Monday, February 27, 2006

A Break From Brioche

Sadly, I am not a champion, I clearly lack the drive necessary to meet this challenge, or I didn't love my sweater enough to drive me on to glory, either way, no gold for this knitter. In fact, I haven't even worked on Bi-color brioche since last Wednesday. What?! Does that mean I haven't knit since last Wednesday? Never fear, that isn't what I meant at all, as I indicated in my Saturday post, I picked up a long neglected UFO, one of the lace shawls from the Fall, 2005 VK. Number 18, designed by Meg Swansen, if I remember right, in fact. I managed to turn that UFO into an FO! I finished the knitting before the flame went out, and I had it blocking as the Olympics ended.
Lace Stole #18, VK Fall 2005
Knitpicks Alpaca Cloud, knit on Size 8 Lantern Moon straights
Began 10/31/05
Ended 2/26/06
The nice thing about this shawl is that if I am out at night and the temperature is sub-freezing, and I decided not to wear a hat, I can just fold the stole into quarters widthwise and wrap it around my head and create ear warmers, not that I might have call to do this mind you.

After finishing with that shawl I immediately cast on for Nancy Bush's Madli Shawl from Interweave Knits using my Georgetown Helen's Lace. Can I just tell you that I love Helen's Lace? Not sure how I feel about my colorway as I see it knit up, but the Helen's Lace has a wonderful soft hand and I think it feels magnificent knit up. I saw a sage colorway when I was in CA and now I am feeling a strong desire to add that to my collection, perhaps, 2 skeins worth, imagine the huge, lovely soft, warm shawl that I could make with that...

I also cast on for my second shelridge farms sock. I finished my cuff and am on the cable pattern. I was afraid that if I waited too long the second sock wouldn't ever get done, and I liked the way the first sock felt on my foot.

Finally, brioche, I will continue working on brioche and will do the final (perhaps) lesson on Thursday. Should I bother doing a cast-on first row series of photos? Please let me know.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Oh, Say Can You See...

They're playing my national anthem! It's all tears and smiles as I stand atop the podium while the gold medal gets placed around my neck, with my family and team members in the stands. I DID IT!!!


Pattern: Katy from Debbie Bliss' Cotton Angora book
Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton-Ease in Ice Blue
Date Started: 2/10/06
Date Completed: 2/25/06
Needles: Addi Turbo size 5's (for ribbing) and Addi Naturals size 7's
Size: 36-38" bust
Overall: It was a great pattern with no errors that I could find. It has a flattering fit with a lovely neckline. I would definitely recommend this pattern, and Cotton-Ease worked really well for it.

I was able to finish it yesterday while I was getting together with my fellow San Diego knit bloggers, Jessica, Kris, Miyon, Marisa, and Krys, which was great. I wore it around last night and got compliments from the family. I'd have to say that it came out well, maybe one of my best sweaters. It fits really well, although had I known when I started that I was long-waisted, I would have added maybe an inch more in the length. But, regardless, I think it's cute.

Now, for my Academy Awards speech. I'd like to thank the Yarn Harlot for speaking to my inner athlete and throwing down the gauntlet for this incredible challenge. There's nothing more satisfying than finding that you had the focus, dedication, and frankly, ability to knit through burning and numbness in your forearms, to complete a sweater in 16 days. At first, I thought that my sweater choice might be too easy and that I'd be finished early, but I had a lot of stumbles throughout the process, which I frequently do as a result of inattention, so I ended up finishing practically right down to the wire. Good thing I decided not to knit a sweater on size 2 needles or something!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Bi-Color Brioche, Part III

Back again with more bi-color brioche lessons for you. Today we are working on MC, Right Side rows, here we will use the knit stitch for the first time in these lessons. Since the last thing we did was work with CC across the row, you must first slide your stitches around so that all stitches are on your left needle. Your MC yarn after working the CC row should have been left behind at the starting point for that CC row, by slipping the stitches around from your right needle back to the left you are positioning you works so that the MC is now in the typical starting position. When you come to a CC stitch, the stitch will be slipped from your left needle to the right needle, purlwise. Before you slip your stitch, though, you want to bring your yarn forward, to the front of your piece, as demonstrated to the left. Next you will be knitting your MC stitch. Notice that your MC working yarn is to the front one stitch to the right of the stitch that you are knitting. That is fine, this is where your working MC yarn should be. You are going to knit the MC stitch together with the CC yarn over, so you will slide your right needle through the closest leg of the CC yarn over and, at the same time, slide it through the MC stitch as you normally would to knit. With the needles in position like this you will bring your working MC yarn over the CC stitch and use the working yarn to complete your MC knit stitch. After finishing your knit stitch you will have a CC stitch next up on your left needle. Bring your yarn to the front and slide that stitch purlwise as described above. Continue to knit your MC stitches together with CC yarn overs and to slip your CC stitches creating YOs for the rest of the row.

Now for my personal KO news, no surprise, I won't be getting a gold. I have made absolutely no progress since my last post. Actually, last night I did put the stitches back on the needles, but I did nothing more. Since Gold is out of reach for m, though not for K, and not for many other KOlympians, I have decided to change my goal. My new goal is to finish the VK shawl, but not necessarily block it, before the flame goes out. This is not a goal to earn a medal, I am out of contention on that one entirely, this is just an attempt to get me to finish the thing. I have about 10 8 row repeats left plus the border. I don't think it is an impossible goal, though I did the math and have 5,600 stitch left just to finish the repeats.

Final note to all you cat owners out there, if you cat decides to do this:

Stop her or him. She make look adorable, sweet, and innocent, but what she is really doing is holding down some keys on your keyboard, turning on or off things you didn't know where on or off and generally setting your post back about 15 minutes, there is, after all, a reason that keyboards aren't used s pillows. But ain't she sweet?

Friday, February 24, 2006

The Stumbles Continue...

Well, it's a good thing I gave myself an entire week to do the finishing on this sweater. Something inside me knew that a something would go wrong. And of course, something did. In fact, a few somethings did. I knew that the neckband would be the most challenging part of the sweater. It involves picking up stitches and doing decreases in the front to create a seam. I'm always kind of "freeform" about the way I pick up stitches because I find that I have to do it over and over to get the right number. Most of the time, it's no big deal, but in this case, it really made a difference. I read the pattern and started picking up, but realized I'd started in the wrong place. I figured if I got the right number of stitches overall, everything would be alright, but I ended up with this instead:

The seam is supposed to line up with the center rib. So, I ripped it out and decided to seam the sweater first and then deal with the neckband again as the final element. I'm still thinking I'll finish on time though. Seaming was another comedy of errors where first, I seamed my front and back together when I was trying to set in the sleeve, leaving the sleeve to swing in the wind. Whoops. Then, I seamed my sleeve together inside out! Ugh! Anyway, the seaming is almost done. Just one more sleeve to seam up and I'm ready to get back to the neckband.

After all of my screw-ups today and yesterday, I got a wonderful surprise in the mail:

Yep, that's gorgeous Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in the Tahoe colorway. Aren't they beautiful? There's some pair of socks out there just waiting to be made with this beautiful yarn. There was also some yummy candy and a design-your-own coffee tumbler from Starbucks. I just LOVE all of my goodies. Thank you Secret Pal! You are so cool and generous!

Have a good one!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Bi-Color Brioche, Part II

Now that you have cast on and finished the MC Wrong Side row, we will begin a Right Side row. First you use your CC to go across your row
On RS rows you will be purling your CC and knitting you MC (on 2nd pass at row). When you come to a MC stitch you must first bring the yarn to front as demonstrated here. Next you insert your needle so that you are slipping the MC stitch as if to purl. After you have slipped the MC stitch, you must bring your CC over the stitch and to around your knitting (sorry this photo is a bit blurry) bring the yarn back around to the front so that it is ready to purl the next stitch. Next you are at you CC stitch, this stitch you purl together with a yo from the previous row. This should feel pretty similar, it is essentially what you do with the MC on WS Rows.
The right you see the needle going through both a CC purl and a MC YO. With your needles positioned like this you will purl the stitch. After that stitch has been purled you will go back to the directions for how to slip you MC stitches. Continue rotating the purl and slip stitch until you come to the end of a row.
On Saturday I will explain Right Side Rows, MC, which involves knitting your MC stitches.

With respect to my KO progress, I am still working on the front of the sweater but am on the raglan shaping, however, the front is off the needles. It isn't done, but I had to take it off the needles because I messed up the raglan shapping. Clearly I will not be medaling in this event. On a happier note, I am finished my first sock, and have done a couple of rows on my VK Shawl and The F-word shawl (fichu)

Olympic Woes

I'm quite disappointed in myself this evening. I had completely cleared my schedule for tonight so I could work on the neckband of Katy while watching the Ladies' Short Program, but things didn't go exactly as I had planned. I have apparently lost my beloved Chibi, which contains every single one of my tapestry needles! I couldn't seam the shoulders together, so I couldn't do anything. To beat that, yesterday, when I got home from school, my blocking sweater front had a big brown stain on it that it didn't have when I left in the morning! I was completely horrified! I have absolutely no idea where it came from, but it seemed like the worst kind of luck. Thankfully, with a paper towel and some dishwashing soap, I was able to get it out. Whew! Needless to say, I'm starting to lose momentum in my final lap.

So tonight, dejected from all of my stumbles, I picked up the project that I have been guiltily working on while Katy was blocking. I have been so admiring Kris' Sam that she's doing for the Knitting Olympics that I just HAD to start my own. I cast on yesterday, and I think I've made decent progress. I decided to make it 3 inches longer because at 19 3/4 inches long, it would barely cover my belly button! I'm about 14 rows from the armhole shaping. I didn't get as much done tonight as I would have because I was busy watching Sasha Cohen kick ass in her Short Program! Wasn't that exciting?! She's clearly a more worthy Olympic Athlete than I am!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Bi-color Brioche Tutorial. Part 1?

Because I have made little progress on the brioche since Saturday, I decided to try giving a basic tutorial in bi-color brioche knitting. At the end of this post will be a poll. Be sure to vote to let me know if I should continue.
First, the glossary:

Now you have the very, very basic. I am not going to show you pictures casting on or the first rows (I am still on the front, I can add photos when I start the sleeves). Briefly, to start you cast on (choose your method), using either circular needles or dpns with MC and then slide the stitches back to your left needle, join your CC and knit every other stitch. The stitches that you don't knit are slipped purlwise with a YO extending over and around them (photos of this to come latter). After you finish the entire row you again slide all stitches around the needles and back onto your left hand needle. You will now work on the row again using your MC. Now I can start using photos to demonstrate:

Using MC on WS rows you will purl all MC stitches and slip all CC stitches. The slipped stitch is created by having your yarn in the front of your work (facing you) and slipping the stitch purlwise. After the CC stitch has been moved to the right needle you will bring your yarn around the needle and back the front, leaving it positioned for the next purl.

Each MC purl is created by purling the MC stitch together with the CC YO created in the previous pass through the row. Purl the way you ordinarily would, make sure that your yarn is back towards the front of you and slip the next CC stitch as described above. Repeat these two moves for the rest of the row.

On Thursday, if you are interested, CC on Right Side Rows. Let me know if you are or are not interested in my continuing with this by voting below, thank you:

Should the Bi-color Brioche tutorial continue
Yes, This is helpful
No, this is boring or unintelligible
I really could not care less
Free polls from

It's All Over But the Cryin' (in this case, the finishin')

I finally did it!!! I finished the knitting portion of my Knitting Olympics project!! I feel like finishing the whole sweater is within my grasp now. Doing this has really taught me a few things. For one, I'm capable of doing more than I think I can. I believe this is one the things that the Harlot wanted us to realize. Secondly, a sweater takes A LOT of work. I will no longer downplay my accomplishment when I finish a sweater. I had come to take it for granted that I would finish several sweaters a year without fully realizing all of the effort I put into them. When I strung together, consecutively, all of the hours spent knitting on a single project, I finally realized how many hours is takes. I'm not even done yet, either. Third, I CAN do ribbing without slitting my own throat due to sheer boredom. Finally, I CAN be monogomous to a project - IF I have the motivation to be. That's the key, I think. If there's no deadline, I meander from project to project. I'm like that with work and school, too. Without a deadline, I'm aimless and unable to finish a project. So, without further ado, the front of my sweater:

Now, the front needs to block for at least 24 hours. If I hadn't knitted the pieces out of order (i.e. done the sleeves before the front), I could be blocking the sleeves now while seaming together the front and knitting on the neckband. C'est la vie. Luckily, my schedule had a few days of wiggle room in it. Maybe since I'm just sitting around waiting for this thing to dry, I can cheat on it...just a little. It won't mean anything, I swear...

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Photos with Captions, little to no text

<-My personal Olymic Coach telling me that I don't have to work on Bicolor Brioche, but I certainly am not allowed to get up to get another project.

One finished bi-color brioche back (see I told you I finished the back)

<--First N.End Knitter to finish her challenge (sorry for cropping out your head, I had to blast the lighting on photoshop to show the sweater details, which wasn't very flattering to facial features)

Summary of my party last night, flowers from Lissy, Pastries from Mara, tea, and martinis. Apparently I am also auditioning to be a photographer for IK, notice my focus isn't quite where you would expect or perhaps where it should be?

Finally my own pathetic progress on my Olympic Knitting project

Friday, February 17, 2006

Dream the Impossible Dream

Last night, I FINALLY finished the sleeves on my Olympic Sweater. Strange as it may seem, I actually felt like an Olympic athlete, powering through pain and fatigue. My wrists and hands were so tired by the time I got to the sleeve capping that I could barely make a few stitches at a time without needing to rest. The whole time, I felt pain, tingling and weakness in my lower arms and wrists. I wanted to quit, but I powered through. I had a goal and I wanted to reach it. So, just as the last figure skater spun his last spin, I cast off my last stitch - like brothers in arms we went, achieving our Olympic Dream.

Of course, although he knows his fate, I do not. I have more events ahead, i.e. The Sweater Front Luge and The Seaming Downhill and The Neckband Freeskate. My final score has yet to be tallied. But alas, here they are, in all their glory. Who knew I had an inner athlete?

Today when I get back from school (after what will be a really difficult exam this morning), I will tackle the front. I ripped back my mistake to the end of the ribbing, so I still need to go through with a crochet hook and make sure the 2-2-3-2 pattern of the ribbing is correct before I can go on and do the cable portion. I think I will finish on time, but I have to say that this sweater is taking far more time than I thought it would. It's really a simple sweater but the ribbing and cabling slow me down so much and cause such stress in my wrists. I think I will really like the final product, but I can't wait to be finished. Naturally, I'm already planning my next project.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Sorry, I Have no Photos Today

Due to a computer glitch, and time constraints, no photos will be posted today. I can't get connected to the office network from my computer. Could have something to do with my dsl installation, but I don't know how to fix the problem :(
I almost dropped out of the Olympics twice yesterday because I thought my raglan shaping was or would be too long. Turns out that even without completing the decreases, I had the right number of stitches on the needle and had just the right length. Needless to say, I am trapped by brioche and stuck still in the competition. Can't bow out gracefully if the work isn't completely screwed up.
Bottom line, back is done, front is cast on, 1/2 row is completed with the front. Now I have to get back to work. I have to be in Andover, MA at 2, which means I have to figure out where Andover is...

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Knitter Disqualified for Straddling the Gate!

I just had to make an Olympic reference in my title, something that indicates that I screwed up. Last night, I saw a skier (I think) get disqualified for "straddling the gate", whatever that is, so I figured that suited me. Anyway, here's my story...

On Friday, I was so excited to start my project that I couldn't wait to get home from school. I couldn't wait to finally twist my Cotton-Ease into Debbie Bliss' Katy. By Saturday, my wrists were aching, but I was still going strong and making good progress. By Saturday night, I had even finished the back, which I thought was quite an accomplishment. I had to take Advil in order to alleviate the pain in my wrists, but who's keeping track? By Sunday, I had fallen flat on my face, tripped on my toe pick, failed to get full rotation in my triple axel. The thing I feared most had happened to me: I had lost momentum and focus because I had become bored with my project. I think I might need to join the "I Hate My Project" team. As a result, I made this mistake:

Can you spot it? I obviously couldn't for 6 inches! In my defense, I cast on and did the first 3 inches while I was talking on the phone. Every once in a while, I'd look at the sweater and think, something doesn't look right, but I couldn't figure it out. Finally, at the point I was in this picture, I saw it! I asked J if I could possibly leave it - after all, if I hadn't noticed, maybe no one else would either, right? But she said I absolutely had to fix it. So, rather than do that, I decided to work on the sleeves instead. I figured avoidance was the key. I've made OK progress on them. I'm hoping that I can finish them by Thursday night and get back to the front on Friday afternoon. I'll post pictures of my progress on Friday.

Go Olympic Project Haters!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

USA I Hate My Project Team?

So many bloggers out there are making amazing progress on their KO project, I am not one of them. I have no finished back, finished sleeves, or anything else finished for that matter. Why? you may ask, well I have really only been dedicating ordinary (for me) amounts of knitting time to the project, also I am bored and think I hate my project. My stitches are terribly uneven, and knitting Continental makes my left wrist hurt. Allison from Circles showed me a different way to purl continental, which helped my wrist but started to bother my thumb (I know, nothing but complaints, huh?) Well 4 days into the Olympics I am still on the back. On Sunday I almost cast on for my Wedding Ring Shawl, but instead to relax my left wrist I alternated Brioche with my VK Shawl, which you may have noticed languishing without progress on my progress bar for months. The Brioche is interesting in that the wrong side is almost as attractive as the right side, but man is the fabric thick, this will be one very warm sweater.

The socks that I showed in my last post aren't really from any pattern, I am kind of designing them myself, I did take the cable motif from a sweater pattern. I have not yet decided what kind of toe I will be using, so stay tuned for that!

Finally, in honor of the fact that this is the day that corporate America tells us that we are not loved if no one gives us flowers, chocolate, or jewelry (do they do this throughout the rest of the world?) a bouquet of Rowan Calmer, on Lantern Moon "stems" Remember, love is not proven on one day out of the year, but rather in the million and one small gestures, actions, and words that are exchanged daily.
Good Luck fellow Olympians!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

After all of the last-minute wranglings with trying to change my Knitting Olympics project, I ultimately decided to stick with my original choice. At 2 p.m. on Friday, I was still having misgivings about what edging to use, and it was all too uncertain. I figured that there wouldn't be time to fix anything I didn't like and would put too much pressure on me. So, I cast on for my original choice.

I got to thinking that I have never actually showed you a photo of my planned project, Katy, so I have posted one here. I'm using Cotton-Ease in Ice Blue, and so far, I've finished the back. I figure I have to keep to a pretty strict schedule in order to finish on time. During the week, I don't have a lot of time to knit, so I'm trying to stick to this schedule:

1. By Sunday night, finish at least 6 inches of the front.
2. By the end of the next week (Friday), finish the front.
3. Finish both sleeves by next Sunday.
4. Spend the next week finishing.

It's an ambitious schedule with a lot of wiggle room. I have an exam on Friday that I feel very unprepared for, so I'm giving myself lots of time to study. Who knows what will come up the next week? By trying to follow this schedule, I should finish with no problem.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Well, I was looking for a Challenge...

As everyone reading probably knows, the Knitting Olympics began yesterday. For my challenge I am doing the Bi-color Brioche from Interweave, Spring 2005. I have never done a brioche stitch, let alone a bi-color brioche, so originally learning the stitch and making the sweater were both part of my challenge, therefore I didn't do any training until Thursday, after my last post. I finally decided to read the article in that issue of IK telling you how to do a brioche stitch, and to make my working copy of the pattern. Imagine my dismay when I first realized the pattern was 7 pages long (yes I know I should have looked at it before selecting this piece.) My dismay grew when I realized that bi-color brioche was not done working both colors at the same time (a la fair isle) but rather that it was done like double knitting. I use one color to knit every other stitch, slipping the non-knit stitch along with a yarn over thing, then slide the fabric around your circular needles and knit the same row again in the other color! And the sweater is knit with size 4 needles! And it has a crochet cast on, which I successfully did once, almost a year ago, and promptly forgot how to do. Okay, deep breath, we are supposed to be challenging ourselves, and this will certainly be a challenge in terms of time.
Oh, I forgot to mention, because of the way the yo's work, I thought continental would work best with this stitch, and my continental knitting is slower than throwing.
I made my crochet chain on the bus ride home at 6 pm (I was not lucky enough to be able to cast on at 2 :( ) and picked up the stitches to get started. Then I immediately screwed up and knit 2 stitches in a row. Unfortunately I didn't realize it until AFTER I finished the first 1/2 of the row and went back to using my MC. I had to tear it out and start again. This time I followed the instructions (I thought) but it didn't look right. By the way, the wrong side looks worse in the first row than the right side. I KNEW that if I tore it out again, I would not start over again, so I left my mistake, which I hope to somewhat be able to fix when I pull out the crochet chain. I don't know why the pattern called for a provisional cast-on, I guess I will learn latter.

To add to my dissatisfaction, I received my 2 skeins of Vesper Sock yarn from Etsy! This is good news, but it makes me want to cast on with Vesper and use it now! Never mind that I have my shelridge farm socks that are still in progress (at least one is). Well, I have rambled enough, and today I have precious little knitting time, so I guess I will sign off for now. Enjoy the weekend and good luck fellow Olympians!

By the way, thank you everyone for your complements on my jacket!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Another One Bites the Dust!

Bada dum dum dum...another one bites the dust! Another FO out of the way in time for the Knitting Olympics! I think this baby sweater took longer than any other baby sweater in history. I don't whether it was because it was a boring knit or whether I didn't like the yarn, or what, but regardless, put a fork in 'er... Again, my camera has made my den look like something from the 9th level of hell, but I swear it's rather cozy in here. Since Savannah wasn't around to model her new duds, I convinced my stuffed monkey to model it instead. I can't decide if I like it or not. It's kind of boring, but I guess it will be one of those everyday type sweaters. Here are the stats:
Pattern: Pumpkin
Source: Treasury of Rowan Knits
Designer: Kim Hargreaves
Yarn: Sirdar Snuggly Baby cotton something or other
Date started: 1/14/06
Date completed: 2/9/06

It's machine washable, which is good since my neice is a real drooler. The front of her shirt is usually soaked with her dribble. I know, I know, TMI.

Last week, J was kind enough to let me in on the not so well-kept secret that a few hanks of Vesper sock yarn were going to be on sale through Etsy, so I got some while the gettin' was good. It arrived yesterday and I have to say I'm very pleased. I was a little surprised that it wasn't machine-washable, but the colors are amazing! I haven't decided on a pattern for it, but I'm sure something will come to mind. I think the variegations are subtle enough that any pattern will be wonderful.

Now for my exciting news! Well, I think it's exciting. In typical knitzalot fashion, I have decided to make my life as complicated as possible and cram as much into each and every day as I can. Toward that end, I have decided to change my Knitting Olympics project. I'm going to do extensive modifications to an already existing pattern. I figure I'll dip my big toe in the design pool and see how it feels. The pattern will be the Cabaret Raglan from the Summer 2004 Interweave Knits. I've sort of liked this pattern for a while but something about it has always bothered me. Maybe it's the way it hangs on the model or maybe it's the fact that it's shaped like a box. Who knows? But I saw it hanging up at Two Sisters and Ewe in La Mesa yesterday and I fell in love. But like love can be, it has its conditions. First of all, it needs waist shaping. I'm thinking it should come in between 3 and 4 inches through the waist section. Second, that garter stitch edging simply HAS to go. So, I flipped through my Knitting on the Edge book and picked two lace edgings that I think would be suitable. I'd appreciate your comments in which one you prefer. I feel like they pick up on the linear eyelet pattern from the top while adding visual interest to the bottom and sleeves. I think with these mods, the sweater will be magnifique. Naturally, I'm using Cotton-Ease (I SWEAR I use yarns other than cotton/acrylic blends). Unlike the other sweater I was planning, I feel like this is a suitable project because it involves a "first" - i.e. fairly major modifications to an existing pattern.