29 March 2010

Everything Works out for the Best

Sometimes, the knitting gods work to make everything come together for you. Sometimes, you have to help them out a bit.

I picked up six skeins of a lovely mustard-y Debbie Bliss Donegal Tweed Chunky on super-sale at Northeast Fiber Arts Center at the end of February. I would have bought more, but six skeins was all they had -- and the point of the sale was to get rid of the discontinued stuff, so six skeins was all there was.

Poking around on Ravelry, I decided that the Shalom Cardigan was the sweater that this yarn wanted to be. And a-ha! I had a conference coming up and, even though I was bringing my Confirmation class with me and therefore would be attending to them the whole time, I would still need something to knit on while sitting in the plenaries and workshops. I got myself all ready: wound up a couple of skeins, went to the store to buy the needles... and then all kinds of chaos and drama hit at work, and I stalled on the preparation a bit.

Friday, I went to the conference by myself (fortunately, this conference happened to be in Burlington, at a conference center a mile or so from my house), and I ended up arriving late, straight from the office, and didn't have my knitting with me. That was something of a bummer. Friday night, I went home, printed out the pattern, figured out which modifications I wanted to make and did all the math to make the sweater fit my body a bit better (it's made for a tall skinny gal, and... well, I have curves), dug out the needles I'd bought that week... and realized they were too short. I'd bought the 16" length, and there's just no way I was going to fit all 169 chunky stitches on only 16" of circular needle. But it was 11:30 at night. And I had to pick up the girls at church at 7:30 the next morning, and because I had ducklings to lead around all day, there was no chance of slipping out and hitting the yarn store when it was open.

Cell phones to the rescue. I texted Aubrey: "Are you still up? Do you have size 10.5 circular? Mine is too short -- 16" -- do you have longer?" She texted back: "I only have 40", is that too long?" "Perfect! Can I come pick up now?" And I did. 11:30 at night, Aubrey meets me in her driveway. She's wearing a very long coat and probably not much else. I'm wearing pajama pants, sweater, no bra. I'm trying to make some kind of "needle exchange" joke here, but it's not working. But picture it. (Needle exchange: get it?) What an awesome friend. Thank you, Aubrey.

I finally got to bed about 1:30. Got up at 6:45, made coffee, got dressed, and hit the road. Spent the day at the conference with the girls -- we all had an *awesome* time, and they were so inspired and excited. It was a long day (14 hours!) but an excellent one. And I knitted exactly one skein -- about 2/3 of the whole yoke. At the beginning of the day, one of the girls (the one who isn't the daughter of a heavy knitter) looked at the pattern and said "how much of that are you going to make today?" and I told her I thought I could get the yoke done in a day. Turns out, I was about right: if I hadn't had to rip out half my work at lunchtime because I'd knitted a row I should have purled, I would have had the whole yoke done by the end of the day. As it is, I was pretty happy with 2/3 of it. I worked up exactly one skein of yarn: a football field in length. Nothing to be ashamed of, for sure. When's the last time YOU knit a whole football field in a day?

The next day, I knit up a whole 'nother football field after church AND took a long nap in the afternoon. Yoke done, plus a smidge of the body. A third of the sweater completed (I'm adding sleeves) in only two days. Yeah, I'd say that's pretty decent work. The knitting gods and me, we make a good team.

(more about the mods I made in another post.)

26 March 2010

The Selbu Project: Complete!

Many people (not just my Mom) have been asking to see a picture of all the Selbuvotter mittens I've knit. Since I'm probably done with this project for a while, I thought this was a good time to post a pretty picture of them all lined-up. Or circled-up, as the case may be. Anyway, the gray pair at the top of the circle is the pair I actually wear -- the first pair I made. (You can see how much the pointy fingers have softened after even one winter of wearing. The rest of the mittens... well, that's for another post.

23 March 2010

Kiki Mariko in Its Natural Habitat

I cleaned my entire house so I could take this picture. Also because I had a houseguest coming. Turns out, knitting a rug is a really great incentive to get your spring cleaning done. I'm not even convinced that it's spring yet, but now I've done my spring cleaning! Woo!

(Also, can you tell I'm trying to get a lot of blog mileage out of this rug? This is the end, I promise.)

21 March 2010

More Kiki Mariko

Before felting...

(Husband: You're working really hard to hold it up. Try not to look like it's heavy.
Me: But it is heavy!)

(You can't see, but the bottom edge is hitting the floor in this photo)

Cutting the steek!

(I think they call it a steek because it has the word "eek" in there.)

And after felting/steeking/trimming.

17 March 2010

It Really Ties the Room Together

Kiki Mariko is done!

It started small, last May...

And grew...

And grew...

And then it got too warm to knit on such a big heavy wool project for a while, and there was the whole mittens craze anyway...

And then Mango totally lapped me. She started a Kiki a couple of months ago (claiming to be inspired by me... flattery will get you, well, not everywhere, but close) and actually finished it in a timely manner. FINE. I picked up mine again during the Olympics (not as a Ravelympics project, just as a "I really have to get this done and I am watching a lot of TV anyway" project), and finished the first week of March! Woo! I knit a rug, and it didn't take me a year to do it!

And I figured that, if I didn't felt it right away, I'd let it sit there for an annoyingly long time. So I finished it on a Monday morning (unusual for me to knit during the day on Mondays, unless I'm so drained I can't do anything else) and took it to the laundromat the same day (Husband laughed when I said, "I'm going to do one load of laundry... and felt that rug." Why would he laugh, do you think?). Cut the steek and put it outside to dry (Monday happened to be a gorgeous day), did a little scissor-trimming of stray bits... and voila!

It's a rug!

If I had it to do again, I'd do a few things differently. First, I wouldn't have used the black. It doesn't look quite so bad felted, but it was jarring enough during the knitting that I stopped using it toward the end. Second, I would have made a narrower steek -- four or six stitches would have been just fine, ten is excessive. Mango pointed this out to me, and I went down to eight stitches, but the whole rest of the knitting process I kept thinking about how much yarn those ten stitches (or even eight) wasted. It could have made the rug a smidge longer, right? It probably wouldn't have made a significant difference, but still. What a waste. That was a lot of yarn in the trash when all the trimming was done. Otherwise.... I'm totally happy with the pattern, and with the finished project, and I may very well make another one sometime. Fun knit!

Also, I did ~160 stitches (plus the steek) so the finished rug would be wider than the original. Finished measurements, felted: 51" x 42" I probably need to do a smidge more felting, but for now I'm too excited to have a new rug to let uneven felting stop me from putting this baby in the yellow room! Woo! Rug!

12 March 2010

Minimalist Cardigan -- need advice

So I've been working on the Minimalist Cardigan for a shamefully long time now. The truth is, I've gotten stuck: I'm not sure I'm going to have enough yarn for the sleeves to be as long as I want them. I've put up a notice on the ISO/Destash group at Ravelry, but no one's bitten yet (I may get desperate and take a different dye lot -- Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride does tend to be pretty color-reliable from lot to lot). I have been trying to get everything done on the body, including seaming as much as I can, before actually deciding that I need to buy more yarn.

I have another issue with the cardi that is more pressing, though. After steam-blocking the fronts and back -- and kitchenering the two front pieces together* -- it appears that the back is significantly larger than the front. The pieces aren't matching up at the shoulder in any kind of logical way. There's about a three-inch difference, which seems like it's probably too much to fudge where the sleeves are set-in.

What to do? I knit and re-knit the darn back about three times, and would really prefer not to have to frog it -- but if that's what I have to do, I will. Reknitting the back so it's smaller would, after all, mean that I'd have more yarn for the sleeves, and then I wouldn't have to worry about that as much. But I also don't want to have to do any math to figure out how many stitches I should have at the top of the shoulder (um, that's why I used a pattern in the first place: someone has already done the math for me).

I could also undo the kitchener stitch seam and knit a few more inches into the neckband until it's the right size, and then re-kitchener the stitches. But I think the fronts are a good size, and I'm reluctant to do anything that would make the shoulders of the sweater bigger. I like set-in sleeves on me, not drop-shoulder sleeves. I have smallish shoulders, and if my clothes fit too big in the shoulders then you can't tell how slim and cute I really am!

So: help? What should I do?

*Funny story about that kitchener stitch. I went to first-Saturday knitting at Mango's house and spent all afternoon struggling with it. I'm generally not one of those people for whom kitchener stitch is a problem, but I just was NOT GETTING IT that day. And since the only other project I'd brought with me was also a seaming project, it wasn't like just working on something else was really going to be an option. I probably spent three hours hunched over this one seam, and when I left her house I had gotten exactly half of it done. Three hours, for two inches of decent-looking kitchener stitch and two more inches to go. UGH. I went home, finished up some things for Sunday morning, went to bed... got up Sunday, worked all day, grabbed some dinner out, came home to settle in to the Oscars red carpet show... and did the rest of the kitchener seam with no problem. The half-hour red carpet show took longer than the seaming. Sigh. There is a funny shadow in this picture, darnit, so you kind of can see where the seam is, but when you're looking at the piece itself you can't see a thing.

08 March 2010

NHM #7

Or: this post is for my Mom, who calls me and says things like "I've been checking your blog every other day, and you haven't updated!" She also emails me when I misspell things or have poor grammar on Facebook. Thanks, Mom.

NHM #7 is done! Huzzah! This is my sixth pair of Selbuvotter mittens -- and my last for a while, but I will probably pick up more this summer, because there are still a ton of patterns from this book that I want to knit.

I've definitely fallen in to the habit of using Blue Sky Alpacas Alpaca and Silk for the Main Color (strength and shine in the silk, fuzzyness and warmth in the alpaca), and Frog Tree Alpaca Sportweight for the Contrast Color (yet more fuzzyness and warmth, plus the soft alpaca is right next to the skin!). I think it's a good combo -- the two yarns aren't exactly the same weight, but close enough. (And I don't like the full-on Alpaca and Silk pair that I wear as much as the pairs that are the combo. And all-alpaca, all-the-time, would be a big fuzzy mess with unsatisfactory stitch definition.) If either of these were publicly-traded companies, I would definitely buy stock.

I finished them a month or so ago (they took me a month, but I worked on other things at the same time and they were really only travel knitting -- one trip to Atlanta/Savannah for meetings, and two jaunts over to Boston to see the nephew), and have been kind of lazy about photographing and posting them. Sorry, Mom. In my defense, it's Lent, and things have been kind of busy.