Friday, April 30, 2010

Too Many WIPs

I have 5 knitting projects I'm currently working on. Not just 5 projects that have been started and put aside, I'm actually working on all of them somewhat equally. I usually work on 2 or 3 of these in a night. I just pull one out of my knitting bag and do a few rows, or a pattern repeat, or just until I get bored. And then I move on to another project. It may sound crazy, but it's actually pretty fun. None of the projects are very challenging -- for 3 of them I don't need to look at the pattern anymore and the other two just need an occasional glance -- so perhaps this is my way of injecting some complexity!

I'm sure I'll post more about these as they finish so for now just a few little pics....

Friday, April 23, 2010

Spring Shawls - Calais Tinkering & Miss Woodhouse

Yes I've been making a lot of lace shawls and No I'm not even close to done! No no no no no!
My latest two are also my current favorite shape - triangle/crescent. With a "classic" triangle shawl you knit from the center top and increase equally along the center spine and edges, working outwards. This gives you a straight top edge with a length that is double the height of the spine. My Swallowtail shawl is a good example.

With these triangle/crescent shapes the increases on the edges are twice as rapid as along the spine. The end result is longer and more shallow. The top edge is often blocked as a curve making it look like a crescent, but the construction is just like a classic triangle. One great advantage is that you can make great sized shawl with relatively little yarn. Another is that extra length makes it so easy to wear.

I had previously made the Traveling Woman shawl and loved it so I set out to find more patterns with this shape. There aren't too many out there (yet?) but I selected Wendy Johnson's Miss Woodhouse pattern as my next project.

Blocked out nice an big and only used about 315 yards! I used Madeline Tosh sock yarn for this one in the "William Morris" colorway. A beautiful, warm brown with speckles of robin-egg blue.
Raveled here

Next up I fell for a new free pattern Calais. I thought it would make a perfect spring shawl but it was that classic triangle and I really wanted that triangle/crescent again. So I set about to alter it to fit that new shape.

First I started with the original pattern chart and widened it along the edge. Then I basically filled in the extra spaces with the pattern. It took a bit of fiddling with until it looked right, but here is what I came up with (sorry for the weird spacing around this):
Next I continued the extra increases through the eyelet portion and finally I was ready for the edging. Here is where it gets complicated again. I wanted to do the edging as is but I needed to get a correct stitch count to start it. You need a multiple of 20 plus 7 for it. When I made mine I knew I'd have 2 extra stitches but those garter rows of the eyelet section are perfect for camouflaging a couple decreases or increases if you need.

I didn't do all the edging rows as written, but it's pretty flexible on doing more or less rows here. With my handy kitchen scale I was able to use just about all of my yarn, around 350yards for this one in HandMaiden Casbah, the "Rose Garden" colorway.
Raveled here

It's definitely a bit trickier to block these shapes but worthwhile!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Look! Something Shiny!

On my last trip to my local knitting shop I was happily browsing away in my favorite section -- the beautiful handpainted sock yarns. There was a new batch of Malabrigo and fun new fruit-striped Lorna's Laces and much more. Ahhhhh.... so lovely.

But meanwhile my mother was canvassing the entire store and finding all kinds of different yarns. Finally I met up with her hovering over a silky, luscious scarf. Oooooohhh..... it's soooo pretty.
The yarn was 100% silk and had sequins in it too. The sample scarf was in a gorgeous navy blue like a shimmery river that sucked us both in. We looked at the price tag and said yikes! But we were too far gone and a skein of navy went home with mum while I chose a moss green.
The name of the yarn is "Disco Lights" by Tili Tomas.

Other projects got swept aside and I set out to find the perfect pattern for it. I did take the simple pattern that the sample had been knit with, but simple knitting and I don't always mesh. Even though I was pretty sure that as a scarf you'd never see much pattern (100% silk is so drapey), I wanted it to keep me interested as I knit. I ended up choosing the Ariel Scarf (free pattern) and think it worked out great.

The yarn was a little bit tricky to work with. The sequins are on a thread that is just carried along with the silk. So you always have to make sure that you're catching both strands as you knit. Also I had to adjust how I held the yarn since at the beginning the sequins were getting pushed back and bunched as I was feeding the yarn out. I had to hold it with very little tension.
But in the end I have a luscious, sparkly, silky stream of scarf of my own.
It's such a difference from the merino sock yarns and heavier cottons I've been using lately, but I am glad we got swept away by it.
Raveled here

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Happy Birthday Crowns

My little boy turned 4 this past weekend - where is the time flying?
March had been taken over by toy knitting so I didn't knit or sew any additional gifts for him except for one that was for me a must-do.

The pattern is called "Loved" and you can buy it ($1.99) on or on I ran across this pattern back in December and instantly knew it would be something I'd be making a lot of. I've decided it's my gift for all the four-year-olds. We go to a lot of kids' birthday parties through the year so any project I commit to making so many of needs to be:
1) relatively quick
2) interesting enough so that I don't burn out, and
3) something I think will really be enjoyed.

I couldn't get him to model his own properly, but here is one for a friend:

I've now made 3 of these and don't think I'll mind knitting up the many more I have planned. I'm having fun planning out the colors. The pattern doesn't call for different colors for the bobbles but I really think it's worth the extra bit of awkwardness it adds. I loved the "jewels" for the top of my son's crown.

Here's a peak at the work in progress. Really crazy looking I know, but I love the interesting construction this has.

I've been making these in the Knitpick's Comfy Bulky yarns. This is the same as I've been knitting my itty bitty toys, but in a heavier weight.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Easter Bunny is here!

Sometimes a project just sneaks in and you just have to go with it. Fortunately this one was pretty quick, about 3 nights. With an Easter egg hunt last weekend, more Easter plans this weekend, a sudden rise in temperatures and cherry blossoms blooming, I needed a fun spring project. A bunny must be made!

I chose Rabbit (free!) by Susan B. Anderson, author of Itty Bitty Toys and other fun things. Rabbit is a cousin of Ribbit and shares his fun unique twist -- the body is stuffed with a tennis ball!

Overall it was an easy project, and I pretty much followed the pattern as is. I love the ear shaping and the pom pom tail.
Raveled here

For yarn I used KnitPicks Comfy Worsted. Again, I can't believe how much I like this cotton/acrylic blend when I previously hated the cotton and acrylics I had tried. It's cheap and comes in lots of fun colors. Of course I made this bunny pink since it's Nate's favorite color. :)
I've been gathering up the Comfy yarn for a while now. Anytime I make an order with Knitpicks I seem to toss a few balls of Comfy in with it. It's become quite a collection!