Sunday, August 24, 2008

Speedy Gonzales, the maturing sweater knitter

I used to see sweaters as a huge commitment, as if when perusing through pattern books and magazines and websites all the sweaters had "neverending wip" duplicate stitched right on the front. I'd admire the design and picture myself wearing them and even put them in my Ravelry queue. I'd also fret that I'd spend my whole paycheck on the yarn. So you can understand my surprise, now, when I stepped back and realized how far I've suddenly progressed in my most recent sweater. I had almost banished it to hibernating status when I picked it up again after finishing a whole bunch of wips recently. The sweater is the ever-popuar Tilted Duster by Norah Gaughan.

I know what you're thinking my loyal blog readers, didn't you already finish this? Yes, yes I did. I made it last year at the height of its popularity. Here is a very graceful picture of me with the finished product: I used Lion Brand Wool-Ease in this beautiful blue heather. I started the project when I was oblivious to yarn quality. While I have and will use this yarn in the future, it didn't fit this project. I needed to block the stockinette parts flat, which a yarn with 80/20 acrylic/wool just won't do. Plus, I didn't like the drape and I made it one size too big. I ended up giving it to my best friend and it fit her like a glove. There are few people I would give something to that I invested so much time and energy in, and I knew she would treasure it.

So this time I'm using Cascade 220, which I find drapes better. and the stitches are somehow more even. hmm... maybe that has more to do with my increased skill since last year, my increased knitting maturity if you will. (I have only been knitting for a couple of years).

Here are the pieces so far:
So back to my startling realization: I am just flying through this. I thought sweaters were supposed to take forever unless they were knitted with bulky yarn. I'm halfway through the skirt, and then just have to do the collar and sew on the sleeves. I think for the collar I'm going to set the first buttonhole lower so that the points of each front truly come together with no gap. I saw on Ravelry that a lot of people had done that. I could in theory finish it this week.

Another awesome thing about this project is that I think I will actually have some yarn LEFT OVER. I know what you're thinking, big deal. Well for someone who always finds herself scrambling and fidgeting through that last ball to see if it will be enough, and then finding out it isn't and I have to somehow find another to buy in the same color and similar-enough dyelot, it is a big deal! You should have seen me last week at AC Moore. I was on the floor with my almost finished lotus blossom tank and 5 balls of the same color yarn trying to figure out which dyelot matched the best. By the way, after trying many methods including knitting a few stitches with each ball (which I'm sure the employees there would have LOVED) I found a good method for finding a close-to-matching dyelot. I laid a yarn end with then ends of each of the five balls together on a white receipt I found in my purse, and eliminated one at a time until I had the one I wanted. I found that when you take away the most contrasting ones first, you are better able to see the contrast between the ones left. I haven't showed you the lotus blossom tank yet, for two related reasons: I don't like how it turned out (my gauge was off and I don't think I picked the right yarn) and I haven't woven in then ends yet. Right now it is just hanging out in a bag somewhere.

So back to the discussion at hand. When I finish the tilted duster, I will only have two wips left, the Jeanie reversible cable drop-stitch shawl (which IS taking forever) and the ripple afghan.

This weekend I started and finished a trio of cacti from the most recent Crochet Today.I used random leftovers and I think they turned out so cute! Amy had a pattern in this issue too. These wonderful crocheted socks using the new Red Heart sock yarn, Heart & Sole. I watched her make them and made sure the girl ringing me up knew it. Politely :) Coincidentally, I realized later, I bought that new yarn at the same time I bought the magazine. I think I'm going to knit it though instead of crochet it. Sorry, Amy. I really want to see the self-striping-ness! I think Red Heart is realizing their bad reputation because this new yarn is not scratchy acrylic but 70/30 superwash wool/nylon. And softer than some $20 balls of sock yarn. They have another new yarn called Eco Cotton, which I think is 100% organic cotton. I also picked up Patons Bamboo Silk, which is 70/30 (duh) bamboo and silk. It is so soft! I think I'm going to make a lacy scarf with it.

So that's how my knitting is this week. Heidi and I are off to the Takoma Farmer's Market, and then I plan to take my last dip in the pool for the summer (I'm going to NYC next weekend). I finished the Friday Night Knitting Club this morning so I'm off to start my next book: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Middle Eastern Conflict. I want to be able to truly understand what is going on over there. Tonight I'm going to Wolftrap, which looks like it's going to be an amazing time. I'll keep you posted on the sweater.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sunday with the girls...

Today we went to the Eastern Market. It was my first time going there and Heidi was showing us the ropes. Thanks to her for all of these photos.

I got a pair of earrings, a wooden block pendant, a bag of veggies, and a peach. We stopped at a Mexican/Salvadorian eatery. I got a chicken empanada. It was ok; very homemade-tasting, which I liked. Then we went to this awesome bookstore that the fire marshall should never come into. It used to be a tiny row house, no more than 12 or 15 feet wide, including staircases. They had books EVERYWHERE. Stacked from floor to ceiling in the front window, completely covering it. Four-foot stacks on each stairstep. In the door-less closets and kitchen cupboards. Even in the bathroom which they made public, they have books; there is a sign on the door that says something like, "when you are finished using the bathroom, please leave door open." They also had these great signs on simple index cards describing what was there. I bought a tiny book of Buddha's teachings for $2. At the end we took advantage of the free books table outside. We of course had to stop by the neighborhood's yarn store, Stitch DC. It was a great day. We were so tired by the end!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Stash and Yarn

Hi! I'm back! I'm really progressing on my wips. I finished the socks for Amy (I'll get them to you soon!). It's from Sensational Knitted Socks and is made from Neighborhood Fiber Company yarn. Amy is friends with Karida Collins, the owner, who makes a colorway for each neighborhood in DC. I think it'll be nice for Amy to have something knitted from a DC friend in a DC yarn :-).I'm also making amazing progress on Interweave's Lotus Blossom tank. But the blossoms look like aliens to me, thanks to comments made on the Stash & Burn podcast! Grr. I can't get that viewpoint out of my head now. I still love you guys. ;-)
Yesterday and today I played around with this leftover small ball of thick&thin yarn that I got from the craft exchange at the Crafty Bastards fair. I really like how the garter stitch on size 10 1/2 needles turned out.
I think what I will do is just add on more to this scarf with yarn from leftover projects. I started with plain worsted weight yarn so the edge wouldn't be thick& thin. It will also be cool to have around when someone visiting wants to learn to knit, an idea I heard about in Weekend Knitting.

I was really interested in seeing the content of the yarn, even though I was pretty sure it was only crappy acrylic. My naive idealism took over and I did a test I learned from a worker at Woolwinders: burn it! Apparently, acrylic will melt and smell like burnt plastic, and wool will not even catch on fire since it's fire resistent and will smell like wet dog (I wonder what different proportions of wool blend would do). Well here are the results:
Totally acrylic!

How about this segue...I lit the yarn with matches that I got from DC Coast. We got dolled up and went last night for restaurant week. We got an appetizer, main course, and dessert for only $35.08 each (though with wine, tax, and tip it ended up a lot more, but so worth it!). I got the Warm Balsamic Shrimp with wilted spinach, roasted peppers, and garlic toast as my appetizer. My main course was that night's special: Tilapia with garlic mashed potatoes and escargot. I really wanted to try a new fish, since I've only ever had salmon, canned tuna, and whatever whitefish is breaded and frozen into fish sticks. It was awesome. It was my second time having escargot. Last time was at a french restaurant in Georgetown and it was doused in garlic, which wasn't horrible. I actually liked it. But here I could taste the escargot more and it was really good! For dessert I got Creme Brulee, which is something I've been craving for a while. I don't love it, but it makes me feel so worldly eating it, and it was made well, with a slight almond flavor.

Also yesterday Wrap Style, which had been on sale for $5 on the website. I had given up on getting it, since I ordered it like a month ago and it seems like they didn't charge me. It was a nice surprise.

Well this weekend I am off to meet mom for lunch, get another ball of sugar n cream cotton for my alien...err lotus blossom tank, trying desperately to find a colorway that comes close. I swear next time I buy yarn for a project, no matter how exactly I calculate and buffer how much yarn I need, I will buy another extra ball. I hate running out of yarn!!

Happy knitting!