Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Dirigible Plums

I'm dressing up as Luna Lovegood for Halloween. I've got the scarf, and now I have the earrings.
Luna was wearing what looked like a pair of orange radishes for earrings, a fact that Parvati and Lavender seemed to have noticed, as they were both giggling and pointing at her earlobes.

"You can laugh!" Luna said, her voice rising, apparently under the impression that Parvati and Lavender were laughing at what she had said rather than what she was wearing. "But people used to believe there were no such things as the Blibbering Humdinger or the Crumple-Horned Snorkack!"

"Well, they were right, weren't they?" said Hermione impatiently. There weren't any such things as the Blibbering Humdinger or the Crumple-Horned Snorkack."

Luna gave her a withering look and flounced away, radishes swinging madly.

-Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

I forgot to include something in the picture for scale, but they're about an inch and a quarter tall and 3/4 of an inch wide.

I didn't have any exclusively orange yarn, so I cut the orange stretches out of my Yarn Pirate Punkin Head yarn. Each radish took two orange stretches, a bit of white undyed knitpicks, and the leaves are from leftovers of those socks I just finished.

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Sunday, October 28, 2007


I find it a little ironic that just after I started acquiring a pretty decent readership to this blog, I suddenly became unable to maintain regular blogging habits. Part of me hopes that you are all reading this through bloglines so you don't waste a lot of time each day clicking through favorites, only to see that once again, Liz has not updated. I used to do that before I found bloglines, and the one that sticks out most is Eunny's blog, which dropped off around the same time that I started reading it. (hope that wasn't my fault!)

Anyway, here is a brief update on where we stand with the wedding plans.
-The cake has been arranged and is going to be delicious
-The rehearsal dinner has nearly been arranged and is going to be delicious
-The flowers have been arranged and are going to be beautiful. We're using blue and white hydrangeas--white for me with a little blue, and blue for the bridesmaids. I showed the florist my veil and he immediately pulled out some Queen Anne's Lace, which will pop out of the hydrangea bouquets in a most attractive way.
-The dress. I am so excited about the dress! When my grandparents got married in 1948 my grandmother wore this dress.

My aunt wore it, then my mother wore it, and then my uncle's wife wore it. And as much as I loved the idea of being the fifth bride in my family to wear such a special dress, I could not get past that shoulder ruffle and the giant butt bow, not shown.

To make a long story short, we're taking apart that enormous skirt and turning it into another dress entirely. I had my second fitting last week and have the third on Thursday, and it's coming together beautifully. I may post pictures later, provided my fiance will agree not to look. It's not the bad luck aspect I'm worried about, it's the ruined surprise.

I have been knitting, too! Those Christmas socks are done.

Yarn: Claudia Handpainted in DF Green
Needles: US 1
Pattern: nothin special in the toe and foot, Baudelaire heel, 3x1 ribbing in the cuff.

I still need to give these a vinegar bath so they don't bleed on the recipient's feet. I think he's going to love them, though.

Much progress has been made on the cardigan front, and I am working on the bottom of the sweater right now. I am making things more complicated than they need to be, but I think the final result will be worthwhile. I couldn't get a good picture, though, so you will have to wait. I haven't knit on the gauntlets at all, but anticipate picking those up as soon as the cardi sleeves get boring.

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Something for me

My Christmas knitting list is very ambitious this year, but it is on hold for now because dangit, I want a cardigan!

The Equestrian Blazer has been frogged once and for all and is now on its way to becoming something else entirely:

A top-down, raglan sleeve cardigan that may slightly resemble the Glampyre Minisweater, but without the ruffled edge or the puffed sleeves and regular-cardigan length. Basically the only resemblance will be in the cast-on numbers, the garter edges, and the neckline (but that's got mods of its own). So far I'm a lot happier with this than I was with the first two renditions of this yarn. Will the third time be the charm?

I should also say that Ravelry was a huge help here. I would not make a sweater like the one in the Glampyre pattern. But if you look up the dozens of Minisweaters on Ravelry, many people have omitted the puffed sleeves and the edging doesn't appear at all. I certainly won't be the first one to make it full length, either. And I noticed that the less busty girls wound up having to put two buttons on (think double-breasted jackets) because the increases were too much, so I modified the neckline increases for a sweater more suited to my smaller chest.

Tom's gauntlets are looking more awesome, but are slightly stalled because he wants the arms two inches longer than they came out, so I'll need to modify the pattern some to add two inches worth of swirly comet tail.

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Liz invents a new kind of knitting (maybe)

I'm working on another Christmas project right now. My little brother asked for a new pair of elbow-length fingerless gloves like the ones I made him last year for his birthday (never blogged, long story), but with several changes. He wanted these made from yarn that wasn't itchy (and that gorgeous merino was? shoulda kept it for myself!), and in a black-and-white pattern that looked sort of "tribal." Oh, and he wants separate fingers this time.

I began to think about what I could do within these parameters. I bought four skeins of Dale of Norway Svale (cotton, viscose, and silk) in black and white--hopefully this won't be itchy, but if he thinks it is he is obviously insane. And I landed on the idea of a comet design, with the ball of ice and dirt on the back of the hand and the tail streaming down the arm.

How to convey the sleek lines of a tribal-style comet in knitting, where two-color designs almost by nature end up looking geometric? I started to think about the way lace creates pictures. Increases and decreases, negative space and positive space. The yarn over holes create negative space--an absence of fabric--and the knits and purls create the positive space, usually the picture itself. Lines of increases and decreases can look like stems or can firm up edges.

Can these principles be applied to two-color knitting? I hoped they could, even though I wasn't sure I'd seen it done before. We don't have positive and negative, we have main color and contrast color. What if the streaks of the comet's tail were shaped by decreasing on one side and increasing on the other?

Not only is it possible, it is awesome.

I began with a gauge swatch, and then I cast on, deciding to use the bottom of the piece as the "real" swatch. I did a turned hem and began a 1x1 stripe at the bottom edge. Hate knitting a turned hem together with live stitches? Try it in fair isle! Anyway, yarn dominance is especially important if all you're doing is stripes. By holding the black yarn in my left hand and bringing it from underneath, while the white was in the right and came from above, I ensured that the gauntlets would be, as it were, black with white stripes instead of white with black stripes.

Once I had enough to get started, and to know for sure what kind of gauge I'd have, I figured out how big an area I'd have for the pattern itself. Then I freehanded my comet on graph paper, and then filled in the black squares with a pencil.

Knitting from this chart and trying to take notes of where my increases and decreases were started to get a little scary, so I started filling in a new chart as I go. After all, I'm going to have to flip this around and do it again on the left gauntlet. This second chart also increases the chances that I'll be able to write up the pattern for others to use.

This is the result, now just over halfway to the wrist:

This picture, taken with flash, will hopefully show you the interesting twists and curves created by increasing and decreasing in the black zones.

And this last picture, taken without, kind of shows how this really is black with white stripes instead of the other way around.

I have two questions for you, dear readers.

First, have you seen knitted goodies like this before? I haven't except maybe those crazy kneesocks from Knitters? Vogue Knitting? with the circles? Anybody know what I'm talking about? If I'm the first to do this I'd like to be solid in my bragging rights. If I'm not, I'd like to see how smarter people than myself have done it and, especially, written directions.

Second, what should I call them? I spent some time on Wikipedia looking for cool comet names, but none really stuck out, though I guess I could live with Halley's Gauntlets. I also kinda like the German word for fireball, Feuerkugel (foy-yer koo gull). Any other suggestions?


Thursday, October 04, 2007

What have I been working on?

It feels like I haven't been doing much knitting lately, but somehow I still have tons to show off. Mostly, I've been knitting socks.

-Big socks on tiny needles

(Those same Christmas present socks, nearly to the heel turn on #2 right now)

-Tiny socks on tiny needles

(Finished the purple one recently, the turquoise one has already been given away, and I plan to give the purple one away soon. I'll never make it to a full Christmas tree at this rate!)

-Big sock on big needles

(Hopefully this will be Dave's Christmas stocking, but there may not be enough yarn for a decent-sized stocking, in which case I plan to frog and make myself a hat. Oh, and these "big needles" are 13s and they feel SO weird after using 1s)

-Tiny sock on big needles

(Little Sky Sock from New Pathways for Sock Knitters, I used the wrong sized needles so this one is way too big to serve properly as a baby sock, but whatever.)

I haven't attempted the second learning sock yet, but I'm thinking that the next pair of socks I make will be from this book. I'm curious, I know a few of you have been knitting from her patterns so far, do you use the decreases (edit: I mean INCREASES) she recommends? I didn't really like them.

A big order from Knitpicks came in yesterday and I am muchly pleased. I am now using those new wooden needles on a non-sock project and I *LOVE* them. I also got a set in sock sizes, plus some cable needles for the upcoming cabled afghan.

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