Saturday, December 30, 2006

Best Christmas EVER.

So I didn't finish everything I wanted to. This is me and my very helpful little sister basting the quilt in the middle of the night, and my mom's feet, doing their damnedest to unsmoothe the layers. And the socks? Well, the first sock almost got finished. Luckily my mother is a knitter too and understood perfectly when she unwrapped a half finished pomatomus with needles still in it.

I did, however, give myself a few projects that didn't take an insane amount of time.

Two freezer paper stencilled tank tops (idea from grumperina) and a hand-beaded necklace for my sister. The necklace, in particular was a big hit.

And, the piece de resistance:

A modified print o' the wave stole, modeled by the recipient, my adorable grandmother. All in all, I was pleased with my various holiday crafting endeavors, but that's not why it was the Best Christmas Ever.

For the first time ever, The Lady and I hosted all the other lovely ladies of my family. The structure and dynamic of my family has changed dramatically this year, and for the better, and spending the holiday with four women and two pooches was the best thing I could imagine.

As for the aforementioned unfinished projects? They're both in almost exactly the same state they were in on Christmas morning, because everything is on hold for this.

Eunny's Anemoi Mittens. I am in love. Two-color stranding is actually turning out to be easier than I anticipated, though my tension could still use a little evening out. The above is one evening's work... I expect to finish the first mitt today.

Happy New Year all! It's nice to be back in blogland. (And yes, damnit, unsmoothe is a word.)

Friday, December 15, 2006


It's been a quiet week around these parts, and will continue to be so for a few more days. Firstly, I caught a nasty case of the stomach ick that's going around and am just now starting to feel normal, and secondly The Lady and The Camera have both abandoned me for the weekend. In their absense, however, much crafting and visiting of relatives shall be accomplished! (You just won't see it yet.)

In the meantime please read this. (The chances that anyone who sees this doesn't already read Yarn Harlot are mightly slim, but I'd like to give what little boost I can from my corner of the blogosphere.)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Happy Friday!

El Tracks, originally uploaded by furplepig.

Earlier this fall I spent a lovely couple of days in the Windy City. Not only did I get to visit some college friends I hadn't seen since graduation, but I also got hours at a time to wander the city on my own. It was paradise.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

I'm a fickle girl.

(I'm also capable of intense devotion, but that's not really relevant to the story I have for you today.)

These are old news, really. I made my first pair of fetchings back in August, out of KP Wool of the Andes, and they looked like shit within one wearing. Blech. These are my redemption -- I sprung for the cashmerino.

These, however, have nothing to do with my fickleness. They were meant as a break from the leaf lace shawl, and served that function nicely. Almost the moment the shawl was done, I cast on for this:
Eunny's Print o' the Wave Stole. It's for my grammy and I love love love it. I absolved myself early on of the lace edging -- I didn't want to stress about deadlines, and I think she'll like it better without, anyway.

The pattern is lovely and the yarn (hand dyed by kbrece of kindred spirits yarn on ebay) is a gorgeous mix of burgundies, pinks and browns. The combination of the two, however, isn't necessarily one I'd choose again.

It's a bit muddled. At any rate, I made monster progress on this one right after thanksgiving, but then The Lady says to me, she says, "I thought you were making me a scarf?" And it's true. I was. A week earlier I'd picked got some nice, squishy GGH Aspen and some Really Very Large needles (US 35 maybe?) and cast on for a sideways scarf a la Elliphantom. But something was wrong. Every time I picked it up I was unhappy. The length was wrong, the WS was ugly... and it wasn't just the scarf I was pissed about. It was as if the yarn itself was making me upset with the world. Needless to say it got shelved for awhile, hence the subsequent needling by The Lady. And then, suddenly, I knew. I had this cheap wool-acrylic blend sitting in my very paltry stash, and it occured to me that it wanted, it needed, to become a So-Called Scarf. It's no Manos, but it's got a nice variegation thing going:
So I worked on that with admirable consistency for... um, two days before I said "this is lunacy! this isn't a christmas present, and i can't justify working on anything that isn't a christmas present!". So that one hit the WIP basket as well.

And out came the Pomatomus. These are for my mom, so I can justify the Lorna's Laces. I'm a big fan of this pattern, but alas, all is not well. I used US1s because, um, I had five of them, and only four 2s, but also becuase my mom's feet are very wee. And lest you judge me, I DID swatch. Well. I swatched in stockinette, and I got gauge... if anything it was a tiny bit big. But I tried it on this morning, and well...

Even Maya can tell something's not right. I can't even get the damn thing close to my heel. While my mama's feet are small, they're not that small.

So. It's back to the stole for a bit while I recover my sock pride. (And my eye is already wandering to post holiday goodies.)

And finally, in non-knitting news, I leave you with some proof that I'm making progress on the Plainspoken Quilt. I've finished the first two rounds of piecing and decided on the layout.
I cannot wait to have this thing on my bed.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Wishing them peace.

this is hitting me even harder than i expected.

they said goodbye to him not knowing if he'd return. he died not knowing that they were safe. it breaks my heart.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Eye Candy

Snake River Gorge near Pullman, WA

By the time I'm done with what I need to do each day, and can make myself sit down and relax and knit or sew or chat, I've pretty much spent whatever energy I have. And when I wake up again in the morning, I snooze until the very last possible second before I have to scurry about the very cold house, throw on my clothes, and get out the door. Everything but work, class, sleep, making gifts, and making my lady happy feels like a luxury I can hardly afford.

This picture reminds me that I manage, fairly frequently, to carve out narrow swathes of my time to sit with big, immovable geological features at sunset.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Post bird.

I just spent the most relaxing thansgiving weekend ever, without straying more than a few feet from my house. I stuffed myself beyond silly on turkey thursday and "deep friday", and I've been spending almost every spare moment since knitting and sewing*, and have hardly stopped to eat or take progress photos. So to make up for my lack of visual interest, I give you instead a few of my current etsy favorites:

1 2 34 5

*I ended up telling The Lady about the quilt because I came to grips with the fact that I'd never finish in time if I didn't work on it in front of her. Cutting is done and piecing is going faster than I expected. I think it's the ironing and quilting that's going to kill me.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Completion, rejuvenation.

It was a busy, difficult weekend with a handful of unignorable upsides, the most notable of which is this:

apologies for the flash. winter in portland...

Pattern: Leaf Lace Shawl, by Evelyn Clark for Fiber Trends
Yarn: KnitPicks Gloss in "Dusk", a little less than 3 skeins
Needles: Inox US 6 circulars
Start to Finish: Mid September to November 19, 2006 (with several breaks due to mishaps, travels, and a short attention span.)
Firsts: Lace. And oh, how I love it.

This is the project that taught me that becoming a better knitter, at least for me, is more than anything about learning how to fix my mistakes. (Sure, my tension is getting a little more even, and I'm a little faster, but those changes don't make nearly the kind of tangible impact on my actual experience of knitting.) I don't necessarily make any fewer mistakes than I used to, but I can often fix them now without tinking or ripping, and that makes all the difference.

When i finally got this thing pinned out I was positively giddy. I made that. Two months of intermittent wrangling and suddenly there it is. The last 20 rows flew by, and a good thing too, because the recipient (The Lady's mom) was in town this weekend and I may not see her again before Christmas. Luckily I got a chance to make her model it for me.

She was thrilled, and I was thrilled that she was thrilled... but it feels a little strange to give it away so soon. Suddenly it's not in my home anymore, after spending so many hours in my hands. Which, by the way, was a lovely experience. I've been leaning on KP a little harder lately than I generally like to, due to the slenderness of my wallet, but I have few if any complaints about Gloss. The silk content really does the trick. It's soft yet well defined, and the color is incredible. I was hoping for a nice deep blue, but this has a slightly purplish tone to it as well, and it's deeply saturated without getting anywhere near garish or bright. I love it.

My knitting brain is rejuvenated. I highly suspect I'll have another little FO to show off tomorrow.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Winter and the Bridges of Konigsberg

I love Portland. I love it in more ways that I have time to detail for you right now (I'm on my lunch break), but I'm not sure that I can settle down here because the winters just kill me. My whole soul feels damp and deflated when the sun doesn't come out for days on end, and I am not generally a damp and deflated sort of gal. To wit: This summer? Illness of a loved one, parents' divorce, other crazy family shit, and the usual business of earning a living and trying to be a good human. And I was fine. I was great. Now? I realize I'll have to rip out my sideways scarf because I miscalucalated the row length, and suddenly I don't know what I'm doing with my life.

So. Given that, I have to be, I require myself to be, deeply grateful when the sun does show its face, which it's done now two days in a row and maybe three days this week. It gives me the push I need to try something new, like printmaking. Thus I give you my very first Eye Candy Friday:

This is my backyard, folks. How lucky am I?

I'm pretty happy for my first attempt.

As for my knitting life, it was by no means safe from the giant hole that winter dug. First there was the dog incident. I came home one day a couple of weeks ago, to find this:

...along with Sebastian, the lovable but not terribly bright greyhound, greeting me cheerfully as though nothing had happened, and Maya, the lab/shepherd that could probably get into Harvard looking at me with that "I swear I tried to stop him, Mom" look of equal parts sheepishness and disdain.

Sigh. Swear a bit. Thank Sebastian for not attacking the the actual knitted portion, as he and I would still not be on speaking terms if he had. Sigh again, and put the whole mess away for awhile.

Then one morning I woke up with the words "Bridges of Konigsberg" on my lips. This is a little nugget of elementary graph theory that you can go read about if you like, but the relevant bit is that it saved me from being totally overwhelmed by the task of untangling my yarn. Let me demonstrate:

The yarn has only two ends, one of which is obviously in the shawl itself, and the other is somewhere in these tangled islands. Starting from the shawl end, the yarn first travels through the big clump at the lower right, and since there's only one strand between them, it never returns to the shawl. From there it travels to the pie-shaped clump to the left and the big messy one up top. But because there are 2 (an even number) of strands between these bottom two piles, I know the yarn returns to the first clump again and never goes back to the "pie". That other trip, you will notice, is marked with a "5". There were an odd number of strands between those two piles and no other two, so the free end had to be in that largest pile. Who knew discrete math would come in so handy?

(Um, I shouldn't imply that finding the free end ended world hunger or anything. I still got horribly frustrated and ended up handing it to The Lady who very patiently undid the whole thing -- which pretty well illustrates one of the key differences between us. I'll analyze something to death before I actually dig in and do it, and she's happy to work things out with her hands.)

So, very long story short, I'm finally working on the leaf lace shawl again and fully expect to finish it this weekend.

And then there was the Print o' the Wave stole that had to be started over, the super secret project that's languishing untouched, and the scarf that was supposed to be a mindless distraction from lace and ended up eating up two full evenings and much of my presence of mind... but then I did some yoga and ate some fruit and the sun came out. Just you wait and see what I have for you on Monday.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

inner knitter

you know what carolyn says about listening to your inner knitter? she's right. specifically, if you're undertaking a lace project that you fear may be a bit beyond you, and that little voice cries "lifeline! everything's going far too well... wouldn't you like to preserve it?? lifeline!". you should listen. is what i'm saying. *sigh*

Thursday, November 09, 2006

What lazy perfectionism really means

This, folks, is my first real sock. I did some fuzzy feet for my dear friend Chet last spring, which taught me the basic construction of a sock, but nothing of what it means to knit with itty bitty needles. I'm planning to do a pair of pomatomi for my mom for Christmas, so I thought I'd do a practice pair for me and/or The Lady first, just to get the hang of it. I also decided to do one cuff-down and the other toe-up to decide which I prefer. (This is the cuff-down twin.)

Somehow, however, my own need for "interesting" knitting turned my practice sock into a crash course in design...

Attempt #1: I cast on god knows how many stitches (too many) and off I went in stockinette. Soon realized this was too big, too ribless, and too deathly boring.

Attempt #2: Decided I liked Eunny's Bayerische sock but didn't want quite that much of a challenge, so I'd just use the twisted stitch cabled rib instead. My judgement left me briefly, and I put one single, lonely purl stitch between each cable. It was holey and terrible.

Attempt #3: Put a couple of ribs between each cable. Forgot how much cables and ribs would draw the fabric in, and i couldn't even get the thing over my toes.

Attempts #4 and 5: Frogged for less interesting reasons... just plain old mistakes, I think.

So after two weeks of working on this fairly consistently, i had nothing but a cuff. I took it on the plane with me to Chicago in October and finally it all came together. If I had it to do again I'd use smaller needles -- it's rather loose and lacy at the gusset. Here's what I mean about lazy perfectionism though: I'm more than willing to rip anything I've only been working on for a day or so. It seems totally worth it if there's anything that's just not happening right. Once I'm into a project, however, it takes a pretty major gaffe to make me go backwards even a couple of rounds. Witness the little lump near the ankle where I knit into the stitch below and didn't catch it until about 6 rounds later.

I would love to subscribe to Grumperina's maxim: "If it can be fixed, it must", but once I've invested a certain amount of time I just can't make myself go back. I hear someone in my head lecturing me on the sunk cost fallacy or something like that, but that's just the way it is. Now, if I were knitting a gift for a fellow knitter it might be different...

Incidentally, this is also the project that (forever?) re-converted me to combined kniting. But more on that tomorrow. Instead, I leave you with the state of the leaf lace shawl, which is currently stalled due to one Very Bad Dog. (Again, more on that soon.)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Peeking in...

Well, it's official. I've had one figurative toe in the door of the knit/craft blogging world for long enough... time for the whole foot.

What's also official is that I've gotten seriously soft. I used to fly home from Minnesota at Thanskgiving and find the 45 degree weather positively balmy. Two years ago I laughed at the Portlanders who broke out -- and I am not joking -- parkas, scarves, mittens, hats, and boots before the lows even hit freezing. This morning, however, as I scraped ice from my car at 6 am (I'll get to that...) I was quite certain that I had never witnessed 20 below. Such a thing is impossible, unsurvivable. It has to be, if the wee-est frost has me so miserable.

My second discovery of the morning was that knitting with knitted gloves on, fingerless though they may be, significantly affects my gauge. I nicked The Lady's fetchings this morning (no, you can't see them, they're embarassingly pilly), because of the aforementioned "cold snap"
and because I'm going to be hitting the pavement for Kulongoski and the dems tonight and expect the return of the kind of cold that makes managing a clipboard rather comical. That's also why I went to work so obscenely early, so I can leave early and go play Good Citizen.

Long story short, I knit
so much tighter with these puppies on. The frictional coefficient of yarn on yarn (in this case, KP Gloss on KP Wool of the Andes) is clearly higher than that of yarn on skin. I decided that I didn't care because the leaf lace shawl is nearing completion and I refuse to look back and it's going to be blocked pretty heavily anyway, right?

That picture is just a leeetle bit outdated, but it's really exactly the same. Just bigger. I love this pattern and yarn and everything else about it but I'm starting to get bored. I'm so ready to block.