Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Olympics Redone

Imagine my husband's horror when he found me surrounded by pieces of graph paper...and my Olympic Sweater no longer in one piece...

The day of the closing ceremonies found me knitting frantically, straight from the detached top of the original sweater onto the body of my even more modified sweater....with a new goal of completing the re-knitting of the body of the sweater by the time the flame went out. What triggered this madness? It was the debut wearing of the Leaf Lace pullover - it kept buckling across the top of my chest, and the neckline was slumping in a most unattractive manner. Did I make it? Yes, yes I did. And the new design is much improved over the first, I think :)

Have a look here and tell me if you do or don't agree :D

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

And not a moment too soon.

Sigh. I guess it's fair to say I finished that sweater not a moment too soon!

Work seems to have exploded into a crazed beast, and I'm doing my best at containment. Hardly any knitting has happened since Sunday's finishing fiesta!

Anyhow, things are slowly coming back under control, and I hope to have more knitting/spinning goodness to display....in the meantime, I recommend heading over to Cute Overload to make your day a little brighter :)

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Olympic Update - Days 8, 9 & 10!

First I want to say thanks to those of you who have inquired after my poor fingers. The good news is they are well on their way to recovery, though for my own sanity, when I'm working with fiber, I wear a bandage over the cut on the middle finger. It really probably looked a lot worse to me when it happened simply because it didn't seem to want to stop bleeding. A day under a bandaid and it's well on the way to recovery :)

Day 8 was a slow day, with not much more than the bottom ribbing being complete. That twisted ribbing goes even slower than regular ribbing does...and of course, things were even slower with the bandaged finger!

Day 9 flew by with speedy progress with PBS cooking shows and a mid afternoon nap to boost energy, I completed the bottom of the body (adding some length and a tiny bit of waist shaping) and began on the grafting! The grafting was going even slower than the twisted rib, but at least I seem to have managed to memorize how to graft properly. By midnight, I had only managed to complete half the grafting before having to put things away so I could get some sleep!

Day 10 - a day of accomplishment! I actually managed to finish the sweater - in record time! The remainder of the grafting was completed in the evening, with a little bit of difficulty in the last couple of stitches (I had a little bit of finagling to do to get the end of the grafting to join with the beginning bits). I managed to cobble it together by doing something akin to duplicate stitching. Anyhow, a photo of the finished sweater can be found over here!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Eeek! Knitter Down!

In a freak accident and a run-in with ridiculous sharp cutlery (I strongly believe in ridiculously sharp cutlery, and the ensuing accident was purely the fault of the user) and an apple, I've managed to sustain injury to my index and middle fingers!

Let me tell you that running up and down stairs while bleeding like a stuck pig with a pair of cats hot on ones heels is not recommended. I'm pleased to report that with some firm pressure and elevation, the bleeding was contained and the knitting should be safe.

Generally, an injury to my left hand wouldn't cause me much distress, but I both knit and draft with my left hand...and boy, have I got knitting to do! I'm on a mission to finish the sweater early so I can attempt to take a swing at another Pirate Hat...

Oh, in case you're wondering, that *is* indeed a piece of cake being used as a stitchmarker. It's an official Amyville Creation :) - it's in the Blue Moon Cafe collection.

Olympic Update Day 7 - Detour!

When we left off yesterday, I was pondering the possibility of having to rip out the entire top portion of the sweater for a massive redesign. Faced with an evening of mattress stitch, kitchnering and other seaming delights, it was safe to say that chocolate was in order. Thank goodness for brownies.

Behold. The fruits of my labor (and I'm not kidding here folks, I don't know why I didn't knit the darn sleeves in the round, but it would have saved me a fair bit of mattress stitching - I hate mattress stitching). Ignore the blurriness and the smears on the mirror. It was past midnight. This is what happens when I don't get to start my knitting/seaming until close to 9pm. Once I mattress stitched the sleeves, I set to kitchnering them onto the shoulders. All I can say is I'm going to be needing a lot of fortitude when I get to kitchnering the bottom to the top of the sweater....I suppose I ought to be thankful the darn seem won't fall right across the midline of my bust! And in case you're wondering, the reason it took so many hours to seam, is because I had to do each set in sleeve twice. *sigh* I hadn't pulled the seam together tight enough the first time and it looked sloppy.

Things are looking much better now, if I do say so myself. the shoulder seam actually goes over to my shoulder. I'm thinking with the added weight, the collar should settle (I'm holding onto the bottom of the sweater in the photo to the left). The button also seems to help tame it's unruly behavior. Don't mind the wrinkle in the fabric - that's simply due to my arm being elevated to take the photo!

And just because I'm so much more pleased with how it's looking, here's a closeup of the collar detail and the button. I couldn't decide on a round button or an oblong one, and I'm not yet opposed to going shopping for anther one. This particular button is made of wood and has some neat design on the lower portion of it. It does tend to stand out though...perhaps a more unobtrusive one is in order. I am fond of the organic look of that button though - what say you?

Grommet anyone?

*sigh* in another distraction, I decided to make a couple CD spindles to aid in my plying. Turns out there is no jumbo flyer/bobbin assembly for the Kromski Minstrel....so in order to allow myself to ply the entire bobbin without having to cut the yarn, I'm going to have to result to spindle plying for some yarns. Unfortunately, the majority of my spindles have smallish whorls - the largest(I think) is about 3 inches in diameter.

Anyhow, CDs in hand, I was able to find cup hooks and hardwood dowels at the local home improvement store. The washer/grommet/gasket, however, was a royal pain in the you know what, and I have yet to find a suitable alternative. I wound up settling for some cone washers, but they do not hold the CDs securely, and require supplemental adhesive (also known as glue or epoxy) to keep things where they aught to be.

Some googling later, I've discovered I can either purchase small packets of multi sized grommets (of which I only need one size) or I can purchase a ridiculous quantity of grommets (all the correct size) which would keep me, all my friends and untold number of acquaintances in CD spindles for quite some time. *sigh* Turns out what I'm looking for is typically used for wire management, and not plumbing, which is why I was unable to find the little bugger at the hardware store. (update - I did find a pack of all the same size grommet, qty 5 at my local hardware store! hooray! tho the bargain shopper in me keeps telling me I would have gotten a better deal by buying the big bag from the online source ;) )

Of course, I could probably engineer something to work, but it probably won't look anywhere near as clean as a grommet, and may well involve duct tape...but seeing as I've already made the cone washers work (mostly, with modification) I guess I'll start expending energy on how to make the spindle spin faster ;) click here to see the finished goods.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Olympic Update - Day 6 - In the Groove....mostly.

Day 6 of the Knitting Olympics drew to a close with knitting progressing more or less right on track. As you can see, I've managed to complete the top of the sweater...and I've even transferred it to another needle so I could cast on for the bottom.

I am now facing a difficult decision of to frog or not to frog. It's truly a conundrum. If you recall, the sweater is being knit not out of bulky yarn, but of dk weight yarn. This resulted in lots and lots of math. Well, not too much, but enough to make me scribble notes on various sticky notes to append the pattern.

Anyhow, while it looks like the gauge and everything was right on, and I did pick the right size to knit, I am wondering if a straight translation was not so smart. Why not, you ask?

I present to you the following:
Exhibit A: Note where the shoulder ends on the knitted top. Note where my actual shoulder ends physically. Does this seem odd to you? With the exception of Raglan Sleeves, I do not think garments are not supposed to be shaped this way. Especially garments with set in sleeves. I could be wrong, after all, this is only my 3rd sweater...and I'm not so good with sewing. It could very well be that everything settles into place with the finished weight of the garment.

Exhibit B: Thickish, wideish, tallish, frumpy looking collar. It certainly doesn't look that wonky on the other sweaters I've seen - Part of the problem is the collar is not yet secured with a button. The other part, is I'm also fairly certain that if the sleeves pull the shoulders into place, it will also flatten that collar out - not to mention the additional weight that will be on the bottom of the sweater when it's not crop top length.

And finally Exhibit C: The placement of the leaves is um...a result of my straight mathematical conversion of the pattern with lack of thought to placement of design elements (also probably why I was having issues on Day 3 or whatever day it was I was working on that part). Here is a closeup (of both Exhibits B and C). The little leaves are supposed to be jauntily off to the side of the neckline, but if we observe these photos, we will note that the leaves are parked more or less right below my chin. Not too dreadful, and I'm becoming more and more comfortable with the placement. I've caught the mistake now and have adjusted placement of the leaves on the hem of the sweater.

Plan of Attack: Well, a wise woman (who also happens to have a son with a fine taste in hats) suggested I do the sleeve seaming tonight instead of knitting blindly onward on the bottom of the sweater...this way, I can see if things fall into place, as it were, once the sleeves are attached. If not, there will be much chocolate, and perhaps some other things, while I pick out my seaming and kitchnering of the sleeves and rip back the entire top and go back to the drawing board to make design adjustments to the pattern.

This is what I get for substituting yarn I guess ;)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

And now for a diversion

You are Shetland Wool.
You are Shetland Wool.
You are a traditional sort who can sometimes be a

little on the harsh side. Though you look

delicate you are tough as nails and prone to

intricacies. Despite your acerbic ways you

are widely respected and even revered.

What kind of yarn are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Olympic Update - Day 5

The needles are positively flying here with the finishing of the armhole increases and the re-joining of the front and back. 24 more rows of knitting (to be completed tonight while watching the amazing mens freestyle skiing event). With some extra caffeine and a touch of insomnia I might even cast on for the bottom of the body. I'm taking some liberties and am thinking of adding some shaping to the bottom piece. With minor miracles the sweater may well be ready for assembly by the weekend. eep!

oh, sorry for the lack of photos - I've been knitting well into the night and really can't bring myself to get out of bed to take a progress shot before putting the knitting down, and there's just no time for photos before dashing to work!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Olympic Update - Day 4

Knitting Continues, with no photo to share. Day 4 of the Knitting Olympics found me at the dividing point for the top of the Leaf Lace Pullover - finishing 2 of 9 increase sets (only 28 more rows to go and I'll be rejoining the halves for more knitting in the round). If you're keeping track of balls of yarn used, I'm nearly done with ball number three. The knitting rhythm is settling in and I had nary a frog in sight yesterday :) I think at this point it is fairly safe to say I'm no good at estimating required yardage for sweaters that I have to do math on.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Not the Smoothest of Starts

The Olympic Crazed knitting was off to a slow start for me, as I was distracted by my spinning on Friday afternoon - I had all the good intentions of starting my knitting promptly at 2pm local time, but just couldn't bring myself to leave that full bobbin alone and unplied until the end of the Olympic undertaking. Look here to see how it turned out.

Anyhow, Day One (or the day of Opening Ceremonies) otherwise was off to a creeping and slightly bumpy start - I think I finally cast on around 4pm or so. Progress was slow, with the twisted rib pattern going slower than conventional ribbing. About 2/3rds of the way through the leaf chart, I realized I had made a mistake in my knitting, and had to rip back to fix it, as I could think of no easy way to drop and re-pick up the stitches in a manner that would resolve the problem. I called it a night after I did my first set of sleeve increases.

Day Two - a day dedicated to knitting - I had hoped to finish off the sleeves, but apparently I was plagued with YO forgetfulness - meaning I forgot to insert a YO or two, and couldn't figure out why my count was wrong (I wasn't paying attention - I was too busy watching the Olympics on TV) Anyhow, like the minor fiasco of the previous day, there was no simple dropping and picking up the stitches to fix the problem - so rip rip rip I went....ending the night just after the last set of sleeve increases (and the ends of my first two balls of yarn).

Day Three - was supposed to be an off day, with knitting relegated to the car, but between the possibility of the forest being closed down (thanks to some foolish git who failed to put out their campfire properly) and sheer exhaustion, plans got mucked up and much sleeping ensued. Regardless, I finished off the sleeves, leaving enough yarn attached to graft them to the shoulders of the body once I get that far.

Seems I can't go a day without *some* issue with my knitting - in addition to finishing off the sleeves, I did cast on for the top of the sweater and discovered not one, but two discrepancies with my plans - the first was a math error on my part, resulting in uneven placement of the shoulders - that wouldn't do, and was quickly resolved. The 2nd was a combination of the pattern as written in the book and my math - (something about the increases for the shoulders - the number of stitches just weren't adding up properly - neither in the book nor in my converted notes). I think I've corrected it properly - we'll see once I get all the increases done. I have to say I'm loving this yarn (SWTC Optimum) - it's wonderfully soft - Lilac wouldn't be my first choice for color, but the price was right when I bought the yarn - we'll just pretend that my color choice is inspired by the Purple Leaf Plum Tree, shall we? :)

Friday, February 10, 2006

a Little Last Minute Spinning

Knowing I was headed into the Olympic Knitting Frenzy today, I had to spend some quality time with my wheel last night.

I was experimenting with core spinning - this is a handblend of merino blues (with a touch of firestar) that I am calling "Twilight" spun over top of some of that Beachcomber Yarn that I haven't known what to do with. The super shiny spool is lurex, and I'm getting ready to ply these two together....

In other news, the beaded yarn is dry and skeined...commentary here, for sale here.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

All Quiet

The calm before the craziness, if you will (in case you've missed it, the Knitting Olympics madness starts tomorrow).

The balls of yarn are sitting patiently by, the husband has been warned, the needles will be prepped tonight (I need to take the curl out of my circs)

In spinning news, I'm wondering if the beads weren't so good for my wheel - I've noticed some groove marks on my flier hooks. I didn't think I've been spinning that much, but the wear marks on the hooks would indicate otherwise. In other news, the beaded yarn is dry, I'm just waiting for some light so I can photograph it! Stay tuned...perhaps you'll see it tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Weekend Spinning

In addition to some coils, the weekend spinning involved some experimentation with the spinning wheel.

It involved small shiny things, chasing the cats, minor cussing and lots and lots of time. Likely a one of a kind yarn, at least with this size bead (seed, in case you are wondering) - look closely - you'll notice I am actually spinning the beads onto the singles.

Here's a closeup of the bobbin. Don't mind the white blob - that's a little bit of the leader yarn - I got tired of trying to wind onto the bobbin without using a leader (yes, it's possible, but it's also a pain).
Here is a closeup of the plied yarn before it headed off to its finishing bath. The skein is nearly dry and will make an appearance on the finished objects blog and the shop soon.

While I have proven to myself that it is indeed possible for me to spin beads directly onto the yarn, I find it a slow and painstaking process - it may be better if I used larger beads, and perhaps I'll give that a try in the future, leaving the seed beads and sequins to be plied on with an accompanying thread.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Make Thyself More Useful

I'm not quite certain how it happens, but it seems I am always finding a plethora of plastic grocery bags hiding under the sink. Loath to let them go (it's the packrat in me), I eventually have to round them up because they are threatening to overflow their allotted territory. Instead of hauling them off to be recycled, I did the deed myself, and have given them new life and purpose.

Larger photo and more info here.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Carder is here to stay!

Well, I broke out the drum carder and had some fun with it... All of the fiber I have for blending right now is lovely merino - and I have to say, the spinning is wonderful. I'd forgotten just how lovely it is to spin with merino - it drafts out so smoothly!

For any new/aspiring spinners out there, I personally recommend going with as lovely a fiber as you can while you're learning - I think it will help because you'll love the feel of the fiber as it flows through your fingers...and even if your finished product is a bit slubby and uneven, you'll still love the feel of it! (and trust me, going back to the slubby spinning is tough once you are in the habit of turning out a fairly even gauge single!)

Anyhow, go ogle the results here.