If I seem absent…

there is a reason – we bought a house! Or rather, I should say we are in the process of buying a house – our offer has been accepted, but our place needs to sell first. I’m a little nervous that it will all fall through, but I’m trying to be positive! We rented a storage pod and half our belongings (including at least half my yarn!) now reside in storage until the sale. Right now I’m trying to clean the house thoroughly for the first showings, and we will have an open house this weekend. Our real estate agent (yes, we finally found one) is wonderful and found us exactly the perfect house, so I hope he can work his magic selling ours as well!

I didn’t think to take any photos while we were in the house, but here is a photo from the listing (the photos in the listing are all terrible, but look at the pretty fireplace – there are 4 similar fireplaces in the house, all different colors.)

It will be so pretty when it doesn’t have smudged pink walls anymore! It’s a beautiful old house, and while it needs some cosmetics I don’t mind, since it’s getting us a larger house than I thought we could afford. Besides, if there’s one thing I enjoy it’s fixing up a house – it’s like my childhood all over again (my dad was in the restoration and antiques business, so I was forever in old houses.) It is of course nerve wracking to make such a large decision, but this house had all the things we wanted (room for a music studio and waiting area for me, large open 3rd floor for Marc, room for me to have a formal dining room and living room in addition to the piano studio. It also has street parking, something which was lacking with the last house we made an offer on. All the woodwork is lovely and unpainted, it requires only a bit of TLC, but it won’t require stripping paint, thank goodness! The kitchen is a bit 1940s, but I have plans for that as well…not a total redo, but something to make it bright and pretty. It’s at least 3 times the size of my current kitchen, I won’t know what to do! All the floors are hardwood, no carpeting for me to deal with either (it kills my allergies.)

So… keep your fingers crossed that we will sell our condo quickly and be into our new home – and thanks to everyone for your well wishes so far!

I haven’t knit a bit I’ve been so busy, but I did wind up all the yarn for my next knit, the dayflower camisole.

I’m using the Classic Elite Premiere called for in the pattern. I got gauge on size 5 needles, but I think I’m going to go down to size 4s in order to get a slightly smaller size for some negative ease – cotton stretches, and I think it’s best to have a tighter fit on the top with an empire waist. Besides, I find that my gauge always is larger when I knit in the round, and I have to admit that I have never mastered swatching in the round.

FO: Drawstring Chemise

Pattern: Drawstring Chemise by Connie Chang Chinchio, Interweave Knits Spring 2008

Yarn: Rowan Cotton Glace, 5 skeins

Needles: US 2 and 1

Notes: A knitted camisole that’s wearable? I can’t believe it – I swore off knitting camisoles after the a-line tank last year (it looks cute, but worsted cotton is not practical for a tank.) I made two small modifications to this pattern. The first was to add 1.5″ in length. I added this length after the waist decreases. I would definitely recommend adding length unless you are very short in the torso. The second (small) modifications was to knit an extra set of decreases on the back piece only. I don’t know if it made a difference, but I was concerned about it being too boxy, and it’s definitely not. I chose to knit the 30″ size, which is smaller than I would usually go for. I ended up with a 31″ bust after a little gauge change, and it fits perfectly with 2.5″ of negative ease. Keep in mind that it does have a drawstring, and you can cinch the bust to fit a little, but not too much without wrinkling.

Believe it or not, this is actually the first time I’ve knit i-cord (for the drawstring.) I hated knitting it, but it really does look nice and adds to the overall polished feel of this knit. I had a little trouble getting started on the lace – I would recommend drawing a line on the chart where your size starts and stops to help make it more clear. By the time I got to the inset I had no more problems. This isn’t really wearable without a layer underneath, but I expected that, and I think it looks perfectly fine over a thin tank top.
I really enjoyed this knit – thanks to Connie for a great pattern!

Well, that’s done

Thanks for the advice about my cabinets – I knew what I had to do, I was just hoping to weasel out of the work. I’ve spent the past two days taking my cabinets from this:

To this:

They do like nicer, I have to admit (by the way, the first picture is after I started removing the old finish… they were not that bad, although several were just missing their finish.) The white I painted them is much cooler than the old ivory, and I think it helps to tone down the walls (I love green, but I know not everyone does… but I am not painting the kitchen. It was awful painting the first time! I also have to say… never again (on the cabinets.) My husband was out of town all week, which is why I was in the cleaning/fixing frenzy. I painted them on the balcony and a few in the stairwell, since those are the areas I can keep the cats out of. If we weren’t moving I would have just bought new cabinets, as these are really just not nice. They had very little adhesive on them, except for two, so removing that wasn’t bad, but to my (admittedly critical) eye they look painted. Better than before, but not what I would want long term.

I also spruced up the bathroom with new rugs, shower curtain and bath mat, and the bedroom with a new duvet cover and general tidying up (I have 4 bags of clothes for Goodwill, my closet is so empty!)

The rest of the place looks pretty good, except for the closets that need to be emptied.

I have barely knit all week, which is sad, but hopefully soon I will be back on track. I’m like this with projects – I need them done once I start them, and I’m very single minded until they are finished. I apparently don’t believe in doing a little at a time.
Hopefully soon there will be knitting photos (and book reviews – I got a few books as my reward for the week of super hard work!)

The great cleaning divide.

I haven’t been here in a few days because I’ve been cleaning!   I’m trying to get the house ready for listing, and it’s a job and a half.  Fortunately, this is the kind of cleaning I enjoy (the kind where I get to throw things away… ah, such satisfaction!)  It isn’t leaving much knitting time though.  I have completed the backs of both my WIPs, and the drawstring chemise is perhaps 2 good knitting days away from completion (it would be closer, but I have not knit since Saturday… insane for me!)

I did swatch for the printed silk cardigan, and determined I need to find my size 2 addis, which I think are slightly larger than the knitpicks size 2s I have (the swatch on the bottom is on 2s and is slightly too small… I would just make a larger size but I don’t have that much yarn.)  The size 3s were way big.

I’m going to try and find my other size 2/3 needles, because the swatch on 3s is big, but the 2 is a bit small.

I’m trying to decide if I want to try painting the kitchen cabinets before we show the house.  Currently they are covered in melamine, but it’s very old and is coming off in sheets (we have two whole drawers with no paint at all.)  I’m confident I could easily remove the rest of it, but it seems like an awful lot of trouble… have I been watching too many of those “sell you house” shows?  Will people reject the condo because the cabinets need painting?

Anyway, I will be back soon with real knitting content.  Just as soon as I crawl out from beneath this vast pile of organizing…

Progress shots

I managed to make it through my weekend. I was so glad to see that many of you agree with me about staying in other people’s houses – nice to know that I’m not the only one! One Saturday we drove to IKEA, since we don’t have one in Louisville, and since traffic was so awful I got to work on my drawstring chemise. Well… mostly I got to redo a whole bunch of rows several times, but once I got past the first pattern repeat I had the lace pattern down. The key, I think, is making sure that you’re on track every time you reach the center stitch. That way you catch mistakes pretty quickly and don’t have to go back very far. I’m now into the stockinette portion. My gauge has loosened a little, from 6st/in to 5.75 st/in. Fortunately, I don’t mind it being a tiny bit bigger since I was worried about the size anyway. I love this color, although the lace pattern doesn’t show as clearly as it would in a lighter shade. I’m enjoying this one, and the best part is realizing that I don’t have to make any sleeves!

Unlike Joy, where I have to knit everything longer to account for the shrinkage. But this cardigan has 3/4 length sleeves anyway. I’ve now reached the point where I’m supposed to bind off for the armholes, but I’m not sure that it’s long enough – it’s really hard to measure this pattern because of the bumpiness. I also think that it will be rather short after shrinking, but maybe that’s the style of the cardigan? It’s hard to tell from the photos in the book.

I love knitting this – because it’s always changing you never get bored, even though you are essentially knitting stockinette with a few eyelet rows thrown in.

I finally got my yarn for the Printed Silk cardigan today as well – I’m being a total copycat of Lolly’s, but I adore this color!

When everyone was complaining about the colors in the spring issue I didn’t quite get it – as a redhead corals are great on me, though I can understand why they would be hard to wear.  I do get the yellow hate though -I look just fine in yellow, but it’s a color I’ve never liked, even as a paint color.  My last house had a yellow kitchen and I hated it – so cheery when I was stumbling towards my coffee in the morning.   Actually, I’m never sure what color to paint a kitchen.  I painted our kitchen green, but I find the color a little bright and would certainly not choose it again.  I’m hoping that potential buyers don’t see the lime green kitchen and run away, but I am not painting that thing again.  It took 3 coats and lots of standing on countertops.

I haven’t swatched yet, but I can tell the yarn is nice.  It has a little sheen from the silk, and the yardage is great – 155 yards a skein!  This will be my next knit after I finish one of my current WIPs.

We’re approaching summer now, which is a good time for me.  I get 4 weeks off from teaching in the summer, and my choir goes on summer break as well, both of which greatly reduce my overall stress level (and increase knitting time!)

Knitting on the road

We’re traveling to Cincinnati tonight so that Marc can see his Mom before Mother’s day. Going out of town, even if only for a night, always inspires in me a frenzy of casting on for projects. After all, what am I to do when I’m awake for 4 hours after everyone goes to bed at 10 pm? I’m not even sure that I went to bed at 10 when I was eight years old, but to be fair I come from a long line of insomniacs, so my sleeplessness is kind of a family tradition. Marc loves to stay with friends and relatives when we go out of town, and here is one place where we really differ. I like to have my own hotel room, my own tv, and the ability to not feel like a guest in someone’s home (it always makes me nervous, no matter how nice they are… I know my habits are different from theirs.)

All things considered though, I suppose I should just be grateful that Marc doesn’t want to go camping. My last boyfriend before Marc liked to go camping, especially when it was freezing cold outside. It was one cold November morning, huddled around a campfire under a blanket watching him come back from an early morning hike to get excited about eating the MREs his friend gotten for him that I had the thought “perhaps this is not going to work out.” You see, I don’t think that being cooked on a stick automatically makes things taste better, and that is a fundamental philosophical difference.

Fortunately, there is no chance of Marc asking me to go camping, and because of that I think I can live with staying in other people’s houses every once in awhile. At least, so long as they can live with seeing how grumpy I am without coffee made from my own coffeemaker.

Anyway, I have gotten off track (as I so often do… I am very easily distracted.) I couldn’t decide what to cast on for. I have Tuscany on the needles, but I’m not in a hurry for it to get finished – I won’t wear it for awhile anyway. The humidity levels are already beginning to rise here. You know how some people are AC people and some want the windows open? Marc wants the windows open, but I can’t stand how sticky that makes everything. Actually, I’m more of an “AC only at night” person, because that’s the only time I get hot. I rarely use AC during the day because I’m cold natured.

And… off track again. Anyway, I cast on for 2 different sweaters because I couldn’t decide. The first is Joy from Nectar.

I’m really enjoying knitting with the denim, and the pattern is fun. The scalloped cast on took forever, but the effect is really pretty! The only thing I don’t like is the lack of a chart for the eyelet pattern – it’s one of those that says things like Rows 30-37: Repeat rows 1-7. I find those a little hard to keep up with.

At the same time, remembering that I wanted to start another tank, I cast on for the Drawstring Camisole from the Summer IK. And then I messed up the lace 5 times, ripped out and started again. Now I think I’m on track (I was having trouble figuring out how many stitches to keep in stockinette at the edges when I can’t complete a pattern rep in my size.)

This time I seem to be on track.  I’m knitting the XS, which has a 30″ bust.  I hope the size works out ok – my commercially made knitted tanks measure about 30″ in the bust, so I should be fine, it just seems small.  I did notice that my swatch stretched easily, so I think it could use some negative ease.  I love knitting with Cotton Glace, but it is harder on the hands than the denim.  I really love Rowan yarns.  I think the RYC line is often overpriced, but the Rowan line yarns are great quality – I have not been disappointed yet!

And now I must pack.  I hope you’re having a great Friday!

Swatch day and library day

Thank you for all the nice comments on my tuxedo top – I wore it out last night, and I am happy to report that it experienced no stretching or wrinkling (I was worried about both.) Now that the tuxedo top is finished I’ve been swatching, trying to figure out what my next sweater will be.

Yarn: Ella Rae Bamboo silk in grass green

Gauge: 5.25 st/in on US 5s

Notes: I love this yarn, and wish I’d bought more while it was on sale. It’s a very smooth soft yarn with a nice drape. I’m planning on using it for the Wallis cardigan from the new IK. It has a listed gauge of 20 st/4 in, but I think it knits up nicer a little tighter than that. I also swatched at 5.5 st/in and it was nice. Curiously, it has the same stats (yardage and fiber content) as Vickie Howell Love, but it is much cheaper. I haven’t used Love because it’s so expensive, so I can’t say if it’s really a copy, but I would consider this yarn first because of the nicer price point.

Yarn: Rowan Denim in Memphis

Gauge: 5 st and 7 rows/in on US 4 needles, prewashing

Notes: Denim is a surprisingly nice knitting experience. Of course, with a name like denim I expected it to feel like knitting with a pair of jeans, and it doesn’t exactly. It’s not soft, but it’s not unpleasant to knit either. And I just love this color to death – it’s so vibrant, and the way it’s faded in parts gives the swatch a more interesting look than a plain blue. This swatch has been shrunk, resulting in the promised row shrinkage and an ever so slight width shrinkage (the label says it doesn’t do this, but my swatch did.) I may use size 5s for the actual sweater, I will have to make another swatch! This is for Joy from Nectar.

Yarn: Rowan 4 ply cotton in Aubergine

Gauge: 7 st/in on US 1 (2.25 mm) needles

Notes: Curiously, this time last year I tried to make a 4-ply cotton sweater and utterly failed to get gauge on even the tiniest of needles. Since then I had given up on the idea, but I really want to make Jasmine! It would seem that in the past year I have learned to control the looseness of my purl rows, and now I can achieve gauge only going down 1 needle size (or is it 2? I’m not sure if this is the smaller of the US 1 needles.) At any rate, not bat at all. This yarn feels distinctly different in this dark color than the light green I used before – maybe the darker dye makes the yarn feel smoother?

Yarn: Brown Sheep Cotton fine in Rue

Gauge: 6.5 st/inch in stockinette on US 2 (2.75 mm) needles

Notes: I’m swatching for the Apres surf hoodie here, but I’m not sure that I like this yarn for that purpose. It works ok, and the gauge is fine, but it feels rather thin and doesn’t have the softness the cashcotton would have. I also think the definition in the lace could be nicer. I’m just worried that the cashcotton might set off my allergies. I could make it in a wool silk blend though, making it a little more of a winter hoodie. I’m not sure, and at any rate I won’t get to this design for awhile, so I can mull over my choices. I think the Cotton fine would make an excellent summer scarf or stole…

I was hoping to start the Printed Silk cardigan now, but my yarn is not here. I’m a bit annoyed with the store I ordered it from… they have had my order for almost a week with no word, and they have yet to respond to my email inquiry either. If it’s backordered I would like to know so that I can order it somewhere else. Ugh… so annoying! In the meantime I can always start another short sleeved project to tide me over… I prefer to knit all my short sleeved sweaters early so that I can wear them all summer. Come autumn I get cold in a hurry, so they have a limited wearing season.

Today is Thursday, which also means the day that I go to the library! Since I was sick all week I read an embarrassing amount, some of it really bad, but I do have 2 books to recommend.

Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell, is a sort of humorous travelogue, written as the author travels around visiting artifacts of presidential assassinations. Sounds grim I know, but I really loved this book! The author is a commentator on This American Life, and Marc and I are big NPR junkies (oh yeah, we’re cool!) and that’s why I initially picked this one out. It’s a strange book, and a little hard to explain, but if you like humor or travelogues or both I suggest picking it up!

Girl in a Box by Sujata Massey is one of a series of mysteries starring a half Japanese detective named Rei.  This is the first in the series I have read, but I’m planning on picking up another at the library this afternoon.  Rei goes undercover at a Japanese department store in this one.  There is a mystery, involving laundered money and gangsters, but what kept me interested was the detail about Japanese life, particularly the workings of the department store in question.  I have to admit I have a weakness for mysteries, but there are so many poorly written ones that finding anything decent can be a real trial.  This book was well written, and I really cared about what happened to the main character.