Friday, December 22, 2006

Happy Holidays!

We leave for our hometown soon (yea!), but I am unsure whether there will be any knitting time at all as our schedule is packed (we have four sets of parents plus other friends to visit). Also, we are cutting this year's visit a little short since Matt just can't be away from the labs for long. Regardless, I am bringing along a full knitting bag with hopes that I'll have some free time here and there. I'm going to take along the Philosopher's Stone Socks that Rock socks and finish them, I hope. I also will take along the long neglected Yarntini Pure Falls Socks and then maybe a little more sock yarn...

Yesterday I received my Pick Up Sticks Sock Club Kit. This month Connie sent out the most stunning sock yarn - Posh Yarns Lucia in the color Passionale! The yarn is 30% cashmere and 70% merino wool - so soft! I can't stop petting it. :)

In stupid neck pain news: First of all, thanks for all the nice comments. It always cheers me up. :) As the week has gone on, I had thought my neck was all better, but then Thursday morning I relapsed. This time I went to the doctor and she prescribed a few different drugs and recommended I get some x-rays and an MRI. Hopefully we can figure out what the heck is going on. It's feeling much better today, but I'm sure the pills are doing most of that. I don't care so long as I feel good for the holidays!

I'll be taking a little break from blogging for the next week or so. I'll try to sneak one or two more posts in before the new year later next week. Until then, I wish everyone a fabulous holiday time whether you celebrate the solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa - oh, you get the point!

Have a fabulous winter celebration!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Rockin' Around

Quick, non-knitting report: At around 5:30am on Saturday morning I woke up with the worst searing pain. No matter which way I turned my neck it was intensely painful. Even putting my head on the pillow hurt! Geez! Since then it has slowly gotten better, but man, it hurts! No idea what I did, but we figured I must have pinched a nerve at some point. Ugh! What a way to spend a weekend. :(

As you can imagine, very little knitting happened over the last few days. I only today felt I could pick up the needles, but even then it was just to finish the toe to the first Socks that Rocks Philosopher's Stone sock. I'm going to take it easy on the knitting for a while until my neck is back to normal. I really like how this sock turned out. I used the garter rib pattern from Sensational Knitted Socks. The lightweight Socks that Rock knit up into a very nice, dense fabric and I just love the combination of colors. Now, to cast on for sock number 2...

In happy cheery news I received the final 2006 Rockin' Sock Club kit today (I'm staying home from work due to the neck pain). The kit included two colors! On the left is Rare Gems in mediumweight. Rare Gems is created when there are dying mistakes. Have you ever seen such a gorgeous mistake? On the right is the official December color - Mustang Sally in lightweight! I absolutely love both of these. The pattern for Mustang Sally is very pretty, but it involves beads...not sure about the beads...The color reminds me of another Blue Moon Fiber Arts color - Cherries Jubilee (I used that color in their cotton sock yarn, Sock Candy this summer). I just love the intense pinky reds. Yea!

So, not sure what knitting will happen in the next few days. Kind of depends on the whole stupid neck thing. Ugh.

Good news is that I did finish Durrow on Friday (I have a feeling the hours of finishing may be what killed my neck). More details on the sweater once it is gifted to the recipient next week. :)

Friday, December 15, 2006

Uninspired Friday Post

Nothing really to report here. I've made some progress on the Socks that Rock Philosopher's Stone sock. I really like the simple garter rib pattern (Sensational Knitted Socks book). I couldn't get the colors to really come out well in this photo. There's no pink. It's all navy, forest green, brown, and grey.

I've been in a bit of a blah mood lately. Not sure why, but I'm hoping the fact that I have a staff potluck at lunch today after which we are free to leave for the rest of the afternoon might brighten my mood. Yea! Afternoon off! Maybe, just maybe, I'll tackle the neck to Durrow. I still haven't heard back from the designer about the neck shaping directions so my plan is to simply knit the front the same as I did the back - genius! :) I'd heard online that a lot of people felt the neck came out too large anyway so this way it should create a higher crew neck. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Up, Up and Away

Interlocking Balloons

Pattern: Interlocking Balloons from Scarf Style
Yarn: Knit Picks Merino Style in Dusk - almost exactly 5 skeins (approx. 600 yards)
Needles: Size 5 (Denise Set)
Start Date: December 4, 2006
End Date: December 12, 2006
Comments: I had been looking at this pattern for a long time. I always thought it would make a gorgeous scarf, but the chart made my head hurt just looking at it. Don't get me wrong. I love a good chart, but for some reason, this one, with all the little dots, caused me a bit of anxiety. So, with my trusty chart keeper and highlighter tape I began and before I knew it I made it I was through the first repeat.

The Knit Picks Merino Style was perfect for this pattern, allowing for stitch definition, but incredible soft squishiness too. While this isn't a quick knit by any stretch of the imagination, it was a fun knit and I'll be happy to knit another one for myself. (This one is a gift for an undisclosed recipient).

I wasn't able to make it to the end of the the 10th repeat as I started running out of yarn, so I did a total of 9 repeats and 12 rows into the next. The scarf is 9 inches wide (as the pattern predicted), but 72 inches long! Perfect for the tall recipient! The scarf as written was supposed to be 62 inches so I was excited to get such length out the yarn even though I didn't finish the last repeat. I guess my row gauge was totally different (I rarely check that when knitting a scarf).

That leads us to the final gift knitting project of the season - a pair of socks (I totally bailed on knitting a stocking for my nephew. I've promised to do it for his birthday in April or, at the latest, next Christmas. He's 20 months old. I don't think he'll even notice.). These socks will be knit in Socks that Rock Philosopher's Stone (lightweight) using the Garter Rib pattern from Sensational Knitted Socks. They are another top secret project with an undisclosed recipient (Well, I actually asked the undisclosed recipient if he liked the color just to be sure, so it's not a total surprise, but I'm keeping it quiet anyway - shhh!).

***Knitting Group is tonight (Wednesday) at the Borders' Cafe in Wilmette (corner of Lake & Skokie). We meet from 6:30 until 8:00 and any yarn enthusiast is welcome!***

Monday, December 11, 2006

Why Are Weekends So Short?

I am a really strong advocate for a five day weekend and a two day work week. This weekend just flew by! I was able to put in some serious time with the Interlocking Balloons scarf (from the Scarf Style book) and I am very happy with its progress. I knit part of Friday night, Saturday afternoon, and as much as I could on Sunday. I have now completed 7 of the 10 repeats. The end is near!

The Knit Picks Merino Style is such a pleasure to knit. It feels so soft and has a great sponginess when it's knit up. I have more of this yarn in a different color set aside in my stash to knit an Interlocking Balloons of my very own (who knows when that will happen though...). I will warn you that the chart for this scarf can make you go cross-eyed. If I didn't have my chart keeper and my highlighter tape I would be hopelessly lost. Those are two very valuable tools that I highly recommend. Some bloggers reported the pattern becoming more intuitive as they went along. Well, not for me. I mean, in some parts yes, but overall I need to refer to the chart continually.

I'm finally working on the Yarntini Pure Fall Toe-up socks again. I kind of have been avoiding them since I new I'd be in trouble once I finished the foot. You see, I had plans to use the directions for the toe-up with heel flap construction in the Sensational Knitted Socks book, but when I read ahead it said to knit the foot until a certain length based on measurements that you can look up in the front of the book. I turned to the pages the pattern indicated and there was no chart! Well, I was a bit bummed and I've been poking about the internet looking for alternative ways to do a reverse heel flap when I came across another blogger who got hung up in the exact same way. She ended up finding the Generic Pattern for the "You're Putting Me On" Socks which is toe-up with a reverse heel flap! Hooray! So that's what I've just started. I'll let you know how it goes.

This weekend I also received my second mailing from the Sweet Sheep Sock Club. This month's yarn is Sweet Socks in the color The comforts of Home. Sweet Socks is the house brand of the store that is hosting this sock club. It's a lovely mix of colors - perfect for this time of year. The yarn is very soft and reminds me a lot of the texture of Sunshine Yarns. The content is 75% superwash wool and 25% nylon so it will make a nice pair of low maintenance socks. Man, I love getting surprise yarn in the mail!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Let it Snow!

Brown and Blue Hat, Scarf, and Mittens

Pattern: Hat and Mittens: Ann Budd's Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns. Scarf: Sideways garter stitch (cast on a good amount and knit away!)
Yarn: Ebay seller 100purewool - 3 skeins of 218 yards each
Hat and Mittens: Size 6 Scarf: Size 8
Start Date: November 1, 2006
End Date: December 7, 2006
Comments: The only thing wrong with the hat, scarf, and mittens is that they are still drying! I would love to wear them today, but as they are a bit damp I'm afraid they would freeze the second the -8 degree wind chill hit. Thanks to everyone who commented regarding my mitten dilemma. As you may notice, I decided to go ahead and knit the mittens and just use what was left to finish the scarf. I think it worked out very well. I can't say enough good things about the yarn or the Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns. These warmth-giving items would not be here today without their help. :)

We've got two holiday parties this weekend, but I'm hoping that on Sunday I can put in some time with the Interlocking Balloon scarf. Thank you to everyone for their reassurances regarding the color. I'm glad everyone agrees it is a good blue. I'm hoping to finish it sometime this week, but I have a long way to go.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

I love to knit

You know what? I love to knit. There's no hiding the fact. I enjoy the process and the product. I think it's so neat I can whip up a hat in one evening or knit a complicated scarf that will take days and days all with a couple sticks and some yarn. I can't get enough of the textures and colors and the patterns.

Monday night I started another gift scarf. It's the Interlocking Balloons pattern from Scarf Style. The yarn is KnitPicks Merino Style in Dusk and it is lovely and squishy. I've only done two of the 10 repeats, but it's moving along pretty well now. It was slow going in the beginning as I had to adjust to the complicated looking chart, but it is getting easier and the result is so cool. I love the undulating lines of ribbing.

I'd read the yardage requirement may be a bit off in the pattern so I made sure I bought a couple extra skeins as the person this is for likes long scarves (who doesn't?). So far, one skein got me 15 inches in and just over two repeats. I have 4 skeins left - Looking good! (It irks me to ask such a sexist question, but here goes, the color is ok for a guy, right? It's an intense, but dark blue.)

So, last night after knitting the scarf for a little while I decided to make a hat to go with a scarf I started (but haven't finished) last month. I haven't blogged about the scarf since I only worked on it at a couple knitting group nights and then it got shoved off to the side. The yarn is from the ebay seller 100purewool and it feels like Malabrigo. It's from Uruguay (as is Malabrigo) and comes in fantastic colors (like Malabrigo). It's sold at a very very good price and knits up wonderfully so it's a favorite of mine. :)

The scarf is just a sideways garter stitch. I kind of just cast on lots and lots (maybe around 240?) and started knitting in garter stitch. I put it on hold when I came to the end of the first of three balls since I wanted to be sure I had enough to make a hat and maybe mittens too.

The hat took nearly a whole ball - probably around 160 yards (each ball is 218 yards). I'm debating whether to go ahead and knit the mittens and risk having a narrow scarf or just tossing the mitten idea and finishing the scarf making it really wide. What do you all think? (I think I'm leaning towards mittens...)

Here are the details on the hat:
Pattern: Based on the hat pattern in Ann Budd's Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns (I added a little more slope to the decreases at the crown)
Yarn: From Ebay Seller 100purewool
Needles: Size 6 (denise set) with a gauge of 5 stitches per inch
Date Knit: December 5, 2006

***Knitting Group is tonight (Wednesday) at the Borders' Cafe in Wilmette (corner of Lake & Skokie). We meet from 6:30 until 8:00 and any yarn enthusiast is welcome!***

Monday, December 04, 2006

One Down...

Misty Garden I

Pattern: Misty Garden from Scarf Style
Yarn: Artful Yarns Portrait in Fazio's Mistress (#114)
Needles: Size US 7 bamboo straight(!)
Start Date: November 29, 2006
End Date:December 3, 2006
Comments: First off, sorry for the blob picture. Winter light and mohair just don't mix. :) As for the scarf itself, I'm very pleased. I'm not normally one for the feather and fan lace pattern, but it just looks so pretty with a lightly variegated mohair. This scarf is a gift for someone and I do hope they like it. I didn't make it my usual length (height of the person wearing it) as it seemed to be a dressier scarf. The total length is right around 60 inches and the width is 7 1/2 inches. The Artful Yarns Portrait was interesting to work with as it is slightly different than a lot of other mohair yarns. Instead of dying the center, core thread the same color as the mohair fluff, the thread is black. This creates a lot of depth when you see the scarf in person (as opposed to my less than good photo). I used right around a skein and a half.

Today I had hoped to announce the official finishing of Durrow, the sweater I'm knitting for Matt. Instead of working on my Tapestry scarf this weekend I decided to finish knitting the sweater. Unfortunately as I neared the end of it yesterday afternoon I hit a snag. I am knitting the front piece (the last piece I have left) and I got to the neck shaping. At that point I got lost. I've read and reread the instructions and it makes absolutely no sense to me. I'm sure I'm missing something really obvious, but I don't know what. I've emailed the designer and I hope to hear back from her soon. Until I get some clarification I'm afraid his sweater is just going to be in a pitiful pile.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Snowy Day, Misty Garden

How perfect to wake up on the first day of December to a beautiful snowy world! I couldn't resist a picture of the Misty Garden scarf I just started with the snow in the background. Kilby had to be involved too. :)

So, November was busy with trying to balance workout time with knitting time, but I
think I've got the hang of it now. Most of my November goals were met (just need to finish up a couple scarves for myself, no rush) so now it's on to December in which I will try to knit some for others (and me!).

December Goals:
1) Misty Garden Scarf x2 (one for me or someone else and one definitely for someone else)
2) Stocking (for someone else)
3) Cedar Bark Socks in Sunshine Yarns Hungarian Horntail Dragon (for someone else)
4) Jingle Bell Rock Isosceles Socks (mine, all mine)
5) Interlocking Balloons Scarf (for someone else)
6) 2x2 Rib Pure Fall Socks - started in November (me me me)

The Yarntini Pure Fall socks are moving along. As you know, I started them in November, so no matter what, I'm ahead of schedule. :) I plan on using the toe-up he
el flap instructions in Sensational Knitted Socks and if it works it will open up a whole new world of toe-up socks! I'll be done with the first heel soon. I may put off knitting the second sock for a little while to work on holiday gifts, but I don't know. I hate not finishing a pair...

The other night I cast on for one of the Misty Garden Scarves (that's the picture at the top of this entry) and it's really knitting up quickly. I'm using Artful Yarns Portrait in Fazio's Mistress. So far so good! This one's a gift and I really hope the recipient likes the colors. (The close-up is a pretty good representation of the color - a variety of shades of pink as well as a hint of orange).

This weekend I plan on working on my Rowan Tapestry Yarn Harlot Scarf. I haven't made too much progress so no picture today. Saturday night we'll be at the opera, but other than that I'll be knitting all weekend. :)

What's everyone else going to do this weekend?