Monday, April 2, 2012

a funky little scarf

This little gem is the start of the Dotted Scarf from the book Odd Ball Knitting by Barbara Albright. This book has a brilliant concept - use up leftover bits of yarn in functional, funky projects. I'd like to do a bit more in-depth of the review later, and instead talk about the genesis of this scarf.

See, last Friday I was hanging out at the yarn store where I work (big surprise, right? me, in a yarn store?) and one of my coworkers was going through the scrap box. See, we knit samples for the store, and whatever's left of the skein gets but into this box. We mostly had small scraps, in between ping-pong and tennis ball size, but we also had nearly a whole skein of this lovely dark green. Sans label and unfit for sale.

This scarf is really neato-nifty because it's this combination between knitting and weaving, using one main color for the knitting and (in the book) one contrasting color for the weaving, which you do as you go along. The mechanics were a bit tricky at first, but once I got the hang of it I was flying. Instead of using one contrast color, I'm using a multitude of colors and only doing two rows, leaving the ends to hang free all on the same side. All different colors, fibers, textures, and thicknesses. When I'm finished the fringe will be knotted and trimmed on the side, and we'll have a funky scarf to display with the book. Best part is, anyone can use their scrap stash for this project, but you still need that full skein for your main color.

Its so funny, I get so oddly attached to these scrap projects. I made a really simple quick crocheted shawl out of mismatched skeins and balls I had leftover from a large project and it's one of my favorite shawls. I'm going to have a hard time leaving this one at the yarn store.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Day in Pictures

Okay, one picture.

Sunrise socks, toe-up, ready for the heel!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Ever have one of those days?

When it just seems like the simple things are out to get you? You bang your elbow folding up a footstool, get stuck on top of a refrigerator, and can't seem to manage a simple four-stitch repetition over a number of stitches.

My friend's baby is coming in June and I still don't have even the center portion of her blanket done. First there were the flowers. Then I found out they were having a boy. I tried one pattern that I really loved for the middle, but the edges were wavy and wouldn't take a straight border. Sad. Tried a different pattern with slipped stitches that go off in opposing directions, didn't like it (read: kept screwing up a simple four-stitch repetition). Now I'm contemplating a fourth pattern, got halfway through the 90-some stitch cast on and remembered I'm supposed to do a provisional. Or, well, I should do one since I plan on having the border go all the way around. Personally I prefer the crochet provisional cast-on, but I'm willing to learn any others as well.

I give in. This blanket does not want to be knit tonight. I must listen to it, and work on my sock instead.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Hunger Games

I finally caved and read the Hunger Games (the first book). First of all, I really can't get over the fact that the kid's name is Peeta (pita) and he makes bread.

Ok, all joking aside, this was a well written book. It is good because it is powerful, compelling, and memorable. Now, having that out of the way, I didn't like it. I hated it. I wanted to throw it down and wash my hands, my eyes, and my brain of the complete violence of Panem. The worst part was the calculating brutality of it all. By children. The manipulation just left such a bad taste in my mouth, not only of the citizens by the capitol, but Katniss herself. Sure, she used everything she had to stay alive, and she was clever, and brave, and strong, and I think she does love Peeta even if she doesn't know it yet, but almost every move just seemed so ruthlessly calculating. I guess you have to be, in a death arena.

I'm going to the midnight premier with a whole bunch of friends from work, and I'm almost dreading it. I don't like violence. I don't like brutality. I don't like people using other people, especially for entertainment. I know I'm going to cry in front of all my friends.

I was telling another friend that I was going, and she hadn't read the Hunger Games yet. She asked what it was about, and when I told her it was about a dystopian society whose posh ruling city forces each district to sacrifice two children a year to compete in a death match for televised entertainment, I got this response:

"That's f---ed up."

I know I'm going against the tide here. I will re-state: the book was good. I choose to be one of those people who spends my leisure hours engaged in pleasant and challenging tasks, like figuring out how to turn a heel on a sock. Maybe I'm just a sensitive soul, but my life has enough drama. While a tear-jerker romance may be good on a rainy day, or a thriller on-screen is a nice diversion if you have someone's shoulder to bury your face into, this one was just one step over the line for me.

ETA: I think (after talking to a few more of my friends) I've really hit on what it is that bothers me about this book so much. It's everyone's reaction to it. I swear, if I see another "Team Peeta" or "Team Gale" sign (a la Twilight) I'm gonna hurl. This book makes an overt political statement in a completely barbaric way, and all people seem to go gaga over is a stupid teenage love triangle. That's what bothers me.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

You Know the Saying

Always be prepared. Spring cleaning has hit me full force, and in the course of tidying up, I've rediscovered the wonder that is my closet (Ness's 30 for 30  posts have me inspired), lost $60 (I always lose something when I clean), done all the laundry, cleaned out my corners, and went through my purse. I realized I have a lot of random knit stuff floating around in the bottom of my purse, and I also usually always have a project with me, so I decided to collect it all in one place. If you know a knitter, little knit kits like this can make a fabulous gift idea. You can even decorate and repurpose an old tin or sew a zippered pouch... the possibilities are endless.

On the left are my sheepy stitch markers! I keep them in the mini altoids tin, along with a yarn cutter, point protectors, a needle threader and a few yarn needles. Above that is a small ball of yarn. Why the yarn? My little pouch isn't quite big enough for a stitch holder, and would only hold a small one at that, so the yarn can be threaded through live stitches to hold them off the needle, or can be inserted as a lifeline in charted pieces. Handy, yarn is. Immediately to the right of that is my tape measure, which helps measure garments, but also gauge, and if you wrap yarn around your needle, can also measure your wraps per inch (helpful in determining yarn weight if your label has gone on walkabout). Below that is a "LastLine" bookmark. It's lightweight and clips to the side of your page, with a point and a window the same size as a line of print. Never lose your place in your pattern again. Other items include a row counter, a pencil, a cable needle, and a crochet hook (cut short) for picking up stitches. It all fits in that little pouch on the right.

Now, if I can just find that sixty bucks, I'll be back in business. I know it's around here somewhere.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Liliaceae Saga, Part II: The Kool-Aid Tragedy

When we last left off, I was in the middle of an experiment over-dyeing (as in dyeing over, not super saturating) one of my original purple swatches (top right). The 1/2-blue-1/2-purple swatch (on the left) was too blue, so originally I dyed the shawl with a 5/1 ratio of purple to blue (the shawl was 5.5 oz, and it's recommended to use 1 package of kool-aid (no knock-offs) per ounce). I wasn't happy with the color, so I took my second purple swatch and dyed it again in a less concentrated blue wash (top middle). I loved that color, so I did the shawl. Didn't like it.

In the end, though, I have to live with it because I'm not dyeing/blocking the thing a third time. It is an interesting color... in artificial light it still looks brown, but in the sun you can see the red and purple tones. Truly, not even photoshop can alter the photo enough to give the color justice.

It's wonderfully soft and light.

And oh-so-drapey.

Now I'm on to my next project. This is my baby henley with a "quilted" pattern. Yes, that one little sheet of paper with chart and scribbles is the entire pattern. I've been on a designing kick lately... the chainlink hat, two baby blankets, a shawl, a convertible shrug, and now the henley (which also might possibly have an incarnation as a v-neck cardigan). Only the hat, one of the blankets, and the henley is in progress, but we'll see. Usually the process starts with a stitch pattern or a theme and radiates out from there. It occured to me the other day that I design knitwear the way I cook: if I don't know how to make something, I'll look at a bunch of recipes and cobble together my own.

So far, so good. Now I just need a baby to try it on.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Liliaceae Saga (aka the Karma Shawl)

About a month ago my mother and I went to the Amana Colonies and, at my insistence, we went to the Woolen Mill. I love this place. Not necessarily the clothing they sell (definitely not my style), but you can see back into the mill and see the huge looms and fondle all the wool blankets, and occasionally they have mill-end yarn for sale. On this particular day two ladies were there, spinning on wheels in the middle of the factory floor. I stopped to talk with them, and in the course of our conversation (which was delightedly long and animated) she pressed skein after skein of homespun into my hands. I insisted I couldn't, but she insisted I do, so in the end I walked away with about one thousand yards of her yarn, all natural and undyed. All in all there was a 200-yard skein of lambswool silk (so so soft), 300 yards of buffalo(!), and a 500-yard skein of llama. I nearly cried I was so happy and grateful.

I decided that there was no way I could keep all of it. No way. But since she wasn't taking any of it back (and I have her business card), I would knit her something and give it back in return.

I picked the liliaceae shawl from ravelry. It's part scarf, part shawl, and I had the right amount and weight of the yarn I needed, so I cast on. And I knit. I loved the charted lace, the short rows were new to me but i found I loved their little intriguing flip, and the i-cord bind-off just looks so polished.

That picture there was when the shawl was still natural, and completely unblocked. I had a small ball left, and I managed to knit two and a half lace swatches to experiment with dyeing in kool-aid. I liked the brown, but I wanted something purple, and a little richer in color. In the picture below, the larger swatch was done all in purple kool-aid, and the smaller one was 1/2 purple and 1/2 blue.

In the end I decided on a 5/1 ratio of purple to blue (the blue really took over, but I thought it needed a bit of the cooler tint). Without any blue, it looked purple in natural light, but brown inside. The final dye didn't quite turn out as I expected, but it is still a lovely color.

At this very moment the shawl is blocking, and I'm experimenting with overdyeing one of my purple swatches in a light, less concentrated blue dye bath to see how it turns out. Of course, if I dyed it again, I'd have to block it again.

Thoughts? Opinions? I can't wait to see the final project off the pins. I was a bit worried because one of the plies was significantly overspun, and I thought it might have the potential to un-kink itself and leave little loops all over my shawl, but it bloomed wonderfully.

Oh, and I made a peach-cranberry-banana-apple cobbler-bake-type thingie. It smells really good. Like sweetness and tart and cloves. Yum.