Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sweater Girls

It was a misty, moisty morning yesterday.

I decided it called for a handknit sweater.

Apparently, Miss-A thought it did as well!

I am in Martinelli, and she is in February Lady.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Spoken For

I was working at an after hours event at the library Friday night. Ya-Ya, Boss Lady, and I found ourselves with some down time. We were all sitting in the back taking our breaks and eating. Naturally, I pulled out some knitting. I happened to have the fatigue (Fort)Knox beanie in my purse.

Ya-Ya, my enthusiastic co-worker, has been on a roll since the Get Knittin' program she came to. She has made several afghans, more purses, and recently started in-the-round hat projects. She was intrigued by the crossed stitches/faux cables I was doing. I demonstrated how to do them, and told her I would write up the pattern for her. (I have...I will post it on Wednesday or Thursday...)

While we were engrossed in our knit-chit-chat, Boss Lady looked over. She really liked the color of the (Fort) Knox beanie. I pulled out my i-phone and showed her the blog entry with Perky's picture so she could see what the finished product would look like. Then I went back to my knitting, and she went back to her cheeseburger. A few minutes passed. Boss Lady commented again on how much she liked the beanie. I laughed and said I had been planning on selling it on my Etsy Site (coming soon...I promise!). I told her what I had charged Perky for her version, and said if she wanted it she could have it.

The break ended. We went back to work. I didn't think anymore about it.

I went in to work at the Other Branch this morning. It was Boss Lady's day up there as well. I popped my head into her office to say hello, and let her know I was there to cover lapsit storytime. She asked if I had finished the beanie yet. I said, yes. She said, great. Bring it to work tomorrow, and I will bring you the money.

Go Figure! I guess she was serious about buying it.

So there goes another one of my meant-to-be-etsy items...

...but never fear, I cast on a replacement on my lunch break!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

What do Berets and Breasts Have in Common?

I finished the Avignon beret last night...sort of.

I was watching Project Runway again last week, and inspiration hit. So rather than work on the plethora of started or planned projects I have piling up, I decided to freelance through my stash!

Unfortunately, once I had cast off, I noticed that the beret had developed a bit of...well...a nipple. Where the ribbing joined in the decreases, a lovely little peak had formed. Not exactly an attractive feature in a hat.

Frustrated, I set it aside. I have often found it helpful to sleep on this sort of problem rather than immediately starting to freak out. (Freaking out seems to be my first and natural inclination! Dreaming Me came up with two solutions:
  • frog it back to where the bulge begins and tinker with the decreases
  • try to block it out

Blocking wins. Blocking is, ostensibly, an easier solution. I tried to use a dinner plate...but that wasn't working, so I switched the beret over to an upside down mixing bowl. Now I am waiting for it to dry. If this doesn't work, we'll move on to the more work intensive and obnoxious solution of frogging. Ugh.

(On the plus side, I used up the rest of the yarn from Twilight's birthday beret. I feel a little twinge of satisfaction every time I use stash yarn instead of making a purchase. Its like my own personal Knitters' DARE program...just say no to non-essential yarn shopping!)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Veritable Factory

I am on a roll!

I would say I wam becoming a veritable handknit factory...except for the fact that I am the maybe a handknit sweat shop is actually more accurate...

On my day off yesterday I completed:

Cable Car Beret
2 Coffee Cup Cozies

And cast on/started designing:

Avignon Beret

I also made significant progress on:

Fatigue Green Knox Beanie
Les Tuileries
Gotham Socks
Tilney Sweater

(Pictures to follow as they are was my day in a pony...I was not going to model anything...)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bad Guesstimator

Apparently I am VERY bad about guesstimating head sizes.

I took the on-the-fly Nordic style beanie to Brother's house with me. The one I was sure would be way too big for Nephew...and while it is a little roomy, it actually fit him!

So, guess who has yet another hat from his Auntie?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Homeless No More

You may recall that I knit myself a lovely sweater last spring using the February Lady pattern.

I loved it.

I loved the color.

I loved the buttons.

I loved the stitch pattern.

...I did not love the fit.

The transition between the garter stitch yoke and the gull lace peplum skirt hit me in exactly the wrong place. I tried to ignore it. I tried to wear it anyway. I loved it so.

Alas, it was not meant to be.

I tried to give the sweater to Mom when she visited me a month or so ago. It fit her better than it fit me, but wasn't exactly her style aesthetic. She was honest. Said it was lovely. But she probably wouldn't wear it.

I sent it to WA with her for Aunt #2 to try, since she wore that style of sweater. She had the same fit problem I had, so Mom brought it back down last week.

I was determined that the sweater should find a home.

Enter Miss-A. Miss-A has a couple of sweaters that are similar in style to the February Lady. She looks lovely in lilacs and lavenders. She appreciates the effort and time involved in hand knitting. AND, we are built differently. It was the ideal solution. I would give the sweater to Miss-A!

There was only one tiny problem. I knit the February Lady out of Cascade 220 wool. Miss-A is allergic to wool.

I bemoaned the fact that she had such an unfortunate allergy. She asked which sweater I was referring to. I told her. She said she could make it work. (Since it is a cardigan with a scoop neck, she can wear it over another top and prevent any itchy/rashy reactions!)

I brought it into work. IT FIT HER!!!!!

I think she looks divine!

And the sweater now has a happy and appreciative home!

Friday, March 19, 2010


There is a very nice lady at my church, Perky, who likes to walk in the mornings.

When she walks her ears get cold.

A properly knit cap could solve this issue, so she commissioned me to make one. She wanted, in her words, a "sunshine yellow" toque. (She is married to a Canadian. She says toque, I say, to-mah-to.)

The dilemma here was in the definition of "sunshine yellow". Yellows cover a broad, I asked her to go through her son's crayon box, find a crayon that was the yellow she wanted, and tell me the color name. (I have a gazillion crayola crayons...out of childhood habit, I buy a new box of 64 or 96 every fall...) However, it seems her son's crayons were not Crayolas. She solved this by sending the actual crayon to bible study, care of her husband, the Canadian.

I took the crayon to the yarn shop, and literally passed it in front of every Cascade 220 yellow till I found a perfect match. (It was a good thing I had the crayon, because the color was a little greenier than I had imagined.)

The beanie itself is being called the (Fort) Knox, as in Fort Knox where all the gold is kept. (Partially because the color reminded me of gold bullion...partially because I was serendipitously watching Goldfinger while I knit it.) I carried the "bullion" theme into the stitch pattern by working elongated cables into the ribbing, like little bricks! I am actually very pleased with the design, and think that I will write it up...I can see it looking very manly in a fatigue green...

I delivered the beanie on Sunday. Perky was astonished that I got the beanie finished as quickly as I did. She gladly plopped it on her head, despite having Sunday morning pretty hair, and posed for a picture.

Now when she walks in the morning, people will definitely see her coming! And hopefully her ears will be warm.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Brother Birthday Blarney

An Entry In Three Parts:

I. Today is Brother's birthday. He is THIRTY!!! So, in honor of his aged-ness, I took the day off and drove up to see him, Sis-In-Law, Nephew, and my parents. One interesting thing about Brother's birthday being St. Patrick's Day is that the photos we take always turn out so beautifully...the whole color-coordinated greens thing...

Brother has always been very supportive of, though sometimes bewildered by, my knitting proclivity. He has made some of the more clever comments about the process in general. Also, as an artist, he makes interesting observations about finished projects. He notices things that others don't.

And, no. I did not knit anything for Brother for his birthday. Not that he wouldn't have appreciated something, he will just appreciate what I did get him more.

II. In other birthday news, Gino's birthday was on Monday. Facebook didn't alert me to the fact that his birthday was on Monday until Saturday morning. (Shame on you, Facebook!) This put me in a bit of a bind time-wise. Gino definitely deserved a handknit, yet I had my Master's Portfolio and finals to finish over the weekend. Still...I muscled through...with some frantic morning break knitting, and lunch break ends weaving...and was able to complete an Oakland A's fan color beanie for him. (I was trying to name it, but the only player I know is Jose Canseco...who, as an Angel's fan, I have always referred to as Jose Can-stink-O...) I sent the beanie, his birthday card, and my camera to the other library with Ya-Ya. She delivered the goods and snagged a photo. When I called to sing to him, he seemed very pleased. (...I hope to see him WEARING it at games once the season starts...assuming I get invited after my Can-Stink-O comment!)

III. Also, in honor of St. Patrick's Day, I have decided to only knit in green today! I brought my still unfinished Rivendell sock to Brother's house. I also packed some lovely wool from KnitPicks in a shade called "Pesto" that I plan on using in my next sweater. (I am making "Skinny Empire" out of Custom Knits by the inimitable Wendy Bernard...only my version is called "Tilney." ) And, because you can never have too much knitting, I also packed a green beanie!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Project Knitter

Confession: I am slightly obsessed with Project Runway.

Aside from some of the whack-a-doo challenges, and the amusing interpersonal drama...I find that the show inspires me to be more creative with my knitting.

Last week, as I was was watching episode 7, I decided to multitask and straighten up my stash. While tidying (petting) I came across the little tiny leftover lumps of yarn from Lovely's wrist warmers.

"This is really nice yarn," I thought to myself. "It is a shame there isn't enough of either color to really do anything with."

And then the power of Project Runway took over. It was as though a light bulb had turned on above my head. (I may have even checked for one floating there like a pentecostal tongue of fire.)I could make something if I used both of them together!

And thus, a Scandanavian-esque hat was born. I didn't use a pattern, and actually improvised the stitch pattern as I went. I also used every last stinking inch of the yarn.

There was only one problem. Since there hadn't been much yarn to begin with, the hat ended up being very small. Clearly, it was a child's hat...but for what size of child? I thought it would be too big for Nephew, and it was too small for Spaz and Whiz. So, I carted it to worship this morning and started plunking it on kids' heads till I found one it fit. And even then, it was a little bit small. (Thank you Ark and Fish for being helpful!) So, I figured the hat fit a toddler...a one or two year old. [Update: I took it to Brother's house, and was pleasantly surprised to find it actually did fit Nephew!]

I really like the design, so I'm going to make an adult out of some periwinkle and white llama I also found in the stash.

(Also, I do realize that I am posting on a Monday about a show that airs on Thursday. This is because I don't have regular television, and so have to wait for the episode to be posted online before I can watch it.)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Jaunty Jester

Last month when I was in Florida, Jester braved the elements to take me to a yarn shop. In addition to her own display of courage, her Then Boy demonstrated copious amounts of trust by allowing us to borrow his SUV.

I felt a large debt of gratitude to them both...and whenever I feel thankful, I express my thanks through handknits.

While we were in Knit 'n Knibble, Jester saw a beautiful alpaca/llama/silk/every-expensive-fiber-you-can-imagine blend beanie. It was knit in a spiral openwork pattern. She loved it. She wanted it. She couldn't make or afford it.

I looked at the beanie very closely. Imagine my surprise when I realized that it was basically a worsted weight Envy Hat...pretty much identical to the ones I made for friends, coworkers, and cousins. I told her that I would make one for her, and that I probably had stash yarn that would work. Later that day I also told Then Boy I would make him a basic beanie if he just let me know what color he wanted.

Now a month has past, and Jester is home on Spring Break. I had finished Then Boy's beanie last week while watching a movie that required my close attention. Lacking any other brainless projects to work on, I churned out a twin version of Sk8's beanie from the same yarn. Super fast. Super easy. I gave it to Jester Sunday morning at church. I also took a bag full of various burgundy, purple, and magenta yarns to church so that she could pick out what she wanted for her hat. I knit that whole thing up during the Academy Awards. I gave her her Envy Hat this afternoon when she and I took Whiz out for frozen yogurt.

Hats finished! Debt of Gratitude paid in full! On to the next project!

Thursday, March 11, 2010


I love creme brulee.

I love that hard burned layer of sugar atop the rich-fattening-no-redeeming-value-weight-watchers-doesn't-make-points-high-enough-for-it custard.

Also, it is French.

So, naturally, when I decided to make myself a properly sized beret out of the 100% sugar cane yarn I purchased in FL, I decided to name it after this paragon of desserts.

This time I stuck to a pattern that I knew worked for my head, my personal fashion outlook, and the gauge of yarn I was using. (My favorite beret pattern is out of the Hollywood Knit Cafe book. It has divine, yet simple, decorative decreases.)

The yarn is "Sugar Rush" by Queensland Connection. It is uber soft, and uber silky. It is similar to a bamboo yarn in texture...which makes sense since I suppose sugar cane and bamboo are fairly similar plants. The one drawback was that the silky softness made for VERY slippery yarn. I switched needles halfway through from my standard metal Susan Boyles to bamboo circulars. The bamboo was able to get a better grip on the yarn, but managed to not snag it in any way.

The beret is beautiful, and I am very excited to have it to wear to the upcoming "Bongos+Beatniks+Berets" open mic poetry night I am hosting at the library.

(BTW...if you are ever in Orange County, CA you should go to Yves' Bistro for the BEST creme brulee you have ever eaten in your entire life. Or, if you don't like creme which case you are clearly some sort of least try the Nouille Roulet entree. It's my favorite.)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Handknits in other Hemispheres

The Client recently returned from his trip to the Falkland Islands/South America/Antarctica.

He wore the Australis scarf that I made him. He said he really appreciated it in the 20 degree weather! (The picture above was taken in the Gerlache Strait, close to Paradise Bay Antarctica!)

He also was kind enough to bring me back some SWAG!!! He got me a skein of Aran weight wool from the Falkland Islands. The farm that produced it is big into the whole organic/green/undyed thing. I was VERY excited to get the yarn, since I had been looking to buy some that was this exact weight/color. I purchased a cream aran-style beanie for myself almost 10 years ago when I went to Scotland...but over the course of many years, moves, and winters I misplaced it/it was permanently borrowed...I miss it...and now I can replace it with cool Falkland Island Yarn! YAY!!!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

And the Oscar GoesTo...

What did I do during the Academy Awards?

(Besides throw pillows at the television when the program ran longer than the DVR...?)

I knit an entire Envy Beanie for Jester!

Pictures will be posted after I deliver it on Friday.

Friday, March 5, 2010


I (finally) finished my new sweater: Martinelli!

It is from the book Pints and Purls by Karida Collins, and the original pattern is called "Fizzy"...

Since my favorite fizzy drink is Martinelli's Sparkling Apple Cranberry juice, which is similar in color to the yarn I used for the sweater, I have dubbed it the Martinelli.

It is an insanely simple knit, as far as the pattern itself goes. I mostly made it because the construction method intrigued me. Bottom up in the round, with the shoulder straps knit and then grafted on, the sleeves picked up and knit in the round.

Loved it.

However, it was not without its challenges:

1. The needles I used were not all that great for the whole purl a gajillion stitches together for the puff rib pattern. Next time...won't use cheap-o needles.

2. I cheaped out on the yarn again because this was an "experimental" project. I used Caron's "Simply Soft" in autumn red. (It may be acrylic...but it is soft! Hooray for truth in advertising!)The yarn feels nice, but has a tendency to split while you are knitting it, which is frustrating.

3. The sweater itself was not exactly at the "modesty" level that I generally strive for. As previously bemoaned, the neckline was much too revealing. I ended up improvising a garter stitch border at the neckline in order to make it wearable. (It probably would have been fine for most people, I am just very uptight.)

Still, despite the is finished, and I am pleased with the end result.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I Need a Big Headed Friend!

I have been wanting to make myself another beret for a while. I made one for just about everyone I knew. I even had the yarn picked out...Misti Alpaca Suri & Silk in coral.

At first I intended to do my standard go-to beret pattern...from Suzan Misher's Knit Cafe book. Then I found a new pattern, a cool pattern, a very very me pattern...

It was free from SockPixie, and was based on the Elizabeth Zimmerman February Sweater...which I had made for myself.

Perfect! I thought. I dubbed it the Beret Pour Moi (beret for ME).I checked my gauge, I cast on, I knit. The beret seemed to be getting a bit big...but I kept double checking my gauge and measurements...they were correct, so surely it would work out. Granted, I had made a change (a ribbed band instead of i-cord), but not one that should have had great grevious impact on the finished product. I just figured that somehow working it on two circulars was making it appear larger than side mirrors on a car.

I finished it while I was in Florida, but was promptly sidetracked by the Knitting Olympics, and didn't get around to weaving in ends/trying it on till last weekend.


Beautiful, but huge.

I reexamined the pictures on SockPixie's blog. The one pictured is huge, or at least huge for how I wear my berets, but the artsy angle she photographed it at hid this from me.

So, now I either need to find a big headed friend willing to wear a bright orange beret, or resign myself to wearing it as a slightly poufy ski cap.

(BTW, I have cast on a second beret for myself...using my old and normal pattern and the black sugar cane yarn. I may get a wearable beret for myself yet!)

Monday, March 1, 2010

And the Medal Goes To...


I finished the shawl...and most importantly I finished it ON TIME!!!

This despite the setbacks of intruding purses and felting, sickness, graduate school, and some semblance of a social life!

Now, back to the regularly scheduled project queue!