Monday, May 12, 2008

Venus Pullover

Ok. Last update: January. That's so sad. I've been slammed at work recently, and still am, so this is going to be brief.*

I started knitting the Venus Pullover (upper right in mauve) in February after finding the yarn at 50% off. Trust me, for Rowan yarn, 50% is as rare as as me leaving work before 7pm. There's a story here, actually - the issue of Knitscene this pattern premiered in was the first knitting magazine I ever bought, when I first experienced that "holy crap - other people knit too?" moment. I fell in love with this pattern immediately but the yarn (Rowan Holiday) is both extremely hard to find and uniquely constructed (it looks like a lopsided ladder). I didn't want to risk substituting another yarn and have the project fall apart, so I sidelined it. Then two years later I'm at Unwind's annual Superbowl yarn sale and voila - Rowan Holiday! So I bought a bunch and started knitting!

The cold hard facts:

This was a fast knit, and because of the one-piece construction I really felt like I was making progress. I had a few hiccups involving stitch count, but that was it. Seaming was a breeze (I don't think I've ever typed that sentence before) and I've worn it three or so times to work. I both love it and feel iffy about it. It's not quite what I expected, and from up close the stitch pattern looks rudimentary and silly. If I were to knit it again I would probably make up my own stitch, just to punch it up a bit. I shortened the pullover because I'm short (and with the four extra inches suggested by the pattern this thing would have hit me above the knee - eek) but I shortened it a bit too much. I think it needs another inch but I'm far too lazy to un-bindoff and fix it. I also increased the slope under the arms - the idea is for this to be loose and comfortable, but I might have taken that a bit too far :)

The first time I wore this I had an, um, interesting problem. The boat neck, which I love, stretched to an unreasonable length. I was walking down the street trying to keep my sweater from slipping off my shoulders. Not cool. So I found some cotton in corresponding colors and crocheted a line all the way around the neckline. Works like a charm! It's loose enough to convey the drapey Venus goddess nature of the design, but tight enough to actually stay on my shoulders. (At right, the crocheted inside)

The yarn itself is incredibly splitty and frequently annoyed me, but it's a great yarn for California - not too hot, not too cold. I won't be wearing it this weekend when it's forecasted to hit 95, but I'd say you could wear this baby anywhere from 65 to 85 degrees and not get annoyed at either end of the spectrum.

Well that's it! Not quite the stunning creation I thought it would be, but I have to say I love it.

*Also, please excuse the mess in my apartment in these photos. It was 11:30pm and I wanted to put on my pajamas so badly that I didn't want to waste time cleaning up before photographing it. Sad.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

FO: Wonderfalls Hat!

Instead of posting about the many FO's I've taken pictures of but not posted about, here's a quickie FO I did over the weekend. Literally. On Friday night I finished the last episode of Wonderfalls, the best show you never watched. To celebrate the sadness I wanted to make something whimsical, and so I give you....The Wonderfalls Hat**! I used some random stash yarns, and based the hat (loosely) off the Earflap Hat pattern in "Weekend Knitting."

The centerpiece of the hat is a glittery ribbon yarn I picked up on a whim, and I used a blue Manos dos Uraguay leftover for the main color. White alpaca and green Cascade 440 round out the colors.

I'm considering redoing the earflaps, because I feel like the color changes get muddied with the garter stitch and in such a small space. I might just do them in all blue, but we'll see.

As you can see from the top and the back - I had color join issues. I realized halfway through that I could probably google it and find a solution (I remember reading something about slipping a stitch or ktog'ing) but I decided to keep going. (Yes, I'm an impatient knitter!)

One thing I didn't like about this hat is all the ends I had to sew in - I tried carrying the colors up, and succeeded some of the times, but carrying four yarns up got bulky. And I couldn't figure out how to carry the yarns on the earflaps. Not only was I decreasing every row, but also both sides of the earflaps are pretty visible and I didn't want the carried yarn to be seen.

**In the second to last ep of Wonderfalls the main character, Jaye, wears an earflap hat (with matching scarf) that look like they're made from recycled sari yarn. I didn't have enough sari yarn to use, so I opted for whimsical. I wanted to call it The Jaye Hat, as a subtle nod to The Jayne Hat, from the Firefly fandom (they're even the same type of hat). But I decided against it, and hence The Wonderfalls Hat!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The First of Many Christmas Gift Posts

I can't decide which Christmas gift to spotlight first so let's go with the Argosy, since I mentioned it previously. It's the first Christmas gift I've knit for a coworker and she seemed to like it alot. Heck, I liked it so much I didn't want to give it away. These pictures are bringing back tearful memories!

Like my Claptois (Just finished! Love it!), I found this scarf pattern very easy to memorize once I got the hang of it. It's the perfect scarf for people who don't like knitting scarves, because it's just complicated enough to hold your attention, but not so complicated that you have to consult a lace chart every row. I can't knit if it disrupts my television watching, as we all know.

Ok, for the record, this picture to my left shows up correctly on my computer. Once I uploaded it, it rotated and I can't fix it. So sorry! But it gives a good view of the length of the scarf, as well as my WGA picket sign in the background :) (Solidarity!)

I loved working with the bamboo yarn - it feels like a dream, and the color is beautiful and vibrant. It has some major splitting issues, though the "pros" definitely make up for this "con" in my book. I wound up fixing minor stitches as I went, because only half the yarn would be in the stitch with the other half hanging off in an unsightly blob.

This project also marked a major milestone in my knitting career: It's the first time I steam-blocked my knitting! And I'm completely in love! I had been cautioned against wet-blocking bamboo, so I bought a new iron (my old $5 iron, believe it or not, didn't have a steam option. Shocking!) and tried it out. Before blocking my scarf had curling issues, and most of the yarn overs weren't very pretty unless they were stretched out. Once blocked it laid flat as paper and every stitch was clearly defined.

So, bottom line: Love the Argosy. Love bamboo yarn. LOVE steam-blocking!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

My Stash, and Yarn Storage

Brace yourself! I'm going to post pictures of my stash. Well, let me add a caveat - this is my stash as of 6+ months ago. That's the last time I was brave enough to take it all out and look at it. Plus I was moving, so it was all out anyway.

I keep most of my yarn stored in one of these babies from Ikea. Works in Progress are stored in a large basket on the floor, or in one of the cubby holes in my coffee table. I can't tell you how much I love this coffee table - I've got various baskets and boxes in most of those holes, holding everything from random craft supplies, my drop spindle and roving, ball bands and random scrap yarns, and my sad & forlorn Central Park Hoodie WIP.

Now, onto the stash:
On your right, we have the copper red yarn I previously wrote about winding, plus my New Zealand wool (first "real" yarn purchase, ie not Micheals or Joanns). There's some mohair in the ziploc bag, which I can't seem to make anything out of, and an assortment of ribbon yarns that I bought at an lys for $1 each. Course now I don't know what to do with them. And on the far left of this picture is my collection of cheap yarn - Lions Brand and Patons. I use them for swatches, mainly, and things that need to be washable like toys. Someday I'll use it to knit up some squares for charity, I think.

To your left you can see my Danica scarf, which I put aside because I got bored, my Poncho Of Death, which was the very first non-scarf project I started. I ran into problems 2 yrs ago and have never finished it. Also the back of a discarded cardigan and a WIP shrug. The green yarn in the box on the left is now 75% of my Central Park Hoodie, and the blue yarn next to it will one day be a beautiful sweater. The light purple near the lower right will hopefully one day be a Claptois, while the white cotton boucle next to it has thrawted any attempt to become anything. I've realized I have serious issues with mohair and boucle - both of them annoy me too much to knit with often.

The good news is I've used a bit of this yarn for personal projects and Christmas knitting. I've made a real effort to knit only from my stash, both for monetary and available space reasons. Hopefully one day I'll be able to reference these pictures and say that all of this yarn has been used. Course by then, I'll have bunches more waiting for me!

On a random cat note, Emma has begun attacking my knitting and playing with my yarn while I'm at work. *sigh* So I'm adding covers to many of my baskets and hiding WIPs out of her reach. I think it's her kitty way of saying "I hate it when you're at work all day and then come home and play with this yarn instead of me. Bah!" And she has a ridiculous passion for mohair. And super nice yarn. But not acrylics, oh no. My baby knows her expensive yarns.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Mary, Did You Know?

From my Stitch and Bitch calendar on Thanksgiving:

A Stitch in Time:

Several 14-century Italian paintings depict the Virgin Mary knitting, with Jesus Christ on her lap or by her side. Around this time, both art and literature took up the theme of the human and personal aspects of the life of Christ; the knitting Madonna evokes a tender scene, representing a more intimate portrayal of the holy family's domestic life. In these representations, she knits in the round with three or four needles and carries the yarn in her right hands.

So we know that Mary didn't like seaming (who does?) but I think we've all figured out the real question here: If circular needles had been invented, would the Virgin Mary still prefer her dpns? Discuss.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Revving up the Engine

Here we go again! I'm going to try super-hard to keep this blog updated and somewhat current. The good news is I will be in possession of a new (working!) digital camera by month's end, so I hope to increase my picture posting. Of course now that the holiday's are approaching, a large amount of my knitting is Top Secret 100% Confidential, but those pics can go up in January.

What have I been doing since my last post in August? Well, I wrote a spec screenplay for the best show on television, "Supernatural." And I did it in three weeks. Whew! And then I wrapped the show I was working on, which is exhausting. And then I flew home for two and a half weeks. So as you can imagine, there was very little knitting going on for quite some time. I finally got back in the swing of things with my Swatch of Many Colors (pics and a story someday!) and the amazing, incredible, Santa Cruz hat. I knit one of these babies in three days, and it inspired me so much that I knit another, in a different yarn and gauge. And then another! I've knit three so far, with two destined to be Christmas presents. For some reason, this pattern really jump started my creativity, and now I'm back in the saddle.

I've completely overhauled my Christmas knitting agenda, for the better. Last year I handknit almost 90% of the gifts I gave. Translation: from August to December, knitting was work, rarely enjoyed, and frequently procrastinated. (Annie, you had it right all along!) This year I'm knitting a few choice gifts for certain people, and a lot of smaller and more homogenized gifts. Since I have friends on two coasts, I can knit the same thing twice and two different colors and no one will ever know! Shh! And I'm knitting more for myself, which is selfish and awful but it helps give me the momentum to keep going.

Knitting is a process of discovery, an almost magical revealing of the pattern as you work. That's why right now I'm in knitter's heaven. I'm working on a Christmas gift for my boss, so it had to be *perfect*. I knew what I wanted - something red, classy, and super-soft. Ta-da! Knitty's Argosy scarf fit the bill. But now for the yarn. I poked around in a few LYS' and found nothing, until I checked out That Yarn Store in Eagle Rock. And I hit paydirt! (Geez, what's with the colloquialisms I'm trotting out for this entry?) Plymouth Yarns Royal Bamboo in a deep red (color #13 on the color card). I've heard a lot about bamboo yarns, but I've never tried them, so this will be fun. I'm already noticing that it's super slippery and pretty splitty but you know what? I don't care! You know why? Because it is so amazingly soft and cushy and wonderful that I just want to rub it on my face and scrunch it up in my hands like a baby blanket. I find myself absently petting the skien while I watch TV - it's that bad! I have no idea how durable it'll be, but right now I literally look forward to my knitting time every night because it's so much fun watching this pattern emerge in this beautiful yarn. Darn it. I just remembered I have to give it away once I'm done with it. Boo.

And, if you're in the mood for some jaw dropping knitting, check out this site: Bug Knits
It's enough to make my brain, eyes, and hands hurt - she knits to-scale garments using thread and wires the thickness of fishing line! Oww! Here's the ones I think are craziest: The Aran Series. Can you imagine CABLING with fishing line?? My head hurts.

Oh! And last night I had a dream that I was spinning! With a drop spindle and amazing golden fleece. And no, I haven't been watching Hercules lately. But I was spinning, and I was really good at it (unlike in real life) and then I ran out of wool and the people around me said I couldn't have any more because they had given me enough to begin with. Silly fiber dreams :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Airplane Knitting and Suspicion

It's that time of year again - the time when I start planning airplane and vacation projects and setting aside some current projects for when I get back. My Central Park Hoodie is still MIA - I haven't had the time to stop in at my lys and ask someone my sleeve cap question. If I could just finish the sleeves then I'd be so much closer to being done! Oh well, another job to put on my "When I'm Unemployed" list. (Which, for the record, is in two weeks. I'm so excited to be between jobs!)

As for the airplane knitting, I'm planning on starting a lacy scarf, but I have no idea what my vacation knitting will be. Assuming the stars align, I'll be done with my shrug in time to wear it on my trip home *crossing fingers* so I won't have that to work on. I'll have to find something small and portable to bring on the plane....hopefully something I won't need my Denise's for, since the last time I brought them on the airplane they aroused the suspicions of the lady going through my bag.

A reenactment:

She pulled out the case and said (after telling me our conversation was being recorded!), "Can you explain what these are?"

"They're knitting needles. You see," I opened the case and pointed out the various components to her, "it comes with various needle sizes and cords and you can connect different lengths of cord to get different sizes...."

That was when I got The Blank Look. But at least she knew I wasn't a terrorist, so I guess it ended well :)

In other news, I'm a bad blogger. I update my livejournal at least four or five times a week, but this poor thing languishes. I think it's probably because blogs (to me) don't have the same sense of community that a site like livejournal does. And I just took a three week hiatus from knitting *gasp* to write a spec screenplay. Which I did - go me! I'm proud not only because I wrote one, but also because I wrote one within the intense time constraints. So I may not be a phenomenal writer, but I can work under a deadline!