Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Something for home

Every time lately that I've had a few minutes (or hours) to sit and spend as I'd like, I've been knitting. Lots of knitting, not so much on the photography, blogging, etc. So, somewhat to my chagrin, I'm posting an entry I wrote a while ago (for such an eventuality), just so I don't go an entire month without posting.

How can you tell you're in a knitter's house (besides the obvious, like the swift and ball winder that seem permanently installed on the dining room table)? By the presence of knitted things - socks, sweaters, blankets, dish cloths, tea cozies, cushions, etc. (I have yet to meet a knitter who doesn't keep at least some of their handiwork).

In an effort to improve my fiberly street cred (because, you know, having a blog and knitting at work leave that in doubt), try a new technique, use up some scraps, and protect my furniture, I made coasters.

They're actually crocheted (which isn't the new technique) rather than knitted. I used the scraps from the Baby Bright afghan and what is very nearly the world's simplest crochet pattern (ravlink). My new technique? Felting. I started by hand felting them in the sink, where I got some of them to fuzz up before giving up and deciding that they were going in the washer. Now, for reasons having to do with my unwillingness to part with my laundry quarters and my sense that a load consisting of four coasters is wasteful, I threw them in the wash with some regular laundry (not in hot water). As you can see, they're hardly felted at all.

Coasters before felting

Coasters after felting

But that's okay - they still save my furniture from water rings!

Monday, September 21, 2009

A bit of lace

I promised a finished object post for the Arabesque stole I made for my friend. I believe my stated time line was "soon." Does a week and a half qualify?

I apologize up front for the lousy full-object pictures. There was all of 28 hours between when I finished it and gave it to my friend, and all of them were either nighttime or really cloudy (and therefore pretty dark). I don't think I've ever taken so many bad pictures in my life as I did of that stole. Anyway, without further ado, I give you the Arabesque stole.

Almost finished - just needs blocking and the ends woven in.

Pinned out on blocking wires. This is, sadly, the only semi-decent picture of the entire thing in its finished state. I can't believe I didn't get even one in focus.

To recap, the pattern is Arabesque (ravlink). I knit it in Jojoland Harmony (ravlink, again) and US size 3 Addi lace needles. I added an extra repeat to the center panel, and if I had it to do again, would probably add more. The finished stole was somewhat shorter than I'd intended - a little over five feet, I think, and I was shooting for six something. This is what comes of not swatching, I guess.

Even though I was little tired of it by the time I finished the knitting, I really couldn't be more thrilled with the finished product.

The lace came out perfectly balanced, in my opinion, between being substantial and airy, solid yet holey. And I love the colors.

Perhaps best of all? I have more of the yarn.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ahoy maties!

Avast, there, ye scurvy bilge rats! Today be International Talk Like a Pirate Day! For some reason, pirates generally not be known fer their knittin' but that doesn't mean they can't appreciate some good fiber. And we wenches are especially appreciative.

We wenches like the baubles and the pretties, especially when they be gifts! This be a gift from me mother. Who doesn't love dolphins?

A wench also needs a little something for her feet, to keep those pretties warm and comfy. Despite the lovely blues and oceany cables, this sock turned out to be a lubber and had to be keelhauled.

Fortunately, this pair came to a better fate. Looking like a nighttime lagoon where mermaids live, they adorn my feet like (uncursed) Spanish gold.

Then there's this piece of treasure. Like a whirlpool of spun silver, it's actually wool and silk. And far less treacherous than a real whirlpool!

Arr, me hearties! I'm off fer some grog and knittin'!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Painting Yarn

In my last post, I promised to tell you about my process for the Pepper Flat.

It started out as a 100 g ball of Trekking Pro Natura, in white. Pro Natura is a wool/bamboo blend, so I wasn't sure how it would take the dye, but I figured since it's mostly wool I'd be okay. I cast on about 100 stitches and knit until I ran out of yarn. (Yes, I know you can buy already knit blanks. But in this case, I think the miles of stockinette were actually good for may sanity.)

To prepare it, I soaked the finished blank in a sink of warm water, no soap.

While it soaked, I prepared my dyes - in this case Paas Easter Egg dyes, mixed per Paas' instructions with vinegar and light on the water.

The actual painting was a bit messy. I spread the damp (I squeezed out most of the water from the soaking) blank out on my counter (granite countertop) and used a teaspoon and a syringe to paint the blank with random blobs of color. The goal was to have no white yarn left anywhere.

To set the dye, I spiraled the flat up to fit into a Pyrex pie plate with as little opportunity for dye seeping to fabric below it as possible. I stuck the whole thing in a plastic bag and microwaved it, I think for about two minutes.

Then I let it cool (keeping it covered), and nuked it again. After cooling from the second application of heat, I rinsed it out in cool water and spread it out to dry.

I can't wait to hear from my sister how it looks knitted into something else.

P.S. I did finish the Arabesque stole in time to send home with my friend! Pictures soon.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Hello September!

September's here and it's already starting to feel like fall. It's no longer oppressively hot during the day, and at night it's cool enough that long pants and sleeves are warranted. With little exception (ragweed comes to mind), I love fall. I like the cooler weather and the changing colors. I like the farmers' markets and that it's cool enough to knit sweaters again.

Speaking of farmers' markets and knitting, I was poking around one of my local ones recently in search of peaches (found, and made into cobbler!), where I saw this:

Which reminded me rather strongly of this:

I knit and painted the flat as a gift for my sister (it was for her birthday, and yes, it was late). I'll share my method later, but for now, I'm off to knit furiously on a stole. The recipient's going to be in town this weekend, so if I finish it, I don't have to mail it to her! I just have to finish the edging and block it, which is totally doable. I think.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Texture and the miracle of blocking

Back in February, I acquired some lovely yarn and started a scarf for myself. Then school and work and my desire to both graduate and remain employed intruded, and somehow it was July before I had the scarf finished. On the upswing, besides having a great scarf for the winter that I swear is coming (I'm so ready to be done with this 90 degrees stuff), finishing it when I did made for more fun photography, since I'd just gotten a new camera.

Blocking has always amazed me. You take some wrinkly, misshapen, unfortunate-looking piece of cloth, apply some water and pins or some careful steaming, and suddenly there's this amazing thing before you. It's like knitting achieves enlightenment and only through blocking can it reach its full potential. I'd just never satisfactorily captured the process until now.

The pre-blocking amorphous pile of stitches.

Which by magic turns into a neat, orderly, smooth, scarf.

I probably shouldn't admit how much I love the contrasts here, the directions, the differences between stockinette and dropped stitches, between front and back sides...

Not such great photography, but I love how it's trying to masquerade as a pair of pants. It's like it saw "The Wrong Trousers" too many times.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Meet Leky!

At the end of May, my sister and I took a trip across the pond to London, Cardiff, and Dublin. Like any sensible tourists, we had a guide:

Leky showed us many sights (although not nearly as many as I can show you, since a lot of the photos were on my sister's camera and she takes after me when it comes to timely dealing with photos). One of Leky's favorite places was the Natural History Museum in London, where he had it out with a T-Rex. I intervened before either of them got hurt.

My favorite moment with Leky was when we were getting on the Eye. Leky had been traveling in my bag, so he was the first thing the security guard saw when he opened my bag. He cracked up, pulled Leky out and turned to the other security guard with "Look, mate, it's a Dalek!" The other security guard just looked at him and me like we were both nuts. Fortunately, once we got on the Eye, Leky behaved himself and didn't attempt to destroy any of London's landmarks in a futile attempt at exterminating the human race.

Leky's favorite afternoon (and one of mine as well) was one we spent in the castle park in Cardiff. I spent the afternoon knitting while Leky enjoyed the miniature daisies (he may tried to exterminate a few).

Now that we're back (and have been for months), Leky's duties have changed from tour guide to desk guard. He does an excellent job watching over my pen collection at work.

Saturday, August 08, 2009


Dear Blog,

I'm sorry that my attention to you is so sporadic. I know you feel neglected when I don't write for weeks at a time, and for that, I'm deeply sorry. But you're always here waiting for me when I sit down at the computer, and you're so patient, never demanding attention when I'd rather give it to something else (like Battlestar Galactica). You're always so happy to post anything I have to say, and you seem to love my yarns and knitting just as much as I do. I can't promise that I'll do any better on the frequent posting in the future (we both know how my previous resolutions on the subject have turned out), but I wanted to say that I really do appreciate your faithful, undemanding friendship.


P.S. I do have some knitting content. Several months ago, I engaged in a sci-fi knitting swap. For the craft-it-yourself portion of the swap, I made this geeky washcloth:

I do love those rebel scum...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Variation on a theme

One of the recurring themes in my knitting life is that I am late with gifts, especially birthday gifts for my sisters. Luckily for me, they love knitted things, even when I finish them months late and take still more months to mail them. This time, though, I did something different, for variety's sake, I suppose.

My middle sister's birthday is in May. I had one of her gifts done in January. January! And somehow, I didn't get it in the mail until the end of June. June! I'm just going to say that I was waiting to accumulate a whole box of things to send to my family, and leave it at that. No need to mention any of my other tardiness...

Anyway, I crocheted my sister a scarf.

Boteh Scarf, in Trekking Hand Art, colorway Jamaika.

This was my first foray into crochet (besides edgings) since about the time I was 6. The crazy shaping might make you think the pattern is complicated, but the instructions are clear and easily memorized, and the crochet itself is not very challenging (I think the whole thing uses three stitches). All in all, I had a lot of fun making it, and I hope my sister will have a lot of fun wearing it. You know, after summer is over.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


I don't know how this happens so often: I sit down at the computer to blog, start by doing something else, and suddenly, it's three hours later at the end of the evening, I haven't blogged and I should really be going to bed. Normally, I give up on the blogging in favor of sleep, not not tonight! I still need to prepare for Monday, though, so this will be a quickie.

I've had some interesting acquisitions lately, chief among them a new camera. I've been playing a lot with the new camera, and used it to take some pictures of my most recent yarn acquisitions.

Limari by Araucania, a fantastically soft, marvelously blotchy super bulky wool/alpaca/silk blend that I bought as souvenir yarn in London.

Zauberball by Schoppel-Wolle, a remarkably fun-looking sock yarn and another souvenir from my London trip.

A load of Blue Moon Fiber Arts' Socks that Rock in light and medium weights and intended for four different projects.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Still so far behind...

My blogging is still months behind my actual knitting. This is a direct result of two things: 1) I don't like to blog about gifts (as finished objects) until the recipient has actually gotten it (and I'm really slow in getting things to my family), and 2) when things get crazy busy, I quit blogging but I don't quit knitting.

Anyway, my dad's birthday was back in February. His birthday present was a scarf that I didn't finish until March and didn't get in the mail until last week. I realize scarves are not useful in the summer, even in Alaska, but summer's short and it'll be cold again in a few months, so I don't feel too badly about it.

It's a Noro two-row stripe scarf in 1x1 ribbing. Simple, and I picked sedate colorways on purpose, because while my dad has occasionally been known to where almost anything (you should see the cycling and skiing clothes), he's new to scarves and I didn't want to overwhelm him with both a new accessory and outrageous colors.

In any case, I hope he finds it to be a useful winter accessory to wear with his leather jacket in a stylish fashion the rest of the family will approve of.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Matching socks

Because even 16-year-old girls have occasions for which their socks really ought to match, I also made my sister a pair of matching socks. Not quite so matching as to be identical twins, but these are at least the same yarn, in the same colorway, in the same pattern and the same size. And yes, the left sock is inside-out. That was on purpose, too.

Pattern: Hypnosis by Janel Laidman
Yarn: Colinette Jitterbug, in Lapis, about 240 yds used
Needles: 24" Addi turbos in US size 1.5
Size: to fit a woman's 8

I modified the pattern a little bit, to change how the pattern interacted with the heel, and I think I worked a different heel (I don't actually remember now). Jitterbug is a fun yarn (also a fun dance, by the way), although a little thicker/heavier than a lot of the sock yarns I use.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Let's do the time warp again*

I've written previously about warping spacetime. Last time, it was a week. This time, an afternoon. I'm pretty sure that I accomplish an impossibly large number of things this afternoon, especially since I started late. In about 5 hours:
  • I took out the trash.
  • I took care of the recycling.
  • I did two loads of laundry (in the machine).
  • I cleaned the kitchen and did the dishes.
  • I cleaned out (and actually cleaned!) the refrigerator.
  • I vacuumed everything (to be fair, my place is small).
  • I cleaned the bathroom (sink, toilet, and tub).
  • I mopped the kitchen, bathroom, and dining room.
  • I hand washed my bathmat and kitchen area rug (they don't readily fit in the washer).
  • I updated the anti-virus software and otherwise got my desktop fully working again.
  • I hand washed all my running clothes.
  • I hand washed several sweaters.
  • I ate dinner.
  • I watched an episode of Battlestar Galactica (I came late to the party, I'm only in season 1).
Now, how is that all possible? Surely getting that much done in a Sunday afternoon requires some sort of warping of the spacetime continuum. Or Mary Poppins-like abilities to make things take care of themselves, but I'm sure I don't have that, since I remember doing all of those things I said, and I'm sure if things could put themselves away, my place would be even neater.

Anyway, you didn't come here to read about my mind-bogglingly productive afternoon. You came to read about knitting. Which I really have been doing, despite what recent posts might lead you to believe. As usual, I have several (four, to be precise) things on which I'm actively working, and I don't have good (or bad, for that matter) pictures of them all. So I'll just tell you about my favorite WIP of the moment.

It's the Arabesque stole in Jojoland Harmony (ravlinks). I'm making it for a friend who got married last summer. She picked out the pattern and the yarn, and I was originally intending for it to be a wedding gift. Now, my goal is to have it done by her first anniversary. I've got a month and a half; I think I can make it. Especially if I can transfer this time warp stuff from housework to knitting.

*Since you all liked the last earworm so well, I thought I'd give you another. :-)

Monday, June 15, 2009

From the ashes of disaster...

Continuing my quest to take care of bloggage, today I bring you one of the things I made for my sister for her 16th birthday (which was in February): Dobby socks!

Dobbytomus: a rare subspecies of Pomatomus

To be completely honest, I only made one of these for her for her birthday. The other one I rescued from what was nearly a sock tragedy.

You may recall that a while back, I knit myself a pair of blue Pomatomus (ravlink) socks. I rather liked these and wore them on occasional (my life has sadly few opportunities for wearing handknit wool socks). One day, back about November, I pulled them out of my sock drawer to put them on, and to my horror discovered that the heel of one was moth eaten! You can imagine my dismay. I immediately cleaned and quarantined all my wool socks (fortunately kept nowhere near the yarn) and bought a couple dozen lavendar-scented cedar blocks for all my wool storage places. I can happily report that I have found no other damage or evidence of a beastly invasion.

But that still left the question of what to do with the one perfectly good sock. I didn't have the yarn to make a second one to match, and I don't wear mismatched socks (except on accident). But then it occurred to me: I have a younger sister who's obsessed with Harry Potter and would love to wear mismatched socks. So I found some yarn (Koigu) for the not-quite-matching mate, and knitted away. My sister assures me she likes the result.

So there you have it: further evidence that the roses of success can grow from the ashes of disaster!

Friday, June 12, 2009


You know how you go through life and things happen to you and you either deal with them or they turn into baggage? It turns out there's a similar thing for blogging. You go through life knitting, and things either get blogged about or they turn into bloggage. This can be minimized by regular blogging, which as we all know, is not my strength. However, I am determined to do something about my bloggage, one project at a time. At the rate I go, I'll probably get caught up in about 2017, but I'm still going to give it a shot.

First up, Patrol Socks.

These are just John Doe socks with a twisted rib/cable thing down the sides. They're knit from Regia sock yarn in the Kaffe Fassett colorway Fog with mirage patterning. I think I used just a smidge over two balls for socks that fit a man's size 10.

They're called Patrol Socks because I started (and finished) them for Mr. Willoughby while he was on patrol. Then Willoughby revealed himself to be a blackguard and undeserving of wooly, knitted love. Fortunately for me, I have a friend who was particularly helpful to me in getting through Willoughby's revealing his true colors. He offered me a unique perspective (all my other close friends are women) and a reminder that all men are not cads. And fortunately for my friend, his feet are the same size as Willoughby's, or at least close enough that the socks fit him. So he got the socks instead.

You know, I think it's possible that the only thing better than knowing that your handknits are worn and appreciated is knowing that you're cared about. Don't you think?

Monday, June 01, 2009

100 - from the road

This is my 100th post. That means over the almost 2 and 1/2 years that I've been blogging, I've written about 0.8 posts/week. When I started this, I had grand visions of blogging multiple times a week. I don't think my grand visions accounted for such things as work, school, and the need to buy groceries and do laundry. Still, 100. I think that's something.

I feel like I should have something profound to go with such a neat number, but since I'm traveling, I've got to rely on a post I wrote and added pictures to (the really important part) a while ago. So while I'm all out of profound and insightful, I give you bright and cheerful!

Baby bibs! In bright cotton yarn, photographed on a bright sunny day. I made these as a way to use up some of the ball ends from my dishcloth making. My favorite part? The buttons.

How can you not love the cute little girl buttons? I think I like the butterfly the best...

More regularish blogging to return when I'm back on my usual continent.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

So much to share

In the last month that I've been more or less absent from the blog, a lot's gone on.

I had a great trip to the UK - got to do some sightseeing in London, enjoyed some great Indian food, and sampled a good selection of beers. My favorite thing? Jane Austen manuscripts at the British Library. No pictures of that, though. Instead, a sampling of what I saw elsewhere in London:

I finished my master's degree! I am now a Master of Engineering. I am also now firmly of the opinion that only crazy people try to earn degrees while working full time.

To celebrate, I spent a weekend in Florida with some girl friends. It was like I was living someone else's life for the weekend. There was complimentary champagne when we checked in. Then there were massages at the amazing day spa (I don't think I'd been that relaxed in years). There were three pools, one with a waterfall and one with water slides. There was a private island in the gulf. There were bars - one poolside (ordering fruity drinks while dressed only in a bathing suit is something everyone should do at least once) and one in the hotel itself (pomegranate mojitos are my new favorite drink). And then, on the flight back, there was the shuttle launch.

Somewhere in all this busy-ness, I've even managed to do some knitting. Hard to believe, isn't it? Unfortunately, all the recent knitting is currently unphotographed. But fortuitously, I am way behind on posting about all manner of finished items. And so I present: one big granny square I dubbed Baby Bright.

Finished months ago, it's crocheted from Northampton by Valley Yarns. I pretty much just kept at it until I ran out of yarn. It's amazing what tenacity can get you!