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, Vogue...you'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.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

All for fall.

Whelp, it's certainly been a while since I posted last! I was still in L.A. and had just finished my niece's folklorico skirt; since then, I made a whirlwind visit to Chicago to help care for my mom (who was just out of surgery) and then back to Austin...the day before the semester started! Obviously, some things had to be prioritized--preparing a syllabus or blogging? Oooh, tough decision. I don't even think my students know how close we came to just winging it all semester. :-)

Thanks to everyone who left comments on the skirt I made for Isabel! She wore it to her recital and according to my sister, danced to the left while everyone else danced to the right. When asked later if she had forgotten the steps, she simply said, "no." Apparently everyone else had gotten it wrong.

Knitting has been progressing at a sluggish rate, but the planning? Ooh, the planning for fall knits. I pretty much pushed myself to finish the lace tank from Vogue Knitting (spring issue, I think?) just so that I could cast on with some wool.

I begrudgingly did the crochet edging around the sleeves and neck while starting the third season of Angel, and now it just needs a few ends woven in and a good blocking. I would have just soaked it, but because it's Euroflax linen, I want to run it through the wash to see if the yarn will soften up some.

Meanwhile, since my birthday's coming up, I treated myself to a set of Addi lace circs and a skein of Smooshy sock yarn at my LYS's monthly sale (all 20% off). Even though I have a stash of sock yarn waiting for me, I couldn't wait to cast on with the Smooshy, which poses here with some Cascade 220 I have queued to knit Stephanie Japel's Back-to-School vest from Fitted Knits.

I was literally standing there at the LYS, minding my own beeswax, when a woman came up to me and asked me if I'd seen the Smooshy. I was all, the whuh-huh? She pointed to the stock on the lower shelf and declared it to be the softest yarn that made the warmest socks. And that her Sockapalooza pal was very happy with the pair she'd made out of Smooshy. Well, with that kind of testimonial (and the name Smooshy), how could I resist? I picked out this green, which in person looks positively incandescent. (I also privately marveled at how she threw out the concept of Sockapalooza without wondering if I would even know what the heck that was, in addition to what the heck Smooshy was.)

Speaking of LYSes, Austin is getting a new one! Woot woot! But before I tell you more, I know you'll get a kick out of the little story about how I found out it was coming...

At the end of last semester, I was grading papers at a favorite local coffee shop, when I noticed that three women next to me were having a business meeting. (Noticed or eavesdropped? Potayto, potahto.) One woman looked super familiar, but I couldn't remember where I knew her from. Well, I continued grading papers, but I heard them talking about sock yarn. Could have been some other thing going by the name of Regia...

Finally, one of the women pulls out a bag of Claudia's Handpainted, and I just could. Not. Restrain. Myself. I leaned over and commented that I couldn't help but notice all the yarn and were they by any chance opening up a new yarn store? (Pause. Bated breath.) Then I realized that the woman I'd recognized before was Karli, who used to work at really what's the only LYS in Austin (there's another in Cedar Park). I mentioned this and a friendly discussion ensued during which Karli threw a skein of sock yarn at me to see what I thought of the color. I got to help pick out a color for the stock, y'all!

Anyway, it turns out that Karli and a partner were planning to open an LYS called Gauge (cute!), and they took my email and blog url down. I just got an email from them letting me know that they just opened. Hurray! It's almost like having another birthday present. For you Austinites out there, the address is 5406 Parkcrest Drive Austin, Tx. 78731.

Coinciding with the start of a new semester and a new season, is the arrival of a very special someone in my house. Meet Joaquin P. Pickering:

Joaquin's creator is the lovely and talented Floresita of Things I've Made, and to celebrate her blogiversary, she held a little contest offering up some monkey love, which I won! If you do nothing else today, you have to go see the portraits of Joaquin with his brothers and sister, taken before he embarked on his journey from NYC to Austin. As soon as he got here, he devoured the felt bananas I had waiting for him! Here here is perusing my book collection and considering the perennial question--is he a Sandra Cisneros fan, or an Ana Castillo devotee? Hmm. Take your time, Joaquin...it won't be an easy choice!

For next time--an FO post!

* All for Fall is the name of a children's book I used to have that I read to pieces. I don't remember exactly how it went, but it probably had lots to say about falling leaves and new school supplies and hot cocoa. Maybe even something about wool sweaters.