Monday, December 31, 2007

A year in stitches

Here's my obligatory "what I knit in 2007" post! Some of these projects might not have even made it onto the blog...

Knits of 2007
1. Woven Knit Scarf - for Heidi
2. Felted Clogs - for Mom
3. Embossed Leaves Socks - for Gram
4. So-called Scarf - for me
5. Rio de la Plata Hat - for me
6. Sari silk scarf - for me
7. Fluffy yellow scarf - we'll see
8. Peekaboo Mittens - gift
9. Austermann Step socks - for me
10. Traveling Rib Armwarmers - gift
11. Asymmetrical V-neck Tank - for me, will be ripped
12. Lotus Blossom Tank - for me
13. Short-sleeved Cardigan with Ribbing - for me
14. Endpaper Mitts - for me
15. Striped Baby Blanket - for Kristin
16. Purdy Plum socks - for Susan
17. Chevron Scarf - for me
18. Felted Clogs - for Gram
19. Saartje Booties - for Pau's daugher Olivia
20. Purl Scarf - for me
21. Saartje Booties - for Marlene's granddaughter
22. Moss Grid Towels - for Andrea and Dave
23. Stockinette Socks - for Dad
24. Selbuvotter Mittens (NHM #7) - for me
25. Felted Clogs - for John
26. Woven Knit Scarf - for Anne-Marie
27. Drop-Stitch Scarf - for Andie
28. Ana Hat - for me
29. Earflap Hat - for David
30. Carpathia Scarf - gift yet ungifted

That is a lot of knitting! And, it seems I never posted about my Lotus Blossom Tank?!? Dave and I did a photoshoot - I wonder what happened there? I guess I'll have to post about it soon!

A year in books

I'm back from PA, and I'll be talking about my trip (and how the knitted gifts were received) soon, but first I want to make a couple of lists. This year I decided to write down the books I read over the course of the year. I did this for no real reason other than to keep track of them, but as time went by I realized I'd been reading quite a lot of books. I have pretty eclectic taste, but this year I was on a bit of a single-word-title-non-fiction kick (subtitles accepted). When I originally planned this post I intended to write little descriptions for each, but now I'm feeling a bit too lazy for that, plus I have reading to do! I've also decided to write where I obtained the book from, just to keep track...Books are listed in order consumed. * are for books I highly recommend to you all.

Books I Devoured - 2007 Edition
1. Cell - Stephen King (bought at the Cleveland airport on route back to Seattle last Christmas)
2. Touching the Void - Joe Simpson (owned)
3. Gods in Alabama - Joshilyn Jackson (borrowed from my mother)
4. Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress - Susan Gilman (borrowed from Daisy)*
5. Nature Girl - Carl Hiaasen (Christmas gift from Dave)
6. Knitting under the Influence - Claire LaZebnik (Christmas gift)
7. A Painted House - John Grisham (found in apartment building lobby)
8. Coal: A Human History - Barbara Freese (bought at used book store)
9. Casts Off - Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (bought)
10. Buried Alive - Jan Bondeson (library)
11. Washington Disasters - Rob and Natalie McNair (birthday gift from Dave)
12. The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver (borrowed from Vivian)*
13. Sister Carrie - Theodore Dreiser (owned since high school)*
14. Corpse: Nature, Forensics, and the Struggle to Pinpoint Time of Death - Jessica Snyder (borrowed from my mother)
15. The Angel of Darkness - Caleb Carr (bought at used book store)
16. The White Cascade: The Great Northern Railway Disaster and America's Deadliest Avalanche - Gary Krist (library)*
17. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling (owned)*
18. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling (bought on day of release)*
19. The Father of Forensics: The Groundbreaking Cases of Sir Bernard Spilsbury, and the Beginnings of Modern CSI - Colin Evans (library)*
20. The Jury Master - Robert Dugoni (found in apartment building lobby)
21. Persuasion - Jane Austen (Daily Lit)*
22. The Dawn of Human Culture - Richard Klein (library)
23. The World Without Us - Alan Weinberg (library)*
24. Drunk, Divorced, and Covered in Cat Hair - Laurie Perry (gift from Rachel)*
25. Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle over Global Warming - Chris Mooney (library)
26. Beyond the Body Farm: A Legendary Bone Detective Explores Murders, Mysteries, and the Revolution in Forensic Science - Bill Bass (library)
27. Tobacco: A Cultural History of How an Exotic Plant Seduced Civilization - Iain Gately (bought at used book store)
28. Bitter is the New Black - Jen Lancaster (borrowed from my mother)*
29. Emma - Jane Austen (Daily Lit)*
30. A Long Way Gone - Ishmael Beah (borrowed from my mother)*
31. Tea: Addiction, Exploitation, and Empire - Roy Moxham (bought)
32. Uncommon Carriers - John McPhee (library)*
33. Bright Lights, Big Ass - Jen Lancaster (bought at Powells)*
34. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress - Dai Sijie (borrowed from my mother)*
35. The Gatecrasher - Madeleine Wickham (borrowed from my mother)
36. Into the Wild - Jon Krakauer (owned)

36 strikes me as quite a lot of books, especially considering I also finished 30 knitted objects! I'll be listing those shortly just to keep track. I used to read more before I started knitting, but even so I'd like to read even more books in 2008. I'm already about halfway through The Pillars of the Earth, which was a Christmas present from my dad. It gets its * even at the midway point...

Thursday, December 27, 2007

More Christmas Socks!

Here is the second installment in the secret holiday knitting, the Purdy Plum Socks. I actually mentioned these quite a few times back in May and June when I was knitting them - they weren't initially going to be a Christmas gift, but I inadvertently made the first one slightly too big for myself and thought my aunt would like them, so instead of ripping out and starting over I proceeded and had an early gift!
Project Stats: Purdy Plum Socks
Yarn: Fly*Dyed Monarch, colorway Purdy Plum. Purchased at Madrona Fiber Arts Festival 2007.
Needles: Size 2 bamboo DPNs.
Time on the needles: I don't remember actually. Not that long - about a month I think.
Impressions: I like these, it pains me slightly to give them away, but I think Susan will appreciate them. They fit really well and she even wore them on Christmas after receiving them Christmas Eve. I'm really happy with the way the yarn striped, with no pooling anywhere but around the gusset, which isn't surprising due to the changing stitch count in that region. This was my first attempt at Wendy's pattern and I really like it. It's adaptable to many gauges and foot sizes (For reference, these socks have 52 stitches at a gauge of 7.25 stitches/inch.). I know I've waxed on about this before, but I really like this yarn. I like slightly thicker sock yarn because it knits up faster and I don't have to use teeny-tiny needles. I also used this yarn for my Sockapalooza socks, and I have several more skeins of this yarn in the stash, so maybe finally some socks for me?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Dad's Christmas Socks

Here is one of my secret Christmas projects: These are the socks I made for my Dad. They're made from worsted weight superwash wool, and hopefully he'll find them warm and well-padded. I'm pretty happy with them although the yarn pooled differently on the two socks. The one on top in the one I prefer - the other one has a huge vertical black stripe on the sole of the foot.
Project Stats: Dad's Christmas Socks 2007
Pattern: Based on Wendy's Toe-up Sock with Gusset pattern. These are 48 stitches in circumference and I had to do a lot of increases to get the gusset large enough.
Yarn: Järbo Garn Raggi Multi, two skeins with leftovers. Purchased at The Twisted Ewe in Port Townsend, WA.
Needles: Size 4 bamboo DPNs.
Time to knit: 10.2.07-11.2.07.
Impressions: Thick socks are fast! I'm happy with these, and they fit my Dad well. He and Dave have approximately the same size feet, so I had a good model. I didn't have any real issues with these socks aside from the flashing I eluded to earlier. I suspect even slightly varying the number of stitches would have taken care of that, but it's hard to vary that much when you're dealing with such heavy yarn. Couldn't have the socks being an inch too wide!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Knitting night cookie fest

This post is a tad belated, but Tuesday night we had our knitting club meeting at my place as a special Christmas treat. It was full of cookies and spiced cider and more cookies. Here we have Vivian (six months pregnant!), Anne-Marie, and Kristen enjoying the festivities:A good time was had by all, and I still have a few cookies left. Vivian brought some really tasty chocolate cookies that I now have in the freezer for emergency cookie cravings, and I was able to convince Kristen to take some home for her husband, but there were a lot of cookies for the four of us.
Before Vivian and Kristen arrived, Anne-Marie and I exchanged presents. You can see what I made her in my previous post, but she made me a neat cup cozy, shown here: I believe it's the first crocheted item I've owned, for a long while at least. It's pretty big - that's a 20 oz. cup inside (Full of tea. It would be way more mocha than I could handle.). I have to say, I took it to work on Wednesday and I think it kept the tea warmer than those little cardboard wrappers they give you, even in a brisk wind, and it's better for the environment! She also gave me The Knitting Answer Book, which I suspect will come in handy. Thanks Anne-Marie!
We had a slight fire incident while opening gifts. Yes, you read that correctly - fire incident. I had wrapped Anne-Marie's scarf in tissue paper inside a gift bag, and there were candles burning on the kitchen counter. She stepped back a bit to try on the scarf, and I was watching her when all of a sudden I saw more brightness than usual in my left eye. The tissue paper, which had been tossed on the counter, had encountered the candle and burst into flame. I blew on it (bad move), Dave ran over and blew on it (still a bad move), and then I grabbed it and flung it in the sink (finally, some sense). Here's the evidence: Should you be planning on trying this yourself, note that tissue paper burns very quickly and without much smoke. Combusts, really. And blowing on it makes it burn even faster. Funny, that whole oxygen feeding the flames thing! However, there was so little smoke that it didn't even set off the smoke detector which was almost directly over it. Good times!
I'm just getting ready to head to the airport to go back to Pennsylvania for eight days. Should be nice. They have snow, I will get to relax (please?), get some knitting accomplished, read a bit, etc. I've been a bit stressed as I was busy at work and I had to give a big talk today (It went well, thank you for asking.), so I haven't really had that much time to contemplate being gone for over a week. Hopefully I packed matching clothing and remembered my underwear...My parents have dial-up, but I don't want to vanish entirely, so I think I'm going to pre-write some blog posts, with photos, of the Christmas gifts that I've knitted but not posted about, so that I'll have something to post quickly while I'm away.
I wish you all happy holidays and lots of knitting surprises under the tree!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

First secret Christmas knitting revealed...

Tonight I finally gave Anne-Marie the scarf I made her for Christmas. I say finally because I made it back in November (October?), so it's been hanging around the house for quite awhile, tempting me to keep it for myself. Here she is modeling the scarf:
Project Stats: Anne-Marie's Woven Scarf
Pattern: Woven Knit, from Knit Scarves! by Candi Jensen.
Yarn: Noro Silk Garden Chunky. Colorway 05 - it's a pink/red/purple/green/tad of blue combo. The color is most accurate in the top photo. I used three skeins and the scarf is a good length. Yarn purchased at The Fiber Gallery.
Needles: Eh. I don't remember. I think I used smaller needles than I thought I would need in order to get good stitch definition. I think it might have been size 9s.
Time to knit: I honestly don't remember, but not very long. This pattern is pretty addicting so it went by fast. I think it took a few days. It's not like me to be so sketchy on the details but I couldn't even put this in Ravelry because Anne-Marie would have seen it!
Impressions: I'm really happy with this, and I think Anne-Marie liked it. I made Heidi a scarf like this last year, but I like this one better as the pattern really got lost in the yarn in Heidi's version. The woven stitch is simple yet not boring, and the scarf looks much more interesting than a plain garter stitch for not much more trouble. Plus it doesn't curl or need to be blocked. That said, I had a really tough time deciding on a pattern for this yarn. I initially wanted to do a long cast-on and knit it lengthwise, but decided against that as I didn't really now how that would work with the long color repeats. Then I tried the Yarn Harlot's One-Row Scarf, but the pattern got lost. Then I tried ribbing on three different needles sizes, and the stitch definition was awful. Finally I thought of this pattern, which was perfect. The detail of the pattern wasn't lost even though the yarn is a bit slubby. I lucked out and had three skeins that lined up perfectly with each other so the color transitions are all really smooth. I haven't seen many projects with Silk Garden Chunky, but I think it's fairly new and might be difficult to find. I'd recommend it - I think it's softer than regular Silk Garden, plus bulky yarn = fast progress. I consider this one a success!

Monday, December 17, 2007

In lieu of knitting...

Here's a fun Oliver and Dave photo. Dave is convinced that Oliver doesn't like him, or at least not as much as he likes me. One night I caught them on the couch, sitting as far as physically possible from each other: This photo is great - it looks like Dave is giving Oliver the stink eye and Oliver is blissfully ignoring him. Typical cat behavior, I say. Note Dave is wearing felted clogs :)

I have been knitting. I started another stealth project on Saturday, which will be finished and probably gifted soon so I can show photos. I also just finished the heel of the first Anastasia Sock at lunch today and I'll (maybe)be moving on up the leg tomorrow. I'm a bit concerned about it because it's a short-row heel without any increases beforehand (toe-up), and it seems very narrow. I was already worried about it, and now I'm really troubled. The socks are for my mother's mother, and when I talked to my mom tonight she mentioned that my grandmother's feet swell (which I knew) but also that she wouldn't want tight socks, particularly around the ankle. Well. What to do? I'm really torn about this - I might go up a couple of needle sizes to make the ankle/leg larger, which seems like an okay plan since they aren't heavy wear areas anyway. My mother didn't seem thrilled about it, but what I think I'm going to do is just make the one sock for Christmas and make sure it fits. It'd be a shame to make both and have them both be too small. I could see my grandmother acting like they were fine to not make me feel bad but then not being able to wear them, and that makes me sad, so I'd really rather they be right so she can use them. Thoughts? I really think after this I'm just making socks for people with feet my size or Dave's size, so I have a handy measuring device at all times. Since we are a family of (for the most part) small-footed women, there will still be plenty of potential socks to knit...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Look what I made! An actual washed and blocked swatch for the Ivy League Vest! I'm not usually so much for the whole "treating the swatch as you will the finished piece" thing. I do generally swatch, sometimes many times, but I never wash and pin. But, for a fitted fair-isle garment I thought I should suck it up and do it right. Here's my swatch: The colors in the second photo are more accurate - sorry the photos aren't very good but the lighting was bad and this is going to be tough to photograph because it has both light (too bright with the flash) and dark (need the flash) colors.

I swatched with size 3 needles for some reason that absolutely escapes me. The pattern calls for size 4, and I'm a tight knitter, so why I thought I would need to use smaller needles to get gauge completely baffles me. I'm getting about 7.5 stitches/inch instead of 7, so I think I'm going to just go for it with the size 4s. Live on the edge I say. My row gauge is miraculously close to being correct, and will probably be spot-on (famous last words) with the larger needles. I also suspect that when I go up to a 24" circular my knitting will be slightly looser because I won't be dealing with floats across the DPN junctions like I was in my swatch. So, the swatching is finished and I'll be casting on soon, although I decided I must finish my grandmother's Anastasia Socks first. It would be a shame to have had so much of the Christmas knitting done well in advance and then to fall behind on the very last thing when I had so much time to spare. Shame on me...

Oh, David loved his hat, and was wearing it in lab today! Great success - I love when recipients visibly appreciate the knitting!!!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

David's Earflap Hat

David's Earflap Hat
Originally uploaded by Emily E.M.

Phew, another one! I whipped this hat up so quickly I didn't have time to mention I was making it! It's for David, the graduate student who is just finishing his rotation in my lab. We were at a Christmas gift/craft show at work a couple of weeks ago when he spied some clearly handknit Noro hats, and was really excited about them. I stopped him from an impulsive purchase and told him I'd be thrilled to make him a hat. I love knitting hats. So, we discussed color (He really wanted purple and green - hopefully this won't be too lavender.) and that he liked stripes and pom-poms, and off I went. Anne-Marie and I took a trip to Weaving Works yesterday morning for yarn and then I was off. I started knitting this mid-afternoon on Saturday and finished it tonight, which is probably a hat record for me. I'm really happy with the way it turned out - hopefully he'll like it too!

Project Stats: David's Earflap Hat

Pattern: Kim's Hats, from Last-Minute Knitted Gifts. Modified for smaller gauge yarn. See below for details.

Yarn: Noro Kureyon, Colorway 188. Purple and army green. The green is darker than the upper photo implies.

Needles: Size 7 circular and DPN.

David's hat on Dave
Time to knit
: December 8-9, 2007.

Impressions: I love it! I modified the pattern to compensate for using smaller yarn than the Manos called for in the pattern. I used 96 stitches at a gauge of ~5 stitches/inch. I also started the decreases at 6.5" instead of 8." Looking at the hat on Dave, I'd say that was a wise move. The pom-pom was a joint project for Dave and I, and was quite fun - it's a bit wonky but I like it and it will suit its recipient well. He asked for purple and green stripes and a giant pom-pom, and that's what I've conjured up for him! I'll try to get a photo of him wearing it, but no guarantees...

And no, the socks for my grandmother still aren't finished...nor have they been worked on. This was more pressing as David is leaving for Christmas this week.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Ana Hat!

Well, I guess perhaps knitalongs aren't for me. Usually I get so far behind that it's hardly worth saying I'm in a knitalong, but this time it was me who jumped ahead. As I mentioned last week, Anne-Marie and I decided to have a mini knitalong for the Ana Hat. I cast on last Wednesday night and, despite not knitting at all from Friday-Sunday, finished my hat this evening. I know I said I would try to take in-progress photos because this hat has pretty interesting construction, but it ended up coming together much more quickly and easily than I envisioned, and I forgot to pause for photos. Without further ado, here it is, the Ana Hat:
Project Stats: Ana Hat
Pattern: Ana, from Perl Grey
Yarn: Fleece Artist Woolie Silk 3 ply. Kit (yarn + pattern) purchased at Hilltop Yarn.
Needles: Size 7 bamboo straights, DPNs, and a long circular.
Time on the Needles: November 28-December 5, 2007. Not long at all.
Impressions: I'm pretty happy with this, and Dave assures me that it doesn't look silly, although I have my doubts. It looks better in reality than in the photos - apparently I'm not particularly photogenic today. This was a really quick knit, and ended up being much less confusing than I anticipated. Basically you knit a large rectangle (133 rows of stockinette). When you've finished the rectangle, which is essentially what wraps around your head, you pick up stitches along the cast-on edge and then along one side, which makes a curved rectangle with three sides on the needle. Confused yet? Then you create the puckered back using DPNs to do several short three-needle bind-offs, which pulls the fabric into pleats. I didn't really get it until I did it, if you know what I mean, but in the end it was pretty simple. I think I could've done a better job closing the final hole and getting the puckers even, but the hat is pretty slouchy anyway and I doubt anyone will notice. It can be worn stockinette side out or reverse stockinette side out, and I think I prefer the latter because I like the rolled-up brim. The Woolie Silk was a dream to knit with, and I'm trying to figure out what I can do with the remaining 71 meters. Sadly I doubt it will be enough for mitts, but I might try. And, of course, being turquoise I love the color :)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Portland - Land of Rain

We had a lovely time in Portland this weekend, although the weather was, as usual for cyclocross in December, ugly in a truly epic fashion. It was pretty cold on Saturday, but not overly wet (but it snowed!), although the course was muddy because it had rained a fair bit during the week. If you're curious about what cyclocross is, here is a nice example shot of one of its unique characteristics: Here you see Dave (center, blue jersey) carrying his bike after having jumped over the white Toyota barriers. In cyclocross you ride the bike most of the time but have to get off to go over obstacles. Most courses also have a hill too steep/muddy/sandy to ride, which you must run up, hence the name run-up. The Portland courses didn't really have a run-up this year, which Dave appreciated. Dave finished 14th out of ~80(ish) people on Saturday despite doing this to his brand-new-as-in-put-together-on-Thursday tubular (and expensive) wheel: It's the one on the left, if you're unsure. Note that it's no longer round. Thankfully he has extra wheels, so that we could be part of the true misery that was Sunday...
It started to rain with a vengence on Saturday night, and when we arrived for Dave's race on Sunday morning the course looked like this: And this: This is the same spot as the photo with the barriers from Saturday. That is a lot of standing water. Dave had a good race again, coming in 15th, and looked a bit muddy afterwards:And he was happy about it! Although it was warmer on Sunday, it rained all day and was quite windy, so we left before the pro races. I think this is the first time we've abandoned a spectating effort, despite having been in some pretty bad conditions over the last few years. I've been to Portland for a big race in December every year I've lived in Seattle, and it's always epic weather. Which is great. If it sounds like I'm complaining I'm actually not - the conditions/weather are a huge part of cyclocross - the worse the better, and if you get cold you can warm up later and if you get muddy, well, it comes out the wash!
We also spent quite a bit of time at Powells this trip. I love Powells. I'm thinking about doing a post-doc in Portland just to be near it...

Friday, November 30, 2007

The "A" Projects

This post is brought to you by the letter A and the number 2, which is how many A projects I've got on the needles. I started the Anastasia Socks for my grandmother last weekend: I haven't done too much yet, but I'm plugging away. The pattern is simple but as usual I haven't bothered to memorize it. It really doesn't bother me to carry the chart around and keep track, plus I hate fixing things, and if I don't get all cocky about knowing the pattern I'm much less likely to screw it up. Dave was unhappy that I exploited Oliver for that photo, but I've seen much worse stuff on cats. Here's a close-up of the sock: The yarn is Socks that Rock Lightweight in Lucy, after Wendy's cat. The picture isn't the best, but the yarn color is pretty accurate.
As promised I also started the Ana Hat, from Perl Grey. I should take a photo of the diagram that came with the pattern - it's quite confusing, and just reading through the pattern makes me wish I'd taken some engineering classes. I'll try to take progress shots as I go so I can show you how this thing comes together. So far I'm knitting a giant rectangle. The yarn is quite nice to work with - it's Fleece Artist Woolie Silk, a 65/35 wool/silk blend. I love the colors (teal - go figure!). But what really should be mentioned here is the row counter, which is vital for this project. I'm one of those people who would rather keep track as I go instead of counting later, and I'd rather not have to carry around something to keep track with (pen and paper), and for this (131 rows) a counter is key. I have an identical one somewhere in the ether of my apartment, but I can't find it for the life of me. I even checked in the sweater-that-shall-not-be-named's bag, but it wasn't in there. So, and this is the good part, Dave offered to go buy me another one yesterday. Of his own free will. I should probably keep him.
Speaking of Dave, we're off to Portland for the weekend. The hat is coming along, as is the sock and the sleeves. I suspect the hat will receive the most attention. It looks like it's going to be cold/snowy/windy/rainy/miserable. I'm looking forward to it. Cyclocross is ALL ABOUT the suffering and bad weather!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Another one bites the dust

I've finished another Christmas gift! This brings me to 6 of 7 completed, with almost a month to go. If you're thinking you don't recall seeing six finished gifts, that's because you haven't. At least two of them haven't made an appearance on the blog and won't make one until after Christmas. This scarf will be going to my little cousin Andie, and I really hope she likes it. She's very girly, and I'm not sure it's pink enough for her, but we'll see.
Project Stats: Drop-stitch Scarf
Yarn: One skein of Knit Picks Memories, colorway Rocky Mountain Dusk.. The scarf is ~6x60" unblocked.
Needles: Size 8 Clover Bamboo straights
Time on the needles: October 5-November 27, 2007. This was my work project or it would've been finished much more quickly.
Impressions: I like it. The pattern is simple and easy to memorize, and the yarn, although not really my colors, was nice to work with. It seems heavier than sockweight, but that could be because I used much bigger needles than one would normally use with this yarn and thus it was able to really puff out and bloom. Drop-stitch patterns are always fun because it's exciting to drop stitches on purpose! I think this needs a good blocking to stretch out the drop-stitch panels, but that can wait until closer to gifting time...

Now that I've finished this, I only have two "active" projects on the needles - the Drops swing cardigan w/ huge sleeves and the socks for my grandmother (more on those soon). This is a problem. I like to have a lot of things going because I tend to flit from project to project. And, let's face it, two stockinette sleeves at once? That is some boring knitting. So, to break up the monotony I've decided I need to cast on something new and exciting. I'm still waiting for my new colors of Palette before I start the Ivy League Vest, so that's out. Plus I'm thinking that will be good Christmas knitting. I'm planning a gift that I can't talk about here, but it's not really a rush and it's not for me, so I'm going to put it off a bit (also a good project for Christmas - better actually, because it'll be much simpler). So, that leaves me in a quandary. What am I going to do? I'll think I'll make this: It's pretty simple, it's a hat, which is useful since it's getting on towards winter, and it's teal, and you know how I love the teal. Anne-Marie also bought this kit, so we're thinking of doing our own little knitalong. I also need a simple work project, which I haven't thought through yet. I'll keep you posted.
Oh, speaking of winter, tomorrow is opening day at Mt. Baker! I'm really excited to go skiing, although it'll have to wait a bit as we're going to Portland for some bike races this weekend...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Technical Question

So I'm having some issues with my Drops Swing Cardigan. The issue is that the sleeves are ginormous. Huge. And my gauge is correct. Well, maybe a tad off, but not enough that it's the problem. Let me explain. I'm making the worsted weight version of the sweater, and so I cast on 50 stitches for the sleeve, and then I'm supposed to do a total of seven increase rounds (one stitch per side each time), for a total of 64 stitches, and then I would do the armpit decreases, which I bet have a more technical name. From the get-go I thought my sleeves (since I'm knitting them together) seemed a bit on the wide side. As I started the increases I became more nervous, so last night, after four increase rounds (58 stitches total), I broke out the measuring tape and concluded that my sleeve is currently 13.6" in circumference, which is already larger than my upper arm, and if I continue increasing in this fashion I'm going to have a sleeve in the range of 15.5" around by the top, and that is just way too big. So, here is the dilemma. I've decided to just forgo the rest of the increases and proceed with my 13.6" sleeve all the way up. The problem, of course, is that this is a set-in sleeve, and it needs to match the armhole shaping on the front and back of the sweater. That shaping is done as follows on the sleeves. The first decrease round involves casting off three stitches on each side one time, then two stitches twice, etc. I figure, since I'm skipping three increases and thus six total stitches, I'll just not do the first three stitch bind-off. This will be hidden in the armpit and so I'm hoping it won't be too obvious. Please let me know if you think this is exceedingly ill-advised before I get too far into it. Dave suggested (bless him - he sat through 10 minutes of math and analysis of this last night) starting over (gasp) with smaller needles, but I think that would mess up my row gauge and create even bigger armhole/sleeve matching issues. Any ideas? From examining at the pattern photos it appears the sleeves are fairly wide on the model, but no one on Ravelry seems to have such huge sleeves, nor has anyone mentioned it being a problem...

Another swap package!

Ravelry tea swap package
Originally uploaded by
Emily E.M.
I recently participated in a Ravelry tea swap (technically I'm still participating, since I have yet to send my package...but let's not talk about that). I received a lovely package yesterday from Cindi (ravelry: Cindiknits). She sent me two lovely shades of Zephyr - peacock (the greener one) and a beautiful blue. Both are plenty for a fairly large project, and she recommended the Print o' the Wave stole, which I have in my Ravelry queue. As some might recall I recently ripped out my first incarnation of that stole after deciding that yarn wasn't right for it, so this might be just the ticket. She also sent three types of tea. I've tried the vanilla rooibis (very good) and the Ceylon (very smooth) so far, and enjoyed both of them. The other is Georgia Peach Rooibis, which I'll probably try tomorrow. There is also scone mix, Cadbury's (gone), shortbread, and tea-flavored gum (which I'm quite intrigued by). AND, there is a notepad and some nifty tea bags with a holder. I have some similar bags for brewing loose leaf tea without a strainer, but they like to fall in the cup instead of sticking to the side as intended. These are brilliant because they have holes in the top that you put a stick through, and the stick then sits on the top of the mug. Excellent invention. I'm really happy with my package, thank you Cindi! Now to get back on the lace bandwagon again...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Promised Progress...

Well, this post took me a bit later to get online than I intended, but I've had a difficult time finding the motivation to take sweater photos. This baby is tough to photograph with any accuracy whatsoever. Either the color is good or the pattern is good - I went with the latter: This is the back with the two completed fronts. I meant to take a close-up of the shoulder seams (three-needle bind-off is my friend), but that can wait. My concern is that it seems quite wide - I pinned it together before sewing the shoulder seams so that I could try it on, and the fit through the chest is fine, but it's a bit swingy through the back. I'm not sure if that was my rough pinning or an effect of the "swing" in the name. I think only time will tell, and as I'm about 1/3 finished with both sleeves (knitting them at the same time) hopefully it will tell soon. While I was off updating Ravelry, this bit of hilarity ensued: Apparently Oliver was curious about the sweater and when Dave removed him from it, the sweater came along for the ride. Dave called me in with the camera, and another great "Oliver with the knitting" shot was born.
I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving! I lounged around quite a bit over the last four days, accomplished a tiny bit of Christmas shopping, and watched many Netflix movies. I also cast on the final (I think) Christmas present on Friday and it's moving along nicely. I'm making Anastasia Socks for my grandmother, which I'll post photos of once they're past the mid-foot...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Another pair of unfelted clogs...

John's Slippers, top
Originally uploaded by
Emily E.M.

I've been neglecting my blog. You might have noticed, but with Thanksgiving impending perhaps everyone is too busy to care that I've not written a peep for two weeks? And I was doing so well there for a bit...Anyway, I have multiple excuses. The main one is that my parents were visiting for a week, but they left last Wednesday night, so that really only explains the first week. And it's not that I haven't been knitting - I have been, and not all on secret unbloggable projects either. In fact, just Sunday I finished the second front of my Drops cardigan and dealt with the shoulder seams. I think I'll talk about that tomorrow though, so I have something else to entertain you with. Plus I haven't taken any pictures yet, so I'd just be blathering on without evidence...I did, however, finish the clogs for my Uncle John, which had to be done while my parents were in Seattle so they could take them back to be gifted over Thanksgiving.

I was going to do my standard write-up about the clogs, but frankly, I'm bored with that, since this is (I think) my hundreth seventh pair of these babies. This particular pair is a men's medium (felted size 10.5), knit with Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Grass and some leftover yellow Cascade 220. I used size 13 needles and knit these in about a week. I didn't have time to felt them, but I think it's worthwhile to see the expression on the recipient's face when they open a gift that they can't fathom the purpose of. Of course, in this instance I won't be there to see that, but hopefully my parents will enjoy it.

Okay, I'm off. I have to give lab meeting tomorrow and I need a good nine hour sleep to contemplate how I will explain my moderately-uninterpretable-but-potentially-interesting data. I'll try to take some sweater photos and talk about the Drops swing cardigan tomorrow. Hope you're all well, I'll try not to vanish again until Christmas!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Tea Swap Package!

Today I received a lovely package from Wendy, my Knitters Tea Swap 4 pal: She really did a great job figuring out what to send me - I love everything in it, especially the yarn, which is just my colors! There was so much stuff in the box that I had a tough time getting a good photo - a cute sheep notepad, candle, a yarny nail file, a tape measure, and tea and chocolate galore! I haven't had much chai tea, so I'm excited about the tin of that, as well as the vanilla tea (one of my favorites) and the assam (another favorite). And how great is that card? I definitely do my level best to prevent the buying of acrylic by anyone, even those not really in my acquaintance but fortunate enough to be near me in the LYS. All in all Wendy did a great job spoiling me! Thank you Wendy!!! Here's a close-up of the yarn, which is from Storm Moon Knits. It's sockweight, but I'm thinking of a scarf, so that it lasts longer and more people get to see it. It fades from almost black to a lovely blue-turquoise, which is just perfect for me. It's actually less blue and more turquoise, but there were camera issues. Dark yarn is always a bit tough to photograph, especially without some good natural light, which we are generally lacking in Seattle, and which we are even more deficient of in my apartment...

Clog watch: Finished the first clog except for the outer sole. Hope to accomplish that this evening after washing the kitchen floor (Exciting!).

Excitement: While riding to work this morning I discovered that I can indeed ride my bike with no hands, which is very exciting for me. I've probably been able to do this for ages, but lacked the confidence. I've realized it's something you really need to go for - if you're wishy-washy it just doesn't work. And you have to moving with some speed. I know this is a bit silly but I was way too excited about it and thought I'd share...

Thank you for all of your comments on my mittens! I really appreciated every one of them, even though I can't figure out to make Blogger record email addresses so I can respond to you : )

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Fair Isle is my friend

Look what I made, look what I made! Not to be immodest, but I'm so impressed with myself. Well, actually I wasn't that impressed until Dave was really impressed, and then I thought, "Wow, these really are pretty damn cool mittens!" I have decided that the fair isle and I are friends - of the types of knitting I've done, it is by far my favorite. Why? Because you can see the project developing in real-time as you're knitting. None of this waiting for the blocking magic you have with lace, or the fear of overshrinkage you have with felting or the risk of your sweater growing upon blocking. Nosiree, just the pattern smiling at you as you go. Plus, fair isle is built for being knit in the round, and in my limited experience has not involved purling, and these are both concepts I can get behind.
Project Stats: Selbuvotter Mittens (NHM #7)
Pattern: NHM #7, from Selbuvotter, by Terri Shea
Yarn: Jamieson's Shetland Spindrift, Stonewash and Surf. One skein of the dark and just a tad over one of the main color. I got the yarn at Weaving Works.
Needles: Crystal Palace bamboo DPNs, size 1.5. Really worth the extra $$$.
Time to knit: October 7-November 4, 2007.
Impressions: I love them. Really. One of my favorite knits. The pattern was very clear (being a chart, of course it's clear, but the instructions were also quite good). I didn't really understand what I was doing with the decreases, so mine are a bit different from the photo (I followed the pattern colors, instead of doing all the decreases in the main color, which I think is what I was supposed to do.), but that is part of the beauty of these mittens. They are handmade and thus they aren't perfect (although I didn't make any actual mistakes, far as I know). They fit perfectly and aren't overly bulky. I think they'll be plenty warm enough for Seattle, but perhaps not for Alaska. I really enjoyed the Shetland Spindrift - it's not the softest yarn but it gives the impression that it will stand up to some abuse and last for a long time, and it's certainly soft enough for me, not having very sensitive skin. I knit these mittens quite quickly by my standards, only stopping to procrastinate a bit about the thumbs, which ended up being much easier than I feared. A bit fiddly due to the small number of stitches, but nothing unmanageable. The Crystal Palace needles are a bit spendy, but they're really worth it because they don't bend/break/chip/snag/split or any of the other problems I've had with my little Brittney birch needles, plus they're shorter than the Clover bamboo needles. All in all, this project was a great success!
So, what now? I finished the secret gift project on Friday (no photos), and these today, so that is my two projects finished before casting on the Ivy League Vest. However, as I mentioned last week, I'd like to finish the clogs I'm making my uncle for Christmas while my parents are visiting (starting on Wednesday night), so those will come first. I started them yesterday and I'm about half done with the first clog. They go really quickly so it shouldn't be a problem to whip them out in the next week and a half. I also have yarn to make my cousin Andie some pink/ivory Selbuvotters, so I'll probably make those before starting the vest, just to keep the Christmas knitting on target for early completion. Best to not be stressed about that! I also knit about five inches of the Drops Swing Cardigan on Friday, so progress is being made on many fronts. And the house is clean. We even washed the slipcover. It was a very productive weekend!

Friday, November 02, 2007

New Yarn!

The yarn for my Ivy League Vest arrived yesterday, and the colors, while not necessary a palette I would normally go for (even though there's teal in there) are quite close to those in the model. I like the model version, so I think that even though some of the colors aren't my favorites together they will all work well. My dark teal is backordered until late November, but I can swatch and maybe start the bottom ribbing - I don't think the dark blue is needed for a bit. I've decided I want to finish at least two projects before I start this, including some felted clogs for my uncle, which need to be finished while my parents are visiting so they can take them home with them for gifting. The yarn (Knit Picks Wool of the Andes) for those arrived yesterday as well, so no delays. I finished the second Selbuvotter mitten last night, so I just have the thumbs to tackle, which I'll hopefully do this evening. I'm afraid of the thumbs, but, well, they won't knit themselves. I bought some yarn to make my cousin a pair of Selbuvotter for Christmas, and I might as well practice on mittens for me if I'm going to be screwing things up. I'm this close to finishing a secret gift project, so that will probably also be done tonight. So, after I finish my mittens, and the gift, and the clogs, I will swatch for the vest.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


My parents are coming to visit next week, which always means a thorough cleaning of the apartment, lest my mother find dust on the baseboards. It's also a good opportunity to purge clutter, and with that in mind I attacked the region surrounding my side of the sofa, aka the den o' knitting. I have two knitting "baskets." One is next to the couch in front of the end table where I can get at it, and is where the projects I'm actually working on are meant to reside. I say meant to because in reality it's like the Bermuda Triangle in there. The second container lives behind the end table, where I can, in theory, reach it. In reality that container has projects long since abandoned and enough needle protectors and stitch markers to open a small LYS. The cat loves to knock them off the table into the basket.
The organizing process was quite successful. I knew I had a lot of projects that had been cast on and promptly abandoned because the yarn wasn't right, or the pattern confused me, or I just got distracted. They remained on the needles because I didn't have another use for the needles (I also discovered I have four pairs of size 9 straight needles, and three sets of 10.5s. I think they're all from the learning-to-knit-make-many-fun-scarves-at-once phase. I rarely use them, so if you need size 9 needles you know who to call!). Now, for the grand list of what was jettisoned, what was saved for another day, and the projects I'm actually working on regularly enough that they might, some day, be finished...

Sent back to the stash:
1. Twisted Flower socks - Two skeins red Gems Pearl salvaged. This pattern is way too time-consuming for me. I started these for my Sockapalooza Four pal and abandoned them one repeat in. Rest in peace.
2. Print o' the Wave stole - Lovely turquoise/teal kid mohair gets a new life (hopefully soon, I love this yarn). This just wasn't the right pattern for this yarn, or at least not the right needle size. Now that I feel more confident in lace I might try this again, but I think I prefer patterns without patterning on both sides, for both speed and sanity.
3. Random green lace - I'd only knit four rows of this before deciding the yarn and pattern competed too much. RIPPPP!
4. Malabrigo scarf - The pattern I chose was too lacy for this yarn, which would really rather be cozy, not elegant. I think this will be recycled into a Foliage hat.
5. "Large Red Rectangle" from Victorian Lace Today - Yes, one can rip out Kid Silk Haze! I actually intend to restart this project, but I hadn't gotten far enough to make this worth keeping, plus I couldn't remember where I was in the pattern. I think I'd done about 5 rows. Better to start over than to restart in the wrong place! Plus I think I was using needles at least one size too small. No harm no foul.

Salvaged for another day:
1. Mystery Stole 3 (aka Swan Lake) - I was really going to rip this out because I didn't end up being that fond of the pattern, but when I looked at it again tonight I just couldn't do it. It was my first real lace project, and I'd made it almost halfway, and the beads looked so pretty, so I think I'll let it incubate awhile and then make the symmetrical non-winged version.
2. Elfine Socks - I'm on the leg of the first sock and I don't know why I'm not working on these, I still really like them.
3. Toe of pretty sock - Not sure if this should be counted, but to be fair I have cast it on and it's still on the needles, but it's truly in its infancy. Socks that Rock Lightweight, generic toe-up pattern I think, but I could change my mind, since there are only about 20 stitches so far!

Still on the needles, in a somewhat more active fashion:
Ravelry links, sorry if you can't see them - if I was a better blogger I'd have documented this process, but I was on a mission!
1. Drops Swing Cardigan - We've discussed this fairly recently, and I'm still working on it, when I'm not working on #2
2. Selbuvotter Mittens - I'm on the decreases of the second mitten. I intended to finish these tonight but then I got a wild hare to clean the living room, which was probably more productive and not much less entertaining.
3. $1.50 cardigan - I love this sweater. Why am I not working on iy? I think I got confused about when to do the neck and armhole shaping when I tried to make the sweater shorter, so it got put down and it has been sadly neglected. Of course it will now take me much longer to figure out what I was planning to do than had I just done it when I first figured it out, but there you are. Live and learn.
4. Ruffled Tuxedo Tank - Miles of stockinette in the round are usually good for me, so I have no real excuse here aside from distraction to start something else, coupled with cold weather on the horizon.
5. Socks - These are a gift, and you'll not see them here. Just finishing up the ribbing of the second sock. 85% finished I'd say.
6. Drop-stitch scarf - My work project. Also a gift, recipient as-yet-undetermined, so you probably won't see this again either, just in case the giftee is reading! About 50% finished, steady progress made every weekday from about 12:45-1:30.

That my friends is a lot of projects. This list would imply that I had 14 projects on the needles. I guess I like to multi-task : )

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Halloween is my favorite holiday, although it really sneaked (not snuck) up on me this year. I had a rough couple of weeks, in the vision capacity, which made me quite depressed and irritable, but now things are better, although I am a bit sad that I didn't even get the Halloween decorations out this year. Nor did I dress up today, making it the first Halloween I can remember when I didn't conjure up a costume and wear it to work. I'm taking a science writing class and I thought it might be a bit unprofessional to show up as a cat or something, so I didn't, although I am wearing magenta tights. I got two Halloween packages from my parents, one of which included this great pen with bright red eyes that light up when you press a button on the back, which also causes its punching arms to burst forth vigorously. This pen is great, and got much use during the baseball playoffs and World Series, when Dave and I used it to show displeasure at the announcers with great frequency (even though the right team won). Dave also received a pen - his is about 10 inches long, 3 inches around (we're talking about the pen here), and unwieldly to write with, but good fun all the same. Then, the day my old Starbucks card ran out I got a new one, which was spectacular timing. Thanks for the pens and the coffee, and sorry to have kept forgetting to thank you, having talked to you several times since the arrival of the pens! I don't want to have a post without any photos, so here's a classic from Halloween a couple of years back. This is Dave in his pimp ensemble:
We bought that hat at a little shop in Snohomish, WA (which has a great tea shop you should viist if you're in the area). The pants and jacket are mine (They both look better on him than me, as Dave is skinny as a rail and has no hips to make the pants pockets flare out strangely.), as is the fluffy red scarf. It was a fun costume...
Happy Hauntings!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Random musings on a Tuesday

First off, I realize I vanished again, but I've just been really uninspired about things to write. So here is a cute Oliver photo to tide you over until I have some pretty knitting pictures. This should be pretty soon, since I'm at the tip decreases of my second Selbuvotter mitten.

I might have had a falling-down of the yarn acquisition variety last week, when I ordered some yarn to make the Ivy League vest from the soon-to-be-in-my-mailbox Interweave Knits Winter 2007. I was ordering some Christmas gift yarn from Knit Picks and, well, it just fell into my basket, what can I say? I'm going to blame Amanda for enabling me on this, since it was her idea to use Palette and she came up with the appropriate color substitions. We've both ordered yarn and are now eagerly awaiting the arrival of the magazine. I'm excited about this project, which I think will be more approachable than a full Fair Isle sweater. I have several of those in my Ravelry queue, but they're a bit daunting. A vest has no sleeves and thus much less seaming, which we all know greatly increases my chances of actually finishing the garment. Although, I suspect it will be steeked, which scares the daylights out of me but will be something new.
You might notice that I'm writing this post really early in the morning, and that is because someone had the brilliant idea to do an announced test of our building fire alarm at 7:00am this morning. I hate loud noises so I decided I would get up before that so as to be prepared for it. I don't usually get up until at least 8:00, so I'm not thrilled, but at least I'll be at work early! And, you all get something to read, although I make no guarantees of sensicalness (Is that even a word? It should be.) since it's early and I've not yet had my tea. I was going to present a bit list of all my knitting works-in-progress for you, for lack of something else to talk about, but since I came up with the Ivy League vest perhaps I'll save that for another time. Happy Tuesday!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Sorry to have vanished (again). I've actually got many knitting tales, but sadly the only photo I have to show you is of the tragedy that befell our still-under-construction sculpture during last Thursdays windstorm at the FHCRC, where I work: This is (was?) Vessel, an Ed Carpenter piece that was commissioned by the Center and was engineered to withstand very high winds, earthquakes, vandals, etc. Apparently there was a flaw! It wasn't that windy on Thursday...It's quite sad really, as I was getting quite fond of the sculpture, which was 55 feet tall. They plan to rebuild but it will take at least until next spring to determine what went wrong and to build new parts.
As for knitting, let's see. Wednesday night Rachel and I went to see Laurie Perry (Crazy Aunt Purl) at the downtown Barnes & Noble. They were woefully unprepared for the onslaught of knitters, but Laurie was hilarious and heartfelt and I'm so glad Rachel suggested that we go. And, Rachel bought me Laurie's book, which I finished in just a couple of days. Thank you Rachel! What I enjoyed about the book signing was that it felt like she really wanted to talk to everyone, not just move through the line, and I really appreciated that. Plus, she has a twang just like my cousin Danielle, who I haven't seen in years, so that was nice. Now that I think about it, you don't encounter many southern accents in Seattle. Why is that I wonder?
On Friday Anne-Marie and I went to the Louet trunk show at Village Yarn & Tea, which was also fun. They had wine and cheese plus lots of Louet yarns I hadn't seen. I bought two skeins of linen/mohair laceweight, which is really interesting stuff. The linen gives it strength and keeping shape ability, but the mohair makes it a bit fuzzy and softer. I also bought some Rowan Damask for a Dream Swatch (PDF link) scarf. They had it knit up and I fell in love with the yarn, which is soft and was in perfect colors to match what I was wearing. I always check out store projects, but I think this might be the first time I've just gone and bought the supplies for one right then and there.
Otherwise I don't have much to report. I'm about half done with the second Selbuvotter mitten (thank you for all your comments on my mittens!!!), and charging along on one of my gift projects. Last night I worked on the Drops cardigan a bit, but only about eight rows. Slowly but surely I guess. The mittens are way more interesting to work on and it's already late October (eek!) so the Christmas gifts are moving up the queue...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

First Selbuvotter off the needles!

Blue Selbuvotter #1
Originally uploaded by Emily E.M.
I did a lot of knitting this past week and weekend, and on Saturday night I finished the first of my NHM #7 mittens. Well, except for the thumb. I've decided to knit both mittens and then tackle the thumbs, because I want to get some super-short DPNs for the thumb knitting. I had a difficult time with my 6" DPNs once I got to the tip of the hand because the hole was so small and the needles were everywhere. So, instead of just procrastinating until I get around to getting the needles, I'm going to cast-on the second mitten tonight at knitting club and proceed with abandon. Whilst hoping not to run out of yarn. I may have made a slight error in yarn purchasing, only having bought one 25 gram skein of each color, due to my inability to pay attention to the actual yardage called for in the pattern instead of the weight and number of skeins. I'm hoping I'll have enough, but I need to weigh what I have to make sure, so I can get more of the same lot if need be. No reason not to do that right now, actually, is there? Weigh it I mean...


This weekend Dave and I went on another adventure, this time to Olympia, where we made apple cider at Rembrandt's parents' house. We love going down there - Rem's parents are some of the nicest people I've met, and good times are always had. We started by picking apples in their orchard, which is a bit overgrown and undermaintained, but produced plenty of apples for our purposes.That's Dave up in one of the trees. Myself I didn't head up very far, as I chose a bad tree to climb. Plus, I'm not that keen on being in trees with moss-covered branches. A bit slippery, and thus disconcerting, even though I'm not afraid of heights. Although, to be fair, I'm not thrilled at the prospect of falling from them. We took our haul of apples to the driveway, where the real chaos occurred. Rem's parents have a cider press, seen here (cart o' apples in the background): We had a good mix of apple varieties, which is key for full-bodied cider (so I hear). The box on the press contains sharp blades attached to a motor (on the right), which dices the apples into a lovely pulp. Here is Dave running the machine (it's important to hold the lid down - otherwise chunks of apple go flying everywhere at high velocity) while Rem (center) feeds in apples and Kelsea cleans them. That was also one of my jobs (the cleaning, although I also did the feeding later in the day). You then press the pulp down like so: The actual pressing process was pretty easy, and quite satisfying as you watch the cider flow into the pan. When you're done you get some good snacks for the resident chickens: The cleanup was fun - I love spraying water on dirty things, be it Dave's muddy bike after races or cider presses covered in apples. It was especially exciting spraying Rem's apron: No, I did not get him wet! All told we made about six gallons of cider: That doesn't seem like much considering the mass of starting material, but when you think about it, apples aren't that juicy. For reference, the bag of pulp Rem is holding, which is from one pressing, resulted in about 1/2 gallon of cider. So, how is it? It's really really good. Dave and I brought two gallons home, one which we're going through slowly and another which went in the freezer for later. This was my first time making cider and it was really fun (and very sticky)!