Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Fave Fibres

When I started knitting, I began with acrylic, because it was cheap and came in a load of fun colours. I was also drawn to fuzzy and eyelash yarns, which I'm really not a fan of anymore (I prefer something smooth that lets me see what I'm doing). Of course, while acrylic has its merits - in my experience it makes a fairly decent blanket - it's not the greatest, especially if you crave definition and want to do fun things like lace and intricate stitch patterns. It can't really be blocked, so if shape is an issue, it's not really the best choice.

I still like cotton, but I've realised that while it is good for some things, it's not for everything (again, see definition and shape issues; also, elasticity). I'm learning how to use it to the best of its ability (for e.g., I was thinking of using it to make a Caliometry, but when I realised that it would be floppy and not really hold shape, I gave up the idea. However, it worked for the Lana and Clark ascot, though probably not as well as it would have with the recommended fibre).

Which brings me to wool. I think I still have a holdover from my youth, where I think of wool as an itchy, annoying thing that overheats me and makes me feel yucky when I wear it. The more I work with it, though, the more I love it. It shows stitch definition, it's springy and elastic, it's lovely and warm, and it's just so very, very cosy! (Sometimes there's some residual itchiness but I'll imagine that it's more psychological at this point than actual.) Sure, I also love alpaca and other protein fibres, and I haven't really had the experience with plant fibres that I want to have, but for now I'm going to boldly go out on a limb and declare myself a wool woman. I reserve the right to change my opinion, but at least for today, I ♥ Wool!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Long Time No See!

Hi, blog-world. It has been approximately forever since I posted here, though I have still been knitting fairly steadily (or at least trying!).

Here's a list of stuff I've made lately:

* two Calorimetries - one in varigated blue wool for my friend Stephanie, and one in grey wool for myself. I remember when I first saw the pattern - pretty much every knitting person I knew online had crafted one, and all I could think was "what the hell are short rows?!". If only I had realised that it was as simple as following the instructions and not being freaked out by the small holes from the turns! Well, I know now, and I hope to make several for my friends for winter.

* Vickie Howell's Lana and Clark Ascot, in green/white cotton, for my friend Bre's birthday. I opted out of the picot edging (I found it a little tricky on my practice piece, and I didn't want to wreck the real thing in order to try it), though I hope to give it a whirl soon. I was pleased with how the seaming turned out when I sewed the two pieces together - I've never really understood "mattress stitch" - but it worked out! I intend on making another one in the suggested fibre - bamboo/silk sounds so luxurious. I might try wool, also.

Here's a list of stuff I have attempted to try lately:

* entrelac

Entrelac looks glam and exciting, but in execution is a difficult pain in the arse. I will not be deterred! I know it can happen. I was using this tutorial, though I had difficulty understanding the instructions. I am going to try again with the scarf pattern Danica. One way or another, I am going to get it!

Here's a list of upcoming projects:

* the Lacy Hug-Me-Tight from Mel Clark and Tracy Ullmann's knitting book, "Knit 2 Together". As mentioned in my last, long-ago post, I showed the pattern to a co-worker who was looking for something small and lacy to wear over her dress at her son's wedding, and she fell in love with it immediately. I translated the written instructions in the book into chart form, and after a bit of practice found the lace easier than it looks (not so easy that I can do it without the chart, though!). Here are the specifics of what we settled on:

Modifications: after much discussion about fibre, and my swatching with actual alpaca silk, we decided to go with mercerized cotton - it is much cheaper and while I had my doubts about the feel of the finished product, it is actually softer than expected and holds the shape of the lace well. Also, she decided that she wanted the body of the shrug to be much shorter than shown in the pattern, which shouldn't pose too much of a challenge.

My problems: I need another long circular needle for the body of the shrug - and I'm not sure what size needle I need yet. Also, I don't know how to back up and fix lace when I drop a stitch. There is also the small matter of knowing how long to knit the lace, since I am modifying the size of the body of the shrug. If I can ever stop procrastinating (she needs the shrug for October), I'll figure these minor details out!

* Eloping for my friend Jo. When we talked about what I should knit for her late spring/early summer wedding, we went over the option of having me knit a garter. I was sure I could probably design something, and then I visited Knitty.com recently and lo and behold, I found this delicious little confection. I have to ask her what colour and find the perfect non-handspun (since I don't actually spin... yet?). I'll put that on the to-do list.

Here's a list of things I want to make:

* How awesome does Seascape look? It's so beautiful! I have no idea if I can pull it off, but it's definitely on the "dream list".

Here's a list of knitting books I have seen recently and coveted:

* 101 Designer One-Skein Wonders by Judith Durant
* Kitty Knits: Projects for Cats and their People by Donna Druchunas
* Knitalong: Celebrating the Tradition of Knitting Together by Larissa Golden Brown and Martin John Brown

...and that, my lovelies, is all for now. I think I'm going to stop procrasting and learn some entrelac!