Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Hello, my name is Jennifer. I have a problem....

I can't stop buying Socks That Rock. I just can't. I understand that the newest shipment from the Sock Club just went out. I get that. But here's what I did.

You remember my out-of-control acquisition at the end of last year? Yeah, then last month I did this:

I needed more. I really did. And they had these beautfiul new semi-solids.

From left to right are Lover's Leap, Stormy Weather, Rose Quartz and Obsidian. I thought the two darker colors would be good for Himself.

So, then I joined the sock club. Two weeks ago I was waiting in breathless anticipation. Cause you know, I don't have enough sock yarn.... right. And also, I saw BMFA's spring colors spread in the new IK.

For the record, about three months ago I emailed them asking for a pink and chocolate browns colrway. Kaci replied: "Thinking...." and nothing more. Then the srping colorways came out and what do I see?

Little Bunny Foo Foo. I had to have it.

And while I'm browsing, I come across the Blue Moonstone and a couple of patterns that look beautiful, Meandering & Titania's Revenge. Must. Own.

Yeah, it's already shipped. Along with my Club stuff. I have a problem.

Oh, and I'm still working on the second Chocolate Cake Sock (I had to frog and restart the cuff, I did 1x1 on the 2nd sock and 2x2 on the first, duh). But the first one is finished and fit LIKE A FRICKIN' GLOVE!!! Yeah BABEEEEE!!!! I'll get you some pics just as soon as I finish the second sock.

Oh yeah, and I'm working on these. Not so sure I love them: BMFA STR in Mediumweight Thistle, acquired at Stitches Midwest last August. They're a lot Greener/ Purple in real life. The camera just wasn't cooperating.

Finally, GROUP is moving! We're still meeting tonight from 6:30 to 8:00 ish, but now we're meeting at the new Starbuck's just a little west of the Borders. It's at Lake and 94 on the Northwest corner. Hope to see you there!

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Are you sitting down? You'd better....

I wouldn't want you to fall over from the shock.

I'm working on "The Other Mitten". Let's just let that sink in for a minute shall we? Yeah, now it's coming back, isn't it..... That mitten. Remember this?

I guess 2007 is the year for Finished Objects. I'm still working on husband's Chocolate Cake Socks and I wanted to work on something that wasn't so small it made my hands cramp.... so what did I decide to do?

I figured I'd wrestle an octopus just for grins. No, really. These mittens are worked in Fair Isle on 5 DPNs size US-2. Fair Isle is fiddly and to be frank, (Alyssa cover your eyes) I hate DPNs.

I'm sorry to all those folks who love them. I know there'll be gnashing of teeth and such, but I'm an Addi Turbo girl myself. If I can't work what ever it is on two circulars, I'm miserable. That, and I'm so used to working on two circs that are connected that when I get to the end of the row, I just keep letting go of the needle and dropping the damn thing on the floor! (which my cats love and think is the "Best-Game-Ever", BTW)

So, I worked all the increases for the tip of the mitten on those blasted DPNs and then I switched to Circulars as fast as my little fingers would carry me. Interestingly, while I still struggle with the best way to hold the yarn in my left hand, the pattern is going a LOT faster than I thought it would. I got an extra inch finished last night while Hubby watched another something about WWII on the Hitler History Channel. Maybe someday I'll even graduate to the Lion Scarf that I ordered from Herself lo, these many months ago.

I've even been thinking about using the finishing techniques I learned from Catherine Lowe last year. It's funny how finishing knits makes you think on what you've learned. Now if I could just figure out how to Start a project with sufficient lead time to Finish it the way I want to, well then, life would be just Ducky now, wouldn't it?!

Touched by Royalty!
For those of you who haven't already heard, The Harlot is coming to Chicago-land!! She's coming on April 3rd to Oak Brook, IL. at Borders. 1500 16th Street at 7:30 p.m. And here's the cool thing. Are you ready??

I work almost across the street from where she'll be making her appearance!!! I'm so excited I'm wiggling again!! Here's a map, just for proof.

If you read her blog you'll know that she's been talking about "Representin'" in New York and how her Wonder Publicist has booked a hall that holds 750 people where she will speak and show the sock and take pics and such.

Thinking about Representin', I left a comment yesterday on her blog mentioning how close I work to the venue and offering (half in jest) to go over and let them know just how many people they might want to expect. I was planning on doing it anyway when I checked my email this morning and what did I see?

A reply. I got a reply from the Yarn Harlot h-e-r-s-e-l-f!!! She said she thought it would be a good idea and would I please do so? Holy Canoli, Batman!! I've been touched by Knitting Royalty (even thought Stephanie herself would probably choke at being called "Royalty")!! So, I figure I'll print out some of her attendance pics from past events and write a short but professional note for the store manager explaining what to expect.

Thanks Miz Stephanie! I hope lots of people call Borders and tell them to expect a whole load of people. Maybe then they'll get the message not to underestimate the amazing power of knitters!

Tonight is GROUP night at the Borders at Lake and Skokie Blvd. from 6:30 until Whenever! I hope you can join us!

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Mom Socks

This pattern was so fun and easy (with the exception of the "Afterthought" heel) that I finished the first sock for my Mom's size 11 feet in 3 days including learning a new technique! (In case you're unfamiliar with the speed of my knitting, that is amazing; it's like Flying the Concord from here to Europe on my needles).

Pattern: Chevron pattern from Sensational Knitted Socks (as usual).
Yarn: STR Chanticleer Mediumweight
Needles: Two Addi-Turbo circs US size 1
Start to finish: Two weeks (I was dreading that second heel so I put them down for a week when I got to the point where I had to add it.)

Thoughts on these socks: Next time I'm going to try Alyssa's suggestion and try a Peasant Heel, cause I got to the heel part and, while it was an interesting experience, the whole thing was too fiddly. The heel is constructed using a provisional cast on worked and then divided in half on two needles (just like for a top down sock cuff). From there, you decrease to the heel "point" and kitchener both around the heel and across the heel point. At one point, I had 4 circulars hanging from my work and then had to Kitchener the heel to the on hold stitches or some such business. What a pain. Not doing that again. Realistically, it was only about an hour of focused attention, but still

Regardless, the rest of the sock was SO FAST that I made them a little too long! BTW, STR medium weight can easliy cover a pair of large feet. I tried the socks on my husband as a sample to make sure that they would fit my mom (is that wrong?) I guess that's why they were a little long, but then, if you look at the pics, they're not terribly long, just a little loose in the toes (unless Mumsie was being nice and did some magic pinning on the heels like they do with jackets on mannequins....

Now if I could just finish a sweater that fit for me..... (more on that later)

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Chocolate Cake Socks

I'm knitting a new pair of socks for hubbo. You see the last pair (a.k.a. the first pair) of socks I knit for him were too big by about a mile. Also, he's used to Costco cotton socks that squeeze the life out of your toes there's so much elastic in them.

So, shortly after the new year, in a fit of UFO work, I added a significant amount of elastic to the cuffs. They stayed up while we were out to dinner with some friends, but when he put them on the next day, they promptl slumped around his ankles.

Now, while I tried to explain to him the physics of handmade socks and how they don't stay up forever, they stretch while you wear them, they're bigger cause they're made specifically for his feet and what have you, the subtleties were lost on Darling Hub.

So, I'm knitting him a new pair of socks that will F.I.T.. They will fit because
1.) I'm a little more experienced
2.) I don't have to hide them from him while I finish the toes because they're not a X-mas present
3.) I can regularly take his foot hostage while he watches TV and slide the in-progress sock over his big gunboats just to check my progress. (BTW, why doesn't anyone in my family have small feet?)

I call them the Chocolate Cake Socks because the color of the Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock I'm using looks just like perfect chocolate cake. You know how the little bubbles in the crumb are sometimes light and sometimes dark, but always look yummy.... yeah, that's it. Actually, the little wound balls look like little chocolate cupcakes to me but you're just going to have to take my word on that one...

I'm using the Cable with Seed Stitch from Sensational Knitted Socks, of course. I let hubby pick from the patterns and choose the yarn color. He calls this red, but we know it's really brown.

Finally, while I was taking a few shots in the brief afternoon light, the sock had a near brush with death... do you SEE the talons on that beast? They're like the claws of a Velociraptor!! I had to swoop in and save the sock from certain death!

OK, yeah, Mr. Whiskers needs his claws trimmed.

Doesn't it look like chocolate cake????

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Christmas Hat in Lorna's of my Own Design

OK, I know I mentioned this before Christmas and I wanted to get you all some pics.

The pattern is one of my own design with heavy credit to Grumperina's Odessa pattern (though I've never read it) and EZ's Knitting Workshop book. I only had one ball of Lorna's Laces Bulky (clearly my new favorite yarn) less one 6"x6" swatch.
The best part about Lorna's is that it becomes super soft once you wash it. Oh yeah, and that whole superwash thing is to die for. What I like about this hat is how the swirls come together and merge into one swirl as the top decreases. Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Bulky 1 hank in colorway Vera

Needles: Addi Turbo Size 5 in 16"

Time to complete: 1 afternoon to design and 2 hours to knit. (I had to rip and restart a couple of times.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Just call me the Queen of Finished Objects

My Lovely Cousin Michelle had a baby last month. I believe it was on January 8th. His name is Cole Lawrence (short for Nicholas).

I knew she was having a boy a long time ago, but in the interest of finishing already started objects, I didn't begin this little treasure until after the Little Treasure was born.

That being said, here it is.

V-Neck Cardigan with Contrasting Ribs

Pattern: Debbie Bliss Baby Knits for Beginners (the patterns are cute, quick and written for beginners but with a little knitting knowledge, you can see where changes should be made)

Yarn: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran (it's wash and dry-able)
Needles: Addi Turbos US size 4 & 5

Alterations: This pattern calls for Cotton Glace' which I had no intention of using. Accordingly, it also calls for a smaller gauge. So, I swatched, washed, measured gauge and made a baby sweater that's too big for the little guy right now, but will probably fit him all the way through next winter.

Comments: this is a super fast knit, even for me, what with my finishing problems and all. It only took 12 days cast-on to buttons. Only thing is, you can see on the left side collar decreases that the stitches are a little weird. The pattern says K2tog TBL, which makes for a wonky laying stitch (as you can see in the bottom two decreas rows on the left hand side). So on the third row, I subbed a ssk and it lays much flatter. I still don't like how the left and right fronts don't match, but I'm guesssing the non-knitting-sleep-deprived-parents won't notice the little things that bug me.
To attach the buttons, I used the same yarn as for the body of the sweater and I had to do some fancy knitting around the YO button holes to snug them up a little, but overall, I'm pleased with the way this came out.

Of course, it's my Uncle's 70th birthday this weekend in Kansas City and while I won't be able to atend, all the cousins will be there so it's not like I'm sending this just to show off or anything.... it's all about baby congratulations. Really. ;)

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Finished Pics of Brother's Urban Aran

Well, it's finally finished and gifted. Brother Bear loves it! In our opinion it could stand to be about an inch longer in the torso, but he's also very pleased with the longer length of the sleeves.

Here are some exemplary photos.

One of them is a little blurry, sorry for that, but I'm hoping you can see the fit and detail well enough.

Thank you Mr. BrooklynTweed!

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

SO PROUD I'm wiggling

Finished! Finished!! FINISHED!!!

I finished the Urban Aran with changes inspired by Brooklyn Tweed. I can't remember his given name right now so let's just say a huge thanks to Mr. BT for taking a ho-hum pattern and making it spectacular! Thank you!

So here's the saga.

Step 1: See Mr. BT's post last summer when you first find his blog. Recognize immediately that Mr. BT and your Brother Bear have exactly-the-same-hands and torso shape (weird in and of itself, if I do say so). Then, due to the striking resemblance, realize that you are looking at the first sweater you will knit for your brother. Search for months for the pattern and finally find it on ebay in late September.

Step2: Email your Brother a boat load of links with pics n stuff asking if he'd be interested in you knitting a sweater for him and if so, how does this one look? Brother acknowledges that yes, he'd like a sweater from you and that even more yes, the Urban Aran is just his style. What with the double zipper and all...

Step 3: Send Brother a load more links with pictures of yarn. Asking questions like does he like Heathered, Hand-dyed, nubbly, smooth, solids... what? Brother gives you some ideas and you set up a date for him to come over and touch yarn and hang out for measurements with a few of his favorite sweaters.

Step 4: Order a bunch of single balls from Webs in different colors of Jo Sharp Silk Road Aran Tweed. Then order two hanks of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport in Charcoal, thinking that if he doesn't like the color, you can always make hubbo a pair of socks with it. Angelika is an angel, and Webs was awesome as they took back the Jo Sharp singles that were untouched for a full refund (not credit, which is what I expected, a refund).

Step 5: Have Brother over and take all kinds of measurements following Eunny's tutorial on where and what to measure (Sorry, I can't find the exact tutorial right now). Try not to laugh like two-year-olds or make embarrassing jokes when measuring your Brother's hips and butt. (Brother was extremely patient with my first-timer-ness in measuring btw.) Then, show brother al the differnt kinds of yarn he has to choose from and be very glad you showed him when he picks a color you would not have picked for him, but it's your personal favorite anyway.

Step 6: Swatch. Swatch bigger, then swatch again and do a load of crazy calculations to figure out how much yarn you'll need since your gauge is bigger than the pattern gauge. Add on two extra hanks just to be safe. Email Angelika ('cause he picked the Charcoal) and ask for 17 hanks of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Bulky in Charcoal. Spend a lot of money.

Step 7: Knit, knit and then knit some more. Curse at Pattons for using the stupid ass backwards-e cast on. Pray that you'll finish by Christmas. (You started in Early November for heaven's sake!)

Step 8: Cry, gnash your teeth and tear at your hair on Dec. 23rd when you've finished the body but you haven't even started the sleeves. Throw a pillow at your husband when he laughingly says, "I can't believe you thought you'd get that done by Christmas."

Step 9: Acknowledge defeat. Seam up the shoulders. Knit the collar. Pin the sides together with coilless pins and pack it all in a big box on Christmas eve. Give to your brother on Christmas morning in all it's hanging-ends glory. Worry for the next two months cause he looked silent and kind of confused when he tried it on.

Step 10: Knit those-damn-sleeves. (Knit a pair of socks cause you can't stand looking at black yarn anymore) Knit-those-damn-sleeves some more.

Step 11: Wait for a sunny weekend. Seam up the sleeves and the sides, weave in all those freaking ends. Dig up any and all resources for sewing in a zipper. Decide on Nancie Wiseman's Knitter's Book of Finishing Techniques. Wait for another sunny weekend. Baste the two fronts together. Wait for a third sunny weekend. Sew in the zipper. (Did I mention that this was done by hand? Thank goodness for Audio Books)

Step 12: BE FINISHED!!!

Step 13: Sing, dance, act like a fool, run around the house, (try it on even though you know it won't fit you properly, the sleeves are about 8 inches too long and the body covers your bumps in a most unflattering way) take 1,000 pictures. Run around with it some more, show your husband (who is appropriately appreciative of your efforts, by the way). Pet it, call your brother and leave him a voice mail telling him that it's finished except that maybe you were so excited that you sounded like a scratched 33 being played at 45 rpm.... hope he understands what you just said. Hang up. Reluctantly put the sweater back in it's bag and in the closet waiting for brother's arrival and the Urban Aran's final unveiling.

Here's the cool thing. Last weekend Brother came over when I had finished seaming the sweater and basted the two fronts together. I wanted to wait to show him until it was all finished. But I couldn't stand it. I explained that all that's left is the zipper and it's sewn shut right now but did he want to try it on?? And oh, yeah he can try it on, but I can't look while he does it cause I'm so terrified that it won't fit.

Brother pulled it on and it fit perfectly!! Wooo Hooo! He was awed with it and kept petting it. Now that it's got the zipper in it, it's just that much cooler! Yeah, I'm so excited I'm wiggling. :)

Here are the insides for those of you who would like to see them.

So here are the construction details:
Pattern: Paton's Urban Aran from the Street Smart booklet.
Yarn: 15 Hanks of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Bulky in Charcoal
Needles: US 3 for the collar, US 4 for the edges, US 5 for the body and sleeves.
Start Date: 1st Week of November 2006.
Finish Date: Feb. 2, 1007
Total time to complete: 3 months. (I only knit in the evenning after work).

p.s. I promise to make the sweater pics clickable this afternoon while I'm sitting in my never ending meeting....

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