30 November 2006

Hats and lace

I've been busy with the part-time job and looking for full-time work. It is actually quite exhausting physically so there has only been minimal knitting at casa de stitchcounter.

First, I made another hat (preemie-sized) for the Hats for Alex using the Microspun I had left over from the first baby hat. (Its going in the mail today.)

If anyone can tell me what kind of plant that is, I would really appreciate it.

I have started A Wide Triangle from Victorian Lace Today. I was chugging along while I waited at the mechanic's. (The beads are from one of the big-box stores, just some glass beads in a coffee color.)

Please forgive the crappy looking patio furniture in the background. I am even making it out of the same yarn, same color as the one in the book. One thing I have noticed about these patterns (in addition to how gorgeous they are) is that the yarns used are easily found and not terribly expensive. I have no doubt that I'll be making more of these lace shawls.

Unfortunately, I came across a knot in the yarn. First, I tried to just knit a few stitches holding both ends together but decided that looked too bulky. Then I tried to weave in the ends while I continued knitting. Again, it looked too bulky when I would pull to get a sense of how it would look when I blocked it. I decided this was the perfect excuse to try a Russian join.

My join isn't as neat as Eunny's but its not too bad. Its a little easier to see if you click on it. I did need hubby to help by placing the second strand across the first.

It is hardly noticeable in the knitting itself:

I'll wait to see if those little ends are noticeable once it is washed and blocked. The yarn shouldn't bloom very much but I won't mess with it until the very end since I assume that area is pretty fragile. I was so focused on making sure I didn't pull the yarn too hard or mess up the join somehow, I missed a YO.

Now I'm going to attempt some lace surgery a la S. Kate (who does not appear to have a blog but is featured in this Yarn Harlot entry). Wish me luck!

Although there haven't been many FOs, my knitting has definitely improved since I started this blog a year ago.

16 November 2006

Some knitting, some laughing

I followed String Bean's pattern and I don't know what I did wrong but the baby hat looked much too long. I was going to send it anyway but then decided that I couldn't do it. So I frogged a couple of inches and changed the decreasing so it wouldn't taper as much. It will get washed tonight, blocked and then it is ready for sending. Maybe I'll get ambitious and try to make another one (maybe preemie sized) so I can use the rest of the Microspun.

My Denise needle set is included for scale. I think it is pretty cute. However, what is most important is that some little baby will have a soft, handmade hat its first few days in this world and I hope that will bring him/her some comfort.

On a completely different topic, there was a "cold" front here earlier in the week. By "cold" I mean that it dropped into the 50's at night and was still cool first thing in the morning. Personally, I like that weather. However, it is apparently too cold for the poor little, thin-skinned Cam. His teeth were chattering the other morning when we let the dogs out. I threw the ball to get him running so he was warm for all of 5 minutes. As soon as he had been standing around a little while, the teeth started chattering again. It was so sad. So that night when it was going to be cold, I was looking for something to keep him warm. (If he were a kid, he would demand that I delete these pictures and promise to never mention it again.)

(He looks a little like an alien, doesn't he?

I was laughing so hard when he trotted down the hall that there were tears streaming down my face. The old flannel pjs kept him warm but they did get in the way. Apparently, he got tangled up in them in the middle of the night and woke me up with a squeal. He managed to get himself untangled but obviously this is not a good solution. The following night I woke up to hear him pawing at his dog bed. When I woke up the next morning, I realized that he had moved the bed about 1.5 feet away from its normal place near the sliding glass doors. I guess the draft from the doors was more than he could take. I think we will need to find something to help keep him warm once the real winter weather hits. Although I could probably knit him something, I'm leaning towards putting my new steeking skills to use and morphing a sweater from the second-hand shop into a lovely, perhaps slightly felted covering for Cam.

11 November 2006

On a roll, babee

OK, in my excitement to show you the yarn from my trip, I forgot to show you the awesome gifts that Pam made for me. First, what looks like a bracelet is actually a row counter. I love it. I think it works better than the row counters I've bought because once you get used to moving the beads over, it takes very little time. In my experience, using the plastic row counter you attach to your needle is hard to advance without using both hands. I've also been known to use pencil and paper, but again that takes a little more time (and isn't nearly as pretty).

Isn't she a great friend? The second strand is a pattern row counter. You use it like a stitch marker but when you move to the next row in a pattern you use the next opening in the strand. Genius, no? These are based on Cristi's now famous technique. These are a little too small for my current projects but they are such a great idea that I'm sure they will make a debut when it is time for some lace knitting.

I also took a picture of the SWS in Natural Denim. I haven't started the Fuzzy Feet for me but will soon. Considering it can be done in a mere weekend, it will definitely be done before it gets cold enough to use them here in FL.

When I was at the store, I also picked up a little Microspun by Lion Brand. (I was hoping to score some of the newly released Cotton Ease but this stuff is also very soft and washer/dryer safe.) I know, I need more yarn like I need a hole in my head. However, this little skein is very important. It is destined to become a hat for a very special cause. Pam is trying to collect 198 hats by the end of November to commemorate the 198 days that Alex was alive. (Read the blog dedicated to him for some background and if you are a member of the Knitty board look for more details in the "knitalongs" section.) I've never made a baby hat before, but I made Fuzzy Feet so apparently I rule with dpns. (OK, I've probably angered the knitting goddess but it is for a good cause so maybe she will take pity on me.)

For those of you who are looking for a quick project, please think about contributing to this cause. String Bean has made a pattern specifically for this cause and you can find it here.

10 November 2006

Yummy yarns

One of the wonderful things about Stitches East was the market. I had a few constraints for the yarn I bought: it had to fit in my luggage (no cheating by buying another bag), it had to be on sale/not available online, and it would not exceed my spending limit. I managed to fall within those boundaries and still walk away with some fabulous yarns. Without further ado, prepare to drool.

The first purchase of the trip, fingering weight yarn from Liza Souza in the color "Gold". The skein is 1750 yds / 8 oz.!

Based on the famed long lines at all Blue Moon booths at other fiber gatherings, we stayed for the special market preview for attendees on Thurs. night. I could not resist the subtle coloring of the green "Rio" (rayon) yarn. I was debating whether or not I *really* wanted it when I saw the name. Come on now, with a name like "Pond Scum" there was no way I could walk away. I was a total fiber nerd and showed Jane Sowerby the yarn while she was autographing my copy of her new book, Victorian Lace. She recommended one of the simpler patterns so that the yarn would be the center of attention. (She laughed when she read the name on the label.)

(I apologize, I took multiple pictures of the yarn and none of them really capture how lovely this yarn really is.)

I kept circling Tess' Designer Yarns booth. Their yarns were so heavenly soft. Although they are quite affordable for what they are, it was going to be hard to justify spending so much of my budget on yarn for one project. However, I just couldn't stay away. Luckily, Alice noticed a stash of alpaca labeled at 150 yards/skein for $3. I believe that Alice, Pam, and I all walked away with about 10 skeins each. It is destined to be a cardi for me. Perhaps it will be one of my first original designs, we'll see.

It is so soft, even Cam has to see what the fuss is all about.

Again, my obsession with lace dictated that I find out what the Habu Textiles yarn was all about since it is used on a couple of different patterns in Victorian Lace. I was not disappointed. These yarns were not just well-packaged but they were also a good buy.

The Tsumugi (silk) yarn in colors #35 and #46:

Close-ups so you can better see the flecks of color in each of the yarns:

I can't wait to knit these up--I even got beads to go with the yarn but you'll have to wait to see those.

I couldn't resist some of there other great deals. In particular, I got these two cones (747 yds / 1 oz each) of fine merino wool in color #77:

After taking the picture, I realized they didn't quite look like the same color although the labels show the same color number. I didn't see any dyelot information so I may use them stranded together or for two separate projects.

The other yarn I got at Habu was their ramie yarn. The bloom from this yarn (they had swatches and project samples hanging above the yarn displays) was phenomenal. I don't know what this will be but it will be very wispy when I'm done with it.

Now, I just need to get cracking with the knitting. I have made a deal with myself, I have to use at least half of all this yarn before I can buy more at next year's event. I'll be spending lots of time trying to finish off some of my UFOs this weekend so I can start knitting for me, me, me. :-)

09 November 2006


So, I knew before I started that I would have to watch the SWS closely during the felting process. Pam had warned me, the kind souls on the Knitty board cautioned SWS users about its quick-felting properties. I even set the timer for 15 mins. intervals. After the first 15 minutes, nothing, there wasn't even a hint of felting. Although the second 15 min. interval fell in the middle of eating (so I was a little late removing it from the machine), I don't think that was the problem. Seriously, these Fuzzy Feet shrunk really fast. The colors still look fabulous and I'm hoping that these will fit one of our nephews or nieces so they can find a happy home.

Aren't the colors lovely?

Here's a picture which includes my shoe for context:

Ain't no way that was going to fit.

I already purchase more SWS in the Natural Denim colorway (3 skeins this time just to be safe) to make another pair for me. Given the rate of shrinkage from the unfelted to felted version of the Fuzzy Feet, I'll have to make each one about 14.5 inches. Won't those look silly pre-felting?

07 November 2006

Good times with friends and yarn

I went to Stitches East last week and it was great! First, it meant that I got to hang out with my friend, Pam. I don't think I realized just how much I missed having a knitting buddy. Of course, hanging out with Pam (and her hubby) is fun no matter what. I also met Roxy and AliceC from the Knitty boards. They were very cool (no big surprise there). It was so energizing to be surrounded by so many knitters and see people's creations. Despite being quite tired from the whole trip, I came home with lots of ideas and more drive to finish what I've got so far so I can hurry up and get to my new projects.

I had a class with Judy Pascale, "Measure, Modify, and Knit." She also threw in some finishing techniques at the end which were new to me. Let's just say that I am seriously thinking about ripping out the Leo sweater and redoing the armhole shaping. The armhole finishing she showed us looked so good that I think it is going to be worth the additional effort.

Pam and I also took the "Dive into Design" with Fiona Ellis. She was funny, personable and you can tell that she enjoyed being there with us. True to the title of the class, she just had us jump right in without talking very much about techniques or guidelines. Although afterwards I realized I probably could have used a cable stitch dictionary, it was freeing not to think about what is "right" or most pleasing. Those 3 hours just flew by. (After the class was over, I ran to the market area to buy her book so she could autograph it. It was so cool to stand around chatting with her while she signed it.)

If you can ever go to one of the Stitches events or take a class with either of these fabulous knitters, do it!

The other Stitches events I attended were also wonderful. I even felt I got something out of Kaffe Fassett's talk about color. Now, I have never done intarsia and have little experience with Fair Isle so most of my color work is really based on using variegated and/or hand-dyed yarns. However, it was his sense of humor and some explanations of his thought processes when he looks at the world that struck a cord. I'm still not running out to do any intarsia but it does make me think about the possibilities.

In the last year, I have discovered that I have a real weakness for lace. So, of course, we went to the Victorian Lace Style Show. The scarves, shawls, and stoles were all so lovely. Jane Sowerby, the author, was also down-to-earth and witty. Afterwards, I had to buy her book and get it autographed. She was just as cool when we met her as she seemed on the stage. There are pictures in the latest IK and on the web of these wispy creations and all I can say is that they are more lovely in person. If you have any interest in lace, definitely pick this book up. She even has a (short) section in the back on how to create your own lace designs and how to personalize the patterns she presents by using different borders.

The market at Stitches was also remarkable in and of itself. I managed to keep my spending (just barely) under the maximum I had set for myself. I have also told myself that I can't buy more at next year's event unless I have used at least half of what I bought this year. Considering how luscious those purchases were, that shouldn't be a problem. Since it is rainy outside I will wait to take pictures of my loot but, trust me, it will be worth it.

As an added benefit to hanging out with Pam, I knit my first socks! OK, they are Fuzzy Feet so there are big needles and medium weight yarn involved but Pam assures me that it counts. It was also cool to have an almost finished project in one weekend.

Here's the finished, pre-felting picture:

The Fuzzy Feet in the wild (don't those colors look scrumptious?):

The yarn is Paton's SWS in Natural Earth. I could not believe how soft this yarn was. It is a single-ply, softly spun. The color changes are gradual, just how I like them. Pam was saying that this yarn would probably be good for the pattern Lizard Ridges, perhaps another project to add to the list.

There will be some felting tonight and hopefully it will clear up so I can take some decent pictures of the yarn I bought. Happy knitting indeed. :-)