Sunday, February 26, 2006

A finished Kiri and two works in progress

Kiri, a birthday gift for my mother-in-law, was finished and blocked yesterday. The pattern is by Polly Outhwaite of All Tangled Up. I used nearly 3 skeins of Madil Kid Seta in color 486. It's somewhere between violet and light blue.

This wasn't a terribly challenging lace knit, although I made mistakes. I think I've finally learned that lace requires a true understanding of the pattern. Once I finally realized what each repeat should be doing on each row, it was much easier. Memorizing the pattern as much as possible helps, too. I didn't use lifelines or stitch markers for this pattern, although I think it could be helpful. I get lazy and don't want to make the effort. My next lace project, to be completed after Lady Eleanor, is this from Folk Shawls, in a random red fingering-weight wool I bought for $1/ball.

I've also worked on Lady Eleanor's Entrelac Shawl from Scarf Style. I'm using Southwest Trading Company's Karaoke, which has long color changes, similar to Noro. The color changes in this particular shade are subtle, going from a deep maroon to a true copper.

I've also been working on the Cabled Throw, from Debbie Bliss's Simple Living. I'm using Cestari yarn from Chester Farms.

I also convinced my husband to model Saranac. (His un-showered state necessitated a sweater-only photo.)

Thank you for all the kind comments on Klaralund! I am feeling better about it, but I think it will need a trip in the dryer to tighten up a bit. The garter stitch lends itself to expansion too easily.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


This was a quick knit, and I sewed it up last night (staying up past my bedtime, of course--witness the ends hanging out). It came out like I expected, but I have my reservations about the finished sweater. I like it, but I don't like it. I'm hoping it grows on me, and I think it will. If it doesn't, I'll just frog it and knit something else.

I apologize for the dark photos. Dustin took one with a flash, and it was just scary. My face glowed. Believe me, it's better this way.

Pattern by Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton, Noro Book 2
Yarn is Noro Silk Garden, Color 208, 10 skeins
I made the 42" size.

It turned out how I expected, but I'm not sure about the fit. It feels a little too flower child for me. I love the colors, and I really don't mind that the stripes don't match. I think this pattern does a good job of highlighting Noro's "handmade" feel (and turning it into a positive, not a negative). Part of it, I believe, is that I really liked this sweater from the beginning, and it isn't as amazing as I'd pictured it in my head.

I'm anxious to hear your thoughts, though! And, please, constructive criticism is always welcome!

In other news, Karen and Tamara came over with their 5 year old sons to try out the wheel on Sunday. The first time at the wheel is always frustrating, but they did a great job and just need some more practice! Hopefully, Karen will post photos of their first skein!

After some problems with the border, Kiri should be finished this weekend. I have some thoughts on that project and lace knitting, as well, that I'll include in that post.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Ah, Berroco.

Berroco's fugliness has been well-documented. (See Exhibit A, Exhibit B). I receive Berroco's KnitBits newsletter in my inbox every Friday, and I open it with some trepidation--what horrific example of knitting will I see today? Yes, today's was definitely terrible (see here), but I want to talk about another phenomenon in their newsletter--fake questions.

You see, in every KnitBits newsletter, there is a question from an aspiring "knitter" (and I use that term loosely) about one of Berroco's "yarns" or "patterns." I suspect these are most often made up by the "editors" to sell said "yarns" and "patterns."

Witness today's post:

Roberta from cyberspace wrote: "I love your new ribbon yarn Yoga. I want to make a dressy top to wear to my niece's wedding in your color #6412 Ashram. I want to wear it over some linen pants that will coordinate. I look best in tunics and I love to wear lots of big jewelry. I want a cover-up with some conservative drama. Vilma looks interesting but the drawstring and bare upper arm is not for me. Can you help me modify this pattern?"

Before we move on to the answer, let's examine the question first. This woman wants to knit a top out of this yarn to wear to a wedding? My misgivings about using ribbon yarn to knit a top aside, this questioner wants to knit a "cover-up with some conservative drama." I don't know what she thinks "conservative drama" means, but metallic gold ribbon doesn't exactly scream conservative to me.

So what about the pattern she wants to alter in order to create this "conservative drama?"

This seems a little more Jeanne Bice than Nancy Reagan, no?

And Berroco's supportive response:

"Roberta, I am so glad that you asked this question. I want all our readers to know that you can feel free to omit details to suit your individual style. Vilma can become a u-neck tunic by simply omitting the sleeve slits and the drawstring at the side. Another option for a dressy tunic that looks great with loads of big jewelry is Megan in Booklet #244 knit in Cotton Twist™. For a western take on Megan you could knit it in Suede™, Suede™ Deluxe or Suede™ Tri-Color. I hope I can encourage you and our readers to feel free to take our patterns to another level.

Be creative . . . be free!"

Margery Winter
Creative Director

Doesn't this seem to be a set-up from the start? You be the judge.

Coming next week--photos of Kiri and afghan in progress, finished photos of Saranac, if my husband will pose.

Monday, February 13, 2006

A Weekend of Little Progress

Have you ever had one of those weekends when nothing you pick up seems to go right? At one point on Saturday, every knitting project I had in progress had something wrong with it. There was Saranac, with the crooked zipper. It's fixable, but not something I wanted to deal with, nonetheless. There was the second Fuzzy Foot; I had zoned out, misread the pattern, and had to rip back the gusset--and somehow lost 2 stitches in the process. Then there was Kiri, suffering from a moment of overconfidence that required me ripping back 6 rows. Yes, I know it's an easy lace pattern, and I finally "get" what I'm supposed to be doing on each row. But sometimes I get ahead of myself and screw up.

Finally, there was the afghan. The self-designed Aran afghan with a required completion date of July 1. I started it and hated it. It wasn't looking right, was a pain to knit, and sucked up yarn like there was no tomorrow. It was time for plan B--Debbie Bliss' Cabled Throw from Simple Living. I'd looked at this and disregarded it as being too small, but it suddenly looked much more attractive on Saturday evening. I went up one needle size, to a US 9, and added a cable repeat, which would make it quite a bit larger. Eleven rows in to the cable pattern, I realized that I wasn't going to have enough yarn, and I needed to knit this with the original number of repeats. That led to another frogging adventure. I wasn't completely upset, however, because Bliss had written one line of the cable pattern in an extremely confusing way. After looking at my trusty Barbara Walker treasury, I realized what she meant. I just wish she could have done it in a more coherent way.

On Saturday night, needless to say, I decided that a hiatus from knitting was in order. So I finished spinning the first bobbin of merino.

On Sunday, things were a bit brighter. I had ripped Kiri back and begun again, finishing two repeats before the day was over. Then I started the cabled throw again, knitting 11 rows of the border before I decided it was time for bed.

Isn't it a good thing I decided not to participate in the Knitting Olympics?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

A Charlie Brown Sweater

Amy, a friend of mine for many years, married a man named Charlie Brown. Unfortunately, it's a family name. They're expecting a baby any day now. At first, they were told it was a girl, and Amy was ecstatic, in part because she wouldn't have to follow the family tradition and have a son named Charlie Brown. Of course, she went in for more tests, and they learned it was a boy. That's when I knew I had to knit this.

I used a pattern from here, though in retrospect I could certainly have made it without a pattern. The trademark zig-zag is duplicate stitch.

Yarn: About 1 and 1/3 skeins Blue Sky Cotton in Poppy and about 1/3 to 1/2 in Black
The colors are about as close as I could get to the original, at least in a washable yarn. They aren't quite right, but I can live with it.

I was been busy this weekend with Kiri and the Fuzzy Feet. Somehow, I managed to overlook the directions on Fuzzy Feet and do twice the amount of gusset decreases. I had to put it aside for awhile after making that mistake.

I was also busy spinning this.

It's merino roving from Handpainted Yarn (the Malabrigo folks). It's quite soft and fairly easy to spin, once I started using Paula Simmons' method. Her method is actually easier with short-staple fiber than with long-staple fiber. I have about 10.5 ounces of this roving, and I plan to do a 3-ply yarn, I believe. I also finished plying some nondescript gray Peruvian wool.

I realized today that I have really overcommitted myself and have too much to knit. Here's the list:

- Kiri for mother-in-law (must be finished next month)
- Klaralund for me (strictly subway knitting now; on a bit of a hiatus)
- Zipper sewn on Saranac for husband
- Fuzzy Feet for me (no time-limit)
- Self-designed Aran afghan for wedding gift (July 1)
- 4 baby gifts, one in April, three in August; most complicated one is around the beginning of July--this
- Lady Eleanor Entrelac stole from Scarf Style for me (on hiatus)
- Two socks for husband, which will complete two pairs

Something will have to give. I think I will be okay if I get a lot finished on Kiri this weekend and cast on for the afghan. The afghan has me worried, though.