Saturday, January 14, 2012

a week of knitting

Two posts within one week!!? Yes, yes there are. All your dreams are coming true.

I've actually knit quite a bit this week, or since the last post. I started the scarf that I was thinking about, the honeycomb scarf with the bulky Schaefer. I started and restarted it, about four times, to get gauge. The pattern used super-bulky, and if I wanted the same width with the bulky, I had to cast on with two more pattern repeats. I used... I think size six or seven needles. I wanted a nice tight tension. But I wasn't sure about it because the pattern and the colors just didn't work very well. The color was too busy, and you couldn't really make out the pattern:

So I ripped it out and decided to make a Calorimetry instead, sort of on impulse. Literally over 14,000 people have made them on Ravelry. Insane! Anyway, both of my hats are slightly dysfunctional. The lavender silk slouch is stretched like crazy and falls off willy-nilly, whereas the cast on for the Noro entrelac hat is really tight. Plus it always looks weird when I have a ponytail. So I whipped it up, over the course of about 2 episodes of True Blood:

It's like a hat/headband/earband thingie. It works up very quickly and it's a cool concept. Very easy too. I put in a button on the back:

It's cute but the colors turned out to look a little young, and it looks a little weird on. It just reminds me of those headbands you wear when you're skiing, to keep your ears warm. They are a little nerdy. I'm sort of disappointed with how the colorway knit up, because it looked so pretty in the hank but it just looks like a kid's hat now. However, I'll still wear it. It's really comfy, and good when you've got your hair up, which I usually do.

I also started another pair of fingerless gloves, with the Zara. I spent a long time looking for patterns. I wasn't sure what I was looking for... something with cables or lace. I found a lot of cool patterns, but the problem is that I can't print anything out and looking at complicated patterns or charts online while simultaneously trying to watch a TV show or movie on the same laptop is pretty annoying. I need a printer.

So I just kept going back and forth between "Community" and the pattern for this. It wasn't that complicated. It's really nice, soft, great stitch definition, but I don't know when I'm going to get around to the second one. Soonish though, because my other ones, the alpaca pair, are really shrinking now-- the rain is not having a good affect on them. They're getting really beat up, and they're also a little itchy and stay wet for a REALLY long time. So now I have to do the second half of this new pair. And I feel like that might take a while, since I'm concentrating more on the blanket now...

And I'm still chugging away at the afghan. I'm on the sixth ball of yarn, out of twelve. Here it is on the couch, its future home:

I took that picture a few hours ago and it's even longer now-- it really works up very quickly. It's about 25, 26 inches long now. As for width, I don't know because I can't stretch it out, but if gauge is correct it should be about 60" long. I think it'll probably end up longer than that. Basically, when it's done it will be a good size, and really cozy besides. Not itchy at all. The only issue is actually getting it done. For the last few days, I've been going at a rate of about a ball a day, and if I keep that up it'll be done within a week, since I just joined the sixth ball. I have 12 balls of this yarn and I might as well use it all. So it's only a matter of devoting the time. I'm planning on doing laundry tomorrow, so I might just sit at the laundromat for two hours and knit nonstop, which should accomplish a lot.

That's what's up. I have some more yarn coming within the week, so I should be starting a bunch of new projects soon. I ordered some self-striping sock yarn from Knit Picks to make a pair of over-the-knee socks. My idea for keeping them up is adding an elastic thread to the yarn once I reach the top ribbing, so it'll be tighter. I don't know how that will work in reality but I'm looking forward to giving it a try. I also want to make a new bag. I'm thinking a basic over-the-shoulder bag, in a light color-- I ordered this really beautiful white/gray colorway in I think a worsted or bulky weight-- with cables. For the strap, I'm thinking I'll buy a few lengths of leather string and weave or braid them together, and then join them to D-rings for a more finished look, And, of course, I'll put in a fabric lining and a zipper. But this is all hypothetical and in the future. Once I get the yarn I'll have more ideas of what to do with it.

Knitting, huzzah!

Monday, January 9, 2012

New WIPs, FOs and STASH

Only three months have elapsed since my last post! I'm slowly getting better!

Lots to tell you about. Since we last spoke, I finished a righteous hoody sweatshirt, a few hats, gloves, wristwarmers, lots and lots of mini socks, and more socks. I've started a new afghan. And I received a huge boost to my stash from my amazing host mother/knitting buddy, Rachel. And I'm going to share it all with you!

FO's (Finished Objects)

I finished the hoody sweatshirt that I posted about in October. It took me . . . not sure. Maybe three weeks? It was a fun project-- I forgot how much I missed making sweaters!

I wear it a lot-- it's super-comfy and useful. However, the yarn does pill. I think I'm going to fold over the first few inches of the hood-- because it's huge-- and make a drawstring. Perhaps put in a button and loop at the neck.

FINALLY finished the silk gloves I started in the summer of 2010. It only took me a year and three months.

They're beautiful and soft, but I found out that my iPhone wouldn't register the touch of my finger when I was wearing them-- so I made a pair of fingerless gloves:

Which worked great! ...Except my iPhone was stolen before they were ever finished. And it turns out that even gloved fingers can press the stupid buttons on my replacement Nokia. However-- they are really useful and I like em a lot. I made them with this fancy alpaca yarn that my Nana and aunt brought me when they visited in November:

They gave me two balls in two natural, undyed shades. It's luxurious and soft, but a little bit itchy (as 100% wools are wont to be) and when I wore it in the rain a few weeks ago, the gloves started to felt. The embroidery is a little weak-- I admit it-- but it was really difficult to do.

I used the other shade of alpaca to make my good friend Michelle the hat she's been asking for for the past two years:

It's another Knotty but Nice-- same hat I made for my mom and dad last Hanukkah! I love this pattern! I made it big-- I think it's a little too big, but Michelle claims to love it.

I also made another entrelac hat for myself out of some Noro Silk Garden:

It's amazing how it's like Silk Garden is MADE for entrelac!! I got the idea for the yarn from this GORGEOUS afghan on Ravelry that I am in love with, made with lots of Silk Garden. Look at it-- just look at the hat! It looks like I was changing the colors for each row of squares, BUT I WASN'T! It just came out that way! So freaking cool. One day, I want to make an entrelac afghan out of Silk Garden. Only thing is, like ALL Noro in my opinion, it's sort of itchy. I need to block/wash it to make it softer. And my cast on is really tight. I don't know how to fix that. Otherwise, super-cool hat. I made it because my other one was lost. Regular readers may remember that I also made an entrelac hat last winter after my PREVIOUS one had been ruined. So this is actually the third entrelac hat in as many years. I really need to wash it though. I've heard that washing Noro makes it softer, and it's just itchy enough to be a little irritating. I just don't have my wool wash here! And if my mom can't find it in time for my sister's visit next week, I don't know how to get it here either.
P.S., I was just walking back from the open market in Jerusalem and a woman walking by stopped to compliment my hat. My ability to discuss knitting in Hebrew is limited, but we got some points across. I explained that it's all one piece and not sewn together, and she asked if it was one yarn, I said yes, she asked how it's possible that each color corresponds with each round of squares (at least, I THINK that's what she was asking) and the only way I could think of to explain it was that it was a "miracle."

Then I started getting into making mini socks. I'm not sure what started it, but I made one for my keychain, then one for my roommate, then one for a friend, and I just kept going. My friend Shira suggested I turn the socks into keychains and sell them. I have no idea how to do that but she said she'd help-- and I didn't have much else to do, so I started building a stock and now I have...

I'm going to buy keychain stuff and put them together when my roommate gets home with her wire twister thingies. And I have no idea what will happen after that. But they are really quick and fun to make.

WIP's (Works In Progress)

Actually, I only have one right now. I started another afghan. It's difficult to photograph though because the yarn is a chunky and funky:

The colors are absolutely gorgeous-- a deep, teal/navy variegated color that your eyes just sink into. It's not perfectly represented by photograph, but it's really soothing and lovely in real life. I probably never would have bought this yarn myself, but my host mom Rachel gave me a ton of yarn and this was included in the gift bag-- 12 huge skeins of this super-bulky weight, almost boucle-like yarn. It's very, very chunky. I had no idea what I was going to use it for, and then the idea just popped into my head-- to make a throw for our new(ish) couch. We bought a cream-color second-hand couch for our apartment, and it definitely needs a cover. Of course, I probably wouldn't really prefer to have stuff spilled on my hand-knit afghan, but it will definitely disguise stains better than the white couch.

My roommate gets back on Thursday. I had some vague fantasy of finishing it before then, but obviously that's not going to happen. My last (and only) afghan took about five years. Of course, this is going a lot faster because it's huge yarn and size 11 needles. I cast on 153 stitches, which should yield about 60" of width, and decided to do a feather-and-fan lace pattern. I figured there was no point in doing anything more complicated because any pattern would just get lost in the busy yarn. So it's just basic feather and fan:

Row 1: Knit
Row 2: Purl
Row 3: *(K2tog) three times, yo, (K1, yo) five times, (K2tog) three times. Repeat from * nine times.
Row 4: Purl

Even though the results are beautiful, I am not enjoying knitting it. I hate the thick needles and I don't like the texture of the yarn either. It's difficult to get used to. But it will end up being a really gorgeous, warm afghan in the end. One ball of yarn = about 4.5" of length, so if I use all 12 balls, it should end up at around 54". Which should about cover the couch. So it'll be a nice size. I do want to finish it very quickly, and I definitely have time, but it'll still take a large chunk of hours of clumsy, difficult knitting.

Which brings me to...

New Stash

After Shabbat, Rachel gave me an enormous bag of all the yarn she doesn't want or isn't using-- tons of it! Most of it, I don't know how I'm going to use, but it's never a bad thing to have more yarn! I even swatched with some of it!

I mentioned the afghan yarn, which is Artful Yarns Circus-- 12 balls of it. Here's the swatch:
You can see that there's pretty much no stitch definition at all. It's a sort of curly, bulky yarn. I don't know when I've used such a thick yarn. And like I said, I don't really enjoy knitting with it. But the overall effect is very nice, and it's pretty soft despite its 95% wool content. In short, it'll be a great afghan.
I also got a really gorgeous Schaefer bulky yarn called Irma. I didn't swatch with it because it's so pretty I didn't want to waste it, but here's a picture:

It's so pretty and soft-- I just love the look and feel of it. I got a pattern from one of Rachel's knitting magazines of a lovely, thick scarf in a honeycomb pattern. It would be perfect. I just don't know if I need a thick scarf. But you can really never have enough winter scarves. Now that I'm thinking about it, I really want to make it.

I got 6 balls of Filatura Di Crosa Zara, which I used years and years ago for one of my first scarves-- a simple, skinny ribbed scarf with long panels of different shades of pink separated by panels of black. It was a cute scarf, but since I had no experience with changing colors, the knots where I added the new colors on were both obvious and very prone to unraveling-- I didn't know about weaving in ends at that point so I just cut the yarn close to the knot. Rookie mistake of course. But anyway, the yarn is very soft. I swatched!

It's DK weight. I think I used size 3's. Rounded, nicely defined stitches which yield a springy fabric. I did use a small needle for this swatch, resulting in a nice even tension. And the color is way more deep engine-red than this pink here. I was thinking, another pair of slightly less bulky wristwarmers with some cool lace or interesting pattern.

I got a bunch of Berroco Cotton Twist-- two skeins in powder pink and seven in powder blue. It has a sturdy texture and a sheen from a strand of rayon plied in.

Tension not perfect because I think I used a size 5 or 6 for this swatch, and my gauge is notoriously loose. When I use it for a project I'll probably go down to a four, even though this is technically worsted weight. As usual with cotton, the texture is a bit rougher and the yarn is less stretchy. I really have no idea what I'd do with this yarn. Rachel used it to make a dress for her granddaughter, which is very pretty, but I don't make kids' clothes very often.

I got 8 skeins of Austermann "Moda", a shiny acrylic worsted weight. It's an acrylic/nylon/rayon blend. I don't like the color very much. It's sort of a mustard/gold/orange:

It's actually a really nice texture, and pretty when knitted up. It's a soft almost cotton-like feel, with great stitch definition. Also worsted weight. I don't remember what size needle I used for the swatch. Probably 4's. As for what I'll use it on, again, no clue. The color is just so... repulsive that I can't imagine using it on a gift, or anything I'd wear. And there is exactly one project using this yarn on Ravelry, so I can't get good ideas from there. We'll see if it ever suddenly becomes appropriate for a project.

The bulk of the yarn she gave me is made up of a whole lot of an irregular Knit Picks yarn: it's overspun Highland Wool which apparently cost exactly $1 a ball. It's tough to resist a deal like that. The paper that accompanies the yarn gives this explanation: It is a "dense" sport weight yarn that may "bias when knit" meaning the twist of the yarn will make your swatch "lean slightly to the side." I got 29 balls total, in six different colors-- 6 in Blossom Pink, which is a light, dusty rose pink; 8 in Papaya Heather, an orangey-pink heathered shade; 4 of Rouge, a deep bubble-gum pink; 5 of Fairy Tale, a deep magenta-purple; 4 of Burgandy, which is deep red; and 2 of Semolina, a not-quite-bright yellow. Here's a swatch:

There were also a bunch of odd balls, I'm assuming leftover from different projects-- a few balls of tweed, cotton, some novelty-type stuff. This post is long enough, so I won't post pictures of each and every one of those. I want to start a ton of new projects with all  my new yarn! Plus I have more coming with my sister and my roommate, who are both coming to Israel within a week.

And one project I want to do: I got a pattern for a really cool brioche-style coat made with chunky yarn that I REALLY want to make, but I (ironically) do not have the yarn and have no idea where to get yarn that would work! The yarn listed in the pattern is expensive and I doubt I could get it shipped here. So I'm not sure how I'm going to make it but I WANT IT-- it's so cute. And I could use a wool coat. I'll keep musing.

And that's what's up!