Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cable Fee-vah

I've given two of my recent "secret projects", so, details:

Chickadee Cowls

The first secret project was pretty much a carbon copy of the Chickadee Cowl I made for myself with the Yarn Bee Mosaic Twist-- same color, even.  (That's the two of them together in the photo above.)

That pattern is such a joy to knit.  So simple!  So fast!  So much fun to watch the colors interact!  I recommend it highly for even a new knitter.  Once you get over any fear you may have of knitting in the round, you're ready to go.

I'm calling this the Froot Loop Cowl because of the name of the yarn’s colorway-- “Fruity”-- and the fact that a cowl is basically a big loop of fabric.  (Froot Loops... I wish I were a skinny little kid again and could eat sugary cereals with no repercussions.)

Chickadee Cowl

Even the "wrong" side of the linen stitch is pretty, so it's reversible, if you like:

Chickadee Cowl

I've seen some very covet-able linen stitch scarves knit from odds and ends of yarn-- a good potential use for all these shorter "leftover" lengths of bulky yarn I'm accumulating.

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The second secret project was another cowl/neckwarmer, but I was out of appropriate yarn for Chickadee Cowls, so I decided to try my hand at cables.

The Quick Cabled Cowl uses bulky/super bulky yarn, so it's another project that works up very quickly-- perfect for gift-making.  I think the pattern has a sophisticated, modern look.

Quick Cabled Cowl

a01

Quick Cabled Cowl

I made the buttons from polymer clay (and a little mica powder and liquid polymer clay), since I didn't have any of the right size/color on hand.  

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The cowls/neckwarmers were part of a thank-you gift for Mom and Kimberly (I made two different neckwarmers and left it for them to choose) for checking in our dogs while we went to Atlanta a couple of times to take care of Donald’s citizenship test/ceremony.  (He is officially an American citizen now!  It still hasn't really sunken in for me, though.)

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On the drive to/from Atlanta, I spent a little time knitting.  Still not much time, but some.  I'd lined up a special super-easy project just for the occasion-- the "Wham Bam Thank You Lamb" neckwarmer.  However, since I used an acrylic/alpaca mix yarn, it's more like "Wham Bam, Thank You Alpaca... and Whoever Invented Acrylic Yarn".  ;o)

Wham Bam Neckwarmer

The yarn is Yarn Bee's Andes Alpaca.  I'll admit, it was an impulse (and coupon-inspired) purchase.  The yarn was so pretty and soft that I gave in to temptation, even though I wasn't sure what I'd make with it.  I figured the right pattern would present itself.  Even though it's thinner than the yarn recommended for the Wham Bam neckwarmer, I think it works-- assuming you don't require a large, heavy-duty neckwarmer. (Down here, I'll probably get more use out of a slightly lighter neckwarmer, anyway.)

I'm not sure how I feel about my seam, which is anything but invisible.  I might possibly crochet some flowers in finer gauge yarn to cover the seam.  The again, maybe not.

Wham Bam Neckwarmer

Andes Alpaca has mixed reviews on Ravelry.  I didn't have any problems with it-- no big knots... still silky soft even after knitted.  It did shed a little during knitting, and it may shed more when worn, but you know what?  I share my home with an American Eskimo Dog; I'm used to long, white hairs on ev.er.y.thing.   So a few loose alpaca hairs aren't a big deal, as far as I'm concerned.  If you do freak out over a stray white hair or two on your clothes, this might not be a good yarn for you, though.

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The "big" secret projects (two of them) are growing at an acceptable pace.  I think of them as being 33% done, but really, the last "third" (in my mental division of the project) is smaller than the first two-thirds... so it's probably more like 40% done.  Anyway, I've started Phase Two, which is exciting.  (I was getting a little burned out on Phase One.)

Sorry, no photos.  I don't want to risk ruining the surprise.  Unfortunately, Christmas is such a loooong time away, these will have to remain incognito for months to come. 

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After enjoying working the chunky cables in that neckwarmer, I decided to tackle another cable project-- also an excellent excuse to use some of the hand-dyed wool I've been blogging about. 

The pattern is the Celtic Cable Neckwarmer, and because the color of the yarn reminded me of Spanish moss, I put that in the name of my project

I started out using a cable needle, but soon tired of constantly juggling the cable needle (since it had to be inserted and removed multiple times in some rows).  Holding the cable needle between my lips when it wasn't in use was the best solution I could come up with (better than setting it down and picking it up each and every time), but that didn't solve the problem of how the yarn didn't want to get out of the cable needle's "yarn-holding groove" quickly and easily.  

The whole process was just way too messy, so I gave in and looked at a video about knitting cables without a cable needle.  I won't say it's always a speedy, easy-breezy technique (for me, at this point), but for this pattern, it's preferable to the frequent manipulating of a cable needle.  (I'll save cable needles for patterns with larger cables and/or less twisting of the cables.)

Here; enjoy a couple of not-so-great photos of my progress as of a few days ago:

Celtic Cable Neckwarmer


Celtic Cable Neckwarmer

I have to say-- even if it sounds like I'm tooting my own horn ;o)-- I'm amazed to be knitting "fancy" cables like this when I only really started knitting five months ago.  Admittedly, I'm knitting them at a snail's pace, and they're not absolutely perfect in every way, but what I'm knitting is recognizable as the Celtic Cable Neckwarmer!  It looks pretty complicated (imho), and when I knitted that first dishcloth back in October, I never would have believed I could handle something like this by February.  Not that I'm a knitting pro-- not at all-- or anything like that... Just, it's not as difficult as I'd expected to pick up the basics and gradually build on them.  

If you've been put off the idea of knitting because you're afraid it's too hard for you to learn--  I promise you, it's really not.  If you can crochet, you can knit (and vice versa).  Just give it a little time.  Find the learning method that suits you best.  (Books with diagrams?  Video tutorials?  A live, in-person instructor?)  Have patience with yourself, stick with it, and it will gradually get easier and better-looking.  

Also-- it doesn't seem to matter how long you've been knitting or crocheting-- the first little bit of a project is often the hardest part.  Getting started can be daunting; frequently those first rows or rounds don't look as expected, and you start to wonder if you're doing it right or even if this project is beyond your abilities.  Work the pattern a little longer before giving up and ripping out your work.  So many times, it will seem to magically snap into shape after a few more rows.

Well, enough rambling.  (This has been one of those "write a little now, write a little later" entries.)