Monday, March 16, 2009

Excursions in Stash Busting

I'm really trying to knit only from my stash. It helps with the wallet and helps with the space issues in the apartment. But, one of the side effects is that I they buy patterns to work with stash yarn.

I've been spending a lot of time looking at the photos of my stash on Ravelry, trying to find inspiration. A lot of the yarns that haunt me are variegated yarns I bought, but now can't find something to make them into. Some were bought we I first started knitting, but for many there just isn't an excuse.

One of these is some Berocco Calico that I bought at Stitches from the Heart (okay, maybe my excuse is that it was for charity). I've been searching for something to make with the Calico and I keep coming back to Pismo. It is one of the few patterns I was able to find which (1) looked good in the yarn, (2) was something I might actually wear, and (3) was something I have enough yarn.

I wasn't planning on buying the booklet now, but just wanted to see if it was out there and how much. However, with the assistance of the ever helpful Google, I was able to find it at The Knitting Zone for $2.99 (regular price $6.00). Turns out they are reducing most of their inventory to focus on wholesale distribution on Hiya Hiya needles, and their patterns (other than downloads) were all marked down tremendously.

I have a hard time passing up sales, and a hard time paying shipping on one small item, so, after some browsing, I was able to find a few more patterns that I "needed." But I was good and resisted the yarn. Over all, I got 6 patterns/booklets/magazines for under $30. The shipping wasn't cheap, at over $11, but still it was a great deal. And the shipping was so fast, I put in my order late Thursday night (Friday for most of the country) and the package arrived today. Here's what I got:

Fiber Trends Patterns, Felt Alpacas and Llamas (207), Gotta get a Gecko (233), and Felt Koala(205)

Berroco Booklet #241, Berroco Booklet #278, Rebecca #31

And, just to show that I actually have been doing some knitting, here are the baby socks I just knit. The pattern is the Little Sky Learning Sock from Cat Bordhi, and I can't wait to try the technique on a sock for me. I used some Cascade Cotton Rich that I had one skein of in my stash (that I think may have come from a swap). It probably wasn't the best yarn for this, as it wasn't very stretchy which made some of the decreases and other techniques a hassle, but it was just sitting there and since the intended baby (no, not mine!) is here in Hawaii, the cotton seemed appropriate.


I think I'm going to start the Felted Koala, also using stash yarn, to give with the socks. Hopefully I can get one done by this weekend when the baby shower is.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Companion Cube!

Last week at Aloha Knitters meeting Kai asked how many of us had knitting blogs, and almost everyone's hand went up. I followed up and asked how many have actually updated in the last few weeks.... significantly less hands in the air.

So, here's my little update on my most recent FO: The Knitted Companion Cube.

For a few weeks last year the husband (who is currently on my shit list, but that's another story) was obsessed with the video game Portal.

Now, I've never knit anything for my husband. I keep threatening argyle sweater vests (for some reason, he hates argyle), but living in Hawaii he doesn't really need any of the things he'd actually appreciate (hat/gloves/sweater). So, I was rather excited when I saw a pattern based on one of the elements (characters?) in the game: the Companion Cube. I thought about it for Christmas, but was bogged down in other knitting, and couldn't locally find a light gray wool (I hat the other colors in my stash). But, on our trip to Maui I found a light gray Cascade 220 at Ben Franklin (why they had the color when none of the Oahu ones do is unknown).

So, I decided it would be a perfect Valentine's Day gift... a cube for my companion.

This was the first time I'd done fair isle with long floats, and I'm not sure if I did them totally right, as the floats show through a bit. Here are a few in-progress shots:
Companion Cube Progress
Companion Cube Progress

Of course, I was late getting started on it, and started about 10 days before v-day, but I was making good progress despite not being able to work on it while he was home. On the morning of valentines day I had about 5 more rounds to go before finishing the knitting. I was working on getting those done when I snapped the cable of the needle right at the join. Luckily I didn't drop any stitches. And I had another circular in the same size; however, it was shorter and the stitches barely fit which made the knitting very slow. But I got the knitting done, and started the blocking. Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of the blocking, but I set wrapped it around a pop-up sweater dryer, pined the edges down and set two fans blowing on it. I left it there for a while and went out to Wal-Mart to buy the foam for inside.

Here it is once it was blocked:
Knitted Companion Cube
Sorry for the bad lighting, but it was night by this time and I wanted to get a picture of this stage.

Next up was the steeking. This was the first time I've ever done steeking, and I feel like this is the one technique knitters can legitimately be afraid of. All other techniques (other than felting) can be undone, you can always frog and start again. But with steeking, once it is cut, there's no going back. So I pulled out the sewing machine, and started.

Knitted Companion Cube

After I'd sewn the reinforcement, there was nothing left to do but cut. I took a deep breath and cut; I wasn't really afraid it would unravel (the wool was tight and grabby, and the stitching gave extra confidence), but it was still nerve wracking. But I did it, and then suddenly I had transformed a tube of knitting into six squares of knitting. In the rush I missed getting pictures of the sides cut out.

Next up was the seaming, which isn't something I have a ton of practice with. I brushed up with a few books and got to work. It was about 9pm now, with the husband due home a little after 10pm. He got home when I had one and a half edges left to seam up, so I had to hide in the bedroom for about 10 minutes to finish.

Knitted Companion Cube

Over all, the recipient was very happy, which made it all worthwhile. If I had to do it over again I'm not sure I'd knit all 6 squares in one round; instead I think I'd do the four sides together (skipping the steeking and therefore without knitting the gutters, but maybe a twist slip stitch or something at each edge) and then the top and bottom separate. I though the seams would add some structural integrity, but instead they just add bulk on the inside (especially at the corners) and aren't really that necessary. But hey, I conquered steeks!!! I'm now thinking about using them a lot more because I like cardigans, but don't really like purling.