When I first started knitting, I would be working away at a pattern and really have no clue what was going on. Every stitch was a surprise - "Oh wow! I had no idea that doing K3, P2, yo, etc was going to make that!" I felt like I was really getting the hang of knitting when I could look at a chart or at written instructions and understand what to expect *before* I cast on a single stitch.
Every once in a while though, a pattern can still just knock me on my heels. "Wait! Where did that come from?!? Am I doing this right???" This was definitely the case with my latest FO, the Lake of the Woods wrap from Ilga Leja. When Tim was helping me get it all pinned out and blocked, I realized that while I was knitting, I was totally clueless about what was going on. No idea why though... this pattern seems really rather straightforward.
Pattern: Lake of the Woods by Ilga Leja
Yarn: Reynolds Odyssey in colorway 404 (Lavender/sage mix)
Needles: #10 Addi Natura, #8 Addi Natura circulars
Started: 31 May 2008
Finished: 22 June 2008
Will I make this again? Possibly. Nice, easy lace pattern - but it does eat a lot of yarn.
Mods Nothing other than yarn choice.
Wood buttons are from from Haus of Yarn.
My sister Kathy used to live in a small Minnesota town right on the shore of the Lake of the Woods, a large freshwater lake on the US-Canadian border. Beautiful (but cold!) place. I was drawn to this wrap because of how well the pattern captured my impression of the lake.
Here's an action shot with the finished wrap:
I've had this Reynolds Odyssey in my stash for around a year. I originally bought it to make a cable and lace cape, but the pattern just didn't inspire me to actually cast on. I've never knit with Odyssey before, but I enjoyed the experience. It's a worsted weight merino yarn with a very interesting dyeing style that creates subtle color variation. The payoff came the second that I put the finished wrap in a warm soak with some Euclan. The yarn was soft to begin with, but soaking made the fiber even softer and it really bloomed.
This wrap is just something light to wrap around my shoulders when it gets a little chilly out. Ideal for springtime or the fall here in Nashville. I didn't get too hot while we were taking these pictures either, even though it was fairly warm out yesterday!
And another picture of the whole thing:
A brief word about price: I feel like I would be remiss if I didn't mention that this pattern was a bit more expensive than I would usually pay for a single pattern, $12 CDN which is just under $12 US right now. I truly value the effort that goes into writing quality patterns, but at the same time you can buy books of patterns for not much more than the price of this single pattern. The pattern instructions were clearly written, the charts were well done, and there were quite a few tips on technique. The finished product is insanely gorgeous. In other words, it was worth the $12. For me, it was a big leap to spend $12 on a pattern without knowing what to expect, but now I have confidence that other patterns from Ilga Leja would be high quality and something unique.
There's plain ol' yarn in the stash and then there's the yarn that calls out to you, saying "Why am I still in the stash? I'm too beautiful and smooshy to stay in the stash!!!" This ArtYarn Ultramerino 8 is definitely in the second category. It's been taunting me for months, wondering why I haven't turned it into some beautiful project to match its friends the Fetching mitts that I knit way back in September 2006.
I think it's probably a crime to let yarn this nice marinate in the stash that long, especially when you have no plans for how to use it! Addressing this serious lack of stash-usage was easy though:
Pattern: Diagonal Lace Scarf (free pattern!) by Helena of Midnight Purls
Yarn: Artyarns Ultramerino 8 in colorway 111
Needles: #7 Addi Natura
Started: 20 May 2008
Finished: 5 June 2008
Will I make this again? Possibly. Easy to memorize pattern, beautiful results.
I love how this turned out, even if 90 degree weather is an inappropriate time for a photo shoot with a wool scarf. The stitch pattern is incredibly easy to remember - that's saying a lot because I'm generally horrible at remembering even simple stitch patterns. My only concern is that it feels a bit like this scarf is going to tend to roll into a tube a lot. I can't say for sure yet and won't know until it cools off enough to wear it a bit.
I stood in the sunshine long enough for Tim to take a picture even if it was crazy hot outside:
After this, I realized that I actually have two more skeins of this yarn (in a different colorway) also hanging out in the stash. After knitting with the ultramerino and realizing how wonderful it knits up, I feel compelled to come up with some project ideas for it now!
I have a bit of a craft book habit. I like going to the bookstore and browsing the craft book section almost as much as I actually like crafting. Part of the reason I prefer looking at books before buying is because I'm picky - I have tons of informal rules about what I look for in a craft book. Things I look for: quality photography, concise directions, charts (ie for knitting lace and cables), lots of projects that I'm interested in making. Another big rule (for knitting books at least): sweater and top sizes need to go up to my size. If I'm going to pay for a book, I don't want to fiddle with sizing the garments up. I'm not saying that every single top needs to be in my size. Trust me, I understand that some styles just don't look good on my size. I just find it irritating when books don't include larger sizes in patterns that would look great on larger sizes.
I generally don't talk about books that I decide I don't like unless it's due to poor pattern directions or that kind of thing. Some books just don't "click" with me and I end up returning them or selling them. Recent examples: Knitting New Scarves (too much work for a scarf), How to Knit in the Woods (no projects that really grabbed my interest), and More Big Girl Knits (ditto). There's nothing inherently wrong with any of those books; I just didn't find anything I wanted to knit in them in the end. I often end up checking books out of the surprisingly good craft book collection at the Nashville Public Library to take them for a test drive first. The same thing is true with cookbooks, another one of my book obsessions.
All of that said, I've come across some really excellent crafting books recently that I want to review here on the blog over the next few weeks. Today, I'm going to kick of the reviews with a book that actually breaks some of my informal rules, Closely Knit by Hannah Fettig. This book came out in March and I passed it over at first glance. I wasn't familiar with any of Hannah's past designs and the concept of the book didn't seem that exciting. The subtitle is "Handmade Gifts for the Ones You Love" and, honestly, I'm not a big gift knitter. I came across the book at amazon by chance again a couple of weeks ago, linked to some other book I was looking at. I took a closer look this time and ended up deciding to give the book a chance.
Closely Knit is organized into six "gift giving" sections: Mothers, Daughters, Sisters, Men in Our Lives, Wee Ones, and Friends. Of course, most of the projects could fit under any of these categories, so the categories seem a bit artificial. There's an impressive 31 projects in total, ranging from really simple hats to vests with intarsia and sweaters for adults. Nothing seems terribly complex, but some of the patterns could be a bit challenging and there are definitely some nice simple gift ideas that look more complicated than they really are, always a plus when gift knitting :)
My favorite pattern in the book is the Kangaroo Vest, a children's size intarsia project featuring (obviously) a kangaroo. The book gives the good advice that you could use the chart for other projects, like a baby blanket. I've got visions of cute matchy-matchy baby gifts for friends. My other favorite is the cashmere ruffled scarf. I love the striking red of the scarf in the book. I'm usually not a big super colorful accessories person, but this one really appeals to me.
Rule breaking alert: Remember when I mentioned my rule about how the patterns need to go up to my size? This book is a huge rule breaker in this area. There's a super cute Cabled Cardigan that I'd love to make but it only goes up to bust size 40". I almost sent the book back when I got to that sweater, but I kept paging through the patterns and there were so many other interesting projects that I decided to keep it.Overall, Closely Knit has multiple patterns that I'm interested in knitting and it's definitely a keeper. If you're looking for some fun but not too time consuming projects to knit for yourself or as gifts, check it out!
I'm sitting in a hotel room in Memphis right now, in town for two days for a research trip for school. Plenty of time for knitting tonight after dinner, although I'm bummed to be missing my weekly knitting night. Also, I managed to totally forget the one project that I really wanted to work on. I think it was a big of a freudian slip. I'm a bit tired of the project and it feels like I'm never going to manage to finish it.
The project? Kristin's Favorite Carry-all (from Best of Interweave Knits). The knitting? Not particularly hard. It's a fairly standard colorwork project. The only rather scary part was steeking the body, my very first steeks! With a little handholding from the stranded colorwork group on ravelry, I was able to make it through the process without too much difficulty. No pictures though, I was too busy worrying about cutting my knitting :)
I'm done with knitting the body, the handle, and the gusset. I still need to knit a little closing flap, and sew the lining. The pattern just calls for a flap to hold it closed, but that doesn't seem like enough for such a large bag so I'm also going to sew in a zipper. The thought of all that assembly and sewing together is a bit of a drag though. Must not put project in WIP pile just because bored by assembly.
Here's a picture of the finished body (pre-steeking) with the lining fabric that I picked out:
The dark color is more brown than it looks like in this picture, and the teal color is actually a tiny bit lighter. The fabric is a really interesting fois bois print they just got at Textile Fabrics. I love how everything goes together, I just am not enthusiastic about the assembly required :)
Tim and I usually commute together. On top of that, we live less than 5 miles from work/school so it's not like we're using a lot of gas. But with the price of gas getting so high, it was starting to feel like we should explore some alternatives. Nashville's bus system is not the best in the world, but it does get you where you want to go and Tim actually gets to ride for free because his employer has a deal with the Nashville MTA. Today was our first day taking the bus and it went fairly smoothly. It took longer than driving, but on the other hand... it was free. I doubt we'll take it every day, but I think it's a good alternative both for our budget and for the environment.
Okay. Fine. It looks like I'd actually have a chance to knit on the bus as well. That possibly is the tipping point for me :)
Total lack of pictures aside, there's been a lot of crafting going on at our house. Everything is blocking though, so I have no exciting WIP or FO pictures to show off!
Kristin's Favorite Carryall (ravelry link, the pattern is from the Best of Interweave Knits) has been eating up a ton of my time. I've finally got almost all of the pieces knit, but the finishing is going to be insane. Also, my row gauge when I'm doing colorwork is apparently really crazy. It's consistent gauge, just much larger than the pattern calls for. As a result, I think I might run out of yarn with 2-3 little finishing pieces to do (arghhhhhhhhhhhh). Considering options right now. I also decided that a giant bag needs a zipper, even though I hate putting them in. I'm going to use the finishing instructions and approach that I learned while putting together my Little Sparkly Clutch. My other big issue was deciding on lining fabric. Nothing I had in my fabric stash seemed quite right, so I picked out some special fabric this weekend.
I also finished my diagonal scarf (ravelry link, pattern link) out of Artfibers Ultramerino 8. I'm worried though, it rolls like you would not believe. A full wet block has taken the curl out, but my past experience makes me think it's probably going to come back with wear. It's a cool scarf though - pictures when it's all dry.
Because everything else was blocking (and I didn't feel like working on my Ms Purplejeans sweater) I also cast on for a new project this weekend - the Lake of the Woods wrap (ravelry link, pattern link). I'm using some Reynolds Odyssey that I bought last year for a different wrap project that never inspired me enough to actually cast on. I bought the (really expensive) pattern a few months ago on a whim. My sister Kathy used to live in northern Minnesota right on the shores of the Lake of the Woods, a really beautiful lake that spans the US/Canadian border. I think the wrap does a good job of capturing the "feel" of the lake.
If this whole bus thing works out, I'm going to have to come up with some ideas for easy bus projects too!