Sunday, January 27, 2008

Landscape Shawl and Heidi Headbands

I finally finished the Landscape Shawl (I started it in June, then put it down until a few weeks ago. I actually misplaced it at one point which could account for the lack of progress). It was a good January project because it kept my lap warm and I have this weird urge to knit things that are white during this month (although I simultaneously want to knit things in very bright colors during these dark days). I'm happy I finished it in time to be able to wear it for the rest of winter.

Landscape Shawl (A FiberTrends pattern)
Yarn: The Irish Ewe Aran, 2 hanks Bainin (pronounced BAAA-neen, according to the website)
Source: The Irish Ewe, via the National Knit and Crochet Show in Manchester in June 2007
Needles: Crystal Palace Bamboo US Size 11 26" circular needles
Modifications: Just a bunch of mistakes that aren't really noticable, and I tried the Better Bind Off (click for the tutorial from the Purl Bee) for the top edge. Tip: I am so used to tugging on the yarn to bind off loosely that my edge is a little wobbly where I started the bind-off. Don't hesitate to pull it tight.

A close-up of the stitch patterns:
I can't rave about this yarn enough. It's beautiful in that homespun way and organic and it's from Ireland. The women at the Irish Ewe are so nice and helpful, and I'm thrilled that the yarn is available online because I want to buy a bunch and roll in it. Plus, you can't beat the price: $12-14 for 325-400 yards of delicious Irish woolly goodness.

And last but not least, I finally got back to the sewing machine last week and busted out some of Heidi's Headbands from Bend the Rules Sewing. I've gotten lots of compliments on them and they were very quick and easy. That Amy has some great ideas, and I love that there are drawings that detail the steps along with the written instructions. I think this was my first project from the book but I will definitely be making more: I am in love with every bag in the book.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Everything's Coming Up Daisies

The posts should be getting more regular as I get back into my work and school schedules (blah...). I also haven't had much to post even though I've been working on several projects (and on most days, just sitting on the couch watching Northern Exposure and knitting).

First, a couple of Christmas presents from two of my favorite knitters:

A beautiful wrap from my Aunt Nancy, "for when I'm studying." The colors aren't very true to life in this picture, but the natural light was weird this morning what with some quick flurries and then the sun trying to come out.

And from Susan, a pair of cabled fingerless gloves in this bright cheerful color of Malabrigo (which is one of my all time favorite yarns and I want a house made out it).

Susan also gave me a skein of Malabrigo and a free pattern from Patternworks to make this one skein crocheted scarf (it's also the One Skein Scarf from The Happy Hooker). I made it on Christmas Day, while watching movies with the family, after all the gifting and eating was done.

These are my awesome stash-busting new-wave Daisy Stitch Hand Warmers from The Purl Bee. (Can you tell I am a child of the eighties?) I used about half a skein of each color, all leftover from other projects--the pink, black and white are Lamb's Pride Worsted, and the green is Malabrigo. Let me tell you, as cute as they are, Daisy stitch is not fun. Sometimes it's downright painful. But, these aren't very long and it's a great way to use up stash yarn.

A (blurry) close-up of the stitch:
Pattern: Daisy Stitch Hand Warmers from The Purl Bee (free!)
Yarn: About half a skein each of four colors; in this case, pink, white, and black Lamb's Pride Worsted, and green Malabrigo
Source: Stash
Needles: Susan Bates Quicksilver US size 8 dpns, Brittany Birch US size 7 dpns
Modifications: Because I don't always read directions, I striped the black along with the others even though I don't think the pattern calls for color A to be included in the stripes.

So, back to the grind of school and work. However, this is the year that I finish graduate school (one semester down, three to go) so I'm trying to have a better attitude about it. Work is fine, it's just involves being somewhere other than my house. Susan and I discussed this yesterday when we met for book- and yarn-buying and had delicious pastry at Bread and Chocolate in Concord (go there, right now, and buy a creme puff. You'll thank me). We are definitely both homebodies who would prefer to be at home curled up with books and crafts than doing just about anything else (except buying books, yarn, and pastries).
Anyway, hope your new year is off to a great start, a year full of books and crafts (and, if you are like Susan and I, lots of quality time at home).

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Thrift Score

I always poke in the half-hidden bins that hold a myriad of crafty things at thrift stores, hoping against hope that there will be some excellent yarn in them. Usually there are just some tangled balls of 1980s acrylic (see, if it was from the 1970s or earlier it would at least be cool colors) in several pastel shades. Not this time! I found three skeins of Bernat Glenspun English Tweed in a dark blue at a local consignment shop:

This, my friends, is 100% wool, superwash no less. And the label claims it was actually spun at a mill in England. The three skeins together cost me 75 cents.

My Christmas knitting project for myself:

Pattern: Cabled Purse from Last Minute Knitted Gifts
Yarn: Celestial Merino by Lucy Neatby, 1 skein Scarlet
Source: The Elegant Ewe
Needles: Clover bamboo US Size 3 dpns
Modifications: I used dpns instead of the 12" circular needle called for in the pattern. I also ended up knitting the cabled part twice, because I grabbed a set of US Size 6 dpns and didn't notice until I was on the last round of the cable chart. Oh well. It was something simple and pretty to keep my mind occupied during the hectic days surrounding Christmas and New Year's.

There hasn't been much new knitting around here, since I'm trying to clean stuff out and get organized. The organizing itself leaves slightly less time for knitting, and half-finished projects are reappearing (above is the Bird Seed Scarf from the Purl Bee that I've already shown you, but I decided I would like some more birds. Who wouldn't?). I'd like to finish them before I start anything new, especially because the second Secret of the Stole starts in a couple of weeks.

Here's my swatch:

This is done on US Size 2 bamboo needles (instead of the US Size 3 needles recommended) but I like the way it looks so I'm keeping it.

Here's the yarn I'm using:

It's Habu Textiles Extra Fine Merino. Each cone comes with 747 yards, and is only eight dollars at The Elegant Ewe in Concord. They only have this brown color, but I like it. Also the tips from Nautical Knitter, the SotS II designer, recommended natural earthy tones. The yarn is beautiful although it's very thin (hence the smaller needles). It shows lace beautifully though, and has a slight haze to it.
All right, back to the house cleaning and finishing-up-of-old-projects. Not only are the number of unfinished projects embarrassing, so is the size of my stash (especially my fiber stash, which I contribute to as if I was a person who spins on a regular basis. Obviously, this is not the case). So after the finishing-up-of-old-projects, there must be some stash busting with a capital S. Wish me luck in both endeavors.