Friday, August 29, 2008

Special Package

Yay! I got a special package in the mail today!!! No, not the yarn that I ordered two weeks ago and have been waiting for ever since, even though I called the online shop twice and they kept assuring me that it would be delivered this past Monday, then that it would be delivered on Wednesday...*sigh*. I wish I had a decent LYS so I could stop ordering things online from questionable operations, even if their prices are good.

No, what I got instead was my Amazon order! Two new knitting books for me!!! I'm so happy to get these books that even the sound of my neighbor yelling at his wife over the specificity of the language she uses in her text messages can't dampen my enjoyment. :) (Seriously--there are more important things to pick a fight over than whether you say, "The kid wants to go to the park" or, "I'm taking the kid to the park". And don't sit in the passenger seat of the car yelling at your wife while she's holding a sleeping baby, dragging around a diaper bag and a toddler, and then make her load everything into the car and play chauffer too. I knew there was something wrong with this guy.)

Anyway...the first book, Custom Knits, is one I have been so super excited for. Knit and Tonic was one of the first knitting blogs I ever read, and I love Wendy Bernard's designs. Just from flipping through the book, I see lots of super cute patterns that I really want to make. But it's more than just a pattern book--she gives all kind of information about how to tailor each pattern to fit your style. She even gives at least two versions for every pattern! Plus, there is a whole section on top-down techniques, changing specific aspects of a pattern (neckline, sleeves, etc), and how to design things yourself. This book is choc full of cuteness and information. It almost makes me want to design my own sweater! Too bad I didn't have this book when I was making the sleeves for my B-Side. She shows how to do sleeve cap shaping using short rows so you can do everything top-down. I'm sure this book will get a lot of play. Love!

The second book, Victorian Lace Today, is one I have been wanting for a while now. I remember seeing it at a LYS in Pittsburgh when it first came out and thinking that everything in it was really beautiful. It features little segments on some of the leading lace designers/publishers of the Victorian Era and then has beautifully-photographed patterns for each section. I can't believe how many there are! I have been mad at myself for only buying 2 skeins each of 3 different beautiful Malabrigo lace colors last spring because most of the lace patterns I see call for around 1200 yards (and I only have 940). But I can find several projects in this book to make with them, so I'm much happier now. :)

More online orders are on the way, so stay tuned for more posts about yummy surprises!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sleeve Doctor

OK, so blogging about the stack of sweaters that needed final touches got me off my ass and over to the almost-FO pile. I sewed buttons on my Auburn Camp Shirt, but will do an FO post once I get The Brain to take some pictures. For now, I will tell you about the awful time I had finishing my B-Side.

Remember that post (you know, like 3 days ago) in which I laid out my problems finding enough yarn to finish this sweater? Well, I finally picked it up again yesterday to sew the sleeves in but I realized that I had no matching DK yarn to use for the seams. I still have all those partial balls of Knit Picks Merino Style that I used for the Wild Stripes Baby Blanket, so I picked the color that best matched my sweater and fell to it. This blanket is the same one I use for my banner, so you can see that finding a close match for a deep eggplant color wasn't going to happen.

I sat down and got one sleeve stitched in, and found a problem. Um...the sleeve caps were a bit too big for the armholes. So big that I had a princess pouf look going on that was not going to be solved by blocking it. Before I put the second sleeve in, I ripped out about two and a half inches off the top of the sleeve cap, bound it off and then sewed it in.

This is where some rudimentary knowledge of sleeve cap shaping would have helped. It turns out there's a reason that sleeve caps are shaped the way they are, with all those calculated sloping decreases and stuff. Those decreases actually serve a purpose! Simply halting the knitting when you think your cap is big enough, and then binding off in a straight line, will not do anything for you. You actually need to get rid of all that extra fabric or you will end up guessed it: princess poufs on the front and back of your arms, just not on top! I didn't take a picture of that one because it was too depressing.

Next step: I ripped out both arms, frogged one down to the beginning of the sleeve cap, and rejiggered the required decreases to fit into the necessary length. Nice! Then I repeated the process for the other sleeve, sewed both sleeves back in, gave the whole thing a bath, and now my sweater is lounging on the floor, drying lazily and waiting for some buttons.

One last problem though: it seems to have lengthened considerably since it took a bath. It is easily 3 or 4 inches longer in both the body and the arms than I knit it (according to my notes). I mean, I'm 5'10" so everything I knit has to be lengthened, but...I actually laid down on my wet sweater (is this an acceptable measurement technique?) and I swear the thing covers half my butt. Not quite what I had in mind for a streamlined, comfy cardi! Hopefully my highly scientific and perfectly accurate measuring system is wrong and it will fit me nicely. Otherwise, I went through all that yarn drama for nothing!

P.S. I did straighten out the sweater some more after I took that picture. :)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

No Knitting News...How About Some Book Reviews!

Hey, that rhymes!

So, I don't have anything exciting to report about my knitting, except that last night I finished up a sock (I know! I don't even knit socks!) that I had been making for The Brain out of some Knit Picks Essential Tweed I bought over two years ago for just that purpose. I knitted them toe up and they fit him perfectly the whole way through...until I bound them off. He can't get them over his heel. If anyone can tell me what kind of bind-off you're supposed to do on the tops of socks, it would save me a hunt through all the magazine articles and blog entries I have never paid attention to before because, excuse me, but I DON'T KNIT SOCKS!

So...I have nothing else to talk about...except for how freekin' hot the sun is down in California! I'm a Minneapolis girl, and I know as well as any other Minnesotan that it gets so hot and humid up there you feel as though everyone might as well walk around in towels because it is like living in a sauna. (We're talking high 80s and 90s all summer with, like, 99% humidity.) Up in Minnesota when it gets down to 75 degrees everyone breathes a sigh of relief and stops breaking into a sweat just reaching for the remote. But down here in SoCal, that sun is HOT! It was 75 degrees this afternoon and I wouldn't even consider putting on pants. I had a job interview today that was only a mile away from my house and I had to leave home half an hour ahead of time just so I could walk as slowly as possible so I wouldn't be a hot, sweaty, wobbly mess by the time I got there. The trick seems to be to keep moving. If you stand still, you will fry up on the sidewalk. Just a little tip from me to you.

All right, on to the book reviews. These are books that I picked up at Interweave's hurt book sale a while back. Without further ado (and in no particular order):

Knit So Fine: Designs with Skinny Yarn
This book spent a lot of time (25 pages) talking about the advantages of knitting with "skinny" (DK or lighter) yarns. None of their arguments are particularly revelatory (better fit, better drape, less expensive overall), but I didn't get the book for the information so that was OK. And at least they didn't include a chapter on how to knit, although they did spend some time talking about the differences in types of knitting needles. Yawn! I got the book because I was hoping there would be some cute patterns in it. There are a couple (like the Kimono Top and the Anemone Beret), but most of the patterns are just too plain for me to get excited about at the moment.
Verdict: Meh. None of the patterns jump out at me and my queue is so long already that I doubt I'll be knitting anything from this book.

Wrap Style
This is a book that I have been meaning to pick up for a while. I flip through it whenever I'm in a bookstore, but it has never been a book that I needed to have, so I never bothered to buy it. As I sit here writing about it, I'm kind of wondering why I ended up buying it at all, since I don't wear shawls or wraps or capelets or anything of the kind. I think maybe I fell prey to the "I can totally see myself tossing that over my shoulders as I head out to drinks with friends!" fantasy. Except that my go-to outer garment is my denim jacket, and more importantly: I don't know a single soul in San Diego, so going out for drinks with friends really is a fantasy!

But pathetic personal revelations aside, about the only thing I can seriously see myself making from this book is Twisty Turns, the Norah Gaughan capelet thingy, but that would probably only happen if I ran out of other things to knit. As in: not likely.
Verdict: Another meh. The stuff in here is nice and I can imagine them looking cute on other people, just not on me.

Knitting Little Luxuries
Now here is a book that I have walked past at the bookstore several times and just left on the shelf. Why? Well, I primarily enjoy knitting sweaters, and even though I might knit the occassional scarf, a book full of little things to knit hadn't really appealed to me. (I do have to say though, that I think the purse on the front is super cute.) It turns out that there are some cute things in this book that I can see myself making: The Cecily Beanie with all those buttons, the aforementioned Daphne Purse, the Dixie Pillow, the Alicia Tabard (although something about it doesn't quite sit right with me...I would have to tweak it somehow), the Diane Cardigan, and the quirky Emma Hat. Wow. That's a lot of little projects! I will have to keep this book in mind the next time I'm in the mood for something small.
Verdict: It's a keeper. Now I have to get over my tendency to forget all about the books I have on my shelf and fall for the latest cute little thing I see online.

No Sheep For You
I remember seeing this book when it first came out and thinking, "Oh, those poor people with sensitivities to wool. At least they have an obscure little book just for them!" Um...yeah. May I remind you that I had just started knitting and had maybe two pillow covers and half a sweater body under my belt? I am so glad I finally got this book and read through it! It is packed with information about all the different plant and man-made fibers out there: how to use them and what to expect. For someone like me who tends to focus mainly on the wool/alpaca/silk side of things, it was a welcome education. And then there are patterns! I particularly like the Eileen tank top and the Bespoke cotton/linen coat. The Cables and Os cardi is cute, too. And even though I would probably substitute animal fibers for them if I made them, the patterns do show you the versatility of plant fibers and how nice they can look in the right project.
Verdict: A definite keeper for all of the valuable information. Some cute patterns.

I have made more knitting acquisitions in the past couple of weeks, but I am still waiting for them to get shipped to me. I will (try to) keep you updated as fun things arrived. And I will also (try to) get all those projects blocked and buttoned so I can get some FO action shots up here!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Just Do It

You know what? There should be a name for that thing knitters get where they finish up a project except for the tiniest little final detail (blocking? buttons?), and then let it sit for weeks (months? years?) on end. See this?

This is a pile of sweaters (whole sweaters!) that just need some tiny little insignificant detail to be completed before they're ready to be worn. Most of them just need to be blocked...I don't even have to be around for that! I can just get them wet, spread them out, and walk away!

OK, in all fairness, three of them need buttons and I just picked those up this weekend.

One of them needs sleeves sewn in. Yes, I am finished knitting my beloved B-Side and all I have to do is sew in the sleeves, block it, and stitch on some cute buttons. I have had some issues with that sweater though, so I'm a little scared to touch it.

I don't know if you remember this post, in which I was still excited about knitting the sweater but had to make adjustments to the sleeve size. The new sleeves worked out until...I ran out of yarn!!! I still had to knit the button bands and the shawl collar, but I had already run through 13 balls of is this possible?!?

I called up the store where I originally bought the yarn, and they said they had two balls left in my color, but they weren't the same dyelot. Since I had managed to finish up the sleeves by unraveling my gauge swatch, I figured it wouldn't be too bad if the color on the button band and collar were slightly different.

I waited patiently for the yarn to be sent to me, but when it got was the wrong color entirely! I called up the yarn shop again, they said they would put the proper color in the mail and do an exchange on their end when I mailed the yarn back to them. I waited patiently for my new yarn to arrive. When it did, it was the wrong yarn!!! They sent me the worsted-weight version, not the DK-weight that I had VERY SPECIFICALLY requested (and which they had correctly entered on the receipt, I might add). Since I had not been all that impressed with this yarn store in the past, I didn't even bother to call them up a third time. I just went up 2 needle sizes and knit the button band and collar in a different size yarn. Unfortunately, I ran out of yarn (again!!!) on the collar, so it is only half as long as it should be. *sigh* I will just have to live with it, I guess.

I have so much more to share, including some book reviews, but I can't spill it all out at once or else this post will be a million miles long. I'll try to post more often instead. You would think that an unemployed knitter would have more time to write blogs, but it's amazing how many other things I can get up to (knitting, anyone?) instead. I am going in for a second job interview at a very fun place tomorrow, so I may not be unemployed for much longer. :)

Friday, August 1, 2008


Check it out. Seriously. I love it. It's awesome. Yay!

I have been knitting, but I have a cold and my head is all wonky. I'll put up a real post sometime this weekend. :)