Friday, December 24, 2010

Adventures

Just checking in quickly with a few photos. Thanks for all the lovely comments about my selbu modern. I have been wearing it a lot the last little while, while away having adventures. We headed south to train delays and more snow.

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Snow on palm trees in "sunny Exeter" make me giggle, although I shouldn't laugh since snow in these parts causes chaos.

Then on to London!

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This was the first time I'd seen a West End show, and it was very exciting. Les Mis is such an established production, but seeing it for the first time was pretty cool.

Back soon with more knitting! Happy holidays, everyone!

Friday, December 17, 2010

FO: Selbu Modern

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Pattern: Selbu Modern by Kate Gagnon Osbourne

Yarn:
The yarn I used was some old, discontinued fingering weight that claims to be Schaffhouser Wolle Mona - but yarn by that name in the ravelry database is clearly different yarn. I found it in Lewiscraft while they were going out of business, and excited about the cheapness bought skeins of light pink, magenta/fuschia, and green. I dyed some of the obnoxious magenta with Wiltons Royal Blue icing dye, and it turned a lovely Western purple.

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Notes:
I used 2.75 mm needles throughout, not bothering with smaller needles for the ribbing. This turned out bigger and slouchier than I thought it would; notes from many projects on ravelry suggested the hat usually runs small. However, I didn't swatch, so I only have myself to blame.

Knitting this took me ages. AGES. I started in September and only finished this week. There are many reasons for this, but the biggest is that I didn't work on it very often because I never printed out the pattern. Only working on the project while near the computer is, it turns out, a terrible idea for me because the internet is so distracting. Haha. Lesson learned. I'm also pretty slow at colourwork and it wears out my hands if I do too much at once. Case in point: when I got to the decreases and saw the end in sight, I worked furiously, and couldn't knit for days afterwards. Bad idea: will not push myself like this again.

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I like the result, but I have mixed feelings about wearing it. The pattern is so beautiful, and I've admired it for a long time, but when I put it on I immediately felt ridiculous. My desire to knit the pattern quashed any inkling I might have had that hats of this style don't really suit me. The crease from blocking it on a plate makes it stick out in a weird way on my head, and I felt like this hat could be high maintenance. If I have to stand in front of a mirror and mess with it before leaving the house, it might not be worth wearing.

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Then I got stubborn and decided to wear the hat anyway, even if I look stupid, and after wearing it for a few days I feel much better about it. Still, I might steer clear of slouchy hats for a while.

Check out more Friday FOs at Tami's Amis!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

so much butter

I have fond memories of baking an array of tasty treats with my mom in December, but mince pies weren't part of my holiday fare. Since meeting my dude, for whom mince pies are an integral part of Christmas, we've made pies together a few times, though we seem to use a different recipe each time. It's extra fun because this is one of the only things he gets excited about baking.

We made our mince pies using this recipe for pastry, and sort of this recipe for mincemeat, which we made a few weeks ago and kept in the fridge. (I say sort of because we used some different proportions of dried fruits, used butter instead of suet, and generally disregarded the recipe - as I generally do. But we were inspired by this recipe. It worked.)

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They are tasty, but this is easily the most butter I've ever used in one time. Ever. Holy crap. We had to interrupt our baking to pop to the grocery store to get more butter because we didn't have enough. I am unapologetic about substituting things for butter in most recipes, but for shortcrust pastry like this vegetable oil probably wouldn't fly.

We halved the mincemeat recipe, but still had enough for double the pastry recipe, and ended up with 24 pies.

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Mmmm pie.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

some sort of wagon

Pinterest, the website that lets one create virtual bulletin boards, has been sweeping the knitting/crafting/blogging/shopping/internet world lately. Guess what? I have pinboards, too. It's pretty fun, though it brings out my covetous side. Haha. If you like, you can check out my boards here.

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Wanted: a replacement cardigan

I looked in my sweater drawer and realized with shock that I no longer possess any pullovers. How strange. I left a few behind when I moved, and I haven't missed them until now. Maybe it isn't that strange; I am a big fan of cardigans, and I find them much more versatile than pullovers. (Though I still plan to make more pullovers in future!)

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The issue at hand today is my standard go-to cardigan, Basic Black by Glenna C.

I finished this in July 2009. It was my most standard, useful cardigan, and I've worn it a lot. Surprisingly, the yarn hasn't pilled at all. Alas, I have to relegate this cardigan to the bottom of the drawer. The neckline is sagging terribly and falls off my shoulders, and it's generally shapeless and unflattering. It is no longer suitable for wear outside the house. Too bad! To be honest, it never fit as well as it should have: the waist-shaping was a bit wonky, the seams were badly executed in spots, and the sleeves were an awkward length - too long to be 3/4 sleeves, but too short to be long sleeves. But it was super useful and warm and wonderful, so I want to replace it with something equally versatile and simple.

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Since I love cardigans, I have many in my queue already, but I have specific criteria for this cardigan.

1. Worsted or Aran weight yarn
2. Buttons all the way down, or modifiable to do so
3. Fitted, with waist shaping, or at least easy enough to add waist shaping
4. Simple, not too many cables or lace or whatever, but not TOO boring.
5. Full-length, not cropped
6. Readily available, i.e. online

Here's the shortlist:

1. Amelia by Laura Chau
2. Garter Yoke Cardigan by Melissa LaBarre
3. Monday Morning Cardigan by Laura Chau
4. Emerald Isle Cardigan by Melissa Wehrle

I'm leaning towards Amelia, because I love twisted stitches, and many people have modified it to button all the way down with great success.

What do you think? Any suggestions?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sock Rank

I never thought I'd become a sock knitter, but here I am: proud owner of several pairs of handknit wool socks with many more queued up for eventual knitting. Although I come from a cold place where wool socks are useful, I've found that I'm wearing my wool socks more frequently since moving to Edinburgh. This is partly because I get to pay for my heating now and the flat, though modern, isn't very well-insulated; but probably more significantly, I have more handknit socks now than before, so of course I wear them more often. 2010 was the year of sock knitting for me - I knit 3 pairs for myself, bringing my handknit sock collection up to 4 pairs. That doesn't sound like much, but technically it's a 300% increase. (Is it? I'm math-dumb.)

Here is the round-up.

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(made with the BigHugeLabs mosaic maker)

Clockwise from top left: Delicious knee socks, Skew, Jaywalkers, and Sugar Maple

Skew are a bit too tight and the yarn is turning to fuzz and fading fast: I dyed some cheap-as-hell sock yarn with Easter Egg dyes, so I only have myself to blame.

The jaywalkers and the knee socks are both fine, and I like them, but as it turns out, the Sugar Maple socks are my favourites. From 2-at-a-time Socks by Melissa Morgan-Oakes, these are the most comfortable and I want to wear them all the time. I'm surprised that I like them so much, given that I didn't particularly like the yarn while knitting, and I'm not a fan of the dye-job. I said I wouldn't use this yarn again. But they are so soft, and yet they are holding up pretty well despite frequent washings/wearings. I like when knits defy my expectations.

Do you have favourite socks?

Saturday, December 04, 2010

blue paper packages tied up with ribbon

Look what came in the post today!

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And inside....

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I wanted to snag an Elijah kit from Ysolda's holiday store, but they were all gone by the time I got my credit card out, so I bought the project bag instead. Augh the cute. I'll make Elijah one day, but for now I'll have the bag to carry around with me. :)