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. :)

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Heehee

Check it out.

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I've got four! Hehe.

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Four! Four little squishy, mishapen hexagons! (In my head I said that in the Count's voice, of course.)