Monthly Archives: February 2008

Kitty kompanion

Dear Beatrice
(also occasionally known as Beez or Miss Beatrice, or ‘snookums’, or sometimes ‘cutesy-woo’)

Thanks for being such an awesome kitty and purr-iffic roomie the last six months. In a few days your regular humans will return and I shall leave you and your house and you’ll eventually remember that they are your regular humans and not me, and that will all be fine.

Just remember that I’m the one that made you knitted cat toys and that garter log cabin blanket that you like to nap on so much.

Yours,
Glenna.

P.S. You’re a pretty awesome knitter’s cat, even if you did scare me by almost eating yarn that one time. ::scratches ears::

P.P.S. I still get to cuddle you for a couple more days.

P.P.P.S. I’ll be sure to come visit lots.

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When one fair isle project just isn’t enough.

So, yeah. I’m totally cheating on Venezia.

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I’ll return to you, Venezia, I’ll totally go back to you tomorrow night, I swear. It’s not my fault that ‘Glowing’ goes so fast on larger needles and is so bright it makes me forget the white and grey of the outside world even exists. Sure, you do that too, but less with the instant gratification factor.

This is my progress after a couple of evenings’ work on the ‘Glowing’ hooded pullover from Inspired Fair Isle Knits by Fiona Ellis. I seized the idea about a month ago when I was rifling through the sale bin at Spun in Burlington and found several skeins of Mission Falls 1824 in different shades. They were marked down for being the last one or two skeins in a few different dye lots and I snatched ‘em up. Then I came back home with them and compared the shades to the ones required for the ‘Glowing’ pattern and realized they were a match. I filled out the rest with a precision strike at Romni during their February sale, and then went to the Purple Purl for the many many main colour skeins (raspberry pink).

I actually started this last week then had to rip out and re-start when I realized my gauge was absolutely laughable and the seed stitch hem was flipping up to the point of rolling. I up-sized the needles, did a few rows of single rib instead of the seed stitch, and I was good to go. It’s bright, sunny, and is moving pretty briskly so far.

(Just don’t tell Venezia.)

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Knitting is my therapy

It’s only Monday and I’m already having one of those weeks where I want to hide under the covers and whimper and hope some source of stress magically goes away while I’m under there. (Stupid thesis revisions that I stupid still have to finish and stupid course that I stupid still have to write lectures for and stupid snow day we could have had tomorrow until the weather report changed and stupid dishes that won’t stupid wash themselves and and why is it almost March already and and and and and…)

So even though I have already had a late-afternoon bagel (all the cream cheese talk really got into my brain) and then dinner when I came home, I am still contemplating the dessert options. Specifically, the leftovers from Saturday’s cheesecake endeavour:

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I decided to do a half-cheesecake recipe with 1 of the cream cheese packages, and saved the 2nd for eating with pepper jelly (I’ve had a jar kicking around since the holidays). But all the recipe suggestions you folks gave me last time nearly had me hurtling to the nearest grocery store for more cream cheese and everything else required to make the recipes. But as it is I went for the things most likely to use up other things in the kitchen, and this Smitten Kitchen recipe fit the bill. Instead of mango slices I mixed some strawberries and chopped mango because that’s what was available at the store. As my friend Trevor said, this cake is dangerous because it tastes like it’s good for you. The lime flavour in the cheesecake and in the fruit syrup sort of infiltrate into the whipped cream and you forget that there is anything in there that has grams of fat. it’s SO GOOD.

You know what else is good? Venezia. She is beautiful. I haven’t knitted on her in a few days but hope to do a few rounds tonight. Here’s where she’s at now:

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I’ll be honest. I’m 99% sure I should have switched the garnet heather (dark red) with the merlot heather (brown), but now that it’s taken on a bit of length, I think I’m OK with it. I’m not annoyed enough with it to rip back, and even though the colour values aren’t quite the same as the original Venezia colour scheme, it still looks like a damn gorgeous tapestry and I’m OK with that.

And lo, the knitting calls to me. I’m going to go enjoy the last hour or two of my evening.
Keep the knitting close by!

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Filed under baking, venezia

I have questions

Does anyone have answers?

1. If you had 2 packages of cream cheese in your fridge, what would you make with them? (Besides cream cheese icing. My brain needs new suggestions.) [EDIT]: And would your suggestion change if whipping cream were added to the equation? Because I have that too.

2. Is it wrong that I am planning to cast on a 2nd fair-isle sweater while still working on Venezia?

3. Further to #2, how many sweater projects is too many? Because I have startitis like burning, and so much procrastination just waiting to get out.

4. In my next set of Korknisse (Korknisses?) I am planning a colour-palette theme. Reds/Oranges, or Blues/Purples?

5. Exactly what proportion of YouTube is filled with clips from ‘So You Think You Can Dance’? I’m guessing upwards of 80%. ;)

Happy Friday!

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Filed under random, real life miscellaney

Memememe

Lisa was ever so kind to tag me on a ‘Seven Things About You’ Meme, and by the laws of the internet, I must obey!

However, I am breaking the rule about tagging specific people. Consider yourself tagged! Hah! Yes, you over there in the corner, that includes you. Your Seven Random Things, I must read them. Here are mine for today:

1. Even though I’ve tried all sorts of different cupcake recipes, my favourite is still chocolate cake with vanilla icing.

2. Before I was a totally obsessed knitter, I was a beader. I don’t think my technique was anything spectacular, and I think ultimately I am happier with knitting, but I took to beading with the same project-oriented-ness that I now take to knitting. I amassed a decent-sized bead stash, thanks in large part to the Queen St. wholesalers in Toronto (Hi, Arton Beads! I still love you even though I visit Romni Wools down the street more often.)

The advantage with beads, though, is you can have thousands of them and they’ll still all fit in a Rubbermaid Bin with room to spare. The other week my brain just snapped with the February-ness of it all (You know, when you sort of forget that there was a time when you wore something besides your winter coat and every single knitted thing you own, before going outside), and I went back to the beads for a spell. Came out with a few necklaces and then went on this past weekend to make a few sets of stitch markers. It’s super useful to be able to do that. Stitch markers really are like knitting jewelry.

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3. After coming to it late on DVD, I am a huge fan of the cancelled-too-early-thanks-to-stupid-FOX-network show ‘Firefly’. I occasionally contemplate taking up sewing just so I can make a Firefly costume. (I’ll let you guess which character. Hey man, a show with 4 whole female characters to choose from! Awesome!).

4. I’ve been in a real reading rut lately. I love novels but haven’t been able to snap back into reading one at bed for a few months. Instead I’ve been reading knitting books.

5. Beatrice the Cat is only mine temporarily. I’m just minding her house while her regular humans are away. Unfortunately my time with her comes to an end in March, though, so she’ll have to find someone else’s knitted goods to claim as her own.

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(She really is a sweetie-poo. That’s good sock flattery right there.)

6. Like possibly most of Canada, I am really hoping Ellen Page wins the Best Actress Oscar on Sunday. Unfortunately, I’ve become so tired of the Hollywood film industry in general that I probably won’t watch the ceremony. (Just count how often the Best Actress nominees reflect Best Picture nominations. Then do the same for the Best Actor nominees. I’ll wait. Then judge for yourself just how feminist the film industry is.)

7. My favourite snack or light meal for any time of day is whole wheat toast with melted white cheddar cheese. And tea.

Tag! You’re it!

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Filed under cats, meme

Weekend Report

The best weekends are when knitting friends come to visit. Rebecca (who generously hosted me for Rhinebeck last October) had to come up to Toronto last week for work, and then stuck around a couple of extra days to hang here in Hamilton. She’d even saved up her yarn-buying just for the weekend trip back to the T-Dot on Saturday, and we did pretty well by visiting 3 yarnish stops: Lettuce Knit, Romni, and finishing up at the Purple Purl.

On the way, though, Martha requested a stop at IKEA to take advantage of the Mattress Sale. While she browsed the mattresses, I, um, ‘tested’ an armchair and knitted away on my Rib and Cable Sock (in Mountain Colors Bearfoot, pattern from Interweave Knits, Fall 2005)

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And then in the warehouse I found some absolutely knitting-tastic pencil-cases (in a bin with similar cases for CDs and cell phones), which were about 8 inches long and absolutely perfect for knitting notions. I bought 2 and have fully deployed one for portable use:

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By the time we made it to the Purple Purl we were thrilled to be able to sit and ponder and knit and look at books. (Oh yes indeed, I bought yarn – more on that later on). We sat…

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I brought cupcakes…

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Martha looked at a copy of ‘Victorian Lace Today’ which sort of broke her brain…

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And I knitted on Venezia.

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Good times. Too bad it’s Monday again!

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Filed under knitting in public, knitting tourism, socks, venezia, yarn stores

Yarn is My Valentine

Happy Valentine’s Day! (Or, Happy Singleton Awareness Day, as one of my friends likes to say… ;) )

Beatrice would like to register that, if at all possible, Valentine’s Day is best celebrated with a nap, a bath, and a nice play with your toys.

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I am inclined to agree.

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I’ve had this pile gradually accumulating for ages – the “stuff I want to use next-ish” pile of mostly sock yarn.

It includes the 2nd of 2 purple skeins of Briggs & Little Super that would like to be a nice chunky hat, a beautiful hand-dyed skein of sock yarn from Kate, a lovely stacked pile of Socks That Rock Jasper and Peacock, and a DK skein of Shelridge Farms Soft Touch Ultra, a Fleece Artist kit that has been waiting and waiting to become a pair of thrummed mittens, the two leftover bits from my Socks That Rock knee-highs of my last post, one half of a Mountain Colors Bearfoot in a nice magenta (the other half is currently in use on the needles, though yet to be photographed), a bright green skein and a bright blue skein of sock yarn from the Sweet Sheep Sock Club of the fall which are far too bright for me for regular use but are waiting to be combined with other things…such as that Shelridge Farms purple right next to them.

Now if only there wasn’t stupid real WORK hanging over my head…

I think I’ll just look at the yarn for a little bit longer. Happy Valentine’s Day, blogosphere! Be sure to tell your yarn how much you love it. Heh heh. ;)

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Filed under cats, stash

More, please

Korknisse notwithstanding, I had about 2 weeks of project monotony in the end of January and beginning of February. It was good for me, because I produced these:

Garnet Dreams Knee Socks

They might look like regular (albeit pretty) socks, but no. They are very much more than regular socks. These are the things that will help me get through the cold winter long before they get the chance to look pretty with a nice skirt, come springtime. These are keeping the cold draft from flying up my pant leg and chilling me to the core. (Well, that along with a knitted sweater). These are knee-highs. Ta-da! The first finished project from my Rhinebeck 2007 purchases.

Garnet Dreams Knee Socks

Pattern: None. A personalized process which I will discuss below.
Yarn: Socks that Rock Mediumweight, ‘Garnet Dreams’, 2 skeins (used approximately 3/4 of each one)
Needles: 3.0mm DPNs
Notes: These contain elastic thread knitted into the cuff, as is my preference – I think every pair of knee socks I make will continue to have elastic in the cuff, it keeps ‘em sturdy and staying up where you need them. Elastic + leg shaping is my anti-slouch plan.

Someone asked me a little while ago what pattern I was using to make these, and there isn’t one. Anyone can make a pair of knee socks, just like anyone can make a regular pair of socks to fit their own feet. All you need is a gauge swatch, a tape measure, and your leg. There are already places online where you can find detailed instructions for stockinette knee socks (such as here), but the gist of what you need to know is this:

a) measure your leg circumference at the widest point of the calf in inches. Multiply this number by your number of sts/inch (according to your swatch), then subtract 1-2 inches’ worth of stitches (negative ease helps them fit and stay up). This is the # of stitches you will knit at the upper leg. Subtract a dozen or two sts from this number, and that’s how many you’ll use for the ribbing to cast on. (I used 88 sts for the leg, increasing just after the ribbing from a cast-on 76 sts, for this weight – BUT if you are using lighter yarn this may change. It is always better to err on the side of snug than loose, in all measurements with knee highs.)

b) measure your leg length from the top of your heel to the back of your knee, above the widest point of your calf. This is approximately how long your sock needs to be, not counting the inch or so of ribbing at the top cuff. I say “approximately”, because depending on your amount of negative ease, there will likely be some horizontal stretch and you’ll need to add an inch or so to keep the sock at its intended length while it is actually on your leg. (My sock length is 14.5 ins.)

For both the leg and foot, it is better to err on the side of too LONG than too short. If the leg or foot is too short, it will pull down as you wear the sock, and you’ll be constantly tugging them up to keep from falling down.

c) measure your leg circumference at your ankle, multiply by your number of sts/inch, then subtract 1-2 inches for negative ease. This is the number of stitches you want to arrive at for your ankle. If you’ve made stockinette socks before in regular length, you probably already have a good idea what you want this number to be, given the weight of yarn you’ll be using. (I used 56 sts since this is a heavier sock yarn. Usually I use 64 sts.)

There’s one more thing here, and it should be pretty obvious given how those socks are swooshing and pooling the colours in different ways at different points on the leg. There is, of course, shaping. You have to decrease from the number of stitches in (a) to the number of stitches in (c), starting after the widest point of your leg and ending by the time you get to the ankle. My shaping follows the yellow line in the image below, according to the shape of my own leg:

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For me, for this weight of yarn, I would knit evenly in stockinette for about 4 inches after the cuff, then decrease 2 stitches (at the “back” of the leg) every 4 rows 5-6 times, then every 3 rows for the rest of the decreases. If I was using a slightly smaller gauge I would probably do all my decreases every 4 rows. Then, this still leaves me with a few inches of even stockinette to hug my leg around the ankle. Your leg may be different, though – you might want to do your shaping in a way that stops almost directly at the ankle itself, depending on the shape of your leg.

[EDIT]: Oh yeah, and one more thing: try the sock on OFTEN. This is key. It’s better to know that you need to add a bit of extra length or re-start the shaping a bit earlier or work the decreases a bit farther apart before, say, you finish the entire sock. I try mine on 3 or 4 times throughout the whole process. Then just use the 1st sock as a guideline for the 2nd.

After that, the rest involves the same set of decisions you’d make for any other sock – what kind of heel? (I used the flap. Definitely love the sturdy flap heel) What kind of toe? How long to make the foot? How to stave off boredom of knitting more and more stockinette? Ah yes, such a lovely nuanced decision-making opportunity, socks are. All in all, this is the sort of thing that takes a lot more energy to explain than to actually execute. And I fully plan on having more custom-fit knee socks entering into my closet!

Garnet Dreams Knee Socks

More, more, more please.
Stay warm!

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Filed under fearless knitting, finished object: socks, free pattern, knee socks, socks

From the homefront

Through the aid of some anti-Trojan downlods (VundoFix and ComboFix, as it happens – my AdAware and SpyBot were darned useless), I have managed to negotiate a peace treaty with the computer viruses and have been virus-message free for a few days. I suspect this is only temporary and that the mind-wipe will need to happen after a matter of time, but for the moment I am pleased to have some progress at any rate.

In other news, I promised reports on the Korknisse. While I know logically that these are meant to be representative of Scandinavian folklore, and that by rights they shouldn’t really appear in multiple colours in, say, February, as opposed to appearing in red in, say, December, these little darlings have such a disarming amount of cuteness that I cannot help but return to them.

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I can report that ten California corks were welcomed into the flock this week, and were suitably outfitted in bright and sunny hats and sweaters. They seem to be managing well in the cold with their new attire (and just as well, since we are forecast to have yet more snow this week). Currently these cork creatures number 51, and I would like to make it to 100. It’s nice to have specific and frivolous goals sometimes, you know?

Stay warm and keep the knitting close by. :)

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Filed under knitting addiction, korknisse

What karma again?

Maybe the universe was trying to tell me something yesterday when I almost abandoned my laptop for good.

Today the minor virus problems I was having lately have somehow exploded into a huge Trojan fiasco the likes of which my Symantec Anti-Virus has apparently never seen, because despite my constant upgrading the virus detection files, it can’t get rid of this horrible insiduous shit the internet has decided to dump on my computer.

The likely solution, I have been told from several sources, is to wipe and reformat the OS. Do I have my OS discs? No. That would be too easy. Either they’re still packed in some box beyond my search capabilities, or they are lost. And this is going to cost a lot more and get worse before it gets better, I can tell.

As if the struggle with blizzards and knitting ennui and Real Life Stuff To Do wasn’t enough right?

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