Happy Birthday Adam!

My gigantic/little brother turned 22 this month.  Naturally, I knit him his present.  A while back I came across a pattern for triforce gauntlets and thought they would be the perfect blend of nerdy nostalgia for Adam.

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He seems to like them.  The pattern, by Emily Hastings, is free on Ravelry.  For those of you not familiar with one of the best videogame series of all time, the Triforce is from Zelda.  If you haven’t played Zelda, do, but be sure you have about 50 hours of free time you can afford to lose.
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I gave him that shirt on a previous birthday.  I am an awesome sister.
 
 
The yarn is nothing special.  The brown is Red Heart Super Saver in Cafe Late and the tan is Vanna’s Choice in Linen.  Both are 100% acrylic.  Adam is super hard on all his clothes/belongings and acrylic seems to stand up the best to his shenanigans.
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I know I’ve mentioned that my brother is a giant freak of nature but here’s a little more proof.  Above he is pictured with my dad who is 6’1″.  At 6’10” Adam is over a full head taller.  Freak.

New Pretties

Hi! Remember how I blogged every single day in January and siad how it was challenging but fun and I wanted to blog more often if not every day… well turns out if I don’t have some sort of deadline or mental challenge kicking me in the butt every day, I can get a bit… let’s say “distracted.”  Partially, it’s just that my knitting has been really boring.  All I’ve really done is finished these:

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I’ve showed them to you several times at various in-progress stages and until I finished them I was basically putting in 10-15 rows a night and not working on anything else (damn school taking all my knitting time.)  I didn’t really want to show you a picture every day of my next 10 rows.
These are Winter Twilight Mitts by Laura Rintala which is a free download through Interweave’s Knitting Daily.  They are supposed to look like trees (that have lost their leaves) in twilight, but I have had several people tell me that they can’t see the trees.  The lighter color is the trees and the darker color is the night sky as seen through the trees.  I think the problem is that some people are looking for the trees in the negative space.
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I had a bit of a problem because the pattern assumes that you will use a very dark color for the trees (like black) and a sunset type color for the background (like reddish-purple.)  Because of this, the cart for the pattern charts the trees in black and the background in white.  Since I was using a light color for my trees and a darker color for my background I had some trouble reading the chart and inverting the color associations in my head.  Something to keep in mind if you want to make a version with light trees.
The yarn I used is Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light.  I used this yarn for the first time on my shawl from the Westknits Shawl Club Sharktooth.  I loved it and ran out and bought some for these mittens so that I would have a chance to knit with it again.  The lighter color is Antique Lace and the darker color is Clematis.  The colors are so deep and the yarn is so soft.  And it’s a single-ply and I love working with single-ply yarn.  It’s jockeying neck and neck with String Theory Caper Sock for the title of “Melanie’s Favorite Yarn.”

Most of a mitt

My Winter Twilight Mitts have been trucking along nicely.  All that is missing from the first one is the ribbing at the top of the thumb.

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My Christmas gift to myself this year was an iPad.  One of the best apps I’ve found so far is GoodReader.  It is a PFD reader and editor and it is great for knitting patterns.  I can “mark up” a PDF of a pattern, highlight the size I’m making, or follow along in my chart.  I can draw a line on the chart and move it as needed when I complete a row.  It’s been so helpful for keeping my place as I pick up and put down this project.
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Since I can’t really watch TV while I work on these, I’ve been taking them to knit-chat or working on them while listening to an audio book.  I just finished listening to the Hunger Games and loved it.  It’s very similar to Battle Royale (which I also loved) plot-wise–bunch of kids forced to fight to the death by a ruthless government.  If you don’t like violence/are squeamish I’d advise against picking this one up.  Otherwise it’s totally enthralling from about 20 minutes (couldn’t tell you in pages) onward.  I really want to start the next one, but it’s only available in hardcover (don’t like buying hardcover books) and I don’t get my next audible credit until the 22nd.  Resisting the urge to just buy it anyway.  I got the book per a recommendation on the Yarn Harlot’s blog then 2 days later learned they are making it into a movie.  I can’t wait to see how true they stay to the book.  They did a great job with Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, so I have a bit of faith in Hollywood right now.

Jumping around

I feel a mad case of startitis brewing.  The burning desire to cast on every wonderful pattern in sight until I completely run out of knitting needles.  (Hint: I have a ton of knitting needles.)  I think I start to feel this way when all of my projects feel like they are “long term” projects (meaning more than one week to complete.)  When I start to feel like there is no end in sight, my logical (totally and completely logical, don’t laugh) reaction is to cast on another project that will be so fun and enjoyable that I will speed to the end and feel the sweet sweet gratification of having a finished object.

So far, I’ve been resisting the urge and haven’t cast on anything new since the new year.  To satisfy my lack of ability to focus on any one project, I’ve been jumping around putting a little bit of attention into one or two of my WIPs each day.  On the one hand, this satisfies my desire to constantly be working on something different, on the other hand, it also ensures that I continue to feel like “nothing will ever get done” which tends to bring on startitis in the first place.
Today, the project du jure was a fingreless mitt I’ve been working on, which will (hopefully) be part of a pair someday.
So far these have done a pretty good job of keeping me interested–they have that colorwork “just one more row” magic–but I suspect that as soon as it comes time to make the second one, working the pattern a second time will seem less charming.  I will resist casting one 15 new things.  I will!

Susie’s Mitts

My aunt Susie is pretty much a saint.  She lives with my grandma and basically takes care of her.  Grandma is pretty much at the stage where she shouldn’t drive any more, so Susie takes her where she needs to go and all the palaces she likes do go (like doughnuts on Tuesday mornings.)

Grandma called me the other day to tell me that Susie’s hands get cold when she has to drive in the mornings because the steering wheel is cold and asked if I could please make Susie some fingerless mitts for driving.  I decided on the Commuter Fingerless Mittens by Stephanie Sun from Knitty First Fall 2011.

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I thought this patter was super cute when it first came out in Knitty and queued it immediately.  The request for fingerless gloves immediately brought the pattern to my mind.  I love the way they flip up to provide more finger coverage if you need it.

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New camera!  I just got a new Cannon SX230 HS.  It’s a pocket sized point and shoot and I love it!  It takes fantastic close up pictures don’t you think?


The yarn is some of my favorite from the stash.  It’s Berroco Pleasure 66% angora, 29% merino, and 5% nylon.  It’s basically the snuggliest yarn there is.  Sadly it’s discontinued.  I got 14 balls back when it went on close out (originally $13.99 per ball, I got it for $4.50 per ball) and have enjoyed deciding how to use it.  I have also made a Climbing Vines pullover with it.  It’s wonderful to work with but the real magic happens once it’s been washed.  The yarn blooms and becomes even softer and fluffier.  Perfect for keeping fingers nice and toasty.

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The buttons are just simple silver buttons I found at JoAnn’s last weekend, the same style on the back of the hand and on the palm just different sizes.  I was shocked at how expensive buttons have become!  It was $6 for these simple ones, more elaborate ones would have cost even more.  Oh well, since I used stash yarn the cost for the project was pretty low.  The project only took one ball of yarn and knit up in under a week.  If I didn’t like my aunt so much, I’d seriously think about keeping these for myself.

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Does this mean it’s Spring?

Several weeks ago, yarndude posted that he had finished a pair of mittens and that the finishing seemed to bring spring to Pennsylvania.  This makes sense since by the time you actually finish knitting something, it’s no longer the season you need it in.  There’s no combating this unless you want to do your summer knitting in the winter and be working with wool in the summer.  Since it seemed to work for him, I decided it would be worth a try.

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These are the NHM #14 mittens from the book Selbuvotter by Terri Shea.  I started these about a year ago then lost steam.  Recently I dug them out again to start taking them to the knit chat at my LYS.  After 10 months of not working on them, it only took about 5 knit chats to finish the first and knit the second.

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My gauge was a bit looser on the second one.  I think I relaxed a bit as I got used to holding one color in each hand.  This made one mitten about 1/4 inch longer than the other, but it doesn’t show when they’re worn.

The yarn is the wonderfully rustic Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift.  It’s woolen spun which makes it lofty, gives it a nubbly texture, makes it a little thick-n-thin, and makes it wonderfully warm.  The colors are yellow ochre and grouse.  I love these colors together so much.  They scream fall to me.  This is good because fall is the perfect season for fingering weight mittens.

These run quite small.  I have small hands and usually have to buy gloves made for kids and these fit me pretty well.  If you were thinking of making these and you have larger hands, I would seriously consider using sport or dk weight yarn and bigger needles.

On a side note, the semester is over!!!!  Now I have two glorious weeks to do whatever I want (you know like laundry, clean my apartment, take the cats to the vet, get my eyes checked…things there was no time to do during the semester.)  Ryan and I are going camping on Thursday and to a play at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  Then it’s off to work for the rest of the summer.

Test Knit Mitts

In February I was given the great privilege of being able to test-knit Anna Sudo’s new pattern Spiral Staircase Mitts. The pattern is exceptionally well written. Even though the pattern is intuitive after the first few rounds, Anna has each round carefully written out so that if you think you might be lost (or if you are constantly picking up and setting down projects like I am) you can easily find exactly where you are. Here are the palms of the mitts.

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As you can see, these are long mitts, that go about halfway up the forearm. The 1×1 twisted ribbing is slowly replaced with stockinette in a spiral created with simple YOs and decreases. (As usual, the Portland spring has supplied no sunshine for picture taking so you get nasty inside fluorescent light photos.) The spiral continues around to the back of the hand and stops under your pinkie finger.

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One of the things I really like about these mitts is how far up your fingers they go (especially for me since I have small fingers.) It provides maximum warmth while still allowing your fingers to be free. I did find that it was hard to type while wearing them because they don’t allow your fingers to spread out far enough, but my solution to this was to simply fold the top down while typing.

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One of the things I don’t really like about these mitts is that the YOs on the left mitt make very large holes, whereas the YOs on the right mitt make very small almost invisible holes. I think this is because on one mitt they are placed before the decrease and on one mitt they are placed after the decrease. I don’t really like holes in my mitts (seems impractical to me) so If I made these again, I would probably correct this by doing all the increases with a backward-loop M1 which would produce no holes at all.

My mitts are made from Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in colorway Bittersweet Heather which looks black in some lights and brown in others. It’s leftover from the Into the Woods kit. I decided that I’m not making the mitts that came with the kit, so the extra yarn will be cannibalized as attractive projects present themselves. I used 1.5 skeins for these mitts.

Lotus

I have recently been expanding my hat wardrobe. I have decided that hats go with most of my casual day to day wear and are a great way to 1) stay warm and 2) cover up a bad hair day. My newest addition to my hat wardrobe is this.

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It’s the Lotus Hat by UptownPurl and it can be found free on her blog. It’s a very simple 8 row zig-zag lace repeat that makes beautiful vine-like motifs running up the hat.

I made a few changes to the pattern as written but they were so minor and mostly based on other ravelers’ suggestions. I did the 1×1 ribbing as twisted rib instead of normal. I did the ribbing for 10 rows instead of 6. I knit 4 repeats of the pattern before decreasing instead of 3 to make it come down over my ears. That’s all. Not minor changes, but worth mentioning if you want your hat to look “just” like this one.

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This is the hat blocking over a balloon… my new favorite way to block hats. A bag of balloons was less that $2 at Target (in the area with the birthday wrapping paper) and it’s so much faster than blocking by laying flat. I just blew up a balloon to 21″ circumference and put the hat on it. No having to constantly flip the hat to make sure both sides are drying, no having to rotate how the hat is laying so that it doesn’t dry with a crease, AND it drys 3x as fast because the wet layers aren’t sitting on top of each other keeping the moisture in.

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The best part of the hat is the crown where the decreases make the vines spiral together beautifully.

I used Malabrigo Merino Worsted in colorway Black Forest. According to my yarn scale, this took 50.5 g of yarn, so just a bit over half a skein. This was leftover from my earlier Botanic hat, where I used it as the secondary color, and even after both hats I still have 33 g left. I’m thinking I will just be able to squeeze a short pair of fingerless mitts out of it.

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Action shot! Also, a picture of my fuzzy mitts from last post where they can be seen in actual use… and in sunlight no less. Much thanks to the Portland weather gods for sending a bit of sunshine our way.

Warm hands, warm heart

My grandma always says “warm hands, warm heart” which I think means that having warm hands is proof that you are a “warm-hearted” person. This does not bode well for me because my fingers are always cold. Recently I’ve been craving a pair of fingerless gloves to keep my hands warm and still allow me to use my computer (my school says they’re being “green” by keeping the classrooms freezing cold, but I suspect is has more to do with being cheap…) I was in my LYS, and they had a sample of this simple pattern, and it stole my heart.

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This pattern is Brushed Suri Mitts by Merri Fromm. I used the exact yarn called for Blue Sky Alpacas Brushed Suri. The yarn is 67% baby Suri alpaca, 22% merino, and 11% bamboo. It’s a halo yarn like Kid Silk Haze from Rowan or Suri Dream from Knit Picks. There is a “core” to the yarn that fuzzy alpaca fluffs out from. The pattern only takes about 75% of a skein.

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It’s not super clear from my bad photos (we had a week of gloom w/ no natural light at all when I took them, now that the sun has returned I should go outside and take some more) but one mitt is actually about an inch shorter than the other. That is because after you knit the thumb gusset you are supposed to knit straight for 10 rounds before actually separating the thumb… I forgot to do this on the second mitt. I love this bunches, so I bought another skein and I will make one long (correct) mitt and one short (leaving out the 10 rows) then then have a pair for myself and a pair that I can give away (or a backup).

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This photo is blurry, but it shows the halo coming off the gloves well. I was worried that I would find them itchy because of the high alpaca content and because of the halo, but they’re pretty much the softest most comfortable thing ever and I wear them all the time.

The estimation game

OK friends I have come up with a crazy game to play with myself to hopefully help me get some of those WIPs off the needs. Here is my plan: I am going to estimate how many days of knitting it will take to finish each of my WIPs. I will try to pick something that is a bit challenging but (hopefully) reasonable. For each WIP that I finish within the allotted amount of time I can spend $15 on yarn. That is a potential of $165 I would allow myself to splurge!

The rules:

1) I must knit some each day. If I don’t knit one day one of my projects will still have to take a strike.

2) Each day will be allocated to one project. If I knit on more than one project I will have to choose which one takes the day.

3) Any new cast-ons (with the one exception I will explain later) will not count. If I waste days playing with new projects I may have to give up getting some new yarn.

4) Finished means completely finished. As in off the needles, blocked, seamed, buttons applied, etc. Ready to be worn/used.

5) No money can be spent on yarn, needles, notions, ect. until this challenge is over, i.e. all the days have been used up.

My predictions:

1) First spinning attempt. I bought a drop spindle and some Targhee wool at sock summit last August and started spinning away. I actually got to the point where my spinning was pretty even but then I got distracted with school and didn’t pick it up for 11 months. Now I am at it again and am getting somewhat even results… For a first attempt I’m pretty happy. Anyway, about 1 oz. of the 3.8 oz braid was used in my thrummed mittens. The rest is on it’s way to becoming yarn. According to my Knit Picks yarn scale (so wonderful to have!) I have 0.78 oz left. I’m going to be a little generous with this one and give myself 5 days to finish since I’m so new to spinning. I think two days for spinning, two days for plying, and one day for washing, drying and skeining.

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2) Op Art. I have four stripes left on this blanket. That sounds pretty manageable, until I think about how each stripe contains both more rows that the stripe before and more stitches per row. I’m going to push myself and give myself 20 days here. right now it’s taking me about 35 minutes to do one row. I’m guessing I have 60 hours left on this puppy so I’m going to have to give it 3 hours each of it’s days. This is going to be my biggest challenge.

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3) Hope for Change socks. My oldest WIP to date. I love the way this pattern looks, it’s just not my favorite to knit. One sock is complete the other sock is about 2/3 up my instep (knit from toe up). I’m only giving myself 3 days to finish these babies. One day to get past the heel, two days for the leg and cuff.

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4) Mojo socks. These are so close to being done I can taste it. I have 45 rows left. These get one day.

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5) Yeah for Fall (Green Gable sweater). This went so quickly when I was working on it. I knit the whole body in about a week. I’m going to give it one more week. 3 days to finish the sleeves, 3 days to finish the yoke and hood, and 1 day for blocking.

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5) Birthday socks (Air Raid socks). The first sock is finished. The second sock has one repeat of 6 done on the leg (knit from the top down). The first sock went very fast. There is no real reason these have taken so long other than they are my “purse” project and I haven’t had to wait very often (knock on wood). I will give these 5 days.

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6) Selbu Mittens. One mitten is half done. These take complete attention because I have to follow the colorwork chart carefully. With school starting on the 30th complete attention is going to be hard to give. I’m going to be a bit lax with these and give them 14 days since full devotion will be hard to muster.

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7) Baby Surprise Jacket. This will go quickly once I turn my attention to it, I have just been focusing on other things recently. I am giving this 3 days.

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8) Victorian Scarf. Lace, like colorwork takes a lot of attention. Also, this project is pretty huge. I have 3 repeats of 42 done, plus the center panel, which is skinny but looooooong. I am going to give this project 18 days. That is 3 repeats a day for 14 days then 3 days for the center panel and 1 for blocking.

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9) Pomatomous Socks. These are fun to knit but all of the twisted stitches are slow going for me. I am 1/3 through the leg (knit top down) on the first sock. I’m going to say 10 days for these socks.

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10) Test Knit – Bashful. I can’t show you a picture of this one, but I’m test knitting a hat for Marly Bird aka Yarnthing on Ravelry. The hat is slouchy and DK weight but I can’t tell you anything about it until the pattern is released. So far all I have knit is the ribbing. I’m giving it 2 days since it’s a hat and hats are smallish quickish projects.

11) Test Knit – Whirligig bolero. This is a test knit for Stephanie Japel to help her up-size a pattern that was originally only in baby/toddler sizes. She is going to re-release it with bigger child and adult sizes. I’m testing one of the child sizes. It will either go to one of my cousins’ kids or to charity, but when the pattern is release I will have the adult sizes muahahaha. I haven’t actually gotten the pattern yet or my assigned size (supposed to come out today) but it has to be done within 3 weeks so I’m going to give myself 21 days.

That is 108 days to finish all my projects. That means on November 25 I will be done with this little adventure. That gives me one month to do any Christmas knitting I need… More than enough right…