Sunday, April 29, 2007

More new things

In addition to the blue cotton from my last post, I have also begun mulling over the possibilities of doing something with all the oddments of handspun yarn I have accumulated since learning to spin 5 years ago, probably something like a Kaffe Fassett design. I pulled out all my yarn bits and sorted them into a big pile, adding, subtracting, etc to get the pile you see here. I had done some pillows in the past year using Kaffe's magic ball technique and really liked them (the pillows pictured here are both done that way - one using Kaffe's Poppies pattern, and the 2nd in my own design of enlarged houndstooth checks)) and the leftover magic ball is the last picture. For the magic ball, break off varying lengths of yarn in colours that change as you please and tie them together into one long, continuous new yarn. Wind into a ball and knit merrily away; it's like making your own self-striping yarn without having to do the dying myself. Yes, it leaves tons of knots and ends on the back but for a pillow I didn't care about the ends - I just left them on the inside as an extra bit of padding for the pillow.

But for now I want to do something different so I'm playing with some other of Kaffe's patternings to combine into my own design for a vest. It's still in the gestation phase but I think it will have some life in it very soon.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

New things brewing

Yes, I know I said recently that I was on a yarn diet, but when Elann offered its Sonata cotton yarn at $1.99 a ball, how could I resist? After all, the yarn diet is because my budget is, well, tighter than really tightly knit socks, not because my stash is overflowing. So I used the rationale that by buying the yarn at 1/2 price I was placating my bank account while still acquiring some really great yarn. I also ordered the colour card for the entire Sonata line and the colours are truly beautiful. I also can't say enough about Elann's quick service - I ordered the yarn the evening of April 12, it was shipped April 13 (a Friday) and it arrived on Monday, April 16. It's my first time ordering from them and I will definitely do it again. Maybe after that budget thing resolves itself??

Since I'm fussy about colours I usually don't like things on the Internet unless I've seen the yarn elsewhere before and have a good idea of what I'm getting, but I felt pretty safe with something called "Soft Periwinkle". I share my fellow blogger's affection for periwinkle and find I can usually count on something called that name to be a colour I'm going to like a lot.

So what am I planning on making? I'm not sure yet but have a few ideas. I only got the yarn a few days ago, so it hasn't had time to age properly but perhaps this is one of those times when it's best to use it in a fresh state. I've got an old blue seed stitch cardigan with a lace border around the neck edge that I have loved and worn forever but it's beginning to show its age, so I'm thinking of replacing it with a new cardigan, but different details. Hhhhhhhhmmmmm, ideas are brewing...........

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Entrelac socks, continued

After completing one entrelac sock through the heel shaping, I determined that, if I didn't begin the 2nd sock very soon I would be in grave danger of having a solitary sock. Singleton socks are not very useful if you're a biped so I broke off my yarn and began sock #2. I am very glad I did this. I made a number of small tweaks to the pattern to size the socks to my feet, and while Eunny's version of the short row heel is simpler than the versions I have tried before, I must say that I do not like working it at all. I can't really say why I dislike it so much; the fit is fine but I find it very easy to get really off track and I don't enjoy knitting away thinking everything is fine, only to discover that I have 8 stitches remaining on one side and only 2 on the other. This means I really messed up somewhere and that doesn't please me.

At any rate, I did finish sock # 2 through the heel, and also have another sock done nearly to the point of the calf shaping. I am having a little trouble with posting pictures tonight, so if the photos don't show up forgive me and I will try again tomorrow.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Snake cozy has a home

An update on the Diamondback Snake Cozy that I made for the Benicia Vallejo Humane Society annual Barkitecture IV auction - I heard yesterday that it did sell after all. As I suspected, people who saw it either loved the humour and recognized that it wasn't intended as a serious home for a snake, or they though I was nuts. Both opinions could very well be correct.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Entrelac Socks

The Entrelac Socks featured in the Interweave Knits Spring 2007 issue have really had me thinking. Designed by Eunny Jang, they're entirely worked in entrelac instead of just featuring entrelac in the straight leg portion. Since math is definitely not my thing and thinking in 3-D isn't a real strength either I was really happy to have someone else work out the details of this idea, which I would NEVER have been able to figure out on my own.

I figured that, given the interest these socks seem to have generated, that there'd be some kind of knitalong to join in, and as a very new blogger who's still exploring what all of these things are I wanted to join in one and see what it's all about. I'm very happy to say I've just joined the Entrelac Socks Knit A Long at I'll post a picture or two here but will also do a post on the knitalong blog as well!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Icarus takes wing

I've been eyeing the Icarus shawl from Interweave Knits Summer 2006 issue for some time and have been inspired by the completed shawls that I have seen coming off of my friends' needles. So naturally, I had to make one of my own. Most of the completed versions I've seen used lace-weight mohair, but mohair makes me itch like fire so that wasn't a good choice for me. Besides, I'm on something of a yarn diet due to budgetary restraints (sigh) so I did a little stash shopping. I found a beautiful 800-yard one of a kind skein of hand-dyed silk noil yarn from Pine Tree Yarns that has been begging to be made into something wonderful. The Icarus shawl calls for 1 skein of about 875 or so yards, but with given the difference in gauge that I'd have using the silk compared to the fine alpaca I figured it was worth seeing if I could make it work.

I also had just purchased some Addi Lace Needles in US size 4 and wanted to try them out. Yes, I did a gauge swatch to compare the differences between size 4, 5, and I think 3, and 4 was the hands-down winner (besides, I also really wanted to try out my new needles). So I launched into Icarus, hoping to have enough yarn.

The pattern includes very clear directions for making the shawl larger or smaller. As I am short in stature as well as in yarn I chose to make the smaller version, but I still ended up running out of yarn before finishing the last chart for the border. I managed to complete the feather shapes that I had underway, but the finished product is missing the last 8 rows of chart 3 and the 4 border rows. I had to cannabilize my gauge swatch to complete the bind off, and to make the edge look like I meant it to be that way I added beads in a mixed assortment of blues and clears to give it a nice finish and weight. It blocked out a lot wider than I expected but the size, weight, and feel of the yarn are fantastic, as is the colour. I LOVE this shawl!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Catching up.

I've got lots of projects that I had wanted to blog about but since it took longer than planned to get the blog going there's some catching up to do. A really fun project I recently finished was the Diamondback Snake Cozy, which was created as a donation to the local chapter of the Humane Society's annual fundraising auction. The fundraiser, Barkitecture, requested local artists to create some sort of "domicile" for cats, dogs, birds, or slinky reptiles. Why I came up with the idea of a snake cozy I'll never recall. The idea was to make a long hollow snake-shaped tube, open at the tail end and the mouth, that a cold-blooded critter would, in theory, keep warm and comfortable inside. I knitted the snake out of a double strand of Cascade 220 wool in tweedy and heathery shades of golden brown, and added bright yellow diamonds down it's back. I added a wide open mouth, a long red forked tongue, and felted the cozy in the washer and dryer before adding embroidered eyes, tiny white fangs, and a rattle made of bells inside a knitted series of bobbles. I don't know yet if it sold at the auction; everyone who saw it before I turned it in to the Humane Society either really loved it or thought I had temporarily taken leave of my senses. I'll find out later this week, but if it didn't sell I'll stuff it full of fibre fill, and sew the tail and mouth shut and turn it into a toy to donate to Toys for Tots this coming holiday season.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Up and running!

Ok, I have a digital camera; I have a basic knowledge of how to use it; I can (usually) find the pictures on my computer once I download them, and it's time to start blogging! So what am I blogging about? Mostly about my knitting and spinning projects, but also anything else that comes to mind. I had hoped to get my blog started at the first of the year, but it's taken a little longer than I planned. But here it is, and I hope I don't end up being too terribly frustrated trying to figure out how all this stuff works. More on my recent projects over the next few days!