Friday, October 29, 2010

Double Double Cloche - a free pattern

The Not-Just-For-Chemo Reversible Cloche has been out there for a while now, and a lot of people have made it, some for themselves and some for friends and family about to undergo chemotherapy. In the case of the latter I've been enormously glad to be able to offer something that can comfort both the knitter and the person receiving the hat.

It's slowly dawned on me though that that particular cloche, with all the counting required for the stiff linen-stitch brim that disguises hair loss, is not really practical for knitting in worrying times. Some people may find all that necessary attention to detail a useful distraction, but what about people who don't?

I wanted to do something for them, too.

This hat is all knit and purl, and mostly knit. It starts out as flat knitting, a few stitches on a straight needle that you add onto three stitches at a time for a long, rolled, asymmetrical brim.

The brim ends in a bunch of stitches added on at once, after which it's worked in the round. It takes me about a day to knit one, and I knit some of this one standing in line and walking around, so it should stand up to the rigors of pacing or bedside sitting or, if you're lucky enough to be making it just for fun, TV-watching or general chat.

It's named for a popular choice at the popular Canadian coffee shop, Tim Hortons. I'm not much of a coffee drinker myself, and when I do indulge I prefer skim milk and sugar to double cream, double sugar, but I am a fan of Tim's. Since the restaurant expanded beyond donuts into soups and sandwiches every road trip, a lot of last-minute meals, and quite a few lunches with my mum involve Tim's.

You can find Tim's just about anywhere in my neck of the woods, including hospitals. And as I've spent rather a lot of time waiting around in hospitals over the last couple of years, I've learned to appreciate that fact a lot. Tim's represents everyday normalcy and routine, which is exactly what I'm after in a place like that.

Of course, the other reference is to this hat's ability to do double duty. It's cute over hair, but it dips down low enough in back to cover the lack of it. And you can wear the button over either side or over either eye, depending on the angle that best suits your style and the shape of your face.

I knit it in Rowan Silk Wool and whoa, does that stuff ever not tangle! Drawing out a length of that from the ball inside my messenger bag as I moved around was effortless. It feels reassuringly soft in your hands and, having just worn mine out in just-above-freezing temperatures, I can assure you it's quite warm as well.

Download .pdf of Double Double Cloche

Thursday, October 28, 2010

It's happening again

Remember the other time I designed something with Biscotte yarn and I kept frogging back to get it 'just perfect'?

After the third time I realized it was just because I didn't want to stop working with the yarn, but I went on doing it anyway, and when I couldn't find any other potential improvements I did matching handwarmers.

Well, it's happening again. Which I'm sure has nothing to do with the fact that it's another cashmere blend.

I think this time I definitely have the perfect stitch (aka the one that will be so much fun to work I'll stop noticing how soon the project will be finished), but I'm going back to it just to make sure. And next time I drop in here I'll post the new cloche freebie, 'kay?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Confectionery Cap - a pattern for sale

PLEASE NOTE: this pattern is now free :^)  If you click on 'download now' at the bottom of this post, it should take you straight to the .pdf file.

Okay, let's talk hat.

Two summers ago I had the nicest week's worth of afternoons designing and knitting hats in the back yard while chatting with friends and drinking lemonade. Of the two hats I made, one went out into the world and won a place in the top ten - earning it a spot in the pattern section - of 1000 Fabulous Knit Hats. The other made its way into Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts' 2010 issue.

It was a very, very nice week.

The only hitch was that the yarn that inspired that first little cake of a hat was a limited-run bit of gorgeousness long since sold out. Everybody substitutes yarn all the time, I know, but it's nice to have the option to knit the exact hat you're looking at, don't you think? I didn't want knitters having to sort out a different gauge or source new yarn unless they actually enjoy that sort of thing.

So this summer, I spent some time in Romni Wools, a yarn store with just about the hugest selection of yarns you will find anywhere, if not the hugest. And after a leisurely hunt, I found a yarn in colours that nearly exactly match those of the original hat.

I like to include multiple sizes in all my patterns, or else offer a companion piece, so it's easier to use up all of the yarn set aside for it. I knit my own hat in the Adult-medium size, and managed to get a second, in the Child size, out of the remains. The catch was, I didn't have quite enough yarn left to repeat the original crown.

Instead, I striped it.

Both versions are included in the pattern, so you can choose whichever you like.

This hat, even more than the first, spells summer to me - softly warm air, good company, some treats, and above all, tranquility. I'm very glad to be able to offer it here.

Confectionery Cap

Difficulty Level:

Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino (55% Merino wool, 33% Microfibre, 12% Cashmere, 125m/50g) - 1 ball color 340010 (purple), 1 ball color 340018 (green)
1 set 3.25mm/US 3 double pointed needles
1 set 3.5mm/US4 double pointed needles
1 stitch marker
1 tapestry needle

Notes:The ribbing on this hat features a nice little twisty stitch that's easier to work when every other row is knit on larger needles, but the majority of the hat is worked on 3.25mm dpns.

The lattice pattern is finished after the fact with a little duplicate stitch, to prevent any jogs in the design.

download now

Inching onward

Yesterday I tried to focus only on my Clockwork/Winter Warmer shawl scarf thingy, and though I got sidetracked by more pattern editing and some cookie consumption and a brief period of laundry I did make progress:

At this point, it takes approximately 16 years and 2 months to get through the four rows that constitute one stripe, so I'm going to be living with this project a while yet. Well, about another 12 hours if you want to be picky.

Leaving aside that the increase of 2-6 (or is it 8 now?) stitches every other row means each stripe takes longer to knit than the one before it and way longer than the one before that, I have been doing some pondering as I sit with this project.

It shouldn't make a difference whether the crazy number of stitches that go into knitting a sock or a shawl are predominantly horizontal or vertical in their placement, but there is that psychological Whoo! when you finish a row, isn't there. Even if it means you're working 165 rows instead of just 32. Maybe it's the maximization of the Whoo! potential that does it?

On the upside, working the scarf in this direction means I get to use my super wide sale-priced Addi circulars that would otherwise have been a false economy. And all that garter stitch makes this the perfect project to watch TV with, which is rather nice on the current diet of cold wet sleepy coughy-with-a-cold evenings I've been having here.

Knitting while watching movies is in fact so pleasant that I'd enjoy the whole experience if it weren't for there being a few other projects nudging their way into my conscious mind - the matching hat I can't start till I know how much yarn I have left over, the other pattern I want to test out, the quick Christmas knits that have to be done and packed up before their recipients leave for Florida, and then all that sewing my felted wool stash is waiting for me to get to...

GAH. I just have to put my foot to the floor and get my Clockwork done already. Twelve hours, three days. Think I can finish by the weekend?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Festival knitting

Here's what I was carting around with me at the Creativ festival:

I started it Thursday night, finished it Friday night, and I should have the free pattern up later this week, just in time for the temps to start dropping again because my favourite hat from last fall clashes horribly with the Carrot.

How much longer do you think I can get away with justifying new projects on the basis of one cardi?

Okay, time for my New Friend story. A super nice lady asked me for directions to the convention centre and I knew immediately by her gorgeous quilted bag and wheeled suitcase we were going to the same place, so we chatted all the way there, then separated at the tickety thing, only to run into each other again once we were inside for another little visit. After that I found Louise's booth and then wandered off for a while to think over the two-skein problem and hunt for a publishing distributor's booth I'd heard was selling damaged and back-issue magazines at a discount.

I got these two magazines - don't you love that Fair Isle pullover on the right? I might seriously have to make that one, and work in all the colours I wear so it matches everything.

I'd had a slight problem with the Gifts one because I took my eyes off it for a moment and one of the ladies working the booth rearranged it back into order. I asked her about it and she said Oh yes, we do have that one, and also the new issue up at the cash.

The. New. Issue.

You know, the one that's not due out till November 2? The one I have two patterns in?

After I told her I love her, I beelined to the cash where she helped me buy two copies, of which this is one, la la la:

And the moment I walked away, back down the racks of magazines, who should I run into but my friend again? So I had somebody to be all jumpy uppy downy with, right away. She even stayed with me to look at the pictures:

Crafty people make the best new friends, don't you think?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Bought more yarn - wanna see?

Ahhhh, the Creativ Festival, what an experience.

Thanks to strategic delays I managed to time my public transit run immediately after rush hour, reaching my destination station at just the right moment to join a stream of ladies (it really was all ladies as far as the eye could see, though I did spot a few mystified-looking husbandy types later on) making their way on foot to the big event. I even made a friend en route, which came in handy later, but that's a story for another day.

The conference centre where it was booked also hosts the annual auto show, so let's just get it out there: the place is huge. And the lineup to get in, because I got there early? ran all the way around the perimeter of the giant central L-shaped space and then a new line formed inside that one.

I was in the new line. I was the only one knitting in line. The ladies behind me noticed and were amazed I could knit while standing. One asked what I was going to do when the line started moving and I explained that I can knit while walking, so I would just go on knitting. It kind of underscored my sense of freakishness that I can do this. I know it's not actually weird, because Elizabeth Zimmerman explains in her Knitter's Almanac how to knit in a dark car at night and when Elizabeth Zimmerman speaks an awful lot of people listen, but I did feel a bit lonely to be the sole active knitter in such a gathering.

To be fair, there was an awful lot of non-knitty stuff going on. Quilting: lots. Lots of fabric. All the big sewing machine companies were represented and I had to try not to cry at the Bernina area, I want one of those so badly. Some jewelry things, some scrapbooking, some small appliances. And some bookshoppy booths with publications relating to every conceivable craft. But the first thing you saw walking in?

A giant booth full of qiviut, in both knitted and delicate little cake form. Both varieties got a lot of attention, not least because of the gorgeous colours it's dyed in now, but I didn't see too many people buying: it's become just staggeringly expensive since I bought the tiny bit I am hoarding in my stash.

But that's not what brought me all the way downtown:

I went to meet Louise, in person!

I have loved the yarn Louise dyes for her Biscotte shop for - oh, I think it's nearly two years I've been knitting with it. And I've never met her, or seen her things in any medium other than my computer screen before I've paid for it, and I was not going to pass up the chance to do both.

I love this wrap on display in the corner. But I wasn't able to ask what colourway this is or how you make it, because the booth became pretty much a beehive after I got this picture. No surprise, since Louise has a wildly appealing array of affordable luxuries - yarns with cashmere in the mix, or insanely soft merinos, all dyed in the richest and most beautiful colours. In fact it's pretty much Louise's fault I am becoming so spoiled in my fiber preferences.

Seeing the yarns in person was amazing. The colours are - wow. And the base yarns? yum central. It would be so worth making a vacation trip to Montreal with a detour to the shop as the main point.

For a while I was blinking at the bounty (and petting yarns, of course) next to another knitter who was doing the same and I was able to tell her which varieties would do what she was thinking of doing because it turns out I've used them all, but she was not able to tell me which one of the two skeins I had shortlisted would go best with the Carrot Cardi. Neither could Louise, really. So both yarns came home with me:

The purple stripey - which is another skein of Felix, the scrumptious yarn I used for Man Socks - is already wound into two cakes and has leapt to the top of the socks-for-me list, but the mottled green (merino, cashmere, nylon) was quick to make it known it needs to be Something Else... about which, more in a few days when it's a bit further along, heh heh heh.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Three cheers for garter stitch

I'm off shortly for some needlework festing at one of the local conference centres, but before I go I want to crow a bit about finally finishing my first and probably not last Baby Surprise Jacket:

There are so many collar options for a BSJ, including a hood, but I decided to do a simple collar that would stand up in the back - this baby won't be sitting up much till after she's outgrown it and a roll there might be uncomfy - and curl down in front, so as not to get in the way of her chin. To achieve that I worked the front ends of the collar I picked up stitches for with an increasing amount of stocking stitch until only the center back was garter, and then I cast off.

It was so fun to make this, finally - and in spite of all my worries about the scratch factor, the Cascade 220 Superwash came out from its Soaking very very soft indeed. The B-in-BSJ's mum picked out the colours and I think they are smashing together, especially with buttons in the most perfectly matched red.

I got the buttons in a Mennonite charity shop on one of last summer's happiest day trip last summer, ha. I love stuffing bonus good feelings into gifts, don't you? Like sneaking spinach into double chocolate cookies, only prettier.

Of course, I finished off the BSJ at the expense of the latest project that has taken my fancy, and yesterday when I still wanted to be working on said project, I was dutiful and edited patterns instead. And got another ready to take to the show today, because no matter how badly I want to work on it, there is no pretending that a 6-mile-wide scarf thing worked in two colours that keep wrapping around each other the moment they're off the ball is going to be portable.

Consequently I have not gotten nearly so far on Like Clockwork as I'd hoped.

Beautiful though, isn't it? Really I need to be calling this project Winter Warmer. I'm not much of a girl for a beer, but I lived in London lo these many years ago and became completely besotted with Winter Warmer, a seasonal variety sold only in one particular chain of pubs that made me welcome the beginning and end of the year. Seeing Clockwork there in red and Ember with its garter froth and the maple keys scattered around, as tea leaves warning me of the cold that's coming, WW just seems logical.

Another thing I'm noticing from these three pictures is that I've been doing a fair bit of garter stitch lately. In fact I think the garter is what drew me to Clockwork in the first place, now that the Carrot is done and the BSJ too. Garter stitch has such wonderful non-curling properties, and the squish of it when knit in a soft yarn is very pleasant.

To say nothing of all those little wavy ridges: they have a real dignity about them. As we draw to the end of the first week I've been able to wear the Carrot I can tell you that it's almost never off me, and that element of the garter stitch is one of my favourite things about it. (that and the colour. It's just the most fantastic thing in my wardrobe right now.)

The hat that's packed up in today's bag has not a bit of garter stitch (yet), because it's a second cloche design for chemo-related knitting. I can't help thinking an alternating layer of purl rows would be a bit abrasive against bare skin, especially on one's head, no matter how soft the yarn. (But if I can figure out a way to slip some in there, it's so on.)

On the upside, I can knit quite a bit of this pattern while walking around blinking at gorgeous displays of yarn and so forth. So there's a good chance I can get it polished off by bedtime - or bedtime Saturday, anyway.

And then it's all garter all the time because I cannot wait to be able to wrap up my shoulders in the two fantastic yarns I'm using for the Warmer.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A free day

Oh dear, whoever thought a free day would pose such difficulties?

All I would like to do is knit Like Clockwork, but what I ought to do is proofread three patterns.

And cast on for two Christmas presents that have to go off with their recipients to Florida in a couple of weeks.

And sit down with the yarn and draft pattern for a second chemo cloche design I have had in the queue for about a year which I think would be a good idea to have out there for people who need a low cloche design for a friend who is sick, and who quite naturally don't have the focus for the rather challenging linen stitch brim of my Not Just for Chemo one.

On the one hand, I did spend all of yesterday being responsible about groceries and laundry and Achilles tendon repair (soooo much stretching!)

But on the other, it's not as though I'm not going to be All About Me tomorrow, visiting the Creativ Festival and meeting Louise of Biscotte & Cie in person for the first time (red-letter month here for connecting with blog friends, apparently!)

I know the logical thing is to go half-and-half - get my work done, then knit. It's just that it would be such a thing of great self-indulgence to knit all day, don't you think?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Like clockwork

All the way back in July I noticed I had three different yarns that looked as though they were made for each other, and I haven't stopped thinking about them ever since. I even moved two of them off my desk to stop thinking, and it didn't work. I just keep looking for ways to combine them.

Then last week I had a call from Helena - a real live in-person phone call with voice and everything! Which is so amazing, because I almost never get to meet in person friends I've met online. I mean, I've known Kathi for probably 13 years now and we've never so much as Skyped.

The point is, Helena asked me if I'd got my fiber yet from the Twisted fiber club I joined, and I said No, and she said everybody else seemed to be getting it so I would soon, and I did the next day and it is absolutely ooooohhh wow amazing

and I was so distracted by that, it took me about three days to say

wait a minnit. I didn't know Helena joined the fiber club too. And how did she know everybody had their fiber already?

At which point I realized there must be a group on Ravelry for people who love Twisted Fiber Art yarns and fiber. So I found it and joined it and read some posts and


Some extraordinarily wonderful person mentioned in passing that she is knitting Stephen West's Clockwork with two complementary Twisted yarns, in Playful.

Playful being the weight of the graduated stripe in Ember that matches the weight of the matching red Precieux I had tried using in the crazy long scarf I took to my conference last week and was thinking about frogging.

I did take a day or two to think this over - well, maybe I mean hours but it felt like days - before buying the pattern and casting on and getting going, even though there are a lot of things I should be doing instead, not least vacuuming. And even though the point of Clockwork seems to be a good contrast, of which the matchiness of the reds reduces the impact, I am loving how it is coming out.

Knitting this pattern is not unlike sitting within arm's reach of a tin full of freshly-baked shortbread cookies, some with chocolate chips, some without, not that this particular analogy is especially vivid for me in any way, ahem. It's so easy, and each new bit is so satisfying, it is just really really hard to stop and work on something else with an actual deadline.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

All is revealed

Remember back in the spring when I had about four weeks to prepare for and pass my driving test so I could be a grownupish person with a license?

Well, even though I don't actually drive that much, I've gone on being particularly proud of myself for passing on the first try because there was so much I had to fit my driving lessons around, and also put out of my mind so I could concentrate on the perfect parallel park.

It wasn't just the usual day to day Busy, but bonus family health crises, an annoying tendency to get sick myself, the BSJ knitalong I started and ultimately, with shame, had to bow out from to make the rest possible, and two rather urgent mystery knits that had to be perfect and blocked and dried and into the mail about two days after said test.

I wouldn't have missed the chance to do those mystery knits for anything though - because they were for this year's Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts issue. Yes!

Unlike Kathi, I haven't got a clue how to post any of the gorgeous photographs the magazine took of my samples, but I did get some lesser ones before I packaged them up to send.

There is a shawl that looks fussy but is actually a super easy travel knit:

(and which doubles as a scarf):

And of course, a hat:

I cannot wait to get my hands on this issue, and not only because I'm in it. Seriously, scroll through that table of contents, wouldja?

There is so much in there I want to make, and as usual - even though this is the time I should be thinking about presents for other people - all of it for me.

Things like Sarah Fama's Winged Shawl, Talitha Kuomi's Wild Olive Beret, Cecily Glowik MacDonald's Wavy Lace Capelet, Betty Monroe's Sophia Shrug, and Kendra Nitta's Budding Branches hot water bottle cover.

You know, just for a start.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Presenting: the Carrot

It took days full of grueling hours of effort and really far too little sleep, and I was sewing on buttons in the car about two hours before the event to which I wanted to wear it, but I finished the Carrot Cardi!

And the first thing I have to say about that is: this sweater is not slimming.

I swear, when I tried on Jocelyn's cardi in this very size, it was downright flattering. Does green versus grey yarn make that much difference? Surely it couldn't be my discovery of Mike and Ike jelly candies since last spring, or my continuing flirtation with bedtime milk-and-cookie fests?

Probably, but I think it also has to do with the subtle but definitely horizontal striping of the garter stitch, and the possibility that I should have gone down a size to avoid what seems like extra bulk around the raglan seams, combined with an unfortunate length and three-quarter sleeves (about which more in a moment) and a neck that does not lengthen (ditto.)

Still, love it. It's warm and comfy and the first place I walked into after putting it on, a salesgirl I'd never met before said Wow! You can really wear green! And with a nice bold vertically-positioned scarf, it looks just fine.

Nope, I'm definitely not besmirching this fabulous pattern. It's so well thought-out, the fitting so nicely shaped around the waist. I enjoyed knitting it and learned quite a bit and, I think, executed it rather well just by following the directions, which is not something that can be said for every sweater pattern I've tried.

Here is the biggest thing I learned, and it is about measuring gauge.

(Actually I learned it several months ago and neglected to apply it here, which I will put down to the sleep deprivation I mentioned earlier.)

It is this: no matter how hard you stretch a piece of knitting to pin it out for blocking, it will contract a little when it dries and the pins are removed.

How I relearned it: I measured for the sleeve adjustment from the body pieces while they were still pinned out. I knew I would need to shorten the sleeves, not least because these pretty cuffs can't really be rolled up if they come out too long, and I adjusted the distances between increases up from the wrist to reflect the rows-per-inch measurement I got from those pinned out pieces.

And that is why I have three-quarter length sleeves rather than something that comes to the wrist.

The other thing I changed was the neckline. As written, the flopped-back turn of the collar covers much of one's shoulders, and that kind of neck is especially unflattering on me. As soon as I realized where the pattern was going I started short-rowing like a fiend so as to raise the height at the back of the neck and create a gradual slope to the front.

I'm really pleased with how that came out, though I could probably have gone farther with the adjustments if I'd realized the problem sooner.

Whew. Done! Worn! Admired! and now I'm freeeeee!

And not a moment too soon, because on Friday I found this Tortoro pattern I want to knit up, and the yarn I want to use isn't finished being spun and plied yet...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Done like dinner, almost


It took till after 10 last night - hence the really bad lighting that makes the yarn look like one of those 1970s avocado appliances - and even then, only because my two appointments for yesterday rescheduled, but

I got the Carrot's sleeves done and blocked.

(There are two sleeves there, incidentally, one on top of the other so they are sure to be the same. This is why it will take forever for them to dry.)

Did I mention all the math and measuring I did to make sure I was shortening the arm part just enough and not too much for my arms? Well, I had to stretch the dickens out of these things to get them long enough when I was pinning them out. I wonder how long it would have taken to knit them had I done it as directed.

While they're drying, I move on to a happy problem: buttons. The wooden ones I bought for it are much too large for the buttonholes the pattern recommended, so I have to go with Plan B, aka the only four possible options from my enormous button stash, which probably goes some of the way to explaining why so many people have an enormous button stash.

There are two possible reds plus a deep salmon pink:

And a row of pearlized cream coloured ones:

Actually, only five of those truly match, but I figure I can put the one that doesn't quite, right down at the bottom.

What would you choose? I am leaning toward the salmon pink, myself.

This morning I realized the significance of another problem that occurred to me some time ago - specifically, that this lovely green, chosen because the grey I actually wanted was not in stock at the time, clashes with every single pair of my handknit socks. I've reworked my entire wardrobe to put the emphasis on socks and the sweater I'm wearing, and if those two things elements are screaming at each other - well, it will take some of the thrill out of wearing a nice new cardi Out tomorrow night.

So this morning I am hastily casting on some cheaters - just cuffs really, to go over whatever socks I have and peep up out of my boots and look matchy. I have lots of dentist and physio and other sorts of yuck today so a little 2x2 rib should move along very quickly.

(I hope. Because I still have to sew this sweater together, too. And sleep, at some point.)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Never a dull moment

You know that thing knitters do when they're running out of yarn? Knit faster like it's going to go farther that way? Yesterday I started doing the same thing with math. Like:

How long to do this row?

How many rows to each increase?

How many increases?

How far left on the other sleeve?

Okay so - 8 hours today plus 5 hours tomorrow... work in 10 minutes here, 14 minutes there, find a messenger-shaped bag so I can knit while walking from the kitchen to the living room and while checking to see if the water's boiled and going downstairs to shift the laundry from washer to dryer


And here is what I have learned: when you do that much math, there is no excitement left in knitting. You don't have that magical surprise of Hey! I got the sleeve done so much sooner than I thought! I'll get 6 whole hours of sleep tonight before I have to get going on the second one!

This is why, I am quite sure, I subconsciously messed up the first sleeve of the Carrot cardi yesterday. When I was just about to do the decreases for the raglan opening, I counted my stitches and discovered that I had added a stitch or three somewhere in a much earlier increase. At first I thought I could fake it but I guess my tension was a little different when I worked that sleeve, too. When I did the bulk of the second sleeve perfectly and compared them I realized even after blocking I'd be wearing a sweater that suggested a rutabaga stuffed up one forearm, so I frogged.

I didn't do the math on how many rows I could have knit during the frogging.

I don't remember the math that told me how many hours I have to knit to get back to where I was.

But I am hoping it will stop raining soon, because I have to walk to some appointments today and I could really use that time to knit.

(Reality check: I need to knit about 8 hours today or the sleeves won't be dry enough from blocking to sew to the sweater on Saturday. And I have stuff I have to do and acupuncture to grit my teeth through and I haven't slept much in two days. Think I can hold out? h'mmmmm.)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My first sweater

I've been thinking a lot lately about the first sweater I ever knit, which I think may also have been my first project, because I don't remember doing anything but those Knitting Nancy tubes beforehand (though surely there were some horrible swatches in there somewhere.)

Yesterday I went looking and it turns out I still have the magazine I got it from!

I even remember where I got it - for some reason it was the only convenience store selling a wide selection of magazines and though it was a long walk to get there, I went back several times trying to decide whether I could really afford it on my teen-job wages.

That's it, the one on the right, though as I recall I spent a lot of time dreaming over the one on the left, too. Especially that ribbon in the model's hair!

My finished sweater was big and fluffy, knit in pink acrylic such that I looked as though I had been rolled in cotton candy, and I loved it and wore it every single day it wasn't too hot to do that.

Isn't it funny - every time I see references to Brioche stitch I think, whoa, that looks like too much hard work (which is ridiculous given the number of Aran sweaters I've made, but still.) And now that I've looked through this magazine again I can see that I did a whole sweater of brioche right out of the gate, had I but known.

What was your first sweater? Do you even remember now?

In very much related news, I'm still clinging to the now-remote possibility of finishing my current sweater in time for Saturday supper. Here's pretty much what the sleeves look like so far:

(I'm alternating yarns for both for a bit because I am pretty sure I don't have enough of the original dye lot to finish, and I figure blending is the better way to go.)

Yeah, I know, I'm toast. But it turns out I do have one advantage: super short arms. I had to spend a lot of knitting time yesterday measuring and re-measuring my arms to see how long the sleeves should really be and figuring out how to space the increases, but I'm saving a lot of rows in the process.

And now if you'll excuse me...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Spinning and a problem

Last week had in it some time set aside for my new-to-me spinning wheel. I know I won't spin well on it right away, so I'm being patient and using fiber I won't regret ruining - some undyed brown wool with rather a lot of hay and oats in it from sheep of a breed I couldn't begin to guess at.

However, this technique may be backfiring on me.

I'm making some progress - I've gotten across the whole surface of the bobbin - but I'm still getting a very blotchy single:

I assumed all these lumps and clumps were a drafting problem since drafting is a bit of a challenge with this stuff. I pre-drafted a lot, several times, to see whether things improved, and they didn't. This picture doesn't show any drafted fiber, by the way. Just that I spun right up to the non-drafted stuff in my despair and desperation to make this work.

After a while, I quietly put away the wheel and slipped to the yarn cupboard for my spindle and the green wool fiber I bought in September, for a bit of an ego boost.

This is bouncy, fuzzy stuff that spins up superfast, with almost no drafting at all, and is the most beautiful shade of green. Really the whole thing is downright addictive: if I weren't so set on finishing my Carrot cardi, I'd have all the rest of it spun and plied by bedtime today.


I still love spinning.

The green sheep produced drafting-friendly fiber.

I know how to use a spindle.

I don't know how to use a wheel.

The brown sheep's fiber is hard to draft.

So - is the problem the wheel or the fiber, or both? I have been stymied by really, really very much not wanting to ruin any of the gorgeous fibers I have in my stash, but now I'm wondering whether I should try spinning the brown stuff on a spindle, just to see if it goes better - and if it does, I'll know I have to try spinning something else on the wheel.

Only I'd better not think about this again for a few days, because

both my spindles are full
and I'd have to clear the green one
and if the green one was yarn off the spindle I'd want to spin the rest
and then ply it
and then wash it
and then knit with it

I really, really want to finish the Carrot.

* * * * *

updated to add:

I'm not the only person to want more green sheep!

Monday, October 11, 2010

A carrot for the Carrot

This weekend somebody mentioned next weekend, which marks not only the midway point of the all-too-brief cardi-wearing season, but also the date of an Outing for which it would probably be nice for me to look, well, Nice.

Obviously Nice does not suggest a big sloppy cardi. Even if I had a such a thing newly finished, and paired it with a dozen skirts or swell pants to make it work as a nice outfit, I would walk out of the house in something fancier than a big woolly green sweater fitted subtly at the waist with elegantly roughened points on the ends of the cuffs.

Be that as it may, I was suddenly struck by the conviction that if I just knit like a madwoman I can have the entire sweater knit, blocked, assembled, ends run in, and buttons selected and sewn on in time for supper on the 16th, and knuckled down:

While I knit, I realized that at some point I will have to sew this thing together. That scared me, so when I finished the second front I decided to get going and block it along with the other front and the back, all stacked up together and pinned to ensure they all have the same shape:

I managed to get my much-longed-for extra inch in length, which may save me knitting a separate ruffle to stitch on to the bottom.

Hopefully some wonderful button solution will strike me while I'm working on the sleeves. I have wood ones, but I'm wondering about vintage black plastic, possibly because I have so many of those, and it will add an hour or two to the process. The things you learn about yourself when you take up knitting...

Friday, October 8, 2010

Weekend knitting

For we Canadians, this weekend is Thanksgiving. And as if we didn't have enough to be thankful for, the week that started out horribly cold and damp and grey has given way to seasonally-appropriate warmth and sunshine and crisp red, yellow, and orange leaves everywhere you look and step.

It's a good time to have three days off, even if you just found out your Achilles tendon is hurty because it has microtears in it and the physio you had yesterday made your leg so achy you don't even want to think about nature walks in the nubbly green tweed cardi that would have been finished by now if you didn't keep getting distracted by other projects.

But we won't talk about the Carrot Cardi today.

Instead I would like to recommend bringing some knitting with you to doctor's appointments not just to knit, but to clutch when treatments get nasty. Turns out the fastest way to heal an Achilles tendon is to use acupuncture, so I said Yes! even though I have a natural aversion to things being pressed through my flesh. I figured, it's in my calf, and I don't have to look at it - how bad can it be? and it wasn't really. Just bad enough that I was grateful to have some sock yarn in a Japanese linen bag in my fist.

After the needles were in and the electrodes were hooked up, I discovered I would be remaining in this state for ten minutes, so I asked my physiotherapist to kick her stool over in front of the table I was lying face down on so I could rest my knitting bag there. And then I propped my chin up and knit for the duration.

Okay, I can't really not talk about the Carrot because I've been abstaining from socks as long as I'm at home so as to give it lots of love and attention. And I do love knitting this sweater. If it didn't have shaping that requires just a little more attention than I can give to pure travel knitting, I would have two of them finished and being worn right now, it's that nice.

In fact it's so nice, I'm noticing Other Sweaters. Sweaters I might like to fill the guilt void that will be left when the Carrot is finally done. Which is sort of a problem because there is a high risk I will start such a sweater before the Carrot is done.

My biggest problem is Hannah Fettig's Mariner Pullover, featured on the cover of Interweave Knits Weekend 2010.

I was waiting for this one to hit the stands because I saw a preview of the patterns in it and they are pretty great, but when I sat down with it later I found my eyes wandering back to various other perspectives on Mariner.

I tried, I really did. I mean, what's not to love about the lushly cabled Olivier Pullover by Coralie Meslin?

(which reminds me, has anybody else fallen truly madly deeply for Beatnik in the current issue of Knitty? I suppose it would be tempting fate to try to morph these two sweaters together so as to combine the yarn of one and the neck of the other and so on. Really it would be much more sensible just to make both.)

And check out the adorable Trellis Socks that Katya Frankel designed, which I bet would be fantastic in one of my four-colour striped yarns from Knitterly Things.

But nothing seems to be putting Mariner out of my mind. I think I want it in exactly the yarn it was designed with, too. Maybe I'll put that on my Christmas list and hurry up with finishing the Carrot, so Santa will figure I've been good enough this year to rate another handknit sweater for next.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Sailor's Delight

Well, it was an adventure making these socks, but they're done:

And I've worn them: in spite of the few errors I made and didn't frog back to fix -

I decided I didn't care if one foot was a full round longer than the other, even though that translates to more than 1/8" which is definitely noticeable, and I somehow managed to make one cuff come up longer than the other as well -

they are still super comfortable. And warm? Whoa.

I wasn't sure how the red part was going to work out because the weight of that yarn is so much heavier. In fact the cuff it produced is like board; I didn't have to worry about ribbing, because it stands up entirely on its own.

Best of all, adding the red produced the perfect length for my boots:

And there's enough left to make cuffs for the next skein of boot sock yarn. As long as I make both feet the right length this time.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How far in a day.

Experiment: complete. Turns out I can work through almost 65g of yarn (about 190 yards) between the hours of 9am and 3:30 pm. I did take a break to eat lunch at that conference, but I also knit all the way home while I walked, so I figure it's a wash.

This was gratifying, and it was very nice to be touching cashmere and angora and lambswool all day, and the simple stitch is very beautiful, but I'm back to thinking that a 10" wide scarf is not the best use of 200g of this yarn, so I may frog. Or supplement. Haven't decided.

Monday was cold, so I cast on for a new hat with my very first handspun before heading out to a 2-hour meeting I could knit through. That one fairly quickly looked like this:

and I even got as far as well-through-the-crown before I got home. But then I tried it on and: no.

Turns out that when thick and thin yarn goes from super bulky to laceweight in a matter of inches, repeatedly, you run a high risk of having your gauge change dramatically and in clumps. This does not produce a flattering hat shape.

Also, it appears I need more circular and/or double-pointed needles, because I only have up to 4.5mm in the materials and points I like, and I would have needed 6mm for this project. I'm going to give it one more try with the needles I have though - the photo above having been taken just before I started attempt number two, also since frogged - this time with the tiny bit I spun from this colourway after I figured out how to use a spindle.