29 March, 2010

Guesswork and SHHH!

You'll never guess what's inside this box:

Okay, maybe you will.

1.69 more miles to the "IN" total...

I couldn't help it! Omly wrote about how awesome Trekking XXL is, and I discovered that I don't have any for socks in my stash (shhh - those 3 balls are for a Tempest!). And then there was a sale going on at WEBS, which is kind of redundant as there's ALWAYS a sale at WEBS, but again, shhh! And the purple Williamstown I've been ogling for over a year was on sale, and I love my Ribbi Cardi out of the same - it's the best house cardigan! And the Araucania was pretty and cheap, and did I mention it was 1:30 in the morning at this point? Don't tell me you've never succumbed to the late night siren call of Yarn via Internet. And if you haven't? Shhh!

There has been progress on multiple fronts lately. I got halfway through a massive stash reorganization this weekend.

Those empty, lidless bins on the right were labeled with a big letter on the front, and THB acted as secretary while I called out which yarns I was putting into each bin. He also managed to lay claim to two skeins of Very Nice yarn - one for his hands, and one for his feet. Thankfully he hasn't asked for a sweater (yet...)! So now I've gotten another good look at my stash - or at least, the sock and lace yarn that make up the bulk of the stash - AND there's an actual catalogue of what is in which bin. I am thrilled about this, because the bins are all tucked into my tiny room and hauling them out one at a time is kind of a pain.

The next step is to get some space bags for the (many) bins of roving to compress the stash a bit, and then finish the overhaul.

There has also been knitting progress! I'm up through row 82 (of 180) of my cousin's Lyra wedding shawl:

Herbert Niebling's Lyra, Knit Picks Merino Lace "Bare"

I've been pretty diligent about working on this, despite the fact that I can't take it anywhere. The pattern strictly an audiobook one, so it sits next to my desk and glowers at me when I spend my time playing video games instead of knitting!

I also finally pulled out my ill-fated Mingus socks and started instead on some 56-stitch No-Purl Monkeys:

No-Purl Monkey Socks, Lisa Souza Hardtwist Petite "South Pacific"

This would appear to be my favorite pattern, as this will be the fourth pair I've made. I really do like the way the pattern fits my feet, and it's easy and elegant without being fussy. It's a good thing I pulled these out, as I start my third round of grad classes today and will definitely need something to keep my hands occupied while I learn more of the semantics of teaching!

One of these days I'll have a finished piece to show you, I swear!

24 March, 2010

Getting Some Use!

Miss Murloc's Sweater
Originally uploaded by TikaBelle
Miss Murloc seems to be getting use out of last fall's Theodora sweater! She's a petite little thing, just over 11 pounds at 5 months, which is unique in my experience with babies. I didn't get this sweater to her until she was nearly 2 months old, and she's just now grown into it! And there I was afraid she'd be too big before I managed to remember to take it to her.

Shakespeare would approve. All's well that ends well!

Do you get the chance to see your handknit gifts in use very often? Does it thrill you the way it does me?

19 March, 2010


I finished the center square of my Stonington Shawl and started on the first border. Somewhere around 2" into the border itself, I came to a realization: the construction of these borders doesn't allow for easy patterning because one is made differently from the other three. ARGH!

That's when it all came crashing down. My latent feelings that this particular garter stitch shawl was unsuited to the elegant silvery quality of the yarn, that my brilliant center would look stupid surrounded by miles of garter stitch, and that I really-and-truly didn't like it.

Behold, the sad remnants of my Stonington Shawl:

Then again, the yarn once again has potential, and it's tough to beat that.

I've been SO GOOD lately. The Lyra is coming along nicely, although it's not much bigger. The pattern is just complicated enough to allow me to listen to a good audiobook, but too complicated for TV watching. I've been adding a couple of rows every here and there, and it's enchanting. I think one of the reasons Niebling is popular with lace knitters is that his style is so different from traditional Shetland-style shawls. Both have their place, but I'm thrilled to see something so different from what I'm used to coming off my needles.

But back to being SO GOOD: instead of starting a new project for straight knitting, I've been trawling my Ravelry projects for unfinished TV-worth material. I've been working steadily on the [redacted], and even did the ripping out that was needed on my Salina sleeves. Oh, I didn't mention that one sleeve was a clear 2" longer than the other? And that the longer one is the one that fits my monkey arms? Grr. So I ripped back the sleeve cap and knitted the extra 2". Now there's just the sleeve cap to re-knit and I'm back to where I was!

See how good I've been? Not that starting 500 projects at once is bad. It definitely works for some people. But I get overwhelmed and irritated when I have nothing finished to show for myself, so keeping my works-in-progress down to about 5-6 is optimal for me.

Or it was, until these showed up:

Those are 2 Hazel Rose Looms, modeled after the super-popular Weave-it looms from the 1930's. There are three total in my set, measuring 2-, 4-, and 8- inches square. You see, I have always wanted to quilt, but fabric is NOT my medium. So I am trying out a compromise: flat weaving. Here are my efforts so far using leftover sock yarn that you might recognize:

3-way traditional warp, single-ply, following directions exactly (for once...)

Plain weave warp, single ply

3-way traditional warp, double ply

I like the look of the plain weave the best, but the double-ply was definitely quicker and I like the result almost as much. I'm going to play around with slightly heavier yarns and see where that takes me!

18 March, 2010

Movie Time!

It turns out that the last musical I watched is not, in fact, on the AFI Greatest Movie Musicals list (link is a pdf from the AFI website. I am not trying to infect your computer with anything except AWESOME.). And there's probably a reason it was left off. But I looked back over my 101 in 1001 list today and realized that "100 movies from my Netflix queue" is a goal, so I figured it was time to start keeping track. Ladies and gentlemen, Brigadoon (1954):

I had no idea going into it what on earth this movie would be like. All I knew is that Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse are amazing - and they were, despite Cyd Dahling's atrocious Scottish accent. Well, everyone's atrocious accents, really. Except Gene's, because he played an American, thank god.

It was set in the "Scottish Countryside" in the same way that 1948's The Pirate was set in the "Islands of the Caribbean." That is, there was extremely little effort made to make the soundstage in which the movie was built look like the real Scottish countryside. But the backdrops were so beautifully painted that I couldn't really tell where the walls were, so that's something. There seems to be a theme in movie musicals from this era of not caring much whether the set itself looked realistic. The shots are mostly full body or medium, there are few close-ups even when the lovers meet, and the set looks like a jumped up version of the stage set. I suppose that's reasonable - the point was to put big name musical stars in money-making musicals for the movie-going public. I was brought up on these musicals (except, apparently, Brigadoon...) and I love them, but I do find it hard to compare it with, say, Moulin Rouge! or Chicago. The cinematic paradigm shifted over the course of fifty-some-odd years and now brings us musicals that are staged and shot like regular movies - or at least, most of the time. I'm looking at you, Hugh Jackman's Oklahoma!

Anyway, the story of Brigadoon is hokey and charming and the music - when not accompanied by the aforementioned atrocious accents - is sweet. There was precious little Highland dancing and a whole lotta ballet, but as that's Cyd Dahling's background (and she does it so well) I didn't mind so much. Plus it gave me the opportunity to ogle Gene Kelly's butt, which is always a plus. You can keep your Fred Astaire - give me Kelly and some tight pants any day.

Will I ever see Brigadoon again? Maybe, although it's not one I would deliberately seek out. It's more likely to vanish into the mists like the town itself.

101 in 1001 Goal #67, "Watch 100 movies from Netflix Queue" (1/100)

14 March, 2010

Gear Change!

Remember that tiny needles lace obsession I've been talking about? Well, I found the perfect outlet.

Wedding shawls.

Most of my friends who are my age got married a couple of years ago. There was a time when I went to 6 weddings in one summer - my solitary summer wedding outfit got a LOT of wear. Come to think of it, I could have dressed it up with a shawl... hmm. Anywho, this year all my friends who are a few years younger than I am are getting married. My cousin Valerie is first in May, and then my Darling Nadia's turn comes at the end of August.

Nadia's wedding shawl has been at the back of my mind for a long while. She had a wedding planned three years ago - a super-huge doozy of a Pakistani wedding with 600 guests and 13 bridesmaids (!!!!) - but it didn't pan out. This time, however, it will, and it'll be smaller with fewer girls to wrangle into dresses, then saris, then dresses again (if necessary). But my Nadia still needs a wedding shawl. After one other person, she's my dearest friend, and due to geographical proximity I see her more often than I see Malia!

However, Val comes first. I've been poring over patterns, the limitations (HAH) of my stash, and trying to match up the best pattern and color combination I can pull off by the end of May. I also took into consideration that Val is from the South American side of the family - we are both half-Amazonian, which accounts for a lot. We also have the same patron "saint" in Lucrezia Borgia, that paragon of sass and power. But it's the South American quality I wanted to capture, and I found it in a German pattern. Here's the beginning:

"Lyra" by Herbert Neibling
Knit Picks Lace Weight, "Bare"
3.25mm needles

I'm only about 11 rows in, but I'm enjoying it so far!

Also, Mr. Darcy would like me to tell you all that he is willing to give headshot lessons to those of you who might want them:

Not too shabby for an alien, am I right?

09 March, 2010

All Over the Place

Okay, so you have probably figured out by now that I have less self control than I ought to have when it comes to acquiring yarn. You've also probably noticed my propensity for buying all new yarn for a project instead of using what I have in my stash. Well, both of those things are true, I admit it. But it is also true that I am learning (sloooowly) to buy appropriate amounts of yarn for the intended project, to check Ravelry for a) project yardage requirements and b) my stash listing before diving into a knitting store, and that I'm trying hard to finish projects before I start new ones.

Next week is the end of my second round of grad classes. This session has been more back-loaded than the last, so I've been kept busy writing papers and doing projects. I'll be glad to see this session be finished; my classes weren't as entertaining or informative as the previous ones, and there was one in particular that just irritated the crap out of me on a regular basis. But overall I'm really enjoying the 9-week terms. It's just enough time for me to lose steam in terms of getting good grades and turning things in on time, so all my teachers think I'm a Good Student. Poor, deluded dears.

ANYway, I finally finished Torchwood: Children of Earth last night. I watched episodes 3-5 in rapid succession and spend the bulk of the time with my jaw on the floor. It was... incredible and heart-rending and really, really well-acted. John Barrowman is completely underrated, at least in the US. I understand that he's quite appreciated in the UK, which is, I suppose, acceptable as he is one of those rare successful British actors who doesn't seem at all interested in moving to LA.

I also finished my Risata socks!
Knit Picks Risata, "Fairy Tale"
330 yds.

I quite like the way these fit. I adjusted the peasant heel flap according to my last post and Suzanne's suggestions, and they fit much better across the instep. They're a tad big, but my mom says that her Risata socks have felted (and therefore shrunk) a bit in the wash, so I'm not too worried.

What I AM chuffed about is this:
(click to enlarge) (that's what she said...)

That heel flap and heel turned out PERFECTLY. There are a few loose stitches, but I'm pretty sure those will even themselves out with washing, and if they don't, it's nothing a darning needle and a scrap of extra yarn can't fix. I'm excited to mess a little with the colored heel/toe scheme as well, but that will have to wait a bit. I may be the teensiest burnt out on socks, which is HILARIOUS considering that I just purchased enough sock yarn at Stitches to reach from my house to the nearest yarn store.

What I have been craving - possibly because I got a chart keeper - is lace. Specifically, sampler lace to keep me interested and involved. What's that? I already have a "lace" project going? You're right, I do, and it's going just fine. But it's 90% knit stitch! That's not the lace I'm craving! I want complicated, fussy, multiple-stitch-marker and life-line-requiring, make-you-blind, tiny needle lace. Hazel Carter and Sharon Miller lace.

I hear it's excellent for knitting in class.

06 March, 2010

A Tale of Tape Measure Whoa

This is my favorite tape measure.

It used to have a Fibersphere logo on the sticker, but that wore off a long time ago. The nice folks at Fibersphere gave these away the first year they were at Stitches West. It's got a metal tape measure in the top and a pen in the bottom, and it's lived in my purse for nearly 2 straight years now. That scrape along the pen barrel is from being run over by crazy conservatives in Nevada when we went to canvas for Obama. We managed to lose every other pen we came across, but that one stayed with me.

Last year at Stitches, I bought 2 more of these miraculous tape measures. I put them in my bag, I saw them in my apartment once, and then -POOF!- they disappeared. I'm sure they're in a place so safe, they're protected even from me.

This year, I completely forgot to hit the Fibersphere booth at Stitches and get more tape measure pens. Sigh.


Shifting gears, I like to order from The Loopy Ewe. I usually order Lorna's Laces from them because they carry loooooots of colors and I'm getting pickier and pickier about my sock yarn these days. The socks I've made from Lorna's Laces haven't faded hardly at all and haven't felted even a little, and that's with a ton of wear. My Daffodil socks were my go-to pair in Mexico last year, and I wore them all over the cement floors with no problems. They are arguably my favorite socks, so they get tons of wear and I love them.

But anyway, back to The Loopy Ewe. They have this cute little system of sending small gifts with your first 5 orders and on the sixth, you become a Loopy Groupie with all the perks and benefits therein.

I have lately been annoyed by the slow-yet-steady disappearance of my DPN's, so I ordered a set each of 0 and 00 Hiya-Hiya's last week, then in a panic sent Sherri an email asking if she could add 2 of her carabiner tape measures to the order. Oh yes - carabiner tape measures.

Heck yes! I'm thrilled with these (and my DPN's). One will go in my knitting drawer for emergencies, one will attach itself to the handle of the pen mug next to my computer, and my pen tape measure can go back to living happily in my purse. And if you look again at the picture, you'll notice something that makes me extra-happy: the stopper. See how I'm not holding the tape measure out? FanTAStic! So useful.

And on top of that, I'd completely forgotten that it was my 6th Loopy Ewe order. I got a much larger package than I had anticipated today, and inside was this!

A tote with the Loopy sheep on the front, some Herhsy's kisses, a sock pattern, an adorable sheep calendar, and a skein of Enchanted Knoll sock yarn! I was, once again, thrilled. Not only do I have a fresh new set of DPN's AND extra tape measures, but I also have a spiffy new bag and (even more) sock yarn! The yardage totally counts toward my yearly intake, though. But that's ok; I'm working on the second sock of my Risata pair, and they're moving fairly quickly.

I think tonight I'll finish up those socks and watch Torchwood: Children of Earth on Netflix.

Oh, and did I mention that I have a 7-page paper due tonight? That I turned in at FOUR THIRTY this afternoon?!? HAH!

03 March, 2010

No WoW Wednesday

Because my classes are in the evenings, I tend to go to sleep late, wake up late, and play a lot of video games. I've been playing World of Warcraft with some dear friends since the game started in 2004, and it's really easy to just log in for a minute or two and get sucked into several hours of laughing and pwning with a group of buddies.

Thus I have dubbed today "No WoW Wednesday." Well, today and every other Wednesday. While I don't log in every day - or even every other day - having a specific day seems to keep me more motivated to do other things.

I've also started logging off when my 9-5 friends do instead of staying up with the late night crowd. That means I'm out by 10 or 10:30 and have an hour or two to listen to audiobooks and knit. It used to be that I would either knit or play WoW in a day, but now I manage to do both.

Time management is not my strong suit, can you tell?

Anyway, since I added 4.7 MILES of yarn to my yearly total at Stitches 2010 I've felt a little pressure to start chipping away at the Stash Equilibrium Goal, and by default also at the 12-Mile Quest. Thus I present my Peasant Rib Socks:

Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in "Ashburn" and "Chocolate"
243 yds total

This is the first time I've tried anything like this. I've made peasant heel socks before, but the pull across my instep in a way that heel flap socks don't. I'm messing with a way to make peasant heel socks that also have a heel flap to give my high arches the ease they need:

It's relatively successful. However, these are only 56-stitch socks, and I don't really like the way they are so stretched on my leg. I'm debating either a smaller needle/larger cast-on combo, or perhaps a 60-stitch cast-on and then decreasing down to 56 stitches after the heel. I think I'll try both. Additionally, I think I'm going to knit with the extra picked up stitches for 1/2" or so before I start to decrease. (At this point, the non-knitters are rolling their eyes and the knitters are nodding in agreement. Such is the lot of those not involved in our obsessive, math-oriented hobby!)

What I really like is the contrasting heel/toe, especially because the peasant heel construction allows for replacement. I don't wear through my socks very quickly, but I like the option of replacing the heels should I snag them on an unfriendly shoe. And because my feet are fairly small - a 37 EU/7.5 US - I actually managed to squeeze this pair out of ONE skein of the main color sock yarn. That means that with a little tweaking, I could reliably get two pairs of plain socks out of 100g of yarn plus the contrasting color, leaving me with very few leftovers. The perfectionist in me is utterly pleased by this potential development.

In other news, THB and I watched The Informant last night. I thought a lot about this movie afterward and came up with a few notes:
  • Matt Damon is a fantastic actor, but why would he be cast as the anti-Jason Bourne? I didn't believe for a second that he was a bumbling FBI informant, having seen him kick ass and take names across 3 movies and like 12 continents.
  • Actors playing liars have a huge task in front of them. We already know they're playing a part, so their job is two-fold: we must buy that the actor is the character and that the character is telling the truth, otherwise the Grand Reveal at the end is all for naught.
  • If a script doesn't allow the actor time to draw the audience into the world of the con man, then the Grand Reveal is also all for naught.
  • Buster will always be Buster, and Biff will always be Biff, and it's really tough for me to take either of them seriously.
  • The music and comedic timing of this movie is brilliant. Damon's voiceovers are hilarious, and the 60's-style location splashes made me smile.
Next up is Brigadoon (1954), in Cinemascope no less.

01 March, 2010

Stitches 2010 - Continuing the Exercise

Well, THAT was a whirlwind of fun! I think my credit card caught fire at least twice. Oy.
AVFKW - 50/50 yak/silk in "Le Cirque"
You know how the other day I said I'm going to try to maintain stash equilibrium this year? I put a serious dent in that resolution this weekend, but based on last year's yardage totals, it's still easily do-able.
Pigeonroof Studios - Siren Too "Autumn Cherry"

Then again, the year is only two whole months old at the moment!

Stitches West 2010 started with Mom and I carefully marking our market floor maps so we could easily find the shops we wanted to visit. One of the challenges of Stitches is that the location of the entire thing is the same, but every year the booth numbers change, so one cannot rely on one's excellent sense of direction as a guide. But no matter - I did just fine on my own, thank you very much!

I hit Lisa Souza at the beginning. Her Hardtwist Merino Petite is one of my favorite yarns both to ogle and to knit with.
Lisa Souza Hardtwist Merino Petite - "Deep Sea"
Please don't be distracted by the fact that I haven't finished anything with her yarn; I am a process person! But of all the handdyers I have whose yarns I have used, I like the combination of the thinness and the spring factor in the HMP. I find them especially good for Cookie A's sock patterns. Because I like my socks to be snug, I have been experimenting with triming my stitch count back to 60 or even 56 stitches. But Cookie's patterns don't lend themselves well to adjustment in that way, so using the HMP and tiny-ass needles does the trick nicely.
Lisa Souza Hardtwist Merino Petite - "Printempo"
The above picture might look familiar. Ahem. (On another note, I'm looking at my pictures from last year and this, and last year is MUCH more interesting and better-lit. I need a new place to take pictures, but the light isn't super-cooperative in this house. Hmmm. Time to get creative!) I also decided to try out a new-to-me yarn base from Lisa mainly because the colorway looked better in it than in the HMP:
Timaru Sock Yarn - "Delft"
This is white yarn with flecks of Delft blue. The HPM base yarn is more off-white, so Timaru it was! I also picked up a couple (only two!) bumps of 50/50 merino/silk for spinning. I figured that 10 oz total of spinning fiber isn't completely unreasonable for someone who isn't spinning at all lately. Holla if you hear me!

Cynthia, Colleen and I all hit Tess's Designer Yarns at the same time and I walked away with this:

It's this really nice semi-solid SW merino that is destined for some kind of Hot-for-Teacher Sweater. I also bought a green version, but I misread the labels and instead of 3 skeins of 570 yards each for a CPH, I have 3 skeins of only 285 yards each. ARGH. I'll be calling the Maine store to see if I can arrange an exchange. But in the mean time, I have Creatively Dyed Yarn to console me!
Creatively Dyed Steele Sock Yarn - "Protea"Creatively Dyed Calypso Sock Yarn - "Roots"Creatively Dyed Calypso Sock Yarn - "South"Creatively Dyed Calypso Sock Yarn - "Dahomean"Creatively Dyed Calypso Sock Yarn - "Parade"

Oh yes. And lastly, here's a little Wool Candy for your enjoyment. I bought this along with the Pigeonroof Studios yarn at the Bobbin's Nest Afterparty, which was (as usual) super classy and a lot of fun.
Wool Candy Marzipan Sock - "Fresh Fig"Wool Candy Marzipan Sock - "Ice Cream"Wool Candy Marzipan Sock - "Cerise"Wool Candy Marzipan Sock - "Peaches"
I see many, many socks in my future. But that's fine because I'm still angling for a student teaching position up in Portland, where warm socks will be absolutely necessary most of the year, especially if I can realize my vision of being the teacher who wears cute skirts, knee-highs and kicky shoes. A girl can dream, right?