Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Sad Tale of Woe

or....that seriously didn't just happen, did it? It's been over a month & I've just gotten to the point that I can talk about this. At the beginning of October I cast on for the Featherweight Cardigan. I knit it in black Malabrigo lace weight. Just to get this straight, that is a full grown, not so small woman sized sweater knit in lace weight yarn. That's itty bitty yarn for those of you who don't know. Black is also notoriously the hardest to work with because it's really difficult to see & read your stitches. I honestly didn't know what the big deal with the black yarn was until I knit this sweater, then I totally got it.

I am in a group on Ravelry that challenges you to finish projects in a certain time frame & I entered this project into that challenge. One of my worst qualities as a knitter is that if I get bored I often stop knitting on that project & it goes into that graveyard I showed you a few weeks ago. I figured this was a perfect candidate for that fate because the knitting was totally boring & there was A LOT of it. I was really proud of myself because I pushed through so that I could finish in time & I only knitted on this thing off & on for 2 months. I took a terrible cell phone photo to prove I finished it for my challenge:

I know that picture is crappy, but it was perfect. Classic. Black. Boring. I could see myself grabbing it up on my way out the door many, many days. It was literally the first sweater that I put on after I was done & immediately loved it. I usually am so sick of looking at a sweater that I made that it takes me until the next season to really like it.

It really did need to be washed & blocked to some extent so I put it to the side to do that whenever I got around to it.

Fast forward a few weeks as I'm packing for Christmas. I was doing laundry & needed my black pants, a black sweater, etc etc. So I went around the house & gathered all of the blacks clothes that needed to be you see where this is going? After the washer stopped I was pulling clothes out to put them in the dryer & my hand featherweight sweater. I knew it the second I touched it but I couldn't believe it was true. I pulled it out & kept trying to get my brain to register what I had just done. Oh yeah. I did wash it in cold water but with all of the other clothes in there, it just wasn't good. I put it on thinking maybe it wasn't that bad. Patrick said it now looked like a stripper sweater. The fronts shrunk quite a bit in width & the length, which I had made purposely longer but was still a little too short, shrunk bunches. I know directions for felting claim that you need heat AND friction, but I'm here to tell you that in this case friction was all it took. I knew the whole time I was knitting it that if I made a mistake there was no way to tear it out because this yarn REALLY likes itself. When I was picking up the stitches for the button band it had kind of felted together a little & I had to pull it apart. So it didn't take much for it to felt I guess.

This all happened 2 days before I left for the holidays & vacation, so I honestly haven't looked at the damage at any length. It's just....too painful. I loved it & I want another one, but it's going to have to wait until I can bear to think about it. Even though I loved the fabric the Malabrigo made (not to mention how reasonably priced it was), I think it's too prone to felting for me to do it in that yarn again back to back. Maybe a silk blend or something.

May this be a lesson to you all so you don't have to go through that!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Most Used Objects of 2009

Since I figured out how to make shawls work in my normal wardrobe this year, I thought I'd tell you about the things I made this year that have gotten a lot of wear & why.

Pattern: Simple Yet Effective Shawl
Yarn: 2 skeins of Noro Kuyeron Sock yarn

This shawl is hands down my most worn item. I guess it's no wonder that I accidentally chose yarn that goes with every single thing in my closet. It looks great with brown, any shade of green, aqua, pink, purple....yeah, about everything I wear except red or black. The pattern only calls for one ball but I did use two. My friend Dawn made one with one skein & I just didn't think it was big enough for me. I prefer for a shawl to actually cover parts of my arms, not just drape over my shoulders. This one fits the bill and I can either just let it drape, pin it with a shawl pin, or tie the ends to keep it on. Since it's wool it actually is warm - perfect for a little chill in the air or a breeze. I also wore it as a scarf over my outerwear & it worked well for that as well. Are you sold? You must make one right now.

Recently I was wearing mine and my 10 year old niece asked me if she could have it. I felt really bad about telling her no, but dude, it's 2 skeins of Noro & has to be hand washed. I did make her one of her very own though out of one big skein of James Brett Marble Chunky. She was especially happy that it matched her Christmas dress.

The other shawl that I have been using to death is my Clapotis.

I had been leaving it at work to throw on if my office was chilly, but I've carried it home a few times because it also matches a ton of stuff in my closet. The object itself is very versatile - it can turn into a shawl or scarf depending on what you are needing at that moment. I will admit the yarn choice is also key because these colors really work for me (Brooks Farms Solo). I don't think I'd get as much use out of the same shawl knit in orange, yellow, and puke green yarn. The unwritten rules of yarn buying pretty much eliminate this from happening as I'd never actually BUY orange, yellow, and puke green yarn. Naturally, no offense intended if that is your favorite color combination - I eliminated some buying competition for you.

My most used scarf so far this winter has been the Lace Ribbon Scarf. Again, the color choice made the difference on this one because I can put it on with literally anything I have on & that color is in this yarn. It's made from Misti Alpaca Handpainted Sock yarn in the colorway Bird of Paradise & that alpaca content makes it very warm. I also made it really long like the pattern calls for (which meant using 2 skeins of yarn), so I can wrap it as little or as much as I want. I love it!

I haven't gotten as much use out of my sweaters this year & I'm not sure why. I have a few that I really do like but I guess it's more about the weather. Either it hasn't been cold enough to need one or it's been so cold that I need more than just a cardigan. I hate having to pull a big coat over layers of clothes - it's just not the Texas (or Louisiana) way. My favorite sweaters are also admittedly not in the most neutral colors. My Central Park Hoodie is peacock / aqua & my Fylingdales is maroon colored. What I really need is a black, brown, or gray sweater since that is what I grab toward when I'm in a hurry.

What this post has taught me is that color / yarn choice really is key to a successful project. In the past I've knit objects out of curiosity and I've finally gotten to the point that I need to know it will be usefulness going in. I realize that sounds ridiculous, particularly to non-knitters, but it's true. As much as I like to knit interesting patterns that make the actual process of knitting more fun, in the end I'm more likely to use something that is boring to knit - particularly in the sweater arena. Sad, but true.

What is your most used knitted object?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

But did I do what I said I was going to do?

I set my knitting goals for 2010 but I haven't bothered to look back to 2009 & see if I did what I said I wanted to do. Let's see....

* Knit from books: I made 7 projects from books and 2 projects from my magazines, which I have never done ever!
That's less that I did the year before but the truth is, if I used any of my books & especially my magazines, I'm feeling a little victorious about that.

* Some sort of stranded knitting: This year I made the Opus Spicatum hat. I had taken an ambidextrous class with Lucy Neatby this year & I was determined to use those skills. I did enjoy it & I need to do more of it in the new year.

* Do more charity knitting: You know, I really didn't do much charity knitting. I did knit some chemo caps this year, but I pretty much fell down on this one.

* Do more baby knitting: Perhaps this is why I didn't do much charity knitting! I had several friends having babies so I did a fair bit of baby knitting. That is going to continue this year too. The Mom of one of those babies has already put in a request, so I guess the few things I made for her were a hit. She is also appreciative, so hey, I'm game for knitting for a Mom that appreciates it! This is a sampling of my baby knitting which means it's the photos I found most easily.

* Blog more: Yeah. Haven't done that obviously. I have started a write up about several subjects, including Stitches East. I still plan to publish that, I just can't seem to do it without telling every single detail. That takes a really really long time to write up!

* More sweaters: I knit 3 sweaters for myself this year & 2 of those were disasters in their own way. That situation deserves its own post.

* Complete The Sweater Workshop by Jacqueline Fee: Fail. I actually just got the needles that I need to that in the mail on Monday & have have my yarn pull out of the stash. I've been reading through the instructions & I have already learned some stuff, so I'm anxious to put yarn to needles & get it going.

* Yarn: I wanted to focus on some of my stash yarn & I did do that this year. That doesn't change the fact that despite all the knitting I did, I still have more yarn that I did at the beginning of the year. What that means in case you haven't caught on yet is that I bought more than I knit. Sigh. Sue me.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Finish It Already!

I don't think I'm alone when I say that sometimes, I just get bored with what I'm working on. I honestly don't know what happens in my brain. I get very excited about a new project & work on it like wild fire, then sometimes I lose interest completely. The situations are always different. Sometimes it's just that it's so dang boring. Sometimes I just don't know what I'm doing & I hate being lost - this is supposed to be FUN. Sometimes a new & shiny pattern / yarn comes along & has such a pull on my attention that the old projects gets dropped like a hot potato. Over time this pile just keeps bigger & bigger & bigger & bigger. This year I'm going to change all of that. I have heard some people make goals of finishing one UFO per month. That seems fair except...well...there aren't enough months in the year for that to finish mine up. I've heard some people say they aren't going to cast on anything new until all of their UFOs are done - dude, don't be ridiculous! I am all for goal setting, but this is knitting after all. It's not like I'm going to set unreasonable knitting goals & run my blood pressure up. It just seems silly to me. Everyone works differently, but that's not my style.

My Mom's number one marriage advice is this: when you are not liking your spouse so much, you have to think back to why you married them in the first place. What did you like about him? What attracted you? What qualities did he have that you admired? Well, that's what I am going to do with these projects. Try to remember what attracted me to them in the first place. Maybe I will be able to rekindle the love. For the projects - Patrick's still good in my book.

Are you ready for this? I'm about to show you my underwear drawer. I don't mean that literally, of course, but this is likely more embarrassing. I'm starting with the oldest first. Deep breath.

Noni Adventure Bag - Cast on March 2007

This is my oldest UFO on record. I put this down because the yarn was knotted. Yes, I know. I have since straightened it out & I only need to knit the strap & felt the stupid bag.

Trellis Shawl - August 2007 (photo for this link found on flickr taken by heywu)

Sigh. I want to knit this on larger needles but I don't want to frog it with the double strand & Kid Silk Haze going on in there. Ick.

Ophelia - Cast on March 2008
I don't actually have a picture of this is progress. I mostly stopped taking pictures in between because, well, I don't really care to see someone else's half way finished crap & I figure neither do you. I literally am finished this pattern but I don't like the fact that there isn't much of a sleeve on it. I want to add some sleeves but this is a perfect case of I don't know how. Well, that's not entirely true. I have some idea how but I'm scared it won't work out & then I'll be pissed & it will never become a real sweater. Stupid, right?

Misty Ike Socks - Cast on September 2008

I knit this one sock at a Knitting Fairy sock retreat. I then lost my sock mojo & it's been missing ever since.

Handspun Diagonal - Cast on November 2008

This is some great handspun made just for me by Kristina (and this is a terrible picture of it). The thing that I love about handspun in general is that it's pretty organic, not exactly the same all the way through. I knit this yarn straight from the 3 balls I had & didn't really mix it. I think it would look better if I mixed it up a little bit, so I am planning to pull it out & knit it over to do it justice. This yarn was so fun to work with I won't mind one bit having to knit it over. (Update - frogged 1/10/10)

Fit & Float
- Cast on March 2009

I knit this to use try knitting actual lace with actual lace weight yarn that was gifted to me. I finished everything but the bind off. Seriously. I just don't want to do it because it's a picot bind off & it is going to take forever. So it's been sitting on my needles for nearly a year. Lame, right? (UPDATE: bound off 1/13/10. It needs a major blocking, but it's done.)

Not So Striped Tshirt - Cast on April 2009

This is a tshirt out of the Spring/Summer 2009 Knit Simple magazine. I wanted to use up this cool bamboo yarn (Brooks Farms Willow) & I think this is a great use of it, I'm just bored bored bored with it - I'm a little bit further than half way through. It would be nice to finish this up before the weather warms up again.

Liesl - Cast on April 2009

I really want this sweater. I have tried twice & I can't get it. I'd like to think I'm a pretty good knitter. Other knitters have whipped this thing off the needles in 2 weeks. I still can't get it right & I'm going to frog this again. The really crappy part is that this pattern doesn't take much yarn so I don't have enough of it to make a different sweater. We'll see.

Triple S Shawl - Cast on May 2009

I love this but it got a little crazy with multiple needles & holders & cables. I need to get a grip on it because it's fun & goes really really fast. Plus it has a ton of my size 8 needles all tied up!

Happy Harlot Socks - Cast on May 2009

I started these to have something mindless to knit during the Yarn Harlot. I have stopped carrying them around with me & I'm not sure why because they were going really quickly. I think it's because I got to the heel flap & needed to think for a minute. They are also really cute & I want these socks. (Update - got these past the decreases so it's back to easy knitting/carry in my purse status) further update - finished knitting & bound off the full pair 1/13/10

Lace Sampler ala Franklin

After taking Franklin's lace class I went & bought this absolutely divine cashmere & started a lace sampler. It's a lot of fun but I also think it's going to be a long term thing. I picked it up between projects & I think that's it's place in my knitting life, it's just gotten lost in the shuffle. It's one of those yarns I never want to run out of because it's that nice to work with. And I will admit the "random" nature of this pattern goes against every fiber of my being. I'm trying though.

My So Called Hat
- Cast on September 2009
I finished the band, I just have to knit the cap part. I haven't because Patrick said it looks better as a headband & I should just leave it alone. I just don't know. I really don't look that great in a hat, but when will I ever use a headband & matching scarf?

Colonnade Shawl - Cast on September 2009

I didn't care of the two toned nature of this pattern so I started knitting it in a great variegated yarn that I had in stash. I am honestly not sure if I like it, that's why I put it down. I still don't know.

Moss Grid Handtowel - Cast on November 20009

Don't really like the fabric this is creating. I might go to the frog pond. (Update - frogged 1/10/10)

Lucy Again

This is my focus right now because I'd really like a brown sweater.

And then we aren't going to go to the place that I have bags that are finished & just need to be lined. Because that's just too much for me to talk about. This also doesn't include my 2 long term projects - my sock yarn blanket or my shawl that is made up of a trillion individually knit circles (really about 50 but it seems like a trillion).

Wow - that was really overwhelming. And I don't know where to start.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Ten for 2010

As I've said in the past, I really don't believe in traditional New Years Resolutions. In my knitting life, though, I do like to try to push myself to try some new things & not get stuck in the same old rut.

There has been a lot of talk about making a list of 10 things you'd like to try, learn, accomplish in 2010. Here is my list:

1) One project from Selbuvotter
2) Make an Elizabeth Zimmermann percentage sweater or design your own raglan from the workshop I took with the Knitting Fairy
3) Last year one of my goals was to do the Sweater Workshop from the book by Jacqueline Fee & it fell to the wayside. This should help with #2 as well.
4) My super sweet husband got me a share in Jacob's Reward Farm & part of that share includes a spindle. I want to learn to use it so that by the time I get my fiber I will be able to do it justice. If not, I will send it off to a fiber mill. I will say that this one scares the ever loving shit out of me. I really don't want to go down the spinning rabbit hole but it may be inevitable.
5) Work on my UFOs (Unfinished Objects for you non knitter types). I have by last count about 17 hanging out. I want to reclaim my needles & project bags & space in my yarn room for goodness sakes! The only reason I actually think this might happen is that I am making it my project for the Knitting Olympics. I am pretty competitive with myself for reasons I'm sure only a therapist could explain & I refuse to pay one because I don't care that much.
6) Knit with my nicer yarn. I'm not saving it for the Pope. That's all I'm saying about that.
7) Knit at least 2 sweaters out of yarn in my stash. I usually go straight for new yarn when I pick a new sweater project & that is RIDICULOUS. I have some great yarn in my stash & it would feel great to put it to good use.
8) Knit more socks. I have completely lost my sock mojo. With the recent freezing cold weather here in Dallas, I have really enjoyed pulling out a pair of squishy, bright wool socks to wear with my Maryjanes or boots when it's cold. I'd like to have more. How do you find your mojo?
9) Steek. Even if it's just a swatch. This is high on the list of things that scare the bejesus out of me.
10) Illusion knitting. This one should be fairly simple since there are some dishcloths out there, but I've just never done it. A situation came up recently where my friends & I all agreed that illusion knitting would be cool but I honestly didn't know where to start.

There you have it. My top 10 things TO DO in 2010. Here are a few other things I'd like to work on so I thought I'd list them here - if for no other reason than a reference for my own use.

* Heavier weight shawls - I find I use them more frequently than the lace weight ones.
* Ongoing book project - USE YOUR BOOKS, YOU CRAZY GIRL
* Knit a Moebius. I particularly like this one
* Learn some new cast ons & bind offs. I have a pile of Lucy Neatby DVDs, I should probably use them. Plus I truly love her.
* Crochet. I'll put it on the list for the third year in a row & see what happens.
* More charity knitting. Or at least have some chemo caps on hand because sadly, I am asked for them more often than I wish to need them.
* I want to overdye some of my existing yarn that I have fallen out of love with.
* A project using the entrelac skills I learned several years ago at DFW Fiber Fest.

The other thing that really struck me this year was my friend Dawn relaying a conversation she had with another knitter we know. She said that she has built a great base of tools & supplies that she needs & next year she is spending her knitting dollars on classes & learning new techniques. I so love this idea. I am not stupid enough to believe that I won't buy yarn because that's just silly, but I'd love to be able to hit every class I want to go to without worrying about the budget. I also want to take some sewing classes, but we'll see where that leads. Much like the spinning, I am scared to get tied up in another hobby which leads to other stashes (fabric, raw fiber).

So do you have a plan for 2010?

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Finished Projects in 2009

Every year I like to recap my projects from the year for my own reference. You are free to skip this post as I'm sure it's not interesting to anyone but myself.

January: 1 bag, 3 scarves, 2 hats
Tovesta Bag
Green Chunky Scarf
Asymmetrical Hat
Red Alpaca Hat
Alpaca Neckwarmer
Black seed stitch scarf

February: 2 baby sweaters, 1 adult sweater, 1 mini-scarf, 1 hat
Blue Kimono
Lily's Feb Baby Sweater
Rectangela Sweater
Flat Stanley Scarf
Le Slouch Black

March: 1 baby sweater, 1 pr booties, 1 pr socks, 2 shawls
Red Baby Sweater
Angora Baby Booties
Punk Rib Socks
Sunday Market Shawl
Simple Yet Effective Shawl

April: 2 hats
Lacy Pink hat
Pashmina Odessa

May: nothing!

June: 1 shawl, 1 baby dress, 1 pr booties
Felicia dress for Nadia
Sea Silk Aeolian
Pink Angora Booties

July: 1 shawl
Vortex Shawl

August: 2 shawls, 1 scarf
Wrap Me Up Shawl
Magic Shawl
Just Enough Pink Ruffles

September - 2 shawls, 1 hat
Autumn Leaf Pi Shawl
Opus Spicatum

October: 1 sweater
October Frost

November: 1 baby sweater, 1 hat
Little Frou Frou
Orvieto Hat

December: 1 sweater, 1 shawl
Simple Yet Effective Marble
Featherweight Cardigan

34 projects total. That is one more than I did last year, but I do know that this year I found myself knitting more difficult projects such as lace shawls. At the end of the year I'm always disappointed I didn't knit more sweaters, but man, they just take such a time commitment. Not to mention that this year I had issues with 2 out of 3 that I knit for myself. I also "got" the shawl thing & then was whipping them off the needles like nobody's business. I have been getting tons of use out of a few of them, so I'm really happy that I did.

Now on to the new year....