Monday, March 31, 2008

FO: Swallowtail Shawl

At the beginning of March, I promised you a finishing frenzy; now, on the last day of March, I present to you my sixth FO of the month: the Swallowtail Shawl. Low light for photos, unfortunately, but I wanted to get this post in today. I am so pleased with this shawl -- I think it's really beautiful.

Pattern: Swallowtail Shawl (Interweave Knits, fall 2006)
Yarn: Fiddlesticks Knitting Zephyr Laceweight (wool/silk)
Needle: long 3.25mm circular
Finished size: 43.5 inches across, 21 inches deep at point

I was afraid this shawl would be ridiculously tiny (I was ready to christen it "the Swallowtail Small"), but it turns out that I love the size of it. My only regret is using the Zephyr Laceweight with this pattern, since the ball of yarn is 630 yards and this pattern only used two-thirds of the ball, so it's just not the best yarn-pattern match. Other than that, I'm declaring the Swallowtail Shawl a huge success. I love it, love it, love it. I'm also very pleased with the results of blocking with my new set of wires and on my new set of foam puzzle pieces. It's an excellent system.

And I'm feeling like I was going to tell you all kinds of other things about this project, but now I'm totally drawing a blank. Did I mention I love it? Shawls are really great projects, in that they enable a knitter to create something really stunning with a small amount of yarn, like about $10 worth of silk. I see many more shawls in my future. (Any tips on storing them so they retain that nice, flat, just-blocked look?)

I feel such a sense of relief and satisfaction at having moved six projects out of my WIP list this month! Now I'm just working on Ene's Scarf and my second Vinterblomster mitten. And no, I don't want to talk about school. :)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

FO: Gilmore Vest

Can you tell this vest makes me feel sassy? Yes, it does. After a few hours of sewing a tubular bind-off on the neck's 260 stitches, I'm happy to be finished, and I'm happy with the outcome.

Pattern: Gilmore Vest
Yarn: Lamb's Wool de Georges Picaud (thrifted DK 100% wool)
Needles: 3.25mm for ribbing, 4.0mm for body
Special techniques: tubular cast-on and tubular bind-off

I don't actually have a waist, and I wondered if the wide band of ribbing would be terribly unflattering on me, but I think it actually looks OK. I really like how this vest fits -- not tight or stretched, but not too big. Just right! I suddenly want lots of vests. So versatile! Dressy over a blouse, casual over a T-shirt, cute, cute, and cute. And I'd recommend the pattern; it's simple, straightforward, and free. (The pattern does tell you to knit a long band of ribbing for the neck and then attach it, though, which seems needlessly complicated; I picked up stitches around the neck instead.) (ETA: The tubular cast-on and bind-off are not part of the pattern as written; I just decided to use them because I like how the edges look with the k1p1 ribbing.)

OK, so I got my comps questions yesterday, so I'm going into the writing zone for the next four weeks. I'll still be around, but maybe a little less. I'll leave you with a completely candid shot; I always get dressed up to do my reading while standing in the living room, don't you?

Ha. I'm going to go and put my PJ pants back on now. :)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

FO: Wallpaper Mittens

Can we talk? Seriously, why aren't you knitting these mittens? According to Ravelry, you're not, and I don't understand!

I love these mittens. They're simple and graphic, they look sharp (but imagine them in pink and brown! swoon...), the knitting is straightforward -- and pssst, you know what? The pattern includes a blank mitten template so you can design your own. I know there are an awful lot of tempting mitten patterns circulating these days, and maybe where you live you don't need mittens anymore; I'm still working on Vinterblomster, but I think these Wallpapers are going to be my go-to mittens this spring.

I used the recommended Reynolds Soft Sea Wool and 3.25mm needles, but I could have gone down a needle size. If you're looking for ways to conserve yarn (I always am), you should know that you can probably get away with just one skein of the main colour, especially if you're willing to knit the thumbs in one of the contrasting colours. And of course you could use sport-weight leftovers you already have for the contrasting cuff lining, since it takes a very small amount. OK, my new mittens are ready for their close-up:

I get my comps questions on Tuesday morning, so I'm hoping to also finish my Gilmore Vest before then -- just five more rows of neck ribbing and then a tubular bind off. Then, while I'm writing my comps, there will be less knitting and just one project: Ene's Scarf. I've wanted to knit this shawl since I first saw it in Scarf Style. Those of you who have already knit one will know what this picture is about:

(That's the number of stitches you cast on -- with yarn held double, no less.) I'm using thrift-shop sock yarn for this shawl. I'm not 100% sure I'll have enough, but I think I will: two 50g balls, plus two partial balls (45g and 20g), and according to my calculations, this is just under 700m.

I'm pretty happy that I found a very sweet little melamine kitchen scale on my last thrift, just a week ago. Melamine is my new obsession, but that's another topic for another day. Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Oh, I almost forgot: how do you pronounce "Ene" (as in Ene's Scarf)? Ennay? Eenah?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Work from this end

I have long meant to show you this awesome vintage baby wool, which I bought a few years ago at the Value Village in London, ON. There are five balls in total. I'm a little scared to actually start knitting something with them, because I'm afraid of finding out that these lovely little yarn balls have been moth snacks during the last five decades or so. I find the labels and all the attached instructions and reminders very charming.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

FO: Mary Jane Slippers

The March 2008 Finishing Frenzy continues! Behold my new Mary Jane Slippers, which are comfortable and cute, if a little hazardous on hardwood floors. I used two colours of Moda Dea Washable Wool and 4.0mm needles. For my size-9.5 feet, I followed the pattern as written and then added two rows of garter stitch before binding off the upper, just to add a bit of height. The slippers definitely fit, but if I were to knit another pair for myself, I would pick up more stitches around the sole -- maybe just an extra 6 or 8 stitches -- just so they didn't have to stretch quite so much in the length.

Before settling on a dancing-on-the-ceiling shot (see above), I tried a few standing-on-the-floor photos, but Mooky kept intercepting at the last second. I ended up with half a dozen photos that include a part of one of my feet and a furry black blur, plus this one (which gives you a sense of Mooky's gigantism):

As for the status of other WIPs, there will certainly be more FOs in the near future.

a. Swallowtail Shawl: Knitting is finished; I'm waiting for blocking wires to arrive.
b. Gilmore Vest: All that's left to knit is the ribbing around one armhole and the neck.
c. Wallpaper Mittens: I spent one evening knitting the lining and cuff on mitten 2 -- on the wrong size needles. D'oh.
d. Vinterblomster Mittens: Starting to decrease for the top of mitten 1.

Oh, and I also whipped up a tiny pair of socks for a new baby. I got the news that a friend from grad school just had a baby, so obviously I had to drop my reading and start knitting.

I've already mailed them off. Will I ever actually knit for a baby I can see in real life? Every baby item I've knit has been sent off in the mail. (Dear local non-knitting friends: Please have babies.)

Also, thanks to those who commented on my last post. I won't get around to doing the actual dyeing till summer, but I added some brown dye to my Knit Picks order. Whatever I end up doing, I'll definitely experiment on small amounts of the yarn first!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Quick colour question

I have 10 balls of bright-bright-bright pink yarn that I'm never going to use because of the colour (i.e., it's briiiight!). It's a wool-cashmere blend that I bought in Taipei -- does anyone remember my street yarn vendor back then? -- so I do want to use it, because it's nice. Here's my question: what colour would you recommend that I use to dye over the pink? I've never dyed yarn (or anything other than my hair, for that matter), so I'm not sure how different colours will combine to form new shades. I've read that Jacquard dyes are transparent (translucent?), and it's fine if there is still a pinkiness to the yarn. I just want to tone it down. I'd be happy to end up with dark red, or brown; I don't want purple. Should I dye it brown, or "chestnut"? (Specifically, I'm looking at the Knit Picks dyes, since I'm going to order blocking wires from them anyway.) Any opinions are welcome. Here's the yarn I'm talking about:

My friend Danny was with me the day I bought it. I hesitated because of the colour, but he said, "You have to buy it! It's 'Taiwan Pink'!" Well, now, several years later, I'd prefer "Canada Dull."

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


I have to re-revise that thing I said about finishing four things before starting a pair of Vinterblomster mitts -- I've already started. Twice.

Wait, I'm going to back up a bit. I got excited about these mittens not only because they're just really sweet-looking, but also because I could use the red and grey Scheepjes Invicta Extra that was too thin for the Double Thick Mittens. For the third colour, I'm using yet more of the neverending blue Sisu previously seen in my Blue Herrings and Charades. There's not a huge amount of contrast between the red and grey, but I like the combo.

OK, so first I cast on with grey and started knitting away; I'd printed out the instructions but not the photos, so I hadn't thought to make the cuff in red. Oops. I got through Chart 1 and Chart 2, and was starting on Chart 3, when I really looked at what I'd knit so far, and I had to admit I wasn't happy. Not only was the cuff the wrong colour, but it was too big and loose -- the cuff and the stranded areas were knit on the same (2.50mm) needles, but gauge is automatically tighter in stranded areas, so the cuff flared. Also, several rows have only one colour, and I'd gone ahead and knit those rows as a single thickness; in these areas, the gauge was larger and the fabric was half as thick, and that was bugging me. Even though I'd already knit so much, I knew that the real waste of time was not going to be in ripping back and restarting, but in carrying on and knitting a pair of mittens I wasn't happy with. So rip I did.

I decided to change the garter cuff to a stockinette hem on smaller needles. Less flare and more flair, in my opinion. Also, for the rows that have only one colour, I carried the other colour along behind the work in order to keep the double thickness throughout. Much better! I don't consider myself to be a knitting perfectionist, but sometimes I'd rather rip than settle.

In other knitting news, have you looked at the new Knitty? I've already queued Lace Ribbon, Laminaria, and Salto. Oh, and in case you're wondering how I'm getting so much knitting done, I'm getting my reading done, too. Whether because of stress or something else, I hardly ever sleep anymore. And whaddya know -- when you don't sleep, you can read and knit. Funny, that.

Monday, March 10, 2008


These little treats aren't part of the March finishing frenzy; I made them last month for a friend's birthday, but her birthday dinner kept getting pushed back. I finally handed them over on Saturday night, and they were a big hit. We all know the feeling of giving something handmade and having the recipient be less impressed than we would like. However, my friend Bernie has a special place in her heart for food made from yarn, and she may have even squealed with delight upon opening the bakery box in which I'd nestled her crocheted cupcakes. Yay!

Pattern: Quick Cupcakes
Yarn: Moda Dea Washable Wool in Coffee and Ivory, plus just a bit of Lamb's Pride Worsted in Red Hot Passion
Hook: 4.00mm

Finishing touches: I followed these instructions to make the dc-bobble berries, and I cut a circle of cardboard to fit the bottom of each cake before putting the stuffing in, just to keep the bottoms as flat as possible. Also, I found that popping the top half (the icing) inside out resulted in the roundest shape, and this way, the icing "drips" lay flatter on the sides. (In the photo above, the cupcakes at 3 o'clock and 6 o'clock have inside-out tops. The cupcake below is right side out.)

Have a sweet Monday!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

FO: Twiggy Bobble Hat

I took the day off today -- hey, I'm only human -- and I finished knitting my version of the Twiggy Bobble Hat. (Why "Twiggy"? Do all those bobbles make me look thinner? Or British?) I'm really pleased with it -- I've never been a wearer of slouchy hats, but photos on Ravelry convinced me to try it. To ensure slouchiness, I added an extra repeat of bobbles, which means an extra 6 rows in total, because I was copying this version. The yarn is Misti Alpaca Worsted (a little less than one 50-gram skein). I did a tubular cast-on, mostly just because I wanted to try the method described at the back of the current issue of IK. It worked fine, but it's not as neat as Anna's technique, which is the only other way I've done it.

I used straight needles for the cast-on, and then I just decided to continue the ribbing back and forth. I have a big head, see, and even though I was pretty sure the band of ribbing would fit, I thought it best to leave it open and then add a single-button band at the end, which is what I did. Also, after doing the ribbing on 4.0mm needles, I went up to a 4.5mm circular for the rest, in the interests of maximum slouchiness (see above, re: big head). In the end, the ribbed band was plenty loose, but I think the buttoned seed-stitch flap is a cute touch. I didn't see a need to block this hat; I can live with the slightly sphincter-like appearance at the back:

And the day (off) is not over! There are hours of potential knitting time ahead of me -- an hour during Lost, at the very least. I think I'll work on my slippers. And I'm amending my March finishing frenzy plan: If I finish four things (so, two more), I can cast on something new. Did you see the newest mittens making the rounds of Ravelry queues? My fingers are itching for Vinterblomster.

Hey, guess what? I caught Mooky lounging on the couch this morning -- gazing longingly at the window. He'll never learn.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


no grass anywayz, just sno.
i can come back in now? kthxbye!

Link: I Can Has Cheezburger
Link: "Another storm lashes Quebec"

Monday, March 03, 2008

FO: Charade Socks

I said I was going to finish things, didn't I? I cast on for these socks last August, and they became my portable knitting project, but then I went out to knitting night less and less, and the socks languished. It wasn't their fault. Sandra's pattern (here on Ravelry) is great, the yarn was great, and the colours are great. And now they're done, and I'm wearing them right now.

The little bit of contrasting colour on the heel was inspired by the Country Socks in Nancy Bush's Folk Socks. The blue I used for the heels and toes is Sisu, left over from my Blue Herring socks; the brown is Scheepjes Invicta Extra. I think I'll wear these socks a lot. The texture is nice -- take a closer look at the wee herringbone pattern:

I'd say March is off to a good start! I mean, a good finish. One down, several more to go. (And the book I'm reading today? I'll finish it by dinnertime. Yeah, baby.)

Saturday, March 01, 2008

March: finishing frenzy

Well, it would have been a more alliterative title had I done this in February, but mark my words, March is going to be a month of project completion. Most importantly, I am going to finish my comps reading in the middle of this month; of course, this particular ending will turn immediately into a beginning, as I'll be given three questions by my supervisor and will spend the following four weeks writing like a madwoman. But I'll finally be finished my reading -- yay!

You're probably here for some knitting, though. The other day I was adding a new project to my Ravelry notebook, and seeing all my projects there before me with their little thumbnails I realized I've never had so many WIPs at one time. (I also realized I'm into blue.) Too many! Look at them all:

This month, then, I'm going to finish some of them. I'm going to finish my Swallowtail Shawl, and I'm going to finish my Charade Socks, and my Gilmore Vest. I'm also going to finish my Mary Jane Slippers and my Twiggy Bobble Hat. (Yeah, surprise! I just cast on for that hat the other day, inspired by this version and the fact that I have a bunch of worsted-weight Misti Alpaca hanging around. And the fact that winter is never going to end.) And I'm certainly not going to cast on for anything new this month.

It sounds like a lot of knitting for somebody who will be very busy either reading or writing, but these projects are not far from being done -- especially the shawl, socks, and vest, which are thisclose to completion anyway.

So let's hear it for finishing in March! Finishing books! Finishing shawls and socks! Finishing bobble hats! Go and dig up something you want to finish, and finish it, whether it's something made of yarn or made of words. Come on, keep me company. :)