Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Red and white and warm all over

Somehow, in between the cooking and the houseguests and the visiting of many Portlandy institutions* and the lots and lots of sleeping, I whacked these out over the long weekend and I looooooorve them.

(4 FOs in a week? Who is this knitter inhabiting my body, and can she stick around for the next, oh, 27 days?)

Ze Hat:
Pattern: Koolhaas, by Jared Flood, in IK Holiday Gifts 2007
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk Aran, color #11, 2 balls
Needles: US6 and 8 metal dpns
Mods: I followed the directions for the Women's size, but only did 7 rounds of ribbing, and omitted round 7 of the crown shaping, both because of yardage fears and the lofty, almost bulky weight of this yarn though which made my gauge a bit bigger than the pattern gauge. It worked out just fine: the hat fits perfectly and I had less than a yard of yarn leftover.

This yarn is fuzzy, and so the traveling twisted stitches aren't as crisp in this hat as in most other versions I've seen, but the thickness of it means they still stand out well -- the little recessed diamonds are extra deep and shadowy. Plus, you can't beat this stuff for softness. (cough It's on closeout at WEBS cough)

Ze Meeetens:
Herringbone Mittens (pdf), by Elli Stubenrauch (elliphantom.com)
Yarn: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Hollyberry, 1 skein
and Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Worsted in Aran, less than 1/2 a skein.
Needles: US 4 and 6 bamboo dpns
Mods: None, except omitting the poms.

This pattern is awesome. Simple, well written, easy to memorize, and way, way cute. I see more mittens in my future. I found the yardage to be very generous -- I got away with half of what the pattern calls for. YMMV, though, because my colorwork tends to be extra tight. And for reference? The Hollyberry is almost exactly the same shade as the Alpaca Silk.

Also a nice complement to a Rhode Island Red, if you've got one around.

*Powell's, Armory Theater, Japanese Garden, Nicholas' Lebanese Restaurant, KnitPurl, The Lightbulb Lady, Amnesia Brewing, The Meadow, The Spare Room, Montage, Tin Shed. All highly recommended.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Three small pretty things

I was just noticing that the single sock was my only FO since September, and thinking, "what kind of slacker knitter am I?", when suddenly two little O's were magically effed in one weekend.
I don't have much of an extended family: only two first cousins, both adopted. (This is what happens when your mom is an only child, your dad's brother was gay and died of AIDS, and his sister is a DES daughter.) Since Katie is siblingless and my sister swears up and down she'll never have kids, my niecephew outlook is similarly bleak. But! The adorable man whom Katie has known since babydom and is practically her brother is becoming a poppa in December.

Dudes, this is the closest I may ever get to having a niece. Ergo, Shedirlette! I followed these directions for babyfication, though to my untrained eye it looks more infant than newborn sized. I used roughly half a skein of Calmer leftover from Fifi.

Second in the lineup, proof that boring knits can be pretty.

Ignore that yarn tail for the moment. I can't find my tapestry needle.

This scarf was a request from a friend, and the yarn he chose is heavenly -- 4 balls of Elsebeth Lavold Silky Flamme in Serge -- but I have to admit it had me a bit stymied at first. I had all sorts of great ideas, but none of them seemed to fit the solid color and drastically thick and thin texture. With reassurances from the recipient that "simple is fine, really", I ended up with plain old 2x2 rib, and you know what? I love it.

Finally, the third soft pretty thing that's hanging out at my house these days:

We signed up to be a foster pet family, and this is the first little fellow to come home with us. He didn't come with a name, so we've been calling him Helo. They were going to euthanize him because they said he was unfriendly, difficult to manage, and wouldn't use a litterbox, none of which have proved even remotely true.

He is, however, hard to get a decent picture of, because he literally spends 90% of his waking hours doing this:

I'm going to have a hard time when he has to leave.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

139 days (It's a leap year.)

I just ordered the last of the yarn I need for Xmas projects, as well as a post-holiday project that I've been scheming about for months, now... and with that, I begin my fast. Hear me now, believe me later: I will not buy any new yarn until April 1st.

I know, I know, Gail, I said March, but after reviewing the evidence, April should be no problem. Don't you worry about me.

Here's what I've got either on the needles or awaiting a mate:

Details? Clicky clicky.

(Plus, of course, the Super Secret Xmas Thing, which is rapidly nearing doneness.)

Then we have yarn with a precise and imminent purpose:

Details? All will be revealed in the fullness of time.

(Plus what I just ordered -- a scarf and a sweater's worth.)

See? Piece of cake, right?

It wasn't actually this stock-taking that spurred me to temporarily swear off the LYS -- quite the reverse. It's just money is a little tight and I thought to myself, "Self, prolly we should hold off on the yarn-buying for awhile, eh? Maybe a few months even. I mean look at all these things we have lined up already." Once I looked, there was more than I'd reckoned. So this is more queue busting that stash busting.

After all, I'm not much of a stasher. Once we take away the leftovers from old completed projects, and the yarn bought with a specific project in mind (see above), we're left with this.

Oh, Shibui. What am I going to do with you?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Beating the blues.

Thank you so much for all the tips, y'all! Besides getting advice, it's nice to be reminded that I'm not alone in my winter blues. It seems that the coping mechanisms fall into two rough categories: First, guarding against depression by making your body healthier and happier (light, exercise, sleep, healthy food). These were the ones that I had mostly anticipated. The second category though, I tend to neglect: making a point of ENJOYING the winter. Maybe this should have been obvious because I don't actually dislike winter itself, just the way it saps my energy. So yeah. Here's to attending to the good stuff: fires, cider, soup, and obviously handknits.

In that spirit, 3 more things that are making me happy:

1. Organizing and pretty-fying my house. Every time I walk into this room I think, "Wow. I love my life."

2. Crafting with the ladies of said house. In the organizing craze, I tackled the basement as well. It's where the TV lives, since I have a deeply ambivalent relationship with the television and won't allow it in the living room. But the basement had also become the bottomless pit of Un-unpacked Shit. So I finally spiffed it up a bit and now, although not as cute as the upstairs, it's perfect for making stuff while watching stuff.

There's The Lady painting*, yers truly working on a pretty but very boring scarf, and our new housemate Ronica, sewing lavender stuffed eye pillows. Mmmm.

3. The interweb! I love my sock, Elinor loves her sock, y'all are out there making stuff and telling me about it and it's all just so awesome. And on that note, the random number generator (actually random, since it's based on atmospheric noise... so cool) picked number 23, so Kath, check your email!

*Speaking of which, go check out her latest painting in her etsy shop. It's our first joint project!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

A very merry unblogthday, to me (and you)!

I've had a shitty couple of weeks. Don't worry, nothing serious -- neither I nor anyone in my immediate family is dead, destitute or seriously ill. Just work, bills, weather, and a minor breakdown where I realized I've been neglecting really important parts of my life. But it was the necessary kind of freakout and I felt better almost immediately afterwards. By last night I was 100% back in the saddle, and here's why:

First, I finished this.

I'm pretty sure that this is the Best Sock I've Ever Knit. It's on its way to a friend who lives 1813 miles away, and will knit up the second sock herself. I'm a little afraid that it will be too big, but I tried a needle size down and that was definitely too small. Fingers crossed!

Speaking of friends (oh, I am so FUNNY), this arrived yesterday, and is the second reason for my return to happytown. You have spoiled me rotten, Leslie. Thank you!!!

Thirdly, we're selling my Subaru wagon and have bought what is, if possible, the only dykier vehicle: an old compact pickup. Please welcome Smurfette to the family.

I don't know if I'm blinking or squinting or what, but don't let it confound the fact that I LOVE HER. She's cute, she's practical, and she's old enough to drink.

Lastly, rounding out the list of Good Things, yesterday was my 1st blogthday! I worried a little when I first started this blog, that I was just doing it to feed my ego. But you know what? That's not why I've stuck with it, at all. Sure, it's awesome to get positive feedback about a project, but heart of it is that I feel more pride and joy and love for this craft, and the people who practice it, every single day. There, I did it. I got all sentimental on your collective ass. And to thank you for being here and putting up with my maudlin self, what else but a contest??

So, because my streak of good vibes can only last so long in this sweet gray city I call home, I want you to tell me your tips and tricks for keeping your chin up through the winter. I don't have full-fledged SAD, but I do have a rough time of it most years. Comment by midnight on Monday the 5th, and you'll be entered in a random drawing to win a delicious yarny prize, which I have yet to photograph, but I will, by the weekend for sure. But take my word for it, it is delicious, and it is yarny.

ETA: See, I told you.