Friday, August 24, 2007

I've got the blues

blue fuzzy toes
Eek! Giant blue fuzzy toes!

I don't know how noticeable it is to other people besides me, but I am sort of limited in my color choices. I own clothes in plenty of colors, but most days I clad myself in some combination of blue and green. My wedding ring has blue and green stones in it, and I always laugh when I put it on in the morning because it looks like I planned to match my ring to my outfit, but I really just like blue and green.

Anyway, I made some blue things:
embossed leaves socks

Pattern: Embossed Leaves Socks by Mona Schmidt, from IK Winter 2005 (and from Interweave favorite socks, which is where I got it)
Yarn: KP Gloss in Dusk, less than 2 skeins
Needles: size 2 DPNs
Dates: 7/20/2007 - 8/20/2007 (?)
Modifications: I did a long-tail cast-on instead of the totally weird cast-on in the pattern, added a pattern repeat to the cuffs to make them longer, and reversed things on one of them to make them mirror image of each other:
embossed leaves socks

This was kind of an accident. My one complaint about this pattern (well, besides the unnecessarily confusing cast-on) is that the foot is supposed to be exactly X pattern repeats long (I can't remember exactly how many). I must have had a much looser row gauge than the designer, because I was making bigger socks than the designer and mine were the right size half a pattern repeat short of hers. So I had to futz with the star toe to get those purls to line up with my leaves. Then when I started the second sock I thought I would just start with the second half of the repeat so I could do the toe as written, and then they would be reversed.

embossed leaves closeup
I am a big fan of both the garter stitch border of the heel flap and the purl edging of the instep pattern. The garter stitch border nicely hides where all the stitches are picked up, which to my eye always looks icky on plain stockinette. And the purl stitches on the instep nicely hide how parts of the foot are always a little stretched out looking.

Verdict: love these socks. The toe was a bit uncomfy at first but I'm used to it now. The gloss started out deliciously soft and has softened up even more with a bit of wearing. I haven't tried washing it yet, so far I haven't noticed any stretching out, and there is some pilling on the bottom of my foot but doesn't seem any worse than any of my other socks. (I feel like ALL my socks pill at the ball of my foot. Maybe I'm just using wimpy yarns.) Anyway part of the point of these socks was to see if I like Gloss enough to make a Thermal out of it. I'm kind of thinking not. I'm still a little wary of the pilling and stretching that other people have talked about, not such a big deal in a pair of socks, but that sweater looks like it will take a lot of effort. I'm not so sure I want to make it anymore, period.

Here's blue thing number two:
hourglass sweater
P.S., I have short(er) hair now!
P.P.S., I always think I'm smiling, but clearly my pictures prove me wrong. What am I so pissed about?

Pattern: Hourglass sweater by Joelle Hoverson, from Last Minute Knitted Gifts
Size: the one that claims to be 37" bust, it really came out more like a 40" bust - about 2" positive ease, exactly what I wanted. Thank goodness I have learned to wash my swatches.
Yarn: Noro Cash Iroha, less than 10 skeins, plus some nameless wool/silk blend for the edging - I had made some very ill-advised wrist warmers out of this stuff and don't have the band anymore, I was only too happy to frog them when I thought of using the yarn for the trim.
Dates: 6/2007 - 8/2007 (I need to get better at keeping track of my dates.)
Modifications: You may realize that I am once again a total copycat. I loved the contrast trim and rounded yoke neck of Diana's version, so that's what I did. I also made both the body and sleeves a titch longer than the pattern called for, and added more increases on the upper arms because I really wanted to make sure this sweater was baggy and comfy, no negative ease anywhere.

Here's a better look at the rounded yoke and contrast trim:
hourglass neck

Verdict: Love. It. Have worn it every day since I finished it about a week ago. Has FAR surpassed the cabled turtleneck as the best sweater I've ever made. This is due to several factors: the delicious cash iroha is much softer than Cascade 220, the sweater is looser and comfier, and those dang cables are HOT. I forgot about how cables were originally designed for warmth, they weren't kidding! I think the cabled turtleneck is in the closet until the coldest days of winter (which, around here, means in the low 50s).

Here's the back:
hourglass back
Yes, my jeans have sparkles on the back pockets. Quit looking at my butt.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Learning new things

The summer of Rachel has been going swimmingly for the last month or so, but I think I'm starting to get a little antsy. Knitting is so slooooow. It doesn't help when you have a jillion things on the needles, a deadline of a few months after which you will be extraordinarily busy, and the view of making Christmas presents for everyone you know in these few months - yes, OK, almost everything that is currently on my needles is intended for myself. Shut up. I'm not very logical in my casting-on choices. Anyway, it seemed like high time for some instant gratification:


I made some jewelry! Talk about instant gratification, these guys only took me a few hours total, and most of that time was because I was really trying to cram things into places they were too small to go, or using the wrong tools. The shells I found in Costa Rica. These will all be various holiday presents, I'm not saying for who just in case they are reading this so there will be some modicum of surprise.

Then it was time for some semi-instant gratification:

first babette squares

I taught myself crochet! Well, Debbie Stoller and interweave crochet taught me. I had absolutely no interest in crossing over to the other side of fiber arts until I saw this. The Babette Blanket. And it was like the clouds had parted and angel voices were singing from the heavens. I had to have it. (If you're still not convinced, check out these bad boys.) I brazenly strode into my LYS and bought the spring 06 issue of Interweave Crochet and the called-for hook (when I got home, it turned out that the one crochet hook I own for weaving in ends was the same size too, now I own 2 size E hooks and nothing else. Oops.)

Incidentally, while I was there, I heard this other girl setting up a crochet lesson with the clerk. She was saying that she wanted to make the babette blanket but had only crocheted a few things before. I interrupted their conversation to inform them that I had never crocheted a thing in my life, but I was going to make babette too and I didn't need no stinkin lesson! I think I sounded a little crazy. (And I probably could have benefited from a lesson too, I had an hour or two of cursing and chaining things that looked like the cat spit them out before I finally got the hang of it.) Anyway it turned out the girl was Nicole whose blog I read occasionally, I saw her picture later on Ravelry and wrote her a sort of psycho-sounding message. It's a small knitty world!

Anyway, back to my babette. I was initially drawn to it because of its chaotic, colorful, haphazard kind of look. But it turns out it is all carefully planned and choreographed chaos. There are color codes, and charts, and more charts, all just to assign colors to their correct places. Phooey on that, I said. Also phooey on buying $300 worth of Koigu for a single project. So initially I thought it would be a good leftover yarn project. But there were still some decisions to be made. Should I use solely machine washable sock yarn leftovers? It seems like a good idea, but in practice I would have to wait eons before I accumulated enough. Ditto all fingering leftovers:
sock yarn scraps for babette?
Kind of pitiful.

Should I use all my yarn leftovers, gauge be damned? It's a blanket, after all, that would be OK. Or, another thought, I could use all my non-machine washable sock yarn. I wasn't sure I wanted any more hand-wash only socks anyway.

possible babette colors

These four are particularly nice together (I have a ton more of that peach stuff too).

possible babette colors

A final option could be to put out a plea on knittyboard for everyone's sock yarn scraps. By the way, don't you wish that designers of colorwork patterns would tell you how much of each skein you really need? At least approximately? I think babette calls for 23 different colors of Koigu, most of those in single skein amounts. But say you wanted to make it in 10 colors, would you still need all 20-something skeins or what? Maybe I can ask someone with a finished babette to weigh theirs.

Mind you, I didn't start thinking about all this until after I had already made those first squares. So, I don't know. I'm starting to see how spending $300 on koigu could make the nicest, most color-coordinated blanket (imagine one that was all different shades of green and blue! ooooohh!). But that is not feasible right now (yarn diet, yarn diet, yarn diet!), and even if it were, come on. That's ridiculous. If I did happen to have that much koigu, I don't think I'd want to blow it all on one blanket. I'm thinking mine is going to end up being pretty haphazard, because I can't really see a good way to make a conscious decision about which yarns to use.

ETA: There is a little interview with Kathy Merrick, the designer of Babette, over here, where she admits she made up not only the color sequence as she went along, but the square/size sequence too. Aha! Hege, you were right. Well, I don't trust myself to make up the whole thing from scratch, I think I will still follow the recommended number of squares, but will just wing it with the colors.