Friday, December 29, 2006


I decided to take the week between Christmas and New Years off from work this year. I've never done it before, and it's been a great week so far. I had some back-burnered projects that I wanted to finish, like some scrapbooking and a few home improvement things, but so far all I've done is slept in, knit, shopped and ate (not in that order, necessarily).

Wednesday I had what I'd like to call a block-a-thon. I finished knitting Forecast and she was ready for a good blocking. I've never worked with a yarn this squishy before, nor one that bled so much! I ended up not working on it if I knew I would be leaving the house later because the yarn left my hands purple and it took work to get it off.

So in the kitchen sink she went:

I added some vinegar in hopes of setting the dye. The water didn't turn too purple, just a little, and since I didn't want it to smell, I rinsed it out and re-dunked it with some Woolite.


The suds made it bleed. big. time. Without agitating, I pressed the suds through and rinsed again. Then, I rinsed it with more vinegar again. So it wouldn't smell (again), I rinsed it with a little fabric softener.

That makes 4 rinsings total.

And, here she lies:

Just need to add buttons and sew in a few loose ends. Phew!!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas . . .

Yay! A semi-cold front came through earlier in the week, and although it's not cold enough for snow, at least I'm not feeling like it's September around here anymore. The colder weather brought enough of a Christmas-y feel that I knocked out the very last hat for Christmas. Here's one I finished about 10 days ago and already gifted to its recipient:

Penultimate hat: Fun little J. Crew inspired hat with a single cable.

And the very last hat is also a first. It's for my hubby and is the very first thing I have ever knit for him. When I was wrapping up the Redskins' hats I made for my nephews, he grabbed the little one and tried to put it on. I knew he really wanted it, so I am trying to be a good wife for Christmas and have knitted it up while he's been out of the house, so he doesn't know it's done (let's hope he hasn't started reading the ol' blog!)

Last hat: Redskins for the Redskins fanatic. Too bad they are having a sucky season, but the Ravens aren't!

(Hehehehe, we have a little rivalry between me/my Dad/my brother and my hubby/my BIL. I am a born and raised Baltimore girl. Hence, I am a Ravens fan. My hubby was born and raised in Western Maryland where they get Washington DC channels, so they grew up watching the Redskins. And my dad and brother can real SOBs about it!)

With the Christmas knitting DONE, I have gotten back to a little knitting for moi. Well, at least for now. My mom's birthday is January 17 and I am going to attempt to knit her a sweater, though it surely won't be done in time. The yarn is still on its way from UPS. But, Forecast is moving along just swimmingly:

The oh-so fab bathroom, contorted arm shot.

It's hard to see the details since the yarn is so dark, but all I've got left is one sleeve and one side of the button band. And the buttons to sew on. And boy does this baby need a serious blocking. I'm thinking this might be the last FO of 2006. Or, the first FO of 2007. Either way, yay for a FO!

Monday, December 18, 2006

It's hard to feel Christmas-y when

It's 74 freaking degrees when the normal temperature is in the high 40s. I baked some snowmen and Christmas tree cookies over the weekend while it was 65 degrees in the hopes of feeling more Christmas-y. I'm listening to Christmas music at work. I wrapped presents and put them under the tree.


All I want for Chistmas is a cold front....

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Starting off slow

Thanks for the advice on the whole top-down-seamless-EZ-can-I-knit-a-collar-on debacle. I've decided to start off with an easy seamless project before delving into a complicated one. Since I've never knit my husband a sweater (or anything for that matter), I don't think it would be fair to have his first knitted object from me be a complete experiment and possibly a disaster. So, I am going to use the real pattern for Beau and save the experimentation and/or disaster for myself.

Starting off slowly, I am using some GGH Savanna to knit the Yarn Girls' Cables in Chamonix.

The pattern calls for picking up 64 stitches around the neck line for the turtleneck, so I cast on that many onto a circular needle. I used a provisional cast on so I can knit the turtleneck last with some short row shaping. The pattern says that before armhole shaping, the sleeves end up with 48 stitches each and the front and back with 64 each, which yields 224 stitches all around (before yoke shaping). Subtracting out the 64 stitches I already cast on leaves 160, which is how many I would have to increase to get from the neck down to the yoke. So, I split up my 64 stitches into 24 each for the front and back and 8 for each sleeve. I incorporated the cable pattern and am now just increasing every other round until I get to my 224 stitches. We'll see how it goes! If I am able to get a decent looking sweater, I might tackle the Karabella one. But I am prepared to buy the pattern too!

In other news, I ordered some Jaggerspun Zephyr to knit either the Simple Knitted Bodice or Sahara or something from Stefanie's book Fitted Knits (which is on my Christmas list, even though it doesn't come out til spring). I also asked for 1 skein of Tilli Tomas disco lights from Santa to match the wool/silk I bought in Elderberry:

I've noticed that I have color phases with my knitting. Over the summer and into fall, it was a pink phase with 2 pink tank tops (Prosperous Plum and Eyelet V-Neck) and Arisaig. Now, I'm in a purply phase with Forecast, the Cables in Chamonix and this purple stuff in Zephyr. Hmm, I'm thinking green or blue next . . .

Friday, December 08, 2006

Should I Elizabeth Zimmermann it?

I've been reading Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitting Without Tears in which she provides a recipe for creating seamless sweaters in the round. It really is so brilliant and so simple (I think). The basic premise is that you figure out what size around you want the sweater to be (bust size, basically) and then figure out based on gauge how many stitches you need to get that size. Then, everything else, like the number of stitches for sleeves and number of stitches for the neck, is just a percentage of this. I've been very intrigued with trying this out for several reasons:

1. By-night, I am a knitter, but by-day I am in a quantitative arena (I'm a biostatistician), so I like that knitting involves some math every now and then (sorry, yes I am dorky).
2. My husband likes Beau in Rowan Vintage Style, but the pattern booklet is like $25 and I don't love enough of the other patterns to justify the purchase. This will be tricky to do in a seamless way, though, because of the collar and the squares in the yoke.
3. I saw this on

It's a Karabella Aurora pattern and costs $5. I am tempted to buy it, but I feel like it's a great candidate for the Elizabeth Zimmermann seamless yoke approach. It would be easy to replicate the shape, but I can't tell what the exact ribbing and cablings are.

But, I do already have a sketch out for my knock off of Bea that is a top-down seamless approach. I wrote it before I read Knitting Without Tears, so I need to check that my percentages are correct! Maybe I'll just wait and try that one first. I can spare $5. In the meantime, I'll start sketching out Beau . . . anyone have ideas for how to incorporate the collar into a top-down approach?

Friday, December 01, 2006

Some more Christmas FOs

Hope everyone had a nice, relaxing Thanksgiving. Thanks for all the nice comments about Arisaig. I wore it to work on Monday and my co-workers really liked it.

I am SO SO happy to report that I am almost done my Christmas knitting! The Thanksgiving long weekend gave me some free time to finish up some of that stuff, so first I present the Girlfriend Shrug:

It's for my seven year old niece. I used Knitpicks Swish in aloe, sunshine, bubblegum and ballerina. The sleeves are trimmed with some girly, eyelashy yarn I had in my stash.

Next up are hats #6 and #7. They are for a brother and sister:

Again, used Knitpicks swish. The girl hat was done using Grumperina's Odessa pattern and I added some little flowers all the way around. The boy hat was done in charcoal, sunshine, red pepper and capri blue. Am I sick of Swish yet? Not quite, but almost. It does knit up really nicely with even stitches and it's really soft.

And, last but not least, I did find time to start a new project for me . . . one I've been dying to start: Forecast.

I'm using Cascade 220 tweed in a dark purple. This picture really shows the little flecks of blue, red, yellow and green. I'm almost done the yoke. Boy, does this part go slooooow. Over 200 sts on the needle. I should reach the underarm tonight!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Arisaig Finished

After almost 3 full months, Arisaig is finished!

Pattern: Arisaig, from the fall 2005 Knitty

Yarn: Jaeger Matchmaker Merino 4 ply in Cyclamen, 7.5 balls on size 3 bamboo straights.

Modifications: Yes, lots! I omitted the ribbing and did a 4 row seed stitch border on the hems and around the neckline (this was inspiration from Liz's version). I calculated a 34" size, in between the 32" and 36" given. I didn't do the belt tie closure and instead sewed the inside flap to the side and attached 2 clear buttons for the front flap closure with small crocheted loops. I tried several modifications of this. First, I tried small hook-and-eye closures for the inside but they tugged on the side too much. Then, I crocheted mini i-cords to tie the inside shut, but they tugged too. Finally, a loose stitch kept it together without an obvious gathering on the side. Oh yeah, then there's the whole cutting business with the sleeve (see previous post). Lastly, I ended up with the sleeves being too big, so I wet them and threw it in the dryer on high for about 20 minutes (I checked it every 5 or so). No felting, and the heat pulled the stitches in enough so the sleeves fit snugger.

Verdict: I really, really like it. I think I will love it as I wear it. This one was a real "take control of your knitting" for me. Thanks to all who commented positively about the cutting! I realized that proper fit takes time.

New! What I learned: I learned that I must knit a gauge swatch in a FULL 4" x 4" square AND block it, especially with lace patterns! I know that's why my sleeves grew - I probably would have ended up knitting these on size 2's if I had done the proper gauge swatch.

A few more pics:

A side view.

Unintentional artsy shot when trying to get a close up of the buttons.

The other side. See the little gathering (oops, sorry for the toilet shot, too. Like the 50's styling?) That was the best I could do with the inside closure.

Front and center. Sorry it's a little dark.

In other fun knitting news, I turned 27 yesterday and received some awesome gifts. My mom got me the Namaste Messenger bag in Mauve (but it's really more a brown):

And my brother got me 2 Elizabeth Zimmermann books. I started reading Knitting Without Tears tonight and can already see why she's such a legend in this field. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Yes, you can cut it

Over the weekend, I was making decent progress on Arisaig. I decided to seam up the one sleeve I had knit and sew the sides to get an idea of how good (or bad) the fit was. When I blocked the sleeve, it literally grew to be like 25" long. I did my best to fluff it into place, but when I tried the sucker on, all sewed up, it came down to the end of my index finger. Sigh.

I had one of those knitting-discouragement moments. I didn't want to finish it. I didn't want to rip the whole darn thing out and start over because that sleeve took forever to knit. I felt crappy. Then I thought of two projects I've worked on recently, the Prosperous Plum Tank and the Grannie Smith Cardigan, which both use provisional cast ons. I started thinking . . . maybe I could undo the sleeve from the cast on edge and undo 2-3" inches of it and get some live stitches to re-knit the 4 row seed stitch border? Maybe??

Well, I unraveled the cast on edge and discovered that you can't frog from the bottom up. It would take FOREVER. Every stitch needed to be unraveled individually. Then I remembered a post I read by Wendy about how you could use spit to repair a cut strand of yarn. This wasn't really applicable here but made me think, maybe I can cut the sleeve to where I want it and find some live stitches that way?? I tried Googling "cut sleeve", "shorten sleeve knit", etc, but didn't find anything helpful.

But I cut anyway. And pulled out lots of teeny weeny little pieces of yarn everywhere. And realized I didnt exactly cut straight across.

The bottom edge (left) is the cast on edge I unraveled.

Somehow, I managed to figure out where little mini-rows needed to be re-knit and got all the loose pieces back into the row and actually had a set of live stitches. I knit the 4 row seed stitch border and cast off.

It worked! The sleeve now comes just past my wrist. I ended up cutting away 16 rows, so the good news is that sleeve #2 will require 16 fewer rows. I went to bed a very happy, proud knitter that night. Who knew you could cut it?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Time flies

Wow, I can't believe it's been almost 2 weeks since my last post. Sorry everyone. Time really flies, especially now that daylight savings time is over. I've been waiting for a good chance to take some photos in the daylight, but I never get home in time.

Anyhoo, I've got 6 hats down and 3 to go. I've cut 2 people from my gift list and added another, so the total is now 9 hats. The 2 people I cut have 2 kids and they are receiving hats. I was hoping to do matching mom-daughter and dad-son hats, but I'm afraid time won't let me. If do end up with extra time, I'll make them. So here are the latest, for my husband's Redskin fanatic family.

Hats #4 and #5. For my 6 year old and 4 month old nephews. Their dad is a big Redskins fan, so I guess these things are inherited, but I'm not even sure if either boy is a Redskins fan (well, the 4 month old probably isn't yet!). I found the iron-on patches on eBay and they stuck right on without needing too much heat. Bill (husband) is getting one too.

I've got hat #6 done, but it's not photo-ready just yet. In other knitting news, Arisaig is moving along nicely. I finished the left front last night and connected it to the back using a 3 needle bind off. It's blocking now. Just 1 sleeve left to go!

I wet blocked it, and boy did this puppy GROOOOOW. I had to fluff it back into place and pinned it just so. I think when it's dry I'm going to sew in the first sleeve and sides to make sure the fit is going to be OK.

Last weekend was Stitches East. My friend Elizabeth (non-blogger) went with me. I think I realized something when I was there . . . I just can't stash. I know that it's like rule #453 of being a true knitter, but there were some great deals on basic merinos and wools and cottons, but since I had no projects in mind, I just couldn't buy it. I am like this in the rest of my life too, though. I am always cleaning things out, getting rid of clutter and organizing. I think if I had a place to keep my stash, it wouldn't be a problem. I need a craft room! I ran into my neighbor across the street and found out she's a knitter too (she teaches it) and she said her 2nd bedroom is her craft room. I should stop by her house for the inspiration. But, here is my sole purchase from Stitches.

Tahki Donegal Tweed, 10 hanks. This is for a sweater for Bill. No pattern in mind, but the yarn was a closeout from the Webs booth - $5.29/hank with like 190 yards.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Miss Dashwood Finished

Once I finished Daydream, I got to work on Miss Dashwood so I could get the set finished and in the mail. It was a much quicker knit than I expected, so it's finished and the package is on its way to Katie now. But, of course, I took some shots of Miss Dashwood before she left.

The Details
Pattern: Miss Dashwood, from knitty
Yarn: TLC Baby in Lilac. For both Daydream and Miss Dashwood, I only needed 1 skein and have some left over.
Modifications: I knit a 2 stitch i-cord instead of the seed stitch cord. I also omitted the buttons. This was partly because I couldn't figure out where the heck to put them. It seemed to me that if the earflaps were folded up, they would either have to fold completely up into the hat, which might be uncomfortable, or if folded up along the brim, they would still cover baby's ear halfway. I I just left them out! Katie lives in Minnesota, so it's probably always going to be chilly enough for the earflaps.
Verdict: It's darling for a little girl, so I hope she likes it.

Here are a few more shots of it:

I wanted to give an idea of how it would look on, but since I don't have any babies lying around to model, I used my wine carafe. Yeah, I know....

Earflap close-up.

I'm continuing with the Christmas knits. One in progress is knit and tonic Wendy's Girlfriend Shrug. This is for my seven year old niece, who is a girly-girl. I was going to do a long sleeve version of the one skein wonder, but that is only written for adults, and since I was lazy and didn't feel like translating it into a smaller size, I'm going with this one. I'm using Knit Picks Swish and get a gauge of 14 sts/4" on size 10's, so since the pattern's written for 28 sts/4", I'm just halving the stitches. Hope that works out.

Next weekend is the Stitches Event in Baltimore. I'm already making my shopping list....

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Daydream Finished

I got pictures today from my friend Katie, who is 32 weeks pregnant. She's looking VERY pregnant, so it's a good thing I accelerated on Daydream over the weekend. It's finished!

The Details.
Pattern: Daydream from Rowan Babies
Yarn: TLC Baby. I didn't love this yarn. It's great for baby knits because it's washable, but it was kinda of splitty and strands stuck together a bit. Next time I might use a cotton blend.
Modifications: I knit the back and front together up to the armholes. But, next time I will knit this from the top down to avoid some sewing and make it look more polished.
Verdict: Great - I hope Katie's little girl will get some nice spring-time wear out of it.

If you subscribe, have you received your Vogue Knits Holiday issue? I've been dying to read it, but mine hasn't arrived in the mail yet. We often get mis-delivered mail at my house, but I don't know if subscribers just get theirs later than stores do. I can't remember when my Fall issue arrived relative to the issue date. Thanks!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A dose of reality and some finished hats

I'm trying to figure out if I'm on track to finish my Christmas hats in time or not. I've got 3 complete and 7 to go. Looking at the calendar, there are 9 full weeks left until December 25, but really, I'm going to be giving some of these hats as gifts before the actual holiday. I also remembered that I was going to knit a long-sleeve version of the one-skein wonder for my niece. I also heard from my pregnant friend Katie (recipient of the in-progress Daydream and yet-to-be-started Miss Dashwood) who is almost 32 weeks into her pregnancy. I didn't realize she was that far along! I also thought I would be almost done Arisaig by now, but I am slowing making through the 1st sleeve.

So. It's been a dose of knitting reality for me these days that I am not going to finish things as fast as I planned and I must give myself a break. My goal now is to still complete the gifts, which is totally do-able, but also to not set goals for the projects for me. It's so hard not to plan ahead with all of the new patterns coming out, but I must be patient. Knitting is a hobby, it's therapy, it's supposed to be fun. Not stress. I must put the fun back into it, or else I might ruin my love of knitting.

Ok, the updates. Here are the 3 hats thus far completed.

Hat #1. For my brother, knit with the grey and stripes of blue and green mixed in. Sorry the picture is so dark.

Hat #2. For my friend, Jen. I was going to give this to another friend, but I saw Odessa and thought that would be really cute for her and a matching one for her daughter.

Hat #3. For my 18 month old nephew. This one is my totally my favorite one so far. I love how the stripes came out.

And, I picked up some Cotton Fleece to make my knock-off of Bea. But that's not til end of winter, early spring at best. No pressure! No time constraints!

Friday, October 06, 2006

WIP update

I've gotten some good knitting time in during the past week. It's only in the 50's here today in Baltimore, so I could be wearing Arisaig or the Grannie Smith Cardi if either of them were finished. Here's how it's going with them.

Back of Arisaig

When I started Arisaig, it was my first project using yarn that got a gauge of 28 sts/4". I was afraid this was going take forever. While it took a while to get going, the pattern repeat wasn't too hard to memorize and I am over halfway through the right front also. I hope to have this one done by the end of the month (maybe...).

Grannie Smith Cardi

This one I just started last week. I decided to cast on the fronts and back together to avoid some seaming, not sure if this is going to make it harder to sew in the sleeves or not? Ever since I made my first top-down sweater, I try to avoid sewing at all costs!

I'll have some pics of the Christmas hats next week. I've got 2 down, 8 to go...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A splash of color

Here's the new blog design I've been mulling over and editing for the past few weeks. It took me awhile to get the template done, but it wasn't until I saw Carrie's new design yesterday that the idea of photographing something for the banner hit me (thanks Carrie!). I pulled out my dpn case and photographed the fabric. It fit nicely with my already existing pink and green color theme. Ironically, I have updates on Arisaig (in pink) and Grannie Smith Cardi (in green) to show you later this week. Hmm, I do like pink and green a lot, so maybe it's not ironic at all. I should start expanding my knitting project color palette!

Friday, September 29, 2006

A more organized knitter

In the past week, I haven't been doing as much knitting as I normally do. I have the back of Arisaig completed, which I'll show in my next post, but I have kinda gotten on a little sewing kick. It all started when I read a post on that showed a lovely dpn case she had made. At the time, my needles and other notions lived in a mess in a basket that I had to dig through everytime I needed a tapestry needle or crochet hook or size 4 needles. You get the idea. So, this inspired me to do a little more Googling on needle cases. I'm not a good sewer, but the cases didn't look *too* hard. Straight lines to sew and straight lines to cut. I Googled away and found some helpful links for sewing your own needle case. I also found some cases other knitters had made, like Grumperina's and splityarn's. I also found The Organized Knitter with beautiful photos of cases.

So, I went to the fabric store and found some nice coordinating fabrics, got some ribbon and thread and got to work. My first case, which was for straight needles, was a disaster. I didn't even take a photo for you because I already cut away the fabric that could be re-used. I guess it was my learning experience. Basically, I sewed the front and inside flaps together first before sewing all the pockets for the needles. So when I made the pockets for the needles, the underside stitch (this probably has a technical name, but I'm not a real sewer to know) showed up on the outside fabric. So when it was rolled up, there were lines of stitches half-way up the roll. Gross. I thought the process through a little better and also rounded the corners so the edges were cleaner. Here are the finished products:

Straight needle case rolled up.

Unrolled. It holds all of my straight needles and even the big size 35s I bought for fun.

Circular needle case. This one folds in half twice like a book.

Circular needle case opened up. I kept these in their original cases, so I didn't have to measure to tell the 24" ones from the 29" ones!

dpn / crochet hook case. I still need to attach the ribbon and button....

dpn case opened up. I don't have a lot of dpn, but it holds crochet hooks, stitch holders and scissors.

I also made a straight needle case for my friend Jen (non-blogger) who knits. She's a big crochet person too, so I'm making a dpn like case for her crochet needles.

The last item on my to-sew list is a mini case for all those little notions, like the tapestry needles, cable needles, row counters, point protectors...have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Prosperous Plum Tank Finished

I actually finished this a little while ago.

Yarn: Rowan Handknit DK in Sugar, 5 balls
Pattern: By Joanna at knitpicking, available here
Started: Early August
Verdict: Love it! This one was a project that I wasn't super excited about when I started it, but it ended up being one of my favorite knits. I love the picot edging and learned how to use a provisional cast on. It fits really nicely, not too big or too small, and the back came out nicer than I thought, too. I was nervous about it because it was my first project dealing with negative ease. I wasn't using the specified yarn, which yielded 4" of negative ease, but I trusted Joanna's advice and gave myself more negative ease, 6" worth, since I wasn't using a stretchy yarn.

Unfortunately, it's getting chilly now here in the mid-Atlantic (which I am actually enjoying, autumn is my favorite time of year), so unless we get another warm day, this one might have to sit in the closet until spring time. Thanks Joanna for the free pattern, it was really well written and easy to follow.

In other knit news, I've added some items to my stash.

Elann Devon in Claret - no project in mind.

Cascade Indulgence in Rose - intended for the Embellished V Neck from Fall VK.