Cheers reruns on Netflix!  I will finish this FLS or fall asleep trying! 

Friday, November 11, 2011

trying something new ...

I went a little nuts this week reading blogs, being inspired and planning projects.  That wouldn't be unusual, except that I wasn't reading knitting blogs.  I read sewing blogs.  Since Little A's Halloween costume was a success, I started thinking I should start sewing a little bit.

One of my favorite knitting/sewing blogs is Green Apples.  I found her through Ravelry about a year ago, but most of her current creations are sewn garments.  She is crazy talented!  Last week, she shared projects that she'd like to make this fall and winter, and this one caught my eye:

This is McCalls 6048.  I love the belted versions of this cardigan!  They look pretty simple, and I found myself saying, "I should do that!"  So I started clicking like a mad woman and found others who had already made it.  This led me to discover lots of other great blogs and other garments I might want to make.  I also added McCalls 5974 to my queue:

Apparently, this was voted the best pattern of 2010.  Scads of bloggers have said how flattering and easy this pattern is.  I have a serious lack of winter work dresses, so I'm going to give this one a try after the cardigan.

I checked out our local Joann's, the only fabric store for hours, and I was surprised how expensive patterns are!  The fabric selection was so-so, but nothing that I was really excited about.  So I got busy clicking again, and found everything I need online.  I found the patterns for $5 each on ebay, and I bought fabric from

I'm super excited about these patterns!  I grew up sewing, but I haven't really done very much since I was a little kid.  I really had no idea that there were so many people out there sewing fashionable clothes.  I'm excited about the possibilities of making clothes tailored exactly to my tastes, less expensively than buying them.

But I'm also a little apprehensive.  I'm a pretty good knitter, but it took years and years to gather all that information and skill.  I am a pretty inexperienced sewer.  I have all the basic skills, but when it comes to altering a pattern to fit me--sort of the point of sewing--I'm pretty clueless.  I'm of two minds: I'm excited to learn something new, but I'm also not looking forward to not feeling completely competent.  That's good though!  I need to push myself to try new things.

I figured that I could get a little more sewing practice before all my internet booty arrives, so I started on a jumper for Little A.  This is Simplicity 2574.  It has a bunch of different options and adornments, but I went for something pretty simple.

I cut it last night and worked on it for about two hours total today.  Tomorrow, I'll install the zipper and hem it!  It's really dark, so the pictures aren't that great, but I think it's turning out pretty cute!

Meanwhile, I'm still knitting!  No matter how inspired I get with other things, knitting's still my first love!  I'm still slogging through my FLS.  This thing might be the death of me.  I've finished both sleeves, so I just need to knit until it's long enough and call it quits.

I've done the first pattern repeat of my Thundercloud Cowl, and I'm enjoying it.  But I've found two amazing bulky cowl patterns lately that I would love to be wearing right now, since it's finally getting cold.  I cast on for a Super Cupcake in Berroco Ultra Alpaca, but I'm not sure it's the right yarn for the job.  I didn't do a swatch and now I'm kicking myself.  I need to wash a swatch and see how it stretches and blooms.  So I might cut my yarn and swatch, and if the yarn doesn't puff up quite a bit in washing, then I'll frog it and get some Malabrigo worsted, which is what I wanted to use in the first place. 

Here's my goal: finish the FLS before my fabric and patterns arrive in the mail!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

To knit or not to knit?

Should I knit christmas presents?  The last couple years, I've knocked myself out trying to give everyone a hand knit for Christmas.  In a few cases, it's gone well.  In most cases, it's been pretty flat.  It's not always a great experience for me as the knitter and giver, and I fear it's been disappointing for the receiver as well.

For me, it turns a low-pressure elective activity into a mandatory chore dictated by a deadline.  If everything goes smoothly without any hiccups, then it works out okay.  But when something goes wrong--when a project takes twice as long as I'd planned, when I make a mistake, when the FO comes out lame instead of awesome--then I panic.  Since I love knitting and refuse to let myself panic about something that I do just for the joy of it, then I quit.  So last year, when I ran into a few problems finishing all those French Press Felted Slippers, I just quit.  Which is why a few people received slippers in January, and the others received fingerless mitts in February.  (Sorry, sister!)

The other bummer for me is that it takes away a lot of knitting time from things I really want.  Knitting is where I get to be pretty selfish, and I don't like giving up my knitting time for people if I'm not sure they really want it in the first place.

Which leads me to my second point.  I think there are some people who really appreciate the value of the returnable gift.  Obviously, hand knits do not fit in this category.  There are another group of people on my list who really don't need knits.  Now, I know.  Everyone needs knits.  But some people really don't need hand knits.  This group almost entirely overlaps with the group that likes to be able to return their gifts and get exactly what they wanted in the first place.

So with these three reasons firmly in mind--it's too stressful, it takes time away from things I really want to knit, and I don't think people want them anyway--I decided this year that I wasn't going to knit anyone anything.

Except my mom, of course.  She's a knitter, so she'd love something hand knit.

And maybe my sister-in-law, because she is an artist and a crafter, and she's said that she loves handmade gifts.

And I did just find the perfect pattern for my sister, who did hint last month that she might like a handknit cowl.

And you know, my dad might like a knit hat, since he liked the scarf I made him last year, and I've been wanting to make Koolhass for somebody. 

And those Christmas buntings I've been seeing look so festive and adorable, and would look great in our new house. 

So now it's the middle of November, and I may or may not have a list of holiday knits that need my attention.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

cast on!

"Before beginning, thread 360 beads onto working end of yarn ..."

Saturday, November 5, 2011

bare needles

So the only thing I really have on the needles right now is my FLS.  I'm feeling pretty bored with it, but I keep on trucking because I want to be done so I can move on to other things.

Somewhere along the way, I think I've become a monogamous knitter.  I think it was with C's vest.  I was so afraid I'd still be knitting that thing at my retirement party that I decided I would just work on it until it was done.  Surprise!  It was done in four weeks.  That method worked so well, I've cranked out one project at a time ever since.

But now I'm getting bored, and I think I need something else on the needles.  Having some variety in projects to choose from keeps my mojo from going flat.

So I think I'm going to cast on a new lace project.  I have all the materials I need to start my Thundercloud Cowl.
Pattern picture from
I'm so excited to use this Knitpicks Aloft!  I haven't used mohair before, but I've always wanted to.  I'm looking forward to these beads, too.  I'm not usually into sparkle, but for some reason, I'm excited about it with this cowl. 

So I think I'll cast this on tonight or tomorrow, and hopefully the excitement of a new project will seep into my old project, too.

Friday, November 4, 2011

FO: Daybreak

At one point, it seemed like everyone on Ravelry was talking about or making Daybreak.  Somehow, I found myself on the shawlette train this summer, and I made a bunch of them.  So I figured I was ready to tackle this one.

After I cast on, my first impression was, "Holy stockinette, Batman.  This is a lot of purling."  Just at the point I was starting to get bored, the stripes started.  Now, it's still basically stockinette, but the variation of the stripes and the slipped stitches kept it interesting.

This shawl is so architectural.  It's lines are crisp and straight, something that's not common in knitting.  I had no idea it would turn out so huge!  But I love it.

I used two different kinds of yarn.  The grey is Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light and the white is Valley Yarns Charlemont.  I enjoyed working with both of them, and they worked well together.  The Ultra Alpaca is a little coarser, with stray fibers.  It's not sheddy, just a little tiny bit fury.  The Charlemont is a bit shiny and very smooth.  I very rarely use two different yarns in one project.  I was a little nervous about them blocking differently, but I had no problems at all.
Ravelry page

Thursday, November 3, 2011

FO parade

While we were on vacation, I started and finished a couple of things.  They need a moment in the spotlight.

On the way to the airport, I bound off the Rose Red beret, a Ysolda pattern.

I used Valley Yarns Deerfield, an alpaca and silk blend in a DK weight. 

This yarn is very inexpensive, but feels like a treat.  Ysolda, of course, has beautiful designs that are fun to knit.  A combination of lace and cables = perfect.

Ravelry project page

I finished Little A's second February Baby Sweater.  It is pretty stinking cute on her.

I lovelovelove this Elizabeth Zimmermann pattern.  It's zippy fast, practical and beautiful.  I used Valley Yarns Superwash in the teal colorway.  I think the bright orange buttons take a sweet, classic sweater and make it just a teeny bit edgy.

Ravelry project page

Then I cast on a Shawl Collared Cowl for my mom using Cascade Yarns Baby Alpaca Chunky.

I'm not quite decided on this one yet.  It seems like there needs to be a button to keep the bottom layer more stable.  If I had a coat on over it, maybe that would keep it in place better.  I have some yarn to make myself one. 

Ravelry project page

I've finished a couple other things since we got home, but I'm still slogging away on my February Lady Sweater.

How wrong would it be to cast on another sweater before I finish this one?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Blocking is amazing.  It's like magic.  I love looking at all those little stitches, relaxing into their new permanent home, all lined up like obedient soldiers.  Seeing pieces on the blocking boards is the first time I see what I've accomplished.  It's almost as satisfying to me as wearing the finished object. 

It does take some effort.  I spent about 40 minutes blocking this piece--longer than I've spent blocking anything else, even whole sweaters.  It took that long because I threaded blocking wires through every edge.  I wanted to avoid the little shark teeth that can result from blocking a smooth edge with pins.  When the piece dries, it pulls in a bit, leaving the fabric pinned down looking jagged.  So I spent the time with the blocking wires.  And in the scheme of a two week project, 40 minutes to make it look finished is nothing.

I learned about blocking from my mom and the internet.  It used to sound so complicated and mysterious, like it was this warp zone that only the really good knitters knew about.  But it's actually one of the easiest knitting techniques you can use.

I wet block everything.  I let the item soak in warm water for 15 minutes.  Longer if I forget about it.  Then I gently squeeze it out, not wringing it, since this can damage fibers.  Then I lay it out on a towel, roll the towel up, and kneel on it.  It's very important to make sure the cats are locked out of the room from this point on, since wet wool drives them bonkers.

Next, I spread the piece out, either on my blocking mats, or on an old sheet spread out over the floor if the blocking mats aren't big enough.  We have a spare bedroom with plenty of floor real estate for blocking, but before we moved to this house, I used the dining room table to spread out the blocking mats.  Then I'd put the mats on top of the fridge.  They were out of the way, out of the cats' reach, and--bonus--it was nice and warm up there.

Then it's just a matter of pulling and squishing into shape.  It's pretty important to have a tape measure with you so you can make sure your pieces match your measurements or schematic.  For the number of tape measures I own, I find myself without one an inexcusable number of times.  Even with shawls, where size isn't very important, you need a tape measure to make sure everything is symmetrical.  I always let my pieces sit for 48 hours.  I figure, even in the most humid of weather, they're totally dry.  And it's good to practice patience. 

I blocked my Daybreak two nights ago, which means, it's time to take out the wires and see what I've created!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


It's not an original thought, but what are the interwebs for if not for stealing other peoples' good thoughts?  This month, I'm going to attempt to blog each day. 

The challenge, I think, will be pictures.  It's getting dark earlier, which means less time for pictures.  And for some reason, getting out the usb cable feels like a chore.  Remember when you had to drive to the drug store, wait three whole days, and then pick up a little bundle of paper with your pictures on them?  So I don't have a leg to stand on when it comes to complaining about opening up one drawer and plugging in one cable. 

So here's what I've been up to lately: sewing!  I made my little girl a sheep costume for Halloween.  I used Simplicity 2068. 

I took sewing lessons when I was little, but it's been a while since I really sewed anything.  I have an adorable little toddler now, and it seems like I should do what I can to capitalize on the cuteness.  This learn to sew with big fuzzy felt pattern seemed like a good way to get back into it. 

This pattern was definitely incredibly easy.  I think it took me three hours from cutting to hemming.  Which is good, since I started the whole project on October 29.  I made size 2, and I think it will fit for next year!  I love how it came out.  I recommend the pattern!

She was a sheep.  I was a shepherd.
I have a couple of other things in my queue for her now.  I'm in the middle of making Simplicity 2016. 

I started it a couple of weeks ago, but ran into a problem.  I was trying to put in a zipper without a zipper foot.  (Remember how bothered I am when it comes to getting out my usb cord?  Yeah, driving all the way to the fabric store for a replacement zipper foot wasn't as appealing as just trying to do without.)  I accidentally hit the metal piece at the top of the teeth, and my machine died.  The repairman said that I had an electrical problem and a timing problem, and he fixed everything for $65.  And now my machine works beautifully! 
I got it back just in time to make the Halloween costume, so now nothing's stopping me from finishing up the dress.

I also am thinking about some jumpers from Simplicity 2574.

When I was dressing Little A the other day, though, I tried to put on a new purple jumper and she howled!  She cried real tears, like a jumper was too much of a life disappointment to tolerate at 7:30 am.  So I don't know if she's against jumpers or against the color purple or what.  I might see if I can get her to wear another jumper before I invest time in this one. 

The only problem with the sewing is that I can't knit at the same time.  Choices, choices.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


We took 10 days vacation at the beginning of October and flew to California to see my parents.  I love spending time with my family and I love getting to be back in the West.  I feel the right size out there, where the horizon is so far away and the mountains are enormous and the sky is open and breezy and light.  I know Appalachians love the comfort of their mountains, but I usually end up feeling like a sweater that's been crammed in the bottom dresser drawer all summer.  When I get out West, I feel like I can finally take a deep breath. 

In order to take vacation, we had to work like crazy the week before and the week after.  And getting there and back was almost heart-attack inducing.  Actually, getting there was a dream.  Little A is 18 months old, so the airlines say she can fly for free.  Flying for free means you don't pay for a seat, which means you don't get one.  On the way out, we had an extra seat in our row, so she had a seat to herself and had a great time.  She slept and I gripped about not bringing my knitting.  I didn't think I would have a free hand to myself, let alone two, and I didn't want to chance my needles through airport security for nothing.

The way back, however ... different story.  Our connecting flight to LAX was delayed by 3 hours, so we missed our connecting flight to Pittsburgh.  They rerouted us on a different airline, which left us with a 35 minute layover in LAX.  Did you know Terminal 5 at LAX is under major construction?  It looked like a perfect backdrop for a Halloween thriller about someone getting murdered at an abandoned airport, except that it was absolutely crammed with people.  We didn't have boarding passes for the flight, just a tiny itinerary that said our plane was in Terminal 6. 

Someone in the temporary signs department at LAX has had a tragic life, where humor can only be found in sending hapless strangers running all over the place in a panic.  We ran the length of the terminal twice looking for passage to Terminal 6 before someone told us we had to go to Gate 62B or whatever to take a shuttle.  The sign for the shuttle was huge.  The words that told you that the shuttle went to Terminal 6 were half an inch tall.  They wouldn't let us on the shuttle with our stroller, so they told us to get on the elevator, walk through the tunnel, run into the wall at platform 9 3/4 and then get on another elevator to Terminal 6. 

The right elevator was hidden behind some kind of forcefield that kept it indestinguishable to the mortal eye.  We did, however, find a wrong elevator that took us from the bottom of a broken escalator to the top of the broken escalator.  We were totally alone, way back in some terminal warp zone, and no one was even pretending to pardon the mess.  Chains were hanging from the ceiling and tools were laying around and I would not have been surprised to see a bloody body strewn across the escalator.  Maybe I've been watching too many episodes of Castle.

Once we found the right elevator, it dumped us into an eternally long hallway with solitary light bulbs every thirty feet.  I found the breath to shout to C, "Are we in a mental institution horror movie?" as we ran with all we had.  At this point, I remembered that we were parents of a small child, and checked to make sure she was still in her stroller.  She was.  Then we passed a sign that said something like, "If you hear a siren, evacuate the tunnel.  The gate will close and the tunnel will fill with carbon monoxide."  We held our breath as we ran under a guillotine-like gate. 

We came up the elevator on the other side into a glorious terminal.  It was the Taj-Mahal of terminals.  It was the holy land of Terminal 6 for those who had spent forty years wandering through the wilderness of Terminal 5.  We felt victorious as we approached plasma flat-screen panels ... which told us that our flight was boarding from a gate in Terminal 5. 

Half a second and many expletives later, we were forcing our way onto the shuttle, stroller and all.  Now we're outside, riding across the tarmac we just ran under, and it's 90 degrees.  We're wearing sweaters and coats because, after all, it's October.  We make it back to the first level of hell, aka Terminal 5, and I take off, leaving C with the stroller.  I manage to eek out, "Detroit!" as I pass out on the gate counter, and the woman behind it, who apparently has had such a blessed career that she's never had to deal with any one missing boarding call, says, "Why are you so late?" 

They shove us onto the fully boarded plane without boarding passes, and when I tell the flight attendant I don't have a seat assignment, she says, "That's not my job.  You'll have to talk to a ticket agent."  The ticket agent has followed us onto the plane and tells us to sit wherever we can find a seat.  I find a seat between two women who thought they had scored a little extra room on a four hour flight.  They didn't seem eager to welcome two very sweaty people to their tiny neighborhood.  C got the last seat.  In an emergency exit row.  Which meant little A was all mine. 

Our last flight from Detroit to Pittsburgh was boarding when we arrived, but it was only 3 gates down.  So we made it.  And when it comes to flying across the country, any trip that ends with "we made it" is a good trip.  And it's better than taking covered wagon across the prairie for four months.  And we got to spend a lot of time with my family.  So I'd run through Terminal 5 again if I had to. 

Another great thing about being on vacation, in addition to losing 2 pounds on the LAX cardio workout, is getting in a ton of knitting.  I have heaps of FOs to show you.  Next time! 

Friday, September 23, 2011

FO ta-da

When I ran into problems with my Angostura, I immediately cast on an Abrazo.  I needed to get back on the horse, as it were.  And I needed something that I knew would be a success, where size wouldn't matter.  So I grabbed some Knitpicks Gloss fingering that I received in a swap and cast on without so much as a thought of my queue.  I have some things I really want to knit, especially before the holidays.  But in the end, I needed a project I didn't have to think about at all, so Abrazo fit the bill. 

I see myself making this again, especially in lace weight.  I'd love to do the beads.  In fact, I almost changed my mind after the first six rows and did them, but I disciplined myself to just get through this one fast so I could get back to my scheduled knitting.  (Product knitter, party of one.)

I'll be giving this to my friend Janice, who loves this dark teal color.  She lives in Southern California.  She doesn't need super warm hand knits, but everyone can always use a pretty scarf. 

Ravelry project page

The Angostura redo is coming along.  Progress may or may not have suffered due to the casting on of a February Lady Sweater.  But it definitely has.  No worries!  I'm getting back to it tonight!  I will prevail and wear this vest, and people will point at me and say, "There goes the woman with the fabulous vest!" 

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Last week, I finished blocking and seaming up my Angostura, and I popped it on immediately, excited to see my first fall garment. 

It fits great around.  But it's way too short!  It hits me at exactly the wrong spot so it makes me look wider than I am. 

My disappointment was visceral.  I was simultaneously completely deflated and really mad.  I immediately cast on a shawlette without thinking or consulting my queue.  I just wanted to knit something that wouldn't depend on fit. 

But the next day, I realized that all was not lost.  I would just rip out the vest to the beginning of the armhole shaping, knit two more inches, and go from there.  The vest wasn't a total loss.  It wasn't a loss at all.  I have plenty of yarn, and it will take me a week, tops.  The good news is that it fits really well.  The neckline is beautiful. 

I didn't get the row gauge of 9 rows/inch.  I was at 8 rows/inch.  But I did all the calculations correctly.  The vest matches the schematic perfectly.  It matches my measurements.  What it does not match are the measurements of my favorite vest.  So now I know to always measure a favorite garment before I begin. 

Knitting more to the body before the armhole shaping will move the waist-shaping cables down.  I think it will be okay.  We'll see. 

So this FO moves back into the UFO pile. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

FO ta-da!

A friend from childhood is having a baby in November.  I've used several patterns for baby things that I'd love to make again--Baby Surprise Jacket, February Baby Sweater, Granny Stripe Blanket--but I still have several in my queue that I want to try, so I never seem to get back to those.  Abby's Blanket bumped those others back down the queue.  It's from Kirsten Kapur, whose designs I love. 

It's a lace blanket, started in the center from a crochet cast-on.  I'd never done the crochet cast on before, and although it was a bit fiddly, I managed it pretty well.  It makes for a beautiful little circle in the middle of the blanket. 

I'm very pleased with how it came out.  My only reservation is that it's very stretchy.  When my daughter was tiny and couldn't hold her head up, it seemed like I was always struggling to hold her in a supportive way and keep all her blankets and clothes wrapped around her, at the same time.  I wonder if a blanket with just a little more substance would be better.  But you can never have too many blankets, and a stretchy one will come in handy at some point!

Final verdict: I'm glad I made it.  I think it's beautiful and it was a fun knit.  But I don't think it quite makes the queue of baby items I want to make again. 

Pattern: Abby's Blanket
Designer: Through the Loops
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash
Ravelry project page

Friday, September 9, 2011

sweet knitting dreams

Every night, I read my 16 month old daughter two or three books as part of our bedtime routine.  I generally read the same books for a couple of weeks, then switch one or two of them around.  A few days ago, I realized that there is a very subtle theme running through my current selection: knitting! 

We start off with a book that I sing, Wheels on the Bus, illustrated by Sylvie Kantorovitz Wickstrom.  I love the detail in this book, and even though we've read it about 749 times, I still find new things in it.  The only draw back is that all the people in this book are white, so the lack of diversity is a bummer.  On the last page, as the people on the bus get off at a park and the bus drives away, one woman joins her knitting friend:

Next up is a clever, chipper book, Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw, illustrated by Margot Apple. 

These sheep have adventures in their jeep, but they aren't very careful.  The jeep ends up in heap after they crash it into a tree.  As they're picking up the pieces, look what one of the sheep discovers:

Her knitting bag!  All her friends are sad, but she's sneaking off to work on her knitting.  She looks a bit ... sheepish. 

And then we finish up with the classic:

I love that it's getting some wear around the edges.  We've read it a few times!  I read this when I was a little girl, and I was so intrigued by all the things that were in the room.  A comb and a brush and a bowl full of mush.  And ...

And a quiet old lady who was knitting!  And whispering hush, of course. 

I love reading to my daughter, especially at bedtime, since she's quiet and still.  And seeing these little knitters every night is like a secret hidden in plain sight, just for me.  And now for you! 

By the way, the blanket in the background is an FO I need to show you!  Pictures tomorrow! 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

on the needles

Labor Day has passed, it's been raining for 24 hours and we had to use the quilt on the bed last night.  It's fall!  I am so looking forward to it.  I'm antsy to get to all the projects on my queue so I can wear them as the weather invites woolies out of the closet! 

I have one more obligation project before I can turn to purely selfish knitting.  It's my Abby's Blanket from Through the Loops, designated for a friend from high school who's having a baby in November.  I love this pattern and it's going to be hard to put this one in the mail. 

This lace blanket starts in the middle and is worked in the round.  I just finished the last pattern repeat, which means I have 424 stitches on the needles, and it's so squished, it looks like nothing but yarn spaghetti.  I'm so excited to cast off and see the blanket take shape as each stitch jumps off the needles.  I'm using Cascade 220 Superwash in an incredible heather teal, color 859.  The border is in a soft yellow which picks up on the yellow flecks in the heather.  Blocking should make this one beautiful!

I just couldn't wait to start some of my fall garments, so last week, I cast on my Angostura vest. 

This is in Berroco Vintage, a wool/acrylic blend I've been wanting to try.  It's very soft, inexpensive and hopefully easy to care for, but it doesn't scream acrylic.  This is color 51190 and is a beautiful heather with red and purple flecks. 

The pattern calls for a very tight row gauge of 9 rows to an inch.  I went down to US 5 needles, but could still only get 8 rows to the inch.  I blocked my swatch to the st/inch gauge, but it takes quite a bit of stretching to get there.  Despite the acrylic content, my swatch has held the blocking, so I'm hoping that the piece will block out to the measurements in the same way.  I've finished up the back and it looks beautiful.  I'm disciplining myself to wait on the front until I finish the blanket. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

knitting a go-go

Last night, C and I went to a high school football game!  I haven't been to a high school football game since at least 1997, assuming I went to a football game during my senior year.  I grew up in Southern California, and high school football was important, but not crazy important.  But now I live in a small southern town, and high school football is ... crazy important. 

We've lived in this small town for two months.  We weren't even in the stands before we'd run into seven people we know.  It was a beautiful night and it was fun to be out among a crowd.  I had some other things on my mind, and so I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to the game, but I was completely aware that we were beating the pants off the other guys. 

I also had something else to concentrate on:

Knitting!  I love knitting in public, but I was a little apprehensive about knitting at the most important event in our community.  Would the hard core fans be offended?  No.  No one cared.  And I finished three rounds on my Abby's Blanket!  I'm on the last repeat of the lace pattern, so each round is about 400 stitches, so three rounds is pretty decent. 

So I've found a perfect venue for knitting, and I get to be part of the big community event.  Bring on the rest of the season! 

Coming up next: an FO ta-da! 

Friday, August 26, 2011

yarn diets don't work

They say that diets don't work.  If you refuse yourself your favorite things to eat--say, chocolate--eventually you end up feeling deprived.  And when you're deprived, you feel hungry and sorry for yourself and like you deserve a little treat.  So then you end up eating a bunch of stuff--say, pretzels and cheese and popcorn and ice cream and PBJs--trying to compensate for missing out on a little bit of chocolate.

Guess what?  It works the same way with yarn, too.

Two weeks ago, I had this interpersonal struggle about whether or not I should by some good yarn at an extraordinary price.  It was on sale for three days and I had the perfect project for it--Angostura from Little Red in the City.  It was a serious craving.  But I knew that I had plenty of yarn and projects waiting for me.  I made a list of my stash and my queue, and that sobered me up a bit.  I didn't buy the yarn.

So I should feel virtuous, right?  All righteous and proud of myself?  Nope.  I feel sorry for myself.  Poor little me without a new vest for fall.  C will have a new vest (I'm about 95% finished with his Skye Tweed Vest), but not me.  Sob sob. 

Guess how I comforted myself?  I bought some yarn.

I got some Berroco Vintage, which I've been wanting to try for a while.  It's not as nice as the merino/alpaca might have been, and it was more expensive.  But I do think it will make a lovely vest, and I'm glad (relieved?) that I can start on a new fall vest for myself.

And guess what?  I got a few more things, too.  I went shopping with my mom, one of the only knitter friends I have, so she bought me a couple of things.

This is Cascade Baby Alpaca Chunky, and it is amazing!  This is for a Shawl Collared Cowl, a pattern I purchased in Never Not Knitting's fall sale.

Mom also bought some for me to make her the same cowl.

So I missed out on one sale, which would have given me a merino/alpaca vest for $18, and I ended up with three projects of yarn, worth about $60.  The moral of the story?  Yarn diets don't work.