Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Noni Bag's Progress

Remember the Noni Bag I started way back when? The one that was for me to keep? Well, I finally finished knitting it and felting it and thought you'd like to see the almost-finished project. Here it is pre-felting (with my trade paperback sized book for scale).

Here it is being blocked:

I have to admit that I had to improvise a bit to block something that is three-dimensional and has folds in it (on the sides). I stuffed it with towels, used giant binder clips for the inside folds (as per the instructions) and then pinned the heck out of the outside. I had to unpin and repin the front edges in order to flip it and change the towels so the bottom side dried more quickly.

Here it is felted (with my book again):

I haven't quite gotten around to sewing the handles on yet (something else I'm doing for the first time) but I placed them on it to give you the general effect. I think the leather handles will jazz it up nicely.

Up close and personal.

Felting still seems almost miraculous to me in the way it changes the texture of the knitting. I love, love, love the colors and feel of the bag. You were all right about the defined bottom: after felting, the stitching blended right in so it looks great. (And couldn't we all use well-defined bottoms?)

The only thing I'm not 100 percent pleased about is the proportions. I think it's a little too wide for its height, something I wouldn't have expected from the pre-felted shape. However, I'm learning that felting tightens more in one direction than the other and I need to adjust accordingly.

Does anybody have any advice about sewing leather handles onto felted knitting? Thread recommendations? I'm learning as I go here and I want my handles to be strong enough to carry lots of knitting and books around.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Finally Fetching

The yarn: Rowan Tapestry, 70 percent wool, 30 percent soybean protein fiber

The pattern: Fetching by Cheryl Naimath, from Knitty's Summer '06 issue
I started these mitts months ago and worked on them now and then. I had such trouble with the picot edging -- and so I'd knit a bit, rip out, knit again, put them away and pretend they didn't exist, pout, buck up, and try again. I'm still am not happy with the results. But by God they're finished.
My first attempt was a total disaster because I knitted the last section in the car while the instructions were 30 miles behind me, in the bag in the living room. So much for bravado. The next attempt was much better. And the edging on the second mitt even better, though still a little uneven and amateurish. How frustrating is that? It's not a particularly difficult pattern, and the cabled cast-on in the picot edging isn't a difficult technique. I just seem to have a mental block there, keeping me from mastering it.
It kind of reminds me of my high school shorthand class. (That dates me - do they even teach Gregg Shorthand anymore?) I aced dictation at 100 words/minute and 120 words/minute. But 110 words/minute - what a mess. I failed that level time after time, and I honestly think the teacher took pity on me and slipped in a 120 and called it 110 just so we could move on.
There'll be no such tricks this time. I have another ball of Tapestry. I shall persevere.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Two Knitting Firsts!

I've just had two firsts in my knitting life. The first first is that I got a commission to knit a scarf--in cashmere! How lovely is that? I get to work with this gorgeous yarn and it won't cost me a penny since my brother-in-law has commissioned it for his wife. I'm psyched!

Of course, I immediately went hunting for a pattern. He wants the scarf to be solid red and I want the scarf to be interesting. So I needed a pattern with noticeable texture. Coincidentally, my second issue of "Creative Knitting" arrived and I was flipping through it and found the perfect pattern, the "All About Short Rows Scarf".

(One side of my experiment with the "Short Rows Scarf".)

I started playing with the pattern in a red yarn I just happened to have lying around and achieved my second knitting first: short rows. I love 'em! The process reminds me a little bit of entrelac except I'm knitting triangles rather than rectangles. You know my devotion to entrelac. I suffer from a short attention span and I think that's why these two stitches appeal to me: the progress is so apparent because you can finish a section quickly. Then I decide I want to do one more section, then another, and before I know it, the whole project is done.

(The reverse side.)

I'm fiddling with the pattern because the scarf in the magazine is narrower than I want my commissioned scarf to be. So I'm figuring out how many more stitches I need to add to make it the width I want and still preserve the triangular pattern.

What experiences with short rows have you pros on RTY had? Any words of wisdom to the newbie on the possible pitfalls of s. r.? Any other great short row patterns you've come across?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Now appearing on Romancing the Yarn . . .

My first book trailer. Not my first book (that was many many years ago, back when I was young and wide-eyed) but my first video trailer. I think Tara and the others at Romance Designs did a terrific job. Hope you enjoy it!

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Best Thing in my Mailbox after Christmas

I just received my first knitting magazine ever, Creative Knitting, and I am so excited. Now I understand the thrill of turning the pages and seeing project after project that make my fingers itch to knit them. Let’s see, there’s the Chattahoochee Scarf, the Ever-Cross Sweater, the Knit It Down sweater (my daughter has requested this one already), the Zigzag Drama Throw, the Felted Fantasy Purse…well, you get the picture.

It’s also a bit like vicarious knitting: I can get some of the pleasure of actually making the projects just by looking at the photos, reading the instructions and contemplating what colorway I might want to use for my own version. It’s fun and cheap and I totally get why everyone loves getting a magazine in the mail on a regular basis.

I subscribed to this particular publication because it was the only knitting publication offered by the band’s subscription drive. (Yes, everything comes back to the band, even now when marching band season is over!) BTW, you can get an issue free if you’re interested. Just go to the CK website, sign up and as long as you don’t mind sending back the invoice marked “cancel”, you can check out Creative Knitting for yourself.

Now I’m curious about what other knitting magazines are out there. Does anyone here at RTY have one—or two or three—they’d recommend?


Saturday, January 05, 2008

Two Things (One Winner)

Candice Phillips is the winner of the Noro Kureyon sock yarn! An email went out to you this morning, Candice. Send me your mailing address and I'll get the yarn out Monday morning. Congratulations!

And then, in the spirit of the back-to-back debates on WABC tonight I give you a quick Q&A:

1. How does a woman know that she's been knitting too much?
2. When her husband finds two stitch markers and a point protector tangled in the sheets.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Baby Talk

Two baby boys: one due yesterday, the other due in February. My needles are itching to start something but what?? (BTW, whatever happened to the fruit hats that were so popular a few years ago?)

I crocheted Baby Clouds blankets for both of their siblings with great results. I want to crochet blankets for each of the new babies but I also want to knit something. Is this overkill?

I'm thinking crocheted blankets and a pair of teeny tiny sockies in a coordinating color. I'm also contemplating a Tulip Baby Cardi for one of them . . . or maybe a Baby Surprise Jacket . . . or --?

Help! What do babies really need? What do new parents not want to see? (Machine wash and dry is a must, right?)

Suggestions gratefully accepted.
And if you haven't entered the Kureyon Sock Yarn giveaway, what are you waiting for? Send me an email at wickedsplitty and I'll do the rest.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

3 Cheers for Cascade Fixation!

You are looking at a photo (taken yesterday 1-1-2008) of a 3.5 year old pair of handknit Cascade Fixation socks modeled by the mysterious Goldisox. (I wish you could have seen his face when I said, "C'mon, baby, work it . . . work it . . . strike a pose!")

Those socks have been manhandled (literally) from the day they came off the needles in the fall of 2004. These socks have been tossed in the washer with little regard for the fact that a middle-aged knitter slaved over them for what seemed like forever. These socks have been tossed in the dryer with the sheets and towels and baked to within an inch of their cottony lives. These socks have been stuffed into running shoes and worn . . . and worn . . . and worn.

And guess what? No thin spots. No signs of wear. No holes. They wash into snowy white perfection each and every time.

If that's not a glowing recommendation for the wonder that is Cascade Fixation, I don't know what is.

Magic Loop. US1 Addi Turbos, 40". 64 stitches. K1P1 ribbing for maybe 2". Plain stockinette down the leg. My normal heel flap (S1 K1 across; S1 purl across) followed by my normal gusset treatment. Sail down the foot in stockinette and then Kitchener the toe. (He now prefers round toes.)

Were they fun to knit? No, they weren't. Snowy white cotton isn't exactly a knitter's idea of paradise. Am I delighted with them now, over three and a half years later? You bet I am! I have pairs of Fortissima Colori that are less than half the age of these Fixations, socks that have been handwashed and air-dried and babied like the next in line to the throne, any throne, that are popping stitches and showing wear on the heels that you wouldn't believe.

Maybe the Amish are right: sometimes plain & simple really is best.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Fresh Starts, Finished Objects, Noro Sock Yarn Giveaway

Knitting resolutions for 2008? Stop knitting when it starts hurting!
I've been absent for a week or so. Too much knitting, too much writing which resulted in a big fat spiny swelling on my left wrist. I didn't realize just how hard I'd been pushing it until I sat down and made a list of FOs between November 1 and December 24 and it was impressive. No wonder I turned into one big OUCH.
When it starts to hurt, stop. When you can no longer feel your fingers except as a memory, stop. When the pain shoots up to your shoulder, stop. You would think a grown woman of 57 would know these things, but I didn't. Or at least I needed a reminder.
Knitterly things that made me happy in 2007? I knitted my first lace shawl. Okay, it was the easy-peasey beginner's Charlotte but I did it and I'm insufferably proud of myself. I did a fair bit of cabling. I made two sweaters for Goldisox. I pulled myself away from my All Socks All The Time Obsession from 2006 and expanded my horizons.
Old habits die hard, however, and the Call of the Sock has sounded again and I can't resist. Just before my hands went down for the count I knocked out a pair of After Bertha Spirals for Goldisox in Lion Brand Wool-Ease in Wheat. I also made a toddler-size pair of After Bertha spirals in Sirdar Highlander in a cream color for CIC (Children in Common.) I have another pair of experimental socks in progress right now using leftover Wool-Ease from the Goldisox project. Judy's Magic Cast-On toe combined with the commercial short-row heel used in the Tulsa Skyline socks in SOCKS SOCKS SOCKS. It's okay but not great. Toe-ups go faster than cuff-down for me. Much faster But there's something vaguely creepy about the look of the heel. I told Dallas it was like looking at a face with two noses and that pretty much says it all for me. I've tried the wrap-and-turn short row heel on toe-ups, this commercial heel, and I'm still searching. Next on tap is to try THE Wendy's toe-up heel + gusset; I have good feelings about that one.
To celebrate my return to sock madness, I'm offering a gorgeous skein of NORO Kureyon sock yarn in the legendary #40 colourway. There's enough yarn in this skein to make a pair of adult socks . . . assuming you don't find yourself swooning from pure pleasure each time you pick up your needles. To enter, send me an email at wickedsplitty with NORO SOCK in the subject header and I'll do the rest. The winner will be announced Saturday January 5th right here.
Happy New Year to all of you!

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And the Mandalay winner is ...

Carol (Nichols?), my husband drew your name out of the old hat. If you'll send me your s'mail address, I'll put the Mandalay silk yarn in the mail to you ASAP.

Thank you all for entering the drawing. I'll have more yarn soon for a new "think spring" contest. ITM, I want to wish you all a happy, healthy and productive 2K8.


P.S. Don't forget to let us know what you made from the yarn, Carol. And send me a pic if you can to post on the blog.

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New beginnings

I will not give in to the impulse to knit by candlelight during the next extended power outage. (I bought another kerosine lamp at a flea market yesterday though . . . maybe if I light all 3 and sit close . . . )

There, that's it, Knitting Resolution # 1.

#2 - Keep it fun.