30 July 2013

Technique: Cables

Awhile ago, I was talking about knitting techniques I love or would like to learn. Today's is cable stitch patterns.

So, this is the most cabled project I've done:
It's a pattern for a cowl, but I made it extra long and turned it into a crossbody vest thingy. I'm super happy with how it turned out, though I'd like to reblock it wider to show the details on the cables.

I've done some other cable projects, but I don't find myself particularly drawn to them. Indeed, there's something kind of annoying about having to remember which row is a cable row, which direction to cable, etc. Small projects can be quite fun, though:

And I do enjoy them as a design element. My most recent sweater has a few cables, and they were fairly easy to manage:

There are always row counters to help, and quite a few people like cabling without cable needles. I've never been able to cable without a cable needle and have it come out properly. Like the linked video says, my knitting is too tight to make it work with anything more than a stitch or maybe two. Instead, I use a darning needle, which I stick into my yarn cake and use as a cable needle. I have some actual bent needles for cabling, but I find that the darning needle is twice as useful, and much smaller.

I'd like to do more things in the spirit of my Pinctada, but a girl can only have so many cowls in Texas...
- YX

26 July 2013

Do you swap?

In the world of knitting (for those not initiated), there's this thing we call swapping. A swap is (usually) a one time event, spanning over several weeks, in which participants swap things. It can be single skeins of yarn, a basket of supplies and fiber, even tea towels that have nothing to do with knitting.

Knitters love a swap.

Most of the time, people are randomly assigned another swapper. They sometimes post a wishlist, a series of general preference guidelines (colors, fibers, disliked), or sometimes, you just stalk the person online and try to determine things they want. I've done a swap before. Just one. It was a little one, with things that could only fit in envelopes. I sent stickers and confetti, a poorly-printed pattern (before I knew how to gift patterns- ugh, that was embarrassing). If you're out there, person who got my swap stuff, I'm sorry I sucked at it. So sorry.

Swaps seem to be a drama sieve- people will collect from their secret swap Santa, but then send nothing out to their swappee. This is obviously rude and awful, and you shouldn't do it. There's also quite a bit of drama about quality. Like any gift giving occasion, there may be a cash limit, but some people break the rules and make others uncomfortable. It stinks to get a cheapo swap from someone, where they've obviously given you some of their castoffs or spent way below the cash expectation, but to me it's even worse when I get a gift of something that was so far above and beyond the initial swap that I'm now feeling like I did a bad job at my own gifting.

During that swap- the one with the things that could only fit in an envelope- a few people sent each other GIFT BASKETS FULL OF YARN. Sweaters' worths of yarn. I'd like to know exactly what envelope was capable of holding all of that stuff, because I'd like to invest in some for my own shipping needs. Magic Mary Poppins-purse envelopes.

I got out of the swap with a nice collection of little things, but feeling sheepish about my poor first-swap-performance. I'd have done better to post-stalk the swap group, or found similar swaps in the past to pattern mine after. Or, I could've waited until some of the initial swaps started coming in, so I could see what kind of things people sent. Either way, it turned me off of swaps, and I haven't done one since.

But how about you? I love a good swap horror story. Tell me them, please. Let's all relive our nightmares together!
- YX

22 July 2013

I believe in the Fingering-weight sweater

Someone on one of my Facebook knitting groups was asking about fingering-weight sweaters. Were they feasible projects? Worth the time? Was she insane for considering one?

I've knitted quite a few things with fingering weight yarn:

Two of those are knit from Wollmeise laceweight yarn, which is actually much closer to fingering than laceweight, for what it's worth. These sweaters are light, soft, and airy while still being incredibly warm. I find them to be the idea spring/fall pieces, and excellent summer AC busters. Of course, a little layering and they're perfect for Houston winter, too.

I have so many more I'd love to complete, too. Veera Valimaki's Urban is a favorite of mine:

Then there's Anna Kuduja's Purple Leaves, which has a pretty front, but I'm all in for the back:

And there's this very pretty Veranda Dress from Kerin Dimeler-Laurence for Knitpicks, which would be modded immediately to become a sweater... And to lose those sleeves... Too poofy for my liking, anyway. I'd knit a regular fitted sleeve:

Fingering-weight stuff isn't shabby, and doesn't have to take forever to knit, either. Show me your projects and patterns!
- YX

11 July 2013

FO: Meridien

Well, it's finally done:

I'm super happy with how it turned out, too! The fabric is great. Could use a second blocking, though, so get the fronts to drape properly...

Of course, the typical back shot was necessary:

It really shouldn't have taken so long to finish, but it was worth the wait. Super cozy and ready for the fall. Too bad it's over 100 degrees here in Texas. 
I went off pattern a little bit and did a long ribbed cuff instead of the seed stitch border. I like my sleeves to fit my arms snugly, and I often push up my sleeves to 3/4 length, so the ribbing helps keep them from getting floppy and sad. 

But it's done! Woohoo!
- YX

09 July 2013

June Giveaway winner

Holy cow, it's July 9th and I need to draw a winner for the giveaway for June!

The winner is...
Congrats, SSailorss! I'll be contacting you for delivery info.

In other news... Just wait until you see what I've finished for you tomorrow...
- YX

02 July 2013

What happened to June?!

Some things have happened.

First off, I disappeared from the blog for 14 days- TWO WEEKS. How did that happen?! This is the first time I've been gone for so long. After our bundle of houseguests left, I decided I should head home to Ohio to see my family. Particularly my uncle, who wasn't doing so well. At first, I was leaving with computer and puppy (Roxy) in tow, all the way up to Columbus for a fun visit.

I saw my uncle on Tuesday. By Saturday, he had passed away. Roxy and I have been pretty downhearted.

Luckily for me, my husband hopped in the car on Sunday and drove 17 straight hours to get here and give us lots of hugs. We'll be here for a little while longer and then drive back down to Texas town.

While I was with my uncle on Tuesday, he slept on and off during our visit. I knitted more on Meridien, which is still in progress. Having started the sweater the day after Valentine's day, I feel like it has taken foreverlong to finish.

At the same time, I feel like this sweater has lots of special meaning to me. The yarn was purchased at Purl Soho in New York, while my husband, dad, and I were in town for a Rolling Stones concert.

The sweater followed me through the tough choice of walking away from my very nice job, on another adventure into a new part of life. A decision like that, for a person like me, was not easy. I really struggled with being "jobless," trying to connect the dots between who I am, what I do, and how much one of those things should control the other.

My sweater greeted 6 houseguests (and 4 guest dogs!) since it began.

It kept me company through the end of my semester of teaching-- it was with me when I found out the exciting news that I'd be teaching again next year, this time for both semesters. My dean called said it was (I think, surprisingly) "domestic" of me, which I choose to kind of take as a compliment. Knitting isn't something people would pin on me right away.

My sweater was with me in Italy, across the Tuscan countryside in a train, moving quickly enough to blur trees and small towns. It walked the streets of Rome and ate gelato in Florence. It was the main entertainment on 2 transatlantic flights.

My sweater celebrated my second wedding anniversary.

It celebrated the birth of a new baby- our friends' new son.

And it's here to say goodbye to my uncle, Steve.

Can you get this from other hobbies? I don't know of anything else that helps me get through hard times, but somehow it's soothing to just keep knitting. Stitch by stitch, moment by moment, until the storm passes and the sun's out again.

- YX