Saturday, June 29, 2013

IS #28: Fall Already?

Don't worry, folks, the summer is still just getting into a groove, but that doesn't stop Knitty from putting out its First Fall issue! It might seem a bit early but summer is actually a really good time to start planning ahead for those cooler nights and shorter days. Let's see what we can find to inspire us, yes?

Copyright Jamie Besel
I was immediately drawn to Lewis designed by Jamie Besel. I love the lace detailing and deep V of the font, that draws a lot of attention up to the face. I also really dig the shirttail hemline, haven't seen that too often, and I really really love the wide sleeves. I have a few storebought sweaters with wide elbow-length sleeves that I think are really flattering. Into the queue!

Copyright Kristine Byrnes
Sugar Stick by Kristine Byrnes is a very interesting design... exactly the sort of funky cool stuff that made Knitty famous. I'm not even entirely sure what's going on in the pattern, seems like some colorwork and some lace and some twisting before it's grafted into a cowl but it looks really neat!

Copyright Kirsten Hipsky
Finally, the Ginger + Wasabi gloves by Kirsten Hipsky use a very simple colorwork pattern to make the gloves extra thick and warm. I liked this pattern primarily for the thoughtful details that the designer described: the double thick fabric, the no-purl ribbing, the sizing information. At a quick glance, details like that tell me it's a well-written and worthwhile pattern.

Did you find anything you liked in this issue? Anything else been inspiring you lately? Link along below and let us know!


Friday, June 28, 2013

FO Friday #20: Sock Foot Slog

I finished these wee little socks for my new nephew:

BMFA Socks That Rock Mediumweight, colorway On Blueberry Hill
The feet on these things look comically large, but they're only about 4" and apparently 3.5-5" is the recommended size for newborn sock feet. That seems pretty big to me but we'll see! I'm heading down to Long Island later today to meet him, which I'm very excited about.

I've entered the dreaded sock foot slog on my Tour-de-Sock pair:
Cephalopod Yarns Skinny Bugga, colorways Blue Ringed Octopus, Ghost Moth, and undyed
I'm not sure why but once I reach the gusset the sock just starts to feel endless. I love the cuffs, the legs are exciting because I'm still learning the pattern, the heels are fiddly and therefore interesting... then it's just sameness for a long while until the toe. When my socks stall out, they stall out here. That won't happen with this one, but the instinct to do so is there! Especially with more-or-less plain stockinette.

So my boredom prompted me to start something else:
Malabrigo Dos, colorway Lettuce
This is a prototype for my first shawl design! I've had the idea kicking around for a while now but haven't had time to sit down and chart things out. The actual shawl will be knit with an aran weight yarn so it'll be nice and thick, but I'm working up a prototype in sport weight because 1) I didn't want to keep frogging the shawl yarn and 2) it felt easier for me to see the pattern develop with smaller stitches. I'm really loving it so far and am excited about designing again! There's no deadline on this and I still need to figure out the edging but progress is progress.

Hope you have wonderful Fridays! Check out more FOs below.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Summer Lovin'

This, folks, is what summer is all about.

Under-a-tree sitting, stitch dictionary browsing, design ideas brewing, sock knitting, audiobook listening (preferably anything written by Orson Scott Card and read by Stefan Rudnicki), and ice cream indulging. I call that a perfect afternoon. Yesterday was a very rare Sunday where I had no pressing deadlines, no prior plans, and no Fiasco around to entertain. So I woke up and banged out the mundane housecleaning tasks early and just enjoyed a few hours to myself.

That sexy sock heel you're lookin' at is the hard won result of those few hours of concentrated knitting. I'm working on the third pattern of the Tour-de-Sock but I did not think the original heel (a Native American style eagle) really jived with my color choices, so I changed it! Not only is this my first real intarsia (when you use blocks of color in the middle of a row and don't carry it across the whole thing), it's my first shaped intarsia and the first intarsia design I worked out for myself... needless to say, there was considerable trial and error. But I sure do love the results even if they took effing forever! Since I worked so hard on the chart for this heel I'm thinking of incorporating it into a sock design... someday. Sigh. I need more afternoons for dedicated, concentrated knitting! They are certainly too few and far between.

Hope your weekends were lovely!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

IS #27: Colorful Feet

This Inspiration Saturday post is brought to you late in the day due to being up all night walking in Relay for Life for my company team. (If you feel inclined to donate, you can still do so here!) It was a total last minute decision but it was a great event for a good cause and I'm very glad I went. Since I'm enjoying working on my colorwork sock using Skinny Bugga yarn so much, I thought I'd compile a few more projects from Ravelry showcasing colorwork and Skinny Bugga... just because I love trolling Ravelry for inspiration and seeing the fabulous combinations of already fabulous colors. Be prepared for some WOW!

Copyright otilde
This stunning pair of socks was knit by otilde with CY Skinny Bugga in Charaxes Tiridate and Opalescent Squid. They are almost too beautiful for words! The pattern is Nightingale by Vintage Purls. If it weren't toe-up, I would be all over trying this one out.

Copyright Mireille7
This pair of socks by Mireille7 is really cool! The construction is interesting and I love the pops of color in the accent bands. She used SB in Maxima Clam for the main color and assorted leftovers for the accent. The pattern is Sock Strap by General Hogbuffer (that name???).

Here's another lovely pair knit by Mirielle7. For these she used Blue Ringed Octopus and Blue Lobster, a fabulous combination. The pattern doesn't appear to be available, fortunately.

Copyright beccas
Can you say holy-knee-highs?! This pair by beccas is amazing and wonderful. She used an older colorway of Skinny Bugga from the Sanguine Gryphon days, The Very Quiet Cricket, paired with an undyed skein. I have no need for knee-high socks in my life and zero desire to knit that much leg but man, do I want these socks anyway. The pattern is Neptune High by Glenna C. Good news: the pattern is written for either knee-highs or regular socks, so into the queue it goes!

Copyright evucis
And finally, I really like when colorwork takes whimsical turns, as in these lizard socks knit by evucis. She used SG colorways (Miss Spider and Beyer's Jewelr Scarab) to great effect, the way the bright green pops off the purplish pink is perfect. The pattern is Lizard Socks by Beate Zach and looks fun to make.

What's been inspiring you lately? Do you have a favorite colorwork pattern? Please share!

Friday, June 21, 2013

FO Friday #19: Partially Finished

I've got a few partially-finished projects to show today! Since it's been uber super busy around here lately, you're getting the short-and-sweet version.

Remember the simple drop-stitch scarf I was knitting for my physical therapist?

I finished the knitting in almost no time at all and am just waiting for the chance to block it. I improvised the design and actually ripped back from the photo in the previous post so that I could make it narrower. After doing that, I got pretty decent length out of only one skein of Malabrigo Rios! Yay for the magic of dropped stitches.

And then because of the birth of my nephew, I was overtaken by the urge to knit tiny things.

4 inch DPN for scale
So I made a wee baby sock for Logan. I used sport weight leftovers and only cast on 24 stitches which helped this little thing knit up in a jiffy. I hope that baby likes warm toes because itty bitty socks are kind of addicting.

Finally, this is nowhere near done but here's most of the leg of the third Tour-de-Sock pattern, Lebowski by Star Athena.

I love stripes, especially in such happy colors, and I'm digging the little colorwork bits. I am going to take liberties with the heel, though. The original pattern involves an intarsia eagle and the image is just not jiving with the colors I'm using. Plus, I don't like to get too fancy with my heels as they take so much wear and tear, they just need to be sturdy. I have a dazzling idea in mind but you'll have to wait until next time. :) Sidebar: why have I never used Skinny Bugga for socks before? It's fabulous! It still feels soft and wonderful, but has a lower cashmere content than regular Bugga so hopefully won't pill and fuzz up as much in socks.

And a gratuitous Darwin picture because he was feeling frisky this morning:

Awwwwww... ouch!
Check out some real more FO's below!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Happy, Happy Monday!

Three things that made me happy this Monday:

1) Discovering that people still liked me! All last week I thought I had received zero comments on any of my blog posts because I stopped receiving emails and because blogger said '0 comments', which made me sad. Not like I expect a ton of responses but I usually have a few on each post (and what blogger doesn't love comments?). But I was happy to discover today that if I actually clicked on the '0 comments', a whole bunch of Google+ comments showed up! Yay! :) Now please give me your honest thoughts on the Google+ comments, I don't think I like them (mostly because of the weird disconnect with Blogger) and I don't really see the advantage of using them. Any thoughts?

2) Residual soreness.

The Fiasco and I spent Sunday traipsing about Beavertail Park and Watson Farm in Jamestown, RI and it was a lovely day. Sun, wind, mud, water, and green green everywhere. And finally (saved the best for last)...

 3) My new nephew arrived today!

In the middle there is all 8.7 lbs of Logan, with his little grumpy gnome face and oversized hat. I wish I could've been there to squish those itty bitty cheeks! Top left are the beaming mom and dad, below is the happy big brother Liam, top right is a totally engrossed grandma, and bottom right is an already smitten grandpa. These pictures make me happier than I can say. :)

Hope your weeks are off to a good start, too! I am now overwhelmed with the urge to knit some tiny human things.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

IS #26: Summer Scarves

A while back I had started some mitts to thank my physical therapist for all of the magic she's worked on me. Then I put them down for a while, totally forgot about them, and lost the paper I had been using to keep track of what I was doing. Our last session is coming up soon and mitts in the middle of the summer seem kinda strange, but I felt like a light airy scarf would do nicely so I changed the plan.

Malabrigo Yarn Rios, colorway Archangel
Since I only have one skein of the yarn, I am using a drop stitch design knit on the bias (for tapered ends) to make the yardage stretch. I think drop stitch patterns are great for light, summery scarves and all those elongated stitches are particularly fabulous with variegated yarns. A basic, free pattern for the drop stitch that I knit a few years back is the Whimsey Garter Drop Stitch Scarf by Classic Elite Yarns.

Louisa Harding Yarns Jasmine
I have two criteria for establishing something as a good summer scarf: 1) it is airy and lightweight and 2) it is simple to keep track of and fun to knit, for all those times when you'll be knitting in the car on the way to a picnic or at the beach or around a campfire. (That's not just me, right?) Complex lace scarves are great, too, but sometimes they aren't so easy to bring around with you and they can look out of place thrown over a casual tee and capris, where the more basic designs fit in just fine.

Copyright Thirteen on Flickr
This is the Seafoam Scarf by Ali Green, another free pattern. It's a basic drop stitch design but by varying the number of times you wrap the yarn around the needle before you drop it, you get those neat waves. It's also a good example of how variegated yarns look awesome in this stitch.

Copyright amyKnitty on Flickr
This is the Montego Bay scarf by Amy Singer. It's a basic k2tog, YO repeat pattern but it's awesome for 3 reasons: 1) bias knit tapered ends 2) fringe! and 3) using amazing silk yarn. Summer scarves are definitely great projects to experiment with those non-wool blends. Add some silk, some cotton, some linen. Stretch your wooly boundaries!

Copyright ArlenesLace on Flickr
This one is a bit more solid than the rest but no less awesome. This is the Hypernova Scarf by Arlene's World of Lace. It's a chevron design that flares out fabulously on both ends of the scarf and, again, is great with variegated, colorful yarns.

Copyright Veronik on Flickr
This one, the Lace Ribbon Scarf by Veronik Avery, is very popular on Ravlery. It has a similar look to the previous scarf except it has zig-zags instead of chevrons between columns of openwork stitches and would probably look great in any thickness of yarn.

Copyright alliejay on Flickr
Finally, this is the Foreign Correspondent's Scarf by Lexy Lu. It's a tiny bit more textured with more involved (but still dead simple) lace than the others I've posted, but I've seen some gorgeous versions of this and I've had it queued for some time.

Phew, that's a lot of scarves! Do you have a favorite summery knit? Please link along and share your inspiration with us, whatever it may be!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Keepin' It Loose

Happy Friday, everyone! I have nothing finished this week because my knitting time was practically nonexistent, but I do have a little progress to show!

BMFA Socks That Rock Lightweight, colorway Melusine and some Bugga in Blue Lobster for contrast.
That is the beginning of the second Tour-de-Sock pattern, Chicane Socks by Debbie O'Neill. I debated earlier in the week whether to knit the second sock of the first TDS pattern and (obviously) decided to start the new sock. For one, I'll take almost any excuse to start a new project, the beginnings of projects are my favorite parts. For another, I feel less guilty about all my stash yarn when more of it's currently in use. And finally, by the end of TDS I'm going to have a pretty difficult time ignoring all of the gorgeous half-finished pairs of socks lying around, so the motivation to finish them should be strong minus the feeling of repetition that sometimes happens when I knit one sock right after the first.

This was my first time knitting any sort of colorwork that involves a significant number of floats on the back of the fabric (those long strands of yarn you see there). I was pretty anxious about keeping them loose since carrying the unused strand behind the work tightens up the fabric and in a sock that needs to stretch over the heel, that's not great. In fact, a sock with a too-tight-cuff is pretty much the worst thing ever. To help prevent this I went up a needle size, cast on more stitches than I usually use with this yarn (72 instead of 60-66), knit CRAZY LOOSELY especially when going from the end of one needle to another (give the float a little tug with your fingers after you knit the next stitch so it doesn't snug up too much between DPNs), and I elongated the ribbing and shortened the leg overall so the colorwork part would hit lower on the calf when worn, which works better for my short and stout legs... in theory. I have no idea if any of that will help yet but the fabric seems like it has a decent amount of stretch so here's hoping!

Anybody have some good colorwork tips? I think the third TDS pattern is going to involve much more colorwork so I'm all ears.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Finished! Sort Of.

While there were gads of people who finished their first Tour-de-Sock pair of socks within a few days of beginning, I'm pretty dang proud of finishing just this one sock within 9 days:

BMFA Socks That Rock Lightweight, colorway Bleck
Not bad for a week and a half of interspersed knitting! The pattern is The Secret Fan by Adrienne Fong. It has just a little bit of beading but most of it is pretty straightforward knits, purls, and twists. The heel was pretty neat, eye of partridge surrounding normal slipped stitch heel patterning that flowed nicely into the fan on the back.

The toe instructions were somewhat unclearly written but I have to give props for how neatly the toe decreases resolved themselves into a centered double decrease, forming a perfect inverted V.  I love when a designer pays attention to such details. This sock also had gusset decreases on the bottom of the foot, which was new to me but I don't think I like it any better than having the gusset decreases nearer the instep, I don't really notice a difference when worn.

Now, my dilemma: try to knit the second sock of this pair ASAP or move on to the second pattern of the TDS challenge? Chicane Socks by Debbie O'Neill is next up, involving a bit of colorwork and lots of little cables:
Copyright Debbie O'Neill
That pair is supposed to be done by Wednesday, June 19th. Besides the usual impediments to my knitting progress (a.k.a. work and life) I also have a very good friend visiting this weekend (who is not a knitter, sadly) and the yarn I want to use for the socks is not yet wound (and without a ball winder, that's slow going). So, really, there's no chance in hell I'll be able to finish that pair and probably not even the first sock in the next 9 days. That said, it was pretty fun trying to finish one sock by the deadline. I didn't quite make it, I've been a day behind the whole time, but why not try, right?

How's that for talking myself into then out of then back into a plan, eh? What would you do?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

IS #25: The Ultimate Book of Yarn Design

I've posted about being inspired by an excellent spinning book before, but MAN this one is fabulous, too.

This textbook-like tome will not teach you the very basics, like fiber characteristics and exactly step-by-step how to add twist to fiber, it assumes you've done that once or twice before. However, it does detail nearly everything else in a very simple and straightforward manner. Great information on washing fleece, using handcards and combs, using a drum carder, the differences between worsted and woolen yarns, different kinds of drafting to achieve those yarns, and (finally!) descriptions of Z/S twist and twist angle that I actually understood are all provided.

The basics are followed up by separate chapters on every conceivable type of yarn you can make. And I do mean every. I can't imagine any other yarns existing, truly. These crepe yarns are ones I'd really like to try out, they look so interesting and are pretty similar to the cabled yarn I'd made before, except they are 3-ply instead of 4-ply which creates a neat effect.

The book also covers the really crazy novelty yarns with very simple, easy-to-understand instructions. Best of all, it shows photos of nearly every yarn either knit or woven up so you can get an idea of what the yarn might look like in a finished fabric, which is super helpful with crazy yarns like the beehive pictured above.

And as an added bonus, the instructions for all of the different yarns are provided on little notecards that you can punch out and keep near your wheel or take with you for reference. As I hope you can tell, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can't wait to try my hand at all the crazy yarns within. Here's a review from the Knitty blog that I think is pretty accurate and shows additional photos from the book. It also reminded me that the author also did a sock knitting experiment to figure out which yarn construction formed holes the slowest, which was super interesting! As you can see in the first photo, I've marked many many pages that I want to refer back to, so this book was well worth the money for me. You can also see my spindle, I've been doing my best to spin for a few minutes every single day this month. I missed 2 days out of 8 so far... hopefully I'll be less busy in the coming weeks!

What books have been inspiring you lately? And are you spinning along this June?

Friday, June 7, 2013

FO Friday #18: Beautiful Bugga Blues

I finished this WIP early last week but was waiting to get better photos before I showed it off. However, the opportunity to get better photos is eluding me so you get crummy ones instead because I'm impatient! Hopefully the awesomeness is apparent regardless.

SG/CY Bugga in colorways Box Jellyfish and Blue Ringed Octopus
This color combination is no doubt, hands-down, my absolute favorite of ALL FREAKING TIME. Yeah. It's that good. The deep dark teal and pale greeny-blue-aqua together just makes my color-lovin' heart sing. Not to mention that it coordinates with nearly everything in my closet.

Freakish, right?
Somestimes the Fiasco and I play the "how many matching accessories is Alicia wearing right now" game. I don't know why but I get a strange OCD thrill from matching/coordinating everything I'm wearing, which I've done since at least high school. (Aside: but I weirdly hate when people wear an entire outfit all the same color, those velour pantsuit lungewear things from Old Navy drive me crazy...) Anyway, back to the shawl.

I started this puppy back in February 2012 and it took me 16 months to finish because it was boring as hell. The pattern is Flamboyan by Stephen West and it is without a doubt a clever, striking, and stylish design... I just hated knitting it. I am not a fan of large swaths of stockinette (it's the purl back rows that get me) and juggling three balls of yarn for the (very simple) intarsia was annoying. And then there were the endless three inches of ribbing for the edging. By the last row there were over 570 stitches on the needle and I think 570 stitches of ribbing is just too much for my taste.

All that aside, I do love the finished piece. It's a bit small for me to use as a stand-alone shawl (as in it doesn't cover too much of my upper arms, which I like for warmth) but it is a generously-sized shawlette that is perfect for the around-the-neck kerchief-style of wearing. I used Cephalopod Yarns Bugga on size US 6 needles and the combination made for a fabulous fabric. The stitches are smooth, even, and gorgeous. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that using anything besides Bugga (or another sportweight Merino/cashmere blend I suppose) would be a crime for this shawl. Bust out the big guns for this thing to make it extra special. The only thing I changed about the pattern was the bind off. I used Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off alternating between the knit setup and the purl setup where appropriate which made for a neat zig-zag effect on the edge. In short, I definitely recommend the pattern for looks and style if you're in the mood for a whole lot of mindless knitting. However, I will probably never knit one again. :)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

WIPWed #28: It Has Begun

Tour-de-Sock has officially begun... and as of this posting, 48 people have already finished their pair of socks. FORTY-EIGHT! Finished pairs! In less than 4 days! Insane. Absolutely insane.

BMFA Socks That Rock Lightweight, colorway Bleck
But hey, I'm on the third repeat of the leg of the first sock and I'm done with the beads for now! Not half bad, eh? The pattern is The Secret Fan by Adrienne Fong. I like the idea of the beads as an accent on just the one fan. I'm using slightly larger beads than called for, though, and think they look a little wonky (6's instead of 8's). Hopefully it'll look better on the leg!

BMFA Socks That Rock Mediumweight, colorway Budding Twig
I haven't shown off my Budding Lintilla shawl in a while, check out that progress! The pattern is intended to be knit with any amount of yarn, you just start the final ruffle when you have 25% left. However, my shawl didn't seem long enough at that point so I am knitting to the end of my ball and then will do the final ruffle with leftovers that some kindly Ravelers are sending to me. (I love Ravelry.)

I also got this, which isn't quite a WIP yet but will be someday:
My first fleece!
At the farmer's market over the weekend they were doing a sheep shearing demonstration on four Southdown sheep... and one of the fleeces came home with me. Woops! I've never washed a fleece before but the ladies in my spinner's guild made it sound so easy... we'll see. :) All that wool is currently residing in my shed stored in paper bags, after airing out some of the moisture from the heat of the day/being on the sheep, as pictured above.

I think it's neat that you can see where the dirt stopped penetrating into the wool in each lock.
The locks are relatively short-stapled and fine and have a springy feel. I think it's going to make great yarn (but what do I know, really) once all that dirt is washed out... I've ordered some mesh laundry bags and some drying racks and then will just need to wait for a free weekend at home (with good weather) to get this thing done. Honestly, the washing will be easy compared to the endless carding and spinning that will follow! Oh boy. Here we go.