Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Month of Firsts

First, let me say thank you to Kris and Kamika for their recommendations yesterday on fixing my uneven stitches. I blocked my original swatch last night and it worked! It made a big difference, even in how the yarn feels this morning. I simply soaked the swatch for about 15 minutes in cold water and then gently pressed out the water, first by hand then towel blotted (gently!). This was the first time I posted a question on my blog regarding knitting help! Thanks!

Before I go on, let me first thank my Valentine swap pal from Ravelry, Jinann who sent me my very first pair of pretty stitch markers! Before this gift, I used string and/or the standard Clover circles. I think this may be a new habit forming...

February maybe be short and the second month of the year, but it is first in my book, for I've got a long list of accomplishments this month... My first KAL, first fair isle project, first knitting swap, first time posting regularly to my blog, first time reading other knit blogs, first time making web buddies, first time finishing a sweater for myself, first time attempting to knit something based on sight and not the pattern, first knit-lit read, first time listening to pod casts, first time actually setting aside daily knit sessions and I started my first knitting bucket list. A month of firsts! Maybe this can be an annual thing. It sure is nice to look back and see how far one's come. Ah, I love February. God is good.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

There's Always One...

This is a call for help and a sanity check. I'm knitting the bottom of my fair isle vest which calls for 16.5 inches of k2p2 rib. To date, I've completed 6 inches. But looking closely at my work, there are a few uneven stitches, popping and twisting about, vying for attention. There's always one, trying to be the superstar.

Certainly I know nothing is perfect and this can in the end add charm, but by golly I don't want all these bad stitches spotting up my 16.5 inches of ribbing! The ribbing is the bulk of the vest! I don't want homemade. I want craftsmanship! Am I needlessly obsessing or is there something I can do? Will it fix itself in the blocking process? If it matters to note, I'm knitting continental on circular needles, my tension is moderate and I keep my stitches close the tip, but not clinging to the edge (if that makes sense).

Now, it could be the yarn. This Jaeger Extra Fine Merino feels nothing like my favorite Karabella Aurora 8. Karabella's merino is soft, smooth and very forgiving on stitch definition. The Jaeger feels a little rough and heavier in my estimation. I don't know, I don't know...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Musing on Starting My First Fair Isle and KAL

I'm working on my first knit-a-long with the Ebony Elite group that I joined through Ravelry. The KAL started February 15 and runs through March 15. After some hiccups with my first selection, the Sunrise Circle Jacket from Interweave, I settled on trying a new technique, a fair isle! I'm very excited to knit a fair isle vest.

Fair Isle has been something I wanted to try since I first learned how to knit. And, I've loved this vest since I first saw it in the Fall 2005 Vogue Knitting. The upside to the piece is that it's a good opportunity for me to get my feet wet with two strand knitting without pulling out my hair. (Please note: the picture above is not mine, it is property of Vogue Knitting Magazine).

Today, I'll show you the four colors I'm using. Proudly, they are all from my existing stash! The base color is a beige from Jaeger Extra Fine Merino. Cascade 220 in fuschia, a green Lornas Laces and I can't find the label for my electric blue yarn. I do remember though that it was purchased at Nana's this summer.

Looking at the hand wound yarn collectively, each ball is unique. The color is beautiful yet its raw shape is odd and potential unrealized. Though photographed together, each one exists alone, vying for space and attention. Check out the green ball, blurred into the background, or look at the spaces left between them. I've seen that void before, haven't you? Amazing that the strands will be woven together to create something new, different, lovely, unified and complete. Or, they can stay in the stash, beautiful but alone without a purpose. Knitting is more than technique or craft, it can be a good lesson in community and potential. I needed to remember that today.

Anyhoo, musing aside, I've also included a picture of my swatching. The base of the sweater is done with 8 needles and the fair isle is completed with size 10. Swatching the pattern was crucial for me to see how the colors went together. I settled on the blue/green mix and will pull in the fuschia as the tertiary color. When I started the pattern, I knit the strands with one hand, but once I got in the groove and watched a tutorial on, things worked more smoothly. Namely, I started knitting with both hands, utilizing the Continental and English methods which helped get the stitches more even. Although I'm on gauge, I will have to work carefully to make sure my stitches stay consistent and not too tight or loose. I'm very excited about posting my progress regularly. See you later.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

One word. Phew.

Sittin' in the park waiting for you-hoo-hoo /Sitting here on the bench / with my back against the fence / wondering if I have any sense / Something tells me I'm a fool / to let you treat me so cruel / but nevertheless I say again / you gotta me waiting / Sittin in the park, waiting for hoooo-hoo-hoo-hoo / Why oh, why oh, why oh, why oh, why oh, why oh, why / Sitting in the Park, lyrics by Billy Stewart

My dad loves this song, I do too quietly and it seems appropo for my journey and twisted relationship with the Central Park Hoodie. I googled the lyrics to get them right, but it doesn't show the group I have in mind, I think it was the Intruders, but it's too late at night to call my parents to confirm.

"Sitting in the park," once upon a time, well over 16 months ago, I embarked upon the Central Park Hoodie. It could have been a lovely short stroll, but I stopped and smelled the roses, took a few naps and became a project squator. At the end of the journey, it was darn right painful. I couldn't get through it! More than once I screamed like Florida Evans "Damn, damn, damn!" I'm so through with this sweater that I didn't even bother to make button holes, it's just going to be my lil Spring jacket sans closure. Oh, the irony! But ah, she is lovely isn't she? I do love her and am frantic that this baby is done.

Here's the short version of the convoluted story...My mother was supposed to crochet me Leigh Radford's Blizzard shawl from Scarf Style. We bought 8 skeins of Blue Sky Alpaca's cotton in the orchid colorway from Nina. We - she - got side tracked. Then a few months before delivering my wonderful son, I decided to use the stash to knit myself a little sweater that would be comfortable and nursing-friendly. This decision was encouraged by my bud/knit pupil Rochonda who was working on a baby dress from Debbie Bliss' Baby Knits for Beginners. The "simple" pretty little dress project is a whole 'nother story! Reflecting back, that whole knitting episode was curseed. OK, so back to knitting postnatal. Uh, yeah. No time for knitting, let alone a bath. I started strong though, got a lot of knitting done on the way to church or stealing in moments during nap time. Then the hoodie got put down, several knit baby shower gifts, finish this, start that...take a shower, you know how it goes. Fast forward to December 2007 when I blocked it and ran to get help from Tricia on seaming the shoulders. Still we eeked along for two more months. The hood was wisdom tooth painful. I don't know why. Doesn't matter parce que c'est fini!

Random side notes on the yarn: I love Blue Sky Alpaca! I've knitted with their suri yarn and alpaca before. The cotton did not disappoint. The color is beautiful and this baby is mad warm, cuddly and soft. The Blue Sky Cotton would be perfect for a baby or child sweater. The only annoying thing is that it is pilling a little, but I think it will add to the sweater's charm as I romp around the city this spring, when the weather breaks. The other issue that I'm just beginning to understand the sagging nature of cotton (doesn't bounce back like wool), not very elastic. When I blocked the sweater, it stretched a lot in length. If I did the sweater again in this material, I would modify the length.

Misc: I started this sweater with the intention of wearing it post-baby and to accommodate my nursing "figures." Now he's weaned and I'm getting back lean. (hey a rhyme!) Consequently, my sweater fits a big in the shoulders and is a little boxy. But, it works out because it will be my grocery store, errands, run to Starbucks, lounge around the house, take my son to tennis, hang out in the park hoodie.

Lastly, I can't speak more highly of the Fall 2006 Knitscene. I have worked on three projects from it. My working copy is banged up something awful. I do have a brand spanking new copy of this sold out edition if anyone is interested...

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Thankful Heart

I entered two swaps on ravelry at the same time, Malabrigo and the Valentine Swap. For the Valentine Swap, we agreed not to open our packages until the 14. Now, as I mentioned earlier, I am new to whole swap thing, so I was tickled when my secret pal sent me anonymous emails! Let me tell you, my package was wonderful. I'm very excited and very thankful. Jinann was very sweet to me. Hugs!

I received 2 skeins of alpaca. I really like alpaca! Paca ped for socks, I'm so curious! And a lovely skein of red alpaca with gold flecks in it. I also received a skein of Cascade 220 for some good ole felting! Yipee! Isn't my new knitting bag the cutest?

Check out my photos above to share in my delight, but let me also share a testimony, you never know how God will work things out, even in small matters. Ok, so I was in Target last month and picked up the Friday Night Knitting Club, you know how we do in Target...Go in for baby diapers, come out with a basket full of who knows what. I got to the counter with second thoughts. I'm really trying to be a better steward over my financial resources. It so easy to go overboard in this beloved hobby. I left the book in the store and my friend Kelley told me she would loan me hers. Then, this week, I was out of coffee beans. I love making my own lattes. I had already been to the store three times and consistently picked up way more than I should. It just wasn't prudent to go back one more time and further over budget. So, on Wednesday, I doubled ground some old Folgers decaf. Nuff said. Let me tell you on Thursday when I opened that package and saw the book AND french roast coffee beans, I was so happy. Had I opened the package earlier, I may not have appreciated those coffee beans the way I did last night. Did you know that Caribou french roast coffee glistens in the bag? Does all french roast? I hadn't noticed.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Only the Lonely Valentine Match-Up

Happy Valentine's Day! Now there is a place in my heart for eros love. The sensation of butterflies and tingles sparked by my husband's touch. The glee as a tween to fantasize that Ralph meant me when he stood up to Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky and Mike. Let's pause and sing the line together, shall we? "If I love the girl who cares who you like? New Edition I love you!!!! But beyond the thoughts of sugary sweet "Cool it Now" lyrics, beyond reveling in sugah from my hubby, way past the delight of any chocolate, truffle or cupid wing, is my valentine hope that perfect love abounds in your life. The love that restores and redeems. The love that is patient, kind, protecting, trusting, full of hope, joy and perserverance. There is no greater love. Seek after it and be fulfilled this Valentine's Day. Be encouraged.

Now on to a little Valentine fun. The Only the Lonely Match-Up. A few days ago I pondered the fate of lonely yarn. It seems absurd that just about everything can be repurposed...except for a ball of re-wound or messy yarn, perhaps without its label, definitely without a project to call its own. In the grand scheme of things it is still top quality fiber(yes I have snob tendencies), it is still lovely but unfortunately very lonely. It's not you fair fiber, its me! You are beautiful and I know there is someone out there to love you like you deserve.

Could it be you, my knitting friend? Do you believe in stronger love the second time around? Take a chance! Open your stash bin to new opportunities. The lovely in each picture below is yours to adopt today as-is for $2.14 plus the cost of shipping. To pull on your heart strings and in the interest of full-disclosure (no unadopting or throwaways allowed!), I will briefly share each adoptee's story.

1. Half Skein of Lamb's Pride Worsted (85 wool, 15 mohair) in M-34 Victorian Pink
This was one of the first skeins of wool I ever purchased. I posted the sordid details about the now defunk sweater I attempted with this yarn. She's pretty, but everytime I look at her, the premature death of my first sweater haunts me, beauty never realized.


2. One skein of unknown 100 percent wool in mustard yellow
Kool Knits in Naperville was having a going out of business sale, I saw her and envisioned a delicious quickie. I settled on the derby hat in Vogue Knitting, but it just wouldn't work. boo hoo.


3. One and one half skeins of Sorriso (33 wool, 67 polyamid) in pink/green/white
I thought I was having a girl. Got ahead of myself. Nuff said.


4. Tahki Charles Baby (100 wool) in blue
See number 2 for same sob story. I never attempted anything with this gem.


5. Karabella Jewels (40 tactel, 30 nylon, 28 cotton, 2 lurex) in 3844
Karabella is one of my favorite brands, so I gobbled up Jewels from a clearance bin. I had some gift ideas but when I got home, second thoughts overtook me. The colors are pretty but I realized that me and novelty yarns lack the chemistry needed to cook up true creativity.


6. Half skein of Berroco Plush (100 nylon) in white
My friend's son Josh got some really cute boots using this plush and berroco suede. What will you do with it?


7. 2 and 3/4 skeins of Berroco Plush (100 nylon) in electric blue
I wanted to make my newborn a baby sac with this yarn. Can you say Cookie Monster? What was I thinking? Oh that's right I was delusional from lack of sleep.


8. One skein, unknown novelty (100 nylon)
I think it is Paton's but I'm not sure. I started trying to duplicate a shawl I made using Karabella Magic. This yarn of course couldn't measure up to my former love. Awwww.


9. Partial skeins, Rowan, chunky print in a khaki green
Ah, we had some good times froclicking through Wrap Style. I love my capelet made from this yarn.


10. Partial skein, Crystal Palace Cotton Chenille in merdusud (teal)
I have a heart for this yarn, my mom and I got it together while shopping at a LYS. This year at our crochet and prayer group, Shepherd's Pride, I had the privilege of making a really pretty boa for the Christmas scarves project. Good memories.


11. One and one half skein, Patons Divine (79 acrylic, 18 mohair, 3 polyester) in deep earth.
I knew she was from the wrong side of the tracks. It was dark, I had a few coffees in me, she looked good.


12. Three quarters of a skein, unknown in cream
I picked her up with number 8. I was missing my relationship with Habu mohair. Trying to recreate the magic, but alas... I don't even know her name. I think it might be Patons glimmmer. Oh, I'm so ashamed!


13. One skein, Karabella labirinth (58 merino, 12 superkid mohair, 17 polyamid) in 31305, pink/beige/grey
She was alluring, but we came up short. I do have a hat, but I had hoped for a more fullfilling relationship.


14. One skein, Schachenmayr Bambino (60 cotton, 40 acrylic) in pink mix
Thought I'd make my newborn daughter a happy hat. Boy oh boy.


15. Partial skein, Malabrigo worsted (100 merino wool) in marine
I so love our time together making my Green Gable. Sheer delight. But I'm not interested in a little love. I want more! And since I'm stash busting, I need not be tempted by her hanging around.


Monday, February 11, 2008

I Ain't Been Knitting

Technically I've already blown the whole purpose of this blog, my unwitting and now bootleg accomplice in an effort to erect an accountability partner for my knitting. I haven't knitted in several days. boo hoo! The sticks briefly clicked over the weekend, but it was a distracted effort at best. Instead of reading my central park hoodie pattern or figuring out how to finish the brim on my MJB hat, I read blogs. However, if I could add some fine print to excuse the detour, it was all for knitting inspiration! Happily, I did get knit-inspired and blog educated. Hey how do you like my avatar? I learned that from Crimson Purl's (see her info below) blog. Did you know you could animate avatars? Anyhoo, I digress...I've checked out the blogs of some friends from the Ravelry groups. Funny thing happens, you stop at one blog and 10 blogs later...OMG where am I! But it was fun, educational and a needed rest from this week's madness. I must say there are some very talented knitters and bloggers out there. Bravo! For them that is...and for me, three lashes with a wet noodle because my UFOs are still floating in space. ET come home! I'm about 10 seconds from sending up a Hubble to keep an eye on things.

So when you need some rest or have read time, check out these blogs, many interesting things going on in the virtual neighborhood. I'll continue to post more as I have several bookmarked. Go on, get surfing (is that still an in-style term?) If you get lost, enjoy the ride, take in the "sites," and let me know what you think.

Crimson Purl

She recently knit some lovely projects. My favorite post was picture souvenirs from a baby shower at a local restaurant. Ah, sisterhood.

Skyline Chilly
Another talented knitter. She has a contest going on this month to support Leukemia. Go check out the beautiful sock pattern and leave a word of encouragement for her efforts.

A biologist, knitter, designer. That's a lot of talent. I connected with her comment "Watch her as she starts a project for herself and ditches it to knit a gift for someone else.

Tightly Wound Loosely Knit
Tightly Wound and her sister Loosely Knit are about to embark on a tag team adventure. To celebrate, they are spreading goodwill in a hearty contest. Go check her out.

Evil Tuesday
Devin is getting married in June and is knitting a wedding shrug for the big day. What a way to soothe wedding jitters.

Kinky Coils
Hair advice, oh so needed. And her writing is a hoot. Thank you!

Cozy's Place
As I mentioned earlier you can start at one blog and end up, 10 clicks later someplace completely different. Reading Kamika's blog sent me here. This woman is a funny writer.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Only the Lonely Valentine Match-Up

Originally uploaded by k_purls2
There goes my baby \ There goes my heart \ They're gone forever \
So far apart \ But only the lonely \ Know why \ I cry \ Only the lonely \
Only the lonely \ Know the heartaches I've been through \ Only the lonely \ Know I cried and cried for you \ Maybe tomorrow \ A new romance \ No more sorrow \ But thats the chance - you gotta take \ If your lonely heart breaks \ Only the lonely By Roy Orbison

What must it feel like to be discarded or stored away, for your beauty to never behold the light of day? What must it feel like to be ripped out, frogged and put into a ball when you were once a lovely hank, a scrumptious skein, whisked out of the store with delight, now stored away with empty promises? I think we know. How many of us have been loved and then dumped. Oh, the heartache! Only the lonely understand.

There are anti-cruelty societies for pets to find new homes, thrift stores for vintage clothes, heck even raggedy used cars get some love. So were does lonely yarn go? Without their label, converted to a ball or leftover from a project, these poor fibers are passed their prime, no longer needed and loved. This, my fellow knitters, should not be! OH, the heartache! Love is a battlefield!

I believe in my heart there is a place for these yarns. There are needles out there pining for 40 more yards, fingers longing for the touch of one more skein no longer sold. Artistic minds dreaming of gathering and creating, an adventurous spirit ready to try a new technique or weave a bright color. There's a place for the lonely!

Come back on Valentine's Day and see who's among the lonely. Karabella Aurora 8, Berroco Plush, Rowan, Malabrigo, Takhi and more. Odd, small, scrapped, once loved, but now lonely fibers looking for a home. Send for them as-is, take them home for only $2.14 plus postage.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Malabrigo Sweet Treat

My first swap completed! It was interesting to learn the ropes of swapping - the stalking, the creative shopping, the local treats, phew! I sent my package to Melissab, a friend from ravelry. Today I got this package from simplethings, now a new friend on ravelry. Two skeins of emerald blue malabrigo and one in bergamota. I probably would not have picked the bergamota in the store, so it is definitely a treat. I love it. I think I'm going to whip up the luxe neck warmer from Knit 2 Together (see picture above from the book). The bergamota could also make a beautiful hat, the color is very rich. Malabrigo is joy to knit.

Also included in my package was some wool wash, which I totally need a set of bamboo knitting needles and darning needles with a case. Thanks again neighbor!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Melody, Neckwarmer, Neckwarmer, Melody.


Hello, I'm Mehl-LOW-DEE!I I love my dear friend Melody. She carefully and joyfully annunciates her name to announce, actually proclaim her presence. Mel is quite a character, you'd love her. Very sweet, adventurous, giving and hilarious, oh and a great cook and entertainer. She is a closet diva, so it came as no surprise that she'd send me a pattern to "whip" up a 'lil scarf. Not just any scarf, a high collared neckwarmer. Funky, yet Elizabethan. Fabulous. Hmmm. Totally Melody.

This piece was crocheted in Autunno merino wool. It is uber soft and the color is scrumptious. It is a lovely chocolate and the french grey and black variegation contributes to its rich appeal, in my opinion.

I'm posting myself modeling the neckwarmer because Melody is a busy bee. Who knows when I'll see my buddy again? Alas, I have to settle for virtually gifting this gem. Yes I'm giving her the guilt trip that I lay on thick at every opportunity. What are friends for? Oh yes, I know...breaking in neckwarmers. This is going to be very cute with my coat. Wonder how a chic beret would flow with this? Mel, you better come get your neckwarmer, it is making its way to my rotation very shortly. Love you girl!