Friday, June 29, 2012


Tragedy struck yesterday. My trusty laptop was overheating to the point of shutting itself off. I assumed that the fan was either clogged or malfunctioning or that the innards had finally gotten so full of cat hair that it decided to give up. I took it to the apple store expecting them to tell me the would either clean it out or install a new fan. Imagine my surprise when I was told that my hard drive was in the process of dying a slow but inevitable death.

Now I am a marginally savvy cookie and I backed up everything to my external hard drive before taking it in. Because of this, I didn't feel too bad when they told me I'd need a new drive. I bought the extended warranty, so even though Lappy is almost 3 years old he would get the new drive for free. Bonus: they no longer make 250GB drives so I'd be getting 500 at no extra charge. This was all sounding pretty good until Appleman tells me that, because of the long and agonizing death Lappy has been suffering, he may not have been backing my data up properly at all. Perfect.

I was supposed to get him back today to and I would be able to see if my external dive actually contains any data (I store as much as I can in the cloud, but all my bar outlines are on that drive... Or I should say, are maybe on that drive.) Appleman called me back today to say that the drive replacement went well, but when they ran Lappy through the stress test, his board failed and must also be replaced and then he must go through the stress test again.

Now for some good news: we took a practice bar exam today and my score was passing! Theoretically this means I can pass the real exam on the 24/25. WOOT.

Also, Spectra is done and blocked.

I'm not sure if I mentioned this before but Spectra sort of started out as a bet between Ryan and I. We were in Twisted and they had a store sample using the same color of Zauberball for the wedges (I lost my tag so I can't tell you what that color is) and Ryan thought it looked pretty cool, but difficult to make. I told him it was cool (it's Stephen West after all) but really not that difficult. "Really?" he said, "you could makes this?" His tone was a little too incredulous for my taste and I immediately boasted that I could easily make it. At this point Ryan bought me the yarn and challenged me to make a Spectra. Challenge accepted.




If there is a winner here, it's clearly me. I got free yarn. Proved my awesome knitting prowess. AND now I have a Spectra.

The non-zauber yarn is Cascade heritage silk. It's lovely to work with. I did run out of it a bit early, and so my Spectra only has 84 rather than 86 wedges. (This has no affect on my victory!)

This is the first time since December I haven't had something by Stephen West on the needles.

This brings my WIP total down to 9.

Go check out Tami's.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Cabled Scarf: a history

Have you ever looked down at your knitting project and thought: why am I knitting this?  I don't remember ever wanting to knit this.  I don't know how this ever made it on the needles.  I was thinking that this evening as I was working on my creatively named #08 Cabled Scarf.  I started wondering how I ever came to be knitting it in the first place.  As far as I remember, this is what happened.


A long long time ago (December 2008) I got my hands on the Holiday issue of Vogue Knitting and must have added the pattern to my Ravelry queue.  I must not have loved it too much, because it stayed in my queue mostly forgotten until late 2010.  At that point, Knit Picks decided to close out the Robot color of it's Gloss DK yarn.  I decided that I had to have some of it before it disappeared, but felt like I needed a "reason" to buy it.

Turning to my Ravelry Queue, I discovered this scarf pattern which would "allow" me to buy six balls. Into the cart went the yarn.  When it arrived, I oohed and ahhed and squished and squooshed and then put the balls in the stash where they marinated for almost another year.

Then, this last December, I decided that the one type of project I wasn't currently working on was a cabled project (never mind the 12 others I had going at the time.)  Deciding I had to have a cable pattern on top of all my others, I turned to my queue for inspiration.  Imagine my surprised delight when I realized that I had both the pattern and the yarn to make this scarf.

It curls like mad right now, hopefully blocking will straighten that out a bit.

I cast on immediately after the discovery and happily knit half the scarf very quickly feeling extremely satisfied working the 32-row cable chart.  After about 30 inches, the charm wore off.  In my excitement over the cables, I must have forgotten that I actually hate knitting scarves.  Scarves are basically never ending swatches.  They get boring.  This project went in a bin, and was pretty much ignored from January until now.


Now that I'm trying to whittle down the number of WIPs I've got going, it's come out of the bin and progress is being made once again.  Next time I get the urge to use a particular technique, remind me to do it on a project with some shaping, will ya?

Check out the other projects over at Tami's

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

More quilts

So I finished the Tinkerbell quilt from the kit that was sent to me by Quilts for Kids.  It took about 3.5 hours to do all the quilting and finishing so that means that from start to finish this project took less than 8 hours.  Not too bad for something this adorable:


Oh yeah.  I may have also made a second Mickey Mouse quilt to send along with the first.  The Mickey    quilt was from my own materials, not a kit.  It took three fat quarters of the light blue (background to the Mickeys) two of the dark blue for the border, and one each of the orange and white.  I bought two yards of the green which was used for the inner border, the backing, and the binding but I probably could have gotten away with only buying 1.75 yards.  

After getting all the pieces cut out, I used the embroidery function of my sewing machine to embroider the Mickeys.


My machine is a Brother and that company has a license with Disney, so the machine is preprogramed with many adorable Disney characters.  Believe it or not, the faces took much longer than the full body Mickeys because I had to change the thread color so many times for the shading.  Here is a close up of each of the three embroidery patterns I used.


Since the Tinkerbell one is decidedly girly, I wanted to put together a quilt with a more "boy" feel.  I love how it turned out!


Because I had to cut all the pieces with my rotary cutter myself and do the embroidery it took many more hours to make the Mickey quilt, but it was so fun.  I rarely have an opportunity to use the embroidery function of my machine.  It's not as cool to have Winnie the Pooh on your back pack when you're 25 as it is when you're 9.  Mostly if I use it, it's to put my initials on stuff I don't want stolen.  It was fun to bust out the Disney patterns.  

All of the fabric for the second quilt was purchased for the project, and it plus two crib-sized poly battings only cost me about $30.  Both quilts were shipped USPS priority mail for about $14.  Overall I think it was great fun to make the quilts.  I like to think that they will make some families happy. 


As a side note, the cats seriously hate the sewing machine.  They believe that the desk is theirs to lay on in the sun (its right under the window.)  Having a big machine that makes noise take up prime sunlight space seems to be nothing short of torture.  Every time I set it up, they glared at me and slunk off to the foor in front of the sliding glass door with a look that said "look at what you've reduced us to."  They were very happy to see "their" space returned to its natural prime-lounging state on Sunday.

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Here Yarnie-yarnie-yarn. Here Yarnie.

I swear it was in my hands not two minutes ago.  I set it down to do... something (I think...) and by the time I turn around, it's gone.  Where is my yarn?!  I only have 700 sq ft here.  It's not like there's that many places it could be.  It's even relatively clean here at the moment.

I took this superwash merino fiber that I got at Sock Summit 2011


I spun it up into a single that was a bit thinner than a fingering weight.  When I spin finer yarn I have trouble spinning singles without getting corkscrews.  Any suggestions?


Then I plied the single against itself using the Navajo plying method.  I have never tried Navajo plying before and I'll admit to some serious swearing for the first half hour or so.  It felt like I was never going to get the coordination right to keep an even twist, make the long Navajo chains, and keep the single from plying back on itself when it lost slack coming off the lazy Kate.  


In this close-up you can see that the later strands look just like real yarn, but the strands from the beginning of my efforts are less than wonderful.


Those last two photos are of the yarn after it has been washed and snapped.  This afternoon it was dry and I skeined it up on the niddy-noddy and was going to take a final picture of it when... poof it seems to have disappeared.  I suspect wool gnomes.  

Pretend that this is a picture of beautiful cream-brown marled merino wool, about 150 yards of DK weight.  Pretend its looks soft and sqooshy and perfect for a Dustland Hat.  

Saturday, June 16, 2012


I know I've mentioned several times that I'm in the process of studying for the bar exam. It's a pretty soul sucking process. The review class I'm in seems to think I need to spend 10 hours a day studying. The only upside is that many of those hours are lectures and review videos, which, to me, translates into knitting time. There's plenty of research that suggests that engaging your hands while taking in information (like by doodling, playing with a bean bag, etc.) actually helps you retain and recall the information better. I'm convinced knitting is the same... Which is great because even if it were bad for retention, I'd still probably knit through the boring videos.

Recently, my project of choice has been Spectra by Stephen West. It's fantastically addicting, and after you've made about 2 wedges you've got the pattern memorized (which is good because there are 85 wedges total.)

The yarn for the wedges is Zauberball (lost the tag so I don't know the colorway) and the border is done with Cascade Heritage Silk. Both were purchased this March during the Portland yarn crawl. Ryan was kind enough to surprise me with the Zauberball in Twisted when I gushed over a store sample of Spectra in the same colorway. He's awesome like that.

I love the colors this yarn transitions through, red to purple to red to orange to red to purple. Basically all my favorite colors. I'm 57 wedges in so I'm hoping to be done in the next week or so. Project free-the-needles continues apace.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The warm and fuzzies

I've been working on a project this week that's been giving me the warm and fuzzies.  It's a charity quilt for Quilts for Kids.  The give quilts to kids stuck in hospitals for all manner of sad reasons.  You can sign up on their website here and they will send you all the fabric you need to make your own charity quilt FOR FREE. I got my package Saturday


Why yes, that is Tinkerbell fabric you see.  So adorable.


The kit comes with all the instructions you need to put the quilt together but I think having some sewing experience would be good because some of the descriptions are a little sparse.  If you have a rotary cutter and mat, the project will fly by.


The only blocks that require any assembly are the four-square blocks.  The trick is to sew the two colors together in one long strip, then use the rotary cutter to cut the long strips into little rectangles.  Once you've got your rectangles you can just flip one upside-down and sew one seam.  The other blocks are solid, so no assembly at all there.


Here is what my blocks looked like all laid out before I sewed the blocks together.  I wanted to make sure I didn't accidentally sew a block in upside-down.  I sewed the block together by sewing all the sides of the block together to make strips then sewing the strips together one on top of the other.  After the blocks are together it's a simple matter of adding the border.


Seriously, from opening the package to finished quilt top took less than 4 hours.  The only step that remains is to lay it out with batting and the backing fabric and do the actual quilting.  I'm guessing it will be done by Sunday.  Compared to knitting sewing feels like instant gratification.  Do you sew too?  

If you came here for a knitting project and are now disappointed, check out what all the other awesome bloggers are doing over at Tami's Amis blog.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

You are my sunshine

My day was totally brightened yesterday when I opened my email to a note from Ashley that she listed my blog on her Sunshine Award list.  Even though google stats tell me that my blog is getting visitors it's still generally hard to believe and I'm sometimes convinced that it must just be spambots.  Thanks for reading guys!!!  

There are some rules for accepting this award.  They seem to be:

1. Thank the person who nominated you.  Easy.  THANK YOU ASHLEY!  Go check out her blog and give her some love, I've enjoyed following her since I found her blog.

2. Answer 10 questions about your favorites
     Animal: sheep (they MAKE wool, what's not to love!)
     Number: 8
     Nonalcoholic beverage: Shirley Temple--they go best with Mexican food
     Facebook or Twitter: Facebook
     My passion: knitting (possibly this is obvious)
     Getting or giving: Getting, presents rock
     Pattern: Usually whatever I just finished, therefore Pear Drop
     Day of the week: Sunday
     Flower: Roses (again, possibly this would be easy to guess)
     Country: I haven't been there since I was 14, but I would love to go back to Spain as an adult (if I can be called an adult... I'm still skeptical about that.)

3. Name 10 blogs you love and tell them they have received the sunshine award as well.  I follow about 100 blogs (I'm nosey, I like to see what you're doing) so it's hard to narrow it down, but here are a few of my favorites:

     Peter's Knitting With a Y
Brianna's Whoa Nelly
Ashley's Make It Love It
I don't know who runs The Gauge Wars, but it's great.
Tawnee's Random Knits
Stacey's Fresh Stitches
Ryan's (yes my Ryan's) An Improbable Fiction

It was fun to open my mail to Ashley's surprise and I had fun revisiting everyone's blogs to gather my list.  Really guys, thanks for reading!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Cool Stuff

Cool thing number 1: I made a few small blog improvements since last post.  See those pink circles under the "Follow Me" heading over there on the right?  Click on any of them to find me on the various sites they represent.  See those "share" buttons down at the bottom of the post? Click on any of them to save/share anything from the blog.  To add those two things took me about 3 hours... html coder-extraordinaire I am not.  Each < and / had to be checked and rechecked.  I'm pretty proud of my meager victory.

Cool thing number 2: I finished Pear Drop. I love it.


The pattern is from Ysolda Teague's book Saturday Treat which has some pretty freaking adorable accessories in it.  To knit this pattern, you sart with the edging and knit it side to side, then you pick up along the top of the edging and knit the body of the shawl up decreasing to make the crescent shape. 


I used Fyberspates Scrumptious Lace yarn in colorway Midnight.  The yarn is 50% silk 50% merino--in other words, absolute heaven.  The silk gives it beautiful sheen and drape and the merino ensure that it's still warm and soft.  I "split" the skein with a friend that I knit with--gave her half the price of the skein for half of the yardage--because the shawl only needs about 275 yards for the small size and a full skein is over 1000 yards.  I weighed my leftovers when I got done and I have 25.6 grams left, so theoretically I could just eek out a second one if I wanted.


Cool thing number 3: Finishing the Pear Drop means that I now ONLY have 10 projects currently on the needles.  I know that that sounds like tons to some people but I haven't had so few in a long time.  My (probably unreachable) goal is to get it down to five and keep it there.  

Cool thing number 4: Everyone else's finished projects linked up over at Tami's Amis.

Friday, June 1, 2012

New Socks

May was a month of finishing projects.  I finished my last Westknits Shawl Club shaw Cumulonimbus.  I finished my brother's birthday present gloves.  I finished my ugly Dahlia.  And just at the end of the month I managed to get my Pomotomous socks off the needles.


As you can see this pattern has over 4,000 projects on Ravelery.  The swirly shell pattern is beautiful and the twisted stitches really make the pattern pop.  I've been tinkering on these on and off for a very long time.  They rode the bus with me to the legal clinic all year long, but it's hard to make significant progress knitting 4-5 rounds at a time.  


The yarn is one of the first cones I ever bout from Yarnia, it's one of their custom house blends called Arch Cape.  If they don't have it in their store right now, I bet they can make you up something very similar.  They're super accommodating like that--super nice.  

This pattern creates a very long sock leg.  I think if I make it again I will only repeat the pattern twice on the leg rather than three times.  Cookie A's pattern is written very clearly and is easy to follow, but the pattern is only charted so you have to be able to read charts.


Unfortunately, June is not the best time to be finishing wool socks.  I'll have to pack them away until it starts to get cold again.  If you want to check out other projects that people have been casting off this week, you can check out Tami's Amis blog where's she's collects FO links.