Tuesday, November 27, 2007

yarn yarn more yarn

Over the holiday weekend we headed east. About as east as you can get. We detoured slightly to visit this:
The fabulous storerooms of Halcyon Yarns in Bath ME. Drool-worthy.

I've ordered from them twice and hoped to avoid the serious (never discounted) postal fees by stocking up on some additional cones of pearl cotton and silky bamboo, two of the nicest yarns I've worked with, and they come on cones so there is no joining for larger projects.
CK is fondling Harrisville Highland Tweed in washed skeins, really pretty and sturdy stuff that she has already cast on for mittens with!

I'm just waiting for some nice light and a free five minutes to photograph my loot from this place, as well as a couple of other yarns suppliers in Halifax NS (our destination.) Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

FO: Lace Leaf Pullover

At last! According to my notes I started this in August...yes, I do remember working on it in August. It languished a bit in October particularly--I reknit much of the bottom after disliking my waist shaping, and reknit much of the top after screwing up my short row efforts to make the bust area sensibly shaped, and oh, I reknit both sleeves after finishing them while watching the US Open and realizing I just wouldn't be happy with how snugly they fit. Now they're loose and comfy and great. I finished reknitting them Saturday, blocked the whole thing that evening:

And seamed the still slightly-damp-and-smelling-of-sheep-in-the-rain sleeves Sunday, finishing setting them in (had grafted live stitches at the top of the sleeve cap to the shoulder sts already) Sunday night and wished for nice light to snap a picture of it. Still no good light (it's snowy here!) but here we go:

Pattern: Teva Durham's Lace Leaf Pullover from Loop de Loop.
Yarn: Knitpicks Cadena in Mahogany (5 skeins)
Needles: size 10.5
Mods: I added the leaf motif to the back left hip as well as working it as directed in the front top and bottom and one sleeve. I completely reworked the math for a smaller gauge with the different yarn and smaller needles.

This pullover is basically my first proper sweater to ever (a) get finished (b) fit well enough to ensure lots of use. Yay!

While LLP was drying I worked on these:

My fourth (can you believe it?) pair of 'Fetching' mitts. Cascade 220 Heathers. Progressing well, started a couple of weeks ago and good for working on just a few rows at a time since the metal dpns hurt my fingers after a little while.

And by popular request I have finally managed to pose for some shots of Josephine. I've worn it a few times already and I really like it. I would totally knit another in a cotton or bamboo for summer, it was so easy and turned out so well! I might try to knit it in the round this time though to eliminate the seams. And I would knit the top section longer so that the ribbon could be tied under the bust. As it is, I'm wearing it without any tie.

Exciting news: I'm headed to the Halcyon Yarns showroom in Bath, Maine tomorrow!! I LOVE the satin bamboo and pearl cotton (both on cones, yay yardage!) I've ordered from there in the past and I have been making lists of yarns/projects in preparation for tomorrow. They never seem to give a break on shipping so I'm hoping to make this worth my while and plan ahead for some projects. Hopefully after the holiday weekend there will be some excellent haul!!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Snakeskin cuff pattern

I knit this back in July and intended to write it up but apparently never managed to. Today is a good day for tying up some loose ends.

At last, the Snakeskin cuff pattern! A quick gift pattern--I feel pretty much like a rockstar with mine on!

First a couple of notes from my Dragon Scales cuff pattern to get us started:
By the way, if you are wondering how to knit with beads, please check here is some help from Knitty, where I first got the idea for knitting beaded cuffs. The instructions for adding a bead to your knitting (they're pre-strung, btw):

Insert the needle into the stitch to be knit, slide a bead up close to the needle, and pull the bead through to the front as you complete the stitch. The bead should sit on the right leg of the "V" formed by the knit stitch.

Thanks, Elizabeth!

-First, select some DMC no. 5 Perle cotton and US size 1 (2.25 mm) double pointed needles. Don't be distracted by your ordinary cotton floss, it's not the same and not handy for knitting. I tried.

-Find a few beads that will fit on the cotton, if you want. I found some interesting square glass beads at a local beading shop but this would look nice without beads too. Oh, and I used sew on snaps to connect the ends around the wrist, but be creative--I've used hook and eye closures, and you can always sew on a couple of buttons and then crochet loops to go around them!

-String on the number of beads that you want. I chose to just do 7 and place them intermittently through the knitting, for a little glitz.

-Cast on 18 stitches. I used a long-tail cast on, but you may do whatever you like
-Knit five rows, ending on a right side row if you used the long tail cast on, or knit an additional row if you started on the right side in the first place.

Pattern rows: (based on 'snakeskin' stitch pattern from Vogue Stitchionary)
Row 1 [RS]: sl 1, k1, yo, ssk, (k2, with yarn in front sl 2 sts, bring yarn to back, return 2 sts to left needle, k2,) twice, k2, k2tog, yo, k2.
Row 2 & 4 [WS]: purl
Row 3 [RS]:
sl 1, k1, yo, ssk, (with yarn in front sl 2 sts, bring yarn to back, return 2 sl sts to left needle, k2, k2) twice, with yarn in front sl 2 sts, bring yarn to back, return 2 sl sts to left needle, k2, k2tog, yo, k2.

Repeat the pattern to desired length. I repeated it 16 times, placing beads intermittently through the scale pattern. You could omit beads or use as many as you like.

After 16 repeats I knitted five more rows in garter stitch to overlap the initial garter stitch rows. I blocked it to straighten it out well and sewed in two black snaps, spaced about an inch apart.

My cuff was designed to overlap to allow sewn in snaps to connect. Depending on how you want yours to work, you might want to knit a little less so they just meet and then button or hook or whatnot. Let me know how it turns out!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

lego knitting machine

I got sort of hyp'knit'ized by this.

Sleeve cap progress is being made on the Lace Leaf Pullover! Took out Pride and Prejudice (had choice of Colin Firth version or Keira Knightly version and went for the latter...having seen the former many many times) from the library earlier, have tea made, have plans to finish sleeves tonight and block them immediately and hopefully seam them tomorrow!! Also I finally have a couple of pictures of me wearing Josephine so I'll be downloading those this weekend and posting them too. Yay crafty weekend time!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

bite it, sleeve cap.

Despite doing copious amounts of math today at work (are your taxes due tomorrow?) I broke down tonight and finally did the math for the lace leaf pullover sleeve caps. What with my yarn, needle size, and gauge being completely different from the pattern, I spotted the sleeve cap tutorial ("perfect bell shaped sleeve caps every freaking time") in the new holiday IK a week or two ago when the latest issue arrived in my mailbox, and thought, great! I'll do the math, and get a perfect sleeve cap. Folks, the Pythagorean theorem was involved. say no more.

I did the math.

I dug out a decent pencil. Sharpened it. Found graph paper at the bottom of the stationary section of my so-called desk. Remembered that I love graph paper.

I graphed the sleeve cap.

I agonized over using an even or odd number of stitches, as, looking at the top of my almost-completed-sleeve, I noticed I'd increased one extra time at the top on one edge and not the other; I think at the time I was going for an odd number of stitches total since I had 7 stitches at the top edge to match up with, and I wanted to decrease an even number of sts each side of that center stripe. A testament to my abilities with a crochet hook and laddered stitches, I dropped a stitch on the other side and did a kfb increase four rows back. The sts were a little tight, but it worked. that's a first.

Of course, second glass of wine down the hatch (why won't I ever learn?) I forgot to bind off four stitches each side before really getting started with my graphed chart and the every other row decreases (x 12 or so) and wondered why my sleeve was still so wide....luckily the great thing about the KP Cadena I'm using is that it can be ripped back and the stitches picked up perfectly in line with no tinking and no laddering. It just stays where I want it till I get the 10.5 size needle poked back through. Backed up to the appropriate point four rows back or so and bound off those silly stitches. Now I'm really on track. I think it just might be this weekend that I could have a FO. If I could just get these sleeves finished up and block the pieces Friday night.... Saturday afternoon or Sunday all I would have to do is set in the sleeves and it would be ready to keep me warm.

winter weather advisory tomorrow night, possible 6 inches of snow/slush! And tonight getting home at 6 in the dark it was 55 degrees. What is that about? happy knitting!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

short days/happy package!

Well, summer time has officially come to an end, with the blessing of the US Congress. A week later than the rest of the world (don't quote me on that, but I do know it was a week later than Norway), mornings are brighter and...it's completely black outside at 5 pm. Luckily something very cheery arrived late last week and I managed to use some of the earlier sunlight to photograph it.

What could be better than a package in the mail?

A package containing YARN, of course!

And what could be better than a package with yarn in it?

A package that I wasn't expecting at all!!

And what could be better than an unexpected package with squishy beautiful yarn in it?

A surprise package that not only includes luscious handdyed yarn, but a funky Japanese craft magazine, knitting themed notecards, not one but TWO mix CDs with great music (and pretty handmade covers!), and Japanese candy too!!!

Thanks to subliminalrabbit for totally surprising me and making my day!!

The yarn is Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport and I am considering what it will grow up to be...

I know there has been a severe shortage of knitting related pictures but the light has been terrible and I haven't been home to see much of it anyway. Today was better. Here is the new pair of Fetching that I cast on for last night:

The yarn is Cascade 220 Heathers in Purple Jewel. Needles size 7 which is supposed to be the smaller of the recommended sizes for the yarn but a size up from the pattern suggestion. I'm hoping they'll just come out ok. It's good knitting for when you're on the phone or watching tv, since I pretty much have the pattern memorized by now. This is my first time using Cascade wool, how exciting!

In other knitting progress, the U-Neck Back to School vest is coming along:

I know, it doesn't look that pretty, but I think it will once it's being worn. It fits, at last check, in any case! I still want to rework the front neckline so I am knitting the back part first after I divided front from back.

And the lace leaf pullover is grafted and waiting its second sleeve and for me to work out the setting in of the sleeves and shaping of the sleeve cap. Luckily the IK winter issue arrived Friday and there's a whole article about setting in sleeves! I could follow the pattern but what with the liberties I've taken with yarn selection and gauge, I might be setting myself up for disaster. And hey, I have loads of time to figure it out for myself, right?

Riiight. Happy knitting!

The Subtle Stripe

Unable to find a suitable v-neck pattern to contour my tall, slender Scandinavian S.O.’s long-torso and slim hipped dimensions, I came up with this more-than-meets-the-eye vest. Knit in the round with a subtle bas-relief vertical striping pattern, it also features twisted stitch ribbing and narrower racer stripe details under the arms. Although my muse may not currently need it, the vertical stripes are slimming and understated, perfect for any fashion conscious fellow.

The knitting is very simple once you get the hang of the twisted stitch & purl combo at the edge of the stripes, and it's knit in the round to the armholes. I’ve suggested using a little bit of short row shaping around the shoulders for a better fit and then kitchener stitch to join the front and back of the vest at the top, meaning there is not a single seam to be sewn up on this piece! In fact, the finishing was so easy I was inspired to immediately cast on a second one for my dad.

The Knitpicks Andean Silk is soft and smooth to work with and blocks well, though it hardly needs it. The alpaca-silk-merino blend is quite warm, perfect for transitioning into the winter months in cool climates, and keeping that thermostat turned down a notch or two through the dark months. In warmer areas or for a longer season of wearing, I'd suggest substituting a different worsted weight yarn so use your imagination! When blocking be sure to pay attention to the straight lines of the piece -- they may tend to curve slightly in one direction depending on your personal knitting style, but are easily coaxed into place.


XS [S, M, L, XL] (shown in size XS [Cranberry], M [Olive])

Chest: 36[38, 40, 42, 44] inches
Length: 22.5[22.5, 23, 23, 23.5] inches


KnitPicks Andean Silk [55% superfine alpaca, 23% silk, 22% merino wool; 96yd per 50g skein]; color: Cranberry or Olive 7 [7, 8, 8, 9] skeins

1 32-inch US #5/3.75mm circular needle

1 24-inch US #5/3.75mm circular needle

4 stitch holders/spare cable needle

5 stitch markers (one should be unique to mark beginning of row)

Scrap yarn ties/safety pins to help with picking up stitches around openings


Safety pin

Tape measure

Tapestry needle


22 sts/30 rows = 4 inches in stockinette stitch

Click on the Paypal button for your copy of The Subtle Stripe. You'll receive a pdf copy via email after payment. If you're in a big hurry leave me a comment or message me on Ravelry (I'm malaraky over there), that's the quickest way to get to me! Thanks!

[11.16.08 ETA: You can now purchase this pattern and download the pdf right away through Ravelry:]

Or use Paypal here if you like, just make sure to send me a message or leave a comment so I send you the pattern - I don't check my Paypal balance every day!

Saturday, November 3, 2007