Thursday, 27 May 2010

FO- Lobster

I seem to be on a nautical kick.

may 2010 048

Funny story: each year they have a huge lobster festival up in Rockland, Maine. Inevitably, PETA shows up to protest wearing bright red lobster costumes. Apparently, they don't realize that lobsters are sea-floor brown in color when they are alive. Local lobstermen enjoy ridiculing them for this mistake.

This is a Knit Lobster that I made as a gift. It was a bit fussy with all the piecing together, but in the end he came out looking more or less like a crustacean I'd like to eat.

He needs antennae still and I want to go back and make his eyes black.

may 2010 049

He's been cooked alright.

The specs: I used about 100 yards of Araucania Nature Wool that was leftover from a project from years ago. I dyed it red and used size 6 needles. I guess that makes it part of my A-Z Stashdown Challenge as well.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

FO- Norweigan Snail Mitts

I've always had a fondness for snails.

I grew up near a big, sandy beach that had areas of rocks and tidepools. This was the perfect location for plucking snails off rocks and watching their rubbery bodies retreat far into their nautilus shells.


april 2010 061

It doesn't hurt that they are also delicious in a butter and/or cream sauce.

Norweigan Snail Mitts

Norweigan Snail Mitts

I love these mittens. They took some time to complete but I kept plugging away at them. They seemed like they were about 4" long for about a month, and then I got determined and completed them in three days.

Norweigan Snail Mitts

I made these two at a time on two size US 1 circs. I had to stop and untangle every few rows- having four balls of yarn to keep track of seemed exponentially more difficult than two. I kept telling myself that if it got too hairy, I would put one aside and finish one at a time.

Norweigan Snail Mitts

I used two skeins of Artyarns Ultramerino 4. They both started out light blue, but I threw one in the dyepot and got a deep marine blue. The green on the cuffs and the duplicate stitch is some Shibui sock yarn in "Seaweed" that I had leftover from a pair of socks I made last year.

Norweigan Snail Mitts

I love these and I'm keeping them. They are tucked away waiting for the first icy arctic blast to hit, or perhaps a trip to Patagonia. The stranding makes them double-thick and quite warm.

The specs: The pattern is by Adrian Bizilia from "The Knitters Book of Yarn". I used two skeins of Artyarns Ultramerino 4 (Color 121), which is a 4-ply fingering weight 100% merino sock yarn. It was 380 yards total, and I had just a little bit of each color leftover. They were done two at a time on two circs- I used size 1. No pattern modifications except that I did a provisional cast on so I could line up the first welt smoothly. They weren't difficult, just a bit fiddly with the cuffs, and the colorwork requires constant attention.

These are also part of my ongoing A-Z stashdown challenge.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

FO: Phyllo Yoked Pullover

I had to get my eyes dilated at the ophthalmologist on Friday, which left me looking freakishly stoned.

may 2010 023

Part of me wanted to just sit in a dark room and wait for it to wear off, but I had much too much to do. So everything I saw that afternoon was blurred and accompanied by a bright glare, which made me start to think I was stoned.

Phyllo Yoked Pullover

Anyway. The gin and tonics probably didn't help.

I finished the Phyllo Yoked Pullover from Norah Gaughan's Knitting Nature.

may 2010 012

I love sweaters like this- you go on for almost forever in plain stockinette stitch, and then BAM there's a pretty and unique design element that pulls it all together. It's based on the Phyllotaxis Spiral found in plants- sunflowers, pinecones, daisy, asters and mums- they all have a spiral pattern that runs both clockwise and counterclockwise to form a lattice.

Phyllo Yoked Pullover

It's a fairly simple lace pattern with the decreases built in so the spiral is uninterrupted. When I get cooking on something like that, I can't put it down. It's addictive.

Phyllo Yoked Pullover

Phyllo Yoked Pullover

I didn't do any major modifications except for the sleeves. The way they were written, they were going to be hourglass shaped. Big belled cuffs that taper to the elbow. I'm a big fan of rolling up my sleeves (or at least having the option to) so I nixed the sleeve design and just did a plain sleeve with decreases every 10 rows until I hit the number I needed to get them to fit in with the yoke.

may 2010 003

It's really just a lovely sweater. And the yarn...Rowan Calmer almost makes me feel silly for all the smack I've talked about hating cotton and how it hurts my hands. It's made up of 75% cotton, 25% acrylic microfiber. The Microfiber makes it silky soft and gives it a bit of drape. It is elastic enough hide stitch inconsistencies better than 100% cotton. Love. Love. Love. It's lightweight and comfortable to wear as well.

The specs: I used 8 skeins of Rowan Calmer in "Refresh"- about 1400 yards- for the 40" size. I used US size 6 needles. It is knit and pieces and seemed up before you attach everything on one long circular needle for the yoke. It could have been modified to knit in the round, but the front is shorter than the back to make the neck dip lower in the front, so you would have to plan on that.

Friday, 14 May 2010

FO- Pucker

Instant Gratification comes in many forms. This one just happened to be a feminine Norah Gaughan sleeveless top.


The aptly named "Pucker" from Norah Gaughan's Volume 4 collection. It took me just a couple weeks from start to finish.


I made the second-smallest size- the 38"- and I have plenty of room in there. It gave my heart the pitter pats when I was seeming it up because it looked enormous. All that extra fabric just hangs around and gracefully drapes and swishes around when you move.


It's a lot of stockinette and then some interesting detail at the front to create the namesake pucker.

april 2010 080

The yarn makes this pattern. Seduce is a really unique yarn. It is composed of 47% Rayon, 25% Linen, 17% Silk, 11% Nylon. It appears to have two strands of yarn spun around a thin core. It's very slick. I had to change to bamboo needles after about 5 minutes of trying to work with metal and having the entire project fall off the needles. It's a bit thick-and-thin, which helps hide stitch inconsistencies, and it blocks out lengthwise quite a bit.


It was kind of cold on picture day so I had it layered, but this will be nice in July with a thin tissue tank or cami underneath.


The Specs: I used almost all of 9 skeins of Seduce- 900 yards- for the 38" size. I used size 6 needles, which helped control the stretching issues I had when swatching- this could easily turn into a mini-dress if your gauge is loose.

I didn't modify the pattern at all- it's simple and fast to knit up. I might try and do this in the round next time, but I think the side seams give it weight and help with the drape.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

FO- Biggie Smalls Sweater

I finished my Baby Cables and Big Ones Too sweater a few weeks ago.

After making and gifting a Cobblestone a couple of winters ago, I really wanted to make myself one...


Finding a pattern that was a bit prettier and feminine seemed like a better idea though:

Biggie Smalls

After my run-in with the sharpie, I lost heart for a bit but finished it with duplicate stitch in mind. That's a whole 'nother story, as duplicate over garter stitch is not easy. I will be needing help.

I love the top-down raglan construction and the cables gave me a lot to do before an endless bit of plain old stockinette stitch. Round and round we go, and not a seem to sew except for a few stitches under each armpit.

Biggie Smalls

The back isn't really that lumpy- I threw it over a shirt that had a tie in the back. I love the color I got from the Eucalyptus dye. I got a lot of variation and subtlety darker stripes throughout the fabric.

april 2010 096

I had trouble getting gauge but with my trusty calculator I was able to figure out that I would be okay if I just made the smallest size.

april 2010 092

I also changed the pattern to make the cuffs a bit asymmetrical by starting one cable a couple inches lower than the other.

april 2010 091

oooh i need a haircut badly. Next week.

april 2010 103

Despite my lingering anxiety over the little muddy spot and subsequent felting on the neckline, I'm really happy with this sweater.

The specs:

Baby Cables and Big Ones Too by Suvi Simola. I made the smallest size (32 1/2") but ended up with the 40" size with my gauge, which is pretty much exactly where I wanted it. (PS, a friend of mine who is much smaller than me couldn't get gauge either and she made the Large size but ended up with a perfectly-fitting small.) I used a size 5 needle.

The yarn is scrumptious- Valley Yarns Northfield. I bought two of the 250 gram hanks for a total of 1300 yards, dyed it in Eucalyptus with and alum mordant...and I still have quite a bit leftover despite the yardage the pattern calls for. I even split the yarn up when I got to the sleeves with the thought that I could make them 3/4 length or even elbow-length if I had to. The yarn is a DK weight 70% Merino, 20% Alpaca, 10% Silk. Its tightly cabled structure means you won't have the pilling a Merino/Alpaca blend usually will have. It also means it's great for cables- they really pop and have great definition. Plus, there is no itch at all to the sweater. Ooooh I love it. I'll be using this yarn again in future projects. It's pretty damn luxurious without the vertigo-inducing price tag.

I might go around the neck with a crochet stitch of some type- where the cables gather the fabric it leaves an obvious pucker. Not a huge deal, but it bothers me a little bit.

Lucky me: it's been dreary and cold lately and I've been able to wear this despite the advancing of the season. It's bright and kind of cheery without being nauseatingly happy.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

WIP- Phyllo Yoked Pullover

I just can't seem to help myself- as soon as I have one sweater off the needles, another one gets cast on right away.

I impulsively cast on for the Phyllo Yoked Pullover.

It's from Norah Gaughan's book "Knitting Nature". I bought the book when it first came out a few years ago, but let it sit on the shelf until I felt confident enough to tackle a project. Her patterns tend to have unusual construction elements or some sort of crazy cable or lace pattern that looks harder than it actually is.

Phyllo Yoked Pullover

This pattern is fairly simple- you knit the body and sleeves in plain stockinette, attach everything on one circular needle, and then start the yoke pattern. There are decreases worked into the pattern so the spiraling diamonds get progressively smaller as you work your way up to the neck.

Phyllo Yoked Pullover

It is also very addicting...I haven't put this thing down since I started it a couple weeks ago.

Since it's the season that requires me to try non-wool yarns, I decided to give Rowan Calmer a shot. It's a cotton/microfiber blend. I'm really quite pleased with it...cotton usually hurts my hands because I find it tough and inflexible, but the microfiber really does wonders to make this soft and almost silky.

april 2010 031

Meanwhile the Escargot mitts are languishing away at the bottom of my knitting bag. I need a sunny afternoon to sit in the park and finish those already.

Monday, 10 May 2010

FO- Double-Thick Mitts

Here are the mittens that kicked off my A-Z Stashdown project:

Double-thick mitts

I finished them more than a month ago. We had an unseasonably chilly spring day yesterday and for the first time in weeks, I felt like donning a pair of mittens for a few minutes.

Double-thick mitts

And boy, they are toasty. The entire mitten is double-stranded throughout and I used size 0 needles for some dense fabric, but with very little bulk. They are a bit snug on my hands, but they are destined to be gifted to someone with slightly smaller paws so they should fit perfectly.

Double-thick mitts

The Arlan Aarwetta yarn is not terribly soft. It's a nylon/superwash wool blend that was splitty and it dried my hands out...I went through a lot of hand creme while making these. I took a half skein of the beige yarn and overdyed it a dark, saturated red so I could do the colorwork. These should last forever- the yarn is super sturdy and not a pill or weak spot in sight. This yarn would make excellent socks as it seems like it would be years before a darning needle would be needed.

Double-thick mitts

I loved the braided details and picot edge on the cuffs. It was a little finicky, but it really makes the mitten.

The specs: I used a bit over 2 skeins (440 yards total) of Arlan Arwetta sock yarn. This is a Swiss yarn that is rumored to be discontinued but in department stores in Switzerland it seems to be the main sock yarn choice still. I did these on 2 circs that were size US 0 after much trial and error involving dpns. The pattern is by Adrian Bizilia from "The Knitters Book of Yarn", which has a plethora of great patterns and sage advice regarding choosing the right yarn for a project.

I'm off to the post office now to mail these out. Unseasonable, yes, but I'm sure they will get some use in six months from now.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Beach Day

This past weekend was so hot, I couldn't resist a little trip to the beach. I'm pretty close to Brighton Beach and it's a little less crowded than Coney Island, so I set out early in the morning with my beach chair and my knitting.

Coney Island

april 2010 038

There's something soothing about getting to the beach earlier in the day than everyone else and taking in the sounds of the surf and the seabirds.

april 2010 049

april 2010 059

I think all New Yorkers forget sometimes that we live on an island.

april 2010 054

Mind you, I don't go near the water anyplace this close to the city but I'm pretty sure it was too cold for a dip anyway. Brighton Beach is a Russian neighborhood, and you can find people in the water year-round going for a swim.

Also, the thing about this beach is that people are pretty comfortable with their bodies. It makes for some mighty fine people watching.

april 2010 069

april 2010 063

Be happy that my focal point was off. This guy had skin-tight skivvies on that showed all his junk. The soft focus improves the situation greatly.

april 2010 064

There was something really disturbing about this chap. I couldn't put my finger on it until he passed me by.

april 2010 065
MAKE IT STOP! Oh, my eyes. What is seen can not be unseen.

Sadly, I got this crazy deer-in-the-headlights thing happening and the prize buck eluded my camera. He seemed like a local. Maybe I'll get him next time. His neon green speedo still haunts my dreams.

On to the knitting.

april 2010 061

I'm still crawling along on the Escargot mitts...I did make a pretty big dent in them and I'm almost up to the thumb. I find it hard to find the time to sit down with the chart and have quiet concentration time, and the beach was pretty perfect for this.

april 2010 066

The Pucker top. I actually finished this up on Sunday and I love soon. It's simple and quick to knit and makes a drapey flattering summer top. I'm still love/hating this yarn, but the end result was worth it. The sunshiny lemon color makes me happy.

I have a bunch of FOs that I need to take pictures of this weekend. I also finished spinning for the Oatmeal Cardigan and started swatching in earnest last night...I'm really very happy the way the yarn came out and I have my itchy cast-on finger at the ready.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

I decided not to go to Maryland Sheep and Wool this year. I checked the forecast a few days before and it was supposed to be near 90 for the weekend. I went to the beach instead. I love Rhinebeck because it really gets you into the sweater-season mood. You're outside in the chill fall air all day and it makes buying wool seem completely sensible. I just couldn't see myself getting into the sheep and wool spirit while wallowing through heat and humidity.

Plus, I still have this rather gorgeous Cormo fleece from last year that hasn't seen the spinning wheel yet.

crafty 002

Anyway, here are some pictures from last year. It wasn't quite so hot, but we had some rain and then some crazy swampy humidity.

MDSW 2009
Blue Face Leicester ewe. I think she looks kind of bashful.

MDSW 2009
Getting ready for the show ring

MDSW 2009
One of the things that MDSW has that Rhinebeck doesn't is lambs. Baby animals make me go "awwwwwwww".

MDSW 2009

MDSW 2009
Jacob lambs

MDSW 2009

MDSW 2009

MDSW 2009
This was a really friendly Blue Face ram. He was gorgeous but I couldn't get a picture of him since the second I scootched down to his level he would shove his face at me for petting.

MDSW 2009
Angora kids. Curly awesome sproingy goats.

MDSW 2009
I wish I had faster photo reflexes because this llama was about 3 seconds away from spitting.

MDSW 2009

Maybe next year we will get a nice chilly spring weekend for MDSW.