Tuesday, September 29, 2009

School's Back

Yesterday was the first day of fall term, so I am officially back as a full time graduate student. That means that after the first couple of weeks, my crafting time is going to be seriously curtailed. All of my classes are reading and writing intensive, and they take priority.

For today, though, I still have time. It's raining, afternoon knitting is a no-go, so I've got nothing on my plate until my new employee meeting at 6. So I'm going to read, knit, and make some jewelry.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Whale of a Tale

It's been some sort of day, that's for sure. Luckily, it was a good sort of day, which makes me happy. Fall term starts on Monday, so it's nice that my last weekend of freedom had one really really good day.

For starters, I had a banner day at the artisan's market this morning. I sold a red beret-ish style hat that I knit ages ago out of the (then) discontinued Sisik by Dale of Norway (it was replaced by Harlequin, which makes me drool and tremble every time I touch it. In a good way). I did not write down the pattern for that hat, which I always kind of kicked myself for, but now it's gone for good (the person who bought it lives in California). That's ok, though, it really wasn't that hard to figure out.

I also sold a pair of earrings, and got a request to make a bracelet to match. I said fine, I need half the cost up front for custom orders, but she said she'd give it all to me because she lives out of town and is going to have her friend pick it up and mail it to her. I plan on making the bracelet tomorrow (mostly because I'm tired tonight and will probably mess it up if I tried).

Our booth was located this week next to a local photographer. He had several stunning pictures (including non-blurry pics of hummingbirds in flight), but on the display directly facing my chair was a lovely 8x10 picture of a humpback whale lifting it's pectoral flipper out of the water at 90 degrees. It was framed, had real glass, and was all told $40. I was sitting there, with my humpback whale weakness and $40+ cash sitting in my pocket from my banner day and it was calling to me.

My good sense prevailed, and I did not spend $4o on a framed photo of a humpback whale.

I paid $3 for the same picture as a 4x6 printed on a heavy duty mailing card. :-) Which I plan to frame and hang.

I spent my down time at the market reading my new favorite magazine, Psychology Today.

My booth-mate (Bohemian Knitter Chic) commented on my "light" reading. Compared to the books I've been reading to get ahead in the class I start Monday, this is light.

After I got home from the market I hopped on the bus (which was running 20 minutes late) and rode down to the Fall Festival, which is a huge, high brow annual artist market held in Central Park. It's free to the public, and they've got live music going all day and into the night. The third booth I came to was the first one where I started spending some of my banner day money. 3 years ago I went to my first Fall Festival, where I saw the most awesome garden decoration I'd ever seen. I've seen this person's work several times since then, but I haven't had any place to put a garden decoration. Until now.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you:

Whale on a Stick

Right now WoaS is firmly planted in my magazine basket. I'll figure out a more permanent place tomorrow. There may even be a potted plant in my future.

I walked around for a while more (producing prodigious amounts of drool) and came upon a display of hilarious magnets. I called my mom and she had me read them and picked out three (one each for her and her two sisters).

I got two of the top one. If they'd had another I might have gotten it for me (I may go back tomorrow just to see) because that's how I feel ALL THE FREAKING TIME!!!!!!!

There were other cute quotes, like:

"Cat hair is a Condiment"

"I'm not 70, I'm $69.95 plus tax"

"Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone"

"Don't let your mind wander, it's too little to be left alone"

"Life is sexually transmitted"

"I'd cook dinner, but I can't find the can opener"

I pretty much thought they were all hilarious. I'd plaster the front of my fridge if I had money to waste on plastering my fridge with magnets.

I pretty much managed to make it out of the actual Festival without spending more money. However, there were Festival adjacent areas that tripped me up. I spent $4 on a bumper sticker and button duo. The bumper sticker says "Equal Rights Are Not Special Rights" and the button reads "Feminism is the radical notion that women are people."

I was almost to the bus stop when I passed the woman drawing characateurs. I was so close to just passing her by, but then I thought "what the heck, have fun, live a little!!!" I just had her do it in black and white. She asked where I would go if I could go anywhere in the world. I said London. I'd love to go back to London. I'd love to live for a few years in London.

Back on point, I'm pleased with my characateur. I'm planning on framing it and hanging it up.

I finally made it onto the bus (which was running so late it had caught up to itself) and now I'm exhausted. I think I'll have a shower, clean off my bed, put in a movie, and fall asleep while pretending to watch it.

Oh, I have made some progress on the Vintage Pink Cardigan. I've got all 2.5 inches of the ribbing done and about the same amount of stockignette. I have to knit on it in short bursts because knitting on it for too long makes my left hand ache from hodling the small needles.

That's all for now. Tune in next week for the continuing story of:

A Day in the Life!!!

(If you say the last sentence in the same manner of the original Muppet Show "Pigs in Space" you'll have an idea of where my mind is.)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Veni Vidi Knitty

Yesterday afternoon, I snipped off the last little bit of yarn from woven in ends on my braided pullover.

I still need to give it a good final blocking to settle the shoulder seams, but it does fit and it looks nice. Summer is giving a final push right now, though, so it's a little too warm for me to model it for pictures right now.

With this sweater being done, I found myself in need of a new knitting project (the scarf that never ends is in a time out for being never ending). I decided that I should use some of the yarn that I've rescued from Goodwill sweaters. I got out the four balls of yarn that used to be a Charter Club pullover. It was a size XL, so I have plenty of yarn for sweater. The fiber content is 46% wool, 28% rayon, 16% angora rabbit, and 10% cashmere. It's also hot pink :-).

The yarn swatched up perfectly for the Vintage Pink Cardigan from the spring 2005 Interweave Knits.

I had a few reservations about knitting a sweater on size 3 (US) needles. But, life is meant for challenges. Also, unlike the Braided Cable Pullover I don't have to mark down every single row that I work except for the right front piece. Once I get past the 2.5 inches of ribbing at the bottom the bulk of the knitting is miles and miles of stockingnette stitches. Perfect for evening movie knitting after a long day of studying.

So far, I'm still working through the ribbing for the back piece.

The Muppet Movie is coming from Netflix today. A hot pink vintage inspired cardigan seems like excellent muppet knitting.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Octopus' Garden

I love critters. Especially furry ones that meow and let me love on them. Up until a couple of years ago, I had one of these furry critters in my life. But with the onset of graduate school, I decided that it would be a sounder financial decision to put off having another furry critter in my life until providing food and shelter wasn't such a touchy subject (read: post graduation once sound employment has been achieved).

However, what is a sound financial decision is a very poor emotional one. I miss my furry lap warmer (aka Mia) and my morning back massager (aka Patches). Life is just a little bit more empty for me these days.

Then I met Guy.

Guy is not my furry critter. I don't even know his real name, so I call him Guy. I'm pretty sure his permanent home is the next door neighbor, but he has claimed my backyard as his own. He sleeps in the shade and drinks from the pond, and chases off Gray Cat and Tortie Cat. For the first several months I lived here he'd run away at the very sight of me. He still runs from everyone else. Sometimes if I move wrong or if I'm carrying something, he runs from me too.

He's kind of a scaredy-Guy.

But most of the time, he waits for me to come out and love on him. He especially likes to have his head scratched, and will melt into the patio when I do this. If I go back inside before he's done getting attention, he lays on my outdoor mat until I come back out. (If I don't come back out, I won't see him for weeks as he pouts and holds a grudge).

He is my big hunky Guy who helps fill the whole in my life as I muddle my way through grad school.

Of course, there are furry critters that I'm not so fond of. Specifically, raccoons generally give me the wiggins. Except for the other night, when a raccoon meerly caused me about half an hour of curiosity and surprise.

One of the things that sealed my like of this *tiny* apartment was the skylight in the back half (where my bed is). The skylight helps it be lighter in here, even in the gloomy, wet, dreary winters. A few nights ago, as I lay reading in bed, I found out that I'm not the only one who is enamored with my skylight.

That is my skylight, and if you look closely (if you click on the picture it will enlarge, which may help) you can see a big, fat raccoon sitting on my skylight, taking a bath. It stayed there for about half an hour. Bathing. On my skylight. I haven't seen it since then, but every night when I hear something on my roof, I wonder if it's that dang raccoon.

In other news, the sweater is almost finished. That's my big project for today.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Back By Popular Demand

I haven't gotten much done on the knitting front lately. One day I spent a couple hours working on getting my financial aid reinstated. Sunday I stayed mostly inert. Saturday I lost money at the artisan's market.

I did finish the first sleeve for my Braided Pullover on Saturday. Yesterday I started the second sleeve and got about 1/3 of the way done (not counting the sleeve cap).
Knitting the sleeves inside out has been a very good idea. I've got knitting this afternoon, so I'm hopeful of getting another 1/3 of the sleeve done. My goal is to get the sweater finished by the end of this week.

I did get a few new pieces of jewelry made on Monday (I'm pretty sure it was Monday). Football season has started here, so I made 2 bracelets with the university's team colors and football theme charms.

I have higher hopes of next week at the market. There is an afternoon home game, so maybe I can entice some rabid fan to get a team colors bracelet.

Part of my low creative output of the past few days was my distraction by a book. One of my fall classes has a list of 9 books on the required list, so I've been getting them from various libraries. I got one of them from the downtown library and started reading it on the bus ride home and got hooked. The book is She's Not There by Jennifer Finney Boylan. It is about her journey through transgenderism. Her career is as a comic writer, so the book was easy and engaging to read and I finished it 4 days after I got it checked out. Check one book of the list.

I'm very hungry now, so I'm going to sign off and scrounge up some lunch.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Family History

I think my Grandma might have been just a little bit crazy. Not much, but a little.

My evidence?

That's my bed, which is a full size bed, and it is covered with crochet squares that my grandmother made back in the 1950s.

There are 18 of the brown squares (at the bottom on the right).

There are 81 of the white squares. Eighty one.

There's even one that is still attached to the ball of crochet cotton where she just up and quit working on it. The original pattern was for a table cloth.

In the 1950s my Grandma had two young daughters to take care of. I can't figure out where she got the time to do all of this!

And if it's not enough that she crocheted 81 of these things, let me show you the hook she used.

It's a steel crochet hook, made in Japan, size 10. I can barely see it without my glasses on.

And if all that weren't enough, I also found this in the bag.

I love this medallion. I don't know what I'm going to do with it, but I'm keeping this. It's gorgeous. It's a little over 12 inches in diameter, and it was crocheted with the same steel size 10 crochet hook.

I think I'll toddle off to my weekly Wednesday night knitting and feel humbled as I work my sweater sleeve on US 6 needles. Compared to that hook, I'm knitting with old grown tree trunks.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The World Never Stops Turning

Good news on the sweater front. I've finished the body and moved on to the first sleeve.

Don't believe I can knit that fast? Neither did I, but I've got the photographic evidence to prove it.

Here's the body of the sweater, during it's very first blocking. The sleeve holes look a little wonky in this picture, but I fixed that so they are even. It just needed to be tugged on a little.

I decided to block the sweater before I sewed any of the seams (you can see the pins) and before I finished the neck band. The stitches for the braided cable are on a holder (you can barely see it) and these stitches will be put back on the needles and 2x2 ribbing will finish off the back of the neck and down the unfinished front of the sweater.

Very cunning indeed.

I've gotten a little bit further since this picture was taken earlier this morning. I'm actually knitting the sleeves inside out because they are done in reverse stockingnette, but the idea of purling 100+ rows on double pointed needles made eating sand sound like fun times.

I'm debating how long I want these sleeves to be. The original pattern has the sleeves ending at the mid point of the hand (though if the shoulder seams fit the model properly the sleeves would end just below the wrist). I, however, really don't like things ending at my wrists. Right now I'm wearing a long sleeved shirt and I've got the sleeves folded back to bracelet length. I do that will all of my long sleeves, be they shirts or sweaters. My thought is to just knit the sleeves of this sweater to bracelet length and not worry with folding them back. I figured I'd give myself a night to sleep on it, but I'm pretty sure that's what I'm going to do.

In other knitting related news, I've also been working on my Diagonal Shawl, which I've dubbed "the shawl that never ends." I started this project in mid May after I finished my last sweater. I have knit several things since I started this shawl, but it's been dragging on now for longer than I'd like, so I've been working on it more. It's just about 5 feet long now, and I've still got yarn left, so I'll just keep going.

I also fixed my bicycle seat today. A while back I got a new seat because the one that came with the bike was very painful for me to sit on. I mounted the new seat too far back, though, and was forever falling off the front of the seat (or feeling like I was going to) so today I broke out the tools and reseated the seat. I even rode my bike down to afternoon knitting. The weather was perfect for bike riding: low 70s, light breeze, nice and sunny. If the weather is like this tomorrow I may go for another ride.

As for right now, I'm getting tired. And the spaghetti sauce is giving me mild heart burn, so I'm going to sign off and eat some Tums.

Stay tuned for another Day in the Life.

Friday, September 4, 2009

And the Beat Goes On

I've gotten quite a bit done on my Braided Pullover since the last time I posted. I've finished the right front, the left front, and I'm nearly done with the back of the sweater. Just a few more rows and I'll be ready to start the sleeves.

All this and I'm only on my second ball of yarn.

In other news, I walked down to Goodwill on Tuesday and scored big time. Green tags were 50% off, and I found a size large cabled sweater with a fiber content of 70/30 cotton/wool, in an aran weight yarn with 100% non-serged seams, and it had a green tag. I got this phenomenal sweater for a scant $2.50. The color is solid primary red.

I'm going to get a lot of yarn out of this sweater. Now all I have to do is finish taking apart my current recycling project.

Now I'm off for more knitting and some errands.

Stay tuned for more "A Day in the Life."

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Knitting Progress

I need sweaters.

When I moved out of Texas, I had no concept of winter clothing. I had a few long sleeve shirts. They were light weight cotton. Moving north in January with no concept of winter clothes was a learning experience by fire (or trial by ice). I've had more than a few cold winters since and I tried to figure out what was meant by "winter clothes."

As a knitter, I feel that being cold through the winter is a shame, because I can take two sticks and some wool yarn and make warm, cozy things. But alas, as of the end of this past winter I only had two wool (blend) sweaters that I'd gotten at a second hand store and one short sleeve summer sweater that I'd knit.

No longer!! Earlier this year I knit a beautiful sweater from a yarn that a friend gave me and I over dyed with Kool-Aid. It is a lovely, warm wool/mohair/silk blend yarn, it fits like a dream, and feels wonderful next to my skin.

So, the count is now at 3 warm winter sweaters. Last time I checked, though, there are more than three days in a week. I decided I needed more sweaters.

Enter another fortuitous gift of yarn from a dear friend. This one is a lovely wool/soybean blend in a plum-ish color (my friend calls it "raspberry" but I don't like the idea of a color that I'm allergic to :-P). I immediately set out to find a sweater to knit up before fall term starts up.

After much careful consideration, deliberation, and polling of my knitting buddies, the pattern winner was the Braided Pullover from the fall 2008 Interweave Knits magazine.

The talented designer of this pattern is Alina Khasanova. I love the sweater design because it is simple, sophisticated, and unique with the asymmetry of the cable and neck band. It also called for a yarn of similar gauge to what I had been given.

The only issue I had was with the given final length measurement from shoulder to hem. 25.5 inches would provide me with a sweater that ended below my derrier. Not the most flattering length on a petit figure. The cleaverness of the slanting cable meant that I couldn't just whack some length out of the body (my typical MO). After much very hard thinking, I decided to simply eliminate the ribbing at the bottom of the sweater, which shortens it by 4.5 inches. Also, I'm not a fan of ribbing at the bottom of a sweater. I'm curvy, and ribbing just makes things ride up and bunch at my waist.

I started casting on for this sweater on August 19th, but didn't finish casting on until the following evening. As of last night, this is the progress I've made so far.

I've finished the main body, and I'm nearly done with the right front. Knitting sweaters while not also doing course work goes much faster. The last sweater took 8 weeks to finish, and it was knit at a larger gauge (on size 10.5 needles whereas this one is on size 6 needles).

Ok, I'm having some issues with the internet so I'm going to post this before it crashes completely. Stay tuned for the next update of A Day in the Life.