Sunday, September 04, 2011

On Sweaters

One of my most recent, non-secret, non-swap* finished objects was simultaneously a test knit for a Rav friend and a first birthday present for a local friend (well, technically the daughter of two local friends, but that's semantics). The pattern is the Daisy May Cardigan and it's adorable. It's even more adorable when modeled by its recipient at her very first birthday party:
Coco's Sweater

I made it a little bit big so that Coco could wear it in a few months when it actually starts to cool down around here!
Coco's Sweater

I also finished it at the very last minute and was embarrassingly late to the party, but luckily Coco won't remember that part. ;) That's why it's not blocked--there wasn't time!

I think my favorite part is the buttons. I've yet to find a good local button supplier, but shortly before this party I was at a meeting in Padua, Italy. The meeting ended Friday, but I didn't leave town until Saturday afternoon. On Saturday morning there was a market in the park across from my hotel, so I wandered around and, lo and behold, found a stall selling fabric, yarn (of course I got some, the Cable 4 yarn you can see in this post), and buttons, including these which I knew would be perfect:
Coco's Sweater

A successful endeavor, all around! Details on the Rav project page here.

And now I've decided I should graduate from baby sweaters to the big kid version. I started a March Basic for myself years ago but got terribly bored with the miles and miles of stockinette so it has sat untouched for a long time. I know I could finish it, but I don't particularly want to, and I really don't want to do all the seaming. But a few weeks ago I tried on a fellow knitter's recently completed Vitamin D and, according to her, it was very flattering on me. I'm headed to my first fiber festival in about a month and a half, and I'll be very pleased if I can attend wearing a sweater I made myself, so I'm going to give it a shot. Again, miles of (mostly) stockinette, but at least it's all knit in once piece! I'm going to order the yarn this week...I'll keep you updated!

*Swaps have consumed my recent crafting time, in a (mostly) good way. I should blog about those, shouldn't I? Hmm...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Summer Travel

Ohai blog! I've missed you! This summer has been crazy, in the best possible way. Summer is the traditional time for travel in academia, and I definitely kept with tradition. Two observing runs, one conference, and some personal travel as well. What does a knitter do when traveling? Find the LYSs, of course!

First trip was an observing run to Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile:
CTIO May 2011
On my way out of the country, I had an eight hour layover in Santiago. One bus and one metro ride later, I arrived at Pueblito los Dominicos, a sort of artist co-op space where I snagged some lovely yarns:
Chilean Yarn!

Chilean Yarn!

I also picked up some more commercial Chilean yarn at a grocery store(!) in La Serena:
Chilean Yarn!

Next up, an observing run at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona:
Kitt Peak

One of my sweet Ravelry friends, who is also an indie dyer, lives nearby and drove over to meet me, and brought along with her my very first purchase of Gherkin's Bucket yarn:

My First Gherkin's Bucket Yarn!
It's scrumptious!

After that, a trip to bella Italia for a meeting in Padua. I had to fly into Venice, so I snuck in a yarn store trip while I was there. The store, Lellabella, was fantastic. Small but packed with great Italian yarns!
Venice Yarn!

Lastly, a family gathering in Pennsylvania to celebrate my granddad's life. I drove home with my mama and we stopped in Knoxville, TN, to visit a good friend and (of course!) hit up an LYS, where I got some Miss Babs, my first, which is dyed in (semi-)nearby Mountain City, TN:
Gemini II
The colorway is Gemini II, and I like to think that it's named after the NASA mission.

All in all an excellent, if exhausting, summer. Now I'm back home for awhile, settling back in, sleeping in my own bed, and not buying any more yarn because I'm set for awhile (ahahahahaha!). (In all fairness, I didn't keep all of the yarn--a lot of it was thank you yarn for rides to and from the airport, but still...)

How was your summer?

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Your Knitting and Crochet Time - 2KCBWDAY7


Write about your typical crafting time. When it is that you are likely to craft – alone or in more social environments, when watching TV or whilst taking bus journeys?

I have a few typical crafting times. First, on the bus to and from school. "On the bus route" was one of my top requirements for choosing an apartment, and it's a great time to knit. Not only does it turn my commute into a productive time (it's usually too bumpy to read or do work) but it also tends to scare away other commuters, so I often get a seat to myself. Yes!

The second crafting time has a few facets, and it is "sitting in front of a screen" time. Facet #1: Watching TV or a movie at home by myself. I have a few must-watch shows (Big Bang Theory, Castle, Doctor Who) and often catch others, either new or in reruns, and this is a great time to knit. Certainly good for brainless knits, and also good for slightly more involved projects, e.g. anything for which I need to look at the pattern/chart. Very productive knitting time! Facet #2: At the movies! Yep, I'm a movie theatre knitter. Projects must be very carefully chosen for this. Requirements include thick yarn (worsted is ideal), big needles, and a completely brainless pattern. Light-colored yarn is also a plus. For the sake of the other movie-goers, I try to use wooden or bamboo needles because they make less noise. Facet #3: Watching TV or movies with friends. We often get together to watch movies or sporting events, and since most of my friends are also knitters, we definitely break out the WIPs!

Speaking of sporting events, I knit at those, too.
(Kyle Field, Texas A&M)
I have two special scarves specifically for sporting events, one for Texas A&M and one for LSU that are made of custom-dyed yarn in the school colors. They are good luck!

Where's your favorite place to knit?

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Something to Aspire To - 2KCBWDAY6


Is there a pattern or skill that you don’t yet feel ready to tackle but which you hope to (or think you can only dream of) tackling in the future, near or distant? Is there a skill or project that makes your mind boggle at the sheer time, dedication and mastery of the craft? 

Well, there's nothing that I don't feel I'm ready to tackle, but there are a few things that I don't particularly want to tackle now, although I'd like to try 'em in the future. Does that sentence make any sense at all? For example, Fair Isle/Stranded Knitting. If someone said "I'll give you $200 if you knit me a Fair Isle headband," I'd be all over it. I know that physically I can do it. But is it something I particularly want to do? Eh, I could go either way. I actually do have a FI headband picked out that I'd like to make (this one), and I think I even know which yarn I want to use (yay stash diving!), but do I really want to extend that much brainpower on knitting? Not right now.

For posterity, a list of skills I'd like to learn/things I'd like to accomplish, knitting-wise, at some point in the future:
*Fair Isle/Stranded Knitting
*Large scale Intarsia (I've only done small scale before)
*Finish a sweater for myself!
*Complicated lace shawl made out of laceweight yarn (e.g. the Swallowtail)

Seeing as how I'm entering into my dissertation writing year (that is freaking scary just to write, FYI), I don't see myself picking up a lot of new knitting skills any time soon, but who knows!

Friday, April 01, 2011

And now for something completely different! - 2KCBWDAY5


This is an experimental blogging day to try and push your creativity in blogging to the same level that you perhaps push your creativity in the items you create. There are no rules of a topic to blog about (though some suggestions are given below) but this post should look at a different way to present content on your blog.

A day in the life of a WIP, specifically, an Adipose.

"First it took her days to attach my hands and feet, and then she just stuck me in this bowl to sit here. It's been weeks now! Will she ever sew on my eyes and mouth? Doubtful! She'll probably wait until the night before she has to mail her swap package to *finally* finish me up. Geez!"

"If she doesn't finish me soon, I'm going to jump out of this tree and splat all over the pavement. That'll show her!"

Don't worry, I rescued him (her? it?) before he jumped. But he still doesn't have eyes or a mouth. Hmm...

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Where are they now? - 2KCBWDAY4


Whatever happened to your __________? Write about the fate of a past knitting project. Whether it be something that you crocheted or knitted for yourself or to give to another person. An item that lives with you or something which you sent off to charity.

Ooh, this is challenging. I could talk about some of the duds I've made, but I don't have pictures of most of those. For example, I made a Brea Bag for a good friend, B, and it turned out awful. I was going on a trip to visit B (and her sister A) and attend a conference, and I made a clutch for A, but didn't finish B's bag, so I brought it with me and finished it while I was there. Point of that ridiculous sentence is that I couldn't not give it to B when it was finished, because she'd seen it in progress, and her sister got a handknit as well. If it had been a one-off present for someone else that they hadn't seen beforehand, I would have frogged it and made something completely different. It's such a cute pattern, but my yarn choice wasn't great and I couldn't find a perfect handle, so I knit one, which was a bad idea. I have no idea where that bag is now, but hopefully it's not being seen regularly.

Or I could talk about shawls. I love shawls. They're beautiful, and a wonderful chance to use some of my fancy sock yarn. I've made some that turned out wonderful:

Moss & Ferns Shawl
The Good Doctor

Rosalie Multnomah
Rosalie Multnomah

Problem is, I almost never wear them. Oops. It's really only cold enough for wraps for a few months per year, and even then I feel awkward in them. I usually wear 'em bandanna style, with the point in the front and the ends wrapped around back and then tucked under the point. I can't do the "over the shoulders" look at all, not without feeling like a grandmother. But, since they are lovely, I have them on display in the apartment year-round, along with all my scarves.

What gets worn most often? The basics. My charcoal gray alpaca Odessa, black alpaca Multi-Directional Scarf, off-white wool scarf, and most of my blue socks. Both of my Clapotis scarves (purple and navy) get worn all the time. They are my default vacation scarves, because they can double as wraps if I'm cold and don't care about looking like a grandmother. My Sleekit Mitts live in my backpack and get worn in my cold office. As much as I love to buy and knit with bright colors, it's the sedate ones that get worn most often. Interesting!

One thing I love very much is when folks who have received non-dud handknits from me send photos of the items in use. This is especially great for baby knits, because pictures that include handknits and wee humans are the best!

I could go on more, but I am almost finished with my big swap project, and I'd love to finish it up this evening!  It will, I hope, be worn often by its recipient.

What handknit do you use most often?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tidy Mind, Tidy Stitches - 2KCBWDAY3


How do you keep your yarn wrangling organised? It seems like an easy to answer question at first, but in fact organisation exists on many levels. Maybe you are truly not organised at all, in which case I am personally daring you to try and photograph your stash in whatever locations you can find the individual skeins. However, if you are organised, blog about an aspect of that organisation process, whether that be a particularly neat and tidy knitting bag, a decorative display of your crochet hooks, your organised stash or your project and stash pages on Ravelry.

For as much of an organization nut as I am, my yarn wrangling is not nearly as organized as it could/should be. Most of my stash is stored in the office closet in bins: wool & wool blends, cotton & cotton blends, nice synthetics, less nice synthetics (I should just give that whole box away 'cause I'm never going to knit it up), and two small bins of fancy sock yarn. The super fancy sock yarn (Fresh From the Cauldron, Sunshine, Knitting Asylum, etc.) lives in a basket on display in the living room, so it can be admired as it waits its turn to be knit up. (I feel like this is a trick to get knitters worldwide to tell where their stash is, so that scores of yarn burglars can make a bunch of efficient hits in the upcoming weeks.) I go through my stash about once per year to see if that organization system still makes sense and remind myself of what I have. I'd love to add another level or two to the system (yarn weight, color, washability, etc.), but I can't quite figure out a good way to implement that without buying some new bins or shelving, and I'd rather spend any extra money I have on yarn.

If I haven't raved about it enough so far this week, another great organizational tool is Ravelry. I am not dedicated enough to have input my entire stash (although I do keep a mostly-up-to-date spreadsheet of my stash for insurance purposes), but I have input most of my hand-dyed yarns and essentially all of my projects. Since projects are linked to their source patterns (if a pattern was used) and component yarns, it is relatively easy to look up details after the fact, especially things like the care instructions for the yarn. I also try to note any modifications that I made or things I would do differently in the project notes section so I have a reference for later. I think that if it weren't for Rav I would have one of those wonderful project journals with a page for each project, a sample of the yarn used, etc., but it's so much more useful to keep everything online. I have whipped out my phone many a time in a yarn store to check on something or other. (And I am very impatiently awaiting the launch of the Rav mobile site.)

The one "analog" organizing tool I have is a binder filled with most of the labels of yarns I have used. Again they are organized by fiber content, and provide a reference for information like care instructions when the Rav database is incomplete (or, Heaven forbid, down!). The plastic sheets that store the labels are actually designed for baseball cards, but are conveniently the perfect size for yarn labels as well. This is a crummy webcam shot from awhile ago, but you can get the idea:
There are a few yarns I have used so often (and which have big labels instead of small tags) that they have their own separate baggies: Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride & Cotton Fleece, Bernat Cotton Tots, and Caron Simply Soft.

So that's my organizational scheme. How do you keep your fiber crafting sorted?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Skill +1UP - 2KCBWDAY2

First of all, let's get this out of the way:
1UP! Yes!

Now on to the actual post.

Look back over your last year of projects and compare where you are in terms of skill and knowledge of your craft to this time last year. Have you learned any new skills or forms of knitting/crochet?

Answering this question would be very difficult without Ravelry's notebook feature. It's so great to have a record of (almost) all of my projects, and the ability to sort them by name, date, happiness level, etc. It's less great to be confronted with the fact that I haven't actually learned any significant new skills in the last year. Oops. I did learn a new way to do long tail cast-on that ensures you won't run out of yarn (video of the technique) which can be adapted into a super easy provisional cast on (video of that). I used the double-ball long tail for one of my current swap projects, which involved casting on 320 way I could have guesstimated the right amount of yarn for that.

The last significant skill I learned was how to do toe-up socks. Again, thank you Rav for letting me know I learned that in September of 2009, picked those socks back up again in September of 2010, and recently finished the first of the pair. Slow. I haz it.

Anastasia Socks

On the first sock I used DPNs to do Judy's Magic Cast-On. Big mistake! It took me about eight times to get past the first row, because it was so hard to knit into the cast-on row.  In December, I did JMCO with Magic Loop on the Kindle covers I made for Christmas and it was significantly easier!

(Pretend there is a picture of the first finished sock here. This morning when I drafted this post (during my new Writing Time, 8:00AM-8:30AM) I had grand plans to get home around 6:30PM and take advantage of DST to do a mini-photoshoot. It's raining, I haven't left the office yet, and I've had some last-minute evening plans materialize, so we're all going to use our imaginations.)

Now that I've freed up the one circ I have that can be used to Magic Loop socks by finishing my Alice's Charade socks, I can get right on to casting on the second Anastasia. After I finish my swap projects and all the knitting that I've promised to other people. Here's today's betting item: can I finish the second sock, and thus the entire pair, by September 2011?

I'm deciding not to beat myself up over not learning anything new in the past year. My research has done nothing but get more interesting and time-consuming, and is taking almost all of my brain power. So I'm churning out a lot of basic lace, easily-memorizable patterns, simple socks, etc. They may be simple, but they are nice, and the gifts (of which there have been many) are knit with love. That's what matters.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Tale of Two Yarns - 2KCBWDAY1


Part of any fibre enthusiast’s hobby is an appreciation of yarn. Choose two yarns that you have either used, are in your stash, or which you yearn after and capture what it is you love or loathe about them.

Yarn #1: Anything from Fresh From the Cauldron
Jen's yarns are stunning. The colors are striking, the yarn bases are wonderful, and the customer service from Jen is excellent. I'm so glad that I bought FFtC yarn in large quantities when I could, because it is pretty near impossible to come by now. That's why stashing is important, friends! Buy it while you can!
FFtC Stash

Yarn #2: Knit Picks Swish Worsted
This is an incredible workhorse yarn. It's soft, superwash, 100% wool, which makes it ideal for babies/kids. It comes in approximately 8 zillion colors, and it's very affordable. I particularly like to use it for blankets:

Pinwheel Blanket

Coco's Blanket

(Please feel free to take bets on whether I can keep this up for a full week. I'm trying to establish a "writing every day" habit for school, and I figured that starting with blogging every day for a week might be easier than starting with the hardcore science. We'll see!)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

FO: Alice's Charade

Another FO to share! (Yay for Daylight Savings Time and evening sun!)

Alice's Charade
Pattern: Charade by Sandra Park (Free on Rav)
Yarn: Fresh From the Cauldron's Alice Cullen
Ravelry Project Page

I love these socks, even though they took nearly a year(!) to finish. My first socks on Magic Loop. I like the technique on larger size needles, and it's okay for socks, but I think I still prefer DPNs. It's good to have at least one sock-size needle that's long enough for ML, though. It is much easier to do Judy's Magic Cast-On on ML than DPNs. (Trust me, I've tried both ways!)

Alice's Charade

I added two extra pattern repeats to these socks (for a total of 72 sts cast on) because my last Charade socks, knit exactly to the pattern, were a wee bit too small. They fit, but they are tight. These are much better, although I have the same problem I often have with socks, which is that if they are big enough to fit over my tall heels, they are too wide around my skinny chicken ankles. This pattern isn't stretchy enough to be snug around the ankles, so there is some bunching, but it's not too bad.

Alice's Charade

I knew that Alice (the fashion diva of the Cullen Clan, for those who aren't Twilight fans) required a bit of a fancy pattern, both based on the character and the colorway, but simultaneously one that wouldn't overwhelm the colors of the yarn. I think this was perfect for her!

I tried to pay homage to one of my favorite knit bloggers, Threadpanda, with a few pictures of these socks being modeled with black heels. Panda did it with her Alice socks (same yarn, different pattern), and they look splendid:

(photo by Threadpanda, used with permission)

I own a ridiculous amount of black heels, so I was sure I could make it work with at least one pair. Turns out no. One pair was kind of okay, but I couldn't get a good pic. I have a knitting friend coming to visit in a few weeks though, and maybe between the two of us we can make something work!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

FO: Weasley Ribbon

Remember the Lace Ribbon Scarf that I wasn't enjoying knitting? I will say that it got somewhat better after I memorized the pattern, but it was still never a thoroughly enjoyable knit. Now that it is finished, however, it is a thoroughly enjoyable FO!

Weasley Ribbon

I love it so much!

Weasley Ribbon
Rav Project Page

The colors are All Wrong For Spring, but I've been wearing it anyways. It's so nice when something turns out exactly as desired, isn't it?

In other news, I joined my first Odd Ducks Swap on Ravelry, themed around my latest obsession, Doctor Who. Expect some Who Knits in the next month or so, after I finish them and mail 'em off to my spoilee!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Very Kindle Christmas

I know I'm about a month and a half late, but I thought I would post my Christmas knitting projects, just for kicks. Normally, I don't do Christmas knitting on principle. Imposing another deadline during that time of year is bad for my stress levels. I prefer to knit stuff for people year-round and give it to them whenever it is finished. But this year, in mid-December, my brother decided to ask for a Kindle and to buy one for his girlfriend as well. Of course, he wanted hand-knit covers for both of them. Two weeks before Christmas. From someone who Doesn't Do Christmas Knitting. But I love my brother, so while we were on the phone, I started checking out what was available on Ravelry. There are some super-cute cabled patterns, some with lace, etc. Then he says that he wants his to match the color of the dark charcoal Kindle and have an Astros logo, while he wants Sara's to be navy blue with a yellow/gold Naval Academy logo on it (that's where she goes to school). Oh, okay!

I found another Kindle3 pattern and used it to get the dimensions, then I knit two plain stockinette covers, one in black (the closest color I had in my stash to that dark charcoal) and one in navy, both in Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride. I also had some red BSLP for the Astros logo, and I found some yellow Patons Canadiana in my stash which worked for the Academy logo, both of which I did in duplicate stitch after finishing the main knitting. All in all, I think they turned out okay! I finished them Christmas Eve and had 'em blocked and ready to go by Christmas afternoon...not too bad! My bro got his that day, and then he hand delivered Sara's on the 26th, when he went to visit her. Overall, success!

Alex's (Rav Project Page):
Kindle Cover for Alex

Kindle Cover for Alex

Sara's (Rav Project Page):
Kindle Cover for Sara

Kindle Cover for Sara

If I make more in the future, I would try to use another yarn besides the BSLP. It would be nice to use something machine-washable, because they do get carried all over the place, in airports and on planes and such, and because the little angora fibers can get stuck in the seam between the screen and and the plastic casing and have to be pulled out. Not a big hassle, but it could be avoided with a smoother yarn. I have vague plans to use my big Christmas present (a sewing machine!) to make fabric linings that will prevent this, but it hasn't happened yet. Someday!