Wednesday, March 28, 2007

My Little Max

Back to the turquoise yarn again. The large paws belong to my dog, Max. He had to come see what I was up to and stayed to supervise.

Isn't he a sweetie? He wasn't too sure about having his picture taken. We used to call him Little Max when he was a young puppy, but it quickly became kind of a joke as he grew so rapidly. He is a good three or four inches taller at the shoulder than the breed standard, so "Max" turned out to be a very appropriate name for him.

We actually have three German Shepherds, but Max is the closest to being my dog. When I get home from work, he makes me feel like I'm the most important person in the world. That there will never be anyone as special as me. The other two dogs we have love me but they adore my husband. They have the (mistaken) impression that he is "alpha" in our little pack because of his larger size, deeper voice, etc. Little do they know about the subtle intricacies of human relationships. Max though, he's a very smart boy.

Making It Up As I Go

I've made a bit of progress on the bag over the last few days. I decided to go with Lamb's Pride in Brite Blue for the next row of solid squares.
It's not exactly a color that's in the Manos, but I think it works well over all. I'm happy with the spring-like tone of it. I was a little concerned at first that the size might be a little too small, but now that I'm a few tiers up it seems quite generous. Of course I'll lose a lot when it's felted...but that's part of the fun (for me anyway), trying to figure out the "before" size and shape in order to get the "after" that I'm looking for. I still have to decide how tall to make it. I figured that when I got close to being done, I'd just know it. Sounds good on paper.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Just Call Me a Bag Lady

Okay, so I'm deeply into my entrelac phase now. My entrelac/felting/bag phase to be more precise. I had no sooner finished the last bag when I started to realize what I really wanted was a bag I could use for toting papers to and from work but also something that would work for carrying around knitting projects. I decided to start with a rectangular base, pick up the stitches around it and work up the bag on circular needles. I figured out the number and size of the entrelac squares I would use, made a few calculations and cast on. I'm using Lamb's Pride Worsted in Aztec Turquoise for the base the bag and for the base triangles for the entrelac.

Here's where it got really fun! I've been wanting to use this Manos since I got it - I just love these colors! (The colorway is Caribe.)

So I started working on my first round of squares with it and I'm really liking it so far.
I think I'll switch to a new solid color after the Manos - I haven't quite worked that out yet...

Sunday, March 18, 2007

My Knittin' History, Why I'm Bloggin', and The Obligatory Cat Picture

I love to knit. I’m actually in what I like to think of as my third knitting phase in my life. The first one started when I was a kid (age 12??) and my mom first taught me to knit. I wasn’t very serious about it, although I was recently reminded of some pink mittens I had made myself. Mittens? Wow. I had completely forgotten about them. I haven’t even made another pair since! Not that I’ve finished anyway. Eventually I lost interest though, or was distracted by other interests, and I stopped.

The second phase started in my twenties when I took a job in a shop that sold fabrics and yarn. (Yeah, I know, spinsterhood here I come! – but I did eventually get married.) I was an avid seamstress, so I was very comfortable with that part of the job, but I knew I needed to relearn the knitting skills if I was going to be able to help customers. The lady who owned the shop was a wonderful knitter and a great teacher and I really value the time she spent teaching me. Before long I worked my way from scarves to sweaters. I loved it!

I probably never would have stopped if it weren’t for another really big distraction. Actually she was quite small. She was a kitten that my husband gave me for Christmas. Let’s just say that she and yarn were a really bad mix. I just adore kittens and cats for that matter, so I put my knitting away, “just for a few months” I told myself. Somehow “months” turned into years. Madison, the little hobby-killing monster I mentioned has mellowed over the years and I love her dearly. She looks so innocent here, doesn't she?

Anyway a couple of years ago I was wandering through the still fairly new AC Moore that opened in our area. (Yeah, I know, evil Wal-Mart of knitting/craft stores.) I was there to check out the bead selection (what I was into at the time) but I had to check out the whole place, ‘cause I love crafts in general and well, I was there. I got to the aisles with the yarns and knitting supplies; saw the many sample scarves, hats, etc. and felt myself getting hooked! Again!

The yarn shop where I worked had long since gone out of business, but about a year and a half ago while visiting AC Moore with a good friend we heard tell of a new local yarn shop, one that was much closer to where I live. How could it have escaped my notice?! I checked it out as soon as I had a chance and found it to be a very nice little shop with many yummy yarns. And they stock Lamb’s Pride! a yarn that I’ve been partial to since my second knitting phase.

I’ve become very interested in felting, or more accurately “fulling” since I started knitting again. Okay, maybe a little obsessed. There’s just something really fascinating to me about that transformation a piece goes through when you toss it in the washer and pull out a very different looking item after a wash or two. The Lamb’s Pride, which I already had a lot of, was perfect for this, and their color selection is hard to beat. I’ve decided to start documenting the befores and afters of the projects I’m doing, partly for fun and partly because it is useful to know how much something is going to shrink. Then I realized I have all the ingredients for a knitting blog:

  • knitting skills
  • growing yarn stash
  • digital camera
  • some semblance of computer skills
  • a need to show off my handiwork (to someone who will care more than my husband does)
And the great thing is my only friend who really knits lives in the next state, so this will be a good way to let her follow my projects too.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Entrelac Experiment

Finally, my Noro/Lamb's Pride "experiment" is done. In the first pic it's still on the form (a cannister with a towel wrapped around it) that I used to block it. As you can see the Noro squares are definitely larger and you can still make out the individual stitches. After three times through my washing machine though I figured that the Noro's felting might never catch up with the LP, so I'm going to live with it this way.

I've actually decided that because the sizes of the squares alternate every row, it kind of works, at least for me. After taking it off the form and adding the drawstrings this is what it looks like.

And from the other side...Overall I'm fairly pleased with how it turned out. I really like the way the colors work together. I had been pretty doubtful about all the brown squares, but I think they ended up making the other colors pop that much more. I think I'd mix these yarns again in another another group of colors.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Entrelac Bag #2

I enjoyed working on the Market Squares Bag so much that I wanted to try another entrelac project. I wanted to change things up a little though - a different bag design and I thought it would be fun to try a variegated yarn. As luck (or my yarn buying habit) would have it, I already had three skeins of Noro Kureyon in colorway 147 in my stash. After looking at endless pictures of other knitter's beautiful bags in Kureyon I'd been itching to try it myself. But three skeins? I had something a little larger than that in mind. I started thinking about adding a solid color, maybe in alternate tiers of squares to make the Kureyon go farther. I figured Lamb's Pride Worsted was probably close enough in gauge so I checked out my supply and found a few colors that might work. Once I got all the colors together I decided not to limit myself to just one color but to use all of them, still using the Kureyon in every other tier. I was pretty psyched to start knitting so I cast on with some Lamb's Pride in Blue Heirloom (having picked this as the dominant color in the bag) and knit away. Now you may have noticed that I haven't mentioned anything about a pattern. Well, I had some basic ideas about the size and shape I wanted, and I was pretty confident after having completed one entrelac bag, so I just decided to wing it! This is what I came up with...

I'm pretty pleased with how the colors work together - I think the Lamb's Pride helped brighten things up a bit. I love the star design you get on the bottom when you do the decreases.

Of course it was only when I was about 90% done knitting that I read on someones site about how difficult it was to get Noro to felt. Hmmmm. LP felts like a dream. Noro, not so much. (Maybe that's why I haven't noticed other felting projects using these two yarns together.) Well I was too close to the end to not finish it, but I was starting to worry a little. I guess I assumed that since I had seen soooo many felted projects made with Kureyon that it felted readily. My bad. Anyway, I'll let you know how it turns out. Probably.