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


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.