Stay on target…almost there…

Yes, Porkins, I know, to destroy the death star I must stay on target. But I must confess, 2012 saw me un-doing projects as much as I began them. I started two sweaters – ambitious projects, I realize – but even after making some serious progress, I realized that I’d done one of the following:

– picked the wrong yarn

– picked the wrong needle size

– picked the wrong pattern/lost interest/didn’t care

Points 1 & 2 could have been helped by checking gauge. But isn’t that for weenies? in-progress-failI’ve made some great stuff by winging it, but I guess when you’re making the jump from super bulky accessories to finer yarn making things that you’d actually wear, you must also check gauge. I’m all growns up.
This example to the left is an example of all three (yarn, needle, pattern) being wrong, and potentially the movie I’m watching the in background. Is that the Exorcist?

No, no, no. None of these are working. Help me say it right, Consuela:

Recommended Annual Allowances of Blog (and dog)

How is this possible? Nearly an entire year since I last posted? Well, as usual, it’s because big, strange things are afoot at the Circle K. Last we met, I was living somesundogtimes in Brooklyn, but mostly on an airplane, working at a beer company. Today, I sit in an apartment in San Francisco, working for a silicon valley media company, and petting a gigantic black labrador (squee!). Rocky dog!

As it happens, I actually have been knitting. I travel roughly the same amount as the last gig, if not more, but mostly domestic travel (and lots back to NY, which is nice).

Am  I getting better? I think so? I tried more interesting things in the past two years, and in 2012 I made my first non-accessories item that I’d actually wear. SF doesn’t have the selection of yarn shops that NY or even Brooklyn does, but two stand out as pretty solid: Atelier Yarns, on Divisadero in what I suppose is Lower Pac Heights or maybe Laurel Heights? They also have a bigger store in Marin. Small, but super helpful and a decent selection of books and patterns. They tend to carry more premium yarn brands (rabbit fur yarn!) and the prices can be steep. The other good shop is ImagiKnit in the Mission, which is huge and has a big selection of all kinds of yarn, from the cheapie to the cashmere.

And now let me make the usual overtures to myself that are tied up with New Years Resolutions, that is, I will blog more, remember to photograph more, knit more etc. et alia. blabbity blah. Give me your paw and let’s shake on it.

 

Mitts and Ass.

I am not talking about the Mormon wonder.

Several months ago, I responded to a blog post from one of my favorite yarn shops in Brooklyn, Stitch Therapy. Maxcine is a phenomal instructor, yarn procurer and nice lady, and every other Sunday night, she holds knit alongs or sessions on a topic. This particular one was for learning the Magic Loop, which I’d read and heard about before, but never really understood. In addition to the joy of being held in Maxcine’s shop, the class featured cool local ladies and the inHappy AND Angryimitable Kris Percival, author of Knit Knack Kit and other tomes.

Here’s my opinion of Magic Loop – it only gets magical after 8 rows. It is really challenging for that first part! But I learned, via Maxcine and Kris, a mitten pattern called Chevalier, which is available for free on Knitty (click the link for the pattern). This feels like my first foray into potential Fair Isle territory, which is terrifying and exciting all at the same time. Like Ralph Wiggum, seen to the left, I’m happy AND angry about it.

Anyway, I made two pairs, a gray pair which I promptly lost, and a fuzzy white pair using Martha Stewart’s line of craft yarn from Lion Brand in Alpaca Wool.

I gave it to my friend Devon for the holidays – Devon who is a tiny person with very petite hands. I think she uses them as oven mitts, seriously. But anyway, second time around to knit the somewhat complex pattern ensured that it was nearly flawless! Nearly. Now I patiently wait for some of her famous Gougeres right out of the oven.

 

 

Holidaze Part 3: Jackson Redux

I’m mostly posting this just so you can see an Elf Hat in action. The lovely and talented Sarah was kind enough to don an elf hat on her infant son, Jackson, who is also a neighbor. She swung by last weekend during our football playoffs extravaganza (go NY, go SF). Sadly all the babies I knit this hat for grew out of it almost instantly, but Jackson got a photo in edgewise.

jackson elf hat
Jackson Elf

Holidaze 2: Elf Hat Edition

Man, what’s cuter than babies at Christmas? Nothing. What’s creepier than naked Santas in a Finnish nightmare about the legend of Santa Claus, aka Rare Exports?

Creepy Naked Santa

Me, crazy old lady, the only non-breeder in Park Slope, knitting things for my friends adorable childrens.

Hopefully I’m not as creepy as him. Actually he’s not even Santa. But watch the movie, it’s adorably creepy and very Spielbergian. In the best way possible.

In any case, I found a great pattern that inspired me to knit for the babies Ryan, Jackson, Barrett and Jacob. Best thing about knitting for babies? It takes about 2 seconds, or one long flight across the country or to another country (except eastern Canada). Actually, I take that back…I might have completed one to and from Toronto. Elf Hat with Effect

Elf Hat, Side ViewHow cute did this turn out? I got the yarn at Seaport, using hand dyed Malabrigo Silky Merino in Natural and Ravelry Red. I doubled the yarn to get the best effect and it worked great (I used size 7 round and DPNs as well). Cute as pie and fun. Will post some photos of the kids wearing them; the pattern comes in several sizes for several size baby craniums.

Holidaze

So, the holidays have come and gone but I did do a bit of work prior to ensure that I had some home-knitted things to give. Mostly, babies of friends since roughly 90% of my friends had babies this fall. And they are, by far, the cutest snuggle buns ever.

Snugglie Ryan Mae

First, Miss Ryan, who is the longest, palest string bean this side of Jack and the Beanstalk. She was something like the 130% percentile in height, and if they did the same for white-ness, she would achieve that too. I made her a baby blanket using String Yarns pattern and their yarn as well.

In 2007, I joined String Direct, their pattern program, where they’d send you a pattern of the month and give you a discount on the yarn used in the pattern. Cool idea, right? Except my grandma must have thought these patterns frump-o-matic. The only redeemable patterns were the Origami jacket (more to come on that front) and the baby blanket, which looked so cool and cozy. I also wanted to buy the right yarn, so I trekked up to the upper east side and bought the yarn – holey moley. Beautiful yarn, but my god, will it give me eternal life? Why so esspensive? My husband said I have some essplainin to do.

I bought it in off white, and it took a few long trips to South America and such to finish, but I did do it in time for her baby shower. Turned out great, and hopefully is something little Ryan Mae will enjoy! Or at least, not vomit directly on it. On purpose.

Additionally, I thought that my godchild would like toys. Soon, I am going to introducmorelastminute copye her to the wonders of Lego, but I figured a newborn would probably like something soft and squishy. In More Last Minute Gifts, from the awesome

Ryan's bunny
Ryan’s bunny

Joelle Hoverson of the awesome Soho yarn shop Purl, there is an utterly adorable and sweet pattern for vintage toys. I made the bunny. I hope my little lovey Ryan loves it as much as I loved knitting it. I’d never done this before and it was awesome!

 

Lacey Throws, Exotic Dancer

My husband used to joke about a guy I used to work with, whose name, when said aloud, seemed to command the title, “Male Prostitute.” I never knew what the reference was, and I imagine he’s probably forgot it anyway. But one always seems to stumble upon great names that requires another great employment title. Trapper John, MD, is a good example. My best friend grew up in Orange County and knew a “Thomas Thomas”, or Tom Tom, and the inimitable Becky Doubledee, who was also lucky enough to have a giant DD sized set of cans.

In the same fashion, my husband often applies those sorts of titles to the knitting projects I’m working on at any given time. This particular project began with a visit to Seaport Yarns in the financial district, where I used to work and would often spend a quick 20 minutes or so during a slightly slow afternoon, whenever that happened. Seaport Yarns is a great store – lots of selection, and the lady who runs it is incredibly knowledgeable about yarn and gauge and all that crap. For example, I was looking for a Tahki Stacey Charles, and she suggested an alternative yarn, which has since become a favorite with me: Plymouth Yarns. The Baby Alpaca Grand, which is, of course, a chunky yarn, is so soft and delightful and much easier and less essspensive than the TSC, it was an easy choice. Plus, she had lots of nice colors at Seaport, and I selected a pretty dark heather gray, color 403, to make my Lacey Throws. The pattern was found easily and for free on Ravelry as the Happy Birthday Throw, by Emily Ivey, using Lion Brands Thick & Quick…to be continued in the next post.

But for now I give you the Happy Birthday, Lacey Throws, you naughty thing, you’re soft and comfy, and while you do tend to leave some lint on the couch, I like you anyway. You were fast and fun.

The Year of Living Dangerously Super Bulky – 2011 in Review

Emma, 1996 Gwyneth Paltrow“Badly done, Emma!” I have been a poor blogger these many months, but since it is the end of the year, and the last time I updated this blog was roughly a year ago, it seems good to recap the knittings etc.

A new job, with global responsibilities (and thus long plane flights – so far no one has restricted knitting needles, even the Ukraine) has taken a bite out of knitting, but oddly enough, not as much as the last job. If I could find a one-word theme for knitting in 2011, it was “chunky”. Pretty much goes for me too, but mostly on the yarn side.

Why do I like this yarn? It’s intensely satisfying to knit up – so fast, so easy, I actually don’t mind knitting with big needles (all the way up to 19). It’s usually on the softer side, it’s cozy, and I don’t see it as being more expensive per gram or hank or anything (although I don’t do much math when it comes to purchasing). The downside: everything I knit sucks as a finished product, exceptions being scarves, some kinds of hats, and blankets. I would like to graduate beyond that, but if I had a second theme for 2011, it would be the unraveling of finished projects that never went anywhere, that is, projects I either never wore myself or didn’t think worthy to gift to another person. Even now, looking at the posts from 2010 here, I have been in love with super bulky yarn for a long time. First was buying Twinkle‘s books and then her yarn, and I did graduate a bit to bulk/super bulky in Lion Brand Yarn after they opened a cool NYC showroom. I highly recommend shopping there, by the by.

My 2012 knitting resolution: divorce yourself from super bulky! Be not tempted by the quick and easy path! To the dark side! Sorry, it’s Christmastime and my darling husband is out, so I’m watching Star Wars while knitting and drinking.  And, as Jane Austen said, “I am afraid that the pleasantness of an employment does not always evince its propriety.”

In no particular order, the next couple of posts will feature highlights of my Chunky year. And thus, my path to learning finished objects that are *not* chunky begins…you must unlearn what you have learned:

Stash Bustin’

twinkle's weekend knits bookIt’s technically spring (although you wouldn’t know it from the NYC weather we’ve been enjoying), and with a little hint of a temperature close to 50 degrees, I have a hankering for a spring cleanup. This also means spring cleanup of my yarn, which is a Sargasso Sea of crap that I hide behind our couch in the den. It’s like a scene from a horror movie when people come over and accidentally peek behind the couch.  I can’t even post a photo – this is a family blog.

So, in addition to taking stock of current yarn and tossing some crap I can’t remember purchasing, let alone remembering why I purchased it, I took a look at some old finished projects I abhor and never wear. One was a huge sweater from Twinkle’s Weekend Knits, a great book with lovely items made for tiny, skinny women. Every time I don a super bulky sweater made with yarn of the same, the effect is sausage-like. So, I undid an old sweater made from a couple of hanks of Twinkle’s super bulky and figured I’d knit up some accessories right quick. That is a huge benefit of bulky yarn – for people without patience, it’s a godsend.

So, with hanks of Twinkle’s Soft Chunky (bulky weight) in Icy Blue and Kelly Green (which doesn’t appear available on the Classic Elite yarns website, oddly), I made two hats and a cowl, I guess it’s a cowl?

broccoli shroom hat
Broccoli Shroom Hat

The first hat was from a pattern in Knitty called the Shroom hat, ostensibly due to the close comparison to a mushroom. They were careful to men

tion a particular kind of bulky yarn, but I threw caution to the wind and used Twinkle. The result is pretty cute, but the bright green made it seem more broccoli than mushroom. Either way, if you don’t think specifically about broccoli, it’s an okay/wearable hat.

Second up, on Ravelry I saw a cool cowl made with bulky yarn in a nice acid greeny/yellow, called the wham bam thank you ma’am neckwarmer, I believe because it’s made quite quickly. I made it with the icy blue chunky yarn. It’s warm, bodering on hot, when you’re wearing it but hey, it does get cold around here sometimes. I bet it’s probably

chunky cowl
Chunky cowl in icy blue

pretty good for skiing. It’s currently being modeled on my cupcake plate! One problem to solve for the future, I didn’t do a great job of hiding the knots where I needed to join pieces of yarn together. Hmm.

Lastly, I just threw together yet another version of the Urchin hat from Twinkle’s Weekend Knits. It’s cute and floppy, but beret-like so it looks fairly polished for work. The green is a nice bold energetic color and I think it works. I wore a version I made in a very light gray for most of this past winter. And now, I’ve gotten rid of all my green and a big portion of the blue. A small victory in stash busting.

urchin beret
Urchin beret in kelly green

…and I in my (1897) cap

I came home from a long day’s work to find my fabulous husband not only cleaned our house (and took out the trash), but bought a Christmas tree, decorated it, and strung lights on our non-working fireplace. He is a prince among men, truly. So it’s fitting that I  finished the hat that I did tonight, as we watch Avatar on our tv under the glow of multicolored lights and the afterglow of Zinfandel. I completed my 1897 cap.

tree happy 2010
O Tannenbaum

I say the 1897 cap because it is reminiscent of this very cool version of Twas the Night Before Christmas that my parents always read me on Christmas Eve. I can’t find the illustration, but the “mama in her kerchief, and I in my cap, had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap…” had this old guy with a long, trippy cap and an actual nightgown.

Unfortunately for me, I was trying to make a beret. On Ravelry, I found this cool All Day Beret pattern, and the left and right diagonal stitches are quite nice. I cast on 54 stitches (you need a multiple of 4 for the pattern), and while that was fine from a gauge perspective, I didn’t use the larger needles once I finished the ribbed brim, and thus it never really ballooned out quite the way a beret should.

1897 hat
All-Day Beret that is actually an 1897 hat

So, next time I’m going to increase the brim to 58, and way increase the beginning of the actual hat, like to maybe 80 or something. By the by, I’m using a lovely Plymouth Yarn called Paca Tweed in color #100. It’s sort of an oatmeal color with flecks of charcoal and caramel. I doubled the yarn to get gauge and it was still pretty soft. Greg is nicely modeling it in this photo here, he liked it even though it was an 1897 hat vs. the expected beret.