It's been a while, hasn't it? I planned to take a break only until the end of November when my Master's thesis defense was originally scheduled. After two postponements, however, I finally held my defense on December 12th, flying in the day before and flying out again the day after. Then right after that there was a flurry of holiday preparations to make, and then the post-holiday visitors... I've managed to get a surprising amount of knitting done in stolen minutes here and there, and even take picturea, but this is the first time I've made time to sit down and get back in touch with the blogging world. (Expect a ton of comments as I go through the backlog of my blogroll in the next few days!)
I wanted to get at least this one post in before the end of 2014, so that I could get you all up to date on what I've been doing during my hiatus before I dive into New Year's resolutions and the like.
First... I passed my defense! While I was in town for it, I stayed with Shannon and Eli who were the best hosts ever, considering that they were also dealing with hectic end-of-year things. Shannon even let me destress with some of her stash yarn when I asked for some skeins to wind - one project was not sufficient yarny comfort for me, even on a trip of only two days. I really miss the weekly crafternoons that Shannon, Alexis and I used to have; maybe someday we'll all live close enough again to meet in person. Or failing that, maybe the two of them will join me in the knit-blogosphere (get on that, guys!).
Second... I regret to say that none of the WIPs I highlighted in my last post have progressed very far. The Whispers top and Bandit's socks just stopped holding my interest, so they're now languishing in my storage ottoman, which is where my WIPs go to
die hibernate. Dreambird, on the other hand, made it to four whole feathers before I discovered that the Mini Mochi I was using for those beautiful gradient feathers... was full of knots. In fact, both skeins were full of knots. And they weren't just ordinary knots either. They were knots that were tied with no regard for preserving the color repeats. I spent a day undoing all the knots and winding the yarn up into five separate mini-cakes, none of which could be easily joined together in a smooth transition. Maybe at some point in a few weeks or months I'll have come to terms with the task, and start snipping and regrafting the colors, but for now, it's sitting at the bottom of the WIP bin.
I did, however, finish a WIP older than any of these.
In March I started planning for the second Vericon charity auction shawl of the year (Celestarium being the first). The recipient wanted a shawl that would evoke dragons, and that would fade gradually from brown at the neck to green at the edges. After a bit of back and forth, we decided on the Y Ddraig pattern and the Elphaba colorway from Twisted Fiber Art, an indie dyeing company that specializes in gradients. When Elphaba finally rotated into TFA's active colorways in June, I happily snapped up a triple evolution in the imminently-discontinued Duchess base, a lovely merino DK weight. I cast on and... the dark dye immediately started coming off all over my hands and needles.
No one else in the TFA forums seemed to be having any trouble at all, and the color wasn't actually fading from the yarn itself, so I figured that it was just a bit of excess dye crocking off of oversaturated yarn. I gritted my teeth and knitted, and knitted, and then I got too fed up of having to scrub at my hands after every knitting session and put the project into the Storage Ottoman of Hibernation.
In the midst of thesis-related stress, I decided to pick the shawl back up again. As it turned out, it was perfect for stress knitting. The pattern was soothing - simple and repetitive enough to memorize, but engaging enough to keep me mindful of my stitches and not allow my mind to wander off. And the dye issue kept my knitting sessions short; as soon as the dye built up on my hands I knew it was time to set the knitting down and start working again. I had just finished the brown section when I held my defense.
Free of the thesis-related stress, I found the rest of the shawl went surprisingly quickly - except placing beads, which the original pattern didn't call for but which my recipient wanted. My tiny beading hooks, bought for beading on lace or, at the very most, light fingering, tended to just split the DK yarn rather than bead smoothly. I finished knitting on December 21st, and blocked it on December 22nd.
The same day I cast on a pair of my self-designed dragonscale gauntlets, also a charity auction commission item. These took just a week to finish, even with something of a false start on the first gauntlet as I tried to recreate my pattern. I've made some tweaks to the design since I first posted about them in April, and I think they look much sleeker and nicer now.
One of my New Year's resolutions will be to finally get the pattern written up and made available as a PDF. I might as well get all my notes in one place, because I have two more pairs of these to knit in the next few weeks!