Saturday, January 29, 2011

etsy red wine yarn love

I know I can't *buy* any yarn till I use up the prodigious stash that has taken over our living room closet, but I still find myself window shopping, particularly on Etsy. Being on Etsy is dangerous to my resolve, though, because how gorgeous is this yarn?

Friday, January 28, 2011

wip: snow white

I'll admit I'm slowing down a bit on the second sleeve of Snow White - why is that 2x2 rib feels more monotonous than plain stockinette? 

However, having finished the body, I figured I'd see if that tubular cast on was indeed too tight, and so - following a helpful comment on an earlier post (thanks, Julie!), I ended up removing the circular tips of my Knitpicks interchangeables, and threading a length of embroidery floss through either of the holes typically used for lifelines so I could extend the existing circle. This way, I can be lazy and only have to replace a fraction of the live stitches back on the needles.

View from the back

The cast on *is* a bit tight, but the body fits perfectly so I'm not fussed. And the yarn is gorgeous! The color is a bit greener than these photos would suggest.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

maru elsewhere!

My Maru pattern can now be downloaded from the Knitpicks website! I'm so excited, even if it is a bit weird to see my own face on another website. When I lived in New York, I was a huge Knipicks junkie  but living out of the range of their shipping options has unfortunately put that on hold for the moment, though I do stock up on their awesome needles whenever I'm home. This sample was knit in Gloss HW, and I am so happy with it; it's a bit chunkier than the original Maru prototype, and also a little less floppy. I'd love to keep it, but I already have one dark brown Maru, so I told my mom she could have it as a thank you for sending me the yarn. 

above: Maru on Senbon Beach, with Fuji-san in the background.

Since the pattern went up a week ago, it's already sold much faster than the pattern on Ravelry alone did; I would definitely recommend submitting to the IDP program for any US-based designers. Knitpicks was incredibly nice and understanding to work with, though I felt terrible because it turned into much more of a production thanks to much international shipping drama - they sent their sample yarn to my mother, and then I had to wait till I was home in California to send it to them, as Japan recently cracked down on airmail packages to the States and now does Sea Mail only. Oof. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

fingers crossed...

Having vowed to get seven sweaters done this year, I figured I should start by doing one that's been in my queue for ages now: Snow White. I bought the yarn for this in April last year but have been quite embarrassingly put off by the tubular cast on. It makes no sense: I love knitting, and so should be happy to do anything knitting related ... except for the provisional cast on required to start a tubular cast on, apparently. I really don't know why it took me so long, because once I got started, the tubular cast on wasn't that bad at all. Only then I took one look at the extremely skinny tube I was knitting, and realized there was no way in hell it would ever fit around my waist, stretchy cast on or no. So I got to do it all over again, one size up. It really does go faster the second time around.

So that's the progress on Snow White so far ...Still a bit small, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed it will fit in the end. And yes, I am photographing the project on our tiny little bookshelf because the rest of the house is just too damn messy to be anywhere near a camera. Sad, but true.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

two hats

Things have finally settled down a bit after our whirlwind visit to the States for the holidays, so I was finally able to finish to WIPs that had been lying around for the last month. The first was yet another Thisbe hat, knit in madelinetosh Eyre, in the wren colorway. I ordered this skein last summer, and this was the yarn I'd wanted to knit the prototype for Thisbe in all along, but I hadn't taken into account the shorter yardage OR the extreme dearth of Eyre on the internet. Out of sheer desperation, I posted on the Ravelry Madelinetosh community forum, and found someone within 2 hours who not only had an extra skein of the elusive yarn, but who was willing to mail it to Japan. It was an awesome, Ravelry-affirming moment!

ps, please excuse that random strand of hair looking all weird. It's like that in *every* photo :( 

I've heard rumors that Eyre has been discontinued, which is a huge shame, because it was the most beautiful single ply yarn I've ever worked with - soft, drapey, luminous, with no piling so far. If I wasn't on my strict no new yarn policy, I'd be scouring the internet trying to stockpile it (Okay, so I did buy one more skein of it when I walked into Article Pract in Oakland and saw a big pile of the yarn in the same colorway I'd been so desperately searching for back in Japan - but that was before January 1st, so it doesn't count. Right?).

The other WIP was another excuse to play with a gorgeous yarn, this time a skein of Malabrigo Rios. Living in Japan, I'm a bit slow to check out new yarns, but was finally able to order a skein in sunset. I doubt I'd be able to say anything new about this yarn, but at the very least, I can add my voice the the chorus of praise: the yarn withstood repeated frogging with no splitting or piling, and is amazingly soft.The hat ... I'm not so sure about. It's not been blocked yet, so I'm withholding judgement for now. I lost my notes but am working on re-writing them up, and I totally fudged the top decreases (I am amazingly lazy when it comes to knits for myself) and need to sort that out too, if I were ever to make another.

Monday, January 10, 2011

new york handwarmers

While we were visiting California, my sister asked for a pair of fingerless handwarmers for her New Years trip to New York; though I actually suspect these won't be warm enough for New York's insanely cold winters,  I do think they'll suit her life in slightly-less-cold San Francisco. She chose the yarn herself - Cascade 220 in Palm - and I bought it for her as a thank for letting us use her car for the week. The pattern itself is improvised, mostly because my mom's printer wasn't working* and I couldn't be bothered to go on the internet and find an existing pattern to print. They're not the most shockingly original things (just a K2P1 rib all around) and unfortunately I've since lost the notes I scribbled (along with my entire knitting notebook!) but she seemed happy enough:

above: modeling her Marian cowl and new hand-warmers.

* later, it was determined that the printer wasn't working because no one had removed that little orange sticker over the new cartridge that says 'remove before printing.' Heh, oops. 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

2010 sweaters

I love making hats and mittens, but I will always be a sweater knitter at heart. I started knitting because I dreamed about making my own sweaters, and over the years since then, I've always measured my ability as a knitter by what sort of sweaters I was able to knit. Sweaters, for me, are the perfect knitting project - they take long enough that there's a sense of accomplishment afterwards, but there's enough variation in the construction to keep from getting bored. There's just something immensely satisfying, also, about making an actual garment - especially since I'm generally too scattered to remember to wear mittens every day, but I can (at least) be counted on to wear clothes.

In any case, here are the sweaters of 2010: above was the first I managed to finish, a Vine Yoke cardigan in Dream in Color Classy (Deep Sea Flower.) This is such a gorgeous pattern. I was so happy with the resulting fit, and the color of the yarn is amazingly beautiful.

This Wispy cardi was a bit of a beast to knit: tiny yarn + slippery needles = one seriously unhappy Mikka. It was nicely portable, though - I did it a lot of this one on trains in Central Honshu during our cheap ticket local trains only extravaganza - and once it was finished, I wore it all through the summer. Though it may be awhile before I attempt a laceweight sweater again, I do absolutely love the delicacy and the drapiness of the resultant fabric. This was my first project with Madelinetosh yarn, and the luminous Gilded colorway was enough to make me an instant convert.

Francis Revisited - also in Madelinetosh, this time in tosk dk in Duchess - knitted up really, really fast: hooray for size 9 needles! 

I'd been wanting to knit Wendy Bernard's Favorite Cardigan for at least a year; this was tosh dk in Tart and it's probably my favorite of all the sweaters from the last year. The neck is quite wide, because I left off one raglan, increase and cast on more stitches, which I might not do again if I knit this again, but I was still super happy with the results. This is the first pattern I've ever knit by Wendy Bernard, and I am constantly impressed by how gorgeous it is - fortunately, now I have a whole book of sweaters of hers for possible 2011 sweaters...

And then there was a second Vine Yoke cardigan, this time in Lorna's Laces Ysolda Red (I know, groupie-est sweater EVER, right?) I wear this one way more than it's blue predecessor, as it goes better with jeans :-) I am especially pleased by the fact that I was able to squeeze a sweater out of just three balls, as Lorna's Laces is not cheap.

This Owls sweater was another re-knit: the first met its untimely end in the dryer at the beginning of 2010. My stepdad felt really bad, though; he even paid for the replacement yarn (Cascade Eco-Wool, same as the first one). The last Owls sweater was knit in hotel rooms in Hai Ning and Beijing while we taught at an insane summer camp in 2009, and then finished during my first visit to Iain's family's house in Scotland, so knitting this again ended up bringing back a lot of happy memories. 

So those were the sweaters of 2010! Considering the massive undertaking that sweaters once represented for me, I was a bit surprised to realize that on average, each of these only took me about two to three weeks, not counting for distraction. Also, yay for audiobooks: most of these were knit to the sound of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, World War Z, the Little Stranger and We Need to Talk about Kevin, amongst other things). Weirdly, all of these were knit during the hottest months of the year, which made trying them on a bit difficult at the time, but which was much appreciated by the time the cold weather finally rolled around...

2011 knitting resolutions

I'm pretty bad at New Year's Resolutions, typically, though I did manage to keep up my goal last summer of knitting six sweaters in the last half of 2010 (though I didn't manage to finish that Vivian sweater). I guess goals related to something I love doing are a bit easier than my annual promise to start jogging regularly, but in any case, here are my knitting-related New Years Resolutions for 2011:
  1. Finish the Vivian sweater that I started way back in December 2009. For real this time.
  2. Finish the February lady sweater that's been sitting in a sad pile next to my bed for four weeks now.
  3. Seven sweaters fit to be worn in public. (I love making hats and cute tiny accessories, but I really do love knitting sweaters more than anything else.)
  4. ... at least one of which that I've designed myself.
  5. Finish the reading/viewing for the Design Your Own Shawl class, for which I have woefully fallen off the wagon during the craziness of the holidays.
  6. ... and then actually design a shawl using the information from this class.

above: I swear I'll finish this eventually..

And, finally, one stash related resolution, and really the entire point of writing this whole post, because if I post it here, then it's official, difficult as it will be: 

7. No buying new yarn until I've used the yarn that's accumulated in our tiny apartment - with only 3 months left before we have to pack all of our belongings up and hit the road for a good 3 months of suitcase living, the last thing I need to do is collect more stuff. There is plenty of gorgeous yarn lying around to keep me occupied. 

So that's it!  What are your knitting related New Year's Resolutions? 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

new pattern: thisbe

It took a bit longer than I expected, but Thisbe is now up for sale on Ravelry! 

Thisbe was a Christmas present for my sister, who had  requested a red slouchy beret. It took me four attempts to get a hat I was happy with, but after a few false starts, I am quite happy with the resulting hat, which uses a twisted rib brim and a sinuous vine-like lace pattern. Several of my test knitters worked this beret in bulkier and lighter yarns (adding or decreasing pattern repeats) and they came out beautifully as well, so I think that this pattern can handle a lot of customizing to suit whatever yarn you have floating around :-) which is my favorite kind of project. 

buy now for $5 - with an extra 25% off during its first week, through January 9th!