Monday, July 27, 2015

Need New Snack Reading

The Philosopher and I had a bookish afternoon. First we wandered over to the public library to look at the giant cookbook section. He wants to do more every other week cooking and I want to do more with the crockpot that isn't me defaulting back to a couple of standard recipes.  Not that there's anything wrong with a pot of Calico Beans.

Afterwards we swung through Barnes and Noble for something he needed. I headed over to the mystery section.

I'm a cozy mystery reader. Have been pretty regularly since sixth grade when a Scholastic Book Fair flyer included one of the Cat Who mysteries by Lilian Jackson Braun. In retrospect, I'm amazed that it was--I can't imagine that flying with a lot of parents now--but I read them by the pound and listened to them on audiobook, mostly on tape. I remember when they tried to switch away from George Guidall reading and the flatout uprising of the readers--so they ended up going back to him. I have at least most of the books in well worn paperback, I'm not sure I bothered with the last 5-6. Someone really should have just refused to publish those.

Anyway, Sibling-the-Elder got me into Donna Andrews' books, which have a bird theme and I read and re-read those regularly. I started reading Emily Brightwell's Mrs. Jeffries because they were next to Lilian Jackson Braun's books at the public library. And somehow I got sucked into the Southern Cousin books by Peggy Webb--probably the covers. They're absolutely silly but they work for me.

I haven't found another series though of late that I enjoyed. I am not interested in new-bed-partner-of-the-book, which seemed to be where several authors were headed. I tried a couple of knitting ones but the last one had the woman barely past a garter stitch scarf and was painfully obnoxious.  If I'm reading for a theme, I don't mind being expected to be a bit past beginner knowledge, even if I don't fully understand, context clues should be enough.

So I ask--do you have a favorite cozy mystery author? Something funny is preferable.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Stealth Knitting

As the majority of the people who get knitted things from me either do not live nearby or know about them in advance, it's not often that I have stealth knitting.  Sure, the Incredibly-Patient-Mother knows that some of the socks that appear here might end up in her gift box at a holiday but which of the dozen pairs I crank out of the year (yes, I'm far behind this year) remains to be seen, so hopefully it's still a fun surprise. I refuse to stealth knit for the Philosopher.

But occasionally something comes up where I know a person might see the pictures on Twitter or Facebook and I want it to be a surprise. 

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That was the case with the Logwood Shawl by verybusymonkey. I wanted to surprise my board liaison, who is rolling off after two very solid years of collaborating with me on our national committee. And since she also lurks around Ravelry (she does a lot of code work for Custom Fit), I couldn't say much about it there.

How to Stealth Knit a Shawl?

1. Set aside yarn that the person has mentioned liking. (There's a method to posting all my yarn pictures, people sometimes will self-identify for things that end up in their mailboxes)

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In this case it was Lisa Souza's Hardtwist Merino Petite in the Augustine Colorway. It *glows* in direct sunlight.  My pictures don't do it justice.

2. Realize you have about a month to get it knit and start frantically knitting.

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3. Block it the night before you leave for conference, praying that it will be dry by 5 a.m. when you have to get up and leave for the airport.  Turn the overhead fan it's sitting under on high, worry that the fan will rock itself out of the ceiling.

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4. Hand it over on the last day of conference. :)

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Yup I know, lousy picture. It was 5 a.m.

Each of the smaller shots gives you some detail that is in the border, which was not the easiest--I couldn't memorize it and that meant staring at a chart and using a row counter. It's well written though and I really enjoyed it.  And hopefully it'll brighten up her winter wear this year--she's in the Boston area and I imagine all of her winter gear got quite worn last year.  


Thursday, July 9, 2015

Stained Glass Hat

It comes as no surprise that I finished up that hat I was making out of Mrs. Crosby Hat Box long before I finished the Baby blanket I was supposed to be working on, does it?

It'd have been done even faster but I ripped back to the brim once to try and sort out the slipped stitches that make up the majority of the hat. I still am not 100% sure what I'm not doing correctly, but the slipped stitches don't appear to be spiraling the way that they should.

Pattern for reference link: frais

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I'm not sure if it's that it is a slightly thicker, rounder yarn or it it's PEBKAN (problem exists between knitter and needles), though I'm inclined towards the latter. I tried knitting into the front and back of the slipped stitches, neither seemed to be working properly so at some point I just gave up and knit the rest of the hat.

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Ultimately, I think it turned out to be a very cute hat, long enough to be over the ears and the folded hem gives extra warmth without a folded up brim that stretches out on first wearing.

I do think that I did a little better on the brim:

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And of course I'm still enchanted with Mrs. Crosby and the Toucan colorway in particular.

This added another 180 yards to my Stash Dash total, which is slowly growing. Must keep the pace up for another six weeks!!


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A Long Spice Route

I finished up my first Knit-Up-Some-Wollmeise project!!  The Spice Route scarf, which a number of people chimed in to like, was knit up out of Amazonas. My research partner Lisa suggested that color and I think it turned out quite nicely.

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The finished scarf is about 6' long by 10" wide? Ish? I didn't measure carefully but it's 7 blocking mats and a smidge.

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The blocking isn't as exciting, but the close ups give you a better sense.



Dropping all of the stitches at the end was fun.  Wollmeise isn't a particularly sticky yarn, certainly moreso than anything with silk or tencel but I'd get 10-15 stitches dropping at a pull, so it widened out quickly.
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I've got about 200 yards left from the skein, those 150g put ups are very generous, and I'm thinking about matching mitts to go with this scarf. Somewhere around here I printed a pattern, but I'm not sure where it went.

How long do you think it was after I walked away from blocking the scarf that certain little furry people went and sat on it? 5 seconds? 10?

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Underestimating, but done.

It's a good thing when you over estimate how much yarn a project will need, for while leftovers do build it, a half an extra ball is far more welcome than running out on the bindoff. But when a baby blanket you thought would take 20 skeins only takes 13 and you're in the middle of Stash Dash 2015, you might be slightly less thrilled.

That said, I am very pleased that P's baby blanket was finished in the wee hours of Sunday morning, her baby shower of course having been midday on Sunday.




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The pattern is the Log Cabin Baby Blanket from the first Mason Dixon book (which I really must buy one of these days).  The colors were Flamingo, Peony, Pomegranate and Blackberry.  Pomegranate seems to be everyone's favorite color, it's a wonderful jewel-tone.  The yarn is Knit Picks Comfy, which I do like for baby things. Super soft cotton/acrylic and goes through the washer wonderfully, though it did floof a lot in the dryer.

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It was washed, dried, and wrapped quickly before certain furry felines could come and see what was up.  It ended up taking 1,342 yards, 12.32 skeins-- granted that's assuming all of them were 50 grams and I found a couple that were 52-53, so your yardage may vary. I also only did about 40 ridges on Block 10 (the purple/pink that the top) rather than 54, mostly because I was running out of time and steam.

And that knocks another 20% of my Stash Dash out of the way, though it isn't the near 40% I'd hoped for if I'm aiming for 5K.  But this does mean I feel a little less guilty about not shooting for 10K, I do have to have a smidgen of sanity left by the end of summer.

I hope P's baby gets a lot of use rolling around and playing on it.  We're looking forward to meeting her in about 6 more weeks.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Around and Around

Would you believe I only ended up bringing 2 knitting projects for the weekend? After I posted last I decided that I didn't really believe that my luggage would make my connections and in the interest  of having the dress I wanted to wear to my Saturday presentation and other such things, I opted to only bring what would fit in a carry on bag that I usually prefer for overnight trips.

My roommate C told me when she arrived she was concerned that she couldn't find the rest of my luggage.

But that means limiting my knitting and so I went with the giant gray shawl that I started at Amy's suggestion and a skein of Dream in Color Starry in the Tea Party colorway (wonderfully rich dark browns) that I'll start on a Gingko Biloba shawl as time permits.

Conferences of course being what they are, there's been less time to knit than planned but I'm most of the way through the 2nd skein on the project. I also wound another skein on the plane. I really need to get my skein winder set up at home again.  I like winding by hand but not this much.

This morning I moved the project to a 40" needle. It was doing okay on the 24" circular but I was noticing it start to get a bit tight and as I had some quiet time here in my room, it seemed like a good time to make the transition. You can see how the spiral is developing.



The pattern is the Vortex Shawl and it's very easily memorized, only a two row repeat. At the rate I'm going, which isn't very fast in reality, I think I'll be on skein 4 of 5 by the time I get home late Tuesday.

I have been rather disappointed with the put ups of the yarn. I'm using Louet Gems, which is a base I've liked for a long time. This batch is over five years old--but every single skein has at least one if not multiple places where one or both plies have been felted together and at least one knot. These are small skeins-- 285 yards and so it's annoying to know I'm going to have to have far more than the ten ends that I planned to need to weave in.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

On the Verge

I have become convinced that I can knit 3 large shawls, finish a pair of socks, and knock out a hat in 5 days.

Can you tell I'm about to travel?

I'm headed out to San Francisco on Friday, the Philosopher remains behind at Chez Hedgehog with the felines. And while I'm woefully underprepared in the packing, getting a manicure, and most of the other things I need to arrange before flying out, I do have travel snacks and apparently now I have some idea what knitting I'm taking.

I realized last night that I'd not started planning my travel knitting--probably because I've had more travel than usual and thus the anticipation of being away doesn't have the novelty it usually does. But here will be two long days of flying (I have a 40 minute connection in LAX, who wants to bet Chicago weather doesn't let me get through that?).  And a conference to attend in the middle, though there I will be running about being Madame Chairwoman and trying to pin down an errant research partner. I know better than to truly believe that will give me much knitting time.

I can hope though, can't I?  My roommate C won't mind if I need her bed Monday night to block one of the two newly finished shawls (the other one blocking on my bed of course), right?

I say all of this as my travel knitting presently looks like this:


Yup, all still in skein format, haven't even wound it yet--though I'm nearly done with one of the little grey skeins.  

I also have my bin of needles in by my desk, that's the other challenge of the evening, figuring out what needles I need for which project and saying very loud prayers that the four patterns I've picked (yes, four) don't all actually need the same needles.  I'd at least like some variety on this trip.

What do you think, two shawls for the flight out?  Oh, and the sock that is still bouncing around my purse?

P.S. I have finished a hat and the Wollmeise scarf that I've been puttering away on, also some super sekrit knitting, but that all has to be blocked before it's ready for prime time.