Friday, July 28, 2006


Continuing my adventures in Last Minute Knitted Gifts, here are the angora baby booties, as modeled by Albert Einstein. They're in the one-to-two hour gift section. In all honesty, it probably took me three hours, but that was because I was having some trouble with the construction at the cuff. She does give really detailed directions, but I was having brain farts. Now that I get it, I think I could probably do them in two.
I just barely made it through with one skein of Belangor angora that I picked up at Sheep's Clothing last weekend. It's 100% angora, which is ridiculously soft and fuzzy. We're talking kitten's tummy soft and fuzzy. (I guess technically bunny's tummy, as that's what it is, but I relate better to cats than rabbits.) The entire toe part of the bootie is double knitted, which is a fun technique. I'd started a scarf in double knitting before, but it really wasn't as well constructed. This went quickly, and was a great way to make a little pouch for the toes. You do a three needle bind off up the heel flap (another one of my new favorite techniques), then do some ribbing for the cuff. And there you have it, really cute little baby booties.
Paula, the owner of Sheep's Clothing, mentioned her concerns about babies and the angora hair. She thinks that they might suck on the booties and swallow some of the fuzzy angora hairs. She probably knows better than I do, having raised infinitely more children (I think two) than I have (zero). Einstein is being fairly well behaved about them, but then again he is a genius. These are probably going in my hope chest. (Don't mock the hope chest, some things are just too cute to give away.)
I tried to get Worfy to model the booties for me, but this was the best picture I got.
Pattern: Angora baby booties from Last Minute Knitted Gifts, in the collection
Yarn: Belangor angora, 100% angora, 1 skein (33yds) at $8.00
Needles: Size 5 dpn, in the collectionPrice: $8
Time: About three hours, a repeat performance may sneak in at two. Despite the speed, this is not a beginner pattern. Tricky techniques include double knitting, three needle bind off, knitting in the round, and reading really complicated directions.


The last couple of times I have been to Germany (okay, every time I've been to Germany), I've gone on a yarn-buying extravaganza. It's new, it's exciting, and it's often very cheap. My German cousins are well aware (as is everyone that knows me) of my knitting obsession. So when we were there last Christmas, their Christmas gift to me was a big bag of yarn. Very clever, those Germans.
It's not actually a yarn I would have chosen myself, but it's good to expand the horizons. It's Schachenmayr nomotta (excellent German yarn brand) Bravo Baby, 100% acrylic sport weight yarn. I don't usually go for acrylic, but I'm not going to turn down free yarn. In the band it looked white with blue flecks, but the overall effect knitted up is a speckled light blue. My cousin bought me a bag full of yarn, specifically enough to make a sweater.
This was over Christmas. I'm going back next week. Therefore, I had to have something completed in that yarn. It had to be for myself since it was a Christmas gift, and I don't really knit for myself that much. It also had to be a sweater, since that was the amount she had insisted on buying.
I pored over pattern books. I considered designing my own. I ran from that idea and went back to pattern books. I scoured the internet. I had to find a pattern that fit this small gauge and still looked good in a varigated yarn. After much frustration, I found myself back at my favorite knitting book, Stitch 'n Bitch, looking at a sweater I had planned to make at some point anyway. It's called Under the Hoodie, and it's shown in the book in mohair with red and pink stripes. It's cute in that pattern, but luckily I saw the basic shape and realized there is nothing more comfortable than a hoodie.
The gauge was perfect, and it fits really well (see what happens when you do go check the gauge?). The hem wants to roll on me, I want to block it into submission, but it's acrylic. But then, it's a hoodie, so I don't think a little roll on the hem is going to bother me too much when I'm in a hoodie kind of mood.
It's a lot of stockinette. It's a whole lot of stockinette, and most of the sweater is a really basic shape. The pocket and hood, both new to me, were pretty fun to knit though. The pocket was picked up at the bottom and knit together into a row at its top. The hood just kind of continued from the neck, with a really cute pattern at the neckline, and ended in a three-needle bind off. Even the ribbing at the edges is really cute, because it's a broken rib pattern that minimizes the frustration of actually ribbing. Overall, I'm happy with the finished product. Go go gadget gauge swatches!

Pattern: Under the Hoodie from Stitch and Bitch
Yarn: About 6 1/2 skeins of Schachenmayr nomotta Bravo Baby, sport weight, 100% acrylic. (I still have just under 4 skeins of it left.) Christmas gift
Needles: Size 7 (4.5mm) straight, Size 8 (5mm) 24" circular . Had to buy the circular, but that's okay, as I promptly picked it up again for a baby blanket
Price: $14.95 for the needles, the rest was in the collection or a gift
Time: Once I started knitting, it took about a month of farting around. Had I focused, I think it could have easily been done in two weeks.

Note: Please ignore the devil eyes and crazy hair in the photos. I had a long day and it was raining.

Sunburst Sling Bag

The truth is, I actually finished all the actual knitting for this bag some months ago. I just hadn't finished. That was partly because I'm lazy, but also because I could decide what kind of lining I wanted. There are so many rich colors in this bag, it didn't seem fair to pick just one. I tried, I even picked out some Indian cotton in a deep red, but when it came time to sew it up, it just didn't look right. I decided the answer was just to sew up the bag and worry about the lining later, by which I mean if I do decide on a lining, make my mom do it. The fabric actually seems dense enough that it's not going to be a problem. And the bag is large enough that I could fit a small European country (say, Luxembourg) in it.
The pattern was really fun to knit. It's the Sunburst Sling Bag, and it's a bunch of wedges made by short rows. I'm in love with short rows because they're easy enough that you can knit them in public, but not so boring that you want to chew your own arm off. It's a little stretched out in the picture because I've actually been using it, which is a bonus. I probably should have checked my gauge and not made it this big, but I really like it.

Pattern: Sunburst Sling Bag by Just One More Row, bought by a friend off eBay for $3
Yarn: Recylced Sari Silk
Needles: Size 8, in the collection, but clearly was wrong for the gauge. I maintain that this is a happy accident.
Price: We're not going to talk about that
Time: A few weeks of sporadic knitting, several months before seaming


I didn't think I was the type to knit food, I really didn't. But then I saw these knitted cupcakes in One Skein, and they were too cute to pass up. I'm mildly impressed with the people that seem to be able to turn any shape into a knitted item (see Knitorama) but it didn't really seem like my thing. But behold the cuteness. Don't look directly at it, it may be so cute it burns the retina. From left to right, we have a plain cupcake with white icing and blue (button) sprinkles, German chocolate, marble with white icing, and plain with lemon icing. I think there's something slightly wrong in the actual pattern though. When I first made them, the bodies of the cupcakes were way too tall. All but the German chocolate here were doubled over before I attached the tops. And the tops could be bigger in proportion to the base. I even used larger needles than recommended. Perhaps I just feel that the tops of cupcakes should be overstuffed, as they are clearly the best part. Either way. Great way to use up scrap yarn, and would make an adorable part of a birthday gift.

Pattern: Knitted cupcakes from One Skein
Yarn: Various scraps
Needles: Size 5 and 9 (though I used 11) dpn
Time: About an hour or two per cupcake

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

An Almost Disaster

Newly enamored with Last Minute Knitted Gifts, I decided to try the silk camisole. Only I decided not to make it with the recommended silk because 1. I'm cheap, 2. according to Knit and Tonic it pills the minute you sweat in it and 3. I'm cheap. So I hopped around the LYS and discovered some beautiful sock yarn in exactly the right gauge. The colors were rich and subtle. The feel was soft and smooth. Yes, Cherry Tree Hill, you had clearly gotten something right. I, however, had gotten something drastically wrong.
Actually, I had gotten several things wrong, but we shall see which is the most glaring. The first was gauge. I hadn't checked my gauge, was a needle size too big, and was knitting something that could have just about fit my dad (a 6'2" 220 lb ex-marine), when I was making it for me. Okay, minor setback. Ripped it out, checked the gauge dutifully, and I was back on track.
Then I couldn't read the first part of the pattern. As I was casting on, it gives instructions, then says place marker and repeat. I had not repeated. Well, at least it was the right gauge this time. Ripped it out, gave it another go.
Then came the lace border. The camisole itself has a little lace edging at the bottom, which is not the prettiest lace I've ever seen, but I was going to give it a try. Somehow, I kept getting the wrong number of stitches. I tried to fudge it, but the right number would never come out. I toyed with the idea of just skipping the lace entirely, but no, I said to myself, that would be lazy and wrong.
I checked the errata. I had already checked the errata when I first bought the book, but I checked it again just to be sure. Nothing wrong with this pattern in my edition. I tried the lace again. Still no luck, I kept getting the wrong number of stitches. I emailed the author. She told me to check the errata. I wrote out the lace pattern explicitly for my size and counted. No, it should be right. This time, armed with an army of stitch markers, I was going to get it right.
As I ripped back the yarn this last time, I marveled at it's beauty once again. And such a good deal, I thought to myself. All this was just one skein of sock yarn, enough to make a tank top.
Then it hit me. I had bought sock yarn. If you are a knitter, your ears (or eyes, or whatever part of you that's supposed to perk up when you're reading) have perked up at this point. Why yes, the very lovely Cherry Tree Hill Supersock.
Supersock. I had almost knit lace with a superwash. Lace, which must be blocked within an inch of its life, with a superwash, designed to defeat my every blocking effort.
Well, fine. I'm still going to make the tank top, just without the lace pattern, which was my original plan of retreat. The lace pattern really isn't that pretty anyway, and I can just echo the picot edge on the neckline. I'm just really glad I caught it now, before I did finally get the lace pattern right, and had no way to save it.
Although the way this tank has been going, other disasters may lurk in the future. So much for a six-to-eight hour project.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Wedding Pictures

Yes, I know. The wedding was a month ago. But I finally got around to taking the red eye out of the pictures, and here they are. Here's one with a nice closeup of me in my shawl, and one with me and the bride. I think the professional photographer got a really nice picture of Cassie in her shawl, but I haven't seen it yet. Sadly, I don't have a picture of my whole outfit complete with awesome shoes. You'd think, being 5'2", that it would be fairly easy to fit all of me into the frame, but I don't control my mother's camera. Well, I assure you, the shoes were stunning (if somewhat dangerous).
I also want to point out that I got a lot of teasing about wearing a watch with a semi-formal dress, but 1. I feel absolutely naked without a watch and 2. it matches! How could you pass up wearing a watch that matches? I stand by my decision.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


So I wondered for a while why I never had any comments on my blog, I figured everyone who read it just talked to me in person or emailed me. Turns out I had "moderate comments" on the whole time. I apologize to everyone who posted.
And I call myself a geek.....

Monday, July 17, 2006

Baby Bolero

The latest knit for the shop is the Baby Bolero from One Skein. The shop got in a new yarn, Ultra Alpaca from Berroco. It's a nice 50/50 blend of alpaca and wool. This little sweater took well under a skein, so I made another mini sweater for the millions of naked dress forms in the shop as well.
It has a cute little lace motif at the back that is supposed to be good luck. Whether or not that's true, I think it's really cute. I do, however, need to stop taking pictures of things while they're blocking. You can still see soaking wet patches. The yarn itself does have a nice even tone and is quite soft to work with.
The pattern was really quick, I had most of it done in one evening. The only thing that took me longer was picking up all the stitches for the border. I'm pick up challenged for some reason. It finally turned out okay after two really hideous attempts. The first time I was distracted by the belly dancing though.
The mini sweater is again the one from Last Minute Knitted Gifts, which is a lot of fun and takes less than an hour. I can see this little guy on handmade cards, as a part of a wrapping on a gift, strung together as holiday garland, and of course, on all sorts of cute little dress forms at the shop.
But the summary for the bolero is:
Pattern: Baby Bolero from One Skein
Needles: Size 8, any kind (in the collection) and size 9 24" circular (borrowed from the shop)
Yarn: Ultra Alpaca, regularly $8.95 for 216 yards, 50/50 alpaca wool blend (available in lots of colors)
Time: Could easily be done in an evening if you can pick up stitches better than I can

Sweater seen in the wild

Look, here's Nancy, the owner of Fringe, wearing my hourglass sweater at Veronica's birthday party. The party was pretty awesome, btw. Not only was it a party in a yarn shop, but there was also lots of food, cake, beer, and belly dancing. Yep, belly dancing. I'm so going to learn.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Mini Sweater

So after I finished the marathon sweater, I wasn't quite done knitting sweaters, or with that yarn. Also in Last Minute Knitted Gifst is the really cute mini holiday sweater. I made it in the same yarn and changed it to a boatneck to match the hourglass sweater. Here it is on it's own, and with the mama sweater for scale. It went really quickly, probably an hour or hour and a half including seaming. I plan to make one of these little guys in about every yarn I use. This is convienient, since the LYS has lots of little wire dress forms that need covered. So 1. buy this book and 2. make this sweater.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

I'll take that challenge!

I'm completely enamored of knitting up shop samples for my new LYS, Fringe. The owner set me up on another shop sample and challenged me to have it done in a week. This was last Thursday evening. I'm blocking it now. Hopefully it will be dry in time to take to the shop tomorrow.
The challenge was the Hourglass Sweater from Last Minute Knitted Gifts in Knit One, Crochet Too's Paint Box. The book itself is divided into sections based on how long each knitted gift will take to make. It's a good thing this sweater was in the More-Than-Eight-Hour category, or I would have been really cranky. It should have been in the Way-The-Hell-Longer-Than-Eight-Hour category. I have worked obsessively on this since last Friday, and I just finished hemming it. Yes, hems.
Now, I thought I would be cranky about the hems. It's knit in the round, so there's no side seams to sew (except for a small underarm section). However, the entire thing is made with a hem on every single edge. So take a pattern with no finishing, and add more finishing to it than you would put on any sweater, ever. But like I said, I thought I would be cranky about this. It actually turned out so cute that I'm not the least bit mad, I actually kind of enjoyed it, and will definitely do it again. It's an unexpected look for a sweater that turns out looking really nice.
The part I was really cranky about was the yoke. The first few rounds where you attached the sleeves to the body were really tight to knit. I wound up using my smaller needle to sneak them over sometimes. After that, it went pretty well. The neckline worries me. It seems a bit floppy, and that's what I had read on lots of online reviews. I even knit a few extra rounds as some of the knitalongs had suggested, and it still seems floppy. Hopefully I can whip it into shape with blocking.
The yarn, as it turns out, had me alternately mesmerized and cursing. The colors are beautiful, and it's really great to watch the changes as you're knitting. For a large part of the pattern, it's the only change in miles of stockinette. However, it's single spun, which means it's fairly weak. I found that the yarn tore apart on me as I was knitting, pretty much any time I pulled back with a lot of tension. Now it is 100% wool, which means you can split splice it back together, and to join a new ball, but it was still a hassle to have to deal with. It will felt, which could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on what you want. It makes me a little nervous in a sweater. It will run a little bit too. When I was washing it, the blue seemed to leak in particular. Once I squeezed it out, I left it on a beige towel to dry (stupid, I know, but I have no other color) and it was okay. It was scratchy to work with, but I'm told after using a wool wash it softens up nicely. We'll see. I had a free sample of a wool wash called Eucalan, maybe that will do the trick.
That said, I really do think I'll make the pattern again. The miles of stockinette were really boring at times, but it's a great movie sweater. The fit is really flattering, even though I tried it on before blocking. I have some delicious malabrigo yarn that I plan to make it in for myself. Hey, I already bought the needles, right?
The jury is still out on the yarn. We'll have to see how well it softens up. For me, it was a bit too scratchy, but I think it would felt really well. It would make an awesome bag, I'm just not really sure I want to work with it again. I'm the kind of person that would sleep in cashmere sheets if it were at all affordable (and it isn't, especially after last month's credit card bill), so softness really matters to me. And if it's too bright for you, don't worry, this is the brightest colorway, a #19 that doesn't seem to be listed on the website. There are some nice muted blues and purples or pastels.
In summary:
Pattern: Hourglass Sweater from Last Minute Knitted Gifts, in the collection.
Needles: Size 7, 32" and 12" circulars, had to buy the 32"
Yarn: Knit One Crochet Too's Paint Box, about 9 skeins to make the second smallest size, regularly around $10 a skein. Damn. Good thing it's a shop sample.
Time: 5 1/2 days of obsessive knitting and finishing, and a rare wool wash and block from me. The blocking was totally worth it though, look at the difference in the two photos.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Renaissance Faire

So yesterday, my mom and I went to the Bristol Renaissance Faire. You can see the pics here. It's mostly just entertaining to watch the shows and see all the interesting costumes, but I also got to pet a zebra, which was very exciting.
There was also a woman who did a demonstration about how to fold a kilt, and did various spinning related things. Here's a picture of me pretending like I can spin at her spinning wheel. I learned all about how to process and spin flax. It looks pretty much like straw when it's unprocessed, and then you kind of beat the heck out of it to turn it into to linen. You have to keep it wet when you're spinning too.
I also learned all about how to dye things with natural plant dyes. Queen Anne's Lace gives a lovely light green. There was a skein dyed with real indigo. There's a root that gives a reddish color. You can use black walnut to get a dark brown. Aparently there's a fungus that gives you purple, but I didn't see that. And if you want different shades of black, brown, or grey, you just get it from that color of sheep. Although I've dabbled in spinning, I really don't ever see myself going farther up the production chain than that. Still, it might be interesting to try the organic dye sometime.
Sadly, her yarns were not for sale since she used them as samples. I really wanted some nice handspun. You'd think at a Renaissance faire there'd be at least something knitting related, but that was it. Aparently last year there was something, but they cancelled this year. I was a little cranky about that. I even heard some other woman in one of the little bookstores asking her friend, "Did you find knitting?" Clearly, they're missing their market here.
Well, I still had fun. And I got to pet a zebra.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

On Display

Here I am, on display at the Local Yarn Shop. That's the Ballet T from Loop-d-Loop and several of my hat designs, all in Brown Sheep Company's Cotton Fleece (80% cotton, 20% wool).
I was so excited to walk in and see my stuff hanging right next to the professionally knit sweater. The picture's a little bright, but it does fit right in. I'm going to have to take better pictures of the hats for the pattern.
This may possibly be the best deal ever. Not only am I not spending my own money to knit, I'm even getting something back for it.
But to summarize:
Ballet T:
Pattern: Loop-d-Loop, in the collection
Needles: A fun size 15, in the collection
Yarn: Brown Sheep Company's Cotton Fleece, no cost to me! Two skeins, regularly $8.50.
Time: About 4 hours for the larger size
Total Cost: Nothing!

Baby Hats:
Pattern: Mine! And you can get it at Fringe.
Needles: Size 7, in the collection
Yarn: Brown Sheep Company's Cotton Fleece, again, no cost to me. Two skeins will make 6 hats.
Time: About 2 hours per hat, three of which I did while on shift.
Total Cost: Nothing!

And while I'm at it, go see the absurdly cute JackRocketWear. You may hear more about them later.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The First Pattern!

Well, I've finally done it. I've written a pattern. An incredibly creative, awesome pattern, if I do say so myself. I've been knitting baby hats for years, mostly donating them to charity. I've based the hats off a couple of different patterns, but made many a modification along the way.
Now, for your knitting pleasure, all those possibilities are in one booklet - Choose Your Own Baby Hat Adventure.
It's written in the style of the choose-your-own-adventure books I read a lot as a kid. You know those? "You come face to face with fire-breathing dragon. What do you do? If you run and hide, turn to page 5. If you slay the dragon with your hero's sword, turn to page 17." Well, I would turn to page 5, get burned crispy, and that would be that.
However, knitting is an entirely different subject. For this hat, you choose each type of brim, body, top, and extras that you want for you hat, making the decisions by turning pages along the way. It winds up being 24 pamphlet pages, including charts and instructions. It was a bit tricky to figure out how to print that, let me tell you. But the prototype looks good, and I think all it lacks are a few more pictures.
The best part about this pattern is that I'm actually going to sell it at my new local yarn shop, Fringe. Friends who ask nicely may have a copy, but everyone else will just have to get it there. And on the pattern, I do highly encourage the knitter to make at least one of these hats for charity.
Start knitting!

Which do you prefer?

In the midst of shawl madness, I took a little break to make these sweet little baby booties. It took about one evening's worth of TV, and I've had them done for a little while. The trouble was, I debated for a long time on how best to show them off on the blog. Should I show off their tenderness by posing them delicately next to a flower? Or should I instead put them on a plush Albert Einstein?
I think this could be a new personality test. And I think I prefer the Einstein.

Pattern: From Simply Knitting, a fun little British magazine in the collection.

Needles: Size 4, in the collection

Yarn: Dale of Norway Baby Ull, leftovers

Time: One evening of TV.

Total cost: Nothing! Take that, all ye who mock the yarn stash!