Gray Days

We’ve entered the time of terrible picture taking weather here in Portland. It’s been very gray for quite a while now so I have a huge back log of projects that need to get photographed so that I can show them to you.

I know I’ve posted the occasional crappy cell phone or iPad photo, so clearly my standards aren’t THAT high, but I do like to show you what I make in a way that make it look at least a little pretty. Today the best I’ve got are photos from inside the yarn store. For Yarns Sake is extremely well lit, but it still doesn’t compare to natural light.

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Also, this was after a long shift of running around the shop, so I look a little frazzled. Also, look at my awesome blue glasses!
That is the October installment of the Dream in Color Club. The yarn was a fingering weight 80% American Merino Wool and 20% Silk. Not a base that Dream in Color normally carries. The pattern is called Autumn Fern Mobius by Jessica Correa.
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Each month for the Dream in Color Club we do a class featuring the yarn and pattern to help people with any tricky bits and get them started down the right path. I got to teach the October class so I got to knit this lovely sample.
It is a pretty straightforward leaf motif repeated over the length of the cowl. It starts with a provisional cast on, and is knit like a long scarf, then the ends are grafted together to form the mobius.
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The yarn sold out almost immediately, but the pattern will be available by itself in December. Overall, a quite enjoyable knit. There are lots more finished projects at Tami’s to see.

Dinner in the Eiffel Tower

I wish this was an exciting post about how I whisked myself away to Paris for the week to actually have dinner in the Eiffel Tower, but it’s not. It’s a post about how several weeks ago I finished knitting the shawl that is called Dinner in the Eiffel Tower by Jessie Dodington. Almost as glamorous right? I know.

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It is Ms. Dodington’s only design and it’s very pretty. I did make a few modifications to make the knitting easier. I started with a garter tab to even out the first lace section and keep an even border on each side. I also replaced the “ridges” section with another repeat of the lace pattern. This is partly because I love lace and partly because I heard from some others who made it that the ridges weren’t as stretchy as the lace and made the shawl pull in a bit through that section. Finally, I changed the plain bind off to a pico bind off because what shawl isn’t improved by a pico bind off.
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The yarn I used is Manos of Uruguay Silk Blend. It’s a single ply 70% merino 30% silk DK weight yarn. It’s heavenly soft and once you block it it drapes very nicely. The colorway is creatively named 3019.
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This shawl is a little too small to wrap around and stay without a pin, so I’ve been wearing it with this great pin by Plover Designs.  The neutral color of the pin and the yarn mean that I can wear this with pretty much everything in my wardrobe, and I have been wearing it a lot. Even though it’s a single ply yarn it hasn’t pilled at all. Overall, the shawl makes me make this face.
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Syllabus

I’m teaching three classes at the yarn shop this month. The first is a class to help people get started with the Dream In Color Club kit for October. Each month in the fall and winter, Dream in Color releases an exclusive yarn and pattern. The shop I work at has decided to do a class for each of the projects to help people with any tricky parts of the pattern. This one involves a provisional cast on and grafting, so that will be the focus of my class.

This is their promotional picture. I only got the yarn 9 days before I’m supposed to teach the class, so I’m frantically knitting, but I don’t have any pictures.
The next classes I’m doing for the month are stranded knitting and intarsia (offered as one 2-part class.) For the stranding class I’ve decided to focus on mittens since they are a relatively small, low commitment project. I gave my students the choice of Winter Twilight Mitts (which I’ve made before), Douglass Mittens (which I will show you friday), Freja (still need to whip one up), and Cotton Reel Mitts which look like this:
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Since this is destined to live at the shop as a store sample I only made one. As you can see, it’s a bit oversized on the hand model. That is a combination of the fact that the hand models are freakishly tiny (not even children have hands that slender) and that the pattern seems to run a bit big. Looking at all the pictures on ravelry, these look a little roomy on most people.
I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that Ysolda suggests a US 3 needle for fingering weight yarn. I have small hands, so if I wanted to make a pair that fit me, I would probably drop down to a US 0. If you have large hands you’ll be fine as written. For an “average” hand I would probable drop down to a US 2.
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They are also meant to come down your forearm a ways which the hand model doesn’t allow for.
The yarn I used is Spud and Chloe Fine which is a seriously good yarn. It’s 80% wool 20% silk fingering weight. These colors are goldfish and anemone.
As always, Ysolda has thrown in some amazing construction elements. These start with a 7-stitch i-cord that forms the bottom of the cuff. You then pick up stitches from the loose stitch in the back of the i-cord to begin knitting your mitten. This snugs up any looseness and leaves you with a great double-thick cuff.
I would absolutely make myself a pair of these (on smaller needles) if I wasn’t so buried under other projects. Oh, did I mention that the new knitalong starts on Friday?

New project!

I’ve been really trying to knit down my number of WIPs. I’ve been doing pretty good actually, and have managed to get from 16 to 8. But guys, I’m starting to get bored. Very bored. The call of brand new projects is strong. My solution:

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You see, weaving is NOT knitting so this really is NOT a new projects. It’s just the thing I’m currently working on.
Back in May I picked up a 10″ Cricket Loom at Black Sheep Fiber Festival. I wove my first project up in a jiffy, but then my loom sat. The thing was, I knew I wanted my next project to be with this yarn, but I didn’t have the correct size heddle.
This lovely String Theory Caper Sock yarn is fingering weight, and I only had a heddle suitable for a worsted-ish sized yarn. (The heddle is the white piece in the middle that you move up and down to weave. The further apart the holes, the bigger the “mesh” that you weave. Finer yarn needs a tighter mesh. Make sense?)
No problem. Saturday and Sunday was Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival (Oregon is such a yarn-y state) and I picked up two new heddles. One that will work with fingering weight yarn and one that will work with bulky yarn.
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The green is waste yarn that you weave a bit with at the beginning to even out your tension. It gets pulled out when you’re done.
I wanted to weave this yarn up because I knew I’d never knit with it. In a fit of crazy-pants I had it wound at the yarn shop when I bought it even though I knew I wasn’t going to use it immediately. I hate knitting with yarn that’s been wound for too long, and this has been sitting wound in the stash for over a year. Oops. Wound yarn gets super kinky near the center of the ball when it sits too long and the tension put on the yarn when it’s wound can mess with your gauge if the yarn sits in a wound ball for too long. Weaving solves all these problems.
What new things have you not started?

Class

I’m very excited because I’m going to start teaching knitting classes at For Yarn’s Sake in October. In October I’ll be doing a class for the October Dream In Color Kit (I won’t know what this is until the kit is revealed) and a two-part class on colorwork.

In order to get ready for my teaching debut, I decided to watch a master at work. Anne Laird is a teacher at For Yarns Sake who is phenomenal and loved by all. Tuesday I sat in on her class about the garter tab cast on for starting shawls. It was lots of fun. The choice of projects for the class was either Summer Flies or Dinner in the Eiffel Tower. I chose Dinner in the Eiffel Tower. I love it. I’m already in Section 4.

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I’ve done the garter tab cast on many times, but I loved being in a class because it let me observe how Anne runs her classes and I got to chat and have fun with some wonderful people.
I’m knitting this up in DK weight and it feels like it’s flying. Should be off the needles within the week.

Mystery revealed

OK, so I’m certainly not the first person to reveal this particular mystery, but I managed to finish up my Stephen West Mystery Knit-a-long from this year: Rockefeller.

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For those of you not familiar with mystery knit-a-longs, the concept is that you sign up not knowing what the pattern is, then over several weeks, the designer releases “clues” until you finally have the whole pattern. Yes, you could wait for all the clues to come out and see if you like the full pattern, but that’s not really in the spirit of the mystery.
I jumped right in with yarn and needles the day clue 1 was released. Clue 1 was the band of collar meant to sit at the back of the neck. Clue 2 was the more solid light green section that was picked up and worked down from the collar. Clue 3 was the slipped stitch edging around the circumference of the semicircle. Clue 4 were the garter stitch wings that grow out of the ends of the semicircle. I loved watching the clues come together.
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This is my preferred way to wear this shawl: collar sitting at the back of the neck, wings crossed over the chest and tied in the back. Because this shawl is so large I think that this way shows of the design the best while still letting me move around without getting in the way.
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It also really shows off the pattern on the back which I think of as the highlight of the piece. Generally I prefer to wear shawls more in the kerchief style with the bulk in the front and the wings wrapped behind me. As you can see, this shaw is just way to big to do that with.
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My one serious complaint with this shawl is that the yards requirements specified on the pattern are WAY low. I found that the estimate for color A was about 40 yards too low and the estimate for color B was a whopping 90 yards too low.
This led to me running out of both yarns. For my color A I used Tosh Merino Light in the colorway Brother’s Grimm. It was easy to pop by the yarn shop and pick up a second skein. For my color B however, I used Wollmeise 80/20 Tiwn in the colorway Grunfink. I knew it would be impossible to get another skein so I had to make due. I managed to find a close color match in a skein of Abstract Fiber O’Keefe yarn in the colorway chartreuse. I knew if I just changed colors after running out of the grunfink the change would be obvious, so I ripped my first wing back to the beginning and began striping every other “B” colored stipe between the lighter O’Keefe and the darker 80/20 Twin. This is really obvious in the first photo.
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Now that I’m done with it, I’m in love but there was some serious cursing each time I ran out of yarn. I would also like to point out just for the record that this is the first of Stephen’s patterns that I’ve come across with this problem. Usually I have no trouble completing his patterns with the yardage he recommends. Just be warned if you decide to start this one. Buy extra yarn!

Ouch

Yesterday I fell… twice. It was pretty public and embarrassing. It probably also hurt, but at the time I didn’t notice any pain because I was too busy wishing the earth would swallow me whole. It didn’t and I had to stand up and go on with my life.

This morning though, the pain kicked in with a vengeance. I was woken up much too early by a throbbing leg. I consulted with my dad who is a life-time runner and coached track and cross country for many years (and therefore has experience every kind of leg injury known to man.) I described the falls (dear god why did there have to be two!) and he’s pretty certain that it’s a “high ankle sprain.” He tells me these are slower to heal that your run-of-the-mill ankle sprain. Joy.

Frustratingly, as with most minor muscle, ligament, tendon injuries the “treatment” is rest, ice, compression, and elevation (I think I was born knowing about RICE treatments… so common were they in our house growing up.) I don’t have an ace bandage (dad would be appalled) and I definitely don’t feel like limping out to get one, so today has been all about RIE.

The only upside has been the knitting. The LYS I work at has been featuring Calliope’s Odyssey as the September knit-a-long and I’ve been loving it!  After today I’m through 4 of the 9 repeats of chart B. After chart B comes the fun colorwork section.

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Of course unblocked and scrunched up on my needles it’s not looking like much, but I assure you it will be amazing once finished. The yarn I’m using is a 50% merino 50% tencel blend called Agleam by Sincere Sheep  and I’m loving how crisp and shiny my stitches look.
No laughing if you see me hobbling around in the next few days.

A very bright scarft

When last I showed you my first weaving endeavor it looked like this:

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That is my 10″ Cricket Loom all warped and ready for weaving. They yarn it is warped with came with the loom as practice yarn to get used to the process. The loom also came with a color picture tutorial for warping and weaving. I followed the tutorial and it was really pretty simple to get the loom warped up.
It only took me a few days to weave the scarf. I could have easily done it in one day but I only let myself work on it for an hour at a time. Here is my very first woven project.
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It is not without mistakes. There are several places where the weft went over/under more than one strand of the warp. I must remember to be careful on my next project to make sure I’m going through the center of the opening between the warp strands. The edges are also very tight compared to the center. I still need to research the best way to combat this. Any ideas?
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These colors are very bright and high contrast. I understand that that makes the learning process easier, but it also means that I probable won’t wear this scarf that often. The green really is quite electric.
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I have two more finished projects completely off the needles and one more that is so close I can taste it. I should have a nice parade of finished-object posts ready for you.
On a sadder note, the Kitties went to the V-E-T today and I learned that one of them has to have a minor surgical procedure to remove a bad tooth. I was warned when I first took her in after adopting her that she was high risk for having bad teeth and it’s actually pretty amazing that she made it to 4 years old without having to have any removed previously. Still I don’t like the idea of subjecting her to the anesthesia and the ordeal of a day-long vet visit (the one hour visits are bad enough.) Here she is with her sister (who was given a clean bill of health) cowering under the chair in the exam room.
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For all the trouble they give me when I try to get them in the carriers at home, once we get to the vet they refuse to come out and then once the top is taken off the carriers they dash under the chair to try to hide. The vet-teches are really good-natured about getting down on their hands and knees to wrangle them. Send good thoughts on the 17th–surgery day.

Cabled Scarf

I finished the cabled scarf I’ve been working on for the past week and half or so.  Here’s my “I’m happy to be modeling my new scarf” picture.

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And here’s my “It’s 80 degrees and I’ve got wool wrapped around my neck” picture.
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The pattern is #8 Cabled Scarf by Elena Malo from the Holiday 2008 issue of vogue knitting.  The yarn is Knit Picks Gloss DK 70% merino wool and 30% silk.  The colorway is called Robot.  It grew like mad when I blocked it.  I knit the scarf to about 5 feet long but after washing it was over 6 feet.  I like longer scarves anyway, but I’m glad I didn’t make a sweater or something that needed to be fitted instead.
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Overall I like it, but it’s too hot to get that excited about a wool scarf.  Also, it’s not reversible so I have to pay attention to whether it’s “right-side up.”
Only 8 more projects on the needles.
Go check out the projects on Tami’s blog.

Spectra

Tragedy struck yesterday. My trusty laptop was overheating to the point of shutting itself off. I assumed that the fan was either clogged or malfunctioning or that the innards had finally gotten so full of cat hair that it decided to give up. I took it to the apple store expecting them to tell me the would either clean it out or install a new fan. Imagine my surprise when I was told that my hard drive was in the process of dying a slow but inevitable death.

Now I am a marginally savvy cookie and I backed up everything to my external hard drive before taking it in. Because of this, I didn’t feel too bad when they told me I’d need a new drive. I bought the extended warranty, so even though Lappy is almost 3 years old he would get the new drive for free. Bonus: they no longer make 250GB drives so I’d be getting 500 at no extra charge. This was all sounding pretty good until Appleman tells me that, because of the long and agonizing death Lappy has been suffering, he may not have been backing my data up properly at all. Perfect.

I was supposed to get him back today to and I would be able to see if my external dive actually contains any data (I store as much as I can in the cloud, but all my bar outlines are on that drive… Or I should say, are maybe on that drive.) Appleman called me back today to say that the drive replacement went well, but when they ran Lappy through the stress test, his board failed and must also be replaced and then he must go through the stress test again.

Now for some good news: we took a practice bar exam today and my score was passing! Theoretically this means I can pass the real exam on the 24/25. WOOT.

Also, Spectra is done and blocked.

I’m not sure if I mentioned this before but Spectra sort of started out as a bet between Ryan and I. We were in Twisted and they had a store sample using the same color of Zauberball for the wedges (I lost my tag so I can’t tell you what that color is) and Ryan thought it looked pretty cool, but difficult to make. I told him it was cool (it’s Stephen West after all) but really not that difficult. “Really?” he said, “you could makes this?” His tone was a little too incredulous for my taste and I immediately boasted that I could easily make it. At this point Ryan bought me the yarn and challenged me to make a Spectra. Challenge accepted.

BAM
BAM
BAM

If there is a winner here, it’s clearly me. I got free yarn. Proved my awesome knitting prowess. AND now I have a Spectra.

The non-zauber yarn is Cascade heritage silk. It’s lovely to work with. I did run out of it a bit early, and so my Spectra only has 84 rather than 86 wedges. (This has no affect on my victory!)

This is the first time since December I haven’t had something by Stephen West on the needles.

This brings my WIP total down to 9.

Go check out Tami’s.