Saturday, January 23, 2010

Portable Projects

These beauties are a traditional Latvian pattern written out by Lizbeth Upitis. Known as "Graph 53" they are knit on fingering weight yarn on very, very, tiny needles. I'm planning on doing them in a cream with a soft purpley-pink color called "lantana."

I'm very happy to say that I've made a lot of progress on my Vine Yoke Cardigan and have managed to finish the right front and am ready to move onto the sleeve. While I love making progress on it, the sweater is about to reach the cumbersome "I'm too big and unwieldy to get thrown in your bag" stage which means I can't take it with me and work on it on the T and during breaks at work or school. Now enter... The Portable Project (said with a lot of fanfare, maybe even a trumpet).
Continuing with the theme of "little yarn and smaller needles" these mittens are called Sundagsvotter by Strikkepanja. You can probably guess by the title that it was originally published in a language I do not speak, however there is an English translation which I'm hoping I'll be able to muddle through.

Those who know me are most likely familiar with my mitten obsession. For several years I could only knit hats, and my family soon said "enough hats!" luckily they do not yet feel this way about mittens. Mittens are just a great project, small, portable, relatively fast, but fun and intricate enough to keep you engaged. Plus they're a fantastic way to try out new techniques like colorwork, cables, or lace.
This is another great Elli Stubenrauch creation named "Squirrelly Swedish Mittens" for obvious reasons. I love Elli's whimsical patterns and this is a free one to boot! Oh and of course, tiny yarn and tiny needles for this pattern as well!

Given my propensity for mittens, and the fact that my family has not yet put a kibosh on receiving them, Christmas 2010 is the year of the mittens! I've already had a lot of fun picking out patterns for people and will have to start knitting early. For this last Christmas I started knitting in February and I still had one project that had to be finished after the holidays and my sister didn't get anything knit. That means her project will be first on my list (to be fair she has a November birthday and did get mittens for that occasion) to make up for last year.
This is just one of the many SpillyJane patterns I have decided my family has to have, these "Owlmittens" were too cute for me to pass up, and following the theme, they are also knit with tiny yarn on tiny needles.

So while my sweater is too unruly for travel, a series of mittens will be riding shotgun for my knitting pleasure. I can't tell which pattern is for whom but I'm pretty excited about what I picked. I think I'm also going to knit every mitten pattern Spilly Jane has every designed (not really but I do have at least three of her patterns selected for the great mitten marathon!)

Time to dash and take my knitting with me!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Neglected Project

So I just realized that there is one project I have not yet shared!! The Boyfriend Hat, otherwise known as the pattern "David's Hat" by Kenny Chua. I stealthily knit this for my fantastic boyfriend this summer, telling him that I was making it for my step-brother. This way I was able to brazenly knit it in front of him and have him try it on saying I wanted to see how it fit. Well due to all this stealth this lovely hat had not yet been featured and it is totally owed it's due!
This was a great easy knit! Very fast and satisfying but also with some fun features to make it more than your ordinary hat. This was made at the beginning of my colorwork phase so the simple chart was a fun challenge and not too overtaxing. I think the best part about this hat though is the hem. This was my first encounter with the rolled hem or lining that you can see. Essentially you knit the lining on one or two sizes smaller needles, then once it's as long as you'd like, you change to the color you will want for the outside of the hat and knit two rows, you then purl one row and this is the brim of the hat and "turns" it. Then changing up one needle size to the size you will use for the rest of the project you continue on your merry way. You can either knit an entire hat lining (following the sizing and decreases for the "outer" hat, you knit a very slightly smaller duplicate that is then flipped inside the hat and blocked into submission) or as this pattern calls for, knit the outer section until it is the same length as the lining, and then use a three needle bind off to join the two layers (as shown above). Once the layers are joined you continue the rest of the hat in normal fashion.
While this all might seem like a fussy added step I am now totally addicted to this technique on my hats for several reasons. First, this means that there are two layers of fuzzy goodness covering your ears and this is nothing to scoff at in frigid climes. Secondly, I think that this method for the brim looks much more polished than ribbing. Third (and probably last, don't worry), I like the added structure it gives the hat and find the lining more comfortable against my face than ribbing. So do as you like but if you choose this method for brims I think you'll like what you do!

Decision Made

I hope my mom can forgive me, because I'm casting on for the cardigan for me! I would like to say that the deciding factor was that Ysolda is donating the proceeds from her patterns to Haiti, or that this pattern is easier, but realistically it's just because I have no self control and I want this sweater! I've been reading all the comments from Ravelry and looking at all the project details and I have to admit I'm a little freaked out. It looks like a number of individuals have had issues with sizing. The body of the sweater is knit in garter stitch, and it's a stitch that tends to stretch with wear. Because of this many people have decided to knit the sweater with negative ease (the sweater is smaller than their actual measurements and will then be a snug fit).
Because of all the hulabaloo about sizing and horror stories about the ever growing cardigan I've been trying to decide what size to knit. There are a couple complicating factors, for one thing, I'm knitting with size 8 needles rather than the size 9 the pattern calls for. This will obviously make the sweater smaller, and the fabric denser and less likely to stretch. I also have a tendency to knit things too small, I'm not sure if it's that I'm a tight knitter or always underestimate measurements but my finished projects come out snug more often than saggy.

After a great deal of back and forth, knitting up swatches to measure my gauge, and even a sweater nightmare or two I've decided that I will knit the sweater in my actual size (not a size larger or a size smaller) but on the smaller needles and with the sturdy Louet Riverstone (it's a nice dense wool, not silky, so I don't think it should stretch too much) and hope that all the different factors balance out to a perfect fit.

I really want this sweater to be perfect so I did some practicing last night of the techniques I'm less familiar with. I have a phobia of button bands and tried Ysolda's buttonhole technique four times before I thought I could pull it off nicely on the actual sweater. Also tried the I-cord edging which gives the collar a really nice finished look. Still a little concerned about all the short rows for shaping and some of the other elements but my patience has run out and I'm going to dive in!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Upcoming Projects

I have finally finished my Christmas knitting (better late and hand knit than never right?) and am looking forward to a sabbatical from gift knitting. That being said, the image above is the Desert Counterpane Pullover by Pam Allen From Classic Elite Yarns Autumn book. While I may be taking a brief break from giveaway projects, the above pattern was requested by my mom and she purchased all the yarn. Since there's no deadline for it I figured I could enjoyably work on it without any of the stressors of a "gift project."
On a more selfish note, I've been coveting the lovely Vine Yoke Cardigan by Ysolda Teague from the Twist Collective, which by the way is my new favorite knitting site. While I know I will be making the pullover for my mom, the question is which will get cast on first? The pullover or the cardigan? I have the yarn for each (I have a huge stash of Riverstone Louet in the beautiful "French Blue" shade that I think would be fantastic), I have the patterns for each, and they both require size 9 needles.

While I don't know which sweater will win in the "Knit Me First" competition, I do know both should be an exciting and enjoyable knit. They both feature unique design elements/construction techniques. The pullover is actually cast on in the center of the sweater, then knit out into a large square panels with the yarn overs creating the diagonal "seams," the front and back panel are then joined together and then the rest of the sweater is knit. While the cardigan appears to be simple, it is actually knit from side to side rather than top-down or bottom-up. Both should prove to be exciting knits, if I'm ever able to end up selecting one to cast on that is!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Errant blogger

The Bird in Hand pattern by Kate Gilbert makes for a drop dead gorgeous mitten, if not the most satisfactory or fast knit. This one is done in Debbie Bliss Fez which is part camel and pure joy to knit!

I was going to call this post "catching up" but then I realized that my last post, that one way back in October, had that same title. I guess that means I'm a regular irregular when it comes to maintaining my knitting blog. Even if my blog has been neglected of late, my knitting has not been. I was a very busy Christmas knitter and have some projects to display.

I did an adapted Selbu Modern by Kate Gagnon Osborn. This was more of a beanie than a beret but was the most fantastic project to knit: fast, beautiful, and deceptively easy, plus it's a free pattern to boot! I forsee many more of these in my future!
Speaking of fantastic free patterns, this is my second Inga by Sheila Macdonald. The first was in snowy shades to match my monogrammed mittens, this one however is a neopolitan confection that looks just as sugary as it is snug and warm. Did I mention this pattern is fast, easy and FREE?!?
In addition to the Inga being a great project, it used up very little of the Rowan super wash wool I had so I decided matching herringbone mittens were in order. Now that I think about it this should be the posting of great free patterns since these beauties come gratis courtesy of Elliphantom's Elli Stubenrauch (she also has one of my favorite knitting blogs!)
Finally, this is one I'm very, very proud of. Designed and made by Moi this Argyle hat is achieved with fair isle knitting rather than intarsia and used only one skein of each color (it's fully lined with the blue shade you see here). I'm thinking of writing up the pattern for distribution, those interested say Aye!

I guess that pretty much covers my knitting conquests of late. I will try to be more faithful to this blog in the future, and as a testament to that I am deleting the my wordpress knitting blog which I was toying around with.