Monday, March 31, 2008

Loose Knitting

I'm not concerned about all hell breaking loose, but that a part of hell will break loose -
it'll be much harder to detect.
-George Carlin

I've been doing a much better job lately of knitting than I have of blogging, as I mentioned last time. In addition to flying along on my big projects, I've had a steady stream of small portable projects. (What? The Dale with 25 50-gram balls of wool is not so portable? Hmmm . . .) As part of my grand strategy to not get too distracted from those 25 balls of wool, I've been following along with the Loose Knit Group on Ravelry/Yahoo. Every month has a theme for gifts to make in (theoretical) preparation for the next holiday season. While I've made a few things for the gift basket, mostly I've just really enjoyed the theme aspect. Reorganizing my Ravelry queue, playing within the rules, well, you know me and themes . . . February was for hats. While I didn't go quite as crazy as January's mitten month, I did make a few. A suprise favorite was this easy ribbed hat. Fun, easy, and check out the nice way the ribs swirl into the decreases. This is just a lovely hat all around, and quite versatile for the gift basket.

1/4 Ribbed Hat
Pattern: Cashmere Ribbed Hat from FigKnits
Yarn: Mountain Colors Weavers Wool Quarters in an unknown color
Needles: KnitPicks Harmony circs, US7 - nice and smooth
Notes: A perfect pattern. No mods.
Best Thing About This Pattern: The perfect use for this yarn. Can I move into the Mountain Colors Studio?

March was for socks. I very well may finish my 3rd pair for the month today before the witching hour, but I only have photos of one. This not-terribly-exciting pair was born out of necessity after one cold early-March day when I had to - gasp! - wear store-bought black socks with my uniform. It was truely awful.

Another Pair of Uniform Socks
1x1 ribbed cuff, 3x1 ribbed body, with heel flap and regular toe
Yarn: Black Sheep Wildfoote in black and accents in Blood Red
Needles: US 1 dpns
Notes: A speedy knit. This yarn crocks like crazy though, so watch out.
Best Thing About This Project: That splash of color? Our little secret. Because these socks are 100% uniform-compliant.

Coming soon . . . The return of Time Machine Tuesday (anyone else have some classic knits to share?), more socks, another hat, and the Dale Salt Lake City steaming towards the finish line.

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Friday, March 28, 2008

How To Work on Three Sweaters At Once

Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.
-Doug Larson

By (unintentionally) not blogging, of course. Between the every third night call schedule, and forging ahead with my knitting projects, this here blog has been a bit neglected. The upside is that now I have so much knitting to catch up on (and a better schedule come Monday), you'll be up to your ears in blogging!

The other best way to work on three sweaters at once? To finish one, of course: Gerbera, the sweater my husband calls my "Dale non-ski sweater" in a perplexed fashion, is done. The only downside? The difficulties of measuring gauge in a lace pattern mean that the sleeves are too long. You can see the pattern trajectory from here - what's the best way to shorten them? More on that later.

The other two sweaters are coming along - the Dale Ski Sweater - is almost done. Thanks to some sunlit time off today, I sewed the steeks. And then forged right ahead with the cutting, and the sewing of the sleeves, and the working on the neckband . . . Not much more!

And that third sweater, the Bed and Breakfast Pullover, has finally made it to it's rightful place as my go-to project at home. . . just in time start some new projects for April. I am loving making so many larger projects right now, in keeping with that grand plan for the year.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Bearfoot in Irony

Never measure the height of a mountain until you have reached the top.
Then you will see how low it was.
-Dag Hammarskjold

Sometimes playing with camera settings is successful. Sometimes, it is not. Alas. My Bearfoot socks (finished some time ago, actually, as they were January's yarn) are much lovelier than they appear here.
Rib and Cable Socks Pattern: Rib and Cable Socks by Nancy Bush from an old IK
Yarn: Mountain Colors Bearfoot in Glacier - I love this yarn!
Needles: US 1 dpns
Notes: No changes to the pattern. Nancy Bush always does something a little different with her heels and toes, and I like seeing how it comes out.
Best Thing About This Project: There are always so many wonderful things about handknit socks, aren't there?

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Making Mountains

Keep love in your heart.
A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead.
-Oscar Wilde

Someone must really want his sweater . . . Gosh I'm one lucky gal! And, in a timely way, I have made quite a lot of progress on Salt Lake City. I'm winging my way up the color patterning on the yoke, and falling more and more in love. See the people holding hands? The Olympic flame? This is the center back. The rest is a series of snowflakes and mountains and fun geometric patterns. If only it wasn't 300+ stitches around . . . I guess that's why the flowers are here to encourage me!

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Last Tuesday of Winter

If there comes a little thaw,
Still the air is chill and raw,
Here and there a patch of snow,
Dirtier than the ground below,
Dribbles down a marshy flood;
Ankle-deep you stick in mud
In the meadows while you sing, "This is Spring."
-Christopher Pearce Cranch

Now that we're getting all excited about spring around here (and let me assure you - this week has done San Diego proud with beautiful weather), I thought Time Machine Tuesday could revist a last bit of winter. You know, for those of you freezing in snowdrifts elsewhere. Hi Mom! Hi Dad! Hi to my inlaws!

Anyway, I did live in Rhode Island for the first 4 or 5 years I knit, so I had my fair share of knitting for cold weather. And mittens were my first-ever non-scarf project. (Gosh, I love a good hyphen!) The entire first year I knit I made nothing but garter stitch scarves. Literally. They were all made of Lion Brand Homespun on US10 needles. And then I looked around, and everyone I knew had a garter stitch scarf. (This problem was exacerbated when I taught my college roommate to knit, and she did the same thing.) So I hit a make-or-break point.

Lopi Mittens, circa 2001
Pattern: Basic Mittens from Folk Mittens
Yarn: Reynolds Lopi
Needles: US 4 dpnsNotes: great first mitten pattern
Best Thing About This Project: The snowball fights.

And I picked up the book Folk Mittens from the local library. The mittens on the left are the second pair of mittens I ever made. The first pair is not still in my posession. In my infinite early-knitting wisdom, I made them out of kitchen cotton. Oh, and they are radically different sizes. Gauge issues with my first dpn experience. But it was fun. It had a shape. And a thumb. I was hooked. So I looked around and found some Lopi yarn that I had originally thought would make a good scarf (it wouldn't), and cast on. These mittens are the same size, and mine, and I've been wearing them solidly for a good 6 years. The Lopi is perfect for mittens - a nice halo, nearly waterproof, and warm.

But not always quite warm enough. So after a little contemplation and a spring break trip to PEI in the middle of a blizzard, I had my roving and I thought some thrummed mittens would be in order.

Thrummed Mittens, circa 2002
Pattern: don't quite remember, but probably a free online pattern
Yarn: a 3-ply aran weight wool and colored roving from McAusland's Woolen Mill on our PEI trip
Needles: US 6?
Notes: Thrums are fun. I can see why people are hooked. These are so bulky though that I never really wore them enough to get them all nice and matted on the inside
Best Thing About This Project: Well, we are planning a trip to Calgary next winter. I think that may be the place cold enough to really appreciate them.

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Sunday, March 09, 2008

A Spring in My Step

Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.
-Doug Larson

Since it's probably obvious that I've been spending nearly all my time at the hospital lately, it must be equally obvious that my sweater projects aren't coming with me. I made some great progress on Salt Lake City on my day off last week (just wait until you see the Olympic Flame!), but the daily knitting has been a little more mundane. . . . If by mundane you mean knitting with gorgeous sock yarns. (And who doesn't love a good yarn cake?) The one on the left is Socks that Rock Lightweight in Waterlilies. This is my first STR experience, and I join you all in loving the base yarn and the colors. The pooling, on the other hand, not so much. It took multiple cast ons to find something reasonable, but now they're happily becoming Mad Colorweave Socks.

The yarn on the right is Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Mountain Creek for an upcoming swap and a recipient who likes jewel tones. I'm loving these jewel tones so much I'm tempted to go out and buy some more . . . Charade is a great pattern for varigated yarns; highly recommended.

Which would defeat the point that these are both from stash. And great patterns for varigated sock yarns. In progress photos may eventually make their way into the world. In the meantime, it's nice to have a project for every state of mind, isn't it?

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Look What I Found

Readers are plentiful; thinkers are rare.
-Harriet Martineau

It's a lovely spring day in San Diego, the lucky star I was born under held up last night for a very manageable call. The palm trees are palmy, the flowers are blooming, and the birds are even singing. Spring is definitely here. It was then a perfect day to go explore my public library. I will confess that I had an ulterior motive; a book I requested had come in.

Let's give three cheers to the San Diego Public Library! Alice Starmore's Aran Knitting is now in my hot little hands. After following a discussion on Ravelry about this particular rare book and how often it's "disappeared" from libraries only to show up on eBay for $400, I decided to look around and get my fair use copy of St. Brigid before someone took this one.

My only familiarity with this book has been in seeing the gorgeous sweaters, St. Brigid and Na Craga in particular, that people have made. Now that I'm seeing it in person, I'm both more and less impressed. There are only 9 patterns, but they're all gorgeous. What I hadn't realized is that the first half of the book is all history and a discussion of creating cables. Interesting, but hardly worth the ridiculous prices it's been commandering.

Speaking of ridiculous, let's have a brief chat about the holier-than-thou self-appointed copyright police in the online knitting community. A number of people discussing this book on Ravelry are doing things like checking out the book for three weeks at a time, and then they find the book missing before they can finish their knitting. I'm all about not taking the bread out of the mouths of designers, but that's an overly cautious interpretation of copyright law. If you can get a library copy, you can make a fair use copy of whatever you need for your own personal use. . . . Not to mention that I have no qualms about copying material from out-of-print books. The designer makes no money off that $400 eBay purchase, so I hardly find it a better solution. And I'm very happy I'll be able to make St. Brigid. . . . As soon as I make some progress on those other three sweaters . . .

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Monday, March 03, 2008

In Like A Lamb

A lion among ladies is a most dreadful thing.
-William Shakespeare

I got March started off right with a day off to get some new projects kicking around. . . then I went to work and didn't come home until the next day. Sometimes I love my job. But I digress. I am loving my knitting now. In spite of the relative in-advised-ness of having three adult sweaters on the needles simultaneously (that would be Salt Lake City for 6' tall husband, Gerbera for me, and the new one), I cast on for my March project, the Bed and Breakfast Pullover.

This is the cabled pullover I've been wanting to make for years. Unfortunately, I hadn't had the stash lying around for years. Which is one of the reasons my stash has hit it's largest total ever . . . how does it do that? Probably because in order to pick a contrast color for my hems, I had to buy all this yarn: And who ever gets rid of Cascade 220 they don't need right now? Some day those skeins will get used. In the meantime, I think I hit on the perfect color combination:I've started one ribbed sleeve to check my gauge, and then the cabled front. Just lovely. The true challenge will be dividing my time between the three sweaters. Any suggestions?

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