Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Time for Transitions

The shift in the season is reflecting the drama in my life. While we've been enjoying warmer, windier weather, Jim has learned that he will be getting no more work from his employer of 25 years. It is a blow, but it's also an opportunity for him to strike out on his own. Our family will be fine, but transitions are always stressful.

These sorts of stresses affect what I want from my knitting. Right now, I feel a yearning to bake treats and knit socks. This weekend, I baked some fruit and nut cookies and a chocolate carrot cake. I've also been working on socks the past week. Specifically, Cachoeira from the latest Knitty. I've one sock done, and I've just turned the heel on the second sock. I'll show you pictures when there's two. In the meanwhile, here's pair of stash buster spirals I finished up a while back.

The Schaefer Anne yarn was too good to let lie. I do find that it shrinks a bit, perhaps because of the mohair content so I've made these a bit big. There's three left over skeins in this pair, and still got a fair bit leftover of the main colors. The red is entirely used up.

My Kauni has stalled out. To get an even transition, I decided to switch the foreground and background colors for half the sweater. In other words, one half is orange leaves on a blue background and the other half is blue leaves on an orange background.

But somehow, it's not quite working out. I'm transitioning too fast in one color and two slowly in the other. If you look at the color on the needles in the above picture, I'm already into the orange, but the other color is purple and it should be blue. I can't decide how to proceed so it's stalled out. It's tempting to just do the boxes and stripes cardigan that so many others have enjoyed knitting. I seem to make it harder on myself when I try to get creative.

I've been focusing on the socks while I try to decide what to do with this. I may just switch to something entirely different! Like a nap.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Good One for Dad

Yippee!! I did it! I knit a gift sweater that fits. My father requested the following:
  • royal blue color
  • a pullover
  • but one with a placket so he could loosen the collar if he gets too warm
  • no drop shoulders!
  • sleeves that hit the wrist bone (the sleeves on store-bought sweaters are always too long on Dad
And here's the result:
Pattern: It's on the Tab (on Ravelry)
Yarn: Elann Peruvian Highland Wool
Needles: 4 mm and 5 mm
Modifications: raglan sleeve shaping, button band instead of tabs

I knit the small size and it fits like a medium. I did get gauge. I think the discrepancy is that a drop shoulder design is often knit baggy, but Dad didn't want a loose and floppy fit. He's quite happy with the way this turned out on all accounts. He and my mom came for a visit today and my Dad put the sweater on first thing. They stayed for lunch and to play cards and he wore it the whole time he was here. That's a good sign!

The buttons are kind of fun. They're replicas of the American buffalo nickel. My dad used to collect them when I was a kid.

It's weird that I keep finding buttons like this for my Dad. Last time there were moose on his buttons. This time, the first store I hit had these buttons. I don't know what it is with my dad and the ungulates. I don't care. I love my Pop and my Pop loves me!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

An Epiphany

I had a such a huge learning experience last night, that I feel the way I did when I was five and I first learned to tie my shoe.

Jim has been having a rough time of it, being out of work, and I wanted to cheer him up. So we decided to go to the movies and I let him pick the show. He chose the Watchmen, of which I knew nothing other than that it was about superheroes. The movie turned out to be very dark, violent and gritty. I could feel my self curl into a ball and try to pull away from it all. I don't like to have my armor come up like that, but I knew that Jim really wanted to see the show. So I told him "I'm leaving. I'll go do something else and come back for you. Just stay and enjoy the show." He was concerned, but understood and made sure I had the car keys.

To put it in context, this was a big step for us. In the past, I might have demanded that we both leave. Or I would have stayed and been miserable, and then angry. Jim would have felt guilty, then angry. The night would have ended in tears.

Instead, I went to Chapters, and treated myself to a book that fed my soul. A book I ordinarily wouldn't have bought, but felt that I deserved this night. I also went to the manager and got a free movie pass since I wasn't watching the show. And when Jim came out of the movie, I could smile and ask him if he enjoyed himself. And he did.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Grab your Shades

Whoops! I lost my camera last weekend, so no blog post. You wouldn't have liked me very much anyway. I didn't like myself. It rained the entire weekend and I felt as flat and lifeless as the grass looks after being buried under snow the past four months. Nasty.

But we're being paid back for it double this weekend. The sun is shining like it means to stay. And since Jim found my camera for me, it was a great opportunity to get a couple of pictures for you. But I've got to warn you. These images may require you to wear sun glasses, they are that bright.

First up is the Kauni that many of you inquired about. Don't get too excited though. This one's a bust.

It certainly looks pretty enough. It's very nice to see the yarn subtly shading itself. But notice how in this very small amount of knitting, the purple has shaded through blue all the way to green, but the orange has merely shifted from yellow-orange to red-orange? This is bad. It means that the color work isn't evenly distributed between the foreground and background.

I've studied many Kaunis and the ones I liked the best used the contrasting colors of the yarn together: orange-blue, green-red and purple-yellow. With the foreground color moving so slowly, I'm going to lose the contrast. So this must go to the frog pond. But what to do with the yarn?

Many people love the Damask Kauni, but I don't think I'd enjoy wearing or knitting it. Jim thought the original Kauni cardigan was too gaudy and I think I should stay away from the horizontal stripes. Plus, I'm perverse enough that I don't want to make what everyone else has done. I've got some other ideas percolating, but I've already gone on long enough about this. Suffice to say, it's dropped for now.

I did finish Dad's sweater this week, but it's still blocking. I'll get Jim to give us a modeling session as soon as it's dry. In the mean time, here it is flat out.

Having finished this, and wanting something exciting to knit this weekend, I started a sock for me and here's were it gets bright again.

Isn't it awful? The yarn looked much better knit up as a Monkey sock, even if it was too small. Oh well, the yarn held up very well to ripping last time.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Merry March!

Do you realize that we're only one week away from returning to Daylight Savings Time? Wow! I'm sooo happy to see the backside of February. Besides the return of the sun, and the demise of the snow, there are new fish and insects to catch in Animal Crossing. I've been playing this game since we got it as a Christmas present.

During the work week I stayed faithful to this project, a sweater for my Dad:

The pattern (Ravelry) is a drop shoulder design, but Dad wants something more fitted, so I'm going to join these pieces up and make up some raglan shaping on the needles. I'd rather work all the raglans at once, then try to knit each piece separate and sew them up. I feel pretty confident about this knit after what I learned from working Durrow last year.

Anyway, by Saturday I felt like cutting loose, getting wild and going crazy. It must have been all the sunshine we had this weekend. So I cast on a bright new project:

The colors are wild, the pattern is my own design, and there are 384 stitches on that needle. How's that for knitting on the edge? And, further to tooting my own horn, there is no twist in that join. I've checked it multiple times and had Jim check it with me just to be extra sure.

Oh! but there's more... this is my second go at this. The first time I mis-read my gauge swatch and cast on 440 stitches, joined them without a twist and actually knit 3 rows. But then I noticed that my color progressions were going in opposite directions, which means that at some point, I could very well end up knitting this color work design with two strands of yarn the same color. No good, that. After I ripped out the needles, I pulled the thin loop of knitting over me and immediately noticed that I had about six inches of ease. Glad I caught that error! I recalculated my gauge and saved myself 56 stitches per row.

To fix the color progressions I decided to wind all my balls of Kauni so I could make sure they all proceeded in the same direction. I wound two and they were going in different directions. I was about to grab one to rewind it and Jim stopped me. He said, "Wouldn't it be better for you to wind them all to find out which way the majority go?" Smarty pants. He got such a big hug and a smooch for that save, I'll tell ya.

And that is the story of why I have such terrible photographs for you today. I was so excited to see how the new sweater was shaping up that I totally forgot to get any pictures during the daylight hours. I only stopped to blog because I was starting to get bleary eyed working the fine yarn in contrasting colors.

Well, back to the work week, and Dad's sweater for knitting. The Kauni will have to wait. But at least what's waiting for me is really pretty.