Tuesday, January 31, 2012

SHOESday: Trip Trip Trippen Along

We went to Melbourne for the Australia Day long weekend, just gone.  We had a great little apartment in the city (Flinders Lane, for those in the know).  Perfect location.

Especially when I discovered what was just around the corner...Sole Devotion!  I nearly hyperventilated when I saw it.  Especially when I saw the big "SALE" balloons in the window.

And of course I made a purchase!
I was so pleased to find these in this great metallic - not too shiny, goes with everything kinda colour.  I was very tempted by a similar pair with a piece of leather knitted fabric going from the toe strap up to the ankle strap - and they were called "Knit" - but decided that these were more classic.
I am so very pleased with my new shoes! 
And apart from a horrible 10 minutes on the plane during takeoff on the way down, during which he screamed and thrashed about, Connor travelled very well.  But for that 10 minutes, I think I deserved a new pair of shoes, heh!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Year of the Cardigan

Looking back over my 2011 knits, I realised that I hadn't knit any cardigans!  I had good intentions (as always!) but I didn't quite convert those intentions into actual cardigans.  Or even started cardigans.  So I have decided I am going to try to make at least 4 cardigans (for me!) this year.  Although I suspect, even at this early date, that it might end up more like 3.  But that's ok, because that will be 3 more than last year!

I made myself a short list...thinking about the patterns I've had in my queue (and my mental "must make" list) for some time, as well as yarns I want to use.  Desperately want to use!  Ha, my short list has 13 patterns... I am still deciding which of these will see the sticks in 2012, but I thought I might as well get your opinions too!  I should add, I do have the yarn for all of these, except maybe 1 or 2 of them...

1.  Faith by Kim Hargreaves using Berocco Ultra Alpaca Fine - this is a definite - both on the pattern and the yarn.  I will be devastated if I don't get gauge with this yarn! 
2. Sea Tangles by Kie Zuraw using Habu Silk Stainless.  I bought the yarn for this ages ago - maybe 4 years ago...not long after the pattern came out, I suspect.  Just love this pattern!  Unique and interesting.  Oh, and I know it isn't a cardigan...neither is the next possible!  (There's nothing like breaking my own rules before I've even started, heh!)
3.  Sahara by Wendy Bernard using Karabella Empire Silk - I bought this worsted weight silk, in a lovely khaki colour, on sale years ago.  I think it will be lovely, and I'm keen to try Bernard's top down seamless method.

4.  Amiga by Mags Kandis using Rowan Calmer - I think this will be a lovely versatile cardi, perfect weight for Sydney winter (or late autumn and early spring!).

5.  Chevron Lace Cardi by Milobo - I don't have a yarn in mind for this - I may use my Christmas vouchers for the lys to buy yarn for this.  But I think I will definitely make it this year - it's crochet and seamless, so I know it will be a quick one.  It might be my Tour de France project!  I'm hoping this will mean I can actually fit in 5 cardis this year (yes, I swing between optimism and pessimism on this cardigan goal!)

6.   Olivia by Kim Hargreaves using Rowan Felted Tweed or Grignasco Tango.  I think this is the pattern I will use but I am definitely going to make some type of cardi out of the Felted Tweed or Tango this year (which yarn I use will depend on the colour I want...Um, I have a few different colours of each to choose from...green and brown in FT, red, charcoal and purple in Tango)
7.  Metro by Connie Chang Chinchio using Cascade 220 in mallard.  I have the pattern, I have the yarn, I know it will be really wearable.  This one is firming up as one of my definites.

8.  Greenfield cardigan by Melissa LeBarre - I have a couple of possible yarns for this - one in red, one in navy.  Or this one might be the recipient of the chrismtas voucher purchase.  Or maybe it would work in Felted Tweed or Tango?  Hmmm, will have to consider that.
9.  Shapely Boyfriend cardigan by Stephanie Japel or New Concetta Cardigan by Elizabeth Smith, using BMFA Twisted in My Blue Heaven.  I saw this yarn in the socks that rock and loved it, and heard great things about the Twisted, so it was a bit of an impulse buy.  Now, I'm not so sure about how it will knit up and whether I can cope with that amount of variegation.  Sometimes I think about destashing it.  And other times I really want to knit it.  Decisions decisions!  As for the pattern, I think the Shapely Boyfriend will be better for my shape but I like the ease of the New Concetta.
10.  Atelier by Heidi Kirmaier using (I think) South West Trading Company Yin in red.  Lush yarn, lovely pattern.  Or again, this might be good candiate for Felted Tweed/Tango (heh!)

11.  Rocky Coast Cardigan by Hannah Fettig, using Karabella Aurora 8 in blue.  This is the yarn which I would reclaim from my Must Have Cardigan long term WIP.  If I get gauge.  As it is an all over simple cable, I think it's an (easy) level of difficulty and concentration I could manage right now, unlike the Must Have cardigan.
12.  Driven by Veera Valimaki in Malabrigo Worsted in charcoal grey (I can't recall the actual name!).  I bought a cardigan's worth of Malabrigo a while back, intending to make a Liesl from it.  I think now that is a bad idea, due to the pilling issues, but I think this pattern, knit at a tighter gauge, might be a good option.  If I have enough yarn, heh!

So I've got two definites - Faith and something in Felted Tweed or Tango; Two strong maybes - Rocky Coast and Metro.  And the crochet Chevron cardigan.  Any thoughts? Any other pattern suggestions? What are your "must knits" this year?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Red stripes go faster

My first FO of 2012!  Towards the end of this project, I never thought it was going to be finished, but then, as if by magic, the very last fat stripe was done and I was casting off.  Amazing!
Pattern: Stripe Study by Veera Valimaki.  Yes, just about everyone has knit this. Something about the stripes, the garter stitch, and the clever, but easy pattern.  Not to mention the great photography and yarn colour choice.  You can't underestimate the power of good project photographs to sell patterns!
I really enjoyed knitting this.  Yes, the last stripe seemed neverending - 4"/10cm of garter stitch on rows approaching 500 stitches each (I think - I couldn't bring myself to actually count!).  But the short rows to provide the assymetrical shaping is a really cool feature, and fun to knit.  And you don't have to pick up the wraps in garter stitch short rows either!  I used a stitch marker where I wrapped the stitch, so on the next row I just had to remove it and count 20 stitches beyond it, before the next wrap. Made this even more of an autopilot knit.
Yarn:  Wollmeise 100% Merino superwash in Clementine - 1 skein plus 20g, and Wollmeise 80/20 Twin in Vamp, just under 1 skein.  I really like orange and red together, but omg this orange is BRIGHT!  It really didn't look as flurescent in the skein.  And nor does the colour really show true in the photos - it is much much brighter.  I figure this will be just like a safety vest in poor visibility weather - like a beacon!  It will certainly brighten up a dull winter's day!
Sticks:  4mm KnitPicks Options

Time:  30 August 2011 - 8 January 2012

Modifications:  I did 13 orange stripes (the pattern has you knit 12).  Mainly because I had enough yarn.  As it turns out, I had to omit the very last 2 rows of orange, because I would have run out, but it is a very forgiving pattern, and so this isn't really noticeable. Otherwise, I knit the pattern as written. It ended up being 60"/153cm in length and 27"/68cm in depth (pre-blocked - I haven't actually blocked it yet!)/
I really enjoyed knitting this.  I'm not entirely convinced how wearable it is - not because of the colour, but the shape.  I will reserve my judgment on this, I think it is going to need a shawl pin to stay on, especially if I wear it more as a shawl (ie for warmth) rather than just a scarf.  But I do know that I'll never get hit by a car when wearing it, heh!
Unless I happen to be lying down whilst wearing it ... a certain someone thinks it makes an excellent superhighway for all of his cars - it has already fulfilled this function a number of times, and I haven't even worn it yet!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

WIPapalooza 2012 - frog or finish?

You will recall I mentioned in my last post that I managed to finish 7 out of 17 pre-2011 WIPS last year.  Sadly, I still had 15 WIPS in total at the start of this year.  So this year presents another Binding Off Challenge! 

Many of those old WIPS I didn't work on at all last year.  So I thought it was time to review those ten pre-2011 WIPS and consider whether I plan to FROG or FINISH them all!  So here we go - feel free to chime in with your opinions on any of them.

First up:

La Digitessa socks (2009 - week of wollmeise!)
I did some work on these last year - let me tell you they are slow going!  Twisted rib and cable twists on almost every round.  I'm dreaded the leg, as at least on the foot I get plain stocking stitch on the bottom!  I am now at the point where I need to start the gusset increases.
Even though they are a slow knit, I do love the pattern and yarn and how they look, so these are a FINISH. Probably not this year though ... I am aiming for one sock this year and hopefully the other sock will only take another year.

Kusha Kusha scarf (2009)
As is often the case with projects for yourself, this one has taken a hit, put aside when other projects need to be knitted more urgently!  I did some work on it last year and I still really like it and it is a FINISH. 
I'm over halfway through the scarf, so I am aiming to get this one done this year.

Giraffe (2010)
This is for Connor - I have the biggest pieces knit, just a couple more legs and features to do, then to FINISH it.
This should be his birthday gift - so needs to be done by May.

Must Have Cardigan (2009)
I was lucky to be given this pattern booklet and still love this cardigan.  But I made several errors when doing the first few cable rows, and I thought I could ignore them, but I cannot.  And I don't have the mind space for a detailed cable pattern right now (especially since I am working from an upsized version of the pattern) and so this is going to be FROGGED. 
I may keep the ribbing, since I will make this cardi some day, just not in the next few years. It depends on whether I decide to use this yarn for a different (easier!) cabled cardi in my queue.

My Tender Comfort (Solas Coamh) (2009)
This was intended to be a pram blanket for Connor but it's clearly too late for that!  And it was too much work to frog.  Nor do I really want to finish it - those crochet cable rows are S L O W going ... so I am planning to CONVERT it.  Perhaps to a cushion cover.  With a nice PLAIN back, heh!
Let me know if you have any other grand ideas for it!

Garbo (2009 - Week of Wollmeise)
Hmmm, I didn't get very far with this one, did I?  I am undecided ... I do still like the pattern, so I think this is a FINISH. 
Just not in 2012.

The Cap Shawl (2009 - Week of Wollmeise)
I love this pattern and it is actually very easy for a lace pattern - primarily a lot of (yo, k2togs) and every second round is a resting round. 
But this one is actually a FROG because I've decided I would prefer a grey Nuvem using this yarn.  I will probably make the Cap Shawl again, but in a different colour.  Quite possibly red (who'd have thunk it?!)

Tantric Puzzle Top (2009 - Week of Wollmeise)
I love this unusual pattern and I think it will work well with the varigation of this yarn (let me tell you, it was quite the challenge choosing a pattern for the yarn in the first place!).  But sadly I can't remember what row I am on (let this be a lesson to people who don't use row counters for their lace and rely on the magnetic board thingys - the magnets don't always stay in the same spot when you don't look at a project for 2 years!!).  I should be able to work it out ... which I suspect makes this project a FINISH. 
And if I can't work it out, then it will probably be a FROG AND REDO!

Laceweight Clapotis (2007 !!!)
In my mad passion for the clapotis pattern, I decided it would be the perfect pattern for this laceweight yarn.  And of course, you guessed it. all that stocking stitch on 3.25mm sticks is quite the slog. The sticks I was using also had an impact on the knitability of this project - I bought a pair of Addi lace needles - it was just after they became available in Australia - but sadly they seemed to tarnish and the surface became rough and not really very pleasant to use. And like the Kusha Kusha scarf, since it is for me, it kept getting put to one side.

So much so, that I couldn't find it when I took the photos of the rest of the WIPS.  I think I know where it is.  If I ever find it, I will FINISH it!

Grrman Stockings (2008)
Knee high socks with an intricate cable down on side and across the foot - what a great idea!  Not!  Actually I do still love these and want to finish them.  I just need to work out how to start the blasted cable.  Oh, and find the WIP.  I suspect if I find the laceweight clappy, I will also find the Grrrman Stockings!

I suspect four or more years in the naughty corner will make this project behave the next time I pick it up to FINISH it.  Which may or may not be in 2012.

So out of 10 old (almost vintage in some cases, heh!) I plan to frog one completely, frog one partially (and possibly completely if I repurpose the yarn), convert one and finish the rest.  And knit the ones I will frog in a different yarn and/or in a few years.  Which I suppose means that while I don't always finish what I start in a timely manner, I do at least (mostly) choose to make things that I really like!

Monday, January 02, 2012

Hello TwentyTwelve!

Can you believe it?  I almost can't - but all the great knitting retrospectives I've been reading (and have waiting still in my blog reader) tell me otherwise!

I'm not organised enough to do a photo review of my knitting year, but thanks to the magic of Ravelry and my trusty moleskine knitting diary, I can tell you I started 34 projects, and I finished 34 projects.  If only the new projects matched the finished projects, heh!

Some of my FO's were big - my Olive jumper and Big Woolly vest, plus 2 skirts - Lanesplitter (which I have still to blog properly - woops!) and my Super Special Birthday Skirt.  Some were small - crochet snowflakes and a bunch of crochet dishcloths, plus a BALL!.  There were things for the little guy - a cardigan, 3 vests and a pair of pantses; gifts for friends - a baby cardi, a shawl, a hat, a tea cosy and a crochet ball; and of course socks - Nutkin, Heritage socks and husby's Frankensocks. And a few other bits and pieces - two scarves, a hat, another shawl, some mitts and a bag.

Amongst those FOs I managed to finish 7 pre-2011 WIPS.  And yet at the end of 2011, I still have 15 WIPS!  So it will be a Binding Off 2012 year again...but more of that in another post.  One thing that won't be bound off in 2012 - of course my Beekeeper Insanity! 
As for stash honesty...well, I am sad (sort of!) to report that I have not broken even, let alone reduced the stash in 2011.  But it hasn't grown much...heh heh.

In December, I just had to buy 2 bags of Rowan Calmer - a unique yarn, discontinued!  And a great price, thanks to Jannette's Rare Yarns.  I forgot to take a photo but I got a bag of garnet (a lovely red) and a bag of Tree, which is a fab green.  I can't decide which to knit up first!

I also received some lovely gift yarn - a skein of Cascade Heritage Silk from Bells - which I think just might be too nice to knit sexypuffs with!  It is so soft.  Yummo.
And a couple of balls of red yarn from my friend MissJ, who wanted to be a part of my Beekeeper insanity!  I must say, it is a lovely thing that so many of my friends are a part of my quilt, through their leftover yarn donations and gifts.  It really is a bit of a group project in that way, which makes it even more special.
So let's not put off the final tallying any further:

In: 22 x 50g balls
Actual balls used:  6 x 50g balls
8ply equivalent:  9.5 x 50g balls
metres used:  1076m

For the year 2011
Actual balls used: -16.5 x 50g balls
8ply equivalent:  112 x 50g balls
metres used:  13,054m

I was surprised to find I'd used the equivalent of 112 balls of 8ply yarn this year - I didn't think it would be that much!  And whilst I came out with a bit more yarn than I started with, it wasn't a crazy amount (and if I'd just ignored that Calmer, I would have been ahead!!  Oh well, I can't ignore a discontinued yarn bargain, that's nothing new!
Christmas snowflake sexypuff!
I will keep up the stash honesty next year, I think I need the bit of discipline that it gives me - because trust me, if I wasn't writing it all down each month, I know I would have more yarn than I currently do!
I will leave you with my first sexypuff of 2012 - I spent the last few minutes of 2011 and the first few minutes of 2012 knitting this in lovely Wollmeise whilst watching the NYE fireworks (yes, my life is that exciting!). You know how they say you should start a new year the way you want it to continue - well, knitting with great yarn, donated by a lovely friend, on my crazy but great big 5 year plan project.  Yes, that's how I'd like to continue TwentyTwelve.

Happy New Year!