Monday, November 30, 2009

New Business

New business started today: Knitting 911.

I'm available for helping with knitting projects, deciphering instructions, finishing projects, and custom knitting.

The name comes from my friend, Joan, calling me with knitting questions and asking, "Is this Knitting 911?" when I answer the phone.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Let's Make a Sweater: Part III

I finished knitting last night, and bound off. And I am very pleased with the fit.

Today, I went shopping for buttons. First, I went to the Pennsylvania Fabric Outlet on 4th Street; I refer to this store as "the wall of buttons" because that's what the south wall of the store is: floor to ceiling boxes of buttons. Hundreds of boxes filled with metal buttons, wood buttons, plastic, dressy, classic, funky buttons; big buttons, small, round, square, toggle, novelty buttons. Every color, solid, clear, opaque.

After half an hour of looking, I was completely overwhelmed and ready to have a meltdown. Seriously. I was beginning to feel like Robin Williams in "Moscow on the Hudson" when he's in the supermarket to buy coffee and he passes out because there are too many choices: Coffe, coffee, coffee, boom! he's on the floor.

I knew that I didn't want a solid button in any of the colors in the yarn----too matchy. I also knew that I didn't want anything glittery, shiney, or too fancy as the yarn is very homespun looking.

So when I couldn't think any more at all, I went up the street to Zoll's. They are very good at looking at whatever garment I bring in (usually for about a count of 10), and then they reach for a box and say, "How about this?" and nine times out of ten, it's perfect. This was a little more difficult, but after a couple of minutes, the absolute perfect button was found.

Tomorrow I'll get photos of the sweater taken and posted; today it was gray and the light was impossible for photography. And I want to show this off.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Let's Make A Sweater: Part II

Day Two: I've made it to the end of the sleeves/armhole.

A k2, p2 ribbing forms the neck, with a buttonhole worked on the 4th row. I changed to St st keeping the first and last 6 sts in garter stitch for the borders. My set-up row went like this: k7 for the left front, PM in next stitch, k12 for the left sleeve, PM in next stitch, k28 for the back, PM in next stitch, k12 for the right sleeve, PM in next stitch, k19 for the right front (remember I want an asymmetrical closure).

I worked yo increases until I had 22 stitches on the left front, making sure I worked a buttonhole in every 6th garter ridge. I worked four rows of k1, p1 ribbing on size 8 needles (this is where interchangeables come in so handy: I was able to keep the body on the size 9 needles and work the ribbing on the smaller size; perfect!). Then I bound off the sleeve stitches.

I cast on 4 stitches under each arm and am plan on going down to the size 8 needles in a couple of inches, just to bring the body in a little without having to think hard about shaping.

It's looking pretty good.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Let's Make A Sweater

I'm not very good at sketching out designs before I start them. I have the idea, the image in my knitting brain, and I play around directly with the yarn. This leads to a lot of starting and ripping back, and starting and ripping back.

Sometimes I get it on the second or third try.

I'm on try number four now for this sweater.

I want a top-down, short sleeved sweater that buttons asymmetrically. I'm working with a worsted-weight wool and size 8 needles for the ribbing and size 9 needles for the body. I'm getting a loose 4 sts/1" on the size 9 and like the fabric. So that's good.

Try number one involved casting on 86 stitches as this number worked for me before with a similar gauged sweater. But I second-guessed myself, and somehow figured that I needed to cast on more stitches to accommodate the right front being wider than the left from.

So try number two involved casting on 114 stitches (WTF?). Waaay too many stitches.

Try number three had me going down to 94 stitches, and while it was okay, it really would be a better fit if it were a little smaller.

Try number four is 82 stitches.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Why I Love....

...knitting from the top down.

The latest reason is that it was so easy to modify this sweater that I made back in June:

I was happy with the original, but a couple of weeks ago, when I wore it, I realized that a couple of things bothered me: the length of the sleeves and the buttons.

Because it was worked from the top down, it was simple to unravel the sleeves back to the start of the ribbing, make the sleeves longer and a little more tapered, and then finish up with ribbing. I could keep trying on the sweater until the sleeves were exactly the right length.

Then I realized that I wanted a collar, picked up the stitches around the edge of the neck, and got that just right.

The hardest part was the buttons: while I liked the original buttons, I felt they were a little too dressy/sparkly for the tweed. After going through my button stash several times, I finally came up with the right buttons.

Now I really love my sweater.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Travel Projects

As we head into the holiday season and travel looms for many of us, what travel projects do you take with you?

My go-to travel project is baby socks. Let me know what yours is.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Giant Stocking

The pattern for the Giant Stocking is available through Ravelry for free, so you can download it now.

Have fun!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Stitches Recap

Stitches was all that I wanted it to be this year.

The Connecticut Convention Center is new, interesting, plenty of very nice, well-maintained bathrooms, and the Mariott Hotel (which is connected to the Center) is also nice and new. We had a corner room on the 17th floor with great views that looked east and south. The hotel was very welcoming: our room keys had the Stitches logo on the backs, and the light-up sign board outside the center had the Stitches info rotating on it. The overall feeling was that the convention center and the hotel were glad to see us, which is not always the sense at other hotels.

I took a 6-hour design class with Barry Klein from Trendsetter Yarns. He is delightful: very knowledgeable, and he's able to impart that knowledge with humor and great patience with those students who either don't get it or ask kind of dumb questions. The first half of the class was spent using yarns together to see how they work. He encouraged us to pick yarns we wouldn't normally choose; initally I found it very hard to choose the yarns, then I jumped in, grabbed a safety yarn and two that I wouldn't use in a million years. My swatches turned out beautifully.

The second part of the class was no knitting (fine for me because I did something to my wrist),rather it was looking at pictures of clothing while Barry talked about what detail(s) drew him in. Usually, when I look at a photo in a catalog, I look at the whole sweater and think about how I can replicate it. Barry had us thinking about detail: in fact, take those photos that you like, cut them up, and then pick different pieces of them: cuff, collar, drape, etc. It really opened my mind up.

My last class was with Edie Eckman and again was no knitting: Where do they get those numbers? Interesting class in how to figure how much yarn you need, etc., etc.

The Marketplace seemed a little more subdued this year: I don't know if it was because the space was bigger so the show seemed huddled in it or whether there were fewer vendors. There were a lot of new, more local vendors, and some of the regulars (like Brooks Farm) weren't there because of a conflict in scheduling.

I got some yarn at WEBS (and was able to share my gift cards with Colleen), a few skeins at the half-price place, and my big splurge was from Coloratura Yarns: a huge skein of worsted weight merino and silk in a blue/lavender/white colorway. What drew me in to their booth was the sample sweater in that yarn: a cable-fronted long (almost tunic length) sweater with a ribbed collar. It was gorgeous. I went back later to check the pattern sizing; the measurements for the smallest size sounded too big, but Bjorn said "Try it on". I did, and it was amazing. I looked and felt 20 years younger. The guys who own Coloratura said I should have worn it in the Fashion Show the night before. And that did it: the cash came out of my wallet as soon as I took off the sample.

And I won a book at the Fashion Show: Jane Slicer-Smith's new book which has wonderful designs in it.

Now to Hartford: the downtown is not at all residential the way Philadelphia is, so after the rush hour, it's pretty dead. Colleen and I had located a restaurant a few blocks away and weren't afraid to walk (like many non-urban attendees). We found the streets to be empty of people, but well-lit and there was a lot of car traffic. The most difficult/annoying part of the walk was how long we had to wait at traffic lights for the pedestrian crossing lights. Not a walker-friendly city. We had dinner the first night at City Steam, excellent burgers, relaxing atmosphere.

On Friday afternoon, after our classes, we walked over to the Wadsworth Atheneum to see the Allure of Lace exhibit, a small (two room) exhibit that was packed with visual and mental stimulation. There was no knitted lace, but it was inspiring and interesting nonetheless. We were curious as to why Stitches didn't do any cross-promotion on this, and I found out later that if we had presented our Stitches badges we would have gotten half-price off. Oh well.

Friday evening was the Fashion Show and Dinner, and as they have for several years, the two events are divided rather than rolled in to one. Obama was in the area so the traffic was bad and the models were delayed, so the show was late getting started which meant that dinner was late getting going. The food was much better than at Baltimore, but it was just served too late.

Saturday night we went back to City Steam and then had our private, in-room show and tell where we each take turns laying out our purchases and describing them. Much, much fun.

Sunday was a leisurely breakfast, check out, load the car, and then a last swing around the Marketplace; we stayed for the Grand Prize drawing which neither of us won, and then headed home.

I'm already looking forward to next year.