Saturday, December 30, 2006

She's not REALLY a knitter

Despite my earlier post, below, proof that The Bean is not truly a knitter. Yet.

The backstory: From time to time, I do a little bit of mystery shopping. You know, I shop "undercover" and then report back on how good or bad the service was. It's not a lot of money, and kind of a pain in the neck, so I don't do it too often -- and when I do, it's total "fun money" for me to spend as I wish, no matter how impetuously.

The email: Tonight, I got an email from a company that I do mystery shops for. The shops usually pay $25 each, which is a lot. Tonight, they had a last minute cancellation and needed 3 shops covered -- and they were willing to pay $65 for each shop. I jumped at the opportunity, put on my shoes, and went to say good bye to the family. I knew that I wouldn't be back for bedtime, so I gave Bean and Belle their hugs.

The conversation:
Bean: Why do you have to go out now?
Me: So I can go make some quick money to buy yarn.
Bean: Yarn??!! How about food, or something we need? Sheesh.

(note to Child Protective Services: if we had any more food in this house, we'd need to build an addition. Really, she's not starving, and even has more than one pair of shoes).

The best gift ever ...

It was a bountiful Christmas, filled with family and friends. And though I'm still cleaning up the remnants, I wanted to take a moment to post about my favorite gift. This was given to me by my 7 year old daughter (known here as the Bean). She has been taking knitting lessons for about 2 months. She's not a very motivated knitter .. I think she likes the idea of knitting more than the knitting itself. But somehow, some way, she managed to knit me a gift in secret, with just a little bit of help from DH. It's an iPod cozy (with room for accessories, though not by design). She knit the entire piece herself, and DH helped with the seaming and the design of the drawstring closure (clever!). The buttons were the Bean's idea ... DH sewed them on. There is one on the front and one on the back, and they are perfectly aligned.

The Bean proudly informed me that there were no mistakes. I'm not looking too closely -- to me, it's perfect.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

For my own sanity, I present ...

a list.

Planned knitting for the first quarter of 2007

But before I start those projects, I think I am going to attempt to make Fetching
My hands have been freezing while knitting lately. I'm not quite sure why, but I need Fetching.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Mmmmmalabrigio -- done!

Since I've started reading message boards and blogs devoted to knitting, I noticed that posts about Malabrigo yarn would always read 'Mmmmmmmalabrigo'. I never quite understood just what was so wonderful. But this scarf made me see the light.
It's done and blocked, in plenty of time to give to Mom for Christmas. She has blue eyes, and this should set them off nicely.

Finished size: 5" x 60" after blocking
Pattern: given to me by a LYS when I purchased yarn. Basically it's a 2 cable scarf, with seed stitch border.
Yarn: Malabrigo, 1 skein
Needles: size 7
Time: cast on Tuesday evening, finished Monday evening.
New techniques learned: this is the first pattern I've done where I didn't need to refer to the pattern -- I could "read" my knitting and knew what to do next. I also tracked rows (6 row repeat) by looping a piece of waste yarn on the end of the needle (one loop per row in the repeat).

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care ...

(click photo to see a larger version)

Done and blocked!! These are gifts for my brother (striped) and his fiancee (Fair Isle) as they celebrate their first Christmas as an engaged couple.

Pattern: from Nicky's Knitted Christmas Stockings, by Nicky Epstein
Yarn: Lopi
Needles: size 9
Time: approximately 10 days for each stocking, mostly evening knitting
New techniques learned: Stranding (2 and 3 color), duplicate stitch, short rows, Kitchener stitch
Adaptations: The original pattern called for Wool-Ease and size 7 needles, so these worked up a bit larger than the ones shown in the pattern. The ones in the pattern are approximately 22" long,and mine are 24" long. The Fair Isle Snowflake stocking had a fair isle chart for the snowflake but mentioned that it could be done in duplicate stitch, which is the route I took.


These were really fun to knit, and I'm a teensy bit sorry I have to give them away. They look quite nice hanging from my fireplace.

The pattern was very clear and easy to follow. The booklet starts out with one main stocking pattern, and the other stockings are all variations on the main pattern.

I love the way they look in the Lopi, but I didn't actually like knitting with the Lopi. Eventually I got used to it, but at first it felt like knitting with burlap, and it hurt my hands.

These are knit flat and then seamed. I still have yet to knit a traditional pair of socks, so I'm a bit sorry that I didn't do stockings made in the round, but I still learned short rows to turn the heel, and I kitchenered the toe (not too bad -- it might be more difficult on regular socks because of the thinner yarn, but I thought these came out fine).

The Fair Isle at the top of the stocking wasn't as difficult as I had feared, though it was slow because I'm a thrower and was trying to carry both colors in my right hand -- it usually ended up with me dropping the unused color and picking it up again when needed. I still managed to knit a bit too tightly, so the top pulls in a bit in the Fair Isle section, but it's not too bad and it blocked out almost totally. The neat thing about the pattern is that the top of the stocking is 10 rows of the green, and then a turning row -- the top is then turned in and tacked to cover the loose strands of the Fair Isle. It made it much easier because I wasn't quite so worried about the strands. Our current Christmas stockings (knit by someone else) are all Fair Isle, and the strands make it almost impossible to pull our goodies out smoothly.

The duplicate stitch took me just about forever. I had to rip it out a few times because I was off a stitch somewhere, making the pattern lopsided. At one point I wised up and just covered my mistake with another duplicate stitch in the original green -- it doesn't show at all. And the strands from the duplicate stitch are a bit messy on the inside.

I can't wait to make stockings for our family.

Monday, December 18, 2006

It's being blocked!!!!

One thing that is quickly becoming evident: I will need to improve my knit photography skills. I tried to take a pic of the Malabrigo cable scarf pinned out and blocked, but the photos were simply awful.

And anyway, what is newsworthy is that fact that it *is* being blocked.
I finished at about 5:00 this afternoon, just before I left for my knitting class. It was the perfect length pre-blocking, though a few extra inches won't hurt. I asked Mary whether or not I should even block it, since it was meant to be a narrow scarf, but she thought it would make the cables pop.

In class I started Bean's second mitten. It has been so long since I did the first that I have mostly forgotten what to do, so it will be slow going again. I don't love dpns.

It's killed me.
I know that a never-ending skein of Malabrigo is a good thing to most .. but not me, and not tonight.

Six more inches ... argh!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

I'm going to finish my mother's scarf tonight if it kills me.
Send caffeine.

Can't resist a sale ...

I had a little shopping spree today. I know, not the best thing to do a week before Christmas, but I just couldn't pass up the sale. Sakonnet Purls is having a pre-2008 sale, and everything in the store was at least 20% off.

The reason for the sale is interesting in itself ... Rhode Island recently passed legislation that would impose 6% sales tax on yarn and fabric. Until this point, both had been considered tax exempt. What this means for yarn sales in the state remains to be seen, but when neighboring states do not charge sales tax on these items, it might hurt business. Rhode Island is small enough that people can get to a neighboring state in less than 1/2 hour.

So here's what I bought:

7 skeins of Malabrigio to make the Hourglass Sweater from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. 2 skeins of Malabrigio for a scarf and hat for myself. 2 sets of Lantern Moon rosewood needles (sizes 7 and 8). The book Hats On by Charlene Schurch (best hat book for all ages that I've found so far). And the best ... the one thing that kept pulling me back to fondle:

100% silk laceweight from Claudia Handpaint, in the Walk in the Woods colorway. This will be a shawl for myself, to wear at my brother's wedding. At least, that's the plan. I need to find the right pattern to do this yarn justice. It's amazing. And it was 20% off. Would you have been able to resist??

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I think I'll make it ...

This is the 3rd or 4th project that I've started for my mom, but I think I finally have settled. This is a 2-cable scarf pattern that I got free when I bought Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran at Nancy O Boutique in Ridgefield, CT, a yarn store that I visited in my many travels.

The scarf on display in the shop was made of cashmere, and at the time I had only been knitting for a few weeks -- certainly not long enough to justify a cashmere purchase. So the lovely woman in the shop recommended the Cashmerino Aran, which felt like a dream.

Well, I swatched it up on Monday night, and I just didn't care for it at all. It might have been OK if I had gone down a couple of needle sizes, but I was knitting at Borders with my friend and didn't have other needles with me. And the yarn wasn't nearly as soft knitted up as in the ball.

So I did what any good knitter would do -- I went to the yarn store in search of more yarn. And I found the yarn that I had been reading about for months -- Malabrigo. It felt wonderful, and at $10.50 for over 200 yards, I thought it was a deal. I bought two hanks, and I adore it.

The pattern is great -- I put the printed pattern away after the first 6-row repeat. Because it's narrow, it seems to be working up pretty quickly. I hope to finish it by Sunday night.

As for stocking #1, the duplicate-stitch snowflake is complete, and the foot is seamed -- I just need to finish seaming and add the hanging loop.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Quick, photoless, update (now with photo!)

Stocking #2 is finished!! Completely, including seaming and the attached hanging loop.

Stocking #1: almost half of the snowflake is on .. hope to finish the rest, and seam, tonight.

Photos when both are done, and my living room is decorated, so I can shoot the stockings in their preferred setting -- hanging on the fireplace.

Saturday, December 2, 2006


Stocking #1 is nearly complete ... I just have to duplicate stitch the snowflake and then seam it up. I survived Kitchener stitch!

I'm going to hold off finishing it until I finish Stocking #2, just in case I run out of time before Christmas. I think Stocking #1 looks OK without the snowflake, and the duplicate stitch seems that it might be a bit time consuming. So I'll go back to it when I'm done with #2, which is just striped.