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"Knitting is very conducive to thought. It is nice to knit a while, put down the needles, write a while,
then take up the sock again." - Dorothy Day

Like Alice...

I feel as if I'm late, for a very important date.
I didn't manage to get a post up this weekend, as I was attacked by an unscheduled wave of exhaustion Sunday night. Frankly, I have very little to write about anyway. I didn't finish anything, start anything, or even accomplish much in the past week.

I did, however, purchase something that confused my husband very, very badly.

I have never owned a blocking board. At my upstate cabin, I've always used a towel on the floor, which has worked swimmingly. At the city apartment, things get a little more complicated. We have a cat, so blocking on the floor is out of the question. I have generally only been able to lay out small items (like the baby sweaters) on a towel on my dresser. This makes aggressive blocking (again, the baby sweater) difficult; when I pin the garment to the towel, there's a good chance the towel will just crinkle up and the finished item will be too small.

You all know I am working on the wedding stole. I've bought blocking wires, but it occurred to me that I would NEED a blocking board for this; it has to be stretched aggressively, and it's so delicate that any crinkle of the towel would make for ugly crinkly knitting. I priced out some blocking boards. I need something that will be about seven feet long. That's a lot of blocking board, and a lot of money. I am pretty averse to spending a lot of money on things unless it is absolutely necessary, so the mind starting working, the fingers starting googling, and I came up with an alternative option. This weekend, I went and found it.

Perfect, right? Rigid enough that I can set it just about anywhere, soft enough that I can pin directly into it, and in its own handy-dandy carrying case. That's 36 square feet of blocking real estate right there. Also, about $20 on sale at a discount store.

Plus, I can learn both the alphabet AND numbers! Heh.

Let me say this though; if you don't plan on having children, and you purchase items that are clearly meant for children, don't let your husband discover them accidentally. Heart attacks were narrowly averted.


Halfway Home

This weekend, I finished the first half of the wedding stole.

We're on the home stretch! I had long ago picked out the provisional cast on and put it on a spare set of needles, so I'm ready to start knitting the second half right away. First though, I had to admire the details. Please note: this is NOT the world's worst job of blocking. I just pinned it out a little so I could see the stitches. No stoles were harmed in the making of these photos.

Let's start at the top; this is the center motif, which will get mirrored so the center is symmetrical.

It's my favorite part; I love the flowing lines that surround this section. And since this is for a wedding, the hidden hearts are perfect.

Here's the whole thing again, but pinned out so you can see the middle a bit better.

Again, flowing graceful lines that pull your eye down the length of it.

Here is the edge motif:

More hidden hearts, more graceful curves.

And then, the latest to be completed, the edging.

My newest stunning realization about lace; knitting on edging is fun, fast, and really gratifying.

I have today off, and the only difficulty I'll face is what to knit. I should start the second baby set, but the lace is calling me.


Trellis and Friends v. 1.0

I guess I shouldn't have been worried about not having enough time for booties.

I always forget just how small these things are. They took one evening each. The hat, here modeled by Mr. Bowl, took about a day.

Mr. Bowl has a rather flat head; I'm hoping the baby doesn't have the same problem.

The sweater, of course, took a while longer. You can see pictures of it in progress in my last post.

Well worth the effort I think; a little over a week for the whole set. Not much time, not much yarn, but maximum cuteness power.

Pattern: The sweater is Trellis. I really loved knitting this pattern. The cables look complicated, but they're intuitive after a while. The pattern is really thoughtful; the cables all flow together and decrease away really nicely without random extra stitches.

The hat I kind of made up. I started with i-cord, then increased into earflaps until the seemed like the right size. I cast on between the earflaps for the front and the back and worked seed stitch for a while. Then I used the charts from Trellis, and started decreasing when it looked right.

The booties are Ruth's Perfect Baby Booties. It really might be a perfect bootie pattern; it's simple enough that you could really customize it. You can change the ribbing or add a stitch pattern to the top of the foot pretty easily.

Yarn and Needles: Dale of Norway Lerke, 52% merino wool, 48% cotton. I used 3-1/2 skeins (50 gm each) of color 6621, a lovely pale aqua. I could not have picked a better yarn for this pattern. It's soft, not even remotely itchy, and machine washable. Something about the combination of cotton and wool makes the texture look absolutely incredible.

I used size 4 needle circulars and DPNs throughout the set. If you prefer using straight needles you can for the sweater and the booties.

Mods: The sweater was worked pretty much as the pattern. I worked both fronts at the same time and put the buttonholes on the wrong side, but I think that was the only change.

I used a provisional cast-on for the booties so I could graft the sole seam. I also worked the cuff in seed stitch (to match the sweater) instead of ribbing.

If I Could Do It Over: I might work the sweater without side seams, and do the sleeves in the round. I can't do that when I actually do it over though, since the two sets will be seen side-by-side. I think I'll re-block the hat a little smaller. Other than that I'm pretty happy with it.

Next time: the return of the stole.


Baby Boom

Yet another new project jumped onto the needles last week. This seems to happen any time I don't have to go to work. Hmm.

There are two pregnant women at work, one of whom is a close friend of mine (let's call her Katie, and the other one Carrie). This is the second child for both. The first time they were pregnant, they were due within a month of each other, totally unplanned. They both had boys. (That set of babies was the reason I learned to knit; when I told my MIL that Katie was pregnant, she dragged me to a Michael's and insisted I would learn to knit a baby blanket. That baby blanket never made it past three inches of acrylic nastiness, but I did manage to crank out a pair of booties.)

So this time around, Katie announced she was pregnant. Carrie pulled her aside and said she was too. They compared due dates, and this time they are due within a week of each other. And of course, they are both having boys. They are due in early March, but Katie was almost a month early last time, so I thought it might be time to get cracking on a little baby boy cuteness.

They are both getting Trellis, but if different colors. This is the completed back and fronts of the first one. It's knit in Lerke, a new yarn by Dale that's a merino-cotton blend; perfect for spring. This one's a pale aqua color, and the other will be in a heathered beige. The yarn is great to work with; all the softness and sproinginess of wool, with the beautiful cable-popping definition of cotton. Speaking of cable-popping, here's a close-up of the front cable panel:

Lovely, no? The back is essentially same, but with a seed stitch panel down the center back, bordered by twisted knit stitches. Oh, did you want to see that too?

This weekend it's all about the sleeves. While they're blocking I'll be able to work on the collar, and then the seaming party will begin. If I have time, I'd like to make some matching hats and booties, but we'll see. The wedding stole is crying out for attention, so I may need to soothe her for a while before moving on...