Friday, July 25, 2014

Of catproofing and audiobooks.

It's amazing how many things you have to catproof once you adopt a curious and apparently tireless kitten. Keturah has learned that my laptop is off limits, but she takes great delight in vexing us by drinking from our water cups, playing in the bathroom sink while we brush our teeth, and diving into the jungle of power cords behind the TV. She chews on charge cables, earbuds, and of course, my knitting. We've taken to exiling her from our presence whenever she does something particularly offensive. The problem is, when Bandit is working during the day, the only place I can exile her is the living room where his home office is, and the only place he can exile her is the bedroom where I am! We've concluded that, short of shutting her into the bathroom or laundry room all day, the only solution is to get a bigger apartment.

The problem was somewhat alleviated when Bandit bought me some practical early birthday presents: a Bobble, one of those water bottles with a carbon filter built into the mouthpiece, and a Bluetooth headset.

I love this headset. Its main body sits around one's neck, and the earbud cables are magnetically held in the hollows at its tips when they're not in use. It's extremely lightweight and provides excellent sound quality as well as a pretty reasonable maximum battery life. And I can't get over the fact that I can now roam freely around the house while taking calls or listening to music! It's a welcome reprieve from feeling not just mentally but physically shackled to the computer when I've got a headphone cord keeping me on a tight leash.

Best of all, when I'm trying to relax, I no longer have to guard against feline assaults on my knitting and my audiobook and my drink. Just the knitting. I can defend my knitting perfectly well. Most of the time.

Although this morning I discovered a giant loop of yarn tugged out from what had been a single stitch on my newest project. Not long ago I rummaged through some of my older stash and tried to match up individual skeins to potential patterns. This lovely, light skein of 55% merino/45% baby camel from DyeForYarn...

...seemed perfect for the Whispers top by Veera Välimäki. I'm shortening the bottom ribbing by an inch because I'm cutting it dangerously close on yardage. This skein of yarn has 75 fewer yards than the pattern calls for, and no one seems to have any more of this colorway. But I have faith in the yardage god who loves me.

I'm listening to Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie while I knit this. I know that many of you enjoy listening to audiobooks while you craft, but does anyone else pair specific projects with specific books? I knitted Hanami while listening to the early Sherlock Holmes stories, and a good deal of the Nouveau Beaded Capelet while listening to Jane Eyre. I plan to knit a Y Ddraig shawl while listening to New York: The Novel by Edward Rutherfurd (I love his historical fiction!), and I've been saving a lecture series on Byzantium for my future Sheherazade.

I also finished the second heel on Bandit's socks, and the cuffs are slowly growing now.

The socks don't get an audiobook at all. I work on them almost exclusively on the living room couch in the evenings while watching Bandit play video games, or with a Starcraft stream going in the background. After all, I have to have knitting in my hands at almost every hour, even in dangerous kitten-infested rooms. These sturdy socks are the most likely to withstand an ambush.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Socks Sunday: Honeycomb Socks WIP.

Well, despite the kitten's best efforts, I have managed to get a bit of knitting done over the past two weeks. Yuuret is all done, all blocked, and awaiting only thread and needles that are small enough to fit through the holes on the clasps. I'll have an FO post for it soon.

I've also picked this pair of socks back up. I started them for Bandit last summer and set them aside over the winter. When I first got these skeins of Koigu KPPPM, they reminded us both so strongly of honeybees and honeycomb that I decided to find and incorporate a honeycomb motif into the stitches. This one is taken from Apis Dorsata, a free shawl pattern from Knitty.

The toes and heels are knit from Saucon Sock by Kraemer Yarns - a cotton/acrylic/nylon blend. I wouldn't want to knit a whole sock out of it, but it's been good for contrasting toes, heels and cuffs, especially for skeins that run a little on the less-yardage side.

I decided to try out the Fish Lips Kiss heel. I'd had problems trying to figure out where to start the heel with my last pair of toe-up socks for Bandit, so I was super excited to see that the FLK heel provided an easy way of determining this. I traced Bandit's foot on cardboard, cut out the foot shape, and then used the mathematical formula provided in the pattern to determine where the heel hinge was. (That's the lighter pencil line on the cardboard, about an inch under where the darker one is. I had also tried to do it just by feel, but measured it incorrectly; that's what the darker line is.)

Just for comparison's sake, this is my own cardboard foot tracing next to Bandit's.

I knit the first sock up to the heel hinge line, fitting the sock over the cardboard form every so often to check my progress, and then started the second sock, to make sure that the body of the two would match. Yesterday afternoon I finally got the second sock to the hinge line as well... and then I began the heel. The heel was done by early evening.

The heel is called Fish Lips Kiss, by the way, because when it doesn't have a heel in it, it kind of flattens out and looks a bit like fish lips.

I have to say, this heel has been absolutely lovely to knit. The cardboard foot form, by itself, cut out a lot of the frustration and guesswork of knitting a toe-up sock. But the heel construction is a marvel. It's simple to memorize, involves no counting, and makes for a join that's surprisingly seamless and free of holes. And best of all, the pattern is only $1. A few of the sixteen pages, I feel, could have been left out entirely - they smack a bit of empty promotion and self-congratulation - but once one finds the real meat of the information, it's precious information indeed.

Keturah, by the way, got very curious about my lightbox while I was photographing the sock. I warned her that if she kept exploring around in it, I'd take pictures of her.

She didn't heed my warnings.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


Bandit and I adopted a kitten!

And it turns out that kittens are a handful and a half to deal with. I've gotten little Keturah mostly trained not to walk across the keyboard, and am slowly working on getting her to leave my yarn and project bags alone. Any advice from all you veteran cat-owners on how to make them respect the knitting?

Friday, June 27, 2014

FO: Storm Warning 2 (Nuriel)

Started: June 11, 2014

Finished: June 25, 2014

Yarn/yardage used: Mountain Colors Jeannette (65% cashmere, 35% silk), 158 yards (exactly one skein)

Needles: Size 6 circulars

I don't think I have much to say about this, other than:
1. This pattern isn't so bad when you have a relatively small skein of yarn that won't drag the project out into the dozens of repeats and hundreds of garter stitches.
2. I used up every inch of this yarn.
3. This yarn feels like knitting with a newborn kitten.

(Also, I seem to have misplaced my big box of pins, so the border leaves aren't being blocked as neatly as I'd like.)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Gems and goodies.

Fortunately for my recent fit of esurience*, I've had some beautiful little treats sent my way recently!

The golden yarn is mulberry silk lace in "Gold of the Aztecs" from Povetkina's Dyeworks on Etsy. I can't tell you how thrilled I was when I found yarn in shimmering true gold. I'd resolved to knit Sheherazade in gold with dark ruby beads, but it had to be gold - yellow or orange would have ruined it for me. This yarn is an absolute marvel. It took a little over two weeks to get to me from Russia, but 1) it came all the way from Russia and 2) it's so worth it.

Moving on clockwise... I was lucky enough recently to have won a giveaway hosted by the Dull Roar blog and sponsored by Alicia of Woolen Diversions. Alicia kindly offered me my choice of scents of her Sweet Sheep solid lotion bars - and I have to say, Alicia's done an excellent job with her products. It was well-packaged so that the lotion arrived still solid and intact through temperatures in the low 90s yesterday, but warms and melts quickly in the heat of one's hands. The green tea scent that I chose smells just like a freshly-opened canister of looseleaf tea. It's a very pleasant and mild scent, not at all overpowering, accompanied by the faint warm smell of beeswax. The scent fades within the hour (a huge plus for me; I don't wear perfume and hate having a smell clinging strongly to me all day!) but my hands stay plump and soft for hours and hours, even in the dry climate of Colorado. I'll definitely be using this for a long time to come! You can find Alicia's lotion bars and lip balms in her Etsy store, Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe.

Below that tin are three of the six removable Melody stitch markers that I bought from Twice Sheared Sheep. Yes, in addition to very affordable recycled luxury yarn, Twice Sheared Sheep also sells beautiful stitch markers, row counters, shawl pins and more. I bought this set for myself on Tuesday night, as a little prize for getting all of my thesis postponement paperwork done, and they were in my mailbox on Thursday afternoon! The seller does live only an hour away from me, but still, that's remarkable speed in posting the package. The other three markers are already doing their duty on projects.

Finally, I went down to my LYS today and picked up two tiny crochet hooks and a pair of size 4 Addi Turbo Lace circs in the longest cable size they had, 47 inches. My Celestarium is now in its final set of charts before the lace edging, and nearly 600 stitches around. It was becoming a bit of an ordeal to try to squeeze all of them along a 32-inch cable. So now I have five sets of long size 4 circs (as well as two sets of short circs) of various lengths, and as soon as I shift projects and needles around and cast on the Sheherazade, all five will be in active use. The two tiny crochet hooks are, of course, for beading. My 0.5 mm hook was too small to reliably catch the DK weight yarn for Storm Warning, so I picked up a 0.85 mm and a 1.00 mm hook to see if either will work better.

What knitting treats have you picked up recently?



*esurience (noun) overwhelming desire for more. I like that I can use this word to describe my craving for yarny things without the ugly stain of moral defect that "greed" or "avarice" would leave.