Friday, September 29, 2006

Whole Lotta Knittin' Goin' On

For a reason unbeknownst to me, I was a knitter crazed last week. I'm not sure if it had to do with it being the end of the month (has the yarn diet and wild passion to finish projects before a deadline carried over from August?) or the fact that autumn weather seems to be setting in, but I've been a busy girl. I'll post pictures in my next post.

Swallowtail is progressing, and it's here with me in Santa Fe. Since I finished the top-secret baby gift (see below) on my flight here, I'm thinking serious progress will be seen since it's now the only knitting I have with me on my trip. I'm still in the second lace chart, but I hope to make it to the third soon.

I've bound off the Melody Shawl. This project was been way more like the pi shawl than I actually care to admit ... tedious in so many ways but at the same time so very, very pretty that it's going to be difficult to give it away for Christmas even though I started it with very selfish motives. For you see, as I knit it and contemplated the colors and the drape of the fabric, a different owner manifested itself in the expectation. It's a lot easier to leave something languish if there's no hard deadline. I'm glad it's done.

The vest, of course, was started, completed, unravelled and lengthened. This took a week or so to knit, and then a day to lengthen. Total of about eight days or so. I wanted a vest. No doubt about it, that one was for me and honestly it was so easy I just couldn't put it down. Not to mention that I used my new KnitPicks needles for it and I was anxious to try them out. (Note: These needles are nice, nice, nice. Very pointy.)

Second Widdershins heel has been turned. I was really suffering SSS on this one. I'm not sure why it was so difficult for me to get the heel done. I mean, I like the pattern and all, but doing that heel sure is awkward. It's having all the gusset stitches together on the needles, I think.

I've also been sidetracked by another project ... a top-secret one for my "nephew" ... who turns the big 1 on Friday. His party is on Saturday, and since I'm out of town I'm going to miss his party. But his mommy will have her birthday on Monday and the three of us will do lunch to celebrate. The present?

Experienced knitters will know what this is. I'll show you after I give the gift. There may even be a cute baby shot to go with it.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Harlot was Here

On the blog. Friday. Read my post about Ottawa and left a comment. I was thrilled. My husband thought I was crazy. I was a happy girl that day.

So happy, in fact, that I decided to go ahead, damn the torpedoes, and lengthen that sweater vest I designed. It's been sitting in my basket all week screaming and pleading with me to finish it off, and well, I didn't want to call it done until I made a call on the length. It needed to be longer ... I really don't need a knitted cotton belly tank. It's hard to see just how short it is in this picture, but trust me ... it would have worked, but an extra couple of inches would help big time.

So I embarked on my great lengthening adventure. First, I picked up the 120 stitches around:

I made sure I had them all, and then took the scissors to it. Just below the start of the ribbing. Oddly, this didn't make me weak in the knees or ready to vomit. I'm not sure why I was so confident.

Lots of yarn carnage, too. Little bits of Debbie Bliss denim cotton aran floating all over me and my living room. Then came the unraveling, which was a bit nerve-wracking with the start of the ribbing. Note to self: Just hack the ribbing off and unravel plain stockinette. Because once I got through the ribbing, it unravelled lickety split.

I'm sorry I didn't take pictures of the actually knitting-to-lengthen process, but you all know what knitting looks like, so why bother? I added an extra 2-3 inches of stockinette to the bottom of the vest and then did the ribbing. And I must say this: the transition was SEAMLESS. You simply cannot tell where the original iteration stops and the expansion begins. All done in a weekend and the pre-blocked vest (which looked fine w/o blocking) made its debut last night to a friend's birthday party. I'm very content, and my husband was even impressed with the collar ribbing and sleeves.

Progress also continues on Melody, but I'm holding pictures for today. Knitting this shawl is kinda like eating a never-ending pasta bowl ... this yarn ball never gets any smaller, I swear, even though I'm looking at a solid 11-inches (slight stretching to block in order to measure the finished product) and no end to the yarn in sight.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Not Much to See Here

Seriously. My husband obsconded with my camera. I think he took it to work and hasn't brought it back yet.

It's too bad, because I just finished up a self-designed basic sweater vest and I'm kinda proud of it. Maybe tomorrow. I'm going to require some feedback on the length ... if all agree that it's a tad too short then I'm going to have to slice and dice a little since I knit it from the bottom up (ordinarily I do top down, which would make this crazy-easy to fix, but alas ...)

Progress continues also on Melody and the Swallowtail Shawl. I'd like to note here that schoolteachers were taken care of with a single visit to Morehouse. Since they don't look at the blog, I can tell you what the elementary school teachers are getting. Click here to see. These are too damn cute not to make them. My youngest son's teacher is a first-year, so I think she'd get a kick out of it.


Sunday, September 10, 2006

Home Again, Home Again

Jiggedy Jog.

I got home from my whirlwind business trip to Canada yesterday, and I'm still tired. But there are lots of things to catch up on. Firstly, I finished the second ponchette, and it turned out fine. TYS took pictures but they aren't worth posting. So you'll have to just trust me. So on to Ottawa.

Let me start first by saying that I've just managed to fall in love with Canada for the second time in my life. The first was a few years ago when we drove into Windsor on a jaunt to Detroit to see the Baltimore Orioles play in the old stadium before they tore it down. Going from that grimy city into Windsor was like going into Oz. It struck me in a way that I've never quite been able to describe or forget. I was thrilled to find that the experience wasn't unique to Windsor. I felt that same amazement when I walked out of the airport terminal into Ottawa, the nation's capital city.

So what strikes me about Canada?

It's clean. Even in a metropolitan center like the capital, it doesn't have the urban dinge or decay that you see in the States. People use the public wastebaskets. They take pride in their environment. The air is clean, the city is clean, the people seem clean. And you see signs like this:

It mixes old and new. The "old" architecture that you see in the U.S. has NOTHING on Ottawa. This was what I saw every morning from my hotel room:

This was the view if I looked to the right. In the right foreground is Le Chateau, a hotel, and in the background is their Parliament complex -- a massive set of gorgeous gothic buildings filled with amazing iron and stonework.

Here's what I saw if I looked to the left:

Modern-ish architecture, looking very comfortable a block away from Parliament.

Interested in more Parliament? Here's a closer shot:

Other than the architecture and history, there are lots of other things to enjoy.

Like Beavertails.

Very yummy. The one on the bottom is garlic butter and cheddar, and the top is cinnamon and sugar. Fried pastries that are both light AND filling all at the same time. If you're ever there, you must go to Byward Market and get one. My associate and I split each of these for a complete experience.

We also attended a work event at the Canadian War Museum. Even wore boas for the occasion (yes, it was an event that called for costumes!)

OK, I admit no yarn stores were visited on this trip, but that's OK. I didn't see much in Canada that I couldn't get in the U.S. Besides, next month's trip is to Santa Fe, NM. I'm actually flying in to Albuquerque (home of the Fiesta outlet store) and there are some cute little yarn stores there and in Santa Fe. I'm imposing a yarn diet until then ... and plans to get a much bigger suitcase for the trip.

Note: Even though no yarn stores were graced by my presence, I did make quite a bit of progress on two WIPs: the Melody Shawl and the Swallowtail Shawl. Pictures later.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Ponchette Redux

I don't know that there's many things worse than scrambling to finish a project only to find that you've managed to screw the whole thing up. From cast-on to bind-off, the brick-colored ponchette was an anomaly of sorts ... a seemingly simple project that was anything but.

The photo in my last post showed it taking up nearly a full twin-sized pull-out sofabed. That's right, it was pretty big. At first, I assumed that I blocked too aggressively, but the bottom line is that it was just doomed from the beginning.

Damn hemp.

A devil fiber if ever I met one, hemp is a nightmare to knit with. No matter how tightly I caught the stitches, they were still way too loose throughout. I should have known something was amiss when everyone who has knit this project finished in less than a week. Me? It took nearly as long as a blanket.

The good news is that it's not a total wash; it's a nice rectangular shawl for someone for the holidays.

Even better news: Two days ago, I headed to the LYS, picked up two balls of SWTC Bamboo, and pounded a newer (and more appropriately sized) version out in less than two full days of knitting. Here it is blocking on the same pull-out sofa:

So why the rush to get this done?

You see, I'm getting ready to leave for a business trip on Wednesday morning to Ottawa. It's chillier there than here, and for some reason I had set a goal of having this ponchette completed in time to wear it if I go out and about. It's made of soy silk, which in my experience can be pretty warm if it needs to be. So I figure I can take a long-sleeved shirt and a short-sleeved shirt and wear whichever suits the weather.

I wanted it in brick, but I'll settle for this gorgeous turquoise. As long as it dries as planned, I should be able to seam it up tomorrow and toss it in my tote!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Mass Production

So August is over, and so is the race to complete UFOs. I feel like it was a pretty productive month: Pi was blocked, Charlotte finished, two socks, a large ponchette (which will become a rectangular shawl) and quite a bit of progress on the Sheep Shawl. All amid a busy month with vacation, a business trip and the first day of school for two elementary schoolers. I'm happy with the progress and considering myself at this point quite content.

Like so many other luxuries in life, casting on a new project is one that we all take for granted until we can't do it. There's nothing like picking out a new yarn, a new pattern and sitting down in solitude and putting the stitches on the sticks. I'm so glad I'm free to do it again.

Pictures will come later.