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!