Another WIP Wednesday

Today’s WIPs are one that is really a pseudo-WIP, some previous and still WIPs, and a new, exciting WIP (at least for me). First up, the pseudo-WIP. I have two balls of aqua La Gran from my stash that I thought might make a nice gift scarf. I found what looked like a pretty mohair scarf pattern. The pattern mentions La Gran and several finer weight mohair yarns. After starting it in La Gran, I realized the pretty picture is of a finer weight mohair, and the La Gran just won’t do here.

IMG_1032.JPG
In two dimensions the lace looks pretty good, but the solid diamonds are really dense, like wads of mohair. Not pretty. It’s got to go; the goat wants its mohair back if the other option is this scarf.

Moving up the scale of positive news, the CTH peacock socks for my friend Nancy are progressing. I am suffering from some SSS, but that will vanish as soon as I get the leg done. I really want to get these socks to Nancy, but the last few days my hands get tired knitting with the size 1 needles, so progress lags.

IMG_1030.JPG

I haven’t had much time to work on the La Gran Lilac cardigan, but the second sleeve is started. I have some buttons on order that I hope will look great; I hope they arrive soon so I can show you. I kept in mind the purple beaded jewelry I have, I want the buttons to work well with it.

I worked on the Trellis lace scarf. I’ve used 20 g of the first ball (each ball is 56 g), and unblocked the scarf is 14 inches long. I figure that means I should get about a 70 inch scarf (unblocked) if I want. Nifty. I don’t know if I’ll go that long, but it’s good to realize that I’m not going to get to 3 feet and be out of yarn.

IMG_1033.JPG

I just have to add a note about the needles I’m using for this project. I love them! Can you see how pointy the tips are? They are an old plastic pair of Chester needles my Grandma Frances gave me. They are magic plastic–very slick and warm. I also have a pair of size 5s from her. I liked these so much, I googled Chester knitting needles and found some for sale at ebay, but they were parts of large lots of used needles most of which were the nasty colored aluminum.

On the most exciting WIP front, I have started the Diamond Fantasy Shawl by Sivia Harding! I’ve finished the first chart (only 35 rows); I had to rip back two rows once, but then I paid more attention and I do seem to have made a lace diamond like the pattern’s photo, and the edging looks right too.

IMG_1029.JPG
This is my first non-rectangular lace and I’m inordinately thrilled to be knitting a triangle. The DFS is knit from the bottom tip to the top, so after this I want to do a top-down triangle shawl. I have several patterns on hand to try, but I am leaning toward Susan’s Forest Canopy Shawl. I have a few possible yarn choices for that, but the DFS comes first. I first saw the DFS at Carolyn’s blog; hers is gorgeous. Actually, everything Carolyn knits is gorgeous. I learned of her through Grumperina. I love how knitters refer to other knitters and we all get to know each other and our knitting.

Well, if want to be able to show good WIP progress next Wednesday, I better stop blogging and get back to knitting.

Exploring the Knitting Blogosphere

I don’t really like the word “blogosphere” but I am going to use it out of sheer perversity. Today I visited Beth’s blog and found out that of all the shades of orange she is a pumpkin. So I clicked on her link, and low and behold,

You are Apricot

Soft and sweet, over time you let your provocative nature shine through.
You are definitely unconventional, but you don’t broadcast it.
You offer people a fresh perspective on life – so fresh that it can be shocking!

From there I found out,

You Are Whiskey

You’re a tough drinker, and you take it like a man
That means no girly drinks for you – even if you are a girl
You prefer a cold, hard drink at the end of the day
Every day, in fact. And make that a few.

I seem a bit conflicted, no?

After all this fun, I went to one of my favorite knitting blogs, Grumperina, a fabulous knitter and writer as well as a fellow scientist. On Saturday she posted a knitterly meme and wanted others to take part. Today she expressed disappointment that so few people had done so. I had planned to take part on Sunday when I first saw the meme, but had laundry to do, but I see I had better do it NOW! So, without further ado…

10 Knittery Things You Didn’t Know About Me, a meme

1. My love of seed stitch could be called an obsession. I love any sweater pattern that has seed stitch diamonds independent of any other considerations, such as having 3 sleeves–I’d still consider knitting it.
2. I knit Continental kind of. I hold the yarn differently than I’ve seen anywhere else, but I’ve never had the even gauge issues that are supposed to plague Continental knitters, so I’m not changing.
IMG_1026.JPG IMG_1024.JPG
3. My first FO was a pair of mittens knit flat using Ruhama’s pattern from the 1970s my Grandma Frances gave. Grandma Frances is now 95 and still knits children’s mittens with this pattern for chaity. She knits several dozen pairs a year. I hope I can still knit (and breathe) when 95.
4. I’ve never read anything written by Elizabeth Zimmerman. I looked at one of her books at a bookstore and she mentioned hating to purl. I closed the book and put it back. This may have to do with #1 on this list. I now realize that I may have been hasty in my judgement.
5. It’s taken me nearly 43 years of living to realize that I don’t look good in crewneck sweaters. It took me very little time to realize that the vast majority of pullover sweater patterns have a crew or turtleneck (turtle is even worse).
6. I’ve knit lots of scarves but I’ve never kept one for myself. This is about to change.
7. In the basic knitting class I took, I made my intarsia fish with two tales and no head. I have not gone back to intarsia.
8. I think cables and twisted stitches are cool and I am very intrigued with using them functionally in design and in non-traditional ways. Cables on a seed stitch background are the bee’s knees, the cat’s pajamas, etc.
9. Before July I had no idea what a rich, inspirational and fun world the knitting blogosphere is. Now I read knitting blogs almost everyday!
10. I am becoming addicted to knitting lace, and so far I’ve only made lace scarves. I’m a bit concerned as to what will happen when I start a shawl. I have purchased several shawl patterns and several thousand yards of lace weight yarn. My current thinking is that it will not be possible to have too many handknitted shawls and wraps.

FO Show and Tell

Here at Molecular Knitting there are 2 new FOs. Well, one is new, and the other was in hiding until given as a gift. My MIL wanted to knit socks; she knits scarves on very big straight needles. She bought two different balls of Lionbrand self-striping sock yarn and some dpns and went nuts. She couldn’t stand it. So she sent me the yarn and asked me to knit the socks for her. That she tried both balls of yarn I find a bit perplexing. But anyway, I knit the first pair for her this last Spring but not in time for Mother’s Day. So we sent them as part of her birthday gift earlier in September, and she did tell M to thank me for the socks. But she didn’t say how they fit (she had sent her measurements with the yarn). I made M ask her this past Sunday and it turns out she finds them too big in circumference (I made an 8 inch sock for her 9.25 inch foot). But the problem is that she wasn’t going to tell me! I know she didn’t want to hurt my feelings, but as I have the second ball of yarn to knit up for her, I really needed to know how the socks fit. I’ll knit the second pair with fewer stitches and see how that works, but there won’t be any other surprise pairs of socks until I know how the second pair fits. But here is the first, too large pair:

IMG_0974.JPG

On the subject of handknitted Christmas gifts, my mom has some novelty yarn that she tried to knit into a vest, but it just didn’t work out. She figures the yarn wants to be a scarf, but she opined that another scarf was “the last thing she needed,” so the yarn has gone to stash. I guess I won’t think about knitting her a scarf for Christmas. My gift knitting projects are vanishing. More time to knit for me! I think Mom is way too smart to ever say she doesn’t need more jewelry even though she doesn’t. Hmmm….

But my other FO!

IMG_1019.JPG

Don’t you like the bandage?

At first I thought fingerless gloves was to be honest a stupid idea. But then I thought about how cold my fingers get while reading in bed in winter when our thermostat is set at 62 F. Suddenly I saw fingerless gloves in a whole new light. These each took part of an evening to knit on size 10 dpns. The yarn is Misti Alpaca Chunky, and it is super, super, super soft. The pattern was free with the yarn purchase, and it worked pretty well, although I was not overly impressed with the plan for the thumb gusset. I did it as written, and it worked, but I think the Fetching pair from the Summer 2006 Knitty, has a better construction plan. I will have to try that pattern too. On this pair I liked the mock cable made by ktog, leaving both stitches on the left needle and then knitting the first stitch again, slipping both stitches off the needle. It went fast and easy.

The success of these gloves with their missing parts has led me to think about other knits with missing parts. I speak of the shrug. I have really thought the shrug a ridiculous article of clothing, but as with the fingerless glove, I am experiencing a change of heart. I work in a lab that is “environmentally” contolled so well (you should sense the deep sarcasm) that temperatures fluctuate almost wildly and the various areas of the lab have very different microclimates (it’s a pity we don’t work on making wine). A T-shirt or blouse is often too cold, but a cardigan too warm. A shrug just might the answer. I’ll have to ruminate on this some more.

If you need a laugh on Thursdays, be sure to check out Jessica’s blog Rose-Kim Knits. Thursday is dedicated to “What the hell is this?” You have to look at last week’s winner; it’s a beaut.

WIP Wednesday

While familiarizing myself with the knitting blogosphere, I found that many knitters make Wednesday work in progress show and tell. So, since I have some WIPs, I’m game.
First, the pile of completed pieces of the La Gran cardigan grows:

IMG_0997.JPG

I have the first sleeve done, and I have decided to do the second sleeve next. Some might think that is because I am chicken to start the right front with its “reverse shaping” and buttonholes. But it’s really not that at all. I decided to make the second sleeve next because…well, just because.

As for the peacock socks for my friend Nancy, the first sock is done and the second is started:

IMG_0996.JPG

I really like the toe of these socks (Madder Rib from Vintage Socks). It’s a variation of a star toe. I guess I have pointy feet. I hope Nancy does too.

IMG_0992.JPG

I have also worked a little on the trellis lace scarf in the LLSS Black Purl. I’ve pinned the lace a little here to give you a better idea of how the lace will look when blocked. I like how it really looks like little bunches of grapes hanging from a trellis.

IMG_0995.JPG

The CTH potluck brights socks are languishing a bit until I get the peacock socks done, but in the meantime, I couldn’t keep myself from trying the Misti Alpaca I bought on Saturday. I started the cuff of the fingerless gloves:

IMG_0998.JPG

The chunky Misti Alpaca is amazingly soft and easy to knit. The color is richer than the photo due to needing to use the flash (my tripod is on backorder!). The needles are new; they’re Bryspuns that were recommended to me. I am not in love with the needles. It seems to be unusually difficult to do the K2tog. The needles aren’t slick at all. Maybe they will improve with use.

Well, that’s all folks. Next week I want to be able to show the start of the Diamond Fantasy Shawl. There it’s in writing on the internet for all to see. I better get knitting!

Progress and a Trip to an LYS

I haven’t blogged for the past few days, but I have not been idle. Discriminating viewers will notice that I have changed my blog’s template, and I am still in the midst of fiddling with colors. M, alpha geek that he is, gets so excited when I play around in CSS and HTML/XHTML, that I have caught his enthusiasm. In addition, he found the Mac app dragonfly for me at the Apple site. It is a web color chooser and gives the hexadecimal code for each color, and it allows you to make a palette of four colors. Plus it has a toggle drawer which shows the color with text over them, where you can play with text colors. It’s a little addictive.

But I have been knitting. The left front of my lilac La Gran cardigan is done and the first sleeve (I decided to knit a sleeve before the right front to break up the sleeve making process) is coming along:

IMG_0980.JPG

Sock progress progresses, but not in an interesting to photograph manner; just around and around heading for toes.

Since the La Gran carigan is going well, I wanted to get started on the diamond fantasy shawl in Fleece Artist Merino Ruby. Alas, I had not the appropriate needles. Therefore, I braved a Saturday shopping expedition with M. I am NOT a shopper. M usually has quite a list of errands, and so taking me along can be problematic. For you see, when I am done shopping, whether I have even finished my list, much less anyone else’s list, I AM DONE SHOPPING. Trying to bribe me with promises of ice cream often fails. Luckily for M, I will usually sit in the truck playing solitaire on my PDA or knitting a sock. Shopping often gives me a headache. I am not a good consumer. Madison Avenue ad execs find me disturbing. But I did OK today, and M was very patient at the LYS (local yarn store, for my readers who aren’t bloggers).

My favorite LYS is Rumpelstiltskin in Sacramento. The store is cozy and FULL of all sorts of wonderful yarn and possible project ideas. Plus the staff are kind and helpful if I want help. Otherwise, they have no problem letting customers browse and oooh and ah. I went in for needles, but I found some beauties that also had to come home with me:
IMG_0982.JPG IMG_0986.JPG IMG_0983.JPG
The dark blue Misti Alpaca is for some fingerless gloves. It was unbelievably soft, and a pattern for the handwarmers came free with the yarn. It’s a bulky weight so the gloves are only 27 stitches in the round in a twisted cable rib.

The second is Trekking XXL for socks. I was so glad to learn at Romancing the Yarn that sock yarn does not add to one’s stash. That was a real relief! I like how the little bit of lavender in the yarn looks near the bit of my lilac sweater that’s hanging out of my basket. A serendipitous color find.

Third is some mohair for a scarf that was just too pretty to pass up. But my favorite find was this:
IMG_0990.JPG IMG_0988.JPG It’s so pretty it deserves two pictures. It’s a thick and thin wool from Italy, and the luster is fabulous. I may try a bias, thin scarf; we’ll see.

Beads, Wire, Yarn: It’s All Good

I put on my dark berry T-shirt and couldn’t find any earrings to wear with it. I found dozens of pairs of earrings, but I’d worn them all before, many times. I was suffering from earring ennui. It was time to retire to the Bead Room at get at it. I took this postcard I bought at the Monet in Normandy show M and I went to in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago.

IMG_0966.JPG

After a bit of poking around in my drawer of Swarovski crystals, I grabbed some sterling headpins and my pliers and made these:
IMG_0963.JPG

The pliers in the picture point out an important aspect of making these earrings. You have to mark the pliers! I used the second mark on the long nose pliers to mark the distance from the crystal to the place to make the loop. And the mark on the round nose plier tips showed me where to wrap each loop. I made wrapped loops. I almost always make wrapped loops. They are just so much more secure than a simple loop. Only if the wrapped loop would severely compromise the design, AND a simple loop wouldn’t cause pieces to fly off (I’ve had it happen! I learned this lesson the hard way.) will I think of considering a simple loop.

Are you old enought to remember mood rings back in the 70s? I didn’t have one, but my friend Margie did. Her hands were always so warm that the “mood stone” was always a deep royal purple. This meant she was relaxed and at peace, in love with the world. Well, Margie would get bored with her purple ring, so during recess and lunch, she would have me wear it. I have low blood pressure, so my hands were/are usually cold. Margie would watch her ring turn from deep purple to royal blue, turquoise, gold, brown and then black on my hand. Black meant I was tense and anxious, at odds with the world. She shared her Little Debbie snacks with me at lunch, so I put up with her teasing me about my “mood problems.”

Last Spring, while looking at bead auctions on ebay, I found some new mood beads (I don’t remember the site, and I couldn’t find it today). The beads were on my beading table, so I strung those up with some Thai silver beads that look faceted. I wanted to string the beads on black leather cord, but the silver beads’ holes were too small, and I really liked the faceted silver so the leather idea bit the dust and size 6 Czech black seed beads filled in. I like the look.

IMG_0968.JPG

Mood and silver beads up close and personal:
IMG_0970.JPG

I wore the necklace today to work, and the beads were turqoise, blue or purple most of the day. I was relieved that they weren’t black, that would be pretty lame if my neck were that cold when the beads were greeny-gold lying on my desk.

And in yarny-knitting news, I’ve finished the gusset of the first of Nancy’s Peacock socks. I chose to do what I’ve read called “eye of the peacock” slipped stitched heel flap. I thought it was appropriate with the yarn colorway ;)
IMG_0971.JPG

Must go knit and watch House.

Is this right?

Help! Of the six people I know of who read this blog, 2 are master sweater knitters (yes, Mom, I’m including you in the 2!). I am not sure I have done the neck shaping correctly, although I can’t think of another way to interpret the instructions. The shaping I’ve done looks like this:
IMG_0960.JPG
The directions read from Vogue Knitting:
Next Row (RS): Work to last 7 stitches, place these sts on a holder. Next Row Bind off 4 sts (neck edge) work to end. Cont to bind off from neck edge 3 sts once, 2 sts 2 times–29 sts.

I assumed that meant the binding off always had to occur on the WS rows, where the neck edge was the beginning of the row. Binding Off at the end of the RS rows would leave my yarn away from the live edge of the knitting, which I thought must not be what I was supposed to do. But binding off on the WS rows made little steps, and these little steps have caused me concern. So, did I do this correctly? Will the little steps all get fixed with the seed stitch neck band done later? Or do I need to rip back and fix things? Help please! And, if you haven’t voted on the sock issue from the last post, take a gander at it and cast a vote! Thanks! (My future cardigan thanks you also from keeping her from looking ghastly.)

Shameless, Truly

First and foremost, I must rectify my neglect from yesterday (even though I wasn’t called on it). The cat photos were taken by my brother, Thomas, on his new digital camera. He’s become a really good photographer. I meant to give him photo credits, but then I forgot. You can’t trust a big sister with anything. Thanks, Thomas!

I have found out that at least six people read my blog! OK, one is M, and he reads it because as soon as I publish a new post I bring it to him on my MacBookPro and say (shoving the computer in his face) “Read my new post!” And, yes, my mom also reads my blog; she did teach me to knit, so it would look pretty bad if she didn’t read it. Plus she’s a former high school English teacher. She probably fears I’ll give her a pop quiz on blog content during one of our weekly phone conversations. But four other people, who I am not related to legally in any way read my blog. Two even have me bookmarked. So, I better get to the knitting stuff before all of you give me up as a lost cause.

I am almost done with my potluck brights socks. This means I may now officially start thinking about the next pair to knit. And herein lies my difficulty: I can’t decide. So, I shall leave it to any readers who care to comment. I’ll give you two possibilities, and whichever gets the most votes, I’ll make first. As I also have gifts to knit, I am running low on time to knit socks for myself, so this is a weighty matter (to me anyway).

Choice #1:
IMG_0949.JPG IMG_0950.JPG
The pattern is the Friday Harbour Socks from Knitting on the Road by Nancy Bush, and the yarn is Fleece Artist Merino in the Hercules colorway (color is more accurate in the second photo).

Choice #2:
rpmBEAUTY IMG_0956.JPG
The pattern is RPM from the Summer 2006 issue of Knitty. The yarn is Cherry Tree Hill Potluck in blues/purples. It is out of focus (tripod is on order, yay!), but the color looks good on my computer.

So there you have it. Only YOU can save me from indecision and cold toes. Don’t let my little toes suffer. They beg you to cast a vote.

To put you in a beautiful frame of mind, here is the end of the sunset at our place today (it was even more gorgeous driving home from the grocery store when I didn’t have my camera, naturally).
IMG_0942.JPG
Have a great weekend!

It’s a box!

IMG_0928.JPG

Yes, it’s a box of yarn. A care package soon to be on its way to Wisconsin, where the winters are cold, and kitties need felted kitty beds. Mom, the knitter who taught me to knit, has promised to make some. I sent her the links to the pattern on Wendy’s blog. I hope that soon Wendy will have a bed for Rip and one for Katrina to add to her album. Speaking of Rip and Katrina:

IMG_1219_edited IMG_1211_edited

Aren’t they cute? Rip is an 18 year old Burmese, and he is starting to show his age. Katrina is 5 years old and birthed by a feral mother, but she decided she liked people, so my family adopted her. Rippy was 13 at the time, and he really didn’t see a need for a second cat in the house. A sort of cold war detente now reigns as each pretends the other doesn’t exist. Katrina would like you to know that even though she isn’t a pedigree cat like Rip, she is an Ur cat, which is a fancy way of saying all her coat markings are dominant genetically. She thinks this makes her very special. It’s a good thing cats don’t have to take a genetics class.

In other knitting news, I haven’t made a lot of progress since my last post: bit of a heel flap, a bit of leg, the start of neck edge shaping (for some reason the bane of my existence). But I do have a picture of some Fleece Artist merino that is going to become a Diamond Fantasy Shawl (I hope) from the gorgeous design by Sivia Harding.
IMG_0941.JPG At least that is the plan, and I hope to have this done in time for the holidays. The scarf version, which is what I’m planning to knit, takes only 350 yds of FA merino, so I am hoping that it won’t take me forever. The colorway is Ruby.

Well, the heel flap is calling to me to get cracking and get it turned. One must always obey the knitting.

It’s September. It’s Autumn. No Shirking Mohair.

Over the past few days, I’ve tried to do some prioritizing (I’m pretending that I can stick to this). Namely, what I need and want to have done by Christmas. I am not the fastest knitter in the West, so now is the time to get that sort of thing clear. First and foremost, I want to be able to wear the La Gran cardigan I worked on last spring and then put away during the heat of summer. The pattern is from VK (Fall 2002) and I have wanted to knit it since I first saw it in 2002. I just couldn’t convince myself that I was a good enough knitter to buy the yarn. To get out of that bind, I asked for the yarn for a Christmas gift last year, and my mother-in-law, Nancy, was generous enough to get it for me. I love, love, love the yarn. The color is lilac. I got the back and about half the left front done last spring, and now, 99 degree high tomorrow or not, I must continue. I worked more on the left front this weekend:

IMG_0922.JPG

On my computer screen, this photo captures the lilac color perfectly (Thanks, M, for the help with camera light settings!), and yes, our sofa is ruby red.

Now what is that bit of naughtiness lying on my sweater front?

IMG_0924.JPG

It looks like a lace scarf to me in Lorna’s Laces shepherd sock in Black Purl. This is not on my list of things to have done by Christmas. I was making a pair of socks, and I didn’t like how the color was pooling, so, as I was browsing through Barbara Walker volume 1 (a wonderful, dangerous book!), I thought to myself, maybe Black Purl would look better in the trellis vine lace pattern. I had to see. And I like it. The scarf calls to me on the wrong side rows of my sweater. You can see the pitiful extent of my willpower. I keep going back to the scarf. It even matches the sweater. But I really want the sweater, too. Do I really need to sleep?

And here is a teaser for Nancy, one of the three people I know of who reads this blog.

IMG_0920.JPG

It’s a start, and it seems to be going well. They are birthday socks for Nancy, whose birthday was July 31st. I know this makes me sound extremely tardy in the gift-giving venture, but I asked her on July 29th if she would like a pair of handknit socks, and then we had to browse at Simply Sock Yarn Company for the perfect color. This is CTH supersock in Peacock. SSYC offers free shipping on orders over $50, so of course, I had to order more sock yarn for myself to get the free shipping. It would have been financially irresponsible to pay for shipping on one skein when I could order a few more and not pay shipping. Right? But short of a broken hand, these socks will be ready before wool sock wearing season here in the Central Valley of CA.