Sunday, 30 December 2007

Final FOs of 2007

I got my knitting mojo back at the last minute this holiday season and cranked out a few last minute gifts.

Up first is Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's one row scarf, knit in the familiar Noro Kureyon, colourway 157. I think I finally accepted that it was going to be a long time before I bought the 14 additional skeins necessary for a Lizard Ridge. Maybe I'll get back to that...sometime in 2009.

Yarn: Noro
Skeins: 2 + a bit of a third
Needle Size: 4.5mm
Firsts: Not a one. This is not exactly a challenging knit, though it is a nice variation on the typical ribbed scarf.

Up next: Wisp. Yes, at long last, I finished the damn thing. It only took an hour or so from when I tackled the mess I created back in August. I had to be very zen when dealing with all the torn threads. Wine probably helped.

I got bored of pinning it and took a photo halfway through blocking. Seriously, there are fruit flies with longer attention spans than me. As you can see, it's about the length of a full-size ironing board. As you probably can't see, what with my gift for shaking the camera, is how pretty the simple fishnet lace pattern is with the Kidsilk Haze. Now that I know one must cast off very loosely, I'll probably make another one. Especially since I was planning on making this for me and ended up needing it for a last-minute gift.

Yarn: Rowan Kidsilk Haze, Colour Liqueur
Skeins: Only 1. It's almost a budget scarf!
Needles: 4.5mm
Firsts: You know, I started this so long ago that I don't even remember. I think it was my first time using anything below a DK.

And last, I sewed in the ends of the Clapotis that's been done for months and blocked it. Here it is, blocking with the scarf:

I locked my mom out of her own bedroom and blocked it the day before Christmas. Procrastinator? Me? Strangely, my mom also has crap lighting in her house. It seems to run in the family.

And here it is on me, in my attempt at a flash-in-the-mirror type shot. The only reason I'm including it is to show off my kicky new shorter hair.

Yarn used: Araucania Atacama. No idea what colourway.
Skeins: About 5. There is no dye lot with these, so I would frequently discover that one skein was much darker and switch to a different one. Gorgeous wool, but I think I'll be sticking to one skein projects with my remaining skeins.
First: Deliberately dropped stitches. I only panicked for the first ones.

And that should round out 2007. I currently have two cardigans and one jumper on the needles, so I'm hoping to be a bit more productive in 2008. I'm also probably going to be switching blogs. It occurs to me that I still need a place to babble on about knitting, and I plan to have a much less crazy life sometime after May. Sure, it's five months off still, but I'll take what I can get. Um, point. Yes, I'll be switching, because I've been working with Wordpress so much for Pop Vultures that it feels far more comfortable than Blogger to me. I've been knitting a year now; why not graduate to a new blog? I'll post about it when it's ready.

Secret Pal Wrap Up

Why, yes, this IS a post. A terribly delayed post, but I am determined to get all caught up before the first of January. Since that's only 2 days away, and I plan to spend at least part of tomorrow heavily intoxicated, I figured I should start now.

First, there is Secret Pal business to take care of. This exchange was great for me, with fabulous upstream and downstream pals. I really lucked out this time around. Even so, I plan to take a break from such exchanges for a while. I just don't have the time (hence the very late thank you post -- sorry, Agua!).

My upstream pal was awesome from start to finish. After that first generous stash of yarn, she sent me this:

That's a handmade Branching Out, and it's gorgeous. It inspired me to make one of my own.

And, in case that wasn't enough, she also included lots of chocolate which I gobbled up within minutes of opening the package. The final package looked something like this:

Yep, that's loads MORE yarn. There were two skeins of the gorgeous variegated pink one, but the second skein was already on the needles when I took this photo. I tried making a My So-Called Scarf from it, but the colours pooled a bit at the width I'd chosen, so I will try again and photograph that later.

Thank you again, Agua. You really were a wonderful secret pal.

As for me, I finally got everything sent off to my own pal, including one actual, honest-to-god FO. I wanted to present everything in a nice knitting bag, but they were all either crazy expensive or just plain ugly, so I decided to knit my own damn bag. Enter the Booga Bag. This was a great quick and easy project.

Post-felting (well, mostly felted):

Yarn: Noro Kureyon, Colourway 157
Amount used: 2.5 skeins
Needles used: 4.5mm
First time: felting (and it was a PAIN in the front loader, too), i-cord

It was a fun, easy, no-stress knit. Nothing challenging about it at all, but great television knitting.

I actually have three, count 'em, THREE FOs lined up for the next post. It was a Christmas knitting miracle!

Sunday, 25 November 2007

I am a terrible, horrible very bad blogger. I am sorry for the lack of updates, particularly when my Secret Pal sent me a lovely package featuring a gorgeous handknit Branching Out that really must be photographed and displayed. Unfortunately, I've been swamped with work, both the kind I get paid for, and the kind I do for fun. I'm still posting a lot on Pop Vultures, as that is my Blog Baby Sadly, it means that this blog has been even more neglected than it usually is.

It doesn't help that, by the time I get home each night, it's pitch dark outside and there is no acceptable lighting in my dark house to photograph my knitting.

I was punished for my slacking and excuse-making in a most fitting way, however. Last weekend, I received a notice from the post office that they had a package for me. Now, I'm always excited to receive mystery packages, so off I ran to the post office. Indeed, they had a brilliant package for me: seventeen skeins of red Rowan wool! Woot!

The interesting part was that I didn't order it. I had a mysterious benefactor! A yarn fairy! Could it be that my Secret Pal had taken complete leave of her senses and decided I needed £80 worth of wool? Unlikely. Had one of my friends taken pity on my permanent state of poverty and sent me a care package? Doubtful. There was no note, no card, was a mystery.

I briefly considered just leaving it as is, since it seemed my donor meant to be anonymous, but it was far too generous a gift to be unacknowledged. I phoned up Get Knitted, who'd sent the package, and asked if they could at least give me a hint where it had come from. They, unfortunately, had no idea.

I was passed to the next person in the customer service hierarchy. They were fairly convinced I'd bought it myself. Although the idea of a yarn shopping blackout appeals, as it would certainly absolve the shopper of any guilt, I was certain that was not the case here. So I was passed along again, and again, until at last the truth was revealed.

It wasn't my yarn.

They'd made a mistake. I had no yarn fairy, after all. In fact, they would be sending a return envelope and would I please post it back to them? With a last, longing look at the gorgeous red wool that would never be mine, I reluctantly agreed. Easy come, easy go.

I could have used it for some Christmas knitting, too, but that should be another post. One I will hopefully write sometime before the end of the year.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007


You know how my last post said I was up to something slightly secret? Well, the secret is out.

I've been hard at work on a new pop cultures blog. Pop Vultures has landed. It's full of all kinds of television and film news and analysis, and so far people seem to like it a lot. I didn't even pay all of them to say that.

I'm not sure what that will mean for the future of this blog. I already haven't been using it as much as I intended to, and right now my free time is tied up in making PV a success. I'll definitely be seeing this one through the end of SP11 and then will make a decision about what to do with it.

Until then, it's back to the holiday knitting.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

I am stuck deep in the middle of a Slightly Super Secret Internet project and have barely emerged for air in the last couple of weeks, but I must pause for one moment to say:

Secret Pal, you are WONDERFUL.

My first package arrived on Friday, and it was certainly worth the wait. Just take a look:

All that yarn! The theme was 'silk and wool', and was it ever. The green Regia (which I managed to shoot upside down) is a wool/silk blend from Germany, it looks like. The two purple skeins in the front are 100% wool, and apparently a popular Finnish brand. I can't wait to try it. The single skein of Sivilla is another Finnish yarn, a gorgeous dark purple silk/wool blend. And, finally, the piece de resistance, the white one is a hefty skein of 100% silk. I don't have a scale, but I'm guessing it's about 100g. Whatever can I make with such a luxurious yarn?

In addition, there were some lovely stitch markers (my Secret Pal must have known that I was down to using girls' hair bands in place of actual stitch markers) and very pretty Halloween candles. And, just for good measure, there was some chocolate included:

Sadly, this is only an empty wrapper. The actual chocolate didn't make it five minutes after the box was opened. It was delicious, too -- I am now a fan of Finnish chocolates.

And, if all that wasn't enough, my Secret Pal unintentionally included one more present -- a cat toy. They cannot resist the combined lure of a box and bubble wrap!

Thank you again, SP! This is an amazing, thoughtful gift. I can't wait to get started soon as I can pull myself out of the computer.

Fortunately, that shouldn't be too much longer. The secret will be out in a few more days, and then I will happily post about it here -- and have a bit more time to do some knitting!

Sunday, 30 September 2007

Knitting News

Sadly, the camera is down for my weekly post, but I dare not wait to post, lest I fail to meet the SP11 four posts a month requirement. I'm actually a bit worried that I have to try so hard to make four a month.

It's been a very slow week, as my wrist started hurting a bit last weekend. And kept hurting. I tried doing a row or two a night on Trapeze, but couldn't manage any more than that. I couldn't even mark my students' papers! Okay, that last bit wasn't so bad, but I was definitely getting worried when I went into the doctor on Friday. I could not have repetitive stress! As someone for whom knitting and computing are two primary hobbies, this was not an option.

The doctor immediately felt both wrists and figured out that one was much hotter than the other and clearly had an inflammation of some kind. Apparently, there is some complicated tendon thing whose name I already forget, and he was pretty sure I was in the early stages of that. A simple course of anti-inflammatory drugs over the next ten days should clear it up.

Fortunately, it was already feeling so much better last night that I sat down with Trapeze and promptly put it aside. I'm a bit sick of the never-ending rib at the moment, and because the pattern is written as a slow transition from 2x1 to 3x1 rib, I can't even go into auto-pilot, because I have to constantly check that I'm following the pattern. Instead, I wound an old skein of Rowanspun chunky and started swatching. A couple of hours later, I had an Urchin. It's a very clever pattern, and extremely quick. The end result was fairly rustic, but I like it. I'm not sure that it's actually flattering on me, but it was so nice to just churn out a piece of knitting in a night, rather than toil for weeks and then wait another month or two before I finally get around to weaving in the ends. It was a lovely bit of instant gratification. Photos will follow shortly.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Never enough yarn

The person who releases the technology that allows us to transmit photos directly from cameras to blogs will be a millionaire in minutes. I swear, often the only reason I delay posting is that it just seems like too much effort to dig out the camera cord, upload to iPhoto, upload to Flickr, title and move to photo sets, edit sizes, etc. No, it didn't actually take me more than ten minutes. Yes, I am whining.

This has been a decent few weeks on the knitting front. I made it into London last weekend (Avenue Q! Raunchy singing puppets! Genius!) and stopped by John Lewis. I don't know if I have mentioned before the dire state of yarn shops in my neck of the woods. West Sussex is, I fear, entirely bereft, unless you count C&H Fabrics (and I don't). Sometimes I think I named this blog Knit City in an attempt to convince myself that I don't actually live smack dab in the middle of nowhere. Well, that, and all the good puns were already taken.

Anyways, John Lewis. I was overwhelmed in minutes, even though I'm sure it still has nothing on US yarn shops. The only brands they carry are Rowan, Debbie Bliss, Louisa Harding, Noro and Sirdar, but for someone who's been limited to Internet shopping for months, it was an embarrassment of riches. I had planned on buying some Aran wool to make Snow White, but I couldn't quite bring myself to pay full price for 12-14 skeins of anything. I am ebay's bitch, I fear. I did, however, pony up the cash for a few skeins of fun yarn, as it was my birthday weekend, after all.

Once again, I must apologise for the darkness of this shot, but it was the only one that captured some of the richness of that deep red ribbon yarn. Two skeins of that will become a mini Clapotis, a perfect accent for the holiday season. The shiny copper has not yet announced what it would like to be, but I could not resist the glitter. However, I could only afford two skeins. The plan was to make a very open-weaved wrap, but I haven't found a pattern that will work for that yet. It also may end up as a decorative scarf.

Those projects must wait, however, as Trapeze is still on the needles.

Here it is, with the requisite cat tail that seems to sneak into every shot. I had some trouble with this one. I was making it in the large, but it seemed too small, so I frogged a weeks' worth of work (sob!) and started again. Unfortunately, the XL was clearly huge, so THAT got frogged and now it's back to the large, which might be a bit snug, but at least it's a rib stitch, right? It will stretch. And I'm slowly losing weight, so it might fit by the time I finish it.... Well, it was either that or swim in an XL, so I'll live in Delusionville and hope for the best.