Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Anything But Swift

Dear Blog, 

Disclaimer: Let it be known that under normal circumstances the ball winder and swift combination is a very simple, fast, and rather fun way to wind yarn. I have on numerous occasions operated this set up successfully. Some of the pictures shown in this post may cause distress to knitters. View with caution.

On black friday, I may have had a slight black out, after which I regained consciousness with a credit card in my hand an an inexplicable invoice in my inbox. I'd feel a little guilty this close to the holiday season, but its not my fault. A good friend, (you know who you are), told me about the sale at eatsleepknit, and I got 25% off my order. Also, I only ordered yarn that 1.) I'd been planning to buy any way or 2) is for knitting for other people. I might blog about the total haul later, but of importance today are the two skeins of Shibui Sock. They are intended to be socks for my boyfriend, so there is no guilt in this yarn purchase. He has alternately been asking for either socks or a sweater for awhile and he's already been told he won't be getting a sweater. (yet.) He has also passed another crucial landmark. I prefer to only oblige hand-knit request if the person has
1.) given a fair attempt at knitting
2.) does some other kind of craft.
3.) has witnessed me knitting for a considerable amount of time and is thus able to appreciate the effort involved. 
This helps me stay friends with co-workers who often thoughtlessly ask for knitted items without really being aware of the level of commitment they are requesting. (Try knitting something for someone who has completely forgotten ever asking for the item by the time its done. So fun. ) 

All this to say that I pulled out my ball winder and swift, intending to quickly wind up some yarn before bed. And this is what happened.


There isn't a whole lot of space in my tiny barracks room for the swift, and I was also having unusual trouble getting the yarn to wind off smoothly. One jerk too many too hard, and the whole thing came crashing to the floor.
The little peg that goes through the center of the swift snapped in half and is now unusable.

I don't think the yarn was tangled in the actual fall, but in my delirium I picked it up and, trying not to weep, horribly mangled it. It took the better part of four hours to wind into a ball.

I eventually had to put it down and go to bed. But I was so upset that I couldn't sleep well. I knew I couldn't go to work until it was fixed. I wound the ball into a very loose messy looking yarn-cake. (doesn't work right without the swift. But I was determined to try.)  Then Aaron held the swift steady so that I could wind the second ball. It was still a little stubborn and I'm wondering if maybe I'm unwinding the skeins and putting them on wrong? 

Just to be on the safe side I also wound the skein of Tanis Blue Lable Fingering, and it worked fine. (mostly.) So it's still inconclusive as to if it was me or the yarn at fault. At that point I was using a pencil to replace the peg, and the wobbling meant the swift kept traveling across the desk.

Anyway. I've licked my wounds and am recovering from the trauma. Very little knitting got done today.

Monday, November 26, 2012

I might need more DPNs

Dear Blog,

I am excited about the amount of knitting I've been able to do lately.  This past week-end I finished the gusset on my Vampire Boyfriend Sock (2nd sock) so I feel confident that the project will be finished pretty soon.  But it is not the only thing I am working on. Far from it.

From right to left:
Nereid on size 0's, dream in color smooshy, colorway: Rasberry Blaze. Endpaper Mitts on size 2 needles knit with Brooklyntweed Loft colors Hayloft and Plume, and the Vampire Boyfriend sock on size 1 needles in knit picks essential kettle dyed. Colorway: Spruce.

As if that wasn't enough, I'm also halfway done with a second pair of the good time mitts. (which mysteriously are turning out smaller than the first ones? )

AND I already have plans to cast on two simple hats later this week.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Hideously Ugly Sweater--Vest Incident

Dear Blog,

Sometimes, when I tell people that I knit, I get this strange reaction. They wrinkle up their nose and think for a minute and then they make one of two observations.

1. Knitting is itchy


2. They received a hand-knit item once and it was an ugly color/striped monster.

This makes me kind of sad because for me knitting has always been first and foremost an art, and art is supposed to be pleasant and pretty. I've never really understood how those hand-knit sweater disasters happen, and can only assume that the knitter responsible was either eccentric or color blind.

The itchy part is slightly more reasonable. Knitting has widely been considered a frugal, cheaper method of getting stuff and it's one of the tragedies of the craft that comfort is generally the first thing to be sacrificed.

 All this is to say that I have recently found myself in the novel position of having created an ugly sweater of my own. I'm not saying that I take back my previous judgment of other ugly-sweater knitters. But I do feel like I can sympathize with them a little.

I recently cracked open a box of my stashed yarn and discovered I had several skeins of chunky acrylic. I'm on a tight budget right now and haven't been buying any new yarn so it was really important to me to try to find some pattern to knit with it. The obvious first choice was a hat, which I tried. But something about it just looked really ugly (something about the epic level of shininess that is the main attribute of this yarn. )

I've had this sweater vest in my queue for a bit and have really wanted to knit it. It's just hard to tell if something like that will fit well or to know ahead of time which places in the pattern to modify. So I knit it.
 I didn't have enough yarn to knit it in one color. So it's striped. The design and construction of the vest makes the stripes a bit unfortunate. The colors also clash deliciously. See for yourself.

 I forget. US 11 or 13? 
Yarn: Loops & Threads Cozy Wool (3) balls purple and (.5) ball orange.

Overlooking the obvious, its a very nice vest and I would really like to knit it again in a solid color wool. I'd probably make some modifications. Only knit 8 inches or so before picking up the stitches and in short just making things a tiny bit shorter. (maybe knitting at a tighter gauge.)
In the meantime, while I'll probably refrain from wearing it in public, I'm enjoying my hideous vest.


Friday, November 23, 2012

Because I Can

Dear Blog,

I was knitting on my Vampire Boyfriend socks at work yesterday, getting perilously close to the beginning of the heel flap, and I must have zoned out because I somehow managed to cross my cable the wrong way.

First off, how the hell did I do that? The center cable is always a C4B. Always. It's never anything else. And the pattern is pretty easy to read and not at all confusing so why for the love of wool would I suddenly start knitting a different cable?  Anyway. The point is I noticed the mistake 3 or 4 rows after the fact and I thought myself. "Huh. I could fix that." But continued to knit. Even though the thought that this cable thingy was a mistake that I could easily fix without that much effort kept creeping into my mind, I ignored it. Because, hey, it's just one lousy cable right? Who'd notice?  That's why hand knits are so lovable anyway. All those mistakes.

Maybe. Maybe if I were a new knitter and I seriously thought I would have to tink back those 4 rows, fix the mistake, and then knit those four rows all over again. Maybe then that kind of laziness would be acceptable. But not for me. I knew I was just being unreasonably sloth-like, so eventually I dropped those four offending stitches. Pulled out the bad cable.

And used the little ladder-loops to put the cable back where it belongs.  It only took a few short minutes and not a lot of fuss, it looks the way it's supposed to and no-one will ever know that it was once crossed the wrong way.


I did it because I can. And it's really that simple.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

FO : Good Time Mitts

Hey blog!

There has been lots of knitting going on, both casting on new projects and finishing them.  I knit these mittens in two days. Impressed? You should be. Two days during work. I'm pretty happy/smug about that. I'm sure the knitting karma will catch up with me soon though.

In the Meantime :

Pattern : Good Time Mitts
Needles: US4
Yarn : Patons Classic wool

The black yarn isn't the best for photographing, huh?
I've got some neater things to show you soonish, but until then, chew on this.  My stash has totally been there to support me these past few months. Haven't bought any new yarn since before August!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

FO: NRS Sweater

Today's FO is the NRS - No Remorse Sweater.  It started out life hoping to be the Sideways Redux, but I realized that pattern was hopelessly too complicated for me and switched at the last minute. This pattern was pretty easy (Except for the whole button thing. More on that later ) and I would love to knit it again. Knit this with knit picks wool of the andes, which in hindsight is not really soft enough for a close-to-the-skien sweater. (Though fine for hats and the like.)

Yarn : Knit picks wool of the andes (about ) 4 balls
Needles : US5
Pattern : Safire
Cast on : Jan 2012
Cast Off : Nov 2012

Other than the slight itchyness, my only real complaint is that I managed to knit the top two button holes on one side of the sweater and the bottom two on the other side. No idea how that happened but it's making for some seriously awkward fastening. I may or may not ever put in the effort to figuring out a fix for this, since its really too itchy to wear anyway. The positive side of all this is that I can knit sweaters that fit me perfectly and that are good enough quality that I would wear them in public, so my sweater phobia is mostly gone now

obligatory boob shot?


Monday, November 5, 2012

FO : Selfish Set

Dear blog,

Today I'd like to show you a FO that I started way back in April. The Selfish scarf.

Pattern : One row handspun scarf
Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca (Brown), Manos Del Uruguay Maxima (purplish)
Start : April 2012
End : October 2012

This scarf started as I was feeling a little sorry for myself, I was still transitioning from big-store acrylic yarns, to nicer, fancier, stuff. To justify spending the money I mostly only knit things for other people with the nice yarn, so I bought these two skeins as "me skeins" so I could get some yummy hand-knits too. Although I did knit a whole lot of other stuff this year, the main reason it took so long for me to finish this project was because I was savoring it. The Manos has got to be my favorite yarn to just knit for the pure tactile pleasure of knitting, and I wanted to hold on to that feeling for as long as possible.  I had a significant amount left over, so I made some matching mittens to go with it.

Pattern : Urban Necessity Mitts
Needles : US4
Yarn : Same as above.

Even though the Berroco is super soft, and more than soft enough for around-the neck wear in the scarf, it turns out that it gives me an unpleasant ticklish feeling on my wrist when worn as mittens. (even though its technically just as soft as the Manos, the Manos is completely smooth and cushy, while the Berroco has that wirery hairy texture to it that makes it slightly itchy if you're sensitive to that kind of thing.)
It's a bit of disappointment. I'm going to try first washing them, and then just wearing them all day in an attempt to get used to the feeling. After that, I *might* have enough Manos left to squeeze out a second pair.
A note on the pattern, yes, I was cheap and didn't knit the fingers or the mitten cap. So why even bother using that pattern instead of any number of other fingerless mitt patterns?  Because I've knit it several times before and it was still in my queue when I was ready to cast on!

I'll probably be knitting loads of mittens this winter, so if you have a favorite pattern leave it in the comments :)

Until Next,