Thursday, August 30, 2007

Oh, Great

I've been a new mother-in-law for less than a week, and while the happy couple is on their honeymoon, I am pet-sitting. The cats are fine, but I managed to kill all the tropical fish. I talked to the SonIL's sister, and she thinks I overfed them. If you overfeed cats or dogs, they just get fat, but fish won't overeat and the leftover fish food contaminates the water. Wish I had known that before I killed them all. *sigh* Not off to an auspicious start, are we? I wonder if this gaff offsets the socks or hat I made him.

I am having better luck with knitting than with fish, and finished the more-than-one-skein shawl. It turned out kind of smallish, but I was tired of knitting an acre of stockinette. I used two skeins of Cascade 220, plus about 25% of a third for the border.

Here it is, awaiting blocking...

... and here it is pinned out ...

... and the finished product.

I'm going to add a button or a pin or something, to keep it from sliding off my shoulders.

In the interest of stash-busting, I pulled out an old UFO and started unraveling the yarn for a new project (with a little help from Hip Hop.)

While four hanks await dekinking, I went ahead and started a rectangular shawl with one of the other balls. Feeling brave, I decided to wing it by using a lace stitch pattern from The Knitting Stitch Bible, "Falling Leaves". The tentative plan is to knit the rectangle, then maybe add a border in a different lace stitch.

(I tried to take a close-up of the stitch pattern, stetching out the fabric with my fingers, but then you would have seen a close-up of my wrinkly gardener hands. Not a pretty picture!)

I was afraid using Plymouth Yarn Encore Worsted for a lace shawl might be a mistake because, with its high acrylic content, it may not block nicely. But since I am using US7 circulars, the knitting feels relaxed enough that blocking might not make that big a difference anyway. We shall see!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Not a Fan of Bamboo

I keep telling myself to give away my bamboon DPNs. If the air is at all humid or my hands are damp or sweaty, the needles get sticky. Sticky needles make for tighter knitting. In this instance, the result was sock #1 being a bit larger/looser than sock #2, 3g worth. I could tell the difference, especially when I turned the socks inside out to weave in the ends at the toes, but my SO says he can't, that the socks feel fine. Still.

The pattern is "Men's Grey Socks," free from Lion Brand. I used the recommended Wool-Ease, which feels kind of icky after working with Cascade 220, but I'm stash-busting. I also "clarified" the pattern and will publish my "adjustments" once I have verified them with a second pair, which I have already started. These are in "Oxford Grey" while the next pair will be in "Rose Heather" and are for me.

I do like knitting socks in worsted weight yarn, though. Takes no time at all!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Chloe's Birthday Bag

It's Chloe's birthday! She likes green, and this bag is really green. It's the Exchange Bag pattern from SnB's Happy Hooker.

The "yarn" is Hilos La Espiga Nylon no. 18, which is really a nylon cord that is a killer to work with, but the results were worth it.

I'm a little embarrassed at how long it took me to complete this project (see start). Actually, the crochet did not take all that long, but I kept putting off adding the lining because I am not much of a seamstress. While procrastinating, I took my sewing machine in for a tune-up, which was a good thing, but then wound up handsewing the lining.

The photo doesn't do much justice to the lining - it actually looks much better than this, adds a touch of class to a casual bag.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Dog Days of Summer

I would feel bad about not posting more often except that many of the blogs I read regularly are similarly on summer hiatus. But I have been knitting!

Just finished these, for my daughter's fiance:

They match! Self-striping sock yarn is fun but getting the socks to match is funner.

Here is a burp rag to go with the baby bib:

So now Grandmother Petersen has a matched set when Keegan comes to visit:

See Mason-Dixon Knitting for how-to.

I just could not send off the no hair day cap without something more normal, to show I am not completely whacko and just trying to use up the Fun Fur.

The pattern is from 2007 Knitting Pattern-a-Day Calendar. July 24 describes the "Channel Island Cast On" which creates this nice picot edging.

I had to practice this a few times before getting it right. Then July 25 provides the pattern for "La Mancha Watchcap" which is a relatively easy lace pattern.

This exhausts the Unknown Lavendar Yarn. I bought this soft, silky, acrylic baby yarn with the intent of using it for chemo caps. One baby cap, 5 premie caps, and one chemo cap later, all that remains is 3 grams. The yarn band is long gone, but the next time I am in Joann's, I will try to figure out just what it was.

My sweetie has been busy, too, concocting this swift from a photo. Not bad for not really knowing how a swift works. I tried it out so he could see it in action, and now he is making refinements.

This yarn is skein 3 of the so-called one-skein shawl. This is on purpose. I wanted a nice and easy, no-brainer project, using nice yarn on size 7 needles, and I knew I would need more than one skein of yarn. After two skeins, I took the shawl off the needles, to see if it was ready for the border (it is), but I used the same black yarn to thread through the stitches, and now am having trouble getting the shawl back on the needles. But I shall prevail!

Monday, August 06, 2007

No Rules

Maybe it's because I am a Libra, but I tend to be very rule conscious, which gets me into trouble when knitting. I want to follow the directions exactly and produce exactly what the picture shows.

Well, knitting (and life in general) does not work that way. So, when I found myself starting and restarting what has to be the simplest pattern ever, I had to ask myself, What is your problem?!?

The pattern, from Mason Dixon Knitting, is for a baby bib. It is all garter stitch. The pattern says cast on this many stitches and knit this many rows, then do this and do that to create the straps.

First deviation: I thought the book said "Sugar and Cream" cotton yarn, but it said "Peaches and Cream". I like to try new yarns, so often try to find exactly (that word again!) the same one used in the pattern. I have never used Sugar and Cream, though, so I guess my personal rule is unbroken.

Second deviation: When I cast on the number of stitches, even on a needle one size smaller, I ended up with something that was destined to be 11 inches wide instead of 6.5. Since I find cotton yarn difficult to knit, due to its inelasticity, I decided I would just cast on fewer stitches, like 30 instead of 40.

Third deviation: Throwing caution to the wind, I made the wild and crazy decision not to count rows, but just knit until the piece looked squarish.

Fourth deviation: I'm on a roll now. I made the straps only 7 stitches wide instead of 10. And instead of measuring them, I made them the same length as the bib portion. And I put in three buttonholes, to make it adjustable. And I used a different method to make the buttonholes (the pattern said I could, so I guess this is not really a deviation).

Tada! But I'm not going to use that yellow button - it's too yellow.

And I completed Magic Stripes sock #1. It is a bit snug, but after blocking should be just right.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

The Agony of Defeat

I am crying "Uncle" on the mango baby hoodie. There I was, in the homestretch of construction, when I unmindfully seamed the hood and equally unmindfully attached it to the body. Nothing was centered correctly, which is not new for me, but somewhere along the line, while procrastinating on finishing this project, I had started to weave in ends, including the ones I now needed to unweave and unsew. I tried several times to undo my work, but I just could not find the right places to undo. I did find some wrong places to undo, though, unraveling some knitting that did not need unraveling. The splitty Lion Brand Microspun did not help the situation, either.

My daugher has suggested in the past, when I complained about a particular knitting project, that I just not finish it. That goes against my grain, but this time I think I will take her advice. I have allowed this baby hoodie to stand between me and new projects I have wanted to start, but no more. It will go into the yarn leftover bag, to be dealt with sometime in the unforeseeable future.

Whew. I feel better already!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Yearning for Yarning

After expressing my JIT stash philosophy in the previous post, I was a little surprised to find myself on a mini yarn crawl.

What started it was learning that Lion Brand is discontinuing their Magic Stripes yarn. The last time I was in Hancock's, they had a somewhat extensive selection of Magic Stripes, so I wandered in there the other night, just to see if there was any left. And there was nary a skein to be found.

But Joann's is just around the corner, so I stopped in there as well. No sock yarn of any kind, but I did pick up one ball of Sugar and Cream, just for comparison purposes against Lion Cotton. And a pair of US15 29" circular needles.

I did look around a bit in both stores, but did not see any yarn that excited me, just the same old Fun Fur and Wool-Ease and Homespun. I miss the LYS. Yarn can be bought online, but there is just something about seeing the colors in natural light and feeling up the skeins.


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

JIT Stash

Many knitters and crocheters (and sewers) have the habit of buying more yarn (and material) than they can ever hope to knit or crochet (or sew) in a lifetime. I found myself heading down that path, but I am not a natural hoarder nor am I a collector. Also, I live in a small house and I get claustrophobic when the walls close in, even if they are walls of yarn.

So I make up stash rules, like a yarn purchase must be for a particular project. But what about sock yarn? One hundred-gram skein or two 50-grammers will make a pair of socks, and a pair of socks is a project, right? Never mind that I currently have enough yarn for at least 5 pairs of socks. Maybe that is why I feel compelled to always have a sock project going, so I can use up the current sock stash and buy some more.

Several times I have visited an online source of sock yarn, loaded up my virtual shopping cart (it's all on sale! except that gorgeous cherry red), then stopped short of completing the order. Must Use Stash is my mantra, because it doesn't take much stretching of the stash rule before I'm buying yarn like it will never be available ever again.

But even though there are plenty of non-sock projects in the queue, I nearly broke down when I came across this shawl. I downloaded the pattern and filed it with the six million other patterns I have downloaded, and I went to a website where they sold the yarn in smaller-than-one-pound-spools and I started filling that shopping cart... BUT all the colors I needed were not available, which causes a stutter in the process, enough of a stutter that I did not complete the transaction.

While taking deep, gulping cleansing breaths, I calmed myself by thinking how that shawl will make a nice winter project.

So I'd better finish up everything else by then!