Archive for January, 2008

Beret redux, still questioning the Chevron Scarf, and a knitting book recommendation

January 26, 2008

Ruby, when I told her I was thinking about making a doggie shrug for her to wear:

Really?  A doggie shrug?  Well, if I have to…

I finished my Last Minute Purled Beret from Knit & Tonic – I hadn’t even blogged about this, it was such a quick knit.  Just as well, because the thing was frickin’ huge.  I swatched on the size needles the pattern called for, and didn’t get gauge, so I went up a needles size without swatching again – big mistake.  I guess I was in denial the whole time I was knitting it, because it was pretty painfully obvious when I started doing the decreases that it was not going to work.  I was so disgusted, I frogged the thing before taking any pictures – which is too bad, because it looked pretty funny on.

But I have restarted:

And will hopefully have better luck this time.

And a picture of the Chevron Scarf I am all ambivalent about:

I just don’t know about this one.  I’m going to several more rows at some point and make up my mind.

I got a few knitting galleys a while back at work – pretty cool on the one hand, because hey, free knitting books, but really they are just a big tease, because all the photos are black and white (galleys are basically just a xerox copy of a manuscript) and grainy and you totally can’t tell anything about the projects in them.  But they are nice to take home and look through to help decided which books you might want to buy.  One that is definitely in that category is The Knitter’s Book of Yarn.  If you haven’t seen this one yet, pick it up.  It tells all about different kinds of yarn – where they come from, how they are spun and plied, what projects they are good for – plus there are like 40 different patterns in the books.  By some seriously cool folks, like Norah Gaughan (designer of the Tilted Duster) sock designer extraordinaire Cat Bordhi (although her pattern is a bag), Teva Durham of Loop-d-Loop,  Adrian Bizilia of Hello Yarn (designer of the Irish Hiking Scarf, We Call Them Pirates, Squirrel and Oak Mittens and lots of other way cool and way ubiquitous patterns), and lots others.  Seriously, it’s like an all-star cast.  Checking out the patterns on Ravelry, what jumps out first are the Princess Mitts by Jennifer Hagan (you know how I love those fingerless mittens), Amy King’s Gurnsey socks, and the Cabled Swing Cardi by the aforementioned Nora Gaughan – I’m sure there would be more, but there aren’t pics of all the projects on Ravelry yet, and I don’t have the book in front of me – plus, as I said, you can’t tell a whole lot from the pictures!

Between the great patterns and the fact that it is chock full of info about yarn, I would totally recommend buying this book, as I will be!

Dogs in clothes – bad thing or good thing? Plus, cabling without a cable needle is totally not all that hard.

January 24, 2008

So I don’t generally approve of people clothing their pets.  Yes, some dogs need a little extra warmth, and that’s fine, but putting bulldogs in party dresses a la Tori Spelling is a little much, I think.  But whatever, you know – to each his own.  If your dog doesn’t mind wearing clothes, and you get a kick out of it, then have at it, I say.

And then I saw Cables & Bits by Sarah Wilson in the Winter Knitty (do yourself a favor – click on the link, because the pics are just adorable).  It is sooooo cute – a doggy shrug!  It just makes me want to squee.  Part of it is the little ball of puppy fluff they’ve got modeling it – she just looks so happy!  I have no idea if Ruby would wear clothes or not – but I think we may find out!

Also, I got the new Knitpicks catalog yesterday – I LOVE it when the new catalog comes in – I save it up to linger over it.  This is a really good one, too – no new yarn, but a couple of free projects – including a really cute cabled hat that I am totally going to make, as well as a really excellent tutorial on cabling without a cable needle.  I had been wanting to learn to do this for a while, and had been trying another method that has a whole extra step beyond what is in the Knitpicks tutorial.  Nervous knitters beware – this process does involve just letting stitches hang in the air after pulling them off your needle – this made me pretty jumpy at first, but I’m using a pretty fuzzy wool in this project, and those stitches aren’t going anywhere.  Now that I can do this, I’m totally going back to Koolhaas, which I completely abandoned after one row of picking up that cable needle every other stitch:

…as you can see.

Finally, I read a fabulous book this week – The Sister by Poppy Adams – it doesn’t come out until April (part of the advantage of working in bookstore – pre-pub galleys!), but check it out when it does.  I would describe it as a combination of two books with Castle in the title – We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson and I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (two books I also highly recommend).  Two sisters, one crumbling Victorian castle, family drama and major creepiness.  I stayed up until 2:00 a.m. to finish it because I could not put it down.  Plus, you will learn more than you thought possible about moths.  Trust me on this one – it’s a gooder, as my husband says.

UFO Rescue

January 22, 2008

Well, two days into the yarn diet and it still goes well. Let’s hope it continues! I’ve been rescuing some UFOs, as planned – yesterday’s football knitting was my Taos Cabled Scarf that had been languishing for almost exactly a year – I got the yarn with Christmas money last year. A close-up:

Not sure why this got relegated to the UFO bin – maybe because it has cabling every fourth row, and I’m not super-fast with the cable needle. I like the color changes in this yarn (Crystal Palace Taos), but it’s a little splitty – the strands are pretty loosely plied, and I keep accidentally digging them apart with my needle. This won’t be the longest scarf ever – I only bought two balls, and I don’t know that I’m going to care enough to go get a third to make it longer.

I also started a Chevron Scarf this weekend (from Last Minute Knitted Gifts) with some Knitpicks Gossamer I had on hand – I don’t know if I’m going to make it on this or not. I love the yarn (God bless Knitpicks), I like the colors (even in combination – I went with a purply colorway and a blue colorway), but a loooong scarf pattern in laceweight? It kind of sounds like a recipe for madness. Plus, as I’m knitting away (seriously, like an inch and a half in about an hour), I’m thinking, this pattern is totally stockinette based. What is there to stop it from curling like a mother? So I hop on Ravelry (love, love, love that I have this option) and check out some of the multitudinous Chevron scarves, and see that several people have commented on it curling. So should I rip out and add a garter stitch border? Not worry about it? I know blocking will help some, but even my Argosy rolls, and it’s got garter every few rows. So I don’t know. I’m going to put it on the back burner for a while and see later.

OK, here are two random things that are calling my name to make:

1. Chanson en Crochet – a crocheted capelet. Honestly, I don’t have a lot of use for a crocheted capelet, but I’ve got a semi-formal thing in just under two weeks, and that would be a great wrap. If it were knitting, I would never even attempt it, but I am a way fast crocheter, and it is possible I could get this done in time. Here’s the thing – I would need black and the only vaguely appropriate black yarn I have is Microspun, and this pattern calls for worsted. Double the yarn, maybe? I need to do some more research into this before moving forward.

2. A Gingerbread Castle from the second Barbara Walker Treasury. Why? I don’t know. I have even less use for a knitted castle than I do for a crocheted capelet, and yet I want one.

I tell you, those Barbara Walker books are so much fun – I think it fairly astounds my husband that I can sit entranced staring at pictures of stitch patterns, but I just love to thumb through them. I’ve never even incorporated any into a pattern (that’s a lie, I took my baby cable rib sock pattern from there), but I can imagine the amazing things I can make! I love the lace sections, especially – the more complex the better! If you don’t have these wonderful books, hunt them down – you’ll be glad!

Yarn diet

January 19, 2008

So it has come to this. I have always scoffed internally a little bit when I would read on the knitlist or Ravelry about people going on yarn diets – I would think, “Why deny yourself something that gives you so much pleasure?” However, with at least two vacations looming, and our credit card debt looming even larger, something had to go. I don’t really buy all that much yarn, but it’s an easy way to save a few bucks between now and March when said vacations will happen. Bobby and I will be taking a weekend trip with the dogs – I think we are going to rent a cabin somewhere near Natural Bridge like we did a couple of years ago, and then my yearly trip with my girlfriends will be this spring, too. So saving money is the order.

In fact, I went to a yarn store TODAY with my mom and did not buy a single skein – I’m so proud of myself!

It’s not like I don’t have enough yarn to get me through a few months, anyway – I have all of my UFOs, plus yarn already purchased for the following projects:

1. Robin’s Egg Blue Hat from I Dream of Knitting or Banana Republic Knockoff Hat – on Craftster by Metaphysical Muse (they are pretty similar)

2. Some sort of snowflake hat – maybe the appropriately named Snowflake Hat from Carissa Knits

3. The ubiquitous Chevron Scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts

4. Tempting from Knitty

5. Some black laceweight that I’m not sure what I’m going to do with yet – perhaps a Pi Shawl? I want to make some sort of shawl but I’m not sure what yet.

6. Several skeins of sock yarn

7. Plus the usual unassigned stash yarn that could be who knows what.

And, I really want to finish some UFOs that have been languishing about the house for about forever. I’m thisclose to being done with my Melon Scarf – probably just about half a dozen more pattern repeats and I’m done. I made good on my promise to make that my football knitting last weekend, and knit about 60 rows. And boy, could I feel that in my hands the next day!

I don’t think I’m going to do any edging – I think I like it just the way it is. I’m a little intimidated about blocking it – I’ve not block a major lace project before, so it will be interesting. I really wish I had some blocking wires – I think that would make the whole shebang a whole lot easier.

I also finally busted out my yarn winder that I got for Christmas – and let me tell you, even without a swift, that baby is a life changer. Once I got my system down (using the back of a chair as a pseudo-swift) and my tension right, I wound 2 skeins of laceweight in about 15 minutes. Waaaaaaay faster than my old method of wrapping it around my knees and doing it by hand, that’s for sure!

More football tomorrow, so more good knitting time. I didn’t do so hot on my picks last week – I picked both the Colts and the Cowboys to win, and neither did. That’s fine with me, though – I’ve been rooting for a Patriots/Packers Superbowl all along, and unless things go terribly awry tomorrow, I think that is what we will get. And if that is the case, I’ll pretty much be happy with whomever wins – I’d love to see Favre get another ring, but an unbeaten season for the Pats would be pretty cool, too!

Quant-ified

January 12, 2008

Almost done with Quant – and just in time, some pictures!

This picture is kind of terrible – I’m not that great of a photographer, our camera kind of sucks, the natural light in our house is really bad, and I was too cold to go outside. But here is a cool closeup:

This has really been a fun project – I’m almost done – just have to finish the rest of the i-cord strap. I used mightbekatrina’s (Ravelry username) modifications to make the ends match up – as written, the finished project has very different looking ends. I kept telling myself that it didn’t matter, since the ends would be under my hair, but I was very glad to see mods posted on mightbekatrina’s project page on Ravelry (I would link to her page, but Ravelry seems to be down for maintenance at the moment) – so thank you very much for sharing!

I also took this out to take some new perhaps not quite so sucky photographs:

My Melon Scarf from Victorian Lace Today – and realized I hadn’t touched it in months. I LOVE this scarf, but it’s a little tedious. But I’m busting it back out today – it’s going to be my football knitting!

GO PACKERS!

Three things I am pretty darn excited about

January 10, 2008

1. I just purchased my copy of The Sweet Far Thing today – the third in the Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray. I can’t wait to start it, but I am re-reading the first two books in the trilogy first – I just finished A Great and Terrible Beauty this morning, and am a few chapters into Rebel Angels right now. Seriously, these books are so much fun – I wish they were around when I was a teen to read them. They have it all – romance, magic, mystery – and they are set in Victorian England – really, what more could you ask for? AND – the third one is HUGE – I love big fat juicy books like this – guess what I’ll be doing all day Saturday??

2. I can totally do entrelac. For reals, y’all. I’ll almost done with Quant from the new Knitty – I don’t have a picture yet, though. Slacker, I know – it hasn’t been sunny enough on a day that I’m off to take pictures, and our house isn’t so much with the natural light. But you know what? As it turns out, entrelac is not that hard. Yes, it is fiddly – I won’t lie – there’s lots of turning your work around, but it is so much fun to see those little diamonds pop up! Plus, this pattern is so good – if you have never done entrelac, I highly recommend it – it is very, very clear and straightforward. It doesn’t seem to make sense – you’re all like, “Do what?” – but just do exactly what the pattern says and you will be good to go.

I’m extra excited about this because it was one of my Fearless Knitting goals (as mentioned in Knitting Daily and on Ravelry – if I am successful and not too much of a interwebs moron, there should be a button on that sidebar over there proclaiming my total fearlessness), along with colorwork. If colorwork is this easy and fun, I am golden for knitting goals in 2008!

3. I don’t have to work at all this weekend, including Sunday, when I thought I did, so it is NFL playoffs all weekend for me!!! And yes, I really am excited about this – I love football, and I love to knit and watch football. So for the record, here are my picks (no spread, just winners):

AFC Divisional
Jacksonville/New England – um. Let me think. New England? I don’t think it will be an easy one – Jacksonville is the team that everyone keeps saying no one wants to meet in the playoffs, but I think they are going down. I don’t know if anyone can stop the Patriots.

San Diego/Indianapolis – a little tougher to pick, but I’m going with Indy. I don’t think the Colts will let the Chargers beat them again, and Harrison should be back, so Indy it is.

NFC Divisional
New York Giants/Dallas – Dallas. Manning and co. looked good last week, but Dallas has something to prove after the last couple of weeks. Although if T.O. isn’t healthy, I may eat these words!

Seattle/Green Bay – I refuse to live in a world where the Packers don’t win this game, so I’m picking Green Bay. I love Brett Farve and really, really want him to get back to the Superbowl this year. My team (Denver) was out of playoff contention forever ago, so I’m pulling (almost against my better nature – I’m an AFC gal) for the Pack to go all the way.

We’ll see how I do – I called three out of four last weekend (I really thought Washington was on a roll).

Enjoy the playoffs if you watch ’em – if not, enjoy your weekend!

All accessories, all the time (plus some knitterly love)

January 6, 2008

The bitterly cold weather we experienced here recently may have had something to do with this, but I have been all about hats and gloves and such recently. Of course, it’s 60 degrees outside today, but it is Kentucky, and we should be experiencing a drastic weather change just about any day now.

But let’s have a look at my most recent FO’s, shall we?

1. Super-chunky hat, pattern free with yarn from ReBelle (sorry, no photo yet)

2. Fetching – my second pair, this one as a gift:

3. A hat for Bobby:

4. Calorimetry:

5. My second Le Slouch:

6. My first pair of Fetchings:

And those are just since I’ve last blogged about knitting – previous to those, I knit Branching Out, a One-Skein Scarf, and my first Le Slouch. Currently on the needles are yet another pair of Fetching (these for my mom), Dashing for hubby, the Palindrome scarf, some mittens from the Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns, and Quant.

I think it’s time for me to face it – I’m accessories knitter. And it’s all good.

Now I want to share some love – for the mighty Fetching. At this moment, there are currently 3,895 pairs of Fetching in Ravelry – incredible, eh? And it’s because this is a totally awesome pattern – for reals, people. It’s easy, intuitive, fast, a great item for one skein of really nice yarn or to use up stash, great to give as a gift or to keep for yourself – really, I think it may be the perfect knit. And the finished product – I have to say, I questioned a tad how useful it would be – fingerless gloves? But I wear them all. the. time. I get cold at my desk, I slip them on. When I nip outside for a quick ciggy (yes, I’m trying to quit), I slip them on. Driving? You can actually grip the wheel, unlike with regular gloves or mittens. Plus, everybody wants a pair and is totally impressed they found out you made them. I’m making my third pair, and will probably cast on for another when I’m done with these so I can have a second pair. Love, love, love the Fetching.

2007 – A Literary Summary

January 4, 2008

So my husband, for several years now, has kept what he calls a “Reading Log” – basically a list of all the books he reads, along with dates finished. I always thought this was a good idea, but could never seem to get it together to do it myself. Well, at the beginning of 2007, I figured it was finally time. I wrote down every single book I read in a Moleskin notebook, along with the date I completed it.

It makes for an interesting review – how many books were re-reads, how many I thought were really outstanding, and just how many books I actually read. Turns out, quite a lot – I’m a pretty voracious reader. The average for 2007 was about two books a week – which is, I think, a lot by most people’s standards.

So, without further ado – THE LIST ( it seems to call for capital letters, somehow). Oh, and a note – titles in red are re-reads, titles in blue are books that I really enjoyed or found outstanding in some way.

1. New Moon, Stephenie Meyer

2. The Ghost Map, Steven Johnson

3. Don’t I Know You?, Karen Shepherd

4. Bad Monkeys, Matt Ruff

5. The Game, Diana Wynne Jones

6. The Knitting Circle, Ann Hood

7. Screening Party, Dennis Hensley

8. Knitting Rules, Stephanie Pearl McPhee

9. Home Remedies, Angela Pneuman

10. Flower Children, Maxine Swann

11. Raw Shark Texts, Steven Hall

12. Down the Rabbit Hole, Peter Abrahams

13. How To Be Lost, Amanda Eyre Ward

14. So Many Books, So Little Time, Sara Nelson

15. The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger, Stephen King

16. The Langoliers, Stephen King

17. Behind the Curtain, Peter Abrahams

18. The Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three, Stephen King

19. The Dark Tower III: The Wastelands, Stephen King

20. The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass, Stephen King

21. The Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla, Stephen King

22. The Prestige, Christopher Priest

23. Stephanie Pearl-McPhee Casts Off, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

24. Meet the Austins, Madeleine L’Engle

25. The Moon by Night, Madeleine L’Engle

26. The Young Unicorns, Madeleine L’Engle

27. Something Rotten, Jasper Fforde

28. Thursday Next: First Among Sequels, Jasper Fforde

29. The Titan’s Curse, Rick Riordan

30. The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah, Stephen King

31. The Stolen Child, Keith Donahue

32. A Ring of Endless Light, Madeleine L’Engle

33. Troubling a Star, Madeleine L’Engle

34. Crooked Little Vein, Warren Ellis

35. A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle

36. A Wind in the Door, Madeleine L’Engle

37. A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Madeleine L’Engle

38. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver

39. Soon I Will Be Invincible, Austin Grossman

40. Spanking Shakespeare, Jake Wizner

41. The Used World, Haven Kimmel

42. Katz on Dogs, Jon Katz

43. Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, Laurie Viera Rigler

44. Strangers, Dean Koontz

45. Does My Head Look Big In This?, Randa Abdel-Fattah

46. Not That You Asked, Steve Almond

47. Darkly Dreaming Dexter, Jeff Lindsay

48. Foop, Chris Genoa

49. The Ruby in the Smoke, Philip Pullman

50. The Shadow in the North, Philip Pullman

51. The Tiger in the Well, Philip Pullman

52. Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince, J. K. Rowling

53. Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows, J. K. Rowling

54. Austenland, Shannon Hale

55. Into the Dark, Peter Abrahams

56. Evil Genius, Catherine Jinks

57. The Girls, Lori Lansens

58. Last Night at the Lobster, Stewart O’Nan

59. Going Postal, Terry Pratchett

60. Making Money, Terry Pratchett

61. Stardust, Neil Gaiman

62. Sandman Vol. I: Preludes & Nocturnes, Neil Gaiman

63. Sandman Vol. II: The Doll’s House, Neil Gaiman

64. Sandman Vol. III: Dream Country, Neil Gaiman

65. Sandman Vol. IV: Season of Mists, Neil Gaiman

66. Sandman Vol. V: A Game of You, Neil Gaiman

67. Sandman Vol. VI: Fables & Reflections, Neil Gaiman

68. Sandman Vol. VII: Brief Lives, Neil Gaiman

69. Sandman Vol. VIII: Worlds End, Neil Gaiman

70. Sandman Vol. IX: The Kindly Ones, Neil Gaiman

71. Sandman Vol. X: The Wake, Neil Gaiman

72. Endless Nights, Neil Gaiman

73. Pride, Prejudice, & Jasmin Field, Melissa Nathan

74. Light a Penny Candle, Maeve Binchy

75. The History of Love, Nicola Krauss

76. Little People, Tom Holt

77. The Learning Curve, Melissa Nathan

78. No Talking, Andrew Clements

79. The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick

80. Only Human, Tom Holt

81. Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman

82. Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding

83. Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, Helen Fielding

84. Heartbreak Hotel, Anne Rivers Siddons

85. The Monsters of Templeton, Lauren Groff

86. The Somnambulist, Jonathan Barnes

87. Uglies, Scott Westerfeld

88. Drunk, Divorced, & Covered in Cat Hair, Laurie Perry

89. Pretties, Scott Westerfeld

90. Specials, Scott Westerfeld

91. Julie & Julia, Julie Powell

92. The Year of Living Biblically, A.J. Jacobs

93. Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac, Gabrielle Zevin

94. Promise Not To Tell, Jennifer McMahon

95. Rock On, Dan Kennedy

96. The Black Book of Secrets, F.E. Higgins

97. The Penderwicks, Jeanne Birdsall

98. The Penderwicks on Gardam Street, Jeanne Birdsall

99. The Know-It-All, A.J. Jacobs

100. Helping Me Help Myself, Beth Lisick

101. Everybody Into the Pool, Beth Lisick

102. A Dirty Job, Christopher Moore

103. Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery

104. Anne of Avonlea, L.M. Montgomery

105. Anne of the Island, L.M. Montgomery

106. Anne of Windy Poplars, L.M. Montgomery

107. Anne’s House of Dreams, L.M. Montgomery

108. Anne of Ingleside, L.M. Montgomery

109. Rainbow Valley, L.M. Montgomery

110. Rilla of Ingleside, L.M. Montgomery

111. Here, There, & Everywhere, Chris Roberson

112. Extras, Scott Westerfeld

113. The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood

114. The Nanny, Melissa Nathan

115. All Shall Be Well, and All Shall Be Well, and All Manner of Things Shall Be Well, Todd Wodicka

116. Knockemstiff, Donald Ray Pollock

117. The Book of Vice, Peter Sagal

118. Cruciverbalism, Stanley Newman

So, stats:

1. 118 books read – not too bad. I feel like I could actually read more, but given that I can’t knit and read at the same time, I don’t think this is too bad.

2. 51 re-reads – this surprised me a bit at first, but once I thought about it, it didn’t so much anymore. I’ve always been a big reader (I even wrote a blog about it a while back) and some books I re-read pretty much every year, like Neverwhere and the Anne of Green Gables books.

3. 11 books I would consider outstanding – this is amongst new books read. Obviously I wouldn’t re-read books if I didn’t really like them!

And some random notes:

1. You may notice I have listed all of the Dark Tower series by Stephen King except for the very last one. I actually read all of the last one but about the last 200 pages. Why would I invest hundreds if not thousands of pages read and not even finish with the series? Because I didn’t like where it was going. I could tell what was going to happen, and I didn’t want to stick around to find out. So there, Stephen King.

2. I’d have to say I enjoyed almost everything I read except a few books. The two Jane Austen take-offs I read (excluding Bridget Jones’s Diary) I wasn’t totally wild about. I love Jane Austen, so I read a lot of that stuff, and I almost never like it – with a couple of exceptions – Bridget Jones and Pride, Prejudice, & Jasmin Field – I love those and keep hoping to find others like them.

3. I tend to go on a lot of jags – witness the Madeleine L’Engle block (rediscovering those – hadn’t read them since I was a kid) and the Neil Gaiman block, for two.

4. I also tend to re-read previous titles when a sequel comes out – see Harry Potter, Terry Pratchett, the Penderwicks, etc. I like to have things fresh in my mind.

5. I read almost exclusively fiction – only 17 non-fiction titles on the list.

6.  There were several books I started and didn’t finish, but I didn’t keep notes on those.

So that’s it – a year of reading.   Can’t wait to see what great books 2008 brings!