29 March 2010

Fibres West 2010 was this weekend. I went with my friend E., and we had a pretty good time. I spent only about half of what I intended, which makes me want to take my temperature and see if I'm coming down with something. I bought enough yarn for Spoke and a new spindle. And that was it.

I spent of a lot of time at Treenway Silk's booth, looking at the fibre they had available. It's beautiful but I don't feel like I have enough spinning experience yet to do well with silk. I'm doing well with merino, and maybe I'll give silk a go sometime this summer.

I'm over half-way finished with the first sleeve on Spoke. It's doubling as a gauge swatch. I plan to sew the sleeve seam after I bind it off, try it on, see how it fits, and go from there. So far, it looks about right.

25 March 2010

bits and pieces

This hasn't been the greatest week for knitting. I finished a sleeve on the baby jacket, and am in the process of finishing the edging around the lapels and collar. Then it'll be on to the last sleeve.

I finished the first in a pair of socks last week, and have yet to cast on for the second sock. I will do it, but I'm knitting them on two circular needles, and that doesn't make me happy. They're way more fiddly to work with than DPNs, and the only reason I'm doing it is to practice so I can knit the Skew socks. They pretty much have to be knit on circs.

The entrelac socks I started a while back got frogged. They weren't working out and I couldn't figure out a way to be happy with the end result. The yarn will be used in Skew, since it has a nice striping pattern.

I did start a pair of mitts on Monday night, in need of something simple to knit at church (we're in a class where I'm supposed to sit still for 2 hours straight--if I don't have knitting or something, I will go nuts). I couldn't cast on the sock and the baby jacket was at the hem of the sleeve. So I started the very popular Susie's Reading Mitts. I finished the first one, except for the thumb, but now I feel a little confused about where to do some of the decreases on the second one (my version has more decreases to improve fit). I don't have the right number of stitches and I don't know why.

I also have some new yarn in the stash. My SIL had promised me yarn for Christmas. We didn't get around to setting a date to go yarn shopping, so she finally went on her own. So now I have a ball of blue Tove (Sandes Garn, sport-weight, good for gloves), and another ball of bulky, fluffy yarn in shades of green, blue, pink, and yellow which are reminiscent of cotton candy. I think I see a hat when I look at it. A tam, probably. I found a top-down pattern which should work pretty well.

Fibres West is this weekend. Saturday morning, a friend and I are off to drool over yarn and only spend the cash we've brought and designated for yarn (as opposed to being designated for lunch). Should be exciting.

Now I need to have some fresh tea and do a little more writing before I go to bed. I am having the hardest time concentrating lately.

19 March 2010

new (old) hobby

When I started reading A Dress a Day recently, it reminded that I do like sewing. I'd been hoping to do some more sewing this year, after all. I have quite a bit of material lying around that I've picked up over the years. My fabric stash is actually larger than my yarn stash, but since it's had more time to grow, that's only to be expected.

I found a pattern at the thrift store of a dress that was about what I wanted to make. I wanted a dress that would button up from waist to neckline, with an A-line gathered skirt. I had a shirt pattern that would work if I just wanted to add a skirt to it, but finding a pattern for an entire dress was nice. Then I re-measured myself, since I hadn't taken my measurements since July, and took a look at the pattern's measurements.

According to the pattern manufacturer, there should be 8 inches difference between my waist and my bust. I think the difference for me is about 4, and even if I go down a couple dress sizes (a couple favourite skirts are in the size 6-8 range and as I'm a size 10 right now, they are too tight, so I'd like to get a wee bit smaller), it's not going to make enough of a difference. My bust is not going to magically grow so I fit the pattern's proportions. Instead, the pattern will have to be tweaked.

The plan is to make a skirt or two, using the Sew What? book. They make it all about what your actual measurements are. This is so I can get a feel for sewing things that fit well, and just to get back into practice with sewing. Then, using some inexpensive cotton that I don't care about and that isn't vintage (like most of the fabric I have for making dresses is), I'll make a muslin and figure out where the pattern needs tweaking. If it turns out wearable, that's great. If not, I've only lost some fabric that wasn't expensive and that I've been trying to figure out a use for since last year.

So I have the pieces for the first skirt cut out and I've zig-zagged stitched the seamlines, so I can press the seams open, but I still haven't cut out the pocket pieces yet. Just not sure how big I want them.

09 March 2010

remember when I could count?

While tidying up the corner of the living room where my yarn stash resides (the fabric stash lives mostly in the bedroom closet, the tea stash--not to be confused with Stash tea--lives in a kitchen cupboard, and the books live, well, everywhere), I picked up the bag where the yarn for my now-finished sweater had been stored. I had been under the impression that I'd finished the sweater with two complete balls of yarn to spare and was delighted at getting a whole sweater out of just under 600 grams of yarn. Well, I was mistaken. There are three complete balls of yarn left. Plus the little bit of a ball that I didn't quite finish. That sweater took just under 500 grams of yarn, and it's not exactly a short sweater. I was under the impression that hip-length, long-sleeved sweaters took more yarn than that, but then, it's really my first sweater.

Maybe I can make a vest with the leftover yarn.

07 March 2010

Book Musings: The Magicians

Have you ever picked up a book, flipped it open, read the first few pages, and gotten that little tingle that tells you it's going to be good? That happened to me this week when I got The Magicians, by Lev Grossman from the library. I read about the book on Unshelved's book review about a week ago (maybe a little longer). I put a hold on it and it came in much faster than I expected, so I read it Thursday evening. And it was a good book.

It reminded me, at the beginning, of Harry Potter, except it was much better. Magic in this world is difficult and there are some very awful consequences for mistakes. It's not a matter of pointing a wand and saying a few words. It's really, really dangerous, and it alters the characters drastically.

I found it difficult to like the main character, which I think may have been the point. He's all too human, but his faults become emphasized during his years of studying magic. At times I wanted to whack him upside the head and tell him to get over himself. Of course, he has his good points, too, but he's a hero who is flawed, and that makes the story all the better. It's easier to identify with him if he's not perfect.

There are some interesting references to the Chronicles of Narnia, but when the characters actually arrive in Fillory, the Narnia-like world which the main character has become obsessed with, they find that it's much darker than it seemed to be in the books. That was a part I enjoyed, too. I love the Chronicles of Narnia and have read them many times. I wanted to get into Narnia when I was a kid. But if I actually did get there, wouldn't I find that it's a lot scarier than I think it is?

It's definitely a grown-up book. There is swearing, sex, alcohol, drugs, and violence (if those are problems for you). I wouldn't hand it to a child. But then I wouldn't hand Harry Potter to a child either. Book 3 in that series gave me horrific nightmares when I was twelve and I had to stop reading them. However, adult content notwithstanding, The Magicians is definitely a fascinating story.

I can't wait for the sequel.

The Seedy Cardigan

There is a sweater on the floor, in the section of my living room where I block things and where I often have a rack set up for hang-dry clothes. Here it is.

I washed it in the bathtub, as per usual, rolled it up into a towel to squeeze out the water, rolled it up into another towel to squeeze out more water, and then laid it out to dry.

Here's a detail of the button band. The buttons I used were ones I got at at the Button Emporium a couple years ago. I've been waiting a while to use them. They have the claddagh symbol on them, so my sweater matches my wedding ring quite nicely.

I will have to go over the buttonholes with embroidery and/or sewing thread once this has dried. I wore the sweater to church this morning before I blocked it (one compliment so far), and the buttonholes were already stretching a bit too much (and they're only 1 stitch wide!).

This is an accomplishment for me. I've knit a couple of sleeveless tops and neither of those came out well. One (made from Phentex, which was really the biggest problem) is living an ashamed life, hidden in a bin. The other was worn in public a couple times and then frogged. It's going to be a vest in its next life, I think.

Anyway, I'm very happy with how this sweater came out. I made a few mistakes here and there, but I doubt anyone's going to come up and demand to examine how I picked up the stitches on the underarm of one of the sleeves.

The only thing I'm not sure I like about the sweater is the length of the arms. Nearly everything is too long for me, so I always fold up the cuffs on my sweaters. I don't have to do that with this one, and it feels strange. The sleeves are actually the right length. Crazy.
I finished my Sedum cardigan! (as of about 5 minutes ago; those minutes were spent trying it on, looking at myself in the mirror wearing it, waking my husband up to show him, and then hanging it up in the hall closet). I used almost 6 balls of yarn for it, so I have two balls and a bit left over. I'll post pictures later.

It's finished! I have finished a real sweater!

05 March 2010

I don't think I mentioned this when it happened a while ago, but it was a little flattering. I was sitting at the bus stop, reading. I was wearing my Fetching mitts because it was a bit chilly. The woman sitting next to me on the bench said, "Oh, those are a great idea. My dad could use those because he has X disease (can't remember what it was) and his hands are always cold. Where did you buy them?"

"I knit them," I said.


I guess that means they look really good, but I've never seen cabled mitts for sale in a store before.

01 March 2010

at least the ankle's getting better

The last week was reading break at school, so I just had to work and didn't have to go to class. It was a nice break, but then I got sick. According to the doctor, it's only a cold, but I'd forgotten that colds could be this malicious.

I coughed my way through the weekend, then went to one class this morning, and realized I shouldn't be at school. I absolutely have to be there tomorrow, so I skipped my next class and went home to rest. Now I'm taking a break from homework to write this. I also bought more cough drops and some cough syrup stuff so I can go to school tomorrow and possibly not cough too much.

On the plus side, I finally finished a pair of mitts for my husband last night. Since I was using white wool from an old sweater, I dyed them. They were supposed to be grey, but they're closer to black. We'll see what he thinks of that when he gets home. He liked them undyed, but he wanted them to be a "manly" colour (says the man who wants me to knit him a pink chicken hat next).

In other knittings: my Olympic project did not get finished in time. I got distracted by J.'s mitts and a baby jacket for J.'s cousin's daughter. But the important thing for me, at least, is that I totally could have finished it, if I'd really wanted to. Which I didn't, since it turned out I wasn't in the mood for knitting socks most of the week. I'm just not competitive enough, I guess. The baby jacket's almost done, though.