Sunday, August 24, 2008

End of Summer

The Leafy Lace cardi got finished a while ago, and I've worn it a few times already.

After that got done, I started on a Very Secret Birthday Project on a rather tight schedule. What caused the schedule to be tight was not so much the upcoming birthday, as my mother turns a year older on the same day every year (very helpful), but the fact that I just couldn't decide on the pattern or the yarn. I finally ended up reverse engineering a pattern that I'd seen pictures of, but that was only available in Russian, and a similar pattern that would have been in past issue of a Norwegian craft magazine. It actually was a very simple crochet stitch pattern, which is used quite a bit in shawls. I had my mind set on crochet for whatever reason, I've already forgotten why, but I was very determined that it had to be crochet. I started the project twice with yarns that I had in my stash, but at the end ended up going and buying a new yarn, as I didn't have anything that would have fit just right. It was either too woolly, too stiff, too thin, too something. The yarn got is Berroco Twist, wool and viscose, a very nice and drapey yarn with a nice sheen.

The main idea I stole form the Norwegian pattern was the pseudo fringe. It's constructed from single crochet loops that are attached to one another, it's fringy without being too much so. I very much like it.

As far as I could tell, mom was very pleased, and I liked the shawl so much myself that I bought yarn for one for myself, too. As far as progress on that one... well, I've started, let's just say that. The yarn I bought (not the same one as my mom's) is very splitty and a pain to crochet, so I quickly came up with other projects that were more urgent.

Last weekend I started a new cardi, which I'm calling the "End of Summer Cardi". The yarn is Elann's Callista (no mom, it's not expensive), a blend of cotton, linen and viscose. I've planned a one piece construction with slightly puffed sleeves (we'll see how those turn out...), V-neck, and raglan sleeves. So far I'm about half of the way done.

A bunch of my co-workers have been reproducing lately, and baby gifts are in order. So far two girl gifts and one boy gift are needed, plus one unknown, due within the next two weeks. I've worked on some baby bootie patterns, and here are two of my favorites:

Now a couple more pairs of cuteness, and maybe a pair or two to have in the stash for future small people.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Summer knits

I'm in need of some more summery knits than all the wool sweaters I've been cranking out lately. I was working on a lace cardigan design, but found a free pattern that was so close to what I was doing that it just wasn't worth re-inventing the wheel.

This is the back of the Lacy Leaf Cardi by soobeeoz. The yarn is Lily Chin Chelsea, a wool/cotton/acrylic blend, perfect for summer clothing. I'm already done with the body pieces and one sleeve, so this cardi should be finished pretty soon.

A few weeks ago I bought some Jojoland Melody yarn that was on sale at Needlework Unlimited, and thought it would be perfect for a shawl. Something fairly simple that would benefit from the beautiful color changes of the yarn. I found the perfect pattern in Ulla; Revontuli by AnneM.

One thing I wasn't too excited about was how the stripes would get progressively thinner, as the shawl got wider, and I wanted to somehow work around that. I contemplated a couple of strategies, and ended up knitting each section (or actually each two sections) from a separate ball of yarn. I wasn't quite sure how it would work, if it would look weird or stand out too much that the sections are all different, but it worked out ok, and I'm very pleased with the result.

I really like the three-dimensional look that is created by the pattern and the slight sheen of the yarn. I've worn this to work a couple of times already, and the really nice thing about it is that it goes with almost every shirt that I own! :)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Spring has sprung

My excuse for not posting for a while is that my dear little laptop had an accident a while back, and I had to take it to the PC doctor. Because of a misunderstanding, it took them a whole month to fix it. Well, not quite, but because they ordered and installed the wrong cover for it, it took twice as long as is should have. I got it back now, and I have to say, I really missed it! And mom started complaining already that there aren't any new blog posts, so I better write one immediately. Here comes, mom!

Since the last time I posted, I had to go on another trip, this time for more unfortunate reasons. My 84-year-old Grandpa passed away, and I went to Finland for the funeral. The whole family came together for the event, and even though a funeral's a funeral, it was great to see everybody. We spent a lot of time reminescing about the last, oh, 60-some years. Or however long each one of has had known Grandpa. The things that everybody seemed to remember about him were that he was fair, just, honest and hard working. What an honor to be remembered as such an exemplary individual. I will miss him greatly! The whole time I kept thinking that he had such a great life, and that I wish people could say the same, when my time comes.

It was great to go back home after a two year long hiatus. I'm going again this summer, for happier reasons and with more time. This time I was there for only a few days, and without the kids or my husband. This of course meant a lot of uninterrupted knitting time on travel days. I usually travel through Amsterdam, and this time was no exception. On my way back I had a long lay-over, and I went on a little tour of the Amsterdam area:

What a great way to spend those few hours that otherwise you'd spend sitting around at the airport!

On my trip I finished Salina -it is one of my favorite patterns, and I just love wearing it. The fit is just perfect, the style is nice and simple, but not without a couple of interesting details. I love Rowan Felted Tweed, although it could be just a little softer. I might have to try and give it a vinegar rinse and see, if that would take off the scratchiness.

I knitted the whole thing in the round, sleeves and all. That is my preferred way, because I just love miles and miles of plain stockinette! And piecing the thing together was a breeze! I also knitted the sleeves quite a bit longer, because I don't like short or even 3/4 sleeves on wool sweaters. I'm always cold, and my hands especially, so I like loooong sleeves. I also made just 3 button holes, as I really didn't see the need for the fourth one.
I have this yarn in 3 different colors, so I'll probably be making another Salina at some point. There are also a couple of other patterns in the same book that I might want to make.

Because the airport security people in Europe aren't quite as understanding of knitters as they are here in the US, I also took along a crochet project. I thought, if I have a very much not-sharp, large size crochet hook (5 mm or larger) with me, I just can't see them taking it away! I got this book called Amazing Crochet Lace by Doris Chan, and it's got some really nice shawl patterns in there that are designed after traditional crochet doilies. One of my favorites is the shawl on the cover, which is the one I started.

The yarn is Berroco Seduce, an interesting blend of linen, rayon and silk. A lot shinier than in the picture. You can also see, where I was getting my crochet mojo from: straight from the bottle! ;) I'm usually not a Pepsi drinker, but the European Pepsi Max (diet) tasts much closer to Diet Coke that Coke Light does. It's just one of those things.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Kauni and her friends

ETA: I get a lot of questions about the stitch pattern used in the sweater below. The link to the website is Unfortunately, the pattern has been removed from the website and is no longer available. I do not have access to the stitch pattern either. If you read the comments to this post, there is discussion about trying the get the pattern re-posted on the site. I hope it works out! However, I am not involved in the effort and have no more information than you, my dear readers. But feel free to continue the discussion in the comments if you wish!

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Have you heard of Kauni? If you surf the knitting circles, I'm sure you have. Kauni is a Danish yarn with beautiful colors and wonderful color work patterns. Actually Kauni is the name of the designer, who is originally from Estonia. So the name actually means "beautiful". How appropriate! :) The Kauni yarns aren't really easy to find on this side of the pond, and I ordered mine from Astrid's Dutch Obsessions. Great prices and a very good color selection.

After I got my yarn, I had to start right away! But I didn't want to go with the popular Kauni cardigan pattern, because it has a very boxy shape and that just doesn't do for me. I immediately gain 50 pounds when I wear boxy sweaters... So I decided to go with Veronik's Colette pattern from IK winter 07. It's got nice shaping, and is a nicely constructed sweater, but I wasn't crazy about the cats, so I searched for another stitch pattern to use. There is a nice website full of free colorwork patterns here.

As much as I love knitting this, it is very slow, and requires a lot of concentration. I have been knitting on this exclusively for a couple of weeks, and I'm almost up to the arm holes now.

But I felt like I needed a break from all that concentration, and wanted something that was mindless stockinette that I could knit while reading or watching TV. So I started Salina, the sweater on the cover of Vintage Knits. I've been wanting to make this sweater for the longest time, and I'm really enjoying the pattern.
I've got this same yarn (Rowan Felted Tweed) in three different colors, so there might even be more than one Salina in my future.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

New FOs in New Orleans

Another work trip and another chance to get hours of undisturbed knitting time, if you don't mind security checks and boardings of planes, and a few times when I actually had to work. I went on a trip to New Orleans (not one of my favorite cities, FYI), and instead of taking a new project with me, I actually took 6 UFO's in hopes of finishing at least on or two. I took so many, because I couldn't decide which ones I'd want to work on, plus I wanted to be able to just pick up what I was in the mood for.

The first thing that got done, was a We Call Them Pirates hat, in the works since over a year ago:

The yarn I used was the same as last time, Rowan Wool Cotton. It is super soft, holds up well, and is the perfect yarn for a hat. You need just one ball of each color for this hat. I made a couple of modifications (shocking, isn't it): I left out part of the colorwork in the bottom to make the hat slightly shorter, and I sloped the decreases a little slower, because I'm not a fan of the squarish top in the original pattern.

The second thing I finished was a pair of socks for Mr S, in the works since maybe a month ago:

I even managed to make them match! I usually don't even try, so this was one of the few times I actually made matching socks.

The yarn is one of the OPAL sock yarns, another bright colorway, perfectly suitable for kids. The socks are size 4yr.
I also worked a little on the Eyelet Cardigan that I started about a year ago:

This yarn is Bluemoon Fiberarts Cotton. I still need to make one more sleeve, piece it together, and add a collar and button bands. Maybe I'll get it done by the time the weather is warm enough to wear it.

I also made a little bit of progress on my Seawool socks:

These I'm continuing to work on today, so I should have them done by Sunday night.

I was quite proud of myself for being so productive, and also for not taking a brand new project along. :) And like I usually do where ever I travel, I found me a yarn store and bought some yarn as a souvenir. Now, I know Louisiana is probably not the knitting hub of the world, and my expectations for the yarn store weren't great, but even so, I was just a tiny bit disappointed. The store was large, and had a lot of different yarns, but the color selection for all of them was extremely poor. The store was also messy and felt dirty, which never gets me excited about shopping. And I was after some pretty basic stuff (for example, more yarn for Pirates hats), but couldn't find anything I was looking for. I did find something, though:

It's Chrystal Palace Maizy, a yarn made out of 82 % corn fiber. It's really quite soft, and I think it's meant to be mainly a sock yarn. I might still use it for something else, such as a hat. The gauge is pretty small, in the picture I used a 2.25 mm needle.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Herring bones

Herringbone mittens, that is! I had these old rose and dark chocolate Opal sock yarns that I knew I wanted to use for some nice colorwork mittens and maybe also a pair of socks. I went back and forth between different patterns, but I really liked the Herringbone mittens by the great Elliphantom, and these two colors would be perfect for that pattern, I thought.

The pattern is written for a heavier yarn, so I had to adjust for that. I added a stitch to each of the "bones", which in the original pattern are 4+4 stitches, for a total of 48 stitches plus two for the sides, so that equals 50. I went with 5+5, for a total of 60+2=62 around the palm. I also like two color ribbing better in colorwork, so I decided to use that, instead of a single color ribbing. And I wanted the thumb to match the rest of the mitten, so I change from straight vertical lines to herringbones on the thumb, too. You can see that in the thumb gusset, but it will of course be more obvious, when I actually finish the mittens.

Here you can also see the three needle bind-off in the tip, which worked perfectly and is much simpler than grafting. I'm not a big fan of pom-poms, so those will be left out, as well as the crocheted cord... I think it's probably starting to sound like I'm not even knitting the same pattern, as many changes that I've made, but Elli still did all the hard work writing the pattern, and what I'm doing are minor details. I always end up changing every pattern I use, some more than others, but that doesn't mean I didn't like the pattern. If I didn't like the pattern, I wouldn't be using it! So I guess what I'm trying to say is that despite all the changes, I still really like that pattern and would recommend it!

I also got some shots of the finished baby sweater, now with a button:

The button is polymer clay, sliced out of a cane I made already a while ago. So handy having all those canes made up! ;) I can just take a slice and bake it, and voila, I have a unique custom button or earrings or whatever!

I used a little crocheted chain for the button loop:

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Cleaning up the bead stash

This weekend my husband asked me. if I could clean up my bead stash. He might have meant, whether I could move it somewhere else, or just get rid of it alltogehter, but I took it as "Honey, could you make some more jewelry?" ;) So I did. I mean, when would I not do what my darling hubby asks for?

I had a ton of polymer clay beads that I'd made a while ago, and a lot of already planned projects. I like to combine the beads with other materials, like glass, wood and semiprecious stone beads. This necklace only has a polymer clay focal bead, the rest of the beads are wood, ceramic and carnelian.

I also made earrings to match:

Here you can see the making of the Squiggly Necklace, with polymer clay squiggles altered with silver beads:

This bracelet is retro color polymer clay beads with some miscellaneous stone beads and some buno cord on a memory wire:

This isn't really craft related, but I just wanted to show you my tastiest accomplishment this weekend, a multigrain bread baked in a cloche baker that makes the absolute best crispy but not hard crust:

The only wool related activity this weekend was a felted space alien that we made with the kids:

I made absolutely no progress on the entrelac sweater -maybe I'm just a little too optimistic about the weather getting warmer. I better get on it and finish the thing, because if it really warms up, I'll never get it done...

Have a great week, and thanks for all the comments on the finished sweater a couple of weeks back! I know I'm really repeating myself, but I'll say it again: I'd love to reply to the comments, but Blogspot doesn't allow me to see the e-mail addresses. I don't know if it's a setting that I should change, or if that's just how it is with blogspot.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

More sweaters

I continued to knit on the Henley sweater (perfect TV knitting, by the way, lots of stockinette), and got to where the lace pattern starts:

That was all good, until this showed up:

It's Berroco Foliage in color walnut. I just couldn't resist casting on! I already had a project in mind, or I actually ordered it specifically for this:

The free pattern is in Finnish, but Gedifra has also published it somewhere in English. I found it on Ravelry as "Entrelac sweater". Anyhow, I saw this pattern and just HAD TO try it. It has a very interesting construction, starting with the entrelac in the back, then you add stitches for the sleeves, make a neck opening like a buttohole, knit over the shoulders, cast off the sleeve stitches, and finish in the front at the bottom of the entrelac portion. After you sew the seems together, you add the ribbing, and are done.
Very cool, if it just turns out like the picture. ;) I'm at the point where you cast off the sleeve stitches:

I've also been working on a sweater for my friend's daughter. I'm using a one-piece raglan sleeve construction:

It's from the make-it-up-as-you-go collection again. After finishing the body, I took it off the needles to block it and check the measurements.

Everything was right on, so now it just needs the collar and sleeves and a couple of finishing touches, and is ready to wear. Hopefully finished and maybe even modeled pics next time!