February 2004 Archives

I had a really lovely weekend. Friday night saw the completion of the first sleeve of the Bonkers RDP and the casting on of the second sleeve. Having those little cables running up the side of the sleeve really helped to diminish the feelings of severe boredom I usually have when I tackle the second sleeve, as did the prospect of having a new sweater.

As part of a little pre-victory celebration, I placed an order to Colourway for a bag of Kid Silk Haze in the color "Chill" -- which looks to be a light blue/grey/purple shade. The ten skeins in the bag is a perfect number -- 3 skeins for Birch and 7 for a lacy little cardigan that calls for Douceur et Soie (which appears to be almost identical to Kid Silk Haze in all the particulars I could find). Since the color is being discontinued, it is almost a guarantee that one of these projects will need more yarn than anticipated. But I'll deal with that when I get started. Soon, you'll all get to see if my interaction with Kidsilk Haze goes better than my experience with the Plymouth Fusion. Sorry, Becky, there won't be any ruffles to watch me work through, but I suspect that casting on 300 stitches for a lace project will be equally entertaining/daunting.

I finished up the second sleeve on Saturday after a wonderful shopping trip with Julie. It was a good time to go shopping as I found a number of good end of season deals, though I was unable to find a suitable companion for Siena. Here's the sleeves, blocking in preparation for sweater assembly. The second sleeve was a quicker knit because I only had one ball left to work from and didn't have to hassle with knitting from two skeins.

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BRDP Sleeves Completed

On Saturday night, before bed, I had enough time to seam the shoulders and pick up stitches for the collar. I opted to do the collar in the round instead of creating a seam up the side of the neck (which would have probably been an irritation), my only major alteration to the pattern. By Sunday, before breakfast (which is much later for John and I than it is for most people) I had attached the sleeves to the armholes and was preparing to take on the sleeves and side seams.

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Color Variation Throughout the Assembled BRDP

This picture is less to demonstratet he assembly than to show how the colors varied over the body of the garment. Put together, it's less noticeable, and is just part of the character of the sweater, but spread out this way you can see how different the 5 skeins I had were.

After the Super Bowl I completed the finishing process (including binding off the neckline a second time with a smaller needle to eliminate a slight ruffly quality) and got John to snap a few photos. This sweater really screams for an outdoor photo shoot, but it's not exactly warm enough, even armed with a nice wool sweater, to do that right now. So my victory shots are a little murky and don't show off the sweater or its lace/cable pattern very well.

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BRDP Completed

As you can see from the assembly picture and my model shot, this sweater has a very simple shape. It's not at all fitted, which I like, and the neckline is comfortable. The sleeves are a little more fitted and are constructed to end just above the wrists (it looks the same on the model in the picture on the pattern, so I am assuming this is a design element). Under normal circumstances I would have preferred about an inch more sleeve. But this kit didn't leave me with much yarn to spare, so it wasn't really an option. At least the sleeve won't get in the way when I am working.

You can see how it looks in profile by clicking here and what the back looks like by clicking here.

Unfortunately, none of these pictures give you a good look at the thing that makes this sweater a real winner. John did get one good picture but I couldn't scale it down to a reasonable size for the blog page and still keep the detail visible. So I scaled it down as much as I could. But since it's still a 50 kB image and it would distort my page, if you want to see it, you'll have to click here.

What did I learn?

  • The K1 P1 ribbing was done on smaller needles than the stockinette of the body of the sweater. Even so, it created bigger stitches than in the body of the sweater. I've done this for other garments and never noticed the difference. I'm assuming this is because moving the yarn back and forth as the K1 P1 occurs creates a looser, and thus, larger stitch. Definitely something to remember.
  • Executing SSK as slip one knitwise, slip one purlwise, but the left needle through the front of the loops and knit both stitches together makes a lovely left-slanting decrease.
  • A little detail work makes everything go faster for me. I love to see what is just around the next corner and I keep going as long as I can.
  • Worsted weight wool is a nice medium in which to play with lace. The stitches tend to stay put and you don't need quite as much blocking to see what is going on.
  • Lace and cables go well together. I'm not a big fan of all over cable patterns -- I tend to get frustrated with the counting and all the slowing down to deal with the cables (which is not to say I don't like the result, just that I am very much a product knitter and I get distracted to other things whent he process is too arduous). But the blending of the two means that I got to have more texture without much decrease in speed. I find lace knitting to be a speedier process, perhaps because it is still mostly variations on the knit stitch.
  • I'm tired of working from two skeins at once -- I like the result, but I don't like the lack of portability. In my next couple of projects I'm going to try to stick to one skein at a time.

With that last element in mind, my next project will be Banff. I have some lovely Manos del Uruguay yarn in a deep mauvey color that is just begging to be swatched.

Baltic Sea Scarf

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I'm not very good at working on complicated things in the dark. Since ground zero for the SuperBowl watching experience was our home theatre, and the projector experience doesn't work so well with a lot of lights on, I opted to finish up a simple project that I've been working on for a little while now: a K2 P2 ribbed scarf in Lorna's Laces Angel in the colourway Baltic Sea.

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Baltic Sea Angel Scarf

This scarf has a masculine recipient, hence the preponderance of greys and greens. From the picture it looks a little muddy, but up close the colors come out a little better and you can see the hints of blue and rose and orange that also are part of the mix.

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Colors of Baltic Sea

I sewed the ends in tonight, so the project is officially finished and ready for the recipient who shall not be named on this blog at this time.

I received a nice box from the ThreadBears last week. Seven hanks of Manos del Uruguay in the colorway called "Thistle". This yarn is a deep purply red. Rob went to great trouble to help me select both the color and the skeins I received. I've decided that I'm just not going to knit from two skeins at the same time, so I am pretty pleased that these seven skeins have more or less the same depth of color and light and dark zones. Here they are, stretched out for inspection:

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Manos del Uruguay, "Thistle"

Yep, I know, they don't all look very similar from this picture, but if you rotate them around and look at them from more than one direction, they do look close to each other. So I engaged my trusty ball winder and swift and got cracking on a swatch on size 10 needles.

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Manos Thistle Swatch for Banff

I was really expecting to have to swatch more than once, but I got gauge on the first go, which seems like a good omen to me. After knitting the Bonkers yarn to boardlike density, it feels wonderful to be knitting something to a looser gauge. This yarn is very soft. I think it's going to knit up into a wonderful sweater. A big thanks to Heidi and Jessica who shared their experiences and got me inspired to do Banff in this yarn.

Watch out ribbing, here I come!

Banff Begins in Earnest

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The Back of Banff

No earthshattering developments tonight. I'm exactly halfway through the ribbing on the back piece of Banff. I have a feeling that this sweater is going to be in the "fun to knit, boring to blog about" category. But I also think it's going to knit up fairly fast. Gotta love bulky yarn and size 10 needles.

Manos is an interesting yarn. It seems to me to be very lightly spun. As I am knitting, I come to sections that seem almost like roving. These are usually big thick areas. Then you come to areas that seem so thin that they should break, but they don't because their twist is so tight. It's the sort of yarn that almost makes gauge relative to particular areas in the fabric.

At any rate, I'm very much enjoying it as it slips through my fingers. The resulting fabric is quite nice, too. It's firm without having boardlike qualities. And the color is very rich. My camera seems to be reproducing the color well, in spite of the flash conditions.

I just had to show off my spiffy new measuring tape. Julie gifted me with it as a little Christmas present to go along with a very nice set of hand-stamped cards for all sorts of occasions (I will have a very hard time giving them away since they are so nice!) Very fun. I now have enough tape measures to keep one in almost every place I like to knit -- which is a very handy thing, since that means that I don't re-distribute them around my house and my knitting bag and lose track of them.

BTW... if you haven't checked out Julie's new Kristina bag, you should head on over to her blog for a look. Kristina is very cute and is a great opportunity to do some two color knitting.

Playing Games

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I'm two timing my knitting projects. Given my weakness for Giotto, new hobbies and new projects in general, I decided I wanted to get started on my needlepoint Colinette cushion kit.

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The Start of the Mahjong Cushion, Opal Colorway

When I first saw these kits online, I figured that they must be created using one of Colinette's finer weight yarns. Imagine my pleasant surprise when I found a small box filled with Giotto in three different colors. Even better, the tiny skeins provided had also already been clipped into usable pieces.

The instructions are simple and the project is simple, but the result is complex because of the yarn. Color and texture change in each stitch. The area I've worked so far is a composite of two colors. Here's a little closeup that show's off the Giotto and the texture:

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Mahjong Swatch

I think this project will come together rather slowly. For one, I don't have a lot of patience with untangling yarn or detatching it from where it catches on the canvas. For another, the canvas has a very rough edge, and I can't find a way to work that's comfortable and doesn't scratch my wrists as I work. Probably it would be a good idea if I got some masking tape to cover the edges with. Finally, this is pretty repetetive stuff. And, as I've mentioned before. I've got the attention span of a two year old.

Now back to Banff for a little while...

Back to Banff

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I woke up this morning to find these sitting on my desk:

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Birthday Roses

It actually took me a few minutes to figure out why they were there. It's a good thing that John has a better memory than I do. Such bright happy colors on a snowy grey day. He hid them in our basement guest room so they'd be ready this morning. Isn't he a sweetie?

A fantastic dinner out got in the way of much knitting progress today. We wetn to the Crofton on Wells and had an extraordinary meal coupled with a lovely bottle of Cabernet Sauvingnon. I just love wine. Something about it creates a warmth that just courses through me and makes me happy.

I'd been trying to figure out what color this Manos really reminded me of. I think of thistles (the name of the colorway) as being much more purple (at least the ones that always grew in my parents back yard were much more purple). This yarn has more garnet tones. "Cabernet" is a much more accurate description.

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Back Ribbing Completed

I managed to complete the ribbing for the back tonight. Ribbing is always slow going for me and in this case my choice of the Denise needles may not have been the best for speed. Ah well. I think this project will move quickly regardless of the needles. I'm about 1/2 an inch longer than I should be given the gauge swatch, but I'm thinking that it isn't enough to worry about and that I always am a little looser in my ribbing areas than in the stockinette I did the swatch in.

The happy warm feeling is giving way to the warm happy sleepy feeling. Here's to a good weekend for everyone!

The Holographic Cardi Goes Home

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Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who sent me good birthday wishes! As birthdays go, it was a pretty nice one. To help me celebrate, my parents came to visit over the weekend. This gave me some motivation to finish up a project that just needed a few little things to be completed... like weaving in a million ends. So while my folks were out at the motorcycle show that was in Chicago this weekend, I got my act in gear and put an end to those ends.

It's always nice to be able to show a sweater on the intended recipient. So here's Mom showing off her sweater. See how happy she is to have me finish this sweater?

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Holographic Cardigan Finished!

Here's a couple of shots from the side that show off the stealth elements of this sweater:

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Holography from the Side

But from the back it almost looks like just a striped sweater:

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Shadow Boxes Cardigan from the Back

It still amazes me that even though I know those boxes are there, unless I am looking at it the right way, even I can't tell that there is something special about this sweater.

This is a clever sweater from a construction perspective. Maureen Mason Jamieson added some elements that definitely make this piece look a lot more polished when it is finished. The button band is a double thickness, which makes it easier to attach and stabilize a button. There are actually two buttons -- one decorative one on the front and one on the back of the opposite tab, and this helps stabilize the closure. And she included selvedge stitches everywhere necessary to make the seaming easier.

While the garter stitch aspects of this sweater can get a little monotonous, the result is a very nice sweater. The Shelridge Farm yarn is nice to work with -- not to soft, not too hard... a little softer than Shetland, but still firm. The fact that it is hand dyed means that there are subtle shading variations in it. Which adds a little more depth to the sweater.

What did I learn?

  • Well, I still don't like to weave in ends.
  • The Japanese Three Needle Bind Off
  • Button bands with a double thickness make for excellent supports for you favorite closures -- especially heavier buttons. I'll be remembering this technique in the future.
  • It's obvious that the designer put a lot of thought into the finishing aspects of this sweater. This is a very good reminder that doing a lot of thinking beforehand can lead to a better finished product. Nothing was left to chance in this sweater -- and, as a result, I got to give my mom a sweater that I think is gorgeous and that looks "handmade" but not "homemade".
  • Did I mention that I still don't like weaving in ends?

And in case you were wondering who that last Angel scarf was for...

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Dad and his Fuzzy Bunny Scarf

Mom wasn't the only one to go home with knitted presents. Dad got both the Rowan Polar scarf and my most recent Angel scarf. I think it goes quite well with his new motorcycle jacket.

There's still more to talk about from the weekend... but I'll continue with that tomorrow. Right now, there's some Manos waiting to run through my fingers.

Birthday Book Bounty

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This entry is going to seem very over the top without some frame of reference. In my family, books are part of the coin of the realm. We all love them and we all love to amass them in whatever area we are inspired by.

When I was growing up my mom, brother and I had a more than respectable science fiction library. Mom always had an incredible collection of cookbooks and craft books -- my brother is beginning to take over the cookbook collecting. My dad is slightly less bookish, but has all sorts of woodworking and photography books and magazines to reference. You really just can't walk into a room in my parents house without encountering a large collection of some kind of book.

And I'm not much different. My book collection is a pretty reasonable barometer of what I am into... biology, computers, history of science, social history, science fiction, origami and other paper arts, mystery and suspense, espionage, the occasional gardening reference, knitting and a smattering of travel guides fill my shelves. I have to admit to not being a very lofty reader... you won't find too much high literature on my shelves -- probably a result of being force-fed too much of it during high school and college.

And the rooms with shelves keep expanding... first the office, then the guest bedroom, now the small upstairs bedroom. John tries hard to keep the spread of my library in check, but at some level he knows it is a futile battle -- his only recourse is to accumulate computer parts and Legos and the other things that engineers like to keep around them.

I did not have a very fibery birthday from a stash-advancement perspective (which is okay because I am beginning to feel a little stash saturated again). Instead, I got a might boost to my knitting library.

Here's the lovely gift that arrived on Saturday morning from Amazon from my brother and his wife:

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Color Knitting with Anna Zilboorg

Both of these books by Anna Zilboorg are worth it for the pictures alone! Color everywhere! I really love the gauntlet mittens and the incredible variety of hat shapes. I was thinking that if I were going to try two color knitting, the best place to start would be on a small project or two... somthing that would give me some immediate gratification... or at the very least wouldn't become an expensive unfinished item (I try to be realistic about my expectations for myself). From what I can tell (I haven't read them thoroughly yet), these books are more jumping off points for personal knitting adventures than step by step guides to a given project. Which I like, but might not appeal to all.

On Saturday night, in addition to a fabulous dinner out at one of my favorite local restaurants, Meritage, my parents treated me to what has got to be one of the nicest book sets that a knitter could ask for -- at least if that knitter wants to design their own things -- the Barbara Walker treasuries:

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The Ultimate Reference Library: Barbara Walker's Stitch Pattern Encyclopedia

Aren't they just gorgeous sitting there in all their primary color wonderfulness? A treasury of inspiration just waiting for me to dive into them. And as if that wasn't enough... Mom also enclosed a gift card for use at Knit A Round, one of my favorite yarn stores away from home in Ann Arbor. I'm a lucky girl!

(I won't even show pictures of the other two books that I gave myself as a birthday present... Weekend Knitting and Anne Budd's book of knitter's templates...)

This also seemed to be the time for me to get my knitting mags -- none of these were gifts, but the timing was auspicious for me...

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Signs of Spring: The New Knitting Magazines Begin to Arrive...

I subscribe to Rowan and IK, and am a TKGA member. Not sure where the Knit N' Style magazine came from -- it was just a free copy that showed up in my mailbox. The Cast On and the KNS are mostly uninspiring, but I found a number of things in both the Rowan and the IK that I might need to do. Just my opinion, but I thought that overall there was a lot of good stuff in IK (and I was psyched to find the "Priscilla's Dream Socks" article available through the subscriber only part of the website -- I've heard such good things about this sock perspective but didn't really want to order the whole magazine to get it). When my husband picks up a knitting magazine and as he flips through points to half the items and says that he likes them, something good has to be going on.

Probably the only shame is that almost everything is cute and little and in cotton. I've got nothing against cute little cotton garments, but it's still pretty cold here in Chicago and I'm an instant gratification sort of girl. Be sure though, that "Polka Purl Dots" will be on my needles sometime in the future.

In the near term. however, I've decided that I need a pair of "No Sweat Pants" and have joined Allison's latest knit-a-long adventure -- the pant-a-long.

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It's still hard for me to believe that only 4 skeins of Lion Brand Homespun can make a whole pair of pants (I'm pretty sure that the largest size will work for me). And yes, I know all about knitted garments that you sit in and stretch out, but I just can't resist these things. They seem like they'd be just perfect for lounging around the house in. And aside from knitting, lounging around is one of my favorite things!

Cabernet Banff

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The Back of Banff Completed

I'm making progress on Banff. Here's the back ready to be spritzed and blocked. I haven't gone too far yet because I'm still not sure that I want to block the ribbing all the way out. Is there any advice from someone who has already worked on this sweater? I want oversized, but not a tent. The finished models I've seen all look blocked out to the dimensions in the schematic, so I pinned the back down that way.

I'm better than 3/4 of the way through the front. Perhaps tomorrow I will mark that little victory.

I'm quite taken with the color. It really does look as if it was a lighter garment splashed with wine. I'm still trying to decide if the place where I joined the second ball of yarn is noticeable. It is, I think, but not so much that it causes me any distress. The ribbing masks a little of it.

I'm already getting excited about wearing this sweater!

I updated my gallery with my recently finished projects and was surprised to find that I only have 3 knitting projects in my rotation right now: Banff, LoTech and a pair of socks. That's a mighty low count for me. But it feels like a good place. It gives me room for a Misti Alpaca scarf or another pair of socks for John. Or to swatch for Rogue. Or to put another Red Line together. I just love the feeling of having endless possibilities.

Needlepoint Interlude

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Ah, Wednesday again, and I'm humming along, fortified with a healthy dose of Rioja and a meal that I can only describe as "Italian Tapas" from a new restaurant that we tried called avec. It was loud and fun and a great place for our date night.

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A Bit Farther on Mahjong

I am making slow, but steady progress on my Mahjong cushion. I use this project to relax after I get home from work and while I listen to The World. Gotta love streaming internet news.

The lovely blue masking tape has made this project much nicer to work on. The Giotto still catches on things (it's the nature of the yarn) but much less so that before.

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Kidsilk Haze in "Chill"

My Kidsilk Haze arrived today from Colourway. Hard to believe that such a tiny package can contain so much yardage! There's 229 yards on each one of those little balls. I liked the color when I saw it on line, but like it even better now that it is sitting here in front of me. "Chill" is mostly lavender, but with grey tones. The only real question is whether I will start the lacy jacket or Birch first. Probably the jacket, which, I hope will be a nice addition to my late winter/early spring wardrobe.

Tomorrow night is the KIP at Letizia's on Division at 7 pm! If you're around, do come and knit with us!

And Then There Were Two

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The Back and Front of Banff

I'm working hard to keep up with Heidi -- who also has the back and front of her Banff completed! I finished the front of Banff at the KIP tonight. Thank you so much to everyone who arranged for cake and good birthday wishes! It's such a fun group that comes to knit. It made for a wonderful end of the day. I just wish that I wasn't feeling so exhausted lately. Amazing how a little cold and a lot of stuff at work can combine to drain my energy. I'm looking forward to the weekend to recharge my batteries.

To anyone who has emailed me and hasn't heard from me in a while -- I'm going to try to get caught up this weekend. While I figure out what I am going to work on next. Mary had her wonderful Kidsilk Haze sweater top at the KIP tonight. It was so gorgeous and soft that I know I'm going to need to dig into my new stash addition. I'll probably also cast on for the first sleeve on Banff. And maybe swatch some Homespun for those pants.

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Velvet Olive Skye

I've decided that I want to knit up Rogue in a solid yarn, preferrably one that is not too dark. I swatched my Velvet Olive Skye, but I just don't think it shows off the cables very well. The texture is nice, and it's a lovely yarn, but I don't want to do a lot of work on cables and then not have them show up. I've been particularly inspired by Steph's lovely Rogue in Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran Tweed. If you're working on Rogue and have a good candidate, I'd love to hear about it!

3/4's of a Sweater

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Loverly Flowers

Yes, I know Valentine's Day is a greeting card and candy maker's holiday. But I will never ever complain about getting flowers. Even if they come from the local grocery store, they still brighten up my desk and my day. And they still smell wonderful.

John is now finished with his 7th annual woman holiday extravaganza. Christmas, my birthday and Valentine's day all being close together, he has to be extra creative to make it all work. Now he's out of the woods, and he can mark off another successful completion.

Aside from a fabulous dinner at North Pond, it was a laid back and lazy weekend Chez Keyboard Biologist. Much knitting and needlepointing and web-grazing was accomplished. I'm now a little bit closer to completing Banff:

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One Humongous Sleeve Down...

This picture was taken in the last fading rays of sunshine and is probably the most accurate picture of the color of this yarn. The picture doesn't quite demonstrate how large this sleeve really is.

So now I'm only one sleeve, some seaming and a neck away from Banff. All I need to do is overcome my second sleeve ennui and maybe I can have a nifty new sweater to wear this weekend...

No Sweat Pants

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Before you fear for what you might see if you scroll down farther on this page, let me assure that even in the absence of sweat pants, no skin is revealed. Instead, I'm getting started on a project I just couldn't ignore, the "No Sweat Pants" from the Spring 2004 Interweave Knits (scroll past mid-page for the pic).

Now... before anyone tries to convince me of the craziness of going off and knitting pants for myself (or anyone else), let me tell you that I had all those conversations with myself and I just couldn't get this project out of my brain. There's just something wondeful and silly about it. And at just 4 skeins of Lion Brand Homespun for my size (the largest, which seems to be about a US size 6), I figured I couldn't lose too much if it turned out to be a kitschy disaster. And when Allison decided to host the Pant-A-Long... well, I just had to get a-long and make me some pant-y goodness.

So, two weekends ago, I got myself to the local Jo Ann's and grabbed 4 skeins of Homespun. It was actually a little bit of a challenge to find 4 skeins of a color I liked. But after about 5 minutes of deliberation and digging, I came up with these...

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Lion Brand Homespun in "Regency"

Yes, I know that is only three skeins. The fourth is hiding out and will be revealed in a few seconds. Although I didn't have much to choose from, I did think that this nice combination of blues and greens would work up into some sort of mottled blendy good thing that would be perfect for Saturday mornings lounging in front of my computer. The astute reader will already have noticed something about this yarn that I missed... Imagine my surprise to find out that I had inadverently picked up the Kureyon of acrylic yarns:

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A Stripy Pant Leg

I remember seeing some demonstration of this on a previous pass through the blogs, but it didn't come to mind while I was shopping. No matter, if I am going to go for wonderful kitschy goodness, I might as well go for wonderful horizontal stripey kitschy goodness. After all, it's not like I'm going to go clubbing in the things, I might as well have something that looks like a funky version of movie prison pajamas.

Now, I should take a few moments here to mention that I am a yarn snob. I freely admit it. I do turn my yarn nose up at most synthetics and I've never bought a skein of Red Heart. However, in addition to being a yarn snob, I am also a clothing slob... I hate handwashing things and almost never get to the drycleaner (unless I can convince my husband to do it for me). When it comes to yarn, snob usually wins out over slob, but in this case, I decided that I'd give the Homespun a shot. I have no intention of handwashing pants, nor do I want to pay excessive amount of $$$ for some thing that I might not really like/wear.

On Sunday, after finishing up the first Banff sleeve, I decided to take a break and swatch for the sweat pants. I was actually pleasantly surprised that the Homespun and my AddiTurbos got along pretty well. The stuff was easy to knit and soft through my fingers. The resulting fabric was a nice one for sweatpants... squishy and not too much stitch definition to distract from the overall fabric. I got gauge on my first shot and decided to go for it.

And then I noticed that it looked like there were distinct color runs in the yarn. And that my swatch changed shade as I knitted. Hmmm... stripes? Yes. Hmmm... quick glance at the pattern... pants are knit up in 4 pieces and then joined at the tops and knit in the round up over the hips. That didn't seem to be a good thing for stripes. And then there was my concern that the largest size might not be quite big enough for me at the hips... Hmmm... Hmmm... Hmmm...

I'm not quite sure why this project wasn't designed to be knit in the round. After all, leg tubes make a lot of sense. And if you knit the whole thing in the round, the only seaming you have to do is a 16 stitch crotch seam. For a girl who doesn't like to weave in ends and isn't all that excited by finishing, this seemed like a worthwhile change. Not only that, but I avoid the unpleasant need to purl and to pay attention, if all I am doing is knit stitches. Finally, by knitting in the round, I could keep the 4 stitches that would have been pulled into the seam in the leg of the pants, thus giving me a whole inch more girth. And, of course, the other benefit of tubes is that the stripes are consistant -- at least on each leg (I'm not sure how easy it is going to be to match the starting points).

So I got happy with my Addis, and by bedtime, I had made it through one skein of homespun and 22" of pantleg.

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One Legged Model Shot

I have to admit that I don't mind working with this yarn. It does split a little, but it works up fast and soft and really will be perfect for lounge pants. (I've heard conflicting information about its durability, so only time will tell on that one.) In fact, tonight, as I cast on for the second sleeve of Banff, I was really almost wishing that I was finishing off the first leg of these pants. I'm not sure if that is the novelty or the yarn talking, but so far this project is a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to the end product (silly pictures guaranteed!)

The Downward Slopes of Banff

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Banff Sleeves

Look what's blocking on my board! Both sleeves for Banff. I hunkered down tonight with an audio book (The Genome War by James Shreeve) and cranked my way through the last of the knitting. I'm almost tempted to stay up late enough to start finishing, but I think I'll opt for a good night's sleep instead!

Not too much else to say... it was a long day at work and all my focus tonight was on the last Banff sleeve, which really doesn't lend itself to extended dialog. Hopefully tomorrow night I'll get it all assembled. A girl can never have enough fun new sweaters!

New Lace Project

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Knit One Crochet Too Filigree Lace Jacket

About 6 months ago, I noticed this Knit One, Crochet Too pattern at Knit Picks. I thought it was a lovely pattern, but wasn't feeling very confident with my lace knitting skills and while the Douceur et Soie looked lovely, it was a mohair blend and I had a great fear of yarns that couldn't be ripped out easily. After all, I started Charlotte 3 times before I got past the first color. This yarn was expensive and mohair so I passed. Hoping that I could find something else for it that would be the right weight and a little more user friendly. Or at least cheaper. Well, eventually Knit Picks decided to clearance the pattern, so I picked it up for a song when I was making a bigger purchase. But I still hadn't found the yarn.

Enter the yarn sale at Colourway. Initially, I didn't think I wanted anything. And then I realized that Kidsilk Haze is almost a dead ringer for Douceur et Soie. Same composition, same weight, same yardage. But I still had mohair issues (not made better by what I consider the "Plymouth Fusion Bullseye Disaster"... which is still so disturbing to me that I haven't discussed it here). Certainly it would be itchy. And then Mary brough her wonderful Kidsilk Haze project to the KIP. And I didn't encounter any itch factor.

So... casting aside what little restraint I have (and I have very little, so it isn't too hard), I ordered my Kidsilk Haze and got the nice little bundle a while back. I was working on Banff so I promised myself I wasn't even going to open the bag. Oh yeah. You know where this is going. You know that I clipped open that bag, "just to show John how soft Kidsilk Haze is" last Friday and that I suddenly developed a need to knit lace. Right then, right there, Banff be damned. I admit it, I'm a project polygamist. And after so much stockinette, I just needed a little time off.

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Filigree Lace Swatch in Kidsilk Haze "Chill"

I never before appreciated the comments about "knitting with cobwebs". Now I do. I can't believe how fine and soft this stuff is. I am glad, however, that I paid attention to all the people who suggested that knitting Kidsilk Haze on bamboo needles was a good way to go. I love my Addis, but I think they would have just been too slick and fuzzy little stitches would have been falling off needles all over the place. Which would not have resulted in either a happy knitter or a pretty swatch. I was wishing that size 8's could have had needles sharp points. But that may be too much to ask from a 5.0 mm needle

It's been time for me to take on something more challenging. Almost all my recent projects have been simple stockinette and complicated yarn. Now I'm back to simple yarn (simple from color perspective) and it seems appropriate to knit it into a more complicated pattern. Given that this jacket is light and airy, I am hoping that it will still be something nice for spring -- and that I'll be able to get it finished. That swatch took me the better part of an evening, so this jacket could be slow going

Fortunately for Banff, I finished the body seaming tonight, so almost nothing will keep me from getting that collar on it tomorrow night. But you can see what's going to be hitting my needles over the weekend. I've gotta start this project with an invisible cast on. Any suggestions as to what a good yarn would be to do that with?

Images of Banff

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Ta Da!

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Banff is Done!

It's a picture day here in my neighborhood. Can you tell who's happy about her new sweater? Oh yeah! This one is going to work with me tomorrow. Warm and happy!

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The Back and Sides of Banff

You've probably noticed one odd thing about this sweater -- the little areas where the white peeks through -- that's my inappropriately colored turtleneck underneath, reflecting back the flash (I have no choice about the turtleneck, I don't have a wool allergy, but most wools are a little too itchy for me to wear against my skin). It isn't that obvious in person. However, the Manos does have some very thin and very thick areas. And the reflections are showing up in the thin areas.

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Serious Banff

The irregularities of the yarn give the sweater a lot of texture that it wouldn't have otherwise. Depending on your personal style, you'll like that or you won't. For me, it's a plus.

Jenna's instructions were clear all the way through. If I were to do it again I would probably lengthen the torso just an inch or so. But I like it fine just the way it is. It got my photographer's attention. "That really accentuates your chest!" was the comment (well, that's the edited version of the comment). And to be fair, the ribbing, unblocked, does have the effect of emphasizing those things that dwell above it.

I really don't have too much to put in the "what did I learn?" list. Most of the design elementants are easy to execute. This is a delightfully simple project. Simple shaping and texture that comes from the ribbing should make this really lovely and stylish wardrobe addition accessible to anyone. It wouldn't be a bad first raglan project.

I do have one question, however, and will probably email the author at some point... instead of doing paired decreases across the right side rows when doing the raglan shaping, she opts to do a decrease on every row. Not a big deal, but it did mean that I had to pay attention to every row. I'm curious to know if there is a reason for this or if it's just a designer's preference sort of thing. Either is fine, but I am always intrigued by why people make the choices they do when they design something. And I like to stash the good ideas away for when I try to work out my own ideas in yarn.

Happy Weekend!

Last Scarf of the Season

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I forgot to mention that I was working on this little number. It's construction is not particularly remarkable. Cast on 24 stitches. Knit in K2P2 rib for the entirety of the scarf. Bind Off. What's remarkable about it is the yarn that it is made out of: Bulky Weight Misti Alpaca.

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Misti Alpaca Bulky Scarf in K2P2 Rib

I did this scarf on US Size 13 needles so that the fabric would be reasonably dense but the yarn would still get to show off its spring and softness. This is just one of the most "cushy" yarns I've ever laid my hands on. It's probably the softest yarn I've ever knit with. The scarf ended up measuring about 5" wide and about 60" long and I used 2 skeins of yarn. Since the full project shot doesn't really show off the color or texture very well, I thought I'd also give the yarn a little closeup:

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Misti Marl Swatch

The color in this photo is pretty bang on. The yarn is a twist of charcoal and teal fibers (the colorway is called "charcoal/pine moulinette"). I wish I had a "virtual yarn petting" plug in so that everyone could feel the swatch, too. It's very luxe feeling. I got this wonderful stuff from ThreadBear, and I hear they have a whole range of yarns from Misti now. I'm hoping I can get my hands on some laceweight...

But the big event of the weekend was taking a quick trip up to the Milwaukee area for the Ruhama's Yarn and Needlepoint big sale. The first time I went to Ruhama's, I went with Julie, and the store left a lovely and huge impression. I've been looking for another excuse to go back. This trip I took with Bonne Marie. The store itself is pretty overwhelming in terms of selection and I don't think I've ever seen so many people in a yarn store. And, of course, I didn't come home empty handed...

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Everything's Coming up Teal

Can you guess what my current color theme is? It seems like every where I go I pick up teal and green and aqua colored yarns. The goodies in the above photo are just part of what I acquired -- I also have two bags of Jamieson's Bulky Soft Shetland that are going to be stashed for Aran sweater knitting for next fall.

I've heard/read great things about the Felted Tweed. Since it was 30% off, I snapped some up hoping that I can substitute it for Yorkshire Tweed 4-ply for the lacy scarf in the Yorkshire Fable book.

What's the All Season's Cotton for? Swatching for Rogue! I'd noticed when I was searching for Aran weight yarns that ASC fell right into the right gauge range, but I was worried about how it cabled. Bonne Marie assures me that it cables beautifully. That lovely teal color is being discontinued (I looked it up with my web-enabled mobile phone while at Ruhama's... yes, I am a geek) so I got a few skeins to play with and then ran back home to order a couple of bags from Colourway. I'm really excited about the prospect about having a hoodie pullover that could see some summer wear. I love wool, but I think I'm pretty much done knitting heavy wool sweaters for the year.

Speaking of heavy wool sweaters... I wore Banff into the office on Friday. I think the Manos is going to get fuzzy quickly -- but that is what sweater shavers are for. It's definitely not a bad indoor sweater. The yarn is heavy, but the big sleeves let a lot of cool air funnel in, so it provides a good balance. Were I to do the sweater again, I would probably knit it at a little tighter gauge and re-work the math so that it came out right to give me a little more durable sweater.

Panting Hard

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I can only handle so much serious knitting. Sometimes it's just fun to go off and do something impractical out of a fiber you don't give much credit and see what happens. So, with no further delay, I give you my progress on a very impractical project: knitted sweat pants.

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Two Legs Up!

I decided to not worry about matching the stripes -- I'm not going to hit the town with these bad boys, so I just went with what came up. Here's what one of the legs looks like draped across my actual leg:

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A Long View of a Pant Leg

I'm pretty pleased with myself -- I will only have one seam to sew up -- the crotch seam. I think I can handle a mattressing a few stitches. From here on out the pieces are knit together in the round. I am curious to see whether or not Amber's prediction from my previous post will come true -- that without the extra side seams, the pants will get loose and stretchy and shapeless. I hadn't thought about that before, but it does seem like a possibility.

And if anyone wants sweat pants just like these (even out of the same dye lot) -- check out Bonne Marie's blog. She's giving away Homespun to people who want to knit pants. And that Regency color is still waiting to be claimed!

Slow and Steady

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Just so you don't think that I've plunged into an acrylic pool, never to return from the joys of knitting big pants in the round, I figure it's time to show off my newest project: the K1C2 Filigree Lace Jacket done in Rowan Kidsilk Haze.

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4 Inches!

I've been taking this project very slowly. There are 6 repeats before the armhole bindoffs. I've done two. So far, I can only do about 1/2 a repeat a day before I get to the point where I can't concentrate any more. This pattern requires a lot of paying attention. When I did my Charlotte's Web Shawl, the right side row was where all the action was, while the wrong side row was simply purling back across. On this pattern, there is pattern to pay attention to in both the right side and wrong side rows.

To keep track, all my pattern intervals across are separated by jump rings. I'm also using lifelines as insurance against a disaster.

This project is going to be a lot of work and a lot of hours, but I already love the look of the lace.

Once I'm finished with the pants, it's going to be time to pick up another, slightly more straightforward project than lace knitting. Since the pants have only another night or two before completion, I think the arrival of my Rowan Calmer in Night Sky is perfectly timed.

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I'm Feeling More Peaceful Already...

Yep, this is another sale item from Colourway. It's destined to be Audrey from the new Rowan magazine. Audrey is one of the "simple" designs in this season's book. I love both the lace at the neckline and the slimming ribbed body. I'm looking forward to swatching the Calmer. From a blend perspective it seems like "All Seasons Junior" but it has a more traditional yarn twist than does ASC.

Now I'm off to play with my new toy. A geek girl can't be all about knitting all the time!

Board Games

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Current Progress on the Mahjong Cushion

I'm still working on the Majhong Cushion. It makes me happy and has no brain strenuous things going on in it. However, I am thinking that it might not end up a cushion. Instead, I might frame it and use it as wall art in my living room. I think if I did one from each cushion pattern (Mahjong, Snakes and Ladders and Checkers) it would make for a very neat decorative trio.

I am worried about 2 things if I used it as a pillow:

1) My cats would lay on it and it would become a fur covered mess.
2) My cats would claw at it and the pretty Giotto would get shredded.

My mention of Audrey yesterday generated a reasonable amount of interest. I hear that Morgan and Elisabeth beat me to the punch on starting a knit-a-long for Audrey. No matter, everyone can still share in the fun. So find yourself some Calmer (or something else you like) and get on board. Rowan rates this pattern as a "one skein" pattern, so there's no fear necessary.

Still no finished pants, but I'm only a couple of inches away from the waistline. Will I be taking these acrylic masterpieces to the KIP tonight? You never know! But if you're in town and feeling like knitting, be sure to look us up at Letizia's tomorrw between 7 and 9 pm. The address is on the image in the bar on the right hand side of my page!

Stripey Pants

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Wanna good morning laugh? Just feast your eyes on my most recent accomplishment... the No Sweat Pants in Lion Brand Homespun, Regency colorway.

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Pants from the Side, Front and Back

I finished up these stripey wonders after a very fun KIP. My tension must have gotten a little loose on top, because they were rather larger than I expected in that area. No matter, that is what a drawstring is for. One of the things that you can't see very well in the picture in the magazine is the drawstring. So I tried to make it more clear. I apologize in advance for exposing my blindingly white skin -- but it's all in the name of exposing the details of this pattern. In IK, the model's shirt comes down over the top of the pants.

I knit these up in the largest size. And the legs are a little larger than normal because I didn't get rid of the 4 stitches that would have gone into the seams. I left them because I like loose and baggy. After knitting the largest size, I now realize why they didn't size up this pattern too much more -- structural integrity. Four skeins of Homepun is 24 ounces -- or a pound and a half. These bad boys aren't lightweights. I think if you made them too much bigger, wearing them around would be a work out.

On one hand, I can't believe I actually made these things. On the other hand, I kind of like them and don't think they look quite as bad as I expected them to (horizontal stripes across the hips usually aren't a figure benefit). I definitely won't be wearing them out on the town, but I'm still wearing them after my little photo shoot. They're comfy and soft and not too warm. And even though they were waaaay oversized on top, that drawstring helps size them right up to my shape.

So what did I learn?

  • Lion Brand Homespun isn't so bad. I'm not going to knit with it all the time, but I can see it's value in making a quick afghan or baby blanket with it. It's soft, it knits up on big needles and it's machine washable. It is, however, very easy to split as you knit with it.
  • Knitting in the round makes this project a lot easier and it's pretty trivial to modify the pattern. Of course, you do give up those structure creating side-seams. I'll report back later on how well the shape holds up and if gravity gets my pants down!
  • Pants are a very simple shape. Two tubes connected into a big tube. Makes me think it might be fun to design some that could be worn on the beach. Maybe with an opaque top and lacy legs? Probably it would be more work than it was worth, but it wouldn't be too hard to design.
  • I like my pants. This started out as something of a joke, but turned out to be something comfy that I'll probably wear on a Saturday morning while I'm drinking my coffee and surfing the blog ring.

I'll sum up by saying that if you're intrigued by them, go for it. They're fun and the pattern is easy to follow. It's very easy knitting as well, and doesn't really take very long. Will they stand the test of time? Will you be passing them on to a grand child? Probably not. But I'll be enjoying them for the moment and if nothing else, I think they'll always make me smile.

P.S. I'm going to be co-hosting the Audrey Knit-A-Long with Morgan and Elisabeth. Becky is going to share her button making talents with us, and I'm hoping to set up a little gallery of finshed tops, so even if you don't have a blog, you can share in the fun of showing off your Audrey! If you're interested in knitting-a-long, let me or Morgan or Lis know and we'll keep you posted on the festivities!

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