Recently in Projects Started 2010 Category

Mondo Cable Shell

Pattern: ChicKnits Mondo Cable Shell/Vest
Yarn: Goddess Yarns Phoebe -- 100% Alpaca
Needles: US Size 8 Inox/US Size 7 AddiTurbos
Size: 36"

Just in time for spring, I finished my Mondo Cable Shell.  Pretty sharp, eh?  It took me a lot longer to make my way through this pattern than it should have, mostly because I kept thinking that the Phoebe, which has no elasticity and seemed to work itself towards uneven stitches no matter what I tried, was really going to make it look like a hot mess.  And then, of course, I blocked it, the alpaca became one with the warm water and everything evened out, leaving a lovely garment behind. 

20110411_MondoCableShellSid.jpgBonne Marie's construction of this garment is an interesting (and I mean that in a good way) examination of top down construction.  I particularly liked how she started the cable process at the V neck.  Even with the clever construction, this is still a nice project for a new-to-cables knitter, or for something to work on while you relax in front of the TV with a cup of tea.  Not too hard, but enough details to keep you interested. 

Even though I like the vest (and can see making another out of a nice cotton yarn for the summer), the jury is still out for me on the yarn.  It is wonderful, warm and squishy and feels very rich. The color is delish. That said, aran weight alpaca is heavy and I worry that over time this garment will lose its shape.  I guess I'll just have to get some wear out of it and see.

Another Cowl

In the spirit of knitting out of my stash, I've been looking for projects that can be completed with relatively small amounts of yarn.  You see, I'm one of those knitters who seems to acquire a lot of trophy yarn.  Exotic yarn from other places, bright colored, novel fibers... things that it just doesn't make sense to get a lot of, but which I just can't leave behind when I find it.  Over the years I've gotten a little more judicious in my acquisitions, but I still have plenty of wonderful skeins that I'd like to be able to enjoy as a garment rather than just see in my yarn cupboard.

Cowls are wonderful projects when you have modest amounts of yarn.  I've been trolling Ravelry looking for patterns that appeal to me.  I also happily appropriate good ideas when I find them on friends' blogs.  In this case, I credit Julie with the inspiration, since her version looked cozy and it was clearly a fast knit.

20110202_AlmostBurberryCowl.jpgThe pattern is the Burberry Inspired Cowl Neck Scarf and the yarn is Colinette Prism in Jamboree.  I think this knit up in about a day.  What took me a while to get around to was the whole soaking and blocking part -- which it definitely needed given how stiff this wool-wrapped-with a cotton binder was after I knit it up.  It softened up considerably after a warm bath. 

Since we were spending a day at home watching the snow come down, I finally had some daylight time to get some pictures taken. 

20110202_AlmostCowlWorn.jpg This cowl is a contrast to the Super Cupcake in that it's a much closer fit. Good for keeping the neck warm.  In a pinch you might be able to use it in a hat-like fashion to keep your ears warm, but it's not as expansive as the Cupcake.  I likely won't be able to wear it without a turtleneck.  Even after a bath, the wool core of this yarn is not the softest stuff.  The color is great, though and it's definitely warm.  Perfect for when I need to wait for the bus in the cold.

Fun, easy pattern, good use of stash yarn, bright color in grey winter.  I call it a success!

Super Cupcake Cowl

Pattern: ChicKnits Super Cupcake Cowl
Yarn: The Fiber Company, Terra

I've been wandering through my favorite retail stores looking for winter gear and come across so many cowls.  Even though I've been sorely tempted, the knitter in me refuses to let my material girl just pull one off the rack and take it home, especially since the ones that I have liked best have been simple ribbed rings and I have no end of yarn that would be perfect companions for a cowl scarf.

After a bit of looking, I decided it was hard to go wrong with Bonne Marie's Super Cupcake pattern. I liked that the brioche stitch created a ribbed look but was a bit more interesting and a bit more slouchy than simple K1P1 ribbing.  I combined her pattern with the left over Terra yarn that I had from John's Aspinwall sweater (sadly, still waiting for me to find some maroon thread to sew the zipper in with) to create my first cowl of the season.  It's super simple to knit and super soft and super slouchy and I couldn't be happier with the result. 

20101219_SuperCupcakeCowlUp.jpgI decided to skip the gauge swatch for this project, which probably was a no no, because I believe the cowl is supposed to be a bit more fitted.  However, I like that in cold weather this cowl can be pulled up over my head to keep my ears warm.  Terra is a silk/wool blend, making it soft and warm and not too heavy (I love silk for winter garments -- it's an excellent insulator that doesn't have the weight of wool).  And there's nothing like stash diving and using oddments of yarn to create something  fun and unique to ward off the winter chill.

This was such a quick knit that I'm considering another cowl project.  There's plenty of winter ahead and a Chicago girl can never have too many winter neck warmers!

Big Purple Warp

My big purple warp is finally becoming a big purple blanket.  

Wait a minute, you say.  What big purple warp?

Well, after finishing up my color gamp blanket, I thought, Wouldn't it be nice if I could make another blanket of adult size using the same things I already had set up?    And after that, I thought, If I am going to go to all the trouble to re-warp that big ol' loom, why not actually set it up to make two blankets?  After all, once the AVL is warped, the weaving goes fast fast fast.

For these blankets, I wanted a single color warp and single color weft to make the set up and weaving as fast as possible.  I spent a lot of time looking at my color gamp blanket to determine if there was a color combination that I liked together.  Sadly, perhaps to some, my favorite squares were actually the solid color ones.  But I hated the idea of just doing a completely solid color set of blankets -- I wanted the depth and visual interest that comes from having at least subtle differences in the warp and weft.

Then I started discussing the project with my weaving teacher, Nathalie Boyett*,  and she suggested that I consider a variegated yarn and pointed me to Dragon Tale Yarns at Earth Guild.  I chose the 4/2 cotton in "Purple Haze" because a) I liked the color and b) the variegations involved mostly hue changes in the same color tone range instead of hue changes.  The color gamp was 3/2 cotton, so I had to adjust my original project to work with a finer yarn, so the project went from 12 epi to 14 epi -- which I also hoped would make the lace repeat a bit tighter and more interesting.

I planned for two blankets, each 40" wide and about 72" long, which I thought would be sufficient for two adult-sized afghans.  This project has the "honor" of being the first project that I planned out using solely my iPad.  Currently, the plan is to gift them to people who have provided of their time in an uncompensated manner to make sure that my daughter has been well cared for while I've been at work.  

It took an almost interminable time for me to get the loom warped.  Most of this had to do with the fact that my work schedule changed.  When I took my new job, I also gave up my 4 day work week and the Thursday I had off with Ms. Z -- I also scheduled my weaving class on that evening.  With so much going on at work, I just found it hard to get over to the studio on Thursday nights.  But with our vacation coming and incredible guilt on my part for tying up a loom I wasn't using regularly, I have girded my resolve and got to class on both Thursday evening and Saturday morning this week.  The result was getting the warp completely tied on as well as some actual weaving.  In the picture above, I've probably got almost a yard of weaving completed -- after about 5 hours of weaving.  Now that I have a rhythm down, I'm optimistic that with 2 to 4 more sessions I'll be well on my way to having this project completed.  

It probably won't surprise anyone, but these two projects have really convinced me that if I ever invest in a floor loom, it will probably be a dobby loom.  The geek girl in me loves the "computational" feel of pegging up the pattern and the "product" driven fiber artist in me loves the speed with which projects come together once the warp is in place.  The loom I'm working on is somewhat cantankerous (mostly because it is an older loom) , but I'm even enjoying the problem solving that comes with working out the mechanical bugs.  Fiber girl and geek girl are equally engaged in this one.

And if my husband reads this... no, I'm not really thinking about buying a floor loom.

No, really I'm not.

I'm totally not googling for used AVL looms in Chicago.


Well, at least not until we win the lottery. 

* I feel I need to give Natalie and her Chicago Weaving School a big shout out.  She's been more than patient with me on this project, and has tirelessly worked to make sure the AVL loom behaves itself for me.  She's also boundlessly enthusiastic and encouraging. If you're in Chicago and want to weave, no matter what your level, especially if you're not ready to take the plunge and buy your own loom (or don't have space for a floor loom) she's worth talking too.

High Line

Julie and I did something that we haven't done in what seems like forever: we searched out a yarn store and met for some shopping and chatting.  At one point in time, it seemed like our mission was to visit every possible store in the Chicago metro area.  There was always something new to see. After a while, though, that changed.  There's really only so much yarn being made, and it becomes harder and harder for any individual store to raise the novelty factor. I think it's been several years since we actively trolled a yarn store together, but last weekend we wanted to get together, and the best option looked like a yarn store. Julie found Knitch in Downer's Grove -- notable for the presence of an espresso machine.  It turned out to be a lovely store.  And while we didn't get coffee (which, if you know us, is the most surprising part of the day), I did bring home a new project and the new Rowan (which is fabulous!).

The project is this:

The High Line cardigan from Takhi's newly published Urban Organics book (there are actually several nice pieces in this book, making the purchase price a little more reasonable).  And the yarn is this:

Takhi's Good Earth Cotton, a cotton tape yarn with a lovely hand, in a peachy neutral called "adobe".  The sweater is worked on US 10.5 needles in a K1, P1 rib, making for simple knitting.  I swatched by knitting up the front left portion of the sweater and my gauge appears pretty much on target.  To be honest, I always have a hard time really estimating gauge on a ribbed fabric, and while it looks about right, what really convinced me was that the texture and density of the fabric seemed "right" for the yarn.

The feel of the fabric is soft and sproingy and I was pleasantly surprised to find that knitting this yarn is very easy.  The tape format gives it a little more elasticity than you normally expect from cotton and I like the ribbony texture that is visible in the fabric.  The left front knit up in no time at all (in fact, I've already cast on for the right front).  The one bit that makes me particularly happy is this:

A tubular cast on.  While it's more effort than a long tail, the look it creates for a K1 P1 fabric is so polished looking that it makes it seem negligible.  It's probably my favorite cast on in terms of the beautiful finished look it creates.  

I've chosen to make the medium size sweater -- its only a 36" bust, but for this sweater, 40" would be way to much easy on me, and since it only buttons at the neck, instead of all the way down, it should be good.  I'm hoping that I can get it knit in time to enjoy it as an end of summer piece -- I think it would be just perfect for when it's a bit too cool for a sleeveless top, but I'm not quite ready to pull out the fall garments yet.

Summer Scarf

While I work on the blocking and buying of buttons for Nicole, I've gotten started on another little project: a summer lace scarf made out of this:

20100607_NoroLaceWeight.jpgI found Noro Sekku at Knit Around in Ann Arbor on a recent visit to my parents' house.  I loved the colorway (quelle surprise, eh?), but really gave it a chance because of the fiber composition: 50% cotton, 17% wool, 17% nylon & 16% silk.  Lightweight and not too wooly, and a touch of nylon to make it durable.  I'm pretty sure it's colorway "04" but the ball band has gone missing at the moment (I was unable to remove the inner cardboard plug, so started knitting it from the outside in).

Because I wanted to emphasize the striping, I looked for a pattern that would make the fabric undulate a bit.  I've always loved "Tilting Blocks" out of Barbara Walker's A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns , and this seemed like the perfect time to test it out.

20100607_TiltingBloxScarf.jpgThis pattern can be worked with stockinette or garter stitch blocks separating the open blocks.  I set up three repeats of the pattern with a selvedge stockinette stitch on either edge, using 2.75 mm needles.  Then I chose to alternate garter and stockinette blocks, doing three rows of each and then switching back to add more texture.  I think the gauge is good for this project -- nice and soft and drapey, but the solid blocks are not too see-through.  With 460 yards in this skein, I'm hoping that I make it to at least 4' of scarf.   I thought about making it narrower, but liked the balance of the odd number of repeats best.

While this project isn't truly mindless, the pattern is much easier to memorize than you might think.  I'm enjoying it so much, I've been thinking about a summer sweater out of similar weight solid color yarn.  Hmmm....

Fiber Optic Photo Essay, Day 1

First spinning of the spring.  My wheel is now feeling useful again.

Fiber Optic Yarns, Foot Notes Unspun Pencil Roving
80% Superwash Merino, 20% Nylon
Colorway: Honeysuckle Rose

Amount spun: 2 of 4 ounces
Goal: 2 Ply Fingering Weight

Knitting for Work

In the last three weeks, my work life has changed rather significantly.  Different hours, different colleagues, different dress code.  For the time being, my crafty time is more constrained than it has been for quite some time, so I find myself really thinking hard about what I want to do with it.  

I do like to knit for wardrobe, but my current work lifestyle is not one that accomodates big slouchy sweaters or garments that are too "out there".  I find myself mostly in dress slacks, dress shirts and layering pieces like jackets and vests.  There's room for sweaters, but the types I think work best are those in very fine gauges and simple patterns with fitted shaping.  There seems to be two places that look to work best when it comes for knitwear:

1) Layering pieces like vests that help give dress shirts a bit more interest and help add a little bit more structure or make blouses that are a little bit sheer a bit more work appropriate.
2) Accent scarves that can be used to bring in a little color and provide a little hint of personal creativity without screaming "Yo! Look at me!  I like to knit"*

Thrown into this mix, I have to consider another factor, one that's been vexing me for almost a year now: I think I'm sensitive, and not in a good way, to wool.  I'm still experimenting with this, but it does seem that when I knit with wool, the eczema on my hands is more likely to flare up.  When I wear wool sweaters, my back seems to get worse.  When I wear wool socks, it seems like my legs and feet get more irriated and itchy.  I'm currently experimenting with eliminating wool from my wardrobe diet,  While it doesn't eliminate my problems, it certainly seems to reduce them.  So not only am I changing the types of garments that I am likely to knit, I'm also going to be changing up their fiber composition.  Fortunately, this is a good time to be looking at wool alternatives.  There are many fabulous cotton, silk, bamboo, linen yarns as well as many blends that really look delightful.

So I've been looking for patterns that meet my new wardrobe needs, are knit at finer gauge, and look good knit out of non-wooly yarn.  THe first place I decided to start looking was at ChicKnits, since I know Bonne Marie has been actively interested in developing patterns that "go to work".  With summer and lighter weight dress around the corner, I decided to start with Nicole -- a little vest that has a lot of visual and knitting interest, can layer well, and also can be knit in DK weight cotton.  

In the spirit of both work appropriate and compatible with a wide variety of under pinnings, I chose Rowan's Purelife Organic DK Cotton in a taupe-y shade (whose name escapes me at the moment).  The yarn is dyed with natural color dyes and  has subtle variations that add depth without being too pronounced about it.  I swatched it up on the suggetested size needles (Addi Turbo 3.75 mm "lace" style) -- I always take it as a good sign for a project when I get gauge on the first try.

I'm actually going up to a slightly larger size than I would normally knit for myself to accomodate both an "under layer" as well as a bra with more solid structure (which seems to have become one of the most necessary parts of my wardobe post-child)... and also because a number of Nicoles on Ravelry look a little too close fitting for a somewhat conservative work environment.  So far, as I knit on the project, the size has the right "feel" -- hopefully that will continue to be the way it is as I go on.

*Not that there is *anything* at all wrong as being identified as a knitter.... it's just that in a professional setting, I'd like to be remembered for my business acumen or personal enthusiasm for a particular project instead of just as "that woman wearing the wild scarf".  

Skew Socks Start

One Zauberball, one long circular needle and a toe up sock pattern with interesting construction (don't even ask me to knit socks from the top down... I just won't do it any more).

I'm using the Skew pattern from the most recent Knitty.  The yarn was selected because I wanted some wide swaths of color on an angle.  Now that I've gotten started, I think some of my Vesper yarn might have been an even better choice -- but since I didn't know what to expect from the fit of this pattern, I wasn't willing to invest any of my lovely Vesper in the first experiment. 

It's been a long time since I've knit socks using the Magic Loop method on one needle.  I think I might have to consider it again -- but not until I find a needle with a softer cable.  This AddiTurbo is from the "inflexible cable" era  and is making me just a little crazy.  I had forgotten how nice Magic Looping was for being able to try on a sock as you go.  Just shift those stitches onto the cable and it's much easier than on double points.

Gift Socks

Pattern: Basic Toe Up Socks a la Me
Yarn: Trekking XXL, Colorway 110
Needles: 2.25 mm DP

A basic pair of socks.  Even though my basic sock pattern is the same every time, doesn't involve complicated construction or stitchwork, doesn't involve anything fancy at all, completing, it doesn't make the act of completing a project feel any less satisfying.  In fact, I love that I can knit my basic pattern almost on autopilot with only the occasional need to grab a tape measure. 

I am a bit of a selfish sock knitter.  Most of the socks I knit are for me.  These socks are not only not for me, they're also not for a family member.  I just got the sudden urge to knit these guys for someone I know and value who has never really had the benefit of a pair of wool socks before, let alone hand knit wool socks (never fear, she is the kind of person who values hand work).  They were mostly knit while watching John play Mass Effect or just watching TV (they got a little work in DC, too).  I didn't really have a time line for them.  I just knit on them when I felt like it.  And with all the other things I was working on, I felt like knitting something simple a lot.

On Thursday they will head off to their new home, with hopefully just enough chill left to the spring that their owner to be will get a chance to enjoy them.

The Next Project

You knew if I took that quilt top off to be quilted that I'd come back with another project, right?

I don't suppose anyone is surprised that it involves more batiks, either.

Fingerless Farinelli

This project knit up so quickly I didn't even have time to post a progress shot.

20100228_FarinelliFingerles.jpgThese are the fingerless version of the Farinelli gloves by Ysolda Teague, published in the Twist Collective.  I loved them when I saw them, but wasn't sure I'd get much use out of over the elbow opera gloves.  Ysolda then published the modifications for a shortened, fingerless version on her blog -- and that was all the remaining convincing that I needed to purchase the pattern. 

I have been wanting a pair of fingerless gauntlets for a long time.  Sitting in my home office in the winter can get quite chilly, and my mouse hand, in particular, starts to ice up.  I bought the Dream in Color "Smooshy" in the color you see above (I just can't remember the name, and the ball band is long gone) for the specific purpose of knitting myself some fingerless goodness, and, then, true to my usual pattern, took two years getting around to finding the right design and getting them knit up.  I wash about to design something myself when I found Ysolda's pattern and realized that it had all the elements that I wanted.

20100228_FarinelliModeled.jpgAs with other patterns of Ysolda's that I've worked, I was impressed with the easy to follow instructions.  I love that the pattern is mirrored on each glove.  Besides the modifications she suggested for shortening them and making them fingerless, I made only a few small changes to suit my own needs.  I chose a 2.5 mm needle instead of a 2.75 mm needle (I have pretty narrow forearms and wrists and didn't want the gauntlets to be too loose) and added a couple extra rounds around the knuckles.  They were a little stiff pre-blocking, but after a soak, they softened up and have a very lovely drape without being too loose.  Smooshy seems to come with pretty generous yardage, because I used right around half a skein for this pair of gauntlets.

These gloves are a little present to myself.  They celebrate an earlier in the month birthday as well as a career transition not to mention finding my crafty mojo again.  And they are pretty much the first knitted hand gear that I have ever made for myself.  They came together so fast that I might have to treat myself to another pair, though perhaps the second pair will have a flip top -- one of the things that any northern climate iPhone user needs in the winter is a nice pair of gloves that supports the occasional exposed fingertip!

Walnut Socks

A post on a Wednesday.  Amazing, eh? 

With the start of John's foray into Mass Effect 2, I've decided to start another pair of socks for him.  These are in garter rib (which is a delightfully easy pattern to knit with given the satisfying results it provides) using the cashmere blend Sophie's Toes that I purchased a little while back.  The colorway is "Walnut".  I have never liked knitting with brown yarn so much!  Isn't the variation beautiful?  And I'm having a hard time seeing much in the way of noticeable pooling.    While I have a nice little cache of Emily's yarn in my stash, this is the first project I've started on with it.  This cashmere blend also contains nylon in addition to the merino content -- soft and tough.  Perfect stuff for the husband man, and pretty nice for the knitter as well!

(A few minor details for posterity... socks are knit on US size 1 needles and are 64 stitches around).


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