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...