Tuesday, February 27, 2007

In Which I Finish Things and Another Adventure Begins

Would you look at that. All I needed was Reading Break to have some FOs to show for myself. A pair of socks which are now on their way to their future owner, and an Argosy to boot, using up most of one more ball of the bottomless Brunswick SheepsWool worsted stash:

Count me in with the fans of this pattern who are already crowding the blogosphere. The charts are small, easy to get the hang of. It's modular and could be adapted for just about any yarn. No wonder the Mason-Dixon ladies have already turned it into a blanket. The only drawback for me was how it started to wilt in at the sides, after blocking (probably a combo of the yarn and the lacy-ness of the pattern). But, it makes a nice light scarf that'll be even better for the spring/fall mid-range weather, and for the colder days it's long enough to wrap around twice. Three cheers.

Then, since I finally emailed something resembling a chapter draft to my supervisor yesterday (an almost-FO of another kind), and felt totally fried, I let myself swatch and cast on for 1930. I thought I would be saving this project for another couple months, figuring it would take me a while to look for the right yarn online and order it. But then last week, as G and I went on a run to Michael's, I saw the Paton's Grace on the shelf.

Now, I admit I've had my fair share of yarn snob moments over the years. (Ew, acrylic? Gag me. And that yarn selection at Michael's? Like, OMG, live in the now, people, we are so over all those Lion Brand and Bernat novelty blends, whatevs.) But then there are moments like last week when I remember that every yarn really does have A Place In This World and feel humbled. I'd written off good old dependable Patons for the shiny, shiny, Internet stores, but here was the perfect thing for this project, in every colour you could want. So we zipped down the highway to Len's Mill Store where it was discounted $0.50/ball more, and their sewing department had all the other notions I needed. Done and done.

The colour's a light taupe with a bit of a green-ish tint, called Champagne. Champagne undies. Plotz with me.

When I read the pattern and saw she was getting 6 stitches per inch on 2.75mm on sport weight cotton, I thought this was a little cracked out. Then I tried it for myself. After swatching on 3.25mm and found it too tight, I swatched on 3.50mm and did get gauge. Only to complete the bra band and find it was almost 4 inches too big. Ripped it out, re-measured, went again on 3.25mm which might now be leaning to the snug side, but there's room to stretch in blocking. It was then, after nursing my whimpering wrists and fingers, that I rethought the author's 2.75mm. And remembered that this is cotton and loose tension is your friend. And if I never again have to cast on a row of 200 cotton stitches, I can live with that.

This afternoon, I have one little letter to work on, then it's on to the next piece. Fun. Oh, and it's full of snow outside and there's hot cups of cocoa for my sad hands to hold. Someone stop me from eating the marshmallows right from the back instead of putting them in the cocoa where they belong.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Prelude to a Sweater

After all the snow came last week, we had some great sunny days despite the cold and campus was looking gorgeous. Convocation Hall was all, "I want a photo op, me!"

(And not one of my fingers fell off from the icy chill of death while I slipped my hand out of my mitt to take the picture! Go me.)

While hitting the home stretch on the current pair of socks I wrangled my guilt over the sweater that's been unfinished since the summer, and took stock of what I'm in for next. It's a long cardigan, which will be using up a chunk of the Brunswick SheepsWool worsted weight I bought on the cheap from a friend's sister. There was more than enough teal for a regular sweater, but I didn't have a pattern for a longer one. Glenna made this pattern: we were watching TV one night, Bones, and Brennan came on screen wearing this cozy long sweater with pockets and I thought, hey, that'd work. She worked up a pattern because I begged with her mad reverse-engineering-from-TV-freeze-frames skillz and here we are with the Brennan cardi, WIP. This is two sleeves and the back all blocked and folded and happy.

This is the part that's kicking my ass, this diagonal rib stitch going all up the sides of the front and back panels. It decreases up to the waist with the shaping, and then seams together with the stockinette in the middle:

Every last one of those ribs, on every RS row, uses a cable to work the slant. All the way up. In October, I'd gotten to the point where I had done the back and one of the fronts, and then suddenly my left arm started spasm-ing and pinching just above my elbow. I'll call it the Great Cabling Trauma of aught-six. Now, looking at the pieces, and looking at the size of me, I think I'll need to add an extra few stitches on each of the front stockinette sections. I'm wondering how I can extract just the diagonal rib panel from the piece I've currently knitted.

Icarus, meanwhile, is mellowing in the Lettuce Knit shopping bag it began its life in, waiting for the right time to start the next chart repeat. (And until I get the circular needles - Marianne, I took your suggestion and looked into some KnitPicks ones) Somehow my brain isn't slotting it into the WIP list like the rest. It's just a treat on standby.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Fling energy to me, baby.

...said a piece of magnetic poetry on the department common room fridge yesterday.

G, however, made the totally unauthorized bold move of putting ours back into a state of disorder again. No more gems like "have pink top and pant death", and "trip of wantful lathering."

We're into week 3 of deep freeze, it feels like. No end in sight according to the 14-day forecast. It's pretty darn crisp. Why did I spend so much time making socks when I could have been doing sweaters and long underwear?

And Icarus is growing, through one repeat of Chart 1. The colour looks so pretty - what looked like purple at first is secretly a blend of purple, royal blue, and hot pink. I can't wait to see it all finished and blocked. It still seems small, though. I hope it'll expand during blocking.

I think I have a li'l problem. I'm starting to resent my other knitting, because it's not Icarus. And the other day I offered to let a friend sit with it for a while because she was having a stressed out day. I tried to tell her that in crazy world knitting culture it meant love. I don't think she believed me.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Taking Off

Since I gave myself the night to play hooky, and I'd made some decent sock progress, I let myself cast on for Icarus. It was pretty fiddly in the beginning, but after a few rows the pattern is starting to come through. Then suddenly after an hour and a half my tea had gone stone cold and I ended up with this:

The first 18 rows of chart 1 done. It's brill. The whole thing is lighter than anything, especially with the bamboos, and in the stockinette patches you can see the pinky heathery shade starting to come through. The bamboo needles are turning out to be sticky, though. I might spring for some Addis when I get to the circular needle stage (you know, sometime next Christmas, at this rate), because a sticky join is not going to be friendly.

Oh, I am so down the rabbit hole.

Friday, February 2, 2007

New Things

I've been migrating so much over campus this week that I only saw one library sunset. But it was a nice one:

It was another bit of a slow knitting week, but which did end up with one little Finished Object, which ain't no shame, right? This was Calorimetry, from the latest Knitty issue. I used up some stash yarn (a pile of Brunswick Yarns Sheepswool, worsted weight), out of the same I did the gloves and cap in. Have you ever seen a pattern and thought, this person has read my mind? Well, I've been searching for something to keep my head warm while I wear my hair up, since more often than not it's my bad hair day solution:

It didn't turn out completely perfect - it fits a little loose which may be my gauge or the yarn. The fit is also a little weird in that, in the solid colour it totally looks like a swim cap on my head, from the front. For real, it feels like it needs a huge pink flower stuck on it or something. But all in all, this pattern's a great knit. The short rows make nice little darts on the side, and it would be easily adaptable to a bulkier yarn with fewer stitches. And you could bust your stash by making one for you and everyone you know.

The real knitting adventures were last weekend, with a faboo visit from Kelly. We adventured down to Lettuce Knit and Romini Wools, and had a great time talking yarn, grad school, and life in general. In the process she and G pulled out all her books and magazine back issues and for some reason we started talking laceweight and shawls and then it was "oh, the Icarus shawl? oh yes I've got that pattern in last year's spring issue right over here..."

And then before you know it, at the end of Saturday afternoon I came home from Lettuce Knit with this:
Two skeins of Misti Alpaca laceweight baby alpaca, in the loveliest violet/pink/blue heather ever. Destined to be an Icarus. The lady at the shop even wound it all up for me. I went back three days later and got the needles to start it on. Which won't be until I've had a few things under my belt, like the current chunk of thesis stress, so I can start it from a Place of Calm and Good Intention. (But it's okay, you can say it. I've been drinking the Special™ Kool-Aid.)

For now, it'll sit happily in its baby, pre-formed state. I pinch its cheeks. Ooochie-cootchie-coo!