Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tendonitis. :(

Though I've tried and tried to deny it, my tendonitis in my right hand is officially acting up. Boo. I've taken one day off from knitting this week, and I am afraid it's going to take another couple of days of rest at least to get it down to a manageable level. SO annoying. I first got it when my oldest daughter was tiny and, in hindsight, colicky--the constant holding, breastfeeding, holding some more, breastfeeding some more, rocking, and well, you get the idea...all of that was too much for my poor hand. I had so much pain that most ordinary motions were excruciating. My doctor had me put my right hand and wrist in a splint, and I promptly got tendonitis in my left hand from overuse in compensation. Some physical therapy and almost a year later, my hands were fine again. I didn't get it at all with my son, since he wasn't much for the constant breastfeeding and holding, but periods of intense knitting will get me every time. The things we suffer for our craft!

At least embroidery uses different motions, so I think I am ok to keep working on my mom's bag. Send healing vibes my way, please!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

My Own Personal Mary Poppins

When I saw the pattern for the Weekend Getaway Satchel, it was one of those "lightning strike" moments--I knew it MUST be made for my mom. One of the first movies she saw in the theater as a kid was Mary Poppins, and she still loves it--but most importantly, this bag is a symbol of what she has been to me over the past year and a half. She and my dad, through various life circumstances, found themselves with a job that enabled them to live anywhere in Southern California, so they moved right across the street from me to help me through treatment for and recovery from a chronic illness. The many hours she's spent playing with my children, running errands for me, folding laundry, painting my walls, picking up toys, and much more, have literally made my life livable. Just as Mary Poppins seemed to have everything that could possibly be needed in that bag of hers, my mom has somehow managed to anticipate our needs and fill them even before I knew what they were. As she and my dad get ready to return to their regular lives in the next few months, I wanted to make her a carpet bag as a reminder of my appreciation.

I knew this would be a time-consuming task, but since I had never done intarsia before I didn't even really know what to expect. I knitted the solid-colored back, sides, bottom, and straps first; that way when I started the intarsia panel I knew exactly how much time I would have to finish before I started the colorwork with confidence. I had to laugh at myself half-way through the first row when I realized that I had only half as many little bobbins as I needed, since I didn't realize that each section of black between the colored spots on any given row would require its own little yarn supply!

I guess I shouldn't really be surprised that I chose something this big for my first colorwork, considering that my first cable project was this:

You know, though? There really is something to be said for going "all in." Sure, the first few rows of cables or intarsia were a little shaky, but when you have so much practice right at the beginning, you can't help but learn quickly how to make it look right. After about the 15th row of the colorwork, I was twisting the yarn together when switching colors like a pro! It became very natural to work with the bobbins and maneuver the whole thing on my lap, and after finishing the panel I have the confidence to tackle any intarsia! I am no longer scared of it. (Side note: I am still very afraid of Fair Isle...should I start with an adult male sweater? *cackle*). The other nice thing about starting with this particular project is that it's going to be felted, so I knew that any holes between colors could be stitched up and the washing machine would hide a multitude of sins.

Here's the front of the bag (I shared the back's tangle of ends to weave in here). It's about 33 inches from bottom to top, to give an idea of the scale.

Today, I've been working embroidering stems, flower centers, leaf veins, and more to finish up the floral pattern before felting--this might take nearly as long as knitting the intarsia did. And, in keeping with the theme, it's also my first embroidery!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Finished: Delancey Cardigan/WIP: Weekend Getaway

My Delancey Cardigan has been finished for a couple of weeks now, and I had high hopes for a real photo shoot with this one. I wanted glamour shots, darn it! But with the holidays, finding time and a willing photographer was too hard and I decided the inside photos would have to do.

The pattern is by Alexis Winslow (just a tip: it can be purchased through the Knit Picks site for a few bucks less than the Ravelry download costs), and I'd say it's a great pattern in every way. If you get gauge, you're off and running since the pattern is very specific and clear for row-by-row instructions. I mentioned my short row problems earlier--the pattern doesn't specify *how* to do some things, just that you need to do them, so I'd say it's not a complete beginner pattern, though. It's totally seamless, so if you like that sort of thing, this is a perfect cardigan!

I used my go-to yarn, Knit Picks Swish DK. I love this yarn--it's soft, washable, and comes in beautiful colors. When it's knit at more of a worsted gauge, the fabric is so light and drapy, yet snuggly too! The colors in Delancey are Beach Glass, the perfect greeny-turquoise, and Pampas Heather, a surprisingly interesting and complex neutral. I would call it green, but as you can see, bronze buttons look like they were made for it:

In that photo you can also see the slight fuzzing on the sleeve that happens with wear--I've been wearing this a ton! Usually I'd take a sweater shaver to it, but I thought someone might be interested in what the yarn looks like after a few wearings.

One thing I am not too happy about is that since this is knit at 18 sts/4 in with DK yarn, it's pretty loose, and my purse keeps catching on it! I've had to carefully work several snags back into the sweater.

Anyway, the fit is really nice. I made the 36" size, which matches my bust size with zero ease and has a few inches of negative ease on the hip--the right choice for this pattern, I would say. It's very stretchy because of the diagonal construction. After wearing it a bit, I ended up sewing down the back of the shawl collar because it wouldn't stay folded properly. Once I did, the front of the collar looked perfect, so I'd recommend doing that.

It feels good to be done with this, because I sort of fell out of love with it as I went along. I've realized that I don't have very many "plain" sweaters, the kind I can just throw on with a casual outfit and run to the park. I've got one in the works now that is really just a glorified hoodie--I'll share more about that one later!

For now, though, guess what I will be doing tonight?

(That's the back of the intarsia panel for my mom's Weekend Getaway Satchel...almost done!! I'm really having fun with that project.)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Finished: Cinnamon Grace

I've been on an accessory kick lately...I think it has to do with the insane number of sweaters that are currently on the needles in varying stages of completion (off the top of my head, I can think of Pinnet, Que Sera #2, Featherweight, Bella, Cables and Lace Kimono, and Pas de Valse). Cardigans are definitely my first love; sometimes, though, a girl just needs to finish something in two weeks or less.

Cinnamon Grace by Katie Harris (Pattern is on her blog here and is also a free Ravelry download) wasn't finished in two weeks because I kept working on other things, but it really could have been! I used Knit Picks Stroll Tonal in Queen Anne, frogged from my Froot Loop sock. Goodbye, Froot Loop--I hardly knew ye. It was gorgeous in the yarn and I loved the pattern, but it was going to be too tight and I knew it, but I kept going past the heel turn until I could try it on. Yup, too tight.

Rather than start again with the socks I decided to try a scarf--and I'd had my eye on Cinnamon Grace for a while. It's very simple to follow but makes an interesting knit because there are so many different sections of increases and decreases, and then you pick up stitches all along the long edge and do the lace part. It ends with a picot bind-off, which took For.Ev.Er. but I think it was worth it in the end. I didn't get out the lace blocking wires for this one, just soaked it then patted it out with my hands, but I still did gain many inches in length and the lace opened up nicely. (Oh my goodness, what a goofy face I have in this picture! It was the only one that was in focus, unfortunately).

This picture shows the color most accurately:

It was funny, I only had to frog a couple of rounds of the sock to finish the bind-off of the scarf, so now I still have a half-finished sock guilting me over in my knitting bag. I am not sure what I am going to do about that yet...maybe turn it into a pair of baby shoes for the gift closet?