Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Class with Cookie A

My classmate was finally able to send me the photo of me and Cookie A, but since I was waiting for a very slow process to finish at work, I figured I should take this time to write it up, before Saturday became a completely faded memory. So, this post was photo-less for a while. But, now here it is, all fixed. Look, it's me and her. I am labeled so you can tell it's me.

So, Cookie (aurhor of a recent knitting book, designer of some of the most popular socks ever, Monkey, and at one time a blogger, though I don't know if she still is doing that) taught a whole bunch of classes at Austin LYS Hill Country Weavers last week, and I wanted to meet her, but knew how to do all the stuff she was teaching (toe-up socks, etc.). Of course, I figured she would have tips and tidbits I'd find useful in all of the classes, just because she knows so much about socks and knitting in general. But I picked the class on Intuitive Chart Reading, because I'd hoped it would help me learn to make my own charts for things.

It did not help that I was late to the class, through no fault of my own, and I totally missed the part on reading lace charts. That's OK, I am already an intuitive lace chart reader--I am way more comfortable with charts than with written instructions, and I no longer think what I am doing, just do what the picture says (YO, K2tog, SKKP, etc.) without internally translating. All that slows me down, early on, is counting spaces. But once I am established, I don't do that too often, either. I just go to the right spot, relative to the previous row.

I did enjoy the part I heard all of, which was about reading cable charts. I haven't done as much of that, and still spend a lot of time translating each diagram into what I need to do before I knit it. After going over the various types of charts, and practicing interpreting them, I realize that I'll be much more natural next time I need to read a cable chart. So, the class was worth it for me.

Actually just the words, "Be Right Back," made the class worth it. This is how you remember that to do a right cable, you put the stitches on the holder in the back. I will never forget this, now! (The whole phrase she taught us was something about "I left it out front, and will be right back" but I'm paraphrasing.) Handy, handy mnemonic that is!

I met a few nice folks in the class, which is always half the fun, plus my friend Marcia was in it with me. Cookie A is pretty much exactly like I thought she'd be, and was great to talk to. She spent a lot of time coloring in my Dianna lace motif pattern to try to make it a little more sensible. I was really relieved when she took a look at it and said it sucked, because I was afraid I was just a bad chart interpreter when I had so much trouble with that one at first! We both grant that the chart works; it's just not intuitive. On the other hand, it is clear what the designer was intending to do with the chart, which is make it look like how it comes out, and that's commendable.

So, other than traffic issues, I had a nice time at the class, and I was relieved to get another skein of the yarn for Dianna #2! All's well in the knitting world!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

What a Doof! I Forgot to Post Finished Photos!

Ha ha, I am sure one silly girl. I wrote the whole post about my second Dianna shawl, then went to look at the blog and realized I never posted the finished first item! Well, here are those photos, thanks to John-Francis, who took them for me on Wednesday.

I laugh every time I look at my face in this photo (shows up better if you click on it)! But, I like the picture all in all, the shawl with all the yarn around it. At least you can get the idea of what size the shawl ended up. It's not too small, but I think I'd like one a little larger (hence the third skein on the second version).

And below is what it looks like on, which isn't too bad at all. You can see that I blocked a little scallop in the edges.

Sigh, there sure are a lot of photos of my backside these days, with me modeling so many shawls.

I gave the completed shawl to Susan, the recipient, today. She seemed very happy, and the shawl got many compliments. I am really happy with the project, though the colors are more subdued than I'd hoped. They are perfect for Susan, though! I think everyone benefits here!

New Dianna and Things My Friends Make

I told you I was going to start another Dianna, and indeed I did. I like this extra perky colorway a lot more, and I have three skeins of the Noro Kureyon sock yarn now, thanks to another visit to Hill Country Weavers this weekend. That means I can make another row of squares, and I hope even do a bit of a border on this shawl. I think it would look good with one. The designer of the shawl made a border of the leaf motif, which I saw on the Ravelry group for stuff (MaweLucky Love, if you are interested). I think I'd do something less complex.
I'm so happy with these colors and really thrilled with the cool beads (which show up fairly well in the photo below). They are amber/gold with sky blue lining, which ends up looking sort of electric green. They are quite quirky, just like the yarn colorway. This thing is so darned perky that whatever I work on next will probably bore me to death! I guess I'll worry about that when I get to it--really need to finish those works in progress, don't you think?

Below is yet another colorway in this yarn. I am amused at how I keep buying this stuff, even though it is scratchy and has knots in it. I just like the colors. The one below is one of the new ones, S255. I got two so that I could make some kind of shawl out of it. I think, hope, believe, that I will not make yet another Dianna! Thinking a modular vest might be good...

So, the reason I went to the far-away yarn shop on Saturday was that Cookie A was doing workshops there, and I had signed up for one. I will post about that event tomorrow, I hope--I am waiting for one of my classmates to send me the photo she took of me and Cookie.

It was hard to drag myself away from Bluebonnet on Saturday, though, because there were all sorts of fun people there and I was really enjoying myself. There's just no substitute for all the friends I have at Ye Olde Yarn Shoppe! And they did have new sock yarn (which made listening to the devotees of that yarn scrap and bargain with each other quite an amusing spectator sport--both of them are reading this now and thinking, "I wasn't that bad, was I?"). I, of course, did something embarrassing--I picked out my yarn and forgot to pay for it. So I won't photograph it or put it up on Ravelry until I do so next time I'm there!

I gave John-Francis, the Dude of Chicks with Sticks, some fabric and a pail of cat litter. Why? Because he is making really handy knitting totes out of them! It's as fascinating as his Yarn Caddy 300, I assure you. I like how sturdy they are--your pointy objects won't poke through like they do on fabric or plastic totes. Plus I get my wonderful pansy fabric, and he gets a lot of free cat litter (I think his garage is rapidly filling with litter removed from pails that he has turned into totes.) Yeah, I'll have to keep him around, even though I did meet another dude knitter at a dinner with Lee's coworkers Friday night. I doubt this other dude is also trained in tailoring. That would be just too much!

Oh, and speaking of knitting containers, do check out the international knitting bag project that Shells and Umme (my blog friends!) are doing together. I do want to get one of the zippered bags for sock projects. I am awaiting my next big ole paycheck (I am now working more consistently--yay). Also, wow, that homespun on the Etsy site is yummy. I have only knit one thing on handspun yarn, my wedding shawl. I want to try some of that colorful stuff.

Well, see, I had plenty to talk about without going on about that Cookie A class, so it can wait until I get the photo!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Tantalizing Dianna Preview

I like looking at the leaves so much that I am subjecting you to yet another close-up of the Dianna shawl. Even unblocked, I think they look cool.

And here she is, finished but not blocked. It used up nearly all of two skeins of Noro Kureyon sock, so I could not do a border even if I'd wanted to. I may order a third skein of my other colorway to do a border on the second one. Thinking about it...

I like how the beads catch the light from the camera flash in the photo below, and I like how the television shines through the leaves. Obviously we didn't go crazy and try to take pictures anywhere nice. I don't seem to do that much lately.

Here, to make your eyes go "ouch," I posed Dianna on the quilt she is being traded for. Seems like a nice thing to do. (We will be hanging the quilt up as soon as we get a curtain rod). This is 15 repeats of the pattern, by the way. I am hoping it gets a big bigger in blocking, but maybe not by as much as the Lady Jane vest did!

My plan is to block it tonight, after I go to a potentially tedious meeting. That should bring more fun into a day that had a lot of hard work (but that's fine--everyone was in good spirits). I will show you some stuff I have in mind for a special project, if I get a chance to post tomorrow. We hope to have dinner with friends from graduate school tomorrow night, so I may not get to post!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Here's Lady Jane Plus a Lovely Quilt!

All rightee, here are the promised photos of the blocked Lady Jane vest. It still fits nicely, but is longer than I thought it would be.

This first picture, above, shows you what disappointed me in the project the most--the sleeves really have no clue what they are supposed to be doing. They don't act like cap sleeves, they don't act like "sleeveless," they don't act like anything other than floppy fabric. I can't figure out what the heck to do with the sleeves. The other part I don't like is that where the v-neck starts there are loose stitches, or it's pulled away from the cabling...I dunno. I am going to have to fix that somehow. I don't know what to do about the sleeves.

It's also a bit longer than I thought it would be. That is not the end of the world, though, and the length is not that bad. But, I am a bit disappointed in this project. Which brought me a dilemma. My friend at church wanted me to make her a vest in exchange for a quilt. I was going to make the second Lady Jane out of the yellowish KnitPicks yarn for her.

But I thought and thought about it. I don't think she'd actually LIKE the vest. Then, look, she finished my quilt:

It's very nice! She used a strip quilting technique, and did a great job on it. The colors will go very well in our media room, too. I am enjoying looking at it sitting right where it is in the photo. I didn't want to trade this nice quilt for a cruddy vest.

Here you see a close-up or the quilting, which is a nice spiral pattern, using a long-arm machine. That sure works better than my machine quilting on my regular ole sewing machine (yes, readers, I did make quilts in my distant past). She used gold thread, which looks very nice on the back, which is the indigo fabric.

So, I decided to offer the friend my Dianna shawl instead of a vest. I happened to have it with me and showed it to her. Hooray, she loved it! Yes, that means I will give up the Dianna shawl, but since I happen to own to more balls of the same yarn, I realize that I can make another one. And I think I will! I think for myself I'd like a more brightly colored version, to wear at the office to keep me warm. It wouldn't need to match anything.

So, Dianna will go live with my friend, and I'll make another one. And I won't have to make another Lady Jane. That's actually quite a relief for me. One of those is enough. I liked the yarn, and I liked the cable and lace patterns. But, one is fine. I'll single crochet around the neck and arms and that may help.

I am going to sign off now and finish the final half triangles on Dianna. I'll have pre-blocking and maybe blocking photos for you next!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Found Some Cute Socks

Just a quick check in. Not much knitting has been going on because I have been working in an office instead of at home. Slows ya down. I am almost done with the next-to-last row I am going to do on Dianna, so that's about 16 more squares and a bunch of half squares left. I do like doing this project. And I swear I will next finish my unfinished lace projects...before starting something new, which I also swear or affirm will be blue.

I did get a new inspiration. I was on Ravelry looking at new projects that came through, and there were some VERY interesting socks. They are called Boxcar Socks and are by Carissa Knits. Go look at them!

Now that you are back, aren't those cool? I love interesting shapes in socks. Of course I have loads of skeins of yarn that would make really cool hexagons, so I am itching to do this one!

I guess when Dianna is done I will quickly sit there and knit that last couple of hours on the languishing Hopscotches (which I have to fix an error in--not good trying to do slip stitch patterns in a darkened room, drinking wine).

That's it for me. I hope to finally get those finished photos of the purple vest done--it is sitting in my bathroom waiting for me to do so. Then I will post pix!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Dianna Grows

Well, I sat around all day today and most of yesterday waiting for some emergency work. Today's never arrived, so I got all but one square of tier 12 done on Dianna (I took the picture at this point because all the sqares are on one part of the needle and I can straighten it out.

It doesn't look very big in the picture, but the squares really stretch out, so I know it's going to be a lot bigger than it looks now. I am fairly happy with how the colors are coming along, and much happier with this second skein of Kureyon sock yarn. I am over halfway through and no knots so far. At this point, a knot would not be the end of the world anyway.

I am currently thinking of doing about 15 tiers of squares. I hope that will give me enough to do the half squares and perhaps a three-needle bind off, like Marcia at the yarn shop suggested. That might make an interesting and neat edge. A lot of people are making little points along the edges of each square, but I think I'd rather do some kind of edging.

This is just an extra close-up of the work in progress. It actually looks better on the reverse side, which is the back, in the unblocked state. You can see the green beads better in this one. Well, I think this will be pretty.

That's all the knitting I have done for the past few days, other than slowly working on Hopscotch socks when I am somewhere I can't do beads. I didn't get to spend as much time as usual at the yarn shop on Saturday, which is too bad, since all the fun kids were there. (Or at least a lot of them!)

Sigh, I don't have any wise words or interesting advice today. Just a bit irritated that I waited all day for work that still hasn't come in yet. I hope I am not expected to do it in my sleep.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Succumbed to New Yarn Yearning

Hmm, maybe New Yarn Yearning, or NYY, is a new diagnosis knitters may have. I seem to have succumbed to NYY badly with respect to the yarn I saw at Hill Country Weavers a week or two ago and could not stop thinking about.

So yesterday, since my work is on some interminable hold, Beccano and I journeyed to south Austin and I got some yarn. We had a nice trip, even though there was a huge delay due to an accident--we listened to music and he analyzed it for me (including telling me exactly what guitars members of various bands use, etc.).

Above is the one I really wanted. I ended up not getting my favorite color, which was a red, just because I already have a lot of red laceweight. This is a natural brown, so it has lots of bits of other colors in it. The brand is Isager Strik, from Denmark (well, I do have one reader who can read the website, but she probably already has). This yarn, Tvinni Tweed, is so lovely, though. Not sure what kind of wool it is, but it feels nothern, like Shetland stuff. I see another shawl from it, though it could be a nice cardigan, too. I have two skeins, so more than a thousand yards. I just have never seen yarn quite like this, so I had to get it. The photo shows a very realistic depiction of the color.
Beccano begged me to get the one above, too. He loves the color, which is also very accurate in the photo, for once. It is called Almond Green, but it is really a heather of a lot of subtle colors. I would like to make a lace stole from this. It is softer than the other, and is Højlandsgarn, whatever that means. It is made in Scotland, though, which hints it might be Shetland yarn, too. But I think it says merino on it (or the other one does--I am not at home so I can't check). I have three skeins of this, which is about 900 yards or so.
Finally, here is the Knit Picks yarn I kept forgetting to show you, for a second Lady Janevest. I will probably do a swatch to make sure it blocks, over the weekend. The colorway is Creme Brulee (with an accent mark I am too lazy to put in, but hey, didn't my Danish look good?). It looks pretty yellow to me.

Speaking of Lady Jane, the author contacted me on Ravelry and let me know that she put the binding off instructions in the pattern, so if you want to make Lady Jane, be sure you get the most current version of the pattern! I am going to be sure I have it for the second one! I promise to get a photo made of the final product on that one for you, maybe this evening.

My Dianna shawl is going great. I am on the 9th teir and it looks really, really cool. I am enjoying it greatly. It is complex enough to keep me on my toes, but easy enough I can mostly do it in public (unless there is WINE involved). I would like to do a KAL at the yarn shop on this, if they could get in some yarn with slow striping like a Noro sock yarn or JoJoland Melody. I guess you could make it in thicker yarn, but I am not sure how good it would look.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Buy Now, Pay Later!

I wanted to share an idea that my friend John-Francis shared on his blog recently, the "Yarn Caddy 3000." It slices! It dices! Well, actually, it does none of that. It mostly unwinds your yarn. And you can easily make one yourself from readily available materials.

But it is such a cool idea, and so manly! Any knitting item made with clamps will defray any thoughts that a man knitter is not macho. Quien es mas macho? John-Francis! (I find this amusing, because he is trained as a French teacher and I praise him in Spanish. Alors.)

This thing really works, too. It sits there, nice and stable, and feeds your yarn to you steadily and neatly. We kept imagining them made in a variety of colors, perhaps using that textured spray paint to give the clamps and dowels a sassy faux finish...anyhow, click that link and enjoy. His blog is rather new, but he is quite fun and funny, so read some of the other posts, as well!

OK, that plug over, I did knit some yesterday, in between my car breaking down and being hit by an unpleasant virus. I got two more tiers done on the Dianna shawl, and no more knots in the Noro. In fact, it's looking rather nice right now. I think this will be a quick shawl, and predict it would make a nice gift item. (In case you haven't been keeping up, it's an entrelac shawl with a lace motif in each square.) Once you have mastered what to do on each type of row and coped with the non-standard format of the chart, it starts to move along rapidly. The beads I added are a nice bonus, too.

Lady Jane is finished blocking, but because I got sick, I didn't take pictures. More to come.

Monday, July 6, 2009

A Rumply Lady Jane

A long US holiday weekend meant lots of knitting time. So, even though I had a couple of ripping out episodes, I managed to finish Lady Jane yesterday. As you can see, it is very purple! You can also see that I didn't bother to fix my hair for the photos--I am as rumpled as the unblocked vest!

What we see here is before blocking. The arm area will look much better once it is all straightened out, and the bottom lace edge (inconveniently cut off by my kind photographer) really needed a good straightening out to look its best. I think it won't be quite as form fitting once the blocking is done.

As you can see, it's quite tunic length. Used a lot of yarn. I'd say I have about one of my ten skeins of yarn left, and the instructions called for 9, so they were right. I just always buy extra. That was helpful at the end when I was knitting the two sides of the front at the same time.

There were not too many challenges with this project, though the instructions sometimes left things to be desired, and I wish it were finished off a little more neatly. In fact, I may do a crochet edging around the neckline and sleeve edge, because it simply divides at the underarm, leaving an unattractive space at the bottom where a stitch stretches out. There is also a stretched-out spot where the cable divides for the neck. We'll see. I may decide it's OK the way it is.

I am not sure why the pattern called for a seed stitch (or moss stitch) shoulder edge. But, I put one on there. I also was not thrilled that the instructions called for knitting the back to a certain length (hard to measure on a vest with an irregular edge), then had you knit the front by stopping when you had a certain number of decreases. Sure enough, the fronts ended up an inch or more longer than the back, so I had to re-attach yarn and lengthen the back. This was fine, because I thought the back armholes looked too short.

A final odd thing about the pattern was that, at the end, the instructions tell you how to do a three-needle bind off on one shoulder. They never tell you to also do the other shoulder, nor what to do with the back of the neck stitches, which were waiting on holders along with the stitches for each side of the shoulder. I guess you are just supposed to figure it out. What I did was three-needle bind off the right shoulder, continue and bind off the neck edge in pattern, then keep going bringing in the second shoulder and three-needle binding it off. I hope that's what the author intended! (And before you suggest it, yes, I am going to contact her, and will let you know what she says--she has been very helpful so far. I actually think I may be the first person to finish the project.)

EDITED July 9: The author has kindly let me know that instructions for finishing are now in the newest version of the pattern, so make sure you get that version if you decide to do this pattern!

Here you can see how lumpy the bottom edging is. This is what I am going to have to knit a swatch of in the cotton blend I got for the second one of these, to be sure it will block out. It's a lovely pattern when straightened out, though!

I washed the garment right after these photos were taken, and the yarn bled a little, but not too much. I then just straightened it as well as I could and put pins along the bottom and arm edges, to try to get the cap sleeve effect that the straight shoulder edge is supposed to give. This morning the top half was dry, so I turned it over and hope the bottom dries in time to take it to the yarn shop this afternoon and show it to a friend who is going out of town.

And Now, a Word about Noro

When I finished Lady Jane, I worked a bit on the Dianna shawl. I am still having a little bit of entrelac confusion, but I got another tier done. Not without effort, however, because there I was knitting away on a blue section when, BAM, there was a knot in my Noro Kureyon Sock yarn and it suddenly turned BLACK. This did not make for a nice transition. I tried knitting along, but the motif where the color suddenly changed looked bad, and it made way too much dark stuff all together at what will be the bottom of the shawl. Ick. So, I ripped that out and wound through the skein of yarn until I hit another blue section. That was about 200 yards. Sigh. I just want the beginning to flow nicely. Dang that Noro and their knots! I know it is hand spun, but sheesh.

I figure as the shawl progresses, and there is more spacing between squares, I will be able to end one motif before a knot and start the next motif with another color and it won't look so wrong. I did notice that there is a lot more very dark stuff in this colorway than I thought--a lot of black and blackish green. I will try to not have them overlap too much, but we will have to see. I think this will be a darker shawl than I had imagined. Good thing I have two more much brighter skeins I could try again with if I wanted to.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Final Glorious Aeolian Post

As the sun sets on another project, enjoy last night's sunset at the end of our block. I read something on a Ravelry group about how you sort of mourn the end of a project, and how blocking can be that final loving interaction with something you've shared your life with for weeks (or months).

So, here's how that blocking I did yesterday looks against a shirt. You can at least see how the beads look, or so I hope:

And here is the "money shot," the shawl in all its glory, free of pins and restrictions. It came out 98 inches wide, which is not all that much bigger than the size of the large shawl in the pattern. It is a large shawl, but not frighteningly humongous or anything. The bottom really looks pretty, doesn't it? And the top looks great when I am wearing it.

This is one idea of how I guess you'd wear it. The edging looks pretty draped that way. Mostly I am relieved it doesn't drag the ground or anything!

And now I am just being goofy, but it does look pretty, waving around that lovely edging. Aeolian is waving good-bye to you and I will focus on other projects!

I got up to the armholes on Lady Jane last evening at the yarn shop, but today I have work to do (yay) so progress will be slower. That's OK. Having money means I can buy more yarn.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Vested Interest and Blocking "Fun"

For the past couple of days I have faithfully been adding to the Lady Jane vest. She's moving right along!

This is my current progress. I got to the part where you join it and knit circularly, and make a really lovely cable pattern in the center front. It's lots of fun and a lot more interesting than just repeating the same pattern over and over. I am glad the project can be interesting, too, because the yarn for the second one showed up yesterday. It is quite...yellow. You'll see it in the next blog entry.

This is a close-up of the central motif. Isn't that a nice knot? It repeats again starting with my next row, then the pieces of the knot start moving over as the neckline happens. The armholes start as soon as they knot is done, too, so no more nice circular knitting after that!
Why, what is this lovely thing on top of a very flowery bedspread? It's the Desert Lilac Aeolian shawl blocking! Ah, what an adventure I had doing that! Washing it was easy, and rolling it in a towel was fine, but the pinning...well.

...let's take a break to look at the edging transition and agave patterns, why don't we? Ahh.

And here we have a nice shot of all the patterns. They do look a little odd with all those stripes and flowers under them, but the king-sized bed was the only place it could go!

So, pinning. I used blocking wires at the top, curving them as the shawl wanted to curve, and at the bottom, catching as many edges as I could. I seem to have misplaced a couple of wires, so I had to pin some of the edge points. Then, as I was painstakingly pinning 5 points on each edge motif, I ran out of pins. EEK! I'd actually bought a set of blocking pins from KnitPicks along with the (much too small and not used) blocking mats. Thank goodness for that! As it is, I used all my two boxes of t-pins, the blocking pins, some small t-pins I found at the bottom of a drawer, and then, because I could not locate the pins with nice colored balls on top of them that I just saw last week, I had to use things you are supposed to use in making earrings on the last few points.

Ahh, there she is in all her glory.

By the time I finished finding and placing all the pins, the shawl was completely dry. So I misted it with water. I just had to re-mist it, since I saw I hadn't balanced the points I put on the bottom of it well enough. I hope it dries in time to take to the yarn shop this afternoon!

I am pleased with how the body of the shawl looks now that it is blocked. All the lumps and weird places smoothed out nicely. Using the shinier beads instead of nupps looks fine to me (and my opinion counts the most on this!). The edging is simply hard to do. Everyone on the Ravelry group says they have trouble with that part, so I don't feel alone.

I haven't had any work this week, which is not great, but at least leaves me a bit of knitting time.