Monday, March 28, 2016

Paper Moon, Blue Moon Completed

I usually knit top-down socks, so I'm not very adept at knowing where to start the gusset when doing toe-up to ensure the foot will be the right length.

So, I followed the pattern blindly.

We all know how this is going to work out.

I tried the first sock on before starting the leg pattern. The foot is too long. There was no way around that fact, although I did spend a few moments trying to convince myself otherwise. Then I contemplated whether I wanted to rip all the way back to eight rows before starting the gusset and withered a little inside.

(That's a pretty gusset though.)

New plan: My mom will love these socks for her birthday.

Paper Moon (mine ravelled here),
knit in Pagewood Farm Aleyska Hand Dyed Sock Yarn in the Vineyard Blues colorway 

 Problem solved.

Monday, March 21, 2016


In preparation for vacation, I decided to buy myself a pattern that had been on my wishlist for a long time: Hilary Smith Callis' Sidere. I felt justified since a laceweight project takes a long time to knit, and the yarn takes up very little luggage space... and I really wanted it. 

We drove to New Orleans, which is about 12 hours. On the way home, I decided to start the Sidere shawl. A lot of knitting can be done on a long car ride.





The yarn is two hanks of bamboo that I bought at a craft fair. It was an impulse buy, so I was thrilled to find a good use for it.

I had 600 yards of yarn, which I knew meant I might not be able to do as many repeats on the bottom border as the pattern called for. Devastatingly, I ran out of yarn before finishing the picot bind off.* That was late on Saturday night, so, in a startling lucid moment, I put it aside.

Sunday morning I carefully ripped out the intricate bind off  and two rows of around 400 stitches each. Then I started the long slog of the bind off again. When I finally finished, I weighed my remaining yarn.

Don't blink.

I gave it a bath and then started running blocking wires through the picot edge, but there wasn't a great spot to do so. Instead, I ran the wires through the top edge and then pinned every single picot. After as many hours as I'd spent on this shawl, I was in it to win it.

The pattern has lots of short rows, so it's asymmetrical. It makes it more interesting to knit, and the eyelet rows move in unexpected ways to add visual interest, too.

I love to see shawls unfurled in all their glory,

but I typically wear them wrapped around my neck like this:

Despite my problem of running out of yarn, I really am thrilled with the way this turned out.

Sidere (mine ravelled here),
knit in two skeins of Robin J. Edmundson's Fine Bamboo

*The picot bindoff is a meditative exercise. Cast on two. Breathe. Bind off four. Breathe. Think not of the end. The end will never come. The destination is the journey.

Knitsonik: Color Contrast

Well, huh. I thought I published this, but apparently I didn't. If anyone is still interested in my Knitsonik process, here's the bit about contrast!

There was still a bit of daylight when I got home from work yesterday, so I took advantage of it to get a couple photos of the yarn.

When I look at it as a black and white image, I was really surprised. That third column looks really, really similar. I wouldn't have thought that three such different colors (thicket, grass, and fuchsia) would have the same contrast.

My swatch is actually going to be a pair of mittens. (I'm not enough of a process knitter to do a 4' swatch. Know thyself.) I resized the motifs to go over 32 stitches, put them in an order I liked, and marked the decreases and where the afterthought thumb will go. I think I'm going to do the palm in knit 1 stitch main color, knit 1 stitch contrasting color, repeat. I'm as excited to see how that will look as I am to see how the motifs look.

I tried to avoid putting colors that look like the same gray together.

I didn't use the Safflower (yellow) color. I couldn't find a place to use it that felt natural. I was worried it was going to stand out too much. I'm toying with the idea of doing a cowl (like this one but a little shorter) after the mittens using this same palette, and if I do I'll use it in the cowl. The mittens are small enough that I feel I'd have too much going on if I added the yellow. There was also a motif that I loved that I wasn't able to fit in; I'll put it in the cowl, too.

It took me quite awhile to make the plan for the colors. In the end, I had to accept that I have no idea how this is going to turn out. I've reached the point where it's time to just start knitting and see what happens!

Friday, March 18, 2016

2 x 2, 2.0

Much thought was put into the knitting projects I'd take on vacation, even though I knew, I knew, that I knit much less on vacation than at home. At home, there's a television, and knitting while watching TV is the best way to watch. On vacation, I read. I mean, I do lots of things, but I never watch TV and I read a lot.

This trip had a lot of time in the car though, and so I knit.*

Andrew's original ribbed hat is pretty pilly. I shouldn't have been surprised; Knitpick's Chroma yarn is like that. This is the lightest-weight hat I've made Andrew, and he wears it a ton. I decided that I wanted to make him another one, and then I could absolve myself from feeling guilty about my beloved wearing a pilly hat. If he chooses to wear the purple one, that's fine. I know I've made him a second hat out of really nice yarn, and he can choose whichever one he wants.**

The hat spent some time with a mango daiquiri on a cruise ship. The hat approved.

knit in Miss Babs Tarte in the Biker Chick colorway

This pattern has a really great patterned decrease on it. I apologize for the fuzzy photo, but them's the breaks. (Actually, go look at these pictures from the actual pattern page if you want to see the decreases, which you do.)

Knitting a ribbed hat out of fingering weight yarn is a labor of love. A boring, somewhat tedious, hand cramping labor of love. If there's anybody in the world worthy of such projects, it's Andrew. I mean, really, look at him. Adorable.

*And read old Choose Your Own Adventure books out loud. This is an excellent way to kill time in the car. "Will you go to the dock or flee the city in the stranger's jet?"

**I recognize how crazy that is. Sometimes it's easier to give in to the crazy and move on than denying it.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Devil as a Dance Partner

A month or two ago, I started carrying a small notebook in my purse. When I found a quote I felt was important, I wrote it down. My hope is twofold: By writing them, I hope to internalize them more than I would by just reading them; and when I need to be reminded of the Truth, I can read some of the things I've written down. If it's in the notebook, it is true.

Many of the quotes are Buddhist.
We are what our thoughts have made us, so take care what you think. Words are secondary. Thoughts live; they travel far. -Swami Vivekananda
Do what is good and ask not what follows. -Kenko
All paths are paths to God, because, ultimately, there is no other place for the soul to go. Everything has come out of God and must go back to God. -Paramahansa Yogananda
But not all of them.
I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be. -Douglas Adams
All things are difficult before they are easy. -Italian proverb
and my latest addition:
I know the devil fancy me. Don't mean the motherfucker get to dance with me. -Macklemore and Ryan Lewis in the song "St. Ides"
At the moment, I'm struggling with my weight.* It is hard for me to keep a positive attitude and harder still to believe that I am not screwing everything up when really I just need to be a little more careful about what I eat and how I exercise to get back on track.

The devil is me, the part of me that says I'm never doing enough, never going to escape the patterns of disease that led to my father having bypass surgery at 43 and killed him at 57.

I acknowledge that devil, and I tell her to fuck off. She cannot dance with me regardless of how much she wants to.

I've got my own dancing to do.

*I know it's a very first world problem to have. Still, it's a problem for me.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Color Me Orchid at the IMA

Sunday was the last day of the orchid exhibit at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and I didn't want to miss it.

It did not disappoint.

The only orchids I've ever had are the most common, easiest to grow ones, phalaenopsis orchids*. I currently have three, two large and one mini, and I have yet to successfully rebloom one. Hope springs eternal.

The orchid exhibit was held in the greenhouse with a pop-up shop in the museum proper. It was a good way to get traffic to the greenhouse, which is sorely needed since the change in IMA policies that made the grounds more difficult to visit.**

They had many, many orchid varieties I've never seen,

in all colors and patterns,

including some that look vaguely alien.

It was a lovely way to spend a rainy afternoon.

*If you want to learn more about them, click here.
**Yes, I get why they did it. No, I don't like it.