Thursday, February 24, 2011

One hippocampus


No thumb yet; it's perfect for that Caravaggio character from English Patient, if he had his right hand chopped off too. So excited for the other colors in this ball of yarn to show up on the second glove!


I used the Amana hot water bottle for the first time! The weather was so temptingly warm and balmy, that I forgot that I don't run (knees, ankles, boobs, tendons, everything hurts) and went for a run in Forest Park. The running paths aren't orthogonal, and wind in funny ways, and eventually I ended up running over 2 hours! The next day my legs were freakishly sore and I was hobbling around, so I filled up the hot water bottle. How amazingly soothing! I have never used a hot water bottle before and thoroughly read the English portion of the directions before use, but I'm not sure about some of the guidelines. Brits and other hot water bottle connoiseurs, help!

1) Directions say to fill up only from the tap, never to put in boiling water. Is this total BS, like Qtip directions saying not to put in your ear?

2) Directions say it can't be microwaved. True or false? I would think it is a good way to sterilize the thing.

3) How do you clean out the inside? Is there a special brush? Does it get moldy?

4) I was afraid to put any weight on it, like feet. How much weight can a hot water bottle (with a screw cap) bear? Has anyone tested this out?

I realize all of these questions seem quite stupid, but (obviously) I could use your help!

Also, with just the hottest tap water, the bottle was not that hot, ie a lace-weight cozy would be fine. I used a thin towel and felt like it was way too thick. But any hotter and I think at least a DK weight yarn cozy would be needed. Life's lesson learned!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

FO: Cilantro


This is a little spring-y hug for the poor naked crabapple tree (aka shawl model). This knitted up very quickly, because the lace pattern is the same on every row, and the wrong side rows are all purled back. The shape is unusual--a right triangle--and is achieved by increasing just at one end, again making the knitting simpler still.

The adjacent side features a different edging like shark teeth.

The opposite (short) side is the bind-off edge, and the lace pattern (and pinning while blocking) makes it curve like so.

The yarn is Crazyfoot by Mountain Colors, in colorway Apple Green, and was a souvenir from a trip to Phoenix. I'd argue with the colorway name because it is much too dark to be apple green, it is much more, er, cilantro green. It's a sock-weight yarn that is too vibrant and pretty to be knitted into socks, and with US 6 (4mm) needles, the lace came out just right. Before blocking, the fabric rolled up like crocodile skin, and after blocking, the lace fabric still has a gently rippled texture.

Cilantro (by indigirl) has an error: it says 20 stitches are added for each pattern repeat, when in fact only 10 are. But it is pretty obvious that the shawl is way too small with the recommended number of repeats, and the pattern is so easy to just keep knitting until the yarn runs out, that it's not a big deal. In the end I did 13 repeats, and had about 3 yards of yarn remaining.
Today, there are 22 of these on Ravelry, so this is #4 of my 12 under 43 projects for the year!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


It is a weirdly and wonderfully warm winter day, 70+ degrees in the middle of February, a good day to look back at vacations without too much wistfulness. I am terrible about getting souvenirs, so from Tulum I just have the other photos and videos. Well, I also got bottled hot sauce and mole, but that can't be shared over the internet.

The best part of this trip was an excursion to Sian Ka'an, a biosphere reserve right next to Tulum. Several tour groups lead trips there, but CESiaK is the non-profit that runs the reserve and also runs the best (and least expensive) trips. There are several  trips, like bird-watching, canoe-ing, etc, but we went on the lazy boating one. A long skinny mini-peninsula extends from the Yucatan peninsula, and protects the opening to a natural canal that leads over a couple miles to freshwater lagoons, which, further inland, connect to canals dug by the Maya. The first 1/3 of the video is the view from the main CESiaK building, where you can see water on both sides of the mini-peninsula. I'm the one in the pigtails.

The water goes from brackish to fresh (and clean, though minerally) as the boat goes further inland. The second portion of the video shows the jungle-y look of the more brackish portion of the canal. The banana orchids are especially magnificent! Our tour guide was amazing, commenting on all the flora and fauna (he is an ornithologist and usually leads the birdwatching tour) in English, Spanish, and French. The third portion of the video shows the freshwater portion of the canal, and the vegetation at this point is called "savannah." All of these plants grow on top of mangroves and old mangrove roots, so although it looks solid, the "ground" is a mushy tangle of roots. We made it to the end of the canal, then got to hop in the water and float back, propelled by a very gentle current out to sea. Unfortunately there is no video of that, since the camera is not waterproof, but believe me that it is one of the most quiet and peaceful and relaxing things one could do in a lifetime! At the end there was a very yummy lunch included, plus a couple hours at the pretty beach, before heading back to the hotel. All in all, it was a fantastic trip and I'd heartily recommend it to anyone visiting the Riviera Maya.

On a completely opposite note...I realized I forgot to tell you my "secret" souvenir from my visit to Amana. It is...



a hot water bottle! Ok, that may not be very exciting to you, but I've never actually seen a hot water bottle for sale, and I have been pining for one for a long time. Pining for one, specifically so that I can knit a hot water bottle cozy (HWBC)! A HWBC would be such a snuggly combustion of my knit-o-philia and anglophilia! (Hot water bottles seem very British, although I must admit this brand appears to be German.) Now that it is so warm though, my enthusiasm for this project has cooled (heh) somewhat. Also, I'm having trouble finding a nice HWBC pattern that will use up my laceweight leftover yarns. Any suggestions?

I'm likewise unenthusiastic about knitting mittens in balmy weather. Here is the Hippocampus mitten so far.

When I start the second one, name will change to Hippocampi mittens.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

FO: Flutter mittens


These mittens are simply delightful! I guess handfuls of yellow butterflies are just like that. The backs are the same, with the butterflies getting larger and more complex from wrist to tip. There's a big mistake (mine, not the pattern) in one of the smallest butterfly rows, but I couldn't be bothered to tink back by the time I noticed.

The palms have a tight diagonal grid pattern, and the right palm has a superimposed large gorgeous butterfly. So it looks like one is holding a butterfly in one's cupped hands.


(Lesson for the day: It's really hard to take pictures of your own hands in mittens.)

The pattern is Flutter Mittens, by Eskimimi. Click through to read about the literary inspiration for the mittens! To get the right colors I used two different yarns: New England Shetland by Harrisville Designs (colorway Marigold), and Shetland Spindrift by Jamieson's colorway 727). They are similar "sticky" loosely-spun yarns, good for colorwork. They are (after blocking) on the thick fingering to light sport weight yarns, but because I wanted a really tight fabric and because my hands are freakishly small, I used size 0 needles. Not only did I break a needle on the last row of the first glove, I broke another needle on the last row of the second glove! So yeah, maybe it wasn't such a great idea to use such thin needles and do double decreases with them, but on the other hand (hee), the fit is great.


Cammy likes the big butterfly too.

As of today there are 13 other Flutter mittens on Ravelry, hence these are #3 of  my 12 under 43 projects.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Yay 70's

What a treat to come home from vacation to a big package of knitting patterns! Betty from Binding Off was giving away "old" patterns from the 70's, and I was thrilled to get them! There's a large stack of pattern books, so I'm sharing just the juiciest photos. The patterns that drew me most were all the dresses and tunics. So adorable! And if knitted top-down, if you get sick of knitting (or run out of yarn), you have a swell sweater.

All of these make me want to have longer legs. Also, knee-high silver boots!



The shaping of this one is done just with the stitch pattern and cables. The flared skirt is so fun, and this will probably be my first 70's project, except without sleeves.

Fun cabled dresses.
love that scarf used as a belt



This one reminds me of the emergency broadcasting system testing screen on TV's. I'm not sure if that still exists since I don't have TV anymore, and also I never wear horizontal stripes, but still I might have to knit this dress.

So sleek and mod, both of these.

Many of the patterns would look up-to-date, except for the hilarious styling. The models, especially the one male model (also see above), posed so ridiculously, that one can't even see the knitwear.


(Why are they touching their teeth?)

What I appreciate most about older patterns is that they are for all clothing (and non-clothing) items, not just sweaters and accessories, which most modern patterns tend to be. So there are pants, shorts, tabbards, weird headdresses,

and swimsuits!

There are some awesomely-awful 70's-bad designs, but they are so fun to look at:
(might be crochet, not knit)

I may have to go whole-hog (or whole-cougar) and make this in a variegated yarn that turns out cheetah-print-like.

After taking these to knit night to share, I managed to leave them all at the cafe! Thankfully the cafe folks know "the knitters" and saved them for me for next week. Doh!

Thanks Betty!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Tulum Too, Electric Boogaloo

Last year's trip to Tulum was so fun, I went again this year!

We wanted to do the stuff we didn't get to do last year, like go to Chitchen Itza.

(I am about 10-15 yards in front of this structure, so it is actually about twice as tall as it looks in this photo). It is completely overrun with tourists and people selling tchotchkes. It was shocking to me that hordes of trinket-sales-people are allowed to set up shop among the ruins! I do terribly with crowds and especially with people trying to sell stuff, so in retrospect it might have been better to go to a less commercialized place like Coba (which was great last year) or Ek Balam. Also, you're not allowed to climb the tall pyramid anymore! Still, all the Maya buildings and statues are a pretty amazing sight!


Thanks to the many hours on buses, airports, planes, etc, the Flutter Mittens(*) are well on their way. There were some epic near-fails with the first mitten. On the last row of knitting, the needle broke in half! After picking up all the stitches that got dropped during the breakage (total pain, with size 0 needles, stranded knitting, and navy blue yarn) and changing needles, I was in the middle of kitchener-ing the stitches to close the top, when the yarn snapped. Arg! So then I had to un-pick all of the kitchener stitches, again pick up the stitches that had been dropped, and put them back on needles. I didn't have the heart to try finishing this mitten again so soon, and started on the next mitten. Actually the two near-fails worked out, because I could use the two broken halves of the needle to hold the live stitches, so that I could get going on the other glove. (When life gives you lemons...use them as stitch holders.) The palms of the gloves have a cool grid pattern, and one of them has a big, gorgeous butterfly superimposed...It's so pretty I'm going to save it as a treat for the FO post!


Many gardens in Tulum include this plant, which is Tradescantia spathacea (aka boat lily) from what I can tell from scouring on-line sources. I love how the leaves are purple on one side and green on the other, and I'm cooking up a double-knitted scarf design in the same vein.

The departing flight narrowly preceded Snow-pocalypse 2011, and the return flight also narrowly preceded another batch of snow last night. So it was all-round perfect timing, and of course, it's always wonderful to get away to somewhere warm and make some vitamin D. It's a shock to return to this:

It's a good day to stay indoors. I still need to sort through all the photos and videos, and will be back with more sunny pictures!

*Eskimimi is having a big sale/giveaway right now, so hurry over there!