Knitting Caution to the Wind

Remember that sweater I mentioned that I cast on Sunday night?  Yeah, it still looks exactly the same.  I made some progress on it only to realize that I had just started the striping sequence, not actually knit the pattern.  So I'm back to where I was on Monday.  Same picture and everything.

This is Northern Lines by Alexandra Tinsley, which I am calling Riding on the Metro because the colors are 80s-tastic and it's my favorite 80s song about public transit (seriously, it makes sense in my head, I promise).  The pattern is gorgeous, part of a lovely pattern collection, and I am taking a serious risk on it.

The yarn Alex wrote the pattern for is Malabrigo Rios, a lovely 100% merino that knits up like a dream.  It is also way out of my budget.  The yarn I am using is Knit Picks Shine Worsted.  A cotton blend that is still soft but a fraction of the cost.  The catch is that it is just that, a cotton blend.  Northern Lines is written to be very form fitting, have negative ease, and oh yeah, look best on the more flat-chested female.  Cotton does not have nearly the stretch for that.  I swatched and got a larger gauge on the same needles as written.  By going up to a size medium, written for a 37 inch bust (I'm a 35) with three inches of negative ease, I think I may be able to make this work.  I am going to knit to just under the bust and try it on.  I find I do a lot better modifying a pattern if I have to rip back than if I try to base it on a swatch.  My math works much better with trial and error than in the abstract.  Plus, I may not want a skin tight sweater knit out of worsted weight no matter the fiber content.  I live in the American South, after all.  I dress for an expected temperature of at least sixty to seventy degrees Fahrenheit all but two months out of the year.

For more WIPs, check out the gang over at Tami's Amis.  Surely someone there has been more productive than me.


The Kindness of Neighbors

Our weather this weekend was splendid.  Well, my weekend, which consists of Sunday and Monday.  Sunday was a gorgeous warm spring day with budding trees and frolicking children.

Because it was so nice I decided to take advantage of the sun and do up some handwashing.  I was jamming out, dancing about in my best boho skirt and old men's flannel shirt when the worst happened.  As I leaned over to lay out my hand knit socks my ipod slipped out of the shirt pocket.  It was like watching a horror movie.  In seconds that stretched to minutes it drifted through the air and then hung from my headphones before disconnecting and dropping through the crack in the balcony floor boards.

I gaped.  Screamed.  Took a picture (because how can you not).  And then ran downstairs to knock on the neighbors' door.  Big surprise, no one answered.  Over the next five hours of daylight I continually walked downstairs and knocked on their door, but no one answered.

I began to work on a plan.  Our balconies are built into the exterior of our building, but there is a large beam that runs down the middle to the floor.  I could shimmy down the pole and drop into the balcony below.  But that left finding a way back up.  I could also climb over the railing with a long pole and some packing tape and grab the ipod that way.  But nothing in the apartment was long enough.  Plus at this point the first floor neighbors were noticing the way I kept leaning out over the railing and staring at the second floor like I was going to rob the place.

It went on like this until Chris came home and took away the hockey stick.  After I ran back downstairs when it got dark and I saw a light on I despaired of ever getting it back.

Yesterday morning I woke up and found this outside my door.

And it still works!  I've baked cookies and taken some down to leave on their door in thanks.  I don't know if I will ever actually meet these neighbors, but it was nice to know that people can still be nice.  And that an electronic device that I have had for over 5 years still works.


Shawl Mojo

As a general rule I do not exercise any sort of project monogamy.  I try to keep to maybe three things on the needles at a time, but with the exception of deadline knitting the idea of only one project is insanity.  Lately my knitting has skewed wildly in the opposite direction.  I have a ton of projects on the needles.  But I seem to be sticking to only one at a time until I either finish or become too annoyed to carry on.

For example, I was obsessed with my Twigs and Willows for a week.  I took it everywhere and had the pattern downloaded to my phone.  But after I hit the snag in the left front I put it away and have not touched it since.  Now I'm all about Pretty in Pink, which is finally showing some progress.

I have recently taken a dose of crazy and decided that I want to finish it by the end of the month -- about 4 days.  I got a skein of yarn for the Stockinette Zombies Marigold Jen KAL and I would like to cast something off before I start something new.  The yarn balls are definitely getting smaller.

So far this shawl is doing exactly what I wanted and highlighting the beauty of Duckie, a special skein of yarn from Unwind Yarn Company.  The color combination should be perfect as we finally hit spring and leave these crazy February storms behind.

But just in case I cast on Northern Lines.  A girl can never be too prepared.


FO: Bombshell

I know I've taken to talking about Vampire Diaries in my FO Friday posts, but that is what you get for stopping by the day after Thursday.  If it was not for my excitement about sharing today's FO with you I would be completely depressed.  Not because of a particular investment in a particular storyline (I am desperately trying to stay spoiler-free, work with me here), but because the acting and the writing in last night's episode were completely brilliant.  But you did not stop by for my mini-Vampire Diaries rehash.  You came here for the pretty knitting.

Oh yes, it is the Bombshell shorts.  I finished these at least a month ago, but I really wanted to be sure I got the proper styling and photos so you could appreciate them for the fashion statement they are and not merely cringe at the images the phrase "knit shorts" may bring to mind.

You know how people say cables are addictive?  Did you know that they are also addictive in the pre-knitting stage?  When I first got the fall issue of Holla Knits I was not particularly interested in the shorts.  I was in love with the New Girl skirt, which I still have yet to cast on for, but knit shorts?  They just sound bizarre.

But I kept remembering them.  I kept going back to the pattern and looking at the cables, thinking about how nice they looked.  How they looked like real, honest cables, with all of their twists and crosses.  Then I would put away the idea as crazy, go back to thinking about socks and sweaters and shawls.  But sweaters with cables require a lot more yarn than their plainer cohorts, and I was trying to knit from stash after all.  After Christmas I needed a brain reset and finally gave in.  I had just the right amount of Cascade 220, three skeins for the size medium.

I knit the legs the perscribed amount, and then knit the body three more complete repeats.  The waist band is supposed to be 1.5 inches tall, but I only knit it .75 inches tall because I had already knit the shorts almost as tall as I wanted them.  This is another project that I loved the finishing work on.  Don't get me long.  All finishing is fiddly and that's annoying, but I love the accomplishment of the completed finishing.  I sewed in elastic for the first time, and then added the i-cord belt loops.  Then I put them on with the ends still hanging about and ran into the living room to show Chris how clever I am.

Too much Top Model was watched this weekend

If you have any interest in knitting these, I highly recommend them.  Katie Canavan writes an excellent pattern.  And above all, they are just so comfortable!  I've worn them out in public once (the day we took the photos), but I have worn them around the apartment a lot.  Because we don't have a washer I try not to wear my work pants (aka jeans) when I'm at home.  These make an excellent and more stylish alternative to answering the door in my pjs at 4 in the afternoon.

To see more lovely FOs, please check out the gang over at Tami's Amis.  I guarantee some more fun over there!


Geektastic Thursday: Beautiful Creatures

Thank you all for your sympathies about my sweater yesterday.  When I finally sit down to rip, recount, and start over I should only be looking at a day's worth of knitting.  But with the way my days are going lately I've gone back to carrying the Pretty in Pink Shawl around in my purse for lunch break and emergency knitting.  So maybe I will have some progress to show on that soon.

In the midst of our little snow this weekend, my sister and I went to the movies.  This was one of the main reasons she came up for these specific dates.  We both share a love of young adult fiction and over the top teen movies, so of course we went to see Beautiful Creatures.  And of course we had made one of the classic movie viewing mistakes -- we read the book first.

Now let me be clear, I don't think I would have loved the movie even if I had seen it before reading the book.  I would have still been annoyed by the over-simplified view of the South, the audacity of Hollywood to believe reenactments are only staged by sentimentalists with Confederate ancestors (ok, maybe that one is my historian coming out), the antagonistic view of religion, the confused plot, and the hit-you-over-the-head female sexuality metaphors.  In fact, now that I see it all written out, that might have kept me from reading the book.  And I like the book.  On the scale of teen supernatural novels I liked it better than Twilight but not quite as much as Vampire Academy (I really need to reread that one before the movie).

The movie does have its good points.  The filmmakers did make some positive simplifications when they combined the characters of Amma and Maggie to create a strong female character that translates better on screen.  Don't get me wrong, in the book these characters are both strong in their own right, but it is too easy to see yet another black woman serving as a housekeeper and communing with her ancestors and then look straight past the tenacity and quick wit the character uses to charm and manage the male characters.

The actors work brilliantly with what they are given.  My sister and I both loved Alden Ehrenreich (a Supernatural alum) as the lead, Ethan Wate.  He was charming and goofy and all the good parts of that teenage boy we all went to high school with but none of us had the good sense to date.  The effects were a lot of fun as well, particularly the spinning dinner table and the poetry on the walls of Lena's room.  It was the perfect isolated teen girl hideaway.

Overall, though, save your money.  If you have not, read the book first.  I'm about halfway through book two, Beautiful Darkness, and so far I am still interested.  If you have a discounted theater that gets movies late, that would be the time to see this.  Otherwise a girls night with a bottle of wine and popcorn would be an ideal setting.  Just finish the film before you start yelling about discrepant the way we started to, ok?  No matter how empty your theater people still get annoyed.


All About the Sweaters

Last week you all helped me to choose what sweater to swatch for next.  Almost overwhelmingly the votes were for Northern Lines (though votes for the grey snuck in at the end).  I did swatch, but now it is waiting on some calculations because I'm substituting such a different yarn.

So instead of potentially doing math I returned to the Twigs and Willows and finished the back.

I know!  And then Monday night I cast on the left front and after one day I am already past the ribbing.

Maybe I can rock this momentum and finish this out quickly.  Who knows?

So as soon as I wrote this I realized that something has gone terribly wrong with the left front.  Do you see it?  Yep, right there.  Evidently I miscounted how many rows of ribbing I knit before and after the decrease section and it has resulted in a much shorter side.  Normally I would insert a close up photo here since the lighting was so bad when I took these photos, but I'm too depressed by it all.  So I'm knitting my Pretty in Pink Shawl in the hopes that the yarn is so needy it will just fill in those extra rows.  Hey, it could happen, right?

In the meantime, check out the other WIPs over at Tami's Amis.


Dyed Snowy

I had the best time this weekend.  My sister came to visit and we had tons of fun.

In the snow!  She got here Friday night and we woke up Saturday morning to actual snow, none of this icy slushy stuff we normally get around here.  It was awesome.  Of course any snow day requires hot chocolate so we hoofed it over to the grocery store.

Who doesn't love a fun hike through snow?

You may notice something a little different in these photos.

Friday night we dyed my hair!  I've never dyed my hair before, so it was quite the production.  There was bleach, tin foil, mascara wands, and Dead Sara

Surprisingly successful bleaching

This was actually supposed to be purple hair dye, but I'm very happy with the blue.  It is actually the same color as the last skein from the Club Dragonfly 2012.  I really must get going on that shawl.


FO: Lightening Shrug

Did you watch last night's Vampire Diaries?  There's no better way to spend Valentine's Day than to sit on the couch screaming at the television completely incapable of knitting.  Luckily I had already finished what I am now referring to as my Valentine's sweater -- the Lightening Shrug.

I wore this to dinner the other night because that is how much I love it.  Chris and I never go out so when we do I like to look hot.  This shrug paired with a tank top and a pair of wide leg black pants for a really fun outfit for a night at a nice sports bar.  Shrugs are not really my go-to, I usually like to have the option of covering my stomach, but this one may just change my mind.

The pattern calls for Lorna's Laces Honor, which is a DK apaca and silk blend.  I used Knitting Notions Classic Merino Sport out of my stash, which does not have the same amount of drape.  I already tried to use this yarn for the Abalone before I realized the pattern was not for me, so I already had a bit of an idea as to how it knits up.  I went up to a US size 9 for the body, did the ribbing on 7s, and did the bind off with 10s.

I think this knitted up perfectly.  The pattern is genius.  I only had two complaints.  One, I think the seaming should be done on the sleeves before the ribbing, but that's a personal choice based on how my seams failed the first time around.  Two, that ribbing goes on forever!  The finished look is worth it, but be prepared to spend an entire day off knitting the body ribbing.

Over all?  Another win!  I am really starting to learn what I love in garment knitting.  Which means I am so setting myself up for a major disaster in the next few projects.  Stay tuned!

And for more FOs, check out the gang over at Tami's Amis!


Geektastic Thursday: Happy Valentine's Day!

In honor of Top Gun's return to theaters and in the spirit of the season I bring you one of my favorite ridiculous 80s music videos -- Berlin's "Take My Breath Away".  Blue jump suits, Tom Cruise, and what did she do to her hair?  Plus the eternal debate, is she a human, an alien, or the spirit of the plane?

Happy Valentine's Day!


Future Knitting Already in Progress

This WIP Wednesday I do not have much visible progress, so I thought I would crowd source for a future WIP.  Last night I was watching the premier of The Face (I know, but I'm tired of Top Model and it's Nigel), and I got the urge to start another sweater.  I am making progress on my Twigs and Willows, but I just cannot shake this startitis.  I don't think it will be happy until I have no empty needles.

I have two sweaters I am anxious to start.  First, the Whispy Cardi by Hannah Fettig.  I have had this in my queue for ages and bought the yarn specifically for this sweater last year.  If you have not seen it, it is a long sleeved drapy cardigan knit in lace weight.

Miss Babs Yet in Gothic Queen

The other sweater I am excited about is Alex Tinsley's Northern Lines.  This one uses stripes and contrasting hems to create an 80s-tastic sweater which is still wearable in everyday.

I am planning to knit mine in black with white stripes and this almost neon teal for the contrast.

But I can't decide.  I would ideally like to only cast on one because I think three sweaters on the needles will become far too insane.  So I am putting it to you.  Which would you prefer?

And check out some actual WIPs over at Tamis Amis


Box of Christmas Future

Yesterday was an epic mail day.  The mail man brought me this.

I know he thinks I'm insane, because yes, that is a box full of yarn.  Knit Picks is a drug, which is why I indulge in free shipping quantities only occasionally.  Or at least that is what I tell my husband.

Remember back in December when I admitted I may have promised my family that I would knit us all stockings before this Christmas?  And then I conveniently never mentioned it again?  Well, I finally decided that if I don't get the ball rolling I will never make any progress.  I bought enough for two two-color stockings for sure based on this pattern collection.  I know I want to make one that is blue with a white motif, and my sister has requested that I knit hot pink into hers.  Because nothing says Christmas like bright pink.  I'll probably do a pink background with white pattern for hers.

But don't expect to see any progress soon.  I do my best work when I procrastinate.


A Mite Leaf Obsessed

I'm sure that if you read knitting blogs or are in tune with the online knitting community you have heard that Alana Dakos has finally opened up her new self-published book, Botanical Knits, for pre-orders.  I was at work on Friday when it went live and could not get a payment form to go through until I came home.  Evidently the enthusiasm of knitters broke the internet again.  But, because the book is immediately available as an ebook I went ahead and started a swatch while we were at Top Gun (so the Boba Fett hat got no love).

In trying to take an artistic yarn picture I got a much better shot of my Top Gun-themed manicure

I was initially swatching for Entangled Vines, but my yarn worked much better for Twigs and Willows, so I have since cast on for the back.  And yes, this is the yarn I was using for my Central Park Hoodie.  That was getting no love and I cannot imagine having orange yarn available and not using it for a  leafy cardigan.

But wait, there's more!  Since I seem to be fighting off a major case of startitis (and losing badly -- I'll have enough WIPs for months), I also started the Ivy Trellis Mittens.  The required yardage was perfect for the leftovers from my Purslane Beret.  I was going to make myself wait until I finish something, but it is still mitten weather when I head to work in the morning, so I caved.

In case it bears repeating, I am really excited about this pattern collection.  I have never knit an Alana sweater, but I have knit up several of her accessory patterns over the years and have listened to her podcast since almost the beginning.  I'm in love with the way each piece incorporates a leaf motif.  It is bringing back memories of the little vines I would doodle in my school notes.  I cannot wait to see how different knitters interpret this vision.  It's going to be one colorful landscape.


FO: Ellie

Back in November my friend Taryn asked me to knit a pair of mitts for her.  Now, there are some things you should know about my friend Taryn -- she's a girly girl.  But she does not like fussy things.  She has a gothic style.  But she loves sparkles.  And above all, Taryn loves My Little Pony.  I pointed her to a few etsy shops I knew were reliable, and told her to pick out what she wanted and have it sent to me.  She ended up selecting a skein of Gnome Acres in the Berties Bott's colorway.  A skein of laceweight at that.

After a lot of pattern deliberation, the Yarn Harlot blogged about a pair of mitts she received a kit for at one of her knitting retreats.  The Ellie mitts are written for fingering weight, so I decided to wind the skein into two balls and knit them double.  I also went down a needle size and knit the smallest size because Taryn's wrists are smaller than mine (and I wear a child's watch with ease).

The resulting project was chronicled here as I fought with dropped stitches, tangles, and yarn barf that resulted in cutting one of the two strands and painstakingly winding it back on itself.  But the end result is lovely.  The buttons are the last of my stash from my trip to the NYC garment district back in 2009.  I guess this means a return trip is in order.

Ellie is a sweet little pattern.  The instructions are very clear and it is quite customizable, which is always an added bonus.  Lately I have been touting the value of paid patterns.  This pattern is no exception, and I am pleased to say that the end result was very well received.

Find more splendid FOs over at Tami's Amis!


Geektastic Thursday: Club Dragonfly

A year ago I was a month out of grad school and realizing that the job prospects for someone with a masters degree in history were much slimmer than they had been promised when I first started college five years prior.  I was also finding myself increasingly bored.  And what does a girl do when she's bored but cannot afford to leave the house?  Online window shopping!  I could not afford to buy much, which was a little depressing, but then I discovered yarn clubs.  Most require payment in full up front, which is something that has never been in my budget, but there are some that allow for monthly installments.  That is how, through the wonders of Ravelry ads, I came to join Club Dragonfly.  This is a six shipment yarn club that includes yarn and a new coordinating pattern, plus some added goodies.  I thought that now the new round is open for enrollment I would share my latest shipment.

Isn't that beautiful?  The yarn is their Djinni Sock in the new colorway "Karen's Blue", but I have been running around calling it Tardis Blue.  Because it is, isn't it?

This month's pattern is an ascot, mitt, and headband set, all of which should be doable with the one skein.  The little goodie is a matching blue notions case with a stitch marker from Exchanging Fire, an Etsy shop that also offered a coupon code.  This is probably one of my favorite shipments, though I have loved them all.  It is really representative of the range offered by the club.  Several months ago we got a lovely sock pattern by Liz Abinante, and the shipment that made me die with delight included an elaborate colorwork cowl that I immediately had to knit.

I won't be sticking with the club, but that is not to say that I have not loved what I received.  To the contrary.  Each invoice was accompanied by mailbox stakeouts and chasing my husband around the apartment demanding that he feel how soft and happy the yarn is (he is learning -- the other day he called a yarn I was winding "delicious").  If you have any interest at all in trying out a club, I highly recommend it (2013 monthly payment signup on Ravelry here).  The designers are wonderful and the shipment is always packaged with the kind of care only yarnies can express.  What can I say?  I seem to be a Dragonfly Fibers fangirl.


Feeling the Need for Speed

I don't have a lot of progress to show to you guys today.  Since I had an FO on a Monday I really have not had much opportunity to make progress on the rest of my projects.  The Lightening Shrug has swapped places with the Pretty in Pink Shawl because I am almost to the arm decreases and I don't want to have to keep measuring my progress while at work.  Lucky me my purse is big enough for a two color shawl.

Lightening Shrug.  Really just one long strip of stockinette knit on a bias
I am still loving both of these patterns.  The shrug has a simple construction that I cannot wait to see how it pans out.  I should have a more detailed analysis soon after I finish the stockinette section.  And the shawl?  The stripes are addictive despite how long they are.  I am looking forward to the shortening element that comes with bottom up shawls.

Pretty in Pink Shawl.  Still too unwieldy for a proper photo.
The Boba Fett Sockhead Hat will be making an appearance later this week for the first time in months.  I am taking it to see one of the greatest films ever in Imax 3D on Friday -- Top Gun!  One of the great joys and perils of working where I do is that I have known about and been waiting for this for months.  And now it is only two days away!

Knit, purl. Knit, purl. Knit, purl.
For more detailed works in progress, check out the group at Tami's Amis.


At The Speed of Weaving

Like most Americans I spent last night watching at least part of the Superbowl.  Though I did change the channel to watch Downton Abbey and when I was watching I had tuned out the game almost entirely to focus on my book and my knitting.  Because that is essentially all I did yesterday.  I read my book (Beautiful Creatures -- my sister decided to read it before the movie comes out and became obsessed so I have been tasked with reading at least the first one.  Not bad so far) and knit the Wish I Was Weaving This Cowl.  In just over twelve hours.

I don't know what possessed me to knit this cowl so fast.  The last time I knit anything at this speed was my Neon Neely socks and those still took two days for one sock.  Maybe it is the power of the Liz Abinante KAL?  I did not even spend the entire day focused on my knitting.  I wound the yarn and cast on in the morning, but I also ate a few meals, cooked dinner, cleaned, and took a nap.

Wish I Was Weaving This Cowl is the 2013 installment of The Great Cowl KAL, which some may remember from last year.  This year Liz has made things easier on herself and the challenge only consists of one pattern, rather than five.  There is still plenty of time to participate if you want.  You can find more details on her blog or in the Traveling Woman group on Ravelry.  Anyone who finishes and submits their cowl by Feb 10 will receive a second brand new cowl pattern for free.  How cool is that?

The pattern calls for worsted weight knit at a loose gauge.  I used Dragonfly Fibers Super Dijini which I got in my first club shipment last year.  Unfortunately the base has been discontinued, so I could not think of a better use of my little skein of worsted MCN. It's perfect for a little bit of color in our drab, cold February.


FO: Chutes and Also Ladders

You guys will never guess what I finished in time to wear in our freakish weather.  That's right -- another hat!  I know, I have a serious addiction.  But for some reason when I knit a hat I cannot knit just one.  I have to knit like 12.  Currently I have no more on the needles, but we shall see how long that lasts.

This is Chutes, and Also Ladders by Alex Tinsley, which I knit for the first deadline in Stash and Burn's Use It or Lose It challenge.  The challenge is designed to help you fall back in love with your stash by picking a different stash yarn every challenge period to either use, frog an old project, or send off to a new home.  This  Aslan Trends Invernal is from my first ever Webs order in December 2009.  As far as I can tell the yarn from this order is the oldest yarn in my stash and is my most confusing "what the frak was I thinking" items.  Evidently I was just waiting for this pattern to come along.

The pattern is written for a luxury DK held double, so this lighter worsted worked well in substitution.  The alpaca gives it a nice drape and the added sparkle peaks out nicely from the pattern.  The hat itself was a very easy and fast knit.  The pattern is only charted rather than written line by line, but it was very easy to learn where the pattern was headed and follow the chart.  As with all of Alex's patterns, I highly recommend this if you have a fun yarn you have not been able to find a use for.  I do not think it would work well in a variegated yarn, but for the sparkly solids it is just about perfect.

To see more lovely FOs, check out the gang over at Tami's Amis by clicking on the image below.