Sunday, January 27, 2008

Two to Tango

In general, I am not one for fads. My hair has not dramatically changed most of my life (variations include: very long and straight with bangs, very long and straight with no bangs, and long and straight with no bangs). I have owned a certain percentage of my clothing since middle school. I still like ska.
However, I am powerless in the face of new and shiny yarn.
Are these my colors? No. But my new LYS (since the old one closed and all) got in this Tango stuff, and all the cool kids were knitting it, and I gave in and bought two skeins myself.

Um. What was I thinking? I don't wear these colors. I don't wear frilly things. I just wanted to knit this scarf. You know why? It's the crazy gauzy kind of yarn that you actually knit into instead of pulling through. I had tried at Stitches Midwest last summer, and it was a little fun, but I thought it was too frivolous to actually buy.

Apologies for this picture which 1. is blurry and 2. looks like brains.

(And part of me kind of likes that it looks like brains. Maybe it has some redeeming qualities after all. )

I think it's about 7 stitches wide on a size 9. I knit the two halves independently, then grafted them together in the center so all the ruffles would fall in the same direction. I should have done what Jen did, and kept twisting it, but the inner brown is really even less of my color than the outer purple.
Oh well. It was still fun, and there are worse things I could do with $*. Having done it once, I think I'm set for life. What else could you do with this stuff?

In Summary:
Pattern: About 7 sts wide, knitting into the tape yarn
Yarn: Universal Yarn Tango, (50% superwash merino, 50% dralon (????), 23 yds) 2 skeins
Needles: Something good for worsted, can't quite remember
Time: At least a week. It was slow going once the novelty wore off.
Cost: I think about $12

Friday, January 18, 2008

Cunning Hat

Okay, these things have been going around the internet like wildfire. I figured it was time to jump on the bandwagon.

If you know what this is, you also know you want one. Check out the pattern below.

The Cunning Hat

If you don't know where this hat comes from, put down your knitting, and go netflix Firefly right now. (You may also drive to the video store, if you're old fashioned like that.) If your first thought is, "Shiny! I think it's sweet," you're in the right place.
Browncoats everywhere have been making this hat with a frenzy. Mine is not terribly different (because how many ways can you make a hat with earflaps, really?), but there are a few details that weren't in the other patterns I consulted. I put them here mostly for my own reference, but you're welcome to use it.
I chose to use nice fuzzy Malabrigo yarn held doubled. Some use cheap acrylic, in the theory that Ma Cobb would be a Red Heart sort of knitter. I prefer natural wool, under the theory that she lives on a farm, wrangles her own sheep, and dyes the yarn with obnoxiously bright local plant dyes. I chose Malabrigo under the theory that I have to wear it, and I don't want anything icky. I went with my own gauge, but the major changes are to the earflaps. After studying certain screenshots, I realized there was a garter ridge (see here) right where the earflap picked up. I'm not that picky about trying to be accurate, I just thought it was an interesting feature and wanted to recreate it.
I've used the yarn held doubled. I find the easiest way to do this is to wind it into a cake or center pull ball, and use one strand from each end. If you find this troublesome, you could always wind it into two separate balls/cakes.

Yarn: Malabrigo Merino Worsted, one skein each of Bergamota (red-orange), Tigerlily (orange), and Cadmium (yellow), held double throughout

Gauge: 7 sts = 2" (5 cm)

Suggested needle size: US 10 (6.0 mm), 12" circ (optional) and dpn

Hat body:

Using Tigerlily (orange), cast on 72 sts with yarn held doubled. Join for working in the round, being careful not to twist.
Work two rows in K2 P2 rib.
Switch to stockinette (knit every round) and continue to work until piece measures 3.5" (8.75 cm).
Change to Cadmium (yellow) and continue to work in stockinette with yarn held doubled until piece measures about 6" (15 cm).

Hat decreases:
When work no longer fits comfortably on circular needle, switch to double points.
Round 1: K7, K2tog around (64 sts)
Round 2: Knit
Round 3: K6, K2tog around (56 sts)
Round 4: Knit
Round 3: K5, K2tog around (48 sts)
Round 4: Knit
Round 5: K4, K2tog around (40 sts)
Round 6: Knit
Round 7: K3, K2tog around (32 sts)
Round 8: Knit
Round 9: K2, K2tog around (24 sts)
Round 10: Knit
Round 11: K1, K2tog around (16 sts)
Round 12: K2tog around (8 sts)
Cut working yarn and thread through remaining stitches. Secure tightly.

Ear flaps:
Using two strands of Bergamota (orange-red), pick up 18 sts along one side of the hat.
Row 1 (WS): Knit
Row 2 -7: Work in stockinette (so that knit side faces out)
Row 8: K 1, K2tog, knit to last 3 sts, K2tog, K1 (16 sts)
Row 9 - 11: Work in stockinette
Repeat rows 8 - 11 until 12 sts remain. (Two repeats, with 14 and 12 stitches remaining after each decrease row.)
Work decrease row one more time (10 sts).
Bind off in knit on WS.
Do not weave in ends. Leave them long, and possibly add more.

For second earflap, try hat on and begin picking up at opposite temple. For me, this was 26 sts away, but your forehead size may vary. This is asymmetrical, and leaves a wide gap at the forehead, and a rather small gap at the nape of the neck.

Make a very large pompom using all three colors. (Good instructions here.) Gather top of hat a bit when you attach it.

Wear with pride. Man walks down the street in that hat, you can tell he's not afraid of anything.
You can also tie the flaps up Fargo style, if you want.
PS. Sorry about the slightly weird pictures. I just got a new camera, and we're not entirely on the same page yet.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Miss January

Break out your calendars, because I'm Miss January!

Sort of anyway. Those are my socks for Ewe and Me's Sock of the Month club.
And there's the much better official pic here. (I never claimed to be a good photographer, just a good knitter.)
It's a simple little pattern that I liked a lot. And the best part about designing this month is that I'm currently ahead of the game, sock-of-the-month-wise. No luck for February though, and that's a short month.
In Summary:
Pattern: Mine! The Second Step sock pattern. May be available once Jan. is over.
Yarn: Schoeller + Stahl Fortissima Socka Mit Bambou (70% superwash wool, 20% bamboo, 10% nylon, 420 yards) 1 skein
Needles: Size US 1 (2.25 mm), two 16" circ
Time: Probably a week or two of light to intermittent work
Cost: About $20 for the kit

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Fun Swaps

The kitten continues to have good taste in yarn, and I feel about the same way.
What's he's happily sleeping on is this:
Nearly 800 yards of beautiful handspun corriedale, from a swap with Vicki.
It's really lightweight, sport or smaller , so will likely become some kind of lace. I'll have to find a good pattern though.
The other thing that came with the swap is this:
Vicki's Tweets cat toy and pattern, available on her website.
Duncan approves, and I probably really need to sort out that tangle of wires under my desk before he does some damage.
Worfy is very pretty, but does not care.

Then again, maybe I was wrong

I may never get my bag back after all.
And that's an alpaca baby sweater he's chewing on.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

I think he likes it

While I may have one of the world's cutest kittens, I am fairly certain I have one of the most spoiled. After stealing my bag for entirely too long, I had to make my little Duncan a bed of his own from the same yarn.

But could you resist this tummy? No, I didn't think so.
I wanted to felt it, since the yarn is a thick and thin, and he likes the felted bag. His foster mom, Heather, gave me a pattern for a cute little round cat bed, but it was knitted from the outside in. I wasn't sure if I would have enough yarn for that, so I knit from the inside out.
It's basically based on Elizabeth Zimmerman's Pi Shawl (which can be found in Knitting Workshop) in that I basically followed her instructions for when to increase on the circle. I say basically, because at some point, I wound up with a ripple in the last round.

I figured I would just roll it over and stitch it down after I felted it to make a ridge around the bed. But after the first felting, the ripples looked kind of cute when I stiched them together. It winds up looking a lot like a pie crust, and I will avoid the obvious puns.
I was going to felt it some more, but I made the mistake of leaving it in the living room and Duncan claimed it already. I think this is a good sign.
His good taste continues though, as the other day he tried to steal my angora sweater. (Look at those claws!)

This look better mean, "I love you, Mom."

It probably just means he loves the sweater. I knit him a little blankie with some leftovers, but he doesn't seem to care about it. At least he likes the cat bed, and I can have my bag back.
Worfy does not seem to care and still sleeps on my Hello Kitty pillow, or directly above my head when he can manage it.
In summary:
Yarn: Queensland Big Wave(90% wool, 10% cashmere, 65 yards) about 9 skeins
Pattern: Loosely based on Elizabeth Zimmerman's Pi Shawl
Needle: Size US 13 (9.0 mm)
Time: Less than a week, but the last rounds felt like forever
Cost: Far too high for a cat bed. Honestly, about $80, and that was on sale. At least I'll get my bag back, though.

New Socks for a New Year

So, technically, these were the November Socks from my Ewe and Me sock club. But I had to hurry to get December back, so I'm all caught up now.

To be honest, it took a little while to start these. I mean, it's seriously just a cuff down, 2x2 rib with a s1, k1 style heel flap. It was hard to get excited about that.

But the yarn is really, really pretty. It's the "Iris" colorway from Gypsy Girl. At first I was afraid it would be too yellow or too green (neither of which I like very much), but I think the overall effect is of a pretty teal blue.
Oh, and check out those awesome sock blockers. They're made by hand by Lorna's dad, but I think you can still get them at my new LYS, Peggy's Strands of Heaven.

Overall, I'm pleased, but the pattern was not exciting. The yarn is lovely, and I would highly recommend it. The color is amazing, and there's hardly any pooling at all. The fiber feels absolutely lovely. I'd compare it to Claudia or Shibui.

In summary:
Yarn: Gypsy Girl sock yarn (100% superwash merino, 200 yds/ skein) 2 skeins
Pattern: November Sock of the month, but it's cuff down 2x2 ribbing with a k1, sl 1 heel flap and your basic toe
Needles: Size US 1 (2.25 mm), two 12" circs
Time: Well, I've had it for about two months, but I suspect I worked lightly on it for two weeks
Cost: About $20 for the kit

PS. Expect exciting news about January's sock of the month soon