Lady Green

I’ve finished my Lady Grey Lace Shrug, and it is awesome. It’s everything I ever wanted in a fingering-weight shrug: a pretty lace pattern that’s not too difficult to work, 3/4 length belled sleeves with a fancy lace cuff, and a perfect match for the Alchemy Juniper yarn that’s been languishing in my stash basket for over a year. It’s warming my shoulders right now as I type to you on this chilly October afternoon.

I used exactly two skeins of Alchemy Juniper in the “Good Earth” colorway, down to the last inch — I had just enough at the end to weave in, and that was all. (I have another whole skein left over, though, and I was grateful to not have to break into it and wind it up just for the last couple of yards!) I knit the size small, and I left off the last half a pattern repeat on each arm because of my stumpy appendages. And the fit is perfect!

The designer, Rachel Erin,was super helpful throughout the process. I had a question about the gauge when I was starting out, and much later I had trouble understanding how the lace cuff was supposed to be knitted on, and both times she responded to my questions quickly — and in the latter case, I think she even updated her website with an instructional video.

Okay, enough with the demure poses. I will leave you with a shot from when Pat asked me to channel the “Top That” rap sequence from Teen Witch, the much-worse female version of Michael J. Fox’s Teen Wolf:

Warning: do not attempt to actually watch Teen Witch. The video linked above is approximately 100 times more awesome than the rest of the movie put together. Oh, and another public service announcement: starting with my last post (but I forgot to tell you then), it is now possible to click through these pictures to see slightly-larger versions of them. I figure I may as well show off my new megapixels, after all.

Sax Fiend

Meet the Sax Fiend. Pat bugged me for months to make a small monster to function as a sax mute, since our band is somewhat prone to generating noise complaints, and finally a few weeks ago I did. He is crocheted out of some random bulky-weight acrylic from my stash (probably Lion Brand?) that I chose mostly because it was thick so I could bang this guy out quickly. I didn’t follow a pattern; I just made sure his bulbous bottom was the right size to fit in the bell of the sax and otherwise made him up as I went along. The body is crocheted (since I find it’s much easier to freehand three-dimensional shapes in crochet), but the arms are I-cord, knitted at a fairly tight gauge so they would stick out rather than flop down. For the flippers/hands I just knit the I-cord back-and-forth for a a few rows, increasing a bit at the bottom and decreasing at the top. The mouth and fangs came out pretty well, given how badly I suck at embroidery. The thing about embroidery is that it’s basically sewing (which I’m bad at) plus drawing (which I’m really bad at).  So I try not to do it very often.

The eyes are from my, uh, stash of eyes. I seriously have a bag of about 60 pairs of stuffed animal eyes in various colors and sizes in my craft bureau. Hey, you never know.

Otherwise, I’ve been sort of wildly promiscuous with my knitting; I’ve been picking up and putting down projects as it pleases me and therefore have been making slow progress on all of them. But I’ve finished one sleeve of my Lady Gray shrug, as you can see here. I love the way this yarn (Alchemy Juniper) & pattern go together; in the main body of the shrug the colors are all mixed up, but I also like how they look here in the cuff where they’re a little more predictably stripey. I had a little bit of trouble conceptualizing how the cuff was supposed to be picked up and knitted, and the designer was quick to respond to my query and very helpful!

My Aestlight shawl stalled out two weeks ago when I decided that knitting the edging was annoying. I had to turn the work every 10 stitches or so, and the pattern was a little too complicated to memorize, so I had to look down every 15 seconds or so — which made it pretty bad TV knitting. But a few days ago I sucked it up and started working on this again, and I should finish it up tonight. So in a few days it should be blocked and ready to show you! (And FYI Gudrun is having a 20% off sale until October 17th, so this is a good time to grab this pattern if you’d been thinking about it!)

Here’s something you haven’t seen before — this is the Citron shawlette from Knitty that everybody and their mother was knitting this past winter. The yarn is Hedgehog Fibres Silk/Merino Lace in the “Pilgrim” colorway. I thought about making something fancier with this yarn, but the fact that I had 700 yards of it was a little awkward — too little for a wrap, too much for a scarf, and I really wasn’t in the mood for another triangular shawl. But then I saw that some Ravelers had done the math recently for expanding the Citron larger than the original pattern, and I realized that 700 yards would be just about perfect for a slightly larger & therefore more versatile version of the original pattern. (These charts are on the Ravelry page for the design, if you’re curious.)

So that’s three in-progress projects, and I of course also have my Buncha Squares blanket lurking in the background. Just yesterday I started another small project that I’ll show you when it’s a little farther along, and I have plans to start a large wrap project, and I’m thinking about doing the Through The Loops mystery sock for “Socktober.” And on top of all that, I’m itching to knit another sweater now that fall is approaching. It’s almost as though my knitting is conspiring to distract me from something… like, oh, say, my dissertation?

The Best Laid Plans…

What you see here is the beginning of a Not A Drop scarf from Arlene’s World of Lace. It’s a genius pattern, and it was looking pretty awesome in this yarn, but I decided to rip it out for two reasons. Reason number one was that it was taking WAY too much concentration; I basically couldn’t do it in front of the TV if I wanted to follow the plot of whatever movie we were watching. Reason number two was that I have 690 yards of this yarn and this scarf was only going to take about 350 of them. I contemplated making some fingerless mitts to go with the scarf, and that would have been reasonably awesome, but coupled with the sheer pain-in-the-buttness of this pattern I thought I ought to scrap this project.

I bought this yarn, Alchemy Juniper in the “Good Earth” colorway, at Purl Soho over a year ago. I bought 690 yards of it because I was planning to make a largeish shawl, but I’ve since realized that I don’t really wear largeish shawls– and besides that, I already have two green shawls! So for a long time I fantasized about making a cropped cardigan out of it, but 690 yards is basically too few for somebody of my bustiness, especially if I wanted the cardigan to have elbow-length sleeves. (I feel that short-sleeved cardigans drastically fail at their intended purpose, which is to warm shoulders and arms.)

I was rescued from my despair when Ravelry’s newly-formatted search engine delivered up to me Rachel Erin’s Lady Gray Shrug. Behold:

It looks suitably leafy, it should use up a good chunk of my yarn, and it will cover my arms to the elbows. Perfect, perfect!

I’ve also been working on another Gudrun Johnson pattern. (Gudrun designed the Audrey in Unst cardigan that I knit a few months ago — P.S. I wear that all the time and I love it.) This one is her Aestlight Shawl, though it doesn’t look like much yet in this picture:

It’s actually much bigger than this now, as you’ll see in a minute. The yarn is Sanguine Gryphon Bugga! (the same yarn that I used for the baby set I knit recently), in the limited-edition “Reakirt’s Blue” colorway. It’s a mottled bright blue-purple and I love it to pieces. I chose this pattern for it because its simplicity really lets the yarn do the talking. Plus I’d been wanting to knit one of these since the minute the pattern came out! It’s a traditional Shetland shawl construction, whereby you knit a plain triangle first, then pick up stitches on the sides for the fancy edging. Just last night I got to the beginning of the edging, but unfortunately you can’t really see that in this little composition:

I took this picture because I’m kind of in love with the colors of all three of the projects I have going now, and I especially love them together. Something about the forest green, red-orange, and blue-purple really speaks to my soul, guys. P.S. the spinning is going well but is taking forevvvvver. I am questioning the wisdom of deciding that my first spinning project was going to be 8 ounces of one fiber plus 4 of another — that turns out to be an awful lot of yarn when you’re spinning it as finely as I am. I’ve been at it for over a month, and I’ve spun maybe a quarter of the first 8 ounces. (Of course, I spin for maybe 10 minutes a day if I’m lucky, so that might have something to do with it.) Oh well, onward and upward!

Terra Shrug

terrashrug1

And now back to your regularly-scheduled knitting content. Talk about instant gratification! I started this shrug maybe a week ago, and voila! That’s what knitting aran-weight yarn on size 13 needles will do for you. Also, it’s pretty small; I used maybe 220 yards total. But since I only had 300 yards on hand, that’s more or less what I was looking for. The pattern is called Gaia, and since I knit mine out of a yarn called Terra, I figured that naming this project “Terra Shrug” would work on a couple of different levels. Check out the texture of the yarn close-up:

terra3

I just can’t get enough of it; how much more earthy can you get? And it’s super soft, what with being composed of merino, baby alpaca, and silk. It was a yarn-and-pattern match made in heaven.

I followed amsknits‘ suggestion to add crochet edging to the sleeves as well as the bottom of the shrug. I cast on for the larger size, which is indicated for bust sizes 38″ – 44″, because mine is about 41″ — but I should have remembered that most of those inches are, ahem, in the front. (I knit my Whisper Cardigan, which also didn’t have a front, in the smallest size based on my back measurement, but the Gaia shrug didn’t supply back measurements.) So I pinned it together and tried it on when I got to the length indicated for the small, and it fit, so I stopped there.

terrashrug2

The extra width doesn’t seem to be a problem; if anything, I’m happy having the slightly longer sleeves that casting on for the large size gave me. So I’m pleased with it, but given the heat we seem to be in for next week, I think it’ll be a while before I get a chance to wear it. I was sweating my ass off wearing this thing for five minutes this afternoon to take these photos! Weirdly, September and October are often the hottest months in southern California; I guess it’s the Santa Ana winds.

I’m almost done with my Hamsa scarf; it’s at the point where every time I finish a repetition of the lace pattern, I try it on and say “just one more, just one more.” So any day now I’ll have that to show you, and then I’ll be off and running with the things I’ve got cued up for autumn! (Such as it is, here in California.)

Hold Everything

The only permanent casualty of my car troubles over Labor Day weekend was my car stereo, which got permanently fried. Pat & I bought $20 iPod speakers at the Ft. Bragg Radio Shack before leaving town, and spent the 10-hour drive home listening to tinny, static-y music, which was better than no music at all. Certain bands sounded much better than others through those treble-heavy speakers. Good: King Khan & BBQ Show, Go Sailor, Modest Mouse. Bad: Okkervil River, Wilco, the Libertines. You know, in case you ever find yourself in a similar situation.

My old car stereo was the bottom-of-the-line factory model in 1997 when my car was manufactured, which meant it had a radio and a cassette deck and nothing else. When I bought the car in 2004, I hauled all my cassette tapes from my parents’ house in New Jersey out to my new home in California, where they all took up residence in my car. Suddenly I was listening to Paula Abdul and Nirvana and Elastica again, and it was awesome. I spread the word to my friends that since I only had the ability to listen to cassettes in my car, I’d love it if they made me mixtapes, and I received some excellent ones. So I was a little bit sad to let go of all that when my stereo got fried over the weekend, but it’s frankly delightful to have a new stereo now that plays CDs and that I can plug my iPod directly into. Previously I’d had a cassette-to-digital adapter that I’d purchased for about $5 at a sketchy electronics store in NYC Chinatown, which basically worked but was a serious pain in the ass and was becoming moreso in what turned out to be its last days. And I was especially delighted to only have to pay $70 for it at Best Buy; I had been resigned to spending multiple hundreds of dollars getting ripped off by some sketchy car-audio specialist in Costa Mesa until Pat suggested them. I was so delighted, in fact, that after getting my new stereo installed (which Best Buy can actually do for you!) I proceeded directly to The Container Store next door and bought this:

stashbasket

A stash basket, to hold all the pretty yarn I’ve been accumulating this summer! (Note that I also have a “craft dresser,” two drawers of which are stuffed with yarn, but that’s basically all leftovers from previous projects waiting to be recycled into something fabulous.) And look how well I’ve been doing at buying colors other than blue! (Except for the basket itself, hehe.) In this shot you can see my three newest acquisitions — three skeins of Malabrigo Sock, along the top, left, and right sides. The newest LYS in town, Knit Schtick, sent out an email alerting patrons to a new shipment of Malabrigo including their sock yarn, which no LYS near me has ever carried, so I went to check it out, figuring I’d get a skein of it for Ysolda’s new shawlette, Damson — and I ended up with three skeins because it was all so gorgeous. The reddish-greenish-brown one on the right is the Arbol colorway, and is the most likely to actually become a Damson. The purple one on the top is Rayon Vert, and the purplish-green one on the left is Primavera. I’m strongly considering doing something that would pair the Rayon Vert and the Primavera together, but I may decide to use them separately; we’ll see. Also, I don’t think that any of them will actually become socks; they’re too pretty not to be lace, I think.

So the basic idea of the stash basket is to get my pretty new yarn out of the bags on the floor where it had been living, and turn it into both a decorative element and a constant reminder that maybe I should not be buying any new yarn for awhile. Heh. Here’s hoping.

I mentioned last time that I was putting that Fibre Company Terra yarn to work already, which is why you don’t see it in the basket above. Here it is:

terrashrugwip

It doesn’t look like much right now besides a chunky scarf knit on too-large needles, but it’s on its way to becoming a Gaia Shrug, I swear. I do love how it’s knitting up, with the rustic texture and flecks of blue, and believe it or not I’m over halfway done already. Though I’m on the home stretch with my Hamsa scarf and I’m mired in the million-year-long seaming process for my Nadine tunic (which I will bitch about at a later date), I figured I’d sneak this project in for some instant gratification. The next time you see it, it will look very different!