Tuesday, March 24, 2009

21st Birthday In London!

There is a project that I've been working on that I've been (mostly) avoiding talking about here because it was a surprise for the recipient and I didn't want her stumbling across it and finding out. Today she got it and opened it, so I can't wait to blog about it!

A bit of backstory, however. I am not 21, nor am I in London, so obviously the title refers to my sister, who is in fact now that age in that place at this exact moment. I am very jealous. Months back, as I was completing my own Noro Striped Scarf, I decided I wanted to make her one because turning 21 in London was such a special thing.

Not in Kureyon, since she'd probably find it too scratchy, but in Silk Garden, which I hoped she could wear. (No wool allergies that I know of, but she is sensitive to scratchy stuff.) The store I work in didn't have a ton of Silk Garden colors to choose from, and when a few more came in, I took my chances and picked two out. (By the way, Silk Garden is on like, ridiculous backorder, so if you find any BUY IT NOW.) I knew it probably wouldn't be as striking as, say ... Brooklyn's or the Harlot's, but I figured I'd give it a shot, hopefully it wouldn't suck, and maybe she'd even like it.

(By the way, I feel horrible name-dropping. If you got here expecting a different blog, I apologize!)

I knitted. I knitted for over a month. I wove in ends before I was done. I washed and blocked (and drying took days and I still have towels that are stinky from it. Need to do some laundry.). I planned to go to the post office and mail so she'd get it on time. And then I got sick.

I was sick for a whole week. I could barely drag myself out of bed, let alone to the post office. I would have sent my husband, except that I hadn't written her birthday card yet and I wanted to make sure to get all the info right, since mailing to another country is kind of crazy. Finally, 2 weeks before her birthday, I was able to get it in the mail, hoping against hope it might get there so she could have something to open on her birthday.

4 skeins of Noro Silk Garden aren't exactly cheap, even with an employee discount. The customs form asked me to list everything in the box and its value. "One birthday card," I wrote. Be specific, the instructions stated. "Handmade silk/wool/mohair scarf, 21st birthday without family, we've had a hard year, I want her to have something special, priceless"? Wouldn't fit in the box. Instead, I wrote "wool scarf".

I spent more than I intended to. My box, bought from Wal-mart in the hopes that it would save me some money, ended up being just over the cheaper mailing option, so I spent twice as much to ship it. Thankfully I didn't have to buy additional insurance, since the actual retail amount of the package was covered.

I felt like I was in a MasterCard commercial. I'd just spent all this time and money. Would it get there on time? Would it get there at all? Would she even like it? Would it be cold enough for her to wear it, or would it get there and she'd forget to pack it for the trip back?

The time and effort you took to craft something unique for your sister's 21st birthday in England: priceless

Not knowing if it'll even get there, let alone if she'll actually like it?: materials+shipping+ohmygodwhydidn'tIsendagiftcard?

Amazingly, she got the package on Friday, only 10 days after it shipped. (So amazing. Go Post Office!) She opened it today.

She loves it.


Thank God.

4 skeins Noro Silk Garden, 2 #275 & 2 #245
Size 7 US to cast on and size US 6 to knit with
The Noro Striped Scarf pattern as popularized by BrooklynTweed

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Smooshy & Silky

Told you I'd be back! The naughty earflap hat has been removed from the naughty pile (wow, naughty is a hard word for me to spell tonight) and the earflap has been frogged back completely. I tried tinking, but it got confusing -- too many wraps and bleaugh. I've started again, though I haven't gotten back to the problem area. Miss Priss is doing beautifully, though.

I will admit to starting another (mindless) project in the meantime. I don't know if I like it enough to continue it yet, so I'll hold off talking about it until I've made up my mind. It deserves its own post, though.

I made Hubs dig through the closet to find me one of my old binders. Man, I haven't even needed a binder in almost a year, which makes me a little nostalgic. I love Ravelry, but I do want to have a place to put printouts, so I bought some sheet protectors and am going to make a project binder. I should have bought some hole-punch protectors. My plan is to swatch (or at least have samples) and then punch holes in each pattern or paper, put the protector on, and then tie the ends of the swatch together in the back. That way I won't need glue or staples and the swatch will stay with each project. Did that make any sense?

I did promise more stash pictures, and I will deliver. First up is the Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool, which I bought hoping they'd be Rose's Wrist Warmers by Christina Slattery.


However, now I might do a 180 and make them Branching Out, which actually calls for Silky Wool. I don't know! I haven't knit any lace yet, and I was hoping to practice cables with the wristwarmers. For now, though, Silky Wool lives safely in the stash.

The second thing skein I debated over. I pulled a ton of other skeins off the shelf. Other colors. Other brands. I agonized. I plunked two of them on the table and ignored them until about five minutes before closing before I picked one. I'd been going for the shocking pink, but surprised myself by buying the blue. I figure if I don't make socks (which I probably won't!), I can make a nice small shawl or something.


(Dream in Color's Smooshy in Blue Lagoon.) It was either that or Ruby River, which is also amazingly gorgeous, but I've been drawn a lot to blues lately. Don't even get me started on the Jitterbug I gave up. Only so much money to spend on yarn, you know.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My Very First Mittens

So I finally finished my very first mittens ... just in time for the weather to warm up! Okay, actually I finished them up ten days ago, but the weather has been very up-and-down to the point where I can wear them one day and then walk around without a coat the next!

It was a fun process, and I'd definitely make them again, but probably with some changes. Even going down a needle size on the ribbing, it's very loose, so I'd probably decrease the number to cast on with and just increase to the right number when I got to the hand. Hopefully it's partially just a characteristic of the yarn being thick-and-thin, otherwise I'd go down another needle size! (The body was knitted on 10s and the ribbing on 9s.) The thumbs are a little tight right around the thumb base, but still wearable. Not bad, considering I made the 6-year-old size!


You'll notice that they are pretty much fraternal. I have 33 grams left, which means each mitten is about 33 grams -- so about a third of the skein. If I hadn't made them, I wouldn't have believed that they'd come from the same skein! Though you can't see it in the photo, I just started to repeat the green at the tip of the blue mitten's thumb. The gray one was made first, and I think the blue one is better for it. All in all, a really good pattern that I will make again. The Iro is also quite warm! Too bad that by the time I finished them, I didn't really need them anymore! Oh well, there's always next winter.

I ended up buying a ball of Cascade Fixation because my co-worker found the cutest hacky sack pattern and had made a couple of her own. I wanted to try! Though I'd done short rows before while making Anna Hrachovec's Hearts, I wanted to practice them for the hat I was making (yes, I also started a hat) and the yarnball was a great way to do it. The pattern is by Judy Gibson and several versions can be found here. I made the small yarnball.


How cute! And great for spring. I don't know how to "do" hacky sacking, but I figure it's a stress ball if nothing else. :) I still have plenty of the yarn and should be able to get at least a few more out of it. Next time I think I'll go up a needle size though (I worked this on 4s); this one was quite tiny!

Finally ... my earflap hat. Started in the Schaefer Miss Priss I bought ages ago but never showed a picture of. A lovely lady who comes into the store had made one and let us keep it as a sample, and as soon as I put it on my head (yes, I sometimes do that with samples ... don't you?) I knew I was going to make one too. Bought Priss in the awesome color "Bugs". Okay, so it may be defined as a "kid" color, but I don't care! It's been knitting up beautifully, even if I'm having some difficulty with the pattern.


You'll notice I was smart enough to put in a lifeline before starting the short rows for the earflap. I was not, however, smart enough to put in another lifeline before I got to the part that confused me. The hat is in the naughty pile right now, despite being gorgeous. I have not had the will or brainpower to try to tink it back. But seriously, it's based on this awesome earflap hat pattern generator by Lucia of The Knitting Fiend, and it certainly isn't her fault I decided to tackle something awesome but challenging.

I have some new stash photos too, but if I share them now I won't have another update for a while! Expect them soon, though. They're too pretty not to show off!