Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I keep making things on small needles.

It's true: most of the things I knit are made on small needles. I've knit 10 pairs of socks so far this year. If I ever finish my intarsia socks, it'll be 11. If I make a pair for my mother for Christmas, it'll be a nice, round dozen. All on 2.5mm needles. It's not that I'm especially fond of knitting thousands upon thousands of tiny stitches, it's that socks are very portable, and therefore good bus knitting. They're also inexpensive compared to knitting sweaters. A skein of really nice sock yarn can be had for $25 or so, but to purchase enough quality yarn to make a sweater in my size starts at around $100. This is why I make so many socks. That, and the (almost) instant gratification that comes with making socks.

Gloves hold a similar appeal to socks: they take roughly the same amount of yarn and use the same size needles. They take a little longer to knit, as each finger has to be articulated and there many more ends to weave in at the end, but that's a small price to pay to have gloves that fit your hand perfectly. Over Thanksgiving weekend I made lots of progress on my Glacier gloves. So much so that all I have left to do is knit the fingers and thumb of the left hand. I've finished the right hand glove, with only then ends to weave in. I ended up using 2.75mm needles for the fingers, as they were a little snug with the smaller needles. It seems like such a small difference, but that little bit was all it took!

Over the long holiday weekend I also finished the Owl-paca baby hat, which was knit on 4mm needles. That size, while larger than sock needles, would still be considered on the small side by most knitters, I think. Instead of making the owl's eyes as called for in the pattern, I used the technique from the stuffed owl I recently knit for this hat because I didn't feel comfortable putting buttons on an accessory meant for an infant. I was able to attach the eyes and the beak to the hat at social knitting and tried it on my friend's one year old, but I didn't have my camera, so I only have photos of it lying flat on a table. I'll try to get a photo of a real baby modeling it as soon as possible, so you can see just how cute it is.

Of course, no owl would be complete unless it had a mouse in its talons, so I cast on for Ysolda Teague's Mousie last night. This project is on 2.0 needles and has knit up really quickly. In two evenings, I've finished all but one ear and the eyes. I think I have four hour's total knitting in this little rodent. And it's just the right touch for the hat. Circle of Life and all that. Maybe I'll make X's for the eyes for comic effect. Actually, I think I just talked myself into it. I crack myself up.

Well, that's all for tonight. Until next time, Friends.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks.

Today is Thanksgiving here in the US. I have plenty to be thankful for: I have a good, kind, funny, smart husband. An awesome family. Fantastic friends. A warm home. Good health. Meaningful work. And engaging hobbies. The only thing more I could wish for is that everyone else has the same.

Anyway, a day off from work lends itself to reflection and nostalgia and when I was a teenager growing up in northern Indiana, the local Album-Oriented Rock (AOR) radio station always played Arlo Guthrie's Alice's Restaurant and so I have to share it with you all. This video is a mix of more recent live performance and original clips from the film, but I think it's fun, so here it is.

Monday, November 21, 2011

You win some, you lose some.

Today was a mixed bag for my knitting. Early in the day, I decided that it was time to felt all the parts for the Hydrangea bag. I re-read the instructions a couple times, and once I felt like I had a handle on the concept, I threw caution to the wind and threw all that knitting into the washer. I checked it every so often, like the instructions said, and it actually turned out well. The flowers themselves could have gone a little longer, but I wasn't taking any chances on going too far.

Once I emptied the washer, I set to stuffing the bag so it would dry in the correct shape and I laid out all the flowers and turned up all the petals so they would dry nicely too. Everything is on the dining table and I'll give it a couple days to dry. I just hope the wet wool smell is gone by the time I get home from work tomorrow. I can comfortably call the felting a win.

I also made a little more progress on the Owl hat, having completed the ribbing around the face and the little talons as well. I made the ribbing a little longer than called for in the pattern, since I felt like it needed just a touch more around the face. I also changed how I did the talons; instead of following the designer's instructions, I used an i-cord technique that made a little more sense to me. The talons are also a win.

As for the "lose some" part of the title to today's post, I had all kinds of frustration with my Glacier gloves. And it was all my own damned fault. Sometimes I just overthink things, and tonight was one of those nights. I was working on the gloves and found that I was short one stitch midway through the round. So I un-knit that half of the round, then un-knit the previous round, because I thought I might have accidentally knit two stitches together. After all the un-knitting, I counted my stitches, and counted them again. As I had the right number both times, I decided that it was safe for me to re-knit the round and then re-knit the half round where I'd lost that stitch. When I got there, I was missing the same stinking stitch! I thought I'd die. But it turns out I wasn't missing that stitch after all. I was reading the wrong round of the chart. I was never missing a stitch. The Whole Damned Time. It took me two hours to figure this out and the whole thing was an exercise in futility. I'm sure there's a lesson to be learned here, but I think I'm immune to it just now. Tomorrow's a new day, as they say.

That's all I have for tonight. I'm going to set my knitting aside for tonight and hope for better tomorrow. Until next time, Friends.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Chugging along.

Last time I posted, I wrote about all the ends I was weaving in in anticipation of being able to felt them this weekend. Since my workweek is Tuesday through Saturday, my weekend starts tomorrow, which is when I expect to fire up the washer to get all those pieces whipped into shape. Once that's done and all the pieces are dry, I'll be able to start putting the bag together: I have to put on the handles, put in the plastic canvas reinforcements, attach the feet, then sew a liner and attach the zipper. The zipper will probably be the trickiest bit - I'm not especially confident sewing on zippers, but I guess there's a first time for everything.

Also since last time, I took some better photos of the Glacier gloves. They're not even blurry! I haven't done much more knitting on them because I made a mistake and I have to have my head in the right place to tackle fixing a messed up cable that I should have known better than to mess up. It's my own fault for not paying attention to the chart.

Since I had finished my commuting project, I decided that I wanted to cast on something easy, so on Wednesday evening I started another Little Owl baby hat. I'm making it out of the same yarn I used last time, Rowan Lima. It's such a lovely, soft yarn! What's surprising me about this project is how fast the knitting is going. All I have left to do is knit another inch of the hat, then I can do the ribbing around the face and add the eye and talon details. My friends at knit night suggested that it would be hysterical if the talons held a dead mouse, so I think I'm going to knit up one of Ysolda Teague's Mousies and consider it a baby toy. Maybe I can find some kind of rattle insert which might make it a little more fun for whichever baby gets this hat.

Well, that's all I have for now, next time I hope I'll have some photos of some felted hydrangeas as well as more progress on the gloves. It's beginning to get cold around here! Until next time, Friends.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Never-Ending Ends

During the week I finished knitting all the flowers for my Hydrangea bag, so this weekend I began weaving in all the ends. Each flower has eight ends to weave in, and there are 41 flowers (but I made a few extra, just in case) so that means there are officially 328 ends to deal with. Thank goodness there was a Harry Potter marathon on television, so I could kind of zone out while I was working on them. I've woven in all the ends at the tips of all the flowers and I only have half a dozen or so flowers that I have to do the base of each petal. Once I've done all those, then I'll get started on the felting. Luckily, there isn't a real deadline for this project - I'll probably submit it for next year's State Fair, so it doesn't have to be done until the end of July or so.

I also made some progress on the Glacier gloves, getting about an inch or so of each hand chart done. The pattern is a lot less difficult than I expected it to be. I think that having done this kind of complex cable work before is serving me well this time around. I'm still in love with the yarn - it has a lovely sheen to it and its softness impressive. I'm still not sure how warm they'll be, but I think I might have a few more weeks before it gets cold enough for me to find out. I wish I had some good photos of them for you, but I have to wait for daylight to get some good shots.

Of course, now that I've finished the actual knitting for the felted bag, I don't have anything to work on during my commute to the office. I've considered starting on a few more baby sweaters, since they're small and they go fast. I've also thought about starting another pair of socks, but I haven't finished the intarsia-in-the-round socks, so my size 1 circulars are tied up in that project. Another project I've considered is a moebius or some sort of cowl/shawlette pattern that has an easily memorize-able stitch pattern that will travel well. I'm completely undecided.  I think I'll take another look through my stash and see what looks good.

Anyway, that's all I have for tonight. Until next time, Friends.

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Quiet Weekend Knitting

I didn't have any errands to run this weekend, nor did I have much to do aside from my normal chores around the house. It was a good weekend for starting a new project, one that would require a little concentration. I cast on for Glacier this weekend. These are the second pair of gloves I've knit that are designed by Julia Mueller and I can't say enough about how much I like her work. The designs are so imaginative and have such interesting construction that I'm sure I could get as addicted to glove knitting as I am to sock knitting.

The gloves start out with a picot cuff, which I like to do with a provisional cast on instead of a standard cast on. This keeps me from having to pick up tight cast on stitches that I would then have to knit together to live stitches. It takes me ages to do this and I don't find it fun, so I do it my way and have a cuff I'm perfectly pleased with. Once I knit each picot cuff individually, I put them both on one long circular needle so I could knit them two at a time. As it turns out the charts weren't all that complicated, they just looked that way because every knit stitch had to be twisted and so required a symbol to indicate it.

Having only just finished the cuff charts, I expect the charts for the hands to get a little trickier, as there will thumbs and fingers to do, but I think I'll be able to keep up with knitting them at the same time - it's pretty neat seeing them grow together and it keeps me from having the glove equivalent of "second sock syndrome." The yarn I'm using, The Fiber Company's Canopy Fingering, is a joy to knit with. It's a beautiful, bright pink called "Dragonfruit" and has a lovely, soft hand from its alpaca and merino content. It has a little bit of shine as well from the little bit of bamboo. I think they'll be a nice contrast to my black winter coat. I can't wait 'til they're done!

Well, I think that's all I have for tonight. Until next time, Friends!

Friday, November 4, 2011

So cute, I could puke.

So the Provence cardigan is finished, and it really is disgustingly cute. Like, so cute, everyone at the baby shower would have just squealed over it, if it had been done in time and I had gone to the shower. So cute that anyone who sees it has to hold it up and exclaim over it. So cute you want to make another one, even with all the seams. It's that freaking cute.

I finished it last night, like I expected, at Stitch 'n' Bitch. I picked up those pesky selvedge stitches and knit those button bands in about an hour. I didn't have any buttons, so after I finished up at a work-related meeting, I ran up the road to the Joann's and started looking. It takes me forever to make up my mind about buttons; I always want to make sure they're just right - they should go with the sweater, but not be too matchy. They should also be cute and have holes big enough for me to sew them on using the same yarn I knit the sweater with. It's a tall order! Anyway, I found some cute flower-shaped buttons that met all the criteria, in addition to being the right size for the buttonholes. I think they're exactly right for this cardigan and I hope it gets worn and worn.

Now that that project is finished, I think I have a little breathing room until I have to start knitting baby things again in earnest. Of the eight pregnant people I know, three of the babies have been born, and I have gifts completed for two more. The other three aren't due until March or later, so I think I can knit their things after the New Year.

In other projects, I continue to plug away at the Hydrangea bag, knitting flower after little flower on my bus rides to and from work. I can do about three petals each way and I've nearly finished with the light green so I'll probably start the dark green ones next week. I think I'll also wind up the yarn for my Glacier gloves so I can get started on them this weekend. This will definitely be a complicated project, and not one for social knitting. It might even be too challenging for TV knitting, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

Well, that's all I've got for tonight. Until next time!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Super Mario Bros. Is a Giant Time-Suck.

You knew this already, though. Right? See, I'm not all that good at video games, but I am a goal-oriented person. So much so that I can't just leave things alone if I'm not good at them. I have to keep trying until I get better. (Except that this doesn't seem to be the case about working out. I'll have to let that percolate a little.) So last week, in a fit of ennui, I turned on my Wii and took another crack at Super Mario Bros. and decided that if little kids can do this, then surely I could too. I played for an hour at a time between loads of laundry and stuff like that, and I finally got through the final level. Of course that opened up a whole 'nother level, so I haven't conquered the game by any means. I'm resisting the urge to play RIGHT NOW, as I've come to realize that, as a grown-up, the Wii is not the boss of me, no matter how much my husband snickers every time I get killed. I can quit whenever I want. Really.

I have done a little bit of knitting during this time, but it almost doesn't count, because there aren't all that many photos. I've been spending most of my knitting time working on the Provence cardigan for my friend Eric's daughter, who decided to be born two days ago, ensuring that I would not have her gift finished before she arrived. At least I was smart enough to make a 6-9 months size for her, so she'll be able to wear it next Spring and Summer, I hope. I finished the fronts and back last week and washed and blocked them right away. Over the last two nights I've done the seaming and all that's left now is to attach the sleeves to the body and knit the button bands. It's funny - while I was knitting the parts I was thinking that the seaming wouldn't be so bad, but when it came time to actually do the seaming, I wasn't really feeling it. And now, of course, that all I have left to do is set in the sleeves, I'm dawdling a bit. I'm sure I can get it done tonight, but Mario is in the back of my head, inviting me to try for just one more Star Coin.

But once I finish Provence, I can start making myself a new pair of gloves. I've decided that Glacier, by Julia Mueller is going to be the pattern and I'll use my Fiber Company Canopy for them. When I saw the pattern it reminded me a lot of some Frank Lloyd Wright windows, so I had to make them. The knitting will definitely be challenging (and therefore interesting), especially if I decide to do them two-at-a-time. We'll see how I do on that. I did her Rococo pattern that way, and I think I only cursed half the time I was knitting them. (The other half of the time I was cursing my choice of very fuzzy black yarn for cables. It was stupid on my part.)

Well, I think that's it for this time, y'all. Until next time.