Monday, December 31, 2007

2007: A Year in Review

It's been a good knitting year for me, and I'd like to squeeze into the final 7 hours of 2007 a look back at what knitting I got accomplished.

9 Sweaters
3 Short sleeve sweaters
1 Sleeveless sweater
2 Baby bootees
2 Baby Sweaters
1 Shrug
2 Hats
5 Scarves
1 Fingerless gloves

The biggest loser of 2007 was definitely Rusted Root, with its droopy body and nubbin':

Most of my other knits were definitely winners, with first place definitely going to Juno, for its wearability, design and non-handknit look:

A close second is Something Blushy, because it was a fun knit with modifications that worked.

At the beginning of 2007, I made some knitting new year resolutions. Did I stick with them? Well, let's see. Here's the list:

1) Give double pointed needles a fair chance. They aren't so bad....right? Maybe I'll make a pair of Fetching and see for sure.

2) Knit something with intarsia

3) Then step it up a notch and knit something in fair isle

4) Instead of being on a yarn diet, allow myself to buy and stash yarn. I am generally a stash-phobic, so this is a good one for me.

I did pretty well - I nailed #1 and #4. Never got to the fair isle or intarsia, so I will make an effort to cast on for something with some simple colorwork this year.

I am glad to report that the knitting mojo is on its way back. I've been in quite a knit funk lately. I hadn't even updated my Ravelry account in almost a month! Things are winding down at the house and I go back to work on Wednesday. Before I go, I do want to show you some jewelry making I've been doing. I tried a new technique recently: hammering. It's fun and you can create some pretty things with heavier wire and a mallet!

Fresh water pearls on sterling silver

Crystals, amethyst and iolite drop earrings

Turquoise, crystals and pearls on a sterling silver rectangle

Bill & I are having a quiet New Year's Eve at home. I'm making an apple pie and seafood scampi for dinner. Knitting will happen, too. Happy 2008! See you next year.

Monday, December 24, 2007

'Twas the day before Christmas

And all through the house, not a knitter was stirring . . . not even me! Hello out there, dear readers. I apologize for going MIA for the whole month of December. I told you in my last post that we were starting a bathroom remodel. I am happy to say that the bulk of the work and messiness is over. We have 2 working (and beautifully tiled) showers and floors, 1 toilet and 1 sink all hooked up. A glitch with a large home improvement store that shall remained un-named (hey, it's the holidays) means that we still have to install the cabinets and countertop in my bathroom, but the house is clean from top to bottom otherwise and I am happy to be home!! I was living with my parents for 2 1/2 weeks, and Bill was at our house. Although we didn't decorate or do anything Christmas related at our house, we can't complain about a Christmas gift of new bathrooms!

I was very busy the past 3 weeks, but today is my first day where I could get out of bed and not rush out the door. I haven't done a lot of knitting in the past month, but here's what I've got.

Christmas gift #1: Bill's reversible cable scarf: Finished!

Christmas gift #2: My brother's farrow rib scarf: Finished!

That's all the holiday knitting I did for others. I'll write a proper FO post for these when I get some modeled shots on their recipients tomorrow.

I also finished up Fetching, knit with exactly 1 ball of Cashmerino Aran in color 25, without an inch to spare! These were my first dive into the hand accessory world, and I really enjoyed it. I'm going to try and make some gloves next. A HUGE thank you to Janet over at twistedknitter for giving me the yarn. Yes, she GAVE it to me. All I paid was shipping. Thank you, Janet!

Another blog reference I haven't mentioned is Claudia, who last month named me as a blogger who makes her smile!

I read so many blogs that is it hard to choose even a handful who specifically make me smile. Thank you, bloggers, for sharing your knitting woes and triumphs with us this past year. Every blog I read, I read because it makes me smile!

Here's the sole Christmas decoration in my house this year. Hope you all have a wonderful, blessed Christmas and all the best to you and yours.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Presents and new projects

Thanks for all the nice comments on Juno. I've worn it quite a bit and am pleased with how the Yorkshire Tweed is wearing (not much pilling yet). Here's what's been going on in my knitting world over the past few weeks. First, I told you I got some cool birthday gifts from Bill.

Has anyone seen or used these before? They look pretty cool. Here's a close up:

I haven't tried them out officially, as I'm not working on any projects with size 6 needles, but they do glow nicely in the dark!

See the glow?

This gift here took the cake, however. I don't know where he got it, but this swift is beautifully made and works great, as you can see.

For my WIPs, I've got quite a bit on the needles now, actually.

Fetching, using Cashmerino Aran. I've never knit a complete project on DPNs before. You know, I've used them to finish hats and stuff, but this is BIG for me. So far, so good. I'm not minding it too much.

I started another sweater: Starsky from knitty. I'm almost done the back.

This was a big disappointment for me. I got some Malabrigo in Olive for Christmas last year, and have been waiting to cast on for Wicked. I finally did, and I hate it! I'm alternating skeins of yarn of everything, but to me, this looks like army camouflage. I'm sad over it, partly because I've been so psyched up to start a project with Malabrigo. I think the green is nice, but there's too much dark color variations in it. Not sure what I'm going to do with the 5 skeins - this may go up on my Ravelry trade/sell page.

I've made progress on Bill's one row reversible cable scarf. This will be ready by Christmas. The only other Christmas knitting I'm doing is a scarf for my brother. I picked up some Patons Shetland Tweeds in charcoal to make him a manly scarf, too.

I also started Gretel. I am not liking working with DPNs on this one, so it will sit until I can buy a pair of size 5, 16" circulars.

Lastly, we are remodeling our bathrooms next week! Our house was built in the 50's, and we have the original tub and toilets, and possibly original tile (though we think it's more 70's tile). We are replacing the tile, toilets and tiling over the floors. New cabinets, mirrors and lighting, too.

Before: Bill's bathroom.

Bill's wallpaper. Giddee-up!

Before: My bathroom.

After pictures: stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

FO: Juno!!!!

I am probably just overly excited by the outcome of this project, but I really have to say that Juno is one of the best knits I have ever done. Here it is, with lots of pictures!

Pattern: Juno, from Rowan 40. A HUGE shout out to Silvia over at silverknits for mailing me her copy of Rowan 40. I am so grateful for the kindness of other knitters. Silvia, I am mailing your magazine back with a surprise this week!

Yarn: Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Aran in Wild Plum, just a wee bit over 6 skeins. The pattern calls for 2 strands of Wool Cotton held together, but if you've seen other FOs or checked out the Ravelry project pages, you wouldn't think it. Ever since Vanessa at Coloursknits debuted her Juno, in which she substituted the Yorkshire Tweed Aran, everyone else followed suit. This is an example of why I am so thankful for blogs and other knitters who share their experiences. The Tweed is a perfect substitute and makes for a beautiful (and less expensive!) sweater. Buttons are from Joann's, $6 for 8 of them.

Modifications: I did make several modifications to the pattern. Other knitters had noted that they were unhappy with the boxier shape of the body, so I cast on the numbers of stitches in between the 32" and 34" size and worked some waist shaping. I also made the body longer, about 15" before the armhole. I followed the pattern as written for the armhole shaping. For the sleeves, I cast on 34 sts and increased 1 st at each end every 12 rows until 52 sts and then followed the pattern as written. I followed the instructions for the button band and collar as written.

Verdict: Um, I LOVE IT. Can I marry this sweater? I've never made a sweater that knit up so quickly or fit so well. I did my best to knit up the sizes of the back, fronts and sleeves that are best for my body, but I think I lucked out that this yarn behaved and stayed on gauge! The collar is really unique. Even my mom asked, "You didn't knit that, did you?"

I really like the color of the yarn. It has little flecks of hot pink and green and red in it, so I have many options with the color of my layering tee underneath. Here I've got red. Yesterday I wore it with a hot pink and today I'm wearing it with a purple (yeah, I've worn it 3 days in a row!!).

This only took about 6 weeks to knit, while working on other things. I could have knocked it out in a month for sure if I hadn't been distracted by other knits. The body went really fast (the back only took 2 days), but the collar took much longer. I ended up doing 13 repeats of the cable pattern. Once I got the hang of it, it went faster, but it was slow going in the beginning.

What else can I say? I celebrated a birthday yesterday so Juno was a fantastic birthday surprise. I also got 2 really awesome knit-related gifts from Bill, which I'll share with you in the next post. In the meantime, be thankful for the gift of knitting and everything and everyone else in your life you have to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

FO: Pink Rockstar Scarf

Another super quick project comes off the needles. This scarf is so beautiful I can't stand it. Really. You have to see it in person because the pictures don't do it justice, but I tried to take some nice close ups for you all! If you click on the pictures, they will blow up and really show the yarn.

Yarn: Tilli Tomas Rockstar in Hope, 1 skein.

Pattern: Reversible Lace Stitch, found where else? Ravelry. It's a 12 st repeat so, I cast on 26 sts and kept the first and last stitch in garter. I also slipped the first stitch every row to keep the edges neat. The stitch pattern is really lovely and it's perfect that it's reversible.

Verdict: I LOVE this scarf. The silk is so shiny and the beads are so pretty. It came out long enough to wrap around my neck and tie. It's not a scarf to keep the cold out, but it did keep my neck warm over my v-neck sweater yesterday at work.

I'm at work. Serious face.

Close up of the shiny pretty yarn.
I know I've had a lot of FOs lately, but after Juno, that trend is going to end. I'm am almost finished with Juno . . . the collar is taking WAY longer than I expected. Lots of cabling. I have three more sweaters on the horizon that I'm itching to cast on for, as well as a few accessories. No Christmas knitting for me this year means I will have more time to work on them! I enjoyed Christmas knitting last year, but it took a lot of time and I have to admit that I'm not sure how well appreciated the handknits were. Oh well. I really really really want to have Juno finished by the weekend, so send me fast-cabling-collar thoughts!

Friday, November 09, 2007

FO: Ivory Sequined Scarf

I had a lot of fun using the self-timer and taking pictures of my finished sequined scarf. I'm no photographer, but the contrast of black and white with the lighting looks cool to me!

Throw it over your shoulder.
Pattern: Reversible cabled scarf, inspiration found here. I wanted a simple stitch pattern so as not to overwhelm the delicate silky yarn and sequins. I also wanted it to be reversible. Here's what I did:

Cast on 20 sts.
Row 1: K2, [K2, P2] to last 2 sts, K2
Row 2: Repeat Row 1.
Row 3: K2, [C2B, P2, C2F, P2] to last 2 sts, K2.
Row 4: Repeat Row 3.
Repeat rows 1 - 4 until desired length. That's it!

Yarn: Tilli Tomas Disco Lights in Natural, 1 skein.

Wear it like a normal scarf.

I envisioned this to be a fun accessory for the holidays. It has just enough sparkle to add some bling to an otherwise basic black cardigan or other outfit.

Or tie it loosely around your neck.

Or wrap it several times and wear shorter around your neck.

When I bought this at Stitches, I was undecided between this color and a very light pink one with beads (you know me and pink). I didn't want to drop all that $$ on two skeins, but I become obsessed with this luxury yarn while knitting it. As luck would have it, I found 1 skein of that exact pink yarn (Tilli Tomas Rockstar in Hope) on eBay ON SALE. Whoo hoo!

I've already started knitting another fun scarf with it and I am in love with this one. I think this is going to be one of my favorite knits of all time.

The shiny variegated pinks with the delicate little beads and the lace pattern are beautiful together. I found the stitch pattern here. It's a reversible lace that has a scalloped edge and flow to it. Gorgeous. I can't put it down, which means I'm having some finishingitis with Juno. Almost all the knitting is done on Juno (just about 2/3 of the collar remains). I am hoping to have it done by Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

FO: Bea

After lots of math, mismatched dyelots and fear of running out of yarn, Bea has redeemed herself to be a decent FO!

Pattern: My own, inspired by Kim Hargreaves' Bea. I have parts of this written up for a size 34". It has stretched a little and probably would fit a 36", too. There was a lot of math involved, mostly to get the purl knots to match up correctly at the ends of the rows and to get the eyelets to match up across the waist. I used a simple K4, P1 across to get the texture and garter stitch lower body (peplum), sleeves, neckline and button bands. To get the picot effect on the edges, I did a KFB at the end of every other row and then cast off the extra stitch on the following row (I copied this trick from knitternatter Amelia). For the sleeves, I did a picot bind off.

Yarn: Debbie Bliss Wool/Cotton, color 604. 10 balls exactly, with maybe 1/2 yard to spare.
I made the never-again mistake of getting 5 balls each from 2 different dyelots. The effect was very noticable, but well hidden by changing from stockinette to garter stitch. This is why I have garter stitch sleeves from the elbow down.

Verdict: Since this was only my second attempt at designing a sweater myself, I am happy with it. The finishing touches, like the purple shell buttons and i-cord, really make it work. If I had to do it over again, I would cast on fewer stitches at the neckline and make it just a teeny bit smaller across the chest. It's pulling down towards my shoulders, which is making the raglan seam get big under the arms.

What I Learned: Writing up your own pattern is hard! It does take a lot of time and thinking, so I really do appreciate what desginers go through when they are working out a new pattern. I also learned a cardinal rule of knitting (the hard way): DON'T MIX DYELOTS!

The wool/cotton is a nice yarn to work with, but I find that Debbie Bliss yarns come with lots of knots, and usually only a few yards into the skein. The yarn did bleed a bit when it got blocked, which I was happy to see. I think it helped the dyelots blend a little more. I am going to try wearing this over a collared shirt - the yarn is just a teeny bit itchy on my skin.

Thanks for all the suggestions and help along the way. You all are the best!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

His & Hers Scarves

Wow, thank you so much for all the wonderful comments on the Cable Down Raglan. I am really flattered! Today's post is just a quick update to show you what I've been up to this week. I am actually wearing Bea right now as a type, but due to the much needed rain that finally arrived, photos haven't been taken. But, I will tease you all and say that this FO came out pretty great (given all the things that could have and did go wrong!).

At Stitches East, I splurged on a skein of Tilli Tomas Disco Lights. I have used this yarn before, in Sahara #1, and I used the Exotica in Sahara #2. I tried making my own beaded yarn with Ms. Marigold, but I realized that unless you can bead directly onto the yarn itself, carrying along a string of beads on thread is not easy (or really worth it, IMO).

Inspired by a modeled version at Stitches, I wanted to make a simple but pizzazzy (heh, is that a word?) thin scarf to throw around my neck on days when I need a little shine. A little panache, if you will. I tried several different stitch patterns, and I finally settled on this reversible cable stitch, inspired by It Ain't Plain, Jane! by Dorothy. It has a simple garter st border and cables that are similar to what I did in Something Blushy.

I also started a scarf for Bill using the Kathmandu Aran I got at Stitches. Inspired by the Harlot's One Row Handspun, this has a reversible cable in the center.

I'm sure most of you have seen the new Interweave Preview. I saw the cover Aran Cardigan at Stitches and must say, it looked really nice in person. I think this is going in the queue.

Juno is also progressing nicely. Just one sleeve, the rest of the collar, buttonbands and seaming to go!

Have a great weekend and stay tuned for Bea!