Two Left Needles

Knitting, spinning and dyeing
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Still big and round here. And still gaining weight!

Ze Clapotis, she ees blocked:

Clapotis - blocking

Isn't the striping cool from afar?

Clapotis - blocking

The Artyarns Supermerino socks are in a baggy waiting for labor. (My sister helped me to realize that planning projects (plural) to take to the hospital really didn't make sense. But we did reason that taking one project was OK. Just in case.)

The Ribby Cardi I resurrected had the back done. In the last week I've added the two fronts and 2/3 of each sleeve to the pile. I'm making adjustments for row gauge, and I'm not sure how my modifications will work out. I may block what I have of the sleeves to see how the to-armpit length looks.

I'm getting really bored knitting it so monogamously, though. I sooooo want to start knitting a summer top! And all the tops I have in mind need this baby to pop so I have an idea of fit.

So I started another pair of socks, Grumperina's Jaywalkers with the Lorna's Laces Amethyst Stripe. And, color me clueless, but it never occurred to me that Amethyst Stripe would, like, totally stripe.

No photos of those projects, so...

The yarn, it is taunting me

Besides what I bought from Knit Happens' crazy sale, I partook in Yarnzilla's sale and got some goodies. Some Rowan Damask for the little wrappy-do in the lastest Rowan magazine:

Rowan Damask

More Calmer, in Garnet, enough for a top for me! Summer Tweed for something for Scott.

Claudia Handpainted sock yarn:

Claudia Handpainted

and a few skeins of Koigu:

Koigu KPPPM

Mmmmm, Koigu:

Koigu KPPPM

I've not bought so much sock yarn before. Or currently selling yarns for actual projects (never mind Rowan yarns). There are actual current patterns available for these yarns! I'm so used to buying rag-tag and willy-nilly from sales, or getting full bags from discontinued lines; and then casting about for patterns that might work with the yarns. Inevitably, buying yarns without project plans (or ideas, at the very least) leads to yarns sitting around, marinating, waiting for "inspiration" to hit. This is quite a new feeling. It's exciting!

And the sock yarn thing, also new. I've not been much of a sock knitter, especially for fingering weight sock yarns. Finishing the Fleece Artist Summer Anklets did something to me. I always thought knitting socks on #1's or #0's was a bit on the insane side, something that would drive me batty. The Fleece Artist anklets were knit on 2.5mm Addi's. Which, I didn't realize, are effectively #1's. I did it without realizing! So I'm a little less intimidated/daunted now.

(Not to mention, knitting socks SO does not depend on my belly.)

Here's more proof:

Artyarns Ultramerino 4

Artyarns Ultramerino 4 from a sale at Sarah's Yarns (sorry, she's all sold out). I LOVE the colors of the middle skeins. Can't wait.

And I'm officially all budget-monied out. For a while. Quite. A while.

No baby, but I did have another false alarm. Monday 2am, mild contractions every 10 minutes for 8 hours. We had a regular appointment scheduled for 11:30, so I hopped in the shower and wouldn't you know it, they stopped. Harumph. Next time, I take a nice long shower MUCH earlier. ;)

After finishing the last 3 baby knits (buttons, too! just waiting on sunshine for photos), I've been hunting around for the next project. I wasn't sure I wanted to knit another baby knit. I really want to knit a sweater for myself, but figure I should wait to see what my body will look like post-delivery. I made some progress on the Summer Anklets, the blue/orange socks I recently started; but then wanted to photograph the colors in the skein (again, waiting on sunshine), so that's on hold.

Instead of starting a bunch of new projects, I decided to look at my WIP's and finish something if possible. My WIP list jumped up to 22 with the baby knits -- not good!

Enter Fish Bag, my first pseudo-intarsia project, started in Aug '02:

Fish Bag - in progress

Pseudo, because I stranded the main color instead of joining a new ball of yarn.

I think the fish pattern was in an old Vogue Knitting magazine, with the background being blue and fishies being, well, fishy colored. But I worked with what I had, odds and ends from Webs. After knitting the front, I knew I would run out of the main color, so I striped the back instead:

Fish Bag - in progress

Working with so many colors and without a pattern was definitely out of my comfort zone! Weaving in the ends was a bear, and the hole I left for the drawstring was too small:

Fish Bag - in progress

Fish Bag - in progress

I wasn't sure what to do to make it better, and didn't feel up to fixing it or sewing a lining, so it sat. (And sat.)

My first step was to undo the seaming at the top and sew down the edges with thread:

Fish Bag - in progress

so I could fold it over and have a clean edge:

Fish Bag - in progress

I sewed down the flaps, which include my niece's name (her middle name is knit in the other side):

Fish Bag - in progress

I knit too many rows for the flap so I sewed down 2 rows lower than I planned:

Fish Bag - in progress

but I think it won't be so noticeable. Folded, the edge looks just right:

Fish Bag - in progress

I've sewn the lining, but, being totally clueless about sewing linings, it's on the smallish side. I'd like to sew another lining that fits better. After all this work, it makes sense to, no?

My March UFO Resurrection project was Trellis. Last summer I had finished the back and barely started the fronts before losing momentum. I picked it up again at the beginning of February and quickly finished the fronts and most of the sleeves before again losing momentum and getting distracted by Scott's Re-Grow, finishing Diamond in the Rough for Spa, spinning Lagoon for Twisted Knitters, and getting my ass in gear and knitting something for the little goober.

Alas, I didn't spend any of March working on Trellis, so I feel it's not quite fair to use it as my March UFO Resurrection project. Instead, I've picked a project to say goodbye to.

Last seen 13 months ago, Gram's Socks, knit in Fleece Artist merino:

Gram's sock - first sock done

I wasn't feeling the love on the socks. First, I had to re-knit it because Gram's feet swelled up quite a bit for quite a while, and the socks as originally knit no longer fit (not even close). I added a bunch of stitches as well as ribbing to compensate; but it was becoming clearer that, even if I finished, they wouldn't get used. Gram didn't wear socks, she wore hose. None of her shoes could accommodate socks. And unlike me, Gram always wore shoes, indoors and out. Further, as she continued to decline, it was clear she wouldn't be able to care for or keep track of handknit socks.

I feel really bad saying goodbye to this project, but I know I won't finish them. Instead, I'd rather knt something that she will be able to use, and that will survive with regular washer/dryer care. Maybe a sweater vest or something for her room. That will be a good project for 2007.

Eyelet Dress

Glad you liked Tangerine Cardi! Wait 'til you see the buttons Scott picked out for them, too cute.

The magenta project I call Eyelet Dress, another Debbie Bliss knit. The back is already done!

Eyelet Dress - back done!

The yarn is Crystal Palace Biwa, a 100% mercerized cotton, knit on smaller than the recommended needles. After scouring my many Debbie Bliss books and being disappointed that there weren't many patterns for Cotton DK (her only cotton I have), and that the cuter patterns were in smaller gauges, I attacked my yarn room to figure out what other cottons I had. I bought a bunch of cones of Biwa several years ago on eBay from someone clearing out their stash, and never used it. If all goes well with this knit, I have at least one other suitable color in the stash.

The pattern is written for DB wool/cotton, which naturally has a different hand than 100% cotton (it's softer/squishier and more drapey, for starters). But I don't think it'll be a problem. Gauge is gauge, right? (I think the correct answer is: Sometimes.) Besides, wool allergies aside: 50% wool in a summer tank dress???

Speaking of gauge, I'm not getting gauge. Ha! Over 4", I'm getting 24 sts instead of 25, and 33 rows instead of 34. It's a baby knit, so I think I'll be fine; and I made one slight change to compensate.

Summer Anklets

The socks will be anklets because I only have 1.8 oz of yarn to work with. It's Fleece Artist merino, purchased in Halifax at LK Yarns. They had a basket of odd-weight skeins and I managed to buy only one. I love the colors!

For Mouse: For this weight yarn, I start with 20 stitches using a figure-eight cast-on and increased every other row to (for my feet) 56 sts. Gives me a good toe shape.

Clapotis

Clapotis is coming along nicely:

Clapotis - in progress

I'm about 2.5 skeins in, and I'm thinking I might have to find a 6th skein. I'm not so pleased about having to start mid-ball to maintain the striping sequence and I'm hoping all the unused ends will get used eventually (or I'll need a 7th skein). So far, I'm not at the crazy/bored stage; I think the colors are keeping me entertained.

Thanks for the nice comments on the shawl! It feels totally weird because, hehe, I knit most of it thinking I might be the only that liked it. But I'll take it.

I think we've established that I'm in many ways a geek. It should therefore come as no surprise that Scott is one too.

Most of us are content to buy PC's that come assembled, that only require you to push a button to hear bleeps and blips. Not Scott. He scours the 'net for information, carefully picks his parts in line with his budget (he saves his monthly budget for big upgrades, while I fritter mine away on fiber and yarn) and to maximize his gaming experience. He's been saving for a while, and now has a new toy!

Before

Before

Before

After

After

I could try to rattle off specs, but let's just say, he's pretty happy with it. He especially likes the glow:

Ooooooh, aaaaaah

Me, I'm happy he's happy. And, I get his hand-me-down parts, so I'll have my own upgrade soon, too!

In knitting news...

After unexpectedly finishing the knitting on the shawl, I had no knitting lined up. Still jacked up on my UFO Resurrection kick, I picked up Trellis, last seen in August.

I hope that post is incorrect and what's pictured are the fronts, as I'm currently knitting the sleeves and don't remember having knit them before...

It didn't take long for me to remember why I left this knit in the dust. The yarn. Not wool. Rowan All Seasons Cotton, which, while nice, has no wool. I like wool. I don't like no-wool.

But, I'm persevering. The fronts are pretty much done:

Trellis - fronts

12 UFO's to knock out this year; this one will be my March project.

For Beth:

Diamond in the Rough - in progress

And again:

Diamond in the Rough - in progress

I love the subtle striping.

It's narrower than I expected, but blocking will take care of that. I'm not sure how much I want to block, probably just enough to make the pattern read. It's plenty big already, so no need to be aggressive.

There were 3 balls of yarn, and when switching to a new ball, I simply knit the two together for a few stitches, instead of doing a russian join. I figured the silk content might not felt so well. And I was lazy. I plan to either leave-as-is-and-snip-the-extra, or do-minor-weaving-in-of-ends post-blocking.

I weighed the shawl to determine when to begin decreasing. Good thing I went slightly conservative because this is all that's left:

Diamond in the Rough - in progress

There is one row with an unusual stitch that I just couldn't remember between sittings. Each time, I'd have to "think think think think think" and reverse engineer the stitch, only to forget it 1 or 2 weeks later. When I picked up the shawl again a couple of weeks ago, naturally I had forgotten again; after spending half an hour figuring it out again, I admitted how ridiculous the situation was. In lieu of carrying around a copy of the pattern, I tagged my shawl with the instructions:

Diamond in the Rough - in progress

And naturally, because I finished it in one breath, I didn't need it! The tag idea is super-handy, though, and I plan to use it. Again.

It felt really good to pick up Norwegian Hat after 9 months and finish it! Actually, re-start and finish it, if you want to get technical... and actually, if we're getting technical, it is technically done, but may possibly be re-finished to fix the fit. But who's getting technical???

For my February UFO Resurrection project, I picked up the sad and lonely handspun shawl that was started (and dropped) last August:

handspun shawl - in progress

While I really like the yarn (soft 2-ply rambouillet/silk handspun), and I think it works well with the pattern to make a cosy everyday shawl, it was kinda boring to knit. Not only that, because I'm working wing to wing, the rows get longer and longer and ...

The other reason I neglected it was because my website traffic stats showed that it was being looked at by a group of snarky knitters. And that really upset me.

It seems silly to be so thin-skinned about it, especially when I don't know what was said. But at the time it really bothered me that there was a group of people gathered in secret with the intent of ridiculing other people's knits. It's so easy to criticize, mock and laugh at others' creations, and so much harder to do the creating. Just as it's so much more work to create a blog post, but only takes a moment to leave a harsh comment on someone else's.

I suppose it wouldn't have bothered me so much if I knew what was being said and who was saying it. Maybe I would have agreed with some of the points. But to do it in secret while leaving a "traffic trail" so I knew I was being targeted ... not so cool.

Anyway, I got over it.

I made a lot of progress in the last week, especially during a day-long Microsoft event:

Diamond in the Rough - in progress

and now that I've hit the widest point and have started decreasing, it's going fairly quickly! My goal is to have it finished in time for Spa.

I've been wearing Norwegian Hat for a week and still haven't decided if I'm going to redo the lining. It's a little tighter than I'd like, but it sure is warm and all sewn up and stuff. I know I'll feel marginally better about the fit if I re-did the lining. But it's a lot of work for marginally feeling better, y'know?

I took a page from Ms Hello Yarn for the lining and used up some 4-ply DK cashmere I had leftover from my birthday scarf.

I guessed on the number of stitches I wanted for the lining, and after picking up stitches from the provisional cast on, decreased accordingly. The yarn is a similar weight to the Jaeger I used for the hat, maybe a hair heavier; if I had used a lighter weight yarn, I'd have less bulk issues, and therefore a looser fit. But it's so purty:

Norwegian hat - sewing in the lining

and though no one else can see it, it does match my scarf:

My Birthday Scarf

Too short a lining made the bulk more noticeable. I put the stitches onto waste yarn several times to test the look and fit and decided on a good sized lining. After pinning it into place, I basically kitchenered to a row of knitting using black JaggerSpun Zephyr.

Norwegian hat - sewing in the lining

I kept the kitchener stitches loose because I didn't want the point-of-kitchenering to pucker the row, but after the fact I realized they were too loose, so the purl row folding edge is not perfectly at the folding edge, if ya know what I mean. I could go stitch by stitch and tighten it up.

Off the head, the row does look a little puckered:

Norwegian hat

But on the head, it's not at all noticeable.

There is zero itch factor with the cashmere, and the hat really keeps my head toasty, even with the frigid temperatures we had last week. Because it's tighter than I would prefer, it does flatten my hair a bit. Again, I haven't figured out if I will make any changes. But... considering how much effort I put into this hat, perhaps it's worth re-doing?

If I did make changes, I'd reknit the lining entirely and with fewer decreases, therefore having slightly more stretch to the hat. If I were really serious about it, I'd switch to a lighter weight cashmere so there'd be less bulk to boot. But I don't have anything nearly as pretty lying around.

Maybe another week will decide it.

Meanwhile, here's my current Twisted Knitters project:

Lagoon on the Schacht
colors not quite accurate

It's the superfine merino I dyed a few weeks back and started spindling. I'm not a big spindler since the wheel, so if I'm going to get anywhere with Twisted Knitters, it's gotta be on the wheel. I'm not quite happy with how my Schacht is handling laceweight (it hiccups and tugs on the fiber supply) but I'll make it through this batch.

Norwegian hat is done! For now. I'm not 100% sure on the lining, but I figure I'll wear it for a while and see how I feel. (I do like wearing it.) Photos when I can combine Scott, sunlight and me with hat.

I want to do a post but I'm not feeling very post-y. Know what I mean? I've been fighting off a cold the last several days and I'll be heading to bed early again today to ward it off.

The little goober gave me a scare last week. She's been very active throughout my workday for the last couple of weeks, and without warning, went into seeming hibernation for several days. That and a couple of other things panicked me so off to the doctor we went, Scott driving and consoling, me crying. Everything is fine, everything checks out, and naturally, as soon as I was back in the office, she started moving around again. I'm sure an ultrasound would have revealed an innocent look on her face. I'm back to trying not to worry about things I can't control, and she's back to bopping around to her own drummer.

There has been some spinning, but I'm not up to talking about it. Here's a peak, though:

Crosspatch Creations
Crosspatch Creations batts spun up

What I can show you without much talk is some fiber that's joined the flock in the last couple of months.

From The Fiber Denn, some lovely finn and merino (8 oz ea):

Fiber Denn finn in Blue Fescue Fiber Denn merino in Poppy
I want to eat up those blues

From Hello Yarn, gorgeous merino/silk (4 oz ea):

Hello Yarn merino/silk Plush and Lavish
my photos don't do the colors justice, though Adrian's photos are quite good

And from Alpaca Direct some Ashland Bay multi-colored merino (found them via Google Checkout promo) in Sandalwood (2 lbs) and Sapphire (4 oz):

Ashland Bay multi merino in Sandalwood Ashland Bay multi merino in Sapphire

All happy shopping experiences. Yum yum.

After several attempts and Pooh bear style thinking, I finally got a crown that works and that I like:

Norwegian hat - in progress
stretched over a CD case

Onto the lining!

Today would have been the perfect day to wear either pair of socks. This winter has been so mild that hand knit socks just haven't been in my head. On autopilot, I sailed out of the house in the usual black cotton socks. And my feet were COLD. Twenty minutes in a toasty work environment and they were STILL cold.

All winter my office stays warm. Overwarm. Most of my handknits don't get worn because I'd be sweating bullets by noon. In fact, these days, I usually have to take my socks off mid-afternoon because they get too warm. Not today. Today was a good handknit-sock-wearing day.

Alongs

I joined me some knitalongs for the New Year. First, Stranded: The Colorwork Challenge:

Silly me, I was on the lookout for a repeat of MJ's Norwegian Knits-Along from last year and it took a while for me to realize Stranded is Norwegian Knits-Along (on steroids).

Second, I joined the 2007 UFO Resurrection:

Now, usually I wouldn't join something like this because the pressure is too great. I'm weak. I lack KAL stamina. However, I really want to whittle my WIP list further. Last year I downsized from 67 to 24 WIP's during my WIP Management campaign. I know. 67 WIP's. Doesn't it make you feel faint? I managed that in just over 6 months. My next goal is to get (and stay) within the 12-18 WIP's range. It's totally do-able. And it's something I want to accomplish. With the UFO Resurrection challenge, I have a whole year to wipe out some old knits.

To get things started right, I picked up the Norwegian Hat I started last April at the end of the Norwegian Knits-Along. Here's where it was:

Oh hat - in progress

It's basically the Bea Ellis Ufserud (modeled after MJ's) with modifications and knit at a finer gauge. I didn't want to buy the kit, so I had reverse engineered the pattern, adjusted for gauge, and added side panel details to make my stitch count work out. After a good evening's knit it looked like this:

Norwegian hat - in progress

I had been working on bamboo dpn's but they were aggravating the hell out of me. So I switched to Addi circs and Ahhhhhh. My stitches evened out and I settled into a good rhythm.

Unfortunately, when I transferred to 2 circs and tried the hat on, it was tight. Tight enough that I knew it would be uncomfortable. Tight enough that it wouldn't stretch with wear.

So I left it on the needles and cast on again. This time I noodled and adjusted the pattern for more stitches and knit an inch and a half before trying it on. Too LOOSE! Too many stitches and looser knitting.

You see, it all makes sense. I blithely laughed at Anne's misfortunes the other day, and in the back of my head, I knew the knitting gods would smite me. They did. Boy did they.

I frogged back. After many calculations, I decided to try my luck with what I had before, hoping that my looser knitting would compensate enough for it to be wearable. It did. Just. Enough.

Norwegian hat - in progress

I was quite excited to be almost binding off last night, I never imagined it would go so quickly!

Norwegian hat - in progress

And then I realized today at lunch that I was knitting on crack. While I really liked the way the decreases don't disrupt the pattern:

Norwegian hat - in progress

I found no less than 3 mistakes in the side panels post-decreases:

Norwegian hat - in progress
too many rows

Norwegian hat - in progress
what was I smoking???

Norwegian hat - in progress
too many rows

It's pretty funny. Only 1 panel was fine.

I'll frog back and pay a little more attention, finish it up right. I'm not sure how those side panels ought to meet up yet (at the top), but I'll figure something out.

Meanwhile, there is one mistake I'm not bothering to correct:

Norwegian hat - in progress