31 December 2008

Christmas, In a Nutshell

teensy tiny saucepan
for reducing black raspberry jelly down to jam.

sheep cookies (because I can)

Then I cut out a LOT of snowflakes.

(l) black raspberry jam cookies
(r) red raspberry jam cookies

peppermint cookies

slightly blurry Christmas tree.

I sewed buttons on the Autumn Leaves Capelet:

And I cast on for Anne Hanson's Starlight Lace Wrap.

That's all for now -- see you guys next year!

19 December 2008

Zoe Sock Shawl

The Simple Yet Effective Zoe Sock Shawl is finished! Here's slightly blurry proof:

There was one minor snag (da dum dum) discovered during blocking:

Not a dropped stitch... just a pull... that somehow created a hole.
This is what you get when you let your finished objects
sit on your desk, fall on the floor, get shuffled around,
snagged on things, and be generally neglected
while you wait a couple weeks to find time to block it.

The yarn bled substantially blue during three lukewarm soaks with Eucalan. On the third bath, it was still bleeding. I figured I'd run out of patience before the dye stopped running, so I squeezed it out and blocked it. The good news is that the yarn is a super-sturdy superwash -- I did a lot the things you're not supposed to do to your woolens to see what would happen. I filled the basin with lukewarm water while the shawl was in the sink. I squeezed it and then squeezed the water out hard, before giving it a gentle wringing each time.

Three wringings later, the yarn looked no worse for the wear. Were it made into socks, it is my professional opinion that this stuff will wear and wash like... well, not like iron, that tends to get a bit rusty with washing... more like it will wear like stainless steel... that is, without the scratching and the need for polishing and the picking up fingerprints... You know what I mean. It's some tough, tough yarn for as squooshy as it is.

Overall, I'm pleased with it. The pattern shows off the hand-painted aspect of the yarn. The YOs give it a little definition. My only complaint, which I suppose is true of most triangular garter-stitch shawls, is that it's difficult to wear draped over one's shoulders. I wore it using the old Pashmina trick: put it over my shoulders take the tails under my arms and square knot the tails behind my back.

Here are some final blocking photos:

17 December 2008

Happy Late Belated Monday!

Hurrah! I have successfully rigged up a substitute computer for processing photos! We can now celebrate the Monday update only a few days late.

Update on Thing One and Thing Two... it is with a heavy heart that Coco and Bella have gone to a new home. I was about to write "Coco and Bella have gone to a better place," which is technically true, but then my friends would look at me suspiciously every time I wore my white fur hat.

No, it turns out that while I was sad to see them go, my allergies were not -- in fact, my sinuses decided to throw a party and stay open 24/7 to celebrate the cats' departure. Mom held out for a while... until she discovered that she was allergic to the kittens, too. We had no idea what to do with them -- they were rescue cats, so I couldn't very well haul them off to the pound.

I could not live with them. Mom could not live with them. Mom's housekeeper, whose beloved cat died many years ago, thought they were precious.

They are now clawing their way through my mother's housekeeper's furniture, clinging to her screened-in porch and running madly around her living room in the middle of the night, much to the delight of all. Coco and Bella are thriving; Mom's housekeeper loves them; Mom's housekeeper's home is under constant threat of imminent shredding. All's well that ends well; thanks be to God; God Save the Queen; Knees Up Mother Brown, Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition!

Speaking of Monty Python, here's my sweater so far:

I could not be more pleased with how the torso turned out. It fits perfectly. Brava, Ms Chau, for an excellent pattern.

view from back

Now with 50% More Sleeve Action!

The lesson I have learned is to only adopt pets to which I am definitely not allergic. Fortunately, I am not allergic to alpacas. I learned a few days ago that there are rescue alpacas available for adopting, not thirty miles from where I live...

To be continued.

09 December 2008

Best Balaclava EVAR.

First, she brought us the Bokaclava (ravelry link):

Now, Anne-Marie Dunbar introduces the Cthuluclava (ravelry link) and -- my personal favorite -- the Dracoclava (ravelry link).

I love the bold, confident sculptural quality of Anne-Marie's knits, as well as her attention to detail. Note the sticky-out tongue of Bok and the finely-worked scales on the forehead of the Dracoclava.

The Bokaclava pattern is a free download, either Ravelry or website. It is also available in a child size. The Cthuluclava and Dracoclava patterns are £3.00 (GBP) apiece and available through ravelry downloads and her website.

fine print: I am not in any way affiliated with Anne-Marie Dunbar; I have no monetary interest in promoting her work. Just a fan. :-)

08 December 2008

Pardon me -- your 1337 isn't showing.

I finished knitting the torso of the Noro and alpaca top-down raglan cardi. I'm super-pleased with it so far. The fit is just right -- yay, Laura, for an excellent pattern! I took pictures of it this morning. Normally, it takes me a little time to sit down, download the pics from the camera, fuss with them in Photoshop to get them color-corrected (that's why you often see a grey card in my pictures - that's a Neutral Gray 5 card). Things might take a leeeetle bit longer this time:

My lappy says something like this:

Actually, my particular BSOD tells me that it has something to do with the memory. I ran diagnostics and my lappy failed March A, March B, March X, and March Y tests. I don't know enough about computers to know exactly what this means, but past experience tells me that this probably isn't good for the files I haven't backed up.

Alternatively, I can pop out the keyboard and start jabbing at my computer's innards with a #17 straight needle and see what happens.

I went into Eleganza yesterday because, despite my calculations that ensured perfect fit, I messed up the yarn requirements for my Top-Down Raglan Cardi. I need more Noro Silk Garden #47 (yarndex closeup), lot P. I was hoping that Kristi might have a ball or two leftover, but no such luck. I looked for another yarn that I could use as a substitute, but no luck with that, either. I checked Ravelry stashes but no one had any listed for sale/trade. So last night I bought two skeins of #47, lot V on Ebay. Even if the dye lots are not exactly right, I am confident that I'll be able to tweak them to make them work.

My main tweak so far for this sweater: I took the remnants of my last skein of #47 and divided them into sections by color. There were 5 distinct color changes in all. I then cut each color section exactly in half and wound each piece into a little ball, so I have 2 equal sets of 5 colors in little bitty balls. This way, I can knit each sleeve with one set, so the sleeves have the same colors/equal stripes.

While I didn't get what I originally wanted, my trip to Eleganza was not entirely without success. I bought a bag full of yarn to make another top-down raglan cardi:
  • 3 sk Noro Silk Garden #226 (grey - blue - purple) (yarndex link)
  • 1 sk Manos Wool #04 (turquoise) (yarndex link)
  • 1 sk Cascade Lana d'Oro 1066 (blueberry)
  • 1 sk Cascade Lana d'Oro 1069 (purple)
  • 2 sk Noro Cash Iroha #108 (chocolate brown)
Arrrgh, I want so badly to show you guys pictures of these yarns together! I'm very excited to play with them and make them into a jewel-toned sweater! Here's a quick collage to show you roughly what they look like together, until I can get a proper picture:

The Silk Garden #226 has little bits of the robin's egg blue in it (picked up by the Manos #04), along with a larger portion of blues that go beautifully with the Lana D'Oro #1066. The Cash Iroha (background of the picture) picks up the deep chocolate/coffee colors in the Silk Garden.

That's all for now; keep your fingers crossed that I'll either get the lappy sorted out or rig up another computer for transferring/editing my pictures.

04 December 2008

Bed isn't made; needles are crying.

I haven't knitted in four days.

My knitting bag goes everywhere with me, following my purse with a persistent optimism I thought only belonged to dogs. I don't have the heart to tell it, "not today."

My wheel sits idle. It accepts the dust that slowly settles on it, patient as the tree and maker that birthed it.

Bags of roving slouch together, wondering whether they'll ever be predrafted.

The brown sweater is locked in a holding cell, awaiting judgment. Any day now, it may find that there is not enough Noro to knit the sleeves. Conversely, it might get 3/4-length sleeves. If by some miracle, I find another skein of Silk Garden in the same color and lot, it will get a reprieve and receive full-length sleeves. Or, it may be sent to the frog pond (not likely, it has a good lawyer knitter on its case).

I've started drinking caffeine again.

And it isn't even tax season yet.

I fear I may be going insane insaner.