Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I present to you a little girl version of Juliet. This sweater was originally intended for my almost-three-year-old daughter, but I somehow was off on my gauge despite the fact that I took the time to make a swatch. So... this first little Juliet will be going to an older niece for her birthday. Yesterday, I purchased some yarn to make a second one that hopefully will fit my daughter!

The yarn is double stranded Bernat Satin Sport (listed as 22 spi on yarn label) in Meadow and Bernat Softee Baby (22 spi) in white. I didn't purchase the pattern, but instead went by pictures alone, those on the pattern site and ones that bloggers have posted. Already I can see that my version is different in more than one way. For example, I used YO raglan increases. Since I had no idea how the increases right before the lace section were spaced, I just did my own thing. Also, I guessed on the lace pattern and the spacing between each lace panel. I placed a K1 P1 K1 column in the center of each lace panel. At the hem I did four rows of garter stitch, the last row being the bind off row. Since the borders of the lace section curled in, I decided to edge the entire sweater in Lionbrand Vanna's Choice yarn in Taupe (a worsted weight yarn). I did two rows of single crochet, turning the work before doing the second row (I'm not a proficient crocheter, so I'm not sure if turning the work is standard.) The buttons are from JoAnn's. The button loops are crochet chains sewn on the edge.

If you click on my 2006 and 2007 knitting galleries at the right margin, you'll notice that I've added a few more FOs to the 2006 Gallery and finally added the 2007 Gallery. The 2007 Gallery has a few more FOs to be added: Blaze and a hopefully finished Fifi. I say hopeful because I might have to re-knit it if it's too small. There are a couple of baby items to add to the gallery as well. Coming soon!

Last year I read (and re-read for some books) through all of Jane Austen's works (well, OK, specifically her six major works). I really enjoyed seeing both the Colin Firth and Keira Knightley movie versions of Pride and Prejudice. I just LOVE the music in the Keira Knightley version! I rented it to watch this week, which has been and will be rainy -- perfect movie watching weather. Before having Ian, my 4-week-old, I was reading Jim Harrison's Legends of the Fall which also includes two other stories before the said title. I was in the middle of Revenge, but haven't picked up where I left off, yet plan to soon. Speaking of Ian, gotta go now!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Still Knitting, Just B-U-S-Y

Three months since my last post!!! I'm way behind in taking pictures of my FOs and haven't had much time to post either. I'm lucky if I get to sit at the computer longer than ten minutes before someone needs me. I'm amazed that I still squeeze in any knitting time considering the constant demands on my attention! My reading and Sudoku time has been severely cut short (due to the extreme distraction of my newborn and toddler), but luckily I can manage to occasionally mulitask while knitting.

The last time I didn't post for a while, I had been burned out from too much knitting. Then I got pregnant with my second child and was nauseous for several weeks. Since that post, I had a baby boy and have been trying to keep up with my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter while caring for him. Though I don't have any FOs to show with this post, I thought I'd mention that I'm organizing and editing my pictures and adding them to my Flickr gallery. So, they will be appearing sometime in the near future (however, notice that I don't even bother to predict when!).

Until then... Ciao :-)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Talk about excited! I've never visited www.littleknits.com until this evening and happened to find a favorite yarn: Peru Luxury (merino/alpaca/silk). I knit Alison's Scarf by Annie Modesitt with the chunky version of this yarn and absolutely loved the next-to-skin softness and bounce. The only place I could previously find this yarn was at A.C. Moore in Raleigh, NC. Since I no longer live in North Carolina, I was looking for a decent discount substitute for Cascade Indulgence (alpaca/angora blend) to make Blaze by Jenna Adorno. Several weeks ago, I thought I'd try CotLin (cotton/linen blend) by Knit Picks. But, I'm sooooo tired from waiting on it to be available. Plus, I want a little stretchiness and warmth to carry this sweater into late fall and possibly winter. By skein, Peru Luxury DK costs $2.99 on littleknits. However, I bought it by the bag, which is 10 skeins, and paid $25.75. Hope you're not interested in this exact color (a khaki beige) because I believe I bought the last bag!

Excluding the weaving in of ends, I'm finished with Fifi! I plan to run it through the wash (and steam the neckline if necessary) before taking pics, so it's not quite ready to display. Therefore, I'll postpone the knitting details until Fifi is ready. ...And there definitely won't be any pictures of me modeling it (for now, anyway)! I tried it on just for fun and got a pretty good laugh. I looked like one of those cartoon characters that wears a shirt two sizes too small with the lower half of my rounded abdomen and my belly button peeking out. On a more promising note, everything from above the bust fit OK. So I'm looking forward to wearing this top in the fall.

I still have to finish my second Jaywalker. When I finish the second sock, I plan to frog the toe of the first sock to correct my two mistakes: 1) the slipped stitches on the toe section (oops!); and 2) the donkey ears at the Kitchener-stitch toe. Trellis has been sitting unfinished for several weeks now. With this baby sweater, all I have to do is knit the collar and sew everything together. The only other project OTN, which is now on the back burner until fall, is my second Alison's Scarf using Classic Elite Miracle (an amazingly soft alpaca/tencel) yarn in Fundy Bay Blue. My two-year-old likes wearing my first Alison's Scarf (the one knit in Peru Luxury Chunky), so I thought I'd make a second one for next winter.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Let's Try This Again

My elann.com Sonata yarn for Fifi arrived Wednesday afternoon (a day early!). Here was my progress over the last two days. After finishing round 43 last night, I tried it on for size and determined that I had to frog it and start again: it was too wide across the front to stretch tightly at the neckline. The sleeves looked fine, but the width of the front and back were too gapey and and the neckline was much too high. I hadn't even gotten to round 51 yet which is the official place to stop and try on the size M that I was making. I know from making Green Gable, another top-down raglan, that negative ease is mandatory to help prevent the neckline from rolling outward, even if that means making a smaller size and adding short rows. I should've known better! All the pattern sizes use either a 120- or 140-st CO with varying numbers for the sleeves and front/back sections. Then, it's just a matter of continuing the raglan seam until the sleeves fit under the arms. I CO 140 sts for the size M/37.5" which uses 25 sts for the sleeves and 45 sts for the front/back sections. Due to my narrow shoulders and need for a shorter seam, I should've CO for a smaller size than my chest circumference determines (i.e., the S or XS). The S and XS use 25 sts for the sleeves and 35 sts for the front/back sections.

Here's what I've done and plan to do:

Instead of using size 7's, I used size 5's to CO 120 sts. Due to the smaller gauge, I had to use 16" circulars to be able to join in the round --wow! Then I did the first 5 rounds using the size 5's. Next, I plan on using size 6's for a few rounds and then switch to size 7's. When I get to the trying-on rounds, if everything looks fine I'll continue on and add short rows as needed. If the front and back are still too gapey at the point where the sleeves fit, I plan on frogging again and trying a 35-st CO for the sleeves to allow a shorter raglan seam and lower beginning neckline. If for some reason this doesn't work, I'll resort to a 35-st CO for the sleeves with a 25 st CO for the front and back. Sounds crazy, I know! But hey, whatever works to achieve the best fit.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

My Next Project: Fifi

Well, I joined a new knitalong and ordered my yarn for Fifi. I'd been waiting to order CotLin from Knit Picks for Blaze. But, the availability has been pushed back until 7/11/07. Who knows when CotLin will actually be available, so I decided to go ahead with Fifi. I won't be able to wear this top until the end of September at earliest. But, that's OK because it should still be warm outside.

The yarn I ordered for Fifi is elann.com Sonata. It was super hard to choose a color! I finally decided on Burgundy Rose (3919). Sonata is a DK yarn that I'm substituting for the more expensive Rowan Calmer for which the pattern calls. Calmer appears to have a chainette construction, while Sonata has a cable construction. Good enough for me! I've heard many people say that Sonata is very similar to Tahki Cotton Classic. I loved using Cotton Classic on my Green Gable. So, I don't think I'll have a problem paying $1.98/skein on a yarn similar to one I really like.

What am I working on now? The same as last time: Trellis (finishing) and Jaywalker (currently on the heel of 2nd sock). I still haven't posted a pic of the baby blanket I finished. Sometime, I'll remember to do it!

Before I forget... I discovered a neat little trick while reading Cat Bordhi's Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles: to avoid "donkey ears" at the edges of the Kitchener stitch toe, you "slip the outermost stitch on each end of each needle over its nearest neighbor, eliminating four stitches which might have gone boxy on you." My 1st Jaywalker sock has donkey ears, so this would've come in handy! Now I'll know what to do on the toe of the 2nd sock.

Friday, June 15, 2007

One Jaywalker Done

Wow, it's late! Anyway, here's my just-finished first Jaywalker sock. I thought I'd post it now since there isn't anyone else still up to interrupt me. I also finished my baby blanket a few days ago. When I get the chance I'll post pics of that, too. Besides, the second sock, all I have left to do is sew up Trellis.
I've been starting to think about what sweater to knit next. There are a few http://www.knitty.com/ patterns that would do well for fall, and I'm really taken with Fifi by http://www.frenchgirlknits.com/. Here are two pics, the original in green and a blogger's FO in sangria red:

Sunday, June 10, 2007

My Latest WIPs

This is what I've been working on (not including my almost-finished baby blanket)!

Many people will recognize the Jaywalkers by Grumperina and, for those who like knitty.com, you'll recognize the baby sweater as Trellis. I'm knitting the Jaywalkers in Regia Bamboo, color 1072. This yarn is so soft! It's 45% bamboo/40% superwash wool/15% polyamide. I almost bought the fingering weight Panda Cotton sock yarn in Chocolate Almonds. That will be my next yarn for socks if the Jaywalkers turn out. I've tried to knit socks before using all methods but didn't really enjoy it like I do when knitting sweaters (sweaters rule!). However, I did end up learning how to use my knowledge of knitting on two circulars to knit seamless sleeves. So, my efforts haven't been totally wasted! I also got experience working on dpns which work out quite nicely when working seamless short sleeves. Actually, I've never used true sock yarn before or tried making a pair of socks for myself. So, maybe this time will work out -- let's hope so! Trellis is being knit in Svale (Dale of Norway) in Jade (7432). It's a cotton/viscose/silk yarn that's very comfortable with nice stitch definition. The color reminds me of the turquoise SWTC Bamboo I knit Lotus Blossom Tank with last summer. The pattern has been fun to knit -- the combination of cables and twists make it fun.

Time to knit!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Latest FOs

Finally, some pictures to show! The cardigan was meant to be a Christmas present for my dad. But, it took a lot longer to make than I thought. Those cables might be the cause! Since my last post, I frogged the terracotta top -- it was too big. Casting on the second time, I decided to start from scratch. I did a provisional CO below the bust and worked upward from there. Then I worked downward, adding some short rows to make the front longer like other maternity tops. When the front and back were finished, I grafted the shoulders together with Kitchener Stitch. This was tricky to do when I got to the seed stitch at the neckline since seed stitch alternates from a knit stitch to a purl stitch! I resorted to sliding out both knitting needles in my left hand to see the live stitches as I grafted. Even though I washed it, you can still see where I did the three sets of short rows. I tried using the yarnover variety of short rows for kicks. For the sleeves, I picked up stitches around the armhole and went from there, adding short rows and some decreases before doing three rows of reverse garter stitch, the last row being a BO in purl.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Project Teaser

What is it?!

Here's my progress so far on my sleeveless summer maternity top. I'm using Lion Brand Cotton Ease in Terracotta. I just love the color and am excited to be knitting a summer top! After finishing the short-rowed "bandeau" part of the top, I plan on making a dramatic number of decreases and then another seed stitch band. Next, I'm going to make a dramatic number of increases on the first round after the seed stitch band. For the belly area, I plan on using some more short rows to make the front a little bit longer. I might also add some gradual increases at the sides to form an A-line shape. I'm playing this one by ear, so we'll see what happens! If the straps don't lie flat, I'll either add some type of edging or redesign them. I know that I'm not satisfied with the bulkiness of the three-needle bind off at the shoulders, so I'll definitely be changing that part of the straps. I'll either graft the straps or knit the straps from front to back and then attach them to the back seed stitch band.

I finished my dad's V-neck cardigan! I haven't blocked it, so no pictures just yet. Plus, it's a birthday gift, so I'd rather wait to take a picture of the recipient wearing my gift. I think I've already said this before, but I'm really impressed with the yarn, Knit Picks Merino Style. For the price I paid, I expected it to be somewhat scratchy, but it's not. It's cozy and looks nicer than Patons Classic Wool, a more expensive yarn. I'm definitely going to use Merino Style again, especially with the wide range of available colors!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Cardigan Update

After sewing on one sleeve I tried on my dad's cardigan. It looks good and the yarn, Knit Picks Merino Style, feels really nice! Finally, all the hard work I've put into this sweater is going to pay off! Since it took two hours to sew on one sleeve, I'll tackle the other one tomorrow. Then it's on to the button band and collar. 'Not sure exactly what I have planned. It may or may not have a foldover collar -- haven't decided yet. I'll definitely post pictures when I'm done!

Have you gotten your Interweave Knits yet? Just checking because I don't ever seem to receive mine in the mail until on or after the newstand date, unlike everyone else...

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Short Sleeve and Sleeveless Maternity Tops

...are nowhere to be found when Googled. What the heck? For the last couple of weeks, I've cruised the internet searching for summery patterns. Then I watched a recent episode of Oprah, where she interviews clothing designer Liz Lange, and realized that the current styles of maternity wear haven't been around long enough for the knitting world to catch up. Hopefully, in the next few years there will be summer maternity top patterns available in warm weather yarns (can you say cotton and bamboo!). In the meantime... let the creative juices flow, I say! Looking at all the empire waist or A-line tops in style today, I could make my own maternity tops. I got great ideas for necklines and sleeves from Erica's blog! She posts a lot of sewing pattern and fashion magazine photos. Most of the summer tops look like they could pass for maternity tops! Now, I just need to make a rough sketch and choose a yarn. I'm sure most knitters are saying, "Why knit something that's only going to last for a few months?" My answer to that is: 1) I love to knit summer tops and wear them a lot more than my other knits; and 2) Being pregnant in the summer means being h-o-t. Besides, I made more summer tops last year than any other kind of knits. Then again, I lived in the Southeast US where summer tops are the standard for several more months than here up north.

In the next few weeks, I'll be working on putting my thoughts to paper. The only thing holding me back will be finishing the cardigan I'm working on. Speaking of... I've made astounding progress on my dad's cardigan. I finished the body and cast on for the first sleeve today! Since I knit the body in one piece, the only seams are at the shoulders. So, I have the sleeves and the button band remaining.

My rankings of the American Idol performances from earlier this evening:
1. Melinda: What is there to say?
2. Phil: See Jordin's comments.
3. Jordin: Sometimes shaky and slightly pitchy, which is why I place her below Phil who was neither pitchy nor shaky. Not her best performance, though the judges beg to differ. I was a little disappointed because I know the song and didn't think she sang it as well as she could have.
4. Blake: He sung it straight and with heart. It would be hard to critique anyone on style when it comes to this song. A safe and easy song choice? Maybe. But, Blake has enough clout in the risk-taking department to have a free pass this week. At least he was better than last week.
5. Chris: How I would love to put him last. He just doesn't do it for me anymore. I liked him at first, but can't accept the nasally way he sings.
6. Lakisha: Oh, Lakisha. Why is your heart not in this anymore? You could've been in the final two. If I were you, I wouldn't keep picking songs that previous Idol winners have sung.

I finished reading/re-reading all the Jane Austen books, then went on to re-read the fifth and sixth Harry Potter books in preparation for the seventh book. After that I read A Deadly Yarn by Maggie Sefton, a murder mystery. Though nowhere close to being a literary masterpiece, I did enjoy the main character's love of knitting. She lives in a cottage across the street from a yarn shop and frequently makes short visits to knit there all throughout the book. I'm currently reading The Children of Hurin by J.R.R. Tolkien and have also started The Pursuit of Happyness by Chris Gardner. When not knitting or reading, I've been working on Su Doku Fiendish and Su Doku Difficult, each by Wayne Gould -- so addictive!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Felted Purse, V-Neck Sweater, and Current WIP

As previously posted, I made a toddler pullover and a Christmas stocking. In addition to these two things, I also made some bulky alpaca mittens with my leftover yarn from Alison's Scarf. However, I'm not posting pics because... I don't know -- I guess I don't want to. Hmf!

The felted purse was a free pattern from http://feltedhandbagworkshop.blogspot.com. I used Knitpicks Wool of the Andes in Arctic Pool Heather and Chocolate. This yarn felts really fast!

The V-neck sweater was a gift for my mom for Christmas. I used my own design and Knitpicks Decadence in Grape. The focus for this sweater was on the exaggerated V-neck, which is why I only show that part of the sweater (and because it was a gift...). BTW, Decadence is decadent!

My current WIP is a long-sleeve V-neck cardigan for my dad. I'm using Ann Budd's sweater design book for sizing purposes. The yarn is Knitpicks Merino Style in Nutmeg. Note: The left and right fronts are complete but folded down onto the sweater.

I can't wait to try CotLin from Knitpicks! Now that it's about time to switch over to warm weather knitting (i.e., NO WOOL OR ALPACA!), I'm considering what I want to knit this year. Since I'm having a late summer/early fall baby, I plan on making one or more baby items in cotton. For myself, I might try to make one maternity thing, if that. It might be more prudent to make things for early fall, just after the baby... Don't know, yet!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

There's Always a First Time for Everything

Sunday evening I had a burrito at Chipotle with family. I felt perfectly fine and later ate again so that I wouldn't wake up delirious with hunger. Within two hours of going to bed, I began to throw up about every ten minutes. Food poisoning? Stomach virus? I don't know... All through the night this continued without break. Eventually, I started suffering from diarrhea as well. In the morning, my mom came over to take care of my two-year-old daughter. I thought that maybe I would quit vomiting and get some rest, but to no avail. I realized that I was severely dehydrated and that the vomiting wasn't going to stop any time soon. So for the first time ever, 911 was called -- for me. Can you believe this?! Now, normally I would let someone just drive me to the ER. But, I didn't think I could sit for hours in the ER waiting room. Also, I didn't think I could make it another second without getting fluids, that's how weak and helpless I felt. Just as I had hoped I got an IV on the way to the hospital and managed to throw up only once. Once at the hospital, I was given anti-nausea medicine and ended up having to stay overnight.

I've had stomach viruses before, but the only time I ever had one nearly this bad was my senior year of high school. It was fall homecoming, and I got sick after eating at a Japanese restaurant. I threw up for five straight days and lost about fifteen pounds. The one big difference between that episode and the current one that led me to the hospital is that with this episode the vomiting seemed non-stop and didn't relieve me at all.

Looking back, there are some things to laugh at. Like the unnecessary sirens wailing as the ambulance approached my house. Like the low battery warning alarm on my rolling IV stand that alerted the entire hallway every time I went to the restroom (since you have to unplug the machine to leave the hospital room). Like the fact that I was wearing mismatched PJ's and a haphazardly-placed headband when the EMTs arrived. When you're THAT sick, you just don't care I guess!!!

Needless to say, I don't have any knitting news or pictures today. Hopefully soon!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Returning from Burnout

Well, I'm finally back from a much needed knitting hiatus. Have you ever knit so many things at one time, which included a few non-enjoyable items, that you suffered from burnout? When I last posted, I had finished a series of baby items and was ready to begin a pullover and tote. I finished the pullover, tote (which turned out to be a purse), and a toddler pullover. That was the last time I truly enjoyed knitting until very recently. It seemed that when I began my new projects -- a cardigan, baby blanket, and Christmas stockings -- I lost interest and just didn't seem to pick up the needles as often, and then not at all. You see, I had been looking forward to knitting myself one or two sweaters this winter. Since that didn't happen and I felt stuck with my current projects, I lost interest. I'm one of those knitters who likes to finish all projects before beginning new ones. I've also learned that I'm only comfortable with, at most, two projects at one time.

In addition to my burnout, I also lost interest in going to any knitting meetups. When I lived in Raleigh, I used to go to a weekly Thursday night SnB at Caribou Coffee. The group of ladies there have just the right chemistry for a knitting group. The women I've met at the downtown Columbus meetings are very nice, but it's not the same atmosphere. The Raleigh SnB ladies have a deep enthusiasm about knitting combined with fun, unpretentious personalities. I'm making the Columbus ladies sound terrible, aren't I? They're not. The good news is I just found out there's a new leader of a previously defunct online knitting meetup group called The Columbus Area Knitting Meetup Group. Supposedly, there's been a resurgence of interest in the group and a lot of recent knitting activity. This is, of course, very exciting to hear. I'm looking forward to attending a meeting, possibly as soon as this Saturday!

There's another reason for my temporary lapse of interest in knitting: morning sickness. Yep, this prego didn't have an interest in anything but watching TV and reading (and sometimes not even that). I couldn't knit or do anything like logic puzzles, Sudoku, or crosswords. To top it all off, we had one of the coldest winters here on record, which kept me indoors. Not good! If it were just me I would've gone out, even in the cold. But, having a two-year-old makes going outside a little different.

Speaking of the two-year-old, she's the final reason for my knitting hiatus. I can't remember when specifically -- it's all fuzzy now -- but she hit a certain age that has required almost all of my attention, energy, and time. Previously, I could sit peacefully on the couch and knit for long periods of time without being interrupted. Not anymore, my friends. I have a two-year-old! Oh my was that trying my first trimester: trying to avoid puking while hearing, "Mommie, Mommie, Mommie!" and simultaneously being tugged at the knee by little hands. Most of the times I did puke were to the tune of "Mommie, Mommie, Mommie!" Oh yeah -- try going to a knitting store or Michael's with a two-year-old. Ha! Knitting stores don't have carts (the aisles are too narrow for carts or strollers), and you can't possibly spend any quality time there while holding a fidgeting 25+ lb. toddler whose goal is to touch everything within reach. Going to Michael's or JoAnn's is much easier in comparison (even with the short attention span of a toddler), but sometimes neither store has the type of yarn you need. Many times, I just order online.

As soon as I can, I'll post pictures of completed projects. In the meantime, here's a small preview. I made a felted purse that looks similar to the Oregon Tote. Details and the finished product will be posted with my other completed projects.