Thursday, June 28, 2007

FO: Book Ravenclaw Scarf

It's been awhile since I've posted a FO here, and for good reason - my needles are madly clicking away trying to finish three Prisoner of Azkaban style Harry Potter scarves. Well... one down, two to go!

Prisoner of Azkaban Book Ravenclaw Scarf

Start/Finish: March 12, 2007 - June 28, 2007
Pattern: Harry Potter Prisoner of Azkaban Scarf by Lauren Kent
Yarn: KnitPicks Wool of the Andes (100% wool) in Winter Night (11 skeins) and Wheat (2 skeins)
Needles: Addi Turbo 5.0 mm (US8) 40 cm (16 inch) circular needles.
New-to-me techniques: PATIENCE!, three needle bind off.
Important stats: 85 stitches per round and a full set of 14 trapped bar repeats (559 rows) yields 47,515 stitches. This is 8 feet, 10 inches long and ranges from 9.5-10 inches wide.

47,515. Four-seven-five-one-five. Forty-seven THOUSAND five hundred fifteen stitches. I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that I knit that many stitches. I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that I've done anything that many times. But, as the only knitter in my household, it must be true.

One would think that working a pattern like this - stockinette in the round - would get boring. I didn't really get tired of it. I would often knit while watching a movie or TV show, listening to an audiobook or podcast, which I think really really helped.

There's not much else to say about something this straight forward. I decided to try a three-needle bind off, which worked quite well, I think. However, the difference in appearance of the two ends is what ultimately lead to my decision to add the fringe.

Initially, I wanted to add the "S" monogram by intarsia or duplicate stitching with the bronze color, but that was not to be as I was lucky to have enough to finished my last set of trapped bars. Instead I purled it in. The benefit to also being a cross-stitcher is the fact that a lot of cross-stitch software will allow you to "type" using any font on your computer and have it display in stitches. I believe the font for this is Copperplate. As I was adding this to the last repeat of the scarf, I decided to add it in "upside down" so it wouldn't seem upside down while wearing the scarf. While I remembered to turn my pattern upside down, I forgot about the fact that I was knitting right to left while reading left to right. Oops! I frogged back and fixed it and am quite pleased with the results.

I think I will have to postpone Part 2 of my ogranization picturepalooza. Tomorrow we're off to the Lake District after work to partake in Woolfest, so I will catch up with that in the upcoming weeks!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

New look (sorta)

I thought I had my tweaked look for the blog finished (for now), until I had Mr. Tall look at it in Internet Explorer. The right hand sidebar is gone :(

I feel immense pride in this template - I took a very basic three-column template and modified the heck out of it into what you see here (at least if you have firefox).

For those reading, this is (for now) best viewed using Firefox. If you're using another browser, please could you drop me a comment and tell me what browswer, what you see and how it looks?

~A very tired wanna-be code monkey

ETA: I think I fixed it. I would still appreciate any and all feedback as I would love to know how it's working on other systems with other browsers.

Monday, June 25, 2007

WIP: Blocking!

I am 99.9% done with one of my three Harry Potter PoA-style scarves! This is the first project I've used 100% wool for, and it's the first project I've ever blocked. Originally, I wasn't planning on blocking it, but I wanted to make sure that the crease along the side went where I wanted it to, and I did have a few patches of uneven stitches, so I decided to give it a try...

For blocking, I chose our conservatory - it's one of a few rooms in our house long enough to hold the scarf, and the fact that it can be shut off from the house is a huge advantage as it keeps curious cat paws off the scarf.

I read up what I could about blocking (it seemed fairly straightforward), and nervously dunked my scarf in a bucket of water. My makeshift blocking board is two yoga mats laid end-to-end. The yoga mats are nice in a pinch in that pins stick easily into it, and there is already a bit of a grid pattern. Now that I've used it, though, I think I will take some time to mark off a few pre-set lines at 1/2 inch (or so) intervals.

It took a couple tries to figure out the best way to tackle a soppy, large scarf. As my rounds weren't done with jogless color changes, I really wanted the uneven bit to be on the edge, where the fold is. After a couple failed attempts, I started a couple repeats from one end, pinned a set of trapped bars on the jogged end, and then made sure I had half the stitches showing. From there, I just kept measuring and pinning, measuring and pinning. Mr. Tall came and asked if he should start dinner (no, not done yet!), and when I finished, it was dark outside. This may not mean a lot depending where you are in the world, but here in England, in June, it's not dark until 10:30 p.m. or so. I had spent 2.5 hours blocking!

Blocking scarf - only a couple inches from each end didn't make it into the photo.

This is 106 inches long (8'10") and 9.5-10 inches wide (I gave up on total perfection after awhile!)

I'm not yet calling this a FO - it's still drying (not aided by the weather, unfortunately), and I still need to trim the finge.

I've also been playing with some different layout options for this blog - I may have that up in the next day or so, so check back!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Eye Candy Friday: Organization (Part 1)

Today I'm going to start the first of two posts sharing how I organize my knitting and knitting accoutrement. Since I bought a new knitting bag today, I figure this week I'll start with how I keep and carry my WIPs.

At home, my knitting lives in a magazine holder. I knit mainly in our main living area, and as such, I wanted any knitting related furnishings to blend in well with the rest of the room.

Magazine-turned-knitting holder

Project-wise, I often like to keep projects in either the Yarntainer my MIL gave me for Christmas (if it's a small project), or these great bags:

Project bag

I found these great bags at Lakeland, a great store that almost makes me not miss Target. Almost. This bag came in a pack of 25 for only 7 GBP.

When traveling, I usually just find a bag to fit whatever project I take with me. I have a simple canvas tote bag that works sometime, and other times, I really like this bag. I got this for 5 GBP at an outlet store in Doncaster.

English/Hawaiian Messenger bag

This bag is pretty great - there's a zippered pocket on the back of the bag, and one on the inside that are great for holding my wallet and phone. There's a largish pocket that works well for patterns or my Vogue Quick Reference book. I only have two issues with this bag - One, it's not overly largish. At this point, it can barely hold one of my Hogwarts scarves, and that's without putting anything else in the bag! Secondly, it closes with velcro. Velcro and yarn just don't go together all that well. At some point, I may rip out the velcro and affix some magnets or some such, but not yet.

Today, I bought a new bag for a whopping 1.50 GBP. Without further ado, here it is:

Super high-tech knitting bag

For those not aware of things on the eastern side of the pond, this is a reusable shopping bag from Marks and Spencer, a grocery/department store. Simple though it may be, I've just found the perfect bag to take to my local knitting group. It's large enough to hold most projects, and it stands up well on its own. This last fact means that I can keep my working skein in the bag and work from it - much easier than trying to balance everything in my lap!

Someday, it might be fun to have a deluxe super beautiful knitting bag, like a Jordana Paige, or an Amy Butler, or a Lexie Barnes. Someday. Not just yet.

Stay tuned for next weeks post with more budget options :)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Eye Candy Friday: straight to the source

I'm still a new enough knitter that I remember life "before". Granted, my memories of "before" usually appear in black and white in my head, but I remember the days of filling my evenings with other hobbies, and spending my spare cash on things other than yarn. Can I say that and still be a part of the knitting community?

I know that the me-that-was had a desire to knit, but didn't. The me-that-was could see a sweater that caught my eye and wonder if it would be flattering on me, not wonder about the construction, the stitch pattern, what yarn I would use... (I think I'll stop there to stay on track for this posting).

Do you remember those old Looney Tunes cartoons, where Yosemite Sam and Bugs were trapped in a cabin. In the middle of nowhere. In a storm. Sitting across each other at the kitchen table. With nothing to eat except one pea to share between the two of them? (Seriously, this is me getting back on track with this post - bear with me). What would inevitably happen is the characters would both stare at the lone, hopeless pea, and then their gaze would drift up to each other. Where the other used to be was now dinner - a nice steak, or cut of hare. (I tried dredging up a picture to illustrate this, but it is not to be found*)

Knitting has had the same affect on me that extreme hunger had on our cartoon heroes. I will never again look at a field full of sheep through the eyes of the me-that-was again.

What I saw before I started knitting

What I see now as a knitter

This was shot in a field on the west coast of Scotland in late May. We had stopped here to get a better look at the stone circle that shares a field with these sheep.

* Seriously. I googled forever on this. Interestingly enough, a Google Image search of "daffy duck salivating" brings up a picture of Jesus wearing a crown of thorns after the crucifixion on the second page. If you happen to know of a picture, please let me know.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

World Wide Knit in Public Day!

I think I can safely say that WWKIPDay here in Hull was successful. Granted, there were things I had wanted to do that I just didn't get time to do (more/better publicity namely), but my one fear was (thankfully!) not realized. People showed up. Really, so long as I wasn't the only one there knitting by my lonesome, I really didn't care about the coulda/woulda/shouldas!

Most knitters there were from the SnB I normally attend, which was great because I really enjoy spending time with them. We had great weather, and as such were able to sit outside and enjoy it. I think there were 12 of us total, but not all at one time.

Yarn, friends, and sunshine - a great day!

I made a sign, and started up a couple swatches, on the off-chance that passers-by would like to learn how to knit. No one stopped by to learn, which left more time for us to work on our projects!

The group

blueadt helps her DD with a sock

Dawn's sock

Tess' fingerless gloves

Marie's cardigan

Zoe's hat

Zoe makes beautiful hand-spun and hand-painted yarn. Her website is definitely worth a browse!

Kaz and I being completely goofy displaying our house scarves

That's all for this year :)

Friday, June 8, 2007

Eye Candy Friday: Petunia

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have a niece-in-progress. As a baby shower gift, I've decided that I will attempt to knit her two things. One is the Matinee Coat from Debbie Bliss' Simply Baby. The other is the Elephant Toy from Joelle Hoverson's Last Minute Knitted Gifts.

The second step (after pattern selection) was to find the yarn. I needed little girl colors (the mom is a bit particular that way), and I wanted to find yarn that was soft and completely machine washable. I ended up with some Sirdar Snuggly DK.

Baby stash!

I decided to start with the elephant. I've been calling her Petunia the Purple Pachyderm. I'm over halfway done, and all I can say is that (for me) this is definite tongue-out knitting! That aside, I am learning a lot and enjoying the process. I thought it best to share (honestly) my experience knitting this up so far. I expect that experienced knitters will get a good chuckle...

Following the directions, I started with the arms. To complete them, I had to learn how to do a mattress stitch, which seamlessly joins up stockinette stitch. I figured out how to do this, to my great pleasure. As promised, here's photographic proof:

Elephant arm

From there, it was time to work on the body. This is knit starting by knitting two squares for legs, keeping the stitches live, then joining the legs and knitting in the round for the body. Then comes the shoulder shaping. I must have done something wrong in how I joined the legs or something, because the shoulders (as I knit them) would have ended up in the middle of the chest and back.

*much mumbling and frogging*

At this point, I ended up frogging everything (except my perfect arms). I decided to knit this up holding the yarn doubled. I like how it's made the fabric feel a bit stronger and sturdier - a good idea for a baby in my mind. This time, I saw that the shoulders were going to end up in the wrong place, so I just did some mental math to get everything in the right spot.

I knitted happily along, pleased with punch at myself. I put stitches on a stitch holder for future use in the trunk (can I just say how much I love the KnitPicks Options set - the cables are perfect stitch holders!). I stopped knitting in the round and instead knitted back and forth. Then... I had to do a provisional crochet cast on. At this point, my internet was down, I didn't have the pattern book handy, and only one of my books covered this - poorly.

I followed the book directions carefully, made a chain, cast on the stitches, and knit around in the row. At this point, my book mentioned removing the crochet chain, which I did... and those "new" stitches unraveled. (You saw that coming, didn't you?).

*puzzled frogging*

I then this again... and got the same result. Even if it's wrong, at least I'm consistent, right?

*frustrated frogging*

I decided to back slowly away from the needles, saving my mumblings for my ISP, and wishing for restored internet.

I have since had my internet restored, and I realize the error in pulling out the crochet chain before it's time. I haven't yet had the time to sit down and move forward (again), but this time I hope to make it a bit farther before needing to frog.

Elephant, currently. Frogging count: 3

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

WWKIP Details!

I haven't forgotten!

World Wide Knit in Public Day is this Saturday!!

We'll meet at the Starbucks (what can I say, I'm from Seattle!) in Hull City Centre Saturday 9 June from 1p.m. - 4 p.m.

Map to Starbucks - 41-45 King George Street