Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Continuing through the backlog,

we have arrived at July and August, 2009.  I had a month off between semesters, and I spent almost this entire time with needles in my hands.  These projects traveled with me on the subway to and from school, and between my new apartment and the dorms, when I moved.  I called this month the Summer of Lace, because I knit one lace shawl and two scarves with two skeins of cobweb weight in a little less than a month.  First was Autumn Arbor, and the whole reason I started knitting lace to begin with.  From my limited understanding of japanese, I bought a skein of what I thought was cotton lace weight.  When I got it on my needles, it was more like cobweb, so I worked with it held double.  There's not much to say about this project, mostly because it raced by.  The lace was easy to memorize, which helped considering how much it traveled with me.

Finished Autumn Arbor, Blocking, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

End detail, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

Pattern detail, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

Graft detail, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

I had to buy another skein to finish Autumn Arbor, and after I finished it, I had more yarn left, more than enough to make Fernfrost.  So, I cast on and again knit this with yarn held double.  Fernfrost didn't travel with me quite as much as Autumn Arbor did, mostly because I had moved in by then and my time off from school had already begun.  Still, it was an easy, enjoyable knit, and it kept my hands busy.

Fernfrost in progress, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

Fernfrost Unblocked Detail, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

And after Fernfrost, I guesstimated that there was enough for yet one more lace scarf, so I cast on for Elm Row.  This, too raced by, and there's little to report.

Summer of lace, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

I love knitting lace, and these projects were the highlight of my school vacation.  I enjoyed watching how each stitch fit into the pattern, and watching the motifs grow and develop under my needle tips.

However, this was not the end for my summer of knitting.  I liked Vivian, and I was happy with the finished sweater, and I thought my wardrobe could use another.  I cast on for a new Vivian in white, even though a bulky-weight sweater isn't the smartest summer knitting, and I raced through it.  Though the first Vivian was made exactly as the pattern specified, with a few modifications for a bigger hood, I made a lot of changes for the second.  I did an extra repeat of the pattern at the bottom for added length, and knit the sleeves all one width - the same as at the bicep - to make a more jacket-like sleeve.  I cut out a repeat of length in the sleeves to hit at the wrist, instead of mid-palm.  I believe the hood also got some extensive modifications to make it bigger.  It was a fun, quick knit, especially because I had already made one.  I finished the knitting before school started again, and stopped when I got to the finishing stage.  I thought, "Meh, I'll do it later," and didn't get to the finishing stage until a year later.

Vivian number two blocking, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

A year later, I pulled Vivian out of the back of my closet, and I discovered some distressing news.  First, there was a yellowish stain about the size of a half-dollar on the left front.  Looking at the stain, I remembered making pancakes one day while I was still knitting it, and there was a mishap involving a spill.  How I managed to not clean it is still a mystery to me.  The project still needed blocking, so I used its soak and wash time to work on the stain.  It was a stressful few minutes, but the stain came out, and now, it looks like it was never there.

But the hits kept coming.  Then, I discovered a hole, about the size of the tip of my pinky.

Vivian 2: oops., originally uploaded by rubychan4.

A year later, the fuzzy memories came back.  I was using acrylic/merino blend, and I hoped very much that the wool in the yarn would hold up to a spit splice, and save me having to weave in ends.  I was very stubborn on this point, and attempted my felted join, even though it didn't seem to be holding together.  It didn't hold together, and it created a hole in the knitted fabric.  I had to give up, and adopt a more conventional join for the rest of the project.  But the hole remained.  So I very carefully wove a new piece of yarn through the hole, and now, it is invisible (at least, to everyone but me).

Vivian 2: fixed!, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

Next came the zipper install.  I spent a very long time on this stage with the first Vivian, and this was no different.  Hand-sewing anything makes me nervous, because it just seems so flimsy, especially when compared with something like machine-sewing.  But I didn't have a sewing machine, and I wanted to install the zipper by hand, anyway, so I used lots of teensy stitches, and I also relied on the fact that I would later add grosgrain, and with it, an extra layer of stitching.

Vivian 2: zipper install, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

I finished one side of the zipper and began sewing the grosgrain on before I stopped.  It was very hard to be patient with all those tiny, meticulous stitches, and there were more interesting things to catch my attention.  I still intend to go back to it and finish the zipper, but it will have to wait until it's cool enough that I can stand to have a bulky-weight sweater in my lap long enough to sew it in.

After all this activity, I went through a dry spell with my knitting.  Except Rose Green, I didn't knit anything until December.  So I will leave you for now, dear reader, with the promise of reports of the projects from December to come.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

In the interest of narrowing the gap of backlogged projects,

I thought I could at least report on the status of the projects I mentioned the last time I wrote.

I finished knitting Labyrinth a little over a week after I started, but I let it sit in the back of my closet for a really long time, because I didn't want to spend the time blocking it.  Also, I was living in very small spaces in Tokyo at the time, and I would have had to block it on my bed and sleep on the floor.  I blocked it a year after finishing knitting it.  In the end, I didn't like the way the gray looked against the maroon body color, so I ripped it out and re-did it with black.

Here it is as it was blocking:

Labyrinth - Blocking, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

And here it is hot of the needles:

Finished Labyrinth, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

Gir got stuffed and assembled, and I even worked on his dog suit. Now his dog suit is in the back of a drawer, waiting to be finished.

Finished Gir:

Gir - Finished!, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

and half-finished suit:

Dog suit in progress, empty, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

Dog suit in progress with Gir, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

Dog suit in progress, back, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

Some notes on the suit:
I'm trying to make it with as few seams as possible (so far, none!).  I started at the feet, and worked up, then joined with green yarn and worked up the body.  I left holes for the arms, then picked up stitches and worked the arms from the shoulder down, in black.  For the tail, I simply picked up stitches, and worked a narrowing i-cord: four stitches, down to three.  I'm trying to imitate the way the suit works in the show as best as possible, so I left a slit down the belly of the suit, where I will later install a red zipper.  The head of the suit will work like a hood, with the zipper coming up the neck and across the bottom of the jaw, where it will stop at the snout and the zipper pull will be the "tongue".  I'll probably decorate the zipper pull, too, to make it more tongue-like.  I should also mention that Gir's dimensions in the suit and his dimensions out of the suit are completely different.  For one, his feet are much wider when he's not wearing the suit, and when he is, they narrow down to little points.  Possible in an animated series, but not in life.  I tried my best to compromise between the two images, although I was already limited by the fact that I made Gir without the suit first.  I had a lot of doubts about how big the head should be, because the way the suit is in the show, it wouldn't fit snugly on a real Gir.  I knit and ripped a few times, and I still wasn't confident it would look true to the show, and that's part of why I let the suit sit in my closet for so long.

The gap-duster Sahara still hasn't been blocked or seamed.  I hope to do that soon (read: someday).  The main reason why I haven't touched it is because I got a little over-zealous with the waist shaping, and I hope that I can fix that with blocking, and I don't want to rip and knit it over again.  Then again, if I block it and it's still too small, I'll be upset.  Either way, I'm tired of having it in my UFO pile, so I'll try one or the other soon.

Shedir also got finished within a few days, maybe a week.  When I got to the finishing stage, I thought of pulling out my tapestry needle and weaving in ends, and thought, "meh I'll do it later."  I only just finished it last night, a full year later.  I have no excuses.  Here it is, almost finished, in the state I left it for over a year:

Finished Shedir, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

And here it is now, with the ends woven in.

Shedir, top view, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

The gray yarn I originally intended for the contrast detail on Labyrinth went to good use, too.  I think I originally thought of using it to make Elijah, but considering it's soft, good wool, I decided to use it for something that goes against the skin.  I had two balls of DK weight yarn, so it seemed like a good idea to use it to make socks.  I made Spindle socks with them:

Spindle sock side view, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

The color is just about true to life in the first photo.

Finished Spindle Sox, originally uploaded by rubychan4.

There's not much to report about these socks, really.  I made them in about four days, so they were barely a blip on my radar.  However, to their credit, they kept my hands busy (always a plus) and I enjoyed watching them grow.  They fit well, and they're soft and warm, so overall a good and satisfying knit.  I would make them again, but I'm not particularly interested in making socks, and I usually prefer to make sweaters.

Coming up soon: I had what I called the summer of lace summer a year ago.  This was when I had a month off in August between semesters, and I used that time to make one shawl and two scarves.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Additional Pictures

Well, contrary to what this blog would lead you to believe, I have been knitting.  I went through a long dry spell, but there are still a lot of projects that I have been completely silent about for no other reason than that even I surprise myself with my own ability to procrastinate.  It appears that many of my posts include an apology for my long silences, and this will follow the norm.  Apologies, dear reader.  I hope to be better in the future, but knowing me, it could really go either way.

There will be more posts in the future about what has been on my needles in the last year, but until I take pictures (and take stock of everything), they will have to wait.  For now, I will leave you with a few pictures of Rose Green that I took a year ago and never posted.

And more good news: when I originally took a picture of this hat, my camera was unequal to the task of reproducing the color.  The first of these two is much closer, although it's more saturated in life.