Monday, October 26, 2009

Weekend fun times!

I had some pretty good knitting time over the last week. On Friday I finished the knitting for a pair of insanely cute slippers:

Green Slippers

I know they don't look like slippers right now, but once they're sewn up and felted they'll hopefully look a little bit like this. The knitting goes super-fast on huge needles, and it's perfect if you have lots of worsted-weight yarn leftovers. These are so cute, I'm making more than one pair. But I can't justify having three pairs of felted slippers... helloooo, more gift knitting!

Blue Slippers

My knitting group and I all cast on for these together last week, and this week we're going to sew them up. But last weekend I finished Damson earlier than I thought I would. I was able to wear my cute new shawl on Sunday morning, but I'd expected that the project would last me until at least the day before our knit night. So in the meantime, I pulled out an old, sleepy, cobwebby (not really) project:

Bright Green Square #23

Lilypad II Green Square #24

I think I've given up on the spreadsheet, the one I made about 1/3 of the way through the project as a way to keep track of how to maximize the number of miters I could eke out of each skein of yarn. It's getting down to the wire... at one point I optimistically thought I would make a 6x6 blanket (36 squares with 4 miters to each square), but now I'm thinking I may only get 5x6. If so, then I've done 75% of the knitting.

Oh, and we carved pumpkins on Saturday:

Starry Pumpkin

We carved two pumpkins, and saved one for eating. I've never cooked a pumpkin before (except for baking the seeds), so this will be an adventure!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Market Day

Sometimes you just need a nice accessory to wear to the farmer's market.

Green Damson

A little something to keep the chill off your shoulders while picking out produce,

Green Damson

and in a lovely green color that reminds you of winter squash and carrot tops and flower stems

Green Damson

I was amazed when I looked back at my notes on Ravelry and realized that this shawl only took me about 8 days to knit. The yarn is Dream in Color Smooshy, in the Happy Forest colorway. Also, I came really close to not having enough yarn, I was sweating a little while doing the bind-off row. The sock yarn blocks very nicely, and I love the contrast in texture between the garter and stockinette portions of the shawl. Anyway, Damson and I had a great time this morning. I got up early, trying to get to the market within an hour of opening time, knowing I'd be rewarded by $5 bouquets of dahlias. I snagged one several weeks ago but haven't seen them since, probably because they are A) gorgeous B) a steal and C) the significant other and I are rarely out and about before 11AM on a Sunday morning. My plan worked:



I also succumbed to the color on this guy:

Squirrel and Pumpkin

It now feels like fall in our apartment.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Another FO to share

It's starting to feel like fall, and we got our first real rainfall of the year two days ago. Now everything is kind of gently steaming and humid, so it doesn't really feel autumnal, but I can pretend:

Endpaper Mitts

Another handspun hand-warming device, these are Eunny Jang's Endpaper Mitts, done in two colors of handspun Verb for Keeping Warm fiber. One is the green half of the Hollyhocks falklands, and the other is left over grey finn from these mittens I knit almost a year ago. I was very pleased to ultimately have used up all but a few yards of the grey, so much so that I might combine the pinks from both club shipments and do a second pair for spring. Here's a better shot of the color:

Endpaper Mitts

I really enjoy how the green fades in and out of being intensely vibrant, and the handspun is surprisingly dense. I've heard other knitters comment on how this is a good introduction to fair isle knitting, and I have to agree. I'd recommend this project to anyone who wants to try two-color knitting but has felt intimidated. It's a lovely return on a relatively small effort.

In the back of my head, I keep wondering how it is that I'm knitting all these little projects so quickly. I'm daydreaming about another sweater (especially with the frogged remains I recently acquired), but I will most likely wait until the temperatures drop a little more.

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Journey

That's what this has been.

Verb Cable Mittens

So, right before Sock Summit my favorite enabler and fiber guru Kristine announced a contest on Ravelry. The challenge was to enter a mitten (or, later, a fingerless mitten) knit out of Verb yarn (at least 50%). This could either be a published pattern, or you could make up your own pattern.

I needed a challenge during the second part of summer before the semester began, so I jumped into the deep end of the pool without so much as a backwards glance. I was SO sure I knew EXACTLY what I would do! Two-color mittens, handspun fingering-weight yarn, reminiscent of an arts and crafts tile. It would be a small, practical piece of art.

First came several 8-hour days wasted on internet image research. Picture after picture after picture, flower after leaf after tree all flashed before me. Finally, I found something I loved, and that (seemingly) matched the color palette I had in mind: either Hollyhocks (scroll down a bit) or Lilies. Images bookmarked, it seemed a simple next step in my mind to transcribe the colors onto a multicolor mitten chart. When I sat down to actually do this, I realized that I wouldn't really be able to pull off the kind of design I had set my heart on with only two colors. Dark brown or black outlines and multiple shades of pink and green meant that, at best, I would be knitting five-color mittens, not two-color. Frustrating me further was the insistence of the pattern to use more than two colors on any one round.

The design languished, August ran away, and the end of September crept closer. The deadline for knitting the mittens is November 1, so I needed to get the design down on paper if I wanted to leave myself enough time to knit the darn things. After three weeks of not even looking at my mitten charts, I decided to chuck the whole idea and start fresh. In the meantime, I spun up my Hollyhocks fiber (Falklands wool):

Verb Fiber Club Hollyhocks

And some corriedale in the colorway The Candle's Nimble Flame:

The Candle's Nimble Flame Corriedale

I didn't really have any intention of using the corriedale for the mittens. In my head, I was starting to doubt that it had been a good idea to sign myself up for yet another commitment at this time of the year. So I brought the handspun to my knitting circle, and we all talked about it.

Hollyhocks Falklands

The Candle's Nimble Flame Corriedale

I asked about what people liked in a mitten. Did they prefer a thumb that protrudes from inside the palm, or on the side? With or without a thumb gusset? And there, surrounded by like-minded fibery friends, the idea hit me. I needed a mitten I could knit pretty fast if I wanted (because at this rate, I'd probably have about 48 hours to do the actual knitting after figuring out the pattern). I had some chunky yarn spun so it would make subtle stripes, in a colorway with little variation in contrast and saturation. Cables would pop, but they also couldn't be too complex or they'd get lost in the color. On top of all this, I was keen to make my design something that I perceived as unique. I'd seen lots of cabled mittens where there's an awesome intricate pattern going up the back of the hand, leaving the palm smooth. I said: what about cables on the side?

That sounded interesting to enough people, and after a few really really bad ideas about mitten construction (hint: there is such a thing as too unique), I settled on a basic game plan. I'd knit one mitten and make it up as I went along, keeping notes. The first test of the pattern would occur while I knit the second mitten, using the notes as a guide and trying very sincerely to not just make the second one up as I went along too. Here's what that looked like:

Smitten Mitten Progress

It was EXCRUCIATING to knit so slowly! So tough to stop myself every few rounds and update the notes. You can't hold a pen and keep your yarn tensioned at the same time, did you know that? Well, at least I can't. And when knitting the second mitten, I went into a mini panic every time something didn't come out the way it should. This time, I couldn't just knit 2 together and forget about the extra stitch that popped up out of nowhere. I knew in the back of my head that I wanted to write up the pattern, and other people who knit these mittens would obsess over that extra stitch. Incidentally, I also learned how to correctly count rows/rounds. I still had plans for the Hollyhocks yarn, but it went on the back burner.

And now they're done. After getting washed, it took me another two weeks to get out on a sunny day for a photo shoot. This morning I had some fun in the park with my mittens and the timer on my camera. Here they are, my Snow Chains mittens.

Snow Chains Mittens

Snow Chains Mittens

Snow Chains Mittens

Snow Chains Mittens

It's a good thing I waited a while to take the photos, because I was pretty sick of the design when I first finished knitting the mittens. We needed a break from each other. I am now working on writing up the pattern, but I'm gonna be honest here, because it's my blog and I can. If you hate them, don't tell me. I won't force anyone else to knit them, I promise.