Tuesday, September 30, 2008

That Looks Delicious!

Maelstrom on Two Needles
Originally uploaded by sunasak
Hey, what's that photo? Is it a pizza? A dried dahlia flower? Some lovely coral? No, that delicious-looking item is Maelstrom, nearly finished with the main body. If you look at the original, you might even see the beads, which are on the edges, but I doubt it. They are subtle. I only got 2.5 rows finished yesterday, thanks to wedding stuff I had to do, but hey, those are 800 stitch rows by now, so that took some knitting! I think the green beads are going to look nice gracing the last half of the last repeat. And then the border will have more beads (but not too many; I am trying to be tasteful).

I still have no clue how big this thing's going to get. I am concerned it won't be a big enough shawl. On the other hand, I mostly drape my shawls along the stairwell, anyway, so it has a life as a decorative object ahead of it, if nothing else. I'd hoped it would be a lap afghan, but I don't think so...I just have to be patient, since it looks like it will be a while before I find out! Now that I am beading, I can't work on it in the car or outside of the house (I think I can work on it at Chicks with Sticks tomorrow, though).

That means, maybe the Striped Celebratory Chevron socks will get bigger today, due to a bunch of meetings tonight! Poor socks. At least I am past the heel on them, so the end is in sight.

Hey, and guess what came in the mail yesterday? Why, YARN! What a surprise! I had to order the "Wrap Me Up" shawl pattern from Jimmy Beans Wool, and well, you can't just order a pattern, for goodness sake! So, two of those limited edition Lorna's Laces colors showed up (Gone Fishin' and Amy's Vintage Office), plus one sock's worth of Kafe Fassett Regia. WHY did I forget I would need two? Duh. And a Colinette Jitterbug, just for fun, in a very pinky/purple Wine Coulis colorway (depicted). I have GOT to stop buying sock yarn. Especially if I am going to keep committing to making blankets.

Yes, I have the OpArt baby blanket and the Wrap Me Up shawl in line to make. Those are big items that will distract me from shawls. Plus, it is almost cool enough to finish the orange alpaca sweater!

I must go be a mom now, and take one son to guitar lessons and attend Senior Parent Night for the other.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Present and Accounted for

Interlacements Toasty Toes
Originally uploaded by sunasak
Yep, I'm alive and knitting. My extremely busy week has finally wound down a bit and I can blog.

The good news is that the week had plenty of knitting in it, thanks to working in a room where I couldn't get Internet reception for 5 straight days. My bosses told me to feel free to knit while they discussed the finer points of blade systems and storage area networks (huh?) while I waited for them to decide what I was to record in copious spreadsheets and technical documents. Plus, they took way longer breaks than I ever do during the day, which led to a lot of knitting and pleasant conversation.

So, even though my evenings were mostly filled with non-knitting activities (singing and a high school football game), plenty of work on Maelstrom got accomplished. I am two thirds of the way through the last repeat of the pattern! Of course, rows are at least 700 stitches at this point, maybe longer, so they take a while.

Today has been extra beneficial in the knitting department, because I got this lovely skein of yarn from Nancy the Knitting Student (who from now on will be "Nancy"). She had been to the Old Oaks Ranch, south of here, and got me a souvenir. Wow, did she get some pretty sock yarn there--must make trip, must make trip. The yarn is Interlacements Toasty Toes in a color called Turkish Carpet. I made socks out of their Tiny Toes yarn before, but I may do something else with this, since it's sport weight. I think it would be pretty as an edging to something black. Not sure why.

Also, I lucked out, and when I went on an errand with Suzanne TCL that had nothing to do with knitting, we realized we were near the bead store. So I took advantage of that to get beads to put on Maelstrom's border. I ended up with two colors. One is a round semi-matte one in a rose that reflects a lot of the colors in the yarn, while the other is a green matte square that gives off purple, rose and a bit of blue. I would have just gotten the first one but they only had one tube. I actually think having the two colors will enhance the first one, which might have blended in a bit too much.

What I am doing is adding a few beads on these last few rows, then I will have more in the border. I hope it looks OK. I have a lot of the green ones, so I figure why not use them? Since they aren't overly shiny, I don't think they'll detract much. The yarn is so muted that a really shiny bead just wouldn't work.

I had a nice time at the yarn shop today, with two nice students and lots of friends to talk to. I'm getting a lot of wedding planning help from the people at the shop, so I am glad I have a group of women to run my ideas by!

It's been so long since I wrote that I have even MORE to mention. My order from KnitPicks came, and it contained black and white Swish DK to make the OpArt baby blanket from the current Knitty out of. I hope it makes the recipient one smart baby! The yarn feels really good and will not itch any baby. I also got 60" cables in anticipation of this project! And, heh heh, in a wry note, I also got my replacement gauge checker and needle measurer thing. Only to immediately find my lost one when I put it in my knitting bag. Oh! Poo! So, now I have one for each knitting bag, to put a positive spin on it.

That should be it. I am awaiting another yarn order for a fun project, which I'll tell you about when it gets here.

PS: I am still really tired, so if this makes no sense, I apologize!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Quick Greeting

I'm in meetings all day this week and have evening activities every day until Friday, so I won't be posting a lot. But here's a photo of that wool I talked about last time, the Leicester Longwool. It is from Brindle Hill, it says.

The only knitting news I have is good! I got through the second repeat of Chart B on Maelstrom, which means there is just one more repeat to go before the border, if I make it the size in the instructions. I still have a small amount of yarn left in the first ball, too. I am pretty sure that will give me enough for the last repeat and the border, at least I hope.

My only worry is that it seems pretty small. It may end up being a table cloth. Of course, I can't tell how it will block, so I will keep positive. Whatever size it is, it will be pretty. Have a good week, and if I get a chance on Thursday or Friday, I will write more.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Feeling Knotty

Knotty sounds a lot like "naughty," and that's how I feel based on the knitting, or lack thereof, that I have done this weekend. Other life events came up, what can I say? But I did stop and smell the flowers, and look at the butterflies, a bit, as evidenced by this image from the amazing garden in front of our church (where my musical partners for the morning were stuck waiting for someone to come unlock the building).

Anyway, my fine excuse yesterday for not knitting was that I went down to New Braunfels to look for a wedding dress at a very nice bridal/formalwear shop there. Katie from the comments/LYS took me there, since apparently every formal item ever purchased in her family came from there, and they sure know her! We had a blast, and I got a lovely dress in the exact color I wanted, and one I can wear my wedding shawl with --I am so glad I found one with sleeves but not a jacket.Don't worry, I will post a photo when the time comes. Katie kept asking me if she was pressuring me, but no, I do like the dress, and I feel much better knowing I didn't have to decide what to wear all by myself. This is the fanciest dress I ever owned: I never went to prom, have never been a bridesmaid, and got married last time in a suit. This is my big moment! Since I drove, I didn't get to knit until I got home in the evening.

And that knitting involved unraveling my second Shalom to the top border and starting it again. Why? Because wow did I misread the instructions. I am making this, because I am naughty and couldn't stop myself once I realized I had enough of this really weird yarn I got from the place that sells discontinued yarns to make a Shalom. This yarn is Leicester Longwool (an heirloom sheep) in a red and purple colorway. It feels, um, interesting. It is both slick and itchy. And let's not forget hairy. And heavy. The texture is quite different, to say the least. I had wanted to make something out of it, but only had 400 yards. That's enough for a Shalom! The yarn is so slippery that the first ball flew out of the yarn winder and I had to mostly do it by hand. I went slowly with the second one but wow, did it make a BIG ball of yarn. Anyway, I did get it started, but because I had made the first Shalom without the patterning, I hadn't paid a lot of attention to how it worked. I missed a couple of rows and had the twisted stitches on one side in the first band of increases and on the other side in the second. Oops. Ah well, this afternoon, while watching my son sand his Ebay pine guitar body, I got well into the third tier of the yoke, and I think it will be fine. My son has declared I will need to wear a thick long-sleeved shirt under this one, though! Photos to come!

I won't get much knitting done over the next few days, due to more rehearsing and singing, but after Wednesday, I'll be a knitting machine, I hope! Today's music went well, so I have high hopes for Tuesday. Nothing's wrong with having more than one hobby--and music and knitting go together real well.

Thanks to those of you who signed up as "followers;" it is fun to see your tiny faces. I mostly read blogs using Bloglines, so let me know if you get a follower indicator on yours, and I'll sign on so I show up!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Follow Me? And Maelstrom as Bag

Maelstrom as Bag
Originally uploaded by sunasak
First, see the new thing on the left margin? I got rid of my woefully outdated "work in progress" section (I kept forgetting it was there) and have added a "blog followers" link. This is where you can click that you are a follower of this blog. What happens is that you can then get blog updates on your Blogger dashboard (or ignore them completely, as I have done so far on the only blog I "follow"). It's a way to let ME know you are there, which would make me happy! You follow publicly or not, so you don't have to have your profile picture displayed. It does appear that you need a Blogger account to "follow". I know lots of my readers use other blog hosts, so that is fine and if you just comment occasionally or say hi in person/email, I will smile.

A Blog Reader who will remain anonymous asked me how to sign up for a Blogger account. So, what you do is go to Blogger.com and you will see a sign-up screen. If you have a Google account already, just type in your email address and password, and you will be on Blogger. You don't have to set up a blog if you don't want to (but honest, kids, it is so easy!). Then you can click the link and be a follower.

OK, end advertisement...I share here my photo of Maelstrom looking like a disembodied brain, a turd, or a basket for its yarn ball. Yesterday at Chicks with Sticks, more than one person vowed that the shawl IS pretty.It just grows slowly because it's on small needles and the yarn is fingering weight. Deana's version in worsted weight on what appear to be US 10.5 needles is way bigger, and she is still on the first chart! Just goes to show it is a versatile pattern!

Nancy the Quilter was making her own version of Shalom, too, in a very soft bulky yarn in purples and related colors. It was nice to see the pattern detail on it. She plans to add sleeves to hers. I enjoy seeing other people's versions of projects I have worked on.

It was a day for showing off pretty projects at the LYS yesterday. One regular who'd been absent on Wednesdays for a while brought in a couple of amazing felted bags, one of which had incredibly realistic felted gardenias. They looked like healthier versions of the ones on my porch, down to the mottled coral coloring. And she had made three cardigans! So, wow, that was a busy absent person. And two of our newer participants were each making an absolutely awe-inspiring
"wrap me up" shawl in Noro Silk Garden. They were using the same colorway, but of course each looks different. This appears to be a great project for learning a lot of knitting techniques, because it is like a sampler. I'd love to do a class in that one.

That was by no means complete list of cool projects (for example, I got to view more than one MS4 in progress), but that's all I have time to type out. I really get inspired by everyone's projects.

But mostly it tickles me when people line up to ask me questions like I am the Great Guru of Knitting Knowledge (of which I am certainly not the best, or only one there!). Or they are all asking at once, which happened a couple of times. Boy is it hard to parse two sets of knitting questions at the same time. I do love the challenge of figuring out someone's pattern issue, fixing a mistake, or (mmm I like this) giving color advice. Thank you, if you are one of the folks who patiently waited for me to finish answering one question before helping with theirs!

Also, thanks for asking, because it sure helps me improve my knitting to help someone else. Hint: if you want to learn more, help someone! I see that happening so much. One friend wrote a sock tutorial on her blog, and I am pretty sure that improved her own sock skills--it really works!

Feel free to ask me stuff in comments if you can't come in person or don't have my cell phone on your speed dial like Suzanne does. Chances are, if you have a question, someone else who is too shy to ask also has it (the thing I always said when I was teaching college classes!). There's lost of wonderful knitting assistance on the World Wide Web of course, but sometimes it helps to ask someone you know or who has seen your project.

So, go knit something. Or read another blog. I must go earn money to buy more yarn now!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Maelstrom as Beret and Good News

Maelstrom as Beret
Originally uploaded by sunasak
I was wrong when I said I could not find a way to photograph Maelstrom. Here is serves as a jaunty beret. Yes, I am wearing the same shirt as I had on in the previous post. Hey, it is what I wore for a couple of hours each day after I got home from all my "activities." When not serving as a beret, Maelstrom can also serve as a holder for its ball of yarn, too. Handy, very handy.

I have been working diligently, and am now over halfway through the second of three passes through Chart B. I will be interested to see how much yarn I have left at the end of this chart. If I still have some left, there is hope that I can do the border in the original yarn using the second skein. Of course, that last pass through Chart B will have lots of stitches on it, so it remains to be seen whether I will need to get Ray to make me some new border yarn or not. I am also curious as to what size this product will end up being. Will it be a table cloth? A shawl? A lap blanket? I have no clue, since it is really curling up.

I am just about to the heel on the socks, too, after plowing through a mistake made during the Debate Parent meeting (got all nerved out by another participant). We'll see how far I get this afternoon and evening at Chicks with Sticks and choir. I have been touched at how many people asked where I was last Wednesday--the Big Announcement that I was at the high school open house didn't get very far, apparently!

Well, this is all I have time for on break, so it's back to the Wonderful World of Technical Editing. Ooh, and in case you haven't heard, my fiance Lee got a job offer, finally. At a company that makes mostly white computers, trendy phones and things that play music. It's a contract, since they froze the position he has interviewed endlessly for, but there's hope it will turn into that position eventually! Now we can really get moving on that wedding planning!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Answered Prayers

Prayer Shawl
Originally uploaded by sunasak
I didn't think I'd have anything blog-worthy today, but lo and behold, I remembered that the finished Prayer Shawl for Chuck was in Lee's truck. So I got it out and took its picture. It's nice and stripey, and really doesn't look like it is a bunch of different colors, does it? I do realize that choosing to photograph lovely handknits while one is wearing a fairly garish tie-dye t-shirt is not the ideal fashion choice. But, it did get to be a reasonable length, and I am happy to say the knitting is fairly consistent, given that 7 people of varying ages and gauges worked on it.

Of course, it didn't get finished quickly enough to actually get it to our minister before he went far off, so it will have to be a "welcome back" shawl. That's good, because that leaves me plenty of time to wash it more than once and get all the dog and cat dander out of it. After sniffing the shawl, I realized everyone who had worked on it had multiple pets, and the recipient has allergies! So, I'll get it all clean and put it in a plastic bag, away from my animals.

How do you get one of these? Again, you go out and buy as many skeins of Noro Kureyon, Silk Garden or other self-striping yarn as you can find and parcel them out to people who want to help. Then knit up the standard broken garter stitch prayer shawl in whatever width you want. Each person knits up their ball of yarn! If you don't have enough people, some can knit more than one skein (on this one I knit three).

I thought the prayer shawl was a good item to post today, since, if I were a praying type, I'd say my prayers were answered today when Lee got a job lined up, after a lot of delays. He is going on as a contractor where he'd hoped to get a full time job with benefits, but the contract can extend, and they hope it will eventually become the "real" job that got put on hold. This means a lot more breathing room for us. Thanks to all who were sending out vibes, prayers or thoughts for this.

Now I invite you to turn your energies toward one of my favorite yarn vendors, Ray from Knitivity. He has already been through Hurricane Katrina, and now is having to deal with the aftermath of Ike. He actually makes his living dyeing yarn, which means if he can't dye, he can't earn money. Who knows how long he will be without electricity, or how much damage his mobile home received in the hurricane?

What I did to help a little was to go over and order some yarn, so that when he CAN do it, he will have work to do, and money to cover repairs and living expenses. And it's not like it's torture. The yarn is lovely! I ordered a "surprise" skein of sock yarn, and look forward to seeing what this month's surprise is. My kids' high school gym is full of refugees, and I have done little things to help people in general, but it is nice to know I helped someone specific, too. If you were wondering how you could help some of the people whose lives were precarious to start out with, and who can really be devastated by the aftermath of a random piece of weather, think about Ray or someone else you know of who could use a boost. All I know is that, with all our job issues, we haven't been that far from crossing the line where it would be hard to recover from ourselves.

Happy knitting--I'll be working on my socks during a meeting tonight but hope to get back to Maelstrom when I get home, and more tomorrow!

PS: I ordered yarn to make OpArt from the new Knitty for a baby who will be here in March. I got black and white KnitPicks Swoosh. Oops, Ray really doesn't like KnitPicks, but hey, I want to use the yarn called for in the pattern so it will be vaguely right. And I had to replace my needle gauge that I lent out at Chicks with Sticks and have not seen since. So I patronize LOTS of yarn sources, I am keeping the yarn economy happy!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Lots of Knitting, Not Much to Show

Encore Sock Scarf
Originally uploaded by sunasak
I knitted tons this weekend, but most of it was on the Maelstrom shawl, and well, it really doesn't look too different from before the weekend started. I know I made progress, though, because I finished the first repeat of the main pattern and got well into the second repeat. And of course, it was quite appropriate to be working on the hurricane-shaped shawl while waiting for the hurricane to come. Of course, I patiently waited in the LYS, while all we got was wind, while our friends and relations in Houston and parts south had a much worse experience (as well as our Ohio friends!). I have no photo of Maelstrom, because I can't really get an angle that looks like something nice. Sadly, it rather resembles a giant deposit of doggie doo doo, especially the wrong side. Nice image, I know, but it will be a lovely muted shawl when it's done!

I did start the thing you see illustrated, which I talked about in the last entry (so go take a nap if you find this repetitive--I want to say more about it). What is it? Well, certainly not something that takes all my knitterly intellectual powers, that's for sure. It's a K1P1 shawl of 40 stitches in width, made from the new-ish Plymouth Encore Sock yarn. It's DK weight, so not really my idea of fun sock material, but I was intrigued with the mottled effect and the self striping aspect. To be honest, what brought this on was that in the past couple of days I had recommended this kind of scarf to two knitters wanting to branch out from plain garter stitch scarves. In addition to the one I mentioned on Saturday, another one wanted to use self-striping sock yarn for a scarf, and I told her how a stockinette one would curl up. However, doing a K1P1 ribbing makes a fabric that quite resembles stockinette on both sides, resulting in a flat scarf that has no "wrong" side. This is just a simpler version of that Brooklyn Tweed scarf everyone was making last year.The nice thing about this DK weight yarn is you don't need as many stitches to get scarf width, and it will go faster. Still, such a thing in self-striping sock yarn sure would be pretty. I think you might need two skeins, though, and often you can't find two of the same 400-yard skeins.

Well, that's enough on a very simple thing. It just looked like it would make a nice gift. Especially with a matching hat!

And speaking of sock yarn, I did work on the Stripey Celebratory Chevron socks this weekend, too. Still loving the bamboo blend yarn and the pattern. I could make this pattern over and over, and am finally not putting errant YOs as much as I was.

On to the rest of the week. I hope all the weather is calm, wherever you are in this big ole world.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

It's a Simple Shalom Sweater!

Shalom Sweater
Originally uploaded by sunasak
Well, that went quickly, did it? Especially considering I didn't work on it at all on Tuesday or Wednesday. I am not terribly thrilled with how the last skein of yarn was such a different color from the others, but people say that makes it look "natural."

After I finished it, I took it to the LYS and consulted with Andrea, who is the best seamstress I know, about how fat the arms looked. She agreed with me that it would be a good idea to stitch the armhole down a bit and make it smaller. I took an inch off each side, and it came out SO much nicer. Now it is a very handsome sweater vest. I think it really looks good from the back--it is a length I like. I can't believe something I made so fast came out so nice. The "I'm Allergic to Wool" yarn knit up thick but not as heavy as I feared. It will be warm, but not too warm in the fall/winter. I actually wore it in the yarn shop today and was not hot.

I also got a really good button for it. It's one of the Crone Art fimo buttons they have at Bluebonnet, and it really brings out the subtle colors in the yarn (there are touches of blue and brown). I considered an agate button, but we thought it might be too heavy.

Today has been a good knitting day. The hurricane Ike did not affect us here much at all--just some wind. But we had a lot of people at the LYS, some refugees, others just needing to get out of the house. I got to teach someone to crochet and to do "lace surgery" on a friend's MS4, which had experienced a dropped stitch. It is VERY easy to "miss" one of the stitches in a K3tog, and that is what had happened. I honestly can't believe I fixed it, because I thought I had just put it together a bit and she'd have to re-do it. But nope, while it was not 100% perfect, my repair sufficed! I was so glad to be able to help, and to look at the pattern, since I won't be making that until a long time from now, given the size of my queue!

I decided to make a simple scarf after giving a new knitter the idea to make a K1P1 scarf out of self-striping sock yarn. I got my former student going on one out of Odyssey, which changes colors really nicely, then I decided to buy some of the new Encore Sock yarn the shop got in, and make a K1P1 scarf for Lee in the reds and blacks colorway. I like this pattern, because the way the ribbing contracts, you end up with what appears to be the knit side of stockinette on both sides. This DK weight self-striping yarn, by the way, would make a great hat and mittens set, too. It's machine washable, so it would make a good gift for a teen.

OK, back to knitting! Just had to share my finished object!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Sock Knitting Meme

I am sure glad Floderten!strik posted this on her blog, since I won't have anything to really show you until I knit a few more rows on Shalom.(And do check out her blog--she is a great writer with wonderful wit and insight, especially considering that she has just started her university studies and is not a native speaker of English.)

I have been a bit preoccupied with life this week, so I didn't get as far along on Shalom as I would like. I am on the bottom border now! There was high school open house to go to, a rehearsal for an upcoming gig (locals: Tuesday the 23rd at BB Rovers on 183 near Oak Knoll, at 8 pm there will be almost an hour of me and my friends trying to sing harmony outdoors in a smoky loud environment on equipment that is not ours. Whee!). And of course there is a distracting hurricane that thankfully should miss us, but has the roads and hotels all crowded with refugees. I bet we don't even get any rain, sigh. But I am hoping for the best for those down south.

Anyway, here is the meme:

When did you first learn to knit socks? I first learned some time in the 80s, when I made one sock but found it too complicated, so I figured it was beyond me. Silly me.

What’s the first sock you ever knit? Ravelry tells me my first socks, depicted above, were made in 2003. My friend Nancy Jo and I learned together. The pattern is Adult Basic Socks by Deirdre Wallace. I was hindered greatly by my choice of perhaps the darkest sock colorway ever, so I could not see the stitches very well. So, there are a couple of "interesting" holes in it (I think they are where I messed up transitioning from one DPN to the other.) And I misunderstood the heel pattern, so it is plain. That's OK, I got it on the next sock and have not stopped since.

Favorite Sock Pattern? That is like asking who is your favorite child! I am really liking the one I am working on right now, Celebratory Chevrons, which was the Loopy Ewe first anniversary pattern.

Favorite needle method? One sock on magic loop. However, I have done the last few two at a time, since I like finishing them both at the same time. I don't "hate" any method, though.

Favorite sock needles? US 0 or 00. This is because, as we recall, I knit a bit loosely. This is the equivalent of a 1 or 2 for "normal" people.

Who do you knit socks for? Mostly me, though I made a few for a friend once, and have done them for my sister, Lee, Lee's dad and the daughter of a friend.

How many pairs have you knitted to date? BWA HA HA HA HA. Let's say "a lot." OK, I counted on Ravelry and there are 71 listed there. I think there are some I didn't photograph before giving away, but that is a reasonable estimate.

What is on your sock knitting to-do list? I want to make something with my shiny yarn with silver in it, knit with Panda Soy (I love to try new yarns), do at least one "new pathways" style sock, and successfully complete a fair-isle style sock in two colorways, since my last try didn't work. Oh, and entrelac socks. I just need to stop on other things and make the pattern I have!

What kind of socks do you like to knit-
Striped? Yep. That is all I did at first.
Colorwork? I need to work on not getting them too tight with my floats. Like I said above, it is on the list.
Plain Stockinette? Occasionally, especially with very colorful yarns. It's a nice rest.
Cabled? Yes, though I find single traveling twisted stitches annoying after a while.
Lace? Probably my favorite.
Anklets? I made one pair and I like it a lot. I will probably make short socks out of my Panda cotton, when I get to it.
Knee Socks? Not so far, but I have seen a few really nice patterns. It is just too hot here.
Solid colors? I like semi-solid ones best. Most solid colored sock yarns are too glaringly colored for my taste.
Bright and crazy? Fraid so. Even if Lee hates them. I like looking at the colors when I am iknitting.
Faux Fair Isle (the yarn doing all of the work)? I have made a few and have yarn for more. I like them fine as everyday wear.

Tag a few sock knitters here: As the blog I stole this from said: Consider yourself tagged, sock-knitters.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Knitting through Frustration

Shalom Cardigan
Originally uploaded by sunasak
I had a lot of frustrations over the weekend, so was glad to have my knitting. Had some difficulties on the band bus (I think my bus kids didn't do anything awful, but had to deal with a pissy bus driver), the power went off for hours on Saturday, the cable went off later so I ended up missing BOTH the Gators and the Longhorns play football, and on Sunday I scheduled a rehearsal for the wrong time, so I missed most of the Cowboy game! Gee. Not my weekend for football. I mainly love football because I get a lot of knitting done when it is on, you see!

And, as you can see, a lot of knitting was done on Shalom. It is somewhat more attractive than it appears to be in the photo. The super bulky yarn makes for a thick fabric, so I think it will be like one of those vests you can wear for warmth, not just decoration. Looking at how the arms are done (which is an interesting way, I think--creates cap sleeves), I am not sure if I will be able to add sleeves to it or not. My other alternative is to lengthen it. I see by the thousands of Lucky Magazines that have come to my house in the last few weeks (I got a free subscription when I bought some shoes online, and they sent the first three months one per week) , long sweater vests are in fashion. We'll see what I think when I finish knitting skein #3, which I am about to start on as soon as I am not working.

I had to go to the Big Fancy LYS south of the river to buy a new, longer size 8 needle for when I was working on the last part of the yoke. Actually, the main body section barely fits on those needles, and with such sturdy yarn, stitches do try to pop off. They don't squish up like a wool would. And, heh heh, since I was at a yarn shop with different stuff from the usual yarn shop, I had to get some sock yarn. I completed my "Panda" collection by getting two balls each of Panda Soy and Panda Wool. I mainly got the Panda Wool because Beccano loved the colors. He wants a hacky sack ball made from it. I don't know if I can part with it (and yes, the photo is blurry, oops).

I did a bit of work on the Maelstrom on Saturday, but when I was wandering around town doing fun stuff, I mostly worked on the Stripey Chevrons socks. It seems like I didn't spend all that much time on them, but I did make some progress. It's a simple pattern but I keep YO-in in the wrong places. Grr, I hate it when I do that!

Other than the usual fun with the usual folks at the usual yarn shop Saturday morning, there's not much other knitting news to report. I'll check in with you later in the week, I am sure.

Friday, September 5, 2008

A Simple Shalom, Y'all

Originally uploaded by sunasak
I have been wanting to knit something with this particular yarn ever since it came in to the shop early in the spring. It is a very bulky, lumpy yarn in mottled grays that look a lot like the river rocks and the lovely smooth stones on the Irish coast where rivers join the sea. I just couldn't find anything that was right for it, pattern-wise. Plus the yarn is really expensive (even with discount). It's Farmhouse Yarns "I Am Allergic to Wool" and is mostly cotton, but a strand of shiny acrylic gives the yarn its texture and just a little (not too much) zing. I just fell for that yarn. Totally not my usual thing, but so what?

On Wednesday or Thursday I literally stumbled on the Shalom cardigan while staring at something. Maybe it was the Lime and Violet Daily Chum, which has lots of inspiring ideas in it. It is that shape I like so much and called for bulky yarn, so I figured I was all set. I bought 4 mega-costly skeins of this yarn and set out to make yet another overly expensive shrug-like item. I can't help it, I like them.

So far, my issues are:
  • I have to use size 8 needles to get close to a right gauge, and this yarn would prefer a 10 in my usual gauge (calls for 11 on the label). So, wow, it takes some effort to make the stitches. I do think it will actually end up the right size, though.
  • Also, the patterning on the yoke of the sweater will not show up in this lumpy yarn, which I could have guessed. That does save me hours of knitting and purling through the back loop with inflexible yarn, so yay to that "problem."
  • It is my hope that the sweater doesn't end up too big. It is quite a flexible pattern, so I am not too worries. I am thinking it will go quickly, too. That will mean I can keep on with Maelstrom.

I have a photo of my newest socks, too. Always have some socks going! This yarn is really nice, and is self striping, but randomly so. I have been going on about my love of bamboo for quite some time now, and Twisted Fiber Art Kabam! stuff does nothing to change my mind at all. Such lovely colors that blend in and out! And they don't hide the patterning, as far as I can tell (I only have one pattern repeat done, though, since I have been concentrating on the shawl mostly).

Maelstrom is going fine, but not fine enough to merit another photo. Maybe after the weekend, when I don't have too much planned other than knitting and watching football. Too bad this week it's the funny Manning brother on, not the extra cute Manning brother, who was on last night (I loves my Mannings, but that is not a knitting topic).

I look forward to tomorrow, since I know I have at least one student, and hope another one or two show up. There's one (hi to her if she is reading) who I have really been enjoying the progress of. Everything she has made has been so pretty--even her first scarf! She has such great taste in yarn that I know she will be scary in a few months when she has all her learning curve completed!

I'll probably be back on Monday, so until then, keep up the knitting, and say hi if you feel like it!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Minty Leaves and Maelstrom

Minty Leaves Socks
Originally uploaded by sunasak
Yay for the long weekend. It's enabled me to finish my Minty Leaves socks (they only took 9 days, so I was zooming on these, at least for me). I enjoyed these a lot, and am enjoying wearing them today! I had a lot of "business" at the yarn shop on Saturday, so I got a lot done in between people's questions and such, then yesterday I had a lot of time to knit while awaiting some out-of-town guests, and then while listening to conversations with them and their chatty (yet adorable in their own ways) daughters (7 and 10). I just had to knit 20 minutes this morning to finish.

So, I think I talked about the yarn already. I got a very tight gauge out of it, which makes me think I'd like to get some more yarn from this base to make socks that call for more stitches around--I like to make more intricate patterns, but with my loose gauge, I have trouble getting the socks to fit me. This Perfect Day Beat Sock yarn is something I'd definitely get more of. And I like the semi-solid effect, too.

The pattern was a lot of fun, and it looks better than I thought it was going to, other than the gusset pick-up on one side having a funny line--I guess I had never picked up on purl stitches before, and should have done a slightly different method. At least they match, since I did both socks at the same time! And it was fun to just knit nothing but the socks for a week. I was a monogamous knitter.

Well, I was actually a little unfaithful yesterday, because I was in spired to start a new project, the Maelstrom shawl (it is available on Ravelry, but only there as far as I know). It's a new pattern--mine was just its second project, but there was a LOT of interest in it at my LYS. I had seen it in the new patterns listing on Friday, and when I came to the shop on Saturday, Pat already had printed a copy and was waving it at me. Then another patron came in all excited about it (however, she is making so many other complex things right now, I doubt she'll get to this one). It's an easy knit, but I love the way it looks--like a hurricane from above.

I am not sure why I am making so many easy shawls these days, but I am fine with it. At least this one has more complexity than the Silky Kerchief. The pattern goes on and on--the author is very precise, and includes both written-out and charted instructions, so it would be a good project for a less experienced lace knitter.

I chose my brand new yarn that just came in the mail on Saturday. I have 1400 yards of fingering weight wool from Knitivity--Ray dyed the two hanks at the same time, so they match really well. The colors are very muted browns, blues and reds (the red is very muted). He called it "Mountain Cabin." I like how it blends with the decor of my media room, so I am hoping to use the shawl as a lap afghan. I'm not sure how big it will come out. The sample for the pattern was knitted, I think, with a slightly thinner yarn and on a smaller gauge, but I could be wrong. I'll just have to see! At any rate, I am enjoying how easy the yarn is to knit with, and the pattern, which has enough to it to keep me interested, but doesn't require constant attention to the chart, either.

Of course, I started a new pair of socks as soon as the Minty Leaves were finished. I just have to. I am making the pattern that came out for the Loopy Ewe's first anniversary, last year, but from a different yarn, a self-striping bamboo blend from Twisted Yarns, called Organic Stripe. The colorway is called "Batty," but it really doesn't look like a bat. It has gold, green and purple, but muted variations. I think the pattern will show up really well in this color. So far, this yarn really feels nice, too.

I hope to get more knitting done the rest of the day, though I have some work to do (I am a contractor, so no paid holidays for us!). Nor for the lawn maintenance dudes. I see a neighbor getting their lawn cut. Gee, those guys deserve a break, too, but I know they need the money.