Friday, January 30, 2009

Parade of Christmas FOs - Part Three

And, finally, I knit my grandmother a lace stole: This was the last of the Christmas knitting to be completed - there was definitely some stress there as I was finishing the second half and grafting it the day before I flew home. The grafting? Major hassle and I can definitely see the line. While I like the concept of identical ends, I don't know if I can be bothered with that in the future. Someone remind me I said that as soon as I cast on something that will require it...
Project Stats: Waves of Grain Stole
Pattern: Waves of Grain, by Rosemary Hill, from Knitty Fall 2008. Raveled here.
Yarn: Zephyr Wool-silk, colorway Curry, purchased at Acorn Street.
Needles: Knit Picks Harmony bamboo straights, size 4.
Time to knit: October 15 - December 20, 2008.
Modifications: Aside from making it shorter (only 52"), I also added extra beads on the first row because I misread the chart and thought that the "b" meant bead when it actually meant knit through the back loop. So, I repeated that error on the second half, and I think it's nice actually. I would do it again - it adds extra weight to the end of the stole and it's shiny.
Impressions: This was fun! I really enjoy knitting lace even though (or perhaps because) I do it fairly infrequently and generally complain about it when I'm not physically working on it. I decided that I wanted to knit my grandmother something nice this year, and I had this yarn laying around from the Swallowtail Shawl I made my aunt (her daughter) last year, and it was a match made in heaven. The Knit Picks Harmony needles are great for lace - nice sharp tips, not too slippery. The only problem, and this is likely just me, is that they're 10" and I prefer 9" because I knit with my needles propped on my stomach and 10" is a tad too long. But, I got used to it. You can get a lot of lace out of a skein/ball of Zephyr. I believe I started with 4 oz, knit this and the Swallowtail, and still have a ton left. Probably enough for another thing of similar size, which makes Zephyr an absolutely great deal. I think I paid $17 for the ball and that's a lot of bang for the buck!
My only real issue with this was that I had a tough time with the grafting. It was completely nerve-racking the entire time (almost 2 hours) because I was SO worried about screwing it up/dropping a stitch/not lining it up/etc. Part of that was because I was finishing this close to Christmas and I knew there wasn't really any room for error, but I think it would have been stressful regardless. And I thought grafting was supposed to be invisible, and although my line of stitches matches really well and looks like perfect stockinette, there is definitely a shadow there that I wish wasn't. But, it's certainly not something that detracts from the piece and maybe it's just an inherent problem with grafting in thin, light-colored yarn? Feel free to reassure me on this, or contradict it - if I need to figure out a better way to graft I'd like to know now before I screw it up again!
My grandmother loved the stole, and was totally impressed with it. I'm glad that she liked it - I'm always really happy when people like and appreciate the things I knit for them. I knit this for her because I knew she would both appreciate it and use it, so I'm quite satisfied.
Oh, and these photos, with the actual snow, were also taken when I was in PA, when it snowed again just before I came back to Seattle. The weather was really all over the place...
So ends the parade of Christmas knits - now onto the more current projects, although there will still be gift knitting involved!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Parade of Christmas FOs - Part Two

Okay! The second large Christmas gift that I knit this year was a vest for my dad, which I had been meaning to knit for a couple of years. I wanted to knit it last year but ended up making socks instead because I hadn't found a good vest pattern. The year before I made felted clogs. You'd think finding a simple men's vest pattern would be easy, but apparently not. I apologize to my dad for these photos, which I took candidly while he was showing Dave around his workplace, Organ Supply Industries. So you know, they make pipe organs and parts, not livers and kidneys. It's a really cool place and I always like visiting. Big pipes, sheets of metal for making pipes, fancy woodworking, etc.
Project Stats: Dad's Vest
Pattern: Based on the Argyle Vest from Knitting Classic Style, obviously without the argyles and with a different bottom edging. Raveled here.
Yarn: Jo Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed, in Cedar, about 6 skeins. Yarn purchased at Acorn Street in 2005(!) - note use of stash...
Needles: Clover bamboo circulars, size 5 (ribbing) and 6 (body).
Time to knit: September 27-December 16, 2008. There was a delay there while I hunted down appropriate needles for the armhole ribbing and mustered up the courage to pick up all those stitches.
Modifications: Oh, lord, where to begin. Obviously, no argyling. I did think about that, and I have this yarn in a different color as well, but I wasn't really sure about my dad's feelings on argyle. I also knit ribbing at the bottom instead of doing a sewn-under hem. More on that later. And, I converted this to the round until I had to split for the armholes/v-neck, which made the whole thing go much faster. As I've mentioned, I don't like seaming. I did do a faux seam with a line of purl stitches up the sides. I'm hopeful that this yarn has enough structure that it's not going to stretch ridiculously without seams. Oh, and I did shortrows and a three-needle bindoff for the shoulder shaping/seaming instead of doing stepped bind-offs. Why patterns don't use shortrows for this I really don't understand. SO easy, SO neat, and SO much easier to seam. Do they think shortrows are too hard? They're really not.
Impressions: First off, I love this yarn. I bought it quite awhile ago and have enough for a sweater for myself in another color and probably a vest for myself left in this color. So, it's good that I like it. I'm a big fan of tweeds, which is clear looking through my stash but maybe not so obvious when looking at my projects because I'm keeping it for myself and most of what I seem to finish are gifts. I had a good time knitting this, I'm a big fan of large things knit in the round, no purling, just round and round. That said, I think this came out a bit big for my dad. I measured one of his vests the last time I was at home so I'd have something to go off of, and this is actually not that different in size, but somehow it seems really baggy. Part of it is the ribbing at the bottom, which doesn't pull in like I was expecting/hoping. That's what my dad is used to, so this is a bit more casual than what he usually wears to work. It's also a bit big in the back - definitely a comfort vest as opposed to a form-fitting dressy one. But, I'm hoping he'll get some use out of it!

While I'm on a roll with this, I also made Anne-Marie a scarf:

Project Stats: Juliet Scarf for Anne-Marie

Pattern: Juliet, from Knitting Little Luxuries. Raveled here.

Yarn: Elsebeth Lavold Angora, cherry red, about 3.5 skeins.

Needles: Size 9 Clover bamboo.

Time to knit: October 7-November 23, 2008.

Modifications: None aside from using bigger yarn and bigger needles than the pattern suggested.

Impressions: This was a nice knit, although it's impossible to photograph. That's not its fault of course, it's my fault for using red fuzzy yarn. My camera doesn't do well with either, so this is a double-whammy of photographic misery. Neither of the photos is really an accurate representation of the color. I used bigger yarn because Anne-Marie moved back to the great white north this fall, and it's cold there, and I figured something warm would be more appropriate than something dainty. I'd been meaning to use this yarn for her for some time, so I was glad to find a pattern that suited it. As for the pattern itself, I absolutely couldn't remember it, even by the end, which was frustrating. Not that it was hard, the lace panel on the left just wasn't intuitive for me.

Next, up, the Waves of Grain stole!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Happy Inauguration!

Obama cookie
Originally uploaded by Emily E.M.
Check out the sugar cookies they're selling at our coffee bar today! It's good to work in a liberal environment :)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Parade of Christmas FOs - Part One

So, of course I meant to show off the Christmas knits much sooner, but then laziness life got in the way and so on. To make matters worse, I actually uploaded these photos ages ago but then discovered that posts don't write themselves. But, without further ado, let me show you the Christmas knitting!
In addition to the mittens I knit for my cousin (here), I knit several large (time-consuming) gifts for Christmas this year. The first of them was the Lady Eleanor stole that I knit for my mother:

By the way, this was December 27th. Note the complete lack of snow. In western PA. When I arrived home on the 22nd (at 5:00am - I had a real adventure getting to PA from Seattle, but thankfully I did arrive without anywhere near the hassle that many people had. When I have the strength perhaps I'll talk about it.), there was a ton of snow, which promptly melted and then fell again just as I was leaving. Such is life. Anyway, the stole...

Project Stats: Mom's Lady Eleanor

Pattern: Lady Eleanor, by Kathleen Power Johnson, from Scarf Style. Raveled here.

Yarn: Noro Silk Garden, colorway 221, about 9 skeins. Yarn purchased from Little Knits.

Needles: Size 9 bamboo circulars.

Time to knit: July 15-August 21, 2008. Talk about getting a head start on the Christmas knitting! This was my Ravelympics project, although I did start a tad early because I was so excited to get going.

Modifications: I made this stole two squares narrower than the pattern suggests. I find mine to be a bit cumbersome and I thought something slightly narrower would be easier to wear.

Impressions: I'm really happy with this, In fact, I like it much better than the one I made myself, and I did contemplate keeping it and giving my mother mine, which she's seen and liked. I love, no, adore, Noro Silk Garden. I know a lot of people complain about Noro yarns having random bits of grass/sticks/etc in them, and being scratchy, but to me this is part of their appeal. Plus, Silk Garden? Not scratchy. I like the "rusticness" of Noro, and use it whenever I can. It's such perfect yarn for this project, and it really does get even softer upon blocking. This pattern is really fun - enterlac looks all tricky and complicated but it's really easy if you just trust that it's going to work out, and it's addicting because you always want to do just one more square. My mother was very happy with this and wore it often while I was home, and I don't think that's just because I was watching...but if it was, I don't want to know. So, I count this one a resounding success!

Next up, the vest of improvisation...