Thursday, February 26, 2009

I've Had It

It's official, I am 100% sick of winter.

I don't think any storm has ever put me in such a grumpy mood.  This snow is disgusting.  It's heavy and wet and just plain old nasty.  Not to mention that it's piling up by the minute.

I snapped these pictures with my phone after safely hiding my car away in a parking ramp so I don't have to deal with brushing it off later on.  None of this snow was here three hours ago.  Most of it had melted and I was contemplating not even wearing a coat today.  I am disgusted.

In other news, I'm spending the weekend up north at my school's beautiful "north campus" (retreat center/lodge) in Door County, WI with a bunch of other knitters from school and I think this is perfect weather for it.  See, it's not all bad.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Winter Wonderland

Yesterday, upon waking up, I saw a sight outside my window that, let's face it, should not have been as surprising as it was.

Here is a Haiku I wrote describing why I shouldn't be surprised:

Snow Falls In Winter
Wisconsin Has Lots of Snow
It Is Still Winter

However, I was surprised enough that I grabbed my camera and shot a few pictures on my way to breakfast (making sure I didn't have an audience.  Let's face it, it's acceptable for a Texan to take pictures of the first snowfall of the season as it may be the first snow they ever see.  It is a bit odd for a Minnesotan to take pictures of snow in the middle of February because every sane-minded Minnesotan should be sick of snow at this point).  I was actually very excited about the snow and the fact that the temperature has dropped again because I was starting to worry that the winter knits I currently have in progress were going to be deemed useless by the time I get them finished.  This snowfall gives me hope.

As promised, here are some photos of the project I finished while on my way to Chicago last weekend:

Pattern: Porom by Jared Flood (rav link)
Yarn: Jamieson's Double Knitting in Bracken, 1.2 skeins
Needles: US 6 and 8
Time: 2 days

I was desperate for a project I could take on my trip with me that would be easy enough to work on without really paying attention and it just so happened that I had this yarn on hand.  This hat knit up so much faster than I expected it to!

I broke into the second skein to finish the last 10 rows of decreases at the top, which means I still have, well, almost a  full skein of yarn left (with no idea of what do with it).  For now it will go in my random used balls drawer.

I didn't know what I was going to do with the FO once it was done, but I was on Skype with a friend in Georgia while I was knitting it and she saw the pattern and said she would love to have it, so I'm going to ship it off to her very shortly.  Don't you love it when friends are willing to take your projects off your hands?

I really enjoyed this yarn.  After knitting with Malabrigo for so long, I almost forgot what it felt like to knit with really rustic wool.  I loved that crunchy sound it makes when you squeeze it and the way it feels like it could stand up to anything.

I blocked this hat twice: once over a balloon to open up the lace pattern (I didn't want to have a crease from laying it flat), and then I blocked it again, this time only getting the bottom ribbing wet because it was a bit stretched out by the balloon.  I'm very happy with the way this hat turned out.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Chicago: My Way

I got back from my short tour in Chicago on Saturday night and I really enjoyed myself while I was there.  We performed at a few different high schools in the surrounding suburbs and I was blown away by the level of maturity, integrity, and plain old musical talent that these high schools portrayed.  One that we played at had a HUGE music program, consisting of four (or was it five?) bands, four orchestras, four jazz bands, and seven choirs!  The director said that about 1,300 students participate in these music ensembles (and the one we heard really blew me away.  As a performance major studying at a conservatory, I was actually intimidated to perform after them).  To put this in perspective, my entire university only has 1,400 students, and only 1/4 of them study in the conservatory.  We have three choirs, two bands, and one orchestra.

Well, we set out on Thursday morning to drive the 3.5 hours to Chicago and I happily settled down with my travel knitting for some quality time.  However, this was not to last as I quickly finished the project - the only project I brought with me - before we even crossed the Illinois border.  Crap.

Good thing I brought my book along with me as well, which I promptly finished just as we arrived in Chicago.  I seem to have forgotten how much one can actually accomplish with just a little bit of free time.

I had already planned to visit a yarn shop on Saturday, as we were given the whole day to explore Chicago, and I would be spending the next few days in rehearsals and performances anyway, so it wasn't a huge deal.

Now here comes the real bulk of my story, my Saturday in Chicago (oh, I should mention, there are actually no pictures related to knitting):

As soon as our bus dropped us off in front of the Art Institute (how typical), I chose to avoid the oh-so-cool tourist look and took off in the opposite direction of the rest of my classmates and headed straight downtown, sorta kinda looking for a place to eat and also walking in the general direction of the yarn shop I had found on

I stopped at Panera for lunch on my way (and I made sure to stuff some french bread in my bag to save for later) and headed for the yarn shop.  Loopy Yarns is, well, it's located somewhere downtown and was a very nice yarn shop.  I didn't feel ballsy enough to take pictures while I was there, but it had a very nice set-up.  From what I could tell, the main room contained mainly worsted-weight yarn: malabrigo, manos, noro, cascade 220... things like that.  There was a second room that had lace and fingering weight yarn (off all different sorts, seriously, they had some really nice stuff there) and another room that contained the bulkier yarns like silk garden chunky, malabrigo chunky, eco-wool... that sort (and also manos merino silk - I couldn't figure out why it was in that room).  They also had another room with a wall full of books and then downstairs (yes, downstairs!) they had their sale area, classroom areas, and also roving for spinning or felting.  It really was a nice shop.

One thing I really liked about the shop is that the workers had to have been in their late twenties at the oldest and when I walked in, I was greeted (and completely caught off guard) by a male's voice welcoming me to the shop.  I definitely felt more comfortable here than I have at other shops where the workers don't know what to think of me.  I really enjoyed that the workers at this shop kept me company and chatted with me while I looked around, but it didn't seem like they were following me around or trying to push certain products on me.

I ended up just buying one skein of yarn: one hugely massive skein of Cascade Ecological Wool in a beautiful chocolate color.  I have been wanting to try this yarn for a while now, but I can't get it at the yarn shops around me, so I jumped at the opportunity.  Ever since reading this post by the Yarn Harlot, I have had dreams of creating a set of winter wear that actually matches and I knew that one skein would be more than enough.  Of course, when the nice worker offered to wind it up for me, I declined thinking that I can just use the ball winder at home, forgetting the small detail that home was still a 3.5 hour drive away, which is why I had bought the yarn to begin with.  Whoops.

Anyway, I then went to Barnes and Noble and bought the next book in the series I am reading (it may or may not be the Twilight series, don't judge) and went on my merry way.  My plan was to spend my day outside reading in the park, among other things, including:

...using the bread I had saved to feed the geese.  :)

This one was my friend and he was very nice to me.  They were all very quickly eating out of my hand and I had a wonderful time. (I checked beforehand and didn't see any signs saying not to feed the geese, there was just one that prohibited the playing of balls).  Of course, my fun ended when this guy:

(doesn't he look shady?  Har har!)
decided to be a bully and stole me entire roll out of my hand while I was busy feeding the other geese.

Of course, my one friend remained, but all the other geese chased after the food.  It turns out they just used their stunning good looks to get what they wanted and then dumped me like yesterday's garbage.  Some Valentine's Day, harumph!

The project I finished on the bus is currently blocking and I will post pictures shortly.  Until then, I will leave you with this very clear sign I found on the sidewalk along Lake Michigan:


Thursday, February 12, 2009


This shawl is taking forever to knit up.  What you see there is 1/8 of the body, which has sadly taken me about 5 months to complete (including swatching and multiple false starts).  The pattern itself isn't super hard, but the combination of the stiff, skinny yarn, detailed pattern (this is not social knitting), and my lack of free time all contribute to slow goings on this one.  I hope I can get going a little faster to finish this one up - it's about time.

I'm heading off to Chicago tomorrow (today, in about 5 hours) with my school's Wind Ensemble and although I will be spending most of the weekend performing at various venues, I will have most of Saturday all to myself downtown, which means: yarn exploration!  I'll let you all know how it goes, and I can confidently say that I will have an FO to show you (I know this because I accidentally knit half of it tonight while doing laundry, even though I only intended to cast-on in preparation for travel knitting).

Good night.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I Must Be Cursed

Dear weather,

          Please make up your mind.


Someone who constantly tries, but fails, to dress accordingly.

Here's the deal.  I finished my super warm, super soft, super wind-tight hat and have been really eager to wear it, but I've hit a bit of a snag:  The weather will not cooperate.  I was joking when I said that knitting my malabrigo cowl made the temperature rise, and was humoring myself when I claimed that my not-so-successful hat brought the temperature back down, but come on.  This one cannot be ignored.

Today is February 10, it is the middle of winter in Wisconsin, and the high today is 50 degrees!  (Not 50 below, just 50).  I haven't been able to wear my hat because it makes me overheat if I do.  I've been trying not to develop an ego, but you guys, my knitting can totally control the weather.

Here is the hat that has brought you (if you're lucky enough to live in Wisconsin) such a welcome break from the bone-chilling cold:

I knit this hat using malabrigo worsted in Lettuce and Chestnut.  There is a folded hem that you can't see which I knit on a US 2 and then I went up to a US 4 for the rest of the hat (we're talking wind-tight remember).

The pattern is the Oslo Cairo Hat  by Urraca and was really fun to knit up.  I'm not sure if you can tell from these pictures, but I still have a bit of a tension problem with my floats when I do stranded knitting, but once I started spreading the stitches on my right needle before switching to the other color, things seemed to get better.

I was hoping to take some better pictures, but my battery died before I could snap more than the three you see here and now it is simply too warm to do it.  Once I have more pictures I will post them over on Ravelry if anyone is curious.

I opted to sew the knitted hem down once all the knitting was over with, partly because provisional cast-ons and I do not get along (especially when trying to knit with a worsted weight yarn on US 2s) and partly because of this post over at Techknitting.  It didn't really occur to me that sewing the hem down at the end had its advantages, but I'm glad I did it, not only to avoid the "hem flip", but also because the hem (which I knit in chestnut) would have show through if I knit it in as I went.

All in all I am happy with this hat.  It is a wee bit on the long side, but I don't think it's anything to get worked up about, and I would rather have a hat that covers my ears than one that leaves them to the elements.  I'm debating whether or not I should add a tassel, any thoughts?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Unfortunate Events Continue

Yes, it's sad, but true.  There seems to be an extreme lack of cooperation when it comes to the weather and my knitted things.

Recall how I wanted to knit a hat for myself after knitting that cowl?  Well, I did it.  I knit a hat for myself and I actually wear it.  I call it my lumpy bucket.

You see, it's not the wonderfully gorgeous hat I was hoping for.  In fact, there is not a single part of this hat that turned out the way I envisioned.  It just sort of sits on top of my head and is stiff enough to hold its own shape.  The wonderful (read: odd) thing about this hat is that although it is stiff enough to stand on its own, the stitches are loose enough that the slightest hint of wind is able to blow right through it, which completely defeats the purpose of wearing a hat (it's only warm if I'm wearing it inside).

So great, I have a hat.  How unfortunate, right?  Well, here's the thing.  The day I finished this hat (that didn't matter if it blocked the wind or not because the weather was so pleasant), the temperature dropped back down to the negative twenties.  Remember how I jokingly said that if I knit a hat, the temperature would jump up to the 70s?  (I wasn't joking at all, I really was hoping that would happen.)  It didn't quite do that.  Nothing I had in mind about this hat -- the fit, the warmth, its magical abilities to change the weather -- came out the way I had hoped.  Oh, it's also not soft.  I almost feel like I should be embarrassed to wear this hat around, but I'm not and I wear it every day.

I knit it top-down using U.S. 8s and a skein of handspun I bought from TheyToldMeSew's Etsy shop a while back.  I wanted to save the yarn for something special, which this hat was supposed to be.  I though the stockinette would show off the wonderful colors in the yarn (which looked very different before they were knit up).

Of course today the temperate was in the 30s, which is why I was willing to go outside long enough to take pictures.  It figures that I'm halfway through a second hat that is going to be so extremely warm, soft, and will fit me just right.

Oh and look, I found my scarf!