January 28, 2014

A knitter on hold

You may have seen this coming if you've been checking my blog and noticed I haven't been posting.  I haven't been posting because I haven't been knitting :(

I'm currently trying to propose a thesis project to occupy the rest of my time in grad school. In my older posts I talk about how I choose knit projects beyond my skill level and don't really think of what I'm getting into. Well, that's how I do science too. My proposed project is very much out of my element, and even out of the realm of my lab overall. Knitting and blogging need to take a hiatus so I can propose a fantastic (I'd settle for reasonable) thesis project. Sadly my WIP, and my little blog will continue to be neglected for about 2 months. Because science!


December 10, 2013

Knit Dreams

If I had infinite time, or even just a little more time, I would knit So. Much. Stuff. My queue, library, and favorites grow every time I go on Ravelry. There are so many amazing and talented designers, releasing such stylish and creative patterns! I get the impression that knitting is still considered a "granny craft," in which case grannies know what's up. When I first started perusing knitwear patterns, and still thought knitting was the realm of old women I remember thinking "If this old women's fashion they've got me beat!" But in reality it seems all ages are represented amongst knitters, with all sorts of fashions.

Ravelry has this fantastic feature for pattern highlights. Until yesterday, I hadn't checked out Ravelry's suggestions for me in weeks. Here are some knits I love that found their way into my pattern highlights page. What are you dreaming of knitting?

1. Aiken, by Andi Satterlund.

2. Light Trails, by Suvi Simola.

3. Issara, by Anne Kuo Lukito.

4. Foxy Dress, by Jacqueline Schiller.

5. Trilinear, by Cindy Garland.

6. On the Road Again, by Joji Locatelli.

December 3, 2013

New Yarn!

Ok, well it's sort of new yarn. I've had for about 2 months, and made a gauge swatch with it about a month ago, and finally have cast on a project with it. A while ago I noticed my Instagram feed was heavy with green and grey knitwear, and my wardrobe had a lot of black and cool colors. I also had a new design in mind, and it seemed like a perfect opportunity to break out of my fashion comfort zone and make something in a new color. I decided I wanted a deep red, wine colored yarn in a worsted weight. And so the hunt for the perfect color began!

I loved Quince and Co.'s new color, Malbec, but it wasn't released at the time, and I wanted to try a new yarn. I've always been curious about Manos del Uruguay, but I didn't want something that variegated for this. I also looked into a lot of Etsy hand dyers. Overall, I discovered a lot of cool and enticing new yarn purveyors. Lorna's Laces almost reeled me in with some lovely deep reds, and O-Wool is now very high up on my list of yarns to try. But I'm very particular and all of these awesome yarns were just slightly, slightly off from the color I wanted.

I spent a couple of weeks looking at yarns, and really wishing I had a local yarn store (alas!). I kept coming back to Malabrigo's Merino Worsted in their deep burgundy.  I originally wanted a true solid, but my current design is so simple I think Malabrigo's subtle variegation will add some extra loveliness (assuming my design works!). But I had used this yarn before for my Tourist sweater, and I really wanted to try something new. Try a new yarn, or go with one you know you love? In the end it was the prices that got me. Here's the reality of the situation: a lot of the lovely, small business, hand dyed yarns were way too expensive. $20-30 for a 100g skein is not feasible for the amount of yarn I needed and the amount of my grad stipend. I went with Malabrigo, which I found on sale for a super reasonable price. No new yarn for this project, but I do get to nuzzle Merino Worsted like a weirdo! But if anyone has any yarn recommendations for me, I'd love to hear them! What are you favorite yarns?

November 26, 2013

The most epic of meals, Thanksgiving.

No real posts for this week because it's Thanksgiving! We, meaning some friends from my lab and I, are hosting the 3rd Annual Grad Thanksgiving.  None of us live close enough to our families to go home and see them, so we've made our own family here.  I didn't plan on tackling a Thanksgiving turkey until I was in my 30s, and none of us planned on hosting Thanksgiving while our parents were still alive, but life had different plans. And we rose to the challenge! Our Thanksgiving is complete with turkey, garlicy mashed parsnips and potatoes, cresent roles, homemade gravy and cranberry sauce, apple and pumpkin pie (with homemade crusts!), multiple veggie sides and salads, a smattering of appetizers, and a decent amount of booze.  For the hosts, we have all day snacking and there is ne'er an empty cup to be seen. It's like a real adult Thanksgiving, but without all the family drama that one racists uncle causes.

Sorry no knitting, but enjoy these lovely leaves.
But this most awesome of days requires a lot of planning on our parts, while still pulling regular lab hours.  So unfortunately knitting is on the back burner this week.  I hope everyone enjoys the time off with their friends and families, and stuffs themselves most abundantly. Happy Thanksgiving, from the hostesses with the mostest!

November 18, 2013

Design my own knitwear: Check. Please welcome Iris Sweater.

A while ago I thought a raglan sweater with sleeves in a different color than the body would look cool, and those sleeves would be even cooler if they had some sort of fair isle pattern in them. Kind of like a long sleeved baseball T-shirt. That's got to be on Raverly, baseball is popular right? Turns out I couldn't find what I had in mind. So I thought, hey, why not make it myself! How hard can it be? Remember how I said I tend to start things and have no idea what I'm doing, or what I'm getting into? Yeah. Now I think there was a reason the design wasn't on Ravelry (until now!) It's because it's kind of pain in the ass to make, at least until you separate the sleeves from the body.

 "Is it going to be that short? And the neckline looks bad"-Mom
I had an image in my mind of what I wanted, and also how I wanted to do it...sort of. I did not know I had to learn intarsia knitting if I wanted the sleeves to actually be connected to the body. Nor that I would have 7 little wads of yarn to work with until I separated the sleeves. And ok, I get that a lot of raglans have you work flat for some neckline shaping and stuff. But I did not know that my intarsia sleeves did not lend themselves to round knitting. So I had to roll with it and shape the neckline into more of a scoop-neck and keep on knitting flat all the way till the sleeves were separated.

Don't worry Mom, I'm not making a boob shirt.
Once I figured the top out, the rest would be easy! Just plain circular knitting with some waist shaping. Except I didn't figure out beforehand how many decreases or increases to make, or how often. Patterns usually have sizing all spelled out for you! Oh but I'm making this up...crap. When I thought I was done I noticed the top fit fine, but the bottom didn't, and had to rip out my stitches about 10 inches. It made me sad.

Then it came time to write the pattern. Generally patterns exist in real or virtual space. As in someone wrote up what they did, instead of leaving it in their head. I wrote down what I was doing, while I was doing it, about 75% of the time. I think I did a pretty good job filling in the rest to make a pattern that can re-produce my sweater, but I didn't feel comfortable writing the pattern for other sizes when I had to reverse engineer instructions.

Ok enough complaining! Yes, this was hard to design, and I messed up my own design a few times in the process. But I'm very pleased with how Iris turned out. Plus I learned lots of knitting skillz for future designs. So, without further ado: Iris Sweater is available as a free PDF download on Ravelry or by clicking this link: http://www.ravelry.com/dls/stephanie-bora-designs/182625?filename=Iris_Sweater.pdf. I'm not charging for something that could have a decent amount of errors. So if you try making this and run into trouble or find errors, please contact me! I'd be happy to help as much as I can, and I'd like to fix errors in my pattern as they come up. Once you get the concept of how this sweater is constructed it's pretty straightforward, but keep in mind that it uses round and flat knitting, and intarsia and fair isle color work, so it may not be best for beginning knitters. Though that never stopped me. Enjoy!

November 12, 2013

The days of getting crazy on my birthday are over.

I'm convinced I'm a 70 year old man stuck in a 26 year old woman's body. The evidence to back my case? I like scotch.  I get all grumpy when the hoards of students get out of class at the same time on my campus, and I complain about "the youths" not being able to text and walk at the same time. My boss recently told me I make her feel young. I'm a curmudgeon. Not so long ago, my birthday celebrations matched my age better.  But this year my birthday drove home how lame I've become:  I was really, really looking forward to spending the weekend knitting, making dinner with my boyfriend, and watching movies.  Lock up your sons because this lady was getting wild!

Yeah not so much.  I didn't get crazy, but I did start working on a new knitting project! I made a 6 inch gauge swatch, and blocked it and everything. I hate doing this, so I'm giving myself a pat on the back right now. I also received a much appreciated and useful gift: a yarn bowl. Sadly a piece was broken when I opened it, but nothing some Epoxy couldn't fix.

So my days of waking up hungover after my birthday are gone, but so are my days of chasing yarn balls rolling around my floor.

November 4, 2013

Favorite Fall Sweater!

Halloween is a milestone in fall. Usually by Halloween it's consistently chilly, a lot of trees are bare, and hooray it's always sweater weather! This fall has been a little wishy-washy though. One day it's a brisk 40 degrees, the next it's 65 and humid. But now after Halloween, for which your faithful blogger sported a beard, it seems like sweater season is staying. This post is devoted to the ultimate reason for knitting, the one piece of knitwear that everyone can relate to, loves, and covets: The Fall Sweater.

My favorite fall sweater is Joji's Tourist, in the same mustardy yellow she originally made. I think it's a color that could go horribly wrong on me, but it's so perfect for fall I had to try it out. And after making Helene, I wanted a break from lace.  A simple pattern using a warm, worsted merino wool really resonated with me. This was my first time using merino wool, and I fell in love at first touch. Hmm...that sounds kind of weird. But it's just so soft: how could I not nuzzle it? Ok, not any less weird.
I almost wish this pattern gave me more trouble, or some knitting epiphany so I would have some more amusing anecdotes to write about. But this pattern was smoothing sailing from cast on to bind off, and it knit up quickly. The ribbed collar and buttoned pocket lend it an elegant style, but in essence it's a simple raglan in stockinette stitch.
Pocket for increased coziness.  Oh and storing stuff, I guess. 
What makes this the ultimate fall sweater? It's got a big pocket to stuff my hands into on colder days. It's got a collar for ultimate snuggles. It's super soft. It's got a little positive ease for enhanced coziness. And for the cherry on top, the color is perfect for fall. And that's my Fall Sweater: simple, cozy, and stylish.  What's your favorite fall sweater?
Oh hi! I couldn't see you over there because I need a haircut!