Friday, December 14, 2007

First spinning, non-gift and gift FOs

First Drop Spindle Spinning!


A friend put me in touch with a wonderful lady (a talented spinner, weaver, and dyer who claims she's only an occasional knitter) who showed me how to get started spinning with a drop spindle. Next week (hopefully) she will be showing me how to ply, and eventually, I'll give her wheel a try. It's super fun - I just wish I had more time to do it (I'm still working on gift knitting, you know)!

Here's my first singles (kind of skinny):

Bug had to "help" me with the photo shoot a little too much:
Bug, you're very cute and fuzzy, but you're hiding some fierce, fiber-rending hardware. Watch it, will you?

Non-Gift Knitting FO

Judith Chevron Shawl
Schaefer Yarn Judith, color "Betty Friedan" (330 yards per skein), ~1.7 skeins
US 7 Knitpicks Options circular needles (24")

The Judith alpaca yarn is lovely and soft with a slightly vinegary aroma. I alternated balls every two rows to reduce pooling. The pattern is made up of 3 sub-patterns (Daintier Chevron, Dainty Chevron, and Arrow Pattern), which are shown below. It's too bad (for me!) that this was knit as a model for Schaefer Yarn to display, but I'm getting some wonderful yarn in return (photos when it arrives).


Gift Knitting Update

Sheldon (Knitty, Winter 2006)
Knitpicks Shine Sport (110 yards per ball), "Green Apple" ~0.9 balls, "Grass" ~0.6 balls
US 2 (2.75 mm) dpns
US 3 Addi Turbo circular needle (24")
US B crochet hook

Hee, hee! I love Sheldon, and hopefully so will my little nephew. What a neat pattern Ruth came up with! I hadn't done attached i-cord before, and had some moments of confusion when trying to stitch together the parts of the shell, but I thought her instructions were great - and it all worked out in the end. I used the felt/embroidery floss eye method described by Bogie of Knit Flix (with the exception that I couldn't find a hole punch, so I cut my felt circles freehand). I think I took the advice to stuff the shell lightly a little too seriously, and I may have understuffed the little guy's body, so my shell is a bit baggier than expected. However, I think it looks fine, and it's pretty easy to put on and take off.

Bug was quite patient with me (and Sheldon) during the photo shoot:
Umm... yeah. I think he thought Sheldon was bit too forward.

Flower Scarf
Based on the One-Skein Scarf from Stitch 'n Bitch Crochet - The Happy Hooker
Ella Rae Classic (219 yards per ball), minty green ~0.65 balls
Scraps of Patons SWS in Natural Geranium and (the beigey parts of) Natural Blue for the flowers, etc.
US K crochet hook

Basic Mittens
Easy Warm Mittens
Steadfast Fibers Wonderful Wool (190 yards per skein), copper ~0.66 skeins
US 3 bamboo dpns

And last, but not least, I'm still working on the Clementine Shawlette for a special someone. Let's hope I can get it done in time to send it across the country before Christmas (I'm actually further along than this shows - I'm working on the second half now).

Monday, November 26, 2007

Minimalist Cardigan wrap-up (and more!)

Minimalist Cardigan
Valley Yarns Colrain, color "Chestnut" (109 yards per ball), ~7.2 balls
US 4 Knitpicks Options circular needles (32")

First off, I want to apologize that these photos are a little dark and unspectacular. I'm having trouble finding good light in the house this time of year. Now to the real stuff: I have been battling my (more or less completed) Minimalist Cardigan for over a month now, and I'm happy to announce that we have come to an agreement of sorts.

You may have noticed that I haven't really mentioned it much. Unlike some bloggers (whom I admire greatly!), I don't feel like posting about a project when it's giving me real trouble. I prefer to stew privately, I guess. I realize that it would be much more interesting, not to mention more useful, for me to let you know what's going on. I could then solicit ideas from you guys about how to go about fixing things, and you might learn something in the vein of "what not to do" when you're knitting a sweater (or this sweater, at least). Ahem. That would be grand. Anyway....

Modifications, etc.

I knit the smallest size. My initial swatching showed that I was almost getting gauge with US 4 needles (the pattern recommends US 7). Instead of trying again on US 3's, I decreased the number of stitches I cast on for each piece to make up the difference. However, I neglected to alter the number of stitches involved in armhole and shoulder shaping, resulting in deeper armholes and narrower sleeve caps than desirable. Luckily both are still workable -- they're just not proportioned as nicely as they could have been. I used short-rows for shoulder shaping and did a 3 needle bind-off for each.

I also chose to add additional length (a half inch) to the fronts and backs (it has been my experience that sweaters are often too short on me if I don't add a couple of inches, at least). This turned out to be a bad idea.

After blocking it was too long/too big looking in general:
I hadn't taken into consideration the drapiness of the fabric or the fact that this cardigan is meant to be worn open over a shirt (and is not fitted at all). It hit in the middle of my butt, and looked like a limp red tent on me. Ooof.

Maddeningly, it looked OK (actually rather nice) with the fronts cinched together like this:
(although the back pooched out strangely around my waist in order to accommodate my buttocks)

I looked for a clasp, but was not happy with the clunky looking overly-fancy ones available, so I sewed on hooks and eyes to keep the fronts closed instead. Unfortunately, this focused too much tension on the hooks/eyes so that the fabric around them pulled rather disturbingly (no photo, sorry).

I took these off and made i-cord frogs, which I sewed to the fronts like this:

While they look nice just sitting there, frankly, they destroyed the minimalist nature of the Minimalist Cardigan (not to mention I attached them a little high, which made me look extremely flat chested and weirdly proportioned, and they looked kind of crooked). Soooooo..... off they came.

I decided that I needed to go ahead and crop the cardigan, or I was never going to get any wear out of it. I picked out the seams toward the bottom of the sweater and lopped several inches off the back and both fronts. Then I put the live stitches onto a needle and worked downward - adding about a half inch of the k2,p1 ribbing before binding off (I know this doesn't match the length of ribbing on the sleeves, but I was afraid of adding back too much length after my surgical escapade). When finished, I reblocked the bottom edge only.

Now, I may be completely batty, but I'm much happier with the way the sweater looks on me! Yay!

I may still add some kind of relatively invisible closure (I was thinking of putting a button or two on the inside of one front edge and a loop or loops on the inside of the other), so that I have the option of wearing my Minimalist Cardigan with the fronts cinched in.

Oh, yes. One last note: the ribbing at the cuffs wasn't tight enough to stay put if I shoved the sleeves toward my elbows a bit (which I am prone to do, and I think this looks better, anyway), so I wove some elastic thread inside each cuff -- much better!

Oops! Not quite done.... I just love the look and feel of this yarn -- it's buttery soft, and the tencel gives it such a nice sheen and drape. Highly recommended!

Sheepy Roving!
A friend of mine brought me some wonderful natural roving that her mother harvested (and prepared) from sheep she has raised over the years. I definitely have to learn to spin now!

Just look at this stuff!
Bug approves : )

Schaefer Yarn Model Knitting

So, ignoring what time of year this is (um, holiday gift knitting, anyone?), I offered to knit up a model for Schaefer Yarn.

I'm working on the Judith Chevron Shawl in their new, yummy alpaca yarn, Judith, alternating balls every two rows to reduce pooling issues.. The colorway is "Betty Friedan" -- a melange of plums and blue-toned purples.


I'm about halfway done.

Holiday Knitting Update

Ok, so I'm guessing that none of my family members will scroll down this far (at least not the ones these gifts are for), so I thought I'd let you see a little bit of my holiday gift knitting.

Morehouse Merino Farm Alligator Scarf
Morehouse Merino Sport, color "CreekCroc", ~1.4 skeins
US 3 Knitpicks Options circular needles (24")

This is for one of my nephews, but Moana wants to keep it. I think it came out nicely! Rawr!

I got stitch gauge, but the pattern didn't list a row gauge, and mine was evidently not what it should have been, so I added extra repeats a number of places. I bought this as a kit at Rhinebeck, but I'm not sure exactly what weight of yarn they included. It seems heavier than sport, has three plies (their sport weight yarns seem to have only 2), and the skeins were much bigger (94 grams each) than those they advertise on their website. Who knows...

I think it's pretty cool how the alligator gets his bumpily back (it involves increasing and binding off strategically). Here's the underside of him:

Next, there's the Morehouse Merino Rat Race Scarf for one of my nieces. You may notice that I altered the pattern a wee bit:
Morehouse Merino Farm Rat Race Scarf Pink Weasel Scarf
ONline Linie 130 Champ, color 25 (77 yards per ball), ~2.4 balls
US 7 dpns

I substituted a heavier weight (and different color) of yarn, and I added length to the "rat's" midsections to transform them into pink weasels. Additionally I changed the tail and used hematite beads for the eyes.

I hope you are all having a wonderful November! Thanks for reading : )