Thursday, October 20, 2011

WIP: Flower Basket Shawlette


This project was in and out of my stash, on and off the needles so fast that it barely registered in my knitterly consciousness.  It was a pleasant week of knitting off-and-on, with no nail-biting on the yarn requirements or the pattern or anything.  I mentioned in this post that I would probably do an Evelyn Clark pattern with my skein of Handmaiden Seasilk in the tantalizingly weird colorway Turkish Delight.  I don't particularly like the candy, but I do like orange and pink and mint green, especially together.  Yum.


Also on a color note: whenever I work with my Friday coworker at my LYS, we have conversations that go like this:

Her: That color is pretty bright.  I'm not sure if I like it...
Her: Of course you do.

And then we laugh.

What can I say, I have the color sense of a six-year-old.


Because I am occasionally a creature of my word, I used Evelyn Clark's Flower Basket Shawl as my pattern.  The smallest size called for about 425 yards, and I had 437, so I figured I could make it about the same or even a touch bigger.  Since I've already knit Swallowtail twice, with the same yardage and needle size, and ended up with enough yarn, I figured I could add repeats safely until I hit the same number of stitches before the border.  I did 9 repeats instead of the called-for 8, and ended up with a little bit of extra yarn.  Otherwise I knit the pattern exactly as written.


The finished size before blocking is 14" deep.  My last Swallowtail was about the same, and blocked out to a nice scarf size of about 23" deep.  I like how the colors pooled, and I think it played nicely with the pattern.  It's often hard to predict how a handpainted yarn will work up, but I've been really happy with the way my projects knit with Handmaiden have turned out.

Hopefully early next week I'll have an FO post... stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Hat Challenge WIP #1: Eyelet Cap


First up: # 09 Eyelet Cap by Cathy Carron.  I swatched for this hat a good month ago, and finally cast on last week.  It's cast-on from the top, and at first I was trying to be all tricksy and use a provisional cast-on so I could zip up the first 12 stitches later, but when it proved to be messy and ugly, I ripped out my first attempt and cast on the way the pattern recommended.  And guess what?  It looks fine.  The hat is full of eyelets, so the slightly bigger eyelet in the middle looks right at home.


I've been bad.  This is my walking-around knitting right now, and I've been so preoccupied with just getting it done that I haven't tried it on yet.  I like the color, though, and the yarn is lovely to work with.  It sucks light big-time, I think because it's a brown yarn that's been overdyed dark red.  It's also a little bit thick-and-thin and has a light halo that's more toned-down than mohair and more intense than cashmere.

My one complaint for this project?  The needles I'm using are too damn blunt.  The eyelet rows were freakin' painful.  Sometimes I think about buying a whole mess of 16" Addi Turbo Lace needles just to make hats.  Skacel makes them, but not all stores stock them.  Although I've been using my old Addi Turbos with the regular tips for the hats I've been making lately, some of them have a lot of stitch manipulation that would be loads easier with a lace tip.

I've also been doing some hatstorming (hahah, see what I did there?) about my next Hat Challenge project. Methinks it will involve Tosh Merino Light... hm-hmmm....

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Many WIPs.


Contrary to what my blog-posting schedule might indicate, there's been a lot of knitting going on here.


Life has been pretty busy too.  I got a new computer after dragging my feet on the subject for many months.  My new laptop is an 11-inch MacBook Air, and so far I'm finding it ridiculously portable, speedy, and way, way, way easier to use than my old MacBook.  Hooray.


These pictures are sneak peeks.  More posts to come.  Hope everyone has been well!

Monday, October 10, 2011

FO: Toya Pakeh Scarf


I went on a little bit of a finishing spree last week.  This tends to happen a lot when I have a bunch of projects cast on: they all seem to drag on forever, until finally I hit a week or so when I finish a project every few days, and my blocking board gets a serious workout.  I finally cast off this scarf in the middle of last week, soaked and blocked it in my newly cleaned studio.


This scarf is an exercise in subtlety and comfort.  I learned to knit on a simple basketweave scarf like this when I was 17.  I've found that they're a great present for non-knitters, because they are cozy, look great in a variety of yarns, and wearable.  Because of this, I've knit about a billion of them for other people, but this scarf is the first I've ever knit for myself.


I've always found that when my creative life gets bogged down with complicated patterns, deadlines, and groan-inducing finishing, it's nice to step back and make something simple.  A wooly palate cleanser.

This handspun that I bought in Oberlin had been in deep, deep stash for three or so years, and I'm really happy with how it knit up.  I had three different balls of it, so I was worried that I'd have to alternate every two rows.  Instead, I used the three balls in order of their relative color composition, and it worked out that there's just enough color change to make subtle stripes.  I have no idea where I joined all of them in.


The weather in Seattle has just turned cold, so this scarf is just in time for chilly days.  I have a grey trench coat that I've been wearing, and I've been loving the mint green/dark grey combination lately.  I have a feeling that this scarf will get quite a workout in the next few months.

Pattern: My own
Needles: Size 9 Addi Turbos
Yarn: Handspun from Ginko Gallery, Oberlin, Ohio

Monday, October 3, 2011

FO Post: The Stella Blouse


Finally!  I started this blouse over two months ago, expecting it to go pretty fast.  I had obviously never worked with Kidsilk Haze before, because "oh, a sweater out of laceweight mohair in a month, yeah, totally!" is a rather large and dumb assumption on my part.

IMG_1282 - Version 2

The pattern is called, quite accurately, the Lace Blouse by Erika Knight, out of her book Glamour Knits. It's not shown on a body in the book, which is the only thing I'd love to see changed about the pattern.  I loved the little romantic details in this blouse: the little keyhole at the back neck, the little ruffle down the front, the lacy-but-fluffy effect of the mohair.  It screamed to be knit in pink.

I called it the Stella Blouse after my favorite vintage shop in Issaquah, Washington, which always has a fabulous selection of kicky little sweaters and gorgeous skirts and dresses.  Please note that the skirt I'm wearing in these pictures was purchased at Stella for about $50 and has been worn many, many times.


I knit this version as a shop sample for Cultured Purls, the LYS where I currently work.  I tried to keep my modifications down so that customers who want to make it don't have to wade through a bunch of notes!  I still made a few, but hopefully they are minor enough that one can make his or her own call on whether or not to replicate them.


My little tweaks:

1.  I added one stitch to each edge of the cast-on on the front and back so that the charts had an extra stockinette stitch on each side to help with seaming.  When I hit the armholes, I cast off one more stitch than recommended on each side to get back to the right number, then continued exactly as written.

2.  I knit the body to 14.5" instead of 13.5".  I am large-busted and knit the 36" size to have about 2 inches of negative ease, which pulls the fabric horizontally and reduces the length, so the extra length is to compensate.  I really wanted to go for that whole 50's sweatergirl aesthetic, so I wanted my version to be pretty fitted.

3.  I omitted the knitted-on picots along the neckline and bottom, and replaced them with a crocheted picot.  I can't crochet my way out of a paper bag, so this was super simple: pick up one stitch to start, chain 3, connect to hemline with single crochet once every 3-4 stitches of the hemline horizontally, or every 5 stitches vertically (to your taste), continue around.  This created small, soft picots that are barely noticeable in the finished garment, but give it a bit of polish.

4.  I also omitted the recommended organza ruffle on top of the knitted ruffle.  I couldn't find a color of ribbon or silk that matched or complemented the color to my liking, so I left it off.


Other notes:

I seamed it up with a strand of wooly nylon.  The idea of seaming with Kidsilk Haze gave me hives just thinking about it, and wooly nylon was easy to match colors, had a bit of stretch to prevent constricting seams, and was a breeze to take out if I wanted to make adjustments.

A word to any prospective mohair-lace-knitters out there: always tink one stitch at a time, never take it off the needles and frog this stuff.  It snarls and breaks the moment you look at it sideways.  It takes a little longer, but the headaches it prevents will be totally worth it.  (Ask me how I know.  Hahahah.)

Annnnd lastly, when you're knitting the cute little ruffle down the front, be sure to mark the right side of your work.  The short-rows can get you a little turned around, especially if you look up for a minute, but marking with a split-ring marker or somesuch helps keep you oriented.

Overall, this was a fun little project that kept my attention fairly well.  I was a little worried there for a minute about the wearability of it, but throwing a camisole or slip under it and cinching with a belt does wonders!

Pattern: Lace Top by Erika Knight, from the book Glamour Knits
Needles: Size 2.5 (3.0 mm) US for cast-on, size 3 (3.25 mm) US Addi Turbo Lace 24" circulars for body and sleeves, size 2.5 bamboo DPN's for ruffle
Yarn:  Rowan Kidsilk Haze, color Blushes (583)
Yardage: 3.5 balls, or about 800 yards