Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Goals

I did well with the NaKnitMo goals, just clinching my new goal of 50000 sts in November. It turns out that those stitches really do add up, even when you're a full time student.

Yesterday was my single biggest day, nearly 7500 sts in one day, because I'm determined to finish Quimper to wear over my party dress on Friday at the department holiday celebration. This pattern is really coming along. I cranked out a few inches of the lower body yesterday in class and down at the campus pub in the evening, and today hope to go back to the bottom of the sleeves - which I left as live sts on spare cables and finish up those borders. Then with whatever yarn I have left I'll keep working on the body and we'll see how long it ends up being. If I can block it by tomorrow night I think I can wear it Friday. Otherwise, I will be scrambling for a coverup!

My next goal - and November went so well that I'm feeling pretty positive - is to clean up my list of WIPs for 2009. December is going to be the month of finishing. (I can do this because I haven't had time to even think about holiday knitting, so I don't have many gifts waiting for attention. And even if I did, they'd need finishing!)

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Who's with me?

Monday, November 23, 2009

button change

Choosing buttons for a project can be tough. And even once you attach a button or buttons you might realize the choice was not a good one.

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Early in 2009 I was knitting up the first skein of cashmere I ever purchased into a lovely soft cowl. I used every inch of the yarn. I devised a way to fasten it with a button to keep it cozier around my neck. I chose a special handmade button, clay with blue glaze; I think CK and I picked up four similar ones at a yarn shop in Vermont a couple of years ago. They were pretty. We didn't know what we'd use them for.

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I haven't used this cowl much despite its super-softness - the blue button is so heavy it weighs down the fabric. I finally made a change.

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It can be hard to revisit an FO and fix it up so that it's more usable, but in this case it seems better. I even added another button option so that it is more adjustable - I can button it to hold it under my chin if I have it drawn up over my head and ears, or button it closer to my neck if I'm wearing it as a cowl. The extra little button is to tell my fingers which opening that button is for.

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Yesterday at an outing that involved a beach, a campfire, and a chilly wind I wore it up around my ears and the new buttons worked a treat. They're nothing fancy, just green plastic, but they also match my winter coat perfectly.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Revisiting an old FO: My original Clapotis

Clapotis was one of the first projects where I purposely chose a luxury yarn, and knit up every scrap of it, inspired by one of the women in my knitting group at the time, which was the first one I have ever visited frequently. I miss it there, it was supportive and friendly and relaxed and welcoming.

One of the women was knitting Clapotis in Koigu KPPPM, and I loved the way the mottled sock yarn knit up. Just before I left the San Francisco area to move to Japan to teach English for a year (mid 2005), I treated myself to three skeins of Koigu; I think I needed a traveling project. That may well have been my most extravagant yarn purchase to date. (Oh, how the times have changed.) When I finished the knitting I had moved half a world away.

And I never blocked the thing. Four years later and I never blocked it. I like the pattern so much that I've knit three of them since and I'd knit one again. It's a great, simple, entertaining pattern that works with pretty much any yarn.

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Over the weekend I was procrastinating over an assignment, wandering around my room and picking things up and putting them away, tidying, when I saw my original clap over the back of a chair. I wear it all the time. I had just had a conversation with a knitting friend where he remarked that it wasn't very big.

It blocked out a treat. It still looks wonderful in terms of wear, matches everything, and was a great investment for three skeins of Koigu. A quick soak, a quick block over the back of the couch on a brightly colored towel, and I got a compliment yesterday from a total nonknitter, and then a second. It looks really nice all blocked out. I'm quite pleased.

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I have to try to do this random blocking business a bit more often.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

public art

Recently a call went out around the crafty Halifax community for pieces to contribute to a telephone pole cozy for the upcoming crafter's market.

I've been working on a small contribution.

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Thanks to RP for giving me some of her scrap yarn. It will look great on that telephone pole.

If you're in the HRM and want to use some of your unwanted yarn to keep this telephone pole warm contribute to some public art, you have until 4 Dec, and contact Hello Pineapples about dropping off your piece(s).

Sunday, November 15, 2009

New Twist C

The winter ed of the Twist Collective is up, stunning as always!

A huge congrats goes out to a friend in Vermont, LadySaphira who designed a gorgeous sweater, Cambridge Cables, that made the cover of the issue!!

I am loving Tanit's Jacket, and there's a neat article about what happens when you substitute yarns for this pattern, as well. I like the kettle-dyed option.

Bright Star is also super cute (do we see a cropped jackets theme here? I love them!)

The photography is gorgeous, and there's a really nice variety of winter accessories in there as well. One of these days I'll learn double-knitting.

Ok, back to work!! And hopefully some knitting during study breaks - if I can make it to my month-long goal of 30,000 sts today I'll up the goal to at least 50,000, seeing as today is the midpoint of the month and I'm nearly to my original goal. Yeah, Sunday knitting!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Gauge issues

As I said in my last post, the Bridgewater shawl is flying off my needles.

Earlier this week I reached the widest point of the inner garter square, 205 stitches. [Hee hee BB, I remember when it was only a couple of stitches, too!] I started with 1 st cast on, so at that point I had knit 205 rows, give or take, increasing a st at the start of each row. The beauty of the lacy garter is that gauge is not really a problem so much; I am very relaxed with this knitting and on size 4 needles, the laceweight is very loose. When I got to the apex of the garter square a few days ago, I didn't have time to get the pattern out and find out how I was going to get back down the other side of that mountain.

So I brought a different WIP with me to a class, an unfinished sleeve in simple stockinette, on much smaller needles. And I didn't give any thought to my tension. Here are the results:

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Wow. Something tells me I just wouldn't like my Drops Cardigan 97-18 if one sleeve was well fitted and the other a baggy mess starting at the elbow. Ick. Rippit, rippit... Clearly I need to sort of reboot my fingers when I move from a lacy open loose pattern to something more structured.

I put my gauge lesson into practice last weekend. It might be something about the temp outside -- suddenly perfect for a big ole sweatercoat and me with none to be found - but I suddenly had the urge to dig out the special yarn I got for the Tilted Duster (Rav link) out of IK Fall 2007 and at least swatch it properly. [Rav tells me I queued this pattern on 31 July 2007. Woah.] I think I swatched it a long time ago and used size 10 needles, as are called for. I've realized in the last year or so that I tend to need to go down at least one needle size, usually two to start. So I actually swatched on 7s, then 6s, as my gauge on 7s looked too big. After blocking, however, 7s were perfect.

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The yarn was custom made at Yarnia in Portland OR, a blend of three grays, a thick alpaca strand, three thin strands of dark gray wool, and a strand of silvery silk. Approximately 50/30/20. I think it's going to rock.

Once the swatch dried you could see the silvery strand much more clearly:

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Funny thing was, after that careful swatching and blocking, my hands relaxed again when I cast on - I thought I'd be sensible and do the 40" size so it would fit over a couple of layers and be plenty comfortable - and my first few rows of the back piece came out about 25 inches wide when it should be 20 inches wide.

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Even with the inch or so I'd probably lose in blocking, this was coming out WAY too big. I tore it out, considered my options, and knowing that the fabric I'd produced when not giving st st much thought was looser than the lovely dense swatch I'd made, I cast back on with the same 86 sts for the back and focused more on my hands. It still seems a little big, but much better, so I'm going to keep going and see how it comes along. If I can get the gauge right, this is going to be a fast knit, I think.

Probably not fast enough to finish before winter comes for us, though.

WIP: Bridgewater Shawl

I've been getting a lot done on the Bridgewater shawl, especially with class time knitting. In fact, this shawl is the reason my NaKnitMo count is flying; I may have lowballed my capabilities for the month and am considering revising my goal upward.

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Earlier this week I reached the widest point of the inner garter square, 205 stitches. Just before I got to the widest point, my first skein ran out, but it was close.

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It's kind of hard to get a sense of what this is going to be like; for right now it's just a massive pile of garter stitch. Luckily I have an imagination that includes fabric once blocked, while my classmates who've seen me chugging away at these stitches don't really understand how it will become beautiful in a more defined way.

That's alright.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Rav milestone

Wooooooo I just noticed that Ravelry is poised on the precipice of half a million crafty folk! 499,640 in the community. Amazing, isn't it?

Carry on.

Today's ensemble

Sometimes I get a big kick out of myself when I look down at what I have on and realize that half of it is knitted. Ok, not really half. But a sweater, usually, and then maybe mittens, a scarf, a hat. Today is perfect wool weather. And this is half of what I wore to class this morning:

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All wool. And so cozy.

I am also wearing a skirt today. With shiny tights. At some point I'll get around to some legwarmers, and then maybe I really will be able to wear knits from head to toe. And also a matching hat/mitten set wouldn't be a bad idea. I have a bunch of yarn left over from Quincy, so perhaps I'll get going on that.

Monday, November 2, 2009

FO: Quincy

Wow! It has been so long I think I forgot what it is like to finish something! This hat, in its wonderful simplicity, was a very satisfying and quick knit. I worked on it a bit in class, a bit at home, and then put in the final crunch of grafting the rectangle ends together, picking up stitches around the built in i-cord, and decreasing the crown for a really pretty, classy hat. Big fan.

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And I've been getting nonstop compliments from knitters and non-knitters alike. It did come out a smidge short over the ears so I plan to wet block it out so that it'll come down a little lower.

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Here's the crown and tidy decreases:

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It's so satisfying when you can finish the top of a hat in one half of a lecture and then break out a different knitting project. If only it were possible to set in sleeves and pick up stitches for a neckline during class - I couldn't possibly focus on anything other than the project so that idea is out!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

NaKnitMo / Treat bags

This should be interesting - I've just signed up for NaKnitMo (National Knitting Month) after reading Knit Nutt's post about how excited she is for it...

30,000 stitches in the month of November? That's 1000 per day. Not really a problem when you look at some of the projects I have on the go that just motor along in simple stitches and add up fast (nothing bulky on the needles at the moment) but when you factor in full time academics and 1, 2, 3, part time jobs, plus all the other activities... it may become a true challenge! Even if it just helps me pick up the needles every day for a few minutes it'll be worth it. I signed up on Ravelry here. Someone will keep track of the sts knit by the group as a whole and come up with a monthly total.

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In other crafty-ish weekend goings-on... I thought I'd have time to blog this yesterday but it did not happen so just in case you have not had enough Halloween...

I put together treat bags for the 26 girls who live on my floor. I picked up huge boxes of candy a few weeks ago, then left it to the last minute to figure out how to distribute it. I was picturing small orange gift bags with black ribbon or something like that, one for each doorknob down the hall. Of course when I went to the dollar store Friday afternoon after a very hectic week, there was nothing of the sort. I totally lucked out and found these awesome children's birthday party goodie bags, though, with a skull and bones topped by a pirate hat...

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Perfect! And they had lots in stock, so I got 40 in the end, and did them up for my 26 students and then the residence staff. First they had to be filled up with candy...

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And then I cut up some random orange cardstock I had, punched a hole in them somewhere, and wrote Happy Halloween on them.

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Tied the tag on with black ribbon, curled it, and set them all in a box, ready for sneaky morning distribution. It took a bit chunk out of my Friday night to get that all ready to go, even with a bit of help from a friend downstairs putting candy into each bag before I dressed them up a bit more. I woke up Saturday, threw on sweats and ran around the floor and the campus putting them out - and as far as I know, no one saw me! So I was happy with that, because I wanted the whole hallway to have the bags on handles before people started their days. I had a bunch of nice thank yous on my white board later in the day. Fun times.

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