26 September 2007

I'M IN!!!!!!!


Ravelry: courtneyknits

Update (27/9/07): You really don't want to know how many hours I spent on Ravelry yesterday. I think it was part overjoy at finally getting to see what the fuss is all about, and part exploring and thinking all the fuss is pretty much on the mark. For those who aren't in yet, they're trying to invite 500-600 people each day now, so the wait shouldn't be too much longer.

There are still some features that need tweaking/coding (for example, I added two patterns that weren't in the database, but the interface doesn't allow me to add a picture yet), so I can understand why we had to wait to start using it--a massive onslaught of 30,000 users would have been total chaos.

Overall, it's VERY cool, and I can't wait until all you guys are on it, too. It's a great way to share and compare projects, and find quickly who's doing the same thing you are.... or who has the same yarn in their stash as you, and what they're making out of it. It's pure genius. I can see it sparking even more creativity and cameraderie in the knitting and crocheting communities.

I am also pleased to announce that Ravelry has received the Official Knit Goddingdom Royal Imperial Warrant as the Exclusive Super-Cool Online Knitting Thing to Her Awesomeness, the Empress of Knit Goddingdom. (Royal Imperial Warrant Seal to come as soon as the Imperial Artist has some free time to work her Imperial MS Paint skillz).

23 September 2007


Turns out knitting lace when you're tired and frustrated and new to lace knitting is not the best idea. I tried again this afternoon with success. After consulting a few books (naturally), I discovered that I had been doing my YOs wrong--and subsequently knitting them wrong on the next row. So I fixed the technical problems and knitted happily away.

Then I indulged my inner sadist and blocked the bejeezus out of it. You really have to wonder about all those lace knitters when they block stuff. Behind that satisfied smile, the cogs are turning as the mild-mannered mother of five imagines the yarn screaming for mercy as she turns another notch on the rack in the stinking dark dungeon. She listens with an expert ear for the delicate strain in the fiber as it stretches beyond its limit, careful not to let it rip. In the distance, she hears the splooshing plunge of raw fleece dumped into the washbasin. The fleece gurgles, splutters and cries out in vain as the apprentice draws near, holding a can of tennis balls and a brand new rubber toilet plunger. She listens carefully for the hiss and pop; she can almost smell the intoxicating aromas of new tennis balls and Eucalan. Ah, but she must focus on her task at hand. The apprentice is ready to handle felting on her own...


I'd go on, but I'd probably have to start charging money and putting up one of those "No knitters under-18" entry pages. Here are some closeups. This is knit using Lisa Souza's "Baby Alpaca Lace" in Mulberry and #2 straight metal needles.

Above: clear #6 glass beads with silver interiors surround a hematite bead. Hematite is Fe2O3, for the nerds in the audience. (For extra credit, tell me its crystal structure and give examples of other minerals with that same structure. {/teacher)

Below: The purple bead is a freshwater pearl. I bought a strand of them, but my crochet hook (#12) isn't small enough to go through the hole, so I'll either have to come up with a creative way of stringing it, or do without them:

22 September 2007

Secret of the Swatch Remains a Mystery

Revelation of the day: my lace knitting sucks. This is not self-deprecation in search of reassurance, either. I've knitted SEVEN swatches with three different yarns, with needles ranging from US2-4. They look as nondescript blocked as they do unblocked. I know what they are supposed to look like: a pair of semi-floating squares, thanks to the YOs, with a thin border around them. Mine? Not so much. Here is the latest photo of my best, closest-to-the-goal swatch:
I'd like to attribute this to the fact that I had an ass-kicking workout at the gym today, and that I worked on some essays, and my body is so whooped and my brain so fried that I can't concentrate on my lace knitting--but I can't. You don't need to have a great body or a sharp mind to knit. I'm doing something wrong. Tomorrow I'm going to review my technique bit by bit and find out where I've gone wrong. I know I have knit and purl down, so it follows logically that I'm doing the ssks and the YOs wrong.

So now the question remains: Will our heroine correct her swatch before the 4 October deadline? Will her Secret of the Stole become an inchoate pile of stitches? Stay tuned...

18 September 2007

Yarns are Here!

*chanting* My yarns are here, my yarns are here, for Secret--of the--Stole!

I plan to buy beads today... then let the swatching begin!

*happy dance*

17 September 2007

Boléro Anastase - progress report

Here is the completed and blocked back of the Boléro Anastase:

Detail of edging

detail of detail, with descriptions!

this is either a detailed rendering of the Black Lagoon,
or the right front side, unblocked, un-edged.

I had to make some modifications because the smallest size is the closest to my size... I'm not a starving supermodel, but I did miss out on the amply-bosomed genetic lottery, so an XS would have been nice.


Knitpicks "Panache" sheds like mad. It's on the clothes I wore while knitting, on the white towel I used for blocking, and I keep finding little bits of black fluff floating around the house. Soooo do not like this.

On the right front, knitted to the smallest size, the decreases given in the pattern DO NOT work... you run out of room for the cable along the side, so I had to do some creative dec/inc juggling to save the cable and still allow for a decently-shaped armscye. I also did not do all the dec called for around the neck--just sort of knitted it to where it looked about right.

Which makes me wonder--don't they have people test-knit these things? I know there are professional test-knitters (BEST.JOB.EVAR.), but do they knit in all the sizes? Do they have anyone double-check the numbers, just to make sure that, oh, by the way, if you knit this in the smallest size, by row 27 you don't end up with negative stitches?

Imagine, all those negative stitches (or are they inverse stitches? stitches-1? let's stick with negative for the sake of argument)--probably popping up in an alternate universe, right in front of negative-you (you-1?). Naturally, this freaks negative-you out to all of a sudden see stitches appear out of nowhere. So negative-you spits out another pill, regurgitates some whisky and hopes for the best. Over time negative-you becomes increasingly sober, lucid and distraught--all because some yarn company didn't bother to work out the maths of its stitches. You oughtn't do that to your negative-you.

The lesson here: don't trust the pattern. Trust yourself and your knitting, and you, your knitting, and your negative-you will all be well.

UPDATE: I found the Black Lagoon map!

14 September 2007

I Have a Problem....

Hi, my name is Courtney
and I have a stash problem.

[this is where you say, "Hi, Courtney."]

I was looking through knitty, and saw the pattern for Cherie Amour. I promptly went to the handpaintedyarn.com site and bought 4 skeins of bulky merino in the "Mediterranean" colorway. That is, I sorta bought them. The paypal link thingy isn't working, but I wrote a comment on the "Contact Us" page and asked for assistance. Correction: the link-through to Paypal was wonky with Firefox, fixed it by using badbadevilinternetexplorer(hissss!). Must--have--yarn.

I'm sticking to my No Stash Without a Project resolution. The problem is that now, instead of stash, I am accumulating projects faster than I can knit them. Can't buy yarn? No problem. I'll buy an entire sweater's worth and the pattern to go with it.

I need help.

So I asked my psychiatrist about what is clearly yet another Pathological Something-or-Other and he said that if they put me on any more psychotropic pills, I might turn purple, or grow slimy yellow tentacles, or have other adverse side effects. He's a great guy. His name's Mitch and he hangs out on the corner of 12th and Magnolia. While he doesn't have an office per se, it is mighty convenient that I don't have to make a separate trip to the pharmacy. *sigh* Looks like this is one problem I'm going to have to conquer without chemical assistance.

At the same time, I can't help but wonder: the slimy yellow tentacles... could they hold needles? Even if I only grew two slimy yellow tentacles... two tentacles, two hands... two projects at once, baby. I'd have to knit superwash projects with the tentacles, of course, and save silk for the hands. This is assuming that yellow slime washes out... anyone ever tried it?1

Okay. Break open the Champagne.

1 I'm a big fan of Seventh Generation detergent (NAYY). I once used it to wash an entire large mocha out of my shirt (thanks, Panera, for not putting the lid on tight) and every last bit came out. That's coffee, chocolate and milk. Together. All out. If anything could get out yellow slime, Seventh Generation could.

10 September 2007

A New Contender for SoS!

There has been another entry into the Official Knit Goddingdom Secret of the Stole Yarn Selection Contest:

100% silk, 2/28NM, 2300yds/150g
from Coulour Mart

I ordered 2 cones and asked that they be wound into a 2-ply on a single cone. No idea how long it's going to take to arrive, but... it's silk! and silver! I haven't fallen off the yarn-diet wagon... no sirree... but I promise this is the last yarn I buy for SoS. It would probably help if someone made me pinky swear it, though. I can resist all things but yarn temptation.

Secret of the Stole Yarn Selections

I ordered yarn for Secret of the Stole today. I couldn't decide, so I ordered two. They are both from Lisa Souza Knitwear and Dyeworks. I cannot state strongly enough how much I LOVE Lisa's yarns. I knitted a baby blanket out of her Baby Alpaca Silk in "Pumpkin Gold" colorway, and it was gorgeous (see the link under "Finished Projects" on the sidebar).

The two contestants for Secret of the Stole are:

Baby Alpaca laceweight yarn in Mulberry

100% wool laceweight yarn in Poiple

When they arrive, they will be subjected to a rigorous battery of tests that will push their limits. They will be petted, swatched, blocked, strung up and paraded before a panel of judges who promise to pull no punches in their evaluations.

The panel is comprised of the Sénéchal du Knit Goddingdom, the bailiff and the premier baker. This year's esteemed panel also includes a surprise celebrity guest: the Empress of Knitting Goddingdom herself. We can only hope that there will be no in-fighting as there was last time the panel convened... when the Post Mistress General resigned after Judge Courtney pulled her hair and called her a stuffed-shirted snippy-nosed twit. Post Mistress General was quoted in The Knit Goddingdom Waffler-Picayune as saying, "I have no comment regarding the incident, although if I did I would probably mention that Judge Courtney is a parsimonious old hag who refused to give money to the Orphaned Yarn Project."

Judge Courtney responded to reporters by saying, "My lawyers have advised me not to comment on the incident, even though everyone knows that Post Mistress General made up the Orphaned Yarn Project to use other people's leftover yarn to enhance her own stash." Neither Post Mistress General nor Judge Courtney have been invited to this year's Yarn Selection proceedings.

As an added precaution, all of this year's panelists have signed an agreement stating that all arguments, spats and quibbles will be settled by pudding wrestling, so long as the Town Glutton doesn't eat all the pudding. We're talking rich, creamy homemade vanilla here. In the event that a pudding wresting match must take place, residents are notified that it is a BYOS event (Bring Your Own Spoon). Artemesia Caytsmith, the town loon, was quoted as saying, "I do hope there's a good fight this year at the Yarn Selection trials. I haven't had vanilla pudding in so long."

08 September 2007

Gone This Weekend

Gone away this weekend... with any luck, I'll get a lot of knitting done and will have a lovely post sometime mid-week. Au revoir!

05 September 2007

Future Projects

I. J'ai commandé le catalogue n° 198 du Anny Blatt Couture.

Je veux faire le Boléro Anastase.

I was thinking of edging it in ostrich feathers instead of the (pink) fluffy stuff in the picture. I found this site, which sells ostrich feathers sewn onto sticky bias tape by the yard. I really like the coque feathers, too.

I'm thinking about making this for the Chanel class... because the jacket I'm knitting for mom feels SO nice next to the skin, it would be a shame to cover it with lining.

In theory, this is brilliant. "I'm going to make this jacket for mom, and then I'm going to knit an intricate bolero for myself by October 14th, in addition to my other projects." In practice... I don't know exactly how I'm going to find the time to make all these things (see point IV). But, as you all know: where there's a knitter, there is an impossibly large number of UFOs being finished.1

Some people get this stressed about their work: "I have to get this report finished by 11, then I have to catch the train to New York; I'm meeting so-and-so for a late lunch and then the Bigwigs of Big Companies for dinner, then tomorrow morning's the board meeting..." I'd rather get stressed about knitting. It's much more productive and meaningful in the long run. Not that corporate America doesn't have its benefits... but in five years no one is going to care how brilliant my presentation to MegaCorp was. In ten years, I'll still care about my knitting projects. Work = money => freedom. Knitting => lasting pleasure.

I looked up the recommended yarn, Anny Blatt "Caprice," which is like hen's teeth in the black color, not to mention expensive (11 balls at $18/ball? Maybe not). I decided to substitute knitpicks' "Panache" in Coal. I ordered three colors for the trim in Anny Blatt "Victoria." One is black, the second ivoire (which is supposed to be ivory, but on the Yarndex swatch card looked more like a platinum, so we'll see) and the last is Beryl, a pink mix.

II. I have yarn. I want to make a pair of Pomatomuses (Pomatomi?). This is a serious back-burner project. Maybe even behind the "there's no way in you-know-what I'm spending $500 on a sweater that I have to make" Wild Stuff project.

III. Current Project Listing (thanks, Excel!)
Whoa, I looked at the spreadsheet I had made up for my knitting projects, and it needed some updating. It also reminded me of projects I had abandoned, such as the Sophia Babydoll. All it needs is to crochet the straps and attach the feathers.
Knitting Projects In Progress
% Complete Materials Pattern
Sophia Babydoll x 80 x x
UA knit beanie for Bryan x 5 x
Crinoid Shawl x 33 x x
Thrummed Mittens x 60 x x
Jacket for Mom x 5
x x
Black Berrocco Chinchilla Wrap
0 x x
Icarus Shawl
Navy Basketweave Sweater for II
0 x x
Blue Cabled Sweater for II
0 x x
Boléro Anastase (Anny Blatt)

IV. Secret of the Stole KAL
I joined my first mystery KAL! Will update more on this once I decide on a yarn and beads. Yes, beads (!!!). I'm super-psyched about it. I have until 4 October to procure and swatch said materials--then the fun begins!

1 Proviso 1: Provided that the knitter is not knitting a 40" baby blanket in Dale of Norway "Baby Ull" on size 2 needles.

03 September 2007

Knitting Adventures in SC, continued

I left off with a description of the jacket and wrap I intend to make. This post continues with the other things I bought at The Elegant Stitch.

PART IV - Wild Stuff

Just inside the door was a mannequin wearing a gorgeous jacket made of Prism "Wild Stuff." I fell in love with the yarn and decided I wanted to make one. Rosemary informed me that it takes 4-5 full skeins of "Wild Stuff," and while she did not have enough currently in stock, she would be happy to order and mail the yarn to me. Difficulty: "Wild Stuff" is $92 a skein (6-8oz/300yd). Think I'll put that one on the back burner.

- Feathers

I also bought one skein of Anny Blatt feather yarn:

and one length of marabou with guinea feathers:

Rosemary had more available, and I almost bought all she had, but I have no idea what I'm going to do with these trims...

PART VI - Island Knits

The Island Shops remind me of the Channelwood Age in Myst where you had to turn the taps a certain direction... and I never got it right. Sometimes I think I spent half my childhood playing that game with one of my friends, but it was probably more like 3 weeks altogether. Now I feel like going out and buying it--and like the recovering alcoholic, I must say no, no matter how badly I want it, because once I pop that disc in my computer I'd probably be hooked into it for a month--and that would result in lost knitting time, which would be bad. So, ah, no Myst for me. I remember liking the books, too... but that was in elementary or middle school, when I thought Anne McCaffrey was the best thing to ever happen to the written word... who knows, I may still think the books are good if I gave them another read, but until then I'm reluctant to account for my taste back then...

ANYWAY, the Island Shops reminded me of that... except the Island Shops have a massive flock of ducks, geese and swans swimming in the swamp--of course I didn't manage to get any in this picture--which tended to hang out towards the front shops, where the feeders (and tourists) are. It's calm and peaceful. Even the sweltering mid-August afternoon didn't seem so bad there. But you didn't come here to read about the non-knitting shops.

Island Knits has an excellent variety of yarns for a small shop. They are organized in bins according to yarn, and grouped roughly by manufacturer. Of course, that all could change as I came in just after the owner had finished unpacking a shipment of new yarns. I was tempted by some baby alpaca, but I was also conscious of my yarn diet, and my resolution to not buy yarn without a purpose (hence why I've been buying projects and kits lately).

I settled on two things for my nephew:
(1) Basket weave-style sweater in navy blue Reynold's Wash Day Wool. Pattern 1521 by Sirdar. I saw the pattern worked up in a rougher wool of a different color and loved it (although not the feel of it). The Wash Day Wool is surprisingly soft and, as the name implies, is machine washable--I imagine this is a plus when knitting for a toddler... although his parents would send his things out for dry cleaning if I told them it was necessary. Dry cleaning is a damn sight easier than hand washing everything. I wonder if the dry cleaners have little bitty wire hangers and miniature clear plastic bags for babies' clothes...

(2) Cabled pullover in Baby Bamboo, also by Sirdar (1731). I'm using the color and yarn illustrated on the cover of the pattern, because that color will look excellent on him. I ended up buying a lot more of the Bamboo than I would have needed in the wool (also recommended by the pattern), but I have wanted an excuse to buy bamboo yarn for some time and I figure a baby sweater is perfect. The bamboo is deliciously soft...