What’s come over me? Whoo! Here it comes again!

March 22, 2011 § 11 Comments

Warning: this post contains a thorough bitching-out of a pattern. on the plus side, shawl pictures!

The trouble with resolving to wait with blogging until something has happened is that knitting is such a slow type of magic that sometimes it takes forever for something blogworthy to happen. Especially with lace, the progress feels huge but it would have been perfectly tedious to constantly update you with pictures like this one:

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No, really guys! I totally just finished another repeat of the badly-charted Print o’ the Wave!

But the miracle has happened: today is not only the second day of spring, but also the day I finished my Spanish Armada Shawl (aka Fear and Surprise, Surprise and Fear). It was the first thing cast on in 2011, it’s given me tons and tons of grief over the course of the last three months, and after a week and a half of hair-raising, paranoid border knitting that drove me to the brink of insanity, it’s DONE.

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I’ll be blocking it tomorrow, and preliminary, cursory pinning experiments suggest that it’s just barely small enough to be blocked on my 1.20 m (4′) wide bed. I can’t wait! But at the same time I’m extremely glad I have my aluminum rods for blocking, because bending over for an hour to individually pin down all those scallops (on four sides no less) isn’t exactly my idea of a fun day, if you catch my drift.

I’ll hopefully be posting beauty shots of the blocked shawl tomorrow or the day after, so let me voice my nagging here and now:

The finished shawl is gorgeous. Truly stunning, a joy to look at and touch and fawn over. It is, however, not remotely as fun to knit. In fact I’d rather pull my own teeth out than knit this, or any other pattern by MMario again. This is not because the different patterns that make up this shawl (Spanish Tile, Print o’ The Wave, English Mesh Lace) are particularly challenging, although the Spanish Tile is certainly a smidge tricky at times, mostly because it patterns on each row.

The problem with this shawl isn’t construction errors, or tons of misprints in the pattern. It’s the terrible, terrible charts. If you can even call them that. I realize I’m being harsh, and I’m sure the author has put a lot of effort into this design. I know charts can be tricky, especially if the beginning of a repeat shifts, like with Print o’ the Wave.

But here’s the thing: to me, as a knitter, the main purpose and the biggest advantage of charts is that they show what the knitting is supposed to look like. How everything lines up. How it all fits together to make a congruent whole. To enable me to spot knitting errors at a glance and to spare me the frantic re-counting and wondering if what I’m doing is right or if I have to tink back the entire 800-stitch row.

And these “charts” don’t. Or rather, the last two of them do, and the one I did was a simple 6-stitch two-row mesh lace, and, yeah,  I could’ve done that from written directions. The rest is just basically the written instructions rendered in symbols, including brackets to indicate things like (k2tog, yo, k1) 3x – although the author substitutes k2tog with N in the written directions for apparently no reason at all, and yo with O. (At least that one got a laugh out of me, because there’s tons of KOK in the pattern and I let myself be immature enough to grin at that.) Also, rows that are knit plain aren’t shown, except when they are, and if you’re anything like me and pay much more attention to the actual rows than the row numbers, that means tinking back a perfectly executed lace row because there’s supposed to be another two plain rounds in there somewhere.

My point being, the charts manage to completely miss the entire point of charts, which is probably an achievement in and of itself.

The Spanish Tile being tricky to chart I can understand, because the stitch count fluctuates hugely between rows and it would probably ridiculously complicated to get that into a coherent chart. But the botched Print o’ the Wave chart? Really? Seriously? Chart-making isn’t that hard. Especially for a pattern that’s been done about thirty zillion times since the dawn of time, where you could go and look at somebody else’s chart to see how they did it. As, by the way, evidenced in the exponentially better edging chart by Utlinde, where it suddenly all makes sense and is easy to commit to memory.

I’d love to rate this in Ravelry, but I honestly have no idea which criteria to use. Is the result gorgeous? You bet it is. Even if I threw off the ratio a bit by making the Print o’ the Wave longer, which wedges a relatively narrow piece of English lace between that and the edging, but I can deal with it and it’s my own fault anyway. But the charts are catastrophically bad, to a point where I’d rate it somewhere in the ‘pretty difficult’ range but then again the patterns themselves aren’t difficult per se, but just, y’know, badly charted.

So that’s that. Spanish Armada, baby.

***
In related news, I turned 22 recently and among other things got amazing handmade gifts from Annelie. She sewed me a fleece-lined green cowl that I’m sad to probably have to put away until fall – the weather has been absolutely stunning – but the best thing ever is the knitting bag she made me. I’ve been using it for Armada, but I’ll certainly get a lot of wear out of it.

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It’s such a clever design: one short handle you can twist, and a long one to stick through the loop. Snag-free due to a pronounced absence of zippers and buttons, reversible (the inside is plain green to match the cowl!), and just the right size for a shawl or scarf project, or maybe half a sweater depending on the yarn.

I’ll be casting on an orange scarf for choir once I’m finished blogging, so that’ll go nicely with the green. This bag shares the title of best birthday present ever with the pie dish I got from Saskia. Looks like I’m up for the Housewife Awards again this year.

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Un amante de lujo

January 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

Now, while I’m pretty much rocking the Sherlook…

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I’m also quite sure he wouldn’t be caught dead with this addition to his wardrobe.

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Now, in my men’s dress shirt and my waistcoat, off to Annelie to spin with freshly-baked digestive cookies in my bag :D

und meinen Chocolate Chip Cookies kann keine widersteh’n

December 3, 2010 § 3 Comments

I know that many, like me, are constantly searching for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. I myself have at least six vastly different recipes in my recipe folder, including Triple Threat Hot Chocolate Chip Cookies, one proclaiming to be the Softest CCC ever… but I think I’ve finally found… The Recipe. The One.

It’s The Brown Eyed Baker’s Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies. Oh my.

These are the chocolate chip cookies I’ve been dreaming of all my life – thick, chewy in the middle, crisp on the outside, too large to dunk into milk unless you break them in two… simply divine.

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And now, excuse me. I’m gonna go shackle myself to the bed so I don’t eat them all at once.

Money, fame and fortune never could compete

November 29, 2010 § 4 Comments

Playing with my Macbook, I discovered that uploading my photos from my camera and uploading them to Flickrs was easier than ever, so here’s a long-overdue picture post!

I shall start with today, proceed reverse-chronologically, and illustrate (quite literally) some random items along the way. Yay!

Anyway, this weekend is Thanksgiving weekend as well as the first Advent Sunday, so I decided to throw a Thanksgiving dinner. I might have overdone it slightly…

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… keep in mind that this is for four people! Although somehow, miraculously, we have a surprisingly low amount of leftovers. What was on the menu? Rosemary goose (mostly following these instructions), Burgundy Mushrooms, Thanksgiving Mashed Potatoes, Sweet Potato Casserole, Buttermilk Biscuits, Cornbread Stuffing, Creamed Corn, Pumpkin Pie, Hard Sauce, and I think that was it. It was beyond awesome, and totally worth the spending two days in the kitchen.

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After dinner, we took a walk along the canal to aid digestion. It’s been cold here the last couple of days, and it’s even snowed – it feels kind of early for snow, but then again, I keep forgetting it’s almost December. Oh, wait, I don’t forget that: I purposefully push it out of my mind. Oh god.

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Incidentally, this was the first time I wore my Vespergyle mitts outside! The right mitten hasn’t been steamed yet and it shows a little if you know what you’re looking for, but I’m absolutely enamored with these mittens: big enough to fit my hands, comfy, Argyle… lovely, just lovely.

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Anyway, the pumpkin pie with hard sauce was kind of the highlight of my evening. Lovely stuff. I really like this photo for some reason.

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In other, less gluttony-induced news, I’ve been spinning! That’s 50g of New Zealand Lamb, dyed by Sandy at Alles Handgemacht, bought at the Bunter November event at the Strickcafé. I bought a bunch of stuff, including two skeins of BFL yarn and some red laceweight, but the thing I love most is this gorgeous 150g skein of merino from Handgefaerbt.com:

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I kid you not, it’s the most beautiful yarn I’ve ever seen. I don’t know how it’ll look knit up, but it’s rich, and subtle, and earthy, and vivid, and soft, and brilliant, and just so, so gorgeous! In every stage of winding, too, which is something I see rarely:

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It’s one of these yarns I’m not sure I’ll ever knit up, because it’s so hard to live up to something that gorgeous.

So, yeah. In other words: nothing new in my corner of the Land of Knitting. I’m trudging along on my Christmas project and getting my instant gratification through cooking and baking. (Two days of cooking are instant gratification?! Somebody help me!)

How far this bad wild child’s gonna go

September 14, 2010 § 3 Comments

Sometimes, just sometimes, I kind of realize that it would be much more beneficial to my weight if my preferred method of procrastination wasn’t baking.

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Batch of a new recipe for Quiche Lorraine Scones, huge (as per usual) batch of Hot Chocolate Chip Cookies, the best damn cookies ever. The only thing more chocolatey are the Quintuple Chocolate Brownies.

Days to paper deadline: Six.

This is gonna end in tears and/or a baking orgy of post-Denny Izzie proportions.

Can music save your mortal soul?

September 7, 2010 § 2 Comments

I’ve considered a dozen different captions with witty references to Supernatural, or a certain series of high school/college movies, or Don McLean, but really…

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… whatever I say, it can’t even come close to this freaking amazing, perfect, brilliant apple pie I made today.

I’ll have you know I’m glad to be back

August 10, 2010 § 4 Comments

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After a five-hour drive, I’m back, I’m back, I’m back in Leipzig. Cut loose from the noose and all that, and I’ve never been more relieved to see these green walls of mine. I’ve already done laundry and photographed my knitting and made myself a Southern Comfort with lemonade, and I’m enjoying the quiet of a flat that has just me in it. And the dog. And my freshly laundered, newly fluffy rugs. I could write about those some more (cause they’re fairly exciting, all white instead of greyish, except for that pink spot on one of them), but I’m also pretty sure y’all would prefer some knitty photos to my yabbering about rugs.

Even if they’re pretty rugs.

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These are the old new socks, the ones I have finished and one of which my mother has already messed with. Or rather the velcro on her shoes. The little standy-uppy tuft is annoying, but I’m kind of hoping it’ll vanish with washing, so there’s that. Either way, they’re Zitron Trekking HandArt experimental tweed yarn, on 2.25mm Knitpicks, pattern is Blueberry Waffle Socks by Sandy Turner. Quick, entertaining, I’ll have to wait and see how they hold up in shoes but very comfy nonetheless.

However, adding another pair of socks to my already vast collection means my new sock box is also becoming very full very fast.

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Maybe I should retire some of the older, thinned-out socks to a bag or something so I can go on knitting new ones. Not yet though, Christmas is coming after all and I’m almost certain most of the socks I’ll be knitting in the near future won’t be for me. (I have one pair planned for Saskia already. Gosh, I’m excited for those, even though my knitting time on them will be restricted to when she’s not there.)

Speaking of new socks, the socks I started yesterday? Are kind of gorgeous, even if I just only finished the first half-repeat.

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It’s new Zitron Trekking XXL from a line called Salz und Pfeffer (salt and pepper), color 436 (I love it when they have romantic names), and I’m pretty enchanted with the way it totally looks like grass, or fresh minced herbs, or any other sort of springy-summery nature stuff.

And now, and believe me when I say I wish I had it blocked, but that’s gonna have to wait until at least tomorrow… the thistle shawl.

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My brain can’t wait to block it, but my back is already groaning.

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