Sunday, September 30, 2012

Druid Mittens

It's been a long time coming, but I finally finished my Druid Mittens! They've been on my needles since January. But I've been working on them longer than that as I actually had found the yarn for the mittens back in 2010. 

When I visited New Zealand last, I bought 2 balls of Zealana Kia Ora Kauri Fingering. The fiber content is 60% NZ Merino, 30% Possum, and 10% Silk. That great halo in the yarn comes from the possum. The thumbs are the prettiest I've ever seen on a mitten. I didn't even realize it until I had knit an entire mitten.

I modified the fit pretty heavily. I like my cuffs more snug. I also had some trouble getting the right gauge despite using size 0/ 2.0mm needles, so I subtracted some stitches out of the pattern and added some length. The details are on my ravelry project page

If I were to make these again, I wouldn't have gotten rid of the slip stitches on the side of the mittens. I didn't realize until the first mitten was done what the slip stitches added to the design.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Luckiest Girl In The World

Yesterday a mysterious package was left by our door. Usually mysterious packages aren't for me, but when I picked it up I was surprised to see my name on it. In my usual calm manner, I ripped the package to shreds only to find the most wondrous skein of yarn.

Remember when I went to Big Sur last month and said, "But just look at the color of the ocean. I want to find some yarn in that color." Well, Kiwipurler did, and she had this skein dyed for me in the colors of the ocean by Big Sur. Let's take a moment to review. Here is the ocean around Big Sur.

Here is the skein of yarn. I'd say it is a perfect match. Kudos to Anna Gratton for her amazing dye work. The yarn base is 40% silk/30% mohair/ 30% wool. It's 4ply, 200g and she's named the colorway Jade. 

I am the luckiest girl in the world. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Coit Tower Adventure

Despite living within an hour or so of San Francisco, I really haven't explored much of it. And since it is such a large tourist destination, I thought it was rather silly that I haven't seen much of it. So that is where Mum and I headed to yesterday.
Discussing our route

Every time I have seen Coit Tower, I've said that I'd like to visit it. I didn't even know you could go inside it until last year.
I got the all important jumping picture at the backside of the tower.

You do have to pay to get to the top, but the view is unbeatable. I thought it was neat that people pushed coins through the window edges. Many country's coinage was represented.
A view of the Bay Bridge

Mum had never driven down Lombard Street, one of the windiest roads in the world, so we went ahead and did that. You also get a pretty good view of Coit Tower from Lombard Street.

After doing touristy things, we ate at the Cliff House, which is located near the ruins of the Sutro Baths. The popovers were great. We may have eaten more than we should have before our entrees showed up.

The entire time we were there, we watched the surfers. There was one guy who was distinctly better than the rest. He made surfing look so effortless. The rest of the guys out there were a bit more cautious. Mum and I were so engrossed with watching the surfers that our waiter had to get our attention to get our order.

After the Cliffhouse, we walked up the road to Louis' for some chocolate cake, which was a great way to end our day.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Still Knitting All The Things

My first Denature handspun sock is steadily growing. And although I really like the pattern and the yarn, I'm a bit on the ropes on whether or not they compliment each other as well as I was hoping. A  solid color would doubtlessly show off the pattern the best, but I suspect a good blocking will make the pattern stand out much better. I plan on continuing on since I spun this yarn with the intention of knitting this pattern. Starting over would only result in me never knitting the pattern or using the yarn for anything else. 
It should be noted that the heel flap is a little tough going and should be knitted in one sitting. 

The second Druid mitten grew a whole repeat last night. I've been feeling guilty about letting this sit on my needles for so long. (I cast on near the beginning of January this year.) Plus, I have finally worked out all the fitting issues I had with the pattern, so now I just have to knit.

Today's big project was to learn how to double knit. I have a pattern idea, and finally decided that double knitting would be the solution to the construction problem I was having. (A big thank-you to fernknits. Her botanical caplet is what inspired me to even look at double knitting as a solution.)

Learning this technique was much easier than it was the last time I tried. Partially because there are many more tutorials on the internet. (The one that made things click for me was from Knit Picks.) And partially because I now use both hands when doing stranded knitting, which helped immensely with keeping my tension even. Although I had to go down several needle sizes because, surprise surprise, it turns out my double knitting tension is looser than any other knitting I do.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Electric Prince

Now that we are in the last third of the year, I thought it might be a good time to see how I was doing on my annual goal list. #4 on the list is to "Knit a pair of sock with my own hand spun yarn." I had spun up this yarn with the intention of making socks, and now it is finally happening. I think I'm in love with the way this yarn works with the Denature pattern. I had to subtract a bunch of stitches out of the pattern to accommodate my weird gauge. Hopefully I' haven't taken too many stitches out.

Last post I said I would cast on two new things. That didn't quite happen. As I was swatching with the Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine, I decided it wasn't quite what I had in mind for the Antarctic shawl. It's a nice yarn, but I'm just not as in love with it as I was when I bought it a year or two ago. This year I've decided that I'm not going to knit with yarn that I don't love. Life is too short to do that. So instead I'm going to use the two skeins of RedFish Dyeworks Silk Sock that I bought this year at Stitches West. And I'm liking this swatch much, much better. The yarn is thicker than what the pattern calls for, but I've decided I don't care.

Of course before going wild with the yarn, I did finish my Velomeisters. I have named them Electric Prince since the yarns are Madelinetosh in Edison Bulb (the electric part) and Koigu in Prince (self explanatory).

I'm looking forward to wearing them on my next bike ride.

And a little bit of news about The Book. I'm re-graphing everything now that I've learned how to do a much better job aligning things in Illustrator. The bonus is that it is taking a tenth of the time it took to originally make some of the graphs and it looks so much better. I'm using video tutorials from Marnie MacLean for anyone who is curious. It's also giving me an opportunity to recheck graphs as I fix them all up. I'm also starting to edit the patterns to make sure the graphs and the written portions match. 
On a related note, as I was drawing up my charts, I found that there is no standardization for chart symbols. I pulled out copies of Vogue knitting, Interweave Knitting, Rowan, Coastal Knits, Little Red in the City, and looked at the Craft Yarn Council's Yarn Standards Charting Symbols. To make matters worse, some symbols in certain publications mean something completely different in another publication. And older copies of some publications sometimes have different symbols to more recently released copies. So I am doing a bit of a mixture from each publication. But I'm doing my best to build charts in a way where you only have to glance over to see what part you are on rather than stare at the chart key to figure out what the stitch is suppose to be. It should be intuitive. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Cast On All The Things

I think all knitters get the same urge when they finish a large project, especially if they have been monogamous with it. All of a sudden knitting three sweaters in one week seems not only possible, but completely reasonable.
This is my "Knit All The Things" pose.

This week I finished knitting and blocking design #9. So all of a sudden my mind was free to decide on my next project. Let's have a look at my ravelry queue.

Oh look, I have the yarn for my top four picks in the queue. My oh my, what shall I cast on first?
Left to Right: Handmaiden Casbah for Smaug, my handspun for Denature, Artisan NZ Merino Lace Weight for PO8 or similar scarf pattern, and Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine for Antarctic.

Actually, I was a bit disappointed with myself when my first thought was, "I need to finish my Velomeisters and Druid Mittens first." That's not you celebrate a month of monogamous knitting. You should be casting on for all the things. So today I am making it a goal to cast on two things... after I finish the second Velomeister sock.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Biking In Santa Cruz

Mum and I have started making all our "One day we'll go" plans happen. Every other Wednesday we have been planning a trip. This past Wednesday we biked from the Santa Cruz Pier to Natural Bridges and back. It's not a long ride, but there are a bunch of things to see and the views are great. Below you can see the "To Honor Surfing" statue. It is close to the surfing museum, which is housed in a lighthouse.

I think the most epic picture I took was this one of Mum biking. I was behind her, hanging onto my bike with my non dominate hand, trying to make sure Mum was in the frame, all the while avoiding bumps and people. (Not pictured: the bumps and people I was avoiding.)

Someone had left this nifty piece of art on top of a trash can. They took an aluminum can and cut dolphins out of it. There was also a whale tail and a seaweed sculpture. But I found the dolphins the most impressive.

After biking, Mum and I headed to the end of the pier to go to the Dolphin Restaurant for cups clam chowder and a sandwich. I had the crab melt.

Mum had the open faced crab sandwich. She had said she wanted a salad, but agreed to try out the sandwich instead. (We often will share half of two meals so we can try out more of the menu.) I told her that she ended up getting the salad she had wanted. There are slices of bread under that mountain of food, so it is technically a sandwich. We were both pleased with our decisions.

And I had another wonderful day of exploring with my Mum.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Cheating - But Only A Little Bit

It's time for a confession. I've been cheating on design #9. But only a little bit. And only when I couldn't bring design #9 with me. I've been knitting another pair of Velomeisters. This time I thought I'd do a duplicate stitch instead of stranding. I also have had to shorten the sock by 10 rounds in the cuff because I am cutting it so close with the main color. 
It turns out photographing neon colors is a bit tough. The color combination blinds people and cameras alike.

But I promise that I am working diligently on the book. I even knit over 3000 stitches today for it, which is the upper end of what my hands can handle. But once design #9 is done, I will have another pair of Velomeisters to call my own.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Stealing Like An Artist

I've really been struggling with feeling dissatisfied recently. Of course there is nothing wrong, which made the weird unsettled feeling I've been having even more confounding. At first I thought that I might just be burning out a bit, but after reading both Steal Like An Artist and Imagine, I think I've finally figured out how to put what I've been feeling into words.

I'm stagnating. I'm unsettled because I'm not learning anything new and there are no new things to learn in the foreseeable future. Steal Like An Artist talked about how side projects and hobbies are important. Knitting use to be my hobby, but it has become my job because of The Book. Imagine talks about how important it is for creative individuals to live in an area where you have access to new people and new ideas. It points out that living in suburbia is the worst place to live if you are creative because the suburbs are designed to keep people isolated. (Guess what my living situation is...)

Nothing is going to change in my life until The Book is complete, so I've decided that I'm going to have to give myself a bit of a side project. One that isn't too time consuming. Today I decided to brush up on my photoshop skills. I personally am not a fan of large photo edits. I think it takes the soul out of a photograph. But I think it would be wise for me to practice tweaking photos. Enhancing colors and feeling in the photos rather than making them into something unrealistic. I've been really impressed with many black and white photos I've seen recently, so that is where I'm going to start.
 Who's surprised it's a Scooter picture. Nobody... that's who.

The lighting was really good today, so I went ahead and did a self portrait too. I actually am on my bed with the tripod above me with the camera pointing down. It was almost a relief to do something artistic for the sake of.

Both Steal Like An Artist and Imagine are excellent books and worth reading. Although I understand that Lehrer, who wrote Imagine, is in a bit of trouble for misquoting Bob Dylan in it. I'd still recommend reading Imagine even if Bob Dylan was misquoted. The rest of the text is well written.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Scooter Loves Design #9

I have been the most monogamous knitter I know for the last week and a half. And it is paying off. I'm knitting the last chart for Design #9. Although each round is over 400 stitches now, so I only get about two rounds knit per episode of Magnum P.I. I hope to be binding off in less than two weeks from now.

And for those of you who follow this blog regularly, I gave Scooter a hair cut earlier in the week. So he isn't as fuzzy as he was a few posts ago. Surprisingly, the house has just been covered with even more hair than usual. I think his long hair was locking in all of the short fur underneath. I even brushed a solid, hamster-sized ball of hair off of him after his hair cut and bath. It didn't help.
And I'll give you guys all one guess as to where Scooter insists on sitting now. Hint: He doesn't care if it's being knitted on or not. 
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