Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hat Trick

In a quirky life moment, this past winter Tom was approached by a guy in Iowa about a job. It was this close to happening; at the eleventh hour Tom's bosses here countered with an offer we couldn't refuse, though, and we ended up staying put. Tom did fly out to Waverly, Iowa, and interview however, and before he went I decided he needed a hat to keep him warm. So I knit him seven. You know, just in case.

The winner of the bunch turned out to be Alex Zorn's Hot Head from the first Stitch 'n' Bitch.

It fits Tom to a tee, and, knit out of humble Lamb's Pride Bulky, is a cheap, quick project. He liked the first - knit in the hot rod flame colors as the pattern suggests - so much that I made him a true blue second. (Rav project page here.)

Third up is Brenda Zuk's Seaman's Cap.

For it I used some Elsebeth Lavold Classic AL nabbed on sale from Webs. As alpaca does, it made a super soft, super warm hat which has seen lots of use on chilly mornings. (Rav project page here.)

Fourth up is Jen Showalter's Samaras Hat.

Knit with some of my fave yarn, Lotus Yarns Nirvana Worsted in Fascination Street (black with deep purple flecks). This basic hat sports a deep ribbed brim. (Rav project page here.)

Fifth up is Angelina Fagan's Pro Bono.

The yarn, Classic Elite Ariosa, is super delish, but grew too much after its bath, resulting in a hat a tad too big for even Tom's 24" noggin. (Who swatches for hats?) This one's a do-over on a smaller needle. (Rav project page here.)

Sixth up is Staceyjoy Elkin's Marsan Watchcap.

This one was tricky. First, the pattern runs way small. Way. After a couple of false starts I checked my gauge, was spot on, and went ahead with a 97-stitch cast on...ending up with a hat that barely fit my 20.5" head. Huh. Second, and I feel like a big baby saying so, the twisted ribbing hurt my hands. The pattern itself is simple, and has a cool spiral decrease crown, so I want to try it again - when I'm not feeling wimpy - on a larger needle with more stitches. (Rav project page here.)

Seventh and last is Whitney Van Nes's Whitney's 70's Ski Hat.

*Sigh.* I adjusted the numbers up for Tom's big head. Shouldn't have. Negative ease kicked my ass, resulting in a humongous failure.

See the cashmere lining?

This one's also a do-over someday...like when we get our ski chalet in the Alps. (Rav project page here.)

* * *

The finger is still fucked, still painful. I popped into the doc this morning for confirmation of this fact, and the tech who x-rayed me was some crazy drummer who riffed on how he kept breaking his digits on his snare drum. I kept my witty retorts to myself, and hope I never do something this stupid again. Next week physical therapy (probably) starts. Man, do you have any idea how much I wish I'd broken my middle finger instead?

On the turntable: Chris Isaak ~ Mr. Lucky

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Accidents Will Happen

If you're me, that means you'll slam the car door on your finger.

Doesn't look too bad, does it? Well, trust me when I say this is the G-rated photo, because under the band-aid things are ugly. The bone at the tippy top is fractured, the rest of the finger squished, and I'm out of knitting commission for at least a month. Boo.

The upside is that I'm bored out of my gourd already, which will hopefully mean catching up on blogging and project photo taking for Ravelry. I haven't been doing much of either because I was on a knitting tear the last couple of months. You know the rush, right? Gauge was spot on! Projects were working out! I was casting on and finishing with equal fervor! I was in the zone, and enjoying every minute.

A highlight of this productivity was Malabrigo March 2009 over at the Malabrigo Junkies Ravelry group. I joined in on the fun by participating in four KALs for Cherry Garcia, Dean Street Hat, Forest Canopy Shawl, and Just Enough Ruffles. In some fluke I finished all four projects in ten days, which must be a personal best for pokey me.

Pattern: Just Enough Ruffles (MM09 #1) - my Rav page here
Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted in Olive - 1.5 skeins
Needles: US 9 32" and 40" Knit Picks Options circs
Mods: None
Rating: ****

I knit this pattern to 1) practice short rows and 2) knit lengthwise, something I rarely do because usually I don't like how the cast-on edge looks. I'm happy with how it turned out, and see this as a go-to pattern whenever I need a quick gift.

Pattern: Dean (Winchester*) Hat (MM09 #2) - my Rav page here
Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted in Chestnut - 1 skein
Needles: US 6 and 7 16" circs
Size: Adult Small/96 stitches
Mods: None
Rating: *****

Love the mock cables, which look harder than they are. Hate the fact that I flubbed and added an extra knit row on one repeat...and didn't catch it until I'd bound off and taken this photo. Oh, well, I'll definitely be knitting this pattern again. Best part? This pattern includes two brim options (rolled and ribbed), three sizes (child, adult small, adult large) and two yarn options (worsted or bulky), making it very usable.

*In a total spazzy fangrrl moment, I knit in a colorway that matches Dean Winchester's t-shirt.

Pattern: Cherry Garcia (MM09 #3) - my Rav page here
Yarn: Malabrigo Chunky in Vaa - 1 skein
Needles: US 11 16" circs
Mods: Only two cables as I ran short of yarn
Rating: ***

This was the project where I conquered my loose ribbing/cabling. I practiced a tip I read on page 11 of Melissa Leapman's Continuous Cables to tighten up my last always wonky knit stitch before a purl stitch. (The tip is to wrap the first purl stitch the opposite way you normally do, twisting the stitch and tightening things up nicely. On the next row you untwist the stitch and repeat.) The tip worked like a charm, and my ribbing should be sexier from now on.

Pattern: Forest Canopy Shawl (MM09 #4) - my Rav page here
Yarn: Malabrigo Silky Merino in Blackberry - 2 skeins
Needles: US 8 29" Bryspun circs
Finished Dimensions: 53" x 22"
Mods: None
Rating: *****

Each year for the past four years I've knit my Mom a shawl. (Past years include Flower Basket, Gothic Leaf, and Hanami.) This year I presented her with Forest Canopy. It's my personal fave of my MM09 projects. The pattern is easily memorized, knits up quickly, and the yarn...well, this was my first time using Silky Merino, and I can't rave about the yarn enough. It's a delight to knit: the silk glows, the merino adds plumpness to the stitches, and it's just all over rustic and yummy. This one was a sheer delight from start to finish.