17 February, 2009

And love, true love...

...will follow you, forever:
I have a new favorite sweater.

More deets to come; I'm pooped and infatuated. I knit this thing like a woman with a hunger that only wool could satisfy. Now I just want to lay around and gaze down at myself. A few arty shots before I drift away:

The back- my 1st successful raising of the back of the neck via short rows.

The incredible flatteringness of it all: slim sleeves, baggy body, almost-too-long length, sort of padded shoulders. All seems to hide/accentuate all the right lines.

Duplicate stitch; help me tie it all together, now.


14 February, 2009

Kiki Mariko rug: FO!

And I'm done:
Kiki Mariko Rug: FO!
Pattern: Kiki Mariko Rug from the 2nd Mason-Dixon book
Yarn: 9 different colors of Lamb's Pride Bulky (honestly one of my all-time favorite yarns, exclusively for felting)
Needles: US size 15 circs (KnitPicks Options)
Mods: I decided that I actually didn't like the chart as it was and switched it up after only one repeat. I'm iconoclastic like that, I guess. Examine the photo and see if you can see what I did.
Raveled here

This was so fast to knit. There's nothing quite like knitting bulky at a gauge of 2 sts to 1 inch. Craziness.
The colors, although fun to choose, made me grit my teeth and wish for a real-life saturation slider--until I felted it, and then they somehow all made peace with each other. Now, next to the bed, I really like it, especially with the whip-stitched border in the "main" color (like you could somehow pick a main color out of that mess?).

Now, I brought this rug to school before it was felted, so that the kids could feel it and, as it were, climb inside it--the book is right, it does remind one of a fuzzy strapless dress--and then I brought it back after it had been felted, steeked, stretched and dried so they could shave it. Seriously, using disposable razors and a sweater de-piller kept several children engrossed and happily working for hours. Even the 5th graders whined over whose turn it was to "groom" Ms. Jessica's rug (parents, please don't walk in on that sentence). They just hacked away at the hairy halo that is felted Lamb's Pride and at the end we had a gigantic ball of multi-colored mohair, which Julian then "spun" by hand (I even taught him how to spit-splice, and what 3rd grade boy does NOT want to be told by a teacher to spit onto his own hand inside the classroom?). He did such diligent work that I promised to bring in my drop spindle and let him have a go. The only thing he didn't really grasp about that was that you have to draft up. He kept wanting to push the fibers down onto already-twisted yarn, and needless to say his resulting 1st yarn looked like a band of vagrant caterpillars came through and cocooned themselves. He eventually figured that out, but then relinquished the spindle to the waiting line of 1st grade girls. Anyway...

I had bits of left over Lamb's Pride, so I cranked out a little dumpling bag. The shape is something I had envisioned for a Xmas present long ago, and never got around to it because I didn't understand increases out from the middle of a circle. Then I made several versions of Kristen Kapur's One Day Beret pattern (Rav link) and all of a sudden wanted to knit all my hats from the top down and bags from the bottom up. Any chance I get to utilize k1fb, my favorite increase. Love it.

Here's the bag before and after felting.
dumpling bag, pre-felting
I think I'll like it better one I slap a shoulder strap on there and put things in it so that it's curvy little bottom shows. I don't like it squashed down on the table, but hey, at least it sits up well.

10 February, 2009

Well, I might actually participate in Vest-uary!

There's this world-wide knit-along going around this month, called Vest-uary... I'm starting to feel like knitbloggers will do anything if it has enough hyphens. But seriously, I didn't really think too much about it at first, since I like puffy vests and it would be hard to make a knitted puffy vest.

But then this conversation started up on the Vest-uary thread on the Stash & Burn forums on Ravelry (yep, that is a Rav link), and it seemed like the puffy vest thing might could happen if one were to get clever with some quilt batting. But what stitch pattern to appropriate a puffed look? That's where I stalled out.

Until I saw this today. Dig that wrong side--see what I'm seeing? Hmm. But I just destashed all this yarn, and I don't know what I'd use. Hmm again.

08 February, 2009

Words cannot express...

...how much I love Margot Bianca's etsy shop. The first time I bought something of hers, I got a set of gorgeous goldenrod-colored batiked cloth napkins for Patty & Larry. That was just this past Christmas, and I kept thinking about those napkins and how pretty they were. She really has an eye for color and pattern-spacing, and lo and behold last month she posted a new customizable section on her shop page. So, I broke down and got these:

I described to her the colors I wanted and the shades I prefer, and then picked the "seedling" pattern (her handmade batik stamps of various flora are all so lovely, it was hard to pick). I love them all except the rust (I would have preferred that it had come out deeper, but it doesn't matter since I totally have dibs on the periwinkle one--which is perfect, by the way-- next time we have guests over for dinner).

Go, go to her site and buy something new for your table or home or fabric stash. You won't regret it. Who doesn't need pretty colors in the dead of winter? I myself am talking myself out of buying a whole tablecloth dyed with that orangey-red on the top. I love that color like it's my job.

06 February, 2009

WIP roundup

Apparently as soon as 2009 hit I decided that a good strategy for living with Startitis would be to go ahead and cast on everything that I suddenly got a hankering for (and that I had the yarn for, of course) and worry about finishing them later, in that fictitious place called when I have time. It's not a bad strategy, though, because when I get home from work and feel brain-dead I don't have to think about what I want to knit, I can just pick up any old WIP that happens to be hanging around in whatever room I'm in. Let's start with the living room:

I'm finally making progress on my NaKniSweMo beauty that I started back in November (the shame! well, not really). The plan was to make it roomy, like a casual pullover, since lately I apparently want to wear a pullover most days of the week. However when I pulled it on in the bathroom at work (okay, I do have some free time) I realized that the roominess is happening only in the back. I mean, I know my front takes up a little more room than my back, so I guess I'm not surprised... and seeing as it's still on the circular cord, I don't think I can accurately worry about it yet, because cords do funny things to sweaters-in-progress. The good news for this sweater is that I can safely say I bought enough yarn. I'm 2/3 of the way down the body and I'm deep into my 3rd skein; I have four left. Even if I use one whole skein for each arm I'll still have plenty to do the rest of the body with. So that means: I might be able to do a cowl neck! Can you imagine, a cowl in Manos Silk Blend? Oh, the luxury. Like some of the 1st graders on the playground do with their shirts, I'm going to want to put it in my mouth and suck on it. But I shall refrain.

Next up: in my school bag is the beginnings of a new yoked sweater! Finally! I wear my purple sweater almost every other day, I swear to god. It's all I want to wear. It deserves it own dedicated blog post, but maybe I'll wait until I've had it for 5 years or so. The kids keep track of which days I wear it every week, and I'm starting to feel kinda self-conscious about it (although extremely comfortable and pleased with my handiwork). So, I've had over 7 skeins of Brown Sheep's Nature Spun worsted in my for-trade stash for months now. Seven Ravelers have faved it, but no one had bought it*. The other day it finally occurred to me that I could--get this-- make myself another super comfy 100% wool yoked pullover, thereby slowing down the purple one's rotation. Genius! I cast on a sleeve/gauge swatch with the Nature Spun and it was like peanut butter meeting jelly for the very first time. Oh, how smooshy the yarn is at about 5 sts per inch! I cast on about 48 hours ago and I'm past the elbows on both sleeves. Tomorrow I go to Holly's so we can sit outside (warmth! Finally!) and knit like fiends. Also, see that photograph under the sleeves? That is my inspiration for the yoke. It comes from the Istex Lopi book #28. Isn't it gorgeous?

[I'm liking this whole knit-the-sleeves-then-the-body idea. The torso seems to be the majority of the boring-ish work, and the sleeves are fun to knit if you don't have a hurry-up-I-just-want-to-get-to-the-colorwork-part mindset. Now I can knit the sleeves and marvel at how fast they're going, knowing that the yoke is light years away, and that I have a whole torse to go so just chill out already and enjoy the process. Besides, if I want to work on the body of something, I can just pick up the Silky Blend sweater above.]

And in non-sweater news: I flew through the brunt of the Kiki Mariko rug and have mere rows to go until it's finished I run out of yarn. I have to say, I am disappointed in my color selection (but it looks better than that unfortunate picture above; it was late, the light is dim!). On the whole, I like these colors together very much, but after listening to the latest episode of the KnitPicks podcast, I realized what was bothering me: they're all pretty much the same value. I don't have any pale colors. They all compete with each other because they're all equally saturated. And while monochromatic colors might be my favorite thing to wear on my body, I don't think the green/green/green sections or the purple/purple sections read very well in this rug. Ah, well! I plan on bringing in to school once I cast off to show the kiddies (my wee knitting pupils), and asking them to remember what it looks like! Remember how big it is! And then I shall felt it at home, and shape and dry it, and bring it back and say: see, children--this is felt. (I wholly expect oohs and ahhs.)

(There are also two pairs of socks, barely begun: they're for the 209 Sockdown Challenge. I again have employed the cast on now, knit later approach. Yatai!)

*I did a big destash on Etsy and it worked like a freaking charm! It's time to reorganize the newly weeded stash and make sense of things. Oh boy!

01 February, 2009

My newest favorite pretty thing

Her Morning Elegance by Oren Lavie

I'm on Flickr a lot.

Jessica K.. Get yours at bighugelabs.com/flickr