Saturday, October 27, 2007

Color My World

The trees are finally turning, though slowly, and with fall yarns arriving too, color has been on my mind lately.

Brooke at Kirkwood Knittery said that the process of knitting was really the point of it all, but for me, it's all about choosing the perfect pattern in the perfect color. I don't actually have to do the project at all.

My color palette hearkens back to the Crayola box of 64, the one with the sharpener in the box. I never really used the crayons or the sharpener (I couldn't see the point in coloring books since the picture was already done, and I never felt the need to create pictures myself), but I loved looking at them. I also loved the romantic names. Midnight Blue. Burnt Sienna. Fuchsia. Exotic names, exotic spelling, exotic colors.

I look for those same colors whenever I enter a yarn store. There's a real dichotomy generally, between the muted colors of hand-dyed natural fibers, and the vivid colors of "fun" yarns. Now, I'm not a yarn snob at all - I'll knit with any fiber, man-made or natural. But I don't like working with boring yarn of insipid colors. Nor do I want to wear anything in those colors unless they are a background for something bright.

Color me vivid.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

I Love the Smell of Tiger Balm in the Morning (and Noon and Night)

It's the smell of healing. Well, I hope so, 'cause it sure smells.

Still sidelined with a knitting injury, I'll take the opportunity to discuss the two Berroco patterns I've made so far. I began this summer with the Latoya tank. I fell in love with the design immediately, and it worked up really quickly - I was finished except for the seaming is less than 2 weeks. There is one mistake in the pattern, however, which involves the shaping of the front. You need to follow the same instructions as for the back, which is sensible, intuitive, and printed incorrectly! Just follow the front, and check with the schematic diagram and you'll be fine.

One more note - If you are a grown up, and want to wear a bra without the straps showing, you'll either need to adjust where you place the shoulder straps, or make them wider, or wear this over another shirt. I got to use up a very old stashed cotton thread on this, and I'm really pleased with the result. I'd do this one for presents in the future.

Since I had so much fun with Latoya, I was really eager to start Pike, a wrap vest which looked asymmetrical in the picture, but is worked symmetrically. The mistake in this one is having 1 extra stitch, which I solved by adding an additional purl stitch before the cable pattern. I can't see any reason for eliminating the stitch altogether, which would be cast on 107 sts. I completed the back very quickly, and love the gore detail.

I followed the directions for the left front, and it matches the schematics, but for the life of me I can't imagine how this vest comes together!!! I guess that's why I'm in such a hurry to finish it that I injured myself. I'm about 3/4 finished with the right front, so assuming the Tiger Balm works, I'll have it finished by Halloween.

The Pike is worked in Araucania Nature Cotton Burgundy. The finished pieces look great, and drapes really nicely. Working with it is another story altogether. It doesn't flow smoothly through my fingers, and really stuck to my bamboo needles (though it's better on the Bernat Aeros, which I prefer anyway). I'm constantly stopping to re-wrap the tail which is annoying. And it's not soft in the hand, so there's some weird science at work since it is soft in the finishing! I don't think I'd use this yarn again.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Can't Keep Those Hands Still

I tried to sit quietly last night, but failed utterly, so I compromised by FINALLY sewing the collar on my unfinished shrug. Since I didn't have quite enough yarn to finish the pattern as written, it turns out to be a little more cardigan-y than shrug-ish, and it's very nice. The sleeves are 3/4 length (another modification resulting from the scarcity of resources) which I prefer anyway.

That finished, I started to wind the yarn in my stash - my third least favorite needlecraft activity, following sewing UFOs together, and casting on stitches. That one didn't last too long; I only would 4 skeins of the Silky Tweed before giving up for the night. The comforting (disturbing) thought is that the rest of the stash will be waiting for me whenever I need it.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Knitter's Shoulder or Why I'm Taking a Break

Who knew knitting could be hazardous to your health? It's supposed to be a peaceful, creative, and meditative activity, able to be performed along or in a group, an activity in which process is at least as important as the culminating product. It's not supposed to leave you reaching for analgesics round the clock. Yet here I am, for the second week, trying to find something to occupy my hands while I watch TV.

Of course, I'd heard rumours of a woman who tore her rotater cuff while knitting the brioche stitch using continental technique, but shrugged off the rumours as mere braggadocio. Now I wonder if an MRI lies in my future...

I'll have to content myself in recounting my recent adventures in needlecraft as I prepare to, once again, take up needles and hooks.