Monday, October 24, 2011

Comfort Food Cowl and What's On the Needles

Usually, I'm a monogamous knitter. I like to knit and knit and knit, until I have a finished object off my needles. Then, I'm prone to panic because I haven't thought ahead, and I'm left without anything to knit immediately.

This month, however, the tides have turned for some reason. First, I saw the Comfort Food Cowl and Fingerless Gloves set by IrishGirlieKnits featured on her blog of the same name. I had just finished Dancette, and I was eager for a relatively quick, worsted weight project. I had 2 skeins of Malabrigo Worsted in Water Green, so that satisfied my need to knit right there. The cowl is finished, and I love how it turned out. See?

When I finished the cowl, I cast-on for the fingerless gloves right away. The pattern was going much more quickly in the gloves, so I got about a third of the way up the cuff of the first glove.

Last Sunday, I had the house completely to myself because my husband and daughter went to a football game. I was so excited! I was going to watch movies and craft all day. I really wanted to start something new, so I decided to start crocheting a Queen Anne's Lace scarf for myself out of a pretty skein of Malabrigo Rios that I had picked up in Maine. Things were going swimmingly, and then I saw it.

A mouse.

Now I do not like mice....AT ALL! In our neck of the woods, it is pretty common to have mice trying to get in your house. I know they've been in the garage and stuff, and we have a pest company on the situation. Or so I thought. I had not seen one inside my house in a very long time. So, I watched this mouse climb up the side of my fireplace and duck into a tiny hole in the stone. What did I do? I called my sister, and I yelled and whined and basically freaked out.

After I commiserated with my sister, I saw the offending mouse stick his head out of the hole. I thought to myself, there is absolutely NO WAY that I am going to watch this mouse run around my house. I yelled at it and pounded on the stone of the fireplace. I swear the thing sneered at me. I sprayed it in the face with water and it rescinded into the hole. I called my sister back (for moral support), and then I cut up a stainless scrubber and shoved it into the hole where the mouse had peeked out. (I had read that mice do not like to chew through any type of metal or wiry material.) I didn't see him again that day, and I was relieved. Maybe he was too. My day was a bit deflated after that. I did crochet, and I did watch a movie, but it wasn't the same. My family had a terrific time at the game, so at least they didn't have to deal with our uninvited creature.

It took me a couple of days to calm down, but getting yarn in the mail helped me forget about the creatures. (That and several visits from the pest control people).

I had been watching the progress of Susan B Anderson's Polly Pullover turned Cardigan KAL on Ravelry. I just knew I had to have this cardigan, knit out of super bulky weight yarn, for my fall and winter wardrobe when I saw it featured on the Spud and Chloe blog. I finished my other sweater first, and then spent a good two weeks hemming and hawing about my color decision. I loved Susan's version in Carbon, but since I already own a plethora of charcoal colored sweaters, I decided to go with Sequoia, a reddish, terra-cotta-like shade. Then I was in a holding pattern, anxiously waiting for its arrival.

I received the yarn for my cardigan to be last Monday, and I was so excited to start. I really love the color! With the gauge swatch completed, I cast-on right away and made it through the body in just a few days. Love super bulky weight yarn!

I love that I've come this far, but I'm going to frog half the body. Why? I included the waist shaping dictated in the pattern on the sides of the cardigan, and I don't like how noticeable it is. I've tried it on several times, and reasoned that the sweater will be fine without it, and I'll be happier. Plus, it will take me almost no time to catch up because this yarn knits up so fast.

Although, I am starting another project today. (How many is that now?) A Gobbledyghost for my daughter for Halloween. She has requested a purple one, so I'm trying to knit it on the sly in time for the big day. So, the fingerless mitts, the scarf, and the sweater will be on hold for a bit. At least, I can't say I don't have anything to work on, right?

Happy Monday! What are you knitting these days?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Yay! Dancette!

Fresh off my needles is a fun knit from Irishgirlieknits. I saw Carrie's design, Dancette, featured on her blog and fell in love with the striping and chevron goodness displayed in this beautiful shawl. Then, after reading rave reviews about the lovely hand dyed yarn from The Plucky Knitter, I decided that I just had to order one of her Living A Mystery yarn kits that was equipped with 2 skeins of The Plucky Knitter Primo MCN 75/20/5 and the pattern. The skeins are selected by The Plucky Knitter herself and shipped off to you. As far as I know, you don't have any say in the matter.

And that makes project that much more fun.

I poured over the FO gallery for Dancette for days after I placed the order, wondering if my skeins would be similar to the projects that I was viewing. I am a huge fan of blue, so I was imagining opening the box and finding a beautiful shade of blue and another beautiful skein, maybe grey? (Well, let's face it, I was fixated on the blue.) Then the box arrived and inside was this:

No blue? What? I was taken aback a bit. This was not what I was expecting. Red and brown? Really? I mean I knew it was a "mystery" box of yarn, but somehow I thought that I would get what I had been dreaming about. Hmmmm......

Now I don't usually choose red when choosing yarn, clothes, etc., so this was new for me. I carried the skeins around the house with me for a bit, and then I put them down so I could think a bit about the whole thing.

Then I grabbed my long lost blue sweater in progress to try to finish it up. The sweater took me about 10 days to finish, and after that sea of blue had held my attention for that amount of time, enough was enough. I was so ready for a change.

I saw The Plucky Knitter skeins on the table where I had left them, and I had a new attitude. I thought to myself, "This isn't a bad thing after all." I wound the yarn into skeins and got down to business.

I decided to use the red as the main color with the brown as the complementary color. I cast on in the red and started on the pattern. The color changes were so fun, and the varying width between stripes really kept things interesting. As I watched the shawl get bigger, I was liking it more and more. By the time, I reached the chevron edging, I was couldn't wait for the finished object.

And here it is:

I really love how it turned out, and what I've come to appreciate about this project is that it has broadened my color horizons. I am looking forward to thinking outside the blue box for future projects. Who knows? Maybe I'll even branch out to a mustard cowl or pumpkin colored sweater.

That's begs the question: What am I going to knit next?

Friday, October 14, 2011

My Favorite Sweater

I have a sweater that I wear all the time. As soon as the temperature starts hovering around 60 degrees and below, the sweater comes out. Although I have been known to wear a tank top, boxer shorts, flip flops and this sweater when driving my daughter to school in May or June, along with glasses and a haphazard bun.

I pull it on first thing in the morning, and keep it around during the day to don if I feel chilled in any way.

Now I didn't knit this sweater, and I didn't receive it as a gift. Well, not really anyway. My mom was cleaning out her closet about 6 or 7 years ago, (She is very good at that sort of thing, by the way. I am not.) and she asked me if I wanted this sweater of hers, a heathered gray 100% wool cardigan with a collar and pockets. I said, "Sure!" After all I love sweaters, and I love gray, so this seemed like a decent score for me.

This sweater seriously became my goto for everyday life. It's not particularly stylish by any stretch of the imagination. It's very basic, has a healthy dose of positive ease and might even be bordering on frumpy, but I love it. It's warm, it's cozy and it's comfortable. It's like a favorite sweatshirt, but I like sweaters better. I affectionately call it my "Mr. Rogers sweater". If I am home, I probably have on that sweater. (Yes, I have it on right now.) Don't get me wrong, it's been out and about the supermarket, school meetings and that kind of thing. It is my favorite sweater.

Since this sweater has been providing me with warmth and coziness for the past 6 or 7 years, some things are starting to go. Take the elbows for instance. I noticed the fabric wearing very thin in the left elbow 2 years ago. There was no way that I would ever consider throwing this sweater out on account of a hole in progress, so I found some multicolored dyed yarn and just kind of whipstitched over the offending gap. Not a very knitterly solution for a knitter, but at the time I was in a hurry to get the sweater back on. While I was at it, I took the same yarn and whipstitched the cuff, 2 stitches in each purled section of the ribbing. Just because I felt like it. While I don't have a photo of my classy elbow fix, I can show you what the cuff looks like.

Pretty fancy, eh?

Yesterday, my quick fix of the elbow blew out, leaving my elbow exposed to the drafty elements in my house. What to do? What to do? I grabbed the same variegated handdyed yarn and knit a patch. I cast on about 15 stitches and knit in stockinette stitch until it seemed like it would cover the gape. While I was knitting, I decided that I liked the purl side better, and then I unexpertly mattress stitched the sucker in place. See?

Yes, I know it's not perfect. You have to understand that my attitude about this sweater is very laid back. It's missing a button, and it now has a wonky patch on the elbow and will probably need another one on the other elbow soon, but I don't care. I love it just the way it is. It keeps me warm, it's my favorite and it's mine.

Enough said. :)

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Letter From My Sweater

Dear Kathleen,

Thank you for finally finishing me last week. I'm not sure what I did to you last November, but it was getting really boring in that drawer. I didn't exactly understand what you muttered as you hastily thrust me into the plastic bag and then into the drawer, but you sounded pretty cranky. Did I mention that the drawer was dark? Or that the only other knit in the drawer was a too-small baby hat who wasn't much of a conversationalist?

Sorry. Have I told you that I am happy you finished me?

One thing I'd like to point out is that if you hadn't stuck me in the drawer when you made that mistake on the sleeve last November, you wouldn't have made the same mistake last Sunday all over again. Although I will concede that if you had kept the edging that you planted on me around the same time, I would look a little off kilter right now. But, did it really have to take you a year to make a decision on the edging?

The other thing that I'd like to mention is that I look alright. What, with this being the first adult sweater that you ever knit. And I know you doubted yourself big time. Well, you should have. You almost made some unfortunate choices, and maybe you would do some things differently next time. You did learn things on this project, right? Lots of things. I hope you realize now that it sometimes it takes a good bit frogging to make a decent sweater. When you think about how many times you ripped back, you know I'm right. And at the end of the day, my dear, I'd like you to realize, that I'm only a sweater. So, there's no need to stress so much. Really.

I'll forgive you for the things that you said to me. You just wanted me to be wearable. I get that.

Looking forward to keeping you warm sometime soon,
Your Sweater

P.S. Go out and knit another one. I know you can do it.

Moonlight Raglan
Pattern: Easy Top-Down Raglan Knitalong by Susan B. Anderson
Yarn: Spud and Chloe Sweater, color Moonlight