Monday, July 26, 2010

An Affair in Sonata

The thing about knitting is that it helps to develop my patience, which I hear is a virtue.

And it also reminds me that I'm a big stupidhead sometimes.

I finished my Affair to Remember skirt in Elann.com Sonata this weekend, not without a bit of drama, cursing and misery (ok, not misery, but I felt really, REALLY dumb).

On Friday, I got to the end of the skirt, bound off, and tried it on. I was at work, and I looked in the mirror hanging over the kitchen sink and thought it looked pretty good. I proceeded to weave in the ends that evening. I was avoiding the seaming of the waistband, which I was not looking forward to because I thought it would be tedious and difficult. I decided to leave it until the very end.

I finished the waistband at about 8pm that evening, slid in some elastic for the waist and tried it on again. I went to the full-length mirror and had a look.

I looked at it from the side.

I stood on my toes.

I turned around and twisted around to look at myself from behind.

It was too short.

Not obscenely short, mind you. Just... not the right length. Kind of cheerleader when I wanted CEO. Like an unripe tomato in a sandwich. Kinda right, but not. No problem. I had a couple of balls of yarn left. I could just rip back and make it a couple of inches longer.

Problem was, I'd sewn in all the ends. And when I sew in the ends for a garment, those babies are in good. You can wash that sucker a hundred times, and it ain't gonna unravel.

I made a couple of attempts to find the ends before I threw the skirt onto the dining room table and pouted. I picked it up again... grunted a few times while I turned them hem around and around. Darn it. I took my little doggie and went out for a vigorous, frustrated walk, after which he collapsed on the deck in the Superman position and stayed there until he cooled down enough to lie down on his bed.

I sat on the couch, turned on a lamp and hunted for those fricking ends. It took me two hours, but I finally found them, picked them out carefully, and ripped back to the row that would allow me to work more length onto the skirt.

Last night, after ensuring that it was indeed long enough (well, I ran out of yarn, so that's about all she wrote), I sewed in the ends again with my usual tough-as-nails technique, and blocked it.

And there ya go.

On a side note, I have discovered that my back looks much better than my front, at least where my lower half is concerned. It seems like a vain thing to say, but it's important to recognize your strengths. And it appears that one of my strengths is that I look better leaving then I do coming.

Or, I could just walk backwards for the rest of my life. Whatever.

Monday, July 19, 2010

At Loose Ends

I have this annoying habit. It's called yarn purchase.

Ok, it's not the purchasing of yarn that is so terrible (although, my bank account could do with a little less of that these days), but the fact that I sometimes buy supplies with no project in mind.

What's more annoying than that? Buying supplies with the project in mind, but no clear idea of how much I will need.

So, last Friday, I ran out of yarn for this skirt I am making. It is from Annie Modesitt's Romantic Handknits - the skirt called An Affair to Remember.

A while back, I wrote about elann.com, the online shop that changed my mind. Great prices, quick shipping, and Canadian to boot. What more could I ask? A Sonata bag sale came along, and I snagged two bags of ten balls each of different colours. I figured that ten balls would be enough to make a skirt. The pattern says 800m for my size in worsted weight held double. I had over 1050m in DK weight. That should work, said I.

Four balls in, I started to get nervous.

Six balls in, I starting looking up prices for more yarn.

Eight balls in, I started looking at other yarn to justify the shipping for the purchase of said yarn.

Ninth ball... the weepy fits began.

And you know what's soooo annoying about it all? I purposely bought books and pamphlets to help me figure out how much yarn I'd need for any project. ANY PROJECT. I have Ann Budd's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns, as well as her Handy Guide to Yarn Requirements pamphlet.

And I still RAN OUT. Arrrrrrgh.

So, this weekend, I had to put my project down and wait for more yarn to arrive (which, I think has arrived today, but I won't get my hopes up). I picked up another project to work on while I was waiting (ohhh... I don't like unfinished projects lying around), and finished it today.

Behold: the yarn camera.

It's for a friend at work, a photographer. It's from an ad she sent me a while ago, and she asked me if I would make one for her. I had a few things I needed to work on before I could started, but she was good with waiting, and this was the project I was planning on working on after the skirt. It was a relatively easy crochet project. It's a little wonky, but with a little tapping of the stuffing (how's that for a phrase?) it should work out. And so... voila!

So I finished it. Then, I sewed the stray ends in on my skirt-in-progress. Then, I sat around, tapping my fingers on my table.

Dear goodness, this yarn better arrive soon. At this rate, I'm going to have to start doing Sudoku puzzles to pass the time. Or start cleaning. Or washing dishes.

Oh... help me.

P.S. The yarn order arrived this afternoon. Great goats, I am saved...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Yeah, I love these people

It's been a pretty crazy week here. My parents are visiting, as well as some cousins of mine with their three-year old daughter. Rascal always rolls out the welcome mat.

Needless to say, I've had very little time to myself this week, apart from a few minutes here and there. I'm not complaining. Mom's been cooking and cooking and cooking. Dad's been fixing almost everything he can get his hands on (the floorboards, the door locks, the fume hood, the gate...). And the three-year old, well... I'll let you know once she stops talking!

In the meantime, my hands have not been idle, despite the fact that my cousins insist on washing the dishes all the time (sigh, I love these people). I decided to finally tackle a couple of projects which have been languishing in my basket.

First, I decided to make a plesiosaur for my friends, Tyler and Kelly and their little boys, who all came over a few weeks ago and repaired our rotting deck. We walked past their house one day, and Kelly said, "We're coming over to your house today."

I said, "You are?"

She said, "How's 11?"

I said, "Um, ok."

And, two hours later, we had a deck again. (Sigh. I love these people, too.)

Since the birth of their second boy, I had been thinking and thinking about making something for him, since I made a Nautie for their first boy.

This plesiosaur was made from the Loch Ness Monster pattern from Amigurumi Knits by Hansi Singh.

Most people (that is, people who work with yarn) think of amigurumi as being a crochet project, which it normally is. I much prefer knitting amigurumi toys, as I find it easier to make it a nice, tight knit. This time, however, I found it a lot harder to keep the fabric tight. It's probably because of the way I was doing my increases, which, when they are made in a flat garment, don't show the changes in tension as much as they do in a stuffed toy. It wasn't easy, but it was good practice, and I was pretty pleased with the result.

I got the sweetest thank you card from them a couple of days later... with a picture of their older boy cradling this thing in the most loving gesture ever. I tell you, I tear up a little each time I look at it!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, in an effort to give my mom something to do while my dad tore up the kitchen when installing our fume hood, I asked my mom to help me out with my beautiful towel project. My friend, Sarah, had suggested making it into a throw pillow, which was an excellent idea, but I just had not got around to it.

"Mom, how would I sew this to make a pillow?"

"Get me a thread and needle and let me see if I can remember how to do this stitch..."

Five minutes later, and I looked over and saw a row of perfect, hand-sewn interlocking stitches. And when I got home from work, she had sewn around the whole thing, leaving a space to put the stuffing and zipper in.

A couple of days later, while they were off in the mountains for a little visit, I stuffed the pillow, and put the zipper in by hand.

Nice, eh? My stitches aren't nearly as nice as Mom's. But not everyone can sew like her. This from a woman who has had two cataract surgeries and has to wear sunglasses outdoors, no matter what the weather.

To top it all off, my friend, Emily, braved the madness of the Calgary Stampede crowds to buy a t-shirt for my brother, at his request. Not something I'm quite prepared to do at the drop of a hat, but something she undertook happily.

All in all, it's been a crazy, but very pleasant week... and a great reminder of the wonderful people around me who have been willing to help out without fanfare.

Now, excuse me... I have to go eat again.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Quick Knit - Good Yarn

I finished the Saroyan Scarf yesterday for my mom, just in time for my parents' arrival for a visit today! It was her birthday a couple of weeks ago, but since their visits have coincided with their trip to Reno the past couple of years, I usually just wait until they arrive to give her gift to her. The problem is - this scarf is so beautiful that I don't know if I can let it go!

(By the way, the reason they have been to Reno the past couple of years is because my dad has won the Seniors Bowling Championship in Manitoba twice in a row, and they send him there to play in the tournament there, all expenses paid - nice!)

This was a lovely knit from start to finish. I used Patons Silk Bamboo, a 70/30 blend that has a gorgeous drape and fantastic softness to it. I was afraid it would pill, but the silk seems to be keeping that in check. I did find a knot or two in a couple of the balls, but not nearly as bad as the Noro I've used in the past! I thought it was excellent value for money.

I blocked this scarf by pinning it down and spritzing it with water and letting it dry. I'd heard that silk can be pretty delicate when wet, and I didn't want to risk wrecking it. I will be giving my mom the yarn label so that she can wash it according to their instructions.

I do love these little knits - so quick and straightforward. I am also quite impressed with how even my stitches came out. Those who have seen me knit know that I quite often knit with two different-sized needles, because I purl looser than I knit. The only way I could prevent the rows coming out in two different sizes was for me to purl with a needle one size smaller than the one I knit with. The first time I did it, I was scared to death that it would turn out all wonky, but now, it's the only way I will knit stockinette flat. In a project with such a shiny yarn, it was especially important for the stitches to be even.

I'm also so impressed by the pattern that this my have converted me to the idea of wearing shawlettes... almost. I do have the Nightsongs Shawl in mind for myself sometime soon, as long as the blocking doesn't kill me (all those points!). However, there's nothing quite like a short project to get me motivated to work on more. Next up - a plesiosaur.

What the heck is that? I'll let you know if I am successful!