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!