Thursday, January 31, 2008

B is for . . .

a box

full of buttons

When I was a child, this box was my grandmother's. Every time we visited, I would play with the buttons--I loved to sort through them and organize them. I have not idea how old they are (at least 50 years, I think!), but they're heavy and detailed. My grandmother was a wonderful semstress; a lot of these buttons look like they're thrifted and show some wear. But I love them, and, when my grandmother passed away, I got the button box.

The last photo is of my favorite buttons; I'm looking for the perfect project to use them on. There are nine of them, although one is in rather bad shape, but enough for a cardigan!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Seuss-ical Socks

Yarn: Regia Silk Color, 1 skein with only a very few inches left over. Purchased at Webs.
Pattern: My own; 48 stitches in 2x2 rib for the leg with an afterthought heel to keep the stripes striping.
Gauge: 17 stitches = 2 inches
Needle: 1.5 (2.5mm) KnitPicks circular, knit using magic loop.
For: Big Nephew (a designation that strikes me as entertaining, as my "big" nephew, T, is three and weighs somewhere around thirty-three pounds. Compared to his unborn brother, G, due in April, though--he's definitely the big one.)
Verdict: I think he'll like them. He wants blue ones next. I like the silly orangey striping; he asked for orange socks last time; this was the best orange I could find.

Now that the doctors have said that the little nephew is far enough along that even if he comes early, he should be okay, I can cast on for a cabled baby blanket for him. So blue travel socks for T, and a yellow cabled blanket for little G (as per his mother's request) are next up!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

In Swatch I Trust

Three weeks ago, I swatched for the Ramona Sweater (Ravelry link) from Sensual Knits. I made a nice large swatch, even; then I measured it, washed it, dried it, and measured again.

The yarn I'm using--Elsebeth Lavold Classic AL (50% merino, 50% alpaca, purchased on closeout on a recent trip to Webs) bloomed like crazy when I washed it, and my first gauge swatch suggested I'd be knitting a tent, rather than the sexy sweater Jared had designed so--like a good little knitter--I knit another swatch on smaller needles.

Size 5 needles almost gave me the right gauge, and I was actually happier with the gauge I got, which would make the sweater slightly smaller (the size I knit would have given me 2 inches of positive ease; the photos in the book look like there's less ease that that); my gauge looked like I'd get about half an inch of positive ease--perfect.

The sweater is easy to knit; the pattern is very straightforward. The Classic AL was really nice to work with--soft and squishy. I spit spliced all the way through, so I'd have fewer ends to weave in. Last night I finished most of the seaming (I've left the sleeves unhemmed, in case I want to make them slightly longer):

(Excuse the crap-o self portrait in the mirror that still needs to be cleaned!) A little bit on the negative-ease side, there. Too much so. Which is where the trust comes in: the yarn bloomed in the swatch and I'm trusting that it will behave the same way in the sweater. This project's gone so well, though, that I'm a little nervous about the next trying on!

And now it's had a bath (four, actually, since there was some excess dye in the yarn) and is blocking to--hopefully--the planned-upon size. Not quite an FO, since I still have to hem the sleeves and snip some ends (they're mostly woven in, just not cut), but pretty darn close.

So keep your fingers crossed that the swatch didn't lie (or at least didn't lie too much)!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Mail call!

A couple of weeks ago, Carolyn at I Heart Yarn had a contest, asking commenters to post their New Year's Resolutions. My resolution was (and is!) to knit more from my stash. This isn't just about saving money (although that's not a bad side benefit), or finding more space (although my current yarn storage is full-to-overflowing). My desire to knit from my stash stems largely from the knowledge that I have some beautiful yarns in there, and projects in mind for them; I bought these yarns because I loved them, but I'm often enticed by the lure of something new. So my stash has been growing, and those beautiful yarns remain tucked away, unloved.

Carolyn was kind enough to know that this resolution was one that could be broken with the right temptation:

Two skeins of Shepard's Shades wool in a lovely greenish-brown, along with a ribbon that compliments it beautifully and a copy of Carolyn's Mackenzie bag pattern--so cute it may require a whole other breaking-of-the-no-new-stash-resolution since I'll need a cute outfit to go with it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A is for . . .


I've been in school for way too long--I'm in something like the 25th grade. And I work in academia, too, so when I'm not working on my own stuff, I'm working on someone else's.

A is also for


almond paste, in particular--an excellent base for most desserts. Almond macaroons are one of my favorites, but I could not (alas!) find any at the store. Almond croissants are a reasonable substitution, though.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Merry (belated) Christmas

I have finally finished the Christmas knitting, as well as a few other things. And I've started working on a new sweater for me--Ramona from Sensual Knits--which I'm very excited about and deserves its own post. It's been on hold for a couple of days; I've been using it as a carrot to finish up my brother's sweater. Now that I'm done with that, though, Ramona it is!

I've also started a new pair of nephew socks. After the success of the red-socks-that-come-up-to-his knees (one of the bind-offs is a little tight, but he won't let them out of his sight long enough to mail them to me so I can fix it--how cute is that?) The nephew has requested orange socks next. Orange is a surprisingly hard color to find--maybe it would be easier in October? Or in a city where team colors include orange, maybe. But I found some funky Regia silk yarn at Webs, and have made it down to the start of the foot on the first sock. I've knit in some scrap yarn to mark an afterthought heel, which will both keep the funky striping going nicely as well as make sure that the socks are as long as possible. I can always make the heels and toes a different color if I need to. Next time I'm going to try toe-up socks with an afterthought heel--the toe-up heel is what's really been giving me pause.

I knit about 2 inches of the ribbing during my first day of classes yesterday--I needed writing samples from everyone, making a portable project important.

Also done recently: basic socks in Claudia Handpainted, blue terra cotta color:

I was a little "meh" about this pair; the yarn is fine (although weirdly thick-and-thin in a few places, as if it weren't spun/plied/twisted tightly enough), but a little splitty and I had some trouble with dropped stitches. I think that I'm going to send them to my bff, who likes hand knit socks almost as much as the nephew. (I've also got some peppermint marshmallows for her--we've been big hot chocolate buddies since college--yum!)

And, most importantly, I've finished my not-so-little-brother's (who shall be, from now on, the NSLB) Christmas present:

It was too big to get the whole thing in. The details: a seamless hybrid sweater, based on Elizabeth Zimmerman's percentages formula, using Plymouth Encore in a heathery green with contrasting tan hems, knit on KnitPicks Harmony interchangables size 6. I bought what I thought was an extra skein of yarn but wound up unpicking my gage swatch so I could sew down the collar hem. 47" chest. Lessons learned: 1) NSLB sweaters take a lot more yarn than I would imagine, and 2) NSLB sweaters need to be started at least two months before they're due to be gifted. Also, count everything. Frequently. And then have someone else count for you, just to be sure.

I started using a Russian join on this one--the yarn is superwash, and has some acrylic in it, so spit-splicing didn't seem like a good option. I really liked doing this--way fewer ends to weave in at the end, which made finishing pretty easy. And I like this sweater recipe a lot--I don't think this will be the last one I make. I'll have to wait for a report on how it fits, though, for a final decision.