Thursday, December 31, 2009

FO: Five Christmas presents

I was knitting like made in December to finish gifts, and haven't posted any of them, so here's a quick update. Most of the pictures aren't great, so bear with me.
Here are Knucks made for my niece Sophia, with Eco Alpaca that we skeined out and dyed to get stripes. A quick hat for myself, the Side Slip Cloche from Boutique Knits made with the free sample of Berocco Vintage we got at the Sock Summit Ravelry party!
The Sock Monkeys from the Blue Moon Fiber Arts Funky Sock Monkey kit that I got at the booth at OFFF.
Knucks made for my nephew Jamie, also Eco Alpaca dyed to his color choice.
And a lace scarf from the Debbie Bliss Pure Silk book made from Royal Bamboo for my sister.

And I just finished the Laminaria today, but it is still blocking, so I will show you the last project of 2009 when it is dry and photographed!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

My Sporran

I received my package yesterday from my spoiler in the Voyager Swap I am participating in. Neila put together an awesome sporran for me, beginning with some stitch markers with thistles on the beads. Here we have a group shot, some Whiskey Fudge (which doesn't have any chocolate in it to my surprise, but it does have a good strong whiskey flavor!), a cute patterned tin of tea which smells wonderful, a teapot cozy in a gorgeous yarn, a tea measuring scoop, and a pattern and yarn from Patternworks for a cowl/hood project.
And this gorgeous Chinese porcelain teacup with a lid and a built in strainer. I love all of my gifts, but this one the most!
And last but certainly not least, some authentic Scottish treats, ginger border biscuits and caramel chocolate wafer bars, both actually made in Scotland. How fun is that.
And here is my teapot wearing its cozy. I explained to my husband that a teapot is one thing which actually needs a cozy to keep the tea hot longer.
I love my package Neila, THANK YOU!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Purple and Green Handspun

I finished spinning the purple and green stuff that I dyed at Amy's party. It looks better than I expected it to. I think these colors will make something cute for my daughter. I have about 300 yds of it, about worsted weight. It is softer in the yarn than it seemed in the roving. I still don't know what kind of wool it is, but it doesn't matter too much.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

FO: Dane Shawl

I finished another alpaca shawlette last week, so I thought I'd better get it on the blog! I really love these little shawls for so many reasons; they are quick, fun because of the lace, a little bit fancier than a scarf (in my opinion), surprisingly warm, I can wear it instead of a hoodie on a cool day. If you haven't got at least 5 or ten of these, get busy, there's no excuse, there are so many free ones available. This one took just over two skeins of Frog Tree alpaca sportweight. The pattern is a free one from Jane Tanner called the Dane Shawl. I did have a bit of a hard time with this one because of all the purling involved, she has altered the original oriel lace pattern from the Barbara Walker book to improve the appearance of the wrong side. (All pictures here are of the right side.) I don't think the wrong side looks that great either way, but my yarn is kind of fuzzy, so maybe in a smoother yarn it would matter more.
I do love the way she increased the row before the bind off so there isn't a problem with tightness in the bind off, she also did a neat method of binding off, but I don't know the name of it, so you'll have to look for yourself.
I used a size six needle, and did not alter the pattern in any way.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Starship Scarf

A few months back I developed a fascination for some of the art yarn that my friend Bohoknitterchic (ety shop here) was making, and at the same time, began noticing that my spinning was becoming a little too uniform, and somewhat boring. So I looked around etsy and found a neat little shop called Moa HandKnits Fiber Shop. I purchased this textured batt from her called Starship. It says it only contains kid mohair, but there is also a little bit of what looks like silk noils (according to Britney). Little puffs of orange stuff. I had a little trouble spinning it at first, I was still being a bit OCD about my spinning, and was trying to spin it very fine. I asked Britney about it, and she suggested letting it be a big larger diameter, and sort of letting the fiber control the spinning a little bit. So I relaxed a bit, and stopped trying to turn my textured batt into a perfect, smooth yarn, and came out with this.
I still wasn't too sure about it, but my Ravelry knit night friend assured me that it was really neat, and so I took some pictures and got ready to put it in my etsy shop. Then I couldn't figure out how to describe it, the wpi was quite variable throughout the skein, and I just didn't know if it was good enough to sell. I finally decided a couple of weeks ago to knit it into a scarf.
I knit a simple squishy ribbed scarf from it with a flare at each end, and it is very pretty after all, and amazingly soft. I love the contrast between its rough appearance and soft feel. I can easily wear it around my neck without itchiness.
So I put it in my etsy shop after all!
It was somewhat difficult to photograph, so I look very pale in the photo, but the scarf is accurately depicted.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Amy's Hand-Painting Party

We had a wonderful dyeing party at Amy's house in Monmouth Saturday. The weather was gorgeous, which was surprising after a day of rain on Friday, so we were able to take over the back yard as well as the house. Here is Donna, who I have to call Queen of the Dye pot. She taught herself most of what she knows, and we all benefited from her help. She also brought the camp stove, a bazillion acid dye colors, and a bunch of other things we were grateful to use. Stephanie brought something like 6000 (yes, really) yards of very fine cotton yard which she dyed with a tie-dye kit. She got some great colors out of it, nothing neon, which was what I would have expected from a tie-dye kit!
Anne and Amanda watching Amanda inject dye into her merino, it came out a really lovely amber color.
Jocelyn, well I can't recall exactly what she was doing here. Possibly squeezing excess liquid out of her sausage. So many off-color jokes available here, but I will refrain.
Laia, who has resolved not to mix beer and dye and yarn in the future. (I don't know why, it was kind of fun to watch.)
My roving, which came out more Jello colored than I intended, but I do have a 5 year old who can wear stuff like this.
Amanda and Donna trying to get the merino out of the dye pot.
I think I can safely say that we all had a great time!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

FO:Cupcake hat

Here is the yarn I spun from some BFL locks I purchased at Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival a couple of weeks ago. I opened them up a bit with a hair pick and tried to leave some curls sticking out a bit. There was quite a lot of dirt in them which got all over me whenever I was working on it. I also washed it in 3 sinks of water after that, and there were still some small bits of stuff in it, but it was so pretty I wanted to knit something with it.I spent the better part of this week trying to figure out what I could make with it, and after a bit of trial and error I decided to make the top of a hat with it.
I wrote all the details on the Ravelry page, and don't feel like rewriting them here, so I'll just show you the result. A hat which to me resembles a cupcake. Unfortunately I am a bit too old to look cute in a cupcake hat, but I still like it because I love the yarn.

I knit the bottom in Ultra Alpaca that I had leftover, and finished it off with an I-cord bind-off.

Monday, October 5, 2009

FO's: One Day Beret and Bunny Ears Hat

I have been slow on the knitting of my sweaters lately because I was distracted by a couple of side projects. I found this funny yarn at my LYS in the free bin, Esslinger Wolle Geisha, and fell in love with it despite its rather low natural fiber content (85% acrylic, 15% mohair.) For some reason I love this color too. The photos aren't showing it very accurately I am afraid. I decided to knit Kirsten Kapur's One Day Beret. Even with my enlargments, it still isn't quite as floppy as I thought it would be, and the edge isn't as defined. Part of the problem is the yarn, I think you need to be knitting a pretty tight gauge so the fabric is more stiff, and I wasn't. I also didn't block this because I thought it pointless to block a mostly acrylic yarn, but if that isn't true, please let me know!
I knit a bunny ears hat for my friend Dana who wants to photograph newborns in it. I made this one out of Peter Pan Double Knit yarn (by Wendy.) Again a nylon/acrylic blend so as to be sure it won't itch the baby. Since it is to be used first with a boy I used i-cord ties instead of ribbon. They do need the ties for the ears to look right.
Next on the schedule is a bear ears hat.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

FO: Tuxedo Tank

I wanted to make at least one truly summery project this summer, so I chose this one, the Sleeveless Tuxedo Shirt, by Theresa Schabes, Interweave Knits, Summer 2008. I decided to make it with Elizabeth Lavold Hempathy, which is a lovely yarn, and this is a beautiful green color, but difficult to photograph accurately. Even with a bit of color adjustment it isn't quite as irresistible a color as it is in person. Having run into trouble knitting with plant fiber yarn before (see Molly Ringwald vest for some of the gory details if you wish,) I was very careful to knit and wash a gauge swatch for this, and then to account for the way the yarn changes. As expected the swatch expanded horizontally, and shrunk vertically, and this yarn was just not going to give me the gauge the pattern demanded, so I ended up knitting the smallest size with regard to stitch counts, and my size (39) with regard to vertical directions, plus an adjustment for the way it was going to change when I washed it.
And in the end, it was worth it, the shirt is exactly the right size, the only problems remaining are the tendency of the buttons to come undone with hardly any provocation, a problem I intend to remedy by sewing them closed, and the way the beautiful drapey linen-like fabric hugs my extra um, well, curves...I am undecided about whether to give it to someone whose figure can stand up to the fabric, or to keep it and hope that faithful daily swimming changes my figure enough to wear it well.
It is really bloody cute, I love the crochet ruffles and the lace panels in front. I learned a lot of cool tricks with this sweater too. For example, to weave ends in on a reverse stockinette stitch garment, the trick is to go horizontally, so that if they peek through, they just look like another of the little horizontal edges of the stitches. I learned how to p2tog tbl..not something to do for fun, but fascinating the way it looks like a k2tog on the other side of the fabric. If you don't like seaming and finishing, this is not the project for you. I imagine you could knit in the round for the body, but there are two rows of sc around the bottom, and rows around the armholes and neck. It took several hours of finishing to actually finish.
All in all I call it a success, a Ravelry happy face. The project bears no responsibility for my figure flaws after all.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Save the Knittn' Kitten

Just to let you know, there is a cool craft thrift shop in Portland called Knittn' Kitten that Leethal is on a campaign to all about it on her blog. I haven't even been there, but it sounds pretty awesome.

Monday, August 31, 2009

FO: Just Enough Ruffles

I have finished another wintry project in August, and I still can't explain exactly why, except that it was more fun than the miles of stockinette the tank top requires. I bought this lovely LSS (Luscious Single Silk) yarn by Blue Moon Fiber Arts at the booth at Black Sheep Gathering. It cost about 30$, but there is 500 yards in the skein, and it was so soft, I finally went for it.It is a 50:50 Merino Silk single ply yarn, and I picked the colorway Beached.
I had a hard time deciding what to make with it, since I wanted to use it all, and 500 yards of a worsted weight yarn is somehow an awkward amount. While browsing through Ravelry's pattern suggestion list, I saw this scarf, and since it was already in my queue, I decided upon Laura Chau's Just Enough Ruffles scarf pattern.
Having just finished the Milkweed Shawl, I am presently quite enamored of Laura Chau, so I decided I would make something else with the rest of the yarn and cast on for this. I cast on 240 stitches to make up for the gauge difference, and after a few weeks I had this lovely scarf.
The yarn feels so lovely against my neck that I am tempted to wear it even now in the summer.

I unfortunately was wearing a badly clashing shirt when I seized the opportunity of getting photos taken this morning. I thought it wouldn't matter much, but the eyes really cannot focus well on the variegated scarf against the red checked shirt. It is really unfortunate, since for once we managed to get some photos with a fairly normal expression on my face. And only once did David say "Your face looks funny." To which I replied, "It would be more polite and accurate to say, "You have a funny expression on your face" I swear he sometimes takes the stereotype of the socially inept physicist to new heights!
Pattern: Just Enough Ruffles by Laura Chau
Modifications: Cast on 240 stitches rather than 200
Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Luscious Single Silk in Beached

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

FO: Shetland Triangle

I finally made the ever popular Shetland Triangle Shawl by Evelyn Clark from the Wrap Style book. I used the laceweight alpaca that I mentioned in the previous post. This will be a Christmas present for my MIL, Penny, who was with me when I bought the fiber, and who hurt her elbow trying to use the hand carders to process it. We managed about half of what we bought with the hand carders, and that is the slightly lumpy green stuff that I also showed you previously.
The rest of it I sent off to Fantasy Fibers to be carded into a thin roving, which spun up into this fuzzy 2-ply yarn. I used a size four needle instead of the 8's called for in the pattern because I used laceweight instead of fingering weight, and I managed an extra five repeats of the body pattern before beginning the edging. I did have to omit two rows of the edging because I ran low on yarn, so possibly should have only done 4 extra repeats, but I wanted to use up as much of the yarn as I could and I wanted the shawl to be as large as possible.
I had some trouble getting good photographs, for some reason the color is difficult and my camera is over exposing things, so they all have to be edited to increase the contrast. I am not sure if there is something on my camera I could change to alleviate this or not.
I had fun with Alexa, she looks adorable in it. Of course I think she is adorable anyway, so it doesn't have a lot to do with the shawl!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sock Summit: The people

If you were there, you know how amazing, huge, and overwhelming it was. I know everyone will blog their experiences there, so if you couldn't go, you can at least see what it was like a little bit. I have so much I wanted to say, and I know I will forget most of it, but I thought I would start with a post about the people. Here I am with Beth (littledog on Ravelry) at the Ravelry party. The party was fantastic, if you got there early you got a cool goody bag, and I was there right at 7:00. (I was just a little bit excited to meet Jess and Casey and Mary Heather. And now there is a fourth Ravelry employee, whose name I have unforgivably forgotten.) Anyway, Beth was kind enough to put me up for the night in her guest room..which is awesome because it is also her yarn and fiber storage area, so I got to sleep next to the wool all night. Mmmm.. We only took one small detour trying to get to the convention center the next morning! This is a person whose name I again forgot, but who had the coolest knitted hood, in one of my current favorite colors no less. She lives in Portland I think, so if you know her name, please tell me!
And I got to meet Christi! Christi was one of my first Ravelry "friends." I found her through that friend finder thing that recommends friends for you based on how many patterns you have in common. I have been reading her blog ever since, and she made me a cool pattern row counter, which some of you may have seen, and which got me though the ginormous aran sweater project safely. I was so thrilled to finally meet her, since she came all the way from Charlotte NC for Sock Summit!
And of course I was thrilled to see Stephenie Pearl-McPhee in person for the first time. Who doesn't read her blog! Unfortunately I was exhausted, and celebrity sticken, and all I said was, "I'm Brandy" and "do you mind a photo?" and she didn't hear my shy little voice, and inscribed my book "To Randy", but hey, maybe I'll have another chance sometime, and can get up the guts to say something like "Thanks for your blog, which I read every entry of, and for your books, which I love, and which make me feel understood and normal, despite being a person obsessed with yarn and fiber." But probably I will just say "Hi, my name is Brandy, but you can call me Randy if you want."
And these are the folks I sat with during the World Record attempt! The lady right next to me came all the way from St. Paul Minnesota, and was very kind and friendly, so we had a good time knitting together. BTW, I knit a swatch with the handspun that April gave me, so her yarn participated in the big event!
Here is a picture of the room full of people knitting on straight needles. The lady who is walking, and therefore blurry, was wearing a beautiful shawl, which I am pretty sure is knit from Kauni. Gorgeous.

I also got to meet Carrie, just briefly in the hallway. I love to read her blog, and knew she would be there, and she was wearing her beautiful February Lady Sweater. Seeing some of the knits that I have seen in photographs was almost as fun as meeting the people!