Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas (or winter holiday of choice) everyone! I did, in fact, survive the madness of finals. Las hermanitas y yo even had time to help with Christmas baking, too. The gingerbread chalet is the most photogenic of our efforts: Monita decorated the front, and I decorated the sides. Hermanita forbade both of us from icing the roof, which is not as unfair as one might suppose--Monita and I both have histories of sticky Kitchenaids and similar lapses in fine motor skills whilst in the kitchen.

So I made it through finals, but what about the gifts? Anyone here who has been following the progress of the Tempest Cardigan will not be shocked to discover that it was a humongo (albeit tasteful and nicely-colored) black hole of time. I had to devote all of last weekend to finishing the beast. To circumvent a long rant, we'll just say that I now remember why I became so enamored with one-piece projects in the first place.

That's gift the first, off the needles but in the box sans buttons.

Note: I am fully aware my pincushion is politically incorrect *and* balding. Its inclusion in the picture is a desperate cry for a new pincushion.

Um, ya. That's what I've been knitting Hermanita. Formwise, the warm-up will look like a cross between this and this (the striped one), with sporty lacy side stripes, when it is completed. Which will not be until after New Year's. Mayhaps the Warm-up will want to take it up with the Thundercloud Cardigan.

This is the gift that gave me the idea for the labels. Last Christmas, when las hermanitas y yo were looking at my new knit.1 magazine, Monita said she wanted the Duotone Cardigan. Only problemecito: The smallest size is a 36. Monita wears a 32 at most. I really and truly tried, working a gauge swatch, crunching the numbers, working two dud starts that were like additional gauge swatches, and crunching the numbers again, but I only started on Tuesday (Monita might like to take this up with the Thundercloud as well), and I plain and simple ran out of time.

I think I know who's going to be busy knitting over winter break.

May you all have a very merry holiday, with lots of gifts sans assembly required under your trees!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

New Colors!

What do you guys think? I went in from the reader's end yesterday, and it knocked me over the head how much I dislike pastels (personal issue--they have their place, por ejemplo en suéteres de Hermanita, but not on my blog). So I changed my color scheme. Any thoughts on the new look?

And yes, before you ask, I am totally having finals avoidance issues.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friends in High Places

I came out into the living room with the intention of continuing my punishment--I mean, finals--but Stella came and got into my lap before I had a chance to get my binder or my knitting, so another post it is.

(Yes, I could just move the dog and get my stuff. But she's just so cute and contented up here. And my brain isn't working quite right for homework purposes.)

Final the first has been sent in, final the second is *done* and just needs one more looking over before it can be sent in (that's the article article article paper I was talking about the other day), which means I am down to one last final paper. I'd be thrilled to dickens if the thought of writing another paper didn't give me such a humongo headache.

In knitty news: Hermanita's Patternless Christmas Gift has been frogged and is back on track. I brought my knitting to work with me to do my dirty deed. As it turned out, one of my coworkers was in the break room, too. I've found that non-knitters fall into two camps when you tell them you are about to undo a portion of your knitting: the Oh No! camp and the Can I Help camp. Luckily for me, my coworker fell into the latter camp, and not only that, but she skeined the yarn up between her hands as she ripped (I was holding the work in my lap to make sure we didn't frog too far). Cool, but here's why it's really cool: she's six feet tall. Ergo she has a six foot wingspan. We got that 4" frogged in no time, and rather than the chubby little tangle I would have made, she left me with a long, skinny skein that I just twisted up and popped in my knitting bag. Onward!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Week 16: Such Great Heights

I liked that song when it was a radio song, but I came to absolutely love it when my Pandora started playing it and I learned the lyrics. The freckles in our eyes are mirror images... *sigh*

That song has nothing to do with Week 16 of this or any semester, except for the title. Once madness starts, it begins to escalate, and reaches such great heights more quickly than any sane person could contemplate in Weeks 1-4.

On one hand, I am trawling through research papers about people looking up health info online and scribbling down hypotheses, samples, and variables like I've got good sense. The madness here is not that I have no interest in medicine and would be an abysmal health librarian. I chose the topic because UA also has a med school, so they have just about every volume of every medical journal available online and I could spend the next 10 years doing this without ever hitting that "article not available" dead end.

The madness is inherent in the repetitive nature of the assignment--hypothesis, sample, variables, outcomes, write it all down and move on to the next article. I'm not trying to diss my professor here--he's here to teach students how to assess the quality of research, and by jiggy, I'm learning how to assess the quality of research. But I'm on article 5 of 10. Hypothesis, sample, variables, outcomes... *giggle*

Other hand: Hermanita's Christmas gift has hit a snag. Did I mention I have no pattern for this gift? I don't. I'm cobbling it together as I go along. When I said madness, I meant madness.

She and I are almost the same size, so I was banking on the accuracy of my schematics and being able to try it on as I work to make sure the pattern is working. Only I didn't have enough to try on until last night, when I discovered that my pattern is not, in fact, working, and I have to rip back 4" of work. Alack, alay, oh woe, oy vey. On the bright side, my schematics are bang on!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Week 15: There's Madness and then There's Madness, or Why I Knit Christmas Gifts

Luckily, I have not had so abominable a Monday (or any day) since last posting. That's not to say all's roses and kittens in baskets, but definitely less abominable.

As finals and the Christmas season barrel down on me simultaneously, I have had an epiphany about Christmas knitting. There are lots of divergent opinions out there: Laura of Cosmicpluto is doing some gifts this year, Ravelry's advice columnist has editorialized against gift knitting, and then you have me who knits gifts for everyone almost every year.

I've pondered the why my gift-knitting for a while, because it certainly isn't the cheap way to go, nor is it the stress-free option (although there have been several holiday experiences where I walk into the mall and within minutes want to run out screaming or murder someone, depending on which is more feasible, and that doesn't count as stress free either). And for the past...6 Christmases (that many?--ye gods!), I have been in college, which means Christmas knitting and the fall semester have a total or near-total overlap. I plunge into my semesters to the point of burnout. I plunge into my knitting to the point of almost burning out. Does doing both at the same time make any sense at all?

Actually, yes. The only thing out there that can truly distract me from my classes is my knitting, and when class deadlines get closer, so do project deadlines. The two work in perfect tandem.

This year promises to be particularly gripping. On one hand, I have three mongo final papers. On the other hand, I have three large Christmas gifts and 23 days to finish them all.

At top you see the gift closest to being done: Mum's Thundercloud Cardigan. No, that doesn't look like three months' work to me, either, but I'm really happy I didn't run out of yarn. Once I reknit the top of the left front (counting error, augh), seam all the pieces, knit the front bands and hem and sew some buttons on, that one's done.

Hermanita's gift is far enough along to warrant a Ravelry page.

Monita's gift is yarn in a bag.

Let the madness begin.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Week 13: Abominable Monday

I am fully aware that there is enough bad karma floating about in this world, and there will be even more tomorrow, and I don't need to add to the load, but I have been racking my brains for a week 13 post all day, and all that comes to mind is this:

Today has been the nastiest in a long line of abominable Mondays. I don't know what it is about Mondays, but I have endured a long string of unpleasant ones these past many weeks, and today pretty much takes the cake. One of those days where you *do* stuff for hours on end and yet accomplish nothing, and which defeats every attempt at salvage (and I've made several attempts at salvaging it). Bleugh.

My one little bit of happy: I finished the left front of Mum's Thundercloud Cardigan over the weekend and am into the waist shaping on the right front--the last piece.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Week 11: Elizabeth Zimmerman Made Me Do It

For all I've been blogging about it, one would think I wasn't knitting at all. Au contraire, my dear readers.

First came the Mousie.

Knit out of small amounts of Blue Sky Alpacas Sport Weight and my all-time-favorite stash yarn, Lamb's Pride Worsted for a little instant gratification, my Mousie got me thinking about my other stash yarn and the joy of knitting something for oneself.

Not that I don't like knitting for other people, but sometimes it's discouraging to only knit what others will like rather than what makes *you* happy.

So I started daydreaming about Teva Durham's Lace Leaf Pullover, a sweater I've wanted to knit for eons. Since it came out in the Spring '05 issue of Interweave Knits, as a matter of fact. I'd bought the yarn and swatched it in April:

...but then my library classes started, and I had two summer sweaters going, and so I set it aside.

The pattern calls for a bulky, and my yarn is DK, so I'd have to do some fiddling with the gauge. I looked on Ravelry to see if anyone else had tried this. I never found out--I got sidetracked first by the neck. It looked wonky in just about every single one of the pictures. A dozen Ravelers can't be wrong, so it had to be the pattern. I could fiddle with that, too. So I pulled out The Opinionated Knitter and Knitting in the Old Way, decided to scrap the bottom-up-meets top down approach and do the whole thing in the round bottom up, and to scrap the raglan for a better-fitting round yoke...

And then I just cast on. Finals? Unfinished Thundercloud Cardigan? Another Christmas gift in the works that is most definitely going to need the same size 5 circular? The fact that I have only the gauge and the barest idea of how I am going to execute my sweater? I generally consider myself a practical person, but for this sweater, I threw practicality out the window. I have been inspired (possessed?) by the spirit of Elizabeth Zimmerman, and I'm going to go for it.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Dark Music for Dark Nights

Happy Halloween! Stella is barking with the force of a thousand Great Danes at small bands of smaller children who, quite clearly, are planning to invade our home, las Hermanitas are costuming for a party and door-answering, and I am planning on sitting down for a night of my favorite fall music and some knitting.

Most people would agree that music has moods, but for me, music also has definite seasons. Siamese Dream is the perfect October album. Not just fall, October. On cold nights especially, this is one of my all-time favorite dark albums. "Today" is the song that most people know, but "Mayonaise" is also fabulous (I'm in love with autumn feelins).

New on the list is the Silversun Pickups. Their music has a deliciously dark quality to it. "Three Seed" (Carnavas) and "Catch and Release" (Swoon) are two of my favorites, hanging somewhere in the balance between absolutely beautiful and absolutely creepy. *Shiver*

It may not be cold here in the low desert, but it *has* been getting dark pretty early. Driving home from work, I've taken to playing snippets of Noel Gallagher's Dreams We Have As Children. If I only have time for one song, it's "There's a Light That Never Goes Out." I've never heard the Smiths' original version, so I have no preconceived notions about what this one "should" be--I just know I like this melancholy, orchestra-backed version.

The nights are getting longer--what are your favorite songs for the dark?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Week 10: Do Not Tell Me It's Week 10

...Because if this is week 10, that means I need to start working on some class projects.

Moving on to happy thoughts: Sunday was Stella's Adoption Day!

The day was nothing out of the ordinary--she threw up on my carpet at 5 in the morning, sat and watched Sunday Morning with us, the usual Sunday things--but it's so strange to think we've had her for a year. In that time, she has developed a ridiculously large vocabulary (eat, sit, and walk, but also bed, dressed, cheese, shoes, and kiss, to name just a few) and an affinity for nesting, as pictured above. I was changing the sheets on my bed, and she came over and plunked right down in them, nevermind that they were right in the entrance to my room.

I love having a dog, for all the barfing in beds and on carpets, and will say it loud and clear: if you want a dog, rescue dogs are the best! Mutts have excellent personalities, and there are too many dogs out there without good homes and loving, responsible owners. We were lucky enough to find Stella by chance (literally, the first dog we saw when we went to the pound), but Petfinder is another great resource that will show you how many dogs (and cats) are out there in need of homes.

In knitty news, I am taking a day to do some stash-diving (and me knitting) while waiting for the back of Mum's Thundercloud cardigan to dry. If it shrinks to the right gauge, I'm done with that piece, if not, I have to rip out the last dozen rows and bind off from there. For all I think this is a brilliant pattern, I'm really hoping it dries to the right size, because I'm kind of getting tired of obsessively measuring my knitting.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Week 9: Old Knits

I was hard pressed to come up with a topic for this post. Lots o' projects and lots o' dry, precise writing (I can never be interesting and precise at the same time) does not make for good blog fodder. Enter Lolly. This blogger is always filled to brimming with excellent ideas that other knitters can get in on. Her latest idea is to revisit old knits, which was quite apropos, because the weather has just gotten cool enough for me to pull out my beloved Gigi.

(Sad, isn't it, when one has to wait until late October for it to be cold enough to wear a summer sweater?)

A little over a year since her completion, I still adore Gigi, and I still feel mahvelous when I wear her, but the yarn is starting to look like an old sock. It is sock yarn, after all, and either the nylon part or the merino part of the Panda Wool I used is starting to fuzz. This is most apparent in the ties:

A little stiff, a little fuzzy. The color has faded a tad, too. Sniff, sniff. The sweater will hold up for a while to come (especially at the rate I can wear it), but I would not call the yarn's performance stellar. This has been my experience with many sock yarns--even my favorite, Sockotta. Anyone out there know a really awesome sock yarn that holds up to wear and tear and still looks good enough to knit a whole sweater out of?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Week 8: Delurking

This is really terrible--one should not have to delurk on her own blog. But the weeks have been flicking past, and I cannot in good conscience leave my poor little blog (and readers) neglected. Last fall I did week-by-week updates, with success, so let's try that again this semester.

Knitting--I had terrific success with my spate of baby knits. Baby Blue Ears and the coordinating Preppy Toadstool Rattle (Ravlink!) were happily received by our head of adult services (Her first baby received the inaugural Nautie, and she still has it!). Jacques the Octopus, pictured above, went to a fellow Circ employee, and given his success among my coworkers, I can only hope that he is not kidnapped by the baby-to-be's older sisters before the little one arrives.

This picture of the Thundercloud cardigan is about three weeks old, but don't signify because I had to rip the back almost all the way back to this point following a little gauge mistake. Rawther, following my discovery that I hadn't gotten gauge, circa where I was set to begin armhole shaping. Augh.

School--In a few short weeks, I have gone from being able to fit everything in one 2" binder to needing three 2" binders. We will not go into detail on this one.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fall is in the Air!

The first day of fall is here, and you can smell it in the blissfully cool air. Meaning you can smell the air, and things growing in it, as opposed to the smell of melting asphalt. We don't have any fall colors, per se, but I have a little collection of fallish pinecones on my desk, and I can still watch everyone else leap headfirst into the joys of fall knitting.

How will you celebrate the season?

Friday, September 11, 2009

I Make a List

1. The Red Scarf, a.k.a. the Movie Scarf, is in the mail. Yaaay!

2. Pandora has tried to put Modest Mouse on my Death Cab station. Extermination is underway.

3. Pictured drying beside it is my version of the Cisco baby bonnet: Baby Blue Ears. It's heavily influenced by the brilliant B r o o k l y n t w e e d, and modeled here by Stella. She is such a strange little dog--we can dress her up in just about anything and she's never particularly bothered. Here, she is very busy watching for her twin nemeses, Cats and Boys on Bicycles. Yes, the fact that I used my dog as a model is part of the reason I washed the bonnet.

4. I'm experiencing a bit of destashing mania. The Baby Blue Ears is all stash yarn, and pictured above is the new sleeve I made for my camera (modeled on Hermanita's camera) using a dab of Inca Alpaca I'd been saving for something special, paired with a skeinlet of handspun I simply did *not* know what to do with. The combo is nice and dense, which is good because my old camera case was not sufficiently sturdy to stand up to the rigors of my purse.

5. The new Knitty is up, and the navigation is marvelous. I am so impressed, I'm going to post about it in my Digital Collections class if I can find a place.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Like the Box

I love my Pandora account. I mean, songs played for free in their entirety--like Martha says, it's a good thing.

Big however: there is some sort of quirk in the program that will on occasion cause it to take my feedback and absolutely blitz me with music from one particular artist. As a consequence, I will go from ambivalence to their work to utter blazing hatred. Case in point: for years, I never really knew enough Modest Mouse to say what I thought about them. Over the weekend, Pandora decided to load not one but two of my stations with Modest Mouse. Now, I know without doubt that I cannot stand Isaac Brock's voice, and it is my greatest sorrow that, when I hit the thumbs down button, the action is not accompanied by the sound of explosions and raging flames, because then I would be perfectly justified in shouting Die! Die! at the same time.

Ahem. Having gotten that out of my system, I can report that sleeve the first of the Thundercloud cardigan is complete and sleeve the second is in progress. It looks pretty much exactly the same as the first, but smaller, so I'll spare you boring pictures.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Week One: Pulling the Plug

First week of grad school proper over, and I'm still here with what sanity I had to begin with. Such as it is.

Whoo hoo!

I like it, although this whole online classroom thing really weirds me out. Yes, I know, it's sort of like blogging. But still.

One thing I've learned is that there comes a time where I have to pull the plug. When I had in person classes, they stuffed the students into the classroom when it was time for class to start, and then shoved them out when class was over with a paper saying do this before it's time to stuff you back in the classroom again. Do your homework and you can do what you'd like until the next class. After 5 years, that's what I was used to. Now, the classroom is there 24/7, and so is the work. Do a little of this, a little of that, and then I realize I've played through two and a half albums in my iTunes and my eyes are starting to cross. It took me a few days, but I think I've gotten to where I can catch myself and pull the plug before hitting that point.

So when I step back, I pull out my newest project: the Tundercloud Cardigan. The pattern is Tempest, from Knitty, and so called because of the color of the yarn--blue with gray but a little purply too, like the color the sky would turn before a storm in Illinois. As an aside, the sky don't turn that many colors here. There were blues, grays, and purples, and I distinctly remember several instances where the sky went green in Illinois, but I have never seem a green sky here. Maybe it has something to do with there being moisture in the air... Like with many great colors of yarn, I wasn't able to get the color to show up properly in the photo above, but I'll keep trying.

This sweater is for Mum, and you know what that means: Christmas knitting has begun! Having a gift on the needles is perhaps the only thing that will reliably get me to step back from school when I need to. Will I get it all done in time? That's the sport.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Temporary Madness

Fall semester has started, and with a full load of classes, I feel like I'm officially a grad student. Ahhhhh! I went on a finishing-up and cleaning-up spree this past weekend. The cleaning went well, the projects not so much. The scarf above (crummy picture--I was home alone with my camera) is the only finished object I'm really happy with, so let's focus on that.

I'm calling it my movie scarf because I knit it almost exclusively while watching movies. They were all good movies--maybe that's why the scarf had such good karma. I started it while watching Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (ooh!). Then there was Everything is Illuminated (which I've already praised), Food Inc. (tip: don't get popcorn), and the original Sabrina (Bogart and Holden as good guys).

The pattern is Purl Bee's Easy Mistake Stitch Scarf, and it really was easy. I used a worsted weight yarn--Berrocco's Ultra Alpaca, which is wonderful to work with and very soft--so I had to adjust the number of sts cast on, but for once the adjustment went well.

This scarf isn't for me, which makes me a little sad since I got attached to it after toting it around to all those movies. It's going to a good place, though: the Red Scarf Project, an amazing charity that sends care packages to orphaned or fostered children who have entered college. They start accepting submissions September first, which gives me just enough time to wash the scarf (I wouldn't send it off dirty!), write up a care label, and pop it in the mail.

More FO's to come once I've gotten up the jam to write about a big mistake.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

So Much for Soon

I've taken my time getting this project finished, and then there was the usual trouble catching one of las hermanitas in a picture taking mood while the light was still decent. But! I have finished my Latvian socks, and I rawther adore them.

Pattern: Latvian Socks, by the venerable Nancy Bush.
Yarn: Rio de la Plata sock yarn, *just* under one skein in Seaweed
Needles: Size 0, which are not so hard to work with once you get the hang of them.
Latvian Socks on Ravelry

I really enjoyed knitting these socks. They took me forever because of the way I worked on it--pick it up, put it down, pick it up, rip out a mistake, put it down--but the pattern is not difficult to read or knit. Bush is brilliant, and all of her patterns are awesome, so the only modification I made was to work on 5 needles instead of 4--this gave me one pattern repeat per needle.

These were a perfect travel project: I carried them around everywhere in my purse or backpack, and all the needles survived the ride. However, I did manage to go through all but one of a replacement package of needles either snapping them in my hands (I have a very firm grip, Petunia!) or by leaning over on a seat and snapping them under my elbow. Oops.

It's hard for me to work up a lot of hyperactivity about finishing these socks because I've been carrying them around, showing off Sock the First to curious onlookers since February. To everyone who asked me, "So how long will it take you to finish them?", here's the answer: Eons when I potter along, finishing other projects in between, less than 3 weeks a sock when I sit my derrière down and just *knit*. But they are really awesome socks, worth all the time I spent on them.

Here's the final mark of a good project: after I finished these socks, I was so sad not to have a pair of socks riding along in my purse with me, I cast on for another pair. A drawer full of handknitted socks? It's a good thing.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Divigation While I Finish My Final Project

Not a whole lot of knitting is going on here. Most of my creative energy (not to mention time) is going towards the final project for my Preservation class:


Never you fear--the socks I have been working on forever are in the home stretch, and a post just for them will come soon. In the meantime, how about a little media roundup?

I have become mildly obsessed with The Postal Service's album--Give Up of late, particularly Sleeping In.

Ever since getting back from Tucson, I have also become an avid movie viewer (avoidance issues? not at all). My favorite so far is one of Monita's picks, Everything is Illuminated. I don't like Elijah Wood (So as not to offend Lord of the Rings fans, I will not go into my feelings about his performance as Frodo), but this was an absolutely incredible, funny film. I will not muddle the story with a synopsis--just watch it.

Back with knitting-related content soon!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Really Quick

A pictorial summary of my week thus far:

I'm back in Tucson for another class. I've got the same room in the same door, and check it out--

There's a crane under my window! Surprisingly, it's not near as loud as the much smaller earth moving vehicles.

I really miss Stella.

(Bad placement of desk chair in background)

A friend from class took me to see Sabino Canyon.

I really wanted to eat one of the prickly pear fruits.

And for a finale...

I made that little book all by myself! Well, Iowa Book Works drilled holes in the boards and folded the signatures and threaded the needles, *but* I put it all together. Check out the spine:

I love class activities!

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Sock 2

The sock is back on track! (Wouldn't it make a very nice mitt, too? Just throw in a space for the thumb to come out...)

And here is the little beginning of a heel flap. I'm so excited to be getting to the exciting part of the sock. Not that I don't love the meditative nature of the leg and the foot, but working the heel and the gusset is always the part that I love to see working up for its sheer mathy cleverness. I've never designed a sock heel myself, but being able to work one always makes me feel very ingenious.

I'm hoping it all goes smoothly--there are so many other socks I want to make!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I Find Wisdom on the Inside of a Juice Bottle

It was a really. Long. Week. Tucson was absolutely awesome, my class was awesome, most of the people *in* the class were awesome, but ye gods. Eight hours of information a day for seven days straight is a *lot*. So long that when I tipped back a rawther nasty juice I bought on impulse at the campus convenience mart, I thought putting a quote on the inside of the label was so terribly clever and insightful that I had to have a picture. In retrospect, I find it random, but the quote still holds.

I've been home a week, but it's taken this long to get myself organized again, so let's take a quick recap.

The construction workers made a really nice hole under my window by the end of the week.

Mum's Swallowtail Shawl is done, and she loves it. Evelyn Clark, you rock.

I learned Tucson is not the only city in the U.S. that paints their fire hydrants silver. (Quick poll: what color does your city paint its fire hydrants?)

And the second sock hit a snag.

It didn't occur to me to try the thing on until I was nearly done with the leg, and at that point a) I discovered it was not just a titch smaller than the first, but considerably smaller than the first and b) I broke one of my needles trying said too-small sock on. Augh.

I'm pretty put out with myself for having done both things. However, stubborn perfectionist that I am, that's given me the determination to get that sock started right back up again. (That, and I have a million and one things to be doing besides knitting socks)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Like a Vacation, but Not at All

Hello from hot, humid Tucson, Arizona!

I am currently entrenched in the middle of a week-long intensive--all libraries, all the time. The mountains are what I see when I look out the window at my dorm...

Here's what's underneath my window. Every day starts at 5:30...

Thank goodness I brought my sock...

And for some unfathomable reason, all of the fire hydrants are painted silver.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

On a Roll

Shoulder-Warmer update: I gave it its first washing, and although a bit of the color bled onto my drying towel, the sweater itself is none the worse. Le amo.

Now in focus is a Swallowtail Shawl, the occasion Mum's birthday.

I'm really enjoying the pattern--it's the same basic body+fancy border as the Icarus. Any of you who have delved into lace before know that half the fun is watching the pattern take shape. It's both math and art at the same time. Unfortunately, I just can't get that into pictures of lace. I think part of the problem, particularly for shawls, is that the pattern is designed to be seen 1. blocked 2. as a whole, worn across the shoulders. On the needles, it's both unblocked and bunched up. I have tried a variety of shots, but none seem to convey the excitement that is a shawl-to-be.

There's the classic flat-on-the-bed shot:

Or the lace-stretching-to-the-horizon shot:

And then, it's-a-nupp!:

None of which I find particularly scintillating. Alack. I'll blame my camera and instruct everyone to follow the link above to Jared Flood's amazing rendition. Just picture mine like that, except pink. And possibly a shade less perfect.

But just a shade ; )

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Alive and Knittin'

Wow--I am sorry for the dead silence that has prevailed here for the past three weeks. I have been distracted from all bloggy pursuits by the demise of my freedom. In short (as Mr. Micawber would exclaim) I have begun graduate school.

I don't know whether to be thrilled to dickens that I've entered the final stage of my academic career (end point: Master's in Library Science) or utterly incensed that all my knitting time has gone the way of the continential glaciers.

Either way, I will not be one of those librarians famed for her ugly, unflattering sweaters; I finally finished the Top-Down Shoulder Warmer!

Mahvelous, dahling. I don't know how many times I had to frog this silly thing--three?--but in the end, it all came right.

Pattern: Top-Down Shoulder Warmer, by Laura Chau
Size: Large back with modifications for effigy-pot arms (see below)
Yarn: 3.5-ish skeins O-Wool Balance
Needles: U.S. 8 (5 mm)
Modifications: I had to sub out the sleeves as written for sleeves that would fit me. To do this, I kept the number of sts cast on for the back, cast on fewer sts for the sleeves, and worked the same number of increase rows.

This was the first time I'd worked with the O-Wool, and it receives an A+ on two counts: holding up to a lot of ripping out and being soft and comfy in the finished product. Hurray for organics!

Now I'm off on two different projects at once (one for me, one as a gift), and my biggest job over this next week will be figuring out how to balance school and knitting.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Brown Paper Packages

Receiving mail is so fun. It would be better if packages still came in brown paper tied up with string, but still. And packages with yarn? The best.

Way back in December, I had convinced Mum that a share in the sheep from Grand View farm in Vermont was a good graduation gift. Doubts about my sanity were aired, explanations of Community Supported Agriculture were given (Twist Collective's article does it best), and I ended up with the very last share in their Cormo sheep. I waited, and waited, and gasp! last week, my package arrived.

Stella inspected it thoroughly for me, just in case:

I knew that I'd get four skeins of yarn, 16 ounces total, but I didn't expect it to come so beautifully packaged: the box was lined with tissue, topped with a thank-you note bearing a picture of the sheep and a "knit local" sticker.

As I unpacked the softly spun, chubby skeins, I uncovered a little sachet of herbs to keep out the bugs and--

Is that just not the coolest thing ever? Kim, the woman who runs Grand View, knows how to do things right.

What about you guys? What was the best package (fibery or not) that you've ever received in the mail?

Friday, May 8, 2009

What the Dickens!

(I'm not sure why, but Stella finds this a comfortable style of repose)

The new season of Masterpiece Theatre is in full swing, and it's the perfect opportunity to get working on my Top-Down Shoulder Warmer. The "Classic" portion of the season--Tales of Charles Dickens--has just ended, and although I knit my way through both the end of Little Dorrit and The Old Curiosity Shop, frankly, I'm looking forward to a good, wholesome murder or two on the "Mystery" leg. It's not that I don't love Dickens--David Copperfield is one of my favorite books and has an awesome Masterpiece adaptation--but these two did not end on the note I was expecting.

I saw the way The Old Curiosity Shop was going when I realized they were cramming the whole thing into one and a half hours. A Christmas Carol fits into one and a half hours. Anything else, forget it.

But Little Dorrit... We pretty much sat there staring at the screen after that one ended, all thinking, did that really just happen? I will not go into detail, for those who have not yet been floored by this one in print or picture form. Suffice to say I didn't know that sort of thing flew in Victorian England.

In the same vein, I am a little puzzled with my Shoulder Warmer. The first thing I realized when I was trying to figure out which size to knit was that my back size (16" or L) had no correspondence to my bust size (34, between S & M). A review of the pattern and a modicum of common sense told me that in a sweater without a front, the back size is probably the way to go. So I went that way.

I think part of my dissatisfaction at the end of The Old Curiosity Shop was that at that point, I discovered that my trim, snug little shoulder-warmer-in-progress was neither trim nor snug about the shoulders. The sleeves, and the shoulder region they grew out of, were too big. Apparently my back size has no correspondence to my arm size, either. I tried the nascent shoulder warmer on three times, deliberated, went through the notes on all the Top Down Shoulder Warmers on Ravelry, deliberated some more, and decided there was nothing to be done but rip the whole thing back to the beginning and fudge it.

The back size had to stay, but none of the sizes written give a a sleeve with a 10-11" circumference, which is what I wanted. Careful perusal of the pattern revealed that the different sizes were achieved in part by working more or less increase rows. Another trying on of my sweater revealed that the armholes were a little deep, so I decided to attempt a custom fit by combining strategies.

First, I cast on more back stitches and fewer sleeve stitches, and now, I will work fewer increase rows. This will produce the right stitch counts and hopefully will *not* throw the design out of whack. I was quite pleased to have figured something out for this conundrum, but all the same it makes me wonder if I'm shaped like an effigy jar.

*Sigh* Nothing to do but continue knitting and keep our fingers crossed for a nice murder this Sunday night.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Changing Gears

We in the desert have lucked out with an exceptionally mild spring. Only now is it beginning the transition from gloriously pleasant to hotter than the dickens, which means it's time to transition into a new phase of knitting projects.

My hands were getting sore from all the projects I'd be doing on tiny needles, so I took a break from that branch of crafting and zipped up a recycled materials tote bag.

I am thrilled to death with it--this is exactly how I envisioned it turning out. Big deal, you say, it's just a square of jersey fabric sewn on a bag. Scoff not:the last time I tangled with the Funstyler, it won.

The knit-free day lasted just that long--a day--and then it was back to the needles. I finished up my Pinwheel Shawl, and am similarly pleased with the result:

The pattern is incredibly simple, and as promised in Knitalong, shows off fancy yarns to great advantage. The two I used were Malabrigo (left over from Hermanita's Firebird) and Parisienne (purchased during my post-semester meltdown). For being so little, it's incredibly warm, and will serve me well during the months of freezing A/C.

Now I'm ready for something on bigger needles, with bigger yarn, so the Top-Down Shoulder Warmer may finally get its turn!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Leaf Cardigan Reveal

Here it is, at long last. It's been over a month since Hermanita's birthday, but first she had to block it, then I needed to remember to ask her to model when there was still some light left.

Pattern: Cropped Cardigan with Leaf Ties, by Stephanie Japel (32" size)
Yarn: Cascade Dolce in Lavender Pearl (938?), not quite 6 skeins

This was a very nice pattern--simple and straightforward. Because I had to knit away from prying eyes, this got to be a bit boring, but it would be a great project for knit nights/TV knitting. To make things even simpler, I did the sleeves in the round. My row gauge changed slightly, but this didn't matter because the sleeves only need to be a certain length, not a certain number of rows.

As to the color: generally I eschew pastels (repressed memories c. 1990) in favor of earthy or bold colors. But see how the walls are almost exactly the same color as the sweater? That's Hermanita's room. Need I say more?

Next up, some current knits as they relate to that omnipresent force, my Stash.