Monday, April 30, 2012

It's About Time!

I finally (finally finally) finished my poor dear neglected Fiasco's socks:
I think he looks appropriately thrilled, don't you? Pair #4 of 2012, complete! I'm really happy with how these came out. This is my own design, the first 'complicated' sock I've put together involving a sideways-knit cuff, a few different cables and textural stitches, and a garter stitch heel and toe.
STR Heavyweight, colorway Drop Dead Sexy
Sorry for the flash-tastic photo, I have better ones waiting for the pattern release. I'm working on tweaking a few things now and will soon be looking for test knitters. If you think you'd like to test knit and can most likely finish one sock by the end of May, please leave a comment and let me know!

Another long-awaited event occurred today:
The arrival of my new Kundert spindle! My mom hinted at wanting to get this for me weeks ago and it finally got here, yay! The dark wood is walnut, the lightest wood is maple, the purple lines are purpleheart, and the rest of the whorl and shaft are cherry. The whole thing is gorgeous, I love it! :) It feels much lighter than my Golding spindle, but that could be because my Golding currently has a huge cop of singles on it that I need to wind off. I'm excited to see how this one spins!

What have you been anticipating lately?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

3kcbwwc-- Perfect Day

The final topic for the Knitting and Crochet Blog Week is about balance between knitting and crochet, but since I don't crochet and don't really plan to learn (too much to do already!) that would make for a pretty boring post. So instead, I will discuss the 'wildcard' topic, which is to craft your perfect knitting-or-crocheting day.

I require nothing more for a perfect knitting day than just to have some f#%$ing time to knit! haha You want more fantastical details? Fine, my perfect knitting day would go something like this:
  • Awaken to a sunny day and sit in my coziest knitting chair with Calypso by my side
  • Watch some guilty-pleasure TV while I knit and drink tea
  • Go to a wool festival where Blue Moon Fiber Arts, Cephalopod Yarns, The Verdant Gryphon, and The Loopy Ewe all had booths (and no lines)
  • I forgot to mention that before this festival I would also win the lottery which would allow me to buy all the yarnz and not have to work so I can knit them all up later, too
  • Go for a hike and knit on a simple sock in the woods somewhere
  • End the day with a book reading by The Yarn Harlot 
  • Spin a bit at some point, as well
Sound good? Universe, what can we do to make this happen?

While I wait, I'll show you the scarflet/neckwarmer thing I finished:

This was a free pattern, Mustard Scarf, available on Ravelry. It was simple to knit and worked really well with my handspun yarn. I'm really happy with it! It blocked nicely and it still blows my mind that the yarn didn't just unravel in my hands while working with it! Kind of amazing that it came from fluff, right? What's really funny is that Calypso adores this thing. While it was blocking she was constantly laying on it. And when I draped it over the chair for photos, I found her like this:
Handspun snuggles! Have a happy Sunday, everyone, and thanks for reading along during this blog week event. If you do a google search using the 'code' in each of the titles of my posts (e.g., 3kcbwwc for wild card entry, 3kcbwday1 for Day 1 topic), you'll be able to find all of the other blog posts of bloggers who participated in this event, as well. Cool!

3kcbwday6 -- Mad Skillz

Today's Yesterday's topic for the Knitting and Crochet Blog Week event is to discuss improving my skillset. Here's a quick list version of things I've done and things I'd like to do:

Stuff I've Done:
  • Scarves
  • Bottom-Up Hats
  • Cowls
  • Fingerless Mitts
  • Armwarmers
  • Shawls -- sideways, bottom-up, top-down, triangular, crescent, some other odd shapes
  • Cuff-Down Socks
  • Baby Sweater 
  • Pillow
  • Thrummed Mittens
  • Lace
  • Cables
  • Beads
  • Bobbles
  • Two-color knitting (one color per row-- like with stripes or slipped stitch colorwork techniques)
  • Spun singles and two-ply yarn on a spindle 

Stuff I Haven't:
  • Adult Sweater
  • Two-handed colorwork (have not mastered knitting continental-style yet)
  • Complete Afghan
  • Successful Toe-Up Socks (I tried, but couldn't get the fit right)
  • Other sock constructions (like sideways or knit-flat socks--yes, those exist!)
  • Top-Down Hats
  • Gloves
  • Hand-dye yarn or roving
  • Felting
  • Navajo-ply or three-ply spin yarn
  • Spin on a spinning wheel
  • Wash, card, and spin a fleece myself
  • Raise and shear my own sheep
I'm sure there are more things I haven't done, but those are all I can think of right now. I think I've made some decent progress but there are definitely things I know I like (like cuff-down socks) that I tend to stick with once I find them. It is fun to learn new things, though, like the whole spinning thing.

You know what I'm probably never going to do although I find it fascinating?
 That is bobbin lacemaking and it is truly amazing. I learned all about it at the CT Sheep & Wool Festival yesterday and the wonderful lady who explained it to me tried quite hard to recruit me, but I don't think I have the patience to keep all those tiny strings from tangling. Although, I'm sorely tempted because 1) it's beautiful and 2)...
 ... I'd love to do anything called "Advanced Fancy Pants". :)

I promised some woolly pictures from the festival, so get ready for some major fuzziness:
My overwhelmed-by-wool face

Fuzzy bunnies!

Before-and-after sheep


More fuzzy bunnies!

Weird silky chickens?

My modest haul
I had to show great restraint, and I'm pretty surprised I didn't pick up any actual yarn, but I'm happy with what I've found. The bag can apparently be zipped a bunch of different ways and has like 37 pockets, and it was half off! The green braid is 4 oz of Blue-Faced Leicester wool from Dirty Water Dyeworks that I picked up for only $15! And the grey stuff is about 5 oz of undyed Romney wool from Falling Star Farms for only $10! Yay for spinning materials being cheaper than yarn!

(Sorry this post is late, the internet crapped out on me last night and I was exhausted so I just went to bed. Oh well!)

Friday, April 27, 2012

3kcbwday5-- The Yin of Scarves

"The Yin of Scarves"

Aluminum slides across aluminum,
two dueling swords
of leisure and productivity,
tedium and joy.
Woolen time twists and turns,
entangled between.
Each stitch another second spent.

My handspun!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

3kcbwday4 -- Seasonality

Today's topic of the Knitting and Crochet Blog Week Event is to discuss the seasonality of your knitting -- does what you knit change with the weather or throughout the year? I think this is an excellent question and I am very much regretting the fact that as you read this I am on a boat and thus do not/did not/will not have the time to answer this question as fully as I'd like.

For instance, if I'd had the time, you'd be seeing a lovely photo of apple trees in bloom taken at the local orchard I drive past every day:

(Imagine rows of what look like miniature Whomping Willows covered in pale blossoms.  
Ooooooh, pretty!)

That photo would've set the tone of the post. Spring! Seasons! Seasonality! It all ties in nicely.

Then I'd analyze at length the patterns I see in my knitting. I'd discuss when I start certain types of projects and when I tend to finish others. I'd try to parse out the reasons for these patterns and perhaps there'd even be a table or a chart involved, because I do love me some Microsoft Excel.

 (Insert color-coded bar chart here.)

Instead, I'll just tell you that I mostly knit socks and shawls year-round, with a rash of smaller accesory-type projects that breaks out from October-March during gift-giving season. Nothing says "Happy Holidays!" like making a whole bunch of worsted- or bulky-weight hats that I can bust out in a couple of evenings. Someday I'll get a handle on how long it takes me to make things and plan ahead and start earlier. Perhaps I should start now, even. (There's a thought.)

I apologize for my halfway attempt at meeting this challenge but perhaps this will make up for it:
My Fiasco is a LOLcat. And the best part is, I didn't even make this picture--some of his classmates did. I think that speaks volumes to the kind of presence he brings to a classroom. Oh boy...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

3kcbwday3 -- The Harlot

Today's challenge for the Knitting and Crochet Blog Week event is to write about your knitting hero. My knitting hero is probably not very unique or suprising-- she is someone whom even those only tangentially familiar with the knitting world have probably heard about: The Yarn Harlot. Stephanie Pearl-McPhee is not only a speedy and talented knitter, but also a brilliant writer with the kind of sense of humor and world outlook that makes me think we could totally be friends if I ever got the chance to meet her (not to be a creepy fangirl or anything). But seriously, so many of the things I love about knitting I came across because of her work: knitting blogs, Ravelry, knitted socks, BMFA Socks that Rock yarn, and several gorgeous patterns that she chose to make. To top it all off, her blog posts are by turns poignant, educational, touching, and downright funny. I think it takes an enormous amount of skill to write with such a clearly original and personal voice, and I appreciate how she writes honestly about her opinions and views.

Her writing extends well beyond her blog, too-- I'm pretty sure I own every single one of her books.
Here is the lovely, newly-unpacked-and-organized Knitting Section of my bookcase, in the northwest corner of which you will find Harlot-ville. Hiding behind the Connecticut Farm Map is one of her most practical and useful books: Knitting Rules! The Yarn Harlot's Bag of Knitting Tricks. This is the book that taught me how to knit socks, thus I will love it always and forever. She writes as if she's having a conversation with you, it's not a pattern so much as it is a description of how all the sock bits work. It makes you feel as if someone is walking you through the process, rather than just throwing some numbers at you. I think it's a great way to learn. She has some wonderful views on yarn stash, too, that make me feel quite a bit less guilty about the size of mine. :)

If you haven't read anything by the Yarn Harlot, then you must be living under a rock absolutely should as soon as possible. It will be good for your knitterly soul, I promise.

Do you have any knitting heroes? Who should I read right now?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

3kcbwday2 -- Photo Finish

Today's topic for the Knitting and Crocheting Blog Week was a photography challenge! It had to involve some aspect of your craft in some creative setting of some sort (open-ended much?) so here's what I did:

Foot Race Photo Finish
I wish I had better photo editing software (don't know if you can read the "Finish" on the little flag) but I hope the message still gets across: some of my little socks-in-progress, racing (ha!) towards the finish line.

Arguably, the best part about this challenge was that I had forgotten to clean up the finish line props afterwards, so when the Fiasco came home I had some 'splaining to do. The conversation went something like this:
Me: Oh, you're home early!
Him: Yeah, I -- UM. WHAT IS THIS?
Me: hahaha! It's--
Him: Did you want me to come home later? What did I walk in on? Were you racing hamsters or something? Is there anything you need to tell me?
Me: * fit of giggles *
Him: ...Oooooh, is this for the blog?

Yup. :) Funtimes!

Monday, April 23, 2012

3kcbwday1 -- Snazzy Colors

Inspired by Lisa over at the Wicked Artsy blog, I made a snap decision to take part in the 3rd Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, organized on the Eskimimi Makes blog. Nothing like discovering something exists and then deciding to take part 10 minutes later! The goal is to blog about specific topics every day for a week. This foolhardy attempt is brought to you by the stormy weather we're currently having, otherwise I'd be out on the boat counting fish and utterly unable to blog at all.
Today's topic is color. I have a lot of strong feelings about color. A cursory glance at my project page on Ravelry will clue even the least observant person into the fact that clearly, I have a thing for blues. Blues, greens, teals, purples, pale greys... I am a cool-color kind of girl. In fact, anything not made of colors on the cooler end of the spectrum were either 1) socks or 2) gifts for other people. In fact-- I'm just going to say it-- I hate orange. I own exactly one orange shirt and wear it very rarely. And you know what? I'm not sorry. Red is ok if it is a deep deep maroon. Pink is iffy but sometimes doable. Yellow is alright in moderation, especially if it's a nice bright happy yellow. Brown can be kind of icky, it depends on the brown. But the other end of the spectrum? It rules at life!

I read an interesting blog entry about color preferences by gender. Turns out, I am an utterly predictable average female. Fully 72% of female participants listed either blue, purple, or green as their favorite color and 33% (the largest percentage) listed orange as their least favorite color. Blue is favored by both genders, actually, but 0% of men liked purple. Interestingly, my Fiasco is a rather unpredictable male with brown as his favorite color (only 2% listed it as favorite and the largest percentage (27%) listed it as least favorite). Go figure!

My most recent project highlights my color preferences fairly well, I think:
Bugga in my Snazzy Stripes Scarf
All cool colors: blue, green, and purple, bold and bright! This thing is going to have a ton of ends to weave in, but I'll deal with it. Here's hoping its stripe-tastic goodness will be worth it! :)

How do you feel about color?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Gone Fishin'

My apologies for the radio silence lately, folks! I've been spending 13 hour days working on a research boat. I've been waking up at 5am, getting to work by 6am, getting back home around 7 pm, and falling asleep before 9pm. Busy busy busy! But it's a pretty cool job, I'm getting to see a bunch of different sea life, which is neat.

Here are a few of my new favorite fish species:
Scup (image source)
Windowpane flounder (image source)


Sea robin (image source)
They're very colorful and pretty in person. And the sea robin does this neat vibrating/grunting thing you can feel when you hold them. Biology is cool!

Needless to say, I haven't been making a whole lot of progress on my myriad in-progress knitting projects. However, I did start another pair of my Ribby Holiday Socks pattern to knit during downtime on the boat, and I've gotten surprisingly far this week:
STR Mediumweight, colorway On Blueberry Hill
I love how the simple stitch pattern works with variegated/stripey yarns like this. It breaks the colorway up just enough to be noticeable, without looking messy. I foresee many pairs of easy-to-memorize sock patterns in my future with this job...

Now I'm off to catch up on what's been going on in blogland. I feel so out of touch! Hope all is well with everyone.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Watin' For The Weekend

SO MANY THINGS. The last couple of days have been full of lots of new experiences. I learned:
  • that wearing steel-toed, steel shank firefighter boots all day is damaging to my feet, since half of one of them is still numb
  • how pretty fish scales look glittering like confetti in a pile of seaweed
  • what rock crabs, scup, flounder, black sea bass, atlantic herring, and squid look like up close and personal
  • learned that there are lots of underwater wrecks in LIS
  • learned that a gigantic trawl net can get caught on said wrecks
  • learned how super fun it was to drive around in circles for 4 hours, fishing for a lost net (not)
  • how to dissect a fish to collect its aging parts
  • what flounder gonads look like (oh yeah) and how to tell their sexual maturity stage
  • that I'm not a super patient person when I'm bored and waiting around
  • that boats are loud
  • that getting up at 3:45am is hard
  • that fish are cooler than I thought
  • that I really don't know much about fish at all
  • that I don't like not knowing stuff (i.e., I prefer being good at things)
  • that my thigh muscles need work (ouch, sore)
  • that it's hard to scrub stuff when the floor is moving
  • that 8pm is my new bedtime
So that's what work has taught me this week. It's been a rough one. We're moving tomorrow, too. SO MANY THINGS. Can't wait for the weekend, can't wait for the new place, can't wait to unpack, can't wait to knit something...

It's almost Friday!!!

Monday, April 9, 2012

April Schmapril

I hope you had a wonderful Easter, those who celebrate it. I'll be honest, April tends to be my least loved month of the year. It's always crazybusy (not just regular busy) and something stressful is nearly always going on, whether it's the end of the semester or the writing of a thesis or the beginning of a field season. April is just too transitional and full of anticipation of things to come for me to ever fully be able to relax, let alone take a weekend trip to my family's place for a holiday. So I didn't.

Instead, I did  my taxes and applied for jobs and packed up some boxes and in the afternoon I escaped for a quick visit to Wickham Park, a beautiful set of gardens in which the Fiasco and I would like to get married someday. There were cherry trees blooming:

kites flying:

turtles peeking:

sock models smiling:

Beribboned Wrists shining:

and shadows snuggling:

It was a good day, I had really needed that. Just a couple more weeks until things calm down! In the meantime I'll be working on this snazzy-yet-soothing scarf:
Those stripes make me ridiculously happy. The scarf is just simple stockinette stitch, knit on the bias with Bugga in Grey Scalloped Bar Butterfly for the main color with Blue Lobster, Beyer's Jewel Scarab, and Northern Purple Gold Beetle as the contrast stripes. (GSSB and BL are currently available from Cephalopod Yarns, the other colors are discontinued). I spent some time this morning weighing and measuring and figuring out how I want the rest of the scarf to go, and I think it's going to be really great.

Sometimes simple is best.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


The Yarn Harlot has been blogging about her rainbow yarn lately, which got me thinking about my own rainbow-in-progress:

This is Bugga fiber from Cephalopod Yarns, and they do rainbows very well. This single is looking more-or-less like a circus, so I have no idea how it's going to look once I ply it, but as long as I somehow avoid the clown barf phenomenon I'll be pretty happy.

In other knitting news... I have very little other knitting news. :( I have been crossing things off my to-do list like a boss and unfortunately that means that knitting time has been slim. I'm steadily plugging away at the Fiasco's socks, just finished the heel of the second one, and I barely started a new pair for a KAL in the Socks that Rawk group on Ravelry. This quarter we are knitting Dusty Corners, a 2010 club pattern that I'm excited to be getting around to. Linda Welch is the same designer of the Making Mischeif socks (South Fork Socks pattern) I finished last month in February (gosh, time is flying). Here's the yarn I'll be using for it:
STR Lightweight, colorway Lunasea
I first stashed it back in April 2010, so it's another early skein I'm looking forward to using! I've named these the "Lunacy" socks because it's crazily optimistic of me to be casting on more projects right now... So, here are my sock goals for April:
  • Finish the Fiasco's socks (75% done)
  • Finish the Lunacy socks (.0001% done)
  • Finish an old SIP, Froot Loops (65% done)
Based on my recent track record, that's probably more than enough. Sads! I want to be able to make more socks but there just isn't time. Can I borrow some of yours?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Getting Sorted Out

Things are getting sorted out over here. I tend to flip out a little bit before there are Big Jobs to do, but once I get going I feel a lot better. It's the anticipation that gets to me. My grad school advisor once compared me to a slow-moving boulder. It takes a lot to get me going but once I gain some momentum, I'm unstoppable with a singular focus.

Sneaky Fiasco, I didn't even realize I was being observed!
That's me in full-on packing-and-sorting mode, see that intense concentration? Of course I started with the yarn. Most important thing, amIright? Apparently there's going to be a big yard sale (or 'tag sale' or 'garage sale', depending on which part of New England you are from) the weekend we're moving, so we're hoping to get some of our unnecessary items taken off our hands that way. I went through and sorted out some things I felt I could part with for super cheap, some perfectly good remnants and single skeins of things I bought when I first started getting into knitting that I've been carting around for the last 3 years. If I haven't used it yet, I probably won't, so it's going.
Calypso helped!
Also, since most of that is commercial yarn, I could always go get more. For example, if I absolutely had to knit myself a dishcloth out of Sugar-N-Cream cotton immediately, big box craft stores are never that far away. No Bugga or Socks that Rock will be sold, because those skeins are precious, but some stash baggage cleansing doesn't hurt. It feels good! You know what else feels good?

Knitting with my own handspun yarn! This is going to be a Mustard Scarf by Jane Richmond, a free pattern on Ravelry. I like this one, it's a simple stitch pattern that works well with bulky yarns. I made one for my younger cousin for Christmas out of Malabrigo Chunky that looked great. I like how the colors in the yarn are striping. When spinning it I tore the batt into chunks and made a point to spin the brown/green parts first, then the pink/purple parts. Not half bad! And I have the perfect button to go with it, too, but you'll have to wait until I'm done to see. :)

What are you excited about, lately?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Oh, Fiasco

This evening my fiance well-and-truly confirmed the appropriateness of his nickname.

I'll set the scene: I was having an awful day. I had a late start in the morning because I was stuck late at work the night before and I knew I wouldn't be getting home until late tonight. I was stressing out about this weekend being Easter and how I had to disappoint my family because there was no way I could make it home to see them and still remain a reasonably sane person. I was thinking about the health insurance paperwork I have to fill out, the taxes I need to file, the publication I need to work on, the knitting designs I want to make, the permanent job I need to find, the overall lack of funds in our near future, the utility companies I need to call, and OH YEAH WE'RE MOVING IN TEN DAYS so there's a ton of packing to be done which we haven't even begun to think about. I had spent much of the 75 minute commute home in a nice, stress-relieving state of openly weeping (during which time I also got scolded  by a traffic cop who couldn't understand how repeatedly waving her flashlight towards the road might make me think I was supposed to go there, instead of not go there) and I was really just looking forward to getting a nice big hug after what felt like an endless day.

I pulled up to find my dear Fiasco eagerly awaiting my arrival-- shivering over the grill on our porch. He had accidentally locked himself out of our apartment while making dinner and was stuck outside for nearly an hour before I got home. The whole place smells like burning marshmallows because he had sweet potatoes roasting in the oven for so long they turned into blackened wedges of ick. I walked in, face still wet with tears, and then laughed my friggin' ass off while he hopped around trying to get warm.

Too bad Calypso hasn't learned to open sliding glass doors yet, right?
Then we went out for pizza and life felt just a little bit better. He may be crazy but he is also most certainly entertaining, and on days like this I am really grateful that he's mine. :)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Purple Procrastination

Since I don't want to work on what I'm supposed to be working on right now, I thought I'd post about an older finished object of mine.  (You can see more posts about projects finished before the birth of this blog here, where the tag OBG stands for 'Oldie But Goodie').
Malabrigo Sock yarn, colorway Violeta Africana
This is the Gaenor Shawl designed by Corrina Ferguson. It is a great little pattern. The shawl is knit sideways from end-to-end, so you begin with just a few stitches and you cast off just a few stitches, rather than beginning or ending with hundreds of stitches on the needle like you would for other shawl constructions. This type of shawl is great for when you have a smaller amount of yardage or when you want to be sure you will use all your yarn. You weigh your skein and split it in half, then increase to the middle of the shawl, and decrease for the second half of the shawl. The majority of this shawl is knit in garter stitch with just a bit of lace on the edging to keep things interesting, so it's nice and simple, and a good intro to shawl knitting. I believe it was my second shawl ever, finished in March of 2010.

My only complaint about this shawl is that it ended up being too small for me to wear as a shawl. It was 57" wide post-blocking, but that just isn't large enough for me. Instead I wear it kerchief-style, which works pretty well, too:
Two-years-ago me, looking all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for some mysterious reason...
In fact, I'm wearing it this very moment because this sudden last-minute winter comeback is making it so flipping cold in my apartment! When I'm chilled I always feel better with a little something around my neck, and this shawl in such a soft, lightweight merino works great. With all the fancy luxury blend yarns floating around (Bugga, I'm looking at you) I sometimes forget how much I like good-ol'-merino like Malabrigo. In fingering weight the shawl is not too bulky, doesn't get in the way, and still looks might pretty, even if I am just going to stay inside in my pajamas working all day. And yes, I am a staunch supporter of wearing pretty lace shawls with your pajamas.

What's your take on shawls? Are you an over-the-shoulders shawl-wearer or a 'round-the-neck shawl wearer? Dressy, casual, or both?