Sunday, December 30, 2007

A Little of This, A Little of That: Part 3


I've finished the child-sized companion to the Heart Monkey Hat I posted about a few days ago, although the child has not yet tried it on so I only have the above to show for now. I've written out the pattern (including charts) for both hats, and will post the pattern in the sidebar once I figure out the best way to do it. Can't wait to get started on your Valentine's Day knitting? A PDF of the pattern lives here (or at least I hope it does--this is my first try with this kind of thing).

For J___'s hat, I wanted something a little softer and bulkier (i.e. faster to knit) than I used for the monkey's hat. My LYS (Renaissance Yarns) had Louet Gems Bulky in red, but no bulky pink so I used Cascade 220 for the light pink. I think that the hearts would look more "solid" in the bulky, and once J____ has had a chance to try it on I might duplicate stitch the hearts if they need some extra heft. The Louet bulky has an almost cotton-y feel to it, although it's 100% wool--it's very nice on the hands.

In other news, the second Bird in Hand mitten is coming along just fine:


I'm past the challenging braids, and found that by NOT doing all three in the space of 12 hours basically elimates the hand cramping that plagued me on the first mitten. Imagine that! This has moved from a Christmas deadline to a mid-January birthday deadline (sorry, E____ G____, I'm not talking about you).

And last but not least, I cast on the second Stripey Sock, and the stripes look like they are lining up pretty well so far:


The new toe looks like it might have a row or two more of the teal at the tip of the toe, but I'm willing to live with that. I'll try to make sure that the heel hits at the same row, and it will all even out on the feet.

Friday, December 28, 2007

A Little of This, A Little of That: Part 2

More updates on miscellaneous projects (though unfortunately not more tiny mittens).

Heart Monkey Hat

I'm going to make you one of these for real if you don't hit next season, Ritchie Sexson.

My 2.5 year old friend J______ has a friend who goes everywhere with her. This friend is a red monkey with pink hearts, going by the name "Heart Monkey". Now that it's getting a little chilly, I thought that Heart Monkey could use a hat to keep warm. Like the tiny mittens, this worked up very quickly--not a lot of worry about gauge or anything. I charted the hearts, and will post the chart & pattern once I knit the companion child-sized hat--it's not fair if ONLY the monkey has a new hat! Heart Monkey's hat is knit in Cascade 220, but J____'s hat will be in something softer and with the colors reversed.

Yesterday evening, I bound off the first of the Stripey Socks, which I've been working on a little at a time since E______ visited over Thanksgiving. I really like the colors & stripey-ness of the pattern, although I still sort of wish that I'd chosen the red Kaffee Fassett Regia Sock yarn that E____ used, instead of the blues.

Stripey Sock1

The pattern is Renaissance Yarn's basic toe up sock pattern. The next challenge will be trying to start the yarn in basically the same part of the repeat, so that the socks will match exactly. Or maybe the next challenge will be locating the pattern, with my notes on it, which I seem to have misplaced. That makes the second pattern this week!!!! I'm losing things right and left!!!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Little of This, A Little of That: Part 1

So Christmas was fun, and the rest of the year looks like it will take care of itself. My New Year's plans include fighting off a cold that is trying to creep in, and finishing up some unsent packages, presents, and cards. In the spirit of tying up loose ends, the next couple of posts are going to be a jumble of updates / ramblings / manifestos. Or as some would call it, "the usual".

Although I've given (or will give) quite a few handmade gifts, I've only received one handmade item so far (not counting the gross acrylic hat my brother picked out of a charity hat collection as a gag gift), this beautiful scarf from L____:

Scarf from Laura

As much as I'd like to wear big wooly scarves, my delicate Nordic skin can't take it. The ends and middle neck of this scarf are an ultrasuede-ish fabric with zero wool content, so it isn't scratchy at all, and I love the patches of Minkee and raw silk combined with the cotton fabrics. I love it, and in the short time I've had it I've received several compliments. C_____ would like to know where that bird fabric came from!

In other gift news, the Christmas project that I've been knitting since October but haven't been able to blog about went over very well. Unfortunately, it's been too dark here to get a very good photo, so here's a not-fantastic photo of the whole thing:


It's Evelyn Clark's Shetland Triangle, from the book Wrap Style. I used two skeins of Sundara Yarn's Aran Silky Merino in Wine, with only a very small amount leftover. I really love this yarn, and can't wait for Sundara to start dying a lighter weight version of it. The pattern is very straightforward, with a structure similar to the Lace Triangle, so it didn't give me any trouble at all. I did forget to watch my yarn there towards the end, and had to rip back in order to start the edging earlier, but that was 100% user error. Here's a slightly better photo of a portion of the shawl:


I've wanted to make this shawl in this yarn since seeing Brooklyn Tweed's version, and I'm really glad that I did. I'm seriously thinking about adapting the fir cone pattern to make a stole for myself, which I think I'm a little more likely to wear.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas, and Wish You Were Here . . .

. . . to help me finish my Christmas cards!


(Really, they're New Year's Cards. So they might still make it in time. But I have a couple of other projects I could use some help with)

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Madness Continues


I gave away the entire first batch of mini mittens on Friday, but was able to replenish the stash over the weekend. Some of these will end up on the packages that still need to be wrapped, some will probably be given away tomorrow, and others may become part of my 2008 Mitten Master Plan. I'm still developing this master plan, along with some resolutions, but I can tell you now that it involves a lot of little mittens, and maybe some little socks, too.

Here's how the mittens look when they're feeling sinister:


Menacing, aren't they? If you're looking for the pattern, you'll find it here. It's very straightforward, requiring only tiny dpns and a very small amount of yarn. If you're a knitting ninja, you can attempt two at a time, magic loop style, like this pair on Ravelry. I knit two of this batch magic loop style, but one at a time and I wimped out and used dpns for the tiny thumbs.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Spoiler Alert: RSC Dec 2007

My final Rockin' Sock Club arrived today, and the colors are very nice. The colors look darker when wound than in the hank, more so than usual--either that, or I'm remember a spoiler hank (which could vary some from mine) rather than my actual hank. The pattern is interesting, as usual, but it's much too early to decide whether or not I'll knit it with this yarn. Click above if you want to spoil the surprise!

I'm a little relieved that this sock club is done. I'm tired of waiting for packages to arrive in Washington after they've arrived in Europe, and I'm tired of seeing the skeins of yarn pile up, mostly unknit, but overall I generally liked the yarns and patterns. There are a couple that don't suit me, but not any more or less than I expected going in.

The only place that the club really fell short for me was in the opinions expressed on the blog & in other places. I felt that some people over-emphasized the exclusiveness of the club (where are we, the USSR?), and some people posted fairly nasty messages when they were disappointed by the pattern or color. I really can't get on board with either one of those attitudes--one knitter isn't superior to another because of membership in a club, and part of joining a "surprise" club is that you might not love every surprise. Basically, I think that a vocal minority dominated the conversation, and not in a constructive way at all. I love the STR yarn, and there are plenty of non-exclusive colorways for those who will have our noses pressed up against the window next year.

Enough of my kvetching--I've got my December yarn, and I may have to break into it with a tiny mitten. There's no chance that the amount of yarn in a tiny mitten would prevent me from finishing a sock, right? Today I gave away the seven finished mittens, but knit another two this evening, and I hope to have replenished the tiny mitten stash over the weekend. It's the best way I know right now to avoid the spector of Christmas Card Failure (2007 edition).

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Mini Mitten Madness


WARNING: Do not start making Mini Mittens if you have anything left to finish up for Christmas. It's hard to stop knitting them, or I think it probably will be--I haven't tried it yet. In fact, I've been trying to figure out where I've stashed the rest of my sock yarn scraps. So far, I've dug out some Trekking (the 2 yellow-ish mittens), some Disco (the shiny blue mitten), and some Sundara (the blue with a red stripe. I've started mitten number six (leftover Socks that Rock in Olive Garden), so you'll excuse me if I cut this short!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

And I Won't Get Any Older Now the Angels Want to Wear My Red . . . . Mitten?

Krampus, Mozart, and Mitten

I'm not sure if our friends Mozart and Krampus are going to let the angels win on this one, though! I knit up this little mitten last night, it was fast and I've been looking for some ornaments to whip out in the next couple of days. The pattern is by Andrea Kopacek, and is available here. Go ahead and cast on--it won't take long to finish! I used yarn that came as a bonus in my last Loopy Ewe package (so I'm not exactly sure what it is), and size 0 bamboo Addi dpns.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Last Time You'll See My Booty

I love these colors, click only if you're prepared to spoil the surprise! Note that my photo came out a little bright-ish, but I'm too lazy to reshoot. Maybe this spoiler is more representative.

After six months in the Yarn Pirate Booty Club, I'm hanging up my scabbard for the time being. Overall, I've been very pleased with the club colors, especially these last two shipments. And maybe the first two, and maybe the two middle colors too. I'm not a huge fan of merino/tencel yarn, but maybe once I knit with it I'll feel differently.

So it's not you, Booty Club, it's me--I'm declaring 2008 a sock-club catch-up year, at least for now. I have a huge backlog from this year's clubs, and So only one more spoiler left in 2008 (the final Socks that Rock installment), and then it's time to actually knit some of this yarn.

Surprisingly, this wasn't the best thing that I got in the mail today--I had a little visit from Krampus, compliments of a friend in Vienna. In addition to some birch sticks to beat me with, he brought me Mozartkugeln, the made-in-Austria-not-Germany kind. Ahhhh, Mozartkugeln, how I've missed you! Almost as much as I've missed my Viennese friend.

It'll Roll With Me

Chevron Scarf Mosaic

It's time to finish some of the things that I've been sloooooowly working on for the holidays, and I did make some progress this weekend. Case in point--the Chevron Scarf. I started this back in May, and it's entirely unacceptable that it has taken me this long to finish. Seriously, it's only about 400 yards of yarn, and the pattern is simple and easy to memorize. But after the excitement of seeing how the colors mingle together and how quickly it grows in the first 10 inches, there's not a lot to look forward to for another 40 or so inches, so it drags out a little. During the summer in particular, it languished. But in the fall, it started to look good again, and it's been my carry-along project for awhile. The ends are woven in, but it still could use a good steam pressing (along with the first Chevron, another Christmas project that recently had its ends woven in). This is a gift for a friend who loves to accessorize, and who looks good in rich colors.

Here are the project details. I used Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport, in Red Rover and Pioneer (at least I think it's Pioneer), one skein of each. There's a little left over, but I didn't want to risk running out of the Red Rover before knitting the edges. I used size 8 knitpicks options needles, which were a little slick for a highly mobile project, but nice and pointy. The pattern is from Last Minute Knitted Gifts.

This is the 4th most popular scarf on Ravelry (the other three are free patterns), and in the top 20-ish patterns overall. Isn't knitting always a popularity contest? There are currently 828 Chevron Scarves on Ravelry, and 802 in queues waiting to be cast on. 365 Chevrons have been completed-no, wait--now it's 367. I can't tell for sure who has finished the most scarves, but my money is on Tiennie--she's finished three. Koigu and Socks that Rock are the most popular yarns used by far, and only 34 scarves used the yarn that I used. Isn't Ravelry awesome?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Baby Bird, Come Back Home


The right Bird in Hand Mitten is complete, and currently soaking in woolwash. I think I covered this in my earlier post about the mittens, but I'm using Cascade 220 on US #1 needles. I weighed the yarns after finishing the first mitten, and I used about 22 grams of the cream and about 39 grams of the blue--I didn't weigh the skeins before I started, so there could be some variation. It isn't super apparant in the photo, but the back of the mitten is a little lumpy--the palm is much smoother. I think that some of the lumpiness will block out, though, and even if it doesn't I'm not concerned.

After the hand was done (including some of the finishing because I wanted to see the picot edge), I was torn between knitting the thumb right away or casting on the left mitten immediately. I couldn't resist the pull of the bird:


The thumb took longer to knit than it should have--I basically spent all morning on it, the knitting itself should have gone much faster. That little bird kept me going, though! The embriodery is a little bit fussy, but it's not too difficult. I used two and three plys of the yarn (instead of all four) for most of it to try to get a crisper look, but I don't think that it made a huge difference.

I have a lot of complaints about my gnarled, cramped fingers after knitting the Estonian Braid, but I can't argue with the results:


I really love the way the first braid looks, right above the picot edge. It made it easier to sew up the picot edge, too--it was easy to see which row I was sewing to in relation to the braid. I'm not quite as enthusiastic about the other two braids--they look nice, and are an interesting design feature, but I could take them or leave them.

I've got a couple of other Christmas items to work on this week, but it's mostly boring stuff--weave in ends, wash / block, etc. Oh, and then there are Christmas cards, which I normally start in November, but haven't started yet. I suspect that the left Bird in Hand mitten will provide an execellent diversion from all of this!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Bird Fly High By the Light of the Moon

Bird in Hand in Progress

I know it looks like I'm knitting this a little tooooo fast (and my finger joints would agree with you). But really, I've been working, and shopping, and doing holiday prep stuff, and getting the same amount of sleep as usual. Although if I could stay up all night, I'd probably be able to finish the main part of the mitten, and possibly the adorable bird thumb.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

If I am Then Can I Just Fly Away?

So one way to battle Bee Fields Fatigue is . . .


. . . to start a new project. This is the right cuff of a new mitten, started last night. The pattern is Bird in Hand by Kate Gilbert, the yarn is Cascade 220, the needles are size 1 Addi Lace. This project started so fast that I'm still not totally sure what happened.

The timeline (Pacific Time) went like this:

5 pm: I see this post mentioning that the Bird in Hand Mittens are a popular outgoing link from Ravelry. I check out the post, and photos of the mittens in progress.

6:30pm: I purchase pattern (and this one too!), plan to start them after Christmas.

8:30pm: I wind a skein of blue yarn that I was planning to use for felted clogs, and dig out a skein of off-white yarn, and cast on.

10:30pm: My hands are cramped and twisted by the first two Estonian braids. I decide that I should stop knitting for the evening.

Midnight: I stop knitting.

Sunday, 7:45am: I start knitting again.

I think that these mittens will make a great gift, and at this pace (which my gnarled joints can't possibly keep up) will be finished quickly. The mittens are dense (size 1 needles + worsted weight yarn!), but that also means that they will be really warm. I have some other holiday prep on the docket today, and my hands really can use a break, but I'm now three rows into the main pattern and am itching to get back to the bird.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

To See the Frog Eat the Goggle-Eye Bee


As I've been working on the Bee Fields Shawl over the last couple of weeks, I've felt like I'm really cooking on this project. Sure, the rows are really long, but I haven't had to rip back or perform any MacGyver maneuvers to keep up with the pattern. I was ready to start the third section a couple of days ago, and figured that I'm entering the home stretch--last section, right?

Wrong. Using Jessica's shawl calculator, the shawl is only 52.6% completed after 161 rows. Skeptical, I decided to recalculate using the number of stitches in each row--I started with 27 stitches, and increase 4 stitches each row. Using this method, the % complete isn't much different (54.9%), but that extra 2% makes me feel better. Now, 5 rows later, I have my first giant bee and I'm 58.1% complete. I like that giant bee, although I'm not totally used to the new pattern yet. I still really like the pattern, and I really like the yarn, but I'm getting a little tired of looking at it. I purchased some Lime & Violet sock yarn recently from the Loopy Ewe, and although it's very nice (and called Sasquatch--who can't get behind that?) I have no desire to knit it. I realized this morning that it's because it's very close in color to the Tupelo Gold of the Bee Fields Shawl. See?


It's not you, Sasquatch . . . it's me.

I think that I'll have to put it away for awhile (a loooong while), or trade it with someone else for a different color. It's a shame, though--it's the first time I've managed to get any of this yarn, and I should have picked a different color.

P1040960Now that I've realized that this isn't "almost done", I should focus more on some holiday knitting. There aren't a lot of things I'm knitting for Christmas this year, and I've been gradually completing things over the whole year. I still have finishing to do on many of the projects, though. My secret project is nearly finished, I'm including the photo on the right to give you a peek at the color to give this blog entry a more festive feel--not all green! The poppy socks are meant to be Christmas gifts as well, but I haven't been working on them much lately. Time to pick up the pace (or decide to finish them at my leisure, for myself).

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Better Than Knitting Photos . . .

. . . are photos of the yarn from Spincycle Yarns that I bought today at Urban Craft Uprising:


Blue-Faced Leicester handspun, color: Ruination


Merino/Silk handspun, color: Antique Glass

There has been plenty of knitting lately, but nothing new or close to completion (and not enough good light for pretty photos). It's time to start on other Christmas crafts, too--cards, especially. Now that the heat is back (new furnace), I don't have that as an excuse so I should really get cracking. I'm using a New Year's theme this year after a couple of years of Christmas-y colors, so that will buy me an extra week to finish up!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Two Toe Tuesday: House Socks in the Nick of Time

Hearth & Home Socks

It's been over two months since I last finished a pair of socks. This wouldn't seem so surprising if I hadn't started three pair during that time, which means that I had FIVE pair of socks on the needles at once. I will list them, as proof: House Socks, Poppies, Mr. Stripey, Stripey Sock, School Bus Socks. Let us not speak of pair #6, the Pink Footies, which haven't seen action since November 2006 and should really be ripped out because I don't like the way they look and I don't want to knit socks on DPNs ever again.

It's quite a relief to be finished with this pair, and not just because I wasn't sure I'd ever finish another sock. The pattern comes from Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitters book, it is the Hearth & Home Eyelet Anklets in the Ridgeway Sock Architecture.

What I don't like about the pattern: I don't love the eyelet/ribbing trim at the top of the sock, and I found the pattern very frustrating--not because it was difficult or counterintuitive, but because I had to shuffle through a stack of photocopies every time I needed to move from one section to another. This drives me totally bananas, because inevitably I end up missing a page and then I have to dig out the book and figure out what's next.

Also, in order to ensure a proper fit, a gauge swatch is pretty important, and I prefer not to swatch for socks. The swatch determines the "magic numbers" that determine the number of stitches you start with, so if you start the toe without doing a swatch, weird adjustments may be necessary. The solution is to use the same yarn repeatedly, or to have a better understanding of the architectures so that I can fudge without referring to my Calculus textbook (especially since I threw it away 15 years ago).

What I do like about the pattern: The sock looks weird off the foot, but it fits really, really well and I think it looks good. The socks are for me to wear around the house, and I like the little bit of pattern on the top and the cushy heel. Despite all of my complaining, I do like to learn new techniques, and the concept behind Cat's sock architectures is fascinating.

What I like about the yarn: This is the first time I've used Melody by Jojoland, and I really like this yarn. I love the long color repeats, and how the two strands blended together in the socks. I think it would be interesting to use strands of two different colorways. I had no issues with splitting, and only minor problems with tangling that were entirely my fault.

I haven't washed & blocked the socks, because we still don't have heat--it looks like we need a new furnace, not just a new part for the 16 year old furnace. This would have been very good information to get on day 1 of the furnace outage, instead of day 6. Anyway, I'll wash & block later--for now, I need to put those puppies on!

Last night I cast on another Unoriginal Hat, again in Leticia, but in the Rook-y colorway:


I love the color of this yarn, too, and it seems a little less thick/thin than the last skein. Maybe the winding twisted the yarn? I may have used more tension when winding the first skein, although this one looked fluffier to begin with. In any case, I'm looking forward to another quick knit--in between working on all of those socks.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Quick Like A Bunny


Wow, this hat was quick to knit. Fixing "the Problem" wasn't too tough, either, and I can't tell which cable it was that was fixed. The hat is pretty snug on my giant head, but it doesn't pop off or anything. I haven't yet washed & blocked it, so I'm not sure how much it will grow--this is definitely waiting until the heat is back on. In any case, the person I'm planning to give this to has a smaller head than I do, so I think that the fit will be fine. The closer-up photo below makes the hat look taller than it is, probably because it's over a Pyrex measuring cup with a ball of yarn on top of it. The color is pretty true in both of these photos, they were taken in a sunny spot. Yesterday's photos were taken with the help of a full-spectrum bulb, so the colors look a little different (redder).

Although I wish that the thickness of the yarn was more consistent, I do really like the yarn and the finished product. If I believed that the yarn would come in time, I'd probably order a few more skeins to knit up for Christmas. I keep having to remind myself that I already have enough holiday knitting on my plate, and that late November isn't the time to add more!

Unoriginal Hat

Saturday, November 24, 2007

This is What Cables Look Like (Right??)


My long-awaited Ravens landed on my doorstep yesterday, and I cast on the Yarn Harlot's Unoriginal Hat immediately. I'm planning to make a couple of these for Christmas, and I'd like to get one of them in the mail fairly soon, so the quickness of the project really appeals. Plus, it's a c-u-t-e hat without being cutesy or dull.

So far, the hat looks great (I'm almost half-way through), right? What's that you say? You'd like to see the other side? Here it is:


Hmmm. . . that doesn't look quite the same, does it? I dropped a stitch, and it fell quite a ways--six rows (or halfway back to the cast-on edge). I think I must have dropped it when I was moving to bigger needles so I could try it on, that's the only explanation. I'm trying to decide whether it will be quicker to rip or fix, I'm leaning towards fix at the moment. Since this yarn is unevenly spun, the stitches aren't super crisp so the fix should be easy to hide. However, the unevenness also makes it tough to see if I'm picking up the right stitches. Either way, hopefully this will be done tonight!

The vitals: Leticia Yarn by Blue Moon Fiber Arts in the Valkyrie colorway. The yarn is very, very soft and I love the colors, although I wish that it was a little more evenly spun. Size 10.75 (7.0mm) Addi Natura 16" needles, with help from an longer INOX pair that doesn't magic loop well.

p.s. Thanks for the warm furnace thoughts. Hopefully it will be fixed on Monday or Tuesday, it depends on how long it takes for the part to arrive.

Arrrrgh, more booty!

This arrived yesterday, and it may be my favorite Yarn Pirate Booty Club shipment so far! It took a little longer to arrive than usual due to a mailing glitch, so I did peek at some other spoilers first. I was still surprised--the colors are so vibrant!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

That Sugar Cane That Tasted Good

Sugar Cane

This is sugar cane on Kauai . . . it's helping me think warm thoughts. Our furnace malfunctioned yesterday (it's a bad sign when you wake up to the smell of chemical smoke), so no heat for Thanksgiving. No heat is pretty manageable even though it's chilly (44 degrees right now), but we also woke up to a broken coffee maker. That's just wrong!!!

Hope that you're warmer than I am, and enjoying delicious Thanksgiving foods! I should start cooking soon, but I'm having trouble tearing myself away from the electric blanket. And the dachshund heaters, too.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Two Toe Tuesday: Now, With Two Totes!


E____ G_____ is visiting from Boston, and we've been touristing and crafting up a storm. You want evidence? You've got it. Above, the two toes we've knit in Kaffe Fassett Regia Sock Yarn. The pattern is a simple toe-up, afterthought heel sock from Renaissance Yarns. Before I tell you who knit which color, E____ wants me to ask which one looks prettier. I think they both look good!

Last night, I gave E___ a sewing lesson. She already knows how to sew a little, but she's very detail oriented and wants to learn the right way to do things. Which means that my mom should teach her instead of me, because my sewing can be a little sloppy. Anyway, we each made an Artsy Clutch from Amy Karol's "Bend the Rules Sewing". Very simple, cute project, and I had all of the materials on hand (except the elastic, which I have but couldn't find). E___'s is on the right in the photos below--she picked great fabrics & I only made her cry a couple of times during the lesson. These are pretty small, but they hold the single Stripey Sock just fine.


I can definitely see making more of these, possibly with pieced fabrics or embellished fabrics. Rhinestone unicorn, anyone? Maybe a little larger, too, and maybe I'll try a little harder to center the elastic loop. In any case, I'm pretty happy with the way this turned out.

Tissue HoldersIn other sewing news, I did a little sewing before E___'s arrival. My Mom's church bazaar was the day after E__ arrived, and I didn't make anything at all in advance. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! It turned out fine, though--before going to the airport, I whipped out some fabric tissue holders using this pattern. It's a good use for small fabric leftovers, and they are very quick to put together. I only sold 5 of them this year (vs. 12 or 14 last year), so I have plenty left for Christmas gifts. Next year, maybe I'll make some with matching eyeglass cases or little tote bag things. I'll try not to just save the tissues that are in these for a year, and then resell them when they get musty. That's bad crafting!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Petals Collection: Kit #3

The final installment of Sundara Yarn's Petals Collection arrived today, and it is lovely--possibly my favorite of the three I received (although I also love Poppy a lot). Enjoy the spoilage, if you dare! I'm really going to miss the club, I managed somehow to resist the Seasons Collection. I think that in 2008 I will not belong to any sock clubs, at least not at the beginning of the year. The backlog is tremendous right now, I need some catch-up time. Let's hope the willpower holds up!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Too Soon the Sunrise Will Wake Her

Hawaiian Sunrise

You have to get up pretty freaking early to capture the sunrise in Kauai--this was the view from our hotel, on our last day of vacation, shortly after I woke up to register for the Madrona Fiber Arts Festival. Now it's back to work, and dealing with the annoying realities of travel--laundry, broken souveniers, spilled lotions in suitcases, the usual. Plus, while we were gone the Tivo channel changer moved, so none of our regular shows recorded. And today, Frieda got out of the yard and ate something that upset her stomach. Repeatedly. In the Living Room.

Ah . . . so good to be back . . .

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Where Does the Sky Begin?

House Sock at Pu'u o Kila Today we drove all the way around Kauai (until the road ended) to see the Waimea Canyon and the Ocean View from the Pu'u o Kila Lookout. I took about a gazillion photos--it's pretty unbelievable that such a huge canyon exists on what is really a pretty small island. It feels very cliche to even write about how beautiful this Island looks, but there isn't any way around it--the lush greenery, the crazy red canyon, the blue, blue ocean.

Eventually, I'll get more of the photos together, but in the spirit of knitting blogs, here's one of Mom holding the 2nd House Sock at the Pu'u o Kila Lookout. It's really tough to see where the ocean ends and the sky begins, the view is amazing.

Due to an unfortunate foot sprain about a week ago (Mom, not me), we're not doing a ton of walking / hiking on this trip--it's a lot of drive, get out & see what's around or shop, get back in the car and drive some more. Although in theory I'd love to do some more outdoorsy stuff, it's really too sunny and hot for my pasty Northwest skin to be outside all the time. I'm much happier in the shade. Now that we've seen the big nature-y sights, though, tomorrow will probably involve some beach walking / pool sitting time . . . at least until we go to the inevitable Luau! I have a feeling that it's going to feel very Brady Bunch, but the lure of roast pig is too much for me to resist.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Garden / Shopping Isle?

Kauai Nov 2007

Kauai is unbelievably gorgeous. Yesterday we spent the morning getting our bearings and getting some basic shopping out of the way, and spent the afternoon driving up the East / North coasts. And then shopping some more. Despite the sign above, no yarn has been purchased so far--I'm waiting until we visit fabric stores before spending any dough on craft supplies. The yarn store did have some really nice yarns, although the one I liked best was a mohair blend, which I'm afraid to knit with. Today we're changing hotels and then driving up the west coast of the island . . . I'd better get cracking!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Hey, I Was Walking My Bag

New Knitting Bag

Several weeks ago, Ravelry was all abuzz about a new knitting bag, made in Seattle by Tom Bihn. It was designed with input from a Knitty contest that I somehow never heard about. I ordered mine as soon as it came out, and picked it up at their showroom a couple of days later. Evidently, many of the colors sold out right away, so I'm glad that I jumped on it so quickly.

I've been carrying the bag every day for a few weeks, including using it as a carry-on on my flight from Orlando - Seattle. It has plenty of room for the things I carry on a daily basis, which can range from a single small project, a book, and my wallet to a couple of projects and files and my laptop when I need it for meetings. The bag has two clear zippered pockets at the top of the bag, a key leash that clips to a ring inside the bag, and a small project bag that also can clip to a ring inside. I didn't have the project bag with me when I took the photos above, but it's pretty cool--it's plenty big for a sock project (or two), and it has a ring inside to thread your yarn through.

In the photo on the right, the bag (which is not at all full) contains:
  • My Chevron Scarf knitting bag
  • The finished Lace Triangle
  • Suite Francaise, the book I was reading while travelling
  • Hello Kitty make-up bag
  • Anemoi Mittens (you never know when it will be chilly)
  • Wallet
  • IPod and Phone (unfortunately, not the same device)
  • Various papers, pens, etc. in the clear zippered pockets

This morning I took out the Lace triangle and the mittens, and added two more knitting projects and a zippered pouch with notions in it, and it still doesn't feel stuffed.

The bag stays on my shoulder, and I can hold it in one hand to put on my shoulder, unless I'm carrying my laptop. I was a little worried about the open top, because I tend to throw stuff in the bag, and I don't want things to fall out when the bag falls over (like in the car). It hasn't been a problem, though--I just throw loose stuff in the zippered pocket and zip it up. I use a small zippered pouch from Queen Bee as a wallet, and I clip it to the key strap (see bottom right photo below). It's easy to find when I need it, and it would be tricky to steal without me feeling it--good for travelling. Sometimes I forget to tuck it back into the bag, and then I feel like an idiot, but at least it's color coordinated.

The exterior fabic is very durable, and the sock project bag has enough heft that the needles won't poke through (or at least they haven't yet). The olive / cocoa colors of my bag are perfect for fall & winter, and are a nice change from the extremely bright Messenger Bag that I carried around all summer. Plus, the plain color doesn't hide my Zombie Mustache button--I love that the kids are wearing 80's style buttons again. It means that big '80's hair is just around the corner.

The only concern I have is that in very rainy weather (there was quite a downpour in Orlando), the top is open and water could potentially get in the bag. Realistically speaking, though, I'm not outside in really bad weather all that often, and usually it isn't a big surprise. It rains a lot here, but there's not usually torrential rain.

Overall, I'm very pleased with the bag so far, and am planning to take it with me to Kauai. I seriously cannot believe that I haven't heard of this company before, I am now considering several other bags, and maybe another project or organizer bag for this one. If you want to read more about this bag, there's a (far more informative) review here.

New Knitting Bag - More

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Two Toe Tuesday: Dog Nose Edition


Oh, Frieda--why are you not more impressed with my knitting? Wait a sec, I forgot that dachshunds can only destroy knitting, and that Frieda's archenemy is the sock. Well, socks are one of her archenemies. Her other archenemies include:
  • Gretel
  • Chester, a beagle at the dog park who has been antagonizing her by putting her whole head in his mouth since they were puppies. He doesn't bother any other dogs, and is otherwise well behaved.
  • Vacuum Cleaners

Note that I took six photos with flash (it's too dark without, so I'll settle for iffy colors) and she barely moved.

Back to the new toe. I started the second House Sock on Sunday, it may be another good project to take on my trip. If there's room in my bag of the 10 pages of photocopied pattern bits that are necessary to complete the sock, that is. Also, I'm not sure how this is possible, but my notes are a little sketchy on sock 1, so there is some danger that the socks won't be identical. Since the measurements are all for my feet, I'm sure that they will be close enough--they are House Socks, not Wear Out on the Town and Show 'Em Off socks. This should be the last project I start before Thursday, as I have a TON of work work to do between now and then, and I am bound to make mistakes if I start something without a little focus.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

I Don't Know Why You Say Goodbye

Good-bye, Mystery Stole 3:


Hello, Autumn Lace Scarf:


I've been thinking about abandoning the Mystery Stole for awhile now, and today I finally took the plunge and ripped it out. I started a little late, and although I like the pattern (even the controversial "wing") my motivation really dropped off after I started two other lace shawls, and I don't think it's coming back. The yahoo groups dynamic really turned me off, too--way too many messages that were totally off topic, repeats of other topics, or that attacked other knitters. Also, I don't like knitting from gigantic charts, I like patterns that repeat across more than really large patterns. Although it does look nice in the photo above, doesn't it? That's natural light for you. The Hanami Stole by the same designer is more up my alley, it's already in my Ravelry queue.

I'm glad that I finally ripped it out, and not just so that I can reuse the yarn for another project that I'm more interested in right now. I have a small tendency to hold onto projects that I've lost interest in or that have a flaw that I'm not ready to address. This is definitely a step in the right direction.

I'm now using the yarn for Evelyn Clark's Autumn Lace Scarf, which is available on her brand new website. I think I've overstretched it a bit above, and a stray MS3 bead has weaseled it's way into the frame. I'm making it wider by one pattern repeat, so that there will be three large leaves across instead of two. In laceweight yarn, the scarf is about 9 inches wide, and since I have plenty of extra yarn, a little wider can't hurt. So far, so good. The yarn is Alpaca with a Twist Fino, and I'm using size US4 needles--same as the Mystery Stole.

This seems like a good project to take on vacation. Its nice and portable, but with enough patterning to keep it interesting. I'll also take the Bee Fields, most likely, and the Poppy Socks so that I have a choice of projects. It's hard to tell whether I'll have a lot of non-aircraft knitting time & mojo, and what I'll feel like working on. With two very long flights, there'll be plenty of time to mix it up--now I just need to make it through three and a half very stressful days of work, and I'll be ready to go!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Bee-tch is Back

Swarm Me

It's been awhile since I've posted about the Bee Fields Shawl, and there's a good reason for it. The reason is that I stopped working on it during the reign of the Lace Triangle, but I recently picked it up again and I think I'm back in the groove. The rows are really, really long now, so it's slow going. There are only another 15 rows or so until I move out of the bee swarm and into the last section. I really like that the sections have gotten progressively more difficult, though I wonder if it means that there will be a lot of ripping in the last section, which introduces something like five new chart symbols. I'm also terrified of the giant tangled mess that I still haven't sorted out after screwing up one of the skeins from my kit, but I'll face that fear later, when I use up all of the other yarn in the kit.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

And There's a Rat in Someone's Bedroom

Frieda Mouse

I've been trying all week to get a photo of Frieda in her Halloween costume, and this is really the best that I could do. She's not very enthusiastic, but at least she tolerates me . . .

Monday, October 29, 2007

It Was a Fine Idea at the Time


Where has October gone? When I started these socks only a few weeks ago, I had big plans for Socktober. Knit this pair of socks from scratch, finish one or two pair that are already in progress, maybe throw in a Halloween craft project or two . . .

Let's just say that it didn't happen, and move on. The Poppy Socks are just past the heel turn, and I'm still enjoying the pattern. I'm not yet to the knit-foot-forever stage, but it will probably be here soon. I love, love, love the color of the yarn and the way that it's knitting up. I'm hoping that I can finish these before my upcoming mini-vacation--Mom and I are going to Kauai over Veteran's Day weekend. Any recommendations?

Spoiler Alert: RSC Oct 2007

Here's the penultimate Rockin' Sock Club yarn from the 2007 club. There are six total, right?

I love this yarn, although it's mighty close to some other sock yarn that is currently in my stash. The pattern looks interesting, although I haven't actually looked at it (or the rest of the stuff that came in the package) that closely yet. I'll catch up on that (and hopefully everything else I'm behind on) soon! I did complete the Flat Stanley project, he had a pretty good time on his travels. Here's a very seasonally-appropriate shot, one of my favorites from the batch:

Flat Stanley In the Flowers