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.