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January 31, 2006

Old Dogs

So you may be wondering how the Fair Isle training is going. Well...over the weekend I sat down with my Fair Isle swatch and taught myself the Continental method and the English method. Then I taught myself how to combine the two. Then I futzed around a bit and figured out a way to hold both yarns in my right hand at once so that I can knit the way I usually do. Guess which method won out? You got it. The Elliphantom Special.

While this means that I'll have to take an automatic deduction from the technical judges, I know that this is a good move because it's going to make me like knitting Fair Isle, which is really the point of this whole exercise. Besides, I have no business getting squeemy about using the wrong technique now, as it's never really bothered me in the past. La, la, la, knitting rebel, la, la...

In celebration of my newly liberated knitterly self, I started a new project. Sometimes you just need a little Garter Stitch to take the edge off. Besides, my life currently lacks cute accessories.

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This will be a completely mindless, purely tactile knitting experience. What could be nicer than knitting with lovely soft yarn on my new Lantern Moon needles? Yum.

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January 26, 2006

Back to the basics

I learned to knit way back when I was a little kid. I still knit exactly the same way--I grab the yarn with my right hand, and I move my whole right hand to wrap it around the needle. This method is so unsophisticated that I don't think it even has a name.

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This isn't going to work for the Fair Isle. I already knew that it wouldn't, but I tried it anyway. Aside from making me feel like a big knitting loser, it made a big tangly mess out of the yarn and I found myself spending a lot of time unsnarling things. This weekend I'll try the real way. The way that fills my heart with dread. I'll let y'all know how that goes.

In happier news, I won Angela's stash guessing contest!

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Sweet prize, eh? If you can drag your covetous eyes away from the delicious yarn, you will notice that she also sent chocolate and little trial-size samples of things to slather on myself, with scents like chamomile and buttercream—yum! Thanks, Angela!

January 25, 2006

Finished: Baby Socks

Today at work we threw a baby shower for my friend Katy and her 10 week old (v. adorable) baby, Genevieve. Cute babies require cute knitted things, so I dropped everything and made some baby socks.

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The Specs:
-Pattern: Better-Than-Booties Baby Socks by Ann Bud, from Interweave Knits, summer 2005.
-Yarn: Sirdar Snuggly DK (about 1/2 of a 50g skein).
-Needles: size 0 dpns
-Start to finish: January 22 - January 24
-For: Baby Genevieve

This is the second time I've knitted these baby socks. They work up super-quick and are a great way to use up leftover ends of skeins. Hooray for stashbusting!* I have to confess, part of the reason I like this pattern so much is that it uses the PGR shortrow heel. Someday, before I die of old age, I promise I will try a different heel....but for now, why mess with a good thing?

*In case you're wondering if I've been infected with the New Years Stashbusting Bug...don't worry, I'm not on a real yarn diet, I'm just interested in maintaining a healthy stash lifestyle.

January 21, 2006

Needles

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Above is a sampling of some of the vintage knitting needles I've found over the last couple of years. I used to ignore anything but matching sets, but lately I've been buying interesting needles with no mates. Today I found a couple of interesting ones at the thrift store--one is a hand carved dpn that looks like it is made of some sort of bone (above, far right). I found a set of three similar needles a few months ago so now I have four (in different sizes though...no socks on these until I find a whole set). The other one is a steel needle marked "Czechoslovakia 2." It measures as a US 3 and is pretty heavy for its size. A comparison between it and an aluminum size 3 (I love my scale):

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The steel needle weighs 15 grams, while a size 3 aluminum needle weighs only 6. Makes you realize why they switched over.


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This weekend I'm working on Thunk's x-Christmas sweater. I should finish the sleeves tonight. The goal is to have the sweater finished within the week! Then it’ll be time to dedicate some serious time to Demi.

January 18, 2006

Mittens

Mittens: part I

I am going to knit a pair of Fair Isle mittens. Yes, indeed.

I joined Stephanie's Knitting Olympics. If you haven't heard about it yet (which would be difficult as it seems everyone in knitblogland is doing it) go over there to read the rules. Since just thinking about Fair Isle makes me go all clammy, I figure it will be a good challenge for me. And, in the spirit of destashing which is also sweeping knitblogland, I am going to use a book I already own and some sock yarn from the stash. How's that for frugality?

The book is The Swedish Mitten Book, by Ingrid and Inger Gottfridsson (how cute is it that their names match?). I think this is the modern day equivalent, but I'm not sure.

I have until February 10 to learn to knit continental with two hands. Wish me luck!

Mittens: part II

I've wanted to show off these mittens that my friend Janis knitted for a while now. Janis is the most modest person I've ever met...I had no idea she'd finished these until weeks after the fact. As friendly revenge, I'm showing off for her.

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Cool, huh? The yarn is some that I dyed (trying to match her scarf there) back in July. Hooray for collaborative projects!

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January 16, 2006

I have a little secret...

I've been hiding WIPs from you. Shameful, I know. To be perfectly fair, I haven't worked on any of these in the time that I've been blogging--they've all been loitering at the bottom of the knitting basket. Since I've been in a cleaning mood lately, it seems like an appropriate time to introduce you to the Projects Which Languish:

Apricot Jacket from Rebecca 27
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I started her in September. I got 500 kinds of insecure about knitting a cotton blend. I put her down.


Heirloom Bag from Rowan 37
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This was started over Labor Day when my sister Rae came to visit. She wanted to crochet something (being good at that sort of thing) so I gave her the leftover KnitPicks Shine from the bolero I'd just made her. I had some other colors sitting around (originally for Anouk) and she whipped up all of the crochet motifs in about a half hour. I started the bag part, but once Rae went home I lost steam. Mostly because the colors are, well, a bit vile. But I'm going to finish it. And besides, Rae just asked me about it on the phone last night.


Flower Basket Shawl from Interweave, Fall 2004
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The oldest WIP going, I started it last spring when I thought I'd get a jump on the Christmas knitting. It turns out that I hate knitting lace. A lot. I picked it up again this fall and didn't get much more accomplished. It is slow. It is tedious. It makes me want to eat glass. I'd be crazy to rip out all my hard work now, right? The really sad part is that people keep citing this as an easy beginner lace project. Oh the shame.


Regia Socks

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Also started last spring…a pair of toe-up magic loop socks. Much to my surprise, I loath the magic loop. I'm going to be a total wimp and finish these on dpns.

So there they are. Hopefully putting them up in the sidebar will motivate me to finish them.

January 12, 2006

Finished: Octopus Socks

Another one down! See how short the Current Projects list is getting?

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In real life they are the same size, I promise.

The Specs:
-Pattern: Priscilla's Dream Socks by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts, from Interweave Knits, Fall 2000 (also in the subscriber-only portion of their website)
-Size: Men's medium [76 sts]. This is why I don't join sock exchanges...
-Yarn: KnitPicks Color Your Own, dyed by me
-Skeins: Nearly an entire 100g skein (2g left over—I didn’t run out!)
-Needles: size 1 and 2 bamboo dpns
-Start to finish: Sometime last summer - January 10.
-For: Me!

Notes: I knitted a strand of sewing thread into the heel to increase the durability of the merino and make them last a little longer. I'm not sure how much good it'll do, but I thought I'd give it a shot. The yarn isn't superwash and they don't really fit inside any of my shoes, so I'm not sure how much I'll wear them. They are my favorite colors though, so I'll probably wear them around the house.

How would I rate them?
Practicality - 3
Cuteness - 10
Final score - 6.5

Oh, and after reading Knitting Iris' post on fading kool-aid dyed socks, I think I'm going to steam these just in case I didn't set the dye properly. The first sock (the one that I knitted last summer) already looks like it's faded a little bit.

P.S. DWTS is on tonight! Keep voting for Jonathan and Anna! If you missed last week's show, you can see the video clips here.

January 11, 2006

Who's got the button?

For those of you out there who like these things...you can now stick me in your sidebar.

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You know the rules.

Question: why is there no standard blog button size? Or am I just not in on the secret?

January 9, 2006

More Demi and some Swatches

I haven't forgotten about Demi, see? I'm into the armhole shaping.

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Things are cruising along slowly but surely...I'm still pretty chained to the chart so I really only work on her at home. My only concern is that she might be knitting up a bit on the narrow side, but I'm trusting that a good blocking* will straighten things out.

By tomorrow I should have some finished Octo-Socks to show you. Aside from that, things have been a bit slow on the knitting front. I'm still regrouping from Christmas (read: doing all the stuff I put off so that I could knit presents). I also spent a good chunk of this weekend shopping and making plans for redoing the living room which, if you remember my knitting spot shot, is currently a bit dismal. This is what I've got so far:

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-The background fabric is one of the set of curtains I found this weekend at Urban Outfitters.
-The pictures (still frameless) are the Owl Notecards by Susie Ghahremani from her shop at boygirlparty.com.
-The fabric swatches are for this couch (green for the sofa, hounds tooth for the throw pillows). We're also still trying to figure out if we should get the matching chair or if we should find a different one.

I think that should brighten things up a bit! Now I just have to be patient, as it will take 6 weeks for the sofa to arrive. I guess I'll just have to knit to pass the time...

*in case you're curious, I decided to return the blocking board. The store we ordered it from is being very nice about it so far.

January 3, 2006

Christmas Wrapup

I promise, this will be the last Christmas post until...well, probably next August. I'll need to get started that early as I seem to be incurably ambitious when it comes to Christmas Knitting.

So how did the whole Christmas knitting thing pan out?

Finished (on time):
-Pop's Vest
-Mum's Laurent
-O's Trellis
-Lou's Socks
-Ross' Beanie

Running Behind:
-Thunk's Sweater. It's still sitting forlornly next to the couch. I got a little disillusioned with this one when I blocked it and things grew in unexpected ways, so I was more than happy to abandon it when Thunk decided that it was more important to finish O's Trellis. The new goal is to have this one finished by T's birthday, which is February 8 (I think). That should give me plenty of time (I hope).

And I've neglected to show you the knitterly things that my lovely family gave me for Christmas:

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They are: Knitticisms, Handknit Holidays*, Knitting on the Road, Yarn Harlot: the secret life of a knitter, Alterknits, a pretty tape measure, yarn cutter, Lantern Moon needles, and a scarf and tam knitted by Thunk's Grandma Betty. Oh yes, and a blocking board! That would be Thunk's doing.

One question for all of you blocking board owners out there. On one end of my board, the grid pattern is poorly printed. A comparison: Nice end. Not as nice end. Is this normal? Should I return it? For what they cost I was hoping for something a little bit nicer. What do you think?

p.s. I was wrong. DWTS is on tonight (not last night). Vote for Jonathan and Anna!

*Just to eliminate any confusion--I removed the dust jacket from Handknit Holidays. I didn't get some secret edition of the book with a different cover.

January 2, 2006

A short little meme

Angela very kindly tagged me for the Knitting Spot Meme way back on December 8. This was right before I was swallowed up by the Holiday Knitting Vortex. This meme does not appear to have any rules, which is nice.

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That would be my living room. Yes, indeed. Noteworthy Items:

-cd/tape player. I listen to thousands of audio books. If the public library stopped carrying books on tape I would have to stop knitting. I'm always on the prowl for new ideas...does anybody have any favorites? I'm willing to give anything a try as long as it isn't too depressing or bloody.
-Laptop. The source of many things Elliphantom.
-Octosock the second. On the needles, folks. I'm now up to the heel.

I'm going to tag Lyn, Julia, and Wendie.

p.s. Don't forget to watch the premiere of DWTS tomorrow night. Why? To support Thunk's brother and sister-in-law, of course! (end of shameless plug)