Stacy Knits

Ramblings about knitting and whatever else crosses my mind

Monday, February 28, 2005

Tempting is done

I like it but am not as in love with it as I'd hoped. That's not the fault of the pattern, it was my yarn choice. I used Lion Cotton-Ease rather than Debbie Bliss Cashmerino, mainly because I wanted it this to be something I would wear during the summer. Cotton-Ease is pretty nice but a little too heavy for this project, even though gauge was fine. It's not as form fitting as I'd hoped, and although it's not unflattering, it could be better. I thought it would be okay because of the acrylic blend but I think a wool or wool blend would work a lot better. I also wish I'd gone down a needle size with this yarn.

Call me crazy but I'm thinking about doing the same sweater, lengthening the sleeves, in Cashmerino. It was simple, ribbing can be dull, but overall, it was an enjoyable project! I love the look and would love to have one in a more fluffy, cozy yarn.

It is pretty big at the top, in spite of decreasing 24 whole stitches in the yoke. I have really small shoulders and many sweaters hang off of me so I knew I needed to make it smaller. It was still too big until I pulled the ribbon tight. I ended up with a light blue ribbon instead of Kentucky blue because it matches a skirt I can wear Tempting with.

And here she is. You'll be able to see that it's a little bulky and not form fitting. Why do I look so wide in photos too??? And you can kind of see through the sweater because of the flash, oops! And excuse the wild and crazy hair, I try to give it a break from the flat iron from time to time:

Pattern: Tempting
Yarn: Lion Cotton-Ease in black, a little more than 2 skeins
Needles: Size 8, 29 inch circulars
Notes: I made the size small, a 32 chest size (I'm about a 32.5), and it was huge up top. I began decreasing at the edges of each sleeve by doing a K2tog. It wasn't hard to deal with the ribbing when decreasing, and you can only tell it's been doing if you look closely (and know what you are looking for! A non-knitter will never be able to tell!).

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Kool Aid Dying Part 2

My Kool Aid dying attempt teaches me yet another lesson: I don't have the patience to do this! I mixed up my cups of Cherry, Strawberry, Lemonade, and Berry Blue to attempt to handpaint my skein of Paton's Classic Merino. Ten minutes later, I dumped it all in the dish to be microwaved. It actually came out to an interesting purple color with some variegation (probably from where I did some color before giving up). It's cooling now, I'll post pictures later. From now on, if I try Kool Aid dying, I'll stick to one color since I do love some of the shades I've seen.

On an exciting note, I finished Tempting yesterday! I really like the pattern, although mine came out pretty big on me, in spite of doing some decreases at the top. I didn't do a gauge swatch on circular needles so perhaps that was my problem. I did it in Lion Cotton-Ease and am washing it to see if it shrinks some. As it, it's not unwearable, as the ribbon should hold the top up, but it's not as form fitting as I'd expected. I need to get ribbon this afternoon and will post pictures later.

I got most of Tempting completed during the Kentucky-Alabama basketball game. Since it was a big win for the Cats over a team that is definitely legit on the road, Tempting may be my garment of choice for the NCAA tournament. I think I'll get a Big Blue ribbon for it!

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Gifts gifts gifts!

AAAAHHHH, I got an unexpected birthday gift! I hit the big 3-0 on Tuesday and today opened up my mail to a package from Juls.

The yarn is super soft Schachenmayr (yes I had to look at the band to spell that right) Solero in a lovely light green shade (about the color of mint chocolate chip ice cream), a pair of Addi Turbos (!!!!!!) for use with this yarn, a couple of patterns she printed off for possible projects, and some beauty product samples too: Fresh Soda shampoo and Pomegranite conditioner and DHC Mild Soap. I love the DHC soap samples for travel and have been wanting to try the Fresh Soda shampoo! What a nice surprise! I haven't been taking this turning 30 thing very well but a lot of things people have done for me have made it better!

In other gifty news, my friend Chris wanted a new scarf for a trip to NYC. I made one for her daughter of bright pink Bernat Fun Fur for Valentine's, and she liked it but wanted something more sophisticated. Enter Crystal Palace Splash in Mink. It has shades of cream, taupe, and dark silvery brown (it reminds me of a Stila eyeshadow trio I have oddly) I knit this scarf in just a few hours over a couple of evenings (cast on 15 stitches, garter stitch until yarn is almost gone, made for about a 6 foot long scarf).

I have to say that I'm not a fan of novelty yarns, for the most part, and I'm a pink and other bright colors kind of girl, not a fan of neutrals. However, I confess that I hated to let this one go (if she wouldn't have paid me for the yarn, I may not have :). It's really pretty, soft, shiny, and slinky. The picture doesn't do it justice.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Kool Aid Dying for Yarn, Fingers, and Kitchen Counters

Lessons Learned During Kool-Aid Dying:
1. Wear gloves
2. Black Cherry Kool-Aid blends nicely with my kitchen counters

I had a small ball (maybe 50 yards) of cream Cascade 220 and happened to have 3 packets of Kool-Aid in my cabinet, left from when my younger brother lived with me last year. I decided I'd try dying the yarn to see what I could come up with. I used Cherry, Black Cherry, and Berry Blue. It went pretty well until I managed to dump a puddle of Black Cherry on the counter. Most of it came out. Never fear, it matches the yellow dye I spilled once while making candles. I should take a hint and give up anything with dyes. But the color has mostly faded off my hands.

I love how Berry Blue and Cherry look. Where the Black Cherry blended with the others, it's kind of an ugly gray-purple so I doubt I'd use it with these shades again. But overall, I'm pretty pleased and would wear a sweater made of these shades. I'm not sure I'm really that in love with the Kool Aid dying process though. I picked up a skein of Paton's Classic Merino and more Koolaid last night to give it another shot.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Law and Order, Cairn Terrier Style

In the criminal justice system, there are two separate but equally important groups. Er, okay, we're talking about the Cairn justice system of this house where there is only one person: the Mom that investigates crimes and the same Mom that prosecutes the offender. This is her story.

*ba bump*

The Crime:
In the living room floor, a ball of bright pink furry yarn Mom used to make a scarf for her friend's daughter was in shambles. Ripped and shredded. The criminal was merciless on this poor yarn and must be captured immediately.

The Suspects:
Investigation quickly led to two suspects, both with criminal histories.

Elly: Female Cairn Terrier, Wheaten, Brown Eyes
Criminal history: assault (on dogs at obedience school), theft (stealing her brother's food), resisting arrest (grumbling when being grabbed for bathtime)

Parker: Male Cairn Terrier, Red Brindle, Brown Eyes
Criminal history: destruction of private property (digging in the backyard), disturbing the peace (yapping his fool head off at the neighbor dog)

Both suspects were on the run but quickly located fleeing across room lines. They were questioned extensively.

Here is your opportunity to solve this mystery. You should examine the evidence and solve the crime. Who destroyed the furry hot pink yarn? The photographic evidence and mugshots are below (caution, photos may be offensive to those with well groomed Cairns)



This is corny but a little something I wrote to be published in Written in Stone, a fundraiser for Cairn Terrier Rescue after seeing the pile of shredded yarn in the living room floor and the "Cat that Ate the Canary" look on my boy's face.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Is Marilyn Cursed?

It was a big moment. Marilyn made her public debut. She (worn by me of course) made her way to my LYS (no new yarn to report, we went mainly for some cross stitch things my Mom needed) where they raved over her. They seemed impressed that she was only my third sweater. After that, she went for Chai Lattes at a local coffee shop and later out for Japanese food then to my aunt's to watch the Kentucky versus Mississippi State basketball game.

I had some big concerns as to whether she is a hex or not. Like most other rabid Kentucky fans, I am superstitious. I have a few unlucky shirts and am fully convinced that my friends and I had a crucial role in us winning the 1998 NCAA Championship. In the Championship game, we (meaning the team, even those of us who have never set foot on a court call the team "we") were playing horribly and down by 10 and were en route to losing. One guy got so frustrated he went outside to smoke. The team started to comeback and played great while he was out. When he came back in, we had a couple of really bad plays. He was forced to watch the rest of the game, on a chilly late March night in Kentucky, from the front porch.

Anyway, I worked on Marilyn a lot last Saturday during a game. We played horribly against a bad team even though we won. Tuesday, I finished her up during the game, and we LOST. Eek! Could Marilyn be unlucky? I wanted to show off the sweater to the family when we went over to my aunt's. After receiving many raves about it, I mentioned the connection, and everyone was concerned. I wore a shirt underneath it just in case I needed to take her off.

Never fear, all is well. We won the game convincingly. Marilyn is safe!

And I present, Clapotis

I think I'm the only person in the knitting online world that didn't fall head over heels for Clapotis the day the Knitty Fall issue was posted. It didn't grab me right away, in spite of the fact that the Knitty Clapotis was pink. Coupled with the fact that its name sounds more like an STD than a scarf (especially after I started calling it "the Clap"), and I didn't think I'd ever make it.

I bought 3 skeins of Koigu at my LYS's post Christmas sale in what else, a pink colorway. I'd intended the 2 skeins for the Knitting Club Hat from Yarn Girls' Guide and the rest for a matching scarf. I started this lovely lacy thing but when it took an hour to do 3 inches, I knew it wasn't the scarf for me. Clapotis however was starting to grow on me after some of the completed ones I'd seen. Off I went.

I am now a huge fan of "The Clap." This is a really great pattern. It's got enough variation in the stitches to keep you from being completely bored but yet it's easy to work on while watching TV. You don't have to worry about gauge or readjusting to make it the width you want. You just knit the increase sections until it's as wide as you want then knit the drop stitch sections until it's as long as you want. I've heard this pattern eats up the yarn and to get more than the pattern calls for if you want it that width. I had parts of 2 balls of Koigu leftover from the hat (which was worked with doubled strands) so I used one for the increases and knit until I was done with it. That way, I knew I would have enough leftover from the second leftover ball to do the decrease sections and could knit the length for the entire full skein I had. I did buy an extra skein, just in case, but ended up not using it.

And I love my Clap, and it goes great with the Yarn Girls' Hat I finished a few weeks back. And it's pink.

Pattern: Clapotis
Yarn: Koigu PPPM, colorway #213 (1 full skein plus close to another full skein)
Needles: Size 6
My Notes: the pattern calls for 6 repeats of the increase section but I only did 2 (or 3, I can't remember). Mine is about 6 inches wide and 50 inches long after blocking.

Pattern: Yarn Girls' Guide to Simple Knits Knitting Club Hat
Yarn: Koigu PPPM, Colorway #213
Needles: Size 9 (yarn held doubled)
My Notes: I had trouble getting the gauge the pattern calls for so ended up making the large size hat when I would otherwise do the small. I probably would have been okay with the medium. This one's a bit big (not too bad but I prefer hats to fit more snugly).

My Simply Marilyn Obsession

I came across Simply Marilyn a couple of months ago and immediately saved it. I hadn't done a sweater yet or any cable work so figured it was out of my league. I was obsessed with this sweater, even though it doesn't fit the model at all. I pictured myself at a ball in a pretty pale pink chunky sweater and white tulle skirt, with my hair pulled into a soft, slightly messy twist.

In reality, I haven't been to a formal since Barrister's Ball (a.k.a. Law Prom) my first year of law school 7 years ago (crap, I'm getting old). And I'd be laughed out of Lexington if I wore this get up anyway.

That didn't stop me. Off I went to my LYS's Super Bowl sale (where you got to pick a slip of paper with your discount from a basket from either the Patriots or the Eagles. Being a big sports fan but not giving a hoot about either team, I chose the Patriots for the obvious reason, their quarterback is a hottie).

I'm sure you'll agree, this tangent is worthless without pictures

The pattern called for 8 skeins of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Chunky. While this is super soft and luxurious, the price tag was a lot more than I wanted to pay for this sweater whose sizing I was unsure about (more later). I ended up with Plymouth Encore Chunky. I'd really prefer to use all natural fibers for sweaters but Encore isn't bad, and the Chunky was pretty soft. With regular Encore, I can get Cascade 220 or Lamb's Pride Worsted for a dollar or two more for similar yardage but my LYS didn't have a good, reasonably priced all wool substitute for Encore Chunky and I wanted to get started on it immediately! They didn't have a light pink either so I settled for red.

I was unsure about sizing because it fit so oddly on the model in the photo. The 40 inch chest size of the small was going to hang off of me. I have big boobs but small shoulders and a small waist (big butt and thighs too, a true hourglass shape). I did some math and cast on. Oops, I didn't account for cables taking up more stitches. Ripped it out. In the end, I used the difference of 4 stitches cast on between the pattern's 40 and 42.5 inch chests and cast on. After 2 rows, I hit the first cable. The only other cable I'd done was a couple of repeats on a swatch of a braided cable, not of this horseshoe thing. The cable was easy! The most difficult part was once you got up to the shaping, remembering that you have to keep in pattern as well as bind off and decrease for shaping in the same row. This probably isn't difficult for most people but I tend to have a one track mind.

For the sleeves, I cast on 4 fewer stitches, which was fine.

Once I got all the pieces done, it was time to do the big collar. I ended up with about 16 fewer stitches because of my various sizing decreases. I was pretty confident that the other pieces would fit okay but a little ansty about this being too small since it worked out to be about 5 inches smaller than the original. I didn't want the cowl to be huge and floppy. In the end, it worked out well.

It fits great, and I love this even more than the other two sweaters I've made! I really like the yarn too. It's soft and washability is a plus. I'd use it again in heartbeat.

And here she is, Marilyn! (this photo looks more cropped than it really is)

Look, I even got props in my friend Juls' Blog! GET YOUR BRAG ON

Juls is the only person I know who likes knitting and lipgloss as much as I do. She is a Cal grad who holds a healthy hatred toward the Stanford Cardinal. Given my similar hatred of another group of Cardinals, the Louisville ones, I have much respect for this.

On the needles:
Clapotis (in Koigu, colorway #213 which is shades of pink -shocking-, coral, purple, and blue. To match my Koigu hat from Yarn Girls' Guide)
Tempting (in Lion Cotton-Ease in black. Boring but washable and more summery than Cashmerino. I'm not in a huge rush to finish this. Since I'm making it in the cotton, I won't wear it here until April or May)

I can knit sweaters!

The goal for most newbie knitters seems to be the elusive and frightening sweater. The fear is that you will spend weeks or months of knitting all this expensive yarn on tiny needles only to have it fit your 6 year old cousin or that one sleeve will be 2 feet longer than the other. Armhole shaping, neck shaping, seaming, it all sounds so scary. Enter the Yarn Girls Guide to Simple Knits. I borrowed the book from the library and immediately fell in love with the idea of doing the cardigan pattern. Off I went to my LYS to buy yarn (Cascade 220, nice soft wool that isn't very expensive, great for a first sweater project, I thought). It was to be a watermelon pink shade (surprised?). After some gauge issues, I got to work.

It wasn't that difficult at all. In the end, it's not much more than stockinette stitch with some increases and decreases. I started the sweater in November and made it through the fronts and back and one sleeve in a week and a half or so. I didn't start again until January since I was busy on Christmas gifts in December. I redid the sleeve and learned something very important about knitting sweaters! Check your gauge from time to time. My last sleeve came out huge. So I ripped it out and did it again. My seaming before the sweater was horrid so I practiced on several swatches. It came out okay on the sweater. It will get better. And I love my pink cardi! I'm really short, and it's hard to find sweaters that fit well. This one fits great.

I highly recommend the Yarn Girls' Guide if you are intimidated by the sweater process. All the projects are about as simple as they come and nothing is knit on less than a size 9 needle, making them go quickly. They explain the shaping line by line which makes it easy to get your brain around. Now I've got it down for other projects.

My biggest advice to anyone else wanting to start a sweater is to go for it! It's not that bad.

I took advantage of my LYS's year end 20% off sale to buy more Cascade 220 to start Under the Hoodie from Stitch N Bitch. I changed my mind after swatching so returned the stripe colors for more of the solid to do Not Your Standard Issue Sweatshirt from Yarn Girls' Guide. I decided to knit the body in the round, following the directions in Stitch n Bitch Nation. Then at the armhole shapings, you begin to knit back and forth. It worked out well, and I love the hoodie. I finished it in about 3 weeks, although I was working on a few other projects in that time frame too.

I knitted this at a different gauge than the pattern (4.5 versus 4), to try to make it fit better. The pattern's size small would be overwhelming on my frame. Plus I don't like baggy sweatshirts (to wear in public at least). I ended up with about a 35-36 inch chest that gives me some ease without being oversized. It's so comfy, and I love it.

(it's really longer than it looks in this photo)

I love the seed stitch detail in place of ribbing at the bottom, the cuffs, and along the v-neck.

My Very First Blog Entry!

I've officially entered the world of knitting geekdom. I have a blog.

I started knitting in late 2003, after getting the book Stitch N Bitch by Debbie Stoller. That wasn't my first try! I'd fallen in love with a ribbed hat pattern in Real Simple magazine a year earlier and bought a bunch of yarn and books to teach me. The attempts lasted about 30 minutes until I threw in the towel. I can't stand to not do things well, and if I can't, I tend to give up quickly! A year later, I decided to try again. That same hat ended up being my first project. I didn't quite realize that your first project should be a garter stitch scarf and again tried the ribbed hat. I didn't understand yarn substitutions so I found a LYS and bought 2 skeins of Tahki Baby yarn at $15 a pop! That was pretty far from the Red Heart Super Saver I'd bought the year before. Maybe it was this amazingly soft, bulky yarn that kept me motivated to knit.

I finished the hat, and I thought it looked great, even though I'd messed up the top pretty badly. It looks more like seed stitch than a ribbing. If you aren't a knitter, you'd probably never notice. I got tons of compliments on my hat and still love it over a year later.

I didn't knit much through the winter and summer and didn't finish anything else. I picked it back up again in September and went crazy finishing projects and starting more. My second project was the Ribbed for Her Pleasure Scarf from SNB in a great coral Grignasco merino yarn. My favorite project of the fall: easily my pink Sophie bag!

This bag is a great project for a beginner that wants to learn to knit in the round and branch out beyond scarves.

Reading this first entry in my blog, you're probably noting how pink it is (look at the background in the Sophie bag photo, that's my beloved pink room that serves as my computer room. It's a bright salmon shade and was the first room I painted, just a couple ofweeks after moving into my house. Women flip over it. Men all have the same reaction, "well, it's pink"). The general consensus among my friends is that I am the living version of Elle Woods from Legally Blonde, complete with law degree, ditzy-ness, blonde hair, lipgloss, pink obsession, and dog in tow (unfortunately minus the trust fund).