Sunday, January 28, 2007

Fresh start

I just got word that the newest baby in the family, a girl anticipated to make her appearance in May, has colors: peach/apricot and moss green. I love this combination. Little Ms. A (she's been named already--makes me feel old, all this naming-in-utero business) is gonna need some handknits from her third cousin, once removed (that would be me...I think).

Ms. A's mother is a very talented (and very urban) young graphic designer. Hmm. An interesting challenge.

I started off by hunting down prints at my favorite hip fabric shop. I wanted to see what other colors were being combined with the peach and moss. As I suspected, there was chocolate brown. The print I liked best also featured orange, light blue, pink, olive, spring green, and ecru.

This is from the Freshcut line, designed by Heather Bailey for FreeSpirit. It's softer and prettier in person.

Then I went browsing through yarn. There is a gorgeous, glowing moss green in Karabella's Aurora 8 line. This is a yarn I've always meant to try out, given the number of people who rave about it. It is soft and machine-washable--perfect for a baby! The pallet is huge, which means I might be able to find a peach, a pink, a chocolate, and an ecru I like with the moss.

I'm ruling out a blanket. My mother and the baby-to-be's grandmother are both avid quilters, so there will be plenty o' covers, I've no doubt. Maybe a cardigan...

Since the beginning of the year, I've been checking in on Nona's project. When I saw the string-of-pearls swatch, I really sat up and took notice. And when I saw this little gem today, a design started to click into place.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

My So-Called Scarf, in miniature

Pattern: My So-Called Scarf
Yarn: Manos del Uruguay, in color 55 Olive, 125 yards/hank, about half a hank?
Needles: 20" U.S. 11 Denise
Size: mini (for a 3-year-old), 27" x 3" before blocking

I made a full-size My So-Called Scarf in this yarn a couple of years ago as a birthday gift for the September Sibling. Now her little boy's birthday is coming up, and a matching version seemed a good idea. I love how this pattern is flattering to male and female wearers alike.

To tell the truth, I just plain love this pattern.

Ditto for Manos. Yes, it pills, but I don't make sweaters out of it. Sometimes the variation in thickness (and gauge) can be extreme, but I like that quality. I hear that recent entries into the market are softer, and that may be the case, but I haven't had the chance to try any of them yet. So, for the time being, Manos remains one of my desert island yarns. (Aran island yarns, more likely.)

Pattern modifications were few, apart from the obvious. I cast on 18 stitches, I think.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Kimono my--oh, forget it

Pattern: One-Piece Baby Kimono from Mason-Dixon Knitting
Yarn: Novita Perinteinen Cottonella, in color 275542 (about as red as you can get), 112 meters/ball, about 2.5 balls
Needles: 26" U.S. 6 Crystal Palace Bamboo
Size: newborn, 16" chest

This is for a colleague's baby shower. I don't know the expectant mom well and I can't attend the party, but since when I have passed up an opportunity to knit something for a baby???

Where did I deviate from the pattern? I don't know how conservative these parents might turn out to be about their son's clothing, so I played it safe and avoided ribbons and bows. (As it happens, I had no matching ribbon in the house and I lacked the means to go out and get some.) I decided to make some twisted cord out of the project yarn, attach it with a simple self hitch, and just knot it. I like the effect. I also didn't extend the front wrap all the way to the side of the sweater; I liked the proportions better when I stopped increasing about 2 inches before the instructions specified and then knitted straight down from there. I did do the full 8-inch-wide "under" wrap, so that I could add a simple little tie on the inside to secure that (also not part of the original).

Otherwise, I followed the instructions. I chose to do make-1 increases (because some people, I've observed, can be really strange about YOs for boys), and I'm happy with the results. What I can't quite figure out, though (and I hope you'll forgive me, revered ladies of the blog), is why the instructions have the knitter bind off for the neck so early, so that the neck opening begins rather far down the back of this little garment. To compound matters, you start increasing right away to create the front neckline. I haven't taken a close look at a newborn's neck for a while, so maybe I'm missing something here, but this looks like it might be, well...a mite uncomfortable to wear. The impressionistic little diagram in the book shows the neck opening beginning at a spot higher up the back, which strikes me as perfect, but the photo on the same spread clearly illustrates that the back neckline begins well before the shoulder.

If I were to knit this again, I'd reposition the neck opening, smooth out the increases and decreases on the sleeves (though the current instructions will suit beginners well), and keep the modifications I've already tried out.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Seeing red...I wish

I did manage to get a photo of the fraternal twin Crosspatch today, but I'm having a devil of a time getting this color combination to render well. I thought the picture I posted of the firstborn was off. This one is ten times worse.

I'll stop whinging now.

Pattern: Elizabeth Morrison's Crosspatch, Summer '06 edition of Knitty
Yarn: Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran, in colors hemlock, quartz, and batik
Needles: 16" U.S. 8 Addi Turbos and U.S. 8 Bryspun dpns
Dimensions: 19" circumference, 7" tall (when flat)

As before, I created the top plain band by knitting two ridges of garter stitch.

On the firstborn, I used a twisted German cast-on; this time I went with a straight continental long-tail cast-on. I like that it doesn't untwist the plies, a problem I run into with the twisted German. (Perhaps it would help if I noted the direction of twist before working the cast-on?) Both cast-ons seem to work well visually with the garter stitch pattern.

I had planned to try out the magic loop method when knitting this twin, but I found I didn't have the appropriate needle. (It might be more accurate to say that I didn't have the appropriate needle available at the moment.)

And can I just say that I see more Jo Sharp Silkroad in my future?

I continue to love this design, even though my colorway, dictated by what I had left over from the firstborn, doesn't show off the patterned band to much advantage. I like that the slip stitch section gives the hat some padding and makes it warmer. I even like the looks of the inside. Perhaps I'll get a shot of that next time I do some mosaic knitting.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Long dark teatime of the Northwest

Yes, yes--apologies to Douglas Adams (and to the executors of his estate).

I finished the fraternal twin Crosspatch Friday evening, but I haven't been home during a time when we've experienced light sufficient for capturing a decent image. Perhaps there wasn't even such a moment today. It is gray, gray, gray (or grey, grey, grey, in honor of Mr. Adams). I will attempt the summit again tomorrow.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Bound off for Afghanistan

I actually finished this around 11 last night, but couldn't get a decent photo until today. Even with the benefit of sunlight (or what passes for it in my native environs), I still had to struggle to get the colors to render properly. In reality, the purple is somewhat redder and the overall effect is more muted. Of course, it would help if I knew more about photography than "I push this button, right?" My dear spouse has kindly stepped up to provide some tutorials, so I entertain fond hopes of improving.

About the FO: This Elizabeth Morrison pattern is featured in the Summer '06 edition of Knitty and it was a joy to knit. I'll definitely try some of Morrison's other designs. As this hat will go to a child (age unknown), I went down a needle size to a U.S. 8 and plucked a different yarn, Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran, from my stash to make a warm hat that's also quite soft. I had this in three colors I thought worked well together--hemlock, quartz, and batik (the two less-than-helpful monikers in there courtesy of some marketing monkey)--so I simply knit the two solid bands in the third color. I also departed from the instructions for the top band, which I created by knitting two ridges of garter stitch, rather than simply purling two rounds and calling it good.

The Silkroad Aran was lovely to knit with, soft and fluid. I generally don't care for the sound and sensation of knitting with Addi Turbos, but they were ideal for this yarn. Can't say the same for my usual needles of preference, Bryspuns, which were too pointed and sticky for this blend.

I like the pattern and the resulting hat so well that I think I'll use the leftover yarn to create a fraternal twin, this time using the magic loop method so I can avoid the necessity of using the Bryspun dpns for the crown.