Archive for January, 2008

January 8, 2008

Finish-itis

Seems as though the holiday knitting, being all finished and gifted, has given me the boost to finish up something that’s been languishing since spring. I began this sweater in Autumn 2005, but got sidetracked by last year’s holiday knitting, and some doll-making as well. By the time it was all done, it was May and the weather was too warm to sit with a mass of wool (OK, not just any wool, but Louisa Harding Grace, a 50/50 wool/silk combo that just floats though your hands) on my lap. And as the weather cooled, it was time again for the holiday knits, but on Boxing Day I pulled it out and got back to work.

When I pulled it out of the project bag, it was just long enough to cover the bust. And there were only 4 balls of yarn left. Meaning I had to figure out whether I wanted to switch to the purple of the same color, make contrasting sleeves, or find more of the peacock blue. I lucked out and found it online, and went back to work with the goal of finishing it before I leave for snowy climes on Monday, since we California girls don’t often see that white, cold stuff and our wardrobes don’t work so well at below-freezing temps.

The extra yarn arrived yesterday, and this evening, here’s where I stand:

I got sleeves

Yup – body done, sleeves started and ready to transfer onto the double circs to work them in tandem. I think there may be hope that I can not freeze to death in the next two weeks!

And the surprise scart for my niece? Here’s what it looked like BP (before pulling). Baby alpaca, yummy colors, and entertaining as well!

surprisescarf.jpg

January 7, 2008

Stealth Knitting

Finally! No more carols in the stores, no more mailbox full of catalogs of useless junk, no more expectations; in short, the holidays are over and I am celebrating! I can finally reveal what was filling up the hours in my days for the past couple of months, because all the projects were gifts, and I really couldn’t say much about them. But now that they are given and gone, I can claim bragging rights!

The biggest project was a modified Cobblestone Pullover (Interweave Knits, Fall 07) for my son.

Almost done!

This was my first grown-up size sweater, which I worked on for three months, beginning with Lyon Brand Wool-Ease as I took off on a 2-week tour of the East Coast. I got about 4″ into the body and decided that I hated the yarn, so I left it in the hotel room with a “please take me home” note for the staff, and found the nearest yarn shop to Williamstown, MA. (FYI, it’s in Adams, about a 15 minute drive.) There I found a much nicer Marks & Kattens Natura and restarted the project (OK, that was actually the 4th restart, as I seem to have swatching issues and learn more if I just start something and muck it up a few times!)

I had just received my sent of KnitPicks Harmony birch interchangables and was amazed at how the sweater just zipped through my fingers! I’m not a fast knitter – or at least I didn’t think so – but was able, thanks to being on the road in a van with a string quartet and a year-old baby (I’m her travel nanny) for many interminable knitting hours, to finish up the body of the sweater by the end of the plane trip home from Boston. That’s record time! The sleeves (knit at the same time on two circulars) took another couple of weeks, and by December 10 I was ready to join sleeves and body and do up the yoke. And that’s where I fell into the black hole of knittingā€¦

Did I mention that Noah is just over 6 feet tall? That the arms to that sweater were just under 22″ each? Or that the yoke evidently is sized to accommodate the wearing of protective gear? At least that’s what it seemed like as I knit on and on and on. Oh, and there was the neck modification, as he didn’t like the rolled neck and wanted a higher, stand-up collar, with buttons? But on I slogged, and on December 22nd, finished up the neck with a crochet edging! Huzzah for me! Most amazingly, the sweater fit just right, and he loved it, even with the cat hair additions to the fabric – Super Mom strikes again!

All done!

Of course, that didn’t mean I was done yet; there were stilll my sister and my niece to take care of. I’d begun a handbag for my sister in October, knitting up the front, back, and gusset/strap of it on my knitting machine, and adding my first Fair Isle attempt on the edge of the flap. I did manage to get it felted before I left on the sweater trip, but it sat unfinished all the time I worked on the sweater, so it was time to make a nice lining, de-fuzz the bag, and make it usable (and presentable!) While, as the maker of said bag, I saw all the goofs, but am happy to report that the recipient was delighted with it – especially the handy cell-phone pocket in the lining and the lovely silver/abalone shell button that closes it. And she promised to send me a picture of it, since I left my camera at home that day (and hadn’t yet learned to use the camera on my phone, tech-o-phobe that I am!

For my niece, I had picked up a lovely hand-painted baby alpaca in blues and browns when I was in Tucson, and wanted to make her some fingerless mitts (we are in California, so mittens aren’t really a necessity here.) No special pattern, I had just cast on and started working them both flat in Bluebell Rib, but here it was xmas eve and I realized that my knitting looked like crap… I had dropped stitches, gotten the pattern all wonky, and generally mucked the project up completely. So the niece’s present was a bag with the unfinished project. At least she thought the yarn was pretty and soft! But she wasn’t all that impressed with the idea of fingerless gloves, so I frogged the entire thing and did up a surpise scarf that I picked up from the Yarn Harlot’s At Knit’s End – simply knit every row (I did this on US4 needles) and when all the yarn is used up, cast off, dropping every other stitch. What you end up with is a very short scarf – mine came out just under 24″ – but when you pull on the ends, the dropped stitches unravel and the scarf gets longer and a bit lacy! A very cool trick and my niece got a laugh out of it as well – which is amazing given that an 18-year-old is too cool to laugh at anything her embarrassing aunt does!

So the holiday knitting is done, received, and appreciated. Now maybe I can get back to that Victorian Lace scarf I ripped back almost all the way. And a Baby Surprise jacket for someone who’s expecting a second girl in February. And finishing my teal wool/silk sweater before the 14th when I take off for another tour with the quartet to parts cold and snowy (Toronto is on the itinerary and I plan to do some serious yarn-crawling!). And getting a business plan put together, and finishing up a book layout for a client. But there is always time to knit – where did I stash that sock yarn?