Thursday, June 28, 2007

Secret Pal: The Reveal

Well friends, it's over, that wonderful thing we call Secret Pal 10. While the ending is bittersweet (in that it's over, and there won't be any more fun packages to look forward to), I found out that Fawn was my wonderful spoiler! Go now (I'll wait) and check out the adorable octopus she just designed - this is heading straight to the top of the must-knit queue! Whilst designing and knitting George of the eight legs, she managed to put together this great final package for me, with a rainbow theme: Check out these chopsticks - so cute! There is also all I need to try some more Kool-Aid dyeing (and I suspect some Kool-Aid to drink, since I have quite the sweet tooth), a pleasantly scented but not overpowering eucalyptus candle, mini colored pencils (how did she know I love to color?), lip gloss (quite tasty), and a Taurus measuring tape. Until recently I'd never really believed what knitters say about the need for multiple measuring tapes, but lately mine have been running off, so it's great to have another one!

She also included a catnip-stuffed knit toy for Oliver, who is becoming very spoiled. I think I forgot to mention that Amie, my Knitters Tea Swap pal, sent Oliver a felted mouse that she made and stuffed with catnip from her garden (!), so he's been one lucky kitty these last couple of weeks! He was quite interested in his new toy, which reminds me of a manta ray. He helped with the opening: And took a shine to the ray right away:

Thanks for being a great swap pal, and let's keep in touch!

Tomorrow is the kick-off of the Mystery Stole Along, and I'm pretty excited to get started. We'll see how long I can keep up...I don't have a busy weekend planned, so I have hopes for staying with the group at least for this week. Next Friday I will be visiting my family in PA, so I might not have much time to knit. I always take a ton of knitting home but never get much accomplished. I'm sure that I'll overpack the projects again this time - old habits die hard!

Tomorrow I'll try to update you on my progress with the $1.50 cardigan, and wax rhapsodic (or not) about the mystery stole...

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Plan B

Now, I really meant to make the Twisted Flower socks for my Sockapalooza pal. Really I did. I made a valiant (kind of) effort at it, but in the end I decided that, while the pattern is lovely and I would love to make it someday, this is not the day. There's no way I could finish those in time without devoting a lot more effort to them than I am willing or able to. So, I've moved on to something else for my pal. Not that she's not worthy of the original socks, but at 20 minutes a round I just can't spare the time to finish them on a schedule. So, now I'm using this lovely green variegated yarn to make the Angel's Rest socks (from the Fiber Trends Peak Experience Socks pattern). The yarn Monarch sock yarn from Angora Valley Farms, in the Ivy colorway (not currently on their website).

So far I'm about 3.5" into the leg, and I'm really enjoying knitting this pattern. The color is more accurate in the first photo of the yarn cake. Because it's much simpler than my originally intended pattern, the vibes that are going into this sock are much better than my pal would have received from the Twisted Flower socks, so I think this is for the best. Based on previous experience with this brand of yarn, and having seen many sample socks knit with it at various fiber festivals, I expected to have some striping action. I just finished a pair of socks using this yarn in another colorway (need to blog those!), which striped nicely, and that was one of the reasons I chose to use this for this pattern, which is ideal for striping yarns. But, instead of striping I have a bit of a wide spiral going on, as you can see clearly in the photo. I'm actually okay with this and think it looks pretty cool, since all the colors are greens. I hope my pal doesn't mind! I suspect that this yarn would stripe with a different stitch count or without the lace pattern (which I realize isn't apparent from the photo). I've only devoted about 3 hours to these so far and they're moving along quite quickly, which is good since I'll need to start devoting a fair bit of time to lace once the first part of the Mystery Stole pattern is released on Friday!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


One of my birthday presents to Dave was tickets to last night's Mariners-Red Sox game. Now Dave is a HUGE Red Sox fan, so it was a real shame for him and the many other Sox fans at the game (who were no small portion of the crowd) that their boys lost 9-4. We had much better seats than we've had at any previous Mariners game - the vendors even came around to us! And no binoculars needed to see the action. Big success as a present, but Dave is apparently a curse for the Red Sox as they rarely win when he goes to games. On the other hand, I'm good luck for the Mariners, who have won 75% of the games I've attended!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Mystery Stole 3 - The Swatch

I've signed up for Melanie's Mystery Stole 3. As might have been mentioned here in the past, I feel like I want to knit lace, but haven't yet done so successfully. Not because I've screwed it up, but because I've never really gotten going (Both times I've started I've used circular needles, and the combination of the fine yarn, large needles, and the way I knit has made that a tough combo. Straight needles are apparently much better for me with something like lace). However, I love a good puzzle, so I'm giving this a shot. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the mystery stoles, the basic idea is that the pattern is released a bit at a time over a several month period. You don't know what the final pattern will look like until the end, so the whole operation is a big surprise. The recommended colors for this year's theme are black, white, or variations thereof, but I've decided to go against the grain and use purple, as seen here: This is just a swatch, and bears no resemblance to the actual stole pattern. The idea was to determine if there is a good balance between stockinette and yarnovers, which I think there is. For the curious, this is Zephyr (a 50/50 wool/silk blend) in Plum, knit on size 4 needles. After blocking it is 5" across, which means, since the stole is about three times as many stitches, that my finished stole will probably be about 18" (Yes, I can multiply. 5x3 = 15, but more lace = more stretch). The other purpose of the swatch is to practice knitting with beads (recommended for the stole) and to find beads that match well. I bought two types of beads at Fusion Beads, some shiny ones (top) and some dull ones (middle). I'm going to go with the shiny ones because they pop out more and I don't think it'll be worth the effort to do the beading if the beads aren't obvious. The beading is really fun - I've knit with beads before but always used the prestringing method, where the beads were on the yarn and then you just used one when required. However, that method is a bit tough on the yarn, since it has to support the weight of all those beads moving around on it, and thus isn't good for fragile laceweight yarn like my Zephyr. So, I'm putting the beads on as I go with a tiny crochet hook (size 12). The way you do this is described quite well in this Knitty article, but briefly you put a bead on the hook, then pick the stitch up off the knitting needle with the hook, then slide the bead down over the stitch, and replace the stitch on the knitting needle. I then slipped the stitch to the right knitting needle without knitting it, which I think was right but if anyone knows differently please let me know! The first clue comes out on Friday, and I'm pretty excited about it. I'm really hoping that I can get into this stole project and keep up with the group so that the surprise isn't ruined for me. Jennifer is knitting it as well so I'm hoping that will keep me on task!

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Yesterday Dave and I went and picked 15 pounds of strawberries at Biringer Farms. This is what 15 pounds of strawberries looks like: Last night (and tonight) we had strawberry shortcake, one of my favorite desserts. And today I stayed home and played domestic, and made 11 pints of strawberry jam. 11 pints! That is a lot. I also cut up and froze five quarts of berries, some with sugar (for more shortcake) and some without, for Dave's breakfast smoothies. And, now this is all we have left...

I'm planning on giving the small jars of jam as gifts this Christmas and keeping the less decorative large jars for ourselves. I think this is the first time I've made jam by myself and it was really fun and very easy. I'm looking forward to blackberry season!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

One down, four to go

I've finished the first piece of my $1.50 cardigan!

You can't tell from this photo, but this piece (the back) is actually quite wide, and I'm a little bit concerned. I realize I've voiced this worry before, so instead of belaboring the point I'm going to carry on and hope it works out. I ended up starting the armhole shaping at 15" instead of the 18.5" the pattern recommended, although I made the armhole the same depth (well, maybe 1/4" smaller). I think this length will work out much better for me than that in the original pattern. I was a bit torn about which piece to start next, and I've decided, on Jennifer's advice, to do the striped front next (instead of the cabled one), since it matches the back. I think this is a good plan. I intended to cast on the first front tonight but instead worked on the Purdy Plum socks, the second of which is just in need of about 1/2" of ribbing. They will be a Christmas gift, done very early!

Catchin' Up

Like my Tea Swap post, this post is a bit belated. I had a very busy weekend as my friend Heidi came to visit from Chicago. Heidi is a good friend from college, and one of the few I've really kept in touch with since we graduated 6 (gasp!) years ago. Heidi arrived on Friday, and Saturday we went to the Fremont Solstice Parade. I've decided to spare you the naked cyclist photos, just in case there are any children watching (although there were plenty of children at the parade, including some in bike seats behind their naked parents, which I suspect will result in expensive therapy a few years down the road). I really liked these penquins, as well as these crazy water-dinosaurs (really I'm not sure what they were meant to be). The parade wasn't as good as in the past, mostly due to even more disorganization than usual and the "chalk fairies," who were kids that came around distributing sidewalk chalk to the audience while also writing on the street, which took forever and really destroyed the momentum from the naked cyclists. Heidi and I were quite crafty. I taught her how to purl (after teaching her to knit almost three years ago), and we almost got to circular needles but ran out of visit time. That will be tackled when I go to Chicago for Labor Day weekend. Saturday night we dyed yarn: This is mine, pre-reskeining, and I'll show you Heidi's when she sends me a photo of the skein. We also made paper:Above is the always-attractive pouring-of-the-pulp shot, and here is some of what we made: Making paper is really addictive, being fast and cheap. If one sheet doesn't go well, you've really lost nothing, you just rip up some more paper and begin again!

We also did some sightseeing. Here I am at the original Starbucks, near Pike Place Market. This is Pike Place Fish Co., the infamous fish throwing booth in the market: Check out the size of that Copper River salmon on the right! We also got to see a lovely sunset city view from West Seattle: And Heidi got to meet the Fremont troll. Yes, that is a genuine Volkswagon Beetle he's crushing! We had a lovely dinner outside at Aqua Verde on Monday night (even saw some otters), and here is a group shot of everyone but me, since I was, as usual, the photographer.Clockwise from the left: Kristen, Shibani, Paul (Rachel's husband), Rachel, Heidi, and Dave. It was really great to see Heidi, and I hope she had a good time as well!
I have loads of knitting to show and talk about, so keep your eyes peeled for a post with actual knitting content soon!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Belated Tea Swap Post!

Friday I received this wonderful package from Amie, my Knitters Tea Swap pal!

Look at all the great loot she sent! There are two kinds of yarn, including one she spun (in a Mama-E colorway named Amie!) herself (the pink), and some Inspirations Yarn in the Espresso colorway. And, there were cute stitchmarkers (on the pink yarn), great cards, and a nifty purse that it took Dave, Heidi, and I to get properly assembled. Of course there was also tea - several black varieties including a Darjeeling that I'm particularly excited about and one fairly strong earthy smelling tea that frightens me a bit but which I will certainly try. And there was a book, by Edward Gorey, who I really like (how could she know?), and a striped bag full of saltwater taffy straight from Ocean City. I love saltwater taffy - it's almost gone already! Not easy to photograph, pardon the blurriness...Thank you Amie, I really love everything you sent, and it's been fun getting to know you! Sorry this post was a bit tardy but I had a friend in town for the weekend - more about that later!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Getting on with it...

I've had it. I need to get this off my chest, because let me tell you, it's been a heavy burden to bear. Before you worry that I'm pregnant, dropping out of graduate school, and/or about to reveal a giant tattoo, what I mean is that I need to finish the Hike sweater. It was two years ago this weekend that I bought the yarn, at the annual Acorn Street sidewalk sale, and yet here is the sweater, still not finished. And so close to being finished - in fact, finished except for the finishing. It's the seaming that has be stymied, because at this point I'm quite adept at picking up stitches. I am a bit concerned about the zipper, but I'm sure I can do it, or do buttons instead (unlikely, since I already bought the zipper). There was a bit of a rash seaming incident last fall, wherein I seamed the sides (well) and the shoulders (poorly), without heeding the instructions that suggested seaming the shoulders, then setting in the sleeves, then doing the side seams. So I put the whole mess away. Again. For long enough that Jennifer suggested I pay her to seam the thing for me. Which I really almost took her up on. Still might, honestly. But, I should and must learn to do these things myself. Right?
So, Wednesday night I retrieved the sweater from behind the sofa and removed all my previous seams. I began again. I even got out my book of finishing techniques. I did the first shoulder seam three times before it was acceptable to me (not perfect, but acceptable), and the second shoulder is even better. Then I tackled the first sleeve, which went fairly well, and I'm halfway through the second. This took me all night. It was a slog. And I'm not positive I'm happy with it yet, but I'm charging along and assessing as I go. And I feel good about at least trying to finish this, which is by far my oldest UFO.

My friend Heidi is coming to visit this weekend, and I'm really excited to see her. She is my first visitor who is not a) related to me by blood, or b) travelling with someone who is. I really hope the weather cooperates for us. It's been raining all morning and it's looking like it's going to be a bit chilly. But, it's been stiflingly hot in Chicago so maybe our misery will be a welcome relief for Heidi. The apartment has been cleaned, and Dave has lost the use of his precious quilt for the weekend (hehe - this means I get my down comforter!!!). Tomorrow we'll be watching the naked cyclists (yes) at the Fremont Solstice Parade, but otherwise the weekend is open. I'll be sure to let you know what we get up to. Let me know if you'd like to see the naked (but painted) cyclists, or if the blog should remain family-friendly!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Playing Favorites

I love turquoise. And it's closely related cousin teal. This of course is neither a shock nor a surprise to anyone who knows me in the flesh, especially those who have had occasion to visit a clothes or yarn shop with me. I gravitate to dark turquoise like a moth to the flame. I don't actually have that much teal/turquoise clothing, but what I do have I wear quite frequently. I do however have more turquoise purses than the average person, even accounting for the large number of total bags in my possession. In fact I have three turquoise purses:
The one on the left is the most frequently used, and it is truly a great bag. Large enough to store a lot of stuff, plus it keeps its shape nicely and has many pockets. I got it in Vancouver last summer. In fact, my mother bought one first, and after watching her carry it around the rest of that day, I had to have one myself, and we trekked all over Robson Street until we found one at a different Aldo. I believe my mother has also been making good use of hers. In the middle is a floppy bag I got in Chicago last summer, which I haven't used much because one of the little closures came off the first time I used it and I feel awkward using a defective purse (although it's really not that obvious, and I have the brad, and should get around to fixing it). On the right is my seatbelt purse, which is one of my favorites. It's great because it stands up on its own and has metal bits on the bottom so it doesn't get dirty when you set it down. It was a Christmas gift from my cousin Alysha a couple of years ago, and it was a perfect gift because I had been wanting one for quite awhile.
So, with my love of turquoise and teal, it should come as no surprise that I dyed some turquoise yarn. In my dyeing experience, such as it is, I've found that my best results come from the turquoise, teal, and green dyes. They seem to be the most intense of the dyes I've tried so far. So, here is my lovely turquoise skein:
I haven't reskeined it yet, and I'm not sure if I will. I was actually thinking of trying to sell some of my dyed yarns, so this was actually a trial skein for that. Of course, being turquoise I really love it and I'm not sure it can be parted from me. We'll see. That is a giant skein, about 600 yards, of Kona superwash. When I first mentioned having done some recent dyeing, I alluded to the fact that there was a not-quite-successful skein, and in the interest of full disclosure here is a peek at that one.
It's actually not as bad as I initially feared, and I'm calling it Berries & Cream. It's a wool/mohair blend, quite soft and silky. I'm thinking of making some armwarmers or a hat with it (there are 110 meters), just to see how it knits up.
You may have noticed a moderately new addition to my sidebar, the "What I'm Reading Via Daily Lit" text block. First off, let me say that it was a major accomplishment for me to get anything into the sidebar. This is why I have no buttons or links on my blog - I am apparently not smart enough to figure it out. But, the Daily Lit people had good instructions, and it worked out for me just fine. Anyway, Daily Lit is a really cool (I think) idea. They take public domain books, which are off copyright, and send them to you in small (about 5 minutes or less to read) sections each day over email. Absolutely free. I was a bit worried that it would be difficult to get involved in a book reading such short sections at a time, but if so inclined you can have them email you another section as soon as you finish one. I've been doing that a fair bit, which is why I'm so much further into the Edgar Allen Poe than the Dickens, even though I started them at the same time. So far I've made it through the first short story in the Poe, which was The Unparalleled Adventures of One Hans Pfaal. It was quite an enjoyable story, and not as macabre as most of the Poe I've read previously. I do read a fair bit at home, but I also spend a lot of time in lab waiting around for things to incubate, become infected, thaw, etc, so I think Daily Lit is great. While I can't exactly whip out a book in lab (well, maybe a textbook), I can sit at my computer with impunity covertly reading Dickens. So, there you go. I'm sold.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Stripes ahoy!

Voila, the Striped Baby Blanket is finished!!! I finished weaving in ends just in the nick of time, and I think it turned out great. I'm really happy with it, and proud of Dave for sticking with it even when we were arguing about it constantly. I'd say he knit about half of the blanket, which is no small feat. I however, wove in all the ends. Yes, I would like a medal!

Project Stats: Striped Baby Blanket for Kristin

Pattern: Um, stripes? In either the two or four row variety. Inspired by yarn I had in the stash! The blanket is about 23x28".

Yarn: Cascade Cotton Rich, in 11 colors, If you want to know I can list them later. Six of them I had in the stash, from the Fiber Gallery sale last year, and some Dave purchased on the internets. Because I am a bad blogger I can't find where we bought the yarn, but they were super speedy with the shipping and I'd order from them again, if I could find them...we have the card at home. We used less than one skein of each color, and had a lot left of some of the colors that we used less frequently.

Needles: Size 8 Clover bamboo, 28" circular.

Time to knit: Something like 6 weeks. Dave and I both worked on this, and we procrastinated a lot at the beginning, or it would have gone faster.Impressions: This was SO fun to knit! I love the simplicity of the stripes, and how bright and cheerful they are. The cotton/nylon blend was a bit tough on the hands at times, which we could have solved by going up a needle size or two, but we decided to live with it because the size 8 needles produced a nice dense fabric. I think I prefer the wrong size (extreme close-up above), but both are nice, of course. If I do this again I think I'll do one and three row stripes, so that I can have some of that cool wrong-side look. Plus, I could have fringe, instead of weaving in ends until I was blue in the face and my back was killing me. Honestly, I've never seen so many ends. It took me at least 5 hours to weave them in. We gifted the blanket to Kristin and Mike last night, and I will say it was difficult to let it go. However, they loved it, and Dave and I are crossing our fingers that it will become the baby's favorite blanket. You know, the one that gets carried around everywhere until it's falling apart? That's what I want. Although this baby (the blanket) is pretty sturdy, so it might take quite a bit of abuse before that happens!

In other news, Anne-Marie and I attended the Seattle Knit-in-Public event on Saturday, and I won a door prize!It was donated by Pacific Fabrics, and contained a book (Quick Knits: Cool Projects), a clear needle sizer/ruler (the transparency is a good idea, so you can see the stitches under the ruler), a notepad, and a giant stitch holder. The book isn't one I would've picked out myself, but there are some patterns with potential in there. It was a nice thing to win, since I never win anything!

Both of the swaps I'm participating in are wrapping up this week, which is both sad and exciting. I mailed my Knitters Tea Swap package off to Amie this afternoon, and I'll be sending my final Secret Pal package this week as well. I'm really excited to find out who has been spoiling me!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Knits in Action

Dave and I went to a Mariners game last night, and it was darn cold, even with the stadium roof closed. So, I got to break out the Endpaper Mitts! The nosebleed seats, which prevented us from seeing the right fielder, did allow us a lovely view of downtown and Elliot Bay. We got there early enough to see some of the Baltimore Orioles batting practice, which was pretty cool. I've been to many baseball games but never seen that.In this picture they are actually opening the retractable roof, which had to be closed later in the game due to impending rain (which began in earnest while we were walking to the bus, of course). The roof is amazing - it opens and closes quite quickly, and very quietly. I was impressed. This was our view - we were pretty far up there: If I go to another game I'm getting better seats. These were free, from a scientific product show, and really they aren't that bad, but I'd like to be closer to the action. I took knitting, but left it in the bag. The game was fun, and we won, due to an exciting 7th inning, so it was a successful adventure!

Thank you for all the comments on my socks! I'm going to try to work on them a bit this evening, having just spent two hours at knitting club weaving in the ends of that baby blanket (still not finished either). For Jen, the pattern is Twisted Flower Socks, by Cookie A. You can buy the pattern online and in some shops, but I think online is probably the easiest way to go!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Sock Update, and Project Spectrum Plans

You know, I didn't knit a stitch between Thursday night and today at lunch. Just not feeling the love from any of the knits at the moment I guess. Thursday I made some progress on my Sockapalooza socks, but these babies are going so slowly. The cabling on tiny DPNs is tedious. Not really difficult, just exceedingly awkward, and I have really tiny hands. I can't imagine what it would be like trying to wrangle all of the needles with large hands. Here's a progress shot: I apologize that you can't really see the pattern very well - red is very difficult to photograph. I really need to make some progress on these. As you can see, I've started using a stitch holder as a cable needle. I initially tried an extra DPN, but it was too long and got in the way, and then I tried my smallest cable needle, but it was also awkward, so I went with this plan. One of the women at Weaving Works suggested I try a toothpick, which is not a bad idea. We'll see. I like the way the leafy bit at the top of the sock (bottom of photo) looks, but I'm not sure that the cables are standing out enough. I think I really need to finish the first repeat before doing anything rash, like ripping it out and making my pal some plain stockinette socks!
June finds us at the beginning of a new set of Project Spectrum colors! For June and July the colors are red, black, and metallics. Lucky for me I'm already knitting in those colors! I'm working on the red socks, as well as my red $1.50 cardigan (which I have been working on, just not showing). I think I'll be lucky to finish either or both of those during these two months, since Eunny's Anemoi Mittens are pulling at me (I might swatch tonight, if I get my lab meeting preparations done at a reasonable hour). I have a black hat in the queue as well. We shall see how much is accomplished. Summer is always busy so I suspect the knitting might suffer.
Last night I dyed some yarn - one beautiful turquoise skein and one not-so-lovely burgundy and dark blue-grey skein. The latter I feel might improve greatly upon reskeining, and will be probably be quite nice once knit, but isn't looking overly attractive hanging in my shower. Photos when it's dry, even of the ugly one!
Today I got to play with the following dangerous and exciting goodies:
1. Phenol - Corrosive, extremely poisonous and easily absorbed through the skin
2. Chloroform - Anesthetic, poisonous
3. Acrylamide - Carcinogen, neurotoxin
All so that later in the week I can use these:
1. Formamide - Not good for the reproductive system
2. Formaldehyde - Corrosive, mutagenic, extremely toxic
3. P32 - Radioactive

The science, it's good times I tell ya'!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Happy Birthday Oliver!

Today is Oliver's second birthday! Happy Birthday!!!You were so little when we adopted you at 4 months old. Much smaller than your brother, who was half again your size. We were cautiously optimistic that you would stay that small, even though I had heard that male orange tabbies tend to be sizable beasts...
I knit you a lovely cat bed, which you played with a bit but didn't really understand the point of. Now instead of using it as a toy, you use it to store your toys, which you dig out as needed (Never put them back though, do you?).
However, you didn't stay so small, and in fact now at 2 years old, you're quite a big boy. Not fat. Let's go with big-boned.

You are still inquisitive, although that large cat tree, your birthday present last year, will be going back to Mud Bay Granary, since you've never shown any interest in it whatsoever.

Your size makes you quite good for cuddling,although it can be a bit rough when you sleep on my head. You look quite adorable all stretched out in your elongated kitty pose:

But perhaps you are at your cutest when fast asleep: Happy Birthday Oliver, and may all your days be full of fuzzy mice and catnip!