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November 28, 2005

A little (more) Christmas knitting

On Sleeve Island. Send Hula dancers. I need something to distract me from the Endless Miles of Stockinette.

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On a slightly different tack, remember how I was going to knit just three Christmas gifts this year? How I decided that it was the best way to avoid holiday knitting insanity? Well, apparently I can't take my own good advice because a few other things have crept into the queue.

Thing One: Trellis. For Thunk's niece O. This baby needs a snuggly sweater. Oregon is a cold, cold place and her parents requested something warm for her to wear for Christmas. My knitter's alarm bells went off so I ordered some Jaeger Matchmaker Merino in the color tinsel. The yarn should be here by the end of the week. Justification: It's a small sweater; I should be able to finish it before the 10th of December when I see her, right?

Thing Two: Socks for Lou. Lou deserves some socks. I could give you the 20 or so reasons but I'll keep this short and just give you two. One: he gave me a big beautiful wooden swift last summer (no occasion). I had told him I was saving up for one and within the week he had bought one for me. Turns out that, when he was a little thing, his mother used drag him to yarn shops and then made him hold her skeins while she wound them into balls (see? knitting trauma can result in more thoughtful men). Second reason? His birthday is in December. Besides, I've almost finished the first sock.

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Don't worry, I have huge feet. They'll be large enough.

I’m using the same basic pattern that I did for the Octo socks, and this yarn. I'm guessing that "antibakteriell" is a cognate.

Also, I'm planning two or three smallish mystery knits (I don't even know exactly what they'll be yet). Justification: I am going on a cruise to Mexico in a couple of weeks and need small, mindless things to knit on the plane/ship. As we already know, I can't really bring anything that requires pattern reading if I'm going to be around people. And, as you can see, I seem to have a burning need to knit something for everyone I know.

So what does this do for my Christmas knitting schedule? Well here's the plan:
-December 4: Finish Laurent (doable, if I stay on task).
-December 9: Have most of Trellis finished. I figure I could do some finishing on the boat, if needed.
-December 10-17 (on cruise): Knit Lou's second sock and get one or two more small gifts knitted.
-December 18-20: Finish any remaining small gifts.
-December 21-28 (in Washington) Wrap up lose ends and finish Thunk's sweater.

I know I'm just asking for trouble, but there's no harm in trying, right?

November 27, 2005

Home Again

We're back! Michigan was fab.

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It was lovely. I woke up early every morning and drank tea while I knitted and basked in the light of the Christmas tree. It sure beat going to work. I was able to finish the Laurent fronts (sans button bands) and make some headway on the sleeves. I would have gotten more done if I hadn't been frogging every five minutes. Knitting with people around equals me ignoring the pattern and making whole sections up. Maybe it's good that I don't knit socially very often.

Saturday afternoon the three sisters were observed crafting in their natural habitat. Kricket crocheted her boyfriend scarf, I knitted...

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and Rae prepared lessons for her physics class. While this is not a traditional needlecraft, she gets extra points for doing work over a holiday weekend while the rest of us were having fun. Yay teachers!

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What else did we do?

We ate. A lot.

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Thunk, Nate and Rae are thankful for knitting.

The girls decorated the tree...

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And the three boys sat in the basement playing some computer game that required three computers, gin, and salty snacks (I'll let you imagine what that looked like).

We saw Harry Potter (yay!) and also, at home, Shakespeare in Love, and The Birds*.

I think that about covers it. I hope your weekends were all as nice as mine!

*if any of you (like me) have been putting off seeing The Birds because you think it's supposed to be, um, suspenseful and frightening...It's not. The protagonist's hair was the scariest bit. I bet Psycho's not scary either.

November 22, 2005

Off to Michigan!

Yay! I love long holiday weekends. Thunk and I are packing it up and heading off to the land of my youth to see my sisters. My parents have thoughtlessly moved to the west coast, thereby rendering themselves inaccessible for turkey-based holidays, so we will be celebrating without them.

We're staying with Rae (my older, shorter sister) and her husband Nate for a few days at their house in Plymouth. Saturday Kricket (my younger, also shorter sister) will get into town. Plans have been made involving a turkey, Moscow mules, Christmas decorating, Harry Potter movie going, and shopping. There might even be needlecrafts of varying types. I will definitely knit. 11-12 hours of driving time round trip is enough time to put a significant dent in Laurent (I do surely hope, anyway). Throw in traffic and snow and I might even have more knitting time than I would like.


At any rate, progress on Mum's Laurent continues. See?

LaurentFronts1.jpg

See the gaps in the middle? I'm supposed to continue the textured stitches up the edge of the sweater and sew them into place later. I'm just wondering how one does this neatly and nicely. The pattern specifies slipstitching. Note to self: buy a comprehensive knitting reference that gives instructions regarding slipstitching (any suggestions?).

Also, on a side note...those little Clover locking stitch markers are my favorite knitting accessory ever. I've used them more as tiny stitch holders than as stitch markers, and they thoughtfully put two colors in a package so that you can mark port and starboard on your sweater.


And because I know I've shown you way too many pictures of brown stockinette lately, here is a bonus shot of our favorite autumnal snack (and my favorite primitive appliance) here at Chez Elliphantom.

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Happy Thanksgiving Everybody!

November 21, 2005

Weekend Knitting

There wasn't as much weekend knitting as originally anticipated...but I bought yarn!

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Funky colors, eh?

On Saturday, Thunk and I went to see the LOTR exhibit with our friends Jason and Wendie. It was v. cool, though the museum wouldn't let us take any pictures. You'll just have to use your imagination...lots of costumes and props and one very creepy wax body double of dead Boromir in a boat. Wendie is a knitter too (yay!) so we hit Mass Ave. Knits in Indy after the museum. I was v. restrained and bought only the Regia sock yarn (which was on sale) and a pair of long size 6 Brittanies.


Sunday I resisted casting on for the socks and finished the back of Mum's Laurent instead. I really hope it doesn't grow much when I block it. It is the perfect size right now.

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I started on both Laurent fronts last night. I'm working both at the same time so it feels like things are moving pretty slowly, but it's just mental. I'm past the fancy edge bits now, and on to the miles and miles of stocking stitch. Provided I remember to read the pattern (not always as easy as it sounds) things should be fairly zippy from here on out.

November 18, 2005

How big are your bobbles?

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I managed to sneak in a couple (short) evenings with Demi this week, and all I have to show for it is one repeat. The key to this project is to Follow The Chart. I don't particularly like charts (which is why you aren't going to see much in the way of lace knitting on this blog) so I wasn't paying very close attention when I set up the cables. Needless to say I completely mucked things up. So there was a bit of ripping. Now that I know what to expect, the Chart and I have settled into a relationship based on mutual respect. Things look promising.

There was some discussion among knitalongers about bobble size. I have opted for the abbreviated version (3 stitches rather than the 5 stitches called for in the pattern). I'm backed up by Thunk's expert opinion here. He declared that, as a man, he prefers small bobbles. A penny for scale:

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Abe Lincoln likes them too.

Weekend plans? To blast through as much Christmas knitting as humanly possible. And to (perhaps) photograph some of it during daylight hours. Also, we're thinking of going up to Indy to check out the Lord of the Rings exhibit. Has anyone seen this yet?

Have a great weekend!

November 15, 2005

We're not in Kansas...

...but we sure are having more than our fair share of fall tornados in the Midwest. On the bright side, I was able to get in a few rows at work yesterday afternoon while waiting for the sirens to stop. Some of my coworkers reported seeing roofing materials swirling high up in the air above the building, but no funnel clouds. Me? I was in (what I considered) the safest room in the building. First floor. No windows. I'm a big tornado chicken I am. It was nice though--rather like a big impromptu work party. There was even a cute baby in attendance.

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Last night (during another tornado warning) I laid into Laurent and cranked out a nice patch of stockinette. I'm at the half-way point on the back now. If the rest of the sweater goes as quickly, this should be a relatively fast knit. The collar instructions don't even look that complicated...nary a short row to be seen. Of course, skipping the intarsia speeds things up considerably.


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Here's a better detail shot of the edging. It pretty much looks like gussied up garter stitch.

As for the yarn, I’m enjoying the Merino Style more than I expected. I've heard mixed reviews--that it doesn't hold up well when frogged. However, I ripped that slip-stitch edging more that once and the yarn seemed to come out ok. Maybe I'm a gentle knitter? We'll see how it holds up when actually worn though.

November 14, 2005

Results may vary

I didn't get as much knitting done this weekend as I was hoping (I haven't touched Demi) but I did make some progress on the Christmas knitting.

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After many swatches and much futzing around, I decided to knit the edging for Mum's Laurent on size 8 needles. The knitting itself is still narrower than I’d like but when I went up to size 9s the stitch pattern lost its structure and got all floppy on me. At this point I'm trusting that a stiff blocking will solve all my problems. I have that bad feeling that I'll come to regret my decision...going up 5 needle sizes seems like a knitting sin punishable by something bad. Like moths descending on my stash. Or arthritis.


I knitted like a fiend on Sunday and managed to finish the front of Thunk's sweater. I decided to block the front and back just to make sure things are going as they should. Before blocking things were looking a bit narrow (like mini-dress for me narrow) but the ribbing relaxed nicely when it got wet.

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Can you see where I joined in new skeins? Yeah, me too. I think I did a better job on the front though.

Unfortunately, things got a bit longer in the blocking as well. Both pieces grew, but now the back is longer than the front. How do these things happen? I think I'll have to take out the bottom, rip it back a bit, and reknit the yellow edge. This, of course, is my punishment for not blocking my swatch.

November 10, 2005

Twisted

Last night, feeling the knitalong spirit, I cast on for Demi. Well, I cast on twice. The first time I cast on for the 36" bust (medium) thinking "hmm...I'm would normally make the 32" but I'm a little under gauge so I should go with the 34" just to be safe...and it looks nice with a little bit of ease on the waify model there so I think I'll try the 36 inch." I knit about four rows before noticing something looked a bit odd (as in oddly huge) so I finally bothered to look at the sizing diagram and wouldn't you know that the smallest size (32" bust) actually measures 36"? So I'm making that one. Yes indeed. You'd think by now I would have learned how to read a pattern.

This is as far as I got on the back before bed. I'm just about to start the cables:
Demi1.jpg
All those twisted stitches! Ai-yai!

In other news: progress continues on Thunk's Christmas sweater (can I rename it? I just can't bring myself to type "hidden agenda sweater"). I'm finished with the back and about a third of the way into the front. Lots and lots of k2p2 ribbing. It's a wee bit mind numbing, actually.

I also cast on for Mum's Christmas Laurent but I already have issues with the slip-stitch edging. The Rowan people want me to knit it on size 3 needles but on size 4s it's coming out way tighter than it should (it's actually a little too tight on size 8s as well). If anybody knows someone who has knit this one, send them my way. Otherwise the edging will be knitted on size 9s (bizarre, I know. This all just seems a little too wrong).

November 8, 2005

Stash Attack!

You know how sometimes good things come in 3s? Yesterday good things came in 3,050s. As in 3,050 grams of lovely new yarn:

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Artie the mailman brought two boxes for me yesterday. The first one was from Cindy. You would like Cindy. I met her at a conference I was attending for work last month. You know how you head into a vendor reception (lured there by free drinks and egg rolls) and buckle down for a not-so-exciting couple hours of mixing and mingling? Imagine discovering that the person you are talking to just happens to be a fabulously talented knitter who makes fair isle sweaters like a pro and may just have a bit of a stash overload and is willing to part with some of it for a song. It happens people. She sent me 17 skeins of Rowan Magpie and 6 skeins of Patons Classic Merino.

Cindy shall henceforth be known as my knitting fairy godmother.

The second box was from KnitPicks who, aside from being a little evil for trying to put all our LYSs out of business, make pretty decent yarn that I buy more often than I'd like to admit. They sent me 14 skeins of Merino Style for Mum's intarsia-less Laurent, and one skein of Apricot Shine to finish my Heirloom Bag (which you haven't seen yet because I'm sneakily hiding WIPs. Lots and lots of them, actually).

So what am I going to do with all of this? All I will say is that I have Plans. One of the plans may or may not have something to do with the turquoise Magpie Tweed and Diana's Demi knitalong.

November 5, 2005

Octo-Socks

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Angela asked about the Kool-aid recipe for the octopus* sock yarn, so I thought I'd share. It's pretty simple.

I used one 100g skein of sock yarn and the following Kool-Aid combinations:
-darker blue: 1 packet Berry Blue
-pale blue: 2 packets Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade
-pale green: 1 packet Arctic Green Apple and 1 packet Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade

If you do more than one skein at a time you might have to increase the Kool-Aid a bit (?) I don't think I exhausted any of the dyebaths, but this was months ago and I can't really remember all that well. Experiment at your own peril.

The self-striping yarn tutorial found at ginabeana is great. If you plug in your gauge, the number of colors you want and your desired stripe width and it tells you exactly what to do. I did a 5 row stripe, in case you were wondering. Knitty also has a good article on dying that shows color swatches for some flavors. Can I just say how much I love the smell of Kool-Aid dyed wool? It's like scratch and sniff stickers.

In other news, I cut it a little close, but it looks like I'll have enough yarn to do a second Octo-sock. I have a whole gram to spare.
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But where are the other 3 grams? Grrrr. Maybe the label weighed 3 grams?

*why octopus? The colors reminded me of a little tag painting of an octopus that Susie did over at boygirlparty.com. Her shop is closed for the time being (sad) but she does really fab work. I love her owls and octopi.

Julia wanted to know where campus is. I've never attended IU...I leave the school-going to Thunk these days. Maybe if they had a PhD program in knitting it would be a different story.

November 4, 2005

Other Things

I want to get at my size 1 dpns so that I can use them for a certain knitting experiment but they’re currently occupied with this sock:

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I Kool-Aid dyed this yarn last summer and I love how the colors turned out. However, I abandoned the sock when I realized that I was cutting things pretty close with the yarn. Think I’ll make it? I just have to turn the toe. Oh, the suspense.

Yesterday was such a beautiful day here that I took the afternoon off work. I was able to make some good progress on Thunk’s sweater (almost finished with the back now), finally ordered some yarn for Mum’s Christmas Sweater, and took a stroll around campus to soak up some of the fall colors. Now I'm all recharged and ready to face the weekend.

November 2, 2005

One down...

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I finished up the Skye Vest last night. Here it is in all its (still damp) glory. Too bad I have to wait until Christmas to see how it looks on the intended wearer.

Here are the specs:
-Pattern: Skye Tweed Vest by Kathy Zimmerman from Spring 2005 Interweave Knits
-Yarn: Cascade 220 in color 8013 (substituted for Classic Elite Skye Tweed)
-Skeins: 3 and 3/5
-Needles: size 7 and 8 bamboo
-Start to finish: October 7 - November 1
-For: My Dad (Christmas)

Notes: I made the second smallest size (45" chest). The finished vest only measures 43" so my gauge was a bit off which is ok...it still falls within the range Mum said would be acceptable for paternal wearables. Aside from the fairly minor fiasco with the neck cables, this was a fun and easy pattern to knit. You have to love those cables!

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Now on to other things...

**update**

Modeled shot!

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