Thursday, October 30, 2008

One Thing at a Time

My recent attempts to keep myself to one project at a time seem to be paying off, as I'm actually finishing things rather than starting, starting, starting and not so frequently finishing. With the motivation of the reward of casting on something new looming ahead, it's much easier for me to keep the sticks moving.

I have two small projects to add to the "done" list, although only photos of one right now.

New socks that I've named "Tahoe Socks" (don't ask me why Tahoe ... ). These are knit with my FF Tight Twist Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn. The colorway is one of the ones exclusive to my current sock club. The pattern is available in my shop.

The other project I finished was a very simple, quick-knit hat made with the leftover yarn from the sweater I recently completed. It's such a simple little bit of nothing knitting that it's not really worthy of a picture, but if I remember I'll take one anyone to show you next time I post.

My next project in this serial-knitting-monogamy fest will be a pair of fingerless mitts. I made quite a few pair last year, but mostly for gifts. The ones I made for myself I wear all the time and so I think a second pair for me is in order. I'm noodling on plans for another sweater, but keep changing my plans so I'll wait a bit on that until I know for sure what I want to do.

That's about all that's going on here, other than the usual dyeing frenzy. Dyeing is surprisingly physical work and leaves me pretty tired at the end of the day. Good thing I have my protector to ensure nothing disturbs me if I try to catch a little catnap.

Hope everyone is having a great week!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Oh My!

I have such a lovely project to share with you today! It's Vickie's version of the Kiri Shawl (pattern available at All Tangled Up).

Vickie used FF Laceweight Merino in the Lilac Medley colorway.

So beautiful and every little stitch so perfect! Once again, it makes me itch to knit more lace.

A big Thank You to Vickie for sharing her photos! You can see lots more of Vickie's inspiring work on Ravelry where she is VickieK and on Flickr where she is knitstaut.

What a great way to start a Monday morning! Great day to all!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

More Sweater Details

A few folks have asked for more information about the sweater I posted last week, so I’m going to take a moment to give you a few details.

Yarn/Gauge/Needles: The yarn is my FF Classic Merino Heavy Worsted Weight in the Majestic colorway. I used size US #9 needles, which in this stitch pattern yielded a gauge of about 18 stitches to 4 inches.

Stitches: The mock turtleneck is a K3, P1 rib. I used this rib so that it would be tighter and have more stretch than the body and so that the stitch count in the rib would flow nicely into the main body stitch. The main body is a seeded rib, sometimes called a “mistake” rib. It’s very simple to do. In the round, it’s basically just this:

Row 1: *K3, P1* across
Row 2: *P1, K1, P2* across

This stitch pattern creates a nice texture with a bit of stretch, but not too much. Incorporating the increases into the pattern stitch was very easy. If you knit this stitch, you can see a “bead” of stockinet that occurs. Basically, if you look at the simple stitch pattern above you will see that the second stitch in the repeat for both rows is a knit stitch. This creates a bead of stockinet and it’s quite visible when you knit. That means that as you incorporate additional stitches, there’s no fumbling around with notes or trying to figure out where the latest increase has left you in your stitch pattern. You can just glance at the work and see where the next stitch is that lines up with the bead of stockinet and you know immediately that that is the second stitch in the simple repeat.

Construction: I didn’t use a pattern, but used simple top down construction. Nothing fancy. I used DPNs for the turtleneck to keep the rib nice and tight (I thought a 16” circular would stretch it out way too much since I have a pretty thin neck). The sleeves are raglan and I used a fairly standard rate of increasing one stitch every other row at each side of each seam. I used just one stitch as the “seam” stitch, with that stitch in stockinet.

I took the piece off the needles quite a few times as I went to try to it on and just made my decisions on the next step from there. At the underarms, where I was splitting off to work sleeves and body separately, I added around six stitches to the body at each side. A few inches below the underarm toward the narrower part of the body, I decreased a total of four stitches (one stitch pattern repeat) at each side over the course of 8 rows or so.

For the sleeves, I picked up several extra stitches from the body area (where I had cast on the extra six or so stitches previously for the body) to complete the sleeve. I calculated out my decreases for the sleeves and proceeded from there. I can’t recall exactly the format, but I think I did my decreases two stitches every fourth row twice and then every six rows once. Something along those lines.

My apologies for not having a full pattern to share. I thought about writing up the pattern, but I have to admit that it’s a ton of work and time to do that , particularly to grade the pattern for different sizes and since it’s such an ordinary sweater I didn’t imagine that such a pattern would be in high demand.

I hope this helps answer some of your questions. Thank you all for your kind words about this simple little piece. I wore it last week for bowling and it was oh so comfy! It’s going to see a lot of wear this winter.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Monday Pick-Me-Up

The weather's been holding out longer than usual here in Oregon, with not too much rain yet and mostly beautiful sunny afternoons. This morning, unfortunately, the inevitable Oregon raining is pouring down. A few beautiful knits to gaze at should be the perfect pick-me-up for this dreary morning.

As part of a wedding gift for a friend and fellow knitter, Teri made two pair of socks for the new husband and wife. The socks for the bride are knit with FF Lightweight Superwash Merino Sock Yarn in the Earthenware colorway.

The pattern is Bacchus Socks by Alice Bell, published in Interweave Knits Fall 2008. Check out the lovely details:

The groom's socks are made with the same yarn, this time in the Sublime colorway.

The pattern this time is Tesserae Socks by Anne Hanson of KnitSpot.

What a great gift! Since the bride is also a knitter, I'm sure she'll appreciate it all the more.

Teri's also been busy working on a Twinings Stole (pattern also from KnitSpot):

She's using FF Laceweight Merino in the Antique Rose colorway.

This piece is not quite finished in the photos above, but you can see already that it's going to be absolutely gorgeous!

Lots more of Teri's beautiful work can be found on Ravelry where she is treefrog303.

A big Thank You to Teri for sharing her work and helping to start a rainy Monday off on a sunny note!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

As Predicted

When I posted last week about casting on for a new sweater, I predicted that it was going to fly off the sticks. And fly off the sticks it did! I cast on Thursday last week and finished Tuesday this week.

I can't say that I met the criteria of the "perfect sweater" (is there any such thing really?), but I did get what I wanted. That is, a casual pullover, bulky and warm, comfortable and well-fitting. All in all, I'm pleased with the results and think I'll get lots of use out of this sweater.

The yarn is my FF Heavy Worsted Merino in the Majestic colorway. I don't carry much of a selection of this yarn, but I'm going to need to add more soon. I just love it so much that if other folks aren't interested, I'd be happy to knit with it myself for years to come.

Here's a closeup so that you can see the colors a bit better. You can't really see the nice textured rib very well, since this photo is just a cropped and blown up shot from a larger photo and so it's pretty fuzzy, but you can see the variations of color and get a better sense of it.

I knit this top down in the round with simple raglan sleeves and an allover mistake stitch ribbing (aka seeded ribbing). The turtleneck is really a mock turtleneck, as it doesn't fold down. The yarn is a heavy worsted and so I thought a full, folded turtleneck would be too bulky and might just further highlight the fact that I have a rather tiny head :)

It feels great to finish a project and have something useful to wear so quickly. Of course, that leaves my sticks free and crying out for something new! I'm doing a good job of sticking to one project at a time these days and I think that's a good thing. It helps motivate me to finish things so I can get on to the next project!

Now to ponder what that next project will be . . .

Monday, October 13, 2008

Mystery Crocus

Remember the Mystery Yarn I posted about a couple of months ago? It was some yarn that was mixed in with an order I had of another type of yarn. Beautiful stuff, but a mystery as to exactly what it was. It turned out to be 100% kid mohair. I had thought it was mohair with some silk content because of it's lovely drape and sheen.

Elisa saw a photo of the mystery yarn here and simply had to have some. The result ...

How beautiful is that?! It's Elisa's rendition of the Crocus Bud Crocheted Shawl by Sharlene Boyce available at Webs.

So lovely!

Everytime I see one of Elisa's crocheted pieces I have to fight the urge to learn to crochet. (Why fight it, you ask? Because I barely have enough time to knit and so must remind myself that I don't need to learn to crochet. Or spin. Or weave. Not just yet anyway!)

You can see lots more of Elisa's work on her blog or on Ravelry where she is epspins.

A big Thank You to Elisa for sharing her beautiful work!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Perfect Sweater

If you asked a hundred knitters to describe The Perfect Sweater, you'd likely get a hundred different answers. That's part of the fun of the online knitting community; everybody has different tastes, styles, preferences, ideas, etc. and we all get to see such diverse work as we pop from blog to blog or Ravelry project page to project page.

I posed this question to myself earlier this week. What is my perfect sweater? The answer was right there in my closet. For me, the perfect sweater is a casual one, since my lifestyle is certainly as casual as they come. A good fit is, of course, a necessary element for the perfect sweater. I'm also frequently cold and so I like something quite warm and even a bit bulky. Neckline is easy; just about everything I own is either turtleneck or crewneck. It's also got to be a pullover. I'm just not a cardigan sort of gal.

All I had to do was look in my closet and I found something that is pretty close to my "perfect" sweater. It's a turtleneck pullover, slightly bulky, in a simple allover rib. It's not handknit, so lacks a bit in perfection in that way :) It's the sweater I always reach for first throughout the winter. If it's not in the wash, it's probably on my back.

Obviously, I'm heading somewhere with these rambling thoughts and I think the destination is clear. It's about time that I get a sweater on the needles. I really need a few things for winter and I'd like at least one item to be a handknit sweater and I'd like it to be something that gets a lot of use.

I've settled on the idea of an allover rib pattern, turtleneck with raglan sleeves. After swatching a bit, I settled on this rib stitch:

It goes by various names, sometimes called Mistake Stitch Ribbing or something of that sort. I chose it for a couple of reasons. First, it's not nearly as stretching as a plain K X P ribbing. I think this will work nicely to give the sweater some shape, but without moving into the realm of clingy. I have nothing against a nice form-fitting or even clingy sweater, but I'm 43 years old and must admit that the world really doesn't need or want to see me in anything too clingy. Trust me on that. I also love the texture that the stitch pattern creates.

The upper portion of the swatch is a plain 3X1 rib and will be used for the turtleneck, since I do need some serious stretch in that area.

Before you think, "OMG, she's going to knit again in rusty orange!" let me mention that the swatch is just some leftover yarn from my last project. I'm using the same type of yarn (my Heavy Worsted Weight Merino) but the color for the sweater will be the "Majestic" colorway.

I've actually cast on already last night, but don't have quite enough to show off yet. I have a feeling this one's going to fly off the needles though, so look for lots of progress to show next week.

All of this talk of the Perfect Sweater makes me think what a great KAL that would be. Wouldn't it be fun to see everyone's various takes on the perfect sweater? So many different points of view, varied choices of yarn weights and fiber content, different styles, etc, but all aimed at something highly wearable, versatile, timeless, etc.

What about you? Have you thought about what your perfect sweater would be?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Lace and More Lace

The lace knitting craze continues and I have two fabulous lace projects to share with you today!

First up is Kathleen's Flutter Scarf (pattern by Miriam Felton).

Kathleen knit this with FF Laceweight Merino Wool Yarn in the Spring Breeze colorway. Isn't it lovely?!

You can see more of Kathleen's beautiful work on Ravelry where she is Katrog.

Next up is Monnie's rendition of the Hanami Stole (pattern by Melanie Gibbons).

Monnie knit this with FF Lightweight Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn in the Lust colorway. Such a lovely pattern and such beautiful work by Monnie!

More of Monnie's lovely projects can be viewed on Ravelry where she is - you guessed it - Monnie.

A big Thank You to Kathleen and Monnie for sharing their beautiful work! (I'm trying to get off the ground with a sweater project, gals. You're tempting me to cast on lace yet again!)

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Knitting in Rough Waters

I have no new knitting to show you today, since I've been spending my scant free time glued to CNN and CNBC this past week or so. Unlike my knitting time with half an eye on Law & Order, my time viewing the financial news is spent with both eyes firmly glued on the screen so I don't miss any interesting charts or scrolling words at the bottom of the screen.

I won't bore you with my own opinion about the financial crisis. You've all heard enough opinions on the matter by now I'm sure! I do have plenty of them though. Ah yes, I've spent plenty of brainpower playing armchair quarterback - or perhaps more aptly "armchair legislator" - these past days.

What I will share with you today are some philosophical thoughts about knitting trends that have crept into my mind amidst the economic facts, fictions, and financial soundbites.

It seems pretty clear that lace has been a growing trend in knitting for some time now and seems to be picking up more and more steam. There are plenty of explanations for this, from the simplest (lace rocks; it's fun and satisfying to knit and yields stunning results) to the most logical (the wave of new knitters over recent years have graduated in skill and are seeking more challenging projects). There's also the financial aspect of lace knitting. That is, you get a great deal of knitting bang-for-the-buck. With almost any lace project, you get a lot of knitting time for a relatively small amount of yarn budget. Lace yarn goes a long way and it's somewhat slow-going to knit. The end product is also often something of extraordinary quality. Who wouldn't want 30 hours of knitting enjoyment ending in an heirloom quality piece for a total of perhaps $40 for yarn and pattern?

But is there more to the trend than that? Can we dig deeper into our collective knitters' subconscious and read more meaning into it?

How our economy ended up in this hot mess is complex and I won't go into my own opinions on that either. I will, however, pick one little factor out of that and wax philosophic about it. Beneath all of the contributing factors that led to so much toxic mortgage debt there is one small truth that perhaps contributed in a small way to all of this. That is, we are a culture of instant gratification. We want it all and we want it now. The American Dream of home ownership has morphed into a dream of home ownership now. No time to amass a significant down payment. No starter home in a questionable neighborhood will suffice. We will stretch to the max and take great risks to reach the dream. The dream is no longer the home of the Cleavers. It is the home of one of the Housewives of Orange County. No laminate for me. I must have granite! And, of course, the right car or cars in the garage.

Now again, I must stop and be sure you know that I do not think this is the crux of our economic woes, but I do think that our drive toward instant gratification has played some small role in some of the decisions that some people have made. I'm keying in on it now only because this minor factor interests me when thinking about knitting trends.

What does all of this have to do with knitting and knitting trends, you ask? Well, I'll tell you. I think that somehow this financial fiasco will continue to creep into our collective knitters' subconscious and turn us more and more away from the need for instant gratification. We are seeking true gratification. Deep, meaningful and long-lasting satisfaction. For a knitter, that often means more complex projects that require time and effort to achieve results. But oh how worthwhile the results are!

I think this little seed about the dangers of instant gratification that are planted somewhere deep in the recesses of our minds will continue to sprout and grow. We as a group will move further toward projects such as lace work as I mentioned previously. I think we'll see more larger projects, such as afghans and sweaters. Intricate cables. Challenging construction. Generally, more complexity and a slower pace of achieving results, but a greater pride and satisfaction in the end. We'll always have the occasional need to whip out a quick and simple hat or scarf, of course, but I think generally we'll see larger and more complex projects take center stage.

My apologies for leaving you with no knitting photos for content today. I did finish knitting the large woven-stitch wrap I've been working on, but it still needs to be blocked. I'm also close to done finalizing the pattern for the lace shawl I finished a few weeks ago. So you see, I have managed to find some productive knitting time. But right now I need to get back to CNN.