Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Swatching for Sweater #4

Last night I finished swatching for my fourth sweater, which will be White Pine by Amy Christoffers. I have been fretting over what sweater to make next, but I think this one will be good because it's a longer cardigan and I certainly don't want to be knitting something that big in summer.

I'm using some yarn I bought at the Madison Knitter's Guild Knit-In that I went to earlier this month. It's called Softie by Kimmet Croft Fibers and it's a 75% wool 25% angora blend. It's listed as a sport weight on Ravelry, but I think it's a lot heavier than that. It knits up like a light worsted or dk yarn. As part of the display at the Knit-In, the yarn was knit up as a Wonderful Wallaby sweater, which calls for a worsted yarn. 

The main thing that matters is that I was able to get gauge using the recommended needle size. It makes a somewhat airy fabric, but I think that will be beneficial because I can wear it more often.

The color is called blue-green shimmer.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

FO: Nightlock

It's been a fairly busy week for me so I haven't had much time for knitting or blogging, but I was able finish a shawl this week! I've had two skeins of fingering weight yarn in my stash for awhile and I've been wondered what to do with them. I've always wanted to make a Stripe Study Shawl but I didn't have enough yardage and didn't want to make adjustments. I was therefore pretty darn happy when I saw a new pattern that got released about two weeks ago.

pattern: Nightlock by Lisa Mutch
yarn: Another Crafty Girl Merino Sock in Lagoon and Zest
needles: 6s
raveled: Nightlock

It's a crescent shaped shawl worked from the top down. I started it last weekend on the drive to visit my boyfriend's family and finished it yesterday. Nothing like a garter stitch shawl to boost your confidence! For the main blue section and first larger stripe section, I only had to worry about increases on the edge of every row. The "icicle" section is made by sets of paired increases. Thanks to this project, I will never again have to look up the difference between m1r and m1l.

I love this pattern so much because it's extremely wearable. It lays well no matter how you put it on so it's not a fussy shawl at all. This shawl was really a mystery for the majority of the time I was knitting it because it was so scrunched up on my needles. It was only after I bound off (using the decrease bind off to keep it stretchy) that I was really able to see what I had been knitting. Blocking totally perfected the shape.

The yarn I used for this project was amazing. I found Another Crafty Girl yarn through an ad on Ravelry. It's hand dyed yarn that has wonderful subtle color tones. It's not as visible in these pictures, but the Zest color also changes between light and dark yellow. Such a perfect combination for this funky, modern pattern!

Sweater fever is starting to overtake me after knitting all of these smaller items. I had a hard time deciding what my next project would be, but I finally decided last night. I should have my swatch finished by tonight!

Friday, March 16, 2012

FO: Radioactive Peep Socks

Earlier this week I finished my first pair of socks for the year. Last year for Christmas my boyfriend's parents got me a sock blank from Knit Picks, which I dyed up Christmas Day. I used Wilton cake decorating dyes leftover from a cake decorating class I took. I was going for a more muted color palatte, but my maroon dye looked too brown for my taste when I mixed it up, so I substituted pink. This was the result:

I used purple, blue, and pink to create vertical stripes on the sock blank. According to the Knit Picks sock blank dyeing guide, this should have create "subtle changes" between the colors. Imagine my surprise when I cast on and the yarn started self striping!

This picture is actually more accurate color-wise than the first.

yarn: Knit Picks Sock Blank
needles: 1 1/2s

I've lovingly nicknamed these socks the Radioactive Peep Socks because of how bright they are. It's like a party is going on in my shoes that only I know about. I really liked the simplicity of the pattern I chose; it gave it just enough texture to make it interesting without overwhelming the stripes.

These socks sat in hibernation for much too long because I didn't like the heel that was written and didn't want to frog back (I substituted a normal slip-stitch heel), which bums me out now because it's warming up fast in Wisconsin and I won't have much need for daily wool socks for awhile. I'm sure I'll still party it up with these socks when my feet get cold at night.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Semi-Guest Post: FO- Average Guy Beanie

Today I have a very special finished object to share with you guys. It wasn't knit by me,  it was knit by my boyfriend, Brian! I taught him the basics of knitting about a year ago and he's knit off and on (but mostly off) since then. His first project was a dishcloth with the Star Trek Insignia on it, and he's made three more dishclothes since then.

I think all the knitting I've been doing lately has rubbed off on him because he picked it up again. We took a trip up to our local yarn store where he got some circular needles and three different types of yarn. In eight days, he made this:

pattern: Regular Guy Beanie by Chuck Wright
yarn: Cascade Yarns Eco Duo, colorway Storm
needles: 7s

It was so much fun to cheer him on as he was knitting this hat. It was his first time using circular needles, double pointed needles, and even wool yarn. He learned how to knit in the round and how to decrease. It's been a long time since I first tried those techniques, so it was a bit nostalgic. I certainly don't miss the frustration of trying to wrangle double pointed needles as a newbie.

He's already started on another hat in the same pattern using up the rest of the skein of Eco Duo. It's going much faster this time and he's getting a lot better at fixing mistakes. After that, he's going to make a couple of more hats. I'm not much of a hat person so I don't normally knit them. Once he uses up the yarn he bought, he'll have made more hats than I ever have!

Maybe someday I can convince him to give sweater knitting a try! Or that sweater vests can be stylish....

Thursday, March 8, 2012

First Pattern Release!

Drum roll.... drum roll please.....

I'm happy to announce the release of my first pattern, Tanagra!

I had a lot of fun knitting and designing this pattern. I had six knitters test knit it for me, and that was a fun experience, too! I loved seeing how the pattern looked in different yarn and colors. I even like some than my own version. I'd like to thank all of my wonderful testers and Akshata for tech editing it for me!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Finished Objects: Ziyal and Ruffled Ziyal

I have two finished objects to share with you today, both of my own design. They both use the smocking stitch. It's a really simple design, but I think it looks really good. Here is the first one:

pattern: Ziyal, not yet released
yarn: Malabrigo Rios, colorway Playa
needles: US 8s
raveled: Ziyal

This was my first time using Rios and it didn't disappoint. This cowl is soo soft! I've been wearing it around the house for no other reason that it feels like soft angel kittens have taken up residence around my neck. The colors are fabulous too!

My second cowl also used the same stitch pattern, but I varied it up a bit. I made ruffled edges by tripling the stitch count. It was a good idea in theory, but didn't work out so hot. I used a leftover skein of Madeline Tosh Chunky from my vest, and the ruffles are so heavy that the top one falls down when I'm wearing it. I think it would work well if I used DK or sport weight yarn, but it just didn't work for the chunky. I would have preferred it a bit bigger as well, but I didn't have enough yarn to do so. Oh well, live and learn.

pattern: Ziyal
yarn: Madeline Tosh Chunky, colorway Tart
needles: US 8s
raveled: Ruffled Ziyal

I posted this pattern on Ravelry for testing last night, had it fill up by this afternoon, and already had one tester finish it (Rebecca at ChemKnits, you're awesome!). How cool is that? Ravelry never ceases to amaze me.

As far as other knitting goes, I'm trudging along with my Winnowing. I feel like I've been working on it forever but I haven't even finished using my first ball yet which means I'm not even 33% of the way done. I just keep telling myself the finished product will be worth it. Why don't we make that the question of the day; what was your favorite finished object that you disliked knitting?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Smocking Tutorial

Right now I'm working on designing a cowl that features a smocking stitch. Smocking is used in sewing as well as knitting, and refers to the gathering of fabric by using parallel stitches. There are lots of different ways to smock, so I thought I'd share the version I like best. Other ways might have the knitter put the stitches to be smocked on a cable needle and then wrap the yarn around it, but I like this version because it's faster and less hassle. In this example, I'm smocking over a fabric that is 2x2 ribbing.

The fabric is ready to be worked and yarn is held in back. The next six stitches on the left-hand needle will be the ones to be smocked.
Insert the needle between the sixth and seventh stitches on the left-hand needle. It's easy to put the needle through the sixth stitch instead of to the left of it while going under the left-hand needle, so take care while doing this step.

Wrap the yarn clockwise around the right-hand needle.

Pull the new stitch through the fabric...

... and across the six stitches. Give it enough slack so you don't create holes, but not too much or it won't gather the fabric well.

Place the new stitch on the needle. Orientation of the stitch doesn't really matter in terms of the finished product, as long as you're consistent. Then place the right-hand needle through the second and first stitch on the needle as if to knit.

Knit these two stitches together.

Work through the remaining five stitches in pattern (k1, p2, k2)

This is what the finished product looks like. The smocked stitches are worked every six rows and are offset by four stitches from the previous smocked row to create the smocked grid pattern you see here.

And there you have it! The yarn I'm using in this tutorial is Malabrigo Rios in the colorway Playa. I really love the color changes, and I think the smocking looks great because the two bands going across to create the smock aren't always the same color.