Tuesday, December 29, 2009

end of the year knitting

I managed to get one of the lace repeats on the big shawl done on the lovely long train ride. I haven't yet broken into the Malabrigo I mentioned on my last post! There has been some other knitting going on, including some that I'm not ready to talk about yet, and some that didn't go how I would have liked... I started knitting a rich plummy pink baby thing and the yarn was just all wrong and I don't have access to most of my stash here at home so I didn't think I'd be able to come up with anything better. I was wrong, though, I had some good yarn just waiting to get back into action, and it's going to be excellent. No pictures yet though, and I'm designing something so my plan is to write it up and make it available somehow.

It seems like I'm so used to running around like a headless chicken that I can't sit by the fire for more than 15 minutes without feeling the need to get up and do something else. I'm working on it. In good news, the visit home has involved the gifting of a large super secret project that is frankly awesome and was well received by the lovely friends who had to be patient while the last little bits were sewn in and even gamely closed their eyes and reached their hands out to feel the fabric before seeing the completely piece (which I worked on in partnership with another fabulous knitter, more on that in the new year...). There was also a visit to a Vermont alpaca farm with a staggering 58 alpacas, the purchase of some related yarn (but of course!), and even my secret santa gave me yarn! Here was my second clue in the recent SS deal:

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Another lovely piece of impressive art with many many small letters cut out and pasted on. My SS is not a knitter, but had seen me knitting and asked a few very subtle questions about the needles etc - I had no idea what she was up to. Clever person, she went down to the yarn store closest to campus and asked for help and they hooked her up with a very colorful skein of Misti Alpaca sock yarn that is a beautiful blend of alpaca, merino, silk and nylon. What with the crazy not-having-packed and late-night-party before leaving town, I didn't photograph it before leaving and also haven't yet sorted out downloading photos onto my parent's laptop while I'm home. I also had my knitting projects for my two week trip picked out and didn't want to confuse myself by bringing that skein with me.

It's cold away from the fire so I think I'll put the kettle on and get back to that baby thingie. And hopefully download some pictures later on to show you a bit more of what's been going on, knitting-wise.

Just one more piece of colorful pretty for you:

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One of my residents does some very cool collage-painting stuff and she gave this to me at the floor's own Secret Santa gathering before all the girls left for home for the holidays. It's really neat and I haven't yet figured out how I am going to display it.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

train knitting / goals update

Almost a month ago I posted about some December knitting goals.

Turns out I have had even less time since finishing my assignments and classes for the term on 7 Dec than while I was still attending class. I managed to cram a lot of knitting time in last term. But now that I'm free, so to speak, I've been spending a lot of time running around trying to get miscellaneous things done, like fitting in extra hours at work, wrapping up my practicum, organizing a secret santa gift and assorted clues, and getting enough sleep. So there hasn't been much knitting. I did finish that pair of socks, and one endpaper mitt, but as far as finishing off either of the sweaters I pictured in that Nov goals post, it just hasn't happened. And there's no point in bringing nearly finished projects with me on my train ride, as they're not a good use of space. Hopefully January will be better for doing the finishing on those pieces.

So what am I bringing on the train, then? Well, I'm hopefully going to be ready to work on the lace border of Jared Flood's Bridgewater Shawl. I swatched two lace repeats...

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And looked at the oversized garter square I'd come out of the first stages with... and multiplied out the edge lengths and figured I'd better pick up more stitches than the pattern calls for, because the whole thing is coming out so huge. I hope this doesn't come back to bite me, but I know when I knit the Hemlock blanket I couldn't block that thing out to drape as nicely as everyone else's. Frustrating.

Instead of picking up 153 sts per side (my piece isn't even a square, because of my row and st gauge not being equal...), it looked like I'd better pick up 203 per side. The lace patt is a multiple of 10 plus 3. And when I worked around at picking up the sts it worked out more nicely to do 203, 193, 203, 193 - that would be the slightly varying lengths showing their colors. Of course I counted around last night to see if I'd really picked up the numbers I wanted, and they're off a bit on a couple of sides. It's so many ridiculous sts to count that I'm not worried, I'll take it with me to a friend's place this afternoon to work on and see how I get on with the lace chart. I will fudge the sts to make it work, and really hope that I can get the first round going correctly so that it's good train knitting, not too stressful. I have gotten miles better at reading my own lace so that I can tell if I've missed a YO or something and just need to pick it up from the row below rather than backing up 800 sts to fix the problem. Can you imagine?

And I have a backup small project in case the lace becomes too much: a single skein of Malabrigo laceweight in olive that I have been struggling to find a good pattern for, and a copy of a new Knitty shawl pattern, Citron:

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I'm not even going to swatch. I'm just going to enjoy the Malabrigo.

Oh, yes, you were wondering about the answer to the riddle I posted before? Think you know the answer?


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(just giving you the chance to go back to the previous post and see the riddle before you see the answer...)



...






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WIP: Endpaper mitts / secret santa riddle

I clearly have a crafty and inventive secret santa - I got home yesterday to find this in my mailbox...

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Do you know the answer?

So I've been working on my endpaper mitts, which I started over a year ago. Yikes. Finished one, though, and the second one is coming right along.

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They're very pretty and fit so nicely, perfect for going up a coat sleeve.

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Tomorrow I'm getting on a train and there will be lots of knitting time.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

NaKnitMo results

Halfway through December, let me tell you how my attempt to knit 30000 stitches in November went.

It went really well.

It went so well that I upped my goal to 50000 and met that as well.


57399 / 50000 stitches. 115% done!

I found that I was being especially conscious of using all my little bits of time to knit - in class, in the afternoon, in the evening... might have had a little something to do with it being that time in the term when I was looking for procrastination tactics.

My stitches really added up and I was kind of astonished at how easy it was to make my goal. I even though I might keep doing it through December and see if I could get to six figures.

I've stopped, though. I like keeping track of things and watching my progress (hello, word counts), but the counting was taking away from my knitting time and getting to be a distraction. So maybe it'll be a yearly thing.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

(maga)zines

Had a fun experience last Tuesday afternoon - I met a grad of my program over the weekend at dinner at another friend's apartment, and she invited me to visit a zine library housed at a social center in the city. They have lots of zines (what's a 'zine'? you might ask) and they have set up a cataloguing system, and they need a bit of help finishing up taking stock of the collection.

It was fun to learn about the system that has evolved under the oversight of two recent grads of my library program, and to get started helping out with describing and entering zine details into their database. I was also kind of excited to pull out the DIY box and discover a couple of issues of Knitcircus within; I've had the blog in my RSS reader for a year or two but never encountered a physical issue. And now I see on the website that starting in 2010 they'll go totally digital.

That's one of the really interesting things about zines. They're so ephemeral, they can be made of just a few pages, and there might only be a few copies. Then after you discover one that you like, you might find that the artist or producer has moved online. But one of the coolest things about zines is the tactile nature of them, I think, because they can be composed of moving parts, or layered materials that don't really translate to digital formats.

I kind of can't wait to go back and look at more zines.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Now that's some tough knitting.

From Dude Craft: Jim Simpson - The toughest knitter alive.

And Craftivism.

Ooooh, it's a series! Crazy. And also inspirational :)

FO: Toe-up knee-highs

I can finally say I've finished a pair of socks.

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I feel confident that my next pair will be more beautiful, though these are certainly functional!!

These languished for the entire summer after I made good progress during my one giant lecture last academic year. I came back to them recently thinking that I would just frog the first sock back to the length of the second sock, since it was 75% finished, but when I looked more closely at them again and tried on the first one I thought, nah, I'll just go for it.

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I'm not really into the pink any more and it looks too busy for my liking, but this yarn is nice and stretchy - Patons - and I bought it on a two for one sale, I think, so I wanted to use one ball per sock, which is pretty much what I did. Size 0 needles. I used Wendy's toe-up sock pattern, and changed it just a little to do a three stitch wide faux cable at the back, mirrored ones, so it looks a bit like a seam which kept these slightly more interesting.

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So for the center back 12 sts:
p2, k3, p2, k3, p2 for three rows
p2, sl1, k2, p2, k2, sl 1 for two rows
p2, holding slipped stitch to the front, k2, k slipped st, p2, work over next 2 k sts to k slipped stitch, then without dropping it (because 2 other k sts are in the way) k the 2 stitches coming up next, and drop that slipped st off when you come to it, having already knit it, p2.

I'm sure there's a better way to explain that, but when you're working it it makes sense. Repeat these six rows until the sock is as tall as you like and then do a couple of inches of k1p1 rib.

My next pair will be shorter and have a more interesting pattern. And also I learned that it's a pretty good idea to increase a few sts as you progress up a calf, since the knitting needs to cover more ground. Oops. Hindsight is 20/20, right?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

FO: Quimper

I finished Quimper just an hour or so before leaving for the party last Friday night - talk about under the gun!

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This was a lovely knit, and though it doesn't photograph well because of the black yarn, I'm pleased with it.

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It stretched out quite a bit in blocking, but drapes super nicely and will go with everything. Hooray!

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I didn't use as much yarn as I expected. I think I used about five balls in the end of Elann Luna in ebony. I knit the whole thing on US 2 1/2 (3 mm) except for the sleeves on US 4 (3.5mm) needles. I actually realized later that I think the main body portion, under the sleeves (it's knit top down) should have been on the larger needles. I like it knit on the smaller needle though, and it's plenty big enough. I knit the 34" size, and it covers my 36" measurement just fine, though of course it's designed to hang a bit open in the front. And I had the perfect button from my travels to DC last June :)

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So we have the first of what I hope will be a few FO posts this December...

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