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!