Sunday, November 27, 2011

Christmas is Coming

Going to make an effort to finish the KAL this year. My plan is to use life lines and to skip patterns that stump me. I gave up some where in the first week last year because the bobbles threw off my stitch count more times than I care to remember--this year, if I have to rip back more than 3 times, I'm waiting for the next day. The scarf will be plenty long unless I run into trouble more than once a week.

On the more positive side, I have some Karabella Lace Merino in a beige color. I'm going to use beads; I have some metallic beads from Twisted Sistah that are shades of browns and tans that should show up very nicely. I have some reds that I could use too and would be more festive for the holiday theme, but no yarn for that. I do have some natural lace weight that I could use with crystal beads. I guess I should swatch?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Taking A Compliment

One of the many things I love about events likes Stitches is seeing what other knitters do with their yarn.

There were an abundance of knitters and crocheters wearing their handmade garments throughout the weekend. I am amazed at how well done some of the designs are and its wonderful to see many of the patterns that I've coveted come alive. I saw the Kaffe Fassett Floral Jacket and the February Lady Sweater executed impeccably (the fit of the FLS across the shoulders was perfect!). I also saw someone wearing the Belvedere sweater I'm working on and it renewed my excitement about the sweater. It also made me glad I was taking classes so I too could produce a fantastic piece of work.

This is important to me because, before I packed, I chose what I would wear each of the four days carefully so I could show off my work among people who will appreciate it.

However, when I was dressing each day, I hesitated. One sweater looked too short, one of the top-down raglans has horrific batwings and my beautiful cotton Katydid sweater is suddenly short and shapeless and missing a button already. So I wore my Noro top-down raglan every day.

I love this sweater. It fits, or rather, it fits me the best of all my handknits. There is a batwing effect too, just not as pronounced as the other raglan. And I do not benefit from horizontal stripes.

But it's knit well, there are no hidden mistakes and it was warm, a significant attribute in the over-air-conditioned classrooms in October. If anyone noticed flaws, they didn't mention it. In fact, I got quite a few compliments.

Which is a fascinating dynamic. I was taken aback by the number of women who responded to compliments about their work by pointing out the flaws (obvious only to the knitter) or by belittling their work.

Ladies, it’s not necessary to draw attention to mistakes. And it is excruciating to hear you belittling a garment I know you labored over lovingly. I know we’ve been raised to be modest but when you’re among your knitting peers, I think it’s appropriate to be proud and to accept praise for your accomplishment. No one is going to think you’re boasting. After all, we’re Knitters.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Back from Stitches East

What a wonderful time! I got up super early on Thursday, packed and hit the road. The weather was gorgeous in Hartford, although I was indoors most of the time. After checking in at the Marriott (highly recommended), I had a great lunch at Vivo and went to class.

Susanna Hansson taught me how to knit stripes in the round without getting an unsightly jog. It's very humbling not being able to master a new technique right away. This skill will be useful for making the Holly Jolly Bag from Creative Knitting. Too tired to visit the Market on Thursday evening (can you imagine?).

Friday began with a great class on necklines with Chris Bylsma. I love Chris' designs and her teaching style. Spent the afternoon with Drew Embrosky, The Crochet Dude, for Beyond Beginner Crochet. This is exceptionally useful and he's a great teacher. Will look for him in the future.

Saturday was devoted to The Sweater Map with Shannon Okey. I've taken classes with her before and learned a lot and this time was no different--she is a fount of information as well as entertaining. My measuring partner Denise was great during that portion of the agenda. Net net, I've got a basic sweater designed but may not use the cashmere I brought with me--too many variables.

I'll be honest, by Sunday, I was tired and blew off the classes I had scheduled (I am trying not to think about how much yarn I could have bought with the price of the classes). I gave my Grand Prize tickets to some lucky strangers in the Market and shopped a little before traveling home.

I was shocked at how much smaller the market was this year and wandered around looking for the new BIG things. Not much was new and there were some conspicuous absences. My favorite is Glitterati from Pagewood Farms (see photo). The yarn is gray and there are pink, black and silver sparkly things and sequins all over it!

I picked up Jean Frost's book Custom Fit Knit Jackets: Casual to Couture. While it features Jean's designs, there's a detailed tutorial up front to help me find my perfect size and shaping. I swatched the Gabrielle sweater last night--I'm not there yet, but working towards it.

Meanwhile, I cast on the Floating Checks cardigan, also from Jean but not in her book. I'm using black and white Zara. This involves a lot of slip stitches, which I'm enjoying.

I bought a lot of beads from Twisted Sistah Beads & Fibers; I really like Leslie and she was able to answer all my questions. I also picked up some buttons that look like peppermints for holiday knitting and little mink balls for decoration. I'm thinking in lieu of pom-poms. I got some Cascade 220 for the Holly Jolly bag from The Yarn Barn of Kansas and then I went to The Yarn Lady. I just love their booth.

Laura Bryant's Prism yarns just slay me, however, I didn't do too much damage--I bought the Glitteri there (didn't know I could get it from the Pagewood Farm booth!), ordered two skeins of Plume so I can make the hat featured in the December issue of Knit and Style (is it out yet?)and I ordered the kit for the Shona vest. This is a pattern Jane Slicer-Smith did for Trendsetter and uses Merino VIII. I ordered the same green as the sample--hope I like it!

I did make significant progress on the Venezia sweater. Better keep those needles clicking.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Christmas is Coming

QVC devoted the entire day to Christmas yesterday. It's in three months. Realistically I should have started my holiday knitting MONTHS ago, but I think I can still make a signficiant impact.

I'll be honest. I spent a lot of time on Saturday watching QVC as well. One of the items offered were Samsonite umbrellas with LED lights. What attracted me were the different prints. I ordered 3 with prints and 3 in black because my brainstorm/revelation/epiphany was that I could give people these umbrellas with hats. Hats are easy, right?

There were also shawls offered and ordered some of those as well. The plan would be to give hats and umbrellas, hats and shawls and for the really special and lucky folks I could give hat, umbrella, shawl and throw in a pair of gloves. I would like that, wouldn't you?

I have to dig up the pattern for the double-faced ski hat knit in mohair. Dropped by Creative Knitworks yesterday and picked up some mohair for two hats.

The incomparable and amazing Keith fixed a pull in the Marias sweater (I haven't even worn it yet!) and helped me get started on a knitted Angry Bird.

These hats will go with one of the umbrellas and one of the shawls. I'm committed

Or I should be.

PS: Stupid green pigs.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Great Bulky Yarn Clean Out

I'm convinced. After years of accumulating bulky weight yarn with the intention of actually completing quick-to-knit projects, I realize that these are not necessarily flattering to my particular figure. I read about this in one of the Big Girl Knits books and didn't want to believe this is true so I resisted parting with the luscious fibers that promised warmth, extraordinary stitch definition and a good chance of finishing a sweater.

I've got Blue Sky Alpaca Bulky, Plymouth Baby Alpaca Grande (in two colors!), some Tahki Montana and a lot of Rowan Cocoon that I am still debating whether it can be knit without a lot of bulk. I have had my eye on the Classic Elite pattern Duchess for quite some time.

I've been reading some style guides as I evaluate my wardrobe for the fall and the indications are clear: no bulky knits. Lighter weight fibers and vertical lines are the things for me.

The back and fronts of the sweater in Venezia are almost done. It's a wide rib pattern. I've also started Eadon in RYC Silk Wool DK and although I ripped back the first attempt, I'm motoring through the Sally Melville gray cardigan using Suri Merino. All vertical stripes.

Back to the clean out. I'm trying to find patterns for the bulky fibers because I want to give my nieces and nephews ski sweaters for Christmas. Will be swatching away so I can work on measuring gauge. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

That Damned Tulip
I thought it was going to be the death of me. I've learned to add lifelines more frequently. I've only used one skein of Setanova so far and I'm through row 46 on the Half Pi. All set up for the Heart motif. Baby steps, JB, baby steps.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Works in Progress

The top picture is a front for the cardigan I'm knitting in Venezia. I wish I had a better camera to show the beauty of the stitch definition. As it is, I'm wondering if I'll wear it right side or wrong side out. This is great knitting for the bus--portable and easy pattern to follow (K3, P1).

The next picture is the Half Pi destined for my sister. She's going to celebrate a milestone birthday in a few days and she gave me a fantastic party last year for mine. I hope this gift makes her as happy as the party did me.

This Pi started when the talented Shaina Bilow wrote the pattern for a full Pi for me based on design elements I chose. Each is symbolic of some part of my sister's life.

I started out strong, but then it was slow going. I happened to have started a half Pi separately and started thinking I could adapt the full Pi to a half and that the half moon design was probably more practical.


This is Setanova on size 4 needles. The first two sections are regular stockinette then the following sections are the Trinity stitch, because she is one of three and the Little Shell Stitch because one of her loves in life will always be the beach. I'm working on a section of tulips--when we were young, she added a tulip to every picture she drew and it became her signature.

After that, there will be a row of hearts which represents her love and life with her husband and then a row of Shamrocks which are symbolic of her children.

I'm not sure how long this will be and whether there will be room for additional sections. My options are paw prints for their dog, Noelle, or diamonds, because that's what she said she wanted for her birthday. Big Fat Diamonds.

I had ordered Swavorski crystals to add in certain sections, mostly to separate the patterns in longer areas. They turned out to be the perfect color but the hole isn't large enough to string on the Setanova. Now I'm thinking gray pearls. The search continues!

Ode to Silk Blend Knitting

I was able to purge a great deal of yarn from my stash and donate it to a local charity in Bergen County. I was pleased to be able to put it to good use because I wasn't going to get to it any time soon and there were some projects I had lost interest in after a few inches of knitting. I hope there's a lot of warm and cozy people in Northern NJ as a result.

During this process, I decided that I don't like working with cotton. A significant portion of what was donated was 100% cotton. However, I've been working on two projects lately (among the many, I haven't gotten THAT disciplined) that contain silk. I've worked with 100% silk before and although I loved the feel of it, wasn't crazy about the fit/drape. Silk blends appear to be the way to go for me.

One is Setanova from Lana Grossa--it is 60% silk and 40% cotton. I love everything about it. The way it feels in my hands, the drape, the stitch definition. I'm using this for a half Pi shawl for my sister's birthday.

The other yarn I recently discovered I love is Cascade Yarns' Venezia. I started a sweater for myself in it and then had read in Big Girl Knits that plus size women shouldn't use bulky yarn, so I set it aside for a while. I love the color and rediscovered my stash during the purge and felt like I needed to do something with it, especially since I found some great buttons at Creative Knitworks in Westwood, NJ.

I found Sally Melville's With-A-Twist Turtleneck in Book 2: The Purl Stitch and with heavy modifications, began a cardigan in Venezia. This has the same wonderful properties as the Setanova: great hand feel, great stitch definition and the bonus is that because it is a bulky yarn, it's moving along quickly!

A word about Sally--I love her patterns and the fact that she includes notes like "Shorten or lengthen here" to encourage customizing the patterns. How great is that?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Out of Focus

I can't seem to be able to focus on one project long enough to finish anything. I was stymied by running out of Zara Chine so I couldn't finish the Marias sweater. My first online order fell through (they had Zarina, not Zara). I have ordered a skein directly from Tahki so here's hoping. It's knit with some Koigu so dyelot shouldn't be a big deal (here's hoping!).

I've left the Katydid sweater at the LYS for finishing. I took that thing to the frog pond so many times, I'm sick of the sight of it. But we found pretty buttons, so maybe I'll be forgiving. For God's sake, I hope it fits.

Also on the needles: newborn baby sweater in Rowan Cotton Rope; the Garden of Alla shawl in Kudo and LaLa's Simple Shawl in Sublime Aran--all from stash!

I'm also working on a KuKu doll and a Irish Step Dancing dress for an American Girl doll.

Finally, I did finish the Baby West sweater. It's now in the cabinet in my office waiting to be mailed to hand delivered. Baby steps...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

God Helps Those Who Help Themselves

Months ago, I came across the Debbie Abraham's mystery knitting blankets, although I didn't know it was a KAL at the time. I missed the Under the Sea theme by a year but Debbie was lovely and tried to find a kit for me. Unfortunately, it didn't work out.

I had no idea Debbie is a big deal designer and has published books! So I order the afghan books and started a hybrid of a few of them to create my own version of a seaside-themed blanket. Here are the first four squares. So pretty!

Finishing Rampage

Finally found the camera so I can share the projects I've been working on. The stash has been creeping out of the closet and I've been making a concerted effort to FINISH some of the things I've been working on.

First up is the Harlequin Sweater from Jane Slicer-Smith. It's so much fun! I was a little intimidated by the directions at first, but I've got the general idea down now. I'm making it in Trendsetter Merino VI in Charcoal and Slate. So pretty.

Next is a Chris Bylsma pattern for a cardigan I'm making in a chunky Noro with a subtle self pattern and assorted novelty yarns. It's going very quickly.

I've been mooning over a lace shrug I saw in the Fall or Winter Vogue and finally picked up some Sublime in a worsted weight. I love it so far.

I'm also making the Hooded Jacket by Rebecca Taylor, also from Vogue. I'm using something called Cotton Rich doubled--dreamy.

Last but not least, I've been working on the Belvedere cardigan. I've discovered I need to use lifelines, but otherwise I'm enjoying it very much. I'm using Covington for this and I love the way it is knitting up.

There are of course other projects in progress, but these are the main focus. I'm also trying to finish the Marias sweater but I'm waiting for more Zara Chine, the Katydid sweater which I've ripped back more times than I care to tell you about and The Baby West sweater that I'll post a photo of after it's blocked. Okay, back to knitting.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Where Is My Camera?

It's not that I haven't been working on projects. I certainly have been busy, but I can't find my digital camera and can't upload pictures.

I'm focused on finishing these days. Not the "sew it together" kind; mostly getting the bits and pieces done so the projects can be completed and hopefully worn.

I am very close to finishing the Marias sweater. The pattern is for Manos, but I'm using Koigu and Zara Chine. It was a big production finding enough Koigu when I was buying the yarn, but it turns out I have a lot of Koigu leftover and will be short on Zara. And although I can't find a ball band, I think I am using a discontinued color. It looks like I'm going to be switching to the trim color using Pure Merino about 10 rows sooner than expected. I'm telling myself it's making the pattern my own. Right?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Interesting Squares and An Afghan

Spring Projects

The first day of Spring arrived the other day. It's still fairly cold here in the northeast but we have had a lot of sunshine and I yearn for lighter clothes and pretty projects. I notice that a lot of the fashion magazines are featuring "crocheted" garments and have found several knitting patterns that will fill the bill.

So although I am not done with the many winter projects I have in progress, I've started the Belvedere Cardigan by Debbie O'Neill published in the winter/spring 11 issue of Knitscene. I'm using Covington, a mercerized cotton from Plymouth. This is going to be the most economical sweater I've made in a long time because I got a whole bag for $40 at the Going Out of Business sale at The Skein Attraction (oh, it still pains me!). I swatched it (there's proof in the photos) and have begun the back. Ribbing looks a little tight to me, and the pattern looks larger than the swatch, but I have faith. (Of course, I will have it checked the next time I'm in a yarn store.)

I went to the dentist in Scotch Plains yesterday and stopped at Knit A Bit in Westfield. They are so nice and they remember me. This is a big deal because so many of the shops in the NY/NJ area are staffed with very grumpy people. Note to other shops: I may not be your best customer but if I'm spending money, you can at the very least respond politely to my questions.

Anyway, the Knit A Bit team helped me find yarn for the hoodie on the cover of the latest Vogue Knitting. More to follow on that!

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Cupcake, Cupcake, Who Got the Cupcake?

I bought two balls of pure merino and two balls of plush to make my cupcake (my color combo is brown merino with pink plush to represent the frosting). Seemed like I was motoring along fine, and gave one of each to my mother with the pattern so she can make a second hat (hoping of course that she will make 2 red pompoms since I don't know how....). But I'm running out of plush for my hat. Will I never learn?

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Be My Valentine

This may end up in the overly ambitious category but I'm trying to make hats for my two nieces and two nephews in time for Valentine's Day.

They are all skiers. The first hat is reversible, made with two different colors of mohair. It's double thick so this should keep my niece warm.

I've got a cupcake hat in progress for the other niece, a balacava for one nephew (although my mother says they're not legal because they're used in hold ups) and I think I'll make another reversible hat for the other nephew.
Meanwhile, I'm trying to finish the "Stella" shrug on the same schedule for my aunt's birthday which is on the 13th. It's done but I'd like to crochet around the arm openings and I'm trying to add beads to the cuffs.

As I said, overly ambitious.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

New Year, New Day, New Project

I've kept all my resolutions so far, except the one about not buying new yarn. I saw some Mission Falls 1824 wool at my local yarn shop and got started on a Log Cabin blanket for a baby. It's so pretty, if I do say so myself.

Then I read the terrible news that Mission Falls is going out of business.

I found someone on Ravelry with some 1824 available and bought it. She graciously packed it up and shipped it to me and it arrived from across the country in two days. My check to her however still has not arrived. Very very embarrassing.

I sent a new check yesterday and am having the PO track this one.

But the worst news is that I just found out my local yarn shop, The Skein Attraction, is closing. I'm bereft. It took me a long time to find a nice shop with quality yarn and friendly and knowledgeable staff. I've grown to depend on their counsel and support through my projects and I have also truly enjoyed the friends I made there.

Is this bad kharma for breaking the resolution, or just bad luck? When will the madness stop?

Friday, January 14, 2011

New Year. New Day. New Project(s).

2010 wound down quickly and 2011 is off to a great start.

The big snowstorm after Christmas here in the northeast gave me an excuse to rest, relax and to organize my stash. Unfortunately the hard drive of my laptop crashed and I lost a lot of photos and data. Well, I traded the PC in for a MAC, took new photos and almost have all my WIPs and stash yarn photographed and catalogued on Ravelry. My knitting books are next.