Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Homeless Handknits Part Two

Today I bring you The Rescued Sweater.

A co-worker told me that she’d been out thrift shopping and found a handknit cardigan. Although it was much too large for her, she bought it for about $3.00 because she just couldn’t bear the idea of just leaving it there on the hanger all forlorn and abandoned.

She considered keeping it as a knock-around sweater, but it hung on her like a sail and just wasn’t comfortable. So she brought it to work and gave it to me, knowing I’d be intrigued by the work and hoping that it would fit me.

It’s simply exquisite.


Chocolate brown for the main color and cream for the patterning. The stitches are amazingly even and I cannot find one single mistake in it. Trust me, I’ve been over this thing with a fine-toothed comb, and this is the work of a meticulous crafter.


The Perfect Buttons

When I first got it, I did what any self-respecting knitter does when presented with stranded colorwork… I turned it inside out. Would you just look at those floats? They make me want to rush right out and learn to knit two-handed so I can make something this beautiful.


How about the way the sleeves are joined? There’s a section of stockinette which has been whip-stitched down to cover the raw steeked edge, and if you look very closely you can see a line of sewing thread used as a bit of extra insurance.


There’s only one problem with this cardigan… it doesn’t fit me.

I tried to convince myself that I actually like large over-shirts, but reluctantly concluded that it simply wouldn’t get worn very often. That’s no fitting fate for such a fine cardigan, much as it breaks my heart. However, since I’m pretty sure it will fit my stepfather, I'll be able to keep it in the family. At lease that way I’ll be able to visit it now and then.

Although if it accidentally gets tossed in the washer, I simply refuse to be responsible for the consequences! Hand-wash, mom, I'm begging you.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Homeless Handknits, Part One

Everyone at work knows that I’m a knitter. After nearly three years with this agency, it would be well-nigh impossible for them not to know, what with the steady stream of baby items given away. Not to mention the near-daily sight of me sitting in the best light in the break-room so I can knit during lunch.

At any rate, my fondness for yarny things is well known, and sometimes interesting things happen based on that knowledge.

One of my co-workers had been cleaning out some old boxes recently, and she found an old scarf and hat set, gifted to her many many years ago but never worn because they are so scratchy. So she brought them in and gave them to me.

Here’s the hat:


And here’s the scarf:


I thought at first that the hat was knit in the round, but then I found the seam.


I love the look of the decreases on the top.


There are a couple of holes that need repair.


It seems to me that I’ve got something in the stash which is pretty close to this color.


Then there’s the scarf.


It’s got fringe, which is something I don’t generally endorse, but the quality of the knitting is quite good.

It’s even got the tag on it.


This is the only flaw I can find in the scarf... one of those mysterious snagged stitches.


It really is quite lovely.


The hat is too small for my ginormous head, and the scarf is far too itchy to wrap around my neck. I think I’ll take some notes about stitch counts and cable patterns, just in case I decide to recreate them. Then I’ll give them both a good wash and take them to Goodwill. It’d be great if they end up in a good home.

Next up: The Rescued Sweater

Friday, April 17, 2009

Measured After Blocking

I like to swatch, really I do. It’s not only useful for getting the right gauge, but it gives me a chance to get to know the yarn. Is it splitty? fragile? underspun? overspun? should I use wood needles or nickel? does it leave dye on my hands? These are all things I would rather have the answers to before I start my projects.

The Ancient Woodland Shawl suggests using US 4’s (3.5 mm), but if there is one thing I have learned about myself, it’s that I knit loose. So I went straight for a set of US 3’s (3.25 mm) when I started my swatch. I cast on 48 stitches (twice as many as needed, because I’m just strange that way) and started knitting.

I promptly fell in love with the Helen’s Lace… what a joy this is going to be to work with! It feels wonderful sliding through my fingers, and the silk just shines and shimmers.

When I had knitted 52 rows, I bound off as loosely as possible so I’d have plenty of leeway to stretch the piece. Pinned out flat, it measured about six inches square.


Then I gave it a soak in some Soak and a spin in my salad spinner. At this point it looked like a very pretty green and brown drowned rat.


It looks much nicer draped across my hand.


Then I threaded some blocking wires through it and laid it out on the towel.


After that was the really fun bit… stretching the knitting out and showing it who’s boss. This entailed a certain amount of hissing and muttering, as well as crawling around on the floor with my backside up in the air. Lucky for me, my husband was busy watching hockey in the front room and there are no pictures.

Final result: and eight-inch square of a nice even fabric.


This is going to make a wonderful backdrop for the cables and yarn-overs of my shawl… and once again I’m at work and not knitting.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Attention Mail Carriers

It is now safe to drive down S___ Drive without fear of the crazy long-haired woman in the grey house.

I repeat: it is now safe to drive down S___ Drive. The crazy long-haired woman in question has received the package of yarn she’s been pestering you about and has returned to her home where she can adore it and pet it and coo at it.

Her husband, who is responsible for this whole mess in the first place, appreciates your understanding and hopes you will be as patient for the following three shipments.


My first shipment for Year of Lace 2009 arrived. My mother left me a comment last week about how I had all these blue projects on the go at the same time, and we figured it would be just the universes style if this first shipment were blue…

It's not blue. It’s green.


And brown


Lorna’s Laces Helen’s Lace Multi custom dyed in a colorway titled Mossy Oak. It’s 1250 glorious yards of 50/50 silk and wool, and I am absolutely in love with it.

More pictures? Yeah, I thought so.




I can’t believe I had to come to work today rather than knit. Sometimes being a grown-up is just about more than I can bear.

The pattern for this project, Ancient Woodlands, was designed by Miriam Felton, who designed both the Adamas and the Icarus Shawls. She’s done a number of beautiful designs, go check her out.


Trees. Great big ones, with cables for the upper branches, which will pull the middle portions of shawl in, making it narrower and giving a curved edge.


I’ve got the feeling that this project is going to push my boundaries and get me working outside the box, and I can hardly wait to get started.

Please, somebody tell me why I’m at work instead of knitting. But you'd better make it good, because I can just hear this yarn calling to me.

Monday, April 6, 2009

In The Meantime

The mailman didn’t deliver any packages to me this weekend. In fact, the mailman delivered nothing but bills this weekend. I need to have a talk with him about that. I mean honestly, the least he could do is deliver all the chocolate my friends have been sending me.

What’s that you say? You haven’t sent me any chocolate?

Well then, maybe the mailman is off the hook. I suppose my package has been distracted by pretty scenery… It’s probably gazing awestruck at a field of grape hyacinth. I understand, it happens to me frequently this time of year.

Obsessive checking of the mail aside, there’s actually been knitting going on around here. And, for a wonder, it is a glorious sunny day, so I actually have pictures as proof.

Here’s the yoke and body of the Blue Spruce Cardigan.


I’m through nineteen lace repeats, and I really need to try it on before I go any further. After the trauma of frogging the entire yoke, I’d really rather not have to rip again!

Here’s a close-up of one of the increase lines.


I purled the central stitch on the return rows to emphasize the line, a trick I saw on someone’s Baby Surprise Jacket. I like the way it sets the mitering off.

And here’s a good look at the Gull Lace pattern


It’s a very simple seven-stitch four-row repeat… which of course means that every now and then I embarrass myself by doing it wrong. I’m getting really good at dropping down a stitch or two to get things lined up correctly.

There’s also lace knitting of the non-cardigan variety. I was getting ready to take a trip to a retreat last month and I wanted to take along enough projects so I wouldn’t get bored. As I was poking at my sock-yarn stash, I could hear the lace-yarn mocking me from the other end of the container. Don’t look at me like that… I’ll bet your stash mocks you sometimes too!

OK then, I decided to actually knit with some of it! Rather than take the time to run the lace stash through the randomizer, I did the next best thing… I shut my eyes and grabbed.

I came up with this:


Malabrigo Lace in Paris Night

It’s a single-ply baby merino, and it's just about the softest thing I’ve ever touched in my life. I paired it up with the Cherry Leaf Shoulder Shawl from Victorian Lace Today, which was designed for fingering weight yarn. I’ve got no earthly idea how big it’s going to be, and to tell the truth I don’t really care.


This was taken with 206 rows completed and that mean that there are… 19 x 12… carry the one… add the border stitches…

That means there are 247 stitches currently on the needles… with just under one skein knit. Soon I’m going to have to move to a longer needle!

It’s a fun knit, surprisingly intuitive after the first few repeats.


The irony of knitting a lace shawl while I’m waiting for a shipment from a lace club does not escape me. In my own defense, might I be allowed to say that I cast this on before I knew about the birthday gift?

My husband must have been laughing into his beer the night I cast this on.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Stalking The Mailman

Well, the first shipments of Year of Lace 2009 have been sent. Folks lucky enough to live in close proximity to the store were able to pick their kits up, but I have to wait.


Yeah, that’ll happen!

I’ll be doing crazy things like calling my husband at 3 pm to see if he’s checked the mail yet. And maybe again at 4 pm. If the package happens to arrive while I'm at work, I'll probably embarrass myself by trying to bribe him with cookies to bring it to the office. I'll check when I get home from work, and quite likely check again just before bed.

In the meantime, I’ve got my February Lady Sweater to keep me occupied. I was much more methodical in my approach to the yoke the second time around, actually keeping track of how many increases I had done and making sure my buttonholes were evenly spaced. The mere fact that my second attempt at buttonholes looks so much better than the first ones makes me quite pleased with the frogging of a couple weeks ago.

I’ll tell you, though, I was so happy to finally be able to put the sleeve stitches off on waste yarn and start working on the body. I had 296 stitches on the needles by then, and the whole thing was getting heavy and unruly. I need to try it on again, but I think that I’ve got 5-6 inches left to go before I do the garter stitch at the bottom.

The weather here continues cool and cloudy, and the lack of decent light is once again an excuse for this post being sans pictures.

The flowers don’t seem to mind the grey, though. This is the time of year when the views change daily, with something new bursting into leaf and flower every single day. The landscape around me seems to be positively quivering with potential, fresh greens and bright flowers everywhere.

I just hope my lace kit doesn’t decide to take any sightseeing detours.