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.