Monday, March 30, 2009

I Just Flew In From New York...

...and boy are my arms tired!

No, I didn't go anywhere, but I was thinking about that joke earlier as I was working out. I'm embarrassed to admit that I had to have that joke explained to me the first time I heard it...but I was just a child, so don't jump to conclusions about my intelligence. I am an intellectual GIANT, I swear.

Haha. :-P

Thank you to those of you who indulged me and my rant in the last post. I was feeling a little bad about it, but the reality is that nothing I said is untrue, so I'll let it be. I have more to say on the matter, but I stuck it at the end of the post so you can find it there if you're interested. If not, fair enough: read on.

In actual knitting content: Look! Lots of birds! I finished the body up to the armholes on Saturday and started the first sleeve yesterday. I am pleasantly surprised by how quickly this is moving. I'm happy about that because I'm expecting the first Year of Lace shipment at the end of the week (can't. wait.) and I don't want this to fall by the wayside. I'm also excited to have it finished in time to wear in the skin-boiling weather this summer. (Kidding! This thing is a long-sleeved wool sweater. In San Diego. Yes, I am a huge dork.)

I was also the excited recipient this morning of the first yarn I earned from J. Knits. I'm not lying (or getting paid) when I tell you that they have some very lovely yarn. Plus, they have been super cool to work with, and I can't stress enough how fantastic that has been. First up: I ordered two skeins of their Lace-a-licious 100% alpaca lace yarn in the Minneapolis and Vermont colorways. I was expecting the Minneapolis color to be a darker, murkier teal like it is on their website, but it is a deep and vibrant teal instead. Not exactly my color, but since I never end up keeping any of the lace I knit (again, I am a huge dork), I don't mind too much.

I also got two skeins of their Superwash Me - Light Sock yarn in the Michigan and AC-136 colorways. I ordered these specifically to make Tempest, but I have to admit that I am disappointed with the AC-136. The color photo on their website makes it look like it has variegated grays along with the purples. But the skein I got has no grays at all, and instead looks like a flat natural color. The two do not go together at all, especially since the Michigan is less variegated than I was expecting (but still quite beautiful--I like it a lot).

So now I'm left with a conundrum, and maybe an opportunity? I like the yarn itself. I like the black skein. I want the purple/natural skein to work with it. Dare I overdye the skein? I have never dyed yarn before, so this would take a little experimenting. If I ordered some black dye and a skein of bare yarn (for practice) from Knit Picks, would I be able to acheive the desired results? I know the purple would get darker too, but I'm fine with that. I would hate to have this purple skein sitting around because it is very nice yarn and I can't imagine what else I would do with it. I'm not a huge variegated fan and I don't knit socks. So...any opinions? Pointers? Leann, you dye lovely stuff: do you have any expertise to offer me?

Wow, this post is much longer than I expected it to be. Sorry for that, and thanks for sticking with it! :)

The Rant (cont'd)

If I have to admit it, I am a bit bitter about the job situation at present. Every couple of months, a job comes along for which I match the requirements perfectly, would fit in line with my career goals, and which sounds interesting to me. I apply, but then I never hear anything. I was hoping to hear last Friday about a job that I am well-suited for, but Friday came and went and today came and went, and I never heard anything. I'm actually toying with the idea of putting my money where my mouth is and opening my own online yarn shop, since I seem to have some pretty strong ideas about how things should be run! ;-) (Any and all thoughts about that crazy idea are appreciated.)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Magazine Review

After searching high and low for months, and pestering the staff of two local B&N stores, I was finally able to get my mitts on a copy of the latest issue of The Knitter. I missed the first issue, since even though the B&N shops had it in their system, and should have had it on their shelves, they never did. But they also only have 3 issues at a time, so in all likelihood they disappeared before I got there.

But today I was crafty: I called ahead and the woman said they had one copy left, but that she was not allowed to hold it for me. She did, however, hide it behind several copies of a sewing magazine on an adjacent shelf and I was able to find it, no problem. Now, normally a $13 price tag would make me hesitate, but I have only heard good things about the magazine from various online sources (until, of course, I got home with my magazine yesterday and read this post), and I liked the preview photos they had up from the first issue. And if this is truly the magazine for experienced knitters, then it's worth checking out, right? Besides, it is a large magazine printed on heavy, glossy, high-quality paper. From my initial glance-through, it seemed well laid out, with some OK patterns (that would hopefully become super cute! when I spent more time looking through them at home).

Sadly, the cringe-worthy design on the cover is pretty indicative of what I found inside, too. There are only 13(!) patterns in the issue, and EIGHT of them have been published elsewhere, in many cases several years ago. For this price, and with re-purposed patterns, I would have expected some earth-shattering articles too. As you can probably guess, those were non-existent as well. There was some paltry "article" about two-handed fair isle knitting, suited more for a beginner than something I would expect to find in a magazine aimed at the experienced knitter. There was also some blurb about favorite new yarns (which I don't pay much attention to because they're really advertisements in disguise), and favorite novels (wtf?).

Even though I used a gift card from my birthday last month, I'm still annoyed that I paid full price for this magazine, instead of spending my money on the issue of Yarn Forward with the cute tee pattern that I like. I have never read Yarn Forward, so I can't speak to its quality quite yet. (With an $11 price tag, I have always hesitated before.) But I like that they are starting to publish online. It makes the issues easier to get (no more calling a store a million times and having the staff member hide the magazine for me!), and you can order back issues cheaply and easily as well. The digital store doesn't quite seem to be working yet, but I will likely purchase Issue 11 once I get the chance.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Proof That I'm Still Here

And still knitting!

I finished up those ginormous leg warmers for my younger brother, and they were received with much delight and frivolity, as evidenced by his Facebook album dedicated entirely to all the subtle sides of handknit legwarmers. I included just a sampling here. I had so much yarn left over from the legwarmers that I improvised coordinating arm bands and a head band as well. There is *still* yarn left, so I suppose I'll be knitting him some technicolor shorts next, just to complete the ensemble. (Fwiw, my brother is a theater and dance major, so the legwarmers truly will get some use!)

I also managed to finish up the latest in my series of swatches for J. Knits yarn company. This time they requested lace swatches in their Stunning sock yarn, and I have to say that if I was a sock knitter, I would be happy to reach for these socks. The yarn is sturdy, shiny, and quite soft after washing. I'm still waiting on my "payment" yarn, but the first shipment should be coming early next week, so I'll review that when it gets here.

Finally, I began my Little Birds sweater a week or two ago. It was set aside to work on the two previously mentioned projects, but I picked it back up over the weekend and finished up the ribbing. This sweater is becoming a comedy of errors for me. First, I ordered the specified yarn back in August from an online shop (no one carries it locally, that I could find). Then, I waited five and a half months for them to actually get it in stock and ship it to me. (Entirely out of their hands, so I was patient.)

I was super excited to clear the decks and get moving on this sweater, so I cast on in my intended size (34"), and knitted up half the ribbing. Then I slipped it onto waste yarn to try it on: waaaay too tight. I'm a slender girl with wide hips (thanks, Mom!) and I could not get the thing to overlap far enough. Nothing to do but rip it out and start over. But I only needed a little bit more room, and the next size up (38") was too big a jump. So I juggled the numbers and did the ribbing in a size halfway between the two.

I knitted up most of the ribbing again, put it on waste yarn, and tried it on: perfect! Although at this point, I discovered a small problem. The cast on is a time-consuming one which calls for you to provisionally cast on half the stitches with a larger needle, pick up the other half of the stitches with a needle two sizes smaller, fold the few knitted rows over and knit all the stitches onto the smaller needle, alternating by threes. (Sorry if that's confusing, but that's not the real point of my story, so don't worry about it.) Then you finish up the ribbing with the smaller needle and switch to the larger one once you get to the colorwork portion of the sweater.

Well...I had apparently been knitting the ribbing in the larger needle all along. So then I was left to wonder how it would look once I get to the colorwork portion? Would the colorwork look funny or sloppy on top of the ribbing? What was the point of doing the ribbing in a smaller gauge anyway? Should I just have moved up a size in the pattern, instead of doing all my fancy math?

Ugh. Too late. I didn't want to go back, so I kept knitting. I had to decrease down to the number of stitches called for in the pattern before the colorwork, because I didn't want extra room up top. I don't have a big chest to balance out my wide hips (thanks, Mom!). But I am tall, so I rejiggered the pattern to add another pattern repeat. This wasn't difficult, but it messes with the angle of the fronts and I won't be able to see how that turns out until the sweater is finished and steeked. From here on out I'll just be holding my breath and hoping everything turns out for the best. I do have a similar store-bought sweater that fits quite well, so I keep measuring that to see how this one compares. So far so good. :)

Next time: a magazine review. I finally got my hands on a copy of The Knitter!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Favorite Colors

I've been on a purple kick lately. Not a royal purple, or a bright purple, but more of a lavender/periwinkle purple. Not a pastel kind, but...a light purple with a certain je ne sais quoi. I would blame it on my Autumn Arbor stole (which is obviously a darker purple), but I've had purple on the brain long before I started knitting that. For quite a few months, I couldn't get enough of light purple. I finished Autumn Arbor, and test knitted another a periwinkle color I had to order online especially for this project. I even ordered a sweater's worth of merino/silk yarn from a Little Knits clearance. I've been doing more swatches for J. Knits, and they keep sending me nice purpley-lavender yarn and I couldn't be happier.

So it has been a little strange that in my mind, whenever I look at purple yarn, I hear this voice that says, "No, do it in green! Greeeeeeen! Not purple, GREEN!" Green has always been my absolute favorite color, but I have been very self-conscious of it ever since people started teasing me years ago about only owning green clothing. I think I only own one green t-shirt now, and it's a bright, neon green with a picture of a frog on the front. Not exactly a shirt I can wear anywhere respectable. And yet, in my head, I wear green all the time. I suppose it's similar to how people who lose a lot of weight say they still see themselves as the "fat girl" or something...I still see myself as "that girl who wears nothing but green good god what is wrong with her".

This is getting somewhere, I promise!

Through the purple haze of lavender/periwinkle, green has finally won out. What did it? My birthday present from my brothers:

That is 1100 yards of Claudia Handpainted 100% Silk Lace in the Moss colorway and a copy of Knitted Lace of Estonia, by Nancy Bush. That yarn is gorgeous. It is the most beautiful yarn I have ever owned. It is all shimmery blends of just the right shades of moss, olive, pea, and golden greens you can imagine. All I want to do is knit with it. I want to knit everything in this shade of green. Forever.

Too bad I don't own any other green yarn. :-P

(I would like to give props to my brothers for getting me such a perfect gift! I would also like to point out that this is incredibly impressive because not only are they both in college, but one of them is colorblind and sees orange when he looks at the greens, and the other one might as well be colorblind, since he picked out the yarn for me to make him these:)

Legwarmers for a 6'3" nineteen year old. Oy.