Thursday, March 31, 2011

Where are they now? - 2KCBWDAY4


Write about the fate of a past knitting project. Whether it be something that you crocheted or knitted for yourself or to give to another person. An item that lives with you or something which you sent off to charity.

Last year I wrote about an item that has held up really well to lots of wear. Today, I'll talk about something that hasn't held up quite so well.

I finished my unicorn barf Skew socks in June 2010, in the heat of summer. As such, they didn't get much wear right away.

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Skew, as of summer 2010

I've worn them a bit this past winter, but they look much worse than they should.

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Skew, now

The yarn has fuzzed and faded considerably. The fading is probably my own fault. I dyed the yarn with easter egg dyes - it was my first time handpainting, and maybe the dye didn't set properly in the microwave. The yarn I used was Elann Sock It To Me 4 Ply.

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I also dyed some of this yarn neon green, but I'm a bit afraid to use it for socks if it's going to wear this badly. Knitting is a constant learning experience, and I know what not to do for next time.

For more Knitting and Crochet Blog Week posts, search 2KCBWDAY4.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Embellish the Story - 2KCBWDAY3 / 2KCBWDAY8


Embellishments come in all types and forms. Some are more than purely decorative and form a practical function – pretty buttons are as much part of holding a garment together as mere decoration, and some are just there to give a piece an extra ‘something’. Blog about an embellishment, be it a zipper, amigurumi eyes or applique patch which you are either saving to use or have in the past used to decorate a project with. Write about whether you are a very minimalist kind of knitter with classic lines and timeless plain knits or whether you love all the bells and whistles or sticking sewing and otherwise attaching decoration to your pieces.

I've chosen the wildcard topic for today because I neither have tidy stitches nor a tidy mind.

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These buttons were a birthday gift from a good friend. They're pretty awesome and crazy, but what do I do with them? Truth be told, I'm a really boring dresser. I'm a bit scared to use wild buttons, thinking they might be distracting, or make the garment less versatile. This is probably also why I find myself drawn to monochromatic colour combinations. When confronted with crazy buttons, I want to put them in the button box to stare at longingly, but I'm stumped when it comes to using them.

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Still, I really want to use these buttons for something and break out of my boring button use. Ten buttons is enough for a cardigan, and the buttons are large enough that I'd probably use a worsted/aran weight yarn to match. But what colour? What pattern?

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Ack, didn't realize how dusty the table was until just now. Oops.

What should I do with these buttons? What would you use them for?

For more Knitting and Crochet Blog Week posts, search 2KCBWDAY3.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

2KCBWDAY2: Skill +1UP


Look back over your last year of projects and compare where you are in terms of skill and knowledge of your craft to this time last year. Have you learned any new skills or forms of knitting/crochet (can you crochet cable stitches now where you didn’t even know such things existed last year? Have you recently put a foot in the tiled world of entrelac? Had you even picked up a pair of needles or crochet hook this time last year?

Learning how to knit socks two-at-a-time with magic loop was probably the most significant / awesome upgrade to my knitting knowledge in the last year or so. This technique has significantly increased my desire to knit socks, and I love having both socks finished at the same time. No second-sock syndrome? Woot.

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Okay so these are mitts, but the principle is the same.

While the technique isn't ideal for all sock patterns, it works for lots of them. Patterns that involve shifting stitches around a lot don't work so well by virtue of the constraints of magic loop. I think it is easiest for socks that can be divided in half - so, the front half of the leg/foot is on one side of the magic loop and the back half is on the other. Also, it's extremely fiddly at first, and the yarn will get tangled at some point. Maybe many times.

I actually like knitting with DPNs, but I find magic loop more convenient for portable projects. It really helps to have a circular needle with a long, flexible cable, though - I mainly use Hiya Hiyas for two-at-a-time knitting, and I like them a lot. (disclaimer: they didn't pay me to say that!)

If you are interesting in trying it, here are some tutorials I found helpful:

Knitting Giraffe's Magic Loop 2-at-a-time Tutorial (for top-down socks)
Silver's Two Toe-Up Socks on One Circular Needle Tutorial

This technique works for things other than socks, too! (see photo above).

For more Knitting and Crochet Blog Week posts, search for 2KCBWDAY2.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Yarns I have Loved/Loathed

Today begins Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2011, and our topic is yarn.


This one is tricky for me, since I haven't had any truly strong negative reactions to yarn in a while. There are lots of yarns I like, and many I'm mostly indifferent to, but I had to dig deep into my knitting past to come up with a truly awful yarn experience. It turns out that in my early days as a serious knitter I made a lot of unfortunate yarn choices; looking at some of my early ravelry projects makes me wince.

What was I thinking? or, Yarn I Loathe
In 2006, I acquired a lot of cheap sale yarn from a craft store in the neighbourhood that was going out of business. I was just starting to get back into knitting in a serious way, and I was figuring it out as I went along. (Not that this is a bad way of approaching learning!) This was before Ravelry, so I didn't have the yarn database at my disposal.

Hence, my foray into using Bernat Denim Style. This is an acrylic yarn plied with cotton that I'm sure has some uses, but the following is not one of them.

picovoli

I made Picovoli, a cute tee by Grumperina. This was a bad idea. First of all, the yarn is aran weight and the pattern calls for DK. I thought I was being clever and made a smaller size to compensate - this only sort of worked. Secondly, the colour is pretty terrible on me. Beige streaked with white? What was I thinking. Anyway, the pattern is awesome, and maybe one of these days I'll attempt it again, but in this yarn it quickly became mishapen. I tried wearing it a few times as a t-shirt and as a vest. It wasn't great for next-to-the-skin wear because the acrylic made me sweat and didn't let the moisture escape easily. Gross. In any case, this was a lesson in inappropriate yarn choice for a given project.

But enough negativity.

Now I Gush about Yarn I Love
There are so many yarns I adore in varying fibres and price ranges.

It is no secret that I love Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend - the softness, the drape, the gorgeous colours whether semi-solid or variegated... Ah. I could go on. Because this yarn is not very hard-wearing, I don't think I'll ever make a sweater with it. However, I've decided I want everything I wrap around my neck to be this soft, so I've made two scarf-like things with it.

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The first, pictured above, was My So-Called Scarf by Allison Isaacs. It's tricky to find stitch patterns that do the constantly changing colours of this yarn justice, but this pattern is brilliant for variegated yarns. More recently, I made my Danube Cowl (pattern forthcoming, etc etc plug plug) with a semi-solid colourway.

I haven't made these yet, but I think the Honey Cowl and Holding Hands, Feeding Ducks scarf look great in the variegated version of this yarn as well. In my queue!

2KCBWDAY1

Friday, March 25, 2011

FO: Textured Yoke Cardigan With a Long Undescriptive Name

The brown blob / devil's tower is now a brown cardigan!

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Pattern: 113-17 jacket with raglan sleeve and pattern on yoke etc etc etc by DROPS design

Yarn: Rowan Pure Wool Aran

Mods:
-Cast on 11 fewer stitches and omitted garter stitch button bands
-Picked up 98 stitches each side for 2x2 rib button bands afterwards
-Replaced seed stitch edges, neckline, and cuffs with 2x2 ribbing
-Replaced p3tog section in the yoke with seed stitch
-Added some length in the torso
-Did 3-needle-bind-off to join live underarm stitches, rather than seaming
-Changed the top lace motif to be stockinette instead of garter stitch

Notes:
I ran out of yarn as I neared the top of the yoke. Alas, the new yarn I bought was a different dye lot. I alternated skeins for the rest of the yoke, but the button bands are done entirely in the new dye-lot, and it is noticeable if you look closely. (But not so in the photos.) I don't really mind, though.

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This pattern rewards determination. Basically, I love the finished product, but I didn't enjoy deciphering the instructions. This was my first attempt at a DROPS pattern, so that may be why I had some difficulty. Lots of people on ravelry have mentioned this pattern's idiosyncracies in their notes, so I was sort of prepared for it, but I'm glad the lazy side of me didn't win.

The chart makes sense in its own crazy way, but it wasn't written following the chart standards I'm familiar with. Since I am pretty used to reading charts by this point, I had a hard time wrapping my head around this one at the beginning. That makes me sound really set in my ways and a slave to the knitting establishment! Oops. What have I become?? Maybe I should be congratulating DROPS on their innovative approach to chart design. Anyway. There are also some weird terminology/translation issues, but with some thinking and trial-and-error it all worked out. In a way, it's good that this pattern made me think. I need to knit more things that require my brain!

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This would probably look better with waist or maybe back shaping. I suspect it's rumply in the back because there isn't any. Since I can't see myself from the back, I don't really mind - it fits really well otherwise.

There was a button mishap. I made the mistake of not watching when the clerk at the store counted out ten buttons for me. One of them was cracked and splitting, which I found out when I got home. Frustrated as I was, I considered taking them back, but laziness triumphed. I got over it by deciding I only needed nine buttons instead of ten. Problem solved.

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More FOs at Tami's Amis

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

You asked...

So I'm answering more of your questions from last time, even though I have a sneaking suspicion nobody really cares. But hey, it's a blog - I get to talk about myself sometimes. ;)

What's your favorite thing to blog about?
FOs! I enjoy compiling all my thoughts and notes about a project into one post. Since I’m a bit of a slow knitter, some of my projects take ages to finish, and after I’ve done one or maybe two posts about the WIP stage, I don’t feel like blogging about the project more until it’s done.

If you were to be able to own (not necessarily knit yourself) a life-size animal of yarn, which animal would you choose. One thing to consider: you must imagine that you will have to keep this yarn animal model in your house/flat, so though you may happily choose an elephant/giraffe, what size animal d you think you would like to look at most and also be able to traverse on your way to the bathroom/front door, etc.
I already have a life-sized knitted mouse named Horatio Nelson that lives on the bookshelf! He is small and sneaky enough, I think.

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Mousie

How do you like living in the UK and how would you compare it to living in Canada?
I like it here! I’m not sure how to make a comparison, really. Lots of things are strangely different, and lots of things are mostly the same; just when I think I’ve got things figured out, something comes up that I’ve never heard of, ever. Keeps me on my toes, I guess.

What inspired you to resume blogging?
That 2002 post in the archives is the only one I did before forgetting this blog existed, so I wouldn’t say I was a blogger at all back then. I used to use livejournal a lot, though, and I made the switch to blogger in 2008 (thereby rediscovering the blog I’d signed up for ages ago) because livejournal was making some changes I didn’t agree with, and I wanted to try something new. Because I mostly interacted with friends I knew in real life on livejournal, the switch to blogger necessitated a change in style/subject matter and it quickly became mostly about my main hobbies, rather than my personal life.

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What knitwear designs do you have in the works?
Haha. Other than the Danube Cowl (now up for testing), I hesitate to say I really have anything in the works, unless you count things floating around in my brain. I’m kind of obsessed with infinity scarf/cowl things at the moment, though, so even though the weather is getting warmer I might start working on some more of those.

What is your favorite type of fiber to knit with and why?
Right now I am really into wool-silk blends because they are so soft and shiny. Generally I love wool by itself, though.

Which knit/crochet designer do you find most inspiring?
Oh man. Jared Flood, Norah Gaughan, Snowden Becker, Hannah Fettig, Mari Muinonen, Cookie A... I can’t pick just one.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

We have a winner!

Thanks to everyone who commented on my blogiversary post. The random number generator came up with lucky number 13.

That is Hege! Congratulations. I am sending the zauberball your way!

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Now onto some questions you asked in the comments.

What is your favorite part about blogging?
I like writing, in my rambly way. Blogging gives me an outlet for informal writing that I particularly appreciated while in university spending all my time writing essays. Now that I’m out of school, blogging gives me an opportunity to write regularly full stop.

What is your favorite FO and why?
Probably my Vivian.

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This was a major challenge for me in 2009, and I love the result. I haven’t made something quite so ambitious since, so I think I’m due for another challenging, complex project.

What's your favourite colour?
My favourite colours rotate between greens, blues, and purples. Right now, GREEN. Bright, deep shades like the ones I can’t ever capture in photos, re: the zauberball. Does anyone have any tips for photo accurate greens? I do also love teal, even though all my photos of green things look teal by mistake...

Do you have a favorite online yarn store?
Not yet! I don’t buy that much yarn online, so I haven’t found a favourite online yarn shop so far. I often drool over hand-dyed yarn on etsy shops, though.

Which knitting blog do you most enjoy reading?
There are loads, as shown by my full blogroll sidebar. Here are a few I really enjoy consistently:
Needled – Not only beautiful knitwear designs, but fascinating investigations into textile history, exploring beautiful places, and personal recovery stories.
Brooklyn Tweed – this almost goes without saying, but Jared Flood’s photos and his design work is inspiring.
Mooncalf Makes – She always has something fun on the go: knitting, sewing, cross-stitch…

What advice can you offer someone new to blogging?
Er. Stick with it? Proofread! (Maybe this is a bit hypocritical of me since I am no stranger to typos, and I frequently use sentence fragments but… yeah, proofreading.) Engage with the blogging community. I'm pretty sure nobody read this thing until last year's Knitting and Crochet Blog Week. By the way, this year's KCBW is coming up soon, hint hint.


I'll be back with more of your questions tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Blogiversary!

Let's knock that ranty-pants post out of sight, shall we?

Today is my 3rd Blogiversary. Huzzah! I don't think I will ever get over the awkwardness of that word, but anyway. Blogiversary. Technically, I started this blog in 2002 (it was called crudmonkey back then), but I didn't get any further than that, and let it languish for years until I regained interest in 2008. And the rest is history?

It is customary to do something fun on one's blogiversary, so I'm having my first give-away. Win a beautiful green Zauberball in the colourway "summer meadow."

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A green Zauberball

Incidently, remember how I said my new spring mitts from last week aren't teal? This yarn isn't teal either, even though most of the photos turned out looking that way. Apparently I'm lousy at capturing emerald/forest greens. There's no sun today, which may have something to do with it. So don't be disappointed if you win and receive some decidedly not-teal yarn!

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With some photoshopping... still not quite the right colours

To enter, leave a comment with a question for me and some way I can contact you (ravelry ID, email address, etc). Give-away closes at 11:59 pm (GMT) on March 21st. Good luck!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Rethinking rejection

I got a phone call a while back that made me really hopeful my job search was coming to an end and that I'd soon have a 5-month contract working in my field. I sent off passport photocopies to prove my eligibility to work in this country, and I ticked boxes and signed forms. That seemed like a good sign. No other job I've applied for has made it to that stage. Alas, after waiting for over a week, I contacted the agency and was told they wanted someone with more experience. Fair enough. I'm in that between stage after being copiously over-educated but before starting a career where I'm not experienced enough to get jobs that will give me experience in my field so I can get jobs in my field. Unfortunately, I'm also apparently not experienced enough to get shitty temp work not in my field so I can make a little money and get health coverage while I'm at it. Whoever said that temping was a good way to get into the work force lied, or didn't have to deal with postings for data entry operators requiring 2-3 years experience in a similar role.

I am well aware that this is a shitty economy, and that lots of people are stuck in my situation, but I'm still pretty disappointed. Each rejection I get makes me rethink my approach, and I'm becoming convinced that I am going about it all wrong, although I'm not exactly sure how to fix it. I've got volunteer work, but I can't fill all my time with unpaid work if I want time for paid work...

Although the time for funemployment is long past, I need to start taking advantage of my free time and start having fun again between job applications. Preferably in the cheapest ways possible, since I don't have any income. With that, I pledge to go to more museums, wander around discovering more parts of the city I haven't seen yet, take lots of photos, go cycling, undertake epic baking experiments, put more knitting design ideas to paper, and generally spend less time feeling sorry for myself. Despite myself I've bought into the idea that I'm useless as long as I'm unemployed, and as I watch my savings dwindle, it's easy to feel that I'm inferior to others with more spending power. But that way lies madness, and if I continue with these thoughts the capitalists have won.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Did I say spring?

Cue the snow.

This morning we had a visitor. Please excuse blurry out-the-window shot.

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Our neighbour? I've seen more foxes since moving to Edinburgh than in my whole life.

 
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By the time I made it out to take this picture, the snow had turned to rain, but there were some good fluffy flakes going for a while.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Not much to say but spring

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Crocuses in the neighbourhood make me happy.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

WIP: mitts for spring

A glimpse of something new.

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I started some Calculation mitts with yarn leftover from my Herbivore scarf. Although the pattern calls for 50 g of fingering weight, and I only have 42 g, I'm cautiously hopeful I'll have enough. 42 is a pretty auspicious number after all.

This is the first time I've tried two-at-a-time for something that isn't socks, but I think it will be okay. The yarn is Sweet Paprika Messa di Voce in Emerald City: not actually teal, but more bright semi-solid forest green.

See more WIPs at Tami's blog

Thursday, March 03, 2011

cultural differences, or snack food education

When I first lived in the UK a few years ago, I didn't experience too much culture shock, but I expect everyone around me got tired of hearing about the little differences there were. Now that I live with an English dude, I often find out about little differences that I didn't stumble upon on my own before. This seems to happen most often with food.

For example, this evening I read Smitten Kitchen's blog post about home made goldfish crackers. Remembering these cheerful snacks fondly, I exclaimed something to the effect of, "This blogger has a recipe for goldfish crackers! That's awesome!"

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The outburst was met by a blank look from my fiancé.

"You know, goldfish crackers. They are cheesey and shaped like fish? Did you never have those as a kid?"

"No. Are they like Wotsits?"

"What are Wotsits?"

etc.

In a similar way, I've learned about eggy soldiers, Twiglets, jelly and ice cream, (ew, seriously, ew) and a host of other foodstuffs I can't call to mind right now. Likewise, I introduced him to poutine, beaver tails, and whatever rubbishy snacks I had as a kid. He put up with my moaning about the lack of readily available good peanut butter, until I found a suitably virtuous (no added salt, no added sugar) version at the health food store. Peanut butter is serious business. Anyway.

We're both a bit puzzled by some of the traditional Scottish things that show up on menus, though. Cullen Skink anyone?

(Not that there is anything puzzling about the soup in itself - it's the name that puzzled me!)

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

On chocolate

First, I want to thank everyone for their encouraging comments on my first maybe-pattern last week. I've put it up for testing on the Free Pattern Testers group on ravelry, tentatively called the Danube cowl. If you're interested in testing, go check it out there!

But what I really want to talk about today is chocolate. (So what else is new).

I may not have mentioned here, but February was a chocolate-free month for me. While I'm sure I've gone a month without chocolate before in my life, this was sort of a big deal because in February there's Valentine's day and my birthday, and a proliferation of chocolate eating opportunities. Needless to say, I enjoy chocolate, and might be a bit of a chocoholic. It's my "sweet" of choice, though it's even better when it isn't sweet. I could do without milk chocolate most of the time, to be honest. Give me the dark stuff.

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The dramatic-looking chocolate that broke my fast today. It wasn't even very good.

I decided to quit chocolate in solidarity with my dear who gave up cheese for a while, but also because I wanted chocolate to be a special thing again. I was eating too much of it, and it no longer seemed like a treat. And you know, it's not actually good for you - whatever the chocolatiers say about its healthful properties, I'm fairly sure the saturated fat isn't brilliant in excessive quantities.

Anyway. I did it. I made it through a month without chocolate. Psychologically, I think my mission to do without brought on more cravings at first. After a while it wasn't even that difficult, though. I did receive a thoughtful gift of some chocolate about two weeks ago that I had to hide in the closet out of view...

Today I ate one of those gift chocolates, and it was kind of disappointing. Maybe that's a good thing, though. Oh yeah, chocolate. It's just a food, nothing more. A sometimes-food.