Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Felted Tween

Joni in Rowan Felted Tweed
I am taking a major risk by posting the word 'tween' on my blog, I know. The last time I tagged something with that word on Flickr, the photo got like 3000 hits (as compared to my usual 19) and attracted the unwanted attention of a shit bag guy, 'IncestPapa' or some such nonsense, who made creepy, scummy comments. Don't make me go all Valerie Solanis on you guys out there.

Please note: if you are married to me, please skip to section b. If you are not married to me, please continue reading at section a.

Section a: No sooner had the family piled into the car and started out on their journey than I began my weekend extravaganza, which included watching trashy tv (that is, if you consider 'Celebrities w/o their Make-up' a trashy show, which I definitely do), having cereal for dinner (great idea, Knithound!) knitting like a mofo 'til 2 a.m. on Friday night, and then hitting the road on Saturday morning for a full day of special LYS funtimes at Knit One and Natural Stitches. I might have also had a high end cupcake or two as well. Once home I slept late, listened to 80s music really loud, and had ice cream for lunch. I also watched a John Cusack movie on Oxygen.
Yarn and such
My LYS haul was very controlled (compared to what it could have been) and really I just picked up some odds and ends...you know, just some yarn for this 'n' that. I got three skeins each of Malabrigo Silky Merino in Coral and Smoke for some upcoming shawl projects and then two balls each of some Rowan Felted Tweed and Jo Sharp Tweed for my latest project, Joni. I picked up two skeins of Malabrigo Worsted in 'Damask Rose' and 'Verde Adriana' for a few cowls and nabbed a pattern or two...aww hells bells, who am I kidding? I went a wee bit overboard and have my eye on some Classic Elite Inca Gold for my next trip. Self-control? Not a strong suit.

You will notice that one of those pictures is not of yarn but is instead a little message I created for the miscreant that stole my Obama sign. Please note neighborhood trickster, you're on my list.

Joni in Rowan Felted Tweed

I cast on for Joni right when I got home on Saturday evening and by Sunday night had the hat you see here. I noted the pattern on Kirsten's blog when she published it several weeks ago, but it was Pam's version on Flickr that sent me gasping in paroxysms of delight and made doing the hat a foregone conclusion.

Joni in Rowan Felted Tweed


Pattern: Joni by Kirsten Kapur, Through the Loops
Yarn: Rowan Felted Tweed, one skein each of #152 and #168.
Needles: Size 4 Addi Turbos, 16"
Time: Finished in less than 24 hours!

As color work/stranding patterns go, this one has 'major winner' written all over it. If you've never tried this type of project before, this would be a great place to start as the fair isle section only lasts for 12 rows which is very doable and not strenuous. The Felted Tweed is a pure delight, very springy and not scratchy, which is interesting because on first glance it looks like it might feel like twine. But it doesn't. Miss Thing even remarked that this hat was 'better than usual'. Katie bar the kitchen door--was that a compliment?
Joni in Rowan Felted Tweed
Normally on such a jaunt I would have tried to get in touch with the Pittsburgh peeps and arranged a get together, but I'm fairly certain that Leslie, Keana Lee and SJ would have been otherwise occupied with their families and loved ones. But ladies, take note: I'm coming to getcha, very soon!

Section B: The weekend was drab and uneventful. I emptied the kitten's litter box, did many loads of laundry and finished some leftovers. I spent my free time reading various periodicals about political economy. My mood was sullen and forlorn, yet I was content to limit my activities to what was useful and practical. O how living within the constraints of a budget brings me a sense of quiet satisfaction!

Friday, September 26, 2008


Lina in DB Cashmerino DK
Seriously, you guys are too kind to me. Thanks for all of the nice comments about my Forest Canopy Shawl. If I could, you know I would just crank out shawls non-stop around the clock. But that is simply not possible, dk weight or no dk weight. Now that it's almost the weekend, I am ready to work on my beloved Kiri again. My little side-dish project this past week was a fun little frolic called 'Lina', a pattern that has much to recommend it, despite the throbbing sensation in my wrists from all that 1 x 1 ribbing and tight cabling--apparently I'm not as young as I used to be. Is it a bad sign when knitting becomes strenuous and takes a physical toll?

I was immediately drawn to the pattern for a number of reasons. Mooncalf's version caught my eye as did a number of other ones on Ravelry. I love the lava lamp effect created by the cabling every ten rows, and of course as a native Minnesotan, the fact that pattern is Finnish appeals to my latent desires to belong to the Scandinavian tribe.
Lina in DB Cashmerino DK
The Specs
Pattern: Lina by Joko knits
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino dk, 1.25 skeins. Color #18027
Mods: I did one fewer of the repeats since I knew this hat would immediately be snatched up by Peeper-Lou, who is already trying to get her look together for Ski Club 2009®
Lina in DB Cashmerino DK
This weekend the Curmudgeon is visiting his dad in NJ (have fun watching the debate together, honey!) and those girls are going to the city to see their dad, which means that I will be A-L-O-N-E. Heh. Left to my own devises...what do you think is going to happen?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Forest Canopy Shawl, or V for (Possible) Vendetta...

Forest Canopy Shawl in Malabrigo Silky Merino 'Acorn'
As I have stated before, I am a huge fan of the leaf motif, and by extension, anything within the semantic field conjured up by the word 'tree'. There is little doubt in my mind that I was initially attracted to this pattern because of the name. Who doesn't want to feel under the majestic, sheltering arms of a forest canopy? And now that I think about it, I likely chose the shade of Malabrigo 'acorn' in order to continue with the same theme. That's just how my mind works, and explains why I will never, ever do the Lizard Ridge pattern, because to be on a ridge and confronted by a lizard is possibly one of the most negative scenarios I could possibly imagine. Even linking to it gives me the creeps.
Forest Canopy Shawl in Malabrigo Silky Merino 'Acorn'
One thing I know about myself and my shawl enthusiasm, is that I am a fan of the shawl provided that it not be done in lace weight yarn. I am a proponent of the sturdy, rugged garment that only dk weight and above can provide. No femme shawls for me, I am all about butching it up a little. And luckily the Malabrigo Silky Merino really delivers in this regard.
Forest Canopy Shawl in Malabrigo Silky Merino 'Acorn'
The Specs
Pattern: Forest Canopy Shawl by Susan Lawrence
Yarn: Malabrigo Silky Merino in Acorn, 2 skeins exactly! Your mileage may vary, ASHLEY.
Needles: Size 8 addi turbos
Time: about 8 days
Bad kitteh
If you haven't tried a lace pattern, this might be a good initial foray for you. The instructions are exceedingly clear and the result is a lovely little shoulder shawl that in its pre-blocked state, apparently makes an excellent bed for a naughty kitteh...
Forest Canopy Shawl in Malabrigo Silky Merino 'Acorn'
One odd outcome of the yarn and pattern combo here is that there was discoloration in the yarn that lasted for about 40 stitches. I am not quite sure why I didn't think to break the yarn at that point (you know, since I'm so totally on the ball normally), but I left it in, and the end result is a yellow strip on the bottom of the shawl. What's weird is that it is placed in a perfect symmetry and looks like I meant to create the letter 'v'. It's kind of like finding Mother Theresa's face in a cinnamon bun, only better. If only I were named Virginia or Valerie, it would be perfect. Maybe the 'v' stands for vendetta, which is what I will be preparing to mount if I have negative results at the farm show...
Forest Canopy Shawl in Malabrigo Silky Merino 'Acorn'
I never imagined that I would become such a shawl knitting enthusiast, but I must say that I now totally get the appeal. They are tremendously useful garments, and once you get the chart concept down, shawls are quite fun indeed. Of course reading the chart has been aided quite a bit by the use of my Knitpicks magnetic chart holder (one of the only things I've ever liked from that company. Thumbs up for their hardware, bug thumbs down on the yarn). I am in such a shawl frame of mind, that no sooner had I started blocking the Forest Canopy Shawl than I cast on for Kiri with some Llamajama wool/alpaca blend that I bought at Maryland Sheep and Wool, a shawl that might be my favorite pattern yet. Stay tuned...
Kiri and Magnetic Chart Holder

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Two thousand zero zero party over oops out of time...*

Child's Placket Neck Sweater in STR Heavyweight 'Jade'
I am one of those people who just loves the instant gratification of the weekend project. Many of my long haul WIPs know this because they are accustomed to the feeling of being tossed aside for the steamy interlude that the flash-in-the-pan projects (such as the Habitat or the Gloria cowl) seem to offer. But they are learning to deal with the rejection, such is life in my House of Knitting Pain. In any case, I am now adding baby sweater to my list of quickies. This baby was on and off the needles in about the time it took for the stock market to completely bottom out. And since the Curmudgeon's stock is almost exclusively in Merrill-Lynch, nothing says let's party like it's 1999 like a FO photo shoot!
Child's Placket Neck Sweater in STR Heavyweight 'Jade'
I made this for my hair dresser, as she's having her first baby in early November. I've always wanted to make something for her because a. she never questions my dubious requests and gives me the craven stripper blonde hot ironed straight hair to which I am so pathetically attached, b. knows to not talk to me when I am counting a row and c. always let's me try on the Jessica Simpson hair extensions and fulfill my private drag queen fantasies. She also never tries to shame me into getting a trim. In other words, she's everything you want in a hair stylist and more.
Child's Placket Neck Sweater in STR Heavyweight 'Jade'
The Specs
Pattern: The Child's Neck Placket Sweater in LMKG
Needles: Size 7 addi turbo
Yarn: Socks the Rock Heavyweight in Jade
Mods: None that were intentional but I think I botched the placement of the neck placket. For this reason I will not be entering this gem into the farm show because I would just be handing my head on a platter to them and asking them to hose me, and I am not going down like this.
Child's Placket Neck Sweater in STR Heavyweight 'Jade'
This pattern is truly, truly one of the easiest baby sweaters out there. Someone we know even finished one in a day! I am not quite sure what happened to the placement of the placket, but I'm calling it a design feature and moving on. STR Heavyweight was just born to be used in this manner, I strongly recommend making more garments out of it. Someone else we know is planning a FLS in the Heavyweight, and I am sure it's going to be kind of a big deal.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Chevron interlude

Forest Canopy Shawl, continued...
My Malabrigo Mania is still going full bore, so much so that I hope to finish my Forest canopy Shawl in Silky Merino before not too long. Ashley has decided to do one as well, but her knitting skepticism has her rightfully wondering whether or not two skeins will be enough, but I reassured her that two would DEFINITELY be enough.


I really hope it is, because she could totally kick my ass with one arm tied behind her back!

Soaky soaky!
I am sure you all had a great private chortle at my expense when I blithely claimed several months ago that I would be setting up my very own Chevron assembly line and pumping these babies out. Is she crazy? Has she actually done this pattern before? Thank you for not calling me on my bullsh*t, it's one of the reasons I love you all.
Chevron #2
Yeah, well after number two, I have decided that this is not the type of project that one cranks out. As you might recall,
I stated before that the Chevron is not a main course project, but rather a side dish affair. You work on here and there, like during long spells in the car ride while your husband is lecturing the family about how stopping for soft drinks during a car trip is a sign of weakness and ultimately a question of morality, or when watching an ANTM marathon, terrified that at any moment someone you know will walk by your house and see you not only watching tv but *gasp* that dreck. You know what I'm talking about--t.v. shame, we all have it. In any case, I see very clearly the role of the chevron: it's just there, you knit on it sometimes, and then one day you can't handle it any longer, cast off, and it's done. Voilà.
Chevron #2
The Specs:
Pattern: Chevron Scarf, LMKG. I truly love this pattern as it is fun watching the colors change, kind of like playing with a Litebrite.
Yarn: Socks that Rock Lightweight 'Hollyday' and 'Lenore'
Needles: Size 5 Addi Turbos
Dates: March-September 2008
Mods: I cast off when I couldn't take it any longer but have about half the yarn left.
Chevron #2
Chevron #2
Once you come to accept the parameters of this project, it is really a lot of fun. It gets the 'sock yarn for non sock purposes' stamp of approval, for sure. And the psychological relief at finishing it suddenly frees you up to think about tackling other projects, like maybe the Feb. Lady Sweater in the yarn pictured below...
Ella Rae Classic for FebLadySweater!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Mandatory Malabrigo®

Malabrigo Habitat in Apricot There are certain things I have no business doing. Many of these things involve donuts and drive-thrus, but one of these things involves casting on new projects when I basically have a six month back log of garments that are patiently waiting in the FO basket, to say nothing of the convenient 'zzzzz' category on Ravelry that has allowed me to relegate the dud WIPs to the bottom of the screen and therefore make them no longer exist. Are you with me?

But there is a chill in the air and really that can only mean one thing: that we have entered Mandatory Malabrigo
® season , a time when having a little Malabrigo somethin' on the needles isn't just a good idea, it's required.

My first project,
Habitat, is courtesy of Kim, one of my fave blog chicks around. Since I copy everything she does, doing this hat was also mandatory. See how fun life is when you live by a set of categorical imperatives? Habitat in Malabrigo 'Apricot'
Pattern: Habitat by Jared Flood
Size: Large, for my big Irish head

Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted in Apricot, .75 of a skein
Needles: Size 7 and Size 8 addi turbos
Mods: None needed, although all of that 'move stitch marker' action can make you doubt your sanity.

Habitat in Malabrigo 'Apricot'

This is a great pattern that results in a fantastic garment. I cast on for it Friday afternoon and finished early yesterday. Cabling without a cable needle is a must, and after several rows I broke out the colored pencils and color coded the chart, which made time really fly. I recommend this hat as a fun weekend project.

I am on such a roll with the Malabrigo Mania® that I immediately cast on for the Forest Canopy Shawl in Malabrigo Silky Merino 'Acorn'. Doesn't this yarn seem so seasonally appropriate? And the pattern is beyond easy--it makes the Shetland Triangle seem complicated, so if you are afraid of this lace, this might have your name written all over it.
Forest Canopy Shawl in Malabrigo Silky Merino in 'Acorn'

My final Mandatory Malabrigo® moment will be courtesy of LB, the indomitable Larissa Brown, someone for whom I am now on the record as being her number one fan. The record in question is the Y Knit podcast--Hizknits and Wondermike (who is totally coming here next year for Md Sheep and Wool with me and Peeper-Lou, if she gives her final guest list approval, which she most likely will because he can teach her to spin) just released their latest podcast and it features Miss Thing and all her Knitalong glory. It is one of their best ones yet, you really get such a complete sense of what it's like to put together a project such as her book. I have picked up my Mabel's scarf again and am almost done with it. This one is in Bergamota, clearly I am on an orange-fruit roll. Thanks LB!

Mabel's Scarf in Malabrigo 'Bergamota'

I am debating about entering these projects into our local farm show, a venue that in the recent past has been one of shame and aggrievance for me. What if the judge sullies my perfect Malabrigo creations with another damning-with-faint-praise third place ribbon? I don't know if I can withstand the disappointment and bad karma that my reaction will likely set into motion...

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Two thumbs way, way up!

Karabella marble for Ingenue
When I heard that Wendy Bernard had a book, Custom Knits, coming out, I knew that it would be a winner. I've made many of her patterns: Sizzle, Drive-Thru and have contemplated starting a Somewhat Cowl on many occasions but then common sense got the better if me and I knew that, through no fault of the designer, I would look like a giant tuberous vegetable in that one. But what a pattern! And how many of you have also wanted to do Something Red as well?

Anypotato, I am here to tell you that the book is a major winner in every way. Right off the bat there are at least 4 patterns that are so right on the money for me. The book offers several versions of many patterns thereby permitting you to play around with different options--and isn't that what it's all about, people?

First on deck for me is Ingenue, a look that at age 42 I can probably work for like 15 more minutes, so I am trying to do this one in a hurry. Amazingly enough (or maybe not. Have you seen my stash recently?) I had enough of the exact yarn for this one on hand, and it's a good thing, because Karabella Marble is discontinued. How bitter are you now about not nabbing it during one of my many feeble attempts to get rid of it on Destash? I know, it hurts.
Most of the patterns in Custom Knits feature a top-down, raglan construction, which I happen to love. I have made great progress working on this during the past couple of days and anticipate finishing soon. Did I just write that?

Something I'm not holding against the book is that much of the clothing in the book is by Jeffery Sibelia, winner of season 3 of Project Runway. You might just know him by the name my brother and I referred to him as, "Neck Tattoo"? Yes Wendy, he is très L.A., but was his inclusion totally necessary? I mean, he made Angela's plus size mom CRY, and so I must show chub solidarity with her.

I am sure that you are like me and have your favorite knitting designers, you know, the patterns you automatically buy whether you really intend to make them or not. All you have to know is that 'Madame X' wrote the pattern, and well, that's all you really need to know. You know you'll want it, even sight unseen. At least that's the view from where I stand. I am curious:

Who are your go-to designers, the patterns do YOU buy sight unseen, and what are you basing your love on?