A few things I’ve been working on…

These were so close to being done before I went to Japan. All I had left was a toe. I wasn’t about to bring a project that was almost done, with airplane-incompatible needles, so I finished them right after we got back. The yarn is Pigeonroof Studios sock yarn, that I bought at Piedmont Yarn. I would kill to get some roving from Pigeonroof, but the yarn is almost as good. The base yarn is strong but soft, and has a nice sheen, and the short, random bursts of color make for interesting knitting, and almost no pooling! (Oh, and the pattern is Garter Rib from Sensational Knitted Socks.)

Last summer I started making granny squares for the Color Bar Blanket from the Stitch n Bitch Happy Hooker. I completed the squares in a few colors, and then they sat in a bag for several months. Lately I’ve been in the mood to make some more, especially during the heat wave we had last week. I’m almost through half the colors…just need to finish up this blue. There was a sale on Plymouth Encore at WEBS, so I got most of the other colors I need. If I don’t completely lose momentum, I hope to finish the squares and sew it all together over the summer so I will have an awesome afghan for fall!

This pattern came out last month over at Purl Bee. I instantly wanted to knit it…even though I’ve been queuing patterns and accumulating yarn for several bigger sweater projects, I can’t bring myself to start any of them right now. This shrug, however, is small enough, and wearable in the summer, so I finally decided to go find yarn and cast on. Our bamboo selection is a bit lacking at Piedmont Yarn, so I went to Article Pract on Sunday. There were several bamboo and cotton blend selections, but I couldn’t find a yarn I liked in a color that was inspiring (and wearable), or if I did, there wasn’t enough in the store (like a certain cotton tencel blend that I fell in love with). I went into the sale room and ended up coming out with several skeins of Berroco Glace, a rayon ribbon yarn, in an amazing deep indigo color. I’ll admit, it’s the color that did me in, but I’m pretty happy with how it’s knitting up. I just finished the first sleeve, and now I’m on the back. I’m trying to knit it fast and keep momentum because if I finish it, it will definitely get worn this summer.

James requested a hat last fall, I may have mentioned it at some point on here. It is to have mushrooms, snails, and squirrels. There will be earflaps, and we found some awesome buttons that will be integrated into the earflaps somehow (either decoratively or functionally, it is not yet clear). I did a little swatching a few months ago and started to cast on, but the size 1 needles and 190+ stitches were sort of uninspiring. I also realized more planning was necessary…I needed to draft an entire chart of all of the Fair Isle components, rather than just trying to wing it. I have been putting it off for several months now, but the other night I got motivated and drew up this chart. It looks like there will be 6 pattern repeats (3 repeats of the chart), for a total of 180 stitches. My chart is a conglomeration of several Adrian Bizilia charts (the mushrooms, snails, and swirls), and the squirrels come from a mitten pattern (pdf). The snails are actually significantly altered to fit into a smaller number of stitches. I have yet to start the knitting, but now that I have this chart I should be able to get at least to the crown decreases pretty easily. I know I will be using a provisional cast on so I can deal with the earflaps later on. If James is lucky, he might have this hat to wear next autumn…or winter. Those needles are still mighty small…

silk cowl

I knit most of this silk cowl while I was in Japan. I’d had the yarn for over a year, something I had purchased on eBay, but I never knew what to do with it. But when I saw the Butterfly Moebius pattern in Clara Parkes’ A Knitter’s Book of Yarn, the world of cowls opened up for me. The pattern only took 275 yards of yarn, and I had plenty for this cowl. I brought some of the yarn along on our trip, hoping it would be enough, but I ended up wanting it a little bit wider, so I finished it off after we returned home. I was so happy with it that I decided to make my Mom one as well, as a Mother’s Day gift. I made hers from exactly two skeins of Hempathy (about 300 yards). Unfortunately I forgot to get a picture of that when I finished it, but it turned out so different, and so lovely. The stitch pattern in the book is double seed stitch, but you could substitute other simple knit/purl stitch patterns just as easily. I love this pattern because it really shows off the yarn. Perfect for handspun…I’m sure you will see more of these.

Last night, after letting the idea brew in my head for a few weeks, I finally cast on for some striped socks for my sister. You may remember back at Christmas, when I finished only one mitten as her gift. Well, when I miss a deadline for gift knitting, I tend to lose momentum. I had started the second mitten, but as I got my comfortable with stranded knitting, my tension loosened up, and the second mitten was definitely coming out bigger than the first. I hid it away in the bottom of my knitting basket for awhile, and when I saw my sister at Easter, I asked her if she still even wanted the mittens. She said socks would be more useful to her, and since I was pretty much over those mittens, I happily dismissed them from my mind. After seeing the awesome spiraling stripe socks that Grumperina has been working on, I decided I would use some of the leftover yarn and do socks in this manner. Here are the beginnings:

I think they are coming along fabulously. I would like to finish them in a somewhat timely manner, even though I know she has no use for wool socks in the middle of summer in New York. Hopefully they will not languish for too long, and hopefully I will have enough of the fuschia yarn to knit both socks without having to frog the lone finished mitten. Because even if it’s not useful, it does look quite beautiful, and it would be a shame (and a pain in the ass) to rip it out.

Yesterday we went to check out the new Borders that just opened up in Alameda, and I bought Weekend Knitting with the gift card that was burning a hole in my wallet. There were a few other books I wanted that they didn’t have in stock, but Weekend Knitting has been on my list, and after looking through it again, I decided it was a must have. My most desired pattern in there is the Brioche Stitch Neckwarmer (and hat and scarf), but I realized there are also TWO Veronik Avery patterns, both of which I would like to make, and after I showed James the Backgammon Bag, it was a done deal.

For some reason Ravelry seems to be down right now, which totally sucks, because it’s the weekend and I need to be getting my fix before it’s Monday again and I have to go to work. I guess I’ll just have to keep myself busy with all this knitting I keep starting.

I made it a point not to overload myself with gift knitting this year, though I did strive to give handmade (whether by me or someone else) whenever possible. Still, in December I kept thinking of more ideas. There are a few little things I made that I didn’t get pictures of (felted bowls and a wrist pillow for my Dad) but these were the major achievements.

(from left to right)

-Seahorse stuffie! This is not knitting, it was hand-sewn. My first stuffie/softie toy like this of any sort. It only took me about two hours and it was a lot of fun! I made this for James’ sister; it was VERY well received. I bought the pattern here.

Phineas socks. I’m glad I started these early (at the beginning of November) because they took quite awhile, as socks always do. They were for my uncle who lives in Montana, so his feet need to stay toasty warm. The yarn is Louet Gems fingering weight. I haven’t heard anything, but hopefully they fit him ok.

Tiffany mittens. These actually are not finished. I had the first one done in time for xmas, so I wrapped it up. I would have had the other done, except that I was home with my sister (the recipient) the last few days before xmas. Since I have to mail them to her anyway, I took a little break, but I hope to have them finished up before the end of the month so she can actually get some use out of them this winter in New York.

Clementine Shawlette. This may look familiar. It was quite nice to have something done that far in advance, though I didn’t get around to blocking it until right before I sent it. My grandma loved it.

-Plain Jane slippers. This is a pattern that I acquired not long after I first started knitting. Unfortunately the link doesn’t seem to be active anymore, but luckily I have the pattern on my computer. This was my fifth pair, I think. I used Queensland Rustic Wool (superwash!). This pattern is awesome: fast and cute. Made these for Michelle, because she had wanting something knitted by me so badly. The little red heart buttons were the perfect finishing touch!

 
The Emporium Dome at the San Francisco Shopping Center

Could someone please tell me where the last 3 weeks went? I feel like all I’ve done is work, eat, and knit. Photographing and writing about knitting are luxuries that I just haven’t had the time to do, and just keeping up with other people’s blogs has proven nearly impossible.

Even though I said I wasn’t knitting many gifts this year, throughout November ideas kept popping into my head. I love all of the things I am making, but it still is time consuming, and a little bit stressful. I redid the short row heal on my uncle’s Phineas socks 3 times before I was satisfied, but it’s finally come out ok. It’s been a week since I finished the one sock and I’ve got to start the second one soon, but for now I am working on a mitten for someone else. I can’t say too much about that one in case the recipient happens to be reading.

I was also looking for something handmade I could do for quick gifts, so I made my first felted bowl.  I have plenty of random wool laying around to use for this, though I have bought some chunky solid wool from the yarn store I’m working in.  This is the first one I felted, using Freedom Wool.

This was my first intentionally felted object and it came out pretty good!  I hand-felted it in the sink; it took probably half an hour.  This wool felted really easily, being a chunky, loosely spun single.  I probably could have gotten that last little bit of stitch definitely out, but my hands were getting tired.  Next time I’ll wear rubber gloves.  The pattern is the one in One Skein, though knitting the bowl is just like making the most basic hat ever, and there are plenty of free instructions online.  I plan on putting baked goods and soaps in these for gifts.

P.S. I totally failed at NaKniSweMo.  More later…