Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Fall is in the Air

Forget spring, fall is my favorite season. It's here, and this is how I know.

One branch of the trees behind the condo has turned a beautiful orange. Not sure if it died or is changing for the season. We're going to go with changing, as some of the other needles have a tint of orange as well.

We've cleared most of the boxes out of the dining room, and made some good finds at some pumpkin patches to make a nice centerpiece.

This is the Mario Mushroom gourd

and the Biohazard Squash

Here's the first round of pumpkins and gourds, set up all nice and pretty.

Then one of our pumpkins (the big one of course) started oozing onto our new, never-before-used table. Nice. So, we ended up going to a pumpkin patch while we were visiting my family, and found the Mario Mushroom Gourd. After we got back, we carved the pumpkins, and added our new squash, and this (and some pumpkin seeds) is what we were left with.

Here's My Nerd's skull Jack-o-lantern

and my Maleficent.

Not bad considering we used steak knives and a nail as our tools. We used the paddle from our rice cooker as well, it was great for scooping out the guts and seeds. The pumpkin seeds themselves are no where to be seen in the pictures, mostly becuase they don't last long enough to get pictures taken of them. And they're just seeds.

In the past week, I've made most of the first Coriolis sock of a pair I'm giving my father in law for Christmas. I've also been working on a dishcloth along with my knitting group. And it's a disaster.

The KAL in general is going ok. But I've made a serious error in judgment, one that I shouldn't have. Because I just wrote and recorded a segment on gauge for the podcast. And I've had gauge disasters before. I figure that since it's a dishcloth, gauge isn't that important. Well, instead of a dishcloth I have a bathmat. A small one, but a bathmat nonetheless. It's huge. I didn't realize this was a problem while making each of the five petals because it's the worst photographed pattern ever, and you can't see how large the petals are compared to the center. I thought the petals comprised most of the dishcloth, and that the center would be small. Then I saw a finished one at my group, and almost cried. It's almost all center, the petals are very small. I also ran out of yarn, and I started with a full ball. That should tell you something.

I never planned to actually use it as a washcloth, as it's made out of Lionbrand VelvetSpun that I had in my stash. I don't know how the polyester chenille would hold up to regular washing. I will probably use it almost as a doily, on part of my desk that I don't write on. Or perhaps under my computer monitor. Or maybe, if I ran some icord just inside the border where the petals are joined, I could make it into a purse. Unfortunately, I don't know anyone who would wear a bright yellow chenille purse with petals around it.

Either way, I think this qualifies under "Disaster" on KnitWars.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Doxed and Thriller and Socks, Oh My!

Braided Cable Socks

Last weekend, Nerdy Hubby and I went on this very eventful trip to Middle of Nowhere, Florida for a wedding. Luckily, the travel and the lack of
anything to do gave me time to finish my Aran Braid Socks.

I chose these socks purely because at the time I was compelled to try some braided cables. Something about the braided speaks to me, and when I get gripped by a knitting pattern, I have to try it, (this is probably why I have so many projects going at once, more on this later). Here's a close up of the cables on the side.

They were made using just about one ball of Regia 4 ply. This is my first top-doen sock with a heel flap. The cables start just after the ribbed cuff, and are continued on a smaller scale down the foot.

They turned out marvelously, except for one cable left purposefully twisted the wrong way, so that I can tell the left sock from the right. It's on the inside of the left sock, on the foot where no one will see it when I'm wearing shoes.

Here are the socks with my new pirate loafers, in honor of my Ravelry name (KnitPirate).

...and on the foot.

That is definitely the most unflattering angle ever for someone with big calves, like me. But I'm not very photogenic anyways.

Knitting Project Infidelity Syndrome
I have a terrible case of Knitting Project Infidelity Syndrome (KPIS). It's a good thing that UFO's don't get jealous, because I always get distracted and start new ones. I have months where none get done, even though some are close to completion. I've gotten a little bit better about it recently, because I've started keeping track of my UFO's in my planner. I write them down in my to do list, like grocery shopping or laundry.

The inability to stay faithful to one project and my neurotic over-preparation leads to me carrying around an "obscene" amount of knitting and knitting accessories whenever I go somewhere to knit. The word obscene is in quotation marks because I have been told this. I usually don't ever go to a knitting group with less than two projects, plus maybe a FO to show off, all of my regular supplies and notions, and two extra balls of yarn and extra sets of needles just in case we find someone with no supplies and wants to learn to knit. In truth, people have been pretty good about asking for lessons ahead of time. However, just because it hasn't happened before doesn't mean it won't happen; in fact I think there's a good chance that the manager at the Panera where we meet will want to learn soon. He's very friendly and always talking to us, so it's only a matter of time.

Trip to Nowhere, Florida
The trip to a small rural town was, in a word, eventful. Before I continue, let me tell you that I grew up in a small town. I had grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins a few blocks away, and the best man at my parents wedding lived two doors down from us. So I have no problem with small towns. The thing is, the small town where I grew up was close to a bigger town, which was close to a small city. The small town that we went to for the wedding was near... nothing but empty roads. I thought I had seen most of what Florida had to offer, since I've lived here all my life and traveled most of the state. I was wrong.

We were meeting some friends on the edge of town the night before the wedding. This involved driving about 20 miles down a dark, desolate, foreboding, winding, steep two lane road. I didn't even realize Florida had roads this steep; it's essentially a two-dimensional state, other than overpasses and the occasional sand dune. The directions were given in terms such as "quite a ways" and "a little bit", so while driving down this road, we had no idea how far we were supposed to go. "A good bit" into our drive, something ran across the road, narrowly avoiding a fate that could be featured in an instructional video for teenage animals called "Blood on the Asphalt". We couldn't decide whether the creature was a dog or a fox, so it was termed a dox (as fog would have just been confusing).

Luckily we made it to see everyone that night, and we took a longer, more well lit route home. For directions to the wedding the next day, we decided to depend on Google Earth. It hadn't ever failed me in the past. But it did that day. Google for the lose! We only made it to wedding because we noticed a man in a passing car was wearing a suit, and followed him.

At the reception, the normal dancing and alcohol-related hilarity ensued. The highlight was near the end of the night, when someone told the DJ that one of the guests danced a mean version of Micheal Jackson's Thriller. Well, the guy was reluctant but a little tipsy and probably quite confident in his dancing abilities, so he agreed to do it. He wasn't alone though, a four year old girl accompanied him. She actually did a very good job of mimicking him. All in all, it was the best rendition of Thriller that I've ever seen a drunk guy and a four year old perform. They were both quite good. Unfortunately, I don't have the video, so this will have to do. Youtube, it's a good thing.

I love dancing like no one's watching, I'm all for doing it at weddings, mostly because that's the only place people will do it. Well, weddings and IBar in Orlando, but that's a whole other post.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

She's Here

May I present to you Lady Eleanore Stole in all her entrelac and fringed glory.

Despite my best efforts, puppy managed to sneak into this photo. He's the Photo Ninja. See his tail behind the chair? He's at his watchpost, sitting on my computer and staring out the only window in the house that overlooks a sidewalk. Someone's gotta spy on the neighbors. But enough about the cuddliest guy I know.

LE, as I affectionately call her, took only 7 - 3/4 balls of yarn. And she grew during blocking, despite the fact that I didn't pin her. I didn't pin because I thought she was the perfect size already, but apparently the friction with the carpet was enough to stretch it out, and it was too long for the smooth blocking board. Before blocking she was 70 inches long (5 foot 10 inches) and after she was 76 (6 foot 4 inches). It grew in width as well, from 21 inches to 22. Next time, I'll use the old plastic shower curtain that's currently packed in a box.

Ignore the terrible picture. As I said, it's is the perfect size. I was able to use it like a blanket on the drive out to Middle of Nowhere, Florida for a wedding last weekend (knitting and stories about the best rendition of Thriller ever performed by a drunk guy and a 4 year old will are to come). I also use it at work, where they thought it was a blanket. It's comfy enough that it feels like one, as it covers the top of my arms and my lap.

It is very soft after being washed in hair conditioner and fabric softener. I keep fondling it, which seems to intrigue my coworkers. The recommended yarn for this project is La Lana, which has a market value of $330 (15 balls at $22 per ball). One hundred or so dollars for Noro doesn't seem so bad to the hubby now, does it? The Noro Silk Garden is great for this pattern, and the variegation is absolutely beautiful. Plus, pure wool would've been too heavy for regular use here in the Sunshine State, and the silk-mohair blend is so squishably soft and really pet-able.

Monday, October 8, 2007

She's Coming...

My Lady Eleanore Entrelac Stole is blocking right now. I feel like I just put the kiddies to bed and now I can play online. Look how sweet it is while it's resting:

This wrap is absolutely gorgeous in Noro Silk Garden. This was my first time using Noro, and my first time spending a good amount of money on something for me. I'm a little disappointed at the number of breaks in the yarn, with an average of about one per ball, and as many as five.

I really like the colors, even though they came out darker and more rustic than I planned. It doesn't seem like this will be fancy enough to wear to the wedding I've been making it for. Doesn't seem like it will be necessary either, as it's supposed to be 85 degrees in Tampa this weekend, not exactly wool-blend-stole weather. Here's what it looks like in natural light:

I made it a little bit bigger than I needed it to be. I want it to be able to wrap around me. It is now the second scarf that I have made that is bigger than me, but that's not really hard to do, as my pal Donna pointed out (still love ya chica). I do come in just under 5 feet, and unless I hit a random growth spurt in my mid-20's that's not changing.

Also, I think I'm being watched. I didn't tell the dog to get in this picture, he just sneaks in. But he does add some cuteness.

The fringe comes after the blocking. I've washed it in fabric softener and hair conditioner which sill supposedly soften the Noro up a bit. This is the first tip I've gotten off of Ravelry.

Yeah, I finally got my invite, and I was so excited to get on, I really didn't think carefully about my screen name. Unfortunately, LittleKnittingNinja was too many characters, and I couldn't find another combination of Knit and Ninja that was available, and somehow I ended up with the screen name KnitPirate. I don't like it at all.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

It Won't Fit

It's one of the dangers of being adventurous and jumping in with both feet. My second project ever didn't fit.

It was the Kittyville hat from Stitch n' Bitch. Made out of Lionbrand Woolease, so even if it had fit, it would've been too itchy to wear. Mmmm, fuzzy acrylic. Is it obvious that at this point in my knitting career I had never been into a real yarn shop?

But I digress. The real tragedy here is that since I failed to properly use a gauge swatch, the hat came out too small for my head. Notice that I said "failed to properly use" instead of "failed to make". I knit a swatch. Part of me knew that I needed to swatch, especially because I didn't use the recommended yarn. I think my swatch was within one or two stitches of the pattern gauge, and I figured that would be good enough. Knit wear is stretchy and most hats fit most heads, right?

WARNING: Shocking Images are contained in the following segment, and may not be suitable for some viewers, such as children and people who slave over knitwear.

In addition to the fit problems, my hat is scarred. I added one of the cat ears, and realized that I would wear the hat much more if it didn't have cat ears. So I did just about the stupidest thing I have ever done and I took scissors to the hat. I was definitely fearless as I was clueless. At this point, I wasn't able to recognize what was ear and what was hat, and I cut a few holes right in the hat. I also wasn't familiar with how to darn knit fabric, so I took some of the leftover scratchy, fuzzy yarn and knotted it and wove it through the holed until I was sure it wouldn't unravel on me. The result is a very noticeable line of knots, extra yarn, and small holes. Here's the aftermath of the botched ear removal surgery.

The holes are obvious next to my dark hair. It's hard to see, but the stitches near the hole are also skewed.

These graphic images are not meant to shock you, but rather to illustrate the dangers of reckless cutting. And always swatch up before you start a new project.

And please, never drink and knit. Well, that's another post.