------------------------------- ------------------------------------ On and Off The Needles

Monday, January 30, 2006

Like Yarn through the Needles....

I sported my spiffy, blocked, comfy-cozy Hourglass yesterday! It fits perfectly, and it was very comfortable next to my skin. With seeing how great it fit, I'm tempted to make another if I find about 1100 yds of a great yarn. I may (emphasize may) be tempted to use the 501 in my stash if I could do a gauge adjustment project. We'll see. Backburner project for later (though it would be perfect dog show knitting - endless stockinette!)

The heart sweater got washed, dryed, labeled, wrapped and gifted all in 24 hours! S's mom loved it, and when I arrived at their house before the party, S was sporting the striped sweater I made her last year. For grins, we laid out both sweaters to see if there was a size difference. I have to say, if there was 1/4" difference it was a lot. It should be a perfect fit. I think next year I may do a cardigan for her. Something cute with a hood. And, not in a cotton blend! Two of those is plenty, though the one from the Lily yarn I made last year is wearing like iron!

My sister and I made cupcakes for the party. S wanted Miffy, so Miffy she got. We made little chocolates for each of the cupcakes. Thank goodness she is a simple line drawing! They were pretty darn fast and easy, and S ate 4 of them before the night was done. They were quite a hit.I finally finshed the first Sockee. I have had a bunch of gift knitting on the needles and have woefully negelected these socks. I am enjoing them when I have had time to knit on them. The 2nd should go quicker than the first. I also wanted my sister to try them on before I started my decreases just to make sure. After these, my sock stash is down to nil. Scary. I am planning in the back of my head to buy a pound of Kona from the co-op. Then I can do some serious dying!

The placket neck is done. I decided after knitting it not to do a placket, but just a slit or slight v neck. M isn't a fan of "stuff" around his neck, so I was afraid the placket may be too high. I'll do the same K3P2 ribbing around the neck. I had to make a few modifications to the stitch count to get it to come out divisible by 5, but it was only adding 2 stitches in the end. The color is great, the cotton ease I'm getting less fond of the more I knit with it. It splits a bunch, but you can't knock the ease of care. I think after this project I am officially done with it for a bit until I recover from cottoneaseitis. I still have a bunch in the stash, but I am going to trade off some of the colors I don't think I'll use.

I swatched for the Outback Hoodie, cast on and did about 3 rows of the back ribbing.

I love the colors! Very me.

The mailman was also very good to me on Saturday. I got a bunch of stuff I traded for over on the Knittyboard. From Catherine I got 2 pattern books I have been coveting for as long as I have been knitting. Patons Street Smarts and Chunky Knits.

There are a few Street Smart patterns I want to delve into, and the cabled hoodie in Chunky Knits that cosmicpluto mentions here. I think between these 2 books, I have about 4 sweaters to make! It will give me a nice list for MD in a few months. And, if not, I still have my Elann vouchers, and have been itching to try some Highland stuff - not sure which one though. I also got a ball of Wool Ease sport weight which is destined for a pair of comfy socks. It's nice to get yarn with a plan attached already!

Another trade yeilded me 6 skeins (3 purple, 3 light gray heather) of Patons Country Garden DK. Another pair of socks and/or handwarmers for that stuff. I love trading! It has been nothing but great stuff!

My first agility match is this Thursday and Friday. I'm really excited. Tucker and I have been doing some practice runs this week, and I have been working hard on him getting his weave poles. He won't have them 100% by the match, but that's ok. Practice makes perfect.

Friday, January 27, 2006

The Next Big Thing?

I finished seaming S's heart sweater last night. A trip in the wash/dryer today and it will be ready to wrap. I made labels following Grumperina's directions, and they came out really cute. Good thing the hubby is good with Photoshop! I'll post a picture after I sew it in tonight.

M's red sweater is coming along. The body and one sleeve are done. Let me tell you - Cotton Ease and bamboo DPN's just don't mix. The yarn sticks to the needles way too much. Grab central. Luckily, they are tiny sleeves and only take a night to do. I should have the sweater done this weekend. (then maybe I can start working on the sockees again! The poor things have been neglected as of late!)

In pondering my next sweater project, I wanted to a) use up some of my stash and b) wanted something comfy that I could wear often. The sweaters I have made to date are great for their purpose, but aren't "everyday" wears. Banff and Top Secret are super warm, and Hope is a bit cropped, and a spring/fall wear. I do wear my Dolman quite a bit, so I wanted something similar weight.

The Outback Wool I got at MD S&W last year for $4/skein has been languishing in the stash, so I decided that it should be the next to be knitted up. Since it's varigated (pretty pink/brown tones) it had to be something relatively simple. I'm also limited by the yardage I have (3 400yd skeins) as it is discontinued and I can't get any more. I looked at doing the "Not Your Standard Issue Sweatshirt" from the Yarn Girls' Guide to Simple Knits, but I already have the yarn and pattern for the very similar if not the same Cynthia hoodie from Berroco. So, I browsed my pattern spreadsheet (yes, I am that organized) by gauge and found this cute hoodie from the recent Fall 2005 VK. It is cute and just a little different with the low V neck and ribbing. I think it may be ok in the varigated yarn also. So, right now, that is the main contender. I do still have to do my gauge swatch and see if it was meant to be. Hopefully it will be on the needles this weekend.

I joined Lolly's Project Spectrum. It looks like a nice way to incorporate new colors into my days - and it doesn't have to be knitting! I have been itching to do some dying, so that may be March's task with the red theme. I love using color, and it should be fun to see what other people do!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Just A Little Seaming

The heart sweater is done! I just have to seam the sides and the bottoms of the arms. The neck was easy thanks to my handy dandy 12" circular! Luckily it was just the size I needed as I used the same needles for this as I did for my hourglass. I think after a good run through the washer and dryer the stitches will even out a bit. Pretty darn cute!

I also worked some on the M's red sweater. I am done with the body, and cast on to my DPN's for the first sleeve. It is the exact same construction as my Hourglass, everything in the round, which is nice. The sleeves are going to be a bit slower going on the DPN's. The bamboo catches the yarn and has a bit too much grip. I may see if I have an old metal pair laying around (I had a few I inherited) or just do Magic Loop with my Denises. I think it will make it go quicker.

I am so itching to start another pair of Jaywalkers. I love the first pair I did, and the pattern was great and fit perfectly. My only problem - no yarn! I literally have no sock yarn in my stash right now! I have a few skeins up for sale/swap as I don't think I'll ever use them, but other than that, my sock stash runs dry.

Browsing through Ebay a few weeks ago I found a seller called "The Knotty Sheep". She has some great handpainted yarns, and I loved how they were varigated and didn't look stripey at all. I emailed her asking if she had any orange or yellow in the works (I have been DYING for a fire themed pair of socks!) and we had a great email exchange and she will dye some up for me when she gets her yarn shipment in! Yipee! She was really nice and friendly, and I can't wait to get the yarn. Of course, you will see it here when it appears at my door.

We had a quick snow last night - only about an inch or so. At least the roads were only wet this morning, not like Monday when it took me 4 times longer than usual to get to work in the morning!

Last night was our first night with only 2 dogs in about three weeks! It was very quiet and a little more empty. It was so much fun having the six dogs - a bit chaoitic, but very entertaining! Now, to clean the house....

Monday, January 23, 2006

Stash Reduction!!

I just posted a link over there on my sidebar for a bunch of yarns I'm willing to part with, and my friend Heather cleaned out her stash as well, so it's a combined reduction! 2 for 1 deal! Go take a browse!

Knitting news: S's heart sweater is done, it just needs to be seamed up, and the neckline picked up and knit.

I started M's placket neck pullover (from LMKG) - going pretty quick in the round. I changed the border to a K3P2 ribbing instead of seed stitch. I did seed stitch on S's and I wanted something a little different! Pics coming soon.

I'm almost ready to start the toe decreases for Sockee #1! Yipee!

Friday, January 20, 2006

2nd Try's a Charm!

I ripped out S's sweater front and started the intarsia again - just a heart. It is going much better, and with only three balls of yarn to deal with, I can concentrate a bit on getting the technique right. I did about 1/2 the chart last night, so I should be able to finish up tonight, then sew it together this weekend and pop it in for a wash. I noticed the Honeymoon Cami I did out of Cotton Ease got much softer and bloomed a bit after a run through the washer and dryer.

All the thrift sweaters are now pulled apart -

Purple Gap Sweater

Long Merino Sweater

Chunky Winter White Gap Sweater

The long merino sweater yeilded about 2500 yards! We weighed a small skein and extrapolated from there. The chunky winter white is interesting stuff - it must be a 15 or 20 ply yarn - here is a close up:

It is incredibly soft and cushy. It is merino/lambswool/mohair. Not very "hairy" but it looks like it is going to be very splitty when knitting with it. I think it is destined for an adventure with some Kool Aid. I've been wanting to do some dying, and this stuff is just right. I can make a nice cozy scarf or mittens (or both!). All in all, the 3 sweaters cost me about $10. Not bad.....

Hourglass is DONE except for blocking. I ended up doing a simple single crochet border at the neck. I did the knitting to do the sewn hem that the pattern instructs, but I just didn't like the bulk up there. I ripped back and just did the crochet. My first time crocheting! It was pretty darn easy, and made a nice firm edge. Can't wait to wear it this weekend!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Learning Something New

So I started the front of S's sweater - I did the seed stitch edging, and did about 2 1/2" and then started the chart I had made. Following the chart - no problem. Knitting it, that is another thing. I had 5 balls of yarn going, and some of the floats were a bit long. I think I may need to go back to doing the heart (only 3 balls required there) and get the hang of twisting the yarn and keeping my tension even before I delve in a bit deeper. I think the heart will be really cute, and I may just try the S one more time before abandoning it. I have until Saturday the 28th to finish it, and the back only took me 2 nights of knitting, so I think I may just try it again. It's keeping all the balls of yarn straight - that is what is giving me a problem. Some of them are only 2 stitches apart, so I think I grabbed the wrong yarn at one point, and that messed up everything else.

Not the first time (or last!) I'll frog for learning....

The socks are coming along. I'm not sure I like the Sherman heel. It feels a bit tight. My sisters feet are about two sizes smaller than mine, so I may have to have someone else try them on to see how they will fit. If not, frog those back too.

I am still waiting to seam up Hourglass. With six dogs all wanting attention, it's been hard to knit at night. Hopefully in the next day or two I'll be wearing it!

Four of the six currently in residence:

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Thrifty finds!

I did a bunch of knitting this weekend. I got the sleeves and back of S's sweater done, and just need to print out a chart for the "S" I want to put on the front instead of a heart. It is very cute, and knitted up fast - pretty much all stockinette except for the seed stitch border (which I love!)

As you can see in the picture, we had a rare few days of full sun, though the temperature was a balmy 7 degrees! Ouch!

Hourglass is pretty much done except for the neckline. I can't quite decide if I should just leave it the body blue color, or do a tiny crochet edge of the contrast color.

A trip to the Goodwill store yielded a few great finds. I got this purple sweater that is 50% wool, 50% acrylic from The Gap. Very easy to pull apart, and I think it is the exact same sweater that Lolly found - just in purple. How weird is that???
My friend Ivy also gave me a floor length 100% merino cabled sweater that had a hole in it. I debated about just repairing it, but it really wasn't my style, so my sister diligently ripped it apart, and in the end we had all this!
It is really 2 ply, one of the plys is darker beige than the other, and boy is it soft! It is a light worsted or sport weight, but there is tons of it. The big balls barely fit on the ball winder.

All 6 dogs are lounging comfortably on the couch - it's amazing we all fit. They all get along so well, and even in the freezing cold they played fetch for about an hour yesterday. It is a full house!

Friday, January 13, 2006

I've got it!

After fiddling a little last night trying different types of needles in different sizes I finally got gauge for S's heart sweater with #9 Bamboo. The fabric is good - I know it will "plump" a little with a wash and spin through the dryer as my Honeymoon Cami did. Gotta love Cotton Ease! I changed the hems - I made her a roll hem sweater last year, (picture below) and wanted different edge treatments this year, so I went with a seed stitch border. Just 4 rows, but enough to keep it from curling, and add a little texture. I'll do the same at the wrists and the neck. Now, onto miles of stockinette! Come to think of it, her sweater last year was all sorts of bright colors, and she loved it! She is still wearing it - I made sure it make it a few sizes too big so she could get a few seasons out of it!

I finished the cuff and the first part of the heel for the Sockotta socks. I like knitting with this yarn - it is working up really quick! I'm doing a Sherman Heel for the first time, so far, so good. I want to be able to interchange heels as I want. For a lot of the varigated and striped yarns, I love the look of a short row heel. I know it's not as durable, but I love how it comes out. I'm not the biggest fan of picking up stitches either (though I am a lot better at it after a few pairs of socks under my belt!)

I think this is the most projects I've had going at once. Granted, M's sweater isn't on the needles, but it is picked out and ready to start. I like having a main project, and a pair of socks going, but 2 sweaters and socks is a bit much for me to divide my limited knitting time. Hourglass only has a little to go, and I so just want to work on it to finish it, but S's sweater is for her birthday on the 26th, so I really have to make sure that is done in time. I'm hoping with football and the dog show on this weekend, I'll have time to work on both quite a bit.

The dogs arrive tonight, so hopefully I can still get some knitting done. If, that is, there is any room on the couch!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

A New Sock!

I started the Lux Sockees (the name just makes me smile) in the Sockotta. I had about 1/2 hour to kill at the dentist office, so I cast on and spent about 15 minutes detangling the yarn throwup that came out of the middle of the skein. I proceeded on last night and got about 1 1/2" done. The simple K6P2 pattern is easy, I acutally love the no cuff look for these, and the yarn is soft and easy to work with. The new needles, Inox Experss, are a bit more slippery then I'm used to, but I like how the stitches slide. The cord is actually a bit long - I got a 40", but probalby should have grabbed a 32" or 36" - whatever they come in. But, it is very workable and I'm liking it.

My friend Heather and I got together for a knit/magazine night last night. Her mom got her a huge pile of knitting magazines from someone who was going to throw them away! There were piles of Vogue Knitting, Interweave Knits and Family Circle Easy Knitting, some current, some older. There was also some Creative Knitting and a few pattern books. We just took a quick glance through, but it definitely warrants further delving at a later date! She'll probalby end up trading most of them, or selling on Ebay. There were so many!

I did a gauge swatch last night for S's sweater. Of course, it didn't fly. I was getting 20 st/4" instead of the required 18. I may try going up a needle size, but I don't know if I'm going to like the fabric at that point. It is a basic (very!) pullover, so I'm sure I can just re-write it for the new gauge, and in the round maybe. I think the Handy Book of Sweater Patterns may come in handy! A stop at the library today after work...

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Kids Knit Week

Since I have 2 kids sweaters to start very soon (one tonight) this is going to be a kid knit week(s). The heart sweater will be my first intarsia. It is only one big heart, so I'm hoping it's a good starting point. I'm using the turquoise and pink Cotton Ease from my stash. (turquoise for the body, pink for the heart) I think they are great, happy, bright colors for a 2 year old.

I am plugging away on the yoke of the Hourglass. Luckily the stitch count goes down by 8 every other round! I think I may just do a crochet edge in the light blue instead of a whole seamed collar - more comfy.

The handwarmers are done and gifted to my co-worker. She has been wearing them all day and really likes them.

I also want to start ankle socks for my sister. I may use this pattern - it's cute and kind of different, but there is always my standby ankle sock from Julia. I've made it a few times before and they've turned out great. I also have a yarn choice to make - I have some KnitPicks Dancing in the Rhumba colorway and some Sockotta in I think the #4 colorway. The Dancing has some elastic in it, which may prove interesting as I'm a tight knitter anyway, and may not really be the best on ankle socks - I may save it for "regualar" socks where the elastic would come in handy keeping them up. I just use the Sockotta as my sis loved the colors and it's a cotton/wool blend which is what she wanted.

It's been strangely warm here all week (January thaw!) - it's even supposed to get up to 50 degrees on Friday. But, typical for New England, they are predicting snow and a high of 20 degrees on Saturday. I feel a cold coming on already.

Next week should be interesting. I am dog sitting 4 dogs in addition to my 2. They are all lap dogs (they think they are even weighing in at 55 lbs), and all bed sleepers. Maybe we'll sleep in the guest room and give them our bed! I will for sure have pictures of the mayhem that is sure to insue when 6 herding dogs get together. It should make for a fun week.

Terri is down at the AKC Nationals this week - she had 2 of her dogs invited! Razz for Agility and Deuce for breed! We will all be rooting for them from here. Go Collinswood!!!

Monday, January 09, 2006

A (finally!) Productive Weekend and a Felting Fiasco

I really feel like I had a productive weekend. I got the second sleeve done and attached to the body and first sleeve of Hourglass, and now all I have to do is the yoke.

I need to get it completed this week as I need to start two kids sweaters. Probably both out of my Cotton Ease stash. One for a boy, one for a girl. I think for the boy I will do a basic hoodie in Red (his favorite color) with maybe contrasting cuffs. For the girl, I think a simple sweater with a heart insert. I have to see what colors I have in the big bin of Cotton Ease! At least I have picked patterns and am ready to swatch. Both kids need something machine washable/dryable, and I'm trying to use up my stash, so I figured Cotton Ease is perfect!

I also finished 1 1/2 of the handwarmers.

I really like the pattern - kind of a spiral rib - and they fit both me and my co-worker sepreately. The yarn is a great purple (a bit deeper than the picture) and the variation in the yarn make some interesting bumps - it goes from light worsted all the way to super bulky at some points! But, it is super soft, and I think my co-worker will like them. I plan on doing a pair of Mosaic Mitts from the Summer '04 IK for myself - first colorwork! I fell in love with them, and I think all my leftover Patons Classic scraps may work well.

I also have to pick a pair of socks to start. I love having a portable project. I think I'll do my sisters anklets...they should be quick. Then, I'm out of sock yarn - darn!!

As far as the felting fiasco - I felted the fuzzy feet.

Need I say more. The yarn was HORRIBLE. It shed more than anything I have ever seen, and it is still so incredibly hairy, they look like troll slippers! (my cute dad insisted he liked them hairy, so no trim for them!) They felted very slowly, and the Patons (grey part) felted a lot quicker, so the foot was too narrow, but still too long. I made the foot wider to accomidate (my swatch did the same thing) but to no avail. I think I will cut off the toe where it is about 3" too long, and sew it back together, then tack together the tops somehow - they are huge! I will not be using this yarn to felt again!

I totally forgot to take a picture of these pencil toppers my mother in law gave me -

As you can see, they work well as point protectors! And they make me smile when I look at them. May they transmit knitting wisdom and peace.....

I also got (from my mom) a great, perfect gift this weekend at our belated Hannukah celebration -

Mmmmmmm. All I need to say.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

If my feet could smile...

They would be today! I'm wearing my Jaywalkers! I'm really not sure how they'll wear as they are 100% merino, but I figure I'll wear them mostly around the house anyway to keep my feet warm. A few people at work wanted to see them, so my feet are quite happy today! They are so cushy!

I started a pair of handwarmers from Last Minute Knitted Gifts in some purple handspun I had in my stash. They should keep me toasty at work. I promised a co-worker I'd also knit them a pair when I finished mine (use more stash!!).

Speaking of stash, I decided to do a scarf out of all my odds and ends - I have about 15 sample skeins that are about 30 yards each, and a ton of just plain oddball stuff from pulling other stuff apart. I was thinking something like alison's - but maybe doing it lengthwise. And, maybe a hat to match if I have enough! I am just so determined to use up my stash (or at least a bunch of it) - some has been sitting for almost a year (yes, granted I only started knitting a year ago!) but I am a high turnover type of knitter - I like to try/get new things and see how they knit up. I'm on kind of an accessory kick right now, so what a perfect way to use up my stash. I am fully planning on going to the MD Sheep and Wool festival again this May, and I know from last year that there were quite a few yarns I wish I could have purchased (Brooks Farm), and some I missed totally (Blue Moon and Tess) so this year, I want to do it right and have some room in both the stash and wallet for it!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

New Projects for a New Year

I finished my Jaywalkers!! They fit PERFECTLY and I love the color - it pooled but it makes them kinda funky looking!

I really want to make another pair (though maybe not as many as Cara! - Happy Birthday!)but there are so many patterns I'd love to try, I may do another then come back to these when I invest in some Socks That Rock yarn.....

I also started a pair of Fuzzy Feet for my dad....

They are going pretty quick on size 11's. I got the yarn at Webs - it's their house stuff, Berkshire, and pretty darn close to Brown Sheep Worsted. Pretty economical too. I got a nice dark green, and am adding a grey stripe out of some leftover Patons Classic.

My hourglass is progressing. I have one sleeve done and attached to the body, and need to cast on for the 2nd sleeve - I wanted to finish my Jaywalkers first!

On a fun note, I had a snow day today! We got about 6" of snow overnight, and it is still really coming down - they are predicting about 10" when all is said and done.

I am going to work from home, but until they get my VPN fixed, there is only so much I can do. I'd like to cast on for some handwarmers also. My hands get so cold at work and I have a few balls of cashmerino that I can use.

New Years Eve was a lot of fun - lots of friends, great food...what more could I ask! The desserts were great - homemade mint chip ice cream, homemade eclairs and cupcakes...YUM!

I hope everyone had a great New Year!!