Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year, New Blog!

On thing I love about the New Year is seeing everyone post a wrap up of everything they've done over the last year. The last week, my google reader page has been full of once-neglected blogs showing off their accomplishments for the year.

Well, I have my wrap up all posted....at my new blog! I felt a need for a fresh start - I hope you'll join me! I've been looking for a blogging platform with a few more options, so I'm moving to WordPress. I intend to post a more regularly there, but it won't be exclusively about knitting.

So, if anyone's still checking this old thing, you can see my 2009 wrap up at the new blog. Click the picture below and I'll see you there! (Don't forget to update your links and feed readers, if you're sticking around.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Two Pink Sweaters

Girl Friday is quickly working her way up the list of favorite knits. As noted before, I had her finished in time to wear to SAFF, and I wore her to work last week. We've been having an unseasonably warm fall, but I'm sure I will be pulling her out over and over this winter.

The pattern - from the most recent Fall Knitty - is very well written. The directions were very clear and the lace pattern is charted. I was drawn mostly to the classic shape of the sweater, and can easily see myself making it again with a different lace pattern. The pattern is written to knit in pieces, then seam. I knit the body in pieces, but I did knit the sleeves in the round up to the sleeve cap. I like having the seamless sleeve, but next time I would go up a needle size for that. My in-the-round gauge is a little tighter than back and forth, and the sleeves are a tiny bit tighter than I'd like - but a good blocking helped, and they fit fine. I didn't really make many modifications other than in length - I am not very tall, and have a pretty short torso and arms, so I shortened the body by about an inch, and took about 2 inches off the sleeves: one inch from the ribbing, and one before starting the increases. They still come down just past the wrist, which is perfect for me.

I went to buy yarn the weekend after the pattern came out. I decided on Berroco Ultra Alpaca, which I've never used before. I love it - it was really nice to knit with and it blocked out really well. It's a 50/50 blend of wool and alpaca - the alpaca makes it so soft and warm, and the Peruvian wool keeps the alpaca in shape. I will certainly use this again. And of course - I love the color...no big surprise there! In my size, the pattern called for 6 balls of yarn - I ended up only using most of 5, so I have a whole hank of yarn left over. If I hadn't shortened it, I'd probably have needed to go into the 6th ball.

My creation

Kristen took all the photos when we came home from SAFF. The grounds around her new apartment make for great scenery - thanks Kristen! The color of the sweater is most accurate in the picture highlighting the button.

I knit the back and fronts very quickly, but when I needed a break from the sleeves I took a few evenings to knit up a little pink baby sweater. One of my best friends is a new mom to the cutest baby girl I have ever seen, and when I saw a sample of this tiny sweater at Knit Picky, I knew I needed to knit one. The pattern is the Yoked Cardigan from Knitbot, and I used a new yarn called Spud and Chloe Sweater in the popsicle colorway. I knit the newborn (0-6 month) size on size 8 needles and used just one ball of yarn. My button bands didn't seem to be quite long enough, so I added a crocheted edging to even it up and add a little flair. Betsey was sweet enough to send me some modeled photos - Emmi is right about 8 weeks here, so it looks like there is plenty of room to grow! You can see a few more pictures on her blog and if you look at these more recent photos, you can see a picture of Emmi on a little baby blanket I crocheted years ago, when her mom and I were still roommates!

Emmi's sweater

Monday, October 26, 2009

SAFF!

Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the cooler weather, the changing leaves, wearing cozy sweaters and socks, and I love Halloween. Another of my favorite things is heading to Asheville for SAFF.

Kristen, Cynthia and I got up early on Saturday for the drive up. We were expecting a cold, rainy day, but except for a brief downpour around Hickory, it was a beautiful day! (In fact, all of us sweater-wearing knitters probably wouldn't have minded a little bit cooler weather!)

We had lots of fun browsing through tons of vendors and hanging out with knitting friends - and petting some sheep! I bought lots of sock yarn (no surprise there!) and a very cool yarn bowl from the Knit Witch. I looked at her bowls at Stitches South earlier this year, and knew I wanted to pick one up. I love the colors, and it will be put to good use! There isn't much better than some beautiful pottery full of yummy alpaca (from Delly's Delights).

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I did finish my Girl Friday (knitty) sweater in time for SAFF - I sewed on the buttons the day before we left. And while we were there, we ran into the designer of the sweater who was there as a vendor for her hand-dyed yarns Kitchen Sink Dyeworks. Mercedes is super sweet and took a picture with me, and I couldn't resist getting some of her sock yarn.

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So there's a sneak peek of my Girl Friday - look for a post with details and pictures later this week! I also snatched up some Bugga from Sanguine Gryphon, as well as some Handmaiden Casbah and some Harry Potter inspired yarn from Shelby B.

We ended our day back at Kristen's, winding yarn and eating homemade goats-milk peanut butter fudge we got from Heatherlane Farms - delicious!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I'm Back!

It's true - I am the worst blogger ever. And I don't even really have an excuse! Somehow the rest of you keep blogging even though you're finishing PhD's, or moving far away, or having babies. I have no such excuse, other than sheer laziness. You know how you put things off, over and over, and then it gets so late, you just never do it....yeah. That's me.

Also - I'm pretty sure the summer just disappeared. I realized today at work that I was writing October on my files, but it feels like I should still be writing May. This year is flying by.

So - what have I been up to?

I took a one stroke painting class with a friend from work.....it was fun, but I don't think it will replace knitting.

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I went to the beach! I haven't had a real vacation in a few years - it was really nice to get away. I spent a week at Holden Beach with my best friend from high school. There was some knitting, and lots of good reading.

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I have been knitting like crazy. The big project for this weekend is finishing up Girl Friday. I started it a few days after the Fall Knitty came out, and am hoping to have it done and ready to wear for SAFF!

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More blogging coming coming soon.....for real this time!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Lace

I know I recently posted about my current blanket obsession....well, in total honesty, I wrote that post about a month ago, and then let it sit until a gentle nudge from Betsey reminded me of my neglected blog.

While I'm still enjoying my blankets, I've recently been drawn more to some lacy knits... maybe the glimpes of spring we've had? I knit this Seascape Stole over the holiday season, and I love it! The pattern calls for Kidsilk haze, but I was looking for something a bit more substantial, so this is knit out of my much loved Silky Wool. I love the pattern, the yarn, the color = it's a winner! The larger gauge gave a little wider stole, which I wanted, and I did 5 repeats (rather than 6) of the main chart. I think it ended up being almost 24 x 75ish inches. I didn't take a pre-blocking measurement. I've already worn it several times.

Seascape Stole

Last week I cast on for the Diamond Fantasy Shawl with the Seasilk I bought at SAFF 2007. I got the pattern in my Think Pink Holiday Swap package in December and decided it was time to cast on. This shawl starts at the bottom point and goes up, which is a new construction for me, but I really like it so far. The yarn is amazing to work with - but very slippery. I'm using lifelines for the first time - if you drop a stitch, it will just slither right down, making it very unplesant to pick up. This shawl comes with instructions for a small (6 or 7 repeats) and large size(10) - I should have enough yarn for 8 or 9 repeats, I think. I've gotten a little further along since I took this photo.

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I generally don't like to have more than one peice of lace on the needles, but I think I'll be breaking that rule shortly. I just got my Spring IK in the mail last week, and I immediately picked up this yarn for the Float Stole - I'm not sure I can wait to make it! I've been squishing this MamaE laceweight at KnitPicky for a few week and was glad to have an excuse to buy it....And hey - the gray will be a nice change to the red lace streak I've had going!

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Hemlock Ring

I don't know if it's the cold weather or what, but lately all I want to do is knit blankets. There's something about curling up on the couch with a warm blanket that sounds so appealing right now.
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I finished this Hemlock Ring blanket in early December, but didn't block it until early January. I had hoped to get it washed and blocked by Christmas, but it was not to be. The week I finished it I was dogsitting for a family that has a giant carpeted basement/playroom - I had hoped to be able to block it there, but I didn't think it would be dry before it was time for me to head back to my own home. My apartment has hardwood floors - which I love, but does make it more difficult to block large items, since it's not really feasible for me to block on my bed.
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For Christmas, two of my siblings went in and bought me some interlocking foam mats to use as a blocking board. So, after I finally cleared my lving room floor of the fabric from last weekend I put down the mats and pulled out the pins. I had to go buy more T-pins, and as it was, I ended pinning out every other "ruffle" on the edge. Another bonus to using these mats is the foam doesn't absorb water like carpet or towels, so the blanket dried much more quickly.
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I'm really pleased with how it turned out! I wish I had made it a tiny big bigger, as I have a ton of yarn left, and it seemed awfully small right off the needles. (My Dad stopped by a few weeks ago and noticed the foam mats out and asked what I was going to do with them, again? I pulled out the wrinkly, crumpled mass of knitting and he was a little skeptical of the magical powers of blocking...I'll have to send him the pictures!) After a wash in the tub with Soak and being pinned out, it grew quite a bit. I took it off the blocking board on Saturday annd I love it! It's a great size for keeping my legs warm on the couch and it goes great in my living room.
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Specs:
Pattern: Hemlock Ring (doily pattern rewritten for blanket by Jared Flood)
Yarn: Cascade Eco+, 1.75 skeins (purchased 2 years ago at a Fall Sale at KnitPicky, originally intended for Starsky. I like this better!)
Needles: Size 10 1/2 Knitpicks Options - started with Magic Loop on 32 inch, and used both 40 and 60 in cables
Time: 40 days
Mods: none, really! Went through the extended chart on the Rainey Sisters blog - 3 extra repeats from the original doily pattern

So, next up in the urge to make sure my home is never without enough blankets? This cabled blanket from the Bernat website. Melinda's mom made one for her, and as soon as I saw it I knew I had to have one!
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I also have picked up the Great American Aran Afghan book, and would like to make that...as a long-term project. Probably not for a while. I'm also dying to make the Liberty Blanket from the latest Mason-Dixon book, though I'll change the color scheme.

Now, I'm off to curl up under my new blanket with a cup of cocoa and a good book.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Recycling Fabrics

A few weeks ago, I bought a papasan chair I found listed on Craigslist. I've been wanting one for a while, but brand new ones are pretty pricey - this one was about half the price of one at World Market, plus it came with a matching ottoman! It's in pretty good shape, and comfy - but sort of ugly....so I thought I'd make a slip cover. I spent a little time looking at discount stores for cheap flat sheets or thin quilted cotton blankets but couldn't find quite was I was looking for. So I went hunting for something to repurpose at home.

A few months back, I got a new duvet cover for my bed. I have this great fluffy comforter, but I was bored with it and wanted a little more color but didn't want to spen much money. My company has something we call the e-bulletin board, which is basically an internal Craigslist. It's pretty cool - I've been able to sell some books, dvds and my old cross stitching materials. Someone had posted that they were selling a Pottery Barn duvet cover and shams that had been in their guest room for a few years, basically unused. So, I was able to get it super cheap, and I really liked it.....but not on my bed. The colors were a little too orangey for my room...but they would look great in my living room.

So on Sunday afternoon I moved all my furniture to one side and got out the scissors and the sewing machine. I used one the pillow shams to test out my idea and make a cover for the ottoman - thankfully it worked all right! Goodbye ugly map - hello paisley! See how much prettier that is?

before and after

Then I took the seam ripper to the duvet cover. A few minutes of that and I realized my sanity and eyesight would much appreciate just carefully cutting along the serged seams. I spread the top half of the duvet cover out on the floor, tossed the papasan cushion on top and cut around it. Then I took the circle and cut out 2 overlapping half circles to use for the back, making it like a pocketed pillow case. I'm pretty pleased with way it turned out - and it's really soft.

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Of course, this left me with the need for something else to go on my bed. Some time ago I bought some fabric with the intention of making a quilt...but has really just been sitting in the fabric basket. I didn't really have the energy to do any quilting. I laid the back of my old duvet cover on the floor, took some measurements, and started cutting. I wish I had taken pictures in progress - it was fun! I had several fat quarters and other short yardage fabrics. I cut then all 18 inches wide, and of varying heights, pretty much at random.

Then I just laid them out on top of the duvet piece, rearranging until all the strips were relatively the same height, and sewed 'em up! I was able to keep the old duvet buttons on the back side, so all I had to do was add a strip with buttonholes to the top. I am really happy with how it turned out. I forgot to get a picture before I put on the bed, but this one shows it ok.

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My sister came over today and saw it, then immediately demanded one of her own. We made a quick trip to Joann's and she bought supplies, but there are no promises for a completed blanket until her birthday....in November.