A Sheepish Little Blog.

Wool and whimsy in the frozen North.

Good times and phat loots January 31, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — knitbytes @ 7:53 pm
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Today was long, full, and fun. I called Janelle around 9 to wake her up, and we left for the craft meetup around 10:20 or so. It was a quite large meetup- about a dozen people all told, I’d say, give or take. Sadly I forgot to get photos, but I think some others did, so there might be some hanging around somewhere. I got a good bit of the first wrap repeat done.

A complete leaf!

I still love the way this is coming out. Just LOVE it. The pattern is getting to the point where I get where it’s going, and basically know what to do next, so it’s much easier to see if I’ve messed up a bit or lost my place. Should start moving faster here pretty soon. I’m nearly done with the first ball of yarn, too, which means that one ball= ~6″, so 11 balls =~66″ or 5’5″, a great wrap length. Hooray!

After the meetup, Janelle and I took my mom to get some groceries, and while she was doing that we picked up some stuff at Payless and Office Max. Then we took my mom home, and went to get lunch and go to Wet Paint, a local art supply store, to get some chipboard for a school project Janelle is working on. Here’s what I got:

loots!

That’s a pair of work shoes (reg. $23, on sale for $9!), a pair of reading glasses with a tube case (yes, I’ve started needing them already… wah. However, these are GREEN! Woohoo!), a spiral bound graph paper journal for pattern designing, and a really nice eraser with a cap to keep in my purse for designing as pencil erasers just smudge, for some reason.

I’m a little sad about the reading glasses. For my entire childhood and teen years, I wore glasses. Because I have a very lazy, nearly blind eye, I had a very strong prescription in that eye and a rather weak one in the other. My sophomore or junior year of college, I suddenly realized that I really didn’t need them at all- there’s no use trying to make my blind eye see any better, and the other eye was plenty good enough. I could read just fine without them, when I was supposedly far-sighted.

Well, over the last few months, I’ve noticed it was getting harder and harder to stare at a computer screen for hours or read a book in a day without feeling some serious eye fatigue. Thus, I finally swallowed my pride and picked up some pretty green +1.00 reading glasses. I’m still in the adjustment stage and feeling kind of nauseated when I wear them for long stretches of time, but I’m sure that’ll fade. In any case, Cory thinks I’m absurdly sexy in ’em, so that’s a plus I suppose (no, I don’t get it either. Just let it be).

glassesfaceDid I mention they’re green? ๐Ÿ˜€

Janelle came over for a few hours after all of this to get started on her project, a 1/4 scale model of a park bathroom/rest area she designed for a class (she’s an interior design student and they have to learn this stuff too).

Model

It’s pretty interesting stuff. Wish I’d gotten to do stuff like this in school. Definitely got the wrong degree. ๐Ÿ˜›

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All I can think to do January 30, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — knitbytes @ 8:00 pm
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When someone in a knitter’s life suffers a tragedy of any kind, I will wager you good money that all they can think to do is knit something comforting for that person. So it is with me. I’ve begun the wrap/shawl that I’m knitting for my Aunt Reeny who, as I mentioned yesterday, recently lost her husband. I didn’t have a lot of guidance on color or style, but I wanted to do something that would both work up fast and be very beautiful. I wanted it to be fairly simple, in the interest of speed, but not so dull as to make me want to do drastic things to make the process more interesting (for example, stabbing a size 10 addi turbo through my hand).

I wound up deciding on a blanket pattern, actually. I’m making it narrower, but longer, so that it will be a large, warm wrap for her. The pattern is the Totally Autumn blanket, from Knitty. I think it’s pretty much exactly what I wanted. Not too fancy or lacy, just a beautiful solid woolly look.

As for yarn, I went to Depth of Field right after work today to pick some out. My dad had told me that my aunt had recently crocheted herself an afghan in southwestern colors- terra cotta, brown, turquoise, red, that sort of thing- so I chose this Plymouth Boku (95% wool 5% silk).

Pile o' Boku

Boku closeup

I love the colors. Just love them. It’s rustic, but still pretty soft knit up, and apparently softens a lot with washing. I’m using size US 10 needles, and getting narrow stripes and a nice squishy fabric. Love it. I hope she does, too.

Begun

I also made some special stitchmarkers, just for this project. I figure (since I needed just 2) I will send them to her with the wrap and she can either use them as earrings or crochet stitchmarkers.

Leaf markers

Tomorrow, Janelle and I are going to a Craftster.org meetup that my cousin organized. My mom will hopefully be there as well. It’s a bit strange, because this meeting of family, friends, and total strangers is happening in a coffee shop that I used to frequent in middle school, with my best friend at the time. They had huge ice cream cones for just $1 apiece. We always got triple fudge brownie. It’s sort of a bittersweet thing for me, because when this friend and I reconnected just before college, we went to this same shop again… and realized that the spark was totally gone. I don’t know what happened, but at some point our paths diverged such that we just didn’t click anymore. At least not the way we used to. It should be interesting to go there again, particularly in such a different situation.

 

On Soup January 29, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — knitbytes @ 7:35 pm
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I love soup. Absolutely love it, and as far as I know, always have. This might have something to do with my complete disgust with any month that sees temperatures above 65, but we’ll leave conjecture out of it. Fact is, from September through April, I ingest as much soup as possible without dissolving. However, since I became vegetarian, I’ve run head-first into the fact that most soups contain, if not meat itself, chicken broth. It appears to be the flavor enhancement of choice for soup cooks and try as I might, I can’t get the flavor quite right without it. But I keep trying.

Tonight’s installment: Creamy Wild Rice Soup. I used to adore Chicken Wild Rice soup, and while broth-based wild rice soups are alright, they’ve never done it for me. I need that creamy base, preferably with lots of carrots and mushrooms. So, I made this.

Souuuup

It was excellent. Still not as flavorful as its chickeny brethren, but quite a respectable soup.

At work, I accomplished the sleeve seperation and 7 body rows of my Wisteria.

Sweater top

A sleeve opening

However, this is going to have to get set aside as soon as I can get to a yarn shop, because I got news today that my aunt’s husband passed away last week of liver failure. I never knew this aunt very well, but she crochets and I’ve always had an affinity with her, so I’ve decided to knit her a wrap or shawl of some kind to help her through what I can only imagine is a completely crushing, heart-rending time for her. (Any prayers, good thoughts, waves of positivity, etc would be much appreciated I am sure)

On a lighter note, today I got my (early) birthday present from Cory (which I technically paid for as I am the breadwinner currently)– Disturbed tickets! In fact they are floor tickets, so Cory, Janelle, and I will be heading to the Target center on May 8th, and if I come back with a black eye or something don’t be surprised. ๐Ÿ˜‰ It’s not just a concert, but a full-fledged lifestyle festival with tattoo artists and vendors and three other bands. I am PSYCHED. Disturbed has been one of my very favorite bands for years and years. May is so far away! Agh!

Well, back to spinning. I’d like to finish this teal sometime soon please.

 

Pooling and Looping January 28, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — knitbytes @ 9:30 pm
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No, I didn’t go swimming. You’ll understand soon enough.

I worked (vaguely) on the sweater today, at the office. I only got a few rows done, because it was fairly busy, but I am now at the point where I separate sleeves from body. Woohoo! However it still looks no different, so no photo of that today.

At knitting group (which was just as fun as last week! I love this group) I managed to forget to bring a. waste yarn to put the sleeve stitches on and b. another skein of the olive as my current ball is almost gone, so I worked on the other project I’d put in my knitting bag. I don’t think I’ve shown this one here before.

Lapis sock

This will eventually be the Treillage Socks (sorry, pattern is on Ravelry only) by Anita Peluso, knit in STR Lightweight, colorway Lapis. I LOVES it. It is also what I meant about pooling. As is fairly plain, the colors in this yarn are pooling in what I consider to be an absolutely fascinating and beautiful way. Other knitters would HATE the effect and spend countless hours ripping and reknitting, trying different needle sizes and stitch counts and even patterns until finally throwing the yarn into the toilet in disgust. STR has a very strong tendency to pool. For me, quite honestly, that’s part of the draw. I love how you never know how it’s going to pool, or what it’s going to do next. But some people completely avoid this (excellent, luscious, beautiful) yarn entirely due to this fact.

Incidentally, this yarn was given to me as a Christmas gift by some friends of mine, and upon receiving it I couldn’t help but notice that it matches exactly the colors of my engagement ring (now part of my wedding set). The stone is not a diamond (can’t stand diamonds)- it’s a mystic topaz. Mystic topaz is a normal topaz stone that has been “painted” with some sort of ion that causes the color to sort of break apart into a myriad of blues, purples, greens, and sometimes even red, all depending on how you look at it. I adore this stone, so of course I adore this yarn, and the pattern I chose based on the shape of my engagement stone. This is why I’ve been calling these my “mystic” socks.

They’re also, if you happened to notice, my first magic loop socks. I’ve used magic loop for hats before, and I think it’s a great technique. I still loves my DPNs, but magic loop is very handy- particularly for things like hats, where the circumference changes and you’d otherwise need a circ and dpns, and for projects you take with you, where dropping a dpn is a real concern (I’ve done it before). It does take some getting used to, and tinking is a bit more fiddly… plus these hiyahiya needles aren’t as sharp as my beloved knitpicks. Still, I think I like magic loop well enough to do it again, for sure.

 

KnitSulk January 27, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — knitbytes @ 8:03 pm
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I didn’t do much knitting (again) today. This time, I was not being productive… I was sulking. My sweater is at a stage where each row takes an eternity, and then I tried to knit a third Two for His Heels sock with the optional leg cable, for the pattern, but realized an hour or two into it that I was glad to be done with the second sock because I’m sick of this pattern. Thus, I spent the rest of my workday idly sketching new pattern ideas and sulking at my project bag. Hopefully tomorrow I will feel more inspired to knit something.

After I got home, I made dinner for us. Tonight I made the quite tasty (and alliterative) cauliflower cashew curry.

curry nom

It was a bit on the salty side and could’ve used some garlic, but it was pretty good. I think next time I’ll add some more green vegetables to it… at least some bok choy or something. The recipe was intended as a side dish, so it was a bit less interesting than main dishes are usually designed to be. I normally do recipes as-written the first time through, and tweak them from there. This means I’m sometimes a bit disappointed, but gives me a starting point to work with.

I’ve spent the rest of the evening predrafting and spinning the second 1/3 of the teal. I thought, since I don’t have much else to say, I’d give you a photo tutorial of how I predraft my top (top is a combed preparation of fiber, and commercially prepared top is often very dense and compact, requiring extensive predrafting).

Step 1This is what I start with; about 8-10 inches of top, pulled off of the main coil.

Step 2

First, I divide that piece in half vertically. It works best to start from the middle.

Step 3Starting at one end, I put my hands a staple length apart and pull gently.

Step 3 cont

I repeat this down the length.

Step 4Then, I go back to the original end and do it again. Basically I’m making a long, thin, wispy piece of top from the original short, thick, dense section that I had.

Step 4 contAgain, I repeat down the length.

Step 5Finally I wrap the top fairly loosely around three fingers, coiling it into a nest-like shape. This keeps the strips of top seperate and stops them from coming apart in the basket.

Done.Tadah! Of course, this all needs to be repeated endlessly again and again and again. Maybe someday if you’re lucky, you’ll actually be able to spin some of it! ๐Ÿ˜›

Ok, I kid. I’ve actually got about 1/3 of it spun up already, and it’s only 8 so I’m sure I’ll be half done with this batch by bed.

Something I did yesterday but forgot to add to my post… I’m having a few people (you know who you are) test knit my sock pattern, and I decided that in return for this service, I would give out small sets of stitchmarkers. I have a lot of beads left from a beading stint in my teens, so I put them to good use and made these.

markers

I quite like them, but of course I don’t get to keep them. (I might decide to keep the planet-lookin’ ones. I love them and I don’t have any more hematite rings so I can’t make more.) Nicole already dibs’d the rainbow star ones. I may end up making more… it’s pretty fun. I don’t really have enough of most beads to make proper matching sets, and often I only had enough to do three vaguely matching markers (thus the sets of 3), so I’ll have to get more supplies at some point if I decide to make more.

Tomorrow is Knittin’ Kitten! Yay! Janelle and I plan to attend. I will, of course, provide full account.

 

Invisible Progress January 26, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — knitbytes @ 8:27 pm
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I don’t have a whole lot to show you today. This is not because I didn’t work on anything… it’s because what I did work on is something I can’t show you (yet). I spent most of today writing and editing the sock pattern, making the charts for it, and trying to figure out exactly how much handholding is enough. It’s difficult, I find, to decide what constitutes an acceptable amount without getting ridiculous and giving step-by-step visuals. I ended up deciding that, while my pattern has enough space to include a brief description of “wrap and turn”, others have done a far better job of detailing how to do things like the “magic cast-on” and the “sewn bind-off”, etc.

The pattern is mostly done now– at least, the bones of it are done. It’s pretty much completely written down, and the charts are all done, but there’s still some tweaking and I don’t yet have the photos from my sister yet. Plus I’m going to do some more professional looking layout design and things for this pattern. I just feel like if you’re going to pay money for something, it should be as nice as possible.

I worked a little bit on Wisteria today, but you can’t really see the progress. Plus, since there’s currently 284 stitches crammed onto a 27″ circular needle, you can’t even see the shape of it. So here is an olive green yarn lump.

Yarn lump! Hooray!

I have started the raglan increases, so in 10 rows or so I’ll be putting the sleeves on waste yarn and comparitively zooming along the body, which “only” has 214 stitches.

I also took a photo of the full bobbin of teal in good light, so I think I finally managed to get a fairly accurate color down.

Aaagh Teal

Sick of teal yet? Too bad, I have 2 more bobbins of singles and then plying and then knitting it up and then maybe you’ll get a break. Maybe. (This is my best friend’s favorite color, after all.) I’m currently working on predrafting the second 1/3rd of this wool, so again… not visible progress. But there it is, a whole day spent in various endeavors and really? Nothin’ to show for it.

 

Photosplosion January 25, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — knitbytes @ 9:12 pm
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Today, I have not a lot of substance and a bunch of fluff. In this case the fluff is photos. This is because I didn’t actually do a whole lot today… except take photos.

So here they are.

Completed socks

The completed “Two for his Nibs/ Two for his Heels” socks (still undecided on that), completed at 11pm yesterday night.ย  I really love how they turned out, even if they did make me want to claw my eyes out by the end (remind me not to knit size 12 socks ever again, please). I’ll be working on writing up the pattern this week, and then I’ll have a couple of test knitters run through… Hopefully this’ll be published by March at the latest.

Detail shot

The socks are currently with my sister, who is generously doing the photography for the pattern for me and then mailing them off to my Great-Uncle. I made him a thank-you card to go with the socks.

Thank you card

Simple, but I thought it came out rather nice.

Today I decided I needed a kitchen scale… not only for measuring food items (as I have many British vegetarian and baking cookbooks which use grams instead of cups), but for measuring fiber. Things like weighing out two equal halves of a skein of sock yarn, to be sure I don’t run out of yarn before finishing the second sock. Or, in this case, finding out how much yarn is left over after completing a pair of size 12 men’s socks from a skein of Malabrigo Sock.

26 grams

26 out of 100 grams. Not bad at all. I could have probably done another 3 inches on each leg and been fine.

The scale also measures in ounces. I’m glad of that, as normally I purchase spinning fiber in ounce increments. This also led to an interesting discovery. You remember how I said I had drafted 1 and 1/3 ounces of that teal wool, but it looked like so much? Well, this was because when Janelle bought the wool, I assumed that each ball was 1 ounce. They weren’t big enough to be 2 ounce balls, and I thought it reasonable to assume that they would be weighed in full ounces. Well, today I thought I might as well check…. and each ball is 1.5 ounces. I don’t know why, but it certainly explains why there seems like so much… and why my bobbin is so full when I still have 3 little fiber “nests” of the first 1/3 left.

Nearly 1/3 of the teal

Sorry for the flash. By the time I spun that much, it was dark out.

I made lasagna for dinner tonight. I was planning on taking a photo, but things went awry when Cory got a phone call about 2/3 of the way through cooking the lasagna that some friends had moved from Brainerd to St Paul yesterday, completely unexpectedly, and would like us to come out with them for dinner. We ended up eating some lasagna as soon as it came out of the oven, throwing the rest in the fridge, and running out the door to go to the Bulldog in St Paul to meet for some beer. It was a nice time and we’re really excited that they’re in our neck of the woods now. (Also, their apartment is 10 times nicer than ours. Yes, I am a little jealous. 12 foot ceilings and built-in bookshelves, man!)

At the bar I got 3 more rows done on Wisteria. I didn’t get a photo of it because, frankly, it looks just the same as it did before. I’ll post more on that once I’ve started the raglan increases, which hopefully will be tomorrow.

In violin news, since Janelle asked if I had played any since it arrived, I’m working on Vivaldi’s “Summer”. It’s going alright, though I’m definitely rusty. I can play the whole thing through…. just at about 1/4 of the speed it needs to be at. I’m sure with a few more weeks of practice it’ll improve. I love the piece, so it’s fun to work on, and I am really enjoying the volume control I have with the amplifier.