Monday, January 30, 2012

Oooh Boy, These Are Some Nice Mitts

I’m sad to see the end of project to make the Susie’s Reading Mitts out of the lovely wool/cashmere yarn. It sure feels good to have that beauty running through your fingers. Lucky me, though, I now get to enjoy the beauty on my hands and arms!
Yay for outdoor photography and the good camera. This is realistic.
In the non-cropped version of this photo, which I am NOT sharing, the sun makes a nice pattern out of my cheek wrinkles that looks like those wavy patterns sand dunes have. That’s Suna living up to her name, I think. This is a really nice intermediate project where you can learn how to make a picot edging and a thumb gusset. I did see on Ravelry where one knitter posted the technique she uses to make a thumb gusset with no holes around the join, if you are interested. The lace part is a very, very, easy way to start with lace—it looks much more complex than it is. It’s ideal for any luxury yarn you may have, since it doesn’t take much yardage and shows off the beauty of your yarn in the big stretch of stockinette.

I have another whole skein plus some leftover of from the first skein. Maybe I have enough to do the gloves I originally set out to do!

Well, so, I finished that, and I did work a bit on the striped scarf. I got to a section where the semi-solid and the stripe were rather similar, but even that is a nice, mottled effect. Ha, I was thinking how much I wished I had a photo of this when I realized I actually had brought the project with me. So, see what I mean?
See on the right how it is rather blendy?
You can also see that I am about finished with the first skeins of yarn. And as I figured, it really isn’t long enough, so I’m glad I got the additional skeins. This is another lovely yarn to work with, so I am happy to make the scarf long. Turning to less lovely yarn, I was asked by my coworker, Mike, to make him some slippers like his dear departed (rather grumpy) grandmother used to make for him every year. He even showed me a photo of them. So, off I went to Ravelry, and sure enough I found some that look a lot like the grandmotherly ones. These are made using two strands held together, so they go very quickly. I made a sample using some yarn I had bought at Michael’s for no real reason. At least it’s wool (Paton’s Wool Ease I think) but it’s more sturdy and long-wearing than soft and lovely. Here’s what I made (and these DO look better on a foot):
A bootie
I went down to a size 9 needle and the gauge turned out a bit tight. Plus I made the small size, so I got one that would be excellent for a ten-year-old child, I think. But the exercise told me that I need to do the decreases differently from the instructions—they don’t look really pretty to me.

And it reminded me how little I actually enjoy knitting with two strands on large needles. One of my size 9 Knitpicks wooden needle is loose where the wood joins the metal, so I need to glue it back in (and one of my clear plastic 9s is missing!). But, for the next one I try, I am using size 10 needles and making the medium adult size. I think that will fit me. On this one I am making the stockinette portion solid, and using the variegated yarn just in the sole and cuff. Those will be for me. Mike’s going to go out and get Red Heart in his favorite colors, then I will make him a pair of large adult ones. I think that will work. I’ll have him try mine to see if they fit, though. These work up so fast that at least the torture of using acrylic on large needles won’t last long.

I am amusing myself a bit now that I am back to knitting. Once more there are larger and larger piles of yarn around the place where I sit to use the computer or watch TV. I need to edit out some of those “yarns in waiting” so it all doe all doesn't take up so much space. No photo of that is forthcoming.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Groovy Knitting Groove

I guess I am back in my knitting groove at last. I now would rather be working on one of my projects than reading or playing a relaxing game. Whew. And because of that, I actually made something in a reasonable amount of time!

I finished the Paintbrush Lace Cowl on Thursday or Friday, and blocked it Saturday. I rinsed it in human hair conditioner, which had the double advantage of softening the Silken Straw yarn and making the whole thing smell good. The cowl feels marvelous, which is good since it goes right against my extra sensitive neck. Here’s a picture of it before blocking:
Pre-blocked cowl

And here it is afterward. Isn’t that a nice pattern? I can imagine it in a mohair lace yarn being a very fine rectangular wrap. The pattern is so pleasant to knit that it would be a nice relaxing project.
The colors look funky, but at least you can see the pattern.

When I wear it it’s quite attractive, but you sure can’t see the pattern! I have no idea how I am supposed to arrange it on me. Oh well, it’s a fashion statement. Now I have to go find brown clothing to wear with it. I sure did enjoy that project, though. I am glad Jody suggested it.
Dressed rather warmly for the weather. And no, I did not knit the sweater. I get asked that a lot.

Now I am working with the multi-colored yarn I’d intended to use to make gloves. Instead I am making a nicer, more sophisticated set of fingerless mitts than the previous ones. The pattern is called Susie’s Reading Mitts, so it must be for me. It’s going quite well. I love doing a picot edging, and I like the simple lace enhancements. Mostly, though, I sure to like the yarn and the tweedy effect it makes. The little bit o’ cashmere in the yarn makes me purr (internally) with pleasure. And the tweediness is so subtle.
Susie's Reading Mitts. Colors are more warm in real life.

I also like having a thumb gusset and a bit of a thumb. That will keep me a lot warmer, I predict. I do like mitts, so that I can use my phone at a moment’s notice.

That reminds me, I am going over to a woman I know from the UU church to help her make a mitten with thumbs that come off so her child can text in the frigid north of Illinois. When I lived there (1980-1996 if you are keeping track), I didn’t want to take off my Thinsulate gloves for anything. I knitted a lot of sweaters at that time, but wore store-bought gloves mostly. I have been promised wine, so I am not sure how well I will do with figuring out patterns, but we’ll see…

Oh yes, to complete my report on my current projects, I should report on the scarf I am working on during choral rehearsals and such. I think it’s really pretty. When I got halfway through the colors on the self-striping yarn, I realized that I’d end up with a sort of short scarf. So, off I went with my very patient younger son to the yarn shop, intending to get another skein of each color of Knitshit’sFreia. But, sadly, they were out of the Metal Earth colorway. One of the other ones looks pretty good with the reddish main color as well, so I just got another color. I am not sure if I will use all of the additional skeins—I might end up with a much-too-long scarf! Here’s it’s progress:
Easy scarf that looks good.
While I happened to be at Hill Country Weavers, I decided to pick up enough worsted weight yarn to (gasp) make a garment. I was really taken with a pattern in the latest Vogue Knitting, #12 Drape Front Sweater. It’s very simple and mostly stockinette rectangles, but the front has a half twist in it, which looks really nice in a drapey yarn.

I ended up getting something close to what the pattern calls for, an alpaca from Misti Alpaca called Best of Nature Worsted. It is gray (the color is called Rockies) but just slightly mottled. It is dyed with “natural ingredients,” apparently blue corn. I hope the promise of an interesting garment will keep me working on this and that the subtle variations help keep me interested. I am really looking forward to at least making a swatch of this stuff, but those cashmere-blend mitts are holding my interest!

Thanks to all of you still reading, and thanks to those of you posting your knitting stuff on Facebook, too. I enjoy hearing from you, however I hear from you!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Why Yes, I Have Been Knitting! And Planning!

I am getting a bit more back into my old knitting rhythm, though I am also still playing word games online, too. I can't help it...I love word games. I find it interesting that I win most Words with Friends games and lose most Scrabble games online. I can't figure out why I am good at one and not the other, but I still enjoy the mental challenge...but I also have been knitting.

When I am sitting in Unitarian meetings and various choir rehearsals (mark your calendars for February 19 if you are local! Texas Choral Consort will present Out of Israel, a fun presentation including lice, flies and other plagues), I have been working on the K1P1 scarf. It's looking really nice and the color changes are very lovely. I will give you a picture next time. Gotta save something for the future.

When I am not doing something that requires a lot of other thought, I am working on the absolutely beautiful Paintbrush Lace Cowl pattern that I got the yarn for when I was shopping with Jody. Two different Alchemy yarns--Silken Straw and Haiku. I sure am enjoying the feel of that silk and mohair gliding through my fingers, and I am also really enjoying the pattern. It is easy to follow but makes a cool effect. It has lace and cables, but neither are overly difficult. Just a pleasant thing to knit. I am beginning to wish I had more yarn. I probably only have enough to do 4 pattern repeats (though the pattern calls for 5). Here's how it looks now, with Scrunchy the Pug inspecting it:

Scrunchy sez, "This is intruding on my space."
I have been thinking about how nice the mohair scarf I got for Yule feels. Maybe I will make a scarf or stole out of one of the skeins of alpaca lace yarn I have, using the Paintbrush lace pattern. That would feel soooo good. And it would also not be so hard I would get discouraged again.I think that will be a nice thing to work on while doing the other, simpler projects I have in mind (gloves, mittens, etc.).

I realized I didn't post the earlier photo I took of the project, showing the two yarns involved.
Paintbrush Lace Cowl, pattern, and a bit of a view of the yarns that are knit together in my version

I found out today that the most elderly student I ever had in my knitting classes had passed away. She was a lovely woman with so many stories, and a kind listening ear. She was also very, very funny. It was so hard for her to knit, since her hands shook, but she kept at it, and always had questions and wanted to learn more. One of the nicest things about teaching was meeting so many interesting people and hearing their stories.

That ending brings me to a new beginning. I asked if it was OK, and sort of got permission to start a knitting group where I am working now. I hope to get to know some of the people there better, and satisfy my urge to teach people to knit or crochet. We'll see if it goes over well or not--I think about 8 people expressed interest, which is great! Of course, I didn't ask permission correctly, even though I tried to. Oh well, I made it over 4 months before getting into trouble over anything at the new job, which is considerably better than my record at the last "real" job I had. But wait, I am not looking backward anymore. I am living in the present! Right now! And right now I want to enjoy some more zen all go knit or read or enjoy the moment in some way that has meaning for you now, OK?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Knitting Inspirations

Not only did I actually go to a genuine LYS the Friday before New Year's, but I also got some other new yarn in the past week, one as a gift. I have been trying to knit from my very copious stash this past year or so, since I have been in the throes of my "knitting identity crisis," but like the ones I mentioned yesterday, these "spoke" to me (or showed up!).

I have been wondering if I'd ever get to write this blog post, though--ever had one of those days when technology hates you? Well, all of my various technologies for getting photos onto blog posts broke this morning, and I got a bit frustrated. Finally I found a cable, dealt with some issues on the phone and the computer, and was able to copy all my recent photos onto my computer. WHEW! Still not sure why I can't upload photos to Facebook today, but I will live. I can at least blog now!

First I wanted to show you this very interesting yarn that I found when Jody and I were shopping. I know it looks like a bit of a mess, but I saw it knitted up and woven (that was lovely!) and I really liked the tweedy effect it made. The yarn is called Mericash Thousand Colors and it is from Punta Yarns in Uruguay. Of course, it is no longer being made, sigh. It's a merino cashmere blend with 3 strands that each change colors. My plans for this are to knit it tightly and make myself a pair of warm gloves. I LOVE my very old cashmere fingerless gloves, so I predict I will like these.

Mericash Thousand Colors
And look, I found PhotoShop so I could crop pictures.

Next is yarn I ordered from the blog's old friend Ray Whiting at Knitivity. I was really intrigued by both of these. The one on top I am totally in love with. The colors are so subtle and muted. I realize I am on a real tear with hand coverings, but I really, really want to make another pair of mitts in this. I have a simple pattern with cute edgings in mind. I may have enough left over to make a matching hat and/or headband, too. The bottom skein reminds me of blue and white china, even though it has pale orange or cream color in it. It will probably be socks, if I ever get back to those. I am suddenly getting holes in my socks, some newer ones. No moth signs, but it makes me hesitant to make more.

Sock Yarn from Knitivity
And next is yarn I received as a Yule gift from my friend Diana, who went to Ireland and thought of me when she saw this yarn there. As you can see, it's a boucle yarn, in a lovely reddish purple-y color. It feels oh so soft. I wish I knew what the yardage was, because there is a pattern in Vogue Knitting this month for a very simple sweater with a twisted front that would look cool in this knitted very loosely--it would be more of an overlay than a sweater. I may have to get one of those things that measures how much yarn you have! I think this is a goodly amount, since it is thin yarn and tightly wound. it's surely enough to make a very simple shawl that would showcase the yarn.

Lovely Irish Mohair

Diana also sent me a really lovely mohair scarf or wrap that was hand knit in County Clare near the Burren, one of my favorite spots on earth. I love the very simple pattern used.On larger needles, this could be done in the boucle.
Scarf I got as a gift.

So, these are all the things that are inspiring my knitting these days. Now I need to write one more blog post and I can knit! It is SO nice to finally have a relaxing weekend.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Mismatched Mitts

My friend Mary in North Carolina works in a very cold office in a UU church. She asked if I could make her a pair of mitts after she saw the pair I made Leigh for Christmas. She said it could be wild colors, since UUs love her tie dye. So, I found the balls of Poems yarn I had been trying to make a vest out of (it was coming out way to small BEFORE I gained my recent pounds). Since this yarn changes colors, I figured I better not use cables, so I made the trusty pattern linked right here in this blog. The first one came out quite nice, as this blurry photo taken in the RV shows.
First Mitt
As I made the second one, I realized it was going to bear very little resemblance to the first one, in color. I seriously considered making another mitt from a second ball of yarn, but then I asked people on Facebook, and they began to say not to worry--mismatched is cool now.

I asked Mary, and her daughter seconded that opinion. So, here's the second one.

Second Mitt
They came out quite warm, though I think they'd have been warmer if I put in a gusset. Maybe next time I make this pattern I will  do that.

I sent the finished ones off to her a couple of days ago. I sure hope she likes the sophisticated mismatched effect!

Both mitts, in focus, and a view of the wine fridge
I decided I liked the self striping stuff again, so I got two balls of yarn at Hill Country Weavers when my old knitting friend Jody came to visit, one a semi-solid and one really nice stripes in the colors of rocks. This yarn is from Knitwhits, called Freia sport. I love it--single ply, hand-dyed wool.

I started one of those easy K1P1 scarves with this yarn, since I need something very easy to knit during 6 weeks of choral rehearsals coming up. So far it is red and gray, but the gray will be changing!

Very simple scarf in very  nice yarn

It was really fun to go shopping with Jody again. She is quite the enabler. She was intent on getting Jared Flood yarn, while I wandered around trying to not buy stuff. However, when I saw this one ball of yarn, it just had to go home with me. It looks like it is liquid metal--a very cool roving surrounded by a mesh. I believe the shade I got is silver with red mesh, but it looks purple. This stuff is absolutely amazing. It weighs practically nothing. It's Sublime Yarns Lustrous Extra Fine Merino Wool DK and wow, it is most unique.

I had just gotten the Vampire Knits book by Kathy Pendry on my Kindle and remembered there were cabled mitts in there. I wanted a pair after making Leigh's. In between the vampire trivia and famous vampire quizzes (quite the snooze for me), there are some rather nice patterns. My only complaint about these "pulse warmers" is not in the actual product, but that there are no charts for the cable pattern. It would have been easier to knit fast with a chart. Also, it was knitted flat. Ick.I did a fine job mattress stitching the first one together, but I sure would rather make them in the round.

Here are a couple of photos of the yarn and the finished first mitt. Still working on the second one.

Yarn and project. You can't see how slinky and shiny this stuff is
This is a little overly flashed, but you can see it looks a little metallic. 
The yarn looks somewhat between these two images.I have some yarn and another knitted item I did not make to show you, so I will try to blog again tomorrow. Oh sure, two posts in two days???