Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hold onto your hats...

This might be a long one.

I keep hearing people whingeing about this whole spring forward deal, but I love it. I can already tell it's going to do wonders for my blogging, since I get off work and it's (gasp) light out. I love writing a knitting blog, god knows I have way too much to say about knitting in general and if I didn't have a blog I would be going around making my friends admire my yarn and squish my hats. (Oh wait, I do that anyway.)

But I hate taking pictures. Hate it. I don't think I'm a bad photographer, I've gotten the occasional compliment, but I am definitely a reluctant one. I love photographs, but I'm always the one bringing my camera to places, taking two pictures and then trying to foist it off onto someone else. So convincing myself to go out and take pictures for the blog has always been a challenge for me.

Today, though, thanks to this miraculous light, I hauled my butt up, went out to the wooded median in F parking lot (my prime picture location) and took some overdue shots.


This is my go-to hat lately. It's the fantastic Marsan watch cap pattern, which I've been knitting obsessively lately. The yarn is recycled from a thrifted J.Crew sweater, my first time successfully frogging a commercial sweater for yarn. I had tried it before and hated it, and hated it even while I was doing it this time, until I read somewhere that a lot of commercial sweaters are seamed together with little crochet chains. All you have to do is find it, pull the end, and the chained seam totally unravels. It's like a miracle. This totally beats my snipping-each-individual seam stitch method, and I'm definitely going to try this more in the future. I don't know the fiber content because the sweater didn't have a tag, but it has little fluffy hairy bits in it so presumably it's natural. I held the yarn double for this hat since I wasn't sure of its strength.



I bought the yarn for this second hat as a wee birthday present to myself. I've wanted this colorway for ages, but this was my first time using Noro and seeing it knit up isn't quite as exciting as in the skein. I'm not too crazy about the lime green and the hunter orange right next to each other. I might frog it and turn it into a couple Turn a Squares. On the other hand, it is spectacularly awful with my orange scarf and orange sunglasses, which is an admirable quality in itself. As I came of age in the early 2000s, I usually have a deep-seated aversion to orange, having worn way too much of it when I was 12 (I owned, in 2001, an orange Old Navy visor. I feel that was the definitive fashion article of the times.)

Despite this healthy aversion, I have, apparently, become the sort of person who wears orange. Not only that, the kind of person who mixes orange and lime green. I have been horrified to discover, in fact, that my most common color combination these days is orange, green and purple. When my lovely friend Sue pulled out a stack of miller mitts she'd knit and let me pick a pair, and I immediately grabbed these, I knew I had a problem.


I wear, nearly every day, my green vest, orange scarf and purple skirt, and now these mitts. They're absolutely gorgeous (and Sue found the yarn at a garage sale...she has major garage sale mojo) but how, exactly, did I become the kind of person whose token color combination is orange, green and purple? Shouldn't there have been some sort of warning signs?


Why, look at that, I actually have a picture of me wearing the Noro hat with my orange scarf and sunglasses, memorialized for all time.


I look like some sort of technicolor Ted Kaczynski. I would give a disclaimer that I'm actually much more svelte than I appear, but I'm wearing so much f#%*ing clothing in that picture that I'm not even insecure about it. (One of my favorite hobbies is listing the number of layers I have on, but having discovered that few people find this as entertaining as I do, suffice it to say that I am wearing two hats.)

That's me and my mom at an Iditarod party in Alaska. (For those of you who didn't grow up in Alaska and have an Iditarod unit in elementary school, the Iditarod is a sled dog race. The sled dog race. It runs from Anchorage to Nome, memorializing the historic event you have possibly seen portrayed in the fine piece of cinema that is Disney's Balto. It has a ceremonial start in Anchorage, then starts for real in a town called Willow. On the ceremonial leg, time doesn't matter, so mushers are just touring through town for fun. One of my mom's friends has a house right on the ceremonial route, so he throws a big Iditarod party every year.)

And guess who stopped at the party?


That's right. Lance Mackey. Lance Mackey is a really, really big deal. He's pretty much a living legend. The two biggest sled dog races are the Iditarod and the Yukon Quest, and they happen within weeks of each other. Everyone always thought it would be impossible for a single musher to win both of them in one year, but Lance Mackey won them both, in the same year, two years in a row. He's also a cancer survivor. On top of this, he is really nice. Like I said, big, big deal. (I may also be secretly in love with him, but try not to think about that because it freaks me out.)

But, my friends, my fellow knit bloggers, what's missing from that picture? Hmm? Anything?

A SOCK. A SOCK IS WHAT IS MISSING FROM THAT PICTURE. Lance Mackey stopped, right in front of me, was taking pictures with people, I had a sock WITH ME and I didn't even think to ask him to hold it. DAMN. This was without a doubt one of my worst moves ever. I know he would have held it. Lance Mackey is kind and good. Lance Mackey is in no position to judge other peoples' weird hobbies. He would have done it. To be fair, the sock was pink and lace, so it might have been a little weird, but I know he would have held it. I don't know if I will ever forgive myself for missing this opportunity. Damn.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I'm a talker today

On my way back from Anchorage on Monday (more on that later), I stopped over in Juneau for a couple hours to see my dear old Dad. We had a couple hours to kill, and it was too windy and cold out to go for a walk, so imagine my joy when he suggested, "Well, why don't we go to the yarn shop?" The yarn shop, however, was closed. We briefly discussed breaking in, but a friend of ours does own it, so we concluded that such measures were a little out of line, even in situations in which the shop is closed but you can see the exact colorway of Lorna's Laces you've wanted for years hanging in the window and someone wants to buy it for you and you can't get in... I managed to get over it, we swung by the JoAnn on the way out to the airport, and he hooked me up with a nice stack of Patton's as a belated birthday gift, on sale and enough to make a sweater. Nice.


I wasn't sure whether I'd keep the grey or exchange it for another color...the last thing I need is more depressing winter clothing, but on the other hand, I'm considering officially giving my grey garter yoke cardigan to a friend of mine who has subtly co-opted it, so that would create an opening for a grey sweater in my life. (I have come to accept that the garter yoke sweater looks infinitely better on her than it does on me. I am 5'3" - okay, 5' 2 3/4" - while she is 5'10", which means that it is unequivocally too big for me, a fact I have been attempting to deny ever since I finished it. I'm trying not to be too bitter about this.)

Anyway, I'm planning on knitting it into a Gathered Pullover (since it seems my Pendulum of Fickleness has swung back in its direction). It's not the weight called for, but I never liked that pattern until I saw fellow SnBer Courtney's version, which is in worsted weight with positive ease, so I'm going to do something along those lines. Instead of knitting it as specified in the pattern, I'd convert mine to a bottom-up raglan with a steeked neck. Essentially I'd only be using the cable chart. Because, well, why do something simply when I can make it incredibly complicated and potentially fraught with peril? I have yet to knit a sweater actually following a pattern and am not sure I ever will.

Also, I have a terrible secret, the reason for the steek, the reason I don't knit patterns that combine knitting flat and in the round: I row out. Really, really, really terribly row out. As Priscilla Gibson-Roberts puts it in Knitting in the Old Way, "With the knit side facing, every other row will appear just a tad looser. But if you turn to the purl side, you will see a major difference - this is called rowing out, and it is not a mark of excellence."


What I think Priscilla is too nice to say there is that rowing out is bad. Very bad. I actually think it looks kind of cool, gives flat knitting a neat texture, but the problem with patterns that combine flat and circular knitting is that only part of the garment is "rowed-out," while the rest looks normal. Ugh. A lot of people recommend combined knitting to fix the problem, in order to tighten up the purl stitches, which are usually the loose ones. My problem, (naturally, since I am apparently determined to make my life difficult) is that instead of purling too loosely, I purl too tightly, so combined knitting would actually make the problem worse. Sigh. Mine is a sad lot in life. I'm short and I purl too tightly. How will I ever go on?

P.S. This is how much yarn was in my bag when I unpacked. I travel carry-on only, but I have my priorities right.


(Communist Manifesto included for scale)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Garden vegetables on your (tiny) feet


This is the Sunshine LL left over from the Hufflepuff socks. Thanks to the stripes and Sarah's tiny feets, I had a fair amount of yarn left over - over 60g. (Oh yeah, I just got a scale. I am wildly obsessed with it. More on that later, maybe.) I tied the two skeins together in hopes that this would increase their chances of turning out similar, then handpainted them in the oven: just squeezed the excess water out of the yarn, laid it out flat in my roasting pan and started pouring colors over it. I think I left too much water in the skein before I started painting because some of the later colors spread a bit, like the yarn was too saturated for them to fully absorb. I love the look, I think it looks sort of kettle dyed and am hoping it won't pool too badly because of this. *knocks on head*


I didn't much like it at first but it's grown on me, reminds me of garden colors - kale, squash, earth, pumpkins - so I'm going to knit it into a pair of toe-up anklets for my mom, who has both tiny feet and a fantastic green thumb. It is a fine thing for your primary sock-recipient have tiny feet. Thanks Mom! I'll even forgive you for making me short.

I really cannot recommend small-footed persons highly enough. I happen to be one myself and to have inherited these feet from my mother (though not quite to her extreme; I wear a 6.5 while she wears a 5.5), but should you not have had the great fortune to have been born into a small-footed family, consider making more friends of our ilk. If they wear a size below 6, especially, they probably feel relatively marginalized by society, foot-wise, so for you to knit them socks and praise their small feet would be a fantastic boon to both of you. Lest we forget, large-footed people require love too. But they also require more yarn.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Kindness & Loyalty

I knit these Hufflepuff socks up for my dear friend Sarah for Christmas. She is possibly the only person I know who is as obsessed with Harry Potter as I am, so these were a natural gift. Er, yeah, they were a little late.


I was planning on using this pattern, but the intarsia in the round was fiddly and bothersome and I had forgotten just how much I hate duplicate stitch. It gives me hives. So they're just plain, but I think she gets the point.

Tune in next time to see what I did with the left over yarn and learn why you too should cultivate a circle of small-footed loved ones.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

I'm spinning

I'm spinning because I saw this bonnet and I totally lost it. I had to have one just like it. Also, I am totally wild for Leethal. Reading her blog brings out some strange, brightly-colored part of me that usually lies latent under all the black & Dostoevsky.

I'm (hopefully) making mine out of this Suffolk that I dyed a couple months ago, and this is a big deal, because I am crazy for this roving, it's probably the coolest thing I've ever dyed. (Someone pointed out to me recently that I speak almost entirely in hyperbole, but I think it's more accurate to say that I live in hyperbole.)


I am seriously protective of it and have been saving it for the perfect project, and it is a testament to my faith in Leethal's enabling & Adrian's designing, that I trust them to not mislead me and to provide a project worthy of this roving. It is also a testament to how totally insane I am that I have somehow decided that I am capable of determining whether two total strangers on the internet are somehow "trustworthy" by virtue of the fact that I like their knitting. Few bulbs short of a marquee.

I've got one and a half bobbins filled up with singles. This yarn will maybe end up sportweight-ish and maybe I will have enough of it. It's not like there's anything I can do if there's not, so I'm not worrying too much about it. (Lie. Blatant lie.) We'll see how things turn out.

P.S. Isn't photographing roving on snow the best ever? I almost wanted it to stick around just so I could keep using it as a backdrop. Ha!

Hear ye

Happy Valentine's Day y'all. I'm not normally the type to point that out to you, since I'm usually firmly in the bitter anti-Valentine's Day camp, but strangely, this year I am not full of spite. Maybe this is a sign of personal growth? Maybe it is because I am going to an exciting Valentine's Day dance party tonight (I briefly toyed with the possibility of making heart-shaped Jello shots for the occasion, but fortunately the fates prevented me from actually putting this depraved plan into action).

So here, to further inflame the passions of the anti-Valentine's Day party, is my personal contribution to the world of vaguely artsy Valentine's Day blog photos.


You will note that it contains both red (a certain swatch) and Hershey's kisses (procured from my roommate for "photographic purposes only" - as an aside, did you know that apparently Hershey's chocolate now contains more vegetable oil than actual chocolate? Is this at all surprising?).

I feel this is sufficiently festive. I may even celebrate by casting on the project this swatch belongs to. Any guesses? (Hint: it is not the Gathered Pullover. I am nothing if not fickle.)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

whoo boy

Just finished the hat. Do I know what everyone is getting for Christmas or what?

It's like a miracle

Okay, so I'll admit that I am pretty skeptical towards bulky yarn & its proponents. This is probably due to working in a yarn shop and being horrified at watching hundreds of beginning knitters convince themselves that it will be easiest to learn to knit with Twinkle Soft Chunky & size 19 needles, which is possibly the hardest possible way to learn to knit, but I digress. If I wanted speed, I would buy the hat, not knit it.

Now I'm forced to admit that they may have a point.

This is how much hat I can knit in one lecture on Russian nationalist music of the 19th century.


That's just Glinka through Borodin! We haven't even gotten to Mussorgsky! It's fast. Seriously fast. This is the second of these hats (Wool Ease Thick n' Quick) I've knit in a week for my roommate, and I'm kind of hooked on them. Hopefully this one will be less trouble than the first, which ended up being a) pointy and b) far too long.


It has been rectified with much cutting and frogging. Pretty intensive surgery, really. I've been using the Marsan Watchcap pattern as a guide, casting on 64 stitches and dividing the hat into 4 sections of 16 for the decreases. The thing about this hat is to knit far less than you'd expect before beginning the decreases: they add a lot more height than your average swirl-top.

Oh, and the period-appropriate snow? All my fault. I brought my non-waterproof shoes out of storage this weekend. Oops.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Speaking of the sweater that pilled a lot, I realized I hadn't posted it. Have you figured out that this blog is erratic at best and I am absolutely shameless about it? But I'm actually really stoked about this sweater. And also a little bitter. I finally knit a sweater that fits me absolutely perfectly, that I want to wear every day, and it pills to the extent that it is practically shameful to wear. Go figure.


(Apparently it also makes my boobs look strange. I will pretend that is not the case.)

I spent YEARS trying to figure out the chart I wanted for the yoke of this sweater. Then I saw ikkinetic’s Lopi sweater and I fell madly in love. It was perfect. I wanted my sweater to look exactly like it. So, with much squinting at the computer screen, I, er, ripped off the design. Mea culpa, Lopi. The wee yellow flecks were a bit of last-minute duplicate stitch when I thought that space looked "empty," but I really think they tie the whole thing together.


You can't really see the yoke design with my hair in the way. I wish I could say that this was why I got an a-line hair cut - so as to better show off the yokes of my sweaters...


...but it was entirely coincidence.

I also made the World’s Biggest Dumbass Steek Mistake (a.k.a. WBDSM - please note the similarity to BDSM a.k.a. bondage/sado-masochism - I am convinced this is not coincidence and that maybe I have been listening to the Savage Lovecast too much?).


I wanted the henley button-band to be the equivalent of about five stitches wide, so when I got to the yoke, I cast off five stitches. What I didn’t do was cast on more than five stitches for the steek, because I am the world’s biggest ass hat. This meant that I had three stitches for the crochet steek, and one stitch on either side for picking up the button band. This is about as close as you can cut it (I cannot help but pun, it is my great curse in life) and there was definitely a moment when I thought this sweater was doomed and I was going to have to rip out the entire yoke and use the yarn for the kindling of my self-immolating fire. I think I got cocky after the garter yoke cardigan. For god’s sake people, don’t mix hubris and steeking.

Full-steam ahead

I'm sick. I've been sounding whiny in the blog lately, but I'm pretty sure the "oh my god I'm so exhausted" complaint and the "hey wait, now I'm sick too?!" complaints are largely connected.

There is a pretty good chance that what I'm about to do is connected to those two issues, too.

So I have this cone of yarn, and I am crazy for it.

Pomegranate Cone

I really want to knit a Gathered Pullover out of it, but I have a problem. This yarn pills like crazy. I know it pills like crazy. I've knit a sweater out of it before and I barely wear it, even though I love it, because the pilling is totally out of control.

It's Nature Spun Sport. I have a Shedir knit out of Nature Spun Worsted that hasn't pilled at all, so I had a plan to knit this up into a cabled sweater, hoping that the tighter gauge and cables and stuff would somehow "contain" the pills. But I don't really feel like knitting or wearing a cabled sweater right now. I want my friggin' Gathered Pullover. The G.P. is knit at an extremely loose gauge, but I'm thinking I'll knit mine at a "normal" gauge for the yarn to lower that risk of pilling. But I still know this sweater is going to pill, and I don't know if I should just knit it, love it and get myself a sweater shaver, or pull my head out of my arse and realize how stupid I'm being.

So, starting a new sweater, with a yarn that I know pills, at the wrong gauge for the pattern, while I'm sick and brain dead - bad idea, or, in a sort of shoot-the-moon-what-more-could-go-wrong-the-knitting-fates-won't-know-what-hit-'em sort of way, genius?