Sunday, January 27, 2008

There was frenzied excitement.

I've got a lot of new things on the needles. I'm working on a brioche in-the-round neck gaiter. Brioche stitch is my new obsession--it's so squishy!!! I can't really understand why EZ said it couldn't be done in the round, and have lingering doubts that I'm not really doing brioche because doing it in the round seemed obvious. Oh well, it looks like brioche, and it's squishy like brioche, so I don't really care. I'm knitting this with 5 (five!) strands of Jaggerspun Zephyr because I am on a stash busting mission. I'm already panicking about how I'm going to get all my crap back to the US when I repatriate (?), so i'm furiously converting my yarn into stuff which I'll also be bringing home. I'm clearly not solving the problem, but somehow I feel more justified in shipping clothes than yarn. I'm planning to add a second color, but I have more burgandy yarn than the second color, so I'm doing the edges in all burgandy.

I'm also working on the infamous bearded cap. I almost died when I first saw that so I'm making up a pattern as I knit. Also knit from stash Zephyr, 3 strands in this case. (I don't know what the splotch in the picture is, either.)

And I've started another sweater. My friend Steve moved to a far colder climate, so I immediately jumped on the chance to foist some knitwear on him. He agreed I could make a sweater. This project is a spinning stash buster--I had a ton of wool which I haven't been spinning because I've become the cliched 30-something computer-job-holder with a bad back. I haven't figured out how to spin while lying down on my couch (this is how I knit and compute at home). I have some delicious Evilla pre-yarn for a shawl, and when I was reading about how to work with preyarn I found some sites about knitting a sweater with Icelandic unspun. Now, normally people are buying "cakes" of this stuff which has been carded into pencil roving and nicely wound up in a stack, but why not just knit right from the roving bag?!?!? I was literally shaking I was so excited.

My friend wanted a dark green sweater, so I ordered some dye and spent the week impatiently waiting. The dye arrived on Thursday night. There was frenzied excitement. Mistakes were made. I haven't really got the hang of dying yet, and I'm always surprised by the finished product. Really surprised. I don't seem to understand how the colors mix, and what direction they go in if they are darker or lighter than I intended. In this case, I mixed blue and yellow and a bit of black, and came out with roving that was mostly blue, but very uneven, with spots of yellow and spots of black. Not a green to be found. Hmm. The one thing he didn't want was blue. I happen to love the shades that resulted (can't seem to get a decent photo yet) so I'll just use that blue for something for me--I think the variations are going to look awesome when knitting up. Anyhow, I'm now knitting out of my brown roving and will either leave it as is, or try to overdye it when it's done. I'm experimenting with green food coloring on my swatch right now.

This roving is to die for. It's unbelievably soft, and I have refused to spin anything else for some time--I tried other wools, including merino, and also alpaca. But I always come back to this Blue Faced Leicester. I also love the natural brown, which is slightly variegated. I just LURVE it! And it turns out that when you knit with the roving, you get to pet the wool even more than when you spin it. I'm in heaven. I am a bit worried that it will pill like a demon after it's knit up--hoping washing and blocking will lock the fibers in a bit. Otherwise I'll have to buy him a sweater shaver thing....

And, in case you were wondering? No, I don't really have a life! Ha ha. I spend all my spare time reading and knitting. I don't really socialize, and I'm single (and thousands of miles from my family) so my family obligations are non-existent.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sailing ships

"Sail"ing has come full circle. I am so excited about this cargo ship with a ginormous kite that I can hardly stand it. There is so much potential for cool things like this in our progress towards lower carbon footprint lifestyles.

Don't laugh at the kite idea--I taught a meteorology lab class last summer that involved a kite--I hadn't flown one since I was a child, and I have to admit the parafoil kite we got actually frightened me. Those things pull hard and I was worried I'd be lifted off the ground! That fear comes from having worked atop Mount Washington, home of the world record wind speed (231 mph). My own "personal best" while working there was a mere 140 mph. But that's windy enough. I can't count how many times I was bodily picked up and thrown several feet by the wind, or hit on the head with giant chunks of ice (giant, like a foot across) flying through the air. The worst was being up on the top of the tower in sustained 100mph winds--one tiny slip up there and a person would be thrown hundreds of feet and likely land on rocks. That job was fun (someone actually paid me to sit around and watch the clouds), but I don't miss the danger!!! There has got to be a middle ground between the mind-numbing boredom of sitting at a computer all day and being hurled from mountaintops by gusts of wind.


Saturday, January 19, 2008


Oh yes, after nearly 5 years of owning the yarn, 2 years of knitting with it, and the second sweater design, I am finally done with my dressup sweater!!! Thanks to Ali for the motivation!!!

And I've reached a new low in FO photography! Well, you get the idea--it fits! It's finished! Someday when I can round up a friend I'll try to get some better shots....

The toggles are reindeer antler which I bought in Svalbard this summer. Reindeer, like regular deer, shed their antlers each year, so don't go thinking bad thoughts about them toggles!

Here is a detail shot of the sleeve. I'm very happy with how these cables came out! They remind me of my wrist tattoo and I also realized they are a bit of a metaphor for how I normally tell stories:

I do still need to block it. I'm not a good blocker--I don't really know how to do it, nor do I have the space (250 square foot apartment). I'm wearing it to church tomorrow and I'll try to figure something out for blocking it. Suggestions very welcome!!


Wednesday, January 09, 2008


Oh, I am totally inspired to finish my "church" sweater. I really want to wear it to church at least ONCE, which means I have to finish it this winter. That yarn has been on the needles well over 2 years in 2 different sweaters. I have the body, steek, button bands, and half the first sleeve done. It's really hard to take a photo of one's own arm!

I need to:

  • finish the first sleeve
  • knit the second sleeve
  • attach the sleeves
  • extend the shoulder bindoff since I left too many live stitches
  • pick up and knit the collar
  • neaten up the steek (mostly just trim the yarn ends)
  • merge the extra ribbing I had to add to the body after I unravelled more steek stitches than I had planned on (that was on purpose--when I cut the steek, I realized I had knit the sweater a bit small and the reshaping was easier when I removed a poorly-thought-out design element around the steek stitches)
  • put it on and be really proud!

Most of these are 1 sitting tasks except for the sleeves, which I guess are about 4 evenings total. Totally doable!


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

I'm almost speechlees

But I'm never really entirely without something to say...

I found these chocolates last week. Katzenzuengli translates to cat tongues, although the "li" on the end actually forms a diminutive, making it cat tonguey-wungies (you know, like bunny-wunny or something equally embarrassing). Given the picture of the adorable cuddly kittens, I would have expected the diminutive on cat. This just adds to the bizarre mystique these have. [And even better, they were 50% off!]

And because I'm spoiled, I got a new ipod nano this week. I couldn't believe the packaging--way to go Apple!! The headphones I bought with it came in 5 times as much packaging. Having read Garbage Land by Elizabeth Royte (and queued and coveting Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things), I'm even more aware of unnecessary (not to mention annoying) packaging. [Whoa, what's going on with my thumb. Does it look as bizarre to everyone else as it suddenly does to me???]

And the best buy of my trip to London (pictures coming soon--my Matlab script that I use to generate my travel pages is currently unusable as my Matlab installation (along with all my other X11 software) broke when I upgraded to OS10.5, which was necessary so I could play with my ipod right away.)