31 December 2009

knitting resolutions

I've never been terribly good with New Year's resolutions. I resolve to exercise more, be tidier, read more classics, etc, and this rarely happens. I did end up getting more exercise than planned this year, but that was partly because the car died and I had to switch to walking or taking the bus (which often involves walking, too). And I'm not tidier or more organized than I used to be. I still wish I was, but the closest I've come is getting rid of old school papers from my undergrad that I have no use for (goodbye, chapter summaries from IDIS 400!) and organizing my yarn stash a bit. And I did read Wuthering Heights. And Emma, and I've never made it through that one before. Middlemarch and The Brothers Karamazov are still on the list.

However, I do plan to make some resolutions for knitting/other fibre arts this year. Since I already do a lot of knitting anyway, it doesn't seem like such a bad idea to plan some of it. In between school, work, and trying to remember to take out the recycling, I plan to:

1. Finish Sedum (as I'm almost 1/4 of the way through the pattern already, this shouldn't be difficult).

2. Get to the point with fair isle where I can do it competently (I'm working on a pair of mittens right now: slow going but it doesn't look bad).

3. Finish the Leaf in a Leaf shawl and knit at least one more lace shawl this year (probably Percy, since I have the yarn for it already).

4. Make something larger than mitts with my handspun yarn (how about a hat? or can I spin enough to make something lacy?). Also, get better at spinning.

5. Knit a rug for the Knitting Olympics using wool rags (rags need to be wound up into balls and I need to choose a pattern).

6. Knit something out of Knitted Lace of Estonia (the Raha Scarf is the one in my ravelry queue right now).

7. Knit another sweater (maybe Spoke?).

8. Learn to crochet enough to make Chanson En Crochet (crochet has been my Waterloo--my spinning is fairly decent for a beginner, and when I learned to knit, everything clicked and it worked, but crochet drives me batty. And I still want to beat it, and actually be a little competent with it).

9. Learn to do intarsia and double-knitting (I promised my dad argyle socks sometime, and double-knitting looks like fun, too).

10. Knit the Maple Swirl Socks by Debbie New (you should see the chart for these: it's insane! there's arrows and swirly sections and she even includes fair-isle).

11. Finish my wedding ring quilt (it's been a goal for a while, and I just need to take some time, sit down, and sew for a couple days, and then I will be at the fun part. I like the quilting better than the piecing).

12. AND finish those Christmas knitting projects. I've knit something fast for those people for this Christmas, but I'd like to get the projects I started this year done for next Christmas.

And I think that's about it. I'd like to work my way through more of the items in my queue, but some of those will take longer than others. And working my way through some of the stash would be good, too (no, it's not a huge stash, but if I don't buy yarn unless it's for a specific project, and knit mostly from stash, I can get through lots of it this year).

29 December 2009

odds and ends

This was an interesting Christmas, and it's not exactly over yet. We've done Christmas with my family, but we don't get to do Christmas with my husband's family until next weekend (I may finally meet his elusive, furniture-making grandfather who refuses to leave the island).

I did do some baking this year. I made my very first fruitcake, and it was delicious. I've discovered, in recent years, that I actually like fruitcake, and now that I know how easy it is to make one (I didn't do one that has to sit for weeks wrapped in paper and brandy), I plan to make more. I made my first batch of divinity that was not crunchy (although I need to fine-tune some of the process since it was more like a giant marshmallow in consistency), and the fudge turned out okay. I can get it to taste exactly right, but I'm still having problems with it being too soft. It takes practice. I made pumpkin butter a couple days ago. A friend made some a while back and it sounded really good, so I hunted down a recipe. It smells good and the leftovers that I put straight into the fridge taste pretty good. I canned most of it. The batch made more than I expected.

My parents and brothers came for a visit. The hats I knit my brothers were popular and the camera cozy for my dad was put to immediate use (it fits his underwater camera pretty well). They brought me some bamboo yarn from Yarnia in Portland. I have a plan for it at the moment, but I am open to changing it if I run across a pattern I like better.

We spent Boxing Day evening at the hotel my family was staying at. We cooked dinner on the minuscule stove, played a few games, and set a Christmas pudding on fire (so much fun!). I had forgotten how incredibly loud my brothers are. J. can be loud but if you put him and my three brothers in the same room, the noise is deafening. And my dad already has hearing loss, so having a conversation with him with the rest of the family in the same room is difficult. I guess he and I should both learn ASL and then he and my mom and I can all talk in spite of the noise.

The next morning, their car started having problems. It was hemorrhaging oil and came to a stop at a gas station. A friend at church generously let them borrow a car from him and recommended a mechanic a block from where J. and I live (we don't have a car, so we're not really up on the best mechanics in the area--now we know). So Sunday afternoon was spent arranging a rental car so my dad and brothers could get home on Monday. I couldn't do much, other than allow them the use of our phone and internet, so I baked pumpkin pie. Brother 2 immediately informed me that it was "not as good as Mom's." He got scolded by Mom for that. She thought the pie was great.

So my mom spent an extra day with us, getting the car fixed. It was nice to spend some more time with her, although I would have preferred it if their car hadn't had problems.

And now it's New Year's Eve. We're staying in. I'm not a party person and I've no interest in getting drunk. We have a couple seasons of Fry and Laurie out from the library and I'm working on my technique with fair isle. It's going pretty slowly right now, but if I get frustrated with it, there's always the sweater or a pair of fairly plain socks. I'm nearly finished with the increases for the sleeves on the sweater. I have hopes for this one, since I've already knit my disastrous first sweater. This can be the fairly decent second sweater.

23 December 2009

an outing

I went on a little adventure yesterday. One of the LYSes moved to another town a couple months ago, and I've been planning to go visit and see their new store. I finally went.

White Rock is a seaside town, and it has the requisite adorable little shops and interesting restaurants in addition to the beach and the pier. I still find it weird to stand on the beach, look out at the ocean, and see land on the other side (since it's in a bay, and you're not in a bay, along the coast here there's always Vancouver Island), since where I grew up, if you went to the beach, you looked out across the ocean, and there was just ocean, seemingly going on forever. However, White Rock is very nice, and there are some gorgeous houses in the area, too (I like looking at houses). Since it's a good hour on the bus to get there, I haven't been since sometime this summer.

I stopped at the used bookstore (which has shrunk, sadly, since the last time I was there), and next I headed for Knitopia, where I chatted for a bit. Bought a ball of wool. And then I went over to Penelope Fibre. Oh, man, it's amazing! It's a little like walking into a high class jewelry store but with spinning and weaving supplies instead. I was restrained and only bought some roving (really pretty roving reminiscent of the Northern Lights), but I spent a lot of time looking and drooling. They have swifts and niddy-noddys and some nice spindles (although I think the spindle selection at Knitopia is a bit better). I was tempted, a bit, but I just settled for the merino roving.

And back to everyday matters. I should check on the fruitcake in the oven. And then off to the grocery store. We're almost out of eggs.

20 December 2009

the world inside my head is a strange place (but there are croissants)

We ventured out into the world of retail this afternoon. I suddenly realized that I'd forgotten to get my mum a Christmas gift, and that I'd planned to get a couple other people some small gifts. So off we went. I wandered through the craft store and laughed at the 25 mm needles. They look so clunky. I want a set that can live on my coffee table in case of vampire attacks, but I don't want to pay twenty dollars for a set of straight needles that I'm rarely going to use.

Then we went to Chapters, which was a bit of a madhouse. And there was a display of romance novels right there, available for ridiculing. Part of me wants to work for one of those publishing companies and be the one who comes up with those titles, because they are hysterical. There is an entire series devoted to Nascar, and a number of others featuring billionaires. He's got to be rich, drop-dead gorgeous, and a man of the world. She's got to be drop-dead gorgeous, not rich, and innocent (i.e., not a woman of the world so she can be ravished by the billionaire). There are titles like, "One Cowboy, One Christmas" and "The Billionaire's Secret Love-Child" and dozens more that are even funnier. J. and I tend to read the titles out loud in dramatic voices and then laugh at each other.

Most of the people there probably thought we were very strange. I didn't notice anyone quietly backing away, but I tend to be in my own little world when I'm at a bookstore. I thought about counting the number of vampire-themed books in the teen section, but decided that would take too long. Is it just me, or do the new covers for New Moon look like the book now belongs with the Harlequin novels? It just needs a funnier title now.

While waiting in line, we discussed what to do on Christmas Day. Friday will have the novelty of being the first time we don't spend Christmas Day with family. We're at a bit of a loss as to what to do. We're keeping the croissant tradition of his family (homemade croissants are fabulous), and we've talked about watching a movie. Maybe a Christmas-themed one. But there are no fixed plans. Everyone we know is already doing something else, and we do have family coming on Boxing Day, so I guess it'll just be a nice, quiet day together. With croissants.

19 December 2009

just a few days to Christmas and...

Christmas knitting:

3 hats: finished.

One camera lense cozy: about 50%

One pair of socks: about 25% (needs to be finished by Jan 8)

One pair of mittens: about 15% (same as above)

I also couldn't take it any longer and started Sedum. The Serpentine Socks are done, and I am wearing them right now. The wool was a bit itchy until I washed it. I used shampoo and some conditioner. It's wool, and wool is hair, right?

Since relatives are coming to visit for Christmas, I'm using this as a good excuse to re-organize some things. Yesterday I cleaned the stove and got rid of some pots and pans that we don't use. Today I tidied out the corner where I had a stack of old class notes and binders and sorted out what I really wanted to keep and what wasn't worth saving. Then I put a plastic storage tub in that corner and put yarn in it. Now the baskets in that area in front of the small bookcase have yarn (some of the stash but not all) and spinning supplies. Most of the spinning fiber, except what's actually on the spindle, went into the plastic tub, too. The basket just has what I'm spinning up right now. That corner looks so much tidier than the rest of the living room now.

When it comes to Christmas decorating, I'm more of a minimalist. We have an Advent candle thing on the table (it should be a wreath, but it's actually just a holder for four candles that has no Christmas theme whatsoever, so I can use it during the rest of the year, too). And I got a little fake tree on sale the other day. It has one ornament hanging on it, because I need to finish organizing things in the living room before I'm willing to finish decorating it.

And I still want to do some more Christmas baking. I've done some cookies, but I want to make fudge, too. I'd like to get better at divinity, too. Last year, it didn't go so well. My husband was stirring the egg whites, and I was pouring the sugar syrup in, and, sadly, the syrup, although it wasn't meant for his hand, still ended up there. Boiling sugar syrup and skin don't go together. He still reminds me of this sometimes. This year, I think the mixer will be going while I pour the sugar syrup in. The bowl and the whisk don't mind if I pour hot syrup on them.

Well, back to the camera cozy.

13 December 2009

snow!

It's snowing today. And while my picture is not the best one I've ever taken of snow, it is fairly representative of the snow outside my building today. It's starting to build up in the grass, but it is far more visible on the sidewalks. The snow is coming down in teeny-tiny little flakes, so that should indicate that it won't stop for a while. I just hope I'll be able to get in to school tomorrow. The librarian will be sad if I don't return anything, and I was hoping to hand in hard copies of my papers (although I'll still send in digital ones, too, since my prof said he likes digital copies as he's less likely to misplace them).

And in the midst of the frantic paper-writing and not sleeping well because I can't stop dreaming about the Obligatory Contour Principle or what Trubetzkoy said about prosody (and on the nights I don't dream about linguistics, I dream about knitting itty-bitty mittens with toothpicks), I take occasional breaks to knit. I finished Brother 2's hat. Brother 3's hat will be started tomorrow evening. And, out of frustration with the black yarn and the language data I was working through, I started some socks. Here's the first one.

I'm using the Serpentine pattern from Socks From the Toe Up. It's intended to be knit with sport-weight yarn, but since I'm having problems with socks stretching so they're just a hair too big, I decided to knit this with fingering weight yarn. And it's come out very nicely. It fits snugly and I did some increases before starting the ribbing, which means that the ribbing is not too tight around my leg, so the socks shouldn't droop around my ankles. I'll be mirroring the squiggles on the second sock (just starting in a different place in the pattern) because I think it will look better. The yarn is Patons Kroy Socks FX in Cascade. Superwash wool and nylon. The icy blue seems appropriate at this time of the year, and the subtle colour changes pair well with the pattern.

I'm a little worried about Christmas, though. All the decorations make me want to get some red and green and white yarn and knit candy-cane socks. Hopefully I'll be able to restrain myself.

08 December 2009

sleep zombies

I actually slept last night and it was wonderful!

I've been having problems sleeping well. I go to bed, spend nearly an hour tossing and turning, and then manage to doze off, while not being able to stop thinking about the papers I have to finish. I've also been waking up at odd times, earlier than usual. And yesterday, when I tried to have a nap, I just dozed off a bit, but didn't stop thinking about work. So while I technically have been sleeping (and more than some of my classmates have), it still feels like I've been pulling all-nighters. And when I don't sleep, or I don't sleep well, I have a difficult time concentrating.

And last night I actually managed to get some real sleep. I'm a little tired today, but not exhausted like I was yesterday. My eyes don't look like burned holes today (I like that simile--it's so expressive). And it's a good thing. I was about to turn into a zombie who shuffles around saying, "Reeessst," while carrying a pillow.

Today I have a couple hours work to put in on a paper, and some more work to put in on a different paper. But tomorrow morning I can check one class off my list!

06 December 2009

new pie-uter (computer, in my family)

So, my beloved computer started doing fritzy things last week. My old computer had rarely done strange things, so the fact that it did something that required the recovery disc indicated that it was time to say goodbye. I'd been planning to get a new one a couple weeks from now, but I didn't want it to die in the middle of this week. That would be bad, since I have 3 papers due. Now I have a brand-new computer. It's very shiny (well, technically, no, but it's black and grown-up looking since I haven't had the chance to find any awesome stickers to put on the top). Winnifred1 (my old computer) is still waiting for me to finish taking stuff off of her hard drive. I have just about everything except for a bunch of pictures. It feels weird. I've had that computer since the end of high school. It was running on Windows XP and it had Microsoft Office 2000 on it. We may be able to reformat it and find someone who can use it, but if not, recycling is another option.

Winnifred2 is a brand-name computer, rather than the off-brand Winnifred1 was. She's a little bit smaller, much lighter, and has a couple keys on the keyboard swapped around, so I keep hitting 'function' rather than 'control.' The CD tray and USB ports are on the opposite side of what I'm used to. She has Windows 7 and Office 2007 and it's taking me a while to get used to it. For example "sleep mode" in 7 is the same thing as "stand-by mode" in XP. Everything's configured differently, and while Word still does all the same stuff, trying to figure out where all the right buttons are is taking me a while. There's a touchpad mouse, and one of those little eraser-shaped mouse buttons in the middle of the keyboard (I also have a USB mouse, which I prefer to use. It's less finicky and far less likely to make me accidentally copy things).

It looks nice, it responds well, and the only program on here that's annoyed me so far has been Norton Anti-Virus, which has been deleted and replaced with something else. Other than that, and getting used to the keyboard and the interface, I'm pretty happy with it. It's just...strange. I don't always do well with change (says the girl who packed up and moved to a different country to go to university). Some changes are easier to get used to than others, I suppose.

In the world of knitting, well, the brown striped socks are approaching the gusset increase (about 1 cm to go), the Jayne hat is finished and the black hat's nearly half-way done (apparently Brother 2 is giving me something amazing for Christmas, so he's going to get a really great black hat that will keep his ears and head nice and warm). In frustration yesterday, while working on a paper on my old computer while my husband started setting up my new one (although then he left to go ice-skating and I had to find the key for the internet and set up a network so I can print without having to put the file on a flash drive, and download Firefox and some other stuff all on my own. And it worked, which was nice. Went around in a circle for a little bit while I tried to get the IPA keyboard working, but in the end, I won), I started knitting a new pair of socks. These are an experiment to see if a 48 st sock (fingering weight, 2.5 mm needles) will fit my foot and not stretch out too big (the problem with normal sock circumferences seems to be that the stretch that happens with any sock is meant to accomodate someone with slightly wider feet than me. They also get droopy around the ankles really fast). I really need 2.0 mm needles for some socks, since some patterns don't allow much variation without looking way different, but this pattern was designed for sport-weight yarn. I'm happy with the results so far, but I'm not very far into them yet. Homework is the priority right now, after all. Knitting is mostly happening at knitting groups. And if my brain really, really needs a break.

02 December 2009

knitting with a digression into language theories

Updates:
Jayne hat: finished. Brother 1 will be getting it a couple days after Christmas.

Brown Stripy Socks: Almost to the gusset increases (this is an accomplishment, since I've felt very little motivation to knit on these socks, despite them being a Christmas gift).

Dishcloth: Not quite half-way finished. It's the "ball-band" dishcloth. I rather like the pattern, despite its ubiquity.

Lace shawl: Haven't touched it.

Slipped-stitch hat: Need to dye more yarn before I can start it. Green and dark brown.

Brother 2's hat: Begun, ribbing about half-finished (at about 1 1/2 inches). Black wool.

In everything else, well, school is busy right now. Tonight I'm working on one paper, and tomorrow I'll have to switch to another because I have a presentation due on that paper on Monday. I think I may be spending some time at the coffee shop tomorrow morning. Last week, I'd planned to go to Starbucks (it's a block away and my laptop is heavy), but it was loud and busy. I went another block down the street and ended up at a local coffee shop, which is quiet and calm and has free internet and where they are very welcoming. So I'll go there with my books and my laptop and have a pot of tea (it's cheap) and work.

Last night, I couldn't stop dreaming about the Obligatory Contour Principle (tone stuff, theory paper). Tonight it'll probably be consonant inventories of the proto-language our class has been working on.

Needless to say, my brain is tired, which is why I'm writing this at the moment. I wish had something deep and insightful to say, but the closest I can get is that I think Construction Grammar has a lot of potential, being as it's holistic, and technically generative (although the generativists would probably disagree), and rather mind-bending (can't have a good theory about language without that aspect somewhere), and has a really great way to deal with idioms and the senses of words that normal generativists would put in the lexicon (which gets cumbersome after a while), and it actually seems to have practical applications (I may be wrong about some of these--I haven't read enough yet on it--if it does all these things well, it just may be my dream theory). Suffice to say, if I'd known about it at the beginning of theory class, I might have written my paper on syntax and idiomatic expressions. Yeah. That's what's on my mind right now.

So now I must go put my shoulder to the wheel (idiom!) and get to work on those consonants.

30 November 2009

starting, starting, starting...where's the end?

There's this thing I read about in a knitting book. It's called 'startitis.' I think I have it.

On the needles right now: socks (Christmas gift), Jayne hat (Christmas gift, almost done), dishcloth (Christmas gift), lace shawl (not a Christmas gift).

In need of casting on: Cabled mittens which were knit for a few rounds and then frogged. They need smaller needles. (Christmas gift).

Just off the needles: A lacy headband scarf which has used up the last of my Misti Alpaca sock yarn. All gone! Hooray!

Swatches finished: Sedum cardigan (my first raglan--wish me luck!), felted slippers (swatch needs another round in the washing machine to get to the felted consistency which I desire).

Yarn dyed: Yarn dyed with coffee, green tea, black tea, and nettle tea to make varying earth-toned shades of yarn for a hat (birthday gift for a friend, likely to be the next thing to be cast on). I still need a darker green in the mix as well, and possibly a darker brown, too (food colouring).

Other projects on the list: black hat (Christmas present), blue hat (Christmas present), camera cozy (again, Christmas present), Labyrinth socks (from Wendy Johnson's delightful book).

Startitis may be a problem. Hey, I need something to give my mind a break during the next week and a half while I finish papers for school. Might as well be working on Christmas presents. I've been putting data into tables all evening and it's very boring (yes, I love my field, but the data entry loses its excitement very quickly).

Most of them (socks excepted) are very fast projects. The Jayne hat was started this weekend and I'm nearly done with the first earflap. One more earflap to go, attach the pompom, and it's done. Merry Christmas, brother 1. Brother 2 is getting a black hat, since it is his colour of choice for clothing, and Brother 3 is getting a blue one (I'd been thinking gloves for him, but I don't have the time, or his hand measurements). My father gets the camera cozy, which will be kind of like a tube sock in worsted to bulky weight yarn. I think Mum might get a book, though. I'm running out of steam for all these knitting projects.

Well, time to sort out my lesson plan for tomorrow before going to bed. Modality...so much fun. If only I could figure out what that suffix is supposed to mean.

25 November 2009

frogging

Every knitter probably has had at least one project which didn't turn out as anticipated. Sometimes these can be re-purposed. The itty-bitty llama hat I made earlier this year got given to a friend with a baby, and I knit another, larger one.

Back in the summer, I knit a tank-top. It's a good pattern, very popular, but it doesn't seem to have been designed for someone shaped like me. I'm not curvy enough, and I didn't realize that until I finished it. So, I wore it a few times, over a t-shirt (to preserve my modesty, and because the whole world does not need to see that much of my blindingly white skin), and then it languished in the drawer for a while. I frogged it tonight. There was about 80% of a ball of it left over, so that, together with what I frogged tonight, may be enough for a short-sleeved top.

I knit a cowl this summer, too. It matches one of my berets, as they're both in a bulky thick-and-thin yarn that ranges from yellow, to green, to brown. And I knit it much too large. So I don't wear it. It was also frogged. I want it to be a cowl, but I want one that fits. I wear scarves a lot, but I've only knitted one scarf for myself, and it's still a little too heavy, given the current temperatures. So a cowl seems like a nice option, if I can make this one small enough (but not too small, since I have no wish to be choked).

Frogging is actually rather relaxing, despite the fact that I'm undoing all that work. I guess knowing that I will can turn the yarn into something else that I'll be happy with is comforting.

24 November 2009

I misplaced my favourite crochet hook the other day. And no, I don't crochet, not really, but it's the little steel hook I use for picking up gusset stitches and fixing dropped stitches on socks. The last time I remember having it was about a week and a half ago, and now it is gone. I had to buy a new one because the only one I have smaller than that is too small for the socks I'm knitting right now. The loss of this hook is bothering me more than it really should. I keep rummaging around my desk and in the basket of yarn and the knitting bag to see if it's there. I like the old one much better than I like the new one, but should I really be obsessing over a tool I use to fix things in socks when there are other, more important, things to attend to?

I try to tell myself that it'll turn up the next time I do a really thorough tidy-up of the living room. But it still bothers me. If you know where it disappeared to, let me know, hey?

17 November 2009

the sound of hail...

...is what woke me up this morning. I realized when my alarm first went off, that it's Tuesday, which means I can technically sleep a bit later than usual. So I reset the alarm, and started awake about two minutes before that went off at the sound of the hail. It was so loud I was worried a window had broken and it was coming inside. It wasn't, but it was sure making a good effort.

The weather around here has been very wet of late. It's been warmish (10 C, about), with so much rain that I heard we're supposed to get about twice the month's annual rainfall within a few days. Plus, there's also the gusts of wind. Basically, every evening this week will probably be a dark and stormy night. And then I think the temperature's supposed to drop after this. Fun.

It's the time of year for hot tea and hot soup and warm blankets. And sweaters. And thick socks. Well, I wear warm socks most of the year, since my feet get cold easily, but this is the right weather for them. I'm getting very good at looking at what we have and making soup out of it. Lentil, pea, potato. I think it's about time to cook up that butternut squash I picked up a couple weeks ago. Tonight we had rice. When my sister-in-law and her husband moved overseas, we got all the groceries they had on hand, which included about half of a large bag of rice, and several smaller, unopened bags of the same. It feels like we will never run out of the stuff. Rice and beans, rice and curry, rice pudding, rice pilaf...I guess it's a good thing rice is so versatile. Butternut squash and rice soup. Hmm. Can it be done?

15 November 2009

bits and pieces of new things

When I learn something new and manage to execute it well, I am filled with delight. This applies to understanding concepts in linguistic theory, as well as baking a type of bread I've never tried before and knitting techniques.

So I baked anadama bread. I'd never had it before, but I had heard of it, and it turned out well. The recipe I used has some cornmeal, eggs, and molasses in it, as well as the regular yeast, salt, and wheat flour. It makes good sandwich bread.

The experiment with leaving dairy out of my diet in an attempt to see if that's what's been causing my allergies failed. I was even more congested this week. I am now convinced that the allergen is likely dust or something else environmental (at the library, among the dusty shelves, despite how clear my sinuses were five minutes before, I will suddenly become congested and then rapidly develop a sinus headache). So I had my first cup of tea with milk in it this week yesterday morning and it was wonderful. I missed dairy. I hadn't realized just how dependent on it I am until I tried pouring soy milk into my assam (which I do not recommend; it's fine with chai or those matcha latte things from Starbucks, and in hot chocolate and coffee, but not in plain, black tea).

And in knitting...I finally learned how to do a toe-up cast-on that was not the "easy toe!" I have struggled with the figure-eight cast-on, and with the Turkish cast-on, and this week, I managed to learn how to do Judy's Magic Cast-On. On DPNs, no less. I have tried the 2 circular needles and magic-looping approaches (not with socks, but with mitts and hats), and still prefer DPNs, although when I lack DPNs of the correct size, I will make use of these other methods. I started a pair of Christmas socks that have been frogged twice already. I think knitting them toe-up is helping, though. Plain stockinette on the foot, toe-up, flap heel, and I plan to start the ribbing as soon as the heel is finished.

I also finished a cuff-down sock (with picot edging! something new!). I've started the second one, but it may take a while, since I do want to get the Christmas socks done first. E.'s birthday socks are all finished as well, but she won't be getting them for a while because we're both really busy for the next few weeks. Also on the list are mittens based on Bella's mittens in the Twilight movie, also for a Christmas gift. They won't be the exact same colour, but the intended recipient loves Twilight, so hopefully she will like the mittens.

My husband taught me how to play Small World yesterday, and I won. That was pretty exciting. Usually he wins at board games and I can only beat him after playing the game many times. It is a fun, colourful game.

And I suppose that's all for the moment.

12 November 2009

cleaning out the closet

I've been on a bit of a sweater-purge lately. I used to be so attached to my sweaters that I would never get rid of any of them, despite the fact that there were quite a few which I rarely wore. My husband criticized me on this a bit. He's a man, and most of what's in his wardrobe gets worn frequently, except for the suit. I was much more emotionally attached to my sweaters, and didn't want to get rid of them. Most of them were gifts. From my grandmother. Who lives several hundred miles from here, so she doesn't see what I wear most of the time, but when I do see her, I should let her know that I'm using her gifts, right? Besides, they're useful as insulation and packing materials (okay, not really, but any excuse would do, hey?). Since I started knitting last year, my attachment to my store-bought sweaters has waned a bit, and I was able to look at my closet with a more critical eye. Keep in mind that the following sweaters have been in my possession for 4-8 years.

The grey turtleneck with the band of snowflakes around the chest? Such a scratchy acrylic that I don't wear it because it itches so much.

The lavender turtleneck with sparkly silver bits in the yarn? Pretty, but I don't really like turtlenecks, and the colour doesn't suit me. I'm not really a pastel kind of girl. And it's acrylic.

The brown and green striped pullover which I bought because I loved it? It's always been the tiniest bit too short, and the stripes are not placed in flattering places. Also, acrylic.

The maroon and black pullovers? Nice enough, but the mock-t neck doesn't do much for me, so I rarely wear them. Plus, acrylic.

The cotton fair-isle cardigan that was given to my mum and didn't fit her, so I got it? Heavy beyond belief. So much so that I avoid wearing it.

My brown turtleneck got frogged and the wool is waiting to become a vest. I liked the yarn but not the turtleneck part.

The thick wool pullover with the absolutely enormous turtleneck that my aunt gave me? Well, she knit it years ago, I got it as a hand-me-down, and she told me that when I outgrew it, she'd be willing to take it back. I'll give it a good washing and get it back to her. It's a handknit, and she hasn't knit very many sweaters. If it had been something I'd found at the thrift store, I would either unravel it for the yarn or modify it, but it's not.

The other ones, though...they went to the charity shop around the corner. They're all nice sweaters. They just don't work well for me. And it took me a while to admit it, but it's true. I have a couple of pullovers I wear because they are comfortable, although the blue-green acrylic one may be the next to go. I'm wearing it right now and it's itchier than I remembered. And there's a few cardigans which are frequently used. The long red wool-acrylic sweater-jacket I picked up at the thrift store for part of my Halloween costume is getting a lot of wear (and compliments, too!). My red cotton cabled cardigan gets worn a lot as well, and so does the white cotton hooded cardigan.

Since I am planning to knit sweaters for myself now, it doesn't make sense to hold on to the ones that I don't wear. And it really did feel good to donate them to the shop down the street. Hopefully someone who can actually use them will get them.

I got rid of a bunch of shoes, too.

08 November 2009

sock picture!

Here's the first Lace and Cable Sock. The second one is in progress. I really like the gusset and heel for this one. It fits much better than the short-row heel does, although that style is easier to remember. I have to use the pattern instructions to work this heel, and it's a bit more fiddly, but it's worth it.

Well, I've got to get some work done, and I don't really have anything else to write about. So that's all for now. I'll try for a better picture when both of the socks are finished.

05 November 2009

welcome to November

It is officially November. We have a rainfall and a wind warning. There is wind. There are gusts of wind. There are stubborn leaves flying off of their trees by the dozens. This happens every year. In November, we get lots of rain and it gets incredibly windy. So windy that it can make your car shift while you are driving (and yes, while we still had a car, I went out driving in wind like this. At night. It's not that bad. I'm better at driving in wind and rain than in snow). I'm glad I live in the city now. I miss the quiet of being farther away from the traffic and everything, but when the power goes out here, it takes two hours to get it back on, not two days.

Days like today make me want to huddle inside, wrapped in a quilt, drinking hot tea. I settled for doing dishes, folding laundry, washing more, and making sure the chairs on our balcony were out of the way of the rain. And I went to the grocery store for a few things.

I did my first Kool-Aid dyeing yesterday. It was fun. Now I have cherry red aran weight wool. Today, I tried over-dyeing some yarn. I had a couple skeins of a bulky single-ply in bright crayon colours. I liked them, but a friend suggested over-dyeing them with some brown. She did that with some similar yarn and got autumn colours out of it. I decided to give it a try, since I like autumn colours better than the really bright crayon ones.

So I ventured into the Scoop'n'Save down the street to get the dye. I walk by there a couple times a day on my way to and from the bus stop, and I've never been in before. I look in the window a lot. They sell cake-making and cookie-baking supplies, and there are model cakes in the window. One of them looks like Tinkerbell is being sacrificed to a flower volcano, and it makes me giggle. Anyway, I know where to look for cookie cutters now. I don't think I've ever seen such a variety of cake pans and cookie cutters. I bought some brown food colouring and came home. The yarn is cooling in warm clear water right now, and we'll see how the colours turned out after it's dry. The colours are certainly a bit toned down.

So now, here I am with my tea, typing away, listening to gusts of wind. They seem to be getting stronger. At times, my apartment shakes a bit from the force of it. Well, I'd best go find something to do, and hope that the weather doesn't get too extreme.

03 November 2009

hoodoo? you do!

While knitting this afternoon (and since there was laundry in the dryer and bread in the oven), I decided to watch a short movie. I picked it up at the library recently. It has Cary Grant and Shirley Temple in it, and its name is "The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer." It is possibly one of the nuttiest movies I have ever seen. Shirley Temple's character is a teenager with a crush on a much older artist (Cary Grant, of course), and due to her and her psychiatrist uncle, and older sister (a judge), he ends up being forced to take her out on dates until she learns her lesson and gets over him. It's goofy. And it makes me want to watch "The Philadelphia Story" again. And the library does have it!

I've nearly finished the first lace and cable sock. Just the ribbing to go! These are such a fun knit. I can't wait to see how E. likes them.

26 October 2009

trying to find shoes. and jeans. but socks are done!

Sigh. I dropped by the thrift store today because I wanted to find something for my Halloween costume. My husband and I are going as Captain Hammer and Penny, and for Penny, I just figured I could go for the trendy-nerdy-hipster look and I'd be good. And I wanted to get jeans for the outfit. I rummaged through the jeans a bit, and then gave up. I'm between sizes right now. One size is too small, and the next size up is too big, at least in one brand. And I didn't want to try on more pairs because I was tired and wanted to go home. I'll just do the costume with trousers instead of jeans (although my only pair of jeans is getting too big; I tend to wear them at home or while house-cleaning). I buy clothes at the thrift store because I'm more likely to find things I actually like there than at the mall (and I loathe the mall). Also, it's usually cheaper. And I'm recycling clothing. I looked at shoes, too. I should go to an actual shoe store (which, sadly, would entail going to the mall), and see if I can find something. I've got a couple of pairs of practical, nice-looking shoes (brown and black) that I've had for over five years and they are starting to come apart. The problem is that the shoes at thrift stores (some of which are quite nice and barely worn) all seem to have tall, chunky heels, which make me trip and cause my back to hurt. Or if they are flats, they're really flimsy and my feet would get wet every time I wore them in this climate. So I'm unsure as to whether I can actually find what I'm looking for. We shall see. I might go and endure the mall on Thursday.

I finished the Wonderland Socks today, finally. I used up all of the white and probably almost half the skein of the blue. I finished the ribbing at the top in blue because I ran out of white and it seemed absurd to buy an entire skein of yarn to finish 6 rounds of ribbing. They are comfy but slide down more than I'd thought. They're still too big around the ankles, despite the decreases. The pair that's up next is the "Lace and Cable Socks" from Socks From the Toe Up, in Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine. I spent a while struggling with the Turkish cast-on tonight, and I think for now I'm just going to go with what I've been doing for the toes. The Turkish cast-on seems to work better on circs, and I don't have a set small enough.

Well, I'd best be going. I need to sleep soon. Turns out sleeping regularly is really good for me. Who knew?

23 October 2009

Sometimes, it's really annoying when that class you hated back in undergrad and nearly failed actually proves useful. Drat you, logic!

Although, remembering that 'iff' means 'if and only if' is kind of handy.

22 October 2009

late

Last week, I had one of those disaster mornings. I was up late finishing something for school (it was one of those readings that was difficult to read and then to condense into 2-3 pages), so when I finally went to bed at 3:30 in the morning, I knew I wouldn't get much sleep. So then I collapsed into bed for a few hours. My husband gets up at 5, thereby waking me up at five, and then again at six when he leaves, and he resets the alarm for me to get up at 7. I often get up and hit the snooze button a couple times. When I did this that Friday morning, I managed to sleep as I did so, and not realize that I'd hit the button a few too many times. I woke up fifteen minutes after I was supposed to live. Since my bus was leaving in ten minutes, there was no way on earth, unless I could teleport, that I would be able to get to class on time. In a hurry, I grabbed my homework, put on clothes, and ran out the door without even stopping for a cup of tea. I made it for the next bus, which leaves almost ten minutes after my class starts. Of course, I realized, once I was outside, that I'd put my shirt on inside-out. I was late for class, crept in, and took the last seat left and sat there for the last half of class with my coat on, to hide the inside-out shirt. After class, I went to the bathroom and turned my shirt the right-side-out, and after my next class, ran and got myself some coffee. And after that, my day got much better, and finished by being pretty good after all. And today I plan to get the assignment for tomorrow done early enough that I will sleep properly tonight.

Oh, the Rusalka Mitts are finished, and I will post pictures once I figured out how get the &*%$# door-thing for the battery compartment open so I can give it new batteries. They are pretty and I don't want to take them off.

18 October 2009

beads

The craft store doesn't like me. How else to explain the lack of bugle beads in the colour, shape, and size that I want? Instead of iridescent bugle beads, I have golden glass seed beads, which look wonderful, but take longer to sew on.

Other than finishing the rest of the beading on the mitts, they are finished. They are soft, and warm, and very pretty, and the beads will make them even prettier. I will have pictures when they are finished.

16 October 2009

reminiscing: fire

Several years ago, I and one of my best friends had moved into our first apartment. It was on-campus at our university, and it was very small. A studio apartment, with high ceilings (which I believe are meant to make you think you have more space, but really make you feel like they're cheating you, since it would be so easy to install a small loft for storage). There was a cramped bathroom, and I swear, the clothes' closet was bigger than the kitchen. My roommate, E., calls small kitchens "one-butt kitchens." This was, at most, a half-butt kitchen. It was so narrow that you could not open the oven and the fridge at the same time, since they were across from each other. There was a shallow kitchen sink with no dividers (there are no dividers in the sink in my current apartment, but the sink is sizable).

Anyway, it was our first apartment, and while I remember it rather fondly, since it was my haven that year when I was horribly stressed and unhappy, I also remember that it was very small and crowded and that the next apartment we moved into, a one-bedroom smaller than the one where my husband and I live now (and we don't live in a big apartment), seemed huge in comparison.

But there are some stories about it. This one happened maybe a month or so after we'd moved in.

Since this was an apartment in a school building, there were rules. "No boys after 11 pm" was technically a rule, but since, as students in apartments, we were under no supervision, we broke that one a lot. "No candles" was a big one. I love candles, and when I moved into a building that allowed smoking, some of the first things I unpacked were candles and incense. We followed that rule because of the smoke detector. It went off once when we made toast. However, it did not go off when we fried fish and burned it and the entire room was filled with smoke. And it didn't go off this time, either.

E.'s then boyfriend (now fiance, soon-to-be husband), Peter, would come over a lot. He lived off-campus, so our apartment was his home-away-from-home. One afternoon, he was making Kraft Dinner and E. was at her computer and I was at mine, both of us working on homework (or possibly reading webcomics, not sure which). Peter isn't the greatest cook in the world (he once whipped cream to put on top of a pie and then asked me, "Hey, does whipping cream have sugar in it?" "No, you have to add it," I said, and he started scraping whipped cream off of the pie to remedy the lack of sugar), but he is better than some. Which is why I was surprised to hear, coming from the corner where the kitchen was, "Oh, hey. There's flames!"

I hurry over to find flames dancing from the little cavity beneath the burner. He's just staring at them. I sensibly grab a pot lid and cover the fire. No fire alarm, flames go out, we're good. And E. and I shake our heads, and tell stories about how her boyfriend set our stove on fire while making Kraft Dinner.

I've since set potholders on fire, but not the stove. I do hate electric stoves, though. I really want a gas stove again someday. On one of those, flames mean it's working properly.

12 October 2009

yarn sale

The yarn sale at out at 88 Stitches became a part of a plot to get my best friend engaged this weekend. She and I dropped my husband and her boyfriend off somewhere and went to the yarn sale, where we had to stay until I got texted and notified that they were ready. E. knits, but I'm trying to get her to knit more. She got some Noro yarn for a hat, and some sock yarn. I browsed a lot longer, since I'd gotten a text message telling me that they weren't ready yet. So, while we browsed, she spotted a copy of a book she knew that I wanted, and got it for me as a belated birthday present. She's getting a really nice pair of handknit socks for her birthday (I would knit her something from the book, but I won't have time between now and November to knit an entire shawl).

Well, we finally got the okay to leave, so off we went. I got to hide in the bushes a ways away while he made a long speech (he's a writer, he likes words), so I couldn't eavesdrop, but it was apparently very romantic. They are now, finally, officially engaged, with a shiny ring to prove it. I'm really happy for them, and even more grateful that I don't have to stuff those rose petals down Peter's throat (since I threatened to do so if he didn't propose to her this weekend, given that this was planned earlier this summer, and due to a number of unforeseen events, had to be postponed until October).

Anyway, back to the yarn sale. The book was Knitted Lace of Estonia, by Nancy Bush. It is a wonderful book. I plan to start small, though. The Raha Scarf is nice, and I can commit to it sometime in the next couple of months without worrying about how much time it'll take me. I already have one lace shawl on the needles at the moment, and I'd like to finish it first before starting on a new lace project.

I spent a while at the store petting the cashmere. I've recently learned to appreciate just how soft cashmere is. I can't afford to knit everything out of cashmere, nor would I wish to, since I love wool, but it is beautiful, especially when paired with silk.

I ended up with a few balls of yarn, none of them cashmere (my husband told me to buy as much yarn as I wanted, so I was actually quite restrained, given his advice). I have two balls of Sandnes Garn Sisu, one red, one black, to knit a pair of fingerless mitts with (I am rapidly becoming addicted to fingerless mitts and socks. Things that come in pairs. Wonder what that says about my personality), in order to learn stranding properly. There's a skein of Ultra Alpaca Fine, also in red, for E.'s socks. And two balls of Panda Cotton, also for socks, but in blue, gree, and purple (seeing a theme here? all I bought was sock yarn). I have only knit socks with wool or alpaca, so I wanted to try a cotton. And bamboo-cotton sounded like fun.

And that's about all. I have two pairs of socks on the needles, a pair of mitts, and a lace shawl. When I finish one of these things, I get to start on E.'s socks, and when I finish another, I get to start my cardigan.

11 October 2009

books, pumpkins, and other stuff

I like to read. In spite of all the reading I do for school, I still want to read other books. At the moment, I'm lost in Buber's I and Thou. It is fascinating, although I can't help but wish that I knew German. It feels like it might be more poetic in the original. I'm not really sure why I like philosophy so much, since it's frequently over my head, but I do. I love it.

I also just finished Frank Schaeffer's memoir, Crazy for God, which was really good (he has a way with words). I have his novel, Portofino, on hold at the library now.

The Rusalka Mitts are turning out to be very pretty. I was hanging out at school on Friday and knitting with a friend. He called the yarn I'm using "the yarn of the gods." I think I agree with him there. It is fabulous yarn. The first mitt is nearly finished.

The first Wonderland Sock is done, the second has been started. I've worked a bit on a pair of socks which are a Christmas gift, and I even worked through a repeat on my lace shawl. Oh, this last week, since I had to go to the doctor, twice, which meant a several hour bus ride into downtown, I did the owl cable version of Fetching. I was knitting frantically on the bus, trying to figure out if I had enough yarn. I didn't. So the thumbs are a different colour. I added crochet edgings to make the thumbs fit in better. So I have green mitts with orange accents. Very autumnal, sort of a green leaves becoming orange concept.

We did Thanksgiving today with my husband's family. I made the pumpkin pies. I really should have gotten another pumpkin at the farmer's market. I think the one here goes until the end of October, and they ought to have more squash. Then I can cook it down and freeze some of it for the winter.

Well, I was going to stay up a bit and write, but I can't concentrate anymore. Tomorrow I will write about the trip I took to a yarn sale which, in a roundabout way, helped with a friend's engagement. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

04 October 2009

V-Con! (and a new spindle!)

Yesterday, we went to V-Con. After an hour or so on the bus and the SkyTrain, we arrived, paid our entrance fee, and wandered around. I wore my Jayne hat. I didn't feel like doing a costume, but wearing a Jayne hat, while wandering around with a partially knitted blue and white sock in hand does indicate that one is a geek of some sort.

I'm a webcomics geek, a sort of gaming geek (mostly by association, since my husband's a gaming geek), and a sci-fi geek of sorts (limited to Star Trek, Stargate, Joss Whedon series, and Zenna Henderson novels). I don't really read manga or watch anime, I'm not into Star Wars (although the 501st were there and that was pretty cool), and I don't dress up like a pirate wench (there were a few of those lugging a cardboard cutout of Jack Sparrow everywhere, including into the women's bathroom). So, oddly enough, I felt just a little out of place there. Maybe it was because I neglected to bring my cloak (although, since my cloak is green and blue plaid wool, and actually practical to wear, it might not have fit in all that well, since everyone else's was black and light-weight). Or it could have been due to my typical reaction to large crowds of strangers. I get quieter than usual, and shy.

I did have a lot of fun, though. We went this year mostly because Ryan Sohmer and Lar deSouza of LFG and Least I Could Do were there. I read Least I Could Do more than LFG these days (I like LFG, but since I'm only a gamer by association, it's perhaps not quite as funny to me as it is to J.). The author/artist of Goblins was also there, which I don't read, but J. does. So now we have an LFG book and a Goblins book. And I have a picture of Sohmer holding my sock. Thanks again for letting us take a picture!

We went to the game room and I got to play a round of Race for the Galaxy with the new expansion pack (J. just got the expansion pack last week and I hadn't gotten a chance to play it with him yet). I came in third in a five-player game. Then J. played Pandemic and I went to hang out and knit before the webcomics panel. That was fun (the panel, I mean). It was fascinating to hear what they had to say. My former roommate and I had briefly debated doing a webcomic a couple years ago. She'd do mostly drawing and I'd write (she can write but I can't draw well, so the storyline would have been a joint effort). Never got farther than the conceptual stage, though. It would be fun, but I doubt either of us has the time to commit to it.

So, my husband's souvenirs from V-Con were the books. Mine were the above picture of Sohmer with the sock, and this:


I bought this from Gaukler Medieval Wares, which had a booth at the Con. The whorl is a cast reproduction of a medieval spindle whorl. They also had actual medieval, Byzantine, and Roman spindle whorls (which, of course, exceeded my price range, but it was lovely to drool over them). I'd been looking for a shawl pin, and was at their booth when I spotted this. Then I forgot about the shawl pin (I have the ability to find fiber arts stuff just about anywhere--if it's there, I will find it--whether it's fiber, yarn, spindles, or fabric). I gave it a try when I got home, and while I'm not quite used to working with a bead-whorl spindle yet (as it handles a bit differently), I am happy about the yarn I'm getting from it. I love my Turkish spindle, but the finest I can spin on it, without the thread breaking, is probably at least twice as thick as what I can get on this. The plan is to practice with some of the Clun Forest for now, and then spin the merino I bought a while ago into either lace or fingering weight.

Here's a close-up of the whorl.
J. asked me if I'd bought a wand when he saw it.

Progress is being made on the Wonderland socks. I've had to edit a few rows of the tail out to make the socks the length that I want. I'm almost to the end of the tail. Then comes the ribbing, the bind-off, and the cast-on for the next sock. I also have the yarn for the cardigan the Tuesday knit night is doing as a knit-along. I've swatched, but I should cast on for that soon. The only planned change is to add pockets.

I also am checking out a webcomic I hadn't read before. Wasted Talent. So far, I like it.

01 October 2009

pretty

Since I'm procrastinating reading a chapter on Galilean phonology, I've decided to share something with you. A picture of pretty yarn.

I wish I could share its softness and absolute gorgeousness via the picture. This was the best one out of about twenty pictures (my camera had an off day, plus I'm still getting used to a digital camera).

This is a 50g skein of Handmaiden Fine Yarn Swiss Mountain Cashmere and Silk. I've been drooling over Handmaiden yarns for a while now, but I usually can't afford them. I really want to try the Seasilk, but that's almost sixty dollars for a single skein (granted, there is a lot of yarn in that skein). Anyway, one of the knitting groups I'm a part of did a yarn swap. It was a Magic Ball yarn swap, where you wrap little objects up in the ball of yarn. We picked names and then, based on a sheet of suggestions, picked out yarn, a pattern, and what to wind up in the ball. The amazing girl who got my name chose this yarn. I'm going to knit Rusalka with it, which is a fingerless glove pattern by Robin Melanson. It's beautiful, and while it was designed for the Seasilk yarn, this is a terrific substitute. I was thrilled to get this yarn. The colours are vivid and the yarn is soft. I just want to pet it. I've never knit with cashmere before. And the yarns with silk in them only had a small percentage of silk.

I haven't even knit with it yet, and I'm a convert to Handmaiden. Beautiful, beautiful stuff. I won't be able to buy it often, but it's worth saving up for a special project.

27 September 2009

a hat, some boring yarn, and food colouring

Well, since I'm waiting for some data to finish copying itself to the right folder, I figured I'd do some blogging. Pictured below is Uptown Purl's Lotus Hat, which I started on Friday. It's a birthday gift for my sister-in-law, who is turning 19 next week. I used Elann Peruvian Highland Wool for the project. This hat used just under a single skein of yarn, so I have three left. I was thinking of doing matching mittens for her for Christmas. I really like the lace pattern for this (crosshatch lace), especially because it has a cabled look to it. No actual cabling, so this was a really nice, fast knit.


A while ago, I found some sock yarn at the thrift store, and, thrilled, bought it. So I have two skeins of this Bouquet Sweaters and Socks yarn, one in green and one in yellow. I bought it without thinking too much about the colour, but to be honest, I don't love yellow. I don't own any yellow socks, none of my clothing is yellow except for part of a hat (I have more pink clothing than yellow), and the only other time I've gotten yellow yarn was for a project that I knit for someone else (the Jayne hat, although I did knit myself a Jayne hat afterwards to use up some of the yarn). I don't object to yellow as a colour, but it doesn't look good on me. So finally, I decided to over-dye the yarn. Here's the before picture:

Nice, pale, lemon yellow. Very innocuous, and a little bit boring. Here it is after I used food colouring to dye it:

A brighter yellow with bits of red and orange. Much more visually interesting, and something that I am actually looking forward to knitting with now. I've got a couple patterns in mind for it, but I haven't decided yet. It will be something from Socks From the Toes Up, for sure.

Well, data's all done, so I'd better go and do some homework, rather than blathering on about knitting.

25 September 2009

and the award for the nutty lady on the street corner goes to...

Yeah, that was me today. Standing on a street corner, waiting for the light to change, sock in hand, binding off. I also knit on the bus. And while it is possible to bind off while the bus driver decides to drive down a hill while tapping the brakes every 3 seconds, it's probably not the best idea. I did refrain from knitting in line at the bank, however, since I don't know how they typically react to pointy sticks. Better safe than sorry.

The mochi socks are finished! Here they are. Aren't they pretty? My first truly fraternal socks, since the Misti Alpaca socks were less distinctive in their differences. They have a short row heel with increases prior to the heel for the gusset. Next time I'm just going to increase by 8 instead of 12. They're just a little bit loose there, but not enough to justify not bothering with a gusset.

I stopped in at one of the LYSs today. I was sent money as a birthday present and told explicitly to use it for yarn. So I did. I'm glad I didn't buy one of these the first time I saw them, because I would have grabbed the really bright colourway and possibly been sorry. After some thought, some staring, and comparison, I ended up with this:

This is a Crazy Zauberball in Flussbett (Riverbed). I like these colours and I think they will wear better on me than the colourway I'd originally wanted to buy. Bright is one thing. I like bright colours, preferably jewel tones. BRIGHT is another. The blues, browns, greens, reds, and oranges of this ball are much more to my preference. This is intended to become a pair of entrelac socks sometime in the next couple months. Why not take advantage of the colour changes, after all?

The next project is actually going to be a hat, which must be finished by next week. My sister-in-law is turning 19. I'm knitting her a pretty lacy hat (worsted weight, so it should knit up pretty quickly) and we're going out for drinks (although I've promised her parents that I will not get her drunk. At least, not this time).

Now...off to go wash dishes while wearing my mochi socks.

23 September 2009

welcome to fall

Today wasn't a great introduction to fall. (Today being Tuesday, although as I am posting just after midnight, this will technically be posted on Wednesday). It was sunny. And hot. Nearly 30, I believe. The morning was crisp, but soon warmed up. I had to take off some of my layers.

I did drink a London Fog at Knit Night tonight in honour of autumn's arrival (I thought that sounded pretty cool, but maybe it just sounds pretentious. Oh well). It was decided that we would sit outside tonight, in the little square next to the coffee shop. We crowded tables together beneath some of the lights and knit (incidentally, while it is possible to knit lace accurately with poor lighting, I switched to a stockinette sock after a few rows of lace. This poor shawl. I've been neglecting it. It needs seven and a half repeats of one chart (at least; if I have enough yarn I may do nine or ten repeats) and a single repeat of another before it is finished. I like it but it requires concentration and I'm often in need of something simpler). It was a fun evening, and I would have happily stayed longer, but my husband was turning into a pumpkin.

And I'm tired. I would chat about reading Chomsky and trying to decipher French quotations with my limited French (next time I will bring my French-English dictionary along), but I need sleep. Good night.

20 September 2009

new book!

So, today I made another step into the knitting world. I bought a book. Up until now, I have owned no knitting books. I have the Yarn Harlot's newest book, but that doesn't have patterns or instructions (the library didn't have it, I wanted to read it, so I bought it; it was worth the money for sure). This book was a careful choice. There are the books I like which are available from the library. Some of these I would like to own someday but I don't need to buy them. And for many, while the patterns are good, it's likely that I'll knit only one or two patterns from the book. And I'm not sure it's worth the thirty dollars for the sake of two patterns. However, I do have a list of knitting books I would like to own, and my biases show. Lace. Mosaic patterns. Socks. Mittens and gloves. Vintage patterns. Modern patterns with an old-fashioned twist. Mostly small items, but larger wraps, too. Today, I finally checked one off of the list (I added two more, but one got checked off!).

Wendy D. Johnson's Socks from the Toe Up. I love this book. It covers about half a dozen cast-on methods for toes, three specific heel methods, and several ways to cast off. Then it has a number of very lovely patterns, most of which I want to knit. And most of these are lacy or cabled or otherwise texturally interesting, which I love. The photographs show the socks being modeled on actual feet (that was a complaint I had about one sock book, in which many of the pictures were of the socks alone or on sock blockers, not real feet). There are charts (I like charts. Charts are good. I didn't think so until I followed a chart and realized how much easier it really is). And there are nice, clear, written instructions as well.

So I think I have chosen wisely for my first knitting book. Vogue Knitting's Ultimate Sock Book is also on my list, but since I'm more into toe-up socks right now, this is a better choice. When I finish the socks I'm on right now, I'll probably start the Wonderland Socks, although I may get another pair going in one of the self-striping yarns I've picked up. Those can be my easy bus-knitting project.

Well, I should stop writing this and finish writing something else. And then go to sleep.

19 September 2009

stranding

It is a Saturday night. My husband is out playing Magic: The Gathering, and, as he is the gamer in the family and I am only a gamer-geek by association, I am at home, drinking tea, reading, and trying to figure out a new way to braid my hair.

I don't remember learning how to braid, like I don't remember learning the English alphabet (I remember parts of learning to read), or how to sew a button back on. I just know. But until I was sixteen, I could not braid my own hair. It was either down, in a ponytail, a headband, or someone had to braid it for me. Usually, because I was lazy, I would brush it in the morning and then leave it down for the rest of the day. It got cut short a few times during my childhood (once when I went away to camp because all I could do was brush it). In high school, when it got caught in my desk, my locker door, and too many people wanted to play with it, I had my waist-length hair cut to chin length and grew my bangs out.

A year later, I was standing in front of a mirror, struggling to braid my hair for the first time. It was messy, but soon became very easy And now that my hair is past my waist, I can braid it into one or two very long 3-strand braids in a minute or two. This is getting boring, not to mention the fact that, even braided, my hair still catches on things. I'm not about to cut it short again (although an inch or so should be trimmed off the bottom soon), because I do like having it long (Also, short hair makes me look like I'm twelve, and I'm trying to promote the "wise, mature, married woman" image).

Therefore, I'm trying to learn Dutch and French braiding so I can braid my hair into a crown around my head, thus eliminating this problem of hair caught in odd things. Normal braids pinned onto the top of my head don't stay in place without many, many bobby pins. Dutch braiding came easily, since I tend to cross the strands of the braid that way anyway. French braids are proving more of a challenge, since the strands need to be crossed the opposite way to what feels normal for me. And braiding a crown, well, the current plan is to get out my American Girl doll and practice on her hair until I know what I'm doing. And I think French braiding might be easier if I do two. Also, I should get a mirror so I can check the back of my hair. The bathroom mirror is not helpful.

First though, I think more tea is in order. That, and maybe a break from braiding. My arms ache.

18 September 2009

knitting a scattered mind together

It's the middle of the night. I can't sleep. Not yet. Re-adjusting to being in school again is taking a little time. Especially when my mind is remembering how to wrap itself around some of the more complex things I'm learning right now. Articulating my own opinions is not always easy.

This week, I had to read an article which discussed some of the important factors in formulating a theory of language, and then either contrast it with another viewpoint, or describe my own. I don't know another approach well enough to argue it, so I chose my own. And then I got stuck. I pulled up my old philosophy of language paper in which I had tried to answer the question, "What is language?" For a twenty-year-old without a lot of experience or knowledge, I think I did a pretty good job, but my opinions have changed slightly since that time. I'm still sort of leaning towards integrational linguistics, but I need to do more reading in that field. And Toolan's Total Speech is not a book I can find and read in a hurry. I was still stuck.

So, I picked up the pointy sticks. I needed to do a swatch for a sweater anyway, so I started knitting. And the block slowly disappeared. I could write. It was still a struggle. I have a long way to go before I can explain language theory with ease. Yet, I could write. I have something that is half-way decent.

Something about the calming action of knitting helps me stop trying so hard to think, and lets my mind do what it needs to do.

Now I can go to bed.

15 September 2009

socks...and possibly more socks

It's a good day. My allergies aren't acting up today, so I can breathe. I can even sing and hit the high notes, which I could not do on Sunday. I actually slept properly last night so I'm awake today. And while I do have to spend all day at school tomorrow (9am-11pm, yay. It's easier to just stay and do reading and some writing since I have to work the closing shift at the library than to take the bus home and then take it back again a couple hours later), I don't have to go in at all today. And when I read an article on tagmemics yesterday, I not only knew who the linguists the author was referencing were, I also understood almost all of it. And those extra hours tomorrow afternoon when I'm not reading articles for survey class? I can spend some time knitting. Not sure what it'll be. I need to start some Christmas gifts, and the sock featured below will need a mate.

This is based on the Lifestyle Toe-Up Socks guide. I used the Easy Toe (kinda like the Figure-Eight Toe, only easier), and a short row heel with wraps. Also, I included a gusset increase before the heel and decreased after the heel.

I like this heel. It was easy to do, and the result is pleasing. Since I only have one ball of the Mini Mochi yarn, these will be fairly short socks. I have about fifteen more rounds to go on the first sock. All those safety pins on the foot mark every ten rows.

My next sock project will likely be Alice Bell's Wonderland Socks. I ran across these on Ravelry a couple months ago and fell in love with them. It's taken me a while to decide on the yarn. I particularly like the brown and beige used in the originals, but after re-reading Alice in Wonderland, I decided to do a slightly different colour combo. So I have an off-white and an Alice blue (I know Alice doesn't have to wear blue, but it seemed like a nice choice). I've recently knit a project with the Mission Falls 136, so I am well acquainted with the yarn. I like it. This picture's a little too blurry, but it shows the colours.
These socks will be my first time doing shadow/illusion knitting. I love the different patterns which use this technique, but this is one of the few I've seen that is not a scarf or a dishcloth (not that anything's wrong with scarves or dishcloths, I've knit both, but I like this pattern a lot).

There's also that lace shawl on the needles. I get frustrated with the lace-weight yarn and put it down after only a few rows, and haven't had the time to sit down and just work on it in the last few days. I know I'll adjust eventually, but it may take a while.

Well, I have to do some reading. Au revoir!

12 September 2009

picture!

This is a picture of the very kind RCMP officer who let me take a picture of her holding one of the Bombadil socks last weekend. I am a geeky, geeky knitter. (Check back here after the first weekend in October for even more geeky pictures--we're going to V-Con.)

new school year...and a hat is done!

"There is no limit to the human ability to create arbitrary categories." Mark Hale

That would be my favourite quote so far from a textbook for a course I'm taking this fall. It's really an excellent book. I think I will have to buy it sometime, rather than just borrowing it from a friend. School has started again, and it's going to be harder. They really make grad students work hard for those funny hats that we get to wear when we graduate. But I want a funny hat, so I'm going to do the work for it. (And yes, I'm there for quite a few other reasons than the funny hat, not the least of which is that I actually do want to work in analytical linguistics. Plus, I only found out about the funny hats after I applied, so they weren't exactly a factor in my decision to continue with school).

I finished the llama hat! It is done, and it is wearable, but remind me never to do fair-isle with superwash yarn again. It stretches too much when it's washed. The hat is also reversible, since it has a knitted-in lining. I might post a pattern for it, or I might just post the charts, since they'd probably fit into a standard hat pattern easily. My husband likes the hat, and it was done just in time for his birthday. The next knitted object for him will be a sweater. I'd like to knit an Aran sweater, but I don't want one myself, and he does. Specifically, he wants an Aran sweater based on the one the character of Wash wears on Firefly. There's already a pattern out there for it. I'm not starting that sweater until January or so, though.

Right now, I have a pair of socks on the needles, and I've just barely gotten started on a lace shawl. It's my first lace worked with lace-weight yarn, and I can only do a couple rows at a time so far because I haven't adjusted to it yet. I also need to start thinking about Christmas knitting. My brother wants a Jayne hat. Those are pretty much instant gratification knitting because they knit up so fast. I just have to go buy more yellow Cascade 220 first. I have enough red and orange left over from the other hats. I have one gift finished already, and another is in hibernation. I should start it again. I'm mostly doing things like hats and mittens, because those are fast and easy and I enjoy knitting them. My dad's been promised a pair of argyle socks, but those don't have a deadline. I should learn intarsia anyway, so why not knit something classic, hey?

We'll see how much knitting I can actually get done, though. Between school and work, I'm going to be pretty busy.

11 September 2009

10 September 2009

all done!

Pacha (the llama hat) is done! I will post pictures soon and I'll also probably post a pattern but I have to finish writing it up first. I can focus on socks and a lace shawl now!

09 September 2009

dreaming of umbrellas

Where I come from, a lot of people simply don't use umbrellas, despite the rainy climate. In Portland, small children and older adults are free to use umbrellas, but for people my age, an umbrella is a sign of weakness. "Tourists use umbrellas!" I have scoffed more than once.

Then I moved to BC. Umbrellas aren't for tourists and children here. Lots of people use them. And with the first glorious rains of the season beginning, I was tempted to buy one. Just a small, inexpensive, compact umbrella. I woke up this morning to the sound of rain and the chill of fall coming in through my window. I dozed off briefly and even dreamed about umbrellas.

Last year, I got soaked more than once riding my bike to school or standing at the bus stop. And I managed to catch pneumonia. I'd like to avoid that this year. My raincoat only keeps out so much of the wet and tends to direct all the water it collects onto my trousers. Knitting with wet wool while waiting for the bus stop is also a problem. It's much harder to knit, and felting is a possibility.

So on my way to the bus stop today, I bought a red umbrella (if you're going to get an umbrella, it should be in a favourite colour, after all) for six dollars. The bus shelters at the bus centre were pretty much full, so I leaned against my favourite stone post there, put up my umbrella, and pulled out my knitting. Between the magenta and green wool, the lime green of my raincoat, indigo blue of my hat and mitts, and the red of the umbrella, I was almost a rainbow.

It's a little inconvenient, carrying an umbrella, but it was well worth the trouble today. I would have been soaked several times over without it, despite the raincoat. As it was, I arrived home only slightly damp.

I was one of many people carrying umbrellas. I saw black umbrellas, navy blue ones, red ones like mine, blue and yellow ones, black and white ones, and even a green one edged with a white ruffle.

Fall is most definitely on its way. Rain, clouds, cool mist. Umbrellas. Mitts. Warm socks. Hot tea is now appropriate, rather than eccentric. I came home this afternoon, shook out my umbrella and hung it up to dry, put the kettle on, switched to drier socks, and picked up a hat I'm knitting a lining for and sat down to listen to an episode of Cast-On with a shawl wrapped around my shoulders. It felt very cosy.

And today, I was cold. So I put on a sweater.

07 September 2009

not enough pictures

We took a trip down to the PNE on Saturday, just a couple days before it closes for the winter. This was my first time there, even though I've lived in this area for about four years. My husband's parents were in the area because his younger sister is starting university this year. We helped her move in and then headed out to Vancouver and the PNE. I stuffed the last Bombadil Sock into my purse and pulled it out in the truck.

Originally, the plan was to bike around the park there, but the weather had other plans, so we wandered around instead. We started out looking at the gadget demonstrations, but my husband and I weren't interested in most of those, so we headed off to find the animals instead. We finally found them and walked through, looking at horses (there were some enormous Clydesdales), cows, chickens, llamas, and sheep. There were a couple of Clun Forest sheep, so I got to see the kind of sheep that the batt of undyed wool I've been spinning lately came from. There were fluffy Angora bunnies, too. Adorable puffballs.

I found the spinning demonstration and chatted with one of the women there, and then took a look at the fiber being sold. I looked at the inexpensive top whorl spindles there and decided not to buy one. When I get another spindle, I want to spend the money for one that I'll like and want to use. Deciding whether or not to buy fiber was a challenge, though. There were some pretty colours. I finally settled for this:

It's Corriedale roving from Shades of Narnia. I liked the colours and since I'm learning to ply yarn now, I figured I can get a decent two-ply from it if I wait to spin it until I'm a little bit better at this. It might turn into something I can knit a pair of socks out of.

We watched a show of performing dogs, which was too loud for me, but it was a chance to sit and rest my feet. We got there early so I had some time to knit for a while. Then we went to an ATV racing event. We came in about five minutes before they switched over to what was essentially sumo wrestling with trucks. Again, a chance to sit and knit, since this was something J. wanted to watch. In the evening, we went to the RCMP Musical Ride, for which we were also early. More time to knit, and we ran into a friend from Langley that we hadn't seen in a while. It was a lot of fun. I think I'd probably like to go next year, too. It reminds me of the county fairs in Oregon. They even had elephant ears, although here they go by the name "Whale Tails."

I wish I had more pictures, but I forgot my camera. Next time.

06 September 2009

The Bombadil-Sukat

A couple months ago, while browsing through sock patterns on Ravelry, I found this pattern from Ulla. I immediately fell in love with it. I'd been wanting to knit toe-up socks, loved the leaf patterns, and I liked the name. Tom Bombadil is my favourite character from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. The problem with the pattern is that it was in Finnish. Some patterns from Ulla have been translated into English, but this one had not.

My Finnish was limited to "Hi" and "Where's the bathroom?" which was not conducive to figuring out how to read this pattern. So I laboured over it with a Finnish-English dictionary and produced a rough transliteration which I turned into a knitting pattern. I speak the language of knitting, after all, so how hard could it be?

I cast on and started to knit with some yarn my mother gave me recently. Corafino Linie 5 in Hunter Green. Dark green, a little heavier than standard sock yarn, tightly spun, and nice and soft. I used about 1.25 balls of it for these socks.

There were a few snags. The recommended needle size was too big. I had to frog the toe and re-knit it with different needles. I managed to botch some of the cables by cabling the purl stitch over the knit stitch, rather than vice versa. My reading of the instructions for the heel was a bit rough, so the heels are there, but they could be better. The second toe is a tad bit smaller than the first one (not sure how that happened), but that's okay. It still fits.

These socks accompanied me to knit nights and the library, and to the PNE where it posed with me in front of a fountain made of brass instruments (there's also a picture coming of it with a very nice RCMP officer, but that picture isn't on my camera so it'll have to wait for a couple days). I knitted on it on the bus, and while watching movies.

And today, I finished the second sock. Here they are:

I like them very much. I'll probably knit this pattern again sometime, but with a different heel and possibly a longer gusset. I like the ribbing with twisted stitches, and the way the leaves turned out. Beautiful.

04 September 2009

a hat out of handspun

My spinning is getting better. I can knit with the result and produce something that looks pretty good. There's still a few bits that are too thick, or too thin, but the result is rather nice. I chose, for my first proper item knitted from my own handspun (the first one was a coaster which now lives underneath a vase on my coffee table), this hat from Knitty. It was designed for handspun. I started with this yarn:

Like the lazy knitter I am, I didn't swatch. The hat pattern knit up very quickly, and a couple hours after I started it, I took it to Knit Night, planning to finish the decreases. Everyone swiftly pointed out that it was too big. I hadn't had the greatest day and was grumpy about it. It took me another half of a row to admit that they were right. I frogged it, right then and there. I apologize to my friends for the grumpiness, and I apologize to the hat for the words I called it. I took out 4 repeats of the base pattern (2 repeats of the decrease pattern) and re-knit it on Wednesday. I magic-looped it for the decreases because I didn't want to go out and buy more DPNs. I don't think I'm going to take to magic loop for sock knitting, but I'll use it for hats, mitts, and probably sweater sleeves (haven't knit any sweater sleeves yet so this is guesswork). I found it very easy to do, and the top of the hat looks fine, so I believe I did it right. Here it is:

I like it very much. It's light-weight, it stays on my head nicely (although I did use clips to anchor it in place yesterday), and it looks pretty. I actually put it on this morning, absent-mindedly, after braiding my hair (my hair is waist-length when braided so it stays in braids most of the time), and was surprised a few hours later when I glanced into the mirror and saw it on my head. That's how light it is. And the colour is wonderful. The roving ranged from a deep, deep indigo blue to a very light, almost undyed blue. This has resulted in much of the yarn being dark blue, or a few light shades of dark blue, with a few sections that are reminiscent of denim.

I've started a new project with the rest of the yarn. They're mitts, with cabled ribbing. I'm almost to the thumb opening on the first one. They're on hold while I finish a pair of socks up for next week. Classes start next week, and I began these socks with wearing them to the first day in mind. When I finish them, you'll get the whole story. It's a long one.

02 September 2009

magic and denial

Saying that I've gone over to the dark side would be rather inaccurate. It's more like I was lazy. And cheap. I learned to magic loop my knitting. (I guess the dark side would be crochet, but I do plan to learn that eventually and don't really think of it as dark. I just prefer the looking of knitting, mostly. There is that crocheted capelet in Lace Style that I have to make someday. Maybe buying socks at Walmart would be the dark side?)

See, recently, I had a felted teacosy go weird on me (hurray for scrap yarn of undetermined origin that felts at different rates). Then I re-knit that llama hat for my husband. It's all done, except for the lining and earflaps. And this one will fit. I have one sock out of a pair finished. I'm starting the second one today sometime, but I took a break off of it yesterday. Ideally, I'll finish it this weekend so I can wear them next week to the first day of school. Yesterday, after I wove in ends for the llama hat, I cast on for a lace hat made out of handspun. I've gone through all the Blue-Faced Leicester roving I had, washed it, and made it into balls that I can knit from. The hat was a fast knit, but it was on needles that I don't have DPNs for. My sets of needles are limited. I have a circular needle kit that goes from 3.5-10mm (no 7 or 7.5 needles, though, because it's an American kit), and I have DPNs to go with the 3.5, 4, 6, and non-existent 7.5 needles. I was working on 5.5 ones for this hat. I didn't want to go buy more DPNs that evening. I had knitting group, the LYS was closed by that time, and Michael's usually never has the size I want. I settled for looking up a video on Magic Loop, figuring I should learn it anyway. Surprisingly, it works pretty well. And it makes sense. I was confused by it earlier because the only instructions I'd seen were in a book.

Sadly, I got to the decreases on the hat at knitting group, where everyone immediately pointed out that the hat was too big. I was grumpy about this (to my friends, I apologize, you were right, I just hadn't had a great day and having to frog a hat just made me more grumpy, but I shouldn't have been so upset about it). I didn't want to admit I'd messed up. I didn't swatch, because I don't like swatching. I didn't want to frog it and re-knit it, even if it had only been about hour to an hour and a half of knitting. I started the next row, realized that they were right (objectivity is a useful talent), and frogged the poor thing. It was so pretty. I have to take out 3 repeats (at least) to compensate, so it'll be an even faster knit the second time around, and it'll use less yarn.

Since I had half of the pattern with me (the chart for the decreases, but nothing else), and my other option was picking up stitches for the llama hat's lining (important but tedious), I started something new. Mitts. There's enough handspun for the mitts and the hat, and it was a chance to try out Magic Loop. I cast on, did some ribbing, and drew up a quick chart for some simple ribbing with cables. One more repeat and I should be able to make the thumb hole. Magic Looping is pretty easy. I don't know why I was so freaked by it initially. I don't think it'll replace DPNs for me when I knit socks (don't have any circulars that small anyway), but it's going to be useful for hats and mitts. Possibly sweater sleeves as well, when I get to knitting sweaters.