Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Summer 2008 Interweave Knits Preview is up. I don't check these things regularly (though as soon as I know they're available I get right over there!) - I saw it by accident on Ravelry. Really. Now, go and look and form some opinions and then come back here. I'll wait. here's a space taking up picture:


This is probably the last we'll see of this for awhile - secret project, you know. You can see more on Ravelry but as far as this blog goes it will be awhile.

Ok, you checked out IK?

I think this issue is very different from the spring issue, which was chock full of short sleeved cardigans in small gauges. Seriously, I think there were at least four. I liked one or two very much but it seemed like overkill. Now, in this issue, I'm a little divided. First off, I like the Roped Shell very much, the Plaid Halter is intriguing for a simple colorwork piece (me being a colorwork novice) but I would change the neckline. The Wakame Lace Tunic is stunning. But I would never force myself to enter an insane asylum by attempting such a piece, I think.

Hmm, that seems to be all my praise. I think there is a lot of colorwork here, and that may turn off a lot of people, including yours truly. Also, a couple of pieces (Elinor Tunic, Wallis Cardigan) really make an effort to draw the eye to the mid-section - stomach & hips - which I am sure few people will find attractive. I spend my fashion capital emphasizing other parts of my figure, personally. They look nice enough on slender models but I'm thinking they're not going to work for other shapes.

In the end, this is probably a good thing. I have patterns still from the spring issue I'd like to knit (esp the Sylph cardigan, which I love but cannot afford the yarn for! Tried swatching for it with a cone of my satin bamboo from Halcyon yarns but it needs a larger yarn, really) and not being distracted by a new load of summer patterns won't hurt me. Too much else to knit right now!

Ah, quick Lotus Blossom update - last night I managed to drop a st in the lace patt without noticing (I usually notice right away, I could kick myself) and the st naturally turned into two sts because there had been a ssk or something a couple of rows back and then I had to try to repair it. This pattern is just not working well for me. I do love the shape of the tank so much though! I managed to pick the sts back up and work them up to the current row - well enough that I could tell, but it wouldn't be obvious later on, I think (I really thought for a few minutes I would have to tear the whole thing out and start over) and I kept going. After working the five garter st rows after the first lace rep was finished I knit onto a spare Options cable so I could try the thing on, with half the sts on one cable and half on the other. It's too big.

It's 20" across, laid flat and not really stretched (40" total). Now, this is only a little bigger than my hip measurement but I put it over a tank top, as I would plan to wear it, and it could fall right over my hips. Ugh. I think this pattern is not destined to happen until I can get a better yarn. Gah. Frustrating thing is, I have subbed this yarn for the recommended SWTC bamboo before. On a slightly smaller needle, yes. Clearly this yarn cannot be knit on anything larger than about a three. Grh.

Beautiful day here. Time more knitting with my coffee before I start my list of things that need to happen today.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

lala no omiyage!

a couple of weeks ago I got a fabulous package of goodies from a friend who has been living in Japan for the last four years. I think he might have been stockpiling stuff to send me and finally had to throw it all in a box and ship it because he was leaving the country and couldn't put it off any longer. just a theory. I was thrilled to bits to get snacks, stationary, and (wait for it!) a couple of awesome personalized cotton tote bags that are so perfect for holding projects. May I present:

My Japanese is getting rusty but I'll go ahead and translate this as 'Lala's gifts'. Omiyage are usually presents brought back from a trip someone has taken, and various places in Japan specialize in selling specific types of goods that are then recognizable to the recipient back at home - they know where you've been.

Tonight I've been snacking on these delights:

Hmm, how to explain? They're like very crispy rice cakes with a savory soy flavor. Yum yum yum. Not a substitute for dinner but I seem to have spoiled my appetite munching on them...

I'm compensating for not having any new craft pictures. I might have to introduce more pics of my Japanese goodies when I lack crafting eye candy in future. Here's the unillustrated status report, however: I knit six feet of i-cord this week (!) for my Booga Bag. I've just rejoined the second ball of yarn to the body of the bag so now it's up to me to decide how big this thing is going to get. Also, I picked up my Lotus Blossom tank today for the first time in a couple of weeks, and finally finished the first 16 row repeat. Yeah, I had knit about 12 of the rows. There are 200 sts on size 4 needles involved, in my defense, and after screwing up my cast on three times and having to start over, I was a little anxious about understanding the lace patt so I can read it as I go and know that I'm doing ok. Actually, I picked the lotus up last night but the combination of chianti and no natural light plus starting back up with a pattern I haven't been working on led quickly to me making a mistake after half a row, and I put it down again and stepped away. That was a good move.

I have just now, before the light faded, been working on the edging for a project of CK's - this winter she knit herself a lovely cosy bolero shaped wrap sort of thing out of gorgeous alpaca - and now it has been languishing for lack of crochet action. I promised to show her how to do it but with other projects getting preferential treatment, there just hasn't been time. Also she said she wouldn't mind if I just went ahead and did it for her. I'm not crochet expert but it's not too complicated. Just a ch5 in the 4th st around sort of set up and then you ch5 and sc into the tops of your previous ch5. I think I've done this sort of edging before. Ultimately you get bell shaped chain link sleeves and the same edging around the neck and front of the piece. The patt is called the Glimmer Shrug from the Dec 2006 issue of Knit n Style and I see that not a single person has entered it on Ravelry. Not the most popular of patterns, I guess, but this one is going to be useful as well as attractive and cosy once it is finished! just in time for summer...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

nearly FO: teahouse sling

I made progress on the Teahouse Sling from Vicki Square's Folk Bags this weekend. Here is the first side as I embellished it (totally different from the photo but I wanted to do something less intricate, to be honest):


And the second side, which I went totally freestyle on - for the first side I sort of planned what I was going to do ahead of time but not on this side...


At the time that I took these pictures I had been practicing my three needle bindoff. This was the first time, I believe, that I've done it. My hand was quite cramped from the awkward holding of the needles by the time I reached the end of the bottom seam. It is quite sturdy, which is good. However, I ended up getting extra, unforeseen practice, because once I took the pictures I realized that the little thing that was niggling me about this bag was... the orientation. The whole reason I knit the thing was because it needed to fold at the bottom completely opposite to what I had done, and look a bit more like this:


Ah, yes, that's the one. This way it lies a bit flat under your arm, rather than the pattern being sort of squashed to the side whenever there's anything actually in the bag.

So I got to work my three needle BO twice. Excellent. Here is the opposite side as properly oriented, in case you're curious:


Less exciting, but I like it being all asymmetrical. I even properly blocked this thing, and of course that made it look nice for the photo shoot. I hope to find something nice to line this with and then to try it out as my new spring bag!

In a quick note on my Booga Bag - I've finished knitting with the first of two skeins of the Patons Merino Classic and put the body on a spare cable and started working the 5-6 feet of i-cord with the second skein. Then I can use exactly how much yarn I have to make this bag just how bit it will be. Look at me, all about bags suddenly! There are other things being worked on...just not this weekend.

book quiz

I don't usually do stuff like this but I couldn't resist, and I must say, it was painless and super quick. You answer a few questions, you get matched up with a book that apparently sums up your personality and tastes. Er, I'll have to be reading this one in near future (I have read a couple of other John Irvings, at least...)

You're A Prayer for Owen Meany!

by John Irving

Despite humble and perhaps literally small beginnings, you inspire
faith in almost everyone you know. You are an agent of higher powers, and you manifest
this fact in mysterious and loud ways. A sense of destiny pervades your every waking
moment, and you prepare with great detail for destiny fulfilled. When you speak, IT

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

I like that. Except perhaps the shouting part :)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

wildlife & WIP

I'm all experimentational this morning. trying another way to link a photo from flickr, again because uploading photos twice is a drag. I'm also trying to decide whether or not to give any money to flickr in order to have better photo access, so this might help me decide that it's worth it. I did lose a bunch of mostly crafty photos from last summer, because if they weren't uploaded to flickr before january when my laptop crashed its last crash and they had been deleted from my memory card on my camera, my last photo backup was in early summer when (thank goodness) I burned cds of many many many pictures that I would have been extremely sorry to lose. BACK UP YOUR IMPORTANT STUFF, PEOPLE. ok, that's out. I need to take my own advice and just decide that giving 25 big ones to flickr is worth having all my photos backed up, rather than the limitations imposed on a freeloader.

anyway! on to another WIP:


This is the extremely popular free pattern from Black Sheep, the Booga Bag. CK and I bought Patons Classic Merino in lovely variegated colors last fall with plans to knit simple bags to felt this winter. What! Now it's springtime. We're a little behind on the times, but we had other happy things to knit. CK has jewel tones, fuschia, deep purple, chocolate brown, and my 'Retro' colorway is teal, midnight blue, cream, chocolate and just a dab here and there of a deep periwinkle. I can't wait to see how this looks when fulled!

We both wanted to make our bags bigger than the pattern calls for. I decided to cast on 50% more sts and work 50% more garter rows for the base of the bag, accordingly. I checked out the like two thousand examples (ok, 1456 as of this posting, wouldn't want to exaggerate) on Ravelry and was utterly convinced that I want this bag to be a bit bigger than the pattern is written for.

The base is now finished and I'm a few rows into knitting in the round for the sides of the bag. It's nice to see how the colors look now that I'm working st st in the round rather than garter for the bottom. I love having a simple brainless something OTN, don't you? perfect evening knitting.

Oh. I nearly forgot the wildlife portion of this post. I simply wanted to share the fact that yesterday evening I looked out the back window and there were four deer munching on old grass (only recently exposed as spring has only just arrived here) out back. This morning I looked out and in precisely the same spot there were four robins. Their red breasts flashed as they hopped around looking for food as well. Signs of spring!! love it. It was made slightly more amusing by the fact that it is again snowing here. Flurries. I got myself all ready to go for a short jog down the road this morning and stepped outside only to realize it was snowing. Ok, mid-April, already!! The wind is cold. I didn't get far, I don't like running in the first place and running in cold windy snow is really not for me!

enjoy your Sunday and happy knitting!

lotus WIP

Originally uploaded by malaraky
a new WIP...

In satin bamboo, the lotus tank from IK Summer 2006. I'm using smaller needles and it's coming out fairly loose so we'll see how that ends up working out.

also, trying new-to-me 'blog this' flickr photo feature. not uploading a photo twice really appeals and means I can conserve space on blogger. so far it looks like I can only use one photo per post so either (a) this isn't going to work for me for some purposes or (b) I might end up posting more frequently, but shorter length. we shall see!

Saturday, April 12, 2008


did you know that today is Drop Everything and Read Day??

don't worry, I just found out, myself. Good thing it was a volunteer-at-the-library day for me too. Or I would have missed it completely. It is also Beverly Cleary's birthday. You still have about six hours (if you're on the east cost!) so do it! drop what you're doing and pick up your book. have fun!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

FO: Origami Cardi

It's official. Although I blocked the pieces nearly two weeks ago and seamed pretty much the entire thing last weekend, today I wove in the last two ends (having decided that the lower parts of the front pieces were connected well enough to the side seams and that the last couple of inches of each will hang free as the pattern sort of hints at) and took pictures.

I didn't claim they were great pictures, but I have no assistants around at present and didn't bother to get out of my lazy Sunday clothes either. The bookcase had to suffice for holding the camera in place while the self-timer clicked off its ten seconds, and a well-placed candle underneath got the height just about right.

Yesterday at the local natural food store CK and I found a lovely shawl pin masquerading as a hair decoration and snapped it up. It could hold a pinch of hair in it (useless!), or the front pieces of a cardigan (perfect!).

A few quick notes on mods before I forget. Ah, and materials: Patons Classic Merino in Peacock. About five skeins, at 223 yards each. I used size 8 needles and got gauge while swatching but then found that my knitting was coming out too wide so I backed up and figured out that by knitting the smallest size my finished measurements would come out at the second size, which is what I was aiming for. That's my favorite kind of math, as rather than reworking all the st counts myself, I could just use the numbers for the smallest size and come out at the size I wanted. I do find that when I get going on an actual piece of a project my gauge loosens up a bit so even if I get gauge while swatching I can't trust myself.

This pattern is quite forgiving in terms of bust size, as it drapes so loosely in front. I like the short back a lot, and knit the sleeves shorter than called for, as I didn't want the massive cuffs at my wrists. I worked them 16 inches before starting the raglan decreases, and they're 23 inches long shoulder to cuff.

The back was the only tricky bit, really. The st count was incredibly wide, so there was some modification needed. I figured out how wide I wanted the bottom to be, and then looked for a corresponding st number in one of the other pieces. I saw that largest sized front piece called for casting on 129 sts, which was close to the width that I wanted, so rather than cast on 159 for the smallest size back piece as the pattern called for, I knit the directions for the 129 width. You could get the same result by simply subtracting a few berry-in-a-box repeats but this seemed to do the trick as well. In the end, the bottom part is 22.5 inches wide.

After working the 4.5 inches in patt as called for I knew I needed to be careful with my reduced number of sts as if I decreased every other row in st st up the raglan back portion, I would end up with a point at the neck rather than a sawed of triangle. Does that make sense? I would have lost all my sts by the time I reached the correct length, and it would have been ridiculous. In retrospect, skipping the triple decreases in the pattern that happen four times after finished the berry border would have solved much of my problem. I didn't figure that out in time, doing three of the alternate row sssk/k3tog bits before realizing I was hemorrhaging sts.

After that I decreased every fourth row (rather than every other) four times and then every other row as called for, ending up with about 27 sts for the neckline, as desired. I'm getting more comfortable with spacing out my decreases, so that is a good thing. I also wanted the slope of the upper back to match the raglan slope of the sleeves so that was a consideration.

All in all, it turned out well. The back is still plenty wide even though I knit the smallest size and took out 30 sts!

Here is another project, not yet finished, the Teahouse Sling. I've done some of the embellishing now that the Origami Cardi is not demanding my attention. I chose some leftover satin bamboo for the detail and did my own freehand-ish crocheted stitching. I also single crocheted the straps edges for support and contrast. I like it. I want to do the other size in similar fashion and then do the three needle bindoff for the bottom. I plan to line this, just have to find some suitable fabric.

One last side note -- I've just ordered Norah Gaughan's Knitting Nature, and started queuing up some of the gorgeous projects from that book on Ravelry! I've had my eye on this book for awhile and look forward to getting some new ideas!