Please ignore darkness and mess in the background

My Icelandic Sweater is finally finished! I made it with wool bought in Vik, Iceland, and combined various patterns from the book “Knitting with Icelandic Wool.’ I cast on the Regla pattern, made the bottom and cuffs with the design from Bára and finished off with the yoke from æði.

Lopi

I just want to say, knitting with Lopi s a dream. Sure, it sheds a bit, but the stuff sticks together really nicely and the weight I had knit in a flash. So fast, in fact, that when I decided to rip out a whole bunch of my knitting to nearly start over (I went back to the bottom ribbing and re-did the pattern with a more even hand) I didn’t even really mind the re-knitting time. I added some shaping to the pattern- waist shaping on the sides and a few rows of a short-row bust increase just below the yoke. In hind sight I probably didn’t need to add those, since the sweater blocked out kind of bulky, but I’m still glad I experimented with it. I don’t understand some people’s resistance to short row shaping. Its really not that tough! And adds shape in specific spots instead of in the sweater overall, which is nice.

The sleeves probably took me the longest, because I knew as soon as I finished them it was time to decide what yoke pattern to use. Eventually I settled on the æði, copied the page and stuck it in to my bag of knitting. Which of course I didn’t check when I went to my Mom’s over Christmas, and ended up stalled with no more white Lopi, and a fresh new skein of it mocking me at hope. Alas. Probably would have blasted through the whole thing over the holiday!

Almost finished….

Got home, dug out the rest of my yarn and knit away. I thought I’d have tons of time what with the holidays, but turns out freelance work picks up when the end of the year is near! Curled up and finished over the weekend with one important step left- the dreaded STEEK! For those unaware, steeking is when you knit something in the round (often patterns that would be frustrating to purl) and then cut it apart to add button bands or sleeves or a neck hole. So yeah. You cut into your knitting- a very definite point-of-no-return. I don’t like those. I’ve had projects that were ‘finished’ that I frogged and re-made…. and this wool was from Iceland! I can’t exactly pop over to my LYS and get some more to fix it. So I fretted. I googled steeking for reassurance. I slightly freaked out because everthing I found mentioned a 5-stitch pattern to contain the steek. I had one purl stitch. I tried a line of sewing to reinforce, as most of the sites I found suggested. Unfortunately, I couldn’t really tell where my purl stitch was on the wrong side because of the floats from my pattern, and ended up sewing a terribly wonky line. Some care with a seam ripper and I was back to square one- freaking out. Honestly I would have even left it as a pull over, but that one line of purl stitches would have driven me crazy. Eventually I found the delightful Ragga’s video over on Craftsy. Icelandic wool! And one purl stitch!

The Dreaded Steek

No mention of what to do about my floats though. So I did the crochet reinforcement she showed. Perhaps I should have used a smaller hook, it was a bit bulky, but I was impatient and couldn’t find a better size. Not content to have the reinforcement, I followed Kate Davies’ instructions for the “Steek Sandwich” as far as I could before cutting. Then freaked out some more. Finally took a pair of shears to my dear knitting. They say once you steek you realize how easy it is. I don’t know that I had quite that reaction. I diligently finished the button bands and did a nice I-cord bind off/button hole. And then… tired it on and felt like I was going to be ill. The whole thing fit so nicely before I cut it and added the extra width the button band! Wanted to cry, babbled a lot to Chris and then dumped it in a bowl of water to block. Those damn button bands took AGES to dry but once they did I tried it on again. The sweater had settled into itself nicely! Still kinda bulky, but not in a bad way. Wearing it is like wearing a nice warm blanket. The buttons are a bit oddly spaced, but oh well. Finally finished!!!

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Polkadot booties, originally uploaded by ducksRfriends.

They have finally arrived (or rather, I finally sent them!) so now I can post up the little booties I made for Ellen’s baby-to-be! I had so much fun making them. They’re super fast, probably because they’re so tiny. I made a pair for her, realized how easy they were, and made a pair for little Livia (they look so huge on her!)…. another pair is in the works for Gaston (Gaeson & Meagan’s baby) but this pair is white with red tops- toadstools! I need to do the spots today, and hopefully get them over to the baby before he grows out of them! We have a Dogfishhead Squall to give Gaeson anyway, so just another reason to get together.
Chugging away on Alexis’ sweater, too. The train ride helps me get it moving, I get a few rows done every morning. My work on the super-awesome-squishy cable sweater has halted, mostly because its tough to cable with a pattern on a train. Plus, I want to get this other one done first.

So now, off to start the day, after a lovely breakfast of homemade chili, cornbread and sunnyside up eggs…. one of my favorite ways to start the day! I love sunday breakfasts from leftovers, so good…

(UPDATE: here are the toadstool ones, can you tell I learned about the vignette effect in the Flickr Picnik editor? Yay!)

Finished Toadstool Booties

Yummy yummy madelines

I made some cookies for a planned dinner tonight, but the dinner got canceled, so now I have a batch of Madelines sitting tempting me on the counter. They sure do make the house smell great….

finished but not blocked

I finally got around to taking a few pictures of some things I’ve finished in the past few weeks. Two sweaters, one scarf…. though only one out of the two has been blocked, all three have been getting a good amount of wear. A few issues, though.

The blue sweater needs a blocking and a color-locking bath. The yarn is really beautiful and brilliant, but the dye came off on my needles as I worked, and I’m scared to wear it with anything other than a black shirt for longer than snapping a photo. I think if I was to make this again, I’d make it a little longer, the pockets are at a slightly awkward height, but overall I like it. It’ll be good for layering in the spring.

Finished OWLS sweater

The owls sweater is great, I love the pattern, its super warm- but the yarn was cheap and you can tell. It pills like crazy. I don’t know if blocking it will help with that… I sort of doubt it. Other than that, though, this sweater has gotten quite a bit of wear with the snowy cold weather, and I’m rather pleased with it. (Also, I just love Kate Davies, her patterns are great, and I think she’s a really inspiring lady. She had a stroke last February and following her site through her recovery is just awe-inspiring. She was knitting again in no time! She’s got a great pattern called “paperdolls” that has inspired fantastic variations, including a Totoro one! I like the hedgehog one, too.) The pattern calls for buttons for the eyes of the owls, but I left them off. I think they work really well for some of the finished sweaters posted over on ravelry, but not so great on others. I like keeping the owls a bit subtle on mine, particularly so I can wear it at work without feeling like I’m screaming “Look at me, I’m crafty!” (Not that it looks like that on other people, but that’s how I’d feel, so better to leave out, I think.)

CU of the owl cables

Finished, and blocked!

I finished the scarf most recently, so it hasn’t gotten as much wear as the other two yet. I used yarn that I acquired from the Ultimo knitting group, it was dusty and had to untangled and washed, but I like how it came out. Its raw silk, and I thought (even though it’s a relatively loose knit) it would be a bit warmer than it turned out to be. Which means it will be great in the spring, but it’s not quite right for this weather. Oh, and it keeps catching on my earrings which is a little annoying. It’s definitely not the only scarf that does that, though, so I’m okay with it. This one I had to block though, those pesky leaves wouldn’t keep their shape without it. I still sort of half did it, though, I pinned a few, but didn’t have enough space to lay the whole thing out, so folded it in half on my ironing board. I think it worked, though. The scar is surprisingly long for being a “shawlette” as the pattern says, but its light so it doesn’t feel unwieldy while wearing it. I think mine ended up a bit smaller than the pattern intended, but I planned for it to be that way (the yarn was off gauge, and I didn’t correct for it) so I’m pleased with the result.

wrapped up cedar leaves

Next up on the needles: a nice squishy cable-y hooded sweater, with the yarn my Aunt gave me ages ago. It was supposed to be for the Mrs. Darcy sweater, but after looking at a few finished versions, I don’t think I made a good color choice for that sweater- hers looks fun, mine would look like a librarian’s sweater, and not a fun funky librarian. It is the perfect yarn for the Alaska sweater, though, so cast on, project begun. I’ve also got some booties to make, but I keep tearing them out… I’m a little tired of the Saartje booties, so wanted to make a different pair, but I think the yarn/needles combos I’ve been trying just aren’t working. I wanted to make something using up part of my stash, but I don’t think I’ve got the right baby-friendly yarns for it. Perhaps another pattern search will lead to something. I’ve got one more sweater queued up, a cardigan for Alexis. The yarn arrived (sale at Webs, yay!) but I didn’t have the right needles, so they’re on their way to my doorstep. Sticking to my only-two-projects-at-a-time means I need to get the booties figured out before the second sweater is started, which is a good thing, I suppose. Onward with new projects!

I’ve been pretty busy since I posted last… mostly holding off on the posts because I’ve been pretty bad about bringing my camera around. Labor day weekend was great- I went to Terrain with my mom for my birthday, and wandered around for a while. We had a great lunch, and mom picked up a few books- neither of us bought any plants this time though. I’ve run out of room on my kitchen sill, so I think I’m done with plants till next growing season.

Dawn Patrol Journal

I went on another Dawn Patrol motorcycle ride with my dad on Sunday- what amazing weather! I really wish I had thought to make a neck strap for my camera so I could have had it out during the ride. There were some great skies and fantastic landscapes. We ended up riding with a huge group of people- it was pretty cool to see all the motorcycles ahead of us when riding down into a valley. But they rode really slow, and stopped at EVERY turn- lucky for us half the group missed one of the turns, and then a few turns later we passed the rest of them. (The rides are “Lyme dot” rides- one dot means to keep going straight, two means a left, three means a right. You also get  a list with all the directions.) I like the rides better when its just me and my dad, maybe a few other bikes. As cool as the snaking line of motorcycles is, its way more relaxing not being part of a horde. The rides are really fun because they meander all through the area I grew up, but take interesting back roads and routes I don’t usually take. You get confused and lost, then cross an intersection and suddenly know exactly where you are. It ends at the Dawn Patrol club house, down the street from where the ride starts, with a huge BBQ party.

finished top

Also- four finished projects in the last few days! I finally got through the green/lace top, bound off and blocked a hat (the one previously posted)  and a cowl warmer, and finished a present that will head off in the mail sometime next week. Also, I’m making some good progress on the baby sweater I’ve been working on… ok, so the baby was born a few months ago, but I’m making it larger than the largest size on the pattern (more a mistake than a plan, but I think it will work out) so it should fit him anyway. Thinking of embroidering a “Q” on it, too… but we’ll see if that happens when I finish it.

I’m pretty pleased with the top. Once I finished the braided neckline, the whole thing hung a lot better. Definitely felt less tent-like. That green fabric is super super stretchy, and was not cooperating at all as a waistband. It just kept ending up making the whole thing even more balloony. Not a fan. So instead I just took out the basting and ended up using the fabric I cut for the waist as a tied belt. The braided neckline means that this is a strapless bra shirt for sure, and the only one I have is black- I’m hoping it was shadow and not bra I could see in some of the other photos, otherwise I’ll have to put off wearing this till I go shopping :-(

The cowl was a pretty fun fast knit, too. I bought the yarn on a whim when stopping by Rosie’s for some needles. Chris got me a gift certificate a while ago, in an attempt to get me to branch out and visit different stores- but I think I still like Nangellini the best, so I’ll stick with them. Anyway, I bought two balls of this, and thought that would be enough. Right after I cast on I took a look at the yardage, and was about 75 yards short of the required amount. I made a few alterations to the pattern- made the neck part a section narrower, cut the collar down in length and width. I cast off with about a centimeter left. Phewww! I think this will look pretty good with a coat, its perfect for late fall.

finished collared cowl

So thats the craftiness- the other business—–this weekend was the final performance of Scorch, the great fire group I’ve been dancing with since the summer. Rehearsal on Thursday, performances on Friday and Saturday. I think it went really well, we got a great turn-out. It was free, but donations were collected to pay for the space and the fuel/safety equipment. I’m not sure of the final numbers, but I think we at least broke even, which is great, since the venue cost was a lot higher than the girls thought it was going to be. I got Chris to record our dance with his phone, and I’m sure there are a ton of photos floating around. A guy from cities2night was there, and those photos are here.

And here’s the video:

The perfect yarn for the buttonhead!

Wow, that was a fast knit! I cast on yesterday and cast off today! I’ve been wanting to try the buttonhead pattern out for a while, and when Leethal wanted to do a knit-a-long (over on Ravelry), I thought it would be a perfect chance to be pushed on to start it. The knit-a-long was a buttonhead + game knitting, which is a super cool concept great for TV watching- basically when something on your list happens, you switch something in your knitting- purl instead of knit, or cable or something. (Lee has an e-book about it) You end up with a really cool randomized project. (By the way, she has really great patterns and super cool other things on her site- go! go check it out!)

knitting (and my birthday shirt!)

I didn’t do the game knitting part of it, because I wanted to try out the pattern on its own first and I wasn’t going to knit with a tv show, so I figure I’ll have another go at the hat with the game knit part incorporated, but I’ll have to put that off until after I finish the owl sweater.

I still need to block the hat. Honestly, I’ve never actually blocked something before… I’ve always just let it go. But this yarn is a bit lumpy (which is why I thought it’d be perfect for the buttonhead, its a formula more than a pattern, so gauge doesn’t really matter) and I think blocking might smooth that out. I need to find a balloon or something to do it properly, it’ll be an experiment for sure! And I think it will be good practice for the sweater I’m working on, since I’m pretty sure I’ll need to block that.

Not a bad finished project for my birthday! (I know I don’t look happy, but thats cause I hate taking photos of myself, nothing to do with the hat!) I already have a request for a second, so one will be heading out to Seattle with the next care package.

yay buttonhead!

Redwings lettering

This has perhaps been the most complicated project I’ve undertaken… it was supposed to be a birthday present, but its about three months late. My real deadline was the hockey game that Chris bought tickets for, as a Christmas present for his Dad. And I finished last night, just in time. I mostly eyed the pattern… with a few basic rules. 5st garter boarder, 2st white, 3st white in stockinette (total edge of 10 stitches) on either side. The lettering was mostly 3 st wide, with 4 st between each letter. I found a blank chart online and copied the letters and wings logo onto it. I didn’t really chart properly, though, and since I wasn’t quite using the chart I printed for the lettering, I didn’t realize that I had copied the letters onto the chart sideways. See, knit stitches are taller than they are wide, which means you can’t use regular square graph paper. I thought I was being rather clever by using a printed chart, but since it was sideways- the circle wasn’t so circular. Again, though,  I wasn’t quite following the chart, so I thought I had messed up reading it. Once I realized my mistake, I tried to adjust, but I was already halfway through the circle and didn’t want to frog the whole thing…. oh well. The wheel may be a bit of an oval, but I think the wing part balances it out, so its okay.

Winged Wheel

The game was fun, though the Wings didn’t win. I made a sign for my favorite player, Datsyuk. I mostly like him because of his awesome commercials for the Rahmani Eye Institute (I just love his stand-up at the end…) but he’s a great player, too.

I <3 Datsyuk!!!

Any time people yelled at us I held up my sign. One guy took a few seconds to comprehend the Russian translation, then made some comment about not being able to order at Pat’s and Geno’s. Right…. (a reference to the “order in English only” sign that went up at Geno’s and caused quite a hubub)

Now that I’m done with the scarf, I’m free to start a new project! And I’ve already started two. First, a baby sweater for Chris’s new nephew, Quentin, due in June. Second, an Alabama Studio Style shirt, for me. I’ve already assembled the front and back of the shirt. I like the process of hand-stitching it. Also, the blue dress is still on my queue. My mom is helping fix the (stupidly) sewn pleats… Hopefully I’ll be able to stitch up some new straps for it by this weekend when I head back to Jersey for the wedding shower, and then maybe I’ll have another finished project. Still deciding on the pockets, though.

Marigolds in the planter

I also planted my seedlings. Anyone want some cucumbers, basil or jalapenos? I have too many that sprouted. This year I’m experimenting with some netting over the garden box, to protect from birds and cats. I didn’t have to worry about it last year since I bought the plants already grown. This year I started much earlier, so went with seeds. I planted Basil, spicy globe basil (in a pot), jalapenos, poblanos (though none of those have sprouted yet), cucumbers, shallots, strawberries (pre-grown) and mint (from last year). I also planted marigolds throughout the box, and ‘various bright flowers’ in the front pots, on top of dahlias. Dahlias, by the way, grow much much larger than I realized…. we’ll see how this works out.

Yay Easter weekend!

Sunny daffodils for Easter

knit bear hat with ears!

Alexis finally has her hat so I can post up about it! I’ve been dying to, it just turned out so cute! I used a pattern from my stitch-and-bitch book, and modified the ears a little to be rounded instead of cat-shaped. The wool was originally grey, but when Mom was in town we played around with dying using kool-aid. I forgot how strong that stuff smells! I found some instructions online and combined that from what I remember doing with Tina. I used about 5 different flavors, all in the blue to purple range. I was hoping for a subtle color change, but it ended up pretty patchy, which I am okay with, too. My goal with this hat was to make something warm for Alexis, since it can get pretty cold out in Seattle. (The last hat I made is nice and fun, but not so warm around the ears.) I was going to line the hat with fleece, but it ended up a little tight, so I didn’t think there was room for a liner. Perhaps with the next hat…. While the hat itself was fun to make, I’m super excited to be done with it because it means I can really start working on Chris’s scarf (it now has an “N”!) and I can start a new project. I’m trying to be disciplined, and only have two or three things going at once. I’ve been tasked with making a baby sweater for Chris’s sister’s new baby-on-the-way. I’ve never made a baby sweater before, but I found some cute patterns for kimono themed ones that look like fun. Yay for FOs!