Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011: The Year in Knits

The year isn't quite finished, but since I don't expect my FO count to change in the next few days, I'm posting my year in review. I finished ten knitting projects in 2011, which is fewer than 2010's 15 projects... but who's counting? Quality over quantity? Haha. In any case, I wasn't exceptionally prolific this year, but I'm satisfied with what I made. Plus, I started a very long-term project that won't be finished anytime soon - my beekeeper's quilt. Anyway, here are the FOs of 2011:

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From left to right, top to bottom: (links to my projects on ravelry)
Idlewood by Cecily Glowik MacDonald
French Press Slippers by Melynda Bernardi
Danube Cowl, by me
Drops design cardigan with lots of numbers in it
Calculation mitts by Natalie Selles
Simple City shawlette by Mimi Hill
Entomology Mittens by Adrian Bizilia
Twisted socks by Jodie Gordon Lucas
Honeybee Cardigan by Laura Chau
Fleegle's toe-up socks

In January, I made some pseudo-resolutions to knit more sweaters in 2011, put some designs to paper, and learn some new techniques. I'd say I mostly managed that - I made two cardigans and a pullover, and published a free knitting pattern (Danube Cowl). As for new techniques, the only thing I can think of is the Fleegle Heel I used for my Team Sweden socks, but it's a pretty cool heel, so I'd count it as a useful technique I've learned.

In 2012, I would like to focus my knitting on filling in my knitwear gaps. For example, most of my handknit sweaters are 3/4 sleeved because I skimp on yarn and am afraid of running out. 3/4 sleeves are fine sometimes, but my wardrobe needs some long-sleeved things. So: goal for 2012 is to make sweaters with long sleeves, even if I need to buy more yarn to accomplish it! Likewise, I only have one handknitted pullover, so I'd like to add one or two more pullovers to the mix this year.

What will you be knitting/making in 2012?

Monday, December 19, 2011

dude

Look what I found in my advent calendar today:

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A Tardis! Heh. There's even a blob that I am interpreting as the Doctor seen from the back.

(I don't want to hear about it if you think it's actually a wrapped gift or some other traditional Christmas item :P)

This totally made my day.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A joint effort

We aren't traveling to see family for the holidays this year, so this will be our first Christmas at home in our flat together. That meant coming up with some kind of Christmas tree.

Lucky for us, we both like to make things. My dude came up with a crazy scheme to build a Christmas tree out of dowels and garden wire - and it worked! He did most of it, but I helped. When the modern, minimalist tree was finished, it sat bare for a few days while we thought about how to decorate it. The branches are fairly flexible, and the whole thing is rather small. Then, another brilliant idea from the dude...

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Hexipuffs as ornaments! They are very light and small, plus I have them in a crazy range of colours. I put some thread through a corner of each one, knotted it, and then attempted to hide the knot back inside the puffs. When it comes time to put the blanket together, I can always cut the thread and remove it.

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I'm sure this isn't an original idea - on ravelry I can find people using hexipuffs for all kinds of things, including ornaments and a hexitree. However, my dear FH doesn't spend all his free time browsing ravelry, so the idea coming from him is somewhat original.

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Friday, December 02, 2011

Hexipuff update

I'm still making hexipuffs! Here is the latest crop.

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The yellow-orange and blue ones used leftovers from my Team Sweden Socks - I'm pleased with the stripes! The others are from the miniskeins Natalie/Pinkundine sent me. The purple and green one are from the same miniskein; the long colour repeats on such a small object made each into an almost solid-coloured puff. It's hard to tell in the photo, but there is a slight colour change from purple to green / green to purple on each. And the neon stripy ones? Hahaha. They make me laugh. So eye-searing! Amazing.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

WIP at last : Wedding Shawl

So, after my angsty post of a few weeks ago, I took your comments in stride and finally settled on a pattern for my wedding shawl. In retrospect, it was obvious. I'd admired Kieran Foley's High Seas stole since I knew it existed - so why not knit it now? I still have some reservations about the colour, since I love how this pattern looks knitted up in blues... but the white versions on ravelry look nice as well, and I can always overdye this after the wedding if I want.

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Lumpy lace

The pattern is very well-written, and includes some other variations on the original stole, but I'm doing the original this time around. It's challenging, but for lace worked on both sides, it's not so bad - the wrong-side rows are still mostly purled, even though they have a few YO and p2togtbls. I'm partway through the second pattern repeat, and enjoying it so far! Because a 40-row pattern repeat seems to be asking for trouble, I'm putting in lifelines every 20 rows, but haven't had to use them yet. Fingers crossed...

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Slightly stretched

Check out more WIPs on Tami's Blog!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

most photogenic cookie?

The other day I made Orange Gingersnaps. After finding this recipe on Pinterest ages ago, I'm glad I finally tried it. I shoved nearly 2/3 of the batch in the freezer afterwards so I could make them last longer. Mmmm. I love the way orange and ginger combine.

Generally, I fall back on blobby oatmeal raisin cookies when I want to bake. They are delicious also. But these... these are even pretty, if I do say so myself! (And if I can make these look pretty, so can anyone.)

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I mostly followed the recipe (shocking), but predictably made some changes. Instead of using shortening I used half butter, half vegetable oil. I didn't use as much molasses, since I've found that treacle available in the UK is much stronger than the molasses I always used in North America. I learned this the hard way making gingerbread one year - the stuff turned out black. I only used about a tablespoon this time, which was plenty.

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Technically, I shouldn't call these gingerSNAPS since most of them don't really snap. Other than the last baking sheet full which I cooked a little longer, they ended up quite chewy. I did this on purpose, and I'm glad it worked, since chewy ginger cookies are awesome. They work well as crunchy cookies, though, if that's your thing.

Next time I make them, I'll use less sugar and maybe less butter in the oil-to-butter ratio, although I suspect that will make them tend towards crunchy rather than chewy.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Winnings

I'm excited to show you my new stash of mini-skeins, courtesy of Natalie/Pinkundine at Misadventures in Craft. Recently, she had a giveaway to celebrate a year of knitting, and I was lucky enough to win one of the prizes.

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Here they are in their Proto-hexipuff stage of existence. Soon they will undergo a metamorphosis.

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There's some Regia, Zauberball, Mini Mochi and others in there. I think they will make some pretty awesome hexipuffs. Thanks, Natalie!

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Monday, November 21, 2011

White Balance for the Win

I've always had trouble photographing greens with my camera. You may remember my frustration with everything green looking teal on my screen (not that I don't love teal, when the knitted project is ACTUALLY teal...) At some point I learned that setting white balance might help with this. I didn't know how to do that with my camera and then forgot to figure it out.

Until a few days ago, when I was messing around and stumbled upon it completely by accident.

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Here is the first of my lumpy, unblocked Devon socks, by Cookie A, looking kind of colour accurate. At least, they look accurate on my monitor. Your mileage may vary. How is it different from before? I think it looks a lot less blue than my original picture of the yarn, even with all the attempted colour correction in photoshop:

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The yarn, with no white balance adjustment: most of the yellower greens don't show up. Also the light is shining on the yarn in an annoying way, but never mind.

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Anyway, this is pretty exciting. It may not solve all my colour problems, but I'm glad I figured it out, and I feel a little dumb for not knowing about this feature on my camera, even though I've had it for a few years. I have a Canon Powershot A590IS - if you do too, like me have lost the instruction manual, and are looking for the white balance, it's available when you set the camera to manual (M on the wheel at the top). The second icon down the lefthand side of the display, underneath ISO, gives you various options including "custom," which lets you set the white balance. Hurray!

The first sock went pretty quickly, and I made sure to cast-on for the second straight away to impede second-sock-syndrom. Better (blocked/modeled) photos to follow when I get this one done!

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Shawl Angst

A while back I was pretty excited about starting my wedding shawl. When I got engaged I thought I'd use this opportunity to knit something kind of epic that I'd never think of wearing for some other occasion. This is my perfect chance to dive into some ridiculously complicated lace, I thought - I can do it! I have the time, and the skills or at least the cocky stupidity! I have a whole queue of gorgeous lace shawls to choose from, and a skein of exciting yarn to knit with. I'd narrowed it down to rectangular stoles or semi-circular shawls.

Let me confess that I haven't yet started my shawl. I haven't even chosen a pattern. While I've managed to be fairly low key about most of the wedding planning so far, bride madness has struck on the subject of my wedding shawl. I find myself scrolling through all the beautiful patterns on ravelry thinking, "ooh I like this... but is it special enough to be my wedding shawl?" This has got to stop. Who knows, it might be warm enough on the day that I won't even want to wear it - though this seems extremely unlikely for an outdoor ceremony in April in Scotland.

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Fyberspates Scrumptious Lace, with my pearls (please excuse re-used photo)

I know it's not worth my stressing about it. I want to make a beautiful object, and I will... but I seem to be waiting to have a "shawl moment" - you know how some brides try on a dress and have some kind of spiritual experience and just know that is THE DRESS? Well, I didn't have one of those moments for my dress, and never expected to. And yet, I appear to be waiting for such a moment while scrolling through shawl patterns.

Talking with a knitter friend about my madness recently, she asked me what I want to get out of this shawl business. Obviously I'm building it up a bit too much. I thought about it and concluded that I want my shawl to be impressive. Impressive to me. I want to be impressed with myself for knitting this object, although I know that non-knitters won't truly understand the effort/time/skill/madness that has gone into it. Many of the shawl patterns in my queue fit this criteria for me, so it shouldn't be a problem. And yet I'm still indecisive.

Here are the other criteria:
-Lace-weight or easily subbed for lace-weight yarn
-Will use up to one skein of Fyberspates Scrumptious Lace (1000 m)
-Rectangular or semi-circular
-Lots of open lace, preferably with more than one lace pattern involved

(Though you'll note that some of the patterns I love in my "maybe wedding" queue don't follow those criteria at aaaaalll.)

What think you, knitters? Can you talk me down from my madness and convince me to just get on with it? Do you have a pattern recommendation?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Full days

Hello blogosphere! Working part-time is kicking my butt. I thought I was more resilient, but after working only 20 hours this week, I'm down with an annoying noisy cold. Lame! Who knew that suddenly breaking out of hermitude would expose me to lots of other people's germs. Ah well, I'm glad to have the job for now, and it's been going pretty well for the week I've been working. The people are friendly and helpful, the work is varied, the staff discount is pretty good...

The Man put a damper on an otherwise enjoyable week when I received a thinly veiled threat from the manager yesterday that I won't last long if I don't sell more credit cards to old ladies. Nice. Did I mention I've only been there a week? And I spent my entire last shift banished from the shop floor in a stock room unpacking boxes? (i.e. not interacting with any customers, so not selling any credit cards). I suspect the manager gave this vague warning to all the new temps, since I don't think I'm the only one in this situation. Still. Intimidation tactics don't really motivate me, as much as I'm desperate for the paycheck - I just feel slightly annoyed at the management / the entire capitalist system, really. I'm often annoyed at the system, so that's nothing new. (Perhaps retail is the wrong industry for me. Ya think? :P). Meh. Here's hoping they keep me on until my contract ends in January, so I can have a few pennies in my pocket until then.

Friday, November 04, 2011

WIP: more socks

I got the Sock Innovation book by Cookie A as a gift last Christmas, and thought it would be good to actually start on a project from it before this year's gift-giving festivals. Here's my Devon sock so far.

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For this one I've broken out the dpns and gone for one at a time. I'd forgotten how quickly a single sock can knit up this way! Haha. It's a pretty fun pattern so far, and surprisingly intuitive. The pattern doesn't lend itself to Two-At-A-Time knitting, since it involves poaching some stitches from previous rounds, etc - plus I think I'd get pretty confused, but we'll see how I feel when it comes to starting sock #2.

I have to respectfully disagree with the book that this sock pattern is great for variegated yarns, though. This yarn was supposed to be semi-solid when I dyed it, but turned out more variegated, and now I fear it's a little too busy. I can't quite make up my mind about it, though, so I keep knitting... It probably doesn't help that pre-blocked lace looks pretty terrible most of the time.

ETA: these are socks for me, not presents with a looming deadline - sorry if that was unclear! I just wanted to use my Christmas present at least once before Christmas rolls around again :)

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Tis the season for orange food

Halloween kind of passed me by this year. Last year I went to see people being reckless with fire on the Royal Mile, but this year I sat at home and did nothing much. I didn't even buy any discounted candy afterwards. Kind of sad, since I used to love Halloween. I did, however, make some delightful orange-coloured soup yesterday, and ate the leftovers for lunch today. Although there was no squash or pumpkin involved in this soup, the orangeness of it was very seasonal, I thought.

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Carrot and Lentil Soup

Don't let the lumpy blobs put you off - it was delicious, really!

I vaguely followed the recipe for Lusciously Lemony Lentil Soup on Mommie Cooks, which I've used before to similarly delicious results. Main changes to the recipe were leaving out the tomato paste, leaving out the lemon, using red lentils, and using vegetable stock instead of chicken. Oh, and adding a handful of chickpeas I had leftover from something else. Also completely disregarding any proportions of carrot to lentil. Perhaps I can't really claim I followed the recipe at all. Haha. I topped it off with a blob of plain yogurt for contrast, but if I hadn't done that it would have been vegan. I went through a phase of making lots of lentil soup last winter, but I never bothered whizzing it with a hand blender, since I didn't have one yet. (And I like chunky, textured soups). My dude prefers smooth soups, so we have been making those a bit more often since getting the hand blender, and I'll admit I do like how the red lentils and carrots combine to make a creamy texture. The chickpeas help, too.

Friday, October 28, 2011

FO: Team Sweden Socks

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Pattern: Fleegle's Toe-Up No-Flap No-Hassle socks, sort of.

Yarn: 100g / 437 m 75% wool, 25% nylon, hand-dyed by me. I had about 25 g left over - can you say hexipuffs?

Notes:

I cast-on 24 stitches with Judy's Magic Cast-on and increased to 60 stitches. I should have increased more or used a larger needle, since as I went along my gauge got a tighter, so the socks are a bit snug. I'll see what happens once I wash them, since I didn't block them.

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I initially intended to use Priscilla Wild's no-hole shortrow heel from the Lifestyle socks, since I suspected the Fleegle heel wouldn't play nice with the self-striping yarn. This heel looks lovely, and did in fact have no-holes - a first for shortrow heels with me. It's an excellent choice if this kind of heel fits you, but you hate wrap&turn shortrows. However, as much as I tried, it didn't fit me. I ripped it out and tried again about 3 times, having lengthened the foot, moved things around, etc... but to no avail. That's it, I'm done with shortrow heels when I knit socks for me. Blast my giant insteps. After frogging the heel so many times, I got fed up and frogged the socks in a fit of rage. I usually do anything to avoid starting over, but this time it was cathartic.

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After all the frustration and frogging, the final incarnation of the socks went pretty quickly. I love the Fleegle heel. Love it. It's tidy, easy, there are no wrapt&turns, and no picking up stitches. As you can see, it did change the stripes a bit, particularly on the instep, but I don't mind. The fit around my heel is excellent, and I will definitely use this again for toe-up socks.

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I didn't do any special stretchy bind-off, since I usually find I bind off loosely enough... but this time everything was running tighter than usual, and I think a stretchier bind-off would have been a good idea. Oh well. I can still get them on, and they'll probably stretch out more over time. If not, I'll redo the bind-off at some point.

This yarn is a test for the durability of food-colouring-dyed yarn. I am almost positive it won't run, since it didn't when I washed it post-dyeing, but part of me is still a little nervous that I'll end up with greenish-brown stripes after the first wash. We'll see!

See more FOs at Tami's Amis!

p.s. I got a job! A temporary seasonal low-paying Christmas job, but a job nonetheless. Permission to feel like a productive member of capitalist society, for a few weeks at least :P

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

not good enough

The last little while, every time I go to blog I end up wanting to vent dissatisfaction and frustration, so rather than fill this space with more negativity, I haven't posted. This blog is a personal blog as well as a crafty one, so I don't feel the need to keep my feelings and personality out of it as a rule. That said, when my thoughts are tending towards self-loathing rather than my usual cheerfully sarcastic look at my own faults, I stop and try not to flood the blog with it. I figure, nobody else wants to read that, and I'm not sure it even helps my state of mind to air it. On the off-chance it does help, and because I'm tired of censoring myself right now, here are some scattered thoughts.

It's a bad time to be mediocre, if there ever was a good time for it. I'm generally okay with my own failings, and treat them with the aforementioned cheerful sarcasm. I've never needed or wanted to be The Best at anything, objectively. I am good at many things, and as my blog title implies, I think I'm good enough at most things I work hard at; however, good enough isn't good enough right now.

On the other hand, I have generally had success in life so far, possibly due to privilege, possibly due to family support, possibly due to factors beyond my control, possibly due to my own skills. I think this is why my constant failure to get paid employment hurts me so much, other than the obvious financial burden of being unemployed. Perhaps I have some misplaced sense of entitlement; I've always been passably good at things, and even successful at them, so why can't I get hired now? Why do I suddenly have to be the very best? I have never failed so consistently in my life, and it doesn't feel great. I can hope that my experiences now will serve to kill that sense of entitlement so I can look on my situation more objectively and maybe make some changes for the better. I'm becoming increasingly convinced that I am far from good enough at the things that matter right now, i.e. being employable. The standard of good enough has gone up. There are so many people out of work that only the most brilliant get noticed. I resent that I have to exaggerate my good points to prove myself to faceless companies that proceed to ignore me anyway. I resent that none of the things I've tried so far have worked. Although I know there will always be more things to try and other avenues to explore, I resent that I have to pursue all those other routes. I am tired of trying, even though I haven't tried all the things. Resentment isn't helpful or rational, but it is still clinging to me as my dominant feeling through this process.

I had a job interview last week, a phone interview yesterday, and I'm going to an assessment centre this afternoon - more responses to my job applications than I've had in a while. This has to be a good thing, and I'm trying to be excited about it. Even a minimum wage retail seasonal Christmas job would be awesome. However, it's hard to stay enthusiastic about pretending to be the best when so few positives seem to come through at the end.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

In reverse

It was time. Liesl, the little lacey cardigan that served me well for so long, has retired. It was getting shapeless, stretched out, and scruffy; a cardigan for wearing around the house only, these days. The yarn itself looked okay, so I decided to reclaim it for a future knit. A bit sad to say goodbye, but I'm glad I can recycle the yarn into something new!

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Things I learned while unraveling a well-worn, completed sweater

I am better at weaving in ends than I thought.
This yarn has terrible yardage, or maybe it was just full of knots, or both - I don't remember what I was thinking when I knit it, but there were some surprisingly short lengths of yarn in there that I'll probably have to discard when I knit it up again. I may be getting more impatient with yarn faults as I age...

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I can't remember why I decided to sew the buttons on backwards, now that I can see their fronts again. A handful of reclaimed buttons is inspiring.

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Good bye Liesl. See the cardigan in its former glory, back in 2008.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

hearty soup

I said summer never came to Scotland this year, but almost as soon as I said it the UK had a "heatwave." Well, autumn is reasserting itself after a few warm days. Today I was glad to remember I had some soup already made, just waiting in the freezer for a cold, drizzly evening. Even better, I took pictures when I first made it, perhaps thinking I would blog about it before now, so I wasn't tempted to wrestle with my camera in the dark.

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Okay, so I never said it was an appetizing picture. It was delicious, honest!

This is Mushroom Barley Soup from the Tall Grass Kitchen. It was tasty the first time, and just as tasty after defrosting, although the carrots disintegrated a little. No worries. I also added broccoli this time, since everything is better with broccoli. (Oh, I'm the only one who thinks this? Haha. Ah well.)

I found the recipe while browsing Gojee.com, a recipe aggregator website that I discovered not too long ago. Although it does some things that other recipe sites also do, such as sorting recipes by ingredients you already have, I love the presentation on Gojee - gigantic, delicious photos for each recipe possibility. Food Pr0n.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

WIP: more hexes

It's been a while since I did WIP Wednesday, so today I'll show you my beekeeper quilt progress.

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There are now 14 Hexipuffs in the basket, or would be if I had a basket to put them in. It looks like nearly enough for a seat cushion, in case I abandon the blanket plan and settle for something a little smaller. I still love making the hexes, though, so I'm going to keep going! It's turning out rather garish - I may need to find some more neutrals to put in between the neon greens and pinks....

The next hexes I make will be striped, since I now have some scraps that aren't quite enough for an entire hex each.

Check out more WIPs at Tami's Amis

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Holiday snap wrap-up

It seems that I've become an escapist. I had such a great time on holiday, blissfully ignoring real life responsibilities, and I hoped to hold on to my care-free happy mood long after I left the Italian sun behind. Fail. I'm finding my mind and body extremely reluctant to get back to real life - i.e. pounding the pavement distributing my CV (literally and electronically). Have I mentioned I hate jobhunting? I have? Every single day and it's getting repetive? Right, moving on. :P

Anyway. Here are some more photos, in an attempt to hold onto holiday feeling while simultaneously accomplishing real things.

We took a day-trip to Siena on a whim, and I'm so glad we went. Siena is much smaller and quieter than Florence - there are small, narrow streets and alleys in both places, but somehow in Siena we could duck into these and find silence, rather than the constant whine of scooters.

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Browns in Siena

Where Florence was dramatic and full of contrast, Siena was more subtle.

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Strategically placed to dominate the view

And not without awesome details.

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The walls have faces

In Pisa, we once again paid loads of money (€15, gack) to climb up a tall tower, and once again I was surprised at the colourful marble inlayed around the outside. There has been so much restoration done on this thing that it's practically brand new. Still rather impressive, though!

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Yeah, it leans.
Pisa is weird in that all the tourists seem to go straight to the leaning tower, and leave the rest of the town rather empty. We had fun poking around the back streets, too, seeing what the rest were missing.

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I'm a sucker for cool doors

Monday, September 26, 2011

Picture time

You want to see more photos of my trip? I'm happy to oblige... I took an obscene amount, since everything was so beautiful.

Huge cathedrals like the Duomo in Florence fascinate me. Something that surprised me about the Duomo was how colourful it was on the outside. I'd seen pictures, but until I saw it up close it had never really registered in my brain how many different colours of marble pattern the outside. Also, the fact that it is packed into the city so tightly,means one can't back up far enough to take a good picture of it from the ground. Somehow this adds to its impressiveness.

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Colourful Duomo

I liked it not only for the monumental architecture, but also for the details. This is my favourite from the outside:

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The "Seriously? SERIOUSLY??" Angel, on the outside of the Duomo

Although the hugeness of these buildings impedes decent photography from ground level, there are plenty of high places to climb up for a wider view. We climbed up to the top of the cupola of the Duomo, as show in my previous post, which was fantastic (and cost €8 each, if anyone is counting), but to get a great view of the Duomo one has to climb something else.

On the other side of the Arno river, we climbed a hill to the Piazzale Michelangelo (which was free, haha), and got these views.

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The Duomo in full view

I spent a lot of time trying to capture Florence from a distance and from above. It's fascinating up close, too, but somehow I couldn't get enough of these views.

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View of the bridges of Florence from the Piazzale Michelangelo

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Adventures

I've been away.

For one blissful week I traded this:

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The last vestiges of Hurricane Katia hitting Scotland

for this:

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View of Florence from the top of the Duomo

Ahhh. It was amazing. I happen to like cold weather / winter, but it was so lovely to experience some proper hot weather and sun while in Italy. (Summer never really happened in Edinburgh this year, if it ever does). I was obsessive about the sunscreen and didn't get sunburned, which is a miracle. I did get some new freckles, though.

Our main stop was Florence, but we also spent some time in Siena and Pisa. I've wanted to go to Florence for years - to be honest, I should have gone a few years ago when my brain was still in university mode and I was filled with random knowledge about the Renaissance, art, and famous Florentines. I found myself wandering around trying to decipher plaques about things I used to know about, wishing I remembered... Still, I started re-reading The Divine Comedy in preparation, and it got me back in the mood.

We spent most of our trip climbing up things, looking at the view, climbing down, eating gelato, paying exorbitant ticket prices... repeat. Despite the fact that the ticket prices always seemed to be more than I'd come up with in my research, everything was wonderful and enjoyable. Also, I'm not being ironic when I say that Florence has imposed a tax on tourists, which we didn't know about before we went. (Not that it should stop anyone from going!). Siena was significantly cheaper all round - probably because it isn't as big a tourist destination.

I didn't do very much knitting, nor did I check out the yarn stores... although I did accidently stumble upon yarn being sold in small shops that mostly sold underwear and tights, so that was interesting!

Anyway. I'm home now, and ready for real life again. Job-hunting starts again on Monday. Hurray! Er.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

FO: Honeybees and Raspberries

I have a new cardigan at last.

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Pattern: Honeybee Cardigan by Laura Chau

Yarn: Regia Color 4-ply

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Notes:
This project was full of firsts for me, which is great since I've fallen into comfortable knitting and don't often try new crazy things.

First time doing lace worked on both sides

The lace pattern was tricky at first. Not only are there no resting purl rows, but there is also madness involving dropping multiple yarnovers... Laura Chau provides excellent instructions for the crazy parts - including photos. Although I never thought I would, I eventually memorized the lace pattern, and it was smooth knitting from there. Awesome.

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First time doing seamless set-in sleeves

This was relatively painless, and I can see why everyone's doing these. I don't know how these ones compare to others as they are written, but I really like how they fit. The only thing that's kind of weird is how to reconcile the lace pattern with decreases. In the first half of the sleeve decreases part of the pattern, Laura Chau dictates exactly what to do step by step for every size, which probably took a lot of work. It was my impression that later on the instructions got less clear and occasionally misleading - I think I got lured into a false sense of unthinking security before. Whatever, it worked out.

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First time doing i-cord bind-off

I-cord bind-off is brilliant. It finishes the neckband / collar so beautifully. I love it. Except it takes FOREVER. I spent almost an entire evening at knitting group binding off the thing! Anyway, it looks great, and I'd do it again with the foreknowledge that it won't be quick.

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The cardigan turned out a little short. I have a long torso, so I always add length to my sweaters, and I'm almost positive I did for this one as well.... but it's possible I didn't. The body section spent a little time sitting in a pile at home while I worked on the sleeves, since they are more portable; maybe I forgot to add length and assumed I had finished the body completely since I had started the sleeves? I don't know. It sounds like something I would do. Anyway, it's a bit short, but having worn it around for a few days I don't really mind it. It'd be good with dresses, I think. Maybe I should get some dresses. Ha.

Also, the raspberry colour was a bit of a wildcard. I haven't worn magenta since I was 7, or maybe before that. I abandoned pink early on and never looked back, to be honest. I bought the yarn super cheap on sale and couldn't resist, despite the colour. (And it is pink, despite what your monitor/the photos may show. Not purple. Not red. Dark magenta pink.) And you know what? I kind of like it. My usual problem with pink is that my face is already super pink most of the time - I don't need to look any pinker! As you may be able to tell, all these photos were taken with self-timer, the camera resting on a pile of miscellaneous household objects to achieve height.... and I couldn't get any with my face in them, so you'll just have to take my word for it. I guess the raspberry colour is dark enough that it doesn't make me look extra pink.

So. Now that I have this lacey cardigan, I want a whole lot more light weight lacey sweaters. Most of my sweaters are DK or Aran weight, so I think having a few in fingering weight would be really useful for layering purposes. I know I'll wear this a lot. The trouble is, making a fingering weight sweater takes me ages - I started this one in April - but I think if I'm more focused I could cut down the time. (I also spent a little time avoiding this one, if I'm honest.)

Friday, September 09, 2011

mini-skeins of doom

I have loads of sock/fingering weight leftovers that will eventually become parts of my Beekeeper's Quilt. In some cases, I can get three or more hexipuffs out of a pile of scrap, but for now I've decided that I don't want to make more than two from each colour. What to do with the leftovers once I've made two hexipuffs? Since I can't pass up the opportunity to dye yarn, I've dyed some mini-skeins.

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The top and bottom mini-skeins were originally a minty-green colour - yarn I used for my Selbu Modern. The top one I dyed with Wiltons Leaf Green and the bottom with Wiltons Black. Wiltons black is supposed to be a tricky food colouring to dye with, since application of acid (necessary for the dye to set) makes it split into its constituent colours, aka "breaking." I was actually quite excited to "break" black here... but as you can see I failed miserably. This is pretty solid black. Haha. Oh well.

My favourite is the bluish one in the middle. I would happily make a sweater out of this colour! It was originally neon green yarn from my Twisted socks. I overdyed it with Wiltons Royal Blue. The picture below is a bit closer to the actual colour.

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The neon green glows through from the core, while the outer fibres took on blue and purple. One day maybe I'll try to replicate this effect on purpose. I'd love to have a whole skein of sock yarn of this. (Or even more, for the aforementioned sweater.)

In any case, I'm excited to inject some different wild colours into my hex quilt.

(Oh, and in that last picture, note a soon-to-be revealed FO blocking... :D)

Monday, September 05, 2011

run run ran

You'd be forgiven for suspecting that my conspicuous silence of the topic of running means I've given up.

Not so! Although a took some time off running during August while spending all day at the fringe festival, I haven't given up. In fact, I'm inclined to say I've succeeded. That may be premature - I won't do the final workout of the Couch to 5K until Wednesday, going by my current schedule, but I've made it to 30 minutes of non-stop running. If you can call my slow shuffling jog "running." Never mind. I'm pleased with myself for getting this far, even though I still have to force myself to go running.

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I had a break through of sorts with my brain, which has helped my progress. My brain (or my shoulder devil, or whatever) likes to tell me I'm too tired to continue, that I've run far enough for one day, and various other discouraging things as I huff and puff along. The realisation that I ran for X minutes two days before, and can therefore do it again today has really helped me fend off the discouraging thoughts. It's just a tiny, simple fact, but somehow it was a breakthrough. Ah, I like outsmarting my brain.

Now that I can run for 30 minutes, I need to figure out how far I'm actually going in that time - I suspect it isn't as far as 5K given the aforementioned slow shuffle. From there, I'll have to start setting new goals. First step will be trying to achieve a 30-min 5K, if it turns out my 30 minute run isn't already 5K. I'm also thinking about adding some hill training to my workouts, since my current route is fairly flat. Onwards and upwards!

Friday, September 02, 2011

exciting yarny developments

I bought yarn for my wedding shawl and it arrived yesterday. In fact, I bought a wedding dress a few weeks ago, but more on the dress when it gets here in a few months. (Hint - it's not white/ivory). Choosing the dress precipitated the mad yarn fancying. As if I needed to spend more time ogling pretty yarns.

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I chose undyed Fyberspates Scrumptious Lace. I've wanted to try Fyberspates yarn for a while now, and this seemed like a good opportunity. (Fyberspates has such gorgeous colours that I felt a bit silly ordering undyed yarn on this occasion, but there will be more yarn-buying opportunities.) Scrumptious is 45% silk and 55% merino - soft and lustrous, and slightly fancier than the average yarn, in my opinion. I have to say, it's not as soft as I expected it to be in the skein - I think when I heard 45% silk my brain shut off in expectation of something impossibly luxurious. Reality doesn't compare. Nonetheless, it's gorgeous yarn and I'm looking forward to knitting it up.

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It goes nicely with my pearls, too. Bonus.

I haven't chosen a pattern yet. As you may recall, I have a lengthy list of possibilities picked out, but wanted to defer decision until after I got a dress. Now that I've picked a dress, I have to re-evaluate. I didn't realise this until afterwards, but it turns out that I was considering my original list of shawls in light of a coloured shawl. Not sure why, since I was never set on getting a white dress, but I had this picture in my mind of a white dress and coloured shawl. Now that I've chosen a non-white dress and decided to do a whiteish shawl, I'm having a hard time imagining those other shawls on me in white. (Even though others have knitted them in white and posted pictures.) I guess I have some sort of mental block about it. Also, I picked a lot of less traditional, more edgy looking shawls in the first round, and now I'm inexplicably drawn towards some more leafy/floral patterns such as the Raspberry Dream Stole or even Spring Leaves. I don't know. Anyway, I've opened up the shawl queue again. I'm hoping that having the yarn in hand will inspire me towards a decision soon so I can get to it!

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One more pic of the pretty. :)