Monday, November 23, 2009

What Kind of Boob Am I?

Mustard Leaf BeretI'm the kind of boob who forgets to tell you that I finished the Leaf Beret over a week ago. It is lovely, wearable and an easy knit - especially for those like me re-entering the crafty atmosphere.

Pattern: Melissa LaBarre's Leaf Beret
Yarn: One skein Louet Gems sportweight in Mustard colorway; 100 grams and 225 yards.
Modifications: None. The pattern is very clear, as written. Even the chart-averse will have no problem understanding the leaf motif.

It wasn't my beloved marigold alpaca, but I did try to hold true to the pale color of the original yarn. I did end up using the alpaca as part of a cowl that can easily be paired with the beret. It's in the seed stitch collar stage and should be ready by week's end.

I am also the kind of boob who cares way too much about what some anonymous person had to say recently in a new comment to an old post from 2005:
"JC has left a new comment on your post "Ciao 2005, Bon Giorno 2006!":

how about sticking to one language, you pretentious boob, preferably the native lanugage (sic) of the readersip (sic) you hope not to put off..." says:
pre⋅ten⋅tious –adjective
1. full of pretense or pretension.
2. characterized by assumption of dignity or importance.
3. making an exaggerated outward show; ostentatious.

Karen's got the hookup
Studying the brain of the boob
Please don't confuse knowledge of more than one language as pretentiousness. This is simply a result of my environment and upbringing. I may be many things but feelings of self-importance are not part of my make-up. On the contrary, I'd rather ham it up and use self-directed humor to divert attention away from the "real me." I will retreat to a corner before making an ostentatious show.

Like many people, I can be complex, intense, perceptive, impulsive and worried over the smallest things (like why I've lost a few readers or how to stop the cat from chewing my patterns). That may make me both perspicacious and paradoxical but never, ever a pretentious boob.

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Loops Over Loops

At its most basic, that's all knitting really is, isn't it? Loops over loops. Only when we apply these under-over-through actions to the loops in a consistent, uniform way do we begin to see the loops build upon one another into a cohesive fabric.

This is something that has fascinated me of late. Just how differently designing for knitting varies from creating patterns for sewing which you then apply to fabric. Of course, there are similarities of terminology, measurement and fit. But with knitting, you are simultaneously creating the fabric and the garment with all the requisite constraints of sizing and fit. Pretty freaking cool if you ask me. All from something as simple as loops over loops.

Velvet Grapes Hat & Scarf
What To Do?
I delayed posting the finished Foliage hat in Malabrigo's Velvet Grapes worsted because I just couldn't decide on what to do with the 1.5 skeins of yarn I had left. The hat is a quick knit, even for me, taking only 4 days from start to finish. I hesitated on making a scarf since the temps are starting to hint at Spring in the Midwest. But I'm like, "Heck. It's wool. I'll need a scarf at some point."

After the flipping through Ravelry, a couple of books and a giant box of patterns, I dipped into the Knitty archive once again and cast on for Argosy. It sort of looks like entrelac or modular knitting but it's really just loops over loops, turned counter-clockwise 45 degrees. No diamonds. No leaves. Just a little ol' patterned stockinette and garter that fascinates my visual mind.

"No Knitting For You!"
If it's not one thing, it's another. There will be a slight break in the fiber action, so please forgive me. For reasons of either medication or stress, my hands have broken out in a kind of rash. The topical treatment consists of cortisone cream and cotton gloves and avoiding wool and doing the dishes until the symptoms subside. The only part I like is not doing the dishes. Here's wishing you a relaxing weekend!

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

My Kind Of March Madness

I originally had no intention of committing to any more deadlines, since lately I'm finding them little more than a recipe for failure. Grand plans. Not keeping up. The usual blah-blah. So why in heaven's name did I let friend Rachel persuade me to hop onto another Ravelry knit-along (KAL) bandwagon? This time, it's all about the Malabrigo, baby (Ravelry link).

The Malabrigo Junkies are sponsoring a half-dozen or so KALs, including Knitty's Foliage hat. Since Foliage and I are already acquainted, I expect to comfortably meet the end of March completion date. See? I've already finished one repeat of the leaf pattern past the crown.

Malabrigo Worsted
Malabrigo, "Velvet Grapes" (cat hair at no extra charge)
Could I stop there? No, apparently not. When I saw the Agatha shawl on Wendy Knits, I knew I had the perfect candidate for the job: Malabrigo's latest offering, Silky Merino.

Malabrigo Silky Merino
At first blush, there appears to be more of silk than merino to this yarn, in both the touch and the halo sheen so characteristic to that fiber. The label says 50-50 but it seems to me that the wool serves more as a supporting player. This stuff is smooth, affordable luxury and is available in both solid and variegated colors.

I didn't even know about Silky Merino until I stumbled across it while checking out Manos' silk blends in a nearly identical weight and yardage. I know both companies have their proponents. Anyone who has touched either or both care to weigh in?

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

I Knit Not. For Now.

But I do crochet. Yes, a hook and Michelle's handspun merino come to the rescue when grumpy shoulder goes into the time-out corner.

FO: Crochet handspun beret
A few details
120 yards of bulky handspun merino in the color, "Hush"
Size L crochet hook
Nothing but a crochet stitch bible and a general idea for a beret (read: no pattern)

I used a knotless method (also known as "Magic Adjustable Ring") to create a foundation chain circle that could be easily tightened with a tug. Result? No hole in the top of the hat! I didn't invent it but I so wish that I'd known about it sooner. It makes all other methods for crocheting a circular object without a hole look positively arcane.

The pattern I chose is based on the Iris stitch, one of the "Fans and Shells" from The Crochet Stitch Bible, except I substituted half-double crochet for double crochet. Again, I winged it when it came to increasing the circle, keeping it as close to the shell pattern as possible. I kept this up until the top was about 10" in diameter, then I decreased to a point and continued straight in single crochet for about 2".

Oops, this is not an exclusively crochet project. I forgot about the part where I pick up the stitches along the bottom edge and do a k1, p1 ribbing for a few rows. Size 10.5 (US) double points to the rescue. A couple of buttons from the collection to finish her off and that's it! Looks like Rocky approves.

FO: Crochet handspun beret avec chat
Let's see if I can finish off at least one more item before hurtling headlong into my Dream In Color KAL selection.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

FO: Easy Glamour

Those of you who maintain a blog can hopefully relate to the real or imagined pressure to "feed the monster." I am absolutely in awe of those craft bloggers who have something to say - and seemingly a new project to show - nearly every day. How do they do it? Makes me feel as though I'm somehow inadequate. Eh, well. Perhaps, these be my issues alone.

As I was going to say, in an effort to keep you visiting my outpost, I figured I needed a hat, stat! Something quick, beautiful and useful. That's why I turned to my size K crochet hook and some chunky stash yarn to produce this lovely, glamorous duo.

FO: Crochet Hat and Neckwarmer

2.5 skeins Malabrigo chunky (104 yards) in the color Water Green
Size K (10.5 / 6.50 mm) crochet hook

The hat pattern is based on my own recipe for top-down crochet hats. One day, I may write it down. It's just something I've been using ever since I figured out how to crochet when I was still in the single digits. Next, I tacked on a vertical shell-like stitch called Twig from The Crochet Stitch Bible, page 81.

FO: Crochet Hat and Neckwarmer
The scarflet or neckwarmer is straight Twig for 17 or so inches, then I do a kind of short-row to extend the right side a bit. Sew on a couple of appropriately-sized buttons on the left side and there you have it: Easy Glamour in less than two days.

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Getting My Tweed On!

A new year and new yarn to play with, so what do I do? Knock out my version of the Yarn Harlot's Unoriginal Hat Pattern (PDF) in less than 2 days. Even with chunky yarn and big needles, that still amuses me.

FO: Chunky Tweed Hat
1 skein Cascade 128 Chunky Tweed
Size 13 US dpns
2 vintage Bakelite buttons, courtesy of Vintage Necessities

Once I completed the pattern as written, I picked up 56 stitches around the bottom of the hat. Next, I used the cable cast on method to add 8 stitches to create a tab extension for the buttons. I knit this add-on flat instead of circular so that I'd end up with an easy 5 row garter band.
FO: Chunky Tweed Hat
What's a hat without a scarf, I ask you? Just a lonely little soldier. Enter Lynne Barr's "Knitting New Scarves" and the ZigZag scarf pattern (page 122). I'm only 3 repeats into it, but it is very easy and serves as a wonderful introduction to intarsia.

ZigZag Scarf
What an intriguing collection of scarves that ventures far beyond the basic elongated rectangle. I strongly suggest this book be added to your knit reading list.

So many other temptations in store. What should I tackle next? Blue Sky Alpaca's Suri Merino fingerless mitts or a felted Malabrigo handbag? Oh, yeah. There are a few new designs brewing as well. My crystal ball says '08 will be a busy, busy year!

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

FO: A Matched Set

What started as a simple desire to provide a little warmth and softness for a neighbor who'd been ill for quite some time blossomed into a pair of somewhat stripey mittens with a matching hat to boot.

FO: Gloria's Mittens
I hadn't seen Gloria for a couple of months. I'd heard she was getting treated for some sort of cancer but that's all I knew. What a great surprise to see her in early December! She was out walking around the neighborhood - a bit paler and thinner, but out and about nonetheless. I noticed she was wearing mittens and decided at that point to make her another pair.

We chatted for a bit about what she'd been going through for the past few months, when she revealed that the treatment made her hair fall out. "It's just hair," she said. "It'll grow back." In the meantime, I wanted to make something soft and warm for her head too.

FO: Gloria's Hat FO: Gloria's Hat - band detail
Both hat and gloves were made from Jaeger Chamonix, a lovely discontinued cabled yarn made with wool and angora. I have a couple of colors in stash that I was saving for something special at some unspecified future date. No time like now, eh? The accent yarn you might recognize as the leftovers from Jack's hoodie: Fearless Fibers wool and mohair blend.

I originally intended to do a hemmed picot edge but I like the casual air of the rolled brim and grosgrain ribbon through eyelet instead. The variegated band above the eyelet is a simple pattern of stockinette, then 3 rows of knit and purl stitches. The crown decrease features the same simple knit, purl texture.

FO: Gloria's Hat - top detail
The somewhat stripey mittens were based on Ann Budd's "The Knitters Handy Book of Patterns." Nothing fancy. Just a little mix of 1-2-3 rows of striping after the ribbing at the wrist, then reverse the yarns after knitting the palm. Finish the top with every other row decrease until 8 stitches remain. Draw yarn through and anchor, then you've got a finished mitten.

I actually finished and delivered the mittens on Christmas Day. Gloria expressed gratitude and surprise that I even had the strength to go shopping for the mittens. Imagine her face when I revealed that I'd knit them. She was so shocked that she had no time to think when I asked if she'd like a matching hat. What could she say but, "Yeah, sure!"

Three days later, hat was born. It also became the last finished object for 2007. Boy, I can't wait to see what fabulousness 2008 has in store. It could get juicy!

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

My Knitting Angel

Chevron Scarf w/ BeretYes, I have a knitting angel and her name is Angie. There's been a bit of blog chatter lately about paying it forward or random acts of kindness. I think it only fair that I put Angie's name out there as someone who did a me kindness by offering - no, insisting that she finish knitting my Last Minute Knitted Gifts chevron scarf for me.

Anyone who's read my screed long enough knows that I have the right shoulder from hell. When it will flare up, no one knows. Through private correspondence, Angie and I came to terms: she wanted nothing; I insisted on, at least, a token of my appreciation in return for her knitting this scarf that has nothing "last minute" about it! Sock yarn for a 6 foot scarf? But she persevered, sending me the scarf a couple of weeks ago.

It is so lovely that I decided a matching hat was in order, so I made up a crochet beret with three little purple buttons on the front. What better way to spend a snowy day in Chicago? Thank you, Angie.

ETA: The yarns used for the scarf are Scout's "Harlot's Mums" and Sunshine Yarns' "Dragonfly." The mini beret uses both of those (double-stranded) plus RYC Cashsoft in fuchsia for a solid punch of color.

Now let's see if I can't help out another Karen. She's having some trouble with her hands and wrists, making knitting next to impossible for her right now. She recently wished for a knitting angel of her own. Any more big hearts out there willing to help?

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Monday, October 29, 2007

FO: Felted Foliage

It came as a surprise, this latest finished object. I'd just started "Foliage" from Fall '07 Knitty when it was no sooner finished. And felted. I even have about twelve inches of a matching, triangular scarf / shawl thing trailing off my size 13US straights, which should use up the remaining Malabrigo "Little Lovely (variegated)" and "Geranio (solid)." What's come over me? Let's start with the knitting first.

I had every intention of knitting Foliage as written but things veered seriously off-course when I found that I did not have the correct size (nor length) for either dpns or circular needles. I went up to size 8US dpns and size 9US circular. I'm no fan of the short-cable circular, thus I only own two in my entire collection. Although the worsted weight yarn is well-matched with needles in the 7 to 9US range, the pattern ended up rather larger than intended - and that was even prior to adding the ribbing as called for in the pattern. That's why it was ixnay on the ibbing-ray.

FO: Foliage Hat
Exhibit A

After careful consideration cursing my stupidity, I figured that a bit of bath in mild soap and hot water might just save my bee-hind. This is, after all, one of the gifts on my holiday list. Some manual agitation, a good rinse and a roll in a fresh towel yielded a slightly smaller, fuzzier bucket hat, which I've got to say I actually like just as well!

FO: Felted Foliage Hat
Exhibit B

Now I will answer the question as to, "Why the knitting frenzy?" I saw a new specialist on Friday who refused to even acknowledge what the MRI shows about my right shoulder because my pain doesn't fit within his experience of that particular diagnosis. He is the second doctor to refuse to fix my shoulder. He is the second doctor to pat me on the head and send me off to pain management and physical therapy so that I can learn to live with my limitations.

If you know me at all, this treatment is tantamount to throwing a lit firecracker at my feet. I get highly agitated. Not because I want surgery from which it could take up to a year to fully recover, but because I want someone to flippin' take me seriously. I need to feel as though the physician is my ally in diagnosis and recovery. I'm doing my part, with physical therapy and research. Work with me, is all I ask.

That's why I made short work of this hat. My frustration needed an outlet and I've given up all but one of my deleterious habits. What am I left with? Sticks and string, baby. Sticks and string.

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Finally, I'm Well-coiffed

A little Lipstick Lava and a pair of size 7's made for quick work of this version of Knitty's Shocking Pink Coif featuring Brainy Lady's button adaptation. I decided to add a touch as well, with a left twist repeated along the five middle stitches.

There was, indeed consensus on the button, with the marled purple the winner by a country mile. Special shout-out to one of the Rainey Sisters for the inspired suggestion to top the button with beads. I choose purple iridescent ones and sewed them on with pinkish-red thread, which you can see through the closure.

I did make a sizing mistake on this. A mistake which presented a learning opportunity: my first scissored knitting surgery! Although I measured from ear to ear to determine the length of the chin strap, I failed to take into account that the wool would s-t-r-e-t-c-h. I ended up with 2 inches too much.

Since I'd started the piece by knitting the strap, it was frog or cut knit. I chose the latter, but not before inserting a dpn above the cut point to hold the soon-to-be live stitches. A decisive snip, a bit of picking and knitting a new buttonhole, and the coif was in business.

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Saturday, February 03, 2007

If At First You Don't Succeed, Punt!

Modified Player capMy brother came by yesterday. It was the perfect opportunity for a test run of his Chicago Bears hat.

At first, I was hopeful that it would fit. He stretched it over his not insignificant head (he's 6'3"), but it fell short of his ears - more like a Muslim kufi than a full "cover-yer-head-it's-freakin'-cold" knit cap. I was momentarily crestfallen but undaunted, for I had a plan. I reached up to the bottom of the hat with my thumb and forefinger to get an idea of the amount of ribbing I'd need to reach mid-earlobe. I asked him to give me a day and I'd make it right.

The white arrow in the picture indicates where the original hat ended. I needed an extra 1.5 or so inches on that puppy, so I picked up all the edge stitches and did a K1, P1 rib. Initially, I knit the extension ribbing completely in navy, then pulled it out part way because it just read blah to me. Introducing the orange as the purl stitch made it more of a proper banding with just the right pop of contrast to make it feel complete. I bound off loosely with the navy yarn, gave it a quick bath, then blocked it overnight, sure that K (yes, my brother and I have names that begin with the same letter) would like it.

Please understand that my brother is a rather taciturn fellow, not given to anything effusive. I had a tough time gauging his reaction to my effort. All he would say was, "I like it OK. It's fine."

Thanks, K. You shouldn't have.


Thursday, February 01, 2007

Smells Like Team Spirit

January, 1986. It had been years since Mom had a television in the house. She was a reading specialist who did not believe in the curative, babysitting power of The Box. We were forced into growing our brains the old-fashioned way: reading, listening to music, making things. But this year, something was different. You see, the Chicago Bears were in the Superbowl (or Superb owl as my spell checker would have it). She bought and she watched and I learned that my mother loves her some football!

This (along with some serious celebrating on Division Street) is my memory of that day.

February, 2007. She still has that same television and it will be tuned to Miami and the Bears triumphant return to the big game. The love of this hardscrabble Midwestern team is something she and my older brother have in common. Whenever he takes me to physical therapy, I make note of the team caps he has lined up along that little shelf in the back seat of his car. Brother has become a super-fan too.

Inspired by The Player, I created my own version for my brother since it appears he is not too keen on other hats I've made in the past. I call this "When Lorna Met Debbie," since the only pure orange I had left in stash was Lorna's Laces Shepard Sock in the "carrot" colorway. The navy wool is Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, left over from these hat and mitts.

  • I used two size 5 US circulars with the fingering weight Shepard Sock the only yarn held double.
  • Since I used smaller needles and essentially thinner yarn, I cast on 104 stitches instead of the 76 stitches called for in Bonne Marie's pattern.
  • I used much the same navy-orange striping sequence, but omitted one round of the orange.
  • To give the orange rounds a bit of added visual interest, I created a right-leaning vertical ridge where the purl stitch would have fallen in the K3, P1 sequence. Here's how I did it:

  • Player stitch detail K1, then knit next two stitches in the front and back of the loop, making 6 stitches where there were 4. Place the last stitch you made back onto the left needle and K2tog as normal. Lift the stitch that precedes the K2tog over the decrease you just made. You should have 4 stitches in the sequence once again.

    Sounds fiddly, but it goes really quickly (if you're not dealing with skinny, doubled yarn like I was).
  • Since I increased the number of cast on stitches, I had to accommodate that in the top decreases while still maintaining the 4-point star patterning on top. I ended up doing 24 stitches between K2tog decreases instead of the 15 stitch intervals in the pattern. Here's a view of the top detail:
Player top detailAll in all, a success I think. Hope my brother feels the same way.

It may be warm in Miami but baby, it's cold outside in Chicago. Since it's gotten so very chilly in these parts of late, I think I'll leave you with a shot of the kitty boys cuddled up in my office chair. Stay warm, y'all!

Nik and Rock sleepingNikita and Rocky

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Miss Karen's Boys

Chads hat and mittsI've fallen into a pattern in the past 5 years. You see, I've had 3 or 4 interns on my team and they've all been guys. Not on purpose, mind you. It just sort of turned out that way. I've taken to calling them "my boys." The gender bit isn't the pattern of which I speak, however. It is the habit I've developed of making hats for them.

The latest items off the needles are for Chad, who asked for blue and green. I came up with a tiny bit of colorwork by cobbling together the diamond chart from one pattern with a star-shaped crown from another.

Specs: 1.5 balls of Debbie Bliss' Cashmerino Aran (dusty blue) and .5 ball of Merino DK (bright green)

Better get this boxed up and sent off. Looks like the temperature will be dropping back to what passes for normal in the Midwest. I think he'll be able to use the hat and mitts right away.

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