Archives for category: bird in hand

Lo, owls!

Pattern: o w l s, by Kate Davies (rav project link here)
Size made: Small
Yarn used: Beaverslide McTaggart Tweed, Big Sky Blue, about 3.25 skeins (just under 700 yards)
Needles used: US 10/6.0 mm for most of the sweater; used a US 8/5.0 mm needle for the neck ribbing because I didn’t have the appropriate length US 10 needle handy; bound off with a US 10.5/6.5 mm needle.
Date started: January 26, 2009
Date completed: January 30, 2009
Mods: I wasn’t paying attention and didn’t do the last set of increases soon enough, so the sleeves don’t slope exactly as written.

Knit to about 16 inches before starting short rows. I messed up the stitch marker placement and so the short rows might start/end in bizarre places. This weirdness carried into the yoke decreases, so I couldn’t follow the directions exactly and had to fudge it a bit, but it’s not noticeable.

Notes:

  • Knit the sleeves first, two at a time, using Magic Loop. Finished sleeves in two days (it took about 1 skein for the two sleeves).
  • I used some buttons and some little glass flower beads (this type) for the owl eyes. WOW, were there ever a lot of buttons to sew on for this sweater. I tried to make each owl different (at least from its immediate neighbors), picking different eye buttons or sewing the thread through the holes in different patterns.
  • The Beaverslide is really soft, warm, and nice, but the surface texture is pretty uneven, so the stitch definition isn’t as good as I would have expected. It has sort of a light, spongy consistency to it, with very little drape. It works better for more structured pieces, I think; instead of skimming over lumps and bumps on the body, it tends to kind of bunch up and sit there in unflattering creases. I’m not sure what to make with the remaining 580 yards in my stash.
  • The yarn also would probably do better knit at a slightly tighter gauge, though this would make it even less drapey. The stockinette looked a little loose, although it did bloom and fill out a bit on blocking.
  • The shaping is interesting–you do waist shaping only in the back, along two dart lines, rather than in the front and back or on the sides. The upper back is kind of baggy on me–not sure if this is a result of putting all the curves into the back of the sweater or if it just doesn’t fit my proportions.
  • The sweater was such an instant gratification project. I think people overestimate how much work a bulky-weight sweater project is–this contained far fewer stitches than a pair of socks, or possibly even a single sock, in fingering weight, and it’s about 90% stockinette stitch in the round.
  • I have gotten a lot of random compliments on this sweater, mostly starting out with a cry of “oh, my God, they’re owls!” as the cable pattern comes into focus.
  • Bottom line, I really love this sweater. It nicely fits a niche in my wardrobe previously filled only by store-bought sweaters: sturdy worsted weight long-sleeved pullover. I have several other handknit pullovers, but they tend to be either made of soft and delicate materials–not the kind of thing you’d wear for washing dishes or taking out the trash–or lighter or heavier weight. The short rows shape the neck nicely so it doesn’t ride up and get all chokey in the front (a big problem with my Leaf Lace pullover). And the fitted sleeves may not be as pretty as bell sleeves, but they’re much more wearable (they don’t flop around and get in the way, or let in cold air) so I prefer them to the sleeves of my Phyllo Yoked Pullover or my Hourglass Pullover.

Closeup of back o w l s where you can see their cute little eyes and the somewhat uneven yarn texture:

You can kind of see the upper back bagginess in this photo:

The Beaverslide holds a blocking beautifully. Those creases just above the front ribbing got put into the sweater during its final blocking and haven’t come out despite lots of wear. I haven’t re-blocked it to fix it yet.

I’ve been really busy with work and other random distractions like the car stuff the past couple of weeks, but I have gotten a little knitting in. I’m trying to knit a vest for the Vest-uary knitalong on Ravelry. I’m designing it myself, in a beautiful dark gray color of Cascade Eco Wool, one of my favorite yarns. The front is a very dense slip-stitch pattern, so it’s taking ages–I’m not sure I’ll finish in time. But I’m going to go and work on it a bit and watch the rest of Hell’s Kitchen. (And about that show, specifically the Feb 19 episode. Why are these supposed food lovers such utter and total babies about what they put in their mouths? Barfing because you’re asked to eat some beef liver? Really? Srsly? What kind of chef are you? That’s good stuff.)

And my beloved Bird in Hand mittens seem to be gone for good and I’m very sad about it. I think they fell out of my pocket when I was loading groceries in a parking lot and someone swiped them. I called the lost and found twice and posted on craigslist with no luck. So I have to finish this vest and make myself some new mittens to keep my hands warm. I’m wearing my Selbuvotter:

which are very beautiful, but they’re a bit too big for me.

Sooo my trip planning is going kind of poorly. One of the airlines I have tickets with (Siem Reap Airways) got blacklisted by the EU for inadequate safety standards and suspended all flights about 6 days after I bought the tickets. Supposedly we can still fly with their parent carrier (but is that any better?) And then tonight, at Stitch ‘n’ Bitch, I broke my glasses! The earpiece just snapped right off. We’re leaving on Monday and tomorrow and Friday we’re supposed to get 6-12 inches of snow, so I’m not sure I want to venture out to the optometrist until the weekend. Not sure what to do about this, and I can’t find my spares. For the moment, I’m supergluing the broken pair back together. Things are not going well!

But I do have something knitting-related that I’m happy about, at least. More than one thing, but I don’t know how many of them I’ll get a chance to write up before I go.

Some background: my absolute favorite mittens are my Bird in Hand mittens (pattern available here.) The only problem is that when it gets down to below zero, like it was here in Madison the other day,

stranded worsted weight knit at a fingering weight gauge, while plenty warm, just isn’t quite warm enough. I wanted a pair of thrummed mittens like the ones I made Rahul (see the guts? I didn’t have a picture of them last time)

but I also wanted to wear my favorite mittens.

So I decided to retrofit my mitts with afterthought thrums!

They are invisible from the outside (aside from the mitten looking a little puffy, and fitting tighter than it used to) and super warm.

Here’s how to do it:
Gather your supplies:

  • one pair of stranded mittens, preferably a pair with more ease in them than mine have,
  • a couple of ounces of nice woolly roving, matching or not–mine is indigo and osage-dyed Corriedale from Handspun by Stefania, and really I should have used the random bright pink and orange roving I have lying around that I’ll never make anything with, rather than the expensive natural-dyed stuff, but I couldn’t resist the matching green. Whatever color you pick, it won’t show. The important thing is that the fibers should be at least a couple of inches long, and have some crimp, so they’ll stay in the mitten. There was a thread on Ravelry about thrummed mittens where someone suggested cashmere thrums. This is a bad idea, because down fibers are so short, they’ll never stay in place. You want something where you can pull off a decent-sized lock.
  • a crochet hook of a decent size (I don’t know much about crochet hook sizing, but I think I used a G hook. Something a reasonable size for worsted-weight yarn)

Turn the mitten inside out.

Pull off a piece of wool about the width of your finger and a few inches long. This is your thrum.

Stick your crochet hook under a couple of floats. Do not go through the main part of the knitted fabric, just under the floats.

Fold the thrum in half and loop the middle over the crochet hook (sorry, this is a little blurry, but you get the idea).

Use the crochet hook to pull the center of the thrum under the floats.

Now go over the floats with the crochet hook and grab the tail ends of the thrum with it…

And pull these through the loop formed by the folded middle of the thrum.

Voila, a thrum attached invisibly to the inside of the mitten, after the fact!

Continue to attach thrums evenly across the back of the fabric so you have a nice woolly layer. I have a short attention span and a lot of Christmas knitting to do, so my mittens are still pretty much in the partially-thrummed state you see below, but it has really improved their insulating powers. (For one mitt. I have part of one mitt thrummed. But on Monday I will be in a place where it’s 80 degrees out, so I’m not in a huge hurry to get this done.)

Pretty awesome, right?

I hope this trick is useful to my fellow knitters in similarly fiercely cold climates!

I will!

Pattern: Kate Gilbert’s Bird in Hand

Size: Smallest size, downsized further for a 7″ hand; finished size about 7″ around and 5″ from thumb crotch to fingertip; thumb about 2.5″ long and 3″ around. They fit my hands perfectly!

Yarn used: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Chocolate, about 1.5 skeins; Classic Elite Tapestry (Ravelry link) color 2272 (green), just less than one skein.

This photo shows the amount of yarn I had left afterwards. I started with about 1.5 skeins of WOTA (one full skein plus about half a skein left over from a scarf) and exactly 1 skein of Tapestry.

Needles used: Knit Picks nickel-plated DPNs, US size 0/2.0 mm, for about 80% of the hand of the first mitten, and Knit Picks Harmony DPNs, US size 1.5/2.5 mm for the rest.

Started: 1/3/08

Finished: 1/11/08

Mods: Aimed for a gauge of about 8 sts per inch to downsize the mittens. Since my gauge went down as I was knitting the first mitten, the size shrank accordingly and I had to block severely to fix it–the mittens are roughly the same size now, but you can see that they’re fraternal in the side-by-side pictures:



Following the advice of some people on the Ravelry Bird in Hand KAL, I used a two-color Estonian braid for the middle braid of the second mitten, to mix things up a bit. Link to the two-color braid discussion here. I like the look of it better than the single-color braid. I went back and duplicate-stitched over the middle braid in the first mitten so it would match. They look nearly identical, see?


To work a two-color braid: M1 using CC, put it back on left needle.
*From behind, knit the second st through the back loop using MC and leave it on the needle, knit the first st through the front loop using MC and drop both sts, put new st back on left needle;

From behind, knit the second st using MC and leave it on the needle, knit the first st through the front loop using CC and drop both sts, put new st back on left needle;* and so on, always knitting the back st with MC and alternating colors for the front st, until the end of the round.

Notes: The best advice I got on making these from the knitalong was to do the embroidery before closing up the thumb. My embroidery could use some work. Maybe I’ll have to make another pair so I can have another go at making realistic birds.

Here they are:


And some colorwork close-ups:


I have lots of other notes on these mittens in the previous posts about them. So I don’t have much more to say right now–I just have to say I love these mittens, they fit wonderfully, and I’d totally make another pair. I’m not sure I could say that about any of the other ones I’ve knit so far–with their repeating motifs, they somehow all seemed like much more of a slog.

Soundtrack: The Littlest Birds, by the Be Good Tanyas

“Well, the littlest birds sing the prettiest songs…”

I guess I should get around to writing up the official finished object post for the Selbuvotter Black Lilies mittens, too. There are lots more pictures and details on these in the archives.

Pattern: NHM #7 from Selbuvotter

Size: Finished size: About 6″ from thumb crotch to fingertip (i.e. about 1″ too long for my hands); thumb about 3″ long and 3.75″ around; hand about 9″ around (i.e. about 2″ too wide for my hands). There’s probably enough room in there for a fuzzy mitten liner, if I get around to making one. I think my gauge (and row gauge) is about 8 sts per inch.

Yarn used: Knit Picks Telemark in cream and black, 2 skeins each. About 1.25 skeins of black, 1.75 skeins of cream.

Needles used: US 1/2.25 mm (What was I doing with these? I wrote it down but don’t remember why I used them–the ribbing, maybe, and/or the thumb?) and US 1.5/2.5 mm circs, magic looped, for most of the mitten

Started: 9/26/07

Finished: 12/22/07

Mods: Used a striped thumb instead of the charted thumb from the pattern, as detailed here.

Notes: I ran out of black yarn when I was thisclose to finishing the second mitten:

And I stalled for a while. I don’t think a pair of mittens would normally take me three months to make.

My gauge changed kind of a lot between mittens. You can see the difference in size here, with the smaller mitten placed on top of the larger one:

Eh. They’re pretty anyway!
Here are the lilies:

The palms with the stripey thumbs:

and the undersides of the thumbs, where I more or less successfully continued the palm pattern upwards–a detail I’m quite proud of, but which would be lost on most non-knitters:

I might need some convertible mittens/glittens next. I do have a pair I cobbled together by making Knucks and putting together my own flip-top pattern, but the yarn is thin and they’re not that warm.

Berroco has their Spring 2008 collection up now. I kind of love Currer, from Norah Gaughan Vol. 2, but started to worry that perhaps this was one of those things where I’m drawn to a pattern because it’s unusual and has an interesting construction technique, but it’s actually a major fashion mistake when viewed by any non-knitter. I’m thinking this because when I looked at Ellis, Currer’s sister pattern, my first thought was that the model looked very much like a grasshopper , with wings folded neatly back.

I also like the circular neckline insert thing going on with Athos and Porthos, but I’d probably make the Lacy Waves top from Lace Style before going with either of those.

I’ve made four pairs of stranded mittens in the last year or so:

1. North Star mittens from Robin Hansen’s Knit Mittens! in Patons SWS, since given to my mother, who think they’re lovely and wants to hang them on the wall, having no use for them in California


2. Top-down mittens 5/16 from Anna Zilboorg’s Magnificent Mittens in Rowan Yorkshire Tweed DK and Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted, same pattern as Hello Yarn’s, if you can believe it (hers look so much nicer!)



3. NHM #7 mittens from Terri Shea’s Selbuvotter in Knit Picks Telemark


4. and my Bird in Hand mittens from Kate Gilbert’s site, in Knit Picks Wool of the Andes and Classic Elite Tapestry (Ravelry link). These are still blocking, so this post is still not the big reveal.

I’ve learned some things from each project, and from the fascinating hive mind of the internet, along the way, so I just wanted to post about the tips and techniques I’ve been using, and the lessons I’ve learned. I am still far from an expert on colorwork and I look forward to learning more from each project I try.

Things I’ve learned the hard way:
- Yarn choice matters. (Duh! But I always seem to learn this the hard way.) I realized after my first two pairs of mittens, particularly after seeing the contrast between HelloYarn’s Magnificent Mittens in Cascade 220 and mine, in two different weights of leftover yarn, one woolly and tweedy, the other a fuzzy, hairy singles, that using a smooth, plied yarn (and using the same weight for both colors) can make all the difference in getting your colorwork to stand out and look good. The mohair haze and sheen muddled up my colorwork, and the tension suffered from the different yarns, so your eye is drawn more to the contrast between the textures in the two yarns than the contrast between the colors. So I went with Telemark for the next pair, and the difference is plain to see.
- Color choice matters a lot. For best results, pick two colors that contrast as much as possible in both color warmth and color saturation/value. One warm, light color and one cool, dark color, or vice versa. The Patons SWS in my first pair was pretty, but because the two colorways I picked (Natural Plum and Natural Navy) were too similar in tone, the pattern got lost and you have to search a little to pick it out. Swatch as much as possible before deciding on your colors; something that looks like it should make a good combination when you’re holding the skeins next to each other might not look so great once it’s been knit up. I swatched with a couple of other colors before deciding on brown and green for my Bird in Hand mittens; the front runner going into the swatch-off was a combination of brown and periwinkle that looked very pretty in the skein, but once I swatched it, I realized the periwinkle was too close in value to the brown and wouldn’t stand out… I needed something lighter and brighter. So lime green pulled a surprise upset victory.
- Knitting at a tight gauge makes for warm hands and pretty colorwork. Knitting at a looser gauge makes for soft, comfy mittens. Three of the four mittens above are knit at a bulletproof gauge–worsted weight on size 0, 1.5, and 3 needles and sport weight on size 1.5 needles. The Magnificent Mittens were knit on size 6 needles. They’re soft and pliable, but the wind gets into them on cold days, and I can’t make snowballs with them without the snow getting into them in about 2 seconds. I wore the Patons SWS mittens through a whole day of snowman-building and snowball fights and it was hours before the snow seeped through.
- Size matters. A lot. Check your row gauge against the number of rows before and after the thumb, and make sure you’ll wind up with some correspondence to your actual hand size. Unlike plain-colored or cabled pieces, many colorwork mittens are not really properly structured for easily lengthening or shortening without destroying the pattern. (Patterns with small repeats of geometric patterns are an exception–Elli’s Herringbone Mittens or Squirrelly Swedish Mittens come to mind.)

You’ll note the strange and non-anatomical thumb placement in my North Star mittens. Contrary to what you might believe from careful study of those mittens, my thumb does not emerge from my second finger joint and shoot up from there to the length of my fingertips. (I blithely assumed that all hands were roughly the same shape and that by following the directions, I’d be fine.) They were slightly better once on, but all the blocking in the world couldn’t save the fingers from being uncomfortably short. When I rode my bike while wearing those mittens, I’d have trouble squeezing the hand brakes because my fingers wouldn’t comfortably reach that far if my thumbs were still on the handlebars.

The Magnificent Mittens and Bird in Hand mittens fit the best. The Selbuvotter, as it turns out after blocking, are tragically about half an inch or an inch too long and quite a bit too wide in the hand. However, I might use the extra space to add an angora mitten liner.
- As techniques for working a small circumference in the round, Two circs, Magic Loop, and double-pointed needles (DPNs) all have their pluses and minuses. Two circs and Magic Loop are easy to transport and easy to work with–with DPNs, I tend to get all tangled up every now and then with the yarns getting caught on stray needle tips, and sometimes the needles fall out of my work. Also, you can divide the stitches into halves, a natural way to divide them up when you’re working on a mitten. Two circs has an advantage over Magic Loop in that you can use this technique with stiff-cabled or short circular needles. Magic Loop has the fewest needle tips to wrangle with, so it’s the easiest and tidiest in many circumstances, but you do need a flexible-cabled needle like Addi Turbos or Knit Picks Options to use with it. I think that generally, for colorwork, DPNs work the best for me. The reason for this is that you can always flatten the two needles you’re working on and keep the join between needles as flat as possible, minimizing the tendency to pull too tight on the yarn or strand the floats too tightly at corners. They also have a built-in stitch marker system without annoying dangly things–you can tell by the end of each needle if you’ve muffed up the pattern somewhere because your stitch count will be wrong by that point.

If you’re doing colorwork for the first time, making a hat, like the Inga Hat, the Red Light Special, or We Call Them Pirates, would be an easier way to start than mittens, because for most of the hat, you can just work on a 16″ circular needle instead of having the double frustration of keeping your colorwork even on DPNs, magic loop, or two circs.

Things I’ve learned the easy way (aka reading up in books and on the internet, and doing what I was told):
- Knitting two-handed makes colorwork much easier for me. I couldn’t work out holding two yarns in my left hand, so I re-learned how to knit English style, and now I hold the contrast color in my left hand and the main color in my right hand.
- Be consistent with the way you carry your yarns, and carry the contrast color ahead. Nonaknits has a good post on this. Since I knit colorwork two-handed, her notes about establishing color dominance couldn’t be applied to my knitting wholesale and I had to figure out that I first need to pick up the contrast color in my left hand, and then pick up the main color in my right hand so that it travels over the left-hand strand of yarn when I wrap it around the needle.

- Catch your floats as you go. (The float being the strand of yarn carried across the back of the work while not in use.) If a float travels over a significant number of stitches in a row–”significant” may vary from two stitches to five or six stitches–you should weave it in using the other color to keep it from snagging on your fingers when wearing the mitten. I also usually catch floats in the corners of my mittens, on the last stitch of a needle or the first stitch of the next one, so that the yarn doesn’t take the shortest path possible across the corner and make the work pucker on the right side. There are a lot of tutorials out there for how to do this. Sockpr0n has an extensive tutorial. I found this Knit Picks tutorial (warning, PDF) the most helpful, personally.

If I’m weaving in a float from my left hand (CC), I keep my left hand where it is, and instead of moving my right hand over the CC yarn to wrap the MC around the needle, I move my right hand under the CC yarn and wrap the MC around the needle. I resume knitting the normal way on the next stitch.

If I’m weaving in a float from my right hand (MC)–this isn’t a concern in most patterns, but the Bird in Hand mittens feature long runs of both MC and CC–I use the method shown in the Knit Picks PDF: wrap the MC as if to knit, wrap the CC as if to knit, unwrap the MC while leaving the CC on the needle, then complete the stitch. Unfortunately, it’s not as fluid of a motion for me as weaving in CC yarn and I find it much slower.

Either way, I have to give the stranded yarn a little tug after it’s caught in order to to pull it back, away from the front of the fabric.

- On a related note, strand your yarn as loosely as possible. I’m not very good at this yet, but in theory, your work will look best if you leave big sloppy floats hanging off the back of it. I have an unfortunate tendency to pull my floats pretty tight.

- Blocking is essential to colorwork, and covers a multitude of sins, so choose a blockable yarn and preferably one that can be ironed (i.e. no acrylic). Your colorwork will almost certainly look like crap once it comes off the needles, but it will undergo a magical transformation into a flat, even, well-behaved piece of knitting once it’s been blocked. I love blocking colorwork so much, I block twice. I soak the piece in Eucalan for a while (free samples at that link), squeeze the water out with a towel, and let the piece dry, either flat or stretched out on a bottle. After it’s dry, or mostly dry, I iron it with a hot iron, and it becomes ever so flat and lovely.

- Floats give you a nice way to weave in ends so nobody can see them from the outside. My end-weaving technique is not very beautiful or elegant, but it works. I thread a tapestry needle and weave the tail in and out over the floats like I’m darning a sock. I usually weave in ends by following the path of the yarn through the backs of stitches, but I can’t usually see the actual stitches due to all the floats, and my gauge is usually so tight with colorwork that weaving into the stitches is a royal pain. So I use my hybrid weaving technique and it works just fine for me.

As a general rule, I try to let the ends of yarn do double duty wherever possible so as to minimize the number of ends to weave in. So, for example, in the Bird in Hand mittens, which call for sewing down a picot hem on the inside of the work, I left a very long tail from the cast-on and used it to sew up the hem at the end. I also left long tails from where I attached the yarn again to knit the thumb, carried them up the inside of the thumb along the inside of the floats as I worked, and used them to embroider the details (eye, wing, beak, legs) on the bird on the tip of the thumb.

I hope this is helpful and I hope I haven’t left anything out! If you have any colorwork tips, techniques, or lessons learned the hard way, please share.

I have two Bird in Hand mittens finished! I made it to the top decreases after 3 hours at knitting night; the cafe closed and kicked us out, so I went home and knit, embroidered, and wove in ends for another few hours… and I have one more Bird in Hand mitten to show for it. I did not run out of yarn, but it was close–I have probably less than 10 yards of yarn left, of either color. So 50g/95 yards seems to be (barely) sufficient yardage for the contrast color (Classic Elite Tapestry), and roughly 100g/220 yards would be safest to get for the main color–I had 1.5 skeins of chocolate brown Wool of the Andes to start with, but I have no idea exactly how many yards it was, nor how many are left over.

I love the bird on the thumb–such a little treat to look forward to. It’s like saving the cherry on top of your ice cream sundae for last.

Pictures coming soon. Mitten #1, at least, fits and is gorgeous. Mitten #2, 80% of which was knit on different sized needles than mitten #1, is somewhere in the neighborhood of the same size. I will see how it fits after blocking.

I had a bit of a scare yesterday and the day before as I was working on my Bird in Hand mittens. I was about 80% done with the first mitten when I looked at it and thought “hmm… these look awfully small.” I checked my gauge and somewhere between the cuff and the hand, I’d gone from about 8 stitches per inch to more than 9 stitches per inch. (I was watching Heroes while I knit–perhaps the plot just got too gripping?) I looked at the remaining length of the chart, did some quick calculations using my new row gauge… and realized my mittens were going to be about a inch too short.

I stamped despairingly around the house for a while. This pattern is quirky and asymmetrical, which is charming, but it also means it offers no easy way to lengthen the fingers by adding extra repeats.

Before I went to bed, I decided to soak the mitten and stretch it (still on the needles) over a Snapple bottle with the sadistic enthusiasm of a Spanish Inquisitioner, or one of the Oompa Loompas on the Mike Teavee case. In the morning, I checked it. It looked promising. Praying to the gods of knitting, I knit the rest of the mitten tip with  needles two sizes larger (US size 1.5 instead of 0)…

and lo and behold, the mitten fit. Snugly, but it fit!

(As an aside, I’m now knitting with the Knit Picks Harmony DPNs and I really like them. I prefer metal needles to wood for larger sizes, but I’ve found wooden DPNs to be much more comfortable than metal ones for me. I don’t like the idea that they might snap, but I guess that’s why they include 6 DPNs in the Harmony packages.)

I raced through the thumb so I could have the fun of knitting and embroidering the Bird in Hand. I read a wonderful tip on Ravelry–seems like common sense, but I am sure I wouldn’t have thought of it myself until after it was too late–to embroider the details on the bird before closing up the top of the thumb. I don’t know how I would have done it if I had finished knitting the thumb before doing the finishing.

I love how the mitten looks, but I’m not crazy about the bird. The French knot I made for his eye is too big, so he looks kind of bug-eyed and crazy, like that crackhead cereal-box squirrel. Also, Rahul couldn’t even see the bird and was squinting at it like a Magic Eye picture until I pointed out the beak and eye.

I have high hopes for the second bird, though. I’m about a quarter of the way through the second mitten (and through 3 discs of Heroes) and still loving this pattern. (Knitting on larger needles from the start this time, so my mittens might end up quite fraternal.)
The only problem is that I have this nasty, sneaking suspicion I might run out of brown yarn. I had a skein and a half of Wool of the Andes, so I thought I would be good, but the second skein is looking pretty thin right now… anyway, in a few days, I guess I’ll find out for sure if I need to put in another Knit Picks order.

Notes to self:

Lesson #1: Gauge matters for mittens. Even if a mitten is not much bigger than a gauge swatch itself, I should still knit a swatch for it, because I hate, hate, hate ripping my knitting back.

Lesson #2: In the future, buy more yarn than you think you need if you’re making mittens.

The Bird in Hand mittens, as I mentioned in my last post, have been hurting my hands. I bent one or two of my steel DPNs into gentle arcs trying to force the decreases. Still, soldiering on with them in search of the perfect mittens–the Selbuvotter mittens, as it turns out, are about an inch too long for my hands, and rather loose, so they’re not as warm or comfortable as they should be. I’m considering making liners, but the thumbs are already pretty stiff and snug, so that might not work well.

Here’s the palm of the mitten in progress, no flash…

And here’s the back of the hand in progress, with flash.

Because my fingers were hurting from wrestling with the DPNs, I just had to take a break when my package from WEBS arrived.

On the left, one of the size 0 DPNs I’m using for the mittens; on the right, one of the size 19 Denise needles I used for this latest FO.

The sweater in question? The Shopping Tunic, from Twinkle’s Big City Knits–and I knit the entire sweater in two evenings. At this rate, I could knit 182 sweaters a year!

Unfortunately, you kind of get out of it what you put into it. All my photos came out hideous and I have a sinking feeling this is because the sweater itself is hideous.

Here’s the least hideous of the snapshots. Gah! I mean, I love it in theory, but the gauge looks so loose and sloppy. I blocked it and everything. And it’s certainly not very flattering. Perhaps if I wore sleeker clothes underneath, in similar and darker colors, it would work better. I don’t like that big lump where you can see the waistband of my jeans.

Rahul was not a big fan of this. I tried it on to show him, and he looked dubious.

“Um. Are you giving this to someone else?”

“No.”

“Is it meant for wearing around the house?”

“No, you’re supposed to wear it out.”

He considered this for a moment and said, diplomatically, “I think the stitch size is too big.”

“But that’s the designer’s signature style!”

“Sorry. I guess I’m just a plebeian.”

“Well… it’s stylish! It was in Anthropologie!”

“No WAY!!” he exclaimed, unable to restrain his disbelief–then added, “Actually, I don’t know what Anthropologie is, but whoever they are, they did not have this sweater.”

I had to try and find the Butter Hill funnelneck online to show him. Then, because it was striped and this is not, he wouldn’t believe it was the same sweater.

“It looks like chain mail!”

“Nooo!”

“It looks like you’re about to ride into battle! You look like Barbarossa!”

Anyway–I’ll have to see if I can do anything with the styling to make it more wearable. Till then, the jury is still out on this one.

Thankfully, I do like this Flared Lace Smoke Ring I finished last week. (Isn’t that a great sweater I’m wearing? Sadly, I didn’t make it–I bought it at an Old Navy after-Christmas sale)

And this is how we wear the cowl in the old country:

Pattern: Heartstrings Flared Lace Smoke Ring

Size: As specified by the pattern: 28″ around at the base, 22″ around at the top, 18″ long.

Yarn used: Elann Silken Kydd in Baked Apple, 1 skein

Needles used: US size 6/4.0 mm Denises

Started: 12/26/07

Finished: 1/3/08

Mods: Used less than the specified yardage of yarn. Bound off with a *k1, k2tog, slip st back to left needle* BO to create a stretchy, ruffled BO edge. Other than that, nothing.

Notes: Fluffy, soft, easy, and pretty–a nice use for one skein of laceweight. Notes on the yarn are here. The stitch pattern looks complicated, but is repetitive enough that this became my TV knitting once I got through the decrease charts. (You knit from the bottom up, decreasing for a few lace repeats, and then work the last chart, keeping the stitch count constant, until the cowl is the length you want it.)

I might send this to my grandma. I’m not sure if she would wear it or if she would prefer the traditionally shaped scarves/shawls she already has.

I’m buying Barbara Abbey’s Knitting Lace with my latest Amazon gift certificate. Has anyone seen/used this book? I love the edgings section in Barbara Walker vol. 2, and I’m hoping this book will be a worthwhile supplement. Plus, it sounds like the patterns are charted–bonus!

I have some things I feel like bitching about.

Non-bitching content first. I finished my Selbuvotter mittens, after entirely too long, with a hiatus in there caused by running out of of CC yarn. I’ll post more about the project details later… in the meantime, just a couple of pretty pictures:

I finished the flared lace smoke ring I was working on and immediately cast on for yet another pair of mittens. “Didn’t you just make a pair of mittens?” said my boyfriend suspiciously. “How many mittens do you need?”

The pattern I’m using is Kate Gilbert’s lovely Bird in Hand–the flowers and vines! the Estonian braids! The tiny, adorable thumb-bird!–and it’s gorgeous, but [commence bitch #1] my hands are killing me! I thought knitting the Selbuvotter mittens using Telemark, a sport weight yarn, on US size 1.5/2.5 mm was bad enough. Now I know that was nothing compared to knitting worsted weight on size US size 0/2.0 mm needles. It’s not that my wrists hurt or anything, but I seem to have some slight bruising where my steel DPN has been pushing against my left pinky and ring finger for leverage. The main part of the knitting is OK, but all the decreases and twists in the cuff were murder on my finger. Ow.

I’m using Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Chocolate for the main color. It’s the lighter brown on the right in the picture below:

And I’m using Classic Elite Tapestry in a kind of lime green color for the contrast. It’s the skein on the left in the picture below:

(I got all 6 of these skeins for $5 at a thrift store. One of the best yarn finds ever!)

[Commence bitch #2]
I bought some Jaggerspun Zephyr yarn from Sarah’s Yarns. She had kindly posted to let people know her prices were going up due to increases in the wholesale cost, so I thought I’d make an order so I could see what all the fuss was about with this cult classic yarn. I got a couple of skeins of the laceweight in a dark grapey purple, perhaps for the Peacock Feathers shawl, and some of the DK weight in Ruby–not sure what for, but I have a weakness for burgundy reds.

The UPS tracking number said it was delivered on December 15th, but I have seen no sign of it.

I have every confidence that Sarah will make it right if the package doesn’t ever show up (for the moment, she’s she put a trace on it) but if someone stole the package, that just sucks. I highly doubt that any of my neighbors is a sticky-fingered knitter. Maybe one, or the other, but probably not both. Maybe it was a drive-by swiping, or maybe my package accidentally got sent to Texas or something.

[Commence bitch #3]
I had a big package of Malabrigo on order through a group buy. I didn’t realize this was an issue, but apparently some retailer didn’t like the competition, secretly added themselves to the list, and ratted out the group to Malabrigo, making them cancel the order. Stoolie! Mole!

I guess I can’t really complain that strongly about the backstabby retailer trying to get rid of their competition if Malabrigo has an explicit anti-coop policy, although I still feel like it’s sneaky and underhanded to secretly join the group, pretending all the while that they have good intentions. Some yarn manufacturers, like 100purewool and Peace Fleece, encourage coop/group buys, but others have issues with it and I guess Malabrigo is one of them.

Sad. I had enough worsted weight in Garnet headed my way to make the balloon-sleeve jacket from the cover of Sensual Knits, and I was going to try some of the absolutely luscious (but incredibly expensive) handspun, hand-dyed angora in Velvet Grapes.

One of these days. I’ve still never tried Malabrigo and this is one of those other cult classic yarns that everyone raves about. Maybe I’ll pick some up at the LYS next time they have a good color in stock.

[Commence bitch #4]
Also, I ordered from the WEBS anniversary sale and they were out of part of my order. I only found this out when they shipped the incomplete package and I noticed the billed total was different from what I was expecting. I wish they had told me first, because I ended up substituting colors and now they’re sending me a second, separate package when everything could easily have gone in the same box.

[Commence bitch #5]
My computer crashed while I was writing this.

[Commence bitch #6]
I thought Rahul was just making it up when he told me the New York Times had reported that Mike Huckabee, who just won the Republican Iowa caucus, used to cook up squirrels in a popcorn popper and eat them.

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