Friday, April 8, 2011

Creative Focus

I bought 5 skeins of Creative Focus Worsted by Nashua Handknits to knit my very own February Lady Sweater.  So many people have knit it since 2008, but I have a similar store-bought sweater that I want to replace due to some unfortunate stains.  I love the light blue version that Rosape posted on her Ravelry page.

I armed myself with a list of possible yarns on a trip to Webs during their New Year sale.  I had the prices, content and available colors all mapped out in my spreadsheet.  (I know I'm such a dork)  There were yarns where the color was perfect, but I didn't like the texture or content and others where the yarn was so soft and lovely but the color was garish.  So hard to decide!

Creative Focus Worsted was a happy compromise with its 75% wool, 25% alpaca content.  The color, carnation, is not my favorite, but something that I would definitely wear.  I can't have my whole wardrobe painted turquoise!

I'm not a yarn expert, but CFW is not twisted tightly, it's like a twisted roving and breaks easily.  I had the most trouble casting on.  With my usual long-tail cast-on, the yarn would start breaking after about 30 stitches.  I tried different cast-ons, but since the cast-on edge as the actual neckline of the sweater, I didn't want anything loose or stretchy.  I VERY CAREFULLY cast on 83 stitches with a long-tail cast-on, switching the tail every 20 or so stitches.

I'm only about half-way done with the garter-stitch yoke, and so far, the fabric is very soft and fuzzy.  It's like knitting a soft bunny.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


My youngest asked me, "Mommy, what's a kwat?"

I looked down at her homework and see that she's learning about electricity in class.

"You mean a kilowatt?"


Kids are soooo cute!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

First Shawl

I added a couple podcasts to my list of podcast subscriptions last summer.  One of them was Knitting Pipeline by Paula.  She plays the bagpipes in a pipe band, is an avid birdwatcher, sells Longaberger baskets and, of course, knits.  Listening to Paula is like having a favorite aunt come to your house and chat about the latest over a steaming cup of tea.  Of the many projects Paula talks about, shawls are the ones she mentions the most.  And she's knit some very lovely shawls:  lace shawls, beaded shawls, garter stitch shawls, shawlettes...  The list goes on and on.

Anyway, listening to Paula's podcast inspired me.  I've made some lace projects in the past:  a couple of scarves, a shrug, a camisole, but nothing as complicated as a lace shawl.  During a trip to San Francisco, I bought some hand-dyed lace yarn from a local yarn shop called Stash in Berkeley.  (I have a habit of buying yarn with no idea what I'm going to do with it!)  That yarn became my first shawl. 

I had the Icarus Shawl in my queue for a long time.  It's the cover project in the book, The Best of Interweave Knits and looks so elegant and chic on the model.  I've always loved it but didn't know if I had enough knitting know-how to attempt it.  The beginning was very difficult for me.  I knitted and frogged the first 10 rows at least 5 times before I got the hang of the lace pattern.  Once I got the rhythm of the lace, I thoroughly enjoyed the process.  So, in between knitting the birthday hoodie and the gytha, I was able to finish my first shawl. 

As much as I love the Hepburn yarn I used with its lovely shades of blue, turquoise and purple, I don't love it as my Icarus Shawl.  I worked so hard on the shawl and I'm disappointed that the lace is camouflaged by the color changes.  I think I would have like it better without the purple sections in the yarn.

Icarus Shawl knit with Hepburn by Abtract Fibers

Note to self:  don't use variegated yarn for lace.

Monday, April 4, 2011


The first time I saw the pattern "Gytha" in the Winter '08 issue of Twist Collective, I wanted to knit it right away.  The problem was:  I just didn't have anyone to knit it for.  Neither of my two older daughters likes to wear bright or multiple colors and my little one was too small.  Fast forward two years, my baby is now wearing her the same size as her eighteen-year-old sister, despite the fact that she's only nine. 

Usually, I don't like to knit (or quilt) my projects in the exact same color as the original pattern.  This time, however, I picked my colors to match the pattern as close as I could get.  I love turquoise! The pattern called for Green Mountain Spinnery Mohair.  It's a lovely yarn, but I couldn't justify spending that much on a nine-year-old's sweater.  Knit Picks came to the rescue!  Their Wool of the Andes yarn come in a rainbow assortment of colors.  Buying yarn online is always a little nerve-wracking for me.  I read good reviews, I read bad reviews.  In the end, plunged ahead and ordered the yarn.  For about two bucks a 50 gram skein, how can I go wrong?  The yarn arrived 6 days after I placed the order.  No knots, no blue fingers. Wool of the Andes is a hit with me  I will buy it again.  Maybe Knit Picks fixed the problems that some reviewers were complaining about.

M's gytha

It only took me three weeks to knit the sweater.  It would have only been two weeks if it weren't for some changes.  I didn't want the sleeves too wide, so I decreased every few rows.  I thought I made the sleeves short enough, but when M tried it on for the first time, it looked ridiculous.  My goal was to make a sweater big enough so my cutie-pie can still wear in the fall (she's growing like a weed), but not so big that she's swimming in it.  There was only one thing to do.  I snipped the stripes off of each sleeve, unravelled the ribbing at the elbows and grafted the stripes back on.  Voila!  Shorter sleeves!

The picture we took doesn't show the toggle buttons at front opening, because I hadn't sewn them on yet.  M wore the sweater to school as soon as the toggles were secure and was happy as a clam.  I pictured her teacher and classmates ooing and aahing.  I didn't picture her falling into a mud puddle, which of course is exactly what she did.