Saturday, October 27, 2007


After so many days and weeks in the land of unfinished knitting projects, the Brea Bag is finally done! I might have the Vatican come out and investigate this as a possible miracle . . .

This was quite a time-consuming project; I don't think I'll be undertaking something so involved for a while. The knitting, actually, was a breeze. The cables were simple, and with 2 strands of yarn held together, it knit up quickly. But once the knitting was done, hard times were upon us (me and the Brea Bag, that is).
Seemingly insurmountable obstacle #1: sew the 3 pieces together. You know what's not fun? Trying to figure out how to stitch a moss stitch piece to not one but two shield-shaped cable/garter/moss stitch pieces.
Seemingly insurmountable obstacle #2: crocheting the edges without the faintest knowledge of crochet. This actually was an insurmountable obstacle, I ended up skipping the edging. This bag helped me to realize that crochet is not for me. At all.
Seemingly insurmountable obstacle #3: sewing in the lining. In addition to crochet, I also don't sew. At all. So, of course, I thought it was a brilliant idea to try to line the funny-shaped bag. I really couldn't figure out how to cut the fabric to fit the shape without leaving a bunch of rough edges, so I wound up with a lot of extra fabric on the sides and bottom; I ultimately folded the sides inward and glued some of the fabric together with fabric glue to keep the lining from getting unruly, and just stuffed all that fabric in the bag. I wish I had glued the lining into the bag instead of trying to stitch it--stitching worked well, but it doesn't look great.
Seemingly insurmountable obstacle #4: handles. I had a tough time finding any. M & J Trimming has tons of cute ones, but adding in the shipping, they weren't in my Brea Bag Budget. Joanne's selection was, actually, decent, but almost entirely non-flexible handles, and since the bag is slouchy, structured handles wouldn't really work. I ended up using a belt I found at Target (yeah, that's a belt. The things some people wear . . . ).
Seemingly insurmountable obstacle #5: buttonloop. Gah, more crocheting! This part was a bit easier, but I really needed a lot more yarn tail than I'd left at the top, so I had to break a cardinal knitting rule, knotting 2 (well, really, 4) strands together so I had enough to do the whole loop.
So now, 2 weeks after her birthday, I'll finally be shipping this off to my ahijada, along with a gift card to a store that sells professionally made clothes, just in case she despises it. I hope that won't be the case.
Now that I don't have BB hanging over my head, I will officially cast on for Cobblestone. I did the swatch on size 8 needles, and that produced gauge, more or less, so I'm good to go.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Gauge my reaction

In keeping with, seemingly, the majority of knitters, I usually don't bother with gauge swatches. All that knitting, and what do you end up with? A square. How exciting! But most of my reluctance to toil away at gauge swatches (have you read this Knitty article on gauge swatches? Now that is dedication!) has been based on the fact that, to this point, I've primarily been knitting items for which gauge is largely irrelevant--one of the best things about a scarf is that it can never be the wrong size! But all that is about to change.
I am embarking on my first "real" sweater, Brooklyn Tweed's Cobblestone, a Christmas gift for hubby. And I want it to be perfect (ha ha! fat chance!), so that means I actually have to care about gauge. Sigh. I already know I'm a tight knitter, so I vaguely considered just jumping straight to size 8 needles. But I really want to commit myself to doing this the "right" way, so I threw that idea out the window and knit a dreaded gauge swatch last night. As suspected, knitting the swatch on 7s produced a square about a half inch too narrow. So tonight I will try again with 8s and see what I come up with. If I can't get gauge exactly, I certainly want to err on the side of too large--I've never heard a guy complain that an article of clothing was too big (as evidenced by the hordes of teenage boys roaming the streets with the crotch of their jeans at their knees--very attractive gentleman!).
I'm knitting Cobblestone with Knit Picks, of course, Wool of the Andes in Pampas Heather. My first choice was Camel Heather, but when I went to order it, it was on backorder, so I opted for Pampas and now I'm a little concerned that it's "too" green--I want something with subtle color, or he'll never wear it (except on Christmas day, when I make him. Hah!). I do like the name though. One of these days I will make it to the pampas myself, I hope.
On Saturday I got my yarn store gift certificate from my sister, so of course I went to spend it right away! I got 2 skeins of gray bulky alpaca (Dad's scarf?), 1 skein of a purple-ish fingering weight alpaca (hopefully for my own Chapeau, one of these days), 2 skeins of white merino wool, and a skein of Cascade 220 in a mottled green/blue for a scarf for MIL. I'm really starting to amass quite a stash! I feel like a real knitter. :o) Now, I really need somewhere to keep it. My husband doesn't seem to appreciate my current storage method: leaving the yarn in cardboard boxes on the floor of our office . . .

Friday, October 19, 2007

bee in my bonnet

Hurrah, the adult bonnet is done! And here I am looking like a babushka wearing it:
Ok, not the most flattering picture; but you're supposed to be looking at the bonnet!
This was a pretty easy pattern; it starts out as a simple ribbed scarf; unfortunately I made a mistake at the end and didn't do enough repeats of the last few rows, so the flared end looks a big stunted. Were I a better knitter, I could undo the bind off and fix it . . . but alas, I'm not. I also wound up with almost a full skein of yarn left over at the end; had I known that, I would definitely have made the scarf longer (this is a running theme on ravelry for this project. Heed the warning: make your scarf longer!).
The bonnet itself was relatively easy as well. Picking up the initial stitches was no problem; you knit these in stockinette to form the back panel. But then, once that's done, you pick up stitches (86 of them!) around all 3 sides for the hood (38 on each side, 10 at the top). This was trickier; I had trouble spacing out the 38 stitches over 7 inches, and though it's easy to pull them out and try again, the edge stitches get looser, so ultimately the seam isn't as smooth or pretty.
The most difficult part of the whole deal was really sewing the hood to the scarf; I'm still not as skilled as I would like to be in sewing pieces together, so while it's not physically difficult, my seams just never look as nice as I would like.
I ultimately deem this project a great success: the hood fits, the scarf is long enough for a simple wrap around the neck, there are no unsightly bulges, dangling threads or other telltale signs of novice knitting, and I will definitely be wearing this one in public. Now I just have to wait for it to get cold--nearing the end of the October and it was 80 degrees yesterday. Damn global warming. The reason I am so excited about this project is that, while I adore hats, they always smush your hair, so you get into a work and your choices are: a.) take hat off and look like an unwashed hippie with matted hair or b.) leave hat on and deal with 437 people asking you why you're wearing the hat in the office. I think the bonnet may eliminate this problem: it's loose enough that it won't smush your hair, but will still keep your head plenty warm.
Brea Bag is in much the same condition as you last saw it, but I will finish it this weekend! I cast on for a scarf for my sister and it's super easy, mindless knitting, so that means I can also cast on for another (or 2 more!) more difficult projects. I need to get started on hubby's sweater if I actually want it done before the New Year arrives. I've also signed up for yet another knitting project (yes!): I joined a Ravelry group (Helping Hands for Homeless Animals) that's knitting items to donate to animals shelters. I've picked my shelter, the Howard County Cat Club, so now I've just got to come up with some items to knit! I should probably start small, perhaps with the cat toys in Stich N Bitch Nation.
And don't worry, swap buddy, I haven't forgotten about you. I've settled on a "theme" for your gift, and I think it's a good one, so now I just need to pick the actual item.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me . . .

It has been quite a knit-ish birthday. Saturday my big Knit Picks order arrived, so my first gift (to myself) was a giant box full of yarn and my Options set. I've already broken it out and started using it for the Grownup Bonnet, and am amazed at how vastly superior these needles are to the other sub-par circ I have used. Here's a photo of my yarn (I'm guessing most people reading this have the Options set or something similar, so you don't need a photo of it):

My sister has promised me a gift certificate to a LYS, and hubby gave me this great knitting organizer this morning:

So, I hesitate to say, I think I'm set with knitting supplies for a while!

A little project update, here's what Brea looks like:
Inside out, obviously, I've got the lining partially in, but I've got a lot of fabric left on the sides and I'm trying to figure out how to get it in in the least bunchy way possible. So far, not much luck, but I'm not a sewer, so I really need to avoid any unnecessary seams. Still needs handles and a button, too. I made a good faith effort to crochet the top edges, but it looked a mess, and I didn't think it added much to it, so I pulled it out and left the bound off edges. I'm sure if you know how to crochet, it's worth it, but I saw no reason to ruin an otherwise lovely project with shoddy crocheting.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

the sum of its parts

Well, I've finally reached that dreaded point: I have 3 knitted pieces without the vaguest idea how to put them all together. Here they are:

For whatever reason, I had the worst time with the gusset. Fortunately the wonderful knitters on MySpace Knit Knack were kind enough to help me, so I finally finished that part up. The instructions for the increases and decreases were far too vague for my taste. If you have a pattern going (in this case, moss stitch), you can't just say, "work to the last stitch, M1, work last stitch"; you need to tell people the exact series of knits and purls that will maintain the pattern!
So what's left? Reverse single crochet (?!?) along the top edges of both front and back, sew the gusset on, crochet some kind of button clasp, attach handles, plus lining. I did get some cute lining, black with red skulls (it's Halloween, and also my ahijada (prettier than "goddaughter," no?) is 14, so I think she'll like it). I did not, unfortunately, find handles, JoAnn's only had small ones. Boo.
I've been putting off even trying to finish it because I feel like it requires my full attention, which is hard to give at night after work. So it's on tap for this weekend, especially since--hurrah!--my boss has offered us all an extra day off next week because we worked such atrocious hours the last two weeks (Almost makes up for the fact that my whole section is going to Colombia in November and I'm not included). I'm planning to take Monday, my birthday, assuming she approves.
I finally placed my big KnitPicks order; I ordered yarn for hubby's sweater, mom's slippers, sister's scarf and grandfather's socks, plus--YAY!--my options set! I can't wait 'til it all arrives. I'm sorry to say, I was disappointed with my yarn swap experience (to sum up, having been told a minimum of 3 full skeins, I swapped 4 skeins of brand new yarn for 1.5 skeins of partially-used yarn--not quite an even exchange), so I'm really looking forward to getting a giant box of yarn to play with.
And shame on me, I still haven't come up with a project for my next swap. :o( Think, think, think . . .
As a side note, among the people I am annoyed with this week: Oprah. I'm sure she's well-intentioned, but Gabriel Garcia Marquez is a brilliant writer, he really doesn't need "Oprah's Book Club" publicity; but now that she's selected Love in the Time of Cholera as her new book, I just know people will be wandering about thinking what a great service Oprah has done, bringing this "unknown" author into the public eye. Eye roll.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

thinking of creative blog titles is too exhausting . . .

Hurrah! My two hellish weeks at work are over! Yesterday was the last day of a 2 week long meeting that required working late nights and on the weekends, but it's finally over, everyone is going back to their respective countries, and I will once again be working normal hours, sitting at my desk instead of in the freezing cold conference room listening to people argue for 9 hours straight . . .
Sadly, since the meeting took over my life, I haven't been knitting much, but I did finish the 2nd side of the Brea Bag; now I just need to do the gusset and then assemble the whole mess, which is the scary part. I need to get to the store to search out some fabric to line it, too. I also never got to place my big yarn order, but that will be happening this weekend.
I've been so excited for knitting fall-ish things and Christmas gifts, and I'm sad to say, the weather is not cooperating. It's been in the mid-to-upper 80s for the last few days and will be until the middle of next week! In general, I hate being cold, but when it's October, I expect cool weather, dammit! How can one get excited for Halloween when it feels like July? Stupid global warming . . .