Sunday, October 28, 2007

Mystic Waters stub

I *finally* got the yarn and needles for the Mystic Waters KAL!!! I thought I was going to die of anticipation. I'm using my first pair of Addi Lace needles and I LOVE LOVE LOVE them already. They are everything I've been looking for in a slippery-yarn needle!

For yarn I ordered "san francisco" from, which is a blue/purple/black with green color in laceweight wool. When I got the skein out of the package, I have to admit I was kind of disappointed.

It turns out that I've never worked with handpainted yarn before, though, so I didn't realize what would happen when I started knitting. That big blob of green over there would turn into this lovely subtle shading and spots.

I knit up the test swatch using a single strand of the yarn, but it came out lacier than I liked:

So I knit up a bit with the handpainted yarn and a single strand of blue JaggerSpun Zephyr (wool and silk) and the result may possibly be the most gorgeous thing I have ever knitted. I have never been so in love with something I was knitting!!!!

This photo is a bit washed out (the other option is so dark you can't quite see the colors), so it doesn't quite show the color variations. To me (in real life) it looks like 'waves'--something about the way the color plays out reminds me of the colors in water waves.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007


oh shit, my ravelry invite came. thank god it's a saturday, or i'd have to call in sick!

waywardelf is where you'll find me.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Sweater update

I should get sick more often. I am jamming through some knitting this week! I *finally* finished the body of the sweater!!! I was stalled out trying to figure out what to do with the neck, and how deep the armholes needed to be, and did the cables need to be in a certain place before I could attach front and back.

My dad's wife reminded me that shawl collars (my original plan) are a bad idea for people who already tend to run hot--all that extra wool around the neck! That was the biggest issue--then I mostly just needed to Get. The. Sweater. Out. Of. Exile.

I finished up the body and did a 3-needle bind off for the shoulders--I *love* that! I'd never done it before and I'm willing to say I may never sew a seam again--I'll find some way to 3NBO it!!

here's the front--I left the cardigan steek in place until I figure out what I am doing for the neck, in case I want to knit that in the round too.

And the back:

And best of all I even dealt with the armhole steeks! I laddered the steek stitches, cut the spanning threads in half, and wove in all the ends. Yes there were well over 150 of them..... It's funny that I don't mind Kitchener stitch (actually, I kind of like it), I love 3 needles bind off, I don't even mind weaving in ends, but I. Hate. Sewing. Seams.

Here is the inside of one side of an armhole:


Finished another UFO!

I've been home sick a couple of days, so I've made some good progress on the scarf. And I pulled this hemp towel out of the bottom of my basket and finished it! Now I just need to wash it in hot water 300 times to get it to soften up a bit. I love the yarn but not for knitting---way too stiff. I'd love to try weaving with it, though. I thought about trying to knit it wet (I know that helps for spinning) but I couldn't figure out the logistics besides just knitting in the bath???


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Knitters Coffee Swap 3 questions

Here are the questions for Knitters' Coffee Swap 3. I'm so excited I made it in!

1. Whole bean or ground?

Ooh, this is tough. For about 15 years I've been buying whole bean and grinding it with my Zassenhaus wooden hand-crank coffee grinder. But a month ago I finally had to admit that it was no longer working right--it won't grind fine anymore. I usually use a Melita filter (or my new stovetop espresso machine!!) so I need a really fine grind. So for now, ground!

2. Fully-loaded or decaf?

Oh leaded, for sure!

3. Regular or flavored?


4. How do you drink your coffee?

With a lot of cream. I once had a pair of khaki pants that turned out to be the exact color of how I take my coffee--it was great! The spills never showed!!

5. Favorite coffee ever?

Favorite bean was the Sumatran bean roasted by Spinelli Coffee in San Francisco, before they got bought out by a chain.

Favorite drink was the "flat white" in New Zealand, which, as far as I could work out, is between a cappucino and a latte in terms of espresso to milk ratio, but with *no foam*. I hate the foam! But Italy has the best overall coffee!

6. Are you fussy about your coffee or will any old bean do?

I'm pretty fussy. I like sumatran because the acidity is low but the taste is really solid. It's hard to find beans here with that level of detail (the grocery store just has "arabica") :(

7. Favorite treats to have with your coffee?

Well, back in the day it was a cigarette, but I've given those up!! Hmm, actually this is stumping me. I was diagnosed Celiac in March this year, which means no gluten (which is in wheat, rye, barley, spelt, oats, and a *lot* of hidden additives) so I've had to go off most treats. Plain chocolate is still a winner, though! Sorry, I know this doesn't help you, pal. I think non-food treats are probably safest for me!

8. Anything else about your coffee preferences?

You mean, I haven't been picky enough??

9. Yarn/fiber you love?

Wool, silk, organic cotton. I love hemp and linen but sometimes they are hard to knit with. I just discovered angora--yum!

10. Yarn/fiber you hate?

Alpaca--it always feels so soft on my hands and so scratchy on my face! I don't usually go for hairy fibers because they tickle me, and I don't like acrylic.

11. What's on your needles?

A) Self-designed cabled cardigan which I am knitting in the round with Harrisville orchid yarn. I love their yarn!! Body is almost done (4 or 5" to the shoulders). Then I have to do the sleeves and figure out a neck. Oh and cut the steek and all that... I have fasteners made from reindeer antler, so I have to work out a buttonhole alternative too.

B) Lighter than air shawl from a book of Icelandic shawls from Schoolhouse Press. Knit with wool/silk yarn that is very very fine!

C) Hemp dishtowel--pattern is from Mason Dixon knitting. I find the yarn stiff and my fingers ache after a few rows, which makes me sad since I love hemp so much.

D) Monks Travel Satchel---just finished the beastly strap!

E) Angora/merino blend in a lace scarf for my secret pal in ISE5. This thing floats it's so light!!

Hey that's not as bad as I thought for UFOs!

12. Favorite colors?

I guess the fall colors. I am obsessed with reds, especially burgandyish ones, and pumpkin colors. And earthy browns and greys, dark greens. They're not gloomy, they're cosy!!

13. Allergies?

None to yarns, but I am allergic to gluten.

14. Anything you really love, really don't like, or just need to get off your chest?

Now I'm stumped, like one time in a seminar when someone whispered "say something profound!"



I cut myself yesterday cooking. Not with my giant Henckels chef's knife, which is how I normally accidentally hurt myself. No, I cut the crap out of my finger trying to get my stupid baking sheet out of the cupboard. The baking sheets here are more like jelly roll pans for making very thin cakes. On top of that they are length adjustable because there are two parts that slide together or further apart. This always confused me, since it seemed like the batter would leak out. The one I have came with my apartment and clearly did have a leaky cake made in it, since the two parts no longer slide, apparently being welded together by some ancient burned crust of batter.

Anyhow, the edges of these things roll up into a lip, but I didn't know they don't finish the edge--it's a big jaggedy edge of metal, but it's rolled to the underside where you wouldn't normally have to deal with it. Unless your pan is caught between the lip of the cupboard and the muffin tin stacked inside it, and you grab the edge and give a big tug, slicing the crap out of your finger.


I eventually went to the ER (new adventure for me in Switzerland) partly because the thing wouldn't stop bleeding, and partly because it's right on the pad of my right index finger. The trackpad spot, the rubbing yarn with thumb and forefinger spot, kind of the everything spot. So I really don't want a big nerveless scar right there, so perhaps stitches were in order?

I was seen by three "doctors" whose *combined* ages might have been 30, who managed to keep from smirking at me when I suggested stitches. Instead the "sister" (nurse) came in and bandaged it up into, well, a giant tampon:


Using a box grater

I was making a butternut squash gratin yesterday, which involved grating a LOT of squash. I set about it as I always do, with my trusty box grater:

After a while, it ocurred to me it would be better if I could put a little more pressure on the squash pieces, and after staring at the setup for a minute I laid the grater down on its side, since it's always easier to press down:

This arrangement turned out to be so efficient (I could press down, now suddenly the handle of the thing was actually useful since it was positioned opposite the tugging force of grating), that it occurred to me this is probably how they are SUPPOSED to be used.

Have I really been operating a box grater incorrectly for 30 years?????


Friday, October 12, 2007

Oh yeah

AND this week I sent off my professor application!! It's a pretty exciting accomplishment for me that I even applied--I waded through all the hours of low self esteem and managed to finish the application and send it in! And today I submitted my first paper for publication for my PhD. We have to publish 3 papers, and I have only 9 months left (eep!!). This feels like a big milestone, since the second paper is half written. I have only 1.5 left to do, rather than 3.


Red single

Here's a bit of the first single I'm spinning from the yarn I dyed on the weekend. I like the color, but this is my first time really trying to spin lace yarn. I had been thinking I would spin it for the Mystery Waters KAL, but several problems became evident:
    Red isn't exactly in the 'water' theme, unless I pretended I meant it to mean that glorious red that clouds (which ARE water) turn during sunset
  • I have 6.5 ounces of roving, and I need 1200m of yarn for the shawl, leading to a tremendous amount of anxiety pervading every minute of spinning. Doesn't make it the 'fun hobby' it's supposed to be...
  • I spin pretty slowly. Especially this thin stuff!

So in the end I ordered some gorgeous yarn from in the 'San Francsico' colors. I lived in SF for 6 years, and I LOVED the fog there, so this has all kinds of warm fuzzies for me! Plus less anxiety, which is always a bonus for this nervous one. And the wonderfully helpful people on the KAL pointed to me to where I can order Addi metal lace knitting needles--can't get them here in Switzerland, which is ironic since they are a German company and I live less than an hour from Germany. Anyhow, I am now dialed into the German yarn store world and am VERY pleased!!!

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It's all about the needles for me. I just cannot knit on wood or bamboo!! Must have the Addi Turbos! I ripped 3 different patterns, including a version of the final one with a hideous garter stitch edging. Lighter than air lace doesn't need an anti-curl edging, I decided. Here it is, the nub of the final scarf. I LOVE it!!!


Sunday, October 07, 2007

Dying roving

I decided to dye some more roving today. I joined the Mystic Waters KAL (although signups are over here) because when you are languishing on one enormous lace shawl, heck, the best thing to do is start another! Ha ha.

Then there is the yarn problem. As I complained yesterday, I just can't find my way around the yarn stores here in Zurich, at least not when it comes to finger/lace weight, or hand painted, or silk, or or or. Then I got the idea to knit it with qiviut, that obscenely expensive fine down of the musk ox. I've gotten over the sticker shock of living in Switzerland and have been known to spend a lot of money without too much pain, but when I realized this shawl would run to $300 for the yarn I actually balked.

The last yarn I spun was actually pretty fine, so I thought maybe I could either just spin it a bit finer (rather, spin it ALL fine rather than some fine and some a bit bigger) or just knit the singles. I really like working with my hand dyed stuff, so I am dying about 7 oz of something (my roving isn't labelled since all I ever buy is Blue Faced Leicester, although I think this is something else that I bought when I first learned to spin and was trying some stuff out) with "rust" dye.

The wet wool, waiting:

The hot dyed wool, simmering to absorb all the dye. I can't wait to see how it turns out!!


The bag strap is done!

I can't believe I finally finished the strap!!! This has been almost 3 years (and two attempts) in the making. I sure hope I like the bag when it's done.....


Saturday, October 06, 2007


I splurged and bought this 70% bamboo, 30% cotton yarn yesterday when I was getting the yarn for my ISE5 secret pal. I've been reading about bamboo for years and always wanted to try it. I love the sheen and the stitch definition (although much beyond the gage swatch and you start to see how uneven my stitches are...), so I might whip up a little cabled something. Nevermind about the lint--it was in the bag with the lighter-than-air angora yarn!

Today I'm writing the "letter of application" for a tenure track professor position. I'm crapping myself with fear just at the idea of applying, and keep talking myself out of it and then back into it. Can't hurt to apply! And I already did the hard work of writing a research plan and teaching philosophy statement. I need to send the package in on Wed so I have to get things done this weekend. But I find it hard to work on this kind of thing for longer than about 10 minutes at a time. Guess I'll have a really clean toilet and sink by the end of the weekend....


$750 sunglasses

Ever wonder what a 900CHF ($750) pair of sunglasses looks like?

Nope, me neither. Until I left the glasses shop on Thursday and realized how much I had just spent on these:

Now, that did involve an extra charge for having to replace the lenses. The original sunnies were in normal sunglass frames, but with my nearly-blind prescription, even the small curve for the flattest-I-could-find frames was still enough to cause distortion in the left eye. You know, the kind that gives you and instant throw-up headache. They let me return the frames for 100% refund, the the lenses I got only 50% back. But I'd already decided I really wanted prescription sunnies now that I can't wear contacts anymore (and I'm tired of just complaining about it all--time to ACT), so we thought maybe I could just get regular glasses and put dark lenses in them. Not as good eye coverage, but better than nothing (and far better than the grandpa over-glasses look I was sporting). Somehow, when all was said and done, I wound up paying 891 CHF for these. Ouch!


Scarf started!!

I found some yarn for my spoilee's scarf!! The yarn selection is pretty disappointing to me over here in Switzerland, but I think I'm used to being spoiled a bit with big stores and a lot of selection. I decided I wanted to knit something lighter, so I wanted a very fine yarn, but I couldn't find any at all lighter than sport weight. Very strange. They also arrange the yarn here by color rather than yarn composition. I know that's great for the color folks, but I tend to be more of a fiber person--I want to go around touching different yarn blends until I find the one that's the right feel and weight, and then pick the color. Here I am drawn to the burgandy box (I'm obsessed with that color), and then I find a yarn I really like, but when I go to find it in another color, I can't seem to dig it out. Grr. Enough ranting.

I decided to just go with something lightish and fluffy and knit it on freakishly large needles. Here's is a whiteout (too much flash) shot of the yarn, which really captures the color and the halo-y aspect of it!

And here is the first half-repeat of the pattern I'm trying out: "Japanese Feather" from Barbara Walker's 2nd treasury. It's hard to see the wavy edges since I didn't knit much yet, but it's so light it practically floats! I'm knitting it on that size 15 (10mm) needle, but I slipped it onto another one just for the photo. I'm finding it hard to knit on bamboo--I normally knit everything on Addi Turbos (that long skinny thing is the only pair of straight needles I own)... Ironically, living in Switzerland, less than an hour from Germany, I am unable to find a store selling Addi Turbos. Which are german. I also can't find anyone selling the german Halflinger slippers I am addicted to.

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Friday, October 05, 2007

Bag continues

I'm almost done with the strap of the bag!! It's supposed to be 74". Conveniently I am 69" tall so I don't have to keep hauling out my tape measure. It's as long as me, thanks to a week travelling around Swtizerland with my folks.

And I found some cool fabric for lining it--linen, which will wear like iron and be strong enough to keep the bag from stretching out. I'm thinking about constructing a semi-solid shaper thing so the bag isn't always collapsed in a heap. Not sure about that part yet...