Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Still Casting On

"I can resist anything except temptation."
Oscar Wilde

The other day, as I was walking to work, I thought of what lovely weather we were (finally) having, and how nice it would be to have a new little project to work on as I walk to and fro in the sun. Once I got home, I grabbed up the two balls of Elann sock yarn I had waiting for just such an occasion. I cast on for my go-to Universal Toe-Up Sock, with my usual 3:1 ratio for a striped sock. As you can see, I really shook things up, this time, by making the darker colour the background, with the lighter colour for toe/heel/cuff/stripes. I know, crazy, right? They are flying off the needles -- the first one is past the halfway point, already -- and then I guess I will pick a slightly more challenging pattern for my next pair of walking socks.

In the meantime, I have made some more progress on the little crocheted hexagons. I haven't even made much of a dent in my sock yarn leftovers, and I already have a couple dozen of these little guys done. Not nearly enough to make a blanket, of course, since each one is only a few inches across, but still, a nice start. They are so squishy and soft and colourful -- makes me so happy to look at that bright little stack!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I Died For Beauty

I Died For Beauty
by Emily Dickinson

I died for beauty but was scarce
Adjusted in the tomb,
When one who died for truth was lain
In an adjoining room.

He questioned softly why I failed?
"For beauty," I replied.
"And I for truth, the two are one;
We brethren are," he said.

And so, as kinsmen met a night,
We talked between the rooms,
Until the moss had reached our lips,
And covered up our names.

The shawl turned out lovely, and was delightful right to the end. As the rows get shorter and shorter, it really builds up momentum, and before you know it, it's done. It didn't block out quite as big as the pattern says it should -- I think if I had blocking wires, I could have blocked it much more severely, and made it closer to those dimensions. I intended it to be a neck-scarf more than a shawl, though, so I don't mind if it's smallish. I'd rather keep it smaller and have the garter stitch stay squishy than block it bigger and have it flatter and more drapey.

Who knew that simply putting pink beads on would make it so girly? It is such an adorable bit of fluff, and reminds me of one of my favourite things in the world: red velvet cupcakes with their pink and white frosting (aka Scarlett O'Hara, from Fuss cupcakes -- feel free to pick one up for me, if you're ever in town.)

Now that I have this little alpaca obsession out of the way, I can get back to some of my other projects. I've made a bunch more little crocheted sock yarn hexagons recently, and good progress on the back of my red wooly cardi. I even did some *gasp* sewing!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Emily Dickinson is Holding Me Ransom

Of course I mean that I just can't put down my Emily Dickinson shawl, in the last few days -- I have gotten as far as the beaded portion, and the pink beads make a subtle but lovely sparkle through the lovely alpaca haze of garter stitch.

I have also realized how ingenious the design is, since the rows are going faster and faster as they are slowly decreasing down to nothing. With the bottom-up design, you get the slower and more fiddly rows for the edging done at the beginning, and then everything gets faster and easier as you carry on.

I can really forsee me making another one one of these, in the deep lovely red alpaca laceweight that I have leftover from my previous Ruffle shawl & Veyla gloves. All I have to do is decide what colour of beads to use...

Friday, June 11, 2010

Something New

Since my self-imposed restriction to only use up yarn from the stash this year, I have certainly felt some frustration at the limitations of it. There are many projects that I have seen and admired, many yarns and fabrics that I would love to stock up on, but alas. It certainly hasn't curbed my impulsive nature -- that part of me that makes me want to cast on new things constantly, that disregards my well-made plans to instead skip the queue with any little new project that comes along.

I haven't felt much like finishing things, lately. My suede tote bag is sitting here, probably an hour or two of fiddly hand-stitching away from being done, and while I do look guiltily at it every day, I haven't yet girded my loins and done it. My lovely twisted-stitch sock is also waiting patiently for me to finish the foot and toe.

Instead, like a raven, something sparkly and new has caught my eye.

When I saw the simple and beautiful Emily Dickinson shawl on Ravelry, I was enchanted. It just so happens that I have some laceweight Alpaca sitting around (yeah, I had planned to use it for something else, but sometimes you have to follow your heart) that would be just enough to make it. I went out and bought some lovely rose pink beads and cast on, the other day. It is an interesting shawl, in that the construction is reversed from the norm: for this one, you cast on at the bottom edge and decrease your way to the center top. A bit intimidating, I must admit, when the first line of the pattern is "cast on 545 stitches." Yikes. I am past the lacey points at the bottom, which has cut the stitches by half already, and into the lovely mindless garter stitch body. Have I mentioned how much I love garter stitch? So simple and beautiful and squishy. And this yarn is just completely the softest butteriest alpaca you can imagine. I am really looking forward to wearing this one, which must be why I have been working on it pretty exclusively since I cast it on.

On Tuesday night with the knitters, over a long in-depth analysis of The Wire Season Three, I managed to knit six inches of 2x2 rib for the back of my new wooly cardigan. I am really hoping that this one will turn out as good as it is in my head. The swatch for it looked really good, and the yarn is very soft and round merino, so as long as it doesn't pill horribly (cross your fingers) it should be a winner.

Maybe one of these days I'll have something finished, to show off.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

On Infidelity

Before knitting took over my life, I used to have a lot of hobbies -- I used to read a lot more, and you know, even leave the house from time to time. I also spent a lot of time and money on a lot of different crafts: I embroidered and cross-stitched and made Japanese temari balls and sewed a lot of clothes and tried out paper quilling... You name it, I tried it. One thing that I never really took to was crochet.

It's not that I have an inherent bias against crochet -- okay, yeah, I do. It's not stretchy like knitting, which I find is usually a detriment. There are occasions where the stability would be preferable (if you don't see what I mean, just try to knit a corset) but generally I like my projects to have a little give. That, and I've never really learned it beyond the very basics.

So what happened to me, lately? I seem to have caught a crochet bug this week.

I have been sitting on lots of leftover sock yarn (as I'm sure every sock knitter does) and trying to decide what to do with it. I looked at a lot of little projects and various sock blankets on Ravelry, but for some reason the one that really appealed to me was little crocheted hexagons. Maybe it's the hexagon thing: after all, I am only making thousands of them for a quilt -- what's a few hundred more?

I began with a few from some of the leftover orange and brown yarn from the Fisherman socks.

Then I pulled out some leftover Koigu from my Lindsay socks.

I think I like them. I will continue making them, anyway. They are such a quick little thing (maybe 5 minutes a piece?) that it's easy to squeeze one in, if I don't have time for a repeat or two of knitting.

Then I found a really cute pattern for square shell coasters. Since I was already crocheting the hexagons, why not try this on some leftover hemp yarn I had? It is a little sloppy because of my uneven tension (I finally figured out how to tension the yarn without getting finger cramps -- on the next-to-last round) but I think it's still pretty cute. It's a bit big for a coaster, maybe, at about 5ish inches across, but works well for my big mug of iced coffee, this afternoon. Maybe with a little practice, they will even out enough to use them as gifts for someone, sometime.

Or maybe I'll get distracted right away by some more lovely knitting.