Wednesday, March 31, 2010

spring greens / neon returns

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Dyeing attempt #2 with the Elann Sock It To Me 4-ply. (Initially typed 4-play, whoops! Hello, Freud.)

I used Wiltons in Leaf Green and lemon-lime Kool Aid to achieve these cheery bundles. I hoped the kool aid would provide enough acid, but it didn't look like it would exhaust, so I added more lemon juice, which helped. I also added a pinch of salt to the dye bath; rumour is that helps with dye in which blue is involved. Hard to say whether it did or not.

In low light, such as is now shining in my window, the yarn looks very bright green. In these photos it's a little more subdued-looking.

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I'm having a hard time deciding what colour it really is. The close-up shot above is not colour-accurate.

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You may be able to see the subtle semi-solid thing happening in this picture. I dig it. I'm tempted to say it's the only subtle thing about this yarn, haha. But in truth I wasn't going for subtle.

I'm considering overdyeing this to try to get a darker green, but the more I look at it the more I like it. I envision Twisted in a bright green like this, so maybe I'll just go for it and save darker green for another day. Two more skeins of Sock It To Me left...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hazards of kitchen dyeing, or: bundles of sunshine

If you dye yarn in your kitchen and you have housemates, chances are un-crafty housemates will think you are crazy. They might be right.

While I was soaking some white sock yarn in a big pot on the stove, this conversation transpired:

Housemate: I'm going to get some dinner.
Me: Okay, enjoy.
Housemate: Good luck with...er *eyes pot suspiciously* whatever it is you're... uh.. making.

I later found out she thought I was making an obscene amount of noodles. Indeed, white sock yarn in a pot might look a little like a crapload of vermicelli. Then she returned to find the big pot still full of "noodles," only now they were a vibrant shade of yellow... Good times.

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Now I have bundles of sunshine and they make me super happy.

The yarn is Elann Sock It To Me 4 ply - a yarn so incredibly cheap, yet fairly highly rated, that I wondered how I'd never come across it before. This was my first Elann ordering experience, and it will not be the last. In a fit of madness I ordered 6 balls, which is enough for 3 pairs of socks. Plus shipping, it came out to just under $20 - the average cost for a hank of reputable sock yarn. At this rate, handknit socks are practically affordable. ;)

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Now, I don't know how it will wear, although ravelry users suggest it's pretty good for the price. It's not the softest 4-ply ever - I won't be making any scarves out of it. But it dyed up pretty well, and I'm totally excited about dyeing more. (In truth, I dyed more today: pics forthcoming).

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I used Wiltons icing dye in Golden Yellow. I didn't keep track of how much, to be honest. I kept adding until I felt like it was enough. This was also an experiment in using lemon juice as the acid. I've used vinegar before to set food colouring dye, and it has worked okay, but my current house has terrible ventilation, and my bedroom is right off the kitchen, and I hate hate hate the smell of vinegar... so I wasn't willing to try that in this house. I started out with the juice of half a lemon, and by the end I'd added the other half as well, so I hope that was enough. Apparently lemon juice is slightly more acidic than vinegar anyway, which suggests that I wouldn't need as much; I never measured the vinegar I used to use, so this comparison is meaningless to me.

Anyway. Fun experiment. Next time: green that may be slightly more neon than I intended...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Pocket memory

It was too warm for a winter coat the other day, but too cold for no coat at all, so I put on my raincoat to keep out the wind.

Reaching into my pocket, I found a worn little seashell.

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I guess I haven't worn my raincoat in a while, the last time being when I was in England over Christmas. I picked up this little fragment on a beach somewhere between Brixham and Torquay. Though it was a bit grim and gray, it was a fun walk.
Here are some photos from that day in January.

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Staring down at unreal-coloured seawater.

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Wondering who lived here, perched high on the hill overlooking the sea.

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Fishing from the edge.

Happy memories, all because of a shell forgotten in a pocket.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Thursday Word: Salsipotent

Salsipotent
ruling the salt seas
~The Phrontistery

Arrrr...

That's all for today.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Knitty - Spring/Summer

I can't remember exactly when I found Knitty for the first time, but it was a few years before I got back into knitting in a big way. It took me a while to get around to actually starting any projects, but I browsed Knitty and bookmarked all kinds of Knitty patterns before there was Ravelry. If I look at my finished projects for the last few years, I only have a handful from Knitty, (seven to be exact), but for whatever reason this free online mag has a place in my heart and in my queue.

Probably because it's free, friendly, and the designers/models generally seem like regular people. I can relate to it, you know? That said, I always have some "WTF?" moments when looking at Knitty, but to be honest I have those moments when looking at any knitting publication.

Here's what I like from the Spring/Summer issue:

Twisted
These socks look like leaves/petals enfolding the wearer's feet. For some reason that really appeals to me. Flower toes! Too precious?

Petrie
So, I don't know if I'll ever knit myself a tank top. But if I do, this one is in the running. I'd need to add waist-shaping, and not make it in sunshine-y yellow (alas, big sigh).

Duck
Gaaaah teh cute. These are completely ridiculous, but what's cuter than baby feet and duck feet combined? Mutant duck-baby creatures. Awesome. I don't know anyone with babies at the moment, and I have a feeling a lot of people wouldn't appreciate the hilariousness of these... but if I find someone who would, I'll totally make them.

Emmaline
This is really growing on me. When I first saw the Knitty cover, it didn't grab me at all. But now I kind of like it. I like that it is empire waist styled, but also has proper waist shaping. You know me and my waist-shaping fixation... It's like an empire-waist thing I could possibly get away with wearing. Maybe. Not sure if I could pull off puffed sleeves in bulky yarn, though.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Desperate measures

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A little fluffy pink cotton candy cloud on a chilly, gray day.

I excised this handful of Noro from my skein after I couldn't take the pink any longer and I was worried my sock would end up entirely pink with the lovely purple hidden inside my shoes!

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I was slow on the uptake, and didn't realize what had happened until it was too late. The chartreuse arrow marks where I found a knot in the yarn and had to rejoin it. In doing so, I screwed up the colour repeat: I knew this was a common occurrence with Noro yarns, but since everything was so pink already, I didn't quite realize that I actually restarted the pink section! Gah. That's why the pink seemed endless.

I haven't ripped back, but by cutting away a handful, I've managed to ensure that there is lavender on the horizon, and I'm optimistic that deeper purples will follow.

The handful of pink yarn looks better on my windowsill than on my sock. It makes me happy. Maybe keep it there.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Recipe for getting out of a funk

Yarn
Needles
Stitch dictionary

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Let's hope it works...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Word Thurs: Rede

Rede
1. To give advice to; counsel.
2. To interpret; explain.

n. 1. Advice or counsel.
2. (Archaic) A narration
.

~The Free Online Dictionary

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pink Progress

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I'm working away on my Noro Delicious sock. I'm finally at the calf shaping, but at this rate I'll be finished by fall. So much for spring knee socks! This has become my coping sock. I bring it to university and knit between classes, during class breaks, in the hallway, at Tim Hortons, wherever I am when I feel like I'm about to start twitching. Ahhh knitting as a relaxation technique. Only a few more weeks... Do you have a special project for relaxation?

The colour is a slight hindrance to relaxation, though. As you can see, the sock is going through a pink phase. So pink. There's an impressive number of pinks represented so far, from pale baby pink to fuschia, but many of them fall into the category of "shocking," I think. I'm excited for the purple to come back; I don't want all the purple hidden in my shoes!

I may have mentioned before that I don't generally wear pink these days - my face is pink enough as it is. However, I figure I can get away with pink on my feet. The endlessness of this pink segment is bogging me down a bit, since I'm sort of tired of looking at it. My next project may be something gray.

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Here's an awfully contorted shot to show the cable up the back. I haven't been counting rows between cable crosses, so they are not the most even, but I don't really care at this point. What worried me at first was that it looked like the cable wasn't actually in the centre of the back of the leg, even though there were the same number of stitches on each side. It looks more centred now, though. So I'm just going with it. I'm so slow, I couldn't bear to set myself back another month by frogging!

Friday, March 12, 2010

FO and words

Eclose
(Entomology) (of an insect) emerge as an adult from the pupa or as a larva from the egg.
~Oxford Reference Online

I saw my first two squashed lady bugs on the sidewalk today. I guess they had already experienced eclosion - the first to eclose of spring? I have no idea if I'm using that right. Please correct me. Anyway, it was unnerving to see, since there is still snow on the ground in places, although it has been reaching 10 C over the last few days. I keep waiting for another blizzard.

On that note, I finished my last hat of winter, but it's way too warm to wear it.

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My eyes are tightly closed because they are not yet used to bright sunlight! squint squint.

Flora, by Margaux Pena
This pattern is full of errors, but they aren't too bad, and they are well-documented on Ravelry. I couldn't resist the cute little leaves, and I would knit this again despite errors.

Yarn: inherited handspun that tends towards DK weight, undyed and dyed blue with food colouring.

Needles: 3.5 mm for the garter stitch band, and 4.0 mm for the rest.

Mods: After the colour pattern, I knit 2 rounds of stockinette before the decreases, rather than the 5 specified in the pattern. It's still a little big, but I like to pull my hats down to my eyebrows, so it's fine.

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Turns out I'm terrible at photographing my own head. I took about 15 photos and didn't manage to get any centred shots. Whoops. I blocked it flat, rather than over a balloon or something spherical since I didn't have anything on hand, so there's a bit that's slightly bulgy. I hope it will come out with wear.

I was so frustrated when I dyed the yarn last year, since I was trying for a darker blue. I got two large skeins to be turquoise/blue and then (attempting) the same formula dyed another two that turned out completely different - blue/purple. Ah, dye lots to the extreme. So much for a sweater's worth of yarn! Anyway, I left the crapload of bluish yarn under my bed for months, since I was mad at it, but once I started knitting Flora, I fell in love with this yarn. It's much brighter than I had remembered it, and it's semisolid, and quite fun. So, good news after all.

Now. What else can I make with 800+ yards of various bluish scratchy DK handspun?!

Monday, March 08, 2010

Musical musings: Watchmen

No knitting content today, but if all goes well I'll have an FO in the coming days!

I just thought I'd share some musings I've had, since ultimately that's what blogs are for. This post is link and video heavy, just to warn you.

I received the soundtrack to Watchmen for my birthday, and I've been listening to it a lot. I don't often find that movie music sticks with me after I watch the film (any score by John Williams is an obvious, if cliche, exception). But when I saw this film, one of the things that struck me was how awesome the soundtrack was--there were many songs I was already familiar with that struck me as completely appropriate for the given scene but mostly for the bleak atmosphere of the film in general. I love that there are three Bob Dylan songs in the official soundtrack, for example, even if two of them are covers. I have no quarrel with Jimi Hendrix's cover of All Along the Watchtower - brilliant. But I sort of wish Desolation Row was the original, rather than a cover by My Chemical Romance. (As a side note, every time I listen to it at a certain point I think my microwave is dinging. But no, it's a guitar. Gets me every time. Anyway). Upon listening to the official soundtrack, however, I noticed that many of the songs I remember from the film aren't on the CD, and I wondered how they chose the 12 that were included.

Then I started thinking about the songs that weren't in the movie, but maybe should have been. It occurred to me that a soundtrack made up of Leonard Cohen songs only would have been quite convincing. There were a few Cohen songs in the movie, but only Hallelujah made it to the CD. (I love Hallelujah, although it's definitely overdone - kd lang's version is awesome, but a bizarre choice for the Olympic opening ceremonies in my opinion...)

Anyway, in the name of procrastination, here's my version of the Watchmen soundtrack with Leonard Cohen songs only.

Note: the following may contain spoilers for Watchmen! You have been warned.

First We Take Manhattan
(Embedding is disabled for the official video on Youtube, but the video is kind of cool in a hilarious 1980s way, so check it out! Lots of people with suitcases on the beach.)
This one is cheating. It was in the movie during the credits, but I think it deserves a more prominent role in the film. It's so brooding. And 1980s. I know, the song itself only came out in 1987 while the film is set in 1985, but whatever. That's no concern of mine.


Democracy


Maybe this goes without saying. The refrain is "Democracy is coming to the USA," and it's ironically hopeful tone adds to the delightful satire. I think it fits the mood and storyline of the film, since most of the action concerns the Cold War and America's own democratic posturing goes right along with that.

Closing Time
Embedding disabled, but this video cracks me up. Ah, backup singers.
While this doesn't come through quite as well in the film, the gritty, grimy, drugged out, and depressed condition of people New York in the graphic novel is clear and pronounced. It reminds me of this song, in some ways, although the song is kind of cheerful about it all. The way love happens in this movie is kind of desperate like this song.

A Thousand Kisses Deep

I think this is a more appropriate song for the sex scene than Hallelujah was, but maybe it's too bleak and depressing.

Alexandra Leaving
Video may not be safe for work since it includes nudes and partial nudes
When Laurie leaves Jon. That's a very literal application of this song, but I think it works, especially because of the line "As someone long prepared for this to happen..." since Dr. Manhattan sees time all at once.

I'm Your Man

Okay, so admittedly the first reason I picked this song is the line "If you want another kind of love / I'll wear a mask for you." Literally and figuratively, since there's a character who at one point *ahem* finds himself impotent (literally) until he dresses up in his superhero costume and has an adventure. A preoccupation with masks and how they affect identity is important to the whole story, though perhaps moreso in the graphic novel than in the movie.

Anthem

Anthem also has a hopeful tone, but I'm not sure if it's ironic or not. "The birds they sang at the break of day / Start again, I heard them say" fits well with the ending of the film.

The Great Event

I think this is one of Cohen's most bizarre songs, although Dear Heather is pretty bizarre. Recited by a computerized voice, it declares that some Great Event is imminent "which will end the horror / which will end the sorrow." Hello, Veidt Enterprises!

That was longer than I'd intended, but I'll stop before I think of more songs to add. There are so many; it helps that most of Leonard Cohen's repertoire is bleak and depressing to begin with. Ack, just thought of The Future, and Everybody Knows. So good...

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Thursday words: crapulent and prevernal

Crapulent
(literary) relating to the drinking of alcohol or drunkenness.
~Oxford Reference Online

I just think this word is funny in a sort of "I'm an 8 year old boy" way. No crapulence in these parts lately, for good or for ill.

A slightly more topical, relevent word, since I'm feeling wordy:

Prevernal
In the early spring.
~Oxford Reference Online

Maybe that's wishful thinking, since March in Canada generally brings more snow before it brings spring, but it has been very bright and shiny out there today!