Wednesday, June 29, 2011


I apologize for yelling, but when the subject of this post is what it is, there's hardly a more appropriate reaction.

I posted pictures of my finished Boneyard shawl over on Ravelry, but never got around to doing it over here, so here are some photos for you.  Unfortunately after blocking it (weeks and weeks ago) it has just sat around folded up in my humid apartment, so it's pretty wrinkly, but it'll have to do.

I used about 4oz. of a 2-ply merino that I spun on a drop spindle, getting something resembling a sport-weight yarn.  The fiber was a gift from my sister (who I'm sure will post again soon, but she was out of town and is now moving to a new home, so she's kinda busy) which she got from J.Knits, a company which may or may not be defunct at this point.  (Good riddance.)

That wall is part of a bridge in the middle of the park where I go to pretend I'm not in a city and I once overheard a tour guide (by the way, who gives tours of parks?) explaining to a crowd of tourists that it was constructed entirely out of coral from the ocean.  They "oohed" and "aahed" as I walked away in disgust.  Is that supposed to be impressive?  They removed tons and tons of coral from the ocean to build a freaking bridge in the middle of Pittsburgh and we're supposed to love it?  I was kind of irate.  I just get a little, well, emotional when it comes to nature.  Anyway, it made a nice backdrop nonetheless (but when I moved in to get a closer shot my camera battery died, so again, this is what you get.)

The only modification I made to the pattern was to increase at both edges on every row instead of every other row.  Seeing as how this tip came from WillyG himself (a Stephen West expert), I would have been a fool to ignore his suggestion.  It creates a wider, narrower scarf that's easier to wrap around your neck (or a tree.)

I loved knitting this shawl and watching how the colors in the handspun played out.  I finished the bind off and threw it around my neck and loved it.  However, it grew quite a bit in the blocking and all of a sudden I wasn't sure it was right for me, so I think it's going to go in a gift pile (along with those mittens) to make some as of yet unknown person happy at an as of yet unknown future date.  I'm sure I'll find a wonderful home for it.

And now that I've babbled on, let's get to the real reason of this post.  Yayo of the comments, who goes by TheyToldMeSew on Ravelry and etsy sent me some of her handspun!  (She has some gorgeous stuff on her site.  You should check it out.  I bought some really beautiful handspun from her many moons ago.)

Aren't those colors perfect for me?!  Ooh, and it's so shiny you'd almost think there was silk in it, but that's just one of the many charms of BFL.  It's so beautiful!  I even love the name - Swamp Grass.  I love nature! (but only secretly.)  I can't wait to knit with it, but I'm going to have to wait until I have the perfect project for it.  Any suggestions?  (I'm maybe even thinking colorwork, but that may just be a jag I feel coming on...)

Thanks so much Yayo of the comments!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Saved By The Bell

Phew, that was a close one.  You guys were almost graced with yet another boring post about unfinished mittens (things are better now.  Remind me to tell you about how fickle those stupid mittens are later) when a package arrived at my door.  It was from my sister, so it was bound to be good.

A crap ton of yarn.  Most of it is O-Wool Legacy DK, except the four blue skeins on top which are O-Wool Classic.

Uh, guys, that's a ton of wool.  I'm so excited.  (And no.  I don't have any plans for it just yet.  Why would you think that?)

That's all I was expecting to be in the box, but apparently my sister couldn't resist to throw in some extras.  Like this:

She had been raving about this yarn and talking about how great it is to work with (Dream in Color Smooshy - With cashmere!) (I'd link to it, but their website is under construction right now.) and now that I can hold it in my hands, I know exactly what she was talking about.  I may have rubbed it all over my face when I picked it up.

Then there was this lotion bar and I have to tell you, it actually almost gave me a heart attack at first.

You probably didn't even notice, but a while back a made reference to the fact that I may have lint-rolled an entire colony of ants off of my carpet.  What I didn't mention was that they did the freakiest thing.  Did you know that ants make noise?  Yeah, neither did I, but I do now!  I discovered it when I was holding this lint roller (oh my god, I still feel so guilty about this I can barely talk about it) full of ants up near my head and all of a sudden this freaky, terrifying sound started getting louder and louder...  It was like, well, it was like a nightmare.  It was sort of like a scratching sound, but much more nightmarish and knowing that it was coming from an entire colony of ants put me over the edge.  It must have been their war cry.  By the time I was done (oh my god, I'm such a horrible person!) I could hear the sound from across the room.   I even recorded it on my iPhone because I knew people wouldn't believe me (you should see their faces when they hear it.  Fear.  That's what's on their face.)

Anyway, so I also didn't tell you that after that day, I think the ants have been coming back to haunt me.  Really.  Whenever I'm around the massacre site a single ant will appear.  And it doesn't just appear on the carpet next to me - it magically comes into being on my arm, or on my neck, or on my leg and I know that maybe it could have just crawled there without my noticing, but I don't think so.  I think these are ant ghosts coming back to haunt me.  Sometimes when I brush them off they disappear.  Completely.  I even gently do it so I can watch where they land, but they never do (land, that is).  They just disappear.  Gone.  Poof.  Ant ghosts.

So because of my irrational belief that I'm being haunted by a colony of ants seeking revenge, I'm a bit paranoid and when I first saw that tin of lotion, I thought it had a picture of an orange covered in ants and I almost cried.  But don't worry, they're just cloves.  (I have another theory about the ants, but when I ran it past my brother earlier today he seemed to think I was a lunatic.  So I'm just going to stick with the ghost and theory.)

Moving on.  Also in the box was this:

Silk caps!  Ooh, I'm so excited to play around with these.  I can't decide what to do, though.  I could give it a try spinning them and I'm sure that would be super fun, or I could do what the Yarn Harlot did and turn them into yarn without actually spinning them and that would be super cool, too (I've actually been looking at silk hankies online lately for just that reason) and this is just the right amount to experiment with, so maybe I'll do both.

And with that I'm off to go search for the first episode of Season 3 of Drop Dead Diva.  (Does anyone else watch that show?  My brother got me hooked.)  Yep, my life is a bundle of excitement (and yarn.)

Monday, June 20, 2011

And Then The Clock Struck Midnight

Dudes, I totally and completely did not knit fast enough.  In fact, I knit so un-fast that the powers that produced such a wonderful, perfect first mitten actually reversed their effects.  It's like they not only wore off on my future production of speedy, even stitches at a perfect gauge, they actually wore off of the first mitten as well.

I should have seen it coming when I knit the thumb.  I picked up the wrong number of stitches.  I dropped stitches.  I messed up the pattern.  My floats were tight.  My decreases sucked... and then I tried on the mitten.  The thumb was fine (somehow.  I mean, I knit it three times so I shouldn't be surprised, but I am), but the mitten, the WHOLE FREAKING MITTEN was too small!  You see that?  You see what happened?  The magic that had given me a perfectly fitting, one-day mitten wore off and it became what it was all along.  A stupid too-small mitten with ugly decreases that may very well be partnerless for eternity because when I started the second one?

It was too big.  Like two inches too big.  (I think I've moved from Cinderella to Goldilocks.  The only problem is that mittens come in twos, not threes and therefore I will never have one that is "just right.")  Yayo of the comments was right when she told me to rip out the first cuff and start over (but I couldn't reply to her comments directly because I don't have her email address so I'm tell you here, Yayo.  Totally spot on.  I must have just been wearing my rose-tinted glasses.  Or maybe they were more like beer goggles.)

Knitting totally blows sometimes, ya know?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Knitting Voodoo

That's the only explanation.  There is some weird sort of magic going on around these parts and, to tell you the truth, I hope it sticks around.

See?  One mitten down, one to go.  I knit that entire thing (minus the bit of cuff I showed you the other day) yesterday.  Yep, magic.  And what's more, when the fates decided to give me super speed when it comes to knitting, they also gave me mystical gauge powers.  And by that you must understand that I mean that although I didn't check gauge for these mittens (and why would I?  I mean, a decent gauge swatch would be the size of half a mitten, so why not just... knit half a mitten?  Ya know?), something magical happened.  The cuff I showed you before?  It fits.  And no, I didn't rip it out.  I didn't move up a needle size.  I didn't do anything.  It just... fits.  I'm not going to question it.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go get started on the second mitten before these powers run out. (I have a feeling they're not permanent and that I have a limited number of hours in which to use them.  Sort of like Cinderella.  Except when my time runs out I'll break a needle, drop twenty-three stitches and get my mitten caught on the strongest velcro while on my way to the sink to wash out the coffee that leapt out of my mug and onto the beautiful, creamy white of the mitten just moments after I realized that ten rows back I messed up the pattern in an irrecoverable way.  Yup, I better knit fast.)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Mittens By Number

1.  My sister has started blogging again!  You should stop by to say hello.  It could be worth it (just sayin').

2.  Yesterday I was overcome with a deep, passionate desire to knit stranded mittens.

3.  I had the yarn, but didn't have DPNs the right size (?!?!?!)

4.  I went to the yarn store and came back with yarn for the mittens, but no needles.  (Thus costing me money and defeating the purpose of the trip.)

5.  I made it work by using the two 6" Knit Picks harmony needles I found, two 5" Brittany birch, and one 8" Clover bamboo.  (I won't get into why none of these were acceptable.  Apparently I'm more picky than I thought.)

6.  I didn't much like that set-up, but I love the pattern (Marko's Mittens from Folk Knitting in Estonia) and I'm using Jamieson's, so there's a lot of love going around.  (I've had a things for natural, woolen-spun yarns for a while, too.)  (I saw some other yarn that was "moth-proofed."  I don't know what that means, but I was instantly upset by it.  I don't like my yarn tampered with.)

7.  I don't know why I thought it was a good idea to start a pair of mittens at 1am, but I seem to have managed the cast on just fine.

8.  That second braid, though, the pretty white/red one?  It's wrong.  It's supposed to be black and red.

9.  It's fixed now.

10.  Now I just need to figure out how it's going to fit on my hand.

11.  I'm sure it'll be fine when it's done.

12.  Be quiet, I can hear what you're thinking.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Perfect Sweater

I realized a few weeks ago that I haven't knit a sweater for myself since I finished Delain at the beginning of March, 2010.  What's worse is that I have been holding onto the yarn for several sweaters for quite a bit longer than that.  Each one I've chosen has presented just one or two "complications" to a carefree, mindless sweater-knitting experience and for one reason or another, I've put it aside so that it can sort those complications out for itself.  They haven't yet, and so my needles have gone sweaterless.

For my birthday this past November my sister sent me enough Malabrigo to knit a sweater and I've been on the search for the perfect pattern ever since.  The trouble is, I'm no longer convinced that the perfect sweater pattern exists.  There are tons of great ones, many sweaters that I love and want to knit for myself, but not with this malabrigo.  I think the problem is that I went into this search with a pattern in mind and have ruled everything out because, well...  because it's not the sweater in my head and that means it's not perfect.

So I decided last week that I was just going to have to design this sweater myself.

That's how far I've gotten.  I'm not even going to tell you how long it took to draw something that even resembled the shape of a sweater (I've never pretended to be an artist.  Well, except with music.  You know what I mean.), but this is where I'm stuck.  Here's what I know about my sweater:
  • It's knit at a really dense gauge because it's going to be a coat
  • It's going to have cables
  • It's going to have twisted stitches (this then rules out it having cables, I think)
  • It's going to be knit in pieces
  • It's going to have set-in sleeves
  • It's going to have a zipper up the front
  • It's also going to have a front flap that buttons closed with toggles
  • The band around the bottom is going to be a sideways cable knit separately as a strip
  • It's going to have a collar, I just don't know what kind yet
So, alright, you'd think I'd be well on my way at this point, only I've been sitting with my stitch dictionaries for days and they're so full of post-its marking cables and twisted stitches that I don't even know what I'm doing anymore.  I've made lists, I've narrowed them down several times and the trouble is that I can never make up my mind.  One day I decide that I want all my cables to be "curvy", and then the next day I decide I don't want cables at all and go off and remove all the post-its and only choose twisted stitch patterns, only to drop those like a hot potato when I see a "pointy" cable that I like and then the other day I decided that I would just whack them all together and when I started charting out a swatch so I could check gauge, I changed my mind.  I can't put rounded cables together with sharp ones next to twisted stitches and seed stitch (the seed stitch came from left field.  I've already ruled it out.)  What was I thinking?  That's too much.  In my head that looks like a cluttered, unfocused mess and my sweater (in my head) doesn't, so clearly I'm not there yet.  (Don't even get me started on the day when I decided that each segment of my sweater would be something different.  The back could have twisted stitches, the front right the rounded cables and the front left the pointed ones, with the sleeves getting the leftovers.  I clearly wasn't thinking straight that day.)

So I'm back to where I was when I drew that picture.  A blank sweater-shaped canvas that needs to be filled with some sort of pattern and this is where I realize, for the tenth time, that I'm not a designer and may be a bit over my head.  How do they do it?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I Sort Of Went To Philly

I have just returned from my trip and I am happy to say, it all went as planned.

I went to visit a friend near Philadelphia and every day was so much fun!  I didn't actually go into the city itself, but we managed to keep ourselves entertained very well.

On Thursday we went to the Philadelphia Zoo, which is really an awesome place.  It is one of the better zoos I've been to and it was so much fun to go to one again!  It has been too long.  I love everything about it, except maybe the fact that the air was so thick with pollen that there was a light fog everywhere you went.  Other than that it was super cool and as my friend continually sneezed the entire day, I was secretly so thankful that I don't have allergies.  (Except for bubble bath.  I don't know why and I haven't had a bubble bath since I was really little, but I don't want to risk it.)

Then on Friday we drove to Hawk Mountain, which is a sanctuary for birds of prey and, well...  you all know how I feel about birds.  There are numerous trails in the area and we decided to take the "River of Rocks" trail that morning which took us down into the valley and around - you guessed it - a river of rocks.

Above is a view from one of the lookouts near the top of the mountain.  The arrow is pointing to where we stopped and ate lunch.  And here's a view from the above arrow, pointing to where I was standing when I took the first picture.

We thought "River of Rocks" was just a cool name until we actually got there and saw that it really is a river of rocks.  It was super cool and I had a little bit too much fun clambering around on all of them.  My friend wasn't as keen on pretending to be a Mountain Goat and hopping around all over the rocks, so here she is in the background functioning as a bit of scale so you can see the size of this place.

Unbelievably cool.  Really, super duper cool.  I couldn't get enough of it.  And when we weren't clambering over rocks (which, admittedly, was most of the time) we were hiking through the woods and every so often one of use would exclaim something about Ferngully or pretend to be a forest sprite (I'll leave that up to you to guess which one of us that would have been.)

We said goodbye to the stoney river and continued on our journey back up the mountain to see what sort of view we could find.

And the view we found was incredibly spectacular!  You could have knocked me over with a Turkey Vulture feather (of which there were many to choose from), but I'm glad I wasn't knocked over because, well, because I was on the top of a mountain.

It was soooooo cool!!  I didn't realize how much I love hiking, but how could I not have guessed it?!  I mean, I used to rock climb all the time.  And I love being outside in the woods.  And I love birds.  And, well, this place is called Hawk Freaking Mountain and it involved climbing rocks and being outside in the woods looking at birds and really...  how could it get any better than that?!

And I have to tell you the birds I saw because I was super excited and dorky like that.  I didn't take pictures though, this is just going to be quick and dirty.  In addition to the DOZENS of Turkey Vultures everywhere, and the Robins and all those usual birds, I also saw several birds I hadn't seen before.  I saw Scarlet Tanagers (both a male and a female.  I almost had a heard attack when I saw them.  I may or may not have done a little dance, I don't remember.  I was just so excited!  I had dreamed about seeing these birds for years and I finally did!  I even pulled out my bird book and made my friend verify that I was indeed seeing what I thought I was seeing.  So cool!), an Indigo Bunting (So beautiful!  And such a saturated color!  Is that weird to say that about a bird?), a black and white warbler (which I have seen before, but it was cool anyway) and a male Baltimore Oriole.  Oh, and I heard a Pileated Woodpecker and although this place is called Hawk Mountain, there seemed to be a noticeable lack of hawks.  I saw one Red-tail, but I think that was it.  The rest were Turkey Vultures.  Except the Kestrel I saw.  Hooray for birds!

Ok, so then we left because we had to go to a birthday party, but then two days later we had a decision to make.  Do we go into downtown Philly and do all the things that one should do when visiting that city, or do we go back to Hawk Mountain?

Alright, so it wasn't really a very difficult decision.  The first time we were there (Hawk Mountain, not Philly.  Duh.)  we reached that super cool lookout and then I sort of scrambled over a cliff and saw a sign right above this huge drop that labeled it as the "Skyline Trail."  It was labeled as the most difficult trail and was recommended only for experience Appalachian hikers, but I couldn't resist.  We returned to Hawk Mountain and hiked our way along this "most difficult" trail, the whole time patting ourselves on the back for being such experienced Appalachian Hikers, and then when we were resting and munching on our packed lunches and enjoying our abundance of water, some real hikers walked past.  There were three of them and although they resembled the Jonas Brothers, I'm pretty sure they weren't.  They said they had been hiking for days and had been out of water for the past three or four hours and then, well, and then it hit me.  Maybe I'm not a real hiker... yet.  But this is what our trail looked like, and I think it was so much more fun than wandering around downtown Philly.

...and I had my very first Cheesesteak.