Friday, December 29, 2006

(Not so) EZ baby sweater

Finally, I have something to show for my efforts. I've had a hard time getting this one off the ground, but here is the beginning of Elizabeth Zimmermann's baby sweater from the Knitter's Almanac:

The "gull" pattern is really my first attempt to knit lace, and after a few botched attempts (forgetting yarn overs, mostly) I am finally getting the hang of it. I understand the structure of the pattern now, how all the stitches line up, so I know immediately if I've made a mistake. For me, the key to executing any pattern is really understanding how it works from the inside out. Until I understand it, it never comes out right. But it's funny because in order to understand it, I have to mess it up and then piece it back together.

The only thing I'm not so sure about are my ssk's. I checked Knitting Help again to make sure I am doing it correctly, and I am. But the diagnol looks slightly jagged compared to the K2tog's.

I'm doing one pattern modification and I'm pretty sure it will work out: I'm knitting the sleeves in the round rather than flat. I thought the overall effect would be neater, especially since I have no idea how I would seam the lace work. The only question is if knitting the sleeves in the round will be a problem later when I return to the body and have to pick up the cast on stitches on each sleeve. I have thought about it, and it seems that won't make any difference--but I will update when I get to the sweater body.

I'm also placing the buttonholes every 16 rows rather than 8, since I did not want them so close together.

ETA: More modifications: I made the sleeve 6 inches (rather than 5)so it will fit Elsa better, and I knit the garter stitch cuff with size 6 needles to make it a little tighter. I find the sleeves a bit too wide, although I think that is the intended style.


Plymouth's Suri Merino (barley color)
Size 7 needles

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


The gloves were finished and blocked by Christmas Eve, and I took this picture of them in the morning. The color is actually much richer than this, but my camera seems to have trouble with red.

Later that day.....

Sister's gloves:

Mom's scarf:

Brother-in-law's hat:

Husband's scarf:

Elsa's bunny (upside down!):

(to be added--Dad's hat--when I get a picture)

Everything fit well and the recipients look pleased, don't you think? I have always loved giving presents, but it is even more fulfilling when it is something handmade that is appreciated.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Boyfriend (Husband) Scarf it is: the "Boyfriend Scarf" from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. I substituted the recommended yarn (Classic Elite Forbidden) with Debblie Bliss Superchunky Cashmerino in Chocolate. The pattern was a bit tedious (I've decided no more scarves in the near future), but I do love the way it turned out. The really nice part about it is that it is a waffle knit, so the two sides are different, but harmonious.


I'm even tempted to say that I like the "wrong side" better.


I'll be making this post viewable after Christmas so it's a suprise for my husband.

Black and blue

I whipped up this hat for my brother-in-law's holiday gift, and I'm pretty happy with the way it came out. It's only my second attempt to a design with color, and I had a lot of fun doing it. It also went fast because I used Debbie Bliss's chunky cashmerino. Almost all of my gifts this year are knit in this wool because I don't want to worry about anything being too itchy for the recipient. I found that the cashmerino looks nicer in stockinette than the rib stitch section, where it looks a bit loose. Overall, I enjoyed this yarn--it knits like butter.


Here's my hubby, modeling the hat for me. Hmmmm...he looks good in it--look at how it brings out his eyes. I think I'll have to make one for him too.



Thursday, December 14, 2006

Hand in (one) glove

Well I think it was worth it....

Now the inspiration to complete number two: I will do it better than the first because hopefully I won't make the same silly mistakes.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Three down...

After a few false starts, the first glove is starting to take shape:

I attempted to use the Fetching pattern to create the thumb hole, but then I realized that it was not going to work for gloves with fingers, so I had to frog a few rounds and make a thumb gusset. The glove is maybe a little longer than I'd like it to be, but when I try it on the extra length actually works quite well and makes the glove feel a bit luxurious.

By the third finger, I finally figured out how to pick up the stitches between the fingers without leaving any gaps. I pick up 3, even if the pattern says 1 or 2, and then twist the stiches when I knit them. On the next round, I decrease so I have the correct number of stitches for each finger. Unfortunately, I didn't do such a good job on the first finger, so I'll have to do a little mending at the end. Still, I'm pleased that I finally figure this out.

Two to go...I hope to have an update by the end of the day.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Ho, ho, ho....

Sorry but I couldn't resist taking a picture of this current WIP against some pine. I guess you could say I'm getting into the holiday spirit around here, in spite of myself.

This is the first of a pair of gloves for my sister. I am using the Fetching pattern for fingerless gloves from Knitty, but I plan to make them with fingers using the Handy Book of Patterns as my guide (hoping and praying I'll be able to figure this out). As a knitter, I love fingerless gloves because they are cool and easier to make, but since these are a gift I want to make sure the recipient's extremities stay warm. That's the longwinded explanation for why I am willing to put myself through the ordeal of knitting up those little fingers.

This pattern is great fun, by the way. I have only tried cables for swatches, so this is my first attempt incorporating them into a real piece, and so far so good. I can't say I really enjoy doing them, especially when I'm working with dpn's, but the effect is so pretty and the cable rows so few, I've decided it's worth the effort. Also loving the the 4X1 rib pattern.

Plymouth's Suri Merino (red) and size 5 dpn's (went down a needle size to make the fit a little smaller for my sister's hands)

To be continued....

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Funny little bunny

Who'll be my funny little bunny, hey hey, pretty babe?

My favorite part by far is the big floppy ear, inlaid with pink angora:

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Isle of Harris Hat

I made this hat for Elsa a few months ago from some wool I found on the Isle of Harris in Scotland. She was wearing it today while playing with the leaves in the backyard (yes, we do wait as long as possible to gather our leaves), and I was attempting to get a good picture for a potential holiday card.

The hat reminded me of our trip to Scotland last August, which was the last time we went to Europe since having Elsa. At the time, I was not quite as obsessed with knitting as I am these days, or I probably would have stuffed my suitcases with some more of this beautiful yarn.

Here is where I found the wool (these hanks were hanging out to dry):

The source:

This picture was inspired by Andy Goldsworthy:

Little Gifts

A few days later, here's the Ballband Dishcloth in its finished form:

After looking at some comments on the Mason Dixon KAL, I've decided that these could be used as washcloths too, so I'm going to knit up a few more for holiday gifts and wrap them around luxurious bars of soap. Yesterday I went to Michael's and enhanced my Sugar and Cream stash, so now I have many color combination possibilities. I also got some colored pencils so I can plan out my designs on graph paper.

The latest WIP is Elsa's holiday present: a little white bunny (knit with a double strand of Blue Sky Alpaca DK White) with pink angora ears. The pattern is from Hoverson's book (again!), and it's been really fun to watch it take shape. I am changing the pattern a bit and knitting with DPN's rather than two circular needles, as she suggests. This allowed me to knit more pieces in the round, so there will be fewer seams at the end. The only snag I came across was the transition from the two legs (knit separately) to the body. I was able to solve the problem by knitting the last round of each leg as if they were on straight needles to open up the circle. Then I was able to join both legs together on dpn's and close up the circle again, but it did leave a gap in the crotch area, which I sewed together this morning.

I also hit a small snag when I shaped the shoulders because it was my first time doing an ssk (a left slanting decrease)combined with a k2tog (right slanting decrease). It took me a while to figure out how the pattern was working, but with this handy visual aid I was able to pull it off:

Here's an unintentionally eerie picture of the bunny in progress:

I decided to stuff the legs and belly this morning before I get too far along on the head. Oh boy, that was fun...and now it's really starting to look and feel like a toy. Can't wait to give this to Elsa.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Reflections on a dishcloth

Started this yesterday while Elsa slept in the car:

It's the Ballband Dishcloth from Mason Dixon Knitting. It's a ton of fun and looks much more complicated than it is. Think I might make a bunch of these with the Sugar and Cream cotton. Gotta love those $1 skeins, a much needed compensation for my excesses at Purl.

As I slowly construct the Ballband Dishcloth brick by brick, I can't but help notice that it's the kitschy equivalent of a modernist grid. I feel like Agnes Martin as I knit, though she would probably never use such bright colors. The colors are Mondrian, but the pattern is Martin.

The beauty of the dishcloth, though, is that it approaches abstraction, but is still grounded in reality. It is meant to be wiped along the back of a wet plate.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Holy Stash!

Went on a family expedition to Purl and got the yarn for Lorenz's present. I decided to go with this burgundy color (M--Bing Cherry) rather than the brown (thrush) that the pattern calls for. Decided he needs a little more color in his life, and he took a peek at the yarn and agreed.

It was worth it to make a trip to the city and really look at the yarn. The thing about Manos is that they don't have dye lots so the colors vary. I looked at the yarn closely and tried to pick skeins that had a similar striated pattern. And I must say that I loved going to Purl, even though they're a bit pricey. I wanted to buy so many yarns, but controlled myself and stuck to the Manos plus one skein of pink angora for Elsa's bunny.

So excited.

Friday, December 1, 2006


The last few days have consisted of many futile attempts to begin projects, only to discover unforgiveable mistakes. Just frogged that lacey bit when I discovered I had too many stitches. Also not happy with the yarn I received for the "big" project and will probably have to start that over.

Frustrated, but take it as a sign that I need to slow down and relax. The holidays whipped me into a knitting frenzy and I wanted to give everyone a special gift. I will persist--but tonight I will take a rest. When I get obsessive like this, nothing comes out right.

Frogging is depressing, but part of the learning process. I see no point in continuing to work on something that is dissatisfying or incorrect. Frogging helps me to view what I knit as a process rather than an end product, and after having a good cry I realize that the next time I will build it again even better. This is part of the zen of knitting, which I am only starting to understand.

Plus, there's a certain thrill in the popping of those unravelling stitches:

Excited to say that tomorrow we will go to the city and I will lay my eyes and hands on some fresh yarn. I've decided that getting certain yarn on the internet is a bad idea. The whole point of buying yarn is the tactile and visual sensation, and it's very hard to replicate that experience online unless you know exactly what you're getting. But with the Manos, there is too much variation in the dye and it's necessary to handpick the skeins. Hopefully I will find what I need tomorrow.