Saturday, 28 December 2013

Gift Wrap 2013 (Part 1)

The time has finally come where I can show off the knitted lovelies that I've been working on for the last few months.

First up is the Lonely Tree Shawl, made for (and modelled by) my mother.  Isn't she adorable?


It was lovely to knit.  I had a false start in that I knit quite a bit of it before realizing that it was coming out much too small and the fabric too stiff, so I ripped it out and started over with bigger needles.  It was totally worth it.  The second time around was much nicer.  I'll admit I had a tough time giving this one away, it looked really good on me!  I guess it looks good on my mom, too.  I guess.

Second is a double-knit piano scarf for my dad, the piano nerd.  


Double knitting is pretty fun, once you get the hang of it.  The way it works is that you are creating two layers of knitted fabric simultaneously so each side is the reverse of the other.  For each white stitch that I knitted, I purled a black stitch, and for each black stitch I knitted, I purled a white stitch.  I had to learn how to alternate between knitting and purling while holding two strands of yarn in one hand.  It was exactly as easy as it sounds to begin with (not easy), but like with anything, practice made perfect.  Well okay, if not perfect, practice made good enough.

Next is my take on a lumberjack hat for my brother.  

I wanted the look of the classic checkered plaid but couldn't find any existing patterns that were quite right, so I made this hat up as I went along.  I may write up the pattern yet but there wasn't much to it.  I can't take credit for the crown of the hat though, the envelope closure was suggested by a fellow knitter on Instagram, and it worked perfectly.  Another reason why social media is awesome!

The real fun of this hat though, is not the hat itself.  The hat was really only to go with the beard.


The beard part I did not design.  The beard was crocheted using this pattern and then sewn into the finished hat.  

If you have any friends, family, or loved ones that wish they could grow a beard (or insist on trying even though their genes and/or age are inadequate for the task), I highly recommend knitting or crocheting a beard for them.  It's great for two reasons:
  1. They get to (finally) have the awesome facial hair of their dreams.
  2. You don't have to look at their unsightly attempts in growing said facial hair.
After finishing up my gift knitting for the year, I began a gift for myself.  And then I finished it.  Truthfully, from start to finish it probably took between six and eight hours.  Apparently Malabrigo Rasta is amazing and I'm tempted to make all of next year's gifts from Rasta because it takes almost no time at all to knit.  All you need is two balls of Rasta and six hours and you end up with this:



A yummy, squishy, SUPER WARM seed stitch cowl to help block out the insanely cold winter we've been having, and are going to continue to have.  It can even double as a hood.


What's even better is that it makes me look shifty (as proven by the above picture) so it will help keep random people out of my business as well as keeping out the cold.  Bonus!

Stay tuned for parts 2 (and maybe 3)...

Sunday, 22 December 2013

The 11th hour

As I am writing this, the last of the Christmas knitting is in the sink for a quick soak before I lay it out to dry.  Not everything is completely done (there is a teeny bit of sewing and other finishing to happen after the last things have dried), but all the knitting is done.  This is very exciting for me, because Christmas is still two days away!  I actually finished early!

What is also exciting is that I can finally show this off, since it already lives in its new home.


This is an Age of Brass and Steam which I knit out of my Sweet Georgia handspun yarn.  This is a great, versatile pattern, good for any weight of yarn, and flexible enough that you can use all of your yarn.  I knit a lot of this while sitting beside the pool in Phoenix.  I didn't have a yarn scale with me, but somehow I had brought enough knitting karma with me that after I bound off, this is how much yarn I had left:

 

Okay so I was flying by the seat of my pants a bit but hey, it worked out!

It looked even better after blocking but I didn't plan picture taking very well (since there's about 15 minutes of daylight that I'm actually at home for these days), so this is the best I got before giving it away.  


It was a good knit, and excellent for handspun yarn.  I think I might be making another one for myself at some point.  You know, when I run out of other things that I want to knit for myself. *cough*

Now that my gift knitting is done for this year, I can get back to thinking about myself.  I have a number of things on the needles for myself already, but most of them are long term projects and none are looking to be finished anytime soon.  So, of course, the only solution is to start something new that will knit up quickly and easily.  I need me some instant gratification!

Good thing I have a couple of skeins of Malabrigo Rasta (bottom two skeins in the below picture) that I picked up last year.  I'm planning on making a simple seed stitch cowl out of them which will accomplish two things for me:

1. It will knit up relatively quickly and give me that satisfaction I crave of finishing a new item for myself.
2. It will help keep me  super warm in the the -30 C weather that we've been having lately.  Ridiculous!  We're exactly one day into the "official" start of Winter, and it's been as cold as January usually is for a month already!  Good thing I'm a Knitter.  Seriously.


The other two skeins in this picture, the two on the top, are some delicious merino I picked up in a teeny tiny shop on Salt Spring Island during my yarn binge in the summer.  They're a slightly different colour from the Rasta but they still go together pretty well.  Those two skeins are going to become a hat and mitten set, probably shortly after the cowl happens.  I'm thinking cables but I haven't decided on any patterns yet.

Time to go wrap some presents and wind some yarn!  My next post will be after Christmas since I won't have anything else to say until I can show off some more of this year's gifts.  I can hardly wait!!

Until then, Merry Christmas!  And remember, don't be a jerk.


Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Ornamental

My family has a lovely tradition at Christmas.  Every year, usually on the first Sunday of Advent, my mom will give my brother and I each a new ornament for the tree.  It usually has some significance to the events of the previous year.  I hesitate to say "always" because truthfully I can't place all of the ornaments anymore.  In theory there should be 28 of them now but I don't know for sure which they all are, I must be losing my memory with my advancing years.  Events that may have seemed significant at the time have now faded with the passage of time.  A tiny pink purse ornament must have meant something at one point, but I can't remember the significance now.  Maybe my increased interest in shopping when I became a teenager?

Now that I'm past the years that I was inflicted with braces, started dating, learned to drive, graduated high school, travelled on an airplane for the first time, graduated university, married the Enabler, and bought a house, my obsession with knitting is evidently the most significant part of the last couple of years.

Last year's ornament was an adorable knitting snowman:


And on the same theme, this year's ornament is an adorable snowman made out of balls of yarn.


I'm not criticizing my mother's choice of ornament to be sure, they're great!  She's right about the role that knitting has played in my life in the last few years.  I don't expect any ornament-worthy new developments in the next year, so Mom, better keep your eye out for more knitterly ornaments!

This past weekend my LYS had their annual fibre retreat.  It was lovely and relaxing, although I was surprisingly tired when it was over.  Who knew that sitting around by the pool, eating and drinking and knitting for two days could be so exhausting?

I'm really glad I decided to use my last few vacation days for the year for the few days after the retreat.  It's been a nice time to put up the tree, do a few chores around the house, take care of some long overdue appointments (like the dentist... ugh), and most importantly, knit (and watch Gossip Girl... I mean thought-provoking documentaries... yeah...).

One of the classes I took at the retreat was making beaded ornaments.  I finished my ornament up today and now it has a place on the tree along with the many other knitted decorations.  


I definitely need to make more of these, but I don't have enough beads for another one.  I suppose I'll have to go shopping, since I'm certainly not on a bead diet!

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Scatterbrain

My holiday knitting is coming along well this year, surprisingly so.  I finished another gift today and even did a small side project.  No, you can't have any pictures, at least not until after the holiday season.  You'll just have to put up with me talking about it for another month and a half.  I'm really excited about a lot of it this year though.  Not that I'm not excited about it in other years, but there's a few things that I really can't wait to show off!

Until then though, I do have other things going on, the next few weeks especially are pretty busy.  The annual retreat for my LYS is coming up, so today I read over the list of supplies that I'll need for the classes I'm taking (beaded ornaments and knitting with wire).  I noticed I needed 3.5 mm needles for the beaded ornaments class, and while I do have 3.5 mm circular needles, I've never gotten around to getting dpns in that size.  I was pretty sure that I did have 3.25 mm needles though (which I think is close enough, especially since my knitting tends towards looseness), so I went to my needle roll and found three 3.25 mm needles.  Double pointed needles generally come in sets of five or six, and it's pretty tough to do anything with just three, so I began to worry.  Where could they have gone?

I racked my brain and went through my mental list of projects in-progress and decided the needles were probably in with my completed hexipuffs.  I unearthed the bin where they were, dumping a bunch of stuff on the floor in the process, and the needles were not there.

Shortly thereafter it clicked.  I had been using the needles (all five of them) for a sock project and then needed those needles for something else, but apparently I only needed three of them, because I mashed all of the stitches of the sock onto two of the needles and shoved it back into the bottom of my old knitting bag.  When I finished the other project (whatever it was, maybe it WAS the hexipuffs?) I just put the needles back into the needle roll, evidently forgetting completely about where I took the needles from.


How great is this sock?  And I totally stopped knitting it even though I was pretty close to being done, and then nearly completely forgot about it.  The yarn is handspun from my first few months of having a wheel, and this is the first knitting I did with my own handspun.  This sock deserves to be finished, and it deserves to have a mate.  I think I have to finish this sock now that I found it again.  Also, I need the needles for the class at the retreat.  I have stitch holders but I'm pretty sure they're holding stitches on yet another unfinished project.  Yeah that one needs finishing too, I'll get to it eventually... I hope.

Dear Readers, this is one of the many reasons why I am on a yarn diet.  Awesome projects like this that need to be finished so they can see the light of day.  I'm going to keep telling myself that, anyway.

I've been working more on the Starfish Stole, however finishing it isn't urgent anymore as I'm not going to my company dinner after all.  The only disappointing thing about not going is that I won't have a fancy dinner to wear a fancy new wrap.  It probably wouldn't have been done by then anyway.  This is how far I am:


I've still got a bunch of the first ball of yarn and I have another whole ball of yarn still.  That's good because I'm hoping it will end up being pretty big.  I'm a little worried it will end up being too short since I'm making it wider than it's supposed to be.  It will stretch a lot though, and it looks a lot better when stretched out.  The above picture does not give any indication of what it actually looks like.

This is more like it:


Kinda excited, not gonna lie.

It's officially winter here now, but I've been meaning to get my favourite winter scarves and shawls washed and ready to wear for awhile.  Yesterday I finally washed and re-blocked my Juneberry Triangle which I made over two years ago and is still one of my favourites.  It's made of Cascade 220 so it's pretty sturdy, and I decided to try a bit of experiment.

Usually when I'm blocking things I do it in the office and keep the door closed to keep the cats away from it, since I'm never sure what they'll do.  Yesterday after pinning it all out I left the office door open, and sure enough, it didn't take long before this happened.


I didn't think much of it, because I know other knitters have cats that like to lie on their knitted things while they're blocking and it's not a big deal.  I figured he'd get bored/lonely after a short while and then leave it alone, which was what happened.

Or so I thought.

This morning I checked on it and discovered that it had been rumpled up a bit despite my pinning, and there was a small snag (fixable but still annoying).  Worse than that though, was that someone, and I'm not naming names, had left an unpleasant surprise for me on the shawl.  Given the history of the certain unnamed someone(s) leaving unpleasant surprises for me in certain places around the house (the floor mats by the doors, the ottoman, the bedroom rug, the bed, etc...), I really should have known better.  I'm calling it a learning experience, and while I'm re-washing and re-pinning it out for another hour I will tell myself that at least now I know.  And, I will leave the door closed.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Crochet magnon

As usually happens when I'm deep into Christmas knitting, I recently started getting crazy urges to knit for myself.  I'll admit that I have things on the needles for myself already, but they've either been on the needles for so long that I'm tired of them, or they will still take so much longer to finish that knitting on them doesn't fulfill my selfish desires.

Of course, that means casting on something new, based on the yarn that I have available to me (yes, the yarn diet is still going strong).

For the last couple of holiday seasons I've dreamed of having a luxurious handmade wrap, probably in black because it goes with everything.  I remembered that on one of the Enabler's trips to Seattle he'd brought me back a couple of skeins of a black fingering weight alpaca/nylon blend which I thought would be perfect for said wrap.  So I wound it up and set about choosing a pattern.


I remembered seeing a lovely wrap in a SweetGeorgia Yarns newsletter awhile ago, and thought it would be the perfect wrap pattern for my perfect yarn.  It's called the Starfish Stole and it's gorgeous.

There was just one small hiccup, which you may have guessed already...  It's crochet, not knitting.

*dun dun DUUUUUN*

Many knitters (including some I know personally) have this attitude toward crochet:



I'm not averse to crochet, I just haven't done it in a long time, and in general I prefer knitting.  That said, I was an avid crocheter before I was an avid knitter.  I crocheted a number of blankets (one even of my own design), toys, slippers, and other items, before I was comfortable knitting anything more complicated than a dishcloth.  So, in a way, going back to crochet is like going back to my roots.  It's where my love of yarn began.

Learning how to crochet well took me longer than learning how to knit well.  Knitting is orderly, and crochet feels rather chaotic and random in comparison.  In fact, I don't think it's fair to compare them, because they are actually very different.  So, instead of trying to explain the differences, I've prepared a short list of crochet pros and cons:

Pros

1. Crochet is forgiving.  If you don't put the crochet hook in exactly the right place, it probably won't be that noticeable, depending on where in the row it is.  Generally you want to keep the beginning and end of each row pretty tidy, but everything in the middle, meh...

2. If you do make a noticeable mistake, or do the wrong number of chain stitches, or whatever, it's easy to fix.  You just take the hook out and pull the yarn back past where the mistake was made, put the hook back into the loop of yarn, and try again.  There's no tinking or dropped stitches or worrying about stitches slipping off the needle.

3. Crochet is fast.  I've crocheted a whole gigantic blanket in less than two weeks, a pair of slippers over two evenings, a toy in a weekend, and I wouldn't consider myself all that speedy.

4. There's no "binding off".  Once you're finished, you're finished, and you don't have to worry about leaving enough yarn for the bind off edge.


Cons

1. Starting the project is usually a bit tedious, and when doing a long chain of stitches to begin the project, it's easy to lose count.  The chain foundation and the first row is often the hardest part as it involves a lot of counting and making sure the pattern is being set up properly.  It's very easy to make mistakes and ripping it out completely and starting over at least once is nearly guaranteed (for me, anyway).

2. It can be tricky to learn once one has already learned how to knit, especially if they have learned to knit English style as opposed to Continental style.  With crochet you pretty much have to hold the yarn in your non-dominant hand.  Actually I don't know this for sure, but I have no idea how someone would crochet while managing the yarn and the hook both with one hand.  Anyway that would just be weird... no judgement.

3. Certain friends of mine who are dyed-in-the-wool knitters look down on crochet as being a lesser craft (see above comic) and sneer when the word "crochet" is mentioned.  (Secretly I think they're just jealous because they don't know how... shhhh)

But most importantly, and perhaps most catastrophically...

4. It makes me delusional.

Because I have this idea in my head that crochet is SUPER FAST, I've convinced myself that I can finish this wrap before my company's annual dinner and dance in a month.  Well, it's four weeks from tomorrow, so if I do want to wear this to the dinner it has to be done in four weeks from yesterday at the latest to allow for blocking time.

This is how far I am.


For those who are interested, this is attempt number three.  The first attempt was too loose, so I ripped it out and started over with a smaller hook.  The second attempt was a good gauge, but I realized my yarn was thinner than the called-for yarn and therefore I was making a scarf, not a wrap.  On attempt number three I started with a foundation chain of 124 stitches instead of 84 like in the pattern to make it substantially wider, and I'm happy with it now.  Also, on attempts one and two I learned the pattern and re-learned how to read crochet terminology, so as long as I don't run out of yarn, I expect smooth sailing from here on in.

Like I said, I'm delusional.  Factor in the fact that I've still got a ton of Christmas knitting to do, and it will take a miracle (a Christmas miracle, perhaps?) for me to get this done on time.

It is pretty, though.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Crushed

As is to be expected, I've been doing some knitting lately.  I've been working on some Christmas knitting, and also on the Live Long and Prosper socks for the Enabler.


The weird thing is, I haven't really been making that much progress, which I realized recently is kind of bad.  On one hand, I still have two months until Christmas.  On the other hand, there's only two months left until Christmas!  Part of my lack of progress is that I was about a third or maybe halfway through one of the gifts and then decided it needed to be a looser gauge so I ripped out and started over with bigger needles.  But that didn't really set me back as much as you might think.

No, my problem lately is of a much more insidious nature.  My problem is a little thing called Candy Crush.


It is a most addictive game, made worse by the fact that if you link it to your facebook account, you can see how far your friends are in the game and what scores they got, adding an element of competition to what is essentially Bejeweled with cooler special pieces, challenges, and better sound effects.  There's also the fact that you can run out of lives, making it impossible to play without stopping, but making it just that more addictive.  Ugh.  I swear, it's maddening.

So this morning, after I had played for a little while (and run out of lives), I decided I was going to get out of bed and do something productive.  I also had a craving for peanut butter and banana and muffins, so a quick search led me to this recipe.  There were other recipes that looked better/more interesting, but I chose this one because I had everything that it called for on hand.

While making them I had an off moment where I actually dropped one of my eggs on the floor, something that I've never done before.  Thankfully the cats stayed put instead of running over to investigate like usual, so I was able to clean it up without incident.

I had another off moment when mixing together the wet ingredients and smelled something that I can only describe as unpleasant.  I had tested most of the ingredients before adding them just to make sure they were still good.  The milk was best before tomorrow but it was still totally fine.  The bananas had been in the freezer awhile but they smelled like bananas should.  The peanut butter was still definitely okay, and the eggs were most certainly not too old.  Having confirmed that the usual culprits were all in order, I still couldn't figure out what it was so I continued on.  I had a tiny taste of batter before spooning it all into the pan.  It didn't taste quite right but sometimes muffin batter doesn't taste that good.  Having already made the batter I decided there was no harm in baking them, and the problem would probably fix itself during the baking process.


20 minutes later I had some delicious looking muffins...

But they did not taste delicious.  The texture was okay (not amazing), but there was not enough peanut butter or banana flavour for what I was looking for.  I'm going to chalk that up to the recipe not having enough peanut butter or banana in it.  I'm going to look for one with more of both next time.  However, there was still a somewhat rancid aroma and a touch of an unpleasant flavour.

Now, this is somewhat of an anomaly for me.  I may not be a great cook, but I do pride myself on being able to turn out some delicious baked goods.  I've very successfully made many amazing cookies, brownies, cupcakes, and muffins.  Don't get me wrong, I've had a number of baking mishaps.  Like the time I nearly added rancid peanut butter to the mix (caught it just in time).  The time that I decided to substitute applesauce for ALL of the vegetable oil in a cupcake recipe (the texture was bizarre and we had to throw out the whole batch).  The time I had meticulously gathered all of the ingredients for some decadent brownies, and had forgotten to buy flour (I sent the Enabler out to get some and everything turned out fine).  I know I'm not infallible in the kitchen, but usually I can pinpoint exactly where I went wrong.

In this case, I'm stumped.  The milk and peanut butter were both fine, and yet they still kind of taste like sour milk and rancid peanut butter.  The only other thing I can think of is that the oil was bad.  There was only two tablespoons of vegetable oil in the recipe, so I used some sunflower oil.  I don't bake a lot with vegetable oil, since most of the recipes I make use butter.  In desperation I thought to check the date on the oil, and saw it was best before October 2012.  Does oil actually go bad?  I smelled it and it didn't smell great but I compared it to the smells of the other oils I have (grapeseed and olive), and it was stronger smelling but not exactly rancid smelling.

Now I'm disappointed and hungry.  That was going to be my breakfast... and lunch, probably.

I should probably stick to knitting instead.

Well, at least until I get a full set of lives.

Friday, 18 October 2013

This is how I roll

It's Friday night and I've got the house to myself.  So I cracked open this tasty libation.  Best part of drinking alone is that you don't have to share.


Seriously though, this is incredibly delicious.  I think I'm going to have to get some more of them and hoard them for when I'm home alone.  I'll probably have to convert part of my yarn cabinet into a secret beer fridge for myself...

And then, since I have the house to myself and I don't have anyone else's feet to contend with, I pulled out a bunch of yarn and put it all where we usually put our feet while watching TV.  I'm not going to leave it there (maybe), but I wanted to take it out and see what it all looked like together.


That is what appears to be all of my partial balls of solid wool or wool blend worsted weight yarn.  I might have missed a few but this is for sure most of it.  I'm planning something. The plans are fairly nebulous at this point in time, but I'm hoping that enough of the above yarns go together in enough ways that I can finagle a few Christmas gifts out of them.  Yarn diet, remember?  I'm trying to extend it as much as possible to the Christmas knitting as well.  From what I've got planned so far, it seems pretty hopeful that I won't need to buy much, if anything.

This is a good thing, because I keep finding ways to spend money on myself that don't involve yarn at all.  I'm trying to be good, but some things are just too tempting to resist.

Like going to the ballet.

... And beer.  Let us not forget beer.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Phoenix Phacts

I've learned a few interesting facts since arriving in Phoenix:

1. People from Phoenix are called Phoenicians.  For some reason I find this incredibly cool.  Obviously because I'm a huge nerd.  Also because it sounds a lot better than "Winnipeggers".

2. Arizona does not observe Daylight Savings Time.  This means that while Arizona is in the Mountain time zone, during this time of year they have the same time as the Pacific time zone.  I learned this, when, on the first day that we were here, the sun set right after 6 pm and I was very confused since I knew that the sun wasn't setting that early yet in Winnipeg.  I was pretty sure that since Phoenix is way further south than Winnipeg, the sun should be setting later here at this time of year.  It totally would be, except Arizona decided to follow the Saskatchewan school of thought and leave their clocks in the same place all year round.  Not sure why they'd want to be like Saskatchewan, but hey, to each their own, right?

3. The resort we are staying at is named after Squaw Peak which is right next door and is the second highest mountain in the Phoenix Mountains.  However, the mountain itself is no longer actually called Squaw Peak, probably because someone realized that was kind of offensive.  The mountain is now called Piestewa Peak, after Lori Ann Piestewa, who was the first Native American woman to die in combat in the US military.  She was also the first female soldier to be killed in action in the 2003 Iraq War.  And now she has a mountain named after her!  I guess that's something?


Now for the other things that I've learned which are technically my opinions but I'm confident enough about them to present them as facts:

1. The trees are really beautiful, especially when blowing in the wind on a sunny day.



2. The food is friggin delicious.  This is the meal that the Enabler had at Aunt Chileda's (say it out loud... best name ever).  


After eating our meals and drinking a couple of Prickly Pear margaritas, we got roped into participating in the regular Tuesday night Bocce ball tournament held on the patio.  We'd both played before but not for a long time.  Regardless, this version of it was in a rectangular space on hard packed sand, which is totally different than playing on the grass like we were used to.  We were asked to play because they needed one more team to round out the numbers in the tournament, and the guys we played were obviously regulars.  We didn't win the round, but we held our own and people seemed impressed and surprised that we didn't completely suck.  We told them it was because we're from Canada, and it's basically like curling without the sweeping, so it's in the blood.


3. Lounge chairs by the pool are an excellent place to get some knitting done.



4. Being here gives me good knitting karma.  I picked the exact right row to cast off one of the gifts that I was knitting.  I ended up with roughly 18 inches of yarn leftover.  Score!


Now, I'm going to go see what else I can learn.

Adios!

Sunday, 6 October 2013

My bags are packed

The Enabler and I leave for Phoenix tomorrow. Another work conference for him, another vacation for me!

The kitties seem to know something is up, as usual. They've been queuing up for lap time. 


I'll miss them, but I'm ready to go. I've got the important things packed. The never ending Viajante, a 
new pair of socks for the Enabler, and two Christmas presents, one that is about 2/3 done and another that I haven't even cast on yet. I'm definitely not going to run out of knitting, and I think I've got a good variety too. 


have to make sure I pack enough knitting because I can't buy any yarn, obviously. I haven't even investigated the yarn shops in Phoenix because I don't even want to know what I'm missing.  I'm going to be a good girl.

This is the first bag that I packed.  It's the most important thing, of course.  The toothbrushes and flip flops and sunscreen are packed too, but if any of those happened to get left behind, I could buy new ones without breaking any rules.  The knitting bag, well that one won't be leaving my sight at least until we check into the hotel.  If this one gets lost somehow, I'm lost too.

Here's hoping none of the TSA agents give me a hard time about all the knitting needles in the bag, but I don't think they will.  To be safe, I'm even leaving my larger scissors (but still small enough to pass security in Canada) at home.  I'd honestly rather stay home than have to go without any knitting at all.

That's normal, right?  I totally don't have a problem.  *cough*

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Sexy Beast

I blocked Vulpix over the weekend and it changed a lot, like I was hoping it would.  I took a better "Before" picture so you can really see the difference.


I don't want to show you the "After" picture taken in the same location, because during blocking, this thing got so huge that I couldn't get a picture of the whole thing without also getting a picture of all of the junk in that room.  I had to extend my arm and hold the camera diagonally in order to get the whole thing in the frame, so it's not like I can just crop it, either.  It's a beast... but the good kind of beast.

The Enabler was pretty surprised at how huge it got too, as you can tell by his "surprised" face.


His arms aren't even long enough to hold this thing out by the tips.  And he's got freakishly long arms.  Like a gorilla.  A cute gorilla.

The neighbor's fence can barely hold this thing up either.  Although, to be fair, that probably says more about the fence than the shawl.


Seriously though, look at those short rows!  Look at them!  Did you look?  Dem short rows be crazy.  Japanese short rows are very cool and they make for a very nice looking finished product.  I'm totally going to use that technique again, especially since learning how to do them was a little crazy making and you can't make me NOT use it now that I know how!

Totally worth it, though.


He's lucky he's such a good model for the shawls that I make him.  It helps convince me to make him more of them.  And Stephen West has a lot of lovely man-shawl patterns so there's no lack of resources!  He's also got quite the sense of humour.  I doubt I'll ever be able to get the Enabler to model for me like that though.

*sad trumpet*

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Yarn diet

September has suddenly fluttered in and I'm quite happy about that.  I love summer but around this time of year I get tired of being sweaty all of the time and I get excited to start wearing my scarves again.

I finished knitting Vulpix for the Enabler.  I have a terrible photo below just to prove that it's off the needles, but I wouldn't actually say that it is done.


It needs some serious blocking, for two reasons.  One is that I calculated I didn't have enough yarn (or, at least not enough yarn to risk it) to do the full garter stitch edging as written, so the bottom edge is missing four rows of garter stitch that would undoubtedly help it keep from curling up so much.  The second reason is that whenever a knitted item has more than one yarn (fair isle, intarsia, stripes, etc), the two strands sometimes jostle a bit at the points where they are being switched back and forth.  This shawl (yeah, it's a shawl, let's not call it a triangle scarf to try to make it sound more manly) is no exception.  It has an intarsia section with slipped stitches, and multiple stripes with short rows.  We're talking major jostling here.  It needs a good long soak so that the two strands can work out their differences.  Like two dudes sharing a steam room after a wrestling match.  They don't dislike each other, but they have to let the tension go.  They are frenemies.

I will post pictures of the blocked Vulpix once it is, well, blocked.  I may also post pictures of dudes sharing a steam room.  No promises though...  perhaps the mental image is enough.

So.  It turns out that while on vacation, I bought a lot of yarn.  I did post a picture of the haul at the end of the last post, but I wanted to take some time to talk a little bit about a couple of the acquisitions in particular.  Namely, these beauties:


That would be Artyarns Silk Rhapsody Glitter Light (2316) on the left, and Handmaiden Lace Silk (smoke) on the right.  I'm not posting links.  If you want to get a rough idea of specs and how much these cost you can look it up yourself, but I'm not doing the work for you.  Let's just say that when I bought the lace silk, it was the most I'd ever spent on a single skein of yarn... and then I bought two of them because there were only two in the shop and I kept thinking "what if I need two of them??"

Then I saw the teal glitter yarn in a different store and picked it up and gasped at the price because I'd never seen yarn that was that expensive before... and then gasped at how beautiful it was up close and how amazing it felt and quickly grabbed the only other skein of it because I knew I couldn't leave without it and because I kept thinking "what if I need two of them??"

In both cases, the shopkeeper admired my choice and said "What are you going to make with them?"  And in both cases I said that I didn't know but for the moment I was content to have them sit in my yarn cabinet and look gorgeous.  Then they would nod knowingly and I would go on my merry way feeling giddy.

And now, they sit in my yarn cabinet, on display with all of the other gorgeous yarn, and it turns out that I have a great deal of gorgeous yarn.  The skeins pictured above do outshine the other yarn to some degree, however that's largely because they are actually very shiny.  What I realized after putting away the entire haul, was that I am acquiring beautiful yarn at a much faster rate than I am able to knit it, and also that it would be a shame to let all of this amazing yarn go un-knit.

Thus, I am going on a yarn diet.  It's not going to be a zero acquisition diet, because I have committed to a couple of projects but do not have the appropriate yarn in my stash.  What it will be is a ban on "just because" yarn, and also probably a ban (at least temporarily) on buying yarn for projects for myself.  When I look at my stash, I see a great deal of plans and good intentions.  More than enough to keep me busily knitting for a year (or longer), so my goal is to not buy any frivolous yarn until September next year.  I'm hoping this will help a little with stash reduction and, let's be honest, the bank account.

If it gets tough, I'll just pull out the above skeins and hold them for awhile.  They're still making me giddy.



P.S. Fibre doesn't count.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

The rest of the trip

We have returned home at last, tired but refreshed.  My near-constant eye twitch even stopped a few days into the trip!  Undoubtedly it will return, but I'm enjoying its absence while it lasts.

After my last post (which was mysteriously deleted but was undoubtedly a brilliant piece of writing so just remember it that way), the trip continued on in full steam.  I meant to post again during the trip instead of waiting until returning home, but when I was too busy doing all the things and eating all the food, I was too tired from doing all the things and eating all the food to think about putting together a coherent post.  So here it is, I'll try to not be TOO long-winded (I said I'd try, not that I'd succeed).

On my birthday we took an early ferry over to Salt Spring Island where we explored the market, ate some delicious food, visited some shops (yes, including some that sold yarn), and took a drive up to the top of Mount Maxwell.  From there we took in the view, which didn't suck.


After heading back to Victoria we went for dinner with an old friend of mine, who surprised me with the best cake of all time!  It was also delicious.


Early Monday morning we caught the ferry to Vancouver, rented a car, and drove down to Everett in Washington so the Enabler could start doing his business-y things.  While he was busy, I amused myself by wandering around the Future of Flight museum.  One of the most interesting things I learned is that the carbon fiber parts used in airplanes are basically made of yarn.  Well ok, thread.  Carbon thread that gets layered into a mold and filled with epoxy and baked or something, but it still starts out as thread on a spool!  I think it would be fun to try to knit something with it.


After he was done we headed into Seattle and checked into our hotel downtown to freshen up before walking around downtown a little and having a delicious dinner at the Metropolitan Grill. (Dinner not pictured because we were too busy eating for me to remember to take a picture).

The next day I struck out on my own to Bainbridge Island.  When I was trying to take a picture of the Seattle skyline, I got photobombed by a seagull.


I wandered around the island, which included a visit to another yarn store.  I also explored a number of the other shops and stopped for lunch at the Madison Diner (which was featured on the Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives a number of years ago.  It was delicious). 

Once I had pretty much exhausted things to do on foot on the island, I started to head back to the ferry, but got sidetracked by an art gallery on the way.  Admission was free, so obviously I had to stop and check it out.  After exploring the whole gallery and the gift shop, I headed back out to the ferry.  Unfortunately I hadn't bothered to check the schedule at all, and got there when the ferry was still there, but about a minute too late to actually get on it.

Back in Seattle (after a 45 minute wait for the ferry and a 30 minute ferry ride), I learned the hard way about cities built on hills.  I, of course, have lived on the prairie my whole life, and have come to take the flatness of the place I live for granted.  After getting off the ferry and taking the pedestrian overpass which goes over the road that is closest to the waterfront, I was on 1st Ave.  My hotel was on 4th Ave.  Only 3 blocks up, and a few blocks over.  The blocks over only had a slight incline, however each of the blocks up climbed between 3 and 4 stories.  A building built over the whole block would start on the 1st floor on one side, and the 4th or 5th floor on the other side.  I can still hardly believe it.  I honestly couldn't figure out how people survive it.

I did make it back to the hotel in one piece (albeit a rather sore and tired piece), and after changing and a short rest, the Enabler and I headed out to find dinner, and ended up in the Pike Place Market area.  This is when I realized that the climb from the ferry terminal to the hotel was far steeper than the one from the market to the hotel, even though they were both on 1st Ave.  I made a mental note of the blocks that had the worst climbs and decided to avoid them in the future.

In wandering around the market to find our dinner destination, we came across the Gum Wall in Post Alley.  I still can't wrap my head around this one.  It was kind of neat, but also really gross.  It smelled of artificial fruit flavour.


The next day I wandered around downtown Seattle.  I visited the Olympic Sculpture Garden, another yarn store, and took in the views on Pier 66.


I explored Pike Place Market a bit and saw the long line of people waiting to get into the original Starbucks, but passed it all by.  I was tired and hot by that time, so I went to a (much quieter) coffee shop near my hotel and recharged a bit.


That evening after dinner, we went to check out the Seattle Central Library, which was the inspiration for the Koolhaas hat pattern by Jared Flood.


On Thursday we made our way back to Vancouver where we visited another yarn store, and had a lovely visit and dinner with my uncle and cousin.  Then Friday was the flight home, snuggling with kitties, and unpacking.

Unpacking was a bit... surprising.  I did mention that I visited a few yarn stores, didn't I?

Thursday, 15 August 2013

So far

So it seems that this post somehow reverted back to a draft with only the pictures, and everything I initially wrote is now gone.  I don't remember what I wrote about but here are the pictures that were included in the original post: