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


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


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.