Wednesday, July 26, 2006

intarsia, bet into submission

Look! Look look look! That looks like intarsia, doesn't it? Complete with... horrible dangly ends. But still! I beat it! Tatjana, you were right: being over-zealous with chopping the yarn into tiny pieces is the way to defeat and humiliation. I carried the yarn over three whole stitches in some cases, and nothing terrible happened. Mind you, it still looks babyish. But I guess that's the point.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Intarsia, I hate you

I had guests over the last week, and my knitting mojo was seriously damaged. But then, the wonders of eBay saved me, by delivering up a copy of The Knitter's Bible, by Claire Crompton. It's the anti-Stitch 'n' Bitch: crisp, no-nonsense instructions a bit like the admonishments at the back of Rowan knitting magazines ("It is a great shame that so many garments are ruined by poor seaming"). I think the cutesy writing of Debbie Stoller was just what I needed to get me past the first fear of knitting, but now that I really do believe that I can knit anything, if I put my mind to it, clear prose with detailed photos is exactly what I want.

And oh! It has the most wonderful stitch library, over 100 stitch patterns, and now my mind is running wild with notions about designing a lacey camisole, based on the Soleil shaping, mostly knitted in a simple eyelet pattern in a dull olive green cotton, with hot pink accents in a more elaborate lace. Exciting times. For fashion-obsessed knitters, that is.


First, though, I have a pile of baby clothes to get through. I was doing so well with the first Anouk, and whizzed through the back yesterday. So cute! So fluffy! I find it hard to believe that babies really are that small, but apparently they are. It was all going so well. And then, armed with the Knitter's Bible, I decided that nothing, no nothing held any fears for me any more: I would teach myself intarsia.

Horrible, horrible intarsia! With the sucky tension and dangly ends and tangly balls of yarn! And it looks dreadful at the front and even worse at the back:

Ghastly, gruesome vision! I have a nasty feeling the baby will feel mortally offended at being presented with such a grisly mess, to say nothing of its stylish mother. And you can't even frog intarsia, because all the ends are cut! I despair. I will finish the pocket, and think again, but perhaps I'll just lazy-daisy the dress and leave it at that. It's not like I'll ever want to use intarsia on a garment for myself, after all, and after all, whatever I pretend, my knitting is all about Me.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

stitch markers

No new knitting for the moment, friends. I was whisking through the first Anouk, but then I sustained a sorry injury when I momentarily forgot the useful function of a chopping board, and am invalided out of the knitting world at the moment.

But I do have pretty pictures nonetheless! I got the dinkiest parcel from my friend Katie through the post, all full of sparkles and loveliness,
containing a gloriously anarchic selection of stitch markers.

Hooray! So pretty! No more elastics for me! If ever there was an inducement to start knitting MORE lace, this was it. Thank you so much, lovely!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Desert Princess Jacket. Or not?

FO: Desert princess ajour-patterned jacket

Pattern: from Verena magazine. (They don't go in for cutesy names in German knitting magazines)

Yarn: Schoeller and Stahl Scooter, colour 9857, 4 1/2 balls

Needles: 5mm circs, manufacturer unknown

Pattern modifications: I was supposed to pick up and knit ribbed sleeves on, but alas! the jacket has become vast enough as it is, and I suspect the human frame could not support its weight if I were to do so.

Time sucked: One week. Minus the arms

Lesson learned: Swatch more sternly in future. It is too big. It is just too big. Snacky little bolero, not so much. On the other hand, I learned something fascinating about shrug construction, viz: a shrug is just a square of fabric, turned into a tube. No wonder they are so popular!

I do love it, despite its vastness. I will try wearing it out tonight, perhaps, and we will see what happens. Anyone have opinions on the sleeves?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

desert princess jacket down, thousands of Anouks to go

So there she is, my desert princess ajour jacket, blocking on the sofa. What do you mean, it looks like a giant carpet to you? Tsk! I should have included something to give you an idea of the scale, butcurrently it's pretty huge, about sixty by seventy centimetres. I'm not blocking it too severely, because it turned out a little larger than the pattern measurements state.Somehow, this huge floppy piece of heavy cotton is going to be transformed into that delicious little jacket. Do you believe it? I'm not quite sure.

And this is the lace blocking, close up. I do love the strong geometric pattern, and it wasn't at all hard to learn. I'm still a bit bewildered by the choice of yarn, though. Heavy cotton worsted-weight shaggy yarn for lace? I don't know.


Next up: the Anouks! And here is where the fun bit comes in. I have a whole paintbox full of pastel cotton yarns, and I get to decide which colour combinations go to which baby. One gets the hot turquoise and orange combo on a pale blue background, one gets the more gentle floral set that cunningly uses up the rest of my sock yarn. Or not? I have rose and olive to play with still, after all. Decisions, decisions. Fun decisions.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The sun has got her hat on

By which I mean, of course, Hurrah!

FO: Knitty's Soleil

Pattern: Soleil, from last spring's Knitty

Yarn: ggh Molina, 100% cotton, colour 05, 4.5 balls used (ca. 225 grammes)

Needles: 4 mm Addi Turbos

Pattern modifications: One extra repeat of lace along the bottom; edging on arms and neckline picked up and knit rather than crocheted, because, erm, I haven't learned to crochet. Yet. Yet!

Time sucked: About a week and a half, with a week's break in between.

What colour would you call this, then?

I'm intrigued by the yarn, rather than in love: it's soft and shiny and light, and the colours are aubergine, sky blue, turquoise, cream and mid-blue, all plied together. I thought, somehow, that when it knit up, the colours would resolve themselves, but even in a garment, they're as indetermined as ever.

I think I like this: it is, as I intended, a plain-ish, no-fireworks garment that I could even wear to an office. The fit is fabulous around the waist, perhaps a little matronly around the shoulders: if I were to knit it again, I'd decrease for the last six rows under the arms rather than increasing, and make the straps thinner. (Also, I would stand up straighter while being photographed. Good grief.)

But let us be honest with ourselves, friends: I'm not going to knit it again. Ever again. Never mind the slight mercy of the lacey edging (Felinity, it was indeed fun, though very, very easy.) Repeat to yourself over and over again, Glitz: No more stocking stitch garments, no no NO.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Oops, I laced it again

German knitting magazines are odd, odd things. You might know about Rebecca, the German knitting magazine that Debbie Stoller describes in Stitch and Bitch as being full of attractive Aryans frolicking on the beach, a snide but reasonably accurate description. Rebecca tends to simple-ish, classic designs that feature ggh yarns only, as it is the in-house magazine of the ggh yarn house. Rebecca also, I think, has a US edition, and hence an English-language following.

But there are others that are not translated, more obscure and considerably more mad. I am particularly fond of Verena, which is put out by Burda. Unlike Rebecca, Verena is not hampered by being bound to use the yarns of any one manufacturer; but still, I suppose, like any knitting magazine, it is bound to market the new yarns that are put on the market. And lord, the German market is absolutely full of crazy novelty yarns, in ever more unlikely combinations of synthetic fibres. Thus, Verena is half-full of creations like the one on the left, above, that feature more novelty yarns and plastic than you would have thought possible in one jumper, cost a fortune, and are of so astonishing a hideousness that they probably regularly feature on You Knit What? Presumably, the yarn manufacturers figure that, unless the wizards of Verena whip up a design featuring their latest crazy shiny sticky string, no-one in their right minds would buy it.

But then again, they also feature wonderful eccentric bohemian knits, the like of which you don't see elsewhere. So take, for example, the delicious little snacky jacket to the right, which, the blurb charmingly says, is designed for "desert princesses". Look at the gorgeous intricate lace! The plain-ish yarn! I have been ogling it for weeks, and yesterday... I fell. I didn't just fall into knitting yet ANOTHER lace project for myself, no; I felll into, for the first time ever, buying the original yarn specified for the project, at full price, Schoeller and Stahl's Scooter.

And lo, I suppose that the yarn manufacturers have a point, for I certainly would never have dreamed of buying this rather odd yarn otherwise: 64% cotton, 27% viscose, 9% polyamide (the colour is true in the photo of the ball, but not in the photo of the lace). It feels and looks a bit like carpet pile, with a golden shiny polyamide thread running through it, and whoever thought of designing a lace pattern with it? But I'm enjoying knitting it up, and, erm, have achieved quite a lot since yesterday. Whoops.

Thus, my friends, a double sin: not only have I not started knitting scrumptious little baby dresses with the cotton, as I said I would, but neither have I finished sewing Soleil. There is a reason for it, though: it needs to be finished with a crochet edging picked up and knit along the armholes, and no matter how I google, I cannot find instructions for how to do that. Perhaps I will have to give in and ask the Livejournal knitting community for advice; or perhaps I'll figure it out on my own somehow after all.