January 28, 2007

J'ai un "rhube"

Hydrangea socks
Originally uploaded by miminh3.

I've had a gigantic cold with headache for the past week. I had to take a Monday off work -- DH knows I'm sick when I am cooped up at home for three days and don't knit! I came back to knitting slowly by knitting hats for the Ships project and Dulaan but finished my January socks.

Pattern: Hydrangea socks
Yarn: Sundara sock yarn in "Blueberry smoothie"
Modifications: I stopped the spiral pattern after the gusset decreases

I've got to choose the yarn for my February socks. Something cheerful so I think either Sunshine yarns or Lorna's Laces.

In a last-ditch effort to pretend that I have a New Year's resolution, I spent an evening filling out my stash Excel spreadsheet with missing information (yardage, gauge) and matched up almost all my sock yarn/fingering weight/lace weight to appropriate patterns.

I have enough to knit 36 pairs of socks and 16 shawls. I'd better get cracking.

January 10, 2007

As I lay dyeing

I have good news and bad news.

The good news is that the Diamond Fantasy Scarf is blocking. This was my KR New Beginnings project: the pattern by Sivia Harding was easy to follow (instructions were in written and chart form) and the scarf was the perfect size so that I would not get impatient with the increasingly long rows.

The bad news is that the sheet I used for blocking now has lovely orange spots. I rinsed the scarf with some Soak ("Celebration" scent, a close second to my favorite "Aquae") but must not have soaked it long enough...
Edited to add: false alarm. Once the shawl and sheet were dry, it became apparent that the orange spots were figments of my imagination, the dye did not run and all is fine and well.

Here's a closeup of the diamond repeat. I love this "sangria" colorway by Handmaiden: orange, red, and purple.

My January socks are "Hydrangea" socks. The pattern is from Sundara's Petals Collection but I did not belong to the sock club back then so I am using another colorway of Sundara sock yarn, a lovely variegation of purple called "Blueberry smoothie".

January 01, 2007

Goodbye to 2006, hello to 2007

Yarn Pirate socks "clementine"
Originally uploaded by miminh3.
My last two finished objects in 2006 were Sivia Harding's Diamond fantasy shawl (I need to block it so pictures will be up sometime next week) and these December socks made out of Yarn Pirate clementine merino yarn. This yarn was a little thinner than Koigu KPPPM and tightly spun, it was wonderful to knit with. I can picture a beautiful shawl with some of the almost-solid yarn that Georgia dyes.

I knitted them toe-up with a Turkish cast-on (see here for a very good tutorial) and an afterthought heel (using Lucy Neatby's book "Cool socks, warm feet"). No need for waste yarn or a crochet chain for the toe, you just knit a cylinder and place some waste yarn where the heel will be.

Knitting an afterthought heel is just like knitting a toe: a few decrease rounds and you get to try the sock on to make sure the heel is deep enough and fits snuggly. It works especially well with self-striping yarn since you get a bulls eye pattern for the heel and even stripes for the leg and foot. You just have to be careful not to get holes (as usual!).

My first project of 2007 is a fair isle project since that was one of my knitting resolutions after the KR retreat. Eunny Jang pitched her Endpaper mitts as the perfect first fair isle project and she's right! The pattern is very clear and I am enjoying color knitting a lot more than I expected... I keep the white yarn with my left hand (scooping it as in Continental knitting) and the blue with my right hand (throwing it as in English knitting), it took a bit to practice but this should pay off in the long term.

To fair isle experts (that's you, vi!!), here's my question: am I supposed to hold the background color in the left or right hand for the pattern to stand out?

Just give me the yarn and no one will get hurt!

Phildar stash
Originally uploaded by miminh3.
If you were to ask for a ransom in yarn, don't you think it would look like this? (DH received the briefcase as a Christmas present so I packed it with yarn for the trip back to the US) Anyway, here's what I got while in France.

My first stop in Paris was at a Phildar boutique. Phildar tends to have more acrylic in their wool blends that I care for -- however I chose the light and dark grey yarn for a sweater since it is 100% pure wool. The other two skeins are for a fair isle hat (more on me and fair isle in the next post) and consist of 51% lambswool/49% acrylic. The lambswool is amazingly soft so if I like knitting with it, I will order some more online or buy it during my next trip.

The second stop was at the Bon Marche. I did not buy anything but admired the kits made by Tiboodoo using Bouton d'or/Anny Blatt yarn. The cardigans are so cute, I wish they made kits for grown-ups.

The planned third stop was a Bergere de France boutique that was unfortunately closed for the holiday season. Bergere de France is mostly a mail-order company and they have tons of free patterns on their website. (If you have some trouble translating one of them, drop me a line and I might be able to help) I have to buy their new CD-Rom: it has over 200 patterns and one can print out magnified charts. Isn't that cool?

The fourth stop was La Droguerie. This was the most beautiful shop I've been to since Purl in Soho. I fell in love with their pure alpaca (6.40 euros per 50 grams) and bought 400 grams of it -- some in variegated rust for a shawl, some in shades of blue and gray for a fair isle scarf.