Monday, December 31, 2007

Best of 2007

Happy New Year!! I'm happily ensconced in front of my TV, watching the Rose Parade and generally feeling great about the year just past and the year yet to unfold. Following in knitlit's lead, here are the highlights of 2007 for me.

1. your best FO of the year
This is a hard one! Each project has so much of me in it that they are all my favorites. I have different favs for different reasons- Tangled Yoke for it's classic and classy look, the Baby Surprise for the fascinating construction, the Herringbone Tank for my shot at design, U-Neck Vest for amazing fit and comfort. But the best of '07 goes to Ene's Scarf!

In a year of never ending firsts, this is my first lace, my first handpainted yarn and my first shawl. It never fails to impress the pants off of knitters and non-knitters alike.

2. best FO of the year made by a blog you link to
That has to be oneof the many eyepopping projects from brooklyntweed! I think the winner for me is the Adult Totem Jacket , although, did you see his latest post? Big Blue is pretty amazing...

3. best yarn you tried
Oh, Malabrigo. Yum. so soft, so beautiful, so decadent!

4. best new book/mag/pattern of 2007
Fitted Knits by Stephanie Japel! I knit 5 projects from that book already.

5. best new knitting technique or gadget you tried in 2007
Cabling without a cable needle is revolutionary. I felt like I was pulling a magic trick every time I did it. Knitting backward (useful for entrelac) was a close second, though.

6. top 5 inspirations--what five things inspired you the most over the past year?

  1. Ravelry. The sheer elegance of this site is breathtaking. I am inspired by the dream of Jess and Casey and I am inspired by the community that has sprung up around them. This is taking Web 2.0 and putting it to it's best use. I feel like Ravelry is nothing short of a window to a new world order...
  2. brooklyntweed - Jared inspires me with his knitting, design, handspun and photography. I "get" that we are involved in a pursuit of art and craft when I see his creations.
  3. The Knitting BlogosphereWOW. You bloggers out there are an amazing group of people. You write so eloquently, you photograph so inspirationally, you create, you design, you teach but most of all you share. You share yourselves and you share your love of the craft. You are all my inspiration.
  4. New techniques. Since I am a relatively new knitter, everything is new to me. Each project inspires me with a new method of construction (BSJ?! Yoke sweater construction?!) a new cable or stitch, a new object (mittens). Every new experience makes me believe that someday I will designs items of my own!
  5. My blog. It is a way to hold myself accountable to finishing projects, a reason to raise my photography skills and a validation from people who know (other knitters) that my obsession is normal. At least to them. And, because I want to contribute to this community, I have aspirations of adding designs, tutorials and great links. This means I have to constantly improve my skill set to get there!
7. designer who most amazed & inspired you throughout the year
That would also have to be brooklyntweed.

8. knitting resolutions for 2008--what's next for you and your blog?
I want to design a top for myself from scratch. I want to knit a bag and another lace scarf. Maybe I might like to experiment with yarn dying. I really want to do a fair isle project with steeking, but I don't now if I am committed to that this year. We'll see. As for my blog - I keep threatening to move it to wordpress and create it's own domain. This would mean that I am committed to blogging - and making something of it. Am I that committed?

There you go. 2007 in a nutshell. For those who surf on by once in a while or more, thank you. The validation that I get from your comments means the world to me. Non-knitters can say lovely things about my work, but you guys truly appreciate what I am doing. Thank you for your comments and compliments and I look forward to much more of the same in 2008!

Casting On for the New Year

We couldn't start the new year without a project on the needles, now could we?

Right after the last gift was wrapped I cast on for the long anticipated Oblique by Veronik. This is the lovely Superwash Cascade 220 that was waiting to be something else. I love this yarn. It is the perfect neutral taupe-ish brown that will go with everything. And, baby, if this sucker takes as long as I think it will, I want to wear the living daylights out of it.

Here is my progress after 5 days of vacation knitting. VACATION knitting folks. What progress shall be made after I return to my normal working life? However, she is lovely, no? I don't have a name for her yet. Super- slouchy- going -to -live- in -this- "jin-jin" (chinese for baby blankee) -ultimate- comfort -sweater is just too difficult for a name. Did Linus have a name for his blanket? Maybe I will name her Linus.

Meanwhile, I had to cast on for something with more instant gratification! Here we are with iwriteplay's Leavened Raglan from Interweave Knits Fall '07. Her version was so lovely and the yarn was such a good deal (Lamb's Pride Bulky in Silver silver from the DBNY). It's so funny how a project will look dreadful in one color and fantastic in another.

Ok, here's a shot of the progress so far. We had to go all the way up to a 17 needle to get gauge. I'm pretty concerned that my swatch is a lying piece of &*(%*, since I never have to go up 2 sizes on a given project, but so far, so good. At least, until you look closely...

Can you see it? A mistake!!! (**GASP**) Yep, I had already frogged 7 rows to get rid of another mistake when I realized, **doh** if you decrease in a lace pattern, you have to adjust the next row or the whole dogged thing will be off. As I progress in my knitterly skills, I am also getting better at letting go of perfection. If it was perfect, it might as well be $19.95 at Old Navy - right?

Well, the back is identical to the front, so you can bet this guy is now designated the back. By the time I finish we might have some reasonable January weather again.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Mittens - Beyond Theory

Here in So Cal, mittens are little more than theory. In theory, you place woolen coverings on your hands and they will not freeze off your arms, leaving you with ugly stumps and no ability to play the piano. That's the theory.

The reason we never test this out is that our idea of a really cold day is standing in the freezer section of a grocery store in winter (anyone know why it is colder there in the winter? I seriously think they lower the temp in the stores when it is cold outside!) In LA you can pretty much take care of cold hands by pulling your sleeves over your fingertips.

But I am going to Modesto for Christmas. Time to get practical, baby! It gets down to 40 (F) at night in that town. (Don't laugh, Adriana. Our suffering is all relative) So - in the interest of knitting things I've never knit, I tackle mittens. I decide, based on a comment on Cyn's blog, to combine Plaid Mittens and Peek A Boo Mittens on Magknits. This would have gone so much smoother if I had any experience with mittens - but, as I said, mittens are purely theoretical for me. I had no way of knowing, as I knit them, if my mods were working or not. I used the double circ method and I didn't have 2 10.5 needles, so I made do with a pair of 10's after knitting almost a whole mitten with 11's. I think I knit enough stitches for 3 or 4 pair! Too long, too short, too wide and how the heck do you pick up 2 stitches for the thumb??!! If I made another pair (and I might) I would make them a smidge longer and I would make the slot narrower.

This is how I felt when a 3 hour project turns into a 2 day project:

But, in the end I did prevail! I vastly preferred the shape of the Plaid mitten deceases and I had the Paton's Shetland Chunky in stash. The functionality of the Peekaboo, however, was too much to resist.
How about that, eh? An honest to God, real life mitten. Hot diggity! (and there's another one too!)

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and that is the big shindig for my side here in LA. I'll be cooking for my 5 brothers and their broods - 26 peeps in all. This sounds like a lot, but I cooked for the family growing up and this is how we always roll. No biggie and everyone pitches in. Christmas Day I'm off to Modesto - 5 hours up the 5 freeway and we do it all again, but smaller. And with warm hands.

Be safe, be healthy and be joyous in what ever you do this holiday season. May all your hand knit gifts be greeted with paroxysms of joy and may your loved ones contribute to your stash with well chosen luxury yarn.

See you in 2008!!

What I'm Gonna Wear for Christmas

I am so happy to finish this in time for Christmas! It is my best fitting project so far. See how happy I am? Happy happy happy. I'm happy that I don't look like a fattened Christmas Goose in this picture. THAT, my friends, is something to be happy about.

Here's the deets. *edit* Forgot to tell you the pattern! **doh** This is the Back to school u-neck vest from Stephanie Japel's Fitted Knits. I love this book and I've knit 6 projects from it. Yarn is Malabrigo worsted in Velvet Grapes. I used most of 3 skeins on size 7 Addi turbos. I cast on 11/19, but got way side tracked but gift knitting. I guesstimate maybe 1.5 week project? I knit for 37" bust and I am a 40" bust. Love that negative ease.

See the tangerine tree in the background? Yeah, I live in So Cal. I'm guessing that a vest is the maximum amount of coverage I can stand from Malabrigo. That is some warm and yummy stuff! I had planned to make the Textured Tunic from Fitted knits in an insanely beautiful yellow/orange color way of Malabrigo, but I think this vest might dissuade me from that plan. I'd hate to knit something I can only wear twice a year.

I made some mistakes along the way, but the Malabrigo did a great job of covering them up. I love that I am getting knowledgeable enough to know what is a fatal mistake that must be ripped from a mistake that can either be fixed, fudged or ignored. On this project I did much of all three! The awesome thing is that even I can't tell where these things happened.

Doesn't the garment look funny all by itself? It looks like a purple sausage casing just waiting to be stuffed. Oiy! And I was just beginning to feel skinny!!!

The String Blocking Thang...

This is my third Wisp. Third. One. I seem to do that at Christmas. Last holiday, my first as a knitter, I did three bears and three Swell hats. This year it's three lace scarves.

This lovely green one is destined for my other SIL (on that side). Since I have nothing more to say about this easy pattern, I thought I would talk about the blocking method that I used.

Some time back the Harlot blogged about using string to block lace, rather than blocking wires or massive numbers of pins. This technique is especially useful for an all straight sided project like Wisp!

Here she is with the strings all in place, waiting for her bath:
Post bath, Wisp is on the blocking board. I tied a knot in the string to get better traction for the foundation pins at the corners. Pull the strings as tight as you dare and only a few pins are needed along the edge. Voila!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

It's not Koolhaas - It's Kool-Hawt!

Let's catch up on th Christmas FO's, shall we? I call this hat Kool - Hawt, because my DH looks so hawt wearing it! (for a definition of hawt, read Trent over at Pink is the New Blog - hi-larious guy). This hat was actually made for my cousin, who is an internationally known glass artist. He is married to an internationally known quilter. The bar is set pretty darn high, to say the least. Lucky for me, they are the nicest people in the world and I know he will appreciate the fact that it is hand made and not store bought.
Shhhh. don't tell DH, but he looked so cute modeling this hat, I made him one, too. The Koolhaas is some of the best fun I've had knitting since... well, since the Ene's Scarf! I used Cascade Superwash and the recommended needles. Row gauge was waaaay off, so the hat is taller than it should be. No worries - just flip up the edge, et, voila!

Next up is a So Called Scarf. This is my first entry into the insanity of the skilled knitter. It goes like this - Friday I find out the we are having a going away party for a beloved manager the following Tuesday. Friday night I think, "a hand knitted gift is the perfect way to express gratitude! Sure, I can knit a whole freakin' scarf in 3 days, no problem!!!" I had 2 skeins of SWS in Natural Earth on hand and My So Called Scarf in the Ravelry queue. From cast on to bind off - 48 hrs. Woo-Hoo!

DH thought the colorway might not be manly enough - but he is gamely modeling it. I think it is quite manly, don't you?

Now, all the effort and time put into these gifts deserves an appropriately dramatic presentation. I want the recipient to feel the thrill of anticipation that this gift might be special. This is red tissue paper wrapped in a kraft paper sleeve with raffia tie. Festive, isn't it?

We are 27 rows away from finished with Christmas knitting! Will I return to purely narcissistic knitting and finish my U-Neck School vest? Or, will I add last minute gifts to the list of holiday activities? Stay tuned...

Monday, December 10, 2007

Which Wife are You?

Ha Ha! I found this on Jollyewe's blog. Funny and accurate! I am Anna, Henry's 4th wife. Who are you?

Which of Henry VIII's wives are you?
this quiz was made by Lori Fury

Holy Sheep, Batman!

Holy Sheep, batman! Has it really been three weeks since my last post? Pardon moi, mes enfants! No wonder the stuff has been piling up!

First and most important - I won this amazing sock yarn from the wonderful Melanie of Lotus Yarns in her comment contest. This is Aura in the color Walking with a Ghost. It is a lovely grey and pearl grey with fine silver threads woven throughout. I am so excited and can't wait to cast on. Socks are still an "event" for me, so this is pretty damn special. Thank you Melanie!

I am consumed with gift knitting like everyone else. I've accomplished quite a lot these past weeks, so I will break this post up into bite sized pieces for easy digestion.

First up is my second Wisp. This is for a dear friend and my very first non-family knitting - heck, I'm barely out of the narcissistic phase! I got this mohair from a Suss clearance sale and I'm not sure who made it. It was really nice to work with, though. Isn't the color dreamy? I'm pretty proud of it.

I also **finally** felted my MIL's slippers. The pattern is from Tracy and Mel's Knit2Together. This is a pretty easy pattern, but I sure hate picking up stitches. I made a pair last fall and I thought my inexperience was the problem. Maybe so, but it is a bitch to get the **right** number of stitches evenly. Oh, but aren't they lovely? I call them Cabernet Clouds because they are so soft.

That's it for tonight! More to come later.