Sunday, November 25, 2007

Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend

Some knitters tend to pooh-pooh scarves as beginner projects. I can't say I agree with them, as there are certainly a lot of schmancy scarf patterns out there, but at the same time, I don't often find myself dreaming of my next scarf project. Then winter comes and my neck gets cold, and last years scarf doesn't match this years jacket and suddenly - a scarf must be knit and must be knit fast!



PATTERN: Diamond Scarf from Twinkle's Big City Knits by Wenlan Chia
YARN: Manos Del Uruguay 100% wool - 2 skeins
COLOUR: Jungle - 101
NEEDLES: 15mm addi turbos
MODS: Doubled the yarn - no fringe

At long last I knit myself a scarf from my long neglected Manos. After so much Twinkle frustration, I felt I was owed a successful FO from the book. And here we have it!



The diamond pattern gets pretty lost in the multi-coloured yarn, but I wanted something wide and mesh-y and that's exactly what I got! The width is perfect, though it could stand to be a bit longer. It's most definitely long enough to wear, and the openness of the pattern makes it nice and cooshy. I may eventually add fringe in a co-ordinating yarn, but for now it's going directly into high wardrobe rotation.

Next project? This:



I'm dusting off the crochet hooks for some quick Christmas presents. Hope I remember how to use them!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Snow Day!

Today I woke up to this:



Crap! I knew I should have put away the patio furniture! (The photo doesn't do it justice but that was freezing rain) To be more specific, I woke up to my clock radio announcing school bus cancellations. Whee! Snow Day! I took advantage of our unseasonably cold and snowy weather to stay at home and knit.

I picked up the 15mm's, popped in a movie and knit I did. And knit. And started a new ball. And finished that ball. And... yup. I ran out of yarn. In the back of my mind, I knew I was going to run out of yarn, but I just kept knitting. Hell - the pattern I was knitting told me I didn't have enough yarn, but I chose to ignore it. (I'm beginning to think I have some kind of knitting related learning disability.)

In the end, it wasn't such a bad, well, end. This made me stop, put my live stitches on a holder and try on the sweater. Verdict? Not so good. Firstly, the sweater was too big. (Okay, sure, it's super bulky yarn and the design has big puffy sleeves, but nonetheless: too big) Second, even if I were to knit the smaller size, I suspect I still wouldn't like the fit. I think I may have finally learned my lesson with the chunky knits. I say "may have" because let's not forget how slow I am to learn.

Frogged. Wound. Good-bye fair knitting:


Monday, November 19, 2007

The Jury has spoken

Belle it is!



I cast on Saturday night, and I'm well over half-way complete, despite having to run out and buy a new set of needles (12mm seems to be a very unpopular size).



I can't tell you how much I love this yarn. ...Okay, yes I can! I LOVE THIS YARN! Even knowing that it will probably see more pills than Marilyn's last days (the actress, not the sweater), I love it all the same. It's unbelievably soft - something that seems to be missing in the super-bulky yarn department. It has this squishy cotton ball type quality that makes me want to build a nest with it (Mmm...yarn nest). In the meantime, I'm happy to use the yarn for it's intended purpose, click clacking away with my surgical looking 15mm addi turbos.

To bide my time while awaiting the poll results, I cast on a couple of other tidbits.
The first, the "house slippers" from Knit 2 Together. My first felting project! The pattern is a great stash buster (I knit the yarn double) and despite a slightly confusing section in the pattern I finished them up in no time. Not owning a washing machine meant the fulling process would be a little more challenging. They languished in the laundry pile for a few days, but eventually the slippers enjoyed a full cycle in both the washer and dryer. Here are the slippers before:



Here they are after.



What the...? They hardly look any different at all! And they're knit from Lopi, possibly the stickiest of itchiest of wools! Given all the time and care I put into not turning my woolen garments into big lumps of felt, I feel a little cheated that these slippers survived the wash virtually unscathed. (Not to mention my boyfriend did the laundry. Usually a sure-fire way for a girl to get shrunken clothing.) I assume the lack of appropriate felting was a result lack of appropriate agitation. (For the slippers that is. My agitation is just fine.)

While it's back to the laundry pile for the slippers, I'm also working on a scarf:



This is the second time I've picked out a Barbara Walker pattern and attempted to knit up a scarf with this yarn and for the second time I'm just not feeling it. What I am feeling is the chill of the rapidly approaching winter. If there's anything that can motivate a knitter, it's the threat of a cold neck. As blog as my witness, this yarn will become a scarf this winter!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Game on!

The cable and rib dress is no more. I really don't have any issues with ripping it out. Sure I spent a lot of time knitting it, but what's the point in holding on to something I'm never going to wear? Plus, now I can make the yarn into something that I WILL wear. And that means more knitting! Win/win!

I'm playing a game of match-the-yarn-to-the-sweater. Here's the yarn:





Here's the sweaters:



I can't say I'm winning. Some of the yarn is from thrift stores, and while it came with labels, they're old-timey:



Old-timey labels don't tell you yardage or gauge (at least these don't). So I've got twelve ounces of this stuff. Great! Thanks label! After many calculations and educated guesses I just bit the bullet and went with the tried and true: the measuring tape. Now I know that one ounce = 65 meters (and one helluva tedious measuring process.) Now it's swatchy time!

At least I know the yardage with my Twinkle yarn, yet I'm having trouble deciding on a pattern. Maybe you can help me out?

My vote for most figure-flattering:


Belle Cardigan


My vote for most fashionable:


Shopping Tunic


My vote for most practical:


Rockefeller Sweater


What's your vote?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

20 lbs in 20 seconds!

No, it's not a miracle diet. Allow me to explain.

I have been dressing myself for close to 30 years now. I watch a lot of What Not To Wear. I like to think I dress fairly well, and I try to stay away from trends that will not work with my body shape. So why dear readers, hast my knitting forsaken me?

I put a lot of thought into choosing this pattern. I thought it would be flattering. Unlike many women, I am not pear-shaped. Quite the opposite. All of my weight is in the top. I'm upside-down pear shaped...unh...Ice cream cone shaped. I know this and I try to work with it. I was sure that the ribbed upper portion would hug the curves I like (*cough* chest) and the cabled bottom portion would round out my less than ample hips and bum.
I was SO. WRONG.



GAAHHHHHH!

I put this on and my self esteem packs it's bags and runs out the door. I look like a big woolly sausage! A sausage with a uni-boob! Why am I posting such a terribly unflattering picture of myself on the Internet? (That's the job of my family and friends!) Because I'm shocked and amazed at how the wrong piece of knitwear can add 20lbs to your frame in 20 secs. This is what I look like under the offending wool monster:



I'm no waif, but certainly much better, no? Although, I swear I usually wear pants. (I don't consider leggings pants, contrary to what a lot of women on the street are wearing these days.)

The Drops Cable and Rib dress is destined for frogsville. What have I learned? Considering I'm thinking of casting on a new Twinkle design: absolutely nothing. The Shopping Tunic I've been hoping to knit for ages breaks all of the What Not to Wear rules for girls shaped like me:



High neck? Not for those with larger chests. Bulky knits? Only for the slight of frame. Horizontal stripes? Okay, I'd be knitting the solid version, but everybody knows the dangers of stripes, right? I just have a bad habit of falling in love with the style of something and ignoring how it may fit me. Considering the yarn was free and it's a quick knit, I might just cast it on anyway. (I'm either terribly stubborn or a terribly stupid). Stop laughing and wish me luck I won't have to post about the sausage's second coming!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Oh Baby!

Now that baby Riley has seen fit to grace us with her presence, I can finally reveal my secret baby knitting!

First off, another pair of baby uggs:



As much as I love this pattern, I find it infinitely frustrating that one skein of the faux suede yarn yields exactly three baby booties. This means you either end up with one pair of booties and a partial skein of rather useless novelty yarn, or you buy two skeins and knit 3 pairs of booties. Good thing my friends keep getting knocked up!

The next project was my vacation knitting. I cast on at the airport:


(Yes, the wine drinking began before landing in France. Heck, the bar was right beside our gate!)

Did a little train knitting:


(I swear I didn't wear the same shirt the whole vacation!)

And voila!



Pattern: Classic Baby Cardigan by Debbie Bliss from Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer 2007
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino
Colour: 005
Needles: 2.75mm, 3.25mm Addi Turbo Lace needles
Notes/Modifications: The original pattern has a contrasting colour around the collar. If I were to knit it again, I'd add another row or two of garter stitch at the edges to prevent curling. I might also devise a way to knit it in one piece - top down perhaps? I knit the sleeves and fronts two at a time to make sure they were the same length.

I really like this little sweater! It was a little bit fussy, as it's knit in pieces then joined together at the yoke, but well worth the effort. The yarn has great stitch definition, usually a plus, but in my case it only served to define my sloppy knitting:



Oops! It is exceptionally soft though, and the fact that it's machine washable is more important to me than anything else. (Cashmere is beautiful, but I don't want to send my friends to the dry cleaners every time the baby spits up!) I'm also quite pleased with my button selection - if I do say so myself. The buttons I bought in Lyon work perfectly with the colour!



When I returned home to find the baby was still a no-show, I thought I'd use the leftover yarn (and leftover time) to make a matching hat:



Pattern: Baby Hat with Leaf Edging
Yarn: See above
Needles: 3.25mm addi turbo lace needles (magic loop)
Notes/Modifications: I don't really like the way the border flips up. I have it flipped up further than the pattern picture shows 'cause it just didn't seem to sit right. The pattern has you knit reverse stockinette for the portion that overlaps - I think this was the problem. Maybe garter stitch would work better? I'd have to experiment.

Speaking of experiments, how's this for innovative blocking:



Globe style light bulbs are conveniently similar in size and shape to baby-noggins. Bonus - if you turn the lamp on, the heat from the bulb helps dry the yarn!



With a couple of days to go before meeting the new arrival and still an ample amount of yarn left, I cast on one more time:



Pattern: Better than Booties Baby Socks by Ann Budd
Yarn: See above
Needles: 2.25mm thrift store dpns
Notes/Modifications: I ended up working an "interpretation" of the pattern by working the cable twist every 5th row instead of every 4th. I used the short row heel and toe method from the instructions, but if I were to knit them again I'd just use my preferred method. The slightly heavier weight yarn meant the socks were a little bigger than the pattern suggests, but enh? Who cares? Babies, grow, right?

There you have it folks! Now the knitwear lies with it's rightful owner. (I met little Riley last night, she sneezed on me, it was grand). How frustrating to knit in secret for so long and then blow four finished projects in one post! Please savor them!

Friday, November 09, 2007

C'est Tout

It's been a week since I returned from France and reality is setting in. Bread seems lackluster. Wine consumption is low. I've seen far too many people sporting sweatpants. On the upside: there's knitting!

I saw exactly two other people knitting the whole time I was in France. One lady, knitting a fine gauge fair aisle baby hat, I spotted at the airport. A French knitter? She may have spoken French, but alas: Quebecois. She turned out to be a fellow passenger on my flight - a Canadian. The other knitter was spotted on my train from Monaco to Paris. She was knitting away at a hideous orange scarf with what seemed like 10 different kinds of novelty yarn. Yikes! I thought French women were famous for their fabulous taste in scarves! Upon further inspection (giving her a once-over while on my way to the loo) it appears she wasn't French at all, but Italian (no offense to Italian women and their taste in scarves). I know knitting in France is not as "cool" as it is in North America, but I thought I might spot at least one in her native habitat!

The serious lack of French knitters may explain this little number:



A child's sweater hanging in the window of a Paris boutique. So what, right? The nice thing about window shopping in France, is that the prices are always displayed as well:



270 EUROS!!! That's $373 Canadian dollars! Now I know we've all seen something in a store and thought; "I could make that", but c'mon! It's a garter stitch cardigan! Even in cashmere it's overpriced!

But I shan't bully the French. They may have great food and great fashion, but their knitterly deficit has them paying through the nose for baby garb. Quel Dommage!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

More Francing: Lyon

At some point during this vaycay I started to refer to any activity we engaged in as "Francing". You know, like "prancing" but... French. After a few days of Francing in Paris, we headed to Lyon. Lyon is known to be the gastronomic capitol of France:



I know, right? But apart from the food, it also has a long silk weaving history. I stopped by the La Maison des Canuts, to check out some silky business:







Along the way, something found it's way into my companion's pocket.



A silk cocoon! He claims he the bowl of cocoons were free handouts, but I find that questionable. Regardless of it's aquisition, it's still a far better souvenir than the overpriced silk scarves they were selling in the gift shop.



While there was no yarn in sight at the silk museum, I stumbled upon some elsewhere while just francing around:



From a distance it looked like any other store in Lyon, but we can all sense yarn from a mile way right? Upon closer inspection, the window displays confirmed my suspicions:



La Droguerie is a chain of French stores that sell buttons, beads, and yes, yarn!



The yarn was displayed on the wall in hanks, and sold by weight. This meant having to actually ask someone to help me... in French. I'm quite proud that I made it through the transaction and the salesgirl actually understood my "franglais".

Regarder - petits oiseaux!:



(Secret unbloggable baby project to be revealed as soon as baby itself revealed)

Un kit:



The package includes 17 different colours of alpaca and a larger skein of bamboo to make a striped scarf or fingerless gloves (pattern included).

And my favourite:



Two skeins of bamboo in the most gorgeous indigo colour. I love the colour so much I want to eat it! (Luckily, I had that baguette in the background) I don't have a project in mind, but I'm thinking something scarf-y. Unfortunately I have no idea what the yardage/gauge etc is. (I know there are ways to find out such things, but the added bother will mean I'll probably just wing it and risk disaster)

***NEWSFLASH***

La premiere preggers friend has brought a new baby girl into the world! Congrats Derek and Gabby! Your offspring shall be swaddled in knitwear as soon as I get my paws on her!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Gretel Goes to Paris (and me too!)

She explores the Bastille!



Drinks bubbly French water!



Frequents cafes!



Takes the Metro!



Contemplates cheese!



Regards modern architecture!



Goes to a rock club!



Sees the sights!




Gretel and I had a great time in France! She kept my noggin toasty while I trotted around Paris getting lost and eating cheese (not that one has much to do with the other). I won't go on and on about my vacation (after all, this is supposed to be a knitting blog, right?), but I will say this: A lot of what you may think of France is true: The food? Outta sight. Fashion? French people, on average, are much better dressed than their North American counterparts (Not a ball cap or sweat pant in sight!). Cafes? On nearly every corner. And the wine? Not only delicious, but cheaper than Snapple (well, sometimes). Need I say more?

The trip was not without it's snafu's. We had just a teensy bit of trouble getting home. Upon checking in for our 3pm flight on Tuesday, we were informed that our flight had been delayed - Until 6am the next day! (Of course they told us this after they checked our bags.) We were told to wait for more information. Then the 6am flight turned into 10am. Then 10am turned into 3pm. 3pm Thursday.

People were furious. One couple was supposed to move the next day. One girl, a law student, was missing a very important exam. Another girl was going to miss her brothers wedding! Needless to say, the staff at Charles de Gaulle were very lucky to have a plane-load of stranded Canadians. Angry as we were, we retained our composure. The airline paid for hotel accommodation and meals, but it was a long and tedious process. To top it all off, when we finally landed in Toronto, we had to wait 45 minutes for our baggage! The airline customer service department is going to be very busy this week.

My luck turned around when I got home and checked the mail finding this waiting for me:



The 25th anniversary issue of Vogue Knitting Magazine had a little contest where if you sent them a postcard with your address, you could win one of 25 copies of their new book. My good luck with knitting related contests is starting to frighten me!