Thursday, December 20, 2007

socks and things

I had decided not to do any gift knitting this year - I know me, and I know that I am too easily distracted to get hand-knitted gifts finished by a deadline. I'm a night before sort of person. In college, I would begin the writing on a ten page paper the night before it was due. In October, I began this sweater the night before Mina's second birthday:

Pattern: Swing Thing, from MagKnits
Yarn: Rio de la Plata 3 ply merino in pink carnation
Needles: size US 8/5.0 mm for the body and US 7/4.5 mm for the arms (my flat gauge is tighter than my gauge in the round)

It still needs the buttons sewn on, buttonloops crocheted, and the underarm ends woven in and gaps tightened up, but those things will be done shortly and this will get wrapped up and put under the tree. I've also been planning a simple quilt for the girlie, but so far I only have the fabric cut into strips. We'll see how that goes. I may be sewing it together after she goes to bed on Christmas Eve - that's totally my style.

The night before Thanksgiving, I decided I needed the very simplest of projects to keep my fidgety hands busy while visiting with family the next day. Something that required no thought and only an infrequent glance. How about plain socks? I chose one of the more highly variegated yarns from my stash and and did the toe, so all I would have to do was knit round and round.

Yarn: BMFA Socks that Rock lightweight, Puck's Mischief
Pattern: none (see below)
Needles: size 2.5 mm Addi Lace 47" circular

These socks went so fast! My mom admired the yarn so much on Thanksgiving day that I decided they would be her Christmas gift. I already knew that I preferred to knit socks toe up. This was my first time doing magic loop rather than dpn's, and I am a convert! My circ is rather long, but it worked for me. I really like the Addi Lace's smoothness at the joins and flexible cable, but the metal is hard on my hands. My fingers and wrists ache after knitting for a couple of hours with this needle. I'm hoping that KnitPicks Harmony needles will be a good substitute for me - we'll see in January when I can order some. Anyway, for these socks I used the magic cast on from Knitty and the chart in the Summer '07 issue of Interweave Knits (from the toe up sock tutorial) to guide me through the toe and heel. I think they are knit over 54 stitches (my gauge is a bit loose) and they fit perfectly. My mom has the same size feet as me, so I know they'll fit her too. I didn't realize until I was partway through the second sock that the Addi size 1 is a 2.5 mm rather than a 2.25 mm, hence the loose gauge and surprising speediness. The socks feel great though, good enough that I immediately began another pair.

This is STR lightweight again, in Carbon or Carbon Dating (label says Carbon Dating, but it looks identical to the colorway on the website called Carbon). These ones are for me! I've decided to use up all my variegated sock yarn stash this way. I'm not a fan of variegated yarns combined with lace or textural patterns - it's just too much going on at once for my taste. And I am still trying to decide what to do with this poor thing:

I don't even remember when I started this sock. In the spring? The only good thing about it is that it is toe up. Bad things - dpns and ribbing. I knit English style (definitely "throw" my yarn!) and ribbing is such a pain! I have two skeins of this Colinette Jitterbug and had planned to make knee socks. I think I'll not do that, just because I know it would take me years to finish both of them (so boring) and I really dislike how the purple is striping. I want my colors to really mix up, thanks. No pooling, flashing, striping, etc. for me. So I can't decide. There is a bit more done, though not much, than when this photo was taken in September. I have no motivation to knit the second sock. Ever. Should I frog an entire perfectly-fitting sock so I can reknit it in stockinette on magic loop?

Thursday, November 08, 2007


I've been quiet online these days, and sort of just quiet in general. After a couple of busy weeks, I needed some curling up on the couch time. I've not been completely inactive, though I have no photos to show you. Do you know how dismal it is here in November? There is no light.

Anyway. A little list.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel by Jane Smiley

Listening -
Transatlanticism by Death Cab for Cutie

Baking - Gingerbread Muffins (use blackstrap molasses, reduce the cloves by a lot, and add a teaspoon each of cinnamon and allspice)

Watching - Firefly

Enjoying - the autumn colors here in my pretty little city, Mina's new words each day

Window shopping - so many amazing things on Etsy - ceramics, letterpress calendars, jewelry, prints, Japanese craft books, fabric, linen trim. Maybe I'll do an I Love Handmade post soon.

Crocheting - tea scarf by pixeldiva. Yes, I crocheted something! It's done, it's insanely long, and the neighbor's feisty cat used it as an easy way to snare me, pulling me down into the grass - we were entangled in a mess of yarn and claws and fingers for quite some time.

Knitting - so many things. Two sweaters with two problems that require reknitting. Not difficult, just boring (I've done it once already...). Several scarves. Wanting to pick up the lace shawls again. Dying to cast on Juno Regina (I have the yarn. I may not last beyond tonight.) Realizing my queue (both on Ravelry and in my head) is now around 150 items, and they are all things that I truly want to knit. Now.

Planning - Christmas gifts. No gift knitting this year, though I have to figure out how to make a penguin quilt for Mina. She found the fabric herself at the fabric store, pulled the bolt off the shelf, and hugged it. Girlie loves penguins.

Thinking about - grad school again. Missing being a student, regretting many things.

Writing - nothing, unfortunately.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Still here, still hanging in there...

Phew, what a week. I've been dealing with the aftermath of the car accident, working with the insurance company, driving a rental car, having our car declared a total loss and all that entails, and trying to get a new car. Hopefully that will all be taken care of by tomorrow afternoon. I don't want to car shop again for 10 years, please.

I thought I'd have a finished Wicked by now, but I have to rip back to the stockinette portion and add some length to the body, then knit the pocket after all. I think it will look much better that way. I haven't touched it since taking this picture last weekend. All I've knit this week is a teensy pair of pants for a Cabbage Patch Kid. Between the car stuff and also trying to buy a very nice used sofa, plus adding almost daily posts to the Chum, it's been hectic. I'm hoping for some knitting time on Sunday.

(See, this is most definitely too short.)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

So excited!

I'm really excited to announce that I am a new contributor to Lime & Violet's Daily Chum, a multi-contributor blog delivering fiber-related news, reviews, and goodies every day. My first two posts are up now! I have a bit to learn about Wordpress (bear with me, Peachy!), but so far so good. I'll be writing about knitting and fiber in the art and fashion worlds several times a week. This is going to be a lot of fun! Please check out the blog, if you aren't already a reader. Content will be increasing over the next week or so as several new staff writers and columnists have been added. Peachy is doing a great job of getting us all set up and keeping things running smoothly. Come check it out!

Monday, October 01, 2007

round and round and round

I needed some easy and soothing knitting for what I knew would be a busy week. This sweater is much farther along now, but there have been no opportunities for an updated photo. I work at a university, and the first week of classes (last week) is always so hectic that I'm exhausted. Combine that with some very autumnal weather (wind and rain, like we don't normally get for another month) and we have very limited photo opportunities. Let's just say the sweater is going well. The yarn is the most deliciously bouncy yarn I've ever worked with. In my spacy, exhausted state I sometimes find myself with my knitting forgotten in my lap and a length of yarn held between my thumbs and forefingers, stretching it back and forth just to watch it spring back over and over again. I can knit this yarn blind, it flows so smoothly and easily. An entire sweater body is finished, with just the bottom border and sleeves left to knit. I tried it on last just after the decreases for the waist shaping and everything was looking good - I'm excited for my first wearable sweater. I'm leaving off the pocket for the sake of sleekness and doing long sleeves for the sake of warmth.

I'm still needing comfort knitting this week. I wrecked my car yesterday evening, and even though thankfully no one was hurt and the car still drives, it's in bad shape. The distractiblity evident in my too many projects carries over into other areas of my life. My "ooh pretty saris in the shop window!" turned into a silent gasp and scream as the rear end of the station wagon in front of me (which had slammed on its brakes at the last second for a pedestrian waiting to cross the street) ended up sitting on the hood of my Saturn. :( Mina in the back seat was wide-eyed and quiet. When we didn't continue driving, she started crying, pointing at the keys in the ignition and making the sign for "more." When the police officers had the other driver pull forward off of my car, Mina did a loud "uh oh!" when it crashed back down to the road and our car bounced upward. I almost laughed. "Yes, sweetie, it's a big uh oh!" So yes, comfort knitting is in order. I'm weighing my options - it's either bulky merino or alpaca silk, both in the stash (no yarn buying for me with a deductible for car repair to pay), and another easy sweater.

One last little note: I know some of my photos aren't showing up in previous posts or in my Ravelry projects. After reading about this situation I have removed all pictures of my daughter from my blog and photostream. I am reassessing what, if anything, to upload again and how to blog and share the way I'd like in the future without putting my daughter's image out there to be stolen and misused in this way.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


The Autumnal Equinox seemed late this year, but today (finally) marks the beginning of the season I try to celebrate all year. In the autumn, I feel more creative, more inspired. I want to write, read, create, knit, cook, make tea, bake, light candles, study, organize, decorate, celebrate with family and friends. My favorite months are September and October, and they bring my favorite weather here in the Northwest - bright, clear, cool days, where the colors of the sky, the leaves, the sun are so sharp I feel a physical pang of joy. It's scarf and sweater but no jacket weather, time for making leaf bouquets, picking up acorns and chestnuts and pinecones, visiting the farmer's market in its final weeks of the season, shifting the way I cook and eat along with the seasonal foods.

At our house we celebrated today with pumpkin pancakes, naps, finger painting, football, sweater knitting, a walk around the yard to check in with the plants and trees, slow-cooker vegetarian chili, and a general feeling of contentment.

Happy Autumn!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

just in time for fall

Spring socks!

Pattern: Hedera, by Cookie A.
Yarn: Louet Gems Pearl in crabapple blossom
Started: December? February? I forget.
Finished: September 15
(Photo taken blind while being pinned down by a 30-pound toddler who got herself between my face and the camera.)

I complained and complained about this yarn the whole time I was using it, I got bored with the pattern, I let the second sock sit around half-knit for months. But now that they are done, I love them. Other than the wonkiness in the toe grafting. This is my fourth finished pair of socks, and I have learned a few things about sock knitting and about myself as a sock knitter. I know that I prefer toe-up to cuff down, I don't like having leftover yarn and wishing I would have made the cuffs longer, short row heels fit me better and I prefer how they look, I hate picking up stitches, and I hate kitchener stitch. Which means, for future sock projects, I'll try to stick with toe-up. No picking up stitches, no grafting, the easiest heel is the one that fits me best, and I can use up all my yarn. Unfortunately, there are a lot of really great cuff down patterns out there, some of which might be a challenge to convert. And, actually, the next pattern I plan to knit is written cuff down. The stitch pattern on the Canal du Midi socks would look almost the same upside down as right side up, so I'll probably just go ahead and do them toe-up without worrying about flipping the chart or anything. I am also intrigued now about Cat Bordhi's new book. I participated in Summer of Socks (as a blog reader - obviously not as an accomplished sock knitter!), so tonight I got the email from the SOS host about the free download of the winning pattern in the design contest. It is based on Cat Bordhi's Cedar architecture (the designer had Cat's permission to use the architecture and share the pattern), and I love how it looks. The lace pattern extends down the heel and over the sides of the foot, and there's a tiny short row heel at the bottom. Definitely something I want to try, especially as there is a related architecture that can go toe-up. I think I'll buy Cat's book rather than try to work that one out myself as the winning designer suggests.

I'm still waiting on my order from I just ordered on Friday, so I'm trying not to be impatient, but I am excited to start my next sweater. I was also planning to start the Child's Cabled Jumper from Anne Hanson at Knitspot. I chose some 3 ply Rio de la Plata merino because I wanted something very soft and with subtle variegation. The pattern gauge is 18 st/4" so technically this yarn will work, with its gauge of 16-20 st/4", but I forgot when I was buying it that the pattern suggests a DK weight yarn knit at a looser gauge for drape. I got the Rio de la Plata from a LYS that went out of business, so I can't go exchange it or anything. I was a little disappointed when I wound it to find that it was mildly felted in spots, as if it had been skeined while it was still damp or something. Anyway, a good alternative would be the merino DK from, which of course I didn't think of until the day after I'd placed my order. Oh well, I can order again. I think I only need two skeins of the DK to make the largest size jumper for Mina, which makes it ridiculously cheap.

As always, too many knits and not enough time. Now that it's late, I'll just relax a bit with a glass of wine and something easy. Goodnight.

Friday, September 14, 2007

a bad case of startitis

Of course. There are always far too many tempting projects and far too little time! I still don't have that second Hedera done (though it should be finished tonight, really!), I still haven't finished seaming the VK top, and I still have too many things on the go. There's always room for more, right?

I've really got to learn to be more discriminating with my sock projects. The Hederas? I think I started them last December! My plan for Summer of Socks 2007 was to knit three pairs of knee socks. I haven't finished a single sock. Not even half a pair! Here's how far I got:

That's one of my favorite yarns, Colinette Jitterbug. The color is nice - Fruit Coulis. But the pattern. What was I thinking? A plain 2x2 ribbed knee sock? These will take me a year to finish. I get bored far too easily. Most of the progress on the leg of this thing was made while waiting in the DMV for two hours on the morning of my birthday. Um. That was August 16th. I don't think I've done more than a couple of rounds since then. Since I have two skeins of this, I'm considering frogging this entire thing so I can knit this sweater. I am a devotee of the cardigan anyway. A cute, basic cardi from just two skeins of sock yarn? Sounds like a great idea to me! One thing I've realized this summer is that I can crank out sweaters (or most of sweaters) with crazy speed, but socks take me forever. Which is of course why I am planning to do this:

If you've read this book, this will make sense. The story jumps back and forth between the years 2005 and 1209 and takes place in the south of France, or the Midi. I have been reading this rather slowly but enjoying it, so it is on my mind a lot. On our last trip to the library, I pulled Nancy Bush's Knitting on the Road off the shelf and opened it randomly. The page I opened to was the pattern for the Canal du Midi socks. Socks that match my book! The Lorna's Laces in blue spruce was already in my stash waiting for the right pattern. Ta da! Then I thought it would be really cool to have a knitting project for every novel I read. I don't read nearly as much as I used to now that my hands are so busy knitting, so the prospect isn't quite as crazy as it sounds.

Of course, the new Knitty came out. The fall issue is always the best, and I think this one might be the best ever. There are six projects jumping up and down saying "pick me, pick me!" and it's been hard to resist! I just may have an appropriate yarn for one sweater in the stash, just a few feet from where I am sitting. And the yarn for a stole. I could probably come up with something for a hat too. And, I just may have ordered four skeins of something today, because this was really, really too much to resist for longer than 24 hours. I am weak! So weak that this is not all that I want to cast on. I picked up another skein of Fonty Kidopale at the LYS this week, in rich autumn colors, for a light, fluffy little fall scarf. Then I remembered the Habu silk stainless J brought back from NYC. I have mini-cones in blackberry, navy, and lavender. The navy and blackberry would go well with the kidopale for something very kusha kusha-like. I'm fascinated with the beautiful, sculptural scarves I've been seeing. Lovely.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

even grouchy princesses need hats

This is kind of how the last couple of days have been. We got caught up on a couple of Mina's vaccinations yesterday, so she's been tired, feverish and fussy. The princess dress helps. So does chocolate. And new hats.

This is the best photo I could get. The hat was off her head and onto the floor milliseconds after the shutter clicked. Her daddy tells me that she kept it on during an entire trip to the grocery store on Sunday morning, but I was allowed to sleep in that day for the first time since before she was born (really!) and I missed it. Anyway, the hat is the Basic Cable Hat from Stitch 'n Bitch Nation, with some minor alterations to make it a little smaller. The girlie has kind of a big head though, so it fits me too. I used most of a skein of Noro Kureyon that was left from a hat I made for J over two years ago. (The big head gene comes from him - I always count on a little more than one ball to make him a hat.) It went really quickly - just a few days of knitting on it here and there when I had a chance. J's hat has softened up considerably after a few washings, so I'm not worried about this being too itchy for her. (Oh, speaking of washings - J machine washed and dried another hat made of Tahki Donegal Tweed. I about had a heart attack until he handed it to me afterwards. The yarn bloomed into a soft, fuzzy, squishy fabric - it didn't felt. I was amazed - his treatment definitely improved it!)

Of course since I finished a project I had to cast on another one. I had a frog-fest a few weeks ago and cleared out a sock and two stoles, so the works-in-progress number was lagging! I finally started J's Dashings:

I know the yarn is the same color as the original. I don't care. It's not the same yarn though, it's Tahki New Tweed, which is considerably softer and next-to-skin friendlier than the Donegal Tweed. It's a wool, silk, and viscose blend, and I'd love to have a whole sweater made of it. I'm using size US 5 Crystal Palace dpns and getting a nice, stretchy, cushy fabric. I did this much of it last night, so it shouldn't take long at all to have the pair finished. Then I think I'll start J's hat and use the same cable patterning on it. At this rate, both will be done by our anniversary in a few weeks! (If the girlie lets me knit, that is.)

(Can anyone tell me why my pictures are rendering so crappily? I don't remember having this problem before. I'm grabbing them from Flickr and they look totally fine there.)

Saturday, September 08, 2007

long overdue

I'm finally getting around to posting a couple of finished projects that have been sitting around. I'm lazy that way.

Chevron Scarf, from Last Minute Knitted Gifts, made with superwash merino fingering weight from Fresh Yarns on size US 3 bamboo needles. I did most of this while watching the dvd's of seasons 1 and 2 of LOST, and the scarf sat around unblocked and forgotten for quite awhile, so it is the LOST scarf. On my monitor the colors in this photo are as close to true as I can ever hope to photograph - there is some deep purple and deep teal that aren't quite showing up. But you get the idea. The scarf is about six feet long, and I have a ton of yarn left over. I like how light it is; this will be perfect for the transition weather before I need to break out the alpaca.

Here's a quick webcam shot of the Ribbed Lace Bolero from 10 feet high. This was a quick project and I've been wearing it a lot even though it's quite a bit too wide for me. A couple of tips if you knit this: 1) have someone else measure your shoulder span, and 2) really stretch out your ribbing when you measure gauge. I think made both mistakes. The color is way off in this picture. I actually used the exact same yarn and color as the original, and her picture is more accurate. I didn't like how the collar looked rolled over once I tried it on, so I left mine flat. That was my only change.

Today I actually set in a sleeve and sewed one of the side seams on my VK Short Sleeved Top #5 (such a creative name, no?), but that was all the seaming I could stand for one day. I just have to do the other sleeve and then the crochet edging. It's sort of a scallop/ruffle edge all around the sleeves, bottom, and deep V neckline, and I was almost out of yarn so I went and got another skein today just to be safe. Hopefully I'll have it done before next weekend.

Currently on the needles (and not in hibernation) I have a basic cabled Kureyon hat for the girlie, my Luna Moth shawl, and the second Hedera. I picked up all the stitches that Mina pulled the needles out of and finished the gusset decreases. Almost there! I need to start J's Dashing mitts (in Tahki New Tweed, which is wonderful stuff) and a new hat for him in the Schaefer Lola I got today. Our fourth anniversary is in less than a month! I haven't chosen a hat pattern yet. All the ones I've made for him so far have been 2x2 ribbing on the entire thing and I don't want to do that again even though he likes them a lot. I'm thinking something slightly cabley to go with the Dashings, since the yarns are the same color (dark olive green, of course - that is his color) even if not the same type. Nothing too regular/symmetrical or anything....we'll see what I come up with.

Friday, August 31, 2007

What a week. I'm finally getting around to updating here, which I've been meaning to do since we got home from Boise last Wednesday. I didn't have to go back to work until Monday this week, so I continued on in full vacation mode with very little time spent on the computer. No blogs, no messageboards, only brief checking of email and Ravelry, and that was it. It was actually really nice! The girlie and I took lots of walks, made a lot of pancakes (her favorite thing to help me make), hung out at the library and the used bookstore, and read Raindrop, Plop about a million times. She always points at the "shiny red coat," the green alligator galoshes, and the cup of hot cocoa. When I explained for the first time what hot cocoa was ("kind of like coffee, but it's chocolate!"), she got up and took my hand, led me to the kitchen, and pointed at the corner of the counter where I usually leave a bar or two of dark chocolate near the coffee maker. Smart girl. ;)

The visit with family was nice, although Mina was insecure and clingy the entire time and demanded that I hold her from the time she woke up until bed around 9pm. No breaks for naps even - she wouldn't take them. I was exhausted and very ready to come home. We did make it to Fuzz one afternoon, where I picked out my birthday gift from Mom - some Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted - and a skein of Mountain Colors Bearfoot in rosehip (love it!) that I bought myself. I have to admit I was a little disappointed. For a small space carrying knitting yarn, weaving yarn, spinning supplies and embroidery and needlepoint supplies, the store seemed curiously empty. There wasn't anything I hadn't seen in person before other than a few Habu kits, but as J was visiting Habu in NYC for me, I didn't spend much time on those. The staff was very nice though - talkative without getting in the way. They were charmed by the grouchy head-standing Mina, and wound my yarn with a smile.

I did end up with some lovely items from Habu as well, and combined with my haul from the LYS that just went out of business, I've had an almost indecent amount of stash enhancement. Witness:

Click over to Flickr to find out what each one is. Crazy, isn't it? And it doesn't include a sweater's worth of Cascade Pima Tencel or the Wool in the Woods Helix I just used to make this:

This was one of the projects I took on vacation with me, but by the time we got home I'd only done about three inches of the body. I didn't follow a pattern or even knit a swatch (ha!). I just guessed what needle size I'd like to use with that yarn and took a stab at how many stitches to cast on to make a Mina-sized body tube. I'd say it worked out rather well. I did have to rip out my first attempt at the yoke and go down a needle size because the garter stitch was way too loose and floppy the first time. I love how it came out, although I wish it was a little bigger. She'll grow out of it by next spring, which is too bad because it's a perfect spring sweater. The cotton is so soft, light and stretchy. I have a lot of it left, probably half a skein (around 100 yards maybe), and I'm thinking it would combine well with a semi-solid Manos Cotton Stria for another sweater, using the multi-colored Helix for trim. We'll see.

For the first few days we were home, I was marveling over how quickly autumn is coming. Not even September, and the leaves already changing so much! I kept pointing out trees to J as we drove around town - look at that! Look how yellow and orange! After a few days of this he started ignoring me. We went for a walk by the bay, and I was silently sort of freaking out over how early autumn was coming, when I decided to take off my newish (purchased the night before leaving town for vacation) sunglasses to see how bright the early evening sun was. Oh... the tree in front of us wasn't yellow and brown after all, it was mostly green with just a hint of yellow starting! The silly sunglasses I've been wearing have yellow-brown lenses that bring out those colors and intensify them. It's like I've been wearing fast-forward glasses and seeing the trees as they'll look a month from now. So I can stop freaking out a little bit. But even so, autumn is coming, and that makes me happy!

I was hoping to finish two other projects this week, but external forces conspired against me (that is my excuse for everything). I was determined to finish Hedera before starting another sock project - and I have a good one in mind! - until the girlie decided she'd help:

I know the photo isn't the clearest, but you do see the two needles not attached any longer to the sock, yes? Yes. I have to salvage about half the stitches that hopefully haven't dropped too far, especially in the lace portion. Ugh. I've been hating this sock anyway (bored with the pattern, not liking the yarn at all), but the first one is done already so I need to just finish the thing and move on! The other thing I need to finish is this top from the Spring/Summer 2005 VK. I have all the pieces knit, I just need to seam it and add the crochet edging. I hate hate hate seaming. The crochet doesn't scare me. But, I don't have enough yarn. I'm trying to decide whether I should spend the $10 on an entire 200 yard skein when I probably only need 25 yards, or forgo the edging. I don't know. In the meantime, it's kind of nice just folded up on the chair here. I really think my worst character trait is lack of follow-through. I'm like this in absolutely every aspect of my life. Oh, I love to plan! Love it! And in the end, I have an unfinished sweater.

Friday, August 17, 2007

happy birthday to me

...well, a day late, anyway. But, with the two and a half hours spent waiting at the DMV, three hours in traffic around Seattle, dinner with the in-laws and the free hotel reservation falling through, it didn't feel much like a birthday. I was happy to crash on an air mattress at my sister's late last night, and wake up to a better day today. Mina and I drove J to the airport at 7:30 this morning to make his flight to New York. He was given a free ticket and took the opportunity to have a solo weekend exploring. He offered to make one knitting-related stop while he is there to get me a birthday present, so I am sending him to Habu Textiles. I'm jealous! At least I get surprise yarn out of it - I told him to pick out whatever he wanted, I'd be happy with any of it.

So far today, I've had an amazingly easy drive through rush hour (non)traffic, good songs on the radio, brunch and a pedicure with my sister, and some quiet knitting time while Mina sleeps. Sangria and lemon chiffon cake are being prepared in the kitchen as I type, and good friends are coming for dinner. Tomorrow my sis and I and our two kids head back to the airport to fly to Boise to spend several days with the other half of our immediate family. (One sister is en route from here to there already; the other sister and the parents live there. It will be good.)

I'm working on a little t-shirt style sweater for Mina using Wool in the Woods Helix in the Napa Valley colorway - nice rich pinks, purples and greens. I also brought the first of the Jitterbug knee socks, which I made a lot of progress on while waiting to renew my driver's license, and the Luna Moth. That should be enough vacation knitting I think. I'm hoping to visit at least one yarn store in Boise. When we were planning our wedding, we bought luscious colors of dupioni silk for my sisters' dresses at a small boutique fabric shop. That shop has since added yarn, and called the yarn portion Fuzz. I can't wait to check it out. Maybe I'll find some yarn for this must-knit pair of socks!

Today is day two of my eleven day vacation. Here's to time moving slowly for once.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Vegan Pal 2 Questionnaire

1. What is/are your craft(s), & how long have you been doing it/them?
Knitting is my primary craft. I've been knitting about 2.5 years. I also know basic crochet and I'm slowly learning embroidery and want to do a lot more with it. I have a drop spindle that I hate but I really want a spinning wheel (I used to spin as a child but haven't in about 20 years). I'm making my first quilt in more than 20 years. I also do art journals, ATC's and small collages, play with watercolor and acrylic paints, a little bit of beaded jewelry, bookmaking, stamp carving, some sewing, and whatever else strikes my fancy.

2. Are you a vegan, vegetarian, veg-curious, veg-friendly or other?
I've been fully vegetarian for 14 years, but stopped eating most meat 20 years ago at age 12. (I was as close to vegetarian as my mom would let me get away with before moving out.) I'm not vegan - I love cheese!

3. Is this your first swap, or have you done previous swaps before? What makes a swap enjoyable for you?
I have done two swaps prior to this one. I think the most fun part is figuring out what my partner would like and putting the package together. Good communication between pals, secret or not, is really important.

4. What is/are your favorite color(s)? Do you particularly dislike any color(s)?
Teal, aqua, seafoam, plum, "vintagey" lavender and rose, pale beige-y pinks, magenta, gray, ivory, taupe, black...those are probably my favorites. I'm not very fond of yellow and orange.

5. Do you have any allergies (such as pets, foods, fibers or cigarette smoke)?
Um, just grass and locust tree pollen. I don't think you really need to worry about that. ;)

6. Do you have any companion animals? If so, name(s) and type(s)?*
I have one 11-year-old fat kitty named Tasha.

7. Do you collect anything?
Besides yarn? Prismacolor pencils, blank journals, pretty rocks, small Japanese teacups and dishes, though I don't really have a true "collection" of anything.

8. Do you have a favorite vegan food, snack or dish? If no fav that's vegan (for those who aren't vegan), what's your favorite food? (Hopefully your pal can find a vegan version!)
This is always such a hard question. I'm going to combine it with the one below.

9. What are some of your favorite/least favorite tastes/flavors? (e.g. sweet, salty, chocolate, crunchy, smooth, tart, sour, spicy, thai, whatever - Help your pal get a feel for what kind of recipes you might like and/or never ever make.)
I am a chocoholic (dark "fancy" stuff only though). At home I tend to cook my own versions of Italian, Mediterranean, and Asian foods. I like to make meals up as I go along using whatever is on hand (whole/fresh ingredients, no pre-packaged things). The girlie and I make lots of pancakes. When I go out to eat it's usually for breakfast, or else Thai food or wood-fired pizza, oooh or the yam ale-chiladas at the brewery, yum. I love fresh Italian or French bread. I like almost every fruit and vegetable. I can't think of any food that I truly dislike (other than the obvious meat).

10. What tools/supplies/accessories for your craft(s) are you wishing you had but don't? Also, what do you have TOO many of? (basically a wish and anti-wish list)
Well, I always want yarn of course. (Doesn't everyone?) I can't think of anything in particular that I need, but I don't think I could ever have too much of anything art and craft related either, so I don't have an anti-wish list. Heh, I guess that isn't very helpful.

11. Are you on Ravelry? What's your handle?
everydayautumn on Ravelry

12. Is there anything else you would like your pal to know about you?
I have an almost-two-year-old girlie. I love coffee. I walk a lot. Um...

13. What scents do you like/dislike?
I like warm, spicy, citrusy scents. Nothing too floral, sweet or overpowering or too artificial. My current favorite thing is the Sensual Amber body cream from Bath and Body Works.

14. Do you prefer fall or Halloween or some other Autumn theme?
Any fall/autumn theme is fine, other than cutesy Halloween stuff. I'm not really into that.

15. Just for fun - tell your favorite Halloween or Autumn related memory.
I love autumn! (Check the blog name!) I don't have a specific memory, but I love the feeling of possibility I have every fall. In the autumn I feel more inspired to make things, study things, cook and bake, make tea, light candles, create a warm and beautiful home, read, write, and experience the world. That's where the blog name comes from - I want to capture that autumn feeling every day.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

It's a sign

Not just one, but two amazing knitbloggers are showing off their new spinning wheels this morning. And just before I checked my feeds in Google Reader, I checked my local Craigslist. Someone has an Ashford wheel for $50. I have no idea which wheel or what condition it is in, and they aren't answering their phone. But I will try again tonight.

I learned to spin on two Ashford wheels over 20 years ago. A friend of our family's, my youngest sister's godmother, lived with her husband in a log cabin in the woods of northern Idaho where they raised sheep, among various other things. I can remember walking through the rooms in their house as a young girl to see the spinning wheels, the giant loom that had a room all to itself, the pot of natural plant dye on the stove, and the baskets of knitting. I can remember sitting at the Ashford Traditional, which seemed gigantic at the time, after we decided I was too short and impatient for the drop spindles. I loved spinning on that wheel. We bought Helen's second wheel, an Ashford Traveler, and I can remember sitting in front of it, across the room from Helen and her Traditional, both of us spinning. We took the little Traveler home with us, along with hand cards and washed fleece. I used to spin at home, and I can still remember the calming rhythm of it. I stopped though, once I got to middle school age and became more concerned with perfecting my curling iron technique than with the spinning, knitting, and quilting I had just barely begun learning. Those things were definitely not cool for a pre-teen in 1987! (Or so I thought.) When I asked my mom about my wheel two years ago (during the summer I was pregnant - pregnancy somehow catalyzed my desire to make things), she told me she had donated it to a monastery. So, I bought a spindle and quickly remembered why I hated them. And I feel like I've told this story here before....

Anyway, fast forward to right now. My birthday is in two weeks, and I was going to ask for a spinning class at the downtown LYS as a birthday present. I'd planned to borrow a store wheel, and just see if it felt right to spin again. (If? Who am I kidding?) I've been looking at the Ashford Kiwi wheel for some time now because I know I used Ashfords in the past and the price is less frightening than other wheels. And then I find this ad today! My fingers are crossed.

Monday, July 30, 2007

I'm back....

I didn't realize, again, that it had been so long! I think every year goes by faster than the one before it. I can remember being six and seven years old and thinking that a year was such a long time. First grade lasted a millenium. Now in my 30's weeks go by and I feel like it's only been a few days.

And even though it's been more than three weeks, I have nothing finished to show you. I've started many things though:

I am quite a bit farther on this now but I haven't taken an updated photo. This is the Luna Moth Shawl, a free pattern from I love Shui Kuen Kozinski's designs, and there are several other free ones on Elann. I am using Elann Callista in the linen colorway (which appears to be sold out), and I am loving everything about this knit - the pattern and the yarn are a good match, the yarn feels good and knits up quickly, and the pattern is just complicated enough that I can't quite memorize it so I don't get bored. Also, you can't beat $15 for a project of this size.

Next up is a summer top from Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer 2005:

Yeah, I know, it doesn't look like much at this point. I can't find a photo of the finished top outside of Ravelry. If you are on Ravelry already, you can see it here. It has a deep V neck that ends in what appears to be a twist, with one side of the front twisted through the other side, and a crochet edging all the way around. The original pattern calls for Karabella Empire Silk, which would be lovely and drapey, but oh so impractical and expensive. I am using King Tut mercerized cotton, which is still shiny and drapey, and less than half the cost. I am getting exact gauge, but I am kind of thinking this design would be better overall in a lighter DK or sport weight rather than the 18 st/4" worsted weight. It just seems overly chunky for a warm weather top that is supposed to be light and drapey. We'll see how it looks when it's done though.

I also cast on this bolero last night, because I've been obsessed with it since I first saw it on Ravelry. I'm using the exact yarn, same color even, because it's just too perfect to change. Only one store in my town sells Cotton Ease, and it couldn't be any farther away from my house than it is, so I'd been avoiding making the trip out there for some time. I finally broke down and went yesterday though and got the cotton ease for this plus two balls of light gray for another one, some taupe Paton's Grace for a camisole and cream kitchen cotton for a shopping tote. It was a very colorless and cottony yarn haul, but nice. I think those are the only craft store yarns I ever buy, and I do have to admit I love the Cotton Ease. It's so round and squishy! I wish it came in more colors, because it would be perfect for kid sweaters but the girlie very definitely looks better in jewel tones than in the muted shades of Cotton Ease.

There have been other projects over the last few weeks. I had a brief fling with Mystery Stole 3, until I made a mistake I couldn't recover from and decided I didn't love it enough to continue (i.e. start over). I was doing it solely for the experience, because I don't think I'd ever wear lace of that kind and I don't know anyone else who would either. I love lace shawls (hence Kiri and the Luna Moth), but of a different kind. I like them to be substantial and more casual, as much as lace can be casual. Actually, I think it can, in the same way that I pair ballet flats and little camisoles with army green cargo pants. I like that girlie/tough mixture. The Luna Moth would be perfect for that kind of thing. The floaty and delicate Mystery Stole, not so much.

I also tried to cast on, well, did cast on, my Hourglass Sweater using Dream in Color Classy, which I love love love unreasonably. Well, not unreasonably - it's amazingly soft and bouncy and incredibly subtly colored. Love it! Anyway, I swatched on 6's and got gauge knitting flat. The Hourglass is knit in the round. Since gauge tends to be tighter in the round than flat, I decided 6's were the way to go because I'd like mine to be slightly smaller than the smallest size. So, I cast on and had gone about eight rounds when I started noticing that it was really, really bunched up on the 29" circular needle and obviously had to be bigger than 32" or 33" around. So, I took it off. FORTY-FOUR inches around! I have no idea how my gauge can differ so much, and why it would be so much bigger in the round, which is supposed to be tighter. I guess that tells me that my purls are tighter than my knits, unlike most English style knitters. Yikes. I bought a size 5 needle, but I think this one will go on hold until I finish a few other things first.

So, there's the knit update for the day. Hopefully later this week I'll have progress of another sort to show - my first quilt in 20 years!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Just one of the good things about Ravelry is that it motivates me to take pictures of my projects. Here, finally, are my Wyvern socks, finished quite awhile ago, although I left them sitting on the desk with the ends needing woven in for a month or so. I do that all the time. I have an entire baby sweater in the stash trunk that just needs seaming up. Its original intended recipient is far too big for it now. There's a scarf in there too that just needs some beads sewn on the ends. It's been in that state for nearly two years. (Does this make me a process knitter, or just lazy? I'll go with process knitter, thanks.)

Pattern: Wyvern, by Marnie Maclean
Yarn: Colinette Jitterbug, Marble, 1 skein
Needles: KA Bamboo dpns, sizes US 1 and 2

I didn't realize I had my camera on some weird setting that made the background black. It was actually bright in the room, but I liked how it looked this way. You can see the pattern better.

I don't have any other recent knitting FO's to show you, although I've brought a lot of older projects out of storage to take Ravelry photos. Mina's tiny baby sweaters and hats made me so nostalgic, until I saw all my beginner mistakes in them. Why is it that mistakes show up so much better in pictures?

I knitted this two years ago, during the summer I was pregnant. It was one of my first finished projects. Look at that horrendous ribbing! I couldn't figure out how to do the buttonholes, so I just sort of shoved the buttons through the ribbing where the buttonholes should have been. And that sleeve folded over like that? It's hiding an entire row of twisted stitches that looked so embarrassing I didn't want them to be seen! I think I was getting bored with the stockinette and tried to switch to continental for a bit, which used to make me twist stitches. I vaguely remember that. Why I didn't fix the twisted stitches I have no idea. And I put this on Mina all the time! She wore it everywhere and got tons of compliments. Ha ha ha ha ha! Yeah, funny.

So, yesterday I think I had a moment of insanity - I signed up for Mystery Stole 3. You know, deadline pressure, if I didn't do it rightnow then I'd miss out and have to wait a whole year, everyone else is doing it, yada yada. So, I signed up. I knew I had four skeins of Knit Picks Alpaca Cloud in pale gray (Mist?) in the stash trunk and a pretty good bead stash, so I figured it would be fine since I wouldn't have to buy anything. I swatched last night on 2's and my swatch looks like vomit. It's awful. I know lace must be blocked. But still. So I took it with me to the LYS that is closing to ask their opinion, dig around for any other suitable laceweight (their supplies are dwindling what with everything 25% off, but the alpaca is just so slippery it drives me crazy) and to grab some Addi lace needles that just came in and they so kindly emailed me about yesterday. There were only bright colors of Jaggerspun Zephyr left, and nothing else that called to me. I did bring home sizes 1 and 2 47" Addi Lace needles (yay!) and the last seven balls of some dark teal Cascade Pima Tencel (Sahara, perhaps?). The lady working thought my swatch was fine on 2's but I might go down to the 1 anyway - I think the stockinette portions look weird. I was swatching on the only size 2 straights I have, which are Inox and so they're slippery. My gauge may change on the new Addis. So I dug through the bead stash and the color I was thinking of is far too small, but I have clear and clear with silver centers in the right size. Only one more problem - I don't have a crochet hook small enough! I have a size 7 steel hook, which looks like it should work, but it won't fit through the beads. And the beads look almost too big for the yarn to me; I'd go down a bead size if I could. How small do steel hooks come? (Why did I sign up to do this again?)

I need to find my kitty so I can relax and knit for the rest of the night. She goes outside once it begins to get dark - she's too scared during the day for some reason - and when it is warm I typically leave the door open until she comes back inside. We live in a relatively small town (around 90,000 people) in what has always seemed like a nice neighborhood. We had a scare last night though. I was sleeping and J was sitting here in the living room after work (he works until about 1:00 a.m. at the newspaper), and some random guy walked up onto our front porch and tried the door. Thank goodness it was locked, or he would have just walked right in! I woke up to J's voice, loud, and footsteps leaving. I came down to see what was going on, and J explained what had happened and said the guy asked to use the phone. J told him (through the closed door, which is all glass unfortunately) to walk the seven blocks to the grocery store and use theirs. Hopefully that was just an isolated case, some guy who'd had too much to drink (or something). Our next door neighbors had their house burglarized while they were sleeping a couple of months ago, though, so it creeps me out. And my kitty isn't sitting at the edge of the front porch like she usually does. I think MS3 is not a good knit for tonight, since I'll keep jumping up to look for her through the closed and locked door.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

HSKS swag

Look what this cute little owl brought me, all the way from the opposite side of the country!

It's my HSKS package, from Channon! Just look at all the goodies she sent:

Two skeins of Claudia Hand Painted Yarns in the Sharks colorway, which is so gorgeous I gasped and said "ooooooh!" out loud when I unwrapped it; the Swirling Lace Anklets pattern from Heartstrings; Los Lobe Hose tiny sock earrings pattern, which I had never seen before and is so cute I think I might have to make about a thousand of them for a Christmas garland; pretty stitch markers from Blume's Accessories; Crystal Palace size 0 needles; blue sock-shaped point protectors, which will come in so handy when I throw my sock project into my purse every morning; Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans (I'm too scared to eat them!); a Dumbledore bookmark with Ravenclaw colored beads; and two packs of Harry Potter trading cards. Phew - I think that was all of it. Oh, and of course the wonderful drawstring bag, which will be perfect for carrying a small project. Thank you so much Channon!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Ravelry = time suck.

I completely lost track of the fact that I haven't posted in two weeks. I feel like I've been spending tons of time online in knitting-related pursuits, and I have. I guess I just haven't found time to blog in there. About two weeks ago, in a fit of boredom (or perhaps insanity), I volunteered to be a blog reader for this year's
Summer of Socks. That in itself should be no big deal, right? I just wait for emails from my 30 bloggers and write up a weekly report on their progress to go on the SOS blog. It's fun really. Well, on the same day, I also volunteered to be a yarn and pattern editor on Ravelry, which involves checking all the information on my adopted patterns and yarns, making any corrections, reporting duplicates, and entering missing information. I love it. Really, for some inexplicable reason, I love doing this kind of thing. But wow, it takes a lot of time! (Maybe because I adopted so much stuff...hmm.)

I've found some actual knitting time as well. I finished the chevron scarf, finally. It needs to block still, so I don't have a photo yet, but it looks good. I was so sick of knitting it, when I tried it on and saw that the ends fell past my waist (barely) with it wrapped once, I said "done!" and finished it off. There is so much yarn left over that I could probably get a pair of mismatched or striped toddler socks out of it, but I'm so sick of that yarn that I buried it in a stash basket where I couldn't see it anymore. It's pretty, but not my favorite thing to knit with.

I'm almost done with the cuff of my second Hedera, but again, I'm not in love with the yarn. It's Louet Gems Pearl, (which I believe the dyer of my chevron scarf yarn uses as her base, so it's pretty much the same thing) and it just gets so twisted up on itself when I use it that I am constantly in a tangle. I prefer a squishier yarn with a tighter twist, I've learned. My waving lace sock is hibernating for a little while. I like both the yarn and pattern fine, I just have so many things going. Which is of course why I started yet another sock. Hey, Summer of Socks, right? I had to cast on a new one on the first day. This one is the On Your Toes socks pattern from the summer IK, using what I think may be my favorite sock yarn, Colinette Jitterbug. I learned a Turkish or Eastern cast on for this, which, once I figured it out, went faster than a short row toe with provisional cast on, and I think it will fit just as well. I'm making the knee socks. My secret source sells Jitterbug for under $13 per skein (regular price, before the 25% sale even!), so how could I not?! (The secret source is unfortunately closing at the end of August and last I checked only had three skeins of Jitterbug left. I'm still not giving it away though.)

So with all of these socks, plus Kiri still staring at me, what do I do but cast on a sweater? Of course! Actually, I was bad, bad and stashed yarn for three! The one I've already cast on is from a Vogue Knitting from a couple of years ago, and I can't find a picture at the moment. It's a short sleeved cross-front top that's nice and drapey. I'm not using the expensive and impractical silk the pattern calls for, but instead got some King Tut mercerized cotton, which is still nice and shiny and drapey. I also got a bag of RYC Cashsoft Aran from Elann for a great price (project to be determined), and some Dream in Color Classy worsted weight (from my secret source at 25% off) for an Hourglass sweater. I chose the Wisterious colorway, which I wasn't completely sure about in the skein but after swatching I am in total love. Phew! After all that, commence yarn diet! Actually, I did math incorrectly in my head (no surprise there) and I have to go back for another skein of the Dream in Color because I'm 50 yards short. Or so. From what I've seen on Ravelry, a lot of people recommend buying extra yarn for this pattern. So, another 250 yard skein will be plenty.

No, I have no knitting photos today. The camera batteries died right after I snapped a few for Ravelry, so I can't show you anything until it charges. Except for this.

No, it isn't yarn! I do some non-knitting things too. These are some ATC's for a swap. The backgrounds were each done by a different person and I did the embellishment. Each card gets returned to the background maker. It was a wonderful idea, but a huge challenge for me. These are just six of the fourteen cards I needed to do. The others aren't done yet, and they are long, long overdue. I had a really hard time with backgrounds that were either very different from my own style or that were so lovely and textured that they seemed done already. I also am very, very sllloooooooow when it comes to this kind of thing. I'll stare at one ATC for a week or so before deciding what to do with it. Good thing I don't support myself with art.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Oh why not....

Bold for stuff you’ve done,
italics for stuff you plan to do one day, and
normal for stuff you’re not planning on doing.

Afghan/Blanket (baby)
American/English knitting (as opposed to continental)
Baby items
Button holes
Cable stitch patterns (incl. Aran)
Charity knitting
Continental knitting
Cuffs/fingerless mitts/arm warmers
Designing knitted garments
Domino knitting (modular knitting)
Drop stitch patterns
Dying with plant colors
Dying yarn
Fair Isle knitting
Freeform knitting

Garter stitch

Graffiti knitting
Hair accessories
Holiday related knitting
Household items (dishcloths, washcloths, tea cozies…)
Intarsia (ugh!)

Kitchener BO
Knitting a gift
Knitting a pattern from an online knitting magazine

Knitting and purling backwards
Knitting art
Knitting for a living
Knitting for pets
Knitting for preemies
Knitting in public
Knitting items for a wedding
Knitting on a loom
Knitting smocking
Knitting socks (or other small tubular items) on two circulars
Knitting to make money
Knitting with alpaca
Knitting with bamboo yarn
Knitting with banana fiber yarn

Knitting with beads
Knitting with camel yarn
Knitting with cashmere
Knitting with circular needles
Knitting with cotton

Knitting with dog/cat hair
Knitting with DPNs
Knitting with linen
Knitting with metal wire
Knitting with recycled/secondhand yarn
Knitting with self-patterning/self-striping/variegating yarn
Knitting with silk
Knitting with someone else’s handspun yarn
Knitting with soy yarn
Knitting with synthetic yarn
Knitting with wool
Knitting with your own handspun yarn
Lace patterns
Long Tail CO
Machine knitting
Mittens: Cuff-up
Mittens: Tip-down
Moebius band knitting
Norwegian knitting
Olympic knitting
Participating in a KAL
Publishing a knitting book
Short rows
Slip stitch patterns
Socks: toe-up
Socks: top-down
Steeks (yikes!)
Stockinette stitch
Stuffed toys
Teaching a child to knit
Teaching a male how to knit
Textured knitting
Thrummed knitting
Toy/doll clothing
Tubular CO
Twisted stitch patterns
Two end knitting
Writing a pattern

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Lolly beat me to posting these, but last week I created this little mosaic of some new knitting patterns (and designer knitwear) that are inspiring me for fall:

It looks like we chose the same Norah Gaughn patterns that Berocco recently previewed. (If you click over to Flickr the mosaic has notes/credits.) I am especially excited about the Justina skirt, and I've already been looking for some yarn possibilities. I'm going to have to size it down slightly, but it doesn't look like that should be too much trouble. I'm also really liking Unmentionables from the summer Knitty, except if I knit it, I would size it down (for my apparently freaky-small hip size - I don't think I'm really unusually-sized, but knitwear designers obviously don't think people come as small as me) and knit it from the top down as a skirt rather than bloomers. The bloomers idea is cute, but I don't think I'd actually wear it. As a skirt though, this pattern has a lot of potential. I love the ruffle. I like a couple of the sock patterns in this new Knitty as well, but am kind of feeling "meh" about the tops. Most of them are not sized properly for me (I tend to fall precisely in between the XS and S), and they aren't fabulous enough that I'd want to do the math to resize them. I have the yarn in my stash for Coachella and wouldn't have to resize that one, but I'm not sure I'd wear it. I have enough in my queue anyway!

Speaking of queues, I got into Ravelry last week. It was a 4.5 week wait from the time I added my name to the list until I got the invite last Monday. I hear that there is some bitterness out in blogland about the wait time and the belief that only the "cool kids" are being invited. Here is a letter that should explain clearly that this isn't the case. If you are waiting, I sympathize; I know it's hard. It is true though that Ravelry is still in beta - it really is not ready to handle everyone who wants in quite yet. The site so far is fabulous, just as everyone else keeps saying. I am boggled at how much they have done and just how much this site can do - all for free. While you wait, you can watch the news feed, and my biggest, best suggestion is to make sure you have a Flickr account and start taking photos of your stash and projects. I wish I had been working on that while I was waiting because it's going to take forever. Without all the photos, my notebook looks pretty boring. (And I only have a fraction of my stash listed so far, photos or not.) Anyway, the wait is most definitely worth it. Playing around there has grown my queue exponentially!

HSKS Quidditch

1. Ernie MacMillan
2. Narcissa Malfoy
3. Florean Fortescue
4. Petunia
5. Bill
6. Bloody Baron
7. cat
8. a flower in his lapel
9. broomstick
10. Baggins

Linked photo scavenger hunt:

Lucius Malfoy
Movie 5 Poster
Dolores Umbridge
Ginny Weasley

Bonus, because I love Helena Bonham Carter:

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Once again, I have very little knitting progress to report. Actually, I did complete something (two of them!) but I need photos before I give the details. Soon, soon. As soon as I weave in the ends (how I hate doing that!) and we get some sunshine again. We had a few hot days, followed by a downpour complete with thunder and lightning (rare here) on Sunday night. It actually smelled like rain, which is very rare here since it rains so much and stays fairly damp most of the time. I grew up in a drier climate, where a week of summer heat would be broken by the relief of a thunderstorm and the smell of hot earth and concrete soaking up the rain. Here it is rare enough to inspire open doors and windows around the neighborhood, and people out on their porches, music playing softly, admiring the warm, rainy night. After that though, we are back to the usual dreary, cloud-covered skies, and no good light for photos.

I was supposed to do some sewing over the weekend. I managed to get the sewing machine out of the closet upstairs and relocate it to the floor by the kitchen table. That was the closest I got. I was supposed to make some stitch markers too. Do you think I could find those silly pink-handled needle nose pliers anywhere? Of course not! I know they are in the house somewhere and will turn up sometime, but I'm on a bit of a deadline. So do I buy another pair and make the stitch markers, or do I order some purrrrrrty ones off etsy? Decisions, decisions.

My cardigan pattern search has turned up several possibilities. What I've found, though, is that what makes for a good all-purpose layering cardi also makes for very boring knitting.

This first one is from the book Modern Classics by Louisa Harding. I'd probably want it in a solid color, charcoal or black. Can you say BORING to knit?

This next one is from Classic Knits by Erika Knight. I'm really liking this one (although, also, boring knit). Actually, I love everything about this photograph and I think I'd like to go live in it. The dress, the grey tights, the boots, the dark wood shelf full of books, the old windows, even that telescoping lamp. Yeah, I'll just go live there. Really though, I checked out this pattern at the bookstore since I don't have either of these books, and it would be quick. It uses Kid Silk Haze doubled, but I would probably sub the yarn. It occurred to me that I have six balls of Yorkshire Tweed 4 ply in lustre, which is an amazing dark emerald color, that I bought because it was on sale and I needed to spend a certain amount for free shipping, so I bought the number of balls that would take my order just to that amount but not over, yada yada. Anyway, six balls? It's really a random amount. But I wonder if I knit it at a loose gauge if I could get a little cropped, three-quarter sleeve cardi out of it? Joy, from Vintage Knits, takes 10 balls (1200 yards) of the same yarn for the smallest size. It's quite fitted, but has full length sleeves some other details that would use more yarn. Or is it just really, really wishful thinking that I could get a tiny cardi out of 720 yards of discontinued 4 ply wool?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Tagged again! Thanks, BalletMommy! I answered the Seven Random Things meme the week before last, but it was sort of buried under the HSKS trivia in the same post, right here.

So, I didn't actually drag out the sewing machine over the weekend like I had planned. The girlie and I did make a trip to the fabric store and came home with all kinds of things for summer skirts and dresses for her, plus more fabric for bags and a few fat quarters with no specific plans yet. I also set to work with all that newly-frogged Nature Cotton, and completed Mina's half of the project on Saturday. Oh, it's cute! I have to stop at the LYS tonight and get a size 11 24" circ for my half, and then I'll show both of them when I finish. I got a lot of cleaning done over the weekend (the house desperately needed it!), started weeding one of the front flowerbeds, and found some quiet time during Mina's nap on Monday afternoon to sit in the sun on my front porch and do a few rows on Kiri. She is growing slowly. This is definitely a long-term WIP for me, unlike Saturday's almost instant FO. (If you really want to know before I officially reveal it, you could find out by checking my stash spreadsheet. Teehee!) Oh, I also cast on my second Hedera last night. I think that makes five or six active WIP's, plus four or five inactive ones. Sheesh.

Friday, May 25, 2007

I finally got up the courage to do it, to say goodbye, to just let it go.

This was the Sunkist sweater, a free pattern by Through the Loops. The yarn was special; it was birthday yarn, purchased myself, at the LYS, for full price (I never do that, not in sweater quantities). I loved the feel of the Araucania Nature Cotton, and loved how quickly it knit up. So quickly, that the sweater got this big before I noticed that it was too big. This was supposed to be my first sweater larger than baby size, and yes, it was larger! Sunkist is designed with negative ease, and the pattern is written for size 36" only. I have a 32" bust, which meant I was sort of winging it, and supposedly sizing this thing down by quite a lot. Ha. Guess not. Besides that, I realized as I was almost done with that sleeve, that there is no sleeve shaping, and it was a huge baggy tube flopping around under my arm when I tried it on. I still think the pattern is so cute. My attempt didn't cut it, though.

That's ok. I have now reclaimed all five balls of this deliciously soft and cool yarn, and I have much better plans for it. Much! I'm hoping to start tonight - I'm craving a quick knit. I don't have anything going on larger than size 3 needles right now. Oh wait. Except for the cable and lace scarf/shawl/wrap that right now is just half a scarf. But it's almost summer! Bring on the cotton.

It's going to be a colorful, cottony weekend.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Sweater Inspiration

I came across this collection by Kim Hargreaves the other day, and I am in love! But oh how sad that the patterns are only sold as kits through this site! Could I ever justify spending $95 to knit this?

This one might be better. I can buy the pattern by itself and substitute yarn.

(While I've got you over on the Jimmy Beans site anyway, check out these socks. Another pattern for my Summer of Socks plan - I want knee socks for fall!)

I've been perusing a lot of sweater patterns lately. Yes, I know that I am working on two shawls, two scarves, one sock, and have half a sweater sitting over there to my left. (Not to mention the almost complete sweater that is most likely going to be frogged any day now.) I've never completed a sweater for myself. And, I've literally begun itching to knit myself a replacement for my favorite store-bought cardigan. I wear this thing almost every day. It goes with absolutely everything, and serves its purpose of keeping my arms warm while just sort of blending in as my topmost of several layers so you don't really notice I am wearing the same damn sweater all the time, since everything else changes. (At least I am going to keep telling myself that is the case.) It's a basic black cardi, v-neck, ribbed, close-fitting, and made of something synthetic that has withstood EIGHT YEARS of constant wear and machine washing without fading, snagging, or stretching out of shape. Not even a loose button. But...and this makes me sad, because I love this sweater so...I think I've finally washed all of its softness away. The poor thing is shiny in spots, the elbows are starting to show their venerable age, and my skin is starting to notice a mild scratching. And so. I am on a hunt for the perfect replacement cardigan. I would love to knit one. I'm going to stay realistic here though. To replicate the one I have would be madness - it's 4x4 rib in an impossibly fine gauge. That's the thing - a perfect layering cardi has to be fine gauge. But, I am willing to make an attempt. Several of them, really. I may not knit myself my perfect dream cardigan, but I could end up with several nice options in the process. The Karabella pattern above will be one. In worsted weight wool, though, it will be a winter-only sweater. I have enough Yorkshire Tweed 4 ply to knit Joy from Rowan's Vintage Knits (there's a photo here).

What else should I try?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

HSKS Quidditch Trivia

1. Who is the Fat Lady's friend?
- Violet

2. When the Fat Lady was attacked by Sirius Black and fled her portrait, who took over for her as guard of Gryffindor Tower?
Sir Cadogan

3. Usually when Harry is in Dumbledore's office, what are the portraits of previous headmasters doing?
- Snoozing

4. Which one of the Triwizard champions did not go to the World Cup?
- Fleur Delacour

5. Who did Harry give his Triwizard winnings to?
- Fred and George Weasley

The next two are anagrams. Rearrange the letters to get the correct words.
6. Live gong cram la man (two words)
Minerva McGonagall

7. Owl or video
Oliver Wood

8. What author's name appears on the book "Quidditch Through the Ages"?
- Kennilworthy Whisp

9. What does the Keeper do in a game of Quidditch?
- Guards the goal

10. In the Goblet of Fire why did the Mad Eye Moody imposter put Harry's name in the goblet?
- He wanted Harry to win the tournament

Picture Scavenger Hunt (Linked)

Dobby holding his sock from Harry
Cho Chang and Harry's first kiss
Viktor Krum and Hermione at the dance
Mad Eye Moody

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I don't have any knitting progress to show from the last week. None at all. I have started and subsequently ripped at least five socks using three different yarns. Last night I knit the cuff edging of the Waving Lace Sock from the cover of Favorite Socks. It seems a tad big, but I think it's close enough so I'll keep going. And for a mindless sock, since I feel like I always need to have one, I'll just do my second Hedera, since that needs to be done anyway.

I've finally discovered my problem in all this ripping. I knit so incredibly loosely with fine gauge yarns that I have to go down to insane needle sizes to get gauge most of the time. I made a surprise trip into the walking distance LYS last week - the girlie and I went out for a stroll after work and found that it was "Ladies Night" in the business district of my neighborhood, and there were pink bras spray painted all over the sidewalks. The newsstand gave me a coupon for chocolate (they import some amazing stuff!) when I went in to get my magazines, and then I saw the pink balloons flying in front of the yarn shop. A beacon! They weren't having a Ladies Night sale, but I found this anyway:

It's Schaefer Anne, in lovely springtime colors. I wound it almost immediately after getting home and cast on for Roza's Socks from the Spring IK. And almost immediately realized my problem. Gauge. Too. Loose. I would have to go down to at least 00 needles to knit socks with Schaefer Anne. Maybe even 000, if I wanted the soles to be soft and durable. So, this skein may be headed for yet another scarf. I haven't fully decided - I really want socks made with this yarn! I have another skein of Anne in the stash, in more autumnal greens and burgundies. I don't know what to do. They're both so lovely.

There has been other stash enhancement, but I will wait to divulge until I have photos to go along with. Let's just say - whole store 20% off, and Colinette Jitterbug (mis)priced ridiculously low. Hmmm.

HSKS Weekly Trivia

Trivia #1
What's the name of this potion?
This potion has the colour of molten gold, and while exposed to the air, large drops will leap like goldfish above the surface without spilling.
Felix Felicis, in Half-Blood Prince

Trivia #2
Which book is this line from?
"Harry and Cho were now too embarrassed to look at each other, let alone talk to each other; what if Ron and Hermione started going out together, then split up? Could their friendship survive it? Harry remembered the few weeks when they had not been talking to each other in third year; he had not enjoyed trying to bridge the distance between them. And then, what if they didn't split up? What if they became like Bill and Fleur, and it became excrutiatingly embarrassing to be in their presence, so that he was shut out for good?"
Half-Blood Prince

Trivia #3
Who utters these words?
"Oh I am glad I'm not on duty. I wouldn't fancy having to go and tell the Irish they've got to stop celebrating."
Arthur Weasly, in The Goblet of Fire

Also, I've been tagged by Channon! It's one of those "seven random things about me" tags. I'm not going to pass it along - if you are reading this, consider yourself tagged and leave me a comment to let me know you've put it on your blog. I love comments (thank you to those who leave them)! Ok then.

1. I am the eldest of four sisters. No brothers.

2. I've been a vegetarian for 13 years.

3. My favorite color changes every few years. Until just this spring I would have said it was magenta, but now it is aqua/teal/turquoise. (And I think I am even going to buy a turquoise sofa!)

4. Before I collected and hoarded yarn, I used to collect and hoard art supplies. And before that it was cosmetics. I think the yarn thing is here to stay though. I still do have the art supplies, and I keep buying new sketchbooks even though I rarely use them. Old habits die hard.

5. I avoid TV most of the time, with the guilty-pleasure exception of CSI. I love CSI!

6. I am an excellent researcher and starter of projects, but very poor on the whole follow through thing. Take my abandoned master's degree program as example #1, and all the WIP's (in all media) as examples 2 through 94,374,323.

7. I wish I was a librarian. Really! (Need to master item 6 first....)

Ok - you're it!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Wyvern socks are finished (I'll get help with a FO shot soon), the scarves have lost their charm, the weather is getting nicer, and I have shawls on the brain. Those three balls of variegated softness? Destined for Kiri.

Here was my progress as of yesterday. One shawl half from center increases to edge is almost exactly one handspan along what will be the top edge, which for me is 6.25 inches. (See my new larimar ring? A little present to myself!) I'm using size US4 KA Bamboo needles, my very favorite brand so far. The tips are wonderfully pointy for bamboo without being sharp, and they are great for lace. Even so, this shawl is slow-going. I can only work on it after the girlie goes to bed in the evenings, and preferably on my husband's work nights (Tuesday through Saturday) so that I have no interruptions. I don't have a lifeline, as you can see, but so far I've only had to tink partial rows to fix little mistakes. (Knock on wood!) Fortunately it's fairly easy to see if you are off in the pattern before you get to the end of the row. I was confused about the instructions for beginning the shawl, where you knit this little strip of garter stitch three stitches wide, then pick up a stitch from each ridge. I've only knit one other shawl (which happens to be my most favorite and most worn handknit) and it was constructed differently, so this instruction didn't make sense to me until I gave up worrying and just started doing what the pattern told me to do. It turns out that little strip is the center of the long edge, or the part that will be at the back of the neck, and beginning this way makes it blend in with the three stitch garter border along the top edge. I had assumed that since this was a triangle shawl and I was starting with a small number to cast on, that I would be knitting from the point up. Not so! (I have so much to learn!)

I find it fascinating and unexpected that a shawl will shape itself this way. I don't quite understand; logically, I guess I do understand, but I just don't quite have a mental picture of why it works this way. Which becomes apparent when I show you this:

I couldn't find a pattern I liked for the J.O.Y. Aziza I showed off recently, so I decided I'd have to figure it out myself. I just wanted a simple mesh triangle. Not garter stitch. Not stockinette. With bigger holes! I chose a stitch pattern from the Vogue Stitchionary. I wanted a triangle with paired center increases, but knew each half would have to increase by two stitches each row in order to maintain the stitch pattern, so I needed an increase at each edge too. It took about six tries before I got the set up rows figured out and stopped making mistakes with the stitch pattern, but I finally got what I was aiming for and was knitting along happily when the girlie walked up, grabbed a needle, and pulled it out before I knew what had happened. The tencel is so slippery it all came apart, and with all the yo's and k2tog's everywhere it was too hard to fix it. So, I call it a swatch. I pulled the other needle out to get an idea of the shape, and look at that. My three cast on stitches are at the center of the neck edge! And I thought I was knitting from the point up again. You can see where there is a gap in the garter stitch border along the top edge. That's what the confusing set up of Kiri takes care of. I haven't decided if I'm going to modify my set up rows and begin in a similar way or just leave it like that. I don't mind it terribly, and I do have limited yardage to work with, so probably not. Now, if I was a math whiz, I could measure this little swatch, then rip it out and measure the length of the yarn, and then estimate the size of the finished shawl based on the amount of yarn I have to work with. But I really have no idea how to figure that out. It hurts my brain. I am a little afraid that one 525 yarn skein of lace/fingering weight is not enough for a shawl of this shape. I was working on size 5 needles. I think I'll go up to a 6 to stretch the yardage a tiny bit more, but I am still afraid I might get a puny triangle. We'll see.

My sock mojo is still on vacation apparently, and I don't have a single sock on the needles. It makes me a little antsy, like I'm in sock withdrawal! I've also done something terrible to my right wrist, probably involving keyboard and/or mouse, and I can't knit tonight. So, it's a reading night. There are far too few of those nowadays.