Monday, September 20, 2010

Starry Starry Night

Not much of a show or tell this week, I'm afraid. I have been working religiously on Celaeno, but the first chart is 99% garter stitch so it's not very exciting to talk about or show. However, it is very exciting to knit, because beads are to be placed randomly throughout the garter stitch section. I attempted to randomly place beads myself, but despite years of evidence to the contrary, it appears I am inherantly unrandom. I downloaded a random number generator app for my iPhone, so I've been using that. I've been extremely liberal with the bead placement. I had so much fun for the first two repeats that I didn't even realize how heavily I was beading (I had my random number generator set out to max at 7) until I put it down and thought, wow...that's a lot.

I was watching Project Runway as I was knitting on this and I had a crisis of confidence about the "taste level" so I posted it to the Romi forum on Ravelry to see if I was maybe going a little overboard. The response was overwhelmingly in favor of holding the course, so I kept going. I've started spacing them a bit more as the rows get longer (and I run out of beads, and I actually like the way the blank spots give it character. I'm on the last repeat of the first chart - and on my last container of beads. Methinks I need to order more. A lot more.

I've been completely neglecting all my other projects, except Esplanade. I've reached the point where the ribbed brim is turned under and joined with the rest of the hat.

It's a fiddly but very clever process. Here's the inside of the hat, where you can see the hidden brim.

Very nifty, and now I have a big swath of plain knitting before I get to the crown decreases. Perfect for hockey knitting - the Caps have their first game on Wednesday. Unfortunately, I'll be at choir practice (also prime plain knitting time). Even so, there is a whole season of hockey knitting in my future, so it will be good to have some plain projects going. I'm thinking I will make another Esplanade in the reverse colors once this one is done.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Oh the knits you can knit

My beach weekend was fun, although far too short, especially for the length of drive we had to get there. Normally we go somewhere closer, but we were going with friends, one of whom got a deal on a condo, so drive we did.

Well. The SO drove. I knit.

And knit.

Then we stopped for lunch and switched places for a while. I drove for maybe three hours before I was too grumpy to take it anymore and we switched back. I knit some more.

We arrived just as I finished the last of the gusset decreases. I chose to work on this sock instead of this sock:

Knitting - 053

Or this sock:

Knitting - 052

Because I don't see the recipient often, and since she was going to be at the beach with us, it seemed to me a perfect opportunity to make sure I knit socks that fit. I was determined to finish at least the first sock before we left, so that I had something to measure the second sock against. Mission accomplished.

Yarn is Schaefer Heather in an unknown colorway. The person who is to receive this sock went to the Knit Happens closing sale, since it happens to be near her office, and bought yarn and gifts for all the knitters of her aquaintance. In return for two skeins of Schaefer Andrea, a beautiful little needle rollup, and a big bottle of Euclan, she asked that I knit her "rainbow socks" out of this yarn (which she also purchased). Seemed like a great deal to me.

Color isn't the best in these iphone photos, but these are in fact rainbow-ish socks. The red predominates but in between the red stripes there is blue, green, pink, and a little yellowy-orangey color. Not quite a full spectrum, but close enough.

Of course we visited a local yarn shop, and since there were two other knitters in the group (including my knitting mentor, she who taught me to knit without realizing what she was creating), it was a group trip. I didn't take a picture of the yarn I bought but I believe it was Mirasol Tupa yarn. I got two skeins in Sapphire and two in Viridian (I think - I don't have the yarn in front of me and foolishly did not immediately log it into Ravelry when we got back to the condo). I'm thinking of making a Textured Shawl and striping both yarn, so that each texture panel alternates in color. I hope that the two colors striped together will remind me of the ocean.

My knitting mentor was working on an Esplanade hat and I was so impressed by the cleverness of the pattern that I had her text it to me so I could look it up later. She in turn was quite taken with my Phoneix Shawl, so we traded pattern info.

One of my friends sends me yarn for Christmas from a handcrafting festival in Texas (I think it's this one but I'm not sure). Last year, she sent me two skeins of fingering weight, about 260 yards each, one white and one red. I've been unsure what to make with it as neither individually is enough for much, and striping red and white together can be dicey business (in my opinion). But, I think the Esplanade hat is perfect. I've already cast on for one using white as the contrast color and red as the main color, and I think I should be able to make a second one with the reverse color scheme. The yarn is very soft and beautiful to knit with, although I find it's not very tightly twisted, so I'm glad I went in a direction other than socks. I cast on last night (because clearly I don't have enough projects OTN) and knit the ribbing. Of course, I fail at following directions, so I forgot ot knit the two rows of stockinette I was supposed to do before the ribbing. The ribbing is hidden on the inside of the hat using an ingenious little trick involving a provisional cast-on, so I think when I undo the provisional cast on, I will knit those extra two rows of stockinette from that end before folding it up and joining it to the rest of the hat. Hopefully this plan will work. We'll find out.

But we probably won't find out too soon because Celaeno has been released! All other works in progress will be promptly ditched in favor of this shawl, which I have been waiting on for freaking ever.

Only one uses M1 increases heavily. I hate M1! I might just KFB instead, for the sake of my own sanity. I don't think it will make a huge huge difference in the look. I was so glad that it didn't come out while I was away, because I was so excited to make it I didn't want to have to wait at all, but tonight is my first choir practice of the season, so I probably won't get started on it tonight.

Oh, who am I kidding. I'll start - I just won't get very far.

Anyway, the other knitting I did while I was away was on the Phoenix shawl, and it doesn't look much different. I finished the fourth repeat, so I have one to go. My extremely dedicated sock knitting led to very sore fingers, especially my left pinky, so I switched to the shawl to try and use a different set of muscles. Next time, must plan better and bring projects that have a greater variety of yarn weights and needle sizes, so I can change up more effectively. But, even the change from a size 1.5 16" needle in the round to a size 4 32" needle flat helped. On the way home, we switched drivers more often rather than just swapping at the halfway point, which I found to be a great help in preventing both the aches and pains and the grumpiness of such a long drive. While it was the SO's turn to drive, I worked on the Phoenix shawl. I still love it, and I'm excited that I only have one repeat left to go. I do find Helen's Lace rougher than some other silk/wool blends that I've used, and after hours and hours and hours of knitting on it, one of my tensioning fingers is feeling a little tender. I wrap the yarn around my middle three fingers and then again around my index finger, so the yarn runs between my ring finger and pinky, and that spot is a little sore, so I'm trying to give it a break.

It's a little odd for me to have this many items in progress. I wonder if it's the fall weather, or just a general lack of discipline? I'm not going to worry about it, since it's not bothering me much at the moment. At some point, I will pass the magic number of WIP's that sets off my crazy meter and then I'll have to finish some stuff up before I go totally nuts. Generally speaking, I don't mind having multiple projects going that take up different types of knitting time. Mindless knitting that can be done while reading, slightly more intensive knitting that's still simple enough for TV, charted knitting to keep me occupied when the SO is playing video games. It's only when I get too many of the same kind going that I tend to really get jumpy. Starting so many socks at once was probably a mistake, but I think what will probably end up happening, is that the two that only have a little ribbing will sit idle until I finish the rainbow socks, and then be done each in turn. I'll just think of it as planning ahead, so I don't have to worry about spending time on the cast-on when I'm finished with the current pair.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Bonus post - I couldn't stand not being able to show the Phoenix shawl so I took pictures last night.

Knitting - 054

Knitting - 055

I am absolutely thrilled that the next shawl in Romi's Seven Small Shawls e-book subscription is due to be released next week. This is the yarn I plan to use.

Knitting - 024

Knitting - 059

Yarn is Fiber Optics Sapphire Batik. Her picture is much closer to the true color. My photos in no way convey what this yarn looks like in person because it reflects so much light. The colors are correct but they come off much darker in person, making it very midnight and very appropriate for a shawl designed to evoke the starry sky. There's a lot of color depth in the blues, too. I'm in love with it. I'm planning to use silver-lined grey beads on it similar to the ones shown, but these are size 8 and I need size 6, so I had to order them. Hopefully when I get back from my beach trip, I'll have my beads and the pattern release will quickly follow. I'm just dying to get started on this one!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Judgement Calls

I spent this weekend completely irresponsibly. I got a lot of knitting done, but I didn't photograph any of it. I thought about putting off this post until I took some pictures but...well. We all know how well that's worked out in the past.

Friday was pretty much a bust. I don't know if it was something I ate or what, but I felt awful all night on Friday. I really didn't get much sleep. So, I slept in on Saturday and spent the rest of the day on the couch - mostly knitting.

I have kind of abandonned my attempt to finish the featherweight cardigan and the Veronique cardigan. Not totally, but after being as frustrated as I was the last time I looked at them, I decided that they should not hold me back from casting on new sweater. So, I have begun the Simone sweater. I've finished the entire cowl and I'm currently increasing for the sleeves.

The beginning of this pattern presented me with a dilemma. The guage instructions were for a stockinette swatch on size 7 needles. As my faithful readers will recall, I got guage with size 9 needles, 2 needle sizes and 1mm bigger than the recommended size.

The instructions for the cowl were to start out on no. 10 needles. Now, it seemed logical to me that I should go two needle sizes up for this. The only problem is, the jump from 10 to 11 is not 1mm, it's 1.5 mm. An 11 is a full 1 mm bigger than a 10.5, despite the fact that every other needle size up until that point represents a .5 mm increase. I don't understand this. Anyway, it left me with a dilemma. The cowl was supposed to start on size 10, decrease to size 9, decrease again to size 8, and then decrease one last time to size 7 just before you begin the body.

I therefore had a decision to make, as to whether I would start with the 11 (too big) or the size 10.5 (too small). I chose to go with the 10.5. However, this left me with a problem, because I would go down as the instructions indicated from 10.5 to 10 to 9 to 8. But I didn't get guage with the 8, I got guage with the 9, so I need to end up with the 9.

I settled this by skipping one of the needle jumps. In the original pattern, you're only using the size 8 needles for three rows before you switch to the 7. So I just stopped decreasing the needle size when I got to the nine. If those three rows screw my guage so bad that my sweater doesn't fit...then I was doomed from the start.

Measurements on the cowl actually look pretty good; they don't exactly match the schematic but it's close. And, I figure there is at least a little wiggle room on the cowl, because it's the same size for all sizes of the sweater. Since there are at least three sizes larger than the size I'm knitting, and the cowl has to fit all three of those sizes, I'm thinking that I'm probably okay even if I'm a half-inch or an inch off (I think it's a half-inch, but I'm acknowledging possible optimism in my attempts to measure).

I was rather amused, because as I was knitting on this, my beloved SO was playing a video game on the couch next to me. Every time he looked over he would express surprise over how much bigger my project had gotten since the last time he looked. I had to laugh, because this is totally a function of guage. I rarely knit with anything heavier than fingering weight, or so it seems, and so this worsted-weight sweater appeared to be going at lightening speed.

I also worked on on my Phoenix Rising shawl, and here's where I'm really sorry I don't have a picture, because my love for this project cannot be described in words. The colorway I'm using is absolutely PERFECT for this shawl. It's very busy, but it truly does look like something going up in flames. The lace pattern is simple enough that the busyness doesn't really detract from it, and because of the way it slants back and forth, it truly looks like tongues of flame. The beads in the center pattern are somewhat obscured by the color changes, but they glint just like little sparks going up the center of a campfire, and the dimond pattern gives the impression of that swirling motion perfectly. LOVE. IT. It appeals to my artistic little soul.

I finished the 3 repeats out of 5 of the main chart. When I have multiple repeats to do for something, I always like to get past the halfway mark as fast as possible, becuase it's easier to maintain motivation when you're on the downhill slide. The flow of the pattern is actually pretty intuitive, so it's (fairly) easy to catch myself when I make a mistake.

We're going to the beach this weekend and we have a 10 hour (!!!) drive ahead of us. I will probably be required to drive for some portion of this trip, but I expect to have at least five hours of good knitting time there and back, plus whatever time I have at the beach. Normally I would not take a beaded project as car knitting, but because the amount of beading in this project is really quite small, I might take the chance. At the least, I will probably take it and some backup knitting in case I find it doesn't work out.

I'm also thinking it's time to get some socks going. I kind of gave up socks for the summer. I think this was mostly because I was knitting charity washcloths for a summer project, and washcloth knitting took the place of most of my sock knitting. I also haven't been carrying my knitting around as much since I switched out of my Jordana Paige bags and into my smaller summer purse. I'm not sure what else to take. It's not really cold enough to make carting a sweater around desirable. I'll have to put some thought into this. I don't want to go on vacation and run out of knitting!!! Especially not before the car ride one wants that.