Monday, July 11, 2011

Baby sweaters everywhere...

I promised some pictures of the FOs from June.  I have been on a bit of a baby sweater binge as of late.  Of course, I do have a lot of babies to knit for right now.  Anyway, here are the bright Maile sweater and the long-awaited Unisono sweater.

Both should be off to their new owners this week.  I have been making a lot of raglans because I hate finishing.  I often will finish the knitting in days, then let a project sit for months before I seam it up just out of sheer avoidance.  I have decided I also hate sewing on buttons.  Not the sewing itself, but trying to avoid knots (and to me it never feels secure enough without a knot) and hide all of those little ends!  How do the rest of you do it?  It seems there is never a neat way to add the buttons and I am far too disorganized to plan knitting them in.  I am considering trying snaps on my next kid project.  Not as many cute options as buttons, but I won't stay awake at night in fear that my cute buttons have become a choking hazard for the progeny of my close friends and family.

I have also been trying to finish things more neatly.  After reading up on finishing techniques I attempted reinforcing my button bands and hems with hem tape.  I love the look, but hate how uneven the hand sewing looks on the knitting.  I am pretty good with hand stitching, and my stitches look like they are all over the place.  I may have to try machine sewing, though I really don't want to see the stiches from the front, and I can't see how that would be avoided.  Perhaps there is a way to knit it in?  I will have to think on this a bit.

My stash runneth over...

Do you ever go through those periods when you just feel like you are failing at everything?  That is how I have been feeling lately.  I can't seem to finish up a project at work, I am not losing weight despite starting an exercise program and watching my diet, and my yarn stash is still completely out of control.

Two weeks ago I had my first dinner party in my new house.  Now, I say new as I have only lived here for a little over 2 years.  Yes, that is right--it has taken me 2 years to get my house in order enough to have people over.  That and to find friends to have over, but that is another topic entirely.

I bring this up because that means 2 weeks ago my house was company ready.  And part of the company cleaning was hiding away all those little items that become every day clutter.  I left only 2 small baskets of yarn out on my shelves because like most fiber hoarders, I find it kind of decorative.  And do you know what my guests said?  Every last one commented "Gee, you sure have a lot of yarn!"  And they saw only the tip of the iceberg. 

Saturday I was hunting for a particular color of yarn, thinking I surely must have it in my stash.  So I started piling all my sock yarn on the floor.  Then I decided it would be good to get reorganized and re-inspired at the same time, so I went into all the nooks and crannies where I had stashed my yarn pre-company.  Folks, the result is not pretty:

Yes, my gluttonous ways are still Way. Out. Of. Control.

I am starting to feel overwhelmed.  The pressure and guilt of this many unfinished projects is starting to get to me. Am I in danger of being the subject of a future episode of "Hoarders"?  Of course, yarn seems a much more pleasant thing to be buried in than old newspapers or junk.

Now the upside is I am engaging in some true stash-busting.  Hiding in the bottom of one of my yarn baskets was four lovely skeins of J. Knits superwash merino DK in a beautiful purple/lavendar colorway called New Jersey.  I remembered buying this yarn on closeout and buying it specifically to make a Helena sweater for my friend who was pregnant at the time.  I do believe that child is a toddler now.  I am happy to say Helena is close to 2/3 completed, missing only the sleeves and edgings after a day and a half of pretty intense knitting.  Sadly, my hands are cramping and I am feeling some burning in the tendons, which means I will have to give then a rest for a day or two lest I overdo, but I am excited to have Helena on the way out the door.  Even though I did the 2 years olds size, I will only use up 3 skeins, and will be left with a little orphan skein.  At least it is one more thing out of the stash, though.  Right?  And I must say, the JKnits yarn is fabulous.

I also discovered a whole lot of Hempathy.  2 batches of 10 skeins each, to be exact.  How long have I had this?  The price tag says $5.00, if that tells you anything.  I have white and aqua blue.  I think I may have to make a Strafford Tee this month as well, if my hands don't give out on me.  And 2 batches of four skeins each of Rowan Kidsilk Haze.  I think there was a butterfuly dress in mind at one point.  It would look awful on me, but it is a cool pattern and looks fun to knit, so I was going to do it anyway.  You see, this is why I have a stash :)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

May and June catch-up

When I started this blog, I was so anxious to post I had to limit myself to twice a week.  Now I am lucky to get in one per month.  I don't know if it is just that summer is my busy time of year with work, particularly May and June, or if I have the lazy bug these days, but here is my catch-up post for May and June projects.

I started May strong with a quick pair of socks.  One of my dear friends gifted me with a skein of Tofutsies yarn.  I have never knit with this before, and I had it stashed in my computer bag when I found myself on an airplane with no project.  I remembered a simple lace pattern and started knitting away.  When I looked through my books later, the pattern is close enough to "Dead Simple Lace Socks" by Wendy Johnson, that I will credit that pattern even though I do them top-down with a slip-stitch gussetted heel.

I also had a very fun visit to Maryland the first weekend in May to celebrate my birthday with old friends and also to visit the MD Sheep and Wool festival!  I am a sucker for festivals, and this is one of my favorites for many years now.  My former roommate lives a mere 7 miles from the Howard County Fairgrounds, so every year I find an excuse to spend my birthday with my good friend and enjoy the festival at the same time.  This friend actually introduced me to the festival.  We were babysitting a neighbor's children for the weekend, and she mentioned there was this sheep festival down the road she thought the kids would enjoy.  When we got there, I said kids?  There is YARN here!  So now I go every year sans children, because it is much more fun that way :)

Of course I again overspent, stocking up on Tess's designer yarns, STR, and I splurged on enough Sunna for a new sweater for me.  So my yarn basket still runneth over, but I am feeling good about the number of projects out the door.

My other big project for May was a baby blanket for a dear friend who is becoming a first time father in July.  I made a second version of the Cot Blanket using 6 skeins from stash, but had to buy another 3 skeins to finish a border.  Since the bulk did come from stash, and the stash portion was completed in May (border yarn arrived first week of June, and was finished shortly thereafter), I am hoping it is not fudging to count this.  Here is the product in progress (top) and finished up (center, bottom).

The original blanket has three of the six squares containing some sort of heart motif.  I eliminated two of the heart squares and the plain square, and designed a sailboat, car, and argyle square in their place.  This was my first time actually sitting down with graph paper and mapping out the pattern (pathetic, I know. I make up a lot of stuff, but I usually wing it and play with it in my head until I get it to work out without writing it down).  I was surpised how long it took.  I spent a couple of hours just graphing and re-graphing the designs until they looked right.  In the end, I was really happy I did, though, so I won't have to go through the painful process of trying to re-create what I did from memory or photos.

In June, my baby theme continued.  I had a beautiful skein of STR I picked up in MD in May in a colorway called "Dreidel" (pictured above sitting on the completed squares).  As I arranged the squares for my Cot Blanket, I could not help but notice the colors of the yellow, dark and light blue, and even the olive green were a perfect match for Dreidel.  So I decided baby needed a sweater to match his blanket.

I got my inspiration from a new issue of Filati Infanti for a cute collared jacket.  I followed a pattern (mostly) for a ribbed jacket, but I changed a lot of things.  I knit as a one-piece raglan and added some length to the body and sleeves since I was using heavier yarn that called for in the pattern.  I added a ribbed button band after the body was knitted, and lined it with some groisgrain ribbon before adding some very cute airplane buttons.  I actually had some very cute sailboat buttons I used as the inspiration for the Cot Blanket squares, and they are nave blue and a perfect match for the sweater.  Unfortunately, I only had three, and could not find three more in a similar blue to match, so I had to find some new buttons.

My modifications also meant I ran out of yarn just after joining the sleeves.  Blue Moon only makes Dreidel over the holidays ('cause blue and yellow are sooooo Christmas-y??) so I jumped on ravelry and searched until I found a kind soul who had some in stash that they were willing to sell me.  Thank you KimS!!  The good news it, this counts as two skeins consumed :)

I also did a quick baby sweater for my new niece, Isabelle.  I met her for the first time in June, and she is sure a cutie!  I had this awesome skein of green/pink in stash, and my sister loved it, so I made a Maile sweater.  The bright colors reminded me of the tropics, and Isabelle's mom lived in Hawaii for a while, so Maile seemed a perfect match.  I will post a photo as soon as I sew the buttons on.  The yarn was an impulse purchase last spring during a work trip to Cape Cod (an awesome work trip, I might add).  It is called YaRn Studios, and was hand-dyed by the nice girl who helped me in the yarn store in Falmouth, MA.  It is also 100% superwash merino, so that should be soft for baby and easy to care for. 

My last baby project of the month was another simple raglan for another co-worker (2 co-workers, actually) who just had a baby boy.  This one out of Zitron Unisono, which I have decided is my new favorite yarn!  I will post photos of these last two shortly.