Sunday, August 29, 2010

Just had to post this even though it is non-knitting related...

We just got this link to Edible East Bay magazine, in an email from Anthony (chef-extraordinaire, mushroom-hunting phenomenon, and all around nice guy) Tassinello.  When you click on the link, scroll down to see a picture of the proud mushroom hunters with their record-breaking haul of morel mushrooms.  That's Razz, my husband on the left, in the middle is Paulie (a.k.a. Paulie "Porcini" who hunts mushrooms and also knits!), and Anthony on the right. 

I said this link was non-knitting related, but just so you know, I am slowly training the 3 of them to be on the lookout for yarn dyeing mushroom specimens.  I wish we could have gone to see Anthony's talk, but the Fall mushroom hunting season is approaching, and I hope to show you more pictures of mushroom-dyed fiber then.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Looking Forward

 I woke up this morning thinking of Stitches West 2011.  As far as I'm concerned it's never too early to start thinking about that fun weekend in February.  I plan on perusing last year's class list to start thinking about which classes I might sign up for this year.
 And then there is the yarn shopping.  Even though only a couple of days ago I was looking at my stash and feeling quite satisfied (if not sated), I've started my Stitches browsing list.  I blame the latest edition of Twist Collective.  I immediately fell for the Coventry Cardigan.  The pattern calls for Miss Babs "Yowza -What A Skein!", a light worsted yarn that comes in beautiful colors.  Some yarns are easily purchased online, while others need to be viewed and touched before buying.  The Miss Babs falls into the latter category.  I could probably save money and substitute another light worsted yarn like Cascade 220, but I'm not in a hurry to knit this, so I will wait to at least see the Miss Babs.  I'm sure her booth will be at the convention, and it will be great to peruse the colors in person, and then decide if I will use the original yarn or a substitute. 

Meanwhile, I'll keep knitting through the stash.  I've finished the front and back of the Augusta Cardigan.

The front and back are already in one piece because I used short-row shaping on the shoulders, and then used a 3-needle bind off to put them together, rather than using the stair-step bind off called for in the pattern.  I've used those techniqes before, but it has been awhile so I went to this helpful article in Knitty for a refresher.  I love any modification that helps me avoid sewing seams later. 

I'm a little worried about running out of yarn so I think I will knit on the button band next, and then just divide the yarn I have left into 2 balls to knit the sleeves top-down until I run out.  I'm debating about whether it needs blocking before that, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to take the lazy way out.  I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Two-at-a-time Sweater Fronts

While I was knitting my last pair of socks, I mentioned that I was trying a (new to me) technique for knitting 2 socks on one needle.  But I don't think I ever described it or took a picture.  I can show it on the blog now, as I am applying it to sweater knitting.  My friend Jeanne picked up this tip in a sock knitting class.  It is quite simple really, and just involves using circular needles long enough to hold two pieces of knitting, and a ziploc bag to contain two balls of yarn:

I'm sure you could spend money on knitting tools which accomplish the same thing, but this is the quick-and-dirty method.  I'm using a 40" long circular needle to hold both fronts of the Augusta Cardigan, and a gallon-size ziploc bag to hold 2 skeins of worsted weight yarn.  Before casting on, I cut the 2 corners off of the bottom of the ziploc bag.  I placed 2 balls of yarn in the bag, with an end from each ball threaded through each cut hole.  I closed up the bag, and cast on first one set of stitches.  Before knitting those, I cast on a second set of stitches.   Now I am knitting across both sets of stitches before I flip my knitting over, and if the yarn ever begins to tangle, all I have to do is flip the plastic bag over.  This method has the added bonus of decreasing the amount of pet hair that gets knit into the sweater as well!

Are there any techniques you've learned recently that you think are worth passing on?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Swatching for Fall

I just dropped off the boy for his first day of high school.  I can't believe it's already here, but we've made it through the flurry of buying new school clothes and a hair cut, organizing the backpack with supplies, putting together school lunches, etc.  I wasn't really ready for summer vacation to end, but I'm proud of him and I look forward to the new adventures having him in high school will bring.

Even though it is supposed to be 100+ degrees today here in Northern California, the beginning of the school year makes me think of Fall and of sweater knitting.  I just checked my Ravelry notebook and found that I have 80 cardigans and 34 pullovers in my Favorites file  . . . so much yarn, so little time!
But three patterns in particular are rising to the top of my "most wanting to cast on right now" list, so I've pulled them out and started swatching:

1)  I'm excited about knitting something out of my new Quince and Co. yarn.  Here is a swatch of their Osprey yarn in Storm and the sweater it will probably become.

As soon as I found out that I won the yarn, I knew I wanted to knit a sweater designed by Cecily Glowik MacDonald.  I've been trying to rein in the urge to purchase patterns, but around the time that I won the Quince and Co. drawing, someone on Ravelry offered to buy some of my stashed yarn.  I jumped at the chance (thanks Zonda!) and used the extra money to make a guilt-free purchase of a new pattern book:  New England Knits (click on the Rav link to see all of the patterns in the book) by Cecily Glowik MacDonald and Melissa LaBarre.  This "Augusta" cabled cardigan with a nice sleeve detail looks like something I would enjoy knitting and get a lot of use out of.

2)  As I browsed further through the book, this Derry raglan was the sweater I most wanted to knit, but the Osprey yarn in solid grey just wasn't right:

Again, it looks like a very wearable sweater, as well as an enjoyable knit.  I think a big swath of stockinette stitch in worsted yarn sounds good before getting into my next sock adventure.  It's the tweediness of the yarn in the picture that I find appealing.  So I scavenged this Kathmandu Aran from an unfinished project and the gauge is perfect.  Now I just have to finish frogging the other project to see if I have enough yarn.

3)  Last but not least, here is a sweater that I have been wanting to knit since I bought the pattern at Webster's last October:

And I think I finally have the right yarn for this Night & Day cardigan from Tahki Stacy Charles.  I found this "Sublime" cashmere blend on sale when I was visiting family in New Jersey this summer.  I actually brought this pattern and yarn with me on our most recent vacation, but it never came out of the suitcase.  We are getting back into a routine now, which I hope will create a little more knitting time.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Happy Birthday Angie!

I did something atypical for a knitter this weekend . . . I finished a gift on time!  Here is my latest FO, Angie's birthday socks:

Pattern:  Rivulets Socks by Wendy D. Johnson
Source:  one of many patterns generously offered for free on the Wendy Knits blog
Materials:  Malabrigo Sock yarn in "Abril", and US 1 and US 2 circular needles
My modifications:
1)  As usual, I substituted short-row heels and toes for the ones called for in the pattern.
2)  The pattern called for size US 0 needles.  I started with US 1's to get gauge, then I went up to US 2's near the top of the sock for a little bit of calf shaping.
3)  I learned a new bind off to create a stretchy edge on the sock cuff.  I went searching and found "Jeny's surprisingly stretchy bind off" from Knitty, for K1, P1 ribbing.  I think it worked out well.

Angie, I hope you like them, and I hope you are having a wonderful birthday weekend.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


I juat collected my mail after being away for 2 weeks and found this lovely package from Quince & Co.:

After winning the drawing mentioned in my last post, I chose 10 skeins of their worsted weight yarn, Osprey.

I have enough to make a sweater with these 6 skeins in the "Storm" colorway,

. . . enough to make a scarf with these 3 skeins in the "Frost" colorway,

. . . and enough for a hat with this skein in the "Frank's Plum" colorway.

It all came with this great Angela Adams tote bag, 3 sets of Peace Fleece knitting needles, a Quince & Co. color card, a coupon, and a jar of Quince jam!

I can hardly wait to start knitting with all of this wonderful yarn, but first I need to go make some toast with Quince jam for breakfast!