Friday, December 28, 2007

A Very Crafty Christmas

Crafty because I made most of my gifts (and actually finished them) and because I got crafty stuff for presents. Despite my best efforts, I still had to sew up the little notebook I made for my dad on Christmas morning before he woke up, but considering some of my past Christmas fiascos--last year everyone got presents still on the needles--that was nothing. So the Victorian women had it right; handmade Christmas gifts should be started no later than July. We'll see how it goes this summer in the middle of two intense graduate classes.

I think I've shown you all the presents I gave away (except for a couple, which I forgot to take pictures of before I sent them off--maybe I can convince the recipients to take pictures for me), so here's what I got:

  • The Stitch'n Bitch Page-a-Day calendar from my brother
  • The Daring Book for Girls from Bethie (This book is amazing--I've already learned how to do the whistle with your two pinkies. I only wish I had it when I was younger, although I got similar stuff from a variety of other books. Amy has a great review of it here)
  • Knitting Vintage Socks, a back issue of Interweave Knits, the Tree Sweater and Rusted Root pattern by Zephyr Style, Cookie A.'s German Stockings pattern, and the Blue Sky Alpacas Crochet Sweater pattern, from my parents via Kpixie

From left to right:

  • Mama Llama hand-dyed Merino Tencel
  • Black Pearl Yarns DK Cashmere
  • A set of casein DPNS, US Size 2 (I'm really curious about these, and they are very inexpensive--I'll let you know how they are)
  • Three skeins of Hemp for Knitting AllHemp3, to become the crocheted market bag from Crochet Me (the book, which I highly recommend)
  • Again, all from my parents and bought from KPixie

From left to right:

  • Two skeins Claudia Handpaints Fingering Weight Merino in colorway "Toast," to become the Friday Harbor Socks in Knitting on the Road
  • One skein of Shetland Cobweb yarn (Beth's response to this was "You really are crazy, aren't you?")
  • One skein of Blue Sky Alpacas Suri Merino in Snow, the yarn called for in the Crochet Sweater pattern above that I am absolutely desperate to make. I decided to get one skein so I could have an easier time finding a suitable subsitute yarn (the Suri Merino is $16 a skein) and thinking I could just make a hat out of this skein, but I have touched it and it is delicious and I must have this yarn for my sweater. I think. I'm going to swatch and see how it is in crocheted form and remind myself that there is no way I can afford this yarn for an entire sweater. (Also from my parents, also from Kpixie)

  • On top, the crocheted and embroidered house purse kit from Make Make
  • The Sushi coin purse kit from Pick Up Sticks (also from my parents and from Kpixie)

It's a good thing I have a break from school to get some serious crafting done!

The killer icicles outside my window

"Those icicles have been know to kill people!" -Ralphie's mother in A Christmas Story

Hope you all had a great holiday, and my belated present to you is on its way: the Owl Cable scarf, which would match the Owl Cable hat perfectly (that was my inspiration). It was a birthday present for my aunt, who loves owls, and unfortunately I forgot to take a picture. I'll see if I can't get her to send me one.

Time to get knitting!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Deck the Halls (or your friends)

I can't write much because I'm in the middle of trying to finish several presents, but I don't have much to show yet anyway. I've either already posted it or the presents are for friends who read the blog.

I gave this to my friend Susan on Tuesday:

Pattern: "One Night Glam" from Stitch'n Bitch: The Happy Hooker
Materials: 26 gauge wire, less than half a tube of mixed beads I've had for awhile, two clasps
Hook: US K/10.5
Modifications: Added several more beads to both pieces than was recommended; made both pieces longer (I probably didn't have gauge).

This pattern was so quick and easy. I made both during the Martha Stewart Show. Yesterday Susan called to tell me that she saw necklaces just like this in a store for $65!
And wonderful woman that she is, Susan gave me a skein Malabrigo worsted (also known as my drug of choice) in a gorgeous teal. I'll post pictures with the rest of my presents later.

All right, back to the workshop! It's just like me to get started in July and still be scrambling at the last minute...

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Going Local

I finally got to give Bethie her birthday present, so I can show you:

What started out as the "Classy Cabled Clutch" from 101 One Skein Wonders turned into...not a clutch. This is what happens when you don't swatch, folks. Luckily I am flexible and it turned out so long.

I've decided that one of my New Year's Resolutions is to shop locally. I always kinda sorta try to, but now I'm really going to make an effort to do so. The money you spend on a local business stays in the community and makes it more the type of place I want to live, and the financial and environmental price of gas is making me think carefully about what I buy and where it comes from. I already apply it to food and specialty purchases, but I realized I kind of ignore that when it comes to yarn. So:

  • I'm going to do my best to buy yarn locally (I'm defining "local" as New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, and upstate New York--New England is small, area-wise). Not just locally, but from small farms and businesses. This shouldn't be too hard or stressful, since we have so many great places in the area--like Green Mountain Spinnery, Halcyon Yarns, Webs, and Harrisville Designs. There are also my local favorites: The Elegant Ewe, Pearl's Yarn Shop, The Yarn and Fiber Company, and The Fiber Studio; and the Wool Tour (in October) and the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival (in May).
  • I'm starting with my Christmas list over at KPixie (they are located in Massachusetts)
  • I'm allowing myself one KnitPicks order at some point in the year (I am a poor graduate student, after all)
  • I'm going to make a renewed effort to do the most local shopping of all--in the stash, which is getting cumbersome and a little embarrassing

So who's with me?

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Secret's Out

I finally finished the Secret of the Stole KAL (and only one day after the deadline, too!)

It will never cease to amaze me that you can start with this

and end up with this:

(Why yes, that is a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles towel)

The Yarn Harlot has a much more elegant post on lace and the magic of blocking, and since I can't say it any better than she can and I'm in the throes of finals I will send you there (and might I add I am in desperate need of those blocking wires. The thing about stoles is they have two very loooong straight edges. I tried the string method but it didn't work; I think it was because the edges were just too long). I have been making other things, but I have to do a research proposal, a planning document (just as boring as it sounds), and an in-depth annotated bibliography for reference. Unfortunately I don't think any of my professors will accept a hand-knit pair of socks instead (crazy, I know). Next Friday, I promise.
Blogger is being really frustrating. I may be switching to WordPress (don't worry, I'll let you know).
I should also admit that I signed up for the Secret of the Stole II. After my first semester of graduate school, more lace knitting on tiny needles sounds like a piece of cake.
Wish me luck. I'm diving back into the piles of homework. Seeing that light at the end of the tunnel...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Gnome for the Holidays

Who doesn't love a needle-felted gnome, especially one who also resembles Old Saint Nick?

A couple of things I finished during the last couple of weeks and forgot to post:

Pattern: Single Cable Scarf from One Skein
Yarn: Blue Sky Alpacas Organic Cotton, 1 skein sage
Source: Patternworks
Needles: Crystal Palace Bamboo straights, US Size 9
Modifications: None
Pattern: Tweed Beret, Interweave Knits Winter 2006 (Size 19"; my head is actually 21" but
this fits great)
Yarn: Tahki Donegal Tweed, 1 skein
Needles: Susan Bates 16" circular, US Size 6; Aluminum DPNs, US Size 6
Modifications: None

Finally finished:

Pattern: Clessidra from Knitty Spring 2007
Yarn: KnitPicks Essential, 3 balls burgundy (I ordered four balls, since the yardage is almost the
same as the yarn the designer used, and despite adding a significant amount of stitches to
the calf to make it bigger, I didn't even touch the fourth ball)
Source: KnitPicks
Needles: 2 Addi Turbo 24" circular, US Size 1 (I used the two circular needles method)
Modifications: I added 12 stitches total to the calf to make it larger and then added more decreases to make up for it

I wore them on Thanksgiving and they were very toasty and pretty (if a bit slippery on the hardwood floors--one of the risks of handknit socks and klutzy tendencies)

And in non-knitting news, I present a picture of my made-from-scratch apple pie:

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!
And now the holiday countdown begins:
6 Christmas presents to make
5 Final papers
4 clues to knit for the Secret of the Stole
3 weeks of classes
2 presentations
and a partridge in a pear tree
Not to mention I plan on watching Emmett Otter's Jugband Christmas every day from now until December 25. Full speed ahead!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Golf and Birdies

"Birdie" is a golf term. If you're really desperate to know what it means click here.
I made these golf club covers for my dad's birthday next weekend. I made him a set of five or six a couple of years ago, in Red Sox and Patriots colors, but he lost a couple of them on the golf course (hey, at least he's using them). These I just made with some scrap yarn I had hanging around.

They knit up really quickly in Lamb's Pride Bulky. The pattern is one I kind of made up, based on my bad experience with the golf club covers from Suss Cousins' Hollywood Knits (I've said it before, I love her designs but I have never knit one of her patterns that I didn't have to change in some way because of gauge or other issues).

Unfortunately, I still feel that my pattern is too close to the original or else I would reprint it for you here. I've been scouring the new wave of men's knitting books that have come out, looking for great guy patterns, and I'm surprised I haven't seen any other golf club covers. As far as I'm concerned, this is one of my most successful guy knitting projects ever (and you don't have to worry about fit!).

Pattern: My own, inspired by the Golf Club Covers from Hollywood Knits
Yarn: Odds and ends of Lamb's Pride Bulky
Source: Probably all from Patternworks
Needles: US Size 10, these ancient aluminum ones I inherited from my mom
Modifications: So many I call it my own pattern

I actually finished the knitting aspect of the Bird Seed Scarf a couple of weeks ago, but several attempts at embroidering the birds on made me very cranky.
It hit me while I was riding the T that I should cut out my sketch of the bird, pin it to the scarf, and stitch around it. So simple, but this was literally the sixth or seventh time I had tried to embroider it. I tried to use the yarn I used for the scarf, but it was picky and stuck to the fabric. I switched to embroidery thread and I really love the effect. I just have to do the other end, and decide whether to do anymore. I kind of like how it looks with just the ends decorated.

I also finished another scarf this week but I forgot to take a picture of it in the craziness that is my Sunday mornings. I only have a few hours to get ready for work and do some chores and knitting, so I never get as much done as I would like. Today was especially bad. I mentioned that I had kind of been in a knitting funk, and I'm not sure that's cleared completely. This morning I felt like The Kid Who Can't Knit (or Sew). The golf club covers knit up pretty quickly but I've been busy and haven't had the time to do the actual knitting, and seaming them up, with all their shaping, is not fun. I finished the second one this morning, finished embroidering the bird you see above, and started a second bird which looked nothing like a bird so it had to be ripped out. Then I tried to work on the Secret of the Stole, but I had to redo the first row of the fourth clue three times. Three times!!! I was almost in tears. I never get like that about knitting.

Anyway, the crankiness continued for awhile (a few too many people cut me off on the way to work) but I had some comfort food for dinner and I've gotten my homework done, so I can look at wool and craft blogs until closing. I also just realized that I have one more row on my second Clessidra and then I can do the heel. Then it's just the foot, which goes very quickly. I only have one class this week, and just one day of my internship, and then it's the holiday--that's something to be grateful for too.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Christmas Presents for Leo

I've been in a little bit of a knitting funk lately. It seemed like things weren't coming out right, or I had to redo everything several times (the hat and booties below are two examples), and I miss knitting with my knitting friends (although I love knitting with my mom and her cross-stitching).

This weekend, although not without some knitting frustration, produced these:

Reindeer hat, from the Yankee Knitter Designs "Pattern Hats"

Size: Children's

Yarn: KnitPicks Swish Superwash Worsted, 2 balls Baby Blue and 1 ball Deep Ocean (Baby Blue was leftover from the sweater, see below)

Source: KnitPicks

Needles: Inox 16" circular, US Size 5

Modifications: I knit the hat in the round instead of flat (subtracting two stitches from the cast-on number, since there would be no seam); I "redesigned" (didn't pay attention to) certain parts of the chart; I did parts in duplicate stitch instead of fair isle; I changed the decreases for the crown; I only did one row of single stitches above the reindeer instead of up to the crown. I also knit the entire thing on size 5 needles instead of switching to size 7 after the hem.

I'm still not thrilled with it because I'm a perfectionist and colorwork almost always has some issues (especially when knit by me). I just need more practice, and I think the hat turned out pretty good (and I won't have to look at it every day so it won't annoy me as much).

Child's Monogram Sweater from Hollywood Knits Style

Size: 4 years (and it came out smaller than I expected; I love Suss Cousins' patterns but I have yet to knit one without any issues--just a warning if you are not in the mood to play around with gauge and other aspects of the pattern)

Yarn: KnitPicks Swish Superwash Worsted, 4 balls (maybe 3) Baby Blue

Source: KnitPicks

Needles: Brittany Birch straight US Size 7, Crystal Palace Bamboo straight US Size 5

Modifications: I did a three-needle bind-off to attach the shoulders instead of seaming; I also made little adjustments here and there that I can't remember. As I said, her patterns are very cool and inspiring, but I always swatch and prepare to fiddle with the pattern (I even write in the book, something I don't usually do).

(I embroidered the "L" by hand. I photocopied and enlarged the letter from the alphabet provided with the pattern, traced it onto tracing paper, added interfacing to the back of the sweater for stability, used the satin stitch (a tutorial can be found here) and just stitched right over the tracing paper. After you stitch, you can just tear away the excess tracing paper. It helps to keep the tracing paper in place with an embroidery hoop. I am shocked at how easy it was and how good it came out).

Fat Baby Booties by Beverly Galeskas, from Interweave Felt

Size: Infant/Newborn. I originally made the toddler size, but after felting they were very large. If you substitute yarn like I did you might want to make a test swatch.

Yarn: Dalegarn Tiur, 1 ball green and 1 ball gold (when I made the toddler size, I just barely got away with one ball of each color with Dalegarn Heilo--there was just a yard or two of the main color left)

Source: The store closing sale at The Yarn and Fiber Shop two years ago

Needles: Susan Bates 24" circular needle, US Size 9; Susan Bates 16" circular needle, US size 8; Susan Bates 16" circular needle, US Size 10.5 (standing in as the bind off needle for a 10.5 DPN)

Modifications: On the first pair (which I will post pictures of soon) I didn't read all of the directions. The second time around I followed everything except the second bootie got turned inside out (before a really crucial point) and I didn't notice until the last step. I felted it anyway. It's on the bottom and not really noticeable--I love felting.

I finished the third clue for the Secret of the Stole KAL. I think they are on clue 6 now. Boo. Although I will have almost two free weeks before Christmas when school and work are done, to work on it; I guess I shouldn't stress about it.

Thanksgiving is almost here! I can't wait to make my pies from scratch, to curl up in front of a roaring fire, to sit and watch the Macy's parade with my knitting...

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Good Things

I sent these off yesterday to afghans for Afghans:

The green vest is made of Brown Sheep's Nature Spun Worsted, and the pattern is the Child's Vest from Knitting for Peace. There are also two pairs of socks, a child's and an adult's, knit from locally raised and spun worsted weight wool. The pattern is Classic Socks from the Yankee Knitter.
This is an excellent organization and a very worthy cause. Their current campaign is for newborns (please click on the link above for details). It's nearly the season of thankfulness and giving, and it always makes me so grateful for everything I have that I want to give to others. I'm even considering a new take on donating to charities as gifts for others: knitting something for charity, taking a picture, and donating it to an organization in the name of someone I would otherwise buy a gift for. Then I could tuck the picture of the item into a card telling them that I made this donation in their name. If you are interested in charity knitting, check out Knitting for Peace. It's an amazing book full of information and patterns.


Thrum Mittens Kit from Fleece Artist
Yarn: Fleece Artist Blue Face Aran and Merino Sliver roving
Needles: Brittany Birch US size 4 DPNs
Pattern: on the label!
Modifications: None

I have gotten more done, but it will have to wait (a birthday present for a friend!) Check out my tutorial (the previous entry) for making your own suede slipper soles for felted slippers! They make great presents!

Tutorial: Suede Slipper Bottoms

I made these suede slipper bottoms for the felted slippers I made for my grandmother's birthday. I saw similar ones in a yarn store for $9.00. If you're careful when placing the templates on the suede sheet, you can get two pairs of adult slipper soles and one pair of children's slipper soles from just one sheet (which costs about $8.00).

You will need:
  • A sheet of suede, about 8" x 10" (see above for how many slipper soles this yields)
  • A sheet of paper
  • Pencil
  • Measuring tape
  • Permanent marker
  • Scissors
  • A leather hole punch with a 2mm punch, like this one:

It actually has six different hole diameters and the tag said that it will punch through leather, vinyl, and plastic, so it's a pretty useful tool.

First, decide what type of sole you would like. Here I chose to do two sections, one for the sole and one for the heel. You could also make one large sole for the entire foot.

I measured the widest part of the top part of the slipper sole and the length from the toe to about halfway down the foot. I put these measurements onto scrap paper as shown above, centering the length measurement in the middle of the width measurement. Since the widest part of the foot was closer to the top than in the middle, I did not center the width. Then I sketched an oval around these measurements. It took a few tries to get the right shape. I took the same measurements for the heel part, but since it is smaller the width is almost centered on the length line. If you are making one large sole, use these same measurements, extending them the entire length of the foot and taking at least three different width measurements at the sole, arch, and heel. Cut out your paper templates.

Place the templates on the suede sheet, and carefully trace around them with the permanent marker. Pay close attention to your placement if you are trying to get as many soles as possible out of the sheet. Cut out two of each template.

Using the permanent marker, mark spots for the holes 1/4" apart all the way around the edge of the sole, keeping as close to the edge without breaking through. Do this on the side of the sole that was traced with permanent marker, as you can sew that side to the bottom of the slipper and it won't be seen.

(I realize that my measuring tape isn't quite on the dots at 1/4" intervals, but I assure you I drew them 1/4" apart. I must have moved the tape when I went to take the picture).

Then take your hole punch and use your marks as guidance to punch holes all the way around the edge of the sole. Now you have neat little holes to sew the sole to your slipper!
The hole punching can be hard on your hands, so do a few at a time and then take a break. Also, don't stress out about the way that they look. They will be on the bottom of the slippers, after all!
Please don't hesitate to comment if you have questions or concerns, or email me at

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Good, the Bad, and the Seed Stitch

I missed the trick-or-treaters today. (New Hampshire only has two or three places that have daytime trick-or-treating the Sunday before Halloween, and of course the sprawling metropolis of Manchester is one of them). I promised myself that when I quit the yarn store I would never work another Sunday, for many reasons, one being the trick-or-treaters. But here I am (in my new shirt that says "Spooktacular," courtesy of my mom). I love Halloween.
I'm also sick. The cold has morphed into this skull-crushing-scraped-raw-throat-achy-ears sickness that no cold medicine has an effect. Aspirin is about the best I can do. I don't really talk anymore, I just croak. (Maybe a good excuse to skip Evaluation class tomorrow...we'll see how I feel in the morning).
So, being sick this weekend, I didn't get much done. I was going to clean my room (seriously), finish up a couple of knitting projects and try a new technique for colorwork. Instead I slept a lot. I love naps but I don't take them very often; I really need my sleep so I always try to get seven or eight hours a night, and I save naps for special occasions. I know that sounds weird, but I actually have good memories of special naps. I also have to be careful with naps because sometimes I wake up cranky instead of refreshed. But since this cold hit me I've been exhausted, plus some of the cold medicine made me nauseous, so I just slept a lot. You know you're tired when you start falling asleep over your knitting.
Anyway, Friday was a great day. Susan came down and we went to Fabric Fix, where I got some great herringbone fabric (for a roll-up needle case or a bag) and some excellent vintage-y ribbon. Then we had lunch at Jewell and the Beanstalk, which is as adorable as ever and the food is great too. I'm going to try to study there sometime. It has to be less distracting than my house (with all the yarn beckoning) and the library (books! books! books!). Afterward we went to the Yarn and Fiber Company, where a ball of Sereknity sock yarn caught my eye and demanded I give it a good home. They will be a pair of Jaywalkers, although I'm tempted to try another design. I have two in the works for socks and another for a scarf. We ended the night with knitting and Gilmore Girls and some wine. Perfect.
I did manage to finish the second clue for the Secret of the Stole this morning before work, and I have been working on another project. When I first saw the Bird Seed Scarf I thought, that is beautiful and such a good idea. Too bad I don't have yarn like that in my stash. But then I went to see Trina at The Elegant Ewe and had some yarn to return, which gave me a credit, and the next thing you know I suckered myself into 60" of seed stitch. I love the way it looks but man is it a pain. Luckily I'm almost done. Pictures soon, I promise. I also finished the Thrummed Mittens.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

What a Feeling

I apologize for the sideways picture. I was uploading these just before I left for work and didn't have time to rotate it (actually, I didn't have time to figure out how to save the rotated picture in stupid Windows Vista). I knit these hats for an auction to raise money for my aunt's church. One skein each of Lion Brand Thick'n'Quick in lime green and light blue. The pattern is Elf Hats from Handknit Holidays, the earflap version (I would like to warn you that the earflap version is not nearly as pointy as the other one. It's not very clear from the pictures in the book; I like how they came out but I was expecting them to be pointier). The green one is size 2-4 years, the blue one is child's large/adult small.
I feel compelled to share with you my interesting improvisation (partly because I giggled at myself while doing it and kind of wished there was another knitter around to laugh at me). I didn't have size 15 DPNs (the closest was 11) so when the stitches were too tight around the circular needle I would knit off a few stitches on a size 15 straight and transfer them back to the circular needle. Kind of tricky and not recommended, but each hat only took me one hour (maybe another half hour for the pom poms and braids) and the yarn was very thick so it worked out.

Also completed:

Super Easy Legwarmers from Last Minute Knitted Gifts (the inspiration behind the Purl Bee)
Yarn: 1.75 balls Cascade 220 in a denim blue (I cut it really close and scrounged the remainder of the yarn from the first legwarmer and what was left from the dog sweater for the second legwarmer), 1 ball Doceur et Soie in light blue and 1 ball Madil Kid Seta in light blue (those last two are the same type of yarn; I used one for each legwarmer. There is a very slight color difference but it's not really noticeable knit up with the Cascade 220. I have the first printing of LMKG and there are some mistakes, such as recommending one ball each of Cascade 220 and Madil Kid Seta)

Source: Patternworks and The Woolery

Needles: Addi Turbo 12" circular US Size 8

Modifications: None
Legwarmers are great. This was reinforced when my mom and I watched Flashdance on Friday.

There has been more knitting going on, lots more. Unfortunately I was also added to Ravelry this week and I have three big assignments coming up (although Ravelry took preference) and this is all I have completed. I am on the second clue for the Secret of the Stole, which is pretty good considering the third one only came out this past week. I spent Friday afternoon with the lovely ladies at the Yarn and Fiber Company, and managed to get through a large chunk. I also realized I made a (large) mistake which I refuse to rip out and I am now claiming is a design alteration. A skein of Dream in Color Smooshy sock yarn in Beach Fog followed me home from the store.

I'm going to try my hand at designing a pair of socks. I have a skein of Spirit Trail sock yarn that looks like fall (November, since the colors are gorgeous but muted) and none of the patterns I've looked at seem to fit.

Lastly, Susan and I are getting together this week to knit and buy yarn! Woot!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Getting Better All the Time

So I've officially survived the first six weeks of graduate school. I think I read somewhere that if you make it through six weeks of anything you're likely to make through the whole thing, but I could be making that up. I've adapted to a new way of life; different from the way I've been living for the past three years, but not definitely not bad. I still miss certain aspects of my college life, most of them people, but I realized this morning that I'm really happy with my new life (well, I could probably deal without the term papers).

Living at home again is turning out to be great. I miss living with my close friends, but my mom and I have been getting closer and closer since my sophomore year of college, and now we're much tighter than I would have thought possible when I was in high school. I feel a little guilty, since these past few weeks she's put up with a lot of whining and complaining from me. I like to think that she feels like she can whine and complain to me too though.

I am such a homebody. I love my house and spending time with my family, which is something I made a priority even when I was at school. The nice thing is now I don't have to pack up at the end of the weekend and drive back to school. I'm finally starting to get organized in my room, and I found the Landscape Shawl (good thing, it's getting very chilly!)

School is still stressful, for a number of reasons, but luckily I have great friends and family to support me (special thanks to Susan and her bolstering e-mails and Bethie for the Wednesday night phone calls). It will be all right, and if it isn't, it's only for a year. I am finally starting to feel like it's getting better, and my knitting and other crafts have been a constant source of comfort.

Things I'm currently appreciating about living at home: fires in the fireplace, crafting and excursions with my mom, good wine, homemade beef barley soup (waiting for me when I get home from work), the cat sleeping on my feet, baking bread, the hammock in the backyard, cornstalks on our lamp post.

I'm also thankful that the special issue of Interweave Gifts is coming out this week, because I still have a few gifts to figure out!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Secrets and Sheep

My swatch for the Secret of the Stole Knit-a-long. I finally managed to get the needles today (even though Pearl's was technically closed, she sold them to me anyway), I picked up my beads yesterday, my yarn is wound. I'm ready to rock and roll.

I promised I would show you what I bought from the Wool Tour this weekend. I was a little nervous, because I brought my mom, grandmother, and my mom's friend (who all appreciate the fiber arts but aren't necessarily obsessed), and I thought I would take too long and they wouldn't have a good time, but we had a blast. One stop is a farm, and they loved that place. We bought pumpkins and gourds, and my mom bought currant jelly (for this amazing jelly and mustard sauce for cocktail wieners, and currant jelly is ridiculously hard to find at the grocery store) and sheep earrings for me from this great place that houses animals nobody wants anymore. My mom also bought a t-shirt that says "Stitch more, bitch less" (she's a cross-stitcher). My mom is awesome.

The dark roving is a wool and llama mix from Riverslea Farm in Epping, NH. (Blogger is being weird and won't let me add the link, Google it and you'll find the site). They had some beautiful colorways as well, and I love that they display their balls of roving in hammocks.
I'm not sure where the lower two balls are from (it was from the Mirage Alpacas stop in Washington), but they are a blend of wool, llama, alpaca, and mohair. I wish I could remember the name, because her prices were excellent. I have the Wool Tour guide still so I can look it up later.

I apologize for the pictures being so dark but it was rainy yesterday and so there wasn't much natural light. Hopefully they will spin or felt up beautifully and I can take better pictures then.

The two balls are from Brimstone Hollow in Hancock, NH. They were at the Sheep and Wool Festival this year so I'm hoping they are there this spring as well. I cannot put into words how much I love their colorways, and their prices are also excellent. Also, this is from a sheep named "Zachariah" which I thought was funny because my brother's name is Zachary. The two braids of wool (how much do you love that?) are from the Dana Basket Co. and the colorway is called "Mossy Oak."

Believe it or not, I didn't buy any yarn. I'm trying to only buy yarn that I have a pattern for, and right now I'm pretty backed up on projects. So now I just have to varnish my spinning wheel and have my dad tune it up again so I can spin (like it's that easy).

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Rough Week

I really just wanted to hide under the covers all week with the cat.*

But I didn't. I sucked it up, I was a big girl, and I made it through. It was a week of three assignments due for school and the final week at one of my jobs. I quit the job because it was making me crazy--I literally developed a twitch in my left jaw, and another one above my right eye. It was really interesting. I was averaging five hours of sleep a night, plus whatever I could grab on the bus. I was always in a bad mood and hating everything, including school, which is part of the reason I took the job in the first place. I was almost in tears about stupid little things, and even though it was killing me, I felt really guilty about quitting this job that I didn't even like.

Luckily, those feelings of guilt have passed. (Thanks in part to the Wool Tour, which was amazing.)

Also luckily, I have been finishing things (I received my yarn for the Secret of the Stole, and I swatched, but I have to pick up beads and needles tomorrow). Tomorrow I will post pictures of the yarn and swatch, and also all the yarn I bought on the Wool Tour, but first, some (finally) FOs:

Never Wimpy Wimple, from Lace Style (A Christmas present for my mom)
Yarn: KnitPicks Shadow in Vineyard Heather, 1 ball (the pattern calls for two, and I only had a little left, so I would recommend you buy two if you are using this yarn--especially because it's mail order. I have more than enough to make a nice lacey fall scarf for myself with the other ball since it has such great yardage)
Source: KnitPicks
Needles: Inox 16" circular, US Size 2
Modifications: (giant dramatic sigh) I knit this entire thing twice. Yes, twice, and it is on size 2 needles. At first I thought I was getting a larger gauge (and honestly, I was getting a little sick of knitting the bottom edging) so I cut it a little short and it turned out too small. So I knit it twice. On size 2 needles. (What can I say? It was my fault for playing fast and loose with gauge the first time, and I love my mother and I didn't want her to have to cram her head into the thing. It would mess up her hair and she doesn't like that).

Flame Wave Socks from Favorite Socks
The stitch pattern is a little hard to see (even in person) but it's still cool.
Yarn: Cascade Fixation, green stripe (not the official color name), 2 balls (I never would have believed it. Those balls are smaller than my clenched fist, but they pack a lot of yarn).
Source: The Elegant Ewe
Needles: Susan Bates Aluminum (I think) DPNs, US Sizes 5 and 4
Modifications: None
For some reason these socks took me nearly four months to knit. I started them in June, a month after I'd picked up Favorite Socks and drooled over it enough to realize I had Cascade Fixation in my stash. Another bonus was that the yarn is mostly cotton (a really soft pima cotton), and it was basically the only kind of knitting I wanted to touch when I was sweating through the summer. It wasn't too light-colored, so I didn't have to worry about getting it dirty, it was small and portable, and (I'm a little ashamed to admit this and now I really don't understand it at all) I didn't really care about them all that much, so if anything happened to them I wouldn't be that upset. I really loved the yarn and the way they looked, but it took me awhile to fix the pattern in my head. I also had to redo the foot of the first one (I decreased too many stitches; the pattern didn't specify the separate needle stitch counts and my math skills are awful, apparently).
I pulled them out from time to time, but it seemed to take awhile for me to make any progress. So when I finished the first one awhile ago, I was happy but I wasn't thrilled to start the second one. Now, I do not get Second Sock Syndrome. For me, the second sock usually seems to go so much faster that I am really happy to get to it. The issue is casting on the second one right away (which can be really tricky, when my first inclination is just to put on the first one and dance around or wave it in people's faces). But when I do, it's that much easier to keep my momentum going, and I'm more likely to bring it with me places because the tricky casting-on business is done.
I did cast on right away for the second one of these, and I knit four rows, and promptly dropped it in favor of other more exciting knitting (I'll show you one of these very soon). Oh well. At least I did come back. (I'm very loyal. And stubborn).

(Don't mind the weird face. I swear I wasn't trying to be cool or anything, I just had to bend at an awkward angle to make it more of a head shot and then I realized the picture was being taken).
I was looking at Amy's blog and she posted a link to this pattern, which I just fell in love with. (I just realized you can't really see the stitch pattern in my picture so you probably want to click the link. I assure you, mine looks like that). I also happened to have two skeins of Blue Sky Alpacas' delicious Organic Cotton (man I miss working at the yarn store sometimes--I don't get fabulous yarn cheap anymore...) that are two slightly different dye lots, enough that I can't use them together. I had already decided to make one of the cabled scarfs from One Skein with one of them, and I was trying to find a hat to go with it when I found this. I used a size J Clover crochet hook (I didn't have a K, at least not in my Clovers, and I am obsessed with them) and it took my whole ball. I finished it in two nights while watching Dancing with the Stars with my mom. I might have been able to finish it in one, but I messed up and had to rip back. Also, since the ball I was using had been destined for another project that I frogged, the ball was in pieces and I had a lot of ends to weave in. Oh well. It was fun and very quick, and I know I'm a hat person and really enamoured with crochet right now, but I highly recommend it (if you're not a hat person, it's a great gift--very quick).

Wow, this has turned into quite an epic entry. Anyway, more tomorrow about the Secret of the Stole and the Wool Tour. Hope everyone has tomorrow off and has a good day. :)

*He got under the covers of his own accord. One of his favorite games is jump on the bed while my mom is changing the sheets and dive under the covers. Then he rolls around and attacks from under the sheets and purrs like mad. He is a strange cat.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Somebody Stop Me

I just signed up for the Secret of the Stole group. Every Friday, from October 4th to November 23rd, a new part of the pattern is sent to you, but you don't get to see the entire pattern at once or the finished stole. It's a secret...get it? I was green with envy when everyone and their brother was knitting the Mystery Stole 3 so I decided I have to do this. Plus the idea behind this is that you have a nice shawl to wear on Christmas and New Year's Eve. Plus I have just about all of my Christmas knitting done. And the yarn I picked isn't that expensive (and it's alpaca. We know how much I love alpaca). And I love stoles. They're my favorite (along with socks and hats and scarves...) And work sucks. And school is hard (okay, the learning part is cool. Trying not to roll my eyes at most of my classmates is hard). And except for the fact that I'm now just piling yarn in my room and there is very little walking space (highly overrated, in my opinion--I'll just roll around on the yarn piles), this project doesn't need much justification. But there it is, just in case. (Just in case the yarn police come by?)

I guess my way of dealing with the stress from school and work is to start more knitting projects, despite the non-existence of any free time whatsoever, which is going to shrink even more this week when I start my internship. Sigh.

Who cares? I'm getting a fancy magical mysterious stole!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Back to School

My birthday presents from Bethie! She also gave me One-Skein Wonders, which is where the pattern is from.

The Back-to-School U-neck Vest from Fitted Knits:

Yarn: Cascade 220 Quattro, 3 Skeins, pink/purple/green mix
Source: The Elegant Ewe
Needles: Inox 24" circular, US Size 7, and Inox 16" circular, US Size 5 (Inox are great needles--they're the same price as Susan Bates but the joins and needle tips are smoother and the cable has less memory so it doesn't coil as much)
Modifications: I followed the 42" bust size directions, but knit the lengths for the larger sizes

I saw the pattern in Fitted Knits (which is currently my favorite knitting book) and just fell in love. Also, Stefanie Japel must know me and must know that I would fall for the back-to-school rhetoric about impressing professors and fall days. And, after all, it is my last back to school (well, as a student. Since I hope to be an academic librarian/archivist, there will hopefully be many back-to-schools for the students).

Detail of the waffle stitch and the clever bust increases:

(This picture is truer to the real color, but neither one gets it quite right)

And, voila: Chanson en crochet

Just when you thought I had forgotten about it. You know what's silly? I finished this about three months ago and I was nervous it wouldn't lay right on my shoulders or that I hadn't done it correctly, so I just put it in a bag and left it. I decide to pull it out and try it on the other day, and it's fine. It's more than fine. So I just wove in the ends and attached the blingin' brooch I got at the thrift store (I was worried it would be too blingin' but I think it's just right).

Pattern: Chanson en crochet, from Wrap Style
Yarn: Tahki New Tweed, four balls light green
Source: Patternworks (on sale!)
Hook: Clover (I don't remember what size, but those Clover hooks rock my socks off)
Modifications: Who knows. There are always some modifications because I have this inability to follow a crochet pattern correctly but I don't remember. I just kind of make it up as I go along if I run into problems (or rip it out and redo it repeatedly)

Next up: Clessidra from Knitty

Sunday, August 19, 2007

It's Hip to Be Square

I finished one sock for my aunt's birthday in November. The pattern is Merino Lace from Favorite Socks and the yarn is KnitPicks Essential.
Next up is my mom's lace wimple, from Lace Style.

I have to say I am addicted to granny squares. I inherited this yarn (old school original '70s acrylic in green, gold, and light yellow) and a few completed granny squares from my aunt Nancy (not the same aunt who is getting the socks) a couple of years ago. I wasn't as good a crocheter then and I had a hard time figuring out the construction of the granny square. This was before the publication of Cozy Crochet and The Happy Hooker, my two favorite crochet books, and also before The Purl Bee was invented. Friday night I sat down to work it out, and thanks to this great tutorial from The Purl Bee I finally got the hang of it and I am in love. Also, miraculously, my squares match the ones that were already completed, and I now have a stack of fifteen squares (I told you I was addicted. Plus crocheting is much faster than knitting). I think I need somewhere in the ballpark of 39 squares, but I could be pulling a random number out of nowhere. I also have to figure out how to attach them (just sewing them together seems kind of boring to me.
In other news, this is my last week in Plymouth working at the library. We just moved all my stuff out of the apartment today (my family members were really not impressed with the amount of yarn I have accumulated). Classes start in two weeks at Simmons (my mom, grandma and I went down to visit on Friday, which was fun, but I am really glad I'm not living in the city), and I start work at Northeastern that week too. I have reference librarian training at Daniel Webster College on Friday. It's exciting but I will miss the people and places of Plymouth.
Also, with four graduate classes, two jobs, and an internship, when I am supposed to knit?