Wednesday, December 30, 2009

So long, 2009 . . .

I’m heading out tomorrow morning to celebrate the New Year in completely disconnected fashion, far away from technology, so here’s my quick “knitting year in review” post:

2009 FOs: 16

Adult sweaters: 2
Baby sweaters: 1
Baby blankets: 1
Toys: 1
Mittens/Gloves: 5
Cowls: 3
Scarves: 2
Socks: 1 stinkin’ pair

Sixteen wouldn’t be too bad, but 1 sweater, 2 scarves and 1 pair of gloves were really leftovers from 2008 that I finished up in early 2009. Hmph. And what remains on my needles? One baby blanket, a half-finished vest, a sock, and a hat. Although my hope is to finish the hat on my trip this weekend, so it may squeeze in just at the buzzer.

Did I meet any of my 2009 knitting goals? Just the one about learning to knit socks on two circs. I certainly didn't knit 4 sweaters, or learn fair isle. Ah well, there's always next year.

Welcome 2010!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Feliz Navidad . . . a few days late

So, how was everyone's Christmas? Good? On my end I ate far too much food, drank too much wine, and generally had a lovely time. Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year. Which means I'm really bummed now that it's over. I'm trying to remember that I have some lovely things to look forward to during the next few months: a few trips (including Punta Cana if my plans work out!), some parties, and most importantly, plenty of knitting time for ME.

Not that I did much holiday knitting this year. I only planned 3 projects, and actually only finished 1. Yep, ONE. Bad knitter. The one I did finish turned out well, so once I get a photo, I'll share it with you. One I didn't finish just because I started far too late, so it will be a slightly delayed gift.

And one, well, one was a disaster.

It was the Morgan hat, from Knitty Fall 2008. And it was frankly a pain in the arse. I started knitting on the plane to Mexico, and while the first part wasn't difficult, there's absolutely no rhyme or reason to the crown increases, so it was very tedious. Then I came to a section where I had to knit into the back loop of the stitch 3 rows below--and stuck on a plane, I had no way to look up what this meant, and had to wing it. And it turns out I did it wrong, though not wrong enough to rip out.
I think 99.9% of the pattern is short rows, so lots of fiddly counting and picking up wraps.
But I finally finished all the knitting and had just to seam things up--so, I tried to fit it around my head.
Way, way too small. If it doesn't fit me, it certainly isn't going to fit Dad. Sigh.
So now, what to do? Not sure where exactly to rip back to to fix the fit, but there's absolutely no way I'm going to start over.

In other news, I wore my Wheat Ear Cable Yoke for Christmas day festivities. It was slightly itchy, but very warm (didn't even wear a coat!). My only complaint is having to frequently pull it back down around my shoulders because it kept sneaking upward. But overall, a success, I think.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

down Mexico way

Thanks for all the lovely comments on my sweater. Unfortunately I won't be able to wear her where I'm heading--off to Mexico City for a meeting and some sightseeing. Not exactly sweater weather there, I'm told.

This message is particularly for anyone sending me a swap-related package--if you send it and I don't respond with squeals of delight, it's because I don't actually have it in my greedy little hands just yet.

Back stateside on the 15th. Hasta luego!

Monday, December 7, 2009

the best laid plans . . .

So, the plan this weekend was to meet up with my sister for some shopping, and have her take pictures of me sporting my latest FO. Then, 3 inches of snow fell from the heavens, and in true Baltimore style, we both curled up on our respective couches, and refused to get behind the wheel of a car.

But I don't want to keep you in suspense, so I'm bravely moving forward with the promised blog post, which unfortunately will be full of pictures taken by me, using my camera's timer, propping it up on various pieces of furniture and/or trying to capture some kind of decent lighting. (Really, must get a gorillapod).

So, without further ado:

(Yes, I am wearing Christmas-themed pajama pants. I just didn't feel the need to get dressed up for you guys, apologies.)

Pattern: Wheat-Ear Cable Yoke, by Pam Allen, Interweave Knits Summer 2007

Yarn: Beaverslide Dry Goods Merino/Mohair worsted weight in Wild Iris

Needles: Sizes 6, 7 and 8

Comments and general musings:

First, I think this second picture might be a bit clearer.

Believe it or not, I'm modeling this sweater for you unblocked. This is exactly how it fit when it came off the needles (or rather, when I finished seaming it all up and weaving in a million ends). You can see the hem is curling up, but otherwise, this is one well-behaved sweater.

It took about 3 months to complete, which is quite an accomplishment for me. I considered trying to adapt it to be knit in the round, but ultimately I was just too lazy to figure it all out.

The pattern is very straight-forward, and the cable is quite simple as well, easy to master without a cable needle. I'm not entirely happy with the bits where the sleeves join the body; the stitches seem a bit loose, but it's certainly not worth undoing.

I must say I wasn't entirely thrilled with the yarn. I found quite a few knots, and as I was seaming up several of the strands I was sewing with broke. The texture of the yarn is rather rustic, so I expected it would be fairly sturdy as well. I will say it's quite a bit softer than I expected, it's very warm, and it's a good value too--the regular price is $11 or $12 for a 250yd skein, but I got this on sale for $9, so $36 for a whole sweater's worth of yarn. And I love the color.

So, there you have it, what will probably be my only sweater for 2009. Maybe 2010 can be the year of the sweater?

Friday, December 4, 2009

two FOs in one!

Hey, look what I have two of now:

Yes, it's true, my Chevalier Mittens are finally done, having been started in March. What can I say, I'm just a really devoted knitter. I start a project and I GET IT DONE. Eventually.

Pattern: Chevalier Mittens
Yarn: Mmmmmmalabrigo in . . . some shade of blue, I forget. Azul Profundo maybe?
Needles: Size 4 DPNs (ouchie)

Thoughts: Knitting with worsted weight on size 4 needles makes for thick, warm mittens, but it's ouchie to do, especially the cabling (which I now always do without a cable needle--best idea ever. Here's Grumperina's super-useful tutorial.) The chart for this pattern is a little overwhelming, too--I realize I'm not getting any younger, but even so, I think 29 is a little young for eyestrain, so that should give you an idea of the difficulty in reading it. I'm sure I could've tried breaking it down into separate sections and blowing them up, but, well, I didn't. Live and learn.
The finished result, though, is worth risking blindness. I just love these cuties, they're snug, they're interesting to knit and to look at, and with a long enough cuff to tuck under the sleeves and keep wrists toasty.
Were I to do them again, I think I would close up the tops differently. I think kitchener stitch would work, give them a top more like a sock toe, instead of the top of a hat (decrease to a small circle, pull the yarn through), which doesn't match the fingers well.

And guess what? Another FO! Hmm, you seem to have passed out. Now where did I leave those smelling salts . . . ?

Well, when you come-to, here it is:

Pattern: Spiral Cowl
Yarn: Malabrigo merino/silk
Needles: erm, size 6 maybe? 16" circs

Thoughts: I love the ease of creating a picot edge from the cast on (fold over, knit edge stitch together with live stitch) and detest creating one after the bind off (requires SEWING. yeugh.). So I kept dreading finishing this project up, knowing what was coming. But it turned out well enough. I had a couple false starts with this one, as the directions say:

"As you work the spiral lace pattern and the design starts to emerge the spiralling will cause your stitch marker to “move.” Make sure to pick up your stitch marker and move it backwards 1 stitch at the end of each 7 row repeat."

The author and I apparently have different interpretations about what the word "backward" means. But no matter, it's quite apparent early on with this pattern when something's not working right, so I spotted the mistake, tinked back and started again, easy peasy. And once I got that bit figured out, this pattern couldn't have been easier--as long as you remember to move that marker, the pattern creates itself.

Now, you're not going to believe this, but I actually have a third FO to show you! Yes, it's true. But I need to wait until the weekend to get pictures, because I'm really excited about this one, and I want the photos to be good, not overlit, washed out photos taken indoors.

I've really been zipping through projects, and I have to tell you the silly reason why. Last"term" I signed up for the Harry Potter Knit and Crochet House Cup. You're assigned to a house (I am a proud Hufflepuff), and each month 6 homework assignments are posted. You complete projects to earn points for your house. And something about working toward a goal really helps me overcome startitis and focus on completing projects. So there you have it, Harry Potter = good for knitting. Who knew?