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Archive for November, 2007

Over the doubt and protests of Glamorous, Adorable and Little Miss Law, I’m going to try and knit myself a shawl to wear at my wedding.  Yes, it will be happening in the hot LA summer, but evenings do sometimes get chilly and we plan to be outside having fun for most of the evening.

Here is the yarn I want to use:

It’s Knitpicks Shimmer, a supersoft laceweight that’s Baby Alpaca with a hint of silk and I love love LOVE the colors. 

Now I just have to figure out what to do with it.  The lovely ladies on the bride-to-be forum over at Ravelry have lots of ideas (including my own fave Frost Flowers & Leaves as a canopy or chuppa under which to conduct a Jewish ceremony) and examples to share. 

I think I want something rectangular or square, as opposed to round or triangular, because I think I’d get more use and wear out of something with Pashmina-like dimensions.  On the other hand, nothing beats working in the round, so perhaps I need to find a square design or get ok with a round one.

Motif-wise, I want something simple.  Perhaps with a sea theme, like seashells or stars, but nothing as intricate or angular as a bridal knot — I want to just get myself warm without a bunch of fussy, lacy fanfare.  I want something with a contemporary look that will fit into my clean, simple vision for my wedding.

I think I’m leaning away from a shrug or (heaven forbid . . .) a bolero.  At the moment I’m just enjoying the yarn and letting my mind wander over the possibilities.  The plan is to cast on after the holiday and get knitting!

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While The Baron and I spent Thanksgiving happily ensconced at home, eating mashed potatoes and green bean casserole in our jammies, Glamorous headed north to spend the holiday with our Mom.

While there, they played around with Mom’s new digital camera and, at my request, sent me some photos of my early knitting endeavors . . .

Not all bad, but by no means all good, here are some of the first knits to emerge from my needles.  After all, what are moms for if not receiving the clumsy but ardent “first tries” at getting crafty?

All the way back at the beginning of my knitting life, I started with a whole bunch of Lion Brand Homespun and some size 9 straight needles from Michael’s.  After getting the hang of garter stitch by knitting half of a very ugly scarf, I decided to branch out to ribbing with a scarf and hat set.

Looking back, I’m not as horrified as I thought I’d be about this little set, but I’m not too excited about it either. At this point, my homespun days came to an end and I discovered Knitpicks and became a yarn snob. I quickly worked up the Kate Gilbert Shining Star hat in Andean Silk with no regard to gauge and ended up with this too-loose cap:

From here, I got inspired and decided to teach myself sock knitting with some Knitpicks Parade (now discontinued) in Crayon and armed with Grumperina’s Jaywalker sock pattern. I was quite pleased with the end result:

I love the way the Jaywalker pattern and the long runs of the stripes work together in these socks. I knitted top-down on double-pointed needles and of course did not count my rows, so I ended up with ever-so-slightly different sized socks.

Next I tried toe-up socks with a yarn Mom specifically picked out for herself:

Since the first picture doesn’t do justice to the “wow” power of the yarn’s bright colors, here’s a better representation.

Pretty crazy, right? I really liked working with the yarn and it nudged me along my way to yarn snobbery.

I fell in love with the wonderful Clapotis pattern from Kate Gilbert and worked it in a single-ply yarn, all the while purling backwards, so that the stitches that were supposed to be twisted came out normally, and the stitches that were supposed to be normal came out twisted. Nevertheless, the scarf came out nicely and Mom seems to like it.

If you look closely at this photo, you can make out my shamefully twisted stitches.

Finally, my first really accomplished finished object, my first really long project, my first lace: The Icarus Shawl from Interweave Knits— it’s the one they’re featuring on the cover of their new best-of pattern book. In these photos the shawl is not well-blocked, and the horrible dye-lot problem I had is clearly visible — by the time I got to the end of the piece, I was out of yarn and had to purchase another skein from an obviously different dye lot — and it SHOWS. The shame!

The shawl itself was relatively easy to work. It’s almost entirely stockinette, so you don’t get to the lace until the very end.

For me the stockinette structure of the shawl was helpful, because by the time the lace came along I was feeling comfortable with the yarn (Mountain Colors Bearfoot in the Phoenix colorway) and feeling confident about what I was doing.

Looking back on all my clumsy first-attempt creations I’m struck by how far I’ve come — and how far I have yet to go on my journey of knitting adventures.

An extra-big thanks to Glamorous, who suffered through the world’s slowest Internet and smallest camera memory chip to bring me this pleasant stroll down memory lane.  I appreciate you!!

I’ll update shortly on my Tangled Yoke Cardigan progress (some) and the exciting new project I’m preparing to start.

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I have to admit, I am pretty proud of the little sweater I cranked out. It flew from my fingers, even with a false start, and the directions were easy and straightforward.

VITAL STATISTICS:

Pattern: February Baby Sweater from Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitter’s Almanac 

Made for: Baby Ella

Yarn: Knit Picks Bare Superwash Merino DK

Yardage: About 1 1/2 hanks, or 370 yards

Yarn Source: KnitPicks

Needles: US size 6 KnitPicks Options needles

Final Size: I’m hoping the sweater will be wearable by infant Ella and toddler Ella!

SMOOTHING OUT THE TANGLES:

Set-up and cast-on:

I started the sweater on US size 4 needles but after working much of the yoke I decided that the neckhole seemed too small (I wanted a sweater that would fit well for more than just a month or two) and so I went up to US size 6 needles.

As EZ points out in her directions, babies come in all sizes, so this sweater is a bit of an adventure with gauge. (This is a roundabout way of admitting that I did not swatch!)

Edges:

To make the sweater a little larger, I worked the button band six stitches wide instead of the suggested four.  Likewise, I worked the sleeve cuffs and the bottom edge of the sweater in six rows.

For the buttonholes, I worked a decrease and yarn-over right next to each other, then knit across the next row, and then on the following row I knit into the yarn-over two rows below.  I generally hate buttonholes, but these came out just fine.

Blocking:

A quick dip with my new Soak Citrus wool-wash (great suggestion Mick, I am loving the Soak!) and the yarn bloomed quite a bit.  The sweater went from baby to small toddler size, and I patted it into shape and let it dry flat on some towels.

Once dry, I sewed on the two little pink buttons I picked out from F&S Fabrics using a tiny tapestry needle and some regular white sewing thread.  Ta da!  Done!

A final note:

This sweater was so incredibly easy to work!  My student knitters are all agog over it, but really it’s just garter stitch, some increases, and a simple pattern, back and forth.  The very best part, though, is that the patterned part of the sweater is totally interchangeable.  Any pattern — even simple stockinette — would work (and in most cases, with very little nasty math).  I know I’m about forty years late to the party on this, but I am already in love with EZ’s patient (though sparse) instructions and simple but brilliant innovations and solutions.  The February Baby Sweater has been a joy to knit.

Finally, although there are many many pretty and well-made versions of this sweater out there (hello Ravelry!  I love you!) I was completely inspired by Brooklyn Tweed’s beautiful photos of his sweater.

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Welcome back, knitting-related blogs!  There’s been big knitting news around here in the past few days . . .

For example, may I present, for the very first time, in their brand-new Needlemaster case, my Knitpicks Harmony Needles!

And because it’s their special day, here’s a glamour shot:

I was concerned that the needles would be backordered, as the website said, but even though the package didn’t arrive as fast as my Knitpicks usually does, I was pleased at how fast the order went through. When the package arrived, it was like my birthday all over again . . . in fact, I basically got to open this gift twice. As The Baron would say, “kick ass!” Thanks again to my Mom, who treated me to the Harmony set and the case as a birthday gift.  I haven’t knit with the new tips yet, but they do feel like they’ll be durable: super-smoot and very light.  I was concerned about the colors being too much . . . they are a bit over the top . . . but now that they’re here I’ve decided the needle tips look pretty, and the colors aren’t as loud as they seem in many of the photos (including the ones above).

There’s been some actual knitting progress as well.  Moments ago I did the final weaving-in on my Elizabeth Zimmerman February Baby Sweater.  It still needs to be washed and lightly blocked, and I need to add the buttons, but the knitting is done-enough that I marked the project “complete” on my Ravelry page.  I hope to get it finished and sent off before the end of the week.  Here’s what it looks like:

I used 1 1/3 skeins of Knitpicks Swish DK (in their undyed colorway, bare) on the sweater, and I’m thinking if I have more time this week I might try and knock out a hat or some booties to match. On the other hand, I am looking forward to getting back to color and the Tangled Yoke Cardigan . . .

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Whew. That last post took forever to write and even longer to post. Right after we got engaged (like five minutes afterward) The Baron asked if I wanted to call my parents and I thought, no, not quite yet. Blogging was the same . . . I didn’t want to be “out” about the engagement on my blog too soon, but I also didn’t want to wait too long either. Clearly I am full of happy, jittery energy . . . in order to release it productively (and not drive The Baron away with wedding-planning) I’m going to start another wedding-related blog. If you know me and you’re interested, e-mail me. But enough of this wedding crap! This is still a knitting blog . . .

And I have been knitting quite a bit recently. Hopefully by Monday I will have progress to show off on the Tangled Yoke Cardigan and a finished baby sweater.

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Best Birthday EVER

Tonight The Baron and I will celebrate our third anniversary with a quiet night at home. For the past two years we’ve gone away for a joint birthday/anniversary weekend, but this year The Baron outdid himself with a birthday extravaganza. Tonight I’m hoping we’ll have just a quiet night at home.

The birthday started off with Little Miss Law and my sisters Glamorous and Adorable coming over for a night of pizza (from Lamonica’s in Westwood — the best pizza ever), birthday cake (the family staple: mint chip ice cream cake from Baskin Robins), and Monopoly. I have a bit of a competitive streak and so a few years ago I was barred from Monopoly (I’m also not allowed to do “voices,” but that’s another story), but this year I declared myself officially “mature enough” to handle it. We played for hours, until only The Baron and I were left standing, although Little Miss Law did make a very strong showing.

I also got some really kick-ass presents:

Dad & my stepmom sent me the gift that keeps on giving . . . thanks guys 🙂

Little Miss Law brought me a cookie-jar full of seasonal cookie cutters (she knows my weakness for sugar cookies . . .) in a cute glass jar, which I immediately filled with the cookies I’d picked up as a special birthday treat for myself — Mother’s Circus Animals . . . yummy goodness!

Glamorous brought a beautiful (although enormous) wooden salad bowl & tongs — salad is the perfect antidote to birthday cake and cookies!

And of course, yarny goodies:

My mom sprung for the Harmony needles for the KnitPicks Options set, which are so amazing that they are backordered at KnitPicks and I cannot wait for their arrival. The more I use my Options set the happier I am that I sprung for them — I can’t imagine working without them. The Harmony needles will be a fun and very useful addition to my set. Mom also tried to get the Lexie Barnes needle-case I’ve been drooling over, but with the Harmony needles on the way I decided to go the practical route and get a second Needlemaster case (which has already arrived and is waiting patiently, as I am, for the needles to arrive).

Adorable, thoughtful as always, brought me a wonderful gift: the news that she’d been hired for her first job. I could not be more proud of her. And to pile it on, she got me the coolest gifts from Jennifer Knits including a gorgeous package of beautiful red-and-black Dive Autunno yarn:

 

As though the yarn wasn’t enough, Adorable also brought me the most beautiful umbrella swift, made in Berkeley by Lacis. I’ve already used it several times and it’s a joy — the smoothness of the wood, the ease and simplicity of operation — I feel as though I’ve returned to a time when things were constructed with lasting quality in mind. The Baron helped me set it up in our guest knitting room along with the ball winder, and it’s just beautiful:

And The Baron came through with some pretty amazing plans and gifts himself. He orchestrated my birthday party game-night as well as cooking me dinner on Saturday and arranging a Sunday brunch-and-spa-day outing for me and Little Miss Law. He also showered me with gifts.

The Baron has a creative soul. A while back he made me the most beautiful photograph: a swirl of blue light on an inky background, elegantly framed in crisp black against a clean white mat. For this birthday, he presented me with the next two prints in the series. Breathtaking. They are going to make a fantastic addition to the walls of our as-yet sparsely decorated home.

I am always excited by sparkly holiday lights whenever we see them out and about or on trips to Target. We’ve talked a lot about getting decorations together for our first holiday in the new house, so I was thrilled to receive this:

And speaking of Target, we’ve been collecting their Library editions of boardgames and giving them to each other for special occasions. In honor of my birthday, The Baron added Stratego to our collection:

On Saturday, The Baron took me to the Huntington Garden. For his birthday earlier this year I gave him a membership for us, and since then we’ve enjoyed occasional trips to stroll the grounds and enjoy a beautiful day outside. This trip the weather was perfect, sunny but with a gentle breeze, and the garden was not too crowded. We saw this:

We saw this:

We found a quiet spot with a comfortable bench and sat here:

And then he gave me this:

We’re hoping to get married in our backyard next summer . . .

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