Thursday, August 27, 2009

New Design: High-Temp Hemp

I'm pleased, proud, and all-around excited to introduce a new pattern to the online knitting world: High-Temp Hemp, a special celebration of the summer heat.

Hemp fiber is an ideal match for Texas summers, when temperatures regularly hang out at 103 (39.5 Celsius). It’s tough and lightweight; it softens to the touch after a good wash; and it has a memory to rival that of wool. Unfortunately, hemp isn’t a fiber that gets a lot of design support outside of market bags and washcloths. What’s needed are patterns that take advantage of hemp’s unique qualities but can still converse with current fashion trends.

This triangular shawl consists mainly of a loose stockinette, which compensates for hemp’s rough texture on your hands while knitting. The regular, narrow stripes create an even visual structure to balance the uneven look that hemp naturally gives stockinette. At the edge is a modified feather-and-fan stitch pattern whose gentle curve softens the overall look. I chose neutral colors with low contrast as an answer to the harshness of the summer heat.

I am testing the waters of pattern sales, and here's my experiment: the first twenty-five downloads will be free. After that, the pattern will be available for only $1.99 through Ravelry. Tell your friends! But first, grab yourself a free copy before the weekend hits.

EDIT: Holy smokes! Those free twenty-five went FAST! I'm flattered and thrilled, and I can't wait to see what folks come up with when they start to knit.

Leave a comment if you run into tech/knitting problems, and I'll respond straight away.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

FO: Cozy Hand Warmers

aka, More Stash-busting!

My mother and I joined an enjoyable yarn crawl in the fall of 2007 that toured several shops around Central Texas. She and I also amassed quite the collection of random, one-ball freebies. This ever-so-seldom, rarer-than-a-bloody-steak urge I'm having right now to stash-bust lead me finally to finish off one of these freebie balls.

pattern: Cozy Hand Warmers by Joelle Hoverson, in Last-Minute Knitted Gifts, also found here for free.
completed: August 16, 2009.
yarn: Tahki Yarns New Tweed (silk, cotton, rayon, merino; 92 y; color 036; 1 ball).
made for: a silent charity auction, to benefit a group participating in the Four Corners Native American Ministry of the UMC (basically, building repair on the Navajo Reservation). They brought in a whopping $5, but since the yarn was free...
needles: size 5 bamboo DPNs.
notes: I went down a needle size for a more snug fit. Also note that I changed the direction of the ribbing for the second glove; the light hits it funny here, but it's all just 2x2 rotating ribbing.

In order to kill off an entire ball of yarn, I knit down from the top on each, stopping the first glove when I got to half the ball (thank you, kitchen scale) and knitting the second glove until I polished off the ball. It wound up being I think 30 rows after you close up the thumb opening. The yarn is vanquished.

Oh, and do you like these glove-blockers? They actually weren't for blocking, I just decided I needed something to show shoppers at the auction what on earth these things are (they don't look like much on their own). I used the cardboard backing from a legal pad, traced one hand, cut it out, then used that as the pattern for the other hand reversed. I stylized them a bit by intentionally cutting inside the lines on the first "hand."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Sorting Hat Cometh

And not quickly enough!

I have a new obsession. It engages my unavoidable competitive spirit in a fun atmosphere, offers the possibility for (limited) fame and glory, and... involves knitting!


The Harry Potter Knitting and Crochet House Cup Group (hereafter referred to as the HPKCHC Group) is gearing up for their fourth term. I only just learned about it on Wednesday and I joined right away.

It took me a couple days of studying the FAQ and asking a few questions to figure out which way was up, but here's the gist: You sign up with a Google form and state your preferences for which house you'll be sorted into. (Cross your fingers for me: I come from a long line of respectable Ravenclaws.) Sign-ups end midnight on August 28, and some remarkable volunteers will take care of the sorting.

Some other remarkable volunteers are acting as teachers of the six classes to be offered for the next three months. Each month, every teacher assigns a project along a theme relating to their class. (For example, the Herbology professor might assign a project made out of bamboo one month. You pick the pattern, etc.) You earn points for your house by posting a photo of a completed project before the end of the month, and after looking through some FOs from past "terms," I gotta tell you, there are some very creative knitters playing this game.

Teachers nominate projects for special recognition, and you can even win actual donated prizes from this.

The term starts September 1, and I am so excited that I'm crazy-stupid-excited.

Go sign up if it interests you! It offers an excellent stash-busting opportunity and a great chance to show off your creativity to what looks like a very fun sub-sub-sub-community.

(Plus I want more people to dork-out with.)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Great Stash-Bust of 2009, pt. 2

I have about an hour to burn after work before I meet a friend/fellow playwright for dinner. I decided to complement my current stash-busting craze with a handwritten list of all projects from my queue for which I currently own all required supplies -- no yarn purchases allowed.

I have 44 projects on my list.

If you eliminate the overlap (only one skein of Seasilk available, but two patterns that call for it), that number only goes down to 40.

Dear. Me.

I'd better get crackin'.

Here's a sample list, along with their yarn-buddies:

Tangled Yoke Cardigan with some Rowan Felted Tweed (Thanks, Mom! Love you!)
Honeybunch with a skein of pale blue Knit Picks Alpaca Cloud
Winecozy from some old Gedifra Fashion Trend Stripe
Yellow Ladders Purse (in blue) with some novelty yarn frogged from an old scarf
Habitat from a skein of Malabrigo Worsted

In other news: I decided the Knit Picks Palette in Mint was valuable enough to warrant an actual ebay auction. If you're interested, check it out here.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Design: on the horizon

Look at what I'm cooking up.

The pattern is written up and needs a quick edit, a quick layout, and some pictures. I'm releasing it myself, and I'll offer it free for a limited time.

I'm excited to show it to you. I finished blocking on Friday, and I've worn it out three times since. Easily the most useful FO in my collection!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Great Stash-Bust of 2009

Last night I felt the powerful urge to sort through my stash. My husband was safely ensconced in a series of Call of Duty II death matches, and I thought it would be safe.

Wouldn't you know it, but the guy just had to get up and get a drink of water and then decide, "Wouldn't this be a nice time to throw away this crumpled-up paper towel, which will take me within view of the doorway to the room where my wife is sorting through her stash?"

Crap. Now he knows. He even let out a yelp when he saw it all spread out on the floor.

Fortunately, I was already trying to figure out what bits need to move on. Click here for the Flickr group of stash yarns for resale. You can also check out my page of trade/sell yarns on Ravelry. Below is a sampling of the wares, including some Knit Picks Palette and a couple hand-dyed yarns:

I'm hoping to expand this list and hopefully add some more quality yarns to the batch, so please check back in the next few days, and email me at lizcobbeATgmail-DHAT-com if any of these look attractive to you.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A Day of Small Victories

You know how I love my lists.

1. At roughly 2 p.m. this afternoon, my s9 Travian alliance smoked a regular attacker who was trying to farm my village. And when I say smoked, I mean to say we lost 800 troops and he lost 1500 troops, plus catapults, in the first round, and catapults in two successive attacks with a total of 37 catas lost, and over 400 cavalry lost. I even made the top 10 defenders of the week. Am I a dork? Sure. Did I get a thrill akin to sniping an ebay auction for a handpainted lace merino-bamboo blend? Heck, yes.

2. This evening I attended Scottish Rite Theatre's opening night of As You Like It. I wasn't assigned to review it (good show, guys!). But I was specifically invited to attend, so I thought I should go anyway. Beforehand, I was sort of mopey about it -- it's like going to work voluntarily. But then I showed up, I saw that they had free wine, and I realized the bonus that comes with attending a show but not reviewing it.

Boy, oh boy. Shakespeare is, like, totally backwards when you're buzzed. If you're sober, it takes 15 minutes of confusion before you understand the verse; then 15 minutes of sort-of-understanding; then you're pretty much good to go. If you've had a lot of cabernet sauvignon beforehand, you're brilliant for 15 minutes, sort of confused for a bit after that, and the rest of the show... Huh?

3. Also a bonus of not reviewing a show: I knit on a sock almost the whole time. Did they think I was rude? Perhaps. But I sure did have a nice time with my cabernet sauvignon buzz and my chino cool sock. And I've always liked that Rosalind speech to Phoebe about her market value.

4. At intermission, I was stretching my legs past a table with lots of attractive goodies on it. Someone in charge walked by and asked how many raffle tickets they'd sold.

"Only three so far!" said the lady.

"Three?" I reviewed the table. The tickets were only $2. I had $2.

Mind you, I never win raffles. Ever! Do you know how many knitting blog contests I've entered? Do you know? I have entered so many contests. I never win any of them. I never win poopy poop poop. No lottery tickets (obviously), no door prizes, no drawings, no nothing.

Guess who won tonight?

If the odds are good enough, even I apparently stand a chance of winning a $40 gift certificate to Botticelli's and a $20 gift certificate to Downstairs Apparel. Date night!

5. To round things up, here's a picture of the sock. No, that's not As You Like It, of course. That's a husband-preferred viewing of Die Hard II as John McClane voluntarily leaps into danger. "Nobody sends out McClane!" he informed me tonight. "McClane sends McClane."

Yipee-kie-yay, Mr. Finch.

So not necessarily my triumph, but the fella tells me he wanted so much to watch a Die Hard movie tonight, and there was one. Plus, he bought a peach pie from Whole Foods.

A rather nice day, don't you think?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Confessions: A Queue Problem

I know how this must sound, but...

Do you ever get to a point where you look through your Ravelry queue of 356 patterns and think, "I have nothing to knit"?