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Tres Chic Veronique


And I'm off!

I'm leaving today for a quick visit to my family in France.
Of course, I'm looking forward to the 7 hour flight... Any knitter knows why: uninterrupted knitting time! However, this means searching high and low in the stash and glancing through all my pattern books and magazines to find the perfect travelling project. It needs to be portable of course, but it also helps if there is no measuring to do. I don't think that spreading half of a sweater on those tiny airplane tables to see if you need to bind off for the armholes already is not really ideal.... So I've shelved the Phildar green cardi. It also helps if you can memorize the pattern, because jet lag and looking out the window of the plane or train can be very distracting.

Therefore, I had no other option than to cast on for 2 projects. I had to.

On the left: another Birch, this one using Karabella Lace Mohair in Mint, on size 6 Bryspuns. I think the Karabella yarn is thicker than the Habu Mohair, but thinner than KSH, so I made the executive decision to use size 6 needles. Let's hope it's a good guess.
On the right: Gentlemen's Socks with Lozenge Pattern, from Vintage Socks, in Habu's Silky Wool, size 1 needles (for my dad, even though I don't think I can be done with them before the end of my trip. But hopefully it will warm his heart to see me knitting something for him for a change). Unfortunately, this pattern is for gigantic socks: men's 11! My dad has smaller feet, he wears a size 41. Why do all my projects involve math? I decided to cut 10 st from the pattern, going from 80 to 70. Keep your fingers crossed.
Oh, what's that in the middle? Why it's an unblogged Candy from Knitty. I knit this 2 years ago, then realized it was a little snug and shelved it. I'm gifting it to my sister, uh as soon as I add buttons to it.

By Veronique
On Monday, April 24, 2006
At 4/24/2006 11:51:00 AM



I hereby present to you.... Birch! (and a new haircut, courtesy of Vidal Sassoon).

Project specs:
Birch, from Rowan 34

Yarn: Habu Mohair/Silk in charcoal. Let me end the will-she-have-enough-yarn suspense right here: it turns out that 2 oz is plenty for a shawl. I actually have yarn left over. Now please stop laughing.

Needles: US 4, 35" Crystal Palace bamboo. (I know I've complained about these needles before: the coily cable, the large joins and the splitty bamboo come to mind, and yet, I keep on using them: they are the perfect size for shawls. I need to get my hands on some US 4 29" Bryspuns!).

Started: Hmm, I remember ripping my first attempt on US 7s when Lisa's mom was visiting, March 31st. I tried again on US6s, and ripped it again. At that point, I was digusted at myself for perpetually choosing projects with gauge issues (Rapunzel anyone?) and gave it a rest. So I think I really started on April 6th or 7th.

Finished: April 18th, while thinking of Sassy and Sassy Baby.
Let me tell you, this is pretty intense knitting. I knit in the morning before going to work, I knit during lunch, and I basically did not go out because I just wanted to go home and knit on Birch every evening. It is that addicting. That being said, I still cannot believe that Angela knit hers in 10 days. 10 days?! Damn.

It wasn't until I was done that I found Mason Dixon's "Top 10 Things to Remember While Knitting Birch". Damn. It turns out that I only followed (unwittingly) one of these tips: #2.

(Note: Can you see the construction on FDR Drive at the bottom of the first picture? They've demolished and been re-building the 61st St access ramp since May 2005. It will open this monday, so the construction team has been working themselves to a frenzy. Construction begins at 2am. Except last night, when they started at 1:43am. Or you could avert your eyes from the construction and admire a little piece of the 59th St bridge and the flowering trees on the -now tramless- Roosevelt Island).

By Veronique
On Thursday, April 20, 2006
At 4/20/2006 04:27:00 PM


Birch suspense continues...

Saturday morning:
I've used 51% of the yarn.

And I've knit 51% of the shawl. Yay!

Monday morning:
I've used 74% of the yarn.
I've knitted 76% of the shawl. Woo hoo!
Here's what it looks like to far:

Note #1: The 2 mugs are used as weights as this *&%^$#@ plastic cord will not lay flat. I'm using Crystal Palace US4 needles, and I did dunk the cord in boiling water to straighten it just before casting on. In my experience, this keeps the cord flat for a few hours, but inevitably, the cord goes back to its coiled state... Why?! Any tricks out there?

Note #2: I'm obsessed with Birch and have not been knitting much on the Phildar Cabled Cardi (that's the back you see in the photo). The Phildar Rivage yarn is murder: flat synthetic ribbon, no stretch whatsoever so it hurts my hands. But it's so pretty!

Note #3: Yes, I could've knit Kiri instead of Birch and avoided all the headaches: with Kiri, you just bind off when you run out of yarn. Although both shawls are composed of the same little leaves, there are crucial stylistic differences. Birch is made in one "block" so the leaves are lined up throughout, whereas Kiri has a middle yo-k1-yo "seam" which makes the leaves form a V. Also, Birch has straight edges, whereas Kiri has scalloped edges. In my opinion, Kiri is a more traditional-looking shawl, and Birch much more modern. Finally, I have to confess that I usually have more energy at the beginning of a project, and progressively run out of steam. This means that the Birch design is perfect for me: it starts with really long rows and ends with much shorter rows. So just as I'm sick of the pattern, the rows shrink!

Note #4: There is not a single store in Manhattan which carries Rowan's All Season Cotton. I've checked The Yarn Connection, The Yarn Company, Downtown Yarns, Seaport Yarn, Knit NY, Purl, even the dreaded Stitches East. Last year, Brooklyn General carried it, but I couldn't go there saturday and they are closed on sundays. (A little more whine: I shlepped all the way to The Yarn Tree yesterday, and they were closed, even though their website says they're open on sundays! Boo!).

By Veronique
On Monday, April 17, 2006
At 4/17/2006 12:08:00 PM


Why do I do this to myself?

I'm addicted to Birch. So much so that I've put the Phildar Cable Cardi aside (well, it's still on my couch, all I have to do is reach out and grab it, but I haven't touched it). I couldn't even put Birch down last night, while watching Amelie (did you notice there's a crocheter in there? The hypocondriac lady who sells cigarettes!). This movie is very visual, and although it has lots of dialogue, you really have to watch the screen to catch all the details that "make" this movie. This is very distracting when you should really be looking at your stitches and counting in your head. (Speaking of counting in your head, can I mention, without sounding crazy, that row 3 of the 8 row lace repeat is my favorite? It has the perfect rhythm. I forge on with the other rows until I can finally reach a row 3).
Anyway. One of the reasons for my addiction is the suspense that I've managed to create.

I think I might run out of yarn.

The pattern calls for 3 balls of KSH. 229 yds x 3 = 687 yds total.
I bought 2 oz of Habu's Mohair/Silk, at 373 yds per oz, 373 yds x2 = 746 yds.
746 - 687 = 59 yds left over. I thought I was in the clear.

I grabbed my size 7 needles, cast on 299 st, and off I went! Except, it was soon apparent (after, oh, 10 rows), that this fabric was way too airy.
I compared a strand of KSH to my Habu beauy, and yes, it is much thinner.
Feeling very logical, I went down a needle size. I bought size 6 circular Bryspuns, and cast on 299 st again. And again, the fabric was too airy.

This is when I took out the big guns: a size 4 needle. Ha! Take that, Birch! It worked. Phew.
Then I started calculating: since my stitches are smaller, the whole shawl is going to be smaller. To compensate, I cast on more st (329 to be exact). And since each loop is smaller going around a size 4 needle than a size 7 needle, I felt confident I'd have enough yarn.

But do I really ? How much yarn do I need?
I decided to be scientific about it.
First, I knit a little sample.
(Isn't it cute?)

Then, I weighed it: 0.51 g.

Finally, I made a diagram of the shawl, and calculated how many of my samples (colored here in pink and white) would fit into the final shawl: 121.

121 sample triangles at 0.51 g each = 62 g of yarn needed.
I have 2 0z. One 0z= 28g, so 2 oz = ..... 56g! Aack! I'm missing 6 g!

Before completely freaking out, I decided that perhaps my sample was too small, and might introduce a margin of error. It's possible, right? I started knitting furiously each evening, and I weighed the remaining yarn in the morning, using the precision scale in the lab.

After wednesday night's knitting: 35% of the shawl had been knitted, and I'd used 33% of the yarn. Yay!
After thursday night's knitting: 43% has been knit, I've used 57% of the yarn. No!
Stay tuned for tonight's result...

(Before you ask, yes, I can go back to Habu and get more yarn. They keep their mohair/silk yarn on gigantic cones, and simply wind some of it from the mama cone to a baby cone as needed. So I can absolutely go back and get more yarn of the same dye lot. I just like calculating and making diagrams, ok? And maybe, just maybe, the idea of a shawl made with one continuous strand of yarn is magical to me).

You think I'm crazy? One of my friends consoled my by telling me a story about his grand-mother, a knitter who became senile. Every day, she would knit a lace square (or crochet, he's not sure). With each passing day, these squares got more and more intricate. Her madness poured into these complex, geometric patterns. The family was stunned. They also ran out of yarn. Their solution breaks my heart: every evening, the grand-father UNRAVELED his wife's work, and would wind up a new ball of yarn for the next day's work.

By Veronique
On Friday, April 14, 2006
At 4/14/2006 11:42:00 AM


Juicies and Blahs

So much happened last week! I'm still going to blog about it before I plunge into this week (where not much is happening knitting-wise anyway). First things first, I finished Rapunzel, and got *tons* of comments about it. Thank you commenters! It's great to feel the love!

I never told you that on tuesday, we went to the Mason-Dixon book signing at Coliseum Books. It was great to see Ann and Kay with my own eyes. They sound and look just like I imagined from reading their blog. Their book is beautifully photographed, and contains variations on beginner projects like log cabin blankets and mitered square blankets. Although I often smugly feel that as an intermediate/advanced knitter, I should not waste my time on beginner projects (insert sneer here), some of these projects appeal to me. However, my 2 favorites (the slip stitch patterned dishcloth and the spiral log cabin blanket) are not Mason-Dixon original patterns... Weird.

Next to the Mason-Dixon book, you can see a gift I just received. I was blown away: it's a gigantic (seriously, it weights 10 lbs. I'm not kidding, check out the Amazon page) book called "the Earth from Above".
It was given to me by the Secret Pal that I was giving gifts to! It was great to have a french SP: I got to email her in french every week, and I got to send her yarns and needles that seemed crazy exotic to her... (Apparently, there's no bamboo needles in France. Who knew?) Unfortunately, we had a few hiccups, mostly stemming from the fact that her english is not so great and she didn't grasp all of the SP7 rules. And there's pages and pages of rules... Poor girl! I was very touched to get a gift from her.

I've been inspired by the Mason-Dixon color concept of "juicies and blahs". The idea is that when making stripes you should choose a bright color and tone it down with a neutral color. And at the same time (usually ominous words in a knitting context), at the same time, the bright color gives some life to the neutral color. Brilliant.

I have 2 projects right now:
The juicy project is a Phildar pattern from the Spring 2004 (?) Tendances, knit in the recommended yarn, Phildar Rivage in Pomme Verte (aka Granny Smith Green). This green is so limey, acidic, fluorescent green it hurts to look directly at it. As you can see, I've completed a sleeve and started the back.
Here's a pic of the pattern (I couldn't find a link anywhere):

And the blah project is Birch knit in Habu's Silk/Mohair (color Charcoal, which is actually steel gray). I know it looks like a ruffle. Trust me, it should progressively become triangular. I just hope I have enough yarn...

Then, on friday, Katie threw a party at her new digs! The Casa de OSOH is oh so lovely.... I asked Katie about a mysterious closet in her kitchen. See it? To the right of her shiny fridge?

Look inside, and there's a washer and dryer! You have to live in NYC to understand the sheer extravagance of this. And you'd also understand why I was so amazed that I had to take a picture of it. Look at Katie beaming!

Edited To Add: And on monday I found out that my Secret Pal, Alice, has a pattern in the new Knitty! She designed a double knit checkered scarf called Exchequered . She sent me a pattern for Fair Isle checkers a while back, so now it all makes sense... Well, I guess she was trying out different ideas, and Fair Isle lost to double knitting (phew!). Oh, and I love that she's putting her model out there for all knitters to gawk at!

By Veronique
On Tuesday, April 11, 2006
At 4/11/2006 03:46:00 PM


Rapunzel: Ta Da! (and a baby blanket)

Pattern specs:
Rapunzel, from Rowan 34.
Pattern difficulty:
Estimated by Rowan: 3 balls of yarn (out of 3), "for the more experienced knitter".
Actual pattern difficulty: 4 balls of yarn (out of 3). But that's just because I never got gauge and had to recalculate everything.
Recommended by pattern: 8 balls of Rowan Kid Classic and 3 balls of Rowan Lurex Shimmer.
Actual yarn requirements: 9 balls of Rowan Kid Classic (in color Feather). Can you believe that I bought 8 balls in Dec 2004 and that Purl had one ball left of the same dye lot? Miracles *do* happen. And 2 balls of GGH Velour Lame'.
Recommended by Rowan: US 7s (4.5 mm).
Actual needles used: US 6s (4 mm). Started with Addis, then switched to Lantern Moon, courtesy of my Secret Pal.
Recommended by Rowan: 20 st/30 rows = 10cm
Actual gauge: 20 st/38 rows = 4".
That's right. 38.

Started on: President's Day (Feb 20) at the Point.
Finished on: April 5.

Was it worth all the headaches (see any post between feb 20th and april 5th)?
YES. OH YES IT WAS! The fit is perfect, the yarn is delightful. Although the pattern writing is *&^%$!, the pattern design is beautiful. All hail Jean Moss.

In other news, we Spiders finally got to give Sassy the baby blanket we've oh-so-secretly been working on. Amanda ordered Rowan All Seasons Cotton (one of my favorite yarns) from an eBay vendor (this one?) way back in December. Ms Gleek wrote up a mitered square pattern, and we were off! I can't believe how successfully secretive we all were... (By the way, I have to point out that the 4 denim/light blue staggered stripes squares you see in the picture are mine. Just FYI).
Sassy saw the mitered square blanket at the Mason Dixon book signing at Coliseum Books last tuesday and was very intrigued: she grilled us about the construction of a mitered square. Oh, we couldn't *wait* until the baby shower... I'm sure I giggled with glee (and smugness).

By Veronique
On Thursday, April 06, 2006
At 4/06/2006 05:49:00 PM


A Baby Shower And A Discovery

I finally finished Crumpets and gifted it to our very pregnant lab administrator! She promptly held it up for everyone to see and obscured her face at the same time, making this picture perfect for posting. (When my boss saw it was a gift from me, he *knew* it would be hand knitted and asked me "is it a *special* gift?" wink wink. Then, when he saw that I had sewn in a "Très Chic Véronique" label on the dress, he was very disappointed that I hadn't sewn one on his DNA scarf. I guess I'm bringing a sewing needle and some thread to work tomorrow!). This lab baby shower was held at Alice's Tea Cup on 64th & Lex and we gorged on tiny sandwiches (with the crusts cut off!) and huge scones. Oh, and they have lots of different teas! Yum.

On the way back to work, a coworker pointed out a new yarn store in my neighborhood (1st & 65th St). How did this get by me?!
This store opened on monday. They carry lots of Debbie Bliss (Cashmerino in all different wieghts, Astrakhan etc), and a huge Cascade selection including some yarns I've never seen in stores before. Cloud 9? Cotton Rich? All the yarns are on the left wall, and there's a couch and table on the right side. The owner is very friendly and assured me she had tons more yarn in the basement, it just wouldn't fit in the store. I might have to spend some quality time on that couch...

Edited To Add: I finished all the knitting for Rapunzel. I started weaving in the million or so ends. Next up: seaming! Will it be ready by friday for the Spiders' party?!

By Veronique
On Wednesday, April 05, 2006
At 4/05/2006 04:06:00 PM


Knitting on Prime Time TV?

You guys have seen this on Grey's Anatomy, right? I am insulted that the main character decides to take up knitting because .... she's given up on men. Ha ha. Yes, we knitters have no social life or sex life. Grrr. (Note: I will begrudgingly admit that the blonde character actually knows how to knit. She's pretty good: fast and even).

News from the Rapunzel front:
I've re-worked the left front (which is on the right side of the picture, confusing huh?).
I unraveled to the armhole bind-off (where the arrow is).
Then, I worked even for 1.5".
Then I worked the armhole.
In this picture, I've aligned the armhole bind-offs using a dotted line. You can see that the new and improved side is a little longer at the bottom. But most importantly, you can see that the formerly bothersome diagonal line is *lower*. Success! (I think).

By Veronique
On Monday, April 03, 2006
At 4/03/2006 06:39:00 PM


Flash Your Stash!

I had a great time taking pictures of my stash and rediscovering yarn that I had completely forgotten about. There seems to be 2 ways to flash your stash: show every skein you own or choose a select few.

I'm showing it all, baby! (Clicking the pic will bring you to a Flickr page with all the annotations you could ever need). Total count: 266 balls of yarn.

First Category: Enough-to-make-a-sweater
Sweater's Worth Of Yarn: 1/5
Sweater's Worth Of Yarn: 2/5
Sweater's Worth Of Yarn: 3/5
Sweater's Worth Of Yarn: 4/5
Sweater's Worth Of Yarn: 5/5

Second Category: Random Yarn (aka not-enough-to-make-a-sweater, aka sock yarn and impulse buys).
Random Yarn 1/6
Random Yarn 2/6
Random Yarn 3/6
Random Yarn 4/6
Random Yarn 5/6
Random Yarn 6/6

By Veronique
On Saturday, April 01, 2006
At 4/01/2006 02:01:00 PM