September 29, 2007

Fishbed and chips

Found a yarn store near my house. My actual LYS is The Gifted Purl. It's right on the west bank of the Fox River (as in Prison Break's penitentiary). If you cross the bridge over the river and walk about 3 blocks north there's another yarn store. It never showed up on Google searches so it was totally under my yarn store radar. I finally heard about it in the Chicago Knitter's group on Ravelry, so, I checked it out.
It's called Fishbed Knitting Emporium. It's a surprisingly large space with much yarn, including my coveted Malabrigo. I went in just to browse, but, I always feel the need to make at least one purchase. While I was wandering I ran into Cascade's Ecological Wool. I thought to myself, "this looks familiar..." The price and yardage were a good deal but I couldn't figure out what I'd do with it. And then I realized where I had seen it... If you don't know about the umm... 'significance' of Ecological Wool, it's time to read more blogs. ^_^ Even though I originally had no desire to ride the wave, I decided I'd hop on the bandwagon because it was so soft and so cheap, and I brought a hank up to the register along with this beauty:

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It's Mirasol Sulka. A Merino, Alpaca, Silk blend. So delicious. I have no idea what it's going to be, but, I love the color, like dark denim.

Back to my Ecological story. I set it on the counter and the owner asked what the yarn was for. I was like, "A.. umm... small ..... blanket."
And then she said something along the lines of, "There's a guy who blogs and he designed a lap blanket off of a doily using this yarn."
Shocked, I stammered, "That's what I bought this for!"
I love that the store is Internet savvy. I asked her if she knew about the yardage, she wasn't sure so we decided to look it up. Good stuff. I ended up buying 2 skeins, in a nice, natural oatmeal-ish color.

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I'm slowly falling out of love with Alpaca. (The horror!) I've been knitting with the Misti Alpaca Chunky and it's so soft and lofty, a dream to work with... but it's REALLY shedding. There are hairs floating in the air and tiny hairballs stuck to my clothes and rolling around my room. The worst part is noticing something in my mouth, reaching in and finding Alpaca fiber. It's CRAZY. I've felt this weird lump in my stomach for the past few days, like gas that won't pass o_O and all I keep thinking is: an Alpaca-hair bezoar.

I finished knitting the Branching Out scarf last night, it's currently awaiting blocking. It was such a relief. The scarf has been a WIP for a while now, and, I finally sat down and made myself finish it. Like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. And, despite have a few more UFO's I decided to start the Exchequered scarf.

I watched the Double Knitting video a few times and decided I was ready. It started with a cable cast on... that sucked until I realized that I had to knit REALLY loose. I figured I'd first try one color in my left, Continental style, and the second color in my right hand, English style. This was working out with only slight awkwardness. I'm not much of a Continental knitter, and, I actually have not yet purled Continental style, but, knitting was working out really well. After two rows I changed it up a bit and did two colors on my right hand since that's my style. =) It was definitely moving faster, but, for some reason I couldn't keep good tension on the yarn that wasn't around my index finger so I switched back to double handed. Watching my hands looks really complicated and cool.
After 2 more rows I noticed that my two colors weren't very... contrast-y. So, I'm gonna put it on hold and see if I can find either a lighter blue or a lighter brown. Preferably a lighter brown 'cause the blue I have is so vibrant and perfect.

I'm gonna take a break from my Coach knock off due to the mythical bezoar forming in my stomach. Leaving me with... starting the Hemlock Ring. Hahaha. I'm afraid my ball winder won't be able to handle the 400+ yards.

Wind it up!
and knit hard. ;)

September 28, 2007

On collecting

I love visiting LYS's. It's my goal to visit each one in Illinois. Or, all of them North of 80 and as far West as Dekalb. Here is my current list:

  • The Gifted Purl - West Dundee
  • I'd Rather Be Knitting - Long Grove
  • Knitche - Downer's Grove
  • Wool & Co. - Geneva
  • Needle Things - St. Charles
  • Village Yarn Shop (Closed) - Geneva
  • Loopy Yarns - Chicago
  • Three Bags Full - Northbrook
  • Village Knit Whiz - Glenview
  • Fringe - Aurora
  • Close Knit - Evanston
  • Chicago Fabric, Yarn and Button - Chicago
  • Nina - Chicago
  • Lizzie's - Wheaton
  • Never Enough Knitting - Wheaton

The last two were added today. Never Enough is a fairly small store with a relatively small selection, but, a huge amount of patterns, and they also seemed to carry many quilting supplies. Lizzie's is just two blocks down the street and it's a significantly larger store with a really huge, well organized, selection. They're all put into black shelves, the smaller ones in perfect little cubby holes. At first the black shelves were a bit daunting and depressing, but, they REALLY make the yarn jump out at you, and it all looks so clean.

From Lizzie's I bought this:
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It was a brand I hadn't seen before and the colors really jumped out at me. Currently, no plans for this pretty yarn.

From Never Enough I bought these:
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Two hanks of my usual go-to yarn: Cascade 220. There were others that were calling out to me, but, sadly they didn't come in colors I wanted. Cascade comes in pretty much EVERY color so I was able to find a match. With these I plan to knit Exchequered which brings me to my next subject.

I think I'm a "collector" of knitting. Not only do I want to collect the experiences of visiting every yarn store in Northern Illinois but I also want to have every knitting skill and technique under my belt. I also have fleeting fantasies of using every brand of yarn... but, that's a bit of an enormous and rather daunting task.
I've purchased the yarn to knit Eunny's End Paper Mitts in order to get color work down, or at least Stranding/Fair Isle. Exchequered will conquer Double Knitting.
I made a list the other day of skills I still need to attempt and master. There were a lot. Some of the techniques I'd like to try sooner (rather than later) include Magic Loop, Entrelac, and Beaded Knitting. Two socks at the same time calls out to me, but, I hate knitting socks. Bobbles and Intarsia, on the other hand, are skills that I'd need to learn but seriously have no desire to--they are at the bottom of my list.

I've been working on writing out the pattern for my DS Lite case, more details on that in my next blog.

I want to be a Master Knitter!
Knit hard!

September 25, 2007

This butter is really yellow

I seem to be on some sort of blogging binge. I just can't stop updating! =) Hopefully this trend continues.

As promised, I have some pictures to share. First, here's my fairly large Malabrigo purchase from Loopy.

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Like little bundles of love. On the subject of love, I LOVE the color. It's called Olive. Very fitting.
Oh, Malabrigo. I e-mailed them the other day. I started this group on Ravelry called Malabrigo Junkies. We were discussing our favorite colors (Charrua!) and someone mentioned Little Lovely. I have not had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Lovely but she seemed to be quite coveted. The possibility of her being retired came up--a member may have read it somewhere I think, so, to finalize the matter I e-mailed the people up in Malabrigo land and asked them about their color cycle and retirees. (I also oh-so-shamelessly promoted Malabrigo Junkies). I got a reply in two days from Tobias who said that they've only retired a few colors and that Little Lovely (as well as Charrua) were still on the color card. He also mentioned that he'd be happy to link our group to the website. Mmm.
Just for that we'll celebrate with another picture of this delicious yarn:

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I'm really churning out those bookmarks. They're really quick and easy. They'll probably serve as backup Christmas gifts.
The pattern calls for a 1.25mm crochet hook, but, unfortunately the store I bought the Malabrigo lace from had a 2.5 as their smallest. I purchased it anyway. On my way home I stopped at a Hobby Lobby and picked up a 2.0mm and a 1.5mm. 1.25 Just seemed to small for Malabrigo's thick&thin-ness. It turned out that the 1.5 was too small, I couldn't even hook the yarn. The 2.0 worked but the resulting bookmark ended up tight and lost a lot of stitch definition after I ironed it. I tried the 2.5mm and it worked perfectly.


Yay, tassels.
Crochet is surprisingly easy (and fast!) once you get a good feel for how to angle the hook. My tension is still a bit all over the place, but, I think it's becoming steadier as I continue to pop out these bookmarks. I love that there's only one live stitch, it's easy to drop it and pick it back up again. In knitting, when my needle falls out, I stop breathing and move as slowly as possible as not to disturb the now live stitches who's seemingly only desire is to drop. And then painstakingly re-inserting my needle, making sure each stitch is facing the correct direction. Tedious!
While, I AM growing a certain fondness towards the hook, I will always prefer the knitted fabric to the crocheted.


My sweater finally dried. My room is no longer filled with the odd scent of wet wool. The sweater though smells sweet and natural. I actually don't smell the Soak on it at all--I may not have used enough. The directions say one cap-full for every gallon... I soaked my sweater in my bathtub... how many gallons is that? I naively guessed 2 gallons because I ended up only using 2 cap fulls. ^_^ Oops?
Mr. Seamless Hybrid wasn't dry before my photoshoot, so, I'll have to take pictures of him another day.

I'll leave you with Branching Out. This scarf has been waiting patiently underneath my desk for me to finish the sweater. He's finally getting some pattern repeats knitted and is looking good, albeit a bit oatmeal-y.


I'm giving tassels a chance.
Knit hard!

September 24, 2007

A sweater in less than a month

The sweater is ALMOST finished. Today I finished basting the neck hem and weaving in all the ends. I gave it a soak with Soak and blocked it. Blocking is magic, it really evened out all my weird stitches and made the fabric lie really flat. Certain aspects of my sweater are a bit scary though.

  • The sleeves are too long. Which, isn't too bad, I suppose.
  • The bottom edge is flaring out. Even though I put in decreases in the hem it's still flaring out a bit, I think I'll have to run some elastic through the bottom to keep it in check.
  • I'm not fond of the shoulders. They're a bit big and oddly shaped. Maybe now that everything is blocked it'll fit me better.

So, now I'm just waiting for it to be dry. I definitely plan to give the hems a good pressing with a hot iron. They're a bit thick and could use some flattening out. I can't wait to start my next one.

Speaking of next one... I hit up Loopy on Thursday with prodigy student Danielle and my cousin Ryan (who I recently taught the basics of knitting). My birthday was September 3rd and my friend Kevin generously gave me a $50 gift certificate to Loopy. It was time to spend it. My first grab was a pair of Lantern Moon needles. I love them. And after more searching there were no yarns that were calling out to me. I decided I'd just grab a hank of Malabrigo (my usual go-to purchase) ... and then I thought to myself, "I have $50 to spend solely on yarn..."
I ended up ditching the needles and buying 7 beautiful skeins of Malabrigo in the Olive colorway. Sweater number two, coming up! =) Pictures of my mountain of Mmm soon. I'm still deliberating on a pattern.

I've been craving the Malabrigo lace. Danielle got a free mini-hank of it from the Malabrigo booth at Stitches Midwest and I've been coveting ever since. I never bought it though because I really have no desire to knit lace... but, I ran into this awesome fan bookmark pattern for crochet a while ago... I decided this would be the perfect project for some lacey Malabrigo. I drove 20 minutes to Wool & Co. Got myself some lace and a tiny crochet hook and I was on my way.


It's in the Polar Morn color way. So soft and delicious. The fan pattern is pretty easy too. I'm totally cranking them out now. Pictures of these will be up soon as well.


Had my first yarn dyeing experience the other day. After the trip to Loopy, Danielle and I spent a few hours knitting. I was working on a bookmark and my Coach knock-off scarf (see below) and she decided to knit a cupcake. She chose yellow for the cake part and white for the frosting. The pattern included a cherry on top but she had no red yarn, so, we decided to dye a bit of the white yarn with food coloring.
Overall it worked. We based it on some of the theory I picked up through reading about knitting. Our process was putting water in a pot and boiling it. Adding plenty of red food coloring and a drop of blue... and then cooking the yarn. After a quick check on-line we realized vinegar was an essential ingredient so we added a splash during cool down. After a good rinse we hung it to dry for like... 10 minutes... Danielle couldn't wait so we ended up taking a blowdryer to it. In another 10 minutes it was completely dry.
Good times.

Here's my Coach knock-off scarf, btw.


The Alpaca is SO soft and great to work with. Sadly, though, the colors just aren't doing it for me. I really wanted the middle brown to be more of a tan or camel color. I guess it works though, and, who can really argue with Misti Alpaca Chunky. SO SOFT!

I'll have to stop myself from starting my 2nd sweater and get to work on Christmas gifts. I've already been getting requests. x_X
I'll have pictures next time of my completed Seamless Hybrid Sweater and the really cool fan bookmarks.

Blocking is magic.
Knit hard!

September 20, 2007

Hems and stubborn Cast On edges

On the continuing saga that is my sweater...
Last night I ripped back the neck. Using good old I stuck a few dpns a few rows below the hem turn. Picking out my previous basting was fairly easy and it frogged quite nicely to the row that my dpns were sitting in. Ahh, I love when knitting works out perfectly. I then proceeded to put my turn in right away so the neck would be a bit shorter than before, and then I knit about 3/4 of an inch for the hem. Haven't basted yet, though.

Inserting my needles into a 'target' row were really easy so I decided it was time to tackle the bottom of the body... the dreaded Cast On edge. I picked up stitches two rows above the ribbing. Once everything was secure I pulled out my tiny little embroidery scissors and just began cutting off the the CO. I figured I didn't need to be careful so I probably cut into a row or two as well. In my head it all made sense; I'd find a row that was still in tact and pull the yarn and it would all unravel... but in reality this did not happen.
"That's odd", I thought to myself. So, I cut off another row... still no luck. I figured I could just wiggle all the stitches and make them drop to my destination row. This was working but, for some crazy reason only every other stitch was drop-able.
At this point I started freaking out. I was pulling, madly, at the cut up ribbing, violently dropping any stitches that were willing. It suddenly dawned on me that maybe cutting my sweater wasn't such a good idea.

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walking in a spider web

About half an hour later all possible unraveling was done. I was left with this crazy spider web of yarn that did not want to undo itself. And here I've been for the past year and a half thinking my scarf would fall apart into a tangle of yarn on a whim if I didn't weave in my Cast On tail well enough. Trust me, it will not fall apart.
I finally realized that I would have to spend the rest of the night undoing each stitch individually until I hit my destination row, so, I set about that horrible, horrible task.

After more than 2 hours the task was complete. There was much snipping and untangling but, I reached my previously inserted needle with no stitches lost. I counted all 200 of them twice. =)

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On the left, with the wooden dpns, is the neck which ripped back oh-so-smoothly. On the right is my Boye interchangeable circular holding on to the stitches that were hell.
I plan to reknit the bottom 2 inches tonight, turn, and add an orange hem. If I'm not tired I'll baste and then tomorrow I'll weave in all the ends hiding in the body. And finally, I'll be done.

Actually, I'll have to block the sweater and then I'll be really done. Speaking of blocking, after a previous disaster with laundry detergent and Malabrigo, I decided to invest in some Soak wool wash.

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I considered buying Eucalan but these looked so much more hip. Packaging definitely affects my shopping. I'm happy about the scents, they're not too strong and none of them smell excessively fake or chemical-based. They're surprisingly sophisticated. Well, maybe not the citrus flavor... hahaha, I totally get dish soap from it.

Here's to even stitches. ^_^
Knit hard!

September 17, 2007

sweater, why must you be so difficult? play nice!

Oh, sweater. I finished the shoulders and the neck back on Saturday. I tried it on and it fit pretty well. Since then I've been working on all of the finishing. So far I've put in EZ's phony seams on the arms and grafted the under arms to the body. I added a hem on one wrist and started on the other.

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orange hems!

I decided I'd just go with st st and a hem for the neck, I basted it down last night when I realized I didn't decrease after the turn. o_O Now it flares out so I'm definitely going to have to rip back a few rows and re-knit.

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neck! fix yourself!

I hope to be done in a few more days.

On Saturday I went to the Renegade street fair with Danielle and Moy. Right when we got in I saw two huge knitting needles in the window of a store. It was Nina. I've read a few reviews from local knitters about Nina and they turned out to be pretty accurate. The store is definitely not your grandmother's knitting shop. It's very clean and modern. They yarn is well laid out and organized. It's small, but, uses its space well. A few reviews mentioned that staff was a bit snobby but I had fine service. As a guy, when I'm in a new yarn store I usually hear, "Are you purchasing a gift?" or "Who are you buying yarn for?" But, here at Nina I was asked, "What will you be knitting?" Good stuff.
I ended up buying two balls of Rowan's Little Big Wool. It was on sale. =)

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I think I'll be knitting a better Anthropologie-inspired Capelet.
The fair was cool, not really what I expected. I was thinking the crowd would be similar to the crowd at the Midwest Fiber and Folk Fair... or even Stitches Midwest, but, the shoppers here were younger, more diverse, and in equal amounts of men and women. Very cool. Sadly, my only purchases were a few pins/buttons made of cloth.

The rest of Saturday consisted of hours upon hours of knitting with Danielle and Moy. I was finishing up my shoulders and neck, Danielle was working on a test mitten, and Moy was working on an adult-sized baby booty for herself. ^_^ I love yarn.

So, last week I mentioned my hunt for Hand Maiden Sea Silk. I brought Kevin along with me to Knitche, the yarn store/coffee shop, and I found it... sadly, this beautiful, unique sea silk was almost $40! Definitely out of my budget at the moment. I did end up getting my hands on some Malabrigo.

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That color is Shocking Pink, soon to be a DS Lite case for Anne and Lora.

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This one is actually Malabrigo Gruesa. A thick and thin yarn. I have mixed feelings towards thick and thin yarn but for some reason this one called out to me. It said, "We can make cables look really funky!" Because it actually spoke words I decided to buy it. Soon it will be a DS Lite case for Sunmi. ^_^ Hmm, I think I'll have to publish my pattern somewhere.

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Mmm, this was an impulse buy. I can't resist the colors! This one is Mariposa. It's mainly spring and sea greens mixed with yellow-ish greens and dashes of light blue, purples and browns. I think Mariposa will be sitting in my stash for now until I come up with something awesome to knit her into.

Now it's back to my sweater.
Knit hard!

September 12, 2007

finally, a dream

I had a knitting-related dream last night. I think it was a quickie. In my dream the sweater I'm currently working on was finished, it ended up being a raglan sweater, very baseball style with blue sleeves and shoulders and a heather grey body. I was really excited that it was finished so I started examining it to make sure there were no mistakes. As I was looking I realized that everything was slightly off center, like my pieces twisted slightly clockwise as I was working up. I figured a little stretch, prodding, and blocking could fix it... but then I noticed that it had knitted up WAY too small for me. I remember thinking that I had Cast On 200 stitches for the body (which I actually did) and if that wasn't enough then I definitely would need more yarn than I had purchased. There were many fleeting thoughts on solutions and problems, the main one being finding the same dye lot and trying to remember the LYS I bought the original yarn from. It was a very disappointing feeling, that after all this time and hard work my sweater would only fit a toddler. I remember trying to stretch out the body and trying to fit myself into it... and, that was all.

In real life, I've joined the three pieces of my sweater together on one needle and I've been working around. I should be getting to the shoulders soon. I keep messing up on the decreases o_O. Being very anti-frog, I've decided to just sneak a few k2together's in my non-decrease rounds. Hopefully it will all work out.

I've been wanting to get my hands on some Hand Maiden Sea Silk. The concept of the yarn is very interesting and it looks like fun to knit with. I found a store about 45 minutes away that sells it, I may head down there tomorrow or Friday.

Here's a scarf I made a few weeks ago from that really plump Briar Rose yarn.

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I love the colors, and how great a simple garter stitch looks... but, I think the suggested needle size was all wrong for this yarn. The resulting fabric is really stiff, everything great about the yarn is gone because of the tight stitches. As I was knitting I switched to one size larger, but, that still wasn't enough. And sadly, I don't plan on frogging it. I do hope I run into a Briar Rose booth again so I can get another hank of Buff Beauty and really make it work.

I'm also looking forward to the new Stitch & Bitch book: Son of a. I really want to see what patterns she has collected and what information and stories she has to share. I own Stitch & Bitch Nation, and, while none of the patterns really appeal to me, I love reading everything else.

Knit hard. =)

September 7, 2007

still on the seamless hybrid

That Elizabeth Zimmermann. I really dig her writing voice and how her 'patterns' are witty explanations. Reading the pattern is like reading a good story. The only downside to her style is that she'll often refer to a previous passage in the book so there's a lot of flipping back and forth to be done--bookmarks come in handy.


I'm really digging the idea of a seamless sweater... I HATE sewing seams.
So, that's the body on the top and one sleeve on the bottom. I'm moving along surprisingly fast. I'm having a slight dilemma though. I CO for the body a bit too tightly... and then I was having the hardest time comprehending EZ's directions for adding a hem so I went ahead and did a 2x2 rib in order to stop curl-age. Now that I'm done with the body I hate the rib and my CO edge just doesn't stretch enough.

I feel like cutting will be involved. o_O I've never undone the bottom of my work, so, it's looking a bit scary.


I'm imagining that I'll have to insert a life line or a needle in a row above the ribbing... and then take my scissors to the CO edge and hope for good unraveling... does that sound about right?
I re-read her section on hems and now it makes much more sense.
I hope to finish the first sleeve tonight... and then maybe make an attempt at fixing the body tomorrow. Everything is moving pretty fast. =) I thought it would take me months to finish a sweater.

I have a few snapshots of my Anthropologie-inspired Capelet and circular shrug. I had my friends Lora and Anne try them on the other day. Sorry about the crappy quality... it was night time and I had to use the dreaded, unflattering flash. ^_^


Ahh, circular shrug. I guess the "hypothetical" size I made was a nice choice because it fit Lora nicely as well as a handful of my other friends and cousins. I think I'll have to knit another one as a Christmas gift... and allow it to suck out more life from me.


This capelet ended up pretty crappily. Mainly regarding the YOs. I missed a few and ... misplaced a few. o_O It fits though, and it looks halfway decent. I originally aimed to give it to Lora, but, it's such crap that I'd rather knit her a new one. For now Anne is modeling it. =)

That's all for now. Wish me luck on my CO edge cutting adventure.
Knit hard!