Saturday, April 16, 2011

Bob and Rainy's Heavenly Day

I love spring.  It is definitely my favorite season.  I love watching the way the buds on the trees are bigger at lunch than they were in the morning and are even larger when leaving work that night.  I love watching the grass turn green before your eyes.

What I don't like about spring in Wisconsin is days like last Saturday, where large globs of slush fall from the sky, mixed with cold stinging rain and leave an inch of semi-transparent grey goo on the ground.  

But this time we managed to take a yucky day, a computer, a guitar, and a ball of Malabrigo and turn it into the perfect day.

It all started when I went rummaging through the worsted stash and stumbled upon this little gem:

a full skein of Malabrigo Worsted weight 100% merino joy in the Whales Road colorway that I had bought to make my nephew a hat and never used.

Now I am not a big fan of variagated yarns.  To me, they can be too arbitrary and distracting -- it's white!  no, it's Red!  no, it's green!  now it's pink!  I really prefer tonal colors, where the yarn moves subtly from lighter to darker shades of the same basic color, cohesive without being boring.

For example, a variagated "muddled mess":

versus a harmonious tonal:

And yes, I know you can find as many knitters who prefer the variagated picture as you can who agree with me and prefer the tonal, it is totally just my subjective preference, but this is my blog so we are talking about what I like :p

Anyway, the Whales Road is just a little stretch of my comfort zone, tonal cool blues with a splash of tonal purples and rich mallards to make it more exciting.  It was the perfect antidote to falling slush.  But what to turn it into?

A quick search on Ravelry found the perfect thing, a shawlette (little shawl) designed to use a single skein of worsted weight yarn; aptly named 198 yds of Heaven (Rav pattern link).  There is nothing like lace on US 9/5.5mm needles
to give a sense of instant gratification.

So, Bob fired up his computer (mine was still in the shop <sigh>), loaded Heroes of Might and Magic V, and  made a new map, while I cast on my shawlette.  Heroes is a fabulous game and our game of choice for two reasons:  (1) it is turn based, which means I can knit while he plays his turn and he can play guitar while I do mine, or we can both walk away and do dishes or cook dinner without any negative results; the game sits and waits for OUR convenience, and (2) we can create custom maps that allow us to play as ALLIES.  I like my husband and like being married to him too much to play against him.  We are both too competitive to have THAT end well, trust me on this.  Game developers who lament their inability to woe women gamers should pay attention to this (but won't, which is why Heroes is unique).

And we passed a heavenly day of domestic and knitterly tranquility.

Our Happy Family:  happy Bob engrossed in his game with happy Noel taking a bath while happy Psyche looks on.  Happy Daisy is out of sight on her bed under the computer and happy Rose is off stage to the right waiting for me to put down the camera, pick up the knitting from my chair and pet her some more.

And by Tuesday, I had this:

Almost instant gratification.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Trio of Finished Objects

It feels as though I've had less knitting time than usual lately, however I've actually accomplished a lot in the last few weeks, so today I actually have three (THREE!) finished objects for your viewing pleasure.

First up, we have Nancy's Comfort, a comfort shawl to help Nancy deal with the sudden loss of her husband at age 64.  I haven't been saying much about this project, but here it is finished:

Pattern:  Janet's Shawl  Knit in Lion Brand Home Spun Colorway: Wildfire.  Ravelry Pattern Link  and Project Link

Totally unlike Cindy's comfort shawl, since their personalities and situations are so different.  For Cindy's, I wanted an earth tone for grounding and a somewhat tailored shape.  For Nancy, I wanted FIRE with a rustic, homespun feel. 

The shawl came out just the way I wanted it, the color, texture, and shape are just what I envisioned.  Only one problem; I really dislike the yarn!  The shawl desparately wants a good blocking, but sadly it is 100% acrylic and doesn't block the way wool does.  It is also lacking wool's wonderful "bounce", so even though I did Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off using needles 2 sizes larger than I used to knit the body, the edges are still very rigid compared to the stretchiness of the garter stitch body.

The pattern is a very basic elongated V shaped shawl with YO at the beginning and end of each row for increases, and garter stitch in between.  I modified it by adding a row of YO, K2tog across 2 rows before the bind off to add an eyelet row across the long edge to match the eyelets caused by the increases on the two sides of the triangle.  You can make this out in the left side of the picture just above the knot. 

The second finished object is Ginny's Not Boring Poncho.  My original design (or as original as you can get with a poncho, which is a pretty basic garment), I am really pleased with how it came out as well.  LOVE the color and it was a fun, quick knit.

Pattern from my head.  Yarn:  Viking Balder 100% superwash wool.  Ravelry Project Link
I wound up using all but about 15 inches of 3 skeins.  Instead of a ruffle at the bottom edge, I switched to US15 / 10mm needles for the final skein and did a decorative border to mirror the collar (1 round purl, 1 round knit, Purl bind off).  The bulk from the purl rows on 10mm needles actually cause it to ruffle really nicely.

I have never used superwash yarn except sock weight, so I wasn't prepared for the way this GREW when it hit water.  Measurements on the blocking mats are:  Neck = 19-20",  Spine = 27", sides = 25" long, bottom = 44" across.  I was aiming for length in the low 20"s, so this is a bit longer than I had planned.  I guess if it is down to her knees, they can mail it back and I can remove a bit.  But I'm reminding myself that it is April in Florida (it is April here as well, but not quite the same kind of April), so she won't probably be able to wear it much longer this spring anyway and it will still fit her next year (and the year after that and the year after that).

If she likes it, I'm thinking of making a smaller, lighter, more decorative poncho from bamboo or cotton that she can wear in warmer weather.  Something like this:  Karen Stelzer's Summer Poncho (Rav link).  We'll see :)

And finally, we have my February Lady's Sweater, finished knitting just needs buttons, blocking, and ends woven in.  I totally can't wait to block it, this yarn gets so incredible when it hits water.  I just need to wait for the poncho to dry and come off the mats. 

February Lady Sweater  non-Ravelry link! is Pamela Wynne's lovely tribute to Elizabeth Zimmermann's Baby Sweater on Two Needles (aka February Baby Sweater) upsized for women.  It is just a fabulous knit.  Super easy to modify as much or as little as you want to exactly meet your needs.  As of today, there are 10,660 projects for this sweater on Ravelry and an additional 11,320 people have it in their queue, waiting to be knit; that is just amazing!  Great job, Pam,  EZ would be so proud.

When I started mine, I was frustrated by sweaters that DON'T FIT right (yeah, Entrelac Tee, I'm looking right at you!) and really wanted to make this one fit well.  Pre-blocking, it is fitting very well, just a tad short.  That is intentional; I'm assuming that the sweater will grow in length between the blocking and the effect of the lace and the weight of the border.  If I don't pick up the inch or so that it needs, I will most likely undo the bind off and add a few more rows to the body.

The only real modification I made was to the yoke.  The original pattern calls for a garter stitch yoke and, as you well know if you've been reading this blog for a while, I hate garter stitch.  I'm not crazy about the look, but mostly I dislike the way it stretches in unpredictable ways and can really ruin the shape of the garment.  I did NOT want to be one of the people who knit this sweater and bemoaned the fact that it fits wonderfully except when it is falling off their shoulders.  I did a search on "stockinette" in the project pages and found quite a few lovely examples of this sweater with a stockinette yoke and went with that.

I also did my increases by lifting the stitch from the previous row.  I really like the neat and tidy way this increase looks.  It even looks great with the lifeline still in the picture.

The yarn is Misti Alpaca Tonos Worsted, 50/50 alpaca/merino (sigh, I love this yarn) in the Muir Woods colorway.  WEBS link  I call it my "Visualize Whirled Peas" FLS. 

More photos to come.