Pink Ops

Several years ago, I made myself an Op Art blanket from Melissa Dominguez’s pattern in the Fall 2008 Knitty. You may remember I blogged about it here. At the time, I thought that I probably would never make another one, since it’s really A LOT of garter stitch, and gets pretty unwieldy at the outer edge.

Back in December, I was showing off my Ravelry catalog of finished projects to Bob (I know, I know, I am super cool) and he LOVED my OpArt. He asked if it would be hard to make a second one. Gotta love non-knitters–even garter stitch impresses them!


Of course I knit a second one. We went to the yarn store to pick colors, and I was a bit surprised when Bob picked the exact same pink and cream color combination I had used originally. I mean, it’s an awesome combination, but a bit unexpected for Bob. On my original blanket I used cheap One Pound yarn by Caron. For Bob’s blanket he sprung for something a little nicer to work with–Berroco Vintage in colorways Watermelon and Buttercream.
That’s the blanket in action (and in really poor lighting.) I followed the pattern as written and knit through the stripe that is 10 garter ridges wide (half-way between the small and large sizes.) Because the pattern calls for DK weight and I was using worsted, I upped my needle size to a US 9. I also used a I-cord bind off rather than a normal bind off to give more stretch and a more polished edge.
I knit on this a lot while I was studying for the Washington bar exam so the garter stitch wasn’t as painful as the first time around (or maybe the pain was just so far outweighed by bar exam pain that it seemed small in comparison.) Still, the last few stripes were a real slog. I may be jinxing myself, but I really hope this is my last OpArt. Great finished product, but not very exciting on the needles.

New blanket just in time

I finished my Op Art.  Truth.  I know it’s been on the needles since forever (June 30, 2009 cast on according to Ravelry.)  Don’t you hate how Ravelry can remind you that you’ve been a complete and utter slacker when it comes to those lingering projects that just won’t finish themselves? LOOK!

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This is supposed to be our last day of sunshine before the winter grey sets in so I pretty much finished right on time as far as taking nice pictures is concerned.  It’s huge, over 5 feet square.  Here it is on the floor with cats for scale (and because I couldn’t get them out of the picture–my “shoo”s mean nothing to them.)

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It’s true what everyone says about blocking this, you have to be highly aggressive with it.  It comes off the needles totally wobbly and not at all square.  Here it is laid out pre-blocking.

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See how it’s all dimple-y and swirly at the corners? No good.  Time for pins and a yardstick.  I started from the center and pulled out one row of corners along the spiral and pinned them out.  Then I pulled out all the corners on the opposite side and pinned them too.  Here it is half pinned.

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Then I did the same thing with the other two sides.  As you can see from the finished pictures, at some point, I had to take a “good enough” attitude toward the whole thing or drive myself crazy trying to make it perfectly square.

I used acrylic yarn (Carron One Pound in colors “off white” and “rose”) so I had to kill rather than block.  After it was all pinned out I grabbed the steam iron and held it about 2 inches over the blanket and gave the thing a good steam.  I could see the yarn physically relax and settle into the pinned position.  It was pretty cool.  It also made the yarn way drapier and much softer.

Warning: if you make this blanket using this yarn, there is not enough to make the larger size.  I ran out halfway between the small and large size–with 9 rows left to go in the stripe I was working on.  Luckily a kind raveler sent me her leftovers and I was able to finish without having to buy a whole new pound of yarn.  Now to snuggle on the couch with some hot tea, my new blanket, and an episode of Star Trek.  I hate being cold, but I love being cozy… winter is a weird season for me.

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Just my luck

Recently, I’ve been cruising right along on several projects.  I’ve got… eleven… current projects and over the past weekend I think I managed to work on 7 of them.  Part of the reason I was able to work on so many was that I kept running out of ^*$# yarn.  First, I decided to work on the market bag I’m making for my mom.

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That’s BYOB by Moria Ravenscroft from the Summer 2008 Knitty.  I’m making it with Knit Picks new cotton yarn Dishie.  It feels like a great yarn for market bags, dish towels, scrubbies, etc. but I would never make something like a garment with it–too stiff, it would never drape.  Soft, but stiff.  The pattern calls for two balls of a yarn that is 207 yards per ball for the main color.  Dishie comes in balls of 190 yards.  As you can see, those extra 34 yards are critical.  All I have left to knit are the handles.  An emergency ball is on the way and hopefully I’ll have the bag done soon.

After that disappointment, I picked up a project I haven’t worked on in quite a while and got pretty close to finishing.

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That’s the Op Art blanket by Melissa Dominguez from the fall 2008 Knitty.  (Clearly 2008 was a good year for Knitty).  I started this when I first moved to Oregon way back in July 2009.  Mostly, I started it as a way to use up the two huge skeins of Carron One Pound I was given by a well meaning family friend.  I figured two POUNDS of yarn would be enough to finish a moderate-sized blanket.  Imagine my extreme frustration when I ran out of yarn 9 rows from the end.  Since the size of the stripes matters, I can’t just stop where I am and bind off.  I could go back to the last whole stripe, but I really wanted it to end on a white stripe… My own weird aesthetic.  That would mean going back a whole strip and a half and would leave me with quite a lot of left over yarn, thus defeating my plan to use up all the yarn with this blanket.

Ravelry to the rescue.  Another kind knitter used this yarn for a project and had about 4 ounces left over.  The yarn is coming to me as we speak.  I love living in the digital age.  I could not function in a world without “the cloud”….. mmm instant gratification, instant information, instant organization.

Had I not run out of yarn on these two projects I probably would have given them each some serious dedicated work and maybe had a few FOs to show for my weekend, but as it is, it was nice to revisit so many of my current projects and get back in touch with why I love them.

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…

WIPs march of shame (part two)

OK, so I completed my Pioneer, and showed it to you last post, taking one WIP out of the list, a very good thing. I have made a deal with myself that for every TWO projects I get off the needles, I can cast on ONE new project. Theoretically, this should help me get all the old projects off the needles because even if I start and finish a new project, I’ll have to finish an old project as well to begin another new project… This is what I tell myself. Because I finished my clapotis and my pioneer, I got to cast on for something new. I chose something quick so that I would be forced to return to the old WIPs… aren’t you proud of me?

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These are Aran Isle Slippers by Jennifer Lang. I made them from Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in the color Calypso Heather. I used just over one 50g ball, so they don’t take much yarn at all. The pattern is a bit fiddly because of all of the picking up stitches and seaming. The Wool of the Andes is pretty fuzzy for plain wool (no mohair) so the cable pattern doesn’t really pop out, but they do keep my feet pretty warm in my cold apartment. They are sized pretty small I think. The women’s size says it fits a 7.5 shoe size, which is what I am, but they are very snug.

That project was finished very quickly, and now I am forced to turn my attention back to the old WIPs. The next-oldest one I have to show you is mind-numbing and may break my will.

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This is my OpArt Blanket and it’s only about 20% finished. It’s done completely in garter stitch and it gets bigger every round until there are 888 stitches in the last round. Right now, it’s taking me about 25 minutes to knit one round… It’s not even made out of good yarn. It’s made of cheap Caron One Pound acrylic that I wanted to use up. I love how this blanket looks, but the inanity of it may push me over the edge. Needless to say, this is not the WIP I am currently working on… More WIP shame to come soon.

Some Actual Knitting

Alright, so now that you’ve been apprised of my new house and my major yarn-related outing it’s probably about time for me to tell you about so actual knitting that I’ve done. First, though I know it doesn’t look like it, I’ve made some progress on my Op Art blanket.

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The last time I showed this to you there was a giant tail of circular needle sticking out because I was magic-looping it on a 60″ needle. Now the entire needle has stitches around it and it’s not even half the total number of stitches. I’ll probably not show you any more pictures of it until I get it off the needle since it will just look like a bigger and bigger wad of knitting. If you really care a lot you can keep up with the progress on the side bar.

Next are a couple of FOs. The first was actually finished in time for me to wear to sock summit, which was very lucky because they’re probably my “funnest” pair of socks yet.

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They are just a basic sock with a short-row heal. I decided to try the short-row heal because it is supposed to be the best kind of heal for striped yarn because it doesn’t screw-up your stripe length like a heal with a gusset does. I don’t much like it but at least I learned a new skill. The yarn is Knit Picks Felici in colorway Coney Island.

Finally, I finished my Ishbel shawl two days ago and it finally finished blocking this morning. It’s made from yarn that someone handspun and sent to me as part of a swap. I managed to make the full large size with the yarn and still have about 15% of the skein left. It’s not made from very soft wool but I can wear it with no problem.

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I never know exactly how to wear shawls but I enjoy making them and they make good gifts so I guess my lack of fashion sense isn’t really a problem. Next post I’ll tell you all about the new house guests.

The Universe is Against Me

Why, you ask, is the Universe against me? Listen up. First of all, I’m a sucker. I will pretty much knit anything for anyone who asks me. A few posts ago we went over the assortment of crazy hats and other things that my brother has asked for and I know that I’ve related the troubles a certain pair of slipper-socks for my dad caused. Well, my father was at it again this week. It started with a seemingly harmless request: “Melanie, can you make me a hat that will keep my ears warm when I go running?” Um, I am a knitter, aren’t I? What could be easier than a hat (OK, a garter stitch scarf, but what else?) So I open up Ravelry and start showing him the thousands of hat patterns that could be his new hat. He picked the third picture down which happened to be Turn A Square by Jared Flood aka Brooklyn Tweed. Cool. No problem. I have some Noro, I have some neutral colored wool… I go to my stash and pull out the Noro (which is total male-friendly colors) and the plain wool and show it to pops. He doesn’t like the Noro, it’s light blues and greens and he wants dark colors. OK, I don’t have any dark Noro, so I ask: “Do you really care if the stripes are variegated?” Of course he does. Me: “Will this at least work for the solid color?” (as I hold up the good plain wool.) Of course not, it’s scratchy. For the record, no it wasn’t. Then dad says, “Can’t I just come with you down to the store and pick out what I like?” Sure, sure, no problem. Only two weeks ago did I swear off buying yarn for the next six months, but sure, get your coat. On the up side, it’s a pretty rocking hat.

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The Noro is Silk Garden in a bunch of gorgeous neutral shades ranging from cream to gold to light grey. The other color is Wave by Filatura Di Crosa which is a really nice Wool/Silk blend. The Wave knits up just a little bit nubbley so it the hat has kind of a rustic feel… Alright, no joke, as I’m sitting here typing this my dad comes in and says: “Melanie, can you do me a favor?” Me (looking at him out of the corner of my eye): “That depends…” Dad: “Can you make me another of those hats so I can give it to my running buddy?” Me: “Same yarn?” Dad: “Yeah, will you need to buy more?” Me: “Yes.” So I set out to write a post about how the universe is against me and obviously against my yarn fast. Here is incontrovertible proof. In the middle of the post, I’m asked to buy more yarn… Luckily I have enough of the Noro left over, I just need more of the Wave. Really Universe? Really?

Also, I’ve been garter-ing away on my Op Art blanket and have made some progress. I thought I was whizzing right along, it kept getting bigger and bigger and even though my logic center told me that it was because the blanket is knit from the center out I thought it would end up being a pretty quick project. So I call Andrew and ask him to do some math for me… If I start with 4 and I add 4 every round and I need to get to 888, how many rounds is that? Answer: 222. OK, sounds like a lot but I’ve already done over 50 rounds so I’m 25% done already. No says Andrew, that is bad math. Because each round gets bigger the first 50 rounds are certainly much shorter than the last 50 rounds. OK, says I, what percentage have I done. Andrew calculates…. 8, EIGHT! that’s it. Universe, I hate you. Also, Andrew calculated that there will be 99,012 stitches in the blanket, and that I’ve done just under 9,000.

Startitis

So even though I’ve got three very good projects on the needles right now, in the past couple of days I’ve started two more and I know that I’ll be starting a sixth (and maybe a seventh and eighth…) before anything comes off the needles. I blame the fact that I just recently went through my entire stash and cataloged everything. Normally I keep my stash secreted away in various hiding places (and various states) so that I’m never actually confronted with everything that I have. (This is probably the reason I have so much…) The yarn was calling me in so many directions that I had to begin just a few more things… The first is a pair of basic socks. I decided that I needed to have some car-ride knitting since when I’m in New Mexico I do quite a bit of ridding and almost no driving and every car ride is at least twenty minutes long. All of this has been done away from home, riding in the car or in spare minutes waiting for various errands.

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I’m just following the Sock Recipe pattern from the Yarn Harlot’s book Knitting Rules. The yarn is Knit Picks Felici in Coney Island which is a colorway they no longer make. I love how bright and happy the socks are and every three to four rows I get to knit with a new bright happy color.

The other thing I started is a blanket. This may sound weird since the temperature has been in the 90s for most of the time that I’ve been down here in New Mexico, but the fact that in two short weeks I’ll be hunting for my first apartment has me majorly home-oriented right now. I keep thinking of how I’m always cold in the winter and how I’ll have to keep the heat low because of my poor-law-student budget so I have recently been attracted to a lot of blanket patterns. I resisted the urge to cast on a wool blanket (barely) and settled on acrylic. Not exactly luxury, I know, but it pretty “good” acrylic (it will definitely serve the purpose of wrapping around my legs in the winter anyway.) I’m following the pattern Op Art from Knitty. The pattern makes a largish baby blanket, but I’m hoping that by knitting it with bigger yarn and bigger needles I’ll get a smallish adult sized blanket. It’s knit from the center out, so right now it feels like I’m flying along. (I only have about 130 stitches.)

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In the end there will be 888 stitches (I know that sounds like a number I just pulled out thin air but it’s not a exaggeration!) The yarn is Carron One Pound in Rose and Off White (creative huh?). I had these two balls in my stash from way way back. I think one of the big box store had it on sale for $3 a ball so I bought these two on impulse and they’ve been sitting around ever since. I love this patter because it’s mindless; long rows of knit or purl with four increases thrown in per round. I’m using it to catch up on all the TV and movie watching I missed during the school year.