Monday, December 12, 2011

Knitting Fever, Elizabeth Zimmerman, and Ugly Sweaters

So I've been wearing my Old, Ugly, First-Sweater-I-Ever-Knitted (yes, that is the official title) a lot lately because I've discovered that Elizabeth Zimmerman was right about a couple of things.
1.   Garter stitch is awesome and really, really warm.
First knitted sweater
Raveled - (to read the whole story of this sweater click on the "raveled" link.)  

This sweater can actually be warn as a jacket most days here in Houston and it's perfectly, wonderfully warm.  So warm, in fact, that I don't even care anymore about the odd glances I sometimes get when I wear it out in public. Or about the fact that I look like a slightly smaller, slightly cuter version of the Michelen Man when I wear it.  

Yes, I've finally picked up a book by EZ, as she's affectionately known in the knitting world.  I decided to start with Knitting Without Tears because it's the quintessential beginning EZ book and I must admit I've always been a bit intimidated by EZ and her devil-may-care approach to knitting.  This woman is truly a knitting master and, as she likes to say, she is the absolute master of her knitting.

I must confess that I am not.  I'm a pattern knitter and I cringe a little every time I stray too far from whatever the pattern says I must do. I'll go so far as to change yarns or even fibers, mostly because I can't afford 27 balls of Rowan SuperExpensive Superfancy Cotton or whatever they're calling it, but that's about it.  If the pattern doesn't work for me I move on until I find one that does.  

But I've been enchanted by the garter stitch, lately, and no one loves garter stitch more than EZ.  So here I go into new territory.

Unfortunately I have a few Christmas things I need to work on before I can really dive into my new garter stitch passion.  (Oh yeah... Christmas...)  AND I do need to finish up the Abandoned Ripple (also it's now official title)

But after that everyone's going to be seeing a lot of garter stitch around here.
I'm also a little nervous about trying out my first EZ pattern so that should probably be good for a few laughs too.  

Thursday, December 1, 2011

You are an obsession. You're my obsession.

A few months ago, I wrote this post about shawls and how I finally "get it" about why everyone is so crazy about them.  Well, here's my next confession:  I am obsessed with shawls now.  I honestly can't figure out how I ever survived and thrived without them.  AND I finally knitted one with some of that stash yarn I was talking about in my last post.

Ravelry link  
Hanging Mara Shawl
Araucania Atacama- now discontinued  

I was worried about trying to knit one because as I've said before I am a s l o w knitter.  Also, most of the patterns I see getting ooohed and ahhhhed over are lace knit shawls and despite the undeniable beauty of the lace knitting.  I am just not there yet and don't know if I ever will be. Aside from the mind-numbing complicatedness of the lace stitch patterns,  I'm just not a lacey shawl kind of gal so I'm not motivated to figure out how to do something that's, strictly speaking, not even really my style.  But I found this pattern for the Mara shawl and I thought it was perfect.  Exactly the kind of thing I might actually wear and easy as pie to knit.  Now this shawl consists of a whole lotta garter stitch, so if that's not your thing, then you probably wont like this pattern, but while knitting this one I discovered that I really love the garter stitch, especially with a yummy dk variegated yarn.  For the first time in a long time I found myself enjoying a knitting project so much that I really didn't want it to end.  And of course, I finished this one amazingly quickly because I was enjoying it so much.  
Mara stripes

Here's a close up of the color and the stripes I added to make the shawl bigger. It's still not as big as I wanted it to be, but I really used up every scrap of that yarn that I had and it's now discontinued, so that's that.  A word about this yarn:  Yummy!
This is 100% alpaca, which is a very warm fiber.  In the garter stitch it is so squishy and delicious.  I put this shawl on my shoulders any time I'm feeling chilled and in no time at all I am toasty warm.
(I had no idea that just putting a little something warm on your shoulders could make you feel so warm!  I am so in awe of that new discovery.)
Alpace, like wool, can be a little itchy, but so far I'm persevering because I love the warmth so much.

Another confession:  I already bought some more yarn because I want to make another one of these, but next time in a solid color and much bigger.
Yes... obsessed.  

And just to ease my troubled conscience about the abandoned ripple blanket, I also finished a sweater that I started last year and that was languishing in my UFO pile.

Hanging striped raglan
Yarn:  Caron Country

I actually kind of forgot I had started this one.   I think I got discouraged because I knew I wouldn't quite have enough yarn to make the sleeves for this sweater long and at the time I really wanted it to be long sleeved, but after pulling it back out I decided that short sleeves would be just fine and in fact I really actually love the short sleeves.  I think for a long time I thought short-sleeved sweaters were kind of silly.  Like those open-toed boots that were all the rage last fall/winter?  I thought, "What's the point?  If it's cold enough to wear boots/a sweater, then wouldn't you need to cover your toes/arms?"  But living in Houston, I'm now understanding how it can be chilly enough to want a sweater, but not cold enough to need a long sleeved sweater.  And if it gets colder I can always wear a long sleeved shirt underneath and really that's about as cold as it ever gets in Houston.  (Still don't really get those open-toed boots, though.)

And that's about all I can tell you about this sweater.  I have no idea what pattern I used or if I just made it up as I was going along. All I know is that it's a top-down raglan knit in the round and that the yarn is super soft and lovely and machine washable and if it holds up well I'll definitely use it again.
Perhaps on another shawl?