Wednesday, October 31, 2007

WIPs versus UFOs

One potential hot-button topic when it comes to discussing UFOs is the issue of "when does a WIP actually become a UFO?" Because, you know, the term "UFO" can have a slightly negative connotation to it, as though you had given up on the project, didn't have the willpower to finish it, let a technical issue halt your progress, got distracted by other things, are afflicted with a hopeless case of startitis, what-have-you. UFOs get stuffed into the bottoms of knitting bags, shoved into the backs of closets, are hidden away from prying eyes.

Whereas WIPs can be proudly displayed, photographed, blogged, and shown off in general. "Look at this fabulous thing I'm knitting! It will become the most beautiful thing in the universe!" WIPs are filled with possibility and promise, and are evidence of industry and productivity. Funny how a simple label can change one's perception, isn't it?

So Karen, I think when you look at your list, it looks like you have at least 4 WIPs and maybe only 2 or 3 UFOs. Doesn't that sound so much better? =)

As for myself, here's what I'm working on right now.


1) Modern Quilt Wrap. I have now knit up to square 18, 25% done! Hopefully I will continue to plug away at this one.

2) Main Street Fair Isle sweater for Mom. I think the main body is just about done, and I have to cast on for the second sleeve. The first sleeve may need to be reknit. I got sidetracked by the Modern Quilt Wrap, but need to get back to this one.

3) I just started a pair of socks for a Christmas present. Will blog about this later.

4) This is a fairly long-term project, I'm working on a mitred square afghan in Noro Silk Garden. I haven't blogged about this one yet, because I am a lazy bum and also maybe because I don't want to jinx myself somehow by writing about it. It's the biggest thing (read: most expensive) I've embarked on, so thinking about it too much gives me the heebie-jeebies in a strange way, clearly I have some latent (or actually rather obvious) $$$ issues lurking around (also now that I've got this cat who likes to vomit on things sometimes and use inappropriate things as scratching posts, I have this depressing thought that maybe I'll just knit it and then keep on a shelf in my closet where she can't get to it). Well, I guess it's out now, I should write more about it some time. =)


1) I started another Child's Placket Sweater in blue and orange, for a potential-baby-to-be-adopted-who-turned-out-eventually-to-be-a-four-year-old. Oops. I've knit the body but haven't started any sleeves yet, and since there IS no baby I haven't had any reason to continue with this one. Perhaps it will be frogged. But then I wouldn't know what to do with the yarn. It's not something that I necessarily want just hanging around in the stash, the colours are a bit too bright for me, but who knows, maybe it will come in handy someday.

I think that's all I've got on the needles right now, which doesn't seem too bad. Perhaps the next topic should be things-we've-got-in-the-queue, or things-we're-planning-to-knit-that-we-haven't-gotten-around-to-starting-yet, which would truly be quite embarrassing, at least in my case. =)

(Sorry for the lack of linkage, I'm way too exhausted for that right now....)

Of course UFOs exist!

After reading Knitting Daily for the past little while, the whole discussion there about unfinished objects made me think about my own UFOs. I thought it might be a useful exercise for me to list them all out so I knew just what the heck I had going.

1) The Dollar and a Half Cardigan from the Spring 2007 Interweave. I think I started this one somewhere around July, and so far I've only knit the back. I need to get moving on this one. I believe the yarn I'm using is Telemark, from Knit Picks. I'm knitting them on my size 5 Lantern Moon rosewood circulars, which I just love.

2) Yet another multi-directional scarf. I'm using that Cherry Hill yarn that Adrienne sent me many, many moons ago on size 3 bamboo needles. I kinda wanted to make it for autumn, so I could have a transition scarf before the weather got cold enough for my Clapotis. But the weird weather was so warm up until last week that I didn't need a scarf, so I lost motivation for really working hard at it. And the all of a sudden it got cold, and I had to break out the Clapotis! Ha ha!

3) A lacy scarf/throw made out of Blue Sky Alpaca's organic cotton. I made one of these already for a friend, and have since decided that I wanted one too. I've almost finished one skein and will be moving to the second one soon.

4) Duh. How could I forget that crochet blanket. My current major project considering babies don't really wait for the gifter to finish. 'Nuff said on that one.

5) Remember those blue socks that I was knitting using magic loop and two at a time? Well, the cord on my needles wasn't quite long enough to do magic loop AND two socks comfortably, so I moved one of the socks to some dpns and have been working on that. Still haven't gotten to the heel yet. Really, I fail at this.

6) Remember that disastrous green sweater that was all messed up? Still haven't frogged it or fixed it.

7) Long ago, I started a shawl out of some Shimmer from Knit Picks in the Morning Mist colourway. This has been sitting for so long now that I'm thinking of frogging it. But even if I did, what would I do with the yarn? It's this lace weight, variagated stuff that doesn't really lend itself to much except a shawl. I think I just don't like working with lace weight, or relatively fine stuff, so I keep finding other things to do instead.

And that would be my list of UFOs. Just looking at it kinda makes me feel like I've been totally failing at keeping up with my knitting. Somehow, I need to really keep my motivation to finish rather than getting distracted by the newest, pretty object.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Playing with colours

As you may have figured out by now, I am a sucker for pretty colours. I am NOT by any stretch of the imagination an artist or even knowledgeable about colours and how to use them or put them together in a pleasing fashion. I just like to look at them. Someday, I would love to be able to be creative in assembling colours together to create beautiful projects such as this blanket or this quilt or this yarn, but for now I will have to make do with taking what other people have created/designed and appropriating it for my own use.

Which brings me to my next knitting project. The Modern Quilt Wrap from Folk Style. When I saw this pattern featured on Knitting Daily, I fell absolutely head over heels. The colours! The drapeyness! The Cracksilk Haze! Now, I've never actually worked with Kidsilk Haze (except as an accent stripe in my ill-fated first sweater that didn't work out and which we will not speak of now), but it has definitely been on my list-of-things-to-try for a long time, I was just waiting for the "right" project (I've also had my eye on this Trinket scarf for a long time, it's just expensive as a kit and also from across the pond (not that that's stopped me before of course), and also I have trouble deciding on colours). At first I thought "9 skeins? Holy crap that's expensive". But then I thought "Hey wait, I don't have to knit Christmas presents for a certain person (or his mother) this year, why not buy MYSELF yarn instead?" And several weeks and several trips to the LYS and several eBay purchases later, all the required yarn had been assembled.


Kidsilk Haze_02

Kidsilk Haze_05

I've replaced a couple of the colours with ones that I already had in the stash (substituting Pearl for Drab and Candy Girl for Blushes), but I don't think it makes too much of a difference to the final pattern except for making it a bit brighter (brighter is better, yay!).

I started knitting the first squares while watching the Red Sox in the ALCS, and it was VERY slow going at first. The yarn is so fine and slippery that it made joining new colours and weaving in ends difficult. And because this project generates so many dangling ends, I decided to weave the yarn in as I went, following this tutorial. Which in turn meant that I had to learn to knit with the yarn in my right hand (I normally knit Continental). Which slowed things down even more.

Because there was a learning curve associated with this project, I had to knit the first 4 squares twice. Here's my second attempt, which is actually sort of square like it should be:

Modern Quilt Wrap Blocks 1-4

Here are blocks 1-6:

Modern Quilt Wrap Blocks 1-6

I've actually knit up to block 9 now, but I don't have a photo (perhaps this weekend when I can get outside with it during daylight hours). Here's how long it's taken me to knit all these squares (Pardonnez the super-crap Photoshopping):

Modern Quilt Wrap Blocks 1-6_mod

3 playoff games, 9 blocks. Each "large" block is taking me around 2 hours to knit. There are 36 of these blocks in the wrap. Do the math! This will take me a while to finish (but I want it now! I want to wear it this winter!), but I think it will definitely be worth it in the end. Provided that the mohair around my neck doesn't drive me absolutely batshit crazy. The bra test resulted in a bit of itching, but nothing too horrible. Tolerable, methinks. =)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Hooking for a change

Well, I thought it was about time to try my hand at a little crochet. Remember that kit I bought a while back to make a crochet baby blanket? Here's my start of it.

I apologize for the terrible lighting of the photo. the colours don't look quite that...uh...yellow and sickly. And just as a side note, the completed dark row is actually navy blue, while the dark row that is still in progress is actually black.

All in all, I'm enjoying my crochet experience so far. My tension is a little flaky sometimes, and its' taking me some time to be able to 'read' my work the way I can 'read' my knitting, but I figure it just takes time and practice.

Sweater update

Because I am ridiculously paranoid, I took the sweater off the needles last week and subjected it to a nice soak in Eucalan. After removing the sweater from its bath and laying it out of my blocking board, it seemed very slightly wider (35-36" around instead of 34-35") and considerably longer (16-17" long instead of 13.5"). The sweater took several days to dry (mostly because it was being covered with a towel to prevent feline-associated accidents), and as of yesterday it is about 34-35" in circumference and 15" long. Which means that my stitch gauge didn't really change with blocking, but that my row gauge got a bit bigger.

All in all, not too bad. I think the next step is to knit sleeve #2 while trying to keep my gauge loose, and see what happens. Perhaps ripping out sleeve #1 will become necessary. Then there's the Fair Isle part that I'm a little nervous about, having never done it before. But we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

Next up, yet another new project on the needles that I'm really excited about. This is sort of a biggie and will probably take some time to finish, but I think it will be worth it. More when I get off my lazy butt and upload the pictures!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Gauge issues

This post will be sort of word-heavy, because I didn't have the presence of mind to take pictures. Even if I had taken pictures, you'd just see a bunch of purple blobs anyway, so maybe it's better that I didn't subject you to the boredom of seeing essentially the same pictures over and over again.

Anyway, I've been having some gauge issues with the Main Street Fair Isle sweater. Remember the too-tight sleeve? The jury is still out on whether or not the sleeve is in fact too tight. I'm going to knit the second sleeve looser, and see if we like that better. In the meantime, I started on the body, because at least that should've been easier. Or so I thought.

I started out on US8 needles (one size larger than recommended), cast on in the round, and knit for a couple of inches. Then discovered that I had TWISTED the stitches (Grr, there's always a first time). Hooray for the mobius strip! So I had to rip it all out. Cast on again, made sure that the stitches weren't twisted, knit for maybe 8 or 9 inches while incorporating waist shaping. The sweater was subjected to obsessive measuring (mom) and gauge-checking (me). Here's what happened:

CO 144 stitches
4 stitches per inch = 36 inches around
4.25 stitches per inch = 34 inches around
4.5 stitches per inch = 32 inches around

My gauge was around 4.25 stitches or 4.5 stitches per inch, depending on who was measuring, and the sweater persistently measured about 32 inches around. With the waist shaping, the circumference became even smaller. The sweater was quickly deemed much too tummy-hugging, and I was ordered to reknit it sans waist shaping. So out it came again, and I started over a third time, this time knitting VERY loosely.

This photo is of the (second) with-waist-shaping attempt, the sweater is reclining luxuriously on a small patch of grass in front of my apartment.

Main Street Fair Isle body_01

Currently the gauge is between 4 and 4.25 stitches per inch, and measures approximately 35 inches around. Based on my swatches, the gauge should expand ever so slightly after blocking, but who knows what will happen? Should I have been knitting it tighter all along, ignoring the persistent cries of "it's too small!"? We are happy with it for now, but what if the sweater expands monstrously and transforms into something tent-like?

This is why I don't generally knit sweaters. I need to cultivate patience and letting-go-ness. Socks and scarves and hats are much more forgiving. Afghans too.

And speaking of afghans....behold the latest yarn purchase!

Colinette Ab Fab Antique_01

It's a Colinette Absolutely Fabulous throw kit, in the Antique colourway. I have been wanting to knit one of these for YEARS, because I thought it would look really fabulous in my parents' living room. I remember sending my mom some colourway photos a couple of years back asking for opinions, but I never heard back (no wonder, it's hard to judge from small digital representations) and the idea was shoved aside for "later". But after seeing a few of these kits in person at Patternworks, it was clearly time. Not sure when I will get around to starting this, but I'm so glad that I've finally got one of these kits in my greedy little paws!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

And we have a teddy bear!

Flush with inspiration from seeing all the stuff Adrienne's been posting up, I decided to finish Bobbi Bear up while baking an apple pie today.

There it is, with no face yet. I actually had some trouble getting the ears on.

And there he is. I don't know why I just decided that it's a he either. I've realized with this project that I suck at laying details over top knitting. Maybe next time I do this, I'll build the colour change into the knitting.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Earlier this summer, I knit a Shedir cap for a friend's mom who was undergoing chemotherapy. The first time around I knit the chart completely wrong (i.e. backwards, I don't know what was wrong with me) and it looked like utter crap. But after some ripping and reknitting, the pattern started coming together, and even though it looked super-complicated it was actually really easy to get into a groove. I love knitting cables, the Rowan Calmer was a dream to work with, and after it was done the hat looked so lovely that I really wanted to keep it for myself! Of course I couldn't have done that, so naturally the solution was to knit another one for myself:


Does the yarn look familiar? It's this yarn reclaimed from the swatches I knit 3 years (!!) ago. Since that time I had bought some more Calmer in the same colour (totally unimaginative I know, but they didn't really carry any other flattering colours at the time, mostly pastels, and I CANNOT wear pastels) for another pattern (Nothin' But A T Shirt from Magknits), so this hat was knit out of two half-skeins. Probably different lot numbers, but I can't tell the difference yet. =)

Here is a looking-in-the-mirror shot! Ignore my bathroom crap in the background please. =)

Shedir worn_02

I knit one fewer repeat of the main cable pattern (4 instead of 5) to make it a bit shorter, and I like it (maybe it could use a few more rows of ribbing, though)! This will make a fantastic fall hat. I may need to make yet another one....

Thursday, October 04, 2007


Hey, it's October! How on earth did that happen? That means that there are 2 more months until December, which means less than 3 months before Christmas! And Christmas knitting.

In the past I've usually been pretty good with the Christmas stuff, last year I knit 4 scarves, 2 hats and a pair of socks, but this year the recipient list will be limited pretty much to my parents (since my sister is out of the country). I've got some pretty brown Jaeger Extra Fine Merino (Aran? Chunky? I can't remember) to make some winter accessories for my dad, and the Valley Yarns to make the Main Street Fair Isle Pullover for my mom (also by Valley Yarns).

I started knitting a sleeve on US7 needles, but discovered that my gauge seemed too tight. It was also a smidge too tight on my gauge swatch, but even tighter on the sleeve (probably because the former was knit flat, the latter in the round). So I went up to US8 needles, figuring that that should solve the problem. Here's the sleeve as it is right now:

Main Street Fair Isle sleeve_03

Sorry for the crap photo, it's hard to take pictures of yourself! The sleeve is STILL smaller than it "should" be, and I'm worried that it's still too small. I think it's fine up past the elbow, but it's the wrist circumference that I'm concerned about. It's like 6 inches around there, and while my mom does have small wrists, such a snug fit may not be comfortable. She's coming down to see me pretty soon, so I'll wait until then to have her try it on. I may have to either 1) reknit the sleeve on even larger needles, or 2) rework the pattern to start with more stitches and fewer increases. I hates the prospect of reknitting, I'm so lazy!