Thursday, December 29, 2005

Knitting blahs

I seem to be going through a time when none of my knitting excites me. I have all of these projects started, but I just sort of look at them with a ho-hum feeling. It's really too bad, because I know I have some lovely projects going. I think the problem is that none of them feel very challenging. This is mostly because most of the knitting I do these days is at Stitch 'n Bitch and I have a hard time concentrating on challenging projects when I'm there. So I have all of these projects that, while pretty, are fairly boring to knit. With five or more projects on the needles, I really don't want to start anything else, but I need to jump start my knitting. Maybe if I bought a nice patterning sock yarn, that would help. Hmmmm....

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A couple photos

I finally uploaded the photos from my digital camera to my computer.

The bag-exchange bag:

J's fingerless mitts:

I have one mitt done, I just need to secure the ends. I have yet to start the second one (really should do that right away or I might suffer second mitt syndrome).

Monday, December 26, 2005

Long time, no post

Between getting ready for Christmas and a conference and then actually going to the conference, and Iowa for Christmas, there hasn't been much time for blogging. I have gotten a bit of knitting done, though:

Finished: Socks for my sister for Christmas. Made out of Lorna's Laces in Shepherd Sport, colorway seascape (or something to that effect). Regretfully, I didn't take a picture of them. Despite being really quick to knit, I was still Kitchner stitching the toes in the car on the way to Iowa (that was quite a sight--me sitting with Stitch 'n Bitch on my lap [which have the best K stitch instructions in the world], trying to graft the toes, and deciding that I had to lengthen one sock to make them match size-wise). Sis loved them, so I feel good about it. She pronounced them soft and warm. Which is how all socks should be, really.

: Bag for the Windy City bag exchange. It was made out of LionBrand Landscapes and I felted it at my mother's (because it costs $2 a load to use the washer in my building and I wasn't going to pay lots of money to felt a bag). It was my first felting experience and I think it went pretty well. I think I should've left the handles in longer because they ended up being obscenely long, but when I gave it to the person in the exchange, she loved it and said that she loves bags with long handles so I guess it was okay. I have pictures, but I have to upload them at home and I'm at work right now. I got my bag and it's a cute little purse/handbag. I think I want to put a handle on it. I think the knitter didn't put a handle on it because she ran out of the Fizz yarn (which is my fault because I supplied the yarn). She knit the purple Cascade 220 and Fizz held together. There's plenty of the Cascade left, so I'm going to buy more Fizz and finsih it. I'm of two minds about participating in an exchange again. Even though we had 10 months to do it, it was inevitable that I wouldn't start it until right before it was due and that was incredibly stressful. However, the actual exchange part was a lot of fun and like a knitter's Christmas. This is the first time anyone has actually handknit something for me. Okay, my mom made a couple of sweaters for me when I was very little, but this is the first time someone made me something when I actually had the sense to appreciate it. And that was incredible! They probably won't exchange the yarn until Feb. so I have some time to think about it.

Fingerless mitts for my husband made out of the same yarn (because I had quite a bit left over). I have one mitt almost done. I would've had it all the way done if I had remembered that stockinette stitch fabric rolls up and I would therefore have to do some kind of edging at top part of the mitts. I did garter stitch at the top of the thumb and it worked fine, but it didn't match the cuff which was k1, p1, ribbing, so I decided that I'm going to redo the thumb. Meanwhile, I ripped out two or three rows off the top of the mitts and will do about 3 rows of k1p1 ribbing to match the cuff. Unfortunately, I had an odd number of stitches (from picking some up around the thumb to make the join prettier), so I had to p2tog at the end of the first round. Oh well. Now, I need to write all of this down so I can remember to do it for the second mitt....

Started: Socks for me in Shepherd Sport (a different colorway). The yarn on this skein is much lighter than the seascape ones. It might be due to the dyes, or it might be because I bought it on sale as a second.... No worries, though, I think they will be fine all the same. But I had to put them aside while I worked on hubby's mitts because his poor little hands were cold at work and I had to use the same needles the socks were on for the mitts (well, had to is a bit strong; I liked the way my sister's socks turned out so I wanted to use the same size needle and that's the only one I have in that size).

For Christmas, I got a Vogue Knitting, Scarves (between that and Scarf Style, I could make a scarf for everyone I know), and a Knitting Journal which was really cute from my brother-in-law and his wife. Lots of other things, too, but nothing knitting related.

Sorry there are no pix--I'll try to do better in the future.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Much better

Now that Monday is over, I'm feeling much better. That, and the fact that it has finally gotten cold. I'm very sensitive to my environment, and when the weather isn't "right" I get irritable and uncomfortable. Seriously. It really bothers me. I think it may have something to do with my seasonal affective disorder. My circadian rhythms are already screwed up. When the weather is acting like it's spring, it just screws me up even more. And don't even get me started about daylight savings time....

Okay, on to knitting. I still don't have a pic of the completed Knit Unto Others hat. However, I decided to suck it up and start a new hat. I have some Wintuck acrylic yarn in bright red. It's worsted weight, but it's a "hard" worsted--not soft and squishy--so I'm knitting it on size 10 circulars using the magic loop method. The pattern is something I saw at the Show and Share for the Windy City Knitters' Guild. You start with an odd number of stitches (number divisible by 4 plus 1 extra stitch), then knit 2, purl 2 around. When you get to the end of the round, you will need to purl 2, but there will be only one stitch left in the round. Therefore, the second purl will start the next round. The result is a diagonally striping rib. I started it last night at Stitch 'n Bitch, but I got off-count and ended up ripping it out and starting it over this morning. I know all I had to do is k2, p2, but I can never follow any sort of pattern when I'm at Stitch 'n Bitch, because I'm too busy yapping to pay attention to what I'm doing. When I realized I was off-count, I switched over to my shawl. I've done so many rows on that one, my fingers just do the pattern without me having to know what I'm doing.

The highlight of the Stitch 'n Bitch evening came at the very beginning. I was standing over one of the stitchers, admiring her fair isle baby jumper and saying how cute it was, when a guy from the chess group (there's a large group of mostly black men who play chess at the Border's cafe) comes over to tell me that, speaking of cute, I was looking pretty cute in the light blue top I was wearing. At first, I didn't realize he was talking to me, but after looking around, I noticed I was the only one wearing light blue. So I graciously said thank you and proceded to go about my business, going to get a cup of hot chocolate, and when I came back, a stitcher joined our group and handed me a chocolate truffle and said that the same man was waiting around to give it to me but he gave up when he found out that I was married! I guess at 31, I've still got it. I brought the truffle home to show my husband (in an attempt to shame him into buying me chocolates), but he was just concerned that I was taking candy from strangers (by the way, I am not going to eat the truffle [my mother taught me to never take candy from strangers, but I feel what's the harm as long as I don't eat it!], but I am going to keep the wrapper and tape it above my lab bench so I can look at it whenever I'm feeling old and unattractive). So, I said to hubby, "at least somebody finds me attractive," and stalked off to the bedroom. Ha! (our roommate witnessed the whole event by the way, and remarked that it had suddenly got very cold in the living room) If there is not a box of chocolates waiting for me when I get home tonight, someone's in trouble.

Speaking of Stitch 'n Bitch, I have a confession to make. Way back in the early summer, we had a knitalong for making chemocaps for Windy City headhuggers. I was in charge of sending them off to WCH. But, when I finally got around to searching for their address, I found that they wanted you to fill out a form for every hat you send in, including the type of yarn you used and wash instructions. Now, this was sufficiently after I had collected the hats that some of these people had dropped out of the group. I toyed with the idea of putting down what I thought the yarn was, but then I had this horrible vision of chemo patients coming down with the hives and dying because there was wool in the hat and they are allergic. So, I have been keeping these hats, wondering what I should do with them. Do you think it would be very terrible of me to send them to the Indiana Tornado victims? That way, they're still going to charity, but we're not giving hats of unknown fiber to sick people.

Monday, November 28, 2005


I finished the hat I was working on for the Knit Unto Others knitalong. However, I didn't start a second one. I was going to, really I was, but then I thought it would take me forever to finish one made from sportweight yarn, so I should use something heavier, but then I didn't think my worsted weight yarn was "good enough" and I wanted to go to JoAnn's to get more, but I didn't do that either. The result of all of this is that there is still not a second hat started, when I could've been halfway done if I hadn't done all of this fussing, but just started the damn hat. Grrr....

Oh, and I don't have a picture of the hat because I left my flash drive at home meaning I can't upload pix while I'm at the lab.

My Monday is not going well.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Almost finished

I'm about an inch away from starting the decreases on the Indiana Tornado hat! Which means I should have it done by the end of the weekend for sure. If I wasn't having a billion people over, I could have it done in the next day or two, but oh well. I've decided to start another hat when I've finished this one using some Shepherd Sport from Lorna's Laces which is hand-dyed superwash wool. I was fortunate enough to go to a sale they had for seconds and mill-ends where the yarn was half-price. It's still beautiful yarn but the color is a little different from what it was supposed to be so they can't sell it through yarn shops. Anyway, I stocked up on the stuff and have been wondering what I should do with it....

I've decided the only way I can possibly be ready for a dinner party on Thursday is to stay home from lab tomorrow and clean and cook, so that's what I'm going to do. Hopefully, my advisor won't notice (or care).

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The air that I breathe

As part of my cleaning ritual, I try to clean off the window sills. I say "try" because Chicago dirt is one of the stubbornist substances known to the Universe and will not easily be removed. The situation is worse at this time of year because I've had the windows open all summer and therefore, the sills are really disgusting. And as I sit there, scrubbing away, I realize that:

1. this dirt is here because it blew in through the window
2. this dirt is therefore in the air
3. I breathe this air.

Ewwww! Basically, when I leave here, my lungs will probably look the same as if I never left Iowa, but have been smoking for the past 9 years.

I think I need to find a HEPA filter.

In knitting news, there is nothing to report. Shocking, I know. Yesterday, I worked on the Knit Unto Others hat while attempting to do things online (slow dial-up connection=lots of time to knit), but it doesn't look appreciably different, so I'm not going to bore you with a picture. I have realized, though, that I don't think I'm going to have enough yarn to make a pair of mittens from the same yarn. I might buy a coordinating yarn and make the mittens out of both yarns and then crochet an edging on the hat made out of the second yarn and make a tassel from the second yarn. Hmmmmm..... Or, I could simply send the hat and make another hat from some other yarn in my stash. Decisions, decisions.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Could somebody please remind me why I agreed to this?

Okay, Thanksgiving is only five days away and I'm having 11 people over for dinner and I haven't even started cleaning the apt. Which might not be bad if I had cleaned the apt. sometime in the last several months, but since I haven't, it's a wee bit of a disaster. Why do I always put off cleaning until the last minute? Oh, yeah, because I hate to clean. That's right. That's why I haven't cleaned in months to begin with. Well, now that we've got that settled, where's the broom? And the china, because I've gotta wash it before we can use it. And the crystal. And the good silverware. And the good tablecloth that must be ironed. Along with the napkins.

Right. Okay. We're just going to ignore that horror and hope it goes away on it own (it never has before, but that's no reason to lose hope is it?). I need something to calm me. Wine? Chocolate martini?

Just because I have a mountain of housework to do doesn't mean I haven't been knitting (have to do something when I become overworked from the thought of mopping). Thursday night, I finished my blue socks.

See, isn't it purty? (the sock, not my leg)

And, I found the best instructions for the Kitchner stitch in Stitch 'n Bitch. I have looked high and low for good instructions and always I found pretty much the same ones that I apparently don't understand because I always screw it up. But this time, I took the old SnB off the shelf to see what it had to say, and it had diagrams! They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I had about four thousand new words with which to figure out the dreaded K stitch. By the end of the second sock, I had it pretty well down. I'm sure I'll have to drag the book out the next time I need to finish socks (except for the next pair of socks, because I'm knitting those toe-up), but at least I no longer fear the big K.

However, I did have one moment of panic. I had woven all the ends in and pulled one of the socks on to take the above picture when I saw a hole start to develop in the leg of the sock! What the hell???? A more experienced blogger would have taken a picture of the catastrophe that had unfolded (unraveled?) before my very eyes (hell, a more experienced blogger would've remembered to bring the digital camera back home from lab), so that you too could experience the horror, but I panicked (a more experienced knitter might not have panicked, knowing that it could be fixed, but I'm neither an experienced knitter, nor particularly level-headed late in the evening). Fortunately, I was able to do a mediocre job of darning the hole and I think everything is okay now. So what happened? Upon further inspection, I noticed the hole was right next to the end of a woven-in thread. I can only surmise that I nicked the stitches next to the end of the yarn when cutting it. Let this be a lesson to you all--do not trust the scissors! They will turn on you if they can! Be ever-vigilant for the stray point!

At any rate, I'm pretty happy with the way they turned out--even the mended one--and I really love the yarn: Fortissima Cotton. It's supersoft.

Ghiradelli took time out of his busy day to pose with the new additions to my sock drawer:

Thursday, November 17, 2005


In the race against Mother Nature, I was fighting a losing battle. My husband needed a warm hat and before I could finish it, we got a cold snap and we were down in the 20s. So, I knit as fast as my little fingers could go and....


But wait, there's more! You also get:

That's right, folks, a reversible hat. A double-layered, alpaca wool, reversible hat. Who's your mama now?? That's right Mother Nature, you old hag--bow to the warm hat goddess!

In other news, I worked a bit on the Indiana hat for the Knit Unto Others knit along. It doesn't say when we're supposed to be knitting on it. Or when you're supposed to be showing progress. So I offer you this picture for now:

The yarn is 75% acrylic/25% wool Plymouth Encore yarn. It's a simple stockinette hat with a rolled brim, although I'm adding reverse stockinette stripes to keep it interesting. So far, there's not so much to see which is why I added a bit of lab equipment for intrest. Yes, I took that picture on my lab bench. I swear to you, I don't work with anything dangerous (unlike the people on the 7th floor who work with Anthrax and the plague, but I digress). I promise I will wash it prior to sending it out.

And now (as Jon Stewart might say) here's your moment of zen:

My dear husband on his way out into the bitter cold, sporting his new hat. On your knees Mother Nature!

P.S. A matching scarf is next on the list.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Thanksgiving Knit Along

Today while reading Norma's blog, I found the Thanksgiving Knit Along. And while it is true that I have a lot of other things on my plate right now, I think it is a great idea to remember what I have to be grateful for by making something for someone in need. I have already started a hat for the Indiana tornado victims out of leftover Encore multicolored yarn. Hopefully, I can whip up at least a scarf to go with it, and maybe even some mittens.

I have worked on J's hat a bit. The weather turned really cold here in Chicago, literally overnight, so I know he's wishing I had the thing done. I told him he could wear it today if he didn't mind carrying two balls of yarn around and having knitting needles sticking out of his head. He demured. Last night, I had him try it on while it was still on the needles and it just covers his ears, so only a few more rows to go and then I can start decreasing. I'm just glad it fits around his head well. I have a tendency to make hats that are waaayyy too big. As soon a the hat is done, I need to whip up a matching scarf and some mittens. Scarf first, I think. Which means I need to order more yarn from Knit Picks.

Also last night, I started the toe decreases on my second blue sock. I'm really tempted to finish them tonight, but I know I should work on the hat. In fact, I think I should put off everything and knit exclusively on the hat until it's done. I don't want my hubby going around with a cold head! (Besides, he'll whine until it's finished)

Monday, November 14, 2005

First post

This is my first post for this incarnation of my knitting blog. I used to have one at blog-city called string theory, but I let it languish. I like the blogger format better anyway.

So, what am I working on?

1. Double-knit Hat.

This is for my husband. I knit him a hat last year, but he said it wasn't warm enough for the really cold days (which, for him, means most of winter). So, I told him I would make him something warmer. A double-knit garment is one that has two layers of knitting that you knit simultaneously. I got the pattern from I'm using a bulky-weight alpaca yarn from Knit Picks (in the manly colors of tan and dark blue) which is supposed to be warmer than wool and is very, very soft. And warm. My hands sweat when I'm working on it, it's that warm. If he wants something warmer, he's going to have to wear the whole alpaca on his head.

2. Cable-knit Socks.

These are for me. The pattern is from Knitting on the Road by Nancy Bush, which my brother gave me last year for Christmas. I'm using Regia cotton yarn in a cream/brown/light blue colorway and they are turning out quite nice. I decided to try knitting these guys toe-up using the wrapped-short-row technique I found on knitty. So far, I have most of the foot done for one sock.

3. Shawl.

Also for me. The pattern is a free one from the Lion Brand Yarn website. But I'm using a sport-weight wool/silk yarn from Blackberry Ridge instead of the bulky it calls for, so it's going to take me awhile. It's not a very complicated pattern, but I'm surprised at the way it's coming out. I assumed that since you started with 5 stitches and kept increasing that I was knitting from the bottom point up. But, it seems like the live stitches are actually two sides of the triangle. Okay, that makes no sense without a picture....

4. Blue Socks. For me again. This is my own design--very simple, just one inch of 2x2 ribbing at the top, then 9x1 ribbing for the leg and the top of the foot with a short row heel. These are almost done--I just have to do the toe decreases on the second sock, then graft the toes on both socks.

5. Felted Bag.

This is for an exchange for the Windy City Knitter's Guild. We exchanged yarn in January and we are supposed to bring the finished bags to the December meeting and give them to their owners. Having a year to knit it, I decided to wait until a few weeks ago to start it. There's no real pattern for this one. I'm knitting in the round until I'm almost out of yarn, then decreasing much as one would for a hat. I'll make two decent-sized straps. I've never felted anything before, but I got a large number of skeins from this person, and the yarn is from Lion Brand (Landscapes) and it specifically says it felts, so I'm guessing she wants a felted bag....

And then, there are a variety of other unfinished projects that I don't plan to work on anytime soon, so I won't bother posting about them!

I have also decided to try to tackle spinning. I don't know what it is about knitting that seems to inevitably lead to spinning, but it seems like there are a lot of knitters out in blogland who also spin. I have a make-shift spindle that I got at a WC Knitter's Guild meeting (the program was a beginning spinning lesson) a few months ago and this weekend, I bought a bit of fiber and a book on spinning from FiberWild in Galena (really great shop, by the way). What kind of fiber, you ask? Well, I got 4 oz of Jacob, 2 oz of Black-faced Leicester and [ ]. I specifically asked for fibers that were easy for beginners. Last night, I sat down with a little of the Jacob and practiced a bit. It feels awkward right now, but hopefully it will get better as time progresses. I have to remember that knitting felt awkward in the beginning, too, and now I love it. But patience is a virtue I am not known for....