December 1, 2014

11 Yes, I Made A Sweater Out of Novelty Yarn!

We all have our stories about the crazy yarns we bought when we started knitting, right?  Well I bought with the best of them, as you can see.  I remember squealing in glee when finding $1 balls of acrylic, dubious lots of 'unknown fiber' at Walmart, or mystery boxes of scary wool off Ebay.  I bought a lot of weird yarn when I started, and a lot of it was quite... well... furry?

Oh, did you just sneeze?  Have a tissue.  This, my friends, is the aptly named "Showstopper" from Ironstone yarns and it's made of 3 yarns plied together: a bulky mohair, an eyelash yarn, and a... um... "bling" yarn.  It's bulky, oh my god is it bulky.  I mean the gauge is 6 sts over 4 inches.  Yup, by just knitting 3 stitches you've already got 2 inches of knitting done, ha!  This yarn was bought as a gift for me years and years ago, and it was actually quite expensive.  This makes me laugh because compared to what I had been buying, it was the most expensive yarn I owned by far, and it still looked like what Chewbacca would wear to his birthday party!

I was determined to use it, even as my yarn snobbery continued its yearly escalation.  Actually, walking down the streets of Montreal these days I see that fake fur is IN FORCE!  I mean, people are looking mighty hairy, and not just because it was Movember.  It was high time to make a move.  I found a free pattern for really big needles from DROPS that used their own old school fur yarn called Fox.

Actually, now that I look at this she really has the Chewbacca color down pat.  ;)

Also, what was there to lose if the gauge was so big?  Truth be told, I finished the entire body in one devoted day.  To my surprise, I was really intrigued and decided to continue.

I never did a DROPS pattern before, it was a fine experience.  In fact, it has a really neat neckline.  At some point you do a few stitches in the center of the front in garter, and then start decreasing for the neck continuing in garter just for those stitches.  Very sweet.

I must admit, I had the idea that maybe I should shave the whole thing with hair clippers...   I suggested it to my friend and she freaked out "Nooooooo, doooooooooon't!"  In fact, I have been totally astounded at the compliments I have been getting on this hairy-maybe-scary piece.  I mean, people stop me on the street to say how cool it is... I guess the clippers and bikini wax will have to stay in the closet for now!

In other news, it is December 1st and I am quietly freaking out about the move.  This is why you're seeing more of me on Facebook than here, because I only seem to be able to focus on 1-line wonders!  Unfortunately, I didn't get the job I wanted.  Worse, I didn't find out in time to take advantage of another opportunity I had, so I am back to square zero (if that exists!).  There's collateral damage to this, because it seems like they can't give us the house loan until either I have a contract or we immigrate, which we aren't allowed to do until December 26 because of my husband's visa rules.  Drat!  The rather funny part is that they have to move everything out of the house on December 23 because of the holiday, meaning that we will have an interesting Christmas eating off of cardboard coffee tables and sitting on an air mattress!  Maybe I should make a tree out of packing materials, what do you think?

For those of you wondering about whether I am giving away any stash, DON'T GET YOUR HOPES UP!  :D  One of the perks of this move is that they are packing us up so I don't have to get rid of any of it!!!!  /evil laugh/

I'll be back very soon with a suggestion for the perfect holiday gift for your favorite knitter.  See you then!

See my Novelty Madness on Ravelry

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November 10, 2014

9 Wonky in More Ways Than One -- Brindled Hat by Woolly Wormhead

I always like to tackle a free Knitty pattern here and there.  To be honest, I tend to pick accessories because I always find myself in a race to the finish.  It's not for any good reason, but if I like a new Knitty pattern I just feel this need to dive in and be one of the first to finish.  I don't particularly like that about myself, but it is the truth.  For instance, how often do I pick a Knitty pattern from an old issue?  Never.  Despite all of this, I had a great time with Princess Franklin by Franklin Habit:

Woolly Wormhead, the intrepid hat designer, tempted me this time with Brindled from Deep Fall 2014.  I've never made a Wooly Wormhead hat, so I thought this would be a nice free way to do it.

The hat uses a light fingering weight held double, but I wanted to try the new Rowan Finest, a luxurious blend of 50% extra fine merino, 30% royal alpaca and 20% cashmere.  I hate itchy foreheads, and this was one of the softest fingering yarns I could find!  You only have to hold it single to get gauge, and luckily they have two uber-in shades, chartreuse/yellow and a dark gray:

The wonky stripe effect is due to knitting the stripes with short rows... and that is always fun, right?

Weeeell, not so much.  Honestly guys, this is one of the few projects I was tempted to call a Ravelry "UGH!".  For those of you who don't know, that's the lowest rating you can give one of your projects.

You see, there is one big problem with this hat.  Notoriously, short rows can leave holes where you turn, but there are a million and one ways to do it to satisfy yourself.  No problemo.  WHAT THERE ISN'T, is an effective way to pick up "wraps" that were done on the wrong side, from the RIGHT SIDE when you join back in the round.  It's just physics... coming in from the other side will always be wonky, no matter whether you use fish lips, German, Japanese, wrap-and-turn, shadow... how many other short row methods have been named?!  I've lost count.

If this hat were knit flat and seamed, you wouldn't get this, I swear.  See all those holes?

The only thing I could do to fix these purl wraps was to cheat.  You will see two large loops leaning towards each other.  Just stick your needle in and pull up the slack to the left and right of those big stitches:


Not too bad really, thankfully we are saved from an embarrassing "UGH!" experience!

And what about the Rowan Finest?  Wow, what a yarn!  I've been wearing this hat for weeks and it is very very warm and soft.  There is still a tad of itch on my forehead after long wear -- I am really extremely sensitive there.  Also, the hat has no pills at all yet.  Yes, it doesn't really rub on anything like the underarm as a sweater, but I am still really impressed. 

(Do you ever see girls on the bus or train and their purchased hats/cowls/scarves have huge pill balls that you want to tear off when they are not looking?  Is that just me?)

This is definitely a luxury yarn though, as the balls are only 25g for a price.  I feel like I got a great value, though, as this slouchy striped hat only took 1 ball of each color.  I used it up to the very end, wrapping everything I had left in my friend Jen's Clover pompom device (tempted to buy one, despite the price!).  I love the extra-wonky splatter of gray in the resulting poof.  As you may know from a previous blog post, I'm a horror at pom poms!!

Ok, so the hat was fun to make (before trying to fix the holes), the yarn is fab and I wear it all the time.  So, I really shouldn't complain too much.  But my fix won't make everything perfect, so if you are picky about short row turns showing in your work, don't make the hat.  However, if you accept the wonky holes as simply an essential part of the extreme and purposeful wonkiness of this hat, go for it... you will be entertained!

In other news, I've got two whole sweaters to show you, but my brain is filled with house inspections, well water, septic tanks, no job, currency exchange dejectedness, lack of concrete financing and feverish planning for a move with no date.  A.K.A.: what happens to everyone when they move.  I can't believe I almost signed up for a test knit yesterday... I need to focus on this stuff!  It has been a blast looking through all my knitting magazine stash and paring down, though.  If any of you in Montreal are following, I have a ton of color photocopies of library book patterns and straight needles I'll be giving away.  Make sure to be somewhere I will be if you are interested in a freebie!  :)

See my Wonky Stripes on Ravelry

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