Tuesday, August 28, 2007

a list and a promise

The promise comes first: I have a few works in progress and even one finished project that are still awaiting a photo shoot, and once that happens, I will return with a much more visually interesting post. But for now, I can say at least the my Orangina is a success, a wear-it-to-work and-feel-pretty success. I was concerned about the gauge difference between the section knit flat and the section knit in the round, but blocking appears to have solved the problem, and it is easy enough to wear a garment with the less expertly executed lace in the back. Since finishing Orangina, I've become involved with several new projects.
I'm a bit worried about technical/gauge issues (similar to those I encountered with Orangina) for my Snow White sweater, a gorgeous pattern from Ysolda Teague that I really could not be more excited to be knitting. While swatching, I realized how awful my ribbing tends to look, and some research led me pretty deep into stitch theory, so deep that I emerged nearly convinced I should make the become a Combination Knitter. For now, though, I'm not putting labels on myself -- I'm just wrapping my purls clockwise, and the result is a much neater if not altogether perfect ribbing. I'm using Paton's Classic Merino and so far I'm really pleased with it.
I'm also still plugging away at the plain stockinette socks in KnitPicks Felici that I started so long ago for the camping trip. I'm about halfway through the foot, and in this case too, I'm loving the yarn. I should probably be concerned about how it will wear, but for now, I'm just looking forward to wearing such soft socks.
Also on the horizon is a blanket for my sister, possibly even a crocheted one! But more on this later. For now, the focus is on finishing one more project, any project before classes start next week.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Three Hail Marys and an Act of Contrition.

Come closer, Reader. I want to whisper this in your ear. You have to promise not to tell, though. Cross your heart and hope to die.

I started a new pair of socks tonight in order to avoid my sweater project.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

I'll see you on the dark side of the moon.

Turns out I do remember how to crochet a little bit, Reader; I've been crocheting my blanket squares together and it's turning out rather nicely, especially if you squint. What blanket squares, you ask? I excavated them in the closet of my old bedroom, just underneath an ancient (primeval, even, in that time B.K.: Before Knitting) experiment in needlework. There were perhaps 45 of them, all as you see at left. Er, yes, all of them, varied only in color ("dark sage," "sage," and "off white") and skill, which is to say that proper finishing remained as elusive to me as it did to so many impoverished nineteenth century girls.

In any case, these squares are not very much, but I thought I ought to put them together anyway, just to see if I've learned anything. I've learned a little, it turns out, but it's taken something I knew B.K. to finally make the thing come together: a little crochet magic. Crochet was the first yarn craft I learned that didn't involve copious amounts of glue; my grandmother, who was an excellent crafter, taught me back in the days when a crocheted square made a fine garment for a Barbie. I'm using one of her hooks to put the blocks together, and afterwards I'll add a border, because a little crochet can fix a multitude of sins. The squares, alas, are not the same size. I should have known I was tempting fate with all those pyramids.

Monday, August 13, 2007

She Stoops to Conquer.

The Squirrel & Oak mittens, with my sister's initials knit into the point. As I noted before, totally ridiculous, but I love them. I just bought Terri Shea's Selbuvotter and will use it to do more sophisticated Fair Isle mittens, but I had a lot of fun with this project.

Selbuvotter is a neat book with a rather literal premise--Shea recreates Selbuvotter mittens she has found in various collections down to mistakes in yarn, needle size, and thumb construction. The book, subtitled A Biography of a Knitting Tradition, is not meant to be a pattern book, but it's not precisely a biography either. It is perhaps more accurate to call it a painstaking record of a localized movement. I got interested in college in literary textiles and have been contemplating how to take a more materialist approach to my own work, so I have great sympathy for the project undertaken here.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The search for origins.

You'll have to bear with me for a moment here, Reader: I'm feeling nostalgic. Nay: sentimental. Pull up a seat to the fire and pour yourself a glass of sherry; the impulse will pass, and we'll come back to our senses.

Upon investigating the closet of my childhood bedroom this past weekend, I discovered the wreckage of my first knitting project, the predictable garter stitch scarf. The fees for our knitting class got us a ball of worsted weight yarn (I got light blue; at some later point I acquired a ball of dark blue) and a pair of size 7 straights. Reader, I confess that my mind was not on knitting that evening; rather, I had attended the class in order to make some friends. I lucked out on that score, but less so on the knitting--I was the last person in the class to figure out how to cast on (or so I remember) and my efforts were...imperfect, to say the least. It's hard to imagine now, having knit so many stitches on so many projects, how I repeatedly failed to end up with the correct amount of stitches at the end of a row. There's a point in knitting where a new technique just begins to make sense, and that was true for me from the basic knit stitch on.

Eventually, I put that shapeless blob in a drawer and learned to knit other things, and by "other things," I mean "hats." I believe I made about a dozen hats by Christmas, and occasionally those hats have turned up, like so many bad pennies, to haunt me. My enthusiasm for hats waned eventually and I returned to what I will generously refer to as a "scarf," but really had about as much in common with a scarf as this blog does with Anna Karenina. So the first thing I did was to start over, although I preserved that initial piece of knitting for a long time and may have it somewhere still. I decided to jazz up the garter stitch by doing stripes of the two blues and I worked at it diligently--or, at any rate, I must have; I don't remember how long it took or when I finished it. But it did get finished, and I seem to have gotten to wear it a few times before the scarf began to return, dust to dust, to a pile of yarn. I had, you see, Reader, simply tied square knots at the color changes and blissfully snipped off the ends. I did not know any better, and I did not have to vocabulary to find out more about finishing techniques or weaving in ends in a book or online. The weight of a garter stitch scarf knit on size 7 straights is not inconsiderable and the square knots came out quite easily. Now that I know a bit more about these things, I could probably try to fix the scarf, or reknit it, but I think it's probably better to leave it as it is. I'd like to say it's for the poetry of the thing, but the truth is that I've rather lost interest in garter stitch scarves.

Oh, dear. I actually meant to blog about the mysterious bag of afghan squares I found underneath the scarf; those I have decided to reclaim and put together properly. I even had a picture for you, Reader. Well: coming soon to a multiplex near you.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Proof of life.

I made a ridiculous pair of mittens--I won't reveal what they are, as they are a gift, but they are a fine example of how great Fair Isle knitting can be (is it Fair Isle, or just two-color knitting? I don't know what the rules of the technique are). I did most of mitten numero uno in Telemark, but the colors I chose (Royal and spoiler alert Squirrel Heather, appropriately enough) didn't offer enough contrast--and the Telemark isn't soft at all. I didn't think it would be like rose petals and clouds, but I wasn't expecting it to be like twine. I love the colors Telemark is offered in, however, and I appreciate its sturdiness; I'll just have to think of an appropriate project for it. In any case, I frogged that mitten and cast on in Merino Style, which is a real pleasure with which to knit. I don't think I've ever knit with softer yarn. The color range of the Merino Style is somewhat less impressive; I'd love to see some heathers or at least some colors with more richness and depth.

In the meantime, I've begun a Celtic Cable Scarf (PDF), pattern from Kraemer Yarns, in some Peace Fleece I purchased from a fellow Raveler, or whatever we're calling ourselves. The Peace Fleece had me worried because the fabric was so stiff with the cables and the yarn's general rugged wooliness, but I blocked it this evening whilst on the needles and it really does soften up like everyone says. Given a bath in some Eucalan and a dash of extra lanolin, it should be an excellent, long-wearing scarf. Um, however, I calculated that I will need to complete at least 30 pattern repeats (16 rows long), and so far I've been going at the rate of one a day. It certainly moves more quickly without a cable needle, but damn, scarves are a long haul.

I am currently away from Chez Bolter and Lilyriver, but I have been informed that my new yarn for my Lucy Cardigan (Berroco Ultra Alpaca in Peat) is both soft and durable and that I have no more excuses for putting off the next stage of my knitting career: SWEATERS.