Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Ta da

At 11:57 pm last night, the final end was woven in and Poppy joined the elite (and I use the term elite to imply something rare and scarce in these parts) group of knitting FOs that live at my house. Here she is done and dusted awaiting her debut.

When I modeled Poppy for my husband, he grinned and exclaimed "Wow - that's hot!". Perhaps he was referring to the weather forecast for today or he was momentarily channeling Paris Hilton but heck, my sweaters will take their compliments any way they can. We went out to enjoy the lovely spring evening and took some outdoor shots of Poppy.

And because knitters want to see all the gory details, here is the back.

The specifics of the Project are as follows:

Design: Poppy from Yarnplay by Lisa Siobhana Mason.
Yarn: Noro Cash Iroha in shade #103 violet and Noro Silk Garden in shade #224
Size: made: 36"
Needles: 5mm Addi Turbos (que light sabre sound effects courtesy of Brenda Dayne)
Modifications: shortened armhole to ensure join between yoke and body hit above the bust and shortened arms by decreasing every 7th row.

A great fun knit overall. I enjoyed every stitch. The bottom was fun to do free form I just winged it and it worked out fine. The crochet edgings were new for me and I had to refer to a couple of resources to make sure I knew what to do but in the end, Lisa's explanation in the back of the book was perfect. Noro is amazing yarn to work with and I'm really pleased with this colourway. If you're considering this project - go for it.

Not only does my husband approve of Noro (good taste - that's why I married him), he went to the Needle Emporium and treated me to this amazing knitting bag by Offhand designs for my birthday. Of course, a bag like this deserves only luxury yarn! Right? Do ya think I'm in a violet phase?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Knits shoots and leaves

Until recently, I figured bamboo was good for feeding Panda Bears and making patio furniture. When the owners of Webs announced on a podcast last month that the hottest yarn trend for spring was bamboo - I became intrigued. Thus began the tale of two yarns: RYC Bamboo soft and Berroco Bonsai (bamboo tape). Interweave Knits Spring 2007 includes an article about bamboo which unfortunately reads more like an advertorial for all of the yarn companies than it is informative. From what I've found on line, bamboo has antibacterial properties, is soft as silk and more absorbent than cotton. It's being called the "cashmere from plants". According to bambooclothes.com, the manufacturing process for bamboo yarn is similar to that for rayon. The bamboo stems and leaves are pummeled into a starchy pulp in hydrolysis alkalization. A finishing treatment transforms the pulp into soft fibers. The bamboo yarn is then bleached and dyed.

Since most yarn journeys for me have to involve an "object of affection" - I settled on a couple of designs to test drive with these two yarns. First up is this amazing little shrug from Lalana Wools called the Truly Tender Shrug. The pattern calls for Phat Silk Fine by Lalana which knits to sport weight. The RYC Bamboo soft is sport weight and I picked up a ball to play with from Julie at the Needle Emporium in an icy blue (#103 Moonstone). This stuff feels better than silk and does split if you rub it on the ball but I didn't have problems knitting it. Here's my swatch and the gauge seems to be spot on for stitches but a little tight for rows. I can adjust when knitting since the directions say to knit to a certain height. The RYC bamboo more closely mimics traditional yarn in that it's tube shaped. The RYC bamboo comes in lovely subtle colours.

The second design I grew to adore as I looked at it more and more is the Bonsai Tunic by Norah Gaughan from the Spring IK. I've been further inspired by the amazing job this blogger at One by One has done on her version. This design calls for Berroco Bonsai which presents as a matte and shiny ribbon tape. I struggle with ribbon yarns. I do tend to rip back when I don't like how something looks and I don't "tink" I pull out the needles and rip a few rows then thread the stitches back on. Now good old wool or cotton stays nice and perky during this type of exercise. Slippery ribbon goes everywhere. I swatched last night for the Bonsai tunic (again with one trial ball purchased to see if I like it). I struggled to get this pattern down pat. The first yarn over goes from a knit to a purl stitch and until I figured out how to do them so the yarn over was shorter - the holes were huge in this location. I ripped this swatch back so much the shine came off. Normally, I'd throw in the towel at this point and move on to another project. Something just wouldn't let me give up. I knew if I could nail the pattern, I'd fall in love with this yarn. Somewhere around the second repeat - I did. Here's my swatch and after much deliberation, I think I'll make it in the same colour (the Satsuki Green). This yarn is also so soft, you want to disappear into it. I think that's what made me stick with the swatching process.

If you're thinking about giving a "green fiber" a try - I'd certainly recommend bamboo. This trend does make me wonder though...are the sheep worried about their jobs being outsourced off shore?

Monday, March 12, 2007

Gone Clubbing

The wine industry regularly markets "wine clubs" to those winery customers who are (as the marketers would say) highly involved in the category. Generally, this means they want the scoop. The story. How the vineyards are doing. Did the grapes get enough sun and cool nights? It's all about origin and scarcity. Wine Club members have two bottles of an exclusive vintage delivered to their home each month along with tasting notes and perhaps a recipe from Chef. I became intrigued when so many yarn retailers started "sock of the month clubs" but was very interested in the infamous Rockin Sock Club from Socks That Rock. So, in the interest of consumer research (clearing throat loudly) - I signed up. The first shipment came this week and I must say, it appears to be a very well thought out program. Here is the "exclusive" colourway for the first shipment. It's called Monsoon. I've taken the picture outside to truly show the beautiful charcoals blending into moss green. It's military but much richer than normal camouflage colours.

The binder is branded nicely and contains a welcome letter describing the theme for this year's club which is "celebrating the foot". Facts and figures about feet in general and the beating they take on our behalf. So far so good - this is the detail highly involved consumers go for. The pattern is nice. It's a reversible sock - the toe and heel are garter stitch. The leg is a reversible ribbing. I'm eager to start this sock. I'm a bit of a "sock virgin" having only knit one pair of Regia self-striping socks 6 years ago. I gave them to a friend as a last minute birthday gift so I've never worn a pair of hand-knit socks myself.

I was planning to liberate my rosewood double points from this Opal sock using Wendy's toe-up pattern. I started it about 5 years ago and then stopped before the short row heel. I've discovered that I often abandon projects when I'm nearing a point where I have to do something I've not done before. If I'm feeling bold - I go ahead but if I'm not in the right mood, I put it down. There's no comparing the STR with the Opal for tactile stimulation so rather than bash away at the Opal sock, I picked up a second set of dpns from Crystal Palace from Julie today. My ball winder and I have a hot date planned for tomorrow.

Poppy continues to rock into the home stretch. In my never-ending quest to seek out new ways to show you my knitting - I present Poppy sleeve 2 with Cabernet Sauvignon. Let's face it. EVERYTHING goes better with wine and luxury fibre.

Monday, March 05, 2007

You Zig - I'll Zag

A reader named "Yarn It" left this comment on my last post. "I would love to see how the first side of your skirt turned out! I have been eyeing that issue came out and I just looked at is yesterday to reconsider the skirt again. Has it been a fun knit?" To answer your question - absolutely! It's Koigu. It's pink. It's a variety of stitches and patterns with just enough "mindless" stockinette to make it portable. In fact, the first side is complete. The pattern does warn would be knitters that the twisted lace pattern does put the knitting on the bias so the resulting piece is quite the crooked spectacle. All should be well once the mirror image is complete and these little quirks are hidden with some kick-butt mattress stitch. I may put the second side on hold for a bit because I've been using my beloved Holtz and Stein ebony 3.25mm circular needles for this and they need to go back to their first commitment.

Meet Rhinegold.

I began Rheingold about 2 years ago and for some reason - she fell by the wayside. I absolutely love this design by Jade Starmore and the Hebridean 2 ply is wonderful. Looks like Rhinie will be the resurrected UFO for 2007. This one's for you Anmiryam! At any rate, I swiped the needle out from under Rheingold to do the front of the skirt and I figure if I get back at it with gusto, it should finish up quickly. Famous last words. I want to wear Rheingold at Rhinebeck. There's a Dr. Seuss story in there somewhere.

Front burner project now is Poppy. I completed the first sleeve and decided to sew it in and try it on to ensure that my alterations to shorten it were acceptable. I'm pleased to report that the sleeve is perfecto! I'm also very excited after trying it on with the one sleeve. It's going to fit perfectly and I'm really pleased with the colours.

I did find a really cool site in the UK with amazing sock yarn. It's called Piece of Beauty Yarn Store and this colourway is the very "Zenlike" Robe and Bowl. Isn't it pretty? I think I'll make the Rozas socks from the new IK.

Dr. Stephannie jokes that she's working on time shifting and parallel universe strategies to get us all more knitting time . I'm cheering her on from the sidelines. I may just have to take that girl some wine to facilitate the research!