Friends, babies and knitting - three of my favorite things. Add to that some truly spectacularly delicious bread and some of the best french toast ever and the only thing missing from the weekend was quality time with my husband. Luckily that's all the solo travel for a few weeks (I also had a business trip on Thursday and Friday).
Other good things about the weekend - my husband taking my dad fishing while I was gone, very little traffic during the drive to and from the Philly area, and an absolutely gorgeous spring day on Sunday.
And of course there was the modelling of my first ever sweater by its ever adorable recipient, six month old Molly.
I have to admit that as I got ready to photograph and wrap the sweater and hat, I felt a pang of separation anxiety. I was letting my first born out into the world! Did I have to?!!!! But I toughened up (borrowed my dad's tripod for the photoshoot and it worked out well) and there was definite payback in seeing the items worn.
Children's Cotton Hat from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. I can't remember if I cast on the number of stitches in the pattern or made adjustments for guage. I think I just followed the pattern. And yes, there is an error in the pattern that creates one extra hole for the i-cord, as noted in the blue blog. I knit the baby size.
I cast on so I could start the hat at the family St. Patrick's Day gathering, knit much of it during a business trip, then realized I had decreased too fast due to a different row gauge to the pattern, so ripped out the decreasing part and knit it again. I finished it up out in Montauk over our anniversary weekend.
In progress shots:
The finished object:
I had only intended to knit the hat, but I feel so in love with the yarn that I decided to go for a matching sweater.
After some research I settled on this pattern not so much because it was free, but because I was intrigued by the fact that it was knit in one piece with no seaming. It helped that it was a free pattern as I could read it and feel confident that I could follow it.
I loved knitting this cardigan. It was so fun and exciting and cute! And fast - a definite advantage with baby clothing. I started knitting it shortly after I finished the hat, knit some of it at my first knitting group, and by the next meeting two weeks later was already basically done and onto my next project.
I got the buttons from M&J Trimming on a quick lunchtime trip. I actually saw the buttons (or something very similar) on a quick look on the website, and after considering various other options, decided that my initial instinct had been just right. They are not the most practical of buttons, but hey, this is a handwash baby item so this is really more about cuteness than practicality! (I did give Melissa a bottle of soak along with the knitted items to try and make up for it.)
I'm still on a bit of a high from the successful completion of this project and general all round baby cuteness.
No I didn't knit these - I picked them up greatly discounted at a going out of business sale at a quirky little shop in Pennsylvania! It seemed a little strange to buy knitted items, but I just couldn't resist, especially not at 75% off! Besides, as my friend Kymm pointed out, I can always copy the pattern and knit it for others...
The beautiful backyard is courtesy of our friends Melissa and Greg, who we visited for the weekend. More on that, and the successful delivery of Molly's cardigan and hat, later.
I am officially a knitting nerd - I have created a yarn database! It probably would not even have occurred to me to do so were it not for hearing Nicole and Jenny talk about theirs on Episode 8 of Stash & Burn, but I must admit to being more comfortable with excel than your average person. I didn't do anything fancy, though. For now, I'm recording date of purchase, place of purchase, manufacturer, style, color, cost/skein, yards/skein, skeins unused/used, project, and who it's for. I suppose I might want to record the weight and fiber content but right now I can't really bothered.
Anyway, here are some interesting facts:
- skeins purchased: 28
- skeins knit: 15.9
- yards purchased: 3903
- yards knit: 2078
- $ spent on yarn (not including shipping): $320.40
- knitting since: 1/21/07
In other news, Molly's Cardigan is DONE! At the recommendation of someone from knitting group, I went to M&J Trimming. It was during lunch and I had to get back to the office for a meeting so I didn't have much time, which was probably good as it forced me to make a decision quickly. I could easily have spent hours in search of the perfect button, but as it is, I am very happy with my choice.
Two articles from Knitty were helpful in finishing the cardigan. This one talks about picking up stitches along a straight edge, and the follow-up article talks about picking up stitches along a curved edge.
I'm going to hold off on posting final photos until I have given the gift at the end of the month, but here is a teaser from before it was quite finished:
There are few things more peaceful than a child sleeping. We had our eight year old nephew over for the weekend, and on Sunday morning we were both up early and he was still dead asleep. It was a beautiful moment, him upstairs sleeping, my husband relaxing on the couch with a fresh cup of coffee and the Sunday papers. It added an extra layer of peace.
Another beautiful moment, althought not as quiet, was when I took our two year old niece outside the restaurant after dinner to burn off some steam. We ran. First we circled the giant column just outside the restaurant. Around and around and around and around, her little hand clutching mine and her tiny feet pattering fast. Then she wanted to take off down the sidewalk in front of some neighboring stores and didn't want to hold my hand any more. Insisting on anything to a two year old is a good way to lead to a tantrum, so I let her run free, running by her side, anxiously poised to react to any early signs of an eminent tumble. She did fine. It's funny, as adults we run with purpose, on a treadmill or along a particular route. Kids just run willy nilly, back and forth, wherever they feel like.
I love two year olds. They are starting to be independent and their personalities are becoming evident, yet they're not quite "of the world" and all of its practicalities and conventions. Emotions are right there on the surface - a tiny thing can bring about ecstatic joy and giggles (hiding your head under your sweater) or tragic tears and wails of doom (touching one of her animal toys at the wrong moment). Life is lived fully, drama by drama, emotion by emotion.
I met Kymm at The Point Knitting Cafe for lunch and yarn browsing. I wish I had a place like this near my home or office - I would hang out there all the time. The quiche I had (thanks Kymm!) was excellent and, having not knit for over a year, Kymm bought needles and yarn and cast on right there! Now if I can only get her podcasting again...
I will definitely go back. They seemed to have a wider range of different kinds of yarn than Purl, but not the immense range of colors, so Purl is still, for me, the ultimate drool center of the knitting universe (at least out of the three stores I've been to so far!) But you can't really hang out at Purl.
I resisted buying any yarn and they didn't have the needles I wanted, so we stopped by Purl too and I got 40" Addis in size 5 for Molly's cardigan, speaking of which...
I finished the bulk of the body last week, but slipped the stitches onto yarn as I didn't have the 5s to do the garter edge. That's a good trick for freeing up needles from works in progress.
I knit the first sleeve over the weekend (immediately putting into practice what I just learned about SSK and K2TOG with a little help from here). The photos were taken this morning just before I switched to the 5s for the garter edge.
Lastly, a couple of links. This yarn looks gorgeous but what is more intriguing is the rave review of it...
The Entrelac Socks from the latest Interweave Knits also look intriguing, but I'm not sure what shoes I would wear them with. And am I too old?
Also, I may have been living under a rock because I didn't know you could search blogs only eg at http://blogsearch.google.com or http://www.technorati.com or I’m sure many other places. Very handy, especially for things like searching for blog entries about particular knitting patterns! I added the technorati widget to the sidebar so you can, amongst other things, search this blog.
So, uh, yeah, WOW! In researching all the links for my massive knitting fantasy life entry (massive only in the amount of time I spent chasing links) (ok, it ended up relatively massive in length too!) I discovered that, well, first of all, if you design a pattern you should give it a weird name to aid in google and flickr searches, but secondly, if you're going to knit something remotely descript, search online for it first to see pictures and get tips.
I experienced this first hand with... Molly's cardigan!
So yeah, after finishing the hat, I knew I had to keep knitting with the yarn (ok, I'll tell you what it is, it's Manos del UruguayCotton Stria in Coral 222 - there is an indepth review of the yarn here). Did I mention that I love this yarn?! I feel like I'm knitting a beautiful frothy summer dessert.
Anyway, I decided a cardigan would be the thing, and after a little (but in retrospect not much) searching online, I had pretty much settled on the Cashsoft Baby DK Chick Cardigan. Then I came across this project in the Stash and Burn flickr pool and was intrigued to find that the pattern was a) free and b) knit in one piece (and by the way, how cute is this hat from Lu's latest post? Pretty pretty yarn!). And then I did more research on the Cashsoft pattern and read that it required a lot of finishing. I'm not sure if that means it is not knit in one piece (does finishing refer only to seaming or to everything?) but I decided that I may as well go with the Jimmy Bean pattern.
So far, it's been a breeze! I do wish I had taken photos prior to splitting for the sleeves though. I didn't think it would transform quite the way it did but it was very exciting! Now I'm onto a long stretch of stockinette for the main body of the piece which means I can kind of relax. Prior to splitting I was impatient to see how it was going to come out so I was knitting a litle manically..
I did go a little crazy with the photos, especially after the sun came up and I got some natural light. Here are a few:
The whole set is here (although I edited out a great deal). I've been trying to mess with the color balancing but because they're taken under varying lighting conditions it's tough (and frustrating).
One thing I'm already finding about knitting is that it's so enjoyable that a knitted gift is really a gift for me, even if I give away the end result. The only thing is it's so addictive that some other things seem to have fallen off my schedule, namely reading the paper and working out. This is not a good long term situation! In fact, I should go read the paper right now!
PS Look what I found from the Fondle My Sweaters link - instructions on how to make custom labels!
I've only been knitting for, what, a couple of months? So I haven't yet had the chance to build up much of a stash, or a backlog of unfinished projects. Despite earlier tendencies (eg greeting cards, sketch books, art supplies, books) I'm really more of a packrat (holds onto things that I've used) rather than a stasher (hordes things that I haven't yet used). I may totally eat my words but right now I'm tending more towards focusing on a few or even just one project at a time and only buying yarn for specific projects that I am going to knit in the near future. At least right now I think it's because I am a new knitter and am still just figuring things out, and will get too overwhelmed if I take on too many things at once. Plus I'm forced to multi-task so much at work it's nice to just focus on one thing until it's done. (Ok, you experienced knitters can stop laughing now.)
Mind you, I am finding finishing to be a bit of a drag so that's where a lot of overlap in projects has taken place so far. In fact, last night it was kind of good that I didn't have a chance to buy more yarn for a project I'm in the middle of because I was forced to catch up on some finishing. I can also see that working on a big project along side some quicker ones could work for me.
Where things are starting to pile up is in my fantasy knitting life.
Let's look at where I am right now first.
The Aurora set is almost done. I finally sewed up the second mitten last night and I just have to decide on the length of the scarf and complete that (I must say I can see why my mother-in-law has about six scarves basically done but still on the needles!) I also want to knit an i-cord to join the mittens so they can be threaded through a coat otherwise they will get lost in 3 seconds flat.
I also wove in the ends for the Yankees scarf and am thinking perhaps no tassles. I still have to figure out what I'm doing with the loose loops on the hat and knit one more handwarmer.
However, my 40" circulars are taken up with a new project. Yes, I am knitting a matching cardigan to go with Molly's hat! I was going to keep it a surprise, but I think I'm going to be too excited about the progress of my first "sweater" and will want to share.
Uniscarfity beckons but I am saving it for later right now as I get through the more functional (ie for a reason) knitting of right now. I'm also thinking of knitting myself up a quick hat and some handwarmers out of the rest of the white wool from the Yankees set. One of the things I'm looking forward to about knitting is making myself some hats as I can never find hats I like, not since I stupidly lost the Best Hat Ever, given to me by my husband and left in a taxi. The one hat that isn't completely dorky was very expensive and is also rather bulky. However, I think it may already be too warm for hats. I would also like to knit a matching silk garden hat and handwarmers (these are in Noro Kureyon, not Silk Garden, but are similar).
Other than that, the field is wide open and I'm not sure what I'll work on next.
Here are some of the things that have caught my eye:
Ombre Alpaca Blanket: the sample from the book is at Purl and it is TO DIE FOR. It is so soft and the colors are gorgeous. I fantasize about knitting this all the time, and tried out the stitch pattern in a Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted swatch. This is one I'm looking forward to but saving probably for next fall as it would be uncomfortable to knit in the summer once you get going. (See it here in different colors.)
Men's Zipped Raglan: my husband looks really good in brown. When we first met, he used to bug me about knitting him a sweater, even though I didn't knit! I guess he was just being funny, or it was his way of asking for attention (he had plenty of other more direct ways too). Now, I was thinking this may be my first full-sized sweater, but in reading that and other blog posts, I think I'll have to do a bit more research before deciding.
Cupcakes: ok I'm not sure what one would do with a knitted cupcake but oh! so! cute! The cupcakes were a big factor for me in buying this book. Also very cute here, here, here and here to list but a few (that last link shows the photo from the book). Ok looking at all these cupcakes makes me think maybe I should knit one up quick real soon... (for more One Skein cupcakes try here or here for knitted cupcakes in general.)
Bathmat: this is actually a crochet project but I am strangely drawn to it
By the way, there is even a One Skein Knit-Along Blog so you can check out different people's projects from the book there too (some of the links above are from there).
Checkmate Drop St. Pullover: this was the first pattern I found online that appealed to me, found after my first yarn purchase. The model has a bit of a weird expression on her face but I still like the top. The bag on the right here is also cute.
Fern: this was another early pattern I found, following some recommendations from Cast-On. I don't know that I would buy a sweater like this but it does look beautiful and very interesting to knit. Not too many people seem to have knitted this on line, but Wendy of Wendy Knits did - she started here and finished here (check all the posts in between for in progress shots).
Berry Tree would be a good alternate as I could give it as a gift (my niece would look adorable in it).
Rogue: also a Cast-On mention (flickr search here)
Clapotis: kind of an online classic at this point as far as I can tell, but so pretty! (tons of photos here)
Lady Eleanor from Scarf Style: also a popular online knit but also pretty! (many absolutely gorgeous photos here)
Lizard Ridge: a lot of people are knitting this too - I love all the photos on flickr in all the different colors and I particularly love the how it looks pre-blocking ie when it is still three dimensional. I'm actually thinking of making a wall hanging out of it and leaving it three-dimensional.
(Yes, I'm getting lazy with my link research for these really popular patterns there are too many blog links to choose from!)
This entree into the world of online knitting lead to general searching and browsing:
Cookie A Sock Collection: eventually I'd like to get onto socks. I haven't looked much into patterns but these stuck out for me.
India Woven Lace Cardigan: another ribbon yarn pattern - this one is free and oooh, this one is too... not really my style but it looks gorgeous. Actually, there are quite a few free patterns here. This and this are cute too.
And finally, aren't these just the most adorable booties you ever did see? (Roll-Top Bootees from 50 Baby Bootees to Knit.) I love that yarn. I may use it to knit a scarf already requested by a friend. Of course, I have tons of friends to knit gifts for now...
I must say, I'm a little more reticent about knitting myself a sweater or a top as I usually like to try things on first - I have never bought clothing online aside from stuff like underwear, slippers etc. However, I read or heard a tip somewhere that you should pick a favorite top you already own and use that as a basis for measurements and sizing, and I have a few in mind that I could use.
This entry ended up taking me three days to put together, because of all the link research! In retrospect, it was maybe too much to try and put in one entry (all those links made me dizzy!) but now I'm caught up I can post patterns as I find them and be able to more thoroughly find all the best links.
I'll have to try and take better photos but for now these will do... the first handwarmer!
I knit these a little small as they are for an eight year old but I have to say they are so cute and comfy and snug (thanks to the 2x2 ribbing) that I've kind of fallen in love with them and may need to knit myself a pair very very soon! Even my husband was kind of jealous so both his and my scarves may get other matching items before long.
I also finished knitting Molly's hat and it is very very cute, if I say so myself. I'm definitely not done knitting with this yarn. The magic loop worked great for the decreases by the way, and I used the same technique for the handwarmer which saved me from buying the recommended two 8" circular needles.
I just have to say, I love magic loop knitting and I love the yarn I am knitting with. Love! When I am not knitting it, I am fantasizing about knitting it... in fact, I'm not doing my usual frantic knitting because I want to savor it... mmmm. It's kind of like gourmet knitting...
The trouble is that, aside from the snow dump we just had, well, winter is pretty much over and excited as I am for spring to be here, am I going to give these gifts only to have them sit in a closet for the next eight months? Or should I keep them in my closet until then?
Also, the scarf is a plain 2x2 rib and a little monotonous to knit. I mean, so far, I've tried to give myself a new challenge with every piece I've knit but the plain simple sporty eight year old boy look that I wanted for the scarf overruled that. Besides, the hat was challenging and new.
But the real problem is that today my husband's family are having a big St. Patrick's Day get together and I wanted to bring something to knit, especially as I have pretty much lost my voice (combination of sickness and too much talking on my birthday), but I don't want to be knitting gifts that I am giving to people who are present because a) it ruins the surprise and b) it makes those who are not being knitted for jealous.
So, even though I have so far been more of a "one project at a time" kind of knitter, I have started a third project!
Now I realize that Molly is going to be one of the most hatted babies around but I couldn't resist a cute pattern and a gorgeous yarn, all of which will remain super secret until the gift is completed and given, except to say that I am trying a new technique called "the magic loop" whereby you can knit a smaller circumference item in the round using one long circular needle (the same site also has a good tip for a clean join a little way down this page - I was wondering about that when I knit the Yankees hat). It was a little hairy to start with, especially because with the yarn I'm using, you can't really see the stitches so easily, but now that I'm eight or nine rows in, it's coming along nicely, and I definitely recommend this technique.
And how did I end up knitting this way, you might wonder? Well, it wasn't really by choice, but Purl was out of the Addi Turbo's I wanted (12" US #7) and another customer in the store said "what about the magic loop." Honestly, I didn't even realize she was talking to me at first! But the sales assistant concurred and both said it should be easy enough to find out about how to do it on the internet (by the way, there are also some handy video clips although while actually knitting I found it easier to follow the instructions that were written with photos).
Anyway, I really like this method (I'm using 40" US #7 needles) because a) it means you really only have to buy 40" circulars to knit any size hat, mitten or glove and b) you can stay on the same needles as you decrease rather than having to switch to double pointed needles which I found to be rather awkward when I was knitting the Yankees hat. Also, I like the 40" circulars better than the smaller ones because you get longer straight parts to hold onto. I found I didn't really like the short straight parts of the 16" circulars - they kind of stressed me out a bit.
So that's what I bought last week - one skein of super secret yarn for Molly's hat, 40" US #7 Addi Turbos, and also another skein of Shepherd's Worsted in "jeans" to complete the Yankees set, and single pointed Crystal Palace Bamboo needles in US #5 and #6 to flesh out my growing set of needles and in preparation for Uniscarfity.