I can't believe it's been over half a year since I last blogged! I have been keeping myself busy with various knitting projects. Taking up most of my time was the one that I started at the end of July and took me 2 months to complete: a pullover for a friend of mine who had need of a new one. She wanted something long in black, and so I found some cotton that was nice and inexpensive and knit... and knit... and knit. I only charge for materials, and not my time, probably a good thing, since this took forever to make, despite being an easy knit! I based it on Sprout (my Ravelry link) from Knitty (the Ravelry project link), but extended it, didn't do the wraps as written in the pattern, and seamed it all the way down.I shipped it out at the beginning of September to one very happy customer, who then turned around and asked for some extra yarn to fix the seaming which I had obviously not managed to get quite right! Obviously something I need to work on.
After that, I started on Christmas stuff, to make sure I had time to get it all done. I did necklets for the women in my family, and mug hugs for the men. While they were small, they were lots of fun to make, and I got appreciation from all receivers. I made two of each colour necklets; the purple yarn was a Rowan silk cotton I picked up years ago in America, and the blue is Rowan Calmer, which is super soft and stretchy. I loved working with both of these yarns. The men's mug cozies were made from bits of yarn I had left over. It seems to be a great stash buster project as you really don't need a lot of yarn to make one, even making the fancy version (as I did) versus the plain version (which I have made in the past and is all stockinette stitch.)
After I made those, I decided I had time to finish the vest/waistcoat I had been making for Malcolm, who was until recently my father-in-law. I sat down and got it done in time to ship out for Christmas.This is a picture of it with my housemate generously modelling it for me. Malcolm wanted something in green, and I liked the tweed effect the Hayfields Aran yarn gave. It was however very coarse and hard on my hands, which kept cramping when I knit with it. I was pleased with the final outcome however.
Once I was done with my Christmas knitting, I sat down and picked up a shawl which had been on my needles since April 2011, according to Ravelry. This was a mystery KAL shawl I had bought to support the Japanese tsunami disaster relief efforts, and had never gotten around to finishing it. It's a two part shawl, with the first 36 rows done in intricate lace; nupp and cables play a major role in it. Those 36 rows took me forever to do, but once I was done with them it was stockinette with a cable up the middle, which I finished in about a week. The finished product is really amazing.
Interspersed in all that, I decided it was high time that I learned Fair Isle. I was inspired by several designs in the January edition of The Knitter, and looked up a few tutorials. Both recommended that you hold the different yarns with different hands; knit continental with one hand and English with the other. In order to do this, I had to learn Continental knitting, and to learn to knit with my right hand. I sat down and first figured out the intricacies of Continental, which really isn't all that different to how I currently knit, holding my yarn in my left hand. The major difference is that the working needle is the right needle, where I'm used to the working needle being the left. The bigger challenge for me was when it came to doing fair isle itself and trying to knit with my right hand in a fashion that I'm used to doing with my left; I had to go back to basics and ask myself "how to right handers purl?" and such questions. I'm very slow with both techniques, but that's to be expected. However, I have managed one Fair Isle tutorial with a simple project. The green is all Continentally knit, and the red is stranded across the back in the traditional Fair Isle style. This is without washing or blocking to even out stitches, so I'm quite proud of what I managed.
Finally, I learned through Twitter of a contest that Artyarns was holding. They were offering a pattern free for a limited time, a cowl, which you had to knit using any Artyarns yarn before December 30th. I ordered some Supermerino in the Berry colourway (I think it was) and then promptly forgot about it. The yarn arrived Christmas Eve from the States (I got it off Amazon, and wasn't expecting it to arrive from America) and I thought it was a present. I put it under the tree and decided to open it at midnight. Glad I did! I discovered this yarn and immediately remembered the contest. I was having trouble sleeping anyway, so I wound it, cast on, and did about half the cowl in one night. I finished it the next night. A nice quick project, but I did screw up and it became a mobius instead of a nice round circle. However, this doesn't stop it being a warm cowl, so I plan on using it. It is very pink though.
My knitting new year's resolution is to go on a yarn diet. I plan to move back to America in mid-2014, and want to get rid of as much yarn as I can, so I don't have to move it. Granted, I'll still have to move the stuff I make from it, but this way I can get into some of my stash and enjoy it and not think about spending more money on yarn I don't need or really have room for.