Ooh, baby it’s cold outside

May 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

Yesterday I knit a hat and a pair of socks.

It isn’t every day you get to say that, and this absolutely instant gratification is one of the reasons I’ve been bitten by the baby bug big time. Apart from alliterations, this induces major squee from all sides and even more frantic work that’s resulted in two jacket-hat-bootees outfits that are both as heartbreakingly cute as they are quickly knit. Also, being able to squeeze a whole matching set out of one ball of yarn? Is pretty fantastic, not to mention frugal.

However, before I start showing off my super-cute baby knits at length, I’d like to say a word about casting off. (Not a tutorial though; there are people who do that far better than I ever could, e.g. TECHknitting.)

Now, I’m a relatively loose knitter, which is why it always comes as a surprise to me that I’m a fairly tight binder-offer. This surprise is usually coupled with a tedious undoing of the cast-off edge, which is why I switched to the ssk-bind-off as a standard bind-off, i.e. [k2, * insert left needle into stitches on the right needle, perform the ‘k’ part of ssk, k1, repeat from *], and I’ve never had to worry about a too-tight cast-off ever since. But last night, I came across something I didn’t think I’d ever see in my life.

A cast-off that was too loose.

I was making Saartje’s Booties, which, by the way, are the manifestation of cute – except that the first one didn’t come out quite as cute as the ones in the pictures. Which was a shame, really, because we’re after all talking about bootees that are supposed to look like this:

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Anyway, in a rare moment of maturity I decided not to blame the pattern, but instead wondered whether it was maybe my fault. And also, because these things take two hours at most to whip up, I decided that I could always make three. And it turns out that what I got was this:

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That’s the first bootee on the bottom and the second one on the top. They’re identical except for the cast-off method. It doesn’t look like that big a difference, doesn’t it? Those couple of millimeters the cast-off was looser (and looser is better, right? Right?!) should barely be visible.

Well, let me show you the two of them side-by-side.

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So, what do we learn from this, I wonder? Well, first, trust your instincts. If it looks too loose, it probably is too loose. Second, sometimes the simplest approach is the right one. And third, for  future reference: If a pattern goes to the length to specify a cast-on or cast-off, by god, listen.

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Anyway, so this is what the rest of the outfit looks like:

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That’s the BSJ I made back in March, then a Heartbreakingly Cute Pilot Cap from Knitting Outside The Lines (to keep in lines with the origami theme, albeit not with the garter stitch), and to finish it off, Saartje’s Booties (sans buttons). It’s all very plain, cute in its simplicity and clean lines (or so I like to think), and in a rather dreamy Scottish wool/linen blend I got in Berlin. I still have what feels like 25 g or so left, which is always nice.

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And that’s the other one! I’m not usually one to mix crafts – mostly because I hate crochet with a fiery passion that hasn’t abated much with work on this set, but it was totally worth it. This set’s even tri-craftual, with a bit of (very basic) embroidery thrown in just for kicks.

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Or tetra-craftual, if you count making Dorset buttons. Which, by the way, are super-fun, dirt-cheap, easy to make, always a perfect match for your yarn, and very well explained in this tutorial.

I might have mentioned the Heart Hat that gave me so much trouble – mostly because I’m a dolt who can’t read patterns – but it turned out rather well in the end, and I’m quite enchanted by it. It’s hopelessly anachronistic in its bonnet-style, but at least I didn’t make the one with the hilariously padded ruffle. (Now that I think about it, I might have to make that one though. I already pity the kids I might have someday.)

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And, of course, the wee shoesies. Those are rather ingenious, if I may say so myself – they’re mostly regular socks, except they’re knit flat (because I hate garter stitch in the round) and near- invisibly seamed up along the side.

So, yeah. It’s all slightly ridiculous and probably much too warm for the coming summer months, and by the time the weather will be appropriate, the kid will have almost certainly grown out of them. But I’ve had the pleasure of making them, and oh, what a pleasure it’s been.

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Now excuse me, I have some booties I’d like to cast on like a madwoman.

Take a look ahead

November 1, 2010 § 2 Comments

It’s not like I’m not stressed, with Christmas only 53 days away – especially since I kind of randomly decided to knit a Henry for Adam. On the plus side, I’m almost done with the backside of the Girl Friday for my sister, despite my incredible slackerdom when it comes to that thing.

I’d much rather work on Watson (also only about 15cm to go on that back), or the Thermal (started a sleeve, back done, half the front also), or my Vespergyle mittens (halfway up the thumb on the second mitt), or Saskia’s Super Secret Christmas Present (finished, booyeah! but I’m considering making matching mittens). I’m also done with the Brambles beret and scarf, even if I haven’t gotten around to wearing them. I have a feeling I’ll have to run some kind of elastic through the brim of the beret, since it’s pretty loose, but I’ll wait till after I’ve actually worn it.

In conclusion: I feel like I’m getting somewhere. Making progress. Which is important for my sanity, since uni doesn’t exactly evoke the same feeling at the moment.

Also, it’s kind of hard to get really stressed out if the foot of my bed looks like this most evenings.

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Yes, I also got my other roomie to join us on the dark side. She’s making a hat. Which she was half done with, then discovered a mistake two rows down from where she was, and subsequently… frogged the whole thing. And started over. I’m still kind of flabbergasted.

Speaking of flabbergasted. I’m making good on my resolution to go to the knitting café more, and lo and behold. I was just hanging out there on Saturday, very content indeed about just having bought truly luscious yarn for Henry,

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(Bremont Camino Alpaca, fingering weight, 60% merino, 20% alpaca, 20% nylon)

… and then Christine plunked an armful of yarn on the table in front of me. Not just any yarn. Wollmeise.

I tried, for about three hours, to discourage myself from buying one. I failed. Mostly because I didn’t really have any good arguments except for how it was kind of expensive (€17.50 for 150g, which… isn’t that bad, but not that cheap either), but then I had that exact amount in my wallet and that must’ve been a sign.

It was kind of hard to decide, because all the colors were gorgeous. No kidding. Even the ones I usually can’t stand. ALL. GORGEOUS. But I settled on this beautiful green, Grashüpfer, and my photo doesn’t do it justice.

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Also, it’s so tightly twisted that the 150g look like 100g, and you could probably bludgeon someone to death with the skein. Death by Wollmeise. There’s worse ways to go.

Roadhouse Blues

October 21, 2010 § 2 Comments

This week isn’t particularly better than the last one. Some things have improved from last week; however, other things have emerged that make me want to bang my head against the nearest available surface.

At least Andi has the early shift at Starbucks this week, so there’s a friendly face and a free extra espresso shot in the morning. I love Andi. He is my coffee god.

Also, after last week and my embarrassing whiny outburst, I’ve decided to channel my whininess into creative processes. I bet you all have a fairly good idea of what that might be. A hint: It’s not cleaning my desk, although that is long overdue, but that would mean untangling at least three skeins of sock yarn from each other. Do not want.

Instead, because today was a crappy day, I made focaccia. I always try to make some kind of yeast dough when I’m impatient and easily irritated, because it doesn’t work without letting it rest. It’s a valuable lesson. Also, I love that warm, yeasty, herb-y smell that reminds me of summer and the beach.

And then I knit a hat. A whole hat. In a day. I’m three quarters done with my Brambles scarf, so I figured I’d make the hat before finishing it. It’s not that I have project ADD,  (alright, I do have project ADD. In fact I’m two seconds away from starting an experimental Norwegian-inspired, merino-lined Alpaca hat for my father. Or… something.) – point being, I wanted to see how much yarn I’d have left over from the hat, so I could see whether or not I could make tassels for the scarf. The yarn I have is from two different lots, since I bought them almost a year apart, but the lots are reasonably close.

Which, it turns out, was a blessing, because my tassel plan kind of backfired: I actually had to use some of the scarf yarn for the last five rows or so of the hat. Oops.

Still, a cute, warm, orange hat in a day. And no tassels for the scarf.

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It’s funny, the color is incredibly hard to photograph. I played around with the settings and the lighting just now, and out of ten different photos, there’s not two that capture the shade of the yarn alike. The closest I’ve come to reality is this photo of the scarf from last week or so:

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I have no idea why I never got around to posting this before. Incidentally, it was taken the same day I took the new header photo. (Opinions on that, by the way? Good? Bad? Meh?)

Speaking of things I haven’t gotten around to showing off – the new hair! (Recognize the cardi? I knit that!)

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So, yeah. Seeing as there isn’t a demo this week to unhinge the entire public transportation system, there’s a pretty good chance I’m gonna pay the Strickcafé an overdue visit. Then Supernatural and cooking with Christian. Even if this week sucked, there’s still the weekend to look forward to. Nice job I did there on putting together my week.

Every little thing

August 19, 2010 § 5 Comments

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One of the things that continues to fascinate me about the internet is the fact that it renders me absolutely incapable of starting a thing and staying focused on working for more than an hour.

We didn’t have internet for two and a half days – the horror! The first day was because of a general system failure in the area, and while we were trying to fix our router, a switch must have flipped the wrong way… and it’s a kind of unobtrusive one, so it didn’t occur to any of us to try that one, of all things, until this afternoon. I repeat: the horror!

On the upside, my god did we get things done. I spent all of Tuesday researching for my paper, putting in a surprising number of hours of focused, efficient studying, all the while rocking the hobo look:

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The hat, by the way, is my newest FO: Scotty’s Hat (the four-panel version), from last year’s Star Trek movie. It knit up so fast I didn’t even take work-in-progress photos – two evenings watching Castle, and it was done, which is quite astonishing considering how big it is, but rather less astonishing considering it’s all garter stitch.

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It’s warm and huge and comfy, and I took it with me when Saskia and I drove the 150 km down to Morgenröthe-Rautenkranz to visit their Space Museum’s Star Trek exhibit. It was kinda cool cause they had awesome stuff there – original costumes, communicators, tricorders, phasers, ears – but it was ridiculously small. Basically, we drove two hours to spend 16 minutes in the museum (granted, we kinda ran through the rest cause neither of us is that interested in actual, real space travel). But then again, we drove through the gorgeous landscapes that is the Erzgebirge, had a truly amazing dinner at a little bistro we discovered when we decided to screw the sat-nav and follow the roadsigns.  And to top it all off, we zoomed down the highway with open windows, into the sunset. Because summer – or at least Indian summer – is back with mild weather, blue skies and fresh-smelling air, and the dreary rain seems to have been put on hold.

Still, I’m starting to get an itch in my fingers to knit warm stuff for the upcoming cold season. Hence the hat. I started another hat (Selbu Modern this time) today, and when I’ve had time to get into combination colorwork again, I’ll see how I’ll wrangle that Dalek vest I have hanging around.

Plus approaching autumn means it’s pumpkin season, which also means I’ve already made, uh… pie.

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I, uh, yeah. I realize there’s kind of no excuse for this one.

Doesn’t mean I won’t make it again. Because puns in pie-shape? Yeah.

Jaws was never my scene and I don’t like Star Wars

April 30, 2010 § 1 Comment

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Summer’s kind of starting out in full force this year, which means that my summer lag of knitting  less and lazing around in the sun more has hit early this year.

Or, you know, instead of lazing around I’ll be studying vocab and cursing the gods and my own stupidity for taking Spanish. Ah, well. Honestly, if I’d put a fraction of the work I put into uni into high school, I probably would’ve gone out of there with a 1.0 and a reputation of being no fun at all.

Either way, I do actually manage to knit, occasionally, so in the past two weeks and a half, I’ve managed to make… a hat. (Marnie McLean’s Chapeau Marnier, 3mm bamboo needles, Drachenwolle Leinen/Merino)

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And three quarters of a sock. (Tadpoles by Jenna Swanson, 2.5 and 2.25 mm DPNs, Drachenwolle)

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Aaaaand a bit of the swallowtail stole, which is coming around gorgeous and doesn’t look as 70s as the photo would make you believe.

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Making progress on the Stole, which looks more and more like this giant yellow ruffle, is sort of a tedious business: with 500+ stitches to a row, the patience and perseverance I learned on the Green Monster are coming in quite handy. So what if I need a good 20 minutes for one row? It’s practically meditation. And I am making good progress; I’m already on the second half of the Lily of the Valley charts.

Even so, striking out rows on a chart has never felt so good. Ever.

Like she’s born in black and white

March 5, 2010 § 11 Comments

I just realized I haven’t blogged in a while… but honestly, I was sure there hasn’t been a whole lot to blog about. I bake more than I knit, I spend a surprising amount of time outside enjoying the crisp, dramatic weather, and I read more gossip than anything else. But somehow, stuff has accumulated, I guess. So, here goes.

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I finished the body of my sweater last weekend – I still haven’t picked up stitches for the first arm, mostly because I’m suffering from an acute case of Startitis and Spring Fever. But, on the positive side, I finally figured out what kind of color pattern I wanted to put on the sweater – I’d debated whether to put the Fornicating Deer on the shoulder, but in the end, I decided on something far more awesome, and subtly geeky.

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A ‘salt line’ just over the ribbing. To keep out the ghosts, Winchester-style. Thirteen repeats of the word SALT around my torso, and I’ll put some around the arms, too. (It turned out to be 13 by accident. Sometimes it’s great to be a fatty. Another lucky accident was that I started charting at random, got a 16-st repeat, and apart from one single stitch, it worked out perfectly.)

The placement isn’t the most flattering, cause it’s right where my jeans pinch in, but I’m too excited by the concept to care. Plus it’s kind of negative space, so you don’t immediately see the geekery, but it’s still there.

My I’ll-just-fudge-it Shetland Triangle (shamelessly ripping off Evelyn A. Clark’s version, proof that my ingenuity and wit is worth at least $9) is also done, and already blocked while I visited two museums with Saskia the other day. Good times.

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I had to rip back one repeat at some point, because I realized I was running out of yarn, fast. Even with one repeat less, the amount I have left over is scary small.

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Apart from that, I knit myself a new washcloth today out of boredom, and when it was finished after watching ‘She’s the man’ (one of my favorite feel-good movies, even if it’s kinda girly), conveniently took a bath. I should stop knitting new washclothes whenever I need to change them. It’s not like I don’t have a bazillion in my closet and hamper already. But it’s cute. And apple-y.

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I also started a hat in some lovely fingering weight grass-green alpaca, but it turned out I cast on about 30 stitches too much. So it got ripped back before I could even think to get a picture. The plan is to make a slouchy beret with the fir cone stitch pattern, and maybe some clever in-pattern crown decreases if I can figure them out.

So, anyway. The new Grey’s Anatomy ep just finished downloading, and after I’m done watching that, I think I’ll go outside and take a walk.

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Flesh and bone by the telephone

January 27, 2010 § 4 Comments

It’s been quiet around here lately, mostly because my life is even more riveting than normal – which is to say, not at all.

Exam phase is approaching in huge, terrifying steps, even though I wasn’t even aware it starts next week until Saskia freaked out the day before yesterday. And then I freaked out subsequently.

And then, incongruously, I fell into a bit of a country phase. I’ve been reading The Pioneer Woman on and off for quite a while, mostly because of her recipes. But recently, I’ve pretty much been devouring her site. I made Apple Caramel Sticky Buns twice in one weekend. I bought her cookbook, and made her chili, along with some tortillas, last night. Then I had some of the leftover for breakfast this morning, along with some cheese and rucola.

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I downloaded the American Recordings by Johnny Cash. I got out my cowboy boots from when I did western riding years ago, finally broke them in good and proper, slept a night in damp leather boots in the process… and now they’re the comfiest boots ever. And slimmer and lighter than my Dockers, too, which is definitely a good thing.

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Thank god I don’t have enough vocal input, or I’d probably be knee-deep in developing some kind of Southern accent.

Not much news on the knitting front – I’ve unpicked the duplicate stitch from the Weasley Sweater, and I have dye and salt here to do iiiiit this weekend. I’ve started on the raglan, I’ve knit a cute little cap.

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Unfortunately, it’s not something I’d ever wear. Oh well. It’s not warm enough for the current weather, anyway.

But overall, when I’ve had to occupy my hands, I’ve mostly been winding yarn. Sock, lace, nummy thick Alpaca that was smooth as butter in my hands… this sudden interest in one of the most mind-numbing exercises known to man stems mostly from the fact that I don’t know what I want to knit. Or rather, I think my desires are too specific: I’m kinda feeling like lace, or yet another hat, and I cannot abide any more socks. Or them damn colorwork Ruba’iyat mitts. But the lace I want to knit should kinda be like the Swallowtail Shawl, except not like it, cause I’ve already made it twice, and will I ever find a pattern as perfect as that one? One that works with the amount of yarn I have here, in the colors I have here? I’ve ordered some moss-green lace yarn, just to be on the safe side.

I’m kinda thinking though, with 100g of moss green merino lace yarn, I could do a semicircular, i.e. half, version of the Balmoral Thistle Design. I have the book here. As a scarfy thingy.

So, yeah. Nothing productive going on. Just sitting, waiting, procrastinating. Watching indecent amounts of Supernatural and, lately, the Vampire Diaries. Which the mother of my roomie calls ‘Vampire Dairies’. Lactose intolerant, beware!

PUDDING!

Johnny Cash’s version of Depeche Mode’s ‘Personal Jesus’ is divine.

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