Thursday, December 23, 2010

December 23rd

It's December 23rd and I know where my happiness is. I've got 178 days to the longest day of the year and the beginning of the heat. Yeehaw!

The sky was pretty gray this morning as I walked the dogs and cat. Yet it was awesome not wearing socks and needing only a light jacket. I look forward to this time of year when the days start to get longer and the ground freezes so that the animals don't track in muck.

Oh, here's to the simple pleasures in life: a little less muck.


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Malabrigo Worsted in the Applewood Colorway


It won't be long until I'm despairing the lack of vibrancy and color in the outside world. Until then I will extol the freedoms that winter brings:

Remarkably less feelings of guilt while sitting indoors watching movies/knitting/playing video games. The 45 minutes it now takes to blow my hair out will be wasted 5%, rather than 95% of the time. Woolly socks and sweaters every day if I want!

Yeah! And Christmas. It's almost Christmas.

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Malabrigo Rios in the Agua Colorway



I've had a pretty fantastic Christmas. December has always been a magical time. My birthday is in the middle of the month, always the week for finals testing when I was in school, and now that I'm a working lady, always when my quarterly numbers need to be in. Oh, and I have a nephew born two days after me.

I've taken 35 years of this on the chin. I have not begrudged it. I was blessed with a love of Christmas. This year I took stock of this blessing and I came to the conclusion that my birthday was the entire month, or at least the first 25 days of it and this made it even more special.

One Sunday we went out to dinner at a fancy schmancy restaurant. Another weekend hubby and I took our first (hopefully not last!) snowboarding lesson. In between we were able to spoil my nephew who, like me and the hubby, is coming to intimate terms with how us Decemberists don't really get the birthday that other kids (and adults!) do.

Hubby's birthday is next week. Much worse off than the middle of the monther's. Now that I'm just about all done being Christmas genie extraordinaire, it will be time to spoil him. Here's to hoping I do a smashing job.




Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Evenstar. Part 2 of ??

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(Me and the swift and winder aren't on the best of terms.)



Several variables of the Evenstar project have fallen effortlessly (cough, cough) into place. One of these is the yarn I have chosen to use, Madelinetosh's Pashmina. Pashmina is a fingering weight yarn in an intoxicating concoction of 75% superwash wool, 15% silk, and 10% cashmere. I am using the Filigree colorway.

How I became the owner of six skeins of this yarn is a tale as old as Christmas. I purchased a crapload of Pashmina from Kaleidescope Yarns - the most excessive being three skeins of the Filigree - on September 5, 2010. On September 11 I began an Ishbel with a skein of the Filigree and became so intoxicated with the yarn and the colorway I was moved to buy the three remaining skeins they had in this colorway.

Now was three all they had left? I think so, but my memory is shit. I just remember thinking that I had to have enough of this yarn and 1080 yards wasn't enough. Not enough. 2160 yards seemed the more appropriate yardage. :/

Is it anyone wonder that I never added this addition to my rav stash? (Still haven't...better get crackin'.) I accepted the fact that I had been bamboozled by yarn fumes and didn't need any recorded proof of the crazeh. It was easy enough to hide this in my stash closet and pretend I did not have a yarn stashing problem.

So last week sometime I became obsessed with starting this pattern and I crawled the net vendors of fingering merino/silk yarns. I found nothing to inspire. Some yarn was almost purchased, but I held firm, kept looking until I gave up. And then I remembered the Filigree and didn't I purchase more of that yarn than I actually needed? OhyesIdid! OMG!!!! I have the perfect amount. Except

Except
Except
Except.

There is one itty bitty witty problem. This is an indie dyed yarn and the chances that my five plus skeins will vary considerably are near 100%. This project has no room for modesty. I am knitting an heirloom. (I wasn't able to provide real, live, human heirs, lol, but sure as heck I'm going to birth something goshdarnit!) It's gonna be hard to knit an heirloom with mismatching skeins.

Should I even try?

Of course I should. Boundaries are there to crossed. I am ready to cross them. I am up to the task. And if I don't succeed I can always try again. That, or I can check myself into a posh retreat for a few weeks "rest." It's only yarn.

Yarn...

So I took the yarn to work and used my lunch hour to open the skeins, spread 'em out, and pick an order to knit them. The picture below indicates the order I chose. And having the genius foresight to cake them all up to make sure this order worked, well, foresight is a good thing:


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I found a lot more red in skeins I had deemed conforming. In fact I found the kind of red that outrages knitters who buy expensive, indie dyed yarns. In the picture below consider the center dark spot to be the center of a clock. The red spot is around 4 O'clock.


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I caked these up in the wee hours of last Saturday morning. As I wound and wound and fought (successfully!) with my winder and swift, I pondered. Am I making the right choice using a yarn that may be significantly flawed?

I may not be acquiescing to loving a vampire who is nearly too cold to touch, hard as rock, and, preposterously enough, SPARKLES like glitter in sunlight, but I am not immune to liking things others would find defective or technically flawed.

I love this yarn and I love it's red spots. If I wanted the dull symmetry of matching skeins I would have bought a commercially prepared yarn. I don't want that. That isn't me. That type of yarn will not keep my inspiration on yard 1798 of 1800 of this project.


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Monday, December 6, 2010

Evenstar. Part I of ??

So I'm finally doing some "real" knitting (pronounced like the real part of realpolitik). And I think I'm going to do some "real" knit blogging about it.

I'm challenging myself after a long, long period of comfort knitting. I have begun my Evenstar and it has returned my Christmas joy.

In the past week I have

a) chosen the pattern I hope to enter into the 2011 Topsfield Fair
b) knit two (read it and weep lazy knittahs! not one but two!) swatches of the star pattern
c) found the perfect yarn in my stash!!! (Ergo, I'm frugal AND I can start on the project while my excitement burns brightest!)
d) analyzed my yarn for the optimal order in which to knit the skeins
e) begun project; and finally
f) continue to bask in the glow of my accomplishments to date!

So first up in this "real" blogging event: the swatches.


Swatch 1:

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The swatches are knit in spare Lana Grossa Meilenweit 50 Seta/Cashmere, leftovers from my first pair of La Digitessas. I had two 48 gram balls leftover from the original skeins and they knit up perfectly into the two swatches.

My main thought on this fingering weight yarn while knitting the swatches is how friggin' splitty the yarn is. I can't even imagine how I got through the sixty thousand twisted and a bazillian gillian twisted CABLED stitches of the Digitessa pattern. Using much larger needles than the yarn calls for, it was splitting like it's life depended on it. Imagine using US0s, which is the size I began the Digitessa's on? Madness. Twisted, splitty madness.

So the above is an in-progress shot of the first swatch, knit using US7s. The swatch was dry blocked. The Evenstar stitch is knitted in the first suggested version of what the author, Susan Pandorf, calls the INCR7 K3tog stitch. It's like a tiny little fist, tense and ready for action.

Swatch 1 was knit lightening fast, with little problem. Swatch 2? Notsomuch.

Swatch 2:

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I knit a second swatch to try out the two alternate methods of the Evenstar stitch. The swatch was knit on US8s and was soaked before blocking. The center version I butchered and did not go back and fix b/c I knew I had two more tries. Here are close ups of the designers version 2 and version 3, respectively, of the Evenstar stitch pattern.


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For once luck was on my side. I really prefer the look of version 3, the one that doesn't look like a fist, and version 3 is the easiest of the three to knit.

With that done I was chomping at the bit to begin!

But that's a whole 'nother story.

See ya next time Kiddies! Remember, the best way to spread Christmas cheer is to sing very loud for all to hear.








Thursday, December 2, 2010

Talkin' Smack, Baby







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Madelinetosh Vintage in the Fragrant Colorway



You know I've been dying to talk smack about Elizabeth Zimmerman. I have such a well of resentment towards the Zimmerman-industrial-knitting-sycophant-complex, it overfloweth. I need to drain it. But.

But.
But.
But.

It's not ready. Not yet.

But I'm hoping to be. Some day. Either that or I'll get over my desire. And I'm kinda positive that either prospect will work for me.

What I'd rather talk about is the opposite end of the spectrum, a knit designer worth underwriting. I don't read her blog or follow her on ravelry or elsewhere, but I've been drawn to her patterns time and again and this week I finally got off my duff and purchased three. The designer is Susan Pandorf. That patterns I purchased are Evenstar, Rivendell, and Snowdrift.

Temperamentally, I am more like the matter-of-fact Zimmerman than the unicorn and rainbows Pandorf, but when it comes to getting you're money's worth, Pandorf's designs involve actual designing.


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Manos del Uruguay Silky Merino



I have dealt with some guilt in the past for poaching the "designs" of working knitters. I have also dealt with some uncharitable feelings towards designers charging money for commonplace patterns. Case in point, I love the Shetland Triangle, but for a newbie it will cost you $8.95 for a pattern straight out of a stitchionary. It is not a very original design, it is a popular design. It is not a very difficult lace pattern and it is deliciously addictive pattern. So yes, it is worth $8.95 in that sense.

And knit designers aren't philanthropists, yadda yadda yadda. I know. I've read the rav drama. I've gotten perverse enjoyment out of it heheheh. But still a little voice inside of me thinks people who buy the pattern are getting ripped off. Hey, that's my gut feeling. I understand the contrary opinion, too.

And Pandorf isn't immune either, she's offering a pattern that looks structurally similar to the Shetland Triangle for $8.00. Ripoff.

For the same $8.00 you can get her pièce de résistance, the Evenstar. I've been eyeballing this pattern since the end of the mystery KAL. It's a lifetime achievement knit. It's the pattern that will deserve the Best in Show ribbon from my county fair, whether or not I actually win it.

Now I won't know if I'm up to it until I try it, but there is such a happiness in my heart knowing that this pattern is worth it.


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my half-knitted Evenstar swatch



True to my punk rock spirit, I am going to go with a heavier weight yarn and think of the end product as an afghan. A round, lace, shawl has no use in my world. Now all I have to do is find the puuuurrrrfect yarn.

Life's tough, eh? Hahahah!






 

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