Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Little Bit of Voyeurism

Ravelry is a dangerous place.

Last year, I wanted to knit Wisteria.  I did some preliminary research, pricing different yarns and such, hoping to dig myself out of my knitting funk.  I didn't end up buying either the pattern or any yarn for it, opting to start, then abandon, my Gwynedd instead.

Well, I have Christmas money burning a hole in my pocket, and I want a new cabled sweater.  And I want to knit that new cabled sweater.  I have one favorite that fits perfectly and I adore it (I'll show it off sometime when I have nothing else to blog about!) but it's only the one, and I want another.

Re-enter Wisteria into my life.

As I pondered whether or not this was the sweater for me, I had a sudden brainwave--I'm sure it was a popular pattern, being absolutely gorgeous, so why shouldn't I head over to Ravelry and see what turned up?

Gazing at all the beautiful versions there only reinforced my desire.  And then...then I found my twin.

Well, her face was cut off, so really, I have no idea if we look anything alike.  But I took one look at the boob-waist-hip ratio and thought I was looking at myself.

And her Wisteria looked fabulous.  Jaw-droppingly so.

What's truly funny was when I showed that particular picture to my husband, who had been listening to me hem and haw all evening while I flipped through my book collection and pile of old magazines looking for that one perfect project.  I explained the significance of that particular version, and he immediately said "Show me more busty women."

A site filled with vast quantities of knitting knowledge and innumerable resources, and suddenly, it's sweater porn!

In other new project news, my dwindling supply of purple Baby Cashmere is not, in fact, suitable for the Kingdom gloves...I could not get the right gauge without producing a fabric that I felt too loose to make good gloves.  Instead, it might very well become Ailbe instead, as my first swatch did get gauge for that.  But with the Wisteria pattern on my hard drive and the yarn for it here by the end of the week, I don't see myself starting these any time soon...

Also, I'm already unhappy with Freeform Scarf Experiment.  It still looks okay, but I'm not pleased with how fussy I have to be to keep it laying flat and behaving itself.  I'm not going to frog it, but it is going off to join my other blob of freeform experimentation, the one that inspired me to try this again in the first place.  Maybe someday, they'll get married, and a new freeform project will be born!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Can You Make Yarn From My Head, Since It's Spinning?

What started as a reconnection with Ravelry last night ended up with me pounding out a pattern I've been meaning to write down for a while now.

Is it a good or a bad sign that the pattern was harder to write than the item was to knit?  I'm going to have to test knit a few chunks of my own design, just to make sure I've transcribed my brain waves properly!  I mean, I made this all up in my head, and I remember very clearly the intent of each aspect of the design, but it really was more a system of rules than a set of stitch counts and decreases...grumble grumble grumble!  Anyway, I know it's a tease, but the pattern is highly classified for the moment, as I have plans for it that go beyond self-publishing.  I hope.

I'm not above being a tease, though!  It's such a wicked little thrill.

Anyway, on the recommendation of my darling Kara, I dove in to the abyss that is Ravelry.  The Big R's inception coincided almost exactly with the death of my last blog and my spiraling lack of interest in the world of online knitting.  I spent weeks and weeks on the waiting list with everyone else, and then when my number finally came up, I think I spent about twenty minutes looking the place over.  I queued one project (which I never ended up making and finally de-queued.)  Last night, however, I spent a good two hours there--I added my recent FOs, and spent more time than I should have browsing patterns and ooohing and aaaahing over other knitters' gorgeous FOs.  I also, as a challenge to myself to actually finish it, I added the new project I started yesterday, which for now shall be called the Freeform Scarf Experiment, my answer to my coworker's Shoddy-but-Cute Scarf.  I've played around with freeform before but never followed anything through to completion.

This, too, even more than my mystery pattern, isn't a pattern but a set of rules.  Freeform knitting, of course, can be as freeform as the knitter wants it to be, but I find greater satisfaction with it if I set some limits.
  1. All garter stitch, all the time.  I want this scarf to lay flat.  I despise curling edges unless they are deliberate design features, and even then, I go case by case.
  2. Each segment is wholly independent; that is, I bind off each one and never leave live stitches to be used later.
  3. No two adjacent segments can have parallel garter ridges.  To some extent this is a refinement of #2--this one prevents me from picking up stitches directly from a cast-on or bound-off edge.
  4. There is no right or wrong side.  Garter stitch does most of this for me, but you could  still tell a traditional right/wrong side apart by the direction of the picked up stitches, and I want both sides of my scarf to be equal if not identical, so I'm turning the piece in between segments and picking up stitches from both sides, making them, in essence, both the wrong side!

I could have hedged my bets further to get this to be neat and well-behaved by using all natural yarns that would block well, but that throws all my novelty bits out the window, so all bets are off on fiber content.  I've already got cotton, wool, and silk in there all at 100%, plus one silk-acrylic (weird, no?) and a few very odd bits that I'm not even sure about anymore, so far are they removed from their original forms.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Scarf Fever

This was absolutely sad...I saw a scarf at work yesterday that was almost adorable.  It was blocks of garter stitch in different yarns, mostly novelty stuff but not entirely--a mix of tasteful eyelashes, some chenille, a little bit of sparkle, and so on.  The colors seemed wholly random from block to block, but the overall affect was pleasing, at least to me.  It looked like some enterprising knitter cleaned out her odd bits of stash into one hell of a funky fresh scarf.

Then I saw the "fringe".  Not fringe on the ends, oh no--just that the yarn ends at each color change were knotted together and not woven in.  Hmmm.  A beginning knitter, perhaps?

The owner of the scarf not in sight--it was on a coat hook--I quickly investigated.

There was a brand label on it!

Someone paid money for it!  "Yes, I'd like an unhemmed skirt, please.  And a shirt missing three of its buttons.  Oh, and do you have any sweaters that will unravel if I look at them funny? That would be great."  (Though, in fairness to my coworker whose scarf I later discovered this is, I don't think she knits, so she might have no understanding of how poorly it's made.  Also, it could have been a gift, in which case she's not the one squirming on my hook after all.)

I'm considering my options for recreating, updating, and outdoing that scarf.  Because, honestly, before I noticed its shoddy construction, it really was cute.  And I'm feeling very scarfy this winter.

On that note...time for my official Finished Object post for my purple cabled goodies!

Pattern:  Gwynedd (winter '08 Knitty)
YarnElann Peruvian Baby Cashmere, color 1575 - Mulled Grape
Yardage: ??
Needles: #5
Final measurements: 8" W x 53" L

Notes:  Used the yarn doubled, and since I knit this sporadically over the course of a year, I didn't keep count of how many balls it ended up using--I know how much of the yarn I bought years ago, but some of it is still tied up in the one-and-a-half sleeves from the sweater it was originally supposed to be, and that was so long ago I have no idea how much those sleeves took!  Also, because I am a woman on the short side of average, I called a halt to the scarf a few inches early.

Would I knit this pattern again?
:  Yes, but not any time soon, and certainly not with a doubled yarn...that made passing stitches for the cables a total pain.  Though after this rather intense cabled adventure, I'll never need a cable needle again!

And the hat!

PatternKnotty but Nice Hat (winter '09 Knitty)
YarnElann Peruvian Baby Cashmere, color 1575 - Mulled Grape
Yardage: ~ 450
Needles: #5
Final measurements: head-sized!

Notes: Again, doubled yarn.  I knit this in less than 24 hours, starting the evening after the issue went live--we were leaving for our early Christmas a few days later and I wanted a hat to go with Gwynedd.

Would I knit this pattern again?: Absolutely.  The pattern was very clear from start to finish, easy to follow and pretty darn quick to knit considering the intricate cabling.  Though after bruising my poor fingers on Gwynedd's constant reversible cabling, this did seem relatively tame.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Domestic Bliss

Isn't it strange what can make a person feel more like an adult?

I am now the proud owner of a brand-new set of dishes.  That I picked out.

That's never been true before.

My first set of dishes was a gently-used, almost-complete set that my mother scored for me, along with a few pots and pans, at a church sale.  My then-future husband and I didn't have much in the way of household items--like many college students, most of our possessions were books and video games!--so they were a welcome upgrade from the incredibly cheap, flimsy plastic dishes I had been using until then.

My second round of dishes came when my grandmother moved from her own place into a home.  We helped in cleaning out her apartment, and she insisted that we take anything we needed or wanted  with us.  I claimed her everyday dishes, but of course by then, having had them for so long, some had been broken years before and not replaced, and the ones that were left were often chipped or cracked.  They were beautiful, much nicer than my church-sale dishes, but they still weren't really mine.

The other time we might have gotten dishes--our wedding--well, there was no wedding china to be had.  We didn't have a very large or elaborate wedding, there was never any talk of a gift registry or any of the traditional gifts a bride and groom receive.  My parents did get us a Kitchen-Aid stand mixer, which I love and adore and use constantly...but that was the closest to dishes that we came.

So here I am, taking another small, domestic step towards adulthood.  It felt really good to throw away all of those damaged, unmatching dishes.  Even if I felt kind of silly when I wrapped some of them up in my old bathrobe (which also got replaced this Christmas) to take them down to the dumpster!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

That's me, my Gwynedd, and my Knotty but Nice hat, at an eensy little park a few blocks from Chez In-law.  Yes, I dragged my husband out in the wind and the snow on the last day we were there to get pictures, when all he wanted was a warm blanket and a cup of tea!

I am a cruel, heartless woman.  But I dress well!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

It Got How Big?

Very big.

Who'd have thought increasing two stitches on most rows and four on the rest would make a shawl so wide, so fast? 

I didn't break out the measuring tape, but even before I blocked it, its wingspan was greater than mine, and now that it's blocked...

Well.  I didn't expect that it would end up that big.  I especially didn't think I could knit something that big in less than a week!

For contrast, next to it is the first tiny swatch for my next project, a lovely pair of gloves.  That's fingering weight wool-cashmere on size 00 needles (or was it 000?  Damn.  I know what color they were, I can find out!)  The goal is 30 stitches to four inches--will I get it in one try?  Will I have to endure the pain of multiple swatches for a single project?  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Back From the Beyond...

We're home!  On this trip I learned:

  1. Ginger ale mixed with sparkling cranberry juice tastes awesome!
  2. Avatar was awesome!
  3. Real grandmother-made Christmas cookies are awesome!  (Wait, I already knew that.)
  4. And finally, finishing a vacation shawl during the actual vacation is awesome!

Friday, December 18, 2009

To Show I Am Dedicated

I am taking the time before we leave to make good on my tale of photo woe.

The batteries are charged, the images edited, the stockings hung by the chimney with care....wait, what?  I don't usually get up this early....

The color shot, right side:

The texture shot, no flash, wrong side:

If I ever need to knit a fish or a dragon, I'll know just what stitch pattern to use!  Isn't it cool?

Anyway, I'm out for five days, getting home just in time to work Christmas Eve then do Christmas again with my family...I love having two Christmasses.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

In Which A Picture Is Not Worth A Thousand Words

I went to bed last night with every intention of posting knitting content today.  Why, ninety-five percent of the reason I wanted a new knitting blog was that I was knitting again!  And with a fury, too.

I woke up this morning as firm in my resolve as when I fell asleep.  But there were errands to do, places to go, things to be done in preparation for our impending holiday excursion Chez In-Law.  I still haven't packed.  I have time.

What I did prepare, several days ago, was the car knitting project, a vital part of any trip.  Now, I get motion sickness.  I remember, dimly, as a child, that I was able to read in the car on vacation.  Not so these days, even with medication to soothe my confused inner ear.  But I can knit, at least for stretches if not for the whole ride.

I feel particularly drawn to shawls and scarves at the moment, a long-lasting love of mine that sometimes gets upstaged by either the siren call of some drop-dead gorgeous sweater or the necessity of replacing worn-out dishcloths.  I always come back to my precious lace, though.  Eventually.

This time, it was waiting for the new Knitty that got me going.  I was off work on Sunday, and I had just finished a project that had been collecting dust for almost a year (more on that another time!) and I was itching for new inspiration, but there was no Knitty in sight.  And so, like reading my favorite novels over and over again, I browsed old patterns, remembering what I had meant to make and not gotten to, and finding ones I had forgotten entirely and was happy to rediscover.

And then, there was Ella.

Ella is coming along for Christmas this year, and she's a darling.  I happened to have some very vibrant laceweight in the stash, relic of a failed design project a few years back--a mix of teal, turquoise, sky blue, and a blindingly bright chartreuse that I just adore, for some odd reason.  As a nod to its car knitting status, I'm planning on the triangular version and not the original vee--though I do love the vee, it's an incredibly easy shape to wear.  That will also obviate the need to figure out if I actually have enough yarn to do a vee...with the triangular shape I can just knit until I run out! 

For posterity's sake, I photographed the piece in its before-trip state; I did enough repeats of the pattern to be sure I had it memorized, then made heroic efforts of will not to keep knitting it.  I think I did four or five rows earlier today while I had the dishes soaking.  Honest, that's all.  I'm afraid that I'm so consumed by the knitting bug that I might just finish this shawl while I'm gone if I knit too much of it beforehand...and then I would be without any knitting!

Unfortunately, those pictures...well, I couldn't upload them.  Would you believe I had just enough juice in my rechargeable batteries to take the two pictures I wanted, then die before I got them on to my hard drive?  So frustrating, especially when I realized all the other rechargeables on hand were just as toast.  The two waiting by the charger for their turn, I understand, but the Wiimotes were both empty and the four in the Balance Board were dead too?  Hmph.  My batteries defy me!

And so, like all those snake-oil internet ads for weight loss, my before and after will have to come side by side.  Truly, it's an indignity, and I hope that one day, Ella will forgive me.

/faints dramatically

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

On the Naming of a Blog

I've had blogs before. Oh, have I ever. But not once have I been satisfied with a name.

Other people have clever names for their blogs, especially the knitting blogs. Since my last blogging incident, just over two years ago, I haven't really been reading any...but I remember many names being clever. Or cutesy, at least. Full of personality, occasionally witty, sometimes downright brilliant.

So why can't I ever think of one?

In naming this new blog, I considered many monikers. Some were already taken--I mean, just how many unique knitting blog names are even left? I'm very in to knitting winter accessories at the moment, but calling myself or my blog ScarfLady or The Shawl Zoo or Three Mittens to the Wind...well, you might see why I'm dissatisfied. Some of the other ideas I had seemed more me, but either too obscure (insert World of Warcraft joke here and kiss my knitting audience goodbye) or too silly, occasionally even flat-out dumb. Those are the ones I'm most pointedly not going to share.

Out of frustration, and a desire to just get on with it, I went with a true statement about myself: I hate wearing socks. I do! I'd live in bare feet forever, if only I didn't have to contend with things like broken glass and tiny stones, Michigan winters, and the Health Department. And I do, so I do wear socks, to my great dismay.

Is it a great title? No. And no, that's not fishing for disagreement, honestly. Maybe someday I'll think of a better one. Maybe I won't. Until then, I shall be She Who Does Not Wish to Wear Socks, and I shall bear the title proudly.