Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm out of town for the holiday--proper blogging-with-pictures will resume when I'm back home. In the meanwhile, enjoy your turkey (or tofurkey or whatever; I'm no stickler for details).

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, at home, abroad, celebrating or no--surely we can all get behind a day where the point is to cook a ginormous meal and eat it with those you love?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


This is the scarf (with matching hat) inspired by Perdita's Gryffindor scarf. I knit the scarf in the round to avoid having a right side and wrong side, with the bonus of extra warmth and cuddliness. I believe it was knit on size 8 needles. The wool is a merino/silk blend I have long since lost the info for. (The label was green, it had a picture of a sheep, and it came from New Zealand. If only I could remember useful things.) It obviously passes the neck/head test, as I've been wearing these for almost two years now.

This picture gives you a bit more of a look at the hat (and slightly truer colors--the green is cool, but not really that cool). It was adapted from a pattern in Hip to Knit, the first knitting book I ever bought. I can't recommend this book highly enough. I've made my share of fairly hilarious mistakes working from it (ask Jane about her furry hat . . .), but it's never been the fault of the author. Mostly my refusal to swatch for gauge. Actually, now that I think about it, maybe I didn't adapt this pattern from Hip to Knit. This could be the hat I adapted from the pumpkin hat. Erm. Well, what can I say, I've knit a LOT of hats, and my memory has quite a few holes. And I've knit the Most Basic Hat from Hip to Knit so many times that I've obviously lost track. In any case, I still recommend the book. It's a good book.

And finally, a picture of hat and scarf in use. I call it "Portrait of the Knitter, with Flash." Regarding the shirt, when I was wearing it once, K looked at me in puzzlement and asked, "Why do you have a Louisiana State shirt?" (Bear in mind that I lived my whole life in the northwestern US until I moved a few years ago to upstate New York, and none of my family or close friends live in Lousiana.) As it happens, it was a souvenir from a trip my mother took to Baton Rouge, but it got me thinking. I have rather a lot of collegiate shirts . . . but only one from my actual alma mater. I really should get more, considering how much I loved it there--and how ratty all my other shirts have gotten.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Instant gratification

If you want some, go knit a baby hat. It's like knitting a real-person hat, only all darling and wee and QUICK. And just when you get bored, you're decreasing!

I knit a hat for a friend's baby (congrats, Laurel!) earlier in the fall, and I had enough yarn leftover to knit another for my friend Jane's sister's little boy. Since I didn't yet know what gender the kid was when I knit the first hat, I chose neutral colors.* The yarn is Plymouth Earth Mainland in colors 1 and 3 (cream and tan).

This yarn is delicious--baby alpaca and silk. I'm wool-sensitive and can't wear many yarns next to my head or neck, but I could so wear this. I could wear a bra made out of this. Nice for baby heads. And nice to work with as well.

I used the Umbilical Cord Hat from Stitch 'n Bitch. It's a pretty good pattern--sort of over-written if you're an experienced knitter. (I spent way too long looking for what "pm" meant, as I assumed it was a fancy decrease or something. It meant "place marker.") It knits up quickly and easily, although of course I had to make it all fancy with the stripes. It turns out that striped i-cord is a bitch.

I'll get Jane's sister to send me a picture of the hat in action, so you can see how devastatingly cute it is. The pictures don't really do it justice.

*If I were an infant I think I'd get sick of pastels. "Just give me earth tones, Jesus," I imagine them saying.

Friday, November 21, 2008

I am a knitting ninja

I'm working on a project I can't blog about yet, so the details must necessarily be vague. As I was nearing the end of one chunk of knitting, I saw that the ends of two pieces wouldn't graft neatly together like the pattern said they would. (I blame this on my reckless disregard for gauge. I am also a knitting anarchist.) But I did not despair. Rather, I counted my stitches, fired up Excel, and charted a new way to fit the pieces together, incorporating a variation on the previous design. Then I started to knit, and, lo and behold, my solution is working.

This is why knitting is so cool. There's always some sly and clever fix, a new way of doing things, that transforms what could be disaster into an opportunity. I was at my local yarn store yesterday and fell into conversation with an absolutely wonderful woman who was there working on a sock. We traded tips and observations about all sorts of knitting ephemera--from blocking to heels to toes to the cheapest websites--and discovered odd connections (we shared the same first name, her son is moving to Boise shortly). I left the store feeling great about myself, my town, and the knitting community at large. Knitters are awesome because they're friendly, clever, creative, and resourceful.

And now my project will be finished in a way that no one else's has ever been. It's my unique mark. How cool is that?

Monday, November 17, 2008


Busy busy busy. I've been knitting rather a lot, but (of course) haven't gotten around to taking pictures. In my defense, I was away all weekend, doing fun things, such as getting locked out of my car (keys in the ignition and all) at a gas station in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. With the headlights on. For the record, this is a Bad Idea.

Today I had a language exam for my degree--my hand aches from all the writing. Regular blogging will resume in a few days, once I have time and pictures.

Friday, November 14, 2008


K's scarf is done! It was a nail-biter. I very carefully calculated how much yarn I would need to save for the ribbing and bind-off, so I could use as much of the yarn as possible . . . and forgot to account for the increases I would be making in the first ribbed row. /facepalm. I had more than enough yarn to finish the ribbing, but it came up short during the bind-off. I was forced to cannibalize from the cast-on and ended up binding off the last eight stitches or so without any added yarn. Fortunately, it was a small enough area that it didn't cause undo puckering. Still, a lesson for next time. At least I don't have to wonder what to do with the leftover yarn . . .

Anyway, I finished the scarf last week and washed it over the weekend. Having limited space and resources makes for somewhat . . . creative finishing. I handwash anything that needs it in a mixing bowl in my sink--works great for socks and scarves. Rather than expensive wool wash, I use a bit of my regular liquid laundry detergent in cold water. (I use whatever unscented brand's the cheapest, usually; I like All.) To dry, I covered part of my futon with clean towels and laid the scarf out flat on top. I didn't block it, but I did shape the ends with a bit of a flare so the ribbing wouldn't scrunch up.

I'm very pleased with how it turned out. The finished dimensions are about four feet by four and a half inches--it won't be overly long on K. (I personally find too-long scarves annoying, but to each her own.) I especially like how the wool starts dark at both ends, fades to the light pewter color, then darkens to near-black at the middle. Completely unintentional at my part, but it looks darn spiffy regardless. Despite my struggles with matching the colorway, I'd definitely knit with this yarn again. It's really soft and snuggly. All in all, a lecture-knitting success.

I've been playing a bit with my new camera. This knitting photography stuff is hard. It's impossible to get any detail in the scale shots--that first picture gives you a good idea of the scarf dimensions and the colors, but for my money, the beauty's in the close-ups. I will continue to experiment! (Although feedback would be nice, hint hint.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Not one color but two

Way back in the day, the lovely Katie gave me this book. Over the summer, I finally got around to knitting something from it.

These are the North Star Mittens, in Rowan Cashsoft DK, colors 500 (cream) and 521 (burgundy). I love this yarn--the acrylic will make it sturdy enough for mittens, while the merino and cashmere make it a pleasure to knit with. I think it also passes the "can Lanafactrix wear it around her neck?" test.

The pattern, not so thrilled. It was a bit confusing to read, with several major errors (including one in one of the charts). Having three sizes to choose from is nice--but not at the expense of pattern clarity. These were originally intended for me, but it turns out that my hands are not as ginormous as my feet. This is the medium size pattern, which is just a bit longer than I'd like in the fingers. Since I had more than enough yarn leftover--I bought four skeins, and these used less than a skein of each color--I'll just knit myself a pair in the smaller size and give these away for Christmas.

On the other hand (you see what I did there), despite my struggles with the pattern, the mittens were a quick and relatively painless knit, and they sure do look purty. This was the first time I'd done stranded knitting--I'm very pleased with the result. I can't figure out ~quite~ how to get my colorwork completely flat, but I think that will come with practice.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Stash dive!

In the interest of keeping the readership entertained between actual projects, I thought occasionally I'd dig into the stash and show you some stuff I don't quite know what to do with or simply think is awesome.

To that end, I give you: wool. This is 100% alpaca, about 130 yards per skein. I visualized it as a scarf the first time I saw it--a nice, stripey scarf. But there are some problems with that. It's sportweight, so to make a winter scarf it'd have to be knit very densely, and I have less than 300 yards to play with. It might end up as the world's shortest scarf. I could knit socks, but that would require the enormous pain of reinforcement thread. It's soft, but it might be too scratchy to wear around my neck, so I think it'd have to be a gift scarf if that's how I use it. It's not light enough for lace, it's not heavy enough for socks . . . what say you?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

In which I am a hypocrite

So you remember how I was "sooooo busy" and I didn't "have any time" to make anything?

Erm. Well. May I introduce you to the newest members of my household?

This is the beginnings of a Travelling Roses scarf, in Posh Yarn's Diana, colorway Mischief. It's very fiddly and tiny, but I think it'll be really lovely if I can get past the knit three togethers and such. Speaking of which, I'm having trouble making some of the decreases with my customary wooden needles. If I keep having these difficulties, I may have to get over my aversion to metal needles. They do say Addi Turbos are the best for lace . . . This scarf doesn't really need a circular needle, though--it's only 51 stitches and fits easily onto my 7" DPNs. I don't even need point caps to keep the stitches from escaping.

As well as the fiddly knitting, I cast on a sock for something plainer. This is Regia Silk (55% merino/25% polyamide/20% silk) colorway Nairobi. I lurves it so. It's a dream to work with, and the colors are fascinating. I'm almost embarrassed to admit how much I enjoy seeing the stripes form and which colors come next. It's a toe-up sock, a new departure for me--I wanted to get the most out of this yarn, so I grabbed the nearest toe-up pattern and cast on. I'll be deviating very heavily from said pattern, so I have ~no~ idea how this'll turn out. (If people want, I can talk more about toe-up construction and such in another post?) But in the meantime, this will be good mindless knitting.

Also, I got my Ravelry invite! Please come find me if you're already on (I'm Lanafactrix there as well). I'm such a noob to the site--I don't hardly know what to do with it.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Various and sundry dilemmas

Several things are preventing me from posting properly as I want to do.

First, I got a new camera for my birthday. This means that I no longer have to use K's, buuuuut--it also means that I have to figure out how to work it. I haven't had the time or the patience to play as I ought. I plan to really suss it out this weekend.

Second, even if I'd figured out the camera, the light plain sucks lately. I live in a third-floor apartment, so I can't really take outdoor photos. (Well, I guess I could, but I might alarm the neighbors.) The best light in the apartment is in the mornings, but I usually have class, and today, when I don't, it's foggy (of course).

Third, the project I've finished--yes, I finished something!--is a gift, and I don't want to put up pictures too far in advance of its receipt.

Thus, for today you'll have to use your imagination. I'm winding the Diana yarn, and I grow more enamored the more I play with it. I have a pattern in mind that I can't WAIT to cast on. But that will have to wait for more time as well . . .

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Busy busy

These have been a busy few weeks for me, with school and K and everything, so things have been slow on the knitting front. (Not to mention that my current projects are redefining "eternity" stitch by stitch.)

But something exciting DID happen yesterday--in my mailbox was a package from Posh Yarn. My birthday yarn had arrived! And boy oh boy is it goooooorgeous. It's currently sitting on the chair next to my computer so I can fondle it whenever I please.*

In consequence of the eternal projects and the new yarn's advent, I've got a wicked case of startitis. I want very badly to begin this scarf in some yarn I bought last summer . . . I want to start a new pair of socks in Regia Silk** . . . I want to cast on something with my Posh Yarn--I don't really care what!*** But my sensible side tells me that I have little time to knit as it is, and not nearly enough to devote myself properly to a new project. Maybe if I am very, very diligent at the lecture this week I can finish K's scarf. And I may or may not have begun winding up the Diana, just to see what it's like . . .

Also, if you're from the US and you haven't already, vote today!

*What, you don't do that? Why are you backing away like that?

**I don't care if the dye lots don't match, damnit, it was on sale.

***Although I have been having fun looking for more challenging lace to knit. Details forthcoming.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Stuff I knit once

Introducing an irregular feature: Stuff I Knit Once. I've knit quite a lot of things, and although most of the lot is in other hands, I've kept a fair amount. Either because I liked it or because it wasn't really suited to give away . . .

Here, then, is a little scarf I knit I think December 2007. It's a gorgeous chenille touch-me yarn, just about worsted weight. (I've of course lost all information about the yarn, which I'm sure I bought on clearance.) I tried a funny sort of dropped-stitch pattern of my own devising, which, as you can see, didn't really work. I was aiming for an effect like so, where it's stretchy and a bit airy:

Overall, however, it ended up more like a loopy-ass mess.

I think with a little revision this pattern could work (if I remembered what I did), and it sure is comfy. I've never actually worn the scarf in public, mostly because I'd have to find a proper pin. And accessorizing is not really my forte.*

*Case in point: I demanded yesterday that K tell me what color my earrings were, because I'd thought I was putting in blue ones and they turned out to be pink. I was very confused.