Sunday, December 30, 2007

Back with a Bag

I've been away for a few weeks visiting the family for the holidays, where the knitted gifts went over quite well. I didn't get to do much knitting, but I did get to finish this fun little bag. The knitting was done months ago, but I left it with my mom so she could sew in the lining (I have no sewing machine and NO sewing skills).

Slouchy purse

Pattern: Drops Bag with Cable Pattern
Yarn: Patons Shetland Chunky Tweeds in Biscuit (2 skeins)
Needles: Size 10 Knitpicks Options
Handles, Buttons, and fabric for lining from

Modifications: None really, but the pattern was a little vague in places. In particular, I had a little trouble with the decreases. You have 220 stitches and have to go down to 75 stitches, meaning that you have to find a way to evenly decrease 145 stitches. I found some advice on Craftster and this is what I did, in case anyone is interested:

k3tog 11 times, k2tog (k3tog 12 times, k2tog, k3tog 11 times, k2tog), repeat, k3tog 13 times.

If I were to make this again, I would not do the buttonholes...I'd sew on the buttons just for show, but I'd have some kind of magnet or snap deal to close the purse up. The buttons are just kind of a pain.

I've been wearing this pretty much nonstop and have gotten tons of compliments on it- I love it! Several people requested one for Christmas next year, so there may be more of these in my future.

Holding purse

Big thanks to Mom for sewing the lining and helping me figure out how to do the handles-they turned out functional and cute.

Inside purse

In other exciting news, we got a new camera for Christmas! It's an Olympus Stylus 820; it has all kinds of great features and so far I am impressed. These pictures are the first will be seeing many, many more in the future!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Quickie Gauntlets

You know how when people see something you've knit and are all, "wow- that's awesome! Make me one in blue!" and you just cringe on the inside because you know they have no idea how much time and effort goes into it? Well, imagine the opposite- one of your favorite people in the world, who supports your knitting and your general bloggy geekiness, sees a picture of some handwarmers that you've made and comments that he would absolutely adore a pair in charcoal gray. That was my situation, friends, and I was so crazy excited that I dropped all of my Christmas knitting to get these done in time for our holiday party on Saturday. Luckily, they were super quick and I had them finished, blocked, and wrapped up with plenty of time to spare.

Braided gauntlet close up

Pattern: Symmetrical Braided Gauntlets
Yarn: One skein of Filatura Di Crosa Wave (75% wool, 25% silk)
Needles: Size 7 DPNs
Modifications: Because yarn was DK weight, I cast on 39 stitches instead of 35.
Lessons learned: I learned to cable without a cable needle and I have seen the light! It is so easy and saves so much time.

Braided gauntlets top view

I've made this pattern before (see a pic here), but this second time around I realized that I actually didn't follow the directions the first time- I continued the ribbing throughout the glove instead of switching to stockinette as the pattern instructs. It's all good, though- I like it both ways.

I was a little iffy about the yarn at first, but I picked it out because it was the perfect color. I knit up a couple inches and had some serious misgivings about how it would look, but I persisted and I'm so glad I did. After wet blocking, the yarn bloomed up and the cables popped out. Also, I think the slubbiness of the silk creates a more manly look.

If there ever was a boy who could rock the fingerless gloves in Miami, it's Kris. He wore these to brunch yesterday and looked positively adorable.

Kris with fingerless gloves

P.S. This picture was taken at 11:30 a.m. and he is totally drinking red wine out of that mug. See now why he's one of my favorite people in the world?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Airport Knitting

I had a job interview 2 weeks ago and had to spend about 6 hours on planes and in airports each way, so I decided to forgo my usual airport routine (read People magazine and eat whatever health-horror delicacy a city might provide- in this case the dreaded Kentucky "Hot Brown") and knit a Christmas present instead. I needed something small enough to work on without bothering the people sitting next to me, but complicated enough to keep my attention during the tedious hours of traveling. I found the *perfect* project, if I do say so myself.

Koolhaas side view

Pattern: Koolhaas by Jared Flood (aka every one's knitting crush, brooklyntweed), from Interweave Holiday Issue 2007
Yarn: Malabrigo in...well, in that brown color
Needles: 6 for the ribbing, 8 for the rest.

I had a lot of time to think about this project, and I have compiled a list of several lessons learned. I can't recommend Koolhaas highly enough, but here are a few things I'm glad to know for when I make it again:

Koolhaas stitch definition

1. Malabrigo is just perfect for this project. Excellent definition, perfect softness, and oh, the colors! As if I have to convince anyone of the virtues of Malabrigo...

2. Why oh why am I so impatient? I knew good and well that I should have learned how to cable without a cable needle before I left for my trip, but I just couldn't find the time to look at grumperina's tutorial (stay tuned- I've gained some sense in the meantime and am working on a project now using grumperina's advice). And I lost my cable needle, so I wrestled my way through all those freaking cables using a size 8 DPN as a cable needle. My hands hurt just thinking about it. Interestingly, just today Jen over at 14 Inches of I-Cord posted a tip about how to make things easier. If you're making Koolhaas, check it out!

3. Speaking of my aching hands, I started the hat using Clover Bamboo 16" circular needles and it was just killing me! I have a pretty high tolerance for hand strain, but all of that cabling with those sticky needles was just torture. While in Lexington, I dragged my friend Robert to a yarn shop (Rebelle, and for those who are interested- it was absolutely lovely) and promptly bought some size 8 Addi Turbos. So much better! I personally still prefer Knitpicks Options over Addis, but the improvement over the bamboo needles was well worth the $15.

4. Working on Koolhaas in public will make you feel brilliant, which is a significant bonus when you're on your way to a job interview. People were commenting on it like crazy- everyone from a 15 year boy next to me on the plane to the 85 year old woman who approached me in the airport. Just take a look at the way the decreases in the top of the hat flow perfectly with the pattern...

Koolhaas top view

Brilliant! I think my Dad will really like it, too.

I'm still chugging away at Lady Eleanor for my Mom for Christmas- I have 9 tiers left and about 10 days to finish, so I should be just fine. The problem is that I also have a pair of arm warmers, the last 25% of a sock, and a bunch of little Christmas ornaments to finish. And I can't stop thinking about what I'm going to knit in the airports during all my Christmas traveling...

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Farrah Swap

So I've never actually met another girl named Farrah in my life, but soon after joining Ravelry I got a message from another Farrah- not only another Farrah, but a knitter! The other Farrah and I started chatting and turns out we have tons in common. The other Farrah came up with a great idea- we'd have a Farrah swap, in which we would send each other a little package made up of fun stuff we knew the other would like. I had had more fun than I'd like to admit putting together the package (you can see what I sent to Farrah here), and she sent me a really, really great package.

First, a book I've been wanting forever.
Interweave Favorite Socks
So many beautiful patterns, all in one spiral bound book. I'm particularly excited about the Uptown Boot socks...
Uptown boot socks & smooshy
Farrah also sent me some Dream in Color Sock Yarn, which is too delicious for words. So delicious, actually, that I sent her the EXACT SAME YARN without even knowing! In red, because that is one of her favorite colors, but the same sock yarn all the same. Our Farrah vibe is crazy, yo!

She also sent a super-fun scarf kit, with instructions to make a striped ribbed scarf, 2 balls of this Burgundy wool, and 1 ball of a funky matching yarn. I love it!
Yarn for scarf set

I might have mentioned I love chocolate, so she sent some Dove dark chocolate covered almonds, which are single-handedly accounting for the extra pound hanging on each of my hips, and some Lindt chocolate truffles. Also, some "F" note cards, which I will use all the time.
Swap treats

I am spoiled, y'all. Seriously.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Embossed Leaves

Last week I finally finished a pair of Embossed Leaves socks, which I'm now realizing is just behind Jaywalkers and Monkeys in popularity. It's for good reason- these socks are fun to knit, look gorgeously complicated, but aren't really too difficult. I knitted them up over the course of a month or so, almost exclusively on the Metrorail, which means they got about 40 minutes of attention per weekday and lots of funny looks from my fellow travelers (actual quote: "what you doin' with all those sticks, girl?").

Embossed Leaves socks

Pattern: Embossed Leaves, by Mona Schmidt (Interweave Knits Winter 2005)
Yarn: Wildfoote Luxury Sock Yarn in Peasant Blue (purchased for a super-steep discount from Sheep Shed Studio)
Needles: Knitpicks's new Harmony DPNs, Size 2
Modifications: None

So I found the cast on for this to be a little silly, and it turns out that Mona Schmidt actually intended for the pattern to have a "Two-strand tubular cast-on" (link goes to a tutorial Mona has on her blog). I didn't realize this until after I had finished the first sock, of course, so I had to just do the 2nd one with the silly cast on, too. Since then, I have discovered the elastic joy of the twisted German cast on and I haven't looked back.

These socks ended up being way bigger than I anticipated, so instead of going to my sister, with her size 7 foot, they are going to my grandmother-in-law, with her size 9 foot. I hope she likes them- I'm a little worried they may be a little fancy for her tastes, but I know she'll appreciate the effort.

Lessons learned:
1. Stop being so impatient and do your Ravelry research before you cast on
2. Shave your freaking legs before you take close up pictures of them

Embossed Leaves socks

Monday, December 3, 2007

When Farrah discovers shawls

I have to admit, I never really thought I'd knit one. They're beautiful for sure, but my fashion sense can be dubious enough as it is, without adding elaborate lace work into the mix. But it's Christmas, and I wanted to knit something for my Grandma Betty, so what better occasion to try the wonder of lace?
Shetland Triangle Shawl
Pattern: Shetland Triangle Shawl from Scarf Style
Yarn: Not even a full skein of Schaefer Anne (a yarn souvenir from a trip to Philly this past summer, in which I dragged 5 non-knitters into the tiny Rosie's Yarn Cellar and it was such a cool place they didn't even complain)
Needles: Size 6 Knitpicks Options
Modifications: One extra lace repeat

Shetland Triangle Shawl

This was definitely a learning experience- I just am not experienced enough to do even the simplest lace when watching Heroes. Even if I really want to watch Heroes and knit, my desire is just not proportional to my talent. So I had to frog back a ton, and often, and it dented my spirit and made this thing take forever to finish. But as I got closer to the end, I began to fall in love and ended up even adding an extra repeat to the pattern to make it bigger. It still could use to be a little bigger, honestly, but I really think it is just beautiful.

Shetland Triangle Shawl

The best part is that I get to give this to my super-crafty Grandma for Christmas, who will truly cherish it and understand how much work went into it. And I actually sort of feel fabulous wearing it, which means I'm going to have to reevaluate my no-shawls policy. Great.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Best. Sweater. Ever.

I have some fun things to share, but I've been consumed with job interviews over the past 2 weeks. I will be back with pictures later this week, but until then, please enjoy the absolute best Christmas sweater ever. Please note: that is actually some pretty awesome knitting- the intarsia, the creative use of texture (see reverse stockinette mouth), etc. But let this be a lesson for us: good knitting does not aways equal good clothing.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Daisy Baby Set

Daisy Baby Set
Patterns: Upside down daisy hat from Itty Bitty Hats and Saartje's Bootees
Yarn: Cotton-Ease in Berry (with scraps of lime & White)
Buttons: Daisy buttons from Joann
Needles: Size 7 Circs and DPNs for the hat and Size 4 needles for the bootees
For: Coworker's baby shower

I wanted to make something quick but cute for a baby shower I'm going to this weekend, so I thought a little hat & booties set would be the way to go. I had some Cotton-Ease left over from the baby blanket, so I didn't have to buy new yarn. That means I could get away with buying a book, right? I thought so, so I ordered the Itty Bitty Hats book. I think I'll get some good use out of it, considering I will be an aunt soon and what kind of knitting aunt would I be if I didn't shower my little neice or nephew with hats?

The hat was pretty fiddly, though. You have to sew on the petals at the end and I had some trouble getting it right. Same deal with the booties- I had to reknit one of them because my seaming was so terrible. Also, the buttonhole loops were kind of fiddly, too. These things are cute and all, but I wonder if next time I should just knit a sweater?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Bringing the crazy for Crazy Aunt Purl

The book fair was this weekend, but it's not just any year at the book fair- Crazy Aunt Purl was speaking and signing books- woo hoo!

Of course, it couldn't just go down normally. I couldn't just arrive early, serenely knitting until the talk began. Instead, the Metrorail was taking forever and I spent 40 minutes staring the clock while my 3 male companions teased me about being late for the knitting superstar.

When I finally got to the book fair, I just start running around. I'm looking for building 3 to no avail, desperately searching for anyone who looks like they can direct me. I am actually sweating to a pretty uncomfortable degree by this point. Finally, someone tells me that building 3 is back near the metro stop (of course it is- that's where I started). Run back to building 3. Run up 2 flights of stairs. Open the door to the room, where I immediately see Laurie sitting at the front, listening to some dude talk about therapy. A woman at the back of the room who is filming everything gives me the evil eye and tells me to scootch down low so I won't be in her video.

Here's the best part- I am now disheveled, sweating, and breathing hard, trying to crab-walk my way to the empty seats, climbing over 10 people to get to, when a CELL PHONE BEGINS TO RING. It can't be my cell phone, because I had left that at the yarn store earlier in the day (same day-different fiasco). I'm in the clear. Except wait- it's coming from my bag. Crap. It's Bryan's cell phone, which I don't know how to work, so it's ringing and ringing and everyone is staring at me because I'm the jerk who leaves her cell phone on at the talk. I'm frantically punching at the buttons, trying to make it stop, but it just doesn't work.

It finally stopped ringing, and I started knitting, and Laurie started talking, and it was all a lot better. It was fantastic to hear her read from her book and even better to meet her afterwards.

Crazy Aunt Purl!

You may notice I'm wearing my new Ravelry tee, which I totally love. Even the aforementioned male companions, who are happy to tease me liberally for my knitting addiction, thought "where my stitches at" was a really cool tagline. There has been an absolute sh*tstorm over at Ravelry over the fit of these shirts, but I love love love mine and hope that Ravelry sticks with American Apparel. I also hope Jess & Casey are able to avoid taking the negativity too personally (I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be able to!).

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Cotton-Ease Baby Blanket

Blocks of color baby blanket

This past summer, I wanted to make something special for a friend who was having a
baby. I was kind of itching to make a blanket, but I wanted something classic looking and gender neutral, with no pastels or frills. I was having an amazingly difficult time finding what I wanted, so I cobbled together some ideas and made a go of it on my own. It's nothing revolutionary- just mitered squares- but I posted the result on the Lion Brand website and have gotten quite a few requests for the pattern, so I thought I'd post it here for reference.

Blocks of Color Baby Blanket

Color Block Baby Blanket

2 balls each Lion Brand Cotton-Ease in Maize, Lime, Violet, Berry, & Lake
Size 6 and size 8 needles

Gauge: 17 stitches = 4 inches using size 8 needles

· Instead of purling, I used backward knitting for quite a bit of this blanket and I think it was a real time saver. If you're interested, tutorial is available here:
· I tend to knit a bit tightly, so you may not want to pay too much attention to my gauge.
· This blanket is worked in rounds. I kept getting confused about the correct place to start the next square (which lead to lots and lots of frogging), so I included a diagram at the end of the pattern to help clarify. Hope it helps and doesn't add to the confusion.
· I wove in ends as I finished each round of blocks to make it less hellacious at the end. I highly recommend this strategy, because even with this provision, the weaving is pretty damn horrific at the end.

Stitch Guide:

DD (double decrease): Slip 2 stitches together as if to k2tog, then knit next st; pass 2 slipped sts over last knit st.

Let's begin!

Square 1:

With smaller needles and Light Blue, cast on 29 st. K 1 row. Change to larger needles.
Row 1: Slip 1, K 12, DD, k to end.
Row 2 and all WS rows: Slip 1 purlwise, purl to end.
Row 3: Slip 1, K 11, DD, k to end.
Row 5: Slip 1, K 10, DD, k to end.
Row 7: Slip 1, K 9, DD, k to end.
Row 9: Slip 1, K 8, DD, k to end.
Row 11: Slip 1, K 7, DD, k to end.
Row 13: Slip 1, K 6, DD, k to end.
Row 15: Slip 1, K 5, DD, k to end.
Row 17: Slip 1, K 4, DD, k to end.
Row 19: Slip 1, K 3, DD, k to end.
Row 21: Slip 1, K 2, DD, k to end.
Row 23: Slip 1, K 1, DD, k to end.
Row 25: K1, DD, k to end.

You will now have 3 stitches on your needle, with WS facing. Sl first 2 sts purlwise, p1, pass 2 slipped sts over last purl stitch. Fasten loop.

Square 2:

Using smaller needles and Violet (with RS facing), pick up and k 14 sts along the edge of previous square (see diagram), pick up 1 st from the top DD of the square, then cast on 14 stitches- 29 sts total. K 1 row. Complete in the same way as Square 1.

Square 3:
With smaller needles and Light Blue (with RS facing), pick up and k 14 sts along the edge of Square 2 (see diagram), pick up 1 st from the top DD of the square, then cast on 14 sts- 29 sts total. K 1 row. Complete in the same way as Square 1.

Square 4:
With smaller needles and Violet (with RS facing), pick up and k 14 sts along edge of Square 3 (see diagram), 1 st from the top of Square 2, and 14 stitches along the edge of Square 1- 29 sts total. K 1 row. Complete in the same way as Square 1.

You now have a big square made of 4 little squares and you're ready for the next round.

Using the diagram to determine where to begin, begin making the first square of the next round.

Using smaller needles and Lime (with RS facing), pick up and k 14 sts along the edge of the very first square that you knit (see diagram), pick up 1 st from the middle, then cast on 14 stitches- 29 sts total. K 1 row. Complete in the same way as Square 1.

Following diagram and color chart, continue making squares in order. NOTE: you only need to cast on new stitches 4 times per round (once for each side). Once you make the first new square on a particular side, every other square will only require picking up stitches- no casting on.

With RS facing, pick up stitches along an edge of the blanket.

Row 1, 3, & 5 (WS): Sl 1, k1, knit through front and back loop, knit to end.

Row 2 & 4: (RS): Knit.

Bind off loosely.

Repeat for other 3 edges of blanket, then seam the border edges.

Weave and weave and weave in the ends.

Block order

Color Block Baby Blanket: Color Chart

And the bonus pic that shows why all those freaking ends are worth it...

Blanket with baby

Monday, November 5, 2007

Juliet and the Birth of the Blog

Here it goes- my very first post! After a year of knitting, I have succumbed to temptation and started a blog to document my work and to become part of the crazy community of knitters online. I don't know any other knitters in real life, so I've been stalking your blogs for the past year (yes- yours, too!) for inspiration and vicarious knitting. Now I'm jumping in...

I'll start my venture into the blog world with a finished object that I'm just delighted with. Juliet, another genius pattern from the girls at Zephyr Style, is a pretty little thing that is easy TV knitting. I was pretty sure that this cardigan would look terrible on me, but for some reason I could not resist those assymetrical buttons! I had major concerns: I don't own anything with this empire style for good reasons, the idea of a cropped sweater sounded terrible for me, and the swingy-ness of the bottom was just begging to make me look pregnant (I'm not, BTW. Mom, seriously, I'm not). But the buttons! The fat assymetrical buttons! I could not resist their call. I irresponsibly ignored all my Christmas knitting and spent a week knitting Juliet almost exclusively.

The details:

Pattern: Juliet ( in size Small (I would normally be a medium but I read that this turned out huge for others, so I went down a size. It was the right decision).

Yarn: 5 skeins of RYC Soft Tweed by Rowan in Kingfisher

Yarn Source: Webs ( for only 4! Dollars! a skein! That makes this a $20 cardigan!

Needles: Size 10 1/2, on Knitpicks Options Metal circulars

Buttons: Shell buttons from a LYS (unfortunately not the deal that the yarn was)

Modifications: None. I made the cropped version and crocheted the button loops. I swatched some different lace patterns to try to change it up a bit, but none of them looked as good as the original so I just stuck with it.

Thanks for checking out my blog! I still can't really believe I'm doing this...