Sunday, February 24, 2008

Mom's Lyra's Hat

After my mom saw my Lyra's hat, she wanted one too. However, she wanted one in red and black to make her coat. While I love those colors, I do not think anything can compete with the original. However, she is very happy with it, and confirms how ridiculously warm it is.

This is three strands of held together - one Brown Sheep Burly Spun in Prairie Fire (super bulky), two Nashua Creative Focus Chunky in black. I had my original hat to get the thickness of the yarn right, and it was actually tricky getting something that super-super-bulky together, especially in the colors she wanted. It was the Burly Spun that really saved the day. I think it was the last one the shop had, and it just happened to be the right color.

Mom is rather sensitive to wool, so she lined hers, I think with some sort of velour. I like the wooly feel, but since I'm not the one wearing it, or the one doing the sewing, I don't mind at all.

I didn't actually follow the pattern, but there are really only so many ways you can make a rectangle with a three needle bind off. Mine is a little smallish on the width of my head, so I made hers a little wider. I love the short row shaping on mine, and actually wish it had been pointer. I didn't think she wanted the pointy so much, so I toned it down on hers. It's still a little pointy, but not the smurf-like pointiness I'd like on mine. All in all, it's quite nice, but still not as nice as mine. But I'm not the one wearing it.

In Summary:
Pattern: Improvised Lyra's hat, see above
Yarn: Three strands held together - one Brown Sheep Burly Spun in Prairie Fire (100% wool, 132 yds), two Nashua Creative Focus Chunky in black (100% wool, 110 yds), lots left over of all
Needles: Size 19 (15.0 mm)
Time: Less than an hour
Cost: About $30 (after a discount, would probably cost at least $40 to make at full price)

Lyra's hat

If you have not seen the Golden Compass, do. You may not like the story line, (although there are fighting, talking, armored polar bears, and how could you not like that?) but you will love the knitting.
The main character, a plucky young girl named Lyra, wears this hat on a trip to the North.

There are a lot of things I wanted to make from the movie, but this was the cutest, and (look at the size of the yarn) the easiest. It's very much a bonnet style, and wraps around the entire head. I have lived in the Midwest my entire life, and I know cold, and yet I have never worn a hat this warm. Earflaps have nothing on this. The bonnet seriously needs to make a comeback, and I, for one, am doing my part.

While I admit, I might get a few looks when I wear this, I'm fully prepared for an artic expedition now. This is what it looks like flat (and with a polar bear).

It's this kit from a shop in Grand Rapids, which I ordered over the phone. It's $22 (plus shipping), and I think it was worth it. While the pattern isn't anything special (it's a rectangle with a three-needle bind off up the back, short row shaping optional, and Lion Brand has a free version anyway) it's the yarn that really does it for me. I wanted to make the exact hat from the movie, and I knew I wouldn't be able to mix up those yarns myself, at least not for under $22. It's two skeins of a bulky wool in cream, one strand of bulky wool in the mottled light-brown-going-into-purple, and one thin cream mohair for the halo, all wound up together for you and ready to knit.

And on size 19 needles, let me tell you, this thing goes in under an hour. I mean, three strands of bulky together. Talk about instant gratification. You may feel like you're knitting with tree trunks, but it's not for long.
But most importantly, Duncan approves.

Aww, we match.
In Summary:
Pattern: Lyra's Hat from this kit, or make a big rectangle with a three needle bind-off
Yarn: From same kit, super-super-bulky wool and mohair blend
Needles: Size 19 (15.0 mm)
Time: Less than an hour
Cost: $22 + $5 shipping (worth it for the yarn, imo)

Non - Knitting Content

So, because I have the most spoiled cats in the world, I decided they had to have this jungle gym when I saw it. It's all mesh, vinyl and pvc piping. They were fascinating watching me build it.

And as soon as I was done, promptly played with the box.
To their credit, they do play with the jungle gym now (Duncan likes to dive through the two story vinyl part), but I haven't been able to throw out the box either.
Knitting content to come. In the meantime, enjoy the cats.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Next Installment.... a series I like to call Sarah Injures Herself in Stupid and Amusing Ways. Previous episodes have included "How I Got a Concussion Getting into my Car" and "How I Sprained my Ankle in a Crosswalk, and What Happened Next" (my personal favorite). Today's episode is "How I Sprained My Hip Getting Out of my Car."

How I Sprained My Hip Getting Out of the Car

Now, the original basis for this injury actually has a really good tagline, which is "It's an old fencing injury." Pretty cool, right? Unfortunately that was about 6 years ago and it keeps bothering me. It's always worse in the damp and cold, but it had been doing surprisingly well lately. Yesterday, I stepped out of my car when I got to work. I did not slip on any of the available ice, I did not twist or wrench in any way. I simply got out of my car as usual, and three seconds later, hundreds of pain fairies were stabbing my hip with their shiny stillettos (knives, not shoes, although the shoes would hurt too). I occasionally get a twinge like this, and it usually goes away immediately. This did not. It kept hurting me throughout the day.
I decided at lunch it would be a good idea to go home (I live 15 mins away) and take some ibuprofen. I figured I would be about an hour and left my laptop in my office. By the time I got back to my place, the hip was hurting me so badly that I didn't take ibuprofen. I took something a bit stronger and promptly passed out. When I woke up, I was absurdly groggy and knew I wasn't going back any time soon. Also, it did little for the pain.
I don't know who I was going to call at this point (the details are a little fuzzy), but I began looking for my phone. I had left it in my office. So now I was stranded, in pain, and with no means of contacting the outside world.
In the search for my phone, however, I looked my purse. This was a bad idea, because a can of Diet Coke I had thrown in there exploded, over everything. So in my groggy, panicking, pain-ridden state, I also had to wash out all the contents of my purse, including some knitting (thank science for superwash) and some electronics that will never recover.
I completely lost it. I hobbled over to the appartment complex office and used their phone to call my mom, just about the only number I know by heart. Luckily, she came out, took me to get my stuff, and took me to the chiropractor's, where I found I had sprained my sacro-illiac joint (which I didn't even know I had) just by getting out of the car.
So, sorry about missing the knitting group last night, guys. I was a little busy.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


It's a baby surprise jacket!

(Shown here with ducky buttons that will eventually go on it. I tried a closeup of the button, but it came out blurry and I gave up. Trust me, though, it's cute.)
It's not intended for anyone, but I've been on a real Elizabeth Zimmerman kick lately. I wanted to do something of hers that was quick and clever, and this certainly applies.
It's made in one piece, first by decreasing, then by increasing, then a little voodoo. You're left with a bizarre planar lamina, the magically folds into a jacket and is joined by two seams.
If you don't know who Elizabeth Zimmerman is yet, go find out. I think of her as the previous generation's Yarn Harlot, only with better patterns (sorry, Stephanie, but you know it's true). The woman was a freaking genius. She's also fun to read, even the patterns. For the most part, they are more like recipes, and want you to actually think about what you're doing.

This jacket used up scraps of CottonTots I had lying around in a basket. I'm not sure how much yarn it actually took, but it wasn't too much. I regret the purple, but once I put in one strip, I had to do more, and I certainly wasn't ripping back. There's probably too much purple and pink to make this one truly unisex, but you could do it in some very manly colors too, if you're hung up on that kind of thing. (It's a strange double standard for me; I wouldn't hesitate to put a girl in blue, but a boy in pink is a bit iffy.)

In Summary:
Pattern: Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Surprise Jacket (can be found in Kniting Workshop and The Opinionated Knitter, or contact Schoolhouse Press)
Yarn: Bernat Cotton Tots, (100% cotton), odds and ends
Needles: Size US 7 (4.5 mm) (this is my go -to size for worsted)
Time: A few days
Cost: Nothing! (That's a good feeling! I should stash dive more often.)

Friday, February 01, 2008

Camel Light

In general, I am for knitting with as many random fibers as possible. Sure, there are the basics, wool, cotton, silk, alpaca, cashmere, bamboo, angora and even acrylic. There's some qiviuk and even some nettle in the stash, but this was my first attempt with camel.
Yep, camel yarn, conviently camel-colored, though it comes in many varieties.
Really, you would not believe how soft it is. It's not quite cashmere, but it's up there with alpaca on the softness scale.

(Oh yeah, that's my rug. Isn't it cool?)
The fiber is magnificent, but the yarn itself left a little something to be desired. I found it to be incredibly thin, and wound up doubling it for the scarf.

The scarf is about 20 stitches wide, done in seed stitch until I ran out of yarn. I didn't think about it at the time, but now I find the seed stitch amusing because in my mind it's now a lot of little camel humps.
This is probably one of the nicest scarves I own, and I'm very happy with it. I wasn't happy with the yarn single stranded though. But it was certainly enough to get me to use more camel from a different company, and I am completely in love with it. (More on that later, though. )

In Summary:
Pattern: Seed stitch
Yarn: Blithe by Classic Elite (100% camel, 128 yards)- 2 skeins (held doubled)
Needle: Probably a US 7 (4.5 mm)
Time: A few days of mindless knitting
Cost: $30 (really, it's not that bad for a dress scarf)(right?)