Friday, September 30, 2005
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Books About Knitting
Yesterday I went to the bookstore and picked up some books about knitting! As we all know, reading about knitting is almost as fun as really knitting. I got the third KnitLit, a collection of essays about knitting. If you've never read one of these, you should, they're wonderful. I found the Harlot's new book (bookbookbooktwo), and I picked up Knitticisms. I've only gone through the Knitticisms so far and besides being a really cute book, the pictures in it are worth buying the book. They are all old knitting ads and pictures from pattern books and old photos of knitters. Some of the styles are the really cute 40's and 50's sweater girl styles. Then there are the 60's styles, which really makes you wonder what was going on in the 60's that people would want to wear things like that, let alone spend their time knitting those things. Drugs are bad!
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Where do socks come from?
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Back to Gryffindor Mourning
Monday, September 26, 2005
I Finished Something!
I actually finished something this weekend! Remember the cashmere I bought back in March? Well, I finally finished spinning it and plying it. It was only one ounce and I got just shy of 200 yards of fingering weight 2 ply from it. I have no idea why it took me so long to do, except that I was mostly ignoring it and not doing anything about it. I don't know why roving doesn't spin itself. Just in case you actually remember the cashmere top from ages ago, yes it was a different color. After it was spun it was a pale honey color with grey undertones - not the best color for me to wear. So, into the dyepot with a tiny bit of Wilton's Cornflower Blue and an even tinier bit of Yellow (the yarn already had some yellow in it) and out came this gorgeous silvery blue green color. It was exactly what I was aiming for and its a perfect match for Ramius' eyes. Unfortunately, his eyes were closed at the time of this picture. He has a very demanding sleep schedule and can't be disturbed for silly things like cashmere. I think I'll make a lace neck ring - kinda like the Turtleneck-With-Out-The-Turtle, but more elegant. I figure it will keep me warm and since it only weighs one ounce, it should be easy to wear.
Friday, September 23, 2005
Gift Giving Friday III
Today's idea for Gift Giving Friday is...CRITTERS! Doing a knitted critter is a great idea for several reasons: there are many free patterns on the web, they don't use very much yarn, no one will ever grow out of them, they don't have to be washed (so you don't have to worry about using easy care yarn if you don't have any around), who cares about gauge, and they are just really fun to make! The Elephant above (AKA Effelunt, as he's known here) was done out of leftover yarn from a cardi and the blanket is Lorna's Laces sock yarn, left over from some socks. Who among us doesn't have leftover yarn? If elephants aren't your thing, how about a little kitty? I also found these little, tiny critters over at Lion's website geared for teaching kids how to knit (we won't get into the wisdom of using FunFur for a first knitting project) and aren't they cute? I love how some of them are bookmarks. These would be a cute stocking stuffer. Then I Googled across (its like stumbling across, but on the web) this site. They have links to more animals than you can imagine - Loch Ness Monster anyone? In addition to the stuffed animals links, this page will also link you to some dishcloth patterns with animals knitted in. Convenient, if your Loch Ness Monster wants a small afghan with a pig on it, you could do a few pig dishcloths and sew them together - voila, Nessie is warm all Winter! Don't think of these as only for kids, your friends might enjoy some of these too. And remember, if you use up all your leftover yarns, you'll have to buy more, you know, for insulation and all.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
La Gran, concluded
Here are the last two things I've done with La Gran. Fortunately I was able to get the Virginia Carpet Dolphin to model for me. He was so excited that his friends from the aquarium in Gulfport had been rescued from the Gulf that he would have modeled anything for me today. The dolphin is wearing the Ballerina Wrap from Hollywood Knits, made in La Gran (Electric Blue I think). Its basically a wide scarf middle with long skinny ends that you can wear around your shoulders/flippers and tie several ways. It does a pretty good job of keeping my shoulders warm and since it ties on, I don't have to worry about it slipping off while I'm doing stuff/flips for the tourists. On the pillow next to the dolphin is a hat made from some La Gran leftover from other projects. The pattern was in an Interweave Knits but I can't remember which one. I think it was part of a group of patterns for easy gift knitting or something like that. It did not originally call for La Gran, but I was able to get gauge so I did it with the La Gran. I had to add puff balls to it just to give it enough weight to stay on my head.
Public Safety Notice: Do Not, Under Any Circumstances, Pick Up a Cat While Wearing a Puff Ball Hat.
Just trust me on this one.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
The Sweater I Cannot Wear
Monday, September 19, 2005
An Ode to La Gran
Also, you'll be glad to hear that once I finish this little La Gran retrospective, I can get back to discussing my current knitting as I am almost finished with the Super Secret Project although I did have the joy of frogging part of it this weekend when I discovered an error on the scale of NASA's infamous meters/inches boo boo. (The difference is I never claimed to be a math genius, I think you have to be a math genius to even take out the trash at NASA.) Anyway, I reknit the mistake and I'm on the home stretch so I can get back to knitting normal stuff. The other strange thing this weekend: a bird got his head stuck in the bird feeder on our back deck. The poor little thing stuck his head under the plexiglass side trying to get a piece of seed way in the back of the feeder and his head got stuck, so we sit down to lunch and I notice that there is a bird outside with his little butt in the air. I'm no professional bird person (I don't even know what they're called), but birds don't usually moon people like that. So, I noticed he was breathing and I couldn't see his head. I go outside and sure enough, his head is stuck. Luckily the birdfeeder was made so that I could pull out the plexiglass sides, so I just pulled that part out and the little guy flew off. Poor thing probably died of shock in the tree, either that or he has a really great story to tell at parties now. Caleb spent the rest of the day telling me I was a Special Super Hero. I don't know what the Special is referring to, maybe the fact that I can't fly and I walk into walls before I'm caffeinated, I don't know...
Friday, September 16, 2005
Gift Giving Friday II
Today's gift idea is...slippers for 4 legged people! No, actually its felted slippers. If you have never made felted slippers, you should at least make some for yourself. If you have made felted slippers, you should make more. Why? Because they are wonderful! I made myself a pair last Fall and lived in them through the entire cold season. They are like *hot chocolate for your feet: they're warm, soft, not too hot, they don't make your feet sweat and because they are felted, they conform to your foot's shape so you end up with a right one and a left one. I made Mickael a pair for Valentine's Day and he wears them all the time. OK, so where do you get the pattern? As a company, I think Fiber Trends has the most variations of the felted slipper pattern, but there are other companies that do the felted slipper also. Mickael's slippers are the Felted Clogs (aka Borg Clogs as the Harlot calls them) from Fiber Trends, made in Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Worsted in Charcoal. Mine are from the book Felted Knits, they are the Ballet Slippers from the Fiber Trends lady (whose name I can't remember at the moment - sorry ma'am), made in Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Worsted and Brown Sheep Handpaint Originals. They do have kids slippers patterns as well if you are looking to make slippers for a little person. You can match your yarns and colors to the gift recipient and then your whole family can have toasty toes all Winter. If you really get into it, you could add some needle felted embellishments to the slippers to really personalize them. If you are concerned about slipping on hardwood floors, you can either purchase suede soles for the slippers or I've heard (but not tried it yet) that puff paint is great for putting on the bottom of the slippers to give a little traction. As far as the Fiber Trends patterns which are the only ones I've used for slippers at this point, they are very well written - just follow them step by step and don't try to read too far ahead of yourself, just trust the pattern, it works.
*On a hot chocolate note, if you live anywhere near a Super Target (I'm not sure if Target Greatland carries this or not but its worth checking out), get yourself over there as soon as the temp changes and pick up some Mint Hot Chocolate from their Archer Farms brand. Its absolutely wonderful: not too minty that it overpowers the chocolate, but not so chocolaty that it overpowers the mint either. Its amazing. I noticed that this year they have an Almond Hot Chocolate and an Orange Hot Chocolate that I'll be trying out too. If you really wanted to make your slipper gift special, why not throw in a can of Hot Chocolate with the slippers? Yummy chocolate and happy feet would be a wonderful gift!
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Diamonds and Crosses
This is a sweater that I made a while ago (I can't remember if it was last year or the year before). Its a really easy sweater both to make (no shaping) and wear (big and boxy), but I didn't enjoy making it. Why? Because I hated the yarn. Its made of Paton's Classic Merino, which has to be the roughest Merino I have ever felt. (The rest of this blog entry will be made from under the computer desk in fear of angry Canadians - please don't throw hockey gear at me!) I didn't like the feel of this yarn in my hands when I was knitting it and the only reason I didn't send it back from where I got it was because I had washed a swatch and did find it softened up a lot after washing - it never got as soft as Merino should get though, in my opinion. It also changed gauge after washing which is something I hate. The gauge change thing is the reason I dislike (with an intensity I won't get into now) superwash wool. I wasn't expecting this from a non superwash wool and it really ticked me off to have to work around it on this sweater. Once I finished the sweater and got it washed and blocked and sewn together, I was able to mellow on my feelings towards it, and now, when I see it, the thought, "I really hate Paton's Classic Merino yarn," just flutters through my head and I can wear it (away from my skin) without any other lingering bitterness. Back tomorrow, Gift Giving Friday (if I feel like its safe to come out from under the desk)...
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Here it is, the ultimate cabled sweater...Rogue. I love this sweater, I love the Celtic cables on it, I love the waist shaping, I love the way it knits up so easily because Jenna wrote the directions SO WELL. I can't wait for the weather to change so I can wear it again. Did I mention I love Rogue? I knit it from Jo Sharp's Silkroad Aran (merino, cashmere, and silk - take a moment to ponder the yummyness) in Quartz, the same smokey violet color as in the picture. I did not do the kangaroo pocket because I'm not a person who uses a kangaroo pocket and I decided I didn't need a double layer of sweater on my tummy. In my opinion, Rogue is the perfect combination of stockinette and something else (in this case, cables). There are enough cables to make it interesting to knit and enough stockinette that it knits up very quickly. I will probably knit Rogue again at some point, probably using Claudia's cardigan mods just for something different. If you've never knit Rogue, go get some yarn (KnitPicks Wool of the Andes and Andean Silk should both get you gauge and are very reasonably priced), download the pattern and go for it. Its a very well written pattern and you'll love the sweater!
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Its time to go back into my knitting history. I thought I'd do all my cabled things before moving on to something else. This is Cafe Bastille Cables from Interweave Knits. Its in a Fall issue, 2003 I think. Also in this issue is the DNA scarf, which was my first adventure in cables. I don't have a picture because I gave it to my dad though. The sweater is on the cover if that helps. I made this from Lamb's Pride Bulky in Blue Blood Red - gross color name, great color. I just love this sweater. I really enjoy knitting cables and with a yarn this bulky it's a really fast knit too. Of course this also means that I can wear this sweater on any Arctic expedition and not need to wear a hat. Its always important to have clothing ready for Arctic expeditions, you never know when National Geographic will recognize your photographic excellence (Virginia Carpet Dolphins anyone?). One more cabled adventure tomorrow, then who knows?
Monday, September 12, 2005
The Difference Between a Moose and a Moosie
This is actually a moose business card holder. This is a Moosie below.
A Moosie is a Bosworth spindle with the whorl made of Moose antler, which they shed naturally. No, the Bosworths don't lurk in the woods of Maine, waiting for an unsuspecting moose to stroll by, bonk him on the head and swipe his antlers. The mooses (I really think meese sounds so much better than mooses) naturally shed their antlers and the female mooses bring the antlers to the Bosworths so they don't keep tripping over them. Being male, they just leave their antlers wherever they fall and its really the only way to keep the forest neat. Then, Jonathan turns the antlers into spindle whorls, Sheila polishes them and lucky people like me get to buy them. I have wanted a Moosie ever since I first found out about them about a year ago and now I have my very own. It weighs about 1.3 ounces and has a tulipwood shaft. It spins like a dream (its a Bosworth spindle after all) and the pictures just don't really capture the subtle shading and tones in the whorl. The whorl has also been polished to a high shine. Above you can see the Moosie reclining in Kitchen Sink Batts (yeah, I still haven't spun these, I'm surprised I haven't felted them as much as I play with them). Below, you can see the Moosie's natural camouflage in action as it lays very still in some sheepy white roving from Nistock Farms (Cotswold lamb's wool and alpaca).
As long as the spindle doesn't move, it is virtually undetectable by predators. What kind of predators would attack a helpless Moosie you ask? Well, anyone who spindle spins should have one in their collection but there is another more serious threat within my very own household...Ramius. That's right, for some reason Ramius REALLY LIKES THE WHORL. He couldn't care less about the shaft (and this is a cat that chases knitting needles), but the whorl, well that's just cat candy. So I get to add Mooses to the list of things Ramius really likes for no apparent reason (also on the list are bunnies and alpacas).
Friday, September 09, 2005
Gift Giving Friday
OK, here it is the first Gift Giving Friday! I will give gift suggestions for things to knit for Christmas gifts every Friday, for as long as I can come up with ideas. I would love it if I could go until Thanksgiving. I'm not going to go count how many Fridays that is - no point in scaring myself. But, you're here for the ideas.
First one - Fingerless Mitts! They are doable for both men and women and kids might enjoy them also. They take only about 50 grams of yarn for women's sizes. You can knit them in plain stockinette in the recipient's favorite color, or just use a sock yarn for some interesting colors with no work. Noro or a yarn similar to it would work for these too. You can also make them really special by using handspun - it doesn't take much but what a way to share the love. Stockinette doesn't appeal to you? How about adding a cable on the back of the hand (scroll down to Tuesday for an example with a cable). Use any stitch pattern you like. Seed Stitch would look interesting for a man and how about a simple lace or eyelet pattern for a woman? Try using beads on the back of the hand - just use the technique in the tutorial I linked to Monday, you could do a pattern, initials, or just scatter beads across the mitt randomly. You can make them short on the arms like a mitten cuff, or make them long and dramatic, like opera gloves. You could probably knit a pair of these for everyone on your list and not knit the same ones twice. If you don't know the hand size of the recipient, just add some ribs to them to make them extra stretchy. You can try them on as you knit them, which will give you an idea of how long to make them but as long as you don't add little fingerlets on them, and just make them a tube with a thumb, they will fit. I love wearing them since I can still get to my fingers to do things but my hands are nice and warm. They are great for driving since they keep most of my hand off of a frozen steering wheel, but having my fingers exposed means I can still grip the wheel safely. OK, so now I've sold you on them, where do you find a pattern? Ann Budd's Knitter's Handy Guide to Patterns will get you going on any size, any gauge, and any kind of look you want. I use the mitten directions and finish it off once I get past my knuckles. Stitch and Bitch Nation has a pair in one of the Noro yarns with a leafy vine going up the back. One of the Sally Melville Knitting Experience books has some. There are probably free patterns on the internet, just Google it. So, there's my first idea for a gift. They are easy, fast, and endlessly variable to suit the tastes of the people you love.
Thursday, September 08, 2005
Last Call for Hollywood Knits
Yesterday I mentioned that I had knit one other project, inspired by Hollywood Knits (by Suss Cousins) but I had made so many mods to the original pattern, I felt it deserved a separate post. Here is that post. The original sweater is the last sweater in the book, modeled by Maud Adams.* It's a turtleneck made on monster needles with LaGran Mohair. It has bell sleeves, plain knit edging (La Gran doesn't really roll on you), waist shaping and a simple cable running up the front. I don't really like LaGran next to my skin and even with a cami underneath (necessary since the original is sheer) I knew I couldn't take that much fuzz. Also, I didn't want a turtleneck since they make me fidgety after a bit. Finally, I decided that her cable was boring and needed more ooomph. So, I needed to make some changes. This is what I came up with. The yarn is Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky, which knits up to the same gauge as the LaGran did in her pattern, so that saved me from completely rewriting the pattern. I had to add seed stitch borders since Lamb's Pride will roll and I didn't want rolled edges. I left the waist shaping - anything knit with bulky/fuzzy yarn should have some shaping so you don't look like a fluffy/fuzzy monster, at least I think so. I also changed the neckline into a wide crewneck/ slightly scooped boatneck (no idea what to call it, but you get the picture). Then I threw in a wider cable with more going on than the original and here is the finished sweater.
*Worthless piece of information: Maud Adams is the only Bond girl to be in two separate movies. She played Scaramanga's girlfriend in The Man With the Golden Gun and was killed pretty early in the movie, then she was Octopussy in the movie Octopussy and of course, lived through the entire movie that time.
Tune in tomorrow for Gift Giving Friday!
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Let's Do the Time Warp Again
Today's trip back in time gives you two different garments from one book. They come from Hollywood Knits by Suss Cousins. This book has lots of basically simple designs - great for beginners- but some good ideas too. The little black square at the top is actually a tube. I can't remember what its called in the book, but I call it a Turtleneck Without the Turtle. You can toss it on with a T shirt or any other top and voila! Your neck is warm, but when you get tired of wearing something on your neck, you just take it off. It can also be worn as a wide headband, and, for the spur of the moment bank robbery, just pull it up over your lower face and you're ready to go. Hey, you never know what the day might bring! Its knit out of Rowan Big Wool and GGH Apart, a really soft, freakishly long eyelash yarn, held together on big needles - 13's maybe. Its just a K1, P1 rib done as a tube. I think it measures 19 or 20 inches around and would be a really easy gift to do. After all, criminals are so hard to buy for.
The sweater below the neckwarmer is the one modeled by Kristy Hume in the book, but her's is a solid color. We're all about the illusion of boobs here at Pink Lemon Twist, so I put a contrast stripe across the boobal area. This sweater was also knit on huge needles - probably 13's here too. Its done with two strands of Brown Sheep Nature Spun worsted held together, in Platte River Blue (I think - don't hold me to this) and a creamy white color. The blue is actually more periwinkle and less gray in person than it looks in the picture. This sweater takes about 10 minutes to knit since it uses doubled yarn and monster needles, but its soft and really easy to wear. I've done at least one other project from that book, but I made so many mods to the original design, it deserves its own entry.
OK, in a flash of inspiration, I had an idea! Maybe on Fridays I should discuss gift ideas. After all, Christmas isn't really that far away, particularly if you're knitting for someone. I'll find some really easy and fast ones as we get closer to Christmas. What do you think?
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
A Trip Down Memory Lane
There is a bit of a problem over here at Pink Lemon Twist right now. You see, there's this project that I'm working on and its a secret so I can't post about it right now. I've been working on it for a couple of weeks now, but the time has come to devote every waking hour to it as there is a deadline that must be met. The problem is, since this is all I'm knitting right now and I can't show it to you, what does the blog do? Well, I checked and the blog doesn't know any magic tricks. It suggested Karaoke, but it sings off key so I won't put you through that. Then it came to me...I've only been blogging since Groundhog Day (totally underrated holiday in my opinion), but I've been knitting since 1998 or so. There are projects you haven't seen! So, I will dig out some things I've knit pre-blog and tell you about them. This leads me to a philosophical question...If it hasn't been blogged, does it truly exist? I'll have to think about that one after the caffeine kicks in.
So, first up on this trip down memory lane (this is not in chronological order - it just depends on what I pull out of the closet) are two pairs of fingerless mitts. You can see the left ones above. These were made late last year/early this year. The yarn is spindle spun from a merino/angora top (I believe it was 80/20 respectively) from Halcyon. I purchased 4 ounces and made them both from that initial batch. You've got to love angora - it weighs next to nothing! I knit the ones I'm wearing first, using directions from The Knitter's Handy Guide to Patterns by Ann Budd. That is the greatest book for general patterns and wonderful for spinners since you can pick your own gauge. I did do tiny little finger things on them and they are just wonderful to wear. After I finished the white ones, I looked at my yarn and realized that I should have enough to do another pair. I didn't want two pairs of white mitts though, so into the dyepot with some Wilton's (Royal Blue and Yellow if memory serves) and I got the wonderful, slightly variegated teal green. I decided not to do fingers at all on these, but I ran a cable braid up the back of the hand and edged them in seed stitch. Guess what? I still have some yarn left, but not enough to make a third pair of mitts.
Monday, September 05, 2005
Finished Mystery Shawl
I finished the Mystery Shawl last night. I really like the way it came out. This was the fastest shawl I ever knitted - taking only 1 month and 3 days to do! If you look at the pictures, you can see the edging looks slightly darker than the rest of the shawl, that was where I joined a new ball of yarn. Fun with handpainted yarns! I actually like it that way since the darker color is basically on the edging part - it makes it look like I planned it that way. Details below, but first, some pictures.
Here it is sideways - you can see the point here.
And here is a detail of one of the edge points and you can see the beads I added. The pattern was the Mystery Shawl from the Mystery Shawl along group (button in the sidebar). I used the laceweight pattern but added a few more repeats of Step 4 to make the shawl bigger. It came out 85 x I don't know - I forgot to measure that direction, but its plenty big. I knit it with yarn from handpaintedyarn.com in the Continental Blue color and it used about 1000 yards - according to weight. It was knit on size 3 needles. I also added some beads to the edging, just to give it a little bit of weight and I used size 8 seed beads and followed Deb's technique for beading that she posted on the Summer of Lace group. I loved adding the beads! The beads don't show their color very well in the picture (the yellow things are pins - ignore them). They are kind of an iridescent amber color. I will definitely be using beads again.
Also, I have found two more uses for crochet hooks. We've already discussed that they are good for picking up stitches and correcting mistakes in knitting, but they are also good for adding beads and for opening the bead packages without spilling beads all over the cat asleep in your lap while you're working.