Ay, macarena

April 28, 2011 § 2 Comments

I don’t know what it is with this week, but knitting-wise, it’s been pretty meh. I have a Baby Surprise Jacket that I just need to sew together; I have a heart hat that somehow doesn’t work and I have a sinking feeling it’s not the pattern; I frogged my Sherlock scarf that I didn’t even take pictures of because the pattern and the yarn didn’t work together after all; I have a sort of awesome project going on that’s all hush-hush and classified information, so I can’t randomly post pictures and be excited about it.

I did, however, watch Annelie steek an Icelandic cardigan last night, which was more than a little insane. I have it here, in all its ‘holy mother of crap AND THEN SHE TOOK SCISSORS TO IT’ glory, so that Annelie could take a day off to breathe without being tempted to just get it over with. I dare not move it for fear I could destroy something (the one stitch I was coerced into cutting ended up being cut wonkily. so much for my steeking prowess), but here’s a picture of the pretty, pretty color. In situ.

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The bag it’s in, by the way, is my super-awesome Ravelry bag I got the other week. I’d ordered one for Saskia and one for myself, along with some stickers, and I’m pleasantly surprised at the fact that you can indeed stuff a whole, rather bulky sweater in there.

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Also, now I can finally tell my calender and my diary apart at a single glance. It’s scary how many times I’ve accidentally tried and packed my journal only to discover my horrendous mistake when I wanted to check my schedule or what I’m supposed to be doing or the million other things I put down in my calender. Because I’m lost without the damn thing. Especially in this semester of frantically running around the city like a chicken with its head cut off.

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So that’s what I’m posting now, instead of the super-secret project I’d much rather like to show off. Not that there’s tons to show off, but. I have a good feeling it’s gonna be totally awesome.

SPEAKING OF WHICH. I have no idea if there are any Gleeks who read this, but if there are, I hope y’all like Blaine. Cause look what I got the day before my Ravrav package arrived — what a week that was!

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Now I just need a blue blazer. After I finish the super-sekkrit project, that is. And finish the bazillion other things I have going on.

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Hey Ashurbanipal, I’m a Mesopotamian!

February 13, 2011 § 6 Comments

Entirely expectedly, I got a lot of knitting done in the crunch phase of my finals, with the whole refusing more than an absolute minimum for Spanish (I passed the oral! Abysmally, but I passed! Yesss.) and general procrastination.

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(The day before my oral, Saskia and I went down to the canal and sat in the sun for an hour. What a perfect day.)

Incredibly, I’m down to one project. Well, three. Well, technically four, but the Dalek vest has been hibernating for so long and it looks like that’s not gonna change anytime soon, so. (well, four things and a lizard.)

Anyway: the Thermal sweater is finished! Done! All sewn up pretty and with buttons and a little ‘handmade’ tag in the back of the neck. I’ve already worn it to choir, literally fifteen minutes after cutting the last thread, and I’m pretty enchanted by the whole thing.

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(Thermal by Laura Chau, 3mm needles, just shy of 600 g of Zitron Trekking XXL)

I’m proud to report that the sleeves are NOT too long, for once. It seems I’ve finally learned my lesson? Or maybe it was just a fluke. Who knows.

Re: the sleeves though, I don’t know if it was the fact that I had to fudge the sleeve cap a little (I increased to 106 instead of 112), or that my sweater is generally a tad less fitted than the one on the model, but the tops of the sleeve caps were VERY boxy. Very angular. To the point where they stuck out and just looked stupid. I fixed that by sewing the seam in a diagonal line over the last 16 rows or so. The downside of that is that now there’s four little triangles inside the sweater, but they’re not noticeable from the outside, and they haven’t been a problem yet.

More photos (and close-ups of the uber-cute little buttons) when I come back from Berlin next weekend or so, in the hope that I’ll catch some good natural light at some point. It’s been overcast, and that always screws with red colors.

Also, guess what became of the handspun?

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A Hitchhiker! It knit up really quickly on 4 mm needles, and I’m still very charmed by the construction. Alas, I did not get 42 spikes, but the fact that they’re much more pronounced and dramatic than in the sock-weight version more than makes up for it.

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The best thing is that it worked out perfectly. I finished on the last row of a spike without a single yard left over; there were two 2-inch pieces that I cut after weaving in the ends, but that was it. A very, very gratifying knit. Calmed me down immensely in the last couple of minutes before my Spanish oral.

Also, I’ve figured out what’s wrong with my Spanish Armada – I’m missing three stitches on each side. Very, very strange. Rather worrying, actually, but I think I’ll just fudge it with another row and a sneaky increase somewhere in the middle. I’m so confused though why 3 and not 2 or 4. Those I could have explained, but three is indeed very bemusing.

Book rec for this week: Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”! I’d never read it before, but I’d resolved to include as many classics I’ve always wanted to read but never got around to buying in my 52 in 52 project as I could. And in the case of Jekyll and Hyde, it was definitely worth the, oh, €2.50 I splurged on the Dover Thrift Edition. And, uh, it’s much better than that just sounded. It reminded me a lot of Dorian Gray, actually, which isn’t all that surprising, considering they’re both Victorian novels dealing with the strange rift in their society, between virtue and vice, between public and private. It was terribly captivating, a gripping read that had some places where I literally recoiled in horror – perfect, really, for a nice rainy afternoon. It’s under 50 pages too, but it’s packed with mystery and thrill. I loved it.

It’s also narrated from an outside perspective, which surprised me: I’d always assumed it was going to be following Jekyll rather closely, but it didn’t at all until the very last chapter, which of course elevates the mystery a good deal more. You literally don’t know what the hell is going on until the last couple of pages. It must have been so endlessly shocking to Victorians reading it as a fresh story, a fresh idea, without any kind of foreknowledge. All in all, a book definitely worth reading. I might tackle Treasure Island too this year, I really liked Stevenson’s style.

Next week I’ll spend four days in Berlin with Saskia. We’ll be visiting at least two yarn shops, one button shop and four museums, and I hope we’ll not be too tired to see a silent movie on Wednesday evening. I’ve already cast on a sock to drag everywhere and photograph; also I’ve been saving the new Thursday Next novel for the train ride. I can’t wait!

All I want to do is be more like me

February 1, 2011 § 3 Comments

Now that I’m back on the knitting horse, so to speak, it seems I can’t stop blogging about it.

Seriously, it’s kind of insane how good it feels to start something new, something exciting, something quick. I’m making very good use of my birthday present to Saskia (Cookie A’s ‘Sock Innovation’) and am halfway done with my first Kai-Mei. Or Kei-Mai. Or Mai-Tai. Or… something. I’m almost getting a head rush from the speed. The yarn feels a little thicker than your average sock yarn, which made the leg zoom by extra fast. 66 stitches to a round… paradise.

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I swear, the yarn’s a lot less neon than it looks in this picture. It’s still cheerful though, and works great with the (pretty, inventive, just damn clever) pattern. So. Clever. I’m more and more in awe of Cookie A.; this is the first time I’m knitting one of her socks after two years of admiring them from afar, and I have nothing to complain about at all. Clear chart, solid instructions, unusual but not mindboggling construction, even a photo of the sock worked in a variegated yarn in addition to the solid version.

News of my big projects… oh, phooey. The only big projects I’m touching these days are Watson and Girl Friday, and that’s only because they’re finished and amazing. I rocked my complete Watson outfit again today, plaid shirt and all.

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Oh, Watson… I made the sleeves a bit too long. I keep doing that, by the way. I think I’m just so excited by the fact that I can make sleeves as long as I want, that I can make sleeves that won’t be too short for my (according to the fashion industry) freakishly long arms, that I get kind of carried away every freaking time. With Girl Friday, I redid the cuffs and shortened them and I can still fold over the entire cuffs and have them be long enough.

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With Watson, it’s not quite as bad. I mean, yes, I can still fold over the entire cuff, but the cuffs are a lot shorter than the Girl Friday ones. I’m not sure what I should do about it. I mean, technically, I’m already well-versed in the fiddly art of removing the cuffs, picking up the stitches and reknitting it. I’m still debating whether I will, though. Maybe I’ll snip off the cuff, remove one repeat or so of the sleeve pattern, and graft the old cuff back on. (Even though that would require me to fudge it by a couple of stitches, so it might not be the best method. On the other hand, the cuff wouldn’t be offset by half a stitch.)

Or maybe I’ll just leave it like this. I’ll have to mull it over a bit, but I’m painfully aware I can’t put it off too long. Eventually the stitches will be fulled together as it is, I can’t even imagine doing it after a couple of months. That’s the drawback of Lopi, really.

No deep thoughts, this time, I’m sorry to say. Saskia and I randomly read Oscar Wilde out loud last night, but the thing that’s stuck most in my my mind is the crowning sentence of my translation homework that (unintentionally) set everyone off giggling.

“The heating ducts are everywhere.”

Daleks? Aim for the eyestalk. Sontarans? Back of the neck. Heating ducts? Run.

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

Perfectly sound analysis

January 25, 2011 § 6 Comments

I was in a bit of a knitting frenzy last night, because the end was nigh… and lo and behold, at 1 am I put away my sewing needle, cut off the last thread, and held in my hands my magnificent, gorgeous, amazing Watson sweater.

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I don’t feel any need to mince my words, since I’m ridiculously proud of the thing and will continue to be so in the future.

I didn’t really use the pattern that’s up on Ravelry – the lovely authors of that one are amazing in their own right and I referred to the pattern when it came to the shoulder short rows and the neck, but ultimately, we came up with our charts at the same time. Mine is more faithful to and more independent from the original at once: my chevrons are reverse stockinette like in the original, but I mirrored my cables so they wouldn’t all go in the same direction. Also, my yarn only bears a passing resemblance to the one used in the original in that they’re both yarns and they’re both undyed (but in different shades and of varying fuzziness).

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All in all, now I have a complete Watson outfit and a complete Sherlock outfit (well, except for the scarf), and what’s more, I totally rock. Because I created it from a picture, and it fits me perfectly, and I’m wearing it right now with a checkered shirt and jeans, while Saskia is getting ready in her room in her aubergine shirt with a black waistcoat and blazer.

I think we’ll raise the surveillance level to three. – Of whom? – Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson.

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life

December 14, 2010 § 1 Comment

Today, for the first time in my life, I’ve applied something I learned in 5th grade that I found, up until this day, to be remarkably useless. This may be due to the fact that the novelty of winter and being shut indoors all day is slowly but steadily starting to wear off, or that I’m procrastinating, or that I’m afraid I’ll make a total prat out of myself today.

I have a sinking feeling making a prat out of myself will be kind of unavoidable today. Not that I don’t do this on a regular basis, and usually voluntarily too. I’m a person who’s not in the least afraid to burst into song while walking through crowded streets, especially not around Christmas, when I can’t seem to step outside my door without starting to hum some carol.

And yet, personal interaction with semi-strangers continues to terrify me. Which is why I cannot for the life of me figure out what I was thinking when I contacted a girl from my Spanish class asking whether we could meet up, speak some Spanish, to cure me of my crippling inability to formulate a coherent Spanish sentence when I have to do so in front of my class.

The problem is a) my crippling inability to formulate a coherent Spanish sentence in front of strangers, b) that the first time I saw her, I wanted to grab her and furiously make out with her, and c) that I’ve been procrastinating all day, so my room looks like my stash exploded and my muffins are nowhere near existing, and d) I have no idea what to talk about with a stranger. I’m terrible at small talk in German, okay at it in English, and have never attempted it in Spanish, which makes me assume I’m terrible at it.

(I don’t know where my Spanish-related pessimism stems from. I think it might be in part from the fact that I went from upper third of the class to lowest of the low, due to this course mostly being taken by students who’ve spent time abroad. The other thing might be that I’m supposed to be on the level I officially had in English after I finished high school. The problem is that my English was vastly better than B2 even before I went to the US (in 11th grade), and I keep forgetting this, so I feel like my Spanish has to be as good as my English after this semester. Which, to put it mildly, is a slightly insurmountable feat. Also I keep forgetting that I’ve been studying English for 11 years.)

So I made a mind map. Which, for the record, I don’t think I’ve done since 6th grade, and never voluntarily.

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So, basically… I might resort to orchestrating the inevitable ‘my… you sure have a lot of yarn’ moment earlier than the natural progression.

I might not know when to utilize the subjuntivo, or how to conjugate many of the irregular verbs especially in subjuntivo – but I can tell you, without any subjuntivo-inducing uncertainty, that I can totally monologue on knitting for a while.

And if all else fails, I’ll just get her drunk on mulled wine and make out with her.

… and it’s gonna be totally awesome

November 24, 2010 § 9 Comments

I haven’t been posting; I think it’s mostly due to the fact that I got a new paper journal that I love writing in – yet another Moleskine. The third over a relatively short time. Used to be that I thought they were pretentious, now I appreciate their simplistic design and rounded corners.

Speaking of rounded corners. Last night, my old laptop broke, which was a kind of a shame and kind of a relief. I liked Graham, I really did, but I’d had nothing but trouble with him in the last months – freezing, especially, and overheating, and freezing some more, and more random shit that was just annoying. Then last night, he wouldn’t recognize the fact that he was plugged in. I tried the usual – pull the plug out, stick it back in, thump it on the back – nothing.

So I rather hysterically backed everything important up onto my external harddrive, transferred some money, and bought a Macbook today. The Macbook I’ve been planning on for… a while. Ever since summer, I guess, since Graham started acting up more and more.

I was a bit afraid of the Big Bad Apple, but so far I’m loving it. It’s friendly, it’s streamlined, it’s simplistic. I’m sure I’ll encounter some problems at some point, but right now, I’m very much charmed. Oscar (i.e. the Macbook) isn’t quite as big as Graham, which might put a damper on watching movies, but seriously… if that’s all I have to complain about, I’ll take that any day.

Status updates on the Frantic Christmas Knitting: 30 days to go, Girl Friday halfway done, Henry around 60 %. I’d post pictures but it’s at a point where it just looks… more of the same, basically. Which isn’t very exciting as photos go. (Also I don’t have anything on this computer yet.)

Cute knitting-related anecdote: One of my classmates was wearing this stylish beret, so I asked here where she got it. Her answer? Ravelry! So Saskia and I squeed a bit, and started chatting about knitting, and the pattern (Meret/Mystery Beret by Wooly Wormhead, by the way), and yarn, and the whole shebang. It was nice, having a little outpost of normality in the ‘real world’. The Bunter November yarn market (the little brother of the Wollefest each May) was, of course, right on the mainland of the Wondrous Land of Knitting, and I spent a couple of hours deliriously petting yarn, knitting and chatting with people I knew from Ravelry or the Strickcafé or didn’t know at all, at least not their faces (hallo, Jana!).

Why I never posted about this? Well, of course I’d forgotten my camera (figures), and I just haven’t felt like posting yarn porn. Shocking, I know. I’ll post ’em one of these days, when I’ve figured out whether Oscar is compatible with Bobby the External Harddrive. But first, Glee.

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