archives: knitting

slow, slow progress

It’s been a full month since I posted my swatch of the lace pattern in Brooke Nico’s Lace Batwing Top from the latest Vogue Knitting. And I’m pleased to report that I’m nearly finished! I thought I would be done by now but my hands are in incredibly bad shape, so I can’t knit for long periods anymore.

lace batwing top progress

Turns out I love, love, love knitting this pattern though. The yarn (Artyarns Ensemble Light) is a dream to work with (50% cashmere, 50% silk: how could you go wrong?) and, best of all, it seems, to me, to work together perfectly with the needles I’m using (addi clicks) so the experience is nothing short of lovely. However, tiny needles and fussy lace (oh how I hate ou double decreases!) mean aching thumbs, wrists—basically my whole hands.

The pattern, which at first seemed so daunting, is nearly memorizable. The only thing I couldn’t be confident I’d remembered every row was how many stitches were at the edges, outside the repeat. A quick glance at the chart was all I’d need, though. Because I hoped to finish this quickly, I employed a few time-saving measures, such as wrapping the ssk stitches backward on the plain rows, so that they are sitting on the needles correctly when it comes time to decrease them.

lace batwing top

As I type this I am taking a break from the sweater, but I’m about 10 rows shy of a completed front. I really really want to wear the sweater in a week at my cousin’s bridal luncheon, so I’ve got a deadline but I’m also trying to preserve the feeling in my hands! Wish me luck I can do both in the coming days.

WIP Wednesday?

Every year I resolve to post more WIPs, but I almost never do. This is the year, I swear! In fact, I swatched the other night so I ought to get some credit for that, right?

Artyarns Ensemble Light, Vogue Knitting Lace Batwing Top Brooke Nico

This is Brooke Nico‘s latest pattern in Vogue Knitting, the Lace Batwing Top, and I’m using the exact yarn called for—Artyarns Ensemble Light, in the same delicate blue color even. It’s been a long time since I knit any complicated lace, and whoa. The pattern has a long repeat, and while I bet I’ll eventually memorize it, well, it did not click for the short duration of the swatch. I’m going to have to employ some of those tried and true tricks for following a chart—a long Post-It should do just fine. But I’ll admit it’s kind of pleasant to be knitting something that’s actually mentally challenging as opposed to all the mind-numbing garter stitch I’ve knit of late! This one is going to take concentration.

Originally I thought I’d tweak the pattern—oh it would be so simple, I thought—by making the knits twisted. I thought it would give a little more depth, and I honestly love knitting twisted stitches. But then I started knitting it and I realized how foolish I was being. There are decreases, and much of the pattern is worked flat, and who am I kidding? That was overly complicating the lovely design, and was entirely unnecessary. I did make one small change, though: Instead of a sk2p for the double decrease, I’m doing a centered double decrease. It just seems slightly more elegant even if it’s a bit more fussy to execute.

Artyarns Ensemble Light

Knitting this complicated lace, which is going to definitely mean slower going, is going to be completely rewarded by using this yarn. You guys. I actually said to Jason that I don’t know how I’ll go back to knitting with normal yarn again. Because 50% silk, 50% cashmere? This is the stuff. I’m going to go block the swatch to be thorough, but I can’t wait to get going on the knitting. Casting on for the ribbing asap!

honey cowl

honey cowl

I made a Honey Cowl too! After several people suggested it to me when I asked for pattern ideas for worsted-weight yarn, I jumped on the bandwagon.

honey cowl details

The yarn is Cascade 220 Superwash, and I actually took advantage of that by hand washing it and then throwing it in the dryer (because wet-blocking makes it grow to at least double the size!). I checked on it every five minutes for the first fifteen but then grew tired of sitting in my apartment building’s basement, so I went upstairs for the last 30 minutes and left it to its own devices; when it came out it had juuust started to slightly felt to itself, but it was easily pulled apart. Phew! I’m ridiculous, aren’t I? I started out so cautious but then got lazy—I’m super lucky it worked out in the end. Putting it in the dryer got it back down to the original size and firmed it up a lot, which is what I wanted. I love the color; the slight heathering gives it a lot of depth.

It was knit for my friend Allison, who works in our industry but doesn’t knit (yet) and didn’t have any handknit items! The honey cowl was an easy, mindless knit, great for knitting on the subway—it would be ideal for group knitting, too, because you’d be unlikely to mess it up. But it didn’t capture me the way it has for so many people (I won’t make the pattern again, that is). I also couldn’t bear to go the full 11 inches in height; I quit at about 9. She likes it just fine, though!

happy honey cowl recipient

color affection

color affection shawl

When I bound off my Color Affection the other day, I did it with loathing. I had been working on this pattern since March of last year. Every row was a small torture—the final length is something like 7 feet long!! Now that it’s done, though, I must objectively admire its beauty. The colors are just what I wanted.

color affection

But I’m ambivalent. It’s a million miles long, so it can be wrapped around and around, which I like to do with scarves, but it’s unwieldy. I don’t understand how to wrap it successfully like a shawl. What have I done??

color affection shawl

 

color affection shawl

I kind of can’t believe I knit something so enormous; it’s no surprise it took so long. I know I went too far with the first color and decided not to rip, so I actually made it longer than the pattern expects. Despite my lack of affection for it, I’ll tell you that I saw so many Color Affections in the aisles of the Vogue Knitting LIVE Marketplace this past weekend, and every time I did I thought to myself “I made that too!” It made me feel as if we were all in some club, like those who’ve climbed Mt. Everest or survived a harrowing experience together. We’re the war-worn, the triumphant, the ones who made it to the end. And for that, I do feel pride and kinship. (Don’t even tell me how much you adored knitting it and disagree with it being a torture, ok? Let me pretend we all feel the same way.)

color affection shawl

Details: Light gray is Hazel Knits Artisan Sock yarn, which I bought at Twisted in Portland. Dark gray is Periwinkle Sheep sock from Rhinebeck, always my first stop at New York Sheep & Wool. Green is Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock that Felicia kindly gave to me when I told her my whole whiny story about choosing a third color (my first color, a mustard yellow, turned bumblebee with the grays and I hated the look, so I frogged). I used a size 6 needle (though I wish I’d used 5s). This was technically cast on in June; the one I started in March did not use any of the recommended methods you’ll find on Rav to make the edges looser (ultimately I wrapped the first stitch twice, which made a huge positive difference), and I was unhappy with the color. So it took about six months in all, with a ton of breaks.

Photos taken by the fantastic Kriegs, on a walk we took down to the Verrazano Bridge to see—or, rather, not see—it in the fog.

finished in 2012

I almost didn’t do a wrap-up this year, but I just realized that I have done one every year for many many years now and why should I suddenly stop? First up, my knitting accomplishments for the year:

finished knits

Who knew I was able to complete so much while at the same time whining about not being “able to knit” because of my thumb pain? There really isn’t such a dearth of knitting, is there? There are two missing projects: one is a design I did for a book that’s not coming out for a while yet so I probably shouldn’t show it to you anyway. I also knit a hat for a work giveaway that I didn’t document at all. Those coffee cup cozies were a little thing I did for Knit Simple magazine. They assigned me cozies, and I couldn’t decide which pattern to submit, so I showed Editor in Chief Carla Scott all of them, and she said “yes! we’ll do all three!” Ha.

I like that you can see how I used the same yarn for my Buckwheat as the hat for Carol; I should start making hats out of all my leftover yarn! Thanks again are due to Caro Sheridan for the photo shoots we were able to do this year, for Buckwheat, the Bulky Topper, and the green hat!

I’d declared 2012 “the year of the quilt” and I wasn’t wrong. It was definitely a year of sewing. With my injured thumb, it was far less painful to sew, so our entire dining room area was pretty much unusable as a place of eating. (“Be careful! Don’t spill on that!” gets old fast.) Here are all my quilty endeavors (plus an embroidery project that I never blogged):

year in quilt

That lion embroidery? I made that for my dear friend’s baby; because mom and I met while taking yoga together 6 days a week for a few years, I added “simhasana” to the embroidery (the Sanskrit for lion pose) and stitched the little lion’s tongue sticking out (like you do in the pose). Just a little touch of something personal, and a really cute result. The one in the lower right has yet to be shot in daylight, but that will come soon, and the one in the middle on the bottom actually is basically finished and has been in use but has never been photographed! I need to get on that. The quilting that I did this year was mostly on my tiny machine, but I did do a mix of machine and hand quilting on the star quilt that hasn’t been blogged. I feel really confident in my skills as a quilter now, too, so I’m really happy with what I did this year.

Earlier in the year the last of my bees finished up, so I have some bee blocks in my catalog of finished stuff:

year in bees

I wasn’t good at documenting these, actually. And in fact, I may have never fully finished the Dresden plate in the bottom middle, but I don’t remember where I put the blocks-in-progress! (This is what happens when I actually clean the apartment.) I’m so glad that I participated in a total of 3 bees. You really gain so much skill and knowledge so quickly. I know that bees are tricky—I mean, you’re trusting other people to have the same standards and skills as you—but I also enjoyed being exposed to so many different kinds of blocks and ways of approaching a quilt. Actually, in my finished quilt mosaic are two of the bee quilts that I had made: the picnic blanket came from my Twitter Bee, and the stars (the unfinished one in the mosaic) was from KBeeC, a bee among my KBC friends. The third bee, the Solid 6, comprises most of my finished bee blocks in the mosaic above… But I picked a block for everyone to make that it turns out I really don’t like very much. I’m torn as to what to do with the blocks that were made for me, so I’m sitting on them until the right idea comes along.

What’s up for this year? Well, the month of January is going to be basically a rest from quilting. I’ve got two business trips, we have houseguests, and I’m just, I must confess, tired. I like having a clear dining room table! I’m enjoying just sitting on the couch watching TV when I get home—plus lately I’m so busy I get home late from work. But I’m sure when I’m back from TNNA things will come back—I intend this to be the year of sewn clothing! (Something that, despite having taken classes on the subject more than once, I am still quite intimidated by.) But I still have a bunch of quilt ideas swirling around in my brain that I can’t wait to make real. There will always be knitting, too, of course, don’t worry. Just this morning I bound off on a long-suffering project—stay tuned!