Thursday, January 25, 2007

Let's reveal the mystery project:Jana guessed the closest, it is indeed a stuffed animal...Sheldon the turtle. I knew I had to make this because my friend is decorating the baby's room with a turtle theme (her favorite animal). He's looking a bit sad here as he still doesn't have legs or a shell, but those are coming along quickly. I am using Plymouth Dreambaby DK yarn and it's awesome. It's extremely soft, machine wash/dry, and reasonably priced. I'm not sure how well it would hold up to repeated washing, but if that isn't a problem it would be a great yarn for baby garments. However, it wasn't a very close match in gauge to the recommended yarn for this pattern, so alterated it by making the body a bit wider and longer.

I am also getting ready for the kick-off of Project Spectrum. For February and March, the colors we are focusing on are blue, gray, and white. I just recently bought this yarn that I'm really excited about:
This is locally produced yarn, from a farm only about 20 minutes from us. I had seen their sheep grazing all summer and (of course) I wondered if they sold the wool. Lo and behold, they do! They also sell eggs from their chickens so we bought some of those too. The yarn comes only in the natural colors but there were a bunch of different pretty shades of gray, white and black. I am going to attempt to use it to make this sweater, from the VK fall/winter 2004-2005 issue:The only problem is that the homespun yarn has a somewhat different gauge that what's called for. I spent what seemed like a couple hours on Saturday trying to calculate the numbers to customize the pattern. In the course of things, I found what may to be a minor error in the pattern...for the increases prior to beginning chart #2, the instructions for two of the sizes (34.5 and 43) seems to have you increase to a number of stitches that is different than what is required for working Chart #2 per the instructions. Nothing that would be difficult to work around, but if you are thinking about this pattern see if you find a problem too (maybe I'm missing something?).

Here's a gauge swatch for a portion of the fair-isle chart:
I'm very happy with the colors and pattern, I think they go very well together. I am curious to see if my calculations were right and I can get it to come out to the size I want, though! Will it be success or disaster?? ;)

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Baby blanket, finished and blocked! First FO of 2007! And, I finally got these photos to depict the yarn color accurately.
I added a crocheted mini-picot edge of my own devising to the ends, and the selvedges are "double-slipped garter" from the Knitter's Handbook. The blocked blanket is about 40 inches square in size.
Pattern: "Print Blanket" from the 2004 Filatura Di Crosa Baby booklet. Knit using the recommended yarn, Filatura Di Crosa Zarella (color #409) on 5 mm needles.

This was a quick 'n' dirty knit, only took a couple of weeks! To me, the pattern as written comes out different than what is pictured in the booklet, but I'm OK with how it turned out.

The yarn was so-so. It's quite soft now after a hand-wash, but I don't find anything particularly outstanding about the yarn. Since I rarely use acrylic blends I don't have a lot to compare it to though. The colors it comes in are quite pretty, and it's a decent yarn, but I'm not sure it's worth the retail price (at least I got it on a WEBS discounted order). Also, I used eight balls of yarn for this project and there was like five or six knots to deal with...grrr! It's a machine-wash yarn but I notice that you are supposed to flat dry. I feel a bit bad about that as it's kind of a pain for a baby item.

Now, I'm making a little something extra to give with the blanket. Anyone have any guesses as to what this mystery project is?

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

I'm so glad everyone liked the baby blanket! I was on the edge of whether I really liked it, but you all tipped the balance for me! I finished the blanket last night, but I still need to weave in some ends and block the thing. Pictures soon, although I'm afraid they won't be very different than the ones I already posted.

Since I really have nothing else to post about, I will revert to the default topic of weather.We got some snow on Monday. About 6 inches, although this picture makes it look like much more:I love this stop sign always getting buried. It is at the intersection of two roads and a parking lot, and this is the only place to put the snow. After every storm, they eventually come with a loader and truck it off to somewhere else.

Unfortunately, it is far too cold to actually enjoy said snow. My car barely started this morning. When I got out of the car, the wind off the lake actually took my breath away. I saw some small, furry animals frozen into little popsicle shapes (just kidding about that last one).

Seriously folks, it is -15 F this morning with a -30 F wind chill. If I ever move further south in New England, I will never again think of the weather there as "cold" after living in this.

Stay warm!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I'm sure you're all dying to know what my latest project is, right? ;) Well, take a peek:My best-est friend is due to have a baby (it's a boy!) in early April, and as her only knitterly friend I just had to make a baby blanket. The pattern is supposedly the one pictured in this Filatura Di Crosa baby booklet:However, the design that is coming off my needles looks significantly different. The one in the photo has parallel zig-zags, and mine is sort of basket-weave looking. I presume it's a screw up on their part because I'm pretty sure I'm following it correctly. I wasn't really sure how I liked this "imposter" pattern, but it's grown on me.

Here is a bit better photo of the pattern:I'm using the specified yarn, Zarella, which is a half wool/half acrylic blend. It definitely feels rougher to me than 100% wool yarn, in a sense, with that acrylic-y texture that I can't quite describe. I'm not in love with it yet but if it softens up with washing I'll be happy. The color is #409, and is a bit more vivid in real life.

I actually started this around Christmas but had to rip it out because it was way too wide. I only re-started it a week or so ago, and I'm already half done! I was worried about getting this done in time for her shower, but I guess I have nothing to worry about. I even got some yarn to make a little something to go with it (more on that in a future post).

I decided to sign up for Project Spectrum...we'll see how much I follow along with it but I thought it would be fun to get creative with color this year.

Hooray for getting halfway through the work week!

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

First off, thanks for your comments on the cardigan :) I'd respond personally but I still haven't figured out how you respond via e-mail to blogger comments. Anyone feel free to enlighten me!

I'm finding it quite fun to look at all the goodies I was able to make this year:

Frankly, I'm kinda amazed at how much I was able to complete despite my relatively slow knitting pace: five adult sweaters, a baby sweater, a lace shawl, and eight small projects (mittens, socks, scarves). I really had fun making all of them. The only ones that I recall being a bit frustrating were the convertible mittens (trying to convert a single-knit pattern to a double knit pattern and just general fitting problems resulted in many rips and re-knits) and the Cherie pullover (due to pattern errata). As for my favorites, well, the bobble cardigan was probably the most fun to knit, and the flirty ruffles shawl was an exciting challenge...until the ruffles when it became kind of a drag. The items that have gotten the most use (excluding the gifts, no idea how much they get used) are probably G's Germany socks, the Twist cardigan, the Labrador Diamonds mittens, and the Panta headband.

I feel like my knitting skills really came together this year. I finally feel comfortable with sizing of garments and I am starting to have a much better sense of which patterns will work for me and which I will find enjoyable. This year I became an adamant gauge-swatcher (and washer!), which was a very smart thing. Why we avoid that very sage advice when we are newbie knitters
(not to speak for everyone, just seems to be a common thing) I have no idea! I also spent much of this year trying to learn the intricacies of different cast-ons, bind-offs, selvages, seams, etc and I think it is starting to pay off in the finished product. The book "Knitter's Handbook" by Montse Stanley has been invaluable for this.

I don't really have any major goals this year for knitting. I hope to do some more fair isle/color work and I would also like to continue refining the details and finishing techniques on everything I make. I also plan to learn the combination knitting method. I am curious to see if it produces a more even stockinette stitch for me, and of course it would just be fun to learn something new!

My personal goals this year are to try to exercise a bit more regularly, to be a bit more fastidious in cleaning up messes in the house when they happen (and avoid the 20 minute stove top scrub), and most of all to find a new and better job by the end of the year. But hey, I'm not huge on resolutions so, "Que sera, sera"!

Now that you've kindly and patiently sat through these rather boring ramblings, here is a photo of what I am hoping and praying for this week:We are forecast to get 3 to 5 inches tomorrow, although that may change to rain/sleet by afternoon and then back to snow later in the evening. I'm crossing my fingers that the rain isn't enough to ruin the snow...some cross-country skiing would certainly help me with that regular exercise thing!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The bobble cardigan is done, and I could not be any more pleased with how it came out!
I really think this is probably my best finished object to date. All the details look just perfect to me. The measurements came out exactly to the size I knitted, so hopefully that means it will fit my mom OK. I don't think I want to risk leaving this to the whimsy of the US Postal Service, so I will bring it home personally probably no later than Februrary.
Project Notes: Bobble Cardigan, from Vogue Knitting Winter 2004-2005. Knit in Louet Gems Opal merino yarn, color "Cream."

I don't have single complaint regarding the pattern or the yarn. Despite Vogue's reputation for errata prone patterns, I found no problems with this one. It was easy to follow and a great deal of fun to do all the different motifs. It really kept the project interesting. The yarn is likewise delightful: soft, lofty, high quality and a very reasonable price. The only minor problem I had was a very slight bias to the knitted fabric (which doesn't appear to affect the final project), and I'm not sure if this bias was due to the yarn or my own knitting technique.
I decided to throw this one into the Finished Objects for 2006, even though I didn't finish the last seam until New Year's Day. I figure 99.9% of it was done in 2006 :) Next post will have a quick (and belated) "year in review"!