Saturday, February 09, 2008

FO: Back to School U-Neck Vest

Be careful what you wish for:

I've been fighting off the snifflies for about three weeks now, and just the other day, I said to my friend, You know, I'm tired of being vaguely sick. I need to either get sick for real, or really get better. Guess which wish the genie gave me?

Yesterday it was all I could do to hold myself upright on the futon, and I was only able to watch two episodes of Alias (separately, in small doses). Today, I feel much better, enough to work my way through two episodes of The L Word (consecutively), and blog this much-delayed FO:

Back to School U-Neck Vest


Pattern: Back to School U-Neck Vest, Fitted Knits by Stefanie Japel
Yarn: Cascade 220, 2.5 skeins
Needles: 7 and 5

Notes: I left the bottom garter band off, because I'm just not down with all of the garter bands that Stefanie likes to throw on her designs. I like Greek architecture, but do I want to look like a Doric pillar? In the same spirit, I knit fewer rows onto the armbands, but left the neckband as written in the pattern. If you're planning to knit this, also take note of some comments I made in my last post about the errata.

It took me quite a while to finish this (let's just say that this "back to school vest" was an appropriate name for this knit), but mostly because y'all know how ribbing goes. I really enjoyed wearing it the other day, and see myself getting quite a bit of use out of it before it starts to warm up around here.

And that's all she wrote! Looks like a nap is next on the agenda...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The espadrilles, or the wedges?

Do you all know that cell phone commercial, where a couple is out shopping, and the girl asks her guy--"what do you think? the hoops or the danglies?" "the espadrilles or the wedges?" And no matter what the poor guy says, he never gets it right. "the danglies???" "I think the hoops!" (Of course, he finally wins in the end with the phone he really wants.)

I feel a bit like that girl, with my hank of Fleece Artist Blue Faced Leicester DK: "Do you think the Clapotis, or entrelac?" "Socks, or a cowl?" Thanks to everyone who left helpful suggestions; I think I may have responded to each one with a different whim. First I was sold on the entrelac, based on all the fun everyone else seemed to have with it, but Meg thought that the variegated yarn might not do so well as, say, Noro, with it's longer color repeats. Now, I'm back to thinking Clapotis, not because I think it'll be a fun knit, really, but because I really want a yummy scarf, and I want to use all of the yarn, without any left over (there's a generous 500 yards in this hank, approximately).

In the meanwhile, while I dither away, here's a better picture of that fine woollyness:

In the almost-finished-object department, I'm finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel on the Back to School U-Neck Vest! Just two armholes to finish, and ends to weave in:

I had to rip out the back because I didn't do the decreases right--they're once at each end, while I did them as for the front, at every other end. If anyone is thinking of knitting this, be sure to check the errata, but also look at the Ravelry discussion boards, if you're on there. The pattern is sprinkled with mistakes, and when you get to the part about decreasing for the back, the numbers don't add up and they aren't corrected on the errata. It's OK, though, because you can just do an extra decrease or less here to make the number of stitches fit what the book calls for.

Got something else cooking too. Next up on the needles is a project that a friend asked for--a guitar strap. I took him to Gauge over the weekend to pick out the yarn, and give him a lot of credit for not doubling right back out. You see, Gauge has become my Cheers, where everybody knows my name, and since I haven't been there in over a month, it was all about squeeing and catching up and showing off my in-progress Malabrigo Easy Flame Lace Scarf

We also walked in on Lisa Shobana Mason's signing for her new book, Yarnplay at Home. She was super nice, and had on the cutest grey felt skirt.

Despite all the excitement, I managed to concentrate on the task at hand, and my friend and I picked out these colors, to reflect the colors of his favorite soccer team (Barcelona, I think?):

I also may have walked out with a new skein of Malabrigo, for a hat and neckwarmer. More on that next time.

I was thinking of swatching for the guitar strap a couple of different ways, one with a crochet stitch, and another with a knitted slip stitch, inspired by Anna Bell's tweed stitch belt pattern. The fabric should be firm and not stretch out too much. My gut tells me crochet, but I'm not too confident in my crocheting skills yet. Does anyone have any other ideas?

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

A winter dispatch.

Happy New Year!

I was going to wait until I got back to Austin to post about my newest yarn purchase, because I forgot to bring my camera cord to Chicago for the holiday break. But I just couldn't wait, and opted to do violence to the beauty of this Fleece Artist Blue Faced Leicester DK by snapping a picture with my cell phone:

Ohhhh. The loveliest shades of pinks touched with a hint of brown. The colorway is "burgundy," but really, if you wanted to be poetic about it, it should have something about chocolates and cherries in the name. Yum!

After a nice lunch of Indian food catching up with old friends from grad school (hi, Vim!) Ashley and I escaped from MLA madness on Saturday and had ourselves a little yarn excursion to Loopy, on south State Street. I was going to take some sock yarn, but Ashley pressed this hank of BFL into my hands and declared that it was the best thing she'd ever knit with, or some such thing. Well, how do you walk away from yarn with that kind of endorsement? It was the perfect way to spend some holiday money and treat myself for post-MLA exhaustion.

So now the question is, what to knit? Ashley suggested a hat and some mittens. There is definitely serious yardage (metrage?): 450 meters. Other possibilities I found by combing through Ravelry:

Clapotis (I haven't knit one yet. No, really.)
Cowl (perhaps ala Joelle Hoverson's in Last Minute Knitted Gifts?)
Counterpane accessories pouch (from Handknit Holidays)
Entrelac scarf

Any other suggestions? What to do with this pretty, pretty yarn?

In other news, I saw this at my local Target:

Thirty dollars for a set of six sock-type sleeves for the Ipod. Really????

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

No dissertation yet, but there's been some knitting.

How can I account for my time? It's easier to answer that question from you guys, than if it were coming from my dissertation advisor. I'm taking a cue from Kate, and posting my month and a half in pictures, because there is no possible way I could catch up otherwise.

I finished my niece's sweater, (Judy's Grandmother's Baby Sweater, from Greetings from the Knit Cafe) and made her a little bag. I used this tutorial for the drawstring pouch.

Inspired by this, I dressed as Frida Kahlo in drag for the annual Dia de los Muertos parade; this year, they celebrated Frida's 100th birthday by calling for 100 costumed Fridas to lead the parade from the East Side to Congress Avenue. I had fun, but I discovered I make a damn ugly guy. Let's just say I enjoy being a girl.

I swapped socks with a couple of lovely women; Femiknitter sent me the Monkey, and I sent Ariel the Fancy Silk Sock. We must now knit the second sock, and given my current state of distraction, it may take me a while to have my second Monkey. Thanks to Femiknitter, though, for a beautiful first sock, and a new project bag that I love, love, love.

Elizabeth came for a visit. We got stinking drunk on margaritas, passed out, and woke up covered in yarn. (Just kidding. She came for Stitch, and we had a fantastic time and maybe had a couple of margaritas and did a little shopping.) She gave me this gorgeous handmade scarf.

In a fit of knitting ADD, I made a hat and a hat-like covering, and a couple of washcloths.

Cue the know you hear the song, people. My Raspberry Beret (Kat Coyle's pattern from Greetings From the Knit Cafe Knit with Blue Sky Alpaca Silk--it took a skein and a little bit of a second. The book says it's only one skein).

And a Calorimetry, with less than half a skein of Malabrigo. I cast on 90 sts for this one.

A sedge stitch washcloth, the pattern which is available on the Lion Brand website. I saw Laura's and monkey see, monkey do, I had to pick up my crochet hook (even though I can't manage to hold the hook in any other way than with the Grip of Death).

And a fun little washcloth pattern I found on Ravelry. I knit this with Lily Sugar & Cream, I think, in really pretty ombre colors.

'Kay, kiddos, that's all I got for now! I'm going to try not to let too much time go before I post again...I'm working on Stefanie Japel's Back to School vest, and perhaps another couple of holiday gifts. Hope all is well with you!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

This is how I roll.

Things have been pretty busy here at Chez Yo La Tejo, what with teaching and grading, working and writing, and all kinds of looming deadlines. It's kind of killing my joy.

But there are two things that I can always manage to find time for, no matter how crazy it gets: friends, and knitting. My good friend Marisa came to visit Austin a couple of weeks ago for the Women's Flat Track Derby Association national championships. Marisa, a.k.a. May R. Daley, kicks ass as a member of the Windy City Rollers home team, and she was in town to cheer for the road team. Woot!


I'd never been to roller derby before, so getting to see it for the first time at the finals was really the way to go. We got there for the first match at 11 am, and then bought ourselves Bloody Marys and settled in for a full day. I'd heard that the sport was pretty rough and while that was true, I was just mesmerized by the grace of the skaters.

Marisa tried explaining the finer points of the game to me, but all I knew was to look for the lead jammer to break away from the pack. The jammers score once they catch up again and pass other team members.

When the lead jammer breaks away, the crowd goes nuts, and she gets her own referee, who follows her from the inside of the rink, with one arm raised in the air and the other pointing directly at her. It's so cool. I want a lead jammer referee in my day-to-day life, giving me points when I teach a good class or make a good cup of coffee. On second thought, having someone following me around pointing at me might be kind of creepy.

Later that day, the Windy City Rollers went up against the Texecutioners, but sadly lost after fighting hard. It was a bummer, but just seeing all the hardcore fans that traveled to Austin from Chicago to support their team was pretty amazing.

The second day, we went back for the last bout at night, and I took a sock project like a big geek. I brought it out for a little while, and sure enough, the derby girl next to me (decked out in tattoos and short, brightly colored hair) asked me about it. Turns out she's a knitter too, but she bluntly admitted to collecting more stash than she was able to knit. Huh. And that's a problem because...?

Fancy Silk Sock

Here's the beginnings of the Fancy Silk Sock from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks, in Regia Silk; I've gotten quite a ways up the cuff and will soon make it to the heel, si dios quiere. Sweet Jesus, please, yes.

Finally, it would seem that my birthday keeps getting celebrated, waaay beyond the birthday month. My friend Vero, who was in Japan for a whole month, brought me back some lovely gifts. (It should be noted that I am famous (or infamous) for roping my friends into celebrating the Birthday Weekend, or the Birthday Week. But I've never before succeeded in making it a Whole Month. Mwahahaha.)

Among the very cool presents Vero and her husband Mike gave me (which included the perfect erasable pen, pretty stationery, and a cute-ass bento box), there was this little guy:


I wish I could tell you what his given name is, but the tag is in Japanese, which I do not read. He is wearing a track suit that says Hokkaido on the back (which is the second largest island in Japan, according to the infallible Wikipedia).

Oh, and that codpiece, you ask? Well, you can pull it. And when you do, he vibrates and giggles merrily.

Joaquin looks concerned.

Gauge yarn store.

UPDATE: Gauge is reopening on Saturday, October 27, at 11 am. They are located at 5406 Parkcrest Drive Austin, TX 78731. Yay!

This post is for you Austinites and Central Texans out there:

Gauge, the new local yarn store that I blogged about recently, is temporarily closed for internal restructuring. Only temporarily.

I've been in contact with the owner Karli, who hand-delivered a book that I'd ordered (EZ's Knitter's Almanac, yay!) to me last night. She assured me that the store is not closed for good, but that she is working out the business issues and that she hopes to be open by the end of this month.

I'm on their email list, so when I get the notice that they've opened their doors again, I'll let y'all know.

Real knitting content to come soon, I swear.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Cotton-knittin' blues.

Thanks, sweet readers, for your comments on my finished lace tank! I got some great ideas for layering it and wearing it into the fall (although the only layering I can possibly consider right now that it's still 92 degrees is the kind that lasagna does. Mmmm...)

And the warm weather knitting continues to drag on here at Chez Yo La Tejo, as progress on this baby cardigan goes slowslowslow:

I don't think I've blogged much about this project; it's Judy's Grandmother's Baby Sweater pattern from Greetings From the Knit Cafe. It's for my baby niece, and I specifically looked for a kimono-style pattern because they're just so darn cute. I found the yarn in the sale bin at my LYS; it was part of a Classic Elite sweater kit so old that they couldn't even tell me if the company made that yarn anymore.

It was in perfectly good condition, so I happily started the six month size, but the closer I got to finishing, the more unsure I became about the measurements. Specifically, I think the gauge is off (but because it's for a baby, I thought, heck. It doesn't have to fit like couture.)

Plainly speaking, though, I think it looks a little weird. Like it's going to be too long, and have these little mini-sleeves dangling off the top, to make my poor niece look like Randy bundled in his snowsuit in A Christmas Story.

I was on verge of ripping it out, before I started the first sleeve. After months of work, I really don't like the way the slit gaps in the back...but then I said the hell with it. Ya basta. Enough. I want to knit with wool. So I'm gonna finish this little sucker.

I'm off to knit.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Lacey days...

...not lazy days. Oof, I wish. Now that the semester's started, I don't know that I'll see another lazy day in...oh, probably months. AND. Now that I'm.....(wait for it)....actually doing some WRITING for my dissertation, even my stolen moments knitting and blogging will probably be colored by severe guilt.

But enough with the whining! (Actually, I secretly love that I can now whine about writing my diss. I feel like I've joined the club..."demented and sad, but social.") I have a finished object for you all.

Lace Tank

(this is my "dreamily holding the hem like they do in IK" pose.)


Pattern: Lace Tank, from Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer 2007
Yarn: Euroflax Linen, 2 100g skeins, color champagne
Needles: Size 6
Size made: 34"


First of all, don't be intimidated by this pattern, or the dumb magazine copy that's on page 71. They say in the techniques section that when knitting the edge, "it will be helpful to count the stitches at the end of every row to make sure you have the correct number; a missing yarn over would be disastrous." Disastrous? Way to go,'ve just scared away half of your knitters. The truth about the edging is that it's only ever 14-20 stitches long, so if you make it to the end of your row and you're missing a stitch, well, you just tink back a row of 14-20 stitches.

Because the lace is double-sided, I actually was pretty intimdated at first, but once you get past the edging and the razor lace, you're more than halfway done. The more complicated lace near the top demands your attention, it's true, but it's not that hard (there's no crazy "knit 5 together through the back loop" action going on here). There are also charts available on the VK site, so be sure to look for those.

I wore this tank all day today, and I'm actually pleased with it. Which surprised me, because as I was knitting it, I was convinced that it was going to be one of those FOs that spent more time in the closet than in the light of day. Why, you ask? Well, I love knitting lace (as those of you who've been reading for a while well know), but the tank tops I've knit haven't really worked out well for me, either stretching out or not fitting right. And, because the yarn was so scratchy to begin with, I was sure that wearing this would be akin to wearing a big heavy dishcloth.

Not so. I ran it through the wash in a lingerie bag, and it softened up considerably. I know that the more wash it gets, the texture and the drape will improve.

I did find, however, that it was just too long on me. What they don't show you in the magazine (but what you can kind of see here if you look closely) is that the armholes are really roomy. Also, I felt that bust portion was hanging too low. After cutting into the single crochet edging on the sleeves and neckline, I frogged about an inch from each of the straps, kind of eyeballing it, which was a mistake. I botched one of the straps, ripping back too much, so I knit it again in garter stitch until it was even.

I wouldn't recommend the reckless approach! I would recommend, however, trying the darn thing on to see if you're happy with the armholes before seaming the straps and working the single crochet. Common sense? Yes. Do I have any? Apparently not.

After those adjustments, I picked up the crochet and finished the edgings, weaved in the ends, and ta da! The fit is much better.

In other knitterly news, I visited Gauge, the new LYS in town. The space is airy and modern, with that just-painted feel to it. Yarns are arranged by gauge (of course), and although the store owners kept saying that they weren't completely settled in yet, they had a nice selection.

I was stupidly excited to see shelves of Cotton-Ease. Ha! I thought this was brilliant, since I can't find the stuff either at the other LYS or at Hobby Lobby. I was also pleased to see Malabrigo worsted weight, and brought home two skeins in the American Rose color.

The owners were super sweet and very helpful, and Karli even offered to start a "favorites" list for me. They have a spacious, comfy lounge area in the back for classes and, as Karli explained, just for hanging out; the place has wireless, a selection of tea, and a library of books and back issues of IK and Vogue.

Oh, and also! Free knitting classes! I think they're beginner classes, and one to a customer.

As if yarn, wireless, and free classes weren't enough, they also had some cute t-shirts and jewelry for sale. All in all, a hip little yarn boutique that I'm sure will do well in this town.