Monday, 28 December 2009

The Week in Knitting

I finished the knitting on the Avast last week. It just needs to be blocked and I need to put a zipper in. A slight problem: it seems as though the cabled band along the bottom is much, much tighter then the rest of the sweater. It might come down to cutting it off and replacing it with a few rows of ribbing. It seems a pity to take out the best detail of the sweater, but if that's the only way to make it fit, so be it. I will evaluate post-blocking.

I finished the body on the February Lady Sweater.

That picture is a few days old. It works up so fast that I almost forget that I'm bored with it!

I also CO for the Wilson hat:

It's a simple cable hat from Norah Gaughan. I'm using leftover yarn from the Avast sweater for it, and I'm knitting it in the round instead of flat as it is written.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

All I want for Xmas...

Is a French Oven to replace the one the movers broke and a pair of smartwool socks.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Mistakes were Made...

...although it wasn't by me this time. I am the salvation in this situation.

Multi-colored handpainted yarn has its place, but in this case, it did not belong in a complicated alpaca sweater. It looked like clown barf from a very sick, sad clown with emphysema.

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The alpaca yarn was way too busy and too many clashing colors in there: red, black, brown, blue, green, yellow, purple, orange, pink and then a whole lot of mud.

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It's actually quite a lovely sweater- very Voguey and stylish, but the complicated cables going up the sleeves were lost and it looked like it was knitted with more than one dyelot as there were sections that were darker then others. I was commissioned to overdye this.

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I got to work mixing dyes. I knew I'd have to go much darker to hide some of the dark browns and reds, so I chose to do a dark blue with some red undertones.

Since it was alpaca, I was super careful about stirring and agitating it. Once it sucked up all the dye, I left it in the dye pot overnight to cool before attempting to rinse it.

Voila! A new sweater emerged in a classy-ass navy blue, with darker shades taking place of the barfy brown and black.

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Cables usually get lost when you use darker colors, but compared to the busybody yarn this started out as, you can now actually see the cables clearly.

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Ahhhh, much better now.

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Tuesday, 22 December 2009

FO- Snapdragon Tam

I started this on the plane back from Zurich. It took about a week to knit- it wasn't easy to memorize this pattern and the cables were pretty complex. It's PAY ATTENTION knitting.

Once I was done, two thing occurred to me.

1. Gauge swatches should have been made in the cable pattern, lest you want to end up with a feedbag for your head.
2. Very few people can pull of The Wearing of the Tam.

It ended up being huge. I threw it in the wash machine twice (I only have access to a front-loader, so it took the guesswork right out of the felting process) and then threw it in the drier for 10 minutes before taking it out and blocking it over a dinner plate and letting it dry on the radiator. The stitches tightened right up and the cables popped. Once it was dry, it was deemed wearable. Just not by me.

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I used a bit over 2 skeins of Rowan Yorkshire Tweed, which is a discontinued dk weight yarn. It's a 2-ply yarn that is a bit undertwisted, so it wouldn't stand up to a lot of wear and tear.

FO- Damson

When I travel, I usually bring along a pair of socks to knit. They are compact and only take up a skein or two of yarn, which makes them a pretty perfect travel item. I bucked the trend this time and made the Damson shawl instead. It was made of sock yarn (bonus!) and it was pretty simple lace.

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It blocked out a lot bigger than I thought it would- I thought it would be more scarf than shawl.

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I knit it on #6 needles, so it's not terrible warm, but I've been wearing it almost constantly since I've finished it.

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(yes, we got snow. lots and lots of snow.)


I want to re-block the scalloped edges (I ran out of pins, but I could have just used a length of yarn as a blocking wire to pull them out). I am in love with the yarn- it's Malabrigo sock in Botticelli Red. It's perfect- one of the sexiest vampy reds I've ever seen. I didn't even consider taking the time for a gauge swatch and ran out of yarn on the second-to-last row because of it. A second skein was rushed to my door and it was quickly made use of, which means that now I have an additional 400 yards of Botticelli Red to deal with. Whatever will I do?

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A matching set perhaps?

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Ugly Knits. They Happen to the Best of Us.

A Biggy McLargeHuge snowstorm is being forecasted for the weekend. This can only mean one's time for me to sit inside by my faux fireplace and frog what might be the ugliest knit ever:

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It's the Incredible Skirt by Wenlan, who, quite obviously is NOT a real knitter. Neither is the pattern editors apparently as it used up about twice as much yarn as the pattern called for, which is why my stripes are just about everywhere and the stripes did not transition with grace and dignity. The pattern was just all wrong.

I have a hard time walking around with my arms attached going the wrong way, which is why this skirt is much more Unflattering Earth Mother then Elegant Heroin Chic on me. Also, I weigh a bit over 83 pounds and my neck isn't freakishly giraffe-like.

Another issue is the bulky yarn. This will never flatter or hang right, but continue obeying gravity and end up pooling around my ankles like so many tears that I have cried in frustration over this. It's made of Lopi, which is a terribly scratchy yarn, but because I kept running out before the stranded transitions were through, I used some scraps and odd skeins of Brown Sheep as well. I knew as I was knitting along that this was a whole barrel full of wrong. I continued to knit feverishly, round and round and round until VOILA! An ill-fitting, nonsensically striped, scratchy long-ass skirt Incredibly materialized. I would have to wear jeans under this if I wanted to go the day without having a constant case of Itchybutt.

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The fact that this has been done with for more than a year and the ends have still not been woven end is one clue that I would never ever wear this. I had great luck with the Hip in Hemp skirt, and I thought I could repeat my success in a very heavy bulky yarn.

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Anyway. I have learned my lesson. Frogging this will be cathartic. I will enjoy every ripped stitch of it.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Recent Stash Acquisitions

Of course, I couldn't travel without picking up a souvenir of sorts.

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Most of the yarn bought in Europe comes from huge department stores. Very old-school. They actually had some pretty nice stuff- lots of German yarns like Regia, GGH, and Austerman. I needed to find something that I wouldn't be able to get at home, so I found the one yarn store listed in Zurich- Hand Art. They don't even have a website. They did have a cute little shop with all the yarns organized according to color. I spied a high-up shelf that had the only unorganizable yarns- handpainted!- and chose this rather stunning hank of Opal sock yarn in the "Rosenbeet" colorway.

When I got home, my final Rockin Sock Club pattern and yarn were waiting for me:

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It's in the colorway "Blackbird"- mostly black with pinks, blues and greens overdyed, with a raven-like sheen. The pattern by Cookie A complements the colorway nicely- sometimes variegated yarn can look too busy with a pattern, but this seems like it will work. And quite timely, as I am reading the book "Crow Planet" right now.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

This Week in Knitting and Spinning....


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It's 100 yards of laceweight 2-ply Mongolian Cashmere. I spun the singles on my wheel and then Andean plied it on a spindle for better control. I have a wee bit of roving left over, so I'll end up with more yardage. It's super soft and by far the hardest I had to work on a fiber.

I finished a couple of small projects that I still need to take photographs of: One being the Snapdragon Tam.

Snapdragon Tam

I love the way this knitted up. I hate the way it looks on. I mean, who looks good in a tam? Really now. At least a beret is cute and floppy and fun. I was going to make the matching mitts, but now that I don't like the way the hat looks on, I'm thinking about backing away for this matching set.

I got my skein of Malabrigo in the mail and finished the Damson. It's a simple, gorgeous shawl. Pictures soon, I promise!

I'm chugging along on the Avast sweater. The sleeves are attached and I'm almost done with the yoke. The problem is, it's way too big to take with me on my commute now, which is where the majority of my knitting gets done. To give myself something to do, I cast on yesterday for my Sweater #2- the February Lady. I'm using some Alpaca I got years and years ago when the Suss store in Manhattan closed down. It was an epic sale. It was plain white, but at $1 per skein, I grabbed as much as I could carry home. I dyed it using Madder Root, which gave me a nice peachy pink.


It's so girly, I can't help but making a high-pitched squeak every time I see it.

I'm not a huge 100% alpaca fan. It tends to be too drapey for sweaters and I get worried about the garment growing and stretching into some sort of monstrous frankensweater. Still- I think I can make it work with this particular pattern. I'm knitting it at a slightly tighter gauge then recommended to make up for any stretching that may occur. It's a small enough sweater that it won't be too heavy. Alpaca can be too warm, so the shorter sleeves and open lace work will help with that issue.

Wish me luck.

Monday, 14 December 2009


I spent a weekend in Lucerne. It's about an hour train ride from Zurich and absolutely gorgeous.


How cool is that, to have a big-ass mountain in your backyard? It makes me think I've spent too much time at sea level.

Lucerne has a quaint medieval old town that had a lot of ritzy upscale shops. This is where the wealthy come to ski and spend money. Still, it had its charms, including the 13th century Chapel Bridge.


There was an enormous city wall surrounding the old town. Unforgivably, it was closed for the season, but the view from the wall is supposed to be amazing.


No matter though. I found Alpacas and Highland cows grazing nearby.

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That's the lion monument, which commemorates the Swiss guards who were killed in the French Revolution.

One of these bad boys will get you close to the top of 7000ft Pilatus in about an hour


The nice thing about Switzerland is that any mountain worth climbing has a funicular, a hotel and a restaurant on top. It's -3 with hurricane force winds, but you can be sunning yourself and drinking your coffee while kicking off your high heels for a few minutes.





The mountain really casts an impressive shadow:


The views from the top are spectacular. Nothing but mountains as far as you could see to the south, and occasionally a glimpse of a green valley and a town nestled in there.




There are supposedly mountain goats that roam around, but they head down the slopes to deal with winter.

After having enough vertigo, it was time to head back down to sea level for some fondue and beer and pretzles.


There was good people watching. I honestly thought that guy was Clint Eastwood. Nope.


Dog, waiting for his owner

Lucky me, it was cold enough to wear all my knitwear, all at once:

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I'm wearing my clapotis scarf from a couple years ago, my Simply Marylin sweater, and unseen by the camera, my Jaywalker socks. Which is so ironic since I got yelled at for jaywalking while I was there.

A worthy afternoon was spent at the Rosengart Museum. It had a huge collection of Picasso and Klee, and it was the perfect size as to not make your eyes glaze over with a case of museumitis.


I have FOs and some new yarn to show off..tomorrow!

Friday, 11 December 2009


I took a day trip from Zurich to nearby Rapperswil. Swoon. It was a lovely little town on the shores of Zurichsee and touching the alpine foothills.


Rapperswil Castle

There is a 13th century castle and church sitting on a hill in the middle of the old town. The castle now contains the Polish Museum and the grounds are maintained beautifully, with a rose garden and a herd of deer.

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I found a spinning store there! Or maybe it was just a spinning window display. Regardless, I couldn't figure out how to get in to where the wool was. This probably wasn't the great tragedy that I felt that it was at the time.

There is a wooden footbridge that crosses the lake- walking across you get amazing views of the Alps.

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The Swiss have developed an ingenious series of walking, hiking and biking trails across the country. The path is always well-marked and it always swings by a train station in every town. They have a baggage forwarding system- you can drop off you bags at a station in the morning and they will be waiting for you at whatever destination you'll end up walking to at the end of the day.

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