Saturday, October 27, 2007

Buxom Babe knits

With the much-expected arrival of Fall weather, J is appreciating his hand-knit socks more and more. I even got a request for more socks! Since the Kaffe Fassett socks didn't fit him, I rushed to finish them so I could start a pair for him:

Pattern: Plain socks with twisted rib and short row heel (see below)

Yarn: Kaffe Fassett for Regia, colorway Storm

Needles: bamboo size 1s, my favorite needles of all times

Comments: I didn't think I'd enjoy knitting stockinette socks, but this yarn made the process very enjoyable. The base yarn feels fabulous; it's silky but strong, and looks like it will last forever. And the colors are so pretty! K.F. is a genius.

I made these socks without a pattern, because after a while who needs a pattern? Started on 60 stitches (cast on using knitted method, the most elastic method, in my opinion). Work 12 rows of P1, K1tbl the stockinette for a while. Short row heel; again, completely made up; I have no idea how it relates to the short row heel found in books. The wrapping was definitely not as fancy as Priscilla Gibson-Roberts' wrapping, but the heel turned out allright. It's surprisingly flexible:

Finally, I drew the last 8 stitches of the toe into a "rosebud", thus avoiding the annoying Kitchener stitch. I much prefer the rosebud for socks.

I also finished the knitting on the Voyager Stole; J likes the unblocked version very much:

As I am a little more picky, I will wash and block the stole. Pictures to follow! Until then, here's how much yarn I had left from the four balls I used:

Yes, there is no picture. I had maybe one inch of yarn left. Phew!

As for the title, it has nothing to do with knitting. I just had to share the story: on my latest lingerie shopping trip, I had a difficult time finding a bra that would fit properly. I had a fitting and... I really should wear one cup bigger than what I was wearing before! I doubt my breasts grew, but I still felt like a movie star walking around the next day with a new, pretty bra in the new bigger size under my sweater.

I was reading somewhere that the majority of women might be wearing the wrong size bra. The most common mistake seems to be too large a band size and too small a cup size. So ladies, go and get yourself a proper bra fitting - you will fabulous wearing the right size bra!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Winter? what winter?

With the record temperatures here (short sleeves in October? WTF), it doesn't seem like winter will ever come back. However, it is impossible to ignore the fact that it does get dark earlier and earlier. Princess of Pink has some great suggestions for preventing SAD:

Check it out. How do you deal with lack of sunshine in the winter months?

Monday, October 15, 2007

From the knitting machine

So much for Venezia providing two years' worth of knitting entertainment:

Less than three weeks for the first sleeve. This will be done by Christmas. And what will I do then?

I will probably walk around the cold city, looking for more exciting yarn and wearing this:

Pattern: Notre Dame de Grace by Veronik Avery, IK Spring '07
Yarn: Cestari Superfine Merino, color blush, a little over 4 skeins
Needles: Crystal Palace size 8 bamboo circulars
Comments: where to start, where to start... Well, I wanted to knit the sweater because of the interesting collar construction. Therefore, I knit the sleeves first (no way I'd knit two sleeves after finishing the interesting part of the pattern!). I probably knit a total of 4 sleeves: once I was trying to use size 7 needles - fabric was too dense, so I switched to size 8. Then I messed up the increases. Then I knit the two "correct" sleeves.

The collar is indeed interesting, and takes a bit of finishing work. I think there is an omission in the pattern: you are instructed to put the stitches at the middle of the back neck on a holder, but you are never instructed to pick them up or do anything with them! I decided to incorporate them in the collar (in the last few rows of the collar, knit one of the back neck stitches with the last stitch of the collar row). Seaming was a pain, and there are a few extra ends to be woven in because of the smart collar.

The "a little over 4 skeins" also proved to be a major pain, since I'd only bought 4 skeins at MD S&W. Normally this wouldn't be a problem; however, when the producer is a small farm in Virginia, it turns into a bigger and more expensive problem. That last skein cost me $22 with shipping, almost as much as the other 4 skeins (which were 50% off). Moral of the story: buy a little extra! I know I've said this before, but maybe if I repeat it enough times I'll actually obey.

I think I like the finished sweater. The sleeves are a little wonky, but they might settle as the yarn softens (it's soft now, and will bloom some, I'm sure). The collar is beautiful. I'm not sure about the rest of the sweater. Why did I choose pink? Oh wait, it was better than all the other colors in the "mega sale" bin. It was a fine knit, really - and I enjoyed it.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Tangled Yoke

Pattern: Tangled Yoke by Eunny Jang, IK Fall '07

Yarn: Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool, a little over 5 skeins (gotta love the yardage and price of this yarn)

Needles: size 4 and 5 circulars

Comments: where to start? The instructions are very precise as always, and almost foolproof. The infinite cable technique is nice and not too difficult. I knitted the sleeves flat, since I tend to get ugly ladders when I knit with thicker yarns on DPNs. Picking up stitches for the button bands was a pain, but doable; I divided the fronts into eights, I think, then picked up the right number of stitches in each section. Not my favorite thing in the world, but the result was worth it.

The most difficult part of this cardigan, for me, was attaching ribbon and seaming the buttons. Partly because I've never done this before on a knit piece, and knits stretch! It can be a challenge to sew on the ribbon without stretching the button band. Also, I wanted the cardigan to be fitted, and this means that the button bands gape if I button it completely. I could have made the next size up, but I wanted a fitted shirt; I could have modified the pattern, but I was too lazy. Whatever - it's a warm cardigan and I can wear it unbuttoned, I suppose.

I might have said this before, but the sole reason for making this was the appeal of that horizontal cable. It's a great pattern, and highly recommended. As for the Silky Wool, I can't say enough good things about it. It's cheap, it's beautiful, it doesn't have a single knot.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Beret Basque

Finally, a finished project. No, it's not a sweater; both Tangled Yoke and Notre Dame are awaiting some finishing work. I hope to have them done this weekend. The chilly weather prompted me to finish the beret:

Pattern: Beret Basque by Veronik Avery, in "Knitting Classic Style"

Yarn: Elann Cash Soft in granite, virtually 1 ball (I had about 1 meter left at the end)

Needles: no-name size 3 circulars and bamboo size 3 dpns

Comments: this was a great one skein project. I didn't want to use all the cashmere for the Voyager Stole, and the beret was a perfect answer to that "problem". It's not a quick knit on such small needles, but it's cute. I wouldn't mind the edge being a little tighter, but it drapes nicely in this shape and texture. Pair this with the fact that grey is supposed to be Fall's hot color; how's that for anticipating Fall trends? This beret makes me feel like a movie star!

On a side note, I am also wearing the Swallowtail shawl in the picture above, and the shirt is also a cashmere shirt. I was dressed very warmly and luxuriously that day...

Sunday, October 7, 2007

How to save money in the future

Decide that a yarn store that is not dog friendly shouldn't get my business any more. Seriously, my dog is a fluffy "stuffed bear". Children follow him down the street to pet him. He takes orders from 2-year olds. He doesn't even shed. People who are alergic to dogs are generally not alergic to him. So why isn't he allowed into the store?

This should cut down on spending.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

A day's work on Venezia:

I didn't do much else on Sunday, though... The pattern is a lot of fun, once you get past the first few natural mistakes. I even made mistakes I don't normally make, like dropping stitches (in the single color part, fortunately). And there is the magic of fair isle, with its instant gratification qualities: you can actually see progress, even if it's just a few rows!

One of the "perks" of growing up in a Communist country is that you learn to do everything by hand quickly and efficiently. I can sew buttons on all sorts of fabrics, and I can sew clothes. I can put in zippers, including in pants (fun stuff, let me tell you). I can make mayo by hand and peel potatoes without a peeler, and if you ask me children would be much better off helping in the kitchen instead of watching TV or playing computer games all the time. I can darn socks, and I've actually darned socks a long time ago. These days I have perhaps more money and less free time, but the old darning skills still come in handy:

When you kitchener stitch together the arm openings for Tangled Yoke, you get two little holes. It is easy to sew them shut, but you do need to be careful not to pull on the existing fabric because you will end up with holes somewhere else!

The cardigan is currently taking a warm bath, because the knitting and the finishing are both done. I haven't had time to buy buttons this week, but I can already tell this will be a gorgeous piece.