January 2013

I’m sorry I didn’t write for a whole week. Work just absolutely fried my brain last week. Every time I sat down to write, I just couldn’t get myself to form anything that was coherent or worth reading. Plus, I felt like my knitting updates were really boring. I was just working on the same shawl and the same sock.

Luckily, when my brain is fried, even though I may not be able to write, I can knit!

I finished the Roosimine socks, save weaving in the ends. Even more exciting, I finished all of the knitting on the Frost Flowers stole. All I have to do is graft it together in the middle (and, you know, weave in ends and block). I’m waiting until I have a little more brainpower, because it’s a lot of Kitchener stitch. A lot. I’m still not quite in a place where Kitchenering or weaving in ends feels good, even though this week looks to be a little easier work-wise. You’ll get pictures of those later. Honestly, they don’t look terribly different than all of the other unfinished pictures I showed you before.

Never fear! There is new knitting to write about! With pictures!

Baby Vertebrae Cardigan

Baby Vertebrae Cardigan

I spent Saturday at the NAMM show, and I knew I would need some easy knitting to take with me, so Friday night I cast on the Vertebrae Cardigan in Classic Elite Liberty Wool in the Majestic Mountains Colorway. I’m done with the body (I got in a lot of knitting time Saturday in between coveting instruments that are way out of my price range). I’m knitting it for my adorable nephew. I’m a big fan of the way this yarn knits up. I tend to be wary of variegated yarns, because sometimes I just don’t like how the colors go when they’re knit up, but this is turning out well. It really looks to me like an abstract depiction of mountains and the sky, like the way they look in Arizona or New Mexico. It’s really pretty and inspiring.

The NAMM show was crazy. It was really crowded. I got a little camnesia and consequently took no pictures. I hear from a lot of people that the show is kind of terrible. I can see that. There are a lot of people there with big egos, who want to be famous musicians and feel really entitled. If you were working the show and actually had to deal with those people, I can see how you would hate it. Since I was just there to see stuff, I could ignore those people, so I kind of had fun. I got to play a lot of beautiful instruments, including some Gibson guitars that I will never be able to afford in a million years. I also discovered 8-string ukuleles. I really want one. Basically, if you let me walk around and play ukuleles and guitars, hear good musicians, and ignore jerky people, I’ll have a pretty good time.

Celestarium Shawl

A tiny section of the Celestarium Shawl

Since I was tired from the NAMM show (we did a lot of walking), I decided that I would do nothing on Sunday, except laundry and a few chores. So after a nice breakfast at one of our favorite restaurants and a quick trip to the farmers market, I cuddled up in my jammies, watched a bunch of episodes of Supernatural, and just knit. I started working on my Celestarium again. I’m about a third of the way through the second to last section of charting. It’s a pi shawl though, so each round is 288 stitches right now, but in the last section, each round will be 576 stitches, so I’m not really even close to done. I’m loving working with this yarn though, I’m loving the beading, and I’m totally geeking out over knitting a star chart, so I don’t mind having more to knit on.

What are you working on? What’s inspiring you?


Saturday was a busy day for me. I went to my guild meeting in the morning, and then some of the women from my Wednesday night knitting group and I went to lunch at Versailles, which has excellent Cuban food. Then, since we were in the area, we made a quick trip over to Twist: Yarns of Intrigue.

Twist is probably my favorite yarn store, but it’s a bit far to be my local yarn store. Cathy, the owner, is really sweet and personable. She has a great selection of yarns that I love, including lots of lace and fingering weights, which are my favorite kinds of yarn to work with. (I prefer finer gauge projects). She also dyes her own yarns, which are just beautiful.

But I am in stash down mode as of the beginning of the year, so I contented myself with walking around, fondling the yarn, inhaling the yarn fumes, and flipping through some very tempting books. I was strong, I was stalwart, and I actually managed to leave the shop without purchasing anything.

I called Ron after I left to let him know that I was on my way home and also to tell him how virtuous I was for not buying anything from my favorite shop. I was especially proud because I had fallen in love with one yarn in particular. It was one of Cathy’s hand-dyed yarns–an alpaca/merino laceweight blend with a tiny bit of stellina, which gave it a little bit of sparkle. It was in a lovely purple.

As I was waxing poetic about this yarn, which was really starting to feel like perfect yarn, Ron started asking me stuff like, “So you really love this yarn?” He started telling me that it was admirable that I wanted to knit down my stash, but he still wanted me to have the things I love. I shouldn’t deny myself something that I really, really love. I said that if I was still thinking about the yarn after a few days, I would maybe go back and get it.

He was quiet for a minute. “But this yarn store is kind of far away.”

“Well, yeah, but…”

“So when would you have time? What if it’s gone by the time you get back?”

“Are you telling me to go back and get this yarn?”

“Kind of.”

I laughed and told him that he was a worse enabler than anyone in my knitting group. But I did turn around and get the yarn. 1000 yards of subtle purple sparkly alpaca/merino laceweight yarn. It’s so beautiful, I took it out of the bag and petted it on the way home.

Twist Frost Yarn

This is the perfect yarn

I feel very lucky. A lot of people who don’t knit don’t understand a knitter’s love of yarn. They don’t understand how sometimes a yarn just leaps out at you and makes your heart sing because it’s the perfect color and it feels so perfect and it’s just the perfect yarn. A lot of the knitters I know have partners or spouses who roll their eyes when they talk about yarn and treat their yarn love like it’s a little silly. It’s not that their partners are jerks, they just aren’t knitters.

Ron isn’t a knitter, but he understands and respects my yarn love. He doesn’t think it’s silly for me to go on and on about pretty yarn and he can tell in my voice if I’m talking about a yarn that falls in the category of perfect, as opposed to a yarn I just like.

I knew there was a reason I loved that man.

It’s a good day today. After weeks of it being just really, really cold (for here), we’re having a really mild day. In fact, it’s warm enough that our rosebush is being tricked into blooming.

A pretty flower to distract you from the fact that I’m still just working on the same two projects.

I don’t have tons of updates to give. It’s the same bunch of projects. I’m working on the Frost Flowers Stole, which is moving along nicely. I’m working on the third and final repeat of the chart that makes up the bulk of the stole. Then all I will have left is the last chart and a million stitches to graft and it will be done.

And check it out, it actually looks like a rectangle!

I’m also working on (the beginning of) the foot of the second Roosimine sock. It’s going along nicely.

This sock is not really that pink. Seriously.

Other than that, I’m not working on anything new. I have a lot of projects on the needles to work on (my Celestarium Shawl, my Echeveria socks) but I really want to finish the Roosimine and the Frost Flowers first. I just want them DONE so I can have them. I have lots of projects I want to start, but I don’t really have that “I must start it now!” Start-itis feeling. I guess I have Finish-itis.

My Finish-itis also led me to finally pull something out I cast off ages ago and block it.

I swear this is not that obnoxious of a pink. It’s not pink at all. It’s red. Apparently today my camera did not want to take true pictures of reds.

This is a close up of the Margaret Dashwood Shawl from the Summer 2012 issue of Jane Austen Knits. You only get a close up because the whole thing is about 10 feet long and I’m not tall enough to get a picture of it all. I knit it out of Koigu Painter’s Palette Premium Merino in a lovely red (despite what the picture shows, I swear it’s tones of reds and purples) that I had initially bought to make a baby sweater for my nephew. (It was going to become the Garter Stitch Baby Kimono that I ended up knitting out of Knitpicks Stroll Tonal). What I realized is that even though people apparantly machine wash Koigu all the time, it is not actually superwash. I just didn’t want to risk it or give a new mother a handwash only baby item. So the yarn became something for me! Which is fine because Koigu is just gorgeous yarn.

I love this shawl so much I’ve been wearing it unblocked. And I actually like how it looks unblocked, even though I’m usually a stickler for blocking lace. I think the fact that it’s garter stitch and kind of homey-looking makes the unblocked lace not bother me so much. So, I’m not blocking the lace out within an inch of its life like I normally do.

But there is a reason I decided I needed to actually get off my butt and block it. Remember that cool thing I said happened at knitting group last month but I didn’t want to say what it was at the time? Well, Merilyn, the owner of FoxyKnits is in my knitting guild and my Wednesday night knitting group. She sells Koigu. Lots of Koigu. (I actually bought the Koigu for the shawl from her). And she likes my shawl so much that she wants to use it as a sample in her booth at Stitches West!

I’m probably more excited about that than I should be, but it’s really cool to me that someone likes my knitting enough to think that putting a sample of it in their booth will sell yarn. So, if you end up at Stitches West, you can see my shawl in the FoxyKnits booth. Go say hi to it!

It’s been somewhat colder than normal here this winter. I can hear all of the people who live in legitimately cold places laughing at me, but homes and people in Southern California beach cities really are not equipped to deal with weeks worth of nights when the temperature gets down to freezing. I get that it’s really not that cold, but it makes me chilly.

So I decided tonight was a winter comfort food night. I made Beef Stew and simple French Bread, both from Mark Bittman’s book How to Cook Everything. (I link to Amazon because it’s an easy place to link the book, but I encourage you to support your local independent bookstore if you want to buy it.) This is one of my favorite books for simple recipes and techniques for all manner of different kinds of food. This book, and the How to Cook Everything Vegetarian book were especially lifesavers back when I was getting a CSA box. I often got vegetables that were either unfamiliar to me or were in such great quantities that I needed to find creative ways to use them up.

Usually when cooking, I use the recipe as a mere guideline, but it’s been so long since I’ve cooked more than simple sauteed or roasted veggies with pasta or polenta or bulgar wheat or quinoa or some other grain that I don’t feel like my cooking mojo is really working. So I followed the recipe pretty exactly, except I added some rosemary along with the other seasonings and a mix of red wine and beef stock.

The bread was a little more of an experiment. It’s been a long time since I’ve made bread that actually required yeast (as opposed to quick breads like zucchini bread or kumquat bread). It was really slow to rise because the house was so cold. I sped the process along by putting it in the oven set to the lowest temperature possible.

Homemade bread

Clearly I need to work on making the loaf actually be round.

It turned out really well. It was dense and rustic and chewy. It could have risen a tiny bit more (maybe an extra half an hour), but it was really delicious and went really well with the stew.

Beef stew with bread

The best dinner for a winter’s day

My roommates and I all ate well today. Everything was delicious. The recipe said it would make 4-6 servings, but it turned out as more like 10-12, which isn’t a terrible thing. It seems like it will freeze really well for another night’s dinner.

The sweater in action

I thought I loved my Wispy Cardi. And then I got to wear it. It turns out I don’t love it. I really, really, really, really love it. Seriously, I am so happy with it. I think, if I were to knit it again (which is not out of the question because it was a fun knit), I would make the sleeves longer and the back shrug part a little wider, because I think those are the proportions that would work best on my body. I actually knit the sleeves longer than called for in the pattern, and they are still a bit short for my taste. I would also knit the sleeves in the round to eliminate seaming, since we all know how much I love seaming.

But these are minor quibbles, and I still lovelovelove it. It’s soft and drapey and warm. (But it’s really not warm enough for the weather we have right now. It will be a perfect sweater for spring and fall.) I wet blocked it, which made the yarn bloom beautifully, so it’s got a lot of loft.

Some people, both in the comments and in my knitting group, have expressed concern over knitting a sweater in laceweight. As in, “That must have taken forever because laceweight yarn is so very tiny!” But this was knit on size US 7 needles for a gauge of 6 stitches and 8 rows per inch, which isn’t really that small, especially when you consider that this sweater doesn’t need fronts that go all the way across your body (it really is like a shrug with the body added). When you consider that, it’s really not that intimidating and no more knitting than any other standard sweater.

So here are some more shots of the sweater. I awkwardly played model and Ron graciously too pictures of me.

Wispy Cardi

The back of the sweater

Wispy Cardi

I love this gathering detail on the back

Wispy Cardi

The whole sweater. I was making a stupid face, so cropped my head out.

Lastly, in the comments Michelle asked if the arch shaping in the Roosimine sock made a difference in fit. I feel like it does. Here are pictures so you can judge for yourself.

Vanilla Socks with no arch shaping

Here is a plain vanilla sock with no arch shaping. I think my foot looks rather like a sausage.

Roosimine Socks with arch shaping

Here is the Roosimine sock, which has arch shaping. I think my foot looks rather more foot-like.

Maybe the difference is too subtle to show up in the pictures, but I notice a difference when I look at my feet in either sock. And I do notice a difference in how they feel. I think I’ll be adding arch shaping into socks where it won’t disrupt the patterning, because I do like it.

I’m wiped out from work, so you get some pretty knitting pictures and an update on my projects today.

Roosimine Sock

We loves it!

I finished the first Roosimine Sock at knitting group last night (minus some ends that need weaving in). Y’all, I can’t even tell you how much I love these socks. I love the yarn–the color, the stitch definition, the smooshyness. I love the roositude inlay technique and find it super inspiring. I love the striping on the heel and toe. I love the cunning arch shaping that makes it fit like a dream.

Roosimine Sock cuff

Sock number Two

So, of course, I immediately cast on the second sock. No second sock syndrome here. (I actually rarely get second sock syndrome. And with this sock, it helps that the charts for each sock of the pair are mirror images of each other. It’s like a whole different sock!)

Frost Flowers Stole

I swear this will end up a rectangle.

I’ve also been working away on the Frost Flowers Stole. See, it’s bigger than the last time I showed you a picture! I finished a whole chart repeat and am ready to move on to the next one! I really, really, really want to have this finished by Stitches West. I’m pretty sure I’ll make it.

Frost Flowers Stole

Unblocked lace just isn’t that impressive

There just isn’t much else to say about it. It’s lace and lace looks like a mess and a half until it’s blocked. It’s really pretty when I stretch it out though. It’s also really light-weight. When I set it down outside to take a picture, I was afraid it was going to blow away (it’s really, really, really windy (and cold!) here today).

Echevaria sock

This is the exact same picture as last time. Because I haven’t done any more knitting on it.

My poor Echevaria sock is languishing. I’ve literally done no knitting on it. I’m so in love with my Roosimine socks that I’ve been ignoring it terribly. Which is sad because it’s a perfectly lovely pattern and has really nice texturing going on. And there is a really nice colorwork part coming up too (the second clue has been posted and the charts make me really excited).

I promise that tomorrow you will get a post about the Wispy, complete with pictures of it in action. No one was home to take my picture while it was light out today. Summer makes it much easier to get decent blog photos, let me tell you. But tomorrow, I promise you’ll see the whole thing in action.

Blocking Sweater

Sorry this isn’t prettier. The place where I block has crappy light after dark.

I finally cast off my Wispy Cardi last night. I decided at the very beginning of knitting this sweater that I wanted to use the tubular cast on and bind off. Since every cast on/bind off edge has 1×1 ribbing, I figured it would work pretty well. Also, because of the sweater’s construction, one sleeve has a cast on edge and one sleeve has a bind off edge. Since the tubular cast on and the tubular bind off are identical, I thought it would be perfect.

What I didn’t count on was being in Kitchener stitch hell by the time I cast off the body. It took FOREVER. (Caution: The link takes you to a YouTube video that autoplays. But can I just tell you how much I still love The Sandlot?) Especially because I somehow made a mistake and ended up with an uneven number of stitches, so I had to undo about 90 stitches worth of bind off to correct it. I may have done a little swearing.

But it’s done and it’s fabulous and it’s blocking. This is the first sweater that I’ve made for myself that I am happy with. I like how it fits me and I can’t wait to wear it. I mean, looking back, there are things I might have done differently, but I’m still pretty over the moon about it.

Roosimine Sock

Because binding off took so darn long this weekend, I hardly got any work done on my socks or on the two shawls I’ve been working on. But I did finish the heel of the Roosimine sock (which is striped and I love it!) and am working on the gusset decreases/arch shaping. I want to finish at least the cuff of the first Echevaria Sock tonight, because the second clue comes out tomorrow, and I have literally done no knitting on it since I showed it to you last entry. So I probably should get to work, huh?

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