Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Hats Off!

Guess what everyone's getting this year?

The Knit Simple Tasseled Earflap Hat in
Muench Black Forest Naturwolle:
Filatura Di Crosa Super Soft:Plymouth Yukon with my slubby handspun leftovers:Muench Black Forest Naturwolle with Araucania Nature Wool Chunky:(The third hat - pink on pink - is actually for charity, but it came out so adorable, I had to show it off!)

And for some variety, the Yarn Harlot's Unoriginal Hat, in various colors of Rowan Big Wool.
Big Wool was a bit bulkier than the recommended yarn, so I experimented with tightening up the gauge and starting decreases earlier, but I kept running short on yarn anyway, hence the abrupt closure at the tops.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Thanks SP!

A great big THANK YOU to DeDe, coast-to-coast mover, super marathon runner, and of course fabulous Secret Pal! She sent me 3 beautiful skeins of Noro Cashmere Island and an entrelac scarf pattern. I can't wait to try my first entrelac pattern! Yay! Plus there were a few yummy treats, along with the Interweave Knits Holiday issue, which is just chock full of cool patterns. Thank you so much, DeDe!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Merry Making

We spent Thanksgiving with Jersey family. I finished the Lorna's Laces Monkeys over the holiday.
I gifted them to Jersey Mama. You could call them an unusual hostess gift, but they're really a belated birthday present :o). Afterwards, Thanksgiving in Jersey turned into an impromptu handknit sock reunion.
Of course I left my own handknit socks at home, so I'm the sad white cotton store bought sock in the lower left. I'm working on this sock now:
It's a Thuja from Knitty, made with Tess's Designer Yarns Supersock and Baby. It's a supereasy pattern -I just added a few multiples of four to make it a bit bigger- and I do love knitting with this yarn. It's got a lovely hand, but wears well.

Of course, post-Thanksgiving meant it was Crazy Baker time again.
The only new thing this year were the chocolate covered dulce de leche bars (center row, left side). The bake-a-thon wasn't nearly as exhausting as it usually is. Am I getting faster, or just picking easier recipes??

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Socks 'n Stuff

Finally, the Socks that Rocks Monkeys are done! Hooray!
I hadn't even bound off the second toe before I started this:
Now in case a certain doggie got in the way of the last shot, here's a close up:
Yes, yet another Monkey, only this time in Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in the colorway "Gold Hill." But I have also been knitting - and would you believe it, even finishing - non-monkey projects too. See, here's a scarf:

And here's a hat:
Sorry about the lighting. I was chasing daylight, as it were. The top is a Child's Rainbow Scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. The yarn is Filtes King Karen and it's more adult-length than child-length. The bottom is the Yarn Harlot's Unoriginal Hat knit with some leftover yarn from my ISE3 spoilee's cabled scarf. Say what you will about Lion Brand, but a ball of their Fisherman's Wool is a hell of a lot of yarn. I've made a long cabled scarf and a cabled hat out of one skein, and I think there's enough for another hat!

I'm also finishing up another Knit Simple earflap hat:
These will all go into the Giant Ziploc Bag of Holiday Gifts, which is looking sadly empty for um... what's the date now... mid-November! Must. Knit. Faster.

Monday, November 12, 2007

I Saw Three Ships

No, not those three ships, and no, it's not quite Christmas yet. We went to Jamestown last Saturday with a Smithsonian study tour. It was certainly more intense and educationally oriented than the average tour group, but still quite fun . We went first to Historic Jamestown, an active archeological site at the original landing and fort site. We got to stand literally inside the place where they were digging.
Check out the flint in the center of the photo. It was originally mined in Dover, England, and hauled onto the ships to be used for ballast during the voyage. Once in America, they were repurposed as wall-filler. Very frugal. I can dig that. (Hah! Archeology joke! Seriously, they were selling "I dig Jamestown" T-shirts.)

We then went to Jamestown Settlement, a life-sized living history recreation. They have full-size replicas of the Susan Constance, Godspeed, and Discovery too. The ships were much smaller than I thought. We went on board the Susan Constance and the living space they had for about 40 or so people is probably smaller than many American living rooms today. Can you imagine being trapped in your living room with 40 strangers for 4 months?

There was also a recreated Powhatan village. Unfortunately our tour went through after the dyeing-with-berries demo, but we got to see the results:
I think it's a plant fiber, and I don't think it's intended for clothing, since they seemed to wear mostly leather. On the whole, there wasn't much on textiles at either site. The original English settlers were all men, and even after the colony was more established (i.e. they weren't starving anymore and could start families), the colonists spent all their time on tobacco, using the profits to buy already prepared goods, like spun fiber and woven cloth from across the ocean. Though this was reflected in the exhibits, the gift shops had no problems with selling fiber related toys, like baby looms and drop spindles. I picked up a lucet.
It came with some ecru kitchen cotton, but I might try using some ribbon yarn instead. I don't like knitting with ribbon so much, though I've got a few skeins in my ever-growing stash.

Friday, November 02, 2007

A Bit of Color

I decided to squeeze in one last batch of dyeing this past weekend before it got cold.
These are six skeins of Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool, done with Koolaid and icing dye as usual. I'm starting to wonder if there is a way to get true black from food dyes. As with my last attempt, the black icing dye separated into purple and green. This time I tried applying the dye directly to the yarn, then chucking it into the pot. But the purple stuck first and the green stayed in solution, despite an overnight soak. Oh well, the search continues...

On a more neutral note, I made a couple of hats this week:
This is a little watchcap made with Lion Brand Vanna's Choice. It's acrylic with a sort of chenille-like feel to it and isn't at all bad to knit with at all, though having Vanna White's picture stare at you from the label makes you feel like you should really be crocheting, or no fabulous prizes for you!
This one's another earflap hat from the cover of the fall Knit Simple. The yarn is Classic Elite Alaska, a 50/50 alpaca/wool blend. It's very bulky and the skeins are quite short (25 yards), so the small size (19") took about 3 1/2 skeins. The label says it's got a nice hand, and it really does - very soft and loosely spun.

No sock photo today, because I still haven't finished the second Socks that Rock Monkey. I turned the heel over the weekend, but haven't touched it since. No worries though, because we're going on a family field trip tomorrow, so there'll be knitting time on the way. Yay roadtrips!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Para Mi?

First of all, a great big "muchas gracias" to my Secret Pal, who sent me a beautiful "yarn bouquet." As if the outside weren't pretty enough:
Take a look at the inside:
The yarn is handpainted Zen Gardens sock yarn, with lovely shades of pink and green, and the needles are bamboo double points. Isn't the presentation just too cute??

Last night, I went to a great talk at the National Geographic on Andean weaving. I was kinda tired yesterday and was thinking of skipping it, but I am so glad I went. The lecture featured the work of Nilda CallaƱaupa, founder of the Centro de Textiles Tradicionales de Cuzco, whose members make stuff like this:

Apologies for the picture quality (or lack thereof). I only had my camera phone with me and the lighting was a bit dim plus I'm a crappy photographer to begin with. The top pic shows mantas, scarves and runners. The bottom shows bags and cute little chullo (earflap hat) keychains.

Everything is handmade from handspun yarn, handdyed with natural dyes. Phew! That's a lot of work! Let's see Nilda demonstrating spinning:
Here, she's plying two thin singles with a bottom whorl drop spindle. The spindle's in motion so it's even harder to make out (it's the light brown blur about a foot below her right hand). On her left arm she has loops of spun singles held double and ready to ply.

Though the talk was mostly about weaving, spinning and dyeing, there was a bit about knitting too. Apparently, both men and women knit, usually to make chullos. I would guess that weaving is used for the flat stuff and knitting for the round stuff. I found this knit bag at the sale table and just had to get it.
The bag itself is knit, though the strap is woven. Here's a close up of the colorwork.
The design is mostly bird motifs and a geometric patterns. So cool! And it's just the right size to hold a sock project too :)

Speaking of which, I did some monkey knitting during the weaving lecture. Current Sock Status Photo:
About halfway down the leg of sock #2. Hopefully, I'll have a finished pair soon.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Rhinebeck and Other Good Things

Back from another whirlwind weekend, again to New York-sey to see Jersey Family and also to go to Rhinebeck. This was my car knitting:A Monkey made from Socks that Rock Lightweight in "Kryptonite" and some brown Opal 6-ply for the heel and toe. This project is a relief if many ways. First, this yarn has been through a few failed sock attempts before. Plus, I was a little jaded from the gauge disaster from my last monkey attempt. To keep the sock gremlins away, I used a pattern that 1) I knew looked good with handpaints and 2) was easy enough for me to memorize. As for the gauge issue, I started the cuff and first two repeats at a looser gauge (for me with this yarn, that's a 2mm needle - yup, I knit that loosely), then changed to smaller needles (1.5mm) to do the rest of the piece.

Of course my first visit to NY Sheep and Wool was an occasion to buy yarn and fiber, but this was definitely my pot 'o gold:
These handcards are used but in good shape, and just $30. Now if I could only get the hang of using them...

I've been spindling a bit too. This is from some purple roving I got at Stitches East.
I think it's Corriedale but I lost the receipt and the bag's unlabeled. It's not that easy to spin. It seems to want a lot of twist to stay together. I guess it's a shorter staple length, or maybe this spindle's too heavy. Anyhoo, at least the color's pretty :)

I'll leave you with a shot of Jersey Baby in action:

Monday, October 15, 2007

Round and Round

Finally, we have some proper fall weather. I really hate summer and always welcome the first nippy days of fall, so that 90 degree day we had last week just about did me in. Now all those cozy handknits aren't quite so incongruous with the the temperature.

In anticipation of fall, I've been knitting hats and scarves. Have you noticed earflap hats are back (if they ever actually left?)
This is a modified Valentine Hat from Stitch 'n Bitch Nation, modified for pony beads instead of stranded color work. Here's some beading detail:
I made up the X-heart-X pattern while I was watching "The Stand" on Sci-Fi a few weeks ago. I was in the mood for an '80s flashback, so it was a good night all in all - yes, such is the sad state of my life. I think the show could have been better, considering it had lots of acting talent. Seriously, it would be great to use in a game of "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon."

I started a new monkey sock:
Pretty isn't it? The yarn is superwash merino/nylon from thankewe. Squishy pretty yarn aside though, let me tell you this is one naughty sock. It doesn't fit. I swatched, got gauge and started knitting, but it's too small! I guess I really shouldn't blame the sock. It was more of a case of the lying gauge swatch meets knitterly self-delusion. I was in total denial and knit on for 6 repeats anyway. Once I hit the heel, though, I had to face the music. Time to frog :(

Friday, October 05, 2007

New York-sey Part 2

Where was I? Right, apples. On Sunday, we went apple picking. For Jersey Baby, it was more like "apple retrieving"
I don't know what's more stylin', the hat or the Spin Out button.

On the way to the farm, we saw signs for an alpaca farm open house. After filling up on apples and apple cider doughnuts, we stopped by. It turned out it was National Alpaca Farm Day. Talk about good timing! There was fiber:
I bought some alpaca/silk roving. There were also cute animals to meet:
Not to mention one super-talented fiber artist:
This is Terry. He knit this in a day. Still with me? No, he doesn't have extra arms, but he does have a knitting machine. And a loom. And a wheel. And a sewing machine. And my personal favorite:
A sock machine. He can make a knee-high sock in an hour! So cool! I so want one, but I think the only one I could afford would be a sketchy-looking eBay one.

Sock Update

The Stitches West socklets are done at last and will be making their way to my aunt in Chicago:

In other sock news, I was one of the winners of Wendy's Summer of Socks contest, and as such am now the proud owner of this lovely skein from the Knittery in Australia:
This yummy yarn also came with one of her sock patterns. I have yet to complete a toe-up sock, so this could be the yarn and pattern to break my toe-up curse!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

New York-sey Part 1

We went to visit Jersey Family over the weekend. Did you know you could rent a Prius? Behold the overly informative display:So you can have up-to-the-second updates on whether you're using battery or gas, 'cuz who wouldn't want to know every single second? There's also a display that gives you a bar graph of gas mileage, which usually hovered around 49 mpg over the course of the trip. Plus it's surprisingly roomy on the inside and very cute on the outside. (BTW, this is exactly the kind of car review you should expect from someone who doesn't drive).

When not mesmerized by the gas-battery update screen, I sewed this up:
It's the Lion Brand Tied Hoodie, sans tassel, for Jersey Baby. I first started this in early summer, quickly finishing all the pieces save for one sleeve. Then Chinese class happened and the whole thing got shoved to the bottom of the to-do list. It's a good thing I made the 24 mo. size, because he just about fits into it right now. See?
Sorry it's hard to get him to sit still.

I went to the Spin Out in Central Park on Saturday. There were spinners galore:While we sat and spun, we got a visit from a wee little turtle:
Isn't he too cute?

Since it's Socktoberfest, I'll try to include a sock in every post this month.
This is the mate to the Stitches West sock that I'm finally getting around to. This shows the inside of the heel flap with the center stitch running down it. I'm about half way down the foot now, so hopefully there'll be a finished sock pic for the next post.

Coming up in New York-sey Part 2: apples, alpacas and automation