Friday, January 20, 2012

fo: bandana cowl

As part of my new years resolution to use up some of the stash I already have, I cast on this Bandana Cowl a few day ago, using an errant ball of Malabrigo Twist that I bought more than a year ago. I want to say the color is zinc, but I wouldn't swear to it - in any case, it's a very pretty light grey with an overtone of pink to it. I'm pretty happy with the yarn - pattern combination, as it was *just* enough yarn (I actually omitted the final decrease round, just to be safe) and the resulting cowl is squishy and cozy. Knitting this totally reminded me that Twist may be my favorite Malabrigo base, it's just so crazy soft. 

The Bandana Cowl pattern itself is very pretty and easy to follow. If I had any fear of short rows in the past, I definitely do not now, because there are a *lot* of them in this pattern, and you definitely get used to them. This was exactly the kind of pattern I wanted to knit - something fast, mindless enough for late night tv watching, and good for using whatever you have on hand, rather than something you have to buy new yarn for. The resulting garment is a bit slouchier than I'd imagined, but I like it nonetheless :) 

Raveled here

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

fo: selbu modern

Yay, Fair Isle hat! I'd been afraid of Fair Isle for so long - I tried doing it once, when we were living in Tokyo, and it just kept unraveling in my hands, and the whole thing just put me off the technique for ages. I'd been wanting to learn it properly for some time, though, since there are so many gorgeous patterns using Fair Isle out there. This time, it came much easier, possibly because I bothered to read the online tutorial carefully for once (something I am extremely bad about), even if it took awhile to get the hang of holding yarn in both my right and left hands (usually I just hold my yarn in my right hand). It's not perfect, but I'm still pretty happy with it - the excitement I felt while knitting this was almost akin to the excitement I felt the first time I knit anything: I couldn't believe I was actually doing it. 

The pattern is the deservedly popular Selbu Modern, which is free and easy to follow. I'd definitely recommend it as a first Fair Isle pattern - having just two colors to negotiate made my life easier, and it was easy to fall into the rhythm of the pattern and not have to look at the chart too much once I got into it. I used the recommend yarns, the Fibre Company's Fingering Canopy, which I also liked a lot - the finished hat feels just fuzzy enough. I blocked over a dinner plate, and am very happy with the resulting fit.

 Raveled here

Monday, January 16, 2012

2012 knitting resolutions

As nerdy as it sounds, I love making New Year's Resolutions - I like having goals and things to aspire to, even if I can't manage everything in a single year, and one of the cool things about this blog is having someplace to actually keep a record of said goals. Last year, I resolved to: 
  1. Finish the Vivian sweater that I started way back in December 2009. For real this time. Fail. This did not happen, not even a little. 
  2. Finish the February lady sweater that's been sitting in a sad pile next to my bed for four weeks now. This sort of happened, in that I unraveled the sweater (it was doomed) and knit it into a Goodale Cardigan instead. 
  3. Seven sweaters fit to be worn in public. This happened. You can read about it here
  4. ... at least one of which that I've designed myself. Also happened
  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. Fail. Never got back on that wagon.
  6. ... and then actually design a shawl using the information from this class. Or that one.
  7. No buying new yarn until I've used the yarn that's accumulated in our tiny apartment. I am very happy to say that this totally held for the first six months of the year. I went a little crazy buying yarn in preparation for returning to the States (had to get on those remaining five sweaters, after all), and gave up on the yarn diet while living in LA, which I'm okay with. The point was mostly to cut back on spending money on yarn for a bit and to work with what I had for the remainder of our time in Japan, so I think it worked out well. 

So, this year, I'm resolving to: 
  1. Finally learn to knit Fair Isle (as you can see from the photo above, I've already started that one, but I swear I made the resolution before I started knitting!) 
    1. ( Suck up all my knitting resolve and make the dream sweater I've been wanting to for years now - Ysolda Teague's Little Birds. Which means - terrifyingly - learning to steak as well. )
  2. Finish (or accept the failure of, and rip accordingly) the UFOs that have been haunting me for anytime from weeks to years now: Swallowtail, Mr. Darcy, Vivian, plus all the half-knit design prototypes that may or may not be working out. 
  3. Knit six sweaters (Going back from last year's seven; six seems like a good number). Ideally I want most of these to be more of the wardrobe-staple type: warm, long sleeved, neutral colors that go with everything. I never seem to have a sweater to wear, though I have a closet of brilliantly colorful bright sweaters with short sleeves. 
  4. Knit less selfishly! 
    1. (Specifically, make a sweater for my best friend's thirtieth birthday, and something special for my amazing godmother.)
  5. Work hard at designing...
    1. (... and design a sweater! This is the scariest one, but also the one I'm probably most excited about. I do have a sweater in my head, so it's mostly a question of getting it onto paper and into yarn.)
  6. Be a better blog / ravelry / twitter commenter person. I know I'm really bad at commenting on other blogs and responding to comments, which I usually blame on my hobo lifestyle, but I'd like to reach out more. 
  7. And finally, because it worked last year, focus on using the stash I have rather than buying more. I don't have a set amount of yarn to work through, but maybe once I've worked through about half the stash I've currently got? I think that seems fair. 

So that's it! How about you, what are your resolutions (knitting or otherwise) for 2012? 

Friday, January 13, 2012

last FOs of 2011

I managed to finish two more projects before the end of the year, though it took me awhile to photograph them. The first was a Spring Beret in a yellow skein (I bought and wound it over a year ago, and can't remember the exact colorway now!)  of Madtosh vintage, on size seven needles (rather than the larger needles used in the pattern); I didn't have any of the larger sizes handy, so instead I knit an extra pattern repeat to maintain slouchiness, which I think worked out okay. I was never in love with this yarn color, which is why it took me so long to use it, but I actually like it a lot more in hat form now - it's a bright, sunny color that goes with everything, so I think it'll get a lot of wear. 

I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that most of this hat was knit during an eleven and a half hour long Lord of the Rings (extended version!) marathon with some family friends. The hat took me the better part of one movie, I'd guess from between Gandalf's arrival in the Shire through the one where they were hanging out with Galadrial, if that's the sort of thing that makes sense to you. I really should have brought a bigger project along. Seriously, eight hour of tv watching without knitting was painful. But then, so was eleven hours of tv watching, period. Good to know that there are limits to my ability to be sedentary after all, because sometimes even I worry. (Raveled here

My Mara shawl, on the other hand, was knit in slightly less nerdy adventures, mostly in hostel rooms and buses while traveling through South America. I brought three skeins of Madelinetosh DK in Sugarplum (a gorgeous, sugary violet pretty enough to make me forget my usual aversion to purples and pastels). I joined the last ball a few rows after starting the ribs and still ran out of a yarn a maddening twelve stitches short of a complete bind-off. I was so desperate not to have to frog (I love the ribbed section best of all and didn't want to shorten it) that I was actually cutting off the loose ends to see if I could scrounge up enough yarn, but nothing worked. In the end, I found a spectacularly helpful Raveler who was somehow able to sell me a spare skein of the suddenly hard-to-find colorway and ship it to me in the midst of all the holidays. At four skeins, this shawl ended up costing a sweater's worth of yarn, but I'm okay with it because I love this shawl. I wore it all the time in Seattle, and it's amazing, like being allowed to go in public with a blanket wrapped around you but without the social stigma against going out in public with a blanket wrapped around you. I got compliments from cool grad students and my 91 year old grandmother alike. I may never take this thing off, seriously. 

Raveled here