Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Wallaby I

The first wallaby is done! I finished it up early last week - while my mind was still swimming from Stitches Midwest - but wanted to wait and blog about it after it was firmly established in my daughters wardrobe, and had been through the wash a few times. Luckily the weather has been chilly enough in the mornings that we've needed sweaters for a few hours, and she's been enthusiastically reaching for this one each morning.

The yarn is a cotton/synthetic blend that I hope will be comfy on the skin, not too hot, and durable. There was a slight shine to the yarn when first knit up, but that seems to have faded after a few washings.

I love this pattern and sweater construction method. The booklet is very cute, and has lots of hand-drawn illustrations of kangaroos knitting and wearing sweaters, that my daughters really enjoy. You just don't find patterns like this around anymore. Most patterns that I come across are very straightforward, maybe 3 pages long, with a few photos, and a schematic of the dimensions. This pattern is it's own 24-page booklet, complete with advice, encouragement, and illustrations. It also is a pattern for all sizes and ages.

The sweater was manageable to knit, and wasn't overly complicated. I did make a few modifications, however. I switched out the ribbed hem and cuffs for rolled hem and cuffs. I think this made it more feminine and gives the piece a more relaxed and modern look overall. I also used seed stitch for the sides of the pocket, placket and hood trip. I felt this gave it an extra nice detail; the pattern called for regular garter stitch which I didn't think really added anything to the 'look' of the sweater.

I didn't change around the dimensions really, but I did knit a size 8 sweater, which happens to be fitting my size 5 daughter, albeit with a bit of room to grow. You can read more details about the knitting process, and sizing, on my ravelry page.

The sleeves for the other wallaby are complete and I am about 6 inches up from the waist on the body. I've got a ways to go, but seeing how cute this first one turned out has me excited to finish it up too.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Stitches Midwest

From Yarn Stash

My trip to Stitches Midwest was incredible. It was a great first knitting event for me. The cost of admission was reasonable, I took one class on bead knitting from Deanna Van Assche, and I saw, felt and coveted more yarn then I ever imagined possible. I visited with some local yarn shop owners, and took notes on endless yarns, projects to try and books to read. In short it was total inspiration.

This was actually a three-day event, but my friend and I attended for just one day. I think this was plenty. We were able to each take a class, and make it through the marketplace, even taking a break for lunch and checking into our hotel. Besides, we were two gals on a weekend vacation without our kids. We had other plans too - IKEA, pierogis, and a trip to the Japanese market.

I've never attended an event like this before. There were vendors of all sorts, selling yarns, needles, notions, kits, patterns, books, roving - the variety of items was overwhelming. I stuck mostly to the yarns as I have a ravelry queue full of patterns and I've got plenty of needles to get me started on most of them.

There was one vendor in the marketplace - I believe it was Woolstock Yarn Shop - that basically set up a corral and filled it with bags of yarn. One worker stood in the middle of the corral and tossed bags of yarn around. The prices were 40-50% off retail, and each bag had between 4-10 skeins. This was a great way to get enough of one kind of yarn for a larger project (sweater, vest, blanket) without spending a ton of money on individual skeins. I got 5 skeins of the Noro, and 10 skeins of the blue variegated Queensland Rustic Wool. This one seller alone made the whole experience for me. I love quality yarns, but as a graduate student/mother of three I don't have the extra budget to purchase 5-10 skeins of yarn at a time. This was a great way to pick up a large volume of high-quality yarn for an affordable price.

I have to say that I'm feeling more like knitting then blogging, so I'll leave you with a few pictures of the yarn that I picked up at the marketplace. I'm so excited to have these in my stash - especially the Noro sock yarn and some hand painted sock yarn from Cherry Tree Hill. Ever since I began knitting I've coveted these yarns, and now I own some. Weeeeee!

From Yarn Stash

From Yarn Stash

From Yarn Stash

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Blackberries and Pomegranates

With a trip to Stitches Midwest planned for next weekend I am deep in knitting thoughts.

As for the event itself, I'm planning to take one class on knitting with beads. I hope that I will come away with enough confidence to give something like these a try.

At home I've been digging around in my stash trying to decide what I might need to purge to make room for new purchases at the convention marketplace. I'm so excited to learn more about the different yarns I've used and maybe pick-up a few new skeins that I don't even know exist right now.

I've also been digging around in my pile of finished objects (FO's) and re-discovered the first pair of kids socks I ever knit. I promptly placed them on little feet and delighted in watching them run around the house. Too bad I can't remember a thing about them - the yarn, needles or pattern are lost to me.

With yarn purchases on my mind I serendipitously discovered this beautiful new skein of sock yarn (on sale at 25% off) from a local LYS/quilting store. A great yarn at a great price - you can't beat that.

As for actual knitting, I've been making a load of progress in the wallaby sweaters - hooded sweaters with a front kangaroo pocket - for my twins. I've completed the first one, in colorway pomegranate, thru the sleeves and am ready to join for the placket and add the hood. As I was knitting the sleeves I decided to break open the yarn for the second sweater and just continue on the sleeve train for awhile. The opening photo is of the four sleeves folded up together. Unfortunately the purple, or blackberry, sleeves will have to wait awhile until they are put to use. The girls are delighted in my progress and have been running around the house in just the sleeves. Quite a comical scene. So far I am really enjoying the pattern. I've made some modifications that have been working out - including substituting rolled hem and cuffs for the ribbing called for in the pattern.

Lastly, When I'm not knitting, or reading for my research, I'm slowly working my way through Knitting Yarns and Spinning Tales. It was a very thoughtful gift from my Mother-on-Law for the holidays last year and I'm just getting around to reading the stories now. Each story is a delight and I love discovering all the ways that I am similar to other knitters. There seem to be universals that bind us: our desire for meditation and/or relaxation through knitting; creating and expressing ourselves with our hands; and a deep interest in color and texture. There are others that are more emotional, more psychological and more complex, such as healing from or coping with trauma through the act of knitting. I have to admit that after reading The Friday Night Knitting Club I was a bit turned off from knit-lit (anyone else feel this way?), but this book has brought me closer in to the fold. I can't say I'm sold, but I'm interested in giving another volume of short stories a try. Maybe For the Love of Knitting? From the review it seems that Jamaica Kincaid is featured and after reading A Small Place in graduate school I will never be the same. For this reason alone I've added it to my library queue.