Friday, January 29, 2010

JC3 Hoodie

My good friend James just turned two.  In honor of such a milestone, I made him a sweater.  As I previously mentioned, it's been unseasonably cold here and I worry about all the Florida natives and their lack of woolly wardrobe options.  My man needs a warm hoodie.

Pattern: Cottage Creations Wonderful Wallaby by Carol Anderson
This is a printed booklet first published in 1984 that is still available in many local yarn stores.  I got my copy at Loop in Philadelphia.

Yarn: Lion Brand Wool-ease (wool and acrylic blend)  - machine washable!!!
Worsted weight at 4.5 stitches to the inch
2.5 skeins (approx 500 yards)
Colorway: 180 Forest Green Heather

Needle size: US8

I knew from other people's versions that this pattern runs small.  I ended up making the Age 6 version for my Age 2 recipient.  I wanted to err on the roomy side.  In the end, it fit him perfectly.  It's quite stretchy so hopefully it will last him a few seasons.

As you can probably surmise from these pictures, James is a very active little man.  Sometimes it's hard to get a decent picture of the guy - he's a whirling dervish.  Here's what it looks like when he is furiously waving hello to me - just a blur.

Here's a shot of him playing football.  Hut one, hut two. Hike!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tangled Yoke Cardigan

Gift for my friend Ella who needs a warm cardigan because she lives in the Pacific Northwest and it gets cold there in the winter.  Nothing warmer than cables knit in alpaca.

Pattern: Tangled Yoke Cardigan by Eunny Jang
Interweave Knits Fall 2007

Yarn: Rowan Felted Tweed (wool, alpaca and rayon blend)
8 skeins (1528 yards)
sportweight at 6 stitches/inch in garter rib
colorway: SH160 (Gilt)

Eunny Jang created a classic with this one.  I love all the design elements - especially the cable detail at the yoke.  It's decorative without being fussy.

Her pattern was well written with clear directions.  The sleeves are knit in the round and the bottom half of the cardigan is knitted in one piece with mock seams at the sides.  Then it's all joined up for the yoke. Aside from seaming the armpit areas, there's no sewing at the end.  Which is perfect for this yarn as it lends itself beautifully to the Russian Join method.

She also utilizes short row shaping for the back of the neck area.  While I had muddled around with short rows in the past, I had always had issues with wrapping the stitches to avoid holes.  So off I went to find some help and found this. (Just scroll down to the video entitled "short row with wrap.").

I ended up using the recommended yarn for this pattern.  I loved the color and the tweedy look was perfect for this garment.  It knitted up quite nice with great stitch definition.  And it was warm warm warm.  Sadly though, my sensitive skin won't let me wear any alpaca - the fine hairs tickle my nose and makes my skin itch.  I have the same problem with mohair.  I don't think it's an allergy issue.  It's a sensitivity thing.  Hopefully Ella doesn't have the same issues.

I loved knitting this cardigan.  I hope Ella loves wearing it too.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Winter in Florida

I've lived in South Florida for just over a year and by now I've acclimated.  Which is to say that I run from AC to AC during the summer and shiver when it gets to be below 60 degrees outside.

The beginning of 2010 has been very very cold. Low 30's for a few days. I know that's considered a warm front up north but here it's cause for alarm.  Power grids blowing out from over-worked heaters, weather advisory warnings on TV. It's so cold that iguanas have been falling out of trees.  It's true - I've seen it happen.  So cold that I felt like a frozen iguana - sluggish and sleepy, unwilling to move.

And then it finally lifted and the iguanas woke up and crawled back to their tree limb lairs.  Last weekend, Yarn Widower and I went to Delray Beach and had lunch at Sundy House.  Afterwards we strolled through the garden.

It seemed as though everyone and everything was basking in the sun.  Including this little critter that let me get quite close to him as though nothing was going to budge him from his warm perch.  Can't say I blame him.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mrs. Truong

I like to adopt other people's parents.  Especially when they adopt me first.  My friend Susie's mom is a petite powerhouse of a Chinese matriarch.  Much like Susie, she's tiny yet formidable.

Susie and I have a running joke.  Everytime I see her mom, I give her a hug.  It's the least I can do to thank her for her warm hospitality and delicious food.  Susie always protests, "What are you doing? I don't even get to hug my mom."  But Mrs. Truong always hugs me back and gives me a big smile.  We both know what that smile means: she likes me because I am a good friend to her daughter and I like her because she is a good mother to my friend.  That and she makes a mean pho.

Lately, Mrs. Truong has had a relapse of her lymphoma.  After yet another bout of chemotherapy, she seems to be on the mend.  But it's been unseasonably cold here in Florida.  Floridians are ill-used to the prolonged chill of winter.  An over air-conditioned room set to 65 degrees, that we can handle.  But not two weeks of below 40 degrees.

Thankfully, as a recent refugee from the North, I still have a lot of wool in my stash.

Every Way Wrap by Okmin Park
from Interweave Knits Fall 2009
errata available here.

Jo Sharp Silk Road Aran (discontinued)
Wool, Silk, Cashmere
Color 132 Alabaster
7 skeins (93 yards per skein)

Needle size: US 10

I really loved knitting this wrap.  The cables are reversible so there's no wrong side.  And as the name suggests, it's very versatile.  Buttons keep the wrap from falling off the shoulders and if that's too fussy it can be a decent looking scarf too. 

It's also just the right size for a decent lap blanket.

A word of warning to any knitters attempting this pattern: check the errata.  The symbols for the cable pattern are misprinted.  I neglected to do this and spent a very frustrating day wondering why my cables looked so weird.

The wool/silk/cashmere blend worked well with this wrap.  My only suggestion is to weave in yarn ends in the cable section where it's much easier to hide them.  The moss stitch area is not so forgiving.

Hugs to Mrs. Truong.  And speedy recovery.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Gifts for Geeks

As per my request, Yarn Widower was kind enough to get me a tripod for my digital camera. Previously, I had been making do with a contraption consisting of a step ladder, a gorillapod and a stack of books. Did it work? Passably so. Was it pretty? Definitely not. Actually, it was so cumbersome that my knitting was suffering. Well, not really. But photodocumentation of knitting was surely lacking.

So, here is my new tripod: Induro AKBO
It's sleek and relatively lightweight. Set-up is a breeze with its quick-lock legs and quick-release system. For its price, it's got a surprising number of higher-end features like a locking ball head to tilt the camera.

But my favorite feature has to be the built-in level. Perfect for an anal retentive dweeb like me.

Along with my Nikon remote shutter release, this tripod makes self portraits and close-ups less of an ordeal. Huzzah! As an aside, I wonder how many people get into photography because they want to take pictures of their knits?

So what did the Yarn Widower get from Santa?

How about a 2006 Mazda Miata MX-5? Zoom Zoom.

I know - no lump of coal for the Yarn Widower this year! Actually, we had been looking to get a second car for a while now. So it wasn't really a gift specifically for him. Supposedly, it is for both of us. Which turns out to mean that I get to sit in the passenger seat.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Happy (belated) holidays

And welcome to the new year.

When I took down the Christmas tree (we have a small circa 1975 tinsel one), YarnWidower cried, "But it's not even Easter yet!" Apparently, his grandmother would wait until Easter to put away all the Christmas decorations. And we're talking boxes and boxes of holiday paraphernalia all meticulously laid out on hand crocheted doilies.

One can only dream...