Tuesday, August 12, 2008

felting frenzy

As you know all too well by now, I am a devoted lover of all things cute...or should I say Kyuuto?
My latest endeavor into the world of Japanese Cuteness was through the medium of felt, and I loved it! This was my first attempt at needle felting, or felting anything for that matter, and I finally get what all the hype is about. It happens often that a customer will come into the store with a slightly frenzied look in their eyes searching for more felting needles and roving to felt. They carefully pick over colours, searching for the perfect fit for their projects, and leave dejected if the right eye colour isn't there. This behaviour now makes sence to me; I have joined the ranks of the frenzied felter, and I love it!

For my first attempt I decided to felt some birds. There are great instructions in Kyuuto's Fuzzy Felted Friends, and I figured that I should understand the basics of needle felting before I embark on the life-size deep sea diorama that I've been planning. Success! As it turns out, needle felting is quick and easy as well as being super fun. With just a felting needle and a pinch (or handful, depending on your project) of roving, you can make the soft and fuzzy likeness of just about anything you want!

In other Kyuuto news, I have just finished another amigurumi. This time its a bunny made from Noro Kochoran. Amigurumi are great fun to make, but even more fun to assemble as each lumpy little piece of crochet is transformed into one very cute creature!

Monday, August 11, 2008

February Baby Sweater...Check!

It took me all of 3 or 4 hours to finish this adorable little sweater. Now I'm wishing that I had more little people to knit for! I am very happy with the way my baby sweater turned out, all except for one buttonhole that went horrible wrong (no idea how I did this!) I made buttonholes with a simple yarnover and knit two together, just like E.Z. says. Mysteriously - and quite annoyingly - one buttonhole is double the size of all the others! Of course it won't be a problem to stitch it in more tightly, but I just love to complain.
I am yet to find buttons for this little sweater; the ones I had in reserve for it have turned out to be too small...whatever I do better get done quick before she grows out of it!
As my first Elizabeth Zimmermann pattern, I have to say that I really enjoyed all the creative freedoms that she provides in her patterns. I often find myself frustrated by very restrictive patterns, wanting to change certain elements, keep some, and eliminate others all together. This can be tricky with some patterns (as I have learned over and over again after ripping out yet another lumpy cone-head hat). E.Z. leaves room for knitters to be creative with her patterns, yarn and gauge are flexible. Stitch pattern and length are completely up to you. And with the aid of her percentages system, you have more control over your sweater than ever before...unless you write the pattern yourself of course!

My original intention was to knit the Feb. Sweater and then the Baby Surprise Jacket both as gifts for my cousin's children who are 9 months and four years old. I've decided instead to knit my little cousin the River Forest Gansey sweater from Handknit Holidays. This is a great pattern, providing adult and child sizing for a worsted weight sweater with simple cabling and a easy but very pretty stitch pattern. I've chosen to knit this sweater in Cascade 220 Heathers (the yarn specified in the pattern) in a beautiful dark forest green. Aside from some minor confusion with the pattern charts all is well with the sweater, and I think it will be a fairly quick knit; good think I'm making the child version! Apologies for all the Gansey pics being out of focus...the light has been very strange in my apartment today!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Well, progress has been much slower than I expected, but the February Baby Sweater is looking very cute! I've been having a hard time focusing on my knitting recently (gasp!) Don't worry, I think I'm still winding down from my knitting frenzy at the cottage a week or so back. Luckily, the Feb. Baby Sweater is the perfect project for someone with knitting A.D.D. I raced through the garter stitch yoke in about half an hour, then a sleeve followed shortly after in the next half hour. It is worth mentioning that Elizabeth Zimmerman designed this sweater to be as quick and simple as possible (like so many of her other designs). The sweater is nearly seamless, the sleeves being the exception; as these are barely 5" seaming will not be a large undertaking. After the two sleeves are knit from the yoke, the body is joined and knit down to the garter stitch edging along the sweater bottom. Garter button bands are knit into the garment, and do not require picking up of stitches. The lace motif is just about as simple as it gets, instantly memorizable! All in all, if you're looking for maximum cute for a minimum investment of time and effort, this just might be the baby sweater for you.

I chose to use Jo Sharp Silkroad Tweed DK - a yarn that is currently 40% off in the store. Hem hem. This pattern does not provide conventional sizing, instead you control the size of your garment by changing your gauge. I'm making this sweater for my niece who is 9 months old, and through some creative figuring, I decided that a DK yarn would give me the perfect not-too-big-not-too-small size that I needed! I am using 4.5mm needles, in order to get a gauge of 20 stitches in 4". This is slightly large for a Dk weight yarn, but I want her to be able to grow into this sweater a little bit.

Thats all the news I've got for now. Hope to see you at the Summer Knitting Club meeting tonight!

Monday, August 4, 2008

The August Lady Sweater

My August knitting project is going to be the February Lady Sweater - The grown-up version of the baby sweater.  But, just knitting this sweater in August isn't enough of a challenge for me... I'm going to knit this sweater in 16 days, as part of the Ravelympics!   - The Olympics, Knitting-style! The idea is to complete a knitting project in the timeline of the Olympics, and there are teams, and events, and it's tonnes of fun!  

The yarn I've chosen for my February Lady is Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool - It's a DK weight yarn, which is smaller then the Aran yarn the pattern calls for, so to compensate, i've done some math, and figured out I need to go up two sizes and work on a 4mm needle to get a sweater that will fit me.  I've already knit up a swatch.  (this is considered training, and is allowed, before the Olympics start) 

Since the theme for this month is Elizabeth Zimmermann, here's some projects of hers I have completed recently.   You can find them both in the Opinionated Knitter, and Knitters Workshop. 

First, the famous, and ever popular Baby Surprise Jacket.  You've seen the one I knit from Silk Garden Lite, it's hanging in the store.  But here's one that I made from regular Silk Garden, for a 6-12 month size.  

The BSJ is knit all in one piece, all in garter stitch, this means that there is no purling! It's fun to knit, and so interesting. It looks beautiful in self-striping yarns, as well as verigated, or hand dyed yarns, and you can knit in any yarn in the store, and come up with a different size... from sock weight for a newborn, to big wool for a large child / small adult!

Next, there is the Tomten, which is another all-garter sweater.

This is a great sweater to try out striping on. I love the way the striping on the arms works to look like suspenders. I used Lang Zoom, which is a heavy worsted weight yarn, and I made it to fit my two year old cousin. It's a quick, and fun knit too!

Friday, August 1, 2008

August is Uppon us

Hi all, hope that July treated you well, and that you were able to get a lot of knitting done! As you might already know by now, we will be having a Summer Knitting Club meeting on Wednesday at 7 pm. Bring yourself and some knitting and spend a couple hours chatting with people who love to knit as much as you do. We'll talk about our lace and sock projects from the past two months, and our plans for August, which I am about to disclose to you right now....

The project theme for our third and final month of Summer Knitting Club is...Elizabeth Zimmerman! Our pattern recommendations for this month are the Baby Surprise Jacket, Tomten Jacket and February Baby Sweater. However, there are adult versions of all of these patterns available, so if you're craving a larger project, why not make a sweater for yourself? If you are unfamiliar with these patterns, or Elizabeth Zimmerman for that matter, pop by the store to have a look at her books...or at least look her up on Wikipedia. If you're a Ravelry member, there is a "Zimmermaniacs" group that has loads of information in its forums on her and her patterns.

I've decided to start out August by knitting the February Baby Sweater, because I have a soft spot for lace (of course!) The yarn I've selected is Jo Sharp DK Tweed in an icy blue colour that I love. I have yet to cast on, but here's a look at the yarn...

Hope to see you on Wednesday evening. And just a small reminder that our Jazzy Jazzfest sale is still alive and strong. Save 40% on most of the yarn in the store. Until August 8th.