Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A (Very) Short Update

The cardigan is complete, except for the buttons, which I have yet to buy. For the last couple of days, since finishing it, I have been on a very strict regimen of charity scarf knitting, waffle eating, and watching a marathon of Project Runway Australia online. Heaven.

Here, as evidence of my most recent impulse purchase, is a photo of some yummy Pumpkin Waffles I made the other day. They were not as perfectly pumpkinny as I had hoped, but still good. After all, how bad could waffles be? (Please don't answer that. I don't really want to know.)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

What do you get when you cross a skunk and a porcupine?

Something like this?

I took a couple of days off from the stripey cardi (and started planning what I will knit after it's finished, believe it or not) and then had a problematic attempt to make the collar as written -- I was not really thrilled with how it was going, and then when my cast-off row was way (way) too tight, I decided it was a sign and frogged the whole collar. This will put my buttonholes in slightly wrong places, but I'll make do somehow. Worry not, faithful reader: this will turn out great anyway.

So if you didn't figure out what's going on in that photo (and I'm sure that it's hard to, if you're not actually in the process of making this sweater right now, and -- let's face it -- none of you are) I'm working on the sleeve cuffs now. Soon, soon... *rubbing hands together*

And hey, look:


And not just any brownies -- these are Black Russian Brownies, so they have a dash of Kahlua and Vodka in there. They're pretty darn good, though not quite the heavy fudge brownies I know and love. Maybe I'll adapt my regular recipe to incorporate some alcohol. (Note to self: that might just be a good all-around policy for cooking.) I will say that the one thing that really grabs me about these is that there is a bit of freshly ground black pepper in them -- You put it in with the melting butter and chocolate at the very beginning. The oils from the peppercorns really come out that way, and it gives the brownie a bit of a bite that is unexpected. Yum.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dream Weaver

I think the first time I really thought about it seriously was because of Laura at Cosmicpluto... But don't get me wrong, there are others who are also making pretty things, too. I'd been thinking of how to make my own sort-of-loom with wood and nails -- if not a proper loom, at least it would be functional. In the meantime, I was trying to convince myself that my fiber intake (at least in the form of wool and silk and alpaca) is really high enough as it is, and I don't need yet another hobby that requires me to buy more. Then Craft magazine came out with a weaving issue, and all caution was thrown to the wind.

The current issue actually includes a free portable cardboard loom, as well as instructions on how to make your own loom at home with a wood frame and dowels (a much better one than I'd been envisioning) and suggestions for buying a pre-made one. Of course I couldn't wait to try it out, so I cut out the cardboard one, eager to get started.

I cut enough lengths of the leftover Portland Koigu to act as a warp, and decided to use some leftover KnitPicks Bare sock yarn for the weft. Last night I rigged it up (which in this instance involved tying myself to the dresser with the yarn, thereby gaining some You-So-Crazy looks from my HLM) and did some weaving. Well, it's definitely beginner work, clearly done on a pretty primitive loom. Not that the design of his loom is primitive -- it's pretty clever, actually -- but the thin cardboard of this version allows it to bend too much and makes it a bit awkward. A stronger cardboard or perhaps plastic would make a better loom. It would also make a better shuttle, which collapsed under the tension of the yarn wrapped around it, and was almost immediately useless. So in the end, it's not exactly the fashionista scarf I had envisioned (largely because I threw in the towel before it was scarf-length) but it did make me think about the possibilities.

I may have hit upon something.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I Laughed 'Til I Cried

I found this website through The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks, and I really did laugh until I cried. Here are four favourites.

Edited to add: I can't believe I almost left out this one.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Ode to a Stitch Holder

Okay well I didn't really write a poem or anything, but this little silver stitch holder was such a pretty sight to me that I wanted to share it with you, tonight. You see, it has 71 silky soft alpaca stitches hanging onto it, which means that I have finished the back of my sweater and am ready to start the second sleeve.

I tried it on (despite the wiltingly oppressive heat) and even though it only goes three-quarters of the way around me, it looks so cute that I can't wait to be finished (and for autumn.)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Mystery Shawl

Things are moving along quickly on the cardigan -- I've finished the first sleeve and am nearly halfway across the back, already. And still loving it. I even closed the sleeve seam, so I could try it on and make sure things are fitting right. But we'll talk about that next time... Today I want to show off something else:

This is my completed Anniversary Mystery Shawl (begun here or found on Ravelry here) blocking out on my bed. I think the light blue of the sheet really makes the Ruby colour pop out. Or maybe I'm just biased to think this thing is really really pretty.

Would you believe that I didn't even measure it when it was blocking?? My estimate is about 45 inches across. It fits me comfortably, folded in half to make a semicircle, just covering my shoulders and crossing in front enough to close it with a nice pin (note to self: get a nice pin.) Yeah, I didn't get a photo of me wearing it like that either. But look, a close-up of the center!

For those of you who haven't been following along, this was a mystery shawl, which means that I didn't really know what I was making until it was finished. I mean, I knew it was a shawl, but I didn't know what it would look like in the end. This particular mystery was amped up a bit by giving knitters a choice, at each clue from 1-4, four options of what lace pattern to knit. If you have a Ravelry account, go check them out with the link above -- there are so many variations that it's hard to not want to knit another.

This photo is an attempt to show the various lace patterns close up. For the record, I chose clue D for the first three clues, and then C for the last one. There was no rhyme or reason to my choices, just intuition. I thought the chart to make the second clue looked like little ladybugs, and for the fourth, I liked the motif that looked like it would be feathers or evergreen trees. They both turned out pretty much like I had anticipated.

Overall, I really enjoyed this project -- a mystery is always fun, and knitting lace is so engaging. Especially when the yarn (JaggerSpun Zephyr wool/silk laceweight from my stash of leftovers, if you really want to know) is free.

Friday, August 8, 2008

So In Love

Has it only been two days? I have been knitting joyfully along on my cardigan (as you can see I am well into the first sleeve) and loving how it is developing. When I held up the left front to check for size, it seems absolutely perfect. Admittedly I had been a bit nervous about it, since I have chosen a size that is somewhat smaller than me. See, I have made garter stitch garments before, and I know that if you make the size you are, then it will hang on you like a stiff sack and not show off the bootylicious curves. When I looked over this pattern initially, I figured that the size Large (with a circumference 6 inches less than my own circumference) would give it just enough stretch to look good, but hopefully not so much that it will look like I am wearing a sweater borrowed from Kate Moss. I mean, if you look at the photo accompanying the pattern, I think it is pretty clearly snug over her bust and looser around the waistline. Since this pattern is shaped as an A-line, clearly I must choose a size that fits the waist, more or less, and is a bit smaller than my bust and my hips (see how it sits comfortably open at the hip, too?) Well, that's my theory, anyway. If I am wrong, then one of my slightly smaller friends might be inheriting a really adorable sweater in the fall.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Best. Pattern. Ever.

There is a Norwegian company called Drops which puts out free knitting patterns on the web a couple of times a year. It's a pretty exciting moment for nerdy knit bloggers, when the new crop of patterns show up. The designs tend to be a bit European trendy, but also somewhat classic. And sometimes the two come together for something truly inspired. When this year's Fall/Winter patterns came out, I immediately fell in love with three of them (dare you to guess which three.) The one that I was the most anxious to start is this cute little striped cardigan.

When I finished my Mystery Shawl the other night (sorry still no photos -- I haven't been able to block it yet) I immediately did a gauge swatch for the sweater. (Aside: I had to wait until I finished my shawl before I did the swatch, because they are on the same size needle. I realized at that moment that the last five or six projects I did have all been on that size (3.5 mm) needle. Baby sweaters, lacy shawls, grown-up cardigans... Weird.)

So yesterday morning I cast on for the sweater and started knitting the left front.

Recipe for knitting addiction:
  • one part yarn that changes colour so you have to keep going to see what will happen next
  • one part soft and silky alpaca so your hands want to keep stroking it and not put it down
  • one part mindblowingly innovative pattern that you're not quite sure you understand even when you are in the midst of it, but it slowly begins to dawn on you what you're doing (a la Elizabeth Zimmermann's Baby Surprise Jacket)
  • one part knowledge that it will be a gorgeous FO that will almost make up for the fact that the project is over