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 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.


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


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.


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...