Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Fair is fair

Well, after having blogged about my nephew's blanket and Raphael's blanket, my friend Nora asked: "Are you going to blog about H's blanket?"
Touché... So here it is!

Truthfully, H's blanket is probably the nicest one I've made. Or the most polished, I should say. That may be because I actually followed a pattern...
Nora didn't want any pastels for her boy-to-be, so I looked for bright colors. This pattern seemed just right.


Pattern: Navajo Throw, from Candy Blankies by Candi Jensen
Yarn: Tahki Cotton Classic, multiple colors. I used the colors suggested in the pattern, except for "lavendar" and "wine" because they weren't available at my LYS when I bought the yarn. I picked the closest I could find.
Purchased at: Weaving Works
Started: August 2006
Finished: May 2007

Now, following a pattern didn't come without a few adventures. Nora's baby shower was planned for late October 2006, and I was determined to be done with the baby blanket in time. I was going to a conference the week before and was more than halfway done. When I got back, I only had about 10 rows to go, and a border to crochet. In 5 days. No problem, right? Wrong.

Because I worked on it on planes and in conference halls, I had the blanket on my lap most of the time and didn't really spread it out. When I got home, I realized that the blanket had gotten narrower and narrower, to the point where my working row was about 2/3 the width of the first few rows. I think I missed a stitch every time I changed colors. I didn't have time to deal with it before the baby shower, so I let it sit (fortunately, I had other gifts planned for the shower). I tried to "fill out" the missing stitches by crocheting additional stitches on each side, but that definitely looked bad, really bad... So, after a few months of denial (hoping the problem would fix itself) I finally sucked it up and frogged the blanket back to the first 3-4 rows. And started all over again.

When it was done, I washed it and blocked it. It blocked really nicely, all soft and drapy. I finally gave it to Nora (or rather to H) just in time for Mother's Day. I think it (secretly) is my favorite of all the baby blankets I made...

H seems to like it...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Here it is!

Yarn from the Yarn Harlot!

In case you didn't know, I won a skein of sock yarn for identifying the "most iconic Canadian song" on her blog. (it was the theme to Hockey Night in Canada)

I received the package today. It contained a nice card, a small chocolate bar (robust dark chocolate, yum!), and a skein of All Things Heather sock yarn in Royal.

It's a very pretty color. Now I just need to find the perfect pattern for this special yarn... Thanks again, Stephanie!

On a separate note, I just finished the Clapotis. More on that another time...

p.s. I didn't win any yarn at the Louet trunk show at Village Yarn and Tea Shop. Guess good things don't come in threes...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

They just don't understand...

Yesterday, Happy Hour with other graduate students:
Friend - "We were thinking of going out for dinner on Friday. Do you want to come?"
Me - "Sure, that sounds like fun... Oh! No, wait! I already have plans on Friday!"
Friend - "Really? what plans?"
Me - "I'm going to a yarn store..."
Friend - (interrupting) "A yarn store!?!" (look of puzzlement and amusement on my friend's face, as well as everyone else at the table) "You can't come to dinner because you're going to a yarn store? On a Friday night?"
Me - "Yes, they're having a trunk show. And I've never been to that yarn store..."

Ah, Muggles... they just don't understand. In the end, the dinner plans are not until 8-9pm and the trunk show is at 6pm, so I can probably do both and not have to explain further why I just can't cancel the "yarn store thing"... (I even RSVP'd! How am I going to win a door prize if I don't go? You know, good things come in threes and all that...)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

By popular request...

OK, not really. One person commented on Ravelry about this baby blanket I made last year for a friend's baby, and she asked if I had more pictures of it. Since uploading all my stash into Ravelry has gotten me pretty close to my monthly Flickr upload quota, I figured I'd post about it here.

This blanket is the first thing I crocheted. Ever. And once I finished it I was convinced I would never knit anything again: I was a crochet convert. I proceeded to crochet gifts for everyone I knew, mostly an insane amount of scarves (and at least one other baby blanket). Since then, I've realized that some things are not well suited to crochet (like socks or mittens), and I go back and forth depending on the project at hand.

A friend of mine tried to teach me how to crochet in the spring of 2005. She's left-handed, I'm right handed. I didn't get it. I went home and I tried to chain and couldn't get the hang of it. Over the following summer, my mother showed me again. Although she hadn't done it in years, my mother is an experienced crocheter. Not counting all the outfits she made for me as a child, she crocheted two (yes, two!) bedspreads, a twin-sized fake granny square for me and a king-sized bedspread for my parents' bed. She managed to slow down her movements enough that I finally got it. And I was hooked! (ha! pun intended...)

My friend had just told me she was pregnant. I had just finished a (knitted) baby blanket for another friend of mine, and I was looking for a new project. The timing couldn't be better. We went to "A La Tricoteuse" in Montreal and she chose a color palette in their range of superwash yarns. She also pointed to a few square patterns in Jan Eaton's 200 crochet blocks.

I took the colors and the pattern book, and came up with a plan. 24 squares for the outside border, with alternating red-navy and navy-red for the inner and outer stripes around blue, green, or yellow middle stripes. 4 nine-patch granny squares in the center (with alternating colors for the flowers) and 4 for the four corners of the inner section. 16 granny stripe squares for the rest of the inner section, alternating red and navy for the inner and outer stripes, and yellow, blue and green for the middle stripes. And I pretty much stuck to the original plan.

Pattern: Jan Eaton's 200 Crochet blocks for blankets, throws, and afghans.
Squares #61 Nine Patch Granny (8), 76 Granny Stripes (16*), and 149 Solid Square (24).
Yarn: Superwash DK by Emu in red, yellow, navy, royal blue, and bright green.
Started: August 2005
Finished: September 2006 (I pretty much set it aside from January to June 2006, so it could have been done much faster).
* My original plan was to make 16 of those. Because some of them would be side by side and this block was crocheted from side to side, I decided to make "strips" instead of blocks. I chained double (or quadruple) the number of chains in the pattern, and went from there.

When I finished this blanket, I hadn't discovered the wonders of blocking and the strips didn't line up perfectly with the other squares. I had to crochet small "joining sections" (in yellow) between the nine-patch-granny squares and the 2-square sized strips at either end of the blanket. And then I sewed the whole thing together. I had a bazillion ends to weave in. Just weaving in the ends took me several hours.

I'm really proud of the final result, and I think my friend likes it too. Last time I visited, it was on the rocking chair in her son's bedroom .

p.s. No yarn yet from the Yarn Harlot. I'm guessing it'll take another week, with the border and everything...

Monday, October 8, 2007

Should I be reading the signs?

I just won more yarn! Well, there goes the yarn fast again... Could it be that the gods of knitting are trying to tell me I actually do need more yarn? I'd be happy to oblige...

The Yarn Harlot herself is going to send me yarn for having correctly identified that most iconic of Canadian songs, the theme to "Hockey Night in Canada".

Actually, I was pretty sure what the song would be even before I clicked on the video. Having grown up in Montreal with a serious hockey fan as a brother, it would have been a disgrace if I hadn't recognized it... On this Canadian Thanksgiving day, I'd like to publicly thank my brother for all the hockey-watching he submitted me to over the years... It finally paid off! ;)

If you got here through the link on the Yarn Harlot's blog, welcome to my blog! It's fairly new, and I hope you like it! But be warned: there will be crochet! Actually, I worked on 2 squares of the Rainbow blanket during Stephanie's visit to Third Place Books in Seattle. Crochet with a little Yarn Harlot mojo... The blanket is now with my nephew in Montreal, and I hope all this visual stimulation will have positive effects!

p.s. In the interest of full disclosure, I let Stephanie know that I'm Canadian (even though I live in the U.S.) I don't know if that will affect her "double points" system.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Falling off the wagon...

I recently decided to go on a "yarn fast". I knew I had a lot of yarn, probably enough to keep me busy for a whole year. In fact, surely enough to keep me busy for a couple of years... The need for a yarn fast was reiterated when I started uploading pictures of the stash on Ravelry. Yes, I finally got in Ravelry two weeks ago!

So, I knew when I decided to go on the yarn fast that there would be moments when the risk of yielding to temptation would be very strong, and even too strong to resist. Today was such a day. Hilltop Yarn in Queen Anne was having a trunkshow of Fleece Artist and Handmaiden Fine Yarn. Both wonderful yarn lines, with beautiful colorways. I already have a bunch of Fleece Artist sock yarn in the stash, and a couple of skeins of Blue Face Leicester 2/8. Their colorways really are wonderful. And it's made in Canada. I knew I wouldn't be able to resist... So, my plan was to allow myself to buy only one skein of yarn. I told Emily of my plan ahead of time and she said she would make sure I'd stick to the plan. Well, things did not go quite according to plan...

We got there at the same time as the two women from Fleece Artist and Handmaiden, a mother and daugher. It took a few minutes for the yarn to be set up, and lots of customers came in. Everyone was swarming around the yarn, petting it, picking it up. At first things went well. I picked up one skein of Woolie Silk 3-ply, a kit for a hat. I was heming and hawing, and finally gave it up to another customer and felt really good that I was going to leave without buying ANY yarn. Emily was getting the same kit, so I could always borrow the pattern from her and use some yarn in the stash to make the same hat. Well, the lady decided that the colorway didn't suit her skin tone and handed me back the skein. What was I to do? It was just one skein, and I was still sticking to the plan... I bought it. And the holiday issue of Interweave Knits. I'm on a yarn fast, not a pattern fast...

There was a little quiz to fill out and prizes to be won. We had to match 5 undyed skeins of yarn with their fiber content, just by touching them. They were made of silk (Silken), silk and cotton (Swiss Mountain Silk Cotton), silk and wool (Lady Godiva?), silk and seacell (Sea Silk), and silk, wool and seacell (Great Big Sea). While we were waiting for the answers, Emily, Rachel, and I started looking at other kits. Emily tried on the sample Lu and Imogen. I had noticed one of the Lu kits earlier, because the colorway was really nice, mostly reds with some blue and a little green and yellow. It's made out of Scotian Silk. So I tried on the sample Lu too. And that's when things started going wrong... It looked nice on me, and the colorway sold me over.

I was going to stand in line to pay when they announced the winners of the contest. I had gotten all the answers right! I won 2 skeins of Handmaiden Cashmere and Silk! It's a new Handmaiden yarn line. Well, I'm not exactly sure what this prize was worth, but it's cashmere and silk so it's a really wonderful prize! So soft... I must admit that as she was handing me my prize, she had two different colorways in her hands and was about to hand me 2 skeins of a dark green colorway, definitely not my usual color palette... I asked her if I could have the other one... Some may think it was bold of me, but I won (and the others skeins were for the runner-up, so I think it was ok for me to get first choice... don't you?)

From what I can gather from the website, I think the colorway is "Peridot". (Fleece Artist and Handmaiden never marked the colorways on the skeins). I've been meaning to knit a lace scarf or stole in pale grey for a while but could never find the right color. This one has a little bit of pale green in it, I think it will be perfect. I just need to find the perfect pattern... any suggestions?

Now that the Handmaiden/Fleece Artist ladies had given me this heavenly soft yarn, I really had to buy the Lu kit to make up for their generosity... didn't I?
So I left the store with 4 skeins of yarn instead of one. But somehow I don't think it's really my fault. I can't help the fact that I won two of them! Maybe it's Emily's fault for not stopping me? Well, it's not like I stopped her either...