Monday, October 27, 2008

Shades of Purple

First, let me start off by saying how sorry I am for this post being weeks later than I intended it to be. I have been neglecting this blog lately in practice, though in theory I have been writing posts (in my head) most every day. Many thanks to Linda for giving me a well-deserved nudge. My absence is due mainly to two things – a lack of items I can share with you, and a trip to Italy. I hope my absence can be forgiven, as I will post about both of these in the near future.

Anyways, a year ago I bought some yarn from KnitPicks. While it looked lovely on the screen, what I got was nice… but not quite what I was hoping for. Since then it has been lingering in my stash. I didn’t like it enough to use it, even as a gift, but I also couldn’t quite part with something I had just purchased. A month ago, I decided to try over dyeing it using Kool-Aid. I’m going to save the more specific particulars on that for another post (that in and of itself was quite the story!).

Before - KnitPicks Gossamer in Sunrise - nice but not me!

I set out initially to try to get a nice, rich cranberry color, so I first tried the cherry flavored drink packet. Overall, the effect was ok, but still not what I wanted. In addition, there were lots of patchy places where the color didn’t quite permeate. I decided that perhaps I really wanted a purple color, so I removed the yarn, and added in 3 packets of blue flavor (tropical punch?). The color took much more evenly, and produced a product I was much happier with.

After dyeing

Here is a before and after shot of my dyeing experiment. For my part, I am much happier with the ‘after’ than the ‘before’. I also prefer the more subtle variegation to the more drastic color changes. I’m still trying to decide what to make with the two skeins I dyed, and what to do with the 4 other undyed skeins I have laying around the house.

Before and after - much better!

Dyeing this yarn really got me thinking about the state of current US politics. I generally stay away from politics on this blog, as I am one of those who gets a little tired of politics invading every corner of my life. I hope you can all forgive me this one exception.

Don’t be alarmed – I won’t tell you who or what to vote for. Quite frankly, if you were to base your vote off of something you read on a personal blog, I would be concerned. If you are still not sure who to vote for, please read information put out by the candidates themselves to see what they say their position is, and also look at their past record to see what they’ve done in practice. Also keep in mind that the Daily Show and Saturday Night Live are quite funny, but perhaps not the best place to turn to if you wish to formulate a political opinion.

So… What does this have to do with my Kool Aid dyeing experiment? The fact that I needed both red and blue to improve this yarn really made me think long and hard about the state of partisan politics in America. To listen to almost anyone in the media these days, you would think that the world would be a Much Better Place if there were only red states or only blue states. Political parties seem to have evolved to the point where one party (and candidate) can do no wrong, and the other party (and candidate) can do no right. The fact that we are divided as a nation is apparent to just about everyone, yet it seems that we continue down a path of stubborn opposition instead of learning to work together.

At the risk of sounding idealistic, I wish we could all step back for a second and look at the candidates and the issues objectively. Certainly there are good and bad aspects to each candidate, as there are for each person. Furthermore, if you stop to consider your viewpoint on many issues (abortion, gay marriage, states’ rights vs. federal rights, size of government, use of tax money, etc.) it’s entirely likely that your view points on topics don’t reflect the viewpoint of only one party. Your personal political profile is likely a shade of purple, rather than red or blue.

After all, how likely is it that everyone within a political party agrees with each other on EVERY topic? The odds of that happening are staggering, which must mean that there must be some issues that you don’t agree with your party on. Are you a democrat that supports the second amendment? Are you a republican that supports abortion? Shouldn’t it follow that we have much more common ground than what is perhaps being portrayed by the media?

In my rather rambling way, I want to encourage people to vote based on their own personal beliefs, not on party politics. Please take the time to do your own research and formulate your own opinion with an open mind. While I know we will all never agree on anything, it must be possible to at least respect different opinions without bashing and belittling each other. We are all shades of purple as individuals. The nation is strengthened by this diversity, and can only benefit from us working together as shades of purple, instead of clashing as reds and blues.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Another FO: Reversible Brioche Scarf

My other final finished Christmas Gift (again, last Christmas) is this scarf made for my dad, again to accompany the gloves and hat, all to keep him warm at Seahawks games.

Reversible Brioche Scarf

Start-End: Feb 18 - Mar 8, 2008
Pattern: Reversible Brioche Scarf by Lori Law. I found the directions on The Brioche Stitch much clearer for the brioche stitch itself.
Yarn: RYC Cashsoft Aran in SH008 and SH006
Needles: US7/4.5 mm
New-to-Me Techniques: Brioche stitch

I can't recommend The Brioche Stitch website enough for anything to do with the brioche stitch. The site contains directions and color pictures of many different variations. Much like entrelac, I found the brioche stitch to be a lot of fun once you got the pattern down. I did make a couple mistakes, and found it very difficult to rip back, so there are more "design features" in this than I would normally like.

Brioche up close

This is another pattern I may do again. The knitted fabric is very warm and cushy.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

FO Parade: Seahawks-Inspired Danica

I've finally finished all of my Christmas knitting... from last Christmas.

I've posted before about making Danica for my mom to accompany a pair of gloves and a hat to keep her warm at the Seahawks games, and I'm very pleased to say that it's all blocked and ready to be mailed.

Danica completed

Start-End: Jan 1-27, 2008
Pattern: Danica by Jesse Loesberg
Yarn: RYC Cashsoft Aran in SH008, SH004, SH006
Needles: KnitPicks US 8/5.0 mm
New-to-me Techniques: Entrelac
Modifications: I wanted a wider scarf, but instead of adding an extra column of diamonds, I changed the number of base triangle stitches to 16, instead of 10.

Despite having a lot of ends to weave in, I really enjoyed this pattern. I found entrelac to be a lot of fun - simple enough that you can still watch a movie, but with enough complexity that you don't get bored. I also loved working with this yarn. It's the type of yarn that is spendy enough I would likely never have bought it, but when you get it at 75% discount (due to a store closing) you grab what you can.

When blocking this scarf, I decided to try blocking wires. I found a few stainless steel wires at a local welding supply, and enjoyed how quick and easy the process was.

Blocking Danica

I already have plans to knit this pattern again, perhaps playing with the arrangement of color blocks.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

FO: Fearless or Foolish?

Over on Knitting Daily, there has been much talk of being a fearless knitter. As a still-somewhat-new-knitter, I find it very easy to be a fearless knitter. For example, I've found that a lack of experience and knowledge as a knitter makes it easy to explain away less-than-wise choices. No one is more accustomed to frogging and not getting things right than a beginning knitter, so I've learned that being fearless and learning new things go hand-in-hand. Not being fearless would mean that I would still be in stockinette or garter-stitch land. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I do like a challenge.

So, when Susoolu asked at a WI meeting for craft items for an upcoming rally, I offered up one of my recent FO's. It didn't occur to me until after Susoolu had collected the item that it might be judged, and this struck a bit of fear in me. What would be said about an item that was made by a beginner who had no idea that it would ever be judged?

So I ask you: Opening yourself up for critique and criticism by submitted a knitted but not-intended-to-be-judged item for judging... fearless knitting, or foolish behavior?

Hooded Baby Blanket

Start-End: March 19 - May 9, 2008
Pattern: Hooded Baby Blanket by Nikol Lohr
Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton-Ease in Lake and Charcoal
Needles: US8/5.0 mm
Modifications: Added the "waves" cable pattern (#125) from the Vogue Stitchionary Volumne 2: Cables
New-to-Me Techniques: Cabling without a cable needle

This is pattern is an easy quick knit, perfect for baby showers. The pattern itself is a great canvas to which you can add anything you would like for extra personalization. I had a lot of fun with the cable pattern, though I wish I had left one or two stitches/rows around the pattern to make picking up for the border a bit easier.

The Cotton-Ease is a real great yarn to work with. It is a 50% cotton/acrylic blend that looks lovely but is easier on your hands than 100% cotton.

As for cabling without a cable needle, I found this tutorial from Grumperina, which is very easy and straight forward. There is a moment of potential panic, as you have live stitches off needles, but depending on what your project is, it shouldn't be too scary. It is a very slick trick and I'm glad I learned how to do it.

Border detail

As for the WI rally, the items were judged, and all told I think I came out of it pretty well.

The judge's decision

Not bad! That's 19/20, with the comment that the item may be heavy for a real little baby. It's a fair enough point, but I do like the use of cotton in a baby blanket/hooded towel. As for the recipient, it will soon be mailed off to a little guy who had a rough and early start on life, but is doing ok.

Woolfest 2008

I've had so much I want to share here lately, and not as much time to sit down and share it with you. Today, I'll let pictures do the talking as I share with you images from this year's Woolfest.

The drive to the Lake District is beautiful, regardless of the weather

There are alpacas

Shorn sheep

and Longwool sheep

Live music fills the building

Oversized knitting needles if you would like a challenge

or perhaps you'd prefer a spinning wheel

Colorful jumbles of roving

and neatly bundled ones

Friday, June 13, 2008

Today, I...

Went kayaking in the fjords

Took a hike

That had a great view

Saw beauty on the way to dinner

Turned 30!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Almost back...

So sorry for the absence lately. I'm working on a proper post (proper for a knitting blog at least). I've been quite busy at work, and traveling a bit and... well... you know. I have been knitting and do have some FO's to share.

Today, we went to visit an archaeological site locally - one of the perks of working at a University. We got to take a peek at some of the artifacts they have found.

Roman Coin

Saturday, April 12, 2008


Recently, our limited dinner menu has left us in a major rut, as we mostly repeat the same basic dishes week after week. While this makes grocery shopping easy, it doesn't make our evening meals anything more than a routine chore. So, enough is enough! We decided to remedy the situation by trying three things:

  1. Expand our palettes
  2. Eat healthier - portion control and caloric intake
  3. Eat better - cut back on: ready-made foods loaded with preservatives, processed foods and convenience foods; increase: whole grains, fruits and vegetables, cooking from scratch.

Last night at my knitting group, I was sharing these aspirations with Pampootie and Susoolu, when I mentioned the one wrench in this entire plan:

I don't know much about cooking.

Now, I can bake somewhat decently. I suspect this is because things like cookies, cakes and bread are fairly straightforward: measure, mix, & stick in the oven. For a novice like myself, that's fairly simple. But let's face it: a good number of cookbooks today are anything BUT simple. Whenever I try looking for new recipes, I get a bit disheartened because most recipes seem pretentious and complex. In addition, there are ingredients and techniques I've never heard of!

Susoolu and Pampootie were quite understanding about this, and in addition to many tips, and kind offers of assistance (I don't think they know what they're getting themselves into!), they steered me in the direction of Nigel Slater's Real Fast Food.

While Mr. Tall and I were out browsing the shops and the Saturday market today, we picked up a copy of Real Fast Food, and when we hit the recipe for "Blue Cheese Pasta", we knew that would be our dinner for this evening.

Real Fast Food's focus is on meals that can be made in under a half an hour (roughly) using good quality, simple ingredients - ones you should be able to find in most supermarkets. Many recipes have variations noted, making this book an ideal starting point for your own experimentation. Thankfully, tips and helpful advice are plenty. I am so grateful to have had this book recommended to me, as it's not one I would've picked up on my own. The copy we found is very basic - it looks more like a trade paperback than a cookbook. No glossy photos to make your mouth water just by looking at them. Don't let that put you off! This book is completely worth it.

For dinner tonight, we did indeed make the "Blue Cheese Pasta". It was simple, quick and delicious. We used Gorgonzola, but paired it with some irreverent Scooby Doo shaped pasta. We can't take things too seriously now, can we?

Blue Cheese Pasta with bread from the Saturday Market

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Weekend

Mr. Tall and I took advantage of a four-day weekend by visiting Wales.

There were rainbows...

...that you could see the end of (no gold, though!)

And so many lovely books!

Monday, March 10, 2008

I must have hit the big time...

Today, I got my very first spam comment! I know that I may grow tired of them someday, but for the moment, I'm ecstatic that my blog has attracted the spammer type of attention.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

A Miraculous Day...

A week or so ago, we were watching TV and an Oreo commercial came on. Not a big deal if you're in America, but here in the UK, we've only found them available (as 4-cookie snack packs) at a deli in our town.

Today, while grocery shopping, we stumbled upon this:

Mr. Tall's version of heaven

Of course, Mr. Tall helped himself to a couple packs. What was funny was watching other people respond to the display. Overall, people would pick up a package, turn it over and over and around, as if trying to figure out what an Oreo is.

So, if you've never tried an Oreo cookie and see this display at a store near you, buy a pack and tell me what you think!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

FO: Matinee Coat

Earlier this week, I mailed off my penultimate lingering Christmas gift - a matinee coat for my niece, Denay.

Matinee Coat - finished

I really liked the lace stitch pattern at the bottom of the coat - it did take me a few attempts to get the pattern down, but once I got going, it was really quick and fun. It's a one-row pattern, with a purl row on the wrong side.

I decided to work the body of the jacket in one piece to eliminate some seaming. For this, I worked the sides and back of the lace pattern together, and separated the pieces once I reached the stockinette section.

Start-End: ?,2007 - Feb 17, 2008
Pattern: Matinee Coat from Simply Baby by Debbie Bliss
Yarn: Sirdar Snuggly DK in shade 0257
Needles: KnitPicks Options and fixed circulars sizes US 6 (4.0 mm), US 3 (3.25 mm) and US 5 (3.75 mm)
New-to-Me Techniques: Lace Knitting

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I felt the yarn could be a little bit splitty. Having said that, it's a great choice for babies - it's quite soft, comes in a variety of colors and is machine washable. I can see using it for other baby projects in the future.

I am very happy with the finished product. All the patterns in Simply Baby are simple and timeless, but require a good amount of seaming up in the end. My biggest gripe with the book is the lack of decent photos and schematics. This particular pattern lacked a good, clear picture of the finished piece. While the photos that were included were well-shot and artistic, they were not particularly helpful, making me very glad for Ravelry.

Thursday, February 7, 2008


There has been knitting lately, albeit at a much slower pace than I would like. This has been a very busy week for me. Mr. Tall and I both managed to get sick, with different bugs. While he has apparently been resistant to whatever I brought home, I can't say the same for myself :( This is also my last week at OldJob, which has proved to be very draining, especially given that I don't quite feel 100%.

But the main cause of stress this week has been my UK driving test. Thankfully, this morning I won that battle.

I passed!

I was really worried that I was going to fail this test the first time around. This is largely due to:

  1. The higher percentage of people who fail this test the first time.

  2. The differences in UK and US driving requirements

  3. That I've developed bad driving habits over the (almost) 14 years since I have taken a driving test

  4. That my driving instructor, while well-meaning, made me MORE nervous and MORE paranoid than any human should be.

Still, this morning I was relieved the moment I saw my examiner. He was one of those people you look at and immediately know that everything is going to be o.k. - a proper older English gentleman, complete with tweed cap and jolly disposition. In the end, I survived having only incurred 3 out of the allowed 15 minor faults.

I feel much better now that I can legally drive in the UK again, and am looking forward to a quiet weekend of R&R and knitting before I start NewJob on Monday!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

On a very blustery day...

I’m a 4 seasons kinda gal. I love fall color, spring buds, winter chill and summer warmth equally. After living in Southern California for a couple years, a move to the UK, and a return to seasons, has been a welcome change. In some ways, I feel as though I am rediscovering the seasons when I wake up one morning and notice a fallen leaf, or a brighter morning.

I’m not ready for spring yet. I say that at a great risk of being outcast, as most people I encounter on a daily basis have turned complaining about the weather into an art form. For my part, I’m perfectly content to have a few more weeks of cold dreariness (it’s great for curling up with a good movie and knitting the day away!).

Almost spring flowers

Nevertheless, I know spring is right around the corner, and while I’m not ready for spring just yet, I will be by the time these bloom. Until then, they’re a great reminder that time is fleeting and seasons are cyclical. I will relish what is left of winter, then enjoy spring, summer, and fall until winter returns again.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Collection of Handy Technique Links

For my own benefit, and perhaps yours, here are some links that may prove helpful in the future.

Nona Knits: Yarn Dominance
Technique for holding yarns in Fair Isle knitting to produce a clear, crisp color pattern.

Knitting Daily: Measuring Yourself
Photo guide to make sure you get your measurements right for best fit.

Sock Pr0n: Weaving ends in while kntting
Photo guide to weaving in your stray ends as you knit. Jogless Rounds
Eliminating jogs while working in the round.

Chic Knits: Zipper Installation
Photo guide to inserting zippers in your knitting project.

A Kitten Knits: The Thumb Trick
Working an afterthought thumb for mittens.

Intarsia in the Round
A way to work intarsia in the round.

Girl from Auntie: Moebius
How to knit a moebius loop.

Marnie Talks: Lace charts in Excel
Tutorial to creating charts in Excel.

HeartStrings FiberArts: Tension Blocking Tips
Blocking lace.

Persistent Illusion: Judy's Magic Cast-On
Great Cast-On technique for toe-up socks and the like.

Cosmicpluto: Short Row Heel Tutorial
Working short row heels on socks.

The Knitting Fiend: Sock Links
A collection of tips and techniques for sock knitting.

Sock Knitting Tips
More sock knitting tips.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Christmas Knitting - Part 3


Sadly, the scarves to match my parents' hats and gloves are not quite finished yet.

For mom, I'm working on Danica from Knitty.

Danica, Seahawk Style*

I haven't started Dad's yet, but I'm thinking of either doing a scarf with narrow vertical stripes, or the similar-yet-different High School Colors Scarf.


For my niece, I have in progress the Matinee Coat from Debbie Bliss' Simply Baby. I'm knitting the sides together with the back, to eliminate some seaming up. Over the holidays, I got so far as to reach the point where I finished the lace and then started working the upper, stockinette section... until I realized that at this point I needed to be knitting the back and sides separately. Much frogging and yarn detangling later, I am here:

Matinee Coat

THE HATS (again)

Mr. Tall on a snowy Christmas Day

Start-End: December 21 - 22, 2007
Pattern: A Hat Fit for a Boyfriend by Stephanie Nicole
Yarn: Lion Brand Wool-Ease Solid in #152 Oxford Gray
Needles: US 8 (5.0 mm) 16 inch circular Addi Turbos
Notes: I fell in love with the way the decreases in this simple ribbed hat worked. On one of my days off, I cast on soon after Mr. Tall left for work and finished late that evening (technically, early the next morning). Perhaps it was the lateness of the hour, but I was simply amazed. About a year previous, I spent a few weeks making my first ever hat (and knitted item) - The Chocolate Ribbed Hat. It was amazing to me to think of how much I learned in just one year.

Decreases on the Hat Fit for a Boyfriend Husband

Spiderman Hat for my nephew, Wyatt

Start-End: December 18 - 27, 2007
Pattern: We Call Him Spidey from PumpkinKnits, based off the Generic Norweigan Hat from Hello Yarn.
Yarn: Patons Fab DK in #2321 (blue), #2323 (red), and #2311 (black).
Needles: US 3 (3.25mm)
New-to-Me Techniques: Fair Isle Knitting, Continental Knitting
Notes: Despite using DK weight instead of 4 ply, I kept the needle size the same as in the original pattern. The resultant hat is too small for me, but still a bit too big for my nephew. I really enjoyed this pattern and could see trying to design my own chart in the future. I taught myself how to knit Continental so that I could speed up the colorwork by knitting one color Continental and the other using the English method.

Wyatt in his Spidey hat

* All apologies for the weird WIP photos in this post. I prefer to shoot in natural light, which has been lacking a bit lately in this area.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Christmas Knitting - Part 2

Knowing that my parents heads would stay warm and toasty while watching the Seahawks games, I thought they could stand to have some warm hands as well...


Fetching for Mom

Pattern: Fetching by Cheryl Niamath
Yarn: RYC Cashsoft Aran in Haze (#00004)
Needles: (KnitPicks Options) Used 5.0mm needles for cabled wrist portion, switched to 4.5mm for the next 6 rows and then 3.75mm needles to the thumb opening. Worked the remainder of the gloves in 4.5mm needles.
Notes: I put 20 rows of ribbing between cable and thumb opening instead of 18. I think if I was to make these again, I would find away to make the cuff section longer by a couple inches to cover the wrist/lower arms a bit better. I would also leave off the picot binding. While it's nice, it's just not my thing :)

This pattern was really fun and quick to work up. It was my second cabling project, and I still am thrilled with how slick cables are. Perhaps I'm a bit too easily amused...

Dashing for Dad

Start/End: December 10-22, 2007
Pattern: Dashing by Cheryl Niamath
Yarn: RYC Cashsoft Aran in Tornado (#00008)
Needles: US 7 (4.5 mm)
Notes: For these, I worked each glove to the first cable, then transferred the stitches to two circular needles so that I could work both gloves at the same time. For some reason, I just couldn't wrap my head around how to start both gloves on two circs, but this worked just as well. I also only worked 16 rows after the thumb holes instead of 18 as the gloves seemed to be getting a bit long.

I haven't yet decided where my Christmas knitting recap will go next, so stay tuned and be surprised!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Christmas Knitting - Part 1

Ok, so I'm finally getting to the point where I can catch up and move forward. Luckily, not much else is happening at the moment (oh, except I got a new JOB!) so you're not missing much.

My parents are Seahawks season ticket holders, and have been for some time. Back in the day, they had four tickets as brother and I were a bit young to stay home. That was in the days of the Kingdome and the end of the Steve Largent era.

They still go to the games - no longer with brother and I, and no longer at the Kingdome. While Qwest Field is a nice stadium, it lacks something the Kingdome had - a roof.

To help keep my parents warm next season, I decided to knit them each a hat/glove/scarf set. Earlier this year, I found a bunch of RYC Cashsoft Aran on sale. Even better, in Seahawk colors!


Mom's hat

Start-End: I did each in a couple days, but I didn't write down which ones.
Pattern: "Classic Ribbed Hat" from Frugal Knitting Haus
Yarn: RYC Cashsoft Aran in Haze (#00004), Tornado (#00008), and Bud (#00006).
Needles: US8 (5.0 mm) 16" circular Addi Turbo.
Notes: This pattern was really easy to follow and worked up really quickly. I absolutely loved this yarn, it was like buttah - I am really glad it was on sale because I wouldn't have bought it at full price.

Dad's Hat

Next up... the gloves!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Our Christmas, Sans Knitting

Hey again, I'm going to catch up with you guys in two parts. First, the brief non-knitting portion.

We were to fly out of London Heathrow on Christmas Eve. On the 23rd, there was a great deal of fog and nearly 140 flights to/from Britain had been canceled. We arrived at the the airport on the 24th, and were told we weren't even allowed to enter the terminal until they were ready to check us in for our flight.

There were tents set up outside for us to wait in. To TPTB's* credit, they were heated, there were chairs and TV monitors tuned to the news, and coffee and tea available. Regardless, we were anxious to start our journey in this less-than-certain state.

Inside the tent, outside the airport

Thankfully, our flight to Seattle was called not long after I pulled out some knitting. The upshot to all this was that we had been upgraded to business class!

Mr. Tall is very happy to stretch out his legs!

Unfortunately, BAA regulations prohibit knitting needles in carry-on luggage. I amused myself by watching some movies (Death at a Funeral was absolutely hilarious! A must see for any fans of Alan Tudyk) and playing around on my computer.

Somewhere over Iceland (we think) we were treated to this gorgeous view:

Moon and sunset

Our time in Seattle was nice and relaxing. I got to meet up with some friends, and we both enjoyed being Americans again. Before we knew it, it was New Year's Eve and time to head to Orange County, CA (home of the Talls). A second good Christmas was had, more friends were visited with, and soon enough that time was over as well.

Much to our surprise and delight, we had been upgraded to business class for the trip home as well! All in all, a great Christmas and great start to the new year.

* The Powers That Be

Friday, January 11, 2008

Knitting is more dangerous than...


Comic from kxcd

This, of course, means that by blogging about knitting, I'm really living dangerously. Don't worry, Mr. Tall knows where my will is so y'all don't end up fighting over my stash should the seemingly inevitable happen.

I'm still here, still finishing Christmas knitting (yeah, I know). I hope to get some stuff posted this weekend.