Wednesday, May 28, 2014

FO: Hanami.

Started: April 5, 2014

Finished: May 23, 2014

Yarn/yardage used: Skaska Designs 50/50 Merino & Silk, about 600 yards (I still have over half a skein left).

Beads: 24 size 8/0 ice-blue silver-lined beads left over from the Nouveau Beaded Capelet.

Beaded cast-on: Surprisingly fiddly. I couldn't manage to get the beads consistently showing on the right side.

This project was difficult for me. I'm not sure why. It's a lace pattern, which I love, using yarn that I love, on sharp slick lace needles that I love. Maybe it was the unmemorizable pattern. Maybe it was the fact that it was rectangular. Maybe it was the time limit, or that I had sset myself a strict goal of sixteen rows every day.

I finished knitting a full week behind schedule, though still well before it was actually needed. It sat for a few days before I bought another set of blocking boards and borrowed blocking wires from Amy.

On the day I finished, which was also Bandit's and my third anniversary, I gave myself permission to buy more yarn and start new projects, as a reward. Given that just a few weeks ago I was saying I needed to cut down on the number of WIPs in order to feel better... that may have been slightly counterproductive.

I do feel a lot better now that this is off the needles. I might even grow to like it now that I'm not responsible for knitting it anymore.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Liebster Award

Britney of Bapsicrafts nominated me for a Liebster Award! Thank you so much!


  1. Post 11 random facts about myself
  2. Answer 11 questions the awarding blogger has asked
  3. Nominate 11 blogs with less than 200 followers, add their links to this post, and let them know that they have been nominated
  4. Create 11 questions the nominated blogs have to answer

Unfortunately I'm going to have to break the rules somewhat - I'm going to be nominating fewer than 11 blogs because, well, I don't have a large blogroll and several of the blogs I read are rather too large to qualify. (This proves the point and the need of the award, I think - to get people to branch out and discover new blogs to read!) Participating is totally voluntary.

Eleven Things About Me

  1. I was born in Tianjin, China. My father came to the US on a student visa three months after I was born, and my mother and I followed him when I turned two. We all became naturalized ten years later.
  2. When I was little, every few years either we would go back to China to visit relatives for a few weeks in the summer, or we would get a visa for my grandparents to come visit us for a year. My maternal grandmother taught me how to knit during one of these visits, when I was about eight. She taught me the backwards loop cast-on and the knit stitch, and gave me a few balls of scrap yarn and some bamboo skewers to practice on.
  3. I attended Wellesley College, where I met Shoshana, my old Jedi knitting master. Shoshana introduced me to the yarnover, Ravelry and the LYS, in approximately that order.
  4. Monday was my fourth Ravelversary! On May 19th, 2010, Shoshana finally got me to sign up for Ravelry. It's been a wild and wonderful ride ever since.
  5. Judging from my projects page and my favorites, I've gone through a variety of phases in my knitting: a scarf/cowl phase, a fingerless gloves phase, a sock phase, a shawl phase, and most recently, a cardigan phase. I caught the lace bug really early on, however, and have never quite gotten cured.
  6. Blizzard Entertainment just might own my soul. World of Warcraft has been my electrocrack of choice for nearly nine years now, and Diablo 3 and Hearthstone are scarcely less addictive. I'm a semi-hardcore achievement hunter: 18150 achievement points in WoW and 5360 achievement points in D3.
  7. I met Bandit playing WoW - he was my raid leader! That's where his nickname comes from; almost all of his characters have "bandit" in their names.
  8. Bandit is, in all respects, the best enabler a knitter could wish for. (I do wish he had smaller feet though!)
  9. I'm an enthusiast of LARPing, or live-action roleplay - the theatrical variety, not the boffer swords variety. My most elaborate project, and the one I'm proudest of, was knitted for a LARP costume.
  10. I'm currently in the last semester of a master's program in linguistics, pending only the completion and defense of my thesis.
  11. Finally, today (Friday) is Bandit's and my third anniversary together! We had the most wonderful day, which I won't detail here because it would make everyone insanely jealous.

Britney's Questions

  1. Where has most of your yarn been purchased? I actually don't think I have a "majority" source! My first year of knitting, all of my yarn was purchased from Minds Eye Yarns, my first LYS. After that I bought a little from various LYSes, a little from Etsy sellers, a little from big Internet sellers like KnitPicks and Webs... and of course there was the great Jimmy Beans pilgrimage last year.
  2. Do you have a favorite knitting designer? Who are they? My longstanding love for lace shawls means that I keep a close watch on what Romi Hill and Boo Knits publish. I've also gotten onto a pretty serious Kessa Tay Anlin kick recently.
  3. Where do you like to knit the most? Oddly enough... airplanes. I'm on planes quite often, flying back and forth between my place and Bandit's, and there's something about transit that makes it feel like bonus time, like specially-set-aside knitting time. And there's definitely something about knitting that makes the transit feel productive and relaxing, not nerve-wracking and wasted.
  4. What is your current favorite song? This is tough! I think right now it may be "Will Do" by TV on the Radio. It's a song I was listening to quite a lot when I first started getting to know Bandit.
  5. What was the best adventure you've ever had? Probably the weekend road trip to Reno!
  6. What type of knitting/crochet project have you queued or faved the most on Ravelry? Shawls, definitely! I have 69 patterns for those in my faves, out of 158 patterns total. Fingerless gloves comes in second at 23.
  7. If you could only read one book or book series for the rest of your life, which would you choose? Oh no, this is too horrible to contemplate! Culling my beloved books! I do have lots of experience rereading one book over and over and over, so if the choice were made for me, I would probably be fine with whatever it turned out to be.
  8. What is the strangest place you've crafted? I finished knitting my first sweater at a Brahms choral performance at Carnegie Hall. (We were in a private-ish box high up, so only a few people were there to wonder at me.)
  9. Are you an early-bird or a night-owl? Something in between? Definitely a night owl. I've been trying to do better about bedtimes, but in my natural state I routinely go to bed between 2 and 5 AM.
  10. What is one post on your blog that you think everyone should read? Probably the making of Bandit's socks. It explains a lot.
  11. Recommend your favorite restaurant or cafe in your town! If any of you find yourselves in Boulder, treat yourself to dinner at the Dushanbe Tea House! Definitely my go-to place for special occasions.

My Nominations

My Questions

  1. When did you really start getting hooked on crafting? Was there a particular project or technique that sparked the hunger?
  2. What's the most challenging project you've faced down so far? Did you conquer it or did it vanquish you?
  3. Do you like to have something going on in the background while you craft, or do you need stillness and concentration?
  4. What is(/are) the dream tool(s) you would get if you had the money and opportunity?
  5. What's one skill or hobby you've always wanted to pick up?
  6. What are your favorite colors? Least favorite?
  7. What are your favorite foods?
  8. How has technology impacted your crafting?
  9. Is there anyone for whom you will Never Make Anything Again?
  10. What literary character would you most want to be like?
  11. Finally, do you have any exciting plans for the future of your blog?

Enjoy, and let me know if you decide to participate, so I can read your answers!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Giveaway winner!

The giveaway is now closed! The random number generator has spoken, and these lovelies are about to be sent off to their new home with...

Jennifer of Thistlebear Home! Congratulations! I'll get in touch with you by email soon.

I'll be hosting another giveaway before too long, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Some scattered things.

1) False alarm! My knitting isn't stressing me out. It's just the Hanami that's stressing me out. After meeting my daily quota, I picked up my Celestarium and knit a few rows, and it was pure delight.

I'm not sure why. The two projects would seem to be very similar - both stockinette with the occasional eyelet, both knit in 50/50 merino/silk. Maybe it's the very fact that Hanami is deadline knitting that makes it stressful.

2) I've started dreaming and plotting out future projects again. I blame the RemRants Official Unofficial Lace KAL - it made me start thinking about what lace projects I might enter. Obviously the Hanami and Celestarium qualify, but what beautiful, magnificent thing might I knit before the end of the summer that might take away a prize?

A Sheherazade/Dunyazade, knit in gold lace with ruby beads?

A Fire Dance in flame red with amber pearls?

Perhaps the Girasole I've been vaguely yearning to knit for a year or so?

Or perhaps the Sevillano I started late last summer and then frogged again when I lost my place in the pattern?

Perhaps I could take leave of my senses entirely and tackle one of these beasts!

3) I've finally migrated to Feedly; the built-in Blogger feed was just getting too unreliable. I like the clean interface so far, and the ability to mark what I've already read. We'll see how this goes.

4) My giveaway ends tomorrow! Make sure to get your entry in before then!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Stress knits: None of the knits.

I think my knitting is starting to stress me out.

After casting on all the things in order to deal with stress last week, I'm now left with all those WIPs huddling accusatorily on a corner of the bedspread. (Okay, maybe "corner" is an understatement.) They make me feel guilty and irresponsible. I'm fairly sure I need to finish one or two of them before I can start feeling good about myself again.

I've been working diligently on the Hanami stole first, because it has the nearest and hardest deadline. I found a free printable calendar site, and printed out April and May, working out a schedule and daily quotas to stick to. I am, of course, fairly behind schedule. But at least I'm finally out of the interminable, unmemorizable basketweave section.

While I was knitting the basketweave of the first half, I had been longingly looking forward to the second half: stockinette with occasional eyelets that grew thicker and denser as the stole progressed. Now that I'm working on it, though, I find myself deathly bored. I'm even beginning to develop an aversion to the endless purling, and I've never understood other people's dislike for purling.

I don't think it's the Hanami pattern that's causing this. I think I just want the project to be over so that there's one less thing weighing on me.

I've learned my lesson: five active WIPs is too much. The stress of responsibility for them all turns the pleasure of a hobby into the drudgery of obligation.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Celestarium: or, Life Lessons for Smart Knitters.

Smart knitters DO research handy tips and techniques to help save time and energy. Did you know that when a project calls for knitting with two strands held together, you can wind the two skeins together into a single cake?

Smart knitters DON'T forget to regulate the tension of both strands. Neglecting this important tip can result in one skein being wound much more tightly than the other, leaving dozens if not hundreds of yards left over on the swift after the other is all wound up. Which then has to be wound into its own sad little cake.

Smart knitters DO keep their beads in a handy, secure container. (Indeed, they'll go out of their way to repurpose promising-looking containers.)

Smart knitters DON'T start a project at 2 AM and keep knitting until 6:30 AM... the night before a final exam.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Stress knits: All the knits!

Bandit claims that he can always tell when I'm stressed or sad because I start knitting so much more. Though I've been skeptical of this claim in the past (what are you talking about? I always enjoy knitting a lot!) I'm starting to think he may have a point. This is, if all goes well, my last semester of grad school. Various pressures are mounting: complete this CS class successfully (I have developed an indelible hatred of C++), take care of graduation paperwork, get my thesis in order, start sending out job applications. It might not be such a coincidence that I've been turning to the comforts of wool and silk and alpaca. It's probably not a coincidence that I've cast on so many new projects that I'm running out of project bags. (It's definitely not a coincidence that I've spent hours on Etsy looking at beautiful new project bags.)

To be fair... one of these projects shouldn't count against me, as it's a commission of sorts. I've already chronicled the Vostok shawl that I knitted for a charity auction last year; this year I auctioned my custom shawl-knitting services again, so I've got two more shawls on the horizon. The first is Celestarium, an awe-inspiring pattern that recreates the constellations of the night sky in the Northern Hemisphere. This shawl has been lurking in the want-to-knit-but-would-probably-not-wear list in the back of my mind, and apparently the recipient (also a knitter) has wanted one for quite a while but doesn't want to knit it herself, so it's really the perfect convergence of fortune.

I'll be casting this on relatively soon, maybe even tonight. The yarn that the recipient picked out is laceweight in the Aegean colorway, from Black Sheep Dyeworks.

Also in the category of oh-this-doesn't-count is the Ink cardigan that I've recently pulled out of the WIP pile. I'm not sure why I set it down in the first place - it's a pleasure to knit, the depth and richness of color in the MadTosh Tosh Merino Light never fails to delight, and I'm actually quite looking forward to having a long fall cardigan.

I'm knitting it in stockinette rather than the reversed stockinette that the pattern calls for, and trying to make sure that both the overall body length and sleeve length are long enough on me. I'll probably have to go back and add extra cuffs to the sleeves.

Skirting somewhat closer to the borders of not-counting is the Hanami stole that I'm knitting for Bandit's sister. Her birthday is in a little over a month! Of course I had to cast on right now... with the luscious merino/silk Skaska Lace that we bought at the fiber festival last year... right?

I'm almost through the interminable basketweave section. It looks lovely, I have to admit, but the pattern is so involved and un-memorizable that I'll be rather glad to be done with it.

Finally, falling solidly into I-have-no-excuse territory, are the two Kessa Tay Anlin patterns that I just fell in love with on first sight, Lapis and Yuuret (Roots). Lapis is an elegant sleeveless top, and Yuuret is a cute fall cardigan.

At least I can claim that Yuuret is something of a stashbuster, as I've been looking for something to do with the two skeins of Malabrigo worsted that was a birthday gift two years ago. Let's ignore the part where I'll have to buy two more skeins in order to finish it.

I'm normally a tiny-needles kind of knitter, what with all the lace shawls and the socks failures at socks. I rarely have occasion to bust out any needles larger than a size 5. But I have to admit, working with thick, soft aran-weight yarn on size 8s has its charms. For one thing, the knitting goes so quickly! These two pictures were taken only a few days apart.

Lapis, on the other hand, I have no excuses for. I bought six skeins of Blue Sky Alpaca Silk from a Rav destash specifically for this.

This picture is deceptive in two ways. First, I can't seem to get the color right - it's a deep rich teal tending more towards green than blue. (I've spent some time trying to digitally color correct it, and mostly failed.) Second, it's not actually knit this far. I'm about to rip a good part of it out in order to reknit the back in a larger size, for lo, I have made my offerings to the swatching god and received nothing but lies in return.

So, yeah. As you can see, I'm clearly only culpable for casting on two, maybe three new projects. That isn't unreasonable, right? Totally not a sign of stress? Back me up here.