31 December, 2011

Finished Objects: 2011

1/1 - Green Vanilla Socks - 316 yds.
3/10 - Composition Scarf - 420 yds.
4/10 - Spidey Blanket #2 - 1738 yds.
5/13 - Hera Mountain Shawl - 1760 yds.
6/19 - Blueblood Island Shawl - 705 yds.
7/9 - Chantilly Lace yarn - 220 yds.
8/19 - Moderne Baby Blanket - 1603 yds.
8/24 - Shetland Shorty - 380 yds.
9/1 - Bright Fig Yarn - 716 yds.
9/5 - Be-Bop-a-Lula Yarn - 960 yds
9/10 - LD Experiment #1 - 48 yds
9/17 - Prairie Lady Yarn - 132 yds.
9/29 - Sacred Scarf - 652 yds.
10/6 - High Seas Shawl - 920 yds.

23 December, 2011


1. I got my family tickets to see It's A Wonderful Life at Ye Old Local Movie Theater. Not one of the 6 of us has ever seen it, so perhaps this will be the beginning of a lovely new Christmas tradition. Equally possible: we will be cynical while my brothers and I sip hot buttered rum out of a flask all night. Either way, fun will be had by all!

2. What is WITH the sudden Lord of the Rings Love Fest going on in Blogland? Does JRR bring out the holiday spirit in readers, or did I miss something (besides The Hobbit trailer, which I admit gave me a warmness in my belly)? Tolkein may have been a visionary, but any good editor worth their salt should have picked up on the ridiculosity of naming your two main villains basically the same name, and then repeating that scheme with two main lady-loves. Plus, I don't care how the leaves crackle underfoot while you walk across the entirety of New Zealand. Twice.

Pull your pitchforks out of storage if you must, but in your heart you know you can't always keep Sauron and Saruman straight.

3. I need more bookshelves. Good thing it's the holiday season! Maybe there's an IKEA gift card in my future...

21 December, 2011

Who DOES That?!?

Every once in awhile, I astonish myself with the scope of my... let's not call it delusion, let's call it ambition

Three days ago, or exactly a week until Christmas, I decided to knit my Christmas gifts. I'll pause to let that sink in. 

Now, I'm not quite delusional ambitious enough to think that even I, with my super powers of knitting at an average pace, could finish a hat and 7 pairs of socks - three of them for mens' size 11-13 feet - in a week. On a good day of watching Dr. Who I can crank out one sock for myself! But it's looking like I'm not in any shape to finish the 11-Mile Quest this year. I did work hard and there are several pieces on the needles within a few hours solid work of counting toward the total, but I miscalculated somewhere and I'm really only in the 6-Mile range when I thought I was farther along. Therefore everyone* is getting yarn for Christmas. 


Then I will knit furiously and hope to have everyone's gifts finished by a reasonable date in January. I won't lie to you, holidaylettes, there may be a pair of socks that waits to get Kitchenered together until Jan 1. But you won't tell on me, will you?

There is a wrap-up post coming some time next week (maybe. I've at least been thinking about a wrap-up post) and a solid set of goals for 2012, which includes Reading Many Books and Finishing the Quest as well as perhaps Finding a Job: The Horror! and Applying to Grad School.

*with the exception of Sister of the Art, whose box to OH CANADA is in the mail! Send pictures!! 

12 December, 2011

It Is December.

Polarlings, you may not have noticed, but it is now the end month of 2011. This means many things!

- I have been a year older for six days
- The 11-Mile Quest is coming to a close
- Christmas is coming and, I assume, the goose is getting fat. Deposit your pennies to the left with all your stuff. 
- The goodreads challenge is nearly over and I am on hooks of the tentered variety over whether or not I will complete my challenge there. Although I'm not sure why, since I completed my original challenge in October and then upped the number of books. I wasn't the Juneau Public Library Summer Reading Champion of 1985-89 for nothing, people. 
- One year from today, my darling CoffeeBean will marry her adorable Theater Teacher. There will be copious tears on my part and I'm saying now that someone may just crash their beach wedding in Hawaii unless that someone (me) gets family dispensation to be there legitimately. 

SO! How many weekends have you spent at home since I last gabbled at you? I have spent... zero.

First I went to Tahoe for my friend Sara's birthday, where it snowed and we stayed in a cabin and generally had a delightful time.

Then the next weekend I got on a plane

And ended up in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico for two weeks where I did nothing more strenuous than debate about whether to lay at the beach or at the pool, and whether it would be a rum-and-chocolate or tequila-and-lime kind of afternoon.

It is SO HARD being me.
THB and I participated in the lesser-known variant of Settlers of Catan called "Stack Your Pieces As High As Possible While Waiting for your Stepfather to Make His Move"

I win! 
We went to a beautiful restaurant

Where the dudes lit our dessert on fire!

I came back happy and tan. It was awesome.

And then the next weekend I drove to San Luis Obispo to sit literally at the feet of the amazing Abby Franquemont, who is a Master Chinchero Weaver and also a Bad Ass Spinner AND, like yours truly, brown on the inside.

And then this last weekend I flew to Phoenix, AZ for my friend Randy's wedding, of which I have no pictures because even though I packed very carefully for 4 days to make sure I had everything I needed to look stunning, I managed to leave my phone and my camera battery charger on the counter. My remembering skills are NOT SO GOOD at 6:30am, it would seem. However, rest assured that I did, indeed, look stunning and managed to be charming and witty for an entire weekend and also managed not to laugh in the face of a Certain Ex, whose current girlfriend is twenty-three years old. Poor child.

And in all this time, I have finished exactly ONE knitted project:

Ella Rae Lace Merino, 290 yds.
I have started and nearly finished several more, but then I look at my pitiful yardage for the year and think, "I could just finish this after January 1 and have a good head start to NEXT year's 12-Mile Quest.." So now there's a box in my room with several all-but-cast-off projects in it. I am nothing if not resourceful!

And then there's this waiting for me as a carrot for finishing a bright red something for a certain Sister of the Art:

Who knew carrots look so much like brain candy?!?
I'm so close. SO CLOSE.

04 November, 2011

Check It!

Lookie what came in the mail today!

These are the s-m-r-t books about women's lives in Regency, Victorian, and Georgian England. I also got a couple of mass market fantasy novels to read while I'm in Mexico this month, season 6 of How I Met Your Mother, and season 1 of Big Bang Theory; but those aren't quite so important-looking so they didn't make it into the picture. They also already had places on my shelves, while these need a solid foot of room next to one another. Did I hear someone say "more bookshelves"?

I've been thinking more about knitting a sweater this month, and I've pretty much decided against it. I have a lot of knitting already going on that I'd like to finish in order to complete the 11-Mile Quest, and it's already the fourth of November! Plus there's the wedding coming up in early December that I'd like to knit a shawl for if possible. I've been on a finishing kick over the last couple of days; the nearly-finished items sitting on my coffee table finally banded together and glared at me hard enough that I pulled out my darning needle and went to town:

Day-Glo Socks, Regia and Araucania Solid, 263 yds.
Plain k3p1 rib socks over 56 stitches. How about that neon, huh? Wow.

Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock "Chocolate" and Lisa Souza Hardtwist Merino Petite "South Pacific," 414 yds.
(Large white paperclip for scale)
This was an experiment that I'm quite pleased with! I held both yarns double throughout, and ended up with only 3g total left over. How's that for using up half-skeins of yarn!?! I got the idea from Brie, who regularly doubles up her huge Palette stash to make sweaters with unreal yardage and thus achieves her mileage goals much more often than I do.

Karabella Aurora 8 "Ocean," 159 yds.
I was tickled pink to find these wooden buttons in my button tin last night! I don't remember buying them or even whether I had a specific project in mind for them, but I'm thrilled with how they contrast with the blue of the cowl. They're anchored in the back with random 3/4" buttons so that they don't pull against the yarn itself.

I just realized that none of these 3 projects ever even made it to my Ravelry projects page. That's how scattershot my knitting has been lately! For the end of the year, I'd like to finish my Tide Pool Pi and Rosebud shawls, as well as the Verbena yarn and perhaps the Sacred Tempest if it can stop driving me crazy. I have an idea about re-knitting the sleeves from the shoulder down so I can try them on as I go that might make it worthwhile.

But first, a project I've been sitting on for FAR too long.

02 November, 2011

Decisions, Decisions

I don't know if you've looked around in the last day or so, but it's November, my poppets. Where I grew up, November would mean we'd had our winter clothes out for over a month already, that the air smelled like cold, and that five months of slush were about to fall out of the sky. Not enough to make a white Christmas, mind you. Just enough to be miserable and make the roads treacherous when it got dark - which was between about 3pm and 8am.

Here in California, however, the cooler weather (a predicted high of 75 today) means that my tomatoes have found a new lease on life:

I sometimes think that this is too far south for me. There is definitely sweater-and-scarf weather here, but true jacket weather is something I don't encounter unless I go up to Lake Tahoe. Speaking of which, that's happening this weekend and I've discovered that with the exception of Cute Fall Boots and one pair of running shoes, I have no footwear that covers both my toes and the tops of my feet. My "winter" shoes are Doc Marten's Mary Janes, for goodness sake!

Ahh, how far the Alaskan has fallen. Unlike the leaves on the trees outside my window.

My October knitting was somewhat lackluster, but I do have some almost-finished objects to show you! When I did my Great Stash Cataloguing of 2011, I pulled out a couple of skeins of yarn that could make some good quick knits. I got around to one of them in the form of this:

Lace Ribbon Cowl, Karabella Yarns
A simple pattern that looks pretty impressive when it's finished is always nice! I knitted it flat and it just needs the ends sewn in and buttons. I don't think I'll even bother with buttonholes; instead I'll just tuck the buttons into the lace wherever is appropriate!

This will eventually be a baby sweater:

Even though at the moment it looks like nothing whatever, all it needs are sleeves and blocking. I was originally going to knit matching baby sweaters for my friends Piper and Kelly, but since Kelly isn't finding out the sex of her baby until December when her husband comes home from Afghanistan and Piper isn't the sort of person to put her baby girl in blue, I instead promised them sweaters after Kelly knows what she's having. Plus, this "newborn sweater" would probably fit Evelyn. Who is two.

Coconuts not included.
In the mean time, the OTHER sweater attempts have become something I haven't knitted in quite awhile:

I only have one skein of that striped stuff, so I'm combining it with some Arucania sock yarn I got cheap from WEBS last year. It's a cheerful combination, non? And there will be enough left over in the green to make a whole pair of socks later.

I've also come to the border of my Tide Pool Pi shawl with just over 25% of my yarn left to go - right on target! Now I just need a border pattern. I'm actually going to dig through my collection today and see if I can find something suitable.

And lastly, it's National Sweater Knitting Month, that offshoot of National Novel Writing Month in which knitters try to knit a whole sweater in - you guessed it - a month. I'm waffling on this one; should I really start a new project with the end of my 11-Mile Quest looming on the horizon? You've all seen how terrible I am at finishing fitted garments. Perhaps instead I should tackle the too-tight sleeves on my Sacred Tempest sweater and finish the damn thing. But then there's the Vivian sweater, and the Blackberry Cabled Cardigan, and of course the fabled Central Park Hoodie.

What's a girl to do?

16 October, 2011

The Progression

First I got a lovely skein of yarn from a friend.

Gifted Helen's Lace, original color
It sat in my stash for a year - or three - and then I got the brilliant idea to overdye it because the colors are just a little too variegated for my taste.

Helen's Lace, overdyed with Jaquard Sapphire Blue
It goes from looking like autumn in Vermont to storm-tossed seas, which inspired its use in a lace pattern called - appropriately enough - High Seas. Then came the inevitable "looking like bubble bath stage."

It is at this point that I always have to go back through my knitting photos and remind myself that I am not screwing up the pattern and to soldier through it. Then I get to the end and I gleefully drop it in a bowl of water to soak; pull out my blocking mats, wires, and pins; squeeze the shawl as dry as I can; then lay it out on the mats to pin.

At this point I usually get "help."

I stretch and pin and stretch some more until the lace creaks. It's a delightfully creepy sound, and it always rides that line between glee and terror that some thread will snap and all my hard work will be for naught. (Homophones are funny! Work with me here.)

Then I chase the cat out, let the piece dry, and get to my favorite part: pulling out the wires and pins. The shawl just stays where I pinned it, all openwork and flat where hours before there was a curled up, bumpy mess.

"Rafting on the High Seas," Helen's lace overdye, 920 yards.
Then I give it to my cousin for her wedding, we go hang out on a boat in the San Francisco Bay, and the whole family gets delightfully sauced while watching the Snowbirds fly overhead during Fleet Week.

Mom, THB, Skye (BFF of the bride), and me. 
On second thought, that last bit might be my favorite part.

30 September, 2011

Like So Many Things...

I didn't succeed in finishing 7 miles of knitting by October first. I really like lofty goals, especially because when I don't meet them I'm not overly fussed. I really, really would like to finish the 11-Mile Quest by December 31, though. For reals.

I did manage to churn out a bunch of knits, stay project-focused (mostly), and rekindle my love of spinning. I also managed to not buy any more yarn.  I made a very successful Yarn Trade with Spilly Jane in which I gave her my poor unloved Kauni and she gave me some Mad Tosh Merino Light and some Knit Picks Shadow - I'm pretty sure I won that round, but shhh! The overall yardage in was higher than the yardage out, but at least it's yards I'll actually end up knitting. My last September finished knit is my Sacred Scarf, which I cast off and sewed the ends into almost exactly as my train from the Bay Area pulled in to Sacramento yesterday evening. I'm quite pleased with it and will not be giving it away no matter who asks. Unless it's The 4 Closer, because she's effing incredible and I would bribe her with knitting to be my friend if I thought she'd let me. 

Regia Silk/Wool and Cascade Heritage Silk, 652 yds. total
But anyway. 

I have a bunch of things with a good amount of yardage knitted into them already. My High Seas shawl has only 60 rows and the edging to be done, the Tide Pool Pi is less finished but it's been TV knitting, which has to share time with TV spinning (and you know how well that's been going! Yay!). My Rosebud Shawl hasn't seen much action, but a girl can only focus on so many things at once, right? Plus I haven't quite figured out Fleegle's no-purl garter stitch method, so there is a LOT of purling. Ick.

And then there are the bebehs. I'm going to a joint baby shower with two of my good friends on October 29th. They're besties and of course are due right around the same time, but in a fit of pique that can ONLY be aimed at me, one of them refuses to figure out the gender of her baby until it's born. I ask you, how am I supposed to knit matching baby outfits if I don't know whether or not I can make this adorable baby dress?

Evelyn thinks this is SO RUDE. 
And then there's a wedding on December 10th in Arizona that I have to go to, and my Awful Ex will be there so naturally I need to look smashing and have something I can throw over my shoulders that exactly matches my dress and I can say, "Oh, this old thing?" Because that's how you do when you see your Awful Ex at a wedding and you're the only single people there. My secret weapons are: a Groupon for 6 weeks of CrossFit and the 2 weeks I'll be spending in Mexico in November.  And some killer shoes.*

Well, it lacks 50 minutes to October first, so I think I'll plug myself back in to Pride and Prejudice and see if I can knock some of those rows out of the High Seas shawl. I could conceivably finish it tomorrow, and then there would be pictures! 

*Whether they slay him or kill me first is up for debate.

19 September, 2011

The Long Draw

I've decided it's time to learn how to spin.

"What?" I hear you say. "Isn't that handspun in your last post?" Well, yes, it is. And I spun it, which means I know how to spin already.

What I mean is, I'd like to know that such-and-such a fiber would be best spun such-and-such a way, to be able to spin multiple thicknesses of yarn on purpose (as opposed to varying degrees of thin), to spin fluffy yarns or tight sock yarns as I choose, and to spin stuff like this for fun:
Sparkles! Flowers! So cheerful! 

Puffy! The orange reminds me of a certain favorite Sister of the Art for some reason...

Basically, I want to be the boss of my spinning.

Now that my desires have been established, let me take you back to the very early days of my current knitting career. I learned to knit English style, with the working yarn in my right hand. In its infinite wisdom, the Internet informed me that this was not, in fact, the only way to knit! I found a video, watched it a mazillion times, cursed a lot, and learned to knit Continental, with the working yarn in my left hand. It was, to say the least, an interesting experience to take something my muscles already knew how to do and try to change it.

Learning to spin long draw is much like that experience. Here is my first attempt, rudely chain-plied and completely unstable, unstructured and not really good for anything:

48 yards!
Still, it's finished, and I learned something. For the next attempt I dug into my Copperpot Woolies bag and pulled out 5.1 oz of the Prairie Lady colorway. I don't really know why I bought this one, although I suspect the wool fumes may have something to do with it. The colors aren't my favorite (what gave it away?), so it was first in line to become Long Draw Experiment #2:

132 yds., sport-to-bulky weight
This one worked out better, although I still have some serious kinks to work out with the next experiment, which will happen when I come back from Portland next week.

In the mean time, I've revived a project I started back when I was still living in San Jose. I haven't done a lot of spinning since then so I have no idea why it's easier this time around, but it is. When I started spinning this Falkland from Pigeon Roof Studios, it immediately spun very fine. I've never really encountered a yarn that "wanted" to spin at a certain weight, but this one definitely does. With a very little fluffing and pre-drafting - which might account for it being easier to spin now - it wound onto the bobbin at a very satisfactory rate.

I don't have any illusions that this yarn will be finished before October; I got 2 braids as a gift from my friend Colleen that weight in at 232 grams, of which I've spun... 32 grams. It'll make a lovely addition to my spun yarn total by the end of the year, though!

08 September, 2011

Fiber Surprise!

On Monday I delved into my Box of Surprise Spinning and pulled out one of the Big Bags. What can I say? After a weekend of completed spinning projects, I was feeling cocky.
Remember me from Monday? I knew you would.
Even though I packed the bags myself, and even though I thought I had an idea of what could be in it, I still jumped up and down a little and squealed "Ooooooo! Yay!" when I opened it.

It feels like sheepy clouds.
I should hide things from myself more often if I'm that easily delighted, is what I'm saying.

05 September, 2011

UFO Files: Be-Bop-a-Lula Yarn

I woke up this morning convinced that my calves would be abominably sore; after all, I plied roughly 8.5 ounces of yarn last night!


I actually laid in bed and stretched experimentally for a few minutes before I realized that roller derby had given me a gift in the form of Calves of Doom (not to be confused with the Ass of Doom or the Thighs of Doom, which generally follow the Calves in short order. Oh, derby.).

When I was preparing to go to Coal City last summer I weighed out a bump of Crown Mountain Farms superwash merino fiber from my (extensive) collection. I wanted a 3-ply, so I divided it into 3 smaller bumps by weight and took it with me to Illinois, where I got through about 2 2/3 bobbins before I came back to sunny California.

The singles have sat in my Loet Victoria bag ever since, waiting patiently for their revival.

After finishing the Bright Fig yarn on Friday, I pulled out the Vic and finished up the singles on Saturday, then spent the bulk of yesterday plying on the Schact while watching the last few episodes of The Tudors on Netflix.

Bobbin #1: 3-ply marl

I wound the yarn off the bobbins this morning, soaked it, and dried it on a rack outside my back door.

Ooo, kinky. 
One skein is a traditional 3-ply, as I had planned, and the second is a chain-ply. They are both bouncy and cheerful and the pictures don't really do justice to how green the yarn is. I was worried that it would be over-plied and kink up all over the place like the picture above, but after a soak and dry, it's perfectly balanced! Hurrah!

3-ply, 510 yds.
Chain-ply, 450 yds.
I'm not a huge fan of the marled look of the first skein - although it's growing on me in all the delight of LOOKIT WHAT I MADE!! - so I tried the chain-ply to see if I would like it better. I'm not certain that I do, but if looking through pictures of handspun on Ravelry has taught me anything, it's that going from fiber to yarn to finished garment can completely surprise me. Perhaps I'll knit dueling baby sweaters and see which one comes out the victor!

Next up: learning to spin long-draw with some ancient Copperpot Woolies bats from The Stash! But first, what mystery fiber does this bag contain?
Something AWESOME, I have no doubt!

02 September, 2011

In Which I Make Yarn

I always have a nagging suspicion that making my own yarn is ridiculous, especially given how much commercially-spun yarn I already have. On the surface, it's a no-win situation: the fiber costs just as much as yarn that's already made, it takes for-ev-er to create, and in the end I'm left with yet another material as opposed to a finished product.

But spinning is more than that, somehow. It is meditative in a way that knitting often is not. That isn't to say that knitting is not meditative; it's just a different kind of meditation. One that recently has involved a disproportionate amount of swearing, in fact. Not being able to count tends to hinder proper knitting.

The meditation of spinning comes in the rhythm of treadling and the quiet whirr of the wheel; on my cherry wood Schact it sounds like rain and sometimes I can almost smell wet earth.

For a long time I've neglected my spinning for one reason or another. Some of those reasons are pretty small - as in less than 10 feet - but they make a difference and I'm suddenly interested again. For this project I wanted to try lining up the plies of a 2-ply to make a self-striping yarn. It's more difficult than it looks because unless your spinning is perfectly even, there's bound to be some differences in thickness.

Clearly my spinning is not even.
In retrospect I probably should have done a simple, straight-up spinning project first to remind my muscles how this whole process works and to iron out my singles. That pile of wasted singles definitely took some of the meditation out of plying, even if I did have a disc of Fringe season 1 to keep me from shrieking obscenities at no one but myself.

All in all, however, I'm pretty chuffed with the finished yarn:
Girl on the Rocks 100% merino in "Bright Fig." 716 yards, 2-ply, 101g. 
I'm looking forward to winding it into a yarn cake and showing you all how cool it looks. Now I just need to find a pattern...