slightly unravelled

Sunday, January 29, 2006

What I learned this week

1. Knitting on the subway? Use short needles.
Apparently people don't like to be poked with knitting needles. I'd suspected so, but now it's been confirmed.

2. Knitting and drinking? Choose an easy project.
Okay, this one I knew. I had two projects with me, anticipating that I may reach a point where it would be a good idea to switch from the concentration-intense project to the easy project. The problem is that I didn't recognize the switch-over point and kept going on the complicated project for a bit too long, resulting in my having to take out a few rows.
And lest you think I'm so easily done in by a few drinks, I think it was really the combination of trying to eat, drink, converse, follow a movie, and knit something that required me to read the pattern at the start of every new row.

3a. Drops is now offering a lot of their patterns free!
Many of them in English. This is exciting because I have one really cool sweater that mom knit for me from one of their patterns. We had to look around for awhile before we could find that pattern, but now its free, along with many others, here. (Mom told me about this)

3b. A lot of them are really ugly.
There are definitely some good ones, but it's going to take me quite awhile to sift through all of those to find something that I like and is appropriate for my skill level.

4. Sometimes there is actually a reason to go into ridiculously expensive stores: to steal their ideas.
I decided yesterday to stop in at this little store in my neighborhood, "Brooklyn Handknit." Well, first I'll mention that probably less than half of their stuff is actually knit. And of that, I think an even smaller percentage is actually hand knit. But, I was poking around, gawking at the prices and fondling their fancy cashmere when I happened upon this very cute and practical idea. They took a wrap and added a wooden handle at one end to stick the other end through so that it actually stays around you. Kind of like a giant belt. I managed to snap a picture while the sales person was distracted by someone purchasing an $80 stocking cap.

The price tag on that? $210.

I think this is a great idea. I've been thinking a lot about this knitty pattern called Clapotis, and this wooden ring might work on it. Or, it may be better to save the wooden ring for a plain solid rectangle like they did. Either way, I think there's at least one more wrap in my future wardrobe.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Bonus Project

I bought these beads quite awhile ago, and finally decided to put them together into this necklace. Of course, by now I've completely forgotten what the design was that I had in mind when I bought the beads, so I had to come up with another one.

I actually put it together a few days ago and then wore it for a day. I had originally put one of the little purple beads at the intersection point because I wanted it to be subtle. But that didn't work very well to allow all the strands to meet, so there was some extra space with exposed wire that I couldn't get rid of. So today I took some of it apart and re-strung it with the big bead at the intersection....not sure yet how I feel about it. I think it makes it a little more "busy" than I wanted, but it's still nice.

The necklace has two of my favorite characteristics (lavender and asymmetric).

If you click on the picture you get a frighteningly close-up enlarged view of my neck...

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Panta Complete

I think it actually turned out pretty cute. I didn't have any real problems with the knitting. And I've been wearing it outside, and it seems to work pretty well at keeping my ears warm.

I am a little worried that it makes me look even younger than I already do. I wore it to a liquor store last night. Upon showing my ID to the man behind the counter, he laughed. Heartily. He said, while laughing, "you were born in 78?" I said yes, and he just kept laughing, but sold me a bottle of vodka regardless.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

In the queue...

Here's a summary of what I'm working on and thinking about:

-Recycled sari silk hobo bag: I've finished a second piece. Making the same piece again is a little boring, so I've got to break it up by working on other things at the same time.

-Secret project: I started a secret project last weekend. It seems to be going okay so far; I'm using a row counter to keep track of where I am in the pattern. I won't show you the pattern yet, but I can whet your appetites by showing you the yarn. I'm using Cascade 220 in this awesome pink tweed.

-Panta: I'm making a panta, which is a wide headband that's kind of a cross between a headband and a hat. Someone posted pictures of hers on this craftster thread. It looks great on her, so someone else translated the pattern from Portuguese, and lots of people have been knitting it. There's a knit-along at this site. From looking at the pictures, it seems to look different on everyone; I'm a bit worried that I may not have a great head/face shape to pull off the panta, but I guess I'll find out. If it doesn't work on my head, I can try it as an armband or some sort of weird hanging decoration...
I've actually started the panta a few times and ripped it out. Someone suggested doing a slip-stitch edge to prevent it from curling. I read everything I could find about the technique, but I don't think I quite understood it. I tried it a few times on my panta, but it looked wrong, so I decided to do without that edge.
So then I thought I would try this other technique I read for ribbing. I've noticed that with my ribbing, the knits before the purls look funny (too loose). I read that a lot of people have this problem, due to the fact that most people knit more tightly than they purl. The proposed solution is to wrap the yarn around clockwise on the purls, then to always knit through the back. I tried this for a few rows, but I don't think it helped my ribbing (and it might have looked weird), so I ripped it out and started again just doing everything normal.
I know, it seems like I'm making too many weird little winter accessories that I don't need. The thing is that I think my stitches still look kind of uneven, and I need the practice. So I'm making these things to get my technique better before I move on to more interesting bigger projects.
The yarn for my panta is this green Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk DK. It's really soft.

-Banana silk yarn belt: I want to play with this yarn, so I think I'll try to make a belt....a narrow belt, I think, since there's not much yarn.

-Long(er) term goal: I want to make this tank top. But I don't want to make it until I feel more confident about my knitting, and until I think my stitches look better. It will be a challenge for me because it's done on circular needles and it requires some short-row shaping. I hope to be able to make it out of soy silk (made from waste created in tofu production !!!) or bamboo yarn.

-Another long-term goal: I really want to recycle yarn. I want to be able to buy sweaters at thrift stores, unravel them, and reuse the yarn. It's a little tricky, though, so I don't think I'm ready for it yet. Also, I'd like to over-dye some of them, so I really think I need to wait until I have more time to devote to this.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Hobo Chic?

I just finished these wrist warmers. And I started them yesterday. I had been wanting to make some, but most of the patterns require circular needles, which I haven't felt quite ready for yet. There are a few patterns floating around for 2-needle wrist warmers like these, but I didn't much like any of the patterns. Most of them are just rectangles with no shaping. I wanted mine to have more shape, and I thought they'd be sexier if they were longer than most that I've seen. So I sat down with a tape measurer, graph paper, and yarn and made up my own pattern! I'm happy with how they turned out, but they're a little loose, so if I had it to do again, I'd make some changes. Also, they're about an inch shorter than I wanted them to be, but I didn't have enough yarn to make them the length I had planned. Oh, the yarn is the best part. I used one skein of Noro Kureyon (yes, the same yarn that I used in the stupid hat), so that's why they're different colors. It wasn't a mistake -- I had planned it. It's my favorite thing about them. Really, I question the practicality of these things, but I don't care. They're so cool that I plan on wearing them all the time even if they don't serve much of a purpose....other than to keep my wrists from being chilly while my fingers freeze.

This is what they looked like before I seamed them.

I feel like a crafty rockstar...

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Almost One Quarter Finished with Recycled Sari Silk Bag

Here's one piece completed. The whole bag will be four of these pieces and a strap. And it's supposed to be that shape! This is not another one of my mistakes!

I don't have any big safety pins or stitch holders, so I had to fashion one out of a big paperclip.

The yarn is a little more eyelashy than I'd like, but I still think the bag will be great. Oh, and yeah, "eyelash" has an adjectival form. At least, it does if you're referring to yarn...I wouldn't try in many other contexts.

So far the only new technique for me in this pattern is knitting in the front and back of the same stitch. It's easy. I've found a few good web resources for looking up knitting techniques. One is knittinghelp. They offer a bunch of free videos to show various knitting techniques. I haven't even looked at any of the videos, though, because their pictures and descriptions are good, too. And they show everything in both continental style and English style, which is much better than some other websites that just show continental.

Also, knitty has some great articles with pictures for beginning knitters. And their forum (annoyingly called the "coffeeshop") has lots of useful tips for knitters, new and experienced. I even read there about how to felt at a laundromat.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Recycled Sari Silk Yarn

I've started knitting with the recycled sari silk yarn. Last night I wound one skein into a ball...and it took over an hour, due to some nasty tangles. This stuff is not easy to work with. The odor is not great, although not as bad as I've heard it is. The smell is mildly reminiscent of vomit, but it's not too bad...probably just enough so to keep my from trying to knit and eat at the same time. I'll probably wash the bag once its finished, but didn't want to wash the yarn first for fear that could cause more tangles.

Below is the little sample I knit today to test the gauge. It's in garter stitch, which I'd never used before. Really easy -- just keep knitting, no purling. At first I thought I preferred purling to knitting when I was doing the knitting wrong (see textured sweater below for the effect of my misguided method), but now that I'm knitting properly, it's much more fun than purling! Anyway, I think the garter stitch wouldn't be very pretty on a really smooth yarn, but for the sari silk yarn it seems great.

Hat: cute or dorky?

Here's the hat I made from this knitty pattern. I think the hat's pretty cute, and most (polite) people confirm this. I felt like I got some strange looks while wearing it, but that was mostly in the midwest. And one person told me "it's not that bad."

I don't know what the yarn was that I used. It was something from mom's huge yarn stash. It's soft, and I think the color is great.

My first sweater

I finshed the seaming on my sweater last night and wore it today. I think the best thing I can say about it is that it fits. And I like the colors. And it's soft. But the textured stitches are weird. It's kind of like the texture of a thermal shirt magnified. It rolls up a little at the bottom, but not too badly.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

My hat looks stupid

It's too short. No matter how much I tug it down, it won't cover my ears. And since it's ribbing all the way up, it's too puffy on top. I followed the directions (went 6 inches before decreasing). I was a little worried about it being too short, but there wasn't enough yarn in one skein to add some length. I'm going to have to find someone with a small head to give it to...

Warning: If you receive this pattern in the mail, DON'T make it, unless you want to look like a mushroom.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

My next project will be a hobo bag made out of recycled sari silk. I plan to use this pattern from knitty. Here's my recycled sari silk yarn. It's weird stuff, but the colors are pretty and I LOVE the idea that it's using up little scraps that wouldn't otherwise get used. I might make a belt out of it after the bag...I saw a cool one that someone had made posted somewhere at

My yarn came with a sample-pack of banana silk yarn. Of course I also LOVE the idea of yarn being made out of banana fibers. I haven't really played with it yet, but it seems a little weird, and after reading about these experiments with banana silk yarn, I doubt if I'll really be able to use banana silk in a project.

Currently I'm working on this ribbed hat. It takes one skein of noro kureyon. It was so hard to choose which skein that I may make another hat with another color if this one turns out well. The colors are so pretty, but I don't think the pictures really do them justice.
The pattern was free in the mail with some subscription offer from vogue knitting. It's knit on straight needles and will be seamed at the back (this is good as I haven't yet used circular needles). I'm not making the top knot you see on the pattern.

I was home over Christmas and enlisted my mother's help with my first knitting project. It's a hat from this knitty pattern. I don't yet have a picture of myself wearing it, but will get one and post it later. In-person reactions to it have so far been mixed.
The hat went surprisingly well, so I decided to start a sweater. I am using a pattern from the Spring 2005 Adrienne Vittadini pattern book. The pattern I'm using is this one. The yarn is an alpaca/wool mix. The sweater's almost done; I'm just finishing the seams. I used big needles and (accidentally) a technique that twists the stitches, making the appearance very textured. I think it would look much better if I hadn't done that, but I've learned now and am not knitting my next project that way.
Oh, but the knitting on the sweater only took a few days. I'm not sure exactly how many, but it was less than a week!
Once it's completely done, I'll post a picture of it on me.

Crochet project in progress:

I've been working on this one for awhile. Originally it was going to be the privacy wrap from crochetme (I can no longer find the pattern on their website). I don't think I'm going to do the solid ends, though, just lacy for the whole thing. Anyway, you can see the problems I'm having with it. It started out a lot wider than it is now. I had a lot of trouble keeping the rows even; I somehow kept losing stitches on the ends. I've got the width set now, but the first 18 inches or so look awful. And the width now is too narrow for a wrap, and I don't want it to just be a scarf. I'm trying to figure out what to do with it...I'm thinking about adding a section that's perpendicular to make it wider, or maybe trying to block it all to the same width, but I think that will end up looking funny.

It's made with the baby alpaca from knit picks. It's SO soft.

Here's a summary of the crochet projects I've completed:

My first (after a potholder that's neither photo-worthy nor very functional) is this belt. It's just done in single-crochet, and the yarn is a really soft Jaeger Baby Merino in a multi-tone green/brown that gave it that camo-effect. The belt's okay, but would work better if it were sewn to some sort of backing to make it less flimsy.

Next I made an ipod cozy. I was using a pattern from, but it's really just a rectangle that gets sewn up. I thought it would be great to use this fun yarn with metallic bits in it, but it kind of defeated the purpose of the cozy, as the screen's since gotten a little scratched up, I think from those metallic bits. It's made with some novelty yarn from Gedifra.

I liked that cozy so much that I made another for my camera. I used a cotton yarn that I found in a sale bin in a really nice huge yarn store in Seattle (huge compared to the tiny stores in NYC). It's hard to show as well in a picture since, obviously, I couldn't have my camera in it while I took the picture.

I've started this blog to have a chance to show and discuss projects I'm working on or completing. It's really so that I have a record of my creations all in one place, and I don't have to clog anyone's email by sending pictures.

My mom knits A LOT. Hopefully she'll start her own blog soon...she has much more interesting projects to show than I do.

My sister does some knitting, too, but sews more. Here's a link to her seldom-updated blog. Maybe the fact that I'm linking to it will inspire her to update it.