Saturday, October 31, 2009

Double FO: befores and afters

The best fun of binding off a shawl is blocking it. This is what I call the fat feather duster, because it's the Feather Duster (by Susan Lawrence) knitted with fat yarn. The yarn is Alpaca with a Twist Highlander (worsted-aran weight) left over from Vivian. Altogether it took just under 2 skeins of yarn. Here it is before, sad and unblocked.

Here it is after, smooth and pretty and snuggly!

If you're wondering whether I really knitted the same shawl pattern twice in a row, yes, I did indeed. It's so easy and quick, especially with the fat yarn, on ginorm US 10.5 needles! I did only 4 pattern repeats, rather than 6, because I was running out of yarn, and it ended up the right size. I can wear it more like a shawl,

or more like a cowl/scarf.

FO #2, Fern Glade (by Megan Marshall) is done and blocked, after I was able to get another ball of Suri Merino. The blocking was done on a plate and a balled-up towel, for slouch, and holy crap it ended up huge! As previously mentioned, these slouchy hats look goofy on me. Here's the before:

After knitting two hats in  a row that I can't wear because they look goofy, I decided that enough is enough, and got my hair cut to accommodate my knitting. Here's the after:

Look, bangs! I've never had bangs (or fringe, as some say, which is even better) before, having been told they would make my face look even more round. Well phooey to them, because that is so not true, and now I feel like one of the cool girls!

I saw this tree on the way home from the haircut, one of the last, proud few with vibrant leaves still. It's a perfect autumn day. Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cute baby in handknit and cute cat

Finally, a picture of a recipient of a baby handknit! Wearing said handknit!

This is sweet Caroline wearing her Little Liza Jane jumper, sitting on her lovely momma's lap.

She's not yet crawling, but is quite the dress-model already!

Speaking of cuteness, I couldn't resist sharing the overwhelming cuteness that is Cammy.

There are 2 FO's waiting to be shared, but it's too dark and gloomy for photos. What does the rest of the knitting universe do? Take pictures during lunch break? Take all pictures during the weekend? Build a full photo studio in the basement? Suggestions are welcome!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

In with the new, out with the old, and a FO

It's funny, how when you have a big deadline like a huge exam, you think that life will be hunky-dory afterwards, filled with bonbons and knitting. Then the big event passes, and you find the following lists scrawled on papers scattered all over the desk: "Things to do on vacation," "To do after boards," "Important house stuff to fix," "Must finish before boards!", "Do now!" and so on. And not one thing has been completed on any of these lists. For a todo-list-maker, the solution to the madness is simple. It is to combine all the lists into one mega-super-todo-list, on a clean piece of paper, preferably an index card (with no lines!), with categories such as "presents" (wedding gifts for the past 3 attended), "office" (ex: figure out retirement savings), and "to make" (very long list involving several skills/crafts). Despite the fact that none or few of these things will actually get done, it is very satisfying to have it all on one list. And so it is chez yoelknits. The one thing I've accomplished is ordering a huge amount of Tom's of Maine floss. It is the best--seriously, your teeth have not known joy until you use it!--but only comes in small (32-yard) quantities that are hard to find and expensive at the store. I even asked (ok, begged) the company to see if they sold it in skeins or cones, but no such luck. So I ordered 24 packs of dental floss, and grandly crossed off this single task from the mega-super-todo-list with a flourish. (Btw, I have no financial or other interest in Tom's of Maine, I just heart the floss.)

This is a roundabout way of saying not much knitting, or at least finishing of objects has occurred. The Market cardi has stalled at the sleeves. Arg sleeves! They are the pits, and attached to the pits too! I'm doing them two at a time, but really it's none at a time. When guilt about one project strikes, a surefire way to assuage such guilt is to start another project, preferably from the stash. It is absolutely shocking to me that I completely cleared my stash just over a year ago, and here we are with an overflowing tub of yarn!

My attempt to knit this Fern Glade hat from leftover yarn from the stash has been stalled by running out of yarn.

So during vacation, I stopped by the Yarn Boutique in Rochester NY, ostensibly to pick up another skein of this yarn. As I had secretly hoped, they did not have this yarn. They did, however, have many other yarns. Check it out:

What a great selection! It was a really big store (The pics show about half of the store) and the employees were friendly and helpful, without being too intrusive. (Recently I've been totally turned off an unnamed St Louis yarn store by an employee who obnoxiously yells "Can I help you?" in my face before I'm even in the door, and then hovers very close behind, infecting my handknits with her ick. Um, well, maybe I need help, but how about a "hello, nice to see you again?" Or maybe I will just answer no and turn around and leave. I was a big fan of this store, to the point where I'm on the special big-spender list there, but no mas!) Anyway, I took a long look and tried to get stuff that wouldn't add too much to the stash but would be enough to make real projects.

I ended up with one skein each of turquoise Malabrigo lace, for a shawl,

and plummy-pinkish Araucania, for a thicker shawl or scarf.

I'm not a yarn-obsessive, and don't go crazy for yarn brands, but now I can understand why other people go nuts for these two yarns.

After getting home, and the new skeins would not fit in the neat little plastic bin of yarn, I got serious about cleaning out some leftover skeins/balls in there, mainly to put off thinking about the f*ing sleeves of the Market cardi.

So I made a hat, with the leftover Cascade Venezia from one of the St James tops. The pattern is Lotus Hat (free pattern), by UptownPurl. I did an extra repeat of the lace to make it slouchier, which seems to be all the rage these days. It was still tight, so I blocked it pretty hard. And it came out delightfully slouchy!

I hadn't counted on how funny I'd look with a slouchy hat. There's nothing wrong with the hat, it's just the combo with my face/head shape--it's just...goofy, there's no other word for it. This is why Mr. Brain Model is is now Mr. Hat Model. It looks kind of goofy on him too, because he doesn't have much of his skull, but not as goofy as on me.

The center of the hat comes together in a lovely lotus pattern.

It's just a little creepy that you can see his blood vessels through the lace.

Next time, a WIP shot of another Feather Duster shawl, this time with big yarn, leftover from Vivian!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

FO: Feather Duster

The shawl-blocking took a lot longer than planned, thanks to a frantically busy work week, but here it is!

The pattern is Feather Duster, by Susan Lawrence. It's a very easy lace pattern, with patterning only every 4th row, sort of a feather-and-fan derivative. The only changes I made were doing 7 repeats instead of 6, because I had lots of yarn leftover, and going down one needle size because the yarn wasn't as fuzzy as the one in the pattern. Ooh, the thrill of living on the edge!

I used super-yummy Plucky Knitter 100% cashmere laceweight yarn that I got on Bainbridge Island. The subtle color changes worked out really well with the lace.

Unfortunately, I had tried to ball this yarn into a center-pull ball by hand, and then gave up halfway through and balled it normally. But somehow this ended up causing a horrible tangle near the end, so I just gave up and cast off, instead of doing the 8th lace repeat. When I got home and weighed the yarn, there were only 5 grams left. This probably would not have been enough for another repeat anyway, so I'll consider the knot a stroke of good luck.

The shawl is more of a shawlette, which seems rather popular these days, and definitely more versatile. It'll work as a scarf too, especially with the V in front, for coats with V-necks. I'm painting the walls today and didn't really want to model it with my painting outfit (and paint drips), so the fence will have to do.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Vacation, continued

After Oneida, we traveled to the finger lakes region, ostensibly to visit some wineries and do some hiking in Watkins Glen park. But it was rainy, and I'm a lazy bum, so we ate "mexican" food and knitted/read. So no pictures of that thrilling stop. The next stop was Niagara Falls. I've wanted to visit for a long time, and having missed seeing the actual falls the last time I was in the area, I was determined to see them this time. Alas, DH forgot his passport, and we were stuck on the US side, terrified to go on any road for too long for fear it would pass over into Canada and we'd have to extend our vacation indefinitely. We at least got a good deal at a nice hotel last minute (because the B&B in Canada had to be canceled at the last minute), so we could stay cozily inside and look at the foggy, rainy view.

There really is not a lot of the falls to see from the US side. It just looks like a big plume of smoke (mist, actually), because the falls face away from the US side. So no pictures of the falls either. If you really want to see them, you should go yourself, and take your passport. Canada is very pretty right around there. I so want one of these houses!

There was a bizarre thing, which I photographed for all the Mad Men fans. There was this plaque next to an outlook:

and just next to that someone had painted this.
It takes quite a sicko to graffiti the outlook point in a national park, but there it is.

In the roads of upstate NY, there are drivers and there are passengers. I am most definitely a passenger, because only passengers get to knit. The Feather Duster shawl is done! Here is the pre-block picture. Everyone knows that the top reason to knit a shawl is to see the transformation after blocking. For that, check back next time!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Utopias and burgundy

The upstate NY tour continues, driving while listening to On the Road on CD. It's peak leaf-peeping time.

After a stop at the Berry Hill Bookshop, we got to Oneida.We stayed at the Oneida Community Mansion House, which regally endures, many years after the Oneida Community disbanded. I'm weirdly obsessed with utopian communities these days...I'm planning day trips to New Harmony and the Amana communities too. Unlike most other utopian communities that had to disband because they couldn't support themselves financially, the Oneidans voted to disband because the younger generation wasn't into "communal marriage" and other funky stuff like that. While it lasted, though, the members seem to have had a pretty good time.

The main building took a couple decades to build. The ceilings are ridiculously high (the wing chair is a normal sized chair).

The walls were decorated with tapestries made with braided silk fabrics--much like country braided rugs, except attractive and arty.

They made quilts too, with women, men, and children contributing individual squares.

There are not one, but two libraries. I had myself a fantastic time in the newer library. I have got to get myself a house with a library! Reading and knitting while drinking a glass of wine in a room filled with (and smells of) old books is pretty much a perfect evening, imho.

There's a small nook off one of the libraries, with comfy chairs and all the children's books. And (insert angelic choir voices), a display case with knitted and crocheted versions of all of the characters in Alice in Wonderland.

DH asked me whether I really took a picture of every single doll. Why yes, yes I did, and I'm going to share them on the internets! Some are crocheted, some are knitted, some are both. There's some pom-pom/tassel work too; I especially love the walrus' moustache. Here's the whole set on flickr.

Also in the building is a museum, a big hall (sort of a church/stage) with trompe d'oeil decorations (the picture is the main medallion on the ceiling), a restaurant, and much more.

Outside are the gardens which contain trees dating back to the utopian days. Sadly, I did not get to see them because it was so rainy out today. All in all, it was a great place to visit, and I highly recommend it to anyone visiting central NY. Plus, it's pretty cheap, and breakfast is included. (I even got the option of whether I wanted my scrambled eggs moist or dry, as though any sane person would choose dry.)

On the knitting front, I thought I would finish the Fern Glade hat, but then ran out of yarn about 80% of the way there. I did this project to use up the yarn leftover from this prior neckwarmer. Now I'll have to get another ball and will have leftovers from that too! Grr. Even in its half-done state, I am tempted to wear it, because it's seriously cold and rainy.

The third (of three) burgundy project I brought for this trip is the Feather Duster shawl, by Susan Pierce Lawrence. I'm using 100% cashmere hand-dyed yarn (Plucky Knitter) I got back on Bainbridge Island. So soft and yummy!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Back to life

Yippee! The big bad board exams are over! And it's vacation! It's such a huge relief not having a big academic burden looming and/or hideous work hours. The idea of spending evenings and weekends not in a studying/working spazzfest is exhilarating. I realized, after the board exam, how much I love getting a big stack of books--real books, not medical texts--and devouring them, and how many years (8? 10?) it has been since I've done that. So I went over to the library, and got real books and books on CD for this roadtrip in upstate NY. And I read, and it was good. This afternoon, I'm going back to the Berry Hill Book Shop. And the rest of the week will be spent leaf-peeping whilst reading and knitting. It's a good life after all!

Of course, no trip-planning is complete without the ridiculous amount of worry and renegotiations one has about what knitting to take. The market cardi has been cast aside for so long for the birthday vest and studying. The torso of the cardi is done, ends woven in and everything. What remains is the hideously long cabled ribbing shawl collar (what was I thinking?) and the sleeves. Sadly, the torso part took up too much space in the carry-on and had to be left at home. One half of the shawl collar was done, and the other half was just enough knitting for the plane trip. Here is the full collar, chillaxing on the deck railing.

Actually, I'm 6 rows short, but the rest of the yarn is at home. I'm planning to knit the sleeves top-down after picking up stitches from the torso, so the rest of this cardi will have to wait until I'm back home. Which I knew when I was packing, so of course, I packed more than one project.

This is the beginning of the fern glade hat, by Megan Marshall, in last winter's Knitty. The loose, slouchy hats seem all the rage, and I can see the genius in a hat that doesn't squash the hair or leave ribbing marks on the forhead.

This yarn is fuzzy and may not show the fern lace too well, but we can decide that after blocking. And those of you worried that there isn't enough knitting in a hat to last a week, fear not! There's a third project too. But more on that next's time to hit the books!