Friday, July 27, 2012

Ravellenics: Ready, Set, Knit!

It's begun. Ravellenics 2012. This is my first time participating and I'm super excited!

I think I should explain what Ravellenics is so people like my sister who reads my blog but isn't a knitter will understand. It's a good-spirited event hosted on Ravelry that involves knitting or crocheting items in the time period coinciding with the Olympic Games. You must start the project after the opening ceremony begins and finish the project before the closing ceremony ends. From their website:
The One Rule To Rule Them All: Challenge yourself by starting and finishing one or more projects during the 2012 Summer Olympics. What will be a stretch for you? It could be a new technique, that first sweater or pair of socks, something massive, something delicate, or maybe finishing that monster in the closet. The goal of the Ravellenics is to support you in expanding your knitting/crocheting horizons.
There are different categories that a participant can compete in, depending on what they're making. Examples of these can be the afghan marathon, the hat dash, the single skein sprint, the sock put, and the hand-dye high dive, among others.

I've decided that my challenge will be to knit a sweater in only 17 days. I will be knitting the Acer Cardigan by Amy Christoffers. She is the same designer of the last sweater I finished, White Pine. The project makes me eligible to cross compete in the sweater triathlon, lace longjump, and cable steeplechase events. I will also be competing on behalf of Team Final Frontier.

I swatched for my sweater using one size smaller needle than the pattern calls for. The pattern calls for 20 sts per 4" and I get 21 sts per 4" using size five needles and Misti Alpaca Tonos Worsted, which is perfect because I'm somewhat between sizes and I'm planning on knitting the bigger of the two. Going down a needle size will also be nice because the yarn I'm using is 50% alpaca and I don't want it to stretch too much. I'm really want to have zero ease on this sweater so it shows off the lace and cable parts, and also because I see myself wearing it over a cami instead of a button down shirt due to the supersoft yarn. It is a little bit more vibrant than the swatch photo shows. I'm planning on alternating skeins every two rows to avoid pooling.

It will certainly be a challenge for me to finish this sweater in the time allowed. This weekend Brian and I will be painting two more rooms so I won't have much time for knitting. I will, however, have a mini-vacation the first week of August that should provide me good amounts of time to knit.

Let the challenge begin!

P.S. I update my Knit Meter today and I've already knit over 5 miles of yarn this year. Woohoo!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Life Changes!

I haven't posted in a week or two because I've been busy buying my first house and moving in! My fiance and I signed the papers for a 3 bedroom ranch and we're very excited! It's closer to work and a lot more space than our old apartment. This is what she looks like:

That photo is from the real estate listing. If I was to actually take a picture, the lawn would be a lot browner. It was kind of funny- Brian was so excited to start mowing that we bought a top-of-the-line mower ahead of move-in but we have yet to use it because it didn't rain for so long here in Wisconsin. It finally rained twice in the last week, so it's getting better.

One of the first projects we (rather, I) tackled was to paint the main room in our basement. We chose to do this because it didn't need a lot of work done to it besides paint and it'll be nice to get everything set up. Our basement is going to be a craft/exercise room and possibly a movie watching space too, depending on how much room everything takes up.

You really don't realize how big a room is until you go to paint it. You become especially aware of it when half the room is wood paneling and you have to paint down each individual groove with a paintbrush. The entire process from start to finish literally took me over eight hours. This is what it looked like before the paint job (another listing photo):
 And after! We "chose" the color by combining a gallon of turquoise paint with a gallon of Oops paint that you can buy at the Home Depot for $7. I'm really happy with the shade of robin's egg blue that it turned out. Very Martha Stewarty and cheery!
Exercise side. Plenty of room for the Chuck Norris machine.

Craft side! Yarn goes here!
Everything is kind of a jumbled mess right now. The long term plan is to have an L shaped work space made from two tables. Since we have a lot of painting upstairs to do, it might take awhile to get that far. I just had to make sure I unpacked far enough to get to the yarn. Ravellenics starts Friday and I haven't even swatched yet! More on that later this week!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

FO: Hermosa

Today I have a cute little finished object to share. I knit it in six days and finished it this weekend!

pattern: Hermosa, by Melissa J. Goodale
yarn: Malabrigo Yarn Arroyo, in colorway Aguas
needles: 8s
raveled: Hermosa 

My local yarn store had a sample of this pattern knit up to feature Malabrigo's new sport weight yarn, Arroyo. I really liked the colorways of Arroyo, so I decided to join in. The yarn is super soft and is really gorgeous. I hemmed and hawed forever trying to decide what colorway to get, but I'm happy with my choice. The yarn was a tad splitty for my taste, but nothing that drove me up the wall.

As for the pattern, it was super easy. My only issue with it was that it didn't have an incease row after the third lace section, so the fourth stockinette section is a little stretched. I'd add one in if I was to make it again. The shawl really grew when I blocked it, but it's still a bit too small to wear without worrying it will fall off. I'll probably wear a shawl pin with it.

Monday, July 9, 2012

FO: White Pine Cardigan

Yay, I finally finished another sweater! I started this one back in March, and it's taken me awhile to complete it. It sat in hibernation for a bit while I avoided the twisted rib that needed to be done on the cuffs. Once I pushed past that, it wasn't actually that bad.

pattern: White Pine by Amy Christoffers
yarn: Kimmet Croft Fibers Softie (25% Angora/75% Merino)
needles: 7s
raveled: White Pine

I made very few modifications to the pattern. The first was to only cast on 62 stitches for the arms instead of the 74 called for in the pattern. I knit about two inches the way it was written and they would have been really baggy. I really liked how slim fitting the sweater was in the pattern's photos. The second modification was to knit two extra rows on the button band and to use two yarn overs instead of one when making the holes to account for the size of the buttons I used.

I found these really cool, somewhat shimmery buttons at Hobby Lobby. The ones I had originally planned on using (which were slightly larger, off-white buttons with darker "peanut butter cookie marks" on them) just seemed to overshadow the texture of the sweater. I need to find a good pattern that can handle awesome buttons like that.

I got this yarn at Madison Knitter's Guild Knit-In back it March. It's always great when you can use local yarn for a project.
I think my favorite thing about this cardigan is the subtle texture. The yarn is slightly hazy, so it does make the cables "pop" less. However, I think it really makes everything blend together nicely. The broken rib sections on either side of the cabled sections look especially good because of the yarn. This sweater really has the "boyfriend cardigan" feeling to it that just makes you want to put it on and curl up in front of the fire with some hot chocolate.

This was my first Amy Christoffers pattern. The pattern was confusing in some places (the broken rib pattern really wasn't defined well, for one), and it could definitely use some paragraph breaks in it so you're not constantly loosing your spot, but I really love the way it turned out. And since I'm 100% a product knitter (ooh! I want that!), it was totally worth it! I'm planning on knitting another one of her patterns, Acer, for my Ravellenics project later this month.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

WIP Update: White Pine

I can finally post another update on this sweater with some meaningful progress! I've finished knitting the arms and have joined them to the body. I have about six inches of the yoke completed. This is what it looks like now:

The rows are getting shorter so it shouldn't take me too long to finish up the yoke. After that I just have to graft the armpits and do the button band. The cable pattern looks really nice and I really like the overall look of this sweater. I can't wait to wear it once it's finished!