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.