Sunday, October 29, 2006

What's This Week Without a Little Halloween Craziness? OR "Have You Ever Woven In Your Ends With a Glue Gun?"

It's back to the crepe-paper crown. Insanity. I hate it.

But it sure is cute.

After abandoning it in frustration last month, I knit the whole thing in Cotton Ease. But it just didn't have the body--it didn't stand up. It was floppy, and it curled. So, in theory, I understand the concept of the crepe paper. But knitting it-Oy.

And when dear daughter decided to wear the birthday princess dress for Halloween (yay! already done!) I decided to get back out the crown and give it a second try.

I am here to tell you. People. Step away from the crepe paper. It rips like, every freakin other stitch.

What do you do to repair holes in crepe paper?

Voila! Glue gun and some silk flowers I cut off the stem.

Somebody stop me with the glue gun!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Quilt in Progress

I wrote a long post gushing about how happy I am to be quilting again.

I deleted it.

I think all you want to see is the pictures.

I hope to get this quilt finished in time for this show.

Sew! Sew! Sew!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Why, Hello! It's a F.O!

Were you all laughing behind my back when I said "Now that the kids are in school six hours a week things will be calmer?" I thought I'd be living free and easy, and instead my life seems to have exploded with kid chaos. In a good way. But still.

I was born and raised a perfectionist. However, I started having my doubts in my twenties regarding the merits of perfectionism. I read a quote "Perfectionism leads to procrastination, which leads to paralysis." (I've googled to find the author of this, and I can find plenty of versions of the quote, but no attribution.)

Maybe it's a little dramatic to use in terms of making sewing or knitting decisions. But, thinking of this quote does help prod me along to keep working, and make a decision to either finish or fix something when I am less than satisfied with it.

In my twenties, I had a job in NYC as an assistant fashion designer. I communicated daily via fax (I'm sure they now use e-mail) with our Hong Kong office regarding the production of our knitwear in Chinese factories. We got samples via fed-ex, and they were never perfect. Button color slightly off, fabric too flimsy, buttons not sewn on properly, missing details, intarsia wrong colors, etc. Once, believe it or not, we had an entire order of sweaters shipped on a boat with garlic, and the sweaters were stinky! We had to make decisions about which errors we could let pass, and which we needed to fight the factories to correct.

I think the most valuable lesson I learned at that time was how to weigh the pros and cons and make a quick decision, when to stand and demand perfection because it was really important, and when to let something go.

Anyway, back to the sweater. There are plenty of things about this sweater that aren't perfect, but overall, it is cute, the girl likes it, and I had fun knitting it.

I used Ann Budd's Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns. Because of my daughter's ability to outgrow sweaters in one season, I made this one with room to grow. I made the cuff 4" long seedstitch. Right now it looks cute folded back like this:

but it looks equally cute like this:

The raglans are a little messy, because I was watching "24" and didn't always keep very good track of whether I was on an increase row or plain row.

And I think I maybe went too far on the yoke, because I don't think the raglans are supposed to come together at the neckline.

And the neckband doesn't exactly meet my ususal standards of fabulous finishing.

On the other hand: It was fun to knit. I wanted to make something more than socks out of my sock yarn. I have been collecting Koigu for a turtleneck for myself, and this was a kind of "warm up". So, it served it's purpose, and I am pleased with it.

I have a lot of the third skein left over, I am envisioning matching knee highs.

And I've listed an unused skein back in the shop, in case anyone else is as enamored with this color as I am. I've also added another color today. Just one more week of the free shipping sale--take a peek!

Friday, October 13, 2006

On the Fence

When I mentioned last week that I intended to cast on for Ariann, Shannon suggested:

Black Cotton Ease.

Thanks, Shannon. A good idea. When I see a gauge of 19sts/4" and am thinking "next to the skin soft", Cotton Ease is something that automatically comes to my mind too.

The only problem is that my black CE is earmarked for one/or/both of these two sweaters:

The one on the left is Charley from Rowan 37 and the right is #2 from Vogue Fall 04.

If you are wondering "does she really have enough black CE for both?" The answer is: Um, yes.

Here are my requirements for yarn for Ariann:

1/ Soft next to skin
2/ First choice color: claret, or at least something nice to wear with both jeans and a black skirt.
3/ First choice: free from stash, or at least under $50

Knowing I have specialized in worsted weight wool over the years, I went stash diving. Here are the potentials.

They are all close, but not really perfect. The dark green Rowan Magpie on the top would be nice, but I don't see it going so well with black. And I am pretty sure I don't have enough.

The navy Jo Sharp Silk Road Aran is earmarked for a old Vogue '02 pattern (Double Twist, for anyone who has a Master's degree in old Vogue patterns) and if I used it for Ariann, I'd have too much left over. Can't deal with 5 balls leftover.

The pink is maybe too bright, plus I'd have to frog this sweater:

For which I was intending to re-do the bands.

Then I came across a new yarn on my LYS blog, Nashua Creative Focus. On sale, the price met my criteria. The color was perfect. It also met the softness test. Bingo.

But after doing a swatch (that's my sleeve-as-swatch method), I'm concerned that the fuzziness (there's mohair content) of the yarn is obscuring the nice eyelet pattern.

So I stewed about it all day yesterday, and went stash diving again, and came up with the original idea, but different color:

Cotton Ease in Sugar Plum. Thought about it all morning. Very pretty color. Smooth yarn would show off the pattern nicely. Soft against skin. Free from Emily's yarn store. But...not as warm-cozy-fall-looking as the dark red. More of a spring sweater?

And I just finished dyeing the yarn for another sweater I want to make this fall: Serrano.

Almost the same color, although it looks more blue in this picture.

How many holey periwinkle sweaters does a girl need? (Don't answer that.)

So this afternoon I took a new look at the dark red and I'm liking it again. I really do like the color. And, yes, it has occured to me to be very grateful that this is my biggest problem in life today!!

So, any comments? Suggestions? Should I just shut up and get to the contest I promised you already?

Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Socks are Calling

It's in the shop!

Don't forget the free shipping sale!

And if you are sick of socks (Sacre Bleu!) check out this sweater, and this sweater, both of which I plan to cast on this month.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

More Socktoberfest

I've been so busy with the dyeing that I haven't really given much thought to my own personal goal for Socktoberfest.

Here are some thoughts.

I could conquer Second Sock Syndrome and knit the mates to these lonely singles:

Gah! Does she really have 8 single socks? Nope, I accidently forgot one. Nine.

I could knit knee-his out of my favorite-ever colorway of Sophie's Toes; out of all the yarn I've dyed its the only one I've ever swiped for myself.

I could challenge myself to learn something new like the toe-up method a la Shannon.

I could get a jump on my Christmas knitting and make some Log Cabin Socks from Handknit Holidays.

Or, I could just dye yarn for everyone else!


Today Lolly asked about our sock history and here are my answers.

When did you start making socks? Did you teach yourself or were you taught by a friend or relative? or in a class? I tried several times to start a sock, but just couldn't get the hang of fiddly dpns. Two years ago, a dear friend gifted me with hand knit socks for my birthday.

Just looking at these makes me so happy! The world would be a better place if we all could use Koigu leftovers with such wild abandon.

I wore these when my 3rd child was born. You know: when you are unveiled for all the doctors and nurses and hospital staff and God-knows who else to see, but you're allowed to wear socks? Yah.

They are so sentimental to me and I love them. They were also so comfortable, that they propelled my desire to knit socks into a full-fledged frenzy. Conquer those dpns, I did.

I taught myself, using the Ann Norling basic sock pattern, and over time I switched to the Ann Budd book, which is pretty much the same. There is another version of the same basic sock for free here.

What was your first pair? How have they "held up" over time? Patons Kroy. They are the 4th ones in on the top row--the purple pair--in the photo below. I don't wear them much because they are the scratchiest pair I own, and I knit them too loose so they are baggy.

What would you have done differently? Started with a good yarn for my first pair, so I would enjoy wearing them, and ribbed the entire leg, as I usually do now.

What yarns have you particularly enjoyed? Aside from the obvious "my own hand dyed" (well, it's true or I wouldn't do it), the commercial yarns I love best are Koigu and Fleece Artist.

Do you like to crochet your socks? or knit them on DPNs, 2 circulars, or using the Magic Loop method? I knit them on bamboo dpns, and, although I'd love to learn 2 socks on 2 circs (see my problem with 2nd sock syndrome, above) I'm in such a nice rut with the dpns and I really love them.

Which kind of heel do you prefer? (flap? or short-row?) Knitting-wise, I like to do the flap, but look-and-fit-wise, the one short row heel that I've done looks nice and fits well too, so I really should do more of them. See "rut", above.

How many pairs have you made?

In the past two years, I have knit these pairs plus about 5 pair not pictured, because I couldn't find them or have given them away. Thirty five pair, give or take.

Close ups and details of the yarn, best I can remember (I'm not a good ball-band-saver!)

Trekking, Trekking 100, Opal Tiger

On Linie stripey, Trekking, Lorna's Laces, Fleece Artist

Patons Kroy, grey Opal handpaint, dark green Koigu, blue Koigu, pink Koigu, Lorna's Laces.

I have no idea what the blue fair-isle ones are, and I dislike this type of self-patterning sock, but sometimes I get sucked in when it looks so nice in the ball, the red are Henry's Attic Kona that I dyed myself--love these, the blue/green/purple are shorties that I made with leftover Sophie's Toes.

The denim blue and purple pairs are Knitpicks yarn that I dyed, the stripe is a Missoni discontinued (I love those), the royal blue I dyed myself and the navy and eggplant pairs are Trekking.

If you have any questions or need further details on any of these, I'll try to answer you in the comments.