Friday, October 31, 2008

Sometimes Sweetness is Not What It Seems

Happy Halloween!


clockwise from orange: Pumpkin, Bat, Frankenstein

This is the last of my 2008 Halloween knitting--three Halloween-themed washcloths! That I fully intended to finish early and mail to the East Coast and other far-away points, but only finished a minute ago! These are three patterns from Kristen Patay's Creepy Cloth collection, and although I couldn't find the creepy muted colors she used, this is a nice set of cloths. I'm eyeing her Winter Wonderland cloths, too.

The purple bat cloth is made of Lion brand Lion Cotton, and the other two are Lily Sugar 'N Cream cotton. Cheap, fast, spooky, who could ask for more? I do wish that the pattern was more pronounced, but I don't think I'd like knitting these as much on smaller needles--too much hand cramping.

Now to decide: give these out as favors if I see any children I know today, keep them for next year (and start working on more--I want a ghost and a tombstone!), or use them as an extra large coaster at work (i.e. keep them for myself). Maybe one of each?? It's easy enough to make more!

Sometimes Sweetness is Not What It Seems: The Spinanes, "Halloween Candy" (note that the link will open iTunes).

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ghoul-Toe Tuesday: Halloween Edition


Just in time for casual Halloween costume Friday, my Halloween Socks are finished. The clogs really set them off, don't they? These were very quick to knit, aided by a couple of long flights and a shorter than usual cuff. I used about half of the giant skein of Vesper Sock Yarn (in the Great Googlie Mooglie colorway), so maybe next year I'll knit another spooky pair--maybe with contrasting toes & cuffs, or combined with the other Vesper Halloween colors in the stash. Hmmm. . . . maybe some witchy wristlets, or a little shawl with Evil edging?

When I took the photo above, I opted for a dark-ish location, well after dark. More Halloween-y (and less waiting for daylight, which I've barely seen in the last couple of weeks), I suppose. But spookier by far than the socks is this haunting, grainy shot of Frieda, who had to get in the middle of things:


I'm not sure what's going through her tiny, pea-sized brain, but I don't think that it's good.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Really? You Mean, Like Fire?


I am pretty excited about this Hank Williams boxed set, but I think that Time Life might be going a little over the top with the red sticker.

Monday, October 27, 2008

There's a Stain on My Notebook Where Your Coffee Cup Was

Lime Green Coaster

Cup rings on all of my post-it notes, tablets, and occasionally important documents have been driving me crazy at work. The folded up copy paper I've been using sometimes as a coaster looks sloppy, and god knows I don't need any help looking sloppy lately. I went for the quick fix--a bright green, kitchen cotton coaster using a simple pattern. I think it looks great with my Constructivist coffee mug. Here's how it goes:

Cast on 20 stitches
Knit 3 rows
Row 1 - 4: K2, P4, K4, P4, K6
Row 5 - 8: K6, P4, K4, P4, K2
Repeat until about square, ending on row 4 or row 8
Knit 3 rows
Cast off

I used size 3 needles, and a very small amount of green Lily Sugar'n Cream Solid. The next one I make will probably be on size 4 or 5, to get a bigger coaster. It can't hurt to have some extras lying around the ol' cubicle, and a set might make a nice hostess gift / stocking stuffer.

Here's a clearer view of the pattern:


There's a Stain on My Notebook Where Your Coffee Cup Was: Squeeze, "Black Coffee in Bed". I can't tell you how many hours of MTV and Video Jukebox waiting to see this video. I'm serious--don't you remember when Difford & Tilbrook were the next Lennon / McCartney?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

You Said This Would Happen, and You Were Not Wrong

Tapestry Cowel

I've been playing catchup all week since getting back from Boston, and I keep telling myself that I haven't worked on Liberty (or much of anything) because I just don't have the energy to concentrate on stranded knitting. Then, on Thursday or Friday I saw the Tapestry Cowl on Ravelry, and all of a sudden I was up and running on a project that involves a much more complicated chart using a cast on I'd never done and a technique I've never used. Why not?

The cowl is double-knit, so the inside and outside layers are knit at the same time, on the same needles, with the pattern in opposite colors. Until the colorwork starts, the inside and outside are completely independent--it's very cool. When there's blue on the outside, there's green on the inside, and both sides are stockinette. Yes, the straw-looking color is really a celery green.

I'm using some Alpaca Silk that I bought while on vacation in August. I think that I probably should have gone down a needle size, as the cowl seems pretty big, but I'm going to knit a little more before I even think about ripping! I think that it will tighten up a bit in the patterned area, because there won't be as much give.

Initially, I thought that this would make a great Christmas gift, but with 220 stitches per row it's pretty slow going. I've not had concentrated knitting time this weekend, but I still expected to be further along. I don't think I'll have time to finish this, and work on Liberty, and finish the other things on my plate for Christmas--and let's not even discuss the Halloween projects, which I'm going to go and work on right this minute. Right after I finish that cotton coaster that I started a couple of hours ago . . .

You Said This Would Happen, and You Were Not Wrong: "Little Time Bomb", Billy Bragg. A slower, video version here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I Was 21 Years When I Wrote This Song

Billy Bragg, Somerville, MA
Billy Bragg, Somerville MA, Oct. 21 2008

The first time I saw Billy Bragg, in the fall of 1987, 21 was a few years away, but I can't believe how young it feels to me now. I have to get up really early to catch a flight back to Seattle tomorrow, but I'll be singing Levi Stubb's Tears in my head the whole way home. And for days.

I Was 21 Years When I Wrote This Song: "A New England," Billy Bragg. Check out this 1991 video.

Two Toe Tuesday: Great Googlie Mooglie Edition

Two Spooky Toes

How awesome is spooky self striping Halloween yarn? I started these a week or two ago, and I have a fair shot at finishing them before Halloween. As soon as I saw Liz knitting these Trick or Treat socks, I started checking in on the Knitterly Things site and managed to get this yarn (it's Vesper sock yarn in the Great Googlie Mooglie colorway). As I mentioned earlier, I did eventually get more Vesper Halloween yarn, but I think that finishing this pair of socks is really all I can manage in the next week and a half, as far as holiday socks goes. These are pretty short socks, with a basic 2 x 2 rib pattern, and a simple short row heel. Man, are they bright--they're going to look great with my clogs!!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Cowl Done!

Brown Cowl

It's crisp and fall-like here in the greater Boston area, with a bit of chill in the air. So it's a good time to give people neck-warming gifts! I finished the cowl above about two minutes before leaving for the giftee's birthday night out, so it's modeled by E_____. The fuzziness of the yarn masks the pattern a little, but in real life (or more importantly, real light) the pattern looks good.  Not too fussy, and nice and warm.  The yarn is Blue Sky Alpaca's Suri Merino, which is delicious to knit with but feels a little itchy on my neck--as do pretty much all wools.  The brown cotton cowl also made it to a new home on this trip, and I'll probably need to make one of those for myself, if I'm going to wear a cowl.  Organic cotton = no possible itching. 

Yesterday afternoon, E___ and I went out to Lexington to the Wild & Wooly yarn store, which I haven't been to in years.  It's a neat little place, with a wide selection of yarn, and helpful ladies keeping it all running.  I came away with a skein of Malabrigo and one of those sock yarns that have been dyed on pre-knitted blanks.  Does that sentence even make sense?  Check them out here.  I've been working on some other socks that I'll post about soon--maybe I can get a nice, autumny photo later this afternoon!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Liberty on the Move!


Yesterday, Ann Shayne and Kay Gardiner of Mason-Dixon knitting came to Seattle to sign books and give a talk at the University Book Store. It was hilarious fun, and the knitwear that they brought to show was unbelievably gorgeous, even though I'd seen all of it in their book. Note the mohair shawls that Kay is wearing above, for instance. The skin on my hands had a bad reaction the last time I knit with mohair, and yet I'm somehow thinking that I should just power through, because they're just that beautiful. Mom had a great time, too--Mason-Dixon is the only knitting blog that she's ever shown any real interest in reading when I've mentioned it (including this one). She's probably knit almost as many dishcloths from the first book as Kay has, and that's a lot of dishcloths!

Let's discuss my Liberty (shown above!) vs. the original Liberty. Mine is tiny and crinkled (though Ann swore that it would block out), as shown above. The original Liberty is beautifully smooth, and is a lot larger than I expected it to be, and was knit in three weeks. I guess I'm slightly behind schedule--I'd better go knit now!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

How Now Brown Cowl (I know that you saw that coming)

Crofter's Cowl

I have to say that I was really apprehensive about the 80 stitches of grafting that was required to finish the Brown Cotton Cowl (rav link), but I'm really glad that I opted to follow the pattern. I had one false start, but after the first set of decrease points were clearly NOT lined up, it was pretty easy to pick out the graft and start over. This is an ideal quick gift (so if you are a person I give gifts to, don't be surprised if you get one), because both useful and pretty without being overly fussy. I haven't washed or blocked this yet, and given the inelastic properties of cotton I don't plan to open up the pattern much--it'll just stretch out. The pattern is the Crofter's Cowl by Gudrun Johnston, and it's available free on Ravelry. The yarn is Blue Sky Alpaca dyed cotton, and I used about 75 grams of yarn.

As soon as I cast off this cowl, I started another brown cowl. Different yarn, different pattern, different color, but still a brown cowl:


This one is for a friend who (as far as I know) can wear wool without a problem. I'm using Blue Sky Alpaca's Suri Merino, and it's really, really, really, really soft. I haven't used this before, but MJ has been knitting this incredible cowl with it, so I knew that it was a good choice. The pattern is Darkside Cowl by Sarah Fama, and I'm finally at the point where I can see the pattern in my cowl. Hopefully, this will help with my inability to follow the directions. The pattern repeats shift ever two rows, and I keep NOT shifting with them. Fortunately, since each pattern row is knit twice in a row, I've caught the errors without any ripping. This is meant to be quick, after all!

In other knitting news, Wendy Bernhard was at Renaissance Yarns yesterday, signing copies of her new book Custom Knits. I love the book (there are two patterns that I want to start immediately, and several others that I want to start eventually), and Wendy was really nice. You know, like NORMAL nice. She brought along some beautiful samples, including one of the sweaters on my must-knit-list. I was really glad that I didn't have to drive all the way to North Seattle to meet her.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Thank you Mike & Ike's, Thank you Candy Corn


It's a crisp fall afternoon here in the Pacific Northwest, and I've got Halloween on my mind. How many projects can I get done in the next 20 days? Not as many as I have yarn for! Above is a Vesper yarn wee skeins kit, and I've got two full sized skeins of this yarn as well. At this point, I'm really just shooting for a pair of anklets!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

'Cause I Didn't Think This Would Happen Again

Liz Phair, Showbox 10/7/2008

I saw Liz Phair this week, performing all of the songs from her 1993 album "Exile in Guyville". The show was great--this is the kind of album that even after 15 years reminds me what my life was like then, when I was young, and struggling to pay off my first set of student loans, and going out five nights a week (but leaving the shows early to catch the T, because I couldn't pay for a taxi). I think that the last time I saw her was in '93 or '94, but I remember very little about that first show so I could just be imagining it. It would have been in Boston, at a club called Axis, and it may have been part of a massive radio-sponsored block party. I can see Liz Phair, who was at that time noted for having stage fright, being very nervous on stage. I don't know if I'm remembering the right show, I really don't. Corroborating evidence, anyone?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Mini Mitten Monday: I've Got a Fever

and the only prescription is more Mini Mittens:


Nine in one week (on top of an usually heavy work week), that's got to be some sort of a record, isn't it? Note that the red mitten in the photo above was completed a long time ago, as the REAL 9th mitten didn't show up for the photo shoot. Primadonna.

I've really enjoyed seeing the bits of different scrap yarn while I've been knitting these, and I need to dig out more. I'm trying not to break into unused sock yarn (which would guarantee a shortage when full sized socks were knit), but it's tough.

I'm not sure how long this fever will last, I'm still a long way from my original mitten goal of 2 - 3 per week (or maybe it was more). But maybe I'll end up with enough to decorate a small mitten tree? Ooooh, that would be festive!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Those Brown Eyes Dreaming


It's been a super busy week, not much time for knitting. My inability to focus on charts or thinking in the evenings has hampered my ability to work on Liberty, though I did knit a couple of inches yesterday.

I'm starting to think about quick holiday gifts, especially those that require less concentration than Liberty, and I started the Crofter's Cowl (Rav link) by Gudrun Johnston. I'm using Blue Sky Alpaca's worsted weight organic cotton, which is a new yarn for me. I'm not sure that this is a great substitute for the recommended Malabrigo, but the person I have in mind for this can't wear wool and maybe not some other animal fibers. Let's face it--nobody's going to wear an itchy cowl!!! There is a chart, but it's super easy to follow without a lot of attention--the lace pattern looks a lot more complicated than it is to work. The tricky part is that the cowl is worked in two halfs, and then grafted together. I might not do that for this cowl, because I'm worried that the graft will be super apparent, and not just because of my poor skills. Cotton doesn't block out like wool, so my theory is that if the tension of the graft isn't perfect, then it will stick out like a sore thumb. We'll see, though--I might change my mind once I'm closer to the critical half-way decision point.

In other knitting news, the deadline to finish the Wino Juno for the Loopy Ewe KALs came and went, and I hardly even noticed--I've worked on it a little, here and there, but after ripping out 15 inches that project needed a little break. Juno might make a good holiday gift, so I probably should start taking it to knit night again, or start picking it up when I'm too tired to follow a chart! Although that might be why I had to rip out those 15 inches in the first place . . .

"Those Brown Eyes Dreaming": Wilco, I am Trying to Break Your Heart