Expanding my skills

Last March when the Spring 2011 issue of Interweave Crochet came out I could not wait to make the Bluebell Cardigan by Edie Eckman. I began (cast on?) the same day the magazine arrived.  I quickly worked through the flowered border, then…

IMG_1019


I have no idea.  Something sent it to the basket and it stayed there for over a year.  Recently, I’ve been in a “get sh*t done” mood so I’ve been pulling out old projects left and right and finishing them up.

I picked it back up and I’ve been seriously trucking through it.

IMG_0800

In two days I’ve finished about 10 inches of the body.  Thats insane!  I could never bust through a knitting pattern that fast.

The cardi is made in one piece up to the armpits then split and knit separately to the shoulders.  Most of the cardigan is this all-over mesh pattern.

IMG_0801
The flower details at the bottom look a little crummy right now, but it looks like they will block out pretty nicely.
IMG_0802
I love reading blogs where people talk about what they’re reading along with what they’re knitting, so I figured I’d start sharing as well.  Recently, I’ve been reading an excellent book–The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murderer and the Birth of Forensic Medecine in Jazz Age New York (why oh why do academics feel the need for long subtitles?) by Deborah Blum.

 

It’s so good! Prior to the late 1800s it was basically impossible to prove if someone had been poisoned–needless to say, it became a pretty popular way to get rid of people.  As scientists started to come up with ways of detecting poisons, poisoners switched to poisons that were harder to detect.  When the industiral era was in full swing in the ’20s industrialists were constantly inventing new chemicals to facilitate their industries but there was little investigation into what the side effects of the chemical exposure might be.
The book chronicles the cat-and-mouse between murderers and scientists and the development of the science of detecting poison. The book reads like a story and even though it talks about scientific development it doesn’t get overly technical.  Fair warning though, it does describe the effects of various poisons on the body, sometimes in detail.  I found the descriptions of radium poisoning especially disturbing.  Seriously though, I’m loving this book.  Read it!

Heaven

I debated about posting about this since it’s not really far enough to have any good pictures, but this project is so heavenly I thought I would share the love.  I’ve been working on the Dahlia Cardigan for the past few weeks on and off and every time I pick up the project it’s pure bliss.

I’m not very far along because I have other projects that “need” to be done so I’ve been trying to be good and focus on them and only work on this every once a while but just look how lovely it is so far:

IMG_1291

That is almost all of the lace panel for the back of the cardigan.  The lace is pretty simple but you have to keep track of where you are in the pattern since it is repeated 4 times every row.  The pattern starts with this fun bit a lace that is just the right amount of challenge, then changes to easy-breezy stockinette for the rest of the pattern with some interesting construction elements thrown in.

The pattern, as written, has long square fronts which look cute on some, but I’m not really into the flowing -front style that is so popular right now.  I plan to do some short-row experimentation and see if I can get a more typical cardigan style shaping.

The pattern is fun, but the real reason this project is heavenly to work on is the yarn.

IMG_1290

This is String Theory Caper Sock.  Heaven.  This is hands down my favorite yarn.  Better than Malabrigo.  Better than Madeline Tosh.  It’s the perfect.  By clicking that link, and looking at the pictures above, you can see that their colors are absolutely amazing.  Sadly, what the pictures can’t show you is how amazing this yarn feels.  The yarn is 80% merino, 10% cashmere, 10% nylon.  It’s so amazingly squishy and soft and snuggly and makes perfect plump squooshy stitches that just look happy.

The other two projects that I’m working on that “need” to be done sooner than later are some socks for my grandma to keep her feet warm this winter (she is having circulation issues and always has cold hands and feet) and a set of market bags for my mother that are long long long over due…  I try to work on those most of the day and just get a few guilty-pleasure rows of this cardigan in before bed.

Whirligig

In September I finished test-knitting Whirligig Shrug for Stephanie Japel. The pattern originally appeared in Interweave Knits Weekend 2009 but was only sized for babies. Stephanie decided to up-size it for children, and eventually plans to release an adult version as well. I volunteered to test the Child size 6 (in the hopes of getting a free copy of the adult sized pattern once it is released.) I have no idea about children’s clothes sizing so have no idea what age of child a size 6 would fit. It’s pretty cute though.

IMG_0490

I used a DK weight yarn called Soft Sea Wool from Reynolds. It’s 100% wool, so it may have been an impractical choice for a child’s garment since it’s not machine washable… Also, it’s a 2-ply yarn so it’s a bit nubbley and doesn’t show off the seed stitch or the cables as well as it could. If I knit it again I will be sure to use a more balanced 3- or 4-ply yarn for smooth stitch definition.

I couldn’t get a good picture of the front because I couldn’t hang it and get a picture, but here it is flat against a dark background. (I figured kidnapping a child just to model handknits for me might be more trouble than it’s worth, so you’re stuck with this mediocre picture of the front.)

IMG_0488

I can absolutely vouch for the pattern and say that it is error free (at least as to size 6) and very quick to knit. I found working the small circumference of the arms a bit tedious, but I assume it would be that way for any child-sized garment with arms. Probably this will end up donated to the charity that provides clothes to the homeless here in Portland.