Sunday, September 13, 2009

Rose Green

I thought knitting a hat would be a perfect project for me - I have long gaps during my school day (roughly four hours off every day), and, without much homework to occupy me, I have been bored. A hat would be small and portable, with enough detail and shaping to keep my mind and hands busy during my breaks. So the hat my sister commissioned was perfect. I found an egyptian cotton DK-weight yarn in a lovely sagey-olivey green color, and knit through enough increases at home that I could manage the project on magic loop, rather than dpns, while I was at school. But the plan worked too well. I finished the hat in one day.

While I was working on it, it fulfilled everything I wanted from it: there was lace, there were cables, and I could see them develop and grow and blossom, which provided a high level of interest. It kept my hands occupied very effectively, and I thought about it during classes, when I put it down. The yarn felt great in my hands, and knit up into a soft, loose fabric. And it was small enough that it fit nicely into my schoolbag. The biggest problem is that it didn't last.

Rose Green, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

My camera is completely inadequate to capture this color - it's a very vibrant, saturated green.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

My knitting comes in waves,

where I will go through a time where I am constantly knitting, and then I can go a few months without knitting a thing. I have been knitting up a storm lately, so there's a lot to show.

Good news on the Bed Jacket front - my sister loves it. It fits her as if I knit it for her (and thinking about it, the specs are exactly her size) and apparently it looks great on her. I'm far away, so I can't attest to it, but from what I hear, it's a big success.

Since I last posted, I finished Vivian, blocked it and installed a zipper. I've worn it a few times too, and it's great. I have a couple problems with it - it hits a bit lower on the hip than a lot of sweaters, but I would still like it a couple inches lower. Also, I modified the hood to make it bigger, but it's still on the small side. Still, it's exactly what I wanted, and it will replace my old gross sweater easily, which is why I made it.

Finished Vivian, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

Vivian cable/zipper detail, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

Vivian cable detail, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

Vivian satin grosgrain detail, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

I used satin grosgrain ribbon for the zipper backing. It's probably my favorite detail of the whole sweater. It feels great, and it seems like a luxury. Besides, it hides the ugly backstitch I used to put in the zipper.

Vivian Back, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

I mentioned a self-designed bell-sleeved shrug ages ago. This was a project I started to keep myself busy while I was taking the bus to and from a summer job. Which is why I made a bell-sleeved shrug: the stockinette made it easy and mindless, but the design aspect allowed me some interest, besides that I wasn't thrilled with bell-sleeved shrug patterns I had seen online. I used Lion Brand Microspun in black, which is a nice yarn - a little splitty and I've heard it's pilly (haven't encountered that yet) with US2 needles. It was pretty straightforward - about a half-inch of hem at the cuff, bell sleeve decreases to the elbow, three-stitch i-cord borders on the flat part across the back. I knit both sleeves at the same time, starting at the cuff, to be sure I made them the same. I stopped somewhere a little past half done long ago, and picked it up again a few months ago. I finished it, took it to my mom's to block it, and then it disappeared. I discovered it under my bed a few weeks ago, and will likely block it soon.

Invented bell-sleeved shrug, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

Bell sleeve detail, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

Bell sleeve hem detail, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

I mentioned a new Blaze-inspired sweater recently. I have dropped again out of ennui (it appears to be the fate of this sweater to be knit in short, impatient bursts). But I bring you pictures!

From first seeing Convertible, I liked the design. The idea makes a lot of sense - a wrap that can become a shrug, or a poncho, or... lots of things. And the buttons and buttonholes create a shawl pin of a sort as well. But I didn't want to use lace, mostly because I didn't want to have wind cut through it, and I wanted something practical, above all else (and warm!). I played with a lot of cable patterns and stitch patterns, but nothing grabbed me.

I recently moved to Tokyo for school, and I went looking for yarn for a potential Rogue. I was wandering around a yarn shop here, and I found very few heavy weight yarns. Most of what I found was sport, dk or lighter. And I didn't find much synthetic, if any. I feel like there might be a commentary there on Japanese knitters vs. American knitters. At least, I can say that knitting isn't a fad here the way it is in the states, and you certainly don't see anything like Fun Fur or Speed Stix. I hate Speed Stix. (If you're going to knit, it will take a long time. That's because it's knitting. Speed Stix are copping out. And bringing people to knitting that probably shouldn't be knitting in the first place. Gah.)

I picked up a ball of yarn that seemed promising, among the heavier yarns I saw, which is Diakeito's Dia Tasmanian Merino. It's a lovely yarn, and I subsequently fell in love (and began dreaming about knitting everything with it), but it's sport weight - too light for Rogue. I still intend to knit Rogue someday, but it's on hold until I find the right yarn. But Tasmanian Merino...

I have a big problem with itchy wools, which is basically that I don't wear anything with any itch. I have thought I might, and I have bought things that are itchy. But when I'm getting dressed in the morning, I look at the itchy thing, and I think, "But it's itchy!" and I reach for something softer. This is a big reason why I don't knit with wool very much, and why I'm very picky about my wools. If I'm going to invest the time and energy (and money! Knitting is expensive!!) into knitting something, damn sure I'm going to wear it. A lot. Which is why Tasmanian Merino is a dream. It's 100% merino, and it's just about the softest yarn I've worked with. Well, the yarn I used for Vivian is maybe a little softer, but the point is, Tasmanian Merino is softer than some synthetics and cottons I've used. Also, it knits up really nicely, with a great drape and feel. If Diakeito made the same yarn in a worsted weight, I probably would use their yarn for literally everything.

Anyway, there I was, with a soulmate of a yarn that was unsuitable for Rogue. So I decided to make a Convertible out of it. I used stockinette (to show off the yarn to the best effect) with a four-stitch garter border, and buttonholes every two inches or so. I made it on the big side: twenty inches wide by about fifty-four long. I wanted the sleeves to fall about mid-palm when it's a shrug, and they actually ended up a little longer than that. I'm considering ripping it and making it a little shorter. On the "cuff" ends, I put a few rows of garter, with buttonholes as well. I don't really know what I would use those buttonholes for, but I figure they will probably come in handy. I blocked it, and haven't gone button shopping yet, so it hasn't gotten any wear yet. Also, I probably should have done garter borders bigger than four stitches - even now that it's blocked, it curls at the sides. It was a blur of a project - about a week from cast on to blocking.

Convertible-inspired wrap, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

I folded it in half for the picture, mostly because it's so massive. But you get the idea.

Convertible buttonhole detail, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

This is what the color looks like in person.

Convertible Stockinette detail, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

And the stockinette. Miles and miles of it...

Inspired by the thrill of discovering Tasmanian Merino, I decided to make Labyrinth with it. I used a red wine colored-burgundy yarn, which my camera doesn't seem up to the task of representing. I used dark charcoal for the contrast color, but I'm not thrilled with the way it looks, so I will probably do the contrast parts in black, and use the charcoal to make Elijah. This project is really racing by - I knit the part in the picture in two days, and I am now about halfway through the hip increases.

Labyrinth in progress, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

Labyrinth waist shaping detail, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

Labyrinth neckline detail, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

As I raved about Tasmanian Merino, I am thrilled at the prospect of having a whole sweater made out of it.

I picked up a couple balls of yarn to play with to knit a toy. Itchiness research. Besides, I figured if it ended up being itchy, I'd still have a stuffie at the end. I recently started watching Invader Zim, and I love Gir, so TChemGrrl's pattern was an obvious choice. I knit his head in an evening or two, and his body was two more evenings. Talk about instant-gratification knitting.

Gir in progress, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

Gir intarsia detail, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

Gir antenna detail, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

Gir arm detail, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

Gir leg detail, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

He has since been stuffed, and I still need to knit his eyes and sew the neck seam. (And the yarn? Too itchy. Although, the blue is a yarn I found here in Tokyo, and it might work out.)

I mentioned a Sahara out of that Gap duster I used to harvest yarn. I haven't sewn the seams at the neckline yet, but I do have pictures.

Sahara waist shaping detail, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

And finally, I decided to do something with the blue from Gir. I will have most of a ball to play with, and I'm hoping that's enough to make a Shedir. I am now quite a bit farther than in the picture - about a repeat or so of cables past the bottom ribbing, but I haven't taken a picture that recently.

Shedir in progress, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

And... done! We're all caught up!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Well you'd never believe it just by reading this blog,

but I have actually been doing lots of knitting. (Lots!!) I made the Bed Jacket I mentioned before, and when I had the border sewn on, it didn't fit. The two border pieces barely touched, let alone wrapped around me. The way the sizing is done, it jumps from a 34" bust to a 39. I'm a 36, and I didn't want it to be baggy, so I went with the 34. Thinking back, that was a pretty stupid move, since a wrap sweater should be big so it wraps. Sigh. Anyway, it is currently looking for a home - my sister or her friends might want it. I hope they do, because if not, I don't know who it could go to.

I mentioned a Sahara way back a couple years ago, when I was first making the white one. This yarn was harvested from an old Gap duster, and originally intended to make Holly, from MagKnits-that-was, but I got bored with the project and decided to make a Sahara. I found out right about the time I was nearing the armholes that my gauge was too big, so I set it aside and made it in white. I came back to it a few months later in the right gauge, but I was a little overzealous with the waist shaping, and it didn't fit. And then I rescued it just a few weeks ago, re-did the whole waist shaping area, and now all it needs is the seams around the neckline. I'm terrible with photographing my knits, but there will be pictures soon.

There was also a project about a year ago. I like my modified Blaze a lot, and wear it pretty frequently, but I wanted to revisit the pattern and add some more mods. I used Red Heart Soft in this nice teal color, and made it sit lower on my hips and included waist shaping. (I'm not a fan of Red Heart, mostly because I think their Super Saver yarn is crappy, but I think Soft really redeems them. It's acrylic, but it's soft, and knits up really nicely. Plus it comes in great colors.) I stopped somewhere around the armholes, mostly out of ennui, but I also rescued this in the past month or so. I decided to make the sleeves bell out, with that same cable from my first Blaze, and make them full-length to make it a bit more versatile. I got from about the cuff to the elbow on a sleeve before getting tired of it and moving on.

And then, because the Bed Jacket was such a disappointment, I started making Vivian. I am using Berocco Comfort Chunky in a chocolatey brown color, and I am really loving this yarn. It's an acrylic-nylon blend that's just a little splitty (more so if you knit and rip and re-knit) and it feels like a dream, all buttery soft and perfect. Just knitting it makes my hands feel happy. It's a great feeling. So far, I've got the whole thing done, and I'm a couple inches into working the hood. This project has really breezed by, and has totally made up for the sadness that the Bed Jacket didn't work out.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

So I buckled down and turned some UFOs into FOs.

Hooray! First was my mom's vest. I had stopped because the way I understood the pattern, the armholes were more like slits, but the pattern (and reality) is that they're more like gaps. When that was clear, I raced through the last of it and blocked it, to my mom's appreciation. Apparently she gets compliments whenever she wears it. I'll coordinate with her soon for some pics.

Then, I finished Butterfly. I had stopped because I was afraid the straps would stretch when on, and didn't know how long to knit them. I ended up knitting them as if they would stretch, and then blocked them stretched. So they're the right length, and they will stay that way.

Unblocked Butterfly, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

Pattern Detail, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

Hem Detail, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

This last photo is closest to the actual color.

While I was waiting to figure out what to do with the straps, I began knitting the camisole version of Butterfly. I had bought three skeins of yarn for the dress, afraid of running out, and the dress took a little less than two. One skein of laceweight isn't enough for much, so I decided to make a camisole, which would make a more versatile, casual version of the design. I ended up using that one skein, plus a little bit of the yarn left over from the dress. Perfect.

Butterfly Tank, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

I began knitting the camisole on a car trip to San Francisco, where I spent last Christmas with my family. My sister liked the design, so I had her pick a color (I already had the color card for KnitPicks Shadow, which I used for mine) and got to work on hers (she wanted a dress with the same iridescent beads from mine). I raced through hers, and spent a frenzied couple of weeks finishing it (and the trim and straps from my dress and camisole) and then blocking all three. I was up until three one night, but it was great to have them all finished and blocked. There will be blocked pictures (and modeled pictures) someday in the near future.

Finished Butterfly, Unblocked, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

Unblocked Pattern Detail, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

Unblocked Hem Detail, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

Yarn Plus Beads, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

Like the first Butterfly, the second two were knit in the round, with hem frills done in one long strip. I picked up stitches around the top and did the trim and straps before blocking (I didn't have to block before seaming - no seams - and I wanted to block everything). For my sister's, I left the middle stitches at the top live, and simply put them on the needle when I needed to pick up stitches for the trim. This was to save time and effort, but it also turns out that the cast-off edge pulls at the lace a little, and messes with the top of the garment. So leaving the top stitches live was the best option.

After all of that, I decided to make something different. I have knit birthday presents for myself in the past, but often forgot to, or didn't even realize how the timing was working out in terms of my birthday until I was most of the way through the knitting. This year, the timing's right to have a FO in time for my birthday (April 19) and I have a pattern, and the time! The pattern is from a book I bought about a year ago - Knitting Lingerie Style by Joan McGowan-Michael. It's a great book, and has some lovely designs. It's one of few pattern books I've found that I would knit more than one thing in it (for this book, make that four or five!), which is why I bought it in the first place.

I really bought the book for the Bed Jacket design, though, which I love. So I bought the recommended yarn - Cascade Sierra - in a great chocolate brown color, and cast on about a week ago. I did the body and sleeves last weekend, and have done the front trim over the week. I blocked the body and sleeves over the past couple days, to spread out the finishing and seaming.

I'm making it with a few modifications - so far, the body was knit in the round to the armholes, and the shoulders were done with short rows and a three-needle bind off. The sleeves were knit in the round, up to the split for the sleeve cap. For the trim, I played around with knitting it all in one piece, but ended up knitting the first part, then picking up stitches along the cast on edge for the second piece. When it's finished, I'll use a three needle bind off, rather than having to seam. That was confusing. Anyway, this will make it much simpler and easier - big pluses for me.