Empty Needles? Where?

As has become my habit, the completion of a challenging project (in this case, Crichton) brought about the casting on of several more, without thought or regard to anything I have already started.

First, I started in on “A Cardigan for Merry,” for which I purchased some Wool of the Andes – Sport Weight. I love cables, but the ones for this sweater (designed by Kate Gilbert originally for her “Arwen” sweater) are kicking my butt. The cables cross on every right side row, which makes my knitting super tight. If anyone has any suggestions as to how to alleviate and or cheer up my tense, angry cables, I welcome them, especially since, just three inches into the pattern I’ve set it aside in favor of some non-finger breaking, non-squint inducing knitting.

A Cardigan for Merry by annypurls, using size 3 needles and Wool of the Andes Sport from KnitPicks

Which brings me to the next project that leapt onto my needles while I had my back turned. “Rock Island” is back, this time on the size six needles the pattern requested, and my progress has been swift. I re-cast on on Tuesday evening, and when I counted last night, I had 42 of the 71 edge lace repeats completed. I promise I won’t go on and on again about what a genius Mr. Flood is, but this edge piece is so much fun to knit, I might just keep going, and end up with a very skinny scarf. Each repeat is eight rows and takes about five minutes to complete. This is important to someone who often only gets to knit in five minute intervals! Only slightly more than half done, and without blocking, the edge piece is already nearly four feet long, which bodes well for the finished dimensions.

While I was taking these photos, Max brought his knitting into the bedroom and asked that I take pictures of him and his yarn, too. And so, I present to you Sir Max and his knitting…

See you later, and have a fun and safe Memorial Day Weekend!

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Waltzing with Crows

Yesterday I bound off the last stitch of my “Crow’s Waltz Shawl.” I held it up to admire it and was slightly less than impressed. It was much smaller than I’d expected, even though the needles I used were larger than the pattern called for. When I got home, I wrapped it around Penny and it fit her perfectly. Great, now I have a shawl for a six month old. That’s helpful.

I decided it deserved to be blocked anyway, so this morning I soaked it and then pulled out the blocking wires my mom gave me for Christmas (thanks, Mom!). Max and I made the bed – both so I’d have a spot to pin the shawl out and so I could take pictures of it after it was stretched. Then the blocking commenced.

First, blocking wires are amazing. I know I’m not the first to mention this, but they are so great I think it bears repeating. Instead of 50-100 pins to make the points of the lace stand out straight, I only needed 10 or so. And adjusting the “pull” on each of the points required significantly less work as well. If you like to knit lace, get some blocking wires. You’ll not be disappointed.

Crow’s Waltz Shawl, knit on a variety of needles from Araucania Ranco Multi in two different colorways.

Second, even after stretching the life out of the poor little shawl, it still looked really…well, little. I pulled out my tape measure, and found that the shawl is 55″ wide, and 29″ deep. According to the pattern, it’s supposed to be 50″ by 21″. Oh… it’s supposed to be little.

I guess it turned out perfectly!

The Great (and Evil) Brooklyn Tweed

I am a knitter (still not a Knitter, though). Not a sock knitter, nor a sweater knitter, nor even a scarf knitter. I enjoy knitting in all its forms, and love trying new techniques as much as I enjoy knitting a familiar item. Which is funny, because Jared Flood, aka Brooklyn Tweed, is the designer that has haunted me the most in each of these categories (although Cookie A is running a close second – I love her sock designs).

Right after I started knitting, with only a few swatches and a pair of mittens under my belt, I knit the Habitat Hat. That was the first pattern I purchased on-line, and the first project I knit using “fancy” yarn. I’ve knit it numerous times since, in Cascade 220 and Noro Silk Garden and Wool of the Andes (this one is still in progress); in sizes little to ginormous and in between; in blue and red and white and gray and multi-colored. This pattern helped forge my love for cables, and when I’ve attempted to chart out a cable myself, I still refer to the charts from this pattern because they are precise and exact and familiar.

I also knit the Noro Striped scarf, twice, because of Mr. Flood. The first one became a Christmas gift for my good friend Sharon; the second one became mine. The entertainment factor that is inherent in multi-colored yarns is increased exponentially when you combine two colorways and knit them into stripes. If you’re an OCD-type person, you can manipulated the color combinations by snipping one of the strings and advancing to a color that creates a more pleasing balance or striking contrast; I preferred to knit the yarn as it came and found myself occasionally knitting at the edge of my seat as I waited to see if the orange from ball A would come up at the same time as the purple from ball B (o, how sad that I was so enthralled by this!).

Some of his designs, like Girasol and Willoughby, have only resulted in a single finished project, but not because I didn’t love them. I’ve only knit them each once because they require and deserve to be knit monogamously, without distraction, and in either very wonderful (read pricey) or very copious amounts of yarn, and so I am saving my pennies and waiting to find just the perfect someone to splurge on with these woolly gifts.

Which brings us to the subject of my post today. Jared Flood is most truly and surely evil. His designs are so captivating – not to mention error free – that I am helpless to resist most of them. On Wednesday I was entranced by a pattern he’d just released (I shouldn’t follow him on Facebook – I can’t help but see when he publishes something new) – Here’s what happened:

I was sitting at the bookstore, enjoying a cup of coffee and knitting diligently on my Hedera sock (keep in mind that the only reason this sock even got started in the first place was because I am waiting for the yarn I ordered to complete the second of Jojo’s kilt hose to arrive). I set my sock down for a brief moment to check in on Facebook and there it was…photos of “Rock Island” from Brooklyn Tweed, in a lovely purple lace yarn.

Photo © Brooklyn Tweed – Rock Island Shawl

“Oh, that’s pretty,” I thought to myself. “But I have Hedera to work on, and next week I’ll have the yarn for Jojo’s other sock. Plus, I don’t know what I’d do with such a lovely lacy shawl, not to mention I really don’t like using lace weight yarn.”

I went back to Hedera, and knit a few rounds. “Well, he just released it. Let me look on Ravelry and see if anyone has purchased it yet.”

I logged into Ravelry, and sure enough there were several people who had not only bought the pattern, but they were knitting at it furiously – although some of them may have been his test knitters. “Well,” thought I, “I do have a bunch of lace yarn already at the house. And I’ve never been disappointed by one of his designs. I’ll just add it to my queue so I don’t forget what it was called. But I’m not going to buy it now.”

I again returned to my knitting, and managed to ignore my computer for quite a while. Then I started glancing at it in between rounds. “This is crazy. I do not need to start knitting a shawl right now. Heck, if I really want to work on a shawl, I have the “Crow’s Waltz” right here in my bag. I can just knit a few rows on that and get it out of my system.” I did, in fact, lay Hedera aside and pulled Crow’s Waltz out and added a few rows/subtracted a few stitches from it. I then decided I’d go home, where Alex, Max and Penny would keep me busy enough to help me forget about Rock Island and all its lacy goodness.

While I arranged myself and all my stuff in the car, I pulled out the computer again. I went from the Rock Island page on Ravelry to several other lace pages, then back to Rock Island – this went on for at least 15 minutes. Finally I decided I’d just buy the pattern – it was only a couple of dollars – and look it over. I was sure I would see the stitch count or the charts and decide that I would be insane to knit something this difficult, at which point I could return to my socks and Crow without a lacy shawl nagging at me.

So I bought it. And looked it over. Ok, I read the directions…carefully…twice. Then I went home, resolved to finish my other projects before starting this shawl, if I ever started it at all.

Yeah, that worked.

The edging for Rock Island, in Alpaca with a Twist Fino

No, really…I’m still here!

I know, I know. I said I’d write at least 250 words each day, and I haven’t even come close for the past two months, even if I count my Facebook comments. The truth is, I’ve been really, really busy, both at home and at work. And it seems the busier I am at work, the harder it is for me to refocus my attention once I’m at home, which in turn makes it nearly impossible for me to accomplish anything more than doing the dishes, taking a shower, and going to bed.

Oh, and knit. But surely you didn’t think I’d let a little thing like life get in the way of my knitting, did you?

So far this year, I’ve finished the Turkish socks (which were supposed to be a Christmas gift), but I wasn’t pleased with how they turned out. Which meant I had to knit an extra pair just to close out my knitting for Christmas 2010. It just so happened that my mom bought me a great book (“Think Outside the Sox”) and a bunch of Stroll yarn from Knit Picks for my birthday, with which I was able to knit …



Drip Candle Socks from “Think Outside the Sox”, in a variety of Stroll Handpainted yarns

I also knit a sweater for my college roommate, Dara’s, brand-new baby girl. I either made it too big, or too yellow, because I don’t have a photo of Miss L modeling her sweater yet. In fact, I don’t even have a photo of the finished sweater, because I sent it out as soon as I’d sewn in the last end. But I do have this



Spirited Jacket by Justine Turner (Ravelry Link) in yellow (obviously) Cascade 220 Superwash Sport

which was taken just after blocking, but before anything was sewn together. As a note, this is a really pretty sweater, but Ms. Turner was not joking when she states in the pattern that (I’m paraphrasing here) extreme amounts of concentration and focus are required. Still, if you’re reliably able to count to 4, and can do basic math, I encourage you to try this pattern out. I, apparently, still have some math issues left to resolve.

I really meant to bring you all up to date with what’s been on my needles since you last heard from me, but it’s already 11:29, and I’m sleepy. Look for a post tomorrow (or later today, depending on which time zone you’re hanging out in) with a shawl, a sock, and another baby sweater, all in the midst of being made!!

Good night!

#101

I promise I’ll stop counting now. I just wanted to acknowledge that I’ve moved on from that first milestone, and will be working hard toward reaching the next one.

And speaking of working hard, remember the Springtime Bandit scarf/shawl I was working on in the last post? Well, true to form, by the end of the third body repeat, the rows were so long they were making me a little crazy, and I no longer felt the same level of love for this pattern. It’s so disheartening for the last few rows to take as long to knit as the first 40.

But last night I finished it. I bound off the first half at Penny Lane while the girls were having dinner, then had to stop because they were singing silly shark songs (complete with hand movements), and I have a difficult time being with weird people in public (not just weird family; weird anyone… heck, if the stranger at the table next to us is too strange, it makes me uncomfortable to the point where I want to go home) so we came home. I finished the bind-off, and this is what it looked like fresh off the needles:

And then I blocked it. But somehow, my triangle shawl managed to have 4 points. I took no photos of this, as I am rather embarrassed that I did such a crappy job. This morning, I re-blocked it, and this is what I ended up with:

Springtime Bandit using O-Wool Legacy DK in lovely green. Knit with size 8 needles.

Much, much better. I still don’t know about knitting it again because I wasn’t really fond of the way the shaping was done. But I do really, really love how it turned out.

Now I have to go knit some second-socks. See you later!

Happy Anniversary Clever Knits!

On Monday, the fifth of July, my favorite Local Yarn Store – Clever Knits – will celebrate its first year of business. And today, at 11:55, when I showed up to partake in the BOGO sale they are having, I was only slightly surprised to find a large gaggle of knitters waiting to get in. It was very exciting, and I got to hear some accounts of how, just last year, they were waiting on this very same sidewalk for CK to open their doors for the first time. I missed the grand opening, but I’m really glad I had an opportunity to be there for this event.

I made a few purchases – mostly really great yarn that’s too darn expensive to buy just , but also a skein of alpaca DK weight that I need to finish my Eastlake sweater – and left happy. One of the yarns I purchased was Hand Maiden Sea Silk in a lovely pewter-y color. I bought it with a specific project in mind… the July KAL at CK, which is the Annis shawl.

When I got home from the sale Alex and the girls left for the bookstore and to do some errands. While I was out, Max had decided that it was a good do-nothing sort of day and changed into some PJs, so the two of us stayed home to play. I set up my swift and ball winder in the kitchen, and began the process of preparing the Sea Silk to be knit. Max joined me and watched with eyes wide as the yarn moved from swift to winder, both tools spinning wildly, the ball growing fatter and fatter. Then he said: “Ooooh, yarn. Very very cool.” Oh yeah. That’s my boy.

Well, that’s where the good times ended. The Annis pattern starts out with the horrible, horrible direction “Cast on 363 stitches…” Zoinks! Every shawl I’ve done have been started from the point so I, as a weak hearted kind of knitter, can be eased in to the fact that a row will eventually span that many stitches. Not this time. I suppose an optimist would say that it’s all downhill from here.

I’m not very good at optimism. I’m working on it, but I’ve a long way to go.

I bravely began casting on, only to find at stitch 210 or so that there was no way I’d allowed a long enough “tail” to finish the last 153 stitches.

Rip!

I started again, and actually got all of the stitches onto my needles. But I had to count once more to verify I wasn’t going to be 3 short. This was done 5 times, because I kept losing count. In the end, I found that my initial count was correct, and I was able to move to Row 1 with confidence.

And move on I did. I knit well and fearlessly. I was surprised when I looked at my left hand needle and found only about 20 stitches left. That’s when it happened.

“It” has a name. And “its” name is “Max”. He came over to sit on my lap, as he often does while I knit. But this time, the yarn was silk, not wool (very slick). And the needles were metal, not bamboo (very slippery). And before I could move the string and sticks out of his way, his little leg got tangled and woosh!

Only about 10 stitches fell off. But they were the first row, and I have no idea how to reclaim cast on stitches that have escaped the needle. So I put it all away.

I’ve cast on again. Here’s my proof.

Now that el Boyo is in bed, I’ll try Row 1 again. Wish me luck!!

And then I knit some more

The Hemlock Ring Blanket has survived it’s mistake, and all is well with it. In fact, on Tuesday afternoon I reached a critical point in its progress. I was at the row where brooklyntweed ended his blanket, and I was originally planning to do the same, especially since I wanted to do the fancy edge and was worried I’d run out of yarn if I did any of the additional rounds. So I did what any responsible knitter would do.

I called Clever Knits, where I bought the yarn I’m using, to see if she had anymore. And she did. And she had it set behind the counter, just waiting for me when I went to knit night.

This morning I took a quick detour to stop at another LYS because the short size 10.5 needles were driving me crazy. I got a set of 45″ long Addi Turbos, and oh, what a difference it has made! The needles I started with have horrible joins, and I was constantly having to coax my stitches from the cable to the needle. Now everything just slides. I have nine rows left to knit, then the bind off. I’m planning to be done sometime tomorrow so I can block it on Saturday. As soon as I have it pinned out, I’ll post a photo so you can share my excitement.

Now that I’m coming to the end of the Hemlock Ring Blanket, I’ve been trying to organize & prioritize my knitting projects. Here, then, is a list of what I think I’m doing. Since many of these are gifts, I won’t be mentioning who they’re for.

  1. Finish the Irish Hiking Scarf (it’s soooo close to being done)
  2. Sweater for Christmas gift
  3. Birthday Shawl
  4. FLS (only one sleeve, for the love of wool. Just finish it already!)
  5. Socks for Christmas gift #1
  6. Socks for Christmas gift #2
  7. Mittens for Christmas gift
  8. Socks for Christmas gift #3 (these ones are small, so they can go at the end)

Holy moley!! Maybe I shouldn’t have written all this down. Although, I have to say that getting the Hemlock Ring Blanket done in less than two weeks has given me hope and new confidence in my knitting abilities.

Later!