Friday, April 27, 2007

Organizing the stash

My Secret Pal 10 hostess, Shelby, is having a contest for her group, and wants us to show off our stashes, and how we organize them. Of course I am happy to oblige, because I love my yarn stash (Mom, please don't kill me. I know it's excessive, but there could be stuff for you in there.) and reorganizing it a bit for a photo shoot is always fun!I have a gigantic walk-through closet, and the yarn has a prominent place under my skirts and pants (pardon the mess on top - it tends to be a catch-all space for clothes that need to be rehung). The stash lived mostly in boxes until I bought these wire organizing things at Target last summer. I like it much better this way. The wire bins allow the yarn to "breathe," plus I can see it all, and it's lovely and makes me happy every time I look at it. There is quite a bit more in a box to the right, but although it's organized in the box, it's not photogenic. There is a fair bit of organization to the stash, at least in that the upper right bin is almost all sock yarn, and the left two bins are all sweater yarns and assorted Cascade 220 for felting projects. The upper middle bin is meant to be lace and scarf yarn, but there are interlopers a plenty in there, including the Manos stash (bottom of upper bin - there is also some red Manos hiding in the upper left bin, on the top). The lower middle bin contains a bunch of cotton blends and Cascade Jewel (the lovely purple), as well as some grey Cascade Pastaza (scarf for Dave), dark blue Malabrigo (not sure, but it's for me. No way I'm giving it up.). The pretty jewel tone skein on the top right of the bin is Schaefer Marjaana, which I had completely forgotten about. While these bins are great and the yarn looks pretty, they're also quite deep, so there is a lot of pretty yarn hiding in the back, which occasionally slips my mind. I keep towels covering the bottom bins because Oliver tends to get curious about the yarn, and he's already had one trip to the vet for a yarn-related emergency (when he was a wee kitten), and we don't care to repeat that. Better safe than sorry, but he is a good guard cat for the stash. Lest you think I acquired a ton of yarn since last summer, trust that that is not entirely the case. Oliver laid down here during a previous reorganization of the stash, when most of the yarn was spread all over out of camera range...That said, I see some yarn here (almost everything in the lower right bin) that I know I haven't used yet, and that I didn't see yesterday evening. Wonder where it's run off to?

The hunt through the stash inspired me to start a pair of plain stockinette socks, so I cast on a pair last night. I'm making them toe-up, using Wendy's new toe method, described here (on April 25th). I'm using some of the Monarch sock yarn I bought at Madrona (second from the right, Purdy Plum), and it's going quite well so far. I'm not generally so big on the toe-up socks, but I decided I wanted to use all the yarn and make long socks, so I figured I'd give it a go. Just so you're not concerned, I have NOT abandoned the Jewel cardigan. I finished the second sleeve last night, but I want to block it before I do the button bands, so that's where we are. I'll post some photos of it this weekend. I am also still entranced by my Fair Isle mitts, and will probably start the second one this weekend as well. The stockinette sock is to fulfill the requirement for a totally mindless project (and to get through some of the sock yarn, which is overwhelming when I see it all together in the closet).
To my Secret Pal, I got your card yesterday, thank you! I do not in any way feel neglected, so you needn't worry! I hope things are going better for you, and I'm happy to hear you're also having a lovely spring. Duke was my second choice for graduate school, and I remember people saying during my interview how lovely it was there in the spring!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Lots o' knitting

Lots of knitting was accomplished this weekend. Why I'm not getting around to posting about it until Wednesday is a mystery, even to me, your esteemed (ha!) author. Dave was off racing his bicycle all weekend, so the only interruption to my knitting time was this little guy. Oliver managed to plop himself right in my knitting space whever I got up for another Diet Pepsi (I think I drank 3 of them a day both Saturday and Sunday, plus a lot of tea. I believe in caffeine. And hydration.). By Sunday night that pile of blue had turned into this, an almost-completed Short-sleeve Cardigan with Ribbing (aka Jewel sweater):While this photo seriously lacks color accuracy, it shows off the shape/stitches/etc quite well. You can see that all I have left is the sleeves and button bands. I actually knit the first sleeve last night, and now that I can try it on (I had the sleeve stitches on stitch holders, which were much too small for my burly arms to fit through), I think it should fit, once I get the button bands on, although the ribbing bit is REALLY tight. Knitting that ribbing almost killed me - I was in such a hurry with this sweater because I love the yarn and I'm so excited to have it done. It's like an obsession. This picture shows the color more accurately:At about 10:00 Saturday evening I decided I should really break out my Endpaper Mitts, which had been sadly neglected during the one-track-mind knitting of this sweater. These are my first Fair Isle project, and although it was slow-going at first, I find the process SO addicting. I was up until 1:00 with them. I intended to Tivo the Columbo episode that was on at 11:00, but I ended up being so into the knitting that I stayed up (with decaf tea - it was too late for the Diet Pepsi) for the whole episode. By Sunday evening I had this:Done except for the thumb ribbing, and a tremendous sense of accomplishment! Sorry the photo is a bit blurry - you get the idea, and when there are two of them they'll get a proper photo shoot. Several of the Fiberphiles got together Sunday to knit at Lighthouse Roasters coffee shop, and I was so proud to get to show off my almost-completed mitt (I finished the patterned part while I was there) because this had been a mostly stealth project. I'm going to cast on the second one at knitting club tonight, and I hope to finish it by the end of the April/May Project: Spectrum period. About that - please not to mention the green socks I'm making. You'll notice I've not talked about them lately. This is because I'm not working on them, having made an error last time I had them out. I think I might have fixed it but honestly I'm afraid to go back to them and discover a frameshift that requires ripping/reknitting/binning them all together. So I'm avoiding them. Don't judge.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Spring is in the Air

Unlike most of the country, Spring is in full effect here in Seattle, and has been for several weeks. Spring is probably the loveliest season here as the flowers and trees really go all-out to put on a good show. As I've mentioned before, fall is actually my favorite season, but it just isn't the same as the autumn I grew up with on the East Coast. That said, spring is WAY better here (aside from the rain, which is what makes the pretty flowers, so I guess we can live with it!). These photos were taken this past Sunday at the Washington Park Arboretum, which is a lovely place. I have been working a lot on my Jewel cardigan, but I'm a bit behind where I want to be because I was at a meeting until 9:30 last night (yes, 9:30 PM), so not much knitting was accomplished. Dave and I had planned to watch Rear Window, so we did, and the staying up late has left me quite tired today. I must admit I'm not well-versed in "the Classics" when it comes to movies, but I really enjoyed Rear Window. I can totally see myself spying on my neighbors and getting all obsessed curious about what they're up to. Can't you? I think the voyeur tendency is latent in all of us...
Not sure if I've mentioned this, but I'm taking a Pilates class, and it's totally kicking my ass abs. It's really quite difficult, but I love the soreness that results! I realize this is weird, but I LOVE being sore after workouts/hiking/etc. Gives me a feeling of accomplishment! I'm really enjoying the class, and it's good for me because I don't generally do much for my "powerhouse." Legs, yes, arms, yes (lately), abs? Not so much. The worst part is that the class is at 8:10, at the gym that is a 20 minute (brisk) bike ride from home. So I have to get up much earlier than I'd like. But, that is also good for me...

Monday, April 16, 2007

Chargin' right along

Progress has been made!

I'm currently at the mid-back of my "Short-Sleeved Cardigan with Ribbing" (proper name), which I'm calling the Jewel cardigan, after the yarn I'm using, Cascade Jewel. The wide bits are the tops of the raglan sleeves, and the holes you see are from the increases along the raglan 'seams.' I am LOVING knitting this cardigan. I love the yarn (check out the subtle varigation, and the texture), I love the size 10.5 needles (actual progress!), and I really love that I won't have to seam anything when I'm done knitting. The only finishing will be the buttonband, and I'm good at picking up stitches so I don't foresee any procrastination with the finishing on this sweater.

Thank you to Marisol (go check out all her pretty green Project Spectrum yarn!) for directing me to the Fitted Knits Knitalong, which I've joined. It's full of lovely projects and inspiration!

Anne-Marie, Jennifer, and I drove down to Sea-Tac for the Seattle Knitting & Fiber Arts Festival on Saturday, and it was SUCH a HUGE disappointment. To all of you that I tried to talk into coming with us, be glad you didn't bother. I went to this fiber festival last year and thought it was great, even better than Madrona (mainly because the market included more vendors), so I was looking forward to it, but it was awful. There were only a few vendors, and really only a couple of them were worthwile. I was hoping to find solid(ish) sock yarn, some Cookie A patterns, and anything else that really struck my fancy. Well, I got the patterns, at Crown Mountain Farms (they had lovely yarn/fiber as well, but nothing I needed), but that was all. Jennifer bought two skeins of sock yarn, and Anne-Marie bought a shawl pattern, and that was IT. Truly a poor showing. We did make up for it at Little Knits, where I bought additional yarn to finish my Jewel sweater (not breaking the yarn fast) and some of the same yarn in purple (This is borderline fast-breaking. I have three skeins of this yarn in the stash, and I bought three more because she is closing out this line, and I realized when I started the blue sweater that three skeins isn't enough for much, and if I'm going to have the yarn I should have enough to DO something with that's not just a scarf/hat, so I bought more in the same dye lot, which I won't be able to acquire later, so that the initial skeins don't just incubate in the stash forever. I realize that was a horribly punctuated, run-on sentence but I had to justify myself.). I also bought a great Jo Sharp magazine/book (Jo Sharp Knit: Issue 2) at Little Knits that has LOADS of lovely and wearable garments, and an adorable hat (go look, I'll wait) that is going high on the must-knit list. Back in Seattle, Anne-Marie and I went to Acorn Street, where I used my gift card from my birthday last May (given to me by Dave, a man who knows how to keep a girl happy), to acquire some yarn for my next project, but I will save that for another post. Oh, that is ALSO not breaking the yarn fast, because the gift card was a GIFT, and it had to be used by this May or it would start losing value. And gifts are totally allowed. My birthday is May 11th. Just so you know : )

Friday, April 13, 2007

A New Obsession

Remember how I said I was really really wanting to start knitting a sweater from Fitted Knits, and how I almost bought the yarn for it last week? Well, I started it last night!

This is a much better photo than the one I posted of this sweater earlier, and now I can tell you that it's the "Short-Sleeved Cardigan" from Fitted Knits. I am using Cascade Jewels, and the color in the photo is astonishingly accurate, but a bit bright. I started this last night, at about 11:30, and got gauge on size 10.5 needles (the pattern calls for 10s - I'm a tight knitter so the upsizing is no surprise). So, embolded by getting gauge on my first attempt, I started the collar, which is knit on size 8s. I was tired, but invigorated, and was only forced to stop due to a lack of size 10.5 circular needles, of any length. Now, I'm going to a fiber festival tomorrow (hoping to NOT buy much yarn, just to browse. We all know I have more than enough yarn), but I decided that I CANNOT wait until then to get a needle, so I drove to work today (I usually bike) so I could head to the LYS on my way home. I MUST knit on this sweater!!! Tonight! Not tomorrow! Unless that's in addition to tonight! The sweater is knit seamlessly (we know how I hate seaming) from the top-down and that combined with the fairly large-gauge means that I might actually finish this with some degree of efficiency. I don't remember if I mentioned this, but I only had three skeins of this yarn in the stash, and I was hunting around for more before casting on, in case I couldn't find it. Well, Anne-Marie has come through with two skeins, so off I go!!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Easter Treats!

This post is seriously late, and I apologize, but things have been chaotic. Why overdue? I got a package from my Secret Pal on Saturday, and I'm just now posting! This box was a really nice Easter surprise!

My secret pal sent me lovely Lorna's Laces sock yarn, in Purple Iris (beautiful color choice!), along with some Easter goodies. I will admit that my breakfast on Saturday consisted of those sour gummy worms and a diet pepsi while I got ready for Rembrandt's wedding. The chocolate bar is so cute, I almost don't want to open it up. I'm going to try to save the wrapper if possible, and it looks like it might have a card or bookmark inside (that butterfly is on a string, and it moves). There were also some Easter shortbread cookies, which I've been enjoying one per evening. Thank you Secret Pal, and I'm SO sorry it took me so long to post about my package!!!

About Rembrandt's wedding, I know you're all eagerly awaiting the photos, so here is a sneak peak until I can write up a proper post. I'm giving a talk on Friday so I've been really busy getting ready for that, but I will TRY to post more tomorrow.

This dress was SO fun!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Almost, but not quite...

Friends, last night I had a moment of weakness, and I came THIS close to buying yarn. THIS close. Why didn't I? Was it the fast, and the guilt that would come from breaking it? While that did repeatedly cross my mind, I mentally pushed it aside and continued looking for the perfect yearn for 25 minutes. You are my friends, so I can honestly tell you that the only thing that stopped me was the lack of appropriate yarn. Really. If Weaving Works had had something perfect, I'd have bought it in a heartbeat.
For the most part I've been preventing myself from acquiring yarn by avoiding temptation, although I have been to the yarn shops many times since the great yarn fast of 2007 began, mostly buying needles/stitch markers/etc. No yarn. I've been very well-behaved. But yesterday I went in to get some yarn for my Secret Pal, since I really must get her first package in the mail, and it occured to me that this week has been busy and stressful and next week will be worse, and boy I could really use a new large project that would go quickly. I had a sweater from Fitted Knits in mind (the yellow one). It's knit in a relatively bulky (3.5 st/inch) yarn, Cascade 128. I was thinking this would be good for spring/summer, and thus wanted something that was NOT 100% wool, especially because all the plant fiber yarns and blends are 20% off this month at Weaving Works. Then I was thinking that 100% cotton may not be ideal either, given the gauge and the potential sag factor, but that became a non-issue because there were no cotton blends at close to this yarn weight, and only one 100% cotton yarn, which I didn't like the look of for this sweater. Of course this led me to the wools, and I had to back away slowly from the Manos, which would be perfect for this, but would, of course, cost an arm and two legs, which I don't have to spare. So, of a mixed mind I left the store, depressed to have not purchased any sweater yarn, and smug in the fact that I didn't purchase any yarn.
When I got home I examined the stash, and discovered that I have some potentially appropriate yarn, Cascade Jewels. This is a hand-dyed yarn, similar in tonality to almost-solid Manos. Of course I don't have enough of any one color for the sweater, but I have an email into Little Knits, where I bought the yarn just before Christmas, inquiring about more. THIS purchase would not break the yarn fast, because it would be buying yarn to finish a project that is in progress (assuming I start it before the check is cashed). I realize this yarn is 100% wool, and that was not really what I was going for, so I'm still hemming and hawing. I could of course use a thin cotton (or maybe bamboo) doubled, so there is still hope for the plant fibers. I'll keep you all posted.
One of my best friends is getting married tomorrow, and the wedding/reception is "fancy or fanciful dress." I have rented an 1800s Southern belle dress, hoop skirts and all. Should be quite a to-do! Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Green and pink and yellow oh my!

First off, I want to say thank you to everyone who said such nice things about my asymmetrical tank top/vest! I'm so glad that you all liked it, and that you think it's flattering (you're not just saying that, are you?). As I said Monday, I have finished another long-languishing project, but I'm going to postpone showing that to you since it hasn't yet had its photo shoot.

April and May bring a new set of colors for Project Spectrum: Green, pink, and yellow. Lolly posted some lovely photos of her pink and green yarns, and I thought I would do the same. The pink and green is all I have; I discovered no yellow yarns anywhere in the stash, except hiding a bit in some of the green yarns.

I'll take you on a brief tour of the box. Standing in the back is the sock yarn stash - STR in Apple Valley Road and Tide Pool, Monarch sock yarn in Ivy, and STR in Nodding Violet. The pink skein on the right is Knit Picks Gossamer in Sweet Pea (laceweight). The thin green skein leaning on the sock yarn is some Rowan 4-ply that I purchased from my favorite Ebay seller, Cucumberpatch UK. When I ordered this I had NO concept of how thin it would be, but I'm actually using it for a project now and it's quite nice. There is also some Cashmerino Aran, Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran Tweed (enough for a sweater! Not in the box, but in the stash), and some Karabella Aurora 8. There is also some green banana silk (under the blob in the front) and some green Cascade Cotton (next to the banana silk). The bright blob in the front is about 600 yards of Kona superwash fingering weight that I dyed last spring. I think there is enough for knee-socks, so that is the plan. The cake on the front left is Zephyr merino/silk laceweight in Bottle Green, purchased this year at Madrona. The chartruese skeins under the Zephyr are a prize I won in Scout's Dye-O-Rama swap last year, and they're a bit bright for my tastes but I do have something in mind for them.

So, what am I going to do with all this green? I have three green projects on the needles, one of which is very old, one which I started a few weeks back but haven't blogged about yet, and another which is brand spankin' new and not yet blogworthy. Here we go:

The old project is the Elfine socks, which I started last May, during the green month of the first Project Spectrum.

I realize this is a horrible photo, but this yarn (also dyed by moi) is very difficult to photograph. I might have better luck in real light, but this is what we have so we're going with it. These socks have been a saga. I started them last May, as I mentioned, and they are well-traveled. They went to Chicago when I visited Heidi and attended my college reunion, and then they went to England. While en route the stitches got a bit antsy and some jumped off the needle, and they were put down for the duration of that trip, and indeed until about August when I finally fixed them and promptly put them back to rest. I picked them up again this weekend, and I quickly finished the foot and completed (with Rachel's help) my first short-row heel. Now I'm on my way up the leg, but I'm a bit worried about the distance between the heel and the instep, which seems awfully small. I'm going to knit a bit further so I can try them on and then see what I have. These are my first toe-up socks so it's all an experiment at this point!

The other green project is Eunny's Endpaper Mitts, which I started a few weeks ago. This is my first Fair-isle, and I'm enjoying it but it's slow-going for me as I haven't really figured out how to hold my yarns properly. I don't wrap the yarn around my fingers when I knit, which isn't usually a problem, but for this it's slow because I have to keep picking up the correct yarn, and they're always getting twisted. But, I will prevail, and maybe if I'm nice Rachel will teach me to knit continental and then I can hold yarn in each hand and fly through these! The green here is the Rowan 4-ply I mentioned earlier, and the ivory is something else Rowan that I can't be bothered with finding the band for right now. This project is living in an adorable green metal lunchbox that Heidi sent me for Christmas, which is ALSO Project Spectrum appropriate!

I'm hoping to get at least one of these projects finished by the end of May, and hopefully both. I must admit I forgot I had that Aurora 8, so I might also do something with that. I intended it for the Ruffles scarf from Scarf Style, but my first attempt was much too tight and I ripped it out. The Silkroad Aran Tweed is intended for Demi, from Vintage Knits, but it doesn't seem like the right time of year to be starting a wool cabled sweater (To me. Rachel just started one and it's lovely so far, and let's face it, you can wear wool sweaters all year in Seattle, but I'm in spring/summer mode now). My three current projects are probably all the green I need anyway, at least this year - I can only knit so fast, right?

Oh, I got a lovely card from my Secret Pal yesterday - thank you!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Asymmetrical tank finito

Well, my fears have come true, and the finished "asymmetrical v-neck cable tank" is a bit longer than ideal for me. This baby grew to epic proportions in the blocking, as I eluded to last week. It looks pretty good in that photo, but the full-body shot, well, I'm not so sure how often I'll be wearing this little number. I like it, I think it's cool, but I'm not sure how flattering it really is on me.Project Stats: Asymmetrical v-neck tank

Pattern: Asymmetrical v-neck tank, from Loop-d-Loop

Yarn: Rowan Polar (sadly discontinued), just over 3 skeins. Yarn obtained from my favorite Ebay pusher seller.

Needles: Clover size 11 24" circular, and a giant crochet hook for the edging.

Time to knit: Early February-March 30, 2007. There was a pause while I figured out how to do the crochet edging around the armpits and bottom, but the actual knitting was really quick.

Impressions: Well. The pattern was straight-forward, aside from figuring out which decrease I was supposed to be using at any given point. I also didn't agree with the increase method (knit front and back) suggested in the pattern and instead did all my increases as raised-bar types (probably not the correct technical term) because I thought they fit in more seamlessly. The huge cable was fun, and the giant yarn made the project go really quickly. I enjoyed knitting with the Rowan Polar, and I'm glad I have 20 more skeins (10 each in ivory and dark red) in the stash. I apologize that you can't see the cable detailing well in the photos - the light blue yarn has been exceedingly difficult to photograph throughout this project, which is why you haven't seen any progress photos. I made the woman's small size with 4 extra stitches to get the correct bust size, and I think that worked out rather well. I think the vest actually fits quite well, and like it's supposed to, except that I am not a stick like the model. Well, that and I didn't wash my swatch (yeah, yeah, yeah), although even if I had known the thing was going to grow like this I probably wouldn't have done much about it, since the pattern can't really be made shorter easily, without chopping off a huge piece of the cable. There is a shorter version on the Loop-d-Loop webpage, but it's not in the book, and although I could surely have figured it out (I am in graduate school after all), I didn't worry about it. I'm pretty happy with my crochet edging, and glad to have gotten that skill under my belt. Thank yous to Anne-Marie and Jennifer for helping me with that.

This was my second blue finished object for February/March Project Spectrum, AND, this weekend I finally finished something else that is turquoise and thus a good blend of the blue (Feb./Mar.) and green (April/May) PS colors, but that finished object can wait a few days for its debut.