Friday, September 21, 2007

Postcards from the edge.

Don't think I have forgotten you, Reader! I have not. But my knitting energies have lately been redirected into some gift projects for friends and I can't share them with you--partly because I am not sure that I'll wind up having the time to complete them. Apparently, I'm not allowed to knit instead of writing papers, nor am I allowed to knit my final papers. I'm disheartened, but I'll press on.

A few brief notes: I tried the magic loop technique and found it to be quite cumbersome. I only did a few rows with it, but jockeying the needle into place interrupted my flow. I can see trying it again in the future; there are certain practical benefits to it, the chief amongst them being that it only takes one needle and one is thus spared half the trouble when needle-hunting and half the expense of buying new needles when one realizes that one has approximately 4308240328043802843 size 1.5s, but no size 2s.

Secondly: I'm using Lion Wool for the mystery project, which is a 100% worsted weight wool. I'm suspicious of wools that advertise that they are good for felting, which usually means that they are either scratchy or poor quality, and I'm suspicious of all Lion Brand products because I succumb easily to internet-born yarn snobbery peer pressure. But it turns out that while Lion Wool is not by any means a soft yarn, it's actually a quality, sturdy workhorse yarn. I do remain puzzled as to why Lion Brand has chosen to put it out in 85g skeins instead of the 50g or 100g that one usually sees, but I got my 85g on sale for 3.25, so I dare not complain too loudly. A limitation of the yarn is that it doesn't come in very many colors; there are only a few of the colors to which I could say I was genuinely drawn (although there are many that would do)--and no heathers at all. And I test-felted a bit of it and they were right--it really does felt well. A side note: Lion Wool is also available in a few variegated ("print") shades.

Lastly: there's been a promise made concerning a visit to yarn shop in Princeton next Wednesday, and it's like I'm eight again and I'm about to get an American Girl doll for Christmas.

Friday, September 7, 2007

We join this program already in progress.

All right, darlings, I've finally done a little sweater scanning. I've got about 10" of a project 18" for the bottom of the Lucy cardigan. The stitch pattern is so simple that I'd probably be gouging my eyeballs out if it weren't for the yarn--I've gone on a bit about the Berroco Ultra Alpaca before, and I won't do it again here, but it's fantastic. Not so great for stitch definition, as is the case with most dark yarns and most alpaca yarns; the scanning picked up the patterning in one dimension much better than the eye can actually do in three. But that's okay, because it doesn't matter, really, and I think when blocked, it'll be a little bit crisper. My other potential problem is that while I'm ly(tru + mad + deep) in love with the Peat colorway, it turns out that dark green actually doesn't go with a great deal in my wardrobe. I think the green's too dark to go comfortably with black or navy blue, and reds are out unless I want to look like Mother Christmas. Brown could make me look like a tree, and greens, possibly too matchy, and anyway, the only green shirt I have is more lime than earthy. So I'm left with light blue--and the feeling that this might be a good excuse to start collecting shirts in the purple family. But first Bolty's gotta get paid.

Cheap shots.

nononononononononononononononononononono NO.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.

I have some bad news for you, Reader: the Summer of Crafting Fun is sadly at an end. Tomorrow, there are books to be read; papers to write; students, god help me, to teach. In other words, there is music to be faced. In such situations, there's only one thing to do: tie up one's belongings on a hobo stick and hit the rails.

I am ending the summer with four WIPs, violating, of course, the rule of 3 that I had semi-established for myself. Nevertheless, I think they're all projects I have a reasonable chance of finishing during the fall semester (knock on particle board). First, I have my Lucy in the Sky cardigan. I have not offered any pictures either here or on Ravelry because, quite frankly, they would be extremely dull. I'm working on the bottom now, which is about 18" of a knit/purl diamond/King Charles brocade-ish pattern; I'm about 8.5" in. I love love love the yarn; it's a 50/50 wool/alpaca blend from Berroco called Ultra Alpaca. The colors are designed, they say, to mimic plant-dyes. I chose, as I believe I have mentioned before, the Peat colorway. Anyway, it's soft like alpaca, but has the sturdiness and elasticity of wool, and it's not as painfully expensive as one might imagine. Also, it smells like the upholstery in a new car. If you have ever smelled pure wool, especially if it's been sealed in a Ziploc for awhile, you will know that this is a good thing.

I am also still working on my pair of plain stockinette socks from the Colortweed. One down, one to go.

Thirdly, I'm working on the Celtic Cable Scarf from Kraemer Yarns. I'm using Peace Fleece in the Tundra colorway. Now, I love the Peace Fleece colors and I love the mission of the company, but man, this yarn is hard to knit with. It's very scratchy. The thing about Peace Fleece, though, is that it softens well when washed; I rinsed the bottom four inches in ordinary tap water and noticed a large improvement. I think with a little Eucalan, it should be good to go. Some projects you want to have more than you want to knit them. But I've only got about a foot done out of a projected six, and the cabling demands my full attention, so I'm in this one for the long haul. ETA: Apparently I said the exact same thing with respect to "long haul" two posts ago. Don't think I'm not paying attention, Reader.

Fourthly, I've got my Almost Argyles going out of Knit Picks Essential in Grass. I had to rip a good inch or so back due to a pattern mistake, so I'm still working on the gusset. The other problem is that the Essential really does get as fuzzy as everyone says it does (you can sort of tell in the picture). It didn't look so hot when I was done frogging that bit. The experience I'm having with the Essential is really the opposite of the one I'm having with the Peace Fleece; while the Essential is soft and lovely with which to knit, I'm quite nervous about washing it. Someone on Ravelry suggested washing the socks inside out so the pilling happens on the part of the sock you don't see, which seems to me to be genius advice.

'Til next time, Reader--and do let me know if you've figured out how to charm yourself a bottomless purse.

Beach Blanket Bingo.

Gratuitous blanket shots: