Thursday, March 27, 2014

Tap...tap...Is this thing on?

Oh, Friends, I've meant to write. Really, I have. Usually it's 20 minutes before I go to bed and I think to myself, "I should write about that on the blog." And then I tell myself I'll do it tomorrow and the next thing you know, it's nearly three months before you actually compose a new post.

Since late December I've been training for a 25K (15.5 miles) race, which I completed last weekend. Well, when I say "completed," what I really mean is that I had run 12 miles when it was made clear to me that I might not make it to the finish line within the allotted time, so I called it a day at that point. I'm certainly disappointed that I didn't go the whole 15.5 miles, but I've never run 12 miles in my life, so I can chalk that up to a personal best. At least now I know a half marathon is not outside my realm of possibility, so I might consider signing up for an autumn half marathon.

So what with running four days a week and cross training for two, I didn't have a whole lot of time (or energy) for knitting, much less writing about knitting. Since I last posted, I've come to an impasse on the Streymoy sweater. Once I got it to the armpits, I tried it on my husband and discovered that it's going to be much too big. I was also going to run out of yarn, but that's not an insurmountable problem. Four inches too big is too damned big. Now I'm just working up the courage to rip it out and start over. At least I have until next winter to get it done.

Once the race was over, I had a chance to do a little yarn shopping. I got to check out seven (!) yarn shops while I was in North Carolina for the race, and the standout of the bunch was Warm 'N Fuzzy in Cary. There were so many of my favorite yarns: Stonehedge Fiber, Quince & Company, Fibre Company, Dale of Norway. There were plenty of others that were new to me, so I had a difficult time deciding what to get. I ended up getting two skeins of Fibre Company Canopy fingering and a skein of String Theory Caper Sock. There was a lot more I wanted, but I was pretty much over my yarn budget, so I had to exercise a little restraint.

On the way home from our trip, I worked on a my Feminine Lace socks, from Stephanie van der Linden's book. They're coming along just fine, but once I got about halfway through the leg chart, I realized I'd knit a pattern very similar to this at least twice before. I'd show it to you here, but I don't seem to have photographed it yet. I'll do it for next time.

Until then, Friends.

Monday, January 6, 2014

I'm a big fan of Eero Saarinen.

I really wanted to write something intelligent, cohesive and original about the Eero Saarinen exhibit I went to at the Kentucky Museum of Art & Craft, but in the week since I went, I haven't been able to come up with anything. So this post is pretty much just a photo essay. Of how much I like architectural models. Enjoy!

Case Study House #9

Side Entry to Case Study House #9

View into living spaces in Case Study House #9

Model of TWA Terminal at JFK

View through entry doors

View of seating area

Model of Yale Hockey Rink

Actual Saarinen chairs (Tulip armchair at back right)

More actual Saarinen chairs (Womb chair at left)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Socks: done, started, yarn purchased.

I never did put up the photos of the finished Scylla socks that I made for my friend Dan, so I thought I'd show them now. It feels like I finished them ages ago, but according to their Ravelry project page, they were finished a mere week and a half ago. It's really a nice pattern: the repeats are easy to memorize and the heel is my favorite toe-up solution. And while the socks look a little more red than brown in the photo, I still like how they turned out. Even better is that they actually fit the recipient, which makes me very happy.

With that project finished, I needed another portable project to work on, so I finally cast on the Zirkel socks again. This time I'm doing them in the cream with a contrasting semi-solid yarn, rather than the self-striping I'd mistakenly chosen the first time. They're coming along so much better this time! I'm also doing them one at a time, on double-pointed needles. It almost feels like I'm learning to knit again, what with the dpns and the colorwork. Since this is stranded, I'm carrying one yarn in my left hand, picking, and carrying the other in my right hand, throwing. My tension seems to be getting better too, especially since I decided to do the side spacing in stripes, rather than having a 5 (or more) stitch float at the end of the repeat. I don't have a deadline for these socks, so I'm going to take my time on them. Maybe they'll be done by spring?

Lastly, I thought I'd put up pics of the yarn I bought while I was in Ft. Wayne over Thanksgiving. You might remember that I'd taken all kinds of photos, and then lost them. I took new pics this week of the two skeins I picked up: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Camouflage and Black Trillium Fibre Studio Merilon Sock in Earth. They're both a little darker than what I usually choose, but I needed to get more masculine colors into my stash. I seem to have a lot of pretty greens and pinks in my stash, most of which aren't superwash and don't make good gifts for men. I'm sure at least one of the new skeins will become socks for my husband and the other will likely be for a friend to whom I promised a pair of socks for his next birthday. I guess I should get on that - his birthday is in February.

So that's it for now. Merry Christmas! Until next time, Friends.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

My Kingdom for a Button! (With apologies to W. Shakespeare)

I can't be the only knitter who's fussy about buttons, right? I mean, if you're going to put a couple months and 100-ish dollars into a project, you can't just slap any old thing on it. I think I went to something like 4 stores before I found some acceptable buttons for my Rafters cardigan.

First, while I was in Fort Wayne over Thanksgiving, I checked in at Knitting Off Broadway for buttons. They have a great selection of buttons - sadly, the ones I liked for this project were too small. Then yesterday morning I went to Sophie's Fine Yarn (I'd gotten the buttons for my Zori cardigan there). Right away I found buttons that were a perfect color match for this sweater. Yay, right? Nope. They were too big for the buttonholes and I wasn't about to re-knit that band. Luckily, I found the same color in the right size, except there were only 4 buttons for my 5 buttonholes. Argh! There were plenty of other buttons that were almost right, but not quite, so I was off to the next store, The Smocking Shop. They didn't have any buttons that were right for my cardigan, but they had plenty that would be great for heirloom hand-sewn items like christening gowns and caps. But something they did have was an employee who knew of a local artist who makes buttons and where to find her. While I was in the shop she called the artist and asked if it would be alright to send me to her home for some buttons (I wasn't so sure about this, but this is Kentucky and a lot of people would think this is No Big Deal.). In any event, the artist said she was delivering some buttons to one of my favorite gallery shops, Edenside Gallery, just that moment, and I could sort through the buttons there.

Before I left the east end of town, I went up the road to Joann Fabrics, just in case they might have what I was looking for. As much as I try to buy as many of my supplies as possible from locally-owned businesses, sometimes you just have to go to a chain store. It turns out they had just the right buttons for this sweater: the right color, the right size and simple enough that they would not distract from the gorgeous cables which are rightly the focus of this sweater.

I saved the stop at Edenside for last because it's been one of my favorite shops ever since I came to Louisville. They have all kinds of gorgeous ceramics and glass and metalwork and jewelery, lots of it made by local artists. I've bought gifts there for friends and I've bought more than a few things for myself. I think their shop is one of the few places where someone could buy me anything and it would be right. (Not that that's a hint, or anything. Not really.) Anyway, I took my time looking around the shop, coveting everything, and managed to overlook the buttons I'd gone in for. Once one of the ladies pointed them out to me, I decided quickly that they would be perfect for my next sweater project, Streymoy, from the most recent Knitty. The buttons are made from acorn caps that the artist, Lindsay Frost, has filled with lichen and epoxy. They're quite charming, and are much less twee in person than their description implies. After my husband saw them, he liked them as well, so I'm pretty excited to be able to use them on his new sweater.

Well, that's all for now, Friends. Next time I'll have photos of the finished Scylla socks and the beginning of the Zirkel socks I've started. Until then.

Monday, December 2, 2013

I got out of the house for a minute.

Last Thursday was Thanksgiving here in the US, so I was in Fort Wayne (Indiana) for the holiday. I had planned on just staying for a couple days, but once the Simply Socks Yarn Co. announced that the Yarn Harlot would be in town for some workshops and a lecture, I decided I could extend my visit long enough to go the lecture. As she was speaking on Saturday evening, it gave me a chance to finally go to the store and check out all their yarns in person. I'd been wanting to do this for a long time, but the shop is only open on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and I never seemed to be there when the shop was open.

I got to the shop about 90 minutes before closing time, hoping to be able to take a couple laps around before I had to make any decisions. The shop is in a building that had been a post office when I lived in the neighborhood more than 20 years ago. It still had all the glazed tiles on the walls and the terazzo flooring at the front where the service windows once were, but all the interior walls had been removed and replaced with colorful, squishy, glorious yarn! Right up front was a great big selection of Madelinetosh yarns, in the DK and the sock yarn and Alchemy, Dream in Color and Three Irish Girls on the left. There were so many, many yarns I wanted,  but I managed to exercise a little restraint and only bought one skein of Lorna's Laces sock and one of Black Trillium Fibres Merillon sock. Any others I want I can order online now that I've felt it up in person.

I had been hoping to complete my Rafters cardigan in time to wear it at the lecture, but, sadly, it wasn't even close. A week ago, I thought I might be able to knit up the sleeves and button band in time. I was so wrong! I only managed to get about 1/3 of the sleeves done (both sleeves at the same time), and it wouldn't have mattered if I'd gotten the button band done since I didn't even have any buttons. I just really wanted to have a show-offy sweater to wear to meet the Yarn Harlot. I ended up wearing my Zori cardigan and getting lots of compliments on it from all the nice knitters who were in attendance. One person even went so far as to say she wanted to make it for herself, as she liked the traveling stitches in the yoke. I'm glad to hear it - there are only 5 Ravelry project pages for it, so it'll be nice to have another one out there in the world.

After I finished up at the yarn shop, I went down a couple doors to a little coffee shop that's in an old converted firehouse. I needed to kill a little time before the lecture, and I wasn't the only knitter with that idea - I met some women from Anderson and from Indianapolis who had come up for the day. I made a little more progress on the sleeves of my cardigan and had a nice chat with Luke the Barista about how many people had paid to go to IPFW to hear a lady talk about knitting. He was completely astonished that so many people would come from so far for such a thing. But when I brought up how far people will travel for gaming cons and stuff like that, it seemed to make sense to him. This was something the Yarn Harlot touched on in her speech too, which was in turns enlightening, touching and hilarious and to which I can't do justice here. Let me just say that if you have the chance to go to one of her appearances or take one of her workshops, do it. You won't be sorry. There is a reason she makes her living doing this: she is good at what she does.

And on that note, I'll consider this post finished. I've nearly finished the Scylla socks, but I'll leave the details until next time. Until then, Friends.

P.S. When I wrote this post, I thought I had a whole lot of photos to support the text, even one of myself that I liked with the Yarn Harlot. Sadly, I had a Windows 8-related problem importing the pics and may or may not be able to recover them. If I can get them, I'll post them, otherwise, y'all are just going to have to trust me when I tell you I had good photos.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Slow & Steady as she goes.

Holy smokes! It's been two weeks since I posted last. I can't really say that I've had that much going on, so I'm a little surprised so much time has passed. Anyway, I've made good progress on my Rafters cardigan: I've completed the waist shaping and only have the bottom border to do before I can start on the sleeves and the collar/buttonband. The cardigan doesn't really have any ease right now, but I think that once the button band is on and I can get the whole thing washed and blocked, the cables will loosen up some and I'll end up with about 1.5" of positive ease. I'm still in love with the color and I can't say enough about how soft this yarn is. I just want to pet it all day long. The cat is still in love with it too. Today he was rubbing his face on it and licking the bag I store it in. He's a strange little beastie.

I've also made progress on Dan's Scylla socks. I finally turned the heel this week, and now only have the leg to finish. The great part of that is that the stitch pattern knits up quickly, without a whole lot of thought. Since Dan's so tall, I'm just going to knit until I run out of yarn. We'll see in a hurry whether I divided the hank evenly.

So it's a short post tonight, Friends. Thanksgiving is coming up soon, and there's a chance I'll get to see the Yarn Harlot when I'm home in Fort Wayne for the holiday. I'll probably limit myself to the Saturday night lecture and skip the classes. I'll post pics if it happens. Until next time.

Monday, November 4, 2013

WIP it good.

All my WIPs continue apace. I seem to be a little all over the place lately with my projects, but somehow, bit by bit, they're progressing.

This week I managed to get to the halfway point in the Hanami stole. I'm really happy with how it's coming along. I like that the beads have given it some heft (as hefty as seed beads can be on an alpaca/silk lace stole) and I think it's going to drape beautifully once it's finished. I hope I have some occasion to wear it. Maybe I'll get invited to a wedding. Or maybe we'll go to the ballet. Or something. Of course, I'm not sure I have anything to wear with it, so I'll have to get on that.

Knitting. Tasty, tasty, knitting.

I've also made progress on my Rafters cardigan. Just this morning I completed the front shaping and now I'm ready to get everything all joined up for some progress on the body. It looks a little small right now, but I think that's because so many of the sweaters I've made for myself have turned out too big. Even if it's a bit small now, I'm pretty sure that blocking will relax some of the tightness in the cables. So long as I get gauge on the sweater as a whole, I'll have about an inch of ease.

Since my last couple posts I've frogged the blue socks for my friend, Dan, and started a new pair for him. I'm doing the Scylla pattern again, this time with a skein of Mountain Colors Crazyfoot I've had in my stash for awhile. In the skein, the yarn looked a lot more brown than it's knitting up. In the socks, I'm seeing more jewel tones, but I think it's still masculine. I hope he'll be cool with it. This is my commuting-and-waiting-in-line knitting and it's moving right along. I've probably got another two weeks with it before it's finished.

Of course, with three projects on the needles (four, if you count my unfinished Halloween costume), it looks like I'm not going to be doing any Christmas knitting. There just won't be any time. I have a feeling I'm still going to be baking up a storm, but it's already too late to be in time for Christmas. I will, however, be scouring my house for just the right contribution to our family's Dirty Santa exchange.

On that note, I'll sign off for now. Until next time, Friends.