Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Heeere's EUGENE

I bought Eugene (accent grave on medial "e"), must be twenty-five years ago, at the close-out sale of a South Hill beauty shop (how did I come to go there?), and she's graced my Cornell offices forever since then, getting chipped a handsome bit or two moving from Rockefeller to Goldwin Smith. And today I brought her, with the last of my office furniture, home, where she will model hats in our retirement. I think adult hats will suit her better than these baby bonnets, but she was eager to get started in this new avocation.

We've got two "Baby Lotus Hat"s, one "Eva's Hat," and one Tri-peak baby hat, all from ravelry downloads, a weekend's messing with my stash, mostly Dalegarn Baby Ull, but the tri-peak is a buttery Great Adirondack combo I long ago got on sale from Knitting Etc., and don't know the sub-species name of. Buttery (repeat).

I'm launched on a decidedly not buttery --unless it's wire-haired-terrier-in-your-butter buttery--Shetland Heather (Jamieson's) jacket for Elizabeth. Connie C Chinchio's "Ithaca Jacket." Moving from Great Adirondack to Shetland Heather, I almost had to put on gloves and skin cream, but soon enough grew used to the scratchiness, assuring myself that it will blossom into greater softness when I block it. I'm leaving it at home for ten days, while I fly off to Chicago, as it's cumbersome for flights and back seats; so need to start a contained project for my travels. BTW, the "Grouse" color of this wool is fabulous--with a deep red and a yellowy-green tucked in the strands. When I look it's there, when I don't look, I've seen a lot of U. S. Open while doing a ton of stockinette.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Beginning a run of baby hats

I'm going on a hat jag, baby and children's hats, to see how much of my stash I can put to good use, what designs I'll come up with, and how fast I can complete each bonnet.

Last night, watching (listening to) the Met's Zefferelli production of Turandot, I did this sweet "Baby Lotus Hat" (see ravelry for free download). I'll find a head to put it on when it dries. This is in Dalegarn Baby Ull, of which I have mucho, at 8 stitches to the inch.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Dream in Color Cardigan

Such a springy, unsplitting, easy yarn to work with; the second sweater I’ve made with the same colorway, same machine-washable yarn.

I’m still following the “cartoon” for measurements from Beth Brown-Reinsel’s Gansey book, but otherwise, just knit as I go, this time including the texturing from Starmore’s Celtic Collection (k-p-k-p-k-p- on one side, and k on the reverse): a nice nubble. The cabled circle with the bobble in the middle is also from her Celtic Collection.

about six stitches to the inch on #6 needles

I’ll get another picture when it’s dried and be-buttoned, and--wowser-- on someone, instead of flattened like a bug.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

ECO is here, ECOis here

Cascade's Ecological Wool--"Eco"-- is (FINALLY) stuffing the shelves at Knitting Etc. And we should all go empty those shelves as fast as Hickory stuffs them. This yarn does anything you want it to and does it fast. And inexpensively. You won't believe how much yarn you get for how little money. 478 yards: when you wind it into balls, you need to make at least three balls. It goes on and on and on, this yarn does. (This may well be why Hickory was reluctant to stock it: she can't earn much. But our gratitude must count for a lot.)

I fell under Eco's spell when I was away on leave last year, away at WEBS in Massachusetts, where Eco went on sale (!). A knitting friend and I emptied a few shelves, and Eco has been my buddy ever since. It's my default yarn: whenever I ponder what to do next and no baby present or intricate new pattern needs to be done, I fall back on my big ole stash of ECO.

You can knit it at suggested gauge--fourteen to sixteen stitches per 4 inches, on #9 or #10 needles--that will go fast and glorious. Or you can as comfortably knit at a smaller gauge for a denser fabric. This latter is what I so often find myself choosing. Since now I know that I get five stitches to the inch with a number six needle, I don't even need to do a swatch; just start knitting and thinking of what I'll do next.

Yup, knit then think is not the obvious order for doing a project, but with ECO I'm so eager to get going, that I think of the person I'm knitting for, his or her circumference, and off I go, planning on the way.

I just finished the owl jacket at the top of the page, for one of my twin grand daughters (for both of them, one at a time, that is), transposing the "mooody owls" from a mitten pattern, choosing Alice Starmore fair isle patterns, and coming up with a few of my own. As you can see from the photos below, I have favored the un-dyed tones (with a pinch of red someone gave me). Hickory is now selling both the un-dyed and the intriguing dyed or "colored" yarns (nicknamed "Eco + ").

Here are pictures of most of what I've done with ECO this year, with dear departed Yogi sleeping in the sun for scale in this first picture:

This is a pattern called "Pakuna," and I nicknamed it "Zebra Pakuna," to send to my daughter in South Africa. A friend modelled it; afterwards I added a Latvian braid to cover a few of the rough edges:"Pillow" and "Back Of"--for a friend who'd once made a pillow for me.

And, below, experiments with Barbara Walker "mosaic" stitches:

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Baby Ben's Vest

Couldn't be simpler, which is good because I was so excited by the news that I had to produce a welcoming present instantmediately and without delay, pronto. A friend, who for a moment until the final adoption papers are signed shall remain known as Ithaca Red, attended the birth and cut the cord of her son Ben, a very few days ago. I learned on the 13th of his arrival ( on the 10th), and knitting all night (not really), while watching season 4 of "Lost," my size 4 needles shaped this boxy and boy-y little vest. Made with leftover Cleckheaton 8-ply (superwashable) wool, it's soft and springy with twisted rib edges, measures almost square (11' w x 13" h); and I'll go get a shirt to go within--off to Target.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

owlmost finished

I'm on the second sleeve, so the sweater should be ready to block before bedtime tonight. With twisted ribbing for the bands, the edging lies nicely, with the modified v-neck. DebDot picked out the wooden twig buttons. And I've got a little owl face on one sleeve--but won't do more owl heads on the other sleeve, as the intarsia was a clumsy bother while I was working with twelve-inch needles and several many lines of brown yarn. So, other adornments on the second sleeve.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Owls in Progress

On to the sleeves (and tiny owls running along the center), then front and neck bands. I'm stuck at home today since the Volvo's getting its 100,000 mile check-up, so...bring on the sleeves.

The Owls are coming

Monday, August 9, 2010

and now some "moody owls"

I found "moody owls" in a mitten pattern, on, which I'm using for the nine-inch owls on this sweater for the GIRLS. This weekend, recuperating from a very intense, filling, attuned week of a writing workshop at Cornell, this weekend when I could hardly lift my chin off the table after leading my way through many people's lives-in-writing, I knit ten inches of this latest Eco Wool sweater.

You can't yet see the owl faces (they don't yet exist), but there'll be two stern and two meditative ("angry" / "sad" ?) owls, four all together. So far, just wings and white bellies. I continue making up the sweaters as I go, a fine way to stay interested, and this weekend I didn't even need anything interesting, just the motions, the yogick rhythms. To be continued.

The back and bebuttoned front of that mosaic sweater. To hide the goofs on the neckline, and to give nice open neck space, I'm pinning down the red inner neck--a design feature always revises the mistakes....

Thursday, August 5, 2010

sans buttons

Well, this is a mixed bag, a good experiment, but with some dopey mishaps that mute its success as a sweater. In my attempt to finish the sweater during my "free" weekend, I got lazy or careless around the neck. After deciding I couldn't do an elaborate mosaic during all the shoulder decreases, without losing the pattern for the decreases, I did something so simple (I do like topping the sweater in the lightest two color choices to hand) as an alternate pattern, that I stopped paying attention, in several ugly ways or with several ugly results, which I won't elaborate on, but which make some iffy spots along the neckline. (I get into "whatever" moods some times.)

Then, something that's NOT my unmindful fault, because I knew to use very cool water bringing this sweater to its blossom, the #$%^ red yarns bled a little bit. Nothing life-threatening, already invisible as I lay it out on the blocking board. So I think this mishap might be negligible.

I've got some buttons in my stash which will do very well. So, once this sweater dries, I'll put them on and post a final picture.

Now on to BLUE OWLS--very significant.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Mosaic takes shape....

What a day this is! I was planning on driving a lot this weekend, going to Connecticut for a night with my mother, and on to Boston for a baby shower, then back again by Sunday evening. But metal on metal sang out to me yesterday morning, as I drove the dog to the doggie hotel: brake pads without padding. Since I couldn't get the pads refitted in time to leave town, I have an entire unscheduled Ithaca weekend in my lap, and I'm having THE BEST time--I keep chuckling. I started watching "Lost," on my computer via netflix; never saw that while it was running on television. And it's the perfect companion to knitting this mosaic sweater.

Time now for Season 1, Episode 13...and the second sleeve. Then, bringing the pieces all together, I'll knit either a raglan or a saddle shoulder, and probably use a very light color combination and an elaborate 44-row pattern called "Odin's Eagles."

Stay tuned. Oh my I'm having a nice weekend (and the dog's still at the doggie hotel).

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Fairy Castle Cardigan, Baby Surprise Jacket, and MOSAIC sweater

This Misti Alpaca, a discontinued four-ply baby alpaca I got at a WEBS sale last year, has blossomed into this lovely "Fairy Castle" cardigan for the girls. Very light worsted, and light weight, and soft! This is the third “gansey,” using Brown-Reinsel’s system of proportions for setting the size. I put “gansey” in quotations, because really I used B-R’s sizings and very little else. One would never do a gansey in baby alpaca, nor pock it with such lacy, permeable design features. I knitted the plain bottom section, got heavy bored, wandered through Barbara Walker’s Second Treasury, where I (re-) found her “Gingerbread Castle,” and started immediately. I did her “Cam Cable” for the front panels, and did her “Totem Pole” eyelet pattern for the sleeves. LOVE IT. I like picking patterns as I go along.

And the eyelets outside the button bands are from Kate Gilbert’s “Samantha.”

The bottom picture has the buttons I’ve now sewn on (good taste, Hickory) . Very simple, light, almost dissolving into the sweater.

So, I finished that beauty last week, and immediately knit a little "Baby Surprise Jacket" for the gender-surprise Doyle baby, whose shower I'm driving to in Boston this weekend. Well, I’m a grumpus, because EVERYONE loves the Baby Surprise Jacket, but I’m not a fan of this sweater, though it’s cute enough and will do for the newborn baby .. I did attached i-cord all the way around, even the shoulder seams (with three needle bind-off to get a little eyelet going there), which takes the unfinished look away. I did it asymmetrical (thanks, Ysolda on, kept it gender-surprise with the pastel yellow/green/blue/tan of the yarn. The yarn, Schaefer's Nichole, is soft, washable, springy, very easy to knit with. And the duck buttons enforce its baby appropriateness. I’ll find a little shirt or onesie to put under it, and I’ll have a nice baby shower gift.

And now, I'm off and running on a Mosaic sweater for the girls. After seeing Barbara Walker, the gifted and eminent Barbara Walker, the Barbara Walker who "unvented" the mosaic, to counter her dislike of fair isle, posing in her own mosaic sweater, in her interview in Fall, 2010's Interweave Knits, I thought, ah ha, a nice way to continue using my ridiculously large stash of Cascade Eco-Wool. And so, here I go, once again using only the sizing proportions from Brown-Reinsel, choosing different mosaic patterns (from Walker's Second Treasury), and knitting and slipping. I put this in-progress piece atop my Tunisian rug, which will now become inspiration for patterning:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Loving the Summer and anticipating the Fall

It's been MONTHS since I've thought to blog about knitting, so please excuse--if you've ever been checking this blog--the lacuna (nice word and the title of a fine Barbara Kingsolver book I just finished, with a narrator who's almost a lacuna himself, whose journals are edited and published by a retiring violet named Violet). Here I am, on the verge of recovering my scanner, whose cord has been missing for thirteen months, and whose substitute cord it doesn't quite appreciate so there'll be no scanning for yet another block of time, un-urgent scanner I seem to be.

Here's a book NOT to buy: Annie Modesitt's 1000 Hats; the title provides quite a come-on for using your stash, right? But there are only ten "prize winning" patterns, all the nine hundred and ninety others are images only. That book is going back to later today, for sure.

So, it's the hot middle of the summer, and my girls, who turned five this past weekend, have no thoughts of sweaters, only of mud-dancing, ballet dancing, and biking:

But with a bit more futures-planning, I've been knitting for kindergarten:

First, the second self-designed gansey, done in Dale Falk for washability and natural ivory coloring. It came out smaller than I'd wanted, in part from the pulling together of the elaborate cables, in part from natural un-mindfulness. But it will fit them this winter.

That one will be a cardigan after I do the steeks, which you can't see. My first steeking, I, so far, think steeking is a waste of time. But at least I'll know how to do it.

Then, here's the "wonderful wallabee," which I did originally for a store sample, with dibs on it for Christmas. I taught a class or two of this design, used Schaefer Miss Priss, and know they'll like the pouch pocket and hoodie:

And here's the first self-designed gansey I did, in Madeline Tosh DK, a wonderfully soft machine-washable wool. Again, I did this as a store sample, and will be teaching a class in designing your own gansey, with Barbara Brown-Reinsel's book as a fine guide, in the fall; and stealing back this sweater for the girls a bit after that:

My favorite new sweater for the girls: I've just finished a self-designed alpaca (in Misti Alpaca 4 ply) cardigan. But it's wet and blocking in the basement, so I'll post pictures and further descriptions in a day or two.

Other non-kindergarteners sweaters and so forth: among the many projects I've knit since January, a nice alpaca beanie:

a store-sample baby hat and finger-less mittens:

and Connie Chang Chinchio's "Ithaca Jacket," again, for the store FOR NOW, but going, if it suits her, to dil Schuyler, after I've taught the class in the early fall:

And, the girl's version of Ryland's Vest (by Hickory), with ruffles from Stitchionary:

And now it's onward with more Kindergarten Cardigans.