Thursday, June 19, 2008

Summer Mittens

As I sat in my hot un-air conditioned room last week, I thought to myself, "You know what you're missing?  A nice, toasty warm pair of mittens."  Now, although this thought it completely accurate as I do not own myself a pair of mittens, to be having said thought while simultaneously trying to derobe myself to a state just before indecent seemed a bit peculiar to me.

In any case, when the knitting bug bites, all we can do is to scratch and hope for the best, right?  I dug through my stash, found some yarn that would work (and then dug through ravelry and found a pattern) and got to work.  I have been wanting to try stranded knitting for a while, so I figured now is as good a time as any!  So far I have completed one mitten.

The pattern is from the Winter 2006 Knitty and is called Corazon.  As my hands are massive, I am knitting the largest size.  I also didn't bother to figure out my gauge, I just sort of trusted the yarn.  I'm using some Knit Picks Swish DK in Coal and Dusk.  I wasn't sure how the black and blue would work out with the patterning, but I kind of like it.  I did most of the knitting on this mitten while at home for the weekend.  It was a very quick knit (once I figured out how to knit with two colors at once).

I may go back and rip out the finger area and re-knit it with a less pointy decrease.  I think I would prefer a rounder end than the one in the pattern.

Oh, and guess what!  My Swan Lake Stole is finally blocked and drying as we speak, which means that there is inevitably a photo shoot coming your way.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Better Lace Than Never!

Yes, I know I need to quit with the awful titles, but sometimes I just can't help myself.  For those of you who are still unable to guess the theme of this post, it's lace(!).  Surprise!

Here is the very belated Hemlock Ring Blanket, designed by Jared Flood (BrooklynTweed).  The pattern is adapted from an old doily pattern.  Jared was somehow able to see a beautiful, very popular blanket pattern when he saw that old doily, and yet another successful pattern by the New Yorker was born.

I knit mine using Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Winter Night using size 10 needles (Knit Picks Harmony).  I had bought ten balls of yarn to make this, but ended up using only 8, with two yards to spare.  Yes, I could have continued, but I don't think I could have handled any more feather and fan business.  The bind off alone almost threw me over the edge.

I knit to the end of Jared's charted pattern (I think it's row 91 or something) and then did the bind off.  I didn't measure how big it is, but I would guess that it is about 5 feet from point to point.

This is fun having enough pictures to space out all my info...  The yarn, WotA, actually surprised me at the beginning.  It felt much softer than I thought it was going to and I liked the way it looked knit up on size 10 needles.  However, after knitting an entire project using this yarn, I think my views have changed.  It is scratchy (which is to be expected), but I at least thought it would soften up after a good soak in Eucalan - not so.  Of course, at $2.00 a pop I got what I paid for.  I'm just not sure if I would use it again.

I ran into a few problems with my needles as well.  At one point in my knitting, the wood needle tip came out of the metal base and I had to order new ones.  Also, the plastic cable came out of the metal screw - you guessed it, I have to order new ones.  Of course, when I say order, I mean I called up customer services and they were very nice and sent me new ones free of charge.  Let me tell you, when you have no motivation to finish a project to begin with, and then your needles keep breaking, I am surprised that this blanket made it to the finish line, but here it is.  It will now probably go into storage until a small wool lap blanket is actually necessary.  Goodbye Mr. Hemlock, it was relatively fun.

Down below you will see an unblocked picture of my Swan Lake Stole by Melanie Gibbons.  I will give you full details when it is all blocked and beautiful, I just wanted to post a picture to prove that I have actually completed the project after a year of knitting on it.  Hopefully my blocking wires will come tomorrow and I can beautify it and take wonderful pictures.

The same day that I cast off on the Swan Lake Stole, I began knitting on this new piece of beauty.

This is going to be the Mystic Waters shawl by Anna Dalvi.  So far I would say that it is going much faster than the Swan Lake Stole went, most likely due to the fact that I now know what I'm doing (as in, I know what a yarn over is and I don't have to look up how to do a double decrease every time I come across one) and this yarn is just pure wonderful.

I bought two skeins of Malabrigo lace in Blue Surf.  When I felt it in my LYS I couldn't resist and had to own it.  This yarn has that strange soft in the way that when you touch it, it almost feels like you're touching nothing.  The kind where you have to touch it very forcefully to make sure that it's actually there because you think you may have missed it the first time kind of soft.

On the other hand, this yarn is very sticky to knit with.  It's a good thing I never make mistakes (that's a lie), because I would hate to unknit this stuff.  I went against my better judgement to alternate the two skeins every two rows so that the colors blend better.  I have seen many a project knit in malabrigo in which there is a definite change in the color when a new skein is added, but alas, I am not alternating skeins.  I tried, but the yarn is sticky and I didn't like the way the edge was turning out with the switching, and so when my join is as obvious as all the others, I will sit back and say, "I told you so."  Until then, I will continue knitting happily along on this wonderfully soft shawl.

Meme What?

Hmmm, no pictures in this post.  Just a few answers to some rather boring questions.  Feel free to ignore this post.

The rules of the game: each player answers the questions about themselves.  At the end of the post, the player then tags 5-6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they've been tagged and asking them to read your blog.  Let the person who tagged you know when you've posted your answer.

1. What was I doing 10 years ago?
Well, now.  Ten years ago was actually half of my life ago.  Interesting, huh?  I was in fourth grade, attending the best Catholic grade school that Minnesota had to offer (note the sarcasm in my tone).  Not much was happening in my life at that point, but I do believe that it was the year the a brick fell on my head (from out of nowhere!) and I had to go the hospital and get my forehead all stitches up.  Okay, okay, I threw the brick up in the air in the first place, but it really wasn't my fault!

2. What are 5 things on my to-do list for today (not in any particular order)?
Thing 1) Fold my clean laundry
Thing 2) Take pictures of my FOs (and WIPs I suppose)
Thing 3) Learn how to play the oboe for a wedding this weekend
Thing 4) Pack up my room
Thing 5) Celebrate that I am done with all academic responsibilities until next year!

3. Snacks I enjoy:
Ya know, I'm not quite sure I can think of my favorite snack.  I think I'm more of an "eat-what's-in-front-of-you" kind of guy, but I can tell you what I don't enjoy - bananas with peanut butter - that's what.  Blech.  Now apples with peanut butter is a different story...

4. Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
I'm assuming this billionaire question means that I have an unlimited amount of money (or at least, such an amount that no matter what I do with it I would not be able to decrease it in any significant way).  I would buy myself a house - possibly on a hillside - with a huge plot of land for my dogs and children to enjoy.  A huge mansion sounds wonderful in theory, but I think I would be much happier living closer to nature.  It's not that I don't love neighbors, there's just something very peaceful about living in the open air that I think I would enjoy.  Hmmm, I would also pay off my student loans (and those of my million siblings) and mayhaps I would donate a bunch of my money to things that are important to me.  I'm not sure if I would retire, because really, what would I be doing at home all day?

5. Places I have lived:
Duluth, MN; St. Paul, MN; Appleton, WI

6. Jobs I've had:
In order from least recent to current:
1. I worked at a pizza shop.  I was fourteen and I sat in the basement folding stacks and stacks of pizza boxes.  I would also often wash dishes and do laundry.  Fun times.
2. I was a Small Pet Specialist at PetSmart.  I quit after three weeks.
3. For two years I worked at a mini-donut stand in Camp Snoopy, the amusement park inside the Mall of America.
4. American Eagle.  I got the discount, I bought their clothes.  I now am forced to wear their clothes because I have little else in my wardrobe, though I in no way consider myself to be the American Eagle type of person.
5. Worked in the dishroom at my university.  Again, fun times.
6. Summer job working in materials management at my university.  (I did a lot of lifting and moving furniture.)
7. Desk clerk at my residence hall/RA in said hall as well.
8. Music ensemble librarian at the conservatory.
I believe I have now covered every job I have ever had.  And now you know.

7. People I want to know more about:
As this is a knitting blog, I suppose an appropriate response to this question would be Elizabeth Zimmermann.  She seems pretty popular.  As a musician I would love to know more about the many composers I love: Rimsky-Korsakov, Stravinsky, Beethoven, Shostakovich... of course, that is what my music history classes are for.

Meme complete.  I am not going to tag (pronounced "tayg") anybody on this thing because I, well, because I don't want to.  I would like to say though that I feel extremely cool at this moment knowing that it was my own sister who tagged me to fill this out.  Yep, that's right.

I'll be back later with some project info.  Ciao!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Final Stretch

Phew!  The school year is finally winding down and I have somehow found myself relatively unscathed.

I have one final exam to go, but so far everything has gone down surprisingly well.  My qualifying exam was especially surprising as I was still scrambling to learn my music the day before, let alone memorize it.  My eight hours of practice paid off and I performed better than I think I would have ever imagined.  Now, that's not to say that I didn't make mistakes, but if you had asked the previous day how I thought things would go, I probably would have just made a sarcastic comment and walked away.

Now for some knitting.  As I said in my last post, I have somehow been infected with the clap.  I have heard of some cases progressing at an alarming rate, but I seem to have contracted a very slow growing form.  In fact, at times it appears to be dormant, waiting to start up again with the slightest bit of agitation.  For the time being I am safe and well, but only time can tell...

Here is the damage so far...

I'm using South West Trading Company Bamboo yarn in colorway, um... the only one that's blue and stripey.  This yarn was another generous gift from my knitty sister clumsyknitter.  I have two balls of this yarn, so when it's done, it's done.  I think it will end up making a very nice little-sister-sized shawl.  This picture is nearing the end of my first ball, so just imagine the finished thing being twice as long and we're good to go.

Also, here are some long awaited pictures of my adorable nephew Xander in his wool sweater.  I had packed it up to ship off to him over a month ago, but didn't get around to it until last week.  Here I was worried that it was going to be much too small for him by the time I sent it, but it turns out that it is very spacious.  Maybe by the time he actually needs it (as in, this fall) it may be the perfect size.  I have heard that this yarn (KP Swish DK) shrinks a bit when it is washed, so that may help.  We'll see.


Oh wait!  I just remembered why I titled this post as I did.  I have successfully finished and blocked my Hemlock Ring Blanket.  It has been much too weathery here lately to take any decent pictures, so you will have to wait, but I am so happy to have that thing off my needles.  I think I lost all interest in it months ago.  It looks good though.

Also, remember that shawl I posted about a while back?  Well, I only have 15 rows left until it's complete!  I could totally (and probably will) finish with it today.  I'm very excited because I have been itching to cast on for a new lace shawl using Malabrigo lace, but I told myself I couldn't until I finished this one.  I have been working on it (or not) for almost exactly a year now and my mom is getting very antsy.  Hopefully my blocking wires will be arriving early this week and I can get some pictures up very shortly.

Ok, bye!