Pink Monkey Knits

Using my opposable thumbs to knit up a storm!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Thinking Back, Thinking Ahead 

The other day, Sarah at Advancing the Plot tagged me for my first ever meme! Here's some random information about me:

"The rules of the game get posted at the beginning. Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer."

1) What was I doing 10 years ago?
I was finishing up my sophomore year of high school. It had been a tough and transitional year for me, as I had just moved back to Pittsburgh from South Florida. Academically, I did very well but still had to work to find my social niche. Around this time, I was starting to meet and hang out with some people who I still consider to be my closest friends to this day, so the outcome was a happy one!

2) What are 5 things on my to-do list for today?
You don't want to know about my work to-do list because drafting minutes is fucking boring. On my personal list, I'm wanting to buy an athletic-style swimsuit and swim cap for the water aerobics classes I'm taking (yes, it's not just for old ladies!), get some soil and seedlings for two planters on my deck, decide on a restaurant for date night with my fella, trade in some clothes at Crossroads and plan some meals for the week.

3) Snacks I enjoy:
Berries, cookies, dried fruit, peanut butter, pita chips, baked goods.

4) Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
Buy an old house and an electric car, travel a whole bunch, knit a lot and give a bunch to the Gates Foundation and my aunt's scholarship.

5) Places I have lived: eastern and southern suburbs of Pittsburgh; south Florida; Washington, DC; the SS Universe Explorer; Seattle, WA.

6) Jobs I have had:
babysitter, cashier at a movie theater, desk receptionist, temp, development assistant, organizing fellow.

7) Bloggers I am tagging who you will enjoy getting to know better:
I love getting to know all of my bloggy friends, so this is open to anyone who wants to answer it.

In my knitterly life, I've just finished a bunch of projects (which I'll tell you about at some point) and will be finishing another one very soon. I started thinking about what I would want to work on next, and nothing really called out to me. There's so much I could do with my stash yarns, it's almost too overwhelming to decide. Then, my lack of motivation for a new project made me realize what I have to do: I have to finish my oldest UFO.

Lizard Ridge Progress

Lizard Ridge, which I started in September, 2006 and have 11 of 24 squares completed. Yes, now is the time for the afghan.

Of course, I'll need to buy more Kureyon to actually have enough yarn to finish it. It's a shameful task, but it must be done!

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Adventures in Baby Knitting 

No, I'm most certainly not having a baby. But it certainly seems like a plenty of other people are these days! I think that I'm entering a new stage in my life where I'm starting to have family members and friends who are starting to or are thinking about procreating. This has opened a new realm of quick, cute knitting for me, a realm where I can try out many patterns I've been anxious to knit for a long time.

Tomten

Tomten Jacket from Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitting without Tears
A Mix of Lion Brand Wool-Ease, Cascade 220 Superwash and Artyarns Supermerino.
Size 8 needle

This jacket is for my cousin David (first cousin once removed? Is that what you call the son of your first cousin?), who was born in January. I thoroughly enjoyed knitting this clever little jacket for him, as it was fun AND it allowed me to use up some long-lingering yarns in the stash. Unfortunately, I did have to buy some more of the Cascade 220 Superwash because the garter stitch does use up more yarn than you think, but it was worthwhile for the overall product.

The stripes in this didn't end up looking as organic as I'd like, but the blue trim helps pull the colors together and make it look a bit more whimsical. I was originally aiming for a newborn size, but my calculations were way off. According to Karma, this will actually be a 9-12 month-ish size. That's fine, since the kid, who lives in suburban DC, probably won't need to wear wool until October anyways.

This technically isn't finished as I still need to hammer in the snaps (have you ever taken a hammer to your knitting? It will be a first for me). I finally get to meet David next weekend and I'll be excited to present this to him in person.

I've also been inspired to knit for another baby who will be here soon. By the beginning of next week, I will be an aunt! This will be the first grandchild in both my and my sister-in-law's family, so there is a lot of excitement surrounding this birth. Our excitement has been tempered by the fact that the baby will be born halfway around the world in Israel. I, of course, feel the need to express my long distance love through handknits.

Booties

Angora Baby Booties from Last-Minute Knitted Gifts
GGH Soft Kid, Baby Blue Colorway
Size 6 Needles

Baby Bib

Baby Bib O'Love from Mason-Dixon Knitting
Wool in the Woods Duet, Playground colorway
size 6 needles

Burp Cloth in Shadow


Burp Cloth Lines

Baby Genius Burp Cloth from Mason-Dixon Knitting
Wool in the Woods Duet, Playground colorway
Size 6 needles

They didn't find out the sex, so I tried to stick to mostly gender-neutral colorways. Well, the booties are arguably not neutral, but they're just going to be on the feet, right? In any case, these projects were all very quick, fun stashbusters. I especially like working with the Wool in the Woods yarn and watching the colors emerge. Unfortunately, these company appears to have been acquired by Cherry Tree Hill. Who knew there were cute throat business mergers in the world of yarn?

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I was so pleasantly surprised by all of the responses to my last post, and the fact that you're all still reading! The answers to why you write and read blogs were very varied and interesting. I have to say that I agree with you all - I read in order to be inspired and keep up with real and online friends. I write to focus my mind and keep track of the events in my life.

For me, though, it all comes down to creativity. The process of matching yarn to pattern, figuring out modifications and utilizing my projects is a rare area in my life where I can let my creativity guide me. I enjoy the process of thinking through how I want to present the information on my projects to keep it interesting and fun for you.

Here's what you've all been waiting for: the contest winner. I went to Random.org, which chose 7 as the winner. Congratulations to Liz K.! Liz is someone whose creativity I definitely admire; did you see all of the different projects she made with her stashed Manos? I am definitely going to make a laceweight sweater like hers someday, too.

Thanks to all for participating!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Returning to the Fold 

Believe it or not, it's been more than three months since I declared that, "I will have a new sweater for New Year's, so help me God." Well, let's just say that it sucks to be made a liar of on your own blog. I'm sorry that I haven't been around to fill you in on what's happened in a more timely fashion, but please do know that I missed blogging and the dialogue that occurs in this space very much!

When we last left things, I tried to recalculate the sleeve caps for my Swirled Pentagons Pullover using the instructions from the Vogue Knitting Bible and failed miserably. I then got the Winter issue of Interweave Knits and set out to use the directions from Pam Allen's excellent article on set-in sleeves.

I recalculated and graphed and was feeling very confident in my results. My second sleeve, left, had a lot less fullness than the old one.

Old and New Sleeve Caps

Unfortunately, disappointment came again when I sewed this sleeve in, and I once again had the weird Star Trek ridge in my sleeve cap.

Second Sleeve Cap - Wrong!

I figured I had two options at this point: make this project into a Swirled Pentagons vest, or try out Barbara Walker's top-down sleeve cap method. I had originally thought about doing the top-down cap, but ruled it out because I wanted to make these sleeves the "right" way. In reality, I think that the shape of the pentagons made for a strangely-shaped armscye, a rather triangular shape, that just didn't match the shape of a traditional set-in sleeve cap.

I picked up stitches around the armscye and started knitting down. I already had the sleeves knit up and planned to just graft the cap and sleeve together. Unfortunately, I had to pick up many more stitches around the armhole than I had on my sleeve already, so I had to make a dart in the middle of the cap.

Top-Down Sleeve Cap


This resulted in a very strangely-shaped sleeve cap - one that did not look like it would easily accommodate a human shoulder!

Strangely-Shaped Sleeve Cap

Thankfully, I persisted and on January 21st, while Cobra and I were enjoying an MLK Day drive through the Cascade Mountains, I finally finished.

Smiling in Pentagons

Swirled Pentagons Pullover from Knitting Nature
Botanical Shades Silk Wool Mohair Blend (purchased at MDS&W 2006)
Size 6 and 7 Needles

Swirled Pentagons Close

The smile on my face was very genuine when these pictures were taken and not just because I was so durned relieved to have this out of my WIP pile. I was happy to have created such a beautiful, nicely-fitting garment. The waist shaping I added and the omission of the turtleneck resulted in a sweater that is stylish, unique and beautiful.

Swirled Pentagons Back

I love the detail of the additional half pentagon in the back. It adds an extra bit of warmth and completeness to the sweater.

Back Very Close

This mohair-wool-silk yarn was gorgeously dyed with natural indigo (you may have seen the similar alpaca blend that Lolly made her gorgeous Aftur Pullover with). Apparently, this company is no longer making yarn anymore. Very sad news, as their product was wonderful to work with! I definitely got a little halo while I was knitting, and the singles were weakened a bit from all of the ripping, but otherwise, it was great and has held up well over these few months.

There's something else blue around my place these days. About a week and a half ago, I got my first ever car.

Keys to my New Car!!!!!

This is my 2008 Honda Fit in Tidewater Blue Metallic, which I have named Filbert 3000. It's a very strange feeling to have a car now after relying on public transportation for so many years. I'm already seeing the benefits, though; my commute has gone from being 50-80 minutes one way to 20 minutes flat. More time for blogging!

As a thank you for those of you who haven't unsubscribed from my feed over the last few months, I want to have my first ever blog contest. As a prize, I'd like to offer up this skein of Socks that Rock Lightweight in a Rare Gems colorway, a mix of red and orange, along with a few other goodies.

Rare Gems

To enter the contest, leave me a comment describing what keeps you inspired to write or read knitting blogs. The deadline for entries is Wednesday, April 22, 2008 at 10:00PM Pacific time.

Talk to you soon!

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Avoidance 

In between the holidays and some work-related travel, knitting has been going on Chez Pink Monkey. Indeed, I've been fairly prolific!

I finished the Twisted Tweed socks that I started during Socktoberfest.

Finished Tweed

Pointy Tweed

Twisted Tweed Socks from Schrodinger Knits
Trekking #76
Size 1/2.25mm Needle

This is a great pattern that yields perfect results in this sometimes tricky yarn. I wanted to use a pattern with this that would lend a little interest but not distract from the striping nature of the yarn. I originally started with Nancy Bush's Spey Valley pattern, but they were too tight. I had loved this pattern instantly when I saw it over at Stella's, so a change seemed natural.

This pattern was really well-written, with both toe-up and top-down options included and a great explanation of a short row heel. Even though I'm usually a heel flap kind of gal, I decided to try the short rows in the spirit of Socktoberfest. While they turned out well enough, I'm not planning to change heel preferences any time soon.

The slipped stitch pattern keeps the knitting interesting and enjoyable. If you are going to make these, please be aware, however, that the pattern greatly compresses the row gauge, which means you have to knits a LOT to make any progress. I'm not a retentive person who requires symmetricalness in her socks, but I did reverse the stitch pattern on the second sock to achieve this effect, mostly just to make it interesting.

They were a bit tight on my feet during the knitting, as the slipped stitches do cause the fabric to lose elasticity. During blocking, however, they relaxed and they now fit perfectly. Love them!

I also recently completed a quick stash-buster project: these Indoor Mitts.

Finished Mitts

Fingerless Mitts from Weekend Knitting
Women's M/L, with gauge of 4spi
Rowan Summer Tweed, Denim Colorway
Size 7 Needle

I've had a lone skein of Summer Tweed hanging around in my stash for a few years. I'm a bit obsessed with this yarn's qualities and really wanted to find a good project for it. After seeing Pam's pretty mitts and hearing rumors around my office about how cold it gets it the winter, I decided I needed a pair of handwarmers for those many hours at my desk. Although silk and cotton aren't usually thought to be winter fibers, I find that they do their job nicely.

My hands are really small, so I started with the sizing for the smaller glove. I could tell they weren't going to be large enough, however, so I ended up having to use the medium size and adding two extra ridges. I had a little trouble creating a neat thumbhole, but found that some strategically placed twisted stitches on the edges fixed that right up. Otherwise, this pattern is tremendously fast, easy, fun and great for that single skein you have lying around (and I know that you have one somewhere).

You may notice, however, that there is a notable exclusion from this cavalcade of FOs. Where, you may ask, is that lovely sweater that you worked so hard on during NaKniSweMo?

The hard truth is that even though it's almost a month after that deadline, I'm still not done with the sweater!

I finished the last few pentagons easily enough, and brought the sleeves with me on a recent work trip to Maryland so that I could finish up the caps. I copied the page on calculating cap shaping out of the Vogue Knitting Bible and planned to work on it during the plane ride. I tried to follow the directions and complete the calculations correctly, but it ended up just not making sense to me. After doing one prototype that was half the size it should have been, I decided to essentially wing it. I knit both caps in the dimensions I thought were correct and sewed one of them in to see how it fit.

Shit

Instead of a close-fitting, sophisticated-looking shoulder, I got a bizarre 80's Star Trek-looking effect with a few inches of fabric extending up over the seam area. Crap. My disappointment over this and the realization that I would need to sit and do some serious thinking caused me to put it aside for a few weeks (and focus on quick, instant gratification projects).

Now, however, I have the tools at hand to do this right.

The Tools for the Job

I will have a new sweater for New Year's, so help me God.

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

Not Gonna Happen 

Unfinished Sweater

This is me right around midnight on Friday with the completed sections of my sweater. Despite my concentrated efforts, I did not complete the Swirled Pentagons Pullover for NaKniSweMo.

As of right now, I have both sleeve caps and about 2.5 pentagons left to knit (progress was hindered by the ripping of one incorrectly-knit pentagon). In some ways, I'm actually relieved that I didn't make it. Because I'm making the sweater with a different gauge of yarn, I'm concerned that I'll have to change the proportions of the sleeve cap (I've had this problem before). To ensure a proper fit, it will be better if I block out the body, seam it up and then make my calculations. In this case, I'll be happier to have a nicely-fitting garment rather than a hastily done one. Despite not finishing, I'm proud of the amount and quality of knitting I did complete.

So, I will continue on and hopefully finish over the course of this Hanukkah week. Thankfully, I'll also give myself permission to work on some other projects, like my lingering Tweed Socks. I'm usually a pretty focused knitter, but that degree of project monogamy really got to me! Soon, my knitting imagination can run free once more.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Swirl Power 

My little prolonged silence is the result of mostly good things happening in my life. Here, you can see some of what is sucking up much of my energy.

Knitting during a call

Here I am at work listening to a conference call, knitting, taking notes and taking a picture of myself (to submit to Chelsea's Work Knitting Photo Pool). I've been at my job for just over two months now and I've been really enjoying it. Every day presents a different challenge, which has required a large investment of initiative from me. This, combined with an hour long commute on the bus each way has left me pretty drained by the time evening rolls around. It's the reason my last few posts, at least to me, seemed really restrained.

I must admit that meeting the day-to-day demands has made me feel very fulfilled with my work in a way that I haven't felt in a long, long time. It's exciting and really makes me happy. On the other hand, I don't like there isn't as much room in my life for the other things I care about. How do you handle the balance between work and life?

Despite not having my usual knitting bravado, I decided to participate in NaKniSweMo this month. After Lauren's spectacular two-sweater performance last year, I thought I'd be a shoe-in to get at least one garment finished in this time frame. I've been trying to work from my stash in a "first in, first out" order, so I knew I wanted to work with a yarn I picked up a while ago.

the haul

These are the yarns I got at the 2006 MD Sheep and Wool festival; in the back, you see Botanical Shades Single Ply Silk Blend naturally dyed with indigo (similar to Lolly's but with a different fiber composition). Ever since I bought this yarn, I thought I would use it to make Jolie from Rowan Vintage Knits. When I was swatching, however, I discovered that I did not particularly enjoy working the slip stitch pattern. In thinking about other patterns that appealed to me, Norah Gaughan's Knitting Nature immediately sprung to mind. After looking again at Grumperina's fabulous sweater (and useful commentary on her modifications), I settled on the Swirled Pentagons Pullover.

Pentagons Start
Tubular Cast on!

Pentagon Progress 11.17

I'm doing a few modifications of my own. My yarn is a smaller gauge than that specified in the pattern, so I'm following the pattern for the 44" for an end size of about 39.5". I've also added waist shaping and made the length about the same as my favorite sweater.

The big question is: will I finish before the end of the month? I'm trying to stay optimistic but I'm not sure. I have one sleeve and 3.5 pentagons left to knit. At this point, I'd be satisfied if I completed the knitting by Friday, then worked on the finishing over the weekend. I'm doing my best and will just have to see where that leaves me.

Hopefully, I'll have a finished sweater to show you this weekend!

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

How Was Socktoberfest? 

Although it may not have been totally apparent here on the blog, I once again participated in Socktoberfest this year. I found that I've come to look forward to this yearly celebration of those warm, personalized foot coverings and their various forms.

While some people were very prolific in their sock knitting this month, I was less successful. I only completed one single sock, which I started on October 10th (at my first Seattle Knitter's Guild meeting, wee!).

First Tweed

This is my first Twisted Tweed sock and I love it! I'm certainly much happier with this combination of yarn and pattern than the first too-small incarnation. The simple slip-stitch pattern looks so beautiful with this Trekking yarn (color 76); indeed, it really looks woven. Unfortunately, the stitch pattern has a shorter row gauge than a usual stitch pattern, hence the longer than usual amount of time it took to knit it.

Side of Tweed

The pattern is very versatile, as it has directions for both a top-down and bottom-up sock. I went with my usual top down, but decided to follow the directions for the short row heel rather than change it to my usual heel flap and gusset. Socktoberfest is a time for experimentation, if nothing else!


Right Short Row

Left Short Row

I hadn't attempted a short row heel since about 2005, so I was concerned that it would end up looking shabby. I do have some small holes from not pulling the yarn tight enough, but overall I'm pretty happy with the result. While it's nice to have another to have another potential tool in the repertoire, I still like my reinforced heel and shaped gusset area.

I'm pretty far down the cuff on the second sock, but I've decided to change things up a bit. Instead of working it toe-up, as the pattern suggests, I decided to reverse the direction of the patterning so the socks will look symmetrical on my feet. I'm not one of these people who's obsessed with symmetry, but the amount of time I'm spending on these made a bit of a difference necessary to keep from getting bored.

I'm anxious to finish these soon, but NaKniSweMo and my Swirled Pentagons Pullover may distract me...

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