Saturday, December 30, 2006

"um, what's a cowl?"

that's the reaction i seem to be getting from most people when i mention that i'm making a cowl. all the same, i am loving this project, even if no one knows what it is i'm making! this is mindless k1p1 knitting, which is just what i need at the moment. still, it's not going that fast. i'm about five inches into it, with about eight inches left to go. this is cashmere, and i'm knitting it up on my denise needles, so the cashmere mixed with the plastic makes for very slippery knitting, which has slowed me down somewhat. the fabric that is created is really stretchy and slinky. i know i'm am going to looooove wearing this when it's done! even if i didn't know how to make one of these, it's exactly the kind of thing i would choose to wear or buy. and it will be my first finished object of 2007!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

scarf swap success

a month or so ago, kristie of brown pants and i decided to do a scarf swap. this was to be my first blog swap, so i was kind of nervous: would she like what i made her? would i like what she made me? i had a few moments of panic, then dug right in and chose yarn and pattern for kristie's scarf. unfortunately, i am a big slow poke, and december got in the way, so i got a little behind schedule on mine. kristie, however, was right on time, and i received her package of goodies last thursday. she so outdid herself! i am so lucky! she sent me the scarf of course, and lots of extra little goodies as well. this was such a nice thing to come home to after a long rainy day. and what's more, i feel like my first swap experience was such a positive one that i can't wait to do another!

(it's pouring rain today, which is why my shirt is all wet in the picture.)

the scarf is a noro mistake rib, and it's gorgeous. i have been wearing it non-stop since i received it, and it's the perfect length for me to wear indoors as well as out, which is something i love in a scarf. i've already received compliments on it too, another thing i love! what's funny is that i almost made her a scarf very similar to this - a simple noro stripe scarf in k1p1 rib. in the end i opted for something else instead, but apparently, great minds really do think alike.

in addition to the lovely scarf, kristie sent me a cute little handmade card, a little pouch that she made herself (and which i'm already using to tote a small knitting project around in my purse), pretty stitch markers, a handmade flower brooch (i didn't even tell her that i have a total brooch obsession and wear one nearly every day!), and even some cool australian yarn. score! thank you so much kristie!

i can say with much relief that her own scarf and other treats are making their way across the ocean as we speak, and should get to her this week. i will reveal the scarf i made at that time! however, i am an idiot, and i forgot to take a picture of it before i packed it up, so i will either have to just post a picture of the little swatch i made, or maybe kristie will post a picture on her own blog. was very good. we spent the day at my mom's, received way too many gifts, and she sent me home with all of the leftover mashed potatoes and a homemade pumpkin pie. my knitting library was greatly enhanced:

and i also finally am the proud owner of one of these:

hope everyone had a happy and safe christmas!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

a knitter's yearbook

it's that time of year where a girl gets reflective about the months past, and since this is a knitting blog, and since i knit, i've been thinking of my year in knitting. so i thought i'd come up with a little snapshot of sorts of 2006, and maybe start to look to the year ahead. i'm already excited for all of the plans i have for 2007!

new skills?
many! the biggies though were sock knitting and fair isle. who knew that turning a heel wasn't so hard afterall?

improved skills?
i've gotten much better at being able to fix my mistakes, and more of a willingness to actually go back and fix them, even if it means ripping back all my hard work. i've also learned a new way to cast on (i only knew the knitted cast on i can do the long tail cast on too! i would like to learn even more ways though), and i think i'm finally not knitting as tight as i used to. go me!

areas of self-discovery?
i think this year i finally admitted to myself that i don't really like cables. well, i like how they look, i just don't like making them. there, i said it!

biggest success?
i was absolutely thrilled with my squirrel and oak mittens, as well as my clapotis, which i made pre-blog.

biggest failure?
hmm...i made one of a pair of maryjane slippers earlier this year. it ended up GIGANTIC, so i thought maybe i'd try to felt it, and now it's too small. i've yet to make the second slipper - who knows if i ever will!?

favorite yarns i tried:
definitely the whole world of sock yarn. i went a little crazy here in the latter part of 2006 buying sock yarn. i think i like buying the yarn more than actually knitting the socks! that's not really true, but something about how fine the yarn is, and how much more colorful sock yarn can be than yarn you would use for bigger projects, appeals to me. i've especially loved collecting yarn pirate's beautiful yarn, and trying out yarntini as well.

and looking forward...

yarns i would like to try in 2007:
i have my eye on some vesper yarn (but i can never find any!) and i've still yet to try any koigu, but that should be remedied pretty soon. i would also like to try more of the many small yarn-dying outfits that are out there...etsy is full of them, and i hear about others everyday. some of them are doing such beautiful work, and i would like to support them.

projects for 2007:
more socks! i'm dying to work my way through many of the patterns in nancy bush's knitting vintage socks and knitting on the road (i also happen to know that i'm getting her folk socks book for christmas so i'm sure i'll have more to add to the long list). i would also like to finish the half-finished orangina that is languishing in my knitting bag, make my cashmere cowl and do some more color work, probably in the form of mittens once again.

goals for 2007:
i really, really think it's time i finished a garment of some kind, ideally a cute sweater or cardigan. i know i have the skills, i just don't ever seem to have the patience! i have a few uncompleted sweaters lying around. i think it's time to start fresh (except, of course, with orangina. that i'll finish!). any ideas for a good, fairly quick sweater that i won't get tired of knitting after a week?

i would also like to expand my lace skills, so i have a goal of completing a shawl of some kind. i don't have a pattern in mind yet but i think i will enjoy getting into a good lace project!

two other goals: try my hand at designing something (probably something very simple) and also to knit more for other people - i tend to get caught up in things i want to make for myself, and never manage to find time to knit for my friends and family, or do any charity knitting, which i would like to do. my poor husband has never received anything hand knit by me!

and not quite knitting related, but i also want to pretty up my blog a little and give it two side columns instead of one. this might be the most challenging goal of all for me!

this is probably my last post before christmas, so i'll see you all post-holidays!

Monday, December 18, 2006

cookies make everything better

first off, i think my husband was a little sad that i didn't post a picture of his cd cover as well, so here's a picture of his, and the second one i did, in felt. they were a hit with our friends (at least i think they were!) and they gave us some great mixes too.

it's finally starting to feel like christmas around here. i need to buy one more present but otherwise i'm all done, and i've done gift exchanges with a few of my friends already. last night we had a couple of people over, made some homemade pizzas, and baked and decorated sugar cookies. they're not the most artfully decorated, but they taste good!

and i've also taken the opportunity to spend a little christmas money from my dad on some wonderful, beautiful, gorgeous yarn, which has arrived today and saturday (i also got an ice cream maker, but that's a little off topic). first off, some malabrigo from pure knits in red mahogany. i was planning to make the beret from the winter interweave knits with this, but it turned out to be a little more variegated than i expected, so i might do something different - possibly some ribbed fingerless gloves. still, gorgeous!

i also got...drumroll...some PURE cashmere from purl soho, in tourmaline. i was afraid this would be a little too bright blue for my tastes (it's so hard to tell on a computer screen) but it ended up being the most perfect seafoam green. it's heartbreakingly soft and lovely - definitely the most beautiful thing in my yarn collection to date. i am going to make the cashmere cowl that they have up over on the purl soho website. this is such a treat! it was expensive, and i'd probably never buy it with my own money (at least not before...i see myself being tempted by this yarn again in the future), but i'm so excited to use it.

speaking of purl soho, can i just say how obsessed i am with all of the patterns they keep posting? since i'm re-thinking the malabrigo beret, i'm now thinking of doing the koigu beret they posted the other day. sounds like the perfect excuse to buy a single skein of koigu, no?

Friday, December 15, 2006

oh windy!

last night, seattle had some serious weather. we went to bed around midnight and the wind was shaking our windows so violently that i said i hoped it didn't rattle them hard enough that they broke. did. an hour later we woke up to the sound of breaking glass in our living room. a branch of a pine tree had broken off in the storm and hit our window. glass was EVERYWHERE. we had to put my spooked cat into our bedroom and clean up the glass as best we could, with the wind and rain still blowing in. we finally got the window taped and carboarded up so that at least the wind was temporarily kept out.

work was cancelled for me today because power was out completely in the area where i work. i went for a little walk around my neighborhood this morning to survey the damage and was shocked when i saw this scene:

that big tree crushed five or six of the surrounding cars. lucky for me, mine wasn't one of them.

i came home and talked to the apartment manager and they said they won't be able to replace the window until monday. so although we are very lucky that no one was hurt, we have a drafty hole in our house for the weekend. all of my family and the friends i've gotten in touch with so far are okay - if you live in the area, i hope the same is true for you.

the bright side of this whole mess is that, as i mentioned, i got the day off! i grew up in phoenix - we never got days off work or school for bad weather! so i spent the day taking a nap and watching dvds (fargo and american graffiti) and finishing my cd cover that i mentioned last time. a little explanation on that: my hubby and i, along with three other couples, have a "dinner club." we meet once a month and try a restaurant of one of the couple's choosing. tomorrow night we'll be going to a tapas restaurant that we tried with a few others about a year ago. it will be good! we're also having a mix cd exchange with our friends in the group. so we've spent this week carefully choosing songs (ie, fighting about whether lee hazlewood makes it or if the parenthetical girls gets axed. there were some heated moments) and making some cover art. my husband made a cute little collage of a little girl walking through a pile of leaves, and i embroidered this:

i'm not the most skillful embroiderer, but i was going for kind of a rustic look anyway, and i like how it turned out (obviously it wouldn't hurt with a little ironing). i used this for the first time - what a weird little tool! i decided in the end that it was actually easier and more durable to use a good old fashioned needle and thread, but it was an interesting experiment. we have one more cover to do tomorrow - it will be a felt piece. i'll post pictures later!

Monday, December 11, 2006

acorns and ice cream

not much knitting going on around here - i'm wrapping up a scarf for a swap, which i should finish this week, but other than that, i haven't touched the second lichen ribbed sock, or started any of the other projects that i was supposedly making for christmas presents. i just don't feel like it!

that doesn't mean i haven't been busy making other things though. i spent the past two evenings with my gocco, making some cute little notecard sets to give as gifts. the acorn and leaf screen printed a little weird - when i burned the image onto the screen, the screen really lifted the carbon from the original. like, completely. i've never had that happen before, but it meant that when i printed the cards with that screen, there was a weird textural thing going on - two different shades of brown. i decided i like it anyway. these will dry overnight then i'll wrap them up with the envelopes with some light green ribbon and there you have it! easy presents.

i also made my first project from the crafter's companion last night - a cute little ice cream pin cushion. for such a simple project, i had a few more issues than i expected. mostly, i bought what i thought was the right size pot for the cone, but it was actually a little bigger than that called for in the pattern. so the template for the scoops were a little too small. i had to just make up my own pattern, and i still think i could have made the scoops a bit bigger. they look a little small and flat, and don't entirely fill the cone. but i love the fabric i used (from superbuzzy), and once i glue the scoops into the cone and find a bead for the cherry, i think this will be a perfectly cute little object to have sitting by my sewing machine.

that's it for now...i'm working on another little craft project that i should have done tomorrow probably - it's some pretty fancy mix cd art! pictures of that later on this week.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

..and we're back!

yay, i'm home! we got home last night around 11 p.m. considering we started our travels (it's a long drive to gatwick from my hubby's parent's house) at the equivalent of midnight seattle time, that was 23 hours of long, grueling travel. and did i mention i don't like flying?! we almost missed our connecting flight in houston but made it with just minutes to spare. *relief*

we had a good time, but i am SO glad to be home. england is so expensive, and to this west coast girl, lacks the the wide open spaces and greenery that i've realized i need. still, i got to experience my first cream tea at a little seaside town near norwich, and we got to see lots of our friends there as well. sharon took me to a tiny little yarn store in london, too, which was fun. i was good - i only bought a single ball of rooster almerino aran in the perfect coral red. i think i will make a pair of fetching for me with this. i also picked up the cutest pair of childrens knitting needles at a department store for only a pound! that is one thing i love about the uk - their department stores have craft and yarn departments!

i also received for christmas from my mother-in-law the crafters companion. i am so excited to have this book! it's not out here in the states yet i don't think, and i've had my eye on it for ages. i want to make practically everything in it, but just this morning i ordered some fabric from superbuzzy with the intention of making the ice cream cone pin cushion and the log cabin pillow first. i also really want to make the market bag sewing machine needs to get more use!

knitting was done on the trip, though maybe not as much as i'd hoped. i could knit on my flight over to the uk, but not on the way back. so on the flight, and a little bit during the week, i completed one of the lichen ribbed socks in cherry cordial yarntini. i really love it! the stripeyness is so perfect. and not using a knitted cast on made a world of difference. i don't think i love the welsh heel - it fits my own heel in kind of a weird way. but other than that, it's perfect, and i'll start on the second one this week for sure.

and finally, i'll just leave with some pictures of all the treats we brought back! mmm...percy pigs and elderflower cordial, i love you! look at that table of candy - we went totally nuts! but we can't get any of those things here, at least not as cheaply (we've found some things at british import stores). and, um, it's not all for us.

anyway, it's really good to be back! i'm off work today so i'm going to do laundry and buy groceries and go get a burrito and catch up on my netflix!