Friday, July 20, 2007

Turning Lemons into Lemonade.

It's been a slightly rough past few days. Have you heard about this thing that happened in New York on Wednesday? It happened at 41st and Lexington. Guess where my office is – 41st and Lexington. I wasn’t there when it happened fortunately. Why? Because I woke up that morning to the sound of water gushing, through my AC and into my apartment. The wonderful news is that all of my colleagues are totally fine (yet shaken up) and while the building is a mess, our office is okay. Our office is closed indefinitely.

When I learned on Wed night that the office would be closed on Thursday, I decided that the following day would be all about
Dollar and A Half Cardigan from Interweave Spring. I have been staring at this pattern since it hit the stands, but searching for the called for yarn exhausted me so I shelved it. Until now.

What you see above is a swatch. A really big swatch, that is sectioned into groups of lace by the needle size I used while trying to get the right gauge.

The immediate roadblock of this pattern (and there appear to be many) is that you need to swatch in the lace pattern. This is a bit annoying. The other thing that happened to me, and sounds like has happened to almost everyone else, is that while it lists a size 5 needle, you really needed a larger one. I swatched on a 5, a 6, a 7 and finally an 8. Even with an 8 I’m not making 4” but the lace pattern is starting to look a little too loose for me. I am going to knit with an 8.

Under normal circumstances I am never afforded the time to spend so much time on swatching but the reality is that it took only 1 day. I will spend many days and perhaps months knitting this sweater and I would rather deal with this up front. I’ve seen a lot of frogging out there. Seeing that I ended up several needles up, it was clearly a good idea.

The yarn I’m using is Misti International Alpaca Worsted in 4388. When I was at Downtown Yarns last weekend to get help on my Shopping Tunic, we spent a lot of time finding some substitutes for the Reynolds Soft Linen, called for in the pattern, and I fell in love with the feel (soft) and color (super deep brown/purple).

Getting Started:
This pattern has received a lot of bad press, yet there are so many wonderful examples of FOs that I know it’s going to be great. While there are a lot of problems, there are also some great solutions out there. For you and me, as a reference point and a time saver, here is what I have learned so far.

Doing the gauge. As you’ll see, the lace pattern has 7 rows. If you look in the directions for the body there are two call outs that you must include in your swatch: 1 selvege stitches, and 2) the order of doing the lace pattern. Make sure when you are swatching to knit the first and last stitch.. The swatch requires 21 stitches and this incorporates the selvege stitches. The pattern itself. When I first did the swatch I knitted 1-7, which is the pattern for lace. Row 7 is the tricky row and doing it after row 6 was confusing. When you actually do the pattern for real, you will do row 7 after row 3, not 6. Basically when you swatch, follow what you’ll do in the body. I did the pattern twice plus 2 rows of stockinette in between, and got 26 rows.

Michelin Arms. If you're starting this pattern, you MUST check out the
Knit-Along. You will see very quickly that when you switch from the reverse stockinette stitch to the lace pattern, the stockinette buckles and looks, well, terrible. A solution that is getting a lot of converts, and which seems to be working, is knitting the lace in one size needle, and doing the stockinette in a needle 2 sizes smaller. I just went back to buy the rest of my yarn (I wanted to swatch first) and was advised to do everything but the lace pattern in the smaller needle (doesn’t include cable). So for me, I’m going to pretty much knit everything using an 6 except for the lace pattern, which I’ll do in an 8

Row 7 of the pattern. Not easy, but once you see
this, it’ll all make sense.

Decreases. I haven’t really looked at this closely but have heard it’s a nightmare.
Veronik Avery has a tutorial and the knitalong has plenty of posts

Size/length. At this point all I know is that the sleeves are long.

I am really still excited about Magic Shawl, yet I simply can’t handle bulky wool with huge needles. I’ve been itching all week to knit but I need something slightly more mindless than Clementine, which is literally all lace. So now I’m happy. Heading to a friend’s lake house this weekend and will hopefully get some knitting in while I
wait in line for the new Harry Potter book. That’s the price I pay for staying at said friends house – must accompany him on line.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Sneak Preview

Well I finished her up tonight and she’s resting in her blocking stage. Given Hart left today for a business trip, I won’t have pictures until later in the week but here is a bit of her. A very small bit.

I will do my usual debrief when I post the final work but I’m not going to lie to you. While I am upset that I didn’t get knitting done on my “sick day” last week, I think being sick and dealing with where I was in the pattern would have been bad. Where I left off was a procrastination point. Short rows. I am, or was, a short row virgin.

So at like 8pm on Thursday, still sick, I gave it a go. Mistake. The Twinkle book has some instructions but in true Katyaflutes form, I whipped out my Vogue Knitting manual and starting doing it, but it was dreadful. It totally didn’t make sense to me and I’ve learned that “winging” it in these situations never ends well. And it didn’t. Long story short, on Saturday I hit Downtown Yarns in the hopes of getting some help. This is my first time doing this (asking for help at a store) and I was afraid of the reaction I would get given that I didn’t buy any of the materials (book, yarn, needles) at the store. But they were fantastic. Not only did they help me walk through it, I got to see a just finished Baby Surprise and I was just so excited to be there that we spent a lot of time picking out yarn for another queued project, Dollar and a Half Sweater.

Alas, another thing I’m not going to lie about is my diminishing love for this sweater. My frame is not bone thin - and I tried it on and it’s big, bulky, and makes my body look at least 3 inches bigger in girth. Plus the sleeves are a bit cappy which make my arms look like sausages. Actually it’s not just my arms. I tried the timer on my camera to get a full shot and after seeing the picture I felt, well, aside from immediately deleting the picture I just look like a sausage in general with this sweater – you’re just seeing my least sausage-y part – my neck. I'm thinking that this one isn't going to end well.

We’ll see, perhaps I like it more when she’s freshly blocked.

I am really itching to do something with small stitches but I do love the Magic Shawl and I’m a glutton for punishment – perhaps I should listen hard to my complaints about the bulkiness but even as I write this, my love for the shawl is bigger than my knowledge that it will be BIG.

I’m thinking of, wow, modifying it. If anyone has this book and can act either as a helper or a sounding board on what I’m thinking about doing – please let me know.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

"sick day" ?

I have a boss who doesn’t understand the definition of a “sick day”. I have had a somewhat crazy week, at least for me, that resulted in falling asleep only to cough all night. then i woke up this morning feeling terrible. I guess my boss believes, in a passive aggressive sort of way, that if you have your computer and you're not in the hospital, a “sick day” = “working at home”.

I had great intentions to sit on the couch all day and watch tv and knit, but that just didn’t happen. I instead just sat at my computer all day and I literally just finished what she considered a “quick” project about an hour ago. So while I didn’t knit, I do have reporting still in me.

There have been several minor yet gratifying things OUTSIDE of work that have happened in the last month or so which have been keeping me busy or pre-occupied.

In knitting news, I started Shopping Tunic with a bang. It’s freaking hot out right now which is lowering my motivation but I am on the cowl part and it took me about 3 days to get there. While I’d hoped to finish her today, she’s close. I don’t have it in me right now to take pictures, and while not a good knitting photo, the background is great. This is the deck of friend’s house where we spent July 4th. And Shopping Tunic as an accessory.

Speaking of July 4th, that’s my birthday and Hart took me, as a surprise, to Babbo, on the Saturday before.This is my (and his) ultimate favorite restaurant and needless to say, reservation getting isn’t exactly easy. It's almost annoying but the upside is that it can actually happen. If you want a specific date you need to call at 10am exactly 1 month to the day before and hope for the best. Such a great guy that Hart is– this required him calling the day before we left for Eastern Europe in the middle of some crazy work situation. Not only that, he enlisted his entire team to sit in a conference room and have Babbo’s number on redial in the hopes of getting through. I will say that all the pain and annoyance is worth it.

The best part about the whole experience is that he tricked me into thinking we were going to another restaurant and as we were walking by Babbo for a *stroll* next to the park, he stopped me, told me to put on my heels (I was walking in flip flops, with the Manolos in my bag) and we were going in. Nice.

As usual, Babbo was unbelievable. No it's not cheap, but it's not out of control - it's a special occasion type of place. The food, for both meat-eating foodies (Hart) and vegetarian foodie-in trainings (me) is perfect.

On to one of my next goals, learning Spanish, Hart got me for my birthday Spanish lessons! Unfortunately right now most classes are mid-semester so this will be in the fall but one thing I am really excited about in the meantime is a great Spanish podcast, Coffee Break Spanish, which I’m trying to listen to and practice.

For any one interested, you can go to their website and download previous podcasts. For anyone interested in another language (Crimenotes: Hindi) I found the Spanish one via searching the store at Itunes. They list a bunch of podcasts and most are free.

Speaking of I-tunes, many months ago I saw Fig and Plum post this and it introduced me to this new and exciting Nike+ gadget. It’s a souped up podometer. It’s $30 and comes with a connector that fits on a nano (only) and a sensor you throw in your shoe. It tracks your running and with the push of a button tells you (in your earbuds) how long you’ve been running, how fast, distance, etc. You then sync it to your itunes and voila – it keeps track. I combined many generous gifting for my b-day and bought a new nano, an armband and the Nike-id and it’s great.

One other really cool thing is that on the Nike website you can use their map to determine the distance of routes you may already, or may think of running.

So many goals that are exciting. I wish I could convince my motivation to get on board.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Rusted Root - FO

Here she is, Rusted Root. It was a long time coming. She was finished back mid-May but it took a bit longer (with the trip, and all) to weave her ends in and block her.

Start: March 25, 2007
Finish: May 15-ish, 2007 (knitting finished in early May but blocking only June)
Pattern: Rusted Root by the Zephyre Style ladies
Size: Medium
Software: Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece in Buttercream - 3 skeins
Harware: size 6 Circulars

Note and Modifications:

The key note is that this lace requires practice. Seriously. This was my first lace work and the lace pattern takes awhile to get used to and get in the rhythm of. Like, specifically row 3 (I think that's the one, as I have tried to block it out). I frogged, painfully, 7 times.

A good resource is the Zephyr Rusted Root Message Board, which was really helpful in getting me through this. Especially that lace pattern.

I know it's totally anti-instant gratification but it's worth it to swatch this and practice on the lace pattern. Hopefully it'll prevent you from the frogland I entered.
Also, as always, I added a bit of length.

Finally, I love this yarn BUT, see below.

Can you see the difference in color in the front and back ?(click for close-up) I wet-blocked this and it dried on it's back. I blocked it on a dark green towel so I couldn't tell but I'm thinking the dye sort of bled. I need to reblock.

Whatevs, I'm wearing it tomorrow to work.