26 May 2010

in other crafts

I don't just knit. While I do a lot of knitting, I also do some sewing and the occasional embroidery. The current sewing project is a dress made from fabric I got when my mum's mum was getting rid of fabric she'd had around for years. My mum let me and her awesome costumer friend divvy it up (the awesome costumer friend let me keep some really nice stuff). I tried to lay claim to only things that I really wanted to use. One of those was about 5-6 yards of fabric with Viking boats printed on it. It's becoming a sleeveless summer dress. I have the bodice mostly finished and now need to cut out the skirt and attach it to the bodice. I'm putting in a side zipper so I can't properly finish that part until skirt's on. So far, I'm pretty happy with it. It looks like it will fit (modified shirt pattern with a basic A-line skirt added), and I think it's going to be fun to wear this summer. Well, if it ever stops raining. I may need to knit a shrug to accompany it.

warming the hands

Apparently this week's "knit two over the course of three days" thing are mitts. I am very fond of knitting these because my hands get cold easily, but I hate gloves, and mittens are inconvenient when I want to write or type.

I recently bought Robin Melanson's book, Knitting New Mittens and Gloves. I knit one pattern out of the book a few months ago, but it was one that's also available online (Rusalka). Mostly I would check the book out of the library and drool over the patterns. They're all so pretty. Now I own it. There are 28 patterns in the book, and I would like to knit almost all of them, even the gloves. I have a feeling I would like hand-knit gloves better than store-bought ones.

I started on Sunday night with the first pattern in the book, "Accomplice." These are mitts with a pattern that looks like ribbing, but is actually made from passing yarnovers over knit stitches. I used a ball and a bit of Filtes King Kiki yarn, which is sadly discontinued. I really like it, and bought a few balls last year when they were on sale. The colourway I have is a blue-green with glints of gold that makes me think of the ocean. The yarn itself is a blend of cotton, linen, viscose, and acrylic. Part of me wishes I'd bought more when I had the opportunity, but I still have a ball of it left, and I have about a ball and a half in a short scarf that I never wear and plan to frog so it can be something else.

Accomplice is basically a tube with a crocheted chain at the top for the thumb, so they fit differently than most of the mitts I've made. The top of the mitt is well below my knuckles. However, they do not hinder my typing, which is good.
I finished Accomplice on Monday and started another pattern Monday night. This one is "Filigree," another mitts pattern. I'd planned to use a teal bamboo yarn for this, but when my husband and I wandered over to the thrift store the other day, I found three balls of the Bernat Bamboo for 99 cents apiece in a pale yellow. This is an earlier version of the yarn, I think, since the label has a higher percentage of bamboo, just blended with a small amount of acrylic, unlike the listing for the yarn on Ravelry. It's very soft and a little bit fluffy, and it worked up nicely for the Filigree pattern. The teal bamboo yarn may end up as another pair of mitts from the book (possibly Glaistig, which has a fun lace pattern).

Filigree knit up really fast because, although the pattern calls for worsted yarn, I used bulky. I also cut out a repeat to compensate for the bulkiness of the yarn. It was a nice, easy pattern and I liked the result. The yarn may be too fluffy, since it's already starting to pill a bit, but that's okay.
I started one more set of mitts this week. This time, they aren't from the book. Instead, they are Eunny Jang's very popular Endpaper Mitts. Mine are in red and black and so far, they look great. I'm on the thumb increases for the first one. Either I'm getting better at stranded colourwork, or these are easy. Or I'm spending an inordinate amount of time on them. Not sure which one.

I like this "two small projects done in a few days" thing I've done the last couple weeks. Now if I could only make that work with socks.

24 May 2010

going to be inundated by hats

I've gone a little beret-crazy in the last week. I knit two brioche berets in the space of three days, so now I have three. This one is the Tree Beret from Nancy Marchant's website. The yarn is Bernat Alpaca Natural Blends again, in Fern and Tomato. These knit up fast because I'm using bulky yarn. I have plans for at least a couple more to use up the yarn. And I cast on a tam with some handspun I finally finished a while ago, but haven't gotten past the ribbing yet. Basically, unless I decide to give them away, I'm going to have a lot of distinctive hats to wear this fall. I can be one of those quirky grad students.

I also finished the Raha Scarf I was knitting (pattern is from Knitted Lace of Estonia by Nancy Bush). I had this discontinued yarn I picked up at the thrift store. It's a wool, somewhere around a DK weight. You can't see it in the picture, but the yarn has some glints of green and lavender that add a nice depth to the blue. It was a great pattern. I had it memorized about half-way through. It ended up over five and a half feet long. It's going to be a belated birthday gift for my mum.
I'm still working on the Skew socks but I'm on the short row section of the leg on the second sock, so they're almost finished. And then when they are I can hide my 2 mm circs in my knitting bag and pretend they don't exist. This is the second pair of socks I've knit on circs and I don't like it it any better this time than I did last time. I'm definitely a DPN girl. When I finish these, I'll get back to one of my other pairs of socks that's been neglected. I'm knitting Skew for SKA's April challenge, so it has to be finished by the end of this month. Maybe I'll get it done today.

20 May 2010

need to start wearing my cloak more often

Lately, the weather has been acting like it is confused. I went to visit a friend yesterday who lives in a different area of town. The walk there took me a while (a good hour of walking) in part because I got lost and walked about kilometre farther than I was supposed to. When I'd glanced out the window before leaving, it had looked a little cloudy, so I wore long sleeves, trousers, and grabbed a sweater. And then it was warm and I was wondering why on earth I had grabbed a sweater, since I felt like I was melting. By the time I arrived, I had to drink several glasses of water just to rehydrate.

In the hour or so I was at my friend's house before having to leave to walk home, some clouds rolled in and it cooled down. I walked down the hill back into town, enjoying the clouds and the breeze that had sprung up. Then it started to rain. The wind kicked it up a notch. And suddenly I was walking into wind that was driving rain into my face with only a long-sleeved t-shirt and a cotton sweater for protection. And I'd decided, on a whim, to leave my hair down that afternoon, so it was getting whipped out behind me and soaked. All I needed was a cloak to complete the image. And yes, I do have one. It usually gets worn in the fall, but apparently late spring is also a good time for it. The wind and rain were so crazy I half-expected to turn a corner and run into Heathcliff.

I had to run a couple errands on the way home, so I went into the grocery store soaking wet with my hair a mess. When I finally got home, I changed into warm dry clothes and had some hot tea. Last night, I curled up with my knitting and listened to the wind's wailing.

And I finished a hat. This is the Yin Yang Beret by Nancy Marchant. I used bulky yarn (in an attempt to rid myself of some stash yarn...and had to buy another ball of the brown so I could finish the hat). It's knit in stockinette brioche stitch on 4 mm needles (went up a size from the pattern's recommended needle size because of the yarn weight). This is the third brioche beret I've knit (the first two were the Pecan Pie Beret from Knitty--one for me, one for a friend). I really like the beret patterns. They're fun, unusual, and easy to knit. Brioche stitch was actually my first introduction to colourwork knitting, which probably accounts for my frustration with stranded colourwork (although it's gettign easier). This took me a day to knit--bulky-weight hats work up fast. I used the Bernat Alpaca, which is a blend of acrylic and alpaca. The green was left over from Sedum, and the brown was left over from the first brioche berets I did last year.

The pattern has a braid at the bottom edge, which was fun to do. I haven't done a braid before, and now I don't have to be intimidated by them anymore.
I'll have to go somewhere today just so I can wear the hat. It turned out well. I like this style of knitting. I may have to invest in Nancy Marchant's new book on brioche knitting sometime.

16 May 2010

jumping on the Clapotis bandwagon

As I wrote in an earlier post, I've been working on a Clapotis. Here's the story:

Shortly after I learned to knit, I discovered Knitty.com and spent a long time browsing their archives. I remember running across the pattern for the Clapotis scarf and thinking it looked nice. Then I joined Ravelry and found out that Clapotis is one of the most popular projects on there and that there are thousands upon thousands of the scarves in existence.
I hadn't really intended to knit one, but I had this lovely rose-coloured ribbon yarn in my stash that I'd gotten in a destash swap a few months earlier and thought three skeins of it might make a smaller sized Clapotis. So I cast on one evening.

I only did 2 repeats of the increase rows, noted where the yarn for the first skein ran out (two repeats of main pattern), didn't bother counting my repeats for the second skein, and then worked two more repeats after joining the third skein and started the decreases. So it's a much smaller version, but it turned out well. I like it.

One of the the delights of this pattern is the dropping of the stitches. It has an illicit feel, since dropping stitches is usually bad and I've taken the time to learn how to pick them back up properly. It's counter-intuitive, but it's very fun. The pattern is easy to knit and after a couple repeats, not hard to remember. And the finished product goes well with a dress of mine, so I am looking forward to wearing it with the dress (once I adjust the shoulder straps on the dress, since it was designed for a somewhat more well-endowed woman than I).

It did feel a little strange to knit something that's been so popular. I usually try to avoid that, out of a misplaced stubbornness. However, Clapotis has been a popular pattern for the reason that it is a good pattern and the result is lovely. So, that's okay, then. It gets to me when something mediocre is popular, but when it's excellent, then I'm happy to go along with the crowd.

12 May 2010


Seemed like it was time for an update. I keep writing partial entries and then not finishing them. Some of them will get finished when there are pictures to accompany them.

Well, I do have socks on the needles, as per usual. Working on the second Skew sock. First one turned out great and fits like a glove (although not literally since most store-bought gloves are too big for me). The heel was a lot of fun and the grafting wasn't hard. I bought the Spring issue of Interweave Knits almost solely for the grafting tutorial. Also for the ad with Franklin Habit in it. And the Wasabi Peas socks. I have 1 sock out of 2 finished on another pair of socks from Socks from the Toe Up. My goal is to eventually knit each pattern in the book.

And, strangely enough, I have two scarves on the needles. This is unusual because I don't really like knitting scarves. I never did a garter stitch scarf like most beginners do. I knit a moss stitch scarf last year to use up a ball of yarn and a narrow ribbed scarf for my little brother as a birthday gift. There have been shawls, some cowls, and a head scarf, and I crocheted a scarf as a Christmas gift a couple years ago when all I could do was what I thought was single crochet but turned out to be slip stitch. And still, so far, I've only knit a couple scarves.

Part of this is that I have a couple pashmina scarves which get worn all the time in the fall and winter. One is brown, the other cream. They are comfortable and warm enough and long enough and coordinate well with my wardrobe, which is mostly brown with a few other earth tones and the occasional red shirt thrown in. So part of it is I haven't felt the need to knit myself another scarf. The friends who wear scarves already have lots. And most of my family members are not scarf people, other than the younger brother who specifically requested a scarf (and when I gave it to him, wore it on a very warm April day, even though it was wool).

The other part is that scarves are kind of boring to knit. This is why I rarely knit plain stockinette socks (Skew doesn't count--its construction is complicated enough that much of it has been knit in front of the computer so I wouldn't have to print the pattern out). So a scarf, for me, has to be interesting enough that I'm not going to get bored. I'm thinking of trying one that has reversible cables just to learn the technique.

Right now, though, I felt the need to knit something simple that would use up stash yarn. I got this rose pink ribbon yarn in a de-stash swap a few months back and have been idly debating patterns ever since (I think it was from Holly but I'm not sure). Then it came to me. I could give a wildly popular pattern a try and use up the yarn at the same time. So I cast on a Clapotis (smaller size, though). I'm almost done with ball 2 out of 3 and am happy with the result. I can knit a couple of the main repeat with the third ball before I have to start the decreases. I should have not too much yarn left at the end.

And then a couple nights ago, I was tired but not sleepy and wanted to knit something before I went to sleep, but didn't want to take the Clapotis to bed with me. I grabbed some wool I'd found at the thrift store (really nice blue with a hint of green in one of the plies), and started a pattern I've had in my queue for a while. This one is from Knitted Lace of Estonia, and it is the Raha Scarf. One repeat of a lace pattern, garter stitch edges. Interesting but not too complex. And I'll just knit until I have enough yarn left for the border and finish it off there.

And that's all for now. I need to sleep.