Tuesday, January 10, 2012

FO: Urban Necessity Gloves

Finally!!! I finished these on Dec. 30 and wrapped them up to give to my dad on New Year's Eve ... just in time for the warmest winter Northern California has had in a while. But it felt great to get these done, nevertheless.

Pattern Specs

Pattern: Urban Necessity Gloves
Yarn: Cascade 220 Wool, gray (8401)
Needles: US 6 dpns
Started: September 19, 2008
Finished: December 30, 2011
Total Time: way too long
Cost: ~ $15-20

My only modification was leaving out the design on the mitten cap. I used a long tail cast-on for the ribbing on both the wrists and mitten cap, to make sure they were stretchy and strong.

For some reason, the mitten cap ribbing on the right mitten (which I knit second) has a purl row, unlike the other mitten. Eh,whatever. At that point I could smell the finish line and wasn't going to rip back because of something like that.

My dad tried them on and they fit really well, but I cringed the whole time as he stuffed his hands into them and pulled the mitten caps on and off ... it's difficult not to treat your knits like your children and accept the fact that gifted knits belong to someone else and you have no control over how they're treated.

I hope my dad gets a lot of use out of these guys ... they were a long time coming!

Next up? A Cambridge Watchcap for my wonderful, tolerant boyfriend. Not knitting anything with appendages sound really, really appealing.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Mitts That Would Not Die

According to my Ravelry account, I started making a pair of Urban Necessity Mitts for my dad on Sept. 19, 2008. Ever since that fateful day when I thought it was a fantastic idea to work on them in class (it wasn't), every attempt to finally finish them has ended in more mistakes, swearing, frustration, stupid mistakes, tears and, occasionally, blood.

When I packed in preparation to visit my parents, I took the mitts along, fully intending to finish them in time for Giftmas. But I somehow left the pattern at home. It's available online, so it's not a deal-breaker.
Tonight, I will attempt (again), the previously insurmountable feat: conquering once and for all The Mitts That Would Not Die. All that's left is the mittencap on the second one. I've gotta do it. I've gotta show these mitts who's boss so I can finally move on to a different project. And I have to finish them now, because who the hell wears mittens in the summertime??

Mitt No. 2, taunting me back in January 2011

Monday, June 20, 2011

Bad Knitter

Well. The title pretty much sums it up. There has been very little knitting because -- I'm ashamed to say -- I'm lazy and uninspired.

After the unfinished glittens languished for two years, I finally fixed the (stupid) mistake in January and completed the first one. Half-way through the second, I realized I was making the wrong increases -- ones that left noticeable holes. Down went the glittens again. Almost three years on a project is pretty damn pathetic. My dad probably doesn't expect to ever receive them -- and can I blame him?

I've always been a sporadic knitter. My fiber-frenzies usually reflect whatever is going on in my life. The times I am most secure and confident are the most productive. Though there have been a lot of really positive changes lately, I've come to realize that these don't necessarily add up to "perfect" ... at least not immediately. I've shrugged off a dead-end relationship, celebrated one year with an amazing guy, got into the university of my dreams -- but while I felt sure of my goals last year, things are now nebulous.

Knitting has always been a comfort, especially in times like these, when one of the few things I could control were the stitches on my needles, when the only things going according to plan was the pattern. Knitting has taught me this important lesson of controlling what we can and not waging a Sisyphean battle against what we cannot. I've also learned a good deal about myself, especially from this recent lapse: when problems arise, I've always taken a certain amount of pleasure in solving them. I'm like my dad that way; we both want to puzzle over it until it's fixed. Maybe I've become a bit weary in that department. But people problems are different than, say, knitting ones. If I don't start fixing my problems now, they'll pile up and suffocate me. There's nothing more depressing than looking around yourself and seeing unfinished projects and failed attempts -- and that goes way beyond just knitting.

Many say that real life experience is what counts -- and that's true in many ways -- yet since recorded time, and most likely long before, humans have played games and told stories: allegories for life. Knitting is one of those safe arenas, with the added benefit of finished products. I've admitted to myself that I have issues with following through. The glittens are a good place to start.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Everything but the Main Thing

This summer, I did a lot of things: spent time with friends, made my first cheesecake, bought used books, came home way too late, cursed the heat, kept the house clean, and slept in excess.

I don't have a photo of my cheesecake, so instead, here are macaroons.

An unfortunate side-effect of having so much free time and so many ways of filling it was that I didn't knit much. Still, in retrospect, I wish I had taken the time to blog a little. You know, for posterity. There's something about blogging about what you do that feels deliciously introspective and validating. But that's not a novel realization, is it, now. Hopefully now that I've got responsibilities again, I can get off my ass and blog every week (that's my goal amount, anyhow!)

So what became of my Citrus Yoke sweater? Katie Himmelberg sent me a reply right away but I didn't actually get what I was doing wrong until I actually posted a cry for help on Ravelry. The solution was simple: I didn't know how to do a yo correctly! Instead of passing the yarn over and then making a knit stitch, I had been knitting a stitch and then making a real yo stitch! Hey, the good thing is, I'm never going to forget how to do it now!
So after that little epiphany, things progressed pretty smoothly, save for a narrow miss or two. In my frustrated attempts to start the sweater, I'd tortured the first few feet of yarn so badly that I had to cut it off... but I was so, so happy to finally be getting somewhere!

The yoke was really fun to knit and, best of all, easy to memorize. As always, I mostly knit at work but I'd sometimes bring it to the cafe my friends and I got obsessed with going to for a while. I'll never get tired of how people react to my knitting; I love it, seriously. And as simple knit is perfect for KIP; you can afford to be a little distracted.
I also LOVE that the whole sweater is knit in the round. After knitting my first sweater in 4 parts and seaming it, the Citrus Yoke was magic--and so simple!

My coworkers' reaction to this sweater was hilarious; they couldn't understand how a tube with holes was going to grow into a sweater! I think they began to get the idea as I started on the body and made the armholes...

I've gotta admit, plain stockinette can put you in a coma, especially the arms. But it was perfect for knitting on the job, though I did manage to lose my stitch marker when knitting one of the sleeves and wasn't sure where the row began; quite a freak-out ensued.

I also had a little trouble with the length of the sleeves, though it had nothing to do with the pattern and everything to do with my stupidity! As I remember, the pattern says to make the sleeves 19" long (for the size I made) but after measuring that out on my own arm, I decided that that was a little short. So I went up to 21.5". But when I was done with the sweater and went to try it on, the sleeves were about an inch too long--the silly long, not the comfy long! I took it to knitting night last Wednesday--my first in months!-- and tinkered back about 5 rows on each sleeve. I haven't tried it on yet to see how the sleeves are...but I will!!

Overall, I'm really pleased with this sweater and even more pleased that I seem to be getting better at knitting things faster--and at starting something new almost as soon as I'm done. Yep, I'm working on something else, but that's for the next post...

Monday, June 02, 2008

What Next?

So after finally finishing the afghan (which, incidentally, the recipient has yet to pick up...), I needed to decide on my next project.
For a while I was stuck between these two: the Citrus Yoke pullover from the Winter 2007 edition of Interweave Knits and a cabled jumper from a Needful Yarns booklet (click photos for source).

Long story short, I decided on the Citrus Yoke pullover since I, uh, couldn't decide whether or not I wanted to use the yarn the cabled jumper called for. Why? Because it's partially acrylic. I had almost decided to pony up and get the aforementioned yarn but still really wanted to find a substitute. The called-for yarn is chainette instead of plied, so my choices are pretty narrow. I did see some similar yarns that could have worked, though.

Anyhow, I decided to knit Citrus Yoke first...

The needles

Picking the yarn was a bit trying since I couldn't decide which color I wanted, Pumpkin or Orange. I was going from looking at the yarns on my laptop to looking at the color in the magazine under the white light lamp across the room. In the end I chose Orange and I think it was the right choice; it's a bit darker than Pumpkin, and therefore not as 'orangey'. With my light skin and dark hair, It's very easy to look like I'm dressed for Halloween.

In direct sunlight

The yarn: Valley Yarns Berkshire Bulky; Wool & Alpaca; 108 yds; in 'Orange'.

I have to say, this yarn is pretty nice. Soft and very resilient, the latter because I've frogged it so many times.
I can't seem to make it past the neck of this sweater, it's just not coming out right no matter what I try. The pattern doesn't have any errata and nobody on Ravelry seems to have the same problem as I do. So I ended up sending a message to the designer, Katie Himmelberg, a few hours ago, asking for help. This sweater is making me feel seriously stupid.

See that seed stitch on the sides? Well, that's supposed to be reverse stockinette...

The good news is that I now know how to yo and ssk. But yeah, it'd be great if I could actually figure out what I'm doing wrong.

Around the same time that I got the yarn for Citrus Yoke I went to my LYS and picked up some more delicious yarn.

The yarn: ShibuiKnits Sock; Merino.

I've got 2 skeins of this and they will eventually become a scarf for my girl cuz. I think I've finally figure out a pattern for it, after hours of fruitless swatching with the Red Heart I usually reserve for stuff like that. I really like the vision I have for this scarf so I hope it works out. More info to follow...

Friday, April 18, 2008

FO: VK Block and Cable Throw...with a slightly different meaning

While you've always known 'FO" to be an acronym for 'finished object', there exists a slightly different meaning that applies to projects of a certain caliber: 'Finally Over'.

I've finally done with the Block and Cable throw and I couldn't be more pleased--and excited to be able to start something new! I cast off Tuesday evening but there were still dozens of ends to weave in.
All in all, this baby took me 8 months to complete. Eight! Mind, that's 8 months of knitting mainly on the weekends, sitting at my desk at work all day, answering the phone and the like. Sheesh, that's almost as long as it takes to make an actual baby.

But before I show glorious photos of this thing, a few tidbits about the previously hinted-at shenanigans.

About 20 or so rows before finishing it, I realized that I was going to run out of yarn! Now, I was sure that I'd bought the right amount but I wasn't about to give up any length. As luck would have it, Knit Picks has discontinued their superwash worsted weight yarn so I turned to Ravelry and found 2 skeins for sale! Thanks Christine!! (As if one needed more reasons to love Ravelry). I ended up needing only about 3/4 of one, which is okay by me.

The second shenanigan was really my fault, but I'm in a diffusion-of-responsibility kind of mood, so let's just chalk this one up to the afghan, shall we?
This blanket has a 5-stitch knit border, which is sometimes preceded by 2 knit stitches. Sometimes I'd space out and purl those 5 stitches when they followed 2 knit stitches--I guess it made sense to me somehow. I'd usually catch the mistake as I knit the next row and rip back to fix it, but not this time. When I caught this one, I had 4 or 5 rows of stockinette stitch, meaning that I'd made the mistake more than once!
Like before, I tried undoing just those 5 stitches but for some reason it didn't work and I ended up with a bigger mess than before! In the end, I threaded a lifeline 9 rows above and frogged. I'm one of those knitters who doesn't mind ripping back at all; in fact, I find it satisfying. There's something about undoing something you've just done, and the knowledge that you're fixing a mistake. But it really surprised me how fast 9 rows, each consisting of 200 stitches, could be frogged. In less than a minute I had undone hours' worth of work. Kind of humbling, in a way.

After that, things progressed smoothly. I bound off and then took a couple days to weave in the many, many ends. Sheesh, I ran out of yarn despite using every last morsel! My gauge must be abysmally off...or it's just of of VK's mistakes.

I'm SO excited to finally give this to Paul!

Pattern Specs

Block and Cable Throw #29, Vogue Knitting Magazine
Yarn: KnitPicks Swish Superwash Wool in Sand Dune(18 balls)
Needles: #9 circulars
Started: September 2007
Finished: April 15, 2008
Total Time: about 7.5 months
Cost: $58.93 (not including needles)
Satisfaction (1-10): 9.5

I was going to hang it out in the sun for a few hours after blocking it but then got lazy and decided that I've kept it clean while I knit it as it is.

It looks like the length is about right--60"--since it reaches all the way up to my chin! KnitPicks' Superwash wool is soft and springy, so it shows off the cables and texture very well. It's amazingly warm, too! All I have left is to make a card with care instructions and it'll be ready to be gifted.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

A little undeserved hedonism...

Despite my better judgment, after finishing class last Friday, I made a beeline for my favorite downtown haunts: the LYS and the thrift store. It's no so much that I needed a reward as much as a morale boost. I ended up dropping my physics class a few weeks ago since only a miracle would've made me get a passing grade; serves me right for taking 3 science/math classes in one semester. So while I still don't have time to knit during the week, I now have time to study for my remaining classes!

I wanted the new issues of IK and VK badly and since they've been out for a while now, I knew my best bet was my LYS rather than the bookstore. While I love this store's atmosphere and selection, their customer service isn't famous for being great; some people have gotten ignored, others talked-down to. I usually feel like I don't belong and that the sales person isn't giving me her complete attention. But that's no big tragedy, at least not to me. I get most of my yarn online, anyhow (shame, shame).
So after the saleslady laboriously finishes typing my info into the computer ("to let you know about sales") she hands me a notice on a pink slip of paper: the store is moving! Whaa?! It's not moving very far, but I'll no longer have my favorite places in the same same area--so much for my bank-LYS-thrift store triangle. But I'm glad I found this out before showing up to find an empty store!

The next stop was the thrift store where I scored some pretty good loot, as always:

A few books to satisfy the bibliophile within

A few records to add to the already sizable collection

And lastly, my most favorite find...

Maybe I'm the only one who can't help giggling over this. I don't know when this was published in relation to, oh, everything else she's famous for, but I'll definitely look it up. The book's actually not bad at all, content-wise. I'm actually going to use this book.

As for the VK Block and Cable afghan, it's still in progress but so, so close to being finished.

Its latest shenanigans will be explained in a later post. I'm really looking forward to getting it done and gifting it.

I can't believe how big it's gotten!

A happy weekend to you! Now stretch!

Friday, March 21, 2008

FO: Seaman's Cap (and other news)

Pattern Sepecs

Pattern: Seaman's Cap by Brenda Zuk (Ravelry)
Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca (6209); 3/4 skein
Needles: US #6, 7
Started: January 2008
Finished: February 2008
Total Time: >1 month
Cost: $8.50/skein, ~ $6.38
Satisfaction (1-10): 10

After being sick for a week and then desperately trying to catch up with my classes afterwards, I finally got around to blogging!

I'm pretty sure that Donny liked his hat, although he couldn't understand why the yarn was a little fuzzy. I blocked the hat a little so that the brim wouldn't roll up so much but it still does a little bit. Otherwise, I'm extremely happy with this FO! It knit up so quickly and the pattern was straightforward. Since I've finished it, two other salesguys at work have requested hats.

A while ago I had started on my dad's Urban Necessity Gloves (Ravelry) but only got half-way through the cuff before frogging them. I had knit loosely at one of the joins and couldn't get it to tighten up. Besides, a different cast on method will probably make the k1p1 ribbing look better.
Knitting with 5 DPNs, how shall I say it, perilous. I've more or less gotten the hang of holding my work so that it doesn't flop around everywhere, but it can still be awkward sometimes. Knitting on two circs looks really good at times like this.

I'm still plugging away at the VK Block and Cable throw. A testament to exactly how long I've been working on it is that the manager I'm making it for no longer works for the company. Not to worry, I emailed him and will hopefully get it to him soon. Two repeats to go! (Plus the half-a-repeat and border at the end). There are dozens of little ends to weave in, too, and that's going to take a while.

Lately I've been itching to buy things knitting-related (like the latest IK that I haven't had time to pick up!). Actually, this offer from Interweave has caught my attention:

The book would be really helpful for a self-designed sweater that I'm planning to knit in the future, and the yarn requirements pamphlet is bound to come in use whenever I don't use a pattern. For $24.95, I just might...

It's beginning to look a lot like spring...

Does it make me a bad person if I wish it would stay cold for a little bit longer?