Saturday, February 28, 2009

Stitches West 2009

I went to a YARN convention yesterday with B1. It was SOOOOOOOO exciting. There was literally an entire convention center filled with yarn, books, needles, and knitters. It was like a little slice of heaven here on earth.

Frankly, my ability to talk non-knitters into going to these sorts of things astounds me. (Since, technically, I talked 2 into going. Berkeley was originally going to go with me, but then she ended up having meetings she couldn't get out of.)

B1 was suitably impressed, but confided to me that I don't exactly look "knitterish"...there were some interesting folks out and about that day. In fact, after looking at one particularly enthusiastic knitter, B1 told me that if she ever caught me dressing that way she would either disown me as a friend or lock me up somewhere. I appreciated the sentiment.

Most importantly: I completely behaved myself. I bought the yarn for B1's birthday beret...which technically doesn't count as a purchase since I have had that yarn bought and paid for mentally since her birthday in December. I also shopped for buttons for a cardigan I am working on, but didn't find any I liked.

The only other thing that I bought was a pattern, Silken Scabbard by Stitch Divas. (...and believe me this was tough since everything was so pretty, and soft, and tempting...) We walked around a corner, and I saw this sweater on a mannequin and my jaw literally dropped. I was even more excited when I looked at the pattern and saw it was a top-down, in the round, seamless construction. While the sample was knit in cashmere (mmmm...cashmere), and mine will not be for financial reasons, I still think whatever silk/wool blend I choose will make for a sumptious and gorgeous garment. I just have to finish several other things before I start, or even buy yarn, for this one.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Scarf That Went With Everything!

I needed to knit something for myself. I know that this sounds horribly selfish, but every now and then it's true.

I spend so much time knitting for other people, and gladly doing so, that sometimes I neglect my own warmth needs. (The exception here is socks. With very few exceptions, socks are ALWAYS for me.) Still, it is like the old saying about the cobbler's children going barefoot. I get cold, and have nothing with which to wrap my neck. At this statement I fully expect everyone I know who has seen the bin-o-scarves to burst into uncontrolled laughter...the thing is that the bin has a lot of scarves, but they are all very outfit specific. I don't have just a good go with everything scarf.

Or at least I didn't...until now.

I was reading "The Blog" back in November and, since the Yarn Harlot is essentially the mother ship/inspiration for all knitting bloggers/She-Who-Is-Without-Equal/my knitting idol, fell in love with the scarf she was making. Granted, she called it a fad from a year ago, but I must have had my head in the proverbial sand when it was going around (or just been totally caught up with moving to CA).

I went to my LYS and picked up some Noro.

I started the scarf.(Pattern is available here. Misplaced the ball bands, so am not 100% sure, but I think I used #08 and #284.)

Other projects got in the way, but I continued to work on the scarf. It was fun, not knowing what color was going to pop up next. I only had to break the yarn once due to the stripes bleeding together too much.

It was even the project I was working on at New Years.

Well, I finally finished it. And just in time, too, for my trip to Washington DC. I wore it with pride all day on Saturday, and have worn it several times since I got back. It is amazing. It literally goes with EVERYTHING I own. It has every color in it, and can work with the brown neutrals or the grey neutrals. It can look dressy enough with a sweater for church on Sunday morning, and at the same time is casualy enough to go with jeans and sneakers for walking around. I LOVE IT. I am thinking of making a beanie out of the left overs.

In my head I have already knit several more of these lovely things in my head, including a very masculine one for one of the guys in my family. (Now I just have to get through a few more stash projects so I can justify purchasing the yarn for said scarves. They are addictive!)

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Scarf that Knit Itself

Per the requests mentioned in a previous post, I was needing to make a scarf for the Matador's birthday last Sunday.(I had just finished Broseph's scarf, and frankly was not in the mood to knit any scarf, for any guy, any time soon...still what has to be done, has to be done.)

The Matador had requested a black scarf. He is a big guy (read as tall, not wide), and so would need a relatively long scarf. Also, being about to turn 19, and very guy-ish, he was only going to be satisfied with a plain boring vanilla scarf. Nothing fancy, no color work, no detailing. What was stretching before me was essentially miles and miles of colorless and mind-numbingly boring knitting.

Berkeley went with me to Knit This, Purl That...although how I am able to convince non-knitters to go with me to LYS's is beyond me. I had decided that I wanted to whip this thing out as quickly as possible, and that meant one thing: CHUNKY YARN. (However, I had to bear in mind that if it was too chunky it might border on the girly, and therefore be unacceptable.) After looking at literally every skein of yarn in the shop, I decided on Brown Sheep's Burly Spun in Dark Charcoal. It was chunky, but it was single ply, which seemed to up the masculine factor. It also had a wickedly cool name...I mean, what guy doesn't want to be "burly"? Finally, by doing a dark charcoal instead of a black, the scarf would be slightly more interesting.

I knit it up on size 13 needles in a 1X1 rib. (That way it wouldn't roll, but would be a little slicker than a straight garter stitch scarf.) It took me, I kid you not, 2 movies and a tv show to finish. I worked on it during the Wednesday teen movie at the library, and while watching another movie with Blondie at home, and one episode of Biggest Loser. This scarf literally knit itself. (A huge relief to have a project that actually didn't fight me!)

I gave it to Matador at his birthday party at Round Table Pizza after evening services. He immediately put it on, and had a picture taken in it. He also wore it the rest of the night. (The next morning, he had made the scarf picture his new profile photo on facebook...after carefully editing me out of it!) He even sent word to me later in the week that he had worn the scarf every day since he received it.

I love it when projects actually turn out. I love burly spun wool, it was an absolute joy to work with. And most of all, I love it when people enjoy the hand knits I give them.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Because Her Foot Was Cold

I have a rule: I only make socks for myself. Everyone else's feet are too big.

The only time I broke this rule was when I gave a pair of socks to Ontie for reaching her Weight Watcher's goal. (Also, we have the same size feet, so it wasn't any added work.)

However, I recently broke the rule again for Blondie, whose feet are at least 3 sizes larger than mine. Why? Simple. Her foot was cold.

I was knitting on the sectional in our family room (surprise surprise), while Blondie played Guitar Hero barefoot. I was finishing up the Iris socks. (Plain vanilla sock pattern: 2X rib with a short row heel.) I had completed one of the socks, and had it sitting on the back of the couch for comparison with the mostly done sock. (I always size the first sock off of my actual foot, and then size the second one off of the first.) Blondie asked what I was working on. I told her a sock, and held up the in progress needles. She looked at it quizzically. (Which wasn't surprising since a sock in progress on two circulars IS pretty confusing to non-knitters.) I then tossed the finished sock to her so that she could see the end result. She was impressed, and then promptly pulled it on her foot.

I was shocked. It fit! It seems that though Blondie's feet are WAY longer than mine, they are also incredibly narrow. I have really short feet, but they are incredibly wide. So, the total area of our feet is identical, just the dimensions are different. She asked if she could leave it on, because her foot was cold. I said sure. (She looked adorable with one sock on and one sock off, and even at one point switched it to the other foot.)

When I finished the second sock, I looked at the pair. Blondie's feet, being longer than mine, had changed the shape of the original sock. I thought about it, remembered how much she had liked the sock, reminded myself that I hadn't exactly been "feeling" the yarn in the first place and had nothing that matched it....and caved.

Iris socks now live upstairs with Blondie. She was grateful...and since I have spent many an evening in bed with her watching tv, I was glad to finally have a barrier between myself and her FREEZING feet.

Monday, February 9, 2009

I've Created a Monster

Jester has been bugging me about making her a scarf to match her birthday beret. That is fine, I did promise I would try to get to it. The thing is, that I have a lot of other things on my plate that have to take priority.

She has expressed a desire, repeatedly, to learn to knit. She even said she would come to the knitting program at the library. (Frankly, that is the only reason why I have put off teaching her in the first place. Normally the minute someone asks to learn, I am whipping out needles and yarn and foisting it upon them.) However, she is getting impatient, and said if I taught her now she would still come to the program. (I admit it, I am worried no one will come.)

Tuesday was the American Idol night at Preacher and Psych's house, and Jester was going to be there. In a rare moment of brilliance I grabbed the rest of her beret yarn and some size 13 needles. She wants a scarf to match her beret? Then fine, she can make it herself.

Here is the amazing thing: Jester has taken to knitting faster and better than anyone I have ever taught with the possible exception of NorCalGal. While her tension and stitch quality are not yet quite where NorCalGal's were after one night, she has an added disadvantage. Jester is a leftie! She didn't tell me before I started teaching her, so she learned right handed knitting. (I try to have lefties face me when I teach them and mirror my motions, rather than sit next to me and mimic them.) So, the fact that she is this good using the wrong hand boggles the mind.

She finished the scarf by Thursday or Friday, and brought it to services today. I was going to show her how to cast off, but she had left the working needle at home. I ended up casting off for her, in the church parking lot, using the needle the scarf was on and a BIC ball point pen. She is already planning on buying more yarn to make another scarf and a beanie for her boyfriend.

What have I done?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Scarf that didn't WANT to be Knit

I went to Target a WHILE ago with Broseph and Matador. (And by a while ago I mean a couple weeks before Halloween!) I needed to get some key components for my NCIS Abby costume, namely goth boots. Before we left, the three of us wandered over to the men's accessories section...where all of the hats were. While trying them on joking around, Broseph picked up a very suave brown fedora with a tan and orange band. It looked amazing on him. Matador and I, with some help from a Target employee who wandered by, convinced him that he had to buy it. He could wear it when he does concerts. My wheedling took the form of a promise to knit him a scarf to match the hat.

When I got home I promptly designed the "Fretwork" scarf, which had a slipstitch detail loosely based on a guitar neck. I even found two balls of Debbie Bliss yarn in chocolate brown in the stash. I cast on immediately.

I knit that scarf in my down time for several weeks, even getting so far as to join the second ball to the first. When I was 3/4 done I realized that I had cast on WAY too wide and that I was going to be stuck with a weenie little short scarf. (As she puts it in her candleflame scarf pattern...I was going to have a highwater scarf.) This was unacceptable.

The problems were:
  • I should have realized the scarf was too wide when I went to join the second ball...duh, that was the halfway point!
  • I had used stash yarn and lost the ball bands so there was no way to get additional yarn.
  • I was using smallish needles for a scarf, so it was not a fast project to knit.
  • The yarn was a solid color, so there were no little color surprises to keep me intrigued.
  • The pattern, while pretty, could not be brainlessly knit during movies or tv shows when the lack of color variation wouldn't have mattered, because I had to actually look at every row I knit.
But, since I love Broseph, I unravelled the ENTIRE scarf and recast it on. Now I just had to go through the whole painful process again. So, I reacted in the same way I always react. I procrastinated. I knit A LOT of other things before picking this one up again. In fact, it was only guilt that finally drove me to force myself to knit it again.

To add insult to injury, the last 1/3 of the yarn was knotted into a riotous bundle of nastiness. I spent almost 2 hours untangling it and rolling what was left into a neat little ball...which then, of course, rolled all over the floor as I finished the scarf. (I seriously need to learn how to hand wind center pull balls.)

The end result, I must admit, did make the whole painful process worthwhile. I finished the scarf right before class started at Preacher and Psych's house last night. I wove the ends in and tossed it across the living room to Broseph. The wonderful guy wore the scarf for the duration of class and the rest of the evening. I think he really did appreciate it. He wanted to change before I took a picture... but I just wanted the thing photographed, blogged about, and DONE WITH!!!

Now...I just have to convince him to buy a camel corduroy blazer to wear in concert with Fretwork and the Fedora!