Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Mirepoix Bodice Progress

I've been working steadily on my Mirepoix Bodice, and I finally have something to post about it! I have a little more than seven inches of the fair isle completed. I've established the neck and armhole steeks; they are about three inches long, and my shaping is almost done.

I'm still really happy with the color substitutions I made on this project. I had a difficult time getting an accurate picture of the colors (for one thing, the orange looks much more garish here than it does in person). I'm also really pleased with how the fair isle looks. I haven't done this technique before, and I was nervous about how it might look. I started off a little loose, but I've gotten a little better at regulating my tension, and now it looks really good.

The alpaca is also behaving better then I had thought it would. It's not sticking together like shetland or anything, but it is felting a little. I'm still going to sew my steeks before I cut, of course, but it gives me a little piece of mind knowing it will hold a bit on its own. I think it's at least as nice for fair isle as superwash wool (which was the recommended yarn).

I have to say, this is one of the most satisfying sweaters I've worked on in a while. I'm surprised at how much I like doing fair isle; I guess I can quit avoiding it now! It looks very pretty. I can't wait to get finished and wear it!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Finished: Lace Slant Hat

I think I'm in love.

First, the yarn; Mountain Colors 4/8's Wool in the wild raspberry colorway. I bought it Thursday night when I went to my "Knit In" at That Yarn Shop. The colors are wonderful, and it has that squishy warmth that seems to be the sole provenance of wool, but with absolutely no scratch. I mean, you could knit underwear out of this stuff. As soon as I saw it, I knew what I wanted to make with it: the Lace Slant Hat from Orange Fish Knits. I've had this pattern bookmarked for awhile, waiting for the perfect yarn, and boy did I find it.

I decided to cast on for it yesterday, because today I'm going with some people from the shop to the Hernando Heritage Festival, to knit on the lawn, and hopefully get more people interested in the "fiber arts". I thought it would be a nice thing to be working on, because I knew I wanted to be using yarn from the shop while I was there. I did not anticipate the addictive nature of this pattern and this yarn.

(My beautiful daughter, modeling. The lace is stretchy enough to allow anyone to wear the hat)

I did have a little trouble at the start; the pattern was written to be knit flat and seamed, and it goes against my religion to seam hats (or anything, really, if it can be avoided). Also, there was no chart, and I can't stand to work lace without one. So I drew out the chart, and started to work in the round, but because of the "slant" I realized I would have to fiddle with the marker at the beginning of the round once in each repeat. After screwing up, and ripping it out, I began again, and this time it was pure magic.

The pattern falls into that perfect sweet spot between mind-numbingly easy, and rip-your-hair-out difficult. And the yarn! It was so wonderful to work with, and watching the colors unfold made it impossible to put down. I finished it yesterday, and now I have to cast on again so I will have something to knit at the festival. I can't wait!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Second Sock Syndrome

One is the loneliest number.

I love to knit socks. I love the tiny little stitches. I love the challenge of adapting a stitch pattern to go around the ankle, then split on the heel, and then span beautifully across the arch. I love the magic of turning a heel, and the orderly artistry of the twisted stitches picked up along the gusset. I love their seamlessness, and their perfect fit. I love everything about knitting socks, except... I hate knitting the other one.

The first sock is an adventure. How will the yarn look knitted? Will the stitch pattern work? Will it fit? Can I do it?

Once I finish that first sock, I feel a burst of accomplishment. I try it on, and admire how nice it looks, and how well it fits. I turn it over and over in my hands, marveling over what can be done with one really long piece of string. Then, I set it aside, and think, "I'll cast on for the second one in a day or so; I'm tired of working that pattern." But there's always something new to make, and the single sock just languishes in my knitting drawer.

I need to befriend a one-legged person who loves hand knitted socks.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Recently Completed: Skull Sweater

This is a sweater I made for my son.

I'm extremely proud of it. It was, easily, the most maddening, frustrating thing I've ever knitted. I pretty much hate intarsia now, even though I have to admit it looks great when you finish. Thankfully, my son loves it. When I gave it to him he said, "This looks as good as something from a store!" I know he meant it as the highest compliment, but I thought, kid, there's nothing like this in any store!

I designed the sweater, and came up with the colors and striped sleeves and all that, but the skull came from domiKNITrix.

I knitted it using Knit Picks shine worsted, on US sz.5 addis. Oh, the red is actually Cascade Pima Tencel, which was a little thinner than the shine worsted, but it turned out okay. They are both very soft, and nice to knit with, but they have a tendency to make puffs of fluff fly around while you knit. That seems to have gone away after I washed the sweater though, and it was only a minor irritation. I would definitely use the yarn again.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Recently Completed: Vintage Style Cardigan

This is a cardigan I designed.

I used Artful Yarns Fable. The color is called Cinderella (no. 99), and I knit it on US sz.5 addis. I really love this yarn, it's 85% cotton and 15% silk, and each of the four strands are dyed a different complimentary color, in this case blues and greens. Unfortunately, it's been discontinued, but lucky for me I bought a whole bunch on closeout at Webs.

I'm really pleased with this cardigan; it's the first sweater I designed totally by myself. I think it has a nice vintage look, which is what I wanted. It's a mixture of stockinette, 2x2 ribbing, and seed stitch. I had the seed stitch come up diagonally across the chest so it reaches all the way around at the sleeve openings. It also runs straight across the back. I think it looks really neat.

It also has set in pockets, which are very handy.

When I wear it, I feel like a grandpa, which is exactly what I wanted. I'm really happy about how it came out.


My current project is the Mirepoix Bodice [Fall 2007 Interweave Knits], and I am a member of the Mirepoix Bodice Knitalong, also (sidebar).

This will be my first fair isle project. I think it's a really beautiful sweater; I've never done fair isle before because I'm generally not interested in the more traditional patterns, but this one has a very modern style to it.

I am knitting it with elann's Pure Alpaca Fina on Knit Picks Options needles, US sz.4. I decided to make it in more oceanic colors; the main color is a peacock teal, and the fair isle uses a lighter spruce, a light green they called peridot, a dark brown, a somewhat lighter brown, a curry orange, and a golden yellow.

I'm very pleased with the colors. It's always kind of a crap shoot when you pick colors on the computer; sometimes they will be amazingly different than what you had on your monitor. I got lucky this time though. The colors I received are almost identical to what I thought they would be.

So far I have about five inches of the ribbing done on the body. I'm thinking of lengthening it, because I hate when sweaters are too short, but I'm pretty anxious to get to the fair isle, so I might not!