October 05, 2010

Rip-it, Rip-it, Rip-it

I decided I didn't like Attempt #2 of the Bobble Brimmed Hat after all. I ripped the whole thing out and started all over again. I am well into Attempt #3 and will post photos soon!

September 30, 2010

Conquering the Bobble Brim Hat

I saw a photo of a bobble-brimmed hat that I really liked. I liked it so much that I cut it out and put it in my inspiration book. I've been trying the past week or so to re-create this hat, but so far I haven't found just the right formula.

First attempt:
 I cast on 90 stitches in a multi-colored Noro Silk Garden yarn and used moss stitch for the brim with a large bobble receipe.

The finished hat.

I'm not so wild about it. I think the bobbles are too big and too far apart and I'm not so hot on this Noro colorway either. I bought a whole bunch of it on sale and now I can kind of tell why it was reduced. I tried knitting a sweater with it and didn't like it then, and although I think it looks okay used on this hat, I'm not liking it too much now.

But having said that, someone out there might LOVE it. 

Second Attempt:

Cast on 85 stitches (using same size needles as the last hat was just a tad too big) with this gorgeous yarn I picked up in Wellington, New Zealand called Vero. 100% wool and super soft and fluffy but knits up beautifully.

Used all purling for the brim with a medium bobble recipe and spaced closer together. I like this much better, but the brim is rolling inward (as it does when you have straight stockinette on the edge of something). It looks fine when it's on a head though. I will block it and see what happens. But I'm liking this result much better. And love this yarn. I might bring back the moss stitch brim for the 3rd try...or maybe something else...

I washed all the cotton fabrics I bought when I was in Vanuatu and they look so pretty hanging on the line! So colorful and festive. I love them!

September 17, 2010

Scary Scary Markers

My Copic markers...
My colorful soldiers of creativity...
So expensive, so beautiful, the penultimate marker. Sitting there in their little box, waiting for me. And waiting...and waiting.

What is the problem?

It is not a lack of love for these markers. Noooo. I am obsessed with them. I line them up in perfect color order: the first letter is the color family, the first number is the purity of the hue; zero being the most pure, and the last number is the saturation of the color with 9 being the darkest.

I just bought 12 more of the palest colors available. See 'BG0000' in photo above...'Snow Green.' They are amazing for using as a base color for layering, and for skin tones and for SNOWFLAKES...which is what I am thinking I want to create.

I gaze at them, I keep them near me. It's such a good feeling having them.

But for some reason, at the moment, I am totally intimidated to use them. I mean, come on! They're markers! Markers = Fun. It's color, it's coloring. What could be more fun than coloring?

What is happening here is a good case of artist's block. I have these ideas see, and I guess I'm afraid that I won't be able to achieve these ideas or that it'll look lame and I'll muck it up. Or I won't create the perfect snowflake right off the bat. I love the IDEA of being a marker artist and making marker art. It's SO COOL! I just don't do it very often.

And honestly, it's kind of silly I'm feeling this way. After all, here is some of the marker art I've already done. All drawn freehand, then colored.

And, the little purple punk penguin that is my avatar for this blog and for Facebook. I did that too. I think what I have done so far is perfectly beautiful.

I think I just needed to talk this out. All I need to do is sit down with paper and my little soldiers, reach over and pull one out, take off the cap, and put it down on the paper. Sounds easy right?

We'll see how long it takes me, how many times I can find something else to do to put off my marker project, until I actually do it.

Be brave Christine!

ps. My felted slippers drying. They are not totally evenly matched, although they fit fine. I think this is an issue when I sewed them up. I will have to be a little more careful about that step. But I reckon when I sew on the toe flaps and the button, they will be great.

September 16, 2010

CHC to AKL to LAX to PHX and Back Again

If you have trouble keeping up with my global itinerary, you are not alone. Even I am having trouble keeping track of myself!

I just returned to New Zealand after five weeks in Apache Junction, Arizona...smack in the middle of summer. My Gramma had a hip replacement and I went there to help her through it. 'Weren't you just in Arizona...like, a month ago?' you ask. Yes, I was and I had to turn right back 'round and go back out there. But nothing could stop me really...my Gramma was in trouble and I needed to be there for her.

While I was gone I missed the big Christchurch earthquake that rocked our little town to the tune of 7.1 on the Richter Scale. Luckily our house survived without so much as a crack, but Antz was without water for 3 days.

During my month in the Valley of the Sun, I developed a serious addiction to air conditioning and Jamba Juice smoothies while obsessively hunting for the ever-elusive shady parking spot. Of course the interior of my rental car was dark grey.

One thing I love about Arizona is that a lot of the eateries have outdoor patios with overhead misters that put out a fine, cooling mist that gently floats down to cool you on even the hottest days. Wonderful!

Admiring the unique southwest architecture.

To keep sane during some pretty hellacious days in which my Gramma was in so much pain that the maximum doses of morphine still didn't quite do the trick, I knitted for hours, often in a dark hospital room.

I knitted the other sleeve to the Ariosa sweater.

I knitted a hat of my own design.

This was made with Noro Kureyon and another coordinating Peruvian Highland Wool. In retrospect, I ought to have chosen more contrasting colors, but I kind of like the subtle design and texture. Due to the scratchy-ness of the wool, I will have to line this hat with something.
I knit another pair of French Press slippers with Cascade 220 in 'Thunder.'

They look a bit Franken-slipper at the moment, but they still need to be felted in the washing machine which will shrinky-dink them down to a perfect pair. Just you wait and see!

Only home a couple of days and I've already lined the hat.

I cut up an old sweatshirt that I wasn't wearing anymore and used it to line the hat. You can see I sewed in a tiny green 'tag' on the seam that lets me know at a glance where the back of the hat is.

I was going to use windblock fleece, but from experience a Fair Isle hat that has two yarns running along the inside plus a layer of windblock fleece is just a smidge too warm for the summer season in Antarctica (oh by the way, did I mention that I am keeping this hat for myself?). So I thought if I lined it with this cotton sweatshirt material, it would still be warm, but not quite as warm as with the fleece...and it would breathe. The cotton material is really comfortable to wear too. Usually cotton is not recommended for cold weather gear, but the thick layer of wool on the outside should be sufficient for insulation, even if I am working outside. There's nothing worse than a sweaty head down on the ice. Or frozen ears. We shall see if I am right.

Spring has sprung in New Zealand and my favorite flowering tree, the Magnolias are in the middle of their very short but exquisite blooming season.

August 03, 2010

Uh oh

Knitted one sleeve. Looked a bit strange for some reason. Figured out that it is 3 inches not wide enough. I followed the pattern; I even did a swatch at the very beginning to make sure. I am not liking this pattern so much at the moment...it's been funky from the beginning. So I have to pull out the whole sleeve (or maybe I'll just be really naughty and start a new one without unraveling) and figure out how to make it the right size myself. I have put it aside for now...just don't have the patience tonight.

August 01, 2010

I hope it's big enough!

Today, August 1st, is our seventh wedding anniversary, and the decade anniversary of our being a couple. Anthony and I got together as a couple on August 1, 2000; then were married three years later on the same day. It sure makes it easy to remember!

So it was our anniversary *and* Sunday so we decided to relax and stay in today so I spent the majority of today knitting on the sweater and so I've made great progress.

I have finished both fronts and the back and pinned it loosely together to get an idea of fit.

It is longer than I thought it would be (even after adding two inches) but I'm actually okay with the length. I think part of that is the yarn; it has a bit of give.  It just means it will be a nice laying cardi for cold days. I am a little concerned about the width of the front pieces, but I haven't added on the collar/front edging yet which looks to be at least 4 inches on both sides, so it will probably be just fine.

I *love* the color and the pattern and so I'm off to knit the cap sleeves now.

If I knitted the fronts a little wider and just added a simple border to the neck/front/armholes, it would be a nice vest cardigan just as it is. But I'll proceed with the pattern as written, except for having to compensate on the collar/front edging for the longer length.

It looks like I may have a few balls of this yarn left over. I could make a belt from the same yarn using linen stitch, which creates a nice, thick, dense sort of knitting. I'll have to see if it needs a belt after it's all done.

Or, a hat to match!

July 28, 2010

Ariosa Cardi

I have had a hard time thinking about anything else for the past couple of days but the new sweater I am making. I love the pattern and the sleeves; it will be a nice layering piece. It's still full-on winter here in New Zealand so knitting warm things is definitely an attraction.

It is the 'Ariosa Wrap Cardi' shown here in black, a free pattern from Classic Elite Yarns.

I have substituted Vera Moda 'Mousse' yarn which is a single ply yarn made from 70% wool and 30% soya. It is very soft and has a nice sheen. The color is 'number 34' but I would describe this color as 'clay.' It is a nice brownish-grey color...one of my favorite neutrals.

Here is the first front in progress...

Of course I can't just make a pattern exactly the way it is written, so for this pattern there was a couple of things I wanted to change. First, I increased the length by a couple of inches. I want to make sure there is enough sweater there to cover all the 'hills and dales' and still hang to a nice length around my hipbone.

Secondly, I don't really like the belt on this cardi...and if you notice there is a ribbed section that interrupts the pattern in the middle that the belt lays on. I got rid of that and just knit the whole thing in the 'ribbed lace' pattern.

I love this ribbed lace pattern. It has a nice texture and looks very sharp I think. Here it is from the front...

...and with the light shining through...

I have entertained the thought of putting a small ribbed section in the middle of the back to slightly pull the sides of the back in, giving it a slightly fitted shape. I will have to figure that one out. I think once I get some of the pieces knitted, the cardi will kind of let me know what it wants to be.

One thing I have to say is that I had a little trouble reading this pattern. The good news is I am now an experienced enough knitter, that despite not 'getting' some of the pattern, I am still able to knit this sweater. Great feeling.

As of my writing this, I have finished both fronts and working on the back. It sure is nice knitting with the bigger needles and yarn...the project is going so quickly.

July 25, 2010

Six-Week Socks

I've just returned from a 6-week trip to the States, visiting family in California, then taking a trip with my husband up to Alaska, ending up in Vancouver, flying back to Orange County California, then finally a week-long side trip to Arizona to visit more family.

What a whirlwind! I took enough yarn for two projects, but with all that was going on, I quickly realized I'd be lucky to complete the pair of socks that I began just before leaving New Zealand for the trip.

The socks went everywhere I did and I found bits of time here and there to work on them.

Here is the first sock near Denali Park, Alaska.

Anthony took the time to take some time-lapse photos along the way. Here he is waiting for Anchorage's famous 'bore tide' to come along the inlet called 'Turnagain Arm.'

We drove all the way to the end of the Kenai Peninsula to a town called Homer. I hadn't yet had a yarn fix and was jonesin' for sure. A local man told me about the 'Yarn Yurt' and we hurriedly made our way to the location.

To my horror, the Yarn Yurt was closed on Tuesdays and Thursdays and we were in Homer for one day...you guessed it...a Thursday. It was painful.

After a week of driving around seeing the sights, we hopped aboard a cruise ship to take us from Seward, Alaska down to Vancouver, BC.

In between eating, which is a 24/7 endeavor on cruise ships, I found some time to knit.

Starting the second sock...

Lovely view of (first) sock and Alaska's gorgeous coastline.

I was finally rewarded with a yarn fix in Ketchikan at Mission Street Arts & Fibers. I was looking for some unique yarn, preferably something made locally and I found this...

This hand-dyed colorway from Raven Frog Fiber Arts in Sitka, Alaska is called 'Tapestry.' The colors are inspired by the climate of southeast Alaska and the Russian influence there. Apparently to keep houses warm in the winter, the Russian immigrants would hang heavy tapestries on the walls to insulate them.

There is an additional skein laying on top of it that is in the same colorway but is a fancy yarn. I have no idea what I will make with it, but the colors are intoxicating. I have 550 yards of the main skein...maybe enough for a vest, or perhaps a hat/scarf combo?

On a side note, Anthony and I were dumbfounded at the number of penguin souvenirs in Alaska. It is shocking how many people think penguins live in Alaska (when in fact, they don't...they live in Antarctica and a few other places, but definitely NOT Alaska). This kind of marketing, especially to kids, just perpetuates the myth and frankly, annoys me.

I continued working on the socks when we were in Vancouver for five days, and then when we returned to California. We then rented another car and drove to Arizona to visit my Grammie. The socks were getting so close to completion.  Working on socks in 110-degree temps is an act of sheer dedication.

Here they are hanging out on a fence off the Apache Trail near the Superstition Mountains in Arizona.

While in Arizona we happened to find ourselves in downtown Mesa. The place looked so familiar for some reason. Then I realized with my 7th knitterly sense that I had been down this way before...TO A YARN STORE! And sure enough, moments later I spotted the giant pink chair which heralds the spot of a great little yarn store, 'Fiber Factory,' that I had visited on my last trip.

My husband Anthony has the patience of a saint, as I parked and left him in the car with the engine and air-conditioning running and told him, '15 minutes.' Of course I could have spent longer, but one has to be reasonable, especially when people are waiting. So I perused the yarn store for something special and found these lovelies...

Ah, I just want to lick them, they look so good. This is Mirasol Yarns 'K'Acha' from from Peru. It is a kettle-dyed single ply of 60% fine merino, 25% Suri alpaca and 15% silk. A portion of each purchase is dedicated to the funding of a school in a remote area of Peru. So I can feel even better about buying this yarn.

The brown ball is so unusual in that it looks almost purple in some lights.

Well that's me all caught up to present. We are back in our house in Christchurch, New Zealand and I have already started a new project, a vest sweater with cap sleeves in a bulky 'clay' colored yarn. I'll post about that next time.

Oh, and by the way, I finished the socks the night before flying back to New Zealand. I wore them on the plane. Yay!

June 09, 2010

The Hat...Personified

The Penguin Hat finally found it's way to the head it was meant to sit on. This co-worker of my mother's is bound for Antarctica in a few months and this hat will ensure her head stays warm -- with style. She really loved it ad I think it suits her perfectly.

Another view...
In Other News...

The 'Little Blue' parka was again modeled by wee cutie Isaac. He seems really thrilled to be helping us out with the photos. What a great little baby!

Really goes well with those gorgeous peepers of his.

His brother Dominic seemed to be enjoying himself as well...

Now I've traveled 7,000 miles across the Pacific and am enjoying some time in Southern California with my family. I'm knitting a sock -- with teeny tiny yarn -- in an interesting color/pattern mix. Photos coming.

May 27, 2010

Little Blue

Another productive day in the Powell Knitting Factory. I just finished another baby sweater. I knit this one basically to test a pattern I have created...just making sure the other sizes in the pattern work as they should.  I also reworked the faux fur around the hood as the last time I knit this, there was too much fur in the baby's face, and anything a baby feels tickling its face, it will try and eat. Not always good!

Today was cold, rainy, and windy. About 42 degrees during the day and we had a few bouts of hail too. The sun peeked out for all of about 5 seconds once today which was a good reminder that it's still out there. This huge storm has latched on to New Zealand for the last 3 or 4 days. But all indications are it's on its way out.

Rainy day by the Avon River

Wet autumn leaves

So, a good day to catch up on knitting projects. I put the buttons on the above sweater. Lining them up...

Marking the placement...

I tried a couple of different ways of making loops, including i-cord and crocheted, but finally came up with an idea I got from 'The Knitter's Handbook' by Montse Stanley. There weren't instructions per se, just one illustration of what it was supposed to look like and a bit of text. But I finally figured it out and I'm happy with the results. It's hard to describe but basically you use something called a 'buttonhole' stitch -- which essentially is blanket stitch without the spaces inbetween --  wrapping around a couple of loops of yarn that formed the base of the loop.

Here's what the finished loop looks like:

Very nice looking in my humble opinion.

May 26, 2010

Commission Completed

I put the final touches on my commission hat tonight and it took some time to decide what colors to use in the tassle. In the end, simple red won out...everything else seemed to fight with the pattern of the hat. It's lined with windblock fleece, so it's very warm. The recipient of this hat will get to travel to Antarctica in style and warmth, with a one-of-a-kind hat.

Here's the hat...well...flat.

I get the added bonus of getting to hand off my creation to its new owner and see how it looks on her noggin. I've heard that these colors will work very well on her.

In unrelated news, we are being pelted with a big storm causing wide-spread flooding around New Zealand. At high tide, our street is almost completely flooded, but it recedes when the tide goes out. I feel sorry for all the poor farmers down south trying to keep their livestock out of harms way. Hopefully it will pass soon.