Saturday, December 31, 2011

Knitting into the New Year

Claire here, bidding adieu to the year 2011. It's been an excellent year for me, and hopefully for my fellow bloggers and all of you as well! I've had a wonderful time knitting through WLK2 and being able to discuss problems and design elements with Kendra, Jess and Lindsey has made it even better. We like knitting along together so much that we've got more projects planned for the future. And of course we're eagerly awaiting the arrival of Whimsical Little Knits 3 as well!

Back to the knitting at hand, I have a finished project, and one that is so close I can feel it. While I was home in Michigan just before Christmas I finished the knitting on my Peaks Island Hood. It was especially fun because my mom was also working on the hood!

Mine is the orange Mirasol Miski on the right, mom's is the red-purple yarn she can't remember the name of on the left.

She was having some trouble with the shell shaping on the hood, so I was able to give her some pointers, and it helped having mine there to look at for reference. Even though I finished mine while I was home, I haven't gotten around to weaving the ends in, blocking and sewing the buttons on yet, so my mom technically beat me!! Hopefully that will be my task tomorrow - finish my 100th project on Ravelry in the first day of 2012. I got some lovely maplewood buttons for Christmas that will look great, so keep your eye out for an update post soon!

The other project I can finally share with you is the Emily capelet. This was one that looked cute in the book, but wasn't something I would normally wear. I called up my sister Emily and asked if she would be interested in it. We talked over the yarn requirements and her color requests, and decided on a light worsted-weight wool, or wool blend, in a chocolate brown. And then the quest began. It seemed like every yarn I looked at wasn't a rich enough brown, or it was too semi-solid, or the color was right and the weight was wrong. Finally I hit paydirt (with the help of Jess!) at Rhinebeck in October. I got two skeins of Shadyside Farm Colored by Hand in Chocolate - perfection! I skipped ahead to this project since I wanted to have it to give on Christmas, so I'll have to find a replacement project when the rest of the girls knit it.

This was a fun pattern to knit, with the short row shaping and the fairly easy, but very pretty, lace edging. My only concern while knitting was the yarn - it was so saturated with dye that it came off on my hands, leaving a lovely brown-purple stripe over my index finger where I tension my yarn. I was worried that it would all wash out during blocking and the finished product would be much lighter, but I think it turned out okay. Have to give Emily a warning not to wear it in the rain or with a white shirt though!

I love the drapiness of the yarn too - going through the project gallery on Rav, some capelets looked very short, but I'm pleased with the length of mine. I think it will provide some warmth as well as being super cute.

It hangs a little funny on the mannequin, but I swear it's even in front!

I had to tighten the button holes a little to fit my buttons, and I also added a stabilizing button to the back. A knitter needs a button stash as well as a yarn stash - these were bought years ago at an antique mall, and I never thought I'd have a use for just 3 buttons. Just goes to prove the need for variety in your stash!

I hope you all have a Happy New Year and continued knitting success! I'm off to go put on some sparkly nail polish (it's a party, after all!) and decide which project to bring with me into 2012!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas from Utah

Lindsey here, reporting from beautiful southern Utah. I finally have a minute (on Christmas mind you) to update you all on life and knitting, but mostly life because there isn't much to say about my knitting. I did finally ball a skein of Tosh DK in Copper Penny (purchased from The Loopy Ewe) today for my friend Chelsea's Snapdragon Mitt Replicas. Since I last updated (a long, long time ago) I've basically cast on a sweater (the Silky Alpaca Lace Open Front Cardi to be exact) and knit 1/4 of the body. That's it. In all the months of radio silence, the needles have been pretty quiet as well. At least you didn't miss much there. While I haven't been knitting much, I have been wearing my knits. I swear that right up until I took this picture on my hike this morning I was wearing my Damson AND Ripley, but alas by the end of the hike I was too warm and took them off.

On to life, I'm finally feeling a bit more settled in LA now that I have a job. A job I really, really love. A job doing pretty much what I want to be doing (marketing movies/tv). So what that it's currently freelance (and all that that entails). I look forward to settling in to LA in 2012 (and hopefully being joined in California by a few friends). I love and miss my WLKA-ers! Merry Christmas to all!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Distracted Knitter

Hello, Kendra here checking in from California! It's finally starting to feel like winter (Bay Area style at least) with the temperature dropping to the 30's at night and Christmas lights all around the neighborhood. I can't believe how close Christmas is! In my family we pretty much have a no-gift policy but I'm still thinking of making a few small things - actually teeny-tiny things - in the shape of small knitted magnets. Using the patterns in Anna Hrachovec's Teeny Tiny Mochimochi, I knit the little critters and then put a magnet inside when I'm stuffing them. It took some searching to find the right magnets, but the super-strong metal ones are working well. They are proving to be great gift knitting because they only take an hour or two each and it's encouraging to keep knitting them because of how cute they turn out!

These monkeys were made for a friend of mine for his birthday. He's a zookeeper and works with primates, so monkey magnets seemed like the obvious choice. The funniest part to me is that the tan one turned out looking slightly evil, something about his eyes...

Unfortunately, my Llama Hood is being a bit neglected as I work on these tinies and some other projects, but I have made some progress, finally finishing the 28" of seed stitch!

It's time to move onto the hood increases, but I've been distracted by other projects instead. One distraction continuing progress on my much-neglected Estelle Cardigan, made in my beautiful Tart MadTosh DK. I decided to knit the sleeves 2-at-a-time and before I knit the rest of the body for two reasons:
  1. It's much easier to knit top-down sleeves before the body is completed so you don't have a finished sweater in your lap while you try to knit sleeves.
  2. I hate knitting sleeves! They take forever and they are soooo boring! I'm actually excited to knit the body and collar so that served as motivation - if I finish the sleeves I can knit the body as a reward. Then the finished sweater is that much closer to being done!
I finished the sleeves (finally!) and now I'm back to the body. This really is going to be a lovely sweater.

    Additionally, I've suddenly become an obsessed sock knitter! I found some very cool MCN sock yarn at Michael's of all places and it inspired me to finally knit some new socks. I'm making them pretty simple - worked a rounded toe using these instructions, then working a 2x1 rib across the top of the foot. I'm doing an after-thought heel so I can just keep happily knitting along without gusset shaping. I'm already past the heel on one sock and making my way up the foot of the second (I work back and forth between the first and second sock as I go - that way I remember what I did so they match, and I avoid the dreaded Second Sock Syndrome!) I'm pretty happy with how they are looking so far!
    Alright, time to say goodbye - all this talk about knitting has my fingers itching to keep at it! Just have to decide which is going to get my attention for now...

    Friday, December 2, 2011

    Hood on the Road

    Claire here, welcoming you to the month of December!

    I hope your holiday knitting is going well, if you've taken the plunge this year. I hope you've chosen your recipients wisely as well! Gifting a knitted item is never as simple as handing the package over with a "Hope you like it!" You have to make sure your giftee knows the care requirements for the item and will fully appreciate the hours of work that went into it. Not just the knitting of the thing, but all the time spent picking the right pattern and yarn and (how agonizing!) picking a color. And after a bit of time has passed, you check in with the recipient, see how they like it, is the fit okay, have they worn it out. It's that last bit that is important - if they haven't worn the item, without prodding, in at least a month from the time of gifting, you may want to reconsider giving them another knitted gift the next time a holiday comes around. At least that's how I feel about it! You have to make sure that the giftee will really, truly, fully appreciate the time you put into this, the care and love put into each row. Especially compared to the ease of online shopping, where you can purchase something, have it gift wrapped and sent directly within the space of a few minutes, putting hours - or weeks - into a project represents a big investment. So, really, the best people to give knitted gifts to are knitters!

    That's who I'm doing the bulk of my knitterly gifting for this year. Apart from a giant amigurumi Mr. Krabs (his body took a full bag of stuffing!) for my boyfriend, I am knitting for my fellow knitters - my mom, my sister, and maybe some co-authors of a certain blog. I know they will cherish the items they receive, keep them clean and safe from moths, and wear them without pestering from me.

    As such, gift knitting has taken up most of my time in the last couple weeks, so I don't have a lot of pictures to show you! I did get to take the Peaks Island Hood with my on my Thanksgiving trip to visit my sister Emily in North Carolina, but was plagued with camera-forgetfullness. After a loooong bus trip down, we had a delicious Thanksgiving dinner with her friends in the next town over, necessitating a trip through some very windy mountain roads! We got to spend some time grooming her horse, playing with the dogs and chasing down her cats to cuddle with. Of course I had to make a stop at Earth Guild, a very cool yarn/crafting store. They have so much to look at, you could easily spend hours wandering about. In the evenings we sat in the kitchen by the wood stove, knitting and eating some more tasty pumpkin pie. I thought I would be bored by the 28" of seed stitch, but it made for good mindless knitting, and the Miski yarn is so soft and smooshy that it seemed to fly by.

    This picture is a couple days old - I have completed the hood increases and am now working on the 9" between that and the hood decreases. Sadly it has to compete with something else from the trip - scores of books picked up at the Goodwill outlet! I was very excited to find three of Gladys Taber's books in the .59 cent per pound bin. I have fond memories of reading and re-reading her book Especially Dogs from the elementary school library, even though we have never owned a dog. I'm keeping the book confined to my bag to read on the train, so hopefully I can have all my gifts done on time, and a hood to wear now that it's getting properly cold out!