Saturday, December 31, 2011

Welcome 2012

Isn't the world supposed to end in 2012, according to the Mayans?

Good thing I finished my sweater vest in time for the apocalypse:

Pattern: Academia

Funny thing: my gauge didn't change one iota between the stockinette and the colorwork. The pattern uses pretty specific numbers with the assumption that your gauge will change. Imagine my surprise when I tried on the vest-in-progress and it looked like this:

I had to rework several inches. The colorwork here is a bit different than what's in the pattern. I changed the design a bit so that there are only two contrast colors, which only switch a couple times. I'm pleased with the colors I picked; the FOs I've seen suggest that getting colors that are close to one another will end up looking better than if there is a larger contrast between them.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Ever noticed how sometimes you'll be knitting in public, and you have one of those conversations with a non-knitter that goes something like...

Them: Oh! Are you knitting?
You: Yes.
Them: That's so neat. What is that, a ----- ?

But then the ----- bears no relation to what you're actually making. Like, you might be making a scarf, and they ask if you're knitting a sock. Or maybe you're making a sock monkey, and they ask if it's an afghan.

The other day at work, during a group lunch, I was working on my Academia, and my very nice coworker asked if I was making a hat. This is about what it looked like at the time of her asking (tape measure for visual reference):

I'm not sure whose head that might have fit, but whoever it is, I don't want to meet that person in a dark alley.

By the by, that pattern totally snookered me with its clever photo shoot: pretty model with a nice haircut playing a banjo with her band in Golden Gate Park. How can you lose? I have nothing but good memories of my time in Golden Gate Park. (Well, once you get west of the junkies. And not counting that one Saturday morning tai chi class that was interrupted by a couple homeless guys who got into it with each other by their tent first thing in the morning before they came staggering out from their enclave and through the oddly unaffected group of tai chi students... and I so wish somebody would put that in a movie so I could see it the way it must have looked to a bystander.)

Anyway. The pattern is seriously cute, and so far so good with the Cascade 200 Sport I'm using. Progress shots to come.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

(Culinary) Mushroom Adventures

Not long ago I happened across this nifty thing, a Back to the Roots Mushroom Kit. I didn't get any freebies from them - I saw the kit online, decided I'd take a chance and try it out. So far, it's pretty dang cool.

Day 5 Growth

These guys take used coffee grounds from a local (to them) coffeeshop and prepare them for growing mushrooms. They ship you the kit, you soak it, you spritz it with water, and blammo: you get oyster mushrooms blasting out overnight.

If you are reading this and you happen to know my father, don't tell him about it. I want to give a kit to him for his next birthday. :)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Vineyard Rows, from Hill Country Weavers

As it happens, the recent Prairie Bliss collection from Hill Country Weavers included not just one but two of my original patterns. The first was Rockabilly Soft, and the second is Vineyard Rows: so named for the textured horizontal stripes, and because that's exactly the sort of luxurious thing you might wear while touring the vineyards of the Texas Hill Country.

Thanks, Hill Country Weavers!

On a more serious note, those of you keeping one eye on the news will know that the greater Austin area spent much of Labor Day weekend burning. Fortunately, the fires have thus far spared Austin itself, but the surrounding communities have suffered immensely, especially Bastrop. Over 600 homes have been lost.

If you have spare change, please consider donating to the Red Cross of Central Texas - or barring that, your local Red Cross. These are the people who come to help those who find themselves in a terrible place without warning. We should all be good neighbors and help now, when we can.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Lesser-Known Rav Patterns

One of the pleasures of Ravelry is discovering a gem of a pattern that has few FOs. Maybe the designer didn't have the time or the desire to promote the pattern heavily - maybe it got overlooked by other publications. Regardless, I always take special delight in making a project from a great pattern that hasn't yet gotten much attention.

Also... I really love monkeys. (If you have three hours to waste, go look at the monkeys on Zoo Borns.)

Monkeying Around by Lori Sands is a quick and fairly easy crochet pattern for a baby/toddler hat. I imagine it could be converted to an adult size. I used Universal Cotton Supreme, a very soft worsted-weight cotton recommended by the fine ladies at Gauge Knits.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Rockabilly Soft, from Hill Country Weavers

Well, well, well. You may have heard there's a drought on these days here in Texas... Both our lawn and this blog have dried to a crisp in the face of severe heat and a really rough time at work.

On the upside, I'm learning all sort of things about HTML at work, including better and more nutritious ways to create line breaks and boldface type!

I do have some exciting news to share. Hill Country Weavers has now released my latest pattern: Rockabilly Soft.

Let me say something about the yarn called for in the pattern, Road to China Light from the Fibre Company: holy snot, that stuff is amazing! And did you know it has a little bit of camel mixed in? Soft, soft, soft!

It made working those colorwork sections a dream. And, by the way, take a peak at the pictures of the Western-style piping at the shoulders: I'm not telling you how I did it (you'll have to buy the pattern, natch), but I feel pretty dang smart right there. I even attended a design workshop with Shannon Okey at HCW in the spring, when I got to show off how I did it - and there was trigonometry and everything.

In the demonstration. Not the knitting. (Calculator not required.)

Anywho, I hope knitters will enjoy this pattern. It's funky and luxurious, all in one!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Growing Things

This spring, I have tried my hand at some gardening, of various sorts.

In the backyard, we have/had onions, potato plants, a strawberry plant, rosemary, and tomatoes. Mostly, my crop has been a shining example of laughable and puny, although so far everything has proved edible.

I have learned that this is the difference between caged tomatoes (big) and staked (small):

Same variety of plant, even.

I have also learned that Central Texas soil is really tough to work with. I can grow better things out of that nasty poly fiber-fill stuff than I can from the clay-heavy crud that's in our backyard:

Pattern: Lucky Bamboo by June Gilbank
Mods: I made the stalks shorter; my yarn choices (scraps) meant that the stalks were turning out relatively bigger than the pot and sand.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Lace, Intarsia, and Stamina

That's what this required:

No more complaining from me about how rough this sweater treated me, in-utero. And you know what? I think it looks great on. Wore it for a whole day yesterday, and it didn't stretch out, even.

Oh - and it's unblocked. The pattern doesn't specify, but I'm content to let it stay that way. And I'm not sorry.

Pattern: #03 Multi-Pattern Top by Gabrielle Hammill from Vogue Knitting, Spring/Summer 2006.
Yarn: Lion Brand Microspun, and hey, don't judge me. It's what the pattern called for and it's inexpensive. It's also splitty and unfriendly to the hands, plus the acrylic content isn't my fav, but I must have bought it over two years ago for this pattern.
Needles: Size 4. I don't often go down a needle size, much less two, but judging from other FOs, that's common for this pattern.
Mods: None, really. I did skip a few rows on the short-row collar, but it's not hugely dramatic.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Ewan McGregor Cares About My Yarn

So there's this sweater I've been hammering away at for the better part of a year. It's the Multi-Pattern Top from an older issue of Vogue Knitting.

A few months ago:

Cute pattern, working up like a dream - if that dream involves discovering a city of gold after slogging through fever-haunted jungles with a bad case of malaria and cramped fingers.

Bad metaphor?

Okay. The pattern did not list which of the four lace patterns you use for measuring gauge, so I eventually went to the smallest needle size I could manage with that yarn. (Seems to be working okay.) There are several errata in the chart, which Vogue has listed on the website. I've already run out of yarn once, and now that I'm in the final stretch, I am almost coming up short again. Again!

Strangely, every time I pick it up to work on it, with only a handful of rows left on the collar, I hear in my mind the soundtrack from Moulin Rouge, right at that point where Christian (Ewan McGregor) decides to heck with it all, he's going back to the Moulin Rouge one... last... TIME.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Teaser Pic: Rockabilly Knits

New design in the pipeline, and I'm not allowed to give pictures yet - but here's a teaser shot:

As I said in my last post, Latvian braid makes you feel like a stud.

Another hint: This sweater really needs some fiddle music to make it complete.

I can't wait to show off the whole thing! Hill Country Weavers will start the photo shoots soon.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


I do exist, it's true.

New skills recently acquired:

(1) Helical knitting:

Grumperina's tutorial says it all. It's easy and it makes you feel like a stud. Also reasonably in style at present.

(2) Latvian braid:

See the dark blue bits? That's a Latvian braid. I learned from the instructions in the Victorian Christmas Stocking pattern (such a lovely pattern), but the Ohdessa Knits tutorial looks pretty good. Plus she's got these bright pink manicured nails.

3. I can't knit dishcloths to save my life.

Seriously. I can do some pretty nifty stuff, knitting-wise, but the simplest of projects leaves me flummoxed. In fact, I have a Rav friend who is similarly challenged - she even designed this remarkable shawl pattern - and so of course I've challenged her to a duel of ugly dishcloths. We've each agreed to make two dishcloths by the end of March to demonstrate our inability to make a simple square. I've got one down, and I'd show it to you, but (a) you don't need to vomit on your keyboard, and (b) there's going to be a voting round, and we've agree to keep the dishcloths more or less under wraps until the time comes.

But seriously: wait for it. These are gonna be hilarious.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Yarn Ho 4 Life

One of the many reasons to love Hill Country Weavers is the owner, Suzanne. In an email to the SHELTER design group today, she said (and I quote with permission), "I have had 30 years of being a Yarn Ho... It is hard to shut it off."

Suzanne has been instrumental in bringing the SHELTER design project to life, and it looks like there will be more design projects from the same group of lovely Austin designers, among whom I'm privileged and a bit astonished to find myself counted. I'm going to sleep every night with color schemes and pattern ideas in my head.

For now, check out Brooklyn Tweed's blog post from today and his mention of the design project. It's exciting to see our work featured so elegantly.

In other news, I have also learned a new skill: entrelac!

Generally, I don't like to complain about tech issues in my blog, because that seems discourteous to the readers. I should have just figured it out, y'know? Well, 30 minutes later and I can't understand why this picture is showing up sideways:

The other shot seems okay...

But then I realized. It's entrelac: duh. The internet magically understands that entrelac goes first one direction, then another. It's just helping me stay on message!

It's a long story why the Michael Chabon book appears in the image. Just know that it is a positively superb book full of intrigue and imagination, and you should all read it right away, right after you visit Brooklyn Tweed's blog.