Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Fortunate confluence of gifts

Isn't it nice when people ask you for gifts of things that you have the yarn for anyway?

My aunt from CA wants a pair of cotton socks. Enter the Cascade Fixation that Krista brought me back from a law-school-hunting trip. I hope it's not too loud...

No pair of socks I could knit could be scarier than this. How does Cascade think this is an advertisment for their yarn? If I didn't already own some, I would have run screaming.

My sister asked for something warm. When I tried to nail this down a little more, she asked for a fluffy soft scarf. I'll go one better: soft fluffy scarf in purple-y Noro Silk Garden and Silk Road Aran and a matching pair of Urban Rustic gloves.

The bottom gloves are for me. My partner talked me into buying them. (I believe his exact words were "you complain all the time about the cold. get the gloves.") If mountaineering gauntlets aren't warm enough to bike this winter, then I'm going to take it as a sign that I shouldn't be biking.

My cold is still hanging around, so kitty and I are going to go nap again.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Finished (off) objects

Warning: I've been working, so long post ahead.

First finished object: thanksgiving leftovers. I ate this meal something like six times in a row before we ran out. I like it so much I'm thinking of cooking more already. Please forgive the "just nuked" look here. This is harvest pie of veggies (sweet potato, onion, red/green pepper, broccoli) in a bit of cheddar cheese sauce, accompanied by mashed potatoes and cauliflower (the green bits are parsley).

Second finished object: Rogue is finally finished! This is my first completed sweater, and I'm pleased (overall) with the outcome. I'm sure my skill at setting in sleeves will improve, but there are some design tweaks I should have made to the sweater. I added stitches to the bust and removed them from the waist, but not quite enough for either. It's a bit of a roomy sweater; comfy, but I prefer something more fitted. It also needed a bust dart. While quite a bit of thanksgiving leftovers are stored under the sweater bump in the front, that's actually the hem riding up from lack of a bust dart. (Another indication that I should have put in a bust dart is the folds/pulls that you can see on the sides of my bust.) This sweater is a revalation, though. Who knew that aran-weight sweaters are so warm? I'm going to knit myself another one next week! The yarn (Jo Sharp Silkroad) Aran is fluffy, has great stitch definition, and is altogether wonderful. I used size 8 Denises, changing them to size 6 for the cuffs.

Third (somewhat) finished object: I started the finishing work on Mermaid. There are certainly more ends to weave in than I prefer to contemplate, and the shoulder/collar seams took a while to finish, but I think this is going to be worth it.

I've mocked this up by pinning the sleeves on, so please forgive the wonkiness. I also need to add the icord edging to the front edges, which should add some structure, and add buttons or some sort of pin or tie. (I think a trip to Winsor Button is in order, since I now need buttons for at least three projects.)

I love the curviness of this sweater, but it's not as perfect as I hoped it would be. For one, it needs a bust dart. (Are we sensing a theme here? My next-most-finished sweater does have a bust dart, so I have learned my lesson.) To be fair to myself, the directions are so badly written that I couldn't figure out how to place a bust dart well until I actually knitted the thing. (If you don't like directions like "reverse previous shaping" applied to a long series of varying short-rows and increases, do NOT knit this sweater.) I also had a gauge issue. My gauge tends to loosen as I work on a project. I work to counteract it, and hope that this will fade with experience. Still, one side of Mermaid is slightly longer than the other. I'm hoping that applying the icord trim and aggressive blocking will help disguise this.

This is all a learning process, and I'm feeling that process pretty heavily right now. I've certainly learned a lot, and the sweaters are nice and warm and comfy and nice... but they're not as perfect as I hoped they would be. More cheerily, here's a picture of the cat:

Friday, November 24, 2006

A tropical day in Sleeve Island

The sleeves, they are moving along. You can tell I'm scared of the cold, because I'm cranking along on finishing things as fast as possible! (I am doing a bit of holiday knitting in here, but I need to hide that from family for now, so no pictures.)

I realized on the exciting ride home from a wonderful (virtually all vegetarian!) Thanksgiving/Yanksgiving dinner (to digress momentarily, it really was exciting:)

Anyway, on the way home I realized that I'll be in Halifax and Prince Edward Island for the holidays this year. Sure, this means that I'd better get some sweaters done, but it also means that I can finally get my hands on some of the Fleece Artist/Handmaiden that the Yarn Harlot has been raving about. The sock yarns! The lovely semi-solids! I'm dizzy with anticipation (or the cold I'm still fighting off)!

I don't want to fall into the trap of "stash as souvenir", but I have wanted to knit White Lies' Sarah cardigan (with 900 yards of DK-weight smooth wool and 700 yards of laceweight mohair, btw, since it doesn't say on their page) or possibly White Lies' Angelina cardigan or something of my own design... I'll need to see the colours of semi-solids they have in stock, but Burgundy's always a safe choice for me, and if two sweaters in deep cranberry reds is too much, perhaps they'll have something in a vintage-y ocean blue that goes well with brown and black. Did anyone have a shopping list for me, while I'm up there? (Krista, you might at least want that incredible hand cream that my MIL got me last year; it's a lifesaver in the dry cold.)

I have a question for any Nova Scotia/Prince Edward Island knitters: is it better to go to GNK (which supposedly carries Fleece Artist/Handmaiden, but looks like a sweater store) or LK Yarns (which looks like a normal yarn store) or something on the drive from one to the other?

Signing off, from "apparently all sweaters, all the time"!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Good cheap wool alert

Sorry about the lack of a FO post yet. When I'm a little less sick I'll get some pictures from my first finished sweater ever. I've been crashed out on the couch for the last two days.

Kitty, as always, has been helping.

I swatched some of my aran-weight highland tweed yarn (in arctic). While I prefer smaller-gauge sweaters, I need more protection from the cold, so this yarn is going to come in handy.

If you have any need for an aran-weight wool, I'd suggest picking up some of this at only $12/pound (!). This is a loosely plied two-ply 100% wool yarn, so it's not going to show off your cables as well as a 3-ply, but will give a subtler effect. It's a soft yarn (once washed), with a little bit of a furry halo, like a shetland wool. I'm going to pick up another 4 pounds for a thick knitted jacket, experiments with dying, and holiday gift materials.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The internet returns!

I can't fully explain how much I missed having 'net while I moved hither and yon. The long delay is a long story, but I can give you a short version: Verizon sucks. Now that I've gotten that out of my system, I can show you something that's been giving me warmth and comfort.

If there's anything happier than a sweater-drying rack full of socks (and someone's holiday present), it's two racks. I'm working on that, since I've spent a lot of time at work reading RFCs. These are sufficiently dry that my reading comprehension is vastly improved by knitting socks. My quest to try every sock yarn in the world is continuing apace with Mind's Eye Yarn merino-tencel and Mountain Colours Bearfoot. My fear of winter makes me want to try Icelandic sock yarn, but I'll wait until after the holiday knitting to order that. At this rate, this might be in March.

Speaking of Lucy's (Mind's Eye Yarn) fingering-weight yarn (which is exceedingly nice yarn), she was sweet enough to dye me a bunch in a cranberry-plum colourway.

I have a plan here, I swear, though you probably can't tell anything from these (unblocked) swatches, other than that lace is involved.

I swear that I'm finishing things, or at least moving in that direction. My red sweater will never be a work-appropriate sweater, insofar as I work with a lot of guys.

I swear, that empty lump of a bust dart is not loose when I wear the sweater. This has a great deal to do with the whole "non-work-appropriate" problem. I can tell you that someone will appreciate it when I finally finish and wear the sweater.

I really am finishing things up, though, impelled by the cold that's coming (it's coming, it's coming, it's coming to get me!).