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

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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.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Twist

More knitting distractions! I'll have you (whoever you are) know that I started writing my last essay of undergrad this morning even though I found out about the premiere issue of Twist Collective. Indeed. Shiny! What with the demise of Magknits and the establishment of Twist and Knotions, these are certainly exciting times. (Did I just say that? Whatever. I'm excited). In a few days I expect I'll do my gushing about Knotions, but right now...

I like the look of Empoisonnee
Bonnie
Wisteria
Daniel
and I love Little Birds. (Of course. How could I not?)

Most of my picks are from the section called "Forest Fairies." I wonder what that says about me? I expect something about being more comfortable romping about the woods than at a cosmopolitan do. Is anyone surprised? Ha.

Anyway. Of this big gushing list of gush, I'm most likely to make Wisteria and Little Birds. I'm not very experienced with stranding yet, having only made the endpaper mitts, but once I feel more comfortable with it and want to tackle steeking, I will definitely knit this. I'll be making Liesl soon, for my Ysolda fix, in any case. Just need yarn.

Oh, and happy August!