19 December 2006

Now for something completely different

It has been all too exciting this Fall/Winter. The Northwest had a terrible windstorm 14 Dec. Neighbors around us have trees on the rooftops. Fortunately for us (although is did not seem so fortunate at the time), we had a 140-foot Douglas Fir drop a 20+ foot branch (spear) right into the master bedroom on Monday night, awaking us with a thud:

Inside View of the branch that landed in the master bedroom Monday night:

Rude Awakaning

Outside view of said branch:

Outside view

As a result, I got right on it and had three very large trees that were on the other side of our backyard dropped before the major windstorm of the decade hit (the workers were working their chainsaw magic right until the storm would not let them work any longer.)

Here is a photo of the trees that were removed (taken the day after the storm). You see a portion of the 140-foot Doug fir down:

140' Doug Fir DOWN

Of the three that were removed, the 100' Cedar (pictured below) was actually rotten and would have most likely deposited itself on our house had is not been removed. That's our fence on the left of the felled trees.

Hollow Cedar tree, it was over 100 feet tall!

So dear knitter, we were without power for 4 days. When the roads were finally clear, and I could get out,  the FIRST place I went to was....my local YARN SHOP, of course.

I'll be sharing what comes from that soon.

10 December 2006

Fall 06 Knitting

We had a spell of really cold weather (and no power to boot for over a day). Knitting seemed the smartest thing to do to keep warm. Here are some recently finished projects:
(note: as fast as I am, I did not do all the following projects in those 33 hours without power.)

Picture of my knitting motivation (or, why we were without power) - shot from my backyard in the Pacific Northwest:

Knitted Wrap
This is simplest of wraps to knit. Simply choose two or more of your favorite yarns. Buy the same length of each. Cast on (VERY LOOSELY) a lot of stitches (I cast on 170, size 10.5 needles). Leaving a long tail (12+ inches), knit one row, break the yarn leaving a long tail on the other end (12+ inches). Next row: knit with yarn #2, leaving a long tail (12+ inches), knit with the second yarn to the end, break the yarn leaving a long tail on the other end (12+ inches). I assume you are getting the rhythm here.  You will knit the wrap lengthwise, creating a self fringe-as-you-go. Every sixth row, tie off the fringe. The whole wrap is the knit stitch, alternate your yarns with each row. You are done when you are out of yarn. Trim the fringe to an even length. Oh, cast off REALLY loosely.

What I like: this is light as air, is knit with amazing yarn, and the two yarns together look totally different than individually.
What I don't like: I ran out of yarn before it was as wide as I would like it to have been. So it ended up more like a  Warf (wrap/scarf). Can you find the errant row? As I was knitting in low light (remember, no power) I knit one row from the wrong end, making a row of stockinette instead of garter. I didn't see the row until I had bound off. Damn, damn, damn.
Yarn used: A fab mohair, of which I cannot find the label and 250g of Fleece Artist Hand Dyed kid/silk 2 ply. (This link shows you the type of yarn, but it looks like the orange/yellow colorway is no longer available.) The fleece artist skein was a double skein, and cost $42. USD. The mohair was expensive too, thus due to budget, this was as wide as it was gonna be.

Narrow wrap - Garter Stitch Shawl - Silk, Wool, and Mohair

kid/silk/mohair wrap closeup

Hats and Scarves
After mixing it up with the kid/mohair wrap, I thought it would be fun to mix and match some of the novelty yarn I have in the stash. (Remember when we all purchased a ton of that stuff, thinking it would make cool scarves? Then we decided that natural fibers were better, and are consequently stuck with a stash of fake fiber.) The following was my attempt to reduce my fake fiber stash:

Pillbox hat: 1 strand novelty bobble yarn (microfiber) + 1 strand Lion Suede + 1 strand of a microfiber yarn, dk weight. Knit from the top down in the round on two circulars about size 11 needles, using the "don't swatch" method, knit in stockinette stitch with a few rounds of purl rounds for contrast. Cast off with i-cord finish (won't do that again, it pulls in.)
Scarf: 1 strand novelty fuzzy yarn "Blush" + 1 strand elann peruvian wool, sport weight. Stitch is 1 row knit, the next row, *YO, K2tog* +  a couple of edge stitches.
Final verdict: The hat is too bright for me, and the novelty yarn is just too novel. The scarf is a keeper.

pillbox hat and scarf

close up

Next hat and scarf combo

Pillbox hat: (my fave style) is also knit using the "don't swatch" method, knit-in-the-round-on-big-needles. Stockinette with bands of purl. Washed in hot water to fluff out the mohair in the novelty yarn.  Two strands: 1 strand is Lion suede, the other is "Verve" by Sierra Pacific Crafts, Verve has a little mohair and wool in it (one of those skeins you see in the sale bin at Ben Franklin crafts store and think, "Hey, although it's mostly acrylic, I think I can do something with this....) I cast off with larger needles than I knit with to avoid the "pull-in" I got with the previous hat.
Scarf: Another one-skein project using a fuzzy acrylic + mohair yarn, cast on about 15 stitches, big needles, garter stitch till you run out of yarn.
Verdict: Both are keepers!

pillbox hat using lion suede and verve

Fingerless Mitts
Pattern by Ann Budd (As Ann tends to do, she has created this pattern in a grid for multiple guages - which makes it a bit harder to follow)
Found in "Weekend Knitting" by Melanie Falick (pages 96 - 100).
Yarn: Patons SWS (soy wool stripes), Natural Denim,  about 1 skein
I knit these up to see if they would be a good pattern for a brand new knitter. As they are all garter stitch, knit flat (vs. in the round). Also wanted to try Paton's new soybean-based yarn.
Verdict: Nice wristlets, but not for the beginner as you need to knit short rows to increase width for the palm and the pattern is complex to read. The soy yarn is very slippery too, and fatigued my hands. I would not want to knit a whole sweater out of it.

Fingerless Mitts by Ann Budd, made with Patons SWS soy yarn

And lastly, a quick project for gifting:

Soap Sack - used to house a handmade bar of soap. Purpose: serve as a washcloth and soap holder at the same time.
Cast on 30 stitches, yarn: hemp for knitting "allhemp6",  size 5 US needles (two circulars, this was knit in the round). Did a row of YO, K2tog to accomodate braid for the closure, then  a  pattern I wanted to try out. Got bored tracking the pattern because it required that I convert it on-the-fly for knitting in the round and had 20 rows for the pattern, so I wrapped it up with a few rows of purling in the round for texture. Completed with a three-needle bind-off.  Pictured with the handmade soap in it.

soap sack

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