Monthly Archives: December 2010

Old Projects and Winter Cleaning

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I mentioned a few days ago that I had knit my friend Mroo a present. This was pretty much a wing-it-it-can’t-be-that-hard-to-knit blanket. (all pictures of the Cozy are done by Mroo, not me)

The Cozy on a chair

Well, it wasn’t hard, except for that one point where I had 21 balls of yarn hanging off the back. This was my first real encounter with intarsia, and while the design was my own, hoo boy did it give me nightmares. Whatmore, I set an arbitrary deadline on myself, to have it done by the summer solstice.

Cozy Closeup 1

I cast on an arbitrary number of stitches (which ended up being wider than I meant), and only knit in white for a while. Then I began in purple, and continued on. The entire thing is knit with KnitPicks Suri Dream, which is a fantastic and fuzzy yarn. I used the largest needles I have (size 15 I believe), so that was perhaps the only thing that made getting this done in my two week deadline feasible.

Cozy Closeup 2

I was in North Carolina at the time too. I knit this giant alpaca blanket of intarsia everywhere. I had a canvas tote with it in, and I would knit it in the car, outside, walking, in every spare second I had. It was miserable, hot, sticky, and if I hadn’t been swinging the pattern on my own, I’d probably not been able to do it. When you’re improvisizing a pattern, though, you can use stuff like ‘it looks right.’

Cozy Closeup 0

Mroo loves this thing. It keeps her warm (even though it likes to shed). She’s named it the Cozy, capital C, and I know why. It was superbly warm, comfortable, and has a lot of love put into it. In the center, I put some runes that mean various things–intarsia was the only way I knew to do it.

The Cozy with Index Card

It keeps growing, and unfortunately, my cast off edge doesn’t grow with it. (Mroo doesn’t mind. She’s more blown away by the fact it grows. A blanket that grows. Best blanket ever. I don’t know if I can argue with that)

In other news, I spent most of my day after work and delightful Indian buffet (have I mentioned Indian is delicious?) cleaning up. At the end of every semester, my apartment looks like a small disaster zone after all the exams, papers, and final projects. This year, the surgery only aided in that, and I hadn’t had a good clean since the end of spring semester. I busted out all the cleaners and went to town–scrubbed everything, picked up and put everything it’s place, threw out papers and items that needed to go (like face paint I clearly don’t need anymore), and vacuumed.

This is my garbage bags (these are sanitary, really. It’s just paper and yarn bits that migrate to the floor when I’m not looking).

Now my ‘craft table’ doesn’t look terrible. All the fleeces I have can now fit under the table part, I can access the drawer again (the table can fold out), and it generally doesn’t look like a fiber monster about to consume you if you glance at it wrong.

This sort of cleaning always lets me know how much yarn I really have. Since I like to keep yarn around me that is being used for a project, or will be used, or can be used, or just came off a project, I always feel my yarn closet is full, but not too full. Like maybe it can fit a few more balls, a couple more ounces of fiber.

I certainly don’t think that now. I’m actually kind of worried when I open the door that the entire thing will barf on me. While that will be warm, and save on heating, eventually I’ll need to put it back in. Oh dear. (naturally, this means there isn’t any organization system in the closet besides top shelf = fiber, second shelf = dk weight+ and lace, third shelf = fingering weight, fourth shelf = f.o.s, wips in hibernation, and tools, and floor = mats and objects for cleaning fleeces. So I suppose that’s some order, but not the pretty colour coded thing I had prior to today)

I’ve got pretties, yes I do

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You may remember that at Criafest 2010 (oh my gosh, that’s still this year!) I picked up some lovely alpaca fiber. You may even recall a bag full of brown with strands of gray. You may recall this because it looks amazing.

In bits and pieces, I’ve managed to spin about 2 ounces of it.

I have no idea what the yardage is yet, but it is mostly fingering weight with the occasional DK slub. It’s softer than it looks (and it looks soft). It’s warm as alpaca can be. It’s balanced, and I’m extremely proud of this yarn. This is one of the better spinning jobs I’ve done, and I’m marveling at how well it came out. I can’t believe I spun this :

My next projects–2 ounces of similar loft in white, black, and from a batt I got at Thanksgiving (no photos of it yet, but trust me, it’s delicious).

Hey guys, I can spin.

A Living Meme

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Over at one of my favourite blogs, Shauna has urged the celebrating those we know who are still alive, or rather, writing what we might in an obituary so that the person knows just what makes them awesome.

I’m usually not one for memes, but this is one that I’ll give exception to. Sometimes a person in your life deserves to be celebrated. I have at least two I’d like to do.

The first is for someone I’ve not known for nearly long enough, but who deserves this perhaps more than anyone I know. My good friend Mroo, who’ve I mentioned a few times before–receiver of the Crow Prints Shawl, the Knitting Olympics Socks, the armwarmers from hell, and a never-before-seen-on-this-blog finished object. She’ll likely be getting a slew of other things as well, including a charming set of fair isle mitts.

That list alone should prove one of the most wonderful things about Mroo (from a knitting standpoint)–she’s very knit worthy. I can make her something out of non-superwash wool, and know that the object won’t be ruined forever. I know how much she appreciates these gifts (which they almost always are, only the arm warmers were a real commercial endeavour between us), and I know that they’re going to a good home. She appreciates (as much as any non-knitter can*) the skill and time that goes into these objects.

Some of it, I think, is that she’s an artist, an actual one living that particular lifestyle and trying to pay the bills. She’s one of the few people who I sincerely feel deserves to be successful (though I grant it’s because I love her art style). As such, she can appreciate the type of craft that knitting is–not just a set of directions, but a piece that is defined by so many different factors beyond just what the instructions say.

Besides being what I consider a good artist, she’s also got a sense of humour that delights in the punny, the odd, and the slightly ironic ways that life plays out. It’s thanks to her that I have someone to share my puns with, to create sheep emoticons, and otherwise create those rich inside jokes that make you chuckle on some of the darkest of days.

Mroo is one of the best friends that I’ve ever had–she is there for everything. She doesn’t take it personally when something makes me too uncomfortable to talk to her about until months after I’ve dealt with the issue; and she helps with the rest of the problems that like to come in packs. She’ll tell me stuff as honestly (and gracefully) as she can, and for that I’m grateful. It’s an honour that she comes to me when she needs help sometimes too.

She encourages people to reach for their dreams, to create as best they can, and to otherwise not just blindly accept what people say. She’s intelligent, sharply so, but at the same time, she’s extraordinarily modest and humble, so that you never hate her for it.

Mroo showed up my second year of university. It was a (to the outside observer) somewhat awkward meeting, this super-advanced dinner date at the university dining, but it sparked a friendship that makes me always stipulate my “what if”s with “but only if I get to keep the people I met at Drake.” And always, I’m thinking of Mroo when I say it. Few people have been around for so much in such a short span of time. Few people have dealt with me at my best and at my worst.

So, Mroo, thanks for being awesome. Thanks for being around, and I’m so glad that I’ve met you.

* no knitter will ever fully appreciate the ‘charm’ of weaving in fair isle ends, restarting intarsia armwarmers five separate times, the trouble of intarsia in general for me of the stranding persausion, and all those little ‘joys’ that make us ‘love’ knitting.

The Return of the Picture

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I have no idea what gave you the idea I’ve been on a Lord of the Rings kick.

As I’ve mentioned before, the holiday knitting is in full swing. At present, I’m working on finishing a commission for someone else, so that they have a gift for their mother. It’s another set of the lovely La Joie de Printemps mittens, this time in Araucania Yarns Itata Solid, Periwinkle, and Malabrigo Sock Indecieta.

I’ll admit that I was actually planning on a lavender instead of periwinkle, but now I’m utterly charmed by these mitts. They aren’t really to my taste, but I find the colours beautiful together nevertheless–they remind me of something fairy tale like, or perhaps a country pond with a delicate layer of ice atop. I’m sure they’re going to make the person who gets these quite happy.

What I’m referring to as Mossy Socks are blocked–the very first socks I’ve ever blocked. I quite like how they ended up looking, an now I’m wondering why I haven’t been blocking all my socks. (Because your feet do it for you, Brooke)

These were knit with my future inability to really focus in mind. I had planned on the entire cuff being made of the broken rib* at the top, but finding myself more coherent than I thought I would be, I added the diamond panels of moss stitch to keep it interesting. I may write a pattern for these, but I’m not entirely sure.

The other grandmother is getting a hat made out of the handspun alpaca from the Tour de Fleece; I learned over the summer that she really likes alpaca, and it seemed perfect. I had intended to make a cowl, but I hate cowls and won’t knit them (even for other people apparently), so instead I looked for something else. I’ve knit the Fern Glade Beret three times now, and I’m still in love with this hat. Hopefully my grandmother will like it too! (Let’s be honest, if she doesn’t, I’m going to want to keep it, because it’s really comfy this go round)

The stash has gotten a bit bigger, which I’m sure I’ve mentioned before. I’ve been slowly making my way through the Yarn Harlot archives, and I’m really glad I did–I stumbled on these posts by Laurie on space dying for colour changing yarn. It’s all through February, so you’ll need to scroll to the bottom and sort of work your way up–the first is on the 21st, only a third down the page.

Naturally, this instilled the want to try it for myself. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with four ounces of Corriedale, but by golly it sure is fun to look at:

There’s enough for a pair of socks if I wanted it, which I’m not sure I do. It goes from yellow to green to blue to a sort of reddish purple magenta. I clearly needed a stronger/more dye, but for a first attempt in a drugged haze of “let’s give this a go!” I’m pretty happy. I may just spin it up and sell it.

I also took pictures of the rumoured yarn from the Knitting Knook, the yarn store near Milwaukee I visited. It is just as cute and tiny as the picture makes out, filled with yarn everywhere. Loved it. What I really loved was seeing Dream in Colour in person, as I just recently tried a skein and adored it. Two skeins came home with me:

Superhero, which just screams my name. I have no idea why, as I’m not a huge fan of brown, blue, or any of the colours in this yarn. Every time I look at it and hold it, however, I smile, and it really feels like my yarn. This is going to be socks for me, no doubt about it.

And Blossom, which, while it doesn’t scream his name, seems like a very good yarn for S. He’s fond of bright and warm colours, and this is certainly that. I like it too, though not to the same extent as what I got for me.

The final addition to the Brooke home of late are these:

Set of five bronze US00 double pointed needles, hand forged by Celtic Swan. These took several weeks before they were made and arrived at my door, but they are well worth that wait.

The tips are all quite pointy (not Signature sharp, but that is alright at this size!), and each needle feels and looks like a work of art–and also feels durable. I got them because I need a way to step down “one more size” and didn’t have one. There was simply no way I was going to try and rechart all the colour work socks that needed the tiny gauge that I couldn’t achieve at size US0. I was looking around, and my options were these, or some Prym. These have beautiful grooves worked into the center to help keep the stitches from slipping away; Prym’s do not. I went with these.

I don’t regret it.