Monday, March 23, 2009

I love this vest in the Classic Elite Yarns Spring 2009 Round Pond pattern book.

And it just so happen to have 9 balls of Reynolds Soft Linen in my stash that I rescued from the sale bin at Unravel last Monday. It's not the same Soft Linen that the pattern calls for, but pretty close and would knit up into a nice summer garment.


I also have 6 100 yard skeins of this lovely stuff, gifted to me from a very dear friend via another dear friend. It's 100% wool from (guessing) the 60's or 70's and in one of the prettiest shades of purple I could ever wish for. hmmm... maybe a vest for fall?

Well I have plenty of time to think it over before it's time to start. I am currently working away on the Puff Sleeve Femme Cardigan I began last Friday, after my bout with cast on fever!

You know what I did? I ended up casting on the same old way I always have, the trusty long tail! and I also ended up going up one needle size for the cast on row, just like I always do, and it came out perfect. I was very happy! I got the best result when I used an aluminum needle just to do the cast on, then knit the first row onto my circulars. The aluminum is a bit more slippery than my circular plastic set and I think that friction was giving me the problem. The aluminum allows my cast on stitches to flow fluidly onto the needle.

I'm really happy with this pattern, too. I've only knit the collar and yoke so far, but I am finding Stefanie Japel's directions to be quite clear and easy to follow. I like how it's working up and I can see why everyone raves about her fabulous patterns!

Oh, can I talk about one more thing?
This weekend, Stefanie's going to be teaching at workshop at Unravel, the LYS where I work, for her Textured Circle Shrug from Glam Knits.

I won't be able to sit in on the class (because I'll be working) but at least I'll be able to hang out in the shop and see what everyone makes! You can contact Unravel for class times and price at (575) 647-1181.

Friday, March 20, 2009

casting on... and on... and on...

Happy Spring! I was going to post today about the new spring-y top I am making, but, of course, it isn't finished yet. Here's a work-in-progress photo.

The pattern is an original Suzy Smalls design and the fabric is Cherry Blossom Geisha by Lonni Rossi for Andover Fabrics. I really can't wait til it's done and on my body but in the meantime I've got a bunch of other projects going and in spite of that, I've cast on another.

I'm excited to be making the Puff Sleeved Feminine Cardigan from Stefanie Japel's first book Fitted Knits. Like all of Stefanie's sweaters it's a top-down knit, which I really like. It just make sense to start at the neck and work your way down, (rather than knit a bunch of separate pieces and sew them together later) and also makes it easier to try on during the knitting process, guaranteeing the perfect fit. Anyway, I decided to cast on for this cute cardigan this morning and that's about as far as I got. I ended up casting on several times, different ways, to see which one worked and I liked best. Here's what I tried and where I was having issues:

Long tail cast on:
I like this method, but find that my long tail cast on edge often looks sloppy and uneven. When the edge is at the bottom of a sweater or along the brim of a hat (which will be stretched) I can usually get over this and don't even notice when it's done, BUT since this edge is going to be on the collar, I feel it will be a bit more noticable and needs to look good! so I tried some other ways...

Cable Cast on and Knitted Cast on:
I see a lot of knitters use a knitted cast on and I found it was very easy and made a lot of sense to my fingers. The cable cast on not so much -- I think I cast on too tightly for this method. The only trouble I had with the knitted cast on was that, since I tend to cast on tight, I upped the needle size (I do this all the time with the long tail cast on) that way my fist row of stitches isn't impossible to knit. This seemed to leave my first row looking, well, a little hole-y. too loose perhaps??

I don't know.... am I making too big a deal out of the this? I probably am. When the entire sweater is knit and done and worn over a cute little summer dress will I really be looking at the collar in the mirror thinking "oh my golly, what a horrible cast on!!!!" or will it all just blend in and look ok and probably have bigger mistakes that overshadow it anyway (haha).

Either way this was a fun chance to learn some different cast on methods.
What cast on do you prefer? When do you find one works well over another? share your thoughts if you wish. I'd love to hear them!

In the meantime, enjoy the first day of spring!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

socks that rock!


I am psyched to have knit my first pair of socks! I found that they were surprisingly... easy. I don't usually like knitting things in pairs, but socks were so much fun to do and magical to create, that I looked forward to turning another heel!

One thing that made these socks really wonderful to knit was the bigger gauge and size 7 needles. You only need to cast on 40 sts and can work in almost any worsted weight yarn. I chose Berroco's Comfort for it's machine-washability (50% nylon and 50% acrylic or something like that) and for the value (210 yards for $5.99!), but am surprisingly happy with how soft this yarn is and easily it knits up! I also chose to knit the socks with very little, well ok, no, leg. I started with a simple 1" cuff then jumped right into the heel flap without fear, making for a cozy little slipper style sock that takes little time to stitch.

There are so many important knitting skills involved with socks, which is mainly the reason I wanted to learn to make them. Picking up stitches, knitting short rows, grafting with the kitchner stitch and not to mention decreasing with both ssk and k2tog, though the toughest thing about knitting socks may just be the double pointed needles! They're my biggest weakness, but I am getting better only with practice.

If you are interested in learning to knit socks, I recommend a class, since a lot of the steps make more sense when you see them demonstrated in person. (This sock class is offered at Unravel Yarn Shop in Las Cruces.) If you feel daring you could give this pattern a try... and keep a book like Stitch and Bitch or Knit Aid on hand because that has answers to everything!

Happy knitting and good luck!

I am completely in love with the pattern books from Classic Elite Yarns. Not only do I want to knit everything I see, but I also admire the styling, photography and classic settings that these girls are in. Here's a peek at St. Johns Bay, one of their Summer 2009 books.

Doesn't this feel like the perfect New England summer? Oh, how I'll miss the Northeast this year. The desert is going to get hot, hot, hot!