Happy new year!

I spent the morning trying to get an eye exam before my insurance runs out, only to find out they don’t accept my current insurance. Ah well… it is not so bad, and my new contacts are much more comfortable!

I’ve started my Veste Everest. I’m using the green Cascade 220 that I bought a year ago for Ariann. I love the color – I think the heathered Cascade 220 shades are softer than the regular ones. I’m knitting the smallest size, even though it is super tiny, because this fabric is really stretchy, and I won’t wear vests if they aren’t pretty tight all over. It seems to stretch out to my size really easily, so I think it will be ok.

I love the heathery yellow bits!

Our exciting new year’s eve plans involve going to Michaels (30% off yarn and yarn accessories – what are yarn accessories exactly?) and then to somewhere cheap for dinner, before becoming hermits for the night and hoping that this year there won’t be any fist fights on the neighbor’s lawn at 2 am. I have a pretty early mass Tuesday, but that’s ok because it gets me out of having to go to any parties (I really don’t like parties.)

I’m participating in the best of 2007 event hosted by Knit lit. I love lists!

1. Your best FO of the year – I would have to say my Central Park Hoodie. I wear it far more often than I would have thought, and it’s just so snuggly and warm!

2. Best FO by a blog you link to. – This is so hard – there are so many creative knit bloggers! I’m going to go with Indigo Mouse’s Autumn Rose, simply because it turned out so beautifully, and I am so in love with this pattern (someday!)
3. best yarn you tried – My favorite remains Cotton Fleece, which I tried for the first time early in the year. I must like it – I’ve made 4 sweaters out of it so far!

4. best new book/mag/pattern of 2007 – I thought Knitting Lingerie Style was a really fabulous book, and it was the most unexpected love for me – I haven’t cared for knitted lingerie type books before, but this is so beautiful and elegant!

5. best new knitting technique or gadget you tried in 2007 – I learned how to seam this year, and it has opened up a whole new world of knitting possibilies to me!

6. top 5 inspirations–what five things inspired you the most over the past year?

1. Japanese Crochet books- although I haven’t made any of the patterns yet (soon!) I am so inspired by the beauty of the crocheted lace and motifs in these books. It has inspired me to crochet again, and I am loving it so much!

2. Ravelry. Seriously – I could never have imagined what a valuable tool this would be. I have met many lovely people, and been inspired countless times.

3. Knitting books – the amount I own has reached critical mass, but I embrace my book stash. I love to go and flip through them, looking for ideas and inspirations.

4. Modifying sweaters – I found out that you can make changes to patterns and it is ok. Until I started knitting I doubt I owned any sweaters that truly fit me. I have come to a better understanding and acceptance of what does and doesn’t look good on me.

5. Fashion. I’ve always loved fashion, but now I find myself watching for knitwear inspiration in particular.

7. designer who most amazed & inspired you throughout the year -Veronik Avery has become my favorite designer by far. Her aesthetic is refined but not fussy, and most of her designs work well for my body. I love her book, Knitting Classic Style, even if I haven’t made anything from it yet!

8. knitting resolutions for 2008–what’s next for you and your blog? I will conquer colorwork this year. I have made some moves this direction, but I have yet to finish any colorwork projects. I’m hoping the Transition gloves will be my first, and maybe I can finally work on my endpapers as well! I’m going to make some of those Japanese patterns I love, and maybe try my hand at some designing? We shall see. I will, of course, continue blogging. This has been such a wonderful experience for me!

Exactly one year ago, I finished the Rib and Cable socks by Nancy Bush, in Mountain Colors bearfoot.  I wore them out today for their birthday – they are, I will confess, my favorite socks, warm and comfortable and very cushiony.  I hope everyone has a lovely new year!

FO: Kitty hat (scroll down for the humiliated cat)

Pattern: Kittyville hat from Stitch n Bitch
Yarn: Berroco Peruvia in Avocado, less than 1 skein

Needles: Takumi bamboo size 8

Notes: My knitting impulses seem to be strong lately.  Last night I thought “Hmm… I’ve never made that kitty hat I wanted to last year.”  Followed by “Man, that Peruvia (from the Tilted duster) is not froggable!”  I combined the two, and now I have a hat that cements my “crazy cat lady” image.  I left off the earflaps, because I don’t care for them, and I decreased more quickly than the pattern called for since Peruvia has a pretty large row gauge.  My ears are done in garter stitch, since I didn’t like how they looked in seed stitch.  It was really hard placing the ears, but I managed!  It’s soft and warm, and I like it quite a bit!

Leon, however, is not amused.  He seems to be convinced that this is some sort of grotesque mockery.

Poor kitty.  He is so mistreated.

I swatched for Veste Everest last night, using some heather green cascade 220 I have in the stash, and I think I will cast on tonight.  Hopefully it will be a quick project, and certainly I could use a vest!  At the same time I’m planning on making the wrap I spoke of yesterday.  I’m wearing my CPH today, and I just love Kathmandu Aran so much that I want to work with it again!

FO: Swing Scarf (+WIPs “The all teal edition”)

Pattern: Swing Scarf, from Exquisite Little Knits

Yarn: Tilli Thomas Disco Lights in Jade, almost 1 skein

Needles: US 8

Notes:  Honestly, this is so simple you don’t need a pattern.  It probably took about 4 hours to knit over 19 stitches.  It ended up being about 60″ long, including the tassels.  The pattern said to go to 70″, but I know from experience that silk scarves stretch majorly, and indeed this does grow a bit when I wear it.  It has not been blocked, but if it ever is wet I know it will stretch.  The tassels are actually more like fringe – I tried tassels, but as it turns out making tassels with this yarn is not so easy.  It looks fine, and is a bit less fussy this way anyway.   The color is beautiful, and I loved knitting with the yarn.  Unlike some yarns with 2 strands, this yarn showed almost no desire to separate or knit unevenly.  The garter stitch shows off the sequins much better than some of the other stitches I tried.  What more is there to say?  It’s sparkle y, and so I love it!

WIPs (present and future)

Now that I have put the red yarn I was using on hiatus, I am happily working on another pair of socks.  These are the Anastasia socks from Pepperknit and I love them.  They will be my first successful toe up socks, or so I hope!

I’m still working on the cluster stitch scarf as well, and it is slightly slow going because of the clusters, but it won’t take too long.  I did make an interesting discovery – the photo that accompanies the scarf in the book is somewhat… wrong.  Either the pattern has errata, or the sample scarf is incorrect.  Following the pattern gives you straight edges, not wavy ones like in the photo (I have checked Ravelry, and I am not doing anything wrong – the other scarves are the same!)  There is no errata.  It doesn’t really matter to me, since I like the straight edges, although I did have to block the end to make sure it wasn’t going to curl.

I’m planning on starting the Logan River Wrap from the current IK next.  I love the idea of having a tweedy wrap, and it gives me an opportunity to use up some Kathmandu aran.

At least this yarn only has teal flecks, right?  So maybe I have a teal problem.  When we were at the LYS the other day, I instructed Marc to not let me buy any teal, and he happily complied, although he had to remind me at least twice.  I used to not let myself buy green yarn, thinking that I had too much, but as it turns out I have an entirely different problem.  Ah well… at least it looks good with my hair!  There is a really pretty finished version of this wrap on Ravelry, so while I don’t like the magazine photos at all (is it the color or pose?) I am confident that it will be pretty!

I need to choose my next sweater project, but it seems like I have too many choices.  I’m thinking about making a vest – either Veste Everest or the vest I showed a little bit ago from the new Knitsimple (the one with pockets – love the pockets!)  This is mostly because I want a break from knitting sleeves – the endless stockinette on Emily and the Gathered Pullover really took it out of me , and besides, I like vests!

I was thinking of the Colette pullover, but I think I will make the Transitions gloves first for more colorwork practice.  I can knit fair isle two handed, but here is my question for the more experienced – what should I do to make the floats that go in between DPNs more even?  Mine are always odd looking.

Book Reviews

I (happily) was given lots of yarny books for Christmas.  Over the next few weeks I will review: 101 Designer One Skein wonders, Knitting Little Luxuries, Favorite Socks, Sensual Knits, Sensual CrochetLacy Crochet, and a few other small books (Yes, I gave Marc a list to pass around.)

Today I will talk about two crochet books, Vintage Crochet by Susan Cropper, and  a new Japanese Book I got in the mail last week.

Vintage Crochet is a book of patterns by various designers, complied by the same author as Pretty Knits.  It’s certainly a pretty book, well photographed and full of soft focus photos.  It has a few sweaters, 2 headbands, a few afghans, a pretty baby sweater, a cute stuffed rabbit, and the blanket pictured on the photo and lots more (although not, I don’t think, the pillows on the cover… correct me if I have missed them, but I think they aren’t there.)

I want to like this book, because I love crochet, and because I love the idea of a book of updated vintage items, but something is missing for me.  I think that some of the designs are made in yarns that are too thick for them (what is the fear of small yarns in modern books?  Crochet is fast either way!)  Some of the projects are cute, such as the ones shown below.  In spite of the fact that I want very badly to give the model a comb, the sweaters are lovely, especially the motif sweater.  But… there are practically no schematics listed.  For the motif sweater, you get a back length measurement and a vague hem measurement.  There is a sort of diagram for the motifs, but why no real schematics?  I really can’t understand publishing a book today without including these details.  I am extremely disinclined to make any sort of large project from this book because of the lack of detail.

There are some very pretty patterns, and I will confess that I am not sorry I got the book as a gift.  It does contain a ripple pattern that is very much like the soft wave afghan that has been so popular this year.  I really like the baby sweater and the rabbit, and even the impractical patterns like the egg cosies are cute. It’s up to you to decide whether the lack of schematics bothers you.  For the non clothing patterns it may be ok, but it’s certainly is something to be aware of!  BTW, if you are a knitter, I have heard the same complaint about the author’s other book, Pretty Knits.  It isn’t the first book to do this (wasn’t Sarah Dallas’ Vintage Knits the same way?) but it always disappoints me.

 

Cape, Shawl, Stole, Bolero

ISBN: 9784021904189

Purchased: Saucy Louise, but it is available on YesAsia and Amazon Japan as well.

I really like this book.  As promised by the cover (no, I cannot read Japanese and have no idea what else it says) it contains nothing but the items above (ok, with a few scarves.)  It contains 11 basic patterns, most of which are shown more than once, in different yarns with different ways of embellishing them.  Whether you will love this book like I do depends primarily on how much you love the capelet.  Me… I love a capelet, and don’t care a bit if I look costume y in them.  This book is charted out the way all Japanese books are.  It has step by step directions for the challenging parts of each pattern (real photographs – so helpful!)  It has a glossary of common Japanese crochet symbols in the back, although I also own a guide to the crochet symbols because I found that they are not always covered in the back of the book.

The hardest part for me is figuring out what weight of yarn is being used for each pattern.  I know how to find the gauge information on the charts, but I’m not always certain what the gauge is being measured in.  The first pattern I’m planning to try will be either the brown capelet with the flower or either of the red shawls.  I actually really like those boleros, at least on the mannequins, so perhaps someday I will try one.  I would love to know what yarns are used for the brown scarf… they are so pretty!  The book is published by Olympus yarns, which I have seen in the US, but not very often.

This came at the same time as my new hooks for thread.  I’m very pleased with them – they are more comfortable to hold, and I like the double ended hooks.  I will try them out soon!

The obligatory post holiday post!

I’m very glad to report that all of my choir’s Christmas performances went very well! I was so nervous all day Monday that I couldn’t eat, but in the end it was all fine. Hopefully it will get easier from here on out! Easter is very early this year, so after a 2 week break we are going to start tackling that season!

We had Christmas with my Mom on Christmas day after church, and then we drove up to Cincinnati for Marc’s family Christmas. Marc’s family is much larger than mine (I’m the only child of divorced parents) so it’s always nice to see lots of people.

I gave Danica to Marc’s sister, and she seemed to like it. I’m happy with the decision to give it away – I just was not going to wear it because it was too warm for our climate, but she lives in Wisconsin where she really needs some big warm scarves!

I made Marc a set of Scrabble Tile cufflinks, and I also turned a set of travel scrabble tiles into refrigerator magnets, so he can spell out all his favorite words!

I got a fair amount of work done on my Cluster Stitch scarf on the trip, so hopefully that will be finished soon. I also worked on my socks, but unfortunately the yarn seems to be cursed, and started pooling again. I ripped, and then I decided to save the yarn for a nice scarf or something. Instead, I’m going to use this yarn (Razzytazzyknits in Slytherin) to try some toe up socks. We will see… I don’t want to curse myself again!

My next sweater is going to be (hopefully) the Colette pullover from the Winter 07/08 Interweave knits. Today was the after Christmas sale at Sophie’s, and Marc took me there as part of my Christmas present. I was able to buy some Inox metal DPNs, so I hope I like those for the Colette pullover’s sleeves. It was a yarny Christmas for me! I received several books, all of which will get reviewed in the upcoming weeks, and then there is yarn I got to pick out myself! All except the first two are from the Sophie’s sale.

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

1. Shibuiknits sock in Mulberry and Peacock, to make the Transitions gloves. 2. Noro Kureyon Sock 3. Manos wool 4. Baby Cashmerino 5. Mondial Extrafine for the puff stitch scarf from Vogue Crocheted Scarves 6. Louisa Harding grace, for a pair of fingerless gloves from Knitting Little Luxuries, which I haven’t reviewed yet. 7. Araucania Ranco semi solid, just because.

Small amounts of yarn, because while I have a ton of sweater yarn, I have very little yarn to make smaller projects with, and lately I am enjoying working on those along with my sweater projects. I also got several accessory books for Christmas (Knitting Little Luxuries and 101 Designer one skein wonders) and I’d like to try a few projects from them, so for once I was able to let myself buy small quantities of yarn.

I may post again later with a book review. I hope everyone who celebrates Christmas had a good one!

FO: Gathered Pullover

Pattern: Gathered Pullover, Interweave Knits, Winter 07/08

Size: XS (32.5″)

Yarn: Brown Sheep Naturespun Sport in Deep Sea, 4 – 5 skeins

Notes: It was finished for Christmas!  Here you see me on Christmas morning, after many a Christmas Eve mass and on my way to the final Christmas mass.    My only modification was to knit the body 1/2″ longer than called for in the pattern.  I am pretty short waisted, so if you are long waisted I would consider adding even more length.  I find that the rolling hems are not bothersome at all, especially on the sleeves.  I did wet block everything, and that really stopped the incredible curling.  The yarn was nice, but not terribly soft, and I’m not sure it will wear really well.  It did soften up after I washed it with lots of conditioner.  I found the arms to be very small for the armholes, but I made it work… be prepared for lots of pinning in place!  This was my first time sewing arms in that were already knit in the round, and I really did not like it at all.  I definitely prefer sewing in my sleeves flat!  In spite of that, the seams really look pretty nice.  I picked up less stitches for the neckline than called for (I used the 3/4 rule for the sides, and 1 for every stitch in the back) but it seems to have worked out just fine.  The color here isn’t totally accurate.  The actual color may be a tad more green, but it looks close on my monitor.  I love the color.

I found the pattern to be error free, if a bit tedious because of all the stockinette.  Be aware that the sleeves on the XS size are pretty small.  This is 1″ of negative ease on me, and it fits exactly the way I would like it to.  If you’re interested in this pattern I do recommend it – make sure to go with a sport weight yarn, in spite of the gauge, because the loose gauge really makes the top nice and drapey, and lightweight yet warm.

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday.  I am finally free of the stress of the Christmas season, and finally get to enjoy a little bit of time off.

Are you listening to your yarn?

Every once in awhile you come across a “problem yarn.” You all know what I’m talking about – that yarn which looked so pretty in the skein, but for which you cannot seem to find a pattern that will work. I’m often guilty of trying to force my yarns to fit. For instance, I have started and ripped at least 5 different sock patterns with my Figgy Pudding yarn. The Firestarter socks were annoyingly fiddly. I tried a pair of Traveler’s stockings, but the cuff was too tight. The leyburn socks were too small. A 2×2 ribbed socks pooled badly.

I finally listened to the yarn and found a compromise – some ribbing, so that it does not come out too small (the yarn is very skinny) but nothing too tight so the yarn can stripe the way it wants to.

These are the Madder Ribbed socks from Knitting Vintage Socks. Spiraling like that is ok, pooling… not so much. This is a pretty wide rib, so the yarn isn’t pooling too much. I may try a short row heel on these, so that I don’t get ugly pooling at the heel.

Another example of not listening to your yarn: I bought 2 skeins of Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sport in Baltic Sea from the Loopy Ewe over a year ago. I bought them to make armwarmers, but quickly realized that armwarmers in variegated yarn are not my thing. Recently I tried a seafoam lace pattern (recently posted here) but it was too muddy looking. I love the colors, but they looked so ugly when knit up.

Apparently, what this yarn really wanted was to be crocheted. Check it out – no pooling, and the colors look just as pretty as they did in the skein! This is the Fiesta Cluster Stitch scarf pattern from the 2nd volume of Crocheted scarves (Vogue: knitting on the go series.) This is a little lighter than the actual colors – they blend much more in real life, but I liked how clear the stitch pattern was in this photo.

And finally… an accurate photo of the color of the Gathered pullover.

The first sleeve is going quickly, and if I could stop starting new things I could maybe finish it – ah well! I’m enjoying all the accessories I’m working on now, and it will be done soon either way!