Saturday, December 13, 2008

dye madness

I'm beginning to think I bit off more than I could chew by deciding to dye up loads of this handspun in order to have enough for a sweater. After my initial success producing a tiny skein of beautiful blue, I dyed two more in huge roasting pans on the stove, and nearly died from vinegar inhalation. Well, was made uncomfortable ha. Anyway, they turned out very light blue, even though I'm sure I multiplied the numbers correctly, and used an insane amount of food colouring. So I did it again with more. Still light blue. In the fluorescent light of my basement it looked nearly periwinkle and I despaired for a moment. Not that there is anything wrong with periwinkle, but I just knit my Liesl in light blue that has a slight periwinkle air. Luckily, in other light the yarn doesn't look periwinkle, but it's still much lighter than the tiny skein of wonderfulness that I had my heart set on.

So. I let the two skeins sit for a few days while I got used to the sight of them, decided they weren't so bad after all, and set about dyeing the fourth. Over the course of this dyeing, I ran out of blue food colouring, but only after putting enough in - I thought. Anyway, this one turned out an entirely different colour from the last two. I know, dye lots etc.... but the first two that I dyed each in a differnt pot, albeit simultaneously, turned out quite similar. Anyway. I am not sure what I'll do now. I still have a fourth skein to dye, and possibly I'll overdye the rest. I've given up the plan of getting all this done before I move to London, so this yarn may hibernate.

I'm about to get busy entertaining my favourite person who is landing around 4 pm today, so no more yarn griping. Wooooo!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Yarn and guilt

The yarn and the guilt are completely disconnected. First, yarn:

food colouring dye

I made this teeny tiny skein! It's cute, and I'm so excited. Same story as before: I did not spin this lovely handspun, but I dyed it. This is my fourth attempt at finding a good colour for a sweater, and I think this one wins. The picture is unfortunately a bit deceitful: the yarn is darker than this and has very subtle overtones of purple. More like hints. I'm pleased. Dyeing is fun and exciting, although I do think I need to invest in some citric acid because I'm sure breathing in all that vinegar can't be good for me, plus I hate the smell.

food colour dye, blue attempt 4

This time I used the stove rather than the microwave, and I added salt to the dye mixture because I read somewhere that might help. It's not exactly clear if it did or not, but whatever. It didn't hurt, I don't think. I used blue and red food colouring, and I dyed it twice in quick succession. The second time the dye refused to exhaust, so I probably didn't need as much blue that time around. This will make it a bit of a challenge to replicate this beauty for a whole sweater's worth of yarn, but I am plotting and strategizing. All will be well, or at least interesting. I'll start trying tomorrow, methinks.

In other news, I am incapable of spending money without feeling guilty about it, unless it is something mind-bogglingly necessary or useful like groceries. This could be a useful trait if it meant I spent less money; perhaps it does, but it's not clear. Right now I am finding it an awful hindrance to Christmas shopping. I don't need to do much Christmas shopping, but I need to do some, and worrying incessantly about my purchases is not helping. Sigh. Normally I consider "impulse purchases" as being the result of only one or two forays into the shop to examine said item before whipping out the credit card, and maybe I should be happy about this. Occasionally I take even less time, and that's when I really stress out about what I have already paid for. Especially when it is shipping from the states and I'm worried that it won't get here in time but not worried enough to pay more for faster shipping, obviously.

And in other guilt news, I've officially quit chocolate until Dec 13th. That doesn't sound like a very long time, and to be fair I've probably gone without chocolate for longer than that before, but I have been indulging far more than is necessary or desirable lately, and I feel like a total glutton. Wow, I'm uptight. Anyway, it is decided. No chocolate until my festive season starts in earnest when my boyfriend arrives. I'm not sure why I feel the need to impose restrictions on myself in a slightly ridiculous fashion, or post publicly about it, but there it is. Muse muse muse.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

December!

It's December. Which means NaNoWriMo is over.

Photobucket Tada! My novel, tentatively titled Night Shift, is finished, and it is decidedly mediocre. Woo! I plan on going back to do some editing so that I don't feel too embarassed about showing a few people - I promised this story to my cousin, who also attempted NaNoWriMo this year. But for now it feels good not to have to look at it for a bit. Snrk. My vampires are not sparkly vampires. Anyway. That is one more item to cross off my 101 in 1001 list. (Notice how I didn't say "Write a publishable Novel.")

food colouring dye experiment

In other news, I've been doing some experiments dyeing with food colouring. Here are about 2.5 metres each of my initial attempt. The bright cyan one is straight blue food colouring, the light green is green + blue, and the periwinkle/grayish blue is blue food colouring with some cherry instant drink mix added. I like that one the best, although I totally didn't expect it to look more gray. In some light it even looks a little greenish, but I think that's from the yarn's natural colour showing through.

handspun food colouring

Winter means crappy indoor photos, unfortunately. Sigh.

I'm going to try dyeing some more tomorrow maybe, and when this is all over I'll have enough to make something with lots of greenish blue stripes! What I'm aiming for is a dark/bright blue. I'll see what I can manage. Definitely want to get this yarn dyed before I move to London, so I can bring the yarn along and work on Basic Black, which will hopefully absorb my knitting urges enough that I won't be tempted to buy lots of yarn instead of paying rent. Woo!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

dallying

Photobucket
A dusting of snow that collects in dried leaves and looks a little like fake snow spray / powder used in Christmas displays. We haven't had much snow here yet, although when I was in London (ON unfortunately) for a few days I got my fair share of it. Fluffy flakes that became wet and soggy and slushy on the ground. (by the way, I have a place to live wooo!) I had never been to London, nor had I really shopped for apartments. Well, I guess I have if you include summer in Exeter - was that shopping? Kind of. Anyway, it was an interesting few days full of puppies and slush and basements. I'm kind of excited to move there in January for another brief taste of independence, or at least a change of scene.

IMG_2008

A while back I decided I had been neglecting the camera so I went out in search of interesting photos in the desolate landscape of suburbia in November. Right. Not sure I succeeded, but I reminded myself that there can still be interesting and maybe even pretty things in bleak November.

Photobucket
And of course the ubiquitous birds on wires.

I got lots of knitting done on the 6.5 hour ride to and from London: I'm nearly finished the body section of Tempting II. No pictures yet, but it's just a boring 1x1 rib tube in pretty teal. More on that to follow. I've also baked some delicious things that while tasty were not particularly photogenic. Reading Smitten Kitchen has really made me afraid of posting about baking ever again! Nah, mostly it has me copying millions of delicious-looking recipes that I'm sure won't be nearly as pretty once I substitute vegetable oil. But that won't stop me.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Twist collective winter issue, at last!

Gah! I am about 5k behind on my NaNoWriMo novel, and blogging just makes me feel like I'm misdirecting my verbiage. Bad, bad.

But...

I have been impatiently waiting for the winter issue of Twist Collective, ever since I heard a rumour that it would be arriving Nov 1. This was just a rumour; anyway, it was delayed for very good reasons, but I have still been impatiently checking the website, even though I have my next couple of projects lined up already and I don't need to do any more pattern lusting. Or do I?

What stands out for me this issue are coats and hoodies. Coats coats coats. I'm attracted to the idea of knit coats, but I'm still undecided as to how practical they would be for me. Perhaps in the fall rather than the winter. I love Sylvi, though. The flowers and vines on the back stun me. If I find myself with a large amount of big yarn, perhaps I'll make it, maybe in time for next fall.

Heroine also really appeals to me, though I don't know if I could stand felting a coat - it would have to be ridiculously massively huge before hand, I would think. In reality, I think the buttons shown make the coat, plus the model's steampunk-esque binoculars. I probably won't make this, in all honesty, but it is cute!

On the hoodie side, while I love looking at designs for knit hoodies (and I have had Corona by Canary Sanctuary queued for a while), I am not always sure I'd wear a knit hoodie. I have plenty of hoodies, but I don't usually wear the hoods, except when weather and my other layers demand. More often than not I'm inclined to think that these gorgeous knit ones would look as good or better without the hoods, even. But Twist may have converted me, because I can definitely picture myself knitting and wearing some of these, hoods and all.

Vivian blows my mind. I am an unapologetic devotee of Ysolda, and I always look forward to seeing what she has come up with, but wheeee. How incredibly cable-y. I love the look of complicated cables. At some point soon I want to step-up my cable experience by making something with lots and lots of cables, and I think Vivian is now on my list. I love how it looks very fitted and shaped to the model so that it doesn't matter if the cables are stiff or not; my worry would be about whether I could make it look quite so amazing on me. This goes in my queue for the hopefully near future.

Gythafalls into the category of drapey, tunic-y, slightly hippy, whimsical sweaters that I adore the look of and the thought of... but again, not sure if I'd be able to pull it off myself. Eeesh. I think I need to suck it up and make myself a tunic-y sweater and be done with it, because I'm clearly too uptight. Anyway. Gytha is cute and looks comfy, and perhaps if I get over some of my hang-ups and can afford yarn I'll make it some day! It's not at the top of my list, though.

With my idealistic love of cloche-type hats, it's weird that I don't have any. maybe not all that weird since I'm a miser who doesn't like to spend money on style-over-substance fashion. But I have been eyeing MK Carroll's Matilda and Tillie hats for a while. Twist's cloche offering Dietrich is very cute. It goes on the list to sit along with Matilda / Tillie for a while to simmer while I decide which to jump into and go with, likely as soon as it gets too cold...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Startitis, of a kind

I don't usually get the typical knitting startitis. Certainly, I compulsively queue projects, most of which I will never make: I need to get better at using the "favourites" feature in ravelry instead of just queuing everything I like the look of whether I'll make it or not. In any case, while I have "queue-itis" (eugh at vowels), I don't generally find myself compulsively casting on for lots of projects in quick succession. This is because I'm so anal about yarn purchasing these days that I spend ages and ages deliberating about what yarn to buy, or whether or not to even buy yarn at all... So far I'm keeping my yarn purchasing under control, which I'm happy about.

Anyway. A different sort of starting problem plagues me. It seems like every project I start, no matter how simple, starts with a stupid mistake. For example, I nearly always use long-tail cast-on, and even though I know I should be more careful with leaving a long-enough tail, I nearly always have to restart my cast-on because I've run out of yarn. Sometimes more than once. But I'm too excited to be careful and methodical! It's stupid.

When I make it past the cast-on, there's usually something else that goes wrong almost immediately. With Odessa, I mobiused the damn thing. Then I realized I hadn't cast on enough stitches. With Tempting II, I've just started, and it turns out I screwed up the 1X1 rib in the first row. Rather than rip it all out, or just ignore it and let it work itself out (both of which I sometimes do), I decided to go about manually unknitting each stitch and re-positioning it as knit or purl, then knitting or purling the stitch again to be caught up to the second row.

Once I'd realized that it was only about 20 stitches into the round that I'd purled twice, thereby throwing off the entire rest of the row, I didn't think to only undo and fix those twenty stitchs to realign the rib. No, it was only about halfway through the row of fixing that I realized that would have been smarter and faster. Blah.

As I stands, I still haven't finished the fixing row. The knitting is sitting in my living room sulking. At this rate it would have been faster to rip it all out, but if I do that I'm sure to screw up the cast-on. Repeat cycle.

Sigh. I think I sabotage myself and my knitting a little sometimes. I'll get there eventually.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

What am I doing lately?

-Congratulating the USA for not electing another Republican.
-Breathing a sigh of relief that Sarah Palin is not VP
-Fretting a little about the fact that Sarah Palin is not going to go away and probably will turn up again next time around. So scary.
-Volunteering at a library! Super fun and educational
-Working at stupid job, but saving more than I'm spending, so woot.
-Not braiding my hair for a month - this experiment has shown that I am very very lazy. I thought I might figure out more interesting things to do with my hair if I couldn't braid it, but in reality I fall back on buns and ponytails mostly. Oh well.
-Not taking any photos of anything, inexplicably
-Looking for a place to live in London, ON
-Feeling happy that I'm still with my favourite person (albeit long distance) after 2 years. I'll always remember the 5th of November but for slightly less pyromaniacal reasons...
-Writing a novel for NaNoWriMo. (only 6057 words so far, but I'll get there)
-knitting another apple cozy
-waiting for the winter issues of Knotions and Twist Collective

-loving today's knitting-related Questionable Content

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Halloween

Halloween happened! And ever since I've been consuming large amounts of tiny chocolate bars and other terrible candy in a seemingly compulsive fashion. The appeal of tiny chocolate is inexplicable and only seems to occur for me around Halloween. Ah well, we will finish it up soon enough and maybe I'll go for a run tomorrow.

2008 jack-o-lantern

But Halloween is one of my favourite events, commercialized candy peddling aside. I especially like carving pumpkins. Perhaps perversely. In a fit of the absurd, I carved my pumpkin as a pineapple in first year uni. I am inordinately proud of that pumpkin, even if that makes me extra weird. Eh, I don't mind being extra weird. When I was younger, we'd usually take a family trip out to pick pumpkins off huge piles out at a market where we'd also buy lots of apples. This year we only had the one pumpkin, but I had fun carving it.

I went to a party and hung out with lots of hum friends in various states of (geeky) costume. It was pretty great. Only at a hums party will you find Medea, Medusa (me), St Augustine, and various other clergy represented... Heh. I'm graduating next weekend (WOOOOO), and I've been pretty caught up in the relief of finally pulling off my bachelor's degree, but I know I will miss a lot of things about Hums. Geeky costume parties being only one.

Now that I'm not in school, I'm taking the opportunity this November to participate in NaNoWriMo, something I've meant to do for years, but could never justify - there was so much procrastinating for essays to be done instead! My cousin is also writing, so we got together last night to kick off our novels with a bit of competition. It's good fun. We'll see how far I get. I'm not aiming for brilliance, as I'm told this is ill-advised. Mediocrity will suffice for now!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

FO: apple cozy

apple sweater

Apple Cozy from I'm Gonna Purl

I first saw this on I Like Lemons and knew it would fit with my obsessive practical-knitting (which I realize goes awry more often than not), as well as let me use (but not use up, alas) some icky acrylic I've had lying around since the beginning of time.

Icky acrylic is perfect for this sort of thing: it will hold up being bashed around in my backpack, and I don't have to worry about ruining pretty yarn. Plus, this is mostly black so it won't look dingy(er) quickly.

It turned out huge. I may make another one doing fewer increases. This one fits huge apples, which we happen to have some of at the moment, but the next one I'll aim for fitting normal medium apples.

I was a little careless with the increases and decreases: I used 4 needles instead of 5 and got tired of the constant counting I was doing to follow directions written out for 5 needles: "on each needle knit to 1 stitch before end, m1." I pretty much winged it, making sure to increase and decrease where I thought was the right place... so there aren't as pretty seams as the original, but it doesn't show too badly, and I am altogether pleased.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Hello winter!

October snow

I heard we were going to get a lot of snow, and I trudged through some slush last night, but I didn't expect all of it to stick. Wow.

snow, oct 29

Friday, October 24, 2008

FO: Odessa

Odessa

Odessa by Grumperina
It's not really as lumpy as it looks in the photo, I swear! I knit an extra inch or so before decreasing because I like ears that cover my ears. It turned out a little big, but it will keep my forehead/ears warm.

I love love love how the yarn knit up. I'm so excited about it! The handspun isn't the softest yarn, but it's sturdy and a bit textured. Combined with the accidental semi-solid dye job and a simple yet interesting knitting pattern = success!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Encased in knitwear: an October adventure

It is November weather today. I, like many people, don't particularly enjoy the November part of fall with its cold, clammy, blustery rain. I follow the pack and love the crisp, cool, and bright part of fall. You know, before the leaves get brown and sludgy underfoot when they are still lovely yellow, orange, and red.

But no matter. Today the blustery cold drizzle was mitigated somewhat (at least in my mind) by my wearing Gretel, Endpaper Mitts, and Tiger Eye scarf. I did so without shame, despite the hilarious un-matchiness of all these items. If I'd worn my V-neck I'd have been encased in knitwear; it wasn't cold enough for all that, fortunately.

So I was clashy, cozy, and enjoying the bluster despite its Novemberiness. I know, maybe I should learn some new real adjectives instead of making them up.

And what a day to visit a yarn store! (Maybe I should be more conscientious about starting sentences with conjunctions, too.) I went to Yarn Forward and Sew On on my way home today. I'd never been in there before (gasp) because truth be told I'm woefully inexperienced with Ottawa yarn shops, and yarn shops in general. Mmmm yarn on a blustery day. I didn't buy anything because I'm not buying any yarn until I get my interest for October, but I'll definitely go back. It was neat to see and be able to touch all these yarns that I've only ever heard about - Koigu, Hand Maiden, Fleece Artist etc. Exciting.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Life Work Blah

I keep trying to convince myself that my perverse enjoyment of behind-the-scenes work justifies the bad times at my crappy job. Honestly, I'm mostly indifferent to the job, which is a whole other thing, but it has its ups and downs. Lately downs. I think it is because I've been working long shifts in order to get enough hours in this week. I made the mistake of taking the entire Thanksgiving weekend off, and then I worked at the Election on Tuesday for 14 hours.

The election was fun times, really. I've done that work twice before, and this time I was partnered with a jovial and talkative British ex-pat who pretty much entertained me the entire time with random anecdotes. So despite the length of the day, it didn't feel draggy most of the time, and hey - doing my civic duty to help the democratic process! Woot. (Again, my perverse enjoyment of things behind-the-scenes is at play here. Also I like getting paid).

But. Following a 14 hour work day with 6.5 hours of call centre the next day, and another 6.5 hours the day after that was a stupid stupid idea. I'm losing my mind. And the worst bit is, I'm working those same hours tonight, and then 4 hours on Saturday. I need to get better at scheduling myself. Eeesh.

For the first time since my first awful day at this job, yesterday I felt I just couldn't take it. Every task seemed stupider than anything anyone would ever be asked to do. I know that's irrational, but I sometimes think people here get by through comraderie in despair. Oh hey, that's the working world for ya. I guess. Whatever. I seethed on the way home and ranted at night, and went to bed feeling pissed off and unable to contemplate working again. Wow, emo. I'm not going to quit, since I know I'll quit before December anyway, but man - I definitely felt like it yesterday.

Getting paid yesterday didn't help, oddly enough. Instead of feeling proud of the money I'd made by doing stupid things all day, I felt demoralized that the last two weeks could be measured in $341. To be sure, I'm happy to have this money now that I'm sensing a disturbing trend towards consumerism in my desires, but... I'm probably thinking too much about this.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

FO: Koolhaas

I made this ages ago, but never showed it out of paranoia. Not that I honestly expected the recipient to read this blog, but I wanted to be careful.

Now that he has the hat snugly in his possession I'll show it off.

When I jokingly promised not to knit him anything for his birthday he said, "ACTUALLY..." and mentioned he could use a "non-pointy" hat. So he even gave me tacit permission. THAT'S what I like to hear.

koolhaas

The colour is not quite right in the above photo, but the one below is closer.

koolhaas

Koolhaas by Jared Flood
Mission Falls 1824 Wool

Although I made it for a man, I only did 4 repeats of the cable pattern because otherwise it would have been massive. I loved making this. I used Grumperina's tutorial for cables without a needle: super helpful. I may never use a cable needle again, for mini-cables at least. I love everything about this hat. The Mission Falls was so nice and soft to knit with, although I do fear it will pill. Given the recipient lives in balmy Devon, I don't expect the hat will get too much use except when he is visiting me in the Frozen North, so hopefully it will hold up well enough.

I want to make one for me, now!

Monday, October 13, 2008

3 cherry and 2 grape later... Addiction!

cherry and grape

I dyed about 175~ yards of that amazing handspun, and I love the colour! It's hard to tell from the photo, but it's a bit semi-solid, which I like a lot. I was afraid it would turn out bright pink or something. There was no noticeable separation of blue and red from the grape, either. I call this a success!

Once again, I used no-name instant drink mix. Man, this stuff is PUNGENT. I left the yarn to dry overnight and when I stepped into the same room as it this morning I could still smell the intense fruitiness. I left it outside for a while, and it seems to have calmed down, so I don't think I'll pass out while knitting. Woo. Again, much more pleasant than vinegar in my opinion, but it was pretty overpowering.

dyeing handspun

I followed directives from this Knitty article.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Handspun, WHAT?

I recently made a pact with myself that I would not buy yarn until I get my interest for October. I do want to knit a sweater or two in the coming months, and I will need yarn for these projects, but I figured they can wait until November 1. Then, my mom acquired a huge sack of handspun from someone cleaning out their basement, and she gave it to me. Now I'm excited and terrified!

big ol' sack of handspun

It's beautiful stuff. I'm not judge of handspun or anything really, but it's so neat to look at. It's a tad scratchy, but not too bad, and it is all undyed. It immediately piqued my sweater need and my kool-aid dyeing obsession. It is about DK weight, which is fairly convenient, since I've wanted to knit Basic Black for a while, but I think I need to do more dyeing experiments before I commit to a sweater's worth.

handspun!

So I'm looking at small projects to dye for and knit before attempting a sweater. Red? Green? Blue? I bought some cherry and grape flavoured instant drink mix today, so first I'll aim for dark red. It turns out the grocery store I hit has a terrible selection, even of proper Kool-Aid, so I may make a foray into food-colouring sooner than I expected. (I hate vinegar, but hey, I'll deal). I've read some things about colour separation when attempting to dye purple, so we'll see how this goes. I don't mind unevenness.

I'll definitely have enough yarn for more than a sweater, but all this excitement is rendering my careful queuing topsyturvy! (As if I queue carefully. Whatever). I'm thinking I'll make Odessa since I have admired it from afar for ages. No beads, and I'm hoping the handspun will give it an interesting texture that won't overwhelm or be overwhelmed by the spirals. And hoping I can make it cover my ears.

Also, as a graduation gift my grandmother gave me The Knitter's Book of Yarn, which I had ogled while borrowing from the library. I think it will be an excellent resource to have, since I want to keep learning about yarn and fibre, and stop making stupid yarn choice mistakes. Plus, lots of fun patterns. (And plenty I'll never consider making, but you know. Either way).

Sunday, October 05, 2008

My first FO: A retrospective :P and second incarnation

When I learned to knit (several times) in my childhood, it never really occurred to me that I could make things. I couldn't be bothered with patterns, and I didn't care much for useful finished objects. I think I made a garter-stitch doll blanket or two, but that's as functional as it got; the miscellaneous swatches of varigated acrylic yarn still occasionally turn up around the house. I still have several partial skeins of said yarn that I don't know what to do with.

My first real finished object with a specific use was a pair of off-white lightly-felted lopi mittens. The pattern came from a children's story and how-to-knit book my parents got me one Chanuka: Sunny's Mittens by Robin Hansen. I don't remember how old I was, maybe 10 or 11, but I do remember being old enough that the cutesy story didn't entirely charm me. Still, it looked like fun, so I acquired some yarn and some dpns and got to work.

And quickly put the project aside. It must have taken me two years or more to finish the mitts - not that I found it boring, but I didn't have much patience or dedication, I guess. I made my mother do the "hard" parts, like casting on and picking up stitches, and I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to keep track of the beginning of the round. (Stitch markers were a revelation that didn't hit me until much later). When I finally finished them I was exceedingly pleased with myself; this is one early project that I still consider a success. Afterwards I forgot about knitting for a while, and then tried crochet before eventually starting to knit again. (But that's fodder for another pretentiously nostalgic blog post.)

old and new

Once the mittens were finished, it seems like I barely wore them before I outgrew them, but that might be an exaggeration since they're ding, have lost their fuzz, and look well-worn. I kept wearing them, stretching them, when I got bigger for a little while, but eventually the cuffs no longer covered my wrists and they were no longer practical. Not to mention that white mitts get dingy very easily in the city snow.

lopi mittens, 2 generations


Anyway, I still had a whole skein-and-a-bit of that lopi yarn, tucked away in some corner of my closet. I dyed it orange, knit and felted, and the rest is history.

still a bit big

FO: Sunny's Mittens, by Robin Hansen
Yarn: Istex Alafoss Lopi, hand-dyed with koolaid
This time around it was SUPER fast. It took maybe two or three news-watchings to get through these. Upon felting, I think they lost a little colour, but not enough to make me worry, so I'll probably keep them as they are. I felted them by hand in soapy water using a bamboo sushi mat for extra aggression (as per suggestions in Not Your Mama's Felting by Amy Swenson). The mittens did not lose stitch definition, but since they didn't last time either, I wasn't expecting them to. They shrunk down enough to become very dense, though they are still roomy and they cover my wrists. I suspect they could be felted further, but since they shrunk in width more than in length, I don't want to risk making them too small around.

So there it is! Yay, Mittens!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

wip: cantaloupe-ice cream orange mittens

before felting

That bulky lopi yarn I dyed orange with no-name instant drink mix? Tada! Mittens!
It's clearly fall/autumn for real because we turned out heat on today. Winter is coming, and when it arrives I'll have some sprightly orange mittens to remind me of autumn leaves. Or cantaloupe ice-cream. Whatever. I love how the uneven dye job knit up. It is slightly stripy in some places, and a nice mix of pastel and bright spots. I still need to felt/full these so they'll be thick and warm and not giant-sized.

huge mitten

I have been warned that felting may wash out the dye, so I'm spending some time staring at the prettiness for now, and if it washes out I'll dye them again afterwards, and maybe end up with some hazard orange instead of cantaloupe ice cream. Fun possibilities! Stay tuned for the epic conclusion of this adventure...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

zipping through?

When I made my 101 in 1001 list a few weeks ago, I immediately had second thoughts about several list items. Too easy, too hard to quantify... So far I am leaving it as is, but since I'm an unorthodox list maker, I'll allow myself the freedom to change it to a certain extent as I go.

I've completed a few in the last few days, which makes me think that they are too easy, or perhaps I'm just tackling the easy ones first.

8. Reorganize my book shelves so that all my books fit without spilling onto the floor. I just needed to do it. Not hard, just easy to avoid. (Now I need to find someplace to put all the non-book items I removed in order to fit the books in.) Yawn.

13. Read Emma, by Jane Austen, all the way to the end.

Until yesterday, Emma was the only one of Jane Austen's complete novels that I had not read. I had tried on several occasions and inexplicably failed. The first time was in grade 8. It was my first Austen attempt, which proceeded to turn me off the whole experience for a few years. I was a big reader then, but I think I couldn't get into the language at that stage. I don't know exactly what made me stop. The second time was a few years later, I believe after I'd read a few other Austen books. Again, not sure why I stopped.

After finishing it last night, I can't think what my problem was those other times. It is a delightful book. (Yes, I just said "delightful.") It easily ranks up near my favourite Austens, though to be fair I love them all. Other than Mansfield Park. That one bugs me.

Anyway, this time around I adored Emma. It's a brilliant example of Jane Austen's social comedy, which I love far more than the romantic aspects. All the petty hang-ups and ridiculous behaviour that seem so important at the beginning become far less important and all-encompassing towards the end. I recognize that reading from my perspective I'm bound to find this obsession with manners a little funny; we don't care about these things in quite so much detail these days, it seems to me. But even so, the way Austen picks at the ridiculousness of human relationships is biting and hilarius. Ah. Also, Miss Bates? That kind of caricature seems perfect.

Oh, and I'm this much closer to achieving #101. (Get a masters degree). I got into a masters program yesterday, accepted the offer, and must now start freaking out about finding a place to live in London. (Ontario. Unfortunately not UK this time).

Thursday, September 25, 2008

FO: Liesl

Liesl

Pattern: Liesl by Ysolda, at long last.
Yarn: Zara Plus

I intended to make this with long sleeves, but I ran out of yarn at about elbow-length.

yarn

Seriously. That's what I had left after weaving in ends and trimming. I could have sworn I bought extra, but nevermind. The sleeves gained some length with blocking, and ultimately I'm happy with it. I have this ridiculous paranoia about things growing, and even though I blocked my swatch this time around I still feared... And the sweater did get longer, but I managed to scrunch it up again, so now it is a perfect length.

cardigan,liesl

I like it. The neck isn't as wide as I'd expected but I can always leave a button or two undone. On ravelry, most people seem to prefer only buttoning this sweater at the top, like Ysolda's original, so I worried a little about my decision to button it all the way down before seeing what it looked like on other people. I think this way does work better for me.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

some pictures from the last few days

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IMG_1779

I finally finished reading Don Quixote. Having started it in class, I always intended to finish it, but didn't have time during the time I was supposed to... But I finished it eventually, so it counts, right? I loved it. It is pure slapstick with an underlying current of intelligent satire. The first part is better than the second in my opinion; the second relies too much on Sancho Panza spewing inappropriate proverbs than anything else, still it is all enjoyable.

I have two jobs!

Oy. I just got home from my first day at work, and I'm beat. It was an 8 hour day, and after just one I'm convinced that I'll never be able to work full time at anything. Hahaha. Darn. University's random scheduling and 16 hour weeks has got me spoiled. Back in high school I easily stayed at school for 12 hours straight some days because I was an overstimulated overachieving extra-curricular kind of gal. Okay, not so much on the overachieving, but I had before and afterschool activities on various days. And I lugged my textbooks around when I didn't need to, and I played the saxophone. I still claim to play the sax but these days I don't take it any place. Note to self: actually get the sax out and play. It's on your 101 in 1001 list!

Eh. I'm sure I'll get used to working in the next little while, and it won't always be 8 hour shifts. It's a relief to know this sort of thing is short term and I'm not tied to it for the rest of my life.

Also, right after I went to training for this job I found out I got another (very temporary) job. It never rains but it pours hyukhyuk? The two don't conflict so I can do both, and one only lasts a day and pays a lot better. But hey. Suddenly I have a busy life! Crazy times.

No photos, no knitting... I've actually been taking photos and knitting and baking and crafting quite a bit but this sudden employment threw everything out of whack so I have nothing uploaded. Liesl will be finished within a week - she has a second sleeve, but I'm still not sure if I'll run out of yarn, so I may need to rip back the first one, which isn't even full length. I got the yarn at a warehouse sale, so I don't expect to be able to find any more of it, and honestly I'll be satisfied with a 3/4 length Liesl even though I was intending to make full sleeves. But we shall see. DUNH DUNH DUNH.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

#1 - get a temporary job

As of yesterday, I have a job. I wrote up my 101 in 1001 list in no particular order, so I'm a little amused that the first item I've completed is actually #1 on the list. I'm also bemused and conflicted about this whole job thing, because the moment I lowered my standards I got a job. Ouch. We shall see if this job is positive in any way, other than that it pays and is situated down the street from a yarn shop. Ha. Low expectations, woo.

Despite my reluctant participation in the capitalist system (snort), I've found myself obsessing over money and finding a job lately. I think part of this comes from finishing school and finding out for sure that my degree in itself isn't helping me towards legitimate employment. I'm a bit embarassed. Another part of this is that I've started to want expensive things. (And inexpensive things). This isn't solely a ridiculous desire to participate in conspicuous consumption, since the expensive things I want are mostly related to moving to England or at least visiting, but I am finding a disturbing trend in my thoughts towards material goods. Ha, how pretentious. I'm not as much of a hippie snob as I sound by that statement. Yes, I want Things. What have I become? Hopefully I can use my shopper's-guilt to the advantage of my bank account and save more than I spend.

In other news, Eoin Colfer is writing a 6th Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy book. I am slightly terrified at this prospect because Douglas Adams' original trilogy in five parts has pretty much shaped how I see the world. (No, really.) I've heard good things about Eoin Colfer, though I haven't read any of his books yet; maybe he's brilliant and it will all turn out well, but I can't help being nervous that it will all end badly. I guess all this worry is silly - I know I'll read the book and try to forget it if it's awful. A different addition doesn't necessarily reflect on the whole thing, and the original books will always be my favourites.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

shame and needles

Tomorrow I have a job interview. I thought I'd never get that far, so I should be happy and excited, but I'm mostly a little ashamed. Whatever, I'll go and it will be a good experience whatever happens - I've never had a face-to-face interview because I'm apparently incompetent at job-finding. Anyway, I lowered my standards and suddenly I have an interview! What does THAT say about me? Could this end with me employed at last? Ha. We shall see.

The interview is relatively near a yarn store, so I'm planning to pick up some DPNS for Liesl afterwards. Hopefully it will go well and I won't feel depressed and tempted to splurge on lovely yarn goodness... / I won't be so joyful that I'll be tempted to reward myself with expensive yarn purchases. Either way. I don't need to buy any yarn right now because I have lots in my queue that I have yarn for. I WANT to buy, though. :P That's probably pretty typical. I'm probably a little too obsessed with requiring self-discipline of myself. If that makes any sense.

Been feeling particularly crafty of late, and I've been experimenting with combining some crafts I enjoy: polymer clay and decoupage. I dug the sculpey out recently after years of neglect, and luckily most of it is still usable.The combination arose entirely from spatial placement of my craft materials. The polymer clay lives in an old cookie tin on a shelf next to a stack of old Cooking Light magazines. I love the colours in magazine ad photos, and I've always liked combining them through collage; I don't feel guilty slashing and chopping apart ads like I would cannibalizing a National Geographic. So far I've made a few disastrous pendants with polymer clay as a base, but with each mishap I think I'm getting closer to something workable. Often I'm not so persistent, hehe. Anyway, I'm having fun. Photos to follow eventually. I need to acquire some kind of sealant/varnish/terrible spray.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

More body dilemmas

Musing on two sweaters I suddenly want to make: February Lady Sweater, and Snow White.

Problems, as I see them: FLS is loose and not fitted. I'm not beanpole skinny, and I fear that this shape would make me look bulky. Snow White is certainly fitted (possibly too much so?), but what worries me is the square-ish neckline. Somewhere I picked up the idea that I can't wear square necklines. I can't remember why. Maybe it has something to do with my face shape, or my broad shoulders.

The fact that I can't remember the reasoning and yet cling to the directive probably points to the total irrationality of some of my fashion hangups. I'm a little obsessed with the idea that everything I knit must have waist shaping, although why is not exactly clear. I think I need to take a leap into the untried and see what happens - I want to reject preconceived and perpetuated media/cultural ideas of proper body shape and emphasis and just do what I want.

And yet, I know I'll be very disappointed and discouraged if I make a sweater that turns out to be entirely unsuitable. So I stay safe, even if I shouldn't.

In less hypothetical news, Liesl is chugging along nicely. I've finished the body section, and once I acquire 7mm dpns I'll do the sleeves. Next task: find perfect buttons.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Because I'm a critic, just like everyone else

vine
Fall is definitely here. It's a beautiful bright, cool day, but not cold. I caught this vine in the backyard, already turning red.

Speaking of fall... It seems to me the Fall issue of Knitty is full of the crazy. I like a lot of it for its quirkiness, but that doesn't mean I'll make it. But maybe I will.

Versatility is brilliant in theory. I'm tempted to try it, maybe without the bobbles. The more I look at it the more I'm fascinated.

I've never been too keen on knitting huge things like blankets. OpArt is probably the first baby blanket pattern I've seen that I actually want to make. I will keep this in mind.

All the socks in this issue look fun, but especially Garden Gate. What is it with me and colourwork socks? I find myself so drawn to them, but at the same time convinced that attempting it would end horribly. I need more colourwork practice first, anyway.

Slither cracks me up, but I very much doubt I'll make it. Waves of Grain is beautiful. Kinetic would be dignified and subdued as a scarf

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Brrr

IMG_1652

Fall blew in this week after the sunniest late August and early September. I still have my window open because I like the fresh air and the cool breeze, but it is getting chilly. I love summer, although I get impatient with muggy humidity and heavy air. I also love fall; there's something comforting about being able to sleep with blankets again.

IMG_1680
Last week I saw rosehips so big and red that they looked like cherries.

In the summer I exist barefoot indoors and out as much as possible, but the slight chill makes me want to knit and wear socks. It may yet warm up again, but this way there will be no more sweat and sunscreen in the knitting.

Monday, September 08, 2008

wip

2008,knitting,cardigan,liesl

The garbled mess above is Liesl. I've been looking forward to making this for a while, but upon starting I immediately messed up, ripped back, and messed up again. Every time I start a new project I forget how traumatic it is - I generally jump right in and make loads of mistakes and have to start over. All my fault, of course, because I can't count. Sigh. Now I'm on track, I think. *crosses fingers*

Sunday, September 07, 2008

101 in 1001

I'm jumping on the goal-setting bandwagon. A while back I decided that New Year's Resolutions were silly, and that it was more interesting to make resolutions that apply right away whatever the time of year was. I then resolved to turn off the shower while I washed my hair to conserve water. Needless to say, after the first few days I started to fail. Despite that, I still think that resolutions or goals or whatever should be set at any time, to be accomplished at any time.

I've decided to try 101 things in 1001 days. I've seen this around the internet, and it looked like a neat idea. For a laugh. For some self-improvement, maybe. Because 1001 days is long enough to actually get some of these things accomplished, but it is short enough that I can't continuously procrastinate like I might if the end date were my death. We'll see how far I get. I know some of my tasks aren't as quantifiable as would be useful, but I'll be satisfied if by the end I generally feel I've made progress on those things. Many of these things may show themselves to be impossible or undesirable in the future, but that's life. In no particular order, then, here is my list:

Started September 6, 2008
Finishes June 4, 2011

italics = in progress
bold = completed

1. Get a temporary job
2. Write a novel
3. Learn (and use) 150 new words [51/150]
4. Knit a lace shawl (Ishbel, finished Feb. 2010)
5. Knit a cabled sweater (Vivian, finished Dec 2009 / January 2010)
6. Perform a random act of kindness
7. Organize my old notes, schoolwork etc and consolidate it into one box
8. Reorganize my book shelves so that all my books fit without spilling onto the floor completed Sept 22, 2008
9. Steek something
10. Sew a casual dress that flatters my shape
11. Acquire a decent fountain pen
12. Knit knee-high socks (Delicious Socks?)
13. Read Emma, by Jane Austen, all the way to the end
14. Paint something with watercolours
15. Make and fill an art journal
16. (Private)
17. Handpaint some yarn April 2010
18. Take a road trip
19. Reconstruct a man’s shirt into a blouse
20. Launch new webcomic
21. Get prints made of my favourite digital photos
22. Read the Iliad and the Odyssey in their entirety, back to back
23. Paint on a canvas
24. Send something to PostSecret
25. Sew a skirt from scratch, May 2010
26. Knit something for a baby
27. Read Ulysses (cliché, I know)
28. Create embroidery art
29. Read (and understand) a novel in French
30. Read at least 10 works of non-fiction [3/10]
31. Write in my paper journal weekly
32. Buy a suit
33. Read Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon, June 2009
34. Write 5 short stories [0/5]
35. Earn $5500 (May 2009)
36. Read something (to be determined) in the original Latin
37. Read King Lear (May 2009)
38. Silkscreen an ironic (or not so ironic) t shirt
39. Teach someone to knit
40. Draw 5 still-lifes
41. Learn to spin
42. Read something by Chinua Achebe (Things Fall Apart, May 2009)
43. Read something by Sartre
44. Write and send 3 letters [3/3]
45. Read The Brothers Karamazov
46. Read a long book out loud to/with someone (Nicholas Nickleby)
47. Get a steady job
48. Get appropriate visa to work abroad in England (May 2010)
49. Move to England semi-permanently
50. Go to Spins and Needles
51. Enough in savings account to yield $50 interest per month
52. Sing to someone
53. Visit Italy (April 2009)
54. Visit the Uffizzi gallery in Florence
55. Make a short film
56. Bake croissants from scratch
57. Knit 10 things for other people. [10/10]
58. Explore Toronto (Sept 09)
59. Bake bread from scratch (no bread machine) Feb 2010
60. Visit Spain
61. Go to the Canadian War Museum (December 2008)
62. Swim in the sea
63. Move away from home (at least temporarily) (London, ON: January 7th 2009)
64. Invest in some comfortable flat black leather boots (not suede)
65. Walk at least 30 minutes, at least 5 times a week
66. Hike in the Lake District
67. Run 5 km
68. Learn how to cook salmon (Sept 09)
69. Learn 5 songs on guitar [1/5]
70. Take a yoga class
71. Have a 24-hour silent fast (similar to first year, except 24 hours as opposed waking hours)
72. Learn to swing dance
73. Hike in Gatineau once a year
74. Go to 3 classical / orchestral / chamber music concerts [3/3] (Evelyn Glennie at NAC, Nov 26, 2008), (Kanata Symphony, 9 May 2009), (Parkdale Orchestra, May 2009)
75. Get a haircut and donate my hair to a charity, 30 May 2009
76. Be social with friends once a month (Sept 08, Oct 08, Nov 08, Dec 08, Jan 09, Feb 09, March 09, April 09, May 09, June 09, July 09, Aug 09, Sept 09, Oct 09, Nov 09, Dec 09, Jan 10, Feb '10, April '10, May '10)
77. Wear a different pair of earrings every day for a month(started Sept 9, finished Oct 9)
78. Attend a knit night (August 2009)
79. Drag out the bike and do whatever maintenance needs doing
80. Bike from my house to downtown
81. Get my colours done (just for a lark)
82. Get a pedicure
83. Go out and buy a few CDs I’ve been meaning to get for ages (definitive selection to be determined)
84. Try some food I have never had before (cuttle-fish ink pasta, Modena 2009)
85. Do 50 crunches in one go
86. Do my hair without braiding it every day for a month
87. Walk from home to Parliament Hill
88. Design a knit item and write up the pattern.
89. Buy new sport sandals
90. Make lemon meringue pie
91. (Private)
92. Cook from 30 new recipes [8/30]
a. Pepper Lime chicken, New Better Homes and Gardens cookbook (13.01.09)
b. Smashed chickpea salad/sandwich: Smitten Kitchen (30.03.09)
c. Kalamata lemon chicken, New Better Homes and Gardens cookbook (31.03.09)
d. Vegetarian Shepherd’s pie (Sept 09)
e. Quiche! (Oct 09)
f. Boeuf Bourguignon (Jan, 2010)
g. Coq au Vin
h. Pizza (March 2010)
93. Try raw food for a week
94. Be vegan (not raw) for a week (Sept/Oct 09)
95. Write a song
96. Learn to play and improvise on 5 new songs for saxophone [0/5]
97. Go to 3 jazz concerts [3/3] (Jazz at grad club, April '09) (Ottawa Jazz Festival, June 2009)
98. See Leonard Cohen in concert
99. See a play. (professional production)
100. Learn to identify the plants in the garden by scientific name
101. Get a masters degree

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Cool or creepy?

IMG_1650

One Japanese beetle on some clover. I didn't know it was a Japanese beetle until I consulted google image search later, but I thought it looked interesting.

A few hundred metres farther on, interesting turned into slightly terrifying.

aaah!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Brownies are a vegetable

Mmmmm

A few years ago, my mom discovered that pureed pumpkin is an excellent substitute for butter/margarine in brownies (and as it turns out, some other baked goods). Ever since, we've made brownies with pumpkin exclusively. We ran out of freezer pumpkin, but we have loads of zucchini and squash from the garden, so the other day I did an experiment (GASP). My mom also used to make zucchini chocolate cake, and I thought - why not zucchini brownies? I ended up using crookneck squash, but I expect it is texturally equivalent to zucchini.

Brownies with squash/zucchini/pumpkin/other
or, "What I did this time"
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups white sugar (less if using sweetened applesauce/peaches etc)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup pureed (lightly cooked) squash
1/4 cup vegetable oil (optional)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp instant coffee powder

Slice squash thinly. Steam or cook with some water in microwave until it begins to get clear and soft. Cool and puree in food processer.

Mix dry ingredients, sifting cocoa and instant coffee if required. Stir in oil and squash, beat in eggs and vanilla. Preheat oven at 350 F. Bake in lightly greased or parchment papered 9" square pan. These took a long time to bake, and I probably checked them too frequently, but I think it ended up being about 40 minutes.

The brownies turned out really moist and chewy. Mmmmm.

In the past I've also used pureed canned peaches, and I expect apple sauce works as well. Sometimes I leave out the extra oil, and it also seems to work.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

FO: Tiger Eye lace scarf

IMG_1635

Pattern: Tiger Eyes lace scarf by Toni M. Maddox

Rambling: I knit the whole thing straight rather than knitting two halves and grafting them together. I knit 31 lace repeats, and it was 58 inches long before blocking. It grew a lot, as expected, and ended up 71 inches long. Stretched out across my basement this seemed excessive, but wrapped around my neck it is perfect.

IMG_1640

I made a typical novice error and screwed up the garter edging a little - I thought I was being clever by working a slipped stitch edging, but I didn't add any stitches, so the garter edging is a little narrower than it is supposed to be. Nothing too disastrous, however; the edge just folds under the lace if provoked. I can deal.

The yarn (random vintage wool) is just slightly scratchier than I prefer to have next to my neck, but I think I'll still wear this. Anyway, it's a fall scarf so I probably won't be wearing it with a tank top like I was today.

Now to Liesl!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

garden frolics

IMG_1626

Green cherry tomatoes in the garden.

I don't actually like eating tomatoes, which I've been told is bad and wrong, but I reserve the right to live how I please. I liked the look of them today in the bright sunlight, though.

I spent some time earlier chasing dragonflies, seeing if I could get any to stand still long enough for a picture. Nope. I love watching them, though. Dragonflies and damselflies (I can never remember the difference in a pinch) strike me as some of the most beautiful insects to watch.

My lace scarf is finally finished and blocking. I'm happy with how it turned out, though I fear it may be a little itchy. Pictures to come.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Big things: life, life, life

I'm finished my undergrad! For real, this time! Maybe I should feel sad or nostalgic, but I just feel a combination of relief and terror. I handed in my last essay ever, and handing in essays always makes me nervous. But! Last essay ever. Surely I'll pass. Nothing to worry about. Right.

I've been putting off an aggressive job search to do this essay; now that it is finished I have to go looking in earnest, which I'm not looking forward to. Oh well, it has to be done. It's inexcusable to have failed to find employment for so long. Right now I just want a vacation, which is a bit silly given that I did lots of not-essay while I was writing the last essay.

I also saw Wicked last week. I think it was the second professionally-done musical I've seen, the first being Fiddler on the Roof when I was quite young. Most of my musical theatre experiences have been of the amateur or high school variety. Still fun, but of course paling in comparison with the real thing. So Wicked was spectacular, both musically and visually. I haven't read any of Gregory Maguire's books yet, although lots of people have recommended them to me, but I'll certainly remember to look for them now.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

stash!

I went to Wool Tyme's warehouse sale yesterday. It was hot enough to make me feel silly about buying yarn, but I'm planning ahead. The selection stunned and overwhelmed me, both in the warehouse and the shop itself - I am not one for decision-making. So I petted and prodded many lovely yarns and eventually picked some for a few definite projects. No impulse buying here! I'm proud of myself.

Zara Plus

The Zara Plus is for Liesl, the major project that is #1 in my queue at the moment. I'll cast on once I finish my lace scarf. I was eyeing a blue-gray wool-silk blend, but they didn't have enough of it, so I grudgingly moved on. This is not quite the colour I was looking for, and after I bought it I began to be very unsure.... but I like it, and I think it will work. If it doesn't, I'll dye it or something. The picture looks brighter blue than it actually is.

Mission Falls 1824
I've cast on with the Mission Falls 1824 Wool, and I love how it feels. I'm very apprehensive about how it will wear, but we'll cross that road when we come to it.

Angora 70
This and a darker shade of red Angora 70 is for a gift that I'll start soon. Then I'll be juggling several projects and failing at my attempts at knitting monogamy, but oh well.

It's distracting. So much new yarn. So much inexpensive new yarn! Ahh.

I'm finishing a draft of the essay today. Finally. I am determined and possibly slightly over-confident. But here it goes. No knitting until it's done!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

ORANGE. finally.

fuzzy noodles
I've said before that I like orange but can't wear it, except maybe on my hands. So now I'm going to make orange mittens!

Yesterday in a fit of procrastination (almost done this essay... almost...) I tried dyeing yarn with kool aid for the first time. I didn't use real Kool Aid; no-name brand mix worked for me. I was a little nervous because while the package said "add sugar" I hadn't checked the ingredients until I got home... and indeed, it had some sugar in it already. Oops. Perusing a Kool Aid dyeing group on ravelry assuaged my fears and I jumped right in, using 4 packets of generic orange-flavoured mix. I followed directions and suggestions I found from the above ravelry group, mostly the Knitty Fall '02 tutorial.

orange lopi

This brings back fond memories of bright-coloured and strong-smelling home-made play dough that we coloured with Kool Aid and generic equivalents. Fun.

I suspect my pot was too small for the amount of yarn I had and that may have contributed to the uneven dye job. I used Istex Alafoss Lopi, which is very thick and bulky, and it takes up a lot of space. But! I'm really happy with it anyway.

orange lopi

Love this. Will do again. Because I hate dealing with vinegar, I really like that Kool Aid and its ilk have enough acid. Fruity smelling yarn I'll take over vinegar-y yarn any day. I may branch out and try other food colouring at some point, but I'm looking forward to trying Kool Aid-like products on more yarn in the future. Next up? Sock yarn seems like a good choice.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Friday, August 15, 2008

Sigh.

Today I am indulging my inner Charlie Chaplin. Good thing I like to laugh at myself. ;)

-chilli blew up in the microwave
-spilled chilli on myself
-while eating a nectarine, the pit went flying, leaving a nice sticky spot next to the chilli splotch.

Also, I went to the library 15 minutes before it opened, since I forget it doesn't open until 1 on Fridays. Less of an overtly slapstick moment, but still made me feel rather ridiculous. All in good fun, though!

At the library I got The Knitter's Book of Yarn, which I'd requested like every other knitter ever. I didn't expect to get it for another few months, but I guess everyone on the list is on vacation. Hurray, yarn books! The timing is perfect, since I've been thinking a lot about yarn for Liesl, which I hope to start in the next few weeks. While I've probably gained a little expertise through trial and error in terms of yarn choice over the last few years, I do have a few unfortunate yarn choice disasters (what was I THINKING?) of the sort I'd like to prevent in the future.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Ontario peaches and baking

I love peaches. I love Ontario peaches especially. I don't love how peaches often look beautiful on the outside but have a mealy interior.

This is easily solved, however.

peaches and sugar

Last night I used almost a whole basket of questionable peaches to make crisp. AKA crumble.

I don't think I've ever made a crisp/crumble before that was solely composed of peaches. Usually we have a mixture of fruit that needs to be used, but this time just peaches required urgent attention. In some ways I prefer using rhubarb because it is sour to begin with, so the finished product isn't so sweet. I used some lemon juice in the peach crisp to try to counteract that, since peaches are so sweet to begin with, and yet sugar is required for the texture. I might try adding lemon juice overtop when it is finished next time, actually. When I make crisp it is rarely crispy, but that's okay; I prefer the oat topping to be slightly chewy.

Mmmm

My favourite way to eat crisp is warm with plain yogourt. Mmmm.

recipe: This is so inexact because I pretty much do whatever looks right, but it should be close.

6 cups chopped peaches - I don't bother peeling it because I like peach skin.
1 cup sugar (I used white because it mixes with the fruit easily, but I expect brown would work too)
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon
juice of half a lemon

Mix, spread evenly over bottom of baking dish.

topping:
1.5 cups rolled oats, or as much as you need to cover the fruit (trial and error)
a small amount of flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
vegetable oil - enough to slightly wet the oats, but not drench them

Mix and spread over the fruit.

Bake 35 minutes at 350 F. Or however long it takes to lightly brown the topping, if that's what you're into. Mine is always drenched in juice, so it doesn't brown easily, but I don't mind.

Monday, August 11, 2008

tactics

Sometimes I lust after unsuitable sweaters. I look at a gorgeous empire-waisted construction, or a slouchy no-waisted, or cropped thing, and simultaneously think "I love this" and "I can't wear this."

I've always mistrusted tactics. Wear this to elongate your figure. Wear that to emphasize your waist/bust/shoulders. Wear that to draw attention away from your waist/bust/shoulders. Hide / show yourself with particular cuts and shapes. Cut your hair such a way to suggest that you have a heart-shaped rather than rectangular face. I keep thinking, why can't I wear what I want? Why should I try to distract the viewer? I may not have the proportions that are currently in style, but does that mean I should try to convince everyone that I do? The contradictory advice and directives don't help. And yet, I buy into it and occasionally seek it out. I wonder sometimes.

It's not that I'm unhappy with my body type - I have been, in the past, but I got over that. Yay, I like myself! Haha. But I'm not confident enough to tell the advisors to go to hell, it seems, because in all honesty I do want to look my best. Whatever that means. Despite all my life's training, I do sometimes care how other people see me, and on some level I believe the amorphous cultural "media" when they say that beautiful looks a particular way this week. Even though my conscious mind knows that's all bullshit. What it means is, if I have a suspicion that my body doesn't suit a particular shape, then I'll avoid it. In practice, this has meant avoiding anything remotely daring. Mostly that suits me fine: I'm a boring dresser. I haven't sold out enough that I don't wear what is comfortable. Comfort is imperative.

And yet, I wonder whether I need to change, now that I'm trying to get other people to take me seriously enough to hire me. And I wonder if taking even more care would make me a traitor to my lifestyle.

Friday, August 08, 2008

adventure in recycling

We went to see EcoEquitable today. They are a group that creates and sells bags made from fabric swatches, vinyl banners, rice bags, and umbrellas among other things. I went with my mom, who brought them some discontinued drapery swatch books from a friend of hers. I'd read about them in the newspaper a while back, and it was really interesting to see where they work. Their website is rather incomplete at the moment, but the boutique section gives a good survey of what they make. It's very inspiring.

While there, my mother revealed that I too was a crafter, and pointed out my homemade earrings. They were enthusiastic and urged me to sell jewelry; though they were probably being too kind, I was flattered. Haha. When I told them I'm not enough of a perfectionist to produce anything that other people might buy, they said imperfections are part of the charm of handmade goods. Which is fair enough, I guess.

While I have no immediate intention of setting up shop, I'm feeling pleased with my latest earrings, so I'll show them.

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It's thundery and dark this evening, so I wasn't able to get a brilliant picture, but there it is. The whitish-yellow wire is guitar string, and the beads are run of the mill plastic seed beads. I was going for a Charles Rennie Mackintosh-esque look/feel. I love the shapes and motifs in his work, and I find myself particularly drawn to his roses over and over again. So here I tried to scribble with wire something that reminded me a little of the rose motifs.

Guitar string is tough to bend precisely. I've used it before as the base cord for necklaces, but here is my first attempt to bend it into small shapes. I'll readily admit these earrings are just asymmetrical enough to look like a mistake, and not asymmetrical enough to look intentional, but I don't mind too much. Next time I'll try to find a better solution to guitar wire logistics - I'm not too fond of the join at the top.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

some productivity

Here's what I made today:
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Granted, all it took was stringing an already-gorgeous glass bead onto a piece of ribbon and tying some knots... so this barely qualifies as craftiness. I have had this glass bead for ages; my mom picked it up a festival a few years ago, and I have looked at it occasionally but never known quite what to do with it. Serendipitously, today the bead met some navy-blue ribbon that I have also had lying around for an undetermined length of time, and I said, "Aha!" Or something.

It's hard to capture the glass in a photograph since it sparkles and shines and is translucent in places. I like it a lot. I don't know if I'll wear it, though.
To be quite honest, I think the ribbon is slightly too thick for this sort of necklace. It hangs a little awkwardly, and it's a little too long, despite my careful (snort) measuring. I can cut it off any time, but since I sewed on some jumprings to facilitate easy fastening, I'm reluctant to do so right away. Tiny tiny stitches. Still, it gave me a sense of accomplishment for about 5 minutes, so that's something, right?

Now, on to Knotions. Not a bad start for a new magazine, I say with all my nonexistent expertise in these matters. I like the format, and I think the techniques section will come in handy, though I know there are plenty of places to find tutorials. I don't think I'll rush out to make any of the patterns in the fall issue immediately, but there are some I quite like.
Oak Leaf socks look like fun.
False modesty is very pretty, though I'd need to go out to more fancy events to justify it.
Edgy is something I could see myself making once I feel like lace again, though it could end up looking a bit too much like a doily if one is not careful. Hmmm.

I'm knitting away on my Tiger Eye scarf - almost halfway finished. I don't think I'll bother knitting two halves and grafting them in the middle. I don't mind an asymmetrical scarf. I won't bother anyone's eyes with more unblocked lace, though.