Tuesday, March 21, 2006

FO: Mom's wrist warmers

So far I have nothing but good things to say about the Last Minute Knitted Gifts book. I have a recent edition in which most of the errors have been fixed, and I've been thoroughly enjoying the patterns. I even love just looking at the pictures in the book.

So one weekend I brought the book up to my parents' house and had Mom look through it to see if there was anything she liked. Although she had once declared that she wasn't interested in wearing any hand-knit items, when she got to the wrist warmers, she said "ooh!" Her hands get cold when she drives, especially since she's been parking the car outside all winter (the garage has no room for cars for the duration of major home improvements that are taking much longer than planned). She has gloves, but she doesn't like to wear them because they interfere with her grip on the steering wheel.

I couldn't find the Noro Cash Iroha that the pattern suggests, but I came across the loveliest skein of Classic Elite Inca Alpaca at School Products. I believe the color is called "Island of the Sun," and it's a heathered blend of royal blue and teal blue, two of Mom's favorite colors. The yarn is the right weight, and very soft.

The pattern calls for two 8-inch circular needles. I have no circs that short, and the Denise set doesn't even allow you to make circs that short (though I tried!) After reading the pattern I decided there was no reason I couldn't use double-pointeds instead, which I happened to have on hand in the right size. They worked out very well, especially for the thumb opening.

It seemed important for the second wrist warmer to be a mirror image, as opposed to a duplicate, of the first, but the pattern didn't mention how to achieve this. I briefly considered altering the pattern so the twisted ribs would go in the opposite direction for the second one. Then I realized I could knit the second wrist warmer according to the pattern, and just turn it inside out when it was done. It worked out splendidly. No blocking was necessary either.

I gave the wrist warmers to Mom for her birthday, and she loves them. She wore them yesterday and they kept her hands warm while allowing a solid grip on the steering wheel. Yay!

Mom's wrist warmers
Started: March 11
Finished: March 12
Pattern: From Last Minute Knitted Gifts
Yarn: Classic Elite Inca Alpaca, 1 skein, Island of the Sun (1146)
Needles: US 6 bamboo dpns


Monday, March 20, 2006

FO: Airy scarf

On the way up to Pittsburgh, I knit an Airy Scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts for my aunt. She's been asking me to knit something for her ever since I started knitting. I chose the Airy Scarf pattern because it looked like something my aunt might wear, it seemed appropriate for spring, and I've been itching to try out Rowan Kidsilk Haze. It turned out to be a fairly mindless, relaxing knit, perfect for a road trip. I only had to count up to 10, which I can usually handle. (Anything higher than that and I start running into trouble!) While in Pittsburgh, I weaved the ends in, but decided to wait till I got home to block it.

Since this is my first finished lace project (I will finish Branching Out someday!), it was also my first attempt at blocking lace. I don't have a blocking board, and the dog sleeps on the bed, so the only appropriate surface I could come up with was our ironing board. I decided to more or less follow Yarn Harlot's lace blocking method. I threaded all four edges of the scarf with crochet cotton and pinned it down to the proper dimensions. Then I took a spray bottle and spritzed it till it was damp. The spray bottle I had on hand doesn't do a fine mist, just a rather powerful stream. I tried to angle it so I could hit a larger surface area with one spritz. Mostly I ended up with droplets on the surface of the scarf, which I patted with a towel. I suppose I could have soaked the scarf in the sink, but I was afraid to subject the delicate Kidsilk Haze to that kind of abuse. The next evening I freed the scarf from the pins, strings, and towels, and it retained its shape . . . for a little while at least. Before long though, the ends flared out again. I left it at is, since it's a birthday gift and there wasn't enough time to re-block it, plus I don't think it looks that bad, especially if it's going to be tied around a neck. At least the stitches look more even than they did before blocking.

Airy scarf
Started: Mar. 10
Finished: Mar. 10 (weaved in ends and blocked later)
Pattern: From Last Minute Knitted Gifts
Yarn: Rowan Kidsilk Haze, half a skein, Heavenly
Needles: US 10 plastic needles (cast on and bound off with Grandma's US 11 plastic needles)

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Raglan cardigan pieces

Here's what John's raglan cardigan looks like so far:


I put this sweater on hold for a few days, since we went to Pittsburgh for a long weekend and it's becoming too big to take with me places, but I knitted a few more rounds last night.

During our trip, I made a couple of Last Minute Knitted Gifts, of which I will post pictures soon. On the ride home from Pittsburgh, I knitted a few more rows on Branching Out, until the flu overcame me and my eyelids got too heavy to knit. Perhaps I should clarify that my eyelids don't actually do any knitting, but when they're open, they do enable me to see, which helps greatly when knitting lace. At any rate, it appears to have been a 24-hour bug, and I am feeling much better now.

It would seem that I am becoming obsessed with knitting podcasts. Cast On, Pointy Sticks, and KnitCast are probably my favorites at the moment. I have yet to actually knit while listening to a knitting podcast, though I have listened to them at work, at the gym, and while washing dishes. I find it very soothing to hear their lovely voices talking about knitting (and other things -- I honestly enjoy the digressions that sometimes occur though I know others have criticized them).

I have also been watching some knitting television. I checked out Lily Chin's Stitchcraft on Oxygen, which was fun though not terribly informative. I had heard it was a pilot, and I was curious to see how it would be developed into a series, but it doesn't sound like any more episodes are in the works. Then I found out about Vickie Howell's Knitty Gritty on the DIY Network, and I've watched a few episodes so far. The one on decorative stitches was actually very informative. Coincidentally (or perhaps not), Lily Chin was the guest on that one. She's very good at explaining and demonstrating techniques. Now I have somewhat of a clue how to do bobbles, drop stitches and beadwork, and the instructions are all available on the web site.

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Vintage magazine, sweater progress

This issue of Woman's World Knit & Crochet is one of the interesting finds from Grandma's apartment. It's from the late '60s, I believe. Some of the patterns are actually pretty cool and I may eventually try and make one of them.

I blocked the Fairly Easy Fair Isle sweater (thank you John for finding a suitable bin for blocking larger items!) and it's still a bit large but not completely unflattering anymore. I tried it on this morning and it was so cozy I didn't want to take it off. So I wore it to work even though I haven't finished weaving in all the ends. There are so many ends! The sweater is very warm, actually a bit too warm for my office most of the time. And it sheds mohair everywhere! But I think I kind of like it anyway. I'll have to get a picture of me wearing it.

I'm almost halfway through the second sleeve of John's zip raglan cardigan. The sweater looks super tiny right now due to all the ribbing, but it should grow a lot when it's blocked.

Incidentally, this amusing advertisement appears on the back cover of the Knit & Crochet magazine:


WWII Red Cross pattern

I found the above pattern for a V-neck Sleeveless Sweater in Grandma's folder of knitting patterns. (You can click on the thumbnails to view larger images.) It appears to have been typed up verbatim from this 1941 Red Cross pattern. Apparently the Red Cross had a campaign to recruit civilians to knit for the troops. I don't think Grandma used this pattern during World War II -- more likely she copied it from a friend several decades later and used it to knit vests for herself and her family. We did find several of these vests in her dresser, and I took one home with me even though I'm really not a sweater-vest kind of gal.

Here's Grandma's handwritten note which was paperclipped to the pattern: