Thursday, May 22, 2008

Darcy Deluxed

Ok, so I knit 2 sweaters in one month, so what? It's kind of a stressful time - it's either eat or knit - and while I've kind of been doing a combination of both - I've definitely favored the knitting.

So, this is Mrs. Darcy from Rambings of an Obsessive Knitter. The pattern is written for a size 34, which I am not, and even with a plunging neckline, my girls need more room. So, I did the follow to make it work:

1. I added an extra four inches, casting on an additional 8 stitches in the back, and four stitches to each side.

2. I knit in one piece to the armhole, adding fake seams with a purl stitch between each front and the back.

3. At the armhole, I put nine stitches on a holder, four from the back, four from each front, with the purl seam stitch in the center. I made the armhole roughly 2 inches longer - adding an additional 10 rows. As I did each section, I didn’t bind off, but rather put my stitches on a holder to do a three needle bind off.

4. Once the shoulders were joined via three needle bind off, I picked up around the armhole for the sleeve, plus the 9 stitches on a holder, for a total of 64 stitches + the purl seam stitch. I then knit 5 inches straight, and then started decreasing on each side of my purl seam every five rows until I hit 42 stitches + the purl seam stitch. Then, I knit a few inches straight, and did the ribbed cuff.
No sewing, sweet!

So, it took me so long to post a picture, even though it's been done for a few days, because the first set of pictures really looked horrendous. Mr. Tall and I went on the deck, to photograph Mrs. Darcy among my flower box garden. I thought she'd look great next to my killer petunia. Unfortunately, the white button down shirt I was wearing underneath was all crookedy, and my buxom looked GIGANTIC. After I saw the pictures, I asked Mr. Tall why he didn't tell me me shirt was askew, and he said, there was nothing wrong with the shirt, I was just popping out of the whole thing. Huh. But then I put the black t-shirt on this morning, and demonstrated that its suppposed to look like I'm popping out of the plunging neckline, but my shirt all fackokted was the problem with the original shoot. In any event, it's not the most flattering thing I've ever knit, but with the right shirt underneath, it's actually much better than it photographs.

Now, I'm kind of back to the Starmore. I took it to knitting circle on Wednesday, got my bearings, and figured out where I was in the pattern again. I counted stitches between markers . . . and counted again - and then had Magda count for me - and I missed the 2 front decreases on a repeat, because the front has 2 more stitches than the back. Sigh. I think I'm just going to fudge it though, and throw them in, rather than taking out several rows. I have to pick up the band around the armhole anyway, it'll all work out, easy peasy.

In nonknitting news, the big moving day is Wednesday - so we've been getting the house ready. Mr. Tall doesn't have much stuff, but I do - so it's been a lot of getting rid of things to make space. And then there's the Big Paint that's going on. I did the first coat of primer - and I did a SHITTY job - paint everywhere. When Joe came home, he just couldn't understand how I could be so good at one craft (knitting) and bad at another (painting). I explained, through my frustration tears at my own sloppy handiwork, that I don't want to be good at painting. In fact, I've officially retired from painting. However, I did spend the next several days scratchy, rubbing, and willing the paint off the hardwood floor with Goof Off. Oy, my nails!

While Tall hasn't quite moved in yet, his Wii has - yeah! I won't go so far as to say I've become a "gamer," but I did enjoy CSI/Hard Evidence, love tennis, and we just got Wii fit - fun fitness, gotta like it! And on Wednesday, the Wii will be joined by the PS3 and the Xbox - it's all so exciting!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Terra Terra Terra!

So, as I was feverishly knitting away on my Terra pullover at the store on Saturday, Sherry walked in, took one look at the sweater and said, "Wasn't that just yarn like a week ago." From just yarn to a completed sweater in exactly a week.
Loco, right? I don't know why I couldn't put this thing down. Well, it was super easy, round and round, big gauge (4/inch), only 2 colors per row in the yoke, with only 2 or 3 stitch floats.
And the yarn - like butter. I often say yarn is like butter, and I just mean it's soft. This yarn is not only soft - it's creamy! And it has a sheen to it that glistens like butter. Ok, it's not exactly the consistancy that you would want to spread on a bagel, but close.
And, with this crazy Philly weather, I thought, if I could just get it done this instant I might be able to get a wearing in - and voila - it's only 50 some degrees today, and I'm wearing my lambswool, silk, merino sweater! Yeah!

Next up, Brooks Farm, and the Mrs. Darcy cardigan - already cast on - another perfect project for a Philly May, or not!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Ever wonder what 6:30 a.m. at Rosie's looks like? I never thought I'd know, but fearless Courtney had faith that if we opened the store at the crack of dawn, sold the Koigu millends at a discount, and provided coffee, there would be no brawls, hospitalization or tears.
And, she was right. It wasn't the pushing, shoving, hair yanking smackdown that the Koigu booth at MSW usually is, but a leisurely, loving fingering of the Koigu, the thoughtful mixing of colors, and an all around good time. I definitely need to have more faith in people, or at least in knitters.

And how did I do on my goals? From a knitter's prospective, very well, perfect. From a homeowner, whose boyfriend is moving in, with lot's of house projects underway, and who is supposed to be saving money, um . . . I went a tad over budget. Armed with my Ravelry queue, I pretty much went straight down my list - it was so easy, that I think I traveled too far down the list - I mean, wouldn't I have been satisfied with two sweater quantity purchases, instead of three? Or maybe I wouldn't.

The bus ride down was lovely - I was a little worried, being bus captain and all, but there was no fighting over the blueberry muffins, no squabbling over the raffles, no anxious knitters hassling the bus driver to go faster faster faster, everyone was perfect. And, it was so relaxing pulling into the lot, and not having the pressure of racing to the koigu mosh pit. I had my destination starred, and underlined - and off Kate and I went to Fiber Company in booth 2.

Fiber Company had set up a little forum on Ravelry, announcing what yarns she was bringing to MSW. I had asked her about the Terra, a merino/baby alpaca blend, with the most fabulous color palette. She didn't think she would have sweater quantity of any one color - but since I was planning on Fair Isling, I kept my fingers crossed. And, I wasn't disappointed - 9 Skeins of mint, and 4 other colors to do this 4/inch bohus inspired pullover: , Norah Gaughan's Lite Lopi Pullover from Interweave Knits. As you can see, I've already cast-on, so this will be my first post-MSW project - don't worry, I have every intention of working on the Starmore - it's sooooo close to being steekable. Because the bottom of the pullover is straight stockinette for 15 inches, this is now my carry around knitting, since Starmore has reached a stage of nonportability.
And, just look at these colors! I can't wait to get to the yoke and see what magic happens! Who needs a magic wand when you have addi turbos??
As you can see, the yarn is of the thick/thin variety - and it feels like butter! The texture really makes the subtle color changes pop, and really, there's no store bought sweater that will ever compare to the character of this yarn.

Then, right on schedule, and according to my grand plan, we walked across to building 4, directly across the walkway, to Green Mountain Spinnery, and I bought my yarn for Coraline: Alpaca Elegance in a heathery, charcoal grey.
And, a free tote bag to take the sting out of the bill.

And then I thought, huh, thanks to all of my meticulously planning, within 15 minutes, I had dropped $200, had 2 sweater's worth of yarn, and frankly, at that moment in time, I thought I was done. I could have been done, I was so happy. But, I wasn't . . .

In the Fiber Company building, I ran into authoress, Laura, and she had purchased 2 skeins of Shetland from Davidsons, in the Main Barn. Kate and I were off - and I bought 2 skeins, for the Bird in Hand mittens and a matching hat a la my Anemoi inspired combo: The Bird in Hand mittens were originally worked with Cascade 220, but the gauge is sport to fingering, depending on the size, so I think this yarn will work out fine, and I won't have to struggle with worsted weight on 1's.

The purchasing over, so I thought, it was time for lunch. There's something really sick and disturbing about eating lamb at a Sheep and Wool festival, a celebration of living and breathing livestock, but whatever, it's yummy, and, for my Rhinebeck partner, Kate and I, it's becoming somewhat of a tradition. Thanks for the Gyro's, our fine, woolly friends

And then it was off to Camp Bach, for some socializing, chips with cheese and fresh squeezed lemonade!

It's never too early to start 'em knitting!

I'm not sure to which pooch Knitty D is referring!

Welcome back Robin and Ronnen! Thank goodness there's no sheep whatsoever in the entire state of California, and we can look forward to seeing you every year at MSW!

And for those of you who have never camped at Camp Bach, Camp Bach is just a hop and a little skip from Brooks Farm. This year, Brooks Farm was not not not part of my plan. I already have 3 sweaters of Four Play, and I just thought, I'll branch out. I had intended to buy yarn for Mrs. Darcy at Shadyside Farm, in the Main Building. Shadyside, however, only brought spinning goods, no yarn, so Mrs. Darcy remained unyarned. So, how could I resist when I saw this new-to-me Brooks Farm Tierra - a 70% Lambswool, 30% alpaca blend?????

In the face of this yummy, rasberry colored yarn, I succumbed, and made my last yarn purchase of the day.

I say last yarn, because I wasn't quite done buying. To round out the day, I bought Sweaters from Camp, at the Mannings. You can still get this book on the Schoolhouse Press website, and on Amazon, but Schoolhouse Press warns that it's going out of print, so better get it now!

And, perhaps my favorite purchase of the day:
This is the closest "livestock" will get to 1639 - and isn't little sheepy welcoming!
So that's it - until next year!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Count Down!

How many hours until we get our sheep on????

I started out blase, eh, whatever, it's Sheep and Wool again, just another yarnie thing. Then, I started nosing around Ravelry . . . hmmmmm . . . and then Rosie's got pounds and pounds of Koigu millends (which staff was not allowed to break into, by the way - whoever shows up tomorrow at the crack of dawn will have first dibs - wouldn't it be really funny if there were a line outside the shop at 6 a.m.???? It'd be better than Madonna!), and then, like a thunderclap, bam, it hit - IT'S TIME FOR MARYLAND SHEEP AND WOOL!!!!!!!

So, all week, I've been carefully planning my shopping list. Inspired by Kate's Cold Hands, Warm Heart Sweater, I focused on sweaters that I felt would look good in old fashioned yarnie yarn. Kate's sweater is knit in Green Mountain Spinnery, which I always stared at longingly, but honestly thought it was on the expensive side. This year, no Koigu for me - I am spending my money on the Mountain, and completely copying Kate with their Alpaca Eleganceto make this , Coraline from Ysolda Teague. I wanted a simple sweater, with detailing that would show off the yarn, but not overwhelm it. And, while I love my Tangled Yoke, I wanted something a bit less commercial, something that's not yet in everyone's closet.

And, can I tell you how easy it was to narrow down my shopping goals with Ravelry's help. The ability to call up everyone's stab at a pattern, with accompanying commentary, criticism, and errata, as well as modifications and personal touches, was invaluable. So many patterns that looked attractive in magazines, were total failures in actuality - and, while kind of sad, were someone else's disappointment, not to be mine because they were generous enough to share their oopsies, mistakes, and bad ideas.

And did you know you can print your Ravelry queue? And, not only will you get the picture, you'll get the recommended yarn, the gauge and your own notes. Fantastic!

Of course, all of this careful planning, budgeting and strategizing could easily go out the window if I fall madly in love with something completely not on my radar . . . like last year's Hunt Valley Cashmere, which turned into this year's uncompletely scarf, and languishing in the stash.

But for now, I've printed out my fairground map, annotated it with what vendor is in what building, and what yarn they have, according to their website. I can guarantee (cough cough - obviously, there's no guarantee, knowing me . . . but I can try) I am not buying sock yarn, nor laceweight. Here are my good intentions - 1. Green Mountain for my Coraline 2. Shadyside Farm (see my Wicked) for either a. the Mrs. Darcy Cardigan. b. Forecast from Knitty, or c. the Elizbeth Bennet Cabled Cardigan from Fitted Knits (basically, Forecast without the baubles), possibly fingering weight/shetland for something from bohus Poems in Color, and finally, to satisfy that urge that used to be tamed with buying a skein of sock yarn, small quantities of yarn for mittens from Selbuvotter and Latvian mittens. I'll check back in over the weekend to see how close I came to my goals.

And of course, this morning, I got out the old Rosie's bag, and my saved change. What bag, what bag - a decision that needs to be made today, not at 5:30 a.m. tomorrow morning. The Rosie's bag - old school, nostaglic, has gone on the road to many a yarn festival. Tried and true, but wearing out. The new knitting bag - a more comfortable shoulder strap, larger - but harder to maneuver in crowds. The decision still hangs in the balance.

And the change, Mr. Tall and I visited Little Penny bright and early this morning. He scoffed at my little jar, and guessed only $29.37, and voila - $83.47 - the perfect amount - enough to purchase the yarn I need for Coraline!

In the meantime, knitting did go along with planning this week - here's my progress on the Starmore. The armhole steeks are in, and only three inches to go to start the neck shaping. Whoo -- approximately two more repeats of the chart to go!

And just in case you were wondering about the Manos Blanket of Madness - here it is, still growing - only 12 more blocks to go!
I have no idea why there's a white blip on one of the blue squares - all is well in real life.