Thursday, October 29, 2009

I can't show you

I finished a Christmas gift. But I can't show you, because you know, it's a Christmas gift. I'm trying really, really hard not to give it to the recipient already, but I think I'm going to make it.

But be proud. It's not even November.

Of course, that's not counting the partially done sweater for my mom that she already knows about. I've got a ways to go on that. It's something though.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Business Socks

You know when I'm down to my socks it's time for business, that's why they're called business socks.
I finished these a while ago, but since I got sick this summer, I really have let blogging go. Since I have way too many pictures of my cats, here's some actual knitting content.
I needed some dress socks, specifically black dress socks. I've knit them before, but honestly, they were boring and hard to see. So I decided there's no rule that dress socks can't have silver in them.

Yep, real 2% silver. At first I worried that it might come out in the wash, but then I realized if that happened, I would wind up with plain black socks, which was my goal in the first place. In the meantime, they would be more fun to knit, as I could occasionally stop and remark thoughtfully, "Oooh, shiny!"
I didn't have a stitch dictionary on me, so I just made up some vaguely lacy looking stitch in every other rib. I think it was k1, yo, ssk; k; k2tog, yo, k1; k, or something very similar.

It's hard to see in black anyway, I just needed something that was different enough to entertain me and not so complex that I needed to count rows really hard or anything.
Basic heel flap, I just continued the reverse stockinette portion that made up the other half of the ribs. It occurs to me now that a German heel (the kind with a garter border on the heel flap) might have looked really cool here. Next pair of socks may wind up with a German heel because of it.

In Summary:
Pattern: Ribbing/lazy lace cuff, reverse stockinette heel flap, regular toe.
Yarn:Kraemer Yarns Sterling Silk & Silver, 1 skein (420 yards, 63% Superwash Merino, 20% Silk, 15% Nylon and 2% silver)
Needles: Size US 0 (2mm) Dang, that sounds small, but I use it a lot for socks.
Time: I started them in March, then abandoned them for a long time. I think I finished them in about two weeks in August or so.
Cost: About $22 for the yarn

Spinning with Fire

Okay, this is not going to be particularly thorough. But it is going to be something. I spun this:

and I actually remembered to take a picture of it first.

It's a 80/20 wool/silk blend I got at Stitches last year.
Here it is on the wheel.

And here it is drying.

I totally have not estimated the yardage on it, but it's a decent amount.

I completely and utterly do not know what to do with it. Suggestions? I already have a ton of hats and scarves, and it's not much yardage. I haven't done anything with anything I've handspun (other than give some to a friend). I get bored of spinning easily so I don't want to commit to an epic amount. And yet I don't need any more small finished products. I'm going to have to get good enough to spin sock yarn.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Something to show you

Oh, I do have something to show you after all, and this post is long overdue. A couple of months ago, my Aunt Betty, who taught me to crochet when I was about 7, made me a giant crochet blanket. Here it is on my queen-size bed.

She describes it as a "history blanket," using yarns from many other afghans she has made over the years. And there were many.
When I was a kid, my family would all travel to Michigan together in the fall. My parents, my grandparents, and my aunt and uncle would all go to the same hotel and explore southwestern Michigan. We would do all those fall-like things, picking apples, getting pumpkins, shopping hobby stores (okay, maybe that's just my family), and generally spending a weekend together in a mini family reunion. Sometimes we would even get adjoining rooms, and we could go into their rooms without even going out in the to the hall! When you're 6, this is amazing.
In the evening, after making great use of the hotel's indoor pool, we would all gather in one room and drink sparkling cider, eat apple donuts, and watch old movies on TV. I would crawl up on the bed next to Aunt Betty, who would always be crocheting some interesting new afghan, and pepper her with questions about it. Eventually she taught me (maybe to shut me up?), and I made a few little purses. I'm afraid I let it go for many years after that, but I picked it back up in college and haven't been able to stop since. Even though I knit more, I always have at least one of two crochet projects going.
And I can even make blankets just like Aunt Betty. The stitch is the afghan stitch, which is very fun to do, but I admit I haven't practiced much, and it's bordered by shells.

It's an incredibly warm blanket, and I love it, of course. The cats, on the other hand, simply adore it, and I can barely pry it away from them. If I leave it on the couch, there's always a cat on it. When I try to hang it up on the quilt rack (which I got for $5 at a garage sale) in the living room, Worfy will actually pull it down so he can sleep on it.

You can also see my crocheting in this picture as well. I'll show you that soon.

Bad Blogger

Oh man, I haven't blogged in forever. But if I really think about it, I haven't finished anything since I blogged last. Pretty sad. I have to admit, I'm getting closer on quite a few things.
I have a giant crochet blanket I've been working on, that I might just call done soon. I meant to make it for my queen-sized bed, so it turned out quite big. But then it turns out I nap with it on the couch an awful lot, and it's probably likely to stay there.
I started some dress socks in May, with the hopes of finishing them in time for my lobbying trip to DC, but that didn't happen. I was most of the way through the foot, cuff down, but my heart really wasn't it in. But I've picked them back up again, and the nice thing about waiting so long to make the second sock, you don't really have second sock syndrome. I'm nearing the heel, so hopefully that will be done soon.
The other thing that I picked back up was the Icarus shawl I was working on in white mohair. It's really incredibly beautiful. I had finished the body and had about 4 charts of edging to do, when I thought I made a major mistake and would have to rip back. I had gotten too cocky to put in a lifeline at this point, of course. But it turned out to be a very small mistake that I fudged, and I'm nearing the last chart. The trouble with this kind of shawl is that it starts out all small and gratifying, you just fly through the rows. Now, I'm getting to something that has nearly my wingspan in a triangular shape, meaning each row is about 5 feet long. In lace weight. Think about that. I don't even want to count the stitches, because I think that would make me cry.
Sadly, the reason I picked the lace back up was because I knew a man on ravelry that was an amazing lace knitter, and he recently passed away. I hope he would appreciate that he inspired me to take my lace back up.
I've also spun a little bit lately, and it had been a while. I spun up about 4 oz of an 80/20 wool/silk blend. I'm very nearly done plying. I seriously need more bobbins though. I have three. I spun the yarn about half and half on each bobbin, which got quite full. This will not fit on a third bobbin on the same size. I know this. This is obvious. This did not stop me from plying and hoping anyway. So I just need to wind some yarn off the bobbin, and finish already.
Anyway, sorry about the no blogging.
As usual, I'll try to distract you with cats.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Last weekend was Mother's Day (in the US anyway), and so of course, I went home to visit my mom. And of course, I knit something for her.
But first, we had to get a birthday/Mother's Day gift for my grandmother, and we decided she needed some new flowers. Several hours at the garden center later, we put together this arrangement.

It's really vibrant and the pot matches their house. But I really couldn't get over how beautiful this dahlia is, and will probably have to paint it. (I dabble in painting. God forbid there be some craft I don't do. Mom is the real artist. Go see her blog. )

Anyway, just like when I was 5, I made her present for Mother's Day. This time, instead of involving cut up straws as beads for a necklace (I don't know, ask the Montessori school what that was all about), she actually gets pretty things. She asked for a little shawl, just big enough to throw over her shoulders, in a neutral color. It's the grown up's answer to a hoodie. Being for my mom, it naturally had to be cotton.
Here's what I wound up with. Somehow this picture turned into some classical art style thing, I'm not really sure.

I really should have thought this "simple" thing out before I started. I started with an idea for more or less a lazy Clapotis, rectangular instead of on an angle. I liked the dropped stitches and I liked the way the stockinette curled. Not that you could really get stockinette to do anything else. Unfortunately, you don't drop stitches until the end. The very end. Which meant that I wound up knitting a giant stockinette rectangle. I was doing a lot of travelling, so at least I could close my eyes and knit when I got nervous on the plane, but I wish I had picked a stitch with at least a little something to it.
But the finished product turned out really well. My mom really can't tell one side of a knit fabric from the other, and she picked it up and put it on backwards. I really liked the way the reverse stockinette looked better, and decided that's how I intended it to be. So not like a clapotis at all.

Should you wish to recreate this , it's pretty simple. Cast on as many stitches as you think you'll need to wrap around the body, bearing in mind that the dropped stitches will stretch. On size US 7 (4.5 mm) needles with worsted weight yarn, I cast on 100 stitches. It wouldn't have been a bad idea to do a little more. My mom is about a small/medium, so increase as necessary. In the first row [k5, yo] to last 5 sts, k5. Then knit in stockinette for approximately forever, or long enough to wrap comfortably over your shoulders. In this case, forever was about 2 feet and felt like longer. (If any new knitters happen to stop by, I'll remind you that stockinette is knit one row, purl one row.) Then the fun begins. As you're binding off, drop every 6th stitch. Bind off all the other stitches as usual. Unravel it all the way to the bottom to get those open lines.
I can't really describe how fun it is to drop stitches on purpose.You really just have to try it for your self. It's like you're making a run in pantyhose, but it creates a cool pattern.

In summary:
Pattern: See above
Yarn: Bernat Cotton Tots (100% cotton) beige/natural, 2.5 skeins
Needle: US 7 (4.5mm)
Time: About a week getting some good knitting time in

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Look, Cats! The All-Worfy Edition

Yeah, I have been really slacking about posting. And knititng. And, well, pretty much everything. So I'll continue to distract you by posting random pictures of my cats. Here are some collected shots of Worfy.

He's looking very pretty perched atop my Hello Kitty pillow.

It's kind of all Asian themed. The dresser is Asian style, and the fan is from Ron of Japan, pretty much the coolest teppan-yeki place in downtown Chicago.

Here he is guarding my jacket, and my clapotis.

And of course, I'm browsing ravelry in the background.

He's just kind of posing here.

And looking very concerned here.

Perhaps he's concerned about the amount of time I spend on ravelry.

But this. This might be my favorite picture of him, ever.

So. Freaking. Cute. Excuse me while I go snorgle him some more.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Duncan likes to show his belly. And why not? It's an extremely cute belly. I absolutely cannot resist the little speckles on it.

I love the little leopard speckles.
Fun fact: leopards are the only big cats that purr. I've heard it, and not only does it sound like a motor, it sounds like the motor of a tractor that happens to be located inside your ear. It's freaking adorable. And possibly deadly.

Really, tiny cats leave me scarred enough .

Okay, this doesn't show his belly quite as well, but I like the happy, sleepy look on his face.

Also, the effect of the giant, razor sharp claws coming at you. On the large size on flickr it's a little scary. He's a mini tiger.
Fun fact: tigers are the only big cats that don't have retractable claws.
Worfy does not show his belly quite as often, but here is a rare sighting that he does seem particularly pleased about.

It's still fun to snorgle.
He's also a little bit cross eyed, which is incredibly cute when you dangle a toy in front of his face. But it also means the light from the flash catches his eyes very differently. I've been noticing that in a few pictures I've taken of him. It's not cataracts or anything, just a cute, slightly confused look.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Sock List

There are very few people on my sock list. Very few indeed. Hats are easy. I'll make a hat for just about anybody. Even a bag is within realm for the average friend or family member, but the sock list is short. You have to earn socks.
Socks take a long time. I read somewhere that the number of stitches in socks is about half that of a sweater. And they're usually a lot smaller than sweater yarn.
Up until now, this has been my sock list:

1. Me. (about 20 times. Okay, now I feel bad about being selfish.)
2. Mom. (twice)
3. My best friend since middle school. (once)
4. A guy I dated. (once. And we broke up the weekend I gave them to him. No more socks for boys.)
5. Babies, but they don't count because they're little.

It's not that socks aren't wonderful to knit, they totally are. They're completely and utterly addicting in ways you just don't understand until you knit and/or wear them. They're a lot of time invested, though. But since my sock drawer is pretty much overflowing at this point, I have added another person to my sock list. Also, she has earned it.

Meet Michelle. She took our office at the lab by storm last year when she moved here. She makes work a lot more interesting. And she helped me clean my house. That was my Christmas present.
I made the hat she was wearing for her for Christmas (her mom made the scarf). She wears the hat all the time, so she seems to have good appreciation for hand knits.

I don't really know why she's wearing them like earrings, but that's Michelle for you.
She's also a transplant from Texas, so even in our spring, she needs some serious insulation against the cold. That's why she got nearly-knee socks.

I did them toe up and knit till I ran out of yarn. They're nearly-knee. On me, they probably would be. Michelle has much longer legs than I do. Really, most people do.

She likes blue and purple, and wears these all the time. Really, that's a major component in getting on the sock list - intense appreciation for hand knits. Socks are a terrible thing to waste on people who don't get it.

Anyway, about the socks.

Pattern: Square toe, gusset increase heel flap, stockinette body till cuff, ended in 2x2 rib. My usual, boring, toe-up pattern. Makes a great purse project.
Yarn:Fortissima Colori Socka Color
by Schoeller and Stahl, color 9095 in blues and purples.
Needles: Size US 0, two circs
Time: A few weeks in the purse
Cost: I think about $10, I got the yarn cheap in a bag at Stitches

Friday, April 10, 2009

Look, Cats!

I'm writing up a post or two, but here are some cats to keep you company.
Here's Duncan looking pretty suspicious.

I would so cast him as a cat villain in a Disney cartoon.

Here's Worfy looking super pretty with his green eyes.

That's a gianormous crochet blanket I'm working on. It pretty much fits my queen bed and I'm still going on it. I'm using hobby store cotton, and I don't want to think about how much I've spent on it.

Here's Duncan sitting with his tail in a weird position.

Seriously, he just sat there like that for a couple of minutes. Didn't that hurt? Here's a closeup.

It's a cute stripey tail.

Here's Worfy regally surveying his kingdom.

And regally surveying his subjects (hint: that's me).

Yeah, I was home sick for a few days. When you're high on DayQuil, taking pictures of your cats is awesome.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Awesome swap

I got a package from Ireland on St. Patrick's Day! How cool is that? (Answer: Extremely cool.) It was a swap from the feminist group on ravelry, and was feminist themed.
No one has cooler feminist quotes than Eleanor Roosevelt, so this was the perfect card. The little tin is lavender scented temple balm (like you rub it on your temples for soothing properties).

It spent its time in the package right next to this:

lovely purple cashmere cowl. I was taking pictures of it this morning before work, and I realized it kind of matched what I was wearing. It's kind of a drizzly day, so it's a nice cozy thing to have, and still smells like lavender. Duncan was not quite as amused with it as I am.

(For those not familiar with my blog and/or cat, that is Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod. There can be only one.)
Continuing with the feminist theme, there was this book, which I am looking forward to reading.

Because my swap partner evidently post stalked me all over ravelry (which I highly approve of), she knows I enjoy crazy things from all over the world. So she sent me this, which is so freaking cute. I think he's going to be a zipper pull on my knitting bag, because I don't want him to get dented as a key ring.

But truly awesome, tacky thing is this:

This is no ordinary leprechaun pen. Oh no. It blows bubbles. I was so excited when I saw it for just this reason. But then! I scribbled with it so I could see what color it was and IT LIGHTS UP. Yes, it lights up green when you write with it. I am too delighted for words.
Because no swap is complete without candy, I got an excellent selection of that as well. I love Kinder eggs, especially the toys, and I am really looking forward to the chocolate mint. It's one of my favorite flavors.

But as this was a swap for knitters, there was also lots of awesome knitting materials. There's a UK knitting magazine that I have never seen over here. It has some pretty cute spring patterns in it, and some educational looking articles.
There's a little journal with fully blank pages (not lined, all the better for sketching). There's some pearly purpley stitch markers.

And there's some truly amazing yarn. In keeping with the feminist theme, the yarn is called Scattaich (I hope I came close to spelling that right), who my swap partner informs me was a warrior woman. Maybe she's in my book. I shall have to read and find out. It's really gorgeous sock weight yarn in pink tones. It's dyed by a woman on ravelry who shares some similar interests (coughLSGcough), so it's actually supporting a woman who owns a small business. It doesn't get much more feminist than that. I will have to find something very special to make with it.
All in all, teaandcakes was an amazing swap partner. I'm feeling quite guilty about the package I sent her. Thank you so much!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Tie Dye Socks

I continue to be predictable and like the colors a 5 year old would. These come straight out of the crayon box. The yarn was a birthday gift from Valerie, and I absolutely love it. It is Alpaca peds, which manages to be a superwash alpaca blend sock yarn. I don't know how they do it, but they promise to be warm.

Worfy approves.

Basic top down sock pattern in 2x2 ribbing, except I liked the way it was striping so much that I did an afterthought heel, so as not to disturb the pattern.

In summary:
Yarn: Alpaca Peds in Tie Die
Pattern: Top down, 2x2 rib, afterthought heel, basic toe
Needles: Size US 1 dpns
Time: A few weeks in my purse. That seems to be all I'm making lately.
Cost: Nothing. Thanks Val!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I caught the clap!

Uh, the clapotis, that is. Yes, everyone and their next-door neighbor has knit one of these except me, until now. Loopy Yarns in the city was having a moving sale, and some of the girls from one of my knitting groups made a field trip out of it. While I desperately wanted some of the heavily discounted llama, I had already made two hats out of it and couldn't come up with any other plan for it. Luckily, I also found this lovely yarn, Mirasol Hacho deeply discounted. I couldn't think of what to do with it, and nearly defaulted to socks. Luckily, the very smart people at Loopy Yarns keep a computer right there, so that customers can access ravelry at all times. This is a brilliant idea. Also, a terrible idea. Do you have any idea how enabling ravelry can be? I found someone who had made a clapotis out of this exact colorway, and it was so perfect, I had to do it. And hey, maybe this pattern everyone had done was worth the fuss after all.

It was, actually. It was a lot of fun. The pattern is simple enough that when you get the hang of it, you don't need to look at every line. However, it's knit on the diagonal, so it keeps from getting boring. There's also the crazy thrill of dropping stitches (on purpose!) and watching the pattern develop. The only problem is that until you get the pattern established, people have no idea how cool this thing you're knitting is going to turn out to be.
My computer(s) had just died at this point, and I was looking forward to seven straight days of shift (8 hours- with about 5 mins of work to do every 2 hours) with no other form of entertainment. So I knit, and I read. It turns out, these high-tech desk style chairs work great for knitting and reading. I've usually tried this slumped out on the couch, and it has not faired well. But the edges of the chair and the edge of the desk lets you prop up the book so you don't have to worry about juggling it. I got it done in 5 days, and read 3 books in the process. Oh yeah, and did work.

I'm very happy with it. I don't know why I didn't do the pattern for so long, but I guess I never really had the yarn that screamed for it before. The size is somewhere in between a shawl and a scarf, so it will definitely earn its keep this winter. And a shawl is just so much more elegant than a hoodie.
(I'm trying to look snobby and stylish. Did it work?)

In Summary:
Yarn: Mirasol Hacho (100% merino wool), 5 skeins
Pattern: Clapotis from knitty
Needles: Size US 8
Time: About 5 days of devoted knitting
Cost: $24. Not bad, my friends. Not bad at all.

Actually, I did this ages ago, and I'm just posting. Sorry. It made a great scarf all winter though.