Saturday, January 22, 2011

some FOs, come out of hiding

I've been lax in posting on here of late, and it's come to my attention that several finished objects of mine have fallen through the cracks. So here's a post about all of them!

Pattern: Hawthorne by Susanna IC
Yarn: Malabrigo Merino Worsted in Pearl Ten
Started: October 4, 2010
Finished: November 1, 2010
This was one of the most satisfying knits I've ever completed. The pattern was perfect, the yarn was perfect, the color was perfect. I wear this scarf nearly every day.

Pattern: Fair Enough by Wendy Bernard
Yarn: Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Worsted in Grey Heather, Amethyst and Aztec Turquoise
Started: November 5
Finished: November 30
Whew! My NaKniSweMo entry was a little late; after a few false starts, I chose this pattern, and I'm glad I did. It's superwarm and flattering, too. At least I think so!

Pattern: Nuthatch Gloves by Susan Anderson-Freed
Yarn: Abundant Yarn and Dyeworks Naturally Dyed Merino Sock in Scarecrow and Shibui Knits Sock in Man Blue
Started: October 29
Finished: December 9
This was the beginning of my Christmas Crunch, and what a long, hard process it turned out to be. This pattern, however, was a delight to knit, and my mom loved them so much, she actually framed one of them.

Pattern: Ringwood Gloves by Rebecca Blair
Yarn: Araucania Nature Wool Solids in Ruby
Started: December 8
Finished: December 13
I made these for my grandma, whose hands are always cold.

Pattern: Men's Felted Moc Slippers by Julie Finocchiaro
Yarn: Cascade Yarns Eco+
Started: December 12
Finished: December 19
I made a pair of these for both my dad and my grandpa. I really liked the construction of this pattern; it was very thoughtful. And machine-felting them was easier than I would have guessed!

Pattern: Incognito by Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark
Yarn: Mission Falls 1824 Wool in Sprout, Macaw and Raven
Started: December 16
Finished: December 18
This was for Katie, who adored it. I learned how to duplicate stitch!

Pattern: Frosting by Thayer Preece
Yarn: Stitch Nation Full o' Sheep
Started: December 21
Finished: December 23
This was for Zach's mom. I was surprised at the quality of the Stitch Nation wool, which was purchased at JoAnn Fabrics. The color was great, but dyed my bamboo needles blue.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

confessions of a yarn hoarder

I love yarn. I love the way it feels, the way it smells, the way it knits up. I love the sheen of silk, the scritchyness of wool, the drape and softness of alpaca. And color. Oh lord, do I love color.

I think I started hoarding yarn after I got a steady-paying job. Yes, my big fat paycheck as an editor (or, at least what I thought was a big fat paycheck) seemed so big that it could buy all the yarn in the world. And buy I did.

Silk/wool blend in lavender that was so squooshy-soft I could hardly bear it?


Deep, luscious semi-solid violet wool/silk laceweight in a 900-yard hank?

Hell yes.

Handmaiden Sea Silk in a color that I would probably never wear?

Um, yes to that, too.

Anything and everything that caught my fancy, that tugged at my knitting heartstrings--off the shelf and into my embrace it did go. Once purchased, I would take my new yarn home, settle down with Ravelry, and begin hunting for the perfect project for my new prize, something that would use up as much yardage as possible, would show off the color/sheen/thick and thin texture most prominently, something that I could imagine as a finished product.

The problem with searching for perfection is that you never do really find it; I would make plans to knit a shawl/sweater/pair of mitts and then find something even more enticing. I would edit and re-edit my queue. I would search with ultra-specific filters: 300-327 yards, fingering weight ONLY, using the stranded colorwork technique. Then sulk when I couldn't find a pattern that remotely fit my preferences for X skein of yarn. As you can imagine, I wasn't getting much actual knitting done.

It had to stop. So, when January 1 rolled around, I didn't resolve to lose weight or go to bed earlier, as many of us do. I resolved to stop being a yarn hoarder. For the next half of the year, with only a few exceptions, I would simply not be allowed to buy a skein of yarn. To some, it may not sound like a very long time, but I was thinking in baby steps, and knew that if I had made it an entire year, I would have crumbled for cashmere within the first week.

More importantly, this resolution would require me to--gasp!--knit from my stash. For gifts, for myself, it didn't matter. I would not pay a dollar for yarn until after June.

Today, I moved my stash from the bunny room to my room. (Let's face it; storing fiber next to bunnies with shedding tendencies wasn't the brightest idea I've ever had.) And as I went through it, dusting it off and picking out bits of hay from the skeins, something magical started to happen. I rediscovered yarn I had forgotten about. I marveled over skeins that had been long-lost in the bottom of the drawer. I fell in love all over again. It struck me that I didn't need to buy yarn to love it; that I was happy with what I already had.

I am allowing myself one skein of yarn while I'm in Arizona in February (as it's my tradition to buy yarn as a souvenir on my trips) and anyone is welcome to give me yarn as a gift (because I really don't have control over that, do I?) but otherwise, no buying, no hoarding.

Will I make it until June? Or will I wither away from yarn starvation? I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

NaKniSweMo 2010: Week 2 Update

Holy sleeves, Batman! Is it already the middle of November? I've successfully gotten over the hump of the lower body of the sweater (which was getting pretty boring, with all that stockinette) and now I'm pushing through the sleeves. Can I just say that I hate sleeves? They're only slightly better than socks. I keep telling myself, yes, you have to make two, because nobody wants to wear a one-armed sweater.

Once the sleeves are finished, I will connect them to the rest of the body, and continue knitting the yoke (which is the part I'm looking forward to; yay colorwork!) I purchased some pretty turquoise yarn to go with the deep purple I already have. I can't wait to break through all of this monotonous gray and leap into some color!

Week 2 Update:
Yardage: ~500 yds
Stitches knit: ~19,656
Notes: Sleeves, sleeves, sleeves. I'm crying a little inside, because I know I have to do another one.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

NaKniSweMo 2010: Week 1 Update

In my opinion, there is nothing better than a cozy, handknit sweater. Introducing it to your wardrobe is like welcoming an old friend back into your life. This sweater will keep you warm, accompany you on a myriad of adventures (possibly with snow) and make you look good doing it.

I have been reminded of how much I love knit sweaters during this NaKniSweMo. The pattern I've chosen is a simple one, with only a few details to set it apart and make it special: a little bit of stranded colorwork, some steeking. The yarn is simple and hardy, but still soft; it gives me the feeling that, once made, this sweater will be around for a long, long time.

I don't think that NaKniSweMo is really about the rush. If you don't make it, you don't make it; what's going to happen? Will the sweater unravel upon itself and burst into flames? No, this month is about the celebration of the sweater. About how, like a good friend, it will be there for you during the coldest hours of winter, faithfully buffering you from all matter of nasty weather.

Week 1 Update:
Yardage: ~220 yds
Stitches knit: ~8000
Notes: It's a lot of stockinette stitch. Good, mindless knitting in front of the TV. I'm surprising myself at the progress I'm making.

Friday, November 5, 2010

a very steampunk halloween

Look, it's already November 5 (happy Guy Fawkes Day), and I still haven't posted about my Halloween crafting endeavors. A pox upon me, and all that.

I was invited to two parties this year: Val and Roger Smith's (haunted manor theme, with a lot of really kick-ass decor; you can read about it here), and Tony and Kara Moore's (for The Walking Dead premiere, an AMC show based on a graphic novel that Tony illustrates!). Zach suggested that we go as steampunks; I thought that was a swell idea. I set about doing some research, and found an entire fascinating world of Victorian costumery, various cogs and clock parts, homemade goggles, corsets and ray guns. I had fun assembling these costumes.

My costume consisted of:
  • 1 black corduroy skirt: $2, from the thrift store
  • 1 puffy-sleeve, turquoise silk shirt: $30 (it was my big splurge)
  • 1 buttoned, tailored vest: already owned
  • 1 pair of black slouchy boots: borrowed from Rachael
  • 1 pair of black lace stockings: $10
  • 1 pair of steampunk goggles: I crafted these from a $4 pair of lenses found in silvercrow's shop on Etsy, some copper shaping wire and an old purse strap
  • 1 pair of corseted fingerless gloves: I made these from a pattern from Sweet Mama, Small Sugar, and some Malabrigo that I had leftover from my Hawthorne shawl. I searched high and low for velvet ribbon and finally found some at Hobby Lobby. The buttons, which are tarnished and very steampunk, also came from Hobby Lobby.

Zach's costume required a lot less shopping:
  • 1 pair of khaki cargo pants: already owned
  • 1 camel-colored wool jacket: already owned
  • 1 white dress shirt: already owned
  • 1 buttoned vest: $1.50, from the thrift store. It was much larger when we bought it, so I took it in about 1" on each side.
  • 1 pair of cowboy boots: already owned, believe it or not.
  • 1 driving cap: already owned
  • 1 pair of steampunk goggles: These I had to jerry-rig a bit more vigorously. I used this tutorial on Instructables to make the lenses from two large plastic bottle caps, some clear, hard plastic from a container, and the other old purse strap I had lying around. The original tutorial called for mutilating a baseball and spray painting the resulting pieces. However, the spray paint didn't adhere, making this step an epic fail, and I had to scramble to figure out the logistics from there. Let's just say I had a lot of old purses I had planned on giving to Goodwill, and they are now all cut up and trashed. The end result required copious amounts of Gorilla Glue, and I wasn't quite happy with them, but oh well.

In short, Halloween was a blast, and I think we looked pretty damn good, too.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

NaKniSweMo 2010

Sweater fever is upon me, people. NaKniSweMo 2010 (that's National Knit a Sweater in a Month, natch) is in full swing, and I've already scrapped one pattern, casted on for another, and then realized that I want to up the needle size from US6 to US7 in an attempt to get a better fit. In other words, we're four days in, and I have nary a whisper of a project started.

But that's just part of the craziness of knitting a sweater in a month. Par for the course, really. The sweater I had originally picked, the Looking Glass Sweater, is not a bad sweater. It is a lovely sweater. I planned on adding some waist shaping, scrapping the picot edging on the sleeves and bottom hem and making the sleeves full length.

I had spun three separate colors of merino, in sage green, turquoise and deep purple, for the "windows" created by slipping stitches of the main color, a light heather gray. I even was a good girl and swatched and blocked. See?

About 20 rows in, however, I realized that the yarn I had spun was too bulky, and was creating many, many rumples and bumples all through the yoke. I worried that no amount of blocking would be able to rectify this. So I frogged, like a big chicken, and started over with some Noro from my stash. Only to find, of course, that those colors just weren't doing it for me.

So, back to the drawing board. I had a limited amount of my main color, so most sweaters I looked at (filled with cabling and intricate shaping, no less) were immediately disqualified because they required too much yardage. I finally found this cute cardigan designed by Wendy Bernard, which has just enough fair isle to keep things interesting, and is also just a tad sexy, with all that waist shaping and negative ease.

I'm slightly worried that 37.75" across the bust might be too much negative ease, so I'm going up a needle size, and hoping for the best. I'm also a bit skeptical of doing colorwork on the wrong side (which her pattern calls for) so this may also be my first foray into steeking. Eeek!

More updates as they come. I'd love for you to join me! If I'm a testament to anything, it's still not too late to cast on.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

patternlove <3

In the spirit of Halloween, I bring you the work of Anne-Marie Dunbar of, who makes some really kick-ass knitted monster masks. I love the sculptural detail she brings to her creations; they are truly marvelous.





Halloween is 12 short days away! Start knitting, folks!