Sunday, February 22, 2009

On Needles

I imagine most every knitter dreams of having straights, doublepoints and circulars in all the sizes and lengths.... I do. When I was in college, my parents gave me the next best thing: one of those sets of needle tips and various lengths of cables. Knitting with them was not fun. The tips would come loose and the stitches would drop into the cravasse between the two.

For this project I had planned to buy circulars once I knew what size I needed but I finished the gauge swatches too late to get to the shop before they closed. Wanting to cast on right then, I rummaged through my needle canister and came out with these 13" aluminum straights that I'm pretty sure were made in the Neolithic Era. Whether I bought them when I first started building my own collection, or I inherited them from my mother, they definitely now qualify as antiques. Surprisingly, they worked out fine; just took a bit of getting use to after knitting socks with 6" bamboo doublepoints for what seems like forever.

The guernsey's done now and the little guy who wears it will be toasty warm on chilly days. A classic pattern, knit with classic needles. What a nice match it turned out to be.

Monday, February 16, 2009

And the winner is....

The fisherlad guernsey. Here's the back done to the final row. The pattern calls for binding off the shoulder stitches and putting the neckband ones on a holder but I remember making a Penny Straker kid's sweater pattern where the front and back shoulder stitches were knit off together and it made an invisible shoulder seam without the kitchener stitch. I'm putting the stitches on holders for now and will look for that pattern to review.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Warm Hands

Winters can be cold in Midcoast Maine and every day I find myself walking thru unheated workshops or climbing around a boat outdoors to deliver messages. By the time I'm back in the office my hands have gone from warm to downright chilly. Not anymore. My new fingerless gloves will offer a layer of warmth while my fingers are free to hold pen and paper. Made of the J KNITS Superwash Me pictured in my last post, they're knit in an overall 2 by 2 twisted rib/mock cable. The pattern came from Andra Asars' website and was as simple as they get. Keeping the pattern stitch going on the gusset while doing increases was about the only part I had to really think about. It got much easier once I decided to do increases on the same round as the twist. Although my hands don't have lovely long manicured nails like the model's on Andra's website, I decided to model for this photoshoot anyway holding the ball of left-over yarn to give some idea of how much of the 2 ounce hank was left. (If you want the exact amount, let me know. I'll get back to you!) In a panic last week I'd called the shop (Heavenly Socks in Belfast -- Highly recommend it!) and asked the owner to save another hank for me. (Thank you Helen.) what shall I do with the extra hank? While I ponder, it goes into my evergrowing stash. (BTW, if your stash is shrinking, you're not visiting your LYS often enough!)

What shall I do for my next project? It's time for a break from socks and sock yarn. The nominees are two patterns from Marcia Lewandowski's book, Folk Mittens, and a Yankee Knitter Design, Fisherlad Guernsey, for a toddler. While making a sweater would definitely be a break from socks, trying some two color knitting is tempting. Whatever the project, it has to be a manageable one that's likely to get finished. Perhaps the Mittens from Halland (No, that's not a typo; Halland's evidently an area in Sweden.) or the Minnesota Mittens that use two strands of the same color. I'd still get the same experience as if I was knitting with two colors and I'm thinking two strands, same color, mistakes won't be as obvious! Trust me, this is important. I've been accused (and I admit probably rightly so) of having perfectionist tendencies. I once 'unknit' right down to the first cast-on the entire back of a fisherman knit destined for my husband. What can I say, I would have zoomed in on that mistake every time he wore it. (Do I hear all you other perfectionists out there saying Amen?) Of course, I could have saved myself a whole lot of time had I known that he would, after wearing it a few times, put it through the washer AND dryer. That was nearly thirty years ago and I've never knit another sweater for him. Yes, we're still married and yes, he still does the laundry, most of the time.

Off to test drive some yarn. I'll let you know my decision soon...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Can't Sleep

Have you ever been so excited about starting a project that you can't fall asleep? While it can be a problem on a night when you have to get up and go to work the next day, on a weekend the only solution is to get back up and knit until your craving is satisfied. Such was last night.

First, how the yarn found its way into my heart and yarn basket... My mother lives with us (as does my husband's mother. No empty nest syndrome here). Mom had been homebound for more than a week and it was time to get her out of the house. A ride would be nice but my destination? The LYS, of course. Mom would be content to watch people skate on icy sidewalks and scale evergrowing snowbanks while I popped in to see what was new and enticing...I had in mind those beautiful multi-colored mittens lots of knitters are making as a possible next project. Let's not talk about the yarn I bought two weeks ago or the mound right next to the sofa, enough for at least a dozen pairs of socks. (Does anyone else suffer from yarn compulsions like this?)

Two books, six skeins and two sets of dp's later, I trooped back to the car, anxious to get home. Not yet however. Mom hadn't had enough of a drive. Hmmmm.... up the coast about a half hour was a seafood restaurant where we could get a lobster roll, her favorite lunch out. It was still a little early to have lunch when we crossed the city limits, even by her standards, but never fear there's another LYS, uncharted territory, yet to be explored. I found a fingerless glove sample that felt so good when I slipped my hand into it, I HAD to have a pair for myself. What the heck, two pairs...well, maybe I'll give one pair away....maybe.
The sample was made with J Knits Superwash Me--Light. I picked out the two colorways shown in the photo, remembered to ask for the free pattern and instantly decided this had to be the next project.

Fast Forward: Home at last and time to let my new yarn wrap around my fingers. some self-restraint for heaven's sake. At least finish the second sock of a pair that has been on the needles far too long. A struggle ensued, at least in the mind. Usually socks don't languish on my needles as long as these have but while the colorway was wonderful, the yarn wasn't enjoyable to handle. Whether it was dry or the sheep was having a bad hair day on sheering day or it was the dyes used, the best way to describe it would be to say it was like knitting with young cactus. I have high hopes that it will soften up with a few washings, although it can't be any rougher than my winter feet. I picked up the needles and finished the sock.

Before I knew it the clock said 9:30 and time to go to bed. What happened to my day? The new yarn had made it from hank to ball to cast on stitches. Alas, the real knitting would have to wait til morning, or so I thought as I headed upstairs. After two hours of twisting in the blankets much like a fly caught in a spider's web I surrendered to the call of the yarn. Two repeats of the four rows of the pattern and my brain was ready to shift out of gear for the day.

Today, I've promised to start gathering receipts and figures for the taxes but maybe just a few more rows before I start...