Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I didn't think it was possible...

You know, I've read many bloggers who talk about the tendency of tape measures to become lost. I always chuckled and thought it was just an exaggeration. I can understand losing stitch markers (they're small), or DPNs (they can roll and get lost in couch cushions), but a whole tape measure? Surely you're joking!

Apparently not. I had it Monday night, when I measured Mr. Tall's chest and too-long arms, but somewhere between there and Tuesday night, it has disappeared. I'll probably take the cushions off my comfy chair soon, and will probably paw through the knitting basket soon.

Now, if only I had picked up one of those cute sheep tape measures at Harrogate!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

2007 Blog-in-Review

I thought I would take a few minutes to follow boogaj's example and look back at the first line of the first post of each month.

Without further ado, 2007 in review...

When I was a kid, I had Barbie dolls. Those were the good old days: Barbie and Ken were together, and 80’s fashions were on their first go-round.

My husband, who I tend to call Mr. Tall in the blogosphere, bikes and trains to work every day.

I think the anti-stash gods are conspiring against me (or conspiring with my husband, whatever the case may be).

World Wide Knit in Public Day is coming up!!

I haven't forgotten!

My sister-in-law's shower is scheduled for July 14.

On Sunday, August 5th, my brother and his wife welcomed a beautiful new edition to their family.

I'm sure that Eleanor Roosevelt never intended this statement to be applied towards something as harmless as knitted footwear.

Last Friday, the day after I posted about the sale at my LYS, I came home to find this waiting for me:

Today, I'm kicking off NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) with birthday wishes for my dear husband.

In theory, reusable grocery bags are a great idea.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

FO: Sweet Serenity

Since I've started knitting, I've noticed that I take an active interest in other's clothing. I'm at the point where I'll rubberneck if an attractive sweater passes me by, regardless as to who is wearing it. I think you can only imagine my embarrassment when I'm caught.

Isn't that the way it is though? When you become more involved in something, you become aware of it, it permeates your life and seeps into your everyday existence.

Now, seemingly non sequitur: I'm a band geek. I was in my college and high school marching bands, and loved most every minute of it.

Just as I have picked up a hypersensitivity to knitted goods, I am also much more sensitive to marching bands. Normally, this wouldn't be a problem, but as I mentioned earlier, I married a USC fan.

For those not in the know, USC has an annoying band. Sure, their musicianship is quite good, but still, annoying. This is largely due to their fight song, "Fight On". Most bands in the Pac-10 will tell you that the USC fight song goes "This is the only song we know, and we play it all the time", and for good reason.

In our home, between the game-watching and PlayStation playing, my poor sensitivity to the oft-heard USC fight song puts me in a state of constant torment (ok, it's not that bad, but don't tell Mr. Tall that). My work around to this is to put in a pair of headphones and tune out USC in favor of something more appealing.

I decided to knit up a little carrying case for my headphones, to keep the end table tidy, and to try my hand designing something completely from scratch.

Sweet Serenity

Not only is this my first design, it will be the last FO I share until after Christmas. There is much knitting going on, but I just can't quite share it all yet.

Sweet Serenity

Project Details:
Pattern: My own! I will gladly write this up as a free pattern if there is any interest. If so, drop a comment and let me know. This fits a pair of headphones, but could also work as a small wallet or cell phone/iPod cozy.
Yarn: Home "Island Multi" purchased from Manor Department store, Switzerland
Needles: KnitPicks Options in US4 (3.5 mm)

Sunday, December 2, 2007

String (Grocery Bag) Theory

In theory, reusable grocery bags are a great idea. They are easy on the environment and less likely to rip, spilling your contents everywhere. In practice however... well, one has to remember to bring the bag for them to do any good.

With this known, I set out to knit a less-forgettable grocery bag.

I found this pattern through Ravelry, and found the yarn in a Manor Department Store while visiting Switzerland this summer.

The bag utilizes a Turkish stitch pattern, which is just a matter of yarn overs and knit2togethers, but I still got off the pattern from time to time. It's not really noticeable, and it's just a grocery bag, so in theory, it really doesn't matter.

Turkish stitch

As for remembering to have the bag with me, I made one modification that makes the empty grocery bag more compact, thus easier to take along for the grocery trip:

Self-contained carrying pouch

Bags expanded

To accomplish this, I followed the pattern instructions almost to the end. After knitting the strap for the main bag, but before grafting the strap to the bag, I knit a smaller version of the bag. I used the same base as in the pattern, and kept increasing the base until it seemed large enough to hold the rolled-up grocery bag. From there, I switched to the larger needle size, and worked in stockinette until it seemed tall enough to fit the grocery bag. It's not an exact science, but again, it's just a grocery bag. I added a small carrying strap, and then grafted it in as I attached the main strap to the grocery bag.

When using the grocery bag, the carrying bag becomes a pocket for items you may need close at hand. When you're done grocery shopping, the grocery bag easily folds back into the carrying bag for much easier storage.

Project Details:
Start-End: October 26 - November 15, 2007
Pattern: "The String Bag" from My Best Friend's a Dork
Yarn: Home "Island Multi" purchased from Manor Department store, Switzerland
Needles: KnitPicks Options in US4 (3.5 mm) and US11 (8.0 mm)
New-to-me: Emily Ocker's circular cast-on.
Modifications: Added small carrying bag, as described above.
If I do this again... I would definitely make one a bit smaller than this, as this one is best suited for larger, light items.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Two Finishes for the Post of One!

In a previous post, I mentioned that I was working on something, and that it was seasonally relevant, but not a turkey. I posted this picture:

I'm pleased to say that the project is now finished, and now for the big reveal:

Dixon the Duck

The seasonal relevance? College (American) Football, of course! Let me explain... Mr. Tall's biggest flaw is that he is a fan of the USC Trojans (boo! hiss!). The downside to this is that he watches the games whenever they're broadcast here in the UK and they are his team of preference when he's playing NCAA '07 Football on his PlayStation. The big problem with this, of course, is that the Trojans are just one of those teams that always seem to win and do well (boo! hiss!).

So... Dixon the Duck. With all the USC Trojan game watching and PlayStation playing going on around the house, I needed a little something of my own for some sanity. Enter Dixon, named after the UO Quarterback, who has sadly been injured.

The pattern for the duck comes out of Fiona McTague's irresistible book,
Knitted Toys, which is definitely worth a look at as there are a lot of great patterns and the pictures are superb. The sweater was adapted from The Incredible, Custom-Fit Raglan Sweater, and the "O" was charted out from the school's official logo and knit using intarsia in the round.

To get the sweater just right, I knit all duck pieces, and did all the finishing, save poor Dixon's head. I decided it was best to keep Dixon un-capitated until I had finished the sweater, and so he sat and waited patiently.

Un-capitated Dixon

I'm quite glad that he's finished, despite the sagging bowl hopes for Oregon, we'll cheer the team on anyways!


Start-End: September 21 - November 23, 2007
Pattern: "Duck" from Knitted Toys: 21 Easy-to-Knit Patterns for Irresistible Soft Toys by Fiona McTague
Yarn: King Cole Merino Blend DK
Needles: KnitPicks Options US 4/3.5 mm
Other: I knit the head and sleeves in the round, and the legs and feet connected in one piece. If I knit this again, I would try to knit the body and head in one piece to avoid some of the seaming up.

Oregon Sweater

Start-End: September 27-November 23, 2007
Pattern: The Incredible, Custom-fit Raglan Sweater by Pamela Costello
Yarn: Palette Yarns #018 (DK) in green and scraps of King Cole Merino DK for the "O"
Needles:KnitPicks Options US 4/3.5 mm
Other: I tried the intarsia-in-the-round technique found here. It worked well enough for this purpose, but it's quite noticeable on the back of the sweater, where I started/ended the rounds. I'm not entirely sure if it's because of my error or the fact that intarsia-in-the-round just isn't meant to be.

Monday, November 26, 2007

One more about Harrogate...

Yes, I did want to do one more post on Thursday and going to the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching show...

I didn't take many pictures at the show. Really, the day went by so fast! I managed to get an introductory walk through before taking a bead knitting class where we learned how to string and place beads. I then went back to the Knit & Crochet Guild stand where Susoolu and Wye Sue were. Susoolu and I made a run around to a couple booths, and I found some lovely Shetland Chunky from Jamieson's. I found a 10-skein colorway pack containing 5 different colorways. I have it earmarked for a cardigan of some sort for myself, because they are just my colors.

Jamieson's Chunky Shetland Marl

I then went and grabbed some lunch, and made my second pass around the exhibition - this time with intent to purchase! I got a couple skeins that are intended for Christmas gifts, so I won't detail here. I then found the Euro Japan Links stand, where I got some beautiful Japanese fabric, along with a pattern/zipper for a small change purse:

Change purse fabric

One of the things I was looking for was the perfect yarn to knit up Muir. I had decided to buy some laceweight from Jamieson & Smith, when I decided to wander into the "A" hall. From last year, I had remembered this hall as being all textile exhibits, so I had skipped it on my initial passes, purely for reasons of time. I decided to pass through and learned that I was wrong - there were also some stalls selling yarn, one of which was the stand for Habu. There, I found THE yarn for Muir:

Bamboo lace-weight Habu

I also got some of the silk/stainless steel blend of Habu, as well as some merino laceweight.

A trip back to the KCG stand to drop off my purchases, and I soon met up with Mary. I had mentioned to Susoolu and Wye Sue that I have an interest in bead and wire knitting, but just hadn't tried it yet. I was told that Mary was the go-to person, so she came and imparted so much wisdom onto me, I think I'm still processing it. The gem to me was when she said something to the effect that, with wire/bead knitting, "you're not knitting to clothe the form, you're knitting to create the form". Major. Lightbulb. Moment. I was inspired, and went in search of wire.

It was such a different experience from the previous year, and I'm not sure if I'll make it to next year's or not, but for me it was worth the trip.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Post-Harrogate Coma

The Knitting and Stitching Show was great. I met a lot of great people, got into some really great conversations, and started my love affair with Habu Yarns.

As much as I want to show off my new goodies, I'll have to wait to photograph them this weekend. The days are short enough that I don't really have usable daylight during the work week - tomorrow, the sun will rise at 7:42 a.m., and set at 3:53 p.m. This is the downside of those lovely long summer nights we were enjoying not too long ago.

Susoolu was kind enough to give me a lift to Harrogate, and I think I scared her a bit with my reaction when I saw this:

Cattlemen's Association Restaurant

See, my Brother-in-Law started a love affair with Cattlemen's Restaurant while he was in college, and I wondered if they could be one and the same. Could this British restaurant actually have a woman who roams the restaurant with a cast-iron kettle of baked beans? The answer is no, but it was great hearing BIL's reaction when I told him that there might be the possibility.

I've got much more to share from the show, and I'll be sharing that over the next few days. I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving and/or a good Thursday.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Just in time for Christmas...

The only trouble with wearing hand-knit socks (says the knitter currently still working on her first pair) is the inability to show them off properly. Sure, you can do the socks-with-sandals look if you're daring, but that's not always feasible.

Just in time for Christmas, a pair of shoes with a clear plastic upper. Better yet, they're not just any shoe:

Clear Converse All Stars

Anyone who knows me knows I live in these shoes - I wore a baby blue pair at our wedding, and will often attach a bit of moleskin to the bottom of an old pair to make shoes for contra dancing. Perhaps this is the extra kick I need to finish off my first pair of socks.

Santa - they're only available at Journeys Shoe Stores and I wear a US Womens 8 (which is a mens six).

Happy Thanksgiving to any and all celebrating it tomorrow. Last year, we roasted a small joint of turkey and made mashed potatoes and gravy, but it still didn't feel very Thanksgiving-ish, so we're not going to bother this year. Instead, we'll go out for a traditional Sunday Roast and call it good.

Tomorrow though, I will be at the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate. I'm not planning on buying a lot, but we'll see if that changes!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Puzzler answer

Yes, I've given up on NaBloPoMo. I realized that I was posting just to post and keep up with the goal. While achieving goals is noble and something we should all strive for, I felt that I was sacrificing quality for quantity.

I feel that we knitters should shoot for March or February to be NaBloPoMo. We can catch up on all the Christmas knitting we did and goodies we received over the holidays. November is a cruel month to be a knitting blogger...

Anyways, last post I asked a question:

You are given two ropes. You are told that it takes 60 minutes from each rope to burn from one end to the other. However, the ropes are neither identical nor uniform - it may take 45 minutes for the rope to burn 1/10th of the length, and 15 minutes for the other 9/10.

How can you time 45 minutes?

The answer:

If you light both ends of one rope, it should take 30 minutes for the flames to meet. So, how can you tell 45 minutes have gone by?

Start by lighting both ends of rope A, and one end of rope B. When 30 minutes has gone by (the flames on rope A meet), light the second end of rope B. Since you had 30 minutes left to burn on rope B, the two flames will meet 15 minutes later, which would be 45 minutes.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A puzzler

Just to get you thinking...

You are given two ropes. You are told that it takes 60 minutes from each rope to burn from one end to the other. However, the ropes are neither identical nor uniform - it may take 45 minutes for the rope to burn 1/10th of the length, and 15 minutes for the other 9/10.

How can you time 45 minutes?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Hey, Eugene!

Yesterday, Mr. Tall and I trekked up to Newcastle to see my most favoritest band in the whole wide world in concert.

The stage was set...

That picture? The one of the stage? I didn't run up to the front to take that picture, nor did I use the zoom lens. That was from my actual paid-for seat. IN THE FRONT ROW.

I've never had such good seats to a concert before. While I couldn't see all members of the band, I felt almost as if I was at a private concert. Really, I'm a bit embarrassed by how geeked I was to be in the front row, but can you blame me?

I guess I should mention the band - Pink Martini is a group that is very tough to describe if you haven't heard them. They're a bit of a melting pot of night club world music. Really, check out a CD or find a way to listen to a clip. You can thank me later.

This was my fourth Pink Martini concert, and by far the best. The band will often perform with a local city symphony. While these concerts are good, I really find that getting just the band is a better experience all around. There's a much more intimate, night club feel. Did I also mention that we had front row seats? Yeah, that helped with it being the best concert so far.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

So close to a FO

Would have a FO to share with you tonight, except that I decided to get a bit tricksy at the last minute... we'll see how that turns out.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Want to live on Fair Isle?

Link to article

Remote island move tempts hundreds from US

Hundreds of Americans have inquired about starting a new life on Britain's most remote inhabited island... amid a frenzied interest in knitting.

A search has been launched for new residents to live on Fair Isle, 25 miles south-west of the Shetland mainland, but skills including construction skills or experience in knitting are required.

The National Trust for Scotland said today it had received more than 800 inquiries from people interested in the move.

Of those who have expressed an interest, around 95 per cent are from America, and many have knitting skills which the island is famous for.

In total, 80 firm applications have been received to live on the island, which has a population of just 70.

One of the three properties available has already been let to a marine engineer who was born on the island and who had hoped to return.

There are now two houses available, one four-bedroom and one five. No jobs are offered but there will be opportunities, particularly for those with construction skills or experience in knitting.

Angus Jack, NTS regional surveyor in Inverness who is handling the leasing, said: "There is no doubt that the Americans are attracted by the knitting.

"Many of the applicants from the States have families that they would bring with them. Many of their applications are very good, they have the skills we are looking for in knitting, construction, IT and engineering.

"There has been a major interest in knitting and the vast majority of Americans do have knitting skills. We have even had applications from men who are avid knitters.

"Some applicants have written books on knitting, one in particular wants to write a book specifically on Fair Isle knitting."

Mr Jack said the NTS and the islanders' housing forum will draw up a shortlist of around eight applicants by the beginning of next month. These people will be asked to produce detailed business plans and research how they would make a living on the island.

Of these. two or three will be asked to travel to the Fair Isle for a three-day visit, after which the forum will decide which candidates should make the move.

Fair Isle is well known as a knitting method and a pattern type. Real Fair Isle patterns are built up in horizontal bands, by knitting two coloured yarns in each row.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Eye Candy Friday

Iona Abbey, Isle of Iona, Scotland

I visited here when my parents came out for a visit. It was such a beautiful, peaceful, remote island. Worth a visit if you're in the area.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Homage to the Electrical Goddess

It's that awkward time of year. It's chilly enough that a warm blanket is a near constant companion, but it's not quite cool enough out to justify turning on the heat. My compromise, is to turn on our electric fireplace for a bit. I'll close both doors to the living room, turn on the fireplace, and snuggle down. Caiomhe likes to snuggle down, too, right in front of the fire.

Caiomhe worships the heating Goddess

I think this windy/rainy/sunny/rainy-again day calls for a bit of knitting. The fire is off and Caiomhe and I have returned to our normal codependent state of trying to keep each other warm in our roles of lap and lap-warmer.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The benefit of early, dark nights... that it makes for early star-gazing. Mr. Tall pointed out a spot in our backyard where there is little interference from street lamps, and I was blown away by all the stars I could see in the sky.

When was the last time you took a moment like that? What did you do?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Two Years

Today is our second wedding anniversary :)

The day started out great and sunny - not what we were expecting for a November Seattle wedding. But then, it started to rain, which left us this gorgeous treat to enjoy during our reception.

As china is the "modern" anniversary gift and we are so not china people, we instead went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner. We laughed over the waitress who couldn't understand a request for "tap water" and brought us "white wine". My fortune cookie said something about me having silly dreams (I think the point was that perhaps I should be more serious about the things I dream of doing but think are silly...)

There is knitting going on here - I'm hoping to have a couple FO's within the next week or so :)

Monday, November 5, 2007


Remember, remember the fifth of November,
The gunpowder, treason, and plot,
I know of no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

Today is Guy Fawkes Day, which (at least in this area) is more commonly known as Bonfire night. Fawkes was born in York, and you can still visit the church he was baptized in, and even stay in the room he was born in, as it is now a hotel.

The story goes that Fawkes, a Catholic, was a conspirator in the Gunpowder plot of 1605. The aim of the plot was to blow up Parliament, kill the Protestant King James I, and bring about a rebellion to make England a Catholic country once more.

The plot failed, Fawkes was apprehended, tortured, tried and eventually killed for his part in the conspiracy.

Today, the foiling of the plot is still celebrated. Bonfires and firework displays dot the countryside, and occasionally effigies of Fawkes are burned.

Last year's bonfire

Last year's bonfire and full moon

I'm not sure if we're going to go this year or not. We were in Los Angeles a couple weeks ago, during the wildfires, and we may be "fired" out.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

A quick one today...

I've decided that November is a bad month for a knitter to try this blog-post-a-day thing. I'm still giving it a go, but it's so hard not to share knitting with you that will (hopefully) be a gift in a few weeks!

In other news, we had a rare treat here. Mr. Tall has subscribed to NASN, a cable station that plays North American sports. We get a few college (American) football games each week, along with some other sports. Today, we got to watch my alma mater, the University of Oregon, defeat the (no longer) undefeated Arizona Sun Devils!

Perhaps the Ducks will be at the Rose Bowl this year. If so, perhaps we'll camp out spots and watch the Rose Parade live!

Go Ducks!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Everyday uses for knitting gear

An everyday row counter becomes...

A tally of trick-or-treaters for Halloween!

Hopefully, I'll remember to look at this post next year, so I can buy enough candy and not have to do the emergency run to Tesco as we did this year ;)

Friday, November 2, 2007

Not knitting, but beautiful all the same.

Last July, Mr. Tall and I visited Paris for a long weekend. We had been living in the UK for a month and couldn't wait to get out and explore "the continent" a bit more. It was in Paris that we really developed an appreciation for art museums.

While we liked The Louvre, we preferred Musee d'Orsay. Perhaps it was the much more manageable size, or perhaps it was just the style - d'Orsay exhibits a lot of impressionist art. At the time, there was a special exhibit on the works of J. F. Willumsen. Willumsen (1863-1958) was a Danish painter, sculptor, ceramist, architect, and photographer.

One work in particular caught my eye.

Willumsen - A Mountain Climber, 1904

There are so many things I love about this work of art. I love the sense of strength and confidence emanating from the woman while she is resting. I imagine that she is looking down into a valley, reflecting on the beauty of the area instead of congratulating herself for reaching that point (as I would likely be doing). I love that my reaction to this artwork is to feel a sense of peaceful empowerment. The colors and technique astound me - especially in person.

Ever since stumbling across Willumsen at d'Orsay, I've changed my museum-visiting strategy. I used to go into a museum with the intention of seeing the popular highlights. Now, my goal is to find other unknown-to-me artists, much like Willumsen, whose work strikes me.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Happy Birthday!

Today, I'm kicking off NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) with birthday wishes for my dear husband.

At a luau on Kauai during our honeymoon

Happy birthday, and thanks for giving me a great reason to bake some carrot cake! I really hope it makes up for the horrendous eggs I tried cooking you this morning ;)

MLAR always :)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween everyone :)

I've just decided that Halloween is probably the most perfect holiday ever. Granted, I may change my mind when Flag Day or Arbor Day comes around, but for now, I'm convinced.

Posing with my pumpkin circa 1980 or so


  • There is no dress code. It's a one-day special "fashion pass". If you normally dress up for work, you may be able to get away with dressing down. If you normally dress casually, you can dress up without the annoying "why are you so dressed up today?" questions. If you have been wondering what you'd look like if you were goth, or punk, or Victorian, you can try out your new look, and go back to being yourself the next day - provided the "temporary" hair coloring washes out as promised.
  • Just like the "fashion pass", there's a "candy pass". You can buy copious amounts of candy with no explanation required. You don't have to worry about the cashier wondering if you can really eat that much candy (Answer: Yes, I can, and with startling speed).
  • This is a holiday that, despite it's pagan origins, seems fairly secularized. Yes, I'm sure there are objectors, but overall, there is little quibbling about the display of Halloween decorations in public places.
  • There is little expectation to be anywhere (at least until you have kids when you NEED to be out trick-or-treating). Couples don't need to worry about which family to visit, you can stay home and welcome trick-or-treaters, or leave the house entirely and pretend that Halloween never existed.
  • Three things: Pumpkin carving, roasted pumpkin seeds, and late-night showings of Poltergeist.

    What's your favorite holiday?

  • Monday, October 15, 2007

    Things I Love - CutePDF

    Today I'd like to introduce a new feature to the blog - Things I Love. These posts will focus on items that I find helpful in a knitting and/or blogging context despite not being intended for that purpose. I hope that you may find them useful as well and I welcome any ideas for future posts.

    Today's "Thing I Love" is CutePDF. CutePDF is a free post-script printer that will create a .pdf file from virtually any printable document. In this case, "free" doesn't only refer to the cost, but it's also free of spyware, popups, and advertisements.

    This is a very simple program to use. To create a .pdf of a file or webpage, pull up the print menu, and select "CutePDF" instead of your normal printer.

    All that's left is to name your file and you're done. When you open the file, it looks exactly as it would had you printed from your printer. If you have saved a webpage, the URL will be at the top of the page, in case you need to go back to the page later.

    This has quickly become my preferred method for saving the knitting patterns (and recipes, articles etc.) I find on the internet. When I save patterns, I also save a .jpg of the finished item as well. By setting the folder that these files are in to "Thumbnail" view, it's really easy to see what patterns I have saved.

    Using CutePDF means that you neither have to worry about printing, saving or filing printed patterns, nor do you need to worry about a link to a pattern breaking (or your internet being down). If you keep patterns on your PDA, the .pdf file will be easy to transfer to your PDA for on-the-go knitting.

    While this program makes it a lot easier to share and distribute free knitting patterns, please take care to include (and respect) any copyrights already existing on the pattern.

    Saturday, October 6, 2007

    (Late) Eye Candy Friday

    Last Friday, the day after I posted about the sale at my LYS, I came home to find this waiting for me:

    Welcome surprise

    Turns out that Mr. Tall stopped by the same shop and picked up a couple extra skeins of Baby Alpaca DK for me. This was my special purchase to myself, so it was an extra special gift. I have seven luscious skeins of this waiting for me once I finish my Christmas knitting. Apparently, his "stash" are some other goodies he picked up at the same sale.

    I have a confession: after thinking about how sweet a guy Mr. Tall is for thinking of me and spoiling me, my next thought was a very sound, logical one: If he has a stash yet doesn't knit, then he can't really can't comment on the size of my stash, can he?

    For those wondering, the "who has two thumbs..." is from the US version of "The Office"

    Thursday, September 27, 2007

    Tidbits and Miscellany

    First, thank you all so much for your helpful comments on my last post. While I started blogging for myself and my own record keeping, it's really great to get support and advice from others out there. Knowing people are stopping by is great motivation in so many ways.

    Yarn Sale
    One "LYS" in this area is actually a news agent. They have a small (but luxurious) selection of high-ticket yarns - RYC, Rowan and the now discontinued Jaeger. Unfortunately, they have recently decided to stop selling yarn, and are selling their inventory at 2 GBP a skein!!! This is roughly a 50-60% discount over normal prices. I did indulge, but won't be sharing my finds with you today. The majority of what I purchased is for Christmas knitting, and some recipients-to-be read this blog (hi mom!). So much of the fun of gift-giving is in the surprise, so I hope you'll understand. If you are local, head out to Market Cross News in Beverley (located in the Saturday Market) and go wild!

    Things to Come
    I have a few ideas ruminating in my head for recurring posts here. I hope to get the first of these started in October, so stay tuned and check back. If there's anything you'd like to see or see more of (would you like to know more about me? want more pictures?), let me know!

    In Progress
    I'll post more details on this later, but here's a part of what I'm working on right now. It is very seasonally relevant, but it's not a turkey.

    Bird Leg

    Thursday, September 20, 2007

    Two FO's and some beading

    Lately I've been feeling like there's just not enough time for anything - but not in a bad way. I've just been hit with a desire to create, to craft and to learn. I have been good - I haven't started a bunch of projects that now lay unfinished, but we all know that is a very slippery slope, and I'm starting to slide.

    Before I sank into the quagmire of starter-itis, I really wanted to finish the Ballerina Wrap Sweater I begun for my neice. As I was working on the 0-3 month size, and she was a large baby, there was really a clock ticking and I didn't want to delay. At last, it is done.

    Completed Ballerina Wrap Sweater

    Start - End: July 21 - September 20, 2007
    Pattern: "Ballerina Wrap Cardigan" from Sublime #600
    Yarn: Sirdar Snuggly Baby Bamboo in Pink
    Needles: KnitPicks Options size US7 (4.5 mm)
    New-to-me: Making (and sewing up) a sweater!

    This was the first sweater I've ever done, and I really think I learned a lot in the process. Granted, most of the stuff I learned came a bit too late to be useful for this sweater, but I know it now and will be able to use it in the future.

    While I received a lot of help over the course of finishing this up, I really really have to thank Susoolu for practically holding my hand through the seaming and setting of the sleeves. I reached that part of the pattern in a state of near panic and she really helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel. All told, this was an enjoyable process, one I'm glad I did for the first time on the miniature scale. Perhaps I'm ready to make something to get through the cold and rainy English winter.

    What are your best tips for sweater making? Best resources, hints, and tips online? Drop me a comment because I would really like to hear them!

    Given that it's fall and it's my duty both as an aunt and as a knitter to keep adorable soft baby feet warm, I decided to use some of my leftover edging yarn for a pair of booties.

    Mary Jane Booties

    These are the same booties I made before, knit up in the Sirdar Snuggly Baby Bamboo. All other details can be found here. Together, the set is really quite cute.

    Sweater and Bootie set

    One of the projects that I'm really itching to start is some bead knitting. While I still haven't started that yet, I tested the waters this afternoon by making myself a couple of stitch markers.

    First stitch markers

    I used lobster clasps on them, and I'm not sure if this was a good or bad idea yet. On the one hand, I can use them either as regular stitch markers, or removable ones. On the other hand, they are small enough that they don't fit anything larger than a 4.0 mm needle. Still, it's a start and I can't wait to use them to bring an extra level of luxury to my knitting.

    Stitch markers

    Wednesday, September 12, 2007

    Losing myself in the pages

    Today, I picked up a number of titles from the library that I reserved over the weekend:

    Library Acquisitions

    They are Knitting by Sarah Dallas, Knitted Toys: 21 Easy-to-Knit Patterns for Irresistible Soft Toys by Fiona McTague and The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs.

    When the librarian handed me the books off the reservation shelf, she said "Oh! The knitting books!", which made me a bit worried. Had I become that girl? Some weird knitting-obsessed person?

    As I pondered, I wandered the market and found my way into the Oxfam Bookshop. I was able to get a few books there for 2 GBP each:

    Oxfam Acquisitions

    They are Simple Crochet by Erika Knight, Simple Knits for Easy Living also by Erika Knight and a book of fondue recipes from Marks and Spencer.

    Yeah... One crochet book and one knitting book. *sigh* I guess I am that girl!

    Sunday, September 2, 2007

    WIP: Toe warmers

    You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.
    ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

    I'm sure that Eleanor Roosevelt never intended this statement to be applied towards something as harmless as knitted footwear. Nevertheless, I think it is still sage advice for anyone embarking on their first pair of knitted socks.

    In fact, I decided to truly look fear in the face and for my first pair of socks cast on... a pair of socks. Toe-up. I think they'll fit, but keep your fingers crossed for me as it's still a bit early to tell.

    My first socks

    I started this while on our Swiss vacation on the train from Interlaken to Luzern. I had to frog a couple times as I kept dropping stitches that I couldn't coax back on the needles. To ease my frustration, I would look out the window at the gorgeous scenery we were moving through - gorgeous blue-green alpine lakes. At first, I had to go really slow to keep confusion to a minimum - which sock was I working on? Which yarn? What needles? (This is where KnitPicks having different colored cables would be extremely useful).

    The details: These are the "On Your Toes Socks" designed by Ann Budd. They can be found in the Summer 2007 issue of Interweave Knits. The wool is Cygnet Wool Rich 4 ply, which I picked up at a Sheepish Woolshop Tour. So far, it's ok to work with. I still have a bit of difficulty when I drop stitches in that I find the yarn a bit splitty.

    In other WIP news, I have finished all the pieces for my Ballerina Wrap Sweater. All that's left is to piece it together and add the edging. I'm not entirely convinced that I know what I'm doing, but I think that I will once again listen to Mrs. Roosevelt's wisdom.

    Sunday, August 19, 2007

    Switzerland :)

    I did it!

    I managed to get a pic!

    Mr. Tall and yours truly in front of Mount Rosa, Switzerland

    Mount Rosa is in the same range as the Matterhorn - the Matterhorn was clouded in though, allowing this taller mountain to get some photo love :)

    I still can't believe that I was there. The scene was breathtaking. I felt as though I was looking at a backdrop put there to fool me, but it is so beautifully real!

    Thursday, August 16, 2007

    Any Knit Picks fans out there?

    Currently, Mr. Tall and I are in Interlaken, Switzerland. On the first-pair-of-socks-front: While I have played around with the Turkish cast-on, the scenery on the trains is just too gorgeous to ignore.

    I had hoped to be able to upload some pictures of our trip so far, but have not yet found an internet terminal that gives me access to plug my camera into.

    But, for KnitPicks fans... I had emailed KnitPicks a while ago (using their on-line comment feature) about perhaps offering their needles (both standard circular and the Options line) with different colored cords. I thought of this again the other day as I was doing the afore-mentioned Turkish cast-on, and thought how much easier it would be if I could identify my needles as the purple cord and the green cord.

    If you are in the same camp as me, would find this useful, and would consider purchasing cords of different colors, go and give them an email, perhaps this could become a possibility :)

    All apologies for mis-spellings and weird formatting in this post. This is a very weird computer...

    Wednesday, August 8, 2007

    WIP: Ballerina Wrap Sweater

    On Sunday, August 5th, my brother and his wife welcomed a beautiful new edition to their family.

    Denay Brooklinn

    This is the niece-in-progress (as was) that I had made Petunia the Purple Pachyderm for. I have another project on the needles for her - a ballerina wrap sweater from a Sublime booklet.

    Ballerina Wrap Sweater

    From top left, clockwise: one sleeve, back, front pieces. All that is left is one more sleeve, the picot edging and the sewing up of the pieces! While I enjoy the pattern, I'm already trying to figure how to do it all in one (or fewer) pieces.

    Like so many others, I apologize for my lack of recent updates and content. If you can bear with me for 3 more weeks, I'll be back to "normal". Mr. Tall and I are off tomorrow evening for almost 3 weeks touring the Swiss alps and part of Bavaria. I have packed some sock yarn and patterns to give socks a go (truthfully, I'm a bit apprehensive!), and am truly hoping to at least keep up a weekly post of scenery and (hopefully) knitting.

    Monday, July 30, 2007

    Big Ben? Covent Garden? Museums? Musicals? No!

    How about...


    While I was in London with my friends earlier in the month (and again this past weekend with Mr. Tall and my brother-in-law), I took the opportunity to seek out Local Yarn Stores (LYSes) and bead shops.

    What? Bead shops? Aren't you still learning how to knit?

    Erm... well... yeah. Doesn't mean I'm not ready to try anything new though, right?

    I first came across some of Rosemary's patterns on Knitty before I really had the confidence to call myself a knitter. The knowledge that such patterns existed lurked in the back of my mind. For those who aren't familiar with her designs, they include beautiful knitted/beaded napkin rings, bracelets, and chokers. Occasionally I would reconsider them, only to decide that I wasn't ready yet, or that finding the materials would be tough in this area.

    Perhaps it was the (late, but welcome) arrival of summer, but I decided it was time to gather materials. After all, knitting with wires and beads in the summer has to be better than using wool, right?

    I first found The London Bead Company. I really enjoyed browsing the store. The staff were friendly and helpful, and the store also sold some yarn and needlecraft supplies - great! I ended up getting some purple jewelry wire and these beads:

    Beads from The London Bead Company

    I then found Creative Beadcraft. I found the shopping experience here to be a bit more pleasant than at The London Bead Company, due to it's layout and arrangement of merchandise. The store - located off Regent street near Carnaby Street - was easy to find and very central to where most visitors to London will be already. I snagged some more beads that caught my eye:

    Oblong beads

    Round beads

    Iridescent beads

    Seed Beads

    I also found Buffy's Beads, which is located about a 5 minute walk from Creative Beadcraft in Kingly Court, off Carnaby street. The shop was gorgeous and fun to walk through - I was wondering how two bead shops could survive in close proximity, but the answer was clear as soon as I walked in. Buffy's Beads focused much more on gemstones and higher-end beads than Creative Beadcraft. Consequently, I didn't feel prepared to buy anything there, but the thought of incorporating gemstones will incubate a bit further in the nether recesses of my mind...

    I'm really itching play with these gorgeous colors, but I think that will wait. Mr. Tall and I have a couple trips lined up - and I think I'll hold off until I'm not too concerned with the portability of a project.

    I did also buy some yarn while in London. I'll save that (and notes on the shops I visited) for a later post.

    Thursday, July 26, 2007

    FO - a very Harry Week!

    As almost everyone is aware, the past couple weeks have been busy for Harry Potter fans. First, the release of the fifth movie, Order of the Phoneix, followed by the release of the seventh and *sob* final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (don't worry, this post is spoiler-free!).

    I was very honored to have two of my friends from the states come out to enjoy the festivities in the UK, and was very glad to finish both of their scarves on time!

    Gryffindor House Scarf for Suzi

    Start Date/Finish Date: February 15 - July 11, 2007
    Pattern: Prisoner of Azkaban scarf by Lauren Kent
    Yarn: Red Heart Super Saver in Claret and Gold.
    Needles: Addi Turbo 5.0mm (US 8) 16" circular
    Notes: 9" wide, 8'7" long. 12 pattern repeats, 70 stitches/round yields 33,810 total stitches.

    This was actually the first of three scarves I started, and the second finished. It ended up a lot bigger than I thought it would (especially in comparison to my shorter friend). Due to it's size and time constraints, I left the scarf at 12 pattern repeats instead of the called for 14.

    Sadly, the night before we were due to see the movie premiere, Katie called telling us that one of her flights had been canceled due to weather :( This meant that there were only 2 of us weirdos who would be showing up to the theater in robes and scarves on opening day. As the tickets were already purchased, Suzi and I went along to the movie, which we pretended not to have seen until we went with Katie the following day.

    Leicester Square Odeon Cinema

    Suzi and I outside the cinema

    While in London, I was able to catch a couple musicals - Mary Poppins and Avenue Q. Both were very good, for very different reasons! We also did the usual sightseeing, and some shopping.

    After spending time in London, a change of scenery was in order, and so we took the train up to Yorkshire. Suzi and Katie stayed with Mr. Tall and myself for a few days - one of which included an expedition to York to pick up the final book.

    Ravenclaw (movie) House Scarf for Katie

    Start Date/Finish Date: June 25 - July 12, 2007
    Pattern: Prisoner of Azkaban scarf by Lauren Kent
    Yarn: Caron Simply Soft in Dark Country Blue and Grey Heather
    Needles: Addi Turbo 4.0mm (US 8) 16" circular
    Notes: 7" wide, 6'4" long. 11 pattern repeats, 70 stitches/round yields 31,150 total stitches.

    I initially started this scarf in March on 5.0 mm needles. It was a good deal wider, but unfortunately, I was not going to have enough yarn to finish the scarf. Well... I could've had enough, but the two different shades of the "no dye lot" blue I had were different enough that I decided against it. I frogged and restarted on 4.0 mm needles. Even then, I was only able to do 11 pattern repeats. While I would've loved to have it be longer and wider, like the above Gryffindor scarf and my Ravenclaw scarf, I figure it's for the best. Katie (living in New York) is the one most likely to wear the scarf in the winter to keep warm, and the longer, wider scarves are just too troublesome for "regular" wear.

    For fun, we laid the scarves out side-by-side:

    House Scarves

    The Borders we bought our books from had a great atmosphere - there were costume contests, activities, and best of all - staff costumes. Each staff member was dressed as a different character. All throughout the night we would hear things such as "Harry Potter, call 222" over the intercom. Our place in line snaked through the music section:

    Waiting for the book

    Truth be told, I haven't finished the book yet. This isn't due to lack of interest or excitement - quite the opposite. I only have one time to read this final book (for the first time) and I am trying to savor it!