Friday, January 28, 2011

Gettin' organized

January has been dedicated to getting my knitting life organized.  My pattern notebooks were a mess - they were all thrown in there randomly and it was impossible to find anything you might be looking for!  The only categories I had were "things I've made"  and "things I'd like to make."  Is that a joke?  I assure you, it isn't - but it's pretty embarrassing to admit!  On my frequent trips to Skokie, where our vet is located, I've gotten a chance to get the supplies I need to get back on track - first off, some colorful notebooks, plastic sheet protectors, and sticky tabs that are repositionable.  To make up for the sheer chaos of before, not only are patterns grouped by category, but within said category, patterns from the same designer are next to one another (I didn't go so far to alphabetize, but the temptation was there!)

Several bins and baskets have also been purchased.  I started organizing my yarn by weight at the end of last year, but at last that project is officially complete.  On my most recent trip to Michael's, theur baskets were on sale - I've been needing a place to stash all my WIPs for quite some time, as my previous method was to have them strewn throughout the house.  Now, at last, they have a home!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Malabrigo junkie

Malabrigo Rios in Glazed Carrot - Can YOU resist its charms?
I'm sure no one will be surprised to read what I'm about to type:  I have a problem.  This is the first step, admitting it in a public forum - I am, beyond a doubt, a Malabrigo Junkie (not merely a knitting/yarn junkie, as previously assumed).  And today, when I got to leave work early and just happened to have my birthday gift card to Nina in my wallet, and just happened to have the exact yardage and number of skeins needed for the next sweater I intend to knit for myself written down, I indulged in my most favorite of vices, Malabrigo Rios.
And of course, now I want to start my Koukla cardigan.  Am I finished with the sport-weight cabled yoke cardigan I started right before Christmas?  Not so much.  Have I started the v-neck sweater I promised Tyler?  Nope!  Do I have any business beginning another project, with submission deadlines looming and some new responsibilities on my to-do list?  Absolutely not!

So I just want to say now, for the record, that I'll be holding off as long as I can...but like any junkie, I can't make any promises.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Is it in your library yet?

If anyone is tired of hearing me shout and squeal about Malabrigo Book 3...continue at your own risk, but don't say I didn't warn you. 

As I've mentioned at least 80 times by now, Book 3 debuted at the beginning of this month at TNNA in Long Beach - so far, people are having trouble getting and keeping it in stock (for examples, Webs has it on backorder).  A few copies have shown up on ebay, but I'm sure your LYS will have it in stock soon if you're willing to be patient!

There are some phenomenal patterns in this book - it's hard to choose what to knit first!  I'm honored to be included among such talented designers as Kristen Rengren, Stephen West, Mercedes Tarosovich-Clark, Julie Weisenburger, and Breean Elyse Miller.   Not only that, but the project photos are quite beautiful - I'm not sure where it was shot, but it's pretty cool stuff.

Here are the official book photos of my projects:

Project:  Quick Draw Socks
Yarn:  Malabrigo Sock in #802 Terracotta
Details:  Knit top-down, these socks are a simple beginner's cable project (can also be knit using the 'cabling without a cable needle' technique) that knit up quickly.   The left and right foot cable pattern mirrors one another. 

Project:  Kitchy Pleated Bag
Yarn:  Malabrigo Chunky in #35 Frank Ochre and #259 Charrua
Details:  Simple felted handbag (or project bag!) with ruched pleats using two of my favorite Malabrigo colorways.  This simple project can be knit in a day!

Project:  Stuffed Ostrich
Yarn:  Malabrigo Twist in #412 Teal Feather and #619 Tender
Details:  To minimize seaming, the body, neck and head are knit all in one piece - but I won't lie, there are still several bits and bobs to be sewn on!  I recommend building this toy as you go.  There are a few areas of short-row shaping, but the rest of the toy is comprised of fairly basic techniques.  Most of the pieces are worked in the round, unless otherwise noted in the pattern. 

Side note:  I am really in love with this version of Stephen West's Purl Ridge Hat!  Will have to knit myself one pronto!

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Bevy of FO's

Today's post will be filled with FO's I've been meaning to share with my dear readers for quite some time.  Hope you're sitting down for this!

I realized there are some projects I made for holiday gifts that were never shared here as FOs, only WIPs.  The first among these would be the crazy rainbow socks I knitted for my husband, Tyler, who made one casual off-hand remark about wanting some crazy-colored socks and then promptly forgot about it.  Of course, I didn't, and immediately ran out to purchase the brightest skein of sock yarn I could find. 

Yarn:  Zauberball Crazy

Pattern:  Tsunami by Judy Sumner from Knitted Socks East & West

I also knit my grandmother a pair of socks every year for Christmas.  She loves them because not only are they unique and knit with love (awww!), but they also don't compress on her ankles the way store-bought socks do, so they are infinitely more comfortable for her to wear.  You may recall seeing these intermittently over the last few months - a slightly modified version of my sock pattern that debuted in the Sanguine Gryphon's Fall Steam Punk collection. 

Yarn:  The Sanguine Gryphon Skinny Bugga!  In Gryphon's Purple Soldier Fly (Limited-Edition Colorway)

Pattern:  Heliotrope Stockings

The next pair of socks were intended for my father, but as soon as I finished them, I knew they wouldn't fit him - I always knit my colorwork too tight, and these were no exception.  On the plus side, they fit me pretty hurray, a surprise gift for myself!

Yarn:  Knitpicks Simply Cotton Sport in Bittersweet Heather and Green Tea Heather

Pattern:  Sneaky Argyle Socks by Wendy D. Johnson from Toe-Up Socks for Everybody

As soon as I was finished with all of my gift knitting, I cast on for some fancy cabled gloves using some possum yarn that I'd been wanting to play around with.  These look complex, but they were actually pretty simple to make, and they fit fantastically!  This is the first drops pattern I've knit to completion (I'm still working on the sport-weight cardigan - I'm about halfway through the sleeves, which I'm knitting two-at-a-time, but that's another post for another day!)  There are certainly some different phrasings to get used to, and it was kind of fun using the metric system, but overall I found it fairly easy to follow.

Yarn:  Zealana Kia Ora Rimu DK (60% Merino, 40% Possum)

Pattern:  Drops Design ME-015

I also couldn't resist knitting with some of my Christmas yarn booty immediately - and this skein of Sanguine Gryphon Codex, a beautiful BFL/silk blend, was irresistible.  Lately I'm all about the fancy cables - and somehow I've never knit a Brooklyn Tweed pattern.  How is that possible?  I'm not sure, but it's been remedied now!  Again, this is a case of something that looks incredibly complex, but I assure you it's a very fast knit - and my new favorite winter warmer!

Yarn:  The Sanguine Gryphon Codex (52% Silk, 48% Blue-Faced Leicester Wool)

Pattern: Habitat by Jared Flood

Also had to finish knitting the languishing stuffed alpaca from another time and place - he's finally all in one piece! 

Yarn:  Blue Sky Alpacas 100% Alpaca Sport Weight in Medium Tan

Pattern:  Zeke the Aloof Alpaca by Rebecca Danger

I should probably take down the Christmas tree now that I've knit the other Rebecca Danger Monster Ornament.  Or maybe I should let Olive hang around a bit before she's retired to the ornament box for eleven months....

Yarn:  Shi Bui Sock in Cranberry and Shi Bui Staccato in Apple

Pattern:  Olive the Christmas Monster by Rebecca Danger

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Bears and ostriches, oh my!

In the past week, I've come across a few Ravelers who have knitted up some of my toy designs!  I'm always excited to see what colors and yarns people choose for their projects, and it's also nice to know that people appreciate your work. 

This first one was completed at the very end of 2010 by lundr.  She used some Malabrigo Rasta (interestingly enough, purchased at Loopy yarns here in town, though she is from Kentucky I believe) in Coronilla to knit up and adorably googly Mr. Nubbins, and I love the variation on the bowtie! 

I also came across the first person to knit any of my Malabrigo Book 3 designs on Ravelry - AngLouise from Minnesota wins the prize for knitting my Stuffed Ostrich pattern using Malabrigo Worsted in Bobby Blue and  Snow Bird.  I'm impressed with how similar those two colors are to the ones called for in the pattern - I knit the prototype using Malabrigo Twist in Teal Feather and Tender! 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

WIP Wednesday

Over the weekend, I was contacted by Stephen West regarding errata in the Lakedale Shawl pattern from Malabrigo Book 3 - as you can see, one side of this scarf is in broken rib, and one side is in seed stitch rib.  Apparently there were some pattern repeats missing from the book (the book has a 4-row repeat, but it should really be an 8-row repeat), causing the entire pattern to be in broken rib (I think I messed up an increase or two early on, resulting in the harlequin effect which is probably not evident in the squonchy* photo to the right).  Since this scarf is just for me, and I wasn't entirely sure it wasn't my operator error, I decided to press on instead of frog and begin again - plus, part of me was also curious whether or not I would have the correct stitch count by the time I reached the colorwork scallops.  Somehow I did, but instead of having 115 stitches on either side of the stitch markers, I had 116 stitches on the side with the seed stitch rib and 114 stitches on the side with the broken rib.  Go figure!

At any rate, it was really nice to have the designer be so proactive about this issue - as a contributor to the same book, I couldn't help but sympathize with how it must feel to have your name on a pattern with any sort of error, big or small.  In the end, we're all humans, and sometimes these things fall through the cracks.

For those of you who are intending to knit this pattern - and I recommend that you do, because it's a lovely, fast knit! - errata is located here

Meanwhile, I started a pair of socks last week at work (de-stashing AND de-queue-ing!) - it's kind of slow going, but I'm liking how they're turning out.  The yarn is crocking a little bit onto my fingers as I knit with it, but I love the colorway and I'm sure a little soak in some vinegar is all it will take to fix that issue.

Pattern:  Drunken Bees

Yarn:  Neighborhood Fiber Co. Watershed Sock in Glover Park

Needles:  US Size #1.5

I am also working on the second Rebecca Danger Ornament Kit - I'm not allowing myself to take down the christmas tree 'til it's done!  There's not much to look at currently, as I've only knit the body and part of the arms, but this should be done in a day or two at most, so more photos are forthcoming.  

I can't say I've worked much on my sweater sleeves, but here and there I've picked up and knit a row - I'm now finished with the ribbed cuff and getting to the increases.  I need to get some better circular needles (I'm working them two-at-a-time, but all I had handy were some crappy bamboo circs, and the joins are causing some problems with fluidity of knitting).  Also need to assemble the pieces of a major UFO - way back in fall, I started making a stuffed alpaca toy (Rebecca Danger's Zeke the Aloof Alpaca, to be exact), but never even got around to entering it into my project notebook on Ravelry.  Then life craziness happened, and gift knitting took over, and I'd all but forgotten about it.  When I cleaned my yarn room over New Year's weekend, this little guy was excavated, and perhaps someday soon he will become a snuggly little alpaca!

This is my last day off for the week, and while I've accomplished most of my chores around the house, there is one project that needs some attention:  photograph and catalog all of my stash on ravelry.  I know it doesn't really matter if it's officially in my online stash or not - but in the spirit of Destash11, why not?  I'm going to approach this project bird by bird and just do one bin at a time. 

It seems like a while since I've posted any cat photos - and what kind of crazy yarn lady would I be if I didn't do that from time to time?  Yesterday, in the midst of a snowstorm, a large box arrived from CB2 - I had a post-holiday blowout thanks to a substantial gift card.  I suppose it was only a matter of time before I had to confess my weakness for CB2 and the like - now my secret's out.  At any rate,  the cats got in on the fun as well - I suppose this arrangement works quite well, I get to play with the toys inside, and they get to go crazy with a big cardboard box.  Simple things! 

Coming up in the next blog post:  lots and lots of FO's! 

*Yes, I just made that up.  Rest assured, in another five years, it'll be in the OED.

Monday, January 10, 2011

show your queue who's boss

In this, the third year of tagging projects 'destashXX' (XX being the last two digits of whatever year it happens to be) in order to see how much knitting can be done from one's stash, I would like to suggest a synergistic movement for the masses - allow me to invite you to the party that is De-Queue '11!

The rules:  Anything you've queued prior to this year is game.  Tag your qualifying projects with 'queue11' - and for added fun, write the original date of queue in the project notes.  For the sake of anthropology, take stock right now and make a note of how many pages and projects you have in your queue before you begin this effort (feel free to leave said info as a comment here!  I love a wildly unscientific experiment!).

Now, I've seen some people on Ravelry with some truly staggering and impressive queues.  When you've got double-digits happening, you don't mess around (or, perhaps, you just queue any project that you think is cool, regardless of whether or not you think you'll actually knit it!  Been there!).  I am not anywhere near such impressive numbers - but I do have six pages of queue to work through, for a grand total of 169 projects. 

  • 20 projects are fingerless gloves, mittens, wristwarmers, and the like.
  • 18  projects are hats
  • 42 projects are socks
  • 25 projects are toys
  • 41 projects are sweaters (this is the category in which I expect the least amount of queue improvement)
  • 23 projects are not tagged into a set (most of them are scarves or random household-type knits)
As I went though my queue to better organize it by project type, I saw a lot of fat that could be trimmed (see the above note regarding indiscriminate queueing).  But no cheating!  Queue deletions must happen at the end of the calendar year - or, if it really bothers you that much to see something in your queue that you will never, ever make, you better keep a running tally so that your end-of-year results aren't skewed.  And honestly, it might be interesting to see how many things that were queued at one time or another that never made it to the cast-on stage - so by all means, take the bull by the horns.  

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

First FO of 2011 + ornaments, ornaments, ornaments!

Even though Christmas is over, and soon we'll be taking down the tree, I couldn't resist the Rebecca Danger monster ornament kits I got for Christmas.  On New Year's Day, I cast on my first project of the new year - Owen, the Christmas Monster Ornament!  Now he's ready to spend a few days on the tree til he has to hibernate in the ornament box til Thanksgiving.

Now is probably a good time to share the other ornaments I knit this year:

Tiny Snowmen!  I went a little crazy with these - they were just so fun and easy to make.  Before I knew it, there was an army of tiny snowmen in my living room.  Just to be on the safe side, I gave most of them away as gifts this year.

Tiny Santa! I predict I will be making a few more of these for next year, but I just ran out of time to execute all of my grandiose last-minute knitting plans.  This one went to live with my aunt & uncle in Kansas City

Tiny panda with his dinosaur friend (knit by Sam)

Tiny Panda! I made this specifically to put in Tyler's stockings - he has a love of pandas that has, I'm afraid, doomed him to a lifetime of panda-themed gifts from me.  You know how you make that one offhand remark that you really like moose, and then suddenly, any gift you get has a moose theme to it?  That's sort of what this is like, except that Tyler is not merely a casual admirer of the panda.  He does have a bit of a panda obsession, and so far the theme in my gift-giving has not worn thin.  At least, I don't think so!

The details:  As previously mentioned, Owen is a Rebecca Danger pattern - the rest of the patterns were written by Anna Hrachovec at Mochimochiland (links above).  All yarn is worsted-weight, knit with US#5 needles - most of it is Pick Up Sticks' Small Balls in Cream, Red and Grass.  The panda is knit using Berroco Vintage wool in White and Black.  

Monday, January 3, 2011

Belated bragging

I don't know about anyone else, but I am relieved that 2010 is over - here's hoping that 2011 is a kinder year for everyone!  According to my grandmother, odd-numbered years are lucky - so here's hoping she's right.  She also would insist everyone eat sauerkraut on New Year's Day for good luck - something which I never did, since I can't stand the stuff, and it never seemed to affect things that much.   But all the same, here's hoping 2011 is better than last year.  2010 set the bar pretty low, so I don't think that's too much to ask!

I never got around to writing about my trip to Urban Arts & Crafts during our whirlwind trip to Kansas City for the holiday - and I suppose there isn't much to report, since I usually make this trek while in town, and it's great little shop filled to the brim with crafty goodies, plus a cute kitty sleeping in a chair.  I think I found the happy medium between a total blow-out and purchasing a modest one or two skeins of yarn - suitcase space is always at a premium when we come home for Christmas! 

I was pretty monochromatic in my purchases - I have plans for the black & white Berroco Vintage Wool, but the red skein of Plymouth Haciendo was an impulse buy - it was just so soft, i couldn't resist!  There's also always the requisite skein of sock yarn - this one is Lang Tosca Light in a deep bluish-purple.  I think my sock yarn bin in my newly-reorganized yarn room is now at capacity. 

Also haven't gotten a chance to boast that the vest I knitted my mom for Christmas actually fit!  Anyone who was around me for the last month before the holiday got to hear me obsess over whether or not I had guessed her size correctly - she has recently slimmed down, so it was basically a shot in the dark.  I based my measurements on the small bit of information I was able to glean from a phone conversation I'd had with her where she told me what size she now wears at the Gap.  It's true - I went to the Gap's website and looked up their sizing chart before I started knitting.  

Once the sweater was pieced together and blocked, I procrastinated sewing on the buttons.  I'm not generally superstitious, but for some reason I was convinced that if I sewed on buttons, it wouldn't fit her (but somehow leaving them off would ensure a perfect fit - of course!) A level-headed friend of mine convinced me that this was ridiculous, and on Christmas Eve, there I was, sewing buttons on my mom's vest.

The Stats:

Pattern:  Loretto Vest by Cassie Miller (Winter/Spring 2010 issue of Knitscene)

Yarn:  Misti Alpaca Pima Cotton/Silk in Khaki (I used about three and a half skeins)

Buttons:  From my vintage button stash

Modifications:  I went down a needle size (US#6) to get gauge with my yarn substitution.  No other mods needed - really fast-knitting pattern with simple yet flattering shaping!