Sunday, February 22, 2009


Yikes--I have started this post three times (this is #4), and the words are just not there. How 'bout I try checking in on my New Year's resolutions?

#1 Continue knitting from the stash
Yep, working on that. After a really long hiatus, I finished off the February Baby Sweater. And it's February! What are the odds of that?

Yarn: A little over one skein gray Dalegarn Baby Ull, plus little bits of black and red.
Needles: Size 5
Modifications: I did the sleeves last, in the round, like cosmicpluto did, which turned out to be a sanity-saver in the finishing department. Also, I only did 3 buttons at the top. Like Melissa did. Apparently I am a shameless copy-cat.

I enjoyed this foray into the world of EZ's pithy patterns (waaay easier to understand when you have the knitting in your hands), and would definitely knit another FBS if given the opportunity.

More stash knitting:

A little sachet. This is not the project if you're looking to clear a lot of yarn out of the way fast, but I'm enjoying experimenting with bead knitting and different lace patterns.

Yarn: an utter mystery, purchased at a seminal sidewalk sale many and many a year ago. Ditto the beads, except they came from Michael's.
Needles: Size 2 dpns
Pattern: Daisy lace from Lace Knitting to Go (fun fun fun box of lace patterns printed on greeting-card size cards). 56 stitches is 3 repeats, enough for a chubby little sachet. I get my herbs from Whole Foods. This little guy is going to be rose/rosemary/lavender, I do believe.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I May Regret This Later...

Before I go off on a tangent, I want to thank you guys for your thoughtful comments on the Garter Yoke Cardi. It's immensely encouraging to get positive reviews on a project I never even set out to make : )

Tangent: I've gotten myself a Ravelry account. For the past year, I had been mystified as to why people would blog about Ravelry and you could almost hear their voices getting all hushed in reverence and excitement. Sure, those little progress bars on the sides of pages were cool, but wasn't Ravelry a bit too much like MySpace or Facebook?

(Side tangent: I am hugely leery of sites like MySpace, Facebook, and their ilk. There's just something about them that weirds me out. This is my own personal issue, and I will not rant about either site because I am a blogger, and people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.)

Oh how wrong I was. The breaking point came after I had clicked a link and gotten rerouted to the Ravelry logon page for the umpteenth time. I felt as if I had memorized the color progression in the featured Jaywalker socks, and I just couldn't take it anymore. Like Squintz at the pool, I cracked. And I signed myself up.

My username is shoponhighstreet (no 'the'), for those interested in knittystalking, and within a week, I've added projects, I've added pictures, I've added stash, I've added stash pictures, I've deleted a project, I've built up a queue, I've cataloged all my knitting needles... and I love it. The capacity to identify, quantify, organize, list, label, and cross-reference makes my inner librarian geek out to no end.

It's amazing. I can
--Record in minute detail exactly how much of which yarns I have in my stash, and in which colors
--Cross-reference the project I'm making to see which yarns have been used for it and what other knitters are saying about the pattern
--Make a comprehensive list of which patterns I'm interested in knitting
--Not to mention a zillion other wicked cool things

Those of you who threw yourselves before the juggernaut early on are probably tittering over my naiveté, but I don't mind. I am thrilled to pieces with Ravelry.

(Please get back to me on this topic once I've started grad school and am torn between homework and the dire need to keep my project pictures up-to-date.)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Garter Yoke Cardi Reveal

I've got a new sweater, and the weather has obligingly turned cool and cloudy/rainy so I can wear it!


Pattern: Garter Yoke Cardi, from the Fall/Winter 08 Knit.1 magazine, size S (34)
Yarn: Ornaghi Merino Kind. I used about 830 yards of my main color--*just* over 5 skeins--and under half a skein each of green, blue, black, and cream (the pattern calls for 902 yards total).
Needles: Size 8 Takumi circulars. The pattern calls for size 7, but I knit really tightly.
Buttons: Shell, 5/8"
Modifications: Obviously, I added stripes in the garter stitch sections. This was partly to appease aforementioned Yarn Shop Owner, partly because I didn't have enough purple to do the sweater in one color. As previously discussed, I knit the entire thing at a tighter gauge than recommended--19.5 sts/4", as opposed to 18 sts/4". Finally, I knit the sleeves 1/2 inch longer than the 15" called for in the pattern, and added two more rows of garter stitch border at the end when that wasn't enough.
Photos: Graciously taken by Monita

This was a relatively easy pattern, and although Vogue is a good descriptor for how stylish the company's designs are, Vague is a better adjective for how the patterns are written. These are the patterns "How to" book authors are talking about when they advise tearful new knitters to take patterns in to yarn shops for exegisis of instructions.

That said, I liked that the pattern was 1) knit all in one piece and 2) easy to modify. My modifications were nothing groundshaking. I kept the waist shaping (very nice for giving the illusion that something exists where it does not), and worked the sleeves straight from underarm to cuff (this is how they get that little bell). I even left the sleeves bracelet-length, something that normally drives me out of my mind. If you wanted, though, one could really have a field day with the pattern, substituting thicker/thinner yarn, doing it two-tone with the body one color and the garter edges another, taking out the waist shaping and/or adding sleeve shaping. Doing an unshaped or belled body with only 3 buttons up top would be cute if you wanted this cardi à la Ysolda.

As you can see by the shirt I've got on under my sweater, I am totally incorrigible. But in spite of my initial misgivings about the colors, I do like this sweater, and I have already worn it as much as the weather has allowed, both out and about with jeans and at work with black trousers. And I'm pleased as can be that I got it done in just over a month!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Creature of Many Habits

Not just knitting, but also coffee drinking. To tell the truth, I wouldn't touch coffee until a few years ago. Then I'd share lattes and other milky sweet drinks if someone else had one, then I'd have my own, now I'm on to the straight stuff.
Well, not quite. I have to have a little sugar and cream, at least.

Monita is of the opinion that I am an addict. I refute that: a little caffeine is absolutely necessary for me to be coherent at work nights. Even if she is right, this piece in the latest Bon Appetit magazine says I'm doing my habit right.

Check out #18--Be your own Barista. I've been doing that since I became a regular coffee drinker, mostly because it's cheaper. I do have coffee out sometimes, and watching the disposable cups and sleeves pile up in the garbage the last time I was in a coffee shop (with my little washable, reusable mug) hit home how much waste takeout coffee generates.

As the article notes, Bodum's pots are really great. We have two of the Columbia model--one personal-sized and one Sunday-sized--and they are indispensible. No messy filters, and the Thermos-style construction keeps your coffee warm until you're ready to drink it. Probably because it's what I got started drinking, I like the way French press coffee tastes waaaay better than drip. It's milder, and in my opinion, less caffeinated. I'd tried drinking drip last spring semester, and it simply...Did. Not. Work. By the end of the day, I felt like my nervous system had been switched with that of a squirrel.

The other part of being a green coffee drinker, Bon Appetit tells me, is using organic fair-trade beans. I'm covered there, too-- Trader Joe's Bolivian is the new favorite en mi casa, and not only is it organic and fair trade, it's a pretty good price.

Seeing the array of organic and/or fair trade products now available at the stores just bowls me over because just a few years ago, you had to comb the specialty stores (and pay top dollar) to get them. Seeing so many green options (for yarns, too!) makes my inner tree hugger feel all warm and fuzzy. I am aware that organic isn't perfect, but for me, it's a sign: we are going in the right direction. Now that consumers are pushing for higher standards in green products, the changes will come. And living green is, without a doubt, the best habit to get into.