Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Up, down, round and round

I love me some crochet, I do, I do. It's so quick. And for the right project, so effective.

Just over two weeks after I started the Circles Scarf, it is done!
Pattern: Circles Scarf by Linda Permann, from Inside Crochet, issue 11, November 2010. At first glance, the pattern appears to be a series of round motifs attached to each other. I am not a fan of making a bunch of small motifs and joining them (either as you go or after the fact, although joining as you go is preferable, if it has to be done!) But no! You cleverly work a long row of half circles and then work back again, joining to the previous row as you go.
Yarn: The repurposed Wendy Happy bamboo/nylon sock yarn - because of the bamboo, this makes a lovely drapey scarf. I used just over 1 x 100g ball.

Hook: 3.5mm

Time: 2 March 2011 - 18 March 2011. And even though it's a project I completed entirely this year, I'm still counting it as part of my "binding off" commitment, given I frogged a pre-2011 WIP and re-used the yarn!
Modifications: My circles were smaller than the pattern specifications, so I made my rows longer by adding extra circles. And I did an extra row of circles - 5 rather than 4 - because I think an odd number of something looks more "right" than an even number.
The pattern was designed specifically for self-striping sock yarn, but I could see it working really nicely in a solid or semi-solid colour too. And it's also given me some ideas about thread crochet accessories too - I could see this method working well for a bracelet or cuff, or a necklace. Hmmm, watch this space!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

It's Shag-adelic, baby!

For my birthday last year, the lovely Ingrid gave me some of the latest "it" yarn, Brooklyn Tweed Shelter, in the deep shade of red called Long Johns (not that I've ever seen red long johns for real, only on tv in American westerns ... they pretty much only come in white or black here, as far as I can tell, not being a regular long john wearer).

I was very keen to try this out - these two skeins were burning a hole in my stash. I spent a while on Ravelry, surfing the patterns, as you do. I wanted something that would use up all the yarn (a generous 140yds/50g skein) and that didn't require too much thought on my part. A scarf or shawl seemed the best option, preferably something still interesting to knit.
When I found this pattern, I knew it had to be. The name helped - my inner 15 yo giggled with glee at all the stupid puns I could make as I knit this scarf. Which of course I will share with you...
Pattern: Shag by Lynne Barr, from her excellent book Knitting New Scarves, a wonderful collection of amazing and unusual designs. This is one of the simplest patterns from the book, but creates a wonderful 3D design which is still very wearable, because it is flat on the other (equally attractive) side.
Yarn: Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in Long Johns, 2 x 50g skeins. As I mentioned, these are very generous skeins, and the yarn itself is so light and lofty - the skeins look huge, more like 100g skeins, because of the nature of the yarn. It contains a fair amount of vegetable matter, and is not the softest yarn out there. It softens up a bit on washing, but if you are at all sensitive to scratchy yarns, you might not want to wear this next to your skin.

Sticks: 5.5mm sticks - I used dpns, just because they were nice and short, given that the scarf is narrow (7.5cm/3"). Two skeins of yarn gave me a scarf about 160cm/63" long.
Time: I shagged away for just over 2 weeks - started on 18 February 2011 and finished on 7 March 2011.

Modifications: As my gauge was smaller than the pattern, I added a couple of extra stitches and did a few extra rows for each rectangle, but that's all.
I'm really happy with this scarf and am looking forward to wearing it. It was a real pleasure to knit. And it's a knit that keeps on giving, since it lets you tell people that you shagged all day yesterday. Or you had a quick shag in the morning. And then a long shag session in the afternoon. Or that you shagged all the way through the Knitters Guild AGM (one of my favourite shagging sessions!)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Important Things

On the weekend, I came by one of these:
A folca box! Prized possession of knitters (and no doubt other crafters who need to carry around a multitude of little bits and pieces).

It's a neat little fold-out plastic container with a storage spot for everything - stitch markers, folding scissors, beaded row counter, darning needles, safety pins, cable needles, locking stitch markers, cable ends and pin and point protectors.
And what makes it even more charming is the note on the outside, which you is a bit difficult to read in the photo above:

If it always has folca
an important thing
will not forget

But of course this isn't important at all - it's a cheap luxury (is that an oxymoron?!) that I'm lucky to have. The news at the moment is all about the horrific earthquake, tsunami and now nuclear disaster in Japan. The horror of it all ... words fail me.

As always, knitters do what the best of them do best - try to help by donating items, time, money and profits. If you are minded, there are lots of ways to help, the Red Cross being an excellent one. With winter coming along, you might need a new hot water bottle cover (like me) or a little hat or other gift - my blog friend Linda is donating all profits from sales in her etsy shop to the Red Cross. Or you might like a new knitting pattern - I found this one on Ravelry yesterday and have in mind to knit it for a friend going through a difficult time right now.

I'm sure there are lots of others doing similar fundraising efforts. Because helping and supporting others, especially those in need, really is one of the important things.

Friday, March 11, 2011

O is for Olive

You know how it is when you see a pattern and you fall in love with it and you simply must knit it, even down to using the actual yarn specified in the pattern? Except the pattern is hard to come by (not sold at all in Australia) and ditto for the yarn. So you file it away but never forget about it, hoping that one day you'll manage to find both and stump up for the postage from overseas.

Well, the fates aligned for me on this one - you know it, Olive, I've posted about it before. Ms Funky found the pattern book in the US (hurrah #1). And then Pru destashed the exact yarn in the colour I would have chosen if I was buying it myself (hurrah #2). Which also provided me with the perfect opportunity to meet her in person so I could collect the yarn (hurrah #3!). So of course it was meant to be. (Fortunately for you all, at some point after I got my hot little hands on the pattern book, it became available as an individual download...)

And it has been perfect knitting for me - stocking stitch, in the round, with a little easy shaping and then some colour on the striped garter edges. Oh yeah, and a heap of research and maths before and during the process, as I had to modify the pattern to fit me (upsizing) and to add waist shaping and remove the blouson effect of the original - which is lovely on the willowy stick-thin model, but not so much on stumpy log-large me.
But it was all worth it, I think:
Pattern: Olive by Helga Isager from Amimomo Knit Collection Autumn/Winter 2008 (and now individually). I don't know why exactly I fell in love with this, but I did. I suppose it was the simplicity of it as well as the gathering at neckline and the pouffy sleeves (I am a sucker for a slightly pouffed sleeve!) and the dash of colour provided by the stripes at each edge.
Yarn: Isager Strik Alpaca 2, a lovely fingering/4ply, 50/50 alpaca/merino, in a gorgeous blue/grey (011), approximately 4.5 skeins - the 50g skeins are a generous 250m each! And Noro Silk Garden Sock in S252 - a great colourway I must say - has black, grey, blues and a vivid lime green. I did have to butcher the Noro quite a bit - I cut out a lot of the black and grey, as well as the other colours, so that I'd get a variation of colours on each of the bands. Thank goodness it spit splices beautifully!
Sticks: 3mm KnitPicks Harmony Options for the garter bands, 4mm for the body and sleeves. The smaller needles are great for ensuring the garter doesn't ripple like it can with stocking stitch, and the larger needles make a beautiful drapey fabric.

Time: 1 October 2010 - 18 February 2011. Another of my pre-2011 projects bites the dust!

Modifications: I made extensive notes on my Rav project page, so you can have a looky there if you so desire! But I will say here that my modifications were helped immensely by the notes other Ravellers made on their own project pages for this pattern - so I encourage you all to add notes to your projects if you can - even if just about yarn substitution or needle size used - it really is very helpful and makes Ravelry an even better resource than it already is!
(one of the obvious modifications was to knit the garter bands flat and then close them with a button and crochet loop - no way am I doing garter stitch in the round unless I absolutely have to!)

I also couldn't have made such a good job of the fit if I hadn't done a big swatch and done the maths before I started knitting, and then keep measuring and trying it on as I knitted (a huge benefit of the seamless top down garment!). The maths alone wasn't enough, as I'd failed to include in my calculations various fit factors, so it was only by trying it on that I knew I'd (for example) reached my waist and so needed to stop decreasing, and start increasing!
I'm very happy with this project! I'm looking forward to some cooler weather now so I can wear it! I think the lightweight alpaca blend will be lovely for our climate - warm without being suffocating!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

You don't see that too often

Last week I did something which is a very rare occurrence in RoseRedville.

I frogged a WIP. Entirely. Right back to balls of yarn.

Yep, you heard right, I, RoseRed, who will Always Fudge Rather Than Frog, frogged.

Last year I started a Baktus scarf, with the remainer of the first ball, and the second ball of the Wendy Happy bamboo sock yarn (that I used for these socks). I had seen projects done using self-striping yarn, alternating the balls to get narrow one row stripes, and they looked really good. I thought this yarn would work well for this type of project.
But I just wasn't feeling the love. I ended up having a big wad of grey (even though I was still alternating the balls), and I also ended up cutting the yarn to avoid another big wad of orange. And I think the really small sticks (2.75mm) for a scarf was another reason I was less than enamoured.

And I also found another pattern (designed for self-striping sock yarn) which I thought would work better with this yarn. And so one night last week I just Did It (hence the crappy flash photos).
And in less than a week, I'm already 3/5 of the way through the new scarf (further along than this photo shows).
I think it is an improvement on the Baktus, although I do still like that pattern, just not my initial yarn choice for it. If I get around to making it again, I will still stripe it, but with plain colours instead! Yay for frogging (on the rare occasion that it is absolutely necessary!)

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Big Day Out

For Christmas, I bought husby a ZooFriends membership (and I bought one for me too) - I got a two for one deal that was too good to pass up.

We had to validate it before the end of this month, and last night we decided that today would be the day, as it was going to be a relatively cool. When we got to the Zoo, we found a bunch of other people had the same idea. Not to worry, I managed almost a whole repeat of this while waiting in the queue (yay!)
I remember going to the Zoo as a child (and I think the last time I went was at least 10 or 15 years ago) and feeling somewhat conflicted - "wild" animals in small enclosures, that sort of thing. I still feel that to some extent, but there have been a lot of advances in the management of animals in the Zoo, including much better enclosures, and the Zoo is doing a lot of work in conservation and education as well, and I think that work needs to be supported. Our membership also includes free entry to the Western Plains Zoo, which is an open range zoo about 5 hours out of Sydney. We'll have to do a weekend away for that one!
I'm not sure Connor quite knew what to make of it, but I'm sure he'll enjoy it more each time we return over the next 12 months.
I know I will! (check out that harbour and city skyline view the giraffes have!)

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

StashDownUnder 2010 - February

Another excellent month on the StashingDown front - no new yarn!! That's two whole months I've gone without buying yarn!

February totals:
Actual balls used: 5 x 50g balls (so met my monthly goal!)
8ply equivalent: 6.5 x 50g balls
Metres used: 774m

balls used: 15 x 50g
8ply equivalent: 18.5 x 50g
Metres used: 2173m (or just over 2km!)

This month, I picked up another longstanding WIP, the La Digitessa socks (another Week of Wollmeise project). This is a gorgeous but highly detailed pattern - multiples cables on every row and all knits through the back loop - so very s-l-o-w - but so beautiful. I don't know when I'll get these finished, but will just keep plugging away until they are done.