My current work in progress:

1. Ashburn, designed by Melanie Berg, knit from Woolfolk Tynd in colorways 6, 7, and 8 on a 4 mm (U.S. size 6) needle.
2. Myriad stealth projects.

My New Butler

Monday was a federal holiday here in the U.S. so I completely blanked out on blogging on Tuesday because Tuesday felt like Monday. Whoops!

Better late than never, here is my work in progress: the front of my gansey-type sweater.

WIP011912 240x160 My New Butler

I’m about two-thirds done with the front (yay three-day weekend) so I have high hopes for finishing the front this weekend and getting a start on a sleeve.

I did take some time out from knitting on this to start a swatch in a different yarn. Can anyone guess what the yarn is?

Swatch011912 240x160 My New Butler

I’ll give you two hints: it is a cotton/acrylic blend and it is worsted weight.

Book Giveaway

The winner of my review copy of Extra Yarn, by Mac Barnett (illustrated by Jon Klassen) is “Stacy and the rugrats,” who has (have?) been emailed. Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway.

Speaking of Giveaways . . .

I got something exciting in the mail the other day. This:

case bronze sm LRG 240x240 My New Butler

This is the new “Crafter’s Tool Butler” by Jordana Paige, who was nice enough to send me one for review. (Note that I shamelessly pulled the photos of this case from her website since they are far nicer than any I can take here on a dark afternoon.)

The specs:

The cases is made from an attractive vegan-friendly PVC and is available in 4 colors: black onyx, bronze, deep red, and eggplant purple.

case bronze sm 04 LRG 240x240 My New Butler

Mine is bronze.

It has six flat pockets for all sizes of double-pointed needles and crochet hooks, as well as a mesh pocket for small items such as safety pins, stitch markers and darning needles.

case bronze sm 05 LRG 240x240 My New Butler

There is also a knitting needle and crochet hook inventory chart included.

And there are four zippered accordion pockets for circular needles with label inserts for custom numbering.

case bronze sm 06 LRG 240x240 My New Butler

It is 10.5″ long by 6.5″ tall by 2″ thick — compact enough to tuck into a medium-sized purse or knitting bag. I foresee that I will find it extremely useful for knitting on the go, something I do a lot of.

You can purchase the Crafter’s Tool Butler from the Jordana Paige website here. There’s also a link on that page to a store locator so you can purchase it locally.

Did I mention how nice Jordana Paige was to send me one? She actually sent me two: one is for me and one is for one of my blog readers. icon smile My New Butler

Cases011912 240x160 My New Butler

I’m keeping the bronze one, so I’m giving away the black onyx one. Who wants it? icon biggrin My New Butler

Leave a comment on this blog post by 12:00 noon Eastern Time on Tuesday January 24, 2012. I’ll choose the winner at random then.

Lucy is very excited about the whole contest thing.

Lucy011912 240x160 My New Butler

The Skinny on the Skinny

Here is the back of my gansey-type sweater, which I completed yesterday.

Back011512 230x240 The Skinny on the Skinny

I’ve got some neck shaping there so the neckband won’t be too high up on the neck, and I’ve got the shoulder stitches on holders so I can attache the front and back via a three-needle bind-off.

I’m making this sweater from Blue Sky Alpacas Skinny Cotton (in the gravel colorway). I’d heard great things about this yarn so wanted to try it out for myself. It lives up to the hype — it’s a soft and lovely cotton. My only gripe with it is that it tends to be a little splitty since it is made up of many plies. So I have to pay closer attention as I knit.

But all in all it is a lovely yarn with great stitch definition.

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Extra Yarn

Cover011512 240x189 The Skinny on the Skinny

Last week I was sent a review copy of this book:

This is Extra Yarn, by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen.

It’s a cute little story for kids ages 4 and up about a little girl who finds — well the blurb on the sleeve says it all:

Blurb011512 213x240 The Skinny on the Skinny

The illustrations are wonderful:

Illo011512 240x178 The Skinny on the Skinny

Who’d like to win my review copy?

Leave a comment on this post by noon Eastern Time on Thursday, January 19, 2012 to be entered in the drawing to receive my copy.

Lucy’s Plan for the Day

Lucy011512 240x160 The Skinny on the Skinny

Crazy Weather

On Saturday the temperature got up to about 70 degrees. Yesterday it snowed.

Snow011012 240x160 Crazy Weather

Crazy weather.

Long-time blog readers may recall that I am loathe to turn on the heat in the winter. So far this (so-called) winter I have not turned on my heat. But I have closed the windows once or twice.

Knit Like the Wind!

I’ve had some comments recently remarking that I must knit very fast in order to complete projects so quickly. This always makes me smile because I don’t consider myself a fast knitter, just a persistent one.

I don’t have much knitting time during the week. On weekdays I get up at precisely 3:47 a.m. and arrive at work at precisely 5:45 a.m. I am almost always home well before 5:00 p.m. (except in unusual cases, like this week, when a training course necessitates my staying at work two hours later than usual). I try to do all my “chores” on weekday afternoons after work so I have weekends free. And on  weeknights I need to attempt sleep fairly early. All this adds up to very little knitting time on weeknights. I do knit for half an hour on the train in the mornings (in the afternoons coming home I read and check my work Blackberry) and sometimes a half an hour at lunch as well. And then an hour in the evening.

So most of my knitting is accomplished on weekends.

This past weekend I knit a mouse for a coworker who recently adopted two kittens.

Mouse011012 240x143 Crazy Weather

This was knit using leftover sportweight sock yarn and my “nose-up” mouse pattern from my Projects for Leftover Sock Yarn pattern.

I also worked on my cotton gansey:

Reader Charlotte commented:

I thought ganseys had flat stockinette “bottoms” with the initials worked in before the patterning started. I was told this was because the gansey was tucked into overalls or trousers and there was no reason to make that part of the garment pretty. In addition, the smooth stockinette would be easier to tuck in.

What I have read was that the plain bottoms (on body and sleeves) was to make it simpler to rip out and re-knit when the bottom edges got worn out from wear and tear.

But not all ganseys are knit that way. There are approximately one ga-jillion gansey patterns out there and there is no law that states that you have to adhere to an exact pattern when creating a gansey-type pattern.

Just for fun, I did a Google image search on the word “gansey.” Check out the results!

Here’s my “gansey-type” sweater as it looks today:

WIP011012 240x160 Crazy Weather

I don’t expect to get much knitting time this week so I’ll likely not post on Thursday, so I’ll talk to y’all on Sunday.

Lucy is miffed because I was late getting home today. I told her I would be when I left the house this morning but she wasn’t paying attention.

Lucy011012 240x162 Crazy Weather

New

Here is my new WIP:

WIP010812 240x160 New

I am knitting this project from Blue Sky Alpacas Skinny Cotton, using the “Gravel” colorway. This will be a gansey-type pullover. Definitely not a “true” gansey because I am knitting it in pieces and from cotton instead of traditional gansey wool. But the patterning is gansey-style.

I knit a tiny swatch with a U.S. size 6 (4mm) needle but thought it was just a little too loose, so switched to a size 5 (3.75mm). Using a size 5 needle, I’m getting just a shade over 5 stitches to the inch (like 5 and 1/16 of an inch) and 7 rows to the inch.

Rather than do a ribbing on the bottom edge, I’ve done narrow columns of seed stitch alternating with stockinette stitch.

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This morphs into the body pattern: seed stitch diamonds separated by narrow seed stitch columns.

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As a rule, I am not a fan of knitting with 100% cotton yarn. I cast this on and on the first row was not terribly happy with the feel of the yarn. But by the second row I was much happier. I never like working the first row of anything — knitting into a cast-on edge is something I always find slightly unpleasant.

So I’m finding this yarn quite pleasant to knit. It’s fairly soft, but has great stitch definition. It is a multi-ply yarn so I do have to remain vigilant so that I don’t split it, but it’s not too much of an issue, particularly since I am using a lovely Signature needle with a stiletto tip. Mmmmmm . . . pointy!

Needle010812 240x160 New

Sweet Shawlettes Book Giveaway

The contest is now closed and the two winners of copies of Sweet Shawlettes by Jean Moss are Heather and Kathy in Alaska. I have emailed you both.

Thanks to everyone who left a comment entering the giveaway and many thanks to Jean Moss and Taunton Press for providing two copies of this lovely book for my readers!

Lucy’s Weekend Plan

Lucy010812 240x160 New

‘Nuff said.

Bits and Pieces

I finished my Cromarty last night.

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Cat included for scale.

Every seam sewn, every end woven in.

FO010512a 210x240 Bits and Pieces

As you can see, I added a band to the bottom of the sweater as well as to the bottom of the sleeves. I used the two small side cables together on this band.

So instead of doing the braided cable on the neckband, I did a narrower band with one of the small cables.

FO010512b 240x160 Bits and Pieces

All in the interest of being matchy-matchy you know.

With the addition of the bottom band, my Cromarty is almost 26″ from shoulder to hem. A much more wearable length for me than the 23″ it was before the addition of the band.

I used 15 skeins of Rowan Calmer and a U.S. size 5 needle.

I started this sweater on December 3, so it took me a month and a day to complete.

Because of my decision to add bands to the bottom of the body and sleeves, there was a fair amount of seaming and weaving in of ends. I counted how many pieces this sweater is constructed from: twelve. Front, back, two sleeves, two sleeve bands, two bottom bands, and four neckband pieces.

Those among you who are not a fan of seaming are likely twitching by now.

Me, I have no issue with seams. In fact, I’m rather fond of them. Now your mileage may vary, but I find that a sweater knit in pieces and seamed together usually hangs better than a seamless one knit in the round. When you are knitting in the round, you are actually knitting in a spiral. Depending on the yarn you are using, it will in some way affect the drape of your garment. In my experience, the heavier the yarn, the weirder the drape when knit in the round.

I’m remembering back to an Icelandic sweater I bought at a Scandinavian bazaar approximately a ga-jillion years ago. It was knit in the round from Lopi-type (1-ply bulky wool) and it always fit weird, sort of twisting on the body when worn.

Of course, there are things you can do to make your circular knits fit well — using short-rows to incorporate shaping is one technique.

And there are certain types of knits that really are best knit in the round. Fair isle sweaters knit from jumperweight wool, for example. It is much easier to knit colorwork in the round because you always have the right side facing you. The stranded nature of fair isle work adds some stability to the piece. and if you are knitting a cardigan and steeking it, once you cut open the front steek, it is no longer a spiral.

A very compelling reason for me to lean towards knitting in pieces is that I only have to have one piece in my lap at a time while I knit. Because I am too warm 99.9% of the time, this is a big deal for me.

But like I said, your mileage may vary.

Next on the needles: a gansey-type sweater knit in DK weight cotton. In pieces. Stay tuned.

Sweet Shawlettes Giveaway Update

Don’t forget to leave a comment on Tuesday’s post to be entered in the drawing for a free copy of Sweet Shawlettes by Jean Moss. You all have given the book such a lovely reception here that I am now authorized to give away two copies in the drawing this Sunday. A big thank-you to Jean and her publisher, Taunton Press!

Lucy Update

Lucy thanks you all for the lovely comments about her photo in Tuesday’s blog post.

Meanwhile, she has found another great use for the toy she got for Christmas.

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Hey, not every photo can be a glamor shot.