Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Showin' off the Madrona haul

Sorry it's been awhile, but I took a blogging break to acquire some yarn! The Fiberphiles and I descended on the Madrona Fiber Arts Festival in Tacoma, WA last weekend. We spent Friday night there, six of us in two adjoining rooms, and had a blast. For some reason that escapes me I didn't take any pictures (bad blogger, I know). On Saturday I met up with Marisol, and she hung out with the Fiberphiles all afternoon and much fun was had. She DID take photos, and I'll post them when I get some from her. This was my first meeting-of-someone-I-met-in-the-knitting-blogosphere, and it was great fun!

I know what you're really here to see, and that is the new yarn, right?!?

First there's the laceweight stash:The brown is Cashwool, 100% extra fine merino. There are 2700 m there, which is obviously quite a lot, but Karen at Acorn Street recommended knitting it double, even for lace. The greens are Zephyr, a 50/50 merino/silk blend. The top one is Peacock and the bottom Bottle Green. ~1250 yds each. Ooh, and I also got some Crack Kid Silk Haze in Liquor (dark burgundy), which I think will be used for the first lace project I attempt from Victorian Lace Today.
Then there's the Monarch sock yarn:From the left: August, Coulee, Purdy Plum, and Ivy. I couldn't help myself, there were SO many nice colorways. Kristen also acquired some Coulee, and I was lusting after it so much I just had to go back and get some for myself...
Last but certainly not least was the Socks that Rock:
This is: mediumweight Nodding Violet, lightweight Lucy (inspired by Lucy of
Wendy Knits fame), and mediumweight Tide Pool.

Phew. All in all I got most of what I wanted, although I really wanted some solid(ish) sock yarn for lace, and there was pretty much none to be found this year. First fall off the yarn fasting wagon completed successfully!

While I was there I started and finished a hat, but I got a bit overzealous (distracted from all the knitterly chatting!) and it's way too tall for me and needs to be ripped back and refinished. I'll try to get on that soon! I also have another FO to show you, but for now I'll leave you to bask in the new yarn glow :)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

An end to the Christmas knitting!

I present the Embossed Leaves Socks for my grandmother:

I realize they look a bit big, but my grandmother has bigger feet than I do! These are a belated Christmas gift. I have to sadly admit that I didn't even try to have them done by Christmas. I had good intentions, but, well, events conspired and in the end I gifted her one sock, which I promptly took back so I could make the second to match. I talked a lot about how hard I would work to finish them while I was still home over the holidays, but hardly any knitting was done, and so on and so forth, but they're done now and will be in the mail tomorrow.

Project Stats: Embossed Leaves Socks

Pattern source: Interweave Knits Winter 2005, pattern by Mona Schmidt

Yarn: Socks that Rock mediumweight in Beryl, almost a full skein

Needles: Knit Picks DPNs, size 2

Time to knit: 2 months? There was a quite a lag between the two socks, but once I got going they went pretty quickly.

Modifications: My row gauge was off so I subtracted half a pattern repeat at the toe, and did a standard decrease-on-both-sides-kitchner-toe (which surely has a more formal name but it's late and I'm not looking it up). I also didn't do the recommended cast-on, I just did a long-tail and then did the ribbing as instructed.

Impressions: Hum. This yarn and colorway was a perfect choice for this pattern. This pattern itself was pretty easy, and the results are lovely, but I really hate having the first stitch on a DPN be a purl, because I find it very difficult to keep those stitches tight, and laddering can result. This little problem was probably why these socks took me so long to knit, because I really didn't look forward to picking them up. However, the mental struggle was about 95% of the battle, because once I was knitting they were a very enjoyable knit. They are a bit big, and although my grandmother has larger feet than me I'm a bit worried. She'll probably wear them mostly around the house anyway though, so they'll probably be just fine. I really hope she likes them, and that she wears them. For all my gripping about the knitting, she deserves them and I'm very glad to gift them to her, even if they're belated!

Now I can start something new...we can talk about that at length tomorrow, or the next day. There may even be a poll involved!

Alert the media

Look, see, I TOLD you I was working on it!
I'm gearing up for the Madrona Fiber Arts Festival this weekend. The Fiberphiles and I are heading down there Friday afternoon and staying until Saturday. Daisy is even returning from Lake Tahoe to meet us and share in the debauchery. Should be a good time. I'm hoping to also meet Marisol, who was the recipient of my Funky Scarf Swap scarf a few months back. She's coming all the way from San Francisco! She brought up an interesting point about fiber festivals a few posts back, and that was that people like to show off their handknits, and she's been working hard to finish some lovely pieces to wear. This got me thinking about what I would wear, should I be inclined to show off the handknits, and I realized that I have very few items to show for all my time knitting. Not that I don't knit a lot, mind you, it's just that I rarely knit anything elaborate for myself. Most of my nice knitting gets given away, or isn't really appropriate for indoor activities or the weather we're predicted to have this weekend. My best item for show-and-tell is my Lady Eleanor stole, which is truly lovely and impresses me every time I look at it, but it's big and bulky and very warm and altogether not ideal for the heatstroke-inducing run around the festival marketplace whilst fighting off the hoards at the Socks that Rock display. So, most likely I won't be wearing anything handknit. My grandmother's socks will be finished - maybe I should wear them? Just kidding...

Monday, January 22, 2007

Weekend activities

Happy Monday (work with me here)! I hope everyone had a lovely and relaxing weekend. I did, for the most part. On Friday, Dave brought me these flowers at work, for no reason except to cheer me up (say it with me, awwww):

Saturday night we had our friend Rembrandt over for dinner and games, and I made my first risotto, which was a resounding success. It had spinach and tomatoes and was exceedingly healthy, yet very tasty. We also had garlic bread and steamed carrots with butter and brown sugar, and chocolate-covered expresso beans for dessert. Then I proceeded to lose every game we played, which is atypical but good for Dave as it seems he never gets to win.

Yesterday Dave and I headed out to the mountains and I went snowshoeing while he went cross-country skiing.

There was much snow.

I snowshoed 8 km, or about 5 miles, in 1:45. Here I am at the halfway point - let's not discuss the bad self-portrait...I would have liked to go further but this was my first adventure in my new hiking boots and, being an out-and-back trail, it can get a bit old. I listened to a couple of knitting podcasts (had to work knitting into the post somewhere!) and the time passed quickly.

I'm a bad blogger lately and I forgot to take a picture of my grandmother's socks. But, believe me when I tell you that I'm a little over halfway down the foot and closing in fast. The end is in sight! I got a lot done watching football yesterday evening. We had Tivoed both games and watched them back to back without commercials. Much more efficient! I'll try to post some sock photos tomorrow...

Friday, January 19, 2007

In lieu of knitting

I bring you pretty mountain pictures from our ski trip to Mt. Baker last weekend.
They have over 160" of base. That's a lot of snow. This is Mt. Shuksan: And this is Mt. Baker itself:

We had a lovely time, although it was a bit icier than usual. However, look at that blue sky! I used the pass my grandmother got me for Christmas (thank you again!), which was most appreciated, because skiing is expensive.

I have no knitting. I just finished something last night, but I can't show it to you, but I will soon. And I'm working on my granmother's socks, I really am. Maybe I'll finish them this weekend, since I'm finally done reading applications and such...

Friday, January 12, 2007

No Excuses (and an FO)

I have been what you might consider busy. In the last week or so I have been up to the following:
1. Serving as the student representative on the microbiology admissions committee, which means I read many applications and passed judgment on them.
2. Taking a class on Research Ethics and Regulation, which has been really interesting but is requiring a fair bit of reading (and inspiring me to consider the idea of going to law school when I'm done here, which would, frankly, be a lot of letters after my name. I think my parents would kill me, but I kind of like the idea of being a career student...).
3. Reading the applications for an annual "This is probably supposed to be confidential" Award, given by the Hutch to the best graduate students around the country. There are 70 applicants, and the applications are long and fairly dense scientific deals that require a lot of concentration to read and consider carefully. Plus, they're all really good, so ranking them is difficult. I think we have to go from 70 to 12 or something. Eh.
4. Considering the fact that I have to give lab meeting on Tuesday, and that I should probably throw something together. This is being thwarted by #3, which has to be done at the Hutch, over their secure internet connection, since the applications are online and supposed to be kept hush hush, being unpublished scientific results.

But, I have been knitting. I finished this scarf:

I don't remember the yarn, I'll have to get back to you on that, but it was very interesting. It was thick/thin 2-ply, and in many of the thick places the thick ply appeared almost unspun and made up of several different colors (vertically) of roving. It's many colors (to state the obvious), so the pattern is a bit obscured, but you can take my word for it that gives the impression of being woven, and that it's pretty cool. It was based on a pattern in Knit Scarves, and was meant to be knit in Colinette Prism. Just before Christmas (and the "enough with the yarn" resolution) I acquired some of that to make myself one of these, so that might happen pretty soon. For this scarf I used all four skeins of whatever the yarn was, and by that I mean ALL of the yarn. I was really concerned during the bind-off, and it was dicey, but all's well that ends well. I alternated skeins because they looked very different in the balls, but I'm not really sure it was necessary and it was exceedingly annoying.

I've also been knitting a secret project (didn't we just do this for Christmas?) and I HAVE been working on my grandmother's second sock. It's now 2 repeats down, 4.5 to go, plus the heel. It'll be done before long, now that I'm working on it again. It's not really that difficult, I think I just have a mental block about picking it up. You know why? It's because the pattern starts each DPN with purl stitches, and I HATE that. I'd even say I abhor it. It results in laddering, and it's awkard, and I detest it. So there. And yes, I have toyed with the idea of moving the stitches around so that the purls weren't on the ends, but then I'd have yarnovers on the ends on some rows, and purls are surely the lesser of those two particular evils.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Santa was good to me

Now that you know what I knit for people this Christmas, let me show off the knitterly presents I received! Here's the haul:
We have Greetings from the Knit Cafe, which has loads of lovely patterns, including a simple hoodie that I can see myself getting a lot of use out of. There is also The Knitter's Book of Finishing Techniques, which might encourage me to finally finish my Hike sweater, and then a novel, Knitting under the Influence. I also received a ball winder (not shown), which has already been put to good use. On the bottom there is a large drop spindle that came along with this:That my friends (go ahead, be jealous) is lovely, oh so soft, caramel brown alpaca. I have a whole pound. 16 ounces. That's a lot of fiber. May I remind you that spinning and I didn't get on overly well during my first attempt this spring? This alpaca has inspired me to give it another go. It's from a local farm, Snowbelt Alpacas, in Edinboro, PA. The fiber and the spindle came from my uncle Adam (and was all his idea, which is amazing), shown here demonstrating the spinning technique he picked up when he got the idea to get this for me for Christmas:

The sideways instead of vertical spindle was a new idea for me but made sense given the weight of the spindle versus the alpaca, and we spun a few (quite bulky) yards in this manner. However, I'm going to borrow Daisy's wheel for a few weeks and give that a go. Hopefully it will be more intuitive to me than the drop spindle!

If I forgot a knitting-type gift I'm really sorry. Please know that it was appreciated but I unpacked everything immediately upon returning to Seattle and things got put away so I might have missed something...

Christmas Wrap-Up

I failed. I admit it. I felt bad, but I'm over it now. I'm sure you can all deduce which of the gifts broke me, but I'll tell you anyway that it was my grandmother's socks. I gifted her one sock. She was less confused than I'd have expected, and although I promised I'd work hard on the second sock while I was at home, that didn't happen. I knit 3 rows of ribbing, and I've still not picked it up again. That's right, I'm still on the ribbing. But I'll get them done soon. As soon as I actually start knitting again, which I've not been too inspired to do (stop the press, this is scary!).
Anyway, now that the gifts are given, I can show them off!
I made this lovely scarf for my mother:

This is the Backyard Leaves scarf, from Scarf Style, knit in Knit Picks Andean Silk. I used almost exactly 4 skeins in "Leaf." There is a long story with this scarf. Last Christmas (2005), I told my mom that I might want to knit her something, and I sent her to Barnes and Noble with a list of the knitting books that I owned and asked her to dig through them and find somethings that she would like to have. This was one of the things she liked, which was great because it was one of the many scarves from that book that I'd planned to knit. So I ordered some yarn and cast on. Soon after I realized something was wrong with my yarnovers (danger sign #1), but couldn't really figure out what it was. I merrily knitted away on the plane on the way home (danger sign #2), but was only about 6 repeats in (of 22) by Christmas so I didn't gift it last year. It languished in the bottom of the knitting basket in the living room until early fall, when I dragged it out for this year's Christmas knititng. At some point in the summer I had sorted out my yarnover problem (turns out I was knitting the next row and twisting the yarnovers, so they weren't opening up properly), and although I could've carried on with the scarf making that same mistake the rest of the way, I figured that would bother me and I didn't want to gift an inferior scarf with 4-6 mistakes every row. So, ripped out it was, and it looked much better the second time around. I knit more than half of it whilst recovering from my getting my wisdom teeth out, but I don't think the painkiller fog resulted in any problems!

This scarf was also a gift, but I talked about it here so I'm going to wax on about it again, just share a photo. This was for my aunt Susan, who has recently moved and now has high-speed internet and claims she is a blog reader. Perhaps she'll comment and let us know, but either way I hope she's enjoying her new scarf! (I'm realizing now that I should've taken photos of the giftees in their gifts, and I think I even thought of that at the time, but I didn't do it).

Let's see. I also made several pairs of felted clogs. You saw Dave's here, but I also made some for my Dad and my uncle Adam. The ones on the left are my dad's, and have a special bonus. My dad broke his hip riding his bike about 15 years ago, and his right leg is slightly shorter than his left, so he usually wears a small lift in his right shoe to compensate, and he has custom-made Birkenstocks that have one thick sole. So, I made one of the slippers with a triple sole (instead of double). I made the mistake of not tacking the soles together (as suggested in the pattern), and the middle sole, which wasn't attached to anything, just set in there, bunched up a bit in the felting, which actually turned out to be a good thing as we were able to shape it into the heel just like the shoe lifts! We felted these on Friday and as of Tuesday they were still drying! I'm going to post about them again since I have a bunch of photos and some impressions on the pattern and yarns, having made 3 pairs.

Last but not least, I made my cousin Andie a hat, which she adored, and wore all day on Christmas and even brought to bed with her. This made me SO happy - it's really great to have something you made be so loved and appreciated! Not the best photo, but you can see the hat pretty well. It's a FiberTrends pattern, knit with Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran. Oh, I also made Andie's brother R.J. a hat, just a simple red ribbed job in superwash Cascade 220, but I didn't get any photos as he wasn't keen on wearing it (but I bet it'll come in handy if winter ever arrives).

So, in all I knit 9 gifts: 3 pairs of felted clogs, 2 scarves, 2 hats, 1.5 pairs of socks (one gifted back at Thanksgiving). There is another scarf on the needles that is a late gift, so I guess that makes 10 gifts. I meant to make 6. Not sure how the increase happened, but I think what happened was that I was ahead of the game back in November and got overly ambitious...

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A New Year is Upon Us (2007? Really? How!)

Sorry for the long gap between posts, but you were warned. I had a lovely vacation at home in PA, and although not much knitting was accomplished, a good time was had by all (I think). Finally I can post about all the Christmas knitting, but I'm going to save that for another post so I can discuss my New Year's resolutions on a date at least close to New Years. So, here goes. As always, I retain the right to change/ignore/keep these resolutions at my discretion...

Resolution 1: @ss off the couch
Everyone resolves to start exercising, or to lose 10 pounds. I have no need for this type of resolution, although I wouldn't object to losing 10 pounds. I'm quite an active person already, so starting exercising isn't really an issue for me. What is an issue is keeping at it consistently, because I am inherently lazy (aren't we all). While running today, it occurred to me that I've been running since 5th grade, and that that was 17 years ago. Let's pause to consider that. I can't believe I'm old enough to have been doing anything for 17 years. Anyway, what I mean to say is that running is something I'm used to doing, and that I've been doing for a long time, and although I've certainly spent some time off the wagon, it rarely lasts very long (months) before I feel guilty about it and lace up the shoes once more. So, I run. My goal with this resolution is to NOT fall off the running wagon, unless of course I injure myself or get on another wagon. The other part of this resolution is to watch less TV (hence the title). At least not on the couch. We'll see how this goes, since not being on the couch might interfere with the knitting. Maybe I'll drag the Poang over.

Resolution 2: Enough with the yarn
Let's face it. I have a lot of yarn. Too much yarn. So much that just looking at it stresses me out a bit. There is a bit of a Knit from your Stash movement going, and I wasn't so into the idea initially, but the more I thought about it the better it seemed. So, I'm going to give it a shot. I'm not going to follow Wendy's rules exactly, because I am weak and I need to start small. So instead of 9 months with no new yarn purchased, I'm going for 6 months, and I'm going to allow myself 3 exceptions, instead of 1 (see earlier point about weakness). Unlike Wendy, I think sock yarn DOES count, but I agree with her that yarn receieved as a gift (ahem) does not, and yarn can be purchased for gifts if there truly is NOTHING in the stash that will work. Let's see how this goes. I promise to tell you if I slip. Knitters are nothing if not forgiving...

Resolution 3: Do something epic
I'm into big things. Big as in difficult things that not everyone has the ability motivation to get involved with. I'm always having the urge to do something epic, but it usually festers just beneath the surface. However, I've been reminded of it from reading the latest issue of Outside. Outside is one of those magazines that I don't subscribe to yet often buy in airports (the other is In Style, but let's not go there). In this issue, they profiled the first person to ski from the summit of the highest peaks on every continent, as well as an ultra-marathon runner and other assorted crazy inspirational people. So I got to thinking I should do something interesting and note-worthy (to close friends and relatives at least, since I have to do something epic yet without a significant risk of death or dismemberment). Something that involves training (see resolution 1), because concrete goals help with motivation. What am I going to do? I'm not sure. I would like to:
1. Run another marathon.
2. Climb something tall and snowy.
There are other things, but they're not really epic, so I'll keep them to myself unless they come up and end up being worthy of note...

What are your resolutions? Oh, and if you can think of something epic for me, please share. Oh, I realize that abstaining from yarn purchasing might actually be an epic undertaking for me, but that's not quite what I have in mind...