Aranami Shawl

10 Dec

Over the weekend I couldn’t work on Christmas projects, so I began a new project that randomly struck my eye on Ravelry. Now this shawlette is probably doomed to languish in the UFO bin.

It’s the Aranami shawl (Ravelry link) and it has taught me a lesson or two about my knitting preferences.

The pattern project is so pretty, and I was super stoked about choosing the yarn. I was reasonably satisfied with the gradient of Garnstudio Drops Alpacas I was able to find. I’m not a huge fan of alpaca yarns as a rule because I like things with less drape for most things I knit. But this is garter stitch, so not a great deal of stitch definition is needed. And it’s a shawl, so drape is okay. And most importantly Garnstudio has an Alpaca sale again. So hooray!

20131209_153554

I was worried about having so many white/light colors because I don’t care to wear white, but since the white would only be the tip of the shawl I figured it would be okay.

 This shawl is modular knitting in garter stitch. As I began to knit, what I learned about myself is this: I don’t like modular anything very much. Seams are always a potential place for issues, so for me, knitting a shawl entirely based on picking up stitches is just asking for trouble. The second thing is this: I also don’t like hiding ends in garter stitch. Guess what. There are a lot of ends to hide. Oops.

What I’ve knitted so far just looks messy, and nothing like the pattern project.

Buuut the yarn is cut up now and I can’t rip it back, so I might as well finish this at some point. Maybe a good blocking will do some magic on it. Who knows, maybe it really is just the light colors that are putting me off the whole thing, and I’ll like it more as I go along. At least each triangle knits up really fast.

20131209_153633

All the Pot-Holders

9 Dec

I have a new book that I’m ridiculously excited about: Patalappuja á la Carte, by Jaana Vehkasalo (Ravelry link).

20131209_153322

It’s all pot-holders. And nothing but pot-holders. Of course it is.

 The book was published by an organization that strives to uphold traditional Finnish handcrafts. They asked people to send in their designs  or designs passed down in the family, and received 250 distinctive pot-holders. Out of these, 27 were chosen for the book. The book also includes a short history of pot-holders which was surprisingly interesting, and a few recipes which seems apropos. 

There are so many my fingers are just itching to make. Whenever I leaf through the book, I can’t help but think of a box of chocolates. It’s all in the pictures: colorful, clear, just the right amount of detail versus overview. Who knew pot-holders could be photographed so brilliantly.

The pictures sell the whole concept to me, because mediocre photography of the subject matter would’ve made me glance through the book and conclude that it’s silly to dedicate an entire book to pot-holders of all things. Now I can’t wait to try all these techniques, and crochet these little beauties.

Fun with Delightful Techniques

3 Dec

The Apis Dorsata Mitts I’m knitting for Christmas are coming along nicely. I got most of the first mitt done on Sunday. Of course I did nothing but knit the whole day, but it was so worth it.

I even had to rip out the first inch I knitted. I tried doing two at once on circular needles, but since the honey comb pattern is mirrored, it would’ve been too much of a hassle to keep track of things. I also didn’t have 2,25 mm circulars and tried to wing it by doing the smaller size on 2,50 mm needles. The cast on edge seemed too tight… I just got scared, man, way too scared.

20131202_222607

I absolutely adore the yarn (Cascade Yarns Heritage Silk Paints in colorway Forest glen). Hopefully the color I chose is okay. I’ve already knitted a shawl for the recipient of these which is somewhat similar in color – more purplish browns than greenish browns, but in the same general tone. I see that shawl worn all the time. This gives me hope my choice wasn’t completely hopeless.

To get to the title of this entry, what I love most about these mitts (although it’s hard to choose) is that I’ve learned a bunch of new techniques.

I hadn’t actually done a tubular cast on before now, and it is as brilliant as everyone (apparently) says. I used these instructions from Knitty, and simultaneously met and fell in love with the backwards loop cast on. I used backwards loops for the thumb join as well, and I have never managed to cast on those thumb stitches without creating unsightly holes. But now, lookit! Instantly neat!

20131202_221630

And then! Then I tried a tubular cast off á la TECHknitting. It’s the prettiest, most professional looking cast off I can think of, and it’s very simple but looks like magic. What it is, is essentially this: two rounds of slipped stitches establish the purl and knit stitches in 1×1 ribbing as separate layers that can then be grafted together using kitchener stitch.

20131202_221738

Voila!

The result looks almost exactly the same as the tubular cast on. When you think about it, it should look the same because in both cases a fabric grows in two directions from the same spot. If that makes sense? It does in my head.

I can’t wait to finish these and take pictures that actually capture the beautiful colors.

In other Christmas gift thoughts… I’d love to design and print out little cards with washing instructions and holiday greetings for my knitted gifts. I’ve always included handwritten notes… but my normal handwriting is all but illegible, and when I try to write nicely, it looks like a second grader’s attempt.

Whenever I think about this, it occurs to me I could  totally learn calligraphy! …That’s probably one of those things that I will never ever actually do. I’ll put it off “until I retire”, but then I retire, and I still won’t do it. Yeah, printing something out is slightly likelier to happen.

FOs: French Cancan and Bea’s Slippers

1 Dec
20131201_134534

French Cancan (click pic for pattern)

 

Some patterns are just so beautiful, and when you knit them, every stitch turns out perfectly where it ought to be. When that happens, and I’ve managed to choose the right yarn as well… Well usually that means that I’m knitting a gift! But this pattern was so quick to knit (first some auto-pilot garter stitch, then a simple braid and lace edge knitted on) that I might make myself one as well. Once Christmas knitting is done, that is.

I’m in awe of people who can come up with patterns like this, where there isn’t a need for a moment’s hesitation. Such a joy. If the recipient likes the gift, then all will have been perfection.

Oh, and turns out knitting white yarn wasn’t such a big deal. I just washed my hands every time before knitting, to be on the safe side, and kept the WIP in a yarn bowl when I wasn’t working on it. I even managed to block it and take pictures without spilling things on it. The SO suggested I gift wrap it as soon as possible to keep it safe, ha! To be honest that’s probably for the best. When I can keep white things white, that’s when I’m probably an adult… ish.

20131201_134435

3 balls of Rowan baby merino silk dk

I’ve been having such great luck with patterns as of late. I began Christmas knitting with Bea’s slippers, and was so happily surprised by this free pattern. I think they look suitably complex, but it’s just a deceptively simple design. I used Jeny’s surprisingly stretchy cast off, which is now getting to be my go to bind off for anything that needs stretch.

I’m just trying to think of a good way to gift wrap them because without feet in them, they do look sort of comical. Right? Maybe I could stuff them with silk paper, or something… Or cut cardboard feets! Sounds like a plan.

20131201_142814

Kotikulta Sukkalanka (a worsted weight wool acrylic blend)

20131201_143006

Next up, a pair of Apis Dorsata mitts

 

Amassing Giftmas Yarn

28 Nov

Three days ago I ordered some yarn online (at this store: Titityy). The season is the reason for secret yarn purchases, and I figured the postage would be cheaper than taking a bus downtown to buy the yarn, which it is. I was surprised and pleased when an hour later, the status of the purchase had changed from “received” to “mailed”. That is some seriously good customer service!

(It’s another issue entirely that it had only been an hour since I placed the order, and I was already refreshing the tracking page.)

It was only later in the day that something else finally settled into my consciousness: the postal workers are striking. I’ve been paying attention to the news, but since I hardly ever mail anything, I didn’t think the postal strike had anything to do with me. They’re trying to wrangle themselves more job security because of impending layoffs, and I wish them all the best. It still made for some interesting times, as I tried to figure out whether or not my package was likely to get stuck in a sorting facility somewhere as the rolling strikes changed place from day to day.

By figuring out the pattern the strikes were following (by reading about it online, like the Sherlock that I am) and figuring out where the package was sent from, I reached reasonable certainty that I was safe and would get my package in the 2-3 days the online store promised. And sure enough, today I got a little notice slip in the mail saying I could pick it up at the post office.

And I got myself some goodies…

Baby merino silk in colorway Straw

Rowan Baby merino silk in colorway Straw

Cascade yarns Heritage Silk Paints in colorway Forest glen

Cascade yarns Heritage Silk Paints in colorway Forest glen

Clearly merino wool and silk blends have made an impression on me since I accidentally ordered two kinds of it. The baby merino silk dk (I have no idea which bit of that is the yarn’s name) is 34% tussah silk, and is markedly rougher than the other yarn (though still very soft indeed). I hope it will have decent stitch definition for a shawl I’m planning.

I’m slightly nervous about knitting white yarn. There’s a reason I don’t own any white clothing – it doesn’t stay white for long. I’ll just have to be careful, and treat the WIP with a bit more respect than I normally do with my knitting projects.

The really sleek and soft Heritage yarn is for a pair of mostly very simple mitts. The pattern I’ve chosen should let the colors shine through.

The unfortunate thing is that I never get yarns this nice for myself. I have a tendency to give away or knit and then give away all my really nice yarns. Not being made of money I can’t justify buying them for myself. But hey, at least I get to work with them if I’m making a gift for someone else. That’s part of the fun of knitting for Christmas 🙂

I can’t wait to start these projects! (Apart from being excited, I literally cannot wait because time is running out. I will make it, though, make no mistake ;)).

I’m here to tell you: there is life after knitting

27 Nov

Spoiler: It’s mostly knitting.

My blog posts have always been sporadic so that for a few months I post regularly, and then nothing at all for a while. This time, though, it wasn’t only that life happened and I didn’t have time to write, I also didn’t have time to knit. Last spring I wrote my Master’s Thesis, and in the summer I graduated. All is relative of course, and I did knit a Girl Friday cardigan over the spring, but it took me two months, and that was all I completed in that whole time. It wasn’t very enjoyable, I merely went through the motions out of a strange sense of duty. I went weeks without knitting, and am only just now emerging from a 10 month knitting funk.

IMG_7200_medium2

Girl Friday

Untitled4_medium2

Paulie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The summer is a blur. As it began I remember thinking I’m going to knit so much and take back lost time over the summer, but that lasted all of one day. In fact, it seems the summer lasted about a week. I did knit a Paulie cardigan so I suppose I had more time than it seems. Also, I have photographic evidence, so clearly I have been outside at some point, doing something. Gazing out into the woods.

So I could go back and do a recap of the things I’ve knitted while I wasn’t knitting practically speaking at all, but that’s really no fun at all.

Instead, I submit to your consideration: am I unwise for buying acrylics today to knit a Faberge shawl? It was 90 cents per ball, fingering weight acrylic yarn, and it was as soft as a really soft thing. I was impressed.

Oddly enough, I had the most intense case of buyers remorse I have ever had about yarn. I figure my reasoning went like this: 90 cents per ball is  practically speaking free yarn. But I got four balls to be sure to have enough yardage, so suddenly I was paying 3,60€ for yarn that was supposed to be free! (Practically speaking.) I made myself feel swindled. Well done!

It still is really soft, though. I have also had very good luck with acrylic yarns staying neat, and I don’t mind it if it’s hot. I could do with a new, really warm shawl. They do say you should always buy the best you can afford to knit with, but I think, on occasion, it’s okay to splurge on something really cheap.

I have been very interested in icord knitting machines lately, especially after seeing one used together with a power drill. I’m not in that much of a hurry to get icord, but just the fact that the machine can be used like that makes it seem more likely to be durable and useful in the intended way.

There are mixed reviews of the Knit Embellish machine used in the above video, though, so I’ve been hesitant about ordering one online. I would probably just be so lazy I wouldn’t return a defective one if I was so unlucky as to receive one of those. I was therefore very pleased to see Prym’s Knitting Mill, their take on the same machine, at my local yarn shop. The machine was very hefty so I suppose it’s metallic, and less likely to break in my questionable care. This may very well be my Christmas gift for myself.

Maybe. I could really do with another spindle as well… But that’s a story for another day.

Pure, Unadulterated Awesome

18 Oct

That is what this hat is. This whole post is going to be shameless bragging but I guess that’s ok because I also write about the times when everything I try to do turns to complete shite. Ok? Ok.

First of all, this hat is the softest known object in the universe. The next time you pet a kitty or I don’t know, something else that is really soft, I can understand if you feel a little bit sad, because that thing is not as soft as this hat is. The softness of the hat and the firm warmth of the lining make putting it on your head feel like… like something is better, somehow, now. But that’s just my humble opinion.

If I didn’t make it for my brother, I’d wear the heck out of this hat. It is the best hat I have ever made.

The only thing that is less-than-stellar about it is that it is black, making it hard for me to take pictures that convey its greatness. This is the only reason  why I don’t particularly like knitting anything black. I go to all that effort, and then it’s like I could’ve gotten away with really crappy work. Because all those little details that miraculously went right this time? Obscured by the color. I mean, I once actually knitted a lace top with black yarn. Yeah, welcome to crazy town, population: me.

It was an amazingly good idea to keep the doubled hem of the wurm hat, the pattern from which the horizontal stripes are also. At first I only thought it was a good idea because that double layer would give the hem more structural integrity, making the rib last longer. Maybe. But that extra layer also turned out to be very useful for stitching on the lining without having to worry about the stitches being visible on the right side of the hat. Faaantastic.

My brother suggested that the ends of the lining not be attached to one another, but that they should just overlap instead. This way the lining will be the right size more easily and won’t lift the hat up. Also, this was far easier to do. I’m tempted to go make linings like this for all the knitted hats I wear regularly.

I am just happy about this hat because rarely does everything fall into place so well with anything I make.

If my brother likes the hat even half as much as I do, he’ll love it.

%d bloggers like this: