monster vs. monster

winter knitting
January 27, 2010, 5:39 pm
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Well, it’s the first day of the semester, which means no more shamelessly knitting for hours watching Sabrina the Teenage Witch (every episode is available here on YouTube, by the way, and I’m hoping that by conveying that knowledge to your brain I will remove it from my own). Winter break was no picnic for me but I did get a ton of knitting in. Since, sadly, the knitting marathons are now over and the reading marathons are soon to begin, I thought I’d do a little roundup post.

I’ve been working on a Barn Raising Quilt from Knitalong since – wait for it – September 2007. I was trucking along at the astonishing rate of three or four squares per year until this winter inexplicably sent me into a blanket-making frenzy. Maybe the sock yarn stash perpetually by my bedside started whispering to me in the middle of the night, maybe I just needed a mindless counterpart to final exams. Either way, I now have sixteen squares. Whoa. I love how colorful it’s turning out, and I can’t help but dream of all the sections I want to add – a strip of reds and golds, a strip of greens, maybe a strip of greys and browns (I’m not opposed to using both, though I’m sure every sensible designer in the world is screaming at me “No, no!”). I’ve got koigu, I’ve got cashmere, I’ve got BMFA and VFKW and bamboo cotton blends, and I’ve got only 26 squares to go.

What I don’t have, though, are any more sock scraps. I’ve got enough to make two more squares, and then I’m out. I promised myself I wouldn’t buy any yarn specifically for this blanket (that seemed like a dangerous door to open) and I’ve developed a distaste for repeating colors. So I’ve hit another wall with this blanket, and my fear is that now I’ll only ever choose sock or shawl yarn based on how well it meshes with a quilt that, realistically, probably won’t be done for another three years. Unless I magically stumble upon a hidden Providence sock yarn scrap stash…dare to dream.

I thought I’d be gifting myself  few more leftovers when somewhere around, oh, two weeks before Christmas I decided to knit three pairs of gift socks. I spent the holiday with some awesome parents who have been very kind to me despite my not being their child, and I couldn’t resist knitting them some matching his and hers cashmerino house socks. I used my own pattern (which someday I will write down, maybe) and since I have no qualms about wrapping still-damp garments, I got three out of four finished by the big day. BW got some manly socks, and I use “got” loosely, since I had to bring them back home with me to finish the toes. So he’ll get his in a few days. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.

Thanks to a hefty holiday gift certificate to the cave of wonder and delight that is Article Pract, the first few weeks of January saw a glorious amount of selfish knitting. I’d been itching to make another shawl ever since I put on my soft, luminous Laminaria in September and didn’t take it off for six weeks. I figured if I could make a large, shiny pile of pastel work with every outfit for a month and a half, an understated solid-color something would basically be wardrobe gold. And I guess I was right, but this project went so, so wrong. Ysolda’s Ishbel is a lovely pattern and there are some seriously gorgeous finished projects on Ravelry, and I couldn’t wait to get mine all knitted up to revel in the beauty and the luster and the general awesomeness. But, final product, not so much. The Cascade Heritage I used for this shawl turned out to be stiff and itchy, with the color falling flat and the lace springing out of shape as soon as the pins came out. It’s too small to be anything but a neckerchief, and not warm enough to do anything round my neck that comes close to making up for its weird scratchy texture. Shawl fail. I might try again with this shawl pattern someday…maybe larger, and in a color that works with my quilt…

I do, however, have a knitting success that wildly outweighs my Ishbel disaster. I finally knitted my own owls sweater! I got incredibly sick in California, which was amazing, since it gave me an excuse to watch cooking shows and infomercials and knit mindless stockinette ALL DAY LONG for, um, two weeks. I finished this sweater in five days! The pattern recommends that you bind off with a bigger needle than you knit with, but I ended up going down six needle sizes to get a crewneck-type neckline that didn’t fall off my shoulders. I haven’t gotten a chance to take pictures that do this sweater any sort of justice, but once I do, ravelry will be seriously photobombed.

I’m not good at following through on resolutions, but I do have a sort of goal for my crafting life: to knit less. It’s painful to say, but knitting slows my reading pace, gives me an excuse to watch awful television, and often keeps me awake long after the conscious part of my brain has given up. So this semester, I shall limit knitting time to the Monday night craft group and two Netflixes a week. Which is still probably way more time than I should be giving to a sedentary hobby, but hey, baby steps.


without a plan
August 12, 2009, 4:17 pm
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I don’t have much of a yarn stash, and here is why: when I walk into a yarn store, I’m all business. Don’t get me wrong, I do my share of cashmere fondling and color palette ogling, but I have to have a specific project in mind before I’ll actually take something to the register. Normally I’ll spend hours on Ravelry sifting through other peoples’ yarn choices and modifications so that I know exactly what my project will look like when I walk through my LYS’s front door. This approach has kept my stash from overflowing and my bank account from evaporating, but it has also turned yarn shopping into a somber, utilitarian process and left no room for imagination or experimentation. I decided a few months ago to stop buying yarns strictly for function and instead reach for unique handdyed or handspun yarns that catch my eye. I’ve since accumulated a small but delicious pile of yarns, and I’ve had as much fun staring at the skeins and contemplating their possibilities as actually knitting them. In my month of packing and moving, I turned to my weird yarns for solace and comfort and came out with some truly lovely pieces.

beeflowers cowl colors

This Cashmere Cuff, by Jessica Vaughan, used up every last inch of the amazingly soft Kim-X yarn I bought at Maker Faire in May. The artist’s description of the yarn goes like this: “Inspired by a photo of a bee visiting ice plants, this landscape yarn will knit up in slowly changing swathes of color to evoke the original scene.” I love that the final result maintains the integrity of the original vision, but that the cowl is still quite wearable, since it looks like a solid color from the front and a different solid from the back. I can’t wait to find buttons for this. It’s so soft, I want it around my neck NOW, 95 degree weather be damned.  

mitts 3

I don’t have a lot of experience knitting with handdyed yarns, so I was delighted to discover that these mitts not only show off my beautiful skein of Shades of Earth from Spincycle Yarns, they also match! This is a heavily modified version of Emily Wessel’s Handspun Fingerless Gloves, and I’m quite happy with the result. They knit up quickly and they’re surprisingly wearable and so begins my addiction to fingerless gloves. 

hat silly face

I got this gray thick-thin hands + notions yarn at the Renegade Craft fair in July. Three days later, as a friend and I enjoyed coffee and tofutti-topped bagels, it magically transformed itself into an Unoriginal Hat with added earflaps and tassels. We had a sudden cold spell in Oakland and I had already packed my warm clothes, and this hat saved me from days of shivering. Everyone looks ridiculous in this hat, but it’s that sort of self-aware ridiculous that is also full of humor and personality, so it works. 

giant cowl

In that same ridiculous vein, this Marian cowl has completely won my heart. I’ll admit it’s neither handspun nor handdyed, but it is made of the candy-colored Twinkle soft chunky that I had never let myself buy because I never had a practical pattern to make it into. As soon as I stumbled onto Jane Richmond’s möbius design, I knew I had to make this, and that even if I never had the guts to wear it, I would at least have something to cuddle on those cold Rhode Island nights. (Richmond’s designs, by the way, are bright, easy, elegant, and either free or cheap!)

So there you have it. This has been the good stuff. Next post, you’ll get a little bit of ugly.

June 5, 2009, 3:57 pm
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I think I’m addicted.

garter rows

To this pattern, to these colors, to the process of building rows of garter stitch. Knitting and knitting and knitting. So calming. 

garter rows

Let’s look at those those rainbow rows again, shall we?

garter close-up

I’m excited to finish my second Silk Kerchief (ravelry link), since I’ve been wearing my first one literally every single day, but I’ll be sad to say goodbye to this project. Luckily, there are lots of lovely patterns in line to keep the garter craze going.

Wool Candy

Next up, though, is my first lace shawl: Laminaria, from the Spring ’08 Knitty, in this gorgeous hand dyed bamboo merino I picked up from Wool Candy’s table at last weekend’s Maker Faire (where they had a sample of this pattern knit in this exact color and oh, I can’t wait to have my own). I guess the colors look a little washed out in this picture, but they are actually cotton-candy mottled and artificial-food-dye bright with a nice bamboo sheen. And in case you weren’t seeing a definite summer color scheme – beige, bright pastels, surging pinks and blues, burnt oranges and yellows – some photographic evidence:


Pastel Patchouli


My other Maker Faire finds: Knitty Dirty Girl’s “Dovely,” a worsted weight blend of baby alpaca, superwash merino, sari silk, and bling. KDG’s “Pastel Patchouli,” thick-thin handspun wool. And Kim-X’s lovely “Beeflowers,” a blend of cashmere, merino and nylon around a wool core. All via Urban Fauna.