Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I made it

At the beginning of the month, I made a secret resolution to blog every day for a month just to see if I could.  Well, today is January 31, and this is my 31st blog post of the year.  I'm sure they haven't all been the most exciting thing on the web, but I did a lot more showing off of my WIPs than I normally do and it motivate me to take more "in progress" photos.

My blog marathon was made easier by the fact that over winter break I had finished up a lot of projects and so had a backlog of cool things to show you.  Now that school is ramping up my knitting tim is petering out and my progress is much less impressive.  (Unless you want to see my daily fingerless-glove progress... I could show you what it looks like every 4-10 rounds.  Could be fun... right?)

Now that the month is over, I don't think I'll push myself as hard to make sure I have a post every day, but I have enjoyed having it as a regular part of my routine and hope to remain somewhat diligent.  Soon there will be good-quality picture of Arroway, I promise.  It's just that it's dark by the time I get home Monday and Tuesday.  Hopefully tomorrow I can catch some light and get some good pictures up for you.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Two good things

Good thing #1: I wore Arroway today.  To prove it, I offer up this exceedingly unflattering self portrait.


Better pics will come I promise.  At least the cat is looking cute over my shoulder.  She always sits like that... so regal.  I'll just say that it's super warm and I loved having it up around my neck all day.  It kept me nice and toasty all day.  Definitely going to be in my scarf/shawl rotation.

Good thing #2: I made split pea soup last night and now I have a whole fridge of split pea soup carefully ladled out into bowl sized portions! (If you don't like split pea soup 1: my excitement about this will not make sense to you; 2: you're crazy; 3: no need for you to read the rest of this post.)  Split pea soup is my favorite.


To say that my "recipe" is easy is to make it sound harder than it is.  If you can chop celery, you can make this.  (You do need a crock pot though.)  Here goes.

  • 1 bag split peas (the reasonable size bag, not the industrial size)
  • 1 pound carrots--I buy the ones that come already shredded because they mash really well and I don't have to do any chopping.  If you want to do more chopping buy whatever is cheapest
  • 1 bunch of celery 
  • 1 giant can chicken broth--I use the 99% fat free reduced sodium kind.  I mean giant, buy the biggest can at the store
  • 1 pound pork (I use pork instead of ham, I have never liked ham, I think it has a greasy texture that gives me the willies, if you like ham and can't imagine split pea soup made with mere pork substitute as you like) I've used pretty much any cut of pork from pork loin to thick-cut boneless chops to shoulder.  Hint: sometimes the supermarket will put a sticker on it that says "great for crock pot"--pick that.  

  1. Put split peas on bottom of crock pot.  They must go on bottom.  This is a cardinal rule.  Do not violate it.
  2. Put pork in crock pot on top of peas.  
  3. Put carrots in crock pot on top of pork (if you didn't buy shredded carrots, chop them up first.)
  4. Chop celery then put it in crock pot on top of carrots.
  5. Empty chicken broth into crock pot.  All of it.  Trust me.  You need it.
  6. Add extra water to crock pot.  I have the big circular sized crock pot.  After all the ingredients are in, I fill it to the top with water.  If you have the giant oval crock pot I have no suggestions for how to properly measure the water you add.  Guess.  You may think the giant can of chicken broth gives you enough liquid since it covers all the ingredients.  It does not.  If you don't add the extra water you will have split pea sludge, not split pea soup.
  7. Set crock pot for low and try to be patient for 16 hours.  It will start to smell good after hour 9.  This can be torturous if you are hungry.  Best to let it cook while you will be out/asleep.  
  8. If pork hasn't fallen apart on its own, use a fork to shred it.  If vegetables have not disintegrated into green soupyness mash them with a potato masher, they should disintegrate into soup at the slightest pressure.
This will make 9 seriously good sized bowls.  If you use relatively lean pork you are looking at 150 calories per bowl.  That's right 150!  Delicious and healthy.  It will be a good week.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Spinning at Ryan's

I have some roving and a drop spindle that I keep at Ryan's for times when he's busy, or I'm waiting for him to finish his Starcraft game, or other down time. Here's how much I've got:

The fiber is merino/yak from Abstract Fibers. This is spinning up very slowly since I only work on it for 5 - 10 minutes at a time. I don't have any plans for the finished yarn. Just like to have something to work on around all the time. Averts the problem of me having to guess if I need to bring anything over with me.

Edit: Oops, looks like the post from my iPad did not get the photo uploaded correctly.  I think I've fixed it, hope you guys can see it now.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


I finished the knitting on Arroway today.  The purl-side stranding drove me nuts as expected.  Even though there were only seven wrong-side rows it was enough to make finishing this very unpleasant.


My tension on the wrong side was totally wonky because I'm not used to stranding to the front.  I'm falling back on the belief that blocking will cure everything.  As you can see, the arrows are a bit scrubby looking right now.


Once it's blocked I'll give you all the details and a full review.  Right now I'm too sick of it to give it a fair review.  

Friday, January 27, 2012


Earlier this month I showed you the little boo boo I made on my Dahlia Cardigan.  Basically, I attached on of the back panels 180 degrees from how I should have.


Today was the day I decided to fix it.  To create the back strips you use a provisional cast on at the center and knit out in both directions.  To fix my boo boo, I started by unpicking one of the ends from the center so that I had two sets of live stitches.  

I rotated the sides until there was no longer a mobius in the middle of my back.  Then I kitchner-ed the live stitches back together.

All in all, it took about an hour.  Not as much lost time as if I had to frog back to my original incorrect join.  I completed the right sleeve today and have just started the left.  Currently my fronts are on holders because I don't like the original shaping of the front and I'm brainstorming how to fix it.  Suggestions? 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Want to cast on NOW

Picture via Interweave Press

This is the Rosamund Cardigan.  I want it.  I have the yarn.  I have the pattern.  I have 12 other unfinished projects...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Good night

Tonight, my 21 year old brother (who also lives in Portland) came over to my apartment and we watched Tangled.  We both laughed.  A lot.  It's not as good as The Emperor's New Groove, but it's the closest Disney has gotten in a long time.  Ten years between hits is a long time.  When I wasn't laughing too hard, I worked on Arroway but I can't bring myself to show you another picture of garter ridges.  I'll wait for the FO and show you some good ones.  Tangled is on Netflix watch instant.  Watch it.  Laugh.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

For Cathie and Patt

Pictures of Lissajous.


I finished the first one at knit chat tonight.  These (I say "these" even though the second one is not cast on yet) have been worked on exclusively at sock hour since July.  There are several reasons (besides the fact that they only get one hour a week of attention) that these are taking so long.  Reason one: big-ass chart on the cuff.


Reason two: same big ass chart on the heel, only this time worked back and forth.


Reason three: calf shaping leading to over 100 stitches at the widest part.

Just for fun, try taking a picture of the back of your calf in a pencil skirt.  I couldn't be bothered to change outfits before my photo shoot.  Luckily, I live alone so no one was here to mock my strange gymnastic poses.

Reason four: um, hello, they're KNEE socks.  Knees are many inches away from toes.  25 inches.

I came home a put the sock on in a display of knitterly pride.  (Oh come on, you've worn a single sock just off the needles, you have. Admit it.)  Ryan came over for some pasta and I started cooking with the sock still on.  Then I had a heart-stopping moment when a drip of bright red pasta sauce dripped off the serving spoon toward the floor.  It missed the sock, but I kid you not, I gasped out loud.  The sock came off and got put away somewhere safe.  Disaster averted. 

Monday, January 23, 2012


How many more pictures of garter stitch can you all withstand before you leave me and never come back?  A few more I hope since all I've been working on for the past couple days is my arroway.


Nothing but miles and miles of stripy garter stitch.  I did get to the point where the stipes go from 1x1 to bigger green stripes.  This means I am close (4 rows) to adding the arrow border.  


Originally, I was excited to get to the arrows because I thought the colorwork would provide some interest.  Then I realized that the colorwork is worked flat which means I will have to strand in front on the wrong side.  No me likey.  This has become more a project of will power than of true enjoyment, but I will prevail.  I'm even likely to finish before February, my self-imposed deadline.  Fingers crossed.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Alpaca Silk

This alpaca/silk I finished spinning the other day is finally dry, measured, and skeined up.  I ended up with about 270 yards of mostly fingering-weight yarn.


I say "mostly fingering" because there are a few spots where it's more of a sport weight, but they're actually pretty few and far between.  I was amazed at how consistently I was able to spin this fiber.


The fiber is from Abstract Fiber and it created a heavenly soft yarn.  My only complaint is that something about their dyeing/prep process seems to pack down the fibers pretty tightly so that there is a lot of pre-drafting needed to fluff up the fiber so it's spinnable.  The colorway is Mt. Hood Rose and the fiber is 70% alpaca, 30% silk.  My LYS has chosen the Rustling Leaves Beret as the February knit-a-long and I think I will see how it looks in this yarn.  I'm hoping the yarn is a solid enough color that it doesn't obscure the pattern.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

I have a lot of yarn

I organized the stash today.  This is how my organization process begins.


Everything gets piled up, then I inspect it and put it away cataloging anything that has escaped my ravelry stash database.  Five hours later, everything is put away again.  It's even tidy.

Friday, January 20, 2012

What next?

Since I finished the alpaca/silk that I had been working on on my wheel, I need to pick what my next wheel project will be.  The trouble is I'm torn.  I have so much lovely fiber that I feel like I want to spin ALL of it.  Right NOW.  So I'm asking you.  What should I spin next?

First up, I have this luscious 100% Tussah Silk top that I got at sock summit in July.  It's from Teresa Ruch Designs.  The color is so vibrant and it's so soft that when I touch it I feel like my hands must be covered in sandpaper.  The only downside is that I've never spun 100% silk before so there may be a steep learning curve.


Next option is the mind boggling roving from Abstract Fiber that I got at the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival.  It's 50% merino and 50% tencel.  The colorway os called "silver" and the reason I say that this is mind boggling is that it actually "looks" silver.  I didn't know it was possible to give fiber a metallic look... at least not until I saw this for the first time.  It's not as soft as the 100% silk, but still very soft.  The only downside is that I've worked with Abstract Fibers before and while their colors are absolutely amazing something about their prep or their dyeing makes the roving really packed tight so it takes a lot of extra prep to "re-fluff" to the point where it's easily spinnable.


Last but not least is some good hearty 100% BFL that I got on the Portland Yarn Crawl.  (If you can't tell, there are a lot of yarn/fiber related events in the Portland area.  It gets expensive.)  This is from Black Trillium Fiber Studio and the colorway is called Emerald City.  I have never spun with this particular dyers roving, but BFL is one of my go-to fibers for hours of simple mindless spinning enjoyment.  It is the least temperamental fiber I've found.  I curse way less at BFL than any other fiber.  The only downside here is that, while BFL is amazing fiber to work with from the simplicity standpoint, it lacks some of the sexiness of silk, merino, and other wonderful butter-in-your-hands luxury fibers. 


Your votes will decide.  What do you think I should start next? 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ugly lace

This little bit of ugly is all I have so far of Jared Flood's Rock Island.  The edging is knit in a long thin strip, then the body of the shawl is picked up and knit in ever decreasing rows toward the center.


I've knit lace before, so I know that it sort of looks like hell until you finish and block it, but this has a particularly scrubby look.  It's sort of making it not fun to work on because it feels like all I'm producing is a hot little mess.  


The finished versions on Ravelry are extremely impressive (the ones I don't like are almost all either because of bad yarn choice or bad blocking.)  Since I love this yarn and I know it's necessary to block the snot out of lace I think I'm on a path that will eventually pay off.  I started this in May just after school got out, but haven't really worked on it at all since school started.  I'm hoping to pick it up again, but hoping doesn't put stitches on the needles.   

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Still gartering...

...Though it's less enchanting than it started out.  I'm ready for the colorwork section now please.  Only 20 rows more till I get there... of course, every row gets bigger.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Knit Night was canceled tonight due to bad weather.  I went home and did homework like a responsible jerk.  I was really looking forward to my procrastination time.

Monday, January 16, 2012

More spinning

It's been kind of a major weekend of spinning for me.  For those of you not in law school, this is how it works.  Your whole grade is determined by your score on the final exam.  There are no mid-terms, essays, or anything else for the 13 weeks of the semester, just general reading homework and class leading up to one big test.  While this makes the last third of the semester absolute hell, it actually means that the first several weeks of the semester are kind of relaxed (at least I've never begun preparing before the half-way mark--too likely to forget before the test comes.)  I've taken the relatively relaxing beginning of the semester to get lots of fun fiber stuff done (in anticipation of the later hell that will keep me from the fiber.)


For Christmas, my mom gave me this yummy soft alpaca merino blend.  Turns out there is an alpaca farm not far from where she works and she stopped by to investigate.  She picked me up this naturally color fiber along with two lighter shades as well.  My mom also got me the drop spindle for me for my birthday.  It's the Knit Picks Turkish spindle.  The quality of the spindle is only so-so.  Clearly an example of "you get what you pay for."


I spin a drop spindle by flicking the shaft between my fingers (sort of like you would as if you were snapping.)  This particular spindle doesn't work well with my method because the arms don't fit very snuggly around the shaft.  This means that sometimes the shaft spins but the arms don't.  Now that I have more fiber wrapped around the arms, it seems to prevent this problem, but it was a real pain when I was first starting.  I only have about 2 ounces, so my plan is to try to spin this as a stable single to maximize yardage.  We'll see if it works...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Most of a mitt

My Winter Twilight Mitts have been trucking along nicely.  All that is missing from the first one is the ribbing at the top of the thumb.


My Christmas gift to myself this year was an iPad.  One of the best apps I've found so far is GoodReader.  It is a PFD reader and editor and it is great for knitting patterns.  I can "mark up" a PDF of a pattern, highlight the size I'm making, or follow along in my chart.  I can draw a line on the chart and move it as needed when I complete a row.  It's been so helpful for keeping my place as I pick up and put down this project.


Since I can't really watch TV while I work on these, I've been taking them to knit-chat or working on them while listening to an audio book.  I just finished listening to the Hunger Games and loved it.  It's very similar to Battle Royale (which I also loved) plot-wise--bunch of kids forced to fight to the death by a ruthless government.  If you don't like violence/are squeamish I'd advise against picking this one up.  Otherwise it's totally enthralling from about 20 minutes (couldn't tell you in pages) onward.  I really want to start the next one, but it's only available in hardcover (don't like buying hardcover books) and I don't get my next audible credit until the 22nd.  Resisting the urge to just buy it anyway.  I got the book per a recommendation on the Yarn Harlot's blog then 2 days later learned they are making it into a movie.  I can't wait to see how true they stay to the book.  They did a great job with Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, so I have a bit of faith in Hollywood right now.  

Saturday, January 14, 2012


I was patient and waited until this evening to ply my singles from yesterday.  However, I got a comment from someone on Google+ saying that she never waits to ply, she just fills a bobbin then uses her ball winder to make a center pull ball and plies from both ends.  Anyone else tried this?  Anyone ply without waiting overnight?  How much of a difference does it make?  My finished yarn on the bobbin:


This color is near impossible to photograph well.  At least for my mediocre photography skills.  The fiber is 70% alpaca 30% silk.  It started out looking like this:


Spinning muted the color changes quite a bit, but there are a few places where pink barberpoles around the cream.  I managed to spin pretty darn consistently, after dividing the roving into two halves and spinning the singles and then plying them this is all that was left on my "fuller" bobbin:


After plying, I used my swift to skein up the yarn so that it could be washed.  I don't bother to use the niddy noddy at this stage because the length will change with washing and hanging anyway.  


Then I drop the whole thing in the sink with some wool wash.  I just picked up this tester-sized bottle of Eucalan and I love it.  It's grapefruit scented, but not overpoweringly so, just enough to be pleasant.  For $4 it was a great way to see if I liked the scent.  I used less than 1/10 of the bottle, so it's a pretty good value.  (Especially compared to the $10 per bottle of SOAK testers.)


The fiber is Abstract Fiber Alpaca Silk  in colorway Mt. Hood Rose.  It appears to be available on the website, but they don't have a picture.  I got mine at For Yarns Sake.  I let you know the final yardage and weight once it's fully dry.

Friday, January 13, 2012


I have these singles.


I want to ply them NOW but I will be good and let them sit overnight.  Is it tomorrow yet?


Thursday, January 12, 2012


My newest installment of the Westknits Shawl Club arrived yesterday.  Of course I cast on immediately.  The new pattern is Arroway.


It's garter stitch stripes (lovely and squishy) for most of the body with colorwork arrows around the bottom edge.  The green is Stephen West's exclusive colorway.  The white/black is apparently exclusive to the yarn company hosting the shawl club, but not exclusive to the club members.  The green is called Moss Gatherer, the black/white is Newsprint.  Both are Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock 80% wool, 20% nylon.  


I was seriously just thinking that I needed to add a little garter stitch to my WIPs for knitting at home after long school days.  This will be perfect.  Best gift ever!  

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

New Pattern

The Sylvan Cowl pattern that I showed you guys earlier this month is not available on Ravelry for $2.00.


It's an infinity cowl that can be wrapped twice around the head as show above or worn as one long loop, more like a scarf.  I originally created the pattern because I didn't know what to do with some sport weight handspun I've had for months.  The yarn was extremely soft so I knew I wanted it around my neck, but the heathered tweedy color made it look very rustic.  I couldn't find a pattern that was both interesting to knit and worked with the yarn.  I tried lace but the delicate look of the lace didn't seem right with the hearty look of the yarn.  This was my solution.  It's interesting enough to knit since you're changing what you're doing every few rounds, but the pattern doesn't overpower the yarn.

Sylvan Cowl 1
This is Knitgeneering's test knit version of the pattern.  I think she made it so beautiful.  Her yarn is exactly the type this pattern was made for.

Every few rounds there is something different going on--garter stitch, stockinette stitch, eyelet panels.  Even though it's knit in sport weight it goes very quickly.  Mine only took about two afternoons.  You can get it through Ravelry as linked at the beginning of the post, or you can buy it here but clicking on the design tab up top and click on the "buy now" button.  Hope you like it!


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Much better

Today I knit.  I knit on a sock on my lunch break.  I went to sock hour and For Yarn's Sake and worked on a different sock.  Then I stayed for the open-knit knit chat and worked on my stranded fingerless gloves.  I feel much better than yesterday.  Also, I almost have one glove.  I'll show you tomorrow.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The day of no knitting

Classes started back up today.  I've had three weeks off from school.  I had to work the first week, so that wasn't "really" vacation, but the past two weeks have been blissfully free of all obligations.  Or, at least, I unashamedly ignored all the obligations I could have/might have had.  I did a lot of fun things.  Spent some wonderful time with my family and with Ryan.  And, I knit.  I knit a lot.  I knit for at least an hour EVERY DAY.  It was wonderful.  I throughly reconnected with everything I love about knitting.

Today, there was no knitting.  The alam went off and I was up and off to class, then another class, then another class, then another class.  I had to spend my breaks between classes finding out where to go, trying to remember material already half-forgotten, and eating those pesky meals my body seems to demand every so often.

After classes, I went to the gym.  It's extremely temping to skip this step in favor of sitting on the couch in a knitting stupor watching Star Trek Voyager reruns, but the life of a student is pretty sedentary and precautions must be taken against melding into the furniture I spend so much time sitting on to read/study.

Now that I'm finally home I'm tired, both mentally from school and physically from the gym and I have to wake up early to be at work tomorrow.  This means to get my full 8 hours (I really like 8 hours, 7 is passable, 6? well, I refer you to the tile of this blog) I have to be asleep 50 minutes from now.

I'm going to knit a round on the fingerless gloves I showed you yesterday in protest of my awful schedule, just so I can say I did some knitting today, but it's just not the same now that there are obligations and responsible bed times looming over me.  Friday can't come soon enough.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Jumping around

I feel a mad case of startitis brewing.  The burning desire to cast on every wonderful pattern in sight until I completely run out of knitting needles.  (Hint: I have a ton of knitting needles.)  I think I start to feel this way when all of my projects feel like they are "long term" projects (meaning more than one week to complete.)  When I start to feel like there is no end in sight, my logical (totally and completely logical, don't laugh) reaction is to cast on another project that will be so fun and enjoyable that I will speed to the end and feel the sweet sweet gratification of having a finished object.

So far, I've been resisting the urge and haven't cast on anything new since the new year.  To satisfy my lack of ability to focus on any one project, I've been jumping around putting a little bit of attention into one or two of my WIPs each day.  On the one hand, this satisfies my desire to constantly be working on something different, on the other hand, it also ensures that I continue to feel like "nothing will ever get done" that tends to bring on startitis in the first place.  

Today, the project du jure was a fingreless mitt I've been working on, which will (hopefully) be part of a pair someday.  

So far these have done a pretty good job of keeping me interested--they have that colorwork "just one more row" magic--but I suspect that as soon as it comes time to make the second one, working the pattern a second time will seem less charming.  I will resist casting one 15 new things.  I will!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Well Crap!

I've been working on my Dahlia Cardigan at knit chat for quite a while.   Here's what I've got so far:


See the giant huge completely obvious problem?  This cardigan is constructed by first knitting the lace back in the round.  Then, because the lace doesn't cover your whole back, you knit two strips to go on top and bottom of the lace to fill out the length of the back.  These strips are seamed to the top and bottom of the lace (as you can see, I haven't sewn the seams yet.)  Then you put live stitches from the side on one long needle and knit the sides of the sweater out horizontally.  The sleeves are put in as afterthoughts, just like you would an afterthought heel.  Here's the top back of the sweater:


No problem there, just need to sew the seem.  Here's the bottom back of the sweater.


Yeah.  Oops.  Turns out, when I attached the strip that borders the bottom of the lace, I twisted it 180 degrees.  I made it a mobius.  Since my back is not a mobius, this is definitely a problem.  I can't think of any solution other than ripping the side back to wear I attached the strip.  Hundreds of stitches and the set up for the afterthought sleeve all in vain.  

Because I don't want to deal with this obvious problem, I'm knitting the sleeve on the "good" side of the sweater.  Clearly I will have to do something about this eventually, but for now I'm just kicking myself and moving along like nothing is wrong.