Monday, April 30, 2007

Le sigh

I am capable of knitting really lovely things. However, no matter how diligent I am, I cannot seem to knit lovely things that fit me. You will notice that the Green Gable progress bar has gone from 50% to 0%. One thing I'll say for me is that I'm dedicated to doing things "right."

In other news, purple is nice.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Fiber For Supper

I met Karen to knit yesterday, and she had just stopped by Knit Picky on her way over. Much to my surprise she was acting as a courier for the store owner, Jo. After seeing the spinning on my blog, Jo gave me this lovely mohair top (at least it feels like mohair!) for my birthday. I don't have scales at home but I am estimating that it's about 30 grams (We scientists think in grams - instead of those silly ounces). I can't wait to start spinning this, but I know I should work through the rest of my mohair samples so I can be more practiced. If nothing else, my knitting has taught me to be patient so I will be diligent with my practice.
In addition to knitting, I also have a love of pottery - the fiber is being displayed in a bowl from a luncheon I attended this week. The Empty Bowls luncheon is a fundraiser for the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC. Attendees are served a tasty lunch and given a memorial bowl - mine was donated by the Sawtooth School for Visual Art. My advisor brought the lunch to our attention, and bought tickets for all of the lab members! I love the fact that I live in a community where the arts are so alive. And, our local artists are constantly donating pieces to be auctioned for charity. Just thinking about it gets me all pumped up about knitting Afghan squares!
I just found a Solution to the problem of my neglect of a certain lovely yarn in my stash. I purchased this at least 2 years ago when I was living in Richmond, KY and shopping at The Stitch Niche in Lexington. I planned to design a shell with it, but at the time I'd not knit a garment before and wasn't really sure about how to construct it. This was my first big yarn purchase (i.e. enough of one thing to make a garment) so I wanted to make sure I'd devised/found the perfect pattern. Now that I've been knitting for more than a few months I actually feel like I can do this lovely yarn some justice. Very exciting.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


I do rather adore knitting socks and I've been admiring patterns and just generally looking at sock related things lately. Here are some super-awesome links I've found. I'm putting them here so I'll always be able to find them as I frequently reformat my hard drive.

Sock Size Analysis - gives average foot measurments for the different US shoe sizes. This is really handy if your recipient is not available for sizing sessions. I've linked to women's sizing, but you'll find links to men's & children's sizes at the bottom of the page.

Don't feel like paying $25 for sock blockers? Here is a simple and cheap alternative.

Awesome Patterns:
Leyburn Socks
Spindle Socks
Snowflake Lace Socks

Work has been pretty crazy (but rewarding) lately, so I've not made much progress on the Green Gable. I still photographed it this morning since it was good picture-taking weather (i.e. sunny enough that even my dark apartment had vaguely natural light).

So far the most impressive thing about this sweater is the drape of the bamboo yarn. I had my first bamboo spinning trial this morning and I've decided that it is the most difficult fiber to work with EVER! The fibers have no elasticity, nor do they have any affinity for each other. I'd just be twirling away, minding my own business, and my unworked fiber would just keep sliding until it broke under its own weight. Once I finished I realized that my black shirt was absolutely covered in little white bamboo hairs. It looked like I live with a very stressed out cat. I'll be content to purchase bamboo yarns rather than make my own. Totally not worth the trouble or the pethair rollers.

I also finally got around to photographing the incredibly thoughtful birthday gift Laurie gave me Wednesday night. The yarn is a superwash jacquard from a German company, ON LINE Yarns. They show all the colorways on the ballband, and Laurie totally picked the same one I would have - because she's awesome like that! She also included little goodies like foot soak tablets and cuticle balm (this will be especially handy in winter when my fingers are so dry that they snag the yarn as I knit). The little circles I've attached to the ball band are actually magnets designed to keep your knitting in place when you set your project aside. Now I can toss my WIPs (That's Works In Progress for those of you back at home ^_~) into my bag with impunity! Thanks so much, Laurie!

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Fiber-a-Night Club

Welcome to the Fiber-a-Night Club. I am the founding (and only) member. I'm working through the fiber goodie bag from the spinning class I took this weekend. We were given 2-4g samples of almost every fiber imaginable, and I'm trying a different one each night. I'm going to savor it, because I really don't know where I'll get fiber once I run out. Tonight I tried roving (from an unknown beastie). I'm getting the hang of this and created my most lovely singles yet! It was just so lovely I had to photograph it before plying.
Note the even-ness. Note the thin-ness. Note the exceptional left-handed photography!

I did ply it, and it is my first yarn that resembles real yarn. It's so even! I'm in love. I took my other 3 yarns to work with me today and showed everyone (totally not kidding). This beauty will definately be coming tomorrow so I can demonstrate my slub-free prowess!

Note the lack of slubs!!! I can't believe that this is only the 4th sample I've spun. Your fingers just learn so quickly. I really want to switch to a wheel eventually, though. On a spindle I can't really keep the spin and draft well at the same time. My spindle spinning method is not at all correct, but it works for me. I want to switch to a wheel to free up both hands for quicker spinning.

I will spend tomorrow daydreaming about which fiber to try tomorrow night. I really want to do another tonight, but I must make these samples last! Hopefully Jan will attend open knit night on Wednesday so I can ask her where she gets her fibers. I've been eyeing some blends at Paradise Fibers, but I don't know how much to get as a beginner!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Happiness is a Brown Alpaca

Wow, alpaca is soooo nice to work with. The fibers are longer than merino so it's easier to predraft the fiber for spinning. Plus, I'm getting much more even. My slubs are rapidly receeding. I can see marked improvement with each yarn I spin. I expect that by the time I get through this goodie bag I'll be hooked!
I've separated the arms on the green gable and I'll be starting some waist shaping soon. This fabric has such a lovely drape - just perfect for summer. I plan to wear this top on my birthday - leaving 11 days to finish. I can totally do that. According to yarn consumption I've got 2/3 left to knit.

I have a theory that every knit blogger eventually trys spinning yarn. I took a spinning class down at Knit Picky on Saturday and created my first 2 yarns. The first is from combed merino, and the second is a dyed soysilk blend. The class was very informative and you could tell that Jan (the instructor) was someone who was passionate about her craft and loved to share it with others. She gave us samples of almost every kind of fiber available so we could play around and see what we like most. We even got to try our hand at a spinning wheel. She got so genuinely excited about our yarns - the whole experience was really encouraging and thrilling. Thank you Jan & Helper (whose name I have forgotten - I met a lot of new people that afternoon)!!

When I started I was a little frustrated with my corkscrews and slubs, but by the end of the 2 hours I was free of the corkscrews and I'd learned to love my slubs. Someday I'll spin an even yarn, but until then I'll pet the slubs because really they're much softer than the rest of the yarn. It just brings you back to the fiber used to spin it.

My favorite part is plying to create a balanced yarn (one that won't unspin). You take this wirey beast of a single, twist the ends in the opposite direction and suddenly it's yarn. Truly a magical moment.

I am so proud of them! Tonight I will be trying another fiber type and really working on spinning a thin single. I know spinning evenly comes with practice, my biggest questions now are more technical. For example - how does one create a 3-ply? Do you have to keep the third strand separate? And how would one ply on a spinning wheel? I expect I'll be purchasing one by the end of the year!

Friday, April 20, 2007

I'm such a Dork!

I've spent a lot of time working on the green gable the last 2 evenings. It's been a while since I've done stockinette in the round so I was really in my groove and making great progress. It felt like I was just flying along. Then I woke up this morning and realized my throwing arm is a bit sore. I must be really out of shape to have muscle aches from knitting! Perhaps I should learn continental, it has less shoulder motion.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Pattern: Adrienne Vittadini's Allegra Twist-Front Top (Spring '05)

Yarn: Knit Picks Shine (worsted) in Green Apple (this was pretty heavy for a worsted weight yarn)

Needles: US 6

Modifications: I performed the mitered decreases in the front at a steeper angle

I finally got some pictures of the completed twist-front top. It just keeps growing! I'm going to remove the side seams and take out some of the extra ease. I definately recommend knitting one size down from your actual measurements, but unfortunately that wasn't an option for me. If I do this again I'll probably try it in a DK or sport weight yarn. The finished product is very lovely and I am proud of it, I'm just going to be modifying it to get the fit I want.

Tonight at Knit Picky's open knit night I cast on for Zephyr Style's Green Gable using Bonsai (a bamboo tape yarn by berroco). It's going really quickly - I'm already 2 inches into it even though I was distracted by conversation and cookies! I can tell it's going to be a quick knit which means I'll get to wear it lots this spring and summer! Hooray. The bonsai is so shiny and has a wonderful drape. Just look at that shimmer!

The project I'm really looking forward to is another Zephyr Style pattern; Wicked. I ordered the yarn from the ladies at kpixie (the bundle is on sale!) and it arrived today (Superfast shipping!). This is the closest representation of the color I could get. I'm really excited about this yarn. It's just too reflective to photograph well. No wonder the pictures on the 'net are so varied! Believe it or not, this is the same colorway shown in the pattern photos!

Well, I'm going to knit a few more rounds on the green gable before bed. Goodnight, and happy knitting!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Ah, the Possibilities

I just wanted to share some photographs of yarn to be used in upcoming projects.

First up is the Koigu KPPM I mentioned earlier. I finally got a shot that captured the true nature of this glorious colorway (P141). I've had this yarn in the stash for about 2 years, but was not confident enough for socks. Now, I am a new, empowered, knitter and will be making a pair for myself out of this gorgeous yarn.

Next there is some lovely Bonsai. I have 8 balls of this and I believe it will become the Green Gable from Zephyr Style. The yarn is so cool and shiny and slick. Actually, it may be too slick. I was having wee yarn explosions when I tried to wind it into balls by hand. I'll probably take it up to Knit Picky this week and ask to borrow their swift and ball winder to make the process a little less slippery.

Finished Photos

1. Pattern: Crusoe
Yarn: Cascade Fixation 1 ball (color 9816)
Needles: US 1
Modifications: Converted to an anklet with a 2x2 ribbing instead of a rolled cuff.

Thoughts on the project: These were my first socks! I did attempt this pattern once with the recommended Koigu but found that the yarn just didn't have enough stretch for the stranded stitch pattern. So, I opted for an elastic yarn. They knit up pretty quickly, and I'm glad that I did finish the second sock despite not being in love with the colorway. I don't want to start single sock syndrome with my first pair of socks! Hopefully I will continue to be diligent with my knitting of the second sock. See that little ball between my feet? That's what was left from the ball when I finished. I'm so excited that I got 2 socks out of a single ball! I expect that un-used Koigu will become a pair of Jaywalkers.

2. Pattern: Danica
Yarn: Paton's SWS in Natural Earth (3.5 balls)
Needles: US 8

Thoughts on the Project: I admit I was being a sheep with this pattern. I saw some absolutely gorgeous Danicas on Craftster using SWS (particularly those by fragolina_piccolina and tragicheroine) and had to make one of my own. But wow, this scarf is gorgeous! I was actually in a self-forced knitting lull thinking I needed to focus on graduate school rather than my hobbies. But when I saw all those gorgeous scarves. . .my inner wooly knittingbeast broke free and I picked up my needles for the first time in a year. Thanks to all you wonderful knitters on Craftster for bringing me back. For a while I debated about blocking the scarf, and finally decided that I love the texture of entrelac and that I would proudly wear it bumpy! Fortunately, shortly after finishing the scarf our weather took a nosedive and I actually got to wear it! This will be a special scarf for me becuase it reminded me how happy I am to knit.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

I spent much of the afternoon Saturday weaving in the ends on the twist-front top and doing the armhole finishing. Today I gave it a bath (it turned the water green). And laid it out to block before seaming. It's pretty wet, but with the cold weather my heat has been running pretty frequently so that should speed up the drying process. Hopefully it will help to humidify my house over the next day! It took surprisingly long to get the top into the desired dimensions - the yarn became super stretchy when wet and the lace just kept getting bigger and bigger. I finally tamed the beast into something manageable, though.

I wish the weather were more pleasant - I'd hoped to wear it to open knitting night on Wednesday, but I don't think it will be warm enough.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

In which not much knitting is discussed.

The body of the twist-front top is finished. Now I've only got blocking and seaming left. I'll save the pictures for when it looks lovely and all the ends are woven in. The actual knitting of the piece took 2.5 weeks. I'm amazed at how quickly it went. I will probably make this pattern again, and recommend it to anyone who considers themselves an advanced beginner or up. Honestly, the pattern isn't difficult. I'm not sure why it was rated "experienced" in the pattern booklet.

I'm glad to have my knitting this weekend. I got a care package from the family today, and in it was a letter reminding me that this weekend is Easter weekend, and that this will be the first time I don't get to see my family around this time of year. I've got my work to keep me preoccupied, and when I'm done with that work on Saturday I'll head down to Knit Picky since all my classmates are visiting their families this weekend. I'm the only one whose home is really too far away for that sort of thing. At least I can be a help to them by pet-sitting (and mouse-sitting in some cases).

I intend to use the weekend to finish some things and start some others. I'll be finishing the twist-front top and the second Crusoe sock. Meanwhile' I'm going to sit down and really start the push to write my candidacy proposal. I've been jotting down experiments and questions for the last couple of months. It is time to make an organized push for this thing to happen. I hope to have my first draft done by the end of May. For right now I'll still try to think of it in segments because an entire grant proposal seems daunting. I've never done anything like this before - this will be a trial to see if I could do this sort of thing for a living. Scary.

I just finished watching the film "Pursuit of Happyness." While everyone I've spoken to thought it was a really heartwarming and wonderful film I can't entirely agree. It is a good movie, but it was painful to watch. It was even more painful knowing it was based on a true story. When the credits rolled I was left with an overwhelming sense of emptiness. It pains me to see such misfortune. The last movie that left me so uneasy was Dancer in the Dark. If it weren't so late I'd watch some uplifting film to get over it.
Be thankful that you know where you will sleep tonight, and that your loved ones love you in return.

I'm sorry I can't be there this year, guys. I'll be thinking about you the whole time (and getting fat from all the dark chocolate you sent!).

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

What Would Medusa Knit?

Tonight Karen came over for some TV on DVD and knitting on our respective projects. Her cropped cardi in bonsai looks absolutely lovely, and her modifications resulted in a better fit. Seeing her finished product makes me even more eager to work with Berocco's Bonsai. I just need to pick a pattern!
I worked on the twist-front top again (surprise). Here it is in all its medusa-esque glory. I will spend the better part of an evening weaving in all those ends. This project has not been boring for a moment. The chart is easy enough to memorize, but still keeps you alert while knitting and you constantly mix things up by suddenly knitting in new directions. Such a fun pattern with dynamic construction. Truly, it is quite a wonderful thing.
I have made some minor modifications. The mitering is on a steeper slope, and the decreases along the top edge of the mitered panel are different that written. Much to my chargrin it's worked out so that the lace eyelet part of the pattern lines up between the mitered panel and the yolk. What a lovely surprise! I'd love to say I planned it that way but it was a happy accident.

It's still looking quite rough, but I'll tidy it up for a final photo shoot sometime soon!

Sunday, April 1, 2007


Isn't it nice to have a relaxed day? I spent mine knitting while watching Audrey Hepburn films.

There was a setback in the twist-front top. I had nearly completed the mitering on the front, but I realized that I really wasn't happy with the way it was shaping up. So Friday, after much procrastination, I took a deep breath and frogged back to the point where I cast on for the mitered panels. I'm so relieved that I did. I've nearly completed that section now, and I'm really pleased with the results. I could potentially finish this top in a few days if work goes smoothly.

Yesterday, I met Karen for lunch and some knitting in public. She was working on a cropped cardigan in Berocco's Bonsai. That yarn is gorgeous. I'm excited about working with it myself. I have several hanks of it in Red Maple, I'm just trying to decide what I'll be making with it. It could potentially turn into another twist-front top.

Speaking of exciting yarn, I just got some Cherry Tree Hill Supersock Merino in the vibrant sugar maple colorway. I can't wait to experiment with this. It took ages to ball all 420 yards - it made me yearn for a swift! I have plans for it, but it's going to be a gift so I can't reveal any details!