Tuesday, December 21, 2010

In Time for the Holidays

Looking at my yarn stash taking over the guest bedroom, I'm beginning to feel overwhelmed with guilt.  No doubt I won't really stop buying yarn when I see a good deal, but I've promised myself I'll make an effort to knit down my stash a little more.

Starting with Crystal Palace Creme that I purchased nearly 2 years ago, I decided to make a tunic/dress with it.  I had't touched the yarn because I fell out of love with the color.  My taste of color seemed to change all the time.  This becomes a problem when I don't knit newly purchased yarn right away.  But I wonder if I stash it longer, my taste will eventually get back to that color.

This was a simple top-down raglan tunic with no shaping.  I added pockets.  It was fun to figure out adding pockets without any sewing! Seriously, no sewing at all for this entire tunic.  Next time I'll have to place the pockets  an inch or two higher as they sit a bit low to be comfortably resting my hands in them.  However, as far as the look of proportion I think they look better at this position than if they're higher up.

The pockets were simply increased 2 sts  between 2 sts for each pocket on the first round.  Then inc 1 st at outer side of the previously increased sts (for each pocket, 2 sts inc for every round) until desired width (they will fold in half) and at least 4.5" in height.  Then put all the increased sts on waste yarn to be continued after the tunic is done. To finish the tunic, resume back the original sts (before pocket increase) in round.  After the tunic is done, pull the pocket out so the RS is facing, and knit in rounds until desired length.  BO the sts by folding it in half lengthwise so half sts on one needle and the other half on another, and do 3 needle BO.

The tunic was so simple with only neckband  and armbands in seed st, everything else in st st. The neck band was picked up the neck sts at the very end.and knitted seed st for 7 rounds.  I made a more neck opening to the front by CO the back and sleeves as the width I wanted with only 1 sts CO for each front and gradually increased the front and eventually joined in round.  Since I had enough yarn left over, I made a simple cowl to go with it.

Yarn: Crystal Palace Creme. Color 2015, 9.5 balls
Needles: US #6 (and #5 for the neckband and armbands)

While I was knitting the dress, I thought about making a felted jacket.  At first I had something funky in mind with a different color. Then the tested swatches did not work out as I'd pictured, so another idea of making one with some yarn I'd already have in my stash to go with the dress came to me.

I bought the yarn few months back when Elann had bag sales of Elann Peruvian Highland Chunky. The color (Spiced Wine) I thought would be lovely with this dress  I bought enough to do several large swatches to test out the felting.  I made 4 large swatches and felt them at different length of time in the washer.

 Yarn: Elann Peruvian Highland Chunky, Color 727 Spiced Wine, 17 balls
Needles: US#10

The jacket was also super simple in construction, top-down raglan sleeves with pocket holes.  I decided to sew in fabric lining for the pockets afterward (that part I did not enjoy as I'm not that good at sewing) rather than knitted because of the concern for bulkiness.

I put the jacket in the washer with hot water for 7 minutes.  It felted somewhat more than the swatch, sigh, and unfortunately there was a small area that didn't felt quite as much as the rest.  So back in the washer for another minute.  I was disappointed that it felted more than I wanted (I wanted a slightly thinner fabric with a very slight stitch definition,) though the length and width were still within my plan.  

Originally I was going for a straight center front opening with regular collared jacket.  But the collars came out a bit too dramatic of increased flare than I'd like, and the neckline stretched a bit wide even after some sewing with yarn afterwards, so I decided to place buttons at different areas for a different look and better fit.  Now I like it even more than my original plan.   The jacket and the dress go well together as an outfit if I may say so. What I really love is the textural contrast of the matted felt fabric of the jacket that contrast with the pearly sheen of the tunic due to silk in its fiber content.  The contrast helps to break the monochrome when the colors of the two are in the same family.  The Elann Highland is so beautiful in color that there are actually many other colors of  super thin strands mixed in to give it some depth.

I am glad to have finished them in time for the holidays.  I do hope to wear them when I go down to the Bay Area this week. 

Now that I'm on winter break I have plenty of time to knit, so here are couple other quick stash knit down projects I did this week.

First,  "Acadia Shawl - designed by Melisa McCurle".  It was made with Nako Bambu left over from the Red - the Lace Tunic I knitted back in April.  Needle size #8. A very nice pattern, I like this yarn better with this shawl than with the Red tunic.   The color is so rich here.  I only made 8 repeats for the center non-decreased part because I was worrying about running out of yarn.

Yarn: Nako Bambu, 5 balls
Needles: #8

Then I made a hat for Paul using the leftover Elann Peruvian Highland Donegal
The design was called Nottingham by Melissa Mall. 
I liked this design a lot.  Paul loves the hat.  It's definitely warm for the cold winter we're in now. I may make more since it was such a quick knit.  I started it last night and was able to finish it this morning.
He is such a good BF.  Last night I told him that I was making couple of very small (wish I make more money...) donations to dog rescue places, he wrote a check to match my amount plus more even though he is unemployed at this moment (though he gets hired back by the government almost for sure in the spring every year so it's not a scary unemployment like the so many people we know and he actually loves having few months off in winter for snowboarding.) 

Yarn: Elann Peruvian Highland Donegal, 1.3 balls
Needles: #6

Now I'm so ready for the holidays.  I haven't done any gift shopping yet as I absolutely hate going shopping this time of year.  I'll have to come up with ideas of exactly what I was going to get for each person before I get to the store.   Sadly, most of my family don't really care for hand knit items.  I made my mom a beautiful shawl years ago and a sweater, she had not worn them once.  Neither did my older sister with the cashmere cowl I made her.  So it's gonna be store bought this time. 

I hope everyone has a wonderful, and warm holiday season, and peace to all.