March 2005 Archives

Spinning

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No, I haven't taken up a new hobby just yet, unless making knitted rugs counts as a new hobby. When I needed a break from Sigil, I was working on my Handspun Spiral rug.

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Spinning a Spiral

The second gold section marks the start of the second color repeat, so I'm roughly to the halfway point if you don't count the finishing work. This rug, as you can see from the picture, is knit in one long strip of garter stitch and then the spiral is seamed together to form the rug. In order to keep the project reasonably portable, I'm opting to wait to do my seaming until after the strip is completed.

This project has been a reminder to me that even something simple, used cleverly, can become complex and interesting.

Thank you to everyone for your compliments and your suggestions with regards to Sigil. She's likely to get her first trip to work tomorrow. That outing should have a lot of impact on my decision to add a zipper or not. And for anyone who is interested, I will be wrapping Sigil up (one size only for the time being) and making the whole pattern available all in one place to anyone who wants it. For the time being, it will be without the chart for the cable pattern (but with a reference for where to find it). I'm going to try to contact Elsebeth Lavold and find out if there is any way I can include the cable chart in the pattern. I know it's not a difficult chart, but the inspiration definitely came from her Viking Patterns for Knitting. Always best to give credit where credit is due.

Holey Moley

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Holey Scarf Detail

You'll just have to trust me that this is the bound off end of a completed scarf. I took a picture of it attached to my blocking board, but pale lavender scarf pinned to grey board equals blah photo. And I'll be the first to admit that even the close up isn't high drama. If you want to see a more artistic example, you can take a look here. The project comes from Last Minute Knitted Gifts and takes about 1/2 a skein of Kidsilk Haze. A better picture will show up here after the blocking is done and the daylight arrives.

Completing this scarf brings me to a nice milestone: I am all done with my "holiday" knitting. I also find myself at an interesting cross roads where I have only two sock projects and my rug project on the needles -- and my rug project is chugging along at a rather furious pace. I'm not exactly sure where to go next! Is there time for one more scarf made out of Lion and Lamb? The Ab Fab can't start until the rug is done (I consider both TV knitting projects).

Maybe it's time to do some spring knitting? I do have some lovely Phildar yarn for both myself and John waiting to become sweaters... if only I could actually make ribbing that looked nice. Lately I seem to have an inability to create ribbing where the stitch on the edge of the stockinette portion doesn't look distorted. I would like to knit John's sweater -- I recently washed the Phil'Onde sweater I made for myself last spring and not only did it wear well, but it's also softened up a bit -- and am actually considering making the pattern without the ribbing. I've been trying a few different things to get my ribbing to shape up, but so far nothing's working.

Sigil went to work today and had a very successful first day out over a black cashmere turtleneck (I suspect there is something karmically wrong about wearing a rustic wool sweater over cashmere, but it worked for me). I do think there's a zipper in Sigil's future, but it was a pleasant surprise to find that she'll probably be happy either way.

Not Much to Show for Myself

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Kidsilk Haze Scarf

Somethings definitely show up better on a dark background. I know this is a little bit of a cheat, since I showed the lace pattern yesterday, but I wanted to capture the completed project for posterity. The scarf turned out to be about 3 foot long and 6" wide -- just perfect for one trip around the neck.

Spiral Galaxy

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More good intentions led to almost nothing this evening. A few rows on a new project that I have started to help usher in the spring weather. But since even I don't consider 5 rows to be photo worthy, my handspun spiral progress is front and center tonight.

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Spiralling Outward

I'm only a couple more intervals away from getting to the finishing part. Even though the twisting that comes from working from both ends of the same ball of yarn is making me a little crazy, this is very nice knitting for when my brain is mush and I just want to watch TV. Not only that, but this is definitely a stash-busting kind of project. Got odds and ends of Cascade 220 left over after a bunch of felting projects? This is a great way to use it. Check out Julie's most recent post for an excellent example.

Sigil, The Pattern

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I have converted my notes on Sigil into an actual downloadable pattern, in PDF format, complete with schematics for any who might be interested.

You can find the link to Sigil (and other free patterns I have made) in my Patterns Index or just download the pattern itself by clicking here..


Leavin' On A Jet Plane...

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I was hoping to have something good to post tonight, but the reality is that it's not going to happen if I want to pack, double check my presentation, figure out what I am going to take on the airplane to entertain myself with and deal with a few work-related issues before I head across the ocean for a business meeting. I can't remember a 12 month period in which I have travelled so much. Hopefully it all pays off!

I'll be back Thursday afternoon. See you then!

Handspun Progression

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Sunday was an absolutely fabulous weather day here in Chicago. It was perfectly timed with the completion of the main body of the knitting for my handspun spiral so that I could finally get a picture that captured the real colors that Matt pulled together for me.

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Color Stripes in Series

In the last couple of pictures I took indoors, everything came out with too much yellow. While there are warmer, yellower undertones in all these yarns, the solid blue yarn really is very blue. I think that that is more apparent in these pictures.

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Lots of Ends to Weave In

Knitting the long strip of garter stitch that forms the spiral is only half of the battle in this project. The finishing requires a relatively signficant amoutn of effort. First all the ends will need to be woven in, then the strips have to be whip-stitched together to create the spiral shape. And then there is far more I-cord to knit than I really want to

Going in Circles

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Before
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After

Nothing like a little water and a flat blocking board to make a rug start to take shape.

P.S. She's not quite finished yet... still got those pesky ends to weave in and the i-cord edging to apply...

What Could This Be?

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Pink and Spongy

Can you guess what this is the start of? I'll give you a hint. This yarn made it's way to me with the help of a certain dancing rabbit. I think technically the yarn is a boucle yarn. It has a elastic fiber core with cottony thread making up the boucle part. Knit on 3.75 mm needles with 39 rows and 24 stitches per 4" it isn't going to be a fast going project for me.

So far, I'm finding the yarn to be a little rough to knit with, but the finished texture of the fabric is quite nice and soft. It will be a nice garment to wear directly next to the skin.

And, I'm feeling pleased with myself, because I'm knitting yet another project out of yarn that I already have.

Of course, that doesn't mean that I am not considering a few other projects... I am particularly in love with Liberty from the Rowan Classic Cafe book. I love the blending of the stripes with the subtle texture and the wrap design. I'm also quite taken with Marianne from Rowan 37. Anyone out there want to trade 5 skeins of Kidsilk Haze in "Chill" (a discontinued color -- the same color that I made this sweater out of) for 5 skeins of another Kidsilk Haze color? I'm particularly interested in Trance (#582), Heavenly (#592), Dewberry (#600) or Blushes (#583).

Creative Container

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I would like to be able to say that I was so busy doing creative things that I didn't have time to post. The truth, of course, is that I have been so busy doing un-creative work-related things that I didn't have time to post.

Fortunately, my entirely creative father has provided me with something wonderful to share while I try to find some spare time to click my needles together again.

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What Could This Be?

Very pretty, don't you think? And very functional and handy.

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Glorious Hand-Turned Yarn Tool Holder

This lovely bit of functional woody art resulted from a discussion I had with my Dad when he and my Mom last came for a visit a couple of weeks ago. I was hoping he could make me another hand-turned knitting needle container. Little did I know what coolness would result from the request. It holds a myriad of knitting needles and crochet hooks in an easily accessible way. The biggest holes can actually take on US size 15s! In this picture, it's holding almost my entire straight needle collection (minus some of the jinormous needles I have) and there is still room for a bit more.

And what did I do when I saw this wonderful thing? I immediately asked if he could help me find an easily accessible way to deal with my double pointed needle sets. I have high hopes for another creating and stunningly beautiful solution.

Thanks, Dad!

Spring Ribbing

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Even though it still doesn't feel like spring here in Chicago, I've decided that it is time to get started on my spring knitting. With the way my time has been lately, I know that if I don't get started now, the spring knitting won't happen at all.

Last summer I bought the yarn for this comfy spring/summer sweater with the help of a friendly enabling rabbit. However, I hadn't started it by fall, and since I didn't think it would be a good bet for winter (and I was getting frustrated trying, unsuccessfully, to get gauge), I left the yarn to hibernate and dream of springy fashions in my closet.

After a more or less successful new swatch on 3.75 mm needles, I decided that I would move onto a sleeve and use that as a real test of my gauge.

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So much ribbing, such small (for me) needles...

This yarn is not so nearly bubble-gum pink as it appears in these pictures. In person, it is most definitely pink, but much more in the rose end of the spectrum. To say this project will likely move slowly is something of an understatement. At 39 rows/inch this knitting does not go by quickly. And it is very easy (for me, at least) to lose track and make mistakes in the ribbing (you can see this fairly clearly in the picture). But the texture is nice and the knitted fabric has a nice feel, so I am hoping the long term result will be worth the effort. I'm somewhat unsatisfied with the vertical edges of my ribs, but I'm hoping that will even out following blocking and garment washing, as happened with my Phil'Onde sweater.

I've decided that this sweater and one other will be my primary new wardrobe goals for the spring/early summer. And since this sweater is coming out of my stash, I decided that I could treat myself and order new yarn for the second one. Hopefully the new arrival will land on my doorstep sometime this week!

Metalic Ruffles

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This night's productivity was officially decimated as a result of the presence of Civilization III on my computer. Want to kill a lot of time with nothing to show for it? Civ III is definitely the way to go! It's been on my laptop for quite sometime, but I "remembered" it over the weekend and now it's been soaking up many of my free minutes.

In an effort to combat teeny tiny needle issues brought on by my Phil Eponge top, I decided to start one last scarf: Ruffles from everyone's favorite knitted scarf book. There's nothing new here that hasn't shown up on a 100 other blogs and a knit-a-long based on the same book, but I thought the scarf might look lovely and interesting when made out of Lorna's Laces Lion and Lamb in Pewter. This yarn, given its silk content has a very metallic quality to it. My hope is that the final scarf will also have a bit of a metalic sheen and, thus, a little more urban feel.

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Lorna's Ruffles

I'm not too far along, but I'm enjoying the short-rowing and practicing a little bit of knitting backwards so that I can avoid turning the scarf all over the place.

In completely unrelated news, one of my absolute favorite bloggers, Claudia, has moved her blog home to a new location. If you haven't peeked in on her world before, you're in for a treat! She spins, she knits, she loves orange and she's got a very excellent sense of humor! If you have, be sure and drop by and welcome her into her new space. Happy New Web Home, Claudia!

Knitting Backwards, Continental

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All the turning the work in Ruffles got me thinking that I needed to learn a new technique that would save me a little bit of knitting effort: Knitting Backwards. I figured this would make my life a little easier when dealing with relatively short stretches of short row knitting. Finding information about how to do this sent me into the way back machine of my old VKs in search of an article I remembered. I struck pay dirt in the Winter 2002 edition (the one with the Koigu Chullo on the cover). Here's a little pictoral summary, so that when I need to remember how to do it again in 6 months, I'll have my own personal reference. The nice photographs were kindly taken by my very lovely husband.

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Step 1: Insert the left hand needle through the back of the first loop on the right hand needle.
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Step 2: Wrap the yarn around the needle counter clockwise
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Step 3: Start to pull the loop onto the left hand needle
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Step 4: Complete the transfer of the new loop to the left hand needle
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Step 5: Ready to go on to the next stitch!

Repeat as necessary until all the stitches are on the left hand needle and you can knit forwards again.

This technique doesn't work out to be as fast as if I was purling across since I have to throw the yarn with my left hand. However, when the time it takes to turn the work and re-wrap the yarn around my fingers is taken into consideration, this does turn out to be faster for me. If I was traversing more stitches, it would probably be a wash, but this works quite well for short stretches of knitting.

Now I have to get back to my bad computer gaming habit... I just bought Civilization III: Conquests tonight. Time to see the new civs and to watch the game inflict natural disasters on my creations!

Fair Isle Anyone?

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Everyone should say a little thank you to Emma today. Something I got in the post from her is saving you all from another pink sleeve shot.

Isn't this yummy?

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A Fair Isle Sweater in the Making

Emma has decided to hold me to a long long ago resolution to get comfortable with two color knitting. In that basket is a lovely collection of Jamieson's Shetland Spindrift for this cardigan out of the first Jamieson's book:

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Winter Sunset Cardigan

Quite a lovely design, is it not? And definitely the sort of design I can see going to work in during the winter. The funny thing is, I've looked through this book a thousand times since getting the book and didn't remember this sweater. Some part of my brain just must not have been working correctly, since it's the sort of design that would be perfect for me (and doesn't look to be too difficult for a starting experience).

And just as welcome in this house is the Opal that came along for the ride. These skeins are from the Rodeo collection. I love the bright happy colors Emma picked. I wear my hand knit socks all year round (I've been surprised so far at how well they wear) and love to have that little bit bright color by my ankles.

The lovely blue fuzzy stuff (which, forgive me, Emma, reminds me of Cookie Monster from Sesame Street) is GGH Gracia and is very lovely and soft. It should make a very nice scarf to go with my denim jacket when it starts to get a little warmer.

Thankyouthankyouthankyou, Emma! Definitely another set of perfect selections. Now it's my turn again to see what kinds of lovely goodies I can find to send back across the water!

It must be a special year: my company has Good Friday off. In reality, what this means is that too many major holidays that we would normally get off fall on a Saturday or a Sunday, so we're forced to go with some non-standard days. But I'm not going to complain. After all, as my dad always and so wisely says: No one ever dies wishing they'd spent another day in the office...

Thus, here's a shot of what my morning will be filled with, instead of the usual email...

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Idyllic Morning: A Knitted Sleeve and a Latte

In this case, I'm pleased to say that both the latte and the sleeve are of my own making. I've been getting more adventurous in my attempts to froth milk properly and I think I'm actually closing in on success. In spite of having a very nice machine (the Saeco Magic Deluxe is worth it's weight in gold, from my perspective -- and it's not a lightweight machine) for quitesome time, it's been only recently that I've decided that it's pretty pathetic that I can't make my own lattes.

And I really do need a good latte to enjoy while working on this *&^*!!#$* sleeve. It seems like during this whole project I've spent most of my time tinking or doing this:

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Not So Idyllic Yarn Experience: Fixing Ribbing Mistakes

Apparently the combination of me, this yarn and a ribbing pattern that is not K2 P2 is just too much for my limited brain when I sit down to work on this project.

When I posted last about this project, I provided a link to the sweater on the Phildar site that apparently doesn't work very well (it does work, you just have to click to it twice for some reason, the first time it always wants to go to the English Phildar site where the image is not). Janet (who, by the way, has just completed the lovely Ballet Wrap Top from the most recent IK -- you really should run over and take a look. Don't mind me, I'm on vacation today, I'll wait) asked if I wouldn't mind posting an actual picture. So here one is, liberated directly from Phildar (but not hotlinked, I don't have many good web manners, but I try to avoid doing that).

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Stolen from Phildar: A Picture of the Sweater

And if you are feeling up to clicking twice, I present the actual link again. While you're there, be sure to click on the Modeles Gratuits. Phildar always makes several of their nice patterns available for free, often some of the best ones out of their books, for the cost of just your email address. I'm quite taken with the Veste pattern that is also currently available... but am not sure I am ready to deal with more Eponge quite yet.

It May Not Seem Like Much...

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...but it's a great victory for me.

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One Eponge Sleeve

I made 4 swatches for this sleeve before getting gauge -- one after I had officially started the sleeve. I cast on for this sleeve at least three times for various different reasons, most involving dumb counting mistakes. I repaired numerous mistake stiches via dropping whole columns of stitches and picking everything back up correctly. I ripped out the entire cap of the sleeve after realizing that I was doing the cap shaping completely incorrectly. It would be nice if I could blame this on my inability to properly interpret a French language pattern, but I was using the English translation instructions.

Sigh. I figure that when I sum it all up, I probably came close to knitting this sleeve almost twice.

Hopefully I'll do better on the next one. I keep looking at the picture of the sweater and in spite of my technical difficulties, I still totally want to have this sweater to wear this spring. (Yes, I did say totally... am I a child of the 80's or what?) I figure I am going to tackle the second sleeve next -- then all the second sleeve syndrome will be gone before it even gets started.

Fusilli

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Over the weekend, we spent a lot of time with John's family celebrating the Easter holiday. This meant a lot of time in the car driving to various places and a good deal of time sitting comfortably waiting for the wonderful food to be prepared. It also meant that I had time to knit on my current take along project.

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Metalic Fusilli

This ruffly scarf, which reminds me of metalic Fusilli pasta, even unfinished, got a fair amount of attention while I worked on it. I realized that it's very hard to explain short rows when I don't speak much Polish and the person asking how it's done doesn't speak much English. Anyone out there know of a guide to knitting terms in Polish?

A Journey of A Thousand Stitches

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...begins with just 66 stitches cast on.

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Second Sleeve in the Making

Since I am comfortably entrenched on Sleeve Island -- my tent is pitched, my sun chair and umbrella are solidly staked and I have a pitcher of excellent margaritas with me -- I decided that I would just stay here until I had a second sleeve to show for my isolation. After 3 .5 hours of knitting tonight I have just over 4" of sleeve to show for my efforts. 10 rows/inch (I got a little out of hand when I said it was 39 stitches/inch a while back -- it's actually 39 stitches/4 ") is probably not my favorite gauge and doesn't make for spectacularly interesting pictures. But at least I've avoided all the dreadful mistakes except for a little bit of tinking. The second piece of my Eponge adventure is starting on a much better note.

If I Lead With A Cat Picture...

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...then I must not have too much knitting to talk about. It's always hard for me to get much knitting in on "date night". John and I met on a Wednesday and since then, with only a few exceptions for business trips, we always have a date on Wednesday. Tonight we made our second trip to a great new restaurant north of us on Damen, Hot Chocolate. As the name implies, they emphasize dessert and chocolate beverages. But they also have quite a lovely selection of dinner options and cheeses as well -- I had a pork chop, polenta and mushroom frickasee that was just to die for.

But only managed to get in a few more rows on the Ruffly Fusilli scarf. So I'll open and close with a the funniest thing I saw this evening.

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Beezle in a Basket

It doesn't seem that funny until you realize just how small this basket is. The Beeze has tucked himself into a basket less than 12" long and 6" wide -- a pretty impressive feat for a twelve pound fur ball. This is the same basket that I showed off that lovely Shetland wool in last week. Definitely not a large space! Sometimes it's truly amazing what he will squeeze himself into.

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