Saturday, October 29, 2011

Snow Dragon

Claire here with a brief weekend update. It may be almost November, but NYC has skipped right on ahead to December. It started snowing early this morning, and hasn't stopped yet! This is the street outside my apartment in Brooklyn:

Cars driving by in the slush is definitely a winter sound to me, so what better time to get some serious work done on my Snapdragon mitts? I have the body of the right mitt done, save for the thumb and weaving the ends in.

I'm going to do the body of the left mitt next, then come back and do the thumb and flip tops later. Doing it this way keeps my interest in the project, instead of thinking "Yay, I'm done!" and then realizing I have to do it all over again! Strangely, I still make socks one at a time. Maybe I'll challenge myself to try the 2-at-a-time method for my next pair. How many pairs of socks do you have to knit to become a "sock knitter"? I never thought I would be one, but I have a pair in progress, and yarn for two more!

ETA: I put my mind to it and have the body of the left mitt done as well, with enough time left over to whip up a pair of Tiny Ghost earrings for Halloween!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Seeing Red

Red is a notoriously difficult color. Its light pigments are larger than others, causing it to glow in photography and video. It is difficult to dye to proper shade and often bleeds when washed (oh, the irony). And I can't stop knitting red yarn.

My previously mentioned Rhinebeck skirt was Lanesplitter. Claire and I both decided to use Lion Brand Amazing as an economical (and softer) alternative to Noro. While she opted for the neutral browny Cobblestone, I went straight for Roses, a bright tonal variation of reds, burgundies, and pinks. I mostly followed the pattern as written, although I have lazily avoided inserting the elastic so far. I've worn it twice with no wardrobe malfunctions, though, so I'm pretty happy! If I had to do it over again, I would use a provisional cast on. To do this, simple cast on the number of stitches for the diagonal width you wish to achieve. Since you're working on the bias, you would work increases on one side and decreases on the other (as for the main body section). When the skirt fits around you, simply graft it to your provisional cast on. Bam, you've got a seamless skirt! Added bonus: your color changes won't be as obvious at the cast on/bind off edges. I definitely see myself making another of these in the near future (perhaps in my other color obsession, green). At any rate, here's my finished skirt (photographed at Webs):


For my next red projects, I decided to use up some stashed Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in the gorgeous Scarlet colorway. I needed a small project to knit while standing in lines at Rhinebeck, so I pulled out an Ysolda classic, Ishbel. I'm not much of a triangle shawl person, so I knit the small lace and stockinette sections. Overall, I'm pretty happy that the shawl went smoothly (just 9 days start to finish!), but I think it deserves a more aggressive block.


Pro tip: block lacy shawls like this with the right side down. This helps prevent curling in the stockinette and lace. Yes, I learned that after I blocked this. I'll definitely be doing this from now on! In the meantime, let's get a closeup of that gorgeous lace.

Ishbel closeup

Now that I'm finished with these projects, I'm starting my Snapdragon fliptops. After all, it's starting to get cold here!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Rhinebeck Hangover

Rhinebeck 2011 has come and gone, and I have to say it was an overwhelming experience. I laughed, I almost cried (more on that later), and I spent way more than I should have.

On the way up to our hotel in Saugerties, we couldn't help stopping at Webs, the largest yarn store in America. What's an hour or two out of the way (and out of the state) when it comes to yarn, right?


Needless to say, we were all very excited. The plan was for us to buy sweater quantities here to avoid temptation at Rhinebeck. I went in with a very specific idea of what I wanted: worsted weight gray yarn with a nice tweed to it. That should narrow it down, right? So very wrong. Webs has an incredible selection, and with great selection comes great confusion. I kept placing more and more yarn in my basket, and it became a blur of gray tweed fiber. It got to the point where I couldn't differentiate between yarns anymore, and I began to truly panic. I made a rash decision to abandon the tweed and go with a cheap heather, which Kendra and Claire assured me was a solid decision. Of course, after 2.5 hours in Webs, they probably could have convinced me of anything. I purchased my sweater quantity, a bit of sock yarn (for my Beekeeper's Quilt), and a pair of circular needles. My brain was absolute mush (but in a good way).

The next day we were off Rhinebeck! We all had an incredible time playing Rhinebeck Bingo, making new friends, chatting with designers, and eating too much food. I received so many generous comments on my Acorns sweater, including from Ravelry's own Mary-Heather. At the Ravelry meetup, we had the wonderful opportunity to say hello to Ysolda herself! It was so wonderful to thank her in person for permitting our knit-along blog.

With Ysolda

Of course, it would have been better if she had seen us the second day -- we were all wearing our Damsons and Snapdragon Tams!


As for the festival itself, it's difficult to put into words. It's so great to be surrounded by people who are passionate about the same things you are, and Rhinebeck is the epitome of that. I walked a llama, pet lots of animals, ate some ghost pepper sauce (I'm addicted to spice), attended a hard cider tasting, sampled lots of food, ate pickles, drank too little coffee, walked until my feet hurt, and snuggled lots of yarn.

Rhinebeck goodies

While I did go over my intended budget, I certainly got a lot of bang for my buck! Here's a catalog of my bounty:

  • 1 skein Sanguine Gryphon Little Traveler in Rojas (probably for a shawl)
  • 2 skeins Sanguine Gryphon Mithril in a point mutation, not sure on the intended colorway -- maybe either Little Caesar or the Shepherd at the Fold by Midnight (for a sweater)
  • 1 skein Sanguine Gryphon Mithril in Starry Night over the Rhone (for a shawl)
  • 1 skein Jellyfish Knits Intergalactic in Emerald City (for some sparkly hexipuffs!)
  • 1 skein Jellyfish Knits Ephyna in Iron (more hexipuffs)
  • 2 skeins Sliver Moon DK Superwash in Antique Brass (for Levenwick sweater)
  • Owl buttons from Jennie the Potter (for Levenwick sweater)
  • 5 skeins Valley Yarns Northampton in Dark Grey (sweater)
  • 1 skein Valley Yarns Huntington in Deep Pine (for even more hexipuff action)
  • A block of spicy cheese
  • A packet of spicy pepper jack dip mix

And that, dear friends, is my incredibly brief wrap-up of Rhinebeck. I'm still exhausted and way too obsessed with cuddling the yarn that I bought, but I think I'll recover in a few more days.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

HedgeBlobs Everywhere!

Kendra here, I know it's been ages! But I have been knitting, I promise. The main obsession around here has been HedgeBlobs. After the original, a smaller HedgeBlob was discovered! While vacationing in Maine, we made a trip to Acadia National Park and look what was hiding under a mushroom!
She is now referred to as Mama Blob, the loving partner of HedgeBlob. Things have been a bit lovey-dovey around here, because there is already a teeny-tiny Baby Hedge...

It's a truly happy family :)

Rhinebeck is around the corner so sweater knitting has been very important as well. I didn't quite have the chance to knit a brand new sweater, but I did recently finish a lovely new sweater - Metro Cardigan knit in a beautiful grey color of Valley Yarns Valley Superwash. I couldn't be happier with how it turned out! I've never been more proud of my finishing work. I'll be sporting it on Sunday at Rhinebeck, for those of you trying to find us at Rhinebeck Bingo :)

I'm also about half-way through my Snapdragon Tam to catch up with the other girls! We have a drive up to Webs in Massachusetts and then on to Rhinebeck for the New York Sheep and Wool Festival tomorrow, so lots of knitting time to get it done in time to wear it!

As an aside, Adam has also contributed to the knitting world. Everyone, meet Squishy! He's my adorable little buddy...I came home to find him on my pillow after a trip away. Just had to share :)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Hexipuffing Along

Jess here again. There's less than a week until Rhinebeck, so things are getting a bit hectic at WLKA headquarters. Claire and Kendra are working hard to finish their Snapdragon Tams and some sweaters before the big day. I'm an obsessive planner, so I'm already finished. As I mentioned in my previous post, I'm trying to avoid a new project before our trip. Thus, I have continued my hexipuff adventures! hexipuffs! So far, I'm really happy with my color palette. I guess I just have a well-curated stash of sock yarn! These are the yarns that I've used thus far:
  • Green gradient: Schoppel-Wolle Zauberball in Summer Meadow
  • Dark gray: Dream in Color Smooshy in Gray Tabby
  • Light gray: Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in Smokestack
  • Black and white stripes: Crystal Palace Panda Silk in Granite Tones (a gift from Claire!)
  • Navy: Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in Ink
  • Gray/lime/purple stripes: Studio Avenue Six Self-Striping in Purple/Gray/Green
  • Teal: Shibui Sock in Peacock
  • Burgundy sparkles: Dream in Color Starry in Gothic Rose
  • Pink: Noro Kureyon Sock in 188
  • Black/purple/teal: Alchemy Juniper in Underwater Moonlight

I made the chart for the key, but I found the fox and raven (as well as tons of other great charts) in this Ravelry thread. I'm going for a woodland/Alice in Wonderland/whimsical theme for my charted puffs, so we'll see how many different designs I can incorporate. I plan on doing a heart, bowtie, glasses, watch, hat, mice, get the idea.

While I'd love to just hexipuff (it's a verb, too!) forever, my Lanesplitter skirt is starring at me from the corner. All I need to do to finish it is whip up the waistband, a task that should be quickly completed. For some reason, I just can't bring myself to do it. I'll probably force myself to pick it up tomorrow and power through so that I can wear it to Rhinebeck as originally intended. Sometimes I like to press deadlines to increase my motivation, and that's exactly what I'm doing here.

Now, it's important for every knitter to have a plan for the next project. I like to have one large and one small project going at the same time. My next sweater will certainly be Levenwick by the brilliant Gundrun Johnston. I want to go with a soft tweed yarn, which I will purchase at Webs on the way to Rhinebeck. I rarely buy sweater quantities of yarn in person (shocking!), so I'm incredibly excited for this adventure. At Rhinebeck itself there will be ample opportunity to sit and knit, preferably with a portable project. I need to decide if I want to make my matching Snapdragon Flip Tops or if I want to begin the ever-popular Ishbel (in the Scarlet shade of Tosh Merino Light). The weather might dictate which yarn weight I go with, but I'd love to hear your opinions!

ETA: Immediately after publishing this post, I picked up my Lanesplitter. It only took two hours to finish! Expect a post on it in the near future.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Cold Snap(dragon)

Jess here again, and I have to say that the Snapdragon Tam whipped up in a flash! I really wanted my cables to pop, so I decided to do a full wet block. Instead of stretching it over a dinner plate or bowl, I simply laid it flat to dry on a blocking board to prevent sagging. This definitely opened up the cables well. However, it's been so humid here that it took my hat a full 4 days to dry. That's longer than it's ever taken one of my sweaters to dry!


I'm really happy with how the tam turned out, and I think my sizing ended up perfect. A word on yardage: I know that some people using the recommended yarn (Madelinetosh Tosh DK) have run out of yarn or have come awfully close. I finished the medium (minus 4 or 5 rounds) with a little over 50 yards remaining, so I wasn't even close to this problem. I hope that puts some people at ease!

Now I'm at a bit of a crossroads. I don't have a sweater quantity of yarn, and I refuse to buy any before Rhinebeck. I could try to whip up the matching Snapdragon Mitts for Rhinebeck (which sounds wonderful considering how cold it is here). I should knit the band on my Lanesplitter skirt so that I can call it finished (and, you know, wear it to Rhinebeck). But all I've been doing is knitting hexipuffs! So far I've finished about 12 of them, and I can't get enough. Each is the perfect little size to complete during your lunch break, while watching television, or while riding the train. For a sweater knitter like me, it's nice to have such fast-finish sections of an overall larger project. I'm also happy to finally be using up my sock leftovers! My goal is to only use stash on this quilt. We'll see how it turns out in about a year.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Here There be Dragons (and a Gnome)

Hello all, Claire checking in! I, too, want to apologize for our lack of posting lately. My excuses revolve around my Rhinebeck sweater and vacation - namely that for a week-long cruise to the Bahamas I had no phone or Internet! (I know, how ever did I survive?) I did not get nearly as much knitting done on vacation as I had hoped. There were too many things to do, and even on the lower decks, being on a ship is very windy, and the spray from the boat made my knitting a bit damp! I did get a lot of pictures of Napoleon, my Tiny Gnome, roaming all around the ship and our various ports of call. He had quite a grand time, though I suspect my fellow passengers found me a bit odd, posing a tiny stuffed gnome all about the ship.

Below: photo evidence that I did give knitting a go! That was about the only work I got done in the week though. Sun and sand can be exhausting!

Oh, but I did finish my Lanesplitter skirt before leaving! I have since blocked it a bit more to get rid of the slight bias, and to give it more of an A-line shape, but you can get a general idea from the pic below. Although it is just pinned to the mannequin there - her shoulders weren't flexible enough to wiggle it on! Now I just have to figure out what else to wear it with at Rhinebeck.

Since my return we had a long weekend off work, so that really helped me get back to work on Rivel. That, and reading the Yarn Harlot mention that (at that point) there were only 17 days to Rhinebeck!!! I may have yelped a little ... but now I have both fronts finished, and about 1/2 of both sleeves done. I'm knitting both sleeves at once, for speed and to make sure they are exactly the same. It's my first time doing anything 2-at-a-time, but apart from untangling the yarn once in a while I like it! Maybe I'll try a pair of socks next?? Until then, I have the fronts and back blocking, so when they're dry I can seam the shoulders and pick up along the fronts and neck for the ribbed collar.

I've also started my Snapdragon tam, and am maybe halfway done with that. It's nice to take a break from the fairly boring stockinette sleeves on Rivel and do something that requires a bit more thought. Not a lot, you understand, just a bit of chart reading! I did the band on size 4 needles and am doing the body on a size 6, and feeling ok about the sizing so far. Usually with berets I don't do a full wet block, just stretch it over a dinner plate and get the edges and the ribbing a bit damp, then leave it to dry. Hopefully that will also help combat the sagging issues a lot of other knitters encountered.

That's the all the news for now - must get back to knitting!