Saturday, August 16, 2008

Hybrid Vigor

Something odd happened to my knitter's brain the last few months: not only did I stop knitting altogether, but I did so just after finishing what is easily the most demanding project I have ever attempted, and couldn't even be bothered to take some pictures and write a post.

Then I quit my job, and that very afternoon I found myself sitting at my kitchen table and I felt... restless, somehow... itchy-fingered... it took me a few minutes to recognize it, but let's just say I've cast on at least 4 things since then. So I've got all sorts of things to show and tell, but I can't let THIS go any longer.

The Lady models The Hybrid.

I sort of can't believe it really worked out. I started imagining this mutt of a sweater almost a year ago. I had loved Eunny's Venezia Pullover from the first moment I got a peek at it but was a bit overwhelmed by the enormity of the thing. And I loved Road to Golden but didn't feel the geometric pattern would be terribly flattering on me. So the seeds of a hybrid started germinating...

Honestly, combining these two patterns was entirely straightforward. I essentially followed the pattern for Golden, adjusting the numbers for a sportweight yarn based on my swatches, and substituting the brocade pattern from Venezia for the diamondy, argyley thing that Golden's got going on. I of course had to adjust the colorwork pattern horizontally to make sure it was centered, given my total stitch count, but that was the heaviest math involved.

I did more bust increases than called for and left out the gussets, which in retrospect may have been a poor choice, fit-wise, but I do think it makes the patterns come together more cleanly.

The colorwork sleevecaps are basically made up on the fly. I wanted something a little rounder and smoother looking than the simple stripes from the Golden sleeves, so I improvised these. I'm fairly pleased.

All in all, this is both my proudest knitting achievement, and my greatest disappointment.

The disappointment is due solely to the fact that the damn thing doesn't fit. I gained 10 lbs this spring, and this sweater would have been annoyingly snug even on the slightly svelter body that I started knitting it for. It just didn't grow as much as my swatch did when I blocked it. Luckily I have a girlfriend slightly smaller than myself who doesn't resent the fact that this cute little garment didn't start life with her in mind. (AND will model for pictures on the hottest day of the year. Such a trooper.)

I'll probably get more satisfaction out of seeing it on her than I would out of wearing it myself, anyway.

All the basic stats are on Ravelry, but it's been so long that I'm sure I'm leaving out some relevant details, so feel free to ask questions! And thanks again for sticking around through my highly spotty blog attendance. :)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


So, I kind of disappeared, huh? Well, I'm getting my feet under me again, and I may just become less of a sorry excuse for a blogger here any day now. My life is really, really fucking great right now, but I am pushing myself to the limit and will be for another couple weeks at least. But I'm here because I missed y'all, a lot. (And thank you thank you thank you to everybody that emailed me making sure I was ok. It meant more to me than I would have imagined to get unsolicited just-checkingin emails from people I've never "met". I truly love our little corner of the internet.)

So yes, I'm back, and here's a smattering of what I've been up to:

1. I got into nursing school, and gave my notice at work. I could NOT be happier with this turn of events.

2. I joined the cowl craze. Details here.

3. I ate some tasty foods.

4. I blocked a sweater. (!!!) FO post to follow, very very soon.

Aaaah -- it's nice to be back.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Accidental Fire.

I didn't think I'd do much in the way of intentional Project Spectrum-age this year (the Ribbed Lace Bolero was entirely incidental), but when I was deciding which of my single socks to finally pair off, the classical elements seemed as good a means as any for making an arbitrary decision.

I stand by it, too, because seriously, why did I let this singleton linger so long? These puppies belong on feet. Preferably mine.

Pattern: Twisted Tweed, by Schrodinger
Yarn: Trekking XXL, in Color 147
Needles: US 1s

At any rate, by halfway through the second sock I was hooked on this whole element thing. Maybe because I saw this, and like everyone else and their respective uncles, I had to make one. I was looking for something, ideally a non-sock something, to do with my pretty but bound-to-pool Shibui sock yarn, and clearly this was it. And it's orange! So obviously I had to finish the above sock before midnight last night in order to cast on for this before PS: FIRE ran out. Which I still maintain is totally logical, but I'm sort of glad none of my housemates asked me to explain.

And just wait till you see what I've got cooking for PS: EARTH. Er... actually you've already seen most of it, but this time I'm actually going to finish something during the allotted time, rather than just start it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Road to Venezia

Okay, so that was a little harder than I thought. But two of you guessed one of the designs, and since Sula already owns both books (and has an unfair advantage anyway since she apparently shares half of my knitting brain), our winner is the lovely Ms. Macoco. (Check your email!)

So yes: I'm taking the Venezia Pullover and Road to Golden, smashing them together, shaking well, and hoping they'll make beautiful babies. Horribly mixed metaphors aside, I'm frankly not positive this is a well-conceived plan.

Roughly speaking, the construction is mostly Golden, the colorwork pattern is all Venezia. That much should go fine. But between the coarser gauge and the simpler color scheme (I've scaled back from 10 colors to 5), I'm starting to worry that I'll sabotage what should be a beautiful brocade pattern and look instead like I've plastered myself in wallpaper. But maybe not. It could be gorgeous and intricate and awesome, or even garish in a cute way -- I'm remaining optimistic for now. Should I totally hate it, I can always rip back the colorwork portion, order more brown, and make a yoked sweater instead.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

(Con)testing your skillz.

It's getting to be that time of year when I've fully recovered my post xmas mojo and harness it to knit myself a sweater that will be done just in time for the temperatures to preclude wearing it until next fall. I am nothing if not predictable. (I KNOW I could knit a summer garment, but I just don't want to, okay?)

Last year it was the stripey hourglass. This year I'm hybridizing two recent* sweater patterns, and I want YOU to guess which two. (There's something in it for you, as you might've guessed.) This was going to be my blogthday contest, and then it was going to be my knittiversary contest, but various factors intervened, and now it's a Just Because contest. You get three hints:

1. The authors of the two respective patterns are colleagues. (And not just in the sense that they're both knitwear designers -- they're employed by the same company.)

2. The titles of both patterns are at least vaguely geographical in theme.

3. One of the patterns is written for a fingering weight yarn, and the other for a worsted. I'm splitting the difference and using a sport weight:

Why yes, I AM more concerned with st gauge than row gauge. What tipped you off?

I'm only showing you the stockinette swatch, because obviously the pattern swatch would give away at least one of the two answers. But if you know my tendencies at all, the fact that I knit a pattern swatch in the first place might tell you something.

I can't tell if this is going to be super easy or super hard. I mean, it obvious to me because I already know. I've been thinking about this for months now and can't see it with an outsider's eyes. So if either lots of folks or nobody guesses correctly, I'll draw randomly. Partial credit may work in your favor. :)

And what do you stand to win?

We are loneleeeee and unused.

I've realized that owning knitting books is a silly venture for me. I rarely want to knit more than one or two patterns from any given book, and my library is great for that sort of thing. These are both lovely books, very lightly used, and I feel bad letting them sit on my shelf.

Comment by midnight PST on Friday, 3/7/08 with your guesses and which book you'd prefer, and I'll reveal the winner early next week. Good luck!!

*ETA: 'recent' = published in the last two years.

Friday, February 29, 2008


Over time I've learned that if I let a project sit on the needles for too long (read: many months) it will get frogged. I don't think this is a bad thing, necessarily. You start to think how you're not knitting that thing because stockinette in a cotton blend hurts your hands, and how the lace panel isn't quite what you want it to be, and how probably that pattern looks better on skinny girls anyway.

Or at least, that's what I got to thinking about Rusted Root. So it got cannibalized.

The ribbed lace bolero is such a cute, quick, smart little knit that I knew I had to make one. And I had a perfect opportunity, too.

My sister was born the day I turned 5 and a half, so my birthday is her half birthday and vice versa. Her whole life, I've given her a little half bday present on MY birthday, and she does the same, so when I turned 26 last week, I figured this little bolero (which is so exactly her style) would be the perfect twenty-and-a-halfth gift.

Pattern: Ribbed lace bolero, by Kelly Maher
Yarn: Cascade Sierra, in ginger, 1.5 skeins
Needles: US9 and US10, I think.

It stretches out a bit with wear, and my sewn bind off is a little wobbly, but I love the lace pattern and how it drapes in this yarn. Especially around the arm. Verdict? A winner. I'd love to try it in a 100% wool, too.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Blue x 2

After that needlessly drawn out cavalcade of FOs, we bring you two blue WIPS:

First, I'm pulling a Jared on Frost Flowers and Leaves.

Second, I'm finally knitting the mate to the lovely Tyrolean stocking that Leslie knit for me back in October. Just one problem, though.

Not sure if it's evident from this picture, but although I'm matching Leslie's stitch gauge quite closely (on US3s), my row gauge is pretty off. I'm at the beginning of the 11th central cable chevronny thing, and the leg is at least an inch longer than it is at the correspoding point on Leslie's sock.

What would you do? Keep going and hope I can fudge the length difference in blocking? (I hate this idea, myself, but I'll consider all options...) Keep going and leave out half a repeat or so? Reknit on 2s and block aggressively to combat the inevitable stitch gauge difference? Something else I haven't thought of?? I have the feeling that stitch gauge is more flexible than row gauge. Am I wrong?

My thanks in advance for you knitterly knowledge, dear internet friends, and may you all have lovely President's Day weekends.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Love, hats, and more love.

I'm sorry to report that the craftiest thing I've done all week was hemming my pants. However! My procrastinatory nature is the gift that keeps on giving, because I have such a backlog that I'm at no loss for postable stuff.

1. Sweater love
First off, THANK YOU for all your lovely comments about the Urban Aran -- and about Katie! (Just to clear up any confusion, Katie and The Lady are one and the same. 'The Lady' is not some bloggy pseudonym but rather, it's what I actually call her, most of the time. As in "How was your day, The Lady?" or "Hey, The Lady, did you feed the chickens?")

2. The last hat of 2007
Note that I didn't say the last FO of 2007. There are a couple more hanging around waiting to be photographed, but who knows when that will happen.

This hat was a special request from my friend Michael (He bought me the yarn, no fast-breaking here!), and he was very excited about the idea of a rolled up brim. So I took our favorite pattern, knit the ribbing for about 4 inches, and did 4.5 pattern repeats instead of 5.

The yarn is Malabrigo, in Black Forest, well under a skein. I may never knit this pattern in anything but Malabrigo ever again.

3. The first hat of 2008
I was on the streetcar the other day, and spotted a woman in the world's cutest hat. So I made one myself. Actually the band on her hat was skinnier than this one, and stockinette, and had a buckle instead of a button, but whatever. I give you the Streetcar Hat:

Way easy: I took some Lamb's Pride Bulky left over from the Urban Aran, cast on what looked like a reasonable (and odd) number of stitches on US9s -- i think it was 13 sts -- and knit a long rectangle in seed stitch with a slip stitch selvedge on both sides, until it was long enough to go around my head snugly with an overlap about as long as the band is wide. I did a few rows with decreases one stitch in from the edge, to round it off, and bound off. Then I picked up the selvedge stitches along one side, leaving the overlappy bit un-picked-up, decreased one (I was lucky) to get a multiple of 7, and knit stockinette in the round until it was long enough, then did your standard crown decreases. Sewed on a button and thar she be. Yes, the button is totally non-functional. I didn't think I would ever use a buttonhole, so I didn't put one in.

Got the lovely button from Josephine's Dry Goods, which you should totally check out if you're in the area. Gorgeous fabric and a whole wall of buttons.

4. Bloggy love
Can I just say how much I like this Make My Day thing? Yeah it's a nice little ego boost to get tagged, sure, but mostly what I love is that I've found SO many excellent new blogs to read, all with the stamp of approval of somebody I'm already reading. AWESOME.

So of course I was thrilled to make the days of Specs, Jennie, and Vanessa. (ETA: and Desiknitter! Sorry I'm such a spaz.) You three all make my day, too, seriously. And although many of the folks who also do so have already posted their own lists (I'm late hopping on this train, like so many others), I still want to give them a little shout out so they and y'all know I love 'em. So the remaining 7 (since I'm tagging back those three lovely ladies) in alphabetical order:

Dr. B -- Superior sewing skills, utmost humility, and the ability to make me laugh out loud at Every Single Post. The woman is awesome.
Elinor -- Is she cranking out the pretty stuff lately or what? Plus, one seriously cute baby.
Kristy -- Besides all the beautiful knitting, I love reading Kristy's blog because we have a similar career trajectory AND she's joining me in my stash challenge. Except she has to run. HA!
Leslie -- There's nothing I can say about Leslie or her blog that would be prettier or friendlier or better than the lady and the blog themselves. Go see.
Melissa -- I just started reading this, but I love it. There's something about her style that I really, really dig.
Tiennie -- How does she do it? Not just the beautiful knitting, of course, but the keeping up with everyone and their cousin in this little community of ours? A very sweet and talented lady, no question.
Whitney -- Again, there's just something about Whitney's knitting style that I really love. I'm always happy to see her name light up in my google reader.

Phew. So hard to choose!!

Happy Friday, y'all. I shall return with WIPs.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Urban Aran: Totally not a figment of my imagination.

After brief technical difficulties (fucking USB cords...) we continue our FO parade with something a long, long time coming:

It's real! And it's finished! Technically the zipper didn't get sewn in until January, but I'm counting it as a 2007 FO. Because I'm the decider.

I've wanted to make this for The Lady for over a year now, but wasn't certain enough of my skills. But when the hourglass sweater went so well and so easily, I said to myself, 'Self, we can do this'. And do this we did.

The Dirt:
Pattern: Urban Aran, from Paton's Street Smart. Cardiganized a la Jared of Brooklyntweed.
Yarn: Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky, in Old Sage. I used roughly 2.5 1-lb cones, so about 1250 yds.
Needles: US 9s for the cuffs & hem, 7s for the collar, 10s for everything else.
Mods: I... pretty much did exactly what Jared did -- jacketified and lengthened by about 2 inches total. Oh, and I accidentally made the slanty cabley parallellogram thing at the waist one repeat too long on the first front, so I just did the same with the rest of them and it looks fine, particularly with the added length over all.

I have zero complaints about the pattern. This was my first time dealing with set in sleeves, or really any substantial seaming at all, and it was far less harrowing of an experience that I'd feared. Possibly because the sleeve caps actually fit into the armscyes, more or less. Although not always quick, everything about this was straightforward and turned out as I'd hoped it would.

The yarn is, as I can tell from experience and from you helpful internet citizens, going to pill. But frankly, that's true of any yarn that I could afford in this kind of quantity. And I'm very pleased with the texture and the color. What are sweater shavers for, anyway?

If I had it all to do again I would change one and only one thing: I'd add another row or two to the collar so that the whole thing is exactly the same length as the zipper. Right now, the very last couple millimeters of zipper peek out at the top. Which, um. I could obviously fix, and probably will. But she was just so anxious to WEAR it, you know?

ETA: I almost forgot -- I have officially decided that the Sweater Curse is, like the risks of unwanted pregnancy and mothers nagging about 'setting a date', one of the things I'm exempt from as a member of a same-sex relationship. I did, however, freak out a little once when we fought while I was knitting this. But The Lady is way too cute (and too well versed in knit-culture) for me to give her up: when I gave her the sweater she grinned and said "Does this mean I have to break up with you now?"

Monday, January 14, 2008


I had the kind of winter break that saw me reveling in my favorite forms of relaxation, wallowing in novel forms of stress, consuming stupid large amounts of alcohol, losing and regaining my knitting mojo at least twice, and overall having the kind of time that left me needing a vacation from my vacation. But mostly in a good way.

And now here I am again, and with a fair bit to show for it. So, taking a cue from Ashley, we'll begin a mini FO parade. The Real Family (= me + The Lady + The Sis) went down to Corvallis yesterday to visit the Slightly Extended Family (= Mom + Gram) for the latter's 80th birthday. When Mom started driving us all just a leeeeeetle bit crazy, we needed an excuse to take a break -- and the Inga photoshoot did just the trick:

We drove down to our old middle school and did two things we never did while we were students there: photographed knitwear, and smoked cigarettes in the parking lot.

PSA: Smoking is bad. Except when fortifying yourself for crazy relatives.

The Dirt:
Pattern: Inga
Yarn: 1/2 skein Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Worsted, in Aran, 1 skein Knit Picks Swish in Clematis Heather, and a wee bit of Cascade 220 in Green.
Needles: US 6 (I forgot to use smaller needles for the brim, but I think it worked out OK.)
Mods: None, really. Slightly heavier yarn than called for, I guess.

I knew this pattern ran long, if not wide, but I figured since the sis has a big head, it'd be fine. Turns out it is a tad long -- if I were to knit it again, which I might, I'd take out part of the first repeat, like Adrian did -- but she loves it as-is.

This will probably go down as the project that taught me both how important even tension is in colorwork, AND how much blocking can do for you when you neglect said tension. I didn't take any pre-blocking shots, but believe me: this hat was transformed.

All in all, I am over the moon about this one. It's the kind of project that makes you look like an even better knitter than you are because it's just so damn pretty. So: go make it, now. But consider lopping off an inch or so.