Thursday, March 31, 2011

Venezia Teaser

I've been neglecting this blog.  Sorry about that.  The 30-day Yoga Challenge has kind of been taking over my life.  I go to work, go to yoga, blog about yoga, and pass out.  Not much room for knitting in there.  But today is my last day of the challenge and after tomorrow's "final reflections," I'll be all done with that and can devote more of my time to knitting again.

I have finished a couple of things in the last three weeks, but they've all been for that Facebook crafty exchange and I don't want to post pictures of those until they go out in the mail.  I want the recipients to be surprised!  Well, I might post some pictures on Ravelry, but you won't see anything on here until I send out the mail and I have one more gift to finish, so you'll all have to be patient.

Also, I started the replacement shawl for the one that Arty ate.  Not much to show yet except for my little status bar on the right.  What do you think of my new little Ravelry widget? Cool, huh?

I have, however, been working steadily on the Venezia sweater.  No, it's not finished yet.  I ran into a snag when my stock of Oyster Heather ran out.  My carefully crafted color scheme wouldn't have worked without it!  But now I have another ball in my possession and once I make the final adjustments to the pattern, I'll be ready to finish the yoke section of the sweater.  It's coming, slowly and surely, but it's coming!  My goal now is to have the whole thing finished by Easter.

To tide you over until I have something finished to show you, here's a teaser pic of my Venezia color scheme:

Ooooh, aaaahhhh.  Now imagine that over an entire sweater and get excited!!



Thursday, March 10, 2011

In a Cabling Kind of Mood

Since I (re)learned to cable without cable needle, it's about all I want to do now--cable, cable, cable.  So I've got two projects to show you this week--one very simple project with a complicated cable and one complicated project with a very simple cable.  First the simple project:

Knotty Gloves:
Even though it's March, it's still very chilly up here in Maine.  The snow is starting to melt, but those ugly, dirty snowbank leftovers are still clinging to the side of the road.   And this means that my sad little fingers are still quite cold.  They needed a little something soft to warm them until warmer temperatures finally arrived.  I've had quite enough of big complicated gloves for the time being, but fingerless mitts are much, much easier.  Thus, these little babies came to be:
The pattern is Knotty by Julia Mueller--I can't get over how beautiful her glove patterns are--but rather than knit through the fingers, I continued to knit the palm section for 10 more rounds and then knit 5 rounds of ribbing.  I know there's a pattern for a completely ribbed version of these out there, but I really like the diamond pattern on the back of the hand as the ribbing tapers off.  Very pretty.

For yarn, I used Berocco Ultra Alpaca Fine--a wool/alpaca/nylon blend.  It is nice and soft, but I found that it tends to tangle very easily.  I spent an entire afternoon last weekend untangling my yarn cake.  It's pretty nice, but there are a lot of better sock weight yarns out there.  I don't think I will be buying it again.

Arching Cables Jacket:

I am getting really, really tired of that Venezia project.  I've completed it up to the armpit, but that now means that I have to revise the sleeve instructions and math just wasn't in the agenda for this weekend.  Instead, I started another, quicker, more gratifying project that I could start without whipping out the calculator. 

The pattern was featured in the Fall 2010 Interweave Knits and was written by Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark.  It has a really cool construction.  You start with the cabled belt and knit that flat, then pick up stitches for the upper chest and shoulders section and when you finish that, pick up stitches for the lower "peplum" section on the other side.  One of the coolest features is that it's a drop-shoulder design, meaning I didn't do any decreases in the shoulder--it drops straight down, as it were--but the outer section is knit on the bias.  So that as it drapes off your shoulder, the stitches face down, as they were meant to.  Very thoughtful design.

The yarn is Valley Yarns Stockbridge--alpaca/wool.  This is WEBS's own discount brand.  I'd never used it before, but have had good experience with WEBS, so I thought I would give it a try.  I like it.  The price is good, it's warm and not scratchy, and the color is a really lovely dark green with a slight hint of blue.  It's a good alternative to Knit Picks if you're looking for some alpaca.  I would buy this again for sure.

My favorite part of this project, though, was using my new Knit Picks harmony interchangeables.  I looooove them.  I couldn't put the project down--hence why it only took me 6 days!  It takes some finesse (and an elastic band) to get them to screw in all the way, but they're so worth it.  I love the pointy tips, the smooth wood, the flexible cables, the pretty colors.  Really, there isn't anything I don't like.  Best $85 I ever spent on a knitting item.

For my next series of projects, I plan to hunker down and put some more work into that danged Venezia and, for sanity's sake, start working on little projects for the Facebook pay it forward thing.  I owe 4 projects and I've only started one of them.   Uh-oh...



Thursday, March 3, 2011

Socks, Socks, Socks

I wish I had more to show you for my lateness, but things have been rather busy lately.  First, there's Walker's classes (which are going very well, despite the high time commitment) and second, I started another yoga challenge earlier this week.  Once more I'm shooting for practicing 5-6 times per week, but the difference this time is that I will be blogging about it in more detail. 

Don't worry, I will not be hijacking this blog.  I started another one here.  So if you're interested in the benefits of a regular hot yoga practice or just want to see the wild and wacky poses I get up to when I'm not knitting, check me out.

Anyway, knitting:

Stocking Ornaments
You all remember the dozens of stocking ornaments that I cranked out at Christmastime for, well, everyone?  Well, Kathryn loved them so much that she commissioned me to make a few more for her three kids.  I panicked a little because I didn't have any of the Christmas colored Palette I used before, but she assured me to use my best judgment with the colors I had and this is what I came up with:

Cute, huh?  Kathryn sure liked them--she wants me to make two more for her pets!  Man, my queue just keeps getting longer and longer!

Paraphernalia Socks

This pattern was a real joy to knit.  This was one of the very rare patterns that did not once bore me. I never wished that I was done with the project so I could move onto the next one. Maybe it was the size of the pattern chart and that I only had to repeat it times. It was easy to memorize, but I was never bored. Bravo.

I really, really did not like that it required dividing the stitches onto four needles, so I cheated a little and had to put the end of the round in the middle of one needle. Since the cabling makes your place in the round very clear, this was never a problem.

I also omitted one pattern repeat in the leg on each sock. I was worried about running out of yarn--and was right to do so, since I would have run out had I completed the full length of the leg section. I like the way this turned out. They are beautiful and are just the right length for my snow boots.

I would happily knit this pattern again.

But not for a while.  My backlog is getting a tad out of control--Venezia and non-knitting time commitments are eating into my time and motivation.  Maybe by spring (I mean Maine spring, not the Vernal Equinox) I will have that monster sweater done and be able to move onto other things...