Sunday, December 16, 2012

Placemats Galore

I don't make many handmade gifts for the holidays, since non-crafty folks don't always see the love and time and thought that went into them.  Every year, though, I make a few things to give to people that I think will appreciate them.

You may remember that in September I mentioned making myself a set of placemats, having completed a couple of sets for other people.  Well, as the holidays draw nearer, I finally decided I'd better spend some time washing and ironing said placemats, to get them ready for gifting.

They turned out quite lovely: a set in huck, in Bermuda Blue, and a set in huck lace, in Charcoal, for two people that I think will love those colours.  Then of course my own set, which I previewed at the time, also in huck lace, in Frost Grey.  All of them are 3/2 cotton (the first two from Cotton Clouds, and the third from Webs.)  While I love them all, I have to admit that I think the Frost Grey yarn was my favourite, and even better, it was actually the cheaper of the two.

I've got another exciting weaving project planned for first thing in the new year, but at the moment, my crafting table is covered with a different project: a new quilt!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

London Fog Creme Brulee

Having made macarons (and all that swiss buttercream) last weekend, I had a ton of egg yolks left over in my fridge.  How to use them all up?  I had a couple of ideas (mostly taken from this helpful site of yumminess) but I decided on creme brulee, and why not, really.

After the complexities of macarons, Alton's basic recipe for creme brulee wasn't quite exciting enough, so I took some inspiration from my favourite London Fog and turned it up to 11.  A bit of earl grey infused into the cream, and a whole vanilla bean's worth of caviar really made this one special.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Adventures in Macarons

Macarons have been on my radar recently, as I'm sure many other foodies will agree.  I've even heard it said that macarons are the new cupcakes.  Having never tasted one, I've been quite intrigued by the excitement surrounding these little delicacies.  Apparently they can be quite finicky to bake, but I have to admit that the first articles I read about making them, on BraveTart, really took the mystery out of it all: among others, there's one about how to make them, and even better, one that busts so many of the myths about how difficult they are.  They were pretty much a perfect introduction to macarons, since it made them accessible to me, right away, while taking away the intimidation of attempting them.

Over the past few days, I've read and reread those articles, along with some others, like the ones at Food Nouveau, and I gathered everything I needed, so I'd be able to take a crack at it tonight.

In the end, the only equipment I was missing is my oven thermometer, which means that I am a bit unsure how accurate my oven temperature is (apparently a serious issue in making successful macarons.)  I learned with the first batch that my oven is far too hot on the left, since that pan cracked completely.  The second pan was all right, perhaps a bit overdone.  For the last pan, I turned the temperature down juuuust a touch, and they turned out oh-so-beautiful.  Look at those little frilly feet and round tops.  As you can see, I went the "imperfection is adorable" route, and left the little nipples on top of the cookies.  If I had wanted to, I could have flattened those out before baking.

The recipe for Swiss Buttercream on BraveTart is a large one - it calls for two pounds of butter, if that gives you some idea of the volume of it - but it makes enough for several batches of macarons.  After filling these ones, I put the rest of the buttercream into the freezer for another day.

I ate a couple of the halves while assembling (a chef has to test her work, after all) but mostly I just filled and assembled them and stored them in the fridge, since I'm told that they are better after a day (or two) of resting. They were pretty lovely and crunchy and meringuey today - hopefully they will be even more heavenly tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Karma Chameleon Socks

It's always nice to have a stockingette sock to plug away on, when you need a mindless project to occupy your hands.  It's even nicer when the yarn came to you for free from your sister's destashing.

This particular yarn is Koigu KPPPM (one of my all-time faves) in some crazy blue & purple & pink combo.  I knit them toe-up, and put in the afterthought heel before I even finished the leg, just to make sure I could use up every darn bit of the yarn.

Thanks sis!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Pretty in Pink

Last winter, I made myself a pretty blue hat from SweetGeorgia's superwash worsted yarn, and I've worn it a lot this year.  It has a great drape, and hasn't lost its charm one bit.

With the holiday season coming, I had an idea to knit another one, as a gift for someone who would look great in a cool slouchy hat.  I thought that pink would be a good colour for her, so this time I chose SweetGeorgia's Orchid colourway, in the same round and lovely yarn.

I didn't change a thing about the hat, since I think it's pretty perfect as it is.  Once again, it was a super-quick knit and I had it done in no time.

Perhaps it's going overboard, but then I decided to make a cute pair of matching mittens, in Orchid and Charcoal.  I wanted to do this herringbone mitten pattern (free on Ravelry) for years, and now was my chance.  I chose superwash dk for this one, and somehow got gauge and made the loveliest mittens.  I have tons and tons of this yarn left over; I bet it's even enough to do a second pair.

I think a chevron might have been more aesthetically pleasing (especially since chevrons are so in, this year) but with chevrons, the floats in back would be up to five stitches long.  With this particular herringbone, they are never longer than two stitches long on the front or back of the mitten.  This means they will be super warm stranded mitts, but not so snaggy as something with longer floats.

I love the look of the thumb, the most - especially the way the stitches grow out of that center black column.  If it wasn't so awkward to get a photo of the inner thumb, I would show you how they disappear into a black column on that side of the thumb, too.  The biased knitting makes the thumb nice and snug and comfy.

The only thing that makes these less-than-totally-perfect is that the two yarns took the Orchid colour slightly differently, so the hat looks just a bit more red and the mittens a bit more pink.  Even so, they're beautiful, and I think the giftee will agree on that.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Third Time's the Charm

I think I should have called these ones my Goldilocks socks.  When I started them, I made the circumference larger than I should have, and they ended up too loose around my foot.  I ripped them back to the toe, and redid the foot with a smaller circumference, this time using the circumference I would usually use at this gauge for a stockingette sock.  I got past the heel, that time, before I finally faced facts that the design pulled the stitches in tighter than stockingette would, and acknowledged that they were too tight.  Heaving a big sigh, I ripped back to the toe again and chose a number between the two.  This time they are juuuuust right.

And so pretty!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Nordic Pot Holders

The Norwegian yarn company Drops is always putting out great free knitting & crochet designs.  Over the years I have knit many of them (and have many more in my mental queue.)  Every winter they organize a little set of holiday themed designs, and this is one that I've been wanting to make since they first published it a few years ago.

The original design is in cotton yarn, but I think that's a bit crazy.  Cotton yarn is a fantastic conductor of heat when wet, which translates into burned hands from gripping hot pans (I've learned that lesson the hard way.)  Wool, on the other hand, is insulating when wet or dry, so you won't burn yourself even if these get damp.  I had intended to add a layer of quilt batting in the middle, to add some extra insulation, but it turns out that two layers of stranded DK weight wool are pretty thick already.  I washed and blocked them to tidy up the stitches a bit, and just like that, my holiday decorating has begun.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Mawata Mittens

Last time I was in Portland, I was trying to find a suitable treat to bring home for some of my knitting pals.  I saw a bunch of silk hankies (aka mawata) on display and remembered the lovely mittens that Yarn Harlot once made from them.  I picked up a handful of brightly coloured hankies for each of the girls, thinking that maybe we might have a knitalong sometime.

A few months ago, one of them actually started to use the hankies to make some mittens, and we were all enthralled as we watched the process of drafting and knitting from them.  One by one, we grabbed our own mawata and began to make our own colourful and beautiful silky mittens.

My own mawata were not actually from that same trip to Portland, but instead came from wooliebullie on etsy, and are called Teal for Two.  The teal is quite a blue one, and what I took for copper in the etsy photos is actually a lovely deep chocolatey brown.  When I drafted the yarn, the blue smooshed into the drifts of white and the brown steeped through it all until it made for a lovely variegated yarn.  The yarn is, of course, a bit thick-and-thin, since I'm new to drafting mawata and knitting with it.  I totally improvised the mitten pattern, but it turned out pretty well.  They fit like... well, like a properly-sized mitten.  I did a more rounded top than I usually do (some of you may remember my penchant for the Norwegian pointed-top) and I really like it.

By the way, it's really hard to get a photo of your own hands in mittens.  All I could manage was one hand, unless I pushed the button with my nose.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tequila Stout

For the third beer I brewed, I decided to try something a little different, and I used some agave syrup in it.  Agave, of course, is what tequila is fermented and distilled from, so I thought it would make for an interesting brew.  I made a nice dark Irish Stout and added a bunch of agave and a few peppercorns for some added bite.

In the end, it made a deep dark stout - the agave gives it a sort of a tangy finish, but of course not what a distilled tequila would give.  It has a fairly good head on it, and will definitely keep me warm this winter.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Swoon Quilt

Earlier this year, I showed you bunch of photos of the progress on my Swoon quilt, as I was putting the blocks together and constructing it.  Unfortunately, getting a finished photo of a full-size quilt is a lot harder than a scarf or pair of socks.  Just before our big snowstorm last week, I finally got my live-in photographer to take a photo of Swoon so I could finally show off the finished quilt to you.  I think it was worth the wait.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Jedi Mind Trick socks

Another of the languishing knitting projects I finally picked up after my scarf adventure was this pair of socks from the August 2012 shipment of the Cookie A sock club.  When the shipment arrived, I was super excited because the theme of these socks was Star Wars-related, which is - duh - sort of my thing.  It's also a pretty cool design.  Those of you who aren't knitters will see a nice-looking sock, but those of you who knit might be looking at that sock and thinking: "um, what the heck is going on, there?"  I guess that is the mind trick part.

I sat down with the first sock back in August, and figured out how to knit the stitch pattern.  It's a bit fiddly, but obviously looks awesome when it's done.  I finished the first sock pretty quickly.  I am not generally one to get second-sock-syndrome, but for some reason, after finishing the ribbed cuff of the second sock, it just sat there... and sat there... while I finished several other things (including entire other pairs of socks.)  A couple of days ago, I was inspired to pick it up again, and I finished the second sock in three days' knitting.  I am a bit worried about the pattern being too bulky for shoes, but at least one other knitter who has made them says they're no more bulky than a simple cable would be.

The yarn is from Enchanted Knoll Farm and is a new one to me - quite thin and sturdy-feeling, as with most wool/nylon blends, and very tightly spun.  The colour is so great, just a perfect acid green.  Another win for Cookie A (and Jedi everywhere.)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Joker's Henchman

Just when you thought I was done showing off scarves, I pull out one more.  I actually made this one in the midst of all of the Kindergarten Scarves (and the leftovers from it were included in the plaids) but it's actually a separate project.  Because I was so in-the-groove with weaving wooly scarves, I offered to make one for one of my friends, if she was interested.  She bought the wool (Cascade 220 in Chartreuse and Heather) and picked the weaving draft (which she liked when she saw it in the Jj scarf) and I wove it up for her a week or so ago.

Although "little green men" might make you think of aliens, the colours actually evoke the Joker for me.  I guess that makes her one of the Joker's henchmen.  She loves it, which is what really matters.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Using the Leftovers - Purples/Grey

And so my beautiful loom, Miss Bennet, is naked again.  (Don't look!  She's shy.)  The last of this year's series of Kindergarten Scarves is finished, washed and dried and ready to go.

For this one, I did another plaid in 2/2 twill - this time I didn't mirror the colour sequence, but rather repeated it twice across the width of the scarf.  Then I wove the same repeat for the length.  Because I had more of the grey and lavender (Montmartre) left over, I doubled the width of those stripes in comparison to the other four, which worked out perfectly to balance the light shades and dark shades.  My only regret is the lack of symmetry, i.e. not having one more column up one side to make it five colour blocks wide instead of four.  That would satisfy my aesthetic side a bit better.

The funny thing is that of this year's scarves, the ones that were unplanned were the ones I got the best feedback on.  Maybe next year I'll just skip the planning and do a series of assorted plaids.

I present to you, the Kindergarten Scarves, 2012 series:

Thursday, November 8, 2012


The final scarf is washed and laid out to dry, so I've been changing my focus to some other projects, namely some knitting that has been sorely neglected.

We had a crazy snowfall here, yesterday morning, and after going out for coffee and knitting with a friend, I came home to have a cozy bath with a Lush bubble bar and a good book, and then decided to finish a pair of slippers that have been languishing for far too long.  These ones are Hopsalots, by Tiny Owl Knits, who designs the frickin cutest stuff ever (like, as if you don't want this.)

All I had to do was sew on the ears and do the little bits of embroidery and I have some cozy slippers to wear around the house.  Even my HLM admitted they're pretty cute.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Using the Leftovers - Blues/Greens

Having made so many scarves in this series, I had quite a bit of yarn left over, and split it up into two piles: blues/greens and purples/grey.  I had plenty of each left to make a final couple of scarves.

For this one, I arrayed the blues and greens in a progression of colour, mirroring it at the center.  Then I wove it following the same progression.  It made for a nice plaid and I really think it's my favourite of this year's scarves.  Maybe it's just because I picked all these colours in the first place and I think they're all so pretty...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Kindergarten Scarf Qq

I can't think of anything clever that Q might stand for, but here is the next scarf, nevertheless.

Another crazy design in crazy colours -- as someone with no kids, this is the sort of thing I believe they like -- this one is in Garnet Heather for the warp (a sort of plummy wine purple) with Citron for the weft (a glorious bright apple green.)

You're looking at front and back, there.  Not a lot of difference between them, but some of you might pick it up.  I had a challenge in making the diamonds even - some of them are a bit stretched out on one side because I wasn't totally consistent with my weaving.

That's the last of the scarves in original colours.  I am doing two more using up all the leftovers: one in blues/greens and one in purples.  I've started the first one, and I think it might be the nicest, yet.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Truth, Love, & Laughter

In the last hours before the election below our border, I thought I would take some time to show off some art I made earlier this year.  Normally I consider my work to fall under the heading of “crafts” rather than “arts” but sometimes I feel like I straddle that line, and this is one of those times.

Bill Hicks was a satirist that I discovered a decade or so ago, a handful of years after his death from pancreatic cancer, at only 32.  I have watched and listened to nearly every bit of recorded tape that exists of Bill, and his is the voice in my head that guides me when I strive to be an intelligent, thoughtful, and compassionate human being.  Although I never knew of him when he was alive, I miss his presence in the world in a heart-wrenching way, and often wonder what he would have to say about so many of the issues we face, today.

Front of Quilt - click for bigger
Four years ago, as George W. Bush’s second term as President was coming to a close, I was inspired to make a quilt with Bill’s words on it.  I bought the fabric and planned it out, but once Barack Obama was elected, I felt (like so many others) a new day was dawning in world politics – that perhaps things might turn around, after all.  Perhaps people would no longer be content to let the wool be pulled over their eyes.

As this year’s Presidential election loomed ever closer, I see again the lies, the partisanship, the way the media tries to distract us all from the real issues by focusing on petty politics, shoddy statistics, and inaccurate facts.  I pulled out my old quilt design and slowly put it together, thinking of Bill and all of the things he would say, were he still here to say them.

Quilt Back - click for bigger
I hope that, in some way, his dream will be in your thoughts, if you are one of those going to the polls to vote.  I hope that you will think of a country where honesty and intelligence matters, where integrity is something of value, and where a voice like Bill’s can guide us.

If you want to see the stand-up routine that encompasses this quote, please go here.

“I left in love, in laughter, and in truth, and wherever truth, love, and laughter abide, I am there in spirit.” – Bill Hicks

Sunday, November 4, 2012

P is for Purple

Yesterday, as my series of Kindergarten Scarves starts to near the end, I decided to go with something a little fancier and more complicated than most of the ones I've done, so far.  I had set aside two shades of purple for this design, an M&W threading for a 2/2 twill.  I was worried that a lot of the detail would be lost in the fluffy wool, but it actually turned out pretty nice, after washing and drying.  It will be nice for a kid with an eye for detail.

The day before yesterday I did the last of the hopsack scarves - this one was a 3:1 hopsack, which made a design of little magenta squares on one side of the scarf, and little teal squares on the other side.  The squares fluffed up quite a bit and it seems like a thicker scarf than the others, which might just be an illusion.  I like that the two layers are coordinated but different.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

N is for Navy

It might look more black than navy, but trust me on this one - that's a grey and navy 4-shaft houndstooth  you're looking at.  I figured that not all kids are playful and colourful and looking for wacky scarves - some are more conservative, like future PC party members (or Young Republicans, for our neighbours in the south.)  This scarf will match perfectly with a dressy grey or navy suit that any kid might aspire to wearing.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Not Quite a Burberry Scarf

When I first put these leftover shades together for a scarf, I thought of it as just a bunch of autumn tones.  After weaving a bit, they started to remind me of a Burberry Scarf, if only the colours were a bit different (and of course the plaid was more regular.)

I started this one out with a warp using a 6:2:6:10:4 repeat.  With only four colours, this means that it would make an irregular-looking pattern.  Once I started weaving, using the same repeat, I soon realized that I wouldn't have enough of most of the colours to make the scarf long enough.  I had lots of the natural, though, so I started to incorporate longer sections of natural within a random design.  You can see the transition between the left and right panels.  It certainly ended up an irregular scarf, but still sort of cute.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

L is for Lightning

I decided to start using up some of the leftovers, for this scarf, and picked a simple 2/2 twill with Oxblood for the warp and Lemon Yellow for the weft.  I thought it would make an interesting scarf if I did a bunch of random back-and-forth with the twill, and it did.  Then I realized that I was going to run out of yellow before the scarf was long enough, so I had to throw in a bunch of natural yarn to make up the difference, and I did it randomly in amongst the random twill.  It made for an interesting effect, overall.  If I had the choice, I would have rather it was just yellow, since I think that colour combination vibrates less, but as Tim Gunn would say: make it work.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Kindergarten Scarf Kk

I finished the fifth of the scarves last night, another hopsack weave in another crazy colour combination of Cascade 220.  When I was winding these two beautiful heathered shades -- Pacific (blue) and Provence (orange) -- on the ball winder, they both made me swoon with how lovely they are, and I ended up craving two new cardigans, one of each.  Put together in this scarf, I don't think they have quite enough contrast to really make it pop.  I am still really happy with this one, though -- I think it looks pretty cool, and I'm sure some kid will love it.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Rorschach Test

Another hopsack scarf finished, and this one has another cool little design on it.  Initially it made me think of a stack of one little inukshuk on top of another (apparently the plural of inukshuk is inuksuit, if you ever wanted to know) but now I sort of see chubby little men.  At some point in the weaving it started to look to me like stacks of Space Invaders.  I think this is one of those patterns that might look like something different to everyone who looks at it.  I'm totally going to psychoanalyze all of you, if you tell me what you see.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Two More for the Kids

The first colour combo I chose with the Cascade 220 is a bold one - a deep teal blue (Azure) with a lighter Lemon Yellow.  I did this particular weaving draft in last year's scarves, as well, but in a colour combination that didn't have enough contrast.  This one has lots of contrast, and in fact vibrates a bit when you look at it.  I'm pretty sure that some kid will love this crazy scarf.  I hope it gives them a bit of a puzzle, too, to figure out how there are vertical stripes on one side of the scarf and horizontal stripes on the other side.

Yesterday, I worked up a second colour combination with the three-colour hopsack.  This time, I used the Peruvian Highland Wool in Peach for the warp and did the weft in Brick and Natural.  As I mentioned, the gingham effect is much more successful this time, presumably because of the use of the Natural yarn.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Kindergarten Scarves Hh

Last winter, I did a series of woven scarves to donate to some kids who needed a little homemade love.  As I mentioned at the time, they are so quick that it's like instant gratification and also a fun way to experiment with colour combinations and various weaving drafts.  I decided to play some more this year, and stocked up on Cascade 220 when it was on sale at Webs in the springtime.  I pulled it out the other day to start planning this series and then found a bag with some leftovers of Elann Peruvian Highland Wool, as well.  So now I am well stocked, for a dozen or so scarves.  Let the games begin.

The first draft I chose was a hopsack draft that uses one colour in the warp and two other colours in the weft.  It makes a sort of faux gingham if the right colours are used, which is what I went for, here.  The yarn is the Peruvian Highland Wool from Elann, in Peach, Brick, and Oxblood.  I warped and wove this one on Tuesday.  I like how it looks, in those warm autumn tones, but it's not exactly what I was going for.  Today I am trying another colour combo which is working better - I'll show it off when it's been washed and dried.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Beer for Nerds

When I posted about my first beer, I mentioned that I had plans for something darker and stronger and more complex.  Well, tonight I finally got to crack a bottle of my second brew.  As planned, I made this one darker than the first, by adding a nice brown malt extract.  I also added some brown sugar for body (and for increased alcohol - should be around 6% for this one) and some extra Fuggle hops for aroma.

The end result is a beer that is darker (I would call it a dark brown ale, not quite a stout) with a smooth mouthfeel and a nice creamy head.  The aroma of the hops is more subtle than intended, probably because I added them later than would have been ideal.  Live and learn.

I have a stout conditioning in my closet right now, and a witbier fermenting in my brew keg, plus some exciting plans for a collaboration with my HLM.  Crafty girl plus clever chef hopefully equals kick-ass beer.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Pumpkin Hand Pies

I recently saw a post online for some salted caramel apple hand pies, and while they sounded just divine, I found myself craving something in a pumpkin flavor, instead.

Canned pumpkin just happens to be on sale (Thanksgiving is coming, after all) so I picked some up and took a few minutes today to make some of the little darlings.

The only drawback is the lack of whipped cream - one of the best parts of pumpkin pie, in my opinion.  The good news is that they are very dippable, particularly in the aforementioned whipped cream.  I checked.  Several times, just to be really scientific about it.

Because the filling was so runny before baking, I couldn't fit much into the little pies.  Apples would be better, in that respect, since they can be piled up a bit higher.  I ended up cooking the bulk of the pumpkin filling in little ramekins, which will make for nice desserts, as well.  Overall, a delicious success.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Aphid Scarf

Getting all those placemats done opened up Miss Bennet for a new weaving project.  This time it was a lovely (and quick!) alpaca scarf.

Last winter, I made an alpaca scarf for my HLM, and I had someone at work admire it enough to offer to buy it from me.  Well, I could hardly give away his scarf, so I had to refuse the offer.  Since then, she's hinted a couple of times at wanting a similar scarf, something in houndstooth, in unorthodox colours...  So I decided to take her up on it and weave her a little something.

This scarf is made of sport weight fair-trade alpaca from Frog Tree Yarns, in a pale lime green and a cool grey brown, woven at 15 epi.  I chose an 8-shaft houndstooth, since I felt like it makes a bolder statement than a 4-shaft houndstooth would.  The houndstooth draft is a 4/4 twill, which gives long floats and lots of bias movement in the final cloth.  I fulled it a bit in the sink before laying it out to dry, to make the cloth more cohesive, and of course alpaca will naturally felt together with use, to stabilize the fabric even more.

It is light and soft and airy in the hand, but will be warm and cozy on her neck in the cold winter months.  Needless to say, I got myself enough yarn (in dramatically different colours, mind you) to make myself a similar one.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Some Fancy Placemats

I've been doing a fair bit of weaving in the last week or so, making a couple of sets of placemats for holiday gifts.  (Yes, I know it's only September.  That's when holiday planning starts, right?)  Having finished those, I decided to whip up a little gift to myself, and make some new placemats for our own kitchen table.

These ones are similar to the Burnt Sienna ones I made for my Mom a while back, although those were simply huck, and these are huck lace.  If you look at the photo, you can see that the center of the mat is a bunch of little squares, alternating between horizontal and vertical floats, with little spaces between them.  Once they are off the loom and washed, those holes should open up even more as the threads all cuddle up against each other.  I've made mine in a fancy frost grey colour - with any luck, they'll class up this joint a bit.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Fiji Mermaid Socks

I'm over my cold, now, and back to knitting some more complicated projects, but I did manage to finish one more pair of stockingette socks, first.

This is another pair from leftover Knit Picks Stroll Sock - the toes, heels, and cuff are in Midnight Heather, and the stripes are 5 rounds each of Tidepool Heather and Sapphire Heather.  Yes, the yarn was all left over from my Anthro 101 cardi, and yes, I will make sure we get some photos of it soon.

I played a bit with the sizing on this pair, adding a few increases on the instep, then a handful more along the leg.  It gave a bit of ease which I think makes them fit better on me than a straight tube.  The stripes helped to make it easy to match the second one to the first.

(If you're wondering about the name, I took it from one of my favourite X-Files episodes: Humbug.  It seemed to suit.)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Duchess in Wonderland Socks

I am fighting off a bear of a summer cold right now, and there is nothing worse than sniffling and coughing while sweating away in 30 degree weather, in my estimation.  I've been pretty miserable to be around, I expect (I'm sure my coworkers and my HLM would back me up on that) and unable to accomplish much of anything but knitting simple stockingette.

As you can see, this helped me to polish off a pair of socks, made of yarn leftover from my Anthro 101 cardigan. (Knit Picks Stroll Sock in Duchess Heather and Wonderland Heather, if you care.)  I do realize that I still owe you photos of that cardigan, as well as the long-finished Swoon quilt.  First, though, I need another kleenex.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Death of a Wonderful Old Codger

I am saddened to hear that Gore Vidal has died - he was (as I've pointed out before) one of my favourite American cultural and political voices.  In his later years, his cantankerous nature shone through, and I can only hope to be so unabashed in my own twilight.

I refer you again to the last interview I saw him do, several years ago.  Opinionated and argumentative and downright bitchy... gotta love it.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Horoscope Shawl

Way back in May, I showed you a progress photo of a wrap that I was weaving.  I finally got the finished project shots back from my photographer, so now I can give you the whole story.

When I was a beginning weaver, I did a lot of websurfing to look at weaving projects.  Somewhere along the way, I ran across Bonnie Tarses' website, and found inspiration in her work.  She was creating these pieces based on horoscopes - she would make a sort of map of the sky in the moment a person was born, and use colour and texture to indicate the position of the astrological houses and planets in that moment.  I was entranced by their beauty, and although I thought it was well beyond my skill level at that point, I ordered myself a kit to make one.

Having made a lot of other things in the meantime, the horoscope shawl was always in the back of my mind, and this year when my birthday rolled around, I thought it would be a perfect time to bring this project to the head of my weaving queue.

Winding the warp was the intimidating part - it involved 12 different colours of Bambu 7, being wound in a very specific order, often with two (or three or four) alternating.  It was a challenge to get it right, while keeping the cross intact and not ending up with a tangled mess of spools on the floor.

After the warp was wound, it was a relatively easy process to dress the loom (thanks to a couple of really helpful tips from Bonnie) and then the weaving itself was simple and meditative, being just a basic plain weave in one colour of Bambu 12.  Throughout the weaving process, I spent a lot of time just admiring the colours, stroking it and feeling the texture of the "planets" nestled in the smooth fabric.

The finished product is a soft and colourful wrap - bamboo yarn has a great hand and drapes like a dream.  As you can see, I added a band of blue to either side of the horoscope, to widen the wrap a bit, and make it a more appropriate size for me.  I think it ended up just about perfect, and look forward to using it to brighten up some outfits, on dressy occasions.