Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pictures! People like pictures, right?

Now that I have delivered this to its recipient, I can share my latest FO.

This is the blue & green "Raitaritarin Raita-asu/ Striped Outfit for a Stripeknight" (Ravelry project link) I made for Lisa, one of my favorite knitting friends, who is having her first child sometime between Any Day Now and hopefully not too much longer than the middle of next month. We were in Hawaii for her first shower, but the knitting circle at Piedmont Yarn had a shower for her yesterday, which was an awful lot of fun.

This was exactly the project I'd been waiting for to use up the leftover Karabella Aurora 8 (Rav link) from a Tulips cardigan I made a while back for my niece. I thought I might run out of the teal, but wound up with just under 2 ft left. Perfect! I love this yarn; it's a multi-ply construction that some people might find a little splitty, but I don't generally have much problem with that, and it's SOOOO soft and smooth, with great stitch definition and sproinginess. It converted my SIL, who was surprised to hear that it was wool, and previously didn't like knitted wool garments because of the itchiness. It's so smooth, in fact, that when I'm weaving in ends I usually try to go through a strand or two to make sure it will hold.

And here's where I reveal my dirty secret: my model for the sweater is none other than ...
yes, a roll of paper towels. I don't have any babies around to model my baby clothes, so I'm usually scrounging around the house for items to give the clothes a little shape for photos, instead of laying them out flat. I've used 5lb bags of flour3-d wall art, and even martini glasses before. This time? Paper towels. Whatever works, right?

The extra fun part (and the proof that sometimes my good intentions actually work out) of this project was realizing Thursday night that I needed some way to wrap the gift, and wouldn't have time to run out to the store before the shower. I have some fat quarters of pretty colors of quilting cotton, and decided to try my hand at making a Japanese Knot Bag to present the sweater in, something Lisa could use afterwards for a project bag. It was my first attempt, and I basically cobbled together the essentials of several different patterns and tutorials to come up with my best guess effort at it. I'm actually pretty pleased with the result:

I need to work on my stitching technique, especially the handstitching to seal the tops of the handles. I have more fat quarters I plan on using to make more of these and perfect my own version, and Bente at Piedmont Yarn is already asking me to consign them through the shop. We shall see. I need to figure out how to make them better and faster before they would be worth my time to sell.

I do have more pictures to share, and there will be even more after I go tonight to pick up the two floor looms I seem to have acquired. However, all of that can wait for another post.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Knitting Items Of Note

Installment 3 of Stash Knit Repeat's excellent Fit to Flatter series is up, and features lots of patterns from the latest Twist Collective! Stop by and check it out!

While we're at it, one of my very favorite bloggers, Techknitter, has also started a less-regular series of posts about Designing and Fitting Knitwear, the second of which is available this week. Techknitter always does a fabulous job of not only explaining and illustrating how to do something, but also why the yarn or fabric behaves in certain ways. It's gotten to the point where I will check the Techknitting site before I Google when I'm looking for instructions on a technique that's new to me. If I can work up the nerve, I plan to write and ask for permission to use some of the illustrations for the class I'm teaching in July (with full credit and links, of course); I have no idea whether the request will be granted, but regardless, I will be encouraging my students to check out the site.

(By the way, Techknitter has an awesome article on Mastering Kitchener Stitch in the Spring 2010 Interweave Knits that is definitely worth the read!)

Last but not least, Kira K. is a great local designer (she actually lives in my neighborhood) whose designs have been featured in She teaches knitting, crochet, and sewing in many local stores and venues. I took a beaded knitting class from her at Knit One One a couple years ago and really appreciated her informative yet laidback teaching style, and I had a great time helping her out at her booth at Stitches West this spring. She's teaching a series of 4 classes on Knitted and Crocheted Skirts at Piedmont Yarn (Flash warning) starting May 22. If I can make my schedule work AND get over my intention of losing some weight before I try knitting a skirt, I hope to sign up. She's got a variety of skirt patterns to work with a variety of body shapes.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Some meals just don't need gravy, y'know?

Our trip last week was marvelous. We had wonderful accommodations, in spectacular surroundings, and had the opportunity to do so many things that will become life-long memories. Even before we bought the ticket we knew there was no way we could see and do everything we'd have liked to on The Big Island in our one week there, but we had no real concept of just how true that was until we got there. By the middle of the week, we were already trying to figure out how we could arrange to come back and stay for a month, offsetting it with work for a portion of that time. I know how my travel-lust works, and when it comes down to it, it will be difficult to spend the funds on time there instead of someplace I've not yet seen, but even so, we do intend to get back and spend more time there.

It was the perfect blend of relaxation and sightseeing for us. And all those good intentions that kept creeping up? I didn't do a single one of them. Well, beyond getting three repeats into the Betty cardigan before realizing it was going to be way off gauge, and frogging it until I could get home. I'm actually kind of proud of myself for not trying to force more activities into my week. I needed the break, and I needed to take some time off, from everything.

Getting home, though, was challenging. We were on a United red-eye, and even though, after the miserably cramped trip out, we had sucked it up and paid for the upgrade to Steerage Plus with its 'extra 5" of legroom,' the seats were so uncomfortable neither of us got any sleep. (I am still trying to figure out how to phrase my choice comments for the customer survey they asked me to fill out. "Bait and switch" and "never again" will definitely be in there.) When we did finally arrive at home, we discovered to our dismay that despite the fact that we had a catsitter staying the entire time we were gone, our cat had gotten himself into a dreadful state and had to be rushed into the emergency vet. We very nearly lost him, but he is improving at this point. We're hoping he can come home tomorrow, and most of the non-work time since we arrived home has been consumed with dealing with his care. We haven't even finished unpacking yet!

It's time to get back on track with my goals, though; not only do I want to finish this dress before I completely lose momentum on it, I need to finish two baby sweaters in short order (one baby is coming early -- hopefully by Thursday! -- but I won't see him until later in June, so the local baby's sweater is first priority). And then of course restarting that cardigan with the right needle and pattern mods, plus tomorrow I have a local weaving expert coming by to look at my loom and advise me on what needs to be done to get it into working order. Plus all of those photos I need to process -- the remainder from our Oregon trip, all of them from Death Valley, and now Hawaii added on top of it all.

Busy busy already! I'm so glad I had the time to relax in Hawaii. It's what's keeping me going in the chaos since we've been home.