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January 29, 2010

Ripple the second

Jayne's Soft Waves Ripple in Progress

When I finished the first Ripple blanket in July, my sister mentioned that she wanted one in pink and brown, so I made plans to start one for her in the Fall. I fully expected to finish in time to give it to her for Christmas, but the shop ran out of one of the colors I was using. When the yarn arrived, I finished the afghan -- another "lap" size of about 38" x 52". It's the same yarn as the previous Ripple - Cascade 220 Superwash - and I actually washed this one in the washing machine and dried it on the lowest setting in my dryer and it fared very well, becoming noticeably softer. I love this yarn, but as much as I enjoyed it, I think I'm definitely rippled out for a while.

Pink and Brown Soft Waves Ripple

It's in her hands now and she loves it!

There have been other projects on the needles (rather than just the hook) and I'll be happy to share them the first chance I get.

January 21, 2010

You may be right . . .

Dream in Color Knitosophy Butterfly
You may be right
I may be crazy
But it just might be a lunatic you're looking for
Turn out the light
Don't try to save me
You may be wrong for all I know
But you may be right

(Lyrics, Billy Joel, You May be Right)

It was about four years ago that I finished my first pair of handknit socks and last night I had a dream about knitting socks -- particularly about starting a new sock when I already had single socks waiting for their mates to be knit (that's actually true, by the way). However, in my dream, I was experiencing the absolute joy and freedom of starting a brand new sock, shamelessly and totally guilt free. I woke up thinking how crazy that probably is to most people -- not to mention that non-knitters don't get the whole handknit sock thing in the first place. (Those who wrinkle their noses at my handknit socks simply don't get them as gifts. Their loss). There are no knitting police, but there are often haughty knitters who remind you that you already have single socks that need their mates. And yes, I already know about the concept of two-at-a-time socks. I have some on the needles now!

All I know is that when I saw my first handknit socks, I had to learn how to knit them. It took me a solid year -- perhaps almost two years -- to grasp the concept and actually learn how to knit them. Undeniably, it was one of the most difficult things for me to learn how to do, but I figured it out and count it among my proudest achievements. Sadly, somewhere along the way, I began experiencing the guilt (again, from other knitters . . . not from the loved ones who would eventually GET my handknit socks) about the unfinished pairs. I started feeling guilty about casting on and some of the pride of finishing a single beautiful sock was diminished by the finger-pointers. You see, I can finish a single sock -- the first sock -- rather quickly. I enjoy the entire process, start-to-finish (yes, even the grafting -- now one of my favorite parts, as a I always knit cuff-to-toe). But when one sock is finished, I desperately want to start another in an entirely different sock yarn. Yet I don't. Because of the guilt. Holy cow. How insane is that?

I'm starting another sock.

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January 18, 2010

My favorite accomplishments of 2009

My 2009 Favorites

1. Knitting a sock monkey
2. Achieving some personal goals
3. Learning how to crochet*

Since getting some new books, I'm tempted to experiment with crocheting some garments first:

Crochet Adorned by Linda Perman
Crochet Adorned, by Linda Perman


Everyday Crochet, by Doris Chan

From the introduction in Doris Chan's book:

If you would love to wear your own creations, but struggle with the crocheting because you have fitting or sizing issues, then dive in here. From sleek camisoles to pullovers, cardigans, and coats, the designs in this book contain the elements and guidance to help you make well-fitting, attractive crocheted clothes that you will be proud to wear.

Hers is an interesting approach - crocheting top down with shell stitches. The shells expand down and out rather than up and out, which allows for some natural shaping. And, similar to knitting, top-down construction allows you to try on the garment in progress so you can revise as you go. I'm anxious to try it out but a little bit uncertain about choosing yarn for these projects. I'm not as confident in deviating from the yarns recommended by crochet designers.

Meanwhile, I have plans to knit a sweater for Paul this year as well. I decided on a pattern from Ann Budd's The Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns. He prefers a looser fit, so I'm going to knit him a Drop Shoulder-style sweater with turned up, hemmed sleeves. Swatching has already begun:

Cascade 220 Swatch Color 1913

This should be an interesting year.

* this is the Ripple blanket that started it all and made me REALLY want to learn how to crochet.

January 12, 2010

Knit a Vest

Noro Retro Ribbed Vest Green
[Ravelry] [Flickr]
Yarn: Noro Retro
Pattern: V-Neck Shell in Knitting Noro: The Magic of Knitting with Hand-dyed Yarns, by Jane Ellison

I've been wanting to knit a vest forever -- specifically, a ribbed, v-neck vest. I cleaned out my favorites on Ravelry last night and noticed SO MANY vest patterns in my faves. (Of course, viewing my faves was a mistake . . . this entry would have been written last night had I not gotten sidetracked viewing my faves and your faves too!)

But back to vests. I love them, but hadn't knit one yet. This was my first. I love that a vest keeps me warm but not too warm. And when I saw this deep green Noro Retro, I immediately envisioned using it for a ribbed vest. The Jane Ellison pattern book was the inspiration, but while I love it, it's not suited for knitters who like a lot of clear and accurate instructions. For that, I recommend The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns: Basic Designs in Multiple Sizes and Gauges, by Ann Budd.

I'm planning to knit another vest soon -- but with a heathered worsted weight yarn and the basic v-neck vest pattern in this booklet. I'm looking at a lot of patterns I might have avoided had I not discovered that I really enjoy seaming -- specifically, mattress stitch. It's really kind of magical and I enjoy the process.

When I was a teenager, I remember falling in love with a colorful striped sweater I found in an upscale shop, but my mom pointed out that the stripes didn't match up front to back and that it was a sign of poor workmanship. If she saw this vest, it would probably drive her crazy. There's a subtle striping effect from where the fibers change and the stripes in front don't match the ones in the back. Although I could have knit this in the round, I actually wanted wider stripes instead of the narrower ones that would have resulted from circular knitting. Now that I know what I'm doing, I have another vest to finish -- the Gesta Vest that I started quite a while ago, but avoided finishing completely because it called for a single crochet edging around the neckline. I can totally do that now - easy peasy.

January 01, 2010

Welcome 2010


Last year's wishes were fulfilled and that's what I chose to recall as 2009 slipped away with very little fanfare.

My personal wishes for 2010


Knitting and crocheting have a place in my plans and wishes, but I'm making room for more and expanding my horizons. As this year brings me even closer to my fifth sixth decade . . . it is time.

Thank you all for reading and sharing your stories here and in your own blogs. I am still reading! While I don't get around to your blogs or photostreams as often as I'd like, please know that when I do, it's with attentiveness and warmth.