Monday, June 25, 2007

Shawl (stole) for Sonja

Pattern: Lacy Stole from the Lion Brand website (free registration required)
Yarn: Lion Brand Microspun in Ebony
Completed: March 2007
New skill: LACE!

I began this project in the spring of 2005 while I was on internship and looking for ways to decompress. I bought the yarn and began shawl-type projects for two of my closest friends, ideally for their 2005 birthdays. One was finished in time for that event and was featured here--Suzi's fake-fur capelet. This is the second one and became Sonja's 2007 birthday present.

This was a project I tended to work on from home rather than on airplanes and such, and it was long enough that it endured a few major hiatuses (hiati?). The pattern was definitely difficult at first. I learned quickly that making a mistake with lace was a pain in the butt to frog. And the whole thing, once I passed Sonja's 2005 birthday, seemed to be taking FOREVER to complete.

But once I got used to the pattern, I kind of got fond of it in that "you're difficult but I love you anyway" kind of way. Sort of like an unruly child, I imagine. When I measured it in March and realized with a jolt that it was practically finished, I just couldn't bear to bind it off right away. I didn't want to bid farewell to the pattern just yet. So I worked a few more repeats, said my goodbyes, and bound it off. Is that weird?

I opted to not block this, after much agonizing over whether or not it was worth it to try and block acrylic. It's not knit from laceweight mohair or anything, so it's not a little crinkly ball that doesn't look like lace until you block it. Microspun is slippery, sport/worsted weight, but very very soft. It looked pretty good from day one (once I got the pattern right). Finally I figured we can always block it later if Sonja wants (kind of like the post-gift-giving felting in Mom's birdhouse).

Anyway. It was a good first lace project, if a little long-winded, but having it be a straight rectangle made things simpler. It's now kind of a bummer though, to have your first lace project have such a ho-hum name as "Lacy Stole". Maybe I'll have to think of a cooler name.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Mystery FO

So, I finished something mysterious in March, something I'd been working on for about two years, something that was a whole new genre of knitting for me to explore, something I'm quite proud of.

But I can't tell you what it is, because chances are good the intended recipient will have her surprise spoiled by reading about it here. (It's on its way to her now.)

Need a hint? Look at the top of the page, at the photo on the far right.

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Birdhouse for Mom

Pattern: Felted Birdhouse from Fiber Trends (scroll down the side to "Felt Bird Houses")
Yarn: Brown Sheep "Lamb's Pride" Bulky combo of wool and mohair in Blue Heirloom and Deep Charcoal
Completed: April 2007
New skill: Felting, knitting in the round with circulars

I'd been wanting to try felting for a while, and this seemed like a good project to start with. It didn't have to fit anyone in particular when it was done. It was fairly simple to knit (once I figured out how to knit in the round with two circulars, yay!). It didn't matter if it was too heavy or hot. Great, off we go. The yarn was lovely-feeling, if a bit pricey.

I finished it just in time for my trip home after Easter, but didn't have time to felt it before Mom's birthday. So I just wrapped it up as-is and thought it would be fun to give it to her beforehand, and then felt it there, so she could see the transformation.

She opened it up, tried to wear the roof as a hat, tried to wear the house as a neckwarmer, but eventually I stopped laughing and explained what it was. Then it was her turn to laugh and be skeptical, but she was up for the challenge.

We carefully felted the pieces in separate pillowcases (after reading about Yarn Harlot's mishap with Mr. Washie). The felting went FAST! Only one wash cycle and it was almost done. We felted it a bit more for good measure, then propped the pieces up to dry properly. After a few days, we cut the hole and Mom went out and found a twig, and I carefully sewed the roof on with a curved needle (this was very tricky. Good thing the stitches are hidden). I love how the roof makes it look like a funky mushroom.

Voila! A knitted decorative birdhouse, to add to Mom's collection. And the best part is, she remembers the fun time we had making it together whenever she sees it. Highly recommended.

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Scarf for Stephenie

Pattern: "Yo, Drop It!" from Stitch n' Bitch
Yarn: Moda Dea Ticker Tape in Festival
Completed: April 9, 2007

I picked this yarn up at Michael's a while ago when it was on sale. It's a beautiful sunset kind of palette and I really liked it. Of course ribbon yarn is hard to use, but I remembered this pattern and so it was paired with this yarn for a few years while it waited patiently in the stash.

Originally I was thinking it would make a good, quick birthday present for Grandma sometime. But my cousin-in-law also has a birthday in April (that makes four of us in the family), very close to my birthday and Mom's birthday, so when I planned to head home this year after Easter, Mom planned a birthday party for the three of us. What can I give her? I thought. Aha! I answered myself, realizing that such a color scheme was better suited for Steph anyways.

At some point, Steph asked Mom to de-emphasize her at the party, which was fine, but I still had this scarf for her...I finished it on the plane (made a great, easy, portable plane project) and gave it to her discreetly before she left the party. It was a hit...the ribbon yarn means it's not very warm, more of an accessory, and perfect for spring. Part of me wanted to keep it!

This knits up really nice and fast with all the drop stitches, and does show off the yarn color changes really well. The yarn is fairly soft, especially for ribbon yarn, but a few rough spots on my hands did keep catching it. Still, I'd recommend it.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Sweater for Danielle

Pattern: five-hour baby sweater (there are a million patterns out there if you Google it--I got a printout of one of these patterns from the local art co-op)
Little Lehigh in Sleepyhead
Completed: February 2007

This baby sweater is MUCH EASIER than the last one (which is already considered easy). The person at Clicking Needles suggested I use a double strand throughout, which created this really nice springy soft fabric that wasn't too heavy. The pattern is pretty plain, but I've seen more elaborate versions of the pattern since that might be good for a second go-round.

I really like Little Lehigh. It's produced locally, it's washable, it's a combo of cotton and acrylic, it's nice and soft and squooshy, and the colors are not too sickly pale or overdone. They are typical baby colors, but there's another version of the same yarn with a different name that has more grownup colors. I've added two skeins in green to the stash for when a fellow UO alum has a child.

After the tricky but cute hippo buttons on Lucia's sweater, I opted to put cute lavender ladybug buttons on this sweater but use them to cover up large snaps that can be easily fastened by parents on a squirming child. Good trick. Must remember. And no need to remember to knit in buttonholes. Everyone wins!

Dani is the daughter of one of my colleague friends and his wife, and they really appreciated this because a.) it's not pink, and b.) it doesn't say "princess" in any way, shape or form. They'd really like her to grow up to be a tomboy, and heartily approve of the ladybug buttons. I actually completed this and gave it to them well before she was born. I just met her...what a beautiful, mellow, charming, Zen little baby. It was a pleasure to knit for her.

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Sweater for Lucia

Pattern: CH33 "Baby Brights" by Fiber Trends (scroll down the side to find it)
Cascade 220 Superwash, color 837 (I think)
Completed: January 2007
NEW SKILL: wrap and turn, joining sleeves into a sweater body

I happened to see a sample of this pattern in the local art co-op, and thought it seemed like a good first knit baby sweater. I've since discovered much easier patterns, but am glad that I took the time to get comfortable with this one. It was my first project with raglan sleeves and using this small of a needle (I have a bit of a phobia about small needles). But I liked that you knit the button band in with everything else, and knit in the buttonholes, and didn't have a ton of seams to do.

I was looking for a project for Lucia, the daughter of my friends Anke and Chris from seminary. Never mind that I was a bit late (Lucia was born in August 2006). I decided to make this in the 12-month size and just hope that it would still fit her and not fit her just when it was summer and not needed.

I think next time I'd go for making this in the smaller size, as the smaller needles and larger size (and fairly simple pattern, apart from the raglan shaping etc.) meant that at times it seemed to go on and on forever. The sleeves almost look too long (although I suppose you can always roll them up). Plus I think I'd not put the buttonholes in there, and instead put big snaps and cover them with buttons. Probably a lot easier for parents! But it felt really good to finish this and gave me a good sense of accomplishment.

(Oh, and the buttons are little purple hippos. Cute!)

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Neckwarmer for Edie

Pattern: from Barbara S. at First Lutheran in Vancouver
Jo-Ann Sensations Angel Hair in Denim Blue
Completed: sometime just before Christmas 2006

This should look familiar to you if you've read any back entries of Needlin'...I made this exact neckwarmer with the exact same yarn for my grandma the Christmas beforehand. It took a skein and a half of yarn, so I just bought another skein and used it all up to make another one.

It seemed appropriate to reprise Grandma's neckwarmer for Edie, as she is my delightful first-rate neighbor and very much a grandmotherly figure to me and to the whole neighborhood. She tells the juiciest stories about previous pastors, makes a mean scone, and always collects my mail when I'm away. Bless her heart.

Still not happy with the button choice here, though. Tried larger ones and it still isn't quite right.

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