Thursday, September 24, 2009

Lace SOS

All right, intrepid knitters. I need your help with something. I'm still working on the Print O' the Wave stole for MacKintosh yarns, and as predicted it's knitting up very quickly. I flew through each of the separately-knitted sides. I grafted the two sides together in the center. I picked up the 640 stitches around the outside and knitted the inside border. I casted on the 17 stitches for the outer border and started working my way slowly around the outside. And now...

Now I'm afraid that I won't have enough yarn to finish it.

It's a nightmare. If this stole were knitted in one piece, I would jut rip back a pattern repeat and go from there. But it took me EIGHT HOURS just to graft the two halves together, pick up stitches around the outside and knit up half of the inner border. It took me another EIGHT HOURS to finish the inner border and knit up 25% of the outer border. Ripping back right now would not only be excruciating, it would leave me with several (rather long, it's true) lengths of yarn.

So here's where you come in: I need you to tell me what you would do! Would you, a) keep knitting the border and hope that there really is enough yarn to complete it, or b) cut your losses and not waste another moment of your time by ripping back right now?

I've never been all that good at estimating how much yarn I have left--I usually end up with much more than I thought I would need. I'm worried that I'm using that as an excuse to blind myself to the truth: there simply isn't enough yarn here. I suppose I could try to figure out how much yarn each border repeat uses, and then measure out my remaining yarn to see if I have enough. That actually works in two ways: I will know for sure before I rip out all my work unnecessarily or waste more time knitting, and it will also force me to spend time troubleshooting and therefore postpone the inevitable. Hmm...what do you guys think?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

More Random Happy Things

I feel as though I use this blog to complain about things a wee bit too much, so here are some more random happy knitterly things that have been going in the past week.

First off, I won a contest that Leann was having over on her blog. She was giving away an item of the winner's choice from her Etsy shop, Enchanted Hues. She has some seriously beautiful stuff over there, people. It actually made me glad that I don't spin because her fiber is so pretty. I really want some of that Eastwick! Hmm...she also custom spins any of her roving...I'll have to keep that in mind. As it is, I had a hard enough time choosing between all of her yarn colors. I was really drawn to The Great Pumpkin, a bright blend of orange shades, and Poisoned Apple with its deep reds. (Btw, how much do you love her color names?) In the end, I decided on a skein of DK weight superwash merino in the Forbidden Forest colorway. I'm so glad I did (although I'm certain I would have been happy with any color I chose). It's the kind of color that you can't take your eyes off of. It seems to be the darkest green you can imagine, almost black. (Is it black?) It has bits of brighter greens and browns that blue? Purple? Every time you look at it, it seems to change color. It is soooo mesmerizing and I LOVE it. This is definitely in my queue of yarn I need to knit up rightnow. I'm thinking a nice cowl...maybe the Spiral Cowl by Keri McKiernan, or the Faberge Neck Warmer by Nina Machlin Dayton. Something to think about...

My second random happy thing is that Hannah Fettig released the pattern for her Lightweight Pullover! Yeah, I know, you're probably sick and tired of me saying this, but I knit the sample for this one too! It was seriously the most pleasurable sweater I have knitted in a long time. Part of it was that the yarn is scrumptious (Classic Elite Fresco) but mostly it is the pattern itself. Like a lot of knitters, I really like to challenge myself with my projects. Bring on the complex lace or colorwork or cables, and I'm in heaven! But the truth is that the sweaters I wear the most are the ones that are mostly stockinette. They just look so polished and wearable. This is definitely one of those sweaters, and it knits up so fast! Just look at that drapey funnel neck! Not too much of a cowl, but not too much of a turtleneck, either. I will be working one of these up for myself soon. I can picture myself wearing it everywhere...if only it wasn't so dang hot down here in San Diego! :-P My one regret is that I didn't think to take FO shots before I sent it off to Ms. Fettig so I don't have any photos for my Rav projects page. :( Ah well, live and learn, right?

And wait...what's this? This pile of wood on the floor?

Omigosh, it's a new swift!!! This is a brand new Heavy Duty Vertical Yarn Swift from Crazy Monkey Creations and I am soexcitedomg to have it! My little brother kindly made me a tabletop swift for my birthday nearly two years ago, and it was great at first...but you could only wind the yarn in one direction or it would tighten itself up and stop turning. But then you had to reach over the spinning posts and hold onto the little wing nut in the center of the swift to keep it from unscrewing itself and falling apart while winding. Yarn ends tended to fly free and wind themselves around the center shaft, gunking themselves up in grease, and even when everything was running smoothly, the thing kind of wobbled and I could hear the center screw gouging its way into the wood. So...out with the old, in with the new! I knew I wanted a swift that didn't necessitate clearing off the entire kitchen table in order to use it, and I didn't want an umbrella swift that needed to be clamped to the table, either. When I found this online I knew I had a winner! I am very pleased that my knitting-for-hire has been able to buy such a great new tool. After being out of work for so long, I had forgotten how nice it is to be able to pay for something for yourself. I haven't tried it out yet, but I will be sure to report on how it performs.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Random Happy Things

I decided this post should be about random happy things today. And why not?

First off, I am excited to report that the comfy purple Gooseberry Cardigan designed by Hannah Fettig that is on the cover of the new Interweave Knits Weekend magazine was knitted up by yours truly! The fabulous Ms. Fettig posted a call for help on her blog back in...April? May? Some time ago anyway. I answered the call and was given the privilege of knitting up her wonderful design for INTERWEAVEMAGAZINEOMG! I was super duper excited to see that they put it on the cover (because I'm a ginormous dork), and I ran out to buy a copy the day it hit newsstands. And if you look in the back at the Staff Projects, you can see that Eunny Jang herself is wearing it! Too fun!

After sending off my most recent shawl, I moved right along to the third in the series of shawls for MacKintosh Yarns. This time I'm doing the Print O' the Wave stole by Eunny Jang in MacKintosh Yarns Spinneret Lace Yarn in the Mossy Bog colorway. I am happy to report that I am in love! This yarn is the best! It's a 55/45 superwash merino/silk blend and it is so smooth and alive that it is so much fun to knit with. The color of this yarn is just perfect for the pattern, and the way the stitches change directions makes the light hit the yarn differently and really gives it a nice shine and makes the color vary from one angle to the next. I liked it so much that I sat down yesterday and in one evening knitted up 9 out of the first 17 pattern repeats. This one will be a quick knit, I'm sure!

And now, a little story that did not make me happy but that might make you chuckle so I'll call it even: When I was a child there was a candy called Tangy Taffy. It was a fruit-flavored taffy sold in a long strip. I loooooooved Tangy Taffy. I think they used to only come in cherry and grape flavors, but after a while they started putting out mixed flavors, like strawberry-banana or mixed berry. They also started coating the top of the slabs of taffy with giant, brightly-colored sugar crystals. These changes were gross and I stopped eating the candy.

Somewhere along the line, Tangy Taffy was discontinued and subsequently resurrected as Laffy Taffy by Nestle's Willy Wonka Candy Company brand. (A quick search on Wikipedia divulged the following, rather unhelpful information: "A former taffy, Tangy-Taffy is also now discontinued and has been replaced totally by Laffy-Taffy," which is essentially what I just told you. You have now been told twice. I hope you're still paying attention. There will be a quiz later.)

While shopping at Target on Monday, I passed the candy display (oh, all right, I was there on purpose looking for Twerpz, which seem to have mysteriously disappeared from candy shelves everywhere, to my eternal broken-heartedness) and found the Laffy Taffy. Remembering how good it was as a child, I grabbed one and brought it home.

Once home, I sat down at my desk to get some work done and started happily gobbling my way through the sticky mess. (No, I don't know why my keyboard keeps getting so dirty. Why do you ask?) I was halfway through the gooey slab of taffy when I found A HAIR. A wiry, black hair embedded in my candy. Ew. Just...ew.

So I immediately called the number on the packaging and was helped by a very slow yet very serious woman on the other end of the line. I had to give her my full contact information. I had to read three different codes to her off the packaging. I had to answer a whole litany of questions about the hair: What color is it? How long is it? Is it curly? Wavy? Sraight? Where in the candy is it? Had I noticed anything odd about the packaging? Had I noticed anything else odd about the candy inside? And so on...

Then she asked me if I would be willing to mail back my "sample" to them if they sent me a postage-paid envelope. Sure. Fine. Then she asked me if I was able to take pictures of the "sample" and email them to a super-special, top-secret link she was going to email to me. This link is only open for three days, and then I guess some sort of internet black hole is going to swallow it up. Okaaaaay...sure.

I was trying not to laugh at this point because really, it felt more like a criminal investigation than a mundane food complaint. I felt like I was working in a crime lab when I took these pictures! Before I got off the phone with her, she reiterated that they take their food production very seriously, and assured me that all employees who come into contact with any step of the food production process are required to wear hair nets, and any men who also have beards must wear a special hair net on their faces as well. Then she told me that they would be sending me replacement samples and some coupons, so all was well.

When I told my brother this story, his reply was: "OMG! You're even unlucky with your candy!!!"

Yes, sad but true. Don't worry: I will keep you all informed as this situation progresses, because I am positive you are all on pins and needles to see how it turns out.

And now I leave you with the final happy thing:

Proof that shimmery happiness can be had for only 97 cents. (Please ignore the red and puffy post-shower feet.)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Poking Around

I feel like the groundhog (you know, The Groundhog), sticking my nose outside to take a look around. I'm about to go back under, but I thought I should put up a post about what I have been up to.

It has been an insanely busy last month or so, and it's going to remain that way for some time to come, to which I'm sure you can all relate. I have been working night and day on a super-colossal top-secret project that I hope to reveal in about a month. Until then, my brain will be kind of scrambled, I'm sure.

In my last post, I had been halfway through the first of four shawls I was hired to knit as samples for MacKintosh Yarns. Well, I finished that first shawl in time for it to go off to Stitches and I am very happy that I was able to finish it on time.

Pattern: Kiri Shawl by Polly Outhwaite
Yarn: MacKintosh Yarns Rhiannon Lace Weight, color Hibiscus
Needles: Addi Lace size 6
Finished Size: 80" across the top, 45" down the center
Mods: Added pattern repeats until I ran out of yarn, then bound off.

I quickly moved on to my second shawl project and blocked it last night:
Pattern: Lughnasadh Shawl by Renee Leverington
Yarn: MacKintosh Yarns Skye Lace Weight, color Morrigan
Needles: Addi Lace size 6
Finished Size: 72" across the top, 41" down the center
Mods: Added three repeats of the center stitch pattern in order to use up as much yarn as possible, and to help balance the design.

Here's a question for you: What do you think of superwash lace weight yarn? The Skye Lace Weight, while beautifully dyed and lovely to work with, is a superwash merino. I seem to be noticing a lot of superwash lace yarns floating around these days, and my question is: Why? You're not likely to toss your lace projects in the washing machine anyway, right? I mean, you have to block them out so you might as well soak them carefully before doing so. Are these yarns made to be used in lightweight garments, like Hannah Fettig's darling Featherweight Cardigan (for which I have the pattern and the yarn...just waiting to have the time)? I generally prefer to stay away from superwash yarns unless I'm knitting for someone else, but superwash lace weight? I'm confused. Any thoughts?

OK, back to the grindstone. I have to finish up a baby sweater I was hired to knit (so cute! I can't wait for it to be released so you can see it!), then I can get going on my third shawl. I'm really looking forward to this one--it's green! :D