catching up

2012-05-25 01:26:18 +0000

I haven't made terribly much progress with Jason's sweater. Last week, I went ahead and balled up my one non-stinky hank of it and jumped right into swatching. Now I've got one neat little square of fabric, which was a bit small but did grow a little after a bath and is now just the right size. I know, I know... knitting a proper swatch and then actually washing it too?? This is entirely uncharacteristic of me, given my usual by-the-seat-of-my-pants knitting style. But if I'm going to knit a great big man-sweater, I want to do everything I can to make sure I don't screw it up. And if you're a regular reader of my blog, you know I need all the help I can get.

Let's see, catching up... Friday was my day off for the week, and I got a ton of housework done in the morning. And then I spent the afternoon sitting on the sofa, watching Lifetime Movie Network, and knitting. I, as previously mentioned, balled up my yarn and knit the swatch. Then I finished up my Lace Stripe Scarf, which is still in need of a blocking and having its fringe attached. Then because I was on a roll, I pulled out my Boneyard and finished that too.

Saturday was our first D&D session in quite a while, and I grabbed my Larch shawl to keep my hands occupied during that. I'm past the garter triangle section and into the lace now. It's a simple feather-and-fan pattern knit in garter stitch as well, so it's pretty mindless. It's still looking like one end of the yarn is darker than the other, so I'll be curious to get the rest of it knit up so I can tell once and for all whether A) it's just a trick of the light or pattern or whatever/my knitting is screwing with me again, or B) the yarn really is dyed two different shades/I'm sane, sane I tell you!!

Sunday passed uneventfully. I worked, then Jason and I took a long walk in the evening since the weather was so nice.

Monday, I took the Larch shawl out on a date. We went out to a concert; Jason came too. It was awesome, so awesome that to fully grasp just how awesome it was requires a bit of backstory...

When I was in high school, my favorite band in the world was EVE6. Oh, how I loved them. I listened to their CDs, especially Horrorscope, over and over. I was dying to see them in concert, but my mother would not allow me to go because I was "too young." (Sidenote: since most venues I've since been to concerts in require the attendees to be over 18, I most likely was, in fact, "too young" to have gone to see them even had my mother allowed me to. This didn't occur to me until years later, though. At the time, I assure you that it all seemed dreadfully unfair.) When they released their third album the same year I turned 18, I was very excited and took it as a sign that finally -- finally! -- I would get to go see my beloved band. But alas, it was not meant to be. Before I was able to see one of their shows, their record label released them from their contract because of lack of sales, and the band split up. I was very very sad.

But! Recently the band has gotten back together, and just this past April they released their 4th album. And on Monday night they played in Pittsburgh.

I had to wait nearly ten years, but it was totally worth it.

stinky wool and lace stripes

2012-05-17 03:14:35 +0000

It's been a week so far. I knew it would be trouble when I was rushing out of the house to go to work on Monday and managed to whack my thigh on part of the fence that sticks out into the walkway. I had no idea that there was even part of the fence that stuck out. Now I do, and I've got the bruise to prove it. Of course I needn't have rushed since traffic was so awful (due to various construction projects and a busted water main) that it took me almost an hour to get to work. For reference, the drive is normally about 15 minutes. The rest of the week has been more or less like that. Nothing horrible, but it's been one little thing after another.

Also, Diablo III came out yesterday, and Jason and I went over to a friend's house to play en masse. I had to borrow a computer to play it on, because my 5 1/2 year old MacBook can't even handle the graphics of PotterMore so Diablo II would probably send it into a seizure. I'm going to be replacing it with a shiny new computer fairly soon, but I'm waiting on the upgraded Macs. Seems silly not to hold out just a few more weeks to get the fancier ones. Or at least it seemed silly until Diablo III actually came out because now I'm itching to play. Maybe I'll run through Diablo II, just to take the edge off.

Or maybe I should just get as much knitting done as I can before Diablo III eats all of my free time.

I'm really eager to cast on for Jason's sweater, but unfortunately my Cascade Eco wool didn't air out. I untwisted the hanks, stuck them on coathangers and hung them up in the back yard over the weekend. The smell lessened, but not by much. So yay, I get to prewash it all. I'm sort of irritated at myself that I wound one of the hanks into a ball before coming to the realization that I couldn't stand the smell, so now I have to unwind it, wash it, and rewind it. Anyhow, I washed up the first one on Monday night. I had some Kookaburra woolwash left over (from before I discovered how pretty Soak smells) and I gave it a good long bath in that. Kookaburra wash contains tea tree oils, and so it has a sharp spicy smell that I'm not terribly keen on but I thought that it would be best for covering up stinky smells. It definitely got rid of the icky smell, and I can tolerate the tea tree oil well enough for knitting. The sweater will of course be getting a bath in Soak when it's done, so that's fine. The hank is taking forever to dry, though. I checked it this morning and it's still damp. I've got the day off on Friday, so I think I'll wash the other three then and then (weather permitting!) lay them out in the backyard to speed up the drying process. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for sunshine.

In other and better knitting news, I'm rapidly nearing completion on my Lace Stripe Scarf. I watched two 90-minute episodes of Sherlock this weekend, plus the season finale of Once Upon a Time, so I got quite a bit of knitting done on Sunday alone. I'm somewhere close to 3/4 of the way through it and though I was completely and utterly enamored of it at first, I'm ready to have this thing finished with. The pattern, as I mentioned previously, is dead simple: a few rows of garter stitch followed by a simple 4-row lace pattern. For whatever reason, I keep starting the lace stripes on the wrong side of the scarf. Not only have I done this at least a dozen times by now, but I also manage to not catch it until I reach the next lace section. At first I was very glass-half-full about the whole thing. After all, it just meant I was getting to knit with this lovely soft delicious yarn more, right? Well after about the 15th *$#!&%# time of ripping out twelve stinking rows and jamming all forty-frigging-two stitches back on the damn needle, my optimism shriveled up and disappeared. I'm ready to be done.

It also doesn't help that unblocked lace always looks like crap. In this case it is crap knit out of a wonderfully soft and beautifully dyed yarn, but when I look at it I still see ugly bumpy lumpy crap, sandwiched between neat little ridges of garter stitch. I'm knitting a scarf of crap sandwiches.

Color sure is purty, though.

More yarn...

2012-05-11 04:35:13 +0000

I wish I knit faster, then maybe I'd have more to blog about...

Larch is progressing somewhat slower than I'd like it to. I absolutely love Dream in Color yarns -- I've made two projects with Smooshy as well as swatched with their Classy yarn. This is my first time knitting with their Knitosophy, and I'm finding it a bit rougher than I remember the Smooshy being. Is the Knitosophy really that different a base than the Smooshy? Did the dying process do something to make it scratchier? Is this just my imagination? Did I just get a weird batch?

Whatever the reason, I really hope that it will soften up after a wash, though I'd have to finish it first and that might be a while because when I knit with it, it's so rough it rubs a groove into my finger and it's uncomfortable to knit with for more than about half an episode of tv. Which is a real shame because fingering weight yarn worked in garter stitch on size 7 US needles means that this would otherwise be a pretty quick knit.

I'm also very close to finishing up Boneyard (finally!) and it will be very nice to get it off the needles. I took it down to Tampa with me on my last trip home and I got another couple of inches done after finishing up all those hats, then it also came with me when I went to the midnight showing of Avengers last Thursday night and that took me into the garter stitch edging. I think I've only got about a half a dozen more rows to go on it. So, yay nearly having another finished project!

I have more projects planned for the relatively near future:

  1. wrist cuff thingy for Sarah, because she requested one and it's something I think I can get done quickly, as opposed to her socks which I've had on the needles for almost six months now. She didn't give me a specific color, so I'm going to go buy some fancy buttons and then see what I can match them to from The Stash.
  2. rag rug. Jason has some undershirts that are nearing the end of their days. I usually reincarnate them as dustrags, but I've got enough of those and I had the brilliant idea to cut them into strips and then knit the strips into a rug. We'll see how this goes, since I've never tried this before.
  3. Sarah's socks. Of course. I'm going to wait until my next day off when I have no distractions, rent an audiobook from the library, then just sit down and put a frigging dent in them already. I think once I get past the lace-shaping-on-every-single-damn-round leg section and into the foot where the lace-shaping-on-every-damn-round is broken up by the stockinette sole, they'll move along faster. I'm nearly there. Just need to make myself actually do it.

And on top of that, my Webs order just came in. Yeah. Like I needed that.

So, starting at the left you can see we've got two skeins of Cascade 220 Superwash in Shire, which is a deep heathered green that totally didn't show up well in this photo. It'll become socks for Dad. Then just below that is two skeins of Madeline Tosh DK in Truly Madly Deeply, and that'll become a scarf for a friend who's been very supportive throughout all the chaos that's fallen on my life lately. Beside that is three skeins of Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece in the colorway Rue, which is a bit more greeny-blue that the photo looks, and that'll become a sweater for me. Lastly, we've got four skeins of Cascade Ecological Wool in Beige, which is going to become a Wash Sweater for Jason. (Happy birthday, darling!) I bought more than I needed, and the leftovers will probably become either a cropped sweater or a pair of socks, depending on what's left over. Of course, Oz very helpfully oversaw the unpacking and photographing of my order. All yarn has since been placed in catproof ziplock bags for its own protection.

The wool for the socks and my sweater got put away in the WIP drawer. (Which is technically more like the WIP-to-be drawer, but who's keeping track of those little details anyhow?) And because I am weak-willed I balled up one of the skeins of Cascade Eco Wool. It had kind of an odd odor to it, sort of plastic-chemically... unpleasant but not overpowering. I'm going to air out the rest of it in hanks, and see if that gets rid of the smell. If that doesn't work, I'll give it a soak in wool wash and hope that does the trick. Like I said, it's not that strong so I'm pretty confident that airing it out will be enough to get rid of it.

And then since I had my ball winder and winding chair all set up, I went ahead and wound the MadTosh DK into cakes. And then since I'd gone that far, I might as well see if I could make gauge. And then since I already did that, it'd be silly not to get completely set up, so I pre-cut all the fringe. And, well, since the yarn and needles and pattern were all right there, I went ahead and cast on. Larch shawl be damned!

And holy hell. I never want to knit with anything else ever again. MadTosh is soft and smooth and the color is just gorgeous. The pattern is simple and really lets the yarn shine, but I get the feeling that this gorgeous wool would do just as well with a more complex lace or cabled pattern too.

Of course I screwed up. The pattern, Lace Stripe Scarf, calls for casting on 42 stitches and working alternating stripes of garter and a simple lace pattern. (I'm using the pattern published in Wendy Knits Lace, but it's also available free online!) I got past the first garter stripe and was into the first lace section and my stitch count was coming out off. Turns out I was adding an extra yarn over, but when I counted to see where my problem was, I discovered I had cast on not 42 stitches, but 48 instead. Not sure how I managed that, but I gave a mental shrug and ripped back. Then at around the fourth stripe, I discovered that I'd begun one of the lace sections on a wrongside row instead of a rightside row as I should have and (naturally) didn't realize this for another few inches. Another mental shrug, another round of ripping.

No anger. No swearing. No muttering about how I'm an idiot who can't read a pattern and can't count and remind me how long have I been knitting for now because really I should be past this nonsense by now.

It's the yarn, I swear it's the yarn. It's such a pleasure to work with that I don't even care that I screwed up and had to redo parts of it because, hey! That just means I get to knit with it longer, yeah? It also helps that it holds up really well to being frogged, which is something very important in a yarn for me.

So now I want to knit everything ever with this yarn, and that's totally not going to happen because that's well out of my knitting budget to do so. I'm getting to play with it now because I got it on sale and this project only called for two skeins of it. Plus, it's a gift for someone who is really super-nice, so I was willing to indulge a bit.

The evening just flew by. Now I'm going to go hop into bed. Tomorrow is Friday, and after I get through my workday there will be hanging out at home, and Jason mentioned the possibility of making boozy milkshakes in our shiny new blender, and -- of course -- more knitting.

Happy Cinco de Mayo / Kentucky Derby / Saturday!!

2012-05-06 05:18:33 +0000

Today was full of stuff. I managed to drag myself out of bed at a decent hour, run a few errands, and then come home and clean up the house some. I ended up going a bit overboard (as I tend to do from time to time) and parts of the dining room and living room got lots of cleaning and organizing, which they desperately needed. Then I placed a moderately large order from Webs. Yeah, I know. The last thing I need is more yarn. I know I said I was done buying yarn until my birthday. But it's all sale yarn, and only $20 of my somewhat embarrassing order is going to become something for me. The rest is all for stuff for other people. You can look forward to pictures, hopefully next week!

Then Jason and I settled in for the Kentucky Derby. His family always does a family bet on the race. With very few exceptions, the horses I pick come in last. Not just lose the race, but come in dead last. Almost. Every. Time. For this year's Derby? I picked Daddy Long Legs. He came in last, and was marked "DIS." At first I though that meant he was disqualified for something, but a quick Google search tells me that it actually stands for "distanced" which means he came in so far behind the lead horse that they didn't even bother to figure out how much he lost by. It was a lot. Anyhow, I wish people were able to bet on the losers because I'd have that nailed every time.

Anyhow, I thought to myself afterward, Self: You've been really productive today! You should make a blog post while you're on a roll! And then I realized that my knitting has been behaving lately. I just started knitting my Larch shawl, with no incident. I knit a pair of fingerless mitts (with no pattern!) before that, with no incident. And before that was three hats on a tight deadline, with no incident. And before that I was working on Boneyard, also with no incident. And before that was my raglan sweater, with, you guessed it, no incident! Other than my own laziness, that is. And before that... I don't even remember what I was working on, but since nothing's jumping out at me I'm willing to bet that it wasn't anything particularly traumatic.

And what happens when my knitting behaves? My blog gets boring. And when my blog gets boring, I have little motivation to post.

But I went forth with it anyhow and luckily the cats obliged me by lurking around when I tried to take pictures.

I laid out the scant beginnings of my Larch shawl on the bed to take a picture of it.

Then I noticed Pyewacket hanging around in the background. I think I was disturbing her mid-afternoon nap time.

Then Ozzy joined us on the bed. I could watch her poor little brain try to puzzle it out. On the one hand, there was this thing that looked like yarn and smelled like yarn. But on the other was this other thing that smelled like yarn, but didn't really look like yarn. A tough choice for a cat of very little brain. Of course, she chose the wrong one....

...and then realized that she chose poorly. But she could see the yarn, and it was right there...

...and because she could see it right there then that meant that all she had to do to get to it is walk forward, right? She's lucky she's got a pretty face because there's nothing behind it.

Anyhow, I spent the rest of the night relaxing on the couch with Jason and a movie. We watched The Adventures of Tintin and worked on my Larch shawl. And as I worked, I began to notice something: the knitted shawl is darker than the skein itself. You can sort of see it in the photos above, but not very well. It got more obvious as the shawl grew. At first I thought I was imagining things, but it became more and more obvious, and I still clung to the hope that I was being neurotic again. So I did what I do in all such situations and I asked Jason, and he confirmed that no, I'm not being crazy (at least not this time.)

I don't get this, I really don't. At first I thought maybe it's the garter stitch that just makes it appear darker, with the texture and blah blah blah shadows or something. But I've knit a lot of garter stitch and never seen the color alter that drastically. Has it always looked darker and I've somehow just never noticed?? Is this shawl out to get me? Have I finally just lost it completely when it comes to yarn? Or maybe one end of the yarn is darker than the other end? That seems unlikely to me, but no more unlikely than the garter stitch being to blame.

In any case, the yarn on the needles is markedly different from the yarn that's still in the skein. I can see it from where I'm sitting, staring at me. I guess I'll just keep knitting on it tomorrow and see where it takes me.

And note to self: next time I feel the urge to complain about my knitting being "boring" by behaving? Go jump in a lake.

Home again, home again...

2012-05-03 02:08:14 +0000

It's been a very draining weekend. I went back to Florida for a long weekend to spend time with my family, and am now back in the Burgh. It was hard in a lot of ways, and reassuring in a lot of ways, and wonderful in a lot of ways. Overall, it was very, very tiring, and now that I'm away again it's all hit me at once and I'm just absolutely exhausted.

I've been very neglectful post-wise, but very productive knitting-wise. This'll be picture heavy and I'll post more when my brain is feeling less mushy.

First off, we've got my latest Secret Project. I wanted to make something nice for my mom to encourage her to take some time for herself and relax through all the family drama. And what better way than a pair of cute pedicure socks!

She really loved them, and they fit great.

While we had the camera and knits out, I also got her to model the Tiger Triangle for me.

We gave it a wash and a fresh blocking, so maybe if she goes somewhere with air conditioning and sits under a vent she can get some use out of it this year. It's already way too hot to wear it outside.

Then we have all the chemo hats I've been working on. They came out as lovely and soft as I thought they would, and the fit is great. Nani has been getting cold lately, and she's reported that they're working out wonderfully for sleeping in at night.

And since I had lots of yarn left over, I was able to throw together a pair of fingerless mitts out of the Berroco Vintage yarn as well. Those will be especially nice for during her treatments, so her hands can stay warm but her fingers will still be free for leafing through a magazine or book.

Shown here modelled by my mother. Please note her latest cross stitch project. I am always amazed by her lovely needlework. I feel like I don't have the patience to do the complex pieces she does, which in my head I know is totally silly because it's no more taxing on my patience than working a large knitted lace project, but that's still how I feel.

I'm going to try to get back into needlepoint. My mom gave me a really cute needlepoint kit. No pictures because I still have to dig it out of my suitcase, but I'm looking forward to doing it over the summer when it's too hot to sit around with a lap full of wool. I also bought some tea towels and an embroidery hoop to make some embroidered dish towels. Pictures forthcoming on that as well.

Now I'm going to sign off for the night. I'm going to (finally, finally!) cast on with my bribe yarn (Dream in Color Knitosophy in Blossom) for my Larch shawl. I need something mindless, and the garter stitch body of that shawl is just what I need right now.

Also, the cats are thrilled that I'm home.

Return to Yarnia

2012-04-15 00:20:33 +0000

Hold on to your hats, folks. This is gonna be a long one...

It's been rather stressful around Yarnia lately, and so I don't have a whole heck of a lot to report on the actual knitting front. (The planning-to-knit front, however, is a whole different animal...) Jason was out of town all week, so rather than spend my evenings watching him play video games or watching a movie while knitting, I've just been reading.

What I do have to report: Raglan sweater is nearly complete. I've knit down to the cuff on sleeve #2, and it just needs about an inch of 2x2 ribbing. For some reason I just can't be arsed to actually finish it, which is just a shame because we just finished with winter's last hurrah -- it snowed on Wednesday. Snowed! So, maybe some time around October I'll finally get it together enough to just frigging knit that last inch and weave in the ends.

Then I pulled out Sarah's Belated Birthday Socks, but only managed a round or two on them before realizing that stress is not good for knitting that requires concentration. So they got banished back to the WIP drawer before I really screwed them up. But I still had the urge to knit socks, so I pulled out those two skeins of Felici sock yarn in Rainbow, and started knitting away on a mindless plain vanilla sock pattern. Starting with the red stripe appealed to my neurotic side -- ROY G BIV and all that -- so I had finished with the cuff by the time I noticed there might be a bit of a problem...

It appeared that somewhere in the process of dying and winding this skein of yarn, bits of red dye had bled onto the other colors. I kept knitting away, hoping that maybe it was just a small problem, but no. As I moved from the orange to the yellow stripe, the problem got worse. And bigger. And blotchier. I knit another couple stripes before I finally faced the fact that this problem couldn't be ignored, especially after I closely examined (or, pulled out a big wad of yarn from the middle of the ball and stared at it in horror, whichever...) the rest of the skein and found it similarly affected.

I hopped right over to Knitpicks.com and filled out a little customer complaint form and fired it off, and had my reply within a day. They apologized for the issue and mailed me two new skeins of yarn from a different dyelot. Say what you will about Knitpicks, their customer service is awesome. I received the new yarn a couple of days later, but haven't bothered to restart the socks yet. Instead I've been working on Boneyard. No picture, so you'll just have to take my word for it that it's gotten much bigger, and the ball of yarn is rapidly dwindling. A few more nights parked in front of the tv with it, and I'll have myself a new scarf. Unfortunately, that'll probably be a ways off because I've set all WIPs aside in favor of new projects.

I am knitting something for someone that's on somewhat of a deadline, and I didn't have appropriate yarn for it (yeah, I'll wait while you stop laughing...) so I ended up at Natural Stitches again to pick up a new ball of yarn for this Secret Project. I wanted something variegated and bright and loud and fun, and I think this fits the bill quite nicely. It's Cascade Heritage, in Green Opel. And yes, it is somewhat louder than this picture makes it look.

While I was there, I also picked up two skeins of MadelineTosh Lace yarn in the colorway Fragrant, for no other reason than I love the color and I wanted it, and stress makes my willpower weak. This is 1950 yards, and I plan on making something big and square and lacey. I'm still browsing patterns, so we'll see what I eventually come up with...

Seriously. I love this color. I just want to eat it.

Of course, having just been at the LYS, and having just spent a rather embarassing amount of money on pink laceweight that I don't really need, I discover that I suddenly have more projects on my plate that require yarn I don't have. I try not to get too personal on here, but I just learned that someone I love very dearly has cancer. I'm very bad at dealing with difficult situations at the best of times, and it doesn't help that I'm a thousand miles away and just feeling so damn useless about it all. So I do what I do in most situations where I'm too far to make a real difference, and I turn to my needles and yarn. It's like, if I can take all my worry and all my love and pour it into a project, then send that project off, it's like I'm sending a little piece of myself off with it, so that in a way I feel like I can be there, and I can make a difference.

I know. It's silly. But I'm still going to be knitting chemo hats.

I wasn't sure which yarn would be best for it, so I picked out a few to see which works best and then will make more from there, if the recipient requests more. Left to right, we've got Malabrigo Worsted in Vermillion, then Malabrigo Twist in Azul Profundo, and then finally Berroco Vintage in Blush. I'll be including a bottle of Soak to make washing them as easy as possible, and that will even be handled by someone else, which is why I went ahead and picked yarns that I knew would be super-soft even though they require being washed by hand. Plus, you know, any excuse to knit with Twist.

Since Natural Stitches was running a sale that if you wear a handknit shawl into the store this weekend they'll give you 10% off your whole purchase, and they'd apparently just gotten in a big shipment of Dream in Color, and I was there for hat stuff anyhow, I went ahead and picked up a skein of Classy in the colorway Cloud Jungle.

To knit up that Rhossili Hat from Wendy Knits Lace. And thus I used up the last bit of Christmas money I'd been saving in my emergency yarn fund. So no more new yarn until my birthday, but I think I've got quite enough to keep me busy until then.

I got it all wound up, with assistance from Oz, who is still diligently trying to convince me that wool is for eating, silly human, not using sticks to play with it. I do have a swift (a gorgeous handmade swift that a friend who is very talented in woodcrafting made for me; I knit him a hat, scarf, and pair of fingerless gloves in exchange for it) but it's kind of a hassle to pull it out and get everything clamped to the dining room table, so unless I have to wind large quantities of yarn I just use this chair, whose arms happen to be perfectly spaced for holding a hank of yarn.

I'm still sorting through hat patterns, so I plan to spend tonight thinking it over while continuing Secret Project. Then tomorrow I'll hop into hat world.

Springtime and the Return of the Wacket

2012-04-02 02:30:01 +0000

We're officially into springtime now, and unlike years past when I look outside at the grey skies and the snow and I'm still bundling myself into a winter coat/gloves/hat/scarf to set foot outside, this year it actually feels like spring. The sun is shining, the mama bird is back, there were several days I wore a t-shirt to work last week, and my flowers have really started to bloom...

...along with everything else in that bed. Oops, guess I need to get out there and weed it.

Most importantly (and completely unrelated to springtime) is the return of Pyewacket. Though she came back home week before last, she was still recovering and (quite understandably) was not really herself. On Tuesday she got her stitches out and we let her out of the spare bedroom, which she seemed to think was a kitty prison. Now she's gained back most of her weight, she doesn't have to wear that awful collar anymore, she's been very playful and affectionate, and most telling of all, she's reclaimed her favorite napping spot on the bed.

Jason and I are both very relieved to have her back to normal with this whole broom-munching adventure safely behind us.

In knitting news, I've just finished up Fibonacci. The jury's still out on whether or not I'm going to add fringe to it. I think I've got enough yarn left over to do that, but I haven't yet sat down and figured it out for sure. I've got plenty of time, since I'm not going to be able to wear it until November or December anyway. Anyhow, it's been a nice and relaxing project and it's certainly served its purpose well through all my stress. But now I'm looking for something a bit more challenging.

Unfortunately I'm looking at the next projects I've got queued up and I'm not seeing anything particularly challenging ahead. There's:

Other projects I've got planned but am not quite set up for include: my Tardis Socks (a little bit of colorwork), plain vanilla socks for that skein of Cascade Superwash in Hawaiian Nights as well as my skeins of Knitpicks Stroll in Time Traveler and Rainbow, and Clara Vest (all garter stitch). And then there are Sarah's Belated Birthday Socks which I may be driven to in desperation. I think those complicated lace charts will scratch this itch I've got.

The thing I am really craving, however, is cables. Lots of complex meandering cables. A big sweater's worth of 'em. I'm resisting on this because A) I don't have a cabled sweater's worth of yarn and don't want to buy more, especially what with Wacket's Broom Adventure putting a dent in my bank account, and B) It was 80 out earlier this week, why would I do with a cabled sweater now, though to be fair I probably wouldn't finish it until next winter anyhow, and C) I'll start off merrily enough and then ten rows in I'll have managed to screw up all the charts and frog it a bunch and I'll have remembered how much I hate cables and be ready to use the knitting needles to poke my own eyes out and there will be lots of swearing and possibly tears and then Jason will give me That Look and I don't want to get That Look.*

I should just stick with those damn socks.

 *That Look says oh-so-precisely and without any words necessary "Sometimes I'm not at all sure why you do this to yourself. You claim you knit to relax but right now you look ready to scream and pitch that thing out the window, needles and all. Maybe you should set that aside for a little while, or perhaps take up a more relaxing hobby."

Springtime

2012-03-26 03:17:41 +0000

Things are looking up. Pyewacket is home and recovering nicely. She's very happy to be back though is somewhat less-than-pleased with the Elizabethan collar she's forced to wear, as well as not being allowed in the rest of the house. We've turned the spare bedroom into a little kitty recovery ward and that's where she gets to stay until she gets her stitches out on Tuesday. Other than being miffed at her confinement and new fashion, she's very loving and affectionate, is eating really well, and is even starting to get some of her energy back! She was playing a little bit today, but got tired pretty quick and curled up to get some more sleep.

The weather is also getting warmer. My garden is starting to bloom. Just the daffodils now, but the tulips are starting to come up. Of course, this is just letting me see all the bulbs I missed when I dug up the flowerbeds last fall and added the stone border. Sigh

Jason and I have been taking long walks around the neighborhood and I've been messing around with Instagram and taking some pretty neat pictures.

And in knitting news, well, still not a heck of a lot. Putting some more length on Fibonacci. Nearly done, there. Maybe this week.

Pyewacket

2012-03-20 03:04:50 +0000

So, it's been a while again. Life has been kind of crazy and very stressful. I feel like that excuse is starting to wear a little thing, but hey! so are my nerves.

Pyewacket has been in the kitty hospital for nearly a week now. Weekend before last we noticed she wasn't eating much and not quite as active, and by Tuesday morning she wasn't eating hardly at all, so in to the vet she went. Turns out she'd munched on the bristles of our broom and swallowed a piece that poked through her insides and set off an infection. After surgery to remove the piece, she's now doing much better, though still not home yet. We're hoping soon! It was very worrying for a while, but (knock on wood) I think this adventure is going to have a happy ending.

The good part of worry? I needed something mindless in my hands so the Fibonacci scarf has gotten lots of work. This weekend it was warm enough to sit out on my porch and work on it for a while, and that's what I did on Sunday morning -- I sat out there with a mug of tea and my knitting and just enjoyed the beautiful weather. I'd love to get the porch swing out there, but we have a visitor.

This mama bird shows up every spring and hangs out here until her babies are big enough to fly off. I don't mind her so much, but she poops all over everything, and since my porch swing hangs just beside the column she's picked out for herself... yeah. So until she's gone and my porch swing is safe, I'll just keep dragging my chair outside.

I tried to take BastardCat out there with me this weekend. He really really REALLY wants to go outside, so we got him a leash and harness and he's willing to tolerate it if he gets to be out of the house. So I hooked him up and tied the end of my leash to the chair so he couldn't wander off. Well, BastardCat was having none of that. He wandered over to the edge of the porch and, before I could move to stop him, squeezed between the slats of the railing and jumped down, using his momentum and weight to wrench himself free of the harness, and took off for the neighbor's house. I caught up with him in their backyard and picked him up and tossed him back in the house, where he spent the next hour lurking around the storm door in the hopes that it would open and he could sneak out again. He's awful. And utterly unrepentant.

Still, I was able to ignore him and put another six inches on Fibonacci. That's pretty much all I've been working on lately. I haven't touched Boneyard in about two weeks, and despite needing only another four or five inches plus cuff, I still haven't finished my raglan sweater. Now that it's too hot to wear a big bulky thing like that, my motivation for getting it done has dropped to zero. Typical. I think I need to force myself to finish it anyhow so if the temperature happens to dip low enough I can get at least one wear out of it before packing it away for the summer.

And then I need to start on some warm-weather knitting.

March

2012-03-09 03:58:32 +0000

I just realized that it's March. I mean, I knew that it was March, but I didn't realize what it being March actually meant. It means that I've handily accomplished my Knit From The Stash resolution! Well, mostly. I did buy yarn, but part of it was yarn for a commissioned Christmas gift that I'm not going to knit until summer probably because I'm a procrastinator like that, and I also bought the yarn for Jason's Valentine socks. But neither of those are for me, and I knit up the Valentine socks right away so it didn't languish in the stash, plus that was on sale. Are you buying any of this justification? Because it sounds pretty good to me. So, yes. New year's not-buying-new-yarn-for-2-months resolution: accomplished!

I am now into my "goal" of making it through the end of March without buying yarn and I think I can do it. I nearly fell down on that this past weekend when Jason stopped by the game store to preorder Mass Effect 3, and I went along because the LYS is right next door (handy!) and I got to browse. I nearly bought a skein of Dream in Color yarn to make this hat. It's from Wendy Johnson's latest book, Wendy Knits Lace and I am obsessed with it. It's cute and looks quick and the lace is pretty but still simple enough to memorize the pattern and I just want it want it want it! And this is even one of the few patterns where I want it exactly how it looks in the picture, but alas. The LYS was out of the colorway Cloud Jungle. The Good Luck Jade colorway was sort of close, but not close enough. So I left empty-handed but with my goal intact. Maybe if I make it through March, I'll buy a skein in April, as a reward for, uh, not buying yarn. Oh, irony.

Of course, knitting that hat may be setting me off down a slippery slope. My usual rule for buying a book of patterns is if there's 4-5 things in it that I want to make. Wendy's book? I want to knit ALL THE THINGS. And as if that's not temptation enough, a lot of the recommended yarns are Dream in Color. DiC is like my kryptonite. A shawlette in Classy? Yes please. A larger shawl made out of Smooshy? Why thank you, but won't that be nicer in Smooshy with Cashmere? There's only one pattern in the book that I don't want to make, that that's for a pair of sockweight mittens with a lace pattern down the back of the hand. I think they're pretty, but the practical side of me can't help but point out that if it's cold enough to wear mittens then it's too frigging cold to wear something with decorative holes all over it.

I have heard some complaints about this book that a lot of the patterns are "too easy" which I'm totally okay with. If I recall correctly, the Lace Stripe Scarf  was the one singled out in particular. But if you'll read the pattern description, you'll see it's aimed at a beginner. It's also one of the patterns on my list of things to make just because I enjoy mindless knitting, and I think this scarf is cute. (Probably won't knit it any time soon, though. Fibonacci has actually got me craving complex cables or charted lace. Maybe it'll give me the kick in the pants that I need to get me to finally finish SBBS.) I think everything in the book is adorable and I want to make everything, eventually.

For now, I still have plenty of other things that require my attention. I put another couple of inches into Fibonacci last night, and for some reason I just couldn't face it again tonight. I debated casting on my Honey Cowl, and even went so far as to dig out appropriately sized circs for it and start swatching before the phrase "cast on 300+ stitches" flittered through my brain and I set it aside again. I pulled out SBBS, took one glance at that stupid lace chart and shoved it away again. Finally I ended up dragging out my poor neglected raglan sweater, took a few minutes to decode exactly what the heck sort of decreases I did on the left sleeve and jot it down, then started knitting up the right one. Now that I've taken the guesswork (finally) out of making a sleeve that fits, it's just flying along. I suppose the bulky yarn and size US 10.5 needles don't exactly hurt that, either. I'll be looking forward to finally getting this thing out of the WIP drawer and into my closet. Maybe I can even wear it this weekend.

I'm sort of surprised I was able to settle back down with my poor unloved raglan so easily, actually. The Spring/Summer 2012 issue of Knitty just came out yesterday, and that usually marks the point where I'm ready to knit more summery lacy-type things. I'm pretty excited about this issue of Knitty. I especially love the Gemini Pullover -- short sleeves, lace, knit from cotton yarn. So summery. In the meantime, I've got this bulky beast of a raglan sweater to finish up. Sigh. At least the temperature's dropped enough again that I'll get some use out of it...

Bookish

2012-03-08 03:13:48 +0000

You know, for a blog with the word "bibliophile" in the title, I sure don't talk about books terribly often. I always keep meaning to change that, and then I just... don't.

It's not that I'm not reading, it's just that I'm not blogging about it. Well, that's going to change!

Last night I just finished up Simon R. Green's latest installment in his Nightside series: The Bride Wore Black Leather. Now, I have been reading Green's work for nearly a decade now. To say I'm a big fan of his writing would be putting it mildly. I love his Nightside books. The world is so vivid, the characters are so vibrant, but the books are light enough to be an afternoon's reading. But this latest one... I don't know, it just felt scattered and sort of disjointed. Like it was several separate novellas smushed together with the plots loosely pulled together at the end just for the sake of saying "Look! These events really are connected!"

Speaking of connecting things, Green has also been much more overt in referencing his own works than he used to. Even as of just five or so years ago, the references used to be vague. A character or a place mentioned in multiple series, or an off-hand comment that could be a self-reference if you tilted your head and squinted just right. But now there's blatant cross-overs of different characters, and other characters discussing events that happened in books from a different series. And yeah, it's just so... heavy-handed. Not that I'd ever accuse Green of being particularly subtle. But this is pushing it, even for him. Of course I'll stick with him, because I do still love his writing and his astounding creativity in developing setting and minor characters. But The Bride Wore Black Leather was the only book I've read by him where I was left feeling 'meh' about when I finished. The next book of his Secret Histories series comes out in June, so hopefully this was just a one-off thing for him.

Now I'm on to Down These Strange Streets, an anthology of urban fantasy short fiction. Simon R Green's name on the cover caught my eye initially, and I would have gotten it even if he was the only name I recognized. But it also includes contributions from Carrie Vaughn, Charlaine Harris, and M.L.N Hanover. And to top it off, it was edited by George R R Martin. I'm only four stories in, but am greatly enjoying it thus far.

In knitting news, I'm still working away on my Fibonacci scarf. I've got three feet of it now, and the striped sections are starting to get much longer, which is great as far as I'm concerned because that's less ends to weave in. Jason is currently playing through Mass Effect 3, so it's nice to have something mindless in my hands while I watch. Now that I'm no longer trying to re-teach myself how to knit, I'm not sure why I don't just jump on in to Honey Cowl territory. Maybe something about the fact that I'd have to cast on 300+ stitches has a little something to do with it... Just maybe. I really need to bite the bullet and get on with it, if I want to have any chance of wearing it before the weather gets too warm for it.

Speaking of warm weather, today the temperature hit a whopping 65 degrees. I was able to walk to lunch today without my coat. I drove in today with the car windows down just because I could. Of course, tomorrow it's supposed to rain and by Friday the high is back down to 41. I'm totally ready for summer. Long days, warm weather, can't happen soon enough to suit me! I'm counting the days until it's warm enough to drag the porch swing back out of storage. Nothing better than coming home after work on a warm summer evening, going for a run, then coming home and sitting out on the porch swing as the sun sets. Soon, my precious, soon...

Relearning to Knit

2012-03-06 02:00:57 +0000

Last week I wound up my skein of Wollmeise. I hadn't finished my sweater and I hadn't finished Jason's socks. I thought I would, and I feel like I should have after all of the knitting I've been doing on them. And then I thought back and I realized that I actually hadn't done all that much knitting at all. There were a few days last week when I didn't even touch the needles.

So I made myself a deal, because, you know, bribery is always the easiest way to get me to do something (take note, I am especially easily bribed with yarn!) If I finished the gusset decreases on Jason's second sock, then I could play with the Wollmeise and my ballwinder. And I finished. So I did.

Then, with it sitting beside me and begging to be cast on, Jason's sock just flew off the needles. I knit the biggest chunk of the foot while watching Big Bang Theory, then finished up the toe last night.

And now I'm almost ready to cast on for my Honey Cowl. Almost.

See, recently I evaluated the way that I knit. You've heard me complain before about how frustratingly slow I knit, especially compared with other bloggers. In just the new year, Kay is on her 6th Honey Cowl since the New Year. (I know, the mind boggles.) Mine, just the one, will probably take me two months to complete. I mean, a simple garter stitch washcloth is two days' worth of knitting for me, and other knitters can bang out one of those in an afternoon. So, yeah, I do get a little jealous when people talk about "oh I knit half a sweater last night" or "look at this shawl I finished in a week!" or whatever. I know it's silly and it's not a competition or a race and no one is grading me on knitting, and it's what I do to relax for crying out loud. But still, I'd like to be faster at it.

So I sat down and took a good long look at the way I knit. I do knit English, because I crochet and am used to holding yarn in my left hand for crocheting so trying to hold the yarn Continental plays merry hell with my tension. Also, I hate purling Continental. So, I hold the working yarn in my right hand, looped once around my middle finger and then clockwise over my forefinger. But if I loop it the other way over my forefinger, I'm able to "flick" the yarn into position without letting go of the needle. I just had to figure out how to hold the yarn to keep my tension even.

What I need, I thought to myself, is practice. I went for a little dig through the stash and came out with this... two skeins of Red Heart Soft yarn in eye-searing green and blue. I figured I'd just cast on a bunch of stitches and just work in garter stitch until this feels comfortable. I ended up going with a Fibonacci sequence of striping, and since it's nerdy I'm hoping that the fact that it's also lime green and turquoise will keep Jason from stealing it like he did my Electron Emission Spectra of Hydrogen scarf. Anyhow, I love bright colors, I love garter stitch, I love scarves, and I really want to learn to knit faster. So this is a winning idea, right?

Wrong. I love bright colors, garter stitch, and scarves, but after two days and a foot and a half of garter stitch, I'm not knitting any faster. I'm not clumsy at it anymore, which is good, but my speed quickly leveled out at pretty much were I am when I knit the old way. AND at the expense of my hands -- after a while the tendons on the back of my index and middle fingers of my right hand start to twinge, and despite not doing anything noticeably different with my left hand, it begins to cramp up too. I don't know, maybe I'll keep at it, maybe I won't. Really, I just need to learn to accept that I'm a slow knitter and probably always will be. I'll probably finish this scarf, because luckily despite knitting differently my guage is the same. And I do love bright garter stitch scarves...

Quincy

2012-02-27 03:49:39 +0000

Finally got around to getting some pictures of Quincy. The sun came out for a while and I flung myself at the opportunity, as did others of the four-pawed variety.

Surprisingly, BastardCat was nowhere to be seen, but never fear -- Yarneater was more than willing to take his place. I'm sure the wool had nothing to do with luring her around.

So, Quincy. The fit is a little loose and it looks weird if I try to put it on with my hair in a ponytail. But I like it. It'll be nice for transitional weather of the spring and fall.

I used up some of the leftovers from a cropped sweater I'd knit out of Knitpicks City Tweed Heavy Worsted in the colorway Lemon Curd. This only used a little over half a skein, and I still have some of this left over. I'm thinking maybe a matching set of mitts, possibly a cowl as well. I've got a little under two skeins left.

Still knitting away on Jason's socks. Up to the heel turn of the second one, so hopefully I'll be done with them in the next few days. Although that's what I sort of recall saying last week, so we'll see what happens.

Also still resisting the urge to skein up my Wollmeise for my Honey Cowl. So far managing to resist, but only just.

Happy Windsday, Piglet!

2012-02-24 22:26:35 +0000

Sitting here near the window, watching the clouds gliding overhead, watching the stubbornest of the dead leaves shivering on the near-bare branches of the trees, watching the birds fight their way through the air. Every so often, the wind moans against the window or flings my stormdoor open against the side of the house. The cats jump  every time it happens. This takes me back to years ago in Florida, listening to the wind wailing through the mail-slot in the front door

It's been a rather lovely Friday off so far. Got up as late as BastardCat would allow me to sleep in (not as late as I wanted, he started his shenanigans at 9:30) and then I read for a while until Jason came by to pick me up and take me out to lunch and we got really cheap Hibachi at a place that just opened near his work. Then I came home and cleaned up the house a bit and now I've sat down near the window to work up a blog post cause it's been a while and all. Then I plan on reading some more and later this evening we've got a D&D session planned.

While I had my computer out, I stopped by to browse a few other knitting blogs to sort of spark my blogging creativity. I've always been influenced very strongly by what others do. Always have been, always will be. And the best way to get me to put together a blog post is to stop by a couple of other blogs on the same topic, because that always makes me want to do what they did.

So, naturally, when I stopped by Mason-Dixon Knitting and saw that Kay has just posted pictures of her Honey Cowl #5 and purchased yarn for her Honey Cowl #6, at some point while drooling over all the lovely pictures and how nice it turned out I decided that I needed a Honey Cowl of my very own. And then I started thinking about how the lovely but simple texture would be great for showing off a variegated yarn. And the next thing I knew, I went digging around in The Stash and pulled out this...

Yep, that's one of my precious, precious skeins of Wollmeise, purchased from the brick-and-mortar Wollmeise store when I was in Germany for my honeymoon a year and a half ago. If you'll recall, as my birthday present Jason took me in there and let me spend a somewhat frightening amount of Euros -- I say only "somewhat" because we'd managed to time things so we were there during their summer sale when they slash the prices to get rid of skeins that are slightly underweight or have a knot or are otherwise undesireable in some way. I bought two skeins of the 80/20 Twin, four skeins of the 100% Wool, and one hank of laceweight with enough yardage that I'm pretty sure I could knit a cosy for my refrigerator out of it. (Seriously, 1700 yds. The hank is practically the size of my head.)

Since then, those poor skeins have been languishing away in the depths of The Stash. Whenever I go diving into the sockweight bin, I take them out and admire them and, I admit this at the risk of sounding like a real weirdo, I give them a sniff because the smell of the Wollmeise store still lingers on them. It is a magical smell. BastardCat agrees. Mmm, Wollmeise....

Ahem. Anyhow. Moving on.

Since then, as I was saying, those poor skeins of precious, precious Wollmeise have been lying alone and neglected (though very much loved) in The Stash, watching sadly as I come by to take away those skeins of Knitpicks Imagination for a Baktus, or that skein of Aisling Yarns to become Boneyard, or that Malabrigo Lace for my Citron, or even that Knitpicks Stroll in Sprinkle Heather to make my sock marker. I bet that one especially stung, how could I possibly choose that common less-than-$5-a-skein hussy-yarn over you, right??

Well, I'd love to knit with you, dear Wollmeise. But once I do, then you will be gone. Gone forever. I feel like I need to take my time and find The Perfect Pattern for each skein of it, to really get the most out of it.

I know in my head how ridiculous this is. Yes, I have a small stash of Wollmeise, and yes, it is difficult to get more, but it's not impossible. All I need to do is wait for a Friday update and order it online. And yes, once I knit it up then I will not have it anymore, but it's not like the minute I finish binding off it will disappear -- I'll end up with a lovely FO to keep and wear and love. And as far as finding The Perfect Pattern? Yes, I want a Finished Object that I'm going to absolutely love knit up in a pattern that showcases everything Wollmeise has to offer, but if I don't like how something is looking or, heaven forbid, I finish it completely and it doesn't look right then? I rip out the whole thing and start over. That's the wonderful thing about yarn and knitting: it can always be undone.

I know all of this, but still I was still waiting for a pattern to speak to me.

And lo, Honey Cowl has spoken.

I have not cast on yet. I haven't even wound up my skein of yarn into a centerpull cake yet because I'm sure once I do I'm going to cast on right away. I want to finish Jason's Valentine socks (the first of which is done already and #2 is rapidly heading for the heel!) as well as the second sleeve on my raglan sweater. So, hopefully the first week of March.

I did not, however, put that skein of Wollmeise back in The Stash. It's sitting on my knitting table where I can gaze lovingly upon it. I certainly can't toss it back in with its fellow Wollmeise skeins; I think they'd turn on it out of sheer jealously for being the first Chosen One of their lot.

Fear not, Wollmeise, fear not. Someday your turn will come too. I just need to find a pattern first.

2012-02-19 02:33:36 +0000

The single thing I hate the most about winter -- and there's so many things to choose from but yes, I am able to narrow it down to one -- is how early it gets dark. We're out of the worst of it, where 3 o'clock feels like early evening and it's black out by 5, but it's still well into night by the time I get home at 6:30. Though this winter has been incredibly mild and free of any heavy snow, the lack of sunlight is really starting to weigh on me.

It occurs to me that now would be a great time for some of that yarn I bought for just this occasion -- Dream in Color Knitosophy in Blossom, or that Paigewood Farms Alyeska in Snow Pea, or even that skein of Cascade 220 Superwash in Hawaiian Nights, since I can't seem to knit much else besides socks lately -- to put a little color back into my evenings. Instead, what am I knitting with now?

Sidenote: Another reason I hate it getting dark so early? No natural sunlight for taking pictures.

This is Jason's Valentine's day present, knit in Cascade 220 worsted in Aporto (scored on sale for 10% off, nyah!) I took him along to the yarn store and had him pick out some yarn for another pair of house socks since he's well on his way to wearing his other pair to pieces. I cast on late on Tuesday night, and despite not touching them at all on Wednesday the first one is already nearing the halfway point. This is what I love so much about worsted weight socks (other than wearing them on chilly winter days, of course!) An episode of Body of Proof, and I've got a cuff. Another couple hours and I'm done with the leg. I'm hoping to have the pair finished by early next week.

Speaking of finished things, I've got FOs to share! Katie's bootsocks are done, and have already gone off to their new home.

Nani's socks are packaged up and waiting to be shipped off to Florida. They got a wash in some lovely scented Soak and they really softened up nicely. I also finished my Quincy Hat, picture forthcoming on that, though it may be a while since me being home needs to not only coincide with it being sunny outside but also my hair not looking awful. We'll see. AND, since I needed size 10.5 US DPNs to knit the top of Quincy and my set was currently entangled in the partially knit sleeve of my green raglan, I was finally motivated to just frigging finish it already. So, yay, raglan has one sleeve! And now that Quincy is done the needles are free to knit the second. Maybe I'll even end up with it done before it gets too warm to wear it this year.

In between that I've also managed to put another half an inch on my Boneyard Scarf. Of course, since last I mentioned its horrible pooling and how I didn't care, it's now stopped pooling and begun distributing the colors nicely across its rows. I still don't care. Even though I love the mindlessness of the stockinette, it's slow going on it because of the color. I get enough of muddy browns and struggling splotches of deep evergreen around the city this time of year, thanks.

My fingers are really itching to cast on with that DiC Knitosophy and I'm daydreaming about what pattern I'd pick for all those riotous pinks and oranges, but I want to work through more of my WIP list first:

My Quincy Hat was a lovely goldenrod shade of yellow with just enough black/brown/off-white tweedy bits thrown in to subdue it and I very much enjoyed knitting with it, but that project is done with now.

Maybe some dishcloths, quick and easy projects to sneak in a bit of color.

BastardCat has no opinion on the matter.

He does, however, point out that it is dinnertime.