18 April 2008

FO: Boring Vest

Alright, just because Beth insisted, here I am posting.

At least I have something to show for myself!

A vest!


Sorry the picture sucks - it's 6 degrees celsius and drizzling outside (snow yesterday!) and I had to take it quickly while Hubbus was on his way out the door this morning.

The vest is made out of the same 50% wool / 50% alpaca "Alpafina" yarn I used for the body of the Fair Isle 101, which I had loads of leftover of. Now I have about 20 yards left, at most. Score! (Yes, those last few inches of knitting were nerve-wracking.) Those of you keeping score will note that Hubbus has gotten more than his allotted one sweater per year this year. I think it was the idea of not having to bother with sleeves that got me. I don't wear vests myself, so I'd never thought to make one, but when he mentioned (100 or so times) that he'd really really like a hand-knitted vest, it finally sunk in that this would mean I wouldn't have to make sleeves. Awesome. So I did it. It went remarkably fast, though on US#2 needles - I did almost all of it either while walking by the river last weekend during a warm spell, or while reading a certain now-infamous thread in the Ravelry forums about the MCY scandal (I hope none of you have bought anything from Mystical Creations Yarns in the last year or so? If you have, you might want to read that).

I had browsed Ravelry for a pattern, and didn't come across anything with the very simple shape that Hubbus requested, so I ended up winging it (only to find, literally while the vest was busy blocking, this pattern which is almost exactly what I ended up doing). I made EZ phoney seams for the first time ever, and quite like them. There was miraculously little problem with the knitting - I didn't have to frog a thing!

And since then I've already finished the first sleeve for a cabled cardigan for myself out of the brown Russian wool that I got as a gift from my in-laws when I first arrived. I'm making this one up, too, since even if I could find a satisfactory pattern online, it'd be a pain in the butt to print it, and I was too lazy. It's fun making up the cable patterns - let's hope it doesn't end up being hideous....

04 April 2008

FO: Fair Isle 101

I finished it!

Actually, I finished it three full weeks ago, and have been dying to try it on and show it off but couldn't until now. What's my excuse this time, you ask? Actually, for once I have a good one: I got a hideous case of food poisoning AND strep throat at the same time and was completely out of commission until a few days ago, and even now I'm still not eating regular food (chicken broth, baby!).

The good news is I lost about 15 pounds and by the time I could finally try the sweater on, the weather had gotten nice enough to actually take pictures of it outside!

Look - spring!

The down side of the illness - aside from the pain, wretchedness, immobility, nasty medicines and boredom of course - was that I almost completely missed my absolute FAVORITE time of year to be eating in Russia. My illness almost exactly coincided with Velikii post, or the Great Fast on the Orthodox calendar. The stores fill with delicious vegetarian foods - after a winter of kolbasa, potatoes and carrots, I live for Velikii post. There are beet pancakes. Stuffed peppers. Lentil cutlets wrapped in eggplant. It's heaven on earth...and this year I missed it. Well, okay, I've been sneaking bites of all these things in the last day or two, along with the chicken broth, and not paying too heavy a price. But...how completely unfair! I could have been stuffing myself with vegetarian deliciousness for almost a month! My birthday also happened in the middle of all this, and on the first genuinely warm day of the year, and I couldn't even get myself out of bed, much less outside. Very sad. However, don't feel too sorry for me - I figure, karma-wise, I was in for a period of bad luck after the absolutely phenomenal luck I had in every way this fall on the job market - in the balance of things I still come out way lucky, so oh well.

Anyway, until a few days ago I was even too sick to knit (gasp), but I had literally just blocked the Fair Isle 101 sweater as the fever and..um...other symptoms first hit me three weeks ago. Here's the Ravelry link for the project. I modified it to such a degree that really only the colorwork chart and the general inspiration are really from the IK pattern. The rest is an Elizabeth Zimmermann EPS raglan in a completely different gauge (fingering weight yarn), with my own personalized measurements for the sleeves (the EPS numbers always seem a little big to me) and short-row bust shaping and waist shaping (above and below the colorwork, so it didn't interfere with the chart). The Alpafina 50/50 wool/alpaca yarn actually ended up blending very nicely with the leftover KnitPicks Palette sampler yarn I used for the colorwork. The sweater is light and thin but very warm. My only dissatisfaction is that the rounded-squarish neckline was supposed to be much lower - that was part of what I liked about the design - but I was so neurotic about where it should go that I overcompensated and it ended up too high. Since I was being equally neurotic about where the bust shaping should land and actually got that part exactly right, overall I'm happy - it could have been worse! And it still sits nicely over a button-down collared shirt, as I intended.

More pictures:

Meanwhile, in the last few days since I've been feeling better, I figured out that I could spin from a near prone position with a supported spindle. Good to know.

I finished the last of the Navajo plying with the mystery fiber I was experimenting on. You saw this before, but now there's more of it!

I've also finished spinning, but not quite finished plying, some of the grab-bag wool I got at the Allegan fiber festival, which is destined to go into the handspun socks I'm working on for Hubbus

I also started another pair of plain vanilla Hubbus socks, out of fitful boredom, using in-house cashmere from School Products, which there isn't much of, so these will be bedsocks.

In a separate and only slightly less random fit, I also started a pair of migraine socks for myself.

What the heck are migraine socks, you ask? It's something I've been thinking about for a long time - I think I bought the yarn at least a couple of years ago. When I have a migraine coming on, my fingers and especially my toes get icy cold - it's some kind of circulation thing. When it's warm out, though, it's uncomfortable to wear heavy wool socks when it's just my toes that are icy and the rest of me is hot. So I've fantasized for a long time about socks that have very warm toes and very breezy everything else. The sample pack from Lanaknits Designs inspired the rest of the plan - I have a mini-skein of wool/hemp yarn (warm wool, hemp helps keep the warmth in) and a mini-skein of 100% hemp (wicks away moisture and heat). The wool blend is for the toes (I may do a double layer; haven't decided yet) and the pure hemp is for the rest in a very open YO, k2tog pattern (except for the heel which will be short row stockinette). I love hemp.

Finally - a news bulletin: I have trained my mother to buy me fiber! This is truly extraordinary, because she knows nothing about knitting, spinning or fiber, doesn't really want to know, and has hitherto expressed only fear and uncertainty when I mention that yarn is really all I want, because she things she doesn't know what to buy. I'm not really ungrateful that this was the case for so long, since she's a genius at buying me really nice clothes and I'd be walking around looking like a bum if it weren't for her. However. Look what she sent me for christmas (yeah, it just got here now):

You're looking at some yummalicious pure alpaca right there. Even mom admitted it was pretty enough to eat. She got it through a work friend who knew somebody who he'd heard had some alpacas. Neither mom nor her friend had any clue what they were buying, but they sure did alright, didn't they!