Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I'm back!

I've been away for the past few weeks, first on a cruise (yay!) and then for more job interviews (yay! but also boo!). My lack of posting on the blog has been an unfortunate by-product of the lack of knitting I've been able to do. Things looks like they are settling down for a bit, though, so I'm back with more inspiration than ever.

As you know, the biggest source of inspiration is my sister's new edition to the family, which we just found out yesterday is a BOY! We are all so excited we can't even contain it. Of course, I immediately cast on for a celebratory sweater with some gorgeous baby blue Rowan Calmer I had waiting, just in case...

Baby Placket Sweater in Calmer

I'm starting with the Baby Placket-Neck Sweater pattern from Last Minute Knitted Gifts, but I may add a hood. We'll see how it all feels when we get there.

I was tooling around Ravelry yesterday and found the most gorgeous blanket EVER. It's from the folks over at Woolly Thoughts, who are "mathematical knitters". I kinda had my heart set on designing my own blanket for my first nephew, but after seeing this, it's all over. I mean seriously- look at this thing!


I will definitely make it using different colors...the pattern apparently has instructions for 2, 4, or 8 colors. I may do 4 shades of green, or 8 bright colors...I'll have to pick a yarn and start putting skeins next to one another. I'm so excited!

In other knitting news, I am using the materials the other Farrah sent me in our swap to make a pair of Uptown Boot Socks (from the Interweave Favorite Socks book that she sent). The yarn is Dream in Color sock yarn in the most gorgeous green-the picture doesn't do it justice. I never thought I would be one of those people who gets all crazy over sock yarn ($20 for a pair of socks, seriously? I mean, it's for your feet, right?) but the difference in both the knitting experience and the quality of the sock is so exponentially better with the DIC yarn, it's just ridiculous.

One Uptown Boot Sock

I have the cuff done on the second sock, so we're looking at about quite a bit of train knitting until I have a nice pair. I would like to have them done for our trip to the Smoky Mountains on President's Day weekend, though...I better get cracking.

So those are my WIPS so far, but I have my inspiration back, so watch out! I received some Socks That Rock yarn in a Ravelry trade that I believe I'm going to use to make Anastasia socks. Also, Raveler eyeloveit saw a gorgeous little cropped sweater at Anthropologie and gawddang it if she didn't go and figure out how to make it for herself-check it out on her blog.
I think I'm going to try my hand at this, too.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Simple Socks

Besides being pretty much the best girl in the whole world, my sister also happens to be the most adorable pregnant woman you will ever see. Everyone says this, but I have evidence...
Nicole in Belize
See? Adorable! (she's in Belize in this picture, by the way). Anyway, Cola is having this baby in June and I am super crazy excited about it-not only because I'll have a new niece or nephew, but also because I get to knit for it. Be prepared, blog friends- there's a lot of stick-legged baby coming.

Cola's socks

Pattern: Comfy Socks from Greetings from Knit Cafe
Yarn: Knitpicks Ambrosia in mint (2 balls) and some light blue color they don't have anymore (1 ball)
Needles: Size 2 Harmony DPNs from Knitpicks

Cashmere socks

This is the first pattern I've made from Greetings from the Knit Cafe, even though I've had it for ages. It's one of those books that I flip through all the time- it's filled with pretty pictures and everything is all bright and fun- but I never seem to find a reason to knit anything from it. I don't think I'm alone on this- I've noticed on Ravelry that most of the patterns have less than 5 projects posted.

This was my first time working with Knitpicks yarn, which is kind of hard to believe considering what a cheapo I am. I liked it- it's soft and the colors are nice and muted. What I really love here are those Harmony needles- like buttah, people. Love 'em. Can't see knitting socks on anything else.

I think that about wraps up my Christmas knits...from here on out we're looking at lots of baby stuff, with hopefully a sweater for me in the not-too-distant future. I just can't find a pattern that's calling my name. I've swatched and swatched some Rowanspun DK I have lurking in the stash, but so far it' s a no-go. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

A few little things

I may be a in a little bit of a post-holiday knitting slump. I'm going on a cruise in a little over a week and will have tons of knitting time, but I just can't decide what to start. Everything seems too small or too big or...or too something. Anyone have any ideas?

Meanwhile, I have a few little things to share. First up, my 2007 ornaments. I've been making ornaments for the women in my family for the past few years, and this year I combined my two favorite things- knitting and wine- to make korknisse.

Christmas ornaments

Pattern: Korknisse - free pattern by Manne
Yarn: Scraps from my Central Park Hoodie & Silk Garden from Mom's Lady E
Needles: Size 3 DPNs

You can't see them that well, but I found these little snowflake and holly buttons at Joann that I sewed on the hats for decoration- I think they really added something.

Next up, my friend Frank is running a half marathon next weekend and had the audacity to mention that he needed to buy a hat for the race. Seriously? Frank, seriously? We got on Ravelry and he picked out this pattern. I wanted to knit it up in something that would be warm but nice and soft, so I tried out Berroco Ultra Alpaca in this pretty heathered green.

Ribbed hat- top view

Pattern: Fig & Plum's Ribbed Hat (another free pattern)
Yarn: About a half a skein of Ultra Alpaca
Needles: Size 8 Addis

Ribbed hat side view

Yay- it fits! And I think he likes it!

Finally, I got a new phone! (Sidebar: I got a Sprint Rumor phone, which has a keyboard that pops out of the side for text messaging. I'm no gadget girl, but this thing is kind of changing my life). The day I got it, I came home from work and knit up this little cozy. I decided to make it with a stranded design to give the phone more protection, and I had all these bright colors of Sugar & Cream cotton laying around so I went with that.

Pattern: Improvised (aka pulled out of my ass)
Yarn: Sugar & Cream cotton scraps
Needles: Size 7 DPNs

Phone cozy

After making the button mistake with my cabled bag, I knew I had to do something less fussy with this bad boy. I picked up a magnet closure and then just sewed a button to the outside to cover it (this was actually a big of a saga).

Phone cozy open

That's what I got for now...hopefully by the end of the weekend I'll have some decisions made about my next big thing.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A Tale of Two Eleanors

Last January, I chose Lady Eleanor from Scarf Style as my first large scale knitting project. It turned out beautifully, in fact, that my mom saw it and fell crazy in love with it. She came down to visit for a week and pretty much kept Lady E wrapped around her the whole time. Yes, a chunky weight wool shawl- in Florida. She kept hinting that she would love a Lady E of her own (by hinting, I mean she kept saying, "wow...I would just really, really love to have one! It would be the best present I could ever imagine!)

I decided if I was going to make another Lady E, I would at least have to make it
with a different yarn, just to shake it up. I chose Noro Silk Garden because I had never used Noro before and found a great deal on it on eBay. Just for kicks, I thought I'd do a comparison here of the two shawls- same pattern, different yarn.

Lady #1
Yarn: 9 balls of Patons SWS in Natural Earth
Source: Michael's...bought 1 skein at a time using 40% off coupons
Needles: Size 9 Knitpicks Options
Total Yarn Cost: about $36

Lady Eleanor loves the ocean...

Lady #2
Yarn: 8 balls of Noro Silk Garden, Color #225
Source: Ebay seller allatthecove
Needles: Size 8 Knitpicks Options
Total Yarn Cost: $63

Mom's Lady Eleanor

So how do the two compare?

Lady Eleanor

With the SWS, it seems like the length of the colors suits the pattern perfectly. The finished object is rustic, warm, and comfy. My problem with the SWS is the fuzziness factor- it got fuzzier and fuzzier while knitting it, and now after wearing it regularly it's pretty darn fuzzy. Sometimes I think the ends even look a little ratty. All of that being said, I still really love it after a year and people still tell me all the time how pretty it is. Also, you just can't beat the price. $35!!!

Lady E front view

The Silk Garden seems to give a more crisp texture to the piece, and it only felt better the more I knitted with it. The finished piece is much lighter than the SWS and has a more elegant, light feel because of the silk. And of course the colors are gorgeous. My problem with the Silk Garden is that the color lengths are so long. At some points, I had done almost an entire row of blocks and I was still on the same color. It worked out in the end, though- I just paid more attention to the how the colors worked out and cut out the black pieces when needed. Pricewise, the Silk Garden was almost double the price (even with the awesome eBay deal), but because it was a Christmas present for my Mom, it was more than worth the extra cost.

So that's my Lady E analysis...I'd love to hear from others who knit this shawl to hear what yarn you used and how it's holding up!