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Warmth from the deep blue sea

§ January 23rd, 2008 § Filed under Caps, Hats, Etc. § 17 Comments

All it took was a sudden wet, cold and windy spell to snap me out of endless and restless startitis. Indecision about wanting a hat at all was swiftly overtaken by the urgency to finish and wear one. Instead of the deep red, however, I chose the deep blue. Wouldn’t you know it, Malabrigo worsted in “Azul Profundo” makes for a very warm Koolhaas hat.

koolhaas1

Soft, snug and very quick to make, in spite of the intense cabling every other row. I love this hat.

koolhaas2

My friend and knitting prodigy ManDuka, who, if you remember, embarked on her first ever hat just last November, took on this Koolhaas pattern as her next [you can see her gorgeous, green version in Cascade here.(Ravelry links.)], and is now totally into planning an EPS sweater for herself! Way to go, ManDuka. I loved the pattern after talking to her about it, and am glad that it overcame my ennui. Of course, it does help that the yarn has such lovely tones:

malabrigo teal shades

Details:

Pattern: Koolhaas, by Jared Flood, in Interweave Knits Holiday 2007.
Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted in shade Azul Profundo. I used just over 1/2 a skein, I’m estimating.
Needles: Size 6 for the ribbing and 8 for the main pattern.

Notes:
Not much about the pattern itself, except that I cast on fewer stitches (100). When I came up to the decreases, therefore, I had to do some footwork and calculating, which resulted in a slightly different crown than in the pattern; I made half an extra repeat and then decreased more rapidly. But the maths worked out, so I don’t care that my crown is a little different from the other 800 – odd Koolhaases out there!

It’s the yarn that bugged me. Have you seen the adoration for Malabrigo out there? Nineteen comments on the Ravelry yarn page that are gushing, to put it mildly. Sure, it’s incredibly soft, and as you can clearly see above, the shades are gorgeous. These colours are to die for, and I totally get the joy of the finished, subtly variegated look. But shades apart, the look is unfortunately not *that* finished in the end. I am surprised at how loosely the yarn is plied, and what a worn look it takes on even while it’s being knit. It’s not just the gentle, fuzzy halo of some loose fibres, but an almost felted look that well-used handmade items have. If you click on the photos above, and on the flickr page click on all sizes, then large, you’ll see what I mean. Here’s the loose cast-on end before I weaved it in:

malabrigo yarn almost felted

Doesn’t it look nearly felted? Just from the agitation of two days of knitting, it was a little stiff, even! I wonder how people make sweaters with this stuff, because even at a very tight gauge, tough as that is to do when you have such a thick yarn, it must not hold up very well. That said, it surely is the softest wool I have ever knit with, and boy, right now, even in the northern California winter, I am grateful for the warmth of the azul profundo.

malabrigo subtle shades

So much knitting, so little to show

§ January 21st, 2008 § Filed under Caps, Hats, Etc., Socks, sweaters § 10 Comments

Over the last week, I must have knit thousands of stitches in total. A few furious inches here, some leisurely centimetres there. The days were crazy and involved much running around reading endless admissions files and preparing syllabi and course-packets. But the evenings were quiet. My Netflix supply was well-oiled, with lots of long, mindless, Hindi melodrama on full tap. I knit an awful lot of stitches. I should have not one, but two Cobblestone sleeves to show you.

cobblestonesleevestuck

But of course, I do not. It is the first sleeve, back to where it was last week. It made the trip all the way up to the armhole and slid right back, like an unlucky Snakes-and-Ladders player. Reason? The increase gradient was too gentle, and the sleeve threatened to be a bit too tight. In keeping with my new virtuous, gauge-and-fit-cautious 2008 self, I figured it was too early to slide back to my bad habits myself, and frogged.

It was a bad omen, no doubt. But in rash optimism and disregard, I cast the sleeve aside, and bought three skeins of a gorgeous forest green in Cascade 220 to make another Back to School Vest. Remember the one I made last month? I gave it away to a friend, and decided to make a better fitting one for myself. I cast on with size 7s like before and was an inch or so into it when a thought rose, unbidden, that the fabric was too loose, and that I might try with size 6 needles instead. A Counter-Thought naturally presented itself: did the first vest feel that way too? The thought, now stronger, insisted that it did, especially around the waist. Counter-thought, weakened by its adversary’s confidence, wilted and began doubting its own doubts about this apparent looseness. So I cast on again, with a different skein, with size 6s.

cascadeforestgreen1

Thought and Counter-thought were clearly fucking with my mind and enjoying it, because now, an inch into both versions, I am thoroughly confused – too loose? Too tight? Not sure which one to do, I am altogether sick of this pattern already. But I can’t tell you how lovely this shade is – it reminds me alternately of moss and henna, which I feel I can almost smell or touch when I sniff or knit with the yarn.

cascadeforestgreen2

No doubt my mind is mimicking the whole moss sensation, because yet another thought keeps forming threateningly in a deep recess somewhere, flinging more doubts and alternatives at me. Will this really look good as the BTS Vest? Wouldn’t the forest green rather be a comfy hoodie instead? Walk in the woods after rain; jeans, sneakers and green hoodie, maybe a cardi with pockets? Or, perhaps another Fitted Knits project – the feminine cardigan, in a dark green to minimize the overly cutesy look? It was this foolish thought that led me to rashly buy three skeins of another shade yesterday in charcoal grey for the Vest. Now my indecision is even worse – grey or green? Both are quite lovely, you gotta admit, but I’m too afraid to even wind the grey for fear that it will develop an identity crisis of its own.

cascadegreengrey

Enough of Cascade, I told myself. Find a mindless, easy project to keep you occupied. I idly picked up a skein of Nashua Worsted and cast on for the Koolhaas hat for some instant gratification. No sooner had I done that than the alpaca strands got up my nose and created a fuss about too much fuzz, too little stitch definition, and there I was a day later, with the same project, but this time in Malabrigo Teal. I did two rows of the cabled pattern and another nasty thought, no doubt from the same subversive brigade, began to play in my head – do I really want this hat? I haven’t quelled the thought yet, and the two yarns are poised, waiting:

twokoolhaases

Socks! Always the last refuge, reliable, simple socks. My friend Madhavi got me two skeins of Regia from Germany this Christmas, and I brought them out this morning to pick one to cast on with. Just the thought of picking one over the other made me so superstitious, though, that they got photographed and went right back into the drawer. I’ll deal with them later.

regiaduo

This madness, it is hoped, will not last. I will sensibly match yarn to project, even progress a couple of inches, and not let the damn A.D.D turn me a complete, indecisive A.S.S. I just wish I could figure out which yarn to tackle first….

Belatedly

§ January 11th, 2008 § Filed under Life § 7 Comments

I hope everyone’s new year has got off to a good start! I had grand plans of doing a 2007 overview of FOs and a list of knitting goals, but cross-country travel, among a host of other things, has kept me away from the computer longer than I would have liked. I haven’t read any of my regular blogs either, and plead forgiveness if I haven’t responded to a comment. It has also taken away my knitting mojo for a bit – nothing like discovering that you left your tape measure behind, or packed the circulars but not the DPNs, to cool the fiery clicking, what? It is slowly limping back, however, and my Ravelry queue is bursting at the ball band, eager to get gauge and go! Clashing wildly with the queue is my Resolution To Not Buy Yarn Just Because I Can, bristling in capital indignation at the prices on these ball bands. Details to follow in the coming weeks about how the bout is resolved!

2007 wasn’t that productive in terms of actual finished objects….

1. The Back to School Vest,
2. Large Felted Clogs,
3. The Ogee Tunic,
4. More Felted Clogs,
5. Claudia Plum Socks,
6. Provincial Waistcoat,
7. Kiri Shawl
8. Spiral Scarf
9. North Sea Shawl

Well, actually maybe it was. Just making that list made me change my mind! But more than the number of FOs, 2007 was productive in two very important ways for my knitting – the first being that knitting the two fitted vests, and one major project disaster made me much more conscious of sizing, fit and gauge issues. I think 2008 is going to be all about being more careful about these things before plunging into the actual knitting, and also being more attentive to it during the process itself. Less blind reliance on the blocking and praying, and more on the tape/gauge measure and frogging. Mathematics, here I come!

The second was designing my Rangoli Hat, which, to my delight, lots of people are making! I shamelessly admit to deriving great joy from seeing all the different versions on Ravelry. It has made me a little more confident about adapting more Rangoli designs. The 2008 resolution, though, is not so much attempting the adaptations but actually sitting down with the graph paper and swatching. Again, mathematics….

So perhaps it is a good omen that it took me so long, and several attempts, to get my Cobblestone sleeve going.

cobblestonesleeve

Not much, you say? Ah, but it is the product of much sweat and calculation. The pattern measurements turned out to be too loose for the size I had picked. I frogged. I measured another sweater, measured my wrist, underarm, did the maths with the gauge, repeated all steps thrice, and cast on 46 stitches for the sleeve. After knitting for a few inches, it didn’t quite seem to fall right. I frogged again. Then, I remembered Zimmerman’s EPS and calculated 20% of the body stitches to figure out how much she’d suggest. Very fortuitously = 46! Not resting on the laurels, I did the maths to work out my own preferred increase formula and am now on my way. For the record, the plan is to increase to 84 stitches (15 inches circumference) over 128 rows, to a total of 17 inches till the armhole join. Let’s hope the arithmetic works out…

Here’s to a new year of good fits and correct sums, and lots of beautiful designs and garments! I’ll be back soon.