Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays

Happy holidays to all you gentle readers out in the blogosphere, and I hope that 2010 will be a great year for you.

This photo was used as our holiday photo greeting card this year. Large Dog is wearing the same cowl that I used in the yarn bombing escapade. I first yarn bombed the dog, took the photos, then dressed the statue.

For those of you who are curious, the knitwear stayed on the statue for just over three weeks. We think it might have gotten removed when additional street decorations were added to the downtown area.

Friday, December 18, 2009

FO gift and a WIP

I finished this vest as an Xmas gift for my mother. For some reason, knits for others always seem to take longer than I'd like, probably because it's not for me, me, me! This is a variation on the diamond quilted vest pattern (ravelry link). The yarn is Valley Yarns Amherst. I decided to do buttons instead of a zipper, and I used seed stitch for the bands and bottom. The neckline came out too wide for a standing collar, so I just made a tapered one by using gradually smaller sized needles. The overall color and style of this vest is too subdued for my own taste, but I do like the faux-quilted stitch pattern. I can see using a different yarn and a different treatment for collar and bands to knit a more modern look for myself.

Since I finished the vest, I can get back to knitting for me, me, me. This is a self-designed top-down raglan pullover. It will have short puffed sleeves that will be brought in with pleats at the cuff. The yarn is Mirasol Tupa, a merino/silk blend. The neckline will be finished with a narrow attached scarf knit with the Mini Mochi. I've always liked the Mini Mochi, but I don't like scarves wrapped closely around my neck because it's just too warm. Also, I just don't like dealing with loose scarves. A narrow attached scarf on a wider neckline would be a fun way for me to use this yarn. I'd show a sketch of my planned sweater, but I'm afraid my sketches are undecipherable to anyone but me.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Shawl pins

Thanks for all the nice comments about my kimono vest. I thought I'd post something about that shawl pin, which some of you seemed to like. I actually have 2 of these in different sizes. I bought the smaller one at Stitches West this year, and the larger one from an LYS. The interesting thing about these pins is that they were originally marketed as hair ornaments, and you can buy them online here. The interesting about them is that they are flexible, and they have no sharp points. The bars are curved and stay attached to the ornamental figure 8. I found that with the larger one, it's best to actually bend the figure 8 a bit or else the bar tends to separate.

Monday, November 30, 2009

FO: Long kimono vest

This is the long kimono vest. I used 4 skeins of Malabrigo merino worsted, one of my favorite worsted weight yarns. Mine is shorter than the pattern's version -- it's about 29 inches from shoulders to hem. I chose this vest because I really liked the stitch pattern, and I wanted to make something that I could wear over leggings. I wanted a garment that was more or less age-appropriate, because even though I love leggings, I'm almost as old as dirt, and I did not want to look ridiculous. I'm very happy with the result.

The pattern is basically knitting 3 large swatches and sewing them together. I did add some 2x2 ribbing to the bottom, and I knitted a shawl collar. My shawl collar starts out as 2x2 ribbing, then changes to 3x3 ribbing, and then it's knitted with needles one size higher for the 1" depth of short row shaping around the neck. It sits nicely flat on my shoulders and back. I added an infinitesimal amount of waist shaping by using smaller needles for a 5" middle section.

On a styling note, I did try wearing this with a wide stretchy belt, but I think I looked like an elf, even without the elf shoes and hat!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A WIP and some yarn

I'm currently working on this long kimono vest, a free pattern. Mine won't be quite as long as pattern's version, but it is long. I chose this because I really like the stitch pattern. It's semi-open so my vest won't be too warm, and it's easy do. Also, the pattern shows up even with this dark Malabrigo worsted yarn I'm using. The color is a dark blue-black that looks great in sunlight because these overtones of blues and greens appear. In dim light, it looks like the color of squid ink. With a flash, as shown here, it looks like a medium gray. I'll have to be sure I show the FO in sunlight. I added a ribbing on the bottom, and I'll do more of a shawl collar. The vest in the photo doesn't look very trendy, but I've seen lots of long vests in the shops lately. I figure I can wear it over leggings if I want to be au courant this winter.

On the subject of Malabrigo worsted, I recently bought 5 skeins of this cognac color. I purchased the yarn on a recent trip to the Lake Tahoe area at the Lake Tahoe Yarn Company. I also bought 5 skeins of dark grey Shepherd's Wool, which is the store's best selling yarn.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Yarn bombing update: He's stylin'!

I did my little yarn bombing thing on Thursday night, Nov. 12, and I was pleased to notice today that not only is my statue still wearing his yarny goodness, but he's been re-styled! Someone else has styled him to look like a cool snow-boarding dude.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Yarn bombing

Lately, I've become mildly fascinated with the yarn bombing concept. I've even purchased this book, Yarn Bombing: The Art of Knit and Crochet Graffiti, which has photos of some great fiber art. The authors' website is I decided it was time for me to try a little yarn bombing myself, what with the holidays coming up and everything. So, I decided that this statue in our little town center clearly needed some holiday cheer.

I did this at night, and The Other Half helped with the photography and driving the getaway car. The next morning, I went back to take a daylight photo, and I was ever so pleased that no one had removed it. Doesn't he look nice with his cowl? (or is it called an infinity scarf?)

The Other Half has decided that my pseudonym should be "Yarnabomber". I'm not sure I like that name.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A sewing FO

I used to do a lot of sewing years ago, but I don't do it that often anymore. Once in a while a random neuron fires and triggers the urge to sew something. Recently, I came into possession of an interesting piece of embroidered fabric. It came from someone's estate and has an aged vintage-y look to it, but I don't think it's really that old because the fabric feels like polyester. It looked perfect for one of these trendy loose-fitting blouses, so I put the sewing machine into action. This is McCall's M5885, sans the front ruffles. This pattern is a very loose-fitting top. I cut to size 10 for the top section, but narrowed the bottom to the size 6 width. I also shaped it a little more on the sides and added a couple of long darts in the back. I could have probably cut the top parts to the size 6 and it would have been fine. I'm quite pleased with the result.

The pattern is really simple -- it's the embroidery on the fabric that makes this top interesting.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

FO: Felting Experiment #3: Peace out, man

First off, thanks for all nice compliments about my Flourish Vest. I think that pattern would look great on a lot people, and it would be easy to do small size adjustments since most of it is in reverse stockinette.

This is my third felting experiment. It's actually more of an experiment with intarsia and felting. I really like those small gift-bag shaped bags that you get from a lot of retail establishments. I use them often to carry a lunch or other small items for transport. I decided to make a similarly shaped tote bag that is a tribute to the sixties. You know, peace, summer of love, Woodstock, flower power, whatever. There are probably some people who believe the sixties never ended. This bag here, it's my attempt at keepin' the dream alive. Here's one side, with the peace symbol.

And on the other is my attempt at flower power. I think it would have been better if I used a different color for the center of the flower, but by then I was sort of tired of this intarsia thing.

I knitted this with Cascade 220, using two strands, and size 10 needles and size K crochet hook. I used about 3.25 skeins for the main color. Before starting, I knitted an 8"X8" square and did the whole wash-wash-dry-wash-dry cycles to get the final dimensions for gauge determination. The bag is knitted as a long rectangle, then the sides are knitted as smaller rectangles and attached with single crochet. The handles are done with half-double crochet.

Here are a few things I learned from this experiment:
- It's hard to get a good smooth stitch pattern when the gauge is large. As The Other Half said to me: "You don't have enough pixels"
- It's really important to keep yarn held on the underside during color changes very loose with a good amount of excess because the washing and drying will shrink this yarn and pull the pattern too tight if there isn't enough spare length
- I really don't have enough patience to do multi-colored knitting, especially if the yarn has to be held doubled.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

FO: Flourish Vest

I love this Flourish Vest from Knitscene Fall 2009. The yarn is Cascade Greenland, a superwash merino yarn. I think it's a great pattern and I'm surprised there are so few ravelry knitters interested in it. I knit the smallest size, but my gauge is looser at 17 stitches/4". My row gauge is also bigger, so I eliminated one of the smallest cable patterns (18 rows) to compensate for the extra length. I adjusted the placement of my waist decreases and increases accordingly. I used needles 3 sizes smaller for the front bands to achieve a tight button band and I used 5 instead of 4 buttons. Both of these things were done to prevent the dreaded button band gaposis.

I used 3-needle bind off on the shoulders, as I usually do. I had to do decreases on the last row of the front shoulders because the pattern is written to have more stitches on the front shoulders than on the back.

I really liked knitting with this yarn. 100 grams gets you only 137 yards, so it's not one of these light and lofty yarns. It feels very sturdy and really springy. My vest wears like a garment that contains lycra, which is actually a good thing because it results in a really good fit. The yarn is so springy that the ribbing bounces back to its unstretched state even after lots of steaming.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

WIPs and giant fuyus

It's time for an update about my works in progress (WIPs). I'm almost done with my Flourish Vest from Knitcene Fall 2009. All I've got left are the two armhole bands. It fits wonderfully so I'm very pleased with it. I eliminated one of the smallest cable repeats at the top.

I'm also working on this faux quilted vest as a Christmas gift for my mother. It's not yet Halloween, but I figure I'd better work on it now so that I won't stress about it later. This is actually a very simple and quick knit. I'll be knitting a front button band instead of installing a zipper. The stitch pattern looks nicer than I thought it would. It really does have a nice "quilted" look.

One of my favorite things about fall is the arrival of the fuyu persimmons at the fruit stands. Even better than that -- I can harvest my crop from my own giant fuyu persimmon tree. (The "giant" refers to the fruit variety, not the tree size.) Woohoo!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Slinky ribs FO

It seems like this sweater took a long time, but I'm finally done! This is Slinky Ribs from Custom Knits. My yarn is the recommended Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool.
I ditched my original idea of wearing it as reverse stockinette -- it looked good that way laying on a flat surface but not as good when worn.
I changed the lower ribbing pattern because I thought the V formation might provide a more slimming illusion for my mid-section. I used garter stitch for the bottom rows to prevent rolling. My neckline is done with purl stitches to roll inward. I did not bother with buttonholes -- I just sewed the buttons through all layers. I raised the neckline by almost 2 inches.
I really like the style and fit of this pullover. The biggest disappointment is that I'm stuck wearing a t-shirt under it because this yarn is just too scratchy. I raised the neckline just so that I could wear it standalone, but it's not going to happen. As a skein, the yarn felt okay against my skin. Oh well -- I'm hoping the short sleeves will prevent it from being too warm with the T-shirt underneath.

On the matter of the sleeves, I did not pick up stitches and knit from the armhole. I knit standard set-in sleeves and sewed them on. I'm not fond of the "afterhtought sleeves" technique in the book. I think that picking up stitches will result in sleeves that are too wide because you end up having to pick up enough stitches to cover the armhole. If you look at the schematic for this sweater's smallest size, the short sleeve circumference is 13.75", which is about 2" wider than I like for pullover sleeves. For the Lettuce Coat, I did pick up stitches for the sleeves but the pattern calls for smaller needles to keep the width smaller. The stitches at the top of the arm look a little stretched as a result.

Friday, October 9, 2009


I bought a new knitting book today, and I love it! The book is Reversible Knitting by Lynne Barr, and it is chock full of really unique knitting stitches and some very cool patterns. Even if I don't knit the designs, they provide plenty of good ideas.

I'm throbulating over this dress pattern. This could look really fabulous, or really really bad. I could wear this with leggings, and I love leggings. The problem is, it would take a lot of knitting for me to find out if it's really good or bad. Plus, once leggings go out of style next season, I'm stuck with a too-short dress or a too-long top. I'm thinking of trying it anyway.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Home improvement goddess and WIPs

Thanks for the nice comments about my green leafy cardigan. As for trying to write up and publish a pattern, that's just too much work to think about. Actually, writing a pattern just for my size wouldn't be so bad, but trying to figure it out for all the sizes, now that's way too much work!

I have to brag about being such a home improvement goddess this last weekend because I got so much done around the home front. First off, I sewed three throw pillow covers -- the two celadon leafy ones for the living room and the embroidered fabric one for the family room.

I also took down most of an overgrown aging potato vine that was collapsing the arch that used to support it.

It used to look like this:

For my biggest feat, I removed the old rotting mailbox post and installed a new post along with a brand spanking new mailbox.

To top off all this domestic goddess-ness, I baked cookies this evening.

I had to reward myself with some knitting after all that hard work. I'm close to finishing the body of Slinky Ribs from Custom Knits. I'm showing it on the reverse stockinette side because I intend to finish it and wear it that way. (I like the way it looks inside out). I changed the bottom rib section a little bit.

Finally, I cast on for the Flourish Vest from Knitscene Fall 2009. My yarn is Cascade Greenland. I'm going to shorten it a little bit by removing one of the smallest cable patterns. My gauge is a little looser, so it will be a little wider than the smallest size, which is what I want.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Green Leafy FO

This is a self-designed cardigan. The yarn is Plymouth Royal Silk Merino. The gauge is 19 stitches/4". I used about 900 yards.
I guess I'm calling it "green leafy" after reading your nice comments from the last entry. It's a standard construction cardi, knit in the round and split at the armholes. The sleeves are knit flat and sewn. I would have preferred to knit the body in flat pieces also, but I was afraid my seam would not look that great at the folded hem and the tuck stripe. I wasn't that picky about the sleeve underside seam, as it's not very visible. Those seams turned out fine after all, so I could have knit the body as pieces.

Here's a summary of the sweater's main features:
- The sleeve and bottom hems are narrow 6-row folded hem, begun with a provisional cast-on.
- A 5-stitch attached I-cord is used to finish the front and neck.
- A tuck strip done by picking purl bumps from five rows below separates the top and bottom sections and also delineates the "cuff".
- The leaf pattern is called a pea pod eyelet pattern in my Super Stitches Knitting book.
- I included some short rows in the front bust section so that the tuck stripe stays level from front to back.
- I found a cute duck button for it.
- It is sized at about zero ease for the body and a little positive ease for the sleeves.

The technical tip that I learned from knitting this is that narrow folded hems and tuck stripes require a smaller needle size to prevent flaring because those stitches tend to stretch and widen the gauge a bit.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Contest Winner and WIPs

Thank you all for entering my giveaway contest! I was surprised at how many people dropped by to my little nook in the blogosphere to say hi. I eliminated the non-entry comments, then used to pick a number. Without further ado, the winner is ... (drum roll please)...|chee-uh| from |muhng-keez| |luhv| |yahrn|! Thanks for visiting my blog, and enjoy the yarn and the knitting book!

Now, onto my latest knitting projects. I've been working on Slinky Ribs from Custom Knits. (ravelry link) Mine will be a variation of slinky ribs. First off, I've made the front neckline a little higher so that I will be able to wear it without a layering piece underneath. Then, I decided that I will finish this as a reverse-stockinette sweater. This yarn looks good on the purl side, and the knit stitches on the lower pattern section would stand out. Finally, I'll be changing the bottom rib pattern a little bit.

Secondly, I'm almost finished with my self-designed one-button cardigan. The bottom is a narrow rolled hem done with a provisional cast-on. The accent below the bust line is a tuck stripe. The front and neckline edges are finished with an attached I-cord. Sleeves are 3/4 (or more like 5/6) length. This is going to be one of my favorite cardigans, I think.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

It's a giveaway contest!

Hi there bloggy friends! I've decided it's time to have a giveaway. I've never done one before because I figured that the number of entrants would be in the single-digit range, and that would be just too embarrassing. I might be able to hit the two digit range by now.
I've purchased quite a bit of new yarn lately, and the leftover skeins from prior projects are taking up space in the yarn bureau. These are all yarns that I've used for garments that I still wear. I think there's enough of each for a simple accessory.
Here's the prize haul:
-- 2 balls plus a little extra of magenta Debbie Bliss cashmerino aran, which I used to make the Lush and Lacy cardigan.
-- 3 balls of butter yellow Debbie Bliss cashmerino dk, which I used to make my self-designed pullover.
-- 2 skeins of powder blue Tahki Yarns Sierra, used to make Nadine.
-- 2 balls of Gerifil Spaghetti, used to make this skirt. I think this yarn has long been discontinued, but it would be great for making a market bag.
-- 1 skein plus some extra of elsebeth lavold silky tweed, used to knit this top. The remainder would make a nice airy scarf. I would knit one myself except that I don't wear scarves.
-- The Simple Style book by Ann Budd. This book has a lot of nice patterns, but I will admit that they don't quite appeal to me. They may appeal to many of you other knitters out there.

I guess this is a de-stashing and de-lurking contest. All you have to do to enter is just leave a comment and say hi, or anything else, as long as it's nice! Please note that I cannot respond via email to most comments, so make sure that you leave some trace of how I can find you. A ravelry id will do. If I can navigate to your blog via your comment, that will work also. If all else fails, you can leave an email address.

If you want to say hi, but not enter the contest, just let me know.

I'll close the contest at midnight Pacific Daylight Time, Friday September 11.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Yarn crawl

I just returned from a short vacation to the northern California wine country and San Francisco, and of course I had to check out some yarn shops. My first stop was at Knitterly in Petaluma. This shop has a really cute store front and a lot of unique yarns. I also like that vibe of lots-of-yarn-everywhere look.

I purchased some more Knit One Crochet Too 2nd Time cotton there.
Next up was Sonoma Yarn in Sonoma. This is a relatively small shop, located away from the main shopping area. The staff does include Frances Purl, the dog. I did not find any yarn to buy, but I did get some long straight Bryspun flexible size 3 needles, which are also known for their sharp points.

In Napa, I visited Yarns on First. This shop has a modern look with great lighting, and all the yarns are organized by color. The owner is friendly and the front of the shop has a table where friendly knitters were doing their thing. The wall shelves do go quite a ways up in height. I purchased some Berroco Lustra there.

My last yarn shop stop was at the ever-so-fun Imagiknit in San Francisco, where I purchased some Plymouth Fantasy Linen.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

FO: Felting experiment #2

After using the big felted bag for a while, I decided I really liked it. I wanted to try another felting project, but making something smaller. Between knitseashore talking about felted bags and Mr. Puffy talking about beading, I got inspired to try making a beaded felted small bag. This is what I would call a "casual dressy bag", whatever that means.

I really love the end result. I used some Cascade 220 sitting around in my stash, knitting with 2 strands, using an improvised pattern. I had to fuss with the bead placement and the decrease rate on the flap to get it just so. The beads were purchased from Global Beads, Inc., a local bead shop. They were only a dime a piece. The bag came out nicely dense and shrank a goodly amount in the wash cycles. I was a bit surprised that it did not fuzz up as much as I thought it would. It's mainly air dried. I did not want to risk using the dryer and having the beads bang against the walls. I stuffed a wash cloth into it while drying to shape it a bit.
It's large enough to hold a small wallet, phone, and a few other essentials. After all, what more does a girl need when attending some fancy soiree.