Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Herbology O.W.L - DONE!!!

Here's what was supposed to post on Friday....
From here on in, it's All About the O.W.L. For most of November (until the 14th, to be precise), I've been avoiding my Herbology O.W.L. Slytherin needs the 100 points we'd get if I finish, and we need it badly. (I've tried to get as many points this term as I personally can, y'all know that!) The sleeves, however, just weren't working for me, so I needed a way to fix them that wouldn't really take away from what I'd stated the project would be. Enter Moss Stitch, the main stitch of said sleeves outside the Celtic cabled area. Moss Stitch can hide a multitude of sins... and, luckily, of SEAMS. I whipped up two inserts, one for each sleeve, to widen them up to the point they should've been in the first place. (Yes, I carefully made a schematic... and managed to READ IT INCORRECTLY for the sleeves. I did two selvege stitches on each side of each insert, since I knew I'd be "killing" at least one pattern repeat on each side of each seam. I made the first seam (to the front of each sleeve, and as invisibly as possible!), and pinned it out to see how it was.

That pointed out that the shoulder cap was just plain WRONG. Which was cool; something had been off about it. So, FROG back, but not as bad as I'd feared (remember, I was a bit worried that I'd have to re-do both entire sleeves!). The sleeves, minus cap and a bit of cable, went on stitch holders.

Then I noticed there was a cable miscrossed. AIGH!!


... and reknitting.

So, I have most of the back finished, and this puts me in GREAT shape for knitting over the weekend and getting everything turned in on time.


That, of course, would've led to yesterday me announcing that my OWL was done, woohoo... but yesterday, it wasn't. My sleep schedule is so wonky that I was perfectly awake when I did finish it... this morning, at 2:20 a.m. I took a nap, and I'm attempting a day at work (sitting down, thankfully). But the OWL is done! Pardon the blurry photos; I had trouble standing still due to wobbling a bit, but you get the idea. It's a lovely sweater, came out the way I wanted (I can wear fairly bukly things under it, which is the point of the Pretty Outer Sweater).

I'm glad I added the triangle detail to the sleeves and put in the button band. Also glad I've learned the increase-needle-size-every-six-rows trick for the collar; that also worked well. The turned-in hems on the sleeves and, well, hem keep everything Just So, and grafting, instead of sewing, the seems worked really well.

I like my sweater. And, okay, POINTS FOR SLYTHERIN!!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Until further notice...

Hey, everyone, sorry for no update Friday: I'm sick, AGAIN. I've gotta figure out what's doing it; I've had these symptoms three times since August, and I'm tired of it, y'know? It's interfering with work, fun, and, most importantly, KNITTING.

At least it's not pneumonia/bronchitis? Missing a couple of days of work is way better than missing a month at a time, right?

Anyway, hope to be back soon with real knitting content.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Woohoo! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Let's all be grateful for all the good stuff in our lives, and afternoon football games that allow for plenty of knitting time!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

One Week Left to Knit....

From here on in, it's All About the O.W.L. For most of November (until the 14th, to be precise), I've been avoiding my Herbology O.W.L. Slytherin needs the 100 points we'd get if I finish, and we need it badly. (I've tried to get as many points this term as I personally can, y'all know that!) There are some sleeve problems I discovered, which will be detailed later, but for now, it's time to get going on the back of the sweater... and this is knitting frenzy time. Frenzy, I tell you! It's kinda scary how a cable this complicated suddenly becomes simple; it's also scary how easy it was to read where to put the decreases for the waist shaping, the armholes, everything!

Here I am this morning, about 1/4 way up the back (which is all I've managed to do over the last four days, since I haven't had any knitting time except my commute in - I keep getting motion-sick on the way home).

Since none of *my* lawyers are in today, and I'm only helpling people-I-don't-usually-work-with once my filing is done for the day, I'll be knitting at my desk. I need about three pattern repeats to get to the shoulder decreases; that should be doable by the end of today (there's ANTM and Biggest Loser to watch tonight!), and once I hit the shoulders, I should have something looking almost completely sweater-like (if in pieces) by post-time Friday.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Transfiguration - First Felted Project Ever!

Okay, I've turned in the six classes required for Second Year Ultimate Quest, but y'all know I'm crazy, right? So, naturally, there had to be MOAR KNITTING. Specifically, I decided to try my hand at felting for Transfiguration. I LOVE the mittens I made for Defense Against the Dark Arts, and wanted Things That Matched to go with them. (I'll be working a scarf & hat into Winter Term classes; there may be a jacket in the works, too, someday.)

I've never felted anything before, mind you. Didn't really see the point. I have, however, made bags before... and getting them so knitting (and kntting needles!) don't fall out... well, that's a challenge. For this, felting might actually be something worth trying, right? So, using the graph from the Flaming Mitts (which I turned into Flame Mittens), I started to knit a bag.

It looks like a sweater....

I made the world's biggest short-row toe to start, which took an entire ball of Debbie Stoller's Full-o-Sheep on size 15 needles - I had to go get more to get a few rows past the "start knitting in the round" point and get the flames started! Then, the flames, then to the black. Then a lot of around and around and around in the black. Then the casting off.

Before - 4' wide, 3.5' tall.
Bigger than a sweater!

Then the terror. Lots of terror - I was going to actively do Something Bad to this lovely, if totally oversized, bag I'd just knitted. Luckily, Cat & Eric of LetsKnit2gether.com have Helpful Hand-Holding Felting Videos (Felting aka the Science Experiment, Pt. 1 and Felting aka The Science Experiment, Pt. 2). Found a lingere bag and some sheets, and ran the washer as hot as it would go. Given that I'd knitted a body-bag sized object, getting it to felt down took a lot longer than I thought it would. And I did some slightly unrecommended things in the process. First off, 20 minutes of hot-hot-hot washing got me this - which was both shorter and wider than I'd expected. For felting, the rule is generally "knit wider than longer", since for normal people, things will shrink in rather than down. Once again, the bizarre way I throw my yarn gave me an opposite result - it shrunk shorter and stayed wider than expected.

2' wide, 1' tall - how strange!

Yeah, it's slightly wonky-looking. So, based on my mother's intuition and several tales of what had happened to sweaters of hers in the early days of her marriage, it went into the DRYER for 20 minutes... and, while still wonky looking when it came out, it was workable. A wee bit of nipping, tucking, stitching and whacking into shape, and it started to resemble the tote-bag I was going for. At this point, it is now 20% of its original size!!!

It's smaller than initially expected, but that's fine - it's still a workable tote-bag size, and the handles I got for it will work even better, since they're for a medium-to-large bag, and this is a nice, solid medium. I used Cat's plastic-bag-over-a-box-and-PULL blocking method, and put the little critter in front of our main heat-vent. By Monday morning, half of it was dry, so I turned it around.

Blocked - roughly 18" tall x 16" wide x 3" deep

Monday night, I put on the handles - and, Ta-Dah! It's an actual totebag! I'm still trying to decide whether or not I'm going to line it; the fabric is pretty darned thick (getting a needle through it to attach the handles? Quite an adventure!)

The inside, unlined

My first felted project, and it came out great!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Herbology - Done!

I actually got an entire weekend this week, by some miracle - well, not so much a miracle as a super-annoying allergy outburst *last* Saturday, which turned into getting my shot on Tuesday evening, instead of Saturday as planned. So, while I lost Tuesday evening and most of Wednesday to histamine fog (I clearly went to work, I just don't remember most of it), I got All Day Saturday. Woohoo!

It started early, too, with eye appointments for me and my husband at 8:00 am. I've been having trouble seeing (moreso than usual), as the last "new" pair of glasses I got at a doc-in-a-box eye place never really worked for me. So, back to the guys that have been taking care of me since I was a kid (well, one of them, anyway; the other is retired, and the "new kid" is now in his late 30s). New glasses are in the offing, and as they were able to replace the lenses in my old pair "while I waited" - for all of five minutes - the "seeing" thing is already working much better! I can see leaves on trees again!

In knitting news, this was the Weekend of the Bunnies. I had four bunny-skins knitted up by Tuesday (tiny brown, patterned beige, cream, and giant-sized grey and green), so I needed to (a) make them ears, (b) sew and stuff them, and (c) add additional features as required. the Giant Happy Slytherbunny! This is my Charms homework this month. It wasn't going to be, originally, but I put up a poll in the Snake Pit:
Okay, Snakes, some help here with my Herbology assignment…

I could (a) cast on and make my husband a stuffed trilobite (he's a Girl Genius fan and total madboy);


I could (b) finish the giant grey-and-green square that will fold into a Giant Happy Bunny for the back of my car window since for some reason the Giant Flying Happy Bunny that was in my car migrated to my husband's car and refuses to come back.

The Traitor

So - (a) {hit "educational"} or (b) {hit "interesting"}

The vote was 11-to-1 in favor of making the Giant Happy Slytherbunny, so really, I had to, and here he is! He's made from Lion Brand's "Hometown USA" yarn with size 13 needles, and is over a foot long from nose to fluffy tail. He's about 50% larger than Giant Flying Happy Bunny, and took an entire half-bag of polyfill stuffing.



front - Happy!

I'll still be making my husband the Trilobite toy for Christmas, but I'll be doing it during December, when there's not quite so much time pressure on me to produce class items, Challenge rabbits, and my O.W.L!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Charms - Done!

Early Tuesday morning (when I should have been rushing out the front door), I finished my Charms project. The assignment was: Rememberall - "Craft a item which represents your family's past... Tell us a little about the person/event." Since both my husband and I are each the offspring of two sailors/scullers, and we each grew up influenced by the military (me, Army; he, Navy), and as my husband refuses to wear his grandfather's (still perfectly good and able to be used) WWII watch cap because he doesn't want to hurt it, I decided to find a similar pattern and make him another one. I think I found the actual pattern, however - an official U.S. Navy/Red Cross Watch Cap pattern from 1941.

I made a few (possibly unwise) changes to the pattern. For one, I didn't use wool (I will next time), and two, I used bulky yarn, instead of worsted-weight. Once I hit the crown, I was worried about bundling all the thick stitches together, so I did three sets of two rows/decrease row (decreasing every 3, 2 and 1 stitches respectively). With less bulky yarn, I think following the pattern exactly would work.

What did work is, for the first time ever, I generated a hat that was actually long enough to both cover the ears and fold up - I've clearly been making all my hats far too short all this time (sigh). And it's actually snug on my husband's head without squeezing his brains out, which is preferable to brain-squeezing. Since it's Not Wool, it's machine washable/dryable, so it will hopefully soften up over time.

At any rate, he'll be willing to wear it in public, and his grandfather's watch cap will remain safe.

I'm also forging along in my quest for Challenge Rabbits. I've got three rabbit "skins" knitted now - I just need ears and to fold them into rabbits (the first part)...

... and then decorate for whichever holiday they represent. The little brown one is Thanksgiving, the beige one is Christmas, and the white one is New Year's Eve.

There's a really strong possibility that the Christmas one is going to grow antlers and be a Jackalope!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Potions - Done!

More stuff got done over the weekend - this time, for Potions: "Craft a gift intended to make somebody else happy."

I made two little Owlets. I was going to keep one and give the second away as a Suprise Gift - but I have to give them both away. They're a set.



See? They have to stay together!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Astronomy - Done!

Woohoo, I got another class finished! The assignment for Astronomy: "Cast your gaze towards the heavens and produce a HPKCHC acceptable project that interprets one of the magnificent sights found in the Astronomy Universe." Well, that said "pretty star ornament" to me, so I made a set. It's a pretty easy crochet pattern, I think - but I'm using too-big hook, or too-big thread, since mine are much fluffier than the ones depicted in the pattern. But I like them anyway! Naturally, since they're silver stars, I put green ribbon hangers on them. Slytherin colors, you know.

They worked up quickly. Tucking in the ends required a size 14 crochet hook, but I made it work! Before blocking, all fluffy:

During blocking, such as it was:

It wasn't so much "blocking" as carefully tracing every single line with a thin film of Tacky Glue which, as advertised, dries clear. I also followed the advice on the pattern and blocked on a piece of waxed paper, and thank heavens I did! Otherwise, I'd have pretty ornaments glued to a piece of cardboard, which wasn't the goal at all. I could've used sugarwater, of course, but given that we've finally exorcised all the rodents from the house, I don't want anything that might read as "food" out where they might smell it!

Anyway, I really like these little guys, and will definitely use this pattern again. And maybe even get them to look like they should next time!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Quidditch - Done (for 90 points!)

Quidditch draws to a close today, and what a season it was! The House Pride Exhibitions yielded some really wonderful projects from all the Houses, and the regular game was just plain COOL. I ended up scoring six goals total, which gains Slytherin 90 points. Woohoo! The sixth and final was for these armwarmers, which I just made up on the fly:

They fit from about thumb to elbow on me, which is what I wanted - wristwarmers that stop at the wrist don't actually warm my wrists. But since they're longer than wrist-lenght glove things, they're armwarmers instead. Just not really *long* armwarmers.

It's basically two rectangles, with buttonholes placed on either side of the silver stripes. I'll try to get a pattern up in December (add it to the list of patterns I'm hoping to get up in December)!!

Woohoo! Quidditch is done for the term - now I can worry about finishing up my classes and my O.W.L.!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

History of Magic - Done!

One - I have finally started knitting the swatches for Masters Level I Hand Knitting!! I started last Wednesday, when I desperately needed a break from wire wrangling. It's kinda cool how much my knitting has improved over the last sixteen months, since I first got my Level I packet!

Two - I was wrangling wire. Knitting wire is one of those "needs practice, and lots!" skills. Crocheting wire, however, is actually pretty easy. Easy enough that, over the course of one (long) evening, I was able to crochet up all the wire I had (18.4 meters) into a lovely little wrist cuff, complete with pretty sparkly beads:

It's a very simple cuff: ch 40, sc in 2nd ch then sc across. Repeat, switching colors every so often. Once it's about the right size, with the darker wire, loop the beads every third sc (crosswise, so they stay on the outside of the cuff).

I really like the way it came out. I'm probably going to try doing this again, with both a larger and a smaller hook, to see if I can get something that actually looks more like Crochet Proper.

But for a Spiffy New Thing, I'm really liking the idea of being able to make pretty jewelry with skill-sets I already have! Doesn't hurt, either, that this is my History of Magic assignment - making something that celebrates the traditions of Goblin metalworking. More Points for Slytherin!

Friday, November 12, 2010

More projects going...

This month's projects are galloping apace. The sixth and final Quidditch project for this term (really, I have to call an end to it if I want to finish my O.W.L.!) is a set of Slytherin armwarmers. I'm doing the "second year stripe" this time, due to having a lot more Forest Green Heather yarn than Grey Heather (and I need the Grey Heather I've got for Something Else). I've got the first one knitted, but not finished (needs buttons!), and the second one should be done soon.

For Potions, I'm making two little Owlet ornaments. I found the "actual" eyes used this time, and I really like the effect. (Which isn't to say I don't still love my Fierce Habit-Breaking Owls, but these eyes match the photo in the pattern better.) I found the softest white fluffystuff for the bodies, which are done:

I'm hoping to find some Fun Fur in the storage unit tonight (there's got to be some in there, right?) for the head/beak bits, then I'll put ribbon hanging loops on them. I'm also hoping the Debbie Bliss Cahsmerino I got for my husband's watch cap (aka "Charms Homework") is in there - I can't find it in the house.

Lastly, the Headmistress Challenge bunnies are coming along nicely. The skin of the brown one is done, and I've started on the white. I'm hoping yesterday's Poppy will get me credit (10 points) for a Veteran's Day display, so these will be for two other holidays.

I'm hoping that I'll have the rest of my classes started by the end of the weekend, and have got going on my O.W.L. again. Yay!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Defense Against the Dark Arts - Done!

It's Veteran's Day in the US (and Armistice Day and Rememberance Day elsewhere); the Moment of Silence is at 11:11am, so we can think about the War to End All Wars, and be thankful for the men and women who've fought to protect us and our freedoms when that war didn't turn out to be the last one. I crocheted a poppy last night, to wear today:

And here I am, wearing it. (Slightly pre-dawn outdoor lighting and a very small megapixel phone camera make for blurry photos. But that's me.)

I also turned in some homework yesterday:

We had to come up with something that would protect us from Fiendfyre this time, and I've had flame mitts in my queue FOREVER. So...
Fiendfyre is actually is partially-sentitent fire, and, as such, can be very difficult for the caster to control. Feindfyre will pursue anything it can burn (including the caster, if they're not careful to maintain control!) for more fuel. It will incinerate *anything*. There is no counter-curse effective against it; but, as my Mama always said, "Fight Feindfyre with Feindfyre". Like all fires, Feindfyre seeks to dominate everything around it, including other fires. Waving bright flames in its face will get its attention (again, be careful here), and give it a target that it will center on and attempt to destroy (unless the caster has the level of control of a Pyromancer First Class - and, well, let's hope none of us ever run into one of those). Once the Feindfyre centers on such an irresistable target, it will keep burning until its target is consumed - or until it burns itself out.

Indestructable Flame Mittens (above) are such an irresistable target. They are most effective when tossed quickly into a (hopefully) stone room containing Feindfyre - you *don't* want to be wearing them when you draw the Feindfyre's attention. While the Feindfyre will burn itself out attacking the mittens - thank heavens for the "only partially-sentient" part - there is a 73% probability that you'll be burned to ash in the process. If you're one of the lucky 17%, however, you'll probably never have to buy yourself a Butterbeer ever again!

Adding this pic again, since it's truer to the Actual Colors. (And yes, thePoppy is made from the same yarn.) Whee! Mittens!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

More Points for Slytherin!

The deadline for Quidditch entries this term (November 16) is fast approaching. So I added a scarf to my collection of Finished Quidditch things. It's out of Lion Brand Homespun USA, and done in k1p1 rib, it's very thick, and quite toasty.

Quite toasty, which is good, since it keeps being at/near freezing when I leave the house in the morning!!

I have some armwarmers I want to whip up, as well, before the deadline.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Getting going on November classes

Okay, on to this month's classes. I've started Astronomy, Defense Against the Dark Arts and History of Magic thus far. For Astronomy, we have to make something star-like or night-sky inspired. I crocheted three little Star-in-Star ornaments. I still have to pin & stiffen them and tuck in their ends, but they're at least crocheted at this point:

For DADA, I was going to make Flaming Mitts, but I kept going and turned them into Flame Mittens. We're supposed to make something that would help us combat FiendFyre; I figure "fight fire with fire" will work as a concept. And I've never made knitted mittens before; they're pretty cool, actually. And it's nice having them both roomy, yet somewhat fitted - and in wool. I really like that I can wear wool now; thank you allergy shots! I still have one more mitten to knit, as you can see, but hey, 50% done!

For History of Magic, we're supposed to craft an example of Goblin metalwork. I'm going to try knitting a wire beaded cuff. I've never knit with wire before; I got a pair of sacrificeable needles, since by all reports, metal needles are the only things to use whilst knitting wire, and wire will chew them up. I'm using small-gauge beading wire, and it works fairly well - there's a knack to it that I just might have by the end of my cuff. I'm hoping I'll only need 10yd of each color (silver and green, of course!), since that's what I have on hand right now. It's slow going; half an hour got me four whole rows. Also - long tail cast on is the ONLY way to go with wire, IMHO.

The Headmistress Challenge also posted: "Decorate your house/car/cubicle/window whatever for the Holiday (any that land in the last two months of the year count) of your choice. In that decor must be a newly made knit/crocheted/spun decoration." 10pts for each holiday. So, I'm going to make rabbits - hopefully five or six - and some little fittings to go with them. This first bunny is about half-done, and I'll be making some little crochet fireworks to go with him for Guy Fawke's. (Yeah, it would have been nice if I'd managed to finish it before November 5, but at this point, I'll just be happy to finish a couple of them!)

There are five other classes, of course, and I've still got to get my OWL finished. I still haven't decided what to do about the sleeves; we'll see. I'm going to knit up the back, first, and get the fronts & back together so I can start the collar & button band. If I have time after that, I may change the sleeves. Yay? Progress?