Friday, August 24, 2007

As Summer Wanes

I'm trying to avoid casting anything new on until I get a few more FOs under my belt. To that end I've been dragging around the sleeves for my Lucy in the Sky cardigan. The sleeves seem to be taking as long as the body took, but once I get them all joined, I should be done in a flash. Of course, now that I've said that . . . .

I'm making this sweater out of Cascade 220, that wonderful old workhouse of a yarn, but I'm not really liking how the sleeves are coming on by knitting them on 2 circs. I keep telling myself they will block out just fine.

I've also been knitting on a pair of Charade socks:

I like this pattern, it makes the Fleece Artist Sea Wool just pop and sparkle. The yarn has a great sheen to it, and this pattern on accentuates that.

And on a whim, I decided to swatch a bit of this:

I've had this bag of Rowan Kid Classic on the shelf for ages, and with Fall approaching I was thinking about doing a regular sweater, but who I am kidding, I want a cardigan out of it. Perfect for some it's-September-and-I'm-ready-for-Fall knitting. Besides, I always can use another cardigan. I think I could live in cardigans.

What are you dreaming about knitting this Fall?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

My dream LYS

Elizabeth meet Artistic Knits. Or rather, Elizabeth’s Visa meet Artistic Knits. Well, you can’t go into a yarn shop just for buttons and NOT do a little stash enhancement, especially when all the shop stocks is hand-spun, hand-dyed yarn. Art yarn. From floor to ceiling. Be still my funky loving heart. And not a plastic button in sight.

I mean, when you pull up to a place and the car parked right behind you has this license plate, then you know you’ve found a little piece of merino heaven. And angora. And cashmere. And bamboo. And anything else those wonderful spinners can think of to make into yarn. I need to look up the patron saint of spinners and light a candle to them, because where would we knitters be without these gifted, talented artists?

I have to confess when I first walked into Artisan Knitworks, I was a little worried. Because the front half of the shop is devoted to arty hand knits for sale. Now usually, this would have my nose in the air, because I am, after all, a knitter, but the hand knits they had for sale were gorgeous and inspiring. Nose tucked back into place, I dove into the shop. And found myself in a room of sock yarn. Art sock yarn. All kinds of gorgeous, wonderful sock yarn. I did a silent shout out to Tiennie and wished she could be there, and then grabbed a few skeins before I turned around and found her there, having arrived a head of me and had been in the back using the facilities, having already had her way with the shelves. (Tiennie, just teasing—cause you know you are my sock hero.)

Now I'm not much of a sock knitter, but I do love the yarn. And I keep trying to fall in love with knitting socks, because I adore hand knit socks on my feet. But still, I don't need more sock yarn, so I started to back out of the room of when then this black/red/grey skein screamed “Make me into Monkies.” This 50% wool, 50% bamboo skein from Ellen's 1/2 Pint Farm is divinely soft. Being the warm-hearted and red loving gal that I am, I found it impossible to walk past a screaming skein, so I grabbed it up, gave it a hug and tried to get out of the room before I found more temptation. Unfortunately the lady working there was blocking my path, ready to suggest more yarn for me to adopt, including this one:

This is a skein of Tiny Toes in "Irish Heather" from Interlacements. From the way she described how this yarn knits, it sounds like it works up very similar to Socks that Rock, so I was hooked. We talked socks, me being the only mildly interested sock knitter and her being one of those toe up, Turkish cast on, two at a time on two circs sock types. I envy you all, because while you're speeding along, I poke and purl at an endless pair on my dpns like some old grandma on the freeway. But she had me hooked and with a color like "Irish Heather" I couldn't resist. The blue in the picture is more a really, deep saturated purple, and the greens are rich and varied.

So with my arms already full and my Visa card starting to whimper inside my purse, not to mention my Stash at home already complaining about having to move over yet again, I swore to myself that I would make a beeline to the cash register. Instead, I found myself in the main room surrounded by too much yarn.

"Just came in for buttons," I reminded myself. "Don’t look left or right, just get to the cash register and get out of here." So I rounded the table of snacks set out for the knit in that was about to begin and found myself nose to nose with this:

Should have closed my eyes. Should not have looked. I am so the sucker for green and blue. This is from Dancing Leaf Farm in Maryland and the yarn is Tango, a 70% wool, 30% Mohair, that is in the Pansy colorway. It is a bulky worsted and has that feel to it that makes you think of a very warm sweater that is going to keep you so very cozy.

I immediately saw it in a top-down cardie. Something just in time for winter. Something to snuggle into when I have the house back to myself and I can work in blessed peace and silence. Really, I should be commended—you should have seen the pretty pink skeins of a variegated wool and angora mix that knitted into something that was just this side of heaven. But with my arms full, and the idea that I only had so much room in my suitcase (the open space made by the Brio train set I'd brought for the nephew--which seemed rather too big when I packed it in Seattle, but in hindsight it was a good idea because the hole it left was the perfect size for my much lighter yarn.).

You know the next time the husband says, "Honey, let's go to Detroit and visit my mother," I don't think my feet will drag quite as much and I'll know to pack light . . .

I've found my groove . . .

Knitting baby clothes. They are:

A. Small, in other words, knit an entire sweater in a week. Unless you are Tiennie, this is a huge feat.
B. Can be knit with cool yarn without a huge dent in the Visa bill.
C. Are then given away to someone who is going to drool all over it. Literally.

My latest FO? Another EZ Project. I am getting dangerously addicted to these Elizabeth Zimmerman projects.

This one is the Baby Jacket from the Knitters Almanac. I made it out of RK Cashsoft DK. The stuff is incredibly soft, but a bit splitty. I knit it both on metal straights and Clover Bamboo circs (size 4) and had problems with the yarn snagging with both. Not that it doesn’t knit up lovely, but those snags are frustrating.

As the mom of boys, there is something so fun in knitting something cute, lacy and pink. Well, nearly pink. These shots show the color really well—not quite a lilac, not really a pink.

I bought the yarn at Churchmouse Yarns on Bainbridge Island a few months ago, intending to knit another little sweater out of it. But after I knit the Baby Surprise Jacket, I thought I would try another EZ project and I loved it. I am so not the lace knitter, but this lace pattern had only two lines to memorize (well, three if you count the purl rows) so it wasn’t too much for my lace-impaired mind to wrap itself around. Despite the snags, I think it turned out real ‘purty.

I’d also picked up these buttons for the sweater. I’m a sucker for shell buttons and these flower ones were too cute! Especially when I knew I was knitting for a little girl. Of course in my mind I’d bought six of them, and put six buttonholes in the sweater, only to sew them up and find I only had five. Of course, I finished the sweater while back in Detroit, as we were there to see the new baby, and I was seriously bummed at being out a button.

Which meant only one thing: I had to go out shopping for more buttons. I hit JoAnne’s which just didn’t do it. I don’t mind JoAnne’s and shop there for stuff all the time, but when I put the time into knitting something special, I just hate putting cheap plastic buttons on it. Yeeeeewww! So after a foray into Joanne’s I knew I needed to find a yarn shop. Shucks. Darn. Twist my arm. And did I ever find a yarn shop. But more on that in my next post.

I showed the sweater, minus the last button to new mom, and she was delighted with it, and said she'd probably wouldn't use that button any way. And then she carried off the sweater and my button woes were over. And the baby?

Here she is, Baby Katy, with very proud cousin Claire holding her. Aren't new babies heaven?

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Saturday afternoons are for . . .

finishing a baby sweater before the kid goes off to college. Well, it isn't that bad, but it should fit little Amelia perfectly for this fall. After a hectic, stressful week, it was nice to just get out the necessary tools and bits and pieces and finish this cute little sweater.

I found these perfect buttons at Hancock Fabrics for 30% off, which was way less expensive than the "$4 a button" buttons I found at the LYS. Oh, they were cute, but buying them would have cost more than the yarn did.

Then I discovered a hank of embroidery thread in my needlecase that matched the buttons, so I was able to use two threads of embroidery floss, then doubled. Here I am anchoring the thread in, which is something I learned when I did a lot of seamstress work. Anchor the thread to the garment first by taking a stitch or two, then sew on the button.

And in about twenty minutes, the buttons are on and the sweater is ready to be wrapped and tucked into the mail on Monday. A completed Elizabeth Zimmerman Baby Surprise Jacket. When I do something like that, I realize how silly it is to let FOs sit around waiting for buttons to be sewn on, but then again, maybe they sit around waiting for an afternoon like today when I need a sense of accomplishment, with very little effort.

BTW, here's a good question. On the always entertaining podcast, Stash & Burn, they were talking about sock mojo and sock yarn stash and what was a good way to burn it up on something other than socks. They mentioned the EZ Baby Surprise, which made me smile--because that was exactly why I chose this yarn for this sweater.

So what other projects have you used sock yarn for, other than socks?