Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Moving Right Along

It's been a busy week and a half. My husband has been shopping for a new car (the old one having had a dangerous liason with a guard rail--no injuries, just a lot of aggravation). For some reason he seemed to feel this process would be enhanced by getting the plague (I don't see it myself). Anyway, he's on the mend and the plague is looking for fresh victims. I am resisting this strenuously, but with only partial success. We'll see.

In the meantime, crafting continues apace. I've finished the sleeves on the fluffy yellow sweater, and as soon as I catch up with my sister will attempt to take some modeled shots. I'm quite pleased with it.

And in betwixt and between, I've also perpetrated another hat.
Gray Cable Band Hat

This time I did the provisional cast-on, and I'm also getting better at grafting in a pattern stitch, so the seam on this one is almost invisible (but not quite). I also remembered not to purl when I should have knit on the i-cord border, so there are a couple of good bits of progress.

However, today is the last day in August, and I'm still five projects short of goal (and quite unlikely to finish five craft projects today) so, still behind. It may be time for some more mittens!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sweater Weather

We've been having a warm summer in New England. Really warm. I think we've had more days in the 90s than in the past five years combined. Even if you leave out last summer, which was as unusually cold and rainy as this one has been hot and dry. But over the weekend, a screen of gray cloud was drawn across the sky, water started to drip out of it, and our temperatures plummeted twenty degrees. And suddenly the urge to knit small light things that can be held without touching any part of my body aside from my hands evaporated and was replaced by the urge to fill my lap with something fluffy and warm.

This did not stop me from finishing the second baby sweater, however:
cable and moss stitch baby sweater

Nothing fancy...I wanted to do something different from the first one, so I cast on the same number of stitches as the raglan (less one button band) in the round, and improvised from there. (Note to self: Do not drink alcohol until after you have cast on. It makes the whole counting thing so much easier.)

But as soon as I had done that, I pulled out the sweater for my sister, which offended me back in the spring when the two front pieces inexplicably came out different sizes. (I checked the last time I saw her, and my sister does not have one armpit two inches higher than the other and a one arm a third larger than the other.) However with my sudden enthusiasm for fluffy, I soon ripped back the offending front piece and re-knit it (this time the same length as the other one, and with the armhole in the right place). And then, then I sewed the back and two fronts together, so I could pick up stitches for the sleeve. And that means I can at last show you something that doesn't look like a fuzzy yellow blob.
yellow fluffy sweater

I'm really quite pleased with the way this is coming out--it's actually very close to the way I originally visualized the design- a round neck--
neck detail
--which rises up a bit in back to keep the draft off. It has no buttons, because Kate prefers to let cardigans hang open in front.

It's quite long- nearly knee length on me, and my sister is only a little taller. But she wanted it long enough to sit on. It's a closely fitted design, so I have flared it slightly below the waist to give her some additional sweater to wrap around her legs, and small slits at the side to give a bit slack for movement:
side detail

I'm continuing the fitted style with the sleeves, and will taper down to another seed stitch band at the cuff. It's good to see this project moving again...it's been looking at me reproachfully* for a number of weeks. Now if I can just finish the sleeves before the weather turns warm again!

*Not that it has any grounds for reproach...if it wanted to be done sooner, it should have come out the right shape the first time I knit it. It has only itself to blame. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Retreating From the Edge

A week ago Monday, I crocheted another yellow beret (which looks just like the last one) and as I was reaching for another skein of yarn, I said..."Whoa! Whatever happened to not going nuts with this?"

See, having learned a few things over the years, I could see that I was on the brink of an obsessive attack. Now, this is not an un-useful thing to have happen. In fact I almost always let it happen on the rare occasions that it involves cleaning. Or taking down a cabana. Or yard work. (Okay, it would actually be kind of helpful if that kind of obsessive attack happened more frequently. Like more than once a decade. But.)

But deciding to say, give in to the impulse to reread the works of an author who has written dozens of books, for example, or to crochet a hundred berets? Not only are these less useful obsessions, but they can lead to behavior like staying up late saying things like 'only twelve more rounds until I change to the band' or 'only five chapters more to finish reading all of the Dick Francis books from the 60s.'

Which is a roundabout way of saying that for the sake of my sanity, I decided I needed to take a break from hats and mittens. To knit something small, yet different. To maybe put a dent in the growing collection of baby yarn:
Baby sweaters

As you can see, even the baby sweaters are traveling in pairs. It's actually kind of useful, because doing two projects in a row in the same yarn means I only have to swatch once. And in the case of the second sweater, I'm almost totally winging it (I'm doing something like a baby sweater I made about ten years ago, and haven't bothered to look up the pattern I used then.) But I'm using the baby raglan (which is from one of Carole Barensys' patterns) to gauge the size. So, I knit the body until it was as long as the body of the first sweater, on the same number of stitches (plus a few extra on account of cables), and then split for the sleeves. I'll try picking up stitches for the sleeves...if it looks funny, I'll just knit them separately and sew them on (though I much prefer to do something this small in one piece if I can).

For a wonder, not only did I have buttons in the right size in a reasonable color for this yarn, but I had enough for both sweaters (the second one will button at the shoulder, so as to give plenty of room to let the baby's head through).

Even if I have enough of this yarn left for a third sweater, I think I'll pass though. No point in trading one obsession for another!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

An FO a Day

So, after finishing the fingerless mitts on Monday, I was struck by inspiration. After all, mittens Sunday, mitts Monday. Suppose I could finish an item each day? That would get me back on track for the 100 projects challenge in just a couple of weeks.

Then I sat myself down and gave myself a talking-to. "Robin," I said, "That's nuts. Crazycakes. Off the deep end. If you aren't a fruit loop just for thinking of this, you certainly would be if you actually tried to do it. Why, this is the kind of idea that Toni would come up with!" (As the originator of the 100 projects challenge, I use her as sort of a measuring standard for insane crafting behavior.)

But the idea just wouldn't leave me, and as the week wore on...well, see for yourself:

Monday: Mitts in the last post.

Tuesday: I finished a crocheted beret.
yellow crocheted beret

This was based on a pattern I made a few years back, which I've long since lost, and it was for bulkie yarn anyway, not the worsted I used here. Call it 'inspired by'.

Wednesday: Wednesday was the day I figured I wouldn't have an FO, because I go straight from work to my karate workout. And karate is just not an activity you can combine with knitting. "Knit one, yarn over, ki-yah!"...no, I really don't see how it could work. But I was knitting very small mittens (4-year-old size) so I finished anyway (after I got home, I hasten to add).
orange child's mittens

Thursday: The yellow beret had been so much fun...and used up a color I was getting a little tired of...so I had immediately started one in pink, which I finished crocheting on Thursday (sewing and weaving in ends weren't completed until the next day, but I'm counting it for Thursday anyway).
pink crocheted beret

Friday: I picked up a hat that had been in time out all week, ripped back to the cable band, changed needle sizes and picked a simple pattern for the body of the hat. This enabled me to achieve something that looked more like a winter hat and less like a hat for a road cone. If road cones wore pink acrylic.
cable brim hat

I had actually spotted this construction in another pattern and found it intriguing- you knit the band as a long strip, Kitchener it together, and then pick up stitches for the body. I immediately thought of trying this with circumferential cables. There were a few hiccups...I should have used a provisional cast on instead of doing a two-way cast-on (Judy's magic cast on in this case). The reason is, Judy's magic cast on leaves you with a row of knit loops on the stitch holder, so I had to go back and change them to the appropriate pattern stitches for the cable. And because the two-way cast on alternates, I have a half-stitch jog in the pattern that I couldn't eliminate (at least not without ripping a row in the wrong direction, which is really annoying). I decided I could live with a not-quite-invisible seam in the pattern. And last but not least, it only took me three tries to convince myself that no, I really did have to go up a needle size to get a compatible gauge. Why I resisted this knowledge, I'm not entirely sure. I think I expected that picking up a stitch for every two rows ought to give me the right gauge...but now that I consider it, that's probably only true for garter stitch, which has a different row gauge than stockinette in the same yarn on the same needles.

Saturday: By Saturday, I was starting to run out of steam. Also, I was busy posting a bunch of junk from the basement on freecycle and getting rid of it (I've only been planning to do this for a couple of years). Someday this will lead to the basement actually being cleaned up and reorganized. But in between booting computers, writing posts, uploading photos, and boxing up odds and ends for incoming freecyclers, I turned some odds and ends of skeins into another pair of mittens.
blue child's mittens

Sunday: So, by Saturday night, I realized that I really had done it--Sunday to Saturday, I'd finished an FO a day. But in the grip of insane ambition, I took my knitting down to the park Sunday for the local knitting group get-together, and made inroads on another mitten. I wove in the ends on its mate a few minutes ago.
gray child's mittens

You see, that brings me up to 58 FOs, the goal for July. With three full weeks left in August, I now have a reasonable shot at making the August goal.

But really, I'm not insane at all. At least not so long as I don't try to do it again this week.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Even I Can Keep A Resolution the First Day

Of course it helps to finish things when you spend your Sunday goofing off, for values of 'goofing off' = 'inviting friends over for the afternoon, and sitting around chatting with knitting in my hands'. Et voila!
fingerless mitts

The part where I couldn't get to sleep last night and got back up for another hour of knitting in the wee hours helped too, but I don't think I want to make that a habit. In a moment of needless drama this noontime when I was finishing these on my lunch break, I thought I might run out of *both* colors of yarn. As it happened, I only ran out of one, the dark brown, and that on the last round. (I just cast off a round early and shortened the first mitt to match.)

Very simple, very easy, but a nice solution for the over-air-conditioned office. I test drove them this afternoon and they're quite nice. Of course these are for my husband...one of these days I'll get around to making a pair for myself! (Possibly very soon, as they are fast, and fast projects is where I'm at this month!)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Halfway Late and A Dollar Short

It has been a really lovely weekend up here in the top right corner of the country. Cooler and less steamy than most of the summer so far. Also I took Friday off and went to a quilt show with my mom and a friend of hers. Wow, there was some really gorgeous stuff there! And some mind-blowingly creative and original works. The quilt that did an entire village scene with little pleated clapboard houses still fills me with wonder...both at the workmanship and the insanity of it all. I got home feeling the urge to start a quilt right away, but I sat down quietly and read a book until the urge passed. Not that I wouldn't like to do another quilt, it's just that I have other plans right now.

Speaking of which, the alert amongst you may have noted that I have fallen seriously behind on the 100 projects challenge. To be on schedule, I should have had 50 projects at the end of June, and I only had 44. As of the end of July, I needed 58. Well, I may be down but I'm definitely not out of the running yet! I've been knitting as fast as my little fingers will move, and doing my best to make up ground. Exhibit A:
cabled hat

A cabled hat. I have to say that gray yarn looks a lot better cabled than it does in plain stockinette. Exhibit B:
mittens and more mittens
Children's mittens. Kind of a cheap trick, but they're fast, and indisputably legitimate FOs.

And last but not least, a plain ribbed hat:
plain ribbed hat
--because I have a lot of kind of 'girly' hats for the charity bag at the moment and not so many 'guy' hats. Also, I'd been wanting to use the 'Lorne's Hat' pattern from the Yarn Harlot blog, because I wanted to see what Stephanie's scheme of decreases looked like. (Answer- nice but not all that much different from what I'd been doing.)

So, not there yet, but August will be the month of making up ground. I'm not giving up without a fight!