Wednesday, March 27, 2013


I never cease to be amazed after blocking lace. It makes such a difference. Nori was pretty even while on the needles, something that's not been true with lace in my experience.  

Squenchy, but pretty.

I blocked it last night, and I really stretched it to get it to be close to the measurements listed on the pattern (60" x 25")

Nori (mine ravelled here),
knit in Dream in Color Starry, Emerald Darkness colorway (I think)

Look how pretty the stitches became.

Crap. I see a mistake. Please ignore it.

It's drape-y and delightful. This yarn has a little thread of silver going through it, and I think that makes this a little fancier than it would be in plain yarn. I rarely need fancy, but I don't mind rocking a fancy shawl with jeans. (In fact, I believe everything should be rocked with jeans.)

I mentioned it before: This project has lace on every side. Note to non-knitter-of-lace: Often in lace projects, the right side (the side facing you) has fancy lace stitches and the back side is plain. So you get a break and get to do something easy every other row. This pattern had fancy lace stitches on every row, so you had to pay attention all the time.

If I can do this, I certainly can make that cabled wrap. I have (once again) cast on. Onward and upward.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

They're Not All Winners

Pinterest is to blame for many, many failed crafty attempts. Today, I had my own.
The inspiration for these stars is here. Cute, yes? Looks easy, yes?
I started by printing out a star shape and then nailing it to the back of a wooden frame. It would be much better to have nails at all ten points rather than just five, but the frame wasn't solid and I couldn't find another piece of scrap wood. (The small nail holes won't be seen from the front of the frame, so it's not ruined.)

Then I stretched metal florist wire around the nails, bending it until it looked approximately the shape of a star.

Then I used scrap yarn to wrap around it randomly.

You see that happened. I couldn't get the star to stay in its original shape. Part of it is because the wire is pretty flexible, and part of it is because I couldn't figure out a good way to fuse the ends of the wire together. I tried to wrap them around one another, but it wasn't strong enough to hold the join.

They can't all be winners. I think I'll go back to knitting on the shawl now.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Photography Light Box

Our world is covered in snow.

I was fortunate enough to get a snow day. Andrew had to go to work, so I shoveled the drive by myself.

shoveling = excellent workout

After shoveling, I decided to try to build a photography light box. I've had the instructions on my Pinterest board aptly named Someone else make for me! I don't think anyone was going to make it for me, so I decided I'd better do it myself. Here's how I did it:

1. Bring home printer box from work. Cut all four flaps off one end. Cut rectangular hole on two sides. (I also cut off two flaps from the other end, but I think you should not. I just got overexcited with the box cutter.)

2. Tape flaps of one end together. Get Nocturne Inspection.

3. Tape white tissue paper over the holes in the two sides.

4. Put white posterboard inside box for background. I think I need another piece, but I don't know how to place them so I won't have seams showing up in all the photos.

5. Put a lamp on each side of the box. This step needs work. I may need to look for some inexpensive lights that a) are more maneuverable, and b) don't leave us with dark rooms elsewhere in the house.

A lamps shaped like the Eiffel Tower is not necessary, but it does add a bit of je ne sais quoi to the project.

That's it!

I really thought I started with a big box, but it's not all that big when I tried to put half a shawl in it.

Does it look any different that my non-light box pictures? I'm not really sure that it does. Maybe stronger lights on each side will help.

A photograph of a skein of yarn does look pretty good though. I have some tweaking to do, but I think this light box thing is going to work out.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Nori Break

I frogged the cabled wrap... again. I'm taking a break from it and knitting this:

Nori (mine ravelled here),
knit in Dream in Color Starry, Emerald Darkness colorway (I think)

I have one more repeat before I begin decreasing. (It's now bigger than it was in this photo.) It's going well.

Now, if you look at the Nori pattern and then you look at the cabled wrap, something will become immediately clear: Nori is more difficult. It has a 12-row lace pattern with lacy things happening on every row. It's not crazy-hard, but I have to pay attention. I've done a lot of tinking (unknitting) because I got distracted and screwed up somewhere along the row.

The cabled wrap, on the other hand, is basically 2x2 rib. Every 12 rows you have some cabling action, but other than that its just boring rib done on skinny yarn. 

My problem knitting this must be mental. I'm hoping that completing something more difficult like Nori will convince the scared knitter living in my head that I am perfectly capable knitting the cabled wrap with no further problem.

Either that or I'll need to start looking for a new pattern for two different laceweight yarns.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Begin at the Beginning

The last time I wrote about the yarn I was trying to knit into a cabled wrap, the post was titled "Dear Malabrigo Lace: Bite me."

This yarn and I have been through a lot together--not in an "I've got your back when we're behind enemy lines" sort of together. It was more of a "I AM the enemy and I will make you weep into my beautiful merino" togetherness.

Do you remember how beautiful it was?

So pretty.

Talking about this yarn hurts me deep down inside, so let's just say that I have not yet found a pattern that works.

It certainly isn't this:

Pretty pattern, but too busy in this yarn. There's no safe place to rest your eyes. It took me a long time to accept it, but this past weekend I frogged it.

Let's not talk about how difficult it is to frog. It stuck together. It took two of us. It tore into pieces. I spent a couple hours   No, let's move on.

This pattern, however, is beautiful. And so, I have begun again.

knit in Knit Picks' Alpaca Cloud Lace, Smoke Healther colorway

I sort of misplaced the pattern, so I rewrote it how I remember it. What could possibly go wrong?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


After Lynn's socks, I wanted something fast that didn't require much concentration. Enter ribbed socks in sportweight yarn.

Ravelled here, knit in Knit Picks Felici Sport 
in Recess (discontinued) colorway 

These are my usual ribbed socks. They have a 1x1 ribbed cuff and a 3x1 ribbed leg and top of foot. It's done over 64 stitches, and the heel flap is knit over 30. They're fast, the stripes amuse me, and I gave them to the friend who had picked out the yarn. It was like a fiber-y palette cleanser.

Now I'm ready for something that requires a bit more attention. Hello, Nori.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Lynn's Linaria Bipartita

My very good friend Lynn requested socks that were denim-y and rose. It took some searching, but I found this:

 Buffy Sock yarn, colorway Wistful
purchased from JunoFibreArts

I used a pattern from Hunter Hammersen's The Knitter's Curiosity Cabinet. The pattern is beautiful.

Linaria Bipartita socks (mine ravelled here)

It's a 16 row repeat, and it took me a long time to be able to really see the pattern. That's no fault of the pattern; I'm not particularly visual and it takes awhile before the chart really begins making sense to me.

It was definitely worth it though. The texture is very interesting and has a ton of stretch.

This is the knitting I did during our vacation. I like to believe it has good vacation-y energy in it.

Lynn's one of my closest friends and knows more about energy and healing than anyone I know. She's always willing to help me when I need to get rid of some negative energy, and that happens pretty often. May her feet be warm and may she always know how much I appreciate her!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Permanent Impermanence

Let me start by saying that I blame yoga. Yoga, at its best, makes me feel centered. Last night, feeling centered meant that I felt I was ready to wash the things I've brought home from Grandfather's house.

Stupid yoga.

In addition to a few things from Grandfather's house, I had finally brought home the china my mother has given me. It was her pattern, bought every week from the local grocery store when she was first married.

It took me about two hours to handwash everything. Let's stop for a moment and be grateful for dishwashers and the fact that so many things are dishwasher safe.


Washing the china was a weird experience for me. I was aware of the impermanence of life.  Grandma and Grandfather are gone. Dad is gone. Someday Mom will be gone. I will be gone. This china can easily shatter. Suffering comes from wanting to hold on, to keep everything the same.

Recently, I reread something on one of my favorite blogs, Posie Gets Cozy:
"I had a vision about the world when I was there. It came to me one night as if a little door opened and I looked through and eavesdropped on the truth. I saw that the world was constantly falling apart, it was always in a state of little things always falling apart, and then there were these brigades of individual human angels, with kind eyes, apples and stitches, repairing, fixing, mending, patting, bandaging the wounds of the world, and putting it back together, piece by tiny piece." Alicia Paulson
In the midst of thinking about impermanence, I was also thinking about its opposite. This china may still be here even after I'm gone. There's a solidity to it, even in the midst of its fragility. Those little things-- the china, the mug with a cat on it, the die-cast tractor, the tiny Christmas stocking my grandmother knit--they are still here even when the people I love are gone. Somehow, they make me feel like I'm still holding a piece of them, and it makes grief a bit easier.

Life is inherently paradoxical. It's messy and filled with things that don't make sense together but are true anyway. I wish it weren't so, but it is. Life is impermanence, and that's the only permanent thing there is.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Spirals, Spit Splicing, and Success

Once I started knitting Andrew's hat, I had a very hard time stopping.

So, basically, I didn't. 

Brain Wave (mine ravelled here),
knit in Crystal Palace Yarns' Mini Mochi in colorway 103

The combination of knitting with two balls at once and multiple colors in each ball makes this hat look crazy hard. It was not. The ribbing was slow because I don't purl well with my left hand. (I do it combination style, and that means I have to purl through the back loop and blah blah blah.) Once I got to the stockinette part, it became lots faster.

I did cut the yarn and spit splice a couple of times because I didn't like how the colors were progressing on their own. I'm glad I did. There are a couple of places where the colors get a little muddy, but there would have been big swaths of muddiness had I not forced the colors to do what I wanted.

Most importantly, it fits! It covers Andrew's ears and is tight, two things that are Imperative Hat Qualities in Andrew's book.

I meant to do a very lightweight hat. Although I did knit it with lightweight yarn, it is stranded. That means it's two thicknesses of yarn instead of one. He'll definitely get a lot of wear out of it, but it's possible I'll end up knitting another hat someday that's a single thickness of lightweight yarn.

That's okay. I have a lot of knitting years left. It's a relief to still have no problem finding projects to queue.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Technological Innovation Needed

Let's be honest: What we really need is the Internet to be able to see the image in our brains and find us information pertaining to that image.

For example, the Internet needs to take a look at the stained glass lamp that hung beside my Grandfather's chair. All of the grandkids (and probably great-grandkids) learned their colors by sitting on his lap and pointing to the different glass in that lamp. I would like to own a replica, and yet the Internet can't seem to figure out the exact lamp we're looking for.

Stupid Internet.

Also, there's a green--a glorious, grassy green that makes me happy. The Internet needs to look at that green and find me yarn in that color.

It's sort of like this:

(Don't ask. I'm not sure what it is.) But it's not quite that.

And it's sort of like this:

But it's not quite that. When I saw this cardigan, the Burdock cardigan from the book November Knits and also Interweave Knits Winter 2012 edition, I loved it immediately. I then realized that although the pattern is cute, what I really loved was the green.

But it's not quite the right green.

There is a distinct possibility that the green in my head doesn't really exist, that it's just a huge collection of not this and not that.

If anyone knows of a great green that's sort of kelly but not too yellow and not too blue, let me know.

The Internet can't.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Not Quite a Rock Star

Because I am a whore for Blue Moon Fiber Arts, I bought a grab bag of Silkie when Tina offered it. Three skeins came, lovely all, and after binding off on a pair of beautiful but thought-requiring socks that I'll show you after I give them to their intended (hi, Lynn!), I wanted to do another pair of mindless socks.

Who loves mindless socks? Andrew, because he loves highly variegated colorways.

[The later pictures show the real color better.]

Let's start this story by saying that I usually knit socks with 400+ yard skeins. This skein had 360. We all know where this is headed, right?


I ran out of yarn at the toe of the second sock. 

Here's a tidbit to file in your brain under Useful Knitting Facts if it's not already there: You can't unravel ribbed knitting from the top (from the cast-on edge). Well, to be completely honest, you can, but it has to be done one tiny half-stitch at a time. You will hate yourself, knitting, sheep, silkworms, the person who is to receive this knit, and his entire family if you try this.

I had read this tidbit on the Yarn Harlot's blog a long time ago, and I had committed it to memory because I could tell it was Important. Then I ignored it and tried it anyway.

I began painstakingly ripping out the cuff's cast on. When I could not bear to do this anymore, I prayed I'd liberated enough yarn (even though I knew there was NO CHANCE I had), and began knitting the toe.

Plain Ribbed Socks (mine ravelled here),
knit in Blue Moon Fiber Arts Silkie Socks that Rock,
Debra Anna colorway

That didn't work. No one is surprised.

I did what I should have done in the first place, which is take a break and eat some ice cream.

Thus fortified, I picked a stitch a couple rounds into the leg, SNIPPED, and unraveled it. When I was finished, I had the cuff plus two rounds or knitting that I unwound, and I finished knitting the toe.

Then I picked up all the loops on the leg that had been liberated and started knitting the ribbing again. I bound off using Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy bind-off.

Two cuffs:

Two toes:

I had less than 9" inches of yarn left.

At this point, Rihanna's "Rock Star" is playing in a loop in my head.

Andrew tried on the socks yesterday evening. One sock is too small for his foot (the sock I ran out of yarn in, naturally--I probably started the toe too soon in hopes of having enough yarn.)

They're in time out.

I've started a hat.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Clifty Falls State Park

Indiana's State Park Inns have discounted rates Sunday through Thursday in the winter. This works out great for us since we don't have kids with school schedules that keep us from taking some time off in February.

We like staying in the inns, but there must be a town close by. There also has to be a fridge in the room. The reason for this is that we are not home cooking, meat and potatoes people. Even before I became a vegetarian, I wanted no part of fried chicken, meatloaf, or green beans with bacon. Since this is precisely the sort of food our state park inns think we want to eat, we do not want eat in the inn very often at all. This time, we had breakfast there once. (Pancake edges should not be crunchy. That's all I'm saying.) The rest of the time, we either ate out in a nearby town or ate food from a Trader Joe's spree I did before we left.*

We went to Clifty Falls State Park.

Our first full day, the weather was beautiful. We took a long hike.

The sky looked like this:

There were signs that Spring is coming:

We did parts of several trails that day. One of them took us across the creek. Neither of us fell in. I deem that a success.

There are four named waterfalls in the park: Big Clifty, Little Clifty (startlingly creative, I know), Tunnel, and Hoffman. We visited all four. I have no idea which one this is, but here's one of them:

The next day was cold and rainy, so we walked around historic Madison, a nearby town. My friend Holly had talked about a couple of shops when she visited recently (here), and we made sure to hit those places as well as whatever else attracted our interest.

The next day was cold, but it was so cold that what precipitation there was was primarily frozen. We decided it was fine to walk in. The trails were going to be very muddy after the rain the day before, so we walked as much as we could on the roads and went off on the trails at strategic points to see what we wanted to see.

It was also the day we found this:

There are over 150 steps there. I come from a part of the state that has been squished flat by glaciers; I am not used to this many steps. I felt really out of shape when I finally made it to the top.

We had recovered from the steps enough that we decided to visit the observation tower that looks out over the Ohio River when we came upon it.

It gave us a view like this:

When we weren't walking or eating, we played a computer game together and I knit. We have developed a comfortable routine of playing adventure games together. Andrew operates the laptop, and I knit. He is much more persistent than I am, so he often wants to spend more time figuring out puzzles than I do. (I have no problem cheating by looking up the answer online. This is a game. It's supposed to be fun. When it stops being fun, I stop caring about it.) I have found that if I'm knitting, I don't care if he's spending fifteen minutes trying to figure out how to unlock a secret door in the castle.

It was a short, quiet vacation and really, really lovely. I was reminded how lucky I am to have this life with Andrew. He is my favorite person, and I can't imagine what sort of karma allowed us to find one another. I bow to the ground in gratitude.

*By the way, Trader Joe's doughnut holes are delicious, and I don't usually enjoy doughnut holes. You should try them.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Harriette's Knit Knook Visit

Andrew and I were on vacation last week. We stayed at a state park Sunday through Thursday and then spent the long weekend at home. We did some great hiking, and I'll have a few pictures later this week. But first, yarn!

I distinctly remember reading that there was a fad of people posting youtube videos of things they bought. I didn't understand it at all. Who cares what other people buy at the mall? What sort of drivel is that?

Then I realized that I absolutely am interested in the yarn that is purchased by bloggers I follow. Huh. I would like to believe this is completely different than those youtube videos, but I'm not sure I have a strong case.

Anyhoo, I bought yarn. We went to a little shop called Harriette's Knit Knook in Madison, Indiana (on the Ohio River). The owner was very kind, and we had a nice visit. I bought some new-to-me yarn: Araucania Itata Solid. It's a fingering-weight yarn made of 70% wool, 15% bamboo and 15% silk. In a great show of restraint, I purchased two solid colors. I know that I often want very highly-patterned socks, and I need solid colors so the pattern doesn't get lost amidst the color. It's just hard to choose solid colors when I'm in a store surrounded by pretty variegated yarn.

Andrew picked out two balls of Mini Moochi. I haven't used this yarn before, but it looks similar to Chroma in that it has long repeats and is basically a single. I'm thinking this should become a hat rather than socks. I think the yarn will wear better as a hat, and Andrew has been wearing a STOREBOUGHT hat when he needs something lightweight. Clearly, this is a problem that needs solving, and I am the girl to solve it.