Thursday, December 17, 2009

Spiriting 2009 - The Lavender Leaves Scarf

At our school, we have a holiday ritual of "spiriting" - like Secret Santa, except with three gifts over three days, which must include clues to the giver's identity, and ruthless interrogations on the part of the "spiritees" to ferret out the name of their "spiritors" - all based on the clues, of course. The questioner is not allowed to ask directly, "Are you my spiritor?" and in return, the responder is not allowed to lie, although clever circumlocutions are encouraged if necessary.

At an after-school staff party on the fourth day, everyone brings a thank-you gift for their spiritor, whoever that person may be, and we take turns announcing who we believe our spiritor to be, and amusement ensues, especially if someone guesses wrong.

My spiritor turned out to be Audrey, one of the kindergarten teachers, and someone I actually know better than a lot of them, since she has one of my ESL students in her class. My gift to her was more a promise than a gift - a promise to knit her a scarf in any color and texture she desired. She said she loved purple, especially lavender, and would rather have something girly and lacy over something thick and fuzzy. So, after a quick hunt for something pretty and free to download, I cast on! I'm using the same Cascade Heritage sock yarn that I used for my "Plum Fizz" crocheted top, since I had plenty left over. The main color is "lilac" and there is a brief border in the much darker "plum."

It's the perfect portable project to bring with me on the plane as I fly back to Pennsylvania for the holidays, and with luck, I'll be able to work on it quite a bit while I'm there, and present her with it sometime in early or mid January.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Blocking the Shawl

IT'S DONE!!! Had to learn the "Russian Lace Bind Off." I don't know if I am ever knitting a lace shawl ever again. That's all I have to say about that right now.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Muppet Scarf Debut

So, the Muppet Scarf is finally done. And by done, I mean, I finally got to the end of the second skein of dark orange Sirdar Snowflake, bound off, weaved in, and called it a day. Well, I called it a scarf, anyway:

The odd thing is, as it grew in length - to a whopping 136 inches - it also sort of grew on me. This yarn that I thought was so tacky and horrible when I first laid eyes on it, slowly began to put thoughts in my head like, "My, wouldn't this look nice against denim?" and "Well, orange *is* very autumny after all..."

So, having finished it last night, I wore it to work today, and actually got lots of compliments on it! The kids were especially impressed by how surprisingly lightweight it is. My own lovely assistant John took this picture out by our field.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


I'm down to just a little over four weeks. That might seem like plenty, but I'm not even half way done with this shawl. As the rows get longer, it just takes so long to do even one. And I'm pushing really hard to get it done ASAP because I have other projects that I'd like to get done before Christmas.

So, I'm working on it for HOURS every night, and I feel kind of guilty taking breaks to blog about it.

Guess I should keep this short, and get back to work.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lacy Frustrations

I nearly had a complete meltdown yesterday evening. There were tears; there was muffled screaming; there were unforgivable thoughts of knitticide. (o)ribbit(o)

I've been working on a lace shawl. I know there are people who whip these things up regularly and never think twice about it, but I've never done anything even remotely so complex and difficult, and I'm having a hell of a time with it. The most frustrating part is that the stitches are NOT EVEN difficult. Yarn-overs, k2tog's and ssk's, with the occasional s1k2togpsso thrown in for neatness. Nothing I can't handle. I can even read charts with zero confusion. Heck, I make my own charts!

So what's the problem?

Honestly, I don't know if it's simply a concentration issue or what, but I keep making very simple mistakes - usually it's forgetting a yarn-over - and then I don't notice it until two rows later when I suddenly realize I don't have the correct number of stitches to finish this new row of the chart. Since my lifeline is usually several rows below that, I wind up carefully tinking back, one stitch at a time, down two whole rows, which at this point are just over 100 stitches each. I'm making more progress backward than forward. And so, this shawl that I gave myself seven weeks to make (now six), is perhaps only 10% done.

The only reason I'm even sticking with it is that I told my mom I'd make something fabulous and periodish for this Victorian Holiday Party she and my stepdad have been invited to, and to which they're bringing me. The guests at this party are encouraged to present some sort of performance - a song, a reading, a dramatic interpretation, or, as in my case, a brief talk on a craft or hobby, the accompanying display being, of course, this goddamn shawl. I said I would do it, I want everyone to admire it, so dammit, I'm going to make this farking thing and I'm going to make it on time.

Stubborn pride can be an excellent motivator.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cheap Reads

Just picked these up for 40% off at JoAnn!

Also, got this through a book swap club:

Can't wait to dig in! Has anyone read them? Favorite bits? Comments?

UPDATE 11/19/09 - Finished TFNKC a little while ago and it is a lovely book with lots of fun moments but ultimately VERY SAD! You are warned!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Interweave Loves Me

So, I'm pretty damn excited. I got a message on Ravelry from one of the editors of Interweave Crochet indicating that I have been chosen to be a part of their Reader's Gallery in the next issue. This particular reader's gallery will apparently focus on hats.

For those of you who aren't regular readers - the Reader's Gallery is a collection of something like four to six photos of finished projects made from patterns published in previous issues. I've always been mildly jealous of the people who get featured, but I never thought my stuff was nice enough to submit.

Turns out, I didn't even have to! They contacted me! The nice editor lady - one Toni Rexroat - asked if she could use a photo of my Chullo Hat, which I made last winter. I asked, of course, if I could take some truly nice pictures of the hat to send her so that she wouldn't publish the rather half-handed pics I snapped back when I made the hat. Those pictures were merely for Ravelry and Facebook. THESE pictures will be going in a nationally distributed magazine in all its full-color glossy glory.

This afternoon it turned unexpectedly sunny, and with the trees in our yard turning some pretty rad colors, we whipped out the camera and I posed my yarnie heart out on the back deck. In the best pics my eyes are either downcast or closed entirely, since, of course, to get the good light, the sun needs to be shining right in my eyes.

So, without further ado, here are my submissions, the two best of the lot:

Monday, October 19, 2009

Speed Crochet

So, my birthday was this Saturday. (Pause for cheering.)

Among the various things the boy and I did that day was to visit The Naked Sheep, one of my favorite places in North Portland, which is now, sadly, quite a long way away from where I live. But we had to be in that part of the city for other reasons that morning, and so, knowing that I would get a birthday discount, we headed over. He decided that whatever I wanted to purchase there that day (within reason, of course) would be my birthday present. Isn't he sweet?

I walked away with the Harmony Guide for Cables & Arans (which I've wanted for ages, along with the Lace & Eyelets Guide) and a single skein of blue-and-copper self striping Wisdom Yarns Limerick. I would have gotten more - it's a nice, soft dk merino - but this lonely skein was all there was left in the sale basket, and I just knew I could do something small and lovely with it.

After riffling through and discarding several ideas, most of which got discarded because they contained interesting and beautiful cables which would have been totally lost in the striping, I finally settled on the Clapochet by Crochet Kitten. This crocheted version of the very popular Clapotis Scarf is, like its knitted counterpart, designed to be shawl width, and therefore normally requires something in the neighborhood of 800 yards of fiber. Having only 175 to work with, I narrowed it down a great deal, and only made it about 60" long.
I chose the crochet version over the knitted one, not because I haven't learned how to do drop stitches (how hard can it be to learn?), but for the much more important reason that the crocheted version stripes with the grain of the diagonal, rather than across it, and I much prefer this look. Cross-grain striping, in my humble opinion, distracts the eye and obscures the stitchwork.

The most amazing thing about this project, though, is that - and anyone who has done one-skein projects will understand - I did the entire project in one afternoon, the very afternoon after I bought the yarn, which means this project wins the prize for fastest progression from yarn purchase to project blocking I've ever accomplished. And the weather is just perfect to wear it to work today!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Wrist Warmers Complete

Over the summer, I started a pair of wristwarmers as my very first cable project. I picked up the pretty yellow Naturally Caron that I had gotten as a freebie at my Aran Tunisian class, cast on to some size 7's, and went to town. It only took me a single day, and the cables looked perfect - although truly, my seaming left something to be desired. Satisfied, I showed it off to my boyfriend, took and posted some pictures, and stated that I would make its twin the following day.

That, not surprisingly, never happened.

But, I am proud to say, that as of this past weekend, I now have TWO Irish Hiking Scarf wristwarmers! Woo!

I even worked on them a bit at my Crochet Guild meeting. Shame on me.

Oh, and the seaming on the second one? Fabulous. Which is kind of a shame, because that means now they don't exactly match. :P

Friday, October 2, 2009


So, immediately after my last post, significant time was spent gearing up for PAX. Which rocked, as per expectations. We made lots of new friends, a handful of which even live very close to our new home in Hillsboro.

The night after we returned from PAX, all hell broke loose on the home-buying front. Long story short, we wound up staying temporarily in Gresham, and commuting from there to work (almost an hour each way) until the delayed close date and subsequently even more delayed move date on our new house.

During this entire time, I never found time or peace to knit anything at all except a few rows on the Muppet Scarf. Even now, there is still unpacking to be done, walls to touch up, furniture to be arranged, and a birthday to prepare for - yes, friends, this yarnie is turning 27 two weeks from tomorrow.

To make matters even more exciting (and crazy busy), the boy and I have been engagement ring shopping! *squee*

I was so excited to start my very own yarn-and-hardware blog, and so disappointed with myself recently for not having any reasons to update it. So, even though the most I've done in the past six weeks is get nearly to the end of the first ball of dark orange Sirdar Snowflake, I wanted to share.

To end this post, I'd like to publicly vow to pick up the hooks and needles again in earnest the very moment the last empty box is collapsed and recycled, the last spackle patch is painted over, and the last piece of furniture is in place and put to use.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Celtic Cable Neckwarmer - Finished

I got the most beautiful buttons today at Twisted to complete the neckwarmer. It was such a quick project, only a week total and that's not even working on it every day. And, as it turned out, I had plenty of yarn to finish it, plus a small handful left over. I did stop at 18" instead of 20" before the buttonhole band, and it fits me perfectly that way. I don't have much else to say about it, except that I LOVE it, and here's a pic of it sporting its fabulous finishing touches!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Cabling without Cable Needles

Knitting Daily released their Fall 2009 gallery today, featuring designs from the latest issue of Interweave Knits, along with a Digital Supplement to the magazine, which includes, among other things, a free pattern for a very interesting cabled scarf, and a two page spread on doing cables without any extra hardware. The technique isn't significantly faster (or perhaps that's only because I lack practice), but what really makes it exciting for me is that I no longer have to juggle three needles at a time, and that's a relief.

When working with larger gauge projects, the extra needle isn't such a huge deal - I have those fat, bent or bobby-pin shaped cable needles that hang down away from my hands so politely. But it seems that the only cable needles I can find smaller than a size 10 simply look more or less like dpns, with or without the offset bit in the middle. When in use, they swivel about like a twirler's batons, searching determinedly for the most inconvenient place to poke themselves into, which usually winds up being directly between my hands, the yarn, and the needle I'm trying to work from. Then, of course, especially with the perfectly straight ones, there is always a danger of the cable needle simply falling out of the stitches if you're not careful.

This new technique (and I say new because it's new to me, and recently published on Knitting Daily, but it's simple enough that people could have been quietly doing it for ages), basically involves taking the stitches off the left needle, switching them about into what would be their final position anyway, putting them back on the left needle, and proceeding to knit or purl them as they lie. It does take a bit of manual dexterity, but hey, we're knitters, right? We've already got that down.

I've already practiced this technique with the next few rows of the Celtic Cable Neckwarmer, and much to my relieved delight, the results are completely indistinguishable from the cables done with the needle. It was awkward at first, as all new skills are, but I'm getting comfortable with it pretty quickly. Other WIPs that still need cabling and will afford me extra practice: the Aran Wrist Warmers, the Cabled Boatneck Pullover and the Bella Scarf (Ravelry link - must be a member to view).

But, because nothing is ever perfect: there is a simple but very important mistake in the directions given in the Digital Supplement. I have already written to Interweave about it, and I'm sure I'm not the only one, but in case they don't fix it before someone links to it from this post, I'll spell it out:

On page 10, in Step 2, where it says that you'd insert the needle into the front of the stitches if you'd normally hold the cable needle to the back, and vice-versa, this is WRONG. If you're supposed to be holding the cable needle to the back, insert the left hand needle through the back of the stitches that would go on the cable needle. If you're supposed to be holding the cable needle to the front, insert the left hand needle through the front of the stitches that would go on the cable needle. In other words, Figure 1 will actually produce a left-leaning cable, not a right, and Figure 2 will produce a right-leaning cable, not a left.

Otherwise, it's a great technique, I haven't had any problems with it, and I will continue to use it whenever I can!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Celtic Knot Cables

WOW. Malabrigo Worsted, despite its snuggly roving-like texture, produces some eye-popping cable definition. I started working on the Celtic Cable Neckwarmer by Lindsay Henricks a couple days ago, and the results so far are stunning. Not to mention soft as a baby lamb.

Her pattern calls to work 20" of cable work before starting the buttonhole band. I'm a little anxious I might run out of yarn, since I'm using leftovers to begin with. But hey, I have some of the same yarn in a different color, which I could always switch to for the buttonhole band if needed. It'd be a neat contrast.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Muppet Scarf

A few months ago, in a raffle at my monthly CGOA guild meeting, I won some of the most truly hideous yarn I have ever had uglying up my stash. Now, I was not attempting to win this yarn. Unfortunately, it was attached to a crochet pattern book that I *did* in fact want to win, badly enough that I had put all my raffle tickets in for just that one prize. And I did win that book. Hooray!

But I also won two skeins of dark orange Sirdar Snowflake and a whole mess of skeins of popsicle blue and pale pink fun fur.

The fun fur I will probably, eventually, either unload on the gracious people at Goodwill, or on someone who actually thinks fun fur is, well, fun.

As for the Snowflake, I haven't been able to escape the notion that this yarn looks like the wool of some unlucky orange muppet, and that someone, somewhere, will thoroughly enjoy wearing a long furry scarf that looks like it was vomited up by Sesame Street. So, to that end, I pulled out my biggest circular tips - let's do this as quickly as possible, shall we? - and got to work. Plain ol' garter stitch, 20 stitches across, on the size 11's, seems to be producing a nice, fluffy, airy... dark orange muppet pelt.