Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Home Again

Well, back from Texas mostly in one piece. I'm about a third of the way done with the shawl - well, it will be a third once I finish this ball of yarn. So, ok, more like a quarter. It's a little panic-inducing with how crazy it's gotten at work, but I will definitely be able to finish it, if not anything else, for Christmas.

The lace wristlets are almost done. I need to finish them tonight since I think my husband will be seeing the person they're for tomorrow. And it would be nice to get them out of the way.

And I really want to finish my hat. But who has time for that?

The diamond lace is pretty easy. It's taken me up to this repeat to really *get* it, but I think I do now. I only have to glance at the pattern, and I think one or two more repeats and I won't even need that. There's one spot where I messed up the center of a diamond pretty badly, but I think once it's blocked, you won't be able to tell. (I guess not that badly, then. But it irks me, since I worked really really hard to fix it, and you can still tell where it is.)

So, here is my Christmas gift to you, Internet - a quick, handknit present for the random giftees in your life. Get one of those cardboard coffee cup insulator thingies from your local coffee shop. Knit a tube about that size - you can make it a little bigger than the narrow end and not bother with shaping. Enclose a gift card from said coffee shop. Hey, it's what all the people I can't think what to get are getting this year - quick, easy, uses up scrap yarn, and slightly more thoughtful than "just" a gift card. (What, some people don't drink coffee? Um, ok, you can make a bookmark to give with a book gift card? A cellphone cozy with a prepaid minutes card? Oh, the possibilities, they make my head swim.)

And that reminds me, I promised my husband I would knit him a camera cozy for our spiffy new digital camera (early Christmas present from the in-laws, whoohoo!) I wonder what color it would like?

Friday, November 18, 2005

Casting on

Houston, we have cast-on! (Sorry, got carried away there.)

Anyway. I went last night to get some bamboo needles, since everyone said either those or the Denise interchangables were what I wanted for lace, and as much as I want the Denise, I didn't have $50 to drop for this particular project. Plus I'm hoping I get them for Christmas. Anyway - I was shocked - SHOCKED, I tell you - to find that my LYS only carried one brand of bamboo circulars in a US 7. So I got the Clovers. And I ordered Stahman's Shawls and Scarves which I probably shouldn't have, but, well, too late now.

But back to the needles - I am way spoiled by the Addi Turbos. Swatching with the bamboo was really, really weird. I'm not crazy about the chopsticky feel of them, although I have gotten used to how light they are. Something about the ridges bugs me. I'm sure I'll get over it. I'm not sure about the points, though - it's like knitting with nubbins. I never thought Addis were particularly pointy, but these - these are crazy dull. I'm hoping I didn't make a mistake here. Need points! (I wonder if they have Hobby Lobby in Austin? Perhaps I could take a trip with my mother-in-law. I should check if they carry Crystal Palace first, I guess.)

And I wish I'd get over that "longer is better" thing. (No snickering, please.) I'm dealing with an annoying, tangly 36" cord, and I would have been JUST FINE had I gotten the 24". What is wrong with me? I'm going to try dunking the cord in hot water, see if that helps.

I thought about modifying the pattern to use seed-stitch borders instead of garter. I'm glad I swatched. The seed stitch in this yarn at this gauge looks awful. And the garter is super soft and cushy. So. Garter it is, then. I'm halfway through the first border - only 68" to go!

Have I mentioned how much I love this yarn? All right, it's kind of mushy (ok, very mushy), and I tend to like a crispier yarn, but, oooooh. It's like knitting a kitten. Or a pussywillow. Or knitting a kitten made out of pussywillows. Something wonderfully tactile, at any rate. It's got a sort of mohairy halo to it, but isn't at all scratchy. Alpaca is my new best friend.

And thumbs up to KnitPicks customer service too. I don't know why they didn't just put the tracking info on my "we shipped it!" confirmation, but they were very nice about it when I called for the info. Order came on time, in good condition, everything present and accounted for. (UPS is absolutely convinced that my house is somewhere it really isn't, so they always "correct" it and I have to track it down and get them to put it back the way it was. So it's good to know when to call them and make a fuss.)

So hopefully I'll finish one lace repeat tonight, and then... tomorrow, the PLANE!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Yarn, Yay!

Today I got my nine balls of this:

The color is actually pretty close, I think - it's maybe just a touch darker in the picture than in person.

Anyway. It's KnitPicks Andean Treasure 100% alpaca and it is so soft. I just want to pet it and pet it and pet it. And I can tell it's going to be warm. I have a good feeling about this.

(Why nine balls and not ten? I'm not going to do the fringe, that's why.)

I finished charting the pattern out. As soon as I stop being lazy, I'm going to contact the designer and ask if it's ok to post the chart. Or I'll send it to her and she can post it, whatever. But charted, it looks much less indimidating than written out. How did I survive so long without charts?

(By they way, if you want to make your own charts, this font is a handy thing to have.)

But. I MUST finish the gloves before I start this. I don't need to sleep, do I?

(Also, I'm doing NaNoWriMo this month, which really cuts into the knitting time. But I found out - although I still have to verify it - that is going to provide a free book to anyone who wins, so now I have even more motivation to finish. Whoo!)

Monday, November 14, 2005

Point of No Return

Well, I did it. I CHOSE A PATTERN and BOUGHT SOME YARN. See? See why stashing is so very useless? Anyway. The pattern is this one (PDF) (from the Woman of Many Faces - she has other neat patterns, go look) and I'm going to be using KnitPicks Andean Treasure in Peach. I am very glad I took the KnitList advice and shelled out for the color cards, for two reasons - one, I never would have chosen Peach because I have an irrational prejudice against that color name but seeing it on the card, I had to admit it's the exact color I needed, and two, I discovered that the Alpaca Cloud "Tidepool", which is just ok on the screen, is absolutely georgous in person. I covet it. Not that I'm a shawl wearer, so, you know, nevermind. I'll just have to be content keeping it at KnitPicks and petting my sample card now and then.
I finished the purse for Jo - and I FORGOT TO TAKE A PICTURE! Argh. It came out really cute. Ed dubbed him "Percy" and I think the name has stuck. My mom did the lining for me, because my sewing skills are nonexistant. Still, I figured out how to attach the eyes, so I think I should get some credit for that. And the whole thing cost me $5. (Free ball of Bernat Disco, $2.50 purse handle, $2 remnant lining, $.33 eyes, felt and dowel "borrowed" from mom.) Anyway, I'll see if she'll send me a picture.
Started the second glove, about halfway done with the ribbing. I may wind up making three. We'll see. (Because I'm not 100% happy with the first one, and now I know what I want to change...) At the same time - I want to finish the shawl for Christmas. So the gloves, I think, will have to do. They do look good, but, you know, I can't leave well enough alone. May wind up making another "improved" pair for the cousin I drew in the family secret santa thing, I think she'd like them, but I know she's lost a ton of weight so have no idea what size they should be. Hm...
And I needed some sleepy/car knitting, so I cast on Tychus in the recycled silk. I didn't bother swatching, because I suck. No, wait, because I was pretty sure I had the gauge figured out from my previous experiments with the yarn. Anyway, I like it so far - almost 1/2 done. And it's going to be too big, but that's ok, I think - since I'm doing it in "one" color (well, so many colors they count as one, right?) it'll look equally good with the brim turned way up, and it should be very warm. And I think it'll take two balls, if anyone else wants to try. Then I'm going to make matching wristwarmers. You know, in my ample spare time. Ha!
I'm still in two minds about the silk - it's *so pretty* in the sunlight, or under a magnifying glass - but actual things made of it, meh. So I'm making my hat and will probably wear it, but it looks more like a raggy hippy-chic thing than an elegant silk hat. I'm working on "if it makes me happy (which it does) then I'll damned well wear it", but sometimes I lack the confidence to pull that sort of thing off.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

My Stash

Hello, my name is Katie and I am a fiberholic. (Hello, Katie.) I have come to the realization that fiber craft and fiber acquisition are two completely unrelated hobbies, and that I can support one or the other, but not both.

What's in my stash? A lot of junk, honestly. I have about a dozen skeins of acrylic inherited from my mother, now passed on to my husband who believes that if you learn on crappy tools, you become a better craftsman. (I disagree, but hey, it got the acrylic off my tally sheet, so I don't disagree too loudly.) I have the odds and ends from completed projects, waiting for me to find that website on moth-hole repair. I have some tangled masses that used to be sweaters but were reclaimed before I had the use of a ball winder or the brains to realize that it made more sense to frog the sweaters as I needed them, not all at once. Which means I also have a stack of sweaters that count as stash, but at least are stored nicely. I have a few skeins of this and that, pretty fuzzy stuff that I bought before I insisted on project-oriented purchases. (And before "Knitting Without Tears" ruined me for anything that isn't wool.) And then I have the skeins of nice stuff which should be projects, but were abandoned for one reason or another, usually involving a short attention span. Oh, and don't forget the enormous piles of "bargains", including the kilo of recycled silk accidentally bought off eBay. Nice stuff, but when am I going to get to use it?

So, I have stash that clutters and complicates my life. (Where should I put it? Where did I put it? How can I protect it?) And I have knitting, which clears my mind and inspires positive thoughts and actions. I know what I need to do, and yet those soft balls of fluff ceaselessly sing their siren call, bypassing my will and heading directly for my inner greed and basest desires.

To remedy this, a new worldview: I Own All The Yarn. I just keep it at the yarn shop, because my house isn't that big. And when I really, really NEED (as opposed to really, really WANT) some yarn, then I can go to the yarn shop (local or otherwise, for I have many locations in which to store my stash) and pay the nice people there to get it out of storage for me. There is no reason to take it away from its friends and family prematurely; the yarn can enjoy its time at the shop and I will trust it to be there when I need it. Will it work? Only time can tell.

(This entry was written for and submitted to The Carnival Of Knitting.)

Bad Cat!

You know how all knitting blogs eventually talk about their cat? Well, here you go.

Last night I had almost finished the first glove. There was a small child emergency, so we had to go upstairs and take a bath with one edging lace repeat left to go. Child put to bed, I come back downstairs to find... a ball of wool, no knitting attached.


Then I go into the kitchen, where I find... a size 0 circular needle, no knitting attached. Now I'm really worried.

Finally, I go down into the basement, where I find half a glove and a long tangle of yarn.


We were very close to having one less cat. The only thing that saved their furry little lives is that I don't know which one did it, and two of the three were acting totally squirrily. Probably one bit off the wool and the other dragged it around the house. Bad, bad cats.

Um, I mean, yay! I get to knit more without having to pay more for wool! Yippee!

(Well, I thought it was worth a try.)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Well, I haven't given up on designing the gloves. Let's call it a "strategic retreat". If I spent any more time on them, I wouldn't be able to finish any other Christmas knitting. Luckily in the 2006 pattern-a-day calendar, there's a pattern for "lace wristers" that work nicely. I just did more lace repeats and a provisional cast on so I could do a picot bind off at the wrist. Although I seem to recall that it's possible to do a picot cast-on, but, hey, one thing at a time.

I'm glad I went with the pattern. It's taught me some important things about lace. The biggest, most important one of all...

I learned to read charts!


I can't believe how much easier it is than reading written patterns. I don't understand why. But I didn't make any mistakes after I started working from the charts, AND I got way faster. (I was finishing my pattern rows in less time than it took to do the purl rows. Granted, I purl slowly, but still.)

So, I'm really, really happy that I finally got that sorted out, and now I'm ready to try bigger and more complicated projects. It really helped that everything was written and charted - that way, I could go back and forth to double-check that what I thought I was supposed to do was what I was really supposed to do. I guess that's the best way to learn, really - if I had a dollar for every "how to read charts" article I've read, I'd be able to buy a new house to stash my stash in.

Anyway. Yay. Just have to finish the edging and sew up the first glove, then do the second. Should be no problem.

Next up: A lacy stole/shawl/wrap/thing for a friend. I ordered some color cards from Knitpicks, and I really hope they get here in time for me to order the yarn and have it delivered before we leave for Texas. Must have plane knitting!

Monday, November 07, 2005

GRR Gloves!

I've decided these gloves are seriously cursed. It's like I've lost the ability to count to 36. I spent the entire weekend not succeeding in getting anything done on them. On Saturday, I cast on and ripped out - no joke - FOURTEEN successive times. (The first, oh, 8 or so were because I was stupidly casting on a number divisible by 8 instead of 6.) When I did finally get it right - on my third try on Sunday - I found that after switching needle size, I had the wrong number of repeats. So. Here I am on Monday, casting on again...

Plus, did I mention how Baby Ull and I are not pals? Size 1 needles are so not my style, either. At least I haven't sat on them, yet.

I realized an interesting thing the other day - I always knit with circulars, but I couldn't tell you the last time I actually knit the way you're "supposed to" with them. Everything's either straight, double-knit, or magic loop. Mostly economy - I can't afford to buy needles in every length, so I don't. But I seem to recall that just regular knitting in the round is fun and relaxing, so maybe I should start a project that fits the needles I have...

And I'm working on figuring out a shawl/wrap/thing for my friend. I've asked the good folks on KnitTalk for help. I've never done lace before, really. I mean, I made all those afghans whenever it was, but that was just openwork on big needles, I don't think it counts. I like the idea of a shetland shawl, but it may be too advanced for me.

Then again, one thing I've found with crafting in general, and knitting in particular, is that nothing's too hard - you just have to follow the directions very, very carefully. And swatch like a madwoman. Whatever I decide to do with this shawl, I'm going to make a dolly-sized one first with cheap yarn so I know what I'm doing by the time I get to the nice stuff. Plus, it'll give me something to do while I'm waiting, because we all know I just don't have nearly enough projects to keep me busy. Ha!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Ugh ugh UGH!

Baby Ull and I are not friends. How can something be so small and yet so very, very splitty?

I'm sure it's me, but man. This stinks. AND I messed up converting my lace pattern to the round, so these gloves are getting frogged again. I think they're going to be back-burnered for the moment. After knitting that scarf, my eyes are begging for some color. Which is weird - I've always been a neutrals sort of person. But the black lace gloves are driving me to despair. (When I get the pattern right, I'm naming them the "So Goth it Hurts" gloves.)

At any rate, I'm going to frog that sweater and start on Jo's birthday present instead. It turns out I'm seeing her next weekend, not this one, so that should be enough time to a) make something up and b) knit it. Right?

FO! (Cabled Scarf)

Recycled YarnSo, this is the yarn I was talking about. The eight unballed skeins, anyway. I've decided that it just doesn't photograph well. When I was looking for patterns, everything looked really ugly, but when I actually started knitting with it, it was a very "ah-hah!" moment. It really does look beautiful in person.

Cabled Scarf Aaaaaand... The Scarf! All done (well, in this picture I hadn't woven in ends or washed yet, but now those things are done and it's upstairs drying). I'm mostly happy with the way it came out, but apparently I need to learn how to Kitchener right - the seam is visible. The ribbing messed me up. Well, let's be honest, I didn't take the time to figure out what I was doing wrong and fix it. But I think it's unnoticable enough to a non-knitter, so I'm not redoing it.

(The texture doesn't really show up well in the thumbnail, so if you're really curious, click for the bigger version. It's still kind of hard to see, being black and all, but I think the recipient will really like the subtleness of it all.)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Scarf and things

Well, it's just not in the cards for me to join a knitting group, I think. I did get an email from the Del Ray Knitters - their group met last night - and I did go up there. But once I got there, I realized - no, I don't really want to sit around with a bunch of strangers and knit in uncomfortable chairs. So I went home. Unfortunately, to cover for my embarassing retreat, I spent the last three dollars of my gift certificate on the absolute foulest concoction ever dreamt of by man or beast. (They advertise it as "chai", but that seems to be shorthand for "completely unlike chai in any way".) Bleah. I poured it down the drain, it was so bad, and I'm someone who will go to nearly any length to avoid wasting food. But it was that undrinkable.

Shoulda stuck with the coffee.

At any rate, I got very little done. I mean, I'm almost done with the scarf (wish I'd remembered to take a picture, I'm really happy with it.) I should finish it today or tomorrow. And I didn't have time to figure out the pattern for the gloves (although I dreamed about them all last night) so I didn't want to take them, so I gave myself permission to play with the Recycled Silk.

Now, night before last I was having some serious insomnia issues, so I balled up a couple of skeins of the silk. The first was way overtwisted, although only a couple of spots were so thin that I'll probably have to cut them. The second skein was mostly a good tension (or whatever you call it) with a few really loose unspun parts and one perplexing knot (I untied it, and it wasn't two pieces of yarn - just a random, but obviously hand-tied, knot.) The second skein was also very tangled, and took me over half an hour to ball, which was a bummer, but the colors... reds and pinks and purples and gold and really quite beautiful. I didn't notice a lot of foreign matter in either ball - a couple bits of hay and one small piece of plastic, but nothing like some folks have talked about.

So I pulled that out last night. Started a bag. Didn't like the way it looked. Frogged. Started doing it differently - liked that less. Frogged. Decided to try an openwork fingerless glove - miscalculated gauge and wound up with a few inches of something that fit in the wrist but ballooned to Godzilla-sized when it got to the openwork part. So. Frogged. Which means I knit for two and a bit hours with nothing to show for it except slightly more frayed yarn. Ah well. I learned, right? I'm going to change the openwork I did and go with the gloves on this ball. And do them in the proper gauge.

And then I'll still have 900g left over! Joy!

Memo to self: ask mom about scarf. Because it would be a really good idea to knit her a scarf for Christmas and a matching hat for her birthday. More cables!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Cutest thing you've ever seen? I thought so. The hood is done with Cascade220 held together with Fizz, done in short rows, with ribbing in the back to hold it in. (I should have made it a little longer in the back, but oh well, we live and learn. The ears are double-knit - the Cascade 220 on the inside, Fizz on the outside. The cuffs are the same, with a just-Fizz ruffle around the hands, and the tail has a Fizz tuft. Mom made the suit out of fleece.

The very first thing I knit without a pattern! (Scarves and bags don't count.)