Thursday, December 29, 2005

Book Review - Stahman's Shawls and Scarves

Just before Christmas, the LYS called me up and left a message. "Stahman's Shawls and Scarves is in. We'll hold it for a week before sending it back." Indeed? Of course, the very next message was the same woman, very apologetically - "Oh, I see you put a deposit down. We'll hold this until you come pick it up." That's better. No sending my $30 book back! (Although I see Amazon has it for the bargain price of $50. Go with your LYS!)

In general, I'm happy with it. I'm not a shawl person, really, but I burn with desire to make one. Why? Dunno. The challenge, I suppose. And everyone says that this is THE book, and the stuff on the Faroese shawls seems interesting, even though I know I won't really understand it until I try.

But... I just don't think she's a very good writer. So it's kind of hard to get into. (Yes, I understand that it's mostly patterns. But the other stuff is important too, and that's what I'm talking about.) Anyway, when I do force myself to sit down and read it, I learn things. And if you want to knit this type of shawl, I think it's definitely worth the price.

The seaman's scarf parts - look, I've designed one before. They're not complicated. They're more... the exact opposite of complicated. But somehow, her description makes them sound a lot more bewildering than they really are. Which is a problem with a lot of "how-to" books - it's a lot easier to show someone than to tell them, and not everyone has the knack of telling. You get so caught up in teaching every detail, you make it sound ten thousand times harder than it is, and you just confuse your student. I did learn two tricks about seaman's scarves, at least one of which I will definitely try. So she definitely has information I don't - I just wish she disseminated it more clearly.

As far as I can tell (not having knit any yet), the patterns are well done, though, and that's really what you're paying for, right? The charts seem clear and easy to understand. I haven't searched for errata yet - ok, that's not bad. The Robert Scarf apparently has an error, but I wasn't going to make that one anyway. Of course, the one I am going to make is freely available on the web, but if I'd just used the pattern I wouldn't have all that other useful information.

Bottom line: if you want to learn to make faroese shawls, buy this book. Otherwise, a more general shawl book might be indicated. (I'm really happy with Knitter's Magazine's Shawls and Scarves which has a Myrna Stahman article/pattern in it but also has a lengthy errata page that I cannot for the life of me find right now. Definitely find it before trying to knit anything from it.)

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Christmas Goodies

Apologies in advance for the massive post this is about to become. Hey, I even broke it up some!

My wonderful knit-swap buddy sent me two skeins of silky wool and two of Noro Kuryeon, which is something I've always been curious about but have never had the chance to try. And it's like she read my mind about favorite colors, which is very cool. She also sent me a handy booklet thingy that has estimate yardages for a variety of projects - I always just use the display ones they have at the LYS, but it'll be more polite to have my own.

My mom apparently just went down my wishlist and gave me EVERYTHING on it. The six-skein knitter's tote (which is ENORMOUS. And quite heavy. So it's more of a storage system than a tote, but if I ever fly anywhere by myself, I've got it covered.) and the Boye Needlemaster set and membership in TKGA and a subscription to Creative Knitting magazine (I'm glad she didn't get me IK, I'm still mad at them) and and and... whew. And she got my aunts and uncles together to get me the first level of the Master Hand Knitting program, which is nifty.

My husband's grandmother sent me the Denise Interchangables. And she passed away between Thanksgiving and Christmas. So it's been kind of an emotional time for us (putting it mildly). And now I have these needles, and knitting with them makes me think of her. She was an amazing person, and while I don't think she'd actually like me getting all gooey over it, they really are special to me. I don't have the way with words I'd need to really express it properly, sorry.

I may be able to do a better job with explaining the next thing. My cousin gave me a gift certificate, which I spent on yarn to make a baby blanket for an expectant friend. (Dear Friend: I'm sorry, the obsessive need to document trumps surprising you. Please stop reading now if you don't want to find out more!) But hey, didn't you want to get that spendy alpaca handpaint? Well, yeah, but I also want to make this blanket. Am I regifting my Christmas present? I don't think so. I still get the joy of picking out a pattern and knitting the thing and using a yarn I wouldn't normally use (fiber snobbery be damned, baby blankets need to be washable!) and giving the present. Which is way more pleasure than I would get just making something for myself. Besides, I have UFOs I need to finish for myself - if I knit for OTHER people, I can start new projects guilt-free.

Speaking of other projects - I ordered KnitPicks' alpaca cloud to knit the Matthew scarf. But it needs to be orange. So I got the "sunshine" (which is much paler than it looks on the website) and some burnt orange dye and I'll be going to town. I've never dyed anything before, so I'm a little nervous, but I have faith that it will work out. (Alison Hyde was very reassuring about the whole thing!) And I was pleasantly surprised - I placed both of these orders at lunchtime, and by this evening I had both shipping confirmations in my inbox. These folks work fast! It is kind of a bummer that I'm spending almost as much on shipping as I am on yarn/dye, but even with that, it's still not going to be a terribly expensive project.

And I don't want them to go too fast - I need to finish Yet Another Hat before I get into another WIP. And at some point I'll probably yammer on about the Stahman book, but today I've gone on long enough, no?

Recycled Silk Hat

FO time - The Three-Month Hat. (Total knitting time: what, like four hours? Sheesh.) It's yet another Tychus, of course. Like I've said before, the recycled silk just does not photograph well. The flash doesn't help, of course. But it's finished, and I like it, and I'm wearing it right now. Now - matching wristwarmers (original idea) or huge heavy scarf? It is a dilemma...

I'm not entirely sure why I'm posting this picture. Bizarre self-portrait contortions aside, you still can't really appreciate how neat this hat looks in person. It's also a lot bigger than it was last night. So I guess it'll be a good thing to have a record of when it's large enough for me and three of my closest friends.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Percy Protocol

It occurred to me that this should be in a separate post, so hey. Here it is!

Ok, so I am completely lame and can't figure out how to post a gift pattern to the Knitlist so here's the slightly-more-verbose version of Percy:

1 ball Bernat Disco (13sts/18 rows = 4") (shown in Aqua Velvet)
Small piece of fabric - I bought a 1/4 yard remnant of pink satin-ish nylon and had a ton left over. 1/8 yard is more than enough if you're buying off the bolt.
2 large googly eyes
scraps of felt
one purse handle - I had a random acrylic one, but you can get much nicer ones online.
miscellaneous: hot glue, sewing needle, thread, embroidery needle for finishing
Needles: US10.5 circular - I use a long one and magic loop, but whatever length you need for a 10" diameter piece.

Percy is 6" wide by 5" tall.

1. CO 40 sts, join (being careful not to twist)
2. knit in round until tube is 5" tall
3. BO 20 sts.
4. Knit remaining sts back and forth in stockinette for 5"
5. BO remaining sts.
6. Sew up bottom opening and turn inside-out (purl side is RS).
7. Attach eyes - cut small circles of felt, sew in appropriate place on flap. Hot glue eyes to felt.
8. Attach handle according to type of handle purchased. Because the one I had was not meant for this type of purse, I cut a very thin dowel to the width of the purse and sewed the handle to it through the fabric (dowel inside purse, handle outside). This gave it enough structure to support the bag, and the lining covers the dowel.
9. Line. I accomplished this by handing it to my mother, but if she's not around, cut the fabric to the outer dimensions of the purse and hem all around until it fits inside. Fold into thirds, and sew the bottom third to the middle third, making it the same shape as the bag. Then hand-sew to the inside of the purse.

Shawl Sharing, Tiny Tychus

Two pics of me modelling the finished shawl. Still haven't given it to the intended recipient yet, but oh well. I think it turned out fairly well - again, I'd do more repeats for less length if I were to do it again, but I still like it. And of course I can point to every, um, design feature in it.

Also, a quickie FO - on Friday, I decided to give my husband a hat for Christmas. I had made him a Tychus, which he claimed to like but also complained that it was too warm. So I had a leftover ball of black Baby Ull (and we all know my feelings about that, but I really like the guy) so I made another one using it. Cast on 60 sts. and short-rowed down to 32, which is a LOT of knit stitches. And I finished on Saturday. So now my shoulder kinda hurts AND he has a hat that looks like he got it for $1.50 down at the gas station! But it is 100% wool, so there's that.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

FO! YAY! (Diamond Shawl)

Yes, I am a Super Genius indeed. Of course I chose a pink background to photograph a peach-colored shawl on. Well, I didn't so much choose it as just not want to disturb it after laying it out to block and then thinking I needed a photo.

Anyway. It's done! Hooray! Now all it needs to do is dry. The person it's for does so much for everyone; I hope she'll take it as something nice for herself. Unless she doesn't like it. Or is allergic to alpaca. My goodness, I hope not. ANYway. As long as it doesn't end up as a carwash rag, I'm happy.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Interweave Knits = TEH SUCK

All right. I just have to bind off and (two weeks after I wanted it done, a week after I thought it would actually be done) I'm finished the shawl. So I figured I could take 10 and finally update this silly thing.

And the very first thing I have to do is express how much I dislike Interweave Knits. I bought their stupid magazine, after waiting months, just because I wanted ONE PATTERN. One pattern that, even at the beginning of the month when I checked publication dates, they were still claiming they were going to print in their worthless rag. So I went to the bookstore - husband and baby waited in the car, I grabbed the mag and left. (Um, yes, I did stop and pay for it first. Sheesh.)

Did they publish the pattern? No, of course not. They put ONE SENTENCE about how you could see the winners of the Scarf Style contest on their website. No mention of how they'd been promising to publish them for a year.

So I figured, well, it's not a complete waste of $7, right? I'll look at the rest of the magazine. Ew, that's really ugly. That's awful. Why would anyone knit THAT? Oh, that's ok, but it'd look awful on me. Ugly, ugly, nasty, ugly, insane... hey, those socks are nice! Oh, they're only listed in one size? Well, they're not nice enough for me to get out the calculator, really. Ugly, ugly, icky, bleah. Advertisements. The end.

So I spent money I don't have on a magazine I don't want, and it makes me angry. I sent them a letter expressing my disappointment, but of course they haven't responded. Why should they? The suckering is complete, my cash is theirs, they don't need to have anything else to do with me.

And now I have to find yet more cash to buy the pattern I wanted. Whenever it becomes available. If it ever does. Anyway. If you'd like to see a really cool scarf that I will never actually be able to make, you can check it out in the designer's blog - (The Chinese Luck Dragon scarf.)

Monday, December 12, 2005

Five Ninths!

The shawl is 5/9 done. A little bit more than that. If I were to knit it again (which I won't, not because I don't like it but because 80% of the fun of knitting for me is figuring out a new pattern and I've had this one memorized for awhile now) I'd make it a repeat wider across and then less long. Because it is coming out much more like a double-wide scarf than a shawl. I know, I know, blocking. But I don't usually knit big things, how can I not be nervous?

I can't wait to finish. There is a lot of upheaval in my life right now; knitting this thing is keeping me focused. But at the same time - one of the things I'm focused on is how much I want to give it to the recipient. I hope she likes it. I'm trying so hard to knit it detachedly - ego-free, I guess. It's hard. Really hard. But I guess it's an interesting mental puzzle. I've made measurable progress, though, which is pretty neat. I still can't get over hoping she doesn't give it away, though. More work necessary.

I haven't worked on anything else. In fact, for two days I couldn't knit at all - I had to tink everything I attempted. But I think today I'll be able to get some good time in. I hope to have it finished by the weekend and then maybe, just maybe, I will have time to do everyone else's presents.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Notes to Self:

Two notes to self:

1) Bernat Disco is 13sts/18 rows = 4" on US10.5 needles. Percy is 6" wide by 5" tall. So, basically, the pattern is CO 40, join, knit in round for 5". BO 20 sts. Knit remaining sts back and forth in stockinette for 5", BO. Turn inside-out - purl is RS. Sew up bottom. Attach eyes - cut small circles of felt, sew in appropriate place. Hot glue eyes to felt. Attach handle. Line. I'll write that out better later, but I wanted to note it down while I could still remember.

2) Create pattern for Mommy Mittens. Yeah, in my ample spare time.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Actual post to follow - just wanted to get the pictures up while I was thinking about it.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Stitch Markers

Well, I'm bummed. I actually have a chance to knit, and I left the next ball of yarn at home. So. No more knitting. But I am one third of the way done, so that's cool. (Of course, I want to start another project - and I was really counting on using this afternoon to catch up on this one. Bah.)

So this pattern has a repeat of 12 stitches, and I'm using stitch markers after each repeat, because I can just about manage to count to 12, but 72? No, probably not. But there are three rows where the repeat is shifted, and there's a sl-k2tog-psso at the end so I can't just mentally shift the repeat over a bit. So whenever I'm moving the counter back and forth (because otherwise it would get buried in the k2tog) I get annoyed, and I think, why am I using stitch counters? It's wasting so much time! But then I remember, oh yeah, doing this little manouver three out of twenty rows takes way, way less time than ripping back every time I mess up.

So it's worth it. (But, see, I'm not making any drastic mistakes, because I'm using the markers, so I think, well, I don't make drastic mistakes, what do I need these silly markers for?) So I need to keep reminding myself.

Self? You need markers. Continue to use them. Thanks.