Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Things I Should Already Have Known

This was the year for learning (over and over)that technique is not a substitute for judgment. The knitting mistakes were not a matter of not being able to do something, but not knowing whether it was a good idea! I hope that by writing down (and publishing!) my mistakes I'll be able to avoid them in the future. In the spirit of self-examination, here are a few things I learned this year:
1. Size matters
Despite all my gauge swatches and self-measurements, I have a tendency to make things too large for myself. the Mission Falls cardigan is wearable but would be better if the sleeves were narrower; the bolero (from Feminine Knits) turned out so big that I gave it to a friend. Sizing in lace garments is particularly dicey. The remedy for this problem seems to be taking the work off the needles and trying it on, and choosing a smaller size.

The other lesson I learned from these cardigans it to knit both fronts and both sleeves simultaneously. Despite my efforts at row counting, I haven't found another way to make them match.
2. Scarves Should be Long
When I lived in a cold climate many years ago, scarves were often worn inside the neck of a coat, in my memory at least. Since then, it seems that the very long scarf has totally dominated the world of winter. I made 3 scarves this fall that were not long enough; 2 I'm adding onto and 1 will sleep with the fishes in the pond.

3. Even a Cotton Scarf is Too Hot for Tallahassee in the Summer
I love this scarf. It's my favorite light cotton (Paton's Grace) in my favorite colors, but its unwearable in the summer, which means until the end of October.
4. Knitting for Felting Hurts My Hands
Felting always seems like such a good idea! the knitting goes fast on those big needles, and the finished products are useful and sturdy, what could be better than these felted slippers? The sad truth is that, for me, knitting on those big needles requires a lot of pushing and pulling. I don't think I'll give up on felting entirely, but I must repect my limits.
That being said, this bag is one of my favorite projects. I use it as my carry-on bag when I travel, and always get compliments.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Looking Back Before Looking Forward

2009 has been a great year for family, traveling, weddings, and knitting, but not for blogging, obviously. Here are just a few of the successful projects completed this year. The unsuccessful ones have taught me a lot and really deserve their own entry.

The gray shawl was inspired by the Little Dorritt series. It is my own design and I used 1 skein of Malabrigo Lace in Paris Night. I'm thinking about making a larger, more open shawl in the same pattern. It seems a little goth!
These three are among the successful Christmas knits. I like the Noro Silken Garden scarf, but 2 skeins does not yield quite enough length. DH wore it as is in NYC over Christmas, but I'm contemplating adding 2 more skeins.
Here we have too much cat in the picture, not enough scarf! 2 skeins of Plymouth Happy Feet in a reversible cable Fisherman's Scarf. I loved both the process and the product!
For knitting purposes, it's great to have children who live in a cold climate. The cloche was made for DD1 from 2 skeins of Wisdom Poems, gently felted. The black band is knitted from stashed mystery sock yarn, and the flower was made by a Tallahassee fiber artist.

I hope to be back soon with wedding pictures, stories of travels, and lessons learned.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Knitting with Chickens, or Wishing on Starfish

Are these not cute? They are from a kit by Artfelt that DD2 gave me for Christmas. I'm thinking about attaching them to a scarf, or using them as brooches. My son thought they were cat toys, but I disabused him.
And this is another kit product, brought from Paris by DD1. I was alarmed to see the instructions were in French, but there was enought detail in the picture to figure it out. The scarf is one strand of merino and one strand of bamboo knitted together, and it is really warm.
Here's the label!
Over New Years I made a quick trip to Ft. Collins, CO to help DS move out of his apartment, but while there I managed to visit My Sister Knits, a local yarn shop. What a charming place, so cozy and full of contented knitters, but best of all was the chicken coop in the front yard. These chickens and their beautiful house qualify as yard art! If you are in Ft. Collins you should certainly go visit.

I read in a blog comment that February is for finishing, and I'm trying to make that my mantra. There is a cardigan from last summer that I redid the fronts and it needs to be put together and finished off with ribbing; there is a pair of socks 7/8 finished, and another starfish ready to felt. there is also a scarf to be frogged; the yarn was not a good choice and it should have been put out of its misery long ago. It's hard to focus with new yarn and patterns beckoning from the stash armoire, but it will feel so good to get these lingering projects off the needles.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Rejoining the Blogging World

It's been a long and winding road, or maybe a just long strange trip, but I decided that with the New Year I'm ready to start contributing to the knit-o-sphere, instead of just taking comfort in other people's efforts. Mom passed away very peacefully on September 26, and we buried her ashes in Virginia the weekend before Thanksgiving. In the intervening time, and even now, a lot of my life has been taken up with attending to all the details that come with the end of a life. Even the most organized person in the world leaves unfinished business; we've been busy emptying out her house so it can be put up for rent and settling her finances.

I worked on these Edelweiss socks during the final days of her life; the pattern was intricate enough to provide a little distraction, but the tiny needles and white yarn seemed unintrusive. They were a Christmas present for DD2, who never tires of the Sound of Music.
These socks are a variation on my Muscle Memory pattern in Cherry Tree Hill supersock. The cuffs are a 3x2 twisted rib instead of the usual 2x2.
Here is another Christmas present: I call it a bubble scarf (Kidsilk Haze tied over hazelnuts and felted); I saw one in the Knitting Sisters shop in Williamsburg VA and made it on the oral instructions of the owner. It was a hit with DD1.
This scarf isn't really 9' long! It is seasilk and uses 2 grape-related patterns from Wendy Knits. It is a scarf that wants to be a shawl, and works well in chilly meeting rooms.
Thanks and happy new year to all the kind bloggers who kept my spirits up this year, especially Nancy, Juliet and Wendy.