29 September 2007

Fancy Schmancy

Sometimes you make something that just makes you smile. Perhaps it has no purpose and you have absolutely no idea where or when you're going to wear it, but you're proud of just doing it. This is one of those projects.

Pattern: Spring Things Shawl

Yarn: Karabella Lace Mohair, 1 skein

Needles: Crystal Palace Bamboos Sz 6

24 September 2007

The Big Finish

*Insert SIGH heard round the blog*

The day I felt would never come, the Chevron Scarf is ready to make her debut.

This really wasn't my longest project by any stretch of the imagination, but this one felt like slogging. Perhaps it was that whole trick of the book title, "Last Minute Knitted Gifts." Last minute my arse... and nobody better be thinking they're getting this one wrapped up under the Christmas tree. We've traveled around the country together all summer, so she's mine, all mine.

Pattern: Chevron Scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts

Yarn: Lorna's Laces, Happy Valley and Lakeview

Needles: Addis Sz 5

Notes: Love the finished product. I'm really happy with the way these colors came together and I think it will get a lot of wear this winter. It turned out quite long so you may not need to use the entire skein of each color. I was determined to knit to the bitter end and let me tell you , I was staring down those balls and hoping with all my might that they'd get smaller faster.

I should probably confess that I committed knitting sin with this one. When it was finished and crinkling up around the chevrons, I sprayed it down with water and iron the bejeebus out of it. Full heat, no protective covering, nothing, just stretched it out and went to town. I suppose the stitches flattened a degree but since this yarn is on the thinner side anyway (at least for my taste), I don't think it matters one bit. I actually like the flatter look as the colors blend together a bit better. Blocking may have worked but it was so long and unwieldy, I didn't mess around.

Would I knit this again? Probably. It's a great scarf and were I not such an old scrooge, it would make a good gift. I'd use a yarn that I loved and go in knowing that it wasn't going to be a quick project.

23 September 2007

Wrap Up

I’ve been busy trying to wrap up a few loose ends in life.

Mailing long-overdue gifts to recipients who’ve (hopefully) long forgotten that I was even making them something…

…Compiling packets of my work to demonstrate just what I’ve been up to during my graduate career, well, aside from the knitting and sewing that is…

…Rewarding myself with quick bursts at the sewing machine to return to projects that only lacked one tiny seam to move from “UFO-weighing-on-your-conscience-and-cluttering-up-your-apartment-by-bursting-out-of-the-project-basket” to immediately usable objects.

I’ve been a little disturbed at the number of things I’ve pulled out lately that literally lacked one seam or maybe one evening of weaving ends or sometimes even just a darn button replaced. Seems that “almost done” means “give up and start something new” in my crafty lexicon.

And you know what’s completely amazing? When you actually work on these almost-finished projects, they get finished. I know, truly shocking. I’m holding out hope that perhaps the same may be true of my dissertation. Could spending hours, days, and weeks actually writing lead to a finished document? Please say it’s so! (Unfortunately, this project is lacking more than a seam and a button, but I’m trying to convince myself that this isn’t the case.) So, what I’m trying to say is that I have a whole backlog of finished objects to post.

But before I get to those, there’s another UFO that I need to tackle.

Way back in the sweltering days of summer, I realized that I needed to celebrate my blogiversary so I set up a contest. And then I promptly forgot to carry through with it. Talk about being a blog-jerk. I’ve been feeling guilty about it ever since. So, I’m going to try this again. My intention was to do something that reflected how I was spending my summer. Originally, I planned to do four prizes. And that’s where I got myself into trouble. I’m one of those over-achievers that lacks the gumption to actually be an over-achiever. I feel like I should do x, y, and z, but really, I’ve only got about an x in me. So, here’s my compromise with my conscience and you out there in blogland.

For now, I’m going to do one prize that reflects my summer of reading/writing, traveling, crafting and working out: a journal with some nifty pens, a tote bag (still to be made) for your journeys, yarn to keep your needles busy (Mountain Colors Bearfoot) and a handy dandy new water bottle to keep you hydrated. Yes, the water bottle is about as present as my summer workout routine was but it’ll be there before this goes in the mail, along with some little gifties like candy and stitch markers and such.

Everyone who leaves a comment by Sunday, September 30 at midnight EST will be entered. Those who left comments in the earlier contest will be entered twice for good measure.

I intend to follow this up with more contests more often, but as they say about intentions… I intend to blog every day and really get serious about my running again and clean out my closet and publish an essay or two in the near future. I’m not holding my breath either!

12 September 2007

Mmm... Fall...

I'm saying this with a bit of trepidation and fear of summer's return, but I think we've turned the corner and are now thankfully free of sweaty and steamy days. Today there was just that feeling in the air, you know, that feeling where the air smells different, the breeze has a hint of bite and you really do need that sweatshirt you've been dying to wear.

Ah, my favorite time of year...

I'm kicking off my fall knitting with this amazing silk yarn dyed by Jill at Looped Back. I still can't believe I'm going to be paid to knit a shawl with this gorgeous stuff. Granted, I don't get to keep the shawl and when I have to package her up and give her away, it'll probably hit me, but for the next few weeks/months, I'm going to pretend that she's mine, all mine. (Don't worry, Donna, I'll try not to get attached... too much.)

The picture taken with artificial light on a cloudy day doesn't do the yarn justice. It matches much more closely than it appears and really plays up the colors of the beading and embroidery on the top.

I'm going to have fun with this one.

09 September 2007

The Scarf That Just Won't Die

Scene: Local knitting guild meeting, first gathering after a summer off.

Enter Leslie, late as ever, rushing to get to her seat before the meeting starts, thankful that Hipster Knitter saved her a seat.

Hipster Knitter: So, I'm starting to plan my Christmas knitting for friends. I'm thinking scarves. So, um,... would you recommend... the pattern that you've been, um,... working on?

Leslie: You mean this one, the chevron scarf that I've been knitting on since MARCH?!?! Guess it depends if we're talking this Christmas or holiday season 2012.

Hipster Knitter: Well, yeah, I've noticed that you've been working on that scarf at lots of meetings.... [trying to save face and make a slow knitter feel better] But it's pretty.

Still chugging away on the scarf that's taking for freakin' ever. It's pretty, but wow am I ready for it to be finished.

* Breaking news edit: This post was started earlier in the weekend. Thankfully, a strong case of insomnia has since allowed me ample wee morning hours to finish this albatross. I'm hoping to block, model and post soon so it's really, really finished!

03 September 2007

September Socks

I'm so excited to kick off a new month with some finished objects! (Yeah, let's forget the fact that my end of August post was actually in September... details schmetails...)

Needles: Addi Sz 1

Dates: Summer 2007

Recipient: me, me, me
Notes: I generally followed the pattern as written. Changes included casting on 16 (8 stitches per needle) and increasing in every round for the toes. This makes a fairly square toe which is comfortable but a little baggy. In the future, I'll probably stick to my usual method of increasing every round until there are 32 stitches and then every other round until there are 64.

I'm also not sure I need 64 stitches. These feel a bit loose for now but they haven't been worn and washed yet. Same thing on the length, could be a row or two shorter but I went with the measurements in the pattern.

I had a nice quantity of yarn leftover even after making generous sz 9 socks so if you're looking for mid-calf, you can probably do it with just one skein of yarn. The base yarn is very soft and easy to work with. I have a barely perceptible halo after throwing these in the bag for months so it may not suit if you want a really crisp look but I think stitch definition would show up nicely. I was interested in showing off the color so I went with plain stockinette. My gauge was an ever so tiny bit different when I started which accounts for some of the difference in the color pooling. Personally, I love the way the colors pool a bit. It's much less noticeable in person if you're someone who is bothered by that.

These are definitely going to be 'go-to' socks for fall! Can't wait to empty out some more room in the stash for more of Jenny's goodies.

Pattern: Spindle Socks

Yarn: Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino

Needles: Knitpicks Sz 2

Dates: Fall 2006 - Summer 2007

Recipient: MomMom (that would be grandmother for most people, or Ms. Eleanor if you're nasty...)

Notes: I love these socks. This is my second time with this pattern and most likely, not my last. It's easy but interesting, fast but gives great results. I like the 6-row repeat which makes you want to do just one more repeat before putting them down, ultimately leading to a pair of socks faster. Granted, these weren't exactly a fast knit in my calendar, but I didn't work on these very regularly as I had to stop several times and wait on a trip to Missouri for measurement purposes. They were a gift and I seem to be cursed with the complete inability to get a gift finished on time. It's a curse, I tell ya, and not my fault at all!

This isn't known as sock yarn but by golly, it should be. Well, except for the fact that I think it will pill like nobody's business and probably won't hold up to actually wear inside of shoes. Yeah, whatever, like that's important...

As they are on the thick side, for my grandmother at least, I'm telling her to consider them socks for cuddling on the couch during the winter. Doesn't everyone need cashmere (blend) socks to wear while they embroider during boring TV shows?

01 September 2007

August Silently Passes

“There is no month in the whole year, in which nature wears a more beautiful appearance than in the month of August. Spring has many beauties, and May is a fresh and blooming month, but the charms of this time of year, are enhanced by their contrast with the winter season. August has no such advantage. It comes when we remember nothing but clear skies, green fields, and sweet-smelling flowers – when the recollection of snow, and ice, and bleak winds, has faded from our minds as completely as they have disappeared from the earth, - and yet what a pleasant time it is. Orchards and corn-fields ring with the hum of labour; trees bend beneath the thick clusters of rich fruit which bow their branches to the ground; and the corn, piled in graceful sheaves, or waving in every light breath that sweeps above it, as if it wooed the sickle, tinges the landscape with a golden hue. A mellow softness appears to hang over the whole earth; the influence of the season seems to extend itself to the very wagon, whose slow motion across the well-reaped field, is perceptible only to the eye, but strikes with no harsh sound upon the ear.”Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers

The lazy days of late summer… or perhaps the insanely busy back-to-school days spent running as fast as the heat and humidity will allow, trying to get in all the summer things that we just never found time for in June and July… either way, August drew to a quick close.

It seems that even those who aren’t sharpening their pencils or searching for the perfect outfit for the first day of class are still feeling that fall push to crack down, focus and get things accomplished. Granted, when those “things” are fall sweaters and new scarves and hats, well, much better than algebra or dare I even say, English!

Signs of fall are starting to pop up in the air here and there… rainy days where a sweatshirt is needed… chilly nights that provide an excuse to wear handknit socks again… Even on the way to school I see the signs…

… extra large billboards advertising fall in Pennsylvania. I give the tourism board props for alluring advertising, but there’s still something strange about advertising a season. I actually had to see the silly things a few times before I figured out who was actually advertising what… and then of course I spent the rest of my drive fantasizing about a nice escape weekend in a rustic cabin somewhere in Allegheny, peacefully knitting with a cup of cocoa and gorgeous scenery.

But what to knit?

My typically indecisive self is flitting between sticking to my rules about finishing UFOs and wildly abandoning all restraint, ordering a bunch of tweedy yummies and casting on willy nilly. As always, somewhere in the middle is probably going to be my best option.

I will be starting a commissioned lace piece (woo hoo!) in a few weeks so when I get the yarn from the dyer, I want to have free needles and a focused mind. I technically have until November, but I want to try to finish this one as soon as possible as it’s for a wedding and I know how frantic wedding planning can be. Don’t want to leave the mother of the bride worried about whether or not part of her outfit will be coming in at the rehearsal dinner! And I may have a completely unearned reputation for being a tad, um, tardy with things like this. *cough, cough*

So, while summer draws to its seasonal close this weekend as we celebrate the Labor Day holiday, I’m hoping to draw a few knitting and sewing projects also to a close in the coming weeks. The pictures here actually lie in that I've completed one pair of these socks and have one at the toe. I'm looking forward to a few new projects and am definitely looking forward to the new season.