Friday, January 2, 2009

Things that smell after three days.

All right, all right, another picture of mittens in a bush. Seen one picture of mittens in a bush and I suppose you've seen 'em all, but bear with me.

These mittens were really fun to knit--every last fish, even, and we're talking triple digits here. The pattern is spillyjane's Swedish Fish, a bit modified--I took out a column of fish and made some minor adjustments from there. I started out by knitting the pattern as-is but, as usual, my gauge was way off. I wanted mittens, not oven mitts.

I have one minor critique of the pattern: the decreases at the top are worked on the edge of the needles--I did the project on two circs, as I do all colorwork--rather than one stitch in, and that left me with giant gaps. I added a whip stitch border to the mittens (not as horrible as it sounds, I promise) that fixed the problem. This may very well be a me-problem and not a pattern problem, but if you knit these, you should keep an eye on the decreases.

The yarn was, per the pattern, Knit Picks's Palette. The common complaint about Palette is that it has a limited range of colors: there are currently about fifty color choices, but no good choice for orange, for example. (I bought a ball of Tumeric, but it was both too dull and too close to the yellow). Colors are discontinued relatively quickly, and, at least when I ordered, there were maybe ten colors on backorder. Luckily, I had a great deal of flexibility with color for this pattern: the recipient only requested that the main color not be white. My first thought was that I'd go eighties and do black as the MC and sort of neon colors for the fish, and I still like that idea pretty well. Obviously, however, I went with blue--the fish are swimming, see--and I like the contrast colors. I'm a little iffy on the red--it's more saturated than the other colors except for the MC. I think a good orange would've helped balance it out.

As a yarn, though, I think Palette is great. The dyeing, admittedly, isn't amazing; the colors aren't very rich (although this, of course, depends on the color--and I think Palette has some pretty damn amazing heathers, which didn't fit my vision for this project). However, it's a soft yarn and only gets softer with washing, and I love the way the finished product feels. This is a particularly good thing, considering that I have almost five full balls of it. I started a striped sock, at left, from the leftovers, but I think a smarter way of doing this (the mitten) project would be to get a ball of self-striping with long color repeats.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Leaves on grass.

Friends, Romans, loyal Readers-- the Squirrel and Oak mittens all done, and just in time for a pretentious New Year's Day photoshoot. I offer you the obligatory dead leaves shot! See, there's an oak leaf on the mitten, and those are some dead oak leaves!!1!one! I think!

Well: the mittens turned out pretty well and all that, although I have to admit that there were one or twelve tense moments when I realized that the squirrel mitten (not pictured here, but available on the Rav) was actually larger than the leaf mitten, even though I knit them two days apart. I suppose once I had the first one down I was less anxious about the second. I put the larger mitten through a delicate, low-spin wash cycle and it came out about the right size.

I think Lion Wool is great stuff--it's sturdy, but not scratchy, and it doesn't feel like it'll pill overmuch. I also think the color palette, while limited, is very good: they're modern, bright, and well saturated. I like this yarn enough to consider it for a sweater project--if, you know, I ever finish any sweaters. I think it's not quite as cost effective as it ought to be; it's 85g and 158 yards to a ball, and I think it's priced the same as Patons Classic Wool (no longer merino), which is around 220 yards to a ball. But if I could only shop at big box craft stores and had no Cascade 220 at my disposal, I'd still pick Lion Wool; and I'd consider Lion Wool seriously for any project that needy a hearty wool.