Monday, March 28, 2011
I finished my Ysolda beret in no time at all. Unfortunately, my cameraman hasn't been around to take a picture, so here is my attempt to photograph it on my own head. The beret is knit in Louisa Harding Grace, a silk and wool blend that I mentioned last time. I did like knitting with this yarn. It's very soft to the touch and has thick and thin bits, and less-spun bits, but it did come out nice. I still need to get the elastic and ribbon to thread thru the band for a bow. I think I'll go with black, or a dark gray, for this.
It's kind of odd looking when you only see part of it--very urchin-like. When I get some better photos of the whole thing, I'll post 'em. I ended up with half a ball of yarn left, and I thought I could buy one more ball and make a second one to give to someone. Otherwise, I don't know what to do with half a ball of yarn. I hate having leftovers from a project! I have to think of something to do with them.
Instead of picking up another UFO, I moved on to a new project. I had a strong feeling that I ought to do something with my Sunday Knits Nirvana. I wanted something really simple, no lace or things that would require too much attention. Nirvana 3-ply is a sport weight (to fingering weight) yarn, and I chose this project from Rowan 26.
The color I'm working with is charcoal. I've got a good start on the back, and I'm comparing against a favorite Old Navy sweater just to be sure it's going to fit. Unlike some knitters, I really do not mind stockinette stitch. It's so restful and I can listen to an audiobook and not get lost with either. This sweater's accompaniment is Death on the Nile, read by David Suchet. The project is done on US 4 needles, which I like because it's a small gauge but not so small that you don't see any progress. The decreases and increases are done in the body of the sweater, as opposed to on the edges, and this looks nice even though they don't show up that well in a dark color. Well, there are also decreases on the sides, but I chose not to do them as they make too precipitous of a curve for my frame.
In the mail today I got a nice package from Quince & Co. of Portland, Maine. I had been interested in their yarns, so I ordered up a sample skein and their color card. Such pretty colors! Such nice yarn! It's spun evenly and looks very springy. This is their Chickadee yarn in Bird's Egg. And it is the right color of bird's egg.
I had it in mind for a little project, but now I'm not sure this weight is going to work for it. I can give it a try, but if not, it will certainly become something else nice. I also got snips of their other yarns and they look good, too.
I also received in the mail the extra ball of Castello to finish my Maddalena cardigan. So I have no excuse not to get on with that one as well.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Unlike the rest of knitdom, I've only recently become a fan of Ysolda Teague, the Scottish knit designer with the most popular pattern on Ravelry. I've known about her for a while and remember when she published her first pattern in Knitty in 2005, but I've never made anything of hers, even though I've liked some of her designs.
That's all about to change, because this past week I got her book Whimsical Knits 2, in book form, from a local knit shop. The book itself is really cute, as are the projects. The first thing I'm knitting from it is this:
Called Nathaniel, it's a squirrel pillow. I have some Galway Chunky, which was quite inexpensive, to make a white squirrel. I'm thinking about adding a strand of mohair to make more of a fuzzy squirrel. I know it's not everybody's thing, but I think he's so cute.
I also have in mind the Belle Beret shown at the top out of Louisa Harding Grace Silk & Wool in black. I decided on black because it's bound to be useful, don't you think? This is one of her free patterns. The ribbon is sewn to a piece of elastic and inserted into a casing to get a good fit around the head. I could jazz it up with a different colored ribbon, or just keep the whole thing black or gray.
I know I will be making more things out of the Whimsical Knits book, because I like everything in it. There are 12 designs, an almanac of sorts. And her instructions and pattern layouts are so clear I think it will be a good experience.
As for finishing my UFOs, I've hit a stumbling block in the Maddalena cardigan mentioned last time. It was flying along until I began to run really short of yarn. Hmm. I hunted around for an extra ball, but I could pretty much see from the ends in the finished pieces that I'd knit all there was.
I tried to make it work and kept going till this was all that was left.
And it was not enough! After weighing the yarn to figure out grams and possible grams per row, I decided I had just enough to do a one-row neckband and button bands (without buttons). I tried it but it didn't work as the bands wanted to flip over and under and generally looked bad, as you can see.
I've made this sweater before and didn't have this issue. In fact, I used just over six of the seven balls I had. And this time I made the sleeves two inches shorter! So either I bought eight balls last time and didn't realize it, or the seventh ball for this sweater is hiding around here somewhere. This is one problem with putting a project down for a long time. In any event, I was able to find another ball in my color on eBay (thanks, Lisette, for offering!) and will finish it off when that comes in.
In the meantime, should I cast on a Ysolda project, or slog along on another UFO? Decisions.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
I finished two scarves and only recently got around to photographing them, but sans makeup so I'm headless today. This one's from the book The Country Diary Book of Knitting by Annette Mitchell and is a simple ribbed scarf. Knit in aran weight yarn, it goes quickly. I did a tubular cast on and cast off (great tutorial on that here), and just knit till I was getting to the end of my yarn. I used one skein of Lion Brand Fishermen's Wool, which is 465 yds, and the scarf is plenty long to wrap.
Yes, the Fishermen's Wool is scratchy, but I find that I'm not as sensitive to rustic wool as I used to be. I did give it a bath in Eucalan with some hair conditioner, and that helped. And I may be more kindly towards Fishermen's Wool in the future. It's not bad, once I cleaned it, and is good for sturdy, un-fancy garments.
If I get caught out on the moors, I'll wear it this way. I like her sweater and may knit that as well.
The next scarf I knit was in some yarn I got at Madrona last month. This yarn never made it to my stash, and it feels good to knit something up right away. The pattern is the Curlicue Fringe Scarf by Toots LeBlanc, using their 70/30 BFL/Pygora blend. One skein makes a modest sized scarf, not for wrapping but more for draping, I suppose.
I did enjoy working with this yarn. It was a bit expensive (about $25), but there are 250 yds per skein so it goes a long way. Although it's classified as a fingering weight yarn, I find their yarns to be heavier and thought it could easily be substituted for Rowan Felted Tweed in a sweater. It has a nice heft to it that Felted Tweed does not and would make a very classy garment. I do like the curlicues:
I got the pattern at the Toots booth without really reading it because I thought the scarf was cute, but it wasn't my favorite pattern to work from as it seemed a little loosey-goosey on the details even for this simple scarf. I suspect the original had longer curlicues; mine are a little lackluster in comparison--oh well!
Work on my UFOs continues. I picked up where I left off on my Maddalena cardigan, which turned out to be at the left front. That is, I started this sweater with the left front for some reason, so that was the only piece done. But I've finished the other front and the back now:
I've done this Louisa Harding sweater once before in green:
I liked the mottled yarn so much I had to buy it in another colorway. I'm not sure but I think this yarn (Louisa Harding's Castello) has been discontinued.
The finished version will look like this, although this plummy color is yet a different colorway:
I think I may make the ribbing on the sleeves shorter on this one. It looks kind of bulky on the upper arms and is slow going to knit, with lots of twisted stitches and k2togs.
Next post I'll do a UFO round-up as it seems to be what I'm working on these days. I'm unusually determined to clear the knitting slate!
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Lately I've been trying to finish some old UFOs, and both of the ones I chose to work on have fringe. I'm not that much of a fringe person as far as what I wear, but I thought these two things were cute when I bought the yarn for them. The first is the Cosmos Poncho from the book Handknit Style. I got 7 skeins of the Tahki Stacy Charles Cosmos a while ago when it was on sale at one of my LYSs. It's kind of nasty to work with but it drapes well. The poncho calls for 9 skeins, but I thought I would do mine narrower and just stop when I ran out of yarn. Here's the original from the book:
Mine came out pretty much the size of this one somehow. It should be a fun thing to wear in the spring with white linen pants or jeans. The fringe still needs some trimming as I haven't done that yet, but other than that, it's all done.
My next UFO project was less enjoyable for me. This is the Montego Bay Scarf by Amy Singer, published in Interweave Knits Summer 2007. What can I say? The same LYS had a shop sample, and I am a sucker for those . . . and it looked so easy. Described as "a mindless openwork pattern," I thought I'd have this done in no time, but I found it an exasperating project for some reason. I had trouble telling which of the rows I was on in the lace, and it wasn't till I picked it back up again after a long hiatus that I figured out how to differentiate between them. Here's the original, made in Handmaiden Sea Silk I believe:
And my version in alpaca:
I used Alpaca With a Twist Fino, a lace yarn, using two strands at a time, the yardage of which was supposed to work out to be the same length as the original. However, after a soak my scarf came out somewhere between eight and 10 feet! Must have been the alpaca, but it had to be frogged about two feet. Another thing is that I came to realize that coral is not my color, especially next to my face, so I decided to dye it lavender.
I have to say my approach to dyeing is to try something and see what happens, definitely not a scientific method. The scarf when it came out of the dyebath was a rather loud purple that would have gotten me mistaken for a Washington Huskies fan:
. . . or something like that. (I'm not a Huskies fan, and I'm not not a Huskies fan, I just don't want to wear clothes associated with a football team.) So, back in the dye pot it went. I managed to get a color I liked by adding some orange, and it came out a plum color. Apologies for the not great photos.
The fringe on the scarf didn't make it. It was already attached when I first dyed it, and there were some coral bits around the ties where the dye didn't penetrate. Overdyeing in orange sure didn't help, so I removed the fringe completely. Considering I had my doubts about getting something usable out of this whole experience, it's okay, I think. Here are the three colors this scarf has been:
What I picked up next is not a UFO but a scarf using new yarn I got at the Madrona Fiber Arts Festival that takes place in Tacoma each year. The yarn is a skein of yummy rustic Blue Faced Leicester/Pygora in a light brown. Both yarn and pattern for the Curlicue Fringe Scarf are from Toots LeBlanc in Oregon.
Now this is truly mindless knitting!