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Friday, April 28, 2006

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The fluffy-haired one in the back

It's been a busy week here. Now that softball season has begun, I have been spending many hours freezing my butt off watching my daughters' games. It's a perfect opportunity to get a lot of knitting done, but the games are in the evening and it's been very chilly lately. It's no fun knitting when your fingers are numb. Anyway, they are both doing great and Daughter#1 is even pitching this year, so it's fun to watch. I just hope it warms up soon.

I tried to finish those damned Jaywalkers, and was almost done with both when I tried them on and noticed that the arch area of the foot is baggy. Uggh! Now I'm trying to decide whether to rip both socks back to the gusset and accelerate the decrease rate, or to just say "screw it" and finish them off and be done with it. I am leaning toward the "screw it" option, but these are for Sister#1 and I'd hate to give her a 'faulty' pair of socks. So they are back in time-out again.

In happier news, I did manage to finish something recently. I knit two beaded bracelets. Behold:

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click for bigger pictureI made these from a kit that I got from Patternworks a couple of years ago. They don't appear to offer it anymore, but it looks similar to this one, just with different types of beads. I discovered this kit (which I had forgotten I had) when I was reorganizing my stash a while ago. Look at all this stuff I'm finding -- I should organize my stash more often, huh?

Anyway, the two bracelets are knit in such a way that the beads are offset on each side, so the bracelets twist by themselves. You can wear them separately as two bracelets, or you can wrap them around each other and wear them as one thick bracelet. I think I prefer them worn separately -- they have more character that way.

If you look closely you can see that the beads in each bracelet are different: one has matte cube beads on the outside of the twist and shiny seed beads on the inside, the other has shiny cube beads on the outside and matte seed beads on the inside.

click for bigger pictureMatte cube beads on outside, shiny seed beads on inside

click for bigger pictureShiny cube beads on outside, matte seed beads on inside

Twin Twisters Beaded Bracelet Kit
#0000 DPNs
4mm cube beads and size 8 seed beads, in both matte and shiny irridescent finishes
25 yds New Metallics (2-ply metallic polyester thread), made by On the Surface, used doubled
Although these needles are tiny and the thread is slippery I still enjoyed knitting these bracelets. They were very quick to make and not difficult. I would just recommend that you work in very good lighting too avoid going blind when trying to pick up a dropped stitch.
I might make some more of these, but I think I would use a different clasp -- this one is just a little too visible.

Oh, and, as you know from my last post, I went to see the Yarn Harlot speak at WEBS last Friday. She was GREAT -- very funny (of course) and very down-to-earth. It was definitely worth the two-hour trip to see her.

I checked her site and I'm in her pictures. Here they are. I'm the one with the fluffy hair and the bright green sweater in the far back. I was sitting next to Melissa, but you can't see her in this picture -- she's too petite. ;)


Friday, April 21, 2006

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Komi-Patterned Bag

A few weeks ago, I bought this book Knitting Marvelous Mittens by Charlene Schurch. I was inspired to buy it after seeing the some great Komi-patterned mittens, socks, and hats on various blogs a while ago.

I love most of the patterns in this book, but since it is no longer "mitten season" around here (and no one I know is much of a mitten wearer anyway), I've been looking for other places to use these great patterns. Daughter#2 had been telling me how she wanted a knitted bag and she loves the color blue, so when I came across two skeins of blue wool when I reorganized my stash (which, I have to say, was spread all over my bedroom floor for much longer than I'd like to admit) I decided to use one of the Komi patterns in this book to make a bag for her. And here it is:

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The design of the bag is based on the Gift Bag pattern in Handknit Holidays, but the color pattern is from Knitting Marvelous Mittens (it's part of mitten #8)
Two skeins of worsted-weight wool yarn from my stash.
I really like this yarn. It is 'au naturel' without being all greasy and gross like some other stuff I've used recently. Annoyingly, it was unlabeled so I can't get more of it. I think I may have bought it a few years ago at Plimoth Plantation. I couldn't find any mention of yarn in their online gift shop though. They do have a pattern for 17th Century Knitting Stockings and Socks though. I must admit -- I'm tempted.
US 8
19st and 21rows = 4" in stranded 2-color knitting
About 7.5" in diameter and 11.5" tall
I modified the size of the bag to fit three repeats of the Komi pattern. I also changed the method of decreasing on the bottom of the bag to give a more circular bottom. The Gift Bag pattern has you decrease in the same five spots, which results in a pentagonal bottom. I moved the decreases each round to get a smoother circle with less defined sides and no decrease lines. (Darn, I should have taken a pic of the bottom. Oh well, this post has too many pictures already).

Crocheted Edge - click for bigger pictureAlso, when it was done, I used my new crochet skills (oooh, how exciting) to chain an edge around the bottom of the bag. This hid the little purl bumps from the 'turning round' and gave it a more finished look, I think.
I used this method for dealing with the color-jog at the end of a round. I moved my end-of-round-point around a little to keep it in the middle of a light blue section, which worked out pretty well. I have to look pretty hard to find the end of round points in the finished bag.

I really like this Gift Bag pattern. The bags are fun to make and they are a great way to try out color-knitting patterns on a small scale project.
This is actually the third Gift Bag I've made. I made two others out of Cascade 220 and gave them as Christmas gifts (see them in my gallery). This bag came out somewhat sturdier than those, possibly due to the more rugged nature of this yarn.

click for bigger pictureHere is a picture of the bag on its makeshift blocking tube, so you can see the full patttern.

click for bigger pictureAnd here is the inside of the bag. I think I like the pattern better this way -- with the dark and light colors reversed.

I'm off to see the Harlot at WEBS tomorrow. That will probably be a zoo. Another two-hour road trip and I've got nothing good to work on. Uggh, I may have to pull something out of "Time Out" in desperation.


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

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Where Have I Been?

So, inquiring readers want to know -- how have I been spending my leisure time lately since I clearly have not been blogging? Well, on a whim I signed up to be a volunteer proofreader at Project Gutenberg and the time just flew by. It's actually kind of addicting. That's the project where they are converting old books with expired copyrights into eBooks you can download. So you can read Shakespeare (or some obscure history books) online for free. Worthwhile use of my time? Hmmm.... Well, I think so. Information for the Masses, that's my motto.

I know you're all waiting for the pictures of my finished Lady E. Well, sorry. Still haven't blocked it. I know -- I'm a Slowski.

Instead I finished some Red Sox socks for Uncool Guy. These are the second pair of Red Sox themed socks I've made for him (you can see the first pair in my gallery). Those were on US 0's and took forever. These were on US 4's with worsted weight yarn and were quick, quick, quick. Here are the specs:

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My own
Accessories Unlimited Yarn for Sox [80% wool, 20% nylon],
color: Red Mix (just slightly over 1 skein), and Ecru (about 1/4 of a skein?)
US 4 circs
5.25 sts and 7.75 rows = 1"
Sized to fit a man's size 8.5 feet
This yarn is a little rough, but I think it will soften up with washing. I bought this yarn a year or two ago because it was the only worsted weight yarn made specifically for socks that I had seen. It certainly makes thick socks (which I've made just in time for spring -- sigh).
I really like this heathery red color. It's much darker in person than it appears in the online picture at WEBS.

I've also been playing around with crochet some more. I tried making one of the dishcloths at Crochet Pattern Central (thanks for the link, Auntie Amanda). I think it was this one. However, I kept coming out with the wrong nbr of stitches. I decided to take a step back and just try some of the stitch patterns out of the Happy Hooker book where they are described in detail for beginners. I made another dishcloth out of the V-stitch pattern using some more kitchen cotton (no picture). That came out well, so I decided to do another with a finer cotton as a facecloth. Here's a closeup:

V-Stitch Pattern in Crochet

This was made with Mandarin Petit cotton yarn using a F/5 (3.75mm) crochet hook. I really like this yarn for knitted facecloths, but it doesn't seem work as well for crochet. It splits like crazy with crochet (not with knitting) so I had to use a pattern in which you mostly crochet into a space (not a stitch).

I think I now prefer crocheted dishcloths to knitted ones; the crocheted texture provides better "scrubbing action". However, when it comes to facecloths, I prefer a softer knitted texture. Here are some of my favorites that I made using the same cotton yarn. And, because I'm a geek who loves to chart things, I have worked out charts for both of these stitch pattern and have shared them with you below. Enjoy.

Bee Stitch

Double Brioche Stitch
(aka Double English Brioche or Three Dimensional Honeycomb)

Notes for Double Brioche Stitch:
Start with pattern with an EVEN nbr of stitches, plus 2 edge stitches. Each set of 2 sts (other than the edge sts) will be increased to 3 during the two setup rows.

This stitch pattern does not need to be done with edge stitches, but I think they make the pattern easier to knit, because you don't have to worry about yarn-overs at the beginning/end of a row. Also, I think the edges actually look better with the edge stitches.

When you go to bind off this stitch pattern, just knit together each yarnover with the next stitch (so you end up with as many stitches as you started with).


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

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Are you jealous yet?

Just feast your eyes on the loveliness that arrived in the mail for me today.

click for bigger pictureOooooh, pretty.

It's my gift from Anne of knitspot for winning her Mystery Cable Contest. What can I say - I LOVE it! She sent me two hanks of wool that she dyed and spun, along with a pattern that she wrote for a Ragamuffin Scarf and Mitts. I know you want a closer view of this beautiful yarn, so I will of course oblige.

click for bigger pictureThis lovely blue mix should be enough to complete the scarf and fingerless mitts in the pattern she sent. I just love all the shades of blue in this. It makes me think of faded jeans, my attire of choice.

click for bigger pictureThis gorgeous gold/blue/green mix is thinner than the blue. Anne suggests that it would be good for a pair of socks. I will have to select just the right sock pattern for this. Any thoughts? (And if anyone says the word "Jaywalker" they're in trouble).

Anne did a great job picking colors for me. I just love them. [And I love the slight patchouli smell from her wool wash ;)] In fact, this yarn is so gorgeous and soft that I almost don't even want to knit with it. Almost.

OK, OK, enough with the gushing. I will assume you are satisfactorily jealous at this point, so I will move on.

I just finished knitting my Lady Eleanor stole last night. Wuh, was that a lot of knitting. I still need to weave in the ends and steam block it and then attach the long knotted fringe. I was considering skipping the fringe, or maybe going with a tasseled fringe, but after looking around at other Lady E's online, I've decided to go with the long knotted. Pics soon hopefully.

click for bigger pictureHere's another thing I've been working on. It's a Komi-patterned bag based on the gift bag pattern in Handknit Holidays. More details next time. I've got to go block Lady E.

Oh, and thanks for the suggestions about the Karaoke yarn as a Noro substitute. I'll have to try that. I see they carry it at WEBS. How convenient...


Friday, April 07, 2006

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I'm a Winner and a Ranter

click for bigger pictureSo, as some of you know, this has been a good week for me in blogland. I was randomly chosen as the March winner of the Sock-a-Month Knitalong. I won some sock yarn, which I haven't received yet, but here's a picture of it that I stole from Knittin' Mom's site.

Yeah, you've seen my stash and you're thinking, "What does she need with more yarn?" Well, shush. A girl can't have too much yarn. Even Brooklynne of The Mosh Knit now agrees -- go listen to her essay on stash in her latest podcast.

And, as if one prize wasn't enough, I also won the Mystery Cable contest that Anne was holding at knitspot. I finally identified the cable after much scouring of stitch pattern books (and desperate consultations with others who have bigger book collections than I). Anne said she's sending me some handspun and one of her patterns as my prize. I've never knit with handspun before so I'm excited. Plus, I can't wait to see one of her patterns.

Warning: Rant Ahead

OK, that was the happy news. Now it's time for a nice long rant. [I hope Robot Lady can pull off an authentic ticked-off tone of voice. Wouldn't that be cool if you could use tags to tell Talkr what tone of voice you want things read in? Ahh, but I digress. Back to the rant... ]

So, I've still been cranking away on the Lady Eleanor Stole -- on and off, but it's still actively in progress. Anyway, I continue to be annoyed by the knots I keep encountering in this Noro Silk Garden yarn. Not only are the knots annoying, but they always introduce a completely different color that is totally out of sequence. Every time I hit one of these knots (which has been in about half of the balls I've used so far) I have to rip back to the beginning of the little entrelac square so I can change the color discretely (see the picture of the stole in this post, if you don't know what I'm talking about). Then I have to figure out where I am in the color sequence and try to find another ball that starts somewhere close to the right place, so I don't end up with a huge glob of lavender in one spot and thus destroy the whole balance of the thing. Sigh.

I didn't rip back the first time I encountered a knot (which happened in the second row of squares) and now I regret it. It's in the lower corner of the stole, in a spot I hope is not too noticeable, but it looks crappy too me so I learned my lesson. I would have ripped back, but I didn't see how noticeable it was until I got into better light, at which point I was too many rows of squares away.

Anyway, after the millionth time that I encountered a knot I decided I would rewind my remaining balls to find all those hidden little annoyances ahead of time. That way I could make a separate ball whenever I encountered a knot and I would be better able to match up the color sequence. And, boy, am I glad I did because here is a picture of the very next ball:

click for bigger pictureStupid, Annoying Noro Silk Garden with a Millon Knots

There were FOUR STINKING KNOTS in this one ball! What did I get -- the crappy leftovers ball? And even more annoying, it's missing half the colors. Compare the picture above with all the colors shown in this nice ball:

click for bigger pictureNice Ball of Noro

OK, so I complain a bit to myself and to Uncool Guy (even he could understand my annoyance -- and that's not a frequent occurance, people) and I move on to rewind the next ball and what do I find but this:

click for bigger pictureLook in the circle. Do not be distracted by the pretty colors.

"What is that in the little circle?" you ask. Why it's another freaking KNOT! And it's right there sticking out of the end of the skein. What are they doing -- ADVERTISING that their yarn has more knots than you thought were possible in one skein of yarn? Is the company that anal about yardage that they couldn't just cut off that extra two inches to avoid a knot hanging there right at the end? I guess it just shows that they don't care where their knots fall or how many of them there are. Yeah, I know they need to make a profit but really, a little quality control would be nice.

So, for future reference, can anyone recommend another brand of yarn that has colors like Noro without the irritations of Noro? Anyone?


Sunday, April 02, 2006

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Late Flashing

Yeah, I know -- YESTERDAY was Flash Your Stash Day. But I am slow, and perpetually late. It took much longer than I anticipated to unload all my yarn bins and stack all this yarn so it would fit in the picture. I initially tried to do a 360 degree photo, but that was kind of a disaster. Hence the lateness.

Anyhow, I have yarn here that is designated for 16 sweaters, 9 tank tops, 1 shawl, and at least 20 pairs of socks. The rest is random balls to be used for hats, scarves, mittens, stuffed animals, and other miscellaneous projects. Some of this (mostly the left corner) is destashification from someone else, so I really can't be blamed for all of this.

Here is the stash. Click on the picture for a bigger view.

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I know what you're thinking, "That's not very big." Yeah, that's what I thought. So I just got this load of Cascade on sale from WEBS (thanks Yarn Enabler.)

Oh, and I AM still planning on posting the short-row information. It's just turning into a bigger project than I expected. I'm going to have to break it into smaller pieces. I'm thinking of covering all the various types of short rows, each in the context of short-rowing down and then having one 'long row' to join everything back up (like in a shoulder) and in the context of a miter where you short-row down and then long-row out (like a sock heel).

Now I'm off to reorganize my yarn.

Updated to add: Talking Edna says, "Dahling, your stash is fabulous." Ten points if you can find her in the picture. ;)