31 August 2006

Room By Numbers

I... don't really have much knitting to show you today. I did a few rows on various projects, but it's been sort of an ADD day for me, so instead of showing you knitting, I'll show you my room. (Click it for a better look.)

room by numbers

1. The hoodie I have dubbed "My Fair Intarsia" sits expectantly in my favorite chair. The chair was left at my sister's apartment by the previous tennant, and since sis said, "blech," when she first saw it, I adopted it.

2. I need to take the contents of this bag (mostly empty soda bottles) down to the kitchen so I don't accidentally kick the bag... again.

3. Who doesn't love a giant, brightly-colored, bouncy ball? (If you look really carefully by the window, you can see the dome of a lamp. That dome has a jagged hole in the top from where the ball hit it one day when I was being silly. Kids, listen to your parents when they tell you not to bounce balls in the house.)

4. My riding helmet needs to go back in my car.

5. This stack of craft books does have a home... it just seems to like where it is more than where it should be.

6. Can you see the reflection of the tripod in the mirror? And hey! That blue, wrinkly thing is me! ...Why do I sound like I'm a geriatric smurf?

7. FREEDOM!!! (and a Norway Maple)

8. I need to do laundry tonight. I swear, half of this room is my to-do list. That's probably why it looks so messy. Not that it looks much neater when everything's done... there's only so much you can do when your entire life is packed into a 10'x15' room.

9. It's a resin armadillo. Mom got one for herself, I said, "gee, that's cute," and somehow sis and I each ended up with one on our birthdays. He's guarding a bunch of video tapes, a spool of fishing line, and...

10. PEZ dispensers! Let's see... there's Belle (Beauty & The Beast), Jasmine (Aladdin), Cinderella, Homer Simpson, C3PO, Wedge Antilles, and Boba Fett. I grew up on Disney fairy tales and Star Wars, and I like The Simpsons. Well, used to, anyway.

11. I love this fan. It's pretty old and takes a few minutes to get going, but it's quiet and strong.

12. This phone isn't plugged into anything, nor does it work. It was fried a while back after a lightning strike, and... I'm not really sure how it got from the attic to my room, but I know why we're keeping it: It Might Be Useful Someday.

13. There's my tripod bag. Exciting, eh?

14. I found this pair of boots in a parking lot one night and brought them home. They're in good condition, but a size too small for the bf, so I've been planning on dropping them at the Salvation Army. One of these days.

I should probably get back to knitting now, huh? *sigh* Fine. Hmm, I wonder what's on TV.

30 August 2006

Shrug It Off

This is something from the WIP list that fell by the wayside when I started the hoodie. Well, more like I got sick of it, so I started the hoodie as a distraction. Half of it is shown here and the other half is still on the needles (waiting for me to give it two solid days of work to get it finished.)

grey cabled shrug

The yarn is Lion Brand "Jiffy" in "Pearl Grey"; cheap acrylic, but very soft. I made a shrug from this yarn last Halloween (partly-seen here), but didn't like it. I used one pattern for the back, another for the sleeves, and it just didn't match. I then regretted my decision to frog... the pattern I'd used on the sleeves wasn't one that ripped out nicely. Still, I got it ripped, balled up the yarn, and tossed it in my yarn basket until it decided what it wanted to be. It wanted to be another shrug.


The lattice pattern is one I've always loved, and I figured it would be perfect for a small-ish project like this, especially with bulky yarn. It'll be stretched crosswise more than it is in these pics because I designed it to be very snug, so the pattern will pop a bit more.

cable closeup

I should have done the ribbing on smaller needles, but that thought didn't occur to me until after I'd finished the first half and was halfway through the ribbing on the second half.

Speaking of needles, I'm using my US#10 Brittany needles, which are so soft and light... knitting on wood is unlike anything else. Get a pair of these needles and you'll see what I mean. I just wish they made circs.

The latest try at the hoodie is coming along well. I think I've got the size right, finally, and I have some ideas for modifying the cable as the sleeve gets wider. I'll show you in a day or two.

29 August 2006

Third Time's the Charm

I swear, this hoodie is going to turn me into more of a lunatic than I already am. But since this is a Lair of Lunacy, that shouldn't be a problem. ;)

I finished a sleeve. Done, beautiful, ready to be pinned and tried on... and it was too tight. While blocking could have helped a little, I don't want to have to rely on that to make the garment fit properly. So... I frogged it. The whole thing. If any of you want to make my life easier, feel free to send me a ball winder. Oof.

I'm adding four stitches to the ribbing and an additional two or four to the body of the sleeve, plus starting the wrist-to-armpit increases a few rows sooner, so that should help. I want the sleeves to be fitted, but I also want to be able to wear long sleeves under it.

Now for the fun part: I'm thinking of changing the cable. At the wrist, the single 2x2 cable is fine, but as the sleeve widens, the cable gets drowned out by the expanse of charcoal. I have a few ideas, some incorporating techniques found here, but it'll take me some time to finalize my plan. Wish me luck.

28 August 2006

If Knitting and Crocheting Had A Child

A Tunisian crochet hook is like a standard crochet hook, except it's about a foot long and has a capped end like a knitting needle. Working Tunisian crochet is a little like picking up a row of stitches from right to left and then binding them off from left to right. I know. It hurt my brain, too, at first. It makes more sense if you watch it being done.

Tunisian crochet pieces are usually flat. Rectangular pieces are easiest to work, and if the "Tunisian Simple Stitch" (Tss) is used, they're also the best for embroidery, since that stitch has a grid-like appearance. Once you learn how to work round pieces, a process that is completely different from working in the round with regular crocheting or knitting, the project options become nearly endless.

Working Tunisian crochet in the round is similar to working short rows in knitting. Fewer stitches are worked in certain rows, and then picked up again in later rows. Experimenting with this technique left me with a FO I really like:

Tunisian hat

I haven't finished weaving in the ends yet, but it's already the most comfortable hat I own. Since this was a prototype, I used some Caron (One Pound "Evening Jewels") acrylic from an old, aborted project. I think I'll make another one in a nicer yarn sometime soon.

Here's a look at the top of the hat. Can you tell where the short rows are?

Tunisian hat crown

I'll get back to knitting now. ;)

27 August 2006

Laughter In The Rain

It's raining. Again. But y'know what? I'm happy. The sleeve is going well after being frogged and restarted. I added two stitches, did the ribbing on eights before switching to tens for the main section, and I'm doing the cables in a hybrid of intarsia and Fair Isle.

The front, looking wonderfully non-puckered (except for where the ribbing meets the stockinette, which is fine):
new front

The charcoal is carried across the back, while each part of the cable is from a different ball and looped around the charcoal when it moves up for the next row. (I wish I knew a better way to explain that.)
new back

Close-up of the back, the neatness of which makes me giddy.
back zoomed

I'm thrilled with the way this is looking so far. Now I just have to hope the increases work the way they're supposed to. And I have to design the body of the sweater. *gulp*

26 August 2006


I helped my sister move her snakes back to her apartment yesterday. It's a five-hour drive to her place, and by the time we unloaded everything I was too exhausted to drive home, so I spent the night there and came home today. On the way home, I drove through Rhinebeck, NY, where the big Sheep and Wool Festival will be in October. Turns out it's about an hour closer to home than I thought it was, so I won't have to get up quite as early on that Saturday. I could sleep in even more if I stayed at my mum's place (an hour closer), but she's... tricky to deal with sometimes, so I won't count on it.

Having some free time last night, I cast on and worked about 12" of a sleeve of the hoodie. I'm not sure I'm happy with it... the ribbing makes me twitch. I might start over, using size eights for the ribbing (inside of the tens I'm using for the rest), and trying an intarsia-Fair-Isle-hybrid for the green ribs. Holding the green back between the ribs has pushed the black purls forward, and I don't like the way it looks.

Another issue is the pattern. After doing some calculations and realizing my converted-from-the-book pattern wasn't working the way I wanted it to, I started over with just a tape measure and a calculator. Seeing it work up, I'm thinking I may have been a bit off in my gauge swatch... the piece is coming out more narrow than I intended. I could fix it with blocking, probably, but if I'm going to re-do the ribbing, I may as well just start the whole thing over and adjust the pattern while I'm at it. Right?

You can sort of see the ribbing issue here.

today's progress

(BTW, I'd like to thank my sister for letting me borrow her camera for the week. Maybe if it stops raining I can take some pics with better (no-flash) lighting.)

I think some frogging is in order. First, though, I'm going to dig out some eights, just in case I manage to stay awake for more than five minutes after logging off. Seven hours of driving makes Lilith... something something. Yes. G'night.

24 August 2006

Each and Every Cable Guaranteed to Be Twisted*

After several failed attempts, I finally settled on a cable I like. It's far simpler than I was planning, but sometimes simplicity is best. Here, for your viewing pleasure, is part of the swatch:

hoodie swatch

I love the contrast between these colors. Now that I've decided on a cable, I have a new decision: how do I want to split the colors over the whole sweater? I've thought about a jester-style split... one arm in each color, one half of the body in each color, one half of the hood in each color. I think that might be too busy, though. I'd like to use more-or-less equal amounts of the two colors, but I don't think it's going to work out that way. Any ideas? I tend to get one thing stuck in my head, making it nigh impossible to try another tack.

Now I get to use math, similar designs, and creativity to come up with a pattern for the sweater. I think I have the sleeve dimensions figured out... sort of. I really, really, really hope I don't botch this thing.

*The title was inspired by the pretzel man at the Sterling Renaissance Festival. One of his lines is, "each and every pretzel guaranteed to be twisted." Thank you, pretzel man. Three bachelor's degrees, and you've spent the last twenty years selling pretzels during the summer. I love you. Now smack some sense into the cookie wenches and nut girls.

23 August 2006

Cascading Style

I bought yarn today! This is going to be, by far, my biggest and most ambitious project to date. I'm making myself a hoodie (hooded sweater) with cable accents. Exactly what sort of cable accents, I'm not sure yet, but they'll be groovy no matter what. Why? 'Cause I say so, that's why.

You can tell I'm in a good mood when I get dominant over yarn.

Anywho, I was looking for something bulky to work with, since I want this to work up quickly, but the LYS I went to (of the four I like, this was the second-closest and most friendly) only had two bulky wools, and neither was really right for this project. They did, however, have a ton of Cascade 220 in various colors. I figured if I held two strands together, it'd be about the same as a bulky yarn, and Cascade is such a bargain that it would be perfect. I got two hanks each of these two colors, and if it works out the way I'm hoping it will, I'll go back and get the rest of what I need (when I have more greenbacks in my wallet).

Cascade 220

Inspired by David's Fair Isle cables (for Knitty's Samus cardigan), I'm thinking of using the teal for the cables and the charcoal for the background. I'm also inspired by Eunny's cabled bind-off, so that may come into play, too. I'm playing with swatches to see what works and what gives me massive headaches (like the scale-like cable pattern I tried earlier... ouch).

I don't know if I'll be able to post progress shots along the way... sis has taken her camera back to school with her, and she's only home about every other weekend, so the chance of me borrowing the camera has slimmed considerably.

Who wants to earn my eternal gratitude (and a variety of favors and gifts) by buying me a digital camera? ;)

22 August 2006

If it looks like a duck...

I'm going to be a tease today. I'm going to show you a picture of something that looks like knitting, but isn't. If you don't know what it really is, you're going to be very confused for a few days. Here it is:

It only LOOKS like knitting!

Purty, ain't it? If you do know what it is, comment with a giggle, but don't spoil the surprise.


21 August 2006

Everyone Needs A Pom-Pom Hat

Welcome to the second installment of This Old Project. Today's feature is... another hat. I was really into knitting hats for a while. They're great for trying new techniques really quickly, and the technique I decided on for this particular piece was Fair Isle knitting.

A quick note about the charted design: I've spent the last hour on Google trying to find the website with the chart, but I've had no luck. If anyone finds it, please let me know so I can put up a link to credit the designer.

For my first attempt at Fair Isle, I'd say it came out okay. There are some tension/gauge issues that make the hat tend to ride up, but I accept it as part of the learning experience. The yarns are Lion Brand Wool-Ease ("Wheat") and Lite-Lopi ("431"), and the project was done on a US #8 circ and DPNs. As with most of my hats, I started with a gauge swatch and did some math to come up with the pattern. The pom-pom didn't end up as dense as I'd hoped, and it kind of flops around, but I wanted a hat with a pom-pom. So there.

Stay tuned for the next This Old Project, which will probably be... another hat. But completely different from this one!

20 August 2006

My Name's The Teacher

I met my father's "other" family today. No, it's not a step-family... if either of my parents ever re-marry, I think I'll die laughing. No, it's the 4-H* family Dad has taken under his wing: three kids, ages 6, 10, and 12, all extremely intelligent.

The middle child, a boy with a love of crochet, saw me working on my knee-high stocking today and started asking a bunch of questions. He wanted to know how to start, how to make a stitch, what increases and decreases were... it was so cute! When I offered to come to his house and teach him how to knit, he practically flew out of his chair to ask his mother if it would be okay. His mother, who is one of the sweetest women I have ever met, said I was welcome to come over any time, and that she was glad there was someone to teach the boy to knit, since she was so busy with other things. (She homeschools these kids, by the way... busy lady.)

So the next time they invite us over for dinner (probably before sis goes back to school at the end of the month) I'll be teaching a 10-year-old boy how to knit. I'm so excited! Since he already knows how to crochet, I think he'll pick up knitting with no trouble at all. Now, should I pick up some needles for him, or should I assume he'll borrow a pair from his mother? Hmm...

*I've somehow managed to mention 4-H in every entry so far. It's not intentional, I promise... it just seems to be connected to what I've been writing about. I'll try to stop. Really.

19 August 2006

Insanity Brings Variety

I'm Bi-Polar. It's under control with medication and therapy, but it still shows itself in my work. When I'm in the depressed phase, I don't feel like knitting, so the projects sit around and collect dust. When I'm in the manic phase, I get a lot of work done, but I can't focus on one particular project for very long. This means that I have half a dozen projects sitting around, and I only manage a few rows on each before feeling the need to go do something else. Add to that my naturally-slow knitting, and you get... not a lot of FOs.

What you do get, though, is variety. I get sick of doing one type of project, so when I need a diversion, I try something completely different. Well, maybe not completely different, but different enough that it doesn't feel like the same old thing. For example, this is my current WIP list:
  • toe-up, short-row, fitted-leg, knee-high stockings in Nature Spun Sport ("Ash") on US #1 DPNs
  • toe-up, short-row, ankle-length socks in Plymouth Encore Worsted ("Fiesta/7132") on US #3 DPNs (I'm on a sock kick.)
  • cabled shrug in Lion Brand Jiffy ("Pearl Grey") on Brittany US #10 straights (I think I've frogged the equivalent of half of this project so far, in four- or six-row sections, because I keep getting distracted and forgetting to increase or cable.)
  • baby blanket for Project Linus in Red Heart Super Saver ("Victoria") and random cheap white acrylic (tag missing) on a US #8 circ
  • a hat that looks like it's knit, but isn't (I'll tell you more about this in a later post.)
As if this weren't enough, I keep feeling the urge to cast on something new. I have some very pretty sock yarn that's just begging to be used, there's another big ball of the Encore Worsted that's crying out for... something, there are a few old projects that need to be frogged and turned into things I'll actually use... so much to do! It's taking a lot of self-control (and switching projects several times a day) to keep me from starting something new.

At times like this, I hear my mother's voice in my head. In my second year of 4-H, I entered over 200 projects in the fair. Most were little ten-minute arts-and-crafts doodads, but it was still an impressive collection. At the awards banquet, the Fair Association President, a teenager I had a massive crush on, brought me up to the microphone and asked me how I'd done it. I was so flustered by the fact that he was talking to me, I just stood there with my mouth open... until my mother piped up, "finish what you start!" My, "yeah, what she said," response convinced him to congratulate me and send me back to the safety of my table, but I felt everyone staring at me for the rest of the night. I did my best to hide behind my seven Grand Champion trophies. To this day, whenever I think about putting down a project and starting something new, my mother's, "finish what you start!", echoes in my head.

And I still think the guy is a dreamboat, even though he's married, with kids now. I had good taste in guys when I was 8 years old, I guess. ;)

18 August 2006

Rainbow Mohair Ribbed Hat

After a marathon photo session that left me with a dozen pictures of various projects, I've decided to post them every few days in more-or-less chronological order. Here we go.

This was one of my first projects when I picked up my needles for the first time after 4-H. I'd bought the yarn years before... one of those "I know I'll find the perfect project for this someday" purchases. I've long since lost the tag, so I can't tell you what the yarn is, other than mohair that I think I got at Fabric Place. The swirl wasn't planned, it just happened to work out that way. I think this was done on US #8 needles, circ then DPNs in the round.

17 August 2006

The Birth of A Blog

So. Here I am. I have blogs elsewhere in cyberspace, but I wanted one dedicated to knitting, so I came here. This is my first try at Blogger, so we'll see how things go.

I first learned how to knit when I was about eight. I was a 4-Her (with the thick record book to prove it), and my mum decided one of my projects should be knitting. I made a very bright, garter-stitch scarf, which won me a blue ribbon. I followed that up with a pair of mittens and a hat, neither of which were worn more than twice. After that, I didn't touch knitting needles until 2005, when knitting was becoming oh-so-trendy. I kept looking at these knitters and thinking, I know how to do this... but I haven't done it for years. I wonder...

A new addiction was born, a new habit to keep me penniless discovered, and today, a new blog to document this habit springs forth. I hope you enjoy the lunacy, and pardon the sometimes-poor quality of the pictures. Until I can save my pennies for a nice digital camera, I have to sweet-talk my sister into letting me borrow hers. Wish me luck. :)