Sunday, January 30, 2011

Psychic Messages from the Ether

I'm somehow getting a message from somewhere about... men's sweaters.

I've had a difficult time finding men's sweater patterns that I like, as I feel that most of them are deadly dull. However, I do have a few men's sweaters in my queue. Here's a selection (kinda per Kate's request)

Jared Flood

It's from Son of Stitch and Bitch. Tragically, I don't have this book. Then again, I think Smokin' is one of the few patterns I actually liked from the book.

Kate Gilbert

This is an asymmetrical cardigan pattern from Twist Collective. Love the inventive construction and stitch patterning.

Todd Gocken

I like the asymmetry. I also like the fact that this pattern is seamless, as really, seaming a man's sweater after spending approximately 15,000 years knitting it is just... insulting.

Classic Oak Cardigan
Alexandra Charlotte Dafoe

Love the classic look of this pattern, even if it is seamed. I'd probably rewrite the pattern to be in the round. Or at least do afterthought sleeves with short rows or something. I'm not sure how that would work over cables though.

Saturday Morning Hoodie
Lion Brand Yarn

Nothing particularly spectacular about the sweater, but it looks so... cozy. The kind of sweater that Bruce (or anyone) would be pulling out of their closet with pleasure on weekends for years.

Shredder Pullover
Jennifer Hagan

I LOVE the cables going up the raglan sleeve line and down the side of the sweater. This has been on my queue since I originally saw it. Love it!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Tragically, I am not on fire.

Which yes, is an odd statement to make. But I'm not. I'm knitting along on Ella's second September Circle, and while I think there is definite value to knitting a pattern twice, the third time around in the same damn wool is... irritating.

That's the only thing I have on my needles at the moment. I want to be knittng something else, but haven't really had the wherewithal to do so. Been a little tired, run down, etc.

Additionally, I have two finished objects that I think I'm going to frog and use the yarn to knit something else. Problem is, I wear one of said FOs (alpaca scarf) on a daily basis and it is doing an admirable job of keeping me warm. It's just ugly.

The other is my Francis Revisted sweater. I ripped out the cowl to make it cowlier, however I'm just not very happy with the sweater itself. It doesn't fit quite right, I really don't enjoy pullovers (sorry Bruce, but it is true) and I don't really feel like the yarn (cascade eco) does it justice. Plus, I don't like the white, and I'll be dyeing the yarn using some technique or another. I recently wrote a few articles on dyeing yarn and I'm dying (ha!) to try out some of the techniques. Maybe koolaid.

I also need to block Meredith's hat and work on the mittens, but I haven't figured out how I'm going to block the hat yet. The mittens should take no time. Flip top. Should be fun, once I cast on. And after that I'm free to knit whatever I want (socks).

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sheer Manliness

I've been so lucky to receive photos of the recipients of knitting projects wearing them this month!

My soon-to-be brother-in-law (gee, we like hyphens today) Ryan sent me a picture of himself wearing his Very Manly Cowl at the top of some mountain in some wilderness somewhere in British Columbia.

Gear! Dog! Mountain! Wide open vistas! Snow! Sheer Manliness!

Also, as promised, here is the stash enhancement I did at Vogue Knitting Live. The lovely ladies at Woolstock gave me a GREAT deal on the yarn, so I'm pretty thrilled.
Here is some Noro Silk Garden Sock that is destined to become at least one pair of socks (for Bruce) and maybe something else for me:

And some regular Noro Silk Garden that will become at least a Clapotis and something else. I'm not sure what. I feel kind of guilty (I know, this is ridiculous) about not having knitted a Clapotis yet, because apparently everybody else in the knitting universe has. Also, it's a pretty scarf. And goodness knows I don't already have enough (at least six) handknitted scarves of my own. (sarcasm.)

Lastly, I got some knitpicks yarn (not at Vogue Knitting Live) to make myself some socks. It's the Imagination Hand Painted Sock Yarn in Ruby Slippers. Awesome.I'll probably start the sock knitting with this. It is red. RED! I like red. Red socks are awesome. Maybe some Monkey socks. Henceforth:

Aside from all the yarn porn, things are REALLY looking up for me professionally. I'm exceedingly excited about the opportunities that are starting to become available to me, and yeah, I think some of my goals for the year on a professional front will be more quickly and easily achieved than I'd originally imagined. I'll talk about them in more detail as they come to fruition. But HECK YEAH! I'm excited.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Vogue Knitting Live

Vogue Knitting Live was this weekend in Manhattan and it was crazy! I spent the weekend working at the Woolstock Yarn Company's booth which was pretty much mobbed the whole weekend. We sold some yarn, lemme tell ya. The work was professionally (and personally) AMAZING and physically grueling.

The event was exceedingly well attended, and I got to spot some of the "knitterati" including nearly mowing down Debbie Bliss near an escalator. I also saw Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (YarnHarlot) in her amazing Bohus sweater. It was really really lovely. I actually recognized the sweater before I saw her face. Unfortunately, didn't have a chance to talk to her as I was working with customers.

I also saw Ysolda, Melissa Wherle, and Anna Hrachovec of Mochimochi Land. Anna and I got to have a lovely conversation, as the booth she was in was right next to the one I was in, and I got some pictures of her stuff:

There were some other really cool things at her booth, by other fiber artists (whose names I didn't catch), like these knitted animal skins:

And this lady who knitted a huge Beluga whale and other, smaller animals:

Anyway, I'm still a little delirious from exhaustion and stuff. I'll write some more tomorrow about the event, and show off the stash enhancement that occurred (yummy noro), the finished object (Meredith's hat) and yeah. Stuff.

Just gotta say though, it was REALLY amazing to be around so many knitters. I loved talking about knitting and yarn and fiber arts and everything else. I just had the best time!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Not just a finished object, but a job well done!

I made the Snug (my rav project) sweater for my friend Josephine's baby. I so rarely get photos of the recipients of my gifts, so I was pretty thrilled when Josephine sent me this photo last night:

Well done, Josephine... he definitely is the cutest baby on the planet (except, of course, for Georgia). And I'm TOTALLY not just saying that because he's wearing the sweater I made for him.

Also, finished my first day of working at Vogue Knitting Live (with OfTroy, my blogging buddy!). It was insane, but a pretty good experience. I really LIKE talking to knitters about yarn. And knitting. It was pretty awesome. I am plum tuckered out though. And have two more days to go.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Spoiled by Shrooms

I'm working on the Propello hat for Meredith, with is a really nice knit and all, but five hours into the project and I'm all "THIS IS TAKING FOREVER" because I'm so used to finishing up hats in five hours or less due to the huge number (ok, fine, three) of Shrooms I've knitted. Yeah. I need to reset my time expectations for hats.

We actually had a moment of sunlight this morning, so I managed to sneak in a couple of photos. (Pshaw, buy a light? That would be... easier.)

The Propello:

September Circle the Third:

And I am jonseing (that means wanting really really badly, for those who aren't up on American drug vernacular) to start a HUGE project. Which means a sweater. Which likely means starting a sweater for Bruce. Maybe one for me. I just need to get through the remainder of the projects for Meredith before I move on to something bigger. Must finish the hat and some gloves/mittens for her. Then all will be clear.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Well, heck.

I have two new projects on the needles, and the light has been so dim that I haven't been able to get a decent shot of either of them.

The first one is another September Circle for Ella to replace the one she lost (she purchased the yarn, so I'm not out on that front). It's a new color of the Crazy Zauberball, and if the sun ever decides to come back out again, I'll photograph it for you.

Secondly, I'm making Propello for Meredith, minus the silly little tag thingie on the top. (my hardcore minimalism is rearing its head again). Still using the Rowan Lima, which is still a joy to knit with.

It's a hat designed by Woolly Wormhead and can be purchased on her website for only £2.50 GBP.

Her patterns are really brilliantly written, and I'm enjoying knitting this one. I also got Twisted Woolly Toppers from her last year, and the hats in there are so darned awesome. I really need to make some more hats as I have only two.

Anyway, here's Propello:

(photo courtesy of Woolly Wormhead, totally without permission, sorry!)

I also recently published a knitting article on eHow that I'm pretty darned proud of:
How to Evenly Space Sleeve Decreases in Knitting Top Down Sweaters

I did actual math! With numbers and everything. And, as always, if you click around on the ads, I will actually make money from this article.

In other news, the meditation is going pretty well. I've managed to do it most nights for the past two and a half weeks, and I'm starting to want to do longer stretches, so I'm upping it to 30 minutes. It's enjoyable, or getting more so, and it is definitely helping me out.

Well, I'm off to write, and work on knitting related job searches, and other fun and exciting things!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Finished Object: Meredith's Eternity

Which, ironically did not take an eternity to knit. To be honest, only three days of off and on knitting. Fun little knit. A little repetitive after a while, but the cartridge rib is really fun. I like how the designer did it both horizontally and vertically.

Pattern: Eternity Scarf
Yarn: Rowan Lima in Cusco
Needle: US 9 - 5.5mm

It's hard to photograph this thing in the afternoon light around here. Mornings are really best, as we get ambient light instead of direct light. Plus, the snow is REALLY making our photos look overexposed. Not too bad on the knitting itself. Very very bad on human skin.

(Thanks to Bruce for the photo of me!)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Eternity in Progress

Meredith's Eternity Scarf (rav link) is going beautifully. This is out of the Rowan Lima, and lemme tell you, this is one sexy yarn. It feels amazing on the hands. It produces a lofty yet thick fabric. It has great stitch definition. It's got a little bit of a halo, but not too much. Oh YEAH, baby. It may be my new favorite yarn.

Here's a progress shot:

Yes. I will start a pair of socks. Soon. First, I'm going to get through Meredith's set. After the scarf, it shall be a hat and some sort of hand covering.

But I am actually somewhat motivated to knit socks now. Took me long enough. :)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Finished Object: Cynthia's Mittens

I finished up Cynthia's mittens on the 10th. They were a super fast knit, despite the fact that it took me a few days to finish up. I ended up knitting, ripping and re-knitting the second mitten, as apparently I decided to make it child sized? Not entirely sure how that one happened.

Pattern: Flip Tops
Yarn: Berocco Campus in College Try
Needle: US 9 - 5.5mm

And the entire set for Cynthia. It should go into the mail this afternoon.

Moving right on to Meredith's commission. The first piece is the Eternity Scarf:

I'm making it from the called for yarn, Rowan Lima (it's really gorgeous yarn, I think I mentioned that before).

I tried to cast on for it yesterday, but instead of setting up my addi needles with two size nine needles, I put on one size nine and one size 10. Oops. I was a little distracted about the tooth problems and the dentist. All is well.

Oh, and in terms of my resolutions, I'm keeping up with the meditation fairly well, as I hit four of seven days last week, and am aiming for five days this week. I got one day of yoga in last week and I'll get another in this week. I'm also trying to take better care of myself, which I've been neglecting to do for a while.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

On hold for a minute

I'm off to the dentist today to deal with a (not fun) problem that occurred over the weekend. However, I did finish Cynthia's mittens and am about to start on the cowl for commission #2.

I'm ok and in a surprisingly good place despite having a few (minor) health issues (teeth, tummy problems again, etc) so once I'm back up at full speed, I'll do another blog post with a picture of the finished trio for Cynthia and the plans for the new projects. And I promise I'll do a catch up on everyone's blogs soon.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Finished Object: Cynthia's Shroom

Well, I have two thirds of the set for Cynthia done, and it's going to be super cute. I did test drive it yesterday in the actual outdoors (rather than sticking my head out the window) and it is VERY warm. So that's the good news.

Pattern: Shroom (my rav page)
Yarn: Berocco Campus in College Try
Needles: US 9 - 5.5mm and US 10 - 8 mm

Anyway, a picture:

All work and no coffee makes mumseh a dull dull model.

Anyway, I've started on Cynthia's mittens, using this pattern, Flip Tops by Vanessa Carter:

It's a pretty generic flip top mitten pattern. But it works, it's simple, and it looks really cute in the Berocco Campus. However, I did find that her gauge is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay off from mine. She specifies chunky yarn, and a US 10.5 - 6.5 mm needle, and I ended up having to drop down to a US 9 - 5.5. mm needle. The 6.5mm needle produced something closely approximating a hat in diameter. As my wrist is rather smaller than my head, I figured this was probably a bad thing and ripped back. I mean, for the Shroom hat you cast on 48 stitches on a 5.5mm needle. For these mittens she wanted 32 stitches on a 6.5mm needle... that's HUGE!

And yes, hardcore knitters, I did do a gauge swatch. I exactly matched the designer's gauge with a 6.5mm needle. So I thinking maybe she misprinted? Or something? Anyway, it works quite a bit better with the 5.5mm. I haven't made any further pattern mods, but I'll keep you all updated.

Should be done with the mittens tomorrow night, or sometime this weekend. I am heading up to Connecticut for my sister-in-law Susan's baby shower (where I will FINALLY give her the Hap  blanket), weather willing.

After Cynthia's stuff is done, I'm moving on to my other commission projects for Meredith. I have the yarn (yummy Rowan Lima) and a pretty good idea of what I'm going to knit, so I'm stoked. And after that I have about 50 pairs of mittens to knit a bunch of sweaters and another September Circle for Ella.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Resolutions, Knitting and Otherwise

  1. Knit a few charity items this year. Helmet liners, chemo caps, etc. It's pretty amazing to me that I can do something I really love doing, and make somebody else's life better while doing it. Rock on.
  2. Knit a pair of $%#*! socks. 
  3. Forget about learning to knit Continentally for now. It's not going to happen any time soon. I simply don't want to change how I knit at this point in time. I like my current technique, I am quite fast, and it makes me happy. I am not counting it out for the future.
  4. Query knitting magazines about article possibilities.I'm on the path. I have written quite a few knitting articles for eHow and I really love doing that. So going more indepth than I can in a 500 word piece looks REALLY appealing to me.
  5. Design, design, design. I'm ready. Willing. Gonna do it. I swear. I've designed some stuff on the fly for eHow articles. Why can't I do it for myself? I know DAMN WELL how sweaters go together now, and yeah. I can do it. I can do it...
  6. Design and knit Bruce a sweater. He needs another one. I think I've got his neck covered for a while. (four scarves)
  7. Meditate. I'd like to do this daily, for at least 15 minutes. I'm not sure if this is an attainable goal. I did yesterday. I'm going to try today. My friend (and knitting protege) K over at AnnieMall is also trying to make some changes in her life. I'm checking in for the meditation stuff in her comments.
  8. Try to do yoga twice a week. I can do twice a week. This is attainable. Plus, I enjoy it. Why don't I do something that I enjoy? Why, that, my dear friends, is the question of 2011.
How'd I do on last year's resolutions?
  1. Acquire an SLR. Yup. My mom sent me one of my father's old ones. I got some good photos out of it before the batteries died. I'll need to get new juice, and then that sucker will be up and running again. Apparently I have a touch more photography knowledge than I thought, but I still need to learn more.
  2. Complete six designs and have them test knitted. Nopety nopety no. There's always this year.
  3. Selling designs? nope.
  4. Eating more healthfully? Oh yeah. My stomach issues definitely saw to that. I ate better, had very few (less than 15) alcoholic drinks last year, lost some weight. Tummy issues have started up again, but I'm trying to deal with them more aggressively this time around, taking supplements, eating things that make me feel better, etc.
  5. Improve employment situation. Definitely took care of this one. And I'm moving quickly towards DOING EXACTLY WHAT I want to be doing. Which is incredibly exciting to me. Bruce, too. And dealing with the employment sitch has made me a much happier Virginia. Though I still find I'm holding on to some resentment regarding my last position. I think I've forgiven all, and then I have a memory or a flashback and go back to steaming rage. Ah well. I'll let go of that when I'm good and ready to.
  6. Knit socks. Heh. Obviously didn't happen. I think I said exactly the same thing last year regarding socks as I did above. 
  7. Finish Bruce's sweater. Yep, even if it was a fair to middlin failure.
  8. Finish Ella's sweater. Yes. Wasn't a failure. But I did forget to get photos of it.
  9. Make a nupp. Nope, no nupps. I have plans. Bruce got me the book Knitted Lace of Estonia and it is chock full of nupps. And pretty pretty lace. That I will probably never wear, but will have a blast and a half knitting.
  10. Learn to knit continentally. Nope. Not ready.
So, I got 50% of my resolutions last year.

Not too bad, all things considered.

I definitely hit the ones that I needed to keep me from going insane. Such as food and job.

Anybody else have resolutions going? I know Karen had some great ones...

    Monday, January 3, 2011

    Last and First

    Last finished object of 2010: Honey Cowl the Fifth

    Pattern: Honey Cowl
    Yarn: Malabrigo in Loro Barranqueno
    Needle: US 7 - 4.5mm

    My friends Jen and Joey ended up stranded in New York until New Year's Day, so they came and stayed with us for a while. Joey ended up falling in love with the yarn that I used, and as I was, um, not as enthusiastic, I gave the cowl to him. So. I guess this means I will be making another darned cowl for myself.

    It was also my first project with my new Addi Clicks. The tips on the new lace click set are pretty darned sharp. I didn't notice much difference between the tips on these and the tips on my Knit Picks set, so they seem to have solved the bluntness issue.

    And, my first finished object of 2011: Cynthia's Cowl

    Pattern: improvised
    Yarn: Berocco Campus
    Needle: US 10.5 - 6.5mm

    I ended up tossing every single pattern I'd found for this yarn, as the colors and texture of the yarn ended up competing with the patterns themselves. I also started out with a US 13 - 9mm needle and it just wasn't good. So I swatched about 50 million different patterns, and finally ended up doing exactly what I did for Ryan's Very Manly Cowl, just with bigger yarn.

    Please excuse the bad hair. It's the first day after Christmas break, I haven't had coffee yet, and... yeah. Well, I made an ass of myself over on Leonora's blog this morning, so why not do the same on mine? 

    The cowl itself is large enough to wrap twice and/or pull up over the head for a hood. The yarn is nice, soft enough to sit against my sensitive skin, and pretty good on Bruce's. Of course, we were wearing it in our VERY overheated apartment, so it probably isn't the best representation of the garment. Also, I hadn't blocked it yet. I suppose I would look like an idiot if I put the cowl on and stuck my head out an open window to test its warmth. Not that looking like an idiot is anything new this morning.

    The yarn itself is a wool/acrylic/alpaca blend. It has a thick and thin texture, going from a DK weight yarn to a super ultra bulky. As I mentioned, I tried a pretty huge range of stitch patterns in it on swatches, and the two that looked good were garter and stockinette. I didn't find it too splitty at all, although in the super ultra bulky parts, it wasn't really twisted at all, and the fibers were easily tangled, which necessitated paying closer attention to what I was doing. On a size 13 needle, the stitches looked... well... cruddy. The DK portions looked awful, and I don't think any amount of blocking would have saved them. I went down to an 11, and it just didn't work too well for me, so I swatched again with a 10.5 and that was fabulous.

    Anyhoo, off to work on Cynthia's hat and mittens. I'm having fun, and the Campus is a nice yarn to work with.