Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Malabrigo Mittens

Malabrigo mittens

pattern: my own
yarn: 1 hank Malabrigo (100% merino wool / 215 yds per 100g) in Geranio with lots leftover
needles: Brittany Birch size 7 dpns, Inox aluminum size 6 dpns
gauge: 20sts x 8 rows / 4"
date finished: October 13, 2005 (or something around there)

My first mittens! I'm pretty happy with how they turned out. They definitely fit me, but there are a few changes I'd make next time around... I think I'd get rid of the extra stockinette section between the ribbing and the thumb gusset (or maybe reduce it to 1 or 2 rows), and the thumb could be a little wider. Nothing so bad that I'd want to frog and re-knit these, though!

Malabrigo mitten

I am completely and totally in love with this yarn. It is SO soft and cushy. I'm a little scared to wear the mittens because I don't want to mess them up! I brought them to knitting group last night, and all the ladies there said they looked nice, but then once one person touched them, they insisted that everyone else touch them. Because they're okay to look at, but they're fabulous to touch. ;)

I think I'm going to buy 2 more hanks of Malabrigo for my sister's birthday present. My plan is to make her a hat and mittens, and then give her what's left to make a scarf because she's a beginning knitter who has never worked with such a soft, yummy wool. Actually, within the past week or 2, I've decided to knit a whole lot of presents... we'll see how far I can get. Here's the plan:

Zigzag hat in sparkly white Woolease
For Katie, one of my best friends from college, whose birthday is November 11... I'm almost finished.
Branching Out in dark brown Andean Treasure from Knitpicks
For Lauren, my other best friend from college, the one who sent me the white wool from VT! Her birthday is November 14... I just started this last night, it's my first "real" lace project so it's going kind of slow so far but I think I can get it done in time.
Besotted Scarf in tan Andean Silk
For my dad, as a Hanukkah present. I'm not sure exactly when Hanukkah is this year, but my dad will be forgiving if it's a little late (I hope).
scarf in green Suri Dream
For my mom, also for Hanukkah. I'm going to play with the yarn and see if it will show any texture at all, because I think a mistake rib could look really nice, but if the fuzz obscures any stitch definition then I'll just stick to garter stitch.
hat and mittens out of Malabrigo
For my sister (mentioned above)

The chances I'll get to knit anything for myself in the next 2 months? Slim to none. Ah well. At least I have new mittens and a new sweater to tide me over. :)

Thursday, October 20, 2005


haley - side view

pattern: Haley, from Berroco pattern book #220
yarn: 8 balls Berroco Pleasure (66% angora, 29% merino wool, 5% nylon / 130 yds per 50g ball) in rich blue (#8631)
needles: Denises size 10.5
gauge: 16 sts x 24 rows / 4"
date finished: October 15, 2005

My first long sleeve sweater is done, and I could not be more pleased! (Get it? Pleased? Because I used Pleasure? Har. Har. Har.)

I noticed this pattern many many months ago, and instantly fell in love with both the sweater and the description of the yarn. But at its original price, I could only dream. Then, as seems to happen with many nice yarns, Pleasure was discontinued. And then, Webs offered it at a very heavy discount (over 50% off, before their additional 20% discount!) and I started fantasizing about this sweater again. Before I knew it, 10 balls of blue angora and a pattern book were at my doorstep! I couldn't wait to get started... but, there were many moments of hesitation along the way.

  1. I didn't like the way the model was posed in the original picture. I've learned to be skeptical of photos that aren't taken straight on, because who knows what could be hiding? The picture is certainly clear enough, but I got worried about her crossed arms, and I also couldn't imagine what the back of the sweater would have to look like to get the wrap effect.
  2. After looking over the pattern a few times and deciding that there shouldn't be anything weird going on where she had her arms crossed, I noticed the labelled difficulty level: "ultra-experienced." Looking back, I can only imagine that it got that label because of the confusing construction, and possibly because of the short rows used on the wrap... the knitting itself was fairly straightforward, and mostly stockinette.
  3. The pattern specifically said it should be made with no ease, but the smallest size was for a 34.5" bust, and I have a 32" bust. Lots of math ensued.
  4. The shaping of the body seemed strange to me... the original shape called for knitting straight until the waist, and then decreasing up to the bust. I felt like that would just hang off my torso and lower back, so I changed it to more typical waist shaping with decreases followed by increases. Yet more math.
  5. I had to make 3 gauge swatches to get gauge on this, first with 10.5s, then 11s, and then again on the 10.5s but a little more loosely. I've gotta get myself some 10.75s, I think. On the plus side, when I did finally get the correct gauge, both my stitch and row gauge were dead on.
  6. The front and back are different sizes on this sweater - the front is a little wider than the back. I (thought I) started with the back, got up to the armholes, and realized that I had cast on too many stitches from the beginning! Luckily, I had managed to start with exactly the number needed for the front, so I continued with that and didn't have to frog.

Here's a straight-on view:

haley, from the front

And from the back (it doesn't really ride up like that, I just forgot to adjust before the picture):

haley, from the back

The result of my mom taking pictures (ie, you see more of me and less of the sweater):

haley again

Lying flat, sort of (most accurate color in this pic, I think):

haley lying flat

And some seam closeups:

back top (shoulders & wrap)
left armhole front

I am soooo happy with how this turned out! The fit is perfect (you might think that the sleeves look long, but I tend to like sleeves that come up to my knuckles, so these are just right) and all the pieces came together very well. I'd knit a few tanktops and short-sleeve sweaters before, but this was my first long-sleeve sweater, and I learned a very important lesson: knitting sleeves sucks. I was cursing them the whole way through. Just miles and miles of boring stockinette, and they keep getting wider as you go... eventually you become convined that you will be knitting sleeves forever. If I hadn't been so eager to finish the sweater, they'd probably still be sitting half-completed on the couch.

But I had the loveliness of the yarn to keep me going... oh, the yarn. It knits up at 4 sts/in but it is far from chunky or bulky. In fact, it makes a very light, airy fabric... though at the same time, it's incredibly warm. This sweater almost has a built-in scarf, and even with the temperature dropping here in Massachusetts, it hasn't been cold enough to wear it yet! The yarn is amazingly soft, and because of the woven texture and the bit of nylon, it feels very durable (which I've heard isn't true of other angora yarn). It's fairly fuzzy and has a tendency to shed, so I'm not sure how it would display more complicated stitch patterns, but I think it's perfectly suited for all this stockinette. I've been spending a decent amount of time trying to find another pattern that I could use this yarn with, to justify buying another bag from Webs. ;) (Oh - one thing worth mentioning - I did find more knots than I'm used to. Five or 6 balls had one knot each, and one ball had 2. I'd complain if the yarn weren't discontinued, but eh, what can you do?)

see all project photos

Up next: finished mittens!

Saturday, October 15, 2005


Well, it took a 4-hour drive in the pouring rain, but I'm back at my parents house in NY for the weekend. Being here is so nice and relaxing, especially after a not-so-great week. (I am feeling much better now, thanks for your get-well thoughts!) But, there were a few things along the way that made my week better... I finished knitting Haley, and had to buy 2 new towels just to block her:

the sweater that ate my floor

Now she is dry but still in pieces - the plan for the day is to sit down in front of the TV and have a big seaming party. Also, I finished these:

mitten #1

Only one was done when I took that picture, but I'm happy to say that the other looks very similar. The yarn pooled and striped in almost exactly the same way. I wasn't really following a pattern, and would definitely change some things next time around, but overall I really like these mittens, and of course they are Malabrigo so they are incredibly soft and cozy.

And the week was punctuated by not one, but TWO great packages! The first was from Karen, who hosted the Knitty SP4 and wanted to make up for the fact that I never got a third package from my secret pal (who also still hasn't revealed herself - secret pal, are you out there?). She definitely went above and beyond - lots of koigu and chocolate! What more could I ever want?

package from karen

That's almost the complete package, there... um... may have been a few more of the little candies. But they're so tasty, I couldn't resist!

And then, the next day, I got this package from my (non-knitter) friend Lauren, who spent part of the summer in Vermont:

package from lauren

A mini-jug of maple syrup (yum!) and a hank of white wool, spun from the sheep at Shelburne Farms in VT. I'm thinking the yarn will make a great felted bag, it was such a thoughtful gift!

And also, because I never posted a picture of it, here are the goodies I got from Allena that came along with the amazing socks:

package from my sockapal2za pal

Hee, I'm a lucky lucky girl. Now I just have to sort through my stash/go shopping and figure out what to send in return for these lovely gifts!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

*cough cough*

Blargh, I am SO TIRED OF BEING SICK. Since Tuesday morning, I've left my room twice for class, once for a seminar, once for free pizza, and once for a fire alarm. Oh, and once for a completely worthless trip to the medical center. That is... not much. Apparently all I have is a cold, which I usually think of as something I can work around or get over quickly. But not this time. My throat is sore, I keep coughing and sneezing, and my congestion is a little better today but my sinuses were so backed up yesterday that I felt like my head was about to explode. Today alone I've watched 4 episodes of Law and Order and 2 Sandra Bullock movies. I am BORED, yet I don't have the energy to do anything more than sitting around.

But I'm just whining. I know that I'm whining. I'll be much less complain-y when I'm not sick, I promise. :) And I want to thank all the girls in the Knitty chat for providing me with some sort of companionship over the past 2 days - after sitting here on the couch by myself for way too many hours, it was a welcome change to at least be able to type to people. The boy has been very thoughtful too, calling me a few times a day to check up on me.

Possibly the only good thing to come out of all this is that I've been knitting a lot, whenever I felt good enough to sit up. All the knitting for Haley is finished, if I'm feeling better tomorrow I will block it (first need to go to Target for some sort of basin to wash it in). Normally I like to seam before blocking, but I don't know if this sweater will lie flat once it's all seamed up, so I'm going to try blocking first. Oh, and I also finished mitten #1 out of the heavenly Malabrigo. Pictures to come tomorrow... now it is time to sleep, and hope I'm feeling all better when I wake up. :-/

Monday, October 03, 2005

what can i say, i'm a sucker for softness

Between the Boston Knit-Out yesterday and the knitting group today, there has been so much knitting in the past 2 days - life should always be like this! The Knit-Out was a lot of fun... I met Stariel and Grumperina, in both cases I was a weird combination of excited and embarrassed to recognize someone from the internet. The embarrassment almost won out, but I figured I had nothing to lose, so I went up and introduced myself to both of them, and even though I talked to each of them very briefly, I'm glad I mustered up the courage to do so. :)

There were two large tents set up there with tables and booths from a lot of local yarn stores. I went with a friend of mine and most of our conversations went like this:

me: "Oh my gosh, this yarn is amazing, come feel this!"
Bridget: "Oooooh you're right, what is it?"
[pause to search for label/ask person at the booth]
me: "... oh. Cashmere. Moving along..."

But then, at the Windsor Button table, something new and different:

me (while petting a scarf): "OH you have to touch this! And look at the amazing colors!"
Bridget: "How do you always find the cashmere??"
person working at booth: "That's not cashmere, it's merino. Called Malabrigo - only $12 for 215 yards!"

I'd heard of Malabrigo before, of course, because I obsessively look up yarn on the internet... and I'd heard that it was incredibly soft, unimaginably soft, but somehow I was still surprised when I touched it. Windsor Button gave out 10% discount coupons at their booth, and the shop was a 2 minute walk from Boston Commons, and I wanted yarn to make myself a pair of mittens anyway, so I came away with this:

purchases from windsor button

The addi turbo is there because I saw someone knitting 2 socks on one circular and I got inspired. Two balls of Regia are sitting waiting for me at a shop in NY, my mom is going to pick them up for me and bring them with her next weekend when she comes up to Boston to visit me. I already cast on the Malabrigo (even though I'm just making mittens, I'm going to knit and wash a swatch first based on Jane's experience with this yarn) and it really feels like knitting with a soft, fluffy cloud.

Luckily, I don't have to compare the softness of yarns, because it would really be a toss up between Malabrigo and Pleasure. I may have trouble knitting with anything else after these super-soft projects! The Pleasure is so nice that I've been working on my sweater much more than I probably should, but I just can't put it down. I finished the front at the Knit-Out, it has got to be one of the most strangely-shaped sweater fronts ever:

longest sweater front ever?

To give a better sense of how honkin' huge this thing is, I laid my new scarf down on top of it:

front of haley sweater, with a scarf for comparison

Yep, the sweater is longer! What's funny is that I doubt I would have had the same drive to finish if I were working on a scarf the same length as the sweater front, even though it would have been much skinner and thus much faster, because... well, when I was done, all I'd have is a scarf! Instead of this gorgeous wrap sweater. I tried to pin the front together the way it will sit once everything is seamed up... I've made a whole lot of modifications to this pattern but I have to say, the construction is ingenious.

haley front wrap (sort of)

I don't have a photo of the back yet, but I cast on for it yesterday and I'm already past the armholes, so it should be done pretty soon. ;) Especially because I think I'm getting sick (ugh) and might spend the next day or 2 on the couch with nothing better to do than knit!