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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The new sample I'm working on now is the Simple Cardigan from The Tweed Collection made from Classic Elite's Inca Marl - the colors are very pretty, tweedy rather than variegated.

It's a straightforward stockinette pattern except for the ribbed bands which are knit in one piece with the rest of the sweater. Simple Cardigan indeed!
Pictures of the baby sweater sample.

Here is a picture of the yarn used. I love the colors together. The yarn shop owner has such good taste when it comes to which colors work well together. It's a tricky talent. I can't visualize the blending in my mind, but those who are adept at it can create such lovely palettes and art with fiber.

And here is a picture of the sweater in progress. In the background is something from my day job ;)

Finally, a picture of the finished product:

The button bands are a little pinched; the pattern has you sewing them on separately and instructs you to knit the bands a little shorter than the sweater length. I think I may have overdone that part, but hopefully a good blocking will sort it all out.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

More sample knitting... Well, I was hoping I could post a picture of my next sample knit for the store, but my laptop is on the fritz, so I'll just post a picture of the picture from the pattern book. It's the "Daisies" baby sweater from the new RYC Bambino made from Cashsoft DK. I got the yarn on Thursday and finished the sweater on Sunday. I already have in my hot little hands the next sample knit I'm making for the store.

Daisies was lovely to knit - a very simple stockinette pattern broken in a few choice places by seed (moss) stitch. The yarn is incredibly soft and I've heard that it holds up better than Debbie Bliss' Baby Cashmerino. The most painful part of the sweater was the embroidered daisies. Having never embroidered before, it took me three hours to embroider four lousy daisies. But the finished effect is very cute. I'm ashamed to admit that I couldn't figure out the buillon stitch from the book so totally punted on that and asked for one of the other nice shop frequenters to help me out.

I was working on the sweater at my aunt's birthday party (Yes, I have a problem and I'm the first to admit it, I. can't. put. down. the. knitting!) and all of my aunt's friends were asking me if I was pregnant. It's funny, they're all very sensitive because their children are all around my age and starting to have children of their own.

I hope to have one progress pic and a finished pic of the baby sweater posted here soon. I'll also post details on my next sample sweater soon (it's from one of the new Classic Elite books).

Friday, August 18, 2006

A finished silk shrug.

And the back...

What do you think? Does it need a blocking?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Played hooky today from work. I went to work in the morning, but took off at noon to go to NYC to meet a friend for a day of yarn shop hopping. I had just introduced this friend to knitting and she was eager to explore the many textures and colors out there. We went to School Products (where I managed to steel my resolve and not purchase an incredible skein of handdyed lace-weight cashmere), Habu, Yarn Connection, Knit 321, String and Yarn Co.

My friend didn't escape unscathed. Here's a basket of luscious bamboo yarn she scooped up at Habu.

After our yarn fest, we rested our feet and satiated our appetites with dessert at Lady M Cake Boutique - an adorable cafe on the Upper East side. Their cakes are delectable enough, but the method of their display - lined up like glittering jewels behind a viewing glass countertop - makes them even more irrestible

Everything in the cafe - including the uniforms of the waitresses - are in monochromatic black and white tones, down to the flower arrangements and restrooms.
I'm in the home stretch. No pictures until the shrug is finished since there's not much to see yet. Last night I seamed the sleeves and sides and picked up 300 stitches (ugh!) all around the body in size 9 needles. Working on such huge needles with tiny yarn is a pain though, so I cheated a bit and picked up using the size 3s I had been using for the body/sleeves and only changed to 9s once I started the ribbing.

Ribbing takes a *long* time - especially when you have to knit 6 inches of it, especially when there are 300 stitches! Before the ribbed border, I had two full skeins of the Alpaca & Silk left. I thought I would have one skein left over after all is said and done. Much to my surprise, I found that just 3 inches of ribbing took up almost an entire skein. So I guess I won't have anything left over after all!

My new apartment doesn't have a lamp or adequate lighting yet. The best light in the place is in the kitchen. So I was quite the sight - sitting in the middle of my kitchen, my laptop playing Lost cast interviews from YouTube, and struggling to knit the edging on my shrug. I really think I want to get one of those full spectrum lamps advertised to reduce eye strain. I love knitting, but sometimes my eyes really feel tired after an hours-long session with my needles.

I hope to have a picture up either tonight or tomorrow of the completed shrug!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Boring progress shot...

Almost done with the second sleeve, I hope to have a completed object to show here very soon!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

We're finally moved in! Everything's in boxes and the apartment definitely needs a good once-over, but our precious posessions are out of that mildy sketchy garage.

And now, I can finally post some pictures of the silk shrug I'm knitting for my old LYS. It's a Blue Sky Alpacas pattern and is knit in their sportweight Alpaca & Silk. Here's a picture of the pattern:

And here's a picture of some skeins of the yarn - the color is Kiwi, a soft green:

And finally, here's a picture of the progress I made on the first day next to some wound balls of Alpaca & Silk. I love the little dumpling-shaped balls ball-winders make!

It was such a rush to look through the several suggestions that the yarn store proprietor made, choose one that appealed to me and leave with a bag of yarn, some Addi Turbos, and a pattern. I can't believe I never thought to ask before whether my LYS needed someone to knit up samples. It's such an ideal situation. I love knitting, but I rarely wear the products. With sample knitting, I get the enjoyment of knitting, feel no guilt when I don't end up using the sweater/scarf/socks/hat I spent hours and hours on, and get store credit. The only downside is the quick turnaround time. She wants the sample in 2-4 weeks and I tend to knit much more slowly than that.

But when I get excited about a new project, I can work on it almost continously. I'm about 2/3 of the way through I think. I have the body and one sleeve done. What remains is the other sleeve and the knitted on ribbed border. I'm already thinking about what I want to knit next for her!

Thoughts on the yarn: I like the look of the yarn in a skein - elegant and very inviting, plus the cute, smiling alpaca on the rustic looking tag is very appealing. However, knitting with it and having the project in my lap has reconfirmed my earlier misgivings towards alpaca. It's very warm (and heavy) and a bit itchy. The times when my knitting brushed up against my skin, the poke of a stray fiber made me wonder how anyone can wear alpaca without the benefit of a protective turtleneck. That said, I do like the colors that the alpaca & silk comes in. They're very understated, but not bland at all and would enhance any wardrobe.

The last photo I'll post for today is a cardigan I think I will finally call done - my Artfibers oodle cardigan. The yarn is oodle from Artfibers - a thin, handdyed cotton ribbon. The gauge is about 28 sts/4 inches and the colors are exquisite. My sweater is in the deep brown, violet, russet colorway.

It's been languishing in my not-yet-finished pile for months because the button bands curled excessively due to a combination of the yarn's natural drapiness and my inexpert button band knitting job. I didn't adhere to the standard practice of knitting the button band (which is knitted separately and then sewn on) at a slighly shorter length than the length of the cardigan. This prevents floppiness and general band ickiness. To compensate, I tried to sew on a grossgrain ribbon facing which only partially worked. I have sewn and undone that damn ribbon 5 times before finally conceding partial defeat. The band still hangs a bit funny, but I am declaring this cardigan finished. Now, I hope I actually wear this. The fit's a bit close, but comfortable. I was trying to knit myself a throw-over-my-shoulders-casually cardigan, a staple cardigan, a favorite cardigan.

Friday, August 04, 2006

I haven't posted in a while because I've been busy moving down the street. Unfortunately, we hit a snag where our new place won't be available until the 9th of August, but we had to move out of our old place by July 31. The temporary, unsatisfactory solution? - We moved all of our junk to a dark, dusty garage without air conditioning. I was afraid that my yarn stash would mold in all of this heat and humidity (on Wednesday it was 100 in NJ with a heat index of 110!) so I made my poor, put-upon husband take my rapidly growing out-of-control stash all the way to Ithaca where we are temporarily staying with a friend until our new apartment becomes available. Our friend's place is not good enough for my yarn either ;) - there are bugs galore who have made themselves quite at home - so the stash is sitting in my husband's campus office, much to the amusement of his office mates.

And I've added to the stash in the few short days I've been here in Ithaca - a small town with two yarn stores! I got my first assignment as a sample knitter for my favorite of the two shops - Knitting Etc. I don't have the USB cables for my camera with me, so pictures will have to wait, but I get to knit with a luxuriously soft, alpaca-silk sportweight blend (Blue Sky Alpaca's Alpaca & Silk). And I'm knitting a shrug! I just hope I don't disappoint the proprietor of the store. She's so nice and enthusiastic. It's definitely a good change in direction for the knitting community here as she has big plans with classes and such. It's really nice to have a space where one can knit happily with like-minded individuals. And I can see how sample knitting can get addictive. In the past, my knitting has been confined to objects I *think* I might actually wear. Now, the sky's the limit! I can see much actual work being shunted aside for this new, dangerously seductive opportunity :)

Until I can get my own pictures up, here's a stock photo from the company website of the shrug: