Sweetness and Light

The shower was today… and the sweater was the first gift opened!! I swear I had nothing to do with the arrangement of the packages, I swear! It just happened to be sitting right in front of L when it was time to open the packages.

I think they liked it 🙂 Although they didn’t know it was hand knit until I told them. That was a bit awkward… I had written the washing instructions on a card tucked in the neck, but hadn’t mentioned that it was hand knit. So while L was handing the sweater over to her husband and looking confused as to why I’d write out the washing instructions, I blurted it out rather uncerimoniously. Yug.

So here’s a few snapshots taken right before I wrapped up the little sweater. Of course, I thought I would finish up last night, but as I was watching the obligatory distraction movie–last night it was The English Patient–I fell asleep, drooling, with my head lolling from side-to-side. I took that as a mild hint that it might be time to go to bed. I finished just in time to pack up the sweater and the kids in the car and head on out to the southern suburbs. Here’s the overall picture

A close up of the lace detail

The last minute addition of the embroidery

And the lace edging…blocking is dope!

Final notes on my first matinee coat: I really thought the final sweater was a lovely little thing for a baby girl. I had my frustrations with the pattern, but in the end, I think this is one of my favorite FO’s. I didn’t make many modifications other than to add a picot edge–my first!–to the neck line, and I knit it up in a tighter gauge so that it would fit a newborn. I used a grosgrain ribbon to tie it all together, although I would’ve really preferred a silk ribbon… unfortunately, I’m having trouble finding that here in town. I used a variegated DMC cotton floss to embroider the little bullion roses; if I could’ve found natural silk, I think I might have tried some ribbon embroidery on the fronts. We’ll see how the Cathay blend yarn holds up after a few washes, but I have to say that after it was blocked, I couldn’t believe how soft and smooth and light the sweater felt. It was rather splitty, but the sheen and the drape of the knit fabric was just marvelous and makes me think there might be a Cathay garment for myself in the near future… what a beautiful summer fiber.

Tomorrow I cast on for JJ’s sweater… guess I better figure out what pattern I’ll use. Off to Ravelry I go!!

A Block Party

Well, it was a choice between finishing up the laundry and finishing up the sweater…

I chose to add a new post. 🙂

Last night I attempted to block for the first time. I finished up all the pieces of the matinee coat, and as I said on a previous post, it is the first project where not blocking would be an option. The edges were horribly curled including the lace points, the stockinette had a few tension issues, and overall the pieces needed a bit of shape.

So off I went to the laundry room, with my sweater pieces, my wet pillowcase, iron, ironing board and safety pins–hey you use what you can find, and I couldn’t locate my straight pins–and set up to block.

The sweater is knit up with Debbie Bliss Cathay, a blend of cotton, viscose and silk, so I chose to wet steam after reading up about blocking here on Knitty. The set up didn’t take as long as I suspected, and the results were pretty spectacular!! The piece on the right has been blocked, is nice and even and the edges don’t curl, while the piece underneath it is still bumpy and mis-shapen.

What really is rather annoying are the scarcity of measurements, which is typical of Debbie Bliss patterns. The longer I knit, the more annoyed I get with patterns that have no schematics with additional measurement information. I think this is also the reason that I’ve had so many problems with the final fit of some of the Debbie Bliss patterns… I often wonder if anyone checks the measurements compared to the given gauge and size being knitted. Also, the gauge for this pattern was specifically for stockinette, with none given for the lace. Without additional information regarding the width measurements, you’re knitting blind, which can lead to a bad fit. That is super disappointing after spending so much time on an article knit up with that much care and is certainly discouraging for beginning another pattern.

I had to re-block the bodice today so that the sleeves would fit–yug… schematics please!–but it didn’t take too long and now it should come together quite easily. Last thing to do is to stitch up the embroidery… gotta get that done tonight as the shower is tomorrow.

I really hope the soon-to-be-new-parents like it.

Taking a Break for a Bag

I’m making excellent progress on the matinee coat… I think I’ll be done with the sleeves later this afternoon since I only have two more inches to go. I’m not really happy with the sizing at the moment–the sleeves seem entirely too wide–we’ll see how it looks when it at comes together. I really wish that this wasn’t my experience with Debbie Bliss patterns, but I seem to have difficulties with her pattern sizing quite often. The sweaters are beautiful, but I wonder how her editing process works, as the fit and ease that I get from following the pattern often differs from the pictures given as examples. The funniest part of all is that my gauge is off; the pattern lists 25 stitches per 4″ and I’m knitting 29 at 4″. I couldn’t imagine how unhappy I’d be if my gauge was spot on.

But beyond my problems with the sweater, I’d like to post about my new and amazing bag…

It is so lovely!! A basket woven of some reed that has been smoked then lined with dupioni silk… it smells heavenly!! I had a bag like this when I lived in San Francisco… I had it for three years before my dog jumped up one day and put his paw right through it. I had purchased the bag from a young woman who sold them through a Thai restaurant–I think it was called Thai Sticks–off of California Ave. She had woven the bag with much finer reeds and interspersed some color as well, but it was also lined with silk and smelled the same. I missed that bag so much that when E had a business trip out that way, I made him trek out to find the store and get me another. But alas! The restaurant was no longer there. And the internet let me down… I was never able to find another I liked as well.

That was until two weeks ago when I walked into Knit One to pick up an extra skein of Silk Garden to finish up my BSJ. I had no intention of buying anything else other than that doggone skein, but lemme tell you, my resistance dissolved when I saw that bag…did I fail to mention that I also bought some yarn to knit up a lightweight sweater for myself? I did? Oh, silly me! The bag is made by a socially responsible company called Lantern Moon, who pays fair wages and uses environmentally friendly and sustainable materials to produce their wares. I am in love!!

Anyway, impulse buy or not, I’ve brought an amazing piece of hand work into the house and I’ve managed to replace a part of my former life that I was missing for a while. Feeling pretty happy at the moment!

Coming Along

Well, I think I will be done with the matinee coat in time for the shower this Saturday… woo-hoo!! The problem right now is maintaining focus until I get all the pieces knit up as I’m just itching to get outside and dig my hands in the dirt. Last march we bought a new house, and had a new baby and between the two, I didn’t do any gardening last year. I wanted to see what the previous owners had planted before I planned my own, and let’s face it, I had to get painting and packing and unpacking before I wanted to distract myself with gardening. This will be the first home I’ve lived in since I was 16 that would easily support a garden, and not only will I have myself a nice little kitchen garden, but I’ll be able to plant some pretty flowers alongside the house. And next year I think I’ll concentrate on the front, which is a little too formal for me with it’s boxwood (ick!) and pachysandra (double ick). I’m hoping to mix useful/edible plants with some extra pretty ones so I can make the most of the little bit of land we have.

But there I go, distracting myself when the shower is on Saturday and I have the top third of the fronts to do, and two tiny sleeves. I’d also like to do a little bonnity-type hat to go along with the sweater, but we’ll see if I have enough time. Here’s the one shot of the two cardigan fronts done on one needle.

Matinee fronts, done simultaneously on one needle

It took a few attempts to get into the swing of doing both pieces at the same time, but now that I’ve gotten this far along, I don’t see how I’ll ever do cardigan front separately again… uh, unless of course, I blow it on the shaping. 😉 We’ll see how organized I can remain. I only frogged it three times to start. And I know this is the process I’ll use to start my first paint of socks… which I’m so excited to start that I’ve queued up three projects that I’ll start before I cast on. Really, how could I call myself a knitter if I don’t even try a pair of socks. I’ve already bought several skeins of sock yarn…of course, you can make lovely little baby sweaters with socks yarn too, not that I’m hedging!!

After I’m all done with the piecing, I’m going to add a few stitches of embroidery, probably keeping it monochromatic,maybe adding a very, very pale blush or green accent here or there. It’s going to be much more girly than anything else I’ve ever finished up, so we’ll see how much embroidery gets added before the party.

The thing I’m starting to realize is how much I have yet to learn, which is really exciting. Every project I’m completing is leaving me with a few more questions about technique, and a few more opinions about pattern writing 🙂 This will also be the first project that I’ll block… the lace is a really lovely little pattern, but the yarn is a tad unforgiving–silk and cotton… so very soft with a gorgeous sheen–and the fabric is a bit lumpy in spots, and the edge is curling. Part of the reason for the curl is that particular cast on I used, the knit on cast on. I have to admit… I despise casting on. I hate that there are so many different ways of doing it, that each one is better suited for a few particular purposes, that most of them are just a twist or two different from each other, that most of the ones recommended use only one needle and some strange knot contortion that I find so difficult to memorize… and finally, that there is so much counting… oh the counting!!

I hate counting.

Maybe these reasons have something to do with why I’m not so keen on crochet as well.

Once Upon a Time…

… a young woman,

err,

a young-ish woman, began a blog, having visions of vast amounts of spare time and devoted readers. Then one day as she sat typing up her latest entry, she realized it had been a while since she had seen her children. Or her husband. In fact, it had been quite some time before she had seen the light of day, or taken a shower, or even changed her clothes. Her teeth were a bit fuzzy, and she couldn’t quite remember the last time she had a meal worthy of mention.

So she took some time off.

Ok, fer real, like, really really real… I never considered that being the mother of two toddlers, or the owner of a house, or the wife of a travellin’ man, or the instructor of a class, or the provider of meals, or the seeker of other adult company could impede so thoroughly on my hobby life. Sheesh! Who wants to shop for spinach and yogurt when there’s a stash that needs a little busting?

I do have news to report: I have started a new baby sweater! It’s a little lacy… which is really my first official go at lace, and I have to get it done by next Saturday, when it will be gifted at a baby shower. I’ve already completed the back piece and I’m going to cast of the two sweater fronts tonight….right after this post goes up. I swear!! I’ve been reading a few posts about knitting two socks at once, and I’ve decided to try it with my sweater fronts. All the posts I’ve been reading talk about knitting two with the magic loop though… I’m not going to do that. I can’t get into magic loop… it leaves me twitching for some reason. I’m fine with dpns or using two long-ish circs. I think it’s like peanuts and peanutbutter… you don’t find many people who like both. Anyway, it’s the matinee coat by debbie bliss… turns out, she’s written up two patterns named the matinee coat, the one I’ve chosen does not have a seed stitch upper jacket.

matinee.jpg

I’ve using some debbie bliss cathay that I had lying around; it was not my first choice. I found a new little yarn store close to my parents’ home… ok, it’s new to me and in it was some gorgeous homespun shantung from a local spinner that I absolutely fell in love with… so I brought some home with me.

ahshantung.jpg

unfortunately, the gauge was terribly off for every sweater I had in mind for this particular shower. In the end, I decided to stick with my original sweater choice–I wasn’t sure the yarn would be great with the lace, but I wanted to try–and find a new yarn. And it took a huge amount of effort on my part, but I went to my stash to find something suitable instead of visiting the LYS. It took the better part of a day to figure out what to use, and it left a huge portion of my floor in disarray.

decisions.jpg

I got it back under control after the kids wen to bed, but I picked out three other yarns that will be used for a few quick projects before I’m allowing myself to go back to the store.

ha! that was a good one… almost believed myself for a second.

My husband doesn’t read this, does he??