Sunday, July 31, 2011

Chester Hedge, reporting for duty!

Chester apologizes for his late arrival, but does hope you'll forgive him. Claire got very distracted on holiday, and then contracted a bad case of startitis upon her return to the city. But mostly you may lay blame with one Mr. Harry Potter.

From a midnight double feature of the Deathly Hallows part 2, to rediscovering my copies of the first three books while I was home, Harry has taken over my spare time. I even had to run to the Borders closing sale to make sure I got the rest of the series in the same type of cover! (What can I say, I like my books to match?)

But finally, in a fit of knitterly productivity (which conveniently happens in front of the TV and fan) I finished my little hedgehog yesterday, and have a serious start made on his mushroom friend!

He turned out a bit larger than I was expecting - pretty much life size! - but I think he's still awfully cute. Especially with his little glasses! Who knows, maybe more accessories are in his future. I just know my hands will be glad to get to some springier yarn on the next project, Veyla. They've suffered some abuse with this non-stretchy alpaca on small needles, and the cotton in my sister's chickens and a summer top I'm working on!

Ta-ta and cheerio for now!

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Finished Hedgie!

Kendra here, checking in from JFK airport waiting to board my flight to Utah to visit family and thought I'd share my new little buddy with you: HedgeBlob the Hedgehog!

I know it's a goofy name, but Adam and I were in fits of laughter as I was finishing this little guy up last night. The way he was stuffed at first he was a chubby little blob, and getting his eyes in the right place was no easy task! He finally came together and is one cute little guy. Just in time to keep Adam company as I head out of town this week.

He was a lot of fun to make and although I still have his mushroom buddies to make, I'm already anxious to get going on our next project, Veyla! I'll be visiting my mom and she's been wanting to make those mitts as well, so hopefully we'll have a guest blogger join us in the next round. So come girls, show me your 'hogs! Time to board!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Traveling Hedgehogs

Claire and Chester Hedge reporting in from the beautiful Michigan countryside! I've been back visiting my parents in southern MI since Tuesday, with my sister driving up from North Carolina to join us. While I didn't do any knitting on the plane, I launched right into it once I got home, comparing projects with my mom and sister, who are also knitters. On Wednesday we went to the LYS in the next town over to join their afternoon knitters. Sadly the store is in the process of closing, but that means lots of yarn on sale! I got some yarn for the Peaks Island Hood later in the book, plus some gifties for my fellow WLKALers!

After we had our knitting fill, we had an outing to an alpaca farm! My mom has a booth at the local farmer's market on the weekend, and right next to her is the Casa del Suri alpaca farm booth. Mary, the owner, has beautiful fiber and yarn for sale, though she says she isn't much of a knitter! When we got there, the alpaca and their guard llama were hanging out in the barn in front of the fans. Mary said when the weather is this hot they also get hosed down twice a day and really seem to love it!

Of course, they were also excited because it was dinner time! The babies (called crias) are fed first since the adults tend to be a little pushy! The crias and female alpacas are kept separate from the males, since alpacas can breed at any time, plus the guys tend to be a little rough. Mary put rocks in the food bowls to slow the little guys down so they don't choke.

Spirit, the guard llama, was very protective of his charges and kept a close eye on us.

The alpaca were also very alert - but I think they were keeping an eye out to see if we had any more food! They'd all been shorn fairly recently and were looking quite slender.

Sensing a great photo for my Rav project page, I had my mom hold Chester up to take a picture with the ladies, since he's also made of alpaca! Sophia, the friendliest of the lot, still had a bit of an appetite and decided to see if my needles would be tasty! Luckily Chester got out of the way with only a little bit of slobber :)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Holy Crazy Cast On, Batman!

Kendra here, and I too am working my way through Smith and his mushroom buddies. Last week I was doing laundry (which here in Brooklyn means a jaunt to the laundromat and happy hour beers during cycles) and was looking to start my yet-to-be-named hedgehog. All I can say is thank goodness for smart phones, because here I was thinking I'll just cast on this cute toy while I'm out doing laundry, but think again! The beginning of the pattern starts with a website for the cast on method to start this project, a "casting on the from the middle disappearing loop method" situation. Huh? Exactly my reaction. Enter smart phone to check out that useful website to see what the heck was going on.

I knit a lot, and although I have my go-to long-tail cast on I do know that other methods exist, but this was a complete mind trip. I still can't believe it worked successfully because the whole time I was afraid to move my left hand for fear of messing up the yarn position. Even when the stitches were on the needle they didn't look like stitches until a few rounds later when I closed the loop and voila! No hole! Pure craziness. Very similar in idea to the crochet magic loop starting technique, but much more insane.

Thank you Ysolda, for rocking my knitting world yet again. I love learning new things that I would have never known existed otherwise! Check it out for yourself and get a hedgehog buddy of your own going!

PS: My hedgehog will also be out of random stash yarn, some Lion Brand Superwash Merino Cashmere in Parchment for the body, and Cascade Quattro in color 9539 for the spikes.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Lindsey Finally Crosses Not One But TWO Finish Lines!

Alright folks, Late Lindsey here to say I'm catching up! The best part of catching up is that I actually have pictures of projects to share! I bound off and pseudo-blocked Damson on Monday.

Bubbly Flash Dance
For some reason I was really into the bubbles and purple water when I soaked Damson.

Lay Flat to Dry

Like I said, I "pseudo-blocked". In my transient state, I don't really have all the proper equipment (and can't easily borrow it). For now I just laid flat to dry, but the edging could use some proper blocking.


Finished Damson! Sorry for the busy background and awkward perspective. If I haven't said it enough already, I LOVE this shawl in this yarn and colorway. LOVE!


After I finished up Damson I started right away on Ripley. I had a few issues (why do I own twenty-something inch size 10 circs?), but the pattern was great. Like everyone else, I didn't check gauge. When I got to the point in the lace band where I could just do the extra-small, the band fit around my head so I just got started on the body of the hat. I met up with Jess around the time I got to the second pleat, and she laughed at how small my little hat was (I have a tendency to make tiny hats out of lazyness). So, I ripped back to the lace band and added enough repeats for the medium. Luckily I was able to do almost the entire hat on the Jitney! Disclaimer: I don't recommend this, my wrist hurt so bad last night. Anyway, ends were woven in this morning! Sorry for the flat photo, I don't have Jess's awesome ability to take pictures of myself and there is no one here to take them for me. Oh right, I should probably mention that this is in Tosh 80/10/10 in Fig. The base is great and the color is nice for this hat (although it doesn't make me as excited as Flash Dance).

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Starting Smith (aka Jess Makes Mistakes Aplenty)

Smith is tragically cute, but it's incredibly fiddly! From the complicated cast on to the spikes, there are plenty of places that your (read: my) knitting can (read: did) go wrong. I want to make it very clear that my mistakes were not the pattern's fault. It's very hot, so my brain is melting. First, I messed up the cast on, but I was okay with that because nobody should be staring at my hedgehog's booty. Then, I was cruising along with the knitting until I realized that my spikes were wrapping around my hedgehog further than they should. Turns out I misread round 9. While you're supposed to knit 1 and then knit the stitches together, I alternated between the two. Whoops! However, I've already attached two sets of spikes, so I do NOT want to frog! Instead, I'll just sew the spikes to wrap all the way around the body, and I'll work the rest of the spikes correctly. That'll look okay, right? Remember, kids, it's not nice to make fun of deformed hedgehogs!

The good news is that I've discovered a few helpful tips to make my Smith more successful!
  • Read the pattern correctly. (Apparently I don't take my own advice.)

  • Weave in the ends as you go. A little effort now will save you a lot of stress when finished the project!

  • Knit the spikes in advance. If you've got space on your needle or have spare needles, you don't have to keep alternating between knitting the body and spikes. In my case, I'm using DPNs, so I was able to knit 4 spikes before going back to the body!


Hopefully, these tips will help somebody else avoid hedgehog deformity!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Of Hedgehogs and Chickens...

Cuteoligist Claire reporting that it's about to get a lot cuter around here! We've started the hedgie Smith (although I've named mine Chester) and his companion mushroom. This is a great pattern for using up odds and ends from your stash, no matter what weight they are, since Ysolda has a chart for weights from fingering to heavy worsted, and the pattern itself is fairly adaptable. I'm using a light worsted yarn on US size 4 for the body, and US size 7 for the spikes. This is yarn from the deepest corner of my stash; some handspun alpaca I purchased early in my knitting career when my family took a trip to an alpaca farm in Indiana for my sister's birthday. It's extra appropriate since I started this little dude on her birthday this year! We'll see if he ends up making a home with her, or if I have to make a sibling :)

Hehe, I guess this post includes sheep too!

It's a fun construction technique too - you're pretty much doing the first step of a three-needle bind off when you join the spike row to the body. It's a little awkward, but much, much easier than sewing all the spikes on afterward! I went with conventional hedgehog colors for Chester, but I did see a very cute zombie-hedge on Ravelry!

The chicken part of this post comes with a sneak preview of part of my sister's gift. I know I'm safe posting here, since (hopefully) she won't have a chance to check this before I see her next week to give them to her!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Lindsey Makes Mistakes Aplenty

Remember that time when I said I made a mistake and lost a stitch somewhere. I lied. The mistake was in trying to make the number of stitches on each side of the markers even. I feel SO DUMB! Here's what happened: Instead of paying attention to total stitch count, I had decided to make sure that the sides had the same number of stitches until I got to the scallop. Then I checked what the total stitch count should be: 293. An odd number? How could that be if the number of "middle" stitches was even. Oh right, the sides aren't even because one has an extra stitch (there is a knit stitch on the left side of each marker, not in the center or outside. This will make more sense if you've knit it). So, the problem is once again easily solved (an unnoticeable decrease), but I still feel DUMB!

In better news, my larger mistake of the last 24 hours (leaving my wallet in East Hampton whilst I visit Brooklyn) has also temporarily been fixed. Well, sorta. I have cash thanks to the lovely folks at Bank of America, but is it really useful if I can't buy wine for the concert Kendra and I are going to tonight (without the ID in said wallet). I'm sure I'll think of something (probably while I trudge through the rest of Damson). Once again I'm going to make you all jealous (not really) with this thought (or random string of words): Court Yard Hounds, sunny Prospect Park Bandshell, wine, knitting, and of course the lovely Kendra. Even with all my mistakes, today is a good day.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Absentee Knitter Knits Damson

Phew, we've been blogging for a month and I finally have a minute to join in and write a post. For those who don't know, I've been a little busy for the past month with moving ("Where to?", you might ask. Funny thing: both California and East Hampton. Yeah, it was a fun move) and starting my nannying gig. The kids are off to camp, and I have a minute to tell you about my progress on Damson, which I am not surprisingly way behind on.

While everyone else is finishing project numero dos, I'm just finishing up the would-be-garter section of Damson (that I'm doing in stockinette in hopes that my single skein of Tosh Merino Light will be enough). Based on Jess's results, I should be fine with the 420 yards of TML. The benefit of finishing last is that I don't have to be the guinea pig. Hopefully that makes up for the well-deserved tormenting I'm sure to suffer from my fellow bloggers.

So my notes on the pattern and project itself: The pattern is nice and easy. Like everyone else, my stitch count got a little off at one point. I was missing one stitch on one of the ends, so I just did an extra increase once I realized the mistake. It's not even noticeable (woohoo). My other note about my project is that I absolutely LOVE the Flashdance colorway. It seriously gorgeous and possibly the reason I'm totally fine taking my time.Who wouldn't want to drag out the time spent knitting in this stunning colorway?

So, the consolation prize for indulging me with this not-so-helpful post: a few pictures of what you're missing in East Hampton. I'll share more later, but for today here are the hydrangeas that have been keeping me sane while I haven't been able to knit. I sure hope the slideshow works! Update: Click on "Fullscreen" to view the slideshow.
Picasa SlideshowPicasa Web AlbumsFullscreen

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Joining the Ripley Bandwagon!

Claire here, checking in with another finished Ripley! It's true that the worsted weight yarn and larger needles make this a fast-finishing project - provided you read the directions correctly, of course! When a pattern has multiple sizes it's a good idea to go through and underline or highlight the size you are making. Well, not wanting to mark up my book I skipped this step, and as a result had to take out my pick up row three times! Once I got past that silly mistake it was smooth sailing. The pleats make it interesting, but not too complicated to follow while watching TV or hanging out with friends. And now, on to the pictures!

I chose to do the lacy edging, and a size in between the less and more slouchy by knitting 5 rows after the last pleat instead of the 1 or 10 specified in the pattern.

And I still have enough left for another hat! This would be a great project if you just have a little bit of a special handspun, or a more luxurious fiber blend. Just keep in mind that different fibers will drape differently, and try a swatch if you're not sure about it!

Excuse the shiny face - I don't have AC and it's extra warm with a wool hat on your head!

As cute as it is, I'm not sure it's quite my style. I'm going to give it to my sister and hope she enjoys it. Now I'm off to dig through my stash and find some good odds and ends for an adorable hedgehog!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Another Finished Ripley!

Jess here, and I'm happy to say that I breezed through Ripley. It's no surprise: the worsted weight yarn and larger needles really make this project fly by. While I was knitting, I noticed that my hat looked a bit small, despite the fact that I went up a needle size. Like Kendra, I rarely check my gauge when knitting hats (although we really should!), so I didn't worry too much about it. When I finished, I ended up with a very tight cap -- not exactly the slouchy hat I had desired. I solved this with some wet blocking, and now I have a hat that I love!
Jess's Ripley
Pardon the silly look on my face. I have a hard time taking self-portraits seriously. I really love the way my Malabrigo Merino Worsted worked up. The kettle dyed semisolid added a rich depth of color, and the super soft merino really bloomed after blocking. This is definitely going to be one of my go-to hats in the fall! Best of all, I have enough yarn leftover to make another one.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Ripley Done!

Hi there, Kendra checking in from Cape Cod with my Ripley adventures! My hat is finished but it took a couple of tries. My yarn was a bit thinner than the recommended yarn, but when I knit hats I'm not that concerned with gauge. I used size 9 needles because I tend to knit a bit loose and the yarn looked much better on the smaller needles and I chose the large size to compensate. I decided to make the lace band and got it going - but I'm lucky enough to be on vacation in Cape Cod, so here's me knitting the band on the beach. It was a bit windy but quite the nice knitting setting :)

I kept knitting along and found the pleats amazing! Such a genius design. Just to keep the pretty pictures coming, the next day of working on this hat I was spending the night on Martha's Vineyard at an amazing inn on the beach and this was the beautiful sunset view I did my knitting to!

Adam (my SO) also helped me by knitting some stitches on the hat during our ferry ride back from the Vineyard to the Cape. He's a great continental knitter!

I had decided to make the less slouchy version, but sadly at my gauge and after doing all the decreases, it was just too small. Frogging time! But I'm not such a fan of just ripping out and having to find stitches, so I use a smaller needle to pick up stitches along the row I want to rip down to (shown below), then rip to the stitches on the needle and can then knit from there. Much less traumatic frogging!

This time I made a hybrid of the two slouch versions with 6 rows in between the last pleat and setting up the decreases. Much better! Now I have a wonderful hat that will remind me of the wonder Cape Cod places that it was knit in!

As an aside, we went to an alpaca farm while on Martha's Vineyard which was adorable! Claire, I'm bringing you info about purchasing them. Pet quality alpacas start at $250! Bargain! Not sure how you get them from the island, but I'm sure there's a ferry that let's you bring alpacas :) There were so many babies! So cool.

"They come in many colors." Hah.

Baby! Sorry for the terrible photo - I killed our camera the night before, so we were down to a phone camera at this point.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Ripley: Getting Started

Jess here! Since Claire and I finished our Damsons (and Kendra finished her replacement Damson), we've decided to move onto the next project. Kendra and Lindsey are both on the road, so we decided to skip Smith and Wee Mushrooms; don't worry, we'll definitely come back to those projects! Instead, we've fast-forwarded to the collection's first hat, Ripley. This is an excellent stash-busting project, as it only requires about a skein of worsted weight yarn. We're all using this opportunity to clear out some lone skeins in our stash. Ironically, we're all using yarn from the same manufacturer without consulting each other (again)! I'm using Malabrigo Merino Worsted in Verde Esperanza, a fantastic teal shade. I selected this yarn for two reasons: it was readily available in my stash, and this pattern will look great in a single-ply merino wool. Claire and Kendra will both be using Malabrigo Rios, my Merino Worsted's plied cousin.

While Ripley looks like a simple hat, it really has a unique construction. The brim is worked sideways in one of two options: lace or garter stitch (which imitates a rib). From there, you pick up slip stitches and work upward. What's most interesting about the hat is its pleats. These pleats create a permanent scrunched look, perfect for slouchy hats. Here's an incredibly rough diagram that illustrates the construction:

For my hat, I'm knitting the medium size with the garter border. Here is my work in progress:
Jess's Ripley

Here's an extreme close-up of what a single pleat looks like:
Ripley pleat

I'm hoping to get the hat finished up over the long Independence Day weekend. The pattern does give instructions for varying degrees of slouch, but I'm not sure what I'll go with yet. The advantage of bottom-up hats is that you can try them on as you go, so I'll decide on the fly. We'll see what happens!