Friday, June 27, 2008

hot fuzz in the summertime

I've been pretty proud of the stash busting I've been doing lately...I'm trying to force myself to think in terms of what I can do with what I already have.

I've also wanted to do this fuzzy beret from Kim Hargreaves for a while now-- Thought it would be a good excuse to try out some Kidsilk Haze for the first time just to see what all the fuss was about. (er fuzz was about?). But then I DIDN'T. I went to the stash and pulled out some angora instead.

Pattern: Foxy beret by Kim Hargreaves
yarn: La via dell'angora Angora 70 (70% angora, 10% lambswool, 20% nylon) almost 3 balls, knit double-stranded
needles: 3.75mm
mods: knit in the round (no seams...)

It hasn't been very beach-y weather around these parts lately, but we trundled off there none the less to take these pics. Overcast skies really make the turquoise pop.

I've often daydreamed about having the classic 50's pin-up sweater-girl angora sweater. Never mind the fact that it would take about a million expensive balls of the stuff to accomplish this task, it PAINS me that I'm so allergic to it. (I'm starting to suspect this with Iceland as well (which, oh yeah--is back on the needles baby!). Even a miniscule amount of mohair has me sneazing, and I suppose kidsilk haze would have been no different.

I might actually be able to get away with some angora in "hat" form though. If I can suffer through one of the cats sleeping on my head every night surely I can wear a fuzzy hat once in a while?

My stack of berets is growing ever higher.

In other news, how 'bout a recipe? The bulk of the meals I make are usually asian-inspired, and this was a new and easy one I tried recently so I thought I'd share it.

Grill yourself some tofu:

(I only had medium on hand--firm would have probably been better)

and some bok choy:

(image deleted)

(use baby bok choy-- again I only had regular on hand)

boil yourself some udon noodles, and voila:

slurpy goodness!

(image deleted)

the actual recipe for this can be found HERE.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I almost forgot--

I just got tagged by Wendy from Musings from a Knucklehead (how much do I love her blog title?--SO much!) for the meme that I'm sure most of you have seen floating around lately, so i'll try to make it brief for everyone...I am so bad at these.

"The rules of the game get posted at the beginning. Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer."

1) What was I doing 10 years ago?

I had just moved back to Ottawa from Vancouver where I was finishing my degree at UBC. Wait? 1998? ugh. I'm older than I think. My mom was in some breast cancer recovery, my dad had just finished a heart-related stint in the hospital, and I was fleeing a tumultously bad-for-me relationship, so it was as good a time as any for me to move back home and start ANOTHER 4 years of school.

2) What are 5 things on my to-do list for today?

look for new holistic cat food
make dinner
go to the gym? (ummmmmm....)
start painting a wall in my living room (ok prep it at any rate)
watch Tila Tequila? (yeah I am THE worst.)

3) Snacks I enjoy:

there are a lot of crazy asian candies/cookies I like. Yesterday I enjoyed some of these:

but you know, there really aren't ANY snacks that I have the power to turn down (hence these thighs 'o mine...). Baked goods, sweet, salty...I want it ALL.

4) Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

Let's see, the usual stuff: donate to friends/family, INVEST, quit my job, travel the world, buy homes in various countries. BUT: I don't do "decadence" very well. You'd never see me with a mcmansion or a sportscar. You'd be more likely to see me with a vintage Eichler bungalow in Palm Springs furnished head to toe with all of the money-is-no-option mid-centuy goodness that I could get my hands on. And maybe a super hot cabana-boy in the mix there somewhere. And then I'd likely donate to as many pet related causes as I could before someone deemed me nutso.

5) Places I have lived:

St. Jerome

6) Jobs I have had:

-I sold lemonade in a big lemon once. I lasted a week.
-lots of museum/archives/conservation related jobs: You may have seen me vacuuming bears, making plinths for skulls, topping up the formaldehyde on a Coelacanth, picking bugs out of prehistoric turtle shells...
-I used to write record reviews and interview bands for a music magazine.

man, that pretty much ALL sounds better than what I'm doing now, even though I KNOW it's not.

7) Friends I want to know more about (if you've done the meme, please disregard)

There are a lot of you, BUT I will take a pass and give you guys a break. Definitely if you're looking for blog fodder and what to do this meme drop me a comment so I can go and check yours out! It really wasn't all that taxing --and thank you for indulging me in some navel-gazing.

Monday, June 23, 2008

I need a vacation.

Heck, I'd take a "staycation" at this point given the price of gas these days. hahahaha. Ok I really just wanted to use the word staycation there. We've been kind of laughing about it all week since I keep hearing it bandied about all over the place. Staycation is becoming the new "metrosexual" in the sense that once that word got penned boy howdy did everyone really REALLY like using it. How can I honestly take anyone seriously who uses that word?

But it's nice that I'm starting off with a not-on-point ramble, isn't it? In my defence I do feel that I would really like to have a vacation. (no duh) But it looks like I will have to wait another month.

I'm also starting to think that I need a summer vay-cay away from my knitting. I'm giving myself an F on this project. F as in Fail or Frogged. F as in, WTF is my problem lately?

Sure, it looks innocent enough:

The sun was shining (for about 5 minutes), the flowers were blooming, my tomato plants were blossoming...

(image deleted)

Yup, the sun came out in what feels like about three weeks of non-stop rain. So I sat down to enjoy it.

And things immediately clouded over on my already water-logged, filthy balcony. Word to the wise --no matter how kitschy-cute you think green astro-turf might be (coupled with plastic tulips--perfection you say?) remember this: YOU will be the only dork out there VACUUMING your balcony in the summertime(IF it ever dries out that is).

Yes, that is the price I pay for indulging my silly whims.

The first problem I had with this tote? I ran out of yarn. But no biggie, I was knitting from stash I was only about an inch off on what was left of the handle so it didn't matter much. Naturally after the fact I found an additional TWO balls of said yarn --enough to make another bag altogether. (At that point I was apparently still contemplating that probability.)

Now I knit the large version of this pattern, and knew the yarn would stretch. But problem number two here is that I didn't contemplate just how much it would stretch depending on what I put in it. If I was filling it with yarn I could probably carry a lot in it. Filling it with it's intended use of market fruits and veggies? Not so great...a few peppers, oranges and bananas and the thing was practically dragging on the ground.

The world's loooooongest bag--plenty of room in it to spare, but it would have been pointless to put anything else in it.

(boy I did a good job cropping those, didn't I?)

And my third F grade? F as in what the EFFFFFF?

I had a couple of spots that looked like this:

(image deleted)

I think one of them was actually a dropped stitch that I never noticed until a) the bag was completely done and b) the stitch had dropped all the way to the bottom. The weave is so loose that trying to pick it back up all the way to the top just became a frustrating, tangled mess. And then there were a couple of other weird stitch spots that just seemed to be irreparably "stretched out" and things would be falling right through.

So, verdict: I will knit it again, but in the smaller size. My issues definitely weren't with the pattern so much as they were with my own ineptitude. I will likely knit with the US 17's instead of the #19's on round two as well. I think my errors did come down to my impatience with using those and wanting to be DONE. The 19's were just a little too clunky for my hands to make this an enjoyable knit.

Failure at an easy project like this really drives home the message that I

the deets:
pattern: Emerald String bag from Worsted Knitt
yarn: Patons Grace 100% cotton in "night" (2 balls)
needles: US #5 and US #19 (3.75mm and 15mm)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Knitscene convention

TWO knits out of the same magazine? That's a first (well for me I mean):

pattern: Calyx handtote by Pam Allen from Knitscene
yarn: Patons wool merino in Black and Red
needles: 5mm

Well, this is a GREAT pattern, quite simply. My handles felted up beautifully, with no mess (thank-you Patons!), and I love the combination of felted knitting with the plain stockinette. It's not quite enough felt to make me feel like I've got a felted bag (which I'm not so keen on...). Also once my handles were done the bag went up really quickly, and I'm quite pleased with the overall look of the finished product. Check ravelry if you're planning to knit this as there were a couple of pattern problems with the handles, which I think stalled a few people out right off the bat. It's an easy fix though, and then you're underway.

I didn't bother with the suggested leafy appliqué and decided instead to felt my embellishments. I just knit a bunch of squares, then cut out some hearts and whip-stitched them on. Here's hoping they don't fray on me, but so far they seem to be fine.

I kinda like how puffy they turned out. My original plans were for a slightly more rockin' lightning bolt from one corner to the next, but when I put my templates onto the finished bag, the hearts looked way better. I'm hoping the red & black colour combo takes some of the overall "sweetness" out of it. For the most part I trend towards the less precious side of life. The jury's still out on whether she's a re-gifter mind you.

New on the sticks:

Elisa's nest tote from the purl bee (a gift for a co-worker), and still another string grocery bag:

(image deleted)

The Emerald string bag from Worsted-Knitt. I was hoping these would both be really quick knits for gifts, but now I'm not so sure. Particulary in the latter case I'm finding the size 19 jumbo needles in combination with the tiny string yarn a bit hard to manage in what are (I'm informed...) my "freakishly small hands".

I guess I might be more offended if I didn't know it to be true.

Monday, June 16, 2008

what exactly IS a phiaro?

A seriously rainy weekend and some major thunderstorms have meant some pretty "dark" photo ops...but I was too impatient to wait for a nice day to take pictures of my latest knit. (Those of you who read this space with any regularity are probably thinking to yourselves "hmmmm, impatience, eh? I'm sensing a theme..."). It is true. I do not deny that patience is not one of those virtues that I possess. (Do you like the way I slipped another "eh?" in there? --boo yeah!, and there's another.)

So I present to you:

pattern: Phiaro scarf by Katie Himmelberg from Knitscene Winter 08/Spring 07
yarn: Eden Madil 100% bamboo (colourway #630)
needles: 5mm

(Little bit of a boob-showcase in that shot oopsy. Damn this shelf of mine!)

First of all, this yarn is really nice. It's my first time knitting with bamboo, and it it is silky soft buttah. The stitches even dropped like buttah (which was a pain if you "accidentally" dropped one, but heaven for a pattern like this). Next Clapotis I make will definitely be made in this. When I think back to how I had to sometimes "pick" dropped stitches apart on the other two I made...this yarn would definitely render that particular problem null and void. That said I would highly recommend it to anyone knitting a clapotis (would I recommend it for this pattern though? not sure...likely to recommend something with a tad less drape). It's got MAJOR drape (which feels amazing on...), and after it was blocked, just that much silkier. Though to be fair...what makes this yarn nice is also what at times made it a pain in the NEVER stayed balled up, and it was kinda splitty sometimes too.

If I made it again I would likely cast on about half as many stitches. It is H-U-G-E. I know it's supposed to double as a shawl (and I *was* kind of thinking about it for a wedding in September...), and is meant to be big, but really, it is a giant. No, I did not check my gauge. It's a scarf! And, I like my scarves big. The bigger the better in fact. But uh....still too big I think for a saner person than I.

All of the magic with this project happens at the VERY end. Here's what it looked like when I finished knitting it:

SNORE. It's just a big ol' giant tube. And then, you drop a TERRIFYING number of stitches (particularly in light of all that endless stockinette).

And I do mean terrifying:

(image deleted)

Once you're done dropping all those stitches (a task that begs the question "SURELY there is another way?!) you then have to CUT through it in order to de-tube and make it a scarf. Also terrifying.

By far the most tedious task though was the braiding of the fringe.

(image deleted)

This literally took me TWO full evenings, and in the end I wound up chopping them in half further because the scarf was so long already. I should have measured has to be at least nine feet (unstretched) I'd say. And the whole thing was so curly after all that knitting that not blocking it wasn't an option.

So there you have it. As I was knitting it I was thinking "what have I gotten myself into? it will never be done!", a prospect made all the more real by how boring of a knit it was. But the reality is, I was only knitting it at work...the odd lunch hour here or there and I was still done it in about three weeks. Given that I plan on knitting the next one about half as big, and have been quite pleased with the results, I'm now thinking that this is actually a quick and easy knit. I for sure would recommend it with some tweaking, and probably hit up ravelry for some other hints on this.

Or I guess I could just make another clapotis.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Fast F.O

Ok I think we can file this one under "anti-climatic", but here you go:

pattern: Quant from
yarn: the dregs of Kureyon that I'd used to knit this bag
needles: 5mm

I actually used less than a ball for this cuz I didn't *really* have enough. I got some length out in the blocking process though, so in the end it was more than big enough. In fact too big and too wide for what is apparently my pea-sized head.

Super fast and fun knit...I had some issues with the finishing rows though--not sure what my problem was there, but my i-cord wound up coming off the side and not the center, but rather than go back and fix it I just cast on a few more stitches and kinda "fudged" an extra triangle or two. You'd never really notice (well you might but the end I didn't really care).

I will never wear this thing. I think the combo of granola-esque headband and my already ambivalent feelings about Noro are making this a definite re-gifter. I think I just don't know how to wear hair accessories's long been a struggle of mine (psychologically or otherwise, it's still there!) and I seldom wear my hair up, so to me it just looks weird.

You can tell I'm not feeling it, eh? (Canada day is coming soon, so i'll be throwing in as many "eh's" as I can this next month in a final surge of patriotism).

At least now I can tick Entrelac off the list, right?

We won the prize this weekend for hottest/most humid spot in the country. What is this prize you ask? Why, the maddening desire to kill of course (coupled with a sweaty, debilitating exhaustion and inability to follow through). Ironically we are still about ten degrees short of our own record. Have I mentionned how much knitting sucks in this heat? Nevertheless, I am nothing if not tenacious and another F.O is coming yer way this week. Sweaty psychosis be damned!

Monday, June 02, 2008

some progress

There comes a time in every knit-blog reader's life where they must endure the dreaded "progress" pics. That time my friends is now, and that reader unfortunately, is YOU.

The Calyx handtote is ever-so-close to completion. It's been a pretty fast knit, and the handles felted up beautifully (good old reliable Patons merino!). One of my last attempts at felting with Lopi left a washing machine coated in blobs of grey yarn. The Patons did not shed AT. ALL. Patons, I will never doubt you--my Canadian homegirl-- again. I had actually put this sucker down for a while because I thought I'd run out of black wool. Scouring the stash for something entirely different procurred another ball for me though (in the same dye lot!) so she's back on baby. I guess it would help me to know what I actually had now wouldn't it? Anyway, I'm still debating on some embellishment ideas --I'm thinking I may felt those too so in the end she might be on hold after all until I can hit up another washing machine.

The prairie boots:

Total standstill right now. I finished the first one, but have now come down with "second sock syndrome" on the next. Really, will I ever wear these? Wait what am I saying? I hardly wear any of the stuff that I knit, so does it matter? (ok, that's not true, I do wear a lot of it...just not most of it if I'm being totally honest).

The Phiaro scarf,

I think this is going to be amazing once it's done. I'm also curious about how this tube eventually becomes a scarf (please god, I hope I am not doing this wrong!), but for now, it is the most boring knit on planet earth. I just keep repeating my mantra that the simplest knits are the most wearable, and hopefully that'll pull me through.

And finally something new!

This is Quant from Knitty. I can't remember if Entrelac was on my 2008 "knit-o-lutions" to-do list, but it was definitely up there in terms of things that I wanted to attempt this year. And this seemed like a nice "small" project to learn it on. Not to mention using up the last of that stinking Noro of mine. (That said again, I think I may run out). But it does have a bit of a "mod" sensibility and that appeals to me. But in the end, I think the Noro might make it more "bohemian" than "mod" and it'll end up being a gift for one of the granolas that I work with. Oh well, the best laid plans right?

Happy Monday everyone!