Thursday, March 10, 2011

Stash Fest

Stash Fest was really all made possible by Ravelry's pattern browser.  It was super easy to just go through my stash, say, "I have x yards of x-weight yarn" and find a good pattern to eat it up.  It was also a bit stressful, because I had limited amounts of yarn, and I was determined not to buy more to finish a project.  The point was to use up the yarn, after all.

First was the scarf.  For this, I picked a nice stitch pattern, decided on a width, and knit until I ran out of yarn.  My sister later said she liked it, but it was too long, so I ripped out several inches.  I had also made a cowl out of the same yarn, but it looked awful, so the remainder of this yarn got turned into two hats.  They look a little silly, and I don't have pictures of them.

Stash scarf
Stitch detail
Blech cowl (that has been ripped)
After that, I had lots of single balls of yarn, so I made lots of hats.  Not much to report on these.
Laid flat
Stitch detail
Laid flat
Top View
Weird chenille hat.  The white ones look just like this.
And then, I tackled the Gap duster yarn harvest.  Okay, so I said I made a Sahara out of it, but at that gauge, the fabric was weird and too tight.  Also, I got over-zealous with the waist decreases, so it was too snug and I didn't want to re-do the body, so it stayed as a UFO for a really long time.  Finally, I decided that it would be better to turn the yarn into something else, something at a looser gauge.  I was right: at this gauge, it makes a nicer fabric.

Neckline detail
Sleeve detail
Next, I had several balls of gray yarn, from back when I first started crocheting (like in 1998-2000).  It became mitts and two hats, which I have no pictures of.  I think I was too caught up with emptying out my stash to document it.  Oops.

Then, I had most of a skein of sport-weight acrylic, I don't remember what it was called and the label is long gone.  It was one of the yarns with the word "baby" on the label.  Anyway, I knit and ripped a few things with this, because it was an odd amount of yarn: too much for some things, not enough for others.  I made Little Shells with it, but I added several repeats of the shell pattern to really get it all used up.

Little shells
Shell detail
Also, I swear I blocked it, and I really don’t know why it’s curling so much. Right after I blocked it, it curled a little at the bind-off edge, but not as badly as it is here. When I blocked it, I pulled it super-tight, and the edge curled a little as a result. That may be to blame. It got blocked again after the pictures were taken.
In going through my stash, I found two lone balls of Patons Grace, one in black, and one in blue. I remember buying them, but what I planned to do with only one ball of yarn still escapes me.
I had been looking through a lot of shawl and shawlette patterns when I made Little Shells, and a few had stuck in my head. So I bought a few extra balls of yarn so those lonely little balls could become shawls: Haruni, instead of taking up space in my stash.
Modeled by my floor
This shawl got blocked twice, due to size reasons. Take note, users of Knit Picks’ blocking mats. I have one box of mats, and my shawl (knit following the pattern to the letter) is too big to fit. The middle of the shawl and the last three sets of leaves on either side got blocked in the first blocking. The second blocking was really for the rest of the leaves (I only got it selectively wet the second time around). That’s also why it’s hard to photograph: the leaves flare out, and laid flat, they bunch up on themselves.
Leaf detail
Stitch detail
The peacock shawlette was more difficult.  I could have no hope of matching dye lots for a ball of yarn bought four years ago, but considering it’s a big yarn company, I hoped it would at least be close. It wasn’t.
Since the dye lots didn’t match (and rather egregiously at that), I gave up on my lonely little stash ball and bought one more new ball to finish the project. That mismatched, four-year-old ball of yarn is still in my stash.
Pictures are pre-blocking.
Laid out
Feather detail

Stitch detail
There were more things in my stash after I'd finished these, but at this point, I was pretty tired of stash busting, and I felt like I had put a big enough dent in it that I could move on to new projects without guilt.  Also, my sister had requested that I make her some things, and I was eager to oblige.
First were the Fishnet Knee-Highs.  They flew by, and they look great on her.  Perfect.
Pattern detail
Toe detail
Next were the Basic Stockings.  I'm sorry to say that in the end, they were too big around the calves, and my sister's legs are too slender for them (by rather a lot).  I want to make her a fresh pair, but I haven't gotten around to it.  Also, the elastic at the top, though I think it's great to hold them up, was a pain to put in.
Finished, pre-seaming
Lace detail
Toe Detail
Ribbing detail
I had yarn left over from both projects, and in the interest of continuing my busting efforts, I immediately turned it into hats.  I timed it right, too, so that at Christmas, my sister got two pairs of stockings and two surprise hats.
Free hat!
Modeled by my hand
Okay, now we've reached Christmas 2010.  Almost all caught up!
After Christmas, I began Riding to Avalon.  I think I'll stop before discussing that one, because it was, truly, a saga.  And rather heartbreaking, too.  But, I've discussed everything, all the way up until the end of last year.  Not much more to go!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

I promised gloves, I bring you gloves.

Okay... where was I?  Ah yes, with one exception, I was addressing the backlog.  Oh dear, I have been remiss again, and the damn thing has grown, rather than shrunk.  Well, as promised, I bring you gloves.

I had bought two balls of yarn for Elijah (following the yarn requirements in the pattern), and perhaps it's because I was using lighter yarn, but in the end, I only used about half of one.  I didn't want the yarn to languish in my stash, so I poked around Ravelry for a suitable pattern.  What I would do without Ravelry's pattern browser...  May I never have to find out.  Kingdom jumped out at me, and I don't have many pairs of gloves, so it seemed like a perfect fit.

It was a pain to knit, but mostly because the cable pattern is so complex, I had to consult the chart for just about every row.  Other than that, I chugged through them, mostly during my (long!) breaks between classes.  A good and satisfying knit.  The only problem, which I realized after finishing, was that with such light yarn, they make little to no difference in warmth.  But it's good yarn, and they're nice, soft gloves.  I photographed them at sunset, so they look much more orange than they should.  They really are the same color as Elijah.

Needed a hand to hold the camera.
Cable detail
Finger detail
After that, my mother came to visit me, and I've knit her vests many times in the past, so we bought yarn and I got to work.  She was with me for two weeks, and when she left, she brought home a finished garment (that needed to be blocked - I'm not magic).  It's really a simple pattern, one I developed from copying an existing vest she has.  I mentioned that one here.  The trouble with my mother's vests, though, is that I never, or almost never, have photos of them.  Honestly, I feel uncomfortable asking her to model them.  Which is a little silly, because I've never even tried.  Still, since I'm lacking pictures, I'll do my best.

The basic pattern is a big rectangle, with smaller rectangles cut out for armholes.  A lot like the Craftster circular shrug, only rectangle, with more fabric in the front for a wrap-like effect.  Also, instead of curving up along the hip region, it hangs down in points, and it comes all the way down to the hip, unlike a shrug.  For these (I've made three in total, now), I try to showcase the yarns (my mother always chooses interesting ones) so I keep it simple, with plain stockinette for the body and ribbing, turned hems or i-cord for the borders.  They're all reversible too, if she decides she prefers the reverse stockinette side.

Some time in early spring, I decided I wanted to try out a new yarn, one that was actually DK instead of my brain tricking me.  Since I didn't want to spend much on it, I decided to make a dog suit for Gir.  I'd wanted to make a dog suit since I first cast on for Gir, and it would give me an opportunity to get a feel for a new yarn without breaking the bank.  I've already talked about the dog suit - I think I mentioned it then because I was already on the subject of Gir.  But in keeping with the chronological format of the rest of the backlog posts, the suit was made in early spring, just after my mother's vest and the kingdom gloves.  By the way, it hasn't grown at all since then.  I was unsure of how to make his jawline, and I think I got it right (and I thought so then) but the whole thing made me nervous, so I abandoned it for more certain projects.

Whew!  Well, if you're keeping track, we've reached Spring, 2010.  I started knitting a bit more around then, probably because my mother's vest and the kingdom gloves got me in a knitting frame of mind.

I had used lovely egyptian cotton for my sister's Rose Red, and I liked the idea of using that yarn again, so I decided to make a whole shell out of it: Bottoms Up.  For this, I worked in a lot of modifications.  I knew from the start that it wouldn't be long enough in the waist, so I doubled the length of the first section.  Later, the next two sections weren't long enough, so I expanded them from 18 and 17 rows to 25 each.  I knit above the armholes as written.  It's a good top, and it looks good on, but I should've known better when I picked one hundred percent cotton.  It stretches like crazy, and actually, knowing the stretch factor, I could have knit one size smaller and gotten a better fit.  I've considered that, but I don't really want to unravel it, and it's okay as it is.  Just not great.

In progress
Right after Bottoms Up, I started the bed jacket.  I detailed an attempt at a Bed Jacket a long time ago, but it ended up being too small.  In the end, my sister took it, and I hear it looks great on her.  But I still wanted my bed jacket, so I cast on with Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece in a similar chocolatey-brown color, and I got to work.  It raced past, with more or less the same modifications as the first.  For one, I made the body all in one piece, with three-needle bind-offs at the shoulder seams.  The sleeves were knit in the round, until the sleeve cap, which was knit flat.  For the borders, I used a provisional cast on, attaching the border to the edges of the sleeves and body by knitting the last stitch together with a stitch from the body.  Then I grafted the provisional cast on and the last rows together.  It was great for time saving, and it helped a lot to know exactly how long to make each piece.  But if I had to do it again, I think I would have made the edging separately.  Blocking was much more complicated than it needed to be, and the edging couldn't be spread out all the way in some places.

This project traveled home with me, after I graduated in Tokyo, and it got blocked and seamed at home, in Los Angeles, which brings us to Summer 2010.  The last photo is closest to the actual color.

Sleeve, post-blocking
Body, pre-blocking
Buttoned, on 
Modeled arm-shot
When I came home from school, I was out shopping with my mom one day when she noticed a vest she liked.  It had an asymmetrical collar, and two layers of edging: a longer stockinette outer edging (which curled) and an inner edging of ribbing.  It also had bottom points that hung down.  We drew a picture of it in the store, and when we got home, she outlined how she wanted hers.  Hers would be a bit higher in the neck, shorter in the body, with less pronounced points.  So we bought yarn, and I went to work.  It was tricky, mostly because I made it up as I went along, and my mom wasn't always clear on her design points.  But at about a week from cast-on to bind-off, I can't complain.

hot off the needles
unblocked neckline detail
After the vest, I made the favorite sweater reproduction, which I've also described here.  I did a lot of cleaning when I got back from school: essentially a complete overhaul of my entire bedroom, closet and underneath my bed.  In the process, I pulled out all the old yarn, and I began what I called the Stash Fest.  During this time (two or three months), I looked at all the yarn in my stash, and seriously attempted to make something out of all of it.  I will describe Stash Fest in detail later, but I'm running out of steam.  Until later, (but not much!  I hope!) dear reader.

Monday, November 01, 2010

In which we make the journey from motheaten to FO

 And now, a story.

Once upon a time, there was a girl and a sweater.  The sweater was one of those light-as-air micro-knit v-neck pullovers that you see everywhere, that are staples in every wardrobe.  But this sweater was just fitted enough to flatter, without becoming sausage casing.  The v-neck was low, alluring without showing too much skin.  It was light enough to create an extra layer, but not so heavy that it made the girl sweat.  Important in a Los Angeles winter.  It was even light enough to throw in her purse in case her arms got cold later, as they so often did.  The girl loved the sweater, and it quickly moved into the rotation of clothes she wore the most often.

One day, the girl pulled the sweater out of a drawer and noticed a hole in one of the sleeves.  It was high, around the biceps, about the size of the tip of her pinky.  She was sad, but it was just one hole, so she continued to wear it anyway.  A few weeks later, she pulled it out of the drawer again and saw more holes.  The girl was living with cats at the time, and she knew that the cats liked to make a nest in the laundry.  She assumed the cats had kneaded her sweater and caused the holes.  Later, the girl's mother insisted it was moths.  But moths or cats, it didn't matter.  The girl knew how to repair the sweater, but she had no matching yarn to do it with.  Even if she had, trying to repair all those minuscule, micro-knit stitches would have been a massive headache.  And she had better sense than to wear a sweater with lots of holes in it.

So the sweater went back into a drawer, because the girl was too heartbroken to throw it away.  But that is not the end of our story.  The girl was a knitter, and she knew that this was not the end, not by a long shot.  Armed with her tape measure and several skeins of acrylic/merino blend, the girl got to work.

The girl worked quickly and steadily, measuring and re-measuring to make everything right.  She took copious notes, so that she could come back to it and have two, maybe three, of her favorite sweater in the future.  All went well until the armhole split, where the girl came across problems.  She measured and re-measured, and had to knit the armscye three times to get it right.  But she got it right.  As she was measuring for the fourth time, the girl wondered if it might have been better if the sweater was made with raglan sleeves, or perhaps a square sleeve with a saddle shoulder.  Such options would have been much easier to calculate and measure.  "But no!" argued a little voice in the girl's head.  "Part of why we love the sweater is that it has set-in sleeves, even if they are hard to design!"  The girl knew the voice was right, and she silenced the other voice in her head, the voice that had been anxious about reproducing set-in sleeves from the start.

Soon, the body was finished, and the girl tried it on, her belly full to the brim with butterflies.  As she pulled it over her head, the girl realized that, in all the time she had spent knitting, she hadn't tried it on once.  She even remembered thinking that she should try it on, and then thinking that she would have to stop knitting to try it on, and why should she stop knitting?  She was enjoying the rhythmic, meditative repetition of each little stockinette stitch.  On top of that, if she tried it on, stitches would surely fall off the needles and unravel themselves.  Not that it was hard to retrieve and fix them, but that took time and effort that the girl didn't want to spare.  Now, as she pulled on the half-made sweater, she wished she had a better idea of how it would fit, and most of all, she fervently hoped she wouldn't have to rip it apart and start over.  What if her numbers were off from the start, and the whole thing was too small?  Or too big?  What if, by being too impatient to stop knitting and try it on, she had done all this knitting for naught?  But all went without a hitch.  The new sweater fit as the old one had.  The neckline was a little low, but she knew that when she added the edging, it would be just right, just like the original.  And then the girl had a moment of clarity, and thought that this was encouraging her not to try on her knits, and to perpetuate these mistakes, when they might happen with much less favorable results.  But no time to dwell on that, there were sleeves to knit.

The girl knew, that this fabric was about twice as heavy, but she could always come back to the pattern with lighter yarn.  As it was, it would make a good outer layer, and it would keep her warmer than the original.

Flushed with success, the girl raced through the sleeves.  When the time came to knit the sleeve caps, she became anxious once again, but she fought down the doubting voices and, with her meticulous measuring and re-measuring, she finished them.  Until the sleeves were sewn into the armscyes, she wouldn't know if the sleeve caps were knit right, but the girl felt confident.  She had developed a new way of measuring the old sweater, and she trusted in herself.

Finally, with needles one size smaller, the girl picked up stitches around the neckline edge, and she knit the edging.  Compared to the rest of the sweater, which required extensive measuring, this detail was a breeze.  She folded over the edging, bound it off with the purl bumps of the first row, and tried on the sweater body for the second time.  More success.

Then, the sweater got washed, soaked and blocked.  Though it was cool when the girl started this project, LA was experiencing a heat wave.  The sweater was blocked and dry almost before the girl could blink.  And good thing it was, too, because the girl has had problems with heavy knits and mold in the past.

And then came the moment of truth: when the girl unpinned the sweater and sewed the first sleeve cap into the armscye.  She noticed that the sleeve cap seemed a little baggy, but other than that, it fit relatively well.  She tried it on before sewing in the other sleeve cap, and to her dismay, it was a terrible fit.  The sleeve cap bagged away from the girl's upper arm in a bizarre way, and the armscye felt too tight.

Now that she was trying on the sweater, the girl realized that the armscye was oddly high and snug around her arm.  She tried on the original, and realized that it was, too.  The girl knew she would have to re-do the sleeve caps, but now she considered doing the armscyes over again too.  Even if she would have to take out the edging to get to it.  But the girl knew the original fit, and never had an issue with the sleeve join in the original, so she decided to take the path of least resistance and just re-do the sleeve caps.

With much cursing, the girl measured and re-knit the sleeve caps two more times before they were finished.  But eventually, they were, and they got blocked and installed in the sweater.  The girl tried sewing them in before blocking to save time, and she already knew that they would work.  But it was still exciting, and thrilling, when the sweater was finally finished and seamed.  Worried that the armscye had originally felt too tight, the girl seamed loosely this last time, and had no trouble with the finished seam.  All was well.

And then the girl tried on the sweater.  It looked good, and it fit well.  But it was itchy.  The yarn had never felt anything but soft when the girl was working with it, softer, even, than a lot of others.  "You can't have everything," the girl sighed, and she resolved to wear it with a long sleeve tee underneath.  Or perhaps this could be the sweater to help her get over her problems with itchiness.  She had always intended to make a second, and the girl resolved that the second would be softer, and lighter.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Vivian 2 and Elijah

The zipper install on Vivian 2 didn't take quite so long as I thought it would.  LA's heat wave abated, and I forced myself to really buckle down and work on it.  After a few days of diligent work, the zipper was in, with a layer of grosgrain over it.  It was cool enough that I wore it yesterday, and though I had some problems with itchiness during the first fittings, it felt great.  I've mentioned my problem with itchiness in the past on this blog, and though I've gotten a little better with age, it's no coincidence that the itchiest things in my wardrobe get worn the least.  I was discouraged when I first felt itchiness during the knitting process, but I'm happy to report that I wore it all day yesterday with no complaints.  I suspect the blocking helped.

Of course, you can't see the zipper and grosgrain very well in the photo, but we can chalk that up to my armshot skills.  Trust me, they are there.

I can also report definitively on the mods.  I love the added length in the body.  I really hate when bits of skin pop out between the top of a skirt or pair of pants and the bottom of a top, and as a result, I generally like my tops on the long side.  Even halfway down my butt is better than exposing muffin tops.  The first Vivian was a good length, but not great.  I often found myself tugging at the bottom hem to make it lower, and I reminded myself of that as I slogged through that extra repeat on Vivian 2.  I also like the ultra-fitted sleeves on Vivian, and I think they're quite flattering.  But I think they're impractical if I want to wear an extra layer, and jewelry and watches become problematic.  The same goes for the length.  Mid-palm is great for the cozy factor, but they get in the way more often than not.  I will, however, report that the modified length is a bit odd.  They are a little short of the wrist, and fall maybe a half inch or so above it.  If I did it again, I'd make the sleeves about an inch longer.  And though I made a lot of modifications to enlarge the hood on the first, I made more on this one.  This hood looks relatively good, although I almost never pull the hood up, so it's really just decoration.  But good decoration.

Back to the backlog.  I mentioned before that I didn't knit very much in the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2010.  Thinking back, I don't really know why, and I suppose I was trying to minimize my yarn purchases and concentrate on school.  I did, however, make Elijah.  At the time, I thought knitting stuffies would be a good way to get my hands in a new yarn and get a feel for it without committing to something big.  I was living in Tokyo at the time, and I misunderstood the yarn label and brought home fingering, or even laceweight instead of DK.  I think I even tricked my eyes into thinking it was DK.  I had had enough of lace after the summer of 2009, and with the yarn I had bought, a shawl's worth would cost more than I wanted to spend.  And I hadn't found a good new DK-weight yarn.  Still, I had wanted to make Elijah, and it was a fun, easy project, so I went ahead and made it.  It was a good project, and I have a lot of respect for Ysolda for designing it without seams (and for a well-written pattern!).  Not easy with a stuffie.

Finished Elijah, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

Elijah, sitting, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

There is more to come, but it has just come to my attention that some of the backlog has not yet been photographed.  Coming soon: fingering-weight gloves, and another vest for my mom.