Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Winter has arrived

Winter has made it's presence felt this past weekend - blowing in with 30cms of snow and some nippy temperatures. What's a knitter to do? Knit a neck warmer of course!

I decided that it was time to dip into the stash and make myself a quick and cosy project - a cowl was just the thing to help me use up some of those odds and ends. I used three strands of DK weight yarns (Fleece Artist leftovers of blue face Leicester and a kid/silk blend that I've had for ages. No really - I think it might have been one of the first skeins that I ever bought as a knitter) and an 8mm circular needle. I used seed stitch for the edges to prevent curling and plain ol' knitting for the body. I love it. It's thick, soft, drapey and a whole lot of neck-warming awesomeness.

Not content to just wear it around my apartment, I wanted to put it to the test:

Success! I now understand why people like these things so much. I can see more of these little stash busters in my future (and maybe under someone else's Christmas tree). It is one insulating cowl. It kept me cosy while I tromped through the snowy woods.

After my snowy winter hike, I think I need legwarmers to keep the ankles warm. Maybe.

Stay warm and happy knitting!

Monday, November 17, 2008

All apologies. . . .

. . . I didn't intend to be away this long. Really. Just until I have something to blog about I told myself, you know, something interesting, then I'll post. Well, that didn't work out like I planned. But I am here now, with progress, even if it is the stockingette-in-the-round variety.

I mentioned in my last post, what seems like a thousand years ago, that I had a hankering for a new sweater and was soon to cast on for one. I wanted a warm, comfy, practical sort of sweater. You know the kind - just roomy enough to pull on over a long sleeved t-shirt, but not a shapeless sack, looks good with jeans, not too fancy but not so dull to knit that you want to poke yourself in the eye. You know that sweater, everyone has one. I chose Salina by Kim Hargreaves in Rowan's Vintage Knits. It's has what I'm looking for - so far. I haven't quite finished it yet - all that remains is a sleeve and some sewing, but as it's so close to the end, I figure I'll share my thoughts with you anyway.

This is my first Rowan experience both in terms of pattern and yarn. It seems like Rowan inspires a great deal of knitterly loyalty, bordering on cult status at times and I had to see what I was missing. I've checked out their patterns before and generally like the simplicity and classic quality of their garments, but hadn't knit any, for whatever reason. I like the styling of the photo layouts in Vintage Knits and the colour of the yarn for Salina (and for the record, the yarn colour is not officially Swamp Pickle as I had been calling it, but Avocado). I even used the Rowan yarn called for in the pattern (Felted Tweed) which is not something I generally do, but I figured go big or stay home.

The pattern is well written and I've followed it almost exactly as written. Almost I say because I cannot bring myself to knit flat what can easily be knit in the round. This is my one gripe with Salina. The sweater has minimal shaping which is the same for both the front and back pieces - why not knit it in the round and save yourself the hassle of all that sewing and seaming? While it may take longer to cast on and get going, it's worth it to my view as it saves me from the tediousness of the finishing. I knit it in the round to the armhole shaping, the separated for the front and the back. Easy peasy. I knit the sleeves in the round too, using a provisional cast on so as to avoid sewing the cuffs to the sleeve. It just made more sense to me to do it that way, rather than knitting the cuff separately and sewing it on. Too much extra work.

The yarn itself is nice, a nice ratio of soft to scratchy, and I like the bits of blue that show up here and there in the midst of the avocado. It knits up nicely and I do like tweediness of it, it feels very fall-ish to me. However, I feel like I must mention the knots. Knots happen. I know this, I've mostly accepted it, but when each of the 6 balls that I've used so far has had one, and sometimes more, I become less understanding. It is particularly irksome when the knotty yarn is the product of a "big name" with designer status. Perhaps I got an unlucky lot, but it doesn't make me want to buy it again, pleasing soft/scratchy ratio aside.

With my sweater almost finished, a new winter coat bought and winter on it's way, I need some snazzy new accessories! I've taken an inventory and I am sad to report that I have only 2 knit scarves - lacy silk ones at that! I need something cozy and warm to keep the chill off and I think the stuff below just might do the trick:

It's soft, bulky, green and alpaca. Perfect! Now I just need to find the right pattern . . . .