Saturday, October 16, 2010

Campolmi Roberto Filati

When I was in Florence in September, I went to the biggest yarn store in town, Campolmi Roberto Filati.It presents a modest storefront tucked into a small alley under the shadow of Il Duomo. If I hadn't seen the two bright skeins of yarn tacked up by the open door, I might have passed it by.

The store had two rooms packed floor to ceiling with yarn.

I bought two skeins of this

to make baby stuff.

And, I thought, this single skein of shiny cotton.

Turns out the cotton was a mistake. It's several lengths all tangled together. I am trying to untangle it and wind it into a ball - or balls. I suspect it's going to take forever. I like the yarn, though, so shiny, so soft, such a wonderful color.

Dang, I hope that one day I actually get it into shape to knit with...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Italia Filati

Filati is how you say yarn in Italian. I know this because in the last week I've been to yarn stores in Siene and Florence. (Woo-hoo!) Look for the full report with photos when I get back to the USA.

Yes, I did buy yarn, but not enough.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

So How Am I Going to Do This?

I've decided to make fingerless mitts for my Minnesota nieces for Christmas. It seems that fingerless mitts are a hot fashion statement this year. I messaged the elder niece on Facebook and asked for current favorite colors: red and orange.

The mitts need to fill several requirements.
1. Warm for the Minnesota winter.
2. Machine washable - a biggie.
3. Bright and colorful - got a leg up on that with red and orange.
4. Unique, yet not in an Aunt Ethyl ruffled underwear sort of a way.
5. Relatively quick and easy to knit.

Numbers 1, 2, 3 and 5 can all be covered in one fell swoop. Superwash worsted weight wool, variegated for interest.

The red was pretty easy:
Cascade 220 Superwash Paints in colorway 9958 (such an evocative color name.)

I think a simple big cable down the back and we're cooking with gas. I can sound like Aunt Ethyl even if I'm trying to not knit like her.

But try to find a nice, bright, orange worsted.


I finally ended up deciding to combine two yarns, Cascade 220 Superwash Sport colorway 822, two 136 yard skeins, and Knit One Crochet Too Crock o' Dye sock yarn in #250, variegated oranges, one 416 yard skein; held together to knit doubled.

One thing I really prefer to do when knitting pairs is knit both pieces simultaneously on one circular needle. That way they're pretty sure to come out the same.

Geeze, I thought, ain't this gunna be fun, knitting with two skeins of orange sport yarn and one skein of variegated sock yarn, pulled from both ends. The possibilities for tangles would be endless.

Fortunately, in my case, laziness is the mother of invention, and when I realized I was going to have to ball all three skeins anyway, I decided to try to pair up my strands early on.

The Cascade and Knit One Crochet Too skeins were almost identical in circumference once I got them unwrapped, so I placed the sock yarn on my swift first, then stacked the first sport skein on top, making sure that both would unwind in the same direction and start at about the same place.

Know what? It worked! I now have two skeins of doubled yarn all ready to knit with.

Let's hope that my offerings, unlike Aunt Ethyl's ruffled undergarments, are kid-cool enough not to end up living out their lives in the back of a dresser drawer. That's requirement item number 4, by the way. The one I still have to make sure I cover.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What I Did on My Vacation

I didn't go to Disneyland. I didn't go to Hawaii. I went to the cabin in Idaho and spent a good bit of time there knitting. And knit on the eight+ hour drives each way too.

I finally finished the bunny slippers! Yay! Hurray!

Their story is: He's a country bunny, come to the city to visit, and she's a city bun who's no better than she should be. Let's hope he doesn't lose his tail. (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.)

For a good friend who's undergoing chemotherapy, I knit two hats. The russet colored one is knit of Elsebeth Lavold Cool Wool, 50% wool, 50% cotton. Very nice. Soft. It's intended to be worn purl side out, so it's smooth on her sensitive scalp, as a sleeping cap. Since socks knit with the smooth stockinet side in on the sole are called "princess sole", I named this hat the "Princess in Disguise Bed Cap."

The other one is just for fun, knit from Crystal Palace Splash, 100% polyester. I call it the "Ditzy Blonde Cap."

And, just to keep things even (heads and toes, don't yah know), I knit a pair of bed socks out of Patons Shetland Chunky Tweeds, 75% acrylic, 25% wool, machine wash & dry - I know the habits of the person who's getting these, they've gotta be indestructible.

I thought I was selecting an elegant pattern. It looked elegant in the sock book. Of course, when knit with chunky brown yarn instead of delicate, pale saffron, sock yarn... What can I say? Something was lacking in the translation. The "lace" looks like Tootsie Rolls appliqued to the socks. So I decided to call them the Tootsie Roll Sweet Dreams Bed Socks.

Does that make it sound like the end result was on purpose? (I hope.)

P.S. Yes, I do name all of my projects. I want them to feel important.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Choices, Choices

I'm headed off to Idaho in the morning - way, way too early in the morning. The trip does involve long stretches of sitting in the car, however, so I'm trying to decide what knitting projects to take with me.


Chemo cap? Bed sox? Lace?

I'd better hurry as the Engineer has decided we need to leave at 4:00 a.m.

Is it any wonder that one of his many nicknames is, "my Insane Travel Agent"?

Back in nine days.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sophisticated Circular Needle Storage

My friend, GuiGirl, who has taken up knitting, asked me how I store my circular needles. I said I'd send her a picture. I'm sure she's expecting something very elegant.

Here it is GuiGirl.

Yep. you guessed right in one. It's a gallon zip lock bag. If I could be bothered to take the time, I would write the size and length of each needle that I generally keep in my fancy storage container on it with a Sharpie, but instead I use a tape measurer and one of those little ruler thingies with holes in it to measure the circs when I need to select one.

Hey, I never claimed I was efficient.

Then I got extravagant and ordered a complete set of Knit Picks Options Harmony Wood interchangeable needles. I love 'em! They're just right for me most of the time; smoother than bamboo, but not so slippery as Addi Turbos.

The Knit Picks set came in a plastic case with the needles elasticed to a card and the cables in little cellophane envelopes that fit into a plastic wallet. There are sleeves on both sides inside the plastic case for the needle tips.

Not being a huge fan of plastic (other than zip lock bags), I bought a fabric needle case at Tuesday Morning for $2.99 on clearance, mostly because I like the blue print fabric. I numbered the needle sleeves in Sharpie and tucked the needles into them. Now I don't have to measure them every time. That's nice. I fold the fabric case in half because just the tips are a whole lot shorter than 14 inch needles. If I ever get around to it, I think I will put a couple of elastic bands with Velcro fasteners in the unused top half, lable them with the length of the cables and clip the cables into the same case.

When I get around to it.

As an added benefit, the last little needle sleeve works well to hold the Knit Picks tightening key.

So that's my system.

Except for the needles that I have scattered other places around the house.

Darned if I know where some of them are.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Big Tink - Step by Step

#1. Knit over to where the mistake is and put a stitch holder on your needle so you don't lose good stitches as you work on your repair.

#2. Drop the necessary stitches.
I dropped one full 12 stitch repeat to make sure I didn't make any mistakes following my pattern. Do this one or two stitches at a time - carefully is the byword here.

Since this is lace, I made sure to drop back to a purl row, that way I knew I had the right number of stitches and they were all the same. Dropping back to a knit row would have meant coping with yarn overs and knit togethers - why do that if you don't have to? The green locking stitch marker neatly holds the strands I've unravelled. It keeps the strands from tangling and me from using the wrong strand to knit with.

#3. Place the dropped stitches on a dpn one by one as you unravel them.
I've read that you should put the dropped stitches on a dpn that's a size or two smaller than the original needle. I don't agree with this as it boogers up my tension, so I use the same size. It makes it a little tougher to do the last couple of stitches in the group, but I think it looks better in the end. If you have trouble picking up the stitches with the working size needle, use a smaller one, then transfer them.

#4. Put a stitch holder on the needle you haven't gotten to yet so those stitches are secure as well.
The only loose stitches should be the ones you've dropped on purpose. (Since I was knitting this on a circular needle, I just pulled the two sides of the needle through so the stitches were on the cable instead of the needle - I'm kinda lazy.)

#5. Knit.
Carefully select the correct strand of yarn by seeing which is closest to the dpn your stitches are on. Take that one strand out of the locking stitch marker and using another dpn knit it as per your pattern. I use my pinky to control the tension until there is too little yarn to grip, then I pinch it between index finger and thumb.

#6. Purl.
I purl back to try to keep my technique as similar to the original knitting as possible. Purling back is also a good idea because your tension might be different at the beginning of a row where you have more yarn to work with than at the end of the row when the yarn is tight. Working both ways will help even this out a bit. If you hate purling, it is possible to knit the purl rows too by not turning your work and always starting at the right hand side since the work in on dpn's.

#7. Tah-dah!
When you have completed all of your reknitting, just take the stitch holder off your right hand needle, knit the stitches off the dpn, then move on to the left needle.

Your repair probably won't look identical to your original knitting, but massage it a bit both while it's dry and when it's blocking, and nobody besides yourself will ever be able to tell. (Unless, of course, you point it out to another knitter, who will say, "Oh, yeah, I see," but be impressed nonetheless.)

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Big Tink

I'm knitting on a deadline. You know what that means... Big Time Screw-ups. I was eight rows past the boo-boo before I realized I'd made it.

Evil Language!

The pattern has a twelve stitch repeat, so I dropped the whole repeat that I'd slaughtered down eight rows and stuck the stitches on a dpn. I'm going to wait until it's light tomorrow to try to reknit so I can photograph and blog the joyous experience.

Cross fingers for me.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Still Knittin'

Though my fingers may not have been typing lately, they have kept busy with knitting. Here's the apropos section from my Ravelry projects page. Have about a half dozen other things in progress as well.

I'm afraid I read like I knit. Right now I have 15 library books checked out. I'm in the middle of three, have finished one and read bits and pieces of most of the others. (Or, if I'm really honest, looked at the pictures. What? I like pictures.)

Is it any wonder I have trouble keeping track of things?

Monday, June 21, 2010

I Thought It Was Just a Fling...

but it looks like it's going to be a long term relationship.

Last week was World Wide Knit in Public Week, so Saturday I went to the most L of my LYS's, Blazing Needles, to do just that. Cynthia, the owner, was totally geared up, she had food and drink, lots of extra chairs and temporary tattoos for her knitters. Since Blazing Needles has a way cool logo, I immediately stuck out my arm.

Woo-hoo, I be bad to the needles!

Got some real double takes as I went about the rest of my day's activities. It was fun. The Engineer thought it was atrocious, which was also fun. What good is a spouse if you don't tease him occasionally?

Well, 52 hours, two showers, several spot washings and a couple of body lotion scrubs later, it looks like I'm in this for the long haul.
And it's to dang warm for long sleeves, so it's gunna show.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Dye Lots

I bought some stuff from a few weeks ago and to get my order up over the $50 mark (FREE Shipping, don't yah know) I bought one skein of "Last Chance Colors" yarn. 462 yards/100 grams of 75% wool, 25% nylon sock yarn in kettle dyed "Grasshopper" colorway - $6.99, not bad.

It arrived promptly and I liked it.

Then I stepped on my size 4 needle and broke it.
Yes, I should know better than to try on the tabi toe socks while they're still on the needles, but how else am I going to know if the toes are long enough and when it's time to turn the heel.

So, since I had to order new size 4 Harmony needles from Knit Picks, I decided to get four more skeins of that nice Grasshopper sock yarn. That would be enough to make a dandy big shawl.

The KnitPicks box arrived promptly.

The new skeins of yarn are not the same color. Nor are they in the same format. The first skein was "Stroll", the sock yarn formerly known as "Essential." The second order was that former yarn known as "Essential." Same yarn, really, except for the dye lot. The four new skeins are yellower and less variegated than the original skein. I don't like them as well.

Ah well, live and learn. And four skeins, 1,848 yards, is still more than enough to make a dandy big shawl. With the favorite skein left over for getting creative -- socks, hat, scarf, mittens, who knows what it will become.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Where Have I Been?

I really am trying to crawl out...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Yarn Lust Redux

Almost since learning to knit two years ago, I have been afflicted with a serious case of yarn lust. I've always had the potential. I've never been able to walk through a fabric store without running my hand over the bolts of cloth and fantasizing, I've always loved buttons and fine papers, things that seduce my sight, touch and other senses.

I have boxes in my office closet of fabrics of vintages from my undergrad years to current. I have beads and pheasant hackles, art paper and jewelry findings, paints and markers, clay tools and macrame cord.

The yarn lust didn't overwhelm me immediately upon learning to purl. I'd learned to knit in grade school, but wasn't able to wrap my mind around purling until I went at it Continental style two years ago. The yarn for my first few projects came from my closet boxes (yes, I already had some yarn from college days as well as my Mother-in-law's antiquated stash) and JoAnn's. Then I discovered real yarn stores and all hope of abstaining from gratuitous yarn purchases was dead.

Now looking at my stash page on Ravelry, it shows I have 175 individual yarns stashed, 30 "used", 1 that I'm willing to trade or sell (anybody out there want 5 skeins bright red-orange eyelash yarn?) and 8 "traded/sold/gifted". Which makes a grand total of 214.

Geeze louise!

What's really sad is I think it's contagious... She's got a thing for alpaca. It's a good thing cats don't carry credit cards.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Knitting for NPR

The NPR station I keep my car radio set to, KCPW, is having a Valentines Online Auction. What, I asked myself, would be a romantic bit of knitting I could donate? I'm not good enough to knit a slinky, see-through tank top. Nor did I think it would be a good idea to get into the more risque type things that they rate for "Adults Only" on Ravelry.

And, oh, by the way, the auction starts Friday, February 29th.


How about a spa set?

Custom designed, one-of-a-kind. Add a bar of organic lavender goat milk soap, a couple of sea shells and a candle for romance.

Oh yeah, mushy!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Another Free Pattern

For Christmas knitting, I wanted things that were quick but nice with a bit of elegance. For my favorite sister-in-law-in-law I made a neck wrap of baby alpaca.

Ooh, soft!

Click here or go to the links on the side for the free Reversible Lace Neck Wrap pattern.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Back With a Touch of Elegance

Perhaps a celebration is in order since this is my first blog post in over a month.
Step in, relax, have a glass of wine.

Over the holidays I knit two wine bottle sleeves and sixteen coasters. They were great travel knitting because both bottle sleeves and coasters are relatively mindless knitting. I used circular needles for everything so I wouldn't have to worry about dropping a needle on the airplanes. I did need to get home to felt them, which was fine as I've been in and out (and in and out) of town for the past month.

I knit one bottle sleeve larger and gave that one away before I could take a picture. Below are some in progress photos.

And here is a link for a free pdf of the patterns.