Sunday, March 30, 2008

Fairy Godmother, part II

The second amazing thing that happened when I visited Marylen was that she let me borrow two of her Denise cables and her size 7 tips. I had finished the body and both sleeves of the sweater, but I was having the hardest time attaching the sleeves to start the yoke. My needles were simply too long and inflexible to go all the way around the diameter of the tiny, baby-sized sleeves. I tried using the two-circulars method, but that didn't work out either. Maybe I was just being impatient, but it was getting incredibly complicated, especially because the pattern has you graft together the underarm stitches at the very end, so there were 2 extra balls of yarn getting tangled in everything. These needles are both shorter and a little bendy, so the yoke is no longer a problem.

I actually already finished this on Friday, but because I'm figuring out the decreases and short rows as I go along, the first attempt came out looking like a linebacker. It was incredibly depressing. So far this attempt is looking much better (although if my monitor is any indication, flickr is having some issues and you can't tell what the sweater looks like at all. I will try to fix the picture issue later).

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Fairy Godmother

Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
Were it not for the fact that I know for certain that Marylen has needed to have her hips replaced, I might mistake her for my fairy godmother. Not only does she have the most incredible stash I have ever seen, but she sent me away with more yarn than I can wrap my head around. These five skeins of heavy worsted yarn from Brown Sheep are only a fraction of what she gave me, but the colors were hard to pick out in the larger photo and I wanted to show them all together.

Grumperina's tutorial the other day about making continuous stripes (where they line up all the way around instead of having a "jog" when you switch to the next color at the end of a round) is tempting me to use a few of these to make a striped kid's sweater, but I'm also considering making a pullover with a fair isle yoke. Whichever sweater I end up making, the leftovers will definitely become a striped hat of some kind.

It would be fantastic if this yarn ended up being for a young relative. My brother and I are expecting to have 8 nieces, nephews, and second cousins under the age of five by the end of June, and so far only one niece has received a hand knit. I'm not sure about the scratchiness level, however. I know that Elizabeth Zimmerman would say that children need exposure to sturdy wool early and often, but I don't want to make something that won't be worn. Any thoughts? How bad is it to give someone else's child a scratchy sweater?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Do you remember seeing that Youtube video a while ago where the knitter was on a cliff, and she ran out of yarn so she started knitting from her sweater, and then she ran out of sweater so she started knitting her own hair? That's what I feel like while I'm working on the sleeve for the toddler-sized Cobblestone. Ordinarily I would have unwound and rinsed the yarn to relax the kinks out of it, but I followed a hunch that it would straighten out on its own, and it's been working better than I expected. I think it's because of the two levels of plying (each ply in the yarn is itself a two ply strand).

Mo and I are in St. Louis because Mo is writing a paper about the construction of the Arch, so I may have a traveling sleeve pic over the next few days. My goal is to completely finish this sweater by the time we get back to Northampton on Sunday, but there's a lot of church happening in the next few days so I'm not sure how much I'll get done before our flight.

After going to the Central Library today (which has an amazing reading room) we picked up Mo's mom Lydia and went to Knitorious, their local knitting shop. I was really impressed with their selection of yarns and I'd love to go back sometime when I don't have a million and six projects on needles. Tomorrow we're going to a bead shop so Lydia can pick out some beads to make Odessa, which should be exciting. I haven't gone looking for beads since elementary school, so this should be a new experience.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Catching up with old friends

Green Gable 02
Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
This was the first sweater/top that I made for myself, and I can't say that I count it entirely in the success column. It's true, it does look like a garment, but it doesn't fit me very well. The biggest problem is length. It isn't long enough to wear without a cardigan of some kind, but it is also quite warm on its own (even without long sleeves). I finished this in the middle of the summer and I was absolutely determined to wear it. I managed, but I can't say that it was an enjoyable experience. It felt much better wearing it in January, but that still doesn't take care of the length issue.

I used the Green Gable pattern by Zephyr Style, and knit it up in Classic Elite Wool Bam Boo. I used leftovers from this sweater to make the two Odessa hats, because the thought of putting this back on the needles was just too painful. Not that there is anything wrong with either the yarn or pattern, I just feel like I have given this sweater as much time and love as it is ever going to get.

(Many thanks to Julia for modeling)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Bulbs again!

Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
The knitting hasn't totally ceased, but it's small and it's a surprise, so this will have to do for now.

(study study study)

Sunday, March 09, 2008

House T-shirt Design

It's that time of year! At tea on Friday everyone with a submission for the house t-shirt brought a sketch so we could vote, and I won! Okay, really my design won. This is a close up, and underneath it will say "Park House: Making Cubism a Reality since 1890". My favorite part is the crazy shoulders on the radiator.

I don't know why I'm so excited about this, because really it just means I get to spend an ungodly number of hours at the computer lab making it look pretty in Adobe Illustrator. Someone in the house had a great addition to the design, drawing a fancy frame around it and then making it look like it's not hanging straight. She's an art student, though, so I may enlist her help with that part.

Midterms are this coming week and I am going to do my best to refrain from knitting (and obsessing about knitting) for the entire time. Studying has never made for good blog material, but fortunately for both of us I have a slight backlog of projects that I either failed to give a final report on or never posted about in the first place. I'll try to take photos of everything and post them throughout the week. If that doesn't work I can always show you more bulbs!

Friday, March 07, 2008


Jordan's Whale01
Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
I finished up the back of Jordan's sweater yesterday, and I am having second thoughts about several things. The first is sizing; 30" is way too big. This can be easily remedied.

The second is this combination of yarn and pattern. It has definitely been nice (and fast) knitting with worsted weight wool, and the stitches themselves look gorgeous. However, if I'm going to start over with this yarn in a smaller size, I will have fewer stitches, and I really don't want to loose any more detail with the whale on the front.

One thing I'm not having regrets about is this garter stitch border. In fact, I think it may be the only thing I will really miss when I start ripping this out. I started thinking about designs that incorporate an abundance of garter stitch. Everything by Elizabeth Zimmerman came to mind, especially the Baby Surprise Jacket and the Tomtom jacket, although I had a disturbingly difficult time finding anything she has written, despite my absolute certainty that 2 books and 1 pattern sheet are hidden in my bedroom. ("Disturbingly difficult" may be interpreted to mean that I did not actually find any of them) After this brief interlude I thought of Jared Flood's Cobblestone, clearly inspired by Zimmerman, and everything seems to have clicked into place.

I refuse to buy more yarn to make this sweater before I have used up the Zenith. Pangs of guilt will eat through me like Coke on a car bonnet if I take a trip to Webs before the final blocking. Conveniently enough for me, Jordan is a twin. The Zenith can remain designated as Jordan's yarn, re-purposed for a toddler sized Cobblestone, and his sister Isla will now be the lucky recipient of a whale sweater. Doubly lucky for me, because when I switch to a smaller yarn (I'm thinking Dale Falk or Baby Ull) I'll also be able to make a smaller sweater overall; Jordan is much taller than his sister. If I'm going to switch to a sport or even fingering weight yarn, though, I'm definitely going to take a less cavalier attitude about measurements before casting on. The last fingering weight sweater I cast on was Allouette, and the only appropriate description of its status is...languishing.

(Just a note--there is a fantastic example of a scaled-down Cobblestone here)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Jordan's Whale

Jordan's Whale
Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
How cute is this whale? You have no idea how excited I am about knitting this chart. I've been kicking around the idea of a blue sweater with an orange whale since my very first attempt at colorwork (it was this tiny scrap). The orange is an aggressive color, so I've inserted a purple "W" to help bridge the gap between the deep blue and the bright orange. I haven't brought this in to Webs yet, so I'm not sure if the shade will be right, but if it seems off I think I'll go for either a green or a light blue.

I've solicited through Ravelry and found a knitter willing to send me a scrap to use for the eye, which is fantastic because buying an entire ball of yarn for that single stitch would be absolutely ridiculous.

I've already knit the back of the sweater up past the bottom of the sleeve join, and I'm a little concerned that it will be gigantic when it's finished. I'm making the 30" circumference size, and Jordan is only turning two, but he's on the tall side. The family lives in a warm climate so he'll have quite a while before he needs a sweater again. Besides, 3 year olds can wear whales, right?

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Smith College Bulb Show

Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
The annual bulb show opened last Friday night, and one of my housemates arranged for us to have a sneak preview earlier in the afternoon. It's certainly a lot easier taking photographs when you aren't in a constant (though slow moving) stream of people. It was even possible to turn around and go against the flow of traffic. I know that somewhere in the bulb show are about a dozen pots that I planted myself, but I didn't take note of which species I was putting in, so the prospects of finding any are pretty slim.

I've been back a few times since, and it's amazing how much the flowers have opened in only a few short days. They're keeping the temperature on the chilly side so they bloom for as long as possible, but there's only so much you can do against the march of time. I'd like to go back and take more pictures, just to compare, but I'm worried about the traffic issue. Historically, during the two weeks the show is open between 20,000 and 25,000 people visit the Botanic Garden. It certainly hasn't felt as crowded as it sounds, but it takes maneuvering.

During Horticulture lab yesterday we spent a few minutes soaking up the colors and scents and I was right in front of a girl about 8 years old taking pictures of flowers. She turned to her mom and said something like the following: "I like taking pictures. I'm going to use these so I can decide what to put in my wedding bouquet." A number of older visitors thought this was charming, but her mother was not amused. I don't think I would be either.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Monette update

Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
You may remember a disastrous attempt at casting on for this scarf several months ago. I, on the other hand, have blithely forgotten. It turns out that my blunt needles were indeed to blame. A switch to Addi lace needles has removed all frustration, which bodes well for the chances that this little half scarf will ever be finished. In order to get a lace edge at both ends, Monette is knit in two pieces towards the middle and then grafted together, which explains the bright white line along the edge in the picture. I was so scarred by the cast on process the first time around that I didn't have the guts to rip out even a measly four rows when I realized that my lace had somehow gotten shifted over, so I'm going to be extra attentive with the lace section when I get started again.

It turns out that I am short on needles, having lent Mo the pair I would use to get started on the Claudia hat, so that project may remain on hold for a while. Additionally I can't tell whether the yarn I was going to use smells like sheep or cigarettes. I find this disturbing. The only other worsted I have on hand is a cotton, which I can't justify knitting with in such cold weather.

I feel a bit like the proverbial kid in a candy store; I 'm ready to get started on so many projects that I am completely overwhelmed. I'm guessing that this only increases with stash growth. I have been trying to moderate my yarn acquisition and use up all of my leftovers, but at this point I need more drastic measures. I don't need a yarn diet, I need a cleansing fast. Bring on the carrot juice.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Chart for Claudia

Chart for Claudia
Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
I have found my next hat pattern. It is the perfect knit-anytime pattern. With a short cabled section along the bottom it has visual interest, and with a long section of 2x2 ribbing I'm fairly confident I can work on it in low light. It has a growing gallery of finished objects on Ravelry and it comes in a free pdf. Truly the only thing this pattern was lacking was a chart. Until now! I found this (extremely free) charting software online which took all of 20 seconds to figure out, and now I have my very own Claudia chart. And so, it would seem, do you. The quick diagram I made doesn't go all the way around the hat (clearly), nor does it indicate where you have to do funny stuff at the end of the row like move the marker around, so the original instructions are still very necessary. I apologize for the extreme smallness of the image; if you're interested in working from it and would like a larger copy than the view you get from Flickr just leave a comment and I can try to figure something out.

Pattern here:
Ravelry gallery here:
Extremely cool free charting software by Jacquie here: