Spiteful, Spiteful Shawl

I finished my Aeolian last weekend.

Now, I’m the first to admit it. I did a sloppy blocking job. I was super excited to transform this rumpled mass of (extremely soft) knitting

into this devilish little piece of gorgeousness.

So, I didn’t pin it out quite as carefully as I could have. Given how uniformly atrocious the pictures of me wearing it came out, I can only assume that it gave me bad photo juju intentionally, as punishment for my laziness. In my defense, these photos were taken after dinner and at the end of a long work day, so I was both full and sleepy. But really, nothing can adequately explain how godawful they are.

The first half of our photo session took place in the courtyard behind our apartment. The light was dim, but workable. I proceeded to spoil all the photos by doing things like closing my eyes

or making my patented Vincent-D’Onofrio-in-Full-Metal-Jacket “Nobody likes me, Joker” face.

We moved out to the street side of our building, where the light was … different.

Either it was too bright …

… or it was nighttime.

Or, I was suddenly, inexplicably a redhead. Why not?

So, we moved out of the sun into an indirectly lit area, where, once again, I ruined photo after photo by accidentally blinking

or making whatever the hell face this is.

Sigh. Luckily, in the end, the finished object speaks for itself.

It was a surprisingly enjoyable and speedy knit, in large part because I left out the beads and hateful, crazy-making nupps. And I made it out of Malabrigo lace yarn (Olive colorway), which was so soft that I had a hard time putting it down. In fact, I enjoyed making this so much that I might start another one next weekend. Maybe it’ll have a better attitude than its predecessor.

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Published in: on January 26, 2011 at 5:58 pm  Comments (13)  
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The Christmas Knitting, Part Two: The Scarfening

As you may recall, I did a crapload of knitting for Christmas. I showed you Part One a couple of weeks ago. Being that I forgot to document the scarves I made for my sister and Jette, I had to ask the recipients to take photos themselves. They obliged, and I finally got off my ass and resized the photos, so here’s the long-awaited Christmas Knitting, Part Two (I know you’ve been wringing your hands in anticipation).  The pattern is Just Enough Ruffles by Laura Chau, which both giftees requested specifically … it was The “It” Scarf this year, apparently.

This is the one I made for my sister. Yarn is Malabrigo worsted weight in Polar Morn.

And here’s the one I made for Jette out of Cascade Eco Duo in Almond Smoke. These pictures show what the reverse side of the scarf looks like.

While I’m at it, here are my first two FOs of 2011. First up is another scarf, a triangle with some purl rows interspersed among the stocking stitch for texture. I thought I made this up, but I found a couple of similar patterns on Ravelry, so apparently … I didn’t. As Elizabeth Zimmermann would have said, I unvented it.

Made from one skein of Malabrigo sock yarn in Tiziano Red.

And I finished the Baudelaires!

Pattern is by Cookie A, available free on Knitty. These are toe-up socks; I prefer top-down, usually, but this pattern was pretty fun. And they went really fast. The Yarn Harlot, Stephanie Pearl McPhee, says something in one of her books about how colorwork patterns seem to knit up faster than plain ones, even though they logically must take more time. That’s how I felt about these socks. The pattern wasn’t overly fiddly, but it was definitely more time consuming than just plain knitting. And yet, I finished these socks at what felt like warp speed.

Yarn is Louet Gems fingering weight in French Blue.

And finally, a look at the current WiPs lineup, because why not? This picture doesn’t represent the colors of the items very accurately, but them’s the breaks.

Clockwise from bottom left:

Obnoxious pink item is the Lettuce Leaf Scarf by Janice Lynn. Yarn is Knit Picks Shadow Tonal Lace Yarn in Summer Blooms colorway.

Partially finished sock is just that–a plain-ass sock, the first of what will be the 20th pair I’ve knit for my mom over the past few years. Yarn is Colinette Jitterbug in Sable.

Lavender socks are my second pair of Twinkleberries. Yarn is Knit Picks Stroll Tonal sock yarn in Blue Violet.

Big fuzzy green blob is the Aeolian shawl by Elizabeth Freeman, available on Knitty. I am madly in love with this pattern and am seriously considering knitting another when I’m done with this one. Yarn is Malabrigo lace weight in Olive, and it is an olivey green, not a foresty green like it looks here.

Smack in the middle is my first Vilai, from Sock Innovation by Cookie A. Yarn is Madelinetosh Tosh Sock in Oxblood, and it’s very, very pretty. I had initially used this yarn to start a plain sock while waiting with The Mister in urgent care, but I decided the yarn is interesting enough that it would look amazing in a pattern that uses biased stitches. So yesterday I frogged the Bad Juju Ear Infection Sock and I started the Vilais. Pattern promises to be very interesting and fun, if a bit of a pain in the ass, thanks to a “cable cross” that involves TWO cable needles.

Crafty people! What are YOU working on?

Published in: on January 16, 2011 at 11:53 am  Comments (6)  
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How To Wear A Shawl

As I mentioned yesterday, I finally finished my frickin’ Pi Shawl. This shawl was developed by knitting legend Elizabeth Zimmermann. The basic concept is that, as the number of rows doubles, so does the number of stitches. This formula makes it super easy to come up with a perfectly round shawl. I’m neither a math whiz nor a knitting genius, so I can’t explain why it works … but it does. If you’re curious about it, read Zimmermann’s explanation in Knitter’s Almanac, or, failing that, have a math nerd explain it to you. Alternatively, you can just do what I do: ignore the whys and wherefores and focus on the knitting part.

I love this pattern for several reasons. One, it’s incredibly simple to keep track of. The version I did is just plain knitting, around and around and around, with lacy false increase rows interspersed with the real increase rows. Two, it’s quite versatile and customizable. If you don’t do the false increase rows, you end up with large swathes of plain knitting that are perfect for inserting lace patterns into. Or you can just keep it simple and plain; it’s beautiful regardless.

It’s also very easy to wear. I think a lot of knitters shy away from shawls because they don’t know when, where, or how to wear them, which is a damn shame. Shawls somehow have a reputation for being fancy schmancy evening formal wear, but they don’t have to be. I wear them everywhere: to work, to the grocery store, around the house, you name it. I’m bringing shawls back, dammit. And as for how, well, there are ever so many possibilities!

You can wear it standard granny style, of course–cuter and more unique than a cardigan (not that I don’t love cardigans).

You can wear it like a poncho. I find that this is the warmest configuration. It’s like a mitten for your torso.

You can fold it in half and tie it around your shoulders in the front.

You can tie it under your arms in the back and wear it like a shrug.

You can fold it over just a little bit and wear it like a big dramatic cape.

And of course, when you’re done wearing it, you can pretend to be a bullfighter. At least that’s what appears to be going on here.

See? So many possibilities!

However you plan to wear it, if you’re looking for a simple circular shawl pattern, I highly recommend this one. The “official” pattern is in Knitter’s Almanac, but a Google search should point you in the direction of a basic Pi Shawl recipe. Knitting this was so much fun, and I’m so impressed with the results, that I’m seriously considering turning right around and starting another one. Oh, and the yarn is Dream in Color Baby in Gothic Rose.

In other yarn-related news, I’m currently working on a triangular scarf in Malabrigo sock yarn. Last night I came across a bit of vegetable matter lodged firmly in the yarn that had somehow made it through the spinning and dyeing processes. It came out with a little gentle tugging, and I was impressed to see how well it had taken the dye.

Pretty! And poke-y!

Published in: on December 28, 2010 at 6:43 pm  Comments (9)  
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The Christmas Knitting, Part One

Ahhhh … the week between Christmas and New Year’s. I love this week. Everything’s quiet, the insanity of Christmas is over, and the frantic beginning-of-year activity is still a few days away. It’s a great time to reflect on the year that’s passed and make goals for the year to come.

One of the things I’ve been reflecting on is what I accomplished knitting-wise in 2010 and what I’d like to make in 2011. I’ve noted before that I’m a pretty selfish knitter, so the vast majority of what I made over the past year was for me. But, as usual, I knit Christmas gifts for several people this year, and now that they have them, I can post pictures. Today’s episode of The Christmas Knitting features the presents I made for my parents.

My mom got two pairs of socks. One was just a standard plain pair, made in the very pretty (or, as the Mister put it, “pleasing”) Sailor’s Delight sock yarn by Hazel Knits.

The other pair was “Angee” by Cookie A, from her book Sock Innovation. If you’re into sock knitting and are looking for some fabulous, well-charted patterns, you need this book. (And also her new book Knit. Sock. Love., but that’s another entry.) These socks were right up my alley–simple but engaging, fun, and quick to knit. I really looked forward to coming home and sitting down with these after work.

Lace socks look pretty uninspiring when they’re just hanging around. Let’s see them on feet! The cat needed to be in the first photo. She frequently competes with my knitting for attention.

Cat action shot!

The yarn is Dream in Color Smooshy in Spring Tickle. I LOVE SMOOSHY.

For my dad, I made a pair of mittens. But not just any mittens, oh no. THRUMMED mittens.

You may notice that these mittens look rather puffy. That is because of the thrums, which are the little multicolored bits you see. They’re snippets of unspun wool (or “roving”) that are knit into the fabric every so often. They form a crazy, fluffy, wooly layer, which looks something like this.

This layer creates an insanely warm pair of mittens. Or so I’m told. You’d have to ask my dad to confirm.

My dad has half a thumb on his right hand. So I adjusted one of the mitten thumbs accordingly.

There’s no real pattern for these mittens. I basically combined this thrum FAQ with a generic mitten pattern and voila … thrummed mittens. Yarn and roving are from Knit Picks. And if I never thrum anything again, it’ll be too soon. It was frickin’ fiddly.

Being extremely clever and efficient, I failed to take pictures of the scarves I made for Jette and my sister. So I’ll have to wait for the recipients to take their own pictures. I did manage to take a picture of my sister’s hat, though.

Yarn is Malabrigo worsted in Polar Morn (that’s the blue color) and Natural.

The instant I finished the Christmas knitting, I went right back to knitting things for myself. I finished up my Pi Shawl and blocked it today, so photos should be forthcoming fairly shortly. I also have Baudelaire sock #2 on the needles, and I started another pair of Twinkleberries and a plain pair of socks for my mom. Plus a brick-red triangular scarf that I’m making up as I go along, plus a fairly obnoxious pink scarf that should be perfect for spring, which is about when I anticipate it will be done, given all the other crap I keep casting on.

In other, non-yarn-related news, because my mother and I have outstanding taste in Christmas gifts for me, I own 12 more eyeshadows than I did on December 24th. Eight are Urban Decay and four are MAC. I’m sure you’ll be seeing A LOT of them in future posts. I may also have taken advantage of Sephora’s “Sale on Sale” deal yesterday, because the thing to do the day after Christmas is BUY MORE PRESENTS FOR YOURSELF, am I right? Fair warning: I’m leaning very heavily toward neutrals, purples, and taupes/browns/grays in terms of eye makeup these days, so if you find that boring … well, I guess you’re gonna be bored.

Published in: on December 27, 2010 at 6:57 pm  Comments (7)  
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Slow Progress

So. I started the Lissajous socks over the weekend.

Are you wildly impressed? No? How about if I told you that that little bit of sock represents about an hour and a half of knitting? And that the chart looks like this?

Yeah. Gonna be a while before these are done. At least the yarn is really nice.

Published in: on December 13, 2010 at 7:24 am  Comments (4)  
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Welcome To My Bawdy Lair

BAD PUN! BAD PUN!

Since I finished all my Christmas knitting, I’ve started a few new projects. Including Cookie A’s Baudelaire socks.

Check out how the gusset and heel flap stitches flow into the cable. Fancy! That’s why Cookie A is a sock designer and I’m not.

These are toe-up socks. I usually prefer top-down, but these have been pretty fun. I do like the idea that you can make them as tall as possible until you run out of yarn.

With flash:

The yarn I’m using is Louet Gems fingering weight in French Blue. From, of course, the Loopy Ewe. It’s been really fun to work with–very spongy and bouncy and squishy. Love it. Need more.

Check out the blurry cat in this one.

I cannot recommend Cookie A’s sock patterns highly enough. I have her book “Sock Innovations,” and I just got “Knit. Sock. Love.” in the mail this past week too. It’s going to keep me very busy for a very long time. Once I’m done with the Baudelaires, I’m going to embark on a truly complicated pattern: Lissajous (the shorter sock version, not the taller stocking version–although, how incredible are those?). They’re for my mom; I told her to expect them in, oh, June or so. If she’s lucky.

Published in: on December 11, 2010 at 11:40 am  Comments (4)  
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Eff Oh! Eff Oh!

Finally, it’s a finished object (FO)! As opposed to an unfinished object, or UFO. Get it?

Geeky knitting humor aside, here she is!

What we have here is a longer, narrower version of the Upstairs Shawl. The lace pattern takes up 11 stitches (plus three at either end for the small garter stitch border) and is worked over 32 rows. Rather than casting on 105 stitches and doing nine repeats of the lace pattern, I cast on 83 stitches and did seven repeats. And instead of working the 32 pattern rows 10 times, I did them more like 20 times.

I like this type of lace pattern for scarves because it’s the same right side up and upside down. Compare it to, say, the tiger eye pattern in these socks, which has a definite “this side up” aspect to it.

For this scarf, I used two skeins of Knit Picks Shadow lace yarn in Vineyard Heather–love this yarn, and love the color–and 3 mm bamboo needles (US size 4). Here I am photo-stylisting it onto the swing in the courtyard behind our apartment. You’ll notice that I am still apparently unable to move on from black, gray, and purple clothes.

And here it is on. (Floor-length corduroy skirt is from Shukr, in case anyone’s wondering. And I have a tank top under the cardigan–those aren’t bra straps.)

Additionally, let me just say HOORAY FOR HATS. They’re making the growing out of my pixie cut ever so much more bearable.

Published in: on December 4, 2010 at 1:31 pm  Comments (11)  
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Miscellaneous Items!

ITEM THE FIRST! We are making that pork thing again tomorrow, but this time, we’re using a pork tenderloin and not doing the apple part. Also, this time I didn’t use a recipe, I just mashed the marinade together using ingredients that I believe are approximately the same as the ones we used last time. It’s in the fridge marinating as we speak. Fingers crossed; will report back.

ITEM THE SECOND! The Christmas knitting is done. Praise Jeebus! Expect pictures in late December. In the meantime, I plan to finish up the projects that were sidelined in favor of the Christmas knitting. Remember those guys? Yep, still working on them, except that the ruffle scarf and socks have been finished and there’s a new pair of socks in the works. I want to finish them STAT because I have already selected my next scarf project (it’s technically a shawl, but it’s pretty freaking small for a shawl if you ask me) and my next shawl project. And, predictably, I want to start them NOOOOOOWWWWW! I have no concept of patience. It’s a fact. I may have started a pair of legwarmers in the meantime.

ITEM THE THIRD! I am apparently going through some kind of phase that involves wearing a lot of black, gray, and purple.

I keep ordering things from eShakti. This purple skirt is my newest acquisition. I ordered this dress in black today, so be on the lookout for it in a future post. One note about eShakti: things appear on and disappear from their site like mad. If you see something you like, you should probably pounce on it, or be prepared for it to disappear and then reappear at an unspecified later date, or to disappear in the color you wanted.

  • Purple skirt from eShakti, size 16
  • Gray long-sleeved t-shirt from Old Navy, size M
  • Black cardigan from Old Navy, size L*
  • Black tights that apparently photograph gray from Target
  • The eternal Born Mary Janes

*I kind of hate this cardigan. It pilled immediately, it’s slightly too big but not enough to justify returning it, and it picks up lint to such a degree that it looks like I slept in it even when it’s freshly washed. It might become an “at-home-only” sweater.

ITEM THE FOURTH! It has been unusually chilly in Long Beach for this time of year. Furthermore, our floor heater doesn’t work (long story), and it turns out that the bathroom is the coldest room of our already-chilly apartment. So, I’ve been spending as little time in there as possible, which means I have not been spending any time playing with makeup. Additionally, my fingernails are a hideous, peeling, crackly, ridgy mess at the moment, so no nail polish either. Woe is me.

Published in: on December 1, 2010 at 5:23 pm  Comments (8)  
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Fully Clothed And Partially Socked

Is there a word for “with socks on”? You know, like clothed, shod … socked? Bestockinged?

Part two of my outfit of the day series! Once again, this ensemble is not too freaking exciting, but it’s a fairly typical workday outfit for me. I wear a lot of REALLY long skirts and t-shirts (nice ones! Not like the giant Sisters of Mercy t-shirts I wore in high school). I’d love to have some nice button-down shirts for work, but cursory research indicates that there is no such thing as a woven shirt that fits both my boobs and my waist. If it fits around the chestal region, it sags at the waist, and if it fits at the waist, there’s no way in hell I’m getting the top buttons done up. So t-shirts it is. (The skirt doesn’t seem quite so long when I’m walking around, I promise.)

Mister Principessa and I are still fiddling with my camera, so these photos are a little experimental. In the one above, he stood way back and zoomed in on me. In the next one, he stood closer and didn’t zoom at all.

Help! Help! I’m sinking into the ground!

T-shirt and tank top are from Old Navy. The skirt is from Shukr, a site I HIGHLY recommend if you’re into floor-length skirts like I am. It’s actually an Islamic clothing site, so you can find hijabs and things there too. Their clothing is very high quality, and their skirts fit me really well (aside from the length issue–but then, everything is long on me).

I’m not wearing shoes in this picture, but you couldn’t see them even if I were, now, could you? I am going to go ahead and admit here that I wore flip-flops with this outfit. Hey, it’s southern California, we’re a casual office, and it was 92 goddamn degrees today.

That takes care of the clothes. On to the socks! You’ll be ever so excited to hear that I’ve been knitting like a fiend lately. Unfortunately, I can’t show you any of the many projects I’ve finished because they’re all going to be Christmas presents for people who read this blog on a semi-regular basis.  So you can expect a BIG knitting post around 26 December. In the meantime, here’s a single partly finished sock to tide you over!

Flash

No flash

The yarn is Dream in Color Smooshy with Cashmere in Rock the Olive. Oooooh, this yarn is nice. So soft. In fact, I think it might be a little too soft for socks. This is a personal preference; I like my socks to be fairly sturdy, and this yarn is a bit on the shiny, slippery side for me. I have another skein of it, which I think might end up as a scarf instead of socks.

Oh, and I did cast on that pair of Twinkleberry socks in the Black Bunny yarn, but they have since been frogged. The yarn was just wrong for the pattern; it needs to be knit using smaller needles than I usually use for socks, which is all fine and good but means I’d need to increase the stitch count to make the socks a wearable size. So, back to the drawing board!

Published in: on November 3, 2010 at 6:12 pm  Comments (12)  
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Excuses, Excuses

Just a quickie today to reassure the four of you that I am, in fact, alive. I am utterly snowed under with knitting, and, as predicted, that’s sucking up a goodly amount of my time and creative juices. But it’s really fun! And I’m getting a hell of a head start on Christmas!

I’d love to post pictures of my Christmasy works in progress. But I can’t, because if I were to make a Venn diagram of “People who read my blog” and “People who usually get knitted things from me for Christmas,” it would look like this:

So … you know.

Plus, I’ve been having massive tension headaches lately. Every so often, my neck and shoulders get incredibly tense, and that tension manifests in the form of ongoing sore head problems that OTC painkillers don’t touch. So I’ve been doing everything possible to combat that, including jogging, yoga, lots of hot baths, and staying the hell offline. Eight hours in front of a computer during the day + multiple hours in front of a computer in the evening = hideous neck and shoulder tension, and then … the headaches.

Oh, and in addition to these issues, my camera is behaving like a cranky two-year-old. That situation will be remedied shortly, but in the meantime, attempting to use it is incredibly frustrating. So I haven’t been.

And there you have my litany of excuses! Posting will probably be sporadic for the foreseeable future. Be advised! Bad, inconsistent blogger in da house!

Published in: on October 15, 2010 at 1:26 pm  Comments (10)  
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