WIP Wednesday 5/7/14 — Vacation Knitting

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Silly startitis. (I stole that word from the blogosphere… not that clever.) I didn’t want to lug my lovely almost-sweater around with me on my trip down to Dallas, so I packed a skein of sock yarn and my size 6 needles. I cannot seem to stop with the triangular shawls. Three stitch cast-on for that much loveliness? Yes, please! This is (Michael’s brand) Loops and Threads luxury sock yarn; I bought it quite a while ago, unable to resist the colors and softness. It is 10% cashmere, so it seemed shawl-worthy as opposed to sock-worthy. I was trying to create a pattern, and I have this lovely idea in my head. However, I didn’t want to do the math or use that much concentration without my notebooks and computer and stitch pattern books and favorite pencils. After starting three different projects two rows long, I gently ripped (’cause cashmere = clingy), then used my dependable tab cast-on to start the flow quickly. I wanted to visit with my friends and stitch along in an absentminded manner, not count and worry.  The worst mistake I can make in these shawls is missing a yarn-over, and that can easily be corrected on the next row.  I like to throw in a row of k2tog, yo every once in a while to add some interest, but for the most part I just knit and knit and it grows and grows. Non-stitchers always seem to think I’m making a hat at first.

Game in progress: I discovered a video game that stitchers and artists might like as much as gamers! It is called Blendoku. The point is to put colors in order. For example, one level shows a bright blue square and a grey-blue square with spaces in between, and the player must correctly place five blue-ish tiles on the board. That description should either sound really exciting or really pointless, and I am in the first camp. (sidenote: I recently upgraded phones, and now my Playstation trophy hunting has been lacking thanks to my endless desire to download casual games.) Most levels I am racing through, but every once in a while there is a level I cannot wrap my brain around. I have now been paying a little more attention to subtleties in colors. Such as how the shawl colors are as cool as the shades of pool water and capris, yet the army-green of the shorts contains much more brown and grey than the Kelly and hunter green shades in the yarn. Fascinating!

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Fennel Ale – Part 1

My first sweater. (I hear a chorus in my head sounding in a crescendo of amazement.) I love it.
I received a book on knitting sweaters for Xmas, but reading through the instructions I was a bit intimidated. The steps weren’t technically unfamiliar, just overwhelming put all in one project. So, when I heard about the winter sweater class/knit along at my favorite LYS, it seemed the next logical step. I was nervous about my skill level and speed and general awkwardness, but it turned out none of these things were of concern.
The awesome instructor Ann (here is her blog ) picked the Pumpkin Ale pattern by Ysolda Teague (Rav link). I am not into orange, yet the shaping on this sweater seemed perfect for my (or any) figure. When I signed up for the class, the sweetly sassy shop owner raised an eyebrow at me, “Have you made a sweater before?”
“No.” I mumbled. A worried asymmetrical expression crept upon my face.
She mirrored my concern, “We want everyone happy with their projects, and even Ann says it is challenging.”
“Hm.” My brain then went into data listing mode, “Well, I’ve done cables, shaping, short-rows, and picked up stitches. Just never in the same project.”
She waved her hand, communicating that I needn’t worry, and grinned, “Oh! You’ll be just fine.”
I only sort-of believed her, and therefore prepared (over)extensively for the first meeting. (I detailed the swatching on my Rav project page in case anyone else geeks out on such things…) I mentally picked my yarn, printed the pattern, practiced the cables, steamed the swatches, brought my highlighter, color coded pens, my needle set, and even arrived a few minutes early. Which is weird. Though I do often start things nice and well-organized before I putter out…

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I ended up using Berocco Vintage worsted in the color Fennel; I love the subtle flecks of yellow throughout the yarn and how the cable stitches pop. The super-fuzzy photo above seemed to be the best depiction on the actual color (at least on my screen). In class we read over the pattern practically line by line which gave me a much better understanding of how to tackle the sweater. I believe I would have been reading the pattern eternally rather than actually knitting it without the demonstration and translation! We were all assisted in choosing our correct size sweater and needle, discussed pattern errata, and started, steamed, or measured swatches. I was able to discuss all my overly thought out tidbits with a room full of like-minded women. I have stitch n bitch sessions with my best friend who crochets, but I had never been to any kind of knit night or knit along before. It was kind of great, a Socratic support group.
The back panel was first, complete with shaping built into the garter section between cables. I cast-on at the end of class but then continued at a local bar. It sounds strange but felt right sitting with friends in a large straight back armchair in an old Tudor-style hotel.  Plus it made the charts easier after having done set-up rows under the influence of whiskey sours.

Instead of looking at this post in my drafts for the next couple months, I think I’ll just publish it in parts. Perhaps the sweater will have sleeves during its next photo shoot!

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WIP Wednesday 1/14/2014

I love triangular shawls. And kitchen cotton. I started this lovely before x-mas, and have yet to complete it. My mom-in-law requested a big cotton shawl to throw around her shoulders in an off-white shade, so I am hopeful this will fit the bill. The three-stitch garter tab cast-on started things out; after that I could just knit mindlessly, as a couple yarn-overs are the only slow to the stockinette flow. I would like to do some kind of (very basic) lace edging to finish off the piece.

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This, on the other hand, is not mindless. The inner voice has nicknamed my version of Ashley Rao’s Biarritz Cloche “The Princess Frog.” I used Aunt Lydia’s Fashion 3 crochet thread and eventually found a needle to work – Skacel’s lace tip US1 (which is 2.5mm unlike every other “size 1″ needle I own!). The pattern called for double-pointed needles, but I found a 20″ circular to work best since stitches were jumping off my dpns. (Too many stitches for a 16″ not enough for a 24”.) I swatched, downsized needles,  and therefore did not cast on enough stitches initially. I SHOULD KNOW BETTER… I should have started over at that point.

Sooooo, do I frog the entire thing? The cloche intended for my dear sister is NOT going to fit her normal-person sized head. It is snug on my youth-sized head. This is my first color-work, my first slip-stitch pattern, and the smallest needle I have ever used. I think it is beautiful. My extremely stylish sis would probably like anything I knit for her, so I am quite tempted to just keep on chuckin and wear the cloche myself. Wise knitters say, “Don’t worry about a swatch. Your sweater will fit somebody…” Think I lucked out that my screw-up at least fits me!

A p.s. to the post from yesterday: I totally tried it. I hit publish, stood up, threw my arms over my head like I just won the 100-meter dash, and even pranced about a bit, bragging to the cats that I had finally finished a post. I’m going to do it again in a minute. I’m also going to try and keep Amy Cuddy and Elizabeth Zimmermann as mentors in my mind – just fake it until I become an opinionated knitter in my own right!

WIP Wednesday 12/04/2013

Hi, I’m Purl, and I’m a yarnaholic. (Spell-check thinks the word should be chocoholic; it is wrong.) The color of the yarn is Fijian Waters. Not sure if my camera and screen quite capture the beauty, but it is in the range of my favorite shades of blue. The brightest blue you could possibly find in nature reserved for water and sky and flowers and the occasional stripe on a tropical creature. The perfectly twisted fiber was draped across the chair for days, and I finally twisted it back up into a hank yesterday. It needs to be wound into something manageable, but me and Mr. Gamer have both enjoyed walking through the dining room and giving the yarn a squeeze. Some yarn I don’t want wound at the local shop, especially worsted and thicker yarns since the skeins have less yardage. I like to use two chairs and stand on a step-stool, so the yarn pulls easily. Music helps, too. Since I’m still novice, it is nice to experience the yarn before I knit with it. I find the knots and random fuzzies, and get a feel for it. I have a better idea which needles, which pattern to use. The drape isn’t a complete mystery. Yes, I still need to (should…might..) knit a swatch, but have a better starting point if I’ve never worked with the yarn.

Since yarn on a chair probably doesn’t count as a work-in-progress, lovely as it is, here are sock explosion pictures!

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Ann Budd’s Getting Started Knitting Socks has been a valuable reference.  Attempting magic loop in Patons stretch sock yarn in licorice. 5/6 Stitch per inch socks in Cascade 220 Sport on size 3 dpns are the off-white ones. The blue-ish one is Patons Classic Wool knitted on size 7 dpns.  All of these need blocking…I may invest in some sock blockers. I have project envy, as all of these are gifts. After X-mas, my own feet will be getting a pair of wool socks!

WIP Wednesday 11/20/13

I’ve started three posts over the last few days, but they are works-in-progress themselves. Sometimes words just won’t translate to the screen properly. Sentences spin in my mind, yet only two sit in the textbox… A certain amount of flow has to be reached to write, to knit, to game with ease. More on flow tomorrow.

Today’s WIP is good old Grandma’s Favorite dishcloth. I try to keep a dishcloth in my purse or car so I have a project no matter where I go. This one was put to work before it was even a cloth. The yarn absorbed some of a leaky-lidded iced coffee, and now the aloe-scented Sugar n Cream has stiff, frappuccino smelling bits. I prefer the smell to the aloe, honestly, but I’m currently attracted to variegated and bright greens. The coffee bits don’t photograph as nicely as they smell, hence the pile yarn atop the cloth. I already have about ten colors of this particular dishcloth pattern, but the four cast-on stitches just keep appearing on needles…

WIP Wednesday

Enterlac Throw

The blogosphere tells me that November happens to be a good time to post. I had heard of the novel writing challenge, but wasn’t aware of NaBloPoMo. I started a bit late, yet it should be a great challenge to post every day for the remainder of the month. It also happens to be National Knit a Sweater Month, but I don’t foresee that happening.

Many of my current projects are gifts, and I don’t want to share those photos. Enjoy instead my pride and joy of a WIP above – the Dragonrend throw. (Designed by Marly Bird. She hearted my Ravelry project. eeek!) I guess I didn’t take any pictures without my ps3 controller, but considering my project is named after a shout in Skyrim it’s quite fitting.

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/dragonscale-throw

The throw is featured in the first knitting magazine I ever bought; I LOVED it. Unfortunately even the beginner project in the mag was a challenge at the time (the spearmint cowl from yesterday), and the throw was listed as intermediate/experienced. I figured it would be some kind of dream project that I’d start someday once I had many years and skills under my belt. Now I know it is much harder to acquire a blanket’s worth of Malabrigo yarn than it is to learn entrelac.  Completing a hat, headband, socks, and dishcloths helped me space out learning decreases, increases, picking up stitches. However all skills in knitting are pretty much based on the knit stitch, and therefore don’t require learning as much as patience, practice, and concentration.
I learned to knit, and now knitting is teaching me…