Tuesday, August 29, 2006

*Birthday* Fun

That's right, you read right, it's that time of year again. I was going to let the birthday announcement slide on the blog, but then some of my knitting girls decided to spoil me and I couldn't not mention that. I promised my next post would be about my knitting projects, but between projects for work, surprising Michelle, seeing Cynthia off, and oh yeah, celebrating my birthday!
Yep, that's right. My knitty girls took me out to dinner last Friday, then spoiled me with yarn and a gift certificate to one of my favorite LYS', Colorful Yarns.

So I've been a bit busy, eh? My actual birthday was this Sunday, August 27th, but we celebrated early, M and I on Saturday evening as M2 was at his mother's, which meant a kid-free night out. I had to take advantage of that. I was a bit pooped from a presentation I did for work, which freaked me out just the tiniest bit, but it was okay and I lived through it, so it was a low-key weekend for me. I thought about posting, but then I just wanted to enjoy the weekend, so the posting happened today instead.

I had a most enjoyable weekend, which was kicked off by the girls: Jeni, Stacey, Kim, Michaele and Tiffany, all taking me to dinner at an Italian restaurant, where we had such a good time eating and hanging out with each other. Then I was gifted with some lovely things. Stacey's mom, Marsha, gave me some Lorna's Laces sockweight yarn in the beautiful colorway Irving Hill, one that I've coveted! Thank you so much Marsha! And then the rest of the girls, including Nachaele who was working on closing on their new home!, Cynthia (who is sadly now relocated to Boston for school, all you Boston knitters that read my blog, go meet up with her now, one of the coolest girls you can know), and Michelle, who was gone to get married!, all chipped in to give me a skein of Lorna's Laces laceweight, Helen's Lace in the Lakeview colorway and a gift certificate to Colorful! Thank you so much girls! I was so overwhelmed. Any gift of yarn is always appreciated, but Helen's Lace and a gift certificate. And no, Stacey, I haven't spent it already either. I'm going to let the gift certificate simmer for awhile and think of what I'd like to do with it. No hurry as I have plenty of yarn.

The second picture below is a beautiful bouquet my sweetie surprised me with on Saturday.

It was a great weekend and wonderful way to spend my birthday. Really, more on knitting in the post to follow, possibly as early as tomorrow! ;-)

Monday, August 21, 2006

FO Report: Ribby Shell

It's been so pleasing to me to finish this project. This is a project that I've absolutely loved and I adore wearing it. It is a Ribby Shell from the inimitable Bonne Marie. This is really one of my favorite patterns and I can see me making more of them. I can see 2 or 3 yarns I have that this would be perfect in. Especially some of the Elann yarns they're always having on sale for the summer, hmm.

This pattern does give you options as far as a flat front version with ribbing on the sides, or allover ribbed. I opted to make the flat front version and I just adore it.
Also, I played around with some features of my photo editing tool, so today you get sepia tone as I liked the result. Plus, the lighting when the pictures were taken pretty much sucked, so I think makes a nice difference. And the yarn was a crisp, cream color that pretty much shows through. When I get home, I'll upload a pic in color just to show the true color, if anyone cares.
Ribby Shell from the front:

And the back view:

Project specs:
Start date: June 9th-July 29th
Yarn used: Classic Elite Believe (cream color)6 skeins
Version: flat front, ribbed sides, 39" size
Needles: Size 7 (4.5 mm) needles
Notes: I loved, loved, loved this pattern. It was very clear and easy to understand. It is also well fitted and I'm very excited about that as well. I'm usually not a fan of bottom-up patterns, but this was simple and easy to do.

I put it down for a few weeks to do the V-neck shaping, mainly because I was knitting it at work and it's hard to pay attention to any details in between taking phone calls and I did have that period of insanity while knitting Seraphim that I couldn't knit anything else because I was so engrossed with it.

The only change I would make to the pattern, is that once I got to the back and the v-neck straps on the front, in future versions, I would leave those stitches on holders for the shoulder straps so that I could do a 3-needle bindoff. I'm not a fan of backstitching at all, so it's purely a personal preference, that and the fact that I completely suck at doing it. I've already worn it once and look forward to doing so again. This is something that is wearable for work as well as play and definitely doesn't look "hand" or "homemade". The yarn was interesting to work with, as it is a cotton/viscose blend and the yarn has funny slubby bits. I like how it worked up, but the slubs were a pain to knit with. I'm very pleased with how the pattern worked up and the yarn paired with it. I believe this yarn has been discontinued. I'm glad I chose this pattern to knit with it, as I believe seaming with this yarn would not have been pleasant. The slubs lend a bumpy quality that would have been difficult to seam with. Sewing in ends was already challenging.

Next up will be the knits I'm currently engaged in knitting. And there is more lace too . . .

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I've crossed the line

in my sock knitting. First of all, thanks to everyone who purchased yarn during my little yarn sale on the blog at the beginning of the month. Honestly, I didn't even think anyone would buy it and that it would end up on eBay, this was so much nicer. I appreciate it and hope that those who did buy yarn enjoy their purchases. I'm back from Atlanta and the family reunion in Louisiana, but I'll talk about that in a subsequent post.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about my knitting and the different things that I've knit and different types of items to knit in the future. It's always interesting to me to see how things like taste and personal preferences change over time. When I first learned to knit, I bought any and all yarn, just because. After I began really knitting, I shed the habits of Red Heart and acrylic in favor of more natural fibers. Now, I still prefer natural fibers, but I'm not against using acrylic or more likely, an acrylic blend, especially for babies.

Also figuring out what garments are attractive/suitable for me and different elements that I was scared to try or not interested in knitting and now finding that I'm enjoying some texture to my knitting, as well as my pure "stockinette love". Enjoying a bit of lace, trying to incorporate more texture and patterns as well as balancing the stockinette. My tastes have been changing.

Especially so in the case of my sock knitting. Shortly after I learned to knit, I fell in with a group of knitters that met 2x a month at the local Borders on Saturdays to knit. Some of those ladies were really into knitting socks and at first, I shunned it. But over time, I became fascinated by it and wanted to learn how to knit socks. I took a couple of mini-classes and a real class knitting a sock on dk-weight yarn. I soon learned that I didn't like dk or heavier weight socks for any reason. After that class, I cast on for a sock in sock-weight yarn. I was hooked. It took me 2 months to make that first set of socks, but I loved every moment of it. After that, I've always knit socks. Something about it fascinates me and at that time, sock yarns in self-striping yarns were all the rage, it was the NKOTB. Everyone raved about them and so wanting to be a cool kid too, I bought the self-striping yarn in spades, in lots of different patterns.

Now that I've been knitting for about 5 years and knitting socks for at least 4 1/2 years, the novelty that was self-striping sock yarns has long since worn off. I still have a few laying about, but I wonder if I will ever finish those. The other thing was that I chose very muted colors to knit my socks in. Socks that would match pants and outfits. I didn't want any of the "crazy" color combos and really for a time, my sock yarn collection was quite boring. Then after about a year, I started buying more colors, less browns and blues, but still not too wild and crazy. Purples were ok b/c I could still wear them with jeans. Don't you just hate that saying? Everything goes with jeans, but anyway, I digress.

As you knit socks and then later actually wear those socks, you begin to cross a line as well. You can be elegant and stylish with your dress and then handknit socks have no place in your wardrobe. Or you can go the hippy-crunchy-granola type and wear Birks with your socks, but that wasn't me either. However, I elected to always knit socks that would fit in my shoes, meaning sockweight socks and I wear my handknit socks with nice shoes, but not heels, obviously. And then a bit of the crazier colors always go well with boots.

Now, with my sock yarn shopping, I've completely crossed the line. I used to tell myself, there's no reason to buy 100% merino wool sock yarns, there's no nylon, nothing to keep those from wearing out. I've not yet had a pair of socks wear out and I do wear them constantly in rotation in the winter, but not necessarily every day. But now, I buy sock yarn all willy-nilly, wild with abandon and not necessarily to match an outfit, but because the color calls to me. Now more handpainted sock yarn that I dither with if I will ever make socks from them, or use it for some sort of shawl at some time in the future, who knows? But it's pretty and I know I will use them. Now I'm even getting over than and thinking this is gorgeous sock yarn and whose feet better deserve the pampering of 100% merino wool than mine? Why save this yarn for something special? What's more special than me? It's official, I've gone over the line.

FO alert:
Opal Docktorfish socks from the Rainforest collection:

Using Stitch-N-Snitch's Nancy Drew sock pattern These are shorter socks and I love them. The next pair of socks I make will probably be a smidge taller, perhaps 1/2-3/4" taller, but not by much. I *heart* these socks and once again, I'm copying Carola. I first saw these on her blog and they were so cute, I had to have the yarn.
Very basic stockinette socks, but the color is so pretty and cute to me.
Sz 1.5 Pony Pearl needles

I've finished these socks probably 3-4 weeks ago, but never got around to sewing in the last end and then washing them. So there you are.

The Ribby Shell was finished and returned to me this weekend, so expect another FO soon. I can't wait to wear this. One of my more favorite knits to date.

Below, are some of the sock yarns that helped me "cross-over"

Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn, one-of-a-kind colorway
Cherry Tree Hill

Lorna's Laces in Desert Flower colorway
Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock yarn

Ooh, I got some STR in lightweight, colorway, Peaseblossom
Socks That Rock

Austermann Step sock yarn (with aloe) in green (I also have some in orange/brown)
austermann step sock yarn green

And here's a pic of asstd. Opal and other crazy sock yarn stash
100g ball sock yarn stash

Now you see why I've crossed over and I'm very happy to be here, crazy sock knitting colors and all.