Friday, October 8, 2010

Believe Me, I Am Still Alive

Yes, I just made a Portal reference.  Cannot wait for Portal 2.

Anyway.  Ahem.

I've spent a good part of the summer hauling away on my sewing machine.  I have become the personal seamstress for a good friend of mine who blogs even less than I do, who got a new job and wanted some new pieces for her wardrobe.  She's going to come over tomorrow to talk winter fashion, and I'm excited about it.  She's also bringing yarn for me, as I finally took her up on her offer of yarn for my birthday--it's my fault, not hers, that I'm only getting it now when my birthday was in May.

In addition to the sewing for her, I've been sewing for myself as well, and I'm sure when I feel like forcing my husband to take pictures of me modeling the stuff, I'll throw up a Fashion Show post or five.

For now, I'm going to show off this bag I just finished this week that I'm incredibly proud of.

I'm calling it "The Poetry Bag," as the outer shell is woven from pages torn from a giant tome of modern poetry that I found at the thrift store.

See?  Poems!  The pages were folded, then laminated with clear packing tape before being woven.  For stability, and to hide the ends, I covered the outer edges with more folded strips, then taped those down to the body.

The lining and straps are made from a thrift-store shirt.  The colors don't show up well here, the fabric is striped in shades of brown, tan, and aqua on a background of white.  The shirt was a petite XL, so it was rather oddly proportioned, or I might have tried to make it wearable, as I really like the pattern!  As it stands now, I'll have to make myself something from the scraps, because this bag isn't for me--it's for a Ravelry swap.  I feel safe posting it anyway because my downstream swap partner has no idea who I am yet, so I can't really spoil it for her!

The sides gave me fits for a while--once I had the woven outer shell done, I had no idea how to bridge the gap!  It's hard to explain without a diagram, but finally I sandwiched "wings" on either side of the bag between the outer shell and the lining piece, and then folded the bag in half and stitched the outer edges of the wings together.  If I make another bag I might have to spend some design time coming up with a better method, but when all's said and done, it looks fine.  The straps were much easier, they're just tubes of the lining fabric passed through grommets and knotted on the outside, an effect I like very much and will probably not change for the next one.  More finished products this weekend, I've got two shawls done in the past two weeks that I have to show off!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


But in the nicest way possible, I do love Amy.  My design will not be in the next Knitty.

However, with some new photography, a new name, and a little tweaking, it's startlingly appropriate for the Anticraft, so all is not lost.

The heat this summer has made me lose my knitting mojo in a serious way, but I'm determined to keep publishing, even if at a snail's pace, so I plunked down my credit card at Knit Picks this afternoon to pick up yarn for my next design for Knitty.  Unless it gets here fast (I'm too cheap to pay for rush shipping) and I really buckle down, I won't make it in time for Deep Fall, but my idea is suitable for Winter too, so I'll have plenty of time for that.

I need to start planning ahead!  And I need to get off my lazy butt and rework the cursed blue shawl that's been languishing since late April, waiting for me to have the courage to redo the numbers...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Where Did May Go?

The notable things I did this month and completely neglected to blog about:

  • Sampled many a mead and cider at the World Expo of Beer in Frankenmuth, while my husband gladly used the bulk of the tickets for his many beers!
  • Went "cold sheep", so to speak, by not purchasing any yarn or sweaters to recycle into yarn for the entire month.
  • Made my husband go through his clothing and hand me anything ill-fitting, stained, worn, or simply unwanted, all for my nefarious crafting purposes.
  • Hit the local Goodwill with a vengeance, scoring seven new pieces of clothing for a mere $1 each on a tag sale day.  Five of them even fit!  One pair of jeans is slightly too small, which may be remedied as I try to exercise more this summer; the other is a skirt that I knew would be too big, which I can resize to fit.  Although I'm considering making it into a tube top instead, because...
  • ...I got myself a tattoo for my birthday!

 That's the skirt there being pressed into emergency tube top service with the help of a paper clip, as all my tank tops are strappy and would have run right over the freshly inked tattoo, which would have hurt!  Today, a week later, is the first day I could bear to have a strap over it, which means I've been wearing my racerback sports bra to work for a week, something I never want to have to do again.

I'm all in a fever for altered clothing now, I have barely bought myself any new clothing for years, aside from a new dress to wear to a wedding last summer.  I didn't know how much I missed it!  So my sewing skills will be put to good use this summer as I thrift and sew my way to a new wardrobe...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sometimes It Is Easy Being Green

With the VES behind me, knitting has slowed down chez Avrienne, but not come to a complete stop.  The reason I sped ahead of schedule on that shawl was to start a new shawl KAL on the first, and start it I did!

I love the point on circular shawls were you can just barely get it onto a circular needle instead of dpns, and when you do, it blocks itself.

But what most of my crafting time has been filled with over the past few days is this:

Napkins!  Recycled napkins!  Mother's Day gift napkins!

These are 10x6" pieces of knit fabric finished with zigzagged edges, all neatly folded and bundled up with ribbons from my ribbon stash.  I'm quite proud of my thriftiness, the only new material involved in this project was the thread!  The top two fabrics came from pajamas I was given that I didn't like so much for various reasons, but the fabric was soooo soft, so I kept them thinking I'd make something out of them someday.  The bottom three are all made from shirts of my mother's, who cleaned out her closet last week and unloaded some of the stuff on me, either to wear or to recycle.

And though I don't have a picture of this, I wrapped up the whole bundle in a very large and colorful clothing store ad that came in the mail today, and tied that up with a stash ribbon too.  I feel quite green today!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Here Comes the Sun

Pattern: Vernal Equinox Shawl Surprise [Ravelry link]
Yarn: Cotton-ramie blend recycled from one of my favorite sweaters, lost to a stain I couldn't get out
Yardage: best estimate, 987 yds
Needles: US 5
Size: 78" wide x 38" deep
Would I knit this pattern again? Given its size, probably not!  But the pattern itself was fairly well written, with lots of alternate instructions for customization, so I would definitely recommend it.

Because I missed this beauty during its time as a mystery KAL, I jumped at the chance to participate in a KAL for it hosted by the Lace is My Bitch 2010 group on Ravelry.  Because I have another KAL that started yesterday, I got this done a week ahead of schedule, so I may be the first one done!

The knitting itself was finished on Friday, and after I got home from work (12:30 Saturday morning) I spent nearly two hours finishing the crochet bind-off, washing, and blocking the shawl.  I'm a fan of wet-blocking, so I tried that first, even knowing it was a cotton-ramie blend--I was hoping the fact that it was mostly cotton would mean it would take to wet-blocking well.

It didn't.  By this morning, it had sprung back considerably, looking nearly as kinked and rumpled as while it was on the needles.

Lesson learned, I pinned it out dry this afternoon and proceeded to "kill" it, something I didn't even know you could do until a few weeks ago.  I set my trusty iron as high as it would go without using steam, and patiently pressed my shawl.  It worked!  It's got magnificent drape now, and there's a slight sheen to the yarn that wasn't obvious before when it was kinky.  I'm in love.

Blocking it once before, I had the opportunity to decide to try a different way the second time, and not doing it at two in the morning also made my mind a bit clearer.  I didn't like the effect of having every chain loop in the bind off pinned out, so when I redid it today, I pinned each scallop out at the center, then added one pin on each side of the center until I liked the way it looked...three wasn't enough, seven too many, but five, well, I liked five just fine.

Hooray for learning new things!   Now that I can make lace out of man-made fibers, the world of thrift shops is my oyster....

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

It's Two in the Morning... you know where your shawl is?

Mine is on the floor, where I was going to block it, but now I'm not bothering.  It's the blue one again.  I reknit the border on a larger needle but without altering the stitch counts.

It wasn't enough!

So tomorrow when it's dry, it's getting folded up again and set aside while I finish my Vernal Equinox (on clues 6a and b) and then ponder the yarn I'm going to use for a new KAL that starts on May 1st.  My goal of the end of April for publishing this shawl is going to get pushed back to the end of May, in all likelihood.  Hmph.  I was frustrated the first time, now I'm just annoyed.

But I've put far too much work into this shawl to write it off as a pretty failure and not publish the design!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bitter Seaweed

I finished this last Friday, but I had trouble getting good pictures all week because of the relative position of the sun to my work schedule!  Today I decided I'd rather work with imperfect light than not blog any longer, so here we are.

Pattern: Bitterroot
Yarn: Knit Picks Alpaca Cloud in Tide Pool Heather
Beads: #8 Toho seed beads in Transparent Capri Blue
Yardage: 713
Needles: US 5
Size: 66" wide x 33" deep
Would I knit this pattern again? Absolutely.  I might skip the beads next time, though, I'm glad I tried beaded knitting, but it was very tedious, and I don't think I like the effect enough to bother doing it again.  Plus I like to pet my shawls when I'm wearing them (who doesn't?) and hitting the beads at the edge spoils the softness of the yarn to me.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Leeloo Dallas Multicraft!

The orange sweater is now entirely yarn!  The yardage estimates vary depending on which skein I weigh, which I attribute to not having a scale that does partial grams, but I likely have at least 3600 yds and up to 5000.

Last night I whipped up a tote bag from the celestial shirt I liked so much, and what's really great is that I only used the two shirt fronts--I still have the entire back and sleeves to play with!  I can't get a good picture of it, but I kept the front patch pocket intact and made that side the lining piece, so the tote has a large interior pocket.  The handles are satin ribbon from my stash.

And I'm in the home stretch on Bitterroot, I have ten rows to go before the bind off!  But they are of course the longest rows, and several of them are beaded, which takes sooooo long.  But I think it will be worth it.  So now instead of a smallish green blob, it's a very big green blob. 

I hope to have it done in the next few days, then crank out clue 5 on the VES, then go back to my shawl design and finish that by the end of the month.  I'm not ambitious, or anything, you think?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Oh Sew Beautiful

The fruits of my sewing machine's labors thus far--a circular needle organizer and a needle roll!

Also, because I wasn't ready to start reworking the blue shawl, I (finally!) cast on a Bitterroot!  It's just a greenish blob right now, I'm in the middle of chart C, which means it's not large enough to be impressive because of its size, but it's too big for me to try to spread it out on the needle to impress with the lace.  I have this feeling it's going to be gorgeous, though.  I just know it.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Thrift Stores FTW

With a phone call and GoogleMaps, we found a local thrift store today that I didn't even know existed until last week--it's run on the upper floor of a local church, so it has odd hours and isn't near any other businesses, which makes the odds of running across it casually quite small.

I found four things there, and three at my trusty Goodwill I went to last week, and it's a good day!

Forgive the crappy picture, it's gloomy today.  The top sweater is really more of a camel color, 100% acrylic, will likely yield me more cobweb weight yarn.  Last week, I didn't know about "killing" acrylic yarn as a blocking process, so I thought I couldn't knit lace with it, and since then, the Ravelry forums have set me straight.  Soft acrylic in colors I like now comes home with me instead of being passed over!

The teal is 100% silk, and looks to be knit from a yarn composed of many plies without much twist holding them together--a common enough construction for cotton and cotton-blend sweaters, like the purple one I frogged for my VES.  I'm hoping once I have this one frogged I can separate the plies and get loads of silk lace weight in one of my favorite colors!  If I can, I have the perfect project for it already lined up, but I have some others to wade through first....

The gray is 100% cotton and destined to be dishcloths.  I have many, but some of them are looking pretty sad these days, and it might actually be nice to knit a matching set of cloths from the same yarn instead of "whatever color of Sugar 'n' Cream caught my eye last time they were on sale", which is the overriding color scheme I have now.

The blue striped fabric is two king-sized pillowcases that are going to be (hopefully) cloth napkins, and the shirt is polyester (reasonably soft, thank goodness) that I'm positively dying to make into a tote bag for myself.  A celestial print on green instead of blue or black?  Couldn't turn that one away, not only is it gorgeous, it's so rare!  Even better, it's a men's 2XL, so I have plenty of it to play with.

Not shown are the pair of khaki shorts I found for myself, seeing as how I only had one functioning pair of shorts to my name, I was happy to find them; and two more stuffed animals destined to be presents for my brother's growing brood of children.  They were too cute to pass up!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Doomed... be frogged.  At least partially.

It occurred to me as soon as I noticed the problems with this piece, that the last thing I had to frog and reknit--Wisteria--was nearly the same shade of blue.  Perhaps it's a sign.

Anyway.  Here is the new design which I have mentioned on and off--this one was always intended to be self-published, so it doesn't need to be a secret.

That certainly didn't prevent it from being a failure!

Perhaps you're looking at it thinking "But that's pretty!"  (At least, I hope so.)  It is.  There are a lot of things about it that make me quite happy:  I like the overall proportion of center to border, I like the wave in the line of yo's where the border starts, I like the way the two pattern stitches work together.

What I do not, not, not like is how the border blocked waaaaaaaaaay tighter than the center and still looks too small.  I can't get a straight line along the top edge without creating a dimple at the bottom of the center triangle.  I can't get the feathers in the feather-and-fan to be fully straight and parallel to each other.  Blocking does not solve everything!

The solution, fortunately, as far as I can tell, is rather simple.  I just need to rip out the border and knit it again on larger needles than I used for the center.  It doesn't alter my stitch counts, leaving my hard-fought battle with the math for this design in the past.  It will use a bit more yarn, being at a bigger gauge, but I barely used any of the last ball before binding off, so I'm confident that I'll have enough.

But the border is ten inches deep!  Commence the wailing and gnashing of teeth.  I just can't face it yet.

I spent all morning finishing the third clue for the Vernal Equinox KAL--that project, at least, is on track--and then spent most of the rest of the day finishing this.  I'm heartbroken.  I'd already frogged a partial border once to switch stitch patterns, since my first choice was awkward to work and wasn't turning out the way I wanted.  That, of course, is the culprit here--I didn't swatch the feather and fan variant I made up to replace it, so I didn't know it would pull in so much compared to the center pattern

 No more knitting today.  Maybe even tomorrow.  I think it's high time I indulged in some video games!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A New Plan

Spinning has defeated me for the moment, I admit.

Thrifting, however, is making a comeback.

My Vernal Equinox Shawl is being knit from yarn I recycled from one of my own sweaters, one that I loved dearly and wore often until I stained it too badly to be saved.  Poof!  Now it's yarn.

It occurred to me after getting all that yarn processed that there's a Goodwill about two hundred feet from my bank....

Wednesday when I took my check in, I came home with this:

Women's XL, 100% Merino.  The tag said $2.99, and I was perfectly happy with that, but then at the register it turned out that it was a green tag sale day, and I had not noticed the plastic bit of the tag was green, so it was really only 99 cents.  Score!

Last night, feeling the sting of spinning rejection, I decided my new ten minutes a day plan would be to turn this sweater into yarn.  (I did the purple sweater for the shawl in a long evening, and my arm was wearing out from turning the swift!)

Here's my progress so far.  Considerably more than ten minutes a day so far--it took me a little over half anhour last night to get all the seams apart and cut the neckline off of the front--sadly, the V-neck was cut, not knitted in.  But I'm saving those scraps as dye testing pieces, as this orange is really not my color.  I'm thinking deep chocolate brown....

And then I probably spent another hour unravelling as we were watching TV.  Today I did ten minutes before breakfast and then maybe another twenty watching more TV (I'm catching up on FlashForward!).  The plan is at least ten a day, not only ten a day!

One more thing--while I was checking content labels and inspecting seams, my husband went and found something else entirely.

Isn't he just adorable?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Spinning: A Rant

So, I showed off my spinning a while back.  I've been trying to do the whole ten minutes a day plan in order to both spin consistently and consistently spin.  If that makes any sense!

This morning I watched a few videos on Andean plying, which seemed a far better method for my fine singles than plying from a center-pull ball, which was disastrous the time I tried it, all tangles and fuming and swearing.  It went well.  Tricky at first, but by the end, I think I was okay with the method.

Then I really looked at the yarn.

I don't like two-ply yarns!

It's not that I think mine is bad-looking.  It's not.  On a rational level I understand that.  A little uneven here and there, some places that despite plying are still a bit overspun.  I just don't like it.  I've sometimes looked at other people's handspuns and thought...sure, it's pretty, but it's two-ply. 

I like singles.  I like multiple plies.  I'm really not sure what I don't like about two-ply, but I just...don't.

On top of that, it gets worse.  The yarn I plied this morning that I should be so proud of?  Twenty yards.  Yep.  A bobbin that took me longer than I'd like to admit to spin got me twenty yards of yarn.  That I don't like.  Multiple-ply yarns seem to me like two (or three or four or five) times the work!

Clearly, trying to be a process-type spinner when I'm so obviously a product-type knitter is a terrible plan.  Clearly, I need a wheel.

Except that I've never used a wheel, I know nothing about wheels, wheels are expensive and you have to maintain them and know how they work and I don't know how they work!  (Yes, I know, find a spinning guild and learn.  I don't have a car and live in an area with no public transit.  It's just not going to happen right now.)

Either that, or I just keep slowly spinning my singles and (gasp!) not plying them.  Every beginner spinning resource I've researched puts the kibosh on knitting with singles.  I understand why, to a certain extent.  Singles aren't balanced.  Singles will distort your knitting.  Singles will twist and sag and bunch if you look at them funny.  Singles will blight your crops and murder your firstborn.  (Well, no one actually comes out and says that last part....)

So I'm not supposed to knit my singles.  Too bad I like them better and can get twice the yardage!

But other spinners have knit their singles and the sky hasn't fallen....what am I missing?

After measuring my meager little skein, I am very tempted to box up all my spinning gear and forget about it for another few years.

I think I'm going to spend the afternoon on my newest design project, which, unlike my spinning, is going very well.  That will show my spinning who's boss!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What Timing!

I wasn't around for it while it was a mystery knitalong the first time, but I have joined up with a mini-KAL for the Vernal Equinox Shawl, which, of course, started three days ago on the Vernal Equinox!

We're doing one clue a week, at least at the start.  I was hesitant to throw in with this because, though I love the shawl and want to knit it, I didn't think I had the right yarn for it, until I saw the (very) small stash of sweaters I've been meaning to recycle.  And voila!  I spent Sunday morning unraveling, skeining, and washing.  By the time I was home from work yesterday, everything was dry, and I wound one of the skeins and whizzed my way through the first clue.

Oh, hey, look, it's purple!  But a different purple!  A warm, rich mulberry.  It's also still a little kinky despite the washing and weighting, but I'm sure that will block out, right?  Right.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Surprise! It's an FO!

One that I somehow never got around to blogging about while it was still a WIP.  I'll do that, if you don't watch me.

Pattern: Windsbraut - Sommerwind [Ravelry link]
Yarn: Elann Peruvian Baby Cashmere in Mulled Grape
Yardage: ~600
Needles: US 5
Size: 68" wide x 34" deep
Would I knit this again? Yes and no.  I adore the border pattern, which is why I chose this shawl in the first place.  I like the center lace pattern well enough, but if anything, I'd do some sort of hybrid shawl with this border grafted onto the start of a different shawl.

Readers who've been with me since the beginning may recognize this yarn...I'm almost out of it, I swear!  I just started my final ball in the last few rows of this piece.  I have plans for the remainder that involve a scrap-happy project currently in development.  I'm toying with the idea of over-dyeing the shawl in deep blue or black, just because I have these two already and I do happen to like colors other than purple.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

We're Going to the Zoo, Zoo, Zoo about you, you, you?

I'm sad that I didn't get better pictures of the red pandas--one of my favorite animals, and one that I haven't seen in a zoo before!--but my friend says once she gets home she's sending me copies of all her pictures, so there will likely be a second zoo post in my future.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Back in Blue

There's been lots of things going on chez Avrienne in the past two weeks.  Remember those guests I mentioned?  They were here from the Tuesday I last posted, until this pastThursday.  The days leading up to their visit were consumed by a flurry of cleaning.  Then when they got here, it was cooking, eating, drinking lots of wine and cider and beer, and the playing of many, many board games.

Also, there was a day trip to Frankenmuth, during which I totally neglected to get pictures, and then later a trip to the Detroit Zoo, where I got many.  But that's another post all on its own.

Today, in the first of many updates on what interesting things I've been up to, I'm happy to present a craft I've long neglected....spinning.

I learned to spin on a drop spindle in college, from the same lovely woman who taught the weaving class at the college craft center, and who shortly thereafter went on to open a local yarn shop!  Ah, memories.  Ahem.

We used these immense spindles her husband had made for us, and I wasn't very good at it, and I didn't stick with it.  But then several years ago, I really started to notice all the lovely handspun yarn floating about the blogoverse, and I picked up this little spindle, traded on the Knittyboards for some fiber, and off I went.

That spinning phase lasted, oh, a few weeks.  Maybe a month at best, I don't recall precisely.

I don't know exactly what caused me to pick up the spindle again three weeks ago.  I didn't see any particularly noteworthy spinning being done, I didn't get enabled by anyone, I didn't fall down and hit my head and say "Spinning!  That's what I need to do now!"  I just...wanted to spin.

Having traded for it so long ago, I have no idea the exact fiber I'm spinning here.  I picked a braid of roving out of the stash because I liked the color, but I'm pretty sure it's wool (most of it is, aside from one bunch I'm sure is alpaca and another I suspect might be) and it's soft enough that I'm willing to bet it's merino.

I'm trying to spin the singles fine enough that it will be a laceweight yarn when I ply it, or at least a light fingering, because I have ambitious visions that it might someday be an Echo Flower Shawl [Ravelry link].  But I have no idea how much yardage I'm going to end up with, so it's certainly not set in stone.  Right now I'd just be thrilled to stick with it long enough to get through the whole thing!

I am trying to subscribe to the Ten Minutes A Day theory on handspinning, and doing fairly well so far, though there were many days while my guests were here that I simply didn't have time, which I think can be forgiven.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

My Inner Child is Goth

Or so it seems.

Pattern: Citron
Yarn: Elann Peruvian Baby Lace Merino in Merlot, overdyed with black
Yardage: ~410
Needles: US 6
Size: 42" wide x 20" deep
Would I knit this again?  Surprising myself, I'm going to say yes.  When I first saw this issue of Knitty, I was far more taken with Bitterroot, which I still intend to knit.  I wasn't going to knit a Citron at all!  But I kept seeing beautiful Citrons on Ravelry using various color-changing yarns, and I really liked them.  When I realized I had nearly enough Baby Lace left, I dyed it and off I went.  It was an enjoyable knit, and while I don't feel the need to have another myself, I could see it being gift knitting in the future.

Modifications:  I didn't have enough yarn for the full pattern, I always knew I'd come up a little short.  So for the ruffle at the edge, I ended up with five rows beyond the increase row instead of eleven.  I rather like the shorter, flirty ruffle.

Also, I've never worked with the original yarn called for (Malabrigo Lace) but it seems to be a thicker laceweight than I used, because my Citron is incredibly airy, and I managed, unintentionally, to block all the ripple out of the ruche!  I don't mind, though.  It was my least favorite aspect of the pattern...I did this one for the shape and the color.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

My Kinship with Long-Tailed Cats

It's been a long time since I was so nervous to hit "send" on an email.

But after a morning of writing, editing, charting, shooting detail photos, more editing, more shooting, and a lot of double- and triple-checking....the oft-mentioned, never-seen pattern is speeding through the ether to Knitty.

Am I supposed to be wished luck or a broken leg for pattern submissions?  Is there a standard for that yet?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

An Excuse To Play With Beads

Like many crafters, I have a bead box.  It started accumulating back in fifth grade when I saw other girls wearing daisy chains, and I had to have one.  Seed beads are the gateway drug of beading.

I still love my seed beads, though the stuff I made then certainly looks unsophisticated now, but eventually I learned some rudimentary wirework.  I'm still a better hand at bead weaving on or off-loom, and beaded embroidery, but I managed to dust off my skills enough for this:


Hmmm, what might that piece of knitting be?  Maybe....a Citron?

I started it last week (with that laceweight I dyed and never got around to showing off before starting a project with it!) and in the early stages I had no trouble keeping count of the rows, since they were so short.  Now, at row 16 of section 4, if I get into a groove I can easily just keep knitting and forget to count.  I can read knitting pretty well, so if I lose track I can figure it out, but it's irritating, and I wanted a better way.

First I considered the ever popular row counter bracelet, but for me, these have several drawbacks.  One is that I'm simply not a bracelet person.  I have tiny hands with correspondingly tiny wrists, so when commercial bracelets rarely fit, I just got in the habit of not wearing them.  Earrings, on the other hand....

Ahem.  Moving on before I hop over to Etsy to drool over earrings.  I can do that for hours if someone doesn't stop me.

The next problem with bracelets was that I feel I'm just as likely to forget to move a bead over on the abacus as I am to lose track of a mental count.  I know me fairly well at this point, I think.

The third and final problem is that I simply didn't have the appropriate supplies to make a decent bracelet.  Beads, yes; anything appropriate to make the form of the bracelet itself, the clasps, the materials for the  That's just not the kind of stuff I was making last time the bead box came out of hiding.

In my perusals of potential bracelet purchases, I ran across the chain style of counter, which I had not really seen before, and off I went.

An hour later, I had an exceptionally crappy chain counter.  I don't know why it didn't occur to me the first time that I would need to hide the wire ends so that they didn't snag on the knitting.  But the first time, I definitely didn't do that.

An hour and a half after that, I had two much better chains with hidden wire ends.  It didn't actually take me that long to make them, some of that time was choosing the beads from my collection.  I was hampered by the fact that I only had goldtone wire of the right weight, but a lot of the beads I liked would look better with silver.  So I'm definitely getting some silver! 

A closeup for structure:

The dangly charm marks the bottom end.  I saw chains with numbered beads, but I don't really like those (and thus don't have any) so I chose eight beads of one type and two of another coordinating type to be the fifth and tenth beads.  So here, as I said, I'm on row 16 of the 20-row section; I have to remember the first ten (the only deficiency a chain counter has compared to a bracelet, which can go up to 100) and my needle is in the sixth link.  When I get to the chain on my next row, I will stick the needle in the seventh link instead and voila! it counts the rows for me.

Hmm, I wonder if I have any goldtone french wires to make matching earrings....

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Worth the Wait

Two new finished objects are making an appearance knit by me, and one not!

First, my swap scarf arrived safe, sound, and absolutely gorgeous.


I cannot begin to say how much I love this scarf.  Participating in a swap always carries its risks...will your partner flake out? Will she send you something hideous?  Not this time.  I love the colors, I am such a sucker for deep, rich jewel tones, and the yarn is rayon, so it just seems to glow under the right light.  I love the leaf pattern, I love the tapered ends!


And though I don't have too many scarves of the long-and-skinny variety, this one is the perfect length to wrap once around my head like a headband before wrapping around my neck.  I nearly always have my hair up, so I could get used to that!

A huge round of applause for the scarf's wonderfully thoughtful knitter, Gypsysoul!  And from me, many, many thanks, I will wear this scarf with a warm neck and a warm heart.

On to my own long last....Wisteria!

Pattern: Wisteria, by Kate Gilbert
Yarn: Elann Limited Edition Kashair, in Blue Cascade
Yardage: ~1100
Needles: US 6
Size: 37.5"
Would I knit this again?  Well, since I had to knit the body twice, I feel like I already have!  But setting that aside, the pattern is extremely well-written and clear, the charts are excellent, and despite the complicated cables, this seemed like a quick knit.  If I hadn't had to frog, and if I hadn't also set it aside multiple times to get other things done, I'm sure I could have turned this out in less than two weeks instead of two months.  The second sleeve only took me four hours or so!
Bonus question...would I use this yarn again?  Oh, my, yes.  This is a 38" women's sweater at a worsted (almost aran!) gauge.  It weighs a mere 300g.  Yes, you read that right.  It took just shy of six balls of yarn at 50g each.  This thing could practically fly away, it's so light.  Did the yarn look a little weird and matted in the ball?  Well, yes.  But it blooms nicely, and the texture makes the stockinette sections of the sweater visually interesting.  Can't beat the price, too, the actual cost of this for me was $21 plus the shipping.  (I bought two extra balls because I was originally making a larger size, but hey, bonus, I have enough left over for a nice shawlette or something!)  If there's ever a bag sale of this stuff, I'm all over that.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Triumphant Return of Wisteria

Somewhere in the midst of the all the American Olympians falling down on Wednesday night (so sad about Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso! Though it was sort of fun to watch all the speed skaters wiping out...) I bound off the bottom of Wisteria again, and immediately threw it on.

The smaller size fits!  Well enough anyway, somehow it's still a little loose.  This math is going to haunt me too, I guess, because my gauge is right, my stitch counts are right, and I'm pretty sure I haven't randomly lost an inch and a half on my bust measurement lately.  But whatever, I'll take it.

I'm about halfway done with the first sleeve right now, and I have a tape of last night's Olympic coverage waiting to be watched.  Oh, how I adore figure skating!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

This Week in WIPs

Now that the knitting is done for my secret project of doom, I'm finally free to work on other things again!  Or, work on them with a clear conscience, since I was occasionally working on them anyway.

First, my progress on the new and improved (by which I mean, smaller) Wisteria.


I know, I know, it looks the same.  It won't when I put it on, or so I hope!  I'm just about to start the bottom cable chart, I hammered out the whole waist shaping section while watching a huge block of The Big Bang Theory episodes with my husband yesterday afternoon.


A few weeks ago when I couldn't bear not having cast on something with this wonderful yarn, I started a Garden of Alla shawl (Ravelry link).  This is a long-term, in-between-other-projects project.  I should have included something for scale...those are size 0's.  The yarn is so incredibly fine, that still feels loose to me.  And see that orange thing?  That's a lifeline marking the end of the first chart.  Never let it be said that I cannot learn.



In the "I can't believe it took me this long to get around to this" department, here I have a wrap from VK Fall 2005.  I bought the issue specifically for this pattern, and somehow, just never got around to it!  I have friends coming to visit next month, and we're going to be doing a bit of traipsing around Michigan, so I need some car knitting, and this seemed to fit the bill.

This is the Moda Dea Washable Wool I picked up super cheap last month, and what do you know, it's enough, with a hundred or so yards to spare.  I didn't try to get gauge before I started, but it's only two inches wider than the original...close enough for a wrap, no?  Normally that would mean I'd run out of yarn, but I'm not worried.
I'm compensating by altering the construction.  The pattern calls for the body to be knit first and then the borders knit out from either end, but that's a bit silly.  Why would I want two cast off edges in the body of my shawl?  So I knit the first border from a provisional cast on, then started the body on those stitches.  This has the advantage of telling me how much yarn to save for the other border--I have used one full ball of yarn plus a few yards of the next for the border plus one repeat of the body lace pattern.  Thus, when I start my last ball of yarn, I know that I need to finish the lace repeat I'm on, not start a new one, and work the border.  Voila! I won't run out before the border is done.

Finally, that dyeing project I mentioned.  I had yarn leftover from the secret project, enough for a shawlette or large scarf, and I was overcome by the notion of dyeing it Kauni-style (or Effektgarn, if that's your poison of choice) and having it shade from the original deep red all the way down to black.

I divided the remainder into four skeins (still connected, a feat of mastery with my swift that I'm a little proud of) and dyeing three of them over with black.  I'm trying a simple time-based gradiation method, but I think by the time I dropped the third and final skein in, I had left the other two too long and exhausted most of the dye.  We'll see how it turns out.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Sigh of Relief

Possibly premature,'s done.

I'm just on break from work, so it will get washed and blocked this evening when I get home.

And then I can work on other things again!  Wisteria! A new shawl! A new cowl design! A new dye project I have in mind!

Of course things could still go wrong.  I'm concerned about the total length, as I anticipate much growing in the wash, but I can't be too worried, because I'm so happy it's done!

Monday, February 15, 2010


Why is it that when I have a deadline approaching, and I should be at my most focused, that life gets in the way?

Today, I only spent twenty minutes on the project which should be consuming all of my knitting attention.  I spent a good chunk of the afternoon consumed by the need to crochet a certain little something inspired by a certain little something else I saw when browsing Ravelry.  It's an absolute cesspool of brilliance and creativity, and I seem to be in danger of drowning in it.  Woe is me.

Oh, and it's Valentine's Day.  I made a nice dinner and some incredibly sinful dark chocolate mousse, and I'm a little tipsy from half a bottle of pomegranate wine.  Romantic evenings at home are so nice....

No, that's not sarcasm.  We've had a great day.  But it did cut into my knitting time!

And tomorrow...well, I don't talk about work at all here, and there's a reason.  So all I will say is this: Full Operational Review.  Not looking forward to it.

Friday, February 12, 2010

A Show of Dominance

It's fixed.  I had to have a little pillow-punching time first, but I sat down with it again and fixed it, for real.  In the end I only lost about six rows of work.

Then I banished it to a corner for two days.  Yesterday I asserted myself to my knitting in general by frogging back Wisteria.  I love that sweater, and I don't want it to be one that I don't wear because it doesn't fit.  Fortunately, due to its construction, I lost all of the body but only about an inch of the yoke--the size I knit and the size I want only had one increase row difference before the end of the first chart, then a few more plain increase rows after it.  Today I've just divided the sleeves from the body again.

Tomorrow I pick up the secret project again, and this time, it's war.  I am going to get this done on time.  It's going to be beautiful.  Or else.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Pride Comes Before A Fall

What kind of knitter am I?  Apparently, an arrogant one.

Over three feet of lace is flowing easily from my needles with nary a mistake in sight.  Do I put a lifeline in anywhere?  No! I don't make mistakes!

Until I do.

It was a relatively minor gaffe, but I'm submitting this for publication! Mistakes cannot be tolerated!  So I carefully drop the stitches in the affected area and start reworking them correctly.

Except that I didn't rework them correctly.

When I got to that place on the next row, after I believed I had corrected the problem...I hadn't.  I managed to make it worse.

There are no lifelines anywhere on this piece.  I know I should rip back to the last row I'm sure I have right....but I can't stand, right now, the thought of tinking eight rows of lace, and if I take it off the needles to frog without a lifeline, I may never get it back on without creating even more problems.

When I came to this horrid realization, I started to hyperventilate.  It's been half an hour now, and I still feel a bit queasy.  The throbbing headache I already had definitely didn't help.

Today, I make this solemn vow:  I will use lifelines.  I am not above using lifelines.  I will embrace the lifeline.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Math, It Haunts Me

I'm pleased so far with my mystery knitting project, but I'm worried about the time I have left.

The Knitty submission deadline is March 15.  I have overseas friends coming to stay with me for close to two weeks starting on March 9th.

I want this done and in the (e)mail by the end of February.  That may not be realistic, but it does give me a week of breathing room to do things like, oh, say, clean the apartment in preparation for having guests!

So I weighed my yarn earlier tonight.  I have knit 35g of 100g potential.  I may decide not to use all the yarn, but the original plan is to eat it all up.

This 35g has gotten me through 19 full pattern repeats.

35/19 = 100/x.  Yay! Algebra!

Solving for x, I come up with 54 (rounding down).  54-19 = 35 repeats to go.

Assuming I can manage 3 repeats a day, that sets me at twelve days of knitting to go, starting tomorrow.  Sounds perfect, right?  I'll finish the project on the 20th and have a week to write up the pattern and get photos done.

Well, I did some more math, which I won't belabor, but the number of stitches in a pattern repeat?  Oh, a measly 1556.

1556 x 3 = 4668 stitches a day.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Nooks and Crannies

Today started out with some errands with my mom.  Among other things which were standard, routine, and thus, boring, we hit the post office so I could fling that little scarf I was so excited about into the mail for my partner, and I also managed to score a slushie.

Yes, I drink slushies in the winter.  I am from a land of cold, dark, and snow.  If I let the weather stop me from having my favorite cold treat, I would be a monumental wuss in the eyes of my peers and neighbors.  Bring on the brainfreeze!

Anyway, I mention these things, these mundane little things, because they lead up to something big.  My parents, gotta love 'em, are very big on anniversary presents.  My husband and I have come to view this as a wonderful opportunity to acquire practical-but-nice things that we want for ourselves.  His choice this year was a tea kettle.  This sounds strange to some, I'm sure, but our electric water kettle was in poor shape and not all that great to begin with, and if there's one thing my husband loves that's not me, it's his tea.

My parents readily agreed to this plan--my father, especially, loves to give gifts that aren't necessarily surprises but things that are greatly desired and eminently useful--and so off we went and found ourselves a tea kettle.  On sale!

And so, my father says, well, that was about half of what we had budgeted for this, is there anything else you want?

Such a dangerous question.  He should know better by now.

And I said, "Yarn storage."

His reply was a slightly bewildered look.

I said, "Mom and I will go shopping.  Don't worry."

As of this morning, I am the proud and happy owner of a cheap fiberboard cubicle-style shelving unit.  Sounds lame when I put it that way, no?  But it looks so nice when it's full of yarn....


Let's take a little tour.  The plastic drawer unit is my old yarn storage, which used to be tucked into our coat closet.  It's still got some yarn in there because I haven't finished organizing.  I haven't decided yet whether I'm going to keep it or not..the top is bending down from having too much weight on it in the past.  On top of it (for now) are the empty cereal boxes that I intend to turn into magazine holders, and the blue flowered thing is my sewing box.  Then we have the lovely new yarn cubbies!  Again, not full because I haven't finished organizing.  And I already know it won't hold all my stash--there are bags of stuff I cleared away for the photo, I won't lie, but you don't need to see them!--but it's still such an improvement.  On top of that I have my vase of straight needles, a small drawer box filled with crochet hooks, yarn needles, dpns, and stitch markers.  Next to that is my tape measure and my mp3 player, plus some yarn that couldn't fit into a cubby inside its bags.  The blue thing on the floor is my swift, which I just put back into its holder tonight for the first time in years--I kid you not!--and then there's my now-designated knitting chair, complete with my current (secret) project bag.

I have never, ever had knitting-designated anything.  It's thrilling.  I have a knitting nook!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Spring is Here, Oh, Spring is Here!

...Life is skittles and life is beer! --Tom Lehrer, "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park"


This is what I've been hiding all week--I'm calling it "A Hint of Spring".  I haven't sent it off to my swapee yet, but I've warned her away from anywhere she might see it.

And what did I spend all day doing today, to the point where I nearly didn't have time to make dinner before I had to be somewhere?

Writing up the pattern!  It's for sale! I've already sold one tonight!


Well, I was before, too, but this one has me shouting from the rooftops, blogophorically speaking.

This isn't a stitch pattern I pulled from a dictionary and called a new pattern.  I charted this one from the ground up.

This is the first time I've made a chart in a spreadsheet with a knitting font.  This is the first time I've written out directions from a chart--and boy, did I go cross-eyed proofreading that.  This is the first time I've really been pleased with a picture of me modeling one of my own designs!  (Give a hand to my husband on that one, I made him throw on his coat over his pajamas and come out on the balcony in the bitter, bitter cold to get the shots!)

And this is my first pattern for sale through Ravelry, which is very exciting to me.  I had a pattern for sale once through Chiagu, but it was a poncho, and it sold very, very poorly, mostly due to being published at the tail end of the poncho craze.  Notice how it's not on the site anymore, nor on my patterns list over there?  There's a reason.  Though I may very well tinker a bit on it to make it a stole and offer it for free.  Just because it was a poncho once doesn't mean the lace pattern can't be saved!

Anyway.  Dancing for joy. Squealing with glee.  You get the idea.

And now there's just the one secret knitting project on the needles!

If you need a little encouragement, well, there's a little button right here to tempt you.