Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ravelympics: Day 6-9: Crossing the Finish Line!

Today, I crossed the finish line by adding the lining to the bag!

I decided to forgo making the strap for the bag. I might make another bag *with* a strap, but something that's a little better thought out on my part.

I washed & blocked the bag, and let that dry. Since it's been a little bit cold, it took a bit longer to dry than I had anticipated. In the meantime, I braided two ropes for the closure -- a three plait braid, each plait consisting of 3 strands of yarn of different colors. The first braid had plaits of: (3)white, (3)white, (3)blue. The second braid had plaits of: (3)blue, (3)blue, (3)white.

Cat in the Bag: Finished sans liningCat in the Bag: inside of the bag
The inside & outside of the bag (unlined)

Saturday morning, I cut out the lining fabric from some nice gold fabric scraps that I had from a previous sewing project. The lining only took about 15 minutes to whip out, and then it was a matter of attaching it to the knitted bag.

Cat in the Bag Lining
The unattached lining

It took me a bit to handsew the lining into the bag, but then again, I've always been a slow handsewer.

Cat in the Bag : Finished Project with Lining
Finished bag with attached lining

I'm inordinately pleased with how it turned out. I still want to "embroider" black noses for the cats, but can't find my embroidery floss. And, yes, there are mistakes in the bag -- tight tight a tension, too loose a tension, and some actual chart mistakes (that frankly, no one is going to notice).

I definitely want to do a bit more colorwork in the future. And considering I still have 3/4ths of a skein of each color, I might make variations of said bag. :-)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ravelympics 2010: Day 5

Last night, I ripped back the eyelet section of the bag, and redid the whole color band. I'm much much happier with how it looks. So, I bound off the bag portion.

I decided that the i-cord was a bit too thick, despite only being 3-strands, for the bag closure. A simple braid worked a lot better.

There's still the little problem of the strap for the bag. My attempts to make one didn't work out as well as I wanted. However, I did find a potential solution of a braided icord strap that I might have to try.

Or I might just forgo the strap all together. I haven't quite decided yet.

Now, I just need to line the bag.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ravelympics 2010: Day 4

I, more or less, finished the bag last night, including the eyelets. However, I've not bound off yet, as I am not particularly happy with how the eyelets look. I'm seriously considering frogging back to the beginning of the last color change and re-doing the eyelets.

While I debate that quandry, I started making a 2-color icord for the bag closure. While knitting icord is fairly simple, it's also rather boring. I'm highly tempted to go down to JoAnn's and buy one of those little icord making I need about 2 icords about 8 inches long.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ravelympics: Day 1 - Day 3

My Ravelympics projects have proven a lot easier than anticipated. In fact, I'm having a lot of fun knitting my colorwork project for Team Sasquatch, AND I've fallen in love with alpaca fiber (Team Spindlers).

First, the yarn I picked for Team Sasquatch is Cascade 220 Wool in teal, white, and red. My knitting tools: Knit Picks 60" circular for use in magic loop. (US 7s), and several stitch markers.

Ravelympics Yarn

Day 1
The broadcast for the Opening Ceremonies didn't start locally until 7:30pm to coincide with Prime Time, but I did cast on starting shortly after 6pm PST. I cast on with a circular cast on, then increased every other row.

Then I hit the rocky part of the slope. This part was so simple that I had to frog back after the 8th round because I wasn't paying attention and didn't increase when I should have, which promptly worsened as I tried to fix it.

After casting on the 2nd time, I managed to actually pay enough attention to finish the first part of the project.

Ravelympics Project: Cat in the Bag

At this point, the bottom of the bag measures 5.5" in diameter. I have repositioned my stitch markers to mark every 13 stitches in order to know where I am in the pattern

I thought about pacing myself, but I continued knitting, and started to really enjoy and get into the colorwork. However, I did have to really pay attention to the chart. I realized that I needed a better way to quickly look to see where I was in the pattern. I ended the day after finishing the 2nd band of colorwork.

Day 2

The start of Day 2:

Ravelympics Project: Cat in the Bag

At this point, I realized I had a made a mistake in reading the chart, which would mean that I would have to rip back all of the blue band of color so I could fix the mistake. I opted to keep it as a "design feature" rather than a bug. LOL. (Essentially, in the smaller band of white, there should have been single stitches of "blue").

I kept having minor setbacks at certain places, as I would misread a row in the chart. Again, this was due to not having a good way to just "show" the row I was working on at that moment. Often times I would discover my mistake one row above. Usually, this was mistake was the wrong color. I was loathe to rip back because of the colorwork, so I just opted to drop stitches and pick them up with a crochet hook. Luckily, with the color floats in the back, this was a little bit easier. However, if you inspect the knitting, some stitches are either a little tighter or looser than the ones next to it.

By the start of the evening, I was pretty much done. We went out with friends that night for some needed relaxation time (involving Tiki drinks and food). Needless to say, I didn't knit during this time (mostly due to the low lighting in the bar).

Day 3

The start of Day 3

Ravelympics Project: Cat in the Bag

The cats are starting to actually look like cats instead of blobs of white. For the eyes, I opted to add "blue" for the eyes, which proved a little tricky trying to juggle three strands of color.

At this point, I'm using the principles of the Philosopher's Wool 2-handed fair island technique of 'weaving' in long floats. It took a bit of getting used to doing, as I'm a continental knitter, and they show the technique as an English knitter.

There are certain areas of pucker, but it's acceptable pucker. I'm trying to knit loose and to move stitches around every 5 or so stitches to loosen up the floats so they don't pull.

So, far, so good. I probably will have this finished long before the end of the Olympics.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ravelympics 2010: Training

As part of the training for Ravelympics 2010, I decided to swatch last night, despite saying previously I might not, because I wanted to see what the *best* size needles to use. The yarn (Cascade 220) recommends the following:
* US 8 for 4.5 st/in
* US 7 for 5 stitches/inch

My gauge?

- US 8 = 4.75 - 5 stitches / inch -- a bit too "loose" of fabric weave for my taste)
- US 7 = 5 - 5.25 stitches / inch -- gave me a better (tighter) weave of fabric.

However, I did run into a slight problem. My US 7s were on my raglan sweater that I am currently knitting and I couldn't find a second pair. UGH! In order to swatch I took off the interchangeable needles off the sweater, then put them back when I was done swatching.

I hurriedly placed an order with Knitpicks (that I had been putting off) to get some new needles. Of course, I'm kicking myself for not doing this sooner.

But, when cast on is called for on Friday, I'll just take off the interchangeables and start my new project. (I'm putting aside the raglan sweater until Ravelympics is over.)

I just hope I can finish the Ravelympics project in 12 days!!!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Monogamy & Me

I've never been a monogamous sort of person, specifically when it comes to certain projects.

Sewing: For the most part, I'll stick with a specific sewing project, because most of my projects are rather large in scale (i.e. a whole outfit for a specific event) and I know I have to finish up before the project deadline. Consequently, I will stick out the sewing project.

However, my anti-monogamous project tinkering has really come out with knitting & spinning projects. However, I do try and keep it under control. Currently, I have two projects on the needles:

- Hemlock blanket back in June2009. It's started & stopped on-and-off for the past several months, because it is SOO BIG! I'm nearing the end, but there's 5 rows of stockinette stitches after every increase, and currently, it's almost done. Currently, it's 3 feet (about 1 meter) in diameter, and I still have another foot to go!

- a top-down raglan sweater using the Incredible Fit Raglan Sweater calculator using some recycled yarn from a sweater

Of course, I'm itching to make a new pair of socks, but lately, since I don't have train time to knit, it's a little harder to push through knitting projects.

I do have one project hibernating peacefully -- my Slouchy Cardigan. I just need to do the two sleeves, but I can't seem to bring myself to work on miles and miles of stockinette rows. I hate purling....


- I'm nearly done with the Shetland on the Kundert drop spindle. I need to free it up for Ravelympics so I can spin my 2 oz of alapaca.

- I'm almost done with the 1lb of dark BFL that I'm spinning on Nona, my Kiwi. Who knew that 1lb of fiber was a LOT?!?! I'm down to the last 2 ounces!

One bobbin was divided up into plastic bobbins so I could ply the early yarn (when I first started spinning) with the later yarn for more consistency. Because I know my consistency has changed, despite having a sample swatch.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Training for Ravelympics

Team Sasquatch: I went down to Purlescence Yarns several weeks ago to pick up yarn. I had my chart in hand, and proceeded to sit on their floor looking at color combinations from Cascade 220 yarns. Sandy, one of the owners, had to walk over me several times as I contemplated this color over that and this color combo over that. (It's a good thing I already have a working knowledge of color theory or it might have taken longer!)

After about an hour, I finally picked 4 potential colors, of which, I only need about 3: a nice turquoise/teal blue, a lovely dark red, white, and a neutral grey. I picked up one skein of each color. Sandy particularly liked the color combination, so I think I have a winner.

I've planned out the color combination that I want to use:
* white for the cats.
* red for the background behind the cats
* turquoise/light blue for the other bands
* grey or white for the patterning on the inside of the other bands.

The skeins are now wound into cakes for ease of use later. I haven't really swatched, as this is bag and the pattern is just a chart, so I suppose it doesn't really matter. I probably will swatch with two colors just to determine the best needle size to make a nice fabric.

Team Spindlers: I'm going to be spinning about 2 oz of alpaca fiber on my Kundert spindle. Unfortunately, the spindle is currently filled with my *last* project -- Shetland. So I'm currently hurrying to finish the last 1/2 oz of shetland fiber so I can free up the Kundert.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Remaking Potential

Some time ago, I had knitted up a project with some of my first handspun. I *loved* the colors & how it knitted up. I thought I had found a good pattern for it (Lacy Backtus). I *liked* the pattern.

BFL from Spincerely

When I didn't like how the pattern was going, I thought, "Well, I'll probably love it when it's finished. I can't tell with a half-finished item"

So, I finished the project, and *still* didn't love it. And I thought, "Give it time"

So I waited. I still didn't love it. BUT I still loved the colors & the yarn. I didn't understand why. The lovely knitted item sat unloved and unused.

Later, I made a sister pattern to the Lacy Baktus -- Lacy Karius -- with some other handspun, because I loved the idea of the pattern. Both turned out very differently, and I really *love* how the Lacy Karius looks.

Nighty Sky Karius

So, last night, I was waiting for something and spotted the Lacy Baktus I had made, I grabbed it and started to frog the finished project so I could reclaim the lovely lovely yarn I had made. I felt a deep immense sigh of relief when the ball of yarn was neatly wound.

Now, it has the potential to be something else. And I have the pleasure of knitting with it again.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Golden Gate Fiber Institute's schedule of classes is up for their Summer Intensive. It's the one I *really* wanted to go to, as they had not only Judy McQuinn, but Abby Franquemont and Cat Bordhi on their teacher list.

However, having now read the class descriptions, the two I'm interested in, seem geared towards beginners and I'm not sure I want to shell out the nearly $900 for the 6-day retreat. (Plus, there's taking a full week off work...)

So, I opted instead to go to the Jared Flood Sweater Class in March.

Ah well. I'll check to see if Abby or Cat are going to be doing any other classes in the Bay Area while they are out here.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Gift Knitting for Treasured People

Normally, I'm not a big gift knitter (except maybe for DH). Gift knitting can entail a lot of stress, heartache, and general unhappiness for a lot of knitters. However, on the flip side, gift knitting can also bring a lot of joy to both the knitter & recipient, *but* it can also cause a lot more heartache when the recipient doesn't enjoy the product (i.e. the boyfriend-sweater syndrome, or having to wear Aunt Martha's itchy sweater whenever she visited).

But, recently, I was at the receiving end of people who absolutely *loved* what I made them.

over Christmas (2009), my Eldest Niece took absolute delight in a pair of my hand-make socks that had shrunk/felted in the wash. When she wore them out (2 days later as they were knit with handpainted yarn), I decided to knit her a pair, which I cast on shortly after discovering the very large heel holes in those aforementioned socks!

Unblocked Socks for a 7-year-old. Size US 2 (7.5")

Knit Picks: Stroll (Clematis Heather) & Kettle Dyed (Eggplant)
Toe-up: Ran out of Stroll just as a I got to the heel turn.

I planned on finishing them in time for her birthday (which I did finish exactly on her birthday, so mailed them off a little bit belated). And with two different colors because I ran out of one yarn and had to finish with another. Her mother tells me she absolutely adores them, and was heartbroken when her mother wouldn't let her wear them to school (considering what she did to the last pair...). However, I did let her mother know that I used a much sturdier wool for her socks and reinforced the heel (unlike the last pair).

Also, I had made the Trilobyte hat for my BIL (father to Eldest Niece), as he is a geologist. His wife (the mother) also let me know that BIL has been wearing his hat *everywhere* as it gets cold in the morning. She tells me that he loves it as it is his most comfortable hat AND that if I wish to knit him more hats, he wouldn't complain! LOL

So, I can definitely understand that warm euphoric feeling of giving a gift that is loved and treasured. I will still be very picky for whom I knit gifts, but I probably will be knitting gifts again.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Lost Train Knitting Time

I switched jobs recently, and although I much prefer my new job over the old one, I kinda miss having a whole hour (or more) of unadulterated knitting time on my train commute. A lot of the projects over 2009 were mostly done on the train, allowing me to finish them a lot faster than I normally would have.

Now that I do not have my train time to knit, I am knitting my projects a little bit slower than previously. I try and sneak in a bit of knitting time here and there during the day -- at lunch, while I'm waiting for something to happen (doctor's appointments, etc) -- but there's nothing like having that huge chunk of time devoted to just knitting.