More giftknitting

2011-10-21 00:30:53 +0000

Epic Wedding Shawl is still unblocked. However, I have the day off work tomorrow so I'll be taking care of it then. It's so big that it won't fit on my regular foam blocking squares, so instead I'll have to use the bed which means that I need to do it on a day when I A) have the entire day to let it dry, and B) am home because I have an idiot cat that tries to eat pins that needs to be kept away from the bed for the day. When I'm home, the cats tend to hang out wherever I am, so hopefully that'll be enough to keep them distracted and away from their normal daytime napping spot.

In the meantime, I've continued work on Secret Gift #4, which is coming along just swimmingly and I am nearing the end of it. I'm so in love with it, and would be sorely tempted to keep it for myself but thank goodness it's not my size at all, so I'm not having any problems resisting (though I did add a couple more skeins of the lovely yarn I'm using (Cascade Baby Alpaca -- soooo soft and snuggly) to my mental wishlist to make one for me as well when all of this Christmas Knitting Madness is over with. I've also started work on Not-So-Secret Gift #1 -- thick house socks for Jason.

Knitted out of Patons Classic Wool in Light Grey Marl. I started these last Saturday during the Paul and Storm concert I went to (which was absolutely frigging awesome!) and knit up to the heel flap, then worked the rest of the heel and gusset decreases in the evenings here.

Last night I made Jason try them on, and unfortunately it appears that my math was flawed (surprise surprise...) and they're just a bit too tight. I'm very confused how this happened. I found a pattern for men's socks knit in a similar worsted weight yarn at the same gauge I was getting, and that pattern recommended casting on 40 stitches to start. That seemed really small to me (since I cast on 44 stitches for a pair of aran-weight socks for my own tiny feet) so I did a little bit of math and came up with 56 as a number. I knit the ribbing and put that on  Jason's foot (since that's how I "swatch" for my own socks) and it was a bit loose, so I went down 4 stitches and did it again and it fit. Now it's too tight. Sigh.

I'm resisting frogging because I really really don't want to start over, which also confuses me because these worked up super fast, so it's not like I have a ton of time invested in them already...

With perfect timing to cheer me up from that little setback, I got a box from KnitPicks in the mail...

Lots of pretty pretty yarn inside. Two skeins of Stroll handpaint in Lullaby was the reason for placing the order. A coworker commissioned a pair of boot socks, and the Stroll held doubled makes a sturdy, warm fabric. Then, since if I'm making an order I might as well go for the free shipping, I added four skeins of City Tweed HW in Blueblood to make a Clara Vest, which has been in my queue for ages now. And then enough Felici for two pairs of socks, one each in Time Traveler (which was necessary because I'm a great big nerd) and in Rainbow (which was necessary because of my inexplicable attraction to eye-searingly bright things.) I'm especially thrilled with the Rainbow, which is far less primary that it appeared in the pictures on the website and far more highlighter bright in person. It has gone to languish with my skein of DiC Knitosophy in by bribe yarn pile.

Now, I'm off to cast on a slightly larger sock.

DONE DONE DONE

2011-10-17 04:29:45 +0000

It's official! Epic Wedding Shawl is off the needles!! Sure, the bind-off took me over three hours (all 1152 stitches of it) and that's not including the first bind-off I started to do but had to unpick because I fail at reading instructions and didn't knit the last two lines of the pattern, which was actually unnecessary because it turns out the last two lines of the pattern aren't actually part of the pattern pattern but the designer's suggestion for a stretchy bind-off which was different than the bind-off that I was using, so I ended up doing that, and then using Jeny's Suprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off on top of it. So now I'm a bit worried that the bind-off is TOO stretchy, but the rational part of my brain keeps yelling at me "It's a gigantic circle that you want to have a swoopy border -- there's no such thing as TOO stretchy in that circumstance!!!"

I'm needing to make a bigger blog post (with pictures!) but in the meantime, I think I just need sleep. I'm too rambly. So, I'll just post a quick list of things to look forward to:

Stay tuned, kids.

Weekend o' knitting

2011-10-10 02:26:20 +0000

It's been a very busy weekend, knitting-wise. It's always amazing just how much I can get done when I actually, you know, knit?

Saturday,  I started off with an LSG meetup, which was pretty great. I got some work done on Secret Christmas Knitting Project #4, which is now about a quarter of the way done, and Not-so-Secret Christmas Knitting Project #3, which is complete!

It's a square of tunisian simple stitch with a three round border of single-crochet, and a loop on one corner for hanging it on stuff. Pretty happy with the way the yarn worked up, and yay having one Christmas project down! Only a-number-larger-than-I-feel-comfortable-thinking-about left to go!

While hanging out with friends and a pretty awesome D&D one-shot session, I started this since it's simple and mindless, and Epic Wedding Shawl was still not playing nicely.

(You'll notice Ozzy lurking about. She kept trying to make off with the unknit ball, but I valiantly defended my wool and thwarted her vile efforts at yarn-thievery!)

It's a basic triangle shawl knit in Knitpicks Stroll Handpaint in the colorway Tiger. When I get near the end, I'm going to put a fairly simple lace pattern along the edges for the border. This'll be a gift (Not-so-Secret Gift #6) for my mother. Giving each other animal-print things is something of a running joke between us, and when I saw this colorway available, I absolutely could not resist ordering it. It's been languishing in The Stash for a while as I tried to figure out what to make with it, and finally I just asked her what she would like. She requested a triangle shawlette, so here we are.

It's gone into hibernation at least until the next time I need something mindless to work on, but I have to admit that it's been all I can think about. I am so incredibly charmed by how the colorway is working up. I was afraid there would be all sorts of awful pooling, as I experienced with the Knitpicks Imagination yarn, but the color sequences are so short that I'm not really having any trouble with that, and I'm happy with how random it's coming out. When this yarn was in a hank and then a yarncake, it mostly looked orange and black with some mild color variations mixed in. But knit up, all the subtly different shades of orange are coming out, and there's even a bit of brown in it. Love love love.

I dutifully managed to put it away this afternoon in favor of spending some more quality time with Epic Wedding Shawl. After the earlier failed attempts at the set-up round for the lace border section I finally gave up on any pretense of being able to focus or count. I got a needle and threaded it with a bit of scrap sock-weight yarn to use as an easily insertable/easily removable stitch marker. I counted out nine stitches, inserted the darning needle and scrap yarn, knit that repeat, removed the scrap yarn, counted the next nine stitches, and threaded the darning needle through again. Rinse and repeat for 576 stitches. Tedious, but I finally FINALLY ended up with the correct number of stitches. I don't want to come out and say that it's going to be smooth sailing from here, because that would be stupid and just asking for disaster to strike. But I do have high hopes of getting this sucker done by next weekend.

I know I'm consistently over-ambitious, but I feel that I'm not being unreasonable about this. (Knock on wood.) But just to show that I didn't completely regain my sense of reason and logic, I stopped by the yarn store on Friday afternoon and picked up a few skeins of yarn for another Secret Christmas Project I tacked on the list last-minute. Very excited about this new project, since it involves double-knitting and I've never done that before.

It just now occurs to me that trying a brand new technique for a project with a deadline might not be the wisest idea I've ever had. Hmm...

While I was there, since it's the annual inventory sale at Natural Stitches, I grabbed a skein of Dream in Color Knitosophy in the colorway Blossom. DiC is absolutely my most favoritest yarn ever in the whole wide world. Soft and squishy and the colors are just gorgeous. Anyhow, I absolutely could not resist this yarn...

All the hot pinks and bright oranges... though it's a bit more subtle than this in person, or else I have a very different dye lot that this picture I just grabbed online. Mine has those shockingly bright colors intermingled with softer peachy shades. Anyhow, I'm using it as my own personal bribe yarn for finishing Christmas knitting. I can play with this when I finish with that. It's just a bonus that by the time I finish my Christmas Knitting, I'll be into Winter with its gloomy grey days and early nightfall, and something bright and cheery will be exactly what I'm craving.

But for now, the weather is mild, the leaves on the trees are just beginning to burst into color, and I've got a date with another round or two of Epic Wedding Shawl before I call it a night.

Well, it happened...

2011-10-06 02:14:21 +0000

I knew it would happen sooner or later. Epic Wedding Shawl was just behaving too nicely for it to continue. I was ahead of schedule, I was having no troubles, I was enjoying myself...

I reached the edging, and the lace pattern for that starts after two plain knitted rounds. Blithely carrying on, I started that first set-up round, and at the end of it I had two extra stitches. Irritated but unwilling to fudge the stitch count on something that's a gift for someone else, I sighed a bit, and tinked back 576 frigging stitches. Concentrating now, I attempted the round again. And when I reached the end of it this time, I was short three stitches. After some distinctly unladylike language, I set about tinking back again. Now I'm back where I was before all that wasted time and frustration. I'm waiting until I'm able to lock myself in a room, alone, with no distractions. Because that's apparently what it takes for me to be able to count to nine reliably multiple times in a row.

In the meantime, because I can't watch tv with empty hands...

Yeah. I know. But it's pretty much exactly what I need right now. Simple. Repetitive. And, above all, short, so as not to distract me from Epic Wedding Shawl for very long. Just a simple washcloth, 31 stitches wide (because I apparently cannot count to 30 reliably either...), worked in tunisian simple stitch until I have a square, then I'll slap a crocheted border on that sucker to keep the curl out of it.

Hopefully by the time I finish it I'll be ready to tackle Epic Wedding Shawl again.

Oh, temptation...

2011-10-02 03:15:37 +0000

The urge to cast on something new is almost overwhelming. Epic Wedding Shawl is nearly complete. I've finished the last lace round, and now just have to knit the edging and I'm free to knit ALL THE THINGS.

In the meantime, however, the awful and extremely convincing Voice of Temptation is busy whispering in my ears. The weather here is so grey and gloomy that I'm really craving something brighter. And besides, I've got nearly a month to get this done, so taking a little break from Epic Wedding Shawl for a day or so would be absolutely fine and, really, for the best. After all, a little time away for each other would only make us appreciate each other that much more when we are reunited.

But I'm not going to set foot down that path because once I do I know there's no way back. I'll just keep casting on things and knitting for a bit and then ditching it like a bad boyfriend and casting on something new JUST BECAUSE I CAN. And then that will just keep going on and on and nothing will get finished and it will all end in tears.

Sigh.

Stay strong, Leandra, you're nearly there...

busybusybusy

2011-09-26 02:14:18 +0000

Right now, I am sitting on my sofa, watching the Steelers game and knitting away on Epic Wedding Shawl. The only thing ruining my otherwise perfect night is the unfortunate knowledge that today is Sunday, which means that tomorrow is Monday and the start of my week. I haven't had a weekend.

Friday, I cleaned my house and got caught up on chores. Saturday I worked and then came home and planted daffodil and tulip bulbs in my front garden. The previous owners had planted these odd scruffy bush things randomly in front of the house, and we finally got around to digging them out and replanting there. Doesn't look like anything now, but it'll be lovely in the spring. Today, I worked, then came home and went for a run before throwing some laundry in the washer and settling in for the game. Whew.

Epic Wedding Shawl is coming along. I have three more lace pattern repeats before the edging. Nothing exciting to report there.

Because pictureless posts are boring, here's something I took a day or so away from Epic Wedding Shawl to make. I did a swap, and this little bookmark is something I made for my swap assignment.

I'm very pleased with them. Just basic cuff-down socks knit in a small amount of Knitpicks Stroll in the colorway Sprinkle Heather, and attached with a length of crochet chain. They worked up fast, and little things are so cute. I bet these would make nice Christmas ornaments. Maybe I could add some of those to my list...

First Day of Autumn

2011-09-23 21:46:24 +0000

Life is pretty darn good right now. The temperature is holding steady in the upper 60s, the leaves are just beginning to change on the trees just outside my windows, the day is drizzly and grey, and since I'm working this weekend I've got nowhere to be so I'm able to enjoy the rain from the comfort of home, secure in the knowledge that I don't have to go out in it. So far today I've gotten a lot of housework done, and now I'm enjoying a little bit of relaxing before I finish up my housework with vacuuming and some laundry. (exciting life I lead, no?)

Things in Yarnia are equally (un)exciting, which is a good thing. I got Epic Wedding Shawl back on the needles in just one episode of Warehouse 13, and I've been chugging away at it. Progress on it is slow but steady, and in just a few repeats of the lace pattern I'll be ready to move along to the edging. I can't wait to get this thing off the needles for good. I'm aiming to having it finished in the next couple of weeks, leaving me plenty of time for blocking. I am really looking forward to blocking it; blocking lace is always magical, and I can only imagine that the thrill I get from seeing a garbled mess of wool transform into a delicate swath of lace will be multiplied from starting out with a larger garbled mess.

After the demise of Epic Wedding Shawl, I'm going to be jumping right into Christmas Knitting. My plan last year of "I ain't knittin' nuthin' for nobody!" backfired when I determined that yes, indeed, I was going to knit things came in the second week of December. This year, I thought to myself, I will plan ahead! I will get the jump on Christmas Knitting and not be taken by surprise. This appears to be backfiring on me as well, because I keep adding projects to my list. "Eh, it's no big deal to add **insert whatever** since I've got plenty of time!"

Well, so far I'm at 15 items (including Sarah's Belated Birthday Socks) for sure, and another 2 "if I have time for it." Granted, only two of those projects are things that will take me a longer time to make. I managed to keep my sanity enough to plan out projects that are either A) smaller, B) in thicker yarn, or C) all of the above. So I should be okay as far as deadlines go. It is, however, going to make for some very boring blogging since I know some of the recipients do read this, so I won't be able to post pictures of pretty much anything. There's some things that I'm planning on mailing out early, since they're Christmas-related and I want the recipient to enjoy them right away instead of having to pack them away until next year.

So, difficult, but I'm pretty sure it's doable. After the seemingly-endless monogamy of Epic Wedding Shawl, I'm ready to go through a variety of quicker projects, especially since the excitement of getting Epic Wedding Shawl pinned to the blocking board will be great motivation. As well as the pile of yarn I've got set aside for Christmas Knitting. Some of it I'm just dying to play with.

We'll see how this goes...

Books, Yarn, Knitting, and More!

2011-09-21 01:32:00 +0000

I recently finished Joe Abercrombie's First Law trilogy. Several people I work with had recommended this series to me. One in particular had described it as, and I quote, "Non-stop action, like, with none of that talking bullshit." The series wasn't completely devoid of dialogue, but as promised, was very heavy on the action. The first book, The Blade Itself was particularly heavy on the action, but at the expense of plot. It was violent and action-packed and fast-paced, but at the end of the book, I didn't feel like we'd really gone anywhere. But it was a trilogy and I already had the second checked out from the library, so I gave it a go.

And am so glad I did. Before They Are Hanged was one of the best books I've read in a long while. All of the set-up and character development we got in between the action of the first book suddenly picked up, and the plot sped forward by leaps and bounds and there was plotting and intrigue and oh, the character growth! I couldn't put it down.

The trilogy finished up with Last Argument of Kings, which I just finished up this week. I feel like that the third book left a lot of loose ends and "what happens next?" questions hanging. However, I know Abercrombie's next two books, while they are stand-alone novels, do take place in this same world, so I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt there. Now, I normally try to avoid specifics in my book review so as to not be spoilery at all, but I will say this: Jezal dan Luthar underwent some of the most incredible character growth I'd encountered in a novel in Before They Are Hanged, and I didn't think it could get any more awesome than that. But then in Last Argument of Kings, he recognizes that he's changed so much, and indeed say to himself how different he has become... and then just at the end of the book shows that in some ways he absolutely hasn't changed at all. Fantastic, and I'll be definitely checking out his next books.

Anyhow, on to knitting! Epic Wedding Shawl is off the needles. I threaded it onto scrap yarn this weekend and blocked a slice of it to get an idea of how much the lace would expand. I measured the slice I blocked, then doubled it to get the shaw's diameter. As I suspected, Epic Wedding Shawl is not quite epic enough. But it's not as bad as I'd thought it be. So I need to get it back on the needles, knit a bit more of the lace section (I'd like to add another three inches or so which will give me six total inches for the shawl's width) then knit the border, bind off, block, and celebrate. Woo!

While Epic Wedding Shawl was drying enough for me to work on again, I picked up my Baktus. This poor thing has been on the needles since February. I actually already "finished" it, but came up way short on the end of it. I should not have come up short. I knit the shawl from two balls of yarn. Each ball is the same weight. I increased with the first one, switched to the second when that ran out and began decreasing. There is absolutely no reason why I should have run out of yarn SIX INCHES from the end. The second side was also inexplicably wider than the first half. I used the same needles, and there was no pause between when I knit the first half and when I knit the second half. There's no reason why my gauge could have changed so drastically that I ran out of yarn SIX INCHES from the end. I chalked it up to yet more evidence that I have somehow again displeased the knitting gods.

So I ripped back the entire second ball of yarn, then ripped out an inch from the second ball and began decreasing. At that point I was pretty sick of this project so I knit on it for a bit, then shoved it in a bag and forgot about it. I only ended up pulling it out because I'm still striving for project monogamy with Epic Wedding Shawl and I know that once I cast on a new project, it's all over. And, frankly, it would be sort of pathetic to fall down on that this late into it. I just have to hold on a little longer, and then I can knit all of the socks and hats and, yes, the fingerless gloves that I want.

In planning for this oh-so-glorious and forthcoming day, I went to Local BigBox Craft Store this weekend where I had a very awesome coupon for 15% off my entire purchase. In an effort to avoid the Christmas Knitting Woes I decided to get an early jump on it this year instead of going "I'm not going to knit a stitch for anyone this Christmas!" and then starting my Christmas knitting halfway through December and driving myself into a profound state of derangement trying to get it all finished in time. I haven't actually started any of my knitting yet, thanks to my [loving and committed] relationship with Epic Wedding shawl. But thanks to a sale and a very patient Jason, I've got all my supplies ready to go. I've got all my woolly ducks in a row, and the minute I've got that sucker pinned to the blocking board I'll be off and running.

I'm taking bets on how long this great motivation will last once I'm officially free to knit ALL THE THINGS. We'll see, I guess.

Recently I've also taken a sidetrip out of Yarnia and into Cross-Stitch Country. I bought some counted cross-stitch canvas and a couple of packages of embroidery floss, and a big stack of pattern books from my local library. I'm working on a little piece from the amazingly fantastic book of Subversive Cross Stitch patterns. I was previously unaware that they even had a physical book out, but there we go.

A couple of years ago I bought this kit for my mother:

...which, I have to admit, totally cracks me up every time I see it.

I suffered a bout of indecision the likes of which I hadn't felt since I set foot in the brick and mortar Wollmeise store, but eventually settled on a classy little piece that I think will be perfect for my darling little brother's upcoming birthday. Pictures to be posted upon completion, of course.

In the meantime, back to Yarnia I go. There's a shawl that's not going to thread itself back onto the needles its own damn self, ya know...

Black Hole

2011-09-15 04:09:34 +0000

The Epic Wedding Shawl has officially reached the black hole point -- that disheartening point where I knit and knit and knit and my project doesn't get any bigger. It's been at that point for a while now, if I'm being truly honest. This thing has swallowed the last 200 yards of yarn without so much as a by-your-leave, never mind actually bothering to gain noticeable width. But I've been here before, with every big project I've ever done, and so I kept plugging away at it, calmly knitting away and feeding it more yarn because I know that all of a sudden it will go from not-big-enough to hurrah-it's-nearly-done! in what feels like an instant. I just have to wait for that magical moment...

Well, Epic Wedding Shawl is having none of that. Epic Wedding Shawl has apparently decided to quit playing nice, and has taken a lesson from the rest of my knitting on how to screw with me. I should have seen this coming, I really should have. Everything else with this project has been going well. Aside from one hiccup that cost me about two inches pretty early on (on the 144 stitch rounds -- I only lost about an evening's worth of knitting on that one...) there has been no drama.

Sure I've reached the black hole portion of this knitting project and it feels like no matter how much work I do it's not getting any bigger and I feel like I'm going to be knitting this shawl and nothing but this shawl for the rest of my life, but that's nothing new and I've been here before, right?

Wrong.

See, I'm running out of pattern. Epic Wedding Shawl is not getting any bigger, but I'm running out of pattern. I've got another eight rounds in the last lace section, and then the edging, and then I'm done. And this thing is nowhere near big enough. I'm freaking out a little over this, to be honest. I don't understand how this is happening.

But I have a month and a half before The Big Day to figure this out. I'm going to finish this last lace section, and then I'm going to thread the whole thing on scrap yarn (a big pain in the ass) and block it to see how much it will grow. Then I will put the whole thing back on the needles (a bigger pain in the ass) and, if it does grow and I am satisfied with the size, will knit the edging and reblock. If it's definitely not big enough, well, there will be swearing, and several hours during which I comb Ravelry and my stitch dictionaries for a suitable lace pattern to make up an extra section, more swearing while I try to calculate how long this new section should be and where I should place the next round of increases (remember, me and math...) and then I will knit the edging and reblock.

So this is annoying, but not a crisis. Yet, anyway. As I said, I still have a month and a half to make this work. I have plenty of time. I can do this.

Still, a little bribery never hurt anyone, eh? I took Epic Wedding Shawl out to a concert tonight. Here we are listening to Jonathan Coulton, who opened tonight for They Might Be Giants.

 

Yeah, we didn't have the best seats, but we had a good view and it was certainly better than another night of us sitting in front of the tv, with me measuring you every few rounds only to mutter "why isn't this damn thing getting any effing wider??!" Right? Right?

So play nice so I can finish you? Pretty please? There's a vacation to Florida in it for you at the end of this.

In the meantime, I skeined up some sock yarn (just to take the edge off, man) and have been browsing patterns for Sarah's Belated Birthday Socks. I started one, but it didn't do justice to the fabulous yarn I bought. (Madeline Tosh sock in the colorway Tart) so I ripped it out and it's sitting in a pretty little cake waiting to be reknit. I've got it narrowed down to two, and I'm hoping to make a decision soonish. And the first sunny day coming up, I'm going to take some pictures because the crappy cloudy-day cellphone shots of it I've taken so far do not do it justice.

Soon, my precious, soon...

What's that, Epic Wedding Shawl? Erm, no, I was talking about you. Totally. All you. You're my one and only, dontchaknow.

ketchup

2011-09-11 18:15:29 +0000

A while ago I was posting about Jason's Big Blue Striped Blanket. I actually ended up finishing it a couple of months ago, perfectly timed for just as the weather got too warm for it to actually be of use. (story of my life, there) So far the only one willing to use it is the cat, but he's under the impression that I made it for him anyhow, so there we go.

Currently the blanket is spread out over the back of the sofa. A few weekends ago we rearranged the living room so that the sofa is no longer against the wall, and unfortunately the slipcover we have on it doesn't fit properly and doesn't quite cover the back. The reason we have the slip cover is because the sofa is a rather alarming shade of Crayola red. I'd be okay with a red couch, but the cushions that come along with it are a checkerboard pattern of gold, red, green, and blue. It's very strange. But since a) the couch was free, and b) the couch is comfortable, and c) new couches are expensive, it stays. Plus, ill-fitting though it may be, the slipcover is made of some odd velour-like fabric that actually repels cathair. (omg, yes, I know!!) Seriously, no vacuuming necessary, I just have to swipe my hand over the arms every few days and the cat fur comes right off. That's worth a lot to me.

Soon I'm going to have to figure out something else to disguise the back of the sofa. (Something that doesn't involve crocheting another afghan, although I'll admit that was my first reaction. Then I came to my senses.) The weather is beginning to change and I'm sure Jason will be reclaiming his blanket soon.

I'm very happy about the season beginning to change. The cooler weather always inspires me to knit more. I always lose interest during the summer, because really, who wants to have a big wool project draped across their lap during 80-90 degree weather. But when the highs are in the 60s? Suddenly having an afghan-in-progress doesn't seem so bad. Also, knitting hats and gloves is much more appealing since I can wear them right away instead of having to pack them away to wait for a few months. I'm still obsessing about the Commuter Fingerless Mitts. I'm also thinking about making another go at my awful blue hat that I finally accepted that the universe didn't want me to have. Why I'm even considering this,  don't know. Not enough other drama in my life, I suppose. Either that or the madness of autumn is already fully upon me. This happens every year. It involves a bad case of startitis, a worse case of over-ambition, and a severe deficit of realism. This condition culminates in the frantic Christmas knitting I find myself in the midst of every year without fail.

Right now it's not bad. I've just got an urge to knit fingerless mitts and hats, and excitement at finally being able to wear my cooler-weather clothes. This finally motivated me to finish up my Citron shawl, which has been "finished" for a while, but still needed a blocking and to have the ends woven in.

I plan on wearing it tomorrow. I wore it around the house a bit already, and I love it. The Malabrigo laceweight is soft and warm, but thin and light enough to not be stifling. This will be a perfect transitional weather piece.

And, by request, the Epic Wedding Shawl Adventure as it is right now.

 

It would appear that I have not knit a shawl, but instead a very elaborate beekeeper's veil. Thanks to an epic knitting session last weekend, and quite a bit of knitting this weekend as well, I'm over halfway through the final lace section, then I just have to do the border, bind off, and block the sucker. I'm hoping that it grows a bit with blocking, because at this point it doesn't look like it's going to be as big as I was aiming for. If it doesn't grow enough, well, I'll let that bridge collapse out from under me when I come to it. Happy thoughts, happy thoughts, happy thoughts...

Monogamous knitting, what?

2011-09-04 07:41:50 +0000

First and foremost, welcome to the new blog! I'm also expanding a bit, and will be blogging about more than just my knitting, which will hopefully encourage me to post more often and more consistently. Yes, despite life's best efforts, I remain optimistic!

In other news, the Epic Wedding Shawl Adventure continues, and thankfully it is still not very much of an adventure. More of a long endless march. Through a swamp. With mosquitoes. In leaking boots, at night. With no end in sight.

Oh my god, I'm going to be knitting this thing for the rest of my damn life.

I may be overreacting, but if I am it is only very slightly. Each round is now 576 stitches and the plain knitting rounds alone take me almost 20 minutes. I sat down and out of what I can only assume is an acute sense of masochism, I decided that I wanted to figure out just how may stitches are in the shawl all together. The answer?

65,061

Not including the bind-off. And at a rate of about 30 stitches a minute (see? there's that optimism again!) that translates to a total of just over 36 hours of work. This is a very conservative effort because it doesn't include any of the times I've had to tink back, or the two inches I had to rip back because of my inability to follow a stinkin' pattern, or all the times I've had to pause to read my work because I've lost track of where I am in the lace. Or the fact that I'm pretty sure the lace rounds slow me down to somewhat less than 30 stitches a minute.

Yeah. I was better off not knowing. Because also according to the stitch count, I am still less than halfway through. I am still confident that I'll have it done by November, but only if I work on it every day without fail. Every day. Without. Fail.

Now, I've never been good at sticking to one thing and seeing it through to the end before moving on to the next one. Both my WIP basket as well as the stack of half-learned music atop my piano, backed up solidly by all the other half-finished projects hidden about my house, can attest to that. And now I have to stick faithfully and unwaveringly to a single solitary knitting project.

Whew.

So of course the first thing I do after coming to that particular realization is waste about half an hour browsing Ravelry for fingerless mitts patterns. (Note: I am still steadfastly ignoring the fifty bajillion patterns for mittens that I queued up way back when. Fingerless mitts are way different, dontchaknow.)

I'm currently stuck on the Commuter Fingerless Mitts from the latest issue of knitty.

I'm thinking they'd look pretty fantastic in my one lonely skein of Malabrigo worsted in Emerald Blue that has been languishing in the stash for somewhat longer than I really am comfortable remembering. I love how chilly and perfectly wintery this colorway is, and with some funky silver buttons? Oooh, I'm having to restrain myself from diving for my dpns and casting on right this minute...

The only thing that's keeping me firmly in my seat is the Epic Wedding Shawl sitting balefully beside me, where I've been neglecting it for the last twenty minutes to type up this blog post and half-watch School of Rock for the dozenth time. Also, I know that if I fall off the wagon even once, I'm going to be quick to hop off it the next time, and the next, and the next, and then I'll be sitting up at midnight the day before it has to be done, swearing at two-months-ago Leandra for not working on it more consistently. I don't want to do that.

Also, I haven't knit anything with any yarn heavier than fingering weight since starting my Citron at the end of June. My relationship with keeping a consistant gauge is tenuous at best, so I figure knitting with lighter-weight yarns for the duration of The Adventure can only help.

failfailfail

2011-08-25 19:36:00 +0000

Wow, I'm really astoundingly awful at maintaining a blog, aren't I?

I need to make up a real post (with pictures!) because I've actually been doing a lot of knitting recently. I just haven't been talking about it. Mostly it's been for Rina's Epic Wedding Shawl Adventure, which so far hasn't actually been much of an adventure at all. Which is good! "Adventures" usually involve lots of swearing and possibly throwing things across the room. So, yes, quiet is good.

I'm making one of the 100th anniversary EZ pi shawls for her, the one that uses the travelling vines pattern and the gull wings pattern with a ring of hearts around the edges. I'm just up to the second repeat of gull wings, so... somewhere between a third and halfway done? I don't know; I tried to run through rough stitch counts in my head but as we all know, I'm awful at math.

I'm pretty pleased with how it's coming out so far. Although, if I had to do it over again I'd probably go up a needle size to make it a bit airier and lacier, but I really can't complain. Of course, it is sort of hard to tell without blocking, because all unblocked lace looks like ass. So I may end up being happy with my needle size. I did swatch for this, but I made this mistake of swatching all the lace patterns together so it mostly looks like a garbled mess, and it's rather hard to judge how the finished shawl will look from that. The Big Day is November 5th, and I'm pretty sure I'll be done by then. I mean, I know how I am with deadlines and all, but I'm making good progress so far and I've got a little over two months. I can do this!

Food for Thought...

2011-08-25 19:18:00 +0000

I'll be the first to admit that one of the biggest motivations in my life is food. Couple that with an over-active imagination and a somewhat obsessive personality, and reading about food in books becomes its own unique sort of torment.

For example, I can't read the scene where Scarlett is forced to eat a huge breakfast before the party at Twelve Oaks in Gone with the Wind without desperately craving an enormous breakfast myself. Upon reading about Edmund's gluttonous reaction to the Turkish Delight conjured for him by the White Witch in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, I begged my grandmother to buy some for me so I could eat it too. (That never happened. Apparently Turkish Delight is not readily available in most Floridian grocery stores, but I'm still keeping my eye out for some...) And don't even get me started on the sweet torture that is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. By the way, the actual candy they sell with Willie Wonka's name slapped on it? Not nearly as good as it is inside my head.

One of my latest literary food obsessions has been Jaffa Cakes, thanks to the Armourer in Simon R. Green's Secret Histories novels. This character constantly asks for Jaffa Cakes, insisting that he is unable to work without them. I'd been imagining little tea cakes or something, so imagine my surprise when I discovered a box of them at my local grocery store. I had to buy them, of course, and probably paid entirely too much for them since they're a British import. But I'd say they were totally worth every penny. They're actually a cakey-sort of cookie, with a "squidgy orange bit" (their description, not mine!) which is sort of like a thicker orange jelly on top, and then the whole thing is coated in chocolate. I see why the Armourer is unable to work without them, but at nearly $6 for a box of ten smallish cookies, they'll just have to remain the (very) occasional treat for me, probably about as often as Green puts out a new novel and I get them stuck in my head again.

MOAR FAIL!

2011-05-03 07:31:00 +0000

So, as you may have figured out by now, I've abandoned my 52 books in 52 weeks goal thingy. This is both good and bad, however. Bad because I've completely abandoned posting reviews of them here. I ended up getting on goodreads.com and have been using that to keep track of it. The good bit, however, is that here I am at the beginning of May and I'm 39 books in. So I've upped my goal to 100 books . And since I don't fancy writing up that damn many reviews, ya'll will just have to live without. Shouldn't be too hard, since I don't think anyone reads this. (Except Jason. Hi Jason!)

Anywho, moving on...
I'm going to have to throw together an actual knitting post soonish. Haven't been knitting too much, but I've nearly completed a pair of socks. Woo socks!

MOAR BOOKS ARRRR

2011-03-28 18:24:00 +0000

Book 17: Alex and the Ironic Gentleman by Adrienne Kress

In most cases, juxtaposition is a good thing. It adds an unexpected twist or a fresh perspective to something that might otherwise be bland and boring. When it works, it works well. When it doesn't, we end up with a book like this.

Ten-and-a-half-year-old Alex is a precocious young lady who often possesses a greater degree of insight and maturity than the adults with whom she interacts. The story is told from a third person limited POV, centering on Alex, and the narrator could not be any farther from the heroine. The narrator reminds me of a hyperactive five-year-old, bouncing cheerfully between thoughts and ideas, picking up or abandoning trains of thought on a whim. I found it highly distracting. However, I can see how this might appeal to a much younger person. Though the book is categorized as Teen Fiction, it seems more suited to children.

Rating: D

Book 18: XVI by Julia Karr

This is the sort of distopian novel that Matched strove so hard to be. As with Matched, we have a young girl raised in a futuristic society whose eyes slowly open to the truths of her world. However, unlike the main character of Matched, the heroine of XVI actually has a reason for opening her eyes. The awakening isn't spontaneous, and thus makes sense to the reader and so feels more believeable. This novel also has a romantic interest, but it isn't the sole driving force behind the plot.

Rating: B-

Book 19: The Alchemist by Paolo Bacigalupi There is an incredible amount packed into such a small book. In less than a hundred pages, Bacigalupi manages to fit an incredibly detailed and well-developed world along with an intriguing plot complete with a number of twists. Yet it was short, saying what it had to say and having done with it. I am always in awe of authors who can successfully pen novellas and short stories, because, as a writer, I know how great the temptation is to drag it out, to add more plot with more twists and more details. But Bacigalupi is able to do what I've never been able to: he pares down an entire world to tell one chapter of one man's story. I loved this book, and will definitely be seeking out more by this author.

Rating: A

Book 20: Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You by Peter Cameron

Every so often we read the right book at the right point in our life, and it changes us. This is the right book, but unfortunately I read it at the wrong time. A poingant coming-of-age story, this is exactly the book that would have profoundly changed me if I'd read it a decade ago. As it was now, it was a thoroughly entrancing story of a young man's struggle to find his own feet beneath him and figure out which path they will carry him down. I absolutely cannot say enough nice things about this book.

Rating: A+