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?

Monday, February 04, 2008

A Tale of Two Firsts

Want to know what else is a first? Updating more than once a month. Blogging to document my knitting as well as getting to know other knitters is my ultimate goal and I'm slowly learning what it takes to achieve that. Perhaps viewing laziness as a virtue is part of the problem...

But onto the aforementioned firsts!

After finishing my VK pullover (Ravelry link), I decided to knit my mom a hat, something I'd been promising to make her for a while. She had picked out the yarn (Rowan Super Chunky) and the pattern (Sideways Hat), as well. The result was so deliciously hilarious that I'm surprised that I forgot to blog about it. In the end, the hat wouldn't have fit my fist. For those familiar with Ravelry, this is my very first Ugh!

The construction is interesting enough--it's knit sideway and incorporates a lot of short tows--but my gauge must've been insanely off. I know I knit tightly, but this was ridiculous! Anyhow, I frogged it a few days after 'finishing' it. The yarn is lovely and I'll have to find a pattern that suits it.

Mom still wants a hat, of course, and had the nerve to request one made from the yarn I was using for another project. Incidentally, the other first!

My first hat, ever! Heck, it's the first thing that I've knit in the round, with the exception of the collar for my VK pullover. Mom was lusting over the yarn and lucky for her, I have a whole skein left (I have no idea why I bought 2 when I only needed less than one.) The yarn was a dream to work with; incredibly soft and warm with just the right amount of fuzzing. The recipient was very pleased. Donnie is a sales guy at my work. He'd come by once in a while to watch me knit it and ask questions about what I was doing; really, that's the best part about knitting for someone. Even though I finished it last week I don't have photos yet.

A closeup of the inside of the fold-up brim:

Currently, I'm only working on Paul's Block and Cable throw. I promised him that it would be ready by mid February and hopefully I can make that deadline. I've only got 4 pattern repeats to go and while that doesn't sound like much, my classes are borderline overwhelming so it's not a guarantee. Compared to the Berroco Ultra Alpaca I used for Donnie's' hat, the yarn I'm using for this afghan feels like cotton even though it's wool! Is this yarn love? Funny, I've never experienced that before and frankly I like it. I want to knit everything with Ultra Alpaca. Absolutely everything.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The not-so-finished FO

Pattern Specs

Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer 1989
Knit Picks Gloss (Woodland Sage); 7 skeins
Needles: US #2, 3
April 2007
Finished: November 2007
Total Time: ~8 months
Satisfaction (1 to 10): 8

Well, here it is. All finished, or so it seems. Seems. Seams! As I'd expected, the seaming part was a bit of a challenge, but not impossible. The sides didn't quite match up in length so I thought I'd be clever and cinch up the longer side little by little as I seamed. It's a worthy technique, no question, but it was probably no match for the length difference I was trying to hide (which wasn't that much). Needless to say, the sides pucker in a way that doesn't exactly inspire joyful kissing:
ARG! Look at that puckering! The first picture shows the weird hip curve as well--that part definitely sticks out too much. My only option is to rip out the side seams and start over.
But wait, there's more!

What the hell is up with these sleeves?! (I'm not even going to rant about how very 80s they are because, well, the pattern's from the 80s so it's my fault). But it is what it looks like: a pouch on my underarm. Amy Winehouse has nothing on this little hiding place. I know that I knit the sleeves as per the pattern, so what gives? I can understand the shoulder pads--it was the 80s, after all--but what's with the weird bagginess? Does it serve as a purse? Illusion of big muscles? Easy accommodation of arm fat one may acquire between 9 and 5?

Actually, I'm not angry in the least. It was an invaluable learning experience both technically and, uh, practically. Older patterns should be picked with care; it's useful to check for errata, too.

One more detail I'm a bit perplexed about and then it's on to happier stuff:

The ridges don't match up! I painstakingly matched them up for the sleeves and upper body, but there just wasn't the same number on both sides. Weird, but at least the evidence isn't in a noticeable place! Unless I lift up my arms and flaunt it.

So as for the puckering, it seems like my only option is to take the sides apart and start over. Unless I stash it in my closet and never see it again, that is. Which would be sad, considering how much effort I've put into it. No, I'll get to it soon, because otherwise I can't let myself start a new project (there's a gorgeous sweater I've been eyeing in the last issue of IK)!

Paul's afghan is progressing well. I can't believe how big it's gotten!

Yep, it's long enough to cover my legs but I've still got almost as much left to go! I somehow didn't manage to work on it very much during the week while I was on winter break. Weekends, however, are completely dedicated to working on this afghan. Work would be intolerable otherwise. It's already being put to good use, actually, as the room I work in is really cold. It's much better with a snuggly afghan on your lap although it'd be even better if I could tuck it under my feet, too! Anyhow, I promised Paul that I'd be done with it by mid February, but we shall see. It's gotten too heavy to bring to school, which is just as well since all of my classes this semester are math ans sciences; no opportunity to knit.

In other news, I've gotten the hang of knitting with DPNs! I started Donny's hat (procrastination has the darndest effects, eh?) but I'll probably rip it out and start over. The joins weren't the neatest and want this hat to come out well.