Lost and Found

14 Jan

I’ve gotten well and thoroughly used to how convenient Ravelry is for keeping track of projects. I’ve used it to check the care instructions on yarn knitted years ago, I’ve used it to remind myself to rotate my shawls and hats from time to time so that some don’t end up completely forgotten.

But most of all, I’ve used it to know where I am and what I am doing.

I hadn’t appreciated this for a while until yesterday when I had a good look at my WIP basket and found a complete mystery project. The day before I took a moment to dump all my knitting tools and notions on the livingroom floor, and sort through them all. Apparently this also meant going to my WIP basket and picking up all the hooks and needles that had found their way to the bottom.

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All neat – ready to be messed up again!

I didn’t realize this was problematic until, on closer inspection of the WIPs themselves, I found the first 8 inches of a Fall Fields Cardigan. There was no hook attached. No matter – I was off to Ravelry. Where, for some reason, I hadn’t made a single note about this project, including that it existed. Uh oh.

At first I didn’t even know it was the Fall Fields Cardigan, or when I’d started it, or in what size. Finally a hazy recollection of Interweave Crochet helped me track down the pattern. Then I spent half an hour carefully counting stitches to figure out what size this was supposed to be (I can’t quite “read” crochet as reliably as knitting so counting stitches isn’t all that straight forward). The pattern suggests a size which would result in 6″ of negative ease, and I was fairly sure that I wouldn’t have picked that size but something bigger. This still left 4 possibilities.

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The hook was more problematic even still, but based on a notion of a general sort of pinkish orangeishness, I looked through my hooks and figured I had used a size 4, which happens to be that sparkly color.

And then I spent a while figuring out where in the pattern I was.

Now I’m working on it again, and I’ve updated all this info on Ravelry. It would appear, though, that some of the yarn I’ve bought for this project has wandered out of the WIP basket and has possibly been used for something else. What I have simply isn’t enough for a cardigan.

The whole thing may be doomed, but it is still kind of pretty. Besides, there are a lot of cut yarn ends for some reason, so I can’t rip back either. I figure I can always get more, and in a stripy thing like this, it doesn’t matter as much if the dye lots don’t match perfectly. Staying positive, that’s the thing.

I trust that without Ravelry this kind of thing would happen to me often enough to render this hobby very frustrating. But even Ravelry wouldn’t help if I didn’t update it religiously.

I must have been good

13 Jan

Christmas 2013 was the Christmas I was absolutely spoiled with crafty gifts.

It’s rare for me to afford a sweater quantity of yarn, for instance, but with a giftcard I could treat myself to that luxury, in the form of this superwash merino yarn. And one person had tucked this gorgeous merino and silk blend ball in a beautiful shade of orange inside another gift – how thoughtful and adorable!

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Those near and dear might sometimes feel like, say, a giftcard to a local yarn store is unimaginative or impersonal somehow, but to me, it’s always so much fun. For instance, I had given up on the hopes of ever finding blocking wire sets in any local yarn stores, but when I went into one to spend my giftcard, there it was, sitting quietly in a corner, kind of collecting dust. So now I’m the happy owner of blocking wires, and  cannot wait for my next shawl project to bust those babies out.

I was also generously gifted a Prym i-cord mill – the very same I had been eyeing earlier in the fall and had deemed too expensive for me. It was a fun gadget but not strictly speaking necessary so I couldn’t justify the cost. My SO had been paying attention, however, and picked it up for me in all secrecy. I cranked out a couple of yards of i-cord the other day and it worked  like a charm flawlessly. Not wanting to waste the yarn, I looked for ideas for i-cord, and finally tied it into a Turk’s head knot to fit around my wrist

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This broadened my horizons for uses for i-cord. Suddenly the mill doesn’t seem like a one-use gadget at all.

And last but not least, my brother gave me an absolutely gorgeous book of crochet patterns: Virkkuri by Molla Mills (that’s a tumblr link). This book is different from all the rest I’ve seen in style and layout. It’s sleek and graphic all the way through.

Virkkuri by Molla Mills

Virkkuri by Molla Mills

The patterns are un-apologetically striking and time consuming. Nearly all of them have been done in black and white, and I find myself loving this solution because it highlights the end product as it will be for the book’s end-user, and not the project as it is in the book.

Normally, when I look at patterns, I find myself drawn to things that are already pictured in colors I like, and quickly disregard other patterns purely based on the color of the sample project. I lack the kind of imagination that can switch up the colors and not be constrained by what has already been thought of. So the black and white style works for me.

For some reason I was especially delighted by the gloriously red and vampy manicure of the hands in the step-by-step technique pictures, of which there are many, btw.

I had to make something out of the book straight away, and there was one project in there that I had the materials for on hand: chain earrings.

These are right up my alley like you wouldn’t believe. *grin*

I actually made three pairs, one for my mom in blue and one for a little girl in coral. They were a big hit. The book also has a pattern for a shark tooth patterned round bag with a lining and draw-string closing – perfect for a project bag. Even though it was made with lace-weight yarn and a tiny hook, I must possess this object, and some day I will.

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Woollen Nethergarments

11 Jan

Nearly two weeks of the new year have gone in a blink of an eye. I have been on vacation, and then sick leave (it’s just sinusitis). For the duration of my vacation I experienced something that turned out to be rather wonderful. What with one thing and another, mostly because I couldn’t be arsed, I didn’t go online for a week except on my phone. My phone is fine and all, but not suited for marathon surfing sessions.

Turns out this meant I had time to read a book, have conversations, bake, sew a shirt, and of course knit and crochet a whole bunch.

So no blog posts either, even though I was itching to show and tell all these wonderful things. I had the best Christmas yarn craft wise since 2007, when I received my KnitPicks Symphonie interchangeable needle set, and if I recall correctly, also the double pointed needle set in the series.

Most importantly, I finished my brother’s woollen long johns in time. Well to be frank, I wove in the ends and wrapped them 30 minutes before we opened gifts on the 27th, so not exactly done for Christmas but close enough. Oh! And I also sewed in the casing for an elastic band the next day, after it had been established that the long johns actually fit my brother. Hooray!

Sadly I now have no proper pictures of them. Only this grainy one taken in the dark, of me wearing the things.

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Based on this experience, this Drops Tights pattern fits a range of sizes. That is, I knitted size M, and the resulting tights fit me and my brother equally well. He has slimmer legs than I do but is 5’10″ to my 5′, so I guess it evens out.

I ended up going with a machine-washable wool and polyamide blend in worsted weight. It felt nicely soft and non-itchy at least to me. I got five 100 g (4 oz) balls and only used 2,5. I couldn’t begin to guess how much the legs would take up, but didn’t think I was overshooting by quite so much.

Oh well. I can think of a number of uses for the left-over balls.

Worsted weight pants on 5 mm needles knit up remarkably quickly it turns out, more quickly than, say, a sweater. If I had use for this kind of garment, I wouldn’t hesitate to whip up another pair for myself.

Next time I’ll write about all the new shiny (yarn crafty) toys I got, and the little projects I’ve been working on.

Double the Yarn, Double the Trouble

19 Dec

I am confused and it’s not the first time. And this is no time to be confused – this is the time for decisive action. A couple of hours ago I suddenly realized that there is one more Christmas gift I really need to knit, and it’s a biggie. These Drops Tights. 

Let’s not even get into whether or not I have a stoat’s chance in hell to get these done. I’ve rationalized that to myself, that’s not confusing. The yarn suggested in the pattern is. The pattern lists two yarns, held double (one strand of each). One fingering, one sport. And yet the Ravelry page for the pattern lists the pattern as for a sports weight yarn.

Maybe Ravelry doesn’t let you list several weights under one pattern. But if that’s the case, why not list the combined weight of the two yarns? That would make it easier for folks like me who want to substitute the yarn for something else… and I may just have answered my own question there.

Some googling gave me three entirely different results on what the combined weight of the two suggested yarns might be, ranging from sport to worsted. Finally, in a forum comment, someone said it’s easy: generally, fingering weight translates to 4 plies. Double that, you get 8 plies. That translates back to DK weight. And so on.

This to me seems to be somewhat less arbitrary than some of the other proposed approaches to this pickle, and I was glad.

Except that sport weight is 5 plies, making the combined weight 9 plies – smack dab in the middle of DK (8 ply) and Worsted (10 ply).

Huh.

There was no other option. I had to swatch, and choose which weight to go with based on which would match the pattern gauge more accurately or easily. I was more inclined to choose a worsted weight yarn because I’m in a hurry here… so that’s what I swatched first.

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I didn’t say I did it well, or anything. I’ll do a proper swatch when I have the actual yarn. This was just to see what weight might be appropriate. Based on this shoddy swatch, I’d say worsted.

Then there’s the issue of the stated yardage. I can’t brain this bit. As an example: say you need 200 yards of X and 200 yards of Y – that’s 400 yards, stated in the pattern. But how much is that of XY? My instinct is it’s 200 yards, because when you knit X and Y together, you’re still only knitting 200 yards worth of yarn. Right?

Not to mention that these tights or long johns or what-have-you aren’t supposed to be full length like in the pattern.

 I’m basically going to have to wing this yarn purchase, aren’t I?

I’m sure it’ll be fine. Just like getting these ready in time for gift exchanging will be fine.

Giraffe Bookmark

17 Dec

I nearly forgot! I’ve been planning for a while to make a giraffe bookmark for Christmas – just as a little addition to another, bigger and better gift. The bit about it being a giraffe is the point. It’s only a bookmark because I couldn’t find anything else in a giraffe theme that I liked enough.

The pattern was free, and so I have no real complaints. But as a newish crocheter there was a lot of “I have no idea what I’m doing” going on while I made this. Like here. I was completely unsure of everything at this point.

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But whatever, I got it done and it looks like a giraffe. A really huge giraffe – as bookmarks go that is. Its head is nearly the size of my palm. I did use thicker yarn than the pattern suggested. It said “10″ and I used “12″ (Freccia from Anchor). I have no idea what that means, other than that these crochet yarns have a weight system of their own.

I’m stiffening it with sugar-water (1 dl sugar, 1 dl water). I hope the sugar is not a problem if this bookmark is actually used.

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I hadn’t used this crochet hook before, and I noticed something. When the hook is that small, I can’t really see which way it’s pointing. And when I can’t see, a round handle like that doesn’t really work. Some shaping in the handle allows me to feel what the hook is doing even though I can’t see it.

The round handle might be better for my hands if it worked at all in practice. In a lot of hooks the handle is very far from the tip of the hook, and the way I crochet means I need to have my fingers right near the hook itself. Like so:

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So the handle is pressed against my palm where it does no good at all.

I have a completely random assortment of hooks, and have come to love certain characteristics in them. Like I know now that I prefer my hooks to be sharp and thin as opposed to blunt and round. I only realized this after buying a hook like that completely accidentally. I have no idea how one goes about finding hooks with certain characteristics, but maybe I’ll come across some more if I keep my eyes open for them.

Stripes

16 Dec

So I came up with one more Christmas project. Aran weight, super simple socks in a women’s size, so why not. Socks whip up really quick when there are only 48 stitches in a round.

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These were quick even though I had to rip out the toe decreases. That was down to stupidity: I couldn’t believe the pattern I used which said to knit 20 cm of the foot before beginning the decreases. That sounded like a lot. So I decided it should be more like 18 or 19 cm.

Then there was a slight measurement error, and long story slightly shorter, when I finished the socks they were an absolute perfect fit for me. Unfortunately the person these are for wears a shoe size two sizes bigger than mine.

Oops.

But they’re all fixed now. I have to say, though, that the temptation to just keep them for myself was great. I really like these, and I should clearly knit more aran weight socks.

I used 7 Veljestä Raita from Novita, a self-striping yarn. And it was great. Look at these babies, all lined up perfect and nice. Normally I don’t care about matching stripes in socks but the color runs in this yarn seemed so even I decided to give it a go.

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It worked fine! Except for when it didn’t. There were four knots in this ball, which changed the color runs each time. By the first knot I was committed to getting the stripes just so, so I pulled out yarn to even out the color runs each time a knot happened. So what I ended up with is this: a bajillion ends to weave in where there should only be four. But by golly, at least the stripes look good.

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Giant Honey Bees

12 Dec

We had about a week or so of beautiful, snowy weather (or it could’ve been two weeks, I don’t really have a sense of time worth anything.) So I was planning to take pictures of my finished Apis Dorsata mitts outside. The yarn is pretty but hard to capture in artificial lighting. However, since I finished the mitts, we’ve had a little bit of a blizzard and after that, as a complete meteorological non sequitur, rain. 

So I give up, I’m taking the pictures inside.

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They’re nice and long as requested (they’re a Christmas gift). Personally I like some of the details in the design a lot. At first I didn’t understand the decreases in the arm and how they’re set on the inside like that where the wearer can see them clearly all the time. But then I saw how beautifully the decreases are mirrored in the thumb gusset increases.

I usually prefer all things to be symmetrical, but didn’t even notice at first that the honey comb patterns aren’t. That kept the knitting interesting, and makes sense in the context.

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The Cascade Yarns Heritage Silk Paint is very soft and has nice drape, and  I love the colors. I’m a little worried, though, about how well the yarn will hold up in use. I guess that’s something to think about before using a merino and mulberry silk blend. Still, the only place where I can see some wear on the yarn is in the cast on edge of the first mitt which I ripped back once or twice.

 

All my Christmas knitting is now done. I’ve never finished this well in advance, and the feeling is sort of odd. The cloud to this silver lining is that I finished because I’ve had a cold for a week. I feel like I’ve watched everything on Netflix, and must have knitted a record amount.

I still have to tuck in some ends and block some socks and slippers. Normally I wouldn’t bother with blocking foot wear, but since they are gifts, and blocking does give that nice finished look to practically speaking anything… I can’t get very excited about this bit, but it has to be done. Then there’s the gift tags that I haven’t figured out yet.

Meanwhile I’m getting excited about new, shiny things: touchscreen thread. How cool is that!

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