Monday, February 19, 2007

A very brief yarn review

I like how Lion brand Lion Suede feels when it's knitted up, but I'm not so sure I like knitting with it. I feel like it's giving me a rug burn on my middle finger as I feed the yarn through my hand. Of course, this could just be from over-use after all the crocheting I did this weekend.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Scarves! Scarves! Scarves! (and a hat)

I strongly believe that you can never have too many scarves. Or hats. Or armwarmers. Here are three scarves which I've made, a new one each year:

The oldest is the seed-stitch scarf in the middle. It was done back in '04, and the only reason I even know that is because I remember working on it at my mom's old apartment before she moved.

It's knit from that perennial favorite, Lion Wool-Ease, on JPN 10(5.1mm) needles. I can't remember how many stitches I cast on, but there are 20 rows of each color.

When I started trying to expand my crochet knowledge last winter beyond chains and single crochet, I selected a shell and wave scarf pattern from

It's looking a bit haggard at this point, I've worn it a lot, and I attempted several projects with it before this one so the yarn was already a bit stressed out from being frogged so many times. It's Diamond Diaparterre (50/50 alpaca/acrylic), the same yarn I used for my Clapotis. Strangely enough, as soft and wonderful as the Clap is, this scarf can feel scratchy at times (probably due to all that frogging). The coolest part is how, thanks to the shells, the color pattern comes out in splotches and zigzags instead of stripes.

After that scarf, I fell away from crochet again, went through a few (relatively unproductive) cosplay and (somewhat productive) knitting phases, and didn't come back to it until this winter. I put the purple merino I bought to good use and made the One-Skein Scarf from SnB: The Happy Hooker(which was a misnomer in my case, since it took 2 1/2 skeins).

I never really bother with checking gauges when it comes to scarves and just adjust accordingly to suit my specifications. In this case, I increased the repeats from 3 rows to 5 and added an extra scallop on each end to compensate. I'm still working on my crochet technique and am much better at working in the round than straight; my chain edges always seem to be tight and make the whole piece curve, even when I cast on with larger hooks (as I did in this case). Maybe a good blocking would fix it, but it doesn't matter too much when I wear it, so it's really not a priority.

I had 1 1/2 skeins left over, so I made a hat to match:

It's the Blue Star Cloche from Hook Me Up! Crochet, although the star on it is actually this pattern and made out of leftover Clap yarn. I used an I hook instead of the recommended H since I wanted it to be a bit longer.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Good FOs, Bad Photography

In case you haven't noticed, I'm not exactly the slickest with a camera. Here are a couple FOs I made that didn't quite translate well to film (or a Sony Cybershot, as the case may be). One I could attempt to reshoot but eh, the other is no longer in my possession.

Here's my third hat based off the Kittyville devil hat pattern. I made my first a long time ago as my first experience with knitting in the round, and my second I styled after Lum from the series Urusei Yatsura (which is the hat I'm wearing in my profile pic). As an aside, since she's based after the oni, I wear the hat to school on Setsubun, and the kids love it (they always recognize the oni horns).
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I knit the pattern as written on US 7(4.5mm)circs and DPNs, but this time I substituted a 2x2 rib for the seed stitch and knit the ear flaps in stockinette with garter stitch selveges to prevent curling, and on all of them I widened the ear flaps by 2 stitches. The ties are just twisted cords. I used Hamanaka Men's Club Master (60% wool 40% acrylic) that was left over from another project, and the variegated yarn is some type of Noro I got out of a clearance bin (without even realizing it was Noro, I couldn't read the kanji at the time. Had I known, I would have bought a lot more of it, it was dirt cheap). The fair isle pattern came from Big Needle Knit Afghans, and the stripes were on a whim.

Speaking of Big Needle Knit Afghans, I actually knit one for a friend of mine. My former coworker was pregnant with her third child, so I made the Morning Sunlight afghan for her:
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It's knit on US size 17 circs (to accomodate the stitches), triple-stranded Caron Simply Soft (100% acrylic and machine washable, a good idea for baby goods). Easy-peasy, not much to say about it. I took these photos before blocking it (which, in the case of acrylic, means throwing it in the washer to even out the stitches), so it looks a bit wobbly.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Dangers of Clearance Sales

In the past two days, I have acquired an absurd amount of new materials. My original intention was to buy more of the blue merino yarn, enough to make the Unseamly Sweater from SnB: The Happy Hooker. Not only was I able to obtain said yarn (I was really afraid they'd be sold out after the pumpkin-color disappointment), but I also picked up two skeins of tan (for what, I don't know) and one skein of rose to make a hat. The lilac I had purchased became a scarf and hat which I'll post later.

Now, you're probably saying, "but Marisa, there are four kinds of yarn there, and you only mentioned three!" Or maybe you're not. Either way, the fourth skein is Katylana Soft Colorful (100% nylon and wonderfully pettable) which I found today in the clearance bin for half off. As yesterday's post said, I just barely ran out of yarn while crocheting a hat, so today I went to pick up another skein of the rose. Silly me, thinking I could escape with just a skein of yarn!

Thanks to their clearance, I also stocked up on beads:

The palette sets are really nice: each one contains a mix of seed beads, pearls, faceted beads (is that the correct term? I'm so not up on bead lingo), glass beads, and nylon bead cord. The smaller vials are a mix of seed and tubular beads. Here they are after being organized (more or less) by category:

They're much easier to see without the plastic baggies, aren't they? Plus, I have 2 extra palettes in case I buy more beads.

As an aside, this particular craft store offers a stamp card, for every 10,000 yen you spend, you receive coupons worth 500 yen towards your next purchase (basically for every $100, you get a $5 credit). They also offer some sort of special bonus if you complete 5 cards. I'm already 3/4 done with my third card -_-;

Also, I was right, they're getting rid of the winter yarn to make room for the spring yarn. It has arrived. It's delicious.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A lesson in frustration

Frustration is running out of yarn 1 1/2 rounds away from finishing.

Poop, and I really wanted to wear a new hat tomorrow. It's back to the craft store after work!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Random Thought 2/13

Recently I've seen a lot of scarves and purses in various combos of knit and crochet for sale. Upon looking at the various goods being offered, it occurred to me that basic crochet looks a lot more impressive than basic knitting.

A lot of the crocheted scarves were some form of double crochet: straight dc, shells, mesh stitch (which are mostly chain stitches), etc. On the knitted side, very few were just garter stitch (and clearly not straight stockinette, for reasons addressed in my Super Scarf narration); rather, the knitted scarves featured complex cable and bobble patterns.

Considering that double crochet is considered one of the basic stitches, while cables are normally saved for intermediate knitters, it would appear that crochet has an edge for beginners when it comes to razzle-dazzle.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a cabled bag to work on....

Sunday, February 11, 2007


After knitting for a while, I got it into my head that I had to make a sweater. After all, what self-respecting knitter doesn't prove her prowess with a full knitted garment?

The problem was, I didn't really like sweaters very much, so it took a long time to find one I wanted to make. One that wouldn't be horrifically unflattering. One that wouldn't make me schvitz to death. One that would actually be worth the time it took to make.

I finally found my answer in Hip Knits: the True-Colors Zip Up. Even if I didn't end up liking it, it was knitted on US 13(9mm) and 15(10mm) needles, perfect for my short attention span.

I used the Patons Melody (68% acrylic 32% nylon)recommended in the pattern but substituted triple-stranded Lion brand Microspun (100% microfibre acrylic) for the triple-stranded Patons Look At Me (which I had never even heard of before). I've changed to a dull blue zipper instead of the shiny black one pictured here, which was actually a bit too long and made the front pucker. I've worn it a few times, and it was really nice last winter when it was a lot colder here, but I wore it home to Chicago and left it there during winter break. I might be outgrowing my "garish pink" phase anyway.

Of course, after knitting my first sweater, I came to the conclusion that I do like sweaters after all. I had a formal event to attend last March, so I decided to knit a sweater for it. I chose White Lies Designs' Milinda Pullover.

I used Olympus Alpaca Concerto, the same yarn as the blue Fetching from a few entries ago, (which were an attempt to use up the leftovers), JPN 8 needles (4.5mm, the same as US 7s, which the pattern called for).

Here's a detail of the lace:
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This pattern also started my love affair with short row bust shaping, but I think I'll save that for another installment.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

I think it's a requirement to make one these days

Time for a story: Once upon a time (embarassingly enough not that long ago), my knitting consisted exclusively of stockinette stitch rectangles that I liked to call "scarves". I made them for myself. I subjected friends and family to them. My ex-boyfriend was actually kind enough to wear his, he was a good man.

During this period I created a monstrosity affectionately referred to as "Super Scarf". Super Scarf was three skeins of Lion brand Homespun (chunky weight) knit on US 11(8mm) needles, worked across about 64 stitches. This thing was more than a scarf. Sure, with the way stockinette rolls up on itself I could use it as such. But I could also unfurl it and use it as a shawl. I could wrap it around my neck, head, face, and shoulders when I went out in a blizzard (oh how I loved that thing while waiting for the El). I could fit two of my friends in there with me. It truly lived up to its name.

Now, having expanded my knitting knowledge, I realize just how crude a piece of knitting it was. Still, it was undeniably cozy and useful. And that's where today's FO comes in: Knitty's Clapotis. The first time I saw the pattern, I wasn't all that impressed with it. Then I started to see people posting their versions, and seeing the pattern in action I thought, "wow, those are awesome!" So I decided to make my own:

It's knit from Diamond brand Diaparterre, a 50/50 alpaca/acrylic blend that's a bit expensive but wonderfully soft. The pattern itself annoyed me though-- it differentiates between knitting and knitting through the back loop. Somehow when I learned to knit I learned to do so tbl, so that's my default. Forcing myself to knit properly made the project a lot slower at the getgo. In the end, however, I'm glad I pushed myself through it, since I can knit through the front loop a lot quicker now, which is useful for lace patterns which similarly differentiate between the stitches.

Now, you're probably asking how this relates to the Super Scarf narration. Simple- the Clap is really just an upgraded Super Scarf! I can scrunch it up and use it as a scarf, or I can unfurl it (thanks to the drop stitches) and use it as a shawl. I can't quite fit three people in it, but certain concessions must be made for fashionability, after all. Actually, I take that back, I can fit three people in it, if two of them happen to be first graders (wear scarves to elementary schools at your own risk). It took a really long time to make, and I don't think I ever want to make another one (sorry Mom, I'll teach you to make your own), but it's one of my favorite things I've finished and I get a lot of use out of it.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Random Thought for the Day 2/2

As much as I adore legwear, I've never really been a big sock knitter. I've made exactly one pair of socks, the Pippi Kneestockings pattern from SnB (Lion Microspun, 100% microfibre acrylic):

You'd think that since I love socks so much, and I love knitting so much, that the two would go together perfectly. Maybe it just takes too long to knit socks. Or maybe I realize that it's much easier to buy socks with hedgehogs or Jack Skellington on them than to knit a pair.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

I am such a dork

I lost my JET diary (aka daily planner) a while back. Today at school I saw a pile of promotional diaries, and they said I could have one. I wasn't sure what sort of company it was, and it says on the back of the book that they're a sporting goods supplier. This is what the envelope it came in looks like:

And I looked at it, and I thought, "Captain Slip Slip Knit?" I still have no idea what SSK is supposed to stand for in this context. Until I do, I am sticking to my theory that he's some sort of knitting superhero.