Wednesday, January 27, 2010

O for Olympics!

It's time to start thinking about the Knitting Olympics.

I've actually been thinking about it for awhile now, and I've been thinking that I want to knit a sweater. Four years ago, when the Yarn Harlot started this whole thing, knitting a sweater in two weeks seemed more than a little crazy.

But now I hope it's not the sort of thing that gets one committed, because I have committed. I'm going to be making the February Lady sweater, and I'm going to do it between February 12 and February 28. (Yes, the dates helped me make the final decision. Knitting the February Lady sweater in February makes a certain amount of sense.)

I broke out the Christmas money and visited Mary Lynn's Yarn Garden, and came up with this great yarn - Cascade Lana d'Oro. It's a wool/alpaca blend, and the colors are just beautiful. It's also just $6.00 a skein, which makes it a very attractive choice - knitting a sweater suddenly became a much cheaper undertaking. I bought four skeins, and Mary Lynn graciously offered to hold a fifth for me, so I don't have to buy more yarn than I need or risk her running out. Four skeins will cover what the pattern calls for, but I suspect I'll be making a somewhat longer sweater with longer sleeves. Mary Lynn wound all the yarn for me (except for the skein on hold), so now I just have to wait until the Opening Ceremonies. That may be the hardest part.

Knitting hasn't been the only craft on my mind lately. Emilio Santini came to Illinois Wesleyan, so we got to go see him lecture last night, demonstrate lampworking today, and hang out with him at a party. My fingers are absolutely itching to get back at a torch. I don't know how I'm going to wait until summer.

Just look at the cool stuff he made. This is a bug, more or less bug-sized. The antennae are lopsided because he was demonstrating two different ways to make bug antennae.

In the picture of Emilio, he's making a glass goblet. He also made a tiny goblet from some leftovers - that's the yellow one here, pictured alongside the blue one owned by a glass collector, and a quarter for perspective. (The glass collector proved to be a retired zookeeper. That may be one of the coolest professions ever for bringing up at parties.)

We also had a great time at the post-demo gathering. One of Aaron's colleagues lives in a renovated retail building; he and his wife have studios on the first floor, and the second floor is a nifty apartment. I'm not sure it's good for us (or me, really) to go see other people's fixed-up houses, as it creates far too many ideas. I know there's no good way to fit a big, free-standing bathtub into our little bathroom, but I just can't stop wishing we could.

And I can't wait for summer, when I can lampwork. Or the 12th, when I can start my sweater. I need to knit to calm down.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

N is for...


I'm being nagged to do housework, and I love it.

People who have been to my house know that I'm a rotten housekeeper. People who haven't been to my house might guess, based on evidence like this, that I'm a rotten housekeeper.

I've tried to get better, but it just doesn't work. A system like Fly Lady seemed nice, but I just couldn't stand all the cutesy sayings or the obsession with shoes, and it seemed to be geared towards stay-at-home mothers who lived in fully equipped houses and did all the domestic work. So I kept hoping that sooner or later someone would start a Fly Lady for adults - cleaning for the rest of us.

Enter NaggyBitch. Ravelry's latest character, she encourages us to do housework every day, starting with "just make the 3#$$%! bed." Next thing I know, I'm actually cleaning.

So, the house is starting to look pretty good. I can probably even show it to my mother. I just can't tell her who's encouraging me to clean it.

Speaking of my mother, I've finished her birthday present. It's blocked out to a nice size, I think, and it seems to fit like it's supposed to. So I'll be delivering this to its new owner soon.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

For Mothers and Babies

The Meret is finished, and blocking. Now I just have to wait for it to dry, then it's ready to ship. I'm not sure it will get there in time for Mom's birthday, but I'm not sure I want to go out to the post office, anyway. Everything is covered in ice right now, so there's no point in leaving home (or chipping out my car) if I don't have to.

It appears to be big enough, and it appears to be the right shape - snug around the ears, but loose on top. With the blocking, it should also appear to have a nice lace pattern. Properly blocking a beret can be a challenge, but I hope that just stretching the top over a dinner plate will do the job.

While that dries, I have a new project in progress - gifts for friends who are expecting their first child in February. I stocked up on Encore Colorspun on Saturday (I'm not a big acrylic fan, but this is a nice yarn for people who don't want to handwash), so I can get through some baby projects. I cast on this Iceland Tri-Corner Hat yesterday, and probably would have finished it last night if I hadn't messed up.

You can see here that I didn't pay attention to the direction of the grafting, and wound up with one of the tails in the center. I just wasn't in the mood to pick out stitches right before bed. But now it's all done, and I hope it's baby-sized. I modified the pattern to use the worsted-weight yarn, so it's Size 6 needles and I cast on 64 stitches. The i-cord tails are about 2" long, which may be just a bit much. I think babies have big heads. Does anyone know if babies have big heads?

I'm not so sure that they have big feet, though, so I think these may get frogged. I'm planning to make a pair of the Multicolored Sockies from Socks, Socks, Socks, but my Size 4 needles have produced an awfully big sole. Whatever size they wind up being, I'm likely to have a baby gift finished before the baby is born. Then I'll have just three more babies to go. For now.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

"M" is for...

Meret. Mine is almost done, and since I'm at the crown, it should go pretty quickly now. I made a lot of progress last night while watching the Colts win their first playoff game, so I'll look for more football today in hopes of getting it finished.

Mother. The Meret is a birthday gift, so it needs to go in the mail by Wednesday. I've decided to go with the "slouchy," but not "extra slouchy," option, so it should keep her ears warm without squishing her hair. I think the lace will open up nicely once I block it, and it should be plenty slouchy then.

Mojo. I went to my first knit-gathering at Ewe Knits yesterday, and brought along the Mojo Sock. It's not my first priority project right now, but it seemed appropriate to work on there. I'm close to finishing the first sock, I think. Next time I'm working on it when I'm not in polite company, I'll try it on and see how much longer it needs to be. The official deadline for the knitalong is February 10, and with the Olympics approaching that's a good one to try to meet.

and Me. Flat Me. A friend's daughter sent us a "Flat Me" doll, so we're supposed to take her out for adventures. Bloomington in the winter doesn't offer much in the way of adventures, but we're doing our best. So she went out to the Normal Theater on Friday to see Our Man in Havana. I think she's going to make a college visit tomorrow, and I'll try to find some other exciting places to go. Sooner or later, she's going to get some knitwear, too.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Post-Christmas Projects

I've been sort of cleaning up from the Christmas knitting, finishing the half finished projects.

For Christmas, I made half a dozen sets of Totos and Tribbles to give as presents. I like to make sure that everyone who comes over for Christmas has something to open, but with 35-4o people I have to set a pretty tight budget. So these seemed like a good gift, even counting the original cost of the stash yarn. I think they went over well, as every person who got one had to try using it as a hand puppet.

Toto is a nifty design from the second Mason-Dixon Knitting book, and it's not a beginner's project. It uses several funky knitting techniques - picked up stitches, a 3-needle bindoff, and an I-cord bindoff, but they all serve a purpose, and create an object that's both functional and decorative. That sounds like the embodiment (or empotholderment) of Craftsman principles to me - so as we work on our house, I'm sure the kitchen is going to include some Totos.

It's a good thing they work so well, because they're absolutely addictive to make. I finished this set right after Christmas.

And I just finished this one tonight. The pink yarn is left over from my Son of Dish Rag Tag dishrag. I fell in love with its ice-cream colors as I was knitting with it the first time, so I'm glad to have found a project that will stay with me me to use the rest of it.

The Tribbles are addictive, too. Here's the post-Christmas Tribble production. In addition to the ones that join potholders in the kitchen, I have visions of having a whole basket of them in the bathroom, to use as bath scrubbies. I love handknit washcloths, but they often stretch too much - the Tribbles probably won't have that problem.

I still have a Christmas project or two to finish (start, in one case), but I can't show you those in case the eventual recipients see them. However, I know my mother doesn't hang out on line, so I can share the next project I'll start, as soon as I decide what it is.

Mom wants a hat. Specifically, she wants a hat that keeps her ears warm, but that doesn't squish down her hair. I'm not exactly sure what sort of hat that would be, but I'm pretty sure that Mom also wants a hat that's machine washable, so I picked up this Plymouth Encore at Mary Lynn's, and it's going to be Mom's hat.

I've narrowed the pattern choices down to two - either Meret, or the Warm-Ears hat. I think it's going to be Meret, because it's prettier. Warm-Ears might be closer to what she wants, but I can't be sure without trying it on her, and that would ruin the surprise.

The next decision is about the Knitting Olympics. I'm thinking about going for broke and trying to do a sweater - a sweater using a heavy yarn and big needles. Since I'm still "between opportunities" jobwise, a sweater really seems possible - and it's cold right now. I looked at the February Lady sweater and Bella Paquita, and after reading all the comments about difficulties with the latter decided to do February Lady. But then I looked at yarn. Little Knits has some great yarns at great prices, but once shipping enters the equation the prices become much less great. So I think I'll do a round of the local yarn stores before I make any firm decisions - the Olympics aren't until February, anyway. I'll hope to have my Christmas knitting finished by then.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


It's been cold here since before Christmas.

It's easy to tell that it's cold, because this is what I see for most of the day. Usually, the VeryBadDogs don't hang out so close to each other, so when they start stacking I know it must be cold.

This is how I've been trying to fix it. Christmas leftovers were a bit disappointing this year, because there were no rolls left. There was a time when my sister-in-law would make absolutely wonderful yeast rolls for Thanksgiving and Christmas. She'd rub butter over the top of them as soon as they came out of the oven, and keep them warm on top of the stove. They were delicious fresh, and we'd snack on the leftovers for days. These days, another sister-in-law brings rolls from a favorite restaurant. They're not quite as good as homemade, but there were good enough that there weren't any leftovers. These Betty Crocker rolls, mixed in a bread machine, turn out to be a reasonably adequate substitute - for the restaurant rolls, if not for the homemade ones. Having to turn the oven on is just a bonus.

I'm progressing on the Mojo knitalong socks, although I haven't made it over for the knitting yet. We had a pretty heavy snowfall, and it seemed more sensible to stay home and knit. Once I started knitting with the Half-Blood Prince, I had to pull out the book and re-read it, too. So it's been a magical week to start off the new year.

This is proving to be a nifty yarn. Here's how it looked in the skein,

and here's how it's knitting up. It's a funky-looking sock on its own, but looks nice on. I'm about to start the heel, and rather than doing the pattern's afterthought heel I'm doing a short-row heel. I've never liked short-row heels, but I want the sock to be done when it's done. Maybe this week I'll make it over to Ewe Knits to show off my progress.

Friday, January 01, 2010


Wow, it's been a long time since I've blogged.

If I were to make New Year's Resolutions, "more blogging" would be a good place to start. Usually I don't make resolutions, but that's no reason why I can't blog more, and maybe try to Get Some Things Done with the New Year.

Thing #1 is knitting! I took knitting with me to the great New Year's celebration I attended last night, but didn't have a chance to get it out. We went down to Indianapolis, to a new club called Radio Radio, for a concert by the Born-Again Floozies and the Leisure Kings. You may remember the Leisure Kings from an earlier meeting with one of my socks - celebrating with them, and checking out the Floozies, was an easy choice to make. The two groups came together at midnight for an absolutely wonderful rendition of "Bohemian Rhapsody" - about halfway through they switched from the real lyrics to Christmas Carols, and somehow it worked perfectly, right to the "in excelsis Deo" at the end.

But knitting. We're talking about knitting. I didn't do any knitting at the concert, but I did see this great knit hat. I probably should have gone over to see if the hat's wearer was also the hat's knitter, but I never quite made it. If anyone recognizes the owner or the pattern, I'd love to hear about it.

And now for my New Year's knitting! I like to start a project on New Year's Day, even if I'm otherwise trying to cut down. This year there are two projects:

First is a very plain pair of socks, knit in some Fortissima Socka "Graffiti" yarn. It won't be the most exciting knitting, but it gives me a good in-car project. I cast on last night after getting home, and the knitting here is the result of the three-hour trip home. (Aaron's been wonderful throughout the holiday season about driving so I could knit, and so I took advantage of that.) The colorway is called "A Sunny Forecast," which makes a good wish for the new year, so it's a good New Year's project.

The second one is for a knitalong. Ewe Knit, one of the local yarn stores, has started a knitalong for the Mojo Socks, so even though I've never been to a get-together there, I decided to join in. The yarn is from Cosmic Fibers, a superwash merino in the Half Blood Prince colorway. It was a gift from Amethyst Aurag for one of the Hogwarts Sock Kit Swaps, and this magical pattern seems like the perfect excuse to use it!

So, now it's time to get down to knitting. And to blogging more regularly, I hope.