Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Knitting is Sexy

We all know it's true, but we've still got to convince the rest of the world.

Check this out.

They need $900 by September 10 so they can get this sexy knitlicious calendar printed, so if you can spare a few bucks, why not back them?

We're all tired of being compared to grannies in rocking chairs, right? Let's do something about it!

p.s. I heard a rumor that the super fantastically awesome Jasmine of the Knitmore Girls is one of the models . . .

Monday, August 30, 2010

FO: itteh bitteh bootehs

Wow, you all sure like your free yarn, huh? Well, you've still got a few days to leave a comment on my previous post for a chance to win a yarn grab bag. I'll announce winners on the 2nd, but then I'm going away for the weekend (one last long weekend before The Madness begins in my office), so grab bags will ship out the following week.

Good news: I found the missing bootie. It snuck into a pile of yarn in my WIP basket and hid there, but I dug it out and completed the Moc-a-Soc botties this weekend:

Pattern: Baby Moc-a-Soc by Bekah Knits
Yarn: Leftover Bugga and Shivaya Naturals Fingering
Mods: Zip
Ravelry link

Easy as pie, assuming you don't lose a bootie, and a great way to use up some leftover sock yarn. Picking up and knitting the fake sock cuffs was a bit tedious and fiddly, so if you're looking for a really quick project, you could skip that part altogether, the booties are pretty cute on their own.

I'm also working on a pair of Boyfriend Socks, which feature short row heels. These are my first short row heels, in fact, and I'm pretty happy with the way they turned out:

After searching bunches of videos online about the best way to pick up wraps, I've finally settled on preferred methods for both the knit and purl sides. I was even thinking about making a little instructional video for you guys, but I haven't quite worked out how to manage that, since the webcam on my laptop is built in to the top of the screen. I would have to hold the laptop in my lap facing away from me, wrap my arms around the screen and then try to knit holding my arms awkwardly in front of the camera . . . tricky. I don't know how people make those videos. Maybe that's why they always seem a bit shaky and out of focus.

At any rate, this wobbly video helped me decipher the mystery of picking up wraps on the purl side. As for the knit side, I sadly cannot find the life-altering video that cleared that mystery up for me, I'll have to keep looking. I always found picking up the wrap from below and popping it onto the needle wound up looking sloppy; with this "new" method, you slip the wrapped stitch to your right needle, slide the left needle under the wrap from the back, and then slide the stitch back and knit them together. That's probably clear as mud, but when I find the video, it will totally make sense. It seems to keep the stitches neater, at least in my opinion. 

And in other news, what the hell, Malabrigo?

This is a lovely skein of rich brown, why are there several yards of inexplicably pale pink yarn in the middle, mucking it up? Thankfully this is the back of the heel, otherwise I would be quite unhappy.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Yarn as furniture?

I think when you start saying things like "just throw it on top of that pile of yarn over there," you have, well, too much yarn.

It's not something I like to say, but I have to face facts.

If I lived in a 12 room mansion, perhaps things would be different--my yarn collection would look laughable in such an immense palace.

But I don't live in a mansion--yet.

And the yarn does seem to be taking over. Just a smidge.

So, I recently re-sorted my stash and pulled out some stuff I know I'm never going to use. A whole bag full of it.

And you know what I'm going to do?

I'm going to give it away.

Yes, for free. FREE!

Now, don't get too excited. I'm not that generous. Really. I'm not going to be giving away Skinny Bugga! or Madelinetosh, here.

But I do have some yarn that's, well, not so nice.

No, that's not the right way to put it. Really, there's nothing wrong with this yarn, but it's not my style. It's more "big box craft store" than "local yarn shop." I suppose I have become a bit of a yarn snob. (I'll deal with that issue later.)

But I know someone might get some use out of it, so it seems a waste to leave it wallowing unloved in a bin.

So, let's have a little contest, shall we? Post a comment here by, let's say, September 1, and I'll draw a few winners, each of whom will receive a FREE yarn grab bag. You won't know what you're getting. You might love it. You might hate it. But it's FREE, so what the hey? (Or is that "hay"?)

So leave a comment, go tell your friends to leave a comment, and then daydream about how nice it would be to get a free bag of yarn in the mail.

ETA: Just to give you an idea, my bag-o-yarn includes Patons, Elann, and Cascade, among others!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Won't someone please think of the children?!?

Good news! I've thought of the children. Well, perhaps not "children" in general, but one specific child, that I've now managed to start 3 different projects for. And he's not even born yet. But he should be along any day, so it's a good thing this tricky item is complete:

Pattern: Baby Baseball Tee with Mittens (sans mittens)

Yarn: Blue Sky Alpacas Skinny Dyed cotton, 1 skein each in maize and mallard

Mods: None intentional, although in retrospect, I think knitting the body and sleeves in the round up to the raglan shaping would've been smart, reducing some of the many ends that needed weaving in.
I also miscalculated my yarn needs, so I had to rip back and shorten the body about an inch in order to have enough green yarn.
Oh, I did use the yellow yarn for the neckline at the bindoff instead of the green, I guess that's technically a mod, I just thought it looked cute.

Project link

This was not an especially difficult project, fairly straightforward in fact, I just made it more complicated by theorizing that if I didn't do the mittens, I wouldn't need 2 skeins of the green yarn. This was based on nothing but my own imagination--yardage calculations didn't even enter the picture.

The seaming was irritating, but not challenging. One word of caution--don't accidentally run the yarn you're seaming with through the buttonholes. Which is of course what I did. The buttonholes are intended for ~1/2" buttons, but mine are now much smaller. Oops. Which is why there are no buttons on the shirt yet, as I'll be buying new, smaller ones.

Sewing is not my strong suit, so when it came to attaching the pocket, I was clueless. There are no instructions other than "sew the pocket to the front, make sure the stitches don't show on the other side." So I just made it up as I went, running the yarn under one leg of a stitch on the pocket and then under a purl bump on the shirt. Seems to have worked--the stitches aren't showing through, and the pocket is secure.

(It's not as if a newborn is really going to be carrying loose change in there anyway. Unless my friend Catherine has some very odd parenting ideas.)

And the Skinny Dyed Cotton was soft and lovely, it would be quite a pleasant change if you're used to working with a rough cotton like Peaches and Creme.
I hope to get some photos of the baby in the sweater to share, he's due September 13. I have a Sheldon (in University of Maryland colors!) and a pair of Baby Moc-a-Socs in the works for him as well.

The basic booties for the Moc-a-Socs are complete, I'm now working on knitting the fake sock cuffs into them, but I've hit a snafu--I lost one. Bootie, that is. I've looked everywhere, it's just disappeared. If it doesn't turn up, I'll have to start the pair over entirely, because I knit them with some leftover Bugga, and there's none left. So fingers crossed that I find that little sucker somewhere!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Eulogy for a furry friend

Like many dogs being brought up in a houseful of cats, Timbre was under the impression that he was the size of a housecat, when the reality was quite different—Timbre was a very large, very furry Siberian Husky. Trying to convince him of this fact was a lost cause, however. He scrambled under furniture the laws of physics should’ve prevented his smallest toe from fitting under, jumped into the laps of people whose weight he nearly equaled, and merrily chased the cats about as if he could not, in fact, swallow one whole.

But, lest you think Timbre was an entirely mischievous character, let me reassure, he was trained. He could sit, lay and give you his paw. Provided you gave him a treat in return. And also assuming you didn’t really expect him to differentiate between the three—once you held a treat up and called out a command, he would sit, then lay down, then pop back up and put his paw on your knee, as if to say, “Ok, I’ve done everything you could possibly ask, now hand it over.”

And like the lone baby girl with four older brothers, as the only dog in the house, Timbre became quite spoiled. Though a sensitive tummy meant it best to avoid giving him the most delicious people foods, he enjoyed bread quite a bit and would prance around in princess fashion, tapping his toenails on the floor, watching your fork move from plate to mouth, waiting to receive his special bites. The “no feeding animals from the dinner table” didn’t apply to Timbre, no matter what Dad said.

And he could certainly be a drama queen. His distaste for water was so legendary, I dubbed him “the dog who lived” after helping to give him a dreaded bath once. Theatrics of that sort are usually reserved for life threatening situations, not a bucket of soapy water and the garden hose.

But mostly, he was dear furry friend who laid on my feet when my toes were cold, happily let me play with his “puppy ears,” stuck his nose in the couch cushions in an adorable yet inexplicable fashion, and took his family for walks instead of the other way around.

Timbre, we’ll miss you.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Yarn Review: Madelinetosh Pashmina

I don't usually do a post with just a yarn review (I usually make excuses about why I haven't finished knitting anything, and then go on to babble about yarns using words like "yummy" and "drool"), but I've found this yarn so amazing, I just had to pop in for a quick review post. 

Madelinetosh Pashmina. Try it. You won't be sorry. I PROMISE.

When you think of super soft yarn, you probably think of Malabrigo worsted. Which, I'll grant you, is super soft, and is the first yarn that would've popped into my mind up until a few days ago.

That's when I cast on for a super secrety project--one that is, again, not for me and will have to be given away. I don't remember why I thought Pashmina would be great for this project, it's not even the correct weight--that pattern calls for DK, and Pashmina is sport (although gauge/size aren't all that important for the project).

I bought this skein of Pashmina from a destash, and spent TWO HOURS winding it, because it was inexplicably a tangled, ridiculous mess. I almost gave up before I even started. But I stuck with it because I noticed even as I was winding that this yarn felt fantastic.  And I'm glad I did. (Rumor has it Madelinetosh is aware of the issue and made some adjustments to solve it!)

I'm nearly finished the project now, and the fabric is simply gorgeous. Soft, of course, it was like knitting with butter (which, actually would be really messy, so nevermind), but it's also got a great sheen and perfect drape. The fiber blend is 75% merino, 15% silk and 10% cashmere--it's actually superwash, but I can't quite fathom tossing it in the washing machine.

And as delicate as that blend sounds, the yarn itself seemed sturdy, and the resulting fabric is not overly floaty or light. And unlike Malabrigo, which is a single ply akin to roving, Pashmina is a three-ply, which should provide better wear.

And of course, it comes in the stunning Madelinetosh colorways that I personally cannot get enough of (I think my Loopy Ewe wishlist is half Madelinetosh).

So, go out and buy a skein. Today. Right now. You'll love it.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

What do I want to be?

No, not me.

This yarn!

This is 1220 yds of Vermont Organic Fiber Company O-Wool Legacy DK. (The colorway is gamboge, but that's kind of irrelevant.)

So, what do you think it wants to be?

Maybe Connie Chang Chinchio's Alexandria Cardigan:

Photos courtesy of and copyright property of Parikha and Hemal Mehta.

(Might have to take that photo down, I don't know if this wee little blog post counts as "distributing")

Or Veronique Avery's Nordique Swing:

What do you think?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Being selfish

Sometimes I get over startitis long enough to actually finish a project. 

Hmmm, maybe "sometimes" is too generous. Maybe "occasionally." "Every so often." Or "once in a blue moon."

But let's not get wrapped up in word choice; the point is, I do in fact finish projects. And I have proof:

(Proof and Dory's foot.)

This is the Multnomah shawl, available for FREE from Hello Knitty. For reasons even I don't understand, I knit it up in Tofutsies, which is a wool/cotton/soysilk blend that also contains a smidge of chitin, which has antibacterial properties. Which is why it's really marketed as a true sock yarn--your feet produce a lot of bacteria, your shoulders, probably not so much. But I thought the slightly variegated, sort of stripey colorway fit the pattern, and I was knitting the shawl for someone living a warm climate, so I didn't want 100% wool. So there you go, a Tofutsies shawl.

I actually had some doubts as I was going along that the colorway and the feather and fan would really compliment each other--it's so hard to tell how anything will look while it's crumpled up in a ball on your lap.

But you know what happened once it was finished? I wanted to keep it for myself.

It's lofty and airy and, just, you know . . . pretty. I like to have pretty things.

Although truth be told, if it came out looking like a dishrag, I probably still would've wanted to keep it. I'm selfish like that.

The good news is, it didn't take long to get over my bout of selfishness, so I wrapped the shawl up and gently placed it in the appropriate swap package, which was mailed out on Friday. I sure hope the recipient likes it.

Ravelry link

This was, in fact, one of the projects I attempted to work on by candlelight. It was also one of the projects I quickly decided should not, in fact, be knit by candlelight. And I'm sure the recipient will appreciate that decision.

Now, I'm trying to finish up that baby baseball tee. As usual, I did some completely unscientific calculations in my head and decided I only needed one skein in each color, since I wasn't knitting the accompanying mittens. And as usual, I was wrong. So I had to rip back the front and back, and shorten them, in order to have enough yarn for the whole project. I did that yesterday, so now I have all the bits done--time to sew up and do the button placket. This is one baby project I might actually finish before the baby in question is born!