Tuesday, August 31, 2010

[Insert colorful & unusual cursing here.]

No normal update today: There was trauma.

There was a MOUSE nest in my yarn.

Which is ruined. All other yarn is down where it can be seen and examined. (So far, everything else is fine.) I've had it with rodents. I am traumatized. STEPS WILL BE TAKEN. Before any more yarn is lost!!

(Seriously, we'd gotten all the little buggers out of the house - it's probably a really, really old nest in the one yarn bag I didn't zip properly. But STILL. TRAUMA.)

Monday, August 30, 2010

MM - Week Two

Well, I did stuff. I've got about half the questions answered, I've got my report outlined (AGAIN - but I like the way I've set it up this time a bit better). I got more top-loading sleeves - these with little protection-flaps so things don't fall out. (I'm worried that somewhere high over Kansas, my little folder will 86 itself off a transport jet and plummet to earth, scattering my swatches to the four winds as it falls.) This isn't terribly exciting, really; there's not much by the way of pictures to show. Yet - I managed to come up with something:

To compensate, I will now show you THREE spiffy books that arrived in the mail from rockinsticks on Saturday! She had a contest, and I won! Woohoo! I was only expecting one book - and instead, I got three - and CHOCOLATE!!! (Thank you again, J!!!!) Just click on the photo below to see how to purchase one of your own, if you're interested...

Pretty cool, eh? I'm having a lot of fun figuring out what things I can make from each for HPKCHC this term!!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Finally, a use for the Yarn Bra...

I discovered something. My system for keeping my needles & hooks where they belong? It doesn't work so well:

I was, in fact, looking for the size 9 needles that go in this bag...

... and that's not where they were. Clearly. So there was a little spurt of organization, late one night this week, wherein I discovered that the "Yarn Bras" that I'd gotten - and never used - were actually quite useful after all.

So now, for these needles at least, I can find them when I need them!

Anyone got any other good organization ideas? I can probably use them!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Yarn on Thursday: Stitch Edition - Week 19

The project: Knitting all the stitches in KnittingOnTheNet.com's Stitch Directory.
The yarn: Anything you want. I'm using a Phentex "Monster Ball of Yarn" (32 oz. 100% acrylic), which won't block, but will give good stitch definition.
The needles: Again, whatever you want that goes with your yarn. I'm using my beloved Lantern Moon size 7s, because they're pretty.
Why this is happening: Because lots of people want to learn new stitches this year!
This week's stitch: #67 Open Honeycomb

I got the number of swatches (plus 1!) that I wanted finished in August done last week... and this will be the last swatch, most likely, until the end of HPKCHC Fall Term. (I'll try to do a few, but there's going to be a LOT of knitting over the next three months!). I did want to at least put something up for the last week in August, so I'd actually have positive numbers contributing to the weekly average in all four weeks!

I ended (as usual) with six rows of seed stitch after last time, so Open Honeycomb can start right away! This pattern is done over "any odd number" of stitches, so I'll kick up to 17 stitches. That means 7 seed stitches before, and 6 after, each RS row. It's a four row repeat, but I'm going to switch it up a bit. The first three repeats are as written, then there are four rows of seed stitch, then I'm also reversing it - instead of purl row, purl row, pattern row, purl row, I'm doing knit row, knit row, p2tog-yo to end, end on p, knit row. So, I have a total of 28 rows, then five more rows of seed stitch (the next pattern starts on the wrong side).

What I noticed about this pattern: If I'd thrown in an extra row (or taken one out) of seed stitch between the two so I was starting on the wrong side, I think my results would've shown better that yes, when starting on the wrong side, doing my "altered" pattern gets you the same thing! It depends on whether you prefer to knit or purl.

Right Side

Wrong Side

Well, that's it for a while. As I said, I hope I'll get a few more swatches done over the next three months - but it's more likely that between terms (December) is when the next big bunch will be knitted. See you then!
A note on the whole project: Since there are 131 stitch patterns (some are listed under multiple headings), plus 7 different edgings in KnittingOnTheNet.com's Stitch Directory, I'll be trying to do two to three stitches a week, minimum. This should get everyone a goodly number of new stitches by the end of the year, and hopefully get me a blanket. No worries if you "fall behind" or "start late" - this is for fun & education, there isn't *really* a time limit of any sort on it. If you're just discovering this project, this link will take you to the beginning, and this link will pull up all the related entries. Just knit on, and have fun!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sometimes, the yarn just doesn't work.

I mentioned yesterday that the swatches for my Herbology O.W.L. just didn't work. You see, Saturday (once I was awake in the evening), I got my working copy of my pattern all set to go, and started to swatch.

I realized pretty quickly that the needles the yarn wanted weren't going to give me anything close to gauge, so I went up... and up... and finally hit size 9s. With sport weight yarn.

From a distance, it doesn't look too bad, not really. But up close... well... the moss stitch looks great. Stunning, even. But moss stitch is not the point of this sweater; it's the cables.

See? the cables... just kinda wash out. And on the big swatch, after about ten rows...

... I could tell that it just wasn't going to work. So, I'm going to check my stash (just in case) for 2800 yards of something that might work just as well, and if not, I'll be hunting down some more Caron Super Soft Chunky in the "Ocean" colorway, since six skeins of that isn't enough.

(And yeah, if I haven't found anything by midnight tonight, I'm hitting Fibre Space tomorrow, just in case the Perfect Yarn is hiding there!)

The good news? I have a whole extra day to get things up and running! This got posted at HPKCHC at the beginning of the week:
Good evening, Slytherins!

O.W.L. guidelines for Fall Term 2010 will be published on Aug. 26th. Due to a Time Turner malfunction, the O.W.L. Examiners will not be available to accept O.W.L. proposals until Sept. 2nd. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause but hope students will make good use of the extra 24 hours to review their spells and wand work and begin crafting for their regular classes. Good luck with your studies this coming term!
I will, of course, let you know what further Yarn Drama ensues.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Less soda, more yarn.

OOOOPS!!! Just noticed that, I guess, today is my Blogiversary. I totally forgot to pay attention to my countdown... drat. I was gonna do stuff this year. Oh well, next year, maybe I'll remember?

So, I would just like to say that I'm being really, really good. I haven't had caffeine - or a fountain soda, or any soda (!!!) - for over a week now. As a result, this is my excuse for the forgetting-my-Blogiversary thing. I also haven't had fast food (what's the point?), I've mysteriously lost weight, and I haven't charged anything.

I did, however, have a $10 coupon, plus a 25% off EVERYTHING YOU BUY coupon from A.C. Moore, and all the cash that I didn't spend on breakfasts, lunches, or dinners at fast food places. So, I decided to get a few things.

The original plan was to go in and buy some needles for my upcoming O.W.L.; I don't have sufficient numbers of size 9s to do it as fast as I'll have to. Turns out, that's not so much an issue, since the yarn that required the size 9 needles doesn't work (more on that later). So, I decided to, just maybe, get a wee little bit of yarn.

See, the yarn for my O.W.L., while lovely, didn't work. The pattern really calls for a "heavy worsted" - i.e., bulky - yarn. I found the exact color I wanted! Yes, it's acrylic. It's OK. If you've followed along with the Yarn on Thursday: Stitch Edition project, you'll see that I can do cables in acrylic just fine, and, as an extra bonus, I won't have to do the waist-shaping mods I'd been planning. Since acrylic doesn't block, the cables will always pull in a bit! I'm going to swatch this week, to see if I can get enough yarn - I may have not quite enough.

Then there was this cool stuff:

It looks kinda like Kauni, and since a Kauni Cardigan (with the real yarn) is on my List of Things To Knit For My O.W.L.s (I think it was for Transfiguration, since steeks are involved). To see if I like the color-change effect at all, I'm going to try making a simple in-pattern "two color" scarf .

Then, my wonderful husband helped me overcome my Fear of PayPal, and I finally got the pattern for the Friendship Star Lapghan, which I wanted to crochet the first time I saw it. It's a nice combo of looks-like-quilting-but-it's-really-crochet, except there *is* piecing of a sort involved. Anyway, here's my yarn:

Last up, I had previously gotten some lovely Sky blue Yowza! to knit myself an Owls Sweater.

That's some pretty yarn there. And it'll make a lovely sweater... but not an Owls. Because this wonderful, iridescent, fuzzy-soft coppery lovelystuff is going to be my Owls!!

Not a bad haul, at all - and I *still* had $26 and change when I left the store! Wow, if I'd realized how much yarn I was actually able to afford, I might've given up fountain soda - and all the attendant eating out that went with it - a long time ago!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Masters Hand Knitting, Level I - Take II - Week One

Over the past bit (as much as a year, perhaps?) the TKGA Masters Hand Knitting courses have been revised and updated. As I didn't turn my Level I stuff in by my deadline in June this year, I get to start again. Since I'm a much better knitter now than when I first started, this ups my odds of passing without too many re-dos.

One of the cool things in the instructions this time around is a Plan of Action. I love this - it's a really nice hand-hold-as-you-get-started page of common-sense steps to get the Master Knitter-wannabe started. It's only a suggestion (it says), but wow - it's a nice list to have!! Here's the things from it I've done so far (omitting items that I've already done).
  1. The first thing up? Read All Instructions. After realizing, well after knitting, that I'd done a k2p2 rib for a swatch that should have had a k1p1, I definitely read all my instructions!!!
  2. I've noted the date I received the new instruction packet - Wednesday, August 18, 2010 - and put it on my cover letter. I also found the phrase that describes how I knit - "Eastern Combined Uncrossed" - and put that in there, since my style of knitting is one of the less common ones. The reviewers need to know that!
  3. All my necessary supplies (ring binder, section dividers, page protectors, label materials) are in the bin where they've been since last time. I do need to take all my OLD attempt stuff out of the binder to make room for the new stuff. All my reference books are actually on the shelf where they belong - and, oddly enough, now that I know I knit strangely, my footnotes are going to be MORE interesting. However, there's now a set number of sections: Swatches, Questions, Report, Project and References. And for the swatches, there are Reference Sheets to be tucked in the sleeve with the swatch, so no trying to fit a jillion things on each little card! That makes it easy!
  4. My yarn is the same as last time: Patons Classic Wool. I'll have to check the ball band to see what size needles are called for (I think US 7s), and make sure I'm using those needles.
  5. One new note: before knitting a swatch, look at the questions, so you know what you're going for. Then, after finishing, block & label and answer the questions. For each swatch. This would've saved me a world of hurt last time through!!
  6. This time, while I will, as suggested, keep notes of how I blocked my swatches as I go, I'm doing the report FIRST, and actually getting it finished, so I block things the way it says to! One of the big comments from the conference was that people will write excellent blocking reports - and then their swatches are blocked poorly, showing that they aren't actually making the connection between what they've learned and what they're applying. I do not want to be one of Those People.
  7. This time, they ask for a Reference Section, for the full cites for the footnotes, arranged alphabetically by Last Name. That's going to be fun for me, since I do Blue Book citations by force of habit, which isn't what they're asking to see. Sigh.
  8. I'm going to have to do another hat. At least this time, I know that my hat will grow a LOT when I block it (I had dead-on gauge while knitting, then it GREW). I will knit accordingly!
  9. And the checklist. *Shudder.* I will not be afraid of the checklist this time. I will not be afraid of the checklist this time!
And this time, I'm starting with fresh new worsted-weight, ecru-colored yarn, size 7 needles required.

Wish me luck!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday wrap-up

First, a note: OMG SQUEEEE!!!

Srsly. Exploding SNAP has been worth it just for the fact that I *haven't* added to the list for three straight weeks. (I know the Official Count is 20 days, but I know I didn't start anything on the 31st of July, either, although I was really tempted.

Not starting is a good thing, because I've got plenty of work yet to GET started for the fall: One of my SNAP items (which *doesn't* count against me for SNAP starting, but DOES go in the UFO list) is to wind up the balls for my upcoming Herbology O.W.L. and get all my cable swatches done. Here are the fifteen skeins of Silky Wool all ready to hop on the swift:

I'm hoping to get that done this weekend, and get my swatching all done next week, since on the first, I hope to submit my O.W.L. proposal and get knitting on the lovely jacket that will be the result!

As a result of Not Starting things, I've kept working on the carry-around projects, of which there are two. The first is the Forget-Me-Not Shawl (have I given you the link to the pattern lately? I don't think I have. Hrm. Well, here's the Rav link; looks like you have to have a free Elann account to access it now, so your choice on signing up or not.) Anyway, I'm now one Chart 2 repeat away from the edge. Then there's the fancy-schmancy picot bind-off. Just between you and me, I'm doing two rows of garter stitch before I start on that! Anyway, I'm going to try to finish this in August, since it's one of the older knitting UFOs, and it'd be nice to have it finished.

The other thing I'm carrying around is the Tiffany Wisteria Window. The last picture I could find of it is below, with where-I-am-now below that.

I really need to (sigh) get a phone with a better camera. This looked all pretty and sparkly in the sun, and none of the pretty sparkles came through on my (relatively) ancient Samsung Juke (I got it when it first came out in 2007).

Oh, and in other Upcoming Projects news, I received my new TKGA Master Handknitting Level I packet on the 18th, so Masters Monday will be back, starting next week. This time, I'm going to get it done in a timely manner DANGIT!!!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Yarn on Thursday: Stitch Edition - Week 18

The project: Knitting all the stitches in KnittingOnTheNet.com's Stitch Directory.
The yarn: Anything you want. I'm using a Phentex "Monster Ball of Yarn" (32 oz. 100% acrylic), which won't block, but will give good stitch definition.
The needles: Again, whatever you want that goes with your yarn. I'm using my beloved Lantern Moon size 7s, because they're pretty.
Why this is happening: Because lots of people want to learn new stitches this year!
This week's stitches: #61 Garter Eyelet , #62 Garter Lace, #63 Lace Ribbing, #64 Lacy Lattice, #65 Ladder Rib and #66 Little Shell

Since I remembered to take all the photos I was supposed to for last week's post, we can jump right in this week! Since I ended the Garland Stitch on the RS of the strip, I did 5 rows of seed stitch to get me *back* on the RS to begin Garter Eyelet. This is worked over any odd number of stitches, and since I'm already at 21 pattern stitches (with five seed stitches before and four seed stitches after on each RS row), I'll stay there. As it's a very simple six-row repeat, but it really does scrunch down on itself. I'll do five repeats for a total of 30 rows, just to make it kinda match the adjoining squares.

Garter Eyelet Front

What I noticed about this pattern: I actually took a picture of the back of the swatch (below) before figuring out that no, that wasn't the front. So hey - it's reversible! Because of the garter-stitch base, it takes a LOT of yarn - about the same as garter stitch, actually, so take that into account when you're planning to use it.

Garter Eyelet Back

Six rows of seed stitch, and Garter Lace begins. This stitch is a (multiple of 2)+2, and since some pattern areas coming up will be much narrower than what I've been doing, I'll kick it down to 18+2, or 20 pattern stitches, with five seed stitches before and after for the borders. This is a 10-row pattern, so two repeats will be 20 rows. However, it's heavy on the "garter" - so I ended up doing 30 rows and three repeats, just to make it look like a normal-sized swatch. (Followed by another six rows of seed stitch, of course.)

What I noticed about this pattern: The back side actually looks pretty cool on this one - here, I took the back photo on purpose. Looks like the Roman Stripe from two weeks ago, actually... hmm. Both this and the Garter Eyelet above are nice alternatives to yards and yards of plain garter stitch, if you get bored with that easily (as I tend to do).

Lace Ribbing Is a (multiple of 7), so the pattern area will be 21 stitches, with five seed stitches before and four seed stitches after on each RS row. It's a simple four-row repeat, so five repeats will give me 20 rows.(Followed by six rows of garter stitch. Again.)

What I noticed about this pattern: Very pretty - it looks like little leaves! It's easy, too - not quite mindless-stockinette easy, but close enough. Would make up as a very nice sweater, I think. It also pulls in quite a bit (not scads, but noticably), so it could be cute for something along the lines of Tempting or Tempting II, just to change 'em up a bit. (Why, yes, I am planning to knit a variation on Tempting II using this patttern. Why do you ask?)

Lacy Lattice is a (multiple of 6)+1, so I'll go down to 19 stitches for the pattern area, with six seed stitches before and five seed stitches after on each RS row. The pattern is over eight rows, so three repeats will give me 24 rows. (Gee. Ends on the WS. Guess how many rows of seed stitch before the next swatch? Six? That's right!!)

What I noticed about this pattern: Um. It's not terribly attractive. Why the purl stitches on the right side? While yes, it goes well with the rest of my blanket strip, I don't think I'd use it anywhere else. Some stitches just aren't my cup of tea!

Ladder Rib says it requires "two selvedge stitches, one on each side, to be worked in stockinette or garter stitch", and that it's a (multiple of 4)+ 2+ 2 as a result. Well, I don't have to worry about the selvedge, since I've already got my seed stitch border going, so for me, it's a (multiple of 4)+2. Since the previous pattern was at 19 stitches, and the next pattern will be at 16, I'll use (4x4)+2 to make the pattern 18 stitches wide, with six seed stitches before and after. (And six more rows of seed stitch after that.) It's a six-row pattern, so four repeats will give me 24 rows.

What I noticed about this pattern: It is advertised as "not a true ribbing that will pull in." It actually does pull in a bit, but not that much. I ended up doing the "selvedge stitches" just because (mostly since it makes a 20-stitch pattern area). It tends to kick to the right, because of the columns of k2tog, so it needs blocking. Other than that - not bad. Interesting on the vertical - but I think I prefer the Lace Ribbing. All a matter of personal choice, luckily - if you love it, go for it!

Little Shell is a (multiple of 7)+2. I don't want to kick up to 23 stitches wide, since I haven't had a narrow area for a really long time, so I'll make this pattern 16 stitches wide, with seven seed stitches before and after. It's a four-row repeat, but kinda pretty, so I'll do five repeats for a total of 20 rows. Since I'm still ending on the WS, there will be six rows of seed stitch before the next swatch.

What I noticed about this pattern: Like the Lacy Lattice above, there's a lot of purling-on-the-front here. Here, however, it actually makes little cockleshells, which are quite pretty! Um. Really. I should've paid more attention to the light on this shot, sorry - but really, you get little scoops with purl ruffles at the bottom, and in real life, they really do look like little shells!

Side note for the week: this is my fifth day off caffiene, so really, it's a miracle I got everything knitted in the first place for this week - you almost didn't get Little Shells at all, but I hung in there last night, and managed to stay awake all the way until 8:30 p.m. (Yes, I used to crash at about 1am - this "lots of sleep" thing is new to me. Probably healthier, too, but it does cut into my knitting time!)
A note on the whole project: Since there are 139 131 stitch patterns (some are listed under multiple headings), plus 7 different edgings in KnittingOnTheNet.com's Stitch Directory, I'll be trying to do two to three stitches a week, minimum. This should get everyone a goodly number of new stitches by the end of the year, and hopefully get me a blanket. No worries if you "fall behind" or "start late" - this is for fun & education, there isn't *really* a time limit of any sort on it. If you're just discovering this project, this link will take you to the beginning, and this link will pull up all the related entries. Just knit on, and have fun!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Oh Ravelry, where art thou?

Casey said Ravelry might have problems today - they had to switch to their backup internet provider - and it is. Looks like something temporarily ate the site.

It's really sad that I'm having caffeine AND Rav withdrawal at the same time.

Sheep Umbrella!

I really have nothing today. I'm starting day 4 of no caffiene, and it's rough. Plus, a mosquito bit the big vein on the back of my left hand, adding to the misery (which is relative, I realize). But there wasn't really much knitting at all on the way home (well, but for the row done incorrectly that I'm only half finished tinking), and there was a little cross-stitch this morning, but dramatic differences in cross stitch take longer between photographs than with knitting.

So, here's a photo of my umbrella.

It's available through WeGotIrish.com, if you'd like one, along with many other Black Sheep items and the delightful Wacky Woolies (I have a totebag).

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tuesday Afternoon

Running a bit late today, due to work going nuts and desperately needing an hour of knitting during lunch, which you now get to see.

At the end of lunchtime (such as it was) yesterday, I was getting close to the end of the yarn. I can't even remember who made this yarn: I just know it was mohair, hot pink, and on deep discount at Stitch DC Georgetown sometime in 2007 (2008?). There wasn't enough of it to make the entire Forget-Me-Not shawl, as you can probably tell. (I'm halfway through the first repeat of Chart 2.)

So, since I didn't want to run out, and hot pink mohair somehow makes me giggle every time I see it (and more happy in the universe is a Good Thing), I tracked down something similar. Three times over, in fact. I have enough for a couple of shawls - there are three more of these:

Now, this yarn *is* different. It's a hair heavier than the Mystery Merino, because it's wrapped with silk. The color match is almost exact (which is a miracle), but that little bit of silk twisted around the mohair is going to make it behave - and shimmer - a bit differently.

You can see here that there's just a wee bit of difference:

Now, the new fiber caused a wee bit of trouble with the felt-splicing - the silk didn't want to play along. Luckily, the mohair more than made up for it, so the splice got made. Now, even though I've got 230 yards of yarn to finish up, I'm pretty sure the Mystery Merino came in a skein of 685 (why I'm sure of this? I have no idea.), and I've hit the really-long-rows part of the shawl, and have about 40 rows to go. So I'll need about 1/3 of the total yarn for the shawl, which is about what I have.

And if not, hey, I've got three more!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Little Victories

So, there's this lovely skein of Neighborhood Fiber Co. Maisonette in the Cooper Circle colorway that I received as a Christmas gift from my Boss-Who-Knits last year. See? Isn't it pretty?

Don't let its innocent appearance fool you!

I hauled it out of storage two weekends back, since it really didn't belong in there (being a Special Yarn), and I was pretty certain I could find something pretty to make with it. On Thursday morning, it jumped onto the swift, and turned itself into a pretty little center-pull yarn cake.

And then the trouble began.

The danged yarn ball followed me to work and found the EZ Pi Shawl knitalongs springing up all over the place in honor of Elizabeth Zimmerman's 100th Birthday. It even found the "Hearts" version of the Pi Shawl by Mwaa.Knits, and printed me a copy. And then it started following me. EVERYWHERE. Luckily, work (and the commutes) on Thursday and Friday took far too much energy to fiddle around with a circular center cast-on and lots of little DPNs. But Saturday and Sunday? It was just a pain-in-the-neck little cake of yarn!

It pointed out that I wasn't really DOING anything sitting at the dry cleaners, or in the hellacious traffic that was Southbound I-95:

And there was a LOT of traffic. (I worked on my Forget-Me-Not shawl instead, despite the Evil Yarn Cake's attempts to sway me.)

When we finally reached IKEA, I was able to distract it for a time with cool light-up Swedish eye charts, but once we'd gotten our new kitchen cabinets, it started in on me again in the parking garage. (And if the photos are rotated oddly, I tried. Something's up with photobucket, because they look fine over there...)

Thankfully, IKEA furniture has a built-in "no, hush, I'm busy" factor built in. But Sunday, it started up again. It whined and whined in the bookstore, but I was able to distract it with some books

And I think it finally gave up Sunday night. Or maybe it was the margarita I offered it to keep it quiet. I may never know...

But whatever did the trick, I managed to get through the WHOLE WEEKEND without starting a new project!