Friday, April 29, 2011

Baby Shower for Violet

I am seriously backed up with the projects I need to show you guys, but I need to get some better pictures of a couple of projects and others are still en route to their recipients and I don't want to spoil the surprise!  So the only FO that I've got left for you is a hat and booties set that I made for a friend's baby shower this weekend. 

This is the same little baby for whom I made the Yggdrasil Afghan, but I had some purple yarn leftover from Goddess version 2.0 (pictures are coming!) and I thought "How perfect would it be to make some violet colored things for little Violet?"  Too perfect was the answer, so here they are:
A lacy little hat using the Sylvia pattern by Tami Sheiffer.  I'm sorry, I have to share the picture of the baby on the pattern page.  It's just that adorable:
You've all heard me say that I don't care for babies, but I would have to be some kind of robot to not swoon over baby pictures like this one.  Look at those cheeks!

And then I made a pair of booties to match:
So cute!  This pattern is Saartje's Booties by Saartje de Bruijn.  I just love baby patterns that are meant to resemble adult clothing and these Mary Jane style booties are no exception! 

Both patterns were very easy knits and both are free through Ravelry!  Together they took me about two (very distracted) evenings' worth of work.  I used Elann Lustrado, which is 100% mercerized cotton in fingering weight.  It is a nice yarn and has a lovely sheen (hence the name), but I probably won't be ordering it again.  It was spun a little too tight for my taste, I think.  It does hold up nicely in the washing machine, though, and I do love this color.  Overall, a very fun project to knit.

Congratulations again, Vicki!  I am very much looking forward to the shower tomorrow and can't wait to meet little Violet!

Next time I'll either have a new top to show you or a new sewing project, depending on how good I am about taking pictures. 



Friday, April 22, 2011

Echo Flower Shawl

Now that spring has sprung in Maine, I've finally decided to change my background image.  What do you think?  Pretty, huh?

Non-Knitting related news: Walker and I are looking for a house!  We made the decision that we're going to stay in Maine for the next several years while Hubby finishes his schooling and gets certified.  Yay, progress!  We're in the very beginning stages: getting preapproved, open houses, etc.  I will keep you posted as things change!

Now, knitting:
You guys remember that shawl Arty ate?  Yeah, this one:
Well, I've replaced it.  I bought some more Malabrigo in a similar color and even picked a similar shawl design, Echo Flower by Jenny Johnson.  It's free on Ravelry. Here's my finished shawl all pinned out:
This blue's a little darker than I used for Laminaria, but this pattern went by MUCH quicker.  I don't know if it's because the pattern was easier or because Laminaria acquainted me with the craziness of Estonian lace, but this sucker only took my about 2 weeks.  It could also be that I had more knitting time now that I'm done with the epic journey that was Venezia...

The main thing that differentiated this shawl from Laminaria is that this one contained nupps.  I know you've all heard me complain about nupps.  They can be a real pain in the patootie and this pattern had dozens of them in every row.  What made the difference this time was my amazing Knit Picks Harmony Interchangeables.  I really can't say enough nice things about them.  Best knitting purchase I ever made.  More to the point, though, their pointy ends and smooth (but not slick) grip downgraded nupps from a huge pain in the bum to a minor inconvenience.  

Here's a close up of the edge pattern with all the crazy nupps:
And now I have a pretty shawlette again, yay!  Too bad it's getting warm out now and I won't be able to wear it again until October or November.  Oh well--it'll be there waiting for me, safely stored away from naughty kittehs.

Previously I'd been slow with posting because I didn't have much to show you, but now I'm way behind!  Now that Venezia's done, I've been working on finishing all the UFOs sitting in my knitting basket and I finished 3 of them last weekend with Patriot's Day!  I might have to pace them since I'm working on another pretty sweater that could take a while (SO excited about this one!), but I've got lots in store for you over the next couple of weeks.  

I also have some crafty pay it forward stuff that I actually need to forward, except I'm missing some addresses.  Get in touch with me here or message me on Facebook.  I hope to get all those things out to their recipients in the next couple of weeks.

Happy Spring and Happy Easter to you all!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

It's Finished!

After two years, one frogging, and about 3 months of hibernation, it's finally here.  The Venezia Sweater:
There it is blocking in our guest bedroom over the weekend.  I haven't had a good opportunity to get some "action" pictures yet, but I did wear it to work on Tuesday and it got a lot of positive attention.  Most people couldn't believe that it came from my own handiwork and not a knitting machine in China!  But because I'm a photo slacker and I didn't want to keep you waiting too long, today's post will be more about the process and my mods.

I'm sure you all remember the devastation that accompanied last winter's realization that Venezia Version 1.0 didn't fit me.  I was heartbroken, but the thing was just too tight and too short.  It would have made me even sadder to have a beautiful, but ill-fitting FO sitting in my closet.  So I ripped it out.  I tore apart ~9 months of knitted labor and nearly cried.  I think that was the only frogging experience I did not enjoy, but I was determined to master this pattern.

My first step was to put it away for nearly a year.  I couldn't bear to look at it.  Then I started to think about color schemes.  The first was all over the place and I wanted something that looked not quite "uniform," but like it all "went" together, if you know what I mean.  I combed through my (then) extensive Palette stash until I found the right combination: all blues!  The finished color scheme includes Navy, Blue Note, Blue, Whirlpool, Sky, Cream, Oyster Heather, and Mist.  You can see them all more clearly in the close up picture:
I'm VERY pleased with this outcome--I've been seeing a lot of people do Venezia in just two colors and this is kind of like that, but with many shades of blue.  And I love blue :)

The next thing I had to do was completely alter the patter to suit my needs.  I went up both a pattern size (36) and a needle size (I knit colorwork very tightly), so that the stranded section was on a size 3.  Mods to the pattern include increasing both sides of the waist shaping by one inch--MUCH more difficult when you have to match the pattern exactly with the sleeves.  I ended up having to do a lot of calculating and row counting, but I managed to make them line up perfectly. 

I also used Garnboet's V-neck modification and knit both the yoke and the shoulder decreases at the same time.  I would never have thought to do this until I knit the Myrtle Cardigan.  Basically, I knit both the torso and the sleeves to the armpit, put the armpit stitches for both sides on holders, case on one "seam" stitch at each join, and then followed the instructions for all the armhole and shoulder decreases--together with the v-neck mod, of course.  It was a lot of counting and a lot to keep track of.

I would write my own sort of pattern/mod for the one piece shoulder decreases, but I was kind of winging it towards the end to decrease all of the arm stitches away.  Maybe if I review all my notes (and the make sense) and I'm feeling overly ambitious one night, I might write out my instructions, but I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you.

Certainly not for the faint of heart.  But look how pretty it came out!  Oh, worth it.  Totally worth the years (!) of frustration and countless hours of knitting, calculations, and weaving in the ends.  I almost forgot about the ends.  It really was so bad I almost blocked it out of my memory.  But can you blame me:

To give you an idea of size, when I wadded this sucker up tightly, it was about the size of a softball.  This is 3 nights' worth of weaving in ends.   A less determined knitter could not have persevered through this sweater.  I really hate everything to do with "finishing" processes, but I wanted the final product so badly that I pushed through and now have what I'm sure will become my new favorite sweater. 

I would say that I will never do anything like this again, but c'mon, this is me we're talking about.  What fun is a pattern if it's not outrageously complicated and/or difficult?

I will update with more pictures soon!

Also, next time I should have those Crafty Pay it Forward gifts to show you.  I'm on the second half of the last one...