Tuesday, January 30, 2007

smitten with knitting

circles yoke sweater in process

Another cold night in new england makes a pile of wool on your lap a happy thing! Here she is maybe halfway through the yoke design. I'm pretty enamoured with the way the yoke design is coming out so far. It's a little hard to visualize when you're plotting out the chart. In a last minute color/yarn move, I switched the green peace fleece I was going to use for the background of the second stripe with pinky red mission falls wool left over from another project. I wasn't sure about the green and I really like the combination of the light blue and pinky red. It's pretty chilly out here so I'm hoping to wear it soon.


Monday, January 29, 2007

just a tease

seamless yoke in progress

Knit a whole sleeve this weekend, connected all the parts together and started on the yoke design. The phrase coming to mind is "pleased as a pickle". I'm guessing that can't be right - maybe pleased as punch? pleased as pie? anyway I'm pleased with the current results - stay tuned!


Friday, January 26, 2007

the problem is revealed...

I've discovered a problem, one that I've tried not to acknowledge in the hopes that it will go away. But it doesn't. The problem you ask? The problem is that I come up with things I want to knit, especially sweaters, complicated sweaters knit on tiny toothpick needles; and discover yarn that I need to own and fondle and knit into the tiny gauge sweaters SO VERY MUCH FASTER than I can actually knit. The ratio is completely off. Yesterday I flirted with Lisette in Rowan 36 for a bit on the internet, then fell in love all over again with Rogue, ooh la la, visited other knitters stash yarn on Flickr, thought about 3 other projects and actually only knit approximately 3" of one sleeve of the seamless yoke sweater. sigh.

But in dwelling upon it more, this may not be such a horrible problem. I spend a lot of my time knitting actually also designing, modifying, and tweaking the next project(s) in my mind. And probably the more time I spend considering how I'm going to construct something and what I'm going to make it out of, makes it a better finished piece. And I can edit out the sweaters that don't make the cut, sweaters that might be fun to knit but I would never wear. Or sweaters that might be soooo dreadfully boring to knit, that I would wear and enjoy but I could get them from the store. Plus there is the BUDGET which really limits the amount of yarn I purchase. This is also a good thing. I'm much better now at buying yarn for a specific project (that I've mulled over in my head), not just because the temptress yarn skein is soft and beautiful. So I have a pretty small stash and a big pile of ideas.

tiny lined bags.jpg

Because all posts need a photo here's one of little knit bags I make out of leftover yarn in an effort to keep the stash small. Depending on the wool they might be felted. I usually line them with fabric and sew a zipper in by hand. Immediate gratification!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

slow but steady progress

Not too much to report over here in the land of wool, just slooow but steady progress.

seamless yoke sleeve

Here is the state of affairs with the seamless yoke sweater. As you can see I'm almost at the end of the first sleeve. I'm using 2 24" knitpicks options circular needles. I used an invisible cast on (in the light blue) and knit the first round in lime green for a contrasting edging. This is probably the most color accurate photo for the heathered burgundy yarn. I'm hoping to finish this and the other sleeve this weekend and then the fun can begin with the multicolored yoke. I'm still trying to work out short rows additions for the back to make the sweater fit better - I'll keep you all posted...

e's sweater swatch new color

On my trip to Providence last week, I stopped at A Stitch Above and found other color to use on e's sweater for the edge bands instead of the gold. Of course I only bought one skein, which probably won't be enough, so I'll have to get another one. This swatch is hard to photograph, its so affected by any other color around it!

cones of yarn for e's sweater

Here is a photo of the cones themselves from WEBS. They are each over a pound, so I think I'll have enough. Now I just need to finish that pattern math so I can get started.

cena disturbed from eternal napping

I'll leave you with a shot of Cena, in a brief moment of awakeness. She's been in training for a sleep marathon....


Monday, January 22, 2007

mindless but fun knitting

Because it was freezing cold this weekend and I've turning into a hibernating stay at home sloth, I spent a large amount of this weekend sipping warm tea and knitting. Mindless fun knitting of the large needle variety which makes for great movie watching. I managed to knit almost the entire body of the seamless yoke sweater. I got the knit picks options circular needles I ordered in the mail last week and away we went.

seamless yoke body

If you look closely you can see a bit of waist shaping. It's rolling up at the bottom while it waits for its finishing folded hem. The color is a bit off, its so gray and dreary today, but the forecast is not promising any sunny photogenic days so these photos will have to do. The yarn is a beautiful heathered burgundy and more red than pictured. I'm liking the knit picks needles. They are perfect for this kind of yarn, pretty much like using really pointy addis turbos. I don't think I would like them for colorwork, but that's a personal opinion, I need something a bit more sticky for that like wood.

seamless yoke chart

Here a peek at the design I've been working on for the yoke.

pile of lopi and one peace fleece

And here's a pile of lopi and one peace fleece skein I've been collecting for the yoke. Hopefully I can knit the dreaded sleeves quickly and start on the pretty yoke soon. It's so satisfying to knit on big needles after several small needle projects - super speed results.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

happy design day

paper stack

Yesterday I went down to Providence to pick up a secret project that I've been working on for a year and a bit. In my non-blogging, non-knitting time I'm a graphic designer, and in the past year I've had a chance to explore an area of design that I've always been interested in but not sure how to get into — pattern design. I've been working with a woman who owns a wholesale paper business in Providence to develop an exclusive line of silkscreened papers. And they finally arrived this week at her warehouse from the printers. I'm pretty smitten with the papers and really pleased as punch with how them came out. I think they look great on their own and would look nice used in various combinations for book making or other crafty persuits.

paper swatchbook

Here is a shot of the swatchbook. I developed six different patterns and three different colorways for each of the patterns - 18 different papers in all.

paper labels detail

I took some shots of the papers still packaged in the warehouse. As you can see the printers labeled each of the packages with scraps of the papers. Pretty!

end section of stack

big ole paper stack.jpg

I'll post better photos of the designs in the next day or so when the sunlight returns.

If you're interested in getting any of these papers, the following stores will be carrying at least some of them. They may not have them in stock yet, as they are being shipped out this week.

Wet Paint
St. Paul, MN

Art Media
Portland, OR

New York Central Art Supply
New York, NY

The Paper Studio
Tempe, AZ

Santa Fe, NM

C C Lowell
Worcester, MA

Monday, January 15, 2007

weekend activity

It was pretty wet and dreary over here this weekend, perfect for knitting and final touches. I managed to find some buttons for the baby kangaroo raglan and make a label by embroidering on ribbon that matches the insides of the buttonbands. I'm liking the homemade, homespun look. I'm really pleased with the way this project turned out. I got to learn how to make a raglan sweater (new skill) and work more on finishing details and my fledgling embroidery skills.

baby raglan label

I also hunkered down a made a swatch for e's sweater. A few weeks ago we went to WEBS and poked around in the warehouse section to see if they had any yarn that Elliott might fancy for his sweater. We found some nice cones of fingering weight wool in a natural and a slighty varigated blue. The blue is one strand of dark navy and one strand that changes every couple of inches from yellow to purple to teal to blue.

e's sweater new swatch

I tried knitting sections of both the designs on 2's or 3.0mm needles. In order to get a more accurate swatch and to simulate knitting in the round I break the yarn after every row and start over. This can make for a pretty time consuming swatch. Because the yarns were from cones, and ready to be machine knit. they were slightly oiled, thin and a bit slippery. If you're using yarn from cones, you really need to wash the swatch and let it dry to get an accurate gauge. When the oil washes off the yarn blooms and expands, really becoming a nice fabric. I'm getting about 8 stitches to an inch, so now its time to do the math and write the pattern. I'm also playing around with the color of the borders for the bottom band pattern. I'm not sold on the golden yellow, as it clashes a bit with the redder tone of the natural yarn. Maybe olive green? any ideas?

Friday, January 12, 2007

kangaroo raglan sweater

baby raglan with kangaroo

I've had a lot of fun making this baby raglan sweater and even though it needs buttons and even a label, I'm too excited to wait until its completely finished before I show it off. Here she is for your enjoyment!

kangaroo detail

Note the cute little felt hand-embroidered kangaroo and tiny joey peeking out.

ribbon buttonband detail

Here's a close up of the ribbon backed button bands with whipstiched button holes. Now I just need to find the perfect buttons.

pattern: Ann Budd's Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns
yarn: Snuggly Double Knitting from Sirdar - three colors
needles: 5's
gauge: 20 sts. and 30 rows to 4"
started: December 28th 2006
finished: January 11th 2007
With this little project I've had in the back of my mind all of the beautiful sweaters and clothing that Oilily puts out. I love their bright use of color and pattern. So amazing! And so completely out of my price range! I like the idea of embellishing handmade clothes with special details for both kids and grownups. So I added a felt kangaroo from a vintage stuffed animal pattern that I got from my Grandma - its from 1964, how fun is that?

vintage animal pattern


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

on the drawing board

yoke sweater sketch

Here are some sketches I did last night for a seamless yoke sweater I'd like to knit. In keeping with my new year's resolutions, this is a design I'm making up myself with some handholding from Elizabeth Zimmermann's percentage system. I'm also using up some stash yarn, a big cone of burgandy colored worsted weight wool from WEBS warehouse - mill end yarn from JCrew. I made the Kepler sweater out of it last fall, and somehow I still have a fair amount left. I'm guessing enough for 3/4 of a sweater about my size - hence the plan for a seamless yoke sweater with a fun multi-color pattern on top. I'm liking sweaters like this or this or this.

I'm thinking burgandy on the bottom with interlocking circles of robin's egg blue on stripes of lime green and bright green separated by a lighter rosier shade of the burgandy. I'm going to use lopi for the other yarn, and maybe hem the collar with alpaca or cashmere so its not so itchy.

I've never made a seamless yoke sweater so I'm excited to get started. I even swatched to make sure of the gauge! But I need some needles and I thought this might be a good project to try the circular options from KnitPicks - anyone out there ever used them?


Sunday, January 07, 2007

never ending yarn and resident cat

Not a huge amount of knitting going on right at the moment as I'm battling with an annoying cold. But some progress is being made on projects that don't require much brain power. Which would be either working on mates for two different socks - but why do that when I can start a new project? Which brings us to the baby raglan cardigan. Ages ago - no really, like 4 years ago - I knit a baby sweater for a friend's first baby (she's on her third baby now!). Made a sweater in the 3-6 month size. Somehow tons of yarn left over. Made another baby sweater out of the same yarn pile. Still lots of yarn left. I'm a bit tired of the yarn but feel committed to using it up. That plus I've been wanting to try making a raglan sweater, so I guesstimated how much yarn I might have and have been knitting along with Ann Budd's Handy book of sweater patterns to guide me along in making a sweater that will fit a 1-2 year old. I'm almost at the top and you know what - still a decent amount of yarn remains! ugh!

baby striped raglan cardigan -- in progress

Here's what it looked like on Saturday, outside in the freakishly 70 degree warm weather, january in new england! Your basic striped cardigan, sleeves knit in the round, body knit back and forth, joined together and knit back and forth. The edging is seed stitch, and I'm thinking that I'll sew ribbon onto the backsides of the buttonbands to class it up a bit and maybe add a felt squirrel to one side for fun.

raglan cardigan stripe detail

Here you can see the raglan decreases and the fun way that the stripes are matching up. Very satisfying indeed.

cena portrait

It occurs to me that there is one last resident at chez yarnbee who has not gotten any mention on the blog. Not for any particular reason other than she tends to be curled up somewhere sleeping when the camera is out documenting the knitting. This is Queen Cena, the calico tabby. It may seem strange that we have a small parrot and a kitty, but that is what happens when a girl and her cockatiel marry a boy and his cat. In a good twist of fate, both of these creatures seem to have no natural instincts and for the most part they seem oblivious of each other. On the off chance that they may encounter each other on the sofa in a supervised manner, Cena likes to sniff Syd and Syd will either wolf-whistle in response or scramble up my arm to get a better look at this strange non-birdlike creature.

cena in her yoga pose

Cena's main job is sleeping which causes her to be very tired for the few hours she is awake. She also practices kitty-yoga in the sun.

cena & cat toy

Cena has a number of handknitted catnip filled mice and generally looks pretty stoned after playing with them.

cena in pie

And when she is exhausted she spends time on her kitty pi bed.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

the last of the sneaky christmas knitting revealed:

squirrel mitts - frontsides

squirrel mittens for elliott!

pattern: modified version of Squirrel and Oak Mittens by Hello Yarn
I love this pattern from Hello Yarn and wanted to make a version for my husband who has a soft spot for squirrels. I think not such a soft spot for the oak leaves so I decided to make two squirrel mittens

Telemark in Northern Green and Chestnut from Knitpicks

needles: no. 3's - used 2 - 24" circulars to knit in the round

gauge: 6 sts. and 8 rows to 1"

started: November 22

finished: December 19

modifications: The pattern is written to fit a woman, so I took graph paper and redrew the pattern chart based on the size of elliott's hands, keeping the gauge the pattern calls for to keep the detail in the squirrel. I also could have used heavier weight yarn to make a larger size, but I guess that would have been too easy! I knit the second mitten in reverse so the squirrels would face each other. The final mitten size is 4 1/2" wide by 11" tall (to the tip of the point).

squirrel mitts - backsides

squirrel mitts detail

squirrel mitt in action

Monday, January 01, 2007

happy 2007 to you

pomatomus sock

Here's what I've been knitting mostly over the holidays on planes and in airports. It's the pomatomus sock from the winter 2005 knitty. This may be the most fun to knit sock I've ever made. Which I guess isn't that impressive of a statement, I think altogether I've made 3 pairs of basic socks - fun yarn, toe up, basic heel, bored after turning the heel and I've made one pair of simple lacy socks. When I'm following a pattern, I love figuring out what the designer was thinking. I love seeing lines of ribbing turn gracefully into a beautiful cabled pattern, to see color games played out in stranded knitting and how k2t and ssk's can work together to make beautiful symmetrical decreases. This pattern by Cookie is one of those brillant patterns that makes me so happy to knit it. I was entertained to the end of the first sock. The pattern is basically so simple to knit and so elegant and complex looking. And better yet it work so well construction-wise for a sock fabric. It's very stretchy, essentially lacy ribbing, and makes a comfortable sock to wear. Now I just have to hope that I have enough yarn to finish the second sock. I'm using some handpainted yarn I got on my honeymoon on Prince Edward Island, and I used a small amount in another project (not sure what I was thinking!) so I've made the sock a bit shorter on the top half - we'll see. I'll either be way short or have tons left over.

Now I'm generally not one to make new year's resolutions. The last time I did was 2001 when I decided I wanted to learn how to knit and drive stick shift (not at the same time). I happened to mention this to my mom and she said " You want to learn how to knit right now?" And I thought "wait, it's only the 27th of December, it's too early!" but I let her show me how to cast on and ten minutes later I was knitting. True story. The stick shift training didn't go nearly as well, and since my car is automatic, I'm not sure how much I've retained. Funny how no one is volunteering their manual car for me to find out! But I still have the highly addictive knitting. So there you are.

This year, at least knittingwise, I want to be a better knitter. I want to make better fitting garments. I think I'm finally ready to design some sweaters on my own. I'd like to explore colorwork and construction details. I'd like to be better at altering patterns to fit me, and to make some of the incredible patterns out there by all you talented designers. And I'd like to do more spinning and maybe even flirt with a spinning wheel, maybe take one out on a date.

In general I think I'd like this year to be a year of balance. I'd like to work a little less and workout a little more. To cook a little more and eat a bit more green and less beige. To enjoy the present moment instead of mulling over worst-case scenarios in the crazy side of my mind that never happen anyway. To make some room for some bigger dreams. Happy new year to you all!