Monday, December 24, 2007

Postcard Progress

Sometimes it's the little things that make you happy.
I just love how these two match up!

The postcard provided in the Solsilke kit is a nice way to mark how much is left of the pattern on my sweater. Also, it's fun to see that the apples are not the same as the sweater photographed. The postcard sweater has stockinette apples, and the Solsilke/Susanna Hansson pattern uses garter. They not only pop with color, but burst with texture!

I'm not sure if the postcard image is from a museum piece, or a test-knit by the Solveig/Susanna duo. (Perhaps I should check the back of the postcard!) The apples in the larger gauge sweater in Poems of Color introduce a third treatment to the apples. Interesting, this lack of continuity.

Looks a bit like a sombrero, yeah?
I'm just loving the process of this sweater. The photo was taken somewhere around row 38-- there are only 70 colorwork rows in this design. I've certainly slowed down to enjoy it. :)

The fabric is really, truly fuzzy.

Unblocked sweater underbelly.
Lots and lots of floats!
Unfortunately, I might just finish the colorwork over the holiday.
Let's see how long I can drag this out...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Holiday Edition

Can you ask for more than wonderful friends and family?

Last night I met up with my Wednesday night knitting group and we exchanged holiday gifts. I just can't get over how incredibly thoughtful and wonderful each and every item was. Thank you Dullknitters!

Deepa gave personalized knitting necklaces with Elizabeth Zimmerman's well-known words of encouragement.

Renee contacted Scout and commissioned personalized swag! She sent an image of the coffee house we meet in each week. (On the right is the only image I have from the space. This was taken over a year ago.)

This is the first stash item that just may be too precious to knit with.

Useful and tasty knitting gear from Addie and Marge:

We each received a yummy truffle from Celeste Chocolates, a Blue Sky Guide, and a homemade gift from Connie's pantry. I've never had a blue sky, but I just love it. It's chock full of great stuff in the Twin Cities. Lifted from their website (linked above), "[Blue Sky Guide is an]... innovative resource contains tips, information and coupons for products and services promoting healthy living and reducing environmental impacts in the Twin Cities."

That bottle? Homemade Cherry Bomb-- Vodka steeped over fresh cherries and infused with honey and casked for months. Mmmmmm. I'll try not drink the whole bottle and invite y'all over in a few weeks. Promise.


November couldn't join us last night, but did request a Holiday meme. I'm not a meme kinda girl-- although I'll offer an exception this time of year.

If you want to use this meme on your blog, feel free to substitute the winter holiday of your choice & to add/subtract questions.

What was the best Christmas present you got as a kid? I always loved the crazy-huge boxes of stuff from my great aunt. She would pack in paper, games, toys, silly items, a cute outfit or two-- I just loved opening them! They took forever to get to the bottom. I try to replicate this experience for my brother each year. He just laughs. The extended family moans. :)

What was the best Christmas present you got as an adult? The absence of an NRA membership.

What’s your favorite Christmas carol? Ukrainian Bell Carol/Carol of the Bells

How long can you stand to listen to Christmas music before you break? one month

How many Christmas albums do you own? 3

Did you ever go caroling as a kid? Yes. Lots!

Would you willingly eat fruitcake? No!

Do you own any Christmas sweaters? Absolutely not!

Did your family have any Christmas traditions? We always spend Christmas eve with the extended family, then would go to midnight service. Once 'the kids' (re: my brother and I) were in college the family started enjoying more alcoholic beverages. The last time we went to one of these services was in 2004. Only the drivers and kids under 21 were sober. I remember my brother leaning over to me and loudly whispering, "We're all going to hell." Lots of laughter ensued. I think 1/2 of my childhood congregation heard him. :)

Do you buy Christmas presents for your pets? A few treats.

What’s your favorite Christmas cookie? Simple butter cookie with an Andes mint in the middle. My aunt makes 'em.

What’s your stocking look like? It hasn't been out in ages and is probably in a box at my parent's home-- it's red with white fuzz and the diminutive form of my name painted in sparkles across the top.

What is the oldest ornament on your tree? My brother's first Christmas ornament- circa 1979. Why I have this, unknown. I'm adding it to his mega box this year.

Real or artificial? Artificial. I leave it up and decorated year round. :) After the holiday I wrap it in plastic & cart it into the basement.

How do you feel about Christmas letters? Love 'em-- as long as their short with a picture or two.

How far would you drive to see Christmas lights? A couple minutes, tops.

Are you a fan of tasteful or tacky? Classic. Tasteful.

Do you have any Christmas collections? I'm primarily a yarn collector. That counts, yeah?

Have a great Holiday season everyone!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Exquisite Beginnings

On Sunday morning I grabbed a project that I started a few weeks ago. It was not a secret-- just didn't feel exciting enough to talk about 1x1 ribbing on 2mm (US 0) needles. Here and there I'd knit a row or two of the tedious rib. Over the weekend I looked at it and thought, done! Time to play with a little colorwork.

A quick and not-so-fabulous morning picture after 2 days of colorwork:

The new project is "Wild Apple" or "Vildäpplet" from the Bohus knitting period-- a sweater designed by Kerstin Olsson in 1958. Kits for sweaters, hats and scarves are available at SOLsilke and the Bohusläns Museum.

Susanna Hansson certainly deserves a huge thanks for translating the original patterns from Swedish into English.

A larger gauge (7 sts/inch) Wild Apple pattern is available in this great book on Bohus Knitting: Poems of Color: Knitting in the Bohus Tradition by Wendy Keele (Interweave Press, 1995)

The pattern specifies 2.0mm for ribbing, and 2.5mm for colorwork and the body of the sweater for a gauge of 8.5 sts/inch. I found that I needed to go up to a 2.75 to hit perfect gauge during the yoke. After reading this post at the Bohus KAL, I'm planning to use a 2.5mm for the body and sleeves of the sweater. I'll work out gauge once again when the colorwork is done.

Now, to work with the yarn is to love the yarn.

It's a very fine 2-ply 50/50 angora merino blend. It's incredibly light and has an ethereal haze which continues to bloom after knit into fabric. The design of the colorwork-- careful gradation and simple purls during transition directly add to the surprisingly mysterious design. There's a bit of an optical illusion going on. This specific kit includes multiple shades of green and warm tones that reach toward bright & intense traffic-cone-orange.

Looking at a picture of a finished Bohus piece (above), and then seeing the colorwork up close & feeling this amazing fabric are completely different experiences. If you have the chance, go and view one of these in person.

I don't think I've ever loved any knitted work that I've done more than this.

Wendy Keele had it right. Bohus designs truly are poems of color.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


It's o.k. to admit that you're just not going to finish all of your holiday projects, right?

Ever since I was a kid I usually would opt for making gifts instead of buying them . For some, it's the perfect item. Others don't quite get it-- and that's o.k. Since I've been without a sewing machine for the last few months, and a loaned surger is arriving for a week or so tomorrow , I know any knitting project that may have possibly been completed from here on out will be on hold.

With that said, I give you unfinished holiday item #1: It's the Patrick sweater by Black Purl Designs. The neck/shoulder decrease section was poorly written-- we all know how the "at the same time" business works-- so I sorta stopped after I realized the neck opening was too small. This, of course, occurred after I had finished a 3 needle bind-off at the shoulder! grr.

It's ripped out and waiting for corrective knitting. Perhaps you'll see it on your birthday, Erik!

Unfinished holiday item #2:
Alpaca mitts for my brother-- modified Charlene Schurch pattern. (he doesn't know about the blog.) Soft as butter. There's a slight chance I'll finish by Dec. 24th. We'll see. I'm aiming to finish *at least* one to wrap up and place under the tree.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wee Tiny Lace Disaster

About a month ago I made a ground-breaking purchase... for me, that is. I've always thought of cashmere as an out-of-reach fiber due to cost.

I've been facinated with the Princess Shawl v2.0 knit-a-long on Ravelry. I followed up by checking out Heirloom Knitting by Sharon Miller at the MN Textile Center. After a short calculation of stitches, I've decided that I'm not 'ready' for a project this massive right now. Although it was fun learn more about it.

There are many reviews of cashmere yarns available at Fleegle's blog. (I just love her posts. Check out her amazing gossamer lace shawls and Bohus sweaters!) She lead me to Colourmart UK-- fabulously priced and deliciously soft coned cashmere. Customer service was fabulous-- many thanks to Robert!

About a month ago I ended up buying a few cones-- 3/45 65% Cashmere/35% Silk in Arctic blue (below) and a fingering weight 100% Cashmere in Garnet. Wowza. These are lovely fibers.

Since then, I've stopped all fiber-related purchases. On 12/15/07 I'll celebrate a month of 'yarn freeze' activity.

Of course, moments after the yarn arrived I knew I had to try it out! I knit a small swatch of the fingering weight in stockinette and washed it. It's hanging out on the shelf for a project next year. (It'll probably end up as a Faux Russian Shawl by Katie Nagoney & Ann Swanson in A Gathering of Lace.)

The lace (near gossamer) yarn was swatched with US 2s, 1.5s, 1s, and eventually 0s. Yes, 2mm was the perfect size. I've never knit lace with US 0s-- and it was most certainly a challenge! Of course, I decided to try a pattern with a nasty start: CO 8 stitches in the round for 2 rows-- Frost Flowers and Leaves by Eugen Beugler in A Gathering of Lace.

What a complete mess. Instead I knit a belly-button like I-cord with left-over koigu from the monster socks, then transitioned to the cashmere/silk.

Once I was past row 4 I was on a roll. Everything was smooth-sailing. It was a Sunday. The sun was shining. I was watching the Vikings in the midst of a winning game, even. (Who expected this turn-around even after Adrianne Peterson started to shine?)

Then, on row 19 I encountered a wee arrow. Somehow I didn't pay any attention to it.

Now, take a look at the left bottom corner.

Compare to the other corners. Arrgh! I didn't notice the error until row 31. By this time the sun was starting to set. Without the use of a headlamp, I don't know how I could fix this error on such wee needles.

I waited a week, then practiced fine-gauge lace surgery. After a bit of time, I think I got it-- but the stitches looked pretty terrible afterward. I decided to chock it up as a learning experience & frogged the whole thing. It was only 35+ rows afterall.

After the nasty defeat, I wanted to pick up a lace project that would certainly be successful and perhaps boost my lace knitting esteem! Lo and behold, in the unfinished project stash I found this beauty: Madli's Shawl -- Nancy Bush -- Interweave Knits, Summer 2004. What a delight to pick up a project and see every last stitch. The pattern repeats just zoomed by on US 6's. The yarn is two strands of KP's Alpaca Cloud in Tidepool. It's been in my stash just months after the yarn line was introduced. Is it just me-- or do others think this is this the absolute best alpaca on the market for the price?I'll be honest. I'm not planning to be faithful to the shawl. I'll work on it for time to time, but socks are still calling out my name.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Simple Holiday Socks

The koigu bit/'monster' socks are complete! These are all ready wrapped and under the tree. The recipient gnabbed them out of my bag when they were on the needles a few weeks ago and made sure to show me that they were a perfect fit. (Almost like this person knew they were for her.)

These are the first pair of socks I've knit on 2 circulars with US 1s. They both have a crease up the sides from the needle switching. This goes away after their first wash.

It's amazing to look at left-over sock bits in balls, then see them when knitted together. They look entirely different~ I thought the blue would blend better with the yellow/orange sections. I could have blended them together a-la-Charlotte Web style, but there were tens of ends to weave in as it was. This wouldn't be a big deal if the first 4 colors didn't blend well together. Ahh, well. knowledge for next time.

Last winter I knit the first sock below-- "Bittersweet" Lorna's Laces Sport on US 1s in a 4x1x1x1 rib. I pulled it out of the sock drawer of shame last week and have knit about 1/2 of the second. So far, so good. You know, knit bright colors to dissuade Seasonal Affective Dissorder and all... :)
Unfortunately, I've added to the drawer in recent history. If the color wasn't as bright, one might not have noticed it's departure.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Plastic Chucks

Originally uploaded by MamaHippycrite
Found on Flickr.

How cool are these? What a great way to show off your handknit socks!

There's zero support so some of us will never be able to wear them, although they're 150% more interesting than other similar (unnamed) products on the market.