Monday, July 28, 2014

Me and Stash: It's Complicated

At the beginning of June, after receiving my partner assignment for the fantasy theme of Geek and Nerd Swap 2014, I decided to make the Midna Mitts, based on Eunny Jang's Endpaper Mitts with my own charts.  I dutifully trotted off to the best yarn store in town to pick out yarns in appropriate colors.  There two lovelies came home with me:

There was, of course, the possibility that this would not be enough yarn to complete the mitts, but it was three days into June and I had turned out fingerless mitts in under a week.  I was certain that I would have enough time to pick up more yarn if I ran out.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Binary Progress

The binary scarf has been my companion knitting for the past couple weeks, and progress has been made.  The scarf now measures about 25 inches or 63 centimeters, and I estimate that it is about 40% completed.  I should soon finish up the first half and start working ones and zeros in the other direction, repeating the same sequence of characters.

This is my second project with real, feltable sheep's wool, and I understand even better why wool is recommended for this type of project.  While not as buttery soft as superwash merino, this wool isn't all that harsh either, and I expect it to soften with proper washing.  The two colors cling together in a good way, and stitches are extremely loathe to drop or run (as I found out the two times I accidentally tugged the wrong needle and needed to recollect a couple dozen stitches).  Despite that, I don't have difficulties ripping out stitches either.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Ones and Zeros

I have run into a small problem with the pumpkin socks and gauge.  The pattern doesn't actually include gauge information, saying instead that a sock 64 stitches around knit on size 2 needles fits a size 6 and that this is a half size larger needle than the designer typically uses.  Now, I know what kind of gauge I get with the yarn I am using when I use my favorite pair of sock needles, and I know the finished size I like my socks to have.  If I had the gauge or some information on the finished circumference of the sock, I could calculate how many stitches I need to make a sock that fits and go from there.  Unfortunately, without knowing that information and without any experience on how much cables restrict a sock's stretch, I will need to do a bit of experimenting to figure out how many stitches I need to get a sock that fits well on my calves and then alter the pattern charts to match that number.  While I don't mind the calculations, the inevitable ripping out does not appeal. 

I spent several hours on the train over the weekend for a short trip, and felt like knitting rather than knitting and ripping.  The pumpkin socks were bumped out of active status in favor of the last remaining Christmas scarf, a restarted Binary.  Train travel is a great venue for complicated knitting in my mind; there is none of the hassle of security or baggage checks like those of airports and more space to spread out than on a plane.  The result:

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Pumpkin Orange

I love pumpkins.  I have fond memories of coming home from school on Halloween, excited to go trick-or-treating, and smelling my mom baking pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.  Most of my attachment is to growing or eating pumpkins, but they are still the sight and smell of fall for me, from September throughout the winter.  While western Europe has some very nice squash, I maintain that they aren't the same as the pumpkin varieties from the US, and are not the same thing.

This explains why my reaction to seeing Sabine Ruppert's pattern for Little Pumpkins socks was to squeal "Pun'kin socks!"  I had to make them.  Finishing the Midna Mitts and other swap goodies meant that I was in need of a commuting project, and I cast them on last Saturday.

This is a particularly timely project for two reasons.  One, it has historically taken me two months to knit socks, which means these should come off the needles in September or so when it is fall. Two, this is the local weather:

Since fall weather is being delivered in such large, blustery, and wet amounts, I will go mix up a pot of soup and knit pumpkin orange socks.  Happy knitting!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Finished: Triforce Project Bag

My swap partner also expressed an interest in a project bag, so I decided to sew a small one.  Sewing a bag or pouch takes a lot less time for me than just about every other project I take on, and since I had already decided go with a Legend of Zelda-themed box, I knew how I could make the bag go with it.

A Triforce Bag.

The Triforce is pieced loosely following a tutorial I found on Diary of a Quilter, and the fabrics are 100% cotton quilting fabrics purchased at le Marché St. Pierre.  The main exterior fabric in particular reminds me of the background in the Temple of Light of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.  The bag pattern comes from this tutorial, though I made a couple of minor alterations.  The largest of those was piecing the front of the bag to include my Triforce panel.  I also left two openings for drawstrings, one on each side, and only added interfacing in the bag's base, as I felt interfacing on the sides would make the bag hard to pull shut.

I think I was right on that last point.  The bag is a bit hard to close, though I expect it will get softer with washing.  I also think I should have used sturdier ribbon ties instead of fabric ones made of the quilting cotton.  Still, the bag turned out nicely, and it is big enough to hold a sock-in-progress or other small project.

Now I just need to make myself one, so I am not hauling my projects around in ripped plastic bags in my backpack.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Finished: Midna Mitts

Now that my swap package has successfully reached my partner, I can discuss my handmade items here!  The theme of this swap was fantasy, and my swap partner revealed that she was a fan of the Legend of Zelda video games, in particular Twilight Princess and the character Midna.  She also wanted practical things.  I have sadly never played Twilight Princess and had to look up who Midna was, but a little bit of searching for game images showed that she wears (in her true form) something that looks a little like gauntlets, or fingerless mittens.  So I knit a pair of fingerless mittens.

I found this ironic when I opened my package and she had also knitted me mitts.

The Midna mitts are based on Eunny Jang's Endpaper Mitts pattern in form, though I had to redo the thumb gusset increases to accommodate my row gauge.  The charts are my own, and are based on Midna's hair jewelry and the markings on her wrists and thigh.  The yarn is Lana Grossa Cool Wool Superfein, in the blue and black colorways.

Planning this project went quite quickly.  Knitting the first mitt did not.  I have minimal experience with stranded knitting, so I knit about half of a mitt as a gauge swatch.  This let me practice holding a yarn under tension in each hand as well as measure my gauge.  I discovered that working with one yarn in each hand means that each can be fed into the knitting at its own rate, which I needed for a pattern as random as the one I had (see evidence of wonky gauge on side of gauge swatch in above picture).  That was good, so when I got comfortable with that, I started the first mitt.  I later discovered that I put much more tension on the yarn held in my left hand (I normally knit Continental) than on the one in my right, and this was making my floats of the main color far too tight.  So I ripped out that mitt and started over again.  That attempt is what I called the right-hand mitt.

It actually doesn't matter which mitt is on which hand, as the shaping is top-bottom symmetric.  Switching them just changes which pattern is on the back of the hand.

Anyway, I finished the right-handed mitt about three days before I needed to ship my package, and had a bit of a knitting marathon weekend to finish the second one on time. However, when I had both mitts finished and right-side-out in front of me, I thought they looked extremely cool.

Happy Fourth of July!  I was born and raised in the US, though I have now spent most of the last four years living in Europe for study and work reasons.  It means that I don't get today off of work to celebrate, but it is a good day to be grateful for the legacy I have from my country.  Also, two years ago today, CERN announced the discovery of the Higgs boson, ending a search of more than sixty years and an era in my field.  It is a good day to celebrate.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

My Swap Package Arrived!

My swap partner was more disciplined than I, and sent my package a couple days before I sent hers.  So I got my package!

I love having fun mail waiting when I get home.  It makes me happy.  So did this box.  I have a pair of fingerless gloves and another of mitts, and my partner told me that the pattern ideas were graciously supplied by Thorin and Zelda when she had asked around for inspiration.  I have yarn, body wash with an amazing scent, herbal tea, and some adorable stitch markers from Wychwood Dreams.

I was cooing over the stitch markers.  I felt the immediate need to start a lace project or three.  Thank you, swap partner!