Thursday, July 24, 2008

Heidi knits a preppy top

Mountain Man and I visited friends in some serious mountains over the weekend. It was glorious: snow-topped peaks,meadows of alpine wildflowers, intense blue skies and glacial lakes. When I pulled out my knitting on the 12,000 foot pass, I felt like a modern-day Heidi!

In case you're wondering, modern-day Heidis knit themselves preppy little tube tops. Here's what I was working on, all finished now in Vermont:

Yarn: Knitpicks' Shine Sport in 'grass,' 3 balls
Needles: size 5 bamboo circular
Pattern: improvised -- just a stockinette tube with 1x1 ribbing at the top and bottom and ribbon straps.

The story behind this is that I received 3 skeins of Shine sport from Studio Knit, as part of an awesome prize that I won on her blog (also included: spinning fiber from Hanks in the Hood). I loved the color and immediately started planning a top that I could finish in just 3 skeins.

Initially, I thought I'd make a lacy camisole. But my lace swatches looked so unbearably bulky. And, frankly, I find those lacy camisoles kind of annoying to wear. (In my mind, the whole point of a tank top is to have a lightweight garment, so I find it bothersome to have to layer them.)

So, a tube top it was. It took a few false starts to get the sizing due to the incredible stretchiness and drape of the fabric. In the end, I decided to forgo waist shaping because I realized that as I wore the top, the fabric would stretch downwards and the waist could move. The solution: I designed it to just fit my waist and have negative ease elsewhere. Worked like a charm! And to finish, I sewed some simple straps out of matching ribbon.

I feel pleasantly preppy in this little top, mostly because it matches my high school color (girls' boarding school in Connecticut -- can't get much preppier than that!). The clean lines and grosgrain ribbon help, too. :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

In the swatching stage

When we left Arizona, I carried with me enough yarn for six projects: thee pair of socks, two camisoles, and a pair of gloves. I figured I'd find some lovely Vermont wool this summer, but my overall goal was to go home with less yarn than I brought here.

Fat chance!! To my credit, I did finish the Sea Wool and Jitterbug socks on my drive. But thanks to Webs, my local farmers' market, and one contest I won through WiKnit (more on that in another post), I now have enough for eleven projects! And that's not even counting the spinning fiber. So, I'm swatching and trying to get on the ball with a few projects.

That's farmers' market wool for a baby sweater and a felted bag, organic cotton and Fleece Artist flaxen for the camisoles, unbleached linen for a grocery bag, and Shine for a little tank top. I don't know what your swatches tend to look (tell me! I'd be curious), but mine usually turn into these long, strange rectangles because I'm trying out so many stitch patterns. I start with garter stitch and some stockinette and then move through cables, lace, seed stitch, ribbing, etc. Some of the swatches in the picture above are a foot long!

From those swatches, I've got three projects on the needles. And I should have some FO's to show off soon enough ....

Friday, July 11, 2008

Roadtrip Part 3: Vermont!

How I love Vermont - its forested hills, clear lakes, cattails, pale blue skies, and, above all, its wild and enveloping GREENNESS!!

I had a fantastic drive through thunderstorms to get here last week, with a few yarn detours. In Connecticut, I visited Tranquil Morning Farm for silky kid mohair and maroon alpaca for spinning. In Massachusetts, I stopped at Webs, where I found Blue Sky Alpacas sportweight and a cone of Louet unbleached linen -- green yarns at excellent prices. (I also met Cirilia, who was gracious and good-natured about having a stranger say "I know you from your blog!")

I ran out of time to stop at the Green Mountain Spinnery in southern Vermont. But the next day, I found myself some lovely, minimally processed and naturally colored wool yarn at a farmers' market. So, now I'm happily settled into my family's cottage for the summer with plenty of yarn to keep me busy. Isis is pretty blissed out, too.

In other knitting news, the end of our cross-country adventure brought the finishing of Mountain Man's socks. Here are the details: 2.5 mm needles, Colinette Jitterbug yarn, figure-8 cast on at the toe, garter rib stitch, short row heels. Simple but with a subtle texture.

I'm pretty happy with how they turned out -- and Mountain Man says he loves them -- but I was displeased by the yarn. After the glory that was Fleece Artist Sea Wool, the Jitterbug felt like icky string to knit with. I will say that it makes a nice, hard-wearing fabric once knit up. But here's the real kicker: one skein of Jitterbug is not enough for a pair of mens' socks.

I planned to get a skein of plain sock yarn to finish the socks with a ribbed cuff, but Mountain Man says he likes them as is. So that was the end of that. And it's probably time to wrap up this post, too! I'll leave you with a photo of a painted turtle that I caught at the end of the lake, among the cattails and waterlilies. Everything about this place is so beautiful!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Roadtrip Part 2: Back East

From Taos, we drove north through stormy weather into the eastern edge of the Colorado Rockies

We took a deep breath of mountain air and then headed east across Kansas, with its straight roads

and even straighter horizons. If it weren't for my knitting and NPR podcasts, I might have gone mad.

Every now and then, we'd see a billboard for yarn stores. I'd never been anywhere where yarn was so important that it'd be advertised so broadly (note: most of the other billboards in Kansas were either fire-and-brimstone religious messages or ads for adult stores, though, so I can't say that all their signals were right).

Then it was on through Missouri. The weather gave the landscape a beautiful, soft, painterly feel

when we could see through the rain, that is! The midwestern storms were so nervewracking that I couldn't even concentrate on my knitting!

Anyways, from there we went on through hilly West Virginia and Kentucky. Isis was all smiles to find sunny weather and a lake to swim in

And I was happy to see the rolling, green, pastoral Appalachians.

We finally started taking it easy when we got to Washington, DC, where we took a few days to rest up and visit family. My sister brought us to a lovely outdoor jazz concert in the National Gallery's sculpture garden. Perfect knitting time. Here's Mountain Man showing off his new sock, while I work on the second one. Imagine jazz floating through and enlivening everything up!

We took a few tourist photos as we walked around the capital, but I think they were much improved by a sock monster. Raaawwwwrrrr

And then we got our manners back together and headed up to Connecticut. Here's the rose garden in Elizabeth Park, just down the street from where I grew up in Hartford. It's lovely to be back!

Next up: it's on to Vermont, and I'll have photos of the finished socks. Still a few inches yet to go ....