Thursday, September 22, 2011

Rust and Stone (or Cake) Sweater: Part 1

I got permission to blog about the sweater, so I can show you how things are going!

It's a top down cardigan design, with first sweater tabs cast on and then the back and shoulders and fronts knit from there. It took me a couple of readings through the pattern to really understand what was going on but once I'd done that--things have been going quite smoothly.

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That's where I'd gotten to at the end of the first skein of yarn, which is about 150 yards of Plum Cake Elizabeth Bennet Yarn Love merino/silk/bamboo. I'd just gotten past splitting the sleeves onto spare needles (I'd ended up buying way too many size 2 circulars but I suppose eventually I'll be using them all.) and was starting down back shaping and increases in the front.

It was rather gratifying to get the sleeves onto their own needles and get to actually try the sweater on as though it was clothing:

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I will of course be making the sleeves but it's a cute cap sleeve right here...

Now I'm most of the way through another skein and 20 rows from being done with the back shaping.

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As you can see a little clearer in this picture, there's a mock seam running down the side created by slipped stitches.

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The yarn isn't pooling too much, it created a rather strange X shape, sort of like houndstooth in the swatch and I was hoping that would appear here. Instead I'm getting some miscellaneous little stripes. The yarn is also a little more splitty than I'd like and what I'd recommend for this project. I did end up with a couple of extra stitches when I was doing the back increases but those seemed to be user error rather than an issue with the pattern numbers.  I'm going to have a lot of ends to weave in once this is done and blocked.

Gypsy thinks I should be paying more attention to her.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

In the Planning Stages....

News! I finally broke the 5K mark on how much I've knit this year! Considering last year I knit 13K and we're in September and I don't have a lot of Christmas knitting on the needles, I really don't think the 20K this year is going to happen. That makes me a little sad, I really did want to get a lot of stash used up and instead, as is more usual, I added a ton of stash and didn't use much up. But it's my hobby and I'm using yarn that I bought and it's cheaper than many hobbies I could have....

I spent over an hour winding yarn the other evening for projects that should be in the queue in the near future. I also went through some of the stash and pulled out an entire bin of sock yarn that should be wound or pulled from when next I'm needing some socks to knit. That bin is full, so you'll get to see lots more socks.  Also, now that I know approximately how long a couple of other people's feet are, I can just make socks longer if I choose so they'll get some new socks as well.

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So, what's in here?

The large grey ball and the darker blue at the bottom are both skeins of Eco Wool. I want to make city shawls out of them, one for myself and one as a very belated gift for a friend. Those, I recall from last year's marathon, take about six hours each to make. Very manageable over a weekend with a television or during a football game at a friend's house. (Game is easily 3 hours, plus tailgating time!)

The smaller gray ball is alpaca that needs to turn into a scarf/shawl.

The three skeins of green/aqua yarn are for me. I decided that when I saw the sale (50%) that I wanted a matching hat and scarf set. If there is enough, I'll be doing mittens as well, might be striping that with some of the leftover black yarn from the #13 socks--it's all Cascade Heritage 150 if I don't have quite enough yarn. I wear a black wool coat or a white down coat in the winter, so it's time for some bright and cheerful accessories.

The unwound skein is from Stitches. That will hopefully turn into a scarf for the Philosopher if I can get things rolling. Underneath that and nearly hidden is a skein of dark blue Bugga that I'd like to turn into socks.  There are also two skeins of STR in there--the fall colors are for the Philosopher and the blue will be for me or for someone near and dear, haven't decided yet.  Finally is the light gray sock yarn which is Three Irish Girls Adorn. Again, probably socks for me.

Oh right--that purple skein. That's the final skein for the purple blob of a shawl that I keep working on. I'll get back to that just as soon as I get through the sweater that I'm on deadline for....

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Magic Number 13

I finished two pair of socks over the weekend!!  Huzzah! Now I've officially completed 13 pair this year, and of course there's already another pair on the needles--soon to be 2.

First up, I redid the toe on Sock #2 of the Rainbow Stripe socks, so now they'll fit the recipient's feet. I just need to pop them in the mail to her.

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I like how the legs turned out fairly similar--with big pink circles coiling down the leg. The KPPPM is really nice and sturdy and I think will be very long lasting socks. I really must knit some of it up for myself as socks--one of these days.

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I also got the toe of Sock #2 on the Basic Black Socks done.  Those were handed over immediately (complete with cat fur) to the Incredibly Patient Mother, who was up visiting. Everyone will have warm feet this winter, darn it! (Well, maybe not so much on the darning, but I'm sure I"ll end up having to learn how.)

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No doubt you're wondering if I'll ever get tired of 2x2 rib vanilla socks.  Honestly, I'm not bored with it yet.  Every now and then I think about working on a lace pattern on socks and perhaps at some point when I have a little more time and brain  power, I will. For now, though, I'm getting to use delicious yarn and no one who has received socks has heaved a deep sigh of "If only they were lace socks...." Of course, people who complain about such things might not be recipients in the future.

The blue yarn that I showed you on the 8th has indeed been cast on but was left at work so that I have work knitting for some upcoming long meetings that I'll  be more than able to knit through. In the interim I have a lot of things to finish before the weather truly starts getting cold rather than just flirting with cool nights.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pay No Attention to the Project Behind the Curtain

There's lots and lots of knitting happening over here at Chez Hedgehog, but unfortunately I can't share with with you. I'm test knitting the Rust and Stone Cardigan and at the moment I don't have permission to show it to you all. I think once it's done I can blog in detail.

I'm using

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It's Yarn Love in the Plum Cake colorway of Elizabeth Bennet that I purchased from Sonny and Shear. My mom had given me a gift certificate and I fell down hard at the idea of yarn named after the heroine of one of my absolute favorite books.

It's an unusual choice for me--it's pale yellow and I don't think I actually own any other yellow clothing. If I do, I've forgotten about it. It's also partially bamboo and silk, which means it's slippery! I've dropped stitches a couple of times to a lot of swearing.

The sweater is going well though, I think. I will be pushing really hard to make the deadline (two weeks away) but I have a trip to NY between now and then that should give me some airport/plane knitting time.  It's a point where I can try it on though, which is great because I feel like I'm actually making clothing, not just randomly knitting and praying.  I did have to go down a needle size to get gauge.

We'll see how it all turns out, I'm optimistic.  AudioGirl had been threatening to make me knit a sweater to when this came up, I figured it was worth jumping in.

More pictures once I have permission!!


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Because You Had a Bad Day...

Earworm for Blog post title.

I had a rough day recently at work. It was extra long at the end of a long week and I kind of limped out of work only to find out that the plans I was expecting for the evening were on a different day (not my fault, the email had the right date listed but then referred later to the following week). I stumbled into Loopy looking for a little pick me up. 

Fortunately, Veronik Avery has my back. Licking my wounds I emerged from the depths of the Loopy Sock/Lace Weight Room bearing enough fingering weight for a sweater.  It's the Boreale in Ruby Wine and it's lovely. I hope I can get to it this fall because it's just perfect for a pretty and very warm sweater.  With the temperatures in the 50s at nights and in the 60s during the days, I'm going to need those very soon. 

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Friday, September 9, 2011

Miscellany

I seem to be totally incapable of project monogamy, fortunately that's considered completely acceptable among knitters. No one seems to find it too inappropriate that I bounce from project to project, although they might just be too polite to mention it.

The Big Purple Shawl, also known as what I'll be wearing to Northwestern Football Game Tailgates the instant it gets finished, is coming along nicely.  I have just over a skein left to go. If I actually gave it some serious knitting time, it would, of course, get done much faster. I'm doubtful that this will occur before October and the first homegame is Saturday, but there will certainly be other opportunities.

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I have made some progress on the Philosopher's Belt. The challenge with that is needing to crochet yarn, then knit, then wonder if I've made any progress, then crochet yarn, then knit... Even though it's only 9 stitches per row, it seems to be taking forever. AudioGirl suggested running a quick single crochet along the edge once I'm done to keep it from stretching--which was a great idea. I just have to get it done and blocked.

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And finally, I introduce to you the first of the Bunny Nuggets.  When the Philosopher had said he wanted to learn to knit, it was with the intention of making amigurumi for friends having offspring. As I don't crochet, this meant we were knitting and that meant Rebecca Danger. I liked the idea of a Bunny Nugget to start things off.

Now, Rebecca's a fan of Magic Loop. This is all well and good if you know how to do it. For those of us who taught ourselves via video about 30 seconds before teaching the Philosopher, it was just a touch of spontaneous learning.  I'm still not convinced to give up my beloved DPNs (even after they stabbed me) but I can at least get through the technique as needed.

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My nugget is the smaller red one. That's just a smidge of leftover sock yarn from the socks that I knit during the last winter olympics.  We were going through my leftovers hatbox and I kept pulling out skeins and saying "Oh, this is from this event, this I was knitting during that, this is from another trip...."  I think it might have been a little intimidating for someone who was trying to pick out yarn to knit into a small stuffed animal.

The Philosopher made the larger nugget. That's Filatura Lanarota Chaco that I bought at Smiley's in New York. AudioGirl knit me a cowl out of it at one point.  I've still got a few skeins of the purple around here.

I opted for I-cord ears rather than the DPN ears I think she recommended?  The pattern is well written and we made it through in one afternoon/evening.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Slew of Sock Knitting

When I am avoiding other projects, I tend to sneak back to my sock knitting. While this doesn't get a whole lot of bigger knitting done, it does mean that I eventually end up with some socks that will go in the gift box for Christmas.

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The Rainbow Stripes look done--but they're not.  I have cast off two toes of socks and for all intents and purposes I have two socks.  However, take a slightly closer look when I lay Sock 1 on top of Sock 2.

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Yup--it's about an inch shorter.  I'm not sure how I thought that it would fit the size person it's supposed to be fitting, but it's obviously too small. So I finished the second sock, I'll rip out the toe, and I'll round up a test foot in the right size before these go to their new owner.  New thing with these socks--I've discovered I really like a quick 3 needle bind off for the toe. I decreased down to 8 stitches, whipped through the bind off and tada! I will also be getting feedback about the toe, if the ridge is uncomfortable.  

And then there's Pair Number 13--the Basic Black Socks that will go to an incredibly patient mother who has been waiting a long time for black socks.  While I won't call these unlucky socks, I will just mention that I have been known to wear the knitting bag attached to my belt loop and when one runs for a bus, dashes on last second, and slams bodily into a seat--the very sharp needles tend to poke through the fabric of the bag and into one's clothing and skin in the rump area. There was some yelping. No worries, my tetanus shots are current, cleaning was promptly administered, as was Neosporin. I'm still wearing a large bandaid but that's more obliviousness about taking it off than anything else. 

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Another inch and a half and I can start the toe of Sock 2.  I'm really hoping to have these done before she comes to visit next week. I'd love to send her home with a fresh pair of wool socks. :)  These are being knit out of the Cascade Heritage and I really think I should get some more once I've used up a few of the skeins cluttering up Chez Hedgehog. It makes very warm and squishy but wearable feeling socks. I'm not worried that these will develop holes their first time out.

That's all on the sock front right now but don't worry...here's what's coming once these are done:

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Stitches Midwest Market

The Philosopher and I traipsed out to Schaumburg for an afternoon at the Stitches Midwest Marketplace. We wandered up and down the aisles, taking in all the wools and sights.

He was fascinated with
  • Square needles--to the point he ended up getting a set from the Kollage people. 
  • Spinning wheels and drop spindles
  • Needle felting (but he didn't want to try it)
  • Habu Textiles--especially the stainless steel blend yarns.
I was more focused on a couple of dyers I knew, a couple I didn't, and the one booth that had BMFA....

This was my first encounter with Lisa Souza and I hope it won't be my last. I've been hearing about Lisa Souza yarns since I started listening to Lime and Violet but had only seen an example of her yarns in person once at a friend's house.  Now, here I was, faced with an entire booth of gorgeous yarn! How does one possibly choose?  

Well, one could be sneaky and pay attention to the boyfriend who is tagging along and who picks up a skein and mentions that it's awfully pretty and very soft. One might remember a pattern one has been meaning to knit up for said boyfriend, maybe.... 

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Lisa and her husband were minding their booth and they were just lovely to chat with. She has beautiful colors and amazing yarn bases. I would definitely enjoy getting more yarn from her.  

Then there was Fiber Optic's booth. I'd run into Kimber's booth in March and ended up the WendyKnit's Mystery KAL out of a skein of her vibrant wool. I still haven't blocked it, which is why you haven't seen the final product yet.  It's in the "block and gift" pile in the living room. It's gorgeous, don't get me wrong, but I don't wear little scarves...

I restrained myself, I only bought two skeins: 

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Aren't they shiny? The bright blue is called Catamaran and the darker is Midnight. In natural bright sunlight, they are difficult to look at they are so vibrant.  I'm REALLY looking forward to knitting these up, though I don't really have a plan for them. I think the Midnight I might do a two skein shawl--do the garter/stockinette plain part in black and then add this on the edge.  The Catamaran might just get put into a vase and called art. 

Finally, in the last aisle, I came across the Fold's booth. Now, I'd heard of the Fold, a shop here in Illinois that I've yet to visit though it doesn't appear to be too far away.  And she had the only BMFA that I spotted in the entire event. She had Raven Clan even--so the Philosopher and I could look at how different bases took the dyes differently and he could it see it in it's yarn state (he's seen the shawl my sister made me).  

While I continued to be enamored of all the Raven Clan, I succumbed only to a skein of BMFA Medium Weight, for I am weak in the face of oooh so squishy socks.  

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It's called Coppertree and it's everything I picture in fall: a burnt orange, greens and tones of brown.  It's absolutely lovely.  

While I was there, I did get to try out the Signature Needles that have been the hot item on nearly all of the knitting blogs I read/videocasts and podcasts that I subscribe to at present. I really liked the stiletto tips and the needles are very nice. I'm not sure they'd speed up my knitting that much but I definitely liked them. I was slightly disgruntled by the woman sitting at the booth talking about the needles with customers. She was talking about needle length and how a woman she'd seen earlier in the day had a huge red patch on the pinky side of her palm from where the needle was rubbing her hand. I was mid sock so I did a few stitches, looked down at my hands, did a few more stitches and then mentioned that I was surprised it was on the outside, as my needles hit around the base of my thumb.  The woman watched me knit for about 45 seconds and then said, quasi-apologetically, that I knit weirdly.  I'm sure she didn't mean it insultingly but it seems like there could have been a better way to phrase that.  

I did do some other buying while at the wool fest but it's for other people, so unfortunately I can't share it with you.