Wednesday, July 25, 2007

New Stuff.....

I popped into my LYS this morning after seeing a note in their window earlier in the week that sale yarn was 50%.

When I got there, a half hour after it opened for the first time this week, an employee told me that the store was closing and EVERYTHING was at least half off. (I could've also gotten eyelash for a dollar if I was so inclined.) Yes, the Malabrigo, yes the Rowan, yes the Regal Silk, yes the Royal Cashmere, yes yes yes yes yeeeeeeeesssssss!

Be still my frantically beating heart, but I couldn't buy it ALL, could I? Could I?

No, off course I couldn't. So here are the first two of my purchases. Only shown, because this is WIP Wednesday, and because I know what I want to make with them, they're like WIPs, right?

First up, 10 skeins of this delicious pale green Cotton Chenille by Crystal Palace Yarns. Bound to be a Log Cabin Blanket to brighten up my dark green sofa. Last year I knit a chenille throw for Hubbs' 40th birthday, so I know what I'm in for knitting with this yarn. Not the easiest, but I love the suedey feel of it knit up. And this colour is so soft. 3 of the skiens are a different dye lot, but I think that will add even more texture to the log cabin effect, even though it is all in one colour.

Next, is this wonderful, wonderful Mmmmmmmmalabrigo in Rich Chocolate. This is sooooo, soft and I love the colour. This is the colour nail polish I always want but can never find. It's going to be a Clapotis for me. I can't wait to cast it on and have the Mmmmmmalabrigo experience.

My MIL came home yesterday from visiting SIL in Canada. And look what she brought me back. My SIL has a LYS close to her called Urban Yarns and they saw this bag and thought of me. It is a Namaste Knitting Bag. My knitting world has been rocked from morning to night the past 24 hours and I love it.
In other WIP news. This afternoon I made a quick gauge swatch for the tank that Carrie sent me the yarn and pattern for. I just cast it on while I was waiting for these pics to upload. The yarn is warm and soft and delightful to work with. Thanks Carrie.
Also, a few days ago I felted the dreaded argyle pillow. Boy did it felt. I probably left it in too long, but hey-ho, what are first times for. I have to say, though, that I really like it. It went VERY rectangle. I'm going to close the top with wooden toggles. It will look cool when I'm finished with it. In about a million years.
I'm off to NYC tomorrow - a quick trip, I'll be back Saturday night. I intend to visit Purl Soho and The Point on Friday. I'll sit in the Point and have a coffee and knit. Can't wait. Of course, I'll be toting around my new Namaste bag and I will have Carrie's tank and maybe the beginnings of the Clapotis in it.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Masters Monday - Part 2

First off, I want to thank everyone who commented either here or on the Knittyboard about last week's Masters post. It is really encouraging for me to hear that you all found it useful to some degree or other. For those about to embark on this learning journey, please enjoy it - I don't think it was designed to be stressful :-)

Myself, I've been working on Level 2 swatches and questions this week. Last year when I first received the instruction packet, I knitted up the first 4 swatch requirements, which are seaming of: stockinette, reverse stockinette, seed and rib stitches. That gave me a little head-start this week as they were ready to block.

So I blocked and set about researching exactly how to seam the different stitches. I read Nancy Wiseman's "The Knitter's Book of Finishing Techniques", "Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book" and "Reader's Digest Knitting Handbook" by Montse Stanley.

They all described the figure 8 to anchor the yarn at the beginning of the seam. I really liked the pictures in the Vogue book best, so sat with that open as I did the actual seaming.

Here is Swatch #1 (stockinette) seamed. I couldn't work out from the instructions which end of the seaming yarn to weave into the swatch so will have to clarify that on the TKGA Masters question forum.
I found a problem I had was the two swatches I seamed together did not line up - one was lower, one higher than the other. I don't know how this is happening as I am performing the figure 8 exactly as explained in all the books I've read. Another question for the TKGA Forum, methinks.
Here's a closeup of the bottom of the swatch, and.......

The top of the swatch. See what I mean about it not lining up exactly?

Here is Swatch #2 (reverse stockinette) seamed also.

Again, with the top not lined up.......

or the bottom.
I tried to research the answers to the first 2 questions in the 3 books I read. They weren't much help. The questions ask why you should join seams from the RS and which seams should be joined to stabilize a garment. None of the books gave explanations, just said that you should. I think I know the answers, but I'm supposed to give citations. I guess I'll answer what I think I know and list the books I read trying to find out.
I just borrowed Knitting Without Tears, Knitting in Plain English and The Principles of Knitting from the library. I'm sure one of these will be more help - I have a feeling it could be June H-H.
Tune in next time folks for another seaming update :-)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Beret and Cravat

Remember my lovely Spring Fling SP, Verablue's package? Well, I made the cravat and beret with the DB Alpaca Silk yarn she sent me, plus a couple of balls Ipicked up on my UK trip. And here they are.

Here's a closeup off the moss stitch pattern. I love moss stitch - it is so simple, but beautiful and elegant. As always, the yarn was a delight to work with.

And here's a closeup of the top of the beret. The decreases form a swirl. Pretty.

Now All's I need is some cold weather.
Thanks Verablue :-)

Friday, July 20, 2007

Super Summer Swapper

Yesterday, I received a much anticipated package from my Super Summer Swapper pal, Carrie. She was my Knitty SP8 pal. Neither of us wanted to take part in the SP9 swap, so we decided to swap with each other over the summer.
Boy, was her parcel worth the wait. Mucho stash enhancement here.

First off, take a look at this beautiful Dyed Cotton in colourway Mediterranean from Blue Sky Alpacas. And a tank pattern to go with it. I'm thinking I may put eyelets between the rib and st. st. to thread a ribbon through. That would be cute. I'm really looking forward to casting this on as I haven't worked with any of their yarns before.

And now, look at this hank of loveliness. Blue Moon Fibre Arts Socks That Rock in Mystic Kelp. Oowee, this is such a fab combination of colours.

Here's a close-up of the green and cerise.

And the lavendar, brown and green.
Just gorgeous and rich. I love it.
So, it turns out we both had the same idea for our packages. We both bought the same sock yarn, so we could make matching socks. Now, there's a pair of knitters in tune with each other :-)

Last up, a whole host of treats, including an Addi Turbo 40" Size 1 to help me magic loop those socks. Thanks Carrie for loaning me that book, the Magic Loop is truly an amazing knitting technique to learn and I would recommend it to anyone.
Another crossover in our packages - Lush products. I sent Carrie some soap I picked up in Dublin (of all places) and she sent me a bath bomb, temple balm and soap. The package was smelling good.
And, can you see the doggy card in the top left? That's Carrie's doggy on her Blanket that Rocks. She got cards made by Kodak of her best knitting pics. Totally cool. Those doggies are just about the cutest pups ever :-)
Huge thanks to Carrie, I love my rockin' Knitty pal.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Old WIP, New WIP

My oldest and now, only, WIP is the argyle pillow. I've been mulling over the decision: to felt, or not to felt. That is the question. And this picture shows why it really has to be felt. See those tight and sunken stitches. You just couldn't be happy propping yourself up on those, could you? So let the felting begin. For real, I've never felted before, so this piece is my experiment in argyle AND felting. Stay tuned to see the results :-)

I added another hat to the Innocent collection. Cute camo - the yarn is Jaeger Baby Merino, a single ball I bought ages ago. I magic looped this baby. LOVE the magic loop, love, love, love the magic loop.

With my WIPs disappearing over the past couple of weeks, I've been thinking about what I would like to knit next. When the Summer edition of Knitty came out I just LOVED the 'grow with me' pattern. So I bought some Rowan Denim while I was in England and have cast on to make it for my niece. Right now, it's a whole lot of stocking stitch. That's ok, I want some easy knits while I turn my attention back to TKGA's Masters Course.

Speaking of Rowan Denim, now I remember what it does to your fingers while you're knitting with it!

Last, but never least, we haven't had a cute picture of my most important wips in a while. I took this picture yesterday. Matt found these old Halloween costumes and insisted on wearing the Tigger costume. It's for an 18 month old, but he just about squeezed into it. Teddy on the other hand, wanted to wear the cow costume for a 12 month old!!! I swear there was no talking him out of it and the boy crushed himself in there. They wore these costumes through lunch, changed clothes for a short walk afterwards and as soon as we got home, they wanted to wear them again. They were in them ALL DAY!!!!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Masters Monday - Part 1

Last year I completed Level 1 of TKGA's Master Knitters Program. I thoroughly enjoyed critically reviewing my own knitting, and researching the techniques examined, in several different books.

I used the three most widely recommended books:
Reader's Digest Knitter's Handbook by Montse Stanley;
The Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt ; and
Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book by Vogue Knitting Magazine Editors

Aswell as reading all the 'Cast Off' Masters articles published online. All of the 'answers' can be found in these books and articles. Thank goodness I was able to borrow the POK book from my local library. That is a FANTASTIC book and I might be first in line when it is republished.

My Approach
One of the first decisions I made was that I would only knit each swatch once. I would let the judges be the judges of my knitting - I would not be the judge of whether it was good enough or not.

I read through the swatch requirements and questions, then read up on each 'examined' technique before completing either swatches or questions. I completed the swatches and related questions as I went.

Feedback Received
My feedback from the 'examiner' was fantastic. She was very complimentary of my standard of knitting, while giving constructive criticism on quite a few of the swatches. I think a big misconception of the program is that each swatch needs to be perfect. From the constructive criticism I received back, this does not bear out.

For example (and remember, these are swatches they accepted):
Swatch 2......there is some inconsistency in the rib which may be related to transition tension.
This swatch gained a pass and I did not have to redo.
Swatch 3......there are some minor tension issues...which has created a few holes....may be related to the transition from a knit to a purl. ....tail weave in upper left corner distorts the stitches. may want to consider weaving into the edge in this stitch pattern.
Swatch 9......There is stretch on the SSK on the tips of your needles and baby those stitches.
Swatches 10-11......The knit stitch on the right side of the YO's is a bit over sized....can occur when doing multiple techniques very close together.
Swatches 13-15.....transition knit stitch on the right side is a bit loose....probably related to the transition tension......easily corrected by tightening the purl stitch after a knit.

This photo shows swatch 13, with the loose stitches marked by the examiner.

I have to relay this part of the feedback I received:
"...Please know that very few people have nothing to redo in their submissions. I have seen only a couple in all of my years on the committee."
I think it is very important not to be TOO critical of your work. Remember, you are not the judge. Why reknit a swatch 5 or 8 times when, actually, the first one you knit would have been acceptable? Yes, that is a good way to look at it. They are not looking for perfect swatches, just acceptable swatches - acceptable in their limits. redo's.

Swatch 1 - I was asked to resubmit because the ribbing measurement was too short. There was also a twisted stitch and a purl bump between two knit stitches. The photos below show my first effort (on left) and my redo (right). The blue thread is the examiner's marker of the twisted stitch and purl bump.

Swatch 12 - SSK decreases were quite stretched and the tension on the stitches to the right of the YO's is a bit loose. Again, maybe related to doing multiple things in a row. I was asked to keep YO's nice and tight on the needles and work the SSK decrease on the tips of the needles. They also suggested I try a needle with a longer taper on the tip, as it is easier to keep stitches on the tips of these needles. This picture shows the 1st (left) and redo (right) swatches.

This photo is a close up of my 1st submission.

This photo is of my resubmission.

Pattern - I was asked to resubmit for several reasons. Wording in 'Gauge' section, abbreviations of common knitting terms not needed (K, P, RS, WS, etc), abbreviation of cable directions. Capitalisation and period missing.
Blocking Report - just had to add a sentence to address which stitch pattern is enhanced by blocking.
Question 1 - Our numbers were different for some stitch gauges. Measure correctly. Remember the carpenter's saying "Measure twice, cut once".
Question 13 - I had to expand my explanations to include factors such as drape, durability, washability, texture, use, needle size and gauge.
Other Feedback
Some of the other feedback I received includes the following:
- placement pins for blocking have created some obvious holes and indentations ...... try using just the tip of the pin and place it between stitches rather than directly into a stitch.
- please use citations for your questions and also on hang tags for your swatches. If you tell us what you have already researched, it makes it easier for us to suggest possible alternatives. If you have used personal experience, please tell us.
- in the gauge section of the pattern, include the phrase "Save time, take time to check gauge".

I hope that someone attempting Level 1 finds this post and finds it helpful. Now, after a year off, I'm embarking on Level 2. I hope to make Masters Monday a regular update on my progress.

Good luck everyone. :-)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

London Yarn Pron

This is my first attempt at yarn pron, so be gentle with me. I just learned how to take a close-up picture so I hope they turned out ok.

On my recent trip to the UK, I visited a wonderful LYS in London called Loop. I had visited it on my trip last summer, but on the only day it was closed !!!!

The wonderful thing about the store, apart from the yarny goodness, of course, is the area of London it resides in - Islington. Both my DH and I were living in Islington when we met. In fact we had our first date in the Parr's Head on the corner of Cross st, the street Loop is on, and Upper Street, the main street in Islington.

Sadly the Parr's Head is now a Jigsaw - but at least they have cute clothes. And Tommy and I have many fond memories of Islington....

Now onto the yarn I succumbed to. These may not be British yarns, but I'd never seen them in my LYS, so they were new to me.

First up, knitglobal. A couple of skeins of their Chunkywool in Ecru. Made from Ultrafine Australian Merino, they are like soft, fluffy clouds. Just beautiful. I feel they should be dyed, but I've not attempted that process so far - maybe I won't use these as my practice pieces.

Next up, these gorgeous rooster yarns almerino aran and dk. Such pretty blues.

Then there's the Frog Tree alpaca. I know this is available in the U.S. - but not in my LYS! So I had to have a couple of balls to try it out, right? What gorgeous hairy beasts these are.

And Last, but not least, some (10 balls to be precise) Rowan Bamboo Soft. I thought I'd make myself a little summer top with this. It being hot in Florida and all. :-) Anyway, Bamboo Soft is right. And this was purchased at John Lewis, that wonderful British institution, known by its staff as "The Partnership", and never knowingly undersold.

That's all folks! For now anyway......

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Gettin' those WIPs out....

Finished and out the door, that is....

First up, Hubbs hairband, to match her prairie tunic. That blocked really nicely and will be packaged up tonight and sent tomorrow. Hopefully it'll reach her before she leaves on her month long holiday to France.

Next, Gracie's pink jacket. Made from DB Cashmerino Astrakhan and DB Cashmerino Aran. The texture of the yarn made it difficult to sew up, but it was worth it. The finished object will look so cute on her. The pattern calls for a ribbon tie closure. I thought this button was more practical. And guess how I made the button hole.....

I CROCHETED it!!! My first crochet EVER. How does it look? I was watching a DVR'd edition of Knitty Gritty and someone demonstrated how to crochet. And I got it. I had to watch a few times over, but by gosh I got it. I had tried to understand by looking at books/magazines, but I guess I'm one of those people that just needs a live demonstration. :-)

So now my WIPs consist of the argyle blanket of decision-procrastination. Or is that blocking-and-end-sewing-in procrastination? And the Alpaca Silk cravat. You can see from the pic that I'm more than half-way there. I love the pattern. Debbie Bliss does love moss stitch, but I don't blame her, it's so stylish in a very simple way. I will cast on the beret as soon as I'm finished. Or maybe I'll wait for my new Options needles to arrive, so that I can Magic Loop it.

Here's a close up of the 'tie' bit of the cravat. It also shows the chocolate colour better.

Last and perhaps least a shot of the teeny-tiny Innocent drinks hats. I finished the pink one to add to the first green one. Maybe I'll do one a week so you can see the collection grow......
Bonsoir :-)

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Look what I found to do with all those teensy weensy bits of yarn I just can't bring myself to throw away. You know, the tails from casting on and sewing up and such like. I know, I have a sickness. But anyways, here's the one I just made from the itty bits leftover from the girly pink jacket I just finished (it's blocking right now).

I'm going to make some more teensy hats for 'the big knit' organised by innocent drinks - no time to add the link - google it, or go to my KIP post earlier. That's the green hat I made at the KIP event.
DH and I are having date-night tonight. Starting at the Apple store, we're thinking about new computer(s), then onto dinner at a new (to us) restaurant. Woot, woot!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

WIP update

The Irishgirlie is right. With only a few WIPs and all of them in the 'finishing' stage, I've been dying to cast on another project. So I cast on the cravat that Verablue sent me the yarn and pattern for. I love the pattern, it is so simple and stylish. That's Debbie Bliss for you. I love the Alpaca Silk knit into Moss stitch, too. It is still so soft and this colour is gorgeous.

I did one of the finishing jobs I had to do. Hubb's headband is blocking. The pattern is from the lace section of the Prairie Tunic I made for her birthday a few months ago.
As for the pillow. I'm still undecided on the felting. I thought felting would be a good way of not having to sew in all the yarn ends. There have to be at least a million on the back of that argyle. It was a bit of a pain to knit as I used a different strand for each of the black lines and a different strand for each column of cream diamonds. I think there were a total of 15 or 16 mini balls of yarn worked on each row. Needless to say, there was a lot of tangling going on. Hmmm, decisions, decisions.....

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy 4th July

Yes, HAPPY 4TH JULY. We went to a parade this morning in our local town. It was pretty low-key as parades go. Or so I'm told. I've spent the last 3 4th Julys right here and before that lived in England where we, er, don't celebrate, for some reason;-)

Here are a couple of my favourite pictures from the parade. This first one is a giant pelican. Very apt for Florida. Is that Uncle Sam behind him operating the controls? And that white blob on the LHS is a man dressed as another pelican. My gosh, but he must have been sweating.

This next picture is of a guide dog for the blind. They spray painted stars on him (and other dogs). There were also horses with their legs painted red, white and blue.

All in all we had a fun time. We were with a friend who originates from Russia. She was totally into it. In fact that's her in the first pic, waving madly at the pelican. And all our kids got hordes of candy - most of which will go in the trash tonight - bubblegum and hard candy mints. But not a Jolly Rancher in site, urgh!

Before I left for 'The Grand Tour', my Knittyboard Spring Fling pal, Ms Verablue (blogless, I'm sorry to say) sent me a package brimming with all kinds of goodness. As with most of my SPals, I really enjoyed getting to know her and do hope that we'll keep in touch. She chose my favourite yarn - Debbie Bliss's Alpaca Silk, in Teal and a gorgeous chocolate brown which I had never seen before. Also a pattern for a cravat and beret to make with the yarn. I cast on the cravat while I was waiting for these pics to load onto blogger. Couldn't wait to finish those other wips.

And look at the beautiful stockinette stitch pin. I just LOVE it. There were also some cute sheepy soaps and notebook. And awesome 'Method' shower gel - I had never seen those products before, but as these things always go, I keep seeing ads for them now. Funny how you don't notice things til someone points them out, then you see them all the time.
And do you see the English Cadbury chocolate bar she sent. No, of course you don't. Even though the package arrived just a few minutes before I left for England, I still managed to wolf it down. yum-o.
So thank you Jeanne for a wonderful, thoughtful, delicious smelling package, I loved everything in it and will post a piccy of the cravat and beret just as soon as. :-)

Now to the WIPs. I'll join the WIP Wednesday bandwagon. What else is a knitty to do.... All are almost complete and just waiting for some finishing.
First up, this baby girl's jacket in DB Cashmerino Astrakhan. I love the knitted effect of this yarn, but my, oh my, is it difficult to knit with. There is a strand, with another wrapped loosely around it. So you can sometimes miss one of the strands while you're knitting. As I found out one morning, it's not pleasant to find ripped from the needle either. Very difficult to try to decipher which loop is a stitch and which is just a loop of the yarn design. All the knitting is done on this piece and it just needs arms sewing on and side seams sewing up. And maybe a light steaming.

Next. Last year I thought I'd make an argyle pillow to practice argyle work before attempting my TKGA Masters Level 2 coursework. 5 repeats later, I could take no more. Hence the back of the pillow is plain old stripes. This has been lying around for SUCH a long time, and is such a simple knit that I finished it off in about 2 evenings this week. The seams are all sewn up. I can't decide whether to felt it, or what. I didn't block it before I sewed the seams up. So it will remain a WIP for a while longer, while I have a think.....

Here's the back of the pillow.

Last, but not least. Inspired by the dreamswatch, I made Hubbs a hairband to match her prairie tunic. It's all finished, just needs the ends sewing in (only 2 of them, for goodness sake) and a good blocking.
Enjoy your hamburgers and fireworks everyone.