Friday, November 25, 2011

Knitting Disappointments

Nobody knits to create stress. Unfortunately, things outside of our control can quickly take knitting from relaxing to infuriating.

First, I had the worst time ever choosing yarn for Levenwick. I'm usually pretty decisive about these things, so not being able to select a yarn, let alone a color, was mind-boggling. After purchasing a few sweater quantities (which will all be put to good use), I finally settled on the recommended yarn, Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in Homemade Jam.

This brings me to my second piece of stress. As much as I love the tweedy shades and wooly hand of this yarn, I just can't get over the sheer quantity of vegetable matter (or VM, as we say in the biz)! For those not in the know, VM is the general term for hay, wood, and other goodies that may make it into your yarn from the fleece. While I can tolerate a little bit of VM (sheep aren't the cleanest animals, after all), I cannot justify spending a pretty penny on yarn that is absolutely ravaged by it. Here's how much I pulled out of less than half a skein:

vegetable matter

When I contacted Brooklyn Tweed about this, they were sincerely apologetic and offered to replace my yarn in the same dye lot. Hooray! Except when I received the yarn, it had just as much VM as my old skeins. Sigh. So now I'm knitting a sweater in yarn that is making me very angry, but I can't let myself admit defeat. I worked too hard to select this yarn, dammit.

And finally, here's my last disappointment. I ordered 3 skeins of yarn for my Peaks Island Hood, but only 2 were available. That means I'll have to wait until at least Monday, maybe Tuesday, to get the yarn and start the project. I guess that gives me more time to begrudgingly trudge through Levenwick, right?

Now that I've gotten that out of my system, I can focus on enjoying my knitting (no matter how much VM I must pluck from it). Maybe I'll cast on a beautiful shawl for myself to make up for my recent string of annoyances. Sometimes you just have to treat yourself.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Twin Mitts

One of the best (and worst) things a knitter can hear is, "Can you make that for me?" Often, people don't understand the time and the energy involved in knitting something (let alone the time and cost of the beautiful yarn). But when my twin sister requested a pair of Snapdragon mitts, I knew I had to say yes. She hasn't always been appreciative of my knitted gifts; she considers them "cheating" because they're not store-bought. Yet when she spotted my Snapdragons, she sheepishly asked, "Can I commission a pair from you?"

Snapdragon Mitts

Now, I've accumulated at least 4 sweater quantities of yarn in the last month or so (whoops), so I've been looking to destash. Luckily, I had some beautiful Candlewick Madelinetosh DK leftover from my Acorns sweater. I also had some spare owl buttons, so away I went.

Snapdragon Mitts finished

I definitely learned a lot from knitting these mitts the first time, so I made some beneficial changes. The most significant change was to knit the first 25 rounds or so on size 5 needles. This tightened up the wrists to prevent gaping.


I went down even further -- to a size 3 -- for the i-cord. This was to make sure that my button tabs are super durable. I also shortened them by several stitches to accommodate my smaller buttons. (Bonus: Check out the friendship bracelet Claire made me! We traded bracelets 5 or 6 months ago, and they're still going strong. Hooray!)

Overall, I think these mitts are a rousing success! I had a great time working the pattern again (and using up some of my stash!), so now I can move on to the Peaks Island Hood.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Knitting Nightmares and A Hood Reborn

Kendra here, finally! I can't believe a month has gone by of silence from me. Except I kind of can considering I "pulled a Lindsey" and moved across the country back to California last week, so I present that as my excuse. Luckily I've been needing stress relief so I've at least managed to get a good amount of knitting done even if I haven't been here to talk about it!
 Estelle Cardigan in Progress
 Tiny Dino!
 Teeny Tiny Froggie!
 Tiny Penguin Buddies, with the help of my friend Dana
Orchid Thief Shawlette

I had a nightmare the other night related to knitting. I was back in New York and traveling home from the airport on the subway (with you, Jess, for some reason...) but somehow I got off the train and forgot my suitcase. My only concern about my departing suitcase was, "All of my hand knit lace shawls are in there!" Hilarious, right? I can't even put into words how great my sense of loss and panic was. Generally when I fly I make a point of not only putting my jewelry in my carryon bag, but also my knit shawls. Apparently those are the two things I am most worried about if the airline loses my luggage.

The sad part of all this is that I have actually lost my knitwear on the subway in a way very similar to this dream, except it was my Peaks Island Hood that was the tragic loss. Before this Whimsical Little Knit-Along started I had already knit this lovely hood. I wore it constantly to weather the NYC winter last year, until it was left behind on a subway car (on my birthday, no less!) and realized as the doors closed and the train pulled away. To add insult to injury, the yarn was an awesome llama yarn (Mirasol Miski) that my boyfriend had given me as a birthday present when we first started dating. I also referred to it as the magic yarn because he gave me 3 skeins, but I needed 2 more to finish the project. He had gotten the yarn at a store in California in 2008, but I was able to find the extra skeins in the same dyelot at a store in New York in early 2010. Sweet! Then it turned out I needed yet one more skein which was proving difficult to find, but I finally caught a break at Stitches East 2010 where again - same dyelot! Magical yarn I tell you! Until the finished hood ran away from me.

But now the Peaks Island Hood will rise from the ashes - and the magic of this yarn continues. Since all the yarn and hood-losing drama, the color (Coral) I had used was discontinued so replacing my hood exactly wasn't going to happen. I searched for it online and in every yarn store I came across since losing it last winter to no avail. Then this summer I was in Cape Cod with my boyfriend, driving through a small town when I spotted a yarn store! Knowing what that means, he parked so I could check it out - and to my amazement they not only carried Mirasol Miski, but had the Coral color and IT WAS ON SALE! Closing out the discontinued color :) My heart sang as I walked out with my six skeins in hand - the Llama Hood will be once more!

Since we got this knit-along going I've been anxious to knit the Peaks Island Hood again, especially after my travels this summer actually took me past Peaks Island in Maine.
I've convinced my fellow knitters to skip ahead so this past Friday was finally the day - time to cast on for the Peaks Island Hood! Although I'm not quite looking forward to returning to NYC in January in full-on winter mode, armed with this hood I'll be ready to take it on!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Snap to it!

Claire here, checking in with a progress update! I've finished my Snapdragon Mitts, so now the weather is free to get properly cold. NYC cannot make up its mind to be rainy and chilly, or to be sunny and warm - it makes deciding what to wear very frustrating. Luckily with the flip top on the mitts, I have built in AC for my hands!

The one thing that does bug me about this - okay, there are two things. The first is that with the tops buttoned up, you can't see the pretty design on the back of the hand! I know Kendra had made noises about putting the chart on the bottom of the mitt as well, since she will likely wear hers flipped most of the time. If that's still the plan, I look forward to her notes! The other thing that is slightly annoying is the positioning of the mitt top. It comes quite far over above the thumb and doesn't extend far enough over on the outside edge. I don't think it will impact the wearability of the mitts, but if I make these again, I think I will move the top over about 2 stitches.

Sadly that is the only picture I have for this post! I had attempted to start the Metro cardigan with some yarn from my stash, but my gauge was doing crazy things. Then I realized it's nearly Thanksgiving here, which means it's almost December and I should really get to work on some Christmas presents! Since my mom and sister read the blog (Hi RuthAnn and Emily!!) I can't very well post about their projects, except to say that I have started them. I am also working on a Mr. Krabs amigurumi for my boyfriend Jean, who is a big SpongeBob fan. It's going well, but there is so much single crochet!!!

Luckily for you, we're almost ready to start the next WLK2 project! We're switching things up a bit and jumping to the Peaks Island Hood, so we can all have them to wear in the dreary days of January. I've got a loooovely yarn planned for that - if only I can remember to take some pictures! If all goes according to plan, we will start this Friday and hopefully get several more posts in before the end of the year.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Flipping Out

What's a girl to do when an epic, historic snowstorm ruins Halloween weekend? Why, knit the Snapdragon Flip-Tops, of course!


To match my Snapdragon Tam, I whipped these up in Madelinetosh Tosh DK in French Grey. And to make myself feel better about the gloom and doom, I added some very special buttons.


These sparkling beauties were already in my (ever-growing) button stash, and I'm thrilled to use them on this project. A note about button stability: it can be difficult making buttons secure on knitted fabric. This goes double for shank buttons. I always sew a plain shirt button on the wrong side of my project. That way, the real button is resting flat against something hard and stable (the shirt button) as opposed to something pliable (the knitted fabric). Super easy, right?

And now that I've gotten the pretty pictures out of the way, I want to offer some advice on the construction of these mitts. Both Claire and I find the wrists to be a bit loose. That's because the pattern starts with ribbing, but the stitch count quickly increases when you create the buds. To combat this, I'd recommend dropping down a needle size for the wrists. I used the recommended size 6 for the entire project, and that's my only regret. While the wrists aren't too loose to wear, I'd be happier if the winter chill couldn't get in quite so easily.

My final piece of advice deals with picking up stitches for the flip-top. Ysolda recommends using a double-pointed needle to pull your stitches through the knitted fabric. I knit really tightly, so I decided to use a crochet hook instead. This made the process super fast and easy! All you have to do is use a crochet hook to catch your yarn on the wrong side.

Crochet hook

Then pull the stitch through to the right side. Here's what it looks like when all of the stitches are picked up:

Picked up stitches

So simple! Then all you have to do is slide the stitches onto your knitting needle, and you're ready to knit the flip-top. Apologies for the low quality phone photos, but I think they illustrate my point.

Now that the gloves are done, I'm going to wait on Claire (and hopefully Kendra!) to finish theirs up, too. Come on, ladies!