Monday, January 30, 2006

the adventures of jacques coust-sew

My St. Moritz yarn and pattern arrived swiftly from Yarn Barn. a.k.a: "my expensive nervous breakdown in a box". hehehehe. i kid. really, i'm still looking forward to this event.

Instead of making a regular swatch, i decided to knit one of the adorable little baby mittens in the pattern book as a practice. I know, i screwed up the pattern a bunch of times. i didn't care. I zoomed right along, trying to get the rhythm of 2-color knitting. i finished the mitten before realizing i'd forgotten one, wee, little thing:
Image hosting by Photobucket
oops, no thumb!
i was so concerned with how lumpy, bumpy, and drawn-in the fair isle was turning out that i forgot i was supposed to be making a mitten. oh, well. it was just a test.

doesn't it look like some new species of strange, norwegian squid?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

the Olympic Pilot Light is on

Ok, i'm willing to admit that i may have taken the "challenge" part a bit too far when i chose St. Moritz as my Olympic knitting project. My "it doesn't look that bad" attitude is fading now that i have the delicate yarn and tiny needles in my hot little hands. Yeah, i've knit in two colors before; a Lopi sweater many years ago... clearly i didn't quite appreciated the difference between 3 stitches/inch on #10 needles and 6 stitches/inch on #3 needles. *gulp*.

But i'm ready for the challenge. I'm actually excited. I need the kick in the ass. I always enjoy the process. So much so that i rarely finish projects. I get bored and have more fun thumbing through old knitting patterns or planning another project and don't have the drive to finish things. I'm also not a competitive person. I don't think i'm going to get stressed out if i am unable to finish the sweater, but i really want to try!

My two-pronged training regimen:
1) Get the fingers flying by jump-starting an old challenging UFO. Enter my Beaverslide Dry Goods Blue/Green Aran. Even though the front and back are completely done, i pushed it to the bottom of the knitting basket 2 years ago and never even cast on the sleeves. So i did just that over the weekend. Hot damn, i love this yarn! I don't know what my hangup was. As soon as i started the sleeve, i fell back in love with the sweater. Sleeve in progress:
Image hosting by Photobucket

2) Like a good little academic academic, i'm doing background research. I went back and read every word that Wendy wrote about her St. Moritz. I'm scanning archives of those who've completed it, and eagerly following the near completion over at Fuzzy Noodle. Big thanks to Marcy-Blogless and Cath, who gave me a couple of really good tips last sunday at while we were at Claudia's. I'm also re-reading the many cool tutorials about two-color knitting and steeking that are available on the web. Here are a few:
Fair Isle 101. great pictures and descriptions!
Two Color Knitting from the Socknitters group.
Knitty article on steeking written by Wendy.

i welcome any other suggestions or ideas for required reading!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

(NQC)FO: Ribby Cardi

continuing in my tradition of showing off items that aren't exactly, completely finished:
Ribby Cardi!
Image hosting by Photobucket
Its zipperless. I wore it for 3 days straight anway. It will get a zipper soon, but i just couldn't wait anymore. I started it almost a year ago for crapsake! I promise to take a better picture when i put the zipper in. Love it, love it, love it!

Things Learned -
Good: Wool/Alpaca blend yarn is wonderfully soft and warm. i am in love with the yarn (Cascade Lana D'oro).
Not so Good: I'm now wondering if 45% alpaca has a bit too much drape for a ribbed pattern. The fabric is light and breezy, but i'm worried that a) the sleeves will stretch and not hold their shape and b) the fronts might not be as sturdy as i'd like when i sew in the zipper. we shall see.
Good: I extended the sleeves an extra 2 inches so i could have a nice fat cuff. me love cuffs.
Not so Good: Lacking serious forethought, i added at the top of the sleeve (after the increases). I should have done the extra length at the beginning before starting increases so that i dont' have extra bulk at the cuff and make the sleeves a bit to baggy.

ooh, ooh - my St. Moritz kit is waiting for me at the post office!!! yeehaw!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

what have i done?!

Image hosted by
hey, look. i chrocheted myself a supah cute little cloche. Its in need of some bossy blocking. but i'm happy with it.

finishing my hat? sane.
signing up for the Knitting Olympics? totally. batshit. insane.

and yet... i'm still going to do it. i've ordered the yarn for something that will seriously challenge me: St. Moritz. Its been on my list of dream knits for years. So now that i have an excuse AND inspiration, i'm going to try. I could give 100 reasons why i shouldn't be doing this, but i'm going to list only the reasons why i think i can.
1) I have a big-ass midterm on friday feb 10th. i deserve to knit after that, right?
2) half of the arms and body are one color and i should be able to speed through that quickish.
3) i'm a decently speedy knitter. if i don't work on any other crafty projects during that time, i should be able to do it!

as a contract with myself, i promise to finish my Ribby Cardi before i start this. The 2-headed catmonster will eat me if i don't.
Image hosted by

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

FO: baby sweater and mom socks

holy wow, batman. i have not one, but TWO finished objects today!
Image hosted by
First up is a pair of socks that have been languishing for ages. I started them as airplane knitting when i went to a conference in November, 2004. They've been 99.99% complete for over six months now... just waiting for me to bind off the second sock! I love knitting socks from the toe up, but no matter how loosely i try, i have a big problem getting a stretchy bind off. i found one in some knitting book (or maybe online) and used it for the first sock. it's awesome. Then i lost those directions and couldn't find them again for the second. *sigh* Well i found a good stretchy ribbed bind-off in the Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook and finally finished them. Just in time to give them to my mom when she visits in a few weeks! (i usually knit her one or two pairs every year.)

They are strategically rolled up so you won't see how uneven and mismatched the pair is. That's what happens when you take 1.5 years to knit a pair of socks and don't keep any record of how many stitches you're working with. bah. i'm just not that much of a perfectionist, and neither is my mother. She's been wearing and loving all my 'art projects' since i was a child. She still wears mismatched pairs of earrings that i made in high school when i was into making beaded earrings. I would make one really complicated stitch pattern for one earring, but after figuring out how to do it, i'd be bored and never make the mate. So i just made bunches of these very complex single earrings, and my mother wears them with whichever one she feels like. (how did no one considered that i had ADD??)

Image hosted by
The World's Easiest Baby Sweater! So ridiculously simple, i'm almost ashamed to have used a pattern. But i don't have any kids in my life, so i have no idea what a good size for a newborn is. And having someone else do the math for you is just so damn easy. It took me only two nights of television watching!
Boat Neck Baby Sweater from Baby Knits for Beginners by Debbie Bliss.
Yarn: 2.5 balls Spotlight by Classic Elite. color 5756. (discontinued, but i have a small stash from a sweater that i planned but never made.)

Monday, January 16, 2006

the best excuse for dye experiments

Sarah asked me to work with her on an art project for a possible upcoming art show. My mission? To dye small amounts of roving to the colors of van Gogh's "The Starry Night" so she can recreate it by wet and needle felting. how cool is that going to be, eh?

Image hosted by Photobucket.comWell this is exactly the kind of thing that i LOVE to do. My favorite part of working with dyes is mixing, tinkering, tweaking the colors until they are just so. Of course i love it, i get to be a bit methodical and scientific AND play with color and wool at the same time. This is what I consider a 'a really fun friday night'. ha!

Sarah's kitten Bella thinks they're perfect. for a nap!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

bobbin fresh

I've been in more of a spinning mood over knitting mood recently. My unfinished ribby cardi is still glaring at my from the knitting basket. The B. Orange sweater is stalled because one of my handcarders broke (!) and the drum carder is buried in the cra(p)ft room. I have been doing a lot of cleaning in there recently, though. i'm very excited about the prospect of being able to actually use that space. maybe... hopefully... someday soon. *fingers crossed*

Image hosted by
i guess this warm weather made me think of Fall! I think it looks like Candy Corn.

I seamed up the sinfully easy lavender baby sweater last night while watching Project Runway. This is the first season that i've watched it since i didn't have fancy cable before. i love it! They are all so talented. I used to make a lot of my own clothes in high school. Mostly because we were poor and i had to do it. i got pretty creative about it (or weird, depending on who you ask).

But kids are cruel bastards and i was teased for making my own clothes. For never having the namebrand styles. A particularly snobby girl once told me "i can tell you make your own clothes because you always have a matching scrunchy for every outfit". ouch. (well to a 14 yr old, that cut like a knife.) So sewing was something i became ashamed of and stopped doing the minute i got an after school job and could afford to buy the 'right clothes'. I wish i still had those skills.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

finished spinning

My 8 oz of beautiful roving from Sojourner Sheep has been spun, washed, and set. Its now 450 yards of bulky goodness:
Image hosted by
I swatched and its exactly the right gauge to make myself a Mounmouth Cap, which i've been wanting to do for a while.

But first, i need to make a baby sweater. A friend from college is due to have her baby any week now. The baby quilt that i started for her FIRST daughter (born 2 years ago!) is not going to be done in time for this one either. c'est la vie. I'm currently making a sinfully easy boatneck baby sweater in lavender cotton. pictures later.

Monday, January 09, 2006

learn from my mistakes, please

I am a creature of habit.

Image hosted by


what's this mess? well it happened a few months ago, the first time i did any dyeing in our new house. When we moved, we bought our very own washer & dryer for the basement. I was so excited about having my OWN set, that it didn't occur to me to think about my crafting. I remembered that you can't do felting projects in a front loading washer. (not that we could've afforded one anyway!) But i didn't think about the spin cycle. And that fact that our shiny new washer has a corrugated interior basket. To act like a washboard when washing.... well washboards and wool = BAD!!

Silly me... i went along exactly how i did it in my old place. Dye in the big roasting pot. Throw the wet wool right in the basket of the washer and put it on spin cycle for a few minutes to squeeze out the water. Came back to the basement and found my lovely pound of merino had turned into this horrible, felted, cobwebby mess! *SOB*

classic packrat that i am, i shoved it into a box in the Cra(p)ft room until i could bear to look at it again. Do i throw it out? i thought about maybe ripping it into strips and trying to knit/crochet it that way? I'm open to any ideas. And i'd also be willing to give it to someone else who can think of something fun to do with it. You probably can't do any further felting with it. anyone want to experiment?

Thursday, January 05, 2006

adventures in dyeland

There's not a lot going on in my craft realm right now. Well not alot that i can show pictures of. The B Orange sweater is still nearing completion, but progress has slowed while i spin the last skein of yarn for it. I did do a bit of dyeing over the holidays, though.

Image hosted by
Here are two skeins of superwash merino that i custom dyed for my friend Kelly. She requested one skein of bright pink and purple. no problemo. The second she wanted the colors of the Pittsburgh Steelers so she could make a pair of socks for her brother. I tried really hard to keep the white part clean and not let the black bleed and turn it gray. mostly success! The black dripped a bit, but it stayed distinct and no gray mess. i hope she'll send a picture of the knit socks when they're done.

Image hosted by
The next is my specialite du la maison: rainbow roving. Some people like random dyeing in the dyepot, but i really like to keep distinct colors and control the mixing/blending. I like to keep options open for different ways of spinning the colors; keep them distinct by single or navajo plying, mix them lots, mix them a little. Its a birthday present for a friend. i'm fairly sure she'll love it.