Monday, December 17, 2012

FO: Classic Raglan (FINALLY)

Look what I finally finished!

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Needless to say, I didn't finish it while it was still November. However, I'm proud that it only took about a week longer than it was supposed to. Full length sleeves take forever. Perhaps I subconsciously knew that when I skimped on yarn on my last few sweaters and ended up with 3/4 or half sleeves.

Pattern: Ladies' Classic Raglan Pullover, by Jane Richmond.

Yarn: New Lanark Aran

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Mods: I added about 3 inches of length in the body and 1 inch on the sleeves. Adding sleeve length was an accident, but it seems I have long arms because they fit fine. I also used twisted rib instead of normal 1x1 rib for the cuffs, neckband, and hem. The pattern is easy to follow and infinitely customizable.

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I think I put the waist shaping in slightly the wrong place for me. (That is down to laziness on my part). If I make another one, I might go down a size for a closer fit, but this size will be very useful to me as well. As it is, the sweater is super comfy and very warm. I'm actually surprised by how comfortable it is. Since the yarn isn't the softest, I thought it might be a bit itchy next to the skin, but it isn't! In the photos I'm wearing a t-shirt underneath, and I continued to wear it that way for the rest of the day with no complaints. I suspect my skin is kind of tough, though - take what I say about yarn scratchiness with that in mind. I bet it wouldn't be so awesome against my neck.

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The yarn is amazing. The depth and complexity of colour is gorgeous. It is sturdy, so I have high hopes that it will be very durable. At first it was a bit hard on my hands - it isn't as elastic as some wool yarns - but I soon got used to it. I am already planning to make my next sweater with it. So far this sweater is a win!

Friday, November 23, 2012

FO: Gavotte

Whether or not I finish my November sweater before December 1, at least I can say I completed one sweater this month. So I started it in September - minor details.

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Formerly known as the Green Blob, here is my Gavotte. The pattern is by Cecily Glowik MacDonald, who probably needs no introduction. This is the second pattern of hers I've knitted, the first being Idlewood. Once I wrapped my head around (again) the weird wording for the k1-r/b increase, the pattern was easy to follow. It's probably just me, but I really have a hard time understanding that particular explanation. And I forgot how to interpret it between finishing Idlewood and starting Gavotte, so I had to go on a google expedition to figure it out again. Ah well, maybe now I will remember it! It is a really tidy increase.

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Mods:
I added lots of length. I lost track, but I think it was almost 6 inches. Even for me with my long torso, that is quite a lot. I'm tired of things coming out cropped accidentally, so I may have overdone it. It blocked to a comfortably long-enough length. I intended to lengthen the sleeves as well, but ran out of yarn due to adding so much length in the body. It's fine.

The neckline rolls at the front, which is par for the course with stockinette. It was looking massively huge, so I didn't block the edge aggressively to attempt to combat rolling. The pick-up / bind-off edging did help pull the neck in so it isn't massive, but it doesn't help with the rolling. Too bad. I don't really mind.

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Yarn:
I used MillaMia Naturally Soft Merino in a lovely forest-green colour. The yarn was lovely to knit with. It is very soft and sproingy, with excellent stitch definition. Thus, my uneven stockinette shows up very well. Blocking helped with that, though.

Unfortunately, I don't think it will be very hard-wearing at this drapey gauge. After wearing the sweater for one whole day, I noticed some pilling under the arms. I will likely use this yarn again, but maybe for items that don't experience much friction, and definitely at tighter gauges.

Oh well. I will wear this happily and with careful de-pilling maintenance.

See more FOs at Tami's blog.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Sweater update

We are over halfway through November, and supposedly I'm going to finish a sweater by the end of it. Let's see how I'm doing.

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I currently have a purple blob of stockinette. If you look closely you may be able to tell that it has arm holes. (Necessary things in a sweater). As of this writing, I've finished the waist decreases, and am chugging away towards the hip increases. I suppose I'm not quite halfway through the sweater, but now that I don't have all those sleeve stitches to deal with, rounds go fairly quickly. Hurray!

Both the yarn and pattern are enjoyable so far. New Lanark seems like a hardwearing yarn - it is very sturdy. Since the last thing I knit was with very sproingy merino, it took a little while for my hands to get used to the sturdy, strong feel of this yarn. That kind of slowed my progress a bit at first, since I had to take lots of breaks to let me hands recover. It's not actually that scratchy (though it's no malabrigo), but it does seem much less elastic than some wool yarns I've used. I'm still enamoured with the subtle shifting colours, which don't look anything like that completely unsubtle photograph. Even though I adjusted the white balance. Haha.

So. How are your November projects going?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

What's this? Not a sweater?

A few years ago my grandmother asked me to knit her a hat, and so I made her a Coronet. She loved it and apparently all her friends complimented her on her lovely hat. I do like a successful gift knit! Anyway, the hat is starting to wear out, and she has asked me for another one. This time in red. Bright red. I thought about changing up the cable pattern, but it turns out she wants the same thing. Who am I to ignore a specific request?

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It is indeed BRIGHT red. The yarn is Cascade 220, ordered off the internet, so I wasn't quite sure what colour I was getting... but there it is. It is brighter than it looks on my screen, and not at all pink. I think it is perfect, but hopefully Grandma agrees.

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I'm not knitting this as quickly as I'd like, because I am also working hard on my November sweater - more on that later. The cable band is the most time-consuming part, though, so once I get that done it should proceed quickly.

Friday, November 02, 2012

BlaDiBlaMo?

It's November - have you enthusiastically committed to an unpronounceable, inappropriately abbreviated month-long activity yet? I've done NaNoWriMo once, NaBloPoMo a few times, but never the sweater one before. So this year, my challenge is to knit a sweater in the month of November.

Because I'm a slow sweater-knitter, for me to have any chance of success I knew I had to choose something fairly simple and use moderately heavy yarn. I've decided to knit the Ladies' Classic Raglan Pullover by Jane Richmond. If I manage it, maybe next year I'll try something more complicated, but for now Worsted/Aran weight stockinette seems like the best plan!

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The yarn I bought is New Lanark Aran, in the delightful Blueberry colourway. New Lanark is a historic cotton mill village and world heritage site, whose mill now produces wool yarns. Shamefully, I've never been to visit, even though it's not that far from Edinburgh - maybe next year! This particular colourway is tweedy and deep - there are so many different colours there that combine to make a purpley-blue. Really, there's green and yellow, and all manner of blues, purples, and teals in there. I'm really looking forward to seeing it knit up.

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Now I've got to swatch! What are you up to this November?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Things. Big things.

So remember how last month I claimed nothing was happening? As was perhaps inevitable, suddenly EVERYTHING HAPPENED.

Thing 1: I had three job interviews in a span of two weeks, and got one job. A permanent job! This is possibly the second time in my life I've ever had a job with no contractual end-date.

Thing 2: I got my residence permit, so I'm legal to stay in this country for another two years. Huzzah! Other than the overwhelming sense of relief and joy, the best part is I have my passport back, so I can travel beyond these borders.

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And as of today, we've been married for 6 months. Whahey! 2012 is coming together nicely.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

WIP: Green Gavotte

I have a sweater on the needles! This is exciting, since I finished my last sweater (the Honeybee Cardigan) almost exactly a year before starting this one. A whole year without making a sweater for myself? Never again.

Here's Gavotte, so far.

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Green blob FTW! Miles and miles of stockinette is going pretty quickly, and is actually really fun right now. I'm in a stockinette frame of mind, and everything I want to make lately is really smooth, simple, and unpatterned. For example, Ladies' Classic Raglan Pullover by Jane Richmond is on my list for this winter, as is the Mediumweight Pullover by Hannah Fettig. Stockinette pullovers: I need them in my life! Given that I bought the yarn for Gavotte in January/February and have only started knitting it in September, I may not get to either of these other sweaters before 2013 (or 2014!). Ah well. Those are my current plans, subject to change on my whim.

See more WIPs at Tami's blog.

Monday, September 17, 2012

checking out

Lately, I've just been getting on with it. Not in a negative or unhappy way, just... not in a very interesting way. I've been living, working, knitting, reading, doing things, but not as an active participant in the world. This isn't that unusual, and were I to define my life I could probably classify much of it as "just getting on with it." I just don't feel like I have much to share these days, even if I've actually been doing a lot.

But to reassure myself that I've actually been doing things, here are some things I have been doing:

Working almost full-time
This is excellent because it means getting paid in real money. Bonus points for being good experience for my supposed eventual career path. However, that particular assignment is over and I'm taking a bit of holiday this week, which is lovely.

Getting used to my new hair cut
It's been about a month since I had a large portion of my hair cut off and donated to Little Princess Trust to make wigs. This is the first time in years I've had bangs, and also the first time in years I've been to a hair dresser. Here's the before and after, dirty-mirror-style.

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Watching many movies
This past weekend we went on a movie binge and rented The Artist, Cabin in the Woods, Iron Sky, and War Horse (which we had already seen in the cinema). The Cabin in the Woods was surprisingly enjoyable - I don't generally like horror films, but it's Joss Whedon and despite outward appearances it's not a standard horror film. Iron Sky is about moon Nazis. Enough said? Quite entertaining, as long as you're only expecting a B-movie. We also went to see Dredd 3D in the cinema. Neither of us are 3D fans so far, so we usually choose the regular 2d version, but this one has only been released in 3D. It was entertaining, but I still wasn't impressed with the use of 3D, to be honest.

Reading many books
At this last work assignment, there wasn't much for me to do a lot of the time, so I spent a lot of time checking the BBC website and reading books. I'm up to Volume 7 of Neil Gaiman's Sandman comic series, which I'm thoroughly enjoying.

Knitting
Finished some socks for my dear that I started on our honeymoon, took lots of photos that all turned out blurry, lost enthusiasm for blogging about the FO because it requires a second photo-shoot for some frankly boring manly ribbed socks. Maybe one of these days I'll get around to it. Just imagine some 4x1 ribbed forest-green socks in the mean time.

Working out
DH and I got gym memberships at the beginning of August, and I've been aiming for two or three times a week at the gym. I've never been that fitness-motivated, but it's good to get some exercise other than walking. We also bought some badminton racquets, so every few weeks we go whack birdies at each other and laugh hysterically at our own terrible badminton skills. Good fun.

Waiting for my visa to come through and trying not to freak out
Still. It's been 3 months. This whole thing is getting old, especially since I can't go anywhere since the UKBA has my passport (and my husband's). Unfortunately, it looks like people on the internet who applied for their visas months before I did still haven't got theirs... so I may be in for an even longer wait. If you ever need a UK spouse visa / leave to remain and are applying from within the UK, may I suggest coughing up the hideous fee for premium service and getting it done in person? I should have done that, but it's such a cash grab to begin with that I couldn't stomach paying even more, and I'd never had to wait long to visas when I applied from Canada, so I didn't think it was going to be an issue.

Applying for jobs
I've got an interview for a permanent job next week that I'm pretty excited about, other than the whole "I still don't have a visa" awkwardness. All I can do is tell the truth, but if it disqualifies me I'm going to be rather peeved.

That's about it... I hope you've all been having fun and doing more interesting things than I have!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Strawberry Lemonade Bars

As of last weekend, we've been living in Edinburgh for two years. This called for celebration! So I made some lemon bars.

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These are my approximation of the Pink Lemonade Bars from Smitten Kitchen. The only deliberate changes I made were using strawberries instead of raspberries (because that's what I had on hand), and using only about 2/3 of the butter called for in the base. I also accidentally used icing sugar instead of granulated sugar for the base after misreading the recipe. Not sure how that happened, but it turned out fine.

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They turned out really well, despite the fact that I nearly burned them. (Icing sugar to cover up the borderline charred spots, FTW). The first time I made lemon squares / bars years ago from another recipe they never set properly, and I was left with lemon gloop. Delicious, but not exactly what I was aiming for. This time, it took longer than it was supposed to, but they did definitely set, and I could cut them into bars without (too much) mess. Hurray! I'm glad they turned out, since I so rarely do fancy baking - things with sugar dusted on them? Things that need to cool before cutting and devouring? What?

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The strawberry addition was nice, and smelled really good while cooking, but wasn't overwhelming in the finished product. That's cool - they are meant to be lemon bars after all. Next time I'll try the recipe with raspberries as written and see how it goes.

Friday, August 10, 2012

FO: Bunting

The Bunting cardigan for my little cousin-in-law is finally finished. It feels like ages since I finished anything! I'm very pleased with it, and I hope it fits the recipient this winter.

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Pattern: Sweet Bunting by Laura Chau

Yarn: Rowan Pure Wool DK. To avoid buying an entire ball of a third colour, I dyed a small amount of the main colour with some Wiltons icing dye.

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Notes: As you can see, I didn't end up using buttons or anything. It's just too cute as it is, so hopefully it stays on the baby. There were no mods that I can think of. My colourwork is a bit lumpy in spots, though blocking mostly sorted it out. The underarm grafting is also kind of bulgy for some reason, but I'm hoping that's only because I photographed it flat - maybe worn it won't be so bulgy? Clearly I need to practice my kitchener stitch.

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From this project I learned that I don't hate colourwork done flat in small doses, though I'd still rather do it in the round. Steeking, here I come! I also learned that I can't purl the English way. Also, that baby knits are adorable, but in sport weight they aren't necessarily super quick!

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See more FOs via Tami's Amis!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

button heaven

Well. The week kind of got away from me there. I blame the sun. The sun! The last few days have been absolutely lovely, and I've spent lots of time outside away from the hopeless little screen. (But probably not enough.) Glorious. This is our summer, so I should enjoy it, since it'll be proper Scottish weather once again soon.

Ahem. Anyway, I did go to Duttons for Buttons when I was in York. How could I not?

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The ground floor is where the buttons are. It's small - there's enough room for a few people to turn around in, provided nobody is flailing excitedly. The small size adds to the impact of the button-covered walls, however.

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Since each box has a tiny compartments filled with each of the button varieties shown on the outside, the actual number of individual buttons in this shop is staggering. SO MANY BUTTONS. It was great fun poking around in there.

The rickety stairs up to the other floors beckoned, so up we went. Since it was pointed out on my last post about York, I feel a bit bad about how many of my adventures require decidedly unaccessible locations for those with mobility issues. I'm very very lucky that I am able to walk extensively and climb stairs, and in my situation of privilege I don't automatically think of those who have different abilities. The fact that I can do these things while others can't is sad and unfortunate. There is obviously work to be done - however, in some cases I'm not sure what can be done. Installing a lift in an tiny old medieval house like Duttons for Buttons? Yikes. The whole place might tumble down! Get on it, engineering.

In any case. The other floors of the shop have needlework supplies and yarn, and the very top floor has this gorgeous roof. Between this and York Minster, I was sufficiently humbled by medieval engineering. Built to last, indeed.

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My mom is a crafty-type as well, with several overflowing boxes of fun old buttons at home. I grew up rummaging through them happily, and probably developed my button-love as a result. I don't recall ever specifically going button shopping with my mother before this, but given the circumstances it could have been disastrous. As it was, she walked away with a grab-bag of miscellaneous buttons to add to that collection. I goggled over them all and settled for two blue buttons. Perhaps not that exciting by themselves.... but check out what I made with them.

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I have my button studs at last! I decided that I didn't want the shiny earring post base showing through the button holes, so I cut a bit off the base and positioned it slightly off-centre like so:

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Tada!

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The perfect souvenir from my day in York. I don't think I'm entirely finished with button earrings, though. Now I want them in every colour. Naturally.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Memories and Adventures in York


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On Monday, we went to York for the day. I first went to York when I was about 12 on my first visit to the UK, and hadn't been back since. G had never been. I have lots of half-remembered memories about that trip, and it was interesting to see what came back to me. In York we met my mom, who is currently on tour in the UK, and she was able to fill in some of the memory gaps and details from that first trip as well.

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Maybe it's the North American in me, but I love cities with medieval streets. There's nothing quite like them back home, where pretty much the oldest permanent structures date from the 1700s. It may be cheaper and more efficient to have straight roads and concrete, but it certainly isn't as charming.

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We paid a visit to York Minster and climbed all the way up the tower, as has become our habit when traveling. On that first trip to the UK, I remember going to the top of several cathedrals, but not in York. So there's a new memory added. I hope I never get tired of climbing to the top of things and looking down at the tiny world below.

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I remember walking on the city walls on my first visit - this time, as we walked on the walls, I imagined what it would be like to have such a monument in my backyard.

Like so many old European cities, York is a fabulous place to explore on foot, and that is my favourite kind of exploring. The old part of the city is compact enough that it is easy to get around, and it's not overwhelming for just a day trip. Of course, there's more to any place than what the tourists tend to focus on, and I certainly wouldn't mind spending more time there.

A crafter's visit to York would not be complete without a stop at Duttons for Buttons, but that adventure is for another post!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

WIP: wee flags

The stranded colourwork portion of my Sweet Bunting cardigan is complete. Next up - i-cords.

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I did the colourwork back and forth, as written. Previously, I've only done stranded colourwork in the round, so this was something new. And you know, it wasn't as horrifically terrible as I imagined it would be!

I've never steeked anything either, and I thought that for 8 rows of colour pattern, I could probably stand doing it back and forth instead of rewriting the pattern to involve cutting and slicing. Rowan Pure Wool DK seems like it would be a terrible yarn for steeking in any case - it's pretty smooth and not at all sticky. Have any of you steeked with it? How did it go?

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The main problem I had doing colourwork on the purl side was that apparently I can't purl in "English" style for the life of me. (This is funny because I know I've heard some English-style knitters say that they can't learn how to purl continentally. To each their own...) I'm a continental knitter (a picker) normally, and for colourwork I hold one colour in each hand. My right hand knits English (throws), and my left hand knits continental. On the purl side I ended up holding both colours in my left hand so I could "pick" both of them. This probably could have done all sorts of terrible things to my tension, but it looks okay, so I'm not going to worry about it.

More WIPs over at Tami's Amis

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Happy bug earrings

Trawling the internet one fine day, I found some stud earrings with buttons on them. I was seized with earring-love. I thought, I can make something like these!

Button-shopping followed, but without a clear idea of what I wanted, I ended up walking away with some adorable lady bug buttons, rather than the standard round, two or four hole kind I initially considered. I soon acquired some earring posts, and I was on my way.

A few hours later, I had these:

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Because I used buttons that have a loop at the back, rather than a flat surface with holes, I engaged in some cutting and slicing. The red and black parts are separate pieces of plastic that can be taken apart and snapped back together. The loop in the back was part of the red piece, and it held the two parts together snuggly. Once I had removed the plastic loop with some wire cutters, the two pieces slipped apart easier, so I glued them together with superglue. Then I glued the whole lot to a gold-filled earring post. Here I balked slightly while trying not to glue myself / any of the bits to anything, and ended up enlisting the help of DH who is a superglue pro. I've mentioned before that we're both makers, and in this case I'm proud to say he had a hand in my excellent earrings!

Tada!

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They are a bit larger than I generally go for in earrings with posts, but I do love them. Next time I try this with a button this size, I may get posts with a larger platform. I'm not convinced there is enough contact between the two surfaces, and I keep expecting the lady bugs to snap off.

I still want something like those other button studs, though. Good thing I have loads of earring posts left, and plenty of button-finding opportunities ahead.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Cuppa yarn

I like tea. Between the two of us, we drink a substantial amount of it - since living here I have definitely acquired a tea-drinking habit. Can you blame me when it is July and today the sun made its first appearance in weeks - for about 30 seconds - before going away again. Tea drinking is essentially a comfortable/comforting activity.

I started saving used tea bags in the freezer for the purposes of dyeing yarn a while back, and then forgot about it. The yogurt containers full of dodgy-looking frozen teabags sat forlorn in the freezer for months taking up valuable space. When Pumpkin Spins started her series on dyeing with food safe dyes, I remembered all that saved tea, and had a dye evening.

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It turned out rather nicely, if I do say so myself! This is 75% wool 25% nylon sock yarn that was originally a natural shade of white.

I followed tiina teaspoon's tutorial, sort of. I have no idea what weight of old tea I used to get this shade, but I had about 4 medium-sized yogurt containers full of the frozen bags. Several of the bags got punctured at some point in the process, so there was some loose tea floating around as well. Although I strained the dye bath before I put the yarn in, some of the loose tea was powdery enough to slip through the strainer, which meant it got caught in the yarn. I fear I'll never get it all out! Oh well.

One interesting observation was the tea's effect on the cotton string I used to tie up my skein. Since dyers also use tea to dye cotton, I figured it would dye as well. It barely picked up any colour, however. To be fair, I didn't wash the string beforehand, so maybe it was coated with something that repelled the dye. Or maybe cotton is just more difficult to dye.

Another thing I wasn't prepared for was how terrible it would smell while dyeing. When I have dyed yarn in the past using food colouring and the like, it hasn't smelled amazing, but for some reason the combination of wet wool and stale tea was incredibly gross. Still, I'd do it again. It was fun, and I'll never lack for used tea bags.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

SWAP zomg

The weather here has been grim for the last little while. Rainy, or when it isn't raining it's foggy, or gray, and dark - even though we still have many hours of daylight. I try to stay cheerful in the face of awful weather, since there's not much else I can do about it, but I have to admit that it's starting to get to me.

A ray of cheerfulness and excitement permeated the grim, gray morning today, though, since it was opening-up day for the swap I recently participated in on Ravelry. The idea behind the swap was for everyone to send their parcels off on or around a certain day, and then we'd all open them on the same day. Unfortunately, one or two swappers still haven't received their parcels, but they were gracious enough to let the rest of us open up today anyway.

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I've had this parcel taunting me for a few weeks, since my swap partner was super-speedy about sending it to me. To resist the temptation, I kept it hidden under piles of paperwork, but today it came out.

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Then I opened it, greedily.

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And took out all the goodies. Note the postcard that shows a KFC shaped like a chicken. Whahey!

Required in the swap were yarn, a pattern (gifted through Ravelry on the day), a postcard from your home town, and a local item. My swap partner Jen aka phantominblue, lives in Georgia (the US state, not the country), and filled the package full of lovely things with attention to local details.

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First, some gorgeous Shibui sock. Despite the fact that it is so grim outside and there's no light, the colour turned out fairly close. It's full of beautiful greens. She also made some stitch-markers that match the yarn. I do love green. There's also a Gone With the Wind magnet - the author lived in Georgia, and it features prominently in the story. I'm ashamed to admit I've never read it, though I have seen the film.

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Moving on to the consumable items, there's peach tea - because of Georgia's famous peaches, and some local honey. Mmmm honey. Georgia is also home to Coca-Cola, so Jen included some soft-drink-inspired candy in the form of 7-Up jelly beans. In her note, she mentioned that even though 7-Up isn't part of the coke brand, she thought the candies would probably taste better. Fair enough! I'm not a cola fan, in any case, so it works out.

To round it all off, she sent a ravelry gift of Martina Behm's Magrathea pattern. This is a beautiful scarf / shawlette, (with added bonus of being Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy themed) and I'm looking forward to casting on.

So, thank you Jen! This totally made my day, and I feel so spoiled.

Monday, July 02, 2012

WIP: bunting for baby D

I'm knitting a baby sweater. Hard to believe, but this is the first ever baby-sized garment I've made! It seems not too many people around me are having babies, which probably means they'll all start having them at once some time in the future. Anyway. It's for my little cousin/niece/small person(-once-removed-in-law?) who will be a year old this winter.

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The pattern is Sweet Bunting by Laura Chau, which has an adorable colourwork bunting pattern around the yoke. Having done the body section up to the underarms, I'm working on the first sleeve. I haven't reached any of the exciting parts yet, but the stockinette is soothing, and I do enjoy the little seed-stitch cuffs.

Since I've never knit for babies before, I have a question for those with baby-dressing experience. The pattern as written has i-cord ties at the neck to hold the cardigan closed, but no other fastenings. Does this make any sense for a baby garment? In my brain it seems like it would come untied and slip off pretty easily, given baby squirmings, but I don't really know. I'm thinking of adding buttons, since it seems like they'd be more secure that just a bow, but that means adding button holes. What say you, experienced baby wranglers?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

swag - fairly restrained edition

After teasing you about my Woolfest swag, I feel I should preface this post with a simple fact: despite the abundance of amazing things present, I didn't buy very much at Woolfest. Part of me isn't even sure why, though it probably comes from two directions. First, I'm not a big spender at the best of times, and I'm still coming out of my unemployed-for-nearly-two-years cheapness hole where I felt guilty about each nonessential purchase (and sometimes guilty about the essential ones). Second, the event was so overwhelming that I didn't know where to look or what to look for.

Anyway. I went to Woolfest with one yarny item on my shopping list: red aran-weight wool yarn for a hat for my Grandma. I came home with the following:

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See the red yarn? I thought not.

The yarn I did buy is from Sparkleduck - it is called Stratus, which is a BFL/Silk/Cashmere sockweight yarn. The colourway is Mallard, appropriately enough. It is semi-solid - there's more green than shows in the photo, and it is decidedly not dull-looking in the least. I will probably make a scarf or shawl from this, since there is no way I'm putting a yarn this fancy on my feet. Sparkleduck's entire stall was filled with amazing colour, and it took me ages to pick one to take home with me!

In the above photo, you can also see my fancy houndstooth Woolvember badge, that I purchased from Kate Davies' stall. (She wasn't there when I wandered by, so I was spared an awkward starstruck tongue-tied encounter, I guess. More on this theme later.)

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I also bought some fabulous buttons to add to my growing collection of buttons I have no idea what to do with. The ceramic one is large and chunky and would be a good accent on a hat, I think. The wooden square ones are made of reclaimed floor boards, and I just like gazing at them, so who knows what they'll be. I'll enjoy them in the meantime.

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Speaking of starstruck encounters, Lily and Amanda France (whose blogging and designing I follow avidly) stopped by the Ruth and Belinda stall, and I blurted out "HELLO! I KNOW YOU FROM THE INTERNET!" or something equally eloquent, and proceeded to babble for a bit. Apparently I was the first to recognize and accost Lily at Woolfest that day, but I'm sure it happened many more times. Haha. Anyway, they were obviously lovely and not phased by my awkwardness.

I also met Heather from the Nude Ewe, and had my mind totally blown when we realised we'd gone to the same high school in Canada. Small yarn worlds! We weren't at high school at the same time, but in any case that has never happened to me before. Amazing. I'm ashamed to say that although I'd heard of the Nude Ewe prior to Woolfest, I hadn't a clue what they were all about. Now that I know, I'm fascinated - yarn spun from the fleeces of conservation grazing sheep. Genius.

In summary, yay for Woolfest! I met so many interesting people, saw so many beautiful yarns, and had great fun communing with the woolly beasts. Now I see why fibre events are such a big deal.

Monday, June 25, 2012

And... Woolfest!

I have returned from Woolfest! It was great fun, exhausting, overwhelming, and inspiring. Also, cold and wet - it poured all day on Friday, causing flooding and transportation difficulties the following day.

Here are Ruth and Belinda selling their wares. It was lots of fun helping them out, meeting lots of great people, and being surrounded by lovely, squishable yarns all day. Because of the awful weather, it got quite cold in the Woolfest barn on Friday, so we all wrapped up in the samples to keep warm.

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When I had the chance, I explored some of the other stalls, but found it all quite overwhelming. Aisle upon aisle of yarn / wool / fibre / animals / craft materials... It was hard to know where to look first, and difficult to focus! I admire those organised people who kept track of which stalls caught their eye so they could find them again later. I wasn't so smart, but I bumbled through and saw plenty nonetheless.

I loved seeing everyone wearing their own creations. It occurred to me that I look at lots of knitwear online, but in my everyday life don't see many handknits outside of knitting groups. A fibre festival gives people the opportunity to really show off their handiwork, knowing it is perfectly acceptable to accost strangers and admire their gorgeous shawl or cardigan.

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I also saw lots of creatures. These hebridean sheep are possibly the strangest looking ones I've ever seen.

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And alpacas. Awww.

One memorable encounter was with an older fellow who was going through examining all the wooden buttons / shawl pins / accessories on offer and identifying all the woods used. He said he wasn't a knitter himself, though he used to help his mum out when she was losing her sight by picking up her dropped stitches with a crochet hook once she'd put the knitting down for the day. He was wearing a gorgeous cabled sweater in perfect condition that his mum had made for him when she was 89. He was in the process of reconstructing the end of the sleeve of another sweater she'd made; it had come unraveled in an aggressive spin cycle, but he was reverse-engineering the pattern using a crochet hook and some pliers. Well, damn. I'm impressed!

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I'll be back soon with another post on swag and the rest of Woolfest.