Wednesday, November 28, 2012

You Bought Yarn, Didn't You

Yesterday was a normal work day. When I got home, I walked by the sink to drop off my sandwich container, like usual. And as I reached my room, I heard my Mum call out, "You bought yarn, didn't you." How the heck did she know. My bag didn't look suspicious. I'd only been home for two minutes.
Turns out the receipt had stuck to the sandwich container. But it's ok. This yarn is for a baby shower gift. As I'm sure most knitters know, it doesn't matter how big your stash is. You never have the right yarn for gift knitting. Especially when that gift has a tight deadline.

The other knit gift is now a longer pile of noodles. I'm still in shawl edging purgatory. Only 30 more repeats until I get to the next bit. The yarn is 100% mulberry silk. I've never blocked out mulberry silk. I hope it opens up well.

My Skyp sock is coming along well... now. I had to rip out large portions of the sock twice. Both times were my fault. I messed up the pattern once and it was noticeable. The second time I missed a repeat of the pattern before the heel. I decided it would be easier to rip the heel than to edit the pattern to accommodate my mistake. But I have tried on the sock and it fit great. I think Socks That Rock lightweight might be a new favorite sock yarn. It just feels like it is going to wear well.

I have to confess that even though it looks like I'm being productive, I am so stressed right now. I have more shifts at work, knitting commitments, and I've been working really hard to learn how to grade sweaters. Sweater sizing is really tough. (Or maybe I'm a little ambitious with what I'm trying to design.) I know that everything will pay off in the end and I'm thankful for the opportunities that are coming my way. But it still feels like my body is being squeezed.
On a positive note, I've noticed that there are a fair number of Celestarium KALs planned in the new year on various ravelry boards. I'm really excited to see people's projects in the coming months.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Edward Gorey And The Raccoon Hat

Back when I was at university, my housemate made me a really awesome birthday present. He drew up a knitting themed poem, of his own composing, in the style of Edward Gorey. The sheet of paper was tucked into a copy of an Edward Gorey book, which I had mentioned I was interested months before my birthday. I had made my other housemate a hat and had asked Brennan what he'd like for his birthday, to which he replied, "A raccoon hat." I puzzled and puzzled over how to go about making the mask. As you will notice, Brennan very cleverly put the hat into the poem. 
Well, an embarrassing number of years have passed since I promised that hat. And the picture is hung up on my bedroom wall, reminding me constantly of the hat that wasn't completed....

Until now. Ta-da! Raccoon hat. I mailed it a few weeks ago, so hopefully it is on Brennan's head now. He's going for his PhD and said he planned on wearing it while teaching classes. I'm hoping for some photographic evidence of this happening.

Part of the design dilemma I had was figuring out how to get the mask to flip up and stay up. I thought about buttons and hooks. But after attaching the mask, it turns out that the stickiness of the wool keeps the mask in place all by itself.

I'm not sure if I should make this pattern available at some point. I've got so much on my plate. But if people are interested, I'll put it on the to-do list.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Smaug Socks

I finished my Smaug socks! I was hoping to have them completed before The Hobbit movie was released. You know... so I can wear them while seeing The Hobbit.

The yarn is Handmaiden Casbah in what I'm guessing is the Ruby colorway. The pattern is Smaug Socks by my former co-worker, Claire Ellen. (Yes, I'm totally name dropping.) I'm most impressed by Claire's clever integration of the gusset shaping into the tail cabling. If you knit it, you'll see what I'm talking about.

This pattern was really fun to knit. I ended up having to rip back a bit to add an extra inch. No fault of the pattern. It's just a personal preference and I didn't really pay attention to the length the pattern said it would be. The pattern was accurate. I was not. But it didn't matter because these socks were so much fun to knit, it didn't feel like a chore. I did need a bit of quiet when I got to the heel. It might be easier for people who are use to heel flaps, but my default is a short row heel. Regardless, I'm extremely happy with how these turned out.

Unfortunately, when I cast off the Smaug Socks, I found myself without any knitting. That's right. I had nothing on the needles. Not even secret designs. Current secret designs are in the math/swatch/graphing stages.
My November list of knitting is done, so I have started in on my December list. As an aside, anyone who might be curious as to how I stay on track with knitting: I make a monthly list of knitting and assign myself a daily knitting quota. If there isn't a hard deadline, I don't push myself. But I also don't cast on more than 3 projects total.
This looks like a pile of noodles, but it is the beginning of the Rock Island shawl by Jared Flood. All going well, it will be gifted in January.

Rock Island will get easier after I get past the edging. But the edging takes a bit more concentration, so I've also cast on a pair of Skyp socks. The yarn is Socks That Rock lightweight in the colorway Puck's Mischief. 

I think I might be turning into Andi. It seems wrong not to have a sock on the needles. She's also the reason I chose the pattern. Her pair of Sir Isaac Lime Skyps made me want my own. Well, that and if I finished this skein, I won't have any more Socks That Rock. That means I can buy more in February when I go to Stitches West... right? It's totally reasonable.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Celestarium Future

I am thrilled that Celestarium has been embraced so enthusiastically. I just wanted to say thank-you. And thank-you to everyone who has left me such uplifting comments. I have had a smile on my face for nearly a week now. 

So what does the future hold? Well, I have had requests for a matching Celestarium that features the southern skies. So I plan on working on that soon. I already have the yarn.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Making Of Celestarium

Celestarium started it's life in early 2011 with the question, "Wouldn't it be cool if there was a shawl that was also a star chart." Of course knitting a star chart seemed utterly crazy. How do you even chart something circular that has no pattern repeats. Although the idea was neat enough to earn a sticky note on what my brother lovingly refers to as the "Beautiful Mind" wall, it seemed impossible, so I tried my best to think about other things.

Except that the idea kept bugging me. It seems obvious now, but it took me 6 months to determine that the only way to chart the sky accurately was to make a circular chart. After an unsuccessful search for a circular pi shawl chart, I ended up building one in Illustrator using a polar grid as a starting point. Eventually the chart was printed out, taped together, and hung on my window so I could refine the design.

Being from the northern hemisphere, Polaris seems like the logical center of the shawl. That ended up being the only easy star to chart. As it turns out, there is no standardization to constellations, so several sources had to be checked for each constellation before adding them to the chart.

The next big job was to make the piece knit-able. A big circular chart is wonderful for graphing, but an absolute nightmare to knit from. I toyed with different ways to keep track of star placement, but settled on placing a stitch marker every 72 stitches. Star positions were refined to make sure there were exactly 72 stitches in between each marker. No marker has to be moved in order to get the star placement correct. Additionally, all increase rounds do not have any stars, which makes the knitting go much smoother. As a bonus, the pattern includes a chart of the constellations so you know exactly what you have knit.

After 18 months of development, I finally was able to knit up the first version. Call it a coincidence or Providence, but right as I was looking into publishing the pattern Twist Collective's mood board landed in my inbox. One of the themes was macrocosmos with an image of stars. The rest is history.
Image by Jane Heller

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Remember way back in May when I was taking an un-vacation to work on Giant Super Secret knitting. Well, the proverbial cat is out of the bag. I have a pattern in the Winter 2012 Twist Collective! It's name is Celestarium and it is pleased to meet you. 
I had secretly hoped Jane Heller would photograph this. She did. I can die happy.

Celestarium is a pi shawl that is an accurate view of the night sky from the North Pole. The center eyelet/ bead combination represents Polaris. It took me a year and a half to develop. And I was nuts enough to knit two of them. One to see if it was possible and a second for the publication.

I plan to talk more in depth how this even came to be, but it is rather late in my bit of the world and I have work in the morning. (Let's see if I can even get to sleep. This is just so terribly exciting.)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Yarn Equilibrium

There must be some rule in the universe that dictates the specific equilibrium of yarn to space that must be maintained in my room. Because just the other day I was able to use up two skeins and on exactly the same day I bought two more. I'd like to note that I hadn't even planned on going to the yarn shop. It just sort of happened. I also didn't know the color of Ella Rae lace merino I wanted had come in. Color 131 if you are curious. I didn't know that only one of those skeins would be the perfect balance of orange to yellow I was hoping for and that the person who had knit a pair of socks with that color, a pair of socks I greatly admired, would be in and verify that this particular skein matched her's very closely.

I might have known that the monthly Tosh order was suppose to come in. But I still hadn't planned to go to the shop. It was only after they called me about a work related thing, and I verified that the Tosh really had come in, that my fate was sealed. That and the car was free. The universe had aligned everything so that two skeins of yarn would come home with me. That other skein is Tosh sock in the color Gilded. (Funny how one of the skeins used had been Tosh. I guess the universe has also dictated the amount of Tosh that must remain in my stash.)

How am I justifying this purchase? By saying that I have a plan for both skeins. And that I am certain the universe would have exploded, taking us all with it, had I not bought the skeins. Yarn equilibrium has been maintained in my room. Your welcome.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Petit Four Poisoning

The good news is that I ate steak yesterday, which means (to me at least) my wisdom tooth recovery is complete. Unfortunately, the victory was short lived as Mum offered me petit fours right after dinner that, unbeknownst to us, had almond flour. I am allergic to tree nuts. I ate 2 1/2 cakes. After 2 hours of deep unhappiness and one round of scrabble, I felt better less bad. At that point I decided that I was going to cast on a fun project because, heck, I deserved it. I'm pretty excited about this knit. The yarn is Knitwhits Freia Ombre Worsted in the Denim colorway. It is becoming a hat called Renfrew from the new Jane Richmond book, Island. I rarely knit hats that I'm not designing myself, but I must have this hat.
I knit faster than I blog as I'm 13 rounds from finishing the hat.

I also finally ripped out my Sound Of Waves stole. Although I took a few pictures before doing so. I had said that I would rip it once I had come up with a replacement project. It's looking like this yarn will become a Rock Island shawl instead.

And with that ripping, I have no more UFOs on the needles. Other than a few designs that need finishing work done, all my projects are active. I don't even have a project on time out! Let's take a moment to savor this moment, because it is unlikely to last a long time. And if you are mired in long lines of UFOs, feel free to live vicariously through me.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

And Once Again Treats Trump Dignity

Ever since we got the bug glasses, Mum and I have been trying to figure out how to get them to stay on the dog. Because what is funnier than Scooter in bug glasses? Nothing. That's what.

You know what is harder than trying to get the dog to wear bug glasses. Nothing. That's what. As you can see, Scooter is being told very sternly that he ought to wear the glasses long enough to get a picture.  There may have been copious amounts of treats involved. He is a really patient dog. Or he really, really loves treats. Possibly more than he loves his dignity. Poor guy.
Note the clever paperclip/ twist-tie rig Mum set up to keep the glasses on.

It was really difficult to capture this photo. Partially because the dog knew he looked silly in the glasses and thought he'd rather not wear them. Partially because I was laughing pretty hard. 

Good boy Scooter. Lots of treats for you.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Swatch Was Right

New yarn! I ordered two skeins of Brooklyn Tweed's Shelter to test out for the final book pattern. I'm a little undecided on the color, so I got a skein of the final two contenders. On the left is "Button Jar", and on the right is "Tent". Even though I would personally select Button Jar for my own sweater, I'm leaning a bit more towards Tent for the book. I think swatching might help me decide. Although if anyone has an opinion on what color sweater a woodsman living in medieval England who enjoys stealing from the rich and giving to the poor might wear, I'd love to hear. Keep in mind that there will be cabling going on.

I also treated myself to a color card from Brooklyn Tweed. I kind of want a skein in each color now...

On the sock front, after making my swatch and completely ignoring it, I knit 3 inches of a sock that I then got to rip out. The swatch was very accurate and the sock was exactly too big by the amount the swatch said it would be. We won't talk about the second false start I had on the sock. So now I'm on try number three. The Smaug pattern is great. I'm just stubbornly stupid sometimes. 
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