Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Seed Stitch Placket Pullover

I have finally finished the first baby item I've ever attempted to knit. And, I suppose, the first sweater that I've attempted to knit. The baby Placket Pullover from 'Last Minute Knitted Gifts'. (It's actually a free pattern, if you look it up on Purl Soho.)

Pattern: Child's Placket Pullover
Book: Last Minute Knitted Gifts, by Joelle Haverson
Yarn: 100purewool, merino wool in Guiava

I had been looking around for a pattern that would work with this yarn for some time. At one point, I'd intended to make a little mini-sweater out of it, or perhaps a vest. But although the colors were lovely, I couldn't really imagine wearing them as a sweater or jacket. So I frogged that idea along with my humble beginnings of it. In truth, the yarn made me think of baby things. Little booties, and sweaters, and hats. But the biggest issue was that I didn't know anyone who was expecting a baby. Much less anyone who was expecting a girl, and would deserve and take care of something knitted for them. When I started back working at Staples, I was delighted to find out that my friend and co-worker Dana would be having a baby girl in July - which meant that I had both a deadline (I work well off of deadlines, for the most part) and a project. All I had to do was find the sweater.

Originally I had thought to make the Seed Stitch Baby Jacket - after all, it incorporates both my love of baby things and my love of seed stitch. But I couldn't bear to give that much of this wonderful yarn away - I have three skeins, and I wasn't really entirely sure that Dana would wash everything properly. Plus, if I'd made the Seed Stitch Jacket, I'm pretty sure I couldn't have given it away. So when I went to the library and spotted the 'Last Minute Knitted Gifts' book, I thought about searching in there.

And found the perfect thing.

It wasn't particularly hard. I had the buttons in my stash already - little hearts I'd been intending to use on some bags I was making, but that were set aside in favor of not making bags at all. They're tiny and pink and I can't remember where I picked them up - probably Ben Franklin. But this was the perfect project for them. After it was all finished (I needed some persuasion from my sister to stay inside and tuck in all the ends. Persuasion of the forceful sort, actually. I am notorious for hating final bits of projects - wait until you see how many mittens I've got still missing thumbs!), I wrapped it all up and will be giving it to Dana when I hear she's had the baby!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Good Haul

Knitted Together is a lovely little yarn store right here in my very own Iowa. It's in Des Moines, actually, so I used to be able to say 'right here in lovely Des Moines.' The women there are so marvelously congenial, willing to help you find whatever you need. Of course, since I only get to go once in a long while, I make it worth my trip. Which, I'm sure, doesn't hurt relations any! This weekend I made the journey with my mother and sister. My mom has been to the yarn store before, but Abby had not, and so it was a new (and apparently very boring) experience for her. Until she found the Malabrigo. I can never seem to go home without some Malabrigo! Abby picked up a skein in Cactus Flower, which is a very bright bubblegum pink. A color I probably personally will never wear, but that looks great on her darker skin tone.

I picked up a skein of chunky Taureg, which is a brilliantly bright blue with just the tiniest touch of teal that makes it seem to glow. Abby's requested a Gretel and a pair of handwarmers out of the yarn - they'll be her Christmas present, I have too much to knit right now - and the Taureg is becoming another Malabrigo Beret. This time, though, it will stay snugly on my own head and not be sent away. The last Malabrigo Beret, based heavily off of The Purl Bee'spurl beret, was gorgeous and I had the worst time giving it up to my friend Corinne. Good thing she's learned to knit on her own! She joined Ravelry too, which is great - the second person I've converted! They should give away door prizes, but I don't think they could afford it - nearly everyone hears about Ravelry through someone else. It should be interesting when it finally goes live, because there will be so many people allowed to join all the time. My solitary hope is that it still remains the lovely little community that we have now - I don't think I could stand it if my Junkie group were invaded by internet trolls!

That's not all I bought! I hit up the Cascade section too, buying a bright berry color for a future Stephanie Japel cardigan, and then some Cascade Ecological Wool for a cardiganized version of the Hourglass Sweater from 'Last Minute Knitted Gifts'. The book belongs to the library and is already a few days overdue, so I don't dare start until I renew. Besides, I have quite a few projects (take a peek at that sidebar!) that need finishing before I'm allowed to start anything else! I already love the Cascade Eco - it has such a natural feel to it. I was thinking about making a Dr. G's Memory Vest for my dad out of it, but I'd really rather try some Beaverslide, which I've heard is remarkable as well. Decisions, decisions.

Abby wasn't the only person picking out her Christmas present at the yarn store. I've decided this year that everything I give I want to be handmade - I'm working towards the Handmade Pledge, although a bit slowly, and giving handmade gifts is my next step. Whether handmade by me or handmade by someone else, it's nice to have places like Etsy where such lovely things become more affordable! Continuing along the same vein, my mother chose a cardigan as her Christmas present this year - the long-sleeved version of Marmee from Louisa Harding yarns. Louisa Harding Jasmine, the yarn I'm using, is a silk, bamboo, cotton blend that is absolutely heavenly to the touch and has a bit of a sparkly fleck, for those of you so inclined. I am not one to ooh and ahh over glitter, but this yarn is far beyond craft project. It is truly, truly knit-worthy. I'll tell you how it acts when I start the cardigan!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Hats off to Orange

I love orange. For anyone who has ever stated, in a moment of true ridiculousness, "I'm not a big fan of orange," or, "I don't look good in orange." I beg no pardon - you are a liar. Everyone has a shade of orange that they look wonderful in. Whether you're willing to take the time to find it is an entirely different question. Which is why, when I saw the Bollicine Lampedusa at my LYS, on sale for only $2.50 a ball, I was certain that it would be the right shade of orange. Something in between clementine and tangelo. A shade above goldenrod and a bit away from rust. The perfect shade for a hat that would receive a well-worn welcome, surely, when winter rears it's vicious head again.

The issue was finding the right pattern to go with this very right shade of orange. I only bought two balls - they're a bit itchy, so I couldn't imagine wearing it as a scarf or a shrug. Surely, I thought, a hat would be just right. Unfortunately, there are about a million hat patterns in Ravelry, so it took me awhile to find the right one. Behold - the Marsan Watchcap, in progress. It's a cap that uses a lot of twisted ribbing - something that is supposed to keep you very warm and snuggly, which is a reason I chose it. Another is because when I finally get to them, the decreases are truly magnificent to behold.

Of course, my love of any color never stays within the boundaries of a yarn. But I was pleasantly surprised to see that someone else - someone I didn't even know, anticipated my love of orange while sending me a present for ordering from their Etsy shop. I recently ordered some stitch markers for a swap (two sets, they're adorable) I'm participating in, and she sent a third set as a gift. Her Etsy, which should be visited time and time again, is Dragonlady Designs. She uses the most adorable beads, and all of her markers are excellent prices - perfect for swaps! Here are the lovely orange stitch markers she sent me as a gift.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Pause for Pictures

Normally, there would be a post here. A post telling you about everything I've been working on in the past week or so (it has been awhile, I'm sorry!) And there has been work. But I would much rather wait until I have a camera, so that I can show you everything I've been doing as well as tell you - it's more interesting that way, I promise.

And right now, the family camera is in Florida, with my mother, who is having a miniature reunion with an uncle. So there will be much posting when she returns. I promise.

I would like to say, that, on the note of something I have no pictures of (again, the camera is gone), I went to the wedding. And it was wonderful, and I had a great time, and I danced for hours on end and the fact that my ex was there mattered very little and nothing because he didn't have a date and danced with me anyway.

And everyone cheered when I dollar danced with the groom. Excellent.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Passing Time

Although I've gotten a lot of work done, the summer is beginning to feel remarkably lonely to me. When I'm not home, I'm out working - retail at Staples, where many of the customers are disagreeable or rude, or painting rooms for my neighbor in an office building. Both pay what will be a rather large bill - my room and board for Iowa State University for 2008-2009. But they don't seem to fit the other 'bill' - self satisfaction. Happiness.

 I thought perhaps it was just a winter rut, but the nearly constant stream of rain seems to be dragging me back down into the same old holes. Will they ever get filled in? There is only so much soft merino and bamboo needles can do.

While I have been occupied lately with a lot of knitting in what little spare time I have, the constant motion of hands and mind doesn't always fill the needs of the heart. Lately I've been pining for things that are out of my control - will I ever stop waiting for people to call me back? To answer when they're called? To answer at all? It seems that is the consistent cycle of my relationships, these days - we talk for awhile, then things seem to fade away. Did I suddenly become uninteresting? Unattractive? What did I say? One such never-relationship will come back to haunt me, I fear, this weekend, when I go to a friend's wedding. Said never-relationship was ended abruptly - no returned calls, though days before there had been discussion of future plans. Upon return home I was to find not only no answer, but that he was preoccupied with a new live-in girlfriend. How does this happen? Are people really always so inconsiderate? So this week I am torn between attending and avoiding, all for the sake of not finding out anything about her. Because that's the real issue. That I might end up liking her. Or that I might end up getting ignored all together.

So I keep on knitting. This time, something soft. Baby clothing is almost a comfort food of knitting, if I didn't find hats so appealing. Dana is having a baby girl this July, and I've decided to knit a tiny sweater for her arrival. It won't fit until winter, although the weather here has been far from hot. But the colors are summery enough, and they remind me of rainbow sorbet. I especially love the seed stitch. If stitches could be easily translated into food terms, I would say that seed stitch, for me, is the equivalent of a slice of warm apple pie with ice cream. It's always delicious, makes you feel better about yourself, and is remarkably simple and easy to enjoy. Here are some rarely-seen work in progress pictures for you. I've even taken the liberty of hiding the waste yarn.

Pattern: Child's Placket-Neck Pullover, from 'Last Minute Knitted Gifts', Joelle Hoverson
Yarn: 100purewool in Guiava colorway
Needles: Crystal Palace Bamboo, size 7 circulars

Friday, June 6, 2008

Alpaca for Ashley

Ashley's scarf is finally finished, which means there's another finished object to cross off the goal list. What's left to go? A pair of herringbone mittens for Danny, and a pair of handwarmers for Derrick. They'll get done yet, I swear. Of course, despite the yarn (which I am probably allergic to), I had to do an impromptu photoshoot wearing the scarf. Paired with a herringbone trapeze jacket. That is actually for fall. I have this love of pattern that I can't seem to shake, so you all will just have to put up with it! I think the teal color is very flattering, and I'm going to probably search for it in a different yarn to utilize this property. (For those of you who haven't been keeping up, the yarn is an alpaca/wool blend - Cascade Pastaza, and the pattern is 'My So Called Scarf'.)

And I haven't learned my lesson, yet - I'm about to begin knitting a very adorable Child's Placket Neck Pullover for Dana, a girl I work with who is having, of all things, a darling baby girl. I have been wanting to knit this pattern for awhile and am hoping that I can figure out how to work it in a worsted, rather than DK weight, yarn. I think I'll use that sorbet-colored 100purewool that I've got. While the texture is divine and I love the color, it just isn't something I can see myself wearing much of - and since I only have three skeins, I thought: why not let this go to some adorable little baby girl to be snuggled in? I'm planning on making a matching baby bonnet, too, though we'll have to wait and see. The benefit here is that since Dana isn't expecting until July, and the baby won't be cold until mid-October, I've got quite a bit of time to complete things.

Speaking of sorbet, there has been much summertime celebrating, despite the horrible storms, here at my house. The other day I made a lemon bundt cake (which my mother then slathered cream cheese icing over - yum!), and we paired it with lemon sorbet as a dessert. I love the way the ice looks when it's been just scooped, though I have a lot of trouble eating it once it begins to melt (melted ice cream/sorbet totally grosses me out, as does anything remotely mushy).

Other than baking and signing myself up for more knitting, I've just been trying to spend as much time outdoors as possible. The weather has been fairly miserable - we're down in the basement nearly every night due to the tornado warnings - and any sunshine I can soak up is due to be fully appreciated, if I'm not busy working, that is. We have a lovely screened in porch, and sometimes in the evenings there's time to sit out and listen to my dad play guitar, work on the ever-nothing Lace Ribbon Scarf, and contemplate whatever's been going on recently. Right now, I'm sitting on my hands and waiting for the swap groups I'm in (Urban Outfitters' Ravelry Group, and Malabrigo Swap are both starting now!) to get up and moving so I can begin stalking my swapee. I love thinking of packaging and presents - the hardest part will be not taking a million pictures before it's sent!

Monday, June 2, 2008

A Little Refresher

All of my posts have been rather stunted lately. Considering that my work life has picked up considerably in this last week, that's not so surprising for me - but one of my goals for the summer was to keep a consistent blog, an online journal, and I'm determined to do something of the sort. So here's how it will work. I'll fill you all in about the things I've been busy with, and you may all smile and nod.

Of course, you know I've been doing a bit of baking. I made something remarkably sweet and quick this weekend, and I really must share it with you. I don't have a name for them - they're really just the mini-muffin sized cupcakes, made from strawberry box cake, but the icing is a homemade glaze, topped with silver decorator's sugar. I'm pretty sure that whenever I read about 'sugarplums', this is how I pictured them, even if it's false imagery. But I don't care. They're very pretty in person, and I especially love how my grandfather refers to them as 'the little cakes.'

Of course, in the knitting department, not much else has been developing. A few of you asked for pictures of the Lace Ribbon Scarf, but, I hate to tell you, there aren't any because the scarf looks like a skein of yarn. I keep unravelling and having to start over! I'm also working on the new Philly Cowl, by Caro Sheridan. I'm not sure if it's on her blog yet, but here's the Ravelry Link, for those of you who participate. I'll have pictures of the progress up soon - it is finally turning out. I'm using the Malabrigo prize worsted that was mentioned in a previous post.

What I do have for you, knitting-wise, are better pictures of some of my favorite hats. First is the Holding Hands, Feeding Ducks hat - there's a link in the sidebar if you'd like a PDF pattern (they're free!) While I love the way this hat turned out, I sort of wish I'd written the pattern for a worsted weight, because nobody is knitting it in the chunky. A few of the Ravelers have it favorited, but really, I would much rather see some more hats floating about! I have a sneaking suspicion a few might be knit up this winter - they're very warm, you know! But the pictures I had before were mostly on my older camera, and I wanted something a little prettier for my Ravelry projects page. For some reason I'm obsessed with having them all nicely lit and perfect.... can anyone say obsessive compulsive?

The other hat is the simple-but-sweet Noro hat I recycled from one of my first knitting projects. It's not really very warm, but the colors are so lovely, and the yarn has such sentimental attachment for me. When I was first knitting, my tutor - the wonderful Mary Hal out of Georgetown, Kentucky - took me to my first real yarn store. The walls were lined with pretty much anything a young knitter could imagine - and beyond. I had never seen anything so bright an exotic as Noro Kureyon, but Mary bought me two skeins, one in a bright red-orange-pink, and the other in this rust and purples colorway. The first was crocheted into a doll skirt by my mother, and this one became a pouch. I was eight years old.

I rediscovered the pouch the other day in the attic, and decided that it deserved to live on as something a little more useful and practical than a purse I never carried. So I spent a good four hours unravelling the twelve-year-old yarn and re-knit it up into this lovely little hat. I'm chose seed stitch because, while wonderfully simple, I do believe it has my favorite result. I am in love with the texture - I can't stop using it in everything.

Good thing, because some of my yarn stash has finally decided that it wants to become a Seedling Baby Jacket - stay tuned for more updates on that project!