Monday is for Ends

These ends to be exact:
East Meets West Satchel - have some more ends
I finished knitting the body of the East Meets West Satchel last night (you'll have to take my word for it that I have already finished -- and even sewn in the ends on -- the strap -- right now a photograph would just look like a rolled bit of knitting, cuz that's pretty much what it is) -- today I must sew in the ends, secure and cut the steek, then pick up the stitches for the intarsia (yuck!) flap. Entering the home stretch as the Olympics enter their final week.

Of course, I lose a whole boatload of knitting time this coming weekend because M and I are going to a workshop Friday evening and all day Saturday, so I need to crank on this. Fortunately, the body pattern (knit starting with 478 stitches and decreasing over 65 rows down to 22) was a bit addictive, so I had no problem spending most of Sunday working on it while watch the Olympics (it has surprised me how easy it has been to knit this and watch the Olympics at the same time). I suppose I should admit that I have a late-night curling problem, so last night's bonus, bonus coverage of the overtime Canada-China women's game gave me the chance to finish the last couple of rounds.

[Anyone else just a bit obsessed with the curling? I have been fascinated by the sport since the first time I saw it (probably on ABC's Wide World of Sports when I was a kid). It's as least as much strategy as physical skill, which I think is probably the biggest reason I find it appealing (that, and how many other Olympic athletes are older than I am, really?). Besides, curling and hockey are the only things we get to see live here in the west. All that stuff the rest of you get to see live -- nope, not us. In fact, last night we watched much of the US-Canada hockey game live as it was happening (and nearly gave the cats heart failure when they scored that empty-netter) -- two hours later, we are watching the delayed broadcast of the prime time coverage on NBC and they break in to the bobsledding to show the end of the hockey game. I try to find it amusing and not annoying and satisfy myself with the fact that a lot of the stuff shown on the "live" prime time broadcast isn't really live anyway.]

East Meets West Satchel - body
Thought you might like to see a picture of the "pretty" side of the body -- pre-blocking, so it's all nice and wrinkly.

Pink and Breezy
Breeze in Hot Pink
Just to prove that it's not all stranded colorwork here, a finished "Breeze" sock in luscious magenta Luscious. This sock is like magic. Not only was it a joy to knit, but it magically fits my wide-ish size 8 feet AND M's narrow-ish size 10s. Now that's a sock I can love. I documented the mods I made to Jennifer's original Knitty pattern on Thursday.

Oh, and the thing that made M say "I hate you" twice in the last week? The strap for this bag starts with a 450-stitch cast-on; the body with a 478-stitch cast-on. Each time, I finished the long tail cast-on with about 16" of yarn left. Purely luck, I swear, but it made my day.

February is for Pink

Honest, I didn't plan it that way, but all of my current projects are some shade of pink or pink and purple:

Band Insertion Complete -- wider view
The East Meets West Satchel kit from KnitPicks in the purples colorway (which is really a whole lot of pink AND purple). This is the strap with the pink flower motif band insertion.

Last night I finished the 24-row insertion -- while watching Lindsey, Shani and Shaun all bring home the gold -- phew! I don't know for whom I am more relieved: myself, or the athletes who managed to live up to the hype.Band Insertion Complete -- short rows

As you can see from this picture the band is shaped with short rows to allow the bottom of the bag to widen gracefully from the handle. It's a very nice construction, and I do like the finished product, but ugh!, stranded colorwork knitted flat just isn't any fun. There's a reason that steeks exist, and I have to say that I am very, VERY happy that the body of the bag is knit in the round and steeked rather than knit in two pieces. But I'm done with that portion now, and it's knitting in the round for the forseeable future (I'm thinking after all that stranded purling, the intarsia of the flap is gonna be nothing).

That picture also gives a hint at one of the "joys" of this kind of colorwork: ends, ends, ends. Is now that proper time to confess that I actually enjoy most of the finishing process, INCLUDING weaving in ends?

Pink Thing #2

Pink Breeze
Okay, this one I confess was planned to be pink, since pink is the February color for the Solid Socks challenge on Ravelry.

Yarn is Kollage Yarns Luscious, a luscious blend of 63% cotton/37% nylon elastic, that is a joy to work with, a little heavier in the knitting than other sock yarns, and oh-so-soft in the wearing. Have I mentioned that I love this yarn? The pattern is Jennifer Appleby's Breeze from Knitty a couple years back.

Because the rules of the challenge specify a complete sock, and to make them more wearable (I wear footies to work out, and that's about it), I'm making these as short socks. I cast on 60 stitches and knit 5 rounds to get the rolled cuff. For the leg, I did two of the cable/lace panel without the garter stitches at the edge (one for the front and one for the back), and since I needed to add 4 more stitches, I added a mock cable at either side (which then splits at the gusset with one stitch going to the front and on becoming part of the heel). Make sense? I also used a simple slip stitch heel rather than the cabled one in the pattern.

Pink Thing #3

So, the bag is for knitting in front of the TV (21 balls of yarn and a whole book for the pattern doesn't make for portability); the Breeze socks are for knitting when the Olympics get too interesting to follow a chart; the Traveling Woman Shawl (pink thing #4) is resting for right now; but Sandy had nothing to knit while sitting in class or a workshop or while watching a movie, so:

A Simple Sock
The most basic-est of socks. Toe-up, short-row (probably) heel, stockinette stitch -- I can knit it in my sleep. Yarn is Filatura di Crosa Maxime Print Soft Socks.

Key-Key and Willow
That cat picture I posted before? Here they are today. Big difference, huh? That first picture was taken last September shortly after we adopted Willow (who was 4.5 months and 4.5 lbs at the time). Willow is now closer to 6 lbs and no longer has a baby face, but as you can see, she and K-Man are still the best of friends.

Back for the Olympics

Yeah, okay, it's been FOREVER, but I have my reasons (a vacation, a move, a crisis at church, a death in the family, a new addition to the family, good reasons all).

So, I am doing Stephanie's Knitting Olympics this year, and I don't want anyone to tell me the project I've chosen isn't challenging enough. It's pretty darn challenging when you consider it needs to be done in two weeks while watching sports on television.
East Meets West Satchel

This is the East Meets West Satchel kit in the purple colorway. I bought it for M for Christmas, knowing that she wasn't going to tackle it, but also knowing she fell in love with it when we first saw it in the catalog. I am looking forward to working on it, especially since my knitting of late has consisted of a lot of lace and a lot of felting (which I promise to share with the blog over the next few days). It'll be a nice change of pace to do some colorwork on tiny needles.

As you can see, I've already made myself a color card. There are 21 different colors in this thing, half of which are shades of pink and purple I could never keep straight without some help. My fingers are itching to cast on tonight.

Just off the needles (and off the blocking board):
Leaf and Trellis Shawl

Pattern: Leaf and Trellis Shawl from Victorian Lace Today
Yarn: Classic Elite Silky Alpaca Lace in garnet, used approx 1145m
Needles: Knit Picks nickel-plated interchangeable 4mm with 32" cable and Knit Picks Harmony 8" DP 4mm for the border
Mods: As have many people with patterns from this book, I was going to run out of yarn if I used the beautiful border in the book, so I doodled up a very simple border which echoes the trellis pattern in the body of the shawl and allowed me to complete the shawl with 14g of yarn to spare. Also, the Silky Alpaca Lace is slightly finer than the yarn called for in the pattern, so I went down a needle size.

This is my first entry in the 10 Shawls in 2010 Challenge on Ravelry. I had originally hoped and planned to have it done in January, but it seemed to have a mind of its own (and then there was the freak eye injury thanks to one of the cats that kept me sidelined from knitting anything more complex than a garter-stitch blanket for a couple of days), so it wasn't off the needles until this past Wednesday.

I thoroughly enjoyed the knitting of this project and have become a convert to the knitted-on border idea. It's a little awkward at first, what with all that weight of the body getting in the way of working on the border, but once I was under way it was a delight. And I love the stitch pattern so much that I actually plan on making us some curtains (okay, valances and/or cafe curtains) using it sometime soon.

Next up for the 10 Shawls Challenge, Traveling Woman by Liz Abinante (aka Feministy). I already have the feeling that this will become (like my Daybreak Shawl has) a favorite:
Traveling Woman Shawl

The yarn is Handarbeitskrom by Selana Handpainted Sock Yarn in colorway "Pink is Beautiful", and I am loving the way the colors (more purple than pink, really) play in the stockinette portion of the shawl. I will probably keep this one around for the Olympics for when I need a break from colors and charts and just want to watch Shaun White flip and fly.

Check back soon for details on this:
Big Brother

And why we are now trying to furnish a massive outdoor room.