Sunday, February 26, 2006

So the new knitting video came yesterday. Like a kid with a new toy, I immediately took the wrapper off and popped it in the DVD player. I watched the first few chapters while swatching the Magic Stripes yarn that also came in the package. I had no intentions of using the Magic Stripes for these socks, but it was so cute I had to at least TRY it. You can all relate, right? After watching up through how to do the heel flap, I stopped the video and got to work trying the technique. I'm using 24" size US 3 needles. One is a Susan Bates Silvalume and the other is a Boye interchangeable. It's great having two different color needles because it makes it so easy to tell which needle to use. The joins on the Boye are too bulky, though, and I'm having to work to get the stitches back up on the needle. They've worked fine for the other projects I've tried, but just not with the smaller tips. I ordered an Inox which hopefully will arrive quickly.

I'm using the kool-aid dyed KnitPicks yarn and am loving it! There's a nice gentle sheen to this yarn. It's soft with zero scratchiness. I'm concerned for how the heel is going to wear, though, being 100% wool and all. May try to find some of the wooly-nylon that's been talked about on the Socknitter's group to reinforce the heel. Didn't the colors turn out nice? I love the soft, muted colors. Not bad for my first try.


Finally, here's a picture of the Cottage Creations Tunic. Still not much to show. The Continental knitting is going quite well and it is way faster than English. Instead of getting 1-2 rows done a night, I'm usually able to get at least 3-4 in. I still have miles of knitting to go. But the yarn is really nice and it's great practice for learning Continental.

Two questions I received: First, the link for the baby sweater. Oops, I did mean to post that with the pictures and completely forgot. You can find the pattern here. And the info on the Opal yarn. It's Opal 6ply (6-fach since the label is in German!). The color is #1253. I purchased it from Shelmac/Fun Knits on eBay.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

THE socks

Oh how I love Opal. Check out these lovelies...


As you can see, they are fraternal twins. I know some people are quite fussed to make sure their self striping socks match exactly. I'm not one of them. I love the quirky, close but not quite look.







I wanted to wear them to work yesterday, but I had washed them before wearing and they didn't get dry overnight. They were, however, dry by evening so I wore them when we went out shopping. They are wonderfully warm and soft. I will definitely be getting more of this yarn!


See? Even my tattoo is happy with the socks!
(Mom will be so embarrassed I posted this picture!)





This is the Knit Picks Dye Your Own that I kool-aid dyed last weekend. The mottled color is gorgeous. I'm hoping the socks on circular needles video gets here today so I can see how it looks knitted up.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Going Continental

I’ve been knitting a little over two years now. I knit English, meaning I carry the yarn in my right hand and “throw” the yarn around the needle. It’s somewhat slow, but as I’ve said before, speed isn’t the big issue for me. I enjoy the process of knitting and if a project takes weeks to complete, so be it. However, the list of projects I want to do is growing rapidly. Currently, I’ve got the Port Orford sweater sitting at the bottom of my bag, haven’t touched it in weeks; I’ve got The Shawl, it too hasn’t been touched in ages; I’m in the home stretch on the 2nd Opal sock and am alternating knitting on that and knitting on the CC tunic. In the wings I’ve got Eris still waiting for me to make a yarn decision; I found a really cute cardi pattern on Lion Brand and actually have STASH yarn that will work (score!); I have several other patterns who’s names I can’t even remember that were purchased in the last few months, all calling “Knit me”. If I ever hope to knit all the things I want before they are dreadfully out of style, I have got to start knitting faster. Thus, I’ve decided to try (again) to switch to knitting Continental. In Continental knitting, one holds the yarn in their left hand and just uses the tip of the right needle to scoop the stitch. Most people find it much faster than English since you eliminate the whole drop the needle, wrap the stitch, pick up the needle sequence. You just scoop, scoop, scoop along. I’ve tried it before, but found I had problems keeping my tension even. I’m such a tight knitter, the looser tension I get in Continental just seems foreign to me (although this looser tension would probably help me get gauge without having to drop 2-3 needles sizes all the time!) And I am COMPLETELY hopeless purling Continental. However, since the CC tunic is knit in the round, and has miles of stockinette stitch (in the round that means NO PURLS!) I thought it would be a very good practice piece for learning Continental. So far, so good. I’ve done about 5-6 rounds Continental with no discernable change of gauge (this was a big concern since I’ve already knit 5 inches or so English). I’m getting the hang of it and definitely finding it much faster going. I tried Continental briefly on the Opal sock, but it was no good for me on dpns. I couldn’t get my first stitches tight enough to avoid ladders. I’m hoping, by the end of CC, to be pretty proficient in BOTH methods. Once I get the hang of knitting Continental, maybe purling will come easier. Will keep you posted on my progress.

I finally remembered to by some drink mix to dye the “Dye-your-own” yarn I got from Knit Picks awhile back. I would have liked blue, but couldn’t find any. In the end, I chose generic grape. I soaked the yarn in cool water with a cup of white vinegar for about half an hour. Then I dissolved two packs of drink mix in some water. I put the yarn, fresh water to cover, the “dye” and another splash of vinegar in a pot and slowly brought the heat up to just under a boil. Then I took it off the heat, covered the pot and let it sit for about half an hour until all the color was absorbed. I drained the water then let the yarn cool completely before rinsing it in cool water (I was very cautious to avoid felting.) Then I hung the skein over a hanger and let it air dry. The color turned out great, a pale lavender. I only stirred the pot once or twice, just kind of poked the yarn down into the water, so the yarn has a nice mottled look to it. Next time, I will use more drink mix. I found instructions (after I went to the store) that said use a pack of drink mix per 1 ounce of yarn to get a good saturated color. I had just over 3 ounces of yarn. Still, I’m quite happy with how it turned out. I will try to get pics up this week if I can get the camera to cooperate.

Over the weekend I ordered this knitting video to learn to knit socks on two circular needles. Now that I’ve found sock yarn that I actually enjoy knitting with, I’m all for learning new techniques. It’s on sale at here and here if you are interested. I also ordered some Lion Brand Magic Stripes in Lumberjack. It’s described as sport weight, so it shouldn’t be too fine. Meanwhile, I’m trying to find plain, solid fingering yarn to double strand with the sock yarns I bought last fall so I can get them knitted up. Knit Picks Palette has lots of good choices so I should be able to find matches there.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

FO's

I'm now back in the busy season at work, and not much else is going on. Work, eat, knit, sleep. Repeat.

We had our first snow storm of the year last night. Although I'm not a big fan of snow, this one was kind of nice because we didn't have to be anywhere today. It's sure nice to look at if you don't have to go out in it! No pictures, though. My camera is giving me fits already! The rechargable batteries only take 4-5 pictures before needing to be recharged. That's can't be right, I'm sure. And there's a short in the a/c adaptor. Hope to find better power options in the next week or so.

Meanwhile, I did manage to get a few pictures of some finished objects.
As predicted, I finished my first Opal sock during the Super Bowl. It's so pretty and fits very well. I've got the second one cast on, but spent most of my time working on the baby cardi.


Which I'm happy to say, is now finished. Cute, no?

The cotton yarn is soft and feels like it should be warm enough for a spring sweater.
Here's a close up of the cute little buttons mom picked out.

Hopefully someone at the Library sale will like it enough to bid on it.

I'm glad I'm not under any knitting deadlines again. It's nice to just pick anything up and knit without thinking I should be working on something else that HAS to be finished. I feel somewhat of a slacker though for not joining the Knitting Olympics. I do believe every other knit-blogger is participating. It's the main topic on just about every knit related mailing list, podcast, website I visit. Not being much of an athlete myself, I never really followed the Olympics much. When I was a kid and in gymnastics, I would sometimes watch the summer games, but rarely the winter games. If it weren't for Stephanie, I probably wouldn't have even KNOWN the Olympics were on! However, to all the knitting Olympians out there, best of luck on your projects. Wishing gold medals to all.

New podcasts I've just discovered: About Time with Whit Larson and Pointy Sticks with Christine. You go girls. Keep up the good work.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Another year older

Yeah, it was my birthday this week. Work, errands and other commitments kept me from being able to spend it in my rocker knitting, like I wanted to, but it was a nice day all the same. Birthdays are very low-key events around here. Chuck made dinner AND cleaned up so I didn't have to cook on my birthday. He also let me pick out my own presents, which is a fun gift in and of itself since I LOVE shopping. I ordered a swank new pillow and found another James Bond DVD on eBay. With any luck they'll arrive early this week.

Here's what I've been up to this week.
The baby cardi is coming along quite nicely. I made my goal of finishing the right side and the left is going quickly. If I commit some time to it, I should have it finished in a week or two. Plenty of time for the auction.





Unfortunately for the cardi, the Opal sock has been too great a temptation to resist.
I'm only a few rows from starting the toe. Toes always go fast and then it's a finished sock! I must show some restraint and finish the cardi before casting on the second sock. I've also knit some on the CC Tunic, but it still doesn't look like much so no pictures. I'm still contemplating yarn choices for Eris. I'm leaning towards red for the color. Apart from that, no decisions have been made.





In Harry Potter news, I just saw over on Mugglenet that Amazon is taking pre-orders for the Goblet of Fire DVD. Production of Order of the Phoenix is starting too. I've started listening to the audiobook of Half Blood Prince. I LOVED this book and have been wanting to reread it. But with all this knitting sitting around, it's just a little easier to let someone else read it too me to keep my hands and eyes free. I have all the HP audiobooks, some read by Jim Dale and some of the British versions read by Stephen Fry. Love listening to both of them.

On the soap front, my first batches are drying and aging on a shelf in my basement. The shapes are not very even (I've ordered a good mold which should solve this problem on future batches). The smell is heavenly. I decided to live on the edge and try using some of the thin slivers that had been shaved off the ends of the blocks. The soap slivers lathered well but didn't leave as much of a scent on my hands as I would like. Need to research this some more. My favorite soaps are from Primal Elements. They are gorgeous and leave your hands smelling great. That level of scent is what I'm striving for. But I want to make sure I do it safely. Thankfully, the resources on soapmaking are nearly endless on the Internet. Just a matter of finding time to read it all!