Thursday, January 31, 2008

Another Walk Down the Path of 80s Knitting Lessons

I posted last time about the nice sweater I made in the 80s that still works and has held up well to the scrutiny of time. Becca commented that she hopes hers old up in the future (no problem--she's doing way better than I did at her age and knitting stage). But, now I have to take you down yet another trip through my knitting memories, so you can see some of my more "interesting" knitting efforts and remember that most of my projects were learning experiences more than fashion projects!

The first sweater we see here was knit in my top-down sweater phase, after buying Knitting from the Top Down and becoming boggled at the possibilities. I thought, "Hey SAK (as I called myself at the time), why not knit a short-sleeved version of the top-down sweater, now that you know the formula?" And then another of my strong instincts kicked in--that endless drive to use up all my stash and any leftover yarn that happened to be lying around. People sure offered me a lot of yarn remnants. And I was a poor grad student. So I took them. Thus, I made the sweater here, which features cotton, acrylic, wool, novelty yarn, and fuzzy stuff. And for "variety" I even put some eyelets in that purple band. Perhaps this is a tad too varied? I think so. It also weighs about 4 pounds. I also wonder what compelled me to put the most itchy, hairy yarn around the edges, where it would bug me the most? I think I was under the impression that this mohair-style acrylic was "soft." Anyway, I ended up with a sweater that fit great, but was appropriate for neither winter, spring, summer nor fall. A learning experience.

Next we see something rather attractive. It's a traditionally knit Fair Isle-style sweater, inspired by my many, many 80s books on traditional patterns. It has those really cool ribbings with the color changes in them, and I even used genuine steeks at the armholes. Interesting, muted colors, aren't they? So, what is wrong with this sweater? Well, it is made of worsted weight wool. This wool, as far as I can tell, was not intended for garments. I think it was remnants from rugs or something. I got it on cones at a place called the "Yarn Barn" that used to be in Columbus, Ohio. I bought many cones for like a dollar each during my semi-annual visits there to visit our friend, Judy, who'd moved there. (She was a great cook, so we drove 5 hours to eat Thanksgiving with her for many years when I was in grad school--she was my gay office-mate Steve's ex girlfriend. Complicated it was.) She'd work the Friday after Thanksgiving, so Steve and my boyfriend and I would go to the yarn place and find "bargains" while she was at work, or go look at river confluences or Amish people in the countryside (we had a minor hobby of looking at Amish people and eating their baked goods--lots near U of I, too).

So, the issue with this sweater is that it's really nice looking, but is only appropriate for wearing outdoors while hiking or skiing in the snow. Too warm for indoors, even in Illinois. As you might predict, it has not been worn even once since I moved to Texas. But, I will never get rid of it. Too many memories!

The next item we see is a vest, which is one of the few examples of early 90s knitting you will see here (I mostly quilted and needlepointed when the kids were infants). Thankfully, it has no long stories about my old friends attached to it. It's actually a very nice vest featuring my former nemesis, the popcorn. It is made out of a very soft wool that may have some mohair in it. Nice quality stuff. The lesson I learned here is that really, I can leave patterns alone. I don't always need to "improve" them. But no, I felt like the back of this one would be too boring in plain stockinette, so I insisted on putting a pattern on it. See it behind the neckline? Yep. It has nothing to do with the front. So, it's a somewhat schizophrenic vest. I actually do wear this one sometimes. It is not too short. Good ole 90s.

Lookee here now. This little item I remember making very well in the mid or early 80s. I got the yarn when I was visiting my parents during a summer in grad school, so it was before Mom died in 1984. The yarn came from that first LYS I ever went to, in Plantation, Florida. The owner had made up this pattern, and I was so excited by the strips of gen-u-ine angora that I had to make it. Plus I thought maybe I could even wear it in Florida! What I learned here was that mitered squares are fun (way ahead of the trend on that one, wasn't I?) and that angora itches me like crazy. It reinforced the lesson from the previous outfit, too. Why did I insist on adding that little extra burst of angora, right near my face, so it could really, REALLY irritate me? I just wanted to knit with that softness a wee bit more, that's all. Another lesson learned, and learned well, was that synthetic fabrics do not breathe. That novelty yarn was HOT. And so was the really icky stuff I used on the ribbing. Ick. I did try to wear this one, but it itched, even with an undershirt under it. Oh well. It was a fun learning experience to make it.

And finally, today's parade of ancient knits ends on a happier note. This vest is made from a cotton/acrylic novelty yarn that was quite enjoyable to use. This one was another early 90s model, and I got the yarn from my friend's shop in Champaign. I think I used my last "Hand Knit by Sue Ann" label on it, too. I like this one. And I wear it a couple of times a year. At least I learned that neutral colors hold up better than ugly pastels (this is gray, even though it looks sort of blue). And I learned I really like V-necks. I have quite a collection of V-necks with cable panels, don't I?

So, there are some more lessons I learned through my knitting history. Too bad some of the nicer things I made can't be photographed (because I gave them away). I hope you learn from my experiences and go on to make your own knitting history! Show me some of YOUR past products--don't be shy!

PS: spell check isn't working on Blogger today, but I'll fix typos later. Must go rescue my Amish friendship bread. I have Amish on the brain today.

A Lasting Pattern

Wool Cable Sweater
Originally uploaded by sunasak
Here's a sweater I made in the 1980s at some point. It's still very wearable, since it is one of the first wool sweaters I ever made. Germantown Wool was the best stuff you could get back then. This sweater is maroon heather, and the pattern has cables and a lace pattern between each cable. It's also repeated on the sleeves. it's a little short, like all my 80s models, but still works fine.

Why does this blast from the past get its own post? Because it has a story. I found the sweater in my closet this week while looking for old items to photograph for Ravelry. I realized it's still in good shape and tried it on for Lee.

Then, yesterday I spent some time at the LYS (escaping barking dogs). I was working on the alpaca sweater when two women came in and spent a lot of time looking at patterns and yarn. I thought to myself, "Hmm, looks like that lady made her sweater." Then I looked more closely. It was my maroon sweater, only in dark green. Sure enough, it's the same exact sweater. She said hers was at least 20 years old, from Germantown wool. She remembered that the pattern book had a smocked sweater in it, too. I bet I still have it, if I can find it in the craft closet. That inspires me to try to clean that out...some time. Funny enough, she also had recently rediscovered her sweater and started wearing it again! What a coincidence!

It just shows you that classic patterns made from good yarn can have long lives. And it's nice to think that some of our current projects, which we work so hard on, won't look silly in a couple of decades.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

This Woman Is Brilliant

If you don't usually read the blog Forward Motion, by Becca, check out this post. She did a smart thing! I wish I had thought of it! She got some Noro sock yarn, which, like many things Noro, had a bunch of knots in it. I do so wish that man would put some of his wonderful colors on less "rustic" base yarn. Now, I actually love the yarns for many purposes, but something soft would be nice, and I am pretty sure folks in Japan are aware that people don't like knots in their socks, and in fact prefer SOFT sock yarn. They're pretty sophisticated knitters over there!

I digressed. I meant to tell you what Becca did with her knotty Noro. She made socks in the pattern that the Brooklyn Tweed dude did in that striped scarf--two rows of one shade, then two rows of another shade. They look great (as you saw when you obediently clicked the link in the first paragraph, right?). Now, of course, I am just dying to get a job so I can get two colors of Noro sock yarn and try that. Um, I am dying to get a job for many other reasons as well, I assure you. Only so many weeks of sitting in the coffee shop watching the giganto American flag at the gas station across the street and this life of leisure will grow stale. Oh well, I'm out of the house, anyway.

Jody came by last night and we ate dinner (lack of job means more time to try new recipes, too) and discussed knitting stuff. Her shawl out of handspun green yarn is coming out so nice--I hope she posts pictures on her blog (will link if she does). I enjoyed looking at her book of Scandinavian shawls very much. Another reason to move to Iceland. I could learn to read the book. So many fun and fascinating vowels and consonants in that language!

I moved forward on the back of the Inka pullover, and it looks fine. I also started to try out a sample sock yarn I got to evaluate. I dragged out my two old size 0 Addi circulars that I used to use on socks. Those poor dears. I believe I wore off the coating. But they worked well enough to say that the yarn is pretty nice.

Today I think I will hang out at the knitting store. I've been avoiding it mostly the past few weeks, due to my attitude toward the world not being the best, and my need to be near my email, but it looks like no interviews are popping up this week, so I'll risk it. Free wi-fi would be SUCH a nice addition to that shop.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Something to Show for My Time!

Inka Pullover Front
Originally uploaded by sunasak
I guess there are good aspects to so much time on my hands...I sure do move along in knitting. Here's the completed front to the Inka pullover, in an obviously unblocked state. The neck is really more of a V than it appears here--I didn't arrange it as well as I thought I had.

There have been surprisingly few issues with this pattern, even with the instructions being very compactly presented on one page and rather run together. The only problem I had was when working on the necks (both sides at once), I got interrupted halfway through to sing a song in church, then picked up and went the wrong way. It took a bit of thinking to get back on track and going in the right direction! The sweater is a wee bit wider than gauge, but not enough to complain about. It's only one or two cm. At the rate I am expanding, that's probably a good thing. Sigh. I should be jogging, not knitting, while waiting for the phone to ring.

I said I'd teach knitting at the elementary school again this year. Hope that works out better this time. Or am I a martyr? I think I will start them with pre-cast on knitting.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Such a Sweet Thing

Lookie! One of my must-read blogging friends, Becca, gave me this award. She said she was focusing on bloggers that not everyone reads (of course, we'd ALL give awards to Yarn Harlot or my heroine WendyKnits, but they are amply awarded already).

The funny thing is, I had read someone else's nominees for this one and thought, you know, that's a nice one, "you make my day," because that's what a lot of the blogs I read do for me. They just make me happy, knowing that there are people like me out there sharing their extraordinary insights into their normal, everyday lives. It's so much fun for me to see all the fascinating things that go on within the range of "normal everyday living," too.

I don't blog for fame or publicity for my great knitting patterns, because, well, I make patterns for me and am happy if anyone else wants them. And I don't need fame--I had enough of being a big fish in a small pond in my nonprofit organization career to know that the constant scrutiny is hard for an INFP. I like being more of a knitting friend--someone else going through the ups and downs of a life with a big focus on fiber, but not someone competing for readers or feeling compelled to write scintillating copy to entertain people.

Heh, I'm funny sometimes, educational sometimes, and simply documenting my life at other times. I hope some people enjoy it, but I don't expect to be everyone's must-read! (This is a really good thing for me--I finally am growing out of wanting to be a rock star!)

So, knowing that there are people like Becca out there who enjoy what I write makes me feel good--it's nice to be a companion to a cup of coffee/tea/healthy beverage to some reader friends (some I know and some I don't), because bloggers give me so much pleasure. They remind me the world is larger than the headlines, and that there are still kind, generous, funny and thoughtful people out there all over the world. We all need reminders of that nowadays.

OK, the award came with strings, as they all do, hee hee. Here's what they say about the ten other blogs I am supposed to recommend:

"So here's the deal, inspiration and make you feel happy about blogland. Let them know by posting a comment on their blog so they can pass it on. Beware you may get the award several times."

Getting it once was fine with me. I read a lot of blogs, ranging from "famous" people to personal friends. I'm going to concentrate on blogging and knitting friends to whom I turn daily, eagerly hoping they posted something, but who aren't the "famous experts"--just fellow human beings trying to figure life out. These are NOT all of my favorites--if I comment on your blog, you are one of my favorites!! And some of my favorites haven't been updating often, so I didn't include them.

OK, you people are tagged. Folks, check them out if you want to read some different views:

Bird Salad: Robin in New Jersey, from my old life working with a nonprofit organization, doesn't post a lot, but when she does, it can be brilliant. Read about her thoughts on life and philosophy. She can get you thinking.

Hand in Hand with Sam:
a Canadian friend of mine from my old life working with a nonprofit organization, who's a wonderful doula and childbirth educator, and a mom of some great kids. Not a knitting blog, but a real taste of authentic mothering.

The Hermitage: Well, he doesn't knit, but he lives with a knitter. This is my fiance's blog. He recently wrote a sweet post about the sweater I just made him, so there is knitting content.

Knit Stuffs:
Another friend from my previous life, who lives in in Florida, is a good knitter and also an enthusiastic SCA member. Her blog's relatively new, so not a lot of readers yet. Check it out!

Liz's Blah Blah Blog: I've known her online since my children were babies, longer than anyone else here,and she's another one I also know "IRL". She has some really interesting political commentary and is not shy about sharing her viewpoint. Whether you agree or not, this Illinois blogger gets you thinking.

Rhonda's Knitting: She used to live near me, but now she doesn't. But I love reading about her lovely knitting projects and her yarn purchases in the Great Northwest. She was also the first knitting podcaster I ever listened to!

Skyline Chilly: Emily works at Lorna's Laces. Inside scoop! Also lots of fun information about being young and living in Chicagoland, a life I wish I'd had.

So Love Is Hard and Love Is Tough: NYJLM is another old-life friend with whom I've reconnected in blogland. She is a wonderfully introspective writer--very honest and open about her issues, and equally generous in sharing the good parts of her life. She is also doing the 365 photos a year thing, and her images of Florida are lovely.

So the Thing Is... currently the blog of Barb, a wonderful humor writer who lives with her children and pets in a very clean home near me, soon to be the blog of Barb, who lives in New York. Great stuff on parenting and some knitting, too!

The Wonderful World of Stephanie: another friend of mine with whom I used to work, who does knit, but I read her blog for the writing. You will usually find her near Washington, DC. Right now she's on a trip to Italy. It's like I am THERE reading her travelogue!

So Alpaca-y!

I promised a photo of the Inka Color yarn and the pullover I am making. Here's a close-up of the eyelet border on the bottom of the sweater. The little scallops will block flat, I am hoping/assuming. I like the way this looks, with the garter stitch spaces in between the scallops. The center garter stitch section becomes the center of the large and lovely cable panel in the middle of the sweater. It's very graceful--all stockinette and subtle. I will take a picture of it once I am a bit further along in it, though my Flickr pages do have a wider view of how far along I am now, if you want to look.

I am enjoying this yarn. It is more alpaca than wool, which makes it feel really good, but I think there's enough wool that it won't be too droopy. The edging being eyelet, though, means that if it's drapey, that will be a good thing. The yarn looks very orange in the photo, but there is some red in it that adds depth. So if you run into any Austermann Inka Color yarn, snap it up. Of course, I got it at, so it may not be easy to find any more.

And just for completion's sake, here's a picture of the buttons we selected and put on Maurizio. They are just inexpensive Hobby Lobby buttons, but they were such an ideal size and color--they are medium brown with a bluish sheen--just perfect. Lee looks so sweet and warm in it. Which is good. It's chilly in parts of our house.

Off to make another post, on a topic that cheered me up!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Felted Sunny Lucy Bag

Felted Sunny Lucy Bag
Originally uploaded by sunasak
Look, I finished it! I am actually very pleased with how this project came out. I think the Lucy Bag is a great project, and fun for new and experienced knitter alike. It sure looked different before going through the washing machine (see how big it was compared to Beccano).

I am pleased with the results from the front loading machine. This was two passes on hot and the "extra dirty" setting. The bag was enclosed in a pillow case, and it was in there with a pair of jeans. It's drying in the picture. The only thing that wasn't perfect was that the long strap didn't come out as long as I hoped. I hope Barbara, who is to receive it, doesn't mind. She said it looked great in the picture!

I moved on to start a me project, the Austermann Inka Pullover pattern that came with my rather orange Inka Color yarn I got from Elann. It is such a lovely pattern. Too bad Elann doesn't have it any more so I can't find a picture. I'll have a picture of the lovely and easy eyelet pattern on the bottom for you tomorrow.

Still looking for work. I have another interview at the place I really liked tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

Monday, January 21, 2008

It's a Sunny Lucy Bag

Sunny Lucy Bag Bottom
Originally uploaded by sunasak

I knitted on this project until my fingers were sore yesterday, so I am delaying going up to work on it more by blogging about it. The picture shows the bottom of this bag, which is the Lucy Bag pattern (can be purchased many places on Ye Olde Internet). I made it a bit bigger than the pattern called for, mostly so I'd use all my colors on the bottom, plus the recipient wanted a slightly larger bag.

The yarn is mostly remnants of Cascade 220 Wool from other projects, but the variegated yarn is some other undyed wool that I Kool Aid dyed last year in the big dyeing experiment. I already felted it in another project (a bag that just needs to have its handle attached), so I know it will work fine. The comment I have received most on this project is, "Individually, these are pretty yucky colors, but they look great together." I do think it will felt up nicely.

I got 80 rows into the long strap last night, but stopped when the last football game ended, with hand cramps. I don't want to make the straps much longer than the pattern calls for, because I had a bad experience with a strap lengthening and getting all icky last time I tried to make this bag much bigger than the pattern called for. I know the recipient wanted a slightly longer strap, because she is plus sized, but I don't want to go too far. I'll just add a few rows.

It took me three tries to cogitate the right spacing for the straps since the bag is wider than the original. I'm not good at ciphering, I guess. But it should be good now.

When I stopped knitting, I switched to reading and finished the highly amusing Anticraft book. I kept reading parts of it aloud to Lee--it is so funny. I don't think I'd really make anything in it, but I sure love the attitude and find I sure have a lot in common with the authors. I always enjoyed their website, so was thrilled when the book came out. It is really weird to come across other people with your own world view when you have a rather nonstandard world view.

Well my parakeet is telling me to PLEASE replenish the food dish, so I'll go do so, then sit by the phone and apply for jobs for a while, then finish this project so I can see if it will felt in the front-loader.

PS: I forgot to say we now have 6 buttons on Lee's sweater. Anyone need 4 buttons? We had to buy ten. They really look good. I'll take a picture!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Honest, He's Thrilled

Maurizio Cardigan
Originally uploaded by sunasak
Yeah, Lee looks like he wishes he were anywhere but where he is, but remember, he has pneumonia. He is actually thrilled with this cardigan, and that makes ME happy. Look, it fits perfectly! Once we get buttons, it will button just right, too. He'd been worried that the sleeves were too short, but I knew the shape was such that it would be fine. I know a lot of people wouldn't have made it in two colors, but I have enough trouble knitting tons of stockinette...I needed something to interest me.

Lee likes the weight of the cardigan--it's substantial, and the feel of the alpaca and wool. There are more photos on Flickr, including one that shows how well the back looks.

Something Else!

And look, I also finished the Tweedy Scarf I was working on, so here's a picture of it. I love how it feels and looks. Single-ply yarn looks really good in K1P1 rib. Mille Colori is such a fun self-striping yarn, too. Look at how it never repeats exactly. This scarf is about 70 inches long, so it hangs fairly far, even when wrapped around my neck. This is really a fun project for a fairly new knitter to try. Thanks to the Brooklyn Tweed blog for the inspiration!

I've got some of the bottom of the new Lucy Bag done, and I'll work on that today.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Maurizio Blocking

Maurizio Cardigan Blocking
Originally uploaded by sunasak
It's a good thing I had a day at home with nothing on the agenda but cleaning and laundry, so I could tediously finish sewing all the seams on this cardigan. I think it came out pretty good, and I can't wait for Lee to try on the finished product.

The sleeves were a royal pain. I am not fond of how they did them--it was a very long, shallow cap that was very hard to match and seam, and the bottom of the sleeve had an awkward jog in it that did not want to ease in politely. So don't be too harsh on my seaming technique. What you can't see are very nice side and sleeve seams, hee hee.

I didn't do a full block on this, but instead just steamed the parts that needed straightening. Mostly that was the neckband, which still wanted to curl under, thanks to all the stockinette. One of the button bands wants to flop, too. I find that really interesting, since they are exactly the same. Same yarn, needles, and number of stitches. I think the pockets came out pretty well, though not perfect. Good, I won't get a swelled head.

I put the cardigan on when it had just one sleeve, and it was very nice and cozy. Ultra Alpaca feels really good, though I must say there are more guard hairs in it than I expected to see. They blend well with pug hair, though, so they have their good points. And it is probably what keeps the yarn in the mid-range of price rather than the high range.

I think I am next going to make the Elann Austermann Inca pullover next, in that orange Inka Alpaca I got recently. It is a really lovely pullover, and I might get it done in time to wear a couple of times this year. I guess I am in an alpaca phase.

However, I have a quick project to do first. One of my oldest email friends from my old nonprofit job asked me to make her a felted bag, and she liked the Lucy Bag when she looked over my projects. Since that only takes a few days and since I have a LOT of Cascade 220 in oranges and yellows, I said I'd do that for her, especially since she will exchange the bag for some hand-made soaps.

Before THAT, I will finish my striped scarf. It's REALLY cold outside, so I can wear it over the next few days. So, off I go watching the bead show on public TV and finishing the striped scarf! Ah, the life of the home maker. If only I had more bon bons.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Maurizio Pieces Done!

A quick note to say that I have completed all the pieces of Maurizio and just have to sew it all together. I made pocket tops and sewed in the pockets yesterday, so at least that part is sewn.

Today I have a job interview and (I hope) a class at the yarn shop, followed by choir, so who knows how much sewing will happen today. But it looks like it'll be done tomorrow! ELAB is quite anxious to wear it!

And beware: I have more bad knitting projects to show off later, so get ready to laugh at Suna of the Past's decisions and execution. We all grow and improve!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Fun with 80s Bad Knitting

Before going into what the heck all these pictures are just let me gloat gleefully that I finished the second sleeve on Lee's Maurizio sweater last night! All that is left is pocket edging, button band and sewing up! So, there's a good chance I will have an FO photo by the end of the week. He is really pleased, too. That last sleeve zoomed along with me having so much time to knit these days.

Blasts from the Past

I'd been meaning to take pictures of some of the old items languishing in my closet and a day spent waiting for an important job interview tomorrow (yay) seemed like a good time. I wanted to upload some of my old duds to Ravelry, so here they are for you to enjoy, too. Consider these real encouragement to new knitters. I'll show you why each of these projects from my early knitting years were sad failures.

The lilac cabled sweater: This is probably the "newest" item in this collection, and I'd had high hopes for it. It's made in "fancy" yarn (i.e., not from a big box store) and using a pattern I purchased. It was going beautifully until, alas, I ran out of yarn before the collar was finished. Of course the place I got it from (in the town where my parents lived--the first LYS I ever went to) had no more lilac yarn, and I had to get some purple to finish it. Because the purple didn't look too good, I ended the collar early, so it is floppy, and you see the reverse side of the stockinette. Ugh. And being a 70s sweater, it is incredibly short. My belly button is at least two inches below the edge of the bottom. Remember, late-70s and 80s pants came up really high. In the end, I bet I never wore this more than once or twice. Too bad. The sleeves look great.

Next we see something in an incredibly unflattering shade of orange sherbet. It looked even worse with my natural hair color. It's made out of crochet cotton (Knit Cro Sheen?) and mostly is crocheted. You can't really see the patterning unless you click on the picture to see it enlarged, but it is actually pretty cute and would have looked great in a less awful color. It is the color of my high school bedroom, by the way. The sweater has knitted edges on the sleeves and bottom, but because it cotton, there are also drawstrings on the sleeves. Probably this one could be wearable today if it weren't so doggone short. I could wear another color top under it.

Now we have one that does not have me in it. That's because it was apparently skin tight when I made it, and my skin is bigger than it was when I was a teen/early 20s person. I do believe this is a teen model. What's interesting about this one, other than the awful colors (why did I make so many yellow things? It's what my grandmother had lots of left over from other projects, I think) is that I made it from a 1920s pattern given to me by my grandmother. When she found a bunch of old 20s-40s knitting patterns and gave them to me, it was probably the nicest thing she ever did for me! The reason the sweater ties in the back is that it is such an old pattern. I love the cable arrangement on the edges and the neck--I'd like to do that again. This one is in baby-weight acrylic, which of course I ran out of (the story of my past) so the sleeves are that weird multicolor stuff. Later, I got a job and was able to purchase my own yarn, honest. Note that, of course, this one is also incredibly short. Apparently 20s people also wore high waisted skirts.

Now, here is an item that I actually bought enough yarn for. I was in grad school and had at least a few discretionary dollars. And I loved this lilac acrylic with puffs in it. It was so much fun to knit with. So much fun that I didn't notice until I was halfway finished that the cable band down the front was off center. Did I frog this and start again? Nope. I finished it, and I even wore it quite a bit until the puffs began to pill horribly. I really, really did not like to start over again when I was young. I am glad that I got over that, and also glad that I learned to not buy yarn because I like the color in the ball, but to consider whether the color looks good on ME and would perhaps go with anything else I own.

Well, lookee here. Another happy yellow sweater. Yep, someone gave me more baby weight yellow acrylic yarn. And once again it was not enough for the project I wanted to make. In this case, though, I was happy with the results on this top-down raglan sweater. When I ran out of yellow at the end, I finished it in the same yarn in the light blue colorway, did the collar in blue, and finally used duplicate stitch to add motifs around the edges, so it honestly looked like I'd planned the sweater to look that way. I wore this one a lot until pants got lower and it became too short. Of course, being acrylic, it has quite a bit of pilling.

What I Learned

I learned a lot of lessons when making these items. Here are some lessons:

  • I wrapped my yarn the wrong way when I purled so to get nice stockinette, I untwisted my stitches. Now I only wrap the wrong way on purpose!
  • Yellow, peach and lilac are not flattering colors on me even if I like them in the abstract.
  • I cast on and off way too tightly. Many of these items were hard to get on. Glad I learned new ways to do this.
  • Acrylic yarn does not last well unless it's high quality stuff.
  • If you want to make something that lasts a long time, don't go in for trends or cheap materials.
  • When I make mistakes, I now erase them. Things I thought I could "live with" like that non-centered cable pattern, actually bugged the heck out of me.
  • Trusting my intuitions is important. Many of the things I don't like about these items are things I worried about when making them. I should have paid attention to my gut feelings.

I hope you enjoyed this tour of past projects. I am glad I kept at it and got better!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Wedding Shawl Choice

Wedding Shawl Choice
Originally uploaded by sunasak
If you've been reading for a while, you will remember there was a post at the top of the blog for a few months asking for suggestions for things to make for my wedding, which is supposed to be sometime this fall (a nice time for a Texas outdoor wedding). Well, yesterday I made the decision, and found the future yarn for the shawl, too.

I'd been waffling over a couple of things, but kept coming back to the idea of the "A Girl's Best Friend" shawl from Jade Sapphire. I wanted the pattern so badly that I asked the kind blogger who'd made the first copy I saw for her pattern, because I could not find it for sale anywhere online or locally. I had a vision in my head of it in a very pale gold color with clear beads lined in gold (the shawl has 1600+ beads in it).

Moving forward to yesterday, my friend Jody and I went driving around to various fiber enterprises north of where I live. She was getting lots of wool to spin and a carder. I just needed to get out of the house of illness and poverty, so I went along for the ride.

The first place we went to was the headquarters of Outback Fibers, which imports lovely wool and silk from Australia. The lady who owns it is a felter, and we saw some truly lovely and artistic felted items in her studio--if you like felting (not knitted items, but felting using wool or silk rovings or batts), take one of their workshops if you get a chance! The lady also had a LOT of fiber, so it was fun looking at the beautiful colors and textures.

Jody picked out a beautiful collection of colors to use in her spinning (her current obsession, though I hope she also gets back to the dyeing), and I was just looking at all the collections and bags of lovely things a person with money could buy, when I saw a sample in a packet of neutrals. It was a creamy white with occasional dabs of slightly creamier color. I said, "Oh, Jody, this looks like the yarn for the wedding shawl." She agreed, then I said I'd hoped for a slightly more gold tinge, and our hostess then pulled out a lovely light tan and we agreed that a bit of that would make the perfect color. Woo!

So, Jody got me some--lots of the cream, a little of the tan. I am sure the URL here shows the right cream in ghost gum, but not sure if the chamois is the right tan. Jody will tell us, no doubt.

So, I was all happy, and enjoyed the visit to the next place, which was Fire Ant Ranch. I enjoyed looking at and petting her horses, which include one extremely beautiful bay Trachner gelding and a more plain brown mustang mare with the most beautiful eyes I ever saw on a horse--I swear they were hazel. Plus a mule that was as old as Jody. Jody enjoyed learning how to card wool, and I did an admirable job NOT buying any of the Opal sock yarn conveniently displayed in the sale shed.

After all that fun we came home to the House of Sickness and entertained Lee while Jody spun up a sample of the wedding shawl yarn, or one idea for it. She is thinking of spinning one ply in just the cream, and one in cream with the tan in it. She showed me some of the yarns she had spun as samples and they were spectacular--one brown one there is enough for a shawl in. MMM. It has little flecks of sari silk in it, plus a wee bit of shine. Not enough to detract from the wool, just enough to enhance. She also had some black with red sari silk bits in it that was really cool. Her Etsy sources are marvelous!

In my own plain, drab, commercial yarn knitting news, I am over halfway through the second sleeve on Lee's cardigan. I'd probably get it finished if I didn't have choir rehearsal tonight. Also, today I hope to grab Mrs. Tina Taylor AKA ChemicalPink and go look at the Gauge Knits store, which is the last stop on my "new yarn shops of Austin I never was able to go to when I had a job" tour. I rarely get to see Tina because she works night shift, so this will be fun, I hope.

Friday, January 11, 2008

In Love with the Ultimate Gift

Another day, another no job action, and I got tired of knitting on the shawl (it's in a light section now), so was reading my email, when the Knitting Daily for the day came. As a good little email marketing sucker, I of course clicked on a link in the article about what men like about sweaters (really good discussion of survey results, too: men like plain dark sweaters--huh!).

The link took me to the sweater depicted in the illustration, which is called The Ultimate Gift. Click that. See its beauty. Give them a happy click-through and forward rate, go on. Now, is that NOT a lovely thing? Cables, cashmere, interesting shoulders. It would make even knitting something navy blue fun! I want it in Suna size.
What's that, Suna? You live in Texas? It's 62 degrees out on January 11? The sweater would roast you? Well, poo on you! I'll have you know I wear my silk cardigan top-down sweater when it gets cold inside or out, and it feels toasty (at times, roasty). Yeah, I've worn it three times this year! Well worth the cost of ten balls of Silk Garden and two of Cash Iroha (you do the math, bearing in mind I did get a discount).
So, even if it might be a wee tad bit warm, I printed out that pattern and will save it to drool over, and put it in my Ravelry queue, and if I ever finish the other clothing items I already have yarn for AND get a paying gig, I may well make a me-sized version (because no man in my family would wear a warm cabled pullover, even in a nice, dark color).

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Workin' on a Pattern

Today was the least active day since my job ended, no interviews, no calls, no nothing. But no, I didn't JUST do laundry all day. I also figured out what pattern I would use for the stash shawl class I am doing at the LYS, if anyone actually signs up for it. I knew what I wanted to do, but had to figure it out and work on a sample. It needed to be very easy, but different than a basic triangle.

So, I did a very simplified version of a neck-down Faroese-style shawl with shoulder shaping, one that you could use any yarn your heart desired on, in any stripey, solidey or whatever color combo. I am doing it in all the leftover mohair yarns from the shawls I have made in the past five years or so. I feel so virtuous in using up stash myself.

I'm doing it with every garter stitch ridge a different color, alternating two at a time. 5A, 5B, then bringing in a third color, 5B, 5C, then another 5C, 5D. There has to be a better way to describe this, but hey, I am out of work and my brain is on vacation. The way the colors change gradually is looking cool so far (I am four colors into it). All the colors I am using have purple or green in them, so they blend pretty well, too. What's also neat is that the shawl is striped on the front, and more tweedy on the "back." Both look OK.

So, I hope it makes for a fun class, and I hope that I can encourage some others to have fun with their stashes and make other combos. I like this shawl style, because it stays on a bit better than a plain triangle, but this stripped-down version is really easy to knit--just don't lose track of where the YOs are supposed to be and you are good.

I think if I start another one for the class, I might do it with leftover sock yarn. Of course, that's a shawl that would take a while to do. Lotsa garter stitch in that!

Edit: I added a photo of the work in progress on 1/11.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Maurizio Cardigan Progress

A quick post to show you that I am indeed making progress on the Maurizio cardigan for Lee. It's in Ultra Alpaca, and is from the same Debbie Bliss book that my Juliet sweater came from.

Here you see the back (top of chair) and the two fronts (on the seat). Not shown is the sleeve I am currently working on. The ribbing is brown, and the tops of the pockets and buttonhole band will also be. That should match most of Lee's clothing, since his intention is to take it to work for when it's too cold there (pretty impressive for temps to get too cold for him!).

You can see the pocket tops are on stitch holders, waiting to get knitted. It does look like the bulk of the project is older, but I can't get too itchy to finish--the sleeves get wider and wider as I go up. This is a nice, relaxed cardigan, meaning it's big!

I hit halfway on the striped scarf yesterday--there's less of the black than the stripey stuff. We'll see if it's long enough or I need to go searching to see if I have any leftover Cash Iroha from the Silk Garden shawl I made for my sister that used it in the edging (a shawl I never got a photo of and never saw her wear, either--darn).

I've spent all day writing a presentation in PowerPoint for a job thing on Wednesday and reading up on email marketing techniques, which I hope I will use at some point again in my life. Now to go "study" for tomorrow's interviews (4 hours' worth) and get ready for the start-up of choir. Whew, not working is tiring.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Rainbow of Stripes

I promised a picture of this work in progress, so here it is. I think it's a pretty cool looking scarf, especially the way the colors really don't repeat exactly, ever, in the Mille Colori. I like how the K1P1 ribbing keeps it nice and flat (other than that little flare on the bottom) and also keeps it reversible. It doesn't look like ribbing, either--more like stockinette. In this picture you see what almost one skein of each of the yarns gives me. I may only need two skeins of each for a good-length of scarf.

Anyway, thanks to the Brooklyn Tweed dude (who has designed many nice, and more complex things and is a very popular fellow) for this simple idea, even if I didn't use two shades of Silk Garden for it. I like this one, too. The black Cash Iroha is so nice to knit with that it makes up for the slightly squeaky feel the acrylic in the Mille Colori adds.

I'm off to hang with my kids and Lee, and knit today. No job stuff! A day off from not working, ha ha.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Knitting Hiatus

Well, hello there. I haven't posted all year! Of course, my excuse is good. It's been such a busy time with the job search that I've barely had any time to knit!

Nowadays you don't just interview for jobs. You go in multiple times, and a lot of places give you assignments to work on. Today I did a PowerPoint presentation analyzing part of a company's website and giving suggestions for improving it via the potential employer's software. I had to write this while caring for my poor children, who got all their wisdom teeth out at once and were moaning and bleeding all day yesterday, and while doing other really long interviews, so that was interesting. I did enjoy doing the presentation. I like presenting. It's like teaching. Such a ham I am. I have a similar presentation to do at another company next week, plus I had a writing assignment at a third place! A lot of work for an out of work person.

Thus, today you get a photo of my first sock. That is to keep me humble. Knitting in black, navy and dark purple perhaps was not the ideal choice. But, hey, they are socks and I can wear them, even with the glitches that are OF COURSE present in a first sock! I actually HAVE been working on the Brooklyn Tweed-style scarf, just no photos yet. It's really, really nice. Mille Colori is quite a fun yarn--the repeat is so long it's hard to find. And I do love Cash Iroha. Photo tomorrow, fer sure!!

Things are really good. I have at least 5 potential jobs that I would love to get chosen for, and at the moment I really don't know how I would choose among them. One pays really well and I could do it in my sleep, one is truly amazing people but is a long commute, one's a fun culture and nearby but doesn't pay too well, another looks like a fun challenge but is more formal than the others, and the last is working with the nonprofit sector, which those of you who know me remember I'm a sucker for (that is a former work pun, too).

Thank you to those of you who have posted job vibes. I think they are helping! Just one final push and we can move on!