Friday, May 26, 2006

My brother is the epitome of cool

Can you really argue? Look at this kid, he's 15 years old and clad in spikes. I tricked him into laughing for this picture. Right now he and my dad are out playing a gig with Dad's band. Dad sings and plays whatever instrument nobody else is playing at the moment (guitar or occasionally keyboard) and TJ lurks in the background with the bass guitar. They play Jimmy Buffet style music, the kind of music most people wear Hawaiian shirts for, and there in the background is the kid in all black, wearing enormous black pants with countless chains and rings and I think some skulls and crossbones (all of which I thoughtlessly omitted from this picture), a Tshirt that says he punches people in the stomach, and these "bracers" (armbands) with 2" spikes. I think they wanted him to pass the hat.

Unfortunately for TJ, being cool is sometimes an uncomfortable process (I feel the same way about heels). To wear those bracers he needs four wristbands, one at each of his wrists and elbows. For some reason he was one short today, so he came in an hour and a half before his gig and said "Liz, could you make me a wristband?"

My stash was in a convenient box, but I couldn't remember anything in a remotely cool color until I came across a partial skein of some steel gray Lamb's Pride Worsted. Excellent! As time was of the essence, I held two strands together and knit them on size 13 needles. I wanted ribbing but didn't have time to figure out how long to make it if I knit top to bottom, so I cast on 10 stitches and knit until I had the right length to wrap around his arm. Behold, the Emergency Armband.
Note that the wristband has metal studs, in case he was worried about not setting off a metal detector. I did a sideways rib for extra stretch--dunno what it's called, but from the RS it looks like 2 purl rows and 2 knit rows. From CO to weaving in the last end I think it took me about 20 minutes.
Progress on the Koigu socks! Click to check out the sweet diamond pattern I made up all by myself. And they have a separate big toe, perfect for flip-flops! I've promised a few folks on the KR and Knitty boards that I'll post the pattern when I'm done with these guys.

Plane leaves in 8 days.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

You won't believe how long it took...

...for me to get around to felting this bag. But I finally did it! And it looks awesome!

Ileana and I took a felted bag class together in February. February. I have been done with this bag since the middle of February and this weekend, mid May, I felted it. Ok, I have a small excuse in that I didn't have a washing machine I could use for free, but at a certain point it became ridiculous.

It's done now and I guess I'm happy with the way it looks, but I can't really see myself using it as a purse. It's just too deep, everything would get lost in there. I wish I had made the tan part much, much shorter. I think it may have a future as a medium-sized project bag, especially if I line it and give it some pockets. Now I just have to learn to sew. The strap is a bit too stretchy for anything heavy, though. Does anyone have any ideas for reinforcing it?

In Italy I'll be staying with a host family, the Rosellas. I wanted to get them a small, portable but interesting gift and found one today. I grew up in (and am currently killing time in) a pretty touristy town and my first job was in a museum. One of the other tour guides is a great artist, and he now lives elsewhere but sends boxes of little paintings for the museum to sell in the gift shop. I figured that a picture by a local artist, and a former colleague of mine, of some local scenery would be a nice not-stupid gift, and found a great one. It's a shore scene with a little shrimp boat and some seagulls and a pretty sunset. I also picked up two for myself while I was there (I'm so weak!)--one of a country road and farmhouse that reminded me of the stuff my grandfather used to paint, and one really fabulous picture of the museum itself, a historic home. Happy!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


[non-knitting post]

I've been dating my boyfriend for three and a half years now. Dave and the vast majority of his friends are gamers and frequently play Dungeons and Dragons together. For three and a half years I have heard tales of their characters' hilarious and death-defying campaigns but somehow never actually played a game myself.

Oops. Broke my streak.

And ok, it was awesome.

I had only the vaguest conception of the mechanics of the game (something about, the DM makes up a story and we roll all these bajillions of dice to find out whether we die, the monster dies, or we have to keep going). The very patient group walked me through every step of designing my character (Human fighter with a scythe! sweet!) and chuckled politely when I made dumb jokes that are apparently quite old ("If you cross a human and a halfling, does it make a quarterling?" and the like). And I smashed the shit out of this (baby) dragon and killed it with one blow. Whoop!

In knitting news, I finished one of the Koigu socks and am almost done with the cuff on #2. I'll post a pic once I remember to do so when it's daylight. I had to get a new passport (grr) and got a ton of knitting done waiting at the passport office (yay).

Plane leaves in 10 days.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Something eventful

I've been spending this week at my boyfriend Dave's, trying to get one last paper done before I leave for Italy. I haven't posted because it's been somewhat dull. Something slightly eventful happened last night, but I'll spare you the details. Let's just say we are not impressed with the quality of care in the E.R. at 2 am. Everything is fine now, though we are definitely sleepy as we didn't get home until 5 am.

I wasn't the sick one, I was the one sitting in the waiting room freezing my ass off and wondering what was taking so long. I got a bunch done on my raspberry Koigu sock, but the whole time I was wishing I had a finished pair of socks to put on my frozen toes. It must have been about 60 degrees in there.

I haven't worked on the paper today as it is maliciously boring stuff and I'm tired enough as it is. We watched Willow, which Dave got as a birthday present. His favorite movie, which I'd never seen before. Excellent movie and I've turned the heel and started the gusset shaping on this great little sock. I will post WIP pics as soon as I can.

Knit and Tink commented on my last post:

Florence, Italy! How fun! Isn't it cool to have started knitting before you go so now you have something fun to look for when you are there! My daughter just spent time in Madrid and I kick myself for not asking her to look for sock yarn there!

Yes, I am definitely glad to have something to look for while I'm in Italy. Last summer I spent some time in Germany and found a really neat cotton tape in a department store (the department stores are FABULOUS--think Dillard's-does-Walmart). There was a yarn store in my little suburb but I didn't make it there until the end, and didn't have a chance to buy any yarn. Not making that mistake this year!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mothers' Day

Today was the big move (most of it, anyway). I'm leaving this apartment in search of greener pastures and a one-bedroom palace of my own. So Mom, Dad, Brother and Boyfriend all showed up to help out. Things went very smoothly considering that I'd barely finished packing before they got there. Now I just have to clean up a few last things, including my computer as you may have guessed. My plan for the summer is to spend a few weeks between Parent's House and Boyfriend's House relaxing and tying up a few loose ends from this semester. Then, it's off to Florence, Italy for two months of language training (yaaay!). Then a few more weeks visiting Boyfriend and Parents and searching for a new one-bedroom palace, which I'll move into in mid-August before the new semester starts.

Since Mom was here on Mothers' Day I was able to give her her present: 2 skeins Koigu KPM nearly solid in a gorgeous green (a little greener than the pic shows) and a set of sock needles. Mom's never knit socks before but certainly has the skills, as she's a very accomplished knitter. After two pairs of socks I feel sock-knitterish enough to start turning others to the dark side. Mua ha ha ha ha haaaa.

At my current apartment (for the next 18 hours or so) there is one very local LYS, within a five minute drive, and a slightly less local LYS that is about 25 minutes away. I don't get to the distant one as often and hadn't been there since like January. January was before I knit socks, and the new obsession led me to venture beyond my tiny corner of the city in search of yummy solid sock yarns. I'm still a hesitant internet shopper at times, and really wanted the chance to feel some of this stuff.

I went with my friend Ileana, who caught the knitting bug from me in December. Ileana sought yarn for a Fair Isle blanket (her skills are already so impressive!) and I was looking for a) sock yarn, b) a mothers' day present, c) yarn for a crochet project. Before we left, Ileana gave me my birthday present--
Folk Socks by Nancy Bush. I'm so excited! This book is great, and all the socks are gorgeous. I can't wait to get started on them.

We spent probably an hour and a half in the store. I found the Koigu and got a gorgeous... what IS this color, anyway? I'll say raspberry. It's a cross between pink and burgundy. Nearly solid, totally perfect. Green for mom plus Brittany Birch sock needles. And I'll be making "Fit to be Tied" from the Happy Hooker with Creative Focus Worsted by Nashua Handknits in a demure light blue. This is my project to work on during my plane ride to Italy so I don't have to worry about anyone taking my needles away.

The worsted and the raspberry Koigu both decided to be camera-shy yesterday, so you'll just have to pretend there is a lovely picture of them right here:

Speaking of turning knitters to the dark side, Ileana fell in love with the absolute loudest, most colorful, most fabulous self-patterning sock yarn in the place. Do I get a prize for recruits?

Friday, May 12, 2006

Lump, plus a Tale of Woe

Behold the lump in all its glory.

This, folks, is my lovely moebius scarf. But once you get past a certain point on a moebius, especially if you're using just one needle, it just looks like a lump. A big, colorful, seed stitch lump. But I know the secret, I know what's really in that lump, and it keeps me going.

The yarn is Wool in the Woods Dunluce, a shiny rayon with a great texture and a fabulous colorway called Shy, greens with purples. The whole thing is seed stitch except for a band of stockinette in the middle, where I cast on.

A moebius, for those of you who haven't had geometry in a while, is a loop with a half twist. Take a strip of paper, twist it once and then connect the two ends. You can trace the edge all the way around both sides of the strip. So with a knit moebius, you cast on howevermany stitches, and then you pick up stitches below those and knit, in the round but with your needles doubled over, so that the moebius grows from the middle out. Dunno if that makes any sense, but here's a pretty picture of the newly cast-on moebius:

That straight needle? The secret to my moebius success. The first few rounds it is next to impossible to get your needle in the stitch, especially if you do a purl round (which I did). I kept the straight needle in my left hand, inserted it in the stitch I wanted to purl from left to right, slipped it off the circ, and then purled. It helped a LOT. This might not be as much of a problem for those of you with addis or some other needle with lots of flex, but I was knitting with Clovers. If I ever knit another moebius I'll probably invest in some addis.

Now for the tale of woe. Yesterday I posted pics of my beautiful lace socks (which I am wearing right now, btw). What you don't know about those socks is that it took me six weeks to make them (Mom's socks took only three). This happened partly because last month was my first (and perhaps only) venture into knitting more than one thing at a time. I had the socks, and the moebius, and the crocheted thingie, and especially when it came to turning the heel and picking up the gusset I wasn't willing to spend so much effort on the socks when I could play with something more immediately satisfying.

I also lost a week of good knitting. After a severe bout of second sock syndrome I finally made it to the toe. I'd done about six rounds of the toe when I decided it would be fun to try on both socks at the same time and admire my work. So I pulled on sock #1 and sock #1, so exciting, and then... wait a minute...

Is sock 2 shorter?

I tugged on the cuffs, but it was no use. I pulled the socks off and counted the repeats. 10 on sock 1, just like there were supposed to be. 9 on sock 2. NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Bad, bad bad. I could see no way to fix it so I packed the danged thing up and went to the lys. Once there, the gal working and a few customers appropriately mourned the loss of so much hard work. Then we got out the ball winder and said goodbye to a whole week's worth of knitting. I frogged everything in the foot, my painstakingly picked-up gusset, my lovely heel, and 10 repeats (60 rows) of that lace pattern. It was an unpleasant time.

It gets better though. The whole time I was knitting sock 2.0 I hated it. I just wanted to be done. But sock 2.1 was somehow a lot more fun. I wasn't in a hurry to finish the thing, since I'd already missed my self-imposed deadline by a mile. And I'd really gotten the hang of all the tricky parts, so I had to look at the pattern less often. I can't wait to start my next pair.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

FObulous times Two

Two lovely finished objects today, but don't get used to it because this kind of thing is very rare around here.

FO 1: Skinny Crocheted Item
Now this was really supposed to be a scarf, but none of the scarf pictures turned out, and besides--I really like the way it looks as a belt. If I had known it would be such a great belt when it was done, I probably would have made it a bit shorter. I need to figure out a way to block it so it spirals some more. A few ideas in the works.

I made this scarf using some leftover unidentified yarn. I bought the three skeins to make a fair isle PDA cozy and kept them around. It's a cotton/something manmade blend that was a bitch to knit with but was pretty and shiny. I decided to play around with it when I was teaching myself double and triple crochet, and WOW. What a perfect yarn for crochet. So I made this guy. Here's the pattern, which hardly counts as a pattern. It was a great way to get used to single, double, and triple crochet.

Ch about 300 sts. Nobody cares if your count is off.
Rows 1-3: SC all sts in lt blue
Row 4: DC all sts in dk blue. Realize you are going to run out of dk blue. Decide one row of DC is all you wanted, didn't need another row.
Row 5: TC all sts in purple. Come really close to running out of yarn for this one too. Decide a 2" wide scarf is In right now.

This was my first crochet project and I think it turned out really well. I just hope I can find use for this thing!

Now on to the masterpiece.

Yup, it's another pair of socks! I'm keeping these for myself. The pattern is from Sensational Knitted Socks. It's called "oblique openwork" and has these gorgeous ribs that are all twisty and pretty. Here's a not-incredibly-awesome shot of them and my heart-print pajamas.

The yarn is Knitpicks Essential, and the needles are US 1. I really, really liked this pattern but I hear there are softer, plushier sock yarns out there so I'm going to go exploring the bigger LYS sometime soon to look for em.

These socks are so warm, and I'm thrilled. I wanted handknit socks to replace my old Ugg boots, which I have had since the first time they were popular almost 10 years ago. Almost all of the fleece is gone from the inside, so they don't insulate as well as they did earlier in their lives. The insole leather is cracked and the soles are coming off. These knit socks actually warm my feet better than the Uggs, and are smaller so easier to pack. They'll be coming with me to Italy, I can promise you that.

Sunday, May 07, 2006


Aren't they pretty? These are my first-ever socks. I finished them about two months ago and gave them to my Mom for her birthday. Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino in light blue, size 3 needles, and the pattern was a bizarre mix between one the sock-knitting teacher at my LYS gave me and the one in Sensational Knitted Socks. They're soft and squishy and probably too warm for Mom to wear for months and months.

Please excuse the hideous tile.

Testing, testing

Welcoming myself to the blogoverse.

What can I say, I'm a sheep!